Happy Halloween

Halloween was always a pretty cool holiday, and I hope you’re having a good one. The stores have purged all their ghosts and pumpkins and put up elves and snowmen, but you know, Halloween hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves in years.

Have a good one!

Attend The Tale…

I like the way Henry Brennan thinks. And I’m so glad I can write that in the present tense.

Seeing his May 4th entry (from whence this derives its title) standing alone like that was starting to drive me crazy. Not only starting, but actually getting quite some distance as well.

So, it’s nice to see that entry no longer alone. And I can get out of the car! Right here, in the middle of nowhere. Hey, here’s someone of whom I can ask directions. Hey, hey mac! Where’s civilzation?

You don’t say? All of them, huh.

Welcome back, Henry.

Fallow Times

Well, nothing much seems to be working lately, creativity-wise. I’ve done some painting, but have been unhappy with it all, and in one case actually just painted over what I’d done. I bought a drum machine, but audio recording has been such a dry well for so long that I think it was probably more the money-spending gland kicking in again. Damn that gland!

I have had some ideas for essays, which, if I actually get down and write (let alone complete) I will probably post at the other site. Oh, and I’ve got a couple of photos I’m going to upload, as well as an old audio project. But these are all old things.

All of this is a rather roundabout way of saying that posting will probably be light here in the next few days…or next decade. Of course, who knows? I may be struck in the middle of the night by a notion, say, “Of course! It’s so simple! Ordinary table salt! General, I could kiss you!” And then those men with the nets will chase me around a while.

Who knows?

UPDATE: Actually, I think I’m just tired of the internet. Web pages, email, flash animation, and having up-to-the-minute stock quotes at my fingertips. So I’m going to take a holiday from it. If you don’t see me around, that means it’s working.

What will I do? Maybe I’ll take a boat to Bermuda. Perhaps I’ll take a plane to St. Paul. Possibly a kayak to Quincy or Nyack, just to get away from it all.

So, be well, drive safely and remember to tip your waitress.

So, otherwise, paper

So, inspired by Cullen Waters and Filthy Rotten Angel (who’ve both been posting drawings in recent days, also it’s fun to blame other people) I decided to try my hand at sketching, something I don’t do too often.

Two of them

The problem with drawing for me is that I have to have at least some notion of what it is that I want to draw. Otherwise it just comes out as abstract nonsense like the above.

A secondary problem is that, obviously, paint and pencil have completely different behaviors as media. I find that, even though pencil can be erased, it’s much more forceful on the surface. Once a line goes down, it has to be dealt with, whether it’s a good line or not. Paint, on the other hand, can be blended with its fellows or, allowing sufficient drying time, painted over entirely.

My final problem with drawing is texture. Canvas tends to be canvas, there’s not much noticeable difference between varieties—add to this the fact that one’s hand is at a brushlength’s remove, and I’m fairly happy with anything.

Paper, on the other hand, has a wide variety of textures. They can be rough and difficult, like a cat’s tongue, or smooth and friendly like a dog’s. It’s got to be right or the whole thing’s at risk of producing, well, what you see above. I wasn’t crazy about the paper I used last night. The right paper texture is very, very difficult for me to find.

I know I’ve got other sketchbooks around somewhere. But somewhere sure covers a wide area.

Whom Gods Destroy

I have now seen that film three times. It joins an elite group of titles that I have seen multiple times during their initial theatrical run; it is accompanied by such cinematic worthies as Alien, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and The Beast Within.

I’m thinking of seeing it a fourth time. Alas and woe, when one is seized by such a notion, it is simply the future making itself manifest.

This has me more than a little worried.

What worries me far more is what’s going to happen when the film makes its debut on home video. I’ll probably call in sick to work so I can be at Best Buy when it opens. I’ll buy five copies, and in my mad rush to return home I’ll cause three minor traffic mishaps and one lost breakfast. Then, I’ll switch on the player. And then—

Ah, what a scene that will paint, with deep blacks and angular greys. I can see it now, as if it were played out in the finale of some future melodrama—perhaps Tim Burton’s Corpse Jerk.

The DVD will duly be placed in the player, and the tray closed. My fingers will grasp the remote—

Then, some weeks later when my absence at work has been noted and none of my bills have been paid, the police will finally break down the door to my residence. They’ll be met by a scene of the utmost ghastliness; the strongest of them will blanch; they will bite down on their tongues to keep the screams from escaping as they make their way within.

Only to discover the cakes iced a peculiar shade of green.

And the tea urn empty.

Save for a card on which was written the single word:


By Any Other Name

I went to see Serenity this weekend. And I liked it, it was a fun movie with some interesting plot twists and turns and some really good special effects. The whole thing was very intelligent and well thought-out.

Except for the title.

Honestly, when the word “Serenity” appeared on the marquee of the local theatre, my first thought (and I can’t be alone in this) was, Oh, hey, it’s one of those sensitive films about young girls coming of age. I mean, that even sounds like a TV show title, where young women experience laughter, heartbreak, love and friendship all separated by carefully timed commercial breaks. Nothing wrong with that, I hasten to add. Heck, I like a good cry…far more often than I should be admitting in public. But that isn’t here or there. So the fact that it’s a science fiction western may come as a shock to those of you who didn’t dig too deeply. And that’s my main point.

The film is a spin-off of sorts from a failed television series, “Firefly.” Something I never watched, but fans have a passion that will not be dimmed. At the IMDB show times screen, it was quite instructive to see that other films in the theatre I go had a few hundred votes…some had four thousand or so…but only Serenity had over seventeen thousand.

That’s quite a fan base. And that’s quite a fan base for a film that is, let’s face it, preaching to the converted. Who is going to dig deep enough to see what this film is about, and then go to see it? Other than me, I mean. People showing up for a sensitive chick flick are (I hope) going to be warned away from a pretty violent and sometimes gruesome science fiction shoot out. People who are going to look for a science fiction shoot-out are, I guess, watching something else on DVD since they may not be aware of this film. But the “Firefly” fan-base, they’re going to be out en mass.

Which turns out to be not much of a mass. Wouldn’t it have been better to call the film something a bit more a propo? Like, urm, Killer Cannibals from Space? Granted that would have tied into the schlock movie crowd (like me) and wouldn’t have alerted the fans of quality idea films that here was something they might like…but then, the title “Serenity” didn’t do that either. (Spoiler alert: It’s the name of the spaceship.) For despite the fact that I went to see it, it dropped off the charts this weekend. Who’s to blame? Well, it’s hard to say. The whole set up is so insular that one imagines the fans of “Firefly,” and writer-director Joss Whedon are equally to blame. He made a film for them, and they went to see it. No one else was invited. Oh sure, you might say. All someone had to do was peruse a few message boards or read the synopsis or what-have-you, and you’d know what to expect and be there with bells on.

But that requires WORK. As noted, you’ve got to go to the trouble to dig up info on the entertainment in question. Why put people to work like that? Why not make it easy for them? Why not try to tell people what you’ve got on offer?

It might be argued that an arty title is the priviledge of the artist and his right to be true to his vision. And I won’t argue the point. But films aren’t just art. They’re commerce. Someone gave Mr. Whedon almost 40 million dollars to make a movie. Wouldn’t it have made sense to have as many folks as possible see the result? So that if it was a huge success, he might make another one?

The second argument is that such actions might delute the cult. It won’t be cool and hip, man, if everyone goes to see it. No, no, it is only for the select few. The enlightened ones…and I’m going to stop there before I get too scowly. I don’t have much patience with fans who desire that an artist, in whatever field, remain their exclusive property, and if that artist becomes a success he has, therefore, sold out.

The surprising thing was, I was able to pick up on the story and characters with minimum confusion. I may not have had the rich experience a “Firefly” fan might have had, but clearly Mr. Whedon was persuaded that potential newbies had to be brought up to speed. (The exposition was quite cleverly handled.)

So, it may be too late if you missed it and that sounds like something you’d like. If you’re a “Firefly” fan, you’ve probably already seen it. And if you’re a “Firefly” fan, perhaps you can answer a question for me. The Reavers in the film are a group of completely psychotic space cannibals. In the film, they appear totally out of control and completely in thrall to their passions, howling and rawring all the while. They seem to be 28 Days Later’s “Rage” victims…of the future.

How in the heck are they able to avoid killing each other, let alone organize? How the heck can they fly spaceships?

“Getting Warner” – A Fragment, Part II

Part One can be found here.

My dream that night, as always, was not a dream but a memory. The memory, the memory of the cold, bitter stars overheard, undimmed by cloud, that had shed me; the wet, freezing grass beneath me, blades scratching my skin; my limbs, wrapped tightly around myself, trying to keep the remaining warmth from fleeing; my skin, shivering, shaking, rebelling against the control of my hands.
And then the blanket, the sudden warmth, and her voice over me. Asking questions I could not answer, could not even understand.
And then, I remembered reaching out to her, unfolding my hand, stretching my fingers toward her…until I stopped. Or rather, something stopped me. My hand collapsed, and withdrew beneath the blanket as she tried to help me to stand. She tried to get me to put my arm around her shoulder, but I refused, staring instead with blank, newly-minted curiosity at surrounds foreign to my senses.
I was, then; that was all I knew, and all that had been left to me. Of what I might have been before, I did not know.
But there was a dark cloud in my thoughts, then, hovering, and I tried to push it away…dim it, deny it–but it remained, hovering. Words. Words spoken before. Before…before–

I awoke, beads of sweat running over my brow, dropping, stinging, into my eyes.
She was bent over me, running a damp washcloth over my skin, trying in her delicate way to keep the salt from my eyes.
“You cried out again,” she said. “I tried not to disturb you…as you asked.”
I swallowed. “Thank you.”
“But, I just couldn’t…” She wiped my brow again. “I couldn’t stand to hear you…cry out like that.”
“Did I say anything?”
“You…” She dipped the cloth back into the bowl of water, and sighed. “No. Nothing.”
“Please…I wish you would tell me.”
She shook her head. “You said nothing. Nothing I could understand. Nothing that would be meaningful to either of us.” She sighed. “So, anyway, I keep saying.”
I wanted to reach for her, I could feel the need to touch her…but I held my hand by my side. “I’m sorry,” I said.
She reached down and grasped my hand, and held it up in the air. The dawn light was beginning to leak around the curtains. My skin was pale when she turned my hand, back and forth, in the light.
“You know,” she said, then sighed. “I wish I could, just talk to you, sometimes. Ask you.” She closed her eyes and held my hand against her cheek. “I want so much to help you. You are….you are so…” She released my hand and sighed, turning toward the curtains. “Forgive me, I am…” She tried to regain her composure. “I’m sorry.”
Carefully, I reached for her, and stroked her hair with my hand. “I’m…not sure I understand. But I try. I do try.”
She turned to stare at me. “I have so many questions I’m not even sure I know how to ask them.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “They all begin with ‘Why—‘”
“I don’t have the answers,” I said. “It’s all…”
“All what?
I shook my head. “I don’t know. I don’t know.” I closed my eyes, and tried to turn away from her, but she held my hand tightly. “I know there are answers. I know it. I know it. There were, before. Before.” I rolled over and looked at her. “I just don’t know what they are, now.” With an effort, I pulled my hand away and tucked it under my side.
I didn’t need to see her, but I could feel her stand, the weight of her suddenly released from the bed. The springs bounced.
“You need to go, don’t you?” she asked.
I pressed my eyes closed. “Not yet,” I said. I clenched my teeth.

Many times, I tell myself that it is my hands, my hands that do these things. They are the ones who reach out, who grasp the invisible threads, and pull them toward me. My understanding is that people do this all the time…they blame other things for what they cannot control. Their jobs. Their cars. Their families. The state of things, here and elsewhere.
And I want to be like them, I confess. When I am down in the basement, looking into the furnace, howling to deny the hunger, because that is what she would want, that is what would make her look…differently at me…I tell myself it is my hands.
It can’t be me. It can’t.
But people know that their jobs, their cars, their images do not control them. It is, I think, a polite fiction. I believe that is the phrase I read. A polite fiction separating us from the animals. I don’t know what fiction means. Yes, she has shown me films, of spacecraft and death rays and the triumph of the righteous and good. But they are simply images, crafted elsewhere. They are very clever. But they can’t tell me anything. The hunger is always there. I can hold it at bay, but unlike those heroes, I cannot defeat it. It is never, ever defeated. Just delayed. Sometimes, she and I will watch some entertainment, with space heroes, and laser weapons, and problems that are neatly solved in an hour and a half. They’re good films. I find myself reaching for her…with my hands.
It is then I tell myself that it is my hands which do these things. Because I would never do these things…to her. I could not.
I would not.
I…I must leave. On screen, the handsome hero and the love interest have not yet acknowledged anything between them….but I fear…my hands. It must be my hands. ”Are you…okay?” she asks. “You have that—look.” She tries to hide it, but I see her shudder, I see her stiffen.
”Yes,” I lie, again. “I think I need to take a walk, that’s all.”
She’s very good at hiding it, but I hear it anyway. A sharp intake of breath.”Will you be walking…far?”
She has been so good to me, and everything I have to do is a risk to her. “Better not wait up for me,” I say, and I hear her breathing relax.
It’s all in the hands. ”I love you,” she whispers.
The most horrible thing in this world, to me, is that I do not know what that word means. But I know how to answer, I have learned that, at least.”I love you too,” I say.

“Getting Warmer” – A Fragment

I have no idea where this came from. I have no idea where it’s going, either, or what it’s about. But here it is. Possibly more to follow. Hell, if I can’t publish myself, might as well give it away, right?

I looked at the body of the young soldier. He had been assigned to keep me in the room, and when I had tired of the pretense, he had, unfortunately, been the one to suffer.
His young features were frozen in a rictus of fear. His eyes were wide, his mouth open in a silent scream. His hands were spread far from his body, as if he had somehow sensed, in those last moments, that reaching for the gun was of no use.
It was regrettable. Yes, I admit that. Regrettable. It sounded like a good word to use, and I think I knew what it meant.
But there he lay, and here I was, and I would rather use my talents to blend away from here than waste time over the inevitable feelings of guilt. They, after all, could always be nursed over a beer in some darkened saloon, at any time. I had to escape now.
Fortunately, his uniform fit me quite well. I began altering my face as I walked down the corridor. I had a clipboard, now, and I glanced nervously at it, to seal the illusion.
When the glass panes at the emergency room slid open upon the fading afternoon, I began to breathe more easily.

Luck was with me again on the outside. I found a place to hide until night, then began the journey back to the house.
I had gone perhaps three miles, and was walking casually through a tree-lined neighborhood not far from downtown. That’s when the flashing lights and burning smell from the next street attracted me, and I crossed the block quickly. The accident was apparently quite recent; although the ambulance was already in attendance, the sports car still sprawled, defeated, wrapped around the bent lightpost. I suppose the wreckers would be here in a moment, but I paused to watch the paramedics administer to the young man who had been thrown clear of the car. They fussed and moved rapidly about him, as his blood spread in a slowly widening pool.
It was a simple gesture. I reached out, held my hand toward him stretching and flexing my fingers in the air. I felt the heat flow through my finger tips, like fire, spreading rapidly along my arms. I heard the machines around the young man stop their rhythmic sound, and I turned to leave, the job done.
A young woman was on the grass not far from me. She glared at me, watching me drop my hand to my side. The side of her head was bandaged, and she was being questioned by another paramedic. Evidently, she was the passenger, relatively unhurt. Her glare burned like a hot coal into my eyes.
What might she have seen?
I shook my head, cleared my thoughts, and decided not to worry. The paramedics were shaking their sad faces around the dead young man, and I took advantage of the rapidly forming crowd, briefly to become a part of it, then to use it to move to the outer edges, thus quietly taking my leave of the gathering mass.
A pity. A great pity, I allowed myself to think, wondering if I understood the word….

Once away, far enough away, I took time to think, and asked myself if I should go to the house. There was only one answer, of course, but I sometimes like to pretend there are others. It gives me a strange feeling, to pretend. Almost a feeling of control.
She was washing the dishes when I came in through the back door. Her back was to me, but I could almost see her frown and feel her worry, and when she heard me, her disappointment.
She paused in scrubbing a dish, then went on and placed it in the drying rack.
“I’ve been worried,” she said, not turning around.
“I’m sorry,” I said. There are times when I hate this way of life, especially what it does to her. But there is no other way, so I did what I thought best, and lied. “I didn’t kill him. He was already dead when I got there.”
“Yeah,” she said, rinsing the next plate.
“No, it’s the truth this time.” Gods, how that burned.
“Of course,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. It burned even more to know she could see the lie.
What could I do? She seemed so fragile, washing dishes as the lights from the streets fell across the kitchen curtains. I wanted to protect her, but didn’t know how.
I stepped forward and stood as close as I could behind her. “I…I didn’t– don’t….”
“I know,” she said, and her voice caught. But she continued. Rinsing the plate, soaping the plate, washing the plate, drying the plate. The same plate.
“I’ll….I’ll be upstairs,” I said. “I have to change.”

“Would you like me to leave?”
“No,” she said in the dark. “No, I want you to stay.” She sighed. “I just wish…”
“I know,” I whispered.
“I want to ask you something,” she said after a moment. “Please do.”
“Will you ever….oh God.” She took a deep breath. “Will you ever do that to me?”
The question caught me off guard. “No,” I said. “No, of course not.”
I hoped it was the truth.

Return of the Living Dead

I actually saw Corpse Bride a second time, marking the first time I’ve seen a film twice in the theatre since…wow, since 1985 and Return of the Living Dead. Hm, noting a bit of pattern there, yes? (There are a number of similarities between the two films. Perhaps I’ve finally found my niche!)

I could be flippant and say that this is probably my penance for not seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas on the big screen, but that would be, well, flippant. I honestly don’t know why this movie has taken hold of me like this. But it sure has.

I’m sure everyone else has already seen it. My God, I’ve nagged you all often enough. What am I, your mother?

…I heard that.

October Eleventh

This is really directed at one person, who will, more likely as not, never see it, but the future (so I’m told) remains unwritten.

Happy anniversary.

For the rest of you, that is all ye need know in this blog, and all ye need to know.