Writing Practice – 2/18/2019

Describe this man…

This man is confident. He smiles as if he knows he is better than you. He holds his hands together in front of him as if he is pointing at you, to say, “You should be intimidated by me, and because of how handsome I am.”

Yes, he is handsome. His hair is flopped over slightly on his head, short, straight, medium-trimmed. It is not close-cropped, but not hanging past his ears, either. This is a look which has been carefully cultivated. HIs cheek bones stand out from the flush of his cheeks just slightly. His ears fall back tight against his head. They don’t stick out, which would give him an idiotic, imbecilic look.

His shoulder, inside his suit, are proportionate, straight level across, not sloping, not stooped. He holds himself this way and we recognize his power, his alpha qualities. We see in his body that strength of authority. Yet his necktie is slightly askew; slightly off at the little crook beneath his neck. Does this imply he’s a bit lax at times? Or just that he wants to appear “approachable”? Like, “Hey, I’m not really a bad guy, you can talk to me. I promise I’ll listen.”

His eyes, half-closed, suggests a smirk with his lips. These tell me he thinks about me; he wants me to come over and gather round, to hear his tale he is about to tell. He wants to hold this audience in rapt attention for five minutes, ten, fifteen, as the crowd at the cocktail party gradually swells, noting the attention and coming to find out what all the fuss is about. And he knows, too, that his story is thrilling, enthralling, so he continues to speak, to add details, wild and exorbitant that bring his audience even more delight, and as new people glom onto the back, they whisper to one another what’s happening, and they hear similarly whispered responses recapping the tale of adventure so far, how he and his wife were driving one night and picked up a hitchhiker, who turned out to be a billionaire, and they ended up at the billionaire’s home, and now he’s telling how there were thirty people in the pool, all in various states of nakedness, “Oh my, can you imagine, I never,” and he’s got this story down, he’s completely mesmerizing thirty or so guests in this new dinner party, he’s the center of attention, and soon he realizes that he’s pushed the limits of credibility to their furthest ends, any more and even he won’t believe it could have gone like that, and so, with a flourish, with a large loft of his glass to toast the room, he winds up the story with a wild “And, so, my friends, to adventure!” And all their cheers resound through the night, and they all drink toast, Cheers!, and then gradually, and suddenly, and middlingly, they distribute, they disperse themselves back out to rejoin the party, [illegible] a man, this strong, confident, Alpha male, remaining behind with his date, slipping an arm around her waist and pulling her a little tighter, sips and finishes his drink, places the glass on a table behind himself, and leaves, to bask in the gazes of the experience, having once more justified, validated, ensconced himself at the top of the social totem pole once more.

Writing Practice – 2/17/2019: Imaginary Friends

Imaginary friends…

My imaginary friends are having a real war, and it’s taking a toll on my room. Last night Katie threw my Spider-Man across the room at Jacob. It missed him but hit the mirror and knocked it off the shelf.

Mom says that she doesn’t believe me, that it’s not me doing it, but Dad does. He always takes my side. I wish they weren’t so made t each other, but, sometimes I don’t get what I want.

Katie told me she doesn’t want to be my friend any more, if Jake is still coming around. She said I have to choose – who am I going to pick her or him? I told her I don’t want to pick. Why can’t I have both? Why can’t things be like they used to be?

It started like two years ago. Mom told me that’s when I started having nightmares, but I don’t remember that part. She says she would hear me screaming about monsters. She would come in and check on me, tell me it was okay, and leave. I didn’t remember that part. I do remember that a lot of times I would wake up and Dad was lying in the bed next to me, his arm around my shoulders.

“Hey, big guy,” he’d say, when I woke up. “You were having another bad night, huh?” I didn’t remember him coming in to my room, either, but i do remember when I met Katie and Jake. I was out at the swingset, no – maybe it was the little creek out at the community park – anyway, all of a sudden I heard two other voices and they were arguing, too.

I was able to stop them from that argument, and they made up. They were okay, and I was okay with each of them. I like Jake a little more; he’s about two years old than me, he doesn’t like to ride bikes like I do, so I have to play at the park when he’s already there.

We don’t hang out with Katie much any more. We did for a while. She’s a little younger than Jake so she’s just a little older than me. She likes to ride bikes, so we do that together. She says her grandma promised her a gear-shifter bike for her next birthday, but when ask when that is, she always says, “oh, in a couple of months.” I’ve had two birthdays since I met her, and she hasn’t had any.

I’m afraid if I keep going to like this that she’s not going to get any older, but I will. I might grow out of my imaginary friends. I grew out of my hi-tops last year and my older brother grew out of his shorts and that’s why I have his. I don’t want to grow out of my friends. I want them to stay with me.

But Mom says that I need to leave them behind. It’s not that they can’t help me anymore, she says. It’s just that they don’t need to be there every day. Dad says it’s okay. He thinks as long as I have a way to “process” those things it will be fine.

Sometimes, I wish I did just leave them behind – you know, go out and live by myself. But then I realize I’m only ten, and I can’t give them up that easily. Who’ll take care of me? I can’t get a job. Now way I could take care of myself.

Writing Practice – 2/8/2019

One of your eyes, hands, or feet will be taken as payment to vote in the next election. Do you vote? If so, which do you give up?

Of course I vote. It is not only a civic duty, but there are real consequences for the fact that I have to get out of power whoever it is that has put this policy in place. At this rate, I can only vote 6 times unless something changes, and that’s not a lot. So I’m going to create the “One-Eyed, One-Armed, One-Legged” coalition, and we’re all going to band together and vote for politicians who don’t want that policy to continue.

As for me, first I’d choose to lose my left hand. I write with my right, so I need that. Second preference, 4 years down the road, is that I lose my right leg. I guess maybe I could go left. But that would seem unbalanced, like all my RoboCop is only on one side of me. Because let’s be real, I”m gonna get prosthetics or artificial limbs or something. I could do a lot with that pinch-grabby thing on my non-writing hand, and when it comes down to it, those dudes who run on those fake blade-legs look pretty damn cool.

So – if we don’t get the policy changed after 2 election cycles, I have a big decision to make – Lose an eye, and therefor binocular vision, or one of my remaining really popular appendages? Because, face it, in a market with just one hand, that one becomes much more than twice the value of one in a market where there’s two. I really need hand for doing the stuff I do – putting DVD’s into the player, jerking off, turning down the lights – so I guess I”ll give up a foot before the other hand.

Why, though? Why wouldn’t it be better to lose an eye, and learn to compensate as a full half-a-man, rather than lose the foot and have to either wobble on two blades or get crutches or a wheelchair or something? Maybe because if I lose the other foot, but I can still see really well, I’ll be competent enough to drive a wheelchair, and then I can enter wheelchair runs. I bet I couldn’t do that with only 1 eye and 1 leg. Poor depth perception, I’d probably run off the road into the ditch too many times.

Do kids these day even know what ditches are? Should they? Well, yes, they should, because it’s a thing around them. But do they really understand wha goes on in them? Hell, do I?

How did I get on this topic? Don’t think, don’t get logical. That’s how.

Would I survive the loss of a 4th element of my body just to vote? I’m guessing that by that time, if we haven’t had a large enough groundswell of voting and turnout and momentum to swing the legislature towards the “vote without blood” side, we probably won’t ever win, because by the fourth or fifth time, we’ll have enough people who’ll be like, “damn it, I lost both my eyes voting, I don’t want to let youngsters vote for free,” and so they’ll vote, but they’ll vote for the “pay to vote” candidates. Kind of like a fraternity – once you pay your dues, you don’t want to let freeloaders in. Does this develop a sort of social signaling system, whereby only those who have “sacrificed” in order to vote are viewed as committed enough to the cause to get the good-paying jobs, the management positions, the raises and bonuses? Man, that’s a weird world I have in my head. Hope nobody ever goes in there. They’d come out screaming in terror.

Writing Practice 2/4/2019

A lady in the streets, but a freak in the bed.

Miss Madame Margaret Marybelle Morton walked the thick-choked streets of London with her parasol in one hand, the other clutching her new purchase tightly beneath her elbow. The box wiggled occasionally, and with the jostling of the crowd she wished not to lose her grip and expose the contents to the onlookers, for the benefit of herself and them. That had happened before, and the terrified gasps that inevitably resulted not only pained her delicate ears, they also led to public shaming, ridicule, and required Miss Morton to leave the city. It had happened twice before, in both Admonton-on-Leeds and Shirshey, and now that she had established herself here in London, she hoped to avoid yet another uprooting.

Miss Morton threaded her way carefully, through the crowds, her parasol not only intended to keep the sun off her neck but also to ensure she fit in with this society. It sometimes bothered her that she was so different in so many ways, and yet such a feeling could be mollified by the appearance, such as now, in that group in public in which she simply looked like everyone else, and it was easy to believe that none of them were any the wiser.

She reacher he building after only about ten minutes’ walk from where she procured her purchase, and it had settled. Good. Perhaps the shock of uprooting and dumping into the box had worn off; that would make the next few minutes easier. Lady Morton had tried to teach her daughter other ways, but the younger had never really took to those, so… she must live like this.

In through the door with her key, up the three flights of stairs, inside the flat’s single locked door once again, and Miss Morton could finally drop the parasol and the accompanying charade. Off went the overcoat, off went the petticoat, and out came the fangs.

Miss Morton carried the box, with the squirming, living, breathing, now suddenly squealing rat into her bedroom. She had taken each and every stitch of clothing from her body and dropped them in the living room entryway, forgotten for the moment as her hungry mind lusted for its soon-to-be-feast. She gently closed the bedroom door and set the small box upon the duvet cover.

She knelt before it, feeling the softness of the sheets on her knees. With trembling hand she reach out and lifted the lid. The breath caught in her throat as she felt her stomach clench in wondrous anticipation. There it was – thick, brown, beady-eyed, a fine specimen.

She lifted the rat from the box and it squirmed, slightly, wrapping its tail around her wrist. It squealed, and she felt a smile creep across her face. The miniature claws scratched at thin air, and she placed her other hand near them, to let it rake against her palm. Would it draw blood? No, not this time. Just as well. She tightened her grip on the animal and brought it towards her face. She could smell its musk, dank, like the sewers, dark like the night. She inspected its back. The bite mark she’d left there in the shopkeep’s presence an hour earlier, her teeth-marks as she tested the goods, were still visible, the blood having dried in the two opposing crescents. She felt her smile widen even more. Miss Morton opened wide, turned to expose the soft underbelly, and began to get her freak on.

Movie Review – Sorry To Bother You

Warning – potential spoilers ahead. Maybe. If they come up. No guarantees or anything.

“Sorry To Bother You” is the debut project by a young filmmaker named Boots Riley. I know this because I listen to NPR, and the movie critic (Bob Mundello? I think that’s his name) had a review of this film a couple of months ago. Now that it’s available in Redbox, it’s right in my target price range for something only I would enjoy. So I picked it up, remembering that Bob was quite enamored with the opening premise.

In “Sorry”, the main character, Cassius Green (pun intended, I believe), played by Riley himself, is somewhat of a loser living with his girlfriend in his uncle’s garage. He needs money, so he hires on with a telemarketing firm. This is, of course, the alternative to signing up for the large conglomerate corporation that would provide guaranteed employment and guaranteed residence, for life, in exchange for essentially all freedoms. This idea of tradeoffs, of give and take, of options, is the essence of the movie. Cassius has traded his freedom for a job, and while at the job he will have to trade his identify for success.

Once Cassius begins his job, we experience what made Bob sit up and take notice. Instead of the traditional split-screen, we see Cassius physically transported to the locations where his call recipients are when they’re taking his call: in the kitchen, having sex on the couch, on the toilet in Japan. It’s an interesting bit of cinematography, because it gets quite on the nose about the phrase “sorry to bother you”, when, in fact, nobody who calls in the middle of dinner is actually sorry. Unfortunately, though, it’s a technique that remains underutilized throughout the remainder of the film.

“Sorry” eventually devolves into a preachy, “capitalism is the worst system, except for all the others” mode. We see the temptations of money, we see the idealism of the hero when he struggles but eventually does the right thing, we see the fawning admiration of the girlfriend when Cassius returns to the doldrums and risks himself for his friends and “comrades”. There’s also overt elements of race and class struggle, and class jealousy, and fear-mongering, and outright suspicion of “good things” anyway. All of these are pretty standard movie fare these days, so they aren’t a surprise.

You know what we don’t see? What we never see in a movie? Someone who sold out, took the money, and lived happily ever after. That’s what I want some time. I want to see one where the guy does the wrong thing, ends up rich as fuck, and just enjoys the hell out of life because, hey, YOLO. I’m tired of this ideal that everyone is going to put someone else’s needs before their own wants, and that all the greedy bastards are going to get their comeuppance. Because, frankly, it doesn’t happen that way. I guess that’s why we put it in the movies, because we want something different from the real world.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie, even though the timeline was forced, there were large illogicalities in the chain of events, and there were a few creepy scenes. I was a bit disappointed, though. The warning said it was rated R for pervasive and explicit sexuality throughout, and if that’s the definition of “pervasive”, then we’ll have to have a talk with the good people down at the MPAA. There was, what, one sex scene in which nobody was really naked, and there were a couple of other scenes in which some creepy human/animal hybrids were naked, but that wasn’t sexual, just … creepy.

I don’t know how to give stars for movies. If I’m forced to, I’ll say 4/5 stars. Because, as I mentioned, this was an incredible production for a debut. Hell, they even got Danny Glover! But I was ultimately left wanting that the premise, when Cassius physically transports to the locations he’s talking to, wasn’t used better in the climax. I think there was an opportunity there to make something really stand out, and “Sorry” just missed the mark.

Writing Practice 1/30/2019

Hippos

Hippos is a new playground game that is sweeping the nation. Somewhat like freeze tag, somewhat like blob tag, the idea of Hippos is to have one person who is “it”. This is a baby hippo, and when she runs around to catch someone else, they now join arms and become a teenage hippo. These two go around again, and once one of them tags a third, they’re an adult hippo. And they’re ready for more. The difference here is that once this group of three tags another child playing the game, that one does not join the Hippo. They become the new “baby” hippo and they can go around making new “young adult” and “mature” hippos.

The object of the game is to get everyone into a hippo group – to make everyone mature hippos. This way, the society will survive better. Because, the strange thing is, when you get down to just one or two people left who are not part of an adult hippo, they can become hunters. if they tag a pair of juveniles, then those juveniles will split apart again. They now are no longer hippos, but hunters. They then can search out other adults, split them up, and then soon all the adult hippos are gone. Eventually there is only one adult hippo. When that group is tagged by the hunters, the round is over. If they manage to last until the end of the game (to the end of recess, say, or to the end of daylight), then the next day they can play Hippos again, and all start over with a new population. If they do not, if the hunters end up killing all of the hippos, then they have nothing to do, and so they must all lay down on the ground, like they, too, died, so that they can experience the destitution which comes from overhunting.

It’s terribly fun for them and it produces an incredible response. The children quickly learn things like how to control the hippo population so it does not grow too quickly, too fast; how to manage the subsequent hunting actions, so that they do not drop levels below sustainability.

There are other layers that could be added in, such as resources, etc. These could be “reeds” that stand in the “river” that the hippos will eat. And, maybe, if the hippos, after they become an adult, have to “eat” a reed before they can go make another baby hippo. This could incite towards learning about resource management on top of population management.

I wonder if these should be an additional level add in, maybe some kinds of natural disasters (maybe the teacher / guide blows a whistle randomly and the hippos lose half their population or something, but the hunters don’t go away, not get offer fast {huh?} or maybe there is always a hunter, always waiting to see if they can keep the hippo population from growing too large. Maybe there’s a point for this. Or, maybe, kids can just play a game for fun, and have that be the reason, that they’re playing. I like that. I think I’ll stick with that one.

It’s just a game. Just for fun. But it would be fund to watch, amirite?

I Believe…

Writing Practice 1/24/2019: I believe…

I believe in the kingdom come. I believe U2 was at its best in the eighties, before they got successful band syndrome. It’s okay, it happens to all of those people who get “successful”. They now have less reason to pursue their artistry and craft than they did when they were broke and absolutely needed to pursue it at all coasts, in order to eat. That kind of pressure that kind of process weeds out those who don’t believe in their message as much; it keeps them from getting complacent, until, eventually, there is so much abundance around them that thye forget the passions that drove them to and through those situations and spaces.

I believe that diamonds are not all girls’ best friends. Oh, sure. Sometimes they are an individual girl’s best friend, because they represent something larger in society, they represent wealth, and with wealth comes status, and with status comes privilege, and princessship, and servants to supply your every demand, and all that Jazz which, apparently, everyone wants.

I believe that their are footprints on the moon. Though that’s not much of a “believe” as an acceptance of fact. There really are footprints there, and pictures to prove it. I guess the belief is that I believe the pictures are not changed, faked, doctored in any way.

I believe that is the way of the world – that this, too, this process of free writing and rewriting and changing your mind halfway through is what gets us there. We are on a journey. The farthest journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, is the old adage. But it doesn’t stop there. It continues. It continues as you move forward, keep going, second step, third, fourth, fifth, tenth, twentieth, thirtieth, and suddenly (well, not suddenly, gradually, we’re not wearing Seven League Boots here) you’ve gone a mile. And after a time, two.

The value comes in going mile five hundred and one, when you’re tired and cold, and bored, and staying someplace warm, with a soft bed and a fireplace and some good company to tell you jokes in the evening as you sit, communal, gathered around the fire and smoking a pipe and enjoying the atmosphere and the community and the “feel” of the place; if you, too, become successful in that moment you will forget your journey, you will stop and stay, you will just be there, you will not finish.

__You will not end well.

____You will not overcome.

So the win, the completion, the culmination of the thousand mile journey is tho the easy part of the first step. and it is not the easy part of the last ten, twenty, eighty-seven miles. You conquer that journey when you are in the middle, faced with a decision.

–Stay?

—-Or go?

How you answer determines your fate. Choose wisely. For each future has consequence.