The Digital Griot The website of author Drew Griot Tue, 01 Aug 2017 00:25:53 +0000 en hourly 1 Sharknado: Beginning of the Idiocracy Tue, 01 Aug 2017 00:20:25 +0000 Continue Reading →]]> The below commentary was originally posted on my previous blog back in 2013. With Sharknado 5 about to premiere in 6 days, my review of the first film in the cheesy-fun franchise seems relevant. Given the current state of things in the US, even I’m getting a few chills at some of the almost prophetic commentary I made.

Here Comes the Sharks!

On Thursday, July 11th of this year, a worldwide phenomenon hit the basic cable airwaves, literally turning millions of Twitter streams into white-hot chattering messes. Overnight, this film had well-known actors, politicians, news outlets, everyone, buzzing about the latest lackluster B-movie served up by the SyFy Channel on an underwhelmingly silver-plated platter. But unlike the other films, like the snaggle-toothed Sharktopus or the floundering Piranhaconda, the film Sharknado had real bite, a perfect storm of cinematic silliness that somehow captured the fancy of people all around the world.

It’s a Storm! It’s a Fish! It’s a Hit!

In case you’ve been hibernating in your fallout bunker waiting for December 21st, 2012 to arrive (albeit about 8 months late at the time I’m writing this), Sharknado is a movie about waterspouts forming over the ocean, sucking up a whole mess of big fat great white sharks (because apparently only big fat great whites are ever hungry) and then moving ashore, dumping tons of water and sharks onto Los Angeles. Yes, there are people running around trying to escape the storms while desperately searching for the rest of their family, who then ultimately wind up taking on the storm, as well as the sharks. But then if you’ve seen a few of SyFy’s other original films, you probably already knew the plot formula. If not, then I’ve probably saved you a few hours’ time now that you don’t have to actually watch any of those movies.

And you’re welcome.

B-Movie Gold

On the one hand, Sharknado’s success is a refreshing look at how we humans can let go of our troubles for a couple of hours and enjoy a ridiculous story. Even the actors seemed to have embraced the silliness of it all and performed their roles with all the campy goodness that this film demanded. And let me preface the next part by saying that I enjoyed the film as well, although it’s not going at the top of my “love to rewatch” list…ever… However, the Sharknado phenomenon also suggests a deeper issue, the desperate need to get away from our own lives, even for a brief two hour span. It’s as if many, if not most, of us in the industrialized world are sinking into quicksand pits of discontent and unhappiness, and are ready to grasp onto anything that wanders within our grasp, hoping that it’ll pull us from our doldrums, rescue us from the muck and mire of our lives, or at least give us temporary relief from them.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes It Ain’t, Thank God!

I just can’t help but think that when a film that by all rights should be considered the cheesiest, perhaps, worst movie ever on SyFy’s long original movie roster (and that in itself is a miraculous feat), becomes such an overnight hit, that it’s an indication of just how many of us would love to set aside our thinking minds and return to the blissful state of a child who doesn’t have a care in the world. And when you pair the population’s response to this mindless romp with the innumerable dimwitted exploits filling the YouTube Channel, along with the general increase in stupidity of saint and sinner, of the famous and the anonymous, portrayed each day on the news tabloids, you have to wonder if the 2006 film Idiocracy, about a future where humanity as a whole ultimately devolves into a world full of morons, could now be feasible.

Even though this article is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I do often find myself wondering if in some ways a “dumbing down” of the human race is subtly taking place, if one day we’ll wake up to a world full of simpleminded drones who sit in their living rooms giggling at the Sharknado marathon on the telly while the machines take over.

Or maybe that’s just the plot for the next cheesy SyFy flick?

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My Paranormal Fear of Ouija Boards Sat, 08 Jul 2017 13:05:28 +0000 Continue Reading →]]> Picture of Ouija board

Ouija board

Ouija Boards Are or For Suckers

Or rather, they are for people stupid enough to mess with them. If you’ve ever watched films like the appropriately titled, “Ouija”, or the latest Ouija board cautionary tale, “Nocturne” (the 2017 film, not to be confused with the 2014 nor the 1946 movies of the same name), then you know that bad things always happen to those who mess with these seemingly harmless spirit boards. Very. Bad. Things.

Don’t the people in these sorts of films ever watch these sorts of films? Although since neither of the aforementioned flicks are cinematic masterpieces, I suppose I’m expecting far too much from these formulaic character types, teens who drink too much, play too hard, think too little. But playing with a Ouija board, in my opinion, equals shooting oneself in the head with a bazooka. In fact, shooting oneself in the head with a bazooka would probably be a preferable way to die.

Again, don’t they ever watch these films?

Ogre-faced spider

The Superstitions of a Logical Mind

I generally look at things with a logical, scientific approach. I consider things we refer to as “super-” natural as actually being the manifestations of natural things that we simply don’t know about and/or fully understand as of yet. Even God, I believe, is far greater, far more incredible (and far more real) than maybe even the most devout worshippers can currently understand. I’m generally of the mindset that demons, ghosts, malevolent spirits, and even those bobble-headed grey aliens that seem to only show themselves late at night while we’re tucked in our beds, are not what we think they are, even though they may very well exist in some form. While they are much more than the manifestations of our inner fears or the mere byproducts of imaginations gone wild, they are not dark entities seeking to commandeer our souls..

And yet, there are just some things I simply cannot (or I should say, would not), do. Ever. I’d rather kiss a spider…Okay, that’s a lie. I would choose that bazooka blast to the brain over either of the aforementioned, repulsive options, however.

Although even I have to admit that the ogre-faced spider dude (pictured above) is almost cute. Almost.

Let Supernatural Dogs Lie, I Say!

Ouija boards are said to be doorways to the spirit world, tools one can use to communicate with the dead. But they can also serve as a means for spirits to cross over into our world, and from every single movie I’ve ever seen, this always ends badly. REALLY badly.

Sure, as I said, I believe that ghosts, spirits, and demons are not the supernatural, unexplainable phenomena that we think that they are. However, I also believe that whatever they are, they are very real. Just because the deceased great, great aunt of your home’s former owner, who died a tragic death a hundred and fifty years ago, may not be the entity tugging on your hair or moving the furniture around whenever you aren’t looking, that doesn’t mean that someone, or some thing, isn’t responsible.

And no matter how much I remind myself that I do not believe that a Ouija board is a portal to the underworld, I just can’t shake my fear of them. Maybe they open the doors to another dimension full of alien a–holes, or maybe the truth is that the dead are somehow always here with us on another plane of existence, able to screw with us whenever they get bored. Maybe moving that stupid planchette around the board while we touch it is just really funny to them, and they love to sit back and laugh and point while we piss ourselves in fear. All I know is that if someone were to walk into the room right now with a Ouija board under his or her arm, I would likely demand that they burn that thing immediately. And then purify their hands with holy water. Or hand sanitizer…or both…

No. Just..No…

Maybe the thought of Ouija boards speaks to some subconscious fear that I harbor concerning the uncertainty of the unknown. Maybe deep down, despite my conscious thoughts on the subject, I’m afraid that I might be wrong. I mean, what if, as Fox Mulder of X-Files fame says, “the truth is out there”, and it turns out that it’s full of demons and ghosts and ghouls? Oh my!

Either way, you can never go wrong staying the hell away from those things. Better safe than sorry, I say. I mean who knows? Maybe the bogeyman really is lurking in the paranormal closet trying to get out, but the least we can do is to make him work for his freedom. Let’s not take the chance that we may be throwing the doors wide open and like a Price Is Right contestant, inviting him to “Come on down!”

Demons, be warned. YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!

At least not on my watch.

Nope. No way.

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And A Writer Is Reborn Fri, 30 Jun 2017 03:54:40 +0000 Continue Reading →]]> The Beginning of the Story

It was over 21 years ago, January 1st, 1996, I believe, when I first made the conscious choice to pursue a career as a writer. From that very first moment, I knew that I wanted to be a storyteller, a weaver of fictional dreams like the authors whose works I’d personally loved most since childhood. Books like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man were just a few of the books that spurred my imagination and allowed me to see myself in a world without limits, where my disability no more important to the life I could lead than the color of my eyes.

Those authors created stories that pulled you right into the page and took you on adventures that, once it was over, left you as frustrated as a child who wakes up from a beautiful dream to discover that Santa didn’t leave you a pony under the tree. And on top of it, it’s still six months to Christmas!

And once the adventure began, you never wanted it to end. It wasn’t until years later that I began to wish to have that skill, maybe because having spent so much of my youth going on the adventures of others, that I finally realized that I indeed had the power to concoct adventures of my own.

The Pursuits of an Author Wannabe

I’ve written a lot of stories, poems, and a novel or two over the last 21 years. In the early days I was dogged in my writing pursuits. I wrote a lot, submitted to various markets almost compulsively, and studied the craft of writing all of the time. Books like Word Painting by Susan McClanahan had huge impacts on me and my understanding of what it took to be a great storyteller, showing me how to make the words leap from the page and come alive.

I’ve also spent (i.e. wasted) a lot of time chasing other pursuits, dealing with health issues, doctors, a couple of hospital stays (which led to the additional tether of supplemental oxygen to my life) and the other mental distractions that are an ordinary part of this enigmatic thing we call life. Life is vast, beautiful, unpredictable, complicated, annoying, fascinating, and scary. Things happen that threaten to pull you from your projected path, and sometimes, if you aren’t wary, they will succeed. So, while I never completely lost sight of my dreams, my vision of it grew fuzzy and dim, the same way that an actual dream is wont to do upon waking from it. But through everything, the desire to be a talespinner lingered in the back of both my mind and heart, even though summoning the mental fortitude to get the words flowing proved an uphill battle for years afterward.

From the Shadows, a Griot Emerges

A part of me always wanted to adopt a cool pseudonym, not for reasons of concealing my identity, but to brand myself and my writer side, the way Beyoncé dubs her on-stage persona as “Sasha Fierce”. And since I strive to be a storyteller, like a modern-day African griot in the digital world, I came up with the moniker “The Digital Griot”, and the accompanying author pseudonym of Drew Griot. Since I’m in the process of resurrecting my passion for writing, might as well do it with a fresh, new “face”.

I hope that by using this new persona, that I can be bolder, fiercer, more inspired to write about the things that most affect me, that stir me to anger or joy or sorrow or fear. The things that bring out the passion in me. Not that I won’t write happy things also, because there are just times you HAVE to write about puppies and bunnies and kittens and such, right? But the truth is that it’s easy to talk about the good stuff. It’s our human inability to face up to the bad stuff, to deal with the things that make us uncomfortable, that haunt us, taunt us, stress us, where the best stories lie.

An Author, a Self Publisher, a Blogger, and More?

And those are exactly the things that “Drew Griot” will tackle head on in both my writing, on social media, and on this website, along with news, reviews, poetry, prose, art, and anything else I’m inspired to write, create, or share. Before everyone had a computer or a cellphone or a tablet in hand, we used to write out our math problems on paper and work through to solve them. I like to do the very same sort of thing with the life issues of today. I write not so much to find the answers, because very often there are no answers. I write just to either get a better understanding of things, or sometimes, maybe just to find a place of acceptance for those things. No matter how unfathomable some things can be, .

And hopefully you’ll be willing to stay tuned and come along with me for the ride.

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