I support Gary Johnson. But maybe you shouldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

July 29, 2016

With the official selection of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the major party nominees, more Americans than ever before are looking into the long-ignored Libertarian and Green parties. I’ve identified with the Libertarian Party since I first became aware of them in 2012, and held many of their ideals (while calling myself a “moderate Republican”) for years before that. Though I only came of voting age last August, I’ve long been adamant that I would always support the candidate who I felt was best, regardless of their odds. In essence, I refused to vote for the lesser of two evils. People used to tell me that I’d be wasting my vote by supporting a third party candidate. On the contrary, I’ve always believed that it’d be an even bigger waste for me to throw my vote to a candidate I didn’t really believe in.

I’m sure a lot of Americans genuinely believe that Trump or Clinton are the best thing for this country. And, disagree with it as I may, that’s fine. I may try and challenge someone else’s ideals, but I’d never ask that they vote against them. However, it’s become abundantly clear that the major party candidates are garnering less enthusiastic support than they have in a long time. The Republican and Democratic parties are more fractured than ever before, as even longtime members find themselves questioning their respective nominees. To those on the fence, I implore you to explore other options. For me, that other option turned out to be Gary Johnson, an excellent candidate who I’ve been proud to stand for since his first presidential run four years ago.

That said, I don’t want you to throw your support behind him. At least, not immediately. Depending on which issues matter most to you, Johnson may or may not be a good fit. Do your research. Maybe you side more with Jill Stein, the other third party candidate with enough ballot access to potentially win. Or maybe you’ll come to find that Clinton or Trump really is your best choice after all.

Would I like you to support my preferred candidate? Absolutely! But only if you genuinely believe in his cause over all the others. If not, then you must continue your search. Avoiding a “wasted vote” doesn’t mean picking blue or red, or yellow or green. It only means that you’ve voted for the right candidate for you. Regardless of who it’s for, a well-considered vote is never a wasted vote. But a vote you don’t believe in always is.

Your vote is important. Please don’t waste it.

PS: If you’d like to start looking into the candidates and their views relative to your own, ISideWith.com is a great resource. I first used it when trying to decide between Obama and Romney in 2012, and ended up discovering Gary Johnson’s candidacy instead. Take the quiz, the results might surprise you.

Four New Stories!

August 20, 2015

Well, three new stories and a satirical memo. And they’re not really new, they were all written some time ago and just never ended up online for some reason… But still! They’re here now!

So what have I concocted this time? Let’s have a look see:

Songbird Is Dead
When his former partner is killed, masked vigilante Shadow Rider is forced to return to the dangerous Gedagate City to investigate. Meanwhile, a teenager named Maxwell begins to experience bizarre personality changes in the wake of his parents’ nasty divorce.

They Have No Idea
A P.I. goes undercover in an apartment complex that’s suspected to be a front for a mafia drug operation. However, it’s actually filled with actors in a carefully crafted fiction designed to bring him over to the mob’s side.

In Defense of National Defense
Some people are claiming that the NSA infringes on people’s rights and fails to effectively protect this great nation. It’s time to prove those goddamn commies wrong!

Mind Over Matter
A telepathic teenager attempts to help a stranger get over his fear of heights, with disastrous consequences.

So there you have it. If you do read any of these pieces, be sure to get in touch and let me know what you think! Spencer out.

Even a broken clock’s right twice a day.

August 19, 2015

Hell, sometimes it can even be right three or four times. Okay, not an actual broken clock, but in this case I’m using the “broken clock” as a metaphor for third wave feminists, so it obviously won’t translate perfectly. After all, #YesAllWomen are #NotYourTimepieces.

I’m referring specifically to a speech given at my freshman college orientation by Laci Green (no relation to myself, obviously). I’m not terribly familiar with her work, but I’ve heard her name thrown around with the likes of Jessica Valenti and Amanda Marcotte, so I expected that same level of disaster from her. Not even close.

Now, that’s not to say I found her presentation to be particularly great, but there’s no denying that some of her points were very much valid. To be perfectly honest, anyone who condemns sexual assault makes a valid point; I highly doubt the opinion that “rape is bad” is in any way controversial. Seriously, letting people keep their privates private is just basic human decency. That said, merely professing that “rape is bad” isn’t really worthy of comment. The question that really needs answering is “How do we stop it?” That is (or at least should be) the meat of any speech on this topic. So what were her suggestions?

Firstly, I must applaud Green’s take on the issue of gender attributes assigned during childhood. When I first saw the words “Gender Roles” flash on screen in her PowerPoint, I will admit to shuddering a little bit. Far too often I have seen feminists turn this into an issue of what movies/toys/colors/etc. is marketed to what gender of children. Sure, Disney Princesses/dolls/pink are marketed mostly to girls and superheroes/Hot Wheels/blue are marketed mostly to boys, but I fail to see the feminist issue in that. Sure, these products are marketed that way, but that doesn’t mean they can only be used that way. Hell, a girl wearing a blue superhero costume certainly wouldn’t attract as much attention as a boy wearing a pink princess dress.

Obviously, this wasn’t a speech about kids’ toys. Green’s explanation of gender roles had to go through a lens of how they relate to the issue of sexual assault. And honestly, I think she did a fairly decent job of it. A lot of this section of her speech focused on the concept of the “macho man” who is strong, stoic, dominant, and yes, who gets laid a lot. She claimed this ingrained image to be the root cause of many societal problems for both men and women, and it was honestly quite refreshing. I myself have long suspected it to be at least part of the reason for the significantly higher suicide rate of men as opposed to women. She even mentioned that the macho man stereotype often leads to the misconception that men cannot be sexually assaulted! I can’t ever recall seeing another third wave feminist admit that.

However, it wasn’t all good. Part of Green’s evidence for the existence of “rape culture” consisted of the numerous rape threats she herself has received, as well as examples from social media of people disparaging rape victims. I found this element of her presentation to be unconvincing at best and downright disingenuous at worst. I certainly don’t agree with the people sending Laci Green rape threats on the internet, but it’s not really evidence of anything other than that there are often loud, angry assholes lurking behind the anonymity of a computer monitor. It’s not unique to her, after all, Milo Yiannopoulos had to cancel a speech due to a bomb threat just a few days ago and John Bain (better known as “TotalBiscuit”) has stated that he “received death threats on a monthly basis”. She appeared to insinuate that the threats she received were somehow related to her work as an anti-sexual-assault activist, but they’re really just a product of her being moderately well known. It happens to everyone of that status. As for the random people on the internet disparaging rape victims, well, Ben Folds has already said it better than I ever could. Anyone that classless is either (a) looking for attention, or (b) too dumb to bother trying to deal with anyway.

This brings me to my final, and by far biggest, problem with Laci Green’s presentation: her call for stronger enforcement of sexual assault regulations. According to her, the average rapist will claim six victims before being brought to justice. She used this as evidence that enforcement is lacking and that there was “no accountability” for rapists. Assuming the “six victims” statistic is true (she also cited the “one in four” figure, which isn’t), her argument must be valid, right? Not so fast. Sure, some colleges do attempt to cover up sexual assaults in order to preserve their reputations, but six-victim-rapists could still very well be an issue even with genuine attempts at enforcement. The thing is, rape is a difficult crime to prove. It often occurs in private, causing many cases to boil down to “he said, she said” situations. And honestly, “she said” is just not enough to warrant a punishment without other evidence. The foundation of the American justice system is the presumption that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Without strong evidence of guilt, there cannot be a conviction. To make “he said, she said” cases more viable for prosecution, and therefore catch more rapists early, we would need to relax the burden of proof, raising the potential for false convictions. And that is simply not acceptable to me. I’d rather see a thousand rapists run free than one innocent person convicted. Period.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, the PowerPoint slide about politicians supporting rape culture was just a big Republican logo. Way to be impartial there, Laci…

So, I got a piece of paper yesterday…

June 27, 2015

It’s a very nice piece of paper, I’ll give it that. It’s high quality cardstock, complete with raised letters printed in rich, shiny, black ink. But ultimately, it’s still just a piece of paper. So why am I so damn excited about it? Am I even excited, or do I just think I am because everyone else says I should be? I think it’s something else. I think what I, and probably 300-something other graduates right now, are feeling is a strange combination of excitement, confusion, and dread.

What’s next?

Up until now, that question has always had a simple, quick, and easy answer. Finished with kindergarten? Go to first grade. Finished first grade? Continue to second. And so on, until you’ve completed twelfth grade. Senior year. The final swan song for everything you’ve accomplished in your life thus far. Once that’s done, there is nothing left to do. There’s no thirteenth grade to move on to, no defined path left to take. But if you don’t do anything, you’ll either die or end up as a miserable leech. In the grand scheme of things, there is never nothing left to do. Every time you finish one task, another pops up to take it’s place. It just so happens this time around that the next task is “decide what to do with the rest of your life”. Not intimidating at all…

If there isn’t nothing left to do, then what is there? Here’s the thing: a concrete answer to that question simply doesn’t exist. Humans need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. It doesn’t matter how you do it, if you get those three things, you will be able to continue your existence. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Much of it is quite nice icing, icing without which society as we know it couldn’t exist, but it’s still icing. You could live like a hermit in the woods, completely isolated from everyone else, and you’d still be alright if you managed to find those three vital items. The essentials are mandatory. Everything else is up to you. Forge your own path, or walk in the footsteps of the masses who passed through before. Stand on the shoulders of giants to reach previously unseen heights, or build a staircase to the clouds all your own. There are literally limitless possibilities. Unfortunately, for most of us, that’s the problem.

I’m excited because I can choose any path I want. I’m confused because I’m not sure exactly which one to take. I dread what could happen if I make the wrong choice. And if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say any other recent grads reading this feel that way too. So here’s my philosophy: just pick a path and run. I know it’s scary, there’s a reason I mentioned dread earlier after all. But I, just like everyone else, will have to work past that. Do or die time comes later. Right now, it’s just do time. So, ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2015, I ask you one simple question:

What are you going to do?

A new day, a new CMS

September 1, 2014

I’ve spent the last few days moving the backend of my website from the custom system it previously ran on to WordPress, a popular open-source content management system (CMS). The new, WordPress powered version of the site officially launched last night, bringing with it a couple of notable changes. Here’s the overview:

Don’t Let the Madness Fade Away

August 11, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

1951 – 2014

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

The above quotation has adorned my about page since this website launched and has been my intended senior yearbook quote for even longer. Never has one simple statement so eloquently described more or less my entire philosophy on life. And I doubt I’m alone in this. The desire to remain creative, unusual, and individualistic is likely strong in many people, and probably exists to some extent in everyone else. I don’t believe anyone can ever be completely unique, there are just too many people in the world for that to be possible. However, I also don’t believe anyone can ever be exactly like anyone else. No one fits any mold perfectly, and that’s a good thing. If an assembly line robot breaks, it is simply replaced. Nothing of true value is lost. These mindless automatons bring nothing new to the table, they just go through the motions, doing exactly as they’re told, exactly what their predecessors did, and exactly what their successors will do.

Humans are not like that. Like Williams said, everyone has a spark of madness. But not everyone does the same thing with it. Some people nurture their spark, using it to unleash groundbreaking levels of creativity. These people become the great artists and thinkers of the world. What do Bill Gates and Robert Rodriguez have in common? Look no further than that. The vast majority, however, don’t go this far. Like it or not, most of us will end up stuck doing mindless, repetitive work, whether as a blue collar janitor or a white collar pencil pusher. Despite this, the spark of madness lives on. Maybe in the used car salesman who plays in a rock band after work. Maybe in the barista developing the next big smartphone app. Maybe even in the construction worker who, while staring at the world below from the top of an unfinished skyscraper, comes up with an idea all his own.

Robin Williams is gone. He is not an assembly line robot, and cannot be replaced. His legacy, however, is far from over. People still watch his movies. They laugh at his comedic roles and are moved by his dramatic ones. That will not change for a long time. The madness that made him special will never be replicated perfectly in anyone else, it’s gone forever. But the concept of madness will live on. It was here before Robin Williams existed, and will remain here even after his passing. Williams’ legacy is one of immense creativity. He took full advantage of all the madness he had in him to do great things. But you don’t have to be the next Robin Williams to channel yours as well. Every time you do something creative, unique, unexpected, or individual, you’re demonstrating the madness that makes you more valuable than an automaton. Always be creating. Whether you want to tell a story, build a gadget, make someone laugh, or just have a good time, keep doing it. There are no rules or limits on what you can come up with, except for the ones you place on yourself. It doesn’t matter if you go completely off the wall or just a bit out of the ordinary. It just matters that you go somewhere. It just matters that you don’t let your spark of madness die.

Rest in peace Robin Williams. You will be missed, but the impact you’ve made will live on.

A quick update…

August 8, 2014

I’ve been trying to make a movie since fifth grade, and have attempted it a few times in the past. However, only my most recent attempt, Hunter, came even remotely close to actually being filmed. Unfortunately, it still failed, largely due to script problems.

In an attempt to fix that, I’ve written an entirely new script, tentatively titled Everyone and No One, though I may change that. A few of the characters from Hunter have been carried over, but the storyline and the rest of the characters are new. As it stands now, the script still has a few issues I’d like to address, which I will in the coming days. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of another full rewrite. All the actors I know will soon begin working a Shakespeare production scheduled to premiere in December, so if I’m going to make this work, it’s got to be soon. Not everything can be perfect.

Now for the good news: Everyone and No One should be a lot easier for me to film than Hunter would’ve been. It has a significantly smaller main cast, and was written with locations I can easily get in mind. Despite all this, making a movie still won’t be easy. As the great Teddy Roosevelt (and the not-quite-as-great Bob Kelso) once said, nothing worth doing is easy. Though I don’t completely agree with this principle (there are some easy things I quite enjoy), it certainly applies here.

Only time will tell if this goes well. Wish me luck.

Close, but no cigar. Or: How I learned to keep worrying and avoid no smoking zones.

May 29, 2014

As you may know, I’ve been working on a film called Hunter for some time. Many of the main roles have been cast, and I had initially planned for principal photography to commence in June.

That’s just not gonna happen.

What went wrong? Am I going to fix it? If so, how? The best way to answer these questions is to start at the beginning. Here’s the brief story of the production of Hunter, as it has unfolded so far:

In December 2013, Sam Gibney, a stage actor friend of mine, wanted to star in a movie, so he asked me to write and direct his film debut. I agreed and set to work on what would become my first feature screenplay, though at 64 pages it can barely be called that.

I finished the first draft in early April and immediately began moving forward on production. There was no time for script revision. Sam was scheduled to be away from late June to early August, so I was hoping to shoot before then. He used his connections to the local theater scene to get a few other incredible stage actors interested in the project, the majority of whom would be away at the same time as him. This only strengthened my resolve to get the film shot quickly.

Unfortunately, the production had begun to run into problems by late May. I was having trouble casting most of the smaller roles, I hadn’t yet assembled an equipment kit, and there were still locations to secure and sets to build. Sam and I continued forward trying to make everything fall in to place, but all the time my mind kept going back to one thing: the unrevised script. I was worried that what I had written was too sloppy, unclear, and implausible to make a decent movie. I managed to keep this wavering confidence at bay for a while, but a scathing review in a writers’ forum instantly sucker punched me out of it. I lost all confidence in the screenplay and, together with Sam, decided to indefinitely suspend production.

I’m currently evaluating my options as far as this project goes; I haven’t yet decided weather to fix this script or write something new. It doesn’t matter which, I will make a movie of some kind before I graduate from high school, even if it’s the last thing I do. This is something I’ve dreamed of since fifth grade. With Sam’s help, I came close enough on this attempt to taste it. Next time, I’m taking a full bite.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

Fine, fine, fine, I’ll write a blogpost about that

April 27, 2014

One of my friends (possibly jokingly) asked me several times to write a blogpost about how good she is at pre-calc. I’ve decided to humor her and actually do it. So here goes nothing…

Her pre-calculus knowledge usually appears to be roughly equivalent to my own, but is sometimes more advanced and sometimes less advanced. Different people are good at different things, that’s nothing unusual. I do have to cut her a bit of slack though, as I attend almost every class while she always seems to miss Mondays for some reason. She must be getting the notes somewhere, as this doesn’t appear to affect her skill much. It is important to note that I’m inferring all of this from our usually similar test scores, but that may not be the whole story.

Talent in a subject is either natural or acquired, in this subject, mine is largely natural. While I may be able to solve a certain problem in my sleep (no wonder I’m not sleeping very well), to solve the same problem, she may have to go to the center of the Earth, slay the dragon that guards the molten core, use its mythical fires to forge a nuclear space pod, then send it on a collision course with the Sun, where it will surely cause an explosion that will wipe out the universe as we know it. She must then use this impending annihilation to blackmail the President of Molossia into using his diplomatic connectons to solve the problem for her. Do note that this is all wild speculation, though the fact reamins that some people have to put forth more effort than others.

I guess the point I’m trying to make with all this is: Maddy, get your own blog so you don’t have to go through my bizarre mind next time you want to post something about yourself.

It’s been a long time. How have you been? I’ve been really busy…

April 21, 2014

…not being dead. Even though my old blog hasn’t been updated in over a year, I’ve still remained active on Twitter, and I’ve been building this shiny new site for myself. All the posts from my old blog have migrated over*, as for my old website, that’s been nuked from orbit and shall fortunately never be seen again. So, what have I been up to for the past year? Quite a bit, actually.

After the release of City Block, I embarked on several different game projects, unfortunately none of them were ever completed. One of them actually got quite far along in development, but it just wasn’t fun enough, and I didn’t want to release a subpar product. After a few more failed projects, I became a bit tired of game development and dialed back my efforts somewhat. That said, I still develop games, but not nearly as actively as I did before. In other game-related news, City Block and Invasion Breaker are free now. Huzzah!

If I haven’t been making games lately, then what have I been doing? Well, back in December, an actor friend of mine asked me to write a film for him to star in. As an aspiring screenwriter and director, I jumped at the chance and began working on the script for Hunter in my spare time. I finished the script and wrote up a casting call a few weeks ago, and I hope to begin filming soon!

That’s not all, I’ve got some exciting stuff planned for the future, so be sure to stay tuned and check out what’s to come!

*UPDATE 8/29/2014: I have switched to a new CMS program and have decided not to migrate any pre-2014 blogposts. Those will continue to live on my old blog. For more info on that, see here.