Writing Experiment No. XXIV

So, a friend of mine and I were having a discussion tonight about why people don’t write more novels and stuff in the future tense.  I decided it was a challenge I needed to take.  What comes after this is the result.  It’s not very good.  I think it’s cuz writing in the future tense is HARD.

When I lay my head to my pillow and close my eyes, I will leave this world.  I will drift beyond the mists of consciousness and find myself in a world wholly surreal and fantastical.  If the past is any indication, it will be a world of tall, twisting pearloid buildings and cloudless lavender skies.  It will be a world of strange, beam-like humanoid creatures and soaring sky-bourne chariots that spray nuclear fire from their behinds.  I will be lost and alone, and there will be only one thing that can save me: you.

I will look down and take note to the curve, three-foot-long blade I hold in my hand.  I will examine it, hoping perhaps that it is Hattori Hanzo steel.  I will chuckle as I remember that even if the blade is Hanzo steel, I wouldn’t be able to tell.  It’s not like I’ll be able to read Japanese.  I will heft the blade in my hand and marvel at the exquisite balance of the piece.  I will gaze across the cityscape from my place atop the crimson hill at the mouth of the valley.  I will tighten my grip on the sword and set off toward the city.

I will reach a wood populated with gnarled, tangled tree-like forms.  They will weave around each other like some alien form of macrame.  I will see small scaly six-legged lifeforms scurrying across the wooden tangles.  I will hear the strange, wobbly melodies of flying creature wafting through the air.  I will feel a strange comfort wash over me as twigs and leaves crunch beneath my feet.  

I will, at length, work my way through the tangled wood and find myself setting foot on an worn old footpath.  The path will cut its way through tall, vermilion grass as it drives toward town.  I will gaze upward as I walk along, struck by the sight of the sky traffic shooting through the lavender expanse.  I will arrive at an old stone bridge that spans a stream of clear water.  Beneath the surface of the stream, odd, many-eyed aquatic creatures will peer up at my with strange, hungry stares.

As I place my foot upon the bridge, the air will crackle and a tall, horse-faced being will materialize out of a puff of azure smoke.  He will stare at me disapprovingly and rub what I will assume is his chin.  “Where are you headed”, he will croak.

For a moment, I will be taken aback by the perfectness of his English.  How odd, I will think.  That aliens actually speak my native tongue.  “I’m not sure”, I will answer.

“One unsure of where he’s headed doesn’t normally carry that kind of weapon”, he will observe.

“I’m not sure this is mine”, I will respond.

The tall man will rub his knobby-knuckled fingers together.  “Then give it to me”, he will hiss.

I will clutch the weapon a bit more tightly.  The tall man with the horse’s face will draw a step closer to me.  “Give it to me”, he will repeat.

I will back away, and the tall man will lunge at me.  I will raise the blade over my head, bringing it down in a brilliantly shiny, deadly parabola.  The blade will cleanly bisect the tall man’s head, right between his eyes.  He will tumble to the ground, lying gurgling in a maroon puddle.  I will flip the blood from my blade and give the tall man a final look, an unsettling feeling burrowing into my chest.  I will take a long deep breath and I will cross the bridge.

I will walk until I find myself in a broad, flowery meadow.  Plump, brightly colored insects will buzz about from blossom to blossom and I will stare in wonder at how, though I’m am walking through an alien landscape, I feel like I’m not so far from home.

I will arrive at a narrow, earthen road.  I look up one direction and back down the other.  A plume of olive-hued dust will rise up over the horizon.  I will clutch the blade to my chest as fear ices up and down my spine.  A motorcycle-like vehicle will flit along the road, emitting a strange high-pitched hum.  I will hide behind a tangle, green shrub, sure that I will have to shed blood again.  The thought will sicken me.  I will not want to spill blood, not even alien blood.

Panic will immobilize me as the vehicle draws to a stop in front of me.  Another tall, horse-faced man will dismount and pull a helmet off his head.  He will look to and fro, squinting harshly in the purple daylight.  “You can come on out”, he will shout.  “I seen you.”

I will feel my teeth chatter and I will try to sink lower, as if I may sink into the soil.  I will gulp hard and grasp my sword as a sudden burst of courage burns through my body.  I will leaps forward, raising my sword, stopping when I realize that the tall biker has a weapon of some sort trained on me.  He will look me up and down as I lower my blade.  “Ain’t you a little short for an Altarian”, he will ask, scratching his scalp with his free hand.

“I’m orbiting Altair”, I will hear myself ask, confusion welling up inside.

“Well, where did you think you are, Earthman”, the biker will mock.  “After all, you humans settled this place.”

I will feel my face scrunch into a quizzical expression.  I will have no memory of this settlement.  “That’s not possible”, I will counter.  “We can’t even get ourselves past the moon.”

The biker will chuckle.  “That attitude is why you can’t get nothing done, son”, he will reply.

I will feel the strength leave my legs and I will stagger a bit.  “So we really made it”, I will gasp.

“Some of you did”, the biker will clarify.  “Most of you died.  You know, comets, space debris, gamma ray bursters and such.”

“How long have we been here”, I will ask.

“Long enough to wipe most of the indigenous life clean off the map”, the biker will half-snarl.  “When you weren’t mating with them.”

I will feel queasy in the tummy region.  “Mating with aliens?”

“You humans ain’t exactly picky.”

“So where did you come from?”

“Crossbreeds is about all that’s left.  The humans made us all slaves, doing farm work and the like.  I think you can figure the rest out yourself.”

I will be reminded of a movie a saw once, in which a long-haired stoner kid said something about wanting to be the first person to discover an alien race.  And **** it.

 

Chapter Headings

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Just over seven days until the NaNoWriMo mayhem starts.  This past week, I put the finishing touches on my outline.  Not that I’ll follow it to the letter.  An outline is a bit like a movie screenplay in that it serves more as a scaffolding to build your story on and the finished product may not bear much of a resemblance.  Anyway, it is nice to have a direction to go in, though I’m sure there’s at least one big change of direction awaiting me on this quest.

This year, as part of my outline, I wrote down the tentative title for each chapter and a little description of what happens in said chapter.  I don’t wanna give away too much, but I think I can share my chapter titles without ruining it.  So, that’s what I’m now gonna do.  I had as much fun coming up with these as I probably will writing the silly thing.  And isn’t that a bit sad?..

1.  Magic Moments

2. That Dreadful Day

3. DE-PRESS-SHUN

4.  So Long!!  You’ve Been a Great Crowd!!

5.  Cruising Tunes

6. Hello, Seattle!!

7.  Keep Portland Weird

8. Hello, San Francisco!!

9. F*cking Hell-A (Los Angeles)

10.  Hello, Phoenix!!

11.  Mia

12. Beware the Texas Metalheads

13.  Hello, N’awlins!!

14.  Orlando, Florida – Death Metal Capitol of the World

15. Hello, Atlanta!!

16.  Lost…

17.  Hello, Replicantville!!

18.  Escape from Replicantville

19.  Hello, Indianapolis!!

20.  In with the Crew

21.  Hello, D.C.!!

22.  Quiet Time for Logan and Mia

23.  Hello, Philly!!

24.  The Breakdown

25.  Bus 667

26.  Hello, Cleveland!!

27.  Hello, Pittsburgh!!

28.  In the Presence of the Gods

29.  Hello, Detroit!!

30.  Thank You and Good Night

31.  …And Knowing is Half the Battle

Obviously, as things progress, I may shuffle chapters, condense things, and omit chapters completely, but right now, that’s the plan.  Along with my chapter, I have a short list of things I’ve been challenged to squeeze into my tale.  They are:

  • A “Skrull fat” gag
  • A “kitty whiskers” reference
  • Something to do with a space beaver
  • “It’s Manwichin’ time!”
  • A joke made at the expense of Journey

So, there you have it.  I think I’m about as ready as I can be.  Now, the waiting… that’s the hardest part…

NaNoWriMo 4: The Quest for Peace

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In October of 2010, I was reading a friend’s blog and he mentioned he was participating something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.  I hadn’t ever heard about it before.  The concept was this: Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Don’t write well.  Don’t edit your grammar or spelling.  Take the angry little bastard editor that lives in your head out back and shoot him.  Write.  Just write.

As someone who had wanted to write a lengthy piece of fiction for a long stretch of years, the idea of squelching the criticism of my inner editor and just spewing out words was very appealing to me.  I recruited another buddy to come to meetings and stuff with me and set off on a pretty singular adventure.  I hit my 50k and I.  Was.  Hooked.

Jump ahead a bit and I’m headed into my fourth NaNo.  I’ve settled into a pretty comfortable groove over the past few years.  That means it’s high time to switch sh*t up.  This year, I’m actually gonna try to plan things out in some detail.  Actually, that process has been going on for a month or so.  I figured out what I wanted to write a ways ahead of time, as opposed to a week before, as is usual.  I’m also gonna shave my current beard off and grow a new one.  It promises to be hairy.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of very valuable lessons doing NaNo, and not just that I can, in fact, write 50,000 words without typing “Batman” 50,000 times.  One thing I’ve learned is that, for me, it’s not as fulfilling if I tell a story and don’t say anything important during the course of it.  A story without a message is just fluff.  I’ve also learned that I’m not interested in dispensing  the same messages every other storyteller seems to be tell be preaching.  You know, the nature of heroes, true love, there is more to the world than meets the eye… crap like that.  I think I have stuff to say.  It’s just not stuff that normally get said.

Another thing I’ve learned is that writing may seem like a solitary endeavor, but it sure seems to go more smoothly for me when I include others in what I’m doing.  It’s a blast to get together with your writer buddies and see who can cram the weirdest idea into their story.  It’s so much easier to overcome your obstacles when you have friends who understand what you’re trying to do and will allow you to bounce ideas off them.  It’s easier to stay motivated when you’ve got folks around you who can help buoy you up.  NaNoWriMo takes an intellectual, solitary exercise and makes it a fun, social activity.

One final thing I’ve learned is that writing is bloody hard work.  It’s tiring to stare at your computer screen when nothing’s coming out.  It’s exhausting to keep going when you don’t like what you’re writing.  You face fatigue, boredom, emotional crisis, and sometimes, burnout.  But if you keep going, if you fight on and get to your goal, it’s incredibly fulfilling.  The payoff makes it worth the struggle and drudgery.

I’m not gonna go into the details of my story for for this year, but I’m excited.  After a couple years of stories just cuz I thought they were cool ideas, I have a story idea that I like,and I have something I really care about to say.  There’s some trepidation about whether I can fuse my message with my story in a way that’s not preachy and pedantic, but I guess all I can do is crap my pants, dive in, and swim.  Hope to see you out at some of our upcoming activities.  I’ll be the one dog-paddling for dear life.

Pentecost… (Keep Reading. You’ll see what I mean.)

ImageI had a very long drive home from work today.  Very long.  I had plenty of time to think.  I even wanted to think.  I know you’re amazed by that, but sometimes it’s true.

Here’s the skinny: I walked out this afternoon to take my work garbage out to the dumpster and noticed the right front tire on my car had gone flat.  It was a little infuriating.  Not only can I not afford to fix a tire right now, but I also had someplace I wanted to be after work.  Not the happiest of times.  

As I struggled with changing my tire, no fewer than half a dozen people came by and offered to help.  We’re not talking dudes passing by simply asking if I needed help.  I’m talking people offering to go get gear and come back to help.  We’re talking an exchange of phone numbers in case I couldn’t get it taken care of in a timely manner.  I had one friend that came over and ended up waiting nearly an hour while I tried to get the job done.  She didn’t have to do that, but she did.

I have a heart condition, which means it takes me three times longer to do strenuous jobs as it does healthy folks.  Sadly, changing a flat is an incredibly strenuous job for me.  By the time I had the old tire off and in the trunk, I felt like my lungs were on fire, my heart was set to burst, my legs were made of Jell-o.  It was at this point that something kinda awesome happened.  My boss and her husband left for the day and stopped to see if I needed help.  Although I tried to wave them off and convince them I’d be fine, they helped me get the spare on.  Then they let me back into work to wash the dirt and grease and blood (I kinda jabbed myself) off my hands.  AND THEN they followed me to the nearest Maverick gas station, helped fill the spare with air, and bought me a liter of water.  (bet you thought I was gonna say “liter o’ cola”, didn’t you.)

As I drove home, very, VERY slowly, thoughts began to churn and I figured something out: Stacker Pentecost had a point.  

Stacker Pentecost is Idris Elba’s character in Pacific Rim, the hardass tasked with leading Jaeger pilots in their battle against the other-dimensional kaiju.  When things look bleakest, before the big final showdown, Pentecost delivers an impassioned (for a big Hollywood movie, any way) speech that goes a little like this:

“Today… At the edge of our hope, at the end of our time, we have chosen not only to believe in ourselves, but in each other. Today there is not a man nor woman in here that shall stand alone. Not today. Today we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them. Today, we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

Now Idris Elba is one of my favorite actors.  He was great in The Losers.  He makes for a killer Heimdall.  And if you haven’t seen him in Luther, I think you’re missing out.  So, I like the guy and I’m down with just about anything he says.  Still, as awesome as Pacific Rim is, and it’s neck and neck with The World’s End for my favorite movie of the year, it’s big ass robots fighting big ass monsters.  It’s fluff.  At least it was until today.

Now for some reason, I grew up to believe that I had to do life alone, independent of everyone else.  Watching someone else selflessly fix up my hurt, I began to wonder whether or not that’s actually true.  When I vocalized this wonder, my boss’s husband (who I guess is technically my boss since he’s my boss’s boss… I think…) dropped the bomb.  He said “the key to being independent is knowing when to ask for help”.  Sounds obvious, but to me… HOLY BRAIN NOVA, BATMAN.

I realized one incontrovertible truth as I drove home: That I am way too hard on people.  There are some seriously awesome people walking the face of this planet, and I’m very fortunate to know more than my fair share personally.  When I take a step away from my problems and rise above my stress, I can see that I am super frakking blessed.  (I’mma tie in the Pacific Rim stuff.  I promise.)

So, here’s what I decided tonight: that even though I don’t really believe in myself, I can believe in other people.  There are loads of people just waiting to buoy you up if you’ll just ask.  Some of them won’t even charge you!  So, I’m choosing to believe in others, that most people are genuinely good and try to do what’s right and help each other as often as they can.  I can believe this.  I’ve seen it firsthand.

To the folks who gave me a hand or offered to help me out today, I owe you a debt of gratitude I can’t possibly repay.  To my friends and family (many of whom are friends AND family), you guys are one of the few things that’s kept me from putting myself in a casket, and that means a helluva lot.  Okay, it was really you guys and scary-ass metal music, but the point still stands.  As I go forth, I hope to be able to be there for others the way you’ve all been there for me.  Oh, and… TODAY, WE ARE CANCELLING THE APOCALYPSE!!!  The Metalocalypse is still happening though.

Love,

Fatty Thrashbrowns 

 

I’m a Woman…

ImageI saw The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time in a completely trashed old theater in Idaho Falls.  I totally loved it, in fact it’s probably one of my favorite movies of all time.  I loved the way the film fused sci-fi elements with a truly touching love story and a whole lotta laughs.  I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would hit me on an emotional level.  There were several points during the flick where I felt tears welling up in my eyes.  I remember walking out of the the theater, turning to my buddy Erik, and dropping the bomb.  “Dude”, I admitted.  “I cried during that movie.  I am a WOMAN.”

Crying at movies wasn’t something that happened much to me at that point in my life.  Sure, I cried at the end of Iron Giant, but that movie brought back memories of my dead little brother with its themes of mortality and the nature of the soul.  But that was it back then.  I just didn’t get emotionally manipulated by entertainment.  I was a rock.  I was a frakking island.

These day, however, the record’s been flipped.  I get weepy at just about anything.  Movies.  Sitcoms.  Songs that remind me of the days when I wasn’t quite such a waste of potential.  I’m waiting for the day when I shed tears over a feminine hygiene commercial.  That’s when I’ll you that it’s everlastingly to late to get my edge back.

One of my friends has seen me get weepy in front of her.  I’m sure that goes over super awesome.  There’s nothing more sexy or masculine than breaking into tears while stumble over your words while attempting to express your appreciation for someone.  I should’ve tried this move much, much earlier.  I’d be up to my earlobes in diaper rash, SUVs, and My Little Pony by now.

What really makes me wonder is the fact that real live humans can give me these big, emotional speeches, tell me to hold on, that there’s still hope, and that everything will be alright, and I can’t even be bothered.  But an emotional episode of How I Met Your Mother can leave me in big-ass streams of tears and snot.  I don’t even relate that strongly to Ted Mosby.  All he’s ever wanted is to find his soulmate and get married.  I don’t really believe in the concept of soulmates, and I have no idea whether I want to get married or not.  But whenever Ted decides to persevere in his search for love, or whenever Lily dispenses life lessons, I feel myself tear up almost without fail.  50/50 makes me a little misty-eyed every time I see it (I guess friendship means a lot to me or… something…).  Sometimes I wonder how I could be weak-minded enough to allow my feelings to be so easily manipulated by the media.  Or maybe I’m just brave enough to admit it.  Who knows for sure?

From Here To 2014…

There are only three months left in 2013, and that means it’s Oscar Season!!  Ugh…

Actually, it turns out that hiding out amongst the Oscar-bait films (yawn), there are actually a few movies coming out that promise to kick the ass end of 2013 in the ass.  Here are the top ten movies I’m looking forward to between now and the end of the year…

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Gravity (10/4) – Trapped floating through space.  Surrounded by nothingness.  Low on oxygen.  Sounds like a thin premise for a whole feature-length film, but everything I’ve seen from it looks riveting.

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Machete Kills (10/11) – Machete was one of the most ridiculous, silly, implausible movies in recent memory.  This sequel looks every bit as ridiculous, silly, and implausible.  Thank heavens!

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The Escape Plan (10/18) – Schwarzenegger and Sly team up to beat, bash, and blast their way out of prison.  Be still, my old-school action flick-loving heart!

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Thor: The Dark World (11/8) – Chris Hemsworth picks up Thor’s hammer again and proceeds to bash his way through a new batch of baddies.  Be on the look-out for Avengers tie-ins.

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Nebraska (11/15) – A dad wins a sweepstakes and drags his son cross-country to collect the booty.  Sounds too off-the-wall for me not to love it.

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Oldboy (11/27) – Morbidly curious about this one, chiefly because I can’t see how they can put the original ending in front of American audiences.

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 The Monuments Men (12/18) – George Clooney and Matt Damon lead an excellent cast on a mission to steal a bunch of irreplaceable art from the Nazis.  My interest is piqued.

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47 Ronin (12/25) – This Keanu Reeves flick looks like it’ll either be awesome or a complete mess.  Either way, it should be a pretty fascinating watch.

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Grudge Match (12/25) – De Niro and Sly play boxers retired boxing rivals whose distaste for each other leads to one final match.  What’s not to like?

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (12/25) – Yeah, it’s a remake.  Yeah it’s Ben Stiller.  Yeah, it kinda looks like a “feel-good” movie.  It also looks like it could be pretty good.

So, that’s what I’m looking forward to.  What movies make your list?

Curse of the Black Cat

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Licorice the Black Cat Bastard!

I’m going on my fourth day of limited mobility.  My foot and ankle have really been killing me ever since I took an unplanned tumble down the stairs.  And it’s all Licorice’s fault.

Who is Licorice, you ask?  I live in a four cat household.  One is Loki, my fluffy little puffball cat.  She’s pretty affectionate if she knows you, although she hates strangers and has a habit of being underfoot at the wrong time.  Then there’s Simba, who basically lives outside and kills mice for sustenance.  There’s also Toasty, a grumpy little grouch who got his name cuz he resembles a toasted marshmallow.  Then there’s Licorice, a big, black, tubby ball of belligerence.

So, anyway, Tuesday night I came home late after hanging at a friend’s place to watch Sons of Anarchy.  I came in the door and flipped the light in the stairway on.  What I did not do is check the stairs to make sure they were clear.  I also didn’t watch where I was going.  It was fine til I put my foot down and heard a high-pitched cat squeal.

I say I tripped over, it didn’t really go down like that.  I just say “tripped” cuz it sums it up easily.  What really happened is that I put my foot down, the cat screamed, and my foot kinda slid down the cat’s side and missed the edge of the next step.  I lost my balance and began to plummet.

I don’t know about you, but when I fall down or lose control of what my body’s doing or where it’s going, initially I feel a huge rush of excitement.  It’s like, I’m falling- No, I’m flying!!  This is badass!  A fraction of a second later, when my brain has figured out what’s happening… sheer, stomach-turning terror.  I’m gonna die-type terror.

I didn’t go head over heels as much as I fell backwards and slid.  My right leg bent funny and my feet and toes somehow ended up underneath me.  They stretched funny or something because I felt pain radiating out from my ankle up to my knee and out through my toes.  I was a little dazed, so I decided the best thing to do was sit for a spell and get my wits back.

I lay back at looked up at the ceiling.  Things were kind of spinny and surreal.  I heard a tiny little meow, like a little girly cat might make and saw Licorice, the big fat cat peering down from the top of the stairs at me.  His big green eyes blazed with “I got you sucker” glee.  He meowed at me, and for a moment I had to consider the thought that maybe the black bastard planned this.  How long was he waiting for me?  I had to admire him for having the discipline to sit and wait until I came home.  He was like a frakking ninja or something.

Anyway, yeah.  There’s proof positive that cats are sonsuvbithes.  Believe that.