So remember last year, when my brilliant sidekick took over George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and, with the help of his esteemed cohorts in Silver Machine, wrote a trippy new soundtrack for it? He’s at it again, this time taking on sound design duties for a local steampunk version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Even if you’re not big on Shakespeare, you should try and see this one. It’s not quite the long, drawn-out affair Hamlet usually is, and it feels like it goes even more quickly than it does, thanks in part to the expert acting, direction and of course, the incredible music and sound effects. Moog Music generously donated equipment to ensure that the sound for this production is top-notch, and you will not be disappointed. Anthony Dorion and Chris Tanfield are there each night, using their face-melting synth and theremin skills to add another dimension to the music that Dorion recorded and compiled for the production. Local artists Mary Sparks, Lee Stanford, Matthew Westerman and Max Melner are all featured in the score, and if you’ve heard any of these talented musicians play, you know you’re in for something beyond good. For more information or to read my thoughts about the play itself, check out the article I posted on Ask Asheville. The play runs now through Saturday, May 4.
Some of you might know that I went back to school recently. I am required, as part of the standard curriculum, to take an English class. I thought about testing out of the class, but decided to go through with it because I don’t exactly have a ton of experience writing the kind of things college professors probably want to see, and so maybe I’ll learn something about writing for that particular audience. I have to look at it the same way I looked at studying SEO and things like that. I submitted my first weeks essay notes (some of my answers were “a bit brief;” according to the professor’s feedback; he has a point, and I know now that one thing I need to work on is padding my responses), aced the grammar diagnostic (which looked frighteningly like what my kids did around grade four) and finally, this week, got around to writing the first real paper that was assigned. The instructions were to write a descriptive essay; the description could be of a person, an object, a place or an animal. I’m not sure that what I wrote is quite what the professor was looking for, but I’m still learning here. I shared it with my mother (you’ll see why) and she laughed so hard she cried, and then apologized (again, you’ll see why). I thought since she enjoyed it so much, you people might as well. Here, then, is my first official piece of college English writing.
It sits in front of me, silent of course, and motionless, but somehow still mocking me. It knows that it has come down to me versus it, and only one of us can win. I know from experience that I will likely lose again, like I have so many times before. Still, I have to fight. I have to try.
The drab browns and greys do nothing to reduce its similarity to some fetid swamp, rank with the stench of those who came before me, tried to brave the horror here, and failed. The smell is nearly suffocating: flesh and earth and over it all, some vague smell that might have once been appetizing, in a different time, under very different circumstances. Now, it only adds a cruel layer of sweetness to the vile mess before me. Not even a strawberry muffin can overcome the travesty that is liver and Lima beans, cruelly placed before me by my mother. The bright red berry bits have been overshadowed, tainted by the ugliness beside them. What was once an eagerly anticipated treat now tastes like bribery, a pale attempt to make me think this meal might be worth eating.
“This isn’t food,” I say, indignant in the way that only nine-year-olds can be. “It’s guts.” I’m right, you know. It’s a liver, straight from the inside of a cow and cooked on the very same stove on which my mother made me pancakes that morning, back before she lost her mind and tried to poison me with the innards of some poor unfortunate bovine.
“Eat your guts,” says my father.
I ponder the wisdom of rolling my eyes or arguing, but while I may be a picky child, I am not a stupid child, and I err on the side of being allowed to watch The Cosby Show that night rather than being sent straight to bed. Instead I stomp pout-faced into the kitchen, retrieve the barbecue sauce and return to my chair. The ancient green vinyl of my padded seat seems to sigh in sympathy as I sit back down and cover the guts on my plate with a quarter-inch layer of the pungent condiment. Sauce oozes down the sides and I think, “This must have been what it looked like inside the cow.” Somehow, I manage not to vomit.
My father, unamused, offers me the bottle of ketchup he just poured onto his own Lima beans. This whole not-vomiting thing is getting harder by the second, and I squeak out a “No, thank you” before washing the bile back down my throat with a giant swig of milk.
My mother, the very woman who created this situation, glances at me. Her eyes are a lovely blue, her hair fluffy in curls around her shoulders. You’d never suspect this tiny, sweet-natured lady of making her children eat guts and beans. And yet, here is the proof: “Eat up, sweetie. Try your muffin.”
I am expected to eat this; all of it, the liver and its accompanying onions, looking like nothing more than neatly segmented parasites, translucent worms just waiting to infect me with some horrid cow disease I’m too young to know about just yet. Anthrax, maybe, or AIDS; I’m nine, I don’t know the difference. The muffin, oh, the poor abused muffin, placed there only to entice me to the table, now rendered inedible by its proximity to one bean that slid away from the rest and is now, in a vulgar display of affection, nestled next to it… this too must be eaten, along with the offending bean and its compatriots. There is no way out of this. I will sit here till the butter on the beans congeals, till my milk goes sour, till, Heaven forbid, I fall asleep face-first into the slab of worm-infested guts sitting squarely in the middle of my Strawberry Shortcake place mat.
I have no choice. The enemy has won again. Knife in one hand, fork in the other, I make the first cut. There is no going back now. Defeated, I begin to eat my dinner.
Asheville Writers in the Schools is a non-profit organization that places writers in local schools to teach kids about the joys of reading and writing. I’m participating in a “Write-A-Thon” to raise funds for the program; I’m hoping it will help inspire me, too, to complete the children’s book I’ve been promising baby girl and her brothers for years. If you’re like to contribute and help sponsor me in this, the link is below. Any little bit helps, and even if you can’t donate (believe me, I totally understand money being tight; I can’t afford to sponsor myself either) feel free to share the link. Oh, and I also have a chance to win an awesome weekend writer’s retreat here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. How awesome would that be? Thanks in advance for your support, both in this and through your continued positive feedback for the silly little things I write. You people are awesome.
Here’s the link to sponsor me in the Write-A-Thon: http://www.mountainofwords.org/adults-writers.html
Where do I even start with this?
You are not required, as a human being, to weep when you read the account of the murders of 20 small children in an elementary school. You are not required to turn to your partner and ask what the hell happened, to feel a lead ball of terror in your intestines when you think of sending your own children off to school, to post a Facebook status about it asking why and how this could happen, knowing there are no answers, blindly seeking them anyway. You are not required, as a human being, to even acknowledge that the shooting occurred.
You are required, as a human being, to have some compassion about the fact that it DID happen. Children died. Parents are grieving. The world is grieving. Not because we all knew someone at the school, or because it triggered memories of something similar that affected us directly. We grieve because these were children. We grieve because they were slaughtered in a place that was supposed to be safe for them, among the comforting smell of fresh Crayolas and the new-plastic scent of those thin little nap mats piled in the corner of every kindergarten classroom in the country. Someone needs to be punished, we think; we know this with the utmost certainty. Whether it be god or the government, the mental health professionals that may have let the gunman slip through the cracks, liberals, conservatives, someone has to be at fault.
And the “people” (I use that term loosely; there is little if anything human about them) of Westboro Baptist Church have decided that the people who need to be punished are the parents of these tiny murder victims. The parents, who are already suffering more than most of us can possibly comprehend, who are trying to cope with the fact that their children have been irrevocably removed from their lives, who are now faced with empty bedrooms and unopened Christmas gifts and the absolute agony of having to decide what to do with that wee pair of shoes left by the front door. The sick, ignorant, inbred degenerates at Westboro Baptist have decided to show up at the children’s funerals–not to lend support and comfort, which might ACTUALLY be what Jesus would want them to do, but to use this tragic situation as a platform to draw attention to their disgusting beliefs, the core of which appears to be that god hates homosexuals but is totally okay with you fucking your own sister.
By now, you may know that Anonymous hacked WBC’s web site and published all of the members’ contact information. I got that information from this site, but I copied and pasted it below, just in case the link failed to work or was taken down. Normally, I wouldn’t post people’s contact information like this; it reeks of minor high school delinquency, prank-calling and harassing people. The thing is, if you want to show up at the funeral of a child with the sole intention of causing further distress to the family and spewing filth, fuck you, you deserve to be harassed. You deserve to be called on your despicable behavior. Will it change their minds? It’s highly unlikely. But that’s not really the point. The point is to disrupt their lives and to call attention to the pathetic pieces of human waste that they are.
The list of members and their contact information is below. They might enjoy receiving information from the following resources:
http://www.nambla.org -The North American Man Boy Love Association would love to have them as members.
http://www.ireadult.com -A free magazine for gay men. Wouldn’t Mr. Phelps love an issue?
http://www.satanicaeons.com/ -Do the WBC members a favor and get them a subscription to updates from this site.
http://www.gayposters.com/gayhoca.html -Send ‘em a Christmas card! (Thanks to my friend Amy A. B. for this link)
*Please note: These people are ignorant pieces of shit, but I do not support, suggest or condone violence against anyone. Call them up, write and tell them what you think of them, give them generous gifts of free subscriptions to magazines their postman would love to see in their mailboxes, but no matter how tempting it is and how much they may deserve it, do not get yourselves in trouble by doing anything to harm anyone.
this is when the darkness crawls in
through my eyes, making pupils grow
darker than normal with no sunlight anywhere
nothing reflecting, the night
settles in to my bones, through my pores
makes my blood thick and slow, turns my lungs
i can’t breathe
and the clouds gather, silently mocking
creating a haven for chill winds and bitter cold
i am gasping
at the sky
and i will mark off all the squares on the wall
turn the pages of cheap dime-store paper in hope
that there’s hope
in the passage of
to make us all
suffer, a game that we play
mindless, hand-clapping, rote recitation
to hang on
and the silence is broken, though effort
i hardly can spare, making faces that look almost normal
the words, almost just like the ones that i think
i should say and i’m left
at the end
worn out, shaken
it’s too much, it’s never
i can’t say
and the silence is
the silence is
all i can
and the small hands that reach for me
i can’t let go
they are the brushes that paint my existence
nothing is real
without their creation
of who i should be and that place
right beside me
just to the left of a
time-worn tattoo is the
light that shows everything
painted to life.
and then there’s this
bleak grey screens flashing
disco balls of whatthefuck
buy me feel me hear me
leashed together, shackled minds
stay in step
let the great ones take you down the path to
wash your feet in the bloody lamb, facing east
and pork’s a sin and
you were SAVED from the chance to
acknowledge your sins
give yourselves some credit,
points for creativity
the universe provides for
god’s will and what it doesn’t
you don’t need
shanti om, hallelujiah
pass the judgment
to your left.
black feet, black teeth, bellies fat with hunger
maggots teeming on the faces of the children in the trash cans
one meal a day and get your head blown off for freedom
to own oil
and half the world
you, with your signs screaming love’s a sin and
go to hell
which of these poor sad condemned souls
started as a cell
right hand on your heart you pray
to gaudy demigods
i pledge allegiance
to the state
(craven images, and all-
did you forget?)
you can’t make this shit up.
i was in your
i held the scent of
under my tongue
it made me high
it made me sleep
it made me
what was that
our words are mumbles, something like
what was this.
we are hazy filters layered over an already
herbal tea and jazz
picnics on the floor and waiting
to will our sun-blind eyes
what if one day
we shared a seat
without resting our feet
on each other
or my head finding that place
just to the left of your shoulder
that seems to remember
the shape of my skull
to place it there
and the force of not belonging
made it shatter
and the sticky tar inside
came pouring out
stench of remembering
thick in the air
binding our limbs
what if i rotted there
next to you
would you die too?
Came across a folder of things I wrote but didn’t publish, for one reason or another. Everything I write is somewhat abstract, and while the more positive things might be inspired by a particular person or event, the darker, angry ones almost never are. I go through phases in which I’m appalled by our society, public figures, ignorance, hate; I sometimes fall into memories that are tangled up with others, bits of nightmares and fears coming together in my mind and making it restless and shaky, until I have to put all of that rage somewhere. Those words are some of my best, but I’m still reluctant to publish them, both to avoid unnecessarily angering people to whom the words have no connection, and to avoid potentially hurting anyone who might think they were the impetus for anything particularly vile I might come out with. I don’t write with the intent to hurt anyone. I write with the intent to clear my mind, and when I’m in these dark and vulgar phases, the wrath is almost always self-directed, or the result of some horrid aspect of the world out there that I simply can’t cope with any other way.
That being said, I found this shit, and it’s good, and here’s a bit of it.
with your eyes blacked and your lip split
bruises marking the path you’ve walked
in order to save face
does the mirror tell you
when to breathe,
tie your laces together, sunshine
walk with tiny steps to where
you know you shouldn’t be
break the things you should have loved
to own what no one
to the people who
walk along your spine in
lined with the skin
of your brothers
bite the fucking curb
wear the flag
let it wrap around
drink the water.
where is the remote?
behind the couch
with the bible and your stash of
girl on girl
god hates fags
we’re all in hell.
out the window you are watching
close the curtain
pick up the phone
make a call
to change the world
on american idol
could determine the fate
of your soul.
dark room, prison bars
you love THIS you eat
THIS you fear
we will inject you
with the things we think
we will inject you
make you numb
it doesn’t matter to you