Harlequin, The Ticktockman, And The Master Timekeeper

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InkShard exists thanks to the inspiration of Harlan Ellison and the night of 11 April 2013 when I first saw this video…

Did you watch it? Come on, it’s only 3 minutes long. Don’t be an asshole. Watch the video first.

Thanks to that video, this blog is the only thing I’ll ever write for free. You tell ‘em, Harlan.

I used to have a lot of pissy blogs and comments on the Internet before 2006. Then, I started working for Walt Disney Studios and I began to rethink my attitude. I thought, “For the purposes of remaining employed, perhaps I should tone down my angst a bit.” Yes, I know, legally, you can’t be fired from a job for posting a pissy blog, but why take such a risk?

Consequently, I spent many years being far less verbal, especially online, regarding my opinions.

Then I saw that video of Harlan and something snapped inside me. I suddenly remembered that the world is full of fucking assholes and it’s wrong to let them get away with being assholes. You have to call people out on their bullshit. Even if that might mean you’re screwing yourself over by rocking the boat. The greatest evil in the world, other than selfishness, is complacency.

Let me repeat that, because 100 years from now, when I’m finally a famous author, you’re gonna wanna quote that one – the greatest evil in the world, other than selfishness, is complacency.

You have to call people on their bullshit.

Now, I’ve been a fan of Harlan Ellison for many years. I count he and Ray Bradbury among my favorite authors of all time. Mr. Ellison and I are both from Cleveland, Ohio and today, he lives only a few miles away from me in Studio City. I’ve not yet had the honor of meeting the man, but I had the great honor of meeting Mr. Bradbury once in 2007, at Walt Disney Studios. That, however, is a story to be told at another time. This story is about Harlan.

As I began to explain, I’ve been a fan of Harlan Ellison for many years. Not only do I admire his fiction, but I also admire the chutzpah of his rants. (I never use words like chutzpah, I’m just tipping my hat to his heritage.) I view Harlan Ellison as “Eric Muss-Barnes 2.0″. He’s the improved version of me.

He’s from Cleveland. I’m from Cleveland.

He lives in Los Angeles. I live in Los Angeles.

He worked at Walt Disney Studios for a day and got fired. I worked at Walt Disney Studios for nearly 7 years and got laid off.

I’ve lead an interesting life. He’s lead an even more interesting life than I.

I’ve had a fair share of girlfriends. He’s had a fair share of wives.

I’m a good writer who doesn’t write enough. He’s a great writer who is prolific as hell.

He is full of a lot of piss and vinegar. I’m full of, well, that’s one area where we may be equal – I probably have just as much spite and cockiness as him. However, he’s much more articulate in unleashing it than I. But the thing that always stuck me the hardest about Harlan, the facet of his personality which always gut-punches me when I see him in interviews, is that I’m a wicked smart guy and he makes me feel like a mental midget. His intelligence is intimidating to me and when you’re as egotistical a prick as I am, well, let’s just say, I’m not intimidated by anyone. Ever. But I am by him. The man wields words like an Olympic fencer wields a rapier. I’m more like Conan the Barbarian. I can still kick your ass, but I do it with brute force, while Harlan does it with ninja-like grace. He’s magnificent in his ability to be scathing. We may share an equal quantity of piss and vinegar, but he’s so much more eloquent as he urinates on you. I just throw clumps of shit at your face like a monkey.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Harlan give speeches where he starts making references to things I have never heard of and have no clue about. Everytime it happens, I find myself thinking the same thing, “Thank God he’s not talking to me face-to-face because I know he’d see the confusion registering in my eyes and he’d probably punch me in the mouth.” He’s an older gentleman these days. I could probably take him. But if I were you, put your money on Harlan.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not gay for Harlan. The man clearly isn’t perfect. Yes, he’s even written a few stories I didn’t like very much. But, that’s to be expected – when you’ve published 1200 stories, even your biggest fans won’t enjoy all of them. As much as he blows me away with his intelligence 90% of the time, there is also the 10% of the time when I say, “Oh, he’s so full of shit right now!” You don’t bullshit a bullshitter. You don’t play the player. He’s not God-like. He’s not infallible. But he is undeniably brilliant.

My point is, he’s not only a gifted writer of influential fiction, but he’s also an intriguing person who always speaks his mind. I admire him for that, because I’m a big fucking sissy who doesn’t always have the balls to tell people what I think of them.

I’ve taken a long time to reach that point, but that is my point. Harlan speaks his mind. That simple fact is what inspired me to start this blog.

The notion of “freedom of speech” is a part of the Constitution of the United States of America, but I have to admit, I always hesitated to speak my mind about a lot of things for 3 reasons:

 

  1. Employers
    You don’t want to lose potential future jobs because something you post somewhere online offends some future employer (or potential employer). Plus, if your boss is a politically correct sissy niggerfaggot, you better not have the words “faggot” or “nigger” in your blog.

  2. A Future Dystopian Society
    Don’t want to get freight-trained off to The Camps because of a blog you wrote 5 years earlier. What happens when humanity produces the next wave of genocidal sociopaths and they decide to murder everyone who has ever posted a video on YouTube? Okay, maybe I’m over reacting on that one, but still. You know mere census data was the main resource for Nazis to start The Final Solution? In May of 2013, Sherwin Smith, deputy director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism”. Complaints were an act of terrorism!? Thankfully, Sherwin Smith was demoted for making such an ignorant remark, but it’s scary to think anyone in a directorial position would have his mentality in the first place.

  3. Homicidal Psychopaths
    Similar to the second, what happens when a homicidal maniac decides to kill folks just because a collective “you” in a rant was psychotically interpreted as a singular “you”? Would you want Hannibal Lecter knocking on your door because you said you don’t like fava beans? I don’t know about you, but I’m not that important! Go skin someone I’ve never heard of!

Maybe those are silly reasons to not speak your mind, but they are my reasons. Shitty employers. Dystopian tyranny. Crazy bitches.

They are also awful reasons.

After all, I would never want to work with anyone so puritanical and closed-minded that my abrasive blogs could dissuade them from working with me.

That future dystopian society may just decide to round up all the blondes and redheads, so my blog won’t reflect poorly on my brunette ass at all. Personally, I welcome our new Darkhaired Overlords. Long live the King!

As for loonies, one probably encounters more homicidal nutjobs in the supermarket than being stalked by gaggles of them online.

Thus, the inspiration of Harlan, coupled with the cognizance of my own irrationality, are the two factors which contributed to this blog being created.

Meeting the venerable Ray Bradbury was truly one of the greatest honors of my life. Even though I only shared about 15 seconds of his 2,896,560,000 seconds upon this earth, it was a privileged 15 seconds indeed. I may never have the honor of meeting Harlan, but it’s a strange consolation to know that he lives close enough to me that I could ride my bicycle over his house in about 10 minutes. Until one achieves greatness, there’s small comfort in knowing you’re at least in the proximity of someone else’s.

If you are not familiar with Mr. Ellison, I suggest you read his book published in 2005 by Morpheus International, The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective ISBN: 9781883398606. The book is rather difficult to find, but it serves as a great introduction to his prolific body of work.

Please feel free to leave comments on this blog below, but be forewarned, if you complain about it, I’m reporting you to the authorities. You fucking terrorist.