Worlds & Time

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Memories, Sweet Memories

I just put up the first two Lex and Lia posts that I wrote this morning. I was looking for the original posts that belonged to a separate, ancient blog, but I couldn't find them, so this is based on what I remember.

I'm sure Ashley remembers the Madrid scene, although I know this one is different. I remember the first one that I wrote being better, but obviously I can't remember it well enough to duplicate it. I do know that Alex wandered around longer, but I don't remember why that was.

Just in case anyone is wondering, Madrid really does have a Saloon, a Soda fountain, and a boxcar shop. Only the motel is fictional. It's an unusual place, and since I've been there it seems like the perfect place for vampires and other creatures of the night to visit during the middle of the night.

Also, as a reminder to myself, the date in the story December 21. The vamps are celebrating the Winter Solstice. That means Christmas is just around the corner for Lex and Lia. I'll have to remember that for next week.

What else is going on in my non-life. . . ?

Well, I finished the first Anita Blake book yesterday, and I finished the second one this morning. It's true, they're like fantasy mystery novels, and they're darned easy reading. I'm glad I picked up the whole set at that book fair. The whole "Voting rights for Vampires" thing is an interesting twist on the whole world of the undead. It's something that I wasn't expecting, and so it's a nice touch.

I also found a letter from a friend buried in an old email account yesterday. It's odd, I don't check my email like an addict, although I have an addictive personality. I tend to let my addresses multiply and then slowly wither and die under an inconceivable amount of spam. I love the gmail filter, which has so far proven 99% efficient.

The old letter was in my school account, which I access with Thunderbird from Mozilla. You'd think that it would be a decent program for email considering how good Firefox is, but at times it hangs and leaves my entire computer waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting. . . . Also, it doesn't have preset guidelines for spam, so everything gets through, which is sickening. Shouldn't it at least have some basic guidelines before "learning" from me? I don't have time to go through the 700+ emails in there now to train it.

Of course, there's my Yahoo account, which has 500+, but that's just because I have a few daily subscriptions. Still, I dread having to slog through that to find the things that I need.

Right, anyway, that old letter was from that friend that I was worried about because he's down South and I haven't heard from him. So, I at least know that as of a month ago he was okay and alive, which is great news.

My sabbatical is going okay as well. I'm obviously not yet doing the work on my novel that absolutely must get done, but I've been thinking about it, and I've been writing every day, which is a good sign. The reason that I'm avoiding it is because I have to do more rewriting, which is something that I hate. Yuck. This is the 5th draft on some of these chapters, and that is annoying as all get out. I'm just glad that I don't have to redo the whole book start to finish.

I also need to spend more time on art. I'm getting near completion of my first color work, and it's going to be a bitch to frame because it's such an odd size. Still, I think it looks just the way I wanted it to look. I'll post one of those blurry pictures of it from a distance when I'm done.

I want to do some more complex stuff after this, but it's going to hurt because complex means a whole lot of time. Also, my neck is only so-so. I think all of the reading that I've been doing has been hurting it, so I can't spend a lot of time trying to bend over a piece of paper.

Oh right, final thing. While I was looking through Tad William's previous interviews I found the blog "Pat's Fantasy Hotlist." If you're a fantasy buff like I am, this looks like a phenomenal blog. It's got interviews, releases, and it's also got contests where they send you books.

Yeah, it's like a fantasy or something.

Anyway, I added it to the Worlds & Time sidebar, along with the blog of a writer who I've never before heard of before, Hal Duncan, but who wrote this amazingly cool blog entry. I love the anger, the power, and the absolute righteousness of it. So he gets an automatic spot on the list. And I'm going to buy one of his books, when I get around to it.

Now, I think I should do some work. So once again, until next time, space cowboys.

Update: Yarg, the Myspace blog isn't working. I'll have to post this over there later. See, this is why I keep the blog in two places.

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Lex and Lia: Night in Madrid

Alex woke with a start.

He wasn’t dreaming. There was light coming through the window. There was a digital clock on the bedside table, and Alex pulled it over and looked at it.


He couldn’t have slept for more than twelve hours, he was still tired. So it had to be past midnight.

He’d slept in his jeans because of Celia. His old sneakers were by the bed and his red and white windbreaker was on the chair, and Alex pulled them on. Celia had left the key next to the television, and he grabbed it and put it in his pocket.

Then he slipped out the door.

Madrid had come alive. The motel sign was dark now, but large flood lights lit up the main street, and strands of Christmas lights were everywhere.

Alex stumbled forward, and then shivered, his skin prickling into goose bumps. In the desert, things got cold at night, and Madrid was no exception. The windbreaker wasn’t nearly enough, and Alex suddenly wished that he had one of the sweaters that his mother in law had given him for Christmas for all of those years.

He walked toward the lights, and was surprised to see how many people were walking the streets. There was a Saloon, and the door was open. There was shouting from within, and the clink of glasses. Someone laughed uproariously.

In the row of shops, there had been a soda fountain. He could see people drinking milkshakes through straws through the well lit window. Across from that, the galleries that had been dark were lit, and people were sitting on the porches, pouring drinks and calling out to people walking by in a friendly manner.

In the street, vendors had appeared, filling the road that Alex had driven down only a few hours before. The stalls and carts were filled with strange items, from crystals on strings to scrolls to meat on sticks.

Looking at all of the things, he’d been distracted from the people, but as he got closer, it suddenly jumped out at him that there was something very wrong with the people that filled the street.

A couple passed him by, and Alex starred. The man was wearing a suit, but not a modern suit. This one had a bowtie and a vest, and a pocket with a chain, and he was wearing a bowler hat. The woman had her hair up, and she was wearing a fancy green dress with lots of embroidery and carrying a parasol. She looked at him as she passed him, and as Alex shivered he realized that she wasn’t even wearing a coat. The dress was short sleeved and the only thing around her neck was a black choker.

There were others, that were wearing clothes in the same fashion as the couple, and there were others too. Up in front of the soda fountain, leaning on the railing of the walkway, were creatures covered in fur. Behind one of the stalls there was a man with no eyes trying to sell a plate of some kind to a woman that was seemed to be wearing a suit of vines. Striding through the crowd was a large man wearing thick black robes, and people parted the way for him.

Alex felt horribly out of place, but the view was enthralling, like he’d stepped into a movie.

A woman saw him, and she laughed. She was tall and even paler than Alex and wearing a yellow dress that nearly shimmered, and she muttered something to the women that she was with and then approached him.

“Hello dear,” she said. “Are you cold. Would you like Sara to warm you up?” The other women giggled, their eyes slithering over him. Their looks made him even colder, and he took a step back, but the woman in yellow reached out for him.

There was something about her, and Alex looked into her eyes. They were like burning liquid gold, and without thinking, Alex took the hand that she offered him. Her skin was soft, but it was also colder than ice. Alex gasped without thinking, and flinched back and the woman laughed.

“Sara,” a heavy voice said from behind him. “Stop playing with the child.”

“Oh, Darius.” She stomped her foot, but the only sign of it was that it set her skirts shaking. “You’re no fun.”

“He probably belongs to someone. Otherwise he’d be caught by the sleep.” Alex turned, and found that the speaker was an eight foot tall brown bear with piercing blue eyes. The bear took two steps forward, and then bent down and smelled him. “I don’t smell a fresh mark. You aren’t supposed to be out here, are you?”

Alex shook his head.

The bear grinned. “I bet you thought you’d just pop out and see the festivities, didn’t you?” He turned to the pale woman and said. “They strain their leashes, especially on the festival nights. He doesn’t smell too healthy, and they haven’t even come up with the feast. If you eat now, you won’t be hungry later.”

“Will you escort me then?”

“It would be my honor, Sara.” The bear offered an arm, and the pale lady took it. They began to walk away, and the bear looked back at Alex, and gave him a shooing motion with a paw.

Alex turned, and began to walk away. He wanted to run, but somehow he knew that would be a bad idea. He was a sheep that had wandered into a den of wolves and then somehow walked out.

He slunk over to the side of the road, past the darkened office of the motel, and to room seven. He fumbled in his pocket for the key, and he was so nervous that he had trouble with the lock. He slipped inside, dead bolted the door, and barely taking the time to take off his shoes he slipped into the bed and pulled the covers over his head.

This had to be a dream, but it wasn’t vague enough. He was still wearing his windbreaker and he could feel the cold zipper biting at him through his thin t-shirt. He unzipped it, and pulled the covers down for just long enough to toss it back onto the chair, and then pulled him up again.

He rolled up into a shivering ball, and waited for the morning.


Lex and Lia: Beginning of the Road

Alex Mercer was exhausted, and up ahead there were more curves in the road. He needed to find some place to stop before he ran off the road.

Beside him, the girl sat silently, looking out at the dark that was passing them in the truck. She was calm, like she was driving home with her brother. Looking at her, you might have thought that the two of them did this all of the time.

No one would have accepted that they were related. She had dark brown hair and skin, and large dark eyes, and she still had the roundness of a baby in her cheeks despite her age. She was young, but not as young as she first appeared. It was her size that had fooled Alex at first. A fourteen or fifteen year old should be bigger.

Alex was nineteen. He had dark hair, but his skin was lily white compared to the girls, and he had greenish eyes. He wanted to look over at her, but he didn’t. He kept his barely open eyes on the road.

They’d been driving for hours in the old truck. Neither had spoken a word since they’d started out. She hadn’t even asked where they were going.

Alex was about to pull over when he saw something odd ahead. There was a chain link fence ahead, and behind the fence, that was a baseball field. Not a big one. Probably for a little league team.

That made no sense. They were in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. In order to have a team, you had to have people.

The road turned before the field, and Alex found himself in a town. There was a sign, carved from wood and painted, that called the place Madrid. Population was 110.

There were no side streets. Houses, most of them two stories with big porches, lined the main street. In the sickly light of the trucks headlights he could see the signs for galleries in front of a few of them.

The main street continued on for a way. Off to his left there were a set of shops with a raised wooden walkway. To his right there was an old train caboose. Then the road turned right, and Alex saw the motel.

It couldn’t have been more than ten rooms. He counted, slowly, and came up with eight rooms visible, but the lights were on and the sign announced vacancies. He was so surprised that he almost drove by, but managed to pull the truck over and stop.

The clerk looked up in surprise when Alex walked in. There was a clock on the wall, it said half past eleven, which seemed unbelievably early to Alex that he just looked at it in wonderment for a moment.

“We don’t take credit cards,” the man said, looking at him. “If you’ve got a check, I’ll take that this late.”

“How much,” Alex asked.


Alex didn’t argue. He pulled a few bills out of his windbreaker looked at them for a moment. Two twenties. He handed them over, and the guy started to count out change. Thirty, not including tax.

It came out to thirty four something, and Alex took the change and put it back in his pocket. There was more money, if he needed it, but no one had to know that other than him. It was the first time in a while that he hadn’t been worried over every penny, but once you’d gotten to that point it was hard to let go of the feeling.

“I hope two twins’ okay” the clerk said as he handed over the keys. “I don’t have nothing else.”

Alex nodded. He hadn’t thought of that. He would have slept on the floor, but he was glad that he didn’t have to.

There was a sound behind him, he turned, and found the girl standing in the door, carrying that pink backpack that she’d so efficiently gathered earlier. Alex looked back at the clerk, and tried to think of something to say.

“Hello,” the girl said, “I’m Celia.”

“Mike,” the clerk said, and nodded politely. “What are you doing out here so late?” he asked, which was one of the questions that Alex didn’t want to answer.

“We’re driving home,” she said before Alex could stammer out something. “We just started out to late, and I don’t want to drive any more.”

Mike the clerk smiled and his eyes flickered to Alex, and Alex knew the look. If Alex had said it, he would call the cops once they were out of sight. He was watching the television, had there been something on the news? Had someone seem them earlier?

Alex forced himself to keep smiling, and forcing his voice into a friendly tone he said, “He’s the key, sport.” He tossed the thing to her, pausing only to check the number. Seven. “I’ll park the truck.”

Mike relaxed back. The whole exchange was so normal that it couldn’t have been faked, except that it had been. Alex felt numb inside.

Alex parked the car, and then went to room seven. He knocked, and the door opened. Celia moved out of the way and let him in.

The room was old. Everything had become gray with age, even though there were traces of color. Once upon a time the carpet would have been soft and yellow and the walls had been white and blue. There were watercolors in frames over the two beds, but they’d become gray as well. Even the lights over the vanity at the back of the room were gray.

Celia crawled onto the bed furthest from the door as Alex closed the door. She opened her bad, and pulled out a teddy bear. Not one of the modern ones with the super soft real fur. This one was old, and Alex had never seen anything like it. The skin was brown cloth, and the eyes were actual buttons.

Hugging the bear to her, she leaned over and put the bag beside the bed. Then she looked at Alex. “I need to brush my teeth.”

He looked around. He could go back and ask Mike if he had a toothbrush. It would fit in with their story. He didn’t want to though.

“Not tonight.”

“Okay.” She pulled back the covers, and slipped under them.

Alex sat on the other bed.

Finally, even though he wasn’t sure if she was still awake, he said. “I’m Alex.”

Celia shifted in bed to look at him. “I’m Celia.”

There was a silence.

“Nice to meet you, ‘Lex,” she said, and she smiled while she said it. And then she turned back over to go to sleep.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Colony 1


Let me say that again for impact: Finally.

During an interview with me Patricia C. Wrede said that some writers are natural born short story writers, and some people are natural born novel writers but there are only a few people that are both.

I'm not a short story writer.

I mentioned that I was working on a short story the last time I posted, but that short story turned out to be a lot longer than I anticipated. It's 17438 words long, which comes out to about 60 draft pages. That's practically a novella.

You can skip ahead to the story (look for the big green link) but let me talk about the idea that the story is based on first.

This story is "hard" science fiction. It's not supposed to be a space drama like Star Wars. Instead it focuses on some aspect of technology and how it would interact with individuals (or society, as in my case).

I was thinking about an aspect that I've been talking about on this blog: founding new worlds. In the universe in which my books are set, this isn't difficult. FTL is common, and so it only takes days or weeks to travel between stars.

What if you didn't have faster than light travel though? What would the colonization of a distant planet look like?

Most of the colonizations that I can think of involve in the science fiction that I've read have involved people getting into ships, flying through space, and then landing on a planet and setting up a new society. I see a substantial problem with that: moving human life around is overwhelmingly expensive.

Humans need to breathe. They need food and water. They need to dispose of their waste. They also require an awful lot of space to live in. Some authors use "cryogenic suspension" or "cryostasis" or just "cold sleep" to get around the mind numbing time that it takes to travel between the stars, but at our current level of technology we can't freeze an adult human body for a week and then wake them up with no ill effects, much less a thousand years.

I'm sure that if you read that carefully, you noticed that I said "an adult human body." That's because we can suspend human embryos in freezers. Reproduction clinics do it all of the time.

If you just sent embryos, then you could cram thousands and thousands of humans into a very small space, and use only minimal resources to suspend them. If the technology was sufficiently advanced, you could keep them suspended and protected for thousands of years at a time, long enough to travel to a completely new world.

Colony is about such a colony ship, carrying no adult humans only embryos.

If you want to read this draft of it, you can find it here:


Of course, this draft needs a huge amount of work.

First, it's much too long. It really should be between twenty to thirty draft pages, and no more than ten thousand words. I don't think that the plot even starts until half way through.

A big chunk of the beginning has more to do with getting my idea formed than furthering the plot. When I revise this short story, one of the first things that I'll do is remove the opening section that describes the Archer's arrival at Cygnus Gamma IV (incidentally, I didn't do any research on Cygnus Gamma, so I don't even know if it's a real star, or if it would support human life). I'll start the story at the point where the children spend the first night in their new houses.

I'll also have to speed up the story so that Bryan leaves Cylinder 7 quicker. I don't think the plot begins until he gets back with Emma. Emma, actually, was not part of my original idea for this book, and neither was Bryan's trip to Cylinder 4. Both of those were added while I was writing and trying to figure out how to create a conflict between my protagonist and antagonist.

I have to say though, that I really liked Emma once she'd sort of taken shape. I don't know how much of her character comes through, but she's a Buffy. She's not afraid of anything.

Still, her character is very nearly superfluous. I might cut out the trip and Emma entirely. The problem is, Bryan and his sisters are not rebellious enough to provoke Arthur in the way that I want to provoke him.

Still, it would shorten the story if I didn't have to deal with the travel scenes.

I also know that the plot and characterization need work. During this draft I had a fairly poor understanding of the characters (I kept another Word document open with a list of the names of the characters, animals, and primary jobs of the robots while I wrote so that I didn't have to keep scrolling up to remember what Bryan's sibling's names were).

Arthur isn't evil enough. I meant to make him smarter than the others, but that never comes through in the story, nor does he ever really figure out why he's treating the others like crap.

Oddly, of the six secondary characters, the one that I couldn't ever get a read on was Christine. She's there to hold that toy that she carries around, and that's it. All of the others have jobs, but not Christine. She was left blank.

I'm also not sure about the ending. Obviously it doesn't end on a strong note, but I wanted to get in what happened to Arthur without Mother actually talking about what she was going to do to him. They'd been traumatized enough by that point.

There are also a couple of things that are included in the story that don't make a lot of sense but are included or excluded because I thought the story would work better if I glossed over them. Bryan never goes to the bathroom when he's looked in his room, for example. Also, Ernestine magically comes up with nails for the boards, even though they haven't learned to smelt metal yet, and I doubt that they carried a bucket of nails with them on the Archer. If you notice any more, let me know. Those are the only two that I noticed.

Here's what else I'm thinking of changing in the next draft:

Instead of separate houses, I'm thinking that they should all live in more of a pueblo style building with a separate Gathering Hall with a kitchen.

I might cut out two of the girls, so that there are six children per generation instead of eight.

Have mother talk about what has happened (to give an overview of the colonization process) and what she wants to happen (so that the children have something to work toward.

Having Arthur shoot one of his siblings so that Mother is reacting to the action and not the threat.

Don't expect to see the next draft any time soon, though. After 17k words, I'm ready to work on something else for a little while. Probably I'll do a Lex and Lia post, and then work on my book.

Until next time, space cowboys.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Last night I went to dinner at my brother's house. My brother's roommate cooked, and there were a lot of people there.

My mother, my father, Makoena and I all drove down together. My brother's roommates were both there, as were both of their significant others. Marge stopped by after work, and Piper's father stopped by as well. That's eleven people, if I'm counting correctly, and two dogs.

Today my brother is driving toward California, and tomorrow (Wednesday) he'll check in at the base in San Diego. Within a few days they'll fly on a charted commercial airliner to Kuwait (usually by way of Germany) and then wait for a flight into Iraq proper.

So last night was the last time I got to see him before he ships out for Iraq.

Last time, my brother was so horribly overqualified for grunt work that they assigned him to something called Force or perhaps FORCE and his job was to drive around the city at night and break down people's doors and search their homes.

This time apparently he's going to be a sniper. He's a darn fine shot with a gun, even though he really hadn't handled one with any regularity until he joined the military. I do remember playing GoldenEye on the N64 with him back in the day, and he was an unreal shot in that game. I lost to him 99% of the time, and that last 1% happened between the time that I memorized the layout of every level and before he managed the same thing.

He's an inspiring person to watch playing a strategy game. I tend to be extremely focused on my own personal situation in video games and I don't focus on winning until after I've maxed everything else out. I tend to play on the easiest difficulty on games like Civilization and Alpha Centauri (and nearly everything else). I'd much rather be city planning than leading troops (although I suck at Sim City, bizarrely).

My brother is action oriented. He leads his troops, doesn't emotionally connect to individuals, and focuses on achieving the goals of the scenario.

Back in the day I would occasionally watch him play games like Shogun: Total War for hours. I don't have to play myself, and I don't get bored either. I simply watch my little brother's actions, and try to understand the bigger picture of the impact of the battle and why he's making the decisions that he's making.

If I ever engage in territorial dispute, I'd choose my brother to be the general of my forces.

When we were driving back home, my mother spent the entire hour crying. She tends to be a wreck when my brother leaves, and apparently this isn't going to be an exception. We tried to point out that as a sniper, my little brother will be defended by an entire team of well trained marines who's entire mission will be to protect him, but she can't find consolation that being a sniper isn't all that most dangerous that an accountant.

I get pissed off at this miserableness. I don't really understand why completely. After all, I worry about my little brother too, and I don't like thinking about it.

I think that when I see my mother in shambles, leaving the porch light on as a vigil and avoiding news, it reminds me of my brother. I can put it out of my head as long as I don't see her moping around the house and worrying to the point where she's physically self-destructive.

I get angry at her when she's like this. In the car last night I wanted to slap her and yell "Don't you think you should be strong for him?" or "He needs support right now, and crying isn't f***ing helping him." Really though, it's about me. The crying isn't helping me.

The problem is that there isn't anything that we can do to help him. We can't keep him home unless we shoot him in the leg ourselves and apparently we couldn't bring ourselves to do that to him. He won't see us anyway, so she doesn't have to be stoic for him. She can do whatever she wants, and she wants to spend all of her time crying.

So he's off to Iraq.

Last time I asked him to keep a journal, and he didn't. We got a few letters from him, which was nice, but I did buy him a really nice journal and a couple of pens before he left. He said he'll probably write more this time, and I hope he does.

One last quick aside about him, he reads when he's in Iraq. He takes Proust and Nietzsche with him, and we ship him Aristotle and all sorts of other classic works that I couldn't sludge through even if I was stranded in the Iraqi desert. I've tried, and I think the two most classic works that I've read are Catcher in the Rye and the 1001 Nights. He's a much better person than I am, and it's why someday I hope to make him President.

I'm thinking of my own leavetaking, of a sorts. I'm thinking of taking a break from online (and television). I've already been avoiding IIDB due to Stiletto's suicide, and I haven't been to CF at all this month. I don't have any formal requirements to check in at, and so I could just disappear for a week. I've been thinking about it for a month or so, and it seems like a decent idea.

Oddly, taking a break from television and internet during the day would probably mean that I'd be posting here at (Myspace/Blog depending on where you're reading this) more often.

If you're reading this at the Worlds & Time blog, you may have noticed that I already added a whole slew of new buttons at the bottom of each post. If you feel like it, you should think about hitting one of those buttons occasionally. I wouldn't mind the attention. I know I act sort of shocked when someone reads my blog, but it's actually a good feeling to see that someone is paying attention. I'm thinking of slicing up an image that's not me and putting it up as my profile picture to get the sort of attention that I know that Derrick was getting (although I think that was actually him).

I'm also thinking of trying to start up a weekly feature of my fiction writing. I've been considering journal entries by Jonathan, but I think that might be too confusing unless I start his own blog, and even then there are a lot of choices that I have to make. What stage of his life is the blog from, and is he here in our time or in whatever time period I choose in the future? It wouldn't really help me unless it was in the future, and posting it online would defeat the purpose of trying to get my book published.

The other option is 'Lex and 'Lia, the adorable tormented kids living in a vampire/wereperson/witchcraft novel. I just bought the Anita Blake series but I haven't started on them yet, so that would probably fit in with my frame of reference for the next few weeks.

I'm obviously leaning toward the Lex and Lia stories. I don't know what the format will be yet, so I'll certainly have to consider that. I also want to finish the hard sci-fi short that I've been working on first. So, keep a watch for something.

In the meantime, no one else do any leaving. I want promises from all of you.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stiletto's Suicide

It's odd. When I found out that Stiletto One committed suicide, I mailed A. on Myspace fishing for a response.

I found out around fivish, and I'm just now crying.

Obviously, somewhere in my head, I'm really fucked up by this because I'm not thinking straight.

I knew Stiletto mostly from the photo gallery thread at IIDB. I got involved with that when I was briefly a mod of The Lounge, and I've been going back ever since.

Stiletto was a cheerful guy. He liked to take pictures of himself, and so he was one of the few people at IIDB that I recognized by sight. He was a young Chinese kid who liked guns, swing and ballroom dancing. I was jealous of him because of the ballroom dancing thing, actually.

He always seemed happy in the pictures. In fact, none of the site staff had any idea that he was depressed. Even now, it seems impossible that he would be upset about anything. The one thing about him was that you couldn't get under his skin no matter what.

I've been watching the threads for hours now, and I think I've basically pieced together what happened. (See here.)

Yesterday, his roommate found a will. That was worrying so they started to look for him. They called around to places where they thought he might be. He'd just got a new handgun, so they called a shooting range but they didn't know where he was . . . or where his new pistol was.

He'd never seen the beach before. He and his best friend would talk about how sometime they should drive out and watch the sun rise over the ocean. He mentioned this to his roommate before he disappeared.

The girl that he was sort of seeing got in her car and drove out toward the nearest beach. She didn't know where he was, but she figured that she'd at least try the closest and most accessible beach.

While she was on her way, the beach patrol found Stiletto in his car overlooking the water. He'd shot himself in the head.

Stiletto One (or Stiletto Null)'s real name was Frank Chen, and he died yesterday on Carolina Beach, North Carolina. He was 21 years old.

I may have only have known you through some pictures and words exchanged on a message board, but I'm going to miss you Frank. It's bizarre thinking that there won't be any more random posts from you in the Lounge or black and white glamour pictures of you looking handsome or serious in the photo gallery.

Every time I see the "Magic Brownies?" option in a poll, I'm going to think of Stiletto.

I don't believe in an afterlife. I believe that this is the life that we have and I don't think we go on to a better place. Stiletto is gone. However, he's going to be missed by me and a lot of other people who didn't know how much he was hurting.

My condolences to his family and friends.

You need to be a member to see the IIDB threads, but if you're a member, you can click here for the notice of his death and here for the photo thread.

Update, Feb 13, 11 am. There's an article in his school paper, here.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

On The Other Side

Let's pretend for a moment that I'm Satan. I know it's not much of a stretch, I am a liberal gay strong atheist with Buddhist tendencies. You can't get much closer than that, so bear with me.

A few millennia back, I was thrown out of heaven for being proud enough to offer a choice to mankind, and then, two thousand years ago my opponent, God, decided to write down a script of what would happen if I ever faced him again just to rub salt in my wounds.

Assuming that I've actually read this future prophecy, or at least the much simplified Left Behind version, I know what's going to happen.

Or, I know what would happen if I ever faced God directly again.

I have to say, I'm still a proud guy. I don't like losing, and I don't like it when the big guy rubs my face in the dirt. And now I've got the 100% inerrant manual to how I'm going to loose next time.

So what am I going to do? I'm not going to do anything.

It's odd, if you're going to hand someone the manual to the game, which clearly states that I'm going to lose at the end, perhaps you should have asked me if I was willing to play the game.

I'm not incidentally. I'm not going to play the game. I mean, you have to understand that playing any rigged game is boring.

So, I've moved to the U.S., and I vacation in Asia and South America. Being gay helps avoid unwanted kids, so don't expect to see a popular European president take over at the UN any time soon. I'm not going to make the mistake of putting my foot on that path. If you're going to wait for the anti-Christ to call, you're going to be waiting for a long, long time.

Until I break down and play your little game, we have to deal with existence. I actually like existence. One of the nice things about it is that the people here (or at least most of the people here) try to make their lives better. Instead of this "wait until Christ comes for us" attitude, most of the people of Earth have embraced the idea that this life is worth living.

That's a great idea, especially since "the end" isn't due until I take some action.

Let me just say to all the normal people out there: if you're not a Christian, don't worry about hell. I became a Secular Humanist years ago. I know all the true Christians are sitting around, nodding their heads knowingly, totally unsurprised that it was my idea. They were right, it's a Satanic idea.

Anyway, you've probably heard through the Catholic Church that Limbo's closing down. You're probably wondering why. After all, if you read Dante, it sounds like the nicest part of hell. And it was. Of course, most people don't know that the concept of Limbo only existed so that I could remodel hell.

Hell's actually nice now. It was created with some problems, but I've had enough really good nuclear engineers for long enough that they've warmed up the cold parts and air conditioned the warm parts. The atmosphere there now is temperate and pleasant.

With so many people coming in recently, finding the labor to change things down there wasn't hard. it turns out that there are just as many hard workers in hell as there are lazy people.

If you think that New York City is a busy place, you should see Dis. Goes on forever. The air quality isn't great, but the food is amazing, and it never sleeps. It's got some great nightclubs, and you wouldn't believe the art that comes out of that place.

I've wandered off topic though.

Christians always seem to think that I'll go through with my plan. But really, haven't they realized by now that I've stopped playing? It's been two thousand years since I even talked to Him, and we both know that He's not going to come crawling to me to ask me to play my role.

In the mean time, I'm planning on going to Miami Beach to catch some sun, and maybe meet a cute guy.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

UNM Asking For It

I know I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry. I was writing this short story, and I had these big plans about posting the rough short story and then deconstructing it, explaining what I was thinking and how I would improve it. Perhaps I would post a revised draft.

Of course, like always, it turned into a novel. I’m still working on it, and maybe I’ll still post it.

In the mean time, I’ve also been reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Someone loaned it to me because they know I applied for the Real World, and it has an entire section that involves the author’s audition interview. As a tribute to nonfiction, I’m going to post a recollection. I got a phone call from the “Cherry & Silver Society,” which is the UNM Alumni association. They wanted money. I pointed out that after UNM tried to throw me out my last semester, they probably shouldn’t expect much money from me. I think the woman on the phone understood, because she hung up very quickly.

That’s not entirely true. The real story is that my professor tried and succeeded at throwing me out of her class. So there you go, Cherry & Silver, a bitchy grad student lost you money from now until forever. Have fun with that one.

Anyway, the class that I was kicked out of was Creative Writing: Nonfiction. I wanted to be in Creative Writing: Fiction, but once again my scholarship had come through late so I had trouble signing up for my classes. By the time I got my account unlocked, there were no positions in any of the fiction classes left, all of the poetry classes were filled, and so nonfiction was my last chance to graduate on time.

Rape is probably the main issue about which I get accused of sexism. Men can be raped. They aren’t raped in numbers anywhere near as high as women, but it’s possible to rape them. There’s always somebody bigger, stronger, or who have enough friends or a good enough understanding of chemistry to rape you, no matter who you are. If you watch L&O: SVU you probably know this phrase: Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power.

I found out in one of my American Studies classes that the feminists that I knew in college didn’t see it that way. To them, it is about sex. I’m equivocating that definition though, be careful. It’s about sex as in gender, not about the physical act of sex.

You see, to these specific feminists, rape is all about a man forcing himself on a woman. If you’re a man, you’ll never understand the trauma of rape, even if you’re a man that has been raped (that would violate the definition, you see, so it’s a oxymoron).

I haven’t been raped. Let me just make sure that’s clear. I wouldn’t want these specific people to actually think that my arguments have any sort of validity.

Anyway, when I see this position, it has some rather bizarre consequences. If only a woman can be raped, you would think that only men can rape, right? Well, no. That would deny the inherently equal abilities, so both women and men can rape someone else, but only women can be raped. And, of course, that can’t be a bad thing, so it must be a good thing.

So . . . the ability to be raped is something that women should be proud of. Women that have been raped have an understanding that no man can share.

Don’t look at me like that. I don’t believe any of that crap, but this is my eventual understanding of the bizarro world feminists’ position that I was dealing with. Perhaps (in fact I would bet that) I don’t understand their position, but they won’t listen to what I say, and it’s hard to communicate if one party won’t listen to the other.

One of the first books we read for the nonfiction course was Atlas of the Human Heart by Ariel Gore. It’s an interesting book, but she is raped early on. Somehow the subject came up in class, and I pointed out that I didn’t think that it was well dealt with.

Rapes are vicious, painful, life changing events, and even though the rape is mentioned in the first section of the book she never deals with any of the consequences of the rape. I have a friend from the University of Rochester that was raped. It was still affecting her life five years later, and she eventually dropped out of school because of the depression and recrimination. I haven’t talked to her since I left, but at the time it was destroying her life.

I pointed this out in class. It struck me as an unintended validation of the rape. Ariel Gore never cries about it, or is depressed or worried. She never locks herself in her room. The rape is mentioned, and then ignored. To me, the absence was glaring. It was like it didn’t affect the author at all, and I was worried that people would get the wrong impression from the rape. If a woman can be raped and then shrug it off, she was saying that rape didn’t matter, that it doesn’t hurt anyone.

I wrote her a letter. Her email is listed on her website. I stuck it at the end of a list of questions, but the entire letter was so that I could ask her about the consequences of the rape. She told me that she was affected by it, but she was trying to get the reader to bring their own emotions to the situation so she didn't talk much about the emotions that she went through.

The people in the class, including the professor, seemed to think that I was trying to argue that rape doesn’t affect women, and as soon as people thought that, they stopped listening to me.

That was the first strike against me. The second one was that I disliked nonfiction. I don’t often write about myself. This blog is the closest thing to a journal that I keep, and it’s relatively new. I don’t particularly like my life, and I don’t like to think about my past. I’d rather concentrate on something recent or something in the future instead.

I made that clear, and I think that the grad student professor took it personally. After all, if I didn’t like nonfiction, and she was involved in nonfiction, obviously I must not like her.

The third strike was the essay. It was two days before the essay was due, and I had nothing to write about. I simply couldn’t come up with a topic that I wanted to write about. I like to write about what I care about. I’ve never been good at arguing from a position that I don’t share.

I was sitting around, and finally I came up with the idea to write about her. I suppose it was a jab at this grad student professor, but I felt it was a reasonable one. After all, we were supposed to write about ourselves. It was a nonfiction class, so I wrote a non-fiction essay about how I was dealing with being in all of these classes, and I included the professor as a character. I also twisted my first sexual experience and made it the resolution and tied everything together through it. I haven’t been raped, but you wouldn’t know that from reading the essay.

I turned the paper in, and a few days later I got an email from the professor, asking that I not come in to class.

You know what the best stories are? The stories that make you feel something. The ones that grab your heart and pump it or stick a knife in your belly and twist it around in your insides. My story made her feel something, and it certainly made me feel something.

I just read the paper again for the first time since that semester. It’s not an easy read for me.

The professor couldn’t handle it. I haven’t seen her since. She took it up with the head of the department, and I ended up in private tutoring with the head of the Creative Writing program for the rest of the semester. I wrote about a particularly nasty hospital stay, which turned out well.

Normally, I’m not so much for personal insults, but I still dislike her, so I might as well. She was a butch woman, between the tattoos, the dogs, and the motorcycles. You can’t judge people by their outward appearance, but you can’t stop yourself from making assumptions. I didn’t know if she was a lesbian, but it wouldn’t have surprised me.

She isn’t. She’s actually quite homophobic, actually. She said that lesbian is an insult, anyway, and if you’re not homophobic you probably wouldn’t think that was an insult.

I didn’t like UNM very much. I didn’t like the University of Rochester either, actually. What is it about college administration that breeds incompetence? But there were smart people in both places, and I miss that so much, being surrounded by people that could talk intelligently.

Still, I don’t think they’ll manage to get much money from me. The school doesn’t create those people, or even shelter them. I think that the good parts happen despite the interference of the school.

Hopefully they’ll stop bothering me now.

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