Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Book Talk: Communion

The other day I finished reading Communion by Whitley Streiber. I had seen this book a couple years ago in Downtown Books up in Milwaukee and was interested, but not interested enough to buy it considering I have too many books at home as it is. So, on a whim, I grabbed it from the library and gave it a shot. Overall impression: it was ok, just ok.

The first half (roughly) of the book was, to me, the most interesting, where Streiber describes the abductions as he recalled them. Not only is it creepy, the language paints a vivid picture in the mind (not surprising considering Streiber is a speculative fiction author). The events that Streiber describes are chilling and gave me the heebie-jeebies more than once.

The second half-ish of the book was hard for me to get through. The author delves into hypnosis sessions to bring his memories more into focus, which brings up still more memories of abductions going back to when he was about 10 years old. There is also a lot of exposition about what exactly the "visitors" are, whether they are real or figments of his imagination. There is also a sequence of Streiber in a sort of support group for other New York area abductees. At the end the author examines the possibility of visitations throughout time and discusses what is that has happened. He does not come to a solid conclusion, but instead acknowledges that he doesn't have the answers.

The author certainly believes in what he says happened to him, and I want to believe as well, but there's one thing that makes it a little hard. Streiber says the visitors, who came to him in 1985, warn of an impending catastrophe or some kind of disaster that will befall mankind and/or the planet. At one point in the book, the year 2000 is referenced as a point by which there will be a great change in the world. It's been 22 years since the book was published. Where's the big catastrophe? What happened with the great change? Have we seen it yet? Did something happen to stop it?

I am glad that I read it, because it was interesting and gave me a couple vague ideas for stories, but it was difficult to get through. If you have the time, go ahead and take a look, and maybe it will grab you in the night and take you places you wouldn't think were possible.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nothing Much Going On

It's Friday, it's 10:40 and there's nothing much going on around here. The Lovely Mrs. and I watched I Am Legend on pay-per-view tonight. It was decent. Someone already spoiled some of the major plot points for me, but I thought it was okay. Better than what some people had told me.

I've been through a few blogs, reading here and there. There's just a handful that I regularly check, but I'm sure there's plenty more good stuff out there. I played around on my myspace for a little while, sent out a couple friend requests. There are more I could send out, but I'm not really a big fan of myspace. I like facebook better. It's less cluttered and there isn't as much junk on there.

Also, it's freakin hot in the house, which is making me tired. For whatever reason, none of the God Damn windows in the house seem to open. They've either been painted shut or they're broken or who the hell knows what's wrong with them.

The Lovely Mrs. is reading one of her magazines and watching reruns of Home Improvement on Nick at Nite. I'd rather not watch that, but seriously there's nothing else on. I probably won't be up too much later anyway as I have to get up at 5 to go to work tomorrow. I'm working 6-3, yeah me!

Now it's 10:59 and I think it's time to retire. I bid you all adieu. Just turn the lights off when you're done. Thanks.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Can't Talk, Watching Lost

New episode just started. You may go about your business. That is all.

Rattling in My Brain

I've had another story idea that's been bouncing around my brain for a while, but lately it seems like its been there a lot more than usual. I even had a kind of catchy title pop up while driving this week. It's a very foggy idea, more a wouldn't it be kind of cool if kind of thing than a plausable story. But then again, that can be the making of a good story if it's told correctly. So anyway, I've always been interested in the Arthur mythos, you know, Merlin, Excalibur, Gwenevere and all that. There are so many rich stories there, not just of Arthur, but of his nights and the things that go on when they're not off fighting as well. I especially like the theme of the king being tied to the land, where if the king does well and is healthy, then the land is healthy. So I got to thinking of Arthur in different periods/locations. What would happen to him and his knights? Would the stories be the same, i.e. Gwenevere falling in love with Lancelot? Would Arthur have knowledge of his previous incarnations? Is the spirit or soul of Arthur reborn in others throughout time to write wrongs and keep the peace?

Enter Swordfight at the OK Corral, a tale of Arthur in the Wild West! Right off the bat though, from the way I originally envisioned it, the title doesn't work. In my first idea, Arthur still receives the sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, but as swords are impractical in the old west, he takes it to a smith that crafts it into a pair of six shooters. He wouldn't be a king, obviously, he'd be a lawman, I think. He could be the Wyatt Earp character. Maybe the swordfight would happen and then he realizes how impractical the sword is when everyone else has guns and then he changes to the gun.

I don't know, I'm just thinkin' out loud here.

More Walkin' Man

This came to me last night. It's not right, probably because there's no context to put it in, but it's there. The two parts may be part of the same scene or they might not be. Who knows.

The Walkin' Man walked on. And they watched him go. As he faded off into the night they were relieved to be away from his commanding presence, while at the same time missing the protection of his knowledge and experience offered. Jared breathed a sigh and looked around their hastily assembled camp. Melissa shifted closer to the fire and pulled her jacket tighter around her shoulders. Francis kept his back to the fire, his eyes constantly on the darkness around them.

"Boy, you just don't get it," the Walkin' Man chided. "This goes well beyond you and what's chasin' you."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Story Bone: The Walkin' Man

This came to me yesterday and today as I was in the car. Just a couple lines, nothing much. I envision this character as a tall, skinny man. He wouldn't be a main character, more of a guide or advisor to the main characters that pops up from time to time. Anyway, here goes:

Some people recon that there isn't an inch of ground on Earth that hasn't been tread upon by the Walkin' Man. Some recon that he's been walking for a long time, maybe for all time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What'll It Be Repent or Rape!?!

If you haven't seen The Guild, what's wrong with you? Now, I'm not an MMORPG player (I play board games), nor am I a connoisseur of web videos, but this stuff is freakin hilarious. And episode 9, which just came out is one of the funniest yet. It includes the ultimatum "What'll it be, repent or rape?" What a decision. Anyway, here's episode 9 for you. Check it out.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sophie Gets Around, Sophie from Shinola Part XXI

Wow, I'm feeling intimidated. Nathan started this crazyfun round robin writing exercise at his blog (the explanation and beginning can be found here). So far, I think everyone will agree that this has been fun to see how all sorts of different people from all over the country (is anyone international?) try to create one coherent story with some interesting rules. And now it's my turn again and I'm not totally sure what to do. But here goes. (Gotta get it done now 'cause I know I'll be busy at work tomorrow and I know how ya'll don't like to wait too long for the next part).

Part 20 can be found here.

When last we saw the story:

Billy Chenolla looked straight into Gareth's eyes and cut him off with a question that caused the man to turn from off-white to purplish-red in the space between two heartbeats.

“So,” he said so bland and casual it burned, “who's Sophie from Shinola?”

The dual personality that was once just Blink but was now Sophie/Blink blinked. The Tragethen empire's plan to create a terraformed series of parallel universes was mounting. Sophie had overlapping visions: a vision of a strange tropical island and a big man in blue; a vision of a literary agent with the hots for her mandroid that was reading about her life; a vision of her parents, but it was her parents from an altering timeline; and a vision of a woman whose brain had been downloaded into a computer. Things were getting worse quickly.

Sophie rose out of the fetal position and stretched her many-limbed, furry body. Reality shifted again, sliding through a kaleidoscope of sights before it stopped. No longer was Sophie in a phone booth in Amsterdam, now she was in a closet. But not just any closet, it was the closet on the Tragethen battle cruiser that had picked her up after attacking not-Sophie. After the attack and the pick up, Sophie was in such a state of shock (hence the fetal position) that she shut down and Blink took over. They bolted, amid the cries of the surprised Tragethens, and found themselves hiding out in the closet.

"We're back to where we began," Blink said through their mind-link bond. "The attack is progressing. We must act now if the Earth is to be saved."

Sophie didn't respond, her mind was still struggling to cope with everything that had happened to her over the last few hours.

"Sophie, honey, we've got to work together if we're going to save the Earth and your parents."

From the recesses of their shared mind, Sophie peered out cautiously. "Ok. I'll be strong," she said. "What do we need to do?"

"Well, first we need to get out of this closet, and then we need to find the weapons control system. There's a reason the SpaceForce was looking at you for candidacy, and because of that, I'm confident that you will be able to take control of the weapons array of this ship to destroy the terraformer in orbit around the planet. As for stopping the Trageth from coming back, I'm still unsure of that."

Blink felt Sophie's mental nod, and the two moved on, cautiously opening the closet and peering out into the curving metal corridor. They didn't see any Trageth, but Blink kept them from rushing out. They listened for signs of others while Blink adjusted his/their physology. When he was done, they set out down the corridor, using the modification to run silently along the ceiling.

They moved blindly from one corridor to another until something in Sophie's mind clicked. "Wait, turn back," she said. "Go down that last corridor we just past. Something tells me that the weapons systems control will be that way."

Part 22 is here.

The Dual Purpose of Company

We had company last night. The in-laws came by to see us (really just to see Logan) and at the same time they wanted to clear their basement of my wife's junk, which means we get to have the junk now. And it's really junk (old dorm stuff, Sega Master's System games), but anyway, I'm off topic.

There's the intended purpose of company, to be social, to see people you maybe haven't seen in a while, etc. Which is all very nice and pleasent. Then there's the other purpose of company, to make sure your house is clean. Two days before the inlaws were to come over, we were cleaning and putting things away and making the house look nicer. The countertop hasn't been as clean as it is now for a while. Of course there were spots on it by the time the in-laws left, but oh well.

On Wednesday we're going down to St. Louis for one of Brandi's skating competitions and we'll be staying with my aunt. I called her the other day to just go over our plans and make sure everything was still okay for us to come down (it is) and what was she doing when I called? Cleaning! That's right, she was cleaning to get her house ready for us.

I'm sure the phenomenon is partly courtesy. Who wants to come and spend time in a dirty house? But then there's also the part that's the social norm, power of shame stuff. No one wants others to see is their house isn't clean. It's just a part of civilized life, but sometimes, it's a pain in the butt.

Friday, April 4, 2008

God's Messenger, a Ham Sandwich

God's messenger, who had spoken to Jethro through his ham sandwich, had said the task was going to be difficult, but Jethro had no idea it was going to be this hard. Had he known, he might have just told the sandwich he was too busy. There was a lot to do at the shop after all. The cars weren't just going to fix themselves.

Already, he stubbed his toe hopping Mr. Urban's fence. Then there was the nasty scratch he got after going through Mrs. Olson's bushes. That one still stung.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Legend of Zelda Movie!?!

If only it were true. This video is an April Fools prank perpretrated by IGN. It's a really well done prank if I may say so. It must have taken a lot of thought, resources and time to put together to put out something that looks this good. Although Link does look pretty dumb with that green hat on. He'd definately have to lose the hat. Also, I think Gannondorf could look a little more menacing, maybe if there was less hair. I always like the pig-faced Gannon (am I remembering that right?).

But then there's the part of me that remembers every other video game movie I've seen and not being satisfied with any of them. I know in my heart that someone would manage to royally f-up the movie in some way before it hit the theathres. Maybe if all video game movies were condensed into trailers then they would be better. Maybe...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and while I haven't written a poem in a while, it deserves to be recognized. I walked over to the library tonight (a mile one way when you're sick and it's cold out, not the best idea) and they are celebrating with Random Acts of Poetry. Scattered thoughout the library on postcard sized cards are excerpts from various poems. I collected a few that caught my eye and will leave them here. I will try to reproduce the spacing as they are on the card (ok after posting, apparently blogger doesn't like my spacing, so you'll just have to live without it). Maybe these will inspire you to write a poem or story of your own.

was mother and
father for
latchkey kids
busy birthing
fresh worlds

~Kevin Coval, "hai coup,"
Slingshot, A Hip-Hop Poetica

Nature makes
no mistakes,
but she
in pranks...

~Wislawa Szymborska, "A Dinosaur's Skeleton,"
People On a Bridge

by breathing,
become my

~Elaine Equi, from "A Plan,"

Survival Tip #337 The Bolivian Banded Tapeworm

A warning, this one is kinda gross

The rare and dangerous Bolivian Banded Tapeworm is known to show a rudimentary intelligence on par with pigs, as well as finely tuned survival instincts. The Bolivian Banded Tapeworm is so named because of alternating bands of green, black, and gray down the length of its body. Those unfortunate enough to be infested with the parasite are faced with an uphill battle to remove it from their bodies.

The tapeworm can be contracted in a number of ways. The flesh of the fierce Bolivian Giant Boar usually contains the worm. If not properly cooked, larval forms of the worm can enter the body and take hold. The same can be said for improperly prepared fish caught in the rivers and lakes of Bolivia. Additionally, if one is swimming in waters populated by the tapeworm, the parasite is known to launch its eggs into the water to float like seeds carried on the wind.

Once the parasite gains a foothold in the body, a battle is waged if more than one tapeworm is present. The worms fight by means of chemical warfare. Each worm secrets a toxin that is unique to its DNA that will poison the other tapeworms. Typically, this will leave one worm left to thrive and grow. In rare cases, all of the tapeworms will die. Meanwhile, during this initial stage, the toxins leave the host feeling euphoric. Once one of the Bolivian Banded Tapeworms has achieved dominance, it will act like most tapeworms, positioning itself in the digestive tract and feeding off of food consumed by the host.

“My body is a temple, and I take in a precise amount of nutrition every day. So, I couldn’t understand when I started losing weight,” said Guy Friendly, fitness guru and former host of the self-help talk show Put Down That Candy Bar and Pick Up Your Self Esteem. “I contacted my physician and he found traces of the tapeworm’s toxins in my blood. I must have gotten the worm when I traveled to Bolivia on an outreach mission earlier in the year. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten their food! It took several different treatments to rid my temple of the defiler, and each time, the tapeworm fought back, making me weak and sick. Eventually, the impurity was removed and my temple has been rebuilt better than ever.”

As stated above, the Bolivian Banded Tapeworm shows signs of intelligence and a survival instinct well honed over the course of its evolution. If the worm detects that the host is trying to remove it, it will fight back. There are two methods by which the worm will fight back. First it will increase its food intake to simultaneously strengthen itself and weaken its prey. The stronger tapeworm is then better able to survive a sustained attack. The other method is to attack the host with a neurotoxin. By this method, the Bolivian Banded Tapeworm will paralyze its host. The worm can then bide its time, waiting for a new host to consume it or its eggs. In the mean time, it is able to draw some sustenance from the host’s inter body by siphoning off of a blood vessel.

A person who unwittingly plays host to the Bolivian Banded Tapeworm can have difficulty removing the worm because of this. But that does not mean that there is no hope. One of the most popular methods of eliminating the worm once it has been discovered is for a physician to administer controlled amounts of the same chemical the worms use to gain dominance within the host’s body. Since the chemical given off by each worm is unique to its DNA, there is little concern about the treatment being ineffective. Also, because the worm will interpret this as an attack from a rival worm, it will not fight back against the host. The other method, while effective, is viewed by many as unpleasant.

(Translated from Spanish) “Last June, my son, Jose, was swimming in the Rio Beni, and shortly after, he started losing a lot of weight and looking sickly,” said Juan Ruiz, professional llama racer. “My mamma knew right away that it was the Bolivian Banded Tapeworm and she told us about an old remedy that her grandmother taught her. Since the tapeworm is a little smart, it can be trained in a way. Every day at exactly 3 p.m. Jose would eat some fruit. We did this for a month and then had him stop. Sure enough the worm had gotten used to the regular feeding and when no fruit came, it crawled up to find the food. Jose started choking a little and I was waiting. I saw the worm’s head appear at the back of his mouth and reached in with some tongs. Once I had it, I very carefully pulled it out. Jose has been fine since, and now the children have a pet. We keep it in a large bowl, and the kids love to show it off when people come over.”