The Slush Pile (A Review)

So without really even trying, it feels, I hit 35k on my current work in progress, Nowhere. It’s a dystopian Western set in the flat, wastelands of our Apocalyptic future. So that’s been a ton of fun, but it got me thinking. My slush pile, the stack of first drafts and half attempts every writer accumulates, is starting to look a little crazy, almost like it could just topple and spill all over the carpet. It would probably grow eight hairy legs, eat the asbestos tiles in my downstairs office, and just walk away to some other coffee soaked writer’s den. Oh if I could only be so lucky, anyway, so yeah I got thinking why not do a little review of the slush pile, to determine which of these monsters I should give my attention to and finally finish and distribute.

The Books

Pomegranate Lane-This was the last first draft I wrote, in November of 2015 for National Novel Writing Month (#Nanowrimo). It’s a murder-mystery novel set in the future. The protagonist Dorothy (ignore the hackery) is a detective, working the first real murder case anyone in decades has had, due to the impressive surveillance state which has been achieved. She wakes up the morning of the gruesome murder, alcohol drenched and one foot over the edge of an existential crisis. What was her job? Why did she want to do it? What is this strange world she took for granted? All these questions become compounded when there are failures in the security state itself, which provide ugly glimmers of a reality right next store, that threatens to overwhelm her secured world.

Interludes-I’ve been distributing this on here. I won’t go into too many details since you can just go read it if your interested. It’s a first person story, told by a version of myself, it unfolds in a place I call La-La-Land. There’s weird cults and rituals, a werewolf who sexually assaults me and tries to eat me, tricky mythical-poetical entities, and overall a deep and hopefully humorous study of Art itself. I am about three quarters of the way through the edit on this, and hope in the future to finish serializing it on this blog, so stick around.

Dawning of the Werewolf-This draft sits short of full novel, 45k words. I think I worked on it before Interludes, but I’m not sure. Overall, the slush pile gets a little scattered here in my own chronology. This story is a first person confessional about a guy who discovers he’s a werewolf. All I really remember is a lot of running, and this cool vibe of a man-beast racing up the edge of Lake Michigan. Oh, and I did like the ultimate hack move and had my creature help steal The One Ring, from Lord of the Rings, for some baddies. Again some cool stuff, but with that level of hack I think this one may be a dud.
Mech Suits (Totally working Title)-Science Fiction, first draft right at 50k words. This one may have potential. Basic story, in the future robotic technology is so far advanced that the use of machines suits, think the thing Ripley from Alien wears to kick that alien’s ass, is common place. There is an updated version of football which is played with these suits. The youngest boy gets roped into an international terrorist situation, through his connection to an very rich, corporate executive, who was aware of his skill, and had allow him free reign of his workshop.

 

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Something sort of cool about this one. The story follows three brothers. The youngest is a technical genius with machines (think Hephaestus), and his two older brothers are Mechball (think I just made that name up) all stars on the high school team. An interesting detail for me is when I wrote this book I only had two boys at the time, but now I have my own trio of sons. That personal relevancy definitely bumps this one up on the priority list. I also liked the big, entertaining story that took place. It was sort of like Golden Era 80s-90’s action flicks (think half Karate Kid, half Die Hard), mixed with a heady batch of Orwellian musings.

Sumer, previously Robot Academy Funtimes– I stalled out on the second draft of this work, a little over 66k words. Again there’s a personal component that makes me want to finish-finish. Basic plot came from my brother years ago, in a far distant future, robots rule the Earth, they have decided to begin reproducing humans, because they have lost their sense of humanity. My story follows one of these new-humans, a girl named Echo.

This one presents a number of critical and complicated issues. For one the story takes places in a holodeck/scientific lab of sorts. This sort of reeks of amateur hackery again because you end up in a sort of dream sequence explanation which isn’t very good. If it’s all a dream or a simulation then who really give a damn, the argument goes. Of course, traversing prickly fields of contradictions and ego destroying logical conundrums sort of destroys the pursuit of digestible narration.

More over, what was a stunning philosophical insight from my teenage brother, was a fairly well established Science Fiction trope. In my own reading aI have become more aware of this issue, via Asimov and others. That said, my draft was done with mostly clean hands, and since there really is nothing new under the sun, I don’t automatically discount this story. I feel like this definitely has the feeling of a fruit not yet ripened, so I continue on.

The Siege/Winterset-First draft, Speculative Fiction, right at 47.9k words. This is a weird one for me. What started out with the thought experiment, what would a people’s revolution look like in small town mid-West United States, led by a somewhat quixotic youth protagonist, similar to the idealized concept the Author has of himself. Think farm animals released on Main Street and the bouncy ball pit at high noon on a Saturday.
I didn’t like how it ended up though, in chaos and murder, and low-down outlaws. No one was supposed to get hurt…I thought about this book a lot later when I when I watched things like the Occupy movement, or the recent riots in Baltimore. I realized that the bullshit, Mayberry sense of revolution I depicted in the book was naive, in the meanest and truest sense of the word. This sort of development in my thinking leads to it having a permanent position in the slush pile.

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Tom’s Episode-I believe this is the first book I wrote, and it sits at a monstrous 95,829 words. Wow. It is sort of crazy to go through all these stories. They connect and bring back so many memories of when I wrote them. The basic idea of this story is what happens if someone became an atheist while in heaven. Again, just an awful, typical beginner’s premise, a story set in heaven. I wrote this over five years ago. I’d taken a class at University of Iowa, on Science and Religion around that time, and I remember I was deep into the Atheist, Creationism vs. Evolution, Dawkins, sort of stuff. Of course, Tom is an allusion to the so-called doubting Thomas of the Gospels.

Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas

Strictly speaking I would label myself an Atheist, in the strict I have seen no evidence for the positive claim there is a God, but in all the ways that count I’m still a dirty old apostate Catholic. I pray Our Fathers then Hail Marys, am in dialogue with the Holy Spirit, and ultimately abide a messianic eschatology (and I am the one I have been waiting for). But yes, it’s those sort of Gnostic drenched ramblings that make up this book. I also recognized later that it’s Interludes Part One, but that seems to form some sort of psychological singularity which I don’t really care to deal with (we’re all writing the same shit over and over and over…). I encountered Tom Robbins, and Christopher Moore’s Lamb later, they do masterfully, what I did very shoddily in this one, but again know, I wait for the day I may have the capabilities to birth this monster. Consider yourself warned.

 

Novellas/Shorts Stories

 

Kill The Television-This is a novella right around 17k words. I consider this my Parvus Opus (Small Work). Simple story, thirteen year old, Ronald lives on his Grandma’s couch at her senior living center. One day, he decides to start head hunting flat screens. Cool little story, hero’s quest sort of thing, set in my home city. I love the themes of this one and definitely want it to have some readers someday. Hard to place it exactly, not big enough to hold its own as a book, think I would like it to make it the title work for a collection of other short stories. I got hung up finishing it on a pacing issue, there’s a break away story told during the climax, which interrupts the flow, but I love it too much to cut it. Why not just shorten it the mind pushes.

Story of Roger Meeks-Science Fiction, 14k words, again cool idea, but not enough for own book. Seventy something year old is a nobody, from Nowhere American. He works as a cashier at a local gas station, and lives alone in the same house he grew up in. When a spacefaring race shows up, it is Mr. Meeks they want to talk to.

I like this one a lot. Didn’t quite get over in the version I got now, but definitely potential in this. I love the original Twilight Zone, and this is my attempt at something like that. I would love to see this in a collection of short stories.

Gnomes. Or How Martin Gardner’s LIfe Was Ruined By A Clan of Gnomes with Big Problems-Fantasy, right around 22k word, this has got to be the strangest of all the slush piles specimens. The general idea I had was, sort of like in Toy Story, what if your garden variety gnomes were actually alive, and their owners formed a shadowy underground railroad of magic. Fun idea, silly story, but not really enough for a whole book. But again, it so sort of absurd and simple, something still gets me about this story. Might need to revisit it…then again maybe not, just remembered a bit of hackery taking place in this one too.

So the main character is named Martin Gardner. I’m pretty sure the Martin is ripped right from Stephen King’s man in black, Flagg-type guyand I had some idea of this being like an alternative origins story for that character or a character like him. Normal average person that got suck unknowingly into a magical world, and ended up powerful, ruined and corrupt in the process. I think this is so out there it could be good, but would need extensive rewrites and a commitment to the absurd.

The Last Virgin of Hollywood-Fiction, a little under 10k. The premise of the story is in the title, Norma a twenty something year old make up artist of the stars has somehow retained her virginity. The shorty story follows her as she tries to hold on to it. It was a rushed story, scattered with cliches, the overconfident rich guy, the hobo with a soul, the decadent evil Brad Pitt type. I like the idea, and sort of feel in love with main character. I think this one had potential to be a great story.

Jar of Kisses-Fantasy, 13k words, another story with a good premise and hook, but not enough to warrant a full book. This was a simple story. We have this little jar, with the words “Kisses” on it, that prompted the idea what if there was this magical jar, that if you took an invisible scoop from it with your hand, and took a drink from it, would give you the greatest kiss you could ever imagine. Ended up being a decent story, middle-schooler gets it, bully classmate discovers it, decent portions of horror and sentimentality. Definitely worth edit.

Formation of the White-God awful title, clearly Tolkien hackery. Very strange feeling, sits a little over 10k words and I have absolutely no clue what the story is about. No characters, no scene, no anything. Vaguely, I am prompted by the title, I think this was when I started wanting an intertextual thing with my books, like Stephen King and Terry Pratchett have done, where characters and story lines can pop up in different books.
I read an excerpt from it:

…“Oh come on, I swear you think everyone is a sexual predator these days.”
“He’s a lame.”
“I swear Claire. This is the exact problem we’re up against. Everyone is too worried about how they look, and being cool, and all that shit. A guy like Chris Davis, a good man, is seen as a schmuck. I think that’s just wrong. Now they asked for a light, and we are going to get them a light, all right? And Davis is our light.”
“Fine, lame it is.” She took a drink of her coffee.
Her brother paid the bill; he always paid the bill.
They sat in silence for some time. Connor hated silence and finally broke it. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” she said.

And it all comes back to me. Claire and Conor are angel figures, representing Intuition and Righteousness, the story follows them on a heroes quest of still murky specifications. I imagined some sort of occulted initiation ritual into the Good. The protagonist, not the lame in question, is a bastardly bookish type like the author himself. I think this story was a bit of wishful thinking, hopefully not conjuring, on my part. Anyway, this work gets a big question mark. Could it be an Interludes sequel?

Rock Art Salesman-This was another one in line for weirdest premises. Right around 8k words, story is about the greatest Rock Arts salesman in the world. He’s entrapped in the selling of an exceptional piece, to a odious and shadowy party. I liked this story, but felt it was part of a larger tale. I have another start of a story, which I feel has a connection to this story, but haven’t flushed the either one out yet. Liked the characters and idea though.Also weird synchronicity, but I was later encounter just such a Rock Art Salesman in On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony.

Scrubber Boys-This is probably my best and favorite short story. Right under 7k words, the main plot points and characters came to me in a dream. I woke that morning and took notes in my journal and had a draft fast. Definitely needs a rewrite and an edit, but if I ever have a shorty story collection this will be in it.

It follows two scrubber boys John and Pinto, who work as child laborers on a giant battery complex in a strange world. Surreal, challenging, this story runs out of the dream into reality and back. I love this story.

We Troll-Fiction/Horror. Another strong short story premise. 5k words. Set in the future, the story follow high schooler Roger, as he experiences a surreal amount of bullying. Exaggerating the trend of online trolling and abuse, I speculated what would happen when this behavior ingrained itself into a society and festered for a century. I imagined a website were bullies could get together and make a sport of the process. The result is this terrifying glimpse into a possible future.

Escape-Fiction/Fantasy, 997 words, spawned in early parent hood when 2nd child hopped out of his crib one night, about a toddler who sneaks out on his parents, to discover a magical world outside. Dense, exciting, and frightening, probably worth finishing.

Changeling-Fiction/Fantasy, around 3k words. Decent story, again produced in newly acquired parenthood. Tells a modern story of the ancient myth of “the changeling”, which is a surrogate fairy child, the fairy/gnomey people leave while they take your child and train it in their magical ways. This story takes place on the night the human child is returning to the home. Can you guess the ironic twist? Strong enough to be given further consideration

Agent or Standard Operating Procedure-Fiction/Speculative Fiction, 4.6k words, written in a 1st person perspective, confessional, telling the story of how this agent ended up violating protocol. Strong story, but overdone. Energy comes from the first person story, and with things like Interlude, I have gotten that urge out of my system. Strong enough to consider for the short story collection.

Arms in Ankeny-Short Story, Science Fiction, 6th draft, 5k words, this was the first piece I sent to a paid editor. I wrote about that experience here. Definitely has legs, and I need to work a final version. Would definitely be in a collection. This one taught me how hard it is to write a great short story. It was like overworking the dough, the whole thing began to crumble in my hands as I played with it. Still, I have the sneaking suspicion one day I will find myself in the perfect spot to finish it. Again, I am reminded thinking of this one, that my problem is letting of the bad parts in the story, the stuff that doesn’t work.

The Case of Bill Mimic-Fiction, 4k words, interesting story Kafka-like, basic premise what if a person had a condition where they lost their unique personality and merely mimicked whoever they came into contact with. Don’t remember if I pulled this one off, but think I need to go back and reread. Candidate for the collection.

Rich’s Autoland-2,850 word, a brief sojourn into a realist Fiction vibe. Story follows a newspaper writer working on a story about the National Wresting Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Ia, and a champion boy wrestler whose the focus of the story. That is the back drop, it takes a surrealist bent in the end, something I of course really like. It’s like I just couldn’t play it straight and had to let it out in the end…Don’t know the viability of this as a story, but definitely some potential.

3 Ways-7k words, Science Fiction, another one that could be expanded or chopped. Basic premise, in the future sex is highly regulated, you have to get a ticket. There are only three way to get it, everyone is given one to begin with, they can be bought (no one can afford them), or they can be given, and that’s it. Story focuses in on one man as he wrestles with this system. Strong story, definitely worth urther development.

Conclusion-

This was a great time splashing around in the slush pile. Though I have to admit it does leave an unpleasant after taste, and maybe a little gunk between your toes. Writing is an easy task for me, finishing writing is something else all together. I have to admit a sense of confusion when I look at my slush pile. So many half baked schemes, just sitting there, if I let my mind wander I could start feeling it was a waste, a byproduct of a desperate attempt for attention, and self realization. But I don’t do that.

Tomorrow, come heaven, hell, and high water, I will wake up and try to put up a thousand words, and add another layer to my slush pile. And I’ll tell you why, the secret if you will, it’s not because I don’t care whether it is good or not, or whether I will succumb to crippling debt, and my children will starve in the streets or not, no it is none of those earthly concerns, it is for the greater, heavenly concern, the desire to be great, to be great at creation…creation of what you could ask…a story for another time, I’d advise. Thanks for taking a dip with me. I would love to hear what in that mess sparks your interest. And I hope you stay paddling on top of the slush pile.

What Is Going On?!?! (Interludes Prologue)

I had a very strange experience, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to write about it here, but I do. I anthropomorphized “The Muse” in previous posts. I did that as an intellectual tool, a thought experiment. For me to have written about the concept at all demonstrates how much time I had already given to it. You can imagine my frustration, when after the idea was out there, I did not get the usual relief I do in these situations.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg

Instead, the whole thing of an anthropomorphized muse stuck with me. Anytime I had a free interior minute, like washing the dishes or before bed, I would find myself drifting towards the thought of the Muse, as a full fledged, living person.

Here is how the thoughts sort of went. What is really behind being in that artistic zone? How does the artist just turn over to this other force and have it produce such intelligent, cohesive products? If it is some sort of a power of the subconscious (thinking something like Jungian psychology), then how do we make sense of it being more creatively intelligent and complicated then our regular modes of thinking?

But further my mind would snap, and here is where the fissure starts, because I can almost hear a voice, her voice to be exact. Who says you have anything to do with it? So bold, right there, right smack between my eyes. The language and orientation seemed so strange. Why would I say such things to myself?

She always seems to have an answer, and be tired of my shit. She is also sick of me taking credit for her ideas, and wants her share of recognition and goodies. Now I know this sounds like I am losing my mind, but this is what happened. So I found myself down in the office this morning about to write. Now I have been writing somewhat seriously now for at least four years, and though I have days were it might have take longer to get going, I can always get the job done.

In other words, I had never known writer’s block. It also is important to note that I was in a fairly positive frame of mind, breakfast, coffee, free time, etc., but right as I hit my seat and started the computer a dreadfulness bombarded me. It was so strong and disorienting that I jumped up out of my chair, and in a panicked spastic response I flung my arms wildly around the room.

I was overwhelmed with paranoia. It was in there deep. I wanted to dig it out of myself somehow. I heard my kids playing upstairs. My wife was telling my oldest son that she just needed to finish the dishes and then they would all go outside. The normalcy of the moment snapped me out of it and I sat back down, but my hands were still shaking and I was so scared.

I opened up my work in progress and read the last sentence I wrote. There were a number of grammatical errors, which I tinkered with for a second. Somewhat disinterested, I went to write the new words and again a feeling of death and dread, and magnanimity overwhelmed. I felt stomach sick. I closed my eyes and laid my head on the desk.

An unending stream of existential crisis tore through me. What was I doing writing anyway? What did I have to say? I was a nothing and a nobody and just a loser like everybody else. There was nothing great in me. Compared to those before me, I am an inexperienced moron. All this obsession with art was so much inconsequential madness. It was sickening and shameful. A danger, to myself and others. I was a coward who had hide and ran and taken the path of least resistance and I would continue to be that, forever. It was over for me.

How can I describe the sensation of feeling that your thoughts are not you’re own? It’s like a person entering the room and beginning to talk to you, not quite yelling, but loud enough that you cannot ignore it. It’s an alien voice too, almost like reading words on a page, you have to sort of interpret character, inflection and tone.

It isn’t good at bluffing or bullshitting. It is just like the wind; it blows or it doesn’t.

The wind was blowing hard through my head. It was almost like drowning, but the nonstop stream of ideas filled the deadly world. I probably laid there for twenty minutes in this state before I popped out of my seat again, panicked. I was asthmatic too. I couldn’t get a deep enough breathe. The feeling of sharing the room with someone came back hard now. So hard that I grabbed my wallet and went running out the house, terrified that some physical or even metaphysical brain “popping” was about to occur.

It was a godawful hot humid day, and the heat and bright light just smashed me in the face. It was like I had ran right into a yellowish sweat bubble. The wet sickness pushed through my eyes balls and down into my guts. I could feel my morning breakfast gurgling there.

I should have gone inside and laid down, but I was too scared to go back into my house. I started walking. Everything wa cartoonish, blocky, almost lego-y. I began to hear what sounded like a choir singing, but I couldn’t find the source. I walked for a while until I came to a gas station. I stood outside, pacing, totally out of my mind. I was so worked up, angry and for what appeared to be nothing. I felt stupid about leaving the house like that, and I was sure my wife was wondering where the hell I went.

A woman pulled up in a white Nissan. I saw that it was an older woman, heavy set, and in business attire. We made eye contact for a second and I looked away. But as she walked passed, I looked back and now the woman was young, slim and shiny blond hair ran down seventies style lime green dress, which fit her perfectly. So weirded out, I walked around the building but was stopped by three youths. Two boys were on their bikes, and one little girl was standing on the curb, watching the others riding circles in the parking lot.

As I went passed them the little girl began to talk to me. “Oh professor ass dude, weirdo, lame type predator.” I couldn’t believe what was I was hearing. “Pussy,” she said. I turned around and they were all lined up staring at me. I felt like I should say something, but they were all smiling and what could I say? The oldest couldn’t have been nine, and the girl was no more than five. I couldn’t believe something like that coming from such a young child, but the way they were smiling told me they thought it was real funny.

I stared at them for a second so dumbfounded and weirded out that finally I just turned and walked away. As I got to the edge of the parking lot I looked back for them and they were gone. I kept walking, wading through this lingering dread. I walked until I came to a Dollar General. I had the urge to buy some candles, some candy, maybe even some flowers. I walked through the aisles and every person I went passed had some negative words for me. Vulgar, high school type trash. Pencil Dick. Faggot. Cocksucker. A Grandma in a red hat called me a cunt.

I got my chocolate bars and candles and headed for the checkout line, which was packed with people. I waited for an eternity. The whole time this voice in my head just kept going and going, like standing under a waterfall.

I couldn’t imagine another world existing outside of the pounding, pulsating, internal voice which was just having a freak out, in perfect, controlled, monotoned persistence. You suck you know that, you really suck. You sucks eggs. You suck dicks. You can suck a golf ball through a garden a hose. A carburetor out an engine block. You’re like black hole level suck. Bending matter to your empty black suck. Abortion vacuum suck…

I watched the checkout lady as the line crept. She was an older woman, late forties, early fifties. She had thinning hair and the look of a smoker. She had an air of a look of dignity though too, as she rang everyone’s crap up. Something told me she had some other career experience, like a horse trainer or something. But that was before, when she had something she loved, but that didn’t work out. She took this job out of necessity.

I finally made it to her, but right before, a viscous, emergency type, stomach pain kick in. I leaned against the counter and tried to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, my things were being rang up and a voice broke into my head. “3.33, Sir.” I struggled for my wallet and when I brought it back up and looked the cashier in the face she had changed. It was the beautiful woman who was outside the gas station, but now she was in the Dollar General uniform. For the first time, I got a look at her face.

I love and am ever faithful to my wife, so I feel bad writing this, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Normally I am a burnet man, but her ocean waves of shimmering blond hair and lightening green eyes left me floored and overwhelmed with lust. It was her smell too! It was like cool wind on a warm day, through a lavender field, mixed with the earthy scent of woman.

She smiled and said, “3.33, you sick bastard!” As if she read my dirty mind. She said the last words full of both sexuality and insult. I dropped my wallet and banged my head on the counter as I went to grab it. I was full of apologies, even though she had just insulted me. All flustered and blushing, I opened my wallet and there was nothing in there! I was a ramble of sorries and she just kept smiling at me.

“You’re fucking great,” she said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on you Austin. You’re a screamer, aren’t you? I can always sense a screamer. Hemingway never broke; I hated that. You don’t have a fiver on ya? You broke, chubby, son-of-a-bitch. Take the candy asshole, consider it a last meal. Fucking candles.”

You know the phrase deer in the head lights? Now I literally know what that feels like. It was like a decked out, glossy Escalade appeared from the ether and was going to plow right through me. The sick, twisted thing is as I basked in her presence I was still aroused, seduced even by her destructive forces. For some (possibly profound) reason I began to think about the blank page back at home, and how I needed to be doing my words.

The whole word froze and the lights went dim. The store began to shake and drywall began to sift from the ceiling. I looked at the folks behind me, all lined up and waiting to pay for their stuff. They were now statues. Their still shoulders collected the falling dust.

I looked back at the new woman. She was frozen too, smiling like the sun. I had the most awesome realization. This was the Muse!!! Right in front of me. I could hear this indecipherable, yet oddly familiar hum emanating from her. Think it clicked in my head, I had heard this same effect, sometimes deep in the writing zone, when the words were just gushing out beyond my control.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg

This was the source of that hum and she was standing right before me. I had the strange thought to try to capture her, bottle her up somehow and hide her back in my house. There was a loud boom of thunder in the store and a web of lightening broke out across the ceiling. With another boom, a giant appeared behind her in the next aisle.

The first thought that came to mind was Gandalf, because of his long white hair and robes, but the man was black, like deep of night black, so black that it was hard to even make out any features on his face, and he was a giant. I’m guessing probably twelve or thirteen feet tall, at least; his head almost touched the ceiling.

He stood there arms crossed for an awful minute. A chrome scepter, capped with a flashing diamond, was clinched in his left hand, and poised to obliterate me with one smack. Thankfully, there were no words passed between us. He just stood there, staring. Then I passed out.

I woke up back in my chair, a small Dollar General store bag with the candles and candy in it on the desk. It was like waking up from a nightmare. I felt so disoriented and insane. Worst of all, I looked up at the screen and all that you have been reading was already up there. As I reread it, memories of the whole experience came flooding back.

I think I might have gone insane. I need to talk to my wife about this, but I don’t know what she’ll say. Has anyone had an experience with this? Please share with me if you have. Thanks for reading. She exists!

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Next Chapter

On Father’s Day 

Perfect night to perfect day. Seventies, clear, clouds like warships marching through the sky. Dad came out, went in on a rant about the curse of the family name, showed a big gash in his head, which he got after a pack of unconscientious gals at the coffee shop got him all riled up and he bumped his head on his car getting in. I don’t like when he says that, that we got bad luck, bad mojo, seems a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. 

Why can’t our genes be associated with victory, success, fortune? I smiled though and listen, even joke in a similar vain, accounting my own similar and recent bad luck, AC went out on Honda, needed new rooters and breaks on the truck. There’s no point, and its negative to fight it. Instead I hijack the genes on my own time, the story in my own mind. We have to accept the darker undertones of the tale, a bastard’s journey to kingship, return of the prodigal son. But what does Promise Land look like? I’ve been forced to consider. 

There’s irony in my Dad’s dark outlook, it’s the other side of over confidence. He was always pretty successful socially, friends, girlfriends. In his high school senior picture he looks like Super Man, Christopher Reeves incarnation. Tall, handsome, full head of hair, stylish white bell bottoms. The caption says he’s helping a younger student. He was class President, Captain of the football team, scholarship offers for wrestling. He idealized those times. His Mom and Dad divorced his senior year. I think this is what got him. Grandpa went a little wild, was an alcoholic. I’m convinced Grandma Gene,  Grandpa Pete’s mom, was a witch, a good one. She made little piles of rocks all through out her yard, stacked up at night under the moon and stars. I feel her in me when I stand in the field at dusk; we are happy, at home. 

Britney cooked huge steaks and veggie packs on the grill. Ran a notable grill, orangey grey charcoal stack. Grandpa played ring-leader with the gang. They teased and provoked, debating how the water balloons would be dished out after lunch. I feel and realize my clone like nature watching it all. How we are the same just slight variations in time and space, even my wife, and how we put up facade of separateness, but it doesn’t mean anything. My Mom had a falling out with her Mom, didn’t talk for years. But I realized later they probably thought about each other more cause of that, obsessively and neurotically probably. 

After lunch we had the water ballon fight and then jumped my rider mower, my Father’s Day miracle. I thought it was done, but we pushed it to my Dad’s car while the boys took turn steering. I could tell the old man had the itch to mow, he’s recently moved from his big yard, but he let me have at it, and went inside with the boys.

I checked in on them later, sat there in a row yucking it up and playing video games. There’s something here that transcends the tawdry, and cheap word “love”, but that’s what it is. It makes my cells ache, yearning to make it permanent, imprint it on the over-soul for eternity. But true success is only when you let go, praise and love, but don’t grasp. I finished my mowing. The farm is looking great. I’m happy like kid. Blessed on a perfect day, so lucky. 

Perfect Night in Des Moines 


Source
It was a perfect night tonight. The heat broke, has been ninety plus for almost two weeks. Won’t really rain, just spit. Left our little Eden and went to the big city Des Moines, for dinner with wife’s coworkers. There are those nights, summer nights, where everything thing seems clean, shiny, put together. Des Moines is quintessential fly-over country and I hope it stays that way for ever. I truly hesitate to even brag about it publicly, so as not to alert the unwashed masses of its awesomeness. One of the main reasons is per-capita, pound to pound, Des Moines is actually a world class food city. It fertile lands and deep agricultural roots, along with its geographic centerness has brought many influences and culturals to bare. 

This agricultural industry have created stronger economic health. This and things like the caucuses have made Iowa oddly relevant at times. I think Iowa, and probably that whole region is like the United States’ shire. There’s a good mix of political and ideological left and rightness, which at the current time and day strikes a unique and important balance. People are generally friendly, respectful, and none portentous, excluding the author, of course.

I like my wife’s gang at work. Their ornery and silly, and I’m sure they’ve banded together in the trenches of the modern health care system; these people have seen some shit. We ate at Bubbas downtown. They serve quality Southern style dishes, fried chicken and waffles, chicken fried steak, white cheddar grits, home jams, corn breads, mac and cheese, red beans and rice. They have an extensive booze selection. I had a Bubba julep, bourbon and mint and something called a Porch Sipper which was delicious, think it was bourbon, but had cucumbers, basil, mints and something sour in it. We shared and laughed. The server was charming and informative. Bubbas has a classy old school lounge and bar. And you know what, it shares a sizable class. Hell, right next store is a French-influenced restraunt Django, which look qaulity as well. There are more delicious and interesting things to eat in Des Moines then I can even try to get too. 

Driving around admiring the city, the patios were packed with people, smiling, with their friends, enjoying their Saturday night. Hope. Potential. Food is so much more than just a basic need. I was ranting about this to Brit after I came in from farm chores last night. How I didn’t want to be in Nature, but Of Nature. Part of it, not an explorer penetrating it, controlling it. How I feel a symbiotic relationship with my plants, wedding and watering them, how I nourish them and they nourish me, and how kids and families were like this; you nourish them, they nourish you. Talked about this video I saw about kids in India pulling a giant python out of the river for fun, playing with it, and how we still jump at garter snakes. How it’s better to relax about bugs and critters. Accept the swarm around you, pulsating with life. 

We got home and the skies took to play. Summer storms yearning to rain, but empty, dry. The lightening in the distance, striking a portrait at will. Chay comes to get me from bed, says the grey lights out his open window are freaking him out. Light slices the canvas, highlighting bulking, thickly painted clouds. An ocean of fireflies undulate in front yard of the house, dancing in the electric atmosphere. Fireflies. Never knew there could be so many fireflies….

On Trump and His Detractors (sorry for the cursing Grandma) 

Political Brainwashing

Let me preface my comments by noting I remain a resolute member of the No-Vote party. I didn’t vote Trump, and wouldn’t vote for Trump if an election was tomorrow. Although, I must admit the Anti-Trump hysteria has almost changed that. Point is that these comments come from the periphery. I would like to start with the Trump detractors. I woke up this mornings to the news about the shooting on Capitol Hill. I wish I could say this came as a shock, but it didn’t. The amount of anti-Trump propaganda that has been spewed out on every mainstream news channel and platform is insane. They went from never criticizing their darling Obama (his first term got my last vote) to an endless stream of ridicule and hate directed towards Trump. They ignored record drone attacks, ignored continued and expanded wars in the Middle East, ignored the lack of focus on real issues faced by the country, like the outrageous levels of violence in Chicago, the Flint water crisis, etc. 

Granted, Obama didn’t start an illegal war which led to a million dead Iraqis, and for that I will admit at the end of his presidency, I would say he did an all-right job. All that said, to make the point, I am non-partisan. No, more than that, I’m anti-partisan….nah, no point in that, fuck that academic mindset. Let me cut the cheddar, get to the point. Anti-Trump detractors should be fucking ashamed! They are the most gullible, pack of useful idiots the world has ever seen. They went and backed a degenerate career politician, whose hands were drenched in Libyan and Haitian blood, who backed and stood by her sexual predator husband, who violated countless laws. What difference does it make? You scream in your shrill social justice warrior voice. The difference is that’s what got Trump elected. This is your fault Democrats, for being so sheepish, so easily manipulated, so uninformed, y’all made Trump.

And instead of taking your licks and cleaning up your act, you all now attempt to undermine the legitimacy and authority of this President. My younger tortured self would have taken a sick pleasure in that, just crabs in a bucket, but my more mature parental self is shocked and disgusted.

Everything you hate in Trump is more pronounced and obvious in the candidate you would have chosen. Hate him cause he’s rich? First off it’s disgustingly envious, but moreover, Clinton is rich as all hell, and made her money through cronyism, and playing politics. Claims he’s anti-Muslim? Clinton supported policies and wars which wrecked and murdered innocent Muslims and their more moderate countries. Says he’s anti-women? Clinton got child rapist Thomas Taylor a deal, protected her predator husband, and demonized his female victims. Moreover, any true feminist would be disgusted by the fact Clinton tried to use her gender as a reason as to why she should be elected (or not) instead of the validity and strength of her positions. 

But that’s my point, it’s not about Truth, it’s about how Trump makes you feel. About how the propaganda makes you feel. It’s mind control. No, I know, you’re way to clever for that. Right. Bottom line, y’all are all fucked up. And if you continue to back corrupted lifer politicians, you will keep losing. You can’t imagine my elation that Wednesday when I woke and saw that monster had lost. It was a sign that there was still some moral backbone in this country. That yeah we were fucked, but we weren’t that fucked. And none of y’all stopped to seriously consider the rigged polls, the propaganda, no, you just kept right on mindlessly talking your shit. The Russia shit, the racist shit, the misogynistic shit, and it’s done nothing! Besides polarizing the country and making you all look like a bunch of sore loser babies. 

On Trump. Dude is in way over his head. He imagined that he would have the backing of the establishment once he was elected. The truth is the powers that be, as usual, were playing both sides. Ether candidate would have brought their future to fruition. Their goal is to destroy this country. Why? Profit and power. And y’all are played like a fiddle, like the fucking boobies that you are. You sit around, middle sections growing thick, brain growing thin, and like monkeys in the zoo hurl your shit. That what’s Trump needs to understand. It’s beyond reason. He gets that, I might be switching parties. 

Get Out of the Yellow Submarine 

Jordan Peele Writer/Director of Get Out

Woke up my peepers was broke. The Voodoo got me; I spected it would. I tried to keep it off, set up Stoney Blue Heart, remembered the Two Prayers.

Borrowed Jason Peele’s Get Out from my brother. He told me he couldn’t wait to hear what I had to say about it. I shook my head, told him it wasn’t good, already had the intel this was an active program. Knew it must  have  gotten to me, when I woke up with reader eye, which is like when you try to see one of those hidden 3D pictures, but  instead you get an involuntary vague grey outline of the thing, that kicks my focus out of whack. 

But here I am, still typing out the blurry words. I decided to take a minute for Art, watch the Beatles Yellow Submarine. Hopefully to wash off the joo-joo off from the nite before. It starts with the song in the main credits. It’s in another language, haunting words; I looked it up, found this interesting explanation: 

One of the many things from Get Out that will stay with you is the music. Donald Glover’s “Redbone” is played, and there’s a creepy sequence with “Run Rabbit Run” by Flanagan and Allen, but the song that I can’t get out of my head is actually part of the film’s original score. It plays during the main credits and at the end of the film, and it’s called “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga.” 

Writer/director Jordan Peele talked about the song in a recent interview with GQ:
“It’s Swahili, actually. It’s such a cool track. I was into this idea of distinctly black voices and black musical references, so it’s got some African influences, and some bluesy things going on, but in a scary way, which you never really hear. African-American music tends to have, at the very least, a glimmer of hope to it — sometimes full-fledged hope. I wanted Michael Abels, who did the score, to create something that felt like it lived in this absence of hope but still had [black roots]. And I said to him, ‘You have to avoid voodoo sounds, too.’

The words are issuing a warning to Chris. The whole idea of the movie is ‘Get out!’ — it’s what we’re screaming at the character on-screen. They go, ‘Brother, brother,’ in English, and then something to the effect of, ‘Watch your back. Something’s coming, and it ain’t good.'”  Source

“Have to avoid voodoo sounds too” Thats the kicker, isn’t it? Hate to break it to Peele, ah never mind. I know he gets it. Get Out is about doubling, two. Watch it with that in mind. How many times two things, or its multiple, is given focus. And the pillars, Joachim and Boaz, two, how they frame each stage and development of the film. Movies and life are all about what’s going on in the empty space, the background. How things are arraigned and presented. 

Get Out is about mind control and is mind control. Doubling, subject and object, these are processes which take place between the film and the audience as well. There are shots from the characters point of view, which subconsciously encourage us to see things from their perspective. Sorry my eyes are blurring, need a minute of the Fab Four. 

I look at all the lonely people… Trauma is the first step in mind control. Ignite the fight or flights response, distort the higher function, cut off escape, offer alternative cessation of discomfort, put the tea on. There’s this critical scene in all horror movies, the sort of we’re not in Kansas anymore moment, where the rabbit realizes they’ve been caught in the trap. It’s actually a moment of relief for the audience. It’s a breather before the big show. In Get Out this moment occurs when he tries to leave and is stuffed in the basement, with the old TV! 

Would you believe me if I told you I was being followed by a yellow submarine? I wouldn’t. 

I can’t even properly explain Get Out. It’s a program, a racial division program. I’m gonna do some research on writers and background of the film. Also, I will do more research on other people’s response to it. I bet you will find an interesting difference, in different races response to it. Obviously. I think most white people will express horror and surprise and black people will be less surprised, and more, shall I say cautious/conscientious? towards it. Everyone should be taking a deep seat in the existential sweat lodge. So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late…


Snippets 104 

Gipsy Fortune Teller
Houdini-Gresham 

Washington, D.C., the nation’s most beautiful city, heart of the democracy, hub of the forty-eight states was in 1926 also the city most infested with palm readers, astrologers, message mediums, slate writers, crystal workers, and “rag head rackets” generally. In the shabbier residential neighborhoods their shingles, showing an upraised palm, were thick; sometimes almost every brownstone house to the block had its prognostication parlor. (264) 

Snippets 103 


Source

Houdini-Gresham 

Vaudeville tempo had changed mightily during the time Houdini was away, selling Liberty Bonds and making motion pictures. The country seemed to be marching to Georgie Cohan’s “Over There.” Autos were faster and roads were better for them to be faster on. Pioneer Station KDKA in Pittsburgh had begun daily broadcasts and America was in the grip of a new mania soon to replace the Ouija board–sitting crouched over crystal sets with earphones clamped to its ears. The big build-it-yourself radio boom was just around the next corner. And to a generation that had gone through the First World War, the sight of a man jumping of a bridge and getting out of handcuffs under water created no hysteria. (227) 

More to the Moon 

La Lune (major arcana)

Full moon out my window. It’s glowing, it’s edge losing its distinction, vibrating with its stolen luminosity. A perfect movie moon. A moon that ninjas would jump across. Cloud and space create a three dimensional backdrop. A stage. For who or what we cannot be sure. We are just the audience. In the nose-bleed seats, but the house is packed. The stories sent to the heart, works up the throat into the mouth, closes the eyes, and dances in the frontal lobe. When it’s full it will grant you wishes, your heart’s desire. But always be careful, things have a funny way of turning out. The waves pass, a vessel in the sea, a light house in the distance. 

Ode to the Moon 

Offering of Fruits To The Moon Goddess

I’ve been praying to the moon for the last few nights, watching it as I do my farmer chores. I love seeing the moon out in the day, the light. The relationship of the sun and the moon, the cosmic evidence of yin-yang. How they penetrate and define each other. The moon glows with the sun’s light. The moon stands sentient while the sun does its dance with the earth. How duller would the earth be without that transforming phantom holding court above us, urging us on. And it does urge. The wild life surges with activity as the light causes the moon to glow. A planetary lantern. This heavenly glow that keeps time in slices. I can’t get through the full prayer looking at it, I have to avert my attention, with a sort of shame. Praying like that like meditation, much harder than it should be. How long can you stare at the moon and say thank you? 

Tell me I’m wrong…please. 

Paging Dr. Freud

Britney and I were discussing a book last night, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, before bed. I emphasized how the whole thing connects to my critique of the “Academic Mindset”, aka smart-stupid people, aka intelligence without wisdom. Basically how we’re all psychos, all insane. And really, what’s up with all these waked out psych-spooks “experiments” like Oak Ridge, or the Stanford Prison Experiments, and don’t they prove the real aim of modern Psychiatry is social control, mind control. The way psychotropic medicines were just rolled out and mass assimilated is alarming, no terrifying. But the even deeper fear that creeps in, and that I brought out through The Fall by Camus, is how it all showed that the academic mindset is unavoidable, and inextricable, that we were manifesting the mindset in the conversation itself. The fact that by the process of becoming intelligent and informed you actually move away from the truth. It’s unsettling. Brit says it’s ruined her career in health-care. The whole mess of healthcare just being full of this sort of madness, and her developing inability to shut off the critique monster; I fear I have infected her.  

I think why Psychopathy is so hard to define is we don’t want to include a moral, or spiritual element to it. With Progressivism we’ve been taught it’s unsophisticated and inhumane to see those with mental illness as morally/socially inferior. A complicated thought for sure, one most usually tossed out in a Freshman level history class, usually with gruesome detail about the barbarism of the past, Nazis, Plague carts and the Asylum, but pretty important in the larger present social sphere I’d say. There’s a logic to the insanity plea, hard for me to describe in the current stream, but basically it’s that if a person doesn’t have intent to do something, then it’s less criminally egregious, which beneficially gives us degrees of penalties. This is the basis for alternative treatment and judgement of minors in the judicial system. It brings with it though, as we see in our modern world a number of issues. There’s a inherent problem at the center of the US mental health and criminal justice system, which is as Progressive policies are further engrained and developed, the prison population and diagnosed population continue to rise, at an alarming rate. This means we always have to build new facilities and new monitoring techniques to keeps tabs on everybody. More importantly you are normalizing insane behavior, which I would speculate leads to evil people using mental illness as a cloak to hide/justify the issue. There is a Christ-like absolution of all sins offered by psychiatry, as long as you submit to the Priest class and take your wafers quietly. Tell me I’m wrong…please. 

Doctrine of the Two Swords 
Found this while looking for cool Christ Art. Oddly relevant as always. From Wikipedia: 

According to the doctrine, God rules the worldly or left-hand kingdom through secular (and, though this point is often misunderstood, also churchly[citation needed]) government, by means of law [i.e., the sword or compulsion]) and in the heavenly or right-hand kingdom (his spiritual kingdom, that is, Christians insofar as they are a new creation who spontaneously and voluntarily obey) through the gospel or grace.

Rowing in the Abyss 


Adam and Eve by Rembrandt 

The Fall by Albert Camus, sort of got to me. I just recently finished his other book The Plague. That book was definitely a psychological and spiritual blow, but a cold hard headed ignorance got me through that. 

Then I finished the Houdini biography by Graham, and I really enjoyed that, but upon reflection the loss of Houdini is sad too. He was sucker punched by an eager youth, then in gentlemanly fashion he offered a second shot to get the bit right. This set off an extreme and deadly case of appendicitis. In psycho mythological mastery he refused to cancel a sold out show in Detroit. He had to be propped up at different points, but ultimately gets the job done and dies. 
The Fall is a quick read, told in a accessible memoir, stream of consciousness voice. There’s a lawyer speaking, analyzing his life, and the modes of thought that he’s used, interpreting his different behavior and relationships. And the world, and morality itself. Heaven and hell, and all that. And what’s the fucking point of all this? Fucking. The emphatic tells the truth. Procreation is the point, building, creating, smashing, forming. The old adage, you can’t make an omelette without cracking some eggs comes to mind. To put it it mildly the voice of The Fall is challenging. At one point it advocates the value of slavery. For the reason as I recall of mutual definition, without slaves there can’t be Masters. A seemingly abhorrent truth, until we change the lens and the verbiage. Parents are Masters, of sorts, of their children. And the “destruction of the family” has become passé, yet potent, political jargon, so there is some perceived threat in that arena, namely divorce right? Point being, however deranged some of these characters my seem in the fiction, they are a hell of a lot closer to “reality” then the average hello at the grocery store or bar displays.

Morality is an icky word in our culture, and overused one. A lot of energy and resource is spent in fueling and manifesting real and imagined moral outrage. And even in our entertainment and Art morality, often inverted, is the primary engine. Maybe that’s part of the tricky move of morality, this doubling, tripling of persons, and types. We like to project ourselves on to fictional characters, and external situations, but then absolve ourselves individually under whatever particular moral/ideological system we adhere too and manifest. Do whatever and baby Jesus in Heaven forgives all, is what I have encountered most often. 
I’m a reader though, between the lines type reader. Sometimes even a one at time type reader. I know old Baby Jesus said in Matthew, “Don’t think I’m bringing peace to the earth. Forgot peace, I’m bringing the sword!” Not for you though, or me, not good people like us. You see that there, how the voice and mood are assimilated. This is the danger of reading. You think you control the words one by one as they pour in, and that you can set them down, dim them, and they go away, but they don’t. 
They’re there, at the checkout line, later over roasted chicken and mixed vegetables, then with you as you lay in bed with your wife. They wait their turn patiently to offer their often gruesome two cents. Jean-Baptiste Clamence and Humpert Humpert take turns critiquing the television programming. Jesus sits in the backseat as you eye the beggar on corner. They can all be encouraged or silenced to your abilities, but lose not the fear of forgotten voices. Single words or phrases can echo for a lifetime. “Perfunctory” a word my first love pulled from a Nicholas Sparks novel, said to perfectly describe our current love life,  “Phony and corny” mirrored psychopathology voiced by Holden Caulfield, “Man is born free, but everywhere in chains” an obscure quote from philosopher Rousseau that has been lodged in my mind since I was thirteen years old; you get the picture.