Thanks to all of those who visited my last post about heading north. Even four likes makes me feel good to know that there are others out there who can empathize. Having returned from Grimsby, I can say that my mother in law is as well as can be expected. However, her dementia is severe enough that she will probably never return to her home and will live out her remaining days in a nursing home. In her case, that’s not such a bad thing. But thanks to all who shared their concern.
It’s been a roller coaster fortnight for me. Last week I had all the heavy metal thrills of going to the Download Festival, this week my wife and I have received news that her mother has been sectioned by social services for 28 days. Naturally, this has had a devastating effect on my wife and I’m doing my best to support her. However, it hasn’t left me time to write and at the weekend, we’ll be heading North to Grimsby to see my mother in law. Thank you all for your patience and hopefully, things will return to normal next week.
When I read about this last week, I had already written my weekly post for Peaceful Rampage and therefore, I thought I’d wait a week to see if there were any further developments. To my knowledge, there are none. The teacher in Newport, Kentucky who was suspended by her school for speaking out against bullying, remains suspended. If this is the first time you’ve heard about the story, then click the link below.
In short, here we have a teacher who is concerned about bullying at her school, so she speaks out about it. The school in response suspends the teacher for the rest of the school year without pay. Furthermore, the school has refused to speak out about bullying and even downplaying, it stating that the bullying problems were down to that teacher’s lack of classroom management. However, bullying has been reported to have happened throughout the entire school.
What we have is a school who wants to downplay or deny any bullying going on at their school. Furthermore, they take action against a teacher who is brave enough to speak out about it. So, chalk up another victory for bullies.
My question is when are schools going to own up to the fact that bullying still goes on. While I can understand that no school is comfortable with bullying happening at it, the answer is not to sweep it under the carpet. This happens all too often and I had no problem highlighting the point in “He Was Weird.” Furthermore, the worse thing the school can do is to take action against the person(s) who speak up about it. Sometimes it’s even the victim! Instead, what we need is for schools to get it out into the open, identify all bullying and come up with effective strategies that not only stop the bullying but prevent it from happening in the future.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496174939&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
It would be a complete lie if I didn’t admit that a large part of my writing “He Was Weird” was influenced by the speech by Jello Biafra I heard in 2005. After all, it was that speech that made me realize that in the case of school shootings, this could have been me. Also like Jello, one of the reasons why it was never me was that I had no access to guns or any money to go out and buy them. What I can say was that speech made me think and reflect back to less happier times in my past and that got me to write the book.
For the record, I never intentionally plagiarized anything Mr Biafra said in that speech. If anything, I took what was said and went the opposite way with it. The best example was with Jello’s constant identification of religion. In some of the school shootings he refers to, Columbine included, he points out the “being bullied to believe” attitude that permeates many small towns in America. He attacks the attitude that if children had more religion in their lives, they wouldn’t do such horrible things. Yes, I find it difficult not to laugh at that notion too. So what I did in the book was to make Mark a Born Again Christian. Fairly early in the story, he accepts Jesus as his Saviour but that does nothing to quell the bullying hell he is suffering. While his conversion leads to the best week of his young life, it is also short lived. What religion does do for Mark in preparation for his big day is to give him courage to carry out his rampage via two verses in the Bible. I guess hanging the ten commandments up in the classroom wouldn’t have prevented the shooting in this case.
Another big part of that speech playfully attacks those who are convinced that Marilyn Manson and violent computer games like Doom causes school shootings. I never followed the argument that games like Doom desensitize a person from violence. Most kids and adults play these games as a release and nothing more. Killing aliens and monsters and even enemy soldiers on a screen is a good way to unwind after a tough day. However, in “He Was Weird,” Mark doesn’t own any CDs or computer games that would contribute to him carrying out his shooting. No Marilyn Manson or Doom, the only music the police find in Mark’s room after the shooting are by two Christian Rock bands and the only computer games are an ice hockey game and the Age of Empires series. Of course, the latter is blamed on Mark’s rampage by some people. They argue that those games gave Mark the military know how to carry out his plan that day. As a result, some victims try to sue Microsoft and others try to get the teacher who ran the computer games club fired. Well, they had to blame something I guess.
There are probably other things in Jello Biafra’s speech which also influenced my writing of “He Was Weird.” These are only minor points and if I remember them, I’ll post about those in the future. The biggest things were religion and the belief that music and computer games cause school shootings.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495650963&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
A few weeks ago, I posted about how overjoyed I’d be if someone was to make “He Was Weird” into a film. I think the great majority of authors would be. However, I also stated my reservations about it as well, especially if the film was made by the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC. Like all authors, I would be fearful of the filmmakers changing too much of the book or delivering scenes in a way that might miss the point I was trying to make when I wrote it. The school shooting is the prime example. On the other hand, there were things not in the book that I would like to be put into the film, only because those items don’t transfer well between book and film.
If you look at the page of everyone I thank for their assistance when I wrote “He Was Weird,” you would find that the last thank you goes to former lead singer of the punk band Dead Kennedys and now a days, a political spokesman and social commentator, Jello Biafra. It was his speech on school shootings that encouraged me to write the book. When I first listened to that speech, I had to reflect back on my own life, especially during the three years of bullying hell I went through and conclude that in the case of school shootings: This could have been me.
In any movie on the book, I would hope that segments of the speech would be used in key points. The most obvious one would be when Mark is riding his bike to school on the big day. While I believe and have been told that I do a reasonably good job in showing how he is feeling as he is riding his bike to school to carry out his extravaganza, this would be hard to capture on film. Basically, Mark has come to the conclusion that he is a failure to everyone and that the town of Ramsgate is responsible so it’s only right that he end his life as well as those of his tormentors. Jello provides the right words here. So, during Mark’s final trip to school, we could hear Jello commenting:
“There is nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing to live for and therefore nothing to lose. Doesn’t particularly want to die but can’t see the point of living. Knows who wrecked their life and thinks ‘If I have to die, I’m taking them with me.”
I truly believe that this would be a powerful build up to the brutal climax to come.
Another point where Jello’s words can be useful is right after the shooting. While news of it spreads around the world quite rapidly and the introductory words to the speech could be used in any of the newscasts following the shooting, my personal preference would be when Mark’s love interest Lisa is coming downstairs the next morning and is about to be told about Mark’s deeds by her parents. This can be playing on the radio in the background:
“Dateline Hellburbia! Wallmart wasteland USA! Monster teenagers shot up their school again.”
Again, the power behind the speech would jar the people in the audience to the shock news that Lisa is about to receive.
The final use of Jello’s speech would come at the very end of the film and serve as a warning. While I do my best to end the story happily and we understand the why’s and how’s behind Mark’s actions as well as the effects it had on many people, the problems of bullying and other factors that might lead to a young person shooting up their school never disappear. So, while Mark’s sister Leslie and her boyfriend are walking off into the sunset before the closing credits, Jello’s voice will put a solid reminder to all with:
“No matter how much we drug, profile and ban music, some vacant stranger out there, raised on guns, raised on hate, mind fucked by pedophile relatives, molested by mind controlling drugs, smothered by successful older siblings and relatives will find a way to be pop star for a day and we’ll tune in and watch every time.”
Not all of the above applied to Mark but most of it did. I think all of these parts of Jello Biafra’s speech would fit in very well in a movie of my book. Now, I await the offers from film companies, fat chance.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494925485&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Throughout my life, I have been made to feel that there must be something wrong with me if I have interests which are not considered ‘the norm.’ What is normal anyway? There have been times when I have made to feel abnormal because of certain interests. In this case, as seen in last week’s post, it is my excitement when I see women engaged in acts of physical aggression.
Maybe it’s because of my Asperger’s, though I’m not using it to justify, but I have openly admitted that I get enjoyment out of the above. However, I think most men do, at least I’m honest about it. Throughout my life, whenever a female fight broke out, all males in the vicinity flocked like predators to a wounded prey to watch and they’ll be the most vocal about it. I’ve even witnessed occurrences in films and television where men have reacted the same way as if a live event. The problem is that most men don’t want to admit it, especially around women. I have been in this boat as well. However, my problem is that I could never keep a lid on it for long. That’s a trait of Asperger’s, most people who have the condition are sometimes too brutally honest about things like that.
Another reason why I know I’m not alone with my thoughts on this subject is the fact that it has now become so available thanks to the internet. It is extremely simple for anyone to find a women’s wrestling or a catfighting website. Plus there are plenty of material on Youtube. So if these things are so easily available, there must be a huge demand for it.
Before anyone simply writes this off as a typical man thing, I have also observed many women react the same way when men went at it. I mention in “He Was Weird” that at the elementary school, there seemed to be a fight every week. This was based on truth. There seemed to be that many fights at my school in fifth grade. Except for one girl bout, all the other fights were boys. When these broke out, the girls were just as quick as the boys to come, watch and cheer. Furthermore, there seems to be just as many females as males at pro wrestling events and I’ve heard ladies get rather vocal when fights broke out in ice hockey games. My own personal experience was when I went to a wrestling event and the advertised women’s match never took place. I questioned this with the ring announcer who gave a plausible explanation for why that match never happened. However, when I was questioning it, some woman walking past remarked, “He’s just mad because he couldn’t perv out on the ladies.” My response was, “So, it gave you another men’s match for you to do that.” She seemed to smile at that but I thought it was a good comeback.
Now that subject is exhausted let me move to another one where I don’t think I’m alone in my opinion. This is the case of visiting Eastern Europe, which has become a popular tourist destination in the past thirty years. However, I have no desire to see Eastern Europe. If anything, I had more of an interest in visiting Eastern Europe before the last thirty years, when it was under Communism. I’ve been told if I said that to any Eastern European over thirty, they’d probably slap me and I wouldn’t blame them. Communism did suck for those living under it at the time but I wanted to see that for myself. For me, the collapse of Communism has taken away my desire to go there. Now, Eastern Europe has become just another tourist trap.
I’ve been told that not many people share my view but I think there are more people who do than what those others think. Like me, Eastern Europe has lost its appeal to these people because it’s not different on account of being ruled by Communism. I wonder how many. Now, I don’t want those countries to go back to Communism just so I can visit. That wouldn’t be right but don’t expect me to want to go there.
To buy He Was Weird go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494270733&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
Par for the course now, many of my posts lead onto further posts and last week’s had led to my thoughts now. Last post, I talked about how I would be wary if the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) made a movie about my book, “He Was Weird.” I won’t go back over covered ground so if you’re reading Peaceful Rampage for the first time, then go back and read that post at your leisure.
What I am talking about here is one particular scene from the book. It has been called by some, the girl fight. Most readers deduce from the story that Mark’s one love interest, Lisa, is also getting bullied. Mark’s actions have an impact on her and her family. In fact, her father takes her away for the summer because of all the press attention afforded her through her brief liaison with Mark. She returns home after the summer and goes back to school. On the first day, she is accosted by her bullies, actually her chief bully and the bully’s followers. When Lisa tries to avoid confrontation, the chief bully remarks, “What are you gonna do? Get a gun and shoot me like your boyfriend did in New Jersey.” At this point, Lisa snaps and goes for her bully resulting in a one sided mauling of the bully.
Thoughts of how this fight would be made on the big screen fall into two camps. Camp one is the BBC. Like I said in the previous post, the BBC shies away from violence. Plus, there is a strong feminist core with the corporation who would think it wrong to see two girls engage in a fight no matter what the result or intention. Many readers are with Lisa in this part. However, in a BBC film, the fight would have been relegated to a face slap with the bully running off in tears, vowing to get revenge on the assailant. To me, that wouldn’t have been enough revenge against Lisa’s bully.
Camp two comes out of Hollywood. Throughout the century of film, there have been a good number of movies that had female fight scenes. Just check out Youtube. Therefore, Hollywood would have had the fight in its full glory. The downside to this is that it would not have been so one sided. From what I’ve seen from Hollywood, Lisa and her foe would have rolled around on the ground for a bit with some punches thrown both ways before Lisa finally prevailed. For me, that would have diminished the impact of the revenge she finally gets on her bullies. But to Hollywood, that wouldn’t have mattered because the men in the audience get to see a good ‘girl fight.’ BBC and Hollywood, one extreme or the other.
Now this brings me to the crux of the post. See, I would have been one of those men in the audience who would have been glad to see that female fight. I have always loved watching such things, starting when I saw my first lady’s wrestling match on TV when I was eight. With my Autistic anxieties, I’ve been afraid to speak out about it out of fear of being branded a perv. Especially as I find myself unable to explain exactly why this is the case. Furthermore, I fear that some people out there think that I put that girl fight into the story in order to get some sort of erotic thrill out of it. I assure you, that was not in mind at the time I wrote it. In “He Was Weird,” I wanted to show that Mark’s violent way of dealing with his bullies gave other victims the courage to stand up to their bullies in a less violent way. Lisa surely gets her revenge on her bullies. Hopefully that would be the conclusion of all of those who read that part. My fear is that should it be made into a film, that impact would be lost.
To buy He Was Weird go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493759398&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
What author wouldn’t want their book made into a move? There may be some but I know that I would. Seeing my words turned into real life on the big screen would be the ultimate achievement. However, I would be more than a little worried if the filmmakers happened to come from the British Broadcasting Company, the BBC. This isn’t because I think that the BBC would tamper with the plot or anything like that. No, my worry is over the fact that in the past, the BBC has shied away from violence. Take the fantastic 1970s television series, “I Claudius.” Having read the book, there were numerous accounts of gladiator battles plus Claudius’s remarkable conquest of Britain. Therefore, I would have expected some sword play in the series but there was none. I found that disappointing.
The BBC did make a film about one of the books on school shootings, which I post about, “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” In my opinion, the filmmakers didn’t do the book justice. I won’t go into some of the scenes from the book that were left out in the film, which I thought shouldn’t have been. It’s the scene were Kevin actually carries out his school massacre. We only get a few seconds of Kevin shooting his arrows. We don’t see any of them hitting their targets or any reaction from Kevin or his victims. Hell, the bow he used in the movie wasn’t the same type described in the book. This is my reservation about the BBC making the movie of “He Was Weird,” the shooting would be left out. All we would see is a five second clip of Mark shooting his Uzi and that would be it. Such a thing would do my book a great disservice.
If a movie was to be made from “He Was Weird,” it would be imperative to see the school shooting in full. Some readers were actually glad when Mark finally gets his revenge on his bullies, although some of those said that they felt a little guilty about that after they read of Mark’s carnage. They’re right though, the audience needs to see Mark finally get is revenge after all his suffering up until that point. One piece of feedback went further to say that one can feel him releasing all of his hate when he double taps (he shoots them again) some of those he shot. I’m not saying we need to see blood and gore on “Saving Private Ryan” scale, although there would be filmmakers who would go to that extreme but we would need to see the shooting from the first shots all the way to the end. I would worry that the BBC wouldn’t do that.
Other parts of the book could be omitted or expanded upon depending on how the filmmaker viewed those bits. I would be interested to see how Mark’s “Week in Paradise” would have been covered. Again, there, I would worry that some filmmakers would age Mark in the film so they could have a sex scene. from that chapter. I don’t see the need myself. Besides, that is where Mark officially enters puberty.
What caught the attention of New Generation Publishing was the ice hockey scenes. The head of the company told me he liked how the reader was reading about Mark scoring first the tie-ing goal and then the winning goal to give the Junior Flyers the championship. One second, you are celebrating with Mark on the ice, then all of a sudden, you’re back in his bedroom while he is celebrating because the computer is saying his team won. Therefore, I would hope that any hockey scene from the book, used in the film, would be real.
They will probably never make a movie from “He Was Weird,” but here’s to dreaming. I wouldn’t tell the BBC no if they offered but I would hope that they wouldn’t cut out any of the shooting or the bullying because both form the basis behind the entire story.
To buy He Was Weird, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493150135&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
For this post, I’m back on the subject of bullying as seen on TV. The television series “Criminal Minds” has given me three episodes worth of inspiration. The first one was posted about two weeks ago on school shootings. Today’s post was inspired by the eleventh episode of season nine, simply called “Bully.”
The story as far as I’m concerned, begins with a man being murdered while he was out jogging. What really astounds the BAU, as well as local police, is the ferocity of the attack. Here is a well conditioned man who appeared able to handle himself but he is beaten really badly to death. Things get more interesting when the team discover a young couple who suffered the same fate a year earlier. There is debate whether the two murders are linked and that provides an interesting counter plot but I’m not here to review the programme.
Another murder happens and that leads to the big breakthrough in the case. A husband and wife are murdered in their house and the team interview the young daughter who has to come back from university to deal with her parents’ affairs. She tells the team of a young boy who was believed to have committed suicide because he was bullied so badly. This boy was forced to wear girl’s underpants in front of the entire school. One can only imagine the humiliation and it makes me glad that I didn’t have such an ordeal. It turns out that the murdered jogger was a substitute teacher at the high school at the time and saw the bullying but didn’t do anything about it.
Here comes the murderer. We discover that in the years after he dropped out of high school, due to the bullying, he has become a physical fitness fanatic aided by taking steroids. Viewers get a full look at his now extremely aggressive tendencies. They also get a flashback to when he was bullied by having his head stuck down a toilet. In the end, the team locate him at the high school after he was beaten up but not yet killed another teacher who was present at the bullying of his friend but sorted the problem by making the victim and the bully shake hands. Unlike so many American cop shows, the murdering victim is not shot but taken into custody on the promise that he would get to tell his side of the story. After reading the books, “Nineteen Minutes” and “Endgame,” I wonder how much of his story would be told and would anybody listen?
While I be the first one to admit that murder doesn’t justify anything like this, I couldn’t help feeling a lot of sympathy for the killer. I know that Mark in “He Was Weird” would have felt it too. Both of us faced bullies but unlike the teacher who didn’t effectively deal with it on the programme, some of my teachers actually tried to turn it around and blame me, the victim. I highlight this quite a lot in the book. Another interesting personal link to this episode was that although I didn’t take steroids, I did join the marines after high school because I wanted it to give me the physical tools to deal with any bullies. Even though the horrendous bullying I endured was in junior high school, it had still left a mental scar that is still present today. It’s just faded a lot.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492712964&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird
My previous post based on the episode from the TV show “Criminal Minds” has given me food for thought. In that episode, ten years after a school shooting occurred at their high school, there was one group that saw continued to see themselves as above the others. They were even called the “Top Ten.” This group still excluded one young man who felt he should have been part of that group but wasn’t and was still excluded. That exclusion was what led him to start killing members of that group.
That episode and post, along with seeing the video for the song, “High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup, had me reflecting on my post high school days. In high school, I was nearly what one of the characters in “Crime Scene Investigation” used to describe his high school days, a ghost. I did engage in some extra curricular activities in school and I wasn’t bullied, except for the odd occasion but unlike most of junior high, I never walked the halls in fear. Saying that, I was considered a ‘loser’ or weird or other things by a number of students.
However, in my own mind, I did return to my old high school in triumph a few months after graduation after I became a marine. Walking the halls in uniform with stomach in and chest out and receiving no hostile or even patronizing rebuffs from anyone, I felt I put any specter of high school to rest. I had become a marine and had made something of myself.
At the conclusion of the previous post, I mentioned how I ran into some former jocks and had a beer with them. I was never friends with any of them in high school so I thought barriers had been broken down. However, I saw one of them a few weeks later and he gave me a patronizing “Hi.” Like those in the “Criminal Minds” episode, he obviously saw me in the same light as high school despite the fact that I had served my country and seen the world through my own eyes, which he had only seen on TV and textbooks.
I’ve never been to a high school reunion. I did try to go to my five year one but no one answered when I dialed the phone number given in the radio advert. By the time the ten year reunion came around, I was already living in the UK. By chance, my mother crossed paths with someone I was in high school with and who was on the committee for the reunion. Not wanting to go on record as ‘whereabouts unknown,’ I instructed my mother to tell this person that I was living in London and married with a baby boy. Since then, I have always speculated if it was announced I was living in London and what the reactions of my graduating class would be. I believe a good number of people would have been impressed that I was living in such a city. However, there would have been others, the ones who thought I was a loser, would have claimed that I was living in the biggest slum in London and working at McDonald’s. Neither speculation would have been correct.
Nowadays, I wonder if I’m still listed as living in London at reunions. I don’t anymore, I live in rural Gloucestershire. I amuse myself once in a great while by speculating what those from the Mainland Regional High School Class of 79 would make of me should I ever run into any of them. After all, while I’m not some corporate big wig or a star in the arts, although I have written and published two books, I don’t think I’ve done too bad. However, in the end, I choose not to worry about it because like Jello Biafra once said, high school isn’t all that important and it’s not the best years in most people’s lives. It certainly wasn’t for me. Although I didn’t hear him say this until 2005, I’m glad I followed his advice in regards to my high school years and those awful years before by pissing on its grave and getting the hell out of town. When you do that, the less significant those days become.