Tuesday, January 28, 2014

There's a storm coming in...

Welp, it's been about two weeks.  Time for an update, or something of the like.  I know there aren't THAT many people who read this, and of the few that do, most if not all of you know me personally.  That means, of course, that nearly everybody who reads my blog somewhat regularly already knows what I'm planning for my next fictional story foray.  That being said, I still feel the need to formally announce it:

When I was still posting flash fiction pieces every week or so, I kept talking about wanting to make an "episodic story" of sorts, and that I had one in the works.  Well the one I had in the works was kinda crap.  I'm not abandoning it, but it'll probably be a while before I return to it to work out the kinks and make it presentable and not horrible.  I'm okay with this because I've been working on a different episodic story thing for the past week or two that I think might actually have promise, and so, apparently does my "test audience."  Unfortunately for me, my test audience probably constitutes about ninety percent of my readership, so most of you have already read the first episode.  I'll probably be posting it a few days from now, and though I'm planning on posting the link to facebook I'm not expecting a huge amount of excitement because, as I've said, most of you have already read it.  I do urge you to read it again, though.  In order to make the second episode work, I had to change a couple things.  See if you can spot them!

I feel like there was other news, but I can't think of what it was anymore, and if I can, then it's stuff that can wait.  If not, I can always make another one of these.  It's not like there's a limited supply...


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Judgements of the Covering of Books: A Parable

                Judging a book by its cover is not always a bad thing.  I came to this conclusion one day in college when I and a few friends (including my then future/current fiancée, Jess) were at a local comic book store, just being huge nerds.  This particular comic book store had three or four racks near the back which contained not-comic books of the fantasy and sci-fi variety, which was fortunate because the only comic book I’ve ever really collected is “Lenore,” and I’m not sure if that one’s still being made.  Also, I’m an avid reader of sci-fi, so that’s another reason it was fortunate that this rack existed.  At the time, I was really jonesing on all the classic sci-fi authors with a zealousness that makes me quiver in embarrassment every time I think about it now.  I would go through the rack looking for Azimov or Heinlein or Bradbury and just dismiss everything else.  It wasn’t even that big a rack, and while there were one or two books there by my chosen authors, it was slim pickings.  We had been to the store several times, and I always did this.  On the occasion of which I speak, I was engrossed in my normal activities, searching fruitlessly for one of my familiar names and silently criticizing all the other authors I’d never heard of.  How could they be worth reading, I thought, when I’d never even heard of them before? 
                That was the defining moment where I literally stopped moving and said out loud, “Oh God… I’m an idiot!”  I realized at that moment that there was something very wrong with my thought process.  I couldn’t say anything against these authors with a clean conscience as soon as I realized that, God willing, that would be me someday.  I’d be that author that nobody had heard of, and would they think the same thing of me?  Would they pass up my book for a shiny copy of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles?  As much as I love Bradbury’s work, especially Martian Chronicles, I certainly freaking hope not.  The more I thought about it the more disgusted with myself I became.  These authors deserved a chance and I was being a jerk.  That, and the more I thought about it, did I really want to read yet another story where society is so advanced that they have interstellar travel and flying cars, yet still use magnetic tape for data storage?  No, I did not.  And I knew by now that if I were to pick something up by Azimov, that is exactly what I’d get.
                So it was decided that I would try something new, give a different author a chance, do unto others as I would have them do unto me.  But where to start?  It was a small rack, but surprisingly diverse, and there was so much there that was undiscovered that it was quite a bit overwhelming.  So I did what I had to do, and I judged a book by its cover.  I pulled out a book and looked at it.  It was bright and colorful and kinda trippy.  I turned it over and read the synopsis.  Sounded reasonably interesting.  I looked at the title, and promptly mispronounced it several times.  In fact, I’m still not sure how you’re supposed to say it.  It was called Technogenesis (Techno genesis?  TechnogenEEsus?  I don’t know) and it was by a lady named Syne Mitchell.  “Well I guess this one looks cool,” I said, and I bought it.  I took it home and started reading.
                I’m not going to say it’s the best book I’ve ever read, but that’s mostly because my Dad had me read Stranger in a Strange Land in high school, and I DARE you to find a better book than that.  I will say this, though: Technogenesis, however the heck you pronounce it, should be required reading for, like, everybody, I’m not even kidding.  It came out in 2002, and that’s twelve years ago, but it is still very relevant and profound and eye-opening, and on top of that it’s a really good story.  I don’t want to give anything away, but you should read it.  Seriously, go buy it now, they’ve got used copies on Amazon for one cent. 
                So anyway, that’s what happened when I started judging books by their cover.  Or, at least, when I started judging them mercifully by their cover.  I guess that’s the defining element right there.  It’s okay to judge a book by its cover as long as your judgement is something along the lines of “I’ll bet this is a pretty good book, judging by its cover.”  Unfortunately I don’t think that’s ever going to make it to proverb status, but just remember that regardless of a book’s covering, its contents just might blow your little mind, like Technogenesis did with me.
                Which, I guess is what most people mean when they say “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

                Well, crap.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thrift store Adventures Part 2

                This one happened back in October of 2013, two days before Halloween.  I was going to post it a few days afterward, but as I was writing the post up I got a call from my Very Good Friend, who said that according to his girlfriend’s brother (who lives downstairs from us) some creepy Mexican guy in a “blinged out truck,” and equipped with a “knife” had come looking for me earlier in the day.  After a ton of confusion, worried phone calls, locking the door and loading the shotgun, we concluded that this fellow was probably either looking for the person who lived here before me (he never actually said my name), or that he got the wrong house, the knife he allegedly drew on our downstairs neighbor was probably just a cell phone, and the only thing connecting me with him was that I came home a few minutes after the incident and I was talking to somebody on the phone (which was “too much of a coincidence” for our downstairs neighbor).  So now apparently the stoner who lives downstairs from us is convinced that I’m involved with a gang or something.  Long story short, I lost my writing thunder that night and just haven’t gotten around to finishing this post.  UNTIL NOW!
                Our most recent AmVets trip had a few more photo opportunities than the last, which oddly enough had nothing to do with the fact that Anna was looking for Halloween costume elements.  I decided to start off the evening with some food porn.  Anna had a punch card for pizza slices at Jitters Café and wanted to put it to use.  Needless to say, the stuff was delicious.  Anna had buffalo chicken and I had spinach and ricotta. 
                After that, we went to the thrift store.  After some quick poking around in the clothing sections, we went straight to the appliances and knick knacks.  The centrifuge was gone, regrettably, and I can’t help but wonder who decided they needed it.  Anna found the first interesting bit, exclaiming “Oh what a cute little girl, with her black… eyes… and white pupils…”
  It wasn’t until after I’d uploaded the picture to my computer that I noticed that the eyes seemed to be leaking whatever black fluid they were composed of.  It’s not altogether unusual to find items of creeping horror in thrift stores, but I was impressed that this was pretty much the first thing Anna found.  The second thing she found was a lamp that doubled as a wig.
 I guess the idea is that when you get rip-roaring drunk you can put this on your head instead of a lamp shade so people won’t know how inebriated you are?  I’m not sure if that logical path actually makes any sense, but I dare you to come up with a better one.
Anna also found a coping saw and bought it after she discovered that it was harder to kill yourself with than she initially thought. 
 This one took us a little while to figure out, but apparently it’s a back massager and it actually felt pretty nice, even through my jacket. 
                We moved on and found another somethingorother that was difficult to figure out until we looked at the label:
  Even then, we didn’t really understand why anyone would want it.  I understand how a windshield sun shade would be useful having owned a car with black leather seats before, but would you really want THAT to be the picture that’s displayed to the world?  Or, as Anna put it, “you may as well just have it be a banner that says ‘I AM A HUGE PERVERT, LOOK AT WHAT A HUGE PERVERT I AM, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?’”  Then again, the packaging just screamed 80s, and I guess that was a different time.  Either way, somebody bought it, never used it, then donated it to their local AmVets.
                After that Anna took a smoke break. 
 Or at least she would have if that was a pipe, which it wasn’t.  It was a stainless steel measuring shot glass with a bottle opener on the side, just sorta hangin’ out there.
And while we were in the drinking paraphernalia, I picked up this, mostly because it matches a glass we already had.  The cashier seemed saddened by the fact that I’d picked it up, apparently she had a collection going.
                Here’s where the fun started.  The figurines this time around were just full of opportunities.  Anna kicked things off by putting this ginger flower boy in an “I need an adult!” situation with Nurse Minnie Mouse.  I added the scandalized kid with absurd hat because why not. 
 I was glad to have Anna along because I don’t think I would have seen that one otherwise.  Soon after that we came upon what I always love to see during times like this: a bobble-head.  I love bobble heads for two reasons, the first being this:
 and the second being this:
  I feel it worth pointing out that we couldn’t actually figure out who that guy in the second picture was supposed to be in the first place.  Based on his clothes and hair and beard, he looked like a biblical figure, like he was supposed to be Jesus.  And maybe he was, but we had no way of knowing because the words inscribed on his base weren’t actually from the bible, just something vague and feel-goody about believing in yourself.  He was also holding a baby.  At any rate, that baby is now being held by the Red Wings mascot. 
                This one was a little perplexing.  At first glance I thought that the horse was being depicted trampling another horse.  I told Anna this, and she responded with “Wait, it isn’t?”  So apparently I’m not bad at interpreting these things, it just really looks like that horse is stomping the ever-loving snot out of another horse.  Anna has been making sculptures for most of her life and has gotten really freaking good at it, so her eyes can normally be trusted to tell what’s what.  Which is actually why I showed her this and asked her if she too saw a man with a mustache.  
 She said yes. 
                Another one we found perplexing was this representation of Noah’s Ark. 

 Or, rather, Noah’s Woefully Inadequate Row Boat.  Doesn’t really roll off the tongue the same way.  Apparently this is a whole motif that Anna takes issue with.  “I don’t get it,” she said, “every time I see a depiction of Noah’s Ark, it’s always got animals bulging out of it like it isn’t big enough.  Does everybody just think Noah was too stupid to make a big enough boat?”  I have to say I disagree to some respect because from a practical standpoint if you represented the Ark as it actually was it would just look like a big honkin’ boat, so naturally you’ve got to put a few animals here and there to show that it actually is Noah’s Ark.  However, you do have to draw the line somewhere, and this little ornament crosses that line with leaps and bounds.  For instance, if we were to presume that it was accurate, that would mean that the world would be overrun by rhinoceroses since LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE on that boat has a mate, including Noah.  Which, in turn, means that the Bible would have ended somewhere in the middle of Genesis, and all surviving copies would have been eaten by starving herbivores.  Maybe I’m reading a little too far into this.  (EDIT: I just took another look at that picture and realized that what I thought was a second rhinoceros is in fact a hippo.  So scratch that, no land creature would have survived.)
                Now for some one-liners:
I really wish this was a mask.
That Old Bob really knows his Health Salts.
It’s-a me!

And to finish things off, I don’t know why these carolers look so terrified.  Maybe they saw Santa popping out of his own head.  Either that or they’re creeped out by the camera-carrying drifter off to their left.