Monday, September 30, 2019

iWantToBelieve™

One of the things I find exceptionally funny about theology is how divisive it is. This should not be construed as a pillory of theology or the merit of it being studied. What I mean to say is that theology, both good or bad, predominantly becomes a pain point for believers in a larger community setting. So-and-so is "A," which so-and-so is "B" and, next thing you know, shit is going down.

I slaved over a new "Personal" blog image.
Behold my 18 year old self on the last day of HS!
I made a personal revelation a few weeks back. I tried writing about it, but to no avail. I was far too tired and frustrated. (This has NOT been my year.) The above has merit in that, for the first few years of going to church, I did not put my faith in Jesus, but the traditions surrounding Him and His church.

I keep going back to the night I was saved. I remember that there was a "cool" looking guy with frosted tips and a mild flirtation with obesity performing what I can only describe now as some kind of morality play. He held an apple in his hand, speaking to us about the original sin of eating from the fruit of knowledge. On the stage was a cheap mirror and he proceeded to throw the apple at the mirror. He said that our lives, without God, become like the mirror: shattered and irreparable. And while he was technically right, only today can I point out a myriad of reasons why the execution was, at it's core, a manipulative exercise. Still, it stirred in me a response to follow Christ. And I guess you could say that I've been confused ever since. (In a sublimely good way, of course.)

Something apparent from the several months of counseling that I have invested in so far is my never ending need for validation. It is a pathological fixation, from what I've been told, and the repercussions have sent ripples throughout my life. It has affected my personal life, my professional career in IT administration, and (I've just realized) my relationship with God.

Thinking back on my life, always wanting to be in the right standing with society, becoming a Christian was likely, in my 15 year old mind, the best possible decision. Existentially speaking, I could now be in the "right" with almost 2000 years of tradition and structure to cement in the certainty that I was "doing the right thing" by accepting God's promises. The irony here is that I was violating the entire paradigm of Christianity by doing something, to get something. I accepted Christ as my authority so that I could be "in the right."

Now, it certainly didn't help that I was attending a church that produced, with factory-like proficiency, people that walked, talked, acted like Christians, but whom may not have even been Christians in the first place. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it was a "Non-Denominational" church, which without qualm produce the least common denominator of "Christian," many of whom I imagine practice because their belief was passed from mother to daughter, father to son. They, in essence, operating from the same position I was. "I'm doing this because this is the right thing to do."

So imagine my sudden shock of arriving at the conclusion that I had not really accepted Christ because I wanted him, but because I wanted something out of it: the certainty that what I was doing was the "right thing to do."

There are so many ways to proceed from here and I am content to stay on the page, but with all of life's changes in elevation I suspect I will be thinking about this more as time goes on. Ideally we should believe in Jesus like we believe in superheroes. We love what he does and how he saved us, and aspire to be more like him everyday.



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Crawling From the Wreckage

Oh! The joy of a wireless hotspot. As I write this I'm on my way down to LA to visit my sister-in-law in Redondo Beach. My kid has yet to meet her cousins . It's only been two years, right? (And one of them was born on the exact same day as Eowyn!)

Many moons ago I wrote my last update. suffice to say the last month or two has been harrowing for a handful of reasons. I had a nervous breakdown (was due for one) and had a spurt of creativity fueled by the turbulent period. I wanted to, as well, invest some time into some more developed ideas. At least one of them will get a longer format treatment to be featured at the end of my next book.

LA is a strange place. The heart of such whimsy (made fun of in such films as Demolition Man and Beverly Hills Cop) and violence. It's likely the home to California's future mega-multi-metropolitan-dystopia. Similar to the adage "you are what you eat," if the city was conscious, it would be screaming with existential terror because so many of it's inhabitants yearn for the end, a la Mad Max-styled diesel punk or the neon highlights of a Blade Runner-esque cyber-punk vista. (Pick your poison.) All of this is popularized in the film industry that has so molded the psychological and topographical landscape of the LA city basin. I don't think I could do it, living here. When the big one hits Sunset Boulevard will erupt like Vesuvius.

It's nice to finally begin the third edit of my new book. It's the final stretch, after 4 years of working on it. I had originally told myself to finish the book in two years, but, unless that's the only thing I'm doing, fat chance. I vacillate between the two, but the third draft is the most important draft in my mind. It's like sanding a piece of wood, or stitching up a laceration: the work isn't done, but its LOOKING like it's done. And that, if anything else, is a salve on my addled brain. Seeing that all that work and perseverance wasn't just for nothing.

If any of you have been following me in this journey, thank you. Seriously, thank you. It can be infuriating writing a book, especially when you know damn well that there are so many other books out there that you are fighting to compete with. With as little ceremony as possible I must say, Let me be YOUR author, friends. Nothing in this world gives me more joy than telling stories.

On another note, I got my fist unsolicited review! Very excited! See it below:


Thank You Mystery Reviewer!


Sunday, September 8, 2019

"Madison Monroe: Investigative Therapist!" - An Original Short By Stuart Warren


I had this idea when I was on my way back into work. I had just seen my therapist and was working out the idea that I was one of many patients. Which isn't unreasonable to think, but in a profession that focuses on mental health and wellness, I wondered how empathy played into it. To see a patient, to want good things for a patient, it all seems a bit Hollywood. But then I had this funny idea that led to this, and could turn into something more...



“This one,” Madison thought. “He’s a jumper…”
A languid fan turned side to side in the dry heat. Midday sun overhead heating the adobe husk as if they were roasting in a pizza oven. Madison twisted in her seat, chewing on the end of her ballpoint pen. Her blouse was sedate, a paisley amalgam of earth tones that emphasized space, secreting away the physical alacrity of three hundred combined hours of expensive yoga and personal training at Perpetual Fitness. It’s what the job required on any given day. And, despite maintaining a slight—though healthy—distance from clients, nestled into the fortress of throw cushions surrounding her, she awaited the call to go over the top into no-man’s land
Across from her, reclining stereotypically on a couch that she scored from a thrift store two blocks from her downtown office, was David: typical white male, mid-thirties, struggling with anticipatory anxiety and workplace stress. Additionally: fear of bright lights, obsession with oil slicks, mentions blood every so often with uncomfortable familiarity... David’s proclivity to fiddle with his clothes, to nervously pluck at his anemic beard: tell-tale signs of clinical compulsion. Deliberate and textbook. She knew now, without exception, that David was the murderer. Christ, he even had dried blood under his fingernails. Oil painter, my ass...
“It’s the same thing, every time. The lights. They’re a trigger,” he said.
Looking at her notes, a scrawl of shorthand psychiatric notations, she circled the macabre profession casually, written out with paradoxical whimsy. It was almost two in the afternoon. Her next client was already out in the waiting room, scrolling through social media and listening to the warm and fuzzy NPR broadcast featuring a documentary on the lives of polyamorous circus musicians.
“So, David, when you avoid this…” She paused, prompting the word in her mind like a late night talk show host. “You avoid this stimulation, right? You’re building it up. Making it out to be something catastrophic, like that stone that was rolling after Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
David sniggered. “Mmmhmm, I loved that movie.”
This was typical David: escape coping through nostalgia.
“David? Did you read the chapter in the workbook yet?”
He tilted his head sideways. Madison saw the reflection of the ceiling light in his glassy stare.
“No,” he replied. His posture clenched and relaxed, like a blood pressure monitor. “I’ve been wanting to, meaning to… It’s just been a hard week.”
“I’m sorry,” Madison cooed.
Quickly changing topics, she continued.
“We’ve established that you tend to worry, think apocalyptic thoughts. But… you know… not everything is the end of the world, David.”
Madison watched David roll over, onto his right arm, placing his head on his pillow as if he were about to sleep. He laughed. A disembodied voice, strained, nervous, unraveling like a roll of toilet paper.
Pushing against her couch, making a half-hearted effort of a pushup, he replied, “I know, right?”
“And you still think this is because of the loud noises that you were subjected to? As a child?” Madison probed further. Time was cheap, borrowed at this point in the session. The sting was in process. The cops were already outside. She could hear the police chopper cutting through the air overhead.
“My father had a gun. Late at night on the farm he would go out to check the traps around his chicken coop. And it was always unexpected, the shot. You would hear it in the night echoing through the hills like a jet engine, or a bundle of dynamite. Fourth of July, I hated the most. I would be dragged there by a babysitter or family friend and cover my head under the blanket for an hour. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And I would shiver. They would laugh and cheer like it wasn’t a big fucking deal. And afterwards, I would look up and see it: the phosphorus afterglow of smoke, like blood spilling out onto the night sky.”
She needed more time. “David, did you come up with that right now? That’s really creative.”
Immobile, he looked up while lying prone. “Yeah? It just came to me…”
She leaned forward, masking her victorious smile, making wide strokes across her note pad. Not circles, or even underlines. It was the signature brush stroke of an epiphany. “So… okay, David. This is an ongoing thing. What steps have you taken to desensitize yourself to sudden increases in volume? What do you feel does the most to walk these panic episodes back to a place of calmness?”
But, it was too late. Chatter in her ear. The extraction imminent. The shrill ping of microphone feedback made her wince. David sat up. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“Ah, yeah… Just a migraine,” Madison replied, irritated. “It’s that time of the month…”
So much for the signed confession, she lamented.
At the corner of the office, from a slim five panel door—exit only—a sudden compression of blasting air. An explosion of brass colored woodchips, projectile fragments of door knob, and deadbolt barely missing her head. Through the haze, David scurried like a rat, rolling off the couch, and clumsily pushed the air conditioning unit out of the window frame.
“Down! On the ground! NOW!”
Ignoring the officers, David stumbled through the open window, reaching out for a railing that was not there. Afterward, Madison heard a scream and a chorus of cries below.
Fuck. She rolled on the ground in pain. “Why? I was so close!” she shouted.
As the officers swarmed in, inspecting every inch of the room for danger, they parted for Detective Jefferies. A gaunt face with high cheekbones and wiry hair slick with oil, he wore second hand slacks and a ragged windbreaker stained in the color of blue ice. He circled quizzically around the ruined office, sucking on a lollipop. It was her fault. Once, she made the recommendation for seeking a health substitute after watching Jefferies chain smoke a pack in two hours. Not candy, though. She didn’t recall recommending grape flavored Big League Chew to baseball players hooked on chewing tobacco. And carrots would just exude the aesthetics of wise cracking rabbits. Jefferies kicked a piece of wood across the floor, distantly remorseful. “Sorry about your place…” He grimaced, crunching into the candy and discarded the stick, flicking it like a cigarette butt.
Madison clambered for the windowsill in a daze. She saw onlookers gathering around what remained of David after his three story fall. It was a waste, losing a client. He was worth, at the very least, four more sessions.
Reluctantly peeling herself away from the tragedy, she left the window and slumped down in her chair. Drywall dust scattered out from under her.
“We raided his house this morning, in front of the bodega on Third Street. One of those craftsman homes with the paint peeling like at get out. Finally got a judge to sign the warrant. The construction work in the backyard on those new condos was the perfect cover, you know… for hiding the bodies. Just like you said, all of them were members of the gun club in the valley.”
Jefferies unwrapped another lolly and put it in his mouth.
“They all were—get this—partially exploded! As if fireworks were jammed down their throats.”
Madison hung her head, massaging her temples. “The confession… it was almost there…” She muttered.
“Sir?” One of the officers came in, dragging a fragile nymph of a boy. “This one was in the waiting room.”
                Madison leaned forward, peeking around Jefferies.
“Mark? Hey, I’m sorry... Can we reschedule for Thursday? Something came up…”
For the rest of the afternoon she sorted through her case files: photographs, slides, newspaper clippings, and whatever notes she had written down from her sessions with David. The office space she rented out was a part of a historical location from the turn of the century, before there was such a thing as global warming and the nights still got chilly. She lit a fire in her office and tossed the paperwork in, almost nostalgic. Mostly angry.
Weekends. That sacred time when one could lay out on the beach and get a $100 tan while shooing away the peeping homeless. It was time to get out and see the world. So, that night she met up with Joselyn and Steven, a pair she had met at the county correctional facility the year before. They had good energy, well balanced. Yin and Yang. Steven’s tendency to overanalyze and hyperventilate when his favorite character died on television and Joselyn’s frenetic and manic fascination with World War Two trivia and samurai swords. Kat-something…
They were at the local favorite of hipster and disenchanted youth renown, Your Face’s House, at the end of the bar, holding down the corner closest to the bathroom and the karaoke machine—just in case. Joselyn was jawing on about her latest client, Charlie, who committed suicide the day before the failed arrest on David.
“And that’s another thing. They never teach you how to profile. You think you have a jumper, but he’s really a cutter. You think you have a cutter, but she’s really prone to shoot up and OD.” She took a long drag on her cigarette, burning away a centimeter of tobacco. Into her chest went all the spite of the world, Madison figured. A convection oven dotted with freckles and rosacea. “I mean… fuck me for making a difference…”
“We do what we can,” Steven murmured. He took another sip of his Guinness and wiped the foam from his moustache. (Joselyn called it the “Tom,” as in Tom Selleck. Madison would always cringe, knowing damn well that it was a walrus moustache, trimmed short to the lip.)
“This last week,” Madison slurred. “I almost… I almost got ’im. Fuck… Fuckin’ cops… Shit.”
“Next time sweetie,” Joselyn stated with certainty. “Remember: the opioid crisis is the best thing since 9/11. Fuckin’ Pandora ’s Box. You’ll get another one, eventually.”
Madison swirled her drink counterclockwise, She bent over it, slumping down.
“When do I stop, you know? Caring?”
This caught the others off guard.
“Where do I draw the line? These aren’t just paychecks. They’re people.”
“Never get attached to the client,” Steven cautioned, nonchalant, flattening his cardigan closer to the bulbous outline of his torso. “If you did, life would be romantic comedies.”
“The shitty kind,” Joselyn agreed, smothering her cigarette. “Like, Bridget Jones’ Diary shitty. And you can forget that Hugh Grant shit…”
“I have one guy,” Steven began, calm and collected, staring too hard into the wood grain of the bar. “He’s nice, good kid. Believes—hands to God—that there’s lizard people, as in the conspiracy theories that you see on the Youtube. He’s intelligent, polite. Sometimes even poignant… How to proceed—that’s what they don’t teach you at med school.”
The bartender broke away from a group of college kids and checked in with the three, wiping the inside of a pint glass and setting it behind the bar.
“You guys good? Need any food?”
Joselyn declined while Steven search through the menu hastily.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” He replied.
“And do you want that medium or welldone”
“Medium.”
The bartender smiled and collected Steven’s menu, leaving a card behind with a number sketched onto it.
Joselyn eyed the card jealously. “Medium, huh?”
“Medium,” Steven repeated. “I don’t spend much time in restaurants, but I know how hard it is to cook hamburgers.”
Madison was busy looking at the card. She smiled, surprised, frankly.
“You’re gay, Steven? Aren’t you married?”
“No… and yes, I am married. I just like the validation,” he said professionally.
Madison lifted her drink. “I’ll drink to that.”
After the burger came, which was on the edge of medium-well, Madison gathered her things and left the bar, hoping to get an early start the next morning. Saying goodbye, she ventured out into the wet October night, checking her phone as belligerent students weaved across the sidewalks. 16 messages from Mark. Jesus Christ. Another from a number she didn’t recognize. She checked it as she jaywalked across the street. The noise on the other end was modulated.
“Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enragèd,
And of forty been three times fifteen
In durance soundly cagèd
On the lordly lofts of Bedlam,
With stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding-dong,
With wholesome hunger plenty,
And now I sing, Any food, any feeding,
Feeding, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing…”

Saturday, August 3, 2019

"In Observance of Space Time" - An Original Short By Stuart Warren


 Seems like everyone is doing a video with DeepFake these days: a technology that allows the over laying of a digital face onto a real body. (But of course you know that.) It made me think, “why not a DeepFake for reality?” Once we know the ingredients of the universe, what’s to stop us from baking?


In downtown Santa Barbara, in the Neon District by the train tracks, venture capitalists gather at a coffee stained countertop, cramped with cracked cell phones and money clips. Across from them a haggard grad student in a threadbare T-shirt—once red, now pink, perforated around the neckline—types into a simulator awash in cyberpunk highlights. He’s about to change the world.

It couldn’t be possible, even in Frazetta-scaped science fiction rags, they said. The universe is made of strings, infinitesimal and taught with reality. One needs only to equalize the frequencies, mix spectrums across the dimensions, and you can be an astronaut-ballerina, that puts out fires and has x-ray vision. For one hundred million dollars and change, pocket dimensions fit in your coffee tin, palmed like a silver dollar populated with sentient life.

Anthony sits in his living room, plastered with melting clocks and anorexic giraffes. The Napa valley sun, wet with dew, stabs rays through the crystal endtable. In his hands is the DeepReality™ projector. It’s shivering in 5 dimensional light, and Anthony can’t shake the image of liquefying porn stars from his mind.

Madeline is on her way into the office, lying on a pristine private beach in French Indonesia. On her customized planet, orbiting three suns at the edge of the galaxy she named “M-243”—M for Madeline—she is the majority shareholder of Fabian Micro Technologies. She is experimenting product rollouts there, and in sixteen other dimensions to predict Fall projections. Platinum lily sells better in the Asian markets. Chrome olive didn’t test well in QA due to poor color retention.

Thugnanimous is at a golf resort with his menagerie of publicists and promoters. In the hotel sitting room, a pound of cocaine is being haggled over. Out on the impossible green—an emerald island outside of Phoenix—his girlfriend is training for the US Women’s Open. Far away from his lawn chair perched on the deck, he is a child, running across a beach with his father (who stayed) and his brother (who wasn’t killed in a drive by shooting when he was 3 years old). Afterward, they are going to get ice cream in Cardiff, and then drive back to Carlsbad.

Despite the personal testimonials by tech moguls and pharmaceutical companies, the premier success of DeepReality™, as reported by the New York Times, is the testbed of constitutional reboots and experimental politics. “Despots, 39% of the time, avert ecological catastrophe by implementing climate change policies at the onset of the industrial revolution, whereas democratic socialists have a mean of 85 years before open hostilities between constitution adopters and anarchists erupt into full-scale genocide. ‘DeepReality™ succeeds where all speculative fiction and philosophy fails,’ said the company founder, Horus Cort. ‘It’s the ultimate thought experiment, the wet dream of R and D firms everywhere…’ When asked about the controversy over the sentience and preservation of life within these fabricated dimensions, representatives for Cort declined to comment.”

There is no actual way to escape into the facsimile realms, according to experts hired by the DeepReality™ Board of Directors. Despite the advancement of aggressive bacterial strains, overpopulation, and radioactive contamination, “We are here to stay. This is our world to fix, not to escape and do it all over again.” Outside the DeepReality campus protesters wear lead lined ponchos and pound the gates ineffectually. Horus’s son is escorted by military contractors to and from school. Melanie Cort is putting flowers on her parent’s grave at Hollywood Forever. Within minutes they shrivel and boil like salted snails. She is thinking about her husband, and his dirty secret.

By the time the last leaf falls on to the polonium caked earth, Osmund Cort, steps into his private projector with his girlfriend, never looking back. The sky is oily and metallic. The air is phosphorescent. Vacant skyscrapers covered in ash stand silent, their skeletal remnants melting together on the horizon like Lovecraftian horrors. Here, on Earth Prime, not even the cockroaches survived.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Art of Pissing on Things And a Confession


This week I purchased a car, against my will, due to the untimely demise of my semi-reliable 2003 Honda Civic. This will be my first “big loan” I have ever endeavored to pay. So you can imagine the intensity of feelings going about the Warren apartmenthold. There were many signatures, many squiggly lines, on digital and paper mediums. This, incidentally, provoked something in me today while I was on my way to church: the nature of signatures, instances of them in nature and society, and what they ultimately mean in various contexts.

Signatures are official. They afford a sense of ownership or liability (or both). Typically I sign about 20 forms a day on average, be they while shopping or while installing software on a client’s machine. The EULA (End-User License Agreement) is probably the most common. Another is the Acceptable Use Policy, when signing into a server (intimating the credentialing requirements for the user signing in). In other situations, for instance when signing a check or loan contract, signatures are also an admonition of responsibility.

This then suggests the binding nature of a contract, typically concluded with a signature. A contract infers that the signatory (the one who signs) will meet the requirements of a bargain, or face consequences (financially or legally) when they don’t.

The need for there to be something like a signature is, make no mistake, branded into us. (Considering both evolutionary and sociological systems.) Tribalism begets ownership, to declare sovereignty. From cave dwellings to gang graffiti nothing has changed. In sexual politics, likewise, feminism and chauvinism are methods, ultimately to claim dominance over another—control, as much as ownership, is just the means to declare freedom of purpose. In order to make a declaration, there needs to be a signature. To even put it crudely, the existence of something called a “money shot” (please don’t look it up), is proof of the biological origination of the signature and that it is as bestial as a dog pissing on a fence.

So far signatures carry a negative connotation, one that is permeated with ideas of control, dominance, ownership, and consequence. I had difficulty coming up with examples of instances when signatures had good intentions. A marriage contract is an acknowledgement of a union, I assume for tax purposes. In religion, of the Judeo-Christian variants, a contract is not really present. A covenant is not a contract, because the agreement does not terminate when one or both parties fail to meet the criterion specified. A signature is used, either ritually or liturgically, but a covenant ultimately is about what a person will commit to. On either side, the required action proceeds outward, onto another.

Maybe the reason for all this is the anxiety and trepidation I feel about loans is the uncertainty of being able to pay them? And when I get scared I react by "being strong," which by my definition is reading books and acquiring knowledge. It's like, if I know more about something, maybe I will be able to control my destiny that much more. I can't even watch television without getting stressed, hoping the guy gets the girl, that everything will be okay. That's this whole week. (I could write a whole blog on it. Maybe I should?) Excuse the sudden outburst. It's tangential. My whole life I have been hurt with misinformation, with people misleading me to conclude wrongly about something. I never expected to write about signatures today, but behind every signature is a statement and an agreement. What if I don't know what will happen next? My psychiatrist has encouraged me to think "So What?" statements instead of "What If? statements, and that has helped a lot. 

"What if I need to buy a new car?" 

"So what if I buy a car? It's a common life event that everyone experiences, rich and poor, and I have nothing to fear. God takes care of me and loves me and shows me that he has helped with bills before. He will again." 

See what I did up there? That's me taking advantage of the moment. That's my queue to lie down for a little while... 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

"The Wake" - An Original Short By Stuart Warren


Awash in cerulean light, I’ve walked under the firmament all my life. Never left the hanging city though... Scholars and natural philosophers debate to no end what is, or what could be, beyond it.

Like them, I live in the Wake, where waters flow eternal, from pole to pole.

The hanging city goes by a proper name. The elders call it Loo’alblo. Still, most just call it the Wake: the everyday “Average Joe” folks. Hardworking schmucks. Myself? I’m a priest and, or, local informant—should the need arise. I interpret the scrolls of time. Long ago, the Great Sculptor held his chisel, and he hammered into the coral to make our world. Like mold, we grew in the crevasses, spawned in the open air of sunlit plains. Our first nomadic ancestors journeyed here, following the living path—the algae, grown in the rock. Divine times. Good times.

While I meditate on my mat in the great light, I consult with those seeking the will of the Great Sculptor, occasionally making a deal or two in the same stride. Lots of kids… Young, eager to be closer to the source. Some are cheaters. Want to spawn with another mate, recreate on the side—I have a notebook for that, when opportunity knocks. It’s a simple life. Mostly, I enjoy their stories: to be connected with the culture, the mire, the gestalt of commonality.

For instance: a farmer came to me once, confided in me, said that his living path was dying, that the great light was too great, burning it. I proceeded through the “thees” and “thous,” naturally. The beasts beyond the firmament came up. Titans and giants, treading the horizon, afterimages projected onto the sky full of cosmic terror. Wild shit, I know…

One of my regulars, who spawns for payment, came to me scared out of her wits by a “vision.” She told me, quite confidently, that the eternal gods that be were to shut down the great flow of aqua. After that, the great drying will come, and we will burn on the surface of the coral, forever and ever, again. It’s “routine,” she said.

I sent her away, promising her peace, diffusing the chaos, making her feel all warm and fuzzy.

Later now, I regret that. Their fibrous hands, their sweet looking faces, their implements and the tremors produced by them, cause quakes that shatter our homes. They seem to like their work, the bastards.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

"Today's My Birthday!"




I generally post this on every birthday notification I get on Facebook.

Sublime...
Today is my birthday. I am officially in my “30s” and life is mostly the same.

The other day I was working on a short story, one that I had had my mind on for a while. When I showed it to Alyssa, she told me that she had no idea what it was about until I explicitly told her. Without divulging the content, I find myself in these positions, occasionally, where I’m trying to describe a three dimensional object to a two dimensional being. Living in the lesser reality, the complexity and comprehension of the sphere is impossible. (Similar to how we can theoretically describe 4th dimensional objects with mathematics, but actually physically manifesting one is impossible.)

This was a struggle for Spirit of Orn, where I struggled to describe eye glasses without referring to terminology that is pregnant with connotation to and reference to eyeware.

Back to the matter at hand: my birthday.

I was born at 11:15am. So I often don’t quite feel like something notable has happened until mid-morning. So it’s anticlimactic when people in the office say “Happy Birthday” knowing well that won’t be the case for at least a few hours. A co-worker advised me that this is acceptable because we celebrate the “birthday” not “Birthminute,” and I will concede to this. But with my ridged punctuality, it seems so vulgar.

Regarding the image above, I love Perry Bible Fellowship, for the existential humor. I think when I first discovered this gem on the internet, I was immediately enamored with the bleakness and cathartic qualities of the author and the shapes that birthed from his pen. If you have time I highly recommend preordering the 10th anniversary printing of the original selection of strips by Darkhorse Books.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

All-Star GodMan

When I read All-Star Superman, I always cry. (This is what I did over the 4th of July weekend.)

I believe this is because Grant Morrison taps into what every man, woman, and child on Earth desperately wants: Hope.



For me this is special. Because as I came to understand, and what I must now force myself to believe every day, is that what I want in Superman is already available in Jesus Christ.

Since his inception, Superman has evolved to include savior-like imagery to the tune of a Semitic messiah, mainly Jesus of Nazareth. So I take pride in the idea that I can tell someone the Gospel by leaning on Superman's origin story and get almost there. (Emphasis here on "almost" because all allusions and allegories fall short of describing the true nature of the Christ and his relationship to us and to the other members of the Trinity.)



Still I find it wonderful that this is a thing.

I also find it disturbing, that sometimes I lend more affection to Superman than Jesus. That something demonstrably imaginary moves me (at times) more than genuine article. I struggle to make amends with this wild disconnect. Simultaneously, I must remind myself that, like the pagans of old, culture often brings us closer to the Gospel, because God has breathed his Spirit into us, and has made us in his own image and likeness. And when we struggle to comprehend him, we attempt to do so in the same language used to explain how we experience life and the cultures that evolve from our own society throughout the ages.

So instead of feeling despair, perhaps I should feel wonder? My God does not speak in spite of culture but from the mouth of culture.

From Superman's own mythos I can adapt the famous quotes because of this:
"Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son." (Superman, 1977)
“Truth, justice, and the American way” (Adventures of Superman, radio series, 1942.
To this:
(The Father, declaring) "Live as one of them, my Son, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They could be a great people, Jesus; they wish to be. They only lack Our light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity to worship, I have sent them you... my only son.
 “I am Truth, Justice, and the Way and the Light"
Syncretism aside, attributing cultural expressions to God in light of culture is nothing new. How Should We Then Live? does a far better job cataloging the depiction of God, of ourselves, and of our achievements in classical and modern art, demonstrating that the mediums communicate, at least subconsciously, our collective consciousness.



This week my church is doing a vacation bible school, which I am super excited about. While I've had my share of harrowing experiences at these camps in my youth, mostly due to the use of bad theology and emotional manipulation, Reality Santa Barbara possesses the awareness to acknowledge the aforementioned. The timing of this writing, my meditations of Superman and Jesus, are rather fortuitous it would seem.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

My Aunt Irene and Her Life

I learned something when I got married that I didn't appreciate until a year ago or so. As much as we have our faults and issues, one of the key aspects of marriage is the imparting of the best of the other person unto the other, and vice versa. This is demonstrated in the unions of my friends and family, yet most of all I see it in the, shall I say, intervention of my Aunt Irene into the inhospitable and cantankerous family that represents the Warrens.

My aunt is kind in an old-world kind of way. Being of Germanic descent, she is strong willed and stubborn, but robust in her charity and personal humor. I met her when my family went to Germany, where my uncle was stationed in Stuttgart on a US military base. (I'm certain I met her before then, but I do not remember.) Like a good protestant, she trained my uncle to carry out a weekly bible study and we always ate the best food. Later my aunt and uncle came to the states and took up residence in my grandmother's home.

My tumultuous teenage years were subdued slightly by my trips down the road to the house, while I was staying with my dad on the weekends. She never turned me away, and I took the opportunity to eat her food and play with my cousins and go swimming in the backyard. Occasionally I would bring my anime films over, which would mostly cultivate scorn from my cousins, but at the end of the day, genuinely curious, I would see her watching them. In this way, she was willing to experience something new, which I can say confidently that I rarely observed even from my own parents, if any.

I should say now, before I continue, that my aunt is dying from complications due to bladder cancer.

I took it hard when I heard the news. I contemplated going home from work when I read my uncle's email. But doing so seemed silly in hindsight. It was an outcome that seemed to loom in the recent years, one that I was never willing to accept. What would happen to her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners? I've often read that what set Christians apart from the pagans in the early church was their willingness to break bread with those that seemed to be undesirable. Wounds would heal over a meal, enemies would become friends. Like some silly fantasy epic, where the "church" was considered holy ground and a place for peace, I feel strongly that Irene's food became the adhesive to bind and seal the fractured relationships that plagued the Warrens.

So, while she is still living, I am writing this. My hope is that while people are living they can see how much they mean to others.

But even so, I am comforted with the reality that I will see her again, because she is raised in Christ Jesus. This life we live is just the fleeting wisps of an extinguished candle. Everything after is peace and communion with the body of Christ, where people can finally be free to be human.

So if you can, think of my aunt and how our lives mean something to others. Each of us are billiards, knocking into each other, and our effect rippling beyond the horizon. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Mysterious Flame of Highland Valley Road

As I slowly work through the novels of Umberto Eco, I find myself on the cusp of finishing The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, still enthralled with the adventures of Yambo rediscovering his past after succumbing to retrograde amnesia.

Most of the book takes place at the summer house of his youth in a small town named Solara (in Northern Italy, though there are two towns named Solara, both very close to one another). There in the attic, the scenery, the books on his shelf, he encounters his past, attempting to piece together his lost past.  It occurred to me, about halfway into the book, that Yambo's experience was much like my own, and I'm thought about it sometime, meaning to get thoughts to paper.

After my parents split up, I spent my weekends at my father's ranch house in North County San Diego. It was rather isolated, literally atop a mountain named after an incident during the Mexican-American War, when Mexican Forces attempted to starve a portion of the US Army. I spent most of my weekends learning every inch of the 12 acres my father owned, which was not particularly awful. There was plenty of fruit available for casual consumption, which was convenient, because my father (at the time, he's a lot better now) was a stingy bastard and wouldn't buy us food (or clothing, or toys, or bedding, or anything else). Given that my father was a farmer and local seller at a farmers market, I'm sure he considered it a tax write off.

My father in his 20's (I think)

My father, even to this day, remains an enigma to me. Most, if not all, information I've learned about him has been via secondhand resources (friends, family, and various documents). And much like Yambo, I spent the days at the ranch house either combing the countryside for interesting things to discover, or searching through his personal effects, hoping to glean any information I could on this mysterious person that was my father.

The garage was most interesting, full of bric-a-brac. Newspapers, chemicals, car parts, bike parts, dusty old books and magazines, furniture, and amazing booze (of which I did not partake) could be found in the heap. And even though I have hazy memories of my childhood when my parents were together, the many portions of that house I grew up in were ever changing. My father was attempting to remodel the house for most of my life, replacing the porch with a master bedroom and leaving the upstairs carpet-less for at least 10 years. But despite the slow changes, I was able to glean a few things...


  • My dad had almost 20 years worth of National Geographic collected and meticulously organized. I would spend most of my time looking at the pictures inside. Discovering that some had natives in the nude would fuel an early addiction to pornography. 
  • My dad was a cinephile, and had a wide array of films (both good and bad). When the first DVD players were available, my dad purchased one, along with a $6,000 widescreen TV (rated at 480p). At around the same time, my mom was asking for help for the cost of my braces. My dad said they were too expensive. 
  • My dad had a plethora of maps. Detailed, topographical maps of San Diego County, Hawaii, and others that came with his National Geographic subscription. 
  • My dad was a collector of antiques. He once used a 100 year old apple press to make apple juice on the sly to sell at the farmers market. (Probably breaking numerous health violations in the process.) What's more amusing was the intoxicating stench of alcohol produced, as the rinds fermented on the hill beside our house. 
  • My dad had a large safe. It was ancient, not unlike those seen being broken into by bandits in westerns. I knew he used it for collecting coins. Every once and a while I would see him depositing new valuables, recently purchased from California Numismatic Funding off of East Vista Way. 
  • My dad had a storage unit, which was once a large camping trailer beside his watering meter up the hill. Inside was all kinds of things, including a vintage pool table. When he sold it to my aunt, she once told me in passing that the rubber cushions were the original ones from when the pool table was manufactured in the late 1800s. 
  • My dad preferred to keep his wares in mint condition. His VHS tapes often still had the plastic wrap covering the paper containers, preserved by cutting slits around the bottoms of the tapes. 
Today, unlike Yambo's eventual recovery of his faculties (via a stroke), I still know very little about my dad. I wish I did. The house was sold in 2005 or 2006, I can't remember when exactly...

I hated that place. I hated every minute I spent there, so much so that when my cousins from Germany moved stateside I would spend most of my high school years there, leaving my poor brother to fend for himself alone. Incidentally, the house was burned down during the Witch Creek Fire in 2007, when I was away at UCSB for my Freshman year. It wasn't until a year or two later that I revisited the orchard to find my father's orchard in ruins. The subsequent tenant let the property go to waste, and what was left was destroyed. 

Life is funny like that, isn't it?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Sight Without Sight" - An Original Short by Stuart Warren

His coat was a charcoal grey, faded black, from months of exposure in the noonday sun upon the saltflats. Now he knew, what is was like to be hunted, a fear potent with the tang of sweat and urine.

In the cataclysm, the great war between the United People of Corvelia and the rest of the known world, he was a janitor at the Camp of the Sunless, a place where prisoners of war were sent to go mad in sensory deprivation. Moping up feces and sick, he would hear their screams outside, encountering each other in the abject blackness.

He was once called to the recreation room, where bloated generals stroked what remained of their graying hair in the polish of aluminum. In an argument over cards, one of them had flipped the table, spilled some coffee and trays of boiled cabbage, served with salted potatoes. And as he cleaned, covertly, he would look into the void at those who had not yet died, shambling forward with spittle on their uniforms.

Sitting on the transit platform, waiting for a railcar to take him to the park, Lawrence closed his eyes, trying to forget.

Two hours later he was in a park, thrust into the center of the green that defiantly remained despite the breath and scope of New Halberad.

As he sat on the bench, feeding the rats that skittered around between his legs, another body approached. He could hear the tapping of a stick against the cobblestone streets, and in the periphery it sat beside him. Lawrence glanced sideways and saw an elderly woman perfectly still, with rummaging fingers diligently retrieving a leather sack of mouse feed. Etched into her arm was a black sun, with edges faded like spilt watercolor.

Stories of the Camp of the Sightless were varied. As to how the political prisoners and activists lost their sight is up to interpretation. Many simply entered and could no longer see, met by a blinding whiteness that burned out their retinas instantly.

She hummed the tune of a ballad, scattering the feed across the ground.

"Well? I'm here. Will we talk, or are you just content to sit there?"

Lawrence straightened up, sniffling.

"Good day to you," he said, attempting to smile.

"Is it? I can't tell..."

The words were like sinking barbs, tearing at his flesh. Nevertheless, she chuckled.

"I'm giving you a hard time, Lawrence... I can feel it. The sun is out. It must be beautiful outside."

Lawrence had met Cordelia at one of the amnesty dinners, five or six years previously. She was slightly older than him, having been twenty years old at the time she was taken from her college dormitory. He never asked why.

"I had the dream again," Lawrence said, leaning forward. His knee bounced up and down under the ball of his foot. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

Cordelia chuckled. "I don't know if I can. But you are here. That is, at least, something."

A rat crawled up his leg to Lawrence's hand. Open palmed, Lawrence pressed his eyes shut and let it feed.

"I could have done more. I was a janitor. I had keys..." he shivered, waiting anxiously for the rat to leave.

Cordelia snorted with a laugh that shook her whole body. "What could a boy do?"

"Something..."

"We are here, Lawrence," Cordelia interrupted. "That is enough."

Saturday, June 15, 2019

How to Make a Sandwich

Making sandwiches at a deli, catering event, or at home for a friend, is a sacred obligation. Don't fuck it up.

Some might say, "But why does it matter? A sandwich is up to interpretation. There are many kinds of sandwich. After all, some would argue a hotdog is a sandwich."

To them I would reply, "You could believe that if you were a moron and didn't subscribe to Sandwich Fundamentalism."

After working a natural juice bar and deli for about 6 months, let me tell you, there is only one way to make a sandwich.

Otherwise cheese and tomato placement is flawless... Good Job!

Step 1: Take two pieces of bread. Lay them flat on your prep counter. Is there a whole in one slice? Is one slice noticeably more thin than the other? If either is true, get new bread. Don't be a bastard. (If cutting a slice from a roll, like ciabatta, cut the roll with the side facing up directly downward. None of this flat-on-the-counter-awkward-side-cut bullshit. 

Step 2: Apply condiments. How many will be used? Two? Then apply them separately on each side. (Ie. mustard on one side, mayo on the other.) Lightly apply them! Do you have any idea how quickly condiments soak through bread? You can't even get to the picnic benches outside the supermarket before its falling apart, into a soggy mess, and all you can think about is how (and why) a sandwich suddenly became a metaphor for your poor life choices.

Step 3: Apply meat and cheese. The foundation of all sandwiches is built on the bedrock of meat and cheese. They constitute the barrier between the wetness of tomato and lettuce. The rigidity of cheese, it's shape and preparation should make where it goes absolutely intuitive. If you put it in the center, then fuck you, you should be fired for crimes against humanity. 

I will add that there is no international consensus, as of yet, for the proper placement of meat. This is due to the varied states of meat. (Pulled pork may be naturally "wet" when applied, while roast beef and turkey could be dry.) If meat is dry, apply directly against the opposite slice of bread as the cheese. If the meat is wet, take each slice of cheese (There are always two. But you only have one? Jesus Christ...) 

*sandwich anger intensifies*


Step 4: Apply vegetables in even layers on top of the meat (which serves as the floor of the sandwich). Don't stack the sandwich! If it's one of those fuckers that asks for every vegetable to inflate the mass of the sandwich, make every layer evenly distributed. This is high art. You are Leonardo da Vinci. Don't let this fucking pleb' tell you how its done!

Step 5: Fold top half on top (with only cheese and condiment applied) on to lower half. You may be tempted to mash the top downward onto the meat and vegetable medley, but you don't have to. If you did "Step 4" properly, then you don't have to. Bread is supposed to be fluffy and airy. 

Step 6: If the customer asks you to toast it, counter with, "but why ruin a good thing?"

Step 7: Don't cut the sandwich in half. Why people do this is beyond me. Who saves a fucking sandwich for later? Just eat it now. Commit!

Hey, the world needs janitors.


With the above, the sandwich will be complete. It will be immaculate, a work of modern art, a testament to your making the best of working for minimum wage, right out of college. Work well. Work fast. Work with all the pride of a person grotesquely in debt. Didn't go to college? Well... then just you do you. You don't need soft skills to make sandwiches.



Saturday, June 1, 2019

Child Rearing Revelations

So I was thinking about generations, how we are the product of our parents and, by extension, our grandparents...


It's funny because it's not funny.


Living in Santa Barbara has taught me that living paycheck to paycheck is not only normal for people my age (born between 80'-91') but also the aging boomers I work with. (This could just be symptomatic of the area I live in, where rent for a 1 bed room apartment is about the same as a mortgage for a house in the Midwest.) This period of economic hardship I face today, specific to those in my age bracket, is not what my parents experienced, where a BA in the 70's was equivalent to an MA today and working at a single job right out of high school until retirement was normative. But there is this dilemma of stagnating college kids, unable to find work, and somehow their lack of progress is exclusively their fault, according to common opinion. Considering that using the word "Millenial" has gained a pejorative connotation among most in today's popular culture, exerted with the same vehemence as an elderly specimen choking on a biscuit, I resent when people write off financial hardships, both mine and my peers, as if they were something to scoff at, or that I could somehow "work harder" to attain stability.

This mentality doesn't consider the extenuating circumstances however. The second World War was immensely profitable for the United States, which unilaterally industrialized the private sector to power the war machine that brought us unanimous victory (economic, philosophic, political, and national) and international prominence. It was the sudden explosion of the middle class, those coming home from the war and the rise in prominence of the other 50% of the population (i.e. women), that created the suitable ecosystem for young-twenty-somethings between the late 60's and mid 70's. What I'm getting at, is that this generation took advantage of this profitable period and lived beyond their means, thereby creating a precedent for inflated housing costs and living expenses, and, in so doing, the Boomers fucked us all over. Today the third generation is paying for it.

It was the Boomers that inherited the wealth and success of their forebears and pissed it all away on youthful rebellion, drugs, and market speculation. So before you call me a "Millennial," take a hard look at everything your parent's wealth bought you and go fuck yourself.

Sorry... Rant over.

Seriously though.

How did I get here? It was about raising children... which has been on my mind a lot since my daughter turned 2 a week or so ago. As people of my age begin to have kids and raise them, I've wondered what example I'm setting for Eowyn. I can think of a few different ways right off the cuff.

Boomer's, and, to a lesser degree, the "Greatest Generation," have given themselves over to a false dichotomy between conservatism and liberalism, with either position profiting off the lack of education in matters of economics, politics, ethics, and philosophy. The "I earned this" mentality, has engendered a sense of entitlement among those that would accuse me of complaining unjustly about my current state of affairs. Because, again, we always inherit what our parents gave us. If the economy was exploding in the post-war years, is was our grandfathers and grandmothers that fostered that environment. Likewise, if we inherit wage inequality, democratic impotence, and poor infrastructure it was because our parents were too busy snorting coke in the 80's or endorsing conservative policies with alarming blindness to take notice. And make no mistake, I feel like those of liberal leanings can shoulder some of this blame, taking the path of least resistance and complaining while not offering realistic solutions to ongoing problems. Impotent policy, foreign and domestic, doesn't help much either, but that's another matter altogether.

Additionally, in light of the recent arrival of American Exceptionalism, resurrected like a Haitian zombie from the mausoleum that was the 1920s, the example I wish to set, always, for my daughter is that you can be anything you want to be, if you work your fucking ass off. (This opposed to the inflated sense of worth we have for "being American," and all that comes with it.)  For all the poor opportunities available to us in the current employment ecosystem, the 2010s has been a renaissance for those with entrepreneurial expertise. Software as a service, grass roots industries (culinary, agricultural, manufacturing, hospitality, publishing, etc), and creative innovations of existing markets (Uber, Venmo, GoFundMe, etc) have lead to a decentralization of industry, which in my opinion is the ultimate resolution to wage disparities in the United States. I have learned first hand from witnessing those that have set out to make something new, that this is not only possible (with incredible effort) but critical to striking down the monolithic industries that have strangled the working class for the last 100 years. When Marx talked about seizing the "means of production," I feel like this is the most reasonable culmination. Other countries have succeeded so much more successfully than we have in matters social and political, that we have lost our right to boast. (In my opinion.)

Oh my god...


When Alyssa, told me she was pregnant with Eowyn, the first thing I did was set up a college fund. (Because that's what you do, right?) Even $100 a month for 18 years is something like $19,000, and of course progressively increasing it along the way will eventually net quite a nice lump sum. I'm doing this for her, so that she can ultimately decide what to use the money for. If she doesn't want to go to college, the money is there for a down payment on a house, or her wedding, or a business loan. I think this is something that everyone my age should do. If anything, simply to spite our parents for not being forward thinking and spending the money on superfluous shit, instead of investing in their future. I was extremely fortunate to have parents that valued higher education enough to support it. But many aren't, and it's up to us to set an example for our children to value things that make society great (public education, art, freedom of speech, technological advancement, space travel, and all the other non-dystopian stuff of science fiction).  At the end of the day, what we seem to love most is money (unless God is already your highest love), and what we spend our money on reflects what we value.

I had several revisions of this post. Not sure why. I wanted to spend a little more time on it than usual.

***Misc Book Updates

If it's not obvious by now, my third book has been delayed, mostly because my wife is finding a lot of stuff that I missed, which is fine. Plus, I'm always overzealous in my timing.

The nice part about the wait too is that I'll be able to likely time the release against any tax refund I might get. Which could aid in getting books printed for a "Make 100" Kickstarter.

But we'll get there when we get there.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Imagine a Hat...

I have heard, with no certainty, that the difference between classical acting and method acting is either acting inwardly or outwardly. Method acting involves entering the mind of the character being played. Classical, on the other hand, takes something attributed to the character and then learning how that character interacts with it. This could be a hat, or a cane, or a trinket, and from that the character is extracted.

Keep in mind, this could be all completely wrong. But it makes sense to me.



Maybe this comes from what I've seen in film and stage plays. Hamlet holding a skull, contemplating death. Sherlock Holmes with a magnifying glass, snooping around. The T-800 wearing black leather and a pair of menacing sunglasses at all hours of the night. All this makes sense to me, especially when writing a character that is outgoing, socially adept, or professional. These kinds of characters smoke cigarettes, drink whiskey, dance on poles (light, stripper, or otherwise), wear white gloves or black hats, and hold on to things while they walk. Visually, these brief descriptions invoke certain archetypes in literature and film. You can imagine the symbol of a cowboy being made up of the sum of his/her parts: wearing a white/brown/black hat, smoking Marlboro, and drinking coarsely ground coffee that's been watered down to make it last longer. But even the associations between cowboy and cigarette conjure, in my mind at least, a rogue desperado walking up a steep incline toward a crest that overlooks a parched desert valley.

Internal characters, developed vis a vis a method actor perspective, are much harder to write. In my case, characters written in first person-limited essentially demand that I get inside their heads, which is challenging. It's so easy to influence the decisions made by the characters first of all. The author is biased in different and fundamental ways. If the character is a drug addict, the authenticity lent by the author is, at best, representative and not autobiographical. (That is, unless, the author is Hunter S. Thompson.) To get inside the head of a drug addict requires extensive research and interviews with those involved in that kind of lifestyle. The creative act therefore is not solely rooted in literary devices and diction, but in how pieces of evidence are knit together into a cohesive collage that, over time, becomes a homunculus made of pixels or bleached wood pulp (depending on the preferred medium of the reader). So, in essence, the method-actor-author is like a serial killer, flaying his/her victims and stitching together the pieces into ghoulish abominations. (I'm pretty sure that's what happens in True Crime novels at least.)

At this point... I'm stuck somewhere in between the two, which is amusing because of how black-and-white I often think about things. My characters typically drink whiskey, or throw rocks across ponds, or shave in the mirror, but I also read Godel Escher Bach and I am a Strange Loop to better understand the mathematical philosophy behind artificial intelligence and how that can be used to theorize how neurons relay information through our brains. I guess there is merit for each perspective.

As Alyssa works through draft two of my second novel, it's good to consider these things so that I have some better angles on the third and final draft.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Philosophy and Shit


I had a thought while driving back to the office today after lunch. (My wife and I share one car, so we trade on our lunches.) Philosophers were people, just like you and I. Why are they such a fucking big deal?



“20% of what Philosophers say is true, the other 80% is bullshit,” is what my friend Desmond says, and it’s not a bad maxim to live by, considering the branding that certain philosophers (or authors) exude over the course of their tenure—Grant Morrison is convinced that he was abducted by aliens from the 4th dimension in Kathmandu, an experience which has begotten the best cosmology and world building to date within the DC Universe.

And this really isn’t about philosophers specifically. It’s more of a credibility kind of thing. The words we speak, how they impact people, whether they endure beyond our close circle of friends or disseminate into the ether of pop-culture and beyond. I imagine that, throughout life, the layman and learned alike are told that philosophers and other influencers of culture are these larger than life figures. I’m often guilty of this. See below:



I admit I was angry at first. I mean take the fucking compliment, guy. But on further reflection, this appears to be the case, regardless of the critical distance that is maintained to allow some appreciation of accomplishment. Behind the storyboards, folios, and canvases are just normal, flesh-and-blood people. We know those we love (artistically) aren’t gods because Jack Kirby and Ronnie James Dio are dead. (Though their influences are legion in their respective industries.)

Many work to make a living. Very few get to make art, without feeling like they are “working.” Dante for example was one of the few authors in human history to experience the joy and legacy of his work within his own lifetime. For everyone else that enjoys, possible, posthumous fame, I think this is the case because of nostalgia.

Consider, for a moment, that in Hellenist Greece ideas were weighed with greater contemporary influence than they are in the modern era. There were forums back then specifically for debate and intellectual pursuits, because it was what their culture valued. Today (the "modern" world, which could span from the Renaissance to now) this isn’t the case, and philosophy has been relegated to a niche occupied by idealists, shutins, and professors. Philosophy is valued because of the nostalgia for the era in which those ideas were conceived. This can be the only explanation for why many philosophers never enjoyed their due in life.

After all, death amplifies of appreciation. The sense of loss and catharsis brought on by death naturally magnifies the value of someone’s life work as we, the bereaved, try to come to terms with what has happened. So the issue of critical distance makes sense in this case. We can’t, personally speaking, appreciate what we are offering because of the limit imposed by our own vantage point. When we try to do this, the only foreseeable outcome is looking like a giant piece of shit (a la Kanye West).

So, at least for now, fame shouldn’t get to our heads. Not until there are worms in them, at least.   

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Enraged, curious, stimulated by what you just read?! Comment below! Let's talk about it!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Super Shorts

I used to write these little, 100 word stories (or at least what was small enough to fit in a twitter post).

I miss doing that. 

So I decided to do it! (Again.)

One of my lifelong dreams is to write comics, someday. And while every Joe Schmo says, "Hey, I can do it!" I can't even begin to imagine the labor involved, having to come up with a story every month, and communicate full time with the art team to make it happen. And, on top of all that, continuing the story in perpetuity... These aren't quite that, but I'd like to say they are seeds for the stories that I wish were told in comics.

Here we go!


Shazam!
The lightning he had was now gone. A dark, damp road lay ahead, the switchback driveway to Fawcett University that he drove every day to school from the radio station. Running ads for supervillains and their daytime talk shows. On his television, game show sets plastered with luminous chrome confetti ran re-runs. Joker’s Last Laugh will leave you screaming for more!

In his rear-view mirror, Billy saw the Captain in the back seat, smiling confidently, immaculate white teeth reflecting the orange glow of the Sivana Model Z dashboard.

“Just say it Billy, one word. And everything will be fine again.”

Superman
Three weeks of chemo and six doctor visits later, the news broke. And the man, allegedly made of steel, buckled under the weight of the poor prognosis. It was, as he feared, the reality of life and how fragile we are. Wisps of smoke from an extinguished match.

She lay there with translucent skin, jaundiced, weakly typing a column.

I could have seen it early, he thought. But that’s not true. J’onn was clear on that.

What do you give to the man who has everything, when he has nothing left?

But a cure was possible. He could still hope.

The Flash
How does it start, Wally?”

“There’s a thought in my head, racing faster than I can control it, until it’s all I’m thinking about. I don’t like to even talk about it because I’m afraid it will trigger an episode, you know?

The Martian nodded, gaunt featured under the metallic silhouette. “A psychic connection protects you, Wally. Please continue…”

“Have you ever wondered if it was worth it? What we do?”

“Very much, Wally.”

Wally fidgeted, tapping fingers vibrating 330 times per second. A sharp musical whine.


“I can outrun anything… by dying? I’m afraid of dying, J’onn. Oh god…” 

Darkseid
A good death. That, above all things, is my greatest gift.  Yet, even after discovering the Anti-Life Equation, defeating my foes, vanquishing my own son, the throngs of Hunger Dogs cast before me leave me… unindustrious.

My faith is just and pure. And as my subjects embraced oblivion for my cause against New Genesis, I too gained faith. And all make pilgrimage.

A war with the Kryptonian’s rebels is petty in comparison to what lies beyond the Source Wall. I have made parley with this new paradigm and absolute power. And so, when my worship concludes, it will be mine.