Short Story of the Week: The Conviction of Charles Donovan Gregory

The Conviction of Charles Donovan Gregory
by Dustin M. Weber
April 7, 2017

March 25, 2017

Dear Vices:

It’s over.

At long last, I’ve decided to move on from you all and focus on that which I should have kept at the forefront of my mind this whole entire time. In fact, I’m actually pretty disgusted at the notion that I’ve succumbed to you for as long as I have—disgusted, that is, but not surprised. After all, with my will having been so weak for so long, why would I be surprised that I’ve leaned on you all the way I have? It wasn’t as if I’d had a broken leg, you know. I could have easily stood on my own two feet at the time, and quite frankly, I would have been much better off for doing so. In fact, if I was suffering from anything, it was from a slow, dull mind and a poor sense of self, and looking back nowadays, I’ve come to realize that the more I tuned to you, the worse each of these things got. Well, no more! I’m putting my foot down against it all. Starting today, I’m stepping away from each and every one of you so that I can put my life back together, get myself back on track, and finally earn for myself that which I should have earned years ago.

First off…video games. Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been plenty of times when I’ve drawn inspiration from you. Heck, the idea for this one book I’m working on right now came to me in part after I’d played one of you, and even in recent months, I’ve been laying the groundwork for whole entire franchises based on what I’ve made using whatever character creation mode some of you have offered your players. That being said, don’t expect me to be as into you as I used to be back in the day. Sure, you were a great diversion for me when I was a kid, and even when I was working my way through college, you were one of the best ways I could think of to blow off steam. Sadly, that was then, and now that I’ve got more pressing matters to attend to, I have to set you off to the side from here on out. You’re a hobby, after all—a diversion—and a very expensive one to keep up with as well. Take it from a guy who hasn’t bought a new console since college, save for when I replaced my PlayStation One once upon a time, which I rarely even play these days. Besides, being a full-grown adult who’s long been eager to accept the responsibilities expected of someone my age, I don’t have nearly as much time to spend on you as I did during my younger days. Then again, there have been times when I’ve felt that I should have focused more on my writing even back then, especially considering how much help I needed in that department. I don’t care if I was just a kid at the time, either. The fact remains that I loved to write then, too, and honestly, had I the mind to put more of my focus on my writing and less time piloting some person made of pixels or polygons across my TV screen and making him beat other people up, I could have very well made a prodigy of myself…or, at the very least, something more than what I am now. Ah, but who am I kidding? I am what I am, and I have only myself to blame for letting myself get as wrapped up into you as I have. See you later, then, video games, when I need a break…and only when I need a break.

Oh…and all you flash games? Don’t even get me started with you and all your mindlessly repetitive yet ironically charming and addictive glory. No disrespect, but seriously, consider yourselves dead to me from this point forward.

You’re next, pro wrestling…and no, that wasn’t meant to be a pun on Bill Goldberg’s catchphrase. All unintentional wordplay aside, I’ll be brutally honest with you: I’ve actually been done with you for quite a while. Yes, I still respect you as an art form, no matter how stupid you can be at times in your execution. Sure, there are still morons out there who love to crap all over you for being sports theater as opposed to a full-fledged sport, and as far as I’m concerned, they can all take their infantile, narrow-minded, condescending ignorance and shove it right back down their throats until they choke on it. Truth be told, though, their moronic mentality isn’t why I’ve turned away from you. Rather, it’s your own idiocy as an industry, as you just haven’t been that great since the spring of 2001 when Extreme Championship Wrestling went bankrupt and good ol’ Vinny Mac bought out World Championship Wrestling. Ever since then, the World Wrestling Federation has become World Wrestling Entertainment and hasn’t faced any major competition for the past sixteen-plus years—not even from Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which was once the closest thing WWE had to a serious rival since WCW. Trust me, too, when I say that even I can’t begin to tell you the number of fans who’ve been predicting TNA’s ultimate demise to the point of placing bets on when it’ll at long last go out of business. Then again, my doing so would distract me from telling you about just how many other promotions have risen and fallen over the century as we all have known it so far as well as about those that had promised to launch, yet either a) have failed to do so or b) actually have, yet have turned out to be little more than independent promotions. All this in mind, I hope you can see part of the reason why WWE’s long been struggling to put on a consistently good product, even with the talent they have now and have had over the years on their roster and even when they try to give the fans what they want. Of course, I don’t envy the bookers—or writers, whichever they’d rather be called—one bit, seeing as no matter how many honest-to-goodness fans you as a business still have as a whole since your decline, there’s always going to be that one portion of your fanbase that’s full of nothing but screaming, cursing, fickle malcontents who are never satisfied with what they see from any wrestling show, yet are far too stupid to walk away, no matter how bitter they’ve become towards you. Then there are the mindless fanboys, fangirls, and trolls who constantly cause drama amongst the community for whatever excuse might come to mind who are no doubt making others’ enjoyment of you every bit as much a chore for your fans as the soreheads are. Hell, they’re probably just plain assholes, pure and simple, and nothing more. Whatever the case, pro wrestling, I’m glad I’ve stopped caring about you as a business before I ended up becoming one of these schmucks, as I know well enough at my age that it’s better for a person to leave what he or she loves when it doesn’t love him or her back rather than stick around and let it burn him or her. Come to think of it, I’m even gladder that I never became a pro wrestler myself. Otherwise, I’d have had to put up with a lot of the terrible mismanagement and general ignorance with which today’s wrestlers must cope—not that they’re wholly innocent when it comes to your overall product’s current lackluster state, but really, when even the wrestlers who have been stepping up their game are still struggling to get over with the masses, then honestly, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

Good luck, then, pro wrestling, for I may never come back to you as an industry, even though I still appreciate you as an art form and still hope you survive so that the next generation will get something out of you as I had back in the day when you were arguably much easier for me and so many other people to enjoy.

Finally, there’s you, YouTube, and all the videos I’ve seen on you, which have long been by and far the biggest distraction I’ve ever given myself throughout the course of my writing career. Now, I’ll admit that just like I’ve said about video games, having become familiar with you hasn’t been the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. After all, how else would I’ve ever found out about some of the things that have inspired some of my work? I can only begin to tell you, for instance, how nice it’s been listening to some of the videos on your website that have music that I either remember from my younger days or hadn’t heard before but have come to love—both of which have made for some okay background music for when I’ve been working on my writing. I’ve also learned to enjoy some of the old movies and television shows that I’ve managed to watch on your website, thanks to the users who’ve uploaded them. I’ve even seen video game footage that has brightened my day on one occasion or another, both with and without commentary from the person who was recording it. Unfortunately, even with all this in mind, you’re not exactly all peaches and cream, if you know what I mean. For one thing, just looking at some of the videos you’ve hosted since your inception in 2005 has reminded me in the worst way that it “takes all kinds,” as the saying goes, as a good handful of your videos have shown me some of the most discouraging archetypes of humanity I’ve ever seen: fried-brained conspiracy theorists, small-minded political loudmouths, embarrassingly macho e-toughs, perverted dark humor aficionados, oversensitive drama queens and other blatant pot-stirrers, screaming lunatics, narcissistic brats, potty-mouthed troglodytes, droning deadheads, over-the-top “comedy” acts and other desperate wannabe celebrities…you know…the pride and joy of the Internet (sarcasm). Sure, I know better than to stupidly click on these videos myself and give these waking examples of humanity’s grotesque imperfection the benefit of a view, but there have been times when I came across a video that I was hoping to like, only to discover that the person who posted it was more of a fool and/or scumbag than I’d previously assumed. I’m not even talking the blatant click-baiters who use false titles and thumbnail pics to draw in unwitting audience members, either, but rather simple guys and gals who make videos similar to the ones I’ve come to like over the years, only to prove themselves inferior in comparison to the examples with which I’d become familiar. This is especially true when the narrator of a given video happens to present his or her opinion on a given matter in a decidedly snobbish or ill-tempered tone or with information that he or she clearly pulled out of his or her derriere. Seriously, am I really that unreasonable to expect reviews and rants on the Internet to be honest, straightforward, unbiased, and sensible as possible, regardless of the presenter’s disdain towards the topic he or she is discussing? Don’t even get me started, either, with these reviews in which the presenter is attempting to portray himself or herself as a “character” of sorts. I’m sorry, but I listen to reviews to be informed on a given item rather than entertained, and the steeper the precedent that entertainment takes over information, the less worth the review in question has to me.

Needless to say, YouTube, I’ve learned the necessity of being picky when it comes to listening to and watching videos on your website. From now on, then, I’ll be using your music videos as background accompaniment for my writing sessions and saving the TV, film, gameplay, and similarly themed videos for after I’ve completed my daily writing objectives. Not only that, but I’ve promised myself to be especially selective when it comes to videos from the later category, as I’m more or less done with all the negativity that I’ve absorbed from those that I’ve watched already. Trust me…my work will benefit in the end when I adopt a more positive attitude and cut out all the nastiness I’ve taken on in my life at this point.

So that’s the scoop, vices: I’m moving on, and I’m doing so for my own good. Please don’t take it personally, either, for even though I keep calling you my “vices,” I’m the one who’s really at fault here, as I’ve said before. All this time, I should have squared my shoulders, put my nose to the grindstone, and taken care of business like a man rather than bury myself in each of you whenever I would so much as have the slightest bit of writer’s block. Alas, such was not the case, and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve finally come to terms with the problems I’ve been causing for myself by wallowing in each you, falling behind in my own deadlines and all. It’ll take me a nice long while before I’ll be able to forgive myself, too, but hey, if Roy Knable can come to terms with his TV addiction in Stay Tuned, then I, too, can come to terms with my overreliance on you three things. Better sooner than later, yes, but better later than never, and from now on, as was the case for me during my schooling days, it’s going to be work before pleasure and not vice-versa. Otherwise, I’ll never get anything done to save my soul, and I’ll only further drown in my own stagnation.

Thank you all for your understanding, and for now…goodbye.

Regards,
Charles Donovan Gregory

*****

PS: All credit for the pics used in the above article goes to as follows:

MoveMeQuotes.com
PlayStation History Collection 1 – Takara Tomy 1/6 Scale Gashapon Video Game Systems! by INVISIGOTH
10 Things Pro Wrestling Fans Hate about Pro Wrestling by Ben Flanagan (AL.com)
YouTube.com
Success.com/Shutterstock.com

The short story above, however, is the author’s own.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Bonus Poem of the Week: Screwing in My Heels

Screwing in My Heels
April 5, 2017

Depression
Bitter, jaded
Fretting, lamenting, panicking
Gotta change my luck
Studying, orchestrating, toiling
Work complete!
Hope…

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Villanelle of Courage

Villanelle of Courage
March 19, 2017

I’m quite done feeling sorry for myself.
I’ve moaned enough groans and cried enough tears.
Time to store my self-pity on the shelf.

For too long, I’ve felt like a hapless whelp,
Always at the mercy of my own fear.
I’m quite done feeling sorry for myself.

Facing things alone, few folks ‘round to help,
Nagging doubts always raging in my ears…
Time to store my self-pity on the shelf.

‘Tis the cruelest thing in my life I’ve felt.
Nowadays, though, I’ve grown sick of the jeers.
I’m quite done feeling sorry for myself.

It’s about time I stood up for myself,
Took life by the horns, and conquered my fears.
Time to store my self-pity on the shelf.

After all, I alone can teach myself
To attain and keep that which I hold dear.
I’m quite done feeling sorry for myself.
Time to store my self-pity on myself.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Stupid Media, Stupid People

Stupid Media, Stupid People
March 10, 2017

Stupid media
Stupid people
People without standards
People with dead morals
Morals gone down the toilet
Morals and values
Values we all should have
Values we’ve all given up on
On TV
On movie screens
Screens filled with bleakness
Screens filled with gratuitous crap
Crap like brazen sex
Crap like excessive violence
Violence already rampant
Violence without levity
Levity from toxic stimuli
Levity that we all need
Need and want
Need but don’t have
Have we no spine
Have we no mind
Mind to reject this filth
Mind to demand better
Better for tomorrow’s generation
Better from media creators
Creators with more cash than credibility
Creators with more praise than talent
Talent elsewhere being ignored
Talent elsewhere being rejected
Rejected for little to no reason
Rejected at the gate
Gate locked tightly
Gate locked shut
Shut on new ideas
Shut on fresh ideas
Ideas that could reinvigorate
Ideas that could revitalize
Revitalize a scene so stale
Revitalize a scene so deprived
Deprived of vitality
Deprived of human interest
Interest from a new generation
Interest in something different
Different times
Different measures
Measures to be taken seriously
Measures to be taken now
Seriously!
Now!

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Frustration with Critics

Frustration with Critics
January 26, 2017

Not helpful
Not respectful
Respectful of my work
Respectful of the art
Art proven difficult
Art of promotion
Promotion of the future
Promotion of labor
Labor you on with your words
Labor you on with your points
Points poorly worded
Points that are often wrong
Wrong according to the experts
Wrong according to common knowledge
Knowledge you act like you have
Knowledge you actually lack
Lack basic manners
Lack tact
Tact and maturity
Tact and grace
Grace traded in for condescension
Grace traded in for blatant repetition
Repetition out of laziness
Repetition out of ignorance
Ignorance concerning word usage
Ignorance concerning encouragement
Encouragement pointing out perks
Encouragement showing things done right
Right way of critiquing
Right way to advise
Advise you to wise up
Advise you to change
Change for the better
Change to become more helpful
Helpful to those with the backbone
Helpful to those with the ambition
Ambition to seek fortune
Ambition to seek fame
Fame for my work
Fame held by others
Others from long ago
Others from years recent
Recent room for the next big thing
Recent room for improvement
Improvement I know I need
Improvement you’re not helping me with
With that said, goodbye
With that said, see you in Hell
Goodbye
Hell

*****

 
Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Sonnet of the Commonplace Aspiring Writer upon the Arrival of a New Year

Sonnet of the Commonplace Aspiring Writer upon the Arrival of a New Year
January 5, 2016

New year, new problems. That’s the way it goes—
At least for people in my shoes, that is,
For here I am, my heart still filed with woe,
Wishing to make an impact on the biz.
So many others—some worthy, some not—
Having taken their turn in the spotlight
While folks like me still struggle, left to rot
‘Til Lady luck comes ‘round to make things right
And gives us the fortune denied by those
Who’ve fallen under the mainstream’s radar,
Never to know fame, but that’s how it goes.
Hopefully, though, I’ll luck out and go far,
And when I do, I’ll shout, “It’s about time!”
As I leave this part of my life behind.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Something New for the Young

Something New for the Young
December 27, 2016

Who doesn’t miss the good ol’ days, when things actually made sense,
When our elders cared about us and had wisdom to dispense
And imagination ran wild with all the stories out there
For us to watch and read with heroes and heels ‘bout whom we cared?

Who doesn’t miss the times when folks could easily captivate
Our minds with situations to which we could quickly relate
In settings so vivid and lively we almost wished we were there,
Yet were happy enough to visit, our memories trailing us everywhere?

I sure don’t I’ll admit. In fact, much to my shame,
Nostalgia often cripples me, and I’ve but myself to blame,
For in all my longing for that which I once knew, I keep failing to
Realize the fact that I have the power to see tomorrow through

The same way yesterday’s creators gave my generation
Food for our minds to feast on, even in today’s fallen nation—
Stories I still remember and forever will ‘til I die.
What about today’s kids, though? What have they to feed their eyes?

Why can’t they have heroes of their own whom they can look up to
Who’ll fight in the name of justice for the likes of me and you
Against many a villain foul as the heroes we once loved so
Did when we read and watched their adventures? That I’d like to know.

Why must we feed them second-rate hash like we’ve been doing
For Heaven knows how many years now? What’s the point in screwing
Them out of quality stuff like we had once upon a time?
That simply makes no sense to me. Does it to you, peers of mine?

Why recycle the same old brands and franchises over and over again
Until they no longer resemble the versions we knew back then?
Why mutilate a classic for a younger generation
When we can give them something more meaningful—a new sensation?

Do you realize how much we’ve been doing that over the years?
What’s with all the rebooting and remaking? Why he fear?
Have we lost faith in creativity and originality?
Is it simply ;bout the almighty dollar—guaranteed cash money?

Why can’t we all show some backbone and instead try something new
And give our kids some fresh brands to invest in and see through
To the very end the way we ex-kids did back in the day?
There was no harm in trying back then. Why not try again today?

That’s the way I look at it, and as a creator myself,
I’ll see to it that some new ideas do indeed reach shelves
As a means of carrying on the tradition I knew as a boy
And giving the kids of today stories that they can enjoy.

Such is my pledge from here on out, and I hope you understand
Why I see what I see as such a problem in this troubled land.
After all, the word “progress” means nothing when there’s no identity
To the era in which one lives, so it’s up to folks like me

To help the world move forward in our own odd little way,
Giving youths the escape they need from an unforgiving day,
For everyone needs an escape now and then, and Heaven knows I had mine,
And if there’s one thing I want nowadays, it’s to leave the same thing behind.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Poem of the Week: Why Do I Even Bother?

Why Do I Even Bother?
December 18, 2016

Why do I even bother? Why do I even care?
Why do I work so hard for something that takes me nowhere?
What does it even matter in the long run anymore
When there’s no promise of fame and fortune in store?

All this time I’ve been trying to achieve a goal
That I haven’t even begun to reach yet, and it’s taken its toll
On my mind, my time, my wallet, and even my physical core,
And it’s making me wonder if there’s really anything in store.

Going ‘round and ‘round in my head, trying to sort things out
‘Til the solution proves to be simple. Then I can’t help but pout
At all the time I’ve wasted on one silly, stupid thing
When I could have worked on something else. What a nasty sting!

Then again, the other project only offers me such joy
‘Til my juices dry up on it and my brain sinks into the void,
Leaving me to wonder why I even bothered starting it,
And for the next hour or two, my mind starts throwing a fit

And aches like there’s no tomorrow. Then, I need a nap
Before heading right on back to work, but by then, my mind’s sapped.
I trudge on anyway, though, ‘til the inspiration comes
And carry on working ‘til my mind once again grows numb,

Hoping against hope all the while I’ll finally gain
That which I keep on searching for, which I know sounds insane,
Considering all I’ve said here. Then again, stranger things
Have happened in this crazy world, so hopefully the sting

I still feel one day goes away and things pick up from there,
And I’ll at last live a life with much reward and little care,
And when I look back on these days, I’ll thank my lucky stars
I’d no longer endure the grievances that have given me countless scars.

Instead, I’ll carry on knowing that I’d finally made my way
Into the masses’ hearts, wishing sooner had come the day
But thankful all the same that the drama had come to an end
And that I finally achieved that which I’m now searching for, friend.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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Bonus Poem of the Week: Revision Blues

Revision Blues
November 22, 2016

The harder I work, the more I fall back.
Frustration only begins to describe things.
Any more might give me a heart attack.

Trying to sort out my plan of attack
On this project on which I’ve been working.
The harder I work, the more I fall back.

Otherwise, to square one I shall be back
For yet one more day on this stupid thing.
Any more might give me a heart attack.

I thought I’d had it done quite some time back,
Only to find faults in the wretched thing.
The harder I work, the more I fall back.

Each time I’ve tried to fix it, though, how whack
It turns out again! Such a wasted fling!
Any more might give me a heart attack.

Maybe I should just take one more step back
‘Fore I really lose it o’er this dumb thing.
The harder I work, the more I fall back.
Any more might give me a heart attack.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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                         Amazon.co.uk

Poem of the Week: Another Random Inspiration Poem

Another Random Inspiration Poem
August 23, 2016

Always whining,
Always complaining—
Complaining about work,
Complaining about life,
Life so complicated,
Life so chaotic,
Chaotic and frustrating,
Chaotic for everyone.
Everyone suffers.
Everyone struggles—
Struggles at home,
Struggles at work.
Work on what you have to.
Work on what you’ve got.
Got to pull yourself together!
Got to shape up!
Up against a wall?
Up between a rock and a hard place?
Place your head in the game.
Place your feet on the ground.
Ground yourself.
Ground your goals—
Goals you want to accomplish,
Goals you know you can achieve.
Achieve success,
Achieve greatness—
Greatness you know awaits you,
Greatness that lies within us all.
All you need is faith.
All you need is discipline—
Discipline to plan the future,
Discipline to work hard,
Hard for what you want,
Hard for what’s best for others,
Others who believe in you,
Others who care about you—
You for all you’re worth,
You in all you do.
Do what’s right for them.
Do what’s right for yourself—
Yourself your own maker,
Yourself your own keeper,
Keeper of fortune,
Keeper of prosperity.
Prosperity can be yours.
Prosperity for tomorrow.
Tomorrow can be yours.
Tomorrow, then, straighten yourself out.
Yours…
Out.

*****

Author Pages: Smashwords.com
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                         Amazon.co.uk