Wednesday, April 23, 2014

On completing a task while exhausted

I woke up at my desk in the middle of the night last night.

I'd spend pretty much the entire day working on a paper for a class and managed to pass out without my head falling onto the keyboard.

When I woke up I stumbled my way to bed (all six feet) and pat my pockets down to empty them on the nightstand.

Keys.

Wallet.

Phone.

I then felt a small lump in the breast pocket of my shirt. Without really opening my eyes, I slid my fingertips up my shoulder, looking for the lip of the pocket.

But I couldn't feel it.

I moved my hand up and down a couple of times, puzzled as to why this shirt's pocket was being so impossible to detect.

Finally I opened my eyes and actually looked.

My shirt didn't have a breast pocket.

Also the lump was my nipple.

Alternatives to love letters

So I have this constant compulsion to inform my girlfriend that the sun shines out of her ass. I'm totally in love with her. She's my favorite. If she actually knew just how often I dream about her she'd probably file for a restraining order. And I wouldn't blame her. Between my low self esteem and mild insanity (yes, I'm going with mild. It's only one voice in my head and it's not like it ever tells me to kill anybody. The other night it just wanted me to change channels.) she puts up with more than a person ever should.

That said, ever the romantic, I'm perpetually trying to amuse her and let her know that I appreciate her. But I think we can all agree that it gets a little old when your significant other does that. You hear, "I love you," fifty times a day and eventually you wonder if A) there's any substantial meaning to those words and B) if medication should be administered. So instead of writing love letters and like the cat, leaving dead little presents at her feet, I write her stories. Nothing huge. Those who follow my blog are more than aware that Necromantica is around the corner. As she, my muse, was the inspiration for the book, rather than love letters I have a habit of sending little text message stories of the main characters' alternative adventures together. Certainly not a part of the novel or anything else, it's just a jokey little, "I love you." Also, hopefully more interesting than sonnets describing those rays of sunlight...

Anyway, I think I've written something like twenty or thirty. Some funny. Some dark. Some action packed. Some erotic (I hope. She probably just laughs). And for the most part they're just something special for her and I to joke about. Others I end up implementing into the novel or other stories. Anyway, I wrote a couple over the weekend and felt like sharing one. For those unfamiliar with the characters, There's Lama, the thief. Mornia is an elven necromancer. And in recent tales they've been joined by Moete, the ferret. here's a little comical, non-canonical introduction to the characters that her and I created, originally sent via text message. Mostly I'm just glad I get to date somebody who enjoys reading this sort of stuff from me.


Lama's Catches Breakfast



Moete and Lama slowly made their way through the cave. It had been Lama's turn to breakfast and Moete proved quite the tracker when it came to birds. Of course their hunting party had taken several detours.
      "Lama?" Moete said. "Lama? Lama? Lama?!"
       "What?" Lama finally grumbled.
       "You lost a chicken."
       Lama balled his fists. It was the seventh time Moete reminded him of it. "It wasn't as simple as that. If those soldiers hadn't spotted it right as I did..."
      "You wouldn't have lost the chicken?"
      "They turned their bow to me."
      "So you had a clear shot a chicken?"
      Lama heard enough. "I had to dispatch them! The chicken panicked in the noise! For the last time: Its tracks went to this cave!
     "And you lost it."
     Lama's swords drew themselves, and Moete drew his at the thought of playtime before breakfast. The clashed, and just as soon as metal hit metal the entire caved filled with an overwhelming screech.
     Both of them froze and looked about the enormous cavern. Moete sniffed. "Chicken?"

     Mornia had enough waiting. She had added logs and kindling to the fire thrice now and her twiggy little belly was growing restless. She followed her human and ferret's tracks until she happened upon the wreckage of a small scuffle. The first soldier had holes in his face matching seven of Lama's throwing knives. His eye had been plucked, so she assumed the eighth blade lobotomized the guy before death. The second soldier's neck had been snapped and his leg thrust through the backside of the third soldier, who clearly died from the foot bursting out his chest. The fourth had been strangled on the third soldier's entrails. It looked as though the battle had taken to the branches because the fifth soldier was stabbed with several Fortian spears, sixteen feet off the ground. To all of them Mornia whispered, "Which way?"

      All the corpses pointed left.

      She followed the trail through an alcove and along a shallow stream until she happened upon an enormous mouth to a cave. She was about to enter but heard screaming.

      "Run!" It was Lama. "Run!"
       From the darkness, Lama and Moete both emerged, both running in a panic. Lama tripped over a rock and Moete used him as a launching pad to get ahead. When Lama leapt back up into his run he yelled, "Moete, take Mornia north! I'll draw the beast South! Go! Go!"
       Moete clung Mornia's leg and climbed up to her shoulder. "Come, milady!"
      Lama kissed her quickly, said, "Good morning my love," before veering to the South and banging his swords together. "This way!" He screamed over his shoulder at the cave.
      A loud screech responded to him.
      Mornia squinted at the noise but didn't move. Moete was tugging at her hand to move. When the screech came again he fell back on his butt and and started scurrying away.
     The screech thundered and shook the trees. A little chicken came running out of the cave, clucking its way past Mornia. And then two legs emerged from the cave shadows, followed by six more. A giant, ultra mega mega spider burst from the cave entrance, instantly three times the size of the cave mouth. It screeched again, blowing the trees and rattling the stones, but Mornia didn't run. She, an elf, understood the spider language. And the massive beast was saying, "Wait! Wait! You forgot your chicken!"
      Mornia screeched at it, "hello!"
      And the spider's many eyes looked down at the elf. "Oh, good morning, darling. Did you happen to see a human and ferrelf come this way?"
     "They're in my party. I fear you startled them."
     "Oh, my apologies. I don't get many visitors as of late. Small camps of Fortians trying to rebuild the old kingdom but they keeping thinking my cave is to be raided so I've eaten quite a lot- say! Those boots you're wearing are adorable!"
     "Oh?" Mornia smiled. "You like them?"

     From the shadowy bushes, Lama lifted his head to see what was happening. From over Lama's shadowy shoulder, Moete lifted his head to see what was happening. They both saw Mornia stick one foot forward and pivot it a little. Both she and the giant spider were screeching back and forth. "What are they doing?" Moete whispered.

      "I think she's telling it she'll step on it," Lama said.

      "Thank you," Mornia said. "I like your many elbow pads."

       "Do you?" The spider screeched. "I make them myself. Out of giant mega mega spider silk. Very rare. Very expensive. Thankfully the stuff shoots out my ass. I sell it to Hyoka for more than I know what to do with. I wish I could wear boots. I rip right through them with these."

      Lama and Moete watched as the spider lifted one of its legs, its foot being an eight foot long spike. Both of them gasped at Mornia's courage as she stood her ground, screeching back at the beast.


       "If I had feet like that I'd never want to wear boots," Mornia said. "I would do the can-can in people's faces everywhere."

       The spider laughed, shaking all the trees. It stomped its feet back down, cleaving the earth. "Well aren't you a little devil. Charming, just delightful. Are you going to be in the region long? I'd love to fit you for a dress."
       "I would love that!" Mornia said. "Shall I come back this afternoon?"
       "Tomorrow would be better. I have some spidery things to catch up on."
      "Tomorrow it is then," Mornia said, bowing to the spider.
       "Wonderful," the spider bowed, and Mornia returned the courtesy.

       "They're bowing!" Lama said. "They're about to duel by way of the samurai!"


       "Oh one last thing," the spider said, lifting one of its giant spiked feet into air. It then kicked out, stabbing down into the shadowy bushes before Mornia could even blink.


      Lama slowly looked over his shoulder. Moete slowly looked over his. The bladed foot had spiked straight through the chicken. A plume of feathers and geyser of blood sprayed from it.


     "Don't forget your breakfast," the spider screeched. "Most important meal, you know." It then lifted its foot and shook the dead chick off, making it bounce off Lama's face and land in front of him.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dog Sitting - Day 1

The text I received this evening from my cousin's husband was, "So I hear the dog gave you a rousing welcome." 

Here's why:


That was actually a lot more eventful than my welcome. When I first arrived, the dog greeted me by listening to me fiddle with the key for several minutes and not approach the door at all. When I walked inside he peeked his head around the corner to see what all the fuss was about and then promptly took to sulking on his dog bed. 

Clearly his parents abandoned him for all eternity and left him with what appeared to be some giant shaved testicle. I was not to be trusted.

Needless to say, trust was a slight issue this evening.

Feeding the dog took several minutes of coaxing. I filled his food dish and included a good helping of water. From the other room he peeked around the corner, clearly uncertain if I was about to feed him, poison him, or just devour all his food right before him. It wasn't until I set the dish on the floor and took several steps away that he meekly entered the room, looked around for several minutes, and then quickly scarfed down his food, keeping a close eye on me.

I left him to his meal, thinking he was acting guilty because he'd left a present somewhere.

I didn't smell anything. I didn't at any point slip in urine. So everything seemed in order. When I returned to the dog he had made his way to the next room, and was lying on his side, staring at me.

"Want to go outside?" 

Eventually we made it to the door, but the video shows about how far that went. The only thing that could've made it better is if he said, "You are not my mother. You're a fucking snort."

Once he lied down I had trouble turning around his malcontentedness.  I figured he just ate so if I just gave him a little time to digest, eventually he'd want to go outside. So I brought in my laptop and proceeded to work on my final exam for a few minutes.

I tried him again ten minutes later.

Then twenty minutes later.

An hour later.

Two hours later.

Finally I started plucking the back of his collar to coax him to his feet. After several minutes of reassurance that the backyard was still his toilet and he was more than welcome to explore it, he eventually went outside and sniffed his way around into doing something awful.

And then I faced the situation of getting him back inside. Granted, it didn't take as long on account of the cold, but there was something about me standing by the doorway that he didn't entirely trust.

"You can go back in your home," I said with him still questioning my every move. It wasn't until I stepped away from the door, holding it open at arms length that he finally went inside and promptly returned to his dog bed, where he continued to watch me work.

Before I left for the night he let me pet the top of his head and rub his ear.

I texted my cousin's husband back, "Lifted his head and everything."

He replied, "God it's like he's a puppy all over again." 

Attempted Shakespeare



Angus in the Woods


ACT I
SCENE I. A forest

Enter ANGUS followed by BANDIT.

ANGUS

Nay and no, sir!
I aim not away but merely sideward.
If it vexes I should angle my station
through this woodland endeavor I of course offer
only my regret bejeweled apologies.
For I thought not to offend,
nor to misguide, certainly not to flee,
and to my utmost not to discover features which you
so sternly instructed are to remain secret.
My action was agreeably not clever but rather anxious.
The farmer oft toil over uncultivated lands
as the nun doth pray more fervently
should she stumble herself upon a brothel.
To the tip of your arrow I find myself no less acute.
But if your desire stands that I should remain as your Polaris
and not waver as the moon I with diamond clarity do understand.
But to this point may I inquire
as to the manufacturer of your crossbow?
Be the weapon of Danish, German, or even Eastern descent?
Could you speak with approbation to its oak-ness?
For I doubt not the sturdiness of your arm nor finger.
My travel companion’s now deeply tunneled eardrum
may testify to the many seasons
in which the fruit of your skill hath ripened.
But to my fancy it strikes not uncommon
even a distinguished gentleman of your profession
may acquire his arsenal through less reputable vendors, perhaps.
I speak not to belittle but merely to express
the typical depiction of the roguish type
as painted to those fenced within the boundaries of law.
Not exclusively mind you.
As it were my darling wife, Helena,
lost her second eldest brother
to the accidental twain of such a contraption
as the one you so sturdily poise upon the aft of my beating heart.
The absolute stern, mind you.
Only the stern, as clearly the sight of my port and starboard
ripples you and I wish our waters placid.
But pray thee, if I am not to bend even in the slightest
from our forward trajectory may I
at least rest in the blanket of knowing
your crossbow was not forged by a Frenchman?
Should my two daughters, Hero and Luce,
lose their father well before his winter,
I’d like him not slain in the same manner as their uncle.
Treachery from a bandit lofts a certain romance
over the malfunction of a taut string and bolt.
Speak not further of their future mistrust of crossbows.
Although Helena raises them as ladies I possess little
doubt He may challenge my girls to the necessities of survival.
Should cross events transpire
calling upon them to throttle at the grips of crossbows
I merely ask we ensure they do not come to doubt
the functionality of the tools at their disposal.
Think upon my daughters, sir.
Allow me to let them know
the weapon operates strictly as advertised.
And with that matter settled, we may journey forth
with no future misunderstandings betwixt us.
For I shall remain steadfast in your employ, a loyal hostage.
You, an opportunistic adventurer, most shrouded.
I shall concern myself only in carrying
these gold sacks, your rightful possessions
with myself merely the vessel of their transport.
You concern yourself only in man’s own fallible
requirement of occasional slumber. But trouble not over me again.
By crest and kin I am weightier than a bird
and won’t take flight.
Genuinely, I am merry to assist in this
capitalistic little venture you've bestowed upon me.
For I grew bored last evening stewing about my campsite.
My cargo constituted mere luxuries for my abode.
The purse was meant to breathe
and I may make substitute purchase upon its next inhale.
My travel companion twas but a lug hired to lug.
He was of no personal consequence and to the ranchers
I’m certain most easily replaced.
Betwixt us and the trees, he fares better left as food for the wolves.
So as you swift as the fox may deduce,
I view our encounter as a delightful diversion
through seldom traveled countryside. Nothing
more than a tale to rouse dinner guests over in coming Sundays.
The depiction of yourself will fluctuate greatly
in every merry telling, mind you. For I know not the face
of my captor and per his command
it leaves me only in the company of noncommittal imagination.
But perhaps you fancy yourself portrayed in a particular fashion?
Shall your height be doubled? Do you wish
me to speak of your barbarian arms
or perhaps with demon fires ablaze beneath your eyes?
Speak now. Tell me of the legend I’ll boast of once you set me free!

ANGUS takes bolt from crossbow and stabs BANDIT.

ANGUS

Your eyes do tremor, sir.
The only demon revealed within crouches now,
a reflection of no other than my true self
aiding to soften your fall.
Do fight the blood you drown in.
For whatever oblivion awaits
a pestering pup who attacks a bear
is but two steps beyond the horizon.
Should this be your finale I wish you to squeeze
every drop and celebrate in that
you’re still given the grace to suffer.
Although the book on life’s great lessons closes
many half read chapters early, should this
thin veil be wrenched aside and the thickness
of eternity be revealed I offer you some parting words.
The crossbow makes but a bandit.
Tis the close blade that forges a man.
Rest now, pup.
Leave this fool to his fancy untruths and rest.

BANDIT dies

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A failed attempt at scaring the cat

I was reading my homework with Harper asleep on the couch. Going deaf and easily startled, I thought it would be fun to scare her from such peaceful rest. But the moment went in another direction.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Louise Bogan and The Sleeping Fury


So I’m in a grad class right now that has a focus on modernist poetry and the formation of canons. So as you can imagine, there’s a lot of discussing poets, their work, and their historical relevance (or more often, considering why they were neglected by history in the formations of canons). And to tell a little secret –all over the Internet- I am god awful at interpreting poetry. Like, classical works, modernism, what separates strong imagery from clich├ęs, and all that stuff is so far beyond me that I lose just about all focus while trying to read it.

“Wait… Aren’t you a writer?”

Contrary to popular myths about writers, we don’t all have the exact same skill set when it comes to mastery and interpretation of language. Some people are great writers and terrible critics. Others are astounding critics that never quite nail their creative strengths in writing. Some forms of writing I can fly through, dissect, and extract themes, ideas, and motifs like nobody’s business. Other forms, it’s like staring at a brick wall and attempting to point out the most straw-like qualities to it. Whatever that means.

It’s the same feeling you get when presented with a user end license agreement. You know it’s writing. You know there is a meaning and a purpose for it. But it’s all mumbo jumbo and sometimes it’s way easier to just scroll to the bottom and click “I agree.”

“Here is a poem, Keith!”

Ah! Yes! I agree! That is indeed poetry. Full of poetics. Some of which… appeal to senses… of which there are five… and… I agree!

So thank god I’m taking a class for this stuff, right?

Anyway, this past week I’ve been reading the works of Louise Bogan and I thought it would be funny for you guys to see me struggle through one of her poems. I picked The Sleeping Fury, mostly because I thought the title was cool. I should go ahead and say that I was unable to find the poem itself online, so I’m not sure if I’m violating any copyright or anything. Bogan passed away in 1970 due to heart failure and I have no idea about her estate and whether or not this is open source. There are a good number of people reading her work on YouTube and some of her poems show up on Poetryhunter.com. The poem appears in collections you can purchase with this link right here from Amazon. If you enjoy the poem itself, I recommend you purchase a copy. Also, I hope that whoever owns the rights to Louise Bogan’s work doesn’t sue me for showing the poem here and giving what will no doubt be regarded the worst critical interpretation ever. That said: Here’s the poem:

The Sleeping Fury

You are here now,
Who were so loud and feared, in a symbol before me,
Alone and asleep, and I at last look long upon you.

Your hair fallen on your cheek, no longer in the semblance of serpents,
Lifted in the gale; your mouth, that shrieked so, silent.
You, my scourge, my sister, lie asleep, like a child,
Who after rage, for an hour quiet, sleeps out its tears.

The days close to winter
Rough and strong sound, We hear the sea and forest,
And the flames of your torches fly, lit by others,
Ripped by the wind, in the night. The black sheep for sacrifice
Huddle together. The milk is cold in the jars.

All to no purpose, as before, the knife whetted and plunged,
The shout raised, to match the clamor you have given them.
You alone turn away, not appeased; unaltered avenger.

Hands full of scourges, wreathed with your flames and adders,
You alone turned away, but did not move from my side,
Under the broken light, when the soft nights took the torches.

At thin morning you showed, thick and wrong in the calm,
The ignoble dream and the mask, sly, with slits at the eyes,
Pretence and half-sorrow, beneath which a coward’s hope trembled.

You uncovered at night, in the locked stillness of houses,
False love due the child’s heart, the kissed-out lie, the embraces,
Made by the two who for peace tenderly turned to each other.

You who know what we love, but drive us to know it;
You with your whips and shrieks, bearer of truth and of solitude;
You who give, unlike men, to expiation your mercy.

Dropping the scourge when at last the scourged advances to meet it,
You, when the hunted turns, no longer remain the hunter
But stand silent and wait, at last returning his gaze.

Beautiful now as a child whose hair, wet with rage and tears
Clings to its face. And now I may look upon you,
Having once met your eyes. You like in sleep and forget me.
Alone and strong in my peace, I look you in yours.


My first reading gave a deep enough thought to go along the lines of “Her fury is like a sleeping child that passed out after a tantrum!” And then it kind of lost me. I knew she was being critical of herself, somehow, but it took several readings to really make sense of it. And this is kind of a funny thing about writing. In several creative fiction classes, various teachers told me to stop writing details that the reader is suppose to catch in the second or third reading. The idea is that a story should be clear to a reader by its conclusion. And yet, to fully analyze a poem, that same demand is kind of forced onto a reader. Even in class with people significantly better at interpreting writing than I am, many are quick to point out that they went through several readings before really getting a piece. The reason it’s admonished in fiction is more or less a factor of length.

Generally people listen to their favorite songs hundreds of times. They watch their favorite movies over and over, their favorite TV series two or three times. They read their favorite poems a few times. They read books once.

So clearly my analysis at this point hadn’t gotten me anywhere. So I decided to take things a little further and start looking online for an interpretation. Of course, there weren’t any, but I started reading into Louise Bogan herself. Which turned out to be pretty fruitful. Here's a little biography. And here's another.

Out of context, people better than myself can probably get a fair amount of meaning from the poem. For me, placing the poem in a context can usually shed some light on its significance. I’ll leave the debate on whether or not it’s better to interpret art for itself or within the confines of its context to those better people. I just know words without weight are wasted on me (which is a fun way of getting around the fact that I'm kind of a dumbass with a short attention span). So in my reading, I discovered that this poem was originally featured in a book published in 1937. The book’s title was conveniently The Sleeping Fury. So right there we know this poem in particular was of significance to Bogan. Of everything else included in that collection, this was the one she wanted to give some extra attention to. Looking over a biography or two, I started piecing together what was going on in Bogan’s life around 1937. It turns out she was divorced that year. As for why, the Cliff’s Notes website (I know! I didn’t know they had a site either!) makes a small note to say that her divorce was due to depression and ‘pathologic jealousy.’

Okay, so Bogan was the jealous type, struggling with depression. So I read the poem with the divorce and that context in mind, and suddenly it started to feel a lot more clear. Her sleeping fury, a tantrum she had and is now reflecting over, was a jealous rage. This is in the seventh stanza “You uncovered at night… false love… made by the two for peace tenderly turned to each other.” So my guess is that Louise Bogan saw her husband talking to another woman and became jealous. The “You” in this poem, her fury, is being jealous toward her husband. Her knee jerk reaction was seeing what she interpreted as love (false) and she had a fit over it. The poem is a defeated reflection over that state of mind.

Essentially she blew up over nothing and is now calmed down, and to use the parlance of our times, calling herself an asshole for it. As shown in the first stanza, she’s taking a good long look at herself.

She points out her hair as snake-like in the second stanza. When she’s angry she’s like medusa, a gorgon. Snake-like, full of wrath. But the image is as though the snake hair is fallen over her mouth. So the rage is silencing itself. Also, the medusa reference, a woman who turns men to stone, could be showing the state of her relationship. She has depression and is going into jealous tirades. It’s making her husband become distant, standoff-ish. He’s turned to stone toward her.

Several points in the poem she refers to her fury as child-like. And what’s more childish than jealousy? And in this inward reflection she’s talking about this fury as having flamed torches, whips, shrieks, a plunging knife (of accusation?) and being overall pretty damn violent. But she keeps belittling it as childlike. It’s helpless. Despite all her rage (“She’s still just a rat in a cage!” Boom!) she knows she’s over reacting and being a fool.

The eighth stanza is interesting. “You who know what we love, but drive us to know it.” She knows what she loves, but her jealousy is getting in the way. She can’t just feel comfortable with what she has, she keeps driving at it. “You who give, unlike men, to expiation your mercy.” I think this line is saying that she can forgive herself, but her husband isn’t forgiving her.

So that’s more or less where I arrived at with the poem. She’s looking at the state of herself, her marriage, and things are crumbling around her. But again, I’m awful at interpreting poetry, so I decided to see if anything else of relevance was going on in 1937. And apart from Japan and China having a little tiff, I noticed that JRR Tolkien first published The Hobbit in 1937. So I figured as long as I was doing a crappy job of reading poetry, I might as well try to interpret the poem with that as my focal point. If for no other reason than showing how my taking one piece of information and running wild with it is a piss poor way of looking at poetry.

So clearly, the sleeping fury, the title of the poem and the book, is a direct reference to the sleeping dragon, Smaug, who slumbers in deep within The Lonely Mountain. Note in stanza eight, “You with your whips and shrieks, bearer of truth and of solitude.” This means “You know what we love; but drive us to it” is referring to the piles and piles of gold and jewels that Smaug slumbers within. The dragon couldn’t help itself but to take over the mountain.

The “rough and strong sound” resounding over the sea and forest is clearly the dragon’s roar. The “black sheep for sacrifice/Huddle together” is mentioned the thirteen dwarves on their journey to take back the mountain, a fitting sacrifice along with the rest of the dragon’s desolation. The “milk is cold in the jars” is actually the gold jarred within the mountain kingdom.

Now, the only clear image we have of Bilbo in this poem comes from the line “the knife whetted and plunged.” Obviously, Bilbo’s sword, Sting. In the same Stanza, “You alone turn away, not appeased; unaltered avenger.” This is how Bilbo alone isn’t after the riches of the mountain, but avenging the dwarves great loss of their home. For everybody else the struggle is for claiming money and power. “All to no purpose, as before” shows Bilbo’s life prior to this quest. He’s a lazy, carefree hobbit. But Smaug turns away, unimpressed by the little hobbit.

So if the “You” of this poem is Smaug, “I” is Bilbo, and the poem takes place in the moment where the hobbit first sees the dragon, making the entire poem the little hobbit's reflection of the beast before him.

Of course, Bogan was a highly reclusive individual so we'll never truly know which of these interpretations is correct. But this is the Internet, so we can all take a good guess as to which one will prevail.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

HAAA!

Did you guys catch the GI JOE-centric episode of Community the other night? 

Absolutely hilarious. I turned it on while crawling into bed last night, thinking Jeff and Britta's oft clever banter would gently lull me to sleep. 

So of course I became totally invested and watched the whole thing.

My favorite part: When the Community gang were imprisoned with a bunch of GI JOE reject characters. Like this dude, Shark Arms.


What's great here is how easily you could see a character with sharks for arms would fit into the silliness of old school GI JOE, on top of what a laughably horrible idea a character with sharks for arms is. Like, this is exactly the kind of terrible idea a marketing focused commity of numbskulls would come up with, but it's all surface level garbage with no true creativity involved. 

Just a terrible, awful, stupid, piece of crap idea for an incredibly lame character. What kind of idiot would come with that? A guy with sharks for arms...

Anyway, this morning I deleted my currently and never to be published outline for an action trilogy, Shark Arms.

Good save, Community.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Necromantica's prologue (kind of a repost)

In 2012 I posted an earlier draft of this scene. As work on the book continues I thought you guys might be interested in seeing a later draft. Or just enjoy it for the first time. While a majority of the book is a cross between first and second person, this and the epilogue are both third person, more or less designed so you can see the world from outside the narrator's head, both while learning a little something about him and the events the story spirals around. That said, I hope you like it. As the book is still a work in progress, feedback is always appreciated.




Prologue: The Ash Woods

This forest knew life once.
Among the elder sequoias and babbling creek a village of elves had lived.
This forest knew laughter. It knew soft voices and gentle, tending hands.
Everything the elves had given was returned to them a hundred fold. The sparrows sang louder. The figs plumped sweeter. The trees themselves grew taller than any of their kind. They shaped themselves to the needs of their guests, bending into homes and forming a village of earthen souls.
For centuries the elves thrived. They raised their young. They studied the nature of life and developed magic around its principles. They were healers. They were keepers of the earth. They loved the land so deeply that it shared with them its name.
Hylorn

But that was a word the rest of world was told to abandon.
“Forget the trees. Curse the elves. Do not speak of their ways. For their magic is twisted with sin and must be wiped clean from our hearts.”
Those were the thoughts of a human king; a man too content to a human mind.
His words soon became the cries of a kingdom.
A hundred speeches. A thousand declarations. In the end, it was a single word that scorched this forest to oblivion.

“March.”

Now there are no bugs to bite larger backs. There are deer, foxes, or snakes to leave tracks in the dirt. And there are no elves to speak of or be spoken for. The ground is dry, barren, and brittle. Only the fossils of the trees remain. Petrified, they stand shocked as rock pillars, twisted and misshapen. The homes they once formed remain as crooked, jagged cavities.
They have no leaves for shade.
The wind cannot rock their branches.
They stand as mere, grey husks,
headstones to themselves and the lives they cradled.

This forest is haunted.

With all the life burned away too deep for the souls to pass, they remain trapped in a fossilized mockery of their village. Too hurt to scream, too tortured to weep, and too scorned to pass away, the ghosts of this forest linger in silence.
The trees cannot recall warmth nor rain.
The animals are unable to stir, feed, or frolic.
The elves cannot rest.
All together the creatures of this forest remain pained and afraid from their final few moments.

Amongst their void, a single life approaches.

Every ghost becomes absorbed in his arrival. Every spirit lingers over his entirety as he sneaks through their vacant spaces. He is a mere human. Nothing magical, remarkable, or even noteworthy in a living woodland. And yet this place is dead. It hasn’t felt life since the day the kingdom rained its magic fires. For the mortal’s passing, the forest engrosses itself with his every step. It mesmerizes itself with his breath.
This human is tired. This human is frightened. But stubborn. He doesn’t admit the fear to himself. He only feels its symptoms. His heart is racing and his skin perspires cool, slippery beads. His eyes leak warm tears that streak clean lines through the stubble on his face. His shoulder, back, and calf all bleed. Despite his pain, he struggles to maintain his pace. His stumbles are frequent and jagged. Exhaustion and paranoia are the pendulum swinging his steps. Several times he doubles back and poises a crossbow toward the path from which he came. Several times he holds his breath and takes aim between the trees, waiting for something, anything to reveal itself.
But nothing does. Nothing will.
This forest would’ve relished in another’s approach.
There is only this man; this human. And he grows weak. His breath is hoarse. His lungs scavenge at the dead air. The ghosts absorb his inhales and exhales like notes of their favorite lullabies. Those that breathed such ways in life wrestle over their memories. Whatever it is to pant, blow, gasp, or sigh, many of the cursed souls try to recall. Those that remember their mouths absent mindedly mimic the motions. They feel the way he pulls at the air from within, clutches it tight for just a moment, and then lets it fade like a forgotten love.
They feel the way his heart slows as he assures himself that he is alone.
They feel the way his eyes grow heavy while his arms sag.
He is tired yet continues to walk.
This forest feels his stubbornness. It understands determination as he staggers his way along the parched earth.

He is a rogue.

Every ghost sees him for the life he lives. From birth to this clumsy, blood trailing dusk. This man is a thief. He is a murderer. He is a fighter, toting worn weapons and tattered clothes. He is a stranger to this forest yet all the ghosts understand him as they would themselves. They absorb his memories like bedtime stories. As a boy, his uncles pitted him against dogs. Sometimes for profit. Sometimes for sport. This forest knows how he’d escaped that life with hopes of a knighthood. It knows how his repeated theft and constant mouthing off kept him from his dream.
Oh. Dreams.
The forest stirs over how his mind, even while afraid of pursuers, still manages to wander. It feels how he studies its hard earth. It relearns of itself through his glances into lopsided windows of tree trunks, worried over an imaginary ambush. He thinks of trolls, rangers, orcs, soldiers, dwarves, and even dragons. The forest, in all its years of life, had never once known dragons. To see one in his thoughts so clearly and with so much disdain is a glorious treat. The ghosts relish in how he maps out the ground, calculating places to hide, methods of attack, and how he might defend himself against any variety of opponents. The forest loves the way he notices shadows, corners, and climbing paths among the branches. It loves the feeling of his perspective on it, mirroring all the things it had forgotten of itself.
This man is a strategist. He enjoys chess and card games, but not gambling. He has a passion for music yet has only heard a handful of all the songs that ever existed. None of which had ever been sung in this forest.
The ghosts swoon over every note he knows. Some struggle to put them into order. Others try to reason why music was ever so important. Others still simply miss the way rhythms happen. They focus on his heartbeat and imagine a tune as it’s reflected through his tactical mind with a natural talent for song that he himself will never be aware of.
The forest sees all of his crimes. It knows how he’d begun with fruit in markets, and then coins from pockets. He took for himself. He took for those he knew. He had escaped many times. Others he’d been captured. As a boy he liked prizes and souvenirs. As a man he grew to prefer the crimes. He liked picking fights against those larger and faster than himself. He didn’t always win but he always got something he wanted.
As he walks through the forest, all the spirits feel what it was like for him to take life. He felt guilty for the dogs but not his uncles. Never his family. There are waves of emotions the spirits crash against. Deep seated tsunamis of fear, anger, hardship. Between them they detect even a few small ripples of joy. But all the waves, all the feelings, grow smaller as he ages. It’s only just before he starts killing for money that all feelings finally stopped.
The ghosts who still know pity do pity him for this. He doesn’t know the gravity of his actions. He doesn’t understand the things he takes away. For all he’s seen and done, he can’t understand death like the forest.

He is a visitor.

The forest feels the way he begins to regard his surroundings. Exhausted as he is the dead trees and bare ground unsettle him awake. The flat gray of everything gives him discomfort. He concludes to know this place from stories and chatter. Discussion in pubs. The few words of the king he’d caught himself reading. He knows this place had once been Hylorn, but everything he believes of it was a lie. The forest wants to scream as it feels his version of its story. If only its ghosts could remember how.
The king had told its people of a growing evil. He told his subjects how the elves practiced in death as sacrificial creatures who would steal their children and conjure darkness throughout the kingdom. They were twisting life in ways unnatural. They were trapping souls in bodies meant to die. They were heathens raising the dead. They were a festering evil against the king’s great nation and grand gods. They would bring suffering, pain, and defeat. And just like so, so many enemies of the pure kingdom, they were to be exterminated.
The forest feels how this man recalls the chatter as he looks over its dead trees. It knows his discomfort by this place as he imagines its evil, snarling elves sacrificing children and chipmunks in the name of black magic. This forest churns over his unrest and would give anything to remember what it was to ball a fist and punch his throat. This man, the first man, the first life the forest has seen in years, and he’s unnerved by it. As if the forest hadn’t already been hurt enough by the cruelty of mankind, now it must endure the judgment of this murderer’s naivety. It feels horror based on fables he only ever half paid attention to.
And yet it can’t hate him for this. He is only alive. He is only human. Such a small, unremarkable, and magnificent thing. It is not his fault for failing to understand.
It feels his contemplation. He knows this as a cursed place, and wagers on the idea that his pursuers won’t dare enter. He looks to the darkening sky and sees stars speckling over the dead tree line. All of the ghosts remember the sensation of looking upon the stars. And what it means to be tired. And what a comfort it is to feel safe enough to sleep. The man is disturbed but knows the forest won’t hurt him. He understands why his pursuers won’t follow. They’re more afraid than him. Maybe even guilty.
All of the ghosts collectively watch as he unfolds a scratchy cloth and several stakes from a pack. With the back of his crossbow he tries plunging the stakes into the earth. All of the forest hears the noise of wood clacking against metal. It feels the man’s frustration when the ground is too hard to be broken. All of the forest feels him fight the petrified soil and slowly give up. He grazes his hand along the earth and look sharply up at the trees.
“It’s warm?” he whispers. He speaks! He makes language with noise and breath! He communicates to himself –out loud- in such a way the ghosts had entirely forgotten. There is something so familiar, and yet, it’s the most obscure thing they’ve ever known. The words themselves gain gravity as he passes his hand along the ground, and then against the trees. Everything has a sensation to it. Rough, hard, and jagged. And all of it, every last bit is still warm from the magic flames of several years ago.
This forest feels this man’s puzzlement. He looks at the trees, the ground, and the space between with new regard. He is in awe. He doesn’t use his word noises as a caution against some overlooked pursuer that doesn’t actually exist, but all of the forest catches his discontent as he ponders the place around him. It isn’t right. He’s certain of it. He’s run from the armies that had marched through this forest. He knows they killed the elves and this place is meant to be thought of as cursed. He knows it’d been burned, and of the some who gave it a new name.

The Ash Woods

But this is wrong. He can feel it. The forest can feel him feeling it. It swoons over the questions growing in his mind. What elves would cast magic to destroy their homes and themselves? What spell could’ve petrified the land and erased all signs of life? The man is unable to reason it for himself. The forest feels his confusion and grows immense with gratitude. It watches him continue to walk, touching all of the trees and grazing his against their surfaces. It feels his friction ridges. It admires his calluses.
The man steps into a dried out riverbed. He discovers soil soft enough to stake his tent. He’s quick and haphazard with the task. He slides beneath the canvas and makes himself a small bed, and then patches his wounds before finally lying himself to rest.
As he drifts off to sleep, he ponders the forest.

As he drifts off to sleep, the forest ponders him.






Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Music in the grocery store aisle of life

So I was on my home from work last night when I stopped at the local Kroger to purchase cat litter and some essential items. Like ice cream.

I MEAN - totally and completely healthy, calorie free whatever.

Actually, the mint, chocolate chip (my favorite) ice cream I purchased claims to have half the fat or regular ice cream. So I suppose in 'merican dieting terms instead of getting a fuck ton of fat in my ice cream scoop, I'm only getting a shit ton of fat.

To be honest, it wasn't like I was trying to make a healthy life choice or anything. Kind of the opposite. I've been waging a small war against depression and probably insanity recently and reached the conclusion (or excuse to eat ice cream again) that a change to my diet was making me an even bigger sad, pathetic loser than necessary.

Everything in moderation. Some foods are for the body. Others are for the soul.

So while I've been doing a so-so job of ignoring my low self esteem the past couple of days, it was starting to grate to the point that I was seeking compromises.

"You're worthless. You're getting nowhere in life. You should probably jump off a bridge or take up active volcano surfing or something."

"Jesus Christ, low self esteem! We're having suicidal thoughts now?"

"Yeah. You should totally jump in front of a bus."

"No. I have homework to do."

"Just one bus. It'll be fun."

"Well... Shit, you know I have a hard time saying no to anybody. Can't we just find a compromise?"

"Come on. Just jump in front of a bus."

"No! I don't even know the bus schedule around here. What if I just eat something really fattening instead? Like clog a few arteries. Will that be self destructive enough for you? Without having to get all terminal with everything. Will you let me just do my homework then?"

"...Yeah. Yeah. That'll be okay."

"Thanks, low self esteem."

It turns out even my self hatred is pretty laid back. Or at least easily appeased.

So I went for ice cream. And mint chocolate chip is my favorite. Preferably smothered in hot fudge, a little peanut butter, with whip cream and cherries, but we're making poor decisions on a budget. So just the Kroger brand chocolate syrup. Anyway, it wasn't until the ice cream was in my cart that I actually noticed it was only half the fat. 

"How the hell did you just screw up intentionally eating something bad for you?" 

"Yeah. I'm kinda shocked at that one too." 

"You know what might help? A bus."

"Stop that!"

Anyway, I had my groceries and was about to head for the door when I heard something vaguely familiar Kroger's radio. Words to a song. Specifically, "Put me out of my misery." 

I froze. Of all the fucking things to hear, that stupid song. Misery by Soul Asylum. 

Except, that it wasn't even Soul Asylum. It was a more generic sounding cover. Like Misery by Soul Asylum, remixed to be safe for your mother-in-law as she pilfers through the eggs in an OCD quest for the perfect dozen.

I was basically in a total system shutdown for about four minutes.

Standing in the middle Kroger by the Jell-O, listening to this awful, awful cover.

A Dramatization:
Please hit play on the video below and spend four minutes staring at the picture beneath it.



Of all the moments of my life to document, this is one of the most bizarre. And, yes, for me it was entirely worth taking the picture and writing a blog. No matter what happens to me tomorrow, I want the world to know I lived this moment. I was standing there- completely and totally absorbed in this depressing, lame, sad excuse of a song and it turned me completely inward. I'm standing there- thinking of everything I've ever done wrong in my life. Every stupid thing I've ever said. I was beating myself up for giving a weak lecture and not talking enough in class the night before. I was feeling alone and lost, missing my brothers, my girlfriend, my friends, my parents, and even my pets who I was about to go home and see. I looked back on thirty three years and stared another thirty three (okay, probably twenty with the ice cream) years into the future and it was all so bleak and empty and meaningless. I will never succeed as a writer. I will always be broke. I will always spend every moment of my life battling my own self depreciation because I am a man without any value or purpose in this world. I will die a forgettable death and history will erase me because -seriously- look at who I am and who I'll never become and ask yourself if any part of my existence is even noteworthy. It's not. It's pitiful. It's pathetic. It's a waste of the air that could be better spent in the lungs of a better man living a better life and making a better world.

But I will never ever be the poor bastard who actually signed a contract to record a cover of Misery by Soul Asylum. I'll never be the guy who actually pushed the idea of creating a cover to his bosses. No matter what direction my life goes, I will never be the tasteless, out of touch individual who saw this song among a collection of other awful songs and said, "This is what should be played in grocery stores." I'm not the guy from the grocery store company tasked to find an affordable service that puts generic, non-offensive music in freezer sections everywhere. No matter how much self loathing I put myself through, no matter how meaningless I think my life is or isn't, I will never have any of those experiences.

I can't say the moment turned everything around for me. I didn't magically wake up today without automatically dreading all the things I was probably about fail at. But after four minutes of standing there in self reflection, when the song finally, finally, finally ended and I was released from its hold I returned to my life equipped with that bit of truth and knowledge. I had nothing to do with the grocery store friendly cover of Misery by Soul Asylum. And that was the best I felt in at least a month.

It was a pretty good feeling.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Itch

I'm driving on 696 and I feel and itching my boot. Left foot. In the lower nook of my big toe.

I want to itch it.

I want to scratch my foot.

I can't though. I'm running late for work. I was trying to finish the paper. But I ran out of time. But now I'm running late.

I'm always running late.

I was late being born. Late to life. Late to mature. Late to work.

Almost to I 75.

I'm talking about it because I can't itch the scratch. Oh my God, it's horrible.

Five more minutes. The cars are slowing down. Why? Why are they doing this? It's a straight away for three more miles. They can all go the speed limit. They just never do. How do they not understand my toe itches?

It's stabbing. It's stabbing at me.

Off the freeway red light almost there. Almost there almost there almost there.

...

Jesus Christ, it was a spider.