Thursday, September 19, 2013

Build your own story menu:

Pick one Genre:

1) Romance
2) Science Fiction
3) Detective Fiction
4) Tragedy
5) Adventure
6) Comedy
7) Historical
8) What have you

Pick two objects from your own imagination. For example: a teddy bear, an ashtray, a bowling ball, tortillas, a robot...

Pick a setting. For ex: The Louvre, New York City, a diner, 17th century Japan, a high school gym class... Doesn't have to be that specific.

That's how it works. I'll crank out stories as long as y'all give me prompts!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four Years Later and I'm still Lazy as Hell...

So I was going to start a new blog. I completely forgot about this old one I used to write when I was younger. But the fancy (scary) technology that exists in the future doesn't let anyone forget the past, much less me. Eh. It's okay. I guess I haven't changed my email in six or seven years, so it's all good. Blogger remembers me. I'm too lazy to come up with a new gmail account in order to start another blog from scratch.

That said, I am changing the point of this blog. The new point is that I want to become a stronger writer. And I want my past blunders to be public record. (Although, I still think my old hangover cure is ingenious and way obvious...)

Okay, the new point of this blog is that I'm a writer in training. I just got hip to this annual writing contest involving improv flash fiction. I'm not ready to enter this year, but I want to enter next year. So I need to train.

Once again, that said, I need weekly prompts. Keep me on my toes, folks. Think of it like one of those sandwich places where you pick a bread, a meat, a cheese, and condiments. Except it's like a Genre (Romance, Horror, Detective, Drama, Comedy, etc.), then choose a place where you want the short story to be set, and then choose two objects that need to be involved in the story.

Think of it like a build your own story menu.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ten Year Old Review!

I spent yesterday afternoon reading Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland. (Yes, I'm pretty sure that the title is based on the Smiths song. Incidentally, you should listen to that song while reading this.) It's been many years since I've read anything that Coupland wrote--and by many I mean about twelve or thirteen. The reason I picked it up was because I was bored at Borders and the description on the back cover reminded me of some themes that I've been working on in my own writing.

So, long story short, I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting on one of those comfy, faux leather Borders chairs by the graphic novel section. It took me about four hours to get through it, but it was a well spent winter afternoon.

The basic plot of "Girlfriend in a Coma" is that Richard, a seventeen year old kid in 1979, loses his virginity to his girlfriend, Karen, the same night that she later falls into a sudden and unexplainable coma. However, she becomes pregnant and is able to carry the child to term. So he becomes a father to their daughter, Megan, while she remains in a coma.

Meanwhile, Richard and his high school friends all go on to do different things. Some achieve moderate success, others fail. Some get addicted to drugs, some drop out of society, and some become complete overachieving go getters. Karen escapes the eighties and most of the nineties by being in a coma.

The story climaxes on October 31st, 1997 when Karen awakes from her coma. Basically, she's a seventeen year old girl in a thirty-four year old body and can't understand what has happened to make her best friends from high school so vacant and jaded about life.

The story takes a Vonnegut-esque twist at this point that I won't give away. Essentially, what I got from the book is that loneliness is what really drives people towards self-destruction and apathy. From that point on, it read to me like Daniel Quinn. The "girlfriend in the coma" is not so much a prophet, but someone who has a different vantage point on modern civilization. Where we--the masses who move through time linearly can only see each step forward as an improvement--she has a sideways perspective on progress. For instance, she cannot understand why efficiency and technology are so important if they don't make people happier.

Our ancestors would probably agree--before they decided to muck up life as we know it with the innovation of agriculture and private property.

Thing is, I haven't read Douglas Coupland since I was in middle school. Despite the fact that the majority of the book took place in 1997, I thought it was a more recent work. Then I looked at the copyright and found out that it was actually written in 1998. Silly me! This review is over ten years irrelevant!

But the reason that I was so easily fooled is because it IS still relevant. Coupland's main point in the book is that human beings have created such a disaster on this planet that even if all humans died instantly, the earth would not be able to repair itself on its own. We've left too much of a mess to just leave the party and hope that someone else cleans up after we go. (There are clever allusions to that in the book...) Furthermore, it's not enough to change small aspects of our lives--like driving hybrid cars, buying organic cleaning products, or making sure we take the recyclables out. We need a change in consciousness. We have to change the way that we think about everything. Essentially, in order to actually evolve as a parasitic species that can continue to exist on our host, we have to develop a different relationship with the Earth that might contradict some of our ideas about civilization.

That's the big reason that I thought this was a newer work of his. Ten years ago, I can't really remember anyone talking much about that kind of thing. (Then again, ten years ago, I was a seventeen year old--so who knows what I remember about social consciousness.) Since being a teenager, I've read Jared Diamond, Daniel Quinn, and Daniel Pinchbeck.

(At this point, you've probably had to restart "Girlfriend in a Coma" by the Smiths several times to get through too. But it's worth it, right? It gets better the more you listen to it.)

While I tend to be a naysayer when it comes to 2012 stuff, I am in complete agreement with Diamond, Quinn, Pinchbeck, and Coupland about the fact that we need to change how we think about human societies.

Diamond, because he started his literary career based upon a simple question: "Why are indigenous tribal people of New Zealand happier and smarter than modern day white people?"

Quinn because he made me wonder: "Would it REALLY be that bad if you couldn't get yams at the convenient store?" (Through the voice of Ishmael, a talking gorilla who thinks human civilization is really stupid and pointless...but not beyond repair...)

Pinchbeck...? I just like the way he thinks about things. I already referenced him. Read his Reality Sandwich blog--it's worth it.

And now Coupland is added to my "If you could invite four people to dinner..." list.

(I should be so lucky to invite FOUR people to dinner! I'll make sesame marinated pea sprouts and sweet and sour case you're wondering...)

I'm happy that I wasn't nuts for liking Coupland so much in my youth. When I read "Girlfriend in a Coma" I had this strange, euphoric if I was reading a book by the the guy we voted "most likely to succeed" in high school. I was giddy as hell. It was like, wow, the guy I always thought would be a great writer finally became one. (Ten years ago...albeit...)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lost is back!


Lost has started! I a nay sayer here...? I wasn't all that impressed by it's two hour debut. When I worked at the bank, I used to spend all day perusing lost theories online. Now that I'm not chained to the internet all day, I just don't seem to have the same passion for the show.

Now, I always figured there was a time travel component to the show--ever since Desmond went all Dr. Manhattan in season three. And I love Jeremy Davies to death (I've had a crush on him since Saving Private Ryan) ... and I would cuddle him to the point of suffocation if I could. But this isn't working for me now.

Things I liked:

--introducing Frogurt
--Frogurt getting killed
--Shirtless Sawyer
--Seeing Francois Chau actually acting (geekery alert: Francois Chau and Jeremy Davies were in a movie together a couple years ago.)
--Miles bringing back a dead boar
--Seeing dreamy eyed Richard Alpert pop in and out
--Locke knifing that Dharma guy

Notice a pattern? The only shit I liked about the episode was the island stuff. I hate the off island drama. The Oceanic Six are my LEAST favorite characters and I kind of wish they would have just died when the freighter blew. Ben was a cool character on the island, but now I think he's just a flunky. And I didn't really dig the whole Desmond "remembering" a dream thing...

But I have faith in the show. I'm definitely not giving up on it. I just wish the damn Oceanic Six would get back to the island already.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Legion of Three Worlds

Like most Legion fans, I've been looking forward to "The Legion of Three Worlds" all year. Overall, I thought it was a good set up issue, but not much more than that.

First of all, I hate Superman Prime. I get what he's about--I understand why his character is written the way it is--but he's still annoying as hell. So the fact that almost half of LoTW was devoted to him was disappointing. However, the best part of his storyline was when he meets up with the Legion of Super Villains. It reminded me of the old Silver Age story starring Dynamo Boy--a superpowered miscreant that infiltrates the Legion only to become a pawn of the LSV--who ultimately strand him at the end of time. (Secret origin of the Time Trapper anyone? That's my first crackpot theory of the morning.)

Now, I like the direction that Johns is going with Superman trying to convince the Legion that they need to redeem Superman Prime rather than simply defeat him. At this point, I can't really imagine what that entails. Hopefully, it will involve them using their futuristic computers in a high tech game of spin the bottle:

(note that it is Invisible Kid who is asking Star Boy to participate)

The other problem I had with LoTW was that the legionnaires it focused on were pretty much the same ones from the recent Action Comics story. I am jonesing for some post-Zero Hour Legion here, and that one splash page of them at the end just wasn't enough for me. Yes, yes, I understand that this was merely a set up issue, but it would have been cool if they had woven them into the story a little bit more.

As far as the newest Legion, the Waid/Shooter group, I could care less. I've been following it on and off, but I haven't really gotten into it. So I can't say that I really care much about their involvement in LoTW. However, I am excited to see the interactions between the different versions of the characters--most notably between the Brainiacs. The one thing I do like about the Waid/Shooter Legion is that their version of Brainiac seems most similar to Vril Dox II of L.E.G.I.O.N--especially in the early run when Barry Kitson was the artist. I think this character who is manipulative and scheming above all else will be an interesting contrast to the pre-Crisis and post Zero Hour versions of Brainiac. Also, I imagine the interaction between the wildly different versions of Shrinking Violet will be entertaining too.

Things I liked: The scene with Polar Boy and Sun Boy was great:
Especially because I found it to be reminiscent of a scene from the Five Years Later Legion after Sun Boy has let the Legion fall apart under his leadership.

I don't know if this was an intentional shout out to the Five Years Later Legion, but I still thought it was pretty cool.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Review of Melt

I finally found a vegan sandwich at Melt that I could tolerate. The first time I had one, I got the vegan mozzarella with fried tofu and bbq sauce. The cheese was slimy and the tofu was bland--the only thing that made it palatable was the bbq sauce. So I was a little skeptical about trying the vegan cheese again. However, I wasn't in the mood for salad or three bean chili sans dairy. So I decided to try the vegan american this time and pair it with sliced jalapeƱo peppers. It ended up being an awesome combination of cheese and heat. It was definitely one of those "I can't believe it's vegan" experiences. I will certainly be going back for this in the near future.

As far as cocktails go, I had heard a lot of hype about Melt' s "Las Vegas Lavender Mojito", so I decided to try it. Although it was pretty tasty, it didn't need nearly as much lavender leaves as the bartender dropped in the glass. By the time I was half-way through drinking it, it became a sludgy mess of lavender and rum. It would be much better if they used lavender water as a flavoring agent rather than the actual leaves. My next cocktail was a house specialty. The name of it is escaping me now, but it had something to do with Russia and it was comprised of vodka, ginger and lime juice. Now that was a damn fine cocktail. It was actually my boyfriend who pointed it out on the menu to me and said, "Wow, it sounds like they made this drink just for you." Indeed they did.

In sum, it was a good dining experience. The vegan cheese is awesome because it was filling but I don't feel completely sluggish or overstuffed--unlike my poor boyfriend who's currently passed out in a food coma after devouring his gouda sandwich and two micro brews.

I don't envy him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Legion of Superheroes Minutiae!

I spent a great deal of my last few posts talking about Legion of Superheroes minutiae. And I've decided that I'm just going to continue that.

In the 1980's, DC decided to end all their current superhero titles and have them start over from scratch. They wanted to streamline the characters so they weren't as complex or confusing to readers. This was all fine and good for the most part, except when it came to the Legion of Superheroes-- because for whatever reason, they decided not to reboot that title. Maybe they figured that since it took place in the 30th century it was far enough removed from the rest of DC continuity to really make much of a difference. I don't know the full story on that one. However, I do know that this created major problems in reconciling Legion continuity with that of the newly rebooted DC universe.

Namely, the Superboy problem.

Originally, the Legion of Superheroes only existed because the legend of Superman inspired them to don costumes and use their superpowers for good a thousand years later. All fine and good, really. You don't see too many teenagers these days acting out the great deeds of King Arthur or Amir Hamza. However, the time traveling youngsters couldn't leave well enough alone. Rather than simply being inspired by Superman, they had to travel back to the past when he was a boy and play practical jokes on him.

But he was a good sport and eventually became a member of the superhero club of the future.
the way the way Superboy's existence in the Legion was explained was that the Time Trapper intentionally misdirected all of the Legion's trips to the past into a "Pocket Earth" that he created. So, essentially, every time the Legion thought they were traveling into the past, they were really just going to an alternate dimension.

Ultimately, this reconfiguration resulted in the exile of the Legion of Superheroes from mainstream DC continuity. The regular stories continued a couple of years after the Crisis, albeit with a new version of the Pocket Earth Superboy that was swiftly killed to avoid further confusion.

When the new Legion appeared in 1989, it took place 5 years after the last Legion storyline, "The Magic Wars". The 30th century was a completely different place as a result of the Magic Wars. It was similar to the Dark Ages, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Technology and progress were stagnant, the evil Dominator aliens were able to use the period of instability in order to take control of Earth, and the Legion of Superheroes had disbanded. Essentially, the 30th century was now a dystopia where the virtue and heroism of the Legion had no place.

This reversal of fortune led to a new kind of storytelling for the Legion. The five years between the Magic Wars and the opening of the new title were never clearly defined. It was a mysterious period that was alluded to every once in awhile, often through supplementary meta-narratives, in the form of news articles about the Legionnaires and other characters (similar to the extras in the Watchmen). Like this one, about the planet Daxam (which they were trying to establish as a Krypton analog to replace the presence of Superman and Supergirl):

However, the majority of the five year gap was never completely explained. This added an extra level of tension and suspense to the stories--especially because it took awhile for certain characters to reemerge in the new timeline--and to see how the ones who did appear had changed.

The core characters at this point were Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn), Chameleon Boy (Reep Daggle), Shrinking Violet (Salu Digby), Lighning Lass (Ayla Ranzz), Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox), Ultra Boy (Jo Nah), Brin Londo (Timber Wolf) and Laurel Gand (this version's Supergirl replacement). There were a few other new characters like Celeste MacCauley (a private investigator from Earth) and Kono (a yellow skinned, blue haired space pirate). Other Legionnaires made cameo appearances or occasionally had an issue devoted to them, but for the most part the main storyline primarily focused on the above mentioned characters. Shrinking Violet, who was now a scarfaced, one legged lesbian in a relationship with Lightning Lass. (One of my favorite Legion couples of all time, incidentally.)

Originally, Lar Gand was Mon-El, one of Superboy's distant relatives from the planet Krypton who was trapped in the Phantom Zone for a thousand years. (Incidentally, most incarnations of this character tend to stay true to the thousand year trial in the Phantom Zone. It's part of his mythos, which I think is totally cool.)

Anyway, in the Five Year Later Legion, Lar Gand became the Superboy figure in the Legion's past, because in order for them to shoo away the impact that Superboy had on the foundation of
the Legion, they had to talk up Lar Gand's accomplishments.

Essentially, the transmogrified him into the backbone of the Legion. Reading, through this stuff now, I don't really understand what DC was thinking at the time. I mean, I read this stuff because I love it--but if they launched a comic now with this kind of narrative format, I'd be totally pissed off.

Then again, most of the Five Year Later Legion was supposed to be mysterious and terrifying.