State of The Quan

Okay. I’ve had a number of things happen that have dictated a change in direction for this blog, and this site, and the Bahamut Ali brand in general. So let’s do a “State of the Quan address” for 1st quarter 2016.

  1. The indefinite sabbatical of “The Seizure” has turned into a full-out shelving. I posted my last page on theseizure.com recently, along with my farewell blog post. In a nutshell, I have four more chapters written, but absolutely zero motivation to do the artwork or update the site. Also, I’m letting that site die. All is has been since I foolishly got my google account canceled was a showcase of my wordpress design ability, and I have better examples of that on other sites. If/when I repost all of my Seizure comics, it will be on a free webcomic host.
  2. In the meantime, I still have my MUCH easier to update spinoff webcomic, “Weekend Heroes” available! I just started posting the next story in that webcomic, and I have at least one more planned before that story is finished. Check it out here.
  3. I recently fond out that Red Rose Publishing, the company that published my e-novel Double Entry, is out of business, and has been for the last year. I’ll always appreciate Wendi Felter for giving my book a chance, but I think ti was kind of foul that she didn’t let a bruh know. But I still want my book to be available, so I did the next logical thing: I published the book myself. And now, unlike then, it’s availalbe in print as well as on Kindle. If you haven’t scooped your copy yet, go to this link and do so now!
  4. Development on the new album has slowed down to a crawl. Getting the time to really focus on getting a final mix I like has been the main obstacle, as well as finding the time to do the last couple of illustrations for the chapbook. I can say, though, that the “official score” is ready for upload. I just need to find the time to do it. And is it appropo to make the instrumentals available before the actual album? I don’t know.
  5. I am still creating, though. I’m currently 40,000 words apiece deep into not one, but TWO novels I am writing. They are both high fantasy, but with distinctly different twists. One is “Return of the Tyrant” which is a traditional high fantasy story about a hero having to join forces with his archnemesis to defeat a larger foe. it’s supposed to be the first book in a series. The other novel is “NEEDLE,” which is a high fantasy quest story, set in the Southside of Chicago. I’m having a lot of fun writing both, and I alternate between them: I write a chapter for one, then switch to the other.
  6. I am still looking for proofreaders for my literary manuscript “Queen of Hearts, King of Spades.” I think once I get a draft I like, I’m going to go the self=publishing route with that story, too. If you’re interested in reading a love story about two college sweethearts dealing with the harsh realities of post-grad life, get at me.
  7. Now for the BIG announcement: I am overhauling this website. I created this version as a showcase of my understanding of HTML5. But things and times have changed. I usually unveil a new site every few years, and with some of my links going haywire, now is as good a time as any to unveil a new one. Besides, the old site is not responsive at all, and that’s important. So the next time you see a post from this blog, it will be on a shiny new site design. Thanks for your patience guys. It shall be rewarded.

An Open letter to a Comrade in Prison

To everyone: one of my graphic design clients is a guy who is nearing the end of a 20-year stint in prison. He partnered with a  buddy on the inside to start a small independent street lit publishing company. Midway through, he had a crisis of faith and backed out to pursue other projects. But as of late, he’s been pursuing some questionable ventures.

 

Dear Friend,

 

I hope you get this message in good spirits. I’ve been concerned about you, and I’m not the only one. I’ve talked with both your wife and your former business partner, and they’ve both voiced concern about the direction you’ve been going in as of late.

I’m going to be completely honest with you, man. I wasn’t feeling your ideas for writing erotica, and I wasn’t particularly enthused about your idea for a lingerie and porn review site. I’ve told you that I struggled for years with an addiction to pornography, and exposing myself to that again, even in the name of business, would be a very bad move for me. I didn’t outright turn you down for that because of our professional relationship (and because I needed the money), but I really didn’t want to be involved and I actually prayed for a way out of this situation without damaging our relationship. I was blessed with a new client which negated my need for the money, and your liaison never sent me the down payment for the website anyway, so I consider my prayer answered.

But that was my own personal feelings about this. I’m concerned about you.

When you were first incarcerated, you gave your life to Christ, and have been working diligently to stay true in your walk with him. He has seen you through your sentence, and now you are on the verge of going home. You have a faithful, supportive wife who is waiting for your return with open arms, too. You backed out of your Street lit venture because the people you were dealing with in your ministry were uncomfortable with you being identified with the wanton crime, sex, profanity and violence that comes out of those books. I also thought you personally felt that wasn’t the direction you should be going in. If I am wrong, and you changed because of pressure from your circle, then you need to simply admit your mistake and get back to doing what is comfortable for you. But if this truly was a personal decision on your part, then I am concerned that you’ve given up on the course you have decided to take and are reverting back to your old ways.

I explained to both your friend and your wife that I thought you were panicking a little. You are close to being released back into society, and you are uncertain of the future awaiting you when you get out. Convicted felons have a hard time finding employment once they get out, and you’ve got children and a wife to support. So you want to make sure you have a legal source of income waiting for you when you are released, so you can avoid the temptation to go back into the streets. Your more wholesome ventures were slow to get off the ground, so now you’re trying to think of a more expedient way to set yourself up. This is what I think is going through your head, and I understand why you would feel that way.

But to that, I have to give you a two word rebuttal:

Trust God.

If the direction you originally wanted to go in was a decision you made from your heart, then I say stick with it no matter how hard or uncertain the results look. God put that in you for a reason, and now is not the time to abandon it for what might seem right now like an easier solution. YHWH wouldn’t have given you that revelation if he hadn’t provided a way for you to see that through. But you have to have faith that it will work out. You have a finished Christian novel in “Loveless Heart” ready for publication, and once you come home, you have a plethora of inexpensive ways to publish your book. And with your background and the success you had in the streets, I’m quite sure you will have no trouble promoting your book and getting people to buy it. And all of the other ideas you had that never came to fruition are still there for you to develop, but now you can do the legwork to get them going instead of hoping someone on the outside can set everything up for you. Yes, it will take some time to get these things off of the ground, but the payoff would be much greater, and you’ll have a much cleaner conscience about it when it does. You have a great asset in your wife; I’m sure she will help you get established and employed once you return home, and even if you’re not making a lot, between the two of you, with God’s help, you should be able to keep your heads above water until one of your ventures takes off.

Don’t give up now, man. Don’t compromise. Trust your vision, and trust God.

 

Your brother in Christ,

 

Quan.

Brand Evil

Okay, here’s a new addition to the whole “do we watch it or does it watch us?” debate. As a culture that grew up worshiping the old boob tube, a lot of the older folk complain about the lost morality of modern society. TV is often blamed for this, with its nonstop barrage of sex, violence, materialism and amorality saturating the minds of its viewers. We as a culture have desensitized ourselves to all of this to the point where we think a lot less of our entertainment if it does not pander to our most base instincts. In this way we are no more civilized or advanced than the ancient Romans clamoring for bloodshed in the coliseums over 2000 years ago, which is pretty damned sad, when you think about it.

But my observation comes from something more subtle. In the hours upon hours of Television you have seen, you have probably not paid attention to this. But I think this overlooked element may actually have a worse affect on you and your children’s behavior more than the most raunchy, violent or disturbing episodes of Sopranos or Sex in the City or the softcore porn they show on most music videos. At least you can choose not to watch those shows: this is unavoidable.

I’m talking about your TV commercials.

Those incessant, annoying but oftentimes funny-as-heck short spots that you actually see more than your programming. Didn’t realize that, did you? In the time it took you to watch one hour of your favorite show, you’ve seen about three or four different commercials trying to sell you stuff, all at least twice. And that’s not counting the ads you’ve seen on other shows, between shows and product placement during shows.

Why is that important? Because the behavior shown on most TV commercials is actually worse than on most TV shows, because bad behavior is actually rewarded.

Think about it: your average commercial is about a given product. The ads will often show people going through great lengths and/or doing something outrageous to obtain said product. This creates value for the product. Or the ad shows said product in such a light that it makes life supposedly meaningless if you do not own said product. I have a book in storage which talks about that very phenomenon, but I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. And in the time it takes you to watch that episode of Scandal, you are blitzed with these ads showing this behavior. The subliminal message that gets drilled into your head: it’s okay to lie, steal, cheat, fight and behave in an obnoxious way to get this product, because this product is worth it.

These ads also go for shock value or comedic value, so while we’re permeated with this stuff we are actually amused and entertained by it. We think “oh, that’s silly. I’d never do anything that mean, underhanded or stupid just for a beer.” But would you? Really? You’ve seen people do worse for less. Where do you think this behavior comes from? Parents? Peers? Remember when you saw your first Road Runner Cartoon and your mother had to explain to you that you can’t jump off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote and expect to survive like he does? We absorb the stuff we watch and whether you admit it or not, this stuff does affect how you behave in society. And as risqué as most TV programming is, for the most part it still depicts the triumph of good over evil.

But Only in TV commercials does the biggest reward go to he who shows the worst behavior.

Whether it be the amoral behavior of people using whatever dishonest means to get their hands on the latest hot product.

Or the cynical, sarcastic and elitist tone of the Mac vs. PC commercials (which I admit I love to watch)

Or the fast-food commercial making you feel guilty for actually wanting to cook your own dinner for a change.

Or the stereotype-reinforcing beer and sports commercials reducing women to nothing more than body parts to be lusted over, these commercials are constantly sending messages to you and your children about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. And whether you ignore or “block” certain shows, those commercials are on EVERY show, in between shows and during shows broadcasting their message that anything goes, do whatever you feel you have to do, whatever you feel you want to do. The only sin is not giving us all of your money.

Think about that the next time you’re watching the Superbowl “just for the ads.”

The Waiting Period.

Hello, and welcome to me new blog. I have absolutely no idea of what I’m going to talk about on these things. I’d like to have some articles that are informative and insightful, so that I can use that to market my website. Problem is, I’m not really much of an expert in anything. When I do research for my stories, I really only do enough to accurately tell my story. And I don’t think I can write articles on the craft of creation like a lot of these writers and even mark Rosewater. There’s a skill to telling people how you do what you do that I’m not sure I have. So I’ll just write about whatever’s on my mind.

 

I wonder if anyone has felt that way I felt today about my career. I currently work two dayjobs, both in the capacity of working with youth. I love children, and love to be a positive influence on their lives. I think helping troubled youth to grow is a noble thing to aspire to. But today I’ve really started to question how effective I am at it. I’ve been told that I’m lacking in a number of areas on my weekend job working with abused kids, and some kids were even able to sneak off and do some dirt behind my back, all on my watch.

And I’ve been burnt out with my teaching job for months now. I’ve been working in afterschool programs since 2007, and I have NEVER seen a batch of kids as blatantly defiant and uncooperative than the group of kids I work with now. I’ve had my share of knuckleheads in class before, but I’ve never had to deal with an entire class of them…until now. Add that to the mountain of paperwork and red tape I have to navigate through, and it adds up to me being ready to walk out.

The problem with both jobs is that The kids think I’m a pushover. Just because I prefer not to raise my voice unless I have to get everyone’s attention, and I try to engage my kids and build relationships with them individually. I prefer to negotiate over barking orders, and for this reason my kids at both jobs don’t show me any respect. But when I try to be Mr hard-@$$ drill sergeant, nobody takes me seriously. I hope nobody thinks I’m trying to be these kids’ “friend.” Far from it. But I believe in the “Honey vs. Vinegar” way of working with youth, and I believe in treating children with respect, taking them and their ideas & feelings seriously, lifting them up and encouraging them, and being able to reason with them. This approach has worked for me in the past, and it naturally fits my personality, which some describe as laid-back. But it’s not working now, not at either job, and I’m at a loss of what to do about it.

 

So I’ve started to question whether this is a job path I can continue. But right now I don’t have anything else to fall back on; I haven’t had any decent fortune looking for full-time graphics work, and my design clients are too infrequent to warrant doing freelance work full-time. So when my supervisor comes to me and points out a laundry list of mistakes I made on the job, I’m literally terrified. I can’t afford to lose another job. And it frustrates me to no end when I hear that those kids outsmarted me and made me look like a fool. It eats at me.

And I know, it’s strange to hear me in such a bad place, considering that I’ve got a new novel that is about to see print and the highest profile graphics client I’ve ever had (a former NFL player) hiring me for a website. I should be riding high. But I’m not, mainly because I’m not happy with my dayjobs and I know I’m capable of more than this.