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Reality Television and Brain Hacking


We are all aware of television’s ability to turn us into mindless zombies. But what if television could actually get inside our heads? What if our brains could be hacked and our most intimate thoughts, feelings and desires were broadcast for the world to see? Ben Shriver is about to find out…

Ben had been droning away at his desk for almost half a day when he received the package. It had his name on the card and was wrapped in what appeared to be golden ribbon. He unwrapped it carefully with trembling hands and the box exploded with sound.

“Congratulations Ben Shriver! You are today’s lucky Celebrilottery winner!”

His coworkers stopped their work and peered at him from over their cubicles.

“Grats Shriver,” said Gerald Manly, his cubicle mate. “It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving jackass.”

“Thanks Gerry,” Ben said, all smiles. Inside the box was a baseball sized object that took to the air hovering about three feet from Ben’s head. The lens cap slid open revealing an ominous red eye.

“Congratulations, Ben Shriver,” said a voice being pumped through tiny speakers on the hovering camera. “We here at Celebrilottery would like to welcome you to a once in a lifetime experience. Are you ready?”


“Do you give us permission to suspend your Biochip functions?”

Brain hacking my ass! Ben smiled, thinking of Mika’s unfounded worries. “Yes. Let’s do this!”

Vertigo seized him suddenly. When it subsided, he felt like he was in a dream. He was cognizant of what was going on around him, but unable to affect it. He had effectively become a spectator inside his own body. His arms and legs jerked awkwardly for a few seconds then a voice in his skull spoke. Hey there Benny Boy. It’s Elias Cartel here. You know who I am?

“Yes.” Ben answered. Elias Cartel was probably his favorite comedian on the circuit right now. “It’s an honor to work with you.”

Well I’m the one doing all the work, laughed Cartel. Let’s get started, huh? Do I have permission to suspend your Biochip for the duration of the show and use your voice and body in non-harmful, though potentially embarrassing ways?

“Yes.” With that one statement, Ben Shriver surrendered control of his body.

Excerpt taken from “Twisted Yarns” by Jason DeGray. Get it on Amazon now!



What I Learned From the Sopranos

It’s true. I finally watched The Sopranos years after the series actually aired. And I have to say. It was genius. Here’s a few things I took away from the whole experience.

1. Barring a violent and untimely death, Gangsters will die of some horrible cancer or disease. This theme was all over the show. It ties into the deeper psychological themes underlying the characters’ motives. During one counseling session with Dr. Melfi Tony asks her something to the effect of, “What could be going on psychologically that would make someone’s back hurt?” Dr. Melfi lists the reasons, all dealing with repressed emotions. The repression of the emotions is what inevitably manifests later in the mobsters’ lives as a debilitating illness that reduces once-great figures to soulless husks before killing them off. Even Junior (Tony’s Uncle) battled cancer. After that didn’t kill him he fell into dementia and wasted away.

2. Real men don’t share their feelings. With the exception of Tony’s therapy, the Soprano crew was notoriously tight-lipped when it came to anything emotional. Again, this stems from the repression of these emotions in light of all the horrible things they do. They can’t dwell on it. Can’t cry about it. Only forget about it and move on. This makes mobsters naturally good parents and role models (Kindly note the sarcasm).

3. Mob wives will inevitably turn into mob widows. Seriously. Either they lost their husbands to death or prison. This hard fact was made abundantly clear.

4. Continuing from the previous point: Mob widows always get a severance package. Almost like a “thanks for playing” consolation prize. “We murdered your husband and destroyed your life. Forget about it. Here’s fifty grand.”

5. Children of organized criminals always end up riddled with psychological and emotional problems. Well duh. It’s a repeating cycle from one generation to the next. For reasons why see points 1, 2 and 3.

6. Therapy doesn’t work on criminals. Dr. Melfi spent most of the series in denial of Tony’s true nature. Every time doubt would tempt her to break off her relationship with Tony, she ultimately caved and accepted him back. She wanted desperately to help him even though in the back of her mind she always knew he was beyond reprieve.

7. Mobsters and nature don’t mix. From their Italian suits right down to their superfluous jewelry, every time any of the Soprano crew had to venture into the wilderness it was an unpleasant ordeal.

8. If you ever kill someone, they will haunt your dreams for the rest of your life. And while they’re haunting they’ll pop up in weird places, talk profound nonsense and/or ride in cars with Steve Buscemi.

9. Everybody has a price. If they don’t, destroy and/or kill them and take their stuff anyway. I can think of plenty of other organizations that run on this principle that don’t bear the dubious title of “Italian Mafia”. How many can you think of? I’ll give you a hint to get you started: My crow is soft.

10. Nobody ever “Forgets about it.” Oh, they’ll make you think they’ve forgotten about it. They’ll even smile and buy you a coffee when they see you out. But one day, out of the blue, you’ll be eating onion rings and everything goes black.

The Sopranos was rife with symbolism and metaphor all mixed together will healthy doses of psychobabble. I could write volumes on the depth of the show. But until that day comes, I’ll probably just forget about it.

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