Monday, August 31, 2009

More Inebriated Profoundness

No, I'm not as blitzed as I was the last time I blogged drunk, but I'm still a bit loopy. So, in light of the fact that a friend of mine just passed out while on the phone with me, I'm going to attempt ten profound thoughts again.

Or, rather, not-so-profound thoughts.

We shall see what we see, won't we? (somebody please tell me what movie that's from... I can't think)

1. I do not sing. I cannot sing. I don't care what you heard or from whom.

2. One plus one equals two.

3. Blood is definitely thicker than water... and leaves a bigger mess when spilled.

4. I had two cigarettes in the past week. I think this makes me a bad person.

5. Whoever said "there's no place like home" never went anywhere.

6. Don't axe me a question!

007. James Bond is the shit.

8. Friends you've never met are less likely to judge you.

9. Damn you, Barefoot! Cheap Merlot isn't supposed to be good!

10. Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd were way better Angels than Farrah Fawcett ever was. Yeah, I said it. Got a problem?

Meh... I didn't drink enough, I think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Battlestar Enterprise, Part II

Okay, I must admit, Part I of this elicited minimal response, but there are apparently a few more BSG fans following me since that one went up, so I'm gonna give Part II a shot. This one was originally posted on January 10, 2009.

Read the first part here: Battlestar Enterprise, Part I


***

David Adama hated flying. He was, as many have pointed out, a whiny little bastard and the very thought of an aircraft crashing into the ground scared the living shit out of him. Never mind that in space there is no gravity, and he needn't worry of such a thing, but he did anyway. Suddenly in need of a security blanket, he checked his 4 o'clock and made sure the accompanying Raptor was still where it should be.

Naturally, it was, but as David was a whiny little bastard, he keyed his mike and queried for an audio response.

"She-Boomer, you there?"

"Yes, Apollo."

For a moment David thought he could actually hear She-Boomer's eyes rolling. "Just doing my job, She-Boomer. Just checking in."

"I'm fine; you're fine. Would you like to ask Helo and Crashdown if they're fine?"

"Who?"

"My crew, Apollo. The Raptor is, you know, a three-seater, and despite the propensity of other writers never taking advantage of all three seats, this one does, so I have a co-pilot and an ECMO."

Ek-mo, Apollo thought to himself. Ah! It suddenly made sense.

It really wasn't fair that everyone gave him such a hard time. He wasn't a military man by trade, after all. That honor belonged to his twin sister, Davida, and his little brother, James T. Junior.

He didn't like thinking about those two, especially given their histories. He was involved in an incestuous relationship with Davida before finding out she was his sister, and that little fact had made recent family gatherings a little awkward, particularly since he still wanted her. And don't forget the little business that his brother, James T. Junior, who had died during an atmospheric reentry, was also in a sexual relationship with Davida. Davida, in a strange twist of fate, had been one of Junior's flight instructors, and is the only reason Junior passed flight school. Junior, apparently, had no feel for the cockpit, but had a ton of feel for Davida's cock-pit, and Davida willingly screwed every other flight instructor at school in order to secure Junior a passing grade. She'd be damned if she had to tell dad that she failed her brother.

"Apollo, She-Boomer. Come in."

Apollo shook the thought out of his mind and held down a puke. "What's up?"

"Er, the anomaly. We're here."

***

Saturday, August 29, 2009

His Final Lover

He could never understand what it was about strange, new places that reminded him of home. Or, rather, of her. He had no home, per se, but he often thought of her. No matter how far he ran away, there was a memory chasing her down. Someone had told him that it was simple matter of survival instinct: men faced with dying need reasons to live. Not that she was his reason; only that he had nothing else. She was a carefully written fiction of the book in his mind, and he only turned the pages to see what she would do next. A movie star gracing a screen of gray matter. His Girl Friday of yesterday, and of tomorrow.

She had a smile dependent on her mood. Most women do, to be fair, but he only ever noticed it in her. He only ever noticed anything in her. If he'd missed something when she was standing in front of him, he was sure he'd dream of it later and be able to pick out the details as he slept. There was a vague recollection of her telling him that his memories were inflated, but such straight-forwardness only convinced him further that those memories were accurate. She had a softly and slowly spoken voice, one that hid experience and education, punctuated by an occasional yawn that was vehemently denied as boredom and excused as the result of being a restless sleeper. Whether or not he believed her, he couldn't recall.

In reality, he couldn't recall much, for he hadn't seen her in a very long time. Such a long time, in fact, he wasn't even sure she was real anymore. Imagination in the face of loneliness runs rampant, after all. And in this part of the world, loneliness is the rule, for it is a long way from familiar. And he wanted to survive.

The warmth he felt wasn't from any embrace, nor was it from the heat in the region, though it was particularly warm. Rather, it was from freshly bled blood escaping from a wound somewhere underneath his uniform. He lacked the presence of mind to be able to find the hole; merely maintained the presence to know that there was one. There was a parting thought that friends should be somewhere nearby, but the notion was brief and more than futile. Were friends here, he'd have been carried away by now. There was no realization of this, for his eyes had been gazing upon the memory of a smile soon to be forgotten. The picture in his mind no longer matched the picture in his hand, but he had known they were of the same face. A small comfort in the acknowledgment of missed opportunity.

In a final passing breath, instead of a longing smile, a hint of regret for things left unsaid.

It would've been better if he hadn't remembered.

"... and death will be my final lover, and life will always be something that I never understand." - Bob Schneider

*Find out who she is... in You're Beautiful

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A River in Epirus

Her kiss was sweet in a way that it has never been before. The man smiles at the woman and gently places his thumb on her chin.

"Will you miss me?" she asks.

"I always miss you."

Behind them a limousine pulls up, for the man was a wealthy man and his payrolls control much of the city. No driver exits, but the passenger door opens anyway. This shocks the woman and she peers into the compartment, but sees no shape nor movement. The man takes no notice. He smiles again and she returns it, hesitantly. He can tell that something is wrong, but she's just a throwaway, and her emotions concern him not. He enters the vehicle without so much as a wave goodbye.

The limousine pulls away and the privacy barrier lowers slowly. As the man tastes his lips, there's hint of something obscure on them, he realizes that he does not recognize the driver.

"Where's Smith?

The driver turns and winks, he looks friendly enough. "He's sick today, sir. There's something going around. How are you feeling?"

The man ignores the question, but notices his forehead burning up. He turns on the air conditioning in the compartment and shakes his head in the cool air. The driver smiles widely at him. The man hits the button to raise the barrier, but nothing happens.

"Driver," he says, "raise the barrier, if you don't mind."

"I do, actually," the driver responds, continuing to smile but returning attention to the road.

There's an attempt at rebuke, but something catches the man's throat and he loosens his tie.

"What does your wife think of your trysts, sir? She can't possibly approve."

Grunting, the man forces his voice to work. "None of your fucking business, puke. Who the fuck do you think you are? Do you know who I am?"

"Yes, sir." A mocking nod accompanies the driver's words. "But you do not know who I am."

"Whoever you are, you're an insignificant fool. I'll have your job."

"Oh, I doubt that. My job has been the same since before you were born."

A closer examination of the driver reveals the face of a man who could not be older than 35 years of age. The man takes a deep breath, noticing for the first time that he can smell whatever it is that he's been tasting.

The driver laughs. "Sure, the medium has changed, as has the mode. But I still go back and forth to the same place, carrying poor saps like you."

"Poor saps?" The man is barely able to speak. He glances in a vanity mirror: his skin is deep red and clammy.

"Yes. Many men who have crossed the river did so because of poison. You are not the first, nor will you be the last."

River? Poison? That fucking bitch! Did the harlot know he was going to leave her like he did all the rest? The man glances through watering eyes at the driver, who shakes his head as if reading the man's mind.

"Your wife left this for you."

The driver hands the man an envelope. There's something heavy inside. Through struggled breath and clenched teeth, the man opens it. It's a coin. One unlike he's ever seen.

"What is it?" asks the man.

"Just an old piece of silver," responds the driver, not turning his head.

"I see that, you fuck. What's it for?" Left arm heavies and breath continues to labor.

"Your mouth."

"What?"

"Put it in your mouth." The driver turns this time. His eyes no longer human, reminiscent of fire; smile demonic. "It's my fare."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Neverland

Teach me to ride the wind
and away we'll go
my shadow is lost this close to the sun
but my wings are fine

Save your needle and thread
for when you tear my heart in two
and a laugh breaks
into a thousand little pieces

You'll be waiting
where dreams can be remembered
between sleep and awake
...the only place you love me

The second star to the right
will lead us nowhere
but death is an awfully big adventure
... the only place you love me

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fearless

No, there are no guarantees, just like there are no answers. Logic is not sovereign here. Magic should be, but it isn't. No one is sure either exists. Intention matters only to the one intending, the rest will judge execution, and rationality has been executed. Suicide seemed so exhilarating until waking up in the arms of a dead lover.

Heads roll, not from the guillotine, but from the thoughtless purity of lust. Love is little more than justification for brash decision, and this is why it is compared to war. Both take their victims, and the survivors move on. The face that launched a thousand ships destroyed two countries and created another, undiscovered. Fears are shed for those left behind as she sails beyond the horizon.

No testament, old or new, has ever revealed what it means to be human. "Because," is a pitiful answer to the question, "Why?" The wisest don't even ask. Lords and Kings fall because they are not their fathers. Fathers fail because they do not choose their daughters. And if their favorite remains silent, what does it matter that subjects remain foolishly loyal? What she wants is known only to herself.

If it's going to happen, there's no need to worry about it. Silence is a torture, but she's persisted a decade; there's no reason to question her impatience. Summer has begun, and misunderstood dreams will follow. Her balcony never seemed so far away, but it's not too high to climb. An arm is outstretched, though it's unclear if she's offering her hand or keeping her distance. Perhaps she's waiting for the Fall.

Take the hand. What is there to lose?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Drunken Thoughts

I'm blitzed (yes, from cheap Merlot) and I've decided to conduct an experiment, and in this experiment I will try to write no less than ten profound thoughts that come to mind, and hopefully these ten profound thoughts will make perfect sense when I read them in the morning.

It is currently 11:30 PM, Eastern time, on the 22nd of August, 2009.

Let's roll.

1. I finished a book tonight and am wondering if I'm going to remember doing so when I sober up. And if I remember doing so, am I going to remember what the Hell the story was about?

2. A friend of mine is expressing an irrational attraction for Kellogg's Special K Red Berries. I have no fucking idea what she's talking about. Hopefully I can refrain from using the word "fuck" or any of its variants for the rest of the entry. I wouldn't want to earn an "R" rating, now, would I?

3. Speaking of ratings... the MPAA is full of shit. We need a new rating system. Do I have an idea concerning this? Oh, yes, I do. Some other time, however. Just know that the MPAA is full of shit.

5. Whoops, I forgot 4, didn't I?

5. Just pretend that last 5 was number 4.

6. I am a fool, an idiot, a misanthrope, and a hopeless romantic. And guess what? I like it that way.

7. I have 30 pieces of 2 milligram Nicorette left. Confucius say: that's not enough fucking nicotine. Aw, shit... I used the "F" word again.

8. Why do all "bad words" pertain to sex and/or bodily functions? Oh, wait... religion. How's that for arbitrary?

9. To all those whom I offend: I humbly offer A) my humblest apologies... and B) that I don't give a shit.

10. Bo Derek? Are you kidding me? Not even...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Momentum

You're carried in the direction you're already going, spinning out of control since you lost control. It's human nature to flinch. Nobody would fault you for letting go of the steering wheel, but you let go simply because you like the way it looks as it turns. Body crashes forward through cold, hard glass as everything else starts rolling to the left. This is going to leave marks, and most will never be seen. Why you're smiling as the world starts tumbling is beyond me.

Finish that thought coming out of your mouth and things will change direction. Speed, too. It's called velocity, and its sudden stop hurts. That you choose words like you choose ammunition is both your boon and bane. A wound that draws blood will heal, but wounds that draw pain echo in memory. You haven't slowed down, merely turned sharply, and everyone vomits. Life is revealed as the cruel joke it is, but at least you're finally laughing now.

You're carried by a canopy of silk dragging you away from the aircraft. You've been trained to change direction, "slip away" they call it, but that lie only works when standing on the ground. Wind is the only master up here, and your wings are false. The only thing slipping away is sanity, sliding into fear. Pain wakes you up again as you hit the ground. One way or another, you're going to hurt. You're laughing so hard, you're crying.

Every mistake you've ever made has put you on this road, in this place. Right here, right now is nothing more than the sum of your actions, driven blindly until you wound up where you needed to be. A ticket would’ve brought you here; a map would've shown you the way, but fewer roads would’ve been taken. Without control, there's no way to learn from fucking up; without wrong turns, there's no way to know what was missed. The joke is over.

You're carried by emotion, unaware of any thought. Why your opponent deserved a blackened eye doesn't matter. Maybe you were pushed to the ground like you remembered, but that won't be on the video. Anger finds a strange way to release itself, because it can't be held for long. What's worse is that you like it. It's said that love makes the world go 'round, but you know that's not true. Love does nothing. Sin is responsible for progress. But now you know, and you can smile again.

Taking the long way around finally seems worth it. Experience has tempered impatience, though swinging pendulum remains a persistent enemy. Too early and you wouldn't have been ready; too late and she would have been gone. Reaction and thought travel at the speed of light, and though there's hesitation between sunset and sunrise, it doesn't matter. Dreams happen in the dark when roads are harder to see.

You’re carried by momentum, realizing that love does nothing because it wants to be seen as you drive by. She's standing in the way and you're looking forward to the impact. Broken glass will be soft and warm. Why you’re smiling as the world starts tumbling finally makes sense. It’s too late to stop, and you didn’t want to, anyway.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yeah, Well, Why Not?

On Drinking

So, apparently I need to lighten up (not to mention sober up). Why I've developed an addiction to cheap Merlot recently is beyond me... probably has something to do with not getting hangovers from it. I mean, shit, I quit smoking (not a single cigarette since July 18) so I should be allowed one vice before I have to give them all up, no?

And I've decided that beer sucks. Yeah, there are some microbrews that are good, but mass-marketed beer sucks. Tom Collins and Merlot only from now on. Oh, and some Spumante (funny story behind that one... tell it later).

On Writing and Editing

People out there are starting to realize I'm a dick when it comes to writing and editing. Well, sue me. I work as a professional reader and publish the occasional critical analysis. Hate to sound arrogant, but when I suggest something (or point something out), it's with good reason. If you're not in the game to be published, just ignore this. But if you are... get used to dickheads like me. We're always looking for reasons to throw your work away, you can believe that. Yet we so very much want to love what we're being paid to read.

And, no, I don't think I'm God's gift to writing... far from. My talent is well below those of many writers I've worked with or continue to work with (Michael, you reading this??? Get off your ass and submit some shit!). I'm just here to be a curmudgeon. I like being a curmudgeon.

On Hair

Most of you know by now that I cut my hair yesterday. Pictures of what went down are on the Internet, and despite the fact that that I despise photos of myself, I'm going to "lighten up" and send you to the blogger who decided to expose me. She's a hag, but here it is: Not For Jellyfish: He Who Refuses To Be Named's Shear Insanity.

I miss my hair. And even though there have been many, many reassurances to the contrary, I think my new hair looks like crap. Another reason why I prefer blunt to polite... can't ever tell when someone's being honest.

Ah, well...

On the Army

Seriously, I was bored. And, yes, I really do want to rejoin; necessity has little to do with it. Can't quite put my finger on it, but there's definitely a need for change combined with a sense of things left unfinished combined with proving to myself that I can still do it.

There are, that I can think of, only two reasons that I considered not going back... the first reason is my pets. The separation should be temporary, but I'll miss them dearly just the same. The second reason is more... obscure... and my close friends know what that's about. Hell, clever readers here can probably piece it together... I have been a bit obvious about it, I suppose. How unlike me.

Yeah, I'm weird. And I've never said I wasn't crazy.

More On Writing

To answer a surprisingly common question: Yes, I can continue to post stuff while I'm in the Army. If a few months pass without a post, I'm probably dead. Or in prison. But probably dead.

How's that for ending on a high note?

Hooah!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blink; Whisper

It was obvious that trachea crushed beneath elbow, but no chances are taken. Silencer jams into throat and teeth scrape gun-sight a millisecond before sinew and fluid from spinal cord splatter onto the wall behind. The shadows were perspective, and no enemy would share the view.

Hands move in silhouette, speaking a language known only to the blurred outlines signaling acknowledgment. Dark shapes of what should be men appear under encroaching starlight and the fresh kill is carefully dismembered and discarded in nearby piles of trash. But what manner of men would act in such a fashion?

Devoid of thought, these shapes knew only one thing: an objective had to be met. They were here to stop a murderer, and the irony that they themselves were murderers in the eyes of whatever God or gods they believed in was not lost on them. But killers, be they state-employed or simple criminals, always exist on the fringes of society, and they would sleep well tonight.

Stealth is shed as the sun finally sets. Shadows take their rightful place as masters of fear and rush their adversaries. To the awaiting enemy, floating Cheshire grins create a sense of horror as the blurred outlines fail to even bother with pulling triggers. One man momentarily tastes the metal of a rifle stock before he begins a slow death choking on his own teeth and tongue. Another never even looks up from his freshly-lit cigarette as a well-placed thumb and forefinger violently rip out his larynx.

Guttural screams finally raise the alarm, and the enemy camp springs into action, only to fall amid ballistic spitting and noises that vaguely sound like rubber bands flying through the air. Those smart enough to remain still in attempts to listen for their attackers fare no better, as pools of arterial blood from cleanly slit necks will reveal under tomorrow's rising sun. Though there is no scythe reflecting moonlight, the presence of Death is unmistakable. Pure and unadulterated. Remorse forgotten with the loving smiles of wives and children left behind many months ago.

Their objective lies in the dark, believing himself to have an advantage. The stars and the moon should offer at least a warning glimpse of the unknown assailants. Such would, no doubt, be the case, were the assailants now not crawling on their bellies as snakes in the grass. Mother Nature makes no judgment, and her creatures are the most efficient killers, second only to those men who are able to cease being men when the need arises. There's almost a hiss as a dark outline rises behind the objective and places a black blade against throat.

The objective begs for his life. But shadow takes neither prisoner nor creates martyr. It simply wishes to create more shadow. Screams of false penance are doused in gasoline and set aflame. For a moment, the eyes of living men reappear in the flickering light, apparitions of life in a place now completely dead. One places fingers to lips in a silencing motion. When it is decided that pain has been felt enough, those same fingers reach for trigger and end the screaming once and for all.

A rare offering of mercy, out of shadow and into light, only to fade away again.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shear Insanity: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

As of this moment, I am scheduled to get my hair cut on Thursday at 3 PM, Eastern time. A pretty banal statement, I would admit, were the situation not an unusual one. You see (well, no, you can't see, and I'm not about to post a photo, so you won't be seeing, but now I'm getting beside myself), I haven't had a haircut in over two years. July of 2007, if my memory serves me right (it often serves me wrong, which is why I don't play tennis. ACK! Bad joke, I know).

So that's... two years and one month? Give or take. The last time a hair on my head fell to the ground for reasons other than natural. Wait... I was in a couple of fist-fights this year... I probably lost some hair in those engagements. Anyway...

Why the haircut? Well, the unthinkable is about to happen: I'm about to rejoin the United States Army.

Those of you who need to change their pants, feel free to do so. I'll put some Zeppelin on in the meantime. A little "intermezzo," if you would.

Yes, I'm about to rejoin the Army. For no less than three years, at that. Only this time I'll be getting paid a Hell of a lot more money. But I digress. It is for this reason that my extremely long hair has to go (it really is a bit long... I can reach my arm behind my back and grab the ends of it).

Now, those of you who might have happened to have served with me already know that I am notorious for being that soldier... "the one with the long hair." But what I have at this moment really is ridiculously long. I kinda like it... some women I know kinda like it (and some don't, but I won't mention those hags)... and my cats kinda like to mistake my head for a scratching post.

A little while ago I was, in all honestly, just going to shave my head bald as some sort of misguided rebellion, but I really had nothing to rebel against so I decided against it. An even shorter while ago I was, in all honestly, going to go in for a bit of a trim, but one of my hag friends berated me for not donating my hair to a cancer wig organization (or something like that), so I held off.

But now things are coming to a head (hah! A pun! I fucking hate puns), and it's time to prepare myself for a few years of regulation-short hair and to donate my shower companions to a good cause.

Yeah, I'm rambling. So what? I had some cranberry vodkas for lunch. Eat me.

Someone just remember to remind me to take before and after photos.

Pointless Musings

I finally saw Watchmen today. I quite liked it... a very good adaption of one of the greatest graphic novels (read: glorified comic books) of all time, if not the greatest. The actress who played Silk Spectre II was pretty horrible, and a lot of the nuance found in the comic was left out, but I thought it was pretty good... maybe even brilliant.

My friend J is getting sick of helping me throw out my trash (long story; don't ask).

I recently reread 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick's film was visionary, sure, but the book blows it out of the sky. Score one for Arthur C. Clarke.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, I love the movie Stardust. Watch it if you haven't already. It's The Princess Bride for the 21st century. Yep, I just made a hefty claim.

I still need someone to take my German Shepherd and/or my two cats for a few months. Any volunteers?

Leaving sucks, but traveling is the best thing in the world. I love irony.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Calm; Stay

What should have been deafening roar is uncannily absent. Even a terrified voice counting to four cannot be heard. Only rapid heartbeats assaulting a mind moving too slowly to comprehend can even be felt. Feet scramble for purchase, but are met with only the horrifying, and wonderful, sensation that the sidewalk had ended. Finally, a sound... jumpmasters on the ground barking orders for the first-time paratrooper to quit screaming in the air. A look skyward reveals a parachute wide open and gods not believed in are silently thanked. There is pain in the neck and between the legs, a harness too loosely rigged, as a body goes limp in anticipation of impact.

Stay calm. The ground is almost here.

The corridor is dark and the only noise discernible is from the firefight still happening in the streets outside. Illogically, a pounding heart is cursed, not from anxiety, but from the fear that an enemy might be able to hear it. Feet glide close to the ground, quieting their own forward progress. A safety is thumbed free in full expectation of an encounter with a stranger. The trigger provides a sense of comfort that it should not, disguising its power to change the destinies of both wielder and target. Thought, too, is an enemy, and one that needs conquering quickly, for there are no second chances here. There's a subtle pain in the shoulder from a weapon held too tightly, a reminder that the hunter may also be the hunted.

Stay calm. This, too, shall pass. One way or another.

She approaches from the sunlight, making it hard to maintain any pretense of nonchalance. A heartbeat tries desperately to chase the presence of a first impression long forgotten. Footsteps are soft, confident, deliberate in their attempt to give nothing away. She stands there, a reminder of days gone by; days more innocent. There's hope that she notices only a nervous smile, and that she remembers, too. Warm flesh in embrace overwhelms senses and eliminates pain from reluctant memory. It won't last forever, but solace is taken in the knowledge that it will linger. It's been far too long since desire was so close.

Stay calm. Never was an instant more exhilarating.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Incredible Journeys Home

The Appalachians just west of Asheville are already getting get cold. There is no risk of snow just yet, but the autumn chills are settling in and familiar aches returning. Weather isn't the only reason for the aches, of course, as the memory of a tired and hungry body's journey from the Atlantic coast is still fresh in bones and muscles. It has taken five weeks to get this far, and a desire to return to a Californian mountain lake once called home ensures that aches and pains will be endured for another few months. If, that is, a body no longer conditioned can remember younger days long enough to make it.

A month ago, everything was lost. Career, money, life... everything. So a journey was begun. A dying truck on its last miles sold to ensure food, at least, could be had. As companions, loyal dogs would remain beside, hunting their own meals and occasionally sharing the unlucky squirrel or rabbit. The two smaller dogs, a pointer-mix and a beagle-mix, would often range together, but always pick up their master's scent and return. The German Shepherd, true in camaraderie, would never roam too far away.

An old Army backpack was packed with what clothes, soap, and toothpaste could be carried. There was a cell phone, of course, but one no longer paid for and soon to be inactive. Most unusually, a cat carrier containing two cats, a gray-white and a dark mackerel-tabby the sole remnants of a family once numbering ten or more. A hard journey made more difficult by a stubborn reluctance to part with what were considered children.

Naturally, the cats had to be let out of their cage to relieve themselves and to eat, but never without a gentle hand holding tightly to neck or back. Initially the cats found themselves at odds with such an arrangement, but they learned to accept it eventually. Still, they continued to despise it, unaware of the great care taken to prevent their getting lost so far from any home they've ever known. A great care taken despite the great burden.

But their master is not invincible, and a feeble attempt at staying warm in the Appalachian forest serves pitiful proof of this. Exhausted, no forward progress had been made in days. A decision is made to let the cats roam around, hoping they would somehow recognize their temporary abode. At first, the cats are weary of leaving the safety, if confinement, of their cage. Soon, however, playful dogs and the sounds of an open wilderness provide the motivation to set foot on strange land.

A tired smile. Pairs of cat eyes make contact with human. An unspoken trust providing some comfort where none is to be had.

"Don't go too far," a voice cracks. Less for the words and more for the sound remembered from happier days and telephone conversations from the next room. "Don't go too far."

The cats cautiously prowl around, under both the watchful eyes of an adopted parent and the curious eyes of canine cousins. Toys reveal themselves as leaves fluttering in the wind, insects hiding under decaying bark, and the rare evidence of previous encampments. Slowly, but surely, the playground continues to grow, all the while the melody of "don't go too far" plays in the background.

But the Autumn chills are increasing, and strength has to be preserved. Human eyes close, and a voice quiets into a slumber. Dogs, sensing the need for warmth, huddle close. But the cats continue to play, further and farther away. Further and farther away, until the instinct that home lies somewhere to the East overwhelms the knowledge that such place was no longer home.

In the morning, hours of calling, and perhaps a few tears shed, ultimately give way to a westward journey continued.

And an empty cage remains in the mountains west of Asheville.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Face in the Water is Not Mine

Remember the saying? The one about the flapping butterfly starting a hurricane a world away? It's hard not to appreciate so poetic a philosophical sentiment, but it's clearly full of shit. The one about ripples in a pond, though... that one's pretty accurate.

I can't recall the exact way Zen describes it, but it basically amounts to humanity being a pond, and the actions of individuals creating ripples. Ripples that traverse the width and breadth of that small body of water that is the world, affecting others along the way. Of course, we'll never see the distant changes we may cause, but they're there. A bad mood leading to words of anger leads to someone else's sad mood leading to tears, and so on.

And those are just the ripples we can see. Never mind the undercurrents.

I am not, by nature, overly sympathetic to humanity as a whole, but I do understand that everyone is connected somehow. That we are all six degrees apart is no simple drinking game. Or maybe it is, should one be drinking from the pond. I also tend to be overly sympathetic to friends in need, or friends who think they're in need. I've been rock bottom myself, both emotionally and pragmatically, and it's a shitty place to be... even if you're head is still above the water.

For whatever reason, and even I'm at a loss to fully comprehend why, I've been a "go to" guy since early in my Army career. And not just for technical or occupational reasons, but for emotional reasons, as well. Strangely, I usually found myself needing some sort of support from others, but people would still come to me for the simplest of things. The most complex, too, including things that I quite plainly had no experience with whatsoever. But, they came, called, whatever. And I was there. Even if I didn't really care, but don't tell anyone that.

Today, a rather odd thing happened. One of my readers confessed that a blog I wrote helped this person's relationship. I don't think there was any real danger of this relationship breaking up, but it was admitted that they were in a sort of a rut. Honestly, it never occurred to me that my writing had an effect on anybody, much less friends of mine. Sure, I've written things in order to try to cheer people up (see "Other People's Fires"), but they never seem to work. And, to be honest, such pieces were probably only written so I could make myself seem more important than I actually am.

Then again, maybe it's because my writing waxes poetic a little too much, and people take to that. I used to be able to write a fairly sterile piece, but lately I haven't felt like it. Hell, I haven't felt like it ever, probably. There's always some sort of anger, melancholy, false hope, etc. poking its oft-dishonest head into my work. I've been called melodramatic, despicable, crazy, stupid, inane, insane, arrogant, narcissistic, and foolish because of my writing, and while there's certainly some truth to those adjectives, I am most certainly not my writing.

That stated, this is not to claim that pieces of me aren't in my writing, and it's fairly obvious that I've been uncharacteristically "open and honest" in some recent works, but I do try to write in another pond, so to speak. Or, at least, I think I do. Perhaps my lack of sympathy in persona finds its way through fingertips into the gentle tapping of letters on a keyboard. More likely, perhaps I'm just full of shit.

Who really knows? The possibility remains that none of this is for me to decide. There's a point in writing when a piece begins to belong to its readers and no longer its author. Maybe that's what's happening here, maybe not. All I know is I'm staring at ripples distorting the reflection of a stranger.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

North Countries

To the young, the death of youth seems a cause to celebrate. In the summer between graduation and whatever happens next, there's an endless festival of singing and dancing away adolescent inhibitions. A wait begins for the freedom of adulthood that will never come, ultimately replaced by the recognition that the death of youth is cause to mourn.

For one, there is another wait, but of this he is unaware. He remembers its beginning, a day secured in memory. Winds from northern California, turning into gusts off the Sierra Nevadas, swept through her hair. Blonde reflection in the lights of the biggest little city in the world seemed an overwhelming image in carnival mirror. A friend's cruel intention prevented further encounter, but subconscious wiser than he etched her face in thoughtful watercolor and safely kept it from fading in the sun.

Gusts continuing their course pushed him to a life as a soldier. North Carolina winds became faithful companion to young paratrooper and carried him safely to the ground on many occasions. Though she would often occur to him, immaturity spared him painful reflection and granted an absence of yearning. A curious safety net for an occupation in which thought is an enemy of balance and instinct, the tightrope. The circus of life had provided an unusual, merciful respite.

A gentle westerly blew him further East, as far as East as it could take him. And not once, but twice. In a realization of unhappiness, he hastily fought against the currents and returned to the place he thought was home, but found only enemy hearts and broken dreams. Ever loyal winds soon carried him back to the Atlantic, where a wait lasting over a decade abruptly came to an end. Blonde reflection in the lights of experienced eyes, nostalgia and euphoria in elegant jamboree.

Still, there are few happy endings in life, and thanks to the errant timing of hurricane, his wait will begin anew. This time he will not be spared the yearning, but it no longer matters. He knows now that he's spent his entire life waiting for something, and now that he finally knows that the object of his patience exists, he'll gladly wait once more. He's peripherally aware that he'll never see her again, but he'll wait. If necessary, all the way until his funeral.

For now, he will sing and dance away fearful inhibitions. And dream of the girl of north country fair.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lost In Transcription, Part II - Running Away

*Lost In Transcription, Part I - Returning Home

Well, what a year this is. Not two months ago, I had come to the conclusion that I was meant for a life of solitude. I probably still am, mind you, but at least I'm finally aware that "she" really is out there. Long-time readers might roll their eyes at seeing that old use of quotations, but those in the know are aware that the previous use was simply an attempt to hurt someone else... a fool's errand from a childish state of mind.

There have been more than a handful of significant women in my life, and all have made indelible impact. Most negative, naturally, but positive as well. Mistakes were made, huge mistakes, that will undoubtedly never be made again... at least not by me. Earlier this year (last month, actually), I finally pushed through the single greatest obstacle I've ever had to push through in my entire life. No, I didn't make it to the other side unscathed... rather scarred, actually... but I am finally on the other side. And unequivocally so.

My closest friends will describe each of my relationships as unusual, and unusual is as accurate a word as there is. Then again, I'm not exactly usual fare. I've known, without doubt, the kind of woman I've wanted since high school. That may read like melodramatic nonsense, but I've known it to be true for a very long time. Anyone who's been around for the end of one my relationships probably couldn't pinpoint exactly why most of the relationships failed, save for that by the end of them, I wasn't really trying.

Indeed, even with the seven-year travesty that came to close recently, I knew within the first year that I had made a serious mistake. It was only ill-timed travel and reluctant financial interdependence that kept that soap opera on the air six-years too long. I had my sights set on a goal and a dream, and I had been willing to run over everyone and everything to get to it... even my own sanity.

Clearly, such an attitude doesn't work. People need to be accounted for, and I failed to do that. No, I'll be honest, I just didn't want to account for anyone else. And while I don't feel I have much to apologize for, I do apologize for that.

But I don't regret the lessons learned. Every mistake I've ever made brought me to the point I'm standing at now, and I must admit, I rather like the view.

Again, those who know me and know my writing the best already know what, and who, I'm heavily implying here. After all, they've all had to listen to my stories about how we first met years ago, and have all noticed a refreshed attitude and an ultimate desire sneaking its way into my writing, all the way back to "Just Scream." And as I am unabashedly blunt, I don't even care that everyone can see my cards on the table. Life's too short for things to be left unsaid.

Put simply, she was my motivation to break through that obstacle and is my motivation to get the Hell out of stagnant waters. Unfortunately, I've been around the block enough times to know that here is likely where our lives will once again diverge, and my only fear is that I'll never see her again. She's too smart and valuable to share such fear, but then, I doubt I ever crossed her mind as much as she crossed mine over the past 14 years. C'est la vie, and my karma isn't exactly deserving of something so wonderful at this moment in time.

She would say I'm being far too melodramatic, and perhaps I am, but I would warn her not to mistake me for my writing. I am subconsciously aware that she'll be breathing a sigh of relief once I ride off into the sunset again (though she's far too polite to say so), and I've been convinced for some time that a day on the beach was the end of any time together, but none of that really matters.

I got to see her again. Fuel enough for an everlasting smile.

"And the morning would be so cruel when it came,
with sunshine and warmth to blame,
for announcing the end of my sweet dream." - Greg Laswell

Lost In Transcription, Part I - Returning Home

Well, what a year this is. Not two months ago, I expressed the following sentiment: "Don't see myself going active ever again, however, as I really enjoy not wearing a uniform every day. Funerals got a bit too much to handle, too. No more combat arms for me." Funny, then, that I'm now in the process of going back in.

Lying to oneself is a familiar game, I suppose, and nobody who really knows me is surprised at all by the revelation. One of my closest friends likes to point out that I never should have gotten out, since my conscience doesn't handle "not being there" very well. But, seriously, how the Hell was I supposed to know that at the time? It's not like I had a wealth of experience to draw from prior to the first time I joined the military... which was pretty much straight out of high school.

I'm fairly amused by the reactions of friends and family alike. Many former Army supervisors and subordinates responded to the news with unexpected encouragement. I hesitate to claim that I was usually among the best at my job, but quite a few will claim that for me despite my personal misgivings. Still, I wasn't the best soldier as far as adhering to the system goes, and even I'm not so blasé as to not feel a bit flattered by the response.

Naturally, my film/TV industry buddies are against the idea, as are many of my writers. There are a few with the misconception that I'm some artistic talent going to waste, but, let's be real... have I really written or produced anything worth a shit? As far as my writers, yes, there has been quite a bit headway in getting them published, but I'm pretty sure their fear in my returning to uniform lies in the idea that I won't be able to edit and distribute their writing. Sure, I won't be doing it 24 hours a day, but I'll still be around. Red pen and harsh criticism shall be standing by, I assure you.

All that stated, even I'm a big flabbergasted by the relative abandon with which I'm once again pursuing a military career. I'm doing everything I can to clear waivers (I need one for my age... go figure... and one for my oft-broken foot) and am trying to shed as many emotional attachments to my civilian existence as possible. One thing I did know when I got out the Army the first time was that I don't suffer deployment well if my mind is elsewhere.

And therein exists the problem. I have five wonderful pets, and leaving them (even if temporarily) is going to suck. But some things must be done, however undesirable.

There I go again... lying to myself. I'll be able to handle the pets; I've done that before. It's the woman I've been waiting for my entire life that's fucking things up.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stardust

A slumbering impatience burns away as falling star touches the crown of the world. Light begins to scatter as an aimless journey finally reveals its destination. Joy gives way to melancholy as ground quickly approaches, bringing the realization that this view is being captured for the first and final time.

An all too brief glimpse of beauty, blue and white, as friction melts away fear. Her body, once an imposing reflection in the distance, now seems inviting... a fitting place to rest. There's a scream of triumph as youthful lust streaks through cloud, finally knowing what it means to fly.

The lives of others pass by as emotion and sensation, frozen for so long and long since forgotten, reawaken in time to enjoy falling in love. The impact will take but a mere moment, but it will be in her arms. The mystery of gravity finally solved.

Oh, what a view she was.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Countdown; Carpe Diem

Constant motion is a human necessity. Not quite like a shark's, but without motion, somebody's bound to take a shot at you. Then again, somebody's going to shoot at you anyway. Those little rubber noises flying past the ears are proof enough of that. People like to compare being still to being at peace, and what a load of shit that is. Being still is being dead, and there's clearly a bit of death in the act of waiting. But, like constant motion, constant interaction is a human necessity, and today's itinerary is dependent on what they do. So the clock is watched; the countdown is underway. Too bad no one knows when it's counting down to. It's just ticking.

Constant thought is a human condition. There's a thunderstorm in the mind, and it never stops raining. A single lightning strike can kill you, but a brain's series of electrical impulses can destroy an entire world. Ideas are the loneliest and deadliest of weapons, and dreams, the most subtle of triggers. People like to believe they're unique, and what a load of shit that is. Stereotypes and archetypes exist for a reason, and "you don't know me" is the biggest lie ever told. There's someone out there who sees things the way you do, and they are the objective. Hunters follow their tracks; snipers lie in wait. The sun may be setting, but there's no deadline. The clock keeps ticking.

Maybe you've met already; maybe you haven't. Perhaps you know what you're looking for, but maybe you're on a need-to-know basis and you don't need to know until she's staring you in the face. If you believe in signs, there will be one. If you don't, it'll just happen. Coincidence may just be coincidence, but the impatient will jump the gun. Coincidence may be more, but those who despise failure from experiencing it one too many times will clear the perimeter first. If it's right, there will be two left standing when the smoke clears.

The target will present itself eventually, never mind what time. Patience is the order of a lifetime. Humans have designed themselves to overcome instinct, so take advantage. The first opportunity may not be the best one. After all, she moves in mysterious ways. Prepare your action and give in to the moment when the moment is proper. The countdown continues to the instant when peripheral vision will not be necessary. Don't wait until you can see her; wait until you can smell her. You'll know when the clock is right, for motion and thought will blur into one. And when it does, don't hesitate. Seize the day.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Borne

It's never the ones you suspect, particularly in this game. Decades of Hollywood influence, leading everyone to believe in a false archetype. But the muscle-bound action stars are rare out here, notably absent in the presence of reluctant endurance runners. The young and deceptively terrified whose equipment often outweighs themselves. They're here for whatever reason, or no reason at all. Still, they're here.

That one, he's a former gang-banger who couldn't bear to look at a mother who could no longer bear to look at him. Another, a college dropout who couldn't afford to raise two children with his high school sweetheart. That group over there, raised by parents so poor, dinner sometimes had to be shared. The tall one? His brother killed the year prior, and a misguided taste of revenge lingered too long on his tongue. The short one followed in his father's footsteps... one last chance at making a neglectful parent somehow proud. And then there's the aimless, struggling for a sense of direction in a world unwilling to point the way.

They don't give a shit which one leans to the left, to the right, or who even gives a shit at all. So-and-so listens to bad music, what's-his-name watches too much porn, homeboy's so stupid he can't count to ten on his fingers. Rich kid drives a Porsche to work, poor kid stays in his room on the weekends. The ass-kisser just got another promotion. Is anybody surprised? The quiet professional just does his job, and doesn't care if anybody notices. But people do.

Fights are common, and cohesion only truly exists when there's a common enemy staring them in the face. Bar room brawls unify, the wives of others segregate. Nobody asks these kids what they want to do; they're told what they want to do, and they do it. Even if they don't like it. Some will leave soon, in search of greener pastures and bluer skies. Some will stay, the result of an overwhelming sense of home. Others stay because they have nowhere else to go, unwanted or unneeded in the world beyond.

They're all terrified. Some stare at the floor, only peripherally aware of their hand holding a static line. The bolder ones exchange glances and guarded smiles with each other, pretending the pain in their shoulders from clumsy parachutes isn't really pain. Those raised by religious pray. Some atheists do, too. Covering your ass means covering all your bases. The mathematical minds calculate their cumulative odds of dying and the flippant just want it over with so they can finally take a shit. The most fearful secretly hope that the aircraft doors malfunction or the weather gets too bad for the mission to proceed further.

Burdened with heavy weapons and other equipment, they all think they know how they got here, but none of them really do. They all hate each other, really, but in this game, there's no one else to play with. Cowards all, but able to shut off fear completely for a brief moment as their feet touch the sky. Afterward, realizations will hit that going to college or working for dad isn't such a bad proposition. Or perhaps they'll finally know that they were, in fact, meant to fly.

Who are they? Nobody all that important, I guess.

Just boys chasing the wind.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Kiss by Extension

His hands move slowly, aware of her heightened sensitivities. Lips place themselves against lips, resistant at first, but gradually relaxing. There's a hint that he's tasting her, though she's not quite ready to return the sensation. A tongue rolls gently in circular motion, offering subdued exhilaration in its attempt to encourage. He wants more, but she's unsure.

Her breath is erratic and a gasp further elicits his arousal. She wants time to inhale, exhale, but he will not give it to her. Hands begin to wander, aimlessly, but with determined purpose. Her back arches and her body stretches out... he enjoys the scent of hair as oxygen is temporarily displaced by lust.

This could be a dream, but it's very real. He briefly considers a gentle bite, but decides against it. Complete trust has yet to be earned. She moans as his lips make a promise to return. Her emotions are raw before him, and he wants to see them. Another moan signals an impatience, and he keeps his promise.

He caresses the length of her legs and becomes subtly aware of feet curling in ecstasy. She quivers. The thought occurs to him that her strong thighs, warm as they are against his neck, could easily kill him. But such a threat is hardly enough to stop the kiss.

When she can take no more, he glides across her torso and whispers something that makes her smile. Sliding into one, she's finally ready. His mouth is familiar, but the taste is different. His lips taste of woman, of herself, a burning confusion fueled by the fade from paramour into lover.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Piano

"Sit. And think." - Auguste Rodin

So sit and think
imagine voices, once calm and strong
but for now just calm
forgotten history fading into mechanical choir
the keys are there
turn them, tune them
open the door and play
say what wants to be said through the confident tapping of fingers
and wrists willing to adapt
in the absence of direction, follow the song
derailed train of thought righted by the composition of another
in a moment that is completely yours
confidence crescendos
and little is as satisfying as something new
even off key, the song remains subjective
perfect in the mind of performer
a ballet of fingertips on floors of ebony and ivory
a canvas of eighty-eight colors
art and life confused by their own reflections
but the melody continues
and though the right hand leads the way
there's harmony in the left
a life of violent quiet can't help but enjoy the sound
in the dark, fingers don't mind
in this moment, it's just you and the piano
lingering notes soon overshadowed by deafening silence



I'm in a mood. Sue me. And, no, Rodin said no such thing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Time, Not Place

If you would, accept a little cliche and imagine your lifetime as a single day. Naturally, dawn would signify the beginning of it all, the confused wonder of seeing and doing things for the first time. First steps, first kisses, first mud pies. It is the morning that teaches you fear and pain, not the evening. Dogs have sharp teeth, the stove will burn you, falling leads to bruises and broken bones. If you haven't learned those lessons before the sun starts baking you from overhead, you're in for a world of hurt.

For most, these early morning hours signify home. Perhaps not a home to be loved, but a home nonetheless. Significant moments creating significant memories, to be forgotten, of course. But all part of the blueprint of your foundation. For most, home as a place will change from time to time, but home as a time will survive the movement from place to place.

As the world turns, life is learned how to be lived. Loves are found, lost, and found once more. The previous lessons of fear and pain help keep you alive. If you're lucky, those lessons help you feel alive. Humanity is the only species capable of challenging itself, and the realization that most refuse to take advantage of that is a little sad. The clock keeps ticking, and too many are wasting time.

In the afternoon you may find you've become your parents. Or you may find you've shed their walls and are something else entirely. Brothers and sisters may no longer share the same blood, but are closer than any family you've ever had. Then again, blood may have prevailed, and home is as familiar as it's ever been. Either way, it's not the edifice that provides comfort, it's the aesthetic. To each their own, it's said, and to their own something to smile about.

Evenings come too soon, whether or not you prefer the moonlight. Sunset has no patience and always comes, once bright light fading behind a horizon of endless horizon. There will be a new day tomorrow, a pity it's not for you. The sun may never set on empire, but reigns are temporary. Stories are shared around campfire for a reason.

Childhood seems unnaturally long when a child, and unnaturally short when an adult. Deliberate ticks signaling the passing of a monumental existence later realized to be a mere blink of an eye. The worst of enemies never reveal their true natures until it's too late, and time reveals itself only to the dying. The clock struck home, but that was hours ago. It's time to sleep.

No worries. The sunrise will greet you in the morning. Whether or not it lights the way home is another matter entirely.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reflections on Chapter One

This book is pretty wild, no? The one called Life, I'm talking about. I'm sitting here rereading many of my old ramblings and realizing that I'm reading about a different person. Strange...

A lot of people subscribe to the philosophy that writers should write for themselves. Yeah, fine. Nothing bad can be said about seeing it that way, but that's not what I do. I don't just write for others, I write at others. Or, at the very least, try to. We can avoid the argument about whether I'm successful or not for the time being.

But I do write at people. I'm finding several entries in which I'm being seriously dishonest (read: outright lying) about someone or something for the sole purpose of eliciting a response. Hell, there are a few cases where I use one thing just to piss off another. To be frank, I find those entries rather embarrassing, but at least I know which ones are true and which ones aren't. Several aren't total deceptions, merely partial ones meant to get someone overly nosy off of the trail I left. Though still embarrassing, I find those a bit hilarious, and take joy in my subjective cleverness, but again... I know which are true and which aren't. Can't say my readers do. Not without asking, anyway.

Of course, as most know (or will learn), being dishonest gets rather tiring. My writing has opened up as of late... since early June, I guess... and is definitely as honest as I've ever been. Maybe that's part of the reason I'm always awake: I no longer exhaust myself by maintaining deceptions. Seriously, I'm even having problems writing fiction, strictly for the fact that I know it's not true. Such a reaction is probably overkill, but I'm sure a few of you know what I'm talking about.

I've been scolded in the past for being "too honest" (usually by liars themselves), and so what? I'd rather be known for having secrets than for telling lies. And I have few secrets left, anyway. Why bother? Too many people seem to think their secrets are more important than they actually are and waste precious energy trying to cover them up with lies. Trust me, most of us don't give a fuck, and we're certainly not impressed. Hell, the more I go back and reread my own work, the less impressed I get.

Still, it's interesting to at least see my states of mind at given points of time. When reading a rant, rave, a lie, or a truth, I can remember where I was and what I really wanted to say, if even it was effectively left unsaid. Hidden messages for myself, in some sense. Perhaps I wasn't writing at others, after all. Who knows?

This book's been crazy, that's for sure. It's time for a new chapter... a reboot, in current hip Hollywood parlance. And despite all of chapter one's shortcomings, I can take heart in that I've never settled for second best. Almost did a few times... but never did. I've never followed anyone blindly, never copied anyone knowingly, made all of my own decisions and all of my own mistakes. And I've certainly never been been so dependent on others that I had to dupe a backup into waiting pathetically in the wings, just in case things didn't work out.

Still, I've definitely fucked up over the years. This chapter's ending pretty much how it began, save for a protagonist slightly wiser. Lessons have been learned. Time to turn the page. Maybe I will write this next one for myself.

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...