Monday, January 30, 2017
Today, the Statue of Liberty shrugs.
Some of you have family somewhere overseas. I do not.
I do not, because four generations ago my great grandfather came here while his sister chose to stay behind. Her name, to the best of our knowledge, was Peltia Wollach (née Winokur) and she was lucky enough to die before the Shoah. As far as I could tell from the records digitized by JewishGen.com from Bialystok, Poland, and from documents in Yad Vashem, everyone else was murdered. Her husband Itzchak, and (I believe) five children - Chasia, Riwka, Tauba, Avram, and Jehoszua.
I am lucky that my ancestor, Szimon Winokur, came here in 1925. I am also lucky that he was white. If he had been Chinese, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 would have kept him out.
He brought his family here. One of his sons, my grandfather, was a small business owner. His son, my father, received a free education in New York, then went to Caltech. My father was, until his retirement, a doctor in a small town in Texas. He has six children - One is a Christian pastor. One is an executive director at a medical technology company. One is a conservative political philosopher, one is a chief technical officer in silicon valley, and my little sister is a doctor in Louisiana. I’m the one black spot on this record because I write books for a living.
We are all here, all contributing to this country because in 1925, a boat passed Ellis Island and nobody told the ill-clad funny-accented people in it to turn around because they were too poor or not Christian enough, or that they hadn’t been vetted properly. You all know the poetry - give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The green lady’s tablet doesn’t say a thing about whether those huddled masses were Chinese or Muslim or Jew or Arab. And, it specifically enjoins us to take those who yearn for freedom. It doesn’t say take a highly educated European or Indian on an H1-B visa. It doesn’t say take a Christian or a rich business owner or a diplomat.
But, look east, and you can see Libertas shrugging. There are weights around her robes, and her torch is flickering in New York Harbor.
And the politicians who had the poverty of spirit to diminish her poem by knicks and cuts, and now slashes, could at least have the honesty to add their caveats and fears to the tablet she carries before it sinks to the bottom.
This nation is supposed to have been founded by pioneers. People like Franklin, who defied a Crown. People like Lewis and Clark who went west, not knowing exactly what they’d eat or what they’d find. People like Teddy Roosevelt, who took a bullet, then smiled through a speech.
We’re supposed to be a culture of people who are rugged and risky and independent. And yet, when you are more likely to be killed by a shark attack than a terrorist, we are told that we need protection. We are told we should be afraid. And the people who are telling us we need to be afraid are the very people who benefit most from our fear. Fear is their currency. Don’t make a deposit.
I want to quote at length from the book The Moon is Down, by Steinbeck, written in the midst of World War 2. This passage is from the end of the book, when Mayor Orden is going to be executed for not capitulating to the conquering authority. The people of the conquered city have gotten access to explosives from the British, and the conquering enemy (in the person of Colonel Lanser) wants the mayor to tell his people not to use them.
The Mayor spoke proudly. "Yes, they will light it. I have no choice of living or dying, you see, sir, but - I do have a choice of how I do it. If I tell them not to fight, they will be sorry, but they will fight. If I tell them to fight, they will be glad, and I who am not a very brave man will have made them a little braver." He smiled apologetically. "You see, it is an easy thing for me to do, since the end for me is the same."
Lanser said, "If you say yes, we can tell them you said no. We can tell them you begged for your life."
Doctor Winter broke in angrily, "They would know. You do not keep secrets. One of your men got out of hand one night and he said the flies had conquered the flypaper, and now the whole nation knows his words. They have made a song of it. The flies have conquered the flypaper. You do not keep secrets, Colonel."
From the direction of the mine a whistle tooted shrilly. And a quick gust of wind sifted dry snow against the windows.
Orden fingered his gold medallion. He said quietly, "You see, sir, nothing can change it. You will be destroyed and driven out." His voice was very soft. "The people don't like to be conquered, sir, and so they will not be. Free men cannot start a war, but once it is started, they can fight on in defeat. Herd men, followers of a leader, cannot do that, and so it is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars. You will find that is so, sir."
Lanser was erect and stiff. "My orders are clear. Eleven o'clock was the deadline. I have taken hostages. If there is violence, the hostages will be executed."
And Doctor Winter said to the colonel, "Will you carry out the orders, knowing they will fail?"
Lanser's face was tight. "I will carry out my orders no matter what they are, but I do think, sir, a proclamation from you might save many lives."
Madame broke in plaintively, "I wish you would tell me what all this nonsense is."
"It is nonsense, dear."
"But they can't arrest the Mayor," she explained to him.
Orden smiled at her. "No," he said, "they can't arrest the Mayor. The Mayor is an idea conceived by free men. It will escape arrest."
Steve Bannon, who is now inexplicably advising the president on matters military, reportedly said he wanted to bring our entire system crashing down. But our system - our system of free people who do not want or need to be ruled - is like Mayor Orden. It can’t be destroyed, because you can’t destroy an idea. The idea may be silenced. It may leave its home, for a time. But, as long as people can think, no idea can die.
The Statue of Liberty may step down from her podium, she may sink below the surface, but will still be there. And, when the moon is up, you will see her shining through a rippling surface, ready to stand again.
I should end on that note, but I want to close with something pragmatic, because this can’t all just be talk. Barney Frank - the first openly gay congressman in US history - gave an interview to New York Magazine shortly after he retired. He said something that I’ve never forgotten:
I believe very strongly that people on the left are too prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful. I have a rule, and it’s true of Occupy, it’s true of the gay-rights movement: If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping, because you’re out there with your friends, and political work is much tougher and harder. And I think it’s now clear that it is the disciplined political work that we’ve been able to do that’s won us victories. I am going to write about the history of the LGBT movement partly to make the point that, in America at least, this is the way you do progressive causes.
For a lot of us, in recent times politics has gotten a lot less fun and a lot more scary. I know we have to buoy each other up, but I say this as a professional writer of jokes - let’s take politics to an even less fun place.
When I heard about the immigration ban, the first thing I did was to order 400 sheets of paper, a giant roll of stamps, and a bulk box of envelopes. I will be writing letters as frequently as possible to all of my representatives. And, if they do not stand against this prodigy of indecency, I will personally donate to whoever opposes them. And, if Trump defies a federal judge’s order, I will join those calling for an impeachment.
You cannot arrest the mayor.
January 29, 2017
PS: I’m declaring this document public domain. Feel free to share any way you like.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons for 15 years now. I started shortly after I began playing Magic: The Gathering and aside from each being a creative outlet that helped me develop an almost instinctive understanding of statistics they have been (more importantly) a lot of fun.
In lieu of anything else to write about at the moment I figured I would make a few things for use with Dungeons and Dragons and try and take you all thru my creative method in hopes that you might apply this knowledge to your own creative endeavors both in the game and outside of it.
I will also use this as an opportunity to criticize little issues I have had working with the system all these years, looking back on it with all I have learned playing it, and what I have learned playing other games like “Dark Souls”, “The Elder Scrolls”, “Fallout”, and the trillion other RPG’s and management simulations I have played.
This is going to be a reoccurring blog-type as I just keep hammering out things and not all of them can be turned into elements in my “random fantasy novel ideas” folder.
And not all my ideas boil down to, "Gorgeous woman with magical powers."
What Have I Got: A Country
It is difficult to be creative, more difficult to be original. Often times original concepts are too different for players (or readers if you are writing a fantasy book) to take hold of or take seriously. How does a government work? What are some cultural traditions or taboos? What are the races? What are the languages?
In real life countries are incredibly complex entities, the idea of the Nation-State is less than 200 years old, an idea spun out of several world events, Otto Von Bismarck uniting the various German states, the restoration of the Emperor and modernization of Japan, and the United States' Civil War. Prior to these events the idea of an Empire on the large scale, community on the small scale, and a crown head of state in the middle defined how “countries” interacted.
The idea of a nation, of a single larger body politic that was both responsible to the will of the people and united by a common boarder was a newer concept that was put to the test with the creation of Turkey after WWI and India and Pakistan after WWII. What it meant to be a part of a national history or people is constantly evolving, so how do you reflect that in the fictional world in a way that feels real?
For me I looked at something from history and used it as best as I could to help explain something that appears often in Dungeons and Dragons that DOES NOT EXIST in the real world. The thing that doesn’t exist? The “Common” language.
The Common Tongue
There are two ways to use the idea of a common language in the game of Dungeons and Dragons. #1 is that it is the language of trade.
Common in this instance is not the language of a country, but the language of tradesmen, people who move between countries or who interact with those who do need to have certain terms and symbols that everyone can understand to facilitate the exchange of goods. Words for numbers, colors, sizes should all be present. Words that describe types of materials, cloth, metal, porcelain, and the quality of each (though all good traders selling will say, “it’s the best” and everyone who is buying will say, “It’s the worst” so you need words for best/worst/most/least).
English actually serves this function in a lot of the real world, mostly for three reasons, 1) there are English speaking communities in every hemisphere because of the British, 2) the US dollar is the base currency of the world with all other currencies pinned to its value, and 3) the United States is the largest economy in the world and uses English in all its deals. But English was unmistakably the language of a people before it became the language of trades people which takes us to the second potential role of the language of “Common”, that it is the language of a particularly powerful/wealthy/communal country, and everybody uses it because they are kind of stuck with it.
So here is an example of a country founded on the idea of making “Common” something that used to be hectic. Feel free to change the names of anything to fit into your own campaign world, I typically use my own pantheon of gods and decided to use the Greyhawk gods for this example.
The Kritarchy of Xeer
Capital: Moot’s Keep
Symbol/Flag: Blue text on a white background (“The Law”)
Highest Office: Chief Justice
Government Structure: Kritarchy (an order of Judges and Barristers dubbed, The Moot)
Racial Demographics: Halfling, Human, Orc
Religious Demographics: Kord is the most popular god
Motto: “Thru trial and hardship we stand together”
In the past dozens of tribes were held in a perpetual state of feuding over hunting and water rights in the Golden Plains. These tribes would clash, form alliances, schism, and be assumed within each other generation to generation. Banners changed color, war paint styles changed pattern, fighting styles, tactics, cooking, and fashion swirled between them.
At year zero, Kombi Salax, an advisor and wise man for one of the larger tribes invented a system of writing and arithmetic that could be used to communicate between the tribes and to record the history and traditions of the tribes that previously had only used an Oral tradition. This is the origin of what people now call the “Common” language.
Common allowed for a vast and comprehensive history to be recorded, cultural traditions to be codified into what was dubbed “What is Known”. A council of wise men chosen from each tribe were brought together to make a single great code that cited “What is Known” to make a single all-encompassing societal structure, “The Law”.
Kombi is seen as the supreme founder of the nation of Xeer, and the title of Judge is a position of great prestige, and is exceptionally hard to attain. Having mastery of the language, a deep and broad knowledge of history, and knowing how to reference and cite the Law to maintain order.
In a community there is a chief and officers of the chief who enforce the law, and judges and advocates that seek to ensure that those accused of violating the law are protected from false persecution and given a fitting punishment. As to whether a chief is a hereditary position, appointed by a council, or elected varies from community to community, but the ultimate power is a council of Judges which reside at Moot’s Keep, keeping a vast library of historical texts and record of criminal offenses while constructing treaties and new laws as needed to fit within the bounds of their internal codes.
The national military is feudal in system, with chiefs drawing upon their own men to band into larger military units, which would be a difficult to manage mess if not for numerous rules that help to regulate how soldiers should be trained, how chains of command work, and obligations an individual tribe has to contribute to the defense of other tribes.
While the days of tribal warfare are over, inter tribe rivalry still exists and is mostly settled on the sports’ fields. Athleticism, sportsmanship, and a commitment to pushing one’s limitations are all high virtues in Xeer society. Personal honor and commitments to higher causes are seen as laudable and more Paladins and Monks come from Xeer than any other nation. This is seen as ironic because the single most popular god is Kord, god of strength and athleticism.
Alignment, Roleplaying Citizens, and Treasures
There is a natural tension in the country between seeing rules as the basis for just competition, but at the same time a looseness to how the systems function in practice with the constant jockeying for position in the overall hierarchy of prestige and honor. If looked at from the outside their propensity toward law would cause them to be seen as “Lawful”, but from within, the number of laws that have to be drawn up to cover the numerous situations and to settle the conflicting cultural traditions and establish a peace, the citizens would see themselves as “Chaotic”.
The truest statement in regards to their alignment is that towards “good”. They are generous because they see generosity as noble, they are athletic because they see that competition brings out the best in each other and themselves, the follow the rules because they see rules as beneficial to the communities, they break rules if they feel the rules are a detriment to communities. The do not see a rule as important intrinsically, and is only worth keeping and enforcing if it is noble or beneficial, conversely they do not see rules as intrinsically wrong nor “freedom” as always the best state of being as too much freedom detracts from community.
Xeer is a nation of people who are confident, combative, but as always a good sport about it all. They should be seen as fast to be friends and fast to challenge people to competitions, boasting of victory and cheering on those who have defeated them. They always start out by reviewing the rules so that everyone knows them, but if a rule is hard to understand or is making the game less fun they will re-write the rules to everyone’s liking and remember the changes to suggest to others in the future.
Treasure found in their territory will by and large have more championship belts, laurel headbands, and rings as status symbols. Their dungeons and keeps will have lots of murals to sporting events and statues of great athletes. Trophy halls filled with little statues made of precious metals or engraved stones will be common.
Future Dungeons and Dragons Discussion
I have plans to talk about other things in the future, maybe something as broad as, “Currency in Dungeons and Dragons” and something as specific as, “Here is an NPC I Made”. If you have any suggestions or questions on writing for Dungeons and Dragons leave a comment and I will probably get back to you as few people comment and I like the attention.
These updates will be infrequent and random. Probably. I don’t know.
The Beg for Attention
Sunday, January 22, 2017
I keep hearing/reading a certain analogy in regards to President Trump. And in a way I see the appeal of the analogy. It goes something like this.
“The President is sort of like the pilot of the great big plane we are all flying in. Much like you wouldn’t like the idea of a pilot failing (even if you do not like them as a person) you should not want President Trump to fail, or hope for that to happen.”
And to a degree I agree. BUT, this analogy is imperfect and works under certain assumptions.
1) The flight in question is not a voluntary experience for most of the people on this plane. The only way off the flight is to “jump off” which would probably analogize to your death.
2) I and many others did not want him to be the pilot, so I am going to complain about it at least as much as the guy who got the wrong in flight meal would complain. I think that is fair.
3) Hoping for President Trump’s success also assumes a few things like that he is a pilot, who knows how to fly the plane, knows where he is flying it to, and will know how to land it when he gets there. I am not sure that he knows these things.
4) This also assumes Trump is not going to just fly the plane up to a cruising altitude, sabotage the thing, and then parachute out so as to collect on some insurance scam. Which sounds plausible.
5) Lastly, this also assumes President Trump is not some agent of a foreign power who is going to fly the plane to the middle of nowhere so everyone on board can be taken as political prisoners. And that place rhymes with Prussia.
Hoping for someone to succeed is generally a good thing, but only when they
are aiming to do something kind to the rest of us. And beyond that they have to be able to demonstrate both the mental faculties to accomplish that thing, and you have to trust what they are saying by looking at their past actions and words.
When President Obama took office various flavors of deplorable people said he was going to take away everyone’s guns, declare Sharia Law, institute death panels that would process the old and sick into early graves, and/or be a dick to people. None of that came true, but it is important to note that President Obama never said that he would do those things.
Let me contrast this behavior.
When I speak out against President Trump, I am quoting his own words. In context. I am pointing to things he did or did not do. I am looking at evidence, some of it too sketchy to base a solid opinion off of, but I am looking for and at EVIDENCE. I disagree with and am judging President Trump by HIS WORDS AND DEEDS.
I am not making up wild conspiracies. I am not protesting an empty chair. I look at a person who has been a public figure for 40+ years who has stated goals that I disagree with and have EVIDENCE to back up why I feel the way I feel and think the way I think.
If you want to cheer for President Trump because his success is “our” success that is your business. But if you expect me to cheer with you, to “give him a chance”, or even to just stop speaking against him. YOU NEED TO GIVE ME EVIDENCE AS TO WHY I SHOULD DISCARD ALL THE HORRIBLE THINGS HE HAS SAID AND DONE.
Right now, there are people calling for the barring of refugees from our country because they share the faith of some terrorists. These human beings are children who have watched their world burn, women who have seen their families die, men who do not want to be drafted into an army that will kill innocent people, and some of them are probably rotten assholes because there is never a short supply of those. But right now people are calling for homeless and stateless refugees not to come to the US because they look like someone we dislike.
I am speaking against a man who has shown himself to be rotten. I do not want him to succeed because his duplicitous behavior has shown him to be untrustworthy. I feel his success is our plight. And I am basing this not off racism, not off fear of a religious group, not off of jingoism, I am basing my opinion off of what I know about him.
Friday, January 20, 2017
I have a subscription to Audible. They do not sponsor this blog, I am not important enough for that, but I do use them and will probably review a book I get from them every so often. I did it before with “Miss Peregrine’s Home…” and now I am doing it with the first ever book by Kurt Vonnegut that I have ever read, “The Sirens of Titan”.
The story starts out as a somewhat low key sort of science fiction, there are spaceships and humanity has done some activity in space, but have decided not to do anymore because there exists a special anomaly in our solar system that has a funny name. The funny name is said often and it is a running gag. The main characters are all deeply flawed, even the time traveling mind reading billionaire who sets the plot into motion.
The story is pretty grounded initially, as most of the action takes place on Earth but takes an abrupt turn into Crazy Town in the second act as the main character joins a militia on Mars that is hell bent on invading Earth. The third act has a bigger twist about the underlying motivations of the plot, so much of a twist that it kind of makes the rest of the story feel a little like a cheat. The story end on a real downer. No other way to put it.
I like half of the underlying philosophy, as a big thrust of the story seems to be that you should not attribute to god that which is just luck. That the universe is guided by chance and some people get advantages that they don’t deserve and they should not rub other people’s noses in it. The other half of the thing seems to be about how free will is mostly a crock, that we are guided by impulses and machinations well beyond our perceptions and even if we could perceive them we would not be able to understand them. I suppose there is some charm to that idea too.
Overall the story has some funny wordplay and solid characters, I could see this being adapted into a movie or mini-series and am surprised it hasn’t been, the main character at times resembles one of the most egotistical people in America and it would work to lampoon them. I am also a little taken back by some of the fan art I have seen of the character of Salo, whom I pictured so differently from everyone else that I think I must have missed a big percentage of his physical description, or I just subconsciously ignored and chose to do something more interesting.
There are parts that will be a little slow and a little too out there for many people, the entire section on Mercury felt like a big waste of time. It is a good story but hard to recommend.
I "read" this by listening to it as an audio book, and I think that might have elevated it a bit. The narrator is best known as Dan Green, the voice of "Yu-Gi-Oh", and he has a range of voices that do a good job of differentiating the characters. A good performance can do a lot.
Maybe I will get another Vonnegut title in the future but I am trying to get a few titles by classic science fiction authors and he was just the first. I am currently listening to “Stranger in a Strange Land” and am so far liking it a great deal more.
If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world. I would appreciate it.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
I have been writing down lots of things about President-Elect Trump for the last few months. A joke here. A criticism there. Mostly I just felt too depressed to write anything. The secret reason I spent all of December writing about Disney movies. And with the inauguration coming up I am going to put into one big lump my feelings. Some of these were obviously supposed to follow certain events in the campaign. Just roll with it.
I didn’t really want this to be the first thing I write about this year.
There is an episode of the old "Batman" live action TV show in which the Penguin runs for mayor of Gotham and so Batman runs against him. The chief argument the Penguin used against Batman was, "(Batman) is often seen in the company of criminals."
During the second Presidential Debate, Trump kept saying things about tax breaks and "locker-room talk" that struck me as similar. That as bad as he is or was, he would retort with, “Hilary Clinton has friends and takes money from people who are just like me". Trump’s argument being, "don't vote for her, she has the low character of someone who could stand to be around someone LIKE ME".
But... her emails.
Ever since President-Elect Trump first announced he was running for the office of the Presidency, I have been wondering with creeping suspicion if I am in “The Twilight Zone”. That is not entirely true, at first I thought it was a joke like every other person in America. That changed.
He would mock a disabled person. Say something racist. Say something stupid. Say something misogynistic. Say something stupid. Stand next to his son, Eric, who looks like a lizard person while saying something stupid. All the while, more and more support was thrown his way.
His awful record as a business man was shown to the public and the fact that he was hiding more failures was obvious. “He’s a great business man,” could be heard as he got more support. He was the same obnoxious person he had been for decades. “He tells it like it is,” could be heard as he got more support.
Running in the party that claims family values as a core tenant… That alone is funnier than any joke I have ever made.
Let’s take a brief detour here. The whole “Locker Room Talk” thing. No one talks like that in a locker room. No one.
What sort of closeted-gay or insecure-idiot walks into a room full of naked sweaty dudes and has to immediately start telling everyone how “straight” or “slutty” they are? “Oh, yeah. I have all of the sex. Like, I… you know. I grab’m by the pussy. They let you do it... That is how that works right?”
Really think about the kind of mindset that goes into that.
Trump won. Not just the primary—The Party of “Traditional Family Values”—he won the whole shebang. He did it with fewer votes due to the arcane and poorly thought out system from 200+ years prior, devised by wealthy slave owners to keep wealthy slave owners in power… But he still won.
So I sulked and made myself laugh as I could imagine him making his cabinet nominations and I would make up little funny sketches for my own amusement.
Aide: “That might be a problem, sir”
Aide: “He was caught giving classified information to his mistress.”
Trump: “What’s the big deal?”
Aide: “You are not allowed to do that.”
Trump: “Eh, what could it hurt? I tell Melania classified things from my briefings all the time. Gets it her hot. After a solid half dozen thrusts I roll off and she rushes to tell all her friends in Moscow how great I am at sex.”
You see the joke right? That Melania is a Russian spy who pumps him for information and then relays it to Russia. It is humorous. Was humorous. Seems like every day I am proven less a jester and more a Cassandra.
What about his daily security briefings that he skips because he is “smart”? He’s might be right. Maybe you don’t need a briefing everyday of the same material. Unless you have no foreign policy experience and don’t know the people, places, and events by heart yet. In which case repetition and even asking questions would be called for. What do I know? I have only been studying politics and government my entire adult life and I still can’t give you a blow by blow accounting of events in Syria and neighboring areas.
So I, as a white-male-liberal have to come to that inevitable conclusion that things really are as ambiently racist and sexist as all of my non-white and non-male liberal friends claim. The people voting for Trump are as racist as he is, and deep down think that everyone is. They think they are forced to be polite by a society that punishes what they think is perfectly rational thoughts about hating minorities. They think that America is actually just a bunch of closeted racists hiding how they really believe because of some unseen Political Correctness gestapo.
The women who support him have been so brow beaten, so put in their place, and so degraded that they really do see Trump’s abusive and toxic behavior/words as, "What men are all really thinking." That they think that all guys care about is sex and ego. I pity them for not knowing anything else to the degree they can’t imagine it.
These supporters think that sexism and racism are normal. It is sickening. Both on that level and the fact that as a white male, I have to be associated with this sort of behavior.
To think, for all the mistakes I have made in my life I should have been acting worse and getting away with more. My “privilege” has just not gotten the workout it could have been getting this whole time. How many people are thinking that unironically I wonder?
During this, the creeping feeling of unreality was constantly swirling around. This can’t be real, right? But it has to be. Life is not a TV show. Life is a stupid chaotic mess and it rewards stupid chaotic messes.
But, let’s just say this is an episode of “The Twilight Zone”, what would be the science fiction or supernatural twist? I hadn’t made any bargains with Death or freed Satan from a locked room… At least not lately. I was just watching a sociopath become leader of the largest atomic weapons cache in the world. And it is not like “The Twilight Zone” ever dealt with Atomic weaponry…
So here I am. Hoping that there is some kind of twist ending that doesn’t involve the end of the world. That it was all just a dream. A virtual reality system testing how insane they could make it before I finally woke up. That aliens finally come down and slap our hands away from the control panels and show us how to do things properly. None of that will happen.
When I wake up tomorrow there will be a fresh set of tweets about all of his enemies, about how celebrities are overrated, and all of his handlers telling us not to listen to what he says, to ignore what he does, and to instead look into his heart. Because sometimes 2 + 2 is 4, sometimes it is 5, sometimes it is 3, sometimes it is all of them all at the same time. And I can’t seem to wake up.