Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


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And Today I’m With Rachel Carrera!

Before I get into my normal post, a couple of weeks back I was interviewed by Rachel Carrera, and today the interview is up on her blog.  Click on this link, go over and give her a little love, and read all about get into my work.

As if you didn’t know already.


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To Ride the Residency

There are a few things I’d like to do while I’m out here in The Burg.  I have my eyes on a place I want to visit once the weather starts to agree with normal people, and there’s another location that I think I could visit under the guise of collecting resource material for a story.  (Hint:  it would have something to do with space.)  But now something else has appeared on my radar, and for the first time in a long while I’m excited by the possibly that the event in question could be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’m talking about Riding the Residency.

Okay, so what am I taking about?  It appears that Amtrak, the organization in this country that handles rail travel, has given to residencies to writers to ride the rails.  One writer has already taken the New York City to Chicago run, and another is setting up for a cross-country sprint in mid-May to travel from New York City to Portland, Oregon.  And by residency I mean they’re letting them ride for free so they can work on their writing and talk about the experience.  The woman who did the NYC to Chiberia (as we were calling the city during the January polar vortex attack) run spent fifty-five hours relaxing and writing and generally having a good time, and who isn’t about a good time when they’re writing?

So, Amtrak, allow me to explain why putting me on a residency run would be a great idea:

1.  I love riding trains.  I’ve commuted by train for years.  I’ve ridden from Chicago to Florida by train.  I’ve taken them to work.  I’ve even ran the European network and spent a few hours on the French TGV, which I consider one of the best experiences ever, and one of the reasons I feel we need high speed rail in the U.S. like yesterday.  I like other people doing my driving while I sit back and enjoy the view, so a long trip that involves getting some writing done in the process is a big win for me.

2.  I am Ms. Social Media.  You want Tweets of the trip?  How about I up that ante and start posting my adventure to Facebook with pictures?  How about getting two or three blog posts out of the adventure, which will go out world wide in case you’re interested.  I could even put this adventure together in an ebook and offer it up for free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

3.  I have friends in a lot of different cities, and many of them are creative as well.  I know an independent film writer/director down in the Big Easy; maybe she could take a return trip with me and work on a screenplay?  I have a writer friend in New York City who would like to run to Atlanta; we could do a run together and Chatty Cathy the adventure–or kill each other along the way, which would also be entertaining.  I’ve friends in Seattle and Portland who I could meet, and on the way to both those locations I could stop in Denver and make fun of the Hell Pony who apparently couldn’t bring any mojo to their local sports teams.  I could visit my Magical Girl Katie in Minneapolis and I could get pictures of my Twilight Sparkle plush kissing one of her mecha models.

4.  I am a writer.  Okay, so I’m not a big-time Stephen King-style writer who could probably buy a train for this sort of thing, but I have sold one story and self published two more, and I’ve always working and writing and trying to get my work out there.  That means I’m just like Rick Grimes in that I have stuff I’m working on–you know, things.  During a long trip I could probably do a great edit on a novel and prep it for publication.  Or start on Act Two of my current work in process.  Or write something completely new during the trip.  I’m open, you know?

It’s simple, really:  I need a seat, a place to put my computer and a plug for power, and a wifi connection to allow me access to the Internet, and I’m ready to roll outta Harrisburg for points unknown.  Oh, and I live within walking distance of the station, so I just throw my stuff in an overnight bag, get my computer into my backpack, and ten minutes later I’m ready to pick up my tickets.

I’ll be in touch.

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go . . .

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go . . .


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Hangin’ With the G Friend

Yesterday it was talking about bad teachers in dreams and all the crap I went through it fourth grade–not a pleasant recollection.  The thing is, that recollection didn’t stay long, because by mid-day yesterday my mind was on something else, and it was a far better time than I had in that lousy dream.

What I’m talking about is the next year, and fifth grade.

Fifth grade was completely different from the year before, because my teacher then was a great guy whose name is, unfortunately, lost to me.  I want to say “Mr. Haney,” but I don’t think that’s right, though his name started with an H, so I’ll just call him Mr. H.

Mr. H was one of those teachers who didn’t dumb things down.  He knew which kids were good and wanted to learn, and which didn’t give a single shit if they made it through the year.  He loved reading and he loved science, and that was good with me.  He’d lived in Japan for a while, and while he was there he’d recorded an interview with someone who’d been a school boy in Hiroshima, and who survived the atom bombing by hiding in a cave being used as a bomb shelter.  Though he spoke English well, when he tried describing how the mouth of the cave lit up from the blast he completely lost it and started crying and mumbling in Japanese.  It was a pretty powerful moment for me, considering I’d already done my own reading on what happened then.  (And believe it or not I eventually dated a Japanese woman whose mother also survived the Hiroshima bombing.)

Mr. H pushed me in history and geography, because he knew I loved the subjects, and that I wasn’t content to stop at a certain point and look no further.  One class assignment we had was to do a report on a country, and the country I chose was Macau.  This was 1967 to 1968, and when you said “Macau” the majority of adults went, “Whu?”  No one in the class knew where my country was, nor if it was even real, but I was given extra points because just about everyone else went with stuff in Europe, or if they did Asia it was Japan and China.

The best thing Mr. H ever did was tell the Daughters of the American Revolution about my grades, and they came into class and gave me an award for “Excellence in American History”.  I was given a book, which for me, at the time, was better than money.

But I’m not here to rap on about Mr. H.  No, I’m here to talk about someone else.

I’m here to talk about Kim.

Kim was in my class.  She was about my height, she had long dark blond hair, and she wore glasses.  I also wore glasses, so it was always a bit comforting to be around someone who also had crappy eyesight.  Kim introduced herself to me in a rather unique way:  she walked up to me on the playground during recess and said, “Hey:  you’re the kid who knows all about flying saucers, right?”  Indeed I did, because since I was reading a lot of science fiction then, I was also reading everything I could get my hands on about flying saucers and the paranormal and what we know call cyptozoology.  If there was strange crap out there, I knew about it.  Kim was asking me about a story she’d heard where a horse had its head burned off, and I instantly told her about Skippy, the horse that had all the flesh on it’s head burn away–some say by a portable vat of acid, some say by aliens with a death laser!

Whatever.  That’s how Kim and I met, and we were good after that.

I don’t remember Kim hanging out with girls a lot.  Back then we called her a “tomboy” because she liked wearing jeans and button-down shirts and tennis shoes.  But she never came across like that to me.  She wasn’t rough and tumble; she always wanted to talk.  She liked horses and the mountains, and she liked math and history, too, so we had stuff in common there.  She also liked reading, but she found the stuff I was reading then to be amazing.  She was a smart girl, which back then meant she was different.

Then again, so was I.

It wasn’t just headless horses and flying saucers over which we bonded.  There was something else, and for that I have to go tap-dancing back into all those little corners of my past that I’d rather not exist, but are just waiting to jump me the first chance I get.  So here we go:

Every summer, right after school was out, my father would take me down to the barber shop and basically have all my hair cut off, so that when it was over, I looked like Ellen Ripley from Alien 3.  I hated this, because as a young child suffering with Gender Identity Disorder, I wanted my hair to grow out, and it was that summer between fourth and fifth grade when I started having arguments with my parents about getting my hair cut.  Maybe that was one of the reasons I never left my room those summers and just stayed in and read, but I do remember it was the last time I let my parent do that to me.

My hair grew fast, so usually by Halloween it was longer than most of the boy’s hair in the class, which again made me stand out a little.  This led to “getting picked on,” which led to getting bullied and called a freak and crazy and a lot of other shit, but I spent that school year avoiding a lot of those idiots and staying to myself.

Kim, however . . . I do remember one point in the fall when we were walking and talking on the playground, and she turned to me and said, “You’re hair is so . . . pretty!  It’s so curly!  I wish mine was like that.”  Which was true:  I had curly brown hair and long eyelashes, something my mother was always going on about . . .

I told Kim that I wished my hair was nice and straight–leaving off that, “and long like yours” because you just couldn’t talk that shit then–and bam!  I bonded with her over hair, because we weren’t like all the other people on the playground.  At that moment I felt there was something special between us, because not only did we talk, but we didn’t seem to care about what others thought of us when we were together.

"Seriously, you have lovely hair, and if I can use an expression that won't become popular for another twenty years, your parents are dicks."

“Seriously, you have lovely hair–and if I can use an expression that won’t become popular for another twenty years, your parents are being total dicks.  But you know about time travel, so there.”

The moment I remember the most, because it was just so damn strange, was of Kim and I on the swing sets all alone, with there appearing to be no one else on the playground–or if there were, they were sticking close to the building because the sky that afternoon was a rather strange gray and blackish color that appeared as if it was about to unleash Hell at any moment, but if you live in the Midwest and you’re afraid of a stormy-looking sky, you best move the hell out ’cause that’s pretty normal.

We were alone, and swinging like mad, talking, laughing, going higher and higher all the time . . . it was one of those magical moments that you don’t ever forget, and there was a timeless quality to what we were doing, because it did seem to go on for a long time, though we were probably only on the swings twenty to thirty minutes.  But it has become a fixed point in time, one that I flash back on now and then, and though I can’t remember everything that was said in those minutes together, it doesn’t matter:  we were together, and it was fun.  That’s what’s important.

Kim moved away after the school year was finished.  I knew this was coming, as she’d told me months before.  The last day of school we found a spot out by some of the trees at the edge of the playground and talked for a few minutes.  I told her I’d miss her, and she told me she’d miss me back.  We didn’t exchange addressed and say we’d write, probably because deep down we knew we’d never do that–though I wish I had, because I would have totally done so.  Before we parted, she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek:  that was the first time anyone outside of my family had ever done something like that, and it made my eyes mist up.  Then she was off, back to class, and so was I a moment later.  She left class as soon as the bell rang, headed for her bus, and was gone–off to Colorado, if I remember correctly.

I, too, was off to my bus and back home.  The summer sucked, I stayed inside a lot, and sixth grade blew chunks.  I wouldn’t talk to another girl until I was a senior in high school–I literally mean this, because people avoided me, or I avoided them, not really sure on this point.  I had a few friends, but for the most part I was always that weird kid who read a lot and didn’t want to do any sports.

I also missed my friend, but I didn’t talk about that much.

These days I kind of realize that Kim was probably my first girlfriend, but not the “I’m dating her” kind of girlfriend, but rather “My BFF besty” kind of girlfriend.  She didn’t think it strange to talk about the thing we talked about, and neither did I.  She saw nothing wrong with complementing my hair, and didn’t consider it strange that I did the same for her.  If she’d hung around I wonder what would have happened; would we have spent sixth grade continuing to talk about the things we did, and would we have expanded the conversation to include us?

I can’t say:  that’s all speculation.  I leave that for my writing.

I have no idea where she is now, or if she’s even alive, but if she is I’ve been sending her positive thoughts for years, and I hope they’ve helped.  I don’t dwell on her, or those moments together, because they are far off in the past, and as my Phoenix spirit told Kerry in The Foundation Chronicles, “That chapter’s over; it’s time to write some new ones, kid.”

You were one of the few good chapters in the story of my life then, Kim.

I wish you well in yours.


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Selling the Sorcery

I’ll tell you, Sundays are never a good day.  I was busy all morning, busy all afternoon, and by the time you get to writing you feel dead–exceptionally dead.  Sort of like the Resident Evil movie that was on last night:  brain dead but still moving, albeit slowly.

However, I did think more on the idea I posted yesterday about the Mórrígan and Åsgårdsreia students–mostly the girls, the boys would probably feel foolish–squaring off during the Samhain Ball in the great hall.  Since everyone’s in costume, you’ll have your various interpretations of the Goddess of War on one side of the room, and your Valkyries and shield maidens on the other, and it’ll be like:

Come at me, Bro!

Come at me, Bro!

I am no Bro.

I am no Bro!

Yeah, I gotta write that.  Even if it’s only a short scene, and it’s taking place outside the Hall, and they aren’t really using swords, but being how they’re all witches and gifted students and technogeek mad scientists, they can probably come up with something else.

Part of the business was due to an article I was writing.  There was tons of research I needed to do, and at one point I was getting tired hunting down the correct papers I needed to write.  Still managed to get out five hundred words, and I’m not finished.  I’ll do my best to get that wrapped up by this weekend, though no promises.

That meant when it came time to actually write last night, I did about five hundred and fifty words.  Not a good total, but I’ll take it.  As I’ve mentioned before, some times you feel the words, some times you don’t, and perhaps it was a combination of being tired and feeling distracted that put me off my count.  Not worried, not worried:  I’ll bounce back tonight, hit a thousand, and start my, “Helena is a Bad Girl” section of the scene.  It’s gonna be great.

One of the things I like doing is setting my story in the current world while indicating that most, if not all, of our pop culture references do exist.  You’re in a school full of witches and super powered kids, with a mad scientist thrown in here and there, and when you have a room full of eleven-year-olds, who isn’t expecting to hear something asked based upon what they may have read or heard in the Normal World:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“This leaves sorcery. Whereas the other disciplines can used against another person, sorcery is designed to work against a person, whether directly or indirectly. You all encountered what Professor Sladen eloquently called the ‘Hell Shawl’ yesterday—” Helena grinned, satisfied by the looks on the faces of her students. “An example of my handwork.

“Sorcery is all about dominating people, controlling them, hurting them . . . killing them. You can do it directly, or you can do it with cursed items and various chemical product—” She heard a few students say, “Potions,” and almost mentioned that it was a good thing Erywin wasn’t there to scold them, for if there was anything she truly hated, it was hearing her lovely formulistic magic called potions.

“There’s also two lesser branches to sorcery: necromancy and daemonmancy. Adric will instruct you in the ways of dealing with spirits and the recently deceased, but even he won’t touch necromancy—we teach you that together. As far as daemonmancy is concerned . . . I only teach that on a need to know basis.” She half turned to her right. “I doubt if many of you will need to know.”

Helena was ready for her experiment. She had every student’s attention, had then following her every word—and now it was time to do what she’d planed for most of the week. All she needed was for someone . . .

“Is there like a main spell used for killing people?”

She didn’t know who asked the question, but Helena didn’t care. Every year someone asks that, and I have to answer. She turned her attention back to her students. This year I’ll have help . . . “There is more than ‘a main spell’. I can think of a half-dozen different ways to kill someone with little more—” She raised her right hand and snapped her fingers. “Than that.”

With that out of the way. . . “Miss Kirilova.” Annie’s eyes snapped towards her. “What is the name of the discipline set aside for the various means of killing within sorcery?”

That Helena:  she doesn’t care to keep hearing about all this fantasy crap, does she?

Lastly, I was upset–well, just a little–that Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany didn’t win a Best Actress Golden Globe award last night.  You play seven characters, some whom interact with each other in scenes that take the better part of a day to film, and people just don’t give you props.  I’ve fallen in love with Orphan Black, mostly for the acting and writing, and the life Tatiana brings to each member of the Clone Club.

The hell with them.  Lets get out on the floor and move to our groove.  Go, little psycho bitch, go!

And this is the part of the post where we dance with the tail!


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The Winter of Discontent

Yesterday something popped up on my blog–not my blog, actually, but more a message from WordPress.  It was, “Congratulations!  You registered with us five years ago today.”

I had to think about that, because I was damned if I could remember just when I’d signed up and established my presence here.  I remember when I started blogging–those first, abortive attempts in April of 2011 that I didn’t take very seriously, like damn near everything else in my life back that.  But I hadn’t remembered when I signed up for this space, I had to think . . .

Yeah, that would be right before Christmas 2008, not long after being laid off from a job I’d held for thirteen years.  A job that had been going downhill fast at the point, but because the economy was free falling faster than Gypsy Danger from fifty thousand feet, there weren’t a lot of options when it came to better employment.  So when the end came I took my severance with a smile and more or less told them I was happy to be leaving their shit stain of a job behind.

Sure, I wouldn’t work again for a little over three years, but you have to take the bad with the good.

Why did I sign up?  I don’t remember the exact reasons.  I believed, most likely, that I had something to say, and that I was going to try this fangled thing the kids called “blogging”, ’cause I can write and people are gonna want to hear what I have to say.  Yeah, December 2008.  I had me a blogging area.  I wouldn’t start writing until about . . . let me see . . . yeah, about two and a half years later.

That was probably a good thing, because everything coming out of my mouth back then was filled with remorse.  I was still in therapy, and would remain so through 2009–that was when my insurance ran out and I couldn’t afford to not only see my counselor any more, but I couldn’t afford the medication I was taking.  I will tell you right now, in case anyone is wondering:  mental health coverage is a wonderful thing.  Sometimes the only thing preventing you from jumping off a building is a twenty dollar co-pay on your meds, and if you have that in your life, you should consider yourself lucky.

Why all the gloomy talk?  For one, I had another strange dream–yeah, that’s been happening for some reasons.  I can’t quite put my finger on what happened, but think of it as Glee with time travel.  Like I said, strange.  I have no idea what it meant, but it was there.  The one thing I do remember is that I was told, quite a lot actually, that I needed to get better.  And I spent a large part of the dream alone.

I’ve also thought, for a few weeks now, that my depression has come back.  I’d distracted a lot these days.  I look for things to break up the monotony, and it’s not always there.  When I’m writing, at times it feels like I yank the words out onto the page, that I have trouble typing them, like I don’t want to see them, even though I do.

When I’m not at work I spend all my time alone.  It’s one of the reasons I try to eat out on the weekends, because I do get a bit of peace from being out among the people–even if the majority of them look like scary-ass crackers, like the people I saw yesterday.  You pay your money and you take the ride, right?

Five years registered, half of that writing.

Where am I going to be in five years?

Maybe a time traveling Glee knows.

 


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Philadelphia Freedom

Really, if you read yesterday’s post, how could you not think I was going to follow up with this title?  After all, it’s the title of one of the most well-known songs of the 1970′s, and the name of a sports team that Bill Burr forgot to mention when he was ripping the city a new one a few years back.  No way I wasn’t going to make it my title.

Outbound from The Burg, the train left on time, but lets note that it’s a local train, so you end up stopping a few times along the way.  We were also held up by another train at one point, which is a major fault with commuting by train in his country–you have to share the line with freight.  When building high speed rail you need dedicated lines; when I rode the TGV back in 2006, it wouldn’t have done to bring the train to a stop from 180 mph just because a fright line was crossing ahead.  Gotta nip that crap in the bud.

This saw us getting into Philly about and hour late.  No real biggie, ’cause I wasn’t on any kind of time table save for my return trip, and I’d still have time to make it with time to spare.  Spent a few minutes looking for the subway station, and then realized that I had to leave the train station and walk across the street.  Bought two tokens–to get to 5th Street and then return–and I was on my way inside a car that seemed packed to the rafters with people.

So it was I made it to the Park.

I arrived at the corner of Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.  Really.  You step out of the train station and to your Independence Hallright is the Liberty Bell, and as you walk across the park, there’s Independence Hall to your left.  It looks none the worse for wear, but then you’d expect that because being part of the national park system, there are people taking care of it.  At least they don’t have to worry about douchebags looking to destroy it because it’s old . . .

I didn’t go inside ’cause I was on a schedule, but I did take time to walk in and see the Liberty Bell, just to see if, like the Constitution, Nic Cage could steal it.  After giving it a close examination, the verdict is no, he couldn’t,  Liberty BellYou can see it’s pretty big, and doesn’t look as if it would be something you could pick up and run with, but hey:  maybe they’ll rig up something with explosives where they touch them off and Micheal Bay it right into the back of a U-Haul, and just like that, they off into the night!  Yes, Hollywood, you can cut a check for my idea right now.

Saw the first bank–it’s not ripping anyone off ’cause it’s closed, but it looks pretty cool.  Then I headed over to the location of Ben Franklin’s house, and why it’s no longer standing, you do get to see his privy hole.  What is a privy hole, you may ask?  The 18th Century equivalent of a nice outhouse.  It’s where your, um, “business” went when you were finished with said doing.  And, in Franklin Court, there were a number of covered privies, all marked so you’d know where people were pooping over two hundred years ago.  History!

I mailed a document from Franklin’s post office, the only one that doesn’t have a zip code or flies a flag–for obvious reasons if you think about it–and visited his print shop.  No where did I see his opinion on why having an older mistress is totally hot, nor of his connections to The Hellfire Club and if he partied with Sebastian Shaw.

Then it was back to the 5th Street Station and a return to the train station, and while waiting for the subway I could hear Bill Burr going on about “your shitty little subway”.  Yeah, after you’ve been on Chicago and Hong Kong’s subway, it seems small, but then it’s old as hell, too.  At least it’s still running, and I could get back and forth for a couple of bucks.  I really love traveling by subway, don’t ask me why, but zipping through the dark is sort of a cool rush for me.

I had to wait for my return to The Burg, so caught a little lunch before waiting for The Pennsylvanian to return me home.  For one the jobs I held in Chicago I had to pass through Train Station SouthUnion Station every day, and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station reminds me a little of Chicago–though you have to walk down the famous Untouchable Stairs to reach the main floor.  But the feeling here is the same:  huge and majestic.  It’s one of the reasons I set a Train Station Northscene in Her Demonic Majesty in Chicago’s Union Station because nothing says timeless like one of these places.  I’m a sucker for buildings like this, and while I’m the first one to say I want to live in the future, seeing all these places disappear slowly gives me a sadness, because I know we’ll never see their likes again.

Then back home.  The The Pennsylvanian is more of a direct route home, so no stopping all long the line, which meant getting home when I was suppose to get home.  I looked up the route for this train, and discovered it takes five hours to travel from Philly to Pittsburgh, due in part to the line following rivers for most of the way through the Allegheny Mountains.  This is where high speed rail would kick butt, but ultimately be far more expense to employ, because you’re gonna do a lot of cutting through mountains, and where you can’t go over, you go through.  That’s going to mean long tunnels that you can go through fast, maybe some as long as fifty miles, and given the longest train tunnel in the U.S. is only eight miles, who’s going to build a fifty mile tunnel?  Hey, it’s been done.  And when it comes to getting water, distance doesn’t seem to be a problem

The end to all this was I ended up having dinner about four-thirty, then went out for a long walk.  When I returned to Laputa, my body felt as if someone had beaten it with a pool cue, and it was all I could do to make it through Torchwood.  I crashed and burned about ten-thirty, but today I’m alive and in much better shape.

Where to go next?  Well, now . . . that’s the question, isn’t it?  Back into the novel today–

Tomorrow, we’ll see where my mind takes me.


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The Unknown Unknowns

As I neared the local Panera this morning, the ravens were out in force, flying about in their murder formation, but one sat on a section of the facade and cawed at me as I walked towards the door. I asked it if they wanted to spend a moment telling me about their lord and savior, the Mórrígan, but they didn’t seem amused. Could be they were from Westeros; maybe they were telling me I was invited to a wedding.  I’m on to your douche move, dudes.

Last night I was out in The Burg. I was surprised to discover there is a night life on the street where I live. (No, Sherlock, no singing this morning.) But I wasn’t out to hit a bar or two; no, I was on my way to a meeting. What kind, you ask? Serial Killers Anonymous, we meet every other Saturday . . . Naw, nothing like that. It was a group I was interested in meeting, and meet I did, though only in the sense that I was there last night. I’m not good with meeting people, so there was a lot of standing around and such. I did speak with a few people, but for the most part it was listen and learn.

It wasn’t happy time, however. The discussion for the evening revolved around a member who’d recently died. And not just died, but she’d killed herself. So the mood wasn’t the best for the evening.

There was a lot of discussion about why people didn’t pick up on warning signs, was it possible there was something one could have done, and wasn’t there something that one could use to, you know, profile someone to know if they’re ready to jump off a bottle of pills? The counselor who were there last night was pretty diplomatic, because I’d have said that profiling crap only works on Criminal Minds and FBI statistics show they only solve about three percent of cases by profiling the perp, but there was one thing she said that made me listen. She said that with suicide, it’s a personal thing, that a trigger comes along a pushes the person into their dark, dark space, and we’ll never know the reasons why they took that final step . . .

. . . In that moment I was in one of my stories, because a few months back, while working on a character for an upcoming story, one person was grieving over the loss of a friend who’d visited them a few months before, and had killed herself six weeks later. The character was hiding away, wondering why they didn’t pick up on the signs, and a friend of theirs said virtually the same words to him that I heard last night: no matter what, you’ll never know why someone takes that last step, and you can’t continue to beat yourself up over something that wasn’t your fault.

Given the framework of the world in which the story takes place, it would be possible to summon the girl’s spirit with a necromancy ritual, but who wants to do that? Serious juju, people, and if you screw it up, you’ll find yourself whacking demons when you’re rather suck face with your girlfriend.

Am I writing what I know? When it comes to suicide and death, am I dancing around a subject I know a little too well? Well, yes, I do. I know death, and I know those feelings. Do I know about having those feelings now and then? Of course. It’s a little like being an alcoholic who keeps a bottle near by to steady their will. You’ll stand on the side of a street, or drive down a winding road, or, like me, sit on your twelfth floor balcony and know if you were to go over the side you’d only have to think about the fall for three seconds . . .

But I’m all better now.

I’ve got too many things to say these days, you know?


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Space Testing

The movie Gravity is coming, like tomorrow, the 4th of October, which also happened to be the anniversary of the launching of Sputnik I.  Funny how that works out, right?  This is something I’ve wanted to see since I’ve heard about the concept, and after seeing the trailer–which, once again, give away a few too many plot point, particularly if you know your space suits and hardware like me; thank you for nothing, Hollywood–I’m considering seeing it in 3d, as it looks stunning as hell.

What more could you want?  It’s Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and space–or should I say, “SPAAAAAACCCCCCCEEEEEE”?  Throw in Alfonso Cuaron on the screenplay and directing, and it’s a winner.

But I know some of my friends won’t see it.  Not because it’s about space (no, Space Core, I won’t say it), but because it won’t pass The Bechdel Test.

I’ve discussed The Bechdel Test before.  The criteria is simple:

 

1.  Are there two women in the movie?
2.  Do to speak with each other?
3.  Do they speak about something other than a man?

 

It’s meant to give some indication as to the amount of gender bias in a flick, as in, “Do the women play an important part in the movie, or is the flick a total bro fest?”  And lets face it, the majority of movies are a total bro fest, with dudes totally saving the day and shit being blown up left and right, while the ladies are little more than lampshade meant to get all hot and bothered over Bro One’s flexing.

The problem is, a smart writer or director can game this easily.  Just slip in a scene with two women talking about something other than a guy, and suddenly you hit the criteria.  Here, let me show you:

 

Scene:  in the middle of monsters tearing up (name of city here, but probably New York, because screw that place), Main Female Character runs into a bathroom to wash the blood from her face.  There’s a commotion in a stall behind her:

Female voice OC:  “Oh, dammit!”
MFC:  “What?”
(Woman steps out of the stall)  “I’m having my period and I don’t have any tampons.”
MFC:  (reaching into breast pocket of her combat overalls to remove a tampon)  “Here, take one.”
SFC:  “Wow!  You’re a lifesaver!”
MFC:  “Yeah, well . . . the last thing I want when I’m kicking some monster’s ass is to have blood flowing from my uterus–”
SFC:  “Nasty!”
MFC:  “You know it.  So I always carry spares.”  (Looks into the mirror)  “Okay, time to save the world!”
SFC:  “Go get ‘em!”

End Scene.

 

Yes, that was a cheap way to do it, but it’s one of the ways a flick like GI Joe: Retaliation and Sharknado can make the list, but Anna Karenina, Bullet to the Head, and Chernobyl Diaries can’t.  And the odds are Gravity won’t make the list, either, though I could be wrong since it appears there is a female captain in the movie, and she may give a few orders to Sandra before something horrible happens.

The Hollywood idea that women can’t carry a movie is crap.  The idea that if I don’t throw some bros into a flick I’m going to alienate my public and a flick will lose money is crazy.  Take a look at the movies out in 2013:  of the ones that crashed and burned, how many of them were strictly a couple, or more, dudes on the screen?  (I’m lookin’ hard at you, Lone Ranger.)  Woman can’t carry a flick?  The majority of movies with men in them aren’t making cash.  I believe this is known in many scientific circles as, “Your hypothesis is bullshit!”, and Hollywood should take note when they’re not handing Micheal Bay a half-billion dollars to blow up stuff with toy robots.

I don’t see a lot of movies in a year; if I’m lucky, maybe two or three.  So far I’ve seen one this year, and that was Pacific Rim, which I loved.  I’ll go see Gravity and probably dig the hell out of it.  And then I’ll likely be through for the year, and wait to see what next year brings.

In the meantime I’m gotta write about these two woman about to unleash Hell . . .


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Mortal Changes

After a weekend of working on various things, it’s now time to–get back to work?  Seems like only Friday I was looking forward to a relaxing time of doing nothing.  Which doesn’t happen around here, because if I’m doing nothing, then I’m probably sleeping.  Correct that:  trying to sleep.  Here I am, up at four-thirty again this morning, and my head is feeling a tad woozy.

One day I’ll go to bed at ten-thirty and wake up at six.  It will happen.  But today is not that day.

I was reading film reviews on Something Awful–’cause if you’re going to read film reviews, you may as well read something that’s gonna be funny, or at least sarcastic as hell–and they were doing a review of The Mortal Instruments movie.  While they didn’t care for it–they did give it a four out of ten rating “As a Piece of Absurdest Humor,” so it’s got that going for it–they did mention the fact that “Cassandra Clare”, the pen name for one Judith Rumelt, got her start penning Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring fan fiction.  They also mention that there’s more than a passing resemblance between some of the characters in The Mortal Instruments, and some of the characters and passages in the HP fanfic, all of which was pulled from the Internet as soon as her publishing career got started.

As Neil Gaiman has pointed out, fan fiction is writing, and anything that gets people writing is a good thing.  He’s also said he doesn’t care if you do fan fiction of his work, because, hey:  nothing you’re going to do is going to impact anything he’ll do to his characters.  He probably wants to stay away from Coraline slashfic, however . . .

His point about fan fiction is well taken, however.  It’s very likely that Neil never reads it, or if he has he’s sort of skimmed over it and thought, “Hum, yeah,” and moved on to working on his HBO adaptation and Doctor Who scripts.  And he’s correct:  there’s nothing millions of words of fan fiction will do to his characters that will reflect what he’s going to do to them, so why sweat it?

I wonder how he’d feel, however, if someone wrote a million words of Sandman fan fiction, put the character through some interesting changes–like having him get hammered in a strip club while watching his sister Death gyrate to some Millie Cyrus crunk as she’s making out with a demonic Taylor Swift–and then, a year later, finds a book called, Sleepytime Sam, the Dream King.  Book One:  Down and Out in Sister Stripperville.  Oh, sure, it’s just a coincidence the characters bear a little resemblance to his . . .

Not that I’ll have to worry about any of this.  I doubt that anyone will start ripping off my characters and write stories of their strange escapades, ’cause anything you can do, I know I can do better–and I love being strange.  I need to open up the strangeness stuff a little more, ’cause I feel I’m getting rusty.  Maybe it’s time to write my magnum opus about gay cuttlefish shapeshifters–

Oh, wait:  it’s been done.


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The Ballad of Butthurt

Once again I’m ripping off Genesis for the title, though when they were putting And Then There Were Three . . . back in late 1977, the term “butthurt” wasn’t in the common vernacular.  It didn’t exist, and it would be another thirty years before it enjoyed widespread popularity.

And if you are wondering what butthurt is, go to Taco Bell, order one of everything from the menu, consume, then wait about an hour for the enviable reaction your body will demand.  Thirty minutes after that, you’ll know the meaning of butthurt–

Or you could just spend time on the Internet listening to fandom rage.

Which is what happened yesterday concerning the casting of a certain award winning actor–of course I know he won for directing and producing, but he won nonetheless–getting picked to play one of the most iconic, and of late overused, superheros.  The announcement was made in the middle of the night, as if Zack Snyder knew what free hell he was unleashing, and wanted to get up nice and early so he could monitor Twitter for the insanity that would follow.

Insanity did follow, for if there’s something the Internet is good for, it’s expressing one’s rage in the fact that a guy who appeared in one crappy superhero movie is probably going to appear in another crappy superhero movie.  At least it wasn’t his wife getting picked for a Wonder Woman movie, as there likely would have been more than a few gratuitous rape comments thrown in, ’cause if there’s one thing some fans know, it’s that they’re justified in throwing around rape and death threats.

We are talking about a movie that will cost $200 million to make and it suppose to be out by 2015.  For which, at this moment in time, has no script, no story–but like that’s ever stopped anyone from making a picture.  If you’ve followed this saga you know that Zack is using Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as the basis for his story, showing the adventures of an older and somewhat burned-out and disillusioned Bruce Wayne setting out on one last set of adventures to tie up loose ends, and how Superman, the eternal boy scout and now-government agent, is sent to bring Bruce under control.  We all know how this ends (I’m saying this next in my River Song voice, so you know what that means . . .):  Bruce, figures out how to kick Superman’s ass, and does.

Miller has been called in to “advise” on the movie, which may or may not be a good thing.  On one hand, The Dark Knight Returns has been hailed for years was one of the greatest stories in the Batman universe, and for graphic novels in general.  On the other hand, twenty years later Frank penned All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, which was about as insane a story as one could ever imagine, complete with a wimpy Superman, a murderous Wonder Woman, a Black Canary who gets sexually aroused by violence, a Dick Grayson who is kidnapped, held hostage, and at one point told by a certain Caped Crusader to catch and eat rats if he’s hungry . . . and the main man himself, who is cruel, violent, even sadistic towards others–and, because of this introductory line, ends up becoming one of the most famous memes on the Internet.  Sure this is all pretty brutal, but it’s not like Batman hasn’t killed anyone before . . .

When it’s all said and done a movie will get made.  It will either bomb harder than the Dresden fire storm or make a gazillion bucks world wide, some people will love it, some people won’t, and haters gonna hate.  It’s not like it hasn’t happened before:  Micheal Keaton was ripped a new one by fan when he was selected by Tim Burton to wear the mask, and this kid who’s only played gay cowboys is gonna play The Joker?  What a disaster that’s gonna be!  Seems like there’s been more than a few actors and actresses who’ve been at the center of this fandom ire

None of us can see into the future, so none of us know the outcome.  We can imagine it, but unless you got the TARDIS warmed up and ready to set out, the 2015 movie scene is only conjecture.

There is only one sure thing we can say about Ben and the casting of this movie

Now if you’ll excuse me, I got some editing to do.

 


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Along the Scenic Route

As I’ve already mentioned to a few people, Ohio is a bit like the TARDIS:  it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside.  There the similarities end, because so far it’s been a boring drive.

As I write this I’m sitting in a rest stop somewhere between Toledo and Cleveland, which doesn’t really rock even though Mott the Hoople says they do.  After that it’s a run for the border and straight on into the Keystone State–

Which means what, Cassie?  Well, let me tell you:  I’m on my way to work.

As I may have mentioned, my last contract ended in May, and I began looking for something to do around the Chicago area.  Lots of nibbles, but no bites, as they say.  I even had a good shot at a company up der on the nort side a Chicaga, which is how the natives would make the claim.

Two weeks ago, however, I received a call:  would I be interested in a six month contract with the State of Pennsylvania?  Part of the reason they wanted me was because I could do the programming they needed; part of it is I’ve worked for a state government before and understand the ins and outs.  It was for as much as I was making at my last position, and since I’d be working on a 1099 contract (meaning I’m independent), I’ll take care of all my expenses and write a lot of stuff off at the end of the year.

So, the last few days I’ve packed things up, thrown them in the back of my CR-V, and hit the road.  Which is why I’m writing this post from somewhere in Ohio, dealing with screaming kids and piss-off drivers who didn’t get their Whopper in three minutes flat.

This isn’t something new to me, going off to a strange land and living out of a hotel for months at a time.  I used to go to China once or twice a year back in the late 90′s and early part of this century, but this is the first time I’ve done the same within the borders of this country.  I’m ten hours from home if I want to drive, and about four if I want to fly.  But for the most part I’m living in the hotel, which is fortunately close to a Target and a Costco, so look out tomorrow, Hell Comes to Harrisburg!

In a way this is going to be good experience learning how to do the “independent writer bit,” since I’ve got to track expenses and pay my taxes quarterly.  We writers do the same–or are suppose to, you never know–and if I get this part down pat in the next few months, I’ll be ready for it when I become a best selling novelist.  If I don’t, it’s the pen for me!  I don’t expect that, because I’ve got all my work printed out for doing that stuff, and I’ve got this week and next to get my spread sheet together.

And that’s the tale.  Cassie off on a new adventure.

I’m already feeling so excited, I’m going to want to edit tonight.


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The High Price of Melodrama

It was sort of a “Take it Easy” day for me yesterday.  Having bumped into “I Win the Camp!” word totals the night before, I didn’t need to sit and crank out two thousand words yesterday.  I did spend a lot of time cooking in the afternoon, so the writing started late in the evening and went on even later.

A little over sixteen hundred words later I had one scene completed and another character in a bad way.  Stuff happens.  I have another scene to do today, and I know it’s going to be a long one, because–well, because.  I just know.  I also know I need to add another scene, but that will come in time.

Instead, there are things to discuss . . .

There was one of those hypothetical questions posted in the NaNo group, the kind that appear when someone who isn’t writing had a lot of time on their hands.  The question was along the lines of kid has a rich family–millionaire status, a lot more common these days–and the head of the family feels that everyone has a price, so the kid is looking for your price, and wants to know:  how much will it take to buy you to do their bidding?

There’s really no, “I need you to kill someone,” or “I want you to fix the Powerball lottery”.  No, it’s just, “What’s your price?  Everyone can be bought, so what will it cost to get you on my side?”

First off, I’m reminded of Adrian Veidt’s response to Night Owl (“Dan, I’m not a Republic Serial Villain–”), and I’m thinking that’s exactly who the character asking the question is acting.  They’re full of “Bwah, hahaha!” and short on any kind of real motivation; they come across as so two-dimensional, if they turn sideways, they’ll vanish from sight.

Sure, I’m certain there are real people out there, many with room temperature IQs, who believe anyone can be bought, that everyone has a price, and if you push hard enough you’ll find it.  But that price has to have a tag, otherwise there’s no frame of reference by which to judge the cost.  The last time a character said their daddy told them everyone has a price, and everything can be bought, they were trying to get Pee Wee Herman’s bike.

You really want to go that route, Francis?

I realize it’s only a question to get discussion going–writers seem to have a lot of spare time to answer rigged questions–but it ones of those questions that don’t make a lot of sense.  I do realize there are a lot of things that get asked that make little sense, but stating that you must state your price to join the Sith Lords without asking “What’s in it for me if I do?”, yesh:  that’s some lightweight character building right there, sort of like some of the lame-ass villains Batman has had to fight from time to time.  (At least some of them lasted more than one issue, unlike these losers.)

No, if you’re going to go over to the Dark Side, make it worth your character’s while.  I have one character who absolutely knows her price:

 

“My price?  I want to see you blow your brains out, right here, right now.  Decorate the wall with your brains, and I’ll be yours–at least until your body hits the floor.  Then I’m on my way.”

 

Never ask someone who hates pompous rich kids what their price is–they might tell you.

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