28 February 2007

Well, He's Terribly Mysterious...

Kudos to anyone who knows where the title comes from :)

Human action (or inaction) is something of a mystery to me... well, not so much a mystery, as I do understand the human condition to be rather simplistic sometimes, but calling us a mystery makes me feel a little better about it. In my many guises as seller of junk, writer, student, etc, I do have more opportunity to observe said human condition than most. Further, I have worked as a customer service representative, recruiter and waiter, so the tragedy and comedy of humanity has worked its magic before me in far, far too many ways.

Now, I do not consider myself too mysterious, or terribly mysterious for that matter, but compared to fellow humans I wonder, especially when witnessing their behavior in my soon to be 34 years of existence (granted, I doubt I was doing too much observing the first 10 or so, but...). I wonder if I am the mystery to them and not the other way around? To many who grace the entries of this blog, probably not so much, as many like-minded individuals do pay a visit. Probably just as well. While I like a lively discussion at times, all out flame wars leave everyone angry, or peeved at the least. Clearly, someone must wonder, I have a point somewhere. Usually I do, and mostly it is simple how amazed I am (though I should not be) at behavior in common situations, situations one would expect demand a little courtesy and civility. I admit, I can get ruffled at times, especially at those who have no good reason for doing the things they do (like utilities, phone companies, bureaucracy), but I do try to be as civil as possible. Otherwise, it simply causes us more grief than necessary. When others do such things, that is when the questions of mystery arise and make me wonder on what planed I have been marooned... then I realize the sad truth... blast.

A few days ago, I was in a local comic shop and having a typical gaming conversation, when a fellow started ranting to them about computer issues based on bumper stickers (PC supporters vs. Mac supporters... me I hardly care either side of the debate and is mostly irrelevant to the discussion). The conversation seemed fine, with neither side giving too much, and I added a comment or two about how both have their merits. The discussion abated, but the accuser uttered an f-bomb in the conversation when none was necessary. I understand the need to emphasize a point, but to me it seemed a little uncivil in a retail situation, even if it is in a comic shop, where sensibilities tend to soften some. No one acted offended, though unless I know the person across the table from me, it would be a rare thing for me to curse while selling my anime stuff. I am certainly not being a prude in this regard. I curse more than I should, though I feel being able to engage in conversation without resorting to such things is a lost art, and I often feel better the less I do curse. I will say, ten years ago, you would never hear 'damn' or 'shit' in a store, much less 'fuck'. (see, I can say 'fuck', even write 'fuck' too :) Well, maybe not ten, but certainly fifteen years ago. Either way, I suppose it is a personal thing mostly. But I am fine with being a little archaic now and then.

The second incident happened today, and involved a loud talker on a cell phone. I understand that Barnes and Noble is not a library of a sort, but people tend to talk softer in bookstores more often than not, especially in a reading area. Still, some shrill-voiced shrew decided she would discuss loudly the details of her day, her past day, who was in the hospital, how long she had been reading, and constantly reinforcing her lack of manners and grace. After a few moments, she submitted to mine and my fellow patrons caustic glares and shuffled off... loudly. I suppose it is the wireless culture, but I see more and more of this every day: courtesy being ignored for the convenience of blathering into a cell phone. In a culture of now, the cell phone is the biggest culprit in instant gratification at the expense of annoying the rest of us. When I am in a bookstore, I even turn my phone to vibrate or silent... most people I observed today let their phones ring as loud as possible. And I suppose I should not even rant about movie courtesy as well. Most of the time, people turn their phones off, though I recalled some people having a conversation on a phone when I was in Australia, just ignoring all of us in the theatre for their own enjoyment. In a world that is getting more crowded, our ideas of civility and courtesy seem to fade in the distance, as archaic as I feel sometimes.

So maybe I am the mysterious one, just not terribly mysterious :)


27 February 2007

Twilight's Curse

I had intended to write something more substantial, but I realised I am going to have a rather long post for my birthday (or couple of posts... I had meant to write something about courtesy, but I am letting that linger some, I think), so decided to add another older piece that I had thought forgotten. I came up with it while in Australia but never finished it until I got back to the States, mostly just editing of course. Really, I do not know who this is about, maybe someone or something evasive, just beyond my reach (it could certainly pass as a metaphor). Like I said in the prior post, sometimes I just write and let things sort themselves out later.

'Twilight's Curse'

She haunts me tho' I know her not,
Waiting in a realm unrevealed
Whilst this heart suffers
Between the shadows of day's fading might.

I see her in a so many waking dreams,
Calling me from the edge of dawn;
Yet we can never meet
'Twixt the glow of receding night.

We pass perhaps a thousand times,
Thoughts and souls meant for other days;
Whilst this mind regrets
Amid the caress of impending starlight.

She haunts me...
And still I do not wish to see,
For this heart cannot heal,
Occluded within the darkness and the light


25 February 2007

Toward the Broken Bay...

Some of you might be confused by the title, but it reference the entry and the poem, 'A Small Beach Outside of Sydney'. What follows is something that I have been meaning to write since I returned in 2004, but never really could I suppose... at least about that place and what it has meant to me most of my adult life. I have struggled with less meaningful poems about it, and one very nice work that handles what was lost very well, but nothing ever quite came to me about the simplicity of that time and how I thought I let it all go one evening in February 2004. To me, writing just happens, and when something is revealed to me, I write it (wow, sounds almost like how prophecy works :) If I really mull something over, it tends to sound and feel forced. So, today, I was thinking of age, as I am going to turn 34 on Thursday, and how far I have come and where I am going... the usual, I guess. Still, I simply sat down and wrote. For my part, it feels right. It is what I needed to say... so maybe it is an early birthday present to myself of a sort :)

'Toward the Broken Bay...'

Your gentle caress,
memory of what was forgotten
reborn in a breath, an instant
a glance...
Seeing once more.

Your tender smile,
hope of so many days
rekindled in sights, sounds
a scent...
Yearning amid the tides.

Your wondrous passion,
desire of too many nights
enveloped in emotion, a word
a kiss...
Feeling once again.

My life,
fragmenting for so long,
made manifest upon this shore
a place...
Reaching beyond the soul.

Our love,
Finally laid to rest.


23 February 2007

Everything I Know About Anime Conventions But Am Not Really Afraid To Tell You Since You Asked

Well, let us try this again... I love power surges in the middle of the night. Fun.

Anyway, I have had some requests (specifically from Phil, and questions from others) about things I do at anime shows or what they are like, so I figured I would let everyone know about the wonders of anime conventions. I figure I can say something about them since I have been to around 50 or so in the last 2 and a half years(including 4 cross-genre shows). And really, that has mostly been in the last 2 years and 2 months of this year... the first 6 months I only went to 2 shows. I have been to a couple already in the first months of this year, and have close to one a week starting the 22nd of March until sometime in July. It has certainly been a long strange ride... and now I hope to share some of the highlights (or lowlights depending on your view) with you fine folks from far and wide. And who knows, given the nature of these things, I might be in your town soon (though for my international friends, that is less likely considering costs and customs issues :)

I figured I would do this in list form since a) I love lists and b) it seems to be something of a signature of mine, sooo...

1) Age... it might surprise you: The average age of most anime fans is either 15-21 or 30-40ish... depending on when they started watching and their gender. Most of the younger fans tend to be girls. Many of the older fans tend to be guys. I leave the problems this can cause to your imagination.

2) Gender... it's not what you think: Gender-bending is terribly common in anime, and many, many fans dress up as alternate genders, more common for girls it seems, as they tend to dress more frequently as male characters than guys as female characters... thank goodness... All I can say is, the less 30 year old men dressing up in Sailor Moon outfits ('Sailor Man') the better... which brings me to...

3) Cosplay... it is what it sounds like: Dressing up as a favorite character is one of the reasons to go to the shows, aside from buying stuff from fine vendors like myself :) Indeed, more probably attend the cosplays than the dealers room. Cosplay is simply dressing up as a favorite character and doing it well. Or really badly, to make a point. Cosplay crosses gender and genre, as sci-fi and comic shows have their fair share of cosplay, though anime fans tend to do it best and have the most elaborate costumes... aside from the 501st legion, but I am partial to Stormtroopers/Clonetroopers.

4) Confunk... the smell that keeps on giving, and giving, etc...: Bathing is not a requirement at conventions (or in life apparently), but it should be. Please take a bath or a shower... while it will not deter me one iota from taking your money, it will make the experience more pleasant for both of us. This is another cross-genre issue as well, most prevalent at gaming conventions (though they deny it, but I know my benighted brethren too well), alas. And sadly, it is not always the guys, though they are the most common adherents to this practice. What it has caused me to do is become rather obsessive about being clean (not that I wasn't clean before) at these things, and wearing more cologne to block some of the smells.

5) Yaoi... or Yuri... or Hentai... ask and enjoy at your peril/pleasure: When I first found out I was confused, though I had actually seen a hentai years before I knew what the term meant. Once I found out, I remembered exactly what I had seen. Yaoi is boy/boy. Yuri is girl/girl... both genres tending to be written by women for women. Hentai is everything else, from standard methods of copulation to tentacles. What is also most common is Yaoi and Yuri doujinshi, which is Japanese fan art based on current anime characters in situations not ever (99% of the time) seen in the shows or manga. While this sounds like copyright infringement, it is actually considered a great honor in Japan to be made into a doujinshi of any kind. And yes, I sell the stuff, mostly Yaoi... but it sells well, really, really well.

6) Enthusiasm... catch it or it will most surely catch you: At most sci-fi/comic/gaming shows, most fans are rather sedate, but mix in a few thousand anime fans and even the most hardened dice slinger's facade will melt. It took a few shows to get to this hardened dice slinger, but I even succumbed to the rampant enthusiasm of anime fans. It is catching, truly. Most of them have the kind of energy to make you want to incredible things (no, not those things... perverts :) and still have time left over to discuss theirs favorite animes. Really, the best, nicest and most polite fans I have ever met have always been anime fans. They may smell a little funny at times, but they make up for it in their sheer love for anything at the show... even dealers who knock off a couple of bucks on product every now and then :)

7) Glomps... the by-product of enthusiasm: A glomp is a hug, if a hug was launched from a missile silo at point blank range. When done properly, it is quite fun and amusing. When not done properly, it, well... not so fun. Some tips about glomping I have learned: 1) make sure all parties involved can see you coming. A blindside glomp is no fun at all. 2) Glomping over the dealers table (one of the reasons I don't get many glomps) should be forbidden. It can break the glomper, the glompee, and the merchandise. 3) Size ratios should be considered. A person my size should not glomp very small people. It will not end well. The reverse is usually ok. I do have a bit of give to me :)

8) 24 hour video rooms... one of the reasons that confunk exists: Plus, you can go to Hentai/Yaoi/or Yuri Fest... I even sold glo-sticks at a Hentai Fest once (maybe they needed to see what they were doing... dunno). Still, 24 hour video rooms are a staple of conventions of all sorts, especially anime shows. And if you like going without sleep and watching 8 straight hours of Bleach, Naruto or Robotech, and then going to other con activities, then fine by me. It will make you all the more suggestive when I sell you that Naruto plush you've always wanted.

9) Plushes... I have them and everyone wants them, sometimes in three part harmony: You would be amazed to hear some of the squeals of delight I have heard when someone(or a series of someones) found out I had the latest plush/stuffed animal that they were so desiring, and at a reasonable price (and yes, all my prices are reasonable). Let us just say I have been witness to the kind of glee I thought normally reserved for other activities (and yes, that is what you are probably thinking... perverts :). My ears are still ringing from the last show.

10) Finally, fun... pure and simple for all involved, even us dealers... most of the time: Even though I go for the money, it is fun. I have made some great friends and had some wonderful conversations with the many people I meet at every show, and I see many of the same people at shows all over the country, especially the guests, artists and dealers (though some need to lighten up in my opinion. If they were half as nice as us, they might get more sales... but who am I to complain?). On the other hand, I have run into customers all over the country that travel to these shows for the same reason most people do... to have fun with like minded people. While I do have an ulterior motive, true, I do have a good time at these things overall, and it has been a great experience.

Well, I think this covers a good chunk of what I have learned and experienced at anime shows. It probably covers less than I would like, and I did not mention gaming much, as anime cons tend to not have as much gaming as other shows, though some of my best gaming experiences have been at anime cons, go figure. Still, this should be alright, and it is quite late.

'Til the next con,


22 February 2007


Not much of a post here I suppose, though I am planning on adding a post on conventions later tonight or tomorrow. I had been meaning to do that anyways, but thanks, Phil, for asking about it and setting me to thinking about such things.

Anyway, I had meant to write more about a word: the word in the title, 'solace'. I am not going to bore anyone with conventional definitions. That is not really my style. I know what it means to me when writing my various forms of poetry and other writings, know what it has meant, and likely what it will mean to me in the future. So, I ask a question of you, gentle readers, what does the word, 'solace', mean to you? I await your responses with interest and glee :)

Until I can organize my convention tips and notes,


20 February 2007

Transcendent Wanderings (with Johnny Cash and U2)

I know, odd title, but sometimes you give credit where credit is due. As I drifted into the dark of I-49 (and if you have traveled I-49 between Shreveport and Lafayette, LA at 2am you understand), the rest of my companions slept and the stillness of the night wrapped around me. For twenty minutes or so, it was just me, the road and the music (and some fog which always creeps around the edges of ones vision along this road). For those moments, I could feel the heartbeat of the universe, so to speak, set to the tune of a Johnny Cash cd. I will take a soundtrack like that any day.

Since I could not write about it while driving (or I doubt I would be able to update this entry), I more or less had to wait. I jotted down some ideas during the weekend, and finally finished a little something before I started to feel awful. I am not quite sure where I am going with this piece, only that I could not get it out of my head...

'Transcendent Wanderings (with Johnny Cash and U2)'
Lyrics and musics in italics from 'The Wanderer' by U2 (sung by Johnny Cash)

'Yeah I left with nothing
Nothing but the thought of you...'

An elusive instant beyond the veil
of midnights, tracing a course...
So many miles...
Agonies of memory past,
furtive hopes of futures calm
all but
Consumed in the thought of you.

We see...
though in ways and forms
removed of the quiet dark,
A path...
traversing, trembling
So many lives...
Reaching into the haze of
early 'morn
Buoyed in the thought of you.

Dawn grants empty respite,
my soul lost to
So many miles...
So many lives...
Consumed by the thought of you.

'I left with nothing,
But the thought you'd be there too
Looking for you...'

I went wandering
what seems so long ago,
time, place drifting as they do...
dreams of those worlds
Wrapped in this thought of you.

'I went wandering...'


The Sick Road Home

Well, I am back from Megacon mostly safe and sound, though I seem to have developed an unpleasant sinus infection, and exaberated it a little by unloading the trailer today. In any event, I plan to get caught up in the next couple of days with posts I was meaning to add but could not due to the limited high speed access I had (limited more by the lack of high speed even though that was the claim) and generally being busy over the weekend.

I do have a couple of posts I need to add, but those can keep until later since I actually took the time to write them down while on the road and did not lose them. Anyway, everyone take care and I will stop by as I can and as I feel better.


13 February 2007

Cycles Of Dreams And Other Apocalyptic Ramblings

This could or could not be my last post for a little bit, only because of the vagaries of hotels and whether they have wireless internet or not. Still, I am leaving for Orlando and Megacon tomorrow night, and will be on the road until Wednesday, and dealing the convention the rest of the weekend, so my blog contact might be more minimal than usual. I will do what I can, of course :)

I wanted to get something in before I left for Megacon, and I felt I simply needed to write, especially after some of my early morning dreams and strangely ethereal day (if that is the proper word for it). I sort of felt in a haze, maybe it was the damp weather, maybe shaking the effects of a continual waking dream, never knowing if I was awake or asleep. Worse, the subject matter was not exactly standard: allowing the end of the world, or an end to the world happen because I could, or at least that is how it seemed. Every time I fell back into the mists of this abbreviated slumber, I felt like important questions were posed, ones that I had to answer to avoid whatever fate I created. I knew I should have cared, but maybe a part of me realized the dream, or maybe it was more a metaphor than anything else, as dreams of such things often are.

What troubled me most was the loss of connection I felt... my loss of connection to the universe as a whole, the loss of understanding I have at times reached, and as many times rejected. Still, I could always feel the connection, lingering in the background, the echo to my soul reverberating across the void of time, space and life. I did not have it in the dream, severed beyond all repair. For the last few years at least, I had this fail safe. Last night (or more apt, this morning), I did not. It is that time of year I must admit, though. I feel the regression all too much at times, the memories welling in the dark of the subconscious. I see them again in the void of dreams, and perhaps they were waiting, the metaphor of the world I was ending. Of course, I could be a little paranoid, and just be reading into more than the simplest of things: a dream and nothing more.
I hate the feeling, though, and I had to let some of it go in words, or what I do understand, am connected with, could be hampered. Indeed, the release of the words to the page (er, screen) has eased the burden somewhat, restored some of that connection... or perhaps it is just placebo for a psychohypochondriac :)

But you will be happy to know that most of my friends were spared when I obliterated the world in my version of the apocalypse... I suppose that would include some blog friends too :)

Well, I should get some sleep... I will try not to wipe out the planet, or galaxy, or universe in my dreams.


11 February 2007

100 Films

I suppose the AFI can have their 100, so I get mine, admittedly biased. I guess it is not quite fair to the books, poems and songs, but this seemed a better cross-section, and since I have been seeing movies since before I could read (I understand that 'Jaws' was the first movie I was taken to in a theater... I don't remember... the first movie I remember is 'Star Wars' at age 4, which, by then, I had been reading for a year).

So, due to my love of films, and it is Oscar season and all that, I give you, my dedicated readers, 100 films that affected me in how I saw the world or in what I wanted to be... or I just liked them a lot, and while in a particular order, know that outside the top 10, the order could change at a whim :)

I will also try and keep the commentary on these to a minimum lest my post start resembling the prior short story posts :)

1) The Empire Strikes Back- I am not sure I need to explain this :) One of the main reasons I am still a sci-fi nerd.
2) Star Wars- Without it, I would have no #1.
3) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers- Ok, so I am a big fan of middle movies of trilogies
4) Almost Famous/Untitled- Something about this film always inspires me... and it was set in a very good year (1973). Oh, the director's cut (Untitled) is worthy though significantly longer.
5) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring- I should point out that when I mention the LOTR movies, I mean the extended versions :)
6) Glory- Such an amazing, stirring soundtrack... contrasting the stark realism of the film itself.
7) Last of the Mohicans- If ever a soundtrack made a movie light years better...
8) Return of the Jedi- Would be higher were it not for Ewoks.
9) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King- Would be higher if the movie did not feel like it was going to end 4 times in the last half hour.
10) Aliens- The best hard sci-fi movie ever... mmm... pulse rifles.
11) Raiders of the Lost Ark- Weren't the early 80's great?
12) Dances With Wolves- The cinematography really made the film come alive, aside from it also being amazingly good.
13) Unforgiven- 'Deserve ain't got nothin' to do with it.' -- As good a line, to me, as 'Go ahead, make my day'.
14) Ben-Hur- More epic than other films when epic was a going concern, but what really set the film apart was its acting, something a lot of epic films lacked at the time.
15) Letters From Iwo Jima- One of the best films I have seen in years, and such an amazing look at the hopelessness of war and the contrasting ideals of duty. While it will probably lose, to me, it deserves Best Picture this year.
16) Superman- There is only one Superman.
17) We Were Soldiers- Forget the Mel Gibson bias, this was simply an excellent film that told the stories of the soldiers involved in the Vietnam War with little bias on both sides.
18) Spartacus- What 'Gladiator' wanted to be... ok, that's not fair. 'Gladiator' was a great film in its own right, but 'Spartacus' was able to transcend the spate of films that imitated it, while 'Gladiator' had no real competition.
19) Full Metal Jacket- The first half, with the amazing R. Lee Ermy, was almost perfect... the second half, while good, was a little bit of a let down.
20) The Last Samurai- As much as it pains me to put anything up with Tom Cruise :) Thank goodness for Ken Watanabe.
21) Real Genius- Orbital lasers, nerds, liquid nitrogen, a house full of popcorn, no other cheesy 80's movie could top that :)
22) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan- I don't even need to say the line.
23) Schindler's List- I still get choked up every time I see it.
24) Batman- Jack Nicholson as the Joker, 'nuff said.
25) Excalibur- Merlin has the best lines...
26) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home- Kirk and Spock doing their best Laurel and Hardy it seems... just amazingly funny.
27) The Outlaw Josey Wales- A little dated, but one of Eastwood's best.
28) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade- Can't wait for 'Indy 4'.
29) The Untouchables- Speaking of Sean Connery.
30) Somewhere In Time- Ok, so I like sappy quasi-sci fi romances set in the early 1900's. But it stars Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour... how could that be bad? (and some music by Rachmaninoff)
31) The Fog of War- A documentary, true, but released in the theaters... about the life and regret of Robert S. McNamara. Highly recommended.
32) The Shootist- John Wayne's last film, but one of his best performances.
33) Dirty Harry- Ah, the vigilante cop craze... and the obsession in police forces with the .357 or .44 Magnum.
34) Braveheart- Might be higher if it had some sense of historical accuracy, and if I was still married (we used the music from the film in my wedding... yay.)
35) Clerks- The original and still the best, though the new one was pretty funny.
36) Field of Dreams- I still need to visit the cornfield in Iowa.
37) Robin and Marian- Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn... need I say more?
38) Alien- Scared me stupid when I was 6.
39) Ghostbusters- I probably watched this too much as a kid.
40) Poltergeist- Ibid.
41) The Cowboys- John Wayne at his best (would not say his prime, but certainly his best).
42) Hoosiers- We used to watch this before many a game to get inspired... sadly, we still lost a lot of the time.
43) Henry V- I sort of liked Kenneth Branagh's version better... so sue me.
44) Wizard of Oz- Many of the films above owe a lot to this film.
45) 2010: The Year We Make Contact- I liked this better than 2001... I also liked the book better than 2001.
46) 2001: A Space Odyssey- but not much better.
47) Caddyshack- Would be higher were I a golf fan... since I am not, it still is darn funny thanks to some great comedians in their prime.
48) Platoon- Well done... one of the few Oliver Stone films that does not feel like an Oliver Stone film.
49) A Bridge Too Far- A fantastic film, and had quite the cast at the time... Robert Redford, Anthony Hopkins, Sir Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, to name a few, plus directed by Richard Attenborough.
50) Eight Men Out- The reason Shoeless Joe goes to Iowa.
51) And the Band Played On- Another film with an excellent cast, about the early struggle and history of AIDS.
52) 300- when history and fantasy collide, fantasy always wins it seems :) but a great movie nonetheless.
53) Batman Begins- One of the most well-written superhero films I have seen.
54) Jurassic Park- Loved the book, but the dinosaurs weren't bad :)
55) A Time to Kill- Some intriguing questions about justice and vengeance in this film.
56) Thunderball- Still my favorite Bond film.
57) The Muppet Movie- A movie for lovers, dreamers and me :)
58) Outland- A lot of Sean Connery films on this list...
59) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- Johnny Depp is no Gene Wilder :)
60) The Ten Commandments- Were I more religious, this would be higher... but I'm not.
61) Borat: Make Benefit etc, etc,- Sascha Baron Cohen is a disgusting, revolting genius. I laughed my self silly.
62) Gladiator- It won a lot of Oscars in a thin year, nonetheless enjoyable, though.
63) Troy- I know, one of about 100 people that liked this, but I'm a fan of the period.
64) The Insider- The movie Russell Crowe should have won his Oscar for.
65) Boogie Nights- Burt Reynolds was great in this... plus some fantastic music too.
66) Mystery Men- One of my favorite Geoffrey Rush films.
67) Die Hard- When you need cheesy action in the late 80's, call Bruce Willis.
68) Bloodsport- Or Jean Claude Van Damme :)
69) Better Off Dead- One of those really quirky 80's films that never took itself too seriously, and it worked.
70) Richard III- A 1930's fascist England version with a very evil Sir Ian McKellan.
71) Revenge of the Sith- The prequels will be on the list... just face facts. I'm too big a Star Wars nerd to not let that happen. Besides, there were things I liked in all of them.
72) Grave of the Fireflies- One of the best, and most harrowing animes ever made. About two very young siblings trying to survive the firebombing of Tokyo.
73) Seven Samurai- I admit, I have not seen a lot of Kurosawa, but I have seen this one.
74) Hotel Rwanda- A tough film to watch, but worth it.
75) The Last King of Scotland- See it if only for Forest Whitaker's stellar performance as Idi Amin.
76) Akira- Still one of the best animes ever.
77) Much Ado About Nothing- Ah, nothing like a good Shakespearean comedy...
78) Top Gun- Blast Tom Cruise...
79) Tombstone- 'I'm your huckleberry...' Val Kilmer should have at least been nominated for his performance as Doc Holliday... robbery I say.
80) The Phantom Menace- Darth Maul...
81) Star Trek: First Contact- One of the few TNG movies that actually worked and did not feel like an overblown TV episode.
82) Airplane!- Such a great spoof of disaster films.
83) The Final Countdown- I wonder if it inspired the 'Guns of the South'?
84) Gettysburg- While 4 hours long, I rather enjoy it, especially Jeff Daniels as Col. Joshua Chamberlain... and Martin Sheen is great as Robert E. Lee (though Robert Duvall portrays him slightly better in 'Gods and Generals').
85) Major League- One of the funnier baseball movies around... though the Cleveland jokes aren't as fresh anymore. Maybe if they made one about the Rangers.
86) Princess Mononoke- Another fabulous anime from Hayao Miazaki, and some great voice acting in this one.
87) My Neighbour Totoro- If you have kids, make them see this... see it even if you don't have kids.
88) The Silence of The Lambs- Anthony Hopkins is still so chilling in this... never gets old.
89) First Knight- Sean Connery as King Arthur... very cool.
90) Big Trouble in Little China- How do you describe this film?
91) Dogma- I enjoyed it more for the jabs at organized religion than Smith's humor.
92) The Longest Day- Fantastic film about the invasion of Normandy... much like 'A Bridge Too Far' in its casting... too many to list.
93) In the Mouth of Madness- One of the few 'horror' films on the list, and this one has a bit of Lovecraft in it to make it better :)
94) The Matrix- More for what it changed in special effects than anything else... good plot twist too. But it loses spots thanks to its sequels.(actually, mostly 'Revolutions')
95) Planet of the Apes (1968)- 'Don't look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you will find.' I know I was surprised when I saw it the first time (but I was seven, sooo...)
96) The Sting- I can sort of play 'The Entertainer'... about the only thing I can play on the piano.
97) The Thin Red Line- Much praise was given to 'Saving Private Ryan' over this film, but the dreamy, hazy quality contrasting the realism of battle was intriguing.
98) Jaws- How could I leave the first film I saw off the list?
99) Rocky- Or the second? (whether I remember them or not).
100) Attack of the Clones- I told you I would put all the prequels on the list... besides, I like Tyranus' fighting style (Form II for the uninitiated :).

Ok, if you made it this far, I thank you for you might even be braver than I.


09 February 2007

25 poems

I thought I would cover this before films... that way I can appear more 'artistic' :) Also, the film list might be more like 100, sooo...

For a poet, I actually do not read a lot of poetry, though I have read a great deal in the past when it was required of me, and I did more than my fair share of poetry reviews on writing workshop sites. So, I know a little about the subject, though I have not actually taken a class on it, but then most poets throughout history did not either. Still, lists like this are subjective (and in my case, perhaps really, really subjective :) and poetry can especially be even more so. I will say, hardly any of these are modern, some ancient, others very, very long. Many are classics and a couple are a little obscure. In any event, they have all influenced me in some way with regards to my work as a writer and as a poet.

Oh, and as a bonus, at the end of this list, I am including my five favorite poems that I have written.

1) 'Sonnet #88' by William Shakespeare:
Such is my love, to thee I so belong,

That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.

This sonnet has one of the finest endings to a poem that can ever be described. From this poem, I learned a lot about being a romantic, and how to end a poem on the right note.

2) 'Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.

The first poem by Frost on this list, and one of simple, elegant imagery. I always keep this poem in the back of my mind when writing.

3) 'My life closed twice before its close' by Emily Dickinson:
Parting is all we know of heaven
and all we need of hell.

Ah, those last lines... see a trend forming? To me, many poems have a simple truth buried in the subtext... other times, they are pretty obvious.

4) 'War is Kind' by Stephen Crane:
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Opening verse this time, though the entire poem is remarkable and the stark realism of this piece has influenced much of my own writings on war.

5) 'A Dream Within a Dream' by Edgar Allan Poe:
All that we seek or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

One of the first poems that made me 'get' poetry. I understood the imagery, the allusion (the illusion as well), and to an extent, the madness, and with Poe, well I suppose a little madness is a given.

6) 'The Iliad' by Homer: I've quoted this poem many a time and there are so many translations, I will refrain. Besides, if you took high school English in the United States, you probably have been forced to read perhaps the classic of Western Literature. To me, in whatever translation, it still stands above many other works in its grandeur and power.

7) 'The Odyssey' by Homer: One could easily interchange the two, but it is hard to mention 'The Iliad' without 'The Odyssey'. Some consider it a lesser tale, a more simplistic tale (perhaps to some not even written by the same person). To me, it is the same author, older, a little wiser, and yearning for rest.

8) 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost: Perhaps Frost's most famous work and one most of us know to some extent (again, sort of a rite of passage in English class to read this at least once). I see this poem as well when I write and many times in the quiet before dawn as a reminder of how my life has gone.

9) 'Shiloh' by Herman Melville:
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
O'er the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh -

Melville? Didn't he write a book about a whale? Well, he was a pretty fair poet, too. And I recall this poem inspiring me in writing many of my pieces regarding the realism of war. And every time I re-read 'Shiloh' I realise I still have much to learn.

10) 'Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: In to the valley of Death rode the 600... Now the converse side of war poetry. Such a contrast to me, the words of Tennyson as compared to Melville and later war poets. This does not denigrate his words at all, just how the conduct of writing about war is viewed.

11) 'Maud Muller' by John Greenleaf Whittier:
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"

Nothing like writing about regret and the what might have beens of our lives. I always liked the couplet style of this poem, though I was never a huge fan of whitter, but I do understand the sorrow and lament in this piece if not the lesson.

12) 'Ananbel Lee' by Edgar Allan Poe:
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

For more of a realistic writer, Poe could be a little romantic at times. He did have an ability to cross thematic lines, though less so in his stories, but at least to some degree in his poems. I always loved this piece for the way it repeated the important parts of the poem, endearing it to the reader. This was one of the first poems that I recall really liking when I was in school.

13) 'I Have A Rendevous With Death' by Alan Seeger: I have a Rendevous with Death on some scarred slope of battered hill... Seeger wrote this not long before his own death during the Great War. Not so much prophetic as realistic about his chances. One of the tragedies of that most modern and terrible of wars. In some ways, the poem feels heroic and romantic about war, but the underlying subtext yields its true nature, the terrible truth of it all.

14) 'In Flanders Fields' by John McRae:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

I have never been to Ypres and the Flanders Fields, though I would like to visit some day. I admit, as someone who writes about war I have been to few battlefields... I wonder if that would help. I suppose it could not hurt.

15) 'A Fable for Critics' by James Russell Lowell: A rather humorous poem and also pretty long, but one that sort of makes fun of the poets of the day and then the author turns and makes fun of himself in the process. Very tongue-in-cheek, a rarity for the 19th century(outside of Mark Twain).

16) 'Ulysses' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Another oft-quoted poem that rarely needs introduction and reminder that we should always strive and seek and never yield. Many a school, person and place have adopted the lines from this poem as their motto.

17) 'Farewell to the Muse' by George Gordon, Lord Byron:
Can they speak of the friends that I lived but to love?
Ah, surely Affection ennobles the strain!
But how can my numbers in sympathy move,
When I scarcely can hope to behold them again?

One of Byron's few poems that I really like, mostly because of the panache that he brings to this piece and the imagery of trying to understand his Muse. I can relate.

18) 'Voluntaries' by Ralph Waldo Emerson: When duty whispers lo 'Thou must', the youth replies 'I can'. I did not read this piece until after seeing the movie 'Glory'. The poem is dedicated to Robert Gould Shaw (whose family I believe Emerson knew, they all being Boston abolitionists and of high society), who along with half his regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, fell at Ft. Wagner, South Carolina in 1863. I always found it the heroic, romantic sentiment and a stirring tribute, but there are times when I question the place of such things, not for what those who fought have done, never that. It is more what we place upon those still fighting and what they have to live up to in the end.

19) 'Americanisation' by G.K. Chesterton:
Britannia needs no Cafes:
If Coffee needs must be,
Its place should be the Coffee-house
Where Johnson growled for Tea;
But who can hear that human mountain
Growl for an ice-cream soda-fountain?

I probably should have posted the whole poem... it's quite funny, but most of Chesterton's poems are indeed funny with a lot of sarcasm thrown in for taste. No real inspiration or influence, just a good laugh now and then.

20) 'The Ant' by Ogden Nash:
The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what?
Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?

Chemistry students love this one, as do chemistry teachers. Again, very funny, and more a reminder that I should not take myself to seriously... and that I am thankful for a lack of formic acid in my system (which btw, is the poison in their sting).

5 favorites of mine from my own collection... not to be confused with the poets above :)

All the poems below have been posted to the blog and are linked in the title... no sense in me posting them again. And they might not necessarily be my best work, just ones that I really like. I suppose I can afford myself some frivolity in that regard.

1) 'Lament'
2) 'The Quiet Earth'
3) 'The Other Side of War'
4) 'Night Train to Perth'
5) 'War Prayers'

Honorable Mention: One of my newer poems: 'Of Time and Soul and Simple Things'

Hmm... I was going over this and I like a lot of my stuff. That is a good thing, I think. I may have to do a top 10 just based on my own work... hope that's not too egotistical :)

Have a great weekend everyone,


08 February 2007

Midnight Confessions

Ok, this is a late 'Tell it To me Tuesday' from over at Janet's. I should be doing a Thursday 13 or something, but I have a list thing in mind for tomorrow and it's more than 13... She did pose an intriguing question. 'If you could listen to a deathbed confession to a person or persons, who would it be and why?'. I should be able to give this a shot considering my background :)

1) St. Paul- if only to get more insight about the whys of his form of Christianity and what he would think about the fact that the messianic apocalypse he was embracing never happened.

2) Josef Stalin- The mind of madmen are curious things, and he certainly had a lot to answer for and to confess one should think. Plus, I would also like to inform him of the failure of Communism, just to give him an extra kick in the pants on the way to the next life :)

3) Erwin Rommel- I would like to hear his real thoughts on the idiots he had to serve with, including Goering and Hitler.

4) George S. Patton- Patton always said interesting and controversial things. I am sure a deathbed confession would be no less interesting. (I do note with irony that, so far, none of these figures had a deathbed so to speak: Patton died in an auto accident; Rommel, suicide; Paul, martyrdom, probably; Stalin: embolism or stroke, something pretty quick I know)

5) Robert E. Lee- He did have a deathbed and actually I was in a staged reading of a play about his last days and last words... (Strike the Tent!) It would just be intriguing to hear what the most beloved general in American history would have to say at the end, besides what was actually said.

6) Eleanor of Aquitaine- The most fascinating woman in medieval history (at least to me), mother of a dynasty and more or less the reason behind the Hundred Years War, not that she would care about that. Her court was one of the most forward thinking in Europe and the tradition of the chansons de geste began with her troubadours. What a woman :)

Honorable Mentions: Virtually any medieval pope; Edward I and III; Richard I; Saladin; Elizabeth I; Tom Landry; Anne Boleyn; Edgar Allan Poe; Walt Whitman; Sir Isaac Newton; Thomas Jefferson.


06 February 2007

Nerdiness Survey/Interview

Perhaps inspired by the anime conventions starting up again, or just nerdiness in general, I have decided to dig out an old nerd survey I created awhile back. It is certainly a less intimidating read than the prior post, and you can all see what a total nerd I really am :) Read on and I leave posterity to you, my fellow nerds and geeks.

btw, for fairness' sake, I shall complete the survey as well... and while it seems like a lot of questions, most of the answers are pretty easy, and of course, subjective, but that is the fun of this :)

1.First Name?

2.Age you would prefer to be?


4.What is your quest?

5.Nerd or Geek?

6.Single, Pre-Owned, or Attached?

7.History or Geography?

8.Favorite Sport?

9.Favorite Pro Sports Team?

10.Do you understand the infield fly rule?

11.Do you understand Cricket?(the default answer should be 'no', even if you are from the UK or former British colonial holding)

12.Fusion or Fission?

13.Do you own a lightsaber (real or otherwise)?

14.What is your favorite color?

15.What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

16.Star Trek, Babylon 5, or Battlestar Galactica?

17.Phaser or Blaster?

18.Superman or Batman?

19.Spiderman or Wolverine?

20. Harry Potter or JRR Tolkien (or alternatively, CS Lewis)?

21.Robert Frost or Edgar Allen Poe?

22.Weather aside, do you feel more day baseball games should be played?

23.Who fought each other in the Hundred Years War?

24.How many digital media devices do you own? (ie, ipods, computers, cellphones, video game systems)

25.360, PS3, or the worst name for a video game system ever(Wii)?

26.What is the longest amount of time you waited in line for a movie?

27. And finally, if you had a teleportation device that would send you into any of the alternate universe described above, where would you go?


05 February 2007


To the reader: I toiled with trying to break this story up into parts to make it easier to read, but I found I could not. As you might see (if you take the time to read and considering the length, I don't blame you otherwise), there are natural breaks, but unlike my other lengthy story, I just could not bring myself to break it up. In any event, I offer you a strange tale that has more than a grain of truth. Parts of this story actually happened to me, and I was in every locale mentioned on the appropriate dates.


Prologue: Fort Worth, Texas, 1983

They watched it all happen, convinced it was the right thing to do. For things to go smoothly in the future, certain processes needed to be altered, especially those dealing with memory and dreams. They could not simply step in, no. The mind of a child is too clever. He would remember them. Experience had shown that personal intervention had caused severe emotional and mental trauma, rendering the subjects useless. They needed him stable into adulthood. Even still, with the primitive tools available to them, he might not have survived the night.

She was pleased as she datavised the results to her superiors. They, in turn, were not so much pleased as relieved. She thought they might be tired of the unnecessary deaths caused by... she did not want to think of it. Instead, her thoughts turned to the report on the small child. The trauma would not be permanent, though a great deal of reconstructive surgery would be needed. But the key was the boy's brain. Memory centers were altered slightly, making him more pliable. Still, a potential for rejection existed. That was a chance they always took in the process. Something did worry her though. The memory center that was needed for their work was also enhanced. She shrugged to herself. So what if he remembered. Who would believe him anyway?

11 hours…

Albany, Western Australia, March 2004

The walk up to town from Princess Royal Harbour was quiet enough, eerily peaceful even. Albany was a large town by Australian standards, but barely had 30,000 people in it. And like many Australian towns, it shut down just after sunset. Sure the pubs and restaurants stayed open late, but not this late. I might have been the only soul walking the streets of the second oldest settlement in Western Australia. Statistically, that was probably not true, but it seemed like it.

The streetlights dimmed, as if to conserve power this early in the morning, waiting for the harsh Australian sun to rise. In truth, a chill encapsulated the air around me, cold even for late summer. While Albany could get rather warm, it cooled off a bit at night, making the evenings tolerable. Strangely, such thoughts were crossing my mind at the moment, thoughts born out of the boredom of insomnia and needing to get some fresh air. I glanced back at the calm waters in the distance, looking forward to driving around the harbour tomorrow.

After a short, yet steep climb, I turned down the street toward the hostel. Clean and friendly, I admitted, but the primary factor in staying at hostels was sheer economics. I would not have been able to stay so long in so many places had it not been for the low prices of hostels. I usually had to room with three or four other travelers, but that had never been much of a problem, and many times I would have a room to myself, depending on how busy the place was. I saw the dim lights of the hostel in the distance and approached. Hmm… no one was sitting on the balcony when I left. Maybe the insomnia was catching. I did not really want to talk to anyone, so I bypassed the balcony and headed toward my room. Still, a couple of the travelers on the balcony waved to me. I nodded back to them and made my way inside, nearly reaching the door to my room.

I felt light as I entered… strange, and the chill surrounded me again. Odd, but no more odd than… well, things I tried not to think of anymore. I started to open the door. What… crawling in the back of my mind. I knew that sensation, loved it… hated it, and dreaded what would follow. My world went dark and silent.

“Long nap?”

“Hmm… ah, wha?” I groggily said to no one in particular, then realized it was my current roommate. I was in my bunk. Wait… “How did I get here?”

“What?” He replied somewhat confused in a slight Australian accent, indicative of a city upbringing. “You walked in this afternoon and went to sleep... Hey, how'd you like the peninsula?”

Peninsula? I was supposed to go there today, to drive around... Did I? I lied. “Great. Fine.” What the holy hell happened to me?

“Good then.” He smiled. “Gotta run and get some work done. See ya around, mate.”

“No problem.” I lay back in my bunk. This afternoon. I did not want to look at my arm, but I knew it would be there. I looked anyway. The bruises… like those made from an IV, or someone who did not know how to draw blood. Not again. How could this be if… I did not want to think about it. I fell once again into the malaise of one who knew his life was not his own.

Cedar Hill, Texas, March 2003

How do you pick up the pieces of a forgotten life? How do you go on?

It had not been that long, and yet, it seemed like an eternity. Answers plagued me as much as the questions. The answers were worse, of course, but not much. My punishment was the asking of such questions. I sat outside the door, waiting to be let into her office. Doctor… no, just a therapist, so to speak. She asked the right questions, never hearing what I said. She simply recommended the doctors prescribe more medicine and that I stay at this… facility longer. Today, though, would be different. The doctors, and the therapist, noted the change. They could not understand, were baffled even, by my progress. Two days ago, apparently, I was close to a basket case delusional psychotic. I grinned weakly. I realized how close I had been to the edge. It felt as if I dangled myself upon a precipice, hoping to take the plunge. Had I really been that far gone? According to most of my family I had. The person they saw was a shell of my former self, almost ghostlike in emotion and strength, oblivious to the world around him. I nodded to myself. I so wished that were the truth. Oblivious? No... fearful? Yes.

The door to the office opened, and a woman, a bit younger than myself, stepped out for a moment. She smiled courteously and beckoned me to enter. I returned the smile and quickly entered her office. “Please… sit. We have a lot to talk about.” I sat down and waited for her to sit as well. She spoke succinctly, but with a touch of concern in her voice. “I have to admit, I haven’t seen a change like this in… well, I haven’t seen anything like it. Two days ago, you had trouble responding to a simple question. Now… “

“A little more life. Cognitive responses, even. I’m formulating complete sentences, something I was rather good at before my… stay at your lovely facility began.”

She wrinkled her nose, perplexed, and took some notes. “See, this is what I mean. You could barely tell me your name last time we talked. You acted as if I were an… enemy.” The calm in her voice jumped slightly, but I simply noted it for later.

I shrugged. “Can’t argue with that. You're right. Let’s just say I woke up the other day and realized my problems could be solved and that I didn't need to fear you, or this place.” She continued to write, and looked back up at me, smiling again. For an instant, I saw something odd in her eyes… I could not place it, but it should have made sense to me. She cocked her head and noticed my own confusion. Where had I seen that look?

“Something wrong now?”

“No… nothing, really. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Well, since the… ah, incident that brought me here.”
“Yes… psychotic episodes of delusion and persecution. Paranoia… regression… depression. “

“Those are mere symptoms, not the incident itself.” I pointed out.

“Ah, but these symptoms created the incident, yes?”

“Perhaps." I shifted uncomfortably. "But it was far more real than simple delusion. I rather think that type of clarity cannot be faked.”

“As you say... perhaps.” She said gently, and made a couple of scribbles upon the page. I wondered, deep in the back of my mind, if she really were taking notes. “And clarity can be faked, easily. The mind is very powerful, and it can conjure… well, conjure up quite a bit.”

“I know. But I haven’t told you everything… really, and I am not sure I can tell anyone the whole story.”


“Because every time I’ve tried to tell it…”

“What? You can tell me.”

“No... I…” The world seemed to shift around me. She still looked at me with concern, hoping to hear what I was saying. Or was she? Her stare bore into me and images I did not want to understand returned. How… that sensation, crawling up my spine. I spoke, but could not hear. I tried to listen… I tried to see, but the darkness was all I knew.

Would anyone believe you if you could remember?

Sydney, Australia, April 2004

She had lovely eyes, and maybe I was lost in them... or was I lost in memory? I tensed up...“I said, ‘This was quite good’.” What the… I must have drifted. I quickly looked at my left arm. Nothing. “You alright?” I heard a gentle, English accent in the cool, though a little humid, night air. Certainly a voice that could mesmerize.

“Hmm… sorry. I just spaced out. Happens sometimes, a little lost in thought while you were reading, I guess.” She smiled at me, and laughed lightly, the laugh of someone who knew what I was talking about. We were sitting in a small courtyard at a hostel in one of hundreds of Sydney's many suburbs, though not too far from the city proper.

“Your work. It’s quite good. I enjoyed reading it. Very… easy to understand, moved well. Like a conversation.”
“Thanks. It’s always good to get feedback, especially a non-American perspective. I think we write sometimes in a way the rest of the world doesn’t understand.”

“Maybe,” she grinned coyly “but I think we just don’t understand your politics.”

“Who does these days?” I started to laugh, then winced, as if something sharp and bright had clipped the edge of my vision. I felt a little dizzy, like Albany all over again. I stood up, wobbling, and almost fell into the beautiful English girl that sat next to me. “Sorry… I don’t know…excuse me for a moment.” I was genuinely embarrassed, thinking she thought I was being deliberate, but I always had a tendency to think of the weirdest, and worst, things in such situations.

“Sure. Do you need anything?” She sounded a little confused, but at least genuinely concerned. I waved to her to indicate I was fine. In truth, I was far from it. I leaned against a wall in the courtyard of the building, catching the notice of some of the other travelers. I stood upright quickly to fend them off, regaining enough bearing to convince them I was alright. All except one.

“Come on… I’ll help you to your room. You probably just need to lie down. “ She took my arm and looked over at me, waiting for me to move toward the stairs.

“Ok…” I said weakly, and with her help, headed to my room, stumbling a little up the stairs, again trying to shield my embarrassment. Finally, I made it to my room, and fell to my bed, lightly enough to perhaps assuage her concerns some.

“It must be lack of sleep. My dreams aren’t meant for normal people. Hard to explain, I guess” I told her, sitting on my bed. She stood in the doorway, listening, her form barely illuminated in the darkness.

“Well, then… get some rest. Perhaps it sounds silly, but maybe you won’t dream.”

I sighed, my frustration ignoring the change in her tone, the harshness, almost flat disdain at the end of the sentence. I looked over to the window, hearing sounds of people below in the courtyard. Hmm. Odd. Should not have heard… I stood up, a little wobbly, moved to the window, and said clearly but quietly, “I always dream, each night worse than the one before. ”

I tried to listen to voices that could not make sense, but... she... oh.... not now. Especially… “Then you don’t get enough sleep.” The voice was closer, and I heard the door shut. I turned quickly and she was almost upon me, her face hard in the dim light. “Your mind needs to find another way to work.”

“My mind... my... That… I… uh… concede.” I could feel the edge of fear in my voice, and the undercurrent of darkness in hers. She placed her hand gently upon my shoulder, but I could feel a slight tingling in my left arm. The horror struck me when I looked to my arm, then back to this…

”Oh no.”

She simply shrugged as night collapsed around me. As I faded, I could hear her voice, but it was distant… still in the courtyard below.

If only I could be allowed to remember... but would they believe me?

When I awoke, I found that more of my life had been stolen, though others would swear they had seen me acting as if nothing were wrong. Even her. I did not confront her about it. How could I? She, along with the friend she was traveling with, left two days later. Me… well. It was time to come home.

7 hours…

Cedar Hill, Texas, June 2004

I thought they seemed surprised to see me. I had not been to this place in over a year, leaving after I realized they could do nothing more for me. They treated people who were crazy. I was not. At least, I had convinced myself of this fact. On the other hand, after Australia, I could not be sure. So I returned to the hospital, welcomed by more than just my therapist. I figured as much. I walked into their office and sat calmly, waiting for… well, just about anything really.

They simply looked at me. Two psychiatrists and my former therapist. Pleasantries were exchanged, and all felt right on the surface. Yet, a tension pervaded the room. The tension of the unexpected, or perhaps the tension of revelation. Maybe it was even the veil of familiarity that surrounded us. Whose? I could not know.

“We’re glad to see you again. I assume this is because you have something to add about your stay here?”

I smiled politely at the therapist and looked to the two doctors coolly. Glad to see me again... the words grated me. They probably saw far more of me than I knew. “You might say that. My last visit was a bit odd… wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes. Very strange. You seemed perfectly calm for most of the session, then refused to speak at all near the end. Like you relapsed, almost. I saw fear, real fear, in your eyes. Not like when we had spoken before.”

I nodded and spoke flatly, “Very astute. I must have had some sort of block, I guess. That’s why I am here today. Block or no, someone has to know. I have to remember, or maybe I should become a permanent resident of your ah, fine institution.”

One of the doctors spoke quickly. “Let us hope it will not come to that, yes?” His accent seemed odd, out of place for Texas. Flat… like mine, but too flat.

“Right. Fine. It’s time you know… really know what brought me to this place, though I suspect... I suspect you know anyways.” I could feel it starting, but I fought it, fought the pain, fought the darkness. I fought them. I had to remember, for once…

I remember.

Fort Worth, Texas, February 2003

6 hours...

You held the truth all along.

I had been physically sick, had the flu really bad. It supposedly later turned into bronchitis combined with said flu, but I was doubtful. I had even heard a theory of meningitis thrown about as well. I helped some friends and family move back into Texas, but the drive was awful… a furious snow and ice storm that tripled the drive and seemed to make me worse. Even during the trip, I felt strange, as if beset by what I did not understand. I had an incredible sensation of being watched the whole journey. By time we had unloaded all our gear and moved in the furniture, I felt I needed to go to a hospital, or something. In the end, I just took some medicine and went to bed. Going to sleep was certainly a mistake.

The pressure on my body seemed intense, like the air was being forced out of me. Since I could not breath, I woke up. The darkness seemed surreal, but I chalked that up to not feeling well at all. Yet a sense of falseness overwhelmed my room, but at the time I could not quite sense what was happening. To be fair, I could not sense much of anything. What I heard though, would chill my blood for a very long time. Have them kill him… they need to do it. He sold us out. One of them saw him do it. No.

I froze, unable to move. The voices belonged to my parents… at least to whom I thought they belonged. I admit, they almost sounded manufactured, but in my condition, what was I to do? I bolted out of the room to confront… nothing. I could hear distant voices, but could see no one. The sensation of fear overwhelmed me. The world around me was empty, though I knew the house had been full before. For some strange reason, I looked outside and it, too, was empty… devoid of people, cars, sound. Only the structures of houses remained. And the voices, slightly distant, taunting me. I simply did not know what to do, so I ran. Not the wisest of actions, but it was all I could do. Somehow, after stumbling quite ill into a fast food place, I managed my way into an ambulance, though I must admit both the restaurant and the ambulance did not feel right. The people seemed distorted, as if they were copies of others from my memory. While odd, I did not think so at the time. Besides, the night still had more in store for me. Odd would not be the word… terrifying beyond all measure seemed closer.

The hospital seemed crowded enough, but I had attracted a lot of attention. Too much for a bad case of the flu. I heard words thrown about: pneumonia, chest pains, fibrillation, bronchitis, meningitis. All possible diagnoses, but no solution. Typical of an emergency room, I thought. Still, some things were out of place. Why did it take three tries to get my IV in? Why did I need an IV? (I was later told of my severe dehydration… that much was apparently true) Why did it take two people, one an armed security guard, to finally get the IV right? Why did they need my license? How many nurses were needed to deal with me? And the strangest question I needed an answer for… what the hell were they putting in me? I could have sworn I heard the word ‘pentathol’. Of course, I would receive no answers, and if they were using some sort of serum on me, it did not work, or work well enough. The doctor seemed flustered, as if unable to diagnose what should have been a simple case of the flu. Instead, he and the nurses seemed more interested in personal information and talked freely of what needed to be done to me. Unfortunately, things would get more bizarre.

What I could hear often felt as if taken directly from my mind and some of the things said could only have been known if these people were somehow telepathic. Worse, waves of people that should not have been allowed in an emergency room, all people I knew from various stages of my life, somehow seemed to be milling about in the drab surroundings, each brimming with shades of contempt and disdain. And through circumstance or distance, they all could not have been in the hospital. Some of these people were friends, yet none spoke of friendship. Some were relatives, yet no one had any concern. To them, I was the enemy. I had become a liability, someone that had inadvertently exposed a terrible secret in the family, between all of them. The problem was, I did not know what the secret could have been. In the end, I began to suspect it had something to do with my dead brother, but how could that be? These people cared about him as much as they supposedly cared about me.
I could not take it. The tension consumed me, their constant barrage of barbs and taunts awful beyond compare. Their hatred, their derision, their contempt, and their arrogance tore into me, destroying any trust I had for them. What had I done to deserve this fate? What secret was so dark that my death could cover it? I should have been driven completely mad. I did not know why I held on… perhaps I believed that at least one of them would never harm me.

Is that all you can see? This surface?

Finally, I decided I could not take it. If they wanted my blood, then by all means, they could have it. Nothing mattered anymore... no one controlled me and I would be damned if I should be lost to an abyss of their choosing. I cursed them for their cowardice and bellowed to them to get it over with if they had any courage at all... for them to kill me if they could. They all froze and turned in unison it seemed. They turned to me, eyes glowing a dreary but intense green, but not with contempt anymore... simply confusion, or so it seemed. Immediately, a nurse injected something into my IV. I figured that would be it and what had become so familiar… happened. I slipped into darkness… time fragmenting into dreams.

I awoke in the waiting room cold and confused. I felt a terrible pain in my left arm, aside from coughing every few seconds it seemed. I saw the bandages wrapped where the IV would have been. The bruising had already begun. In truth, I really did not know what to do. Who could I trust? I still felt trapped in whatever world had been… created… I had created… the thoughts were far too disturbing too contemplate. All I really knew was that those I loved and cared about had tried to kill me. If I had imagined it, I was truly crazy. If I was physically ill, then I needed help. If it were true, then… I could not think about that. I never considered it could be anything else. Too much had happened, and I only wanted to run from this place.

Finally, I did. My dad found me in the waiting room, welcoming as a parent should. Still, I was nervous and incredibly tense. How could I really know anymore? And yet, all he did was do his best to find me help, to support me, but the demons were my own and no amount of drugs or psychiatric care could quell them.

And running away to another continent… well, they simply followed me. So I decided to come back to them.

I do not want you anymore.

Hours… minutes… days… I want them back.

"You stole so much from me..." I stared at them, seeing what lay beneath the surface. I chuckled..."All you had to do was ask."

Home, June 2004

I still have trouble sleeping, and my dreams hardly make sense most of the time. But then, they rarely did anyways. A journey into one’s own darkness is a terrible thing, especially if one cannot escape it. So many do not, so many will not. I am not sure if I did, or if I have simply a bit of a reprieve. And most days I have trouble making sense of what I have experienced, what I have seen and heard. I only know that my life is my own again. What I do with the rest of it… is my choice.


“The human mind is such a frail thing. Telepathic contact has a tendency to manifest itself as hallucination and can cause severe psychotic episodes ranging from paranoia to severe delusions. In the case of Subject 9124-A, this was the case, though he was able to see much more than normal. Unlike 99% of our previous experiments, 9124-A managed to control some of the side effects for a time. This warranted further study whilst the subject was traveling. Unfortunately, this caused a relapse and exposed some of our operations. As I had feared, his memory centers were stronger than our procedures. Intervention on the part of myself and… stronger associates managed to allow 9124-A to remember, and in the process, perhaps heal himself. Pity. We would have liked to study him further. But he has earned his respite… he has earned some peace. One day, we will meet again." She smiled. "And next time, I will be sure to ask .”

She datavised the entry to her superiors and waited for her new orders, hoping perhaps to observe that intriguing species of semi-telepathic iguanas, or maybe Canadians. She had heard Canadians were very nice.