A Writer’s Thoughts: Wonderful, Wonderful

While on my three month hiatus in the US of A, my favorite band of all time today have released their new album; Wonderful, Wonderful. Today was also the day that tickets for The Killers went on sale for their concerts back home in New Zealand. Thanks to awesome people on the Reddit forum I got the pre-sale code and was able to buy tickets to all of the concerts, but of course.

I’ve been listening to the album through and through today and wanted to share some opinions. And my opinions will actually include a broader topic than just this wonderful new album from The Killers (I tried to be a comedian there, sorry). In the iTunes editor write up for the album, I noticed a comment about Brandon’s wife dealing with depression. As I listened to “Rut” which was said to be Brandon’s song that addressed the fore mentioned depression, and then listened to songs like “Some Kind Of Love” I really started to put together a theme for this record. A song like “The Man” pokes fun at fame and fortune and shows the shallowness of it, while “Run For Cover” for me shared thoughts about the world and it’s flakey state that it’s in. Heck, that song even made comments on politics and almost to me sounded like there were a couple of stabs at U.S president Donald Trump (“big smile, fake news, run for cover you’ve got nothing left to loose”). I’m probably far off with that one, but the theme I’m more pointing at is that of mental health.

In some alternative way, my favorite band and my favorite author (John Green’s New novel; Turtles All The Way Down) are creating content that is highly influenced by what is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. Heck, it’s recently been brought into the spotlight thanks to the horrific representation by the 13 Reasons Why Netflix series. And even more with other novels like All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven which is on its way to becoming a film. I’ve researched, looked at statistics and read multitudes or articles on this topic. And my thoughts are going to shadow a lot that already exist out there. Is mental health becoming a larger issue, or are we just talking about it more?

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: Playlist For The Dead

When I first read the synopsis for Michelle Falkoff’s Playlist For The Dead, I for a moment thought that it had some striking similarities to Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. Thankfully it wasn’t too similar. The story was unique even with its reminders of the girl who doesn’t want to fit in any more, like in Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places. And how she starts to become the shoulder to lean on for the boy who’s struggling. This book deals with suicide because of bullying, which does indeed to some degree catch some similarities with 13 reasons. But at the same time there wasn’t any connection with sexual abuse and whilst yes, this is a story about mental health, it’s portraying it in another light.

One thing that I struggled with to some degree while reading this book, was keeping track of who’s who. There were quite a few characters with usual names, like Jack, Jake, Jason etc… The introductions to some characters that we saw quite often like Sam’s sister were rather brief, however much we continued to see her pop up during the story. With that said, I don’t think that’s a drawback. It may just be my inability to concentrate that could be getting in the way. As always, the reason I review this book with satisfaction is because of its ability to draw me into the story. I noticed myself smiling at moments of joy, and concentrating deeply for moments of conflict. All in all, it was a book that I enjoyed to the end and was happy being able to keep turning page after page.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: A Step Towards Falling

A young guy and a young girl attend a high school football game. They both witness a classmate with disabilities getting sexually abused under the bleachers. They see each other and assume the other will get help. Neither of them do. They’re punished by having to work volunteer time / community service at a local school / community group for those with disabilities.

So what did I think? This is rather a difficult review for me to write, because it could very easily start to borderline on my thoughts being offensive. See, with books, I fall in love with them when they start to drag me into the story. When I become so involved with the book that I get a connection with the characters. For example, my current favourite novel of all time; Thirteen Reasons Why created such a connection that I had a desire to save a fictional character. That did not happen with A Step Towards Falling. Unfortunately I have to use words like boring and uninteresting. It was a novel that I struggled to keep turning pages with and to a degree, wanted to be over. So why was that my impression? For various reasons, one of them was the mix of characters.

Two’s a party, three’s a crowd.

Jennifer Niven had done a fantastic job with the writing of All The Bright Places. But she had a perspective from two characters. This novel had three, the lead male, the lead female and the girl whom suffered from a mental disability. Which meant the writing style for character three had to be done in a way that seemed less cohesive (probably the wrong word, I’m trying to say, basic) than the other main characters. I didn’t enjoy the switching round so much and felt it hard to bring myself into the story. There wasn’t enough going on either to keep me interested. It was slow paced and again, dull.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Excitement: My New Puppy!

Hey guys. I would like to introduce you, to Pixel. She’s a mix between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, aka a cockapoo or spoodle (as referred to in NZ/AU). She’s absolutely adorable and is currently full of energy. I’m in that process of course where I’m working at getting the potty training just right. She unfortunately one morning decide to pee right on my bed. This was partially my fault due to not letting her out first thing after waking up.

I felt the name Pixel was best suited. Something nerdy but still short, easy and works well for a female dog. At the moment she’s about 8 weeks old and is a mix between crazy playful and utterly knocked out sleepy. I’ll of course be keeping you guys updated with her as she continues to grow older.

– Michael Topschij.


A Youth’s Struggle: Medical Chaos

Whilst on my trip to the US with Mom last month I ended up in a hospital twice during the same week for two completely separate incidents. The second a life-threatening allergic reaction to something. Today Cigna on behalf of my BNZ travel insurance that is included with my credit card, told me that they will NOT be covering the cost of these incidents… For what reason?

In their lengthy legal policy documents they have one line that states: “You are not eligible for cover under this policy if one of the reasons for the overseas travel is to engage in business and/or work-related activities.”

They in their rejection email showed evidence from my social media providing proof that I was doing business while on this trip.

So as a result of not being made aware that the insurance I had was NOT VALID if I do ANY business related work whilst on the trip, I am now going to face huge bills that are likely to be upwards of $30,000 – $50,000 if not a lot more due to the scans and other costs that are involved in the American medical system.

Companies are out to make money, to incentivize you to get their credit cards to use their insurance. But when push comes to shove they’ll jump at the first chance they can to use something in their legal documents to stop them from having to help.

This is what they’re doing to a 21-year-old who deals with severe mental health issues (that they will be well aware of after reading through all my medical documents that I had to authorise them to access).

Thanks BNZ and Cigna. Glad there is some humanity in the way you guys work.

A Nerd’s Confusion: What is this!

Hi there, I’m an iPhone! Wait, no you’re not an iPhone. Where is your Apple logo? You have this strange square box logo thingamajig. Imposter!

I had absolutely no idea about the OnePlus android phone brand until my friend introduced me to his a few years ago. They were kind of a nothing phone to me until I recently came across their latest attempt at trying to be the next big thing. And this time, that attempt is to blatantly copy the design of the iPhone 7. If you didn’t know already, I’m an Apple fanboy. I love their products and design. (Some company tactics, less so). In an article on BGR OnePlus is quoted saying:

the company never wants to be different for the sake of being different. Instead, it tries to make design choices that are familiar to users.

Despite it’s blatant copy of the iPhone (which I really think Apple should do something about, I mean seriously, what is this!?) the phone has what I would call a nicer looking version of Android than what I’ve been used to seeing. Whilst at the same time, they do continue to fall short of the amazing phone they’re copying. The two cameras they’ve added don’t even have a full 2x optical zoom like the iPhone.

what is this!?

With this year being the 10th anniversary of the iPhone (I may or may have not ordered a brand new iPhone 1st gen that is on it’s way to me) and  one thing that I’m most definitely looking forward to, following a flurry of rumours, is the iPhone 8. The iPhone 7 Plus of mine, is a powerhouse. It’s the best iPhone that Apple has made. So with a monumental celebratory year, it’s going to be exciting to see what Apple decides to release later in this year.

– Michael Topschij.