Mr. Robot

It’s okay if you’re late to the party on this, I was too, but Mr. Robot​ is one of the best things I’ve seen on TV. The season finale is airing tonight on USA (after being delayed a week), but the other episodes are available on demand. You should do yourself a favor and witness some truly remarkable storytelling, acting and visuals.

Mr Robot

And this is normal.

Alison-Parker-Adam-WardWe can be shot by a someone we know. We can be shot by someone we don’t know. We can be shot on purpose. We can get shot by accident. We can be shot at random.

We can be shot by someone who’s crazy. We can be shot by someone who’s angry. We can be shot accidentally by a toddler who picks up a gun. We can be shot just because we were standing next to someone.

We can be shot by a bad guy. We can get shot by a police officer. We can be shot by an officer who was aiming at a bad guy. We can be shot by a bad guy who was aiming at a cop.

We can be shot for being gay or for being straight. We can be shot for being a Christian, for being a Muslim, for being an atheist. We can be shot for being black or white. We can be shot for being an immigrant or for being an American. We can be shot for being rich or for being homeless.

We can be shot in churches, in movie theaters, in shopping malls, in grocery stores, in the office, on the street, on the freeways, in our homes… literally anywhere, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

And this is normal.

Entropy will always kick your ass.

Milky Way

Scientists are now pretty sure that the universe is dying. It is literally becoming darker. It will expand forever, and because there’s a finite amount of mass and matter, eventually everything will spread out until we are mere wisps. Entropy began winning as soon as the Big Bang happened. The universe will continue to grow colder and darker. Everything may have started with a bang but it’s ending not even with a whimper, just a cold, slow, lingering death. As all the molecules in the universe eventually lose their motion and vibration, what’s left you wouldn’t even be able to call mist. In the end, there will be the barest of nothings. It will be so spread out light won’t reach anywhere. There will be infinite darkness.

So yeah, gimme the large fries.

Maybe everything is pointless. And that’s the point.

Photo credit: Rob Archer

Photo credit: Rob Archer

I keep hearing about how important it is to find purpose in life, and that not having a purpose is a terrible thing to be avoided at all costs. The idea that there might not be a point to all this is seen as something too horrific to even consider… But who says there has to be a point? Who says there has to be a purpose? Maybe we’re just here… to be here.

Like the great Rush song says, “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones. Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones.”

I’ve thought and thought about this. If it turns out that life is pointless, it really doesn’t make me feel any worse… or any better for that matter. I’m fine with it. The universe is a big place and we’re kind of small. So it’s entirely possible the universe doesn’t give a squat about what some barely evolved primates have decided is oh so important.

In fact, if there IS a point, then we’ve got to worry about figuring out what it is, and then when we think we’ve got it figured out, we’ve got to worry if we’ve missed it or got the wrong one. And if someone else has figured out a different point, then we’ve got to fight and argue and have wars about who’s right.

Maybe it’s better if everything is pointless, because then we can just spend our time enjoying the ride for what it is: a ride.

The preceding was brought to you by the hot steaming cup of coffee I just drank.

The absence of Jon Stewart isn’t all bad.

colbert stweart oliver

Yes, we’ve lost Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and it’s hard facing a world without him.

But it’s really not that bad, in fact it’s great, because not one, but two extremely talented people have already stepped into the void.

John Oliver is doing a show on HBO – Last Week Tonight – that delves deeply into topics we don’t normally think about, and I don’t think Comedy Central would have let him do that show. Certainly not without commercial interruption.

Also, Stephen Colbert is bringing his incredible intelligence and humor – and his Colbert Report writing staff – to a massive mainstream audience on CBS he couldn’t dream of reaching on Comedy Central.

So, Jon, enjoy your rest. Stephen and John have got this.

Opportunities

There’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid.

No, not that. Get your minds out of the gutter.

I’m talking about writing. Mostly short stories and poetry. It all started when I fell in love with science fiction and Star Trek at a very young age. It made me want to write. Later, I discovered Kurt Vonnegut, and what I learned from him was how to have a voice. Naturally I copied his until it dawned on me that it wouldn’t be my own voice.

Along the way I discovered other writers, Stephen King, Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke, John Irving, Isaac Asimov, Robert Frost, David Gerrold, e.e. cummings, and many more, all of whose styles filtered into my subconscious as I sat to try and do what they did. I filled notebook after notebook with high school poetry, kept writing after I got out into the world, worked on short story plotting, began writing stories that weren’t science fiction but more about real life as I filleted, deconstructed and reconstructed things from the lives of my friends and myself.

But I have remained a novice, an amateur, a hobbyist. I haven’t been published. I haven’t really pursued it because my broadcasting career was my primary focus. I found I enjoyed writing for writing’s sake, and I could live with the fact that I was “untrained,” and that I wasn’t going to make a professional career out of it. In the age of the Internet, I could “publish” my stuff to a blog and whoever wanted to read it, enjoy! (http://darkaria.wordpress.com) And I started work on a novel which should be finished by, oh, the time we land a human being on Pluto.

But maybe, just maybe, opportunities are presenting themselves to do more with this hobby. No, it won’t take me away from broadcasting. I enjoy it too much and it’s my primary income — that’s my social security lockbox.

I can’t talk about it yet, because it may turn out to be nothing, or it may turn out to be something. I have no idea. But it fills me with a desire to start looking into this avenue. We’re all here to express ourselves, after all. And as my cat informs me, self expression is at least as important as loving someone, being loved, and making sure the cat is fed.

I’ll keep you posted.

My radio anniversary

WSWN building in Belle Glade, early 80's.

WSWN building in Belle Glade, early 80’s.

So, I thought today was my radio anniversary. I thought today was the day 35 years ago I applied for my first ever job, which just happened to be at a radio station. I was wrong — it was a month ago.

It was on June 30, 1980 I filled out an application for an on-air gig at the local country station in my hometown. I was still in high school, but it was summer break and I was looking for some extra cash. I also had a job possibility lined up working the stock room at a drug store, but I figured radio would be so much easier. Sit there, spin records, talk, check off commercials? Sign me up!

It was country music, which I abhorred (I was already deeply in love with prog rock at the time), but it seemed like such an easy gig. Moving boxes in a stock room just didn’t compare.

I must have passed the interview because a few days later (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the date) I got the job at WSWN-FM in Belle Glade, FL. (The station’s still there, now it’s called WBGF The Bar and it’s a rock station. Oh, that they would have let me play rock back then!) There wasn’t much of a format to follow – there was a stack of 45 rpm records and a few albums in the studio, and my job was to just make sure there wasn’t any dead air. No music log, no rotations. There was Mutual News at the top of the hour and Florida Network News at the bottom. Maybe a maximum of 4 or 5 commercials an hour that we were supposed to play whenever. Music was on records at the time. I still remember cue burns. I still recall which labels used cheaper material and whose records would cue burn after just one play.

By 1982 radio made me look like this.

By 1982 radio made me look like this.

And while we were a (barely-formatted) country station during the day, at 8 PM this dude called Nat the Cat would come in and play soul and r&b records until midnight. Yes, those were the days. Imagine a station doing that today. After Nat, back when we kept the transmitter on all night, there was the Larry King show. Yes, that Larry King. Oh, and there were high school football games we carried live — and some on “tape delay,” which meant playing it off a cassette player while holding it up to the microphone.

I didn’t intend for it to be a career. Somehow it just happened. I just kept doing it. Eventually I moved to Stuart, FL, then to Orlando, then Miami, and finally to L.A. Not a bad track if I say so myself. Along the way I’ve done about everything in radio except be an engineer or a salesperson. I’ve been a DJ, a program director, a talk host, I’ve invented formats, and here in my new halcyon days I’m a news anchor.

I’ll keep doing it until I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.