Brandon's Journal

I've tried writing this post three times now.

I always get hung up about five hundred words in. I feel like I'm defending myself like I did something wrong and so I start over.

Not this time.

Last Sunday, I decided to quit the internet. It wasn't one of those “Oh, I'm gonna go find myself in nature, build a tiny house, and find happiness” sort of deals, but it was more of a “I can't take this anymore. The information overload and negativity are just too much and I'm fucking done.”

I activated the Light Android Launcher from F-Droid, added my texts, e-reader app, and camera and blocked everything else. I put my laptop and Surface in a drawer and just said screw it.

All the work I've done to reduce the negativity by changing my browsing habits, using extensions to block comments, and removing myself from social media have helped, but its not perfect. I'm beginning to think the nuclear option may be a logical choice.

Not using the internet at home was relatively easy once I broke myself of the habit of reaching for my phone when I think of something. I use it a lot to manage my to-do lists as well as to answer questions such as: “who is that actress?” or “was that Brian Pillman Jr. I saw in the crowd on AEW?” After the second night of not looking up those random thoughts, I stopped reaching for my phone.

At work it was a bit harder, because I have a lot of downtime some days and I use that to catch up on blogs and browse reddit. I was able to substitute my normal internet usage with reading books which I felt was a better way to spend my time, but can be a bit tiresome. I was able to confirm that I do not have the attention span I once had.

I still used the internet sparingly. I paid bills, checked my email once a day, and I posted my movies blog post last week (it was pre-written the week before). Occasionally, a friend would send me a link of something to read, and I'd check it out, but that was about the extent of my internet usage.

Last night, I decided to hop back online and check a few things out. It didn't take long for that nauseating feeling that I was experiencing the week prior to come back. I don't want any part of that.

I've had a lot of time to think about the internet and the role it plays in my life last week. I have quite a few thoughts that I considered pouring out into one massive opus, but then decided against it. Instead, I think I'll just post a few small posts with my thoughts and ideas over the next several days. They won't be the most organized or well written posts, but it'll help me exercise these thoughts and hopefully redefine my relationship with the internet.

#100DaysToOffload 49/100

Back in 2017, I started keeping a list of the movies that I watched. I'm not sure why I did it, but I did. I think I was just curious about how many hours a year I spent watching movies.

I thought it'd be interesting for me to look back on the first half of 2020 and the movies that I watched along with the books that I've read.

Movies Watched

January The Proposal Inside Out Just Married Road Trip Jay and Silent Bob Reboot Road Trip Beer Pong Sex Tape

February Catfish Seven The Irishman Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol Zodiac The Foreigner

March Species The Power of the Glove Crawl Summer of 84 Body Bags Scream 2 Frozen 2 The Wind Hell or High Water Tombstone 1917 Star Wars Rise of the Skywalker The Beverly Hillbillies Midway

April Satanic Panic Ready or Not The Addams Family The Color of Space The Invisible Man Ma Rabid Kingpin Julie and Julia Zombieland 2 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark The Big Lebowski When Jeff Tried to Save the World Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D Evolution The Green Hornet Annihilation Never Surrender The Phantom The X Files I Want to Believe

May Mars Attacks Godzilla: King of the Monsters Snowpiercer The Mist The Wrong Missy Miss Congeniality Hush Batman Begins The Dark Knight Believe The Vast of Night We Summon the Darkness

June Arrival Green Lantern In Search of the Last Action Heroes Rambo Last Blood Slumber Part Massacre 2 Ford v Ferrari Terminator: Dark Fate Triple Threat The Pretender The Debt Collectors Extraction Dragged Across Concrete Terror Train Final Exam Intruder The Searchers County Line Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Camera Dave Cherry Falls Piranha 3DD The Hunt You're Next

Thoughts: So far I've watched 82 movies this year. Of those 74 movies, 63 of the films I've never seen before. Looking over the list, my favorite movie of the year has been Ready or Not. That movie was an absolute blast to watch and it was totally unexpected. My least favorite movie was The Color of Space. I knew a wild Lovecraftian film starring Nicholas Cage would probably not be my cup of tea, but I watched it anyway. It's an impressive piece of filmmaking but just not my type of movie.

Books Read

Almost Interesting by David Spade Couplehood by Paul Reiser Born Standing Up by Steve Martin Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live by from the WTF Podcast by Marc Maron A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read by William Rabkin Remo Went Down by Mike McCrary By Darkness Forged by Nathan Lowell The Wrestling Insomniac by Michael Labbe Old Man's War by John Scalzi Fight Club 3 by Chuck Palahniuk Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner

Thoughts: I spent some time talking about reading on June 8th. I started off this year reading a ton and then it fell off pretty quickly. Since that blog post, I've read five books (and a graphic novel) which makes me feel like I'm back on track. So far my favorite book that I've read this year was By Darkness Forged by Nathan Lowell.

#100DaysToOffload 48/100 #Reading #Movies

I have a friend who texts me daily about his irritations with the world. Protests, COVID, sports, and politics are some of the topics we discuss. The conversations are always negative. It's always about what someone did stupid or why everything is going to Hell. Day in and day out I get these texts and I wonder why.

I recently began telling my friend to join me in the little bubble and avoid all that stuff. Get off Twitter I tell him. Stop engaging and enraging. I encourage him to realize his place in the world and try to find the happy moments. I tell him his texts, his tweets, and Instagram stories won't change anyone's mind.

He just ignores me.

A few hours later I get another text about how this country has turned weak.

Rarely do I disagree with my friend. I mirror his sentiment most of the time, but I just don't have an interest in mentally abusing myself. I've done everything I can over the past couple of years to reduce the amount of stress and chaos in my life and I have no interest in inviting it back in. That makes me wonder, why does anyone? Are we so starved for community and respect that we feel like its necessary to participate?

I realized my friend isn't going to change. He ignores me because if he listened he would have nothing to talk about. His life is empty and this is his hobby. He surfs the internet to find things to be pissed off about. Some people crochet or build puzzles, he just gets pissed off. It makes him feel important.

#100DaysToOffload 47/100

I finished two of Chuck Palahniuk's work in the past twelve hours. The first was Fight Club 3, the graphic novel sequel to Fight Club. The second was Consider This, a non-fiction writing guide and memoir. Both provided for an interesting experience, which is always the case when reading Chuck's work.

I became a fan of Mr. Palahniuk after watching and reading Fight Club around the year 2000. My enjoyment of Fight Club led me to read his other novels such as Choke, Invisible Monsters, and Survivor. I fell in love with his minimalist writing style and his ability to discuss the things that we'd rather not discuss. It wasn't shock writing for the sake of shock, but shock writing for the sake of asking why does this shock us?

While I would still consider Chuck Palahniuk my favorite author, I haven't thoroughly enjoyed any of his work in quite sometime. Actually, I haven't read the last three novels at all. I did read Fight Club 2, which like Fight Club 3, is a graphic novel sequel. I even met Chuck while he was touring and doing book signings for Fight Club 2. It was one of my favorite celebrity interactions and he seemed like a very nice guy.

I was thrilled to meet Chuck, but I was less thrilled about Fight Club 2. I think that Mr. Palahniuk realized he couldn't recapture the success of Fight Club so he just let his mind go insane with the characters. It created a disjointed, strange story that was brave but not very good. This is pretty much the same way I'd describe Fight Club 3. The artwork is fantastic and there are some great scenes, but overall the story falls flat as a cohesive unit. It doesn't feel like Fight Club, but more like erotic theological fan fiction written within the Fight Club universe.

I enjoyed Consider This. It was mentioned online to be similar to Stephen King's On Writing (which is an incredible book) and while I think King's book is better, I really enjoyed what Chuck had to say. The book alternates between chapters that are short memoirs and chapters that are tips of what Chuck would tell you if you were his writing student. He does a great job describing different techniques and strategies on how to write, what to write, why it doesn't matter, why it could matter, and everything in between. I highlighted more notes in this book than any other book I've ever read because it was chock full of incredible ideas.

Consider This is an easy read that took me less than twenty-four hours and I feel that it will help me as a writer. I have this dream of one day putting out some decent fiction and I hope some of what I read will help me accomplish that goal.

#100DaysToOffload 46/100 #Reading

Since my attempt to read more post made on June 8th, I've read three books. I recently discussed By Darkness Forged and now I want to discuss The Wrestling Insomniac and The Old Man's War.

The Wrestling Insomniac is a collection of posts taken from The Wrestling Insomniac website. The book was written by a friend of mine and is an excellent look into the forgotten and not often discussed moments in the history of professional wrestling. Topics such as the NWA invasion of the WWF, the matches that Bill Goldberg lost, and the history of the NWA title after its dissociation with WCW are all covered in this collection.

The stories are well written, quick to read, and offer the perfect balance of detail with narrative. I found the book to very well balanced and I began reading it one evening with the goal of reading it over the course of a week, but I ended up reading it all in one sitting. It's the type of stories that just suck you in and you can't wait till you get to the next chapter to see what other mind blowing information will hit you next.

The Wrestling Insomniac is a must read for fans of professional wrestling.

Old Man's War was written by John Scalzi, writer of Red Shirts. It is the first book in a series of six about a future where the elderly can choose to live longer if they join the military and go off to fight wars in distant galaxies. It's an interesting look at the scarcity of life and how knowledge and experience can be an advantage on the battlefield.

This title came up several times when I was trying to find a science fiction book to read. I wanted something that was not very long, but also not too complex. I didn't wasn't to escape in a world of confusion by taking on Dune or any other massive world building books, and Old Man's War seemed to fit what I was looking for. It begins on Earth (albeit in the future) but uses common sci-tropes and excellent descriptions to build the world around it. It's a world that is not too unlike our own and a world that almost seems like it could be a possibility. It's an easy read and I enjoyed my time with the characters. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to relate to a seventy-five year old man who is suddenly able to move like he was twenty, but the author did a great job of making the world believable and interesting.

I recommend both books and I'm glad to say I've knocked out three books in just over two weeks. It ends five month drought of not completing any books and it'll be interesting to see how many books I finish by the end of the year.


Back in 2012, Disney bought Star Wars. The day the sale was announced I wrote a huge article about my mixed feelings. I was scared that Disney would run the series into the ground as they had recently done with their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but I was optimistic that bringing back the original cast and going into the Original Trilogy era would be amazing for the series. The Avengers had just come out and Disney didn’t screw that up, so I had high hopes that Star Wars would be treated equally as well.

Eight years later, I finally finished watching the final part of the Skywalker Saga, and I’m less of a Star Wars fan because of it.

It started off well enough with The Force Awakens, but then came The Last Jedi that well… I’ve wasted enough time and effort on that terrible film.

I had hopes that with the return of JJ Abrams, that Rise of the Skywalker would be amazing. It would right all the wrongs that The Last Jedi had committed and Disney would commit to telling a good coherent story. Boy was I wrong.

Listing off all that was wrong with Rise of the Skywalker would take some time. There was the rushed pacing, the too large of a script, the changed demeanors of the characters, the idiotic ending, and so forth, but if I can say anything that defines my thoughts about Rise of the Skywalker it was the fact that as I sat watching it, I thought to myself: I should be watching Battlestar Galactica.

I’m not sure why that popped into my head. I loved BSG when it came out but it didn’t end well and it’s not something I’d have a huge urge to rewatch, until now. But while watching Rise of the Skywalker I couldn’t help but think about how disrespectful Disney was to the viewers. They treated us like idiots. They gave us bad science fiction full of plotholes and expensive CGI and then handed it to us and said, “This is Star Wars, give us money” and we’re supposed to be okay with that.

Battlestar Galactica ushered in a more mature science fiction world (for better or worse) that was followed up by The Expanse a few years ago. Coherent storytelling was vital to gaining the respect of the viewers and they cashed in on it big time. With exception of the fanboys running The Mandolorian and the rebel director of Rogue One, Disney had done nothing but shovel outdated and quite frankly, bad stories set in the Star Wars universe and pretended like they were good.

I’ll ask you this, what was the plot of Solo? I know I don’t remember. I watched that entire movie with excitement and the only thing I remember is that quick cameo at the end. The movie sucked.

Rogue One is arguably the best Star Wars film ever made and I gotta give Disney props for that. I’d love to see the director’s cut, but the fact that they didn’t fill every inch of the screen with cutesy droids and animals and didn’t cater the story to sell toys has got to be some sort of miracle. I doubt we will ever see another film like that one from Disney.

Disney got lucky with The Mandalorian and we got a great series that has potential. One of the best things about Mando was all the surprises that now Disney is spoiling left and right. They’ve announced characters, guest stars, and returning stars, thus taking away all the surprises and excitement that was there for the first season. You’d think a company that big and that successful would know when to shut up and cash in on something good.

I know I’m getting older and my tastes are changing, but I believe that the handling of the Skywalker Saga over the past eight years has been horrific and it has definitely affected my fandom. Then again, I’m not the age group who buys toys, so I’m pretty sure Disney could care less. I just hate that they managed to screw up such an epic saga when they had all the power, talent, and money to make it amazing.

#100DaysToOffload 45/100 #Movies

This week, I purchased Elite Dangerous for the PlayStation 4. It's a game that has been on my radar for a couple of years now and that $14.99 price point was just too good to pass up. One of the reasons I didn't purchase it sooner is that it's not the type of game I typically play. It's way more complex and time consuming than the traditional quick pick up and play or narrative driven games I tend to enjoy.

Elite Dangerous is a space flight simulation that exists in a 1:1 scale simulation of the Milky Way Galaxy. That means it has 400 billion star systems to explore and at the current rate of exploration it'll take around 30,000 years to explore everything. Around 150,000 of the star systems are taken from real astronomical data.

The game is open ended MMO, but the galaxy can be explored off line as well. I like to do things at my own pace, so I'll be playing the game off-line at least for the foreseeable future.

Yesterday, I spent some time reading some tutorials for Elite Dangerous and various tips and tricks. I wanted to be somewhat prepared knowing that I was getting into something with a lot more depth than I'm used to. Its the type of game I'd probably prefer to play on PC, but I don't have a gaming rig. Luckily for me, the developers did a great job utilizing the PS4 controller.

Last night, I decided to play through part of the tutorial and begin my time with Elite Dangerous. I learned basic maneuvering, faster than light jumping, and combat. I also got some experience with the in-depth menus and I really liked what I saw. While slow, the tutorial did a great job of introducing me to the game and I'm glad I decided to stop where I did. I think until I get my bearings an hour or two here or there is probably the best way for me to approach this game.

I'm not sure what career I want to pursue in the game, but I'm thinking of just being a lonely space miner. I'm hoping the game can offer me some peace and quiet in a fun, interactive environment. Maybe down the road I'll look into some combat or even hopping online, but I think for now I just want to chill out and have this be a somewhat relaxing experience exploring the stars in real time.

#100DaysToOffload 44/100 #VideoGames

Growing up, I was a huge NASCAR fan. From the months between February and October my Sunday afternoons belong to “The Race.” I collected cars, played video games, and attended races. I wore t-shirts, jackets, and ball caps of my favorite driver. The one family tradition that we truly ever had was buying the NASCAR season preview book that showcased all the driver changes and different paint schemes.

This passion lasted up until around 2007. It was around that time the Car of Tomorrow came out and the video games started lacking. The cars became less competitive and the racing fell off. I watched for quite a while out of habit, but eventually I decided to find better ways to spend my time.

That’s not to say my racing interest ever fully went away. I still kept up with news and driver changes, would watch the occasional beginning or end of a race, and would check out the Radioactive YouTube videos and highlights. I bonded with one of my best friends over NASCAR back in the early 2000’s when we worked at Blockbuster. We spent hours discussing racing and playing the EA video games. Like me, his fandom began to wear off around 2007 and it wasn’t until last year when nostalgia took over that he really started to become interested in NASCAR again.

We talk about daily about NASCAR now. The discussions about current and past events stirred up some nostalgia in me. It made me want to like NASCAR again. So, I tried. I turned on the races for a few laps, but the spark just isn’t there anymore. The racing isn’t competitive and to be honest, it’s boring.

This isn’t my first time hoping my fandom would re-spark. I’ve tried several times over the years, but I would usually find myself enjoying other types of racing more. I haven’t sat through an entire NASCAR race in thirteen years, but I have watched a few IndyCar races. I like IndyCar better than NASCAR these days, because the races are shorter and the competition is more intense, but I wouldn’t describe myself as anything more than a casual fan.

The only racing I’ve truly fallen in love with is rally cross. Sometime around 2015, I was browsing commercials during a NASCAR race when I ran across the Red Bull Global Rallycross. I saw names I recognized like Tanner Foust, Scott Speed, Travis Pastrana, Bucky Lasek, and Ken Block all competing in modified rally cars that were jumping over jumps, beating the crap out of each other, and racing short and fast spurts. I sat bewildered at where this had been my entire life. It was everything I wanted in racing.

I never flipped back to the NASCAR race. Instead I enjoyed this new racing I’d discovered and after it ended I began my research on Global RallyCross. I watched weekly till the end of the season and began planning to attend an event that was being held in North Carolina. Unfortunately, that fell through but I’d discovered something new that I really liked.

I followed loosely over the next couple of years. Red Bull stopped posting the races on YouTube and my work schedule prevented me from watching the races as they aired so that hindered my fandom a bit. Still, I watched when I could and even began checking out the bigger rally cross organization FIA World RallyCross that took place overseas. I noticed the track designs seemed a bit more methodical and less chaotic and the racing was a little tighter. I liked it so much, I ended up following it almost exclusively for the 2017 season mainly due to the races airing live on YouTube and some excellent highlights were put together. It made it easier for me to follow, despite having a league here in the States.

One of the heat races from 2017 was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever seen. It was insane how much was going on and how fun it was to watch. Sure, one might argue it was a little excessive, but the unpredictability and chaos on the track gave me the most joy I’ve had watching racing in a very long time, maybe ever.

I didn’t watch any rally cross last year. The Red Bull Global RallyCross closed down in 2018 and last year was a transition year in my life and rally cross wasn’t on my mind. This past week, I’ve gotten on YouTube and began watching the events again. I don’t have the time to watch the entire events, but FIA does a fantastic job putting together complete and highlighted heats and finals which give you the whole race experience in well under thirty minutes. The races are so short, you don’t feel like you are missing out on much and I just love that about it.

My tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older. Racing has changed too. I hate that I don’t enjoy NASCAR like I used to, but I think it’s time to cultivate my love of rally cross.

#100DaysToOffload 43/100

Last night, I decided to check out one of Big Finish's Stargate SG-1 audio dramas. I began with the first title, Gift of the Gods, performed by Michael Shank (Daniel Jackson). The audio drama was released on April 1st, 2008, about a year after the tenth and final season of SG-1 aired.

I'm currently watching Stargate SG-1 for the first time. I'm up to season five, so this limits how many of these audio dramas I can listen to. The majority of them take place in later seasons, but Gift of Gods takes place during season three before Fair Game.

I really wasn't sure what to expect. Most of Stargate's merchandise seems to have been put out with little regard to quality. The books, for example, are mostly print on demand or digital and primarily seem to be written by fan fiction authors. I don't mean for this to sound bad, but you can tell not a lot of time, money, and effort has gone into expanding the universe via other forms of media. It's obviously a franchise with a dwindling fanbase and a parent company who isn't concerned with creating anything new.

The producer of this audio drama, Big Finish, is known for creating Doctor Who audio dramas with the original casts. They are very experienced with what they do and it shows right off the bat. The audio drama is well crafted, has good music, sound effects, and is properly mixed. Having spent many hours over the years enjoying all sorts of audio dramas, I can say that rarely do they sound this good.

Michael Shanks puts on a stellar performance. He slips right back into this season three role of Daniel Jackson and does some fantastic impressions of his former co-stars. He channels Jack's sarcasm, General Hammond's authority, and Sam's curiosity well. Having spent so much time with his fellow actors, he's able to nail the timing and delivery and that makes this a fantastic listen.

I also really enjoyed how the story was set up. It was told through flash backs via an audio log of this particular event. It was believable and tied into the show well.

The plot itself is good, although I will say the ending seemed a bit far fetched. It was definitely the type of ending that would not have been made into an actual episode because it was just a little too risky and opened up quite a few plot holes for the future. Still, I enjoyed the heck out of Gift of the Gods thanks to the fantastic performance of Michael Shanks, the convincing sound effects, and the great pacing.

#100DaysToOffload 42/100 #Television

I don't have a Facebook profile, but I still have an account. I kept my account open so that I could utilize Messenger and WhatsApp for a few people. I also have an Instagram account that's not linked to my Facebook account, but let's be honest, Facebook has already figured that out.

When I re-opened my Instagram a few months back, I did so at the behest of several friends who convinced me I was missing out. I decided to approach IG differently this time around and I made an account that only followed friends. No companies, strangers, or products. I kept my world small so that I could focus and enjoy what my friends shared. Sadly, they didn't share much and at times what they shared was content that I didn't want to consume. Like most people online, they get wrapped up in fades, gimmicks, politics, and religion... also known as the stuff that I'm quite sick of.

When I was off of Instagram, I would get texts with pictures of truly important content. No one sent me their political or social justice memes, but usually family photos or memes of common interests. If it was important it found its way to me and the rest was clutter.

I've been meditating on this decision for a solid month now, but I'm ready to completely close out all connections to Facebook. This means informing the few people I interact with on Messenger to begin texting me and converting the one person I video chat with over to Signal.

I don't feel like I'm getting anything of value from my Facebook account. My life is not enriched and the little that I do use it for isn't worth the privacy invasion that I have to endure.

I had some time this weekend to do some reflecting and I realized that the more intentional I've been with how I utilize my time online has had a direct impact on my mood. I feel like this is the next healthy step in the right direction for me.

#100DaysToOffload 41/100 #Privacy

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