Friday, October 29, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday, A Halloween Special: When Pax...

When Pax's left arm fell off, he didn't say anything.  It was no big deal, really.  He didn't use it very much to begin with, so the action was no different than getting stung by a bee or stubbing your toe: annoying, painful, but temporary.  He was right handed, so what did it matter?

When Pax's toes turned dark purple he barely even noticed.  One day, after removing his socks, he saw his normal pale feet with accompanying pale toes were now normal pale feet and purple toes.  "Maybe some grape jelly made it's way into my shoes," he said, shrugging it off.  And when, after his bath, his toes remained purple, he embraced his new toes, wishing his old ones all the best.

When Pax grew a third ear, right out the back of his head, he thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Plus, it came out already pierced with a sweet diamond stud in it, which he sold and took the money to the comic book shop and wasted it all on cheap back issues.  People stared, but he knew they were only staring out of jealousy.

When Pax's lips sealed shut he was in the middle of a presentation for Mr. Groban's class.  "And that's why thmm m mmmm m mmmmhh mhhhmm hmhmh."  He kept on going, through the cries and omgs, until he finished.  "Mmmh mmhh."  He took a seat, beaming.  He'd remembered every single word!

And when Pax's heart stopped beating, when the tiny drummer inside retired his sticks and said "That's all I got," Pax nodded in understanding.  That was all he had, too.  When the song's over, it's over.

Pax Revelet was buried in Middlesboro Cemetery.  The gnome that stole his arm dropped it in the grave with a tear.  The ghost that painted his toes threw a flower in the hole.  The ear fairy that sprinkled the fae dust on his head at night and watered his ears dropped her pail and spade in the pit.  The witch that sealed his lips, Jenny Ray, who was only trying to flirt with him in class, sobbed loudly at the graveside.  Pax Revelet was a boy beloved of many and cherished by all, and his incredible story is something to remember this Halloween Time.

Word Count: 394

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Status: Rejected (Again)

Like the first rejection, my short story "The Bombing of Morrta" has been rejected again.  This letter was nice, though.

Dear Logan,

Thank for submitting "The Bombing of Morrta" to Abyss & Apex.  I found the story engaging and well written, but unfortunately we are going to pass.

Best of luck in placing your story elsewhere.

We really do appreciate you letting us see your work.

Kind regards,

Oliver Waite
Assistant Editor
Abyss & Apex

Hey, at least they found it "engaging" and "well-written."  Sigh.  Now, off to submit again, I suppose.  Why not?


Bits & Pieces

  • Only about 150 pages or so left of The Passage.  This book has been quite enjoyable, just long, with lots of words per page, too.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers are so hit and miss.  Sufjan Stevens is mostly hit.  Tim McGraw is always miss.
  • I miss Lost.
  • For some reason, The Passage has been taking precedence over New Vegas, but not for much longer.
  • Recent acquisition: The Long Price Quartet Book One (A Shadow in Summer) and Book Two (A Betrayal in Winter).  I’m looking forward to diving into this highly acclaimed series early next year, methinks.
  • Gotta spend $1.87 at Borders before 10/31 and I’ll become a Borders Gold Member.  Not sure what that means, but I’m gonna be making a trip to the bookstore tomorrow!
  • Check out Mattson Tomlin’s newest Kickstarter project, “Dream Lover,” and donate a dollar while you’re there. 
  • I found this new (well, new to me) Star Wars satire web comic called “Blue Milk Special.”  I’ve cracked up more than a few times.  Check it out here


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing Wednesdays: The Reformed 1.6

Part Seven of "The Reformed."  If you missed any, click here.  And thanks for reading!

February 24, 2020
If all went to plan, today would mark the first day of Sienne’s rebirth.  After all the tests--the painful experimentation, the confusing sessions with Dr. Andrews, the blackouts, the invading electric currents--the end was near.  Today she would be freed.
They would take her black and ruined soul away and replace it with a new one.  The bottomless pit in her stomach would be sealed, ending her unholy appetites, and she would be allowed access to the city.  She wasn’t sure how long it had been since she’d last been outdoors.
A knock at the door turned her attention from the barred window.  She had a memory of guards rushing through the door to her cell, blaring their sonic guns and chaining her to the ground.  So much had changed.
Two armored soldiers walked in, followed by Dr. Couric.  The flesh scent filled the room, but the urge to feast was gone.  Deep down she suspected she’d like to, but she was no longer slave to base instincts.
“Good morning Dr. Couric,” Sienne said, turning her back to the guards.  The men moved in unison, strapping the shackles to her arms and legs.
“Good morning to you, Sienne.  Did you sleep well?”
Flashes of chaos, bodies pressing together.  Screams of pain and terror.  Teeth gnashing, ripping through meat and bone.  A garden of utter delights.  And then the darkness moved in without warning.  She was suddenly sickened by what she was doing.  Crying, bleeding bodies around her, all in different stages of death.  She had feasted on each one.  She vomited and the darkness intensified, smothering her.  Two small children, one male, one female, and an older human male talking and laughing in a beautiful house.  She was with them, laughing and beautiful.  Before she could stop herself she...  She could not remember.  More blood.  More darkness.
Sienne shook her head.  “No.  More dreams, like the ones I’ve told Dr. Andrews about.”
“I’m sorry.  Maybe the procedure will fix those too.  Who knows?”
“Yeah.”  She hoped so.
They took the stairs down to the sub-levels, one guard in front, followed by Sienne, then the other guard.  Dr. Couric brought up the rear.  As they descended, the pungent smell of the deceased grew stronger.  They were near the holding cells of the others.  The zetas.  She thought she could hear them moaning below, loudly monotonous in their confinement.  They stopped outside S-2 and waited for Dr. Couric to scan his identification badge.
Once they were through the door all traces of the monsters outside faded.  The floor was cluttered with machines.  Plastic casings all about.  Glossy monitor screens broken and dented.  Sienne was wary of the shattered glassware scattered everywhere.  There appeared to be a winding trail through the mess, leading off across the room to an unmarked door.
“Sienne,” began Dr. Couric, “once we get inside I’m going to need you to sit on the bed and relax.  Dr. Andrews will be waiting for us.  The procedure should be relatively short and simple.  Just a shot and that should do it.”
Why are we doing it down here then?  I could’ve got a shot in my room.  Dr. Couric scanned his badge again, a light flashed green, and they walked in.
Dr. Andrews was scribbling on a clipboard.  She looked exhausted.  Her eyes had deep shadows and her hair was messy, but the woman smiled when she saw them.  “Hello Sienne.  Are you excited?”
“Yes,” she said, sitting on the bed.  The guards took their places near the door.  “Though I am a little nervous.  Will it hurt?”
Dr. Andrew shrugged.  “We’re not sure.  I wouldn’t think it would hurt any more than any other shot.”
Sienne watched Dr. Couric open the fridge.  He pulled out a small box and moved beside Dr. Andrews.
“We believe this is the one, Sienne,” said Dr. Andrews looking at the box.  “Dr. Couric and I have been working with several samples from the zetas, trying to unravel the cause for the disease and then stopping it.  We thought the mixture that gave you feeling again would eradicate the infection, but it only made you vulnerable.  These past few months, everything you’ve gone through gave us insight to your biology.  We now think that the changing is not a simple antidote, but a process of reformation.  Without the process, and all the tests, I don’t think we would’ve been able to create this.  Sienne, without you, there would be no hope for the zetas, and I just want to say thank you for working with us.”
Dr. Couric had withdrawn a syringe from the box and was now standing beside her.  She could smell the sweet taste of flesh on him.  Her heart was beating quickly and she did not know why.  The prey was trying to help her, what did she have to be nervous about?
“Let’s hope this works,” Dr. Andrews said, moving near Sienne.  She felt a tiny prick in her neck.  She felt the same.  No different than she had seconds ago.
The doctors were looking with raised eyebrows.  “I don’t think it--”  The rest was lost in her screaming.

Sienne remembered everything.  She remembered her life before changing into the zeta.  She was relatively young.  Married.  A mother.  She worked from home, selling insurance.  She belonged to a Baptist church.  She had a dog named Beano.  She lived in a modest two-story house in a suburb outside St. Louis.  She drove a silver Toyota.  
She remembered watching the news, scared for her family.  For her country.  Something was going on in East Asia.  Then reports of bombings across the States and people changing into ravenous monsters.  The nation was in turmoil.
She remembered transforming.  Turning into something hideous and hungry.  She remembered...  Oh God.  Nick.  She’d killed him first, tearing out his entrails with her teeth.  Gorging herself on him, unable to stop, despite his pleas.  Lapping up his spilled blood like a dog.  And then the children...
She became aware of the gyroscope’s song, singing its soothing tune above the horrors of her mind.  She focused on the melody, letting it pull her up and away from the darkness of her mind.  Soon the humming of the gyroscope was all that mattered.  Images of gore threatened to break the reverie, but the song’s spell kept them out.
Her eyes flew open.  Dr. Andrews was leaning in front of her, hands resting on her shoulder.  Concern filled her eyes.  
“Sienne!  Are you okay?  What happened?”  Her voice was shaky.
“Did it work?” asked Dr. Couric.
“Grant!  Not now.  Something’s wrong.  Sienne, honey, what happened?”
“I killed them,” she said, tears falling.  “I killed them all.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Initial Thoughts on Fallout New Vegas

Fallout 3 is one of the greatest games I've ever played.  I put in around a hundred hours without any DLC on William's PS3 (this was 'ere I owned a PS3), and I never grew tired of exploring the Wastes.  Then I bought a PS3, lost all of my trophies, and lost the free time college afforded.  But when I heard New Vegas was coming out, I knew I'd be getting on the post-apocalyptic train again.

New Vegas is essentially one gigantic expansion to Fallout 3.  Graphically, the games look almost identical, with the newer release having slightly better graphics with the environments.  The story has so far been very interesting, but I've barely done anything related to propelling the plot, instead focusing on the enormous landscapes ripe with unexplored territories.  Fallout New Vegas is so far a beautiful game that's offered the same fun-factor its spiritual predecessor did.  If you loved the retro music from Galaxy News Radio and Three Dog, then you'll also love the new tunes of New Vegas.  There are a few new additions, like gambling, factions, a traveling card game called Caravan, and lots of weapon customization, but mostly, if it was in Fallout 3, it's in New Vegas.

Some have expressed issues with the game glitching worse than Fallout 3, but so far I've not experienced this.  (I think I only had one problem with Fallout 3 glitching on me and that was it.)  I believe the glitch problem is more for the 360 and PC, but I'm not sure.

Already I find my mind roaming back to the harsh Mojave wastelands, aching to see what else I can find.  If you loved Fallout 3, then there's no question that you'll like New Vegas.  The "new game" price tag may be a little steep for the lack of innovation, but I happily paid it anyway, knowing that I would easily get my $60 worth of enjoyment.  Now, back to the screen!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm Going To Be A Daddy

In case the post title doesn't make it perfectly clear, I am going to become a father.  We found out last Monday that Keisha was pregnant, and then on Thursday we found out that she was already eight weeks along, very much to our surprise.  We decided that we were going to have a baby, but man, we didn't realize it would happen so quickly.

Elated.  Nervous.  Thrilled.  We've both been through several different emotions, but chief among them is pure joy.  We're excited.  So, over the next seven months or so, Rememorandom will likely have some new post topics, cause I know next to nothing about babies.  Who knows, maybe I'll even review some pregnancy books...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Great Smoky Mountain Trip

*There are 74 photos, including Creepy Pedo-looking Logan, Beautiful Mountain panoramas, Young Love, Puppies, and Other Things.

I've been to the Smoky Mountains a handful of times.  Gatlinburg, its majestic strip plagued with ho-hum shopping and tourist vendors and more than a few museums.  Pigeon Forge is like a fraternal brother, just more sprawled out and more food.  These two cities are swamped year-round as people flock to the Great Smokies in search of beautiful nature, rustic arts, class-act entertainment, expensive dining, candies and taffy, and cheap souvenirs.  This year, I re-joined the rat race.

Keisha and I have never been on a vacation with extended family, and we thought that we should try it out.  We took care of planning everything, booking the cabin, reserving our tickets, and everyone else would just reimburse us.  So come Thursday morning, we loaded up two vehicles and hit the road.
We entered the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a little after lunch time.  We pulled off to the side of the road near the Pigeon River and had cold cuts and snacks.  We then spent the rest of the afternoon meandering along the river banks.  At one spot we collected two socks full of hickory nuts (we didn't have any other handy container (pun intended)).  The water was cold, but the scenery beautiful.  Eventually we made it to the city and got our cabin info.

The road up to the cabin started off mildly steep, but nothing my 05 Corolla couldn't handle.  Each turn brought a change of grade, and by the last, the road was extremely inclined.  I've never driven on a road this steep, but I pressed on (what other choice did I have?), tires spinning, brakes grinding.  The cabin was worth it.  Sleeping ten, offering a hot tub and two king size beds, a pool table and a fireplace, the place was very nice.  And, since there were eight of us, it only wound up being around $49 per couple per night, which is much, much cheaper than any hotel rate.

The rest of Thursday was spent resting and driving around the Pigeon Forge strip.  We bought some breakfast groceries and headed back to the cabin in the late night.  Friday morning, Keisha and I made everyone breakfast, frying bacon, eggs, and toast.  The plan for Friday was to spend all day in Gatlinburg and then be back in Pigeon Forge by 4:00 for our Dixie Stampede reservations.  The Craftsmen Fair was going on in Gatlinburg, and Keisha and I love looking at all the handmade items, getting ideas for making things ourselves or buying gifts.  We also got another caricature drawn, and as it so happened, by the same person that drew our first one a few years ago.

The Dixie Stampede always offers plenty of fun, an amazing feast, and a good experience.  Last time I went, Keisha and I got selected out of the audience to participate in one of the games.  This time, I got picked again, and I faced off mano y mano in a game of horseshoes with 1500 people or so watching.  However, instead of actual horseshoes, we threw toilet seats.  Sadly, I lost, but it was fun getting picked.  Afterward, we picked up some more breakfast foods and headed back up the mountain.

Saturday morning we made sausage, biscuits, and gravy for everyone.  Once finished, we loaded up the rides and headed out for a two hour, winding mountainous drive.  Destination: Maggie Valley, NC.  The roads were cluttered with look-out points to stop and enjoy the view.  Traffic was slow and congested, but we eventually made it.  We spent time at another craftsmen fair, and then some candy stores and other tourist traps.  I bought a peck of apples on the cheap and have lots of varieties to enjoy for the next several days.  We stopped at Cherokee, NC, and had a picnic in some gnat-infested park.

The drive back was awful.  It took much longer as traffic was bumper to bumper.  We stopped at a few vistas and got some great pictures.  Then we headed to Pigeon Forge and stopped at a little mall, killing time before the Comedy Barn reservations.  Travis (Keisha's younger brother, but not youngest) actually got selected out of the audience here and he went on stage for the finale.  My head was throbbing from laughing so hard and lacking oxygen, but it was definitely worth it.  If you've never been to the Comedy Barn, go go go if you ever get the chance. 

Sunday we had to be out of the cabin by 10 and I was wanting to eat at a pancake house.  We checked out and had a delicious breakfast.  Then the vehicles split up, mine heading off to the outlet mall, the other heading back home.  I finally found me some new tennis shoes (so did Keisha, among many other things) and we eventually headed home.  Home to mamaw's to pick up our waiting, furry pups.

Overall, the trip was fun albeit busy and tiring.  I didn't get much reading in at all, though I really wanted to.  I didn't much sleep either, though I don't go on vacation to sleep.  Traveling with the in-laws was enjoyable.  There wasn't too much drama and I think everyone had a good time.  I can't speak for them, but I did.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writing Wednesdays: The Reformed 1.5

Sorry for the delay between posts for the story.  The previous five parts are available here.  In quick summary, Sienne, a zeta, has been captured and experimented on.  Meanwhile (though not literally on the same time scale), Kent Andrews has different views on Reformation than his wife, Dr. Chloe Andrews.  Thanks for reading.

June 10, 2021
Kallie’d be proud.  Or something like that.  Those were the last words he’d spoken to Chloe.  Almost two months ago, right after she found out about his afternoon excursions.  He’d been pushing his time later and later, knowing one day he’d be discovered.  Deep down, he wanted her to know what he was doing.
    “I can’t believe you would do that, Kenneth.  Those things are people for Christ’s sakes, not some game sport.  Have you not listened to any of the confessions from the betas?”
    “Yeah, I’ve listened, and that convinces me even more.  They’re not people,” he’d said.  “They’re monsters and they deserve to die.  Look around.  Look at the mess they’ve caused.  Don’t you remember the world before they came?”
    “Of course I remember, but that’s not the point.  Despite what you think they’re still humans.  The things my patients tell me.  They don’t comprehend what they’re doing.  They’re just sick, but the beta-ion solution reverses the disease.  It changes them back to what they were.  It’s not their fault they got infected.”
    “It’s their fault that she’s dead.”  Chloe’s mouth hung open in hurt.  “And here you are trying to help the very things that killed our daughter.  Well congratulations Dr. Andrews.  You’ve helped change the world.  Kallie’d be proud.”
    She slammed the door in his face.  He packed a few essentials and left and hadn’t seen her since.  But here he was, standing in the deep shadows of dusk in front of his apartment door.  Some part of him wanted to go in and let her know that he was leaving town, that he probably wouldn’t make it back alive.  He wanted to apologize one last time for losing Kallie to the horde.  But he wanted her apology, too.  He wanted her to be sorry for helping the monsters, for changing them.  He knew it would never happen, just like he would never change his opinion on the matter.
    He pulled out the letter he’d written, kissed the paper, and slid it under the door.
    “Good luck, Chloe,” he said, barely a whisper.  And then he was gone.

    “So.  Where we headed first?”  
    Kent stared at the boy like he’d lost his mind.  They hadn’t been on the road half an hour and already he was getting annoyed.  What did he expect, travelling with a boy just out of his teen years?  “You know where we’re going, Michael.”
    “I told you it’s Mercury now.  Michael was pre-zetas.”
    Kent rolled his eyes.  “Whatever.”
    They were moving down the highway, south on rural roads that lacked the mounds of abandoned vehicles major roads were littered with.  He knew that some CRC jobs involved cleaning up the highways, creating routes for trade between other known city-states, but he didn’t know how much clean up had been done.  The closest known refuge, the Omaha Reserve, took less than a day of travel, north until I-80, then it was a straight shot.  Farther away was the haven in Louisville, right on the Ohio River.  Neo Louisville, some called it.
    Kent hadn’t been to Louisville in a long time.  A junior in college at the time, he and some friends decided to drive to Churchill Downs and watch the Derby.  What was the horses name that won?  Big Brown?  The Downs was packed with its usual celebrities and race enthusiasts.  A festive air buzzed all throughout the track and grounds, charging everyone with wild energy.  Or maybe it was the mint juleps.  Kent stood down in the infield and watched the races with half-a-care.  He was more interested in the redheaded sophomore that had been flirting with him on the drive down.  Chloe.
    “Look man.  I know this ain’t no picnic for you.  My dad’s a pretty tough guy to work for, so I understand your reluctance.  But I’m not my dad.  I’m Mercury Clark, and I’m just trying to make this trip as painless as possible.”
    Kent weighed the words.  Maybe he had been too hard on the boy.  It wasn’t his fault that he got the sharp end of Kent’s jaded attitude.  “Alright, Mercury.  Fine.  But you’ve got to listen to everything I say.  You got that?”
    The kid’s eyes widened.  “Yeah, no problem.”
    “I mean it.  Out here, it’s not like it was back in the Hub.  We’re never safe.  There’s no fortifications or military to take care of the zetas.  It’s just you and me and whatever we have at our disposal.  Have you ever even seen one of them up close?”
    “Not really.  Just through the fences when they wander too close.  I’ve seen plenty betas, though.”
    Kent snorted.  “Betas are nothing like the wild ones.  Betas may still look like ‘em, but they don’t lunge for your throat and the taste of warm blood.  They don’t catch a whiff of flesh and follow you until one of you is dead.  Zetas are dangerous, kid.  They’ll kill you before you even know what’s happening, if you’re lucky.”
    He was talking like he had experience.  Like he spent more time outside the walls than within.  True, he had logged plenty of time hunting, hours up in trees or building snares or laying traps.  But distance-wise, he’d never been more than a few miles away from the walls at any time.  This was as new to him as it was for Michael.  No.  Mercury.
    The spare tank of gas sitting in the back floorboard was giving him a headache.  The windows were all down, but the odor still clung to the interior.  In the early summer humidity, the fumes were thick and heavy, clinging to the seat covers like dew on morning grass. 
     He scanned the sides of the road.  If not for the discarded vehicles, the wide-open doors, the broken windows, the lack of movement, everything would look almost normal.  But it wasn’t.  It was as far from normal as Kent could imagine.
     A flicker ahead caught his eyes.  Walking slowly down the sidewalk of whatever podunk town they were in (Grafton?) was a zeta.  Alone and oblivious, the thing moved at a pace slower than a crawl.
     An idea began creeping its way in.  Kent dropped his speed.
     “Look up ahead,” he said, nodding off to the right.  His voice was a whisper.
     Mercury squinted.  Gasped.  “It’s...”
     “Shh!  I know what it is!  But you’ve never seen one, a real one, so I thought we could get you some real life experience.”
     Kent couldn’t tell if the kid’s face was terrified or excited.  He licked his lips.  “Okay.  What do I need to do?”
     “I’ll show you,” he said, his appetite whetted.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things About Logan (Part 4)

Wherein the continuing saga of personal revelations are brought to light.  Links for the previous editions are at the bottom.

a.  Lots of new music have I received lately, through either purchase or trade, including, but not limited to, Bright Eyes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Damien Rice, Cold War Kids, Arcade Fire, Ryan Adams, Hanson, Monsters of Folk, Andrew Peterson, John Mark McMillan, Luke Dowler, and a few others. 
b.  I bought Fallout: New Vegas today.
c.  My yard is getting aerated and seeded on Thursday.  I know very little about lawn care.
d.  I sometimes wonder about other bloggers that are no longer active and wonder what happened to them.  Did they tire of the blogosphere?  I hope they're okay.
e.  Peter said to Paul you know all those songs we wrote... 
f.  My head pastor resigned on Sunday.  The church is in for an interesting few months as we work through everything.
g.  I wrote a new song yesterday.  Maybe I'll put it up here when I get it recorded. 
h.  I'm watching (and even enjoying) Glee.  I'm not sure why.
i.  I sliced into my thumb yesterday while chopping potatoes.  On the bright side, this recipe for zuppa toscano soup tasted exactly like Olive Garden's.
j.  I really want to retry the Wheel of Time series again.  I love the new ebook covers, and all the hype for the next book is making me excited.
j.5.  ...are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go...
k.  Stella & Sofie may both have ear mites.  Ugh.
l.  Going to a Halloween party Saturday.  Got a beautiful costume planned.  Expect pictures.  Maybe.
o.  Uncertainty, especially in important things, like design work for a project, is a difficult thing to deal with.  I'm not sure how confident I am in some of my work, partially because I've only had my job for 17 months, partially because everything I've done has been self-taught, and partially because engineering requires educated guesses.
oo.  ...Now talking to God is Laurel begging Hardy for a gun...
g2.  It's hard to believe that something like the narwhal actually exists.
a1.  Just about everything I eat kills my stomach.
p.  The del sol is giving me a little trouble.  I think it's the starter, but, like with lawn work, I know very little about vehicles.
q.  Going through the book of Matthew in Sunday School has been really great.  We're progressing only a few verses per week because of the awesome discussions.
w.  One new blog I've been reading:  OmphaloskepsisInteresting book notes there. 
24.  It's really hard to beat Bruce Springsteen.  I'd love to see the Boss in concert...
y.  I miss college.  Too bad I can't make money as a professional student.
zRED looks like a pretty sweet movie.  So does Hereafter.
(z.)   Fall is still my favorite season.
[z.]  ...I've got a girl in the war man I wonder what it is we've done.
*.  I come to complete stops at STOP signs; I use my turn signals; I don't speed like crazy; it irks me to see people doing otherwise.
&.  My ipod is near capacity full.  This is going to be problematic sometime relatively soon. 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Monday, October 18, 2010

I Am Returned

My trip to and through the Smoky Mountains is over.  I returned last night.  Now I'm a little sore, very tired, and in for a busy week.  Lots to do at work, and plenty to do at home, too.  Plus, Fallout: New Vegas comes out tomorrow.  And I didn't get much reading time at all, so there's a big chunk of The Passage to get through, too.

I've got plenty of pictures of fall foliage from the trip, and a recap to summarize the vacation, coming up hopefully by week's end.

Until then...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Strange, Rare, and Horribly Wonderful Discovery With a Side of Self-Delusion: A Discourse on the Worth of Meaningless Prose and Forsaken Projects

A week or two ago I decided to clean out my garage.  I waded through totes of rubbish, discarding much.  A few boxes contained things from when I was young lad.  Three yo-yos, still strangely cool.  A tin of ARMY paint.  A plastic recorder.  One well-worn Rubik's cube (that I learned to solve as a freshman in college, though I no longer remember how).  Lots of drawings and super hero cards and drawings of super heroes.  A stack of old writings, from items in my high school portfolio to obscure poetry to absurd fiction.  And, among other things, a box of 3.5" floppy disks.  (FN1)

My computer at work is possibly one of the last one's remaining on the Earth that has a floppy drive still in it.  Back in high school, I thought floppies were super cool.  Cool enough that this box had several floppies in it, and I had no clue what I would find.  So I brought the disks to work and popped them in.  After some system groaning, things finally started working.

Half of them were blank.  One or two had files but would not let me open them.  And then two had some old writings of mine.  Old, as in, from when I was an early teenager old.  Back in eighth grade (I think, give or take a grade) I started writing my first novel.  I pecked out line after line of purely awesome and original fantasy.  The world was not ready for the brilliance of my work.  And so I wrote and wrote, drawing up maps and casting character after character.  My story had unexplainable but logical magic and a magic sword and a simple farmboy and a princess and a Dark Lord (who was actually called Dark Lord), and many other totally original things.  And then one day I ran out of time and forgot about the story.

This story was on the floppy.  It's over 80,000 words.  I called it The Legend of Eli.  I read a few paragraphs and cringed at nearly every word.  How could I, Master of Originality and Wielder of Words, create such trite garbage?  I want to print it out and read through it all, just to see what the heck kind of story I did.  I vaguely remember pieces of what it was about, but very little.  I know it's got plot holes galore, I remember having that problem. 

The sad thing is this story is just one more notch on my very long belt of unfinished tales.  I'm not sure why I struggle to finish stories.  It's not that I don't enjoy writing them.  Lord knows I love to write.  Apparently I always have, evidenced by the stacks of old writings I've found.  (FN2)  And if I didn't love to write, then I wouldn't do it.  It doesn't matter if I'm writing a song or a blog post, there's just something about the way putting words out there makes me feel.  Sure, my true love is fiction, but it's also my bane.

I like to blame it on too much creativity.  My mind is always thinking about the next world to create.  What kind of people will it have?  Or what will the environment look like for these folks?  Once I progress so far, it's like I've got to put to paper (FN3) the tale before I forget it, and then when I start jotting the ideas down, I instead jump ship and explore new waters more.  Am I simple minded?  ADHD?  I don't know, but I don't think I am.

Maybe I get lost in my story.  Perhaps I know where I'm at and where I want to go, but know that I want to explore more before I get there.  If this is the case, then I need to simply tighten up my focus and press on.  No one wants to read a sprawling epic that dawdles for too long before actually doing anything.

Looking back at most of my writings, it's rare to find an actual complete tale.  Do I struggle with the endgame?  Yes, but no.  I struggle to even make it to the end.  The biggest culprit is, of course, the lack of time, but that's used so often that it's a cliché that I can't put stock in.  If I love it, then I'll find time.  True.  But I don't.  For whatever reason, my stories peter out and sit alone on a shelf with the rest of forgotten lore.  They're not masterpieces, nor are they well written, but they're mine.  They're things I've invested time in, yet not enough.  What does it take to get me to finish one?

Somehow I still convince myself to keep writing.  This story will be different.  This one will end.  It will have closure.  I can hear my future self laughing back at my current self now.  (FN4)  Keep telling yourself that, Logan.  The writing machine keeps spinning yarns, but they always keep a-breakin'.  But maybe this time you just might do it.

It's enough to keep me trying.


FN1:  Disk is such an odd word.  I almost always use disc, but with a floppy, it seems like it's disk, with a K.  I'm not sure if there's really a difference in the English language.
FN2:  I must have always been odd.  Most of my stories are completely absurd, posing ridiculous situations or juxtaposing things that ought not be juxtaposed.
FN3:  Okay, I don't literally write on paper.  Most of my writing is done via Google Documents.  Rarely do I use paper and pen for writing, though there are extenuating circumstances.
FN4:  Like FN3, I can't literally hear this, though if I did I would be perplexed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Dresden Files: Fool Moon, a Review

Things have been rough for Chicago's only wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden. He's had very little opportunities for employment since the events in Storm Front took place, and for some reason Detective Karrin Murphy has made herself scarce, taking his largest source of income with her. But everything changes when some grisly murders are discovered. Murphy suspects supernatural forces and Harry Dresden is once again called upon.

Fool Moon, book two of The Dresden Files, is a lot like the first in the series. Harry is still a sarcastic, grumpy wizard that's got a golden heart. Magic runs rampant through the Chicago area, both light and dark. The book reads like another episode in the life of Harry Dresden, adding a little more characterization and background to the wizard and his ilk, plus throwing in a bit more world-building to boot.

The writing style is identical. We read the story from Harry's first-person limited POV with the benefit of hindsight. This works very well for most of the novel, but a few phrases lessen the effect of the story. For example, Harry may say something like "now, looking back on it..." That pretty much takes out the possibility of him dying, unless we discover Harry's been narrating as a ghost or something, which, I suppose could happen, but I don't think so. There are also a few instances where Harry will be talking directly to the reader, which also comes across as odd.

The plot of Fool Moon is pretty quick paced and action filled. Butcher's prose reads fluidly, and it's easy to keep turning pages to see what happens next. That said, I didn't enjoy this book near as much as I did Storm Front. I'm not sure if it was the conflict itself being merely mediocre or if it was something else. Still, the story book was fun and instilled in me the desire to read the next episode of The Dresden Files.

The real beauty of these books is the world-building. Harry's conversation with Bob, the wise spirit that's stuck inside a human skull, is revealing about the mechanics of the world. The hints of something larger going on. The ever-present background of the White Council and the mystery that permeates it. Butcher slowly reveals things about Dresden's universe, holding out the allure, and it works very well considering Dresden's nature.

In the end, Fool Moon has enough in it to make the book recommendable so long as you know what you're getting into. If you're expecting deep thoughts and philosophy, you'll be disappointed. This book is a fun romp in an urban fantasy setting with nothing too deep.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Funny Video and Some Other Things

This video is hilarious, and the song's not too bad, either.  It's by the guys that did the "Things You Can't Do When You're Not A Dog" video.  This one features Chris Tomlin.  Enjoy.

And if that's not enough, check out Jay's short story he's been adding up on Fridays.  Today is Part 2 of 5.  Both have been very entertaining.

And if that's not enough, check out a book of mathematics proofs from the library and dive into the deep complexities of understanding formulas and the like.  Just for fun, try proving the cross-sectional area of a circular pipe that's not quite full.

And if that's not enough, sell all your belongings and move to a monastery in Tibet.  Bring a telescope and set it up out in the middle of a big field at night, away from all artificial light, high up in the mountains, and stare out into the deep black of space.  Contemplate your existence while peering millions of miles away.

And if that's not enough, stay out there until daylight and look at the sun with your fancy telescope.  That'll surely be enough.

I'm ready for vacation... my brain's fried.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Few Timely Updates

It's been a while since I've posted anything personal about my life here on the blog.  Pretty much everything has been either a review or some of my writing.  As one of the purposes of Rememorandom is to chronicle my life, and considering the items on the following list, I think it's time for an update.

  • I will be leaving for a short vacation next week.  The wife and I, plus the In-Laws, are all heading down to the Smoky Mountains for a few days.  We've got a cabin reserved, and now that autumnal weather has finally arrived, it'll be a perfect and much-needed escape.  Hopefully I'll get in some heavy reading time.
  • I found out last week that I made an error at work a few months back.  This error is basically at the Step One level of my project, and everything that's done afterward (and based on said error) is also incorrect.  Because of that, I've been terribly busy, scrambling to correct my mistake and get this thing finished.
  • Netflix has got to be the coolest thing ever.  I'm not sure why it took me so long to sign up for it, but it's awesome.  Not only is every season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer available for Instant Streaming, but it's letting me catch up with other shows that I wanted to watch but never could (i.e. How I Met Your Mother.)
  • I bought Red Dead Redemption a few weeks ago, but have yet found time to play it.  My Dragon Age: Origins ground to a stop about the same time.  However, with Fallout: New Vegas soon to hit shelves, and my deposit already down, I'll be getting back into gaming relatively soon.
  • Keisha's been called to substitute teach for seven days in a row now, which is awesome.
  • I found out that, for some reason, I've not been paying property taxes.  My house was built in May 2009, and since taxes are assessed on January 1, my 09 taxes were on undeveloped land.  However, as of January 1 2010, the land was developed and, apparently, my escrow was supposed to have gone up.  As a new homeowner, as well as someone who is competent with money but doesn't necessarily understand insurance and taxes, this error went unnoticed until Sunday.  I'm not sure what's going to happen, and frankly I'm a little nervous, but I know it'll all work out.
  • Finally, I recorded a new cover that I'm mostly proud of.  You can watch it here or on the video below.

    I've not had time to really finish the planned next installment of my Writing Wednesday's The Reformed, but I've got a piece that should work for tomorrow.  Hopefully I can find time to finish the planned piece and post it up next week.

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    The Walking Dead, a (Partial) Review

     I say partial in that The Walking Dead is an on-going series, with twelve current trade paperback collections out and that I've only read nine of them as of yet.  With that, I'm really unsure how to go about reviewing what I've read up until now.  Should I review each TPB (as I have quasi-done over on my Goodreads site) individually or should I instead review the overall story as a whole?  If I choose the latter, how spoiler-free can I hope to remain?  Can I mention anything outside of Volume One and still remain spoiler-free?  I think so, but I won't do it.  I shall endeavor to avoid all things that reek of spoilers...

    I've long wanted to read Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.  Zombies have been a part of my life for nigh twenty years now, ever since my mom woke me up late one night to watch a scary movie with her cause she was scared.  The film, to my five year old eyes, was a strange black & white thing with weird, shambling people threatening a group of normal people.  Of course I'm talking about Night of the Living Dead.  Since then, I suppose, zombies have been a part of my life.

    Back a few years ago in college, when I was falling in love with graphic novels, I found out about The Walking Dead but I did not have the means to read it, nor did my library have any copies.  Now, after a recent trip to the library (and prompted with a reminder by the upcoming AMC series), I've found that the library has Volumes 1-12.  

    The Walking Dead is a story where zombies are relegated to mere background and scenery and the true action takes place with the survivors.  After officer Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to find a world destroyed and filled with slow-moving, undead things, he knows something terrible has happened.  He sets out to find his wife and son and, along the way, the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead comes to life.

    Characterization is the driving force behind this series.  The survivor's Rick finds along the way each tell a hauntingly similar story.  One day the world was overran by zombies and since then they've struggled to make it.  Food is scarce, as is shelter.  Survivor's are even harder to find.  The undead are everywhere, and in order to survive, one must be quick and resilient.  Indeed, the human drama is powerful story-telling, and Kirkman goes at it with an all-or-nothing approach.  (For example, by the end of Volume Nine, my emotions feel like they've been put through a meat grinder, followed by a wood chopper.  There's just so much going on.)

    Illustration is also another beautiful thing about The Walking Dead.  Volume One, Days Gone Bye, is illustrated by Tony Moore, and all issues after are by Charlie Adlard.  Everything is done in a black & white Romero-esqe style, and the lack of colors adds to the bleakness of the story.  The zombies also look very cool and unique, and I applaud the artistic choices of the series.

    At times hard to read, this series is very tragic and full of problems.  There are few scenes of happiness and joy.  Death is everywhere.  Uncertainty.  These things make for great story telling and character musing, though sometimes the musing is a bit absurd.

    Overall, I've really enjoyed reading Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead.  I'm glad to have finally read some of the series, and I hope the AMC version does it justice.  While many things are cliches, Kirkman also adds in enough originality to make the plot interesting.  The characters are memorable, the art is perfectly fitting, and the drama is high.  If you're a fan of zombie fiction, this is a must-read series.

    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Flash Fiction Friday: Waiting for the Rain: Or, Through a Season

    Irvin Stevens just wanted it to rain. One long, solid downpour that lasted all day. That’s it. He wasn’t asking for much, was he? The Lord had surely made it rain before, right? Looking out at the barren fields, Irvin wasn’t so sure. But if it didn’t rain soon, they weren’t gonna make it through the winter. That’s how he saw it.     
         No rain meant no crops. No crops meant no harvest. No harvest meant no money. And no money meant no heat.
         Plenty of heat now, though,” he said. “And not a cloud in the sky.”

    Lauren Mills moved to Texas to escape the gloominess of Seattle. It was dry, hot, and vast, and the move had been one of the best decisions she’d ever made. Everyone she knew and loved was back in Seattle, but so was everything she hated. She couldn’t stand being depressed anymore. She had to get out while she could.
         So she found a job in the Lone Star state, leased an apartment, and drove thirty-two hours to her new home. Right in the middle of the longest drought on record. Ninety-one days since the last rain, and no promise of any in the foreseeable future. She could stand another ninety-one days.

    It was like digging through concrete. It didn’t matter how sharp his shovel was if the ground was unyielding. A summer of no rain would do that to the earth. “If it would just rain,” Glenn grumbled, wiping the sweat from his brow. He’d been digging for a while now, and the hole was just barely big enough. The sun would be gone in less than an hour, taking all the remaining light with it. He looked at the body lying next to the mound of discarded dirt. She was a pretty thing. But they always were.
         He wrapped her in too-short linens, placed a kiss on her cold forehead, and rolled her into the pit. She twisted and landed face up, mouth flung open, purple hand-shaped bruises around her throat, barely visible in the late evening shadows. He picked up the shovel and started refilling the hole.

    He had a name, but it hadn’t been used in years. Nobody wanted to know a homeless man’s name, especially not one that looked as rough as he did. He fingered the hideous scar that ran down his face, born at the end of a madman’s blade. Scar, that’s what everybody called him now. He didn’t much care for the name, but it gave him some level of pride.
         And living out on the streets, you took pride wherever you could find it.
         A group of clubbers walked by, not sparing him a second glance. A couple here and there, hands held at the waist. He counted forty-two people in all that passed him, and only four had stopped to give him something. Eight dollars and seventy-five cents. All in all, a pretty good night.
         “At least it’s not raining,” he said. But he knew in his heart that was.

    They were calling for rain. Finally. But Ruth Dickerson didn’t want it to rain. Not yet, anyway. She’d been waiting all week for Saturday, and now it was looking like she wasn’t going to get to have her birthday party outside after all.
         “It’s not fair,” she told her mom. “We’ve already got the bouncy barn and games set up.”
         “I know sweetheart, but we need the rain.”
         Her mom smiled. “Because, if it doesn’t rain, then food doesn’t grow. And what about our water from the sink? Or the shower? Rain re-fills rivers and lakes when they run low, and they’re all very low right now.”
         It didn’t make sense. “But why can’t it just wait one more stinkin’ day? I don’t want it to rain.”
         “I know you don’t. And who knows, it might hold off until after your party?”
         “I hope so.”
         Her mom laughed and kissed her on the forehead. “Goodnight Ruth. I love you.”
         “I love you, too.”

    The wind was up, howling through the trees a mournful dirge that shook Caroline to her bones. She shouldn’t have stayed up late reading that scary book. Now everywhere she looked she saw him. Shifting in the curtains. Standing in the corner. Lying right beside her. The Shadow Man, come to gobble her up.
         Lightning flashed, illuminating the room for a second with eerie white light. Curse her small bladder, she had to pee, but she dared not get up. She remained motionless, heart pumping violently, listening to the sound of the moaning in the branches. She wondered if it would rain tonight or if it would just be another dry storm.     
         Thinking about rain reminded her of the pressure in her bladder.
         She slammed her eyes shut and buried herself below the covers.

    Sean was awake long before the sun spread its colors across the sky. Too much on his mind to sleep, he supposed he’d been awake since he lay down and turned the light off last night. Jenna was still sleeping, her faint snores rising and falling through the hollow walls.
         He grabbed his bible and cup of coffee and headed out to the porch. The mid-August morning was unusually cool. Sean eased onto the swing, gently rocking back and forth with its bounce. He stared out at his dead yard, at the brown trees, all dried up and left wanting. Another metaphor for his life.
         No matter how much he desired otherwise, his life never seemed to take off. Day after day of routine left him thirsty for something more. Just once he’d like to jump off the high dive and plunge into the depths of life.     
         He wanted the calm of his life to be wracked with a storm of excitement. He wanted to be drenched in a downpour, not of problems, but of something grand. If only he knew what.
         He sipped at his coffee and prayed. Most of all he wanted to be closer to God. He wanted to find his purpose in life and pursue it, not whatever it was he was doing now. When he finished, he flipped open his bible and read for a while, searching for truth and meaning to apply to his life.
         His coffee was cold when he closed the book and once again stared out at his yard. Thick clouds had moved in, covering the sky with a grey cotton blanket. A gust blew and a speck of something cold and wet hit Sean’s cheek.
         The clouds opened up and the rain began to fall.

    Word Count: 1099