Sunday, November 22, 2009

You Spin My Head Right 'Round/Turn Turn Turn

Summer. Really, she's great. I have nothing against Summer, per se. She's warm and bright, energetic and affectionate. She gets so excited about even the most mundane things. Its hard to look at things in the same way you used to when you're around Summer. Vivacious to the extreme.
This is, of course, why i can't stand Summer. There's only so long you can take everything being "fun" before you kinda want to shove a beach ball down her throat. You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning, having slept poorly the night before, and have to deal with that person who is some how, some way, manage to be eternally, morbidly bubbly? That's what its like to deal with Summer all the time.

Autumn is a lovely girl. Spending time with her is soothing, comforting somehow. While not quite as "warm" as Summer, she's very friendly and genuine, and when she cares, you can tell. She loves life and trying to find the beauty in the world around her, especially when its a little harder to find.
Cynicism is my biggest complaint with Autumn. She's seen enough death and pain in her life that she has come to recognize it all around her. It is by its contrast, however, that she is able to truly appreciate the beauty in the cracks.

Oh, my dear Winter. Winter can find truth in chaos, beauty in garbage. Winter has infinite hope and infinite insight. She has seen the worst the world has to offer, and still gets out of bed in the morning.
Poor girl is easily given to bouts of depression. Too proud to be pitied, its best to just avoid her during such times; she'll be fine. She's strong and resilient. Its just that sometimes, you need a little attention, too, and Winter is not one to often give it.

Now Spring - Spring is a delight. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who is more refreshing to be around. Her smile comes easily and effortlessly. Her manner is enigmatic, coy, yet somehow inviting; imparting the first clues to a wonderful journey of firsts. Spring reminds you what its like to be a kid again, just by going about her daily routine.
There's nothing wrong with Spring. And so, there's nothing wrong with her. But that's good, i guess.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Golden Rations

I really should have gone into some kind of mathematics. My father would be so proud.

The longer i live, the more i realize that almost every aspect of human existence lies somewhere on a giant bell curve. Having a shitty day? Start keeping a log and i will guarantee you that you have just as many crap days has you have really good days with a whole mess of mediocre days in between. Feeling like you never have any time? Turns out, a vast majority of your time is spent sleeping or working with only the tiny edges being devoted to the things you really want to be accomplishing. Think that person is a jerk? You're probably right.

Unfortunately for my father, an accountant of no small skill, my mind has never had a propensity towards numbers, so my recognition of these patterns lies almost solely in the sociological forums. After interacting with the hundreds of thousands of people in my life, it was almost inevitable that i'd start to pick up on the similarities within the intricacies. Human beings, like snowflakes, are unique; no two are completely identical. Like snowflakes, however, they all share a huge number of similarities. It is the beauty of the individualism that drew first drew me to my brief time studying psychology and the simple, logical nature of their similarities which makes them so easy to understand. Much like how i assume numbers make sense to my father.

"X" is still not a number, Dad.

Your personality can be plotted on a bell curve. The edges are the little minutiae which make you unique while the larger area you share with most other folk. Whether it agrees with the self-esteem programs we are taught in school or not, a huge majority of people will respond in a predictable manner when presented with a certain set of predetermined circumstances. It doesn't make you less of a person, i promise.

Stereotypes are generally formed because of the bell curve. Young kids are usually snotty. Old folk are often poor drivers (for a great many varying reasons). Babyboomers like The Beatles. Mac users think they're better than you. The trick, then, is to acknowledge that the edges of the curve exist and to give everyone you meet the benefit of the doubt. Don't assume. Use the Golden Rule.

I mention this, my reader friend, not to try and describe some great Truth that has been heretofor remained undiscovered. I am simply attempting to explain one of the ways i look at the world. One part of my Family Dark is a certain depressive nature which, while often lending itself to a lovely artistic bent, just as easily propels the sufferer in front of a bus. For me, i strive to make the world understandable. Once i ascertain a certain Truth about the nature of humanity or society or politics or physics or anime, i can become comfortable with it.

As Murphy once famously stated, 90% of everything is crap. There's not a lot you can do about it. Personally, i take comfort in that knowledge. Its just another fact of life to be dealt with or ignored as you see fit.

Always remember that its the 10% that makes life so amazing. Make the most of it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Houses & Homes, Pt. 3

The summer sun beat hard down on his upturned face as he mopped his brow with his shirtsleeve. The burning eye in the sky told him that it was noon and he plopped down on the slowly growing pile of wood next to him and lit a cigarette, closing his lighter with a small flourish.

The winter had been a long one, leaden with tears and heavy glances. She had not understood his epiphany, that the house they had built was built in error – out of a need for security more than a desire for satisfaction. She had screamed, cried, pleaded, thrown things at him, upturned furniture. In the end, he had been forced to drive her from the building and back to her parents' home, her pack and belongings slung over his own shoulders, her weeping being their traveling tune.

The rest of the spring was spent cataloging the nature and quality of the house. He didn't spend another night in its walls, but pitched a shelter on the edge of the woods and cooked his repasts over an open flame. Once the meticulous lists were completed and he was sure that he had learned every error and how it had come about, he began deconstruction; the first day of summer.

Plank by plank, nail by nail, pillow by chair, the house was torn limb from limb and thrown into a great pile. The burn in his arms was cathartic, the sweat on his brow soothing to his bruised mind. As the pile grew, so to did his satisfaction with this new-found life he was “building” for himself. Every board felt like a small revelation, the naked wood underneath describing the nature of all the falsehood he had inadvertently found himself believing. When the pile stood as high as he and the remains of the house little more than a skeleton of sun-bleached timber, he finally felt whole again.

Cigarette finished, he stood, took up his hammer in his belt, went back into the carcass. Climbing, monkey-like, muscles taut and straining, he ascended the structure to the apex and began the long – but last – step of disassembling the framework from the top, down. Overtaken by the fever of determination, he did not stop for rest or sustenance until he finished, leaving only the foundation posts in place. Two days he spent crawling over the final remains and he finalized the entire enterprise by hewing off the last posts at the base.

The garden had long returned to its natural state, as if it had never felt the touch of the hoe; the fence surrounding it had been removed and cast into the pile. The entire structure removed, the ground where it had once stood was now level and bare, the only visible evidence of its existence the expanse of dirt in place of the surrounding grass. The paving stones that had once made up the walk were pulled up and planted, on edge, in the earth around the pile, creating an uneven circle about it. The pile itself, meanwhile, had been carefully altered, with certain longer boards and pieces replaced so as to protrude out- or upward. On some of these poles, furniture was skewered. On others, blankets were stretched or other boards lashed. This final effort produced a horrific effect on the ramshackle monolith. It stood halfway between the woods and the empty plot, grinning insanely, an ominous warning to passersby of events unknown.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Avuncular, Yes I Am

I paced around the waiting room in a frenetic sort of mania. My mother sat calmly at the little round table, reminiscing with her friend about their past pregnancies. I tried to sit at my computer to find a way to fritter some time, but the communication between my mind and the information i was taking in was muddled. I couldn't concentrate. It took me forever to finagle a wireless connection.

A friend came and met me. I smoked a cigarette outside, calmed by the action and her presence. The unholy amount of nervous energy coursing through my limbs quieted, slowed to a tric

Back in the ward, i found out i had missed Steve coming out. Everything was going fine. Allyson had been given an epidural and was calm and pain-free. Radius of dilation indicated that our wait would not be long. We settled in for the home-stretch.

Heh. Yeh, right. My nervous energy came back full force in no time and i was soon forced up from my computer to patron the sidewalk outside. I predicted - based on Murphy's Law and my ow
n piss-poor luck - that the baby would be born while my friend and i were gone. I was almost right. Shortly after i finished my smoke, my phone vibrates:

From: Steve
Check your email!

We run back upstairs, i gibber something about emails and Steve to my mom and log into Gmail. Lo and behold, what should my eyes see but this little angel on my monitor:

And dear me, what a sight.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Houses & Homes, Pt 2


The word continued to ring in his head. Something about it felt wrong. False. He replayed the argument he had had with her over and over again on his long trek back from the annual meeting in the glade. She hadn't wanted him to go, claiming that their journey was over, that they had built a home for themselves and he had no reason to return to his old life, his old friends. The fight had been long and bitter and, in the end, he had slung his pack over his shoulders and slammed the front door shut to block out the sound of her weeping.

He felt alive again on the trail, in his old ways, to see his old friends. He had hunted, reveling in the game; the chase, the kill, the blood on his hands. The taste of meat, after almost a year of nothing but vegetables and bread, had revitalized something deep and forgotten inside of him. He arrived in the glade full of good spirits and to the triumphal thunder of his comrades in wandering. For seven days they sat around the fire, swapping stories and sharing their meals. The musician had sacrificed valuable pack-weight to bring his guitar, and the music harmonized them. The brute had brought a jug of his best whiskey, and the liqueur cheered them. The lover had brought his best stories from the far reaches of the land, and his words challenged them. He himself had brought a sample of the tobacco he had been growing that year, and the smoke soothed them. All too soon, though, their time was over and they bid each other bittersweet farewell and went their separate ways.

Smoke traced a spiraled, parabolic arc, dissipating slowly, following the path of his discarded cigarette. His house was in sight and she hated his smoking. He had finished the last of his meat, not bothering to hunt so close to his property, knowing that he'd not be allowed to keep any of it. He sighed, readjusted his pack, and walked up the path to the front door.

His reception was terse, but civil, and the cold shoulder only lasted until dinner, which consisted of a simple fair of vegetable stew and sourdough. He ate two helpings and didn't taste any of it.

The moon rose on their bodies entwined, her pale skin turned to porcelain by the ghost light. She was warm and passionate, burning for his presence, his arms wrapped around her. He prayed she didn't notice his hollowness. The motions were right, each caress practiced to perfection, the words coming in just the right order, at just the right time, but his mind was in the sitting room.

The sitting room was cedar.

The outside walls were sided with oak. The bedroom was cherry. There was no stonework. No willow. No ebony. This was not his house.

And he knew, in that moment, that this life was over.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Houses & Homes, Pt 1

In a place and a time not too far from where we live, live people not too far from what we are. The people are not complicated, their labors are not in vain. They eat, drink, and find satisfaction in their work. For these simple folk, man's greatest achievement is the construction of a home; a domicile for him and his. This is the story of one young man in that place.


He'd always loved his parents' house. It was older than he was and had all the eccentricities that come along with such age. It was worn down to comfort by life and years. When something broke, his mom and dad worked hard to fix it again. It was these aspects that appealed to him; the house was not perfect, not elegant by most means, but it was solid, beautiful, and warm. He loved his house.

But it was not his house.

When the time came, as it does in the life of every young man, he packed up his belongings, slung them across his back, kissed his mother good-bye, and walked out the front door to make his own way in the world and, one day, to build his own home. In addition to the supplies necessary for survival, he carried with him tools: shovel, axe, lighter, rope, saw, hammer. These he would want eventually, when he found just the right plot of land, but they were not the most important tools he carried with him.

In his hands, he had the skills he had acquired over his lifetime, some more useful than others. With these skills, he made his way – foraging, bartering, working, doing whatever he needed to do to continue on his journey. His parents were intelligent, hard-working folk and they had done their best to ensure that he had been given every skill he would need to survive on the road. He possessed a quick, nimble mind, a clever eye, and an easy, sociable nature. No feat seemed beyond his reach.

I tell you this not merely to inform you about this young man's nature, but also as a contrast to the second important tool that he carried with him. In his mind, as most people do, he held a blueprint of the house that he would one day build and a list of all the materials he would want to use in the construction. Some of the ideas he'd gotten from his parents' house, some, from his friends. A few of the concepts were original ideas, never before used in a house of which he knew. Never satisfied with the staples, we was consistently scrapping certain materials in favor of different, less common ones. It was this never-ending search for the perfect construction that drove him, both forward and slightly mad.


There are always a lot of people on the road, going all sorts of places in all manners of conveyances. Many of his friends traveled with him for a long time, making discoveries, experiencing hardships, laughing. A few quickly found their plots and settled down to build. He visited as often as he could, offered his help where desired. Eventually, they all parted ways, needing to find their own separate paths.

He kept up communications with a few of them, penning long letters every few months. Once a year, they gathered again in the old glade, trading stories and ideas in the glow of embers and starlight, but every year, fewer returned.

Loneliness began to color his frustration. Everyone around him seemed to have found their ideal settings and had settled down, but he knew that their decisions were not his own and that he could never be happy with their lives. He trudged on.

One day, while picking up some supplies in town, he met a girl his own age who was also unsatisfied with the choices of her friends and family. She was tiny and delicate, all wide eyes and dainty hands. Her small arms would never be able to swing a hammer precisely, let alone fell a tree and cut it into planks; he wondered how she would build her house. He wondered about his own.

He introduced himself and they got to talking, about their travels, their ideas, what they were looking for in life. They had many similar propensities and took to each other quickly. Over the next few weeks, they saw each other often on the road. His path and her's seemed to cross more and more regularly and he usually helped her strike camp at night; her shelters were flimsy, barely keeping out the rain, and she detested making fires. He was amazed at the strength of will she possessed to make it this far, in spite of what appeared to be a complete lack of the necessary skills.

The months passed, the seasons changed, and they grew to rely on each other. Winter had come. The snows blowing in fast and they hunkered down, together, to wait for the thaw.

Abandoning their temporary shelters, he dug a foundation and put up four walls of sod blocks, topping it off with a roof of oak branches and bark. It was simple and small, but it kept the wind out at night. During the thin air of the early morning, he would hunt, bringing back fresh meat as often as he could. The bulk of the daylight hours were spent goofing off, playing in the cold white and chatting about what they could do once the thaw came. When the sun went down and the wind began to howl, they would huddle together in their blankets and he would tell her stories to drown out her concerns.

Slowly, inexorably, the days lengthened. The snow had lost its annual appeal and the two found themselves with more and more time on their hands. The animals were returning and awakening and food was plentiful; he was even able to find green things for her to eat to satisfy her less-than-carnivorous appetite. Cramped, bored, and increasingly irritable, they began to expand their tiny hut.

One dull morning, she awoke to the rhythmic sound of axe swings, like a raw heartbeat in the gauzy winter sunshine. All that day – and most of that week – he spent felling trees and hewing them into planks which she then sanded and planed. They had no nails, so he worked methodically, cutting notches into each board and fitting them together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Progress was slow and frustrating. Once started, he attacked the project with a sort of mania, driven to finish it by a deep, intrinsic need to create something out of nothing. She, in comparison, was content to help where she could, not caring about the form of the structure, but merely the function and, as a consequence, couldn't see his concept and often missed a crucial step, forcing him to scrap a day's labor and start over.

The spring thaw found them living in a small house, sleeping in a real bed, cooking in a dedicated kitchen, and storing their leftovers in a dirty – yet tidy – cellar. Their next project was a garden, for which she picked out the items to be planted and he tilled the earth. For a while, they loved their little house and modest existence. The warm sun was a balm for the cabin fever caused by the long months spent in the sod hut, the food from their little garden giving them the simple joy of the fruits of their labors.

Spring pressed on and both occupants of the little house found their discontent growing proportionally with the length of each day. The garden wasn't big enough for her. The house was only one story. He was finding it to be stifling and too warm during the hotter parts of the day. By mid-summer, she demanded that he build a proper house. He didn't take much convincing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stop Saying Words

My updates have been sporadic, this i know. It isn't that i have nothing to say, either. My mind teems with theories and ideas and concepts and thoughts and rants and inane malecowpoop. So why aren't i writing?

One of the problems is one that has plagued me my entire writing life: i want it to be perfect and i want it to be perfect the first time. If an idea doesn't leap into my mind, fully formed and armed like Athena from the forehead of Zues, i tend to shelve it until its had more time to mature. Unfortunately, my mind can only incubate so many ideas at a time and this leads to more half-formed, ignored ideas than i care to admit.

A second problem is that i'm simply not sure if this is the correct forum for some of these thoughts. Shall i rant here about why i believe parents of adult children need to quit trying to parent them and why? What about my ongoing hypothesis on the very nature of love, including why we need more words for it, why romance is dead, and why it will always be the most powerful force in the world? Ok, that one might be cool...

The last reason/problem is twofold. The first part is that i've been busy. A lot has been going on in my life and its taken up a lot of energy to deal with it. Now, this might seem like a good thing for a 'blogger since it provides plenty of material to write about, but let me assure you, its not. Why? you might ask. I know you didn't, but this would have been a pretty boring paragraph if it had stopped after my contrary assertion. The answer is because its entirely likely that the people in my life that are currently making it interesting are READING THIS 'BLOG RIGHT NOW. Not only is that some freaky, Twilight Zone kinda sh!t ("omg, they're reading right now? Are they reading it over my shoulder?"), but its just not conducive to navigating these tricky little things we call "human relationships". I miss my cats.

So yes, my updates have been fewer and farer between that i was originally hoping. This is unfortunate, but trust me; i have plenty more to say.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I was take this space to rant for a while about how much i hate being treated like a vending machine when i'm behind the counter at my place of work, but then i got home to find Good Night, States practicing in my living room. Please excuse me, then, for taking some time to describe just why and how much i love them, as i've been meaning to do so for some time now.

The thought to write this post came to me as i was looking at one of the many machines GN,S uses to power their music. Sitting about 10 inches high, 10 inches deep and about a foot wide, the box was made out of the most plain looking wood you can think of. On the front, various wire protruded, leading, no doubt, to various basses, guitars, or keyboards. All around the jacks for these wires were knobs, switches, and a couple bright indicator lights of red and green.

I have no idea this device does. Trevor said he hadn't gotten around to labelling any of the controls. In case you missed it, that little comment of the bassist's implies that he built this peculiar little soundbox.

THIS, in a nutshell, is what sets GN,S apart in my mind. They are not just musicians (although they are, and great ones at that), but engineers of their beautiful, unique sounds. I would hazard to say that approximately 60% of the equipment you see on stage was built from scratch by the performers with an additional 20% having at one point been repaired or modded by them.

Now, ok, if this is the best evidence i can give for the awesomeness that is Good Night, States, all i've really accomplished is showing you the geekiest band since Anamanaguchi (who rock, btw). Fortunately, it is the live show which really displays their talent and their need for so many personally and specifically constructed pieces of equipment.

It takes them a while to set up. In fact, you can find pictures on their websites of the numerous diagrams they've created in an effort to discover the best and most efficient stage setup. Dan (drummer) is usually in a corner, behind his kit and little chimes and xylophones, making the craziest faces you'll ever see a human being make while doing something that doesn't involve severe physical danger. Opposite him, Megan (synths) and Joe (guitar, synths) are stationed behind a bank of keyboard synthesizers, with Joe's guitar rack and pedalboard trapping them in. Crammed between these two are Steve (lead vocals, guitar) and Trevor (bassist), Steve front and center, behind a microphone and tiny city of pedals, and Trevor stalking around just behind or to the side of him, finding space wherever he can.

It is difficult to categorize Good Night, States' sound. "Synth-folk" is the term i believe they are using now, and its a pretty accurate explanation. The melodies, the lyrics, the feel is all very raw and pure, something you wouldn't expect to hear in this age of auto-tuned producers-turned-artists. They are beautiful, catchy, sometimes simple: something you enjoy singing or clapping along to, which makes it so much more jarring when they break the song down in a turbulent maelstrom of noise, sound, and dischord.

In a number of their songs, there is a breakdown, an unraveling of all the neat threads that make up the fabric of the song. Feedback pours and writhes out from the amplifiers. The bass line, keyboards, and drums are out of sync and seemingly playing random strings of notes and beats. The synthesizers blanket the cacophony with static, pings, bleeps, screeches. And in the midst of the chaos are the musicians, focused, intent on their instruments; they are not lost in the storm. They are creating it. Like mad, musical scientists, they have engineered a monster and are using their many devices and skills to corral it, control it, shape it and direct it into something useful. Something beautiful.

And they succeed, dear reader.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sci Fi: Its Actually Cool!

I've long championed the art and beauty of the science fiction and fantasy genres to any who would hear me. Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings are among my favorite works of fiction for as long as i can remember, but they are by no means a comprehensive list. Anyone today can claim to like those stories and not get looked at twice.

But what about Star Trek?

Ender's Saga?

H. P. Lovecraft?

The Dragonlance Trilogy?

Battlestar Galactica?

These are the titles that, if you've even heard of them, are generally accepted as geeky accolades only acknowledged by fellow-geeks. As an aspiring writer, even i am deeply concerned by the idea that my peers simply will not respect my work because i choose to write science fiction and fantasy instead of the much more respected "literary fiction". I am trying to get over this fear. Here are a couple of instances that have helped me out:

The Ender's Saga, by Orson Scott Card, is one of the greatest works of literature i have ever read, by any definition. Ender's Game, the first book in the series - and the first one i read - was such a thrilling and intelligent tour through military intrigue and child psychology (yes, they're related; read it!) that i was immediately hooked and tore through the following installments. It was only after reading the second book, Speaker for the Dead, that i found out that Ender's Game was written solely so he would have a backdrop for Speaker. In it, Card not only opines our species' likely reaction to first contact with a completely intelligent, non-human life form, he also philosophizes on the very nature of potential moral, religious, and philosophical differences we would most likely run into. And he does it all in a story so exciting that you'll find it just as hard to put down as any crappy novel about human/vampire love affairs. Did i mention that both Ender's Game AND Speaker for the Dead won the Hugo Award for Best Novel AND the Nebula Award for Best Novel?

But that's literature, right? Of course books are going to be more intelligent and high-brow than TV and movies. For the most part, i totally agree with that statement. It shames me to be a fan of the series which eventually gave us Jar Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen. (SERIOUSLY, Lucas?!) But then there are the Battlestar Galacticas. In case you hadn't heard, this happened recently. And in case you can't be bothered to read the article found in that link, i'll summarize it for you: the UN found the themes raised in BSG to be so relevant and important that they co-hosted a panel with the creators and stars of the show to discuss these themes. And no, the themes were not "phasers", "replicators", and "skin-tight bodysuits". They were more uplifting topics like relative wartime ethics, and children and armed conflict. For you fans out there, at one point, Edward James Olmos was so impassioned by the speech he was making regarding the nature of the human species as one unified race that he ended with a shouted, "So say we all!" And, brad dammit, the audience responded in kind and with just as much passion.

Get used to laser guns and warp drives, because they're here to stay.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I have a new post up, but it was written so long ago that it appears as the second post. Still getting used to the mechanics of this, i suppose. Blargle.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Her fingers glided along my arm as she pulled away, her fingers squeezing mine for the briefest moment before she turned and ran down the path, out towards the lamp post. She pulled the bandanna out from her hair as she ran, kicked off her sandals. The rain was coming down harder now, the sound of the droplets hitting the grass drowning out the soft falls of her feet. A thin ribbon of light raced across the sky, revealing our little corner of the world in stark blue contrast. Thunder rolls, and light fades and all i could see was the soft globe of light cast by the lamp, the edges defined by rivulets and sheets of water falling steadily on her now upturned face.

She was swinging around the pole, arms outstretched, her beautiful smile so wide that my stomach could feel her uninhibited joy. My first steps out from the shelter of the gazebo roof seemed cowardly in comparison to her freedom, and i resisted the urge to look up into the fierce cloud cover. Water was streaming down the path now, tugging at my shoes, soaking my feet, feeding a small pond around the base of the lamp. Gradually, imperceptibly, my thoughts were dragged from my water-logged feet to the scene before me, drawn simply the force of its nature.

Water flew everywhere, up and down, around and out. The rain continued to perforate the surface of the puddle in the center of lamplight and the surrounding grass, adding its gentle rhythm to the splashing of her feet. She was dancing. With one hand, she held her skirts, not to keep them dry, but to swing them around in time with her foot falls. The other hand was outstretched, sometimes held classically above her head, sometimes sweeping about her body. She was completely entranced and enchanting, finding the beat of the storm and joining it, both lost and found in the center of its chaos.

I don't know how long she danced or for how long i watched her. The rain obscured the passage of time, all other sounds were drown in the deluge. Eventually, though, she opened her eyes and looked at me. And somehow, miraculously, i think i saw her smile widen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This is Life

I sighed, waved my empty Gatorade bottle half-heartedly, and bid them all good night. Tired and tired of socializing, i wandered back down the line of doors, into the one in which i was staying, and up to the air mattress. Silence.

Bathroom time, pajamas, resetting. Reclined in "bed", computer in lap, i can relax without concern. Star Trek in one window, Warcraft in another, my friend in my phone, telling me about the new patch, i am at peace. I don't need to try, schmooze, wink, lie. I can channel lightning bolts at elves and laugh at early-90s space drama.

I am making my guild-mates laugh. I am chatting with an ex-girlfriend at the same time. I'm carrying on a conversation with Nate on the phone about the intricacies of arcane raiding. My shaman is dealing more damage than the rest of the Damage Per Second team combined.

Thunder crackles in the halls of the Nexus, ionizing the air and igniting the flesh of our enemies while i listen to the details of the Arcane Mage's proposed 400% mana increase for the last stack of Arcane Blast and i'm whispering a young druid that PMS is not a good excuse. The bizarreness of the situation is lost on me.

Later on, i am a mage wandering the woods of Feralas. Nate has left for the evening, the ex is talking about Kat Von D, i am keeping up a txt conversation with someone who needs me, and Matt returns from the outside world.

Years of practice allow me to read his mood in an instant. The mage is abandoned to die among the trees, the ex is told "brb" and even the friend in my phone is asked to hang on. Star Trek is paused and with it, the rest of my little bubble.

My fingers nimbly roll up two cigarettes, bits of tobacco scattered across the counter top. Matt has grabbed a couple beers and we climb out the window into the sky.

A tiny logic puzzle later and we have both opened our beers and lit our cigarettes, all while keeping one hand to the shingles so as not to fall off the little eave that is our veranda. The hot Georgia night air mixes with the smoke in my chest, only to be washed away by the soothing coolness of my beer. We talk about life and its complications in complex, abstract analogies and examples. Our words, formed by the careful locutions of our lips, flow out to mix with the smoke, blown away with the wind.

Everything is quiet on the roof and life seems to almost be understandable out here under the great Georgia sky.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Other News, Some Things Still Rock

I've been spending a fair amount of online time at, a humor site that combines a few of my favorite things (lists, geekiness, swearing for emphasis) into an homage to grown-up man-children everywhere. This morning, while reading about The 5 Most Embarrassing Failures in the History of Terrorism, i took particular note of the last image:

At Cracked, they will still take the time to point out that somethings in life are, in fact, still "f**king metal". You know, like dudes kicking terrorists so hard in the junk that their own bodies can't handle just how awesome they are.

This sort of journalism is, of course, appealing on a purely Dumb Boy level, but i like the fact that, in this age of cynicism and sarcastic pretension, its there are some things that can still be pointed to and declared as "awesome". I find this particularly and personally heartening. I will freely admit that everyone (everyone) is an asshole and that almost everything (not everything) sucks, so when someone goes out of their way to remind me that the military can build a weapon to launch a metal slug at 77,000 feet per second, its a nice little reminder that life is still worth paying attention to.

As a general rule, it is actually people who normally remind me that things are still ok on the mortal coil. You know those jerks that walk around so full of themselves and obliviously taking a crap all over everything you hold dear? Yeh, turns out those folks will still surprise you and do something wonderful every now and again.

Pay attention. There's still a lot of cool stuff out there and a couple pretty awesome people. And if you know any of those people, don't forget to tell them you love them every now and again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Georgia is for Others

I love a good road trip. Hell, a bad road trip is still better than the average work day. There's just something fulfilling about throwing a bunch of supplies and whatnot into a bag and setting out your door for distant locales. It satisfies, in a sadly safe way, the occasional bout of wanderlust that i suspect plagues most males from time to time.

This week i find myself in Georgia visiting a very dear friend of mine from high school, Matt Grajcar. He had moved down south of the Mason Dixon line about a year ago from the New York Metro (read: New Jersey) stomping grounds of our youth. Technically there was a four-year matriculation in Rochester in between NJ and GA, but my frostbitten toes still haven't forgiven my for spending a year up there, so i don't like to talk about it much.

As Matt's sister pointed out, the sky is enormous here. Everything just feels so spread out, almost stretched. You can drive for 15 minutes through northern New Jersey and pass through five or six different towns. Here, you'll never leave the city of Canton, though i couldn't for the life of me point out where exactly the town center is. Its as if the surrounding countryside had been populated to the point where they needed to put down some arbitrary boundaries and call it a new town. We'll call it Canton because otherwise we wouldn't know how to refer to this expanse of road in between Atlanta and North Bumblefuk.

The heat is oppressive. My immune system is quite strong, but my constitution is compromised by an inability to regulate temperature very readily. I overheat quickly and easily, and while my relatively ineffective sweat glands are a blessing in social situations, they are not up to the task of protecting me from the sun which feels all to close for my comfort. I swear the thing looks bigger down here.

The rain keeps me sane and hale. The clouds come up quickly out of nowhere, obscuring vast amounts of sky in a matter of minutes and pouring down a gentle layer of static over the life of sleepy Georgia. The patrons in my little coffee shop hunker down and wait for it to pass, tic-tacking on their laptops or murmuring over their game of Rummy. I alone venture into the vibrant precipitation, luxuriating in the soothing pattern of sensation over my shoulders and neck.

Then the bastard sun busts in like a bouncer breaking up a fight shoos the clouds on their way.

I think he's watching me. And i'm sure he doesn't like me.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I quit smoking. A week ago, actually. I did this for two reasons, the first being that i'd developed a cough after a bout of flu (H1N1?!) a while back that just seemed to linger on forever. Thinking that perhaps my few years of regular smoke inhalation might be the culprit of the cough's continual presence, i prescribed myself at least one week of pure, unadulterated air. The second reason is much more dastardly.

You see, i've long been aware of the hazards of smoking. My mother - whose supernatural sense of smell can pick up four parts per million of cigarette smoke on your clothes from a week ago - has never excused this long-abandoned habit of her youth and raised her children accordingly. My grandmother has smoked a pack of Virginia Slims a day for the past 50 or so years. I spent 2nd through 12th grade in a conservative homeschooling group, completely devoid of any of the stereotypical, after-school-program antagonists that most parents fear so hard. Smoking has never been "cool" to me and i never tried it due to social pressure or a desire to fit in. I smoke because i enjoy smoking.

I say this as a preface to my assertion that i am not, and have never been, addicted to nicotine. I enjoy a cigarette in much the same way i used to enjoy a clove or a cigar. But since i smoke "cancer-sticks" instead of a good cuban, most people just flat out don't believe me. So to all of you who patronizingly told me that i was addicted and clearly too far deep into denial to recognize it, i present my past cold turkey, smoke-free week as evidence to the contrary and kindly ask you to commence shoving it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, i'm going to go roll up some premium tobacco in a little bit of paper, light it on fire, and inhale the delicious results.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Domino's Debacle (or Spit Shakes)

It is hard in this age to appropriately express one's ire towards vendors whom we feel have mistreated us. Outside of frivolous litigation, the strongest display of dissatisfaction is to simply no longer patronize the establishment or vendor in question and advise all your friends to do likewise. For example, after several years of unsatisfactory visits to various Friendly's restaurants, a good friend of mine and i decided to remedy the situation by swearing to never set foot in one again.

So we spat in our hands and shook on it. That was about three years ago and neither one of us have set foot in a Friendly's since.

Now i have another business to add to the List of Shunned Stores. Domino's (frakking) Pizza.

I've actually always had a bit of a soft spot for Domino's. Despite the sub-par flavor and disappointing diameter of their pies, when i was growing up, they were the only pizza place in town that could cater to my brother's life-threatening milk allergy. This is probably part of what made my last experience with them so traumatizing: it tasted like betrayal.

My brother, father, and a few of our friends were helping my dad's mom (Nana) move into a new mature-living community. After filling a 16-foot U-Haul to the door with furniture and boxes, seven men and a little old lady were tired and hungry and wanted some pizza. A few of us were actually hunkered down in the truck waiting for a sudden cloudburst to slow down when my cell rang. My father was calling from inside the apartment, asking me to call Domino's and get us some lunch. Fine, i think, not my favorite activity, but what the hell.

Red Flag #1: All Domino's orders are now handled at a central location: they're corporate headquarters in Mid-West Town, Middle of Nowhere, USA. The woman took my order (two large pizzas and a medium, no cheese pizza), and asked the address for delivery. I gave it to her and was told the bill came to $38-something and to expect it in a half hour. Aright! all seems well. Twenty minutes later, however, the woman calls back saying that the two closest branches did not offer delivery (Red Flag #2). Ok, no problem, just connect me to the branch in my hometown - no more than 15 minutes from where we were - and i'll give them the address. This she does and i repeat the address to the woman at the actual store in which the pizzas will be made. She gives me another ETA and i hang up, satisfied.

Then my phone rings. Once again, it is a woman from Domino's telling me that (Red Flag #3) they cannot deliver our lunch, this time because our location is outside of their delivery area. Now, i am distinctly anti-conflict by nature, but the likelihood of me being dissuaded is inversely proportional to the amount of difficulty presented me. At this point, i WILL have my pizza, so i tell the woman that i will come pick the pizza up myself, only, would you please add sausage to half of the plain pie, because my Nana will cry otherwise. She agrees and i hop in the car and head out.

A couple of items retrieved from Nana's old place, i arrive at the Domino's expecting to pay the mentally-figured sum of approximately $38 ($38 - delivery fee of about $2, plus about $2 for the sausage). Red Flag #4, the woman, who is alone in the store, pleasantly informs me that i owe $42-something.

"I'm sorry, was the sausage $4?" I asked?

"No..." She responded, slightly confused. I asked her if she took off the delivery fee. She responded in the affirmative, and i told politely explained to her my difficulty in justifying this bill to the one i was expecting. Either realizing she was caught in cheating me or simply (and accurately) deciding that it was wise to get me out of the store as fast as possible, she managed to mysteriously knock $5 off my bill and i finally forked over two $20s for my hard-fought pizza.

It is as she is handing me my change that she tells me that, "had you gotten the third pizza as a large, they would have been $5 each".

"I really didn't need to hear that right now," i said, jaw clenched.

And that is why i am never going to give Domino's any of my money ever again.

At Least I'm Changing Constantly

Humans hate change. Humans are constantly changing. These are two of the inescapable truths involved in life--the so-called "human experience". There are so many factors effecting who you are as a person that just cataloging them all would take up all of your time, let alone attempting to be aware of how they contribute to your personality. Even if you wanted to remain exactly who you are right now and were aware of the effects of social climate, family dynamics, aging, media influences, etc, it would be impossible to resist such influences as brain chemistry (which can be altered by approximately 60-gazillion things, including an iron bar being shot through your face and brain, a la Phineas Gage). Fortunately, its such gradual, subtle experience that a life-long change doesn't usually impact our lives in any detrimental way; its just something of which everyone should be aware.

Despite the acrid cynicism i have picked up over the years, for some reason i am still a hopeless and incurable romantic. I don't believe in such fables as Soul Mates or Love-at-First-Sight, but i still find the form and function of love to be such a thing of beauty that it is worth pursuing at almost all cost. My head and my heart are not really on speaking terms because of this outlook, but that's just the way i'm put together. Love is one of those interesting little phenomenon that i will most likely be wondering about for my entire life, and its got plenty of facets to keep me guessing for decades to come.

This brings me to these words which i found scrawled in my moleskine, most likely hurriedly penned down on a train before i forgot them: The nature and minutiae of your love for another must evolve as regularly as we, as human beings, change, lest we find ourselves in love with someone who no longer exists.
This is my simple explanation for why people so often fall out of love with each other. Young people, who are in a constant and violent state of emotional fluctuation, fall in and out of love regularly. Older folks, by contrast, have neared the end of their changes and are usually set in their relationship status (or are in a relatively stable state).

Get to know who your lover is; then, never stop.

State of the Nature of This Blog Address

Hello and welcome to my 'blog, oh ye tired and weary 'net travelers. I don't know how you found yourself here or what you looking for, but it is my sincerest hope that you gain something from my words that you did not have prior to visiting this page.

Ok, that was a load of crap. I'm writing this because i love writing and people keep telling me to start a 'blog. If i actually keep up with this project, you'll most likely see everything from abstract musings to my own peculiar brand of poetry. If you like what you see, awesome! i hope you'll leave a comment so that i know i put a smile on your face (or whatever). If there's nothing for you here, don't worry, i really won't give a rip; i'm gonna keep writing.

So let's have some fun, readers. I don't know what to make of this, but here's to finding out. Cheers.