Maniac | Netflix Original by M. Dionne Ward


The first time I saw the trailer for Maniac on Netflix, I was immediately enthralled. Maybe because of Jonah Hill, the Lite version. Maybe because of his juxtaposition with co-star Emma Stone, who definitely has no shortage of acting roles this decade. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because I’m a sci-fi nerd who saw an intriguing sci-fi series and thought, “Damn. That could be good.”

All jokes aside, Maniac seems not to take itself seriously, but is seriously interesting. The dark comedic atmosphere is thick and I couldn’t help but chuckle at Dr. Muramoto and his various one liners. I found Emma’s character to be pushy and morally deficient, which makes for many humorous moments, especially since Jonah Hill is so timid and paranoid.

What I think is even more interesting is how this seems to be set in the future, but the TV monitors are the huge hulks we had from the 80’s and 90’s. I would assert that it’s not the future, but an alternate reality, where some of the advancements we have made have been replaced by others, including talking gas stations and weird, arm-held TV Skype sessions. Also, how does a computer cry and create and actual tear?

Dark and zany and hilarious at times, I’m only 3 episodes in and I can’t wait to see more. Sally Field shows up and it gets even more interesting from there.

Check out the 10 episode, limited series when you get a chance!

Castle Rock: Past Perfect (Episode 8) by M. Dionne Ward

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Episode 8, “Past Perfect”, finds us reeling from Alan’s death at the hands of Ruth Deaver.  Ruth is of course confused, as she thinks she has killed her dead husband, Matthew. Previous episode, “The Queen”, indicates that she is experiencing some sort of time dilation/shift that creates paradoxes in her home.

Molly saved Henry from the clutches of “The Filter”, and helps him home.  The man, Odin Branch, is seen dead.  But is he really? And where the hell is young Willie? Did Molly kill Odin? Could Willie have done it? Not sure, but I do know that Odin was hoping to “correct” Willie using the hot poker.  The same poker that was inserted in his eye. Maybe Willie wasn’t having that, and killed Odin. 

Henry seems to be just as confused as his mother, but wants to make sure his son isn’t affected. Wendell is placed on a bus to Boston but ends up coming back near the conclusion of the episode.

The central story of this episode is about Gordon and his wife, who’ve set up a murder themed bed and breakfast in town.  Gordon is mesmerized by the Lacy home, and even more so with the pictures of The Kid. Eventually a couple comes to stay the night, but is not really impressed by Gordon’s setup.  So, while the couple was having some very loud sex, Gordon loses control and murders them both. This is a point of no return for me, because the couple would have to end up dead.  It was just a matter of how.

It’s worth noting that Jackie Torrance is really keen on what’s going on in the town. She saves Henry from death just because she notices a bloody bracelet on the ground earlier that day. 

Let’s back up.  I want to touch on something important.

Death, as the lady cop pointed out, follows Henry.  The kids used to call him “The Black Death” when he was younger. Henry is taken aback by this, but relents and gathers his son.  Once on the bus and after Henry has left, a black bird slams into the windshield, kamikaze style.  Wendell begins to hear the sound of the schisma, which makes it clear that he’s inherited his father’s gift.  It’s also scary because we aren’t sure what will happen to Wendell and from his look, he is not aware either.  One thing is for sure, the schisma needs to be heard.

We get confirmation that The Kid is really as old as we think via the canvases in Warden Lacy’s home.  They all show The Kid in various poses and in various years.  One piece of evidence that’s particularly damning is the the picture of the sweater that Henry is wearing in his Lost Child photo.  The sweater looks just like the one The Kid is wearing in one of the paintings. Henry appears to connect the dots.

Gordon finds Henry in the picture room, and Henry tries to get past him. Instead he’s met by Gordon’s wife and a blade in the back.  In the scuffle, Gordon’s wife is also stabbed in the neck and dies quickly.  This enrages Gordon, and outside he pulls Henry out of his car.  The knife is dangerously close before Jackie delivers an axe to Gordon’s head, mirroring the damage on the mannequin.

In the end, Molly and the Kid meet.  He explains that he has seen her die.  It just further implies that The Kid is supernatural.   

Castle Rock Ep. 1 REVIEW by M. Dionne Ward

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Kinda biased here. I love Stephen King. A long-time fan of his, for real. I haven't even read all of his books, but what I have read so far is amazing. The guy has this huge talent with creating characters, developing them and putting them in the direst situations.  Really, he puts breath in them like only a god can. And he's basically a God of the written word, Bible aside.

Saying that I have to say I'm not really surprised by the awesomeness of this new show, Castle Rock. It is not unlike Under the Dome or The Mist, however, it's very much different. I'll say that this show is much more ominous than the others and keeps its secrets quite well. I'm not saying that the other shows aren't good at that, just explaining that I'm more impressed by what's put forth in this latest iteration of King's stories.  

He seems to want to pull many stories together from the multi-verse he's created. That's awesome because maybe it will tie up some loose ends that have baffled people for years. (i.e. where is the Turtle or is IT really female?) That's gonna be a stretch, but that would be cool.

So in this first episode, we hit the ground running with my guy Dale Lucy, played by Terry O'Quinn, of LOST fame. He immediately commits suicide. I mean, it's within the first 10 minutes. And the way he does it seems really extravagant, like more of a show than anything. I don't think I've ever seen a suicide done in such a way in any movie. I'm still wondering why such a show of it?  Was he sending a message? It has to mean something.

Later on, we are introduced to the protagonist, Henry Deaver (Andre Holland), the adopted son of Pastor Matthew Deaver and his wife, Ruth, played by the great Sissy Spacek. Henry is now a lawyer that represents a specific set of clients, but has stayed away from Castle Rock. The Kid, played by Bill Skarsgard, who also played the most recent version of Stephen King's IT, is very convincing as the perceived antagonist. He speaks very little and seems so eerily confused that it completely sets the mood of the show from there. He asks for Henry by name when he is found locked away in a dark hole of a long-abandoned section of Shawshank.

Henry obviously has some issues coming home and is even hesitant about going to see his mother. It is obvious to me why, as his father disappeared around the same time he did, but wound up dead. Henry had no memory of what occurred, thus bearing the scorn of those that knew his father, and the quiet suspicion that he was responsible. 

Dennis Zalewski, a guard in the prison, is sympathetic to The Kid and skeptical of the new prison warden. He is the one who notices that The Kid has escaped and killed a few guards. Still, with no reason to be there and no records, it is likely that he would go free, anyway lest the prison be the center of a scandal. And we see in a flashback, the now deceased Lacy tell The Kid to ask for Henry Deaver when he is found.

Of course this sets us up for a thrilling chase for reasons and collaborators, which is a marvelous way to begin the series. I was really excited that Hulu decided to run this show, and I had been anticipating it ever since it was announced. I'm actually all caught up but I wanted to put this post down to center myself and others on what's going on, just for posterity's sake. That way, when something is confirmed, I can refer to this afterward.

JJ Abrams brought his A-game.  It's a great show and I hope you enjoy it! I'll be covering all the rest of the episodes from 6 to whatever from now until the show is finished! 


The Madden Champ by M. Dionne Ward

The coward formally known as David Katz. 

The coward formally known as David Katz. 

Let's get serious for a second. I want to express my sincerest condolences for the lives recently lost at a Madden NFL video game tournament in Florida.  The soft, Twinkie filling, spineless, jellyfish of a man, David Katz, took it upon himself to kill those whom he viewed as adversaries in real life, because of a situation that occurred 2 years prior. It's a despicable, horrible and sad act that speaks volumes about the current social climate.

I'll be honest that I'm not with all this nonsense saying he was a racist, or that anything was racially motivated. I'm not gonna blame his very weak mind or his obviously anti-social behavior. Not his schooling, although I would not doubt that he was the object of some type of bullying. I won't even blame guns or the right to have them.

But what I will blame are those that were trusted to raise this person into a man. The people that professed to love him. Those that should have shown him how to behave like a human being instead of a soulless game character with a bent for revenge. I blame the parents. (or lack thereof) I put the blame solely on them because something went wrong. Such a heinous act is almost inevitably due to how this man-child grew up. And of course, I blame David Katz, himself.

One thing that America doesn't want to discuss, and instead sweeps under the rug or locks away in dark, moth-ridden, dusty closets is the growing epidemic of absentee fathers. No longer are families expected to grow as one, united in marriage as man and wife, but shown, rather erroneously, that somehow single-motherhood is profound. And effortless. And somehow virtuous. Because, men or disposable, patriarchal monsters that are useless and should be exchanged for more feminine imposters. Boys don't need fathers when they can have mothers.

David Katz, now dead due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, decided to impose the pain he felt within on as many as he could before erasing himself from this earthly plain. David, I can only speculate, lived in a bubble where he was god-king and unchallenged in Madden World. Summarily, he was not prepared for embarrassment or any real shot to his ego in life. When faced with the latter, most likely he had a mental break. Most sociopaths can't deal with anything that shatters the pristine mirror they've erected for their fragile lives. And since he broke, he wanted to break everything around him.

Reality is hard to deal with as we are often disappointed by what we see. We can't control anything around us, and when faced with the little control we have over ourselves, it all seems so useless. Still, I have faith that things will be set right in my life. The pendulum swings back and forth, between good and bad, and we must expect disappointment. Loss. Pain.  And we have to learn how to deal with it and move forward. It's a lifelong lesson.

David Katz didn't have this outlook and found himself thrust into a world he didn't know or expect: one of humiliation and embarrassment and fractured egos. His fragility, as with many mass murders, was a deep wound that had not healed. I am not sure what it is, but mark my words, after some digging, it will come out.

Until then, we can speculate about what it might be. But I am sure about one thing: if we don't address the problem of family and the absence of our fathers from the home, David Katz won't be the last young man to take out his personal frustrations on real-world targets with deadly intent.  

My Existential Experience with No Man's Sky, Part 1 by M. Dionne Ward


Sean Murray recently sat down with IGN for an interview about the present, past and future of No Man’s Sky. I was eager to find out what he had to say after so much hullabaloo about what happened when the game first launched and the immediate backlash which followed.

 As I read the interview, I could tell that Murray wasn’t trying to backpedal or even make excuses for anything. On the contrary, I believe the man explained that as a developer, as a creative, it’s hard to dull the blade of your excitement when speaking about all that something can be.  Because the potential of anything is bolstered by the dreams of those involved, and in speaking about what they wanted to create, they overpromised.

This happens often with creatives because we can see so many things that others would not since the vision is our own.  That’s fine, for sure, but to overpromise then underdeliver, is a hallmark mistake amongst business owners.  This is why great business owners aren’t always creatives, and they usually work with the creatives in fostering the vision, in scope and meaning. Unlike Kanye West, we all can’t perform the role of our own publicist.

No Man’s Sky NEXT is as close to the real vision that Hello Games intended as could be, in my estimation. And as close as it is, I think it's more than good enough.  Something switched in my head as I ran across this alien planet looking for resources, watching the skies glow and building things to help me get off-world.  Something I couldn't really articulate until now: I began to believe in the power of my own imagination once again.

Not that I had really let go of my thoughts, but I really saw this vast universe that Hello Games unveiled as a metaphor for my own existence...for all existence.  For the dream of humanity and the fight against real death.  It was telling me that I'm so small and so fragile and that the world is unforgiving, but even in all of this, I am at the center of my own story.  I'm building my own world just as I'm excavating on this very fake one.  I knew that I am, within this very act of questioning how all of life works, becoming greater.  And I wanted to explore that.

I think I have always been exploring.  No Man's Sky just illuminated something that had been flowering on the surface and forced me to look at it and watch it bloom.  It's still germinating, and I don't know what it will turn into.  I don't think it really matters in the end, because whatever it is it will exist because of what I do now.

3 Things About the Betrayal Scene in Mafia 3 by M. Dionne Ward



Just started playing Mafia III yesterday, and I must say it's a beast!  I'm very enthralled by the story, not just because it's well acted but because it speaks to the core of my feelings on racism and society.

That being said, I wanted to convey some insight gathered from the Betrayal Scene early in the game by explaining three key points.

1. This was 1968.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. JFK was killed as well. I think these two major happenings dislodged the social strata of America at a time when it was already suffering tremors.  These were very distinctive actions, deliberately defiant of the changes germinating amidst the different racial groups in the country.  Reprehensible and horrible for sure, these assassinations also pointed at something festering beneath the surface: the betrayal of hope.

In 1968, the Civil Rights Movement highlighted a divisive, angry and hateful part of the American society that would do anything to silence progress or anything resembling equal treatment.  Mafia 3 initially shows a young Black man with White friends that seemingly care about helping him.  This flies in the face of what we think about that time.  The dream is quickly dissolved as Sal Marcano comes to not only collect his debt but eliminate any idea that this group of Blacks could rise above their station.

2. Blacks were fighting for validation.

I think Black people in this country want so much to be accepted, so much to be loved by those that brought us here, in a country where we are basically captive, for we have nothing to which to return. We were brought here as slaves, sold by our own people to other people that didn’t look like us and returned the sentiment of “you’re just property”.  Given our freedom later through a very bloody Civil War, our faith was somewhat restored in what was “right” and “godly” and “just”.  Still, this freedom was tainted by the deaths of so many, and people are hard-pressed to forget those bloody wages paid.

In this betrayal brought to you by Mafia 3, Lincoln Clay, a man of obvious mixed heritage, is the perfect protagonist during a time when the country was divided and hurting.  He had served in the American military for a time in Vietnam, and had come home to see all that he had and loved torn from him in a single, brutal act. Lincoln, as many Black Vietnam vets, saw a certain respect given to those serving the country; heroism, in fact.  If this situation and this hero are not metaphors for what had happened to Black people in this country up until that time, then I am at a loss.

3. His first thought was to get help from another White man.

Lincoln was nearly dead when the dear Father James came to assist him.  He would ask the Father to send for John Donovan, a CIA operative and friend, to help him. This says a lot because several White men just destroyed his life for no other reason than greed.  He didn’t hesitate to send for Donovan because it wasn’t about Black or White to him: it was simply about justice and getting the job done.  I think we can learn a lot about that mindset, because White doesn’t mean evil.  Sure there are evil Whites, but there are evil people in all races. All ethnic groups.

I love White people.  I mean, I love all people, but I love White people because they took it upon themselves, at great peril, to eradicate all slavery in the world.  And they did, too.  White, Christian people did this, died for the idea of equality, because it was RIGHT.  So, yeah, I love God and Jesus and White people and ALL people who would stand for what’s right.

In conclusion…

I love America. Despite its flaws and faults, I would not want to be anywhere else. I definitely believe Lincoln saw it the same way.  Even though these men destroyed his life, he didn’t take it out on his country. He took it out on them, specifically.  I think racism, in many forms, will exist where ever there are differences in people.  Period.  Is it a major problem for me, in this country? No, I don’t think it is a problem for me majorly.  You may not agree.  And that’s fine.

I love my people, too.  Many Black people, like me, know that we have tremendous opportunity in this country.  I am in awe of all the things I’ve accomplished thus far.  And I’m not done. Because when I’ve reached my goals, I will reach out and help others do the same.

The one fact remains is that we are here, together.  So let’s make it better for one another, despite our differences.  With Love.


At Night... by M. Dionne Ward

Notoriously difficult is the writing process. Developing ideas for stories though, it can come quite effortlessly. I have about a dozen ideas for short stories and novels that are sitting on my Google Drive just waiting to be interpreted, re-written, analyzed and expounded. Time is not always at hand, though, and I find myself writing at night when I usually have a more creative mindset.

The night fuels my imagination. Probably because of its inherent connection to dreams. To the unknown. To fear. All these factors grant me the possibility of creating something fantastic.  Fascinating and even overwhelming, I find. And when I sit there at the table long enough, the words flood my pages.

Creating anything, comes with sacrifice.  Time, sleep, relationships…something must be relinquished to touch unreality properly.  At night, usually the most I sacrifice is time and sleep. I have no willingness to sacrifice my relationships anymore.  It’s not something I would do, anymore.

Let It Burn (The Price of Freedom) by M. Dionne Ward

Pain is the price of freedom.

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Spirituality is present when you are ready to pay that price for freeing yourself of your pain. When you are comfortable with the pain, and can allow it to pass through you.  It will hurt.  It will burn you and may even send you reeling. But it is better to allow that pain to come and express itself fully, with you aware that it is there, than to push it away from you and never acknowledge it.

Imagine that your mother is dying, but you don’t know it.  You have no idea. But your sister, with whom you have a horrible relationship, has called to tell you.  Now, you love your mother but you loathe your sister.  So, you see her calling but you decide not to answer because you want to punish her still, for something she did so long ago that you can’t remember.  She keeps calling and leaving messages but you don’t even listen to them. You block her from your phone because she won’t stop. 

A few days pass and finally another family member calls and says that your mother has died.  You are hurt and sad and frustrated that you didn’t know. They tell you that your sister has tried to call you several times but couldn’t reach you. You then feel ashamed that you let your old grudge get in the way of the love you had for your mother.  You’re mad and distraught that she died before you got a chance to say goodbye, just because you were stubborn.

If you would have just allowed your sister that call, you could have embraced all the pain that you would have felt anyway and still had a chance to talk to your mother before she died.  In your avoidance, you caused even more pain to yourself.

We have to allow our pain its due.  We cannot hide from it because it will fester into something even more painful.  It’s like cancer when left untreated, except it doesn’t kill you physically.  It provides a more heinous result: mental and spiritual anguish.  This kind of torture is something that haunts a life and grasps hold of all that is good, ruining relationships and stunting your spiritual growth.

Let it burn now.  In my struggles I was just like this. I pushed things away that hurt me, or even those that I thought would hurt me.  I refused to listen to my friends and family that told me I was wrong.  I even allowed my pain to subvert the health of my relationship, nearly destroying my marriage.  The pain I caused my wife, God help me, was nearly irreparable.  But when I finally started to embrace that pain and see what I had done to her, only then was I able to heal our relationship and myself.  It was so painful hearing that I’d caused her so much pain, that eventually I had to go to therapy.  It was so bad at times I just fought with her about it, refusing to acknowledge her very valid concerns. My need for control was out of control, if you understand what I’m saying. 

I wanted to avoid what I had done. I needed to maintain the picture of someone who did things for valid reasons.  I wanted to justify my bad behavior.  All of it was just a vehicle for hiding from myself, fearing that exposing my true problems would make me a pariah of sorts.  But in my weakness, God makes me strong.  I was made whole by just yielding to that pain.

We are all broken individuals, struggling through life, trying to make it work.  Not one of us is truly special.  We are just people, trying to be loved by people.  People with pain and scars and misdeeds.  Human.  Don’t avoid who you are because you’re afraid of what someone else will think. 

Let that pain burn through you and be cleansed like iron in fire.

The Bird Revelation (Spoiler Alert) by M. Dionne Ward

Mark 8:36 King James Version (KJV)

36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?



I hope everyone had a good holiday. It was quite relaxing for me, and I spent a lot of time with the fam at home playing video games, watching movies and just enjoying my wife.

Now, my wife and I like to watch movies together, usually we can agree on some rom-com or mildy violent drama. This particular night, we ended up watching the final two Dave Chappelle specials on Netflix: Equanimity and The Bird Revelation. Initially I thought that both names described one special, but it was actually two different venues, with The Bird Revelation being filmed in secret at The Comedy Store in LA.

Now, Dave is hilarious. Both specials hit home with topics that we grappled with throughout 2017, like Trump, the me-too sexual misconduct allegations and trans-sexuals. Dave is unapologetic, but he does offer his sympathies about how he makes people feel about what he says. Good stuff, you should really check it out when you have time.

That being said, I want to discuss The Bird Revelation for a moment. Dave is very candid here towards the end of the special and paints this somewhat cryptic analogy using the last few bits of the book "Pimp" by Iceberg Slim (I need to read this, but I already got it locked in on my Hoopla app). I say somewhat cryptic because once he lays down the last line of the special, you should know what he meant by the whole thing. You should get the analogy.

So, spoiler alert. If you plan on watching it, come back and read this later.

You good? Ok. So, Dave talks about the term, "mileage on a ho". In street terms, this means how much a hooker can turn tricks before she officially goes crazy. Too much mileage means the ho will end up being useless to herself or anyone else. Anyway, Iceberg Slim is about to let his Bottom Bitch (his best and most profitable ho) go because she's at the end of her mileage. But, he convinces her to turn one last trick. This last trick has her drugging a client and stealing a briefcase of money.

Now, in the midst of it, the deed is done but the client ends up overdosing. The chick calls Iceberg to tell him she needs help. Doesn't know what to do. Iceberg says he'll help her, but lets her know that he has no part in it because she's the one that gave him the drugs. still, he'll help her get out of it. He calls one of his contacts to get the body out. Pays him from the case of money. Pays a doctor, too.

But, after all of that, he tells her that she owes him. That she will need to work off that money he just spent to get her out of trouble. Even knowing she's at the end of her rope, she ends up tricking for him for a few more months.

And he says that's why he went to Africa. Do you get it now? Once he said that I was immediately hit with an "AHA!" I just stared for a second like I'd been hit with the greatest revelation ever. It was just so on point. Basically, Dave said that he realized that Comedy Central was trying to pimp him. He was their "Bottom Bitch". Even though they knew he couldn't do that damn show forever, they tried to game him by throwing a bunch of money at him. But all that would do is make him compromise himself in a way that he was not willing. Not only was it insulting to him, but it shook him to his core in a way that he really needed to get away and think about his life and what he wanted.

Dave is really good at what he does. Really damn good. Probably the greatest comedian ever. But he wasn't going to be pimped. And I get that. What's really sad is that most of these Hollywood types don't even know they're being pimped.  But Hollywood is the greatest hustler there ever was, and most don't know the difference between freedom or chains.

Being good at what you do means calling your own shots and knowing when enough is enough. And Dave knew it was over.

Ask yourself, what do you do in your life that makes you compromise yourself in a way that causes you stress? Do you go on with a job that grates on your soul just so you can get a paycheck? Recently one of my good friends decided he had worked his pointless gig enough and he needed to go back to school. But I knew that he'd had enough way before then. I knew he'd gotten all he could out of that job and it would do nothing for him anymore. It was time to go. I knew that years ago. I just wish he had known. But everyone gets their wake up call when they need it, I suppose.

God's wisdom will guide those that are open to it.


Insight from Mr. Robot by M. Dionne Ward

Started watching Mr. Robot, again. 2nd Season.

Interesting watching Elliot wrestle with this other part of himself, trying to hold it back,
to obstruct the tidal wave of electronic disaster he wishes to unleash upon the world. 

And he realizes it's futile.

How amazingly human that is, to struggle against insurmountable odds. David and Goliath
rewound and replayed with today's pristine standards.


What is to be left, if we choose to give up? Are we just hopeless, hapless Ronin, roaming the
countryside, hoping to be given a purpose again?

Elliot needs purpose, or else his life is just a struggle of pushing a part of himself so far
down that he smothers it. Or, maybe that's just it. That's what life is for some of us.
Starving our madness until we are deemed sane.

Is that human? All human?

His struggle against the inevitable intrigues me. As well as this esoteric portion of inner
turmoil, where we come to these glorious epiphanies about life because of what we endure. 

Because it's fascinating to see the cauldron bubbling from inside. And, most importantly, it's good for my writing.

The Light by M. Dionne Ward

The light doesn't exist because of darkness. Maybe that's it. It's possible the light is just around. Just there because it is good. Existing for its sake alone. Darkness is REALLY just the absence of light, not the opposite of it.

Maybe that's what writing is for me...for my mind's sake, it exists if only for me to make sense of the senseless. To persist with a blind man's stick, inching about tap, tap, tapping the fuck away so as not to be lost. And for it to be absent, presents an emptiness that is frustrating and evil and heart-aching above all else.

It solves problems. Keeps the program running like it should. Tap, fucking tap. Grants meaning. Tap, tap, tap.

There would be a hole that couldn't be filled, I suppose. God likes to make jokes, and I think the big "Marcelle joke" is that writing will be something I yearn for, for all my years but I'll never find success with it.

Still, the light, though. There's nothing like reading the words aloud and hearing the power slide off each syllable like oil from a piston. It's magnetic and intoxicating and exhilarating. It's everything to me like basketball was everything to Jordan, I guess. 

That me, however, cannot be defined by anything like writing. As a human, I'm much too complex. Complexity aside, I accept it as my personal superpower. I just have to learn how to use it effectively. I'm like that Smallville Superman: the most powerful being on the planet and it took him 10 damn seasons to finally fly.

Mediocrity by M. Dionne Ward

Maybe we all need to be ok with being mediocre at something.
We all can't be geniuses at everything and anything.

Recently, I came across this guy, whom will remain nameless, that was ecstatic that he'd published his own book. Yeah, I've done it. Twice now. And they are, reasonably average at best and at worst, blaring horns of resounding mediocrity. Testaments to my own self-aggrandizement. 

And also, labors of love.

So, his labor of love, if it was that, was a terrible read.  From the beginning, it was hard to read. It started out with sentence fragments and over-explained situations, taking us stutter-step through the main character's waking moments. 

As much as it was hard to read for me, I can only imagine that someone with better skills would find my best work hard to read for them. I can only guess.

Anyway, as delusional as that guy was, I can't be one to deny my own delusions. I suppose I think I'm a better writer than I actually am, with more potential than the law allows. That I'm good at something, without putting my all into it for more than a decade. I haven't suffered enough to be a good writer. To even say I'm a writer, maybe I'm subconsciously hoping that I'll receive some validation that has weight.

It's possible that the delusions persist as a human condition. Just to help us reach our pinnacle, if there is one. 

Scratching Its Way Out by M. Dionne Ward

I've been working on a few short stories, hunting and pecking in my head, piecing them out inch by inch. It's great to see how much I've grown, writing. I've also been doing some Critter critiques on  This has helped the most because I can see just how much other writers struggle with how to express themselves. How to push out a head full of dreams on paper is a daunting errand. Some won't make it to the finish, but I intend to overcome all obstacles.

I think that immersing myself in my loves and joys has given me so much hope! My wonderful wife, lovely and sometimes frustrating children and various horror and sci-fi stories that I'm reading lend so much to my progress. I'm glad of that, for sure, as the days are dreary without them.

These short stories may be nothing. So what. Who cares if they don't hit the mark of commercial success? All I know is that I have to write them. That's all that I feel, the need to create, scratching its way out of my mind.

Writing again by M. Dionne Ward

I shudder to think of a life much less than I have or could, noting the great difficulty with which I gathered myself to this place. I'm horrible at finishing things that require great focus, or at least I was, and I feel as if my body can't hold it all together. It's as if I'm that old bear you had as a kid, tattered and dirty thing, tufts of cotton pouring out at torn seams, dreadfully misused but immensely loved. Ugh. Everything hurts.

Let me just say I have not yet withered into a heap. I'm not that pile of leaves in the back yard waiting to be bagged up and tossed with the yard waste. I'm still standing! I'm still strong. I believe in me and I'm working towards something better. Something epic. I need to create my legend. NEED. It will take so much work, but I'm no longer afraid.

I've been listening to different podcasts that are exemplary and basically have deified the genre for me, that I am singularly sold on the idea of writing. Podcasts like Psuedopod, Starship Sofa, Lightspeed, Nightmare Magazine and No Sleep are my mainstays. They've basically jump started my fascination with fiction once again. The hooks are in so good they've drawn blood. I'm excited.

I'm excited that I'm passionate about these stories in my head. I've also joined in order to get some much needed feedback and critique on these burgeoning ideas. 

We'll see what the future holds. But if there's anything I've learned in the last few weeks, the future is mine to shape. It's all up to me. If I fail in this, it's my fault. Yet, who's to say that could be considered failure?


Mitigation of Creating by M. Dionne Ward

Disquiet looms in my being as I think of such glorious
possibilities of art and creation. Not because I'm overjoyed at
what I could create with these ideas of mine, but because of what
happens when I try. It's because of the feeling of worthlessness
that comes when a piece is created. The questions of its value
persist in my head, stark stabs in my psyche that cripple my
momentum. I'm stunned into inaction again.

Today I took a look at the works of James Rosenquist, a
revisitation of a trip made to the Grand Rapids art musuem. His
works, such as Rinsi and Strawberry Sunglasses, are remarkable
testaments to creation, but more importantly they are examples of
what I could do. Things that I should emulate. I like how he tends
to juxtapose several images that are seemingly unrelated, creating
a cohesive, fluid composition. 


I tend to get reflective in these moments, and I thought on what I
learned in High School from my art teacher, James Maguire. He is a
great artist and draftsman, and taught me how to really draw.
Later he gave me a foundation with the elements and principles of
design, which I continue to reference. 

So, if I can get even a smidgen of what I have learned into a
piece that is as powerful as Rosenquist's, maybe I can get
somewhere. But it has to start with WORK, not pity. These little
momements of sorrow tend to do nothing but cast doubt on my
future, when I should care about NOW. Andy Warhol once said "Don’t
think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide
if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they
are deciding, make more art." This is good advice. The greatest

Conversely, there is Rosenquist's take on being an artist: "I
think being an artist is having courage to be original. It's hard
to describe, because many great artists, including Picasso, have
all been influenced by the great master paintings, Spanish
paintings, whatever. Their art has looked like them, they've been
influenced by them, and then finally, they leap, they take off.
And then they become themselves. Then it looks like they just came
out of nowhere." 

And that is where I am. At a crossroads. At mitigation with these
two ideas, while not exactly in opposition, that are terribly
difficult to attain.

I Never Expected to be Great by M. Dionne Ward

I never expected to be great. It wasn’t something that I was taught. I was more or less left to my own devices in my childhood, progressing merely by the strength of my own intelligence and not truly through the encouragement or the emboldening of my personage. I didn’t know how to be anything that was beyond my world, but I did know that I was different than those around me in my family and in my neighborhood. I was an outcast for this fact, amongst others. Such as being taller than most of my peers. I didn’t really belong at all. This need to belong can really define your values as you grow, and if there is nothing positive inserted within this desire, it can lead to a more destructive path.

What is belonging, anyway? Is it just a way to show that you are in solidarity with a certain group? Early on, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, I can remember being set apart from my cousins on my father’s side of the family. I can remember being told that I spoke “proper” English. Not really sure if this denoted a negative or positive in their mind at the time, but the separation lingered.  It was something that I could not adjust, really, because being so young I didn’t know what it meant. The way I pronounced my words, in retrospect, came from the difference in school districts we attended. I was attending a mostly White school district whereas my cousins attended a predominantly Black one. Even today, my speech is markedly different, even though I use slang regularly.  

In high school, I began to understand that I was not just Black or smart or athletic.  I was all of these things and dared belong in all of the areas afforded me.  Participation in sports made me a well-known person, although I was not necessarily a remarkable athlete. My problem was that I didn’t know which area to devote myself to as far as being smart or being an athlete. I didn’t have the push from my parents or the encouragement to be better, all that I was told was that I need to go to college, and that my mother couldn’t pay for it. So, that became my goal.  Not that college would make a path for me to be great, but to attend in and of itself was great. For if I finished, as my mother pointed out, I would be the first to have graduated from college in my immediate family.

I cannot stress how important it is to inspire children to be the best of themselves. Most times, I had no clue what was going on around me. When I was up to take the ACT, I was not prepared in the least, and as a result, received a really low score.  Low enough, in fact, that it made me think that something was really wrong with me. That I wasn’t really smart enough. That I had been lied to all those years.  But, what it really came down to was the failure of my parents to prepare me for what I must do. I was set adrift in the sea of life without a functioning paddle. Without a real support system. Without goals. Intentions. Anything could have helped. Truly, this is why White people do so much better in these instances, because their families are usually abreast of the situation and know exactly what to expect. They have likely already procured resources to assist their children. They often have savings set up. Black people, unfortunately, lag far behind in this area.

Today, I still suffer from the failures of my adolescence. Since I was smart, I often did not study or put forth effort that surpassed my peers. My “just enough” was sufficient to pass my classes with mostly high marks. Essentially, I skated through high school. I never had trouble with any courses, really. Even math. Most of my time was spend talking to girls, playing sports or just being an unruly teenager. I had no account of what it meant to be anything to anyone, because there was no one to emulate. By the end of my senior year, I had decided to take the ASVAB test. I scored so high that I was recruited heavily by the Marines. I actually enlisted and was able to ship out to basic training. The only thing that stopped me was a relatively unknown loophole that allowed for enlisted men who have received scholarships to void their contract. A week before I was to ship out, I received an academic and art scholarship from an obscure school called MacMurray College out of Jacksonville, IL.

Maybe I should have gone. Maybe the choice I made was the best. I no longer speculate because I still love how it all has played out. The main thing I want people to understand is that to be great takes an entire support system. It takes a family that knows what is going on and what is needed to accomplish your goal. It takes making a plan and setting goals, mapping out a determined path for your life well before you are thrust into the adult world. Black people don’t always benefit from this point of view because we aren’t knowledgeable for the most part. We often have lofty dreams that aren’t grounded in reality or lazily participate in the education of our most loved and adored investments: our children. If they are truly the future, then we must allow them to be great by motivating them to be more than we could ever be. This can only be accomplished by communicating to them the importance of setting goals, planning for the future and admonishing them of complancency.

We Are Worthy by M. Dionne Ward


Black People,

We are worthy, to progress under our own momentum and stride. Yet, with the culture that we have, as it continues to spiral into nonsense and depravity, we welcome nothing but the same. Our progress is hindered, under a collapse of morality and the elevation of this silly victim mentality that has encapsulated the whole of Black and African-American life. Hidden in plain sight are individuals that only derail our case for legitimate understanding in this country. These are the cowards that will make apologies for our issues as if we are invalid, poor beggars without any agency. Fools that sell us short for fame and applause and pity, whilst we suffer to no end, victims of our own blind rage.

People like DL Hughley will have you believe that we are witnessing a sort of racist uprising of Whites in this country, where their deceptive and covert motives scurry forth in the night like vipers hoping to poison any unsuspecting Black person.  Best stay “woke”. But those “woke” individuals are simply sliding into dream states, nodding off as they are taken by another venomous coward: the pro-Black. Make no mistake, there are still racists that exist in every nook and cranny, every crevice, and the covert representation likely undermines the overt.  However, does this mean that we turn the advances that we have made into middling sticks and straw and throw them in the fire, to be burned in the fires of revenge we will feel is our due?

We set these fires, languishing on the destruction, hoping that it will be a beacon to resonate with those that share our struggle. We see this everywhere, individuals promoting Blackness through their own forum but they want you to donate some money to their cause. Under this guise they achieve some stardom and prominence as advocates for Blacks but do nothing but talk, less they be found out as the wanton and crass hypocrites they are so pronounced against. The foremost example being Dr. Umar Johnson’s failure to utilize the funds he procured from Blacks to create a school for other disenfranchised Blacks. And the wall of fire continues to consume everything. We are due more than these culture vampires. We’re worthy of more.

The foolish prattling of Tariq Nasheed, a petty individual that loves his Black skin but has the nerve to shame another Black man by making a puppet of him and calling it “Crispy”, which, for most Blacks, is a well-known pejorative for a dark-skinned person. How awful that his hypocrisy highlights the hypocrisy of us all, for he really is a totem for the Black conglomerate in the US. A long-time hustler, misogynist and self-evaluated “player”, Nasheed has made his money at the expense of our own foolishness. Sadly, his accomplishments are worthy of applause since they have allowed some of us to grasp a greater scope of the issue of Blacks in this country.

We are worthy to announce ourselves as great, even though we continue to perpetuate certain stereotypes that bleed into the social framework that is visible for others. We are treated as “retarded children” of the world, as our outbursts and anger and racism towards others goes vehemently unchecked, so much so that a Black female CNN correspondent can laugh and deride an entire racial majority of this country by saying “oh, poor White people”, while everyone looks on, afraid to say anything. It’s as if they are thinking, “Oh, don’t mind her. She doesn’t know what she’s saying. It’s just a mood she’s in. It will pass. Don’t think too poor of her. Look at all she’s had to endure.” This attitude, this muted condescension makes me want to throw up. We should be treated as equals. Ironically, the equality we beg for, we have thrown away in return for the ability to publicly embarrass ourselves and shame others without admonishment.

We cannot bridge the gap between what is good for Blacks and what is good for the country, because we are the raving, kicking screaming children in the room. We don’t want to talk, nor can we, because we’ve become so emotional that any idea or proposed plan comes out as a pitiful tirade aimed at those in power. People such as T.I., noted drug dealer and multiple felon, stoke the fires of dissention even more by telling us all that there is an agenda in the Trump administration, so any Black person going to speak with him should be met with scorn and derision. Wait, we shouldn’t have a seat at the table at all? We don’t deserve to air our grievances to the leader of this nation? Sentiments such as this only hurt our community. Yet, as my pastor has said on many occasions, “Hurting people, hurt people.” Blacks are really suffering and hurting, but I think it is a self-inflicted wound, a sore that has been picked until it has bled again. Since white people put it there in the first place, they get all the backlash, while, if we’d just try to heal, it would likely get better. And the healing begins with us. White people can say they’re sorry all day and give us a band-aid, but ultimately we have to take it and put it on.

Our worth is covered up, locked in chains, boxed up and inside a prison. We have waded through the muck and mire in order to rescue this worth, through pain, blood and sweat in this country. Here, we stand at the door, key in the lock, but we won’t open it for fear of what could be waiting. We don’t want to uncover this worth, which has sat for decades, dusty and immobile.  Maybe we are the racial equivalent of Dorian Gray, thriving outwardly, beautiful and wonderful, but afraid to look at our own image, for fear it will destroy us.  Maybe in that room, what is bound up is our potential, shining as a mirror, which we must look upon in order to see the truth.  And the truth, my dear people, is that we are simply scared to confront the one thing that truly has us running, cowering in fear: ourselves.

The Stormlight Archive, Part 2 by M. Dionne Ward

Revisiting the the epic saga of the Stormlight Archive, I'm generally impressed with several things that Sanderson does to compel the reader.

He builds the story, the world, if you will, upon the struggle of dark and light. We enter the story upon the back of a new war with an old face, and are instantly transported to the anguish and hardships that it has wrought. Much like Tolkein and Herbert before him, Sanderson is a master at weaving a story with people and places that are unique and breathable, where each character is glowing with life and personality.

Kaladin, as I stated in a previous post, is the most compelling thus far, likely because he is the focus of most of the book, and because of him being a slave.  Now, he is not just a slave to his master Lighteyes, but a slave to his code of honor.  This is ultimately what draws his honorspren, Syl, to his aid and what allows her to grant him the great power to ride the winds of the storm.

I think we find that struggle of any sort, builds character. It opens the mind to ideas and abilities that might have remained dormant otherwise. We are reminded each day, whether it be in the media or in our own lives, that life is precious and often very difficult.  However, we as human beings seem to take it for granted. We have great suicide rates, abortion rates and ridiculous wars that work to polarize us, pushing us to oppose each other in a way that feeds our core values.

Much like Kaladin, I find myself having to take a stand. I have to look within myself and become something more than just a man...and to do such, takes an idea, an action and a commitment.

The Stormlight Archive by M. Dionne Ward

I just got through reading The first 2 books of The Stormlight Archive. Was not disappointed! Superb storyline, very carefully crafted characters and epic scenery that just pulls you into the mythos of this fantasy world. It ignited my imagination in ways not felt since reading Dune. I'm itching for the sequel, Oathbringer, due out next year.

Most importantly it left me with some incredibly illuminating ideas about honor, brotherhood and even God. Also, what it means, as a man, to be broken, and how that shapes your decisions afterwards. Kaladin, one of the protagonists, has the most captivating backstory, in my opinion, having gone from being a surgeon's apprentice, to a soldier, to a slave and finding redemption while serving those that he had sworn to never trust again. 

Riveting. In so many ways Brandon Sanderson digs into the humanity of his characters, showing them weak and vulnerable and flawed. This, of course, granted them an inherent strength regarded in the pain they felt and experienced.  

In the next few days I will comment on some important revelations this work has granted me.