Archive for November, 2008

Fixing Franchises

As a self-disrespecting geek, one thing above all things angers me to no end; that being the slow death of very good franchises. The most prominent example of this would be the Star Wars line. While most of us still have a soft (maybe, wet) spot for the original – and some lurking respect for the third prequel – we can all agree that George Lucas anally raped his own creation with an acid-lubed power drill. Being a writer, and/or someone involved in the filmic arts, some of us wince in even deeper agony.

 

One thought escapes us as we view the cinematic abortion through tear-stained spectacles, “I could’ve done better.”

 

While that may not be true in actuality, in our minds we believe a masterpiece could be crafted by our own hand.

 

I’m no different.

 

While I can’t think of any particular way to save the plummeting air-whale that is Star Wars, I do have suggestions for the creators of other ailing franchises, even those that have already concluded. I present to you three franchises I believe I could resuscitate given time, money, effort, and my own private harem.

 

Behold…

 

The Matrix

 

It’s pretty clear to most of us that the Brothers Wachowski never intended The Matrix to be a trilogy. Or if they did, they compressed said trilogy into the first movie. The first installment is a testament to Campbellian hero-epic storytelling at its finest. Wrought with action, pathos, and philosophy, it stands as a near-perfect example of what the cyberpunk sub-genre could’ve offered if given room to breathe.

 

Unfortunately, they spawned two sequels that were pale crack-whores in comparison. Granted, the action scenes were good, there were some surprises, and seeing Agent Smith sneer again was indeed a treat. But they felt like useless appendages on an otherwise perfect form, like a penis on a parrot…or something.

 

I mean, the main character became a god. How do you follow that up?

 

Here’s how…

 

First off, Neo should no longer be the main character. He should be a peripheral one. Okay, that’s near impossible given the Power That Is Keanu, but from a storytelling angle, Neo’s role is finished. The more interesting aspect of the Matrix-verse wasn’t him anyway. It was the background characters. The little guys, the underdogs, the Tanks, the Trinities, the programs! Move the Minor Leaguers to the Majors!

 

The most fascinating new addition made to the Matrix sequels was the rogue element, the independent programs that escaped reboot; Merovingian, Persephone, the Twins, and all the others that the Oracle stated were the source of modern-day vampire myths et al. I believe as Harry Knowles (of Ain’t It Cool News fame) does, that this plot thread was under-utilized. Thankfully, I have a way it could’ve been.

 

Get this…

 

Humans weren’t happy with the machines, but – at the same time – nor were some machines!

 

Rogue programs, the Oracle, and others of their ilk were proof of this. If the odds seemed stacked against humankind, with Neo along or not, what else could be done? Der! Side with the rogue element! Sew the seeds of dissent from within! Machine Civil War!

 

Maybe it’s just me, but that would’ve been damn cool. Agents vs. vampires and werewolves. Merovingian lackeys going ape-shit on suits. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t have garnered a “Fuck yeah!” from the audience.

 

It would’ve put a new meaning to the term Matrix Revolutions.

 

Star Trek

 

Oh, what to say about this floundering beast. Nothing has captured the imagination of geeks worldwide more than the adventures of a two-prong-dish-spoon-shaped ship and its alien whore-hound of a captain. Kirk and Co. were the epitome of cool from the 1960s and on; killing off red-shirted underlings, fornicated with really foreign women, and shooting first before making inquiries. Pulp sci-fi at its best. Okay, sure, there were some “morals” and “messages” laced somewhere in the paper-machet planet backdrops, but who wants to hear about those anyway?

  

Nothing was wrong with it. Sure, it was cheap looking. Sometimes the acting was stilted, but it was fun to watch. The bread and butter of sci-fi – to me, anyway – is Fun.

 

Fast-forward to the 80s and 90s. Gene Roddenberry decided to give the ol’ bird a second lease on life – new crew, new captain, new cracker-jack adventures. As an audience, it took us three years to buy into the new wave of interstellar travelers, but we grew to like the second child. Something happened mid-stream, though.

 

Gene Roddenberry died.

 

The task of helming his original creation fell upon a mildly Satanic looking fellow by the name of Rick Berman. None of us suspected anything at first. It was like being married. We didn’t know our spouse was a raving psychopath in the beginning, but as the years went by they got more and more…contemptible.

 

There was a spin-off.

 

Then another.

 

Then another.

 

And so on…and so forth.

 

After awhile, the audience breathed an impatient sigh, followed by a collective, “We don’t love you anymore.”

 

Rick Berman may be gone from the franchise now, but his stale fart-stench still hangs in the air. The proposed reboot of the series, while in the hands of the mostly-competent J.J. “Lost” Abrams, still has the stink of sucktasticism. Hell, the new series will deal with time travel. Time travel! Like that hasn’t already been done!?! What could possibly alleviate this potential train-wreck?

 

My answer? Change the emphasis. 

 

Star Trek has always focused on one thing, humans in space. Humans being peace-mongers in space, more to the point. That doesn’t quite fly in this day and age. Maybe in the 60s, but it’s an outdated (and outmoded) brand of ideology now. The answer lies in the aliens. The other denizens that populate the Trek milieu. 

 

The answer is Klingons.

 

Specifically, not Klingons in space. Let’s look at this fictional race for a moment. What are they? Well, the best way to describe them to a Lay person would be…um…

 

German-spouting Mongols with Scottish dispositions.

 

Yeah, that about covers it.

 

The most interesting aspect of these bumpy-headed barbarians wasn’t their prowess with pistols, or their harrowing starship helming, rather their swords! We didn’t care much about their society, or honor-based rules, as much they instilled a reaction of “Dude! They have swords!” Geeks and sword fetishism go way back. If you don’t believe me, go to a Ren Fair. Seriously.

 

So, we’ve established that Klingons – from a geek perspective – are cool. Bar none. Swords are also, by proxy, cool. Spaceships, yeah, those are cool too, but not entirely necessary. The solution is obvious.

 

Medieval Klingons!

 

This is an aspect of the Trek mythos that hasn’t been fully explored. The legends of Klingon lore have been alluded to time and again, but we’ve never seen flashes of a sword-and-sorcery, blood-drenched, Conan-esque landscape. I want that!

 

Here’s how I would do it, and – yes – for you shoot-em-up sci-fi nuts there’d even be spaceships. One thousand years prior to the current Trek timeline, it was mentioned that the fledgling (and still planet-bound) Klingon Empire was invaded by an alien nemesis called the Hur’q (Klingon word meaning “Outsider”). It was also mentioned that the Klingons “killed their gods over a thousand years ago.” What if the Hur’q were their gods? And what if the Klingons rebelled against this alien occupying force?

 

There you have it. Instant movie! Happy geeks! Aaand it wouldn’t disrupt the continuity (or lack thereof) of the current installations.

 

Highlander

 

This portion of the entry will be short because there really isn’t much to explain about this franchise. The plot is about as deep as used diaphragm. Here’s the basic rundown:

 

There are a bunch of dudes (and dudettes) that live forever. The only way they can be killed is if their heads are cut off. If an everlasting dude cuts off the head of another everlasting dude, then the cutter-dude has a Giant Electric Orgasm!

  

I’m…not…joking. That’s the plot.

 

You basically have a bunch of hack-happy immortal fuckers crossing the globe trying to poke holes in each other. Small confession? If cutting off some dude’s head could give me a Giant Electric Orgasm…I might be tempted to. Alright, alright, that’s not fair. It isn’t really a Giant Electric Orgasm. They call it a “quickening”, and it’s the life essence and experience of the immortal killed. Wait…that sounds exactly like a Giant Electric Orgasm! I take that back.

 

Wow, I totally digressed.

 

For the record, the first Highlander was a decent movie. Not earth-shattering but decent. For some ungodly reason, it spawned four sequels, two television series’, a cartoon show, and an anime. The question is…how?!? The story ended with the first movie! The Scottish guy (played by a French guy) killed the last immortal. He was it. He won the Giga-Uber-Giant Electric Orgasm. Wheeee! Go Scotty-Frenchy dude!

 

So, why did it spawn so many butt-babies?

 

Blame the French.

 

For some reason, the French thought it was a dandy concept, then some retarded monkey thought it an even dandier idea to resuscitate the comatose prostitute for another party. However, instead of logically retelling the story, he decided to pick up where the first movie left off. Forgetting the fact that the first movie finitely wrapped up the entire story! The sequel featured aliens! YAY! The McGuffin of all McGuffins!

 

As you can tell, that didn’t go over so well.

 

But wait! It gets better! They made a third movie that disregarded the second! All the while airing a television series that didn’t follow the sequels at all! The only aspect of canon that any of these mutants could agree on was that the first movie was their jumping point. Finally, the television series finally put itself to rest…only to be reanimated again as a fourth cinematic installment that – in true fuck-up fashion – disregarded all previous sequels, yet considered the television series as true canon.

 

Then there was the cartoon, the anime, the fifth (and bloody final) movie…yadda…yadda…yadda.

 

It’s a mess.

  

How could one possibly repair this monstrosity?


Honestly, I don’t think there’s much to repair. As mentioned prior, the first movie was “fair” at best. Damn enjoyable, but not a masterpiece by any stretch. The one rule o’ thumb that all the installments shared was that the first movie was The Grail. This would have to change to even consider continuing this bloated beast.

 

Start fresh.

 

One thing the installments tried to do at one point or another was draw upon actual historical (or mythical) events and bring them into the story’s fold. They warped it badly, but they were on the right track. The answer lies with mythology. Think on it a second, then hear me out.

 

All mythical traditions speak of people that live forever. The Chinese had the Taoist Immortals, Sumerians had Utnapishtim, Christianity had the Wandering Jew and the Centurion. How about, instead of inventing new immortals, deal with ones that have already been documented! They are far more fascinating than some blank-eyed Scotsman (played by a French guy) following a Spaniard (played by a Scotsman)!

 

And get rid of the Giant Electric Orgasm.

 

Unless you seriously mean to turn it into a porn, just don’t use it.

 

Hrm…no wonder the Frenchies liked it so much.

 

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Sunday, November 30th, 2008 Musings 2 Comments

“Brunch with Phantoms” – A Novel Synopsis

Flashback to around the same time last year, I was bit of a jaded prick to be around. The year prior had left me a bit of a bitter husk of a geek. The culprits were a series of people I’d associated with online that turned out to be less than they seemed. Much less. They didn’t even exist.

People had gone through the trouble of not only creating fake personae online, but creating complicated backstories to them. It was like an RPG, but some fuckhead forgot to tell me I was a player or provide me with the necessary d20s. What’s worse is that it isn’t the first time I ran across forgeries. Over the course of ten years, the tally was well with in the double-digits. 06-07 simply took the cake for Most Amount of Fake Fucks. At the end of those exhausting episodes, I came up with the perfect name for them.

Either I was just stupid or gullible, I couldn’t decide which. Worse off, I wasn’t entirely sure how I could justify the time spent courting these mythical maidens. A buddy of mine was equally as jaded, having encountered a couple himself. What could posses someone to do that? And how can one redeem themselves for getting involved with them. Then I had it.

I’d write about them!

In October of ’07, Brunch with Phantoms was concocted. The first time I came up with the idea, I test-drove the pitch with another female friend over whiskey-infused tea. (I don’t recommend it.) She seemed to like it. Then I spoke of it to others. It was different than my other ideas. It didn’t involve zombies, kung fu strippers, spaceships, or space fungi named Fred.

What did I do after that? I sat on it for a year. It gathered dust in the back of my mind as everyday life distracted me. Blogs gained a foothold over my writing output. Stories came a distant second. The ideas kept coming, but none really bit hard enough to get me moving. When I concocted an idea called Life to a Tea, the “phantom women” also demanded to be heard once more.

I listened to them.

Premise

Raymond Elkins plans a gathering with six women he has known for the past year. Most don’t know of each other. None know the reason for the meet-and-greet. He gathers all of them at his favorite Victorian-style tea place for brunch. A couple of them are the brunch-ish sort. The rest, not so much. Over the course of the noon hour – as the six trickle in – they relate stories of how they know the host and/or how they relate to each other. As they do, their stories unfold.

Main Characters

Raymond Elkins:

Age: 24

He is the protagonist, and basically like the author. A few differences, though, are prevalent. He’s not a sci-fi fan, for one. Truth be told, he’s more “average” than “geek”. He is 24 and a recent college graduate. Some have told him he’s a gifted poet, but he chooses to ignore this as a viable road of discovery. Personality wise, he’s reserved, overly cautious, cynical, and analytical. However, he has been praised for having a penchant for self-sacrifice, loyalty, and a dry sense of wit. Against his wishes, he’s also the proverbial “glue” to his offbeat circle of friends. He has two roommates, Clara Parks and Samir Ali Khan.

Samuel Mallory:

Age: 24

An old high school friend of Ray’s – a closet tech nerd who hides behind a “pretty boy” veneer. He comes across as smug, self-centered, and smarmy. In reality, once the douche-y facade subsides, he can be quite charismatic. He is currently in school, earning an Masters in Business. On the side, he runs a homespun travel agency website. Due to his longstanding friendship with the protagonist, both exhibit a sibling-like rivalry. Raymond, though, appears to be unaware of the competition. Oftentimes, it involves women.

Clara Parks:

Age: 23

Clara can best be described as a recovering wild child, but a very skeptical one. Where most of her ilk have their heads in the clouds, here nimbus is particularly dark. She is shrewd, calculating, but surprisingly aloof. She also has more walls up than a barge bulkhead. Once someone reaches her mushy interior persona, though, they’ll never leave. Her devotion to her friends is without equal. That especially goes for her best friend, a dopey pet St. Bernard named Egan. (Yes, after the Ghost Buster.) By night, she is a goth club cage dancer; by day, a nursing student. She has known Ray and Sam since high school, but didn’t consider them friends until after.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sam and Clara are not based on anyone in particular. The characters were created roughly ten years ago for another set of stories, along with Ray. However, the roles they fill in this book are in substitution of actual people.)

The Phantom Women

Oasis Rousseau:

Age: 22

Oasis is an enigma. At 22, a college graduate, a teacher, a multiple homeowner, an accomplished cook, and an Internet radio phenom. If ever the title of “Renaissance Woman” applied to a single person, it would be her. She is the very embodiment of selflessness and self-sacrifice. Her sense of humor could best be described as slapstick and esoteric. While she may come across as innocent and naive, in reality she is more worldly than the average twentysomething-er. Within her tiny traditional frame, beats the heart of a liberal forward thinker. Oasis abhors her affluent upbringing and her strict father, yet adores all those close to her. If someone has a story to tell, she’ll shake off everyone else to hear how it ends. She’s also a bit of a clean-freak. She owns two beagles: Virgina and Woolf.

Origin: The girl that Oasis is based on I encountered on Myspace in January of ’06. For one outlandish reason or another, meetings got postponed by her. In April of that year, I suspected she was a fake. After some pleading and angry retorts from a “friend” of hers, I recanted and re-added her. It was on-and-off ever since. I finally stopped writing in April of ’08. However, recently, I received a birthday e-mail from her. I’m almost 75% certain she doesn’t exist. Even though her supposed hippie fiance is spread all over Google. Maybe that’s fake too. I’m not certain.

Madison “Maddie” Ayres:

Age: 25

The direct opposite of Oasis, Maddie is uncouth, ill-tempered, unsophisticated, and crass. Some might even say she’s simplistic. Despite her obvious chainsmoking outward presence, she can show a surprising amount of sharpness. How she and Oasis became best friends is a mystery. She has difficulty holding jobs, goes through men like toilet paper (she uses them), and has an odd obsession with sandwiches. She is also fiercely protective of Oasis, sometimes even taking on the role of bodyguard. Well, when she’s not passed out drunk.

Origin: Maddie is based directly on Oasis’s real right-hand woman. Believe it or not, I talked with this one more than I did Oasis, which is why I put the Oasis story from her point of view most of the time. I finally proved her lack of existence when I typed in her old e-mail address into Facebook, it came up with a “Lauren Chayne” from Salt Lake City or something. Not the person I was talking to.

Mireille Bristow:

Age: 24

Transplanted from Quebec, Canada, this half-Irish ex-pat stems from a rich upbringing. Shirking her duties as heir to a resort chain, she moved to the U.S. to pursue a career as a classical pianist. She eventually shrugged it off to study Law. When not immersed in legal theory, she updates a blog about unique beverages. To the untrained eye, she appears docile, polite, and amiable. Only the last two are true. Behind the primped smile lies a feisty female, a patient one at that. Her temper may be a slow burn, but when it shows, it leaves a mark.

Origin: Mireille is actually a fusion of four different phantom women – an 18-year-old French woman I encountered back in ’96 (but was probably, in reality, much younger), a 20-year-old hypochondriac I e-met in ’98, a Canadian I “iCourted” in ’07, and a beer fan I chatted with in ’07 as well. I never knew the four of them well enough to make them separate characters, so I stuck ’em in a blender set on puree. And, thus, Mireille was conceived.

Pamela Laird:

Age: 23

Pam came from a close-knit family, one that chose to remain distinctly urban and uptown. When she was old enough, she rebelled from this; choosing a life of solitude in the country. Okay, not exactly country. She still remained within spitting distance of the city, but just shy of the urban growth boundary. She took her trust fund and purchased a small cottage on an acre plot of land, content to remain a hermit. Part of this maneuver was to stave off the hustle and hassle of a fast-paced lifestyle, the other was her health. Her lungs were weak; pulmonary fibrosis. Stress, anxiety, pollution, cigarette smoke; all prevented her from maintaining a normal social life. She puts on a strong front – that of a solitary figure – but she yearns for more. Her relationships are often one-sided, investing herself more than her partner. She is a freelance web designer and telecommutes.

Origin: This one pissed me off the most. She actually surfaced the year after I met the Oasis-basis (hey, that rhymed!). Over the course of a few months, she cozeyed up to my real friends in an attempt to gain favor. Reasons she used for not meeting up ranged from sick family members to incurable diseases. Finally, after a brief hiatus, I said I would go down to visit her…in Klamath Falls. The address she gave me was to a trailer park/golf course, and she left a voicemail (voice disguised to act like a friend) saying she wouldn’t be making it. $200 trip!

Oh well, I got to see Crater Lake out of the deal.

Friday Spencer:

Age: 23

Born Freya Spencer, this stubborn redhead decided to change her name as an April Fools Day prank on her parents. Unfortunately for her, the name stuck. As a young girl, she was a bit of a tomboy; unrefined and underdeveloped. She didn’t come into her own physically until late in high school, by then, though, she was too far gone. Like “one of the boys”, she dated women. It wasn’t until college that she decided that men weren’t half-bad either. She also couldn’t decide which she preferred. As a result, her relationships were often shallow and open. She partied hard, but kept to herself. Wine flowed freely, but she never freed herself completely. Her true love was culinary pursuits, and she sharpened her skills (and knives) to become a highly-honed poissonier. She found her soulmate in an exact opposite, a woman with her “free love” attitude…but without the braggart. Friday is unorganized, boyish, prone to carousal (of either genders), but capable of unparalleled focus and determination.

Candice Fane:

Age: 26

Friday’s live-in “girlfriend”, a wedding planner by trade. While she wears the moniker of a practicing bisexual, her preference lies with women. She identifies herself as a “lipstick”. Where Friday is loud and rambunctious, Candice is calm and collected. She is also the one who cleans up after Friday’s messes, both within and without the household. Overnight prison fees, notwithstanding. She tolerates their open relationship, but hopes that Friday will come around to a more exclusive longterm arrangement. Occasionally, out of spite, she will find her way into the arms of another woman, but with strict guidelines and timetables – dating by dayplanner. Only Friday is exempt from her Rolodex relationship approach.

Origin: Both Friday and Candice have the same origin story. I encountered Friday in August of ’07. It was a random Myspace add. She seemed fun, cute, and quirky. My favorite! She was also really named after a day of the week, hence the moniker. I was introduced to her “girlfriend” around the same time, as well as friends of friends. One of them was a Canadian (1/4th the basis for Mireille). About three months in, I got an e-mail from the real Canadian stating the one I had on my friends list was a fake. It turns out she was a popular blogger in Vancouver. The day the Canadian’s profile vanished, so did Friday, Candice, and the rest of their friends.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across the Candice and Friday templates again. Their stories were slightly different, their star signs were changed, and so were their ages. Now they’re from Washington, DC.

Yeesh.

Tacey Jetters:

Age: 22

A recent graduate from nursing school, Tacey quickly landed a lucrative RN placement at a skilled neonatal facility. She is bright, often cheerful, and demonstrates a remarkable work ethic. Behind the staunch professionalism lies a dark vulnerability, however. A history of abuse looms in the shadows of her psyche. Also present is a family history of paranoid schizophrenia. She gravitates towards domineering and abusive men since that’s all she’s known. If she enters a relationship where none of these traits are present, she subconsciously invents a reason. The delusion of an abusive ex hunting her sometimes manifests. She is in denial of her fragile mental state.

Origin: I never dealt with this one personally. That “honor” goes to a friend of mine, which is why she’s a Sam story. The excuse she used for skirting a meet-up with said friend was an abusive ex. That and later pics she forwarded to him were shady at best. Horrible photoshopping. Using a bit of tracking software, my friend was able to determine that said woman was actually a 35-year-old mother of two in Estecada, OR.

Basic Outline

Prelude: “The Dual-ing Ms”

Setting: Victorian-style Tearoom

– featuring Maddie and Mireille

First Shade: “Human Soup”

Subject: A dinner party thrown by Friday and Candice

– featuring Ray, Sam, Mireille, Tacey, Clara, Friday and Candice.

Interlude: “The String-Along Quartet”

Setting: Tearoom

– featuring Mireille, Maddie…and the arrival of Candice and Friday

Second Shade: “A Woman Scorned”

Subject: Sam and Tacey’s relationship

– featuring Sam, Tacey, Clara and Ray

Interlude: “Five Cards, No Stud”

Setting: Tearoom

– featuring Mireille, Maddie, Friday, Candice…and now Pamela

Third Shade: “Turn a Cheek, Kiss the Other”

Subject: Pamela and Ray’s relationship

– featuring Ray, Pamela, Sam and Clara

Interlude: “Six Degrees of Celebration”

Setting: Tearoom

– featuring Mireille, Maddie, Friday, Candice, Pamela…and finally Oasis

Last Shade: “The Delivered One”

Subject: Ray and Oasis’s relationship

– featuring Ray, Oasis, and Maddie

Postlude: “As You Will It”

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Saturday, November 29th, 2008 Prose No Comments

Painting the Dark Lady

I’m going to say July never happened. Is that allowed? Can I call it a ret-con? I think that’s my right. Moving sucked. Work sucked. Looking for new work (still) sucks.

Of course, this is all redundant. Even with the fecal ferocity of events that made up the midsummer night’s “squeam”, I do have to pay homage to the brighter wing beats from the bat outta Hell. Small and insignificant, though they may seem, they resound with the strength of a butterfly’s flight. Hurricanes form with their very finite flutter. I won’t see the storm soon, but the tide will come – a monsoon of melody. Pandora’s hope, it ain’t, but it panders to my quasi-creative grasp nonetheless.

And it all began by reading a book.

Small confession, I wasn’t a reader until late in my childhood. Illiterate until 7, barely cogent with the written word until the 3rd grade, I skimmed by. Not for lack of smarts, but rather lack of motivation. I admit to my shitty studiousness. Book reports up until then were an exercise in futility. If a shortcut existed, I took it. Then I encountered a nemesis I couldn’t counter, a hard-ass of an English teacher. He expected a detailed synopsis on a novel of our choosing.

I was screwed.

Before the childhood migration to Oregon, my Dad had left me some of his old sci-fi novels. Among them were titles I’d never heard of, though that wasn’t saying much. I knew of very few authors to begin with. These rang even less of a bell than usual. The one I picked up first showed a picture of a bald, mustachioed man in mid-melee with a bipedal bat-type creature. The title was Tales of the Galactic Midway: The Wild Alien Tamer, the second in a series of four by Mike Resnick.

The book blurb stated it was about a circus in space, and the installment revolved around a man and an alien who formed an unlikely partnership by duking it out in the ring. From the looks, it sounded uninteresting. But I was in need of a book and didn’t feel like looking too hard. With a shrug, I removed it from the box and plugged away at the pages. My eyes widened. I saw the word “fuck” in print.

To a chronic potty-mouther, this was a revelation. A word deemed a death sentence of detention was smack-dab in the middle of a novel. Enamored beyond imagining, my glee seeped through my drudging lit level. I turned the page and kept right on turning. Other epithets made themselves known to me, ones I hadn’t heard before as well. A reader was born by way of curse word.

Exploring my Dad’s garage on one of my routine Cali visits, I came across another novel by Resnick entitled Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future. By junior high, I’d polished off a good five or six of his books including the rest of the Midway series. The new space opera before me had escaped my notice. My Dad summarized and called it “excellent”. I gave it a go. The only way I could describe it was equal parts sci-fi, western, myth, and tall tale, all rolled into a tightly-written package.

My love of genre-confused fiction was already prevalent. My favorite movies by this point in my life weren’t easily pegged by one solid label. Buckaroo Banzai, Krull, Big Trouble in Little China, they all possessed a little piece of everything. A wide-eyed geek was born from repeated viewings of these, and to add a novel with the same qualities further solidified it. Upon completion of Wild Alien Tamer, I toyed with the notion of being a writer. By the end of Santiago, I was one.

As the years piled on, I thought I perfected my craft. I used Resnick as my writing template. My command of dialogue was competent – clay-like in its solidity – and my characters were somewhat fleshed out. No one could call me great at the written word, but somewhere along the way I considered “Moi” the cat’s meow. That ego self-fellating didn’t last long. A wake-up call came in 11th grade. Someone called me on my bullshit; a teacher.

Their prognosis of my penmanship was thus: “You have a tendency to overwrite. Your poetry is solid, but your prose is rather weak.”

Heartbroken but stubborn, I chose to discard their assessment of my “gift”. How could they know? They were teachers, not an ink-stained quill-licker such as I! Okay, I wasn’t much of one either, but try telling that to a high schooler with a case of the cockies.

The only opinion that mattered to me – in regards to writing – was my father’s. After all, he introduced me to the writings of Resnick, so he was a better judge of such things. Early on in my attempts at storytelling, he conceded that I may have a talent. His nod of approval fueled my elitism until I was 23.

When I went away to Reno for college, the professorship came to a similar conclusion as teachers past. My writing was glib at best, rushed at worst. I brushed these judgments off with a “pishaw” and “poppycock”, or a well-placed middle finger if the situation called for it. I-if they weren’t looking, that is.

Then my dear ol’ Pa said something that finally cast a kink in the ego-armor, “Some of it’s pretty good, but your dialogue needs work.”

From there, I finally began to doubt my prowess with the pen. What did I have to show for the last decade of self-declared scholarship. Answer? Not much. The longest piece I wrote was seventy pages, unfinished. In my portfolio? Five or so completed, two-thirds of which were crap and/or in dire need of a rewrite. In the writing classes I took, I skated by with substandard papers and last-minute queries. The culmination of my college life, a big-whoppin’ “C” earned by the skin of my teeth. Any new revelations I took away regarding writing never came from a class, but from other better writers; those with a novel or two under their belts.

Yet I still chose to wear the moniker, for what else did I have to show the world? There were signs of a possible gift hidden beneath the dreck produced up until now. I never fully gave up, but I never committed to it either. Writing and I were friends with benefits, a physical manifestation but not an ephemeral one. And the malaise carried through until the present.

Earlier this July, a friend of mine and I bummed around the Powell’s Books in Beaverton. It smelled of scholastic pursuits – a combination of Central Air, dust, leather and paper. And perhaps patchouli from an employee or two. My friend went for the Koontz section, whereas I gravitated to my sci-fi standby. Every once in awhile I perused the shelves of a bookstore for a Resnick I hadn’t read. Most of the time, I came up empty. Not this day. Nestled between his Widowmaker and Kirinyaga (both of which were utter crap) was some old school Resnick, one I hadn’t read. The book was The Dark Lady: A Romance of the Far Future. A used copy for $2.95? Damn right I was getting it!

I started it in the wee hours of that night without sleeping a wink, and finished it around noon the following day. Polishing off an eyeful of the last page, closing the book, I let off a sigh of “Wow.” The story without spoiling anything was thus:

Throughout time, a woman appeared to men, and they were inspired to paint her image. Several paintings and statues, dating back as far as Sumeria, captured her beautiful yet sad likeness. At times she was portrayed as a Goddess or a royal princess, other times a normal maiden. Each time the expression was the same, melancholy and longing. The tradition carried on even after Mankind had reached the stars.

A group of men, and one alien, sought to unravel the mystery of “The Dark Lady”, and her motivation for searching out certain men – risk-takers on the fringe who later met an untimely end. Was she an Angel of Death, an immortal, an alien herself, or something more? What was she after? And what inspired men to capture her timeless expression? They didn’t know.

I shan’t spoil the answer. All that need be said is it struck a chord…and hard. I remembered what I was supposed to do.

I remember saying, long ago, that my goal was to shock and awe a 6th grader in the manner that I was introduced to Resnick. My brother recently told me that the best approach to use when writing is to dive into it head-on. “Balls to the wall,” he put it. Dad reminded me that in order to be a writer, “Writers have to write.” One of my bosses said, “As a writer, you need to leverage your time.”

Tonight, I’m up late putting fingers to keys. Alas, not to write fiction, but at least I’m writing. As to what I plan to put out first to make a name for myself with, I have no bloody clue. Perhaps I’ll dust off the kung fu strippers, the surreal unstuck-in-time town, or the (literally) star-crossed lovers. I haven’t decided. All I know is that I have a portrait to paint, one of a yearning that is bittersweet…and a long time in coming.

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Saturday, November 29th, 2008 Musings 3 Comments

Kung Fu Kabaret

“Can I take the blindfold off now?” Killian asked.

“Not yet,” Duane replied. “Almost there.”

Floods of voices surrounded Killian Thorpe as he was led to someplace his frat friend swore he’d never been. The hippie hip-hop stylings of MC Coos Coos Criminal blared from many angles around him, cleansing him of an irritating pop song stuck in his head. However, he viewed this change as a lesser of two evils. New age gangsta rap or boy bands, which was worse? He could not decide.

“If we’re in a club, I’m gonna kill you,” Killian said.

“Dude, this ain’t no club,” Duane laughed. His voice edged nearer as he applied fingers to Killian’s clothed temples. “Tada!”

The blindfold fell away to a dimly-lit, neon-laden speakeasy of a joint lined with tables and booth couches. Four semicircle stages jutted out of the four corners of the establishment. A geodesic cove in the wall adjacent to the main stage housed an Asian DJ at the controls of many turntables. Several metal bars lined the ceiling like an upside-down jungle gym. All of this was secondary to the main draw of the place. Women. Topless women. Lots of them. All of which were arrayed in themed costumes of one sort or another. The ones currently on the four stages were dressed in Scottish tartans.

“Happy Twenty-First!” Duane shouted.

Killian gulped. “Oooooh no.”

“Oooooh yes!” Duane said, patting his back. “Women, my man!”

“I can’t be here,” Killian replied as his lips thinned.

“Why not? It’s your birthday.” Duane plopped himself down in a chair. “Time to take a break; bask in some T & A.”

“That’s got nothing to do with it.”

“Then what it is?” Duane asked

“I-I c-can’t be around…women,” Killian said.

“You’re twenty-one, man!” Duane shouted. “Grow up!”

“I told you I’m gynophobic!”

“Er…no you’re not,” Duane propped his feet on the table, withdrew a cigarette, and lit the tip with a phallus-shaped Zippo.

“Then what do you call these?” Thorpe screamed, pointing at his neck. Red mounds dotted the base of it.

“Zits?”

“No! They’re hives!” Thorpe explained. “I get hives when I’m around large amounts of estrogen.”

“Is that even possible?” Duane squinted as he looked closer.

“Yes!”

A thick voice broke in from behind them. “Gentlemen, welcome to Club Canaan, the only burlesque house in town.”

The source of the Slavic baritone came from a barrel-chested man dressed in what Thorpe assumed was Renaissance attire – pantaloons, odd platform shoes, a velveteen vest, and a curled wig dyed magenta. If Shakespeare had been on mushrooms while writing King Lear, the Fool would’ve looked like this.

“Hey, nice place ya got here,” Duane grinned. “What’re your lapdance specials?”

“Lapdance?”

“Yeah, lapdance,” Duane repeated.

“C-cant be here…so c-cold…t-too many.” Killian curled up into a fetal ball in one of the seats.

“I know nothing of this ‘lapdance’ you speak of. What is it?” the fluorescent fool asked Duane.

“You don’t know what a lapdance is? What kinda tit bar is this?”

“This is no ‘teat bar’. This is a burlesque house!” the large man intoned again with a goateed smile.

“Tell me you at least have booths.” Duane scratched at his forehead.

“Booths?” the man looked at him strangely again.

Killian rasped. Trickles of blood dribbled from his nostrils.

He couldn’t get Duane’s attention while he was fixated on educating the host. “Yeah, private booths y’know?”

“Ooooh, private rooms!” the Fool’s smile beamed larger. “We have those.”

Duane nodded at Killian who was rocking back and forth with his knees up to his face. “Now we’re getting somewhere. How much?”

“Depends on what play you want performed,” was the response.

“Play?”

“Yes, play. Marlowe, Stoppard, Wylde, or good ol’ reliable Moliere, our girls do it all.”

Duane sighed. “Nevermind, just bring the waitress over so we can get some beers.”

“Certainly! And if you need anything else, just ask for me, Piz Miyov,” the large man bowed. “I am the proprietor of Club Canaan. Your satisfaction is my only concern.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Piz skipped off and shouted, “Wench! Table thirteen!”

“Damn, what a bummer,” Duane said.

Killian wiped the crimson from his nose. “Can we go now?”

“No, I already paid our cover. We might as well enjoy what there is.”

“I told you already, I can’t be here. Look,” Killian put his blood-caked fingers in front of Duane. “I’m bleeding already.”
“You’re not bleeding because of that,” Duane said. “You’re stressing yourself out over nothing. Now sit back and try to enjoy yourself.”

Killian groaned. Of all the days his friend tried to get him out of the dorms, it had to be during a Seventies kung fu marathon on the Action channel. When he wasn’t doing homework, he was watching old chop-socky films. All the masters were being represented – Tsui Hark, Yuen Woo-Ping, the Shaw Brothers. Performers such as Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Sonny Chiba, all were in their fighting glory. Yet here he was, surrounded by modified mammaries in various stages of buoyancy.

The heavily accented voice of DJ Tofu boomed over the fading hip-hop score as the saline-induced dancers exited the various stages. “Put your hands together for the McGregor Girls, and their interpretive performance of the Battle of Falkirk! You can only find them here at the only burlesque house that guarantees you great feasts for the eyes, mind and body. Coming up are four lovely young ladies we’re proud to have. They don’t do private performances, but they’ll swing their way into your hearts nonetheless. Don’t be shy with your dollars, gents, for here they are . . . put your hands together for the Acrobabes!”

Killian looked over at Duane. “The what?”

“Acrobabes,” he said through a down-syndrome smile.

“What kind of name is that?”

“Don’t know, don’t care,” was the simple reply.

DJ Tofu belted again, “On the main stage we have the young and delectable Joy!” On cue, a shorthaired brunette, with a bobbing ponytail skipped her way to the brass pole, lips puckered around a lollipop. Attired in a plaid schoolgirl skirt and a button-up shirt tied high at the waste, she twirled her black-stocking legs around the bar once, ending the rotation with a coy giggle.

“Heatin’ up stage two to your right, caught in the shower, is fiery Infinity!” A redhead, wrapped in a towel gave a look of feigned astonishment as the shower curtains parted, her auburn locks spilling over her shoulders.

“Bow down to stage three for your mistress of pain, Chastity!” A half-Asian clad in thigh-high leather boots, black lace, garters, and a midnight corset dominated the paneled tiles as she marched onstage. She unfurled a whip, cracked it once, and let out a snarl.

“And finally, for those of you still stuck in grade school, you’ve never seen a teacher like this. Stay after class with Ms. Faith!” This one caught Killian’s attention the most – a statuesque blonde, hair balled in a knot, blue eyes framed with librarian glasses. She was dressed straight out of a Van Halen video, professional yet provocative. What really caught his eye were her earrings – silver knives dangling from her lobes.

“Found a girl you like, eh?” Duane said.

Killian ignored the question and continued watching.

Before he could fully enjoy the show, gunfire erupted from the entrance. Bottles burst from the bar. Neon tubes shattered into white sparks. Girls screamed, men whimpered. Some ducked under tables. Others complained about the interruption. Killian knelt down as well, cowering, but as he did so he noticed something odd. The four onstage didn’t retreat at all. They remained standing, eyes fixated on the entrance.

The source of the bullet blaze revealed itself. Five men entered the room in multicolored tights, flower petal tutus lining their waists, donning masks with the same floral patterns. Individual types of flora protruded from the tips of their heads – monikers to their identities, Killian guessed. At the center was the man who had strafed the interior – tall, imposing, and brandishing a green semiautomatic with a modified barrel shaped like a tulip corolla.

“Silence!” the one Killian thought was the leader boomed. “We are here to claim what is rightfully ours, and to end the depravity this place now represents.”

The tall man tromped his way to the main stage, and brought the gun to bear on the dancer called Joy. She didn’t react but continued nursing the lollipop in her mouth.

“Get off the stage, you pansy!” came a shout from the array of couches.

The floral-patterned leader froze, whipped the flower-gun around, cocked it once, and rained death upon the hapless speaker. “It’s Tulip! Not pansy! Tulip the Terrible!” He surveyed the crowd with the weapon in hand. “Anyone else care to feel the wrath of my manly petals of PAIN!”

“Shit, some people actually talk like that?” Duane said from under the table.

Killian shushed him from his crouched position then went back to observing the blonde teacher-themed dancer.

“Know this!” Tulip shouted again. “This place used to be a cultural refuge – an acting house that provided real entertainment, not this sad excuse for debauchery. And it shall be again. The Ballerina Boys will make it so!”

A tall Amerindian stepped up, clad in blue, bearing bladed petal fans. Geranium petals, no less. “I am the native terror that strikes fearful love of the arts into the hearts of occidentals! Geronimo Geranium!”

Following the poseur display, a stout obese man dressed in red struggled on top of a chair. “I am the round terror, the thorny pride of the operatic world. The Robust Rose!” he chimed in lilting tenor.

“No stunt is too daring, no prop sword to sharp for the likes of me,” said a tall, lanky man in purple. “The Violate Vindicator!”

Lastly, a short, elfin figure in pink stood up, posed, arms akimbo, but said nothing.

The silence would’ve been perfect for a cricket chorus.

Tulip the Terrible took the liberty of speaking on his behalf. “Oh, that’s the Carnation of Carnage. He’s a mime,” he said casually before booming again. “Together we are the Ballerina Boys!”

Even Killian had to snicker. Others in the club got the same idea. A few outright laughs sounded from different places.

Obviously distraught, Tulip fired again at the ceiling. Everything went silent. “Laugh not at the art that is ballet! It is as manly as anything else. A testosterone-driven dance of happiness, like a flower in the wind! But enough of that. Time to set an example.” Tulip slowly turned to face Joy again.

Killian realized his shivers had quelled, yet he couldn’t understand why. Yes, there were women around, and a part of him still detested their presence. However, there was something else. Something about these particular women grabbed his attention. The way they stood there, stoic, unflinching at the threat ahead of them seemed surreal to him. They were calm, collected. Their calmness made him calm. Duane, on the other hand, simpered from beneath the table.

Piz, the owner, lifted his bulk from the area next to the bar. “Tulip, you chose the wrong time to waltz in here. How dare you debase us with your presence?! How dare you interrupt a performance?” He looked over at Faith and the other three who were still onstage, clenching fists and rapping nails against thighs. “Girls,” he grinned again. “The show must go on.”

Joy grinned and her eyes narrowed. She placed her back up against the pole. Sliding down to a crouching stance, she waited until Tulip’s face came into view. As he turned, his left eye reached her line of sight. She sucked in her cheeks and let the lollipop launch from her mouth, stick-end first. The flying candy hit its mark. Tulip reeled back and fell off the lit stage, screaming. Following that, the schoolgirl grabbed hold of the brass bar and ripped it from its hinges.

Yes! Killian cheered silently.

Faith – the schoolteacher – brandished her slide ruler prop, gingerly removed the ruler portion, turned it around, slid it back in, and clicked it in place. Instead of a square end, the other side of the ruler was a well-sharpened katana blade. She took a kenjutsu stance. Killian only knew that after several Sonny Chiba viewings. However, she did it better!

The redhead, Infinity – removing the wet towel from her lithe, pale frame – twisted what she had worn into a whip, stamped one end with a foot, ringing it with both hands. She then brought it over her head like a weapon. A wet towel would hurt. Killian could tell she’d done this sort of thing before. Jet Li style. The impact alone would dizzy an opponent. The subject for the wetted cloth had yet to be decided.

Chastity – the Amerasian – coiled her whip and jumped down from her stage, digging her stiletto heels into the ground. The other four followed her, and they all positioned themselves in a wedge formation. Tulip the Terrible lifted himself from the ground, raised his gun to the air, and roared with all the intensity an actor could muster.

“For theater!” he shouted.

“For theater!” his lackeys replied in unison.

Both groups charged each other.

The brawl that ensued rivaled any movie Killian had ever seen. Bladed petals, showers of pollen, brass bars, and torn clothing flew from the meshing of assailants. Faith dug her ruler blade into Geronimo Geranium’s fan-petal. Robust Rose swatted Joy with his thorny belly-club, tearing away her slinky overshirt, which gave way to a metal-studded bra.

Infinity and Chastity joined hands, cart-wheeling through Violet Vindicator, and placing a stranglehold on him with their mutual thighs. The Carnation of Carnage silently rushed to his fallen comrade, but Joy had regained her composure – removing her metallic bra, folding the cups in upon themselves, modifying them to nun chucks – and embraced the small mime in a slivery choke hold.

The faux-schoolgirl back-flipped, bringing the pink poseur down hard on the corner of a table. The Carnation groaned then slumped. Chastity gave a spin kick to the Violet Vindicator’s temple, toppling him on top of the Carnation. Tulip fired a round at Faith, who in turn parried the projectiles with her blade. The blonde teacher then leapt into the air, twisted her body, and brought the flat end of the sword down on his neck – knocking the wind and bombast out of him.

The only Ballerina Boy left conscious was the opera singer, wielding his rose-thorned mace in a frenzy as the four strippers closed in. He let out a tenor yelp and attempted a retreat. Joy grabbed hold of the brass bar she’d dropped, pole-vaulted to within arms reach, and swiped his stubby legs with a well placed foot. The Robust Rose fell hard on his rotund keg of an abdomen, coughing out a final note before slumbering.

Killian instantly stood up, applauded, and belted a loud “WHOOOOOHOOO!!!”

Other patrons slowly followed his example, and several standing ovations resonated throughout the Canaan establishment. The four women bowed, joined hands, bowed again then exited stage left.

“Gentlemen, I give you, the Acrobabes!” Piz Miyov announced over a microphone.

Killian continued to clap frantically as did many others in the burlesque house, herds of testosterone demanding more ass-kicking estrogen. He soon realized, though, that someone wasn’t. Duane was still huddled underneath the table, squealing like a panicked piglet.

* * *

“Dude, did you see all that!” Killian said to Duane as they exited Club Canaan.

“C-can’t be here…s-so cold…t-too many,” Duane said to no one in particular.

“I mean, strippers who know kung fu, who’d’ve thought?” Killian asked.

“Shot…I-I could’ve been shot,” was the shaken reply.

“Man, we need to go back again!”

“Bed…that sounds nice…bed…” His frat buddy continued to stammer on.

“Uh, Duane, you okay?” Killian asked.

“Oh wait,” Duane paused. “Beer first then bed. Yes…beer won’t shoot at me. Good beer. Friendly beer. Won’t shoot, will you?”

“Relax, it was only a show.”

Duane froze in mid step. “A show? You thought that was a show? We coulda been killed in there?”

“Killed by a bunch of guys dressed as flowers? Don’t think so. It was all an act.” Killian patted his shoulder.

“Damn flowers,” Duane said in a low tone, clutching himself.

This time Killian froze. “Holy shit, you were actually scared.”

“No I wasn’t”

“Yes, you were,” Killian insisted. “You thought you were going to be killed by a guy dressed as a friggin’ daisy.

“I hate daisies,” Duane shrieked. “Roses, daisies, pansies, Solomon’s seals, chrysanthemums, edelweiss and every other fucking flower on the face of the fucking PLANET!”

Killian backed away from his foaming friend. “Dude, chill. I didn’t mean anything by it. It’s okay to have a fear of flowers. Let’s just get that beer, and then we’ll get you to bed.”

Duane gave a meek smile. “And no more flowers?”

It took all of Killian’s resolve to keep from laughing. “No flowers.”

“Good, I can’t be around flowers,” Duane replied, letting his shoulders slump after a deep breath.

“There there. Those evil flowers won’t hurt you anymore.”

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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 Prose 1 Comment

A Small Lesson in Tact

Several months ago, I wrote a blog on Myspace, which summarized several story ideas I discarded for one reason or another. One of those ideas what about the supposed clone of Jesus Christ (not the Superstar). My reasons for abandoning said story were not because I didn’t find the idea worthy, but rather someone beat me to the punch. I referred to that author as a “dicksmack” for having done so.

I later republished that blog entry on my not-as-of-yet-launched website. Well, I got a comment on the re-blog that I wasn’t quite expecting. At all.

From the very author of that book.

I haven’t even announced my website yet, and already I’m ruffling literary feathers. Certainly not my intent, not this early in the game. Given that I’m a nobody, and that I have no right to slander a book author I’ve never met or read, I decided to rescind that portion of the entry. It wasn’t a fair commentary to make, especially one made in frustration for having been to lazy to act on a story idea.

I shall watch my unfiltered tongue in the future.

Okay, foot, you can leave my mouth now. We have walkin’ to do.

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Wednesday, November 26th, 2008 Musings No Comments

Dancing Girls Vs. Rock Band

I’m conflicted.

Two sides of my person are at odds with each other. There’s the “Dweeb” facet of me that needs very little physical outside stimulus. It’s a low maintenance creature, requiring a minimum sustenance of movies, books and – to a lesser extent – video games. This facet is perfectly at home with, well, staying at home or some other enclosure…and basically geeking it out. Tea in hand, of course. Fellow like-minded souls in close proximity are optional.

Then there’s the “Dude” part. You know who he is. Well, if you’re male, you do. The Dude thrives on thrill, thirst, and thighs; babes, beer, and bawdiness. Ribaldry personified, his appetite is sated when all three demands of his Neanderthalic nature are met. He’s a simple creature, hard to tame but easy to trick. The metaphoric leash has a little slack so as to not upset him, but he’s easy to reign in when his energy depletes. And it can deplete rather quickly. Dude goes balls out, but only for short periods of time.

Dweeb, on the other hand, has greater endurance, vast energy stores. Why? He doesn’t use any of it. Given that he’s a sedentary creature to start with, exertion is a rarity. When he is called upon to initiate something in his natural habitat – a gaming table, TV, computer, or other media outlet – very little of his energy is spent. He can go for hours.

Rarely do these two facets come into contact with each other. A wall of moderation divides their mutual territories, keeping them exclusive yet whole. One doesn’t tread on the other’s ground. There’s never a reason to. Both operate on completely different wavelengths. Conflict only arises when both get “hungry” at the same time.

As was the case this weekend…twice.

Several Fridays ago was a Dweeb night. He called dibs. The day was reserved for impromptu geekanalia. First on the docket was an outing to The Incredible Hulk. Upon exiting the theater after, all four of us were in total dweebdom, arguing about the possible future of the Avengers-ish story-arc Marvel Studios appears to be developing. We debated special effects, performances, cameos, future superhero movies-to-be. All quaint stuff.

Until Mr. Beer entered the equation.

We moseyed our way to The Ram for microbrews, nachos, and more bullshitting. The problem was that this…was Dude territory. Dweeb and Dude can coexist in Beerland for a time, but it’s a small duration. Extended attempts at synergy fall apart.

Geek talk transitioned to guy talk. Sex, stupidity, and stuff. You know, boy toys. The realm of cars, electronics, etc. My cell phone chimed with a text message. It was from a female friend, one of the “M” Troika (read: women-folk); M-1, to be precise. She put an invite out to go to Mixers.

I hate the place. I knew I hated the place. I knew I had no reason whatsoever to set foot near there. Or so the Dweeb kept rationalizing.

Then the Dude part said, “But there might be girls there.”

Even Dweeb had to shrug, “He has a point.”

Mr. Beer wasn’t helping either.

My three compatriots had come to similar inner conclusions, and off to the shit-bar we went. The bar was, indeed, shit. But there were women there. The M-Crew succeeded in luring my mousy arse onto the dance floor on more than one occasion.

For the record, I’m not the biggest fan of dancing. I’m no good at it, I feel awkward doing it, and I don’t understand the appeal. Yet once I’m actually on the floor, I can’t get off of it. My inner attention whore, having broken its proverbial chains of prudeness, bursts forth with reckless (one might even say, metro) abandon. I blame the three M-s.

My inner Dweeb gained the upper hand after about an hour, though, when one of my friends made a suggestion. A suggestion that is as deadly as putting a brownie in front of a fat kid. I know, I’m a fat kid…and I like brownies. This was something like that.

“Let’s play some Rock Band.”

Unless you’ve been residing under an obelisk of denial and retardation, Rock Band is a video game. Wait, no. Let me rephrase that. It’s crack in pixel form, pure unadulturated digital freebasing. You play mock instruments with squeaky buttons and mimic like you’re in an actual rock band. One of the four players even has to sing…er…more or less. They have to keep pitch.

Let me introduce you to another lesser facet of my being. You’re already acquainted with the two main schisms, Dude and Dweeb. You were also introduced to the lesser imp, Attention Whore. Permit me to welcome…Karaoke Douche.

Karaoke Douche is the special sibling to Attention Whore and distant cousin of Dweeb. His existence is accepted by Dude because of a loophole called “The Peacock Factor”. Dude allows Attention Whore and Karaoke Douche to subsist because of a verbal agreement made – a promise that their assaholic antics might get “The-Power-That-Is-Me” laid.

Granted, this has yet to work, but they are masters of persuasion. Whereas Writer Dork, a silent little sap in the primordial soup of my brain, scoffs and records their smarmy attempts to garner said female favor with limited – albeit entertaining – results. They exist so stories can be told.

Sorry, I kinda digressed.

Rock Band would not appeal to us – I mean, me – if it weren’t for that karaoke comparison. I. Love. To sing. Am I great at it? Heavens no. But I love to do it anyway, and that’s the allure of the game. The illusion of awesomeness. Even Dude is not immune.

Dancing lasted an hour. Rock Band lasted four. Dweeb won.

Dude was not going down without a fight, however.

When that Saturday rolled around, and I got a call to play more Rock Band with the guys. We decided to put a little twist to it. More to the point, my friends did. Their goal was to create the gayest band possible. The lead singer avatar, which they created for the game, was incidentally named “Lucky Pierre” – a pig-faced, pink-haired, rotund bear of a mic-sucker.

As the game progressed, we were called upon – after successive gigs in-game – to alter the attire and appearance of the band. We feminized them even further. Not in a glam rock sorta way, ooooooh no. We went balls-to-the-teabagging-wall with these boys. Even gay men would wonder what the hell they were. With the exception of the drummer, of course. One of them had to look manly. Although, our definition of “manly” was a slightly-bearded Dr. Who look-alike.

What do you expect? We’re geeks!

After four hours of this politically incorrect band-handling, I got a text from M-1. The troika were going dancing again, this time downtown. I informed the other guys, but they were content to continue playing. I was at an empasse.

Dude scolded Dweeb. Dweeb acquiesced. I bid farewell to the brightly-dressed band and microphone in order to get my groove on. Or what there was of it.

What part of me won overall? That’s just it! I have no friggin’ clue. Dweeb won Friday, Dude won Saturday. The battle is currently a draw. All that remains is a way to end this simile of a stalemate.

Hrm…

Maybe…

Playing Rock Band with dancing girls all around!

Whoah.

I need to patent that.

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Monday, November 24th, 2008 Musings No Comments

Horny Heater Hobbits

A Tuesday night. Location: The hotel. Again.

I hoped it would be better than the night prior. Whether it was a full moon, or if every Red Eye flight douche-licker wanted to descend upon me collectively, I was in no mood for weirdness. To say I was at my wit’s end would be an understatement. I was witless.

Then they came.

She seemed like a normal woman in her mid-forties. Well, as normal as Desperate Housewives had educated me. Strung-out bleach-blond hair, out-of-date prescription glasses, a twitchy brow, and a hunched-over posture indicating a steady diet of antidepressants and Advil. That was my guess anyway…having observed a similar posture in the mirror back in college.

Like many who’ve passed through the lobby doors at “magic hour”, she grumbled at the walking distance between the front desk and her room, wondered when breakfast would be, shrugged, then left. In most cases, that’s the last I hear of such folks. Those are the kind I get; burnt out husks of life living from paycheck to paycheck in constant airline migration. Such a living must take a toll on their nerves. Lord knows it does mine, um, from a third-person standpoint.

Ten minutes later, I got a call.

Husk housewife was on the other end, “My bathroom door is locked!”

I responded nonchalantly, “I do apologize, but maintenance has gone home for the day. I can transfer you to another room if you’d like.”

She rambled on about the possibility of someone jumping out from the locked bathroom and raping her, then asked if she had to come back to the desk to fetch the new keycards. I informed her that I was the only one on duty and could not leave the gatehouse area unless it was an emergency. In a further frantic tone, she indicated it was an emergency to her. To her room, I went.

Once I arrived to her room, I went in to check the bathroom myself. The door was wide open.

“Not that one,” she said and pointed at the closet next to the bathroom. “That one.”

My shoulders slumped, “Ma’am, that’s the water heater.”

“I just have this fear someone might jump out. It happened to a friend of mine, ” she explained.

I tried my best to explain that the door was locked from the outside and only maintenance had access to it. That and no normal sized human being could fit in the closet with a full-sized water heater. Unless the culprit were a Hobbit, she was perfectly safe.

“I’ll still take the other room,” she said.

“Fair enough, “I replied.

Escorting her to her new room, three buildings down, she relayed how she was generally a fearful person. I empathized. As soon as she was situated, she apologized for the trouble and tipped me five bucks. Couldn’t complain there.

However, I returned to the gatehouse to four very impatient people – two Hindi girls in need of curry sauce (no joke), a dumbshit who locked himself out, and another middle-aged woman waiting to be checked in. We’ll call her Housebitch #2.

Dealing with the first three was easy enough, but the new woman was another matter entirely.

“What took you so long?” she asked, lips thin.

“I’m sorry, I had to transfer a guest to a new room personally, ” I said. “She thought someone would jump out of the water heater and attack her.”

I laughed a little…but she wasn’t amused.

“You’re not going to give me that room, are you?”

“Uh…no?” I returned

“Good,” Housebitch #2 said, grabbing her keys.

I thought that was the end of it.

Wrong.

Five minutes later, I got a call from Housebitch #2, “There’s a locked door by the bathroom!”

I took a deep breath.

“That’s your water heater.” I couldn’t even hide my sigh.

“Oh,” she said.

Housebitch #2 hung up.

I sat down, kicked my feet back, nursed my tea…

And honestly hoped there was a teleporting Horny Heater Hobbit out there to prove me wrong.

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Musings No Comments

Hell Hath No Fury

Roughly around midnight on a normal weeknight, a frazzled businesswoman checked in. She wanted an upstairs room, but we didn’t have any. Per the Summer norm, we were sold out. There was an air of discontentment about her, but she kept silent. I gave her the keycards, wished her well on her way, and she sauntered off to her room in a tired haze.
 
As I was checking in two other gentlemen, I heard a loud clanking on the back door. Someone was rapping on the glass. I excused myself from the two gents to investigate. It was the woman, appearing even more frazzled, clutching her luggage in white fists of vehemence. When I opened the door, she pushed herself and her rolling suitcase in.
 
“That room stinks,” she snapped. “I need another one.”
 
I informed her that I’d be with her in a moment. The two men still needed their room keys. She waited like a pound of C4 on a short timer. The computer showed no more rooms available.
 
Of course not, I thought.
 
I relayed the bad news, and she demanded that I put her up in another hotel. All the while, she also ranted about how she never ran into this sort of situation before. Like any well-honed desk-monkey, I tuned her out as I went about calling other hotels. Every place I called had no rooms available; save one. The Phoenix Inn.
 
She overheard the words “walking a guest”, and she panicked. “You mean I have to walk to the new hotel?”
 
“No, ma’am,” I said through a very apparent sigh. “That means that we are putting you up at the new location free of charge. As in, you won’t be billed.”
 
“What about my reservation here?” she asked.
 
“You won’t be billed,” I repeated.
 
That seemed to settle her a bit. I returned to my duties – processing the walk letter for the new location and calling her a cab.
 
She chimed in again, “Are you paying for the cab?”
 
“I’m sorry, ma’am, we don’t do that,” I said. “But the room is on us.”
 
“So, you’re telling me that I have to pay for a cab ride there because of your screw-up?”
 
I bowed, “I do apologize, ma’am.”
 
“How far is it?” she asked again.
 
“Two blocks to the left,” I added.
 
“Can’t I just walk it?”
 
I stifled my scoff, “At this time a night?”
 
“You mean it’s not safe?” She sounded nervous.
 
“Not that,” I replied. “But do you really want to risk it?”
 
Then she haggled me about the cab again. In the end, I acquiesced and handed her ten-spot from the register. Just to shut her up. A taxi van finally showed a few minutes later. She asked if that was hers. I assumed it was since it was the same cab company. Amidst this, a group of younger guests departed the van. Another cab car showed a few minutes later. I almost told him to leave, thinking their’d been a miscommunication. However, I learned from the van driver that he was only there as a drop-off. The miscommunication was mine.
 
The woman transferred her load of luggage from the van to the arriving cab, all the while yelling, “I’ll never stay at your hotels again!”
 
I shook my head with a laugh, thinking another uptight dumbshit had left. In times past, guests would often make wild accusations about a room’s quality if certain unrealistic demands weren’t met. Example: So-and-so didn’t get an upgraded suit, so they’d complain that the fireplace was dusty. I assumed she complained about the room stench because she couldn’t get an upstairs room, having heard that before.
 
Out of curiosity – or pure shits and giggles – I went down to the room I gave her. Sure enough, it reeked of nicotine and ozone defogger.
 
I’ll be damned, I said to myself. She was right.
 
There are, indeed, times when I’ll admit a complaining guest has a point. This was one of those times. If there was a crow present, I’d devour it heartily. With sauce.
 

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Musings No Comments

The Sex Tea Saga

I’ve been asked on multiple occasions what started my unsurpassed obsession with tea. My leanings are neither hippie or New Age-y, and I shy away from most holistic approaches. The reason for my reluctance in relating this story is simple. It’s downright embarrassing. However, even I must acknowledge that it is a tale that must be told, and – so – here it is.

The origin of my fascination with tea.

It all started with a quest, a very manly quest.

It began in the Fall of 2004, my first year back in Oregon. College was a somewhat distant memory, separated by Summer’s lack of whimsy. Already, the four-year sabbatical to the desert state of Nevada had taken refuge in the recesses of my mind. The last six months of which were akin to a purgatorial nightmare. I was now home, back in the bosom of the Northwest. Real life – or so it felt – had just begun. The academic reverie was over. I was 27.

Changes occurred quite rapidly. My parents had moved to California and offered their three-story behemoth as a rental to my sister, her husband, and myself. Within a month, I was saddled with two jobs. In late-October I even landed myself a girlfriend. Quite quick indeed.

About a month into the relationship, it had reached “that stage” – the to-do or not-to-do dilemma. My experience level was infantile at best. College had trained me for many things, but I’d shied away from Hook-Up 101. Or more to the point, I think I fell asleep in class. Maybe it was geek thing, I dunno. Eh, we’ll blame it on that for now.

Our dates up to this point were mostly informal outings, occasional Blockbuster nights, a party or two, nothing grand. It was time for that next step: Inviting her to my place.

I made the necessary preparations:

Booze? Check.

Protection? Check.

Breath mints? Check.

Change out single bed for the guest room’s queen-sized? Check.

(Trying to explain the furniture move to my mother/landlord was a difficult task.)

The night was upon me.

She arrived with a batch of Coupling episodes she received from Netflix. We sat on the couch, popped the DVDs in, cuddled a bit. Cuddling led to kissing, then the notorious “heavy petting” teenagers are condemned for. She whispered the The Question as she straddled me on the couch. I cocked an eyebrow in confusion. She reiterated. I nodded.

Upstairs, we went.

Everything proceeded according to plan; the undressing, the massaging, the exploration of each other’s vitals. Things were moving along like clockwork, textbook even. I caressed where I thought I should caress, kissed (and/or licked) where I thought I should lick. 80s sex comedies had trained me well, or so I thought.

We were go for Phase Two! That whole “unity” thing. But there was a problem. Nothing happened. The knight was suited, but for some ungodly reason…he’d forgotten his bloody horse.

My heart sunk.

The mainsail hadn’t hoisted. The soldier didn’t salute. The batter never left the cage. The car wouldn’t leave the garage. Oh, hell, you get the point.

The night was officially a botch.

I drove her home. She was silent, and I was sullen. She may have put the blame on herself, as women often do in that situation, yet I knew where it lay. Squarely on my shoulders. Something was wrong with me, and I didn’t know what. Everything had been perfect! The timing was right! Lust was in the air! Pheromones had fireworked! I had to learn what went wrong.

To the Internet!

According to various sites, the causes for impotence were innumerable. There was performance anxiety, reactions to medications, high blood pressure, obesity, illness, mental health, physical impairments. The factors were endless. I was stumped. Mr. Happy-Pants worked well enough for me during solo training, why the hell had it caved under pressure during the actual mission? (Maybe it was my terminology? Er…no.)

Eventually, I ruled out the physical causes. I wasn’t that obese, blood pressure was normal, and – for the most part – all my limbs were working. Well, except the bloody key one. That left the mental.

Only methods used to combat sexual anxiety were rigorous therapy, hypnotherapy, or resorting to the infamous “blue pill” I really didn’t want to do that. To admit that I was under 30, moderately healthy and in need of boner-meds made my stomach knot. That left one other viable viable. One I hadn’t ever dreamed I’d explore. It was notoriously out of character for me. I looked to male enhancement products.

Everyone has seen these doohickeys. Big bottle-jars with names like Mega-X-Tone or Testost-X-Treme…or anything that had a bold-faced “X” in the title. They are a ghastly sight. Just looking at them makes one think they’re buying into the biggest scam on the planet. Not to mention even the staunchest atheist would think he made Baby Jesus cry.

I read the ingredients. Some were elements in nature I hadn’t even heard of; herbs such as yohimbe bark, ginkgo biloba, kava kava, and…wait…

Green tea?

What the hell did green tea have to do with male enhancement?!

Each of the products I looked (or winced) at had one ingredient in common. Aside from the weirder African-sounding herbs, they all had a generous helping of green tea extract. I was no stranger to tea. At one time or another I’d partaken of Earl Grey or chamomile. The black teas tasted like smoky burlap, and chamomile knocked my ass clean out. Green tea was unexplored territory, and here I was seeing it on the back of a cheesy “X” label.

This revelation needed some back-up. My cousin’s girlfriend was somewhat well-versed in the ways of green tea. She’d touted it for as long as I’d e-known her. While she couldn’t confirm the virility claim, she could attest to its other health properties. These were not limited to: weight-loss, lowered blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, increased immunity, the elimination of free radicals in the body, and increased blood flow.

The last benefit caught my interest. I won’t go into the inner workings of the male anatomy. If you don’t know by now, then there’s no hope for you. The Cliff’s Notes version being, erections rely on healthy blood flow. Hurray!

I started drinking green tea. To my surprise, I actually liked it. Grassy aftertaste and all. It was quite refreshing. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any immediate “changes”. What can I say? I’m the impatient sort. As such, I browsed the tea aisle to see what different types of green tea were out there. One stood out above all the others.

Celestial Seasonings’ Honey Lemon Ginseng.

When researching the herbal extract info on the aforementioned “X” varietals, I ran across mentions of ginseng. Panax ginseng, to be precise, was often touted as a sexual tonic in Asian cultures. This was news to me, so I bought a box.

The first test-drive was a train-wreck. It tasted good. Damn good. Lemony-green-ish goodness. I had five cups of the stuff in a two-hour sitting. Moderation? Who needed it! What I should have read more closely was that this blend was caffeinated..

Anyone in the herbal know is aware that Panax ginseng, while beneficial in some areas, is also a stimulant. Not as earth-shattering as caffeine, but rather one that is slow-building. The Celestial Seasonings box even highlighted that the blend was for giving someone an extra kick in the morning. And kick it did.

The first day I tried it, I was jittery and buzzing. I went and saw a movie to calm myself down, can’t recall what. I called my Dad, rambling a mile a minute about feeling weird.

He said, “Maybe you should lay off the ginseng.”

I knew he was right, but I was stubborn. A part of me thought maybe this was its way of working. None of the other green tea blends ever made me want to run through walls while singing a merry tune. I gave it a second chance.

Day two came around. My girlfriend and I were set to have dinner at her parents house. For the first time ever. I was another four-ish cups of Honey Lemon in, all jitter-buzz-a-go-go. Why four? I dunno. I thought we were going to do stuff later and wanted to be aptly prepared.

I had three mini-panic attacks during dinner. No one noticed, thankfully, but my breathing was fast and labored. My eyes darted from corner to corner. Sounds were sharper. Smells irritated my nostrils. I existed in a tunnel version of my own head.

She drove me home after. I went through some sort of Lamaze-style panting to keep from freaking out. Nausea crept up in me. She asked if I wanted to come over. I said I wasn’t feeling well. It was the truth, but try explaining that to a girlfriend convinced you weren’t attracted to her.

In a huff, she dropped me off. I went to the kitchen and threw away the lemony-goodness box, never to touch the stuff again. Back to square one.

December rolled around, and I made another discovery. I entered the world of herbal supplementation. My first foray was multivitamins, but on a whim, I purchased a bottle of ginkgo biloba. In addition to it’s X-pantheon tonic-like qualities, I also read it was good for memory and mental alertness. The extract gave me abdominal cramps almost instantly upon taking it.

I read the label after the fact and discovered that – in some rare cases – ginkgo could cause “gastrointestinal discomfort and irritability”. That was the same month I discovered I was sensitive to a lot of things. Certain health foods made me queasy, I couldn’t hold my liquor, I reacted quickly (and sometimes adversely) to certain herbs, and caffeine booted me in the head and gut at the same time. Reading side-effect information on anything became second nature.

Then I discovered a green tea online that had ginkgo and Panax ginseng in it! Triple Leaf’s Ginkgo & Decaf Green Tea.

I read the label and ingredient information carefully. It was decaffeinated. I gleefully ordered a batch. It came in the mail about a week later. I poured myself a cup, nursed it gingerly, and waited for any adverse ginkgo-like stomach punches to occur. None did. It even helped in…uh…that area from what I observed.

Too bad it tasted like tree bark…and ass.

I tried to mix it with other teas to mask the flavor. Ginkgo has a distinctly tangy and leafy taste followed by a rough aftertaste, reminiscent of eucalyptus. It really is quite offensive to the tongue. The only other tea that would compliment it was a green tea formula put out by Salada, one that contained Siberian ginseng.

The potential horrors of Panax ginseng were firmly established, but I didn’t know much about it’s redheaded stepbrother, eleuthero (Siberian ginseng). I did some reading and learned that it had only mild stimulant effects, no sexual tonic properties, and mainly worked as a mental alertness enhancer, which was fine by me.

By the time I was ready to field-test the stuff, the relationship with my girlfriend had gone south. She was through waiting. This was a clear case of gender reversal. Instead of the girl being hesitant towards sex, it was me. I was the reluctant one. Part of this might have been due to our seven-year age gap, or my continued anxiety, I dunno. We parted ways somewhat amicably.

Aside from a couple of dating stints here and there – one physical, others not-so-much, none long-term – sex had receded to non-issuedom. My tea habit hadn’t regressed, though. In fact, the addiction blossomed.

A love for green tea graduated into a love for white tea. A reverence for generic bagged teas grew into a quest for more esoteric blends. Eventually, I was ready for loose-leaf teas. I grew to love them. All of them. Black teas still hadn’t caught hold, but herbal blends, fruit fusions, and designer teas did. An amateur tea snob was born.

Work shifts without a cup of hotness seemed an irregularity. Tea became synonymous with, well, me. I would go to friends houses with a mug of some herbal concoction in hand. Often times, I would forget to take it with me. Proposed tea dates were my standard meet-and-greets with new women. While not a successful way to prove one’s self as more than a Friend Zone dweller, it did provide for a nice day out.

Knowing the locations of local teashops helped me broaden my leaf-like horizons. Beforehand, my knowledge of Portland and peripheral areas were limited to bars, clubs and tourist traps. The teashop quest allowed me to seek out odd-ended nooks and crannies of the surrounding area.

I also felt considerably better, rarely getting sick. And even if I did, the duration for the ailment was considerably shorter than usual. Colds were a rarity, flues were still commonplace but not as dreadful and bed-ridding, stomach flues were cast aside after about a day thanks to good ol’ Captain Chamomile. I was a proud herb-a-whore.

The ginkgo tea I took was the last vestige of my original purpose. Eventually, after further research, I learned that I was taking the medical equivalent to an Alzheimer’s patient’s dose per day. A normal healthy adult only needed, maybe, 120 mg of the stuff. The tea I drank contained over 600 mg. No wonder I felt surprisingly irritable. Like ginseng, ginkgo was also a stimulant. Sure, it helped in the one area I set out to improve, but in lieu of other health considerations, it had been rendered obsolete. By the end of 2005, I limited my intake to once a week, and eventually substituted it for it’s lesser ginseng-only cousin.

It wouldn’t gain favor again until February of 2006.

I won’t (i.e. can’t) go into detail as to the encounter, for I’m sworn to some amount of discretion regarding the finer points, but I will say that Ol’ Man Ginkgo came to the rescue. For a good three hours. Okay, yes, there were “union breaks”, but it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things. The stuff really did work!

There was still the taste issue, however, even with the Salada green tea’s citrus-y cover-up. Nothing could get rid of the tree-bark-ness of it, nor contribute to the virility issue. Er…not that anything really needed to top what was already included, but – hey – while your kicking ass, might as well jot a few names. Right?

The final breakthrough wouldn’t appear until February this year. Perusing the Stash Tea store – which is conveniently located in my stomping grounds, huzzah! – a fellow tea-nerd and I noticed a line of herbal blends referred to as Chanakara. The cashier informed us that they were herbal fusions specifically designed to coincide with each of the bodies chakra points, all seven of them.

I bought the sample pack to try each one.

If you don’t know what chakra points are, well, I really don’t have time (or space) to go into the finer nuances of it. Just look up any yoga-related material on Google, or you can be extra nerdy and watch a couple of episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Or, better still, visit the Chanakara website. Those will give you a basic rundown.

I digress.

The one that grabbed my attention was Chakra #2, the dragonfruit blend. The bag and box describe it as vital for “tantra and sexuality. Contained in the blend was an herb known as damiana. Further inquiries revealed that the herb is often used as a sexual tonic for women in Latin America. Studies regarding its potency were still in its infancy, but apparently it also worked on men. Hoo-boy, did it! I found out the hard way at work…pun quite intended.

The taste was also pleasant, light citrus, faintly tangerine-like without the tartness. Very pleasant and very subtle. So, I tried it with the ginkgo tea. The bark-ass taste was gone. No aftertaste either. I no longer felt like I was tasting tree! Victory was achieved.

Which brings us to the present.

I have yet to try my newfound Sex Tea blend in a practical setting. Not quite sure where/how that’ll happen in the near-ish future. But when it does…

And I do mean when…not if…

She won’t know what hit her.

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Musings No Comments

Curse of the Wolf and Moon

Several years ago, when I first jointed the ranks of the otaku (read: anime geeks), I noticed a common staple among the older – but not necessarily elite – members of this nerdy subclass. Aside from unkempt beards, thick-rimmed glasses, Twinkie-fueled corpulence, and a smug expression, they wore wolf shirts. There were the occasional gaming humor shirts, dragon shirts, silk dragon shirts, but the most common were a lovely lupus…
 
On not so lovely large frames
 
This also had me worried. Was that my fate as an aged anime fan? Would that curse befall me to? I shrugged it off, kept clear of most borderline geriatric anime fans. Not that they weren’t cool – okay, sure, some were creepy – but more out of fear for the wolf plight. Hopefully this phenomenon only existed in the subgeek circles.
 
How wrong I was.
 
This group might not seem outwardly familiar, but everyone has seen ’em. They can’t be considered rednecks, due to their political and spiritual affiliations. Chances are they lean to the left, vote Libertarian, and listen to Coast to Coast with George Noory (formerly Art Bell). For lack of a better term – since I’m not sure they have a given title – I shall refer to them as Backwoods Wiccans.
  
I first noticed them when visiting the music page for my CELTIC HARPIST FRIEND. The computer I use at work for leisurely netsurfing is ungodly slow. Pages with oodles of graphics either load at the speed of turtle, or not at all. Eight times out of ten, a glitter-fuckfest of a page would crash the browser altogether. I happened to have been chatting with said friend, when all of a sudden she uttered a string of epithets that were downright unladylike.
 
Some members of her fanbase fell into this Backwoods Wiccan school of dumbfuckery. I had a little more success in loading the page, but lo and behold found it splayed to the gills with glittery wolves. And moons. Awe-struck, humored, and slightly terrified, I gathered my thoughts. Dear God, there was an upgrade to the wolf shirt curse. Wolves and moons.
 
And further still, the terrifying trifecta occasionally revealed itself, some people brandished their collective Myspace pages with wolves, moons, and Indians. Odd considering the people proudly displaying these images looked nowhere near American Indian. Some didn’t even look American. Or human.
 
Maybe that’s unfair. I can understand the love of wolves, the acknowledged majesty of the moon, and the illusory idolatry of the Indian. What I couldn’t fathom was how one would want such an effigy on a cheap cotton shirt, stretched tightly on a beer gut. I didn’t get it.

Some light was shed on the subject last Thursday while out with friends at Harvey’s Comedy Club. The opening act, a normal-looking guy with a receding hairline, conveyed his observations about redneck culture. While he was pontificating, I turned to one of my friends and muttered about Backwoods Wiccan attire, particularly the “wolf and moon” t-shirt phenomenon.
 
The comedian segued into an observation about retirees and a mandatory article of clothing they received in the mail at the age of 65. It was…
 
You guessed it.
 
If there was ever a moment of sheer “ROTFLMAO”, that was it, ladies and gentlemen.
 
A couple of days later, I got a text from one of the gals present for the comedy set. It read: “Guys, I saw the wolf shirt without the moon.”
 
“Oh lord,” I thought. I couldn’t even respond.
 
A few days after that, I was reading my usual spread of webcomics at work. One of my favorite strips – GIRLS WITH SLINGSHOTS – ran a comic about lesbians.
 
(For the record, I’ve personally never seen a lesbian don a wolf and moon t-shirt.)
 
I had to pass it on to everyone indirectly involved. The sheer amount of “loupe”-iness was unreal. What could the Great Wolf Moon Spirit be saying to me? Then I thought back to my earlier fear. Maybe it was telling me it was time. After all, most of the anime geeks who donned the wolfwear were in their early thirties. I was 18 at the time, so they seemed much older. But now I’m there.
 
No, I couldn’t believe that. I…can’t believe that. Wait, there’s still hope! I haven’t seen a wolf on a tea pot yet. No temptation!
 
Fuck.
 

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Musings No Comments

I work for tea money.

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