Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lascaux Flash 2012 - Update

Well, my story did not win.  Not even an honorable mention to speak of.  I attribute this, for the most part, to two circumstances:

1)  Procrastination.  I had three weeks or so notice about this contest, but except for the most cursory of preparations, I put off working on the story until the weekend that it was due.  I also forgot to write down several thoughts I had percolating in my mind about the story, and I'm pretty sure my story suffered for their exclusion.

2)  I bit off a bit more than I could chew.  A situation like this one - only 250 words - more or less requires an eschewing of the normal idea of story; this allows only enough time for a snapshot in time, a glimpse of a few moments, and some of the story must remain untold.  I thought my story did a fairly good job of this, but not nearly good enough.  I think I needed more vivid description and less scaffolding.

I'm also left with a sneaking suspicion that the judges, overburdened as they were, did not pick up on the symbolism of the rainbow/Covenant with God theme I was seeking to examine.  I think I might take the opportunity to re-write this story without the 250 word restriction and see how it goes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lascaux Flash 2012

This past weekend, the weather was fabulous.  Autumn is my favorite season, and the there was a delicious crisp chill in the air.  So of course I ended up spending all weekend indoors, writing furiously, trying to complete my entries for the Lascaux Flash contest.  Had it been unbearably hot or stormy, my procrastination would have seemed to outside observers like some kind of transcendent Zen taming-of-the-Fates wisdom.  Man, that would have been so sweet!

The real challenge (I think) of writing contests such this one (250 words max.) or the NPR 3 Minute Story that was due the day after the Lascaux entry (and which I will get into in my next post), is getting yourself to edit with coldness, even brutality.  Even five or six words used to help enrich the setting of the story will end up costing you in character or theme development.  I'm sure that without an arbitrary word limit, I could have composed a more full story, but the process that these contests force you through end up, in my opinion anyway, strengthening your writing in the long haul.

And I would be remiss to not recommend that everyone go check out the Lascaux Flash page.  The writing must be good, because several stories have evoked in me emotions  such as jealousy and angry bad unluckiness, and I wondered why couldn't these people have just sat on their hands for once so I could get a chance to win.

Enough blah, blah, blah - here's my entry to the Lascaux Flash contest:

(250 words - count 'em!)

There were no corners in the room. Narrow windows fitted with stained glass were cut into the thick stone walls of the small chapel off the infirmary. A circular, ornate wool rug covered floor, and soaked up the drips as they fell. Driving rain and wind continued, darkness stretched out forever.

Hunched forward on a chair, Brother Cysur's hands cradled the warm throat of a clay goblet. With deep and measured breath, he observed the floor. A rainbow of shards was cast beneath his feet, arching towards the damp, howling window. The rhythmic sound of drips falling, absorbing into the damp rug made Cysur grow drowsy. The fury, he mused, must have been drawn out into the cold dawn.

"Why, Brother?" beseeched the frail Infirmarian as he entered. “We have a Covenant!”

“A Covenant!” scoffed Brother Cysur. “How much merciless suffering must we witness? Attend to? Wait on as hapless servants?” he demanded. “The Covenant has been long broken!”

A thin beam of light crept through the storm clouds, past the jagged teeth of the window, spilling on the blood red carpet, illuminating the room.

“Within days,” Cysur's voice swam in stone-muted echoes, “the ground will be too hard to break.” He rose, taking the Infirmarian's shoulder in his heavy red palm. “Gather the Abbot.”

The Infirmarian acquiesced, pausing at the door.

“You're Hell-bound, you realise,” his voice cracked through tears.

“Enduring this plague, I'll remain unimpressed by any atrocities there.”

Listening to:  Rid of Me - PJ Harvey
Reading: Oil! A Novel by Upton Sinclair

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just a quick update...

I've been doing a lot of advocacy writing lately, leaving little time for more creative endeavors.  This ought to all clear up in the next month or so, and I can return my full focus to the Twitter novel in the works.  Which is incredibly hard, harder than I'd imagined.  I've scrapped the whole thing 3 times now.  Hopefully, this time off will allow some things to settle and gel in my mind and the fourth time will be the charm.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Agony and The Ecstacy of a New Computer

Well, that didn't take too long.  OK, it seemed an interminable wait, but now it's over, and now beings the arduous task of getting the new computer up to snuff.  This won't be too difficulty, as we back up regularly at Quill Studios.  In fact, as I was composing this post, it's pretty much been completed.  Except for iTunes.  Grrrr....iTunes.

The songs were all backed up and easy enough to restore, but the many playlists that are so very depended upon for creative inspiration did not import.  So before connecting the iPod to sync with iTunes, we must jot down the songs in each playlist and reconstruct them in iTunes, which is a serious bummer, right?

Also too, 13 songs seem to have disappeared into the ether, and I'm not sure which ones they are.  On the plus side, my iTunes account inexplicably has an extra $7 on it, so it more or less balances out.  At least it is balanced out to the point where bitching about seems pretty shallow.

And just to show that I was just goofing off the whole time that the Quill Studios computer was lost, read here this short work of fiction.  As always, typos are free of charge.


Sometimes I laugh to myself in the dark - you know, those nights that for whatever reason, sleep just won't come - anyway, I laugh into the darkness about the naivete of my younger self when I would lie awake all night before a competition.  I'd toss and turn, chasing random itches all across my skin, unable to find a comfortable position, uneasy in my own body.  The more I thought about it, especially with regards to the rest my eyes would necessarily need, the more awake I became.  So what keeps me up now?  Good question.

It is not, I'm for certain, the competition; I'm at the top of my field, an unquestioned favorite.  The competition is so far behind me as to justify being held in my contempt.  No one can touch me.  I stride into an arena and, for just a moment, all is silent, reverent.  Then the applause erupts.  I used to find it disorientating, now it is just like the air I breathe.  I am, I can say with no false modesty, a colossus.  And, outside of my sphere, no one even knows my name. 


So, yes, the entrance and the energy from the masses in the seats - I've describe all that already.  I feel no reason to elaborate further; if you haven't experienced it first hand, I don't think you really deserve to know what it feels like anyway.

My opponent is already seated, per custom, his hands are on the small table, white, no bigger than a standard card table you might find in any average home in the country.  The table cannot be too big; it just cuts down the drama too much.  Plus it's in the bylaws - too far away from the face of your opponent and fans will invariably attempt to get with with flashbulbs and laser pointers.  Of course, you don't lose if a purposefully distracting light is shone, but it can really throw you off your game.

I enter the ring, set on an elevated platform so everyone can see, and approach the table.  The chair is as highly regulated as the rest of the environs here, a standard desk chair, made of oak, impeccably engineered so there are no wobbles or creaks.


What is the secret of my success, I am often asked.  I'm no chump, so of course I just give a bullshit answer of getting myself in "The Zone" or some variation of that claptrap.  Lesser competitors will try to distract you, or to draw you in with a feigned expression, even squint to try to look intimidating.  No, my secret is more esoteric; I try to figure the other guy out.  Not his strategy or anything, figure *him* out - stare into his eyes, past his eyes, into the essence of his being, try to mine the depths of him, see if I can make out any experiences that have shaped him leading up to this moment, into who he is right now, twitching and sweating. 

The thing about this sport is the end is never sudden or instantaneous.  The man or woman who will lose knows for agonizingly long seconds before they surrender.  And the best thing, for me, is seeing it on their face.  These are dangerous waters, though; more than one champion has had the title snatched from him or her even as they observe the panic, the floundering hopelessness in the underdog's eyes.  Cockiness is a gravedigger in our sport.


I reach the chair and spin it around, crossing my arms over the top of the chair back.  I'm cautioned, as usual, by the ref.  I turn my head to one side and then the other, my gaze asking plaintively of the audience whether they can believe the gall of this guy or what.  With a show of dramatic but good-natured reluctance, I reset the chair to its proper position and sit down, mirroring the stature and position of the man across the table, so close I could slap him now if I wanted to.  I do my best to have an expression cross my face to indicate the sentiment.

The ref checks both of our eyes and asks if we are ready.  A lack of response is tantamount of consent, and when neither of us objects, the contest begins, signaled by a small electronic gong-like sound, very soft so as not to startle and cause an involuntary reaction.  He opens with a small throat clearing coinciding with an awkward twitch of one half of his mouth.  Child's play that I'm tempted to roll my eyes at; in fact, I could probably do that and win it right here and now.  But I don't like to win on tricks.  I don't like my opponent to walk away, shoulders hunched but with a buzzing in his head that he ever had a chance to beat me, if only he had done this or avoided that.  I want - no, need, on a very basic level, my opponents to sulk away utterly defeated, no doubt in their mind they've been bested by the best there is.

Anyway, as should be obvious, I am not drawn in by his games.  In truth, they barely even register on my consciousness.  I am already deep inside his head, through the dark pools and entering his soul, or so it must feel to him.  He's already sweating...

And there it is, the look; the surrender to inevitability.  Even as his eyelids begin to contract, he cast his eyes sideways.  And how did I win?  Again, as I've mentioned, people always want to know the secret, but there is no secret; that would imply some sort of trick.  No, I won simply because I saw through him, into him.  Did he blink because I had gotten through his defenses and held his psyche, figuratively, by the balls? Again, no; I he was done when I saw in his eyes that he was on the edge of beating himself.  I beat him because the mind abhors a dichotomy (at least the feeble, or common, mind does).  I had two spirits yanking on his subconscious (or psyche or whatever label you want wish to address it by) like it was a tug-of-war.  Because deep down, everyone longs to be understood, but - importantly - everyone likes to imagine that there is a part of them, something inside of them, that they can keep from the world.  Everyone needs to be understood, but everyone fears the prospect of being truly known.


I stand up so abruptly that the chair beneath me tipped backwards, by the time it hits the stage you can't hear the impact from all of the raucous from the crowd.  But, like most crowds, they are not cheering because they have a victor, but because they have seen someone defeated.  No one cares that I won except for me.  I walk off the stage a smouldering bad-ass, like all the great champions do.  Everyone loves the callousness, lack of mercy.  I don't look back.  I don't look at anything, my eyes are running water from the exposure.

I win. No one knows me.  It will be an interminable night.

Listening to: Radar - Morphine
Reading: The Demon Haunted World - Carl Sagan

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Life without internet - no so great

Grrrr...the Quill Studios computer has finally given up the ghost.  Not a bad run, really, considering it was purchased in 2006.  Regardless, blogging and other creative endeavors have been temporarily sidetracked.  ScriptFrenzy project looks to be in dire straits.  Hopefully, a new computer will be acquired in one to two weeks.  Until then, we haz a sad.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going rouge, in a nerdy kind of way

April is here, the treacherous first day in the rear view mirror, and the time is right for Script Frenzy, brought to you by the good people over at NaNoWriMo.  And let's face it, you don't want to one day end up in New York or LA without a script to had whoever lets it drop that they are a producer. 

If you don't have a plot for a script, no worries.  They have a random plot generator right on the home page.  The following plot was just suggested for my use:  "While undergoing an existential crisis, an over-caffeinated kangaroo breeder discovers a shocking use for spray cheese".  Sure, this plot is good, but is it "Springtime For Hitler" good? 

In a word: I'm not sure.

So I've decided to try a little something different.  I mentioned earlier about the idea of a Twitter novel; I've decided to try it as a - I'm not sure, I guess you could call it a Twitter event?  Stay tuned for further explanation of important details, such as how I figure out how the hell I'm going to pull this off, or if any Script Frenzy goon come after me and take my thumbs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Down With the Sickness

Sure, no one likes being sick.  Especially as sick as I was earlier this week.  But one thing that I tried to keep focusing on as my face rested on the cool bathroom tile floor was AfterSickness(TM).

In my experience, the days after I recover from an illness are among the most productive I ever have.  There's nothing like three days of bed rest to stoke the fires that lie smoldering inside you, doused by the grinding suffocation of monotony and the nightly lullaby of procrastination.

I'm up and around again, with all sorts of ideas bouncing around off of each other in my head, and with renewed vigor I'm determined to get them all down on paper...right after I change my profile pic on Facebook.

Listening To: Oh My Lover - PJ Harvey
Reading: The Demon-Haunted World - Carl Sagan 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two poems

Poetry...meh, I'm not much for poetry, but every once in a while something jumps into my head and I go ahead and write it down.  Here are a couple of examples.


The moon
fat and august
red like Mars
fat face of an angry god
lumbering over the dark horizon

lifted maybe by Sisyphus
up towards the wide
stretched out stars
of Orion

Drifting imperceptibly higher
less pronounced
so bright now I feel
the shadow's imprint
leaking running
behind me

I want that monstrous globe
to come down now
to roll across
this vacant landscape
nothing but dreams of ghosts
to mow me down where
I stand legs
like tree trunks stuck there

And now a small white
circle almost perfect
hangs in the sky
to light now for gravity
looks like it would fit
in my mouth


Ancient blacktop, crumbling
due to age,
oil stains, debris, I'd imagine blood
and tears and salt
and among these
glinting sunlight, sharp reflecting
clouds big in the windy sky
shards of urn, a broken serous neck,
the open mouth of a green glass vase
the flowers, though, are gone

Listening to: Munich - Editors

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dilettante Savant

There was a man who wanted to be creative.

More importantly, to be thought of as creative.

I think, he verbalized to a stark and empty windowless room, that I should want to come up with something new under the sun.

The only accoutrements in the spartan space he occupied were the desk as which he was seated, the chair on which he was seated, and an empty wastebasket, constructed on wire, which sat empty on the floor next to his feet.  The walls, ceiling, and floor were white, as was the tall stack of papers that stood imposingly on his desk.  In imperceptible crack in the ceiling let in the faintest hint of sunlight, the whiteness of the room served to amplify this meager offering from the outside world into enough brightness to fully illuminate everything.

Every thought that sprung seemingly from nowhere into his mind he would eventually track down, like a hunter in the snowy woods, to the den of its origin.  The helpless pups he slayed without mercy, then left on the trail of another scent.  This pattern continued endlessly, with the predictability of the four seasons.

And he died, his headstone a stack of blank white sheets.  Above his desk, a mote hung in a sliver of sun-ray, it's motion imperceptible yet surely it did move, if only one was patient enough to observe.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who Doesn't Like Pop-Up Books?

The kind of people who would kick puppies and cheat charities and snort veritable mountains of cocaine, that's who.

Here at Quill Studios, we are up to our eyeballs with ideas for pop-up books.  Well, maybe not eyeballs...but certainly our regrettable tramp stamps.  At any rate:  ideas?  We got 'em.  The know how, not so much.  Of course, we do book bindings, but we're not magicians or sorcerers or necromancing foul-mouthed gangsters.

 Stolen from Smidgy

You know who knows how though? Robert Saduba, that's who, smart guy.  Didn't think I had an answer, did you?  If you'd like more sources for creative pop-up book fun times, click here.

My man Rob has got all kinds of crazy pop-up designs, from crabs to castles to the Millennium Falcon.  That's right, you can make your own Star Wars pop-up book.  How cool would it be to get a cease and desist order signed by George Lucas?

Why not make yourself a pop-up book and find out?

Listening to:  Always on the Run - Lenny Kravitz

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I can haz a Tumblr

Quill Studios has a Tumblr! This is, of course, very exciting news, and should lead to amazing new e-opportunites (or as our marketing guy calls them: "eepportunities". The extra 'e' is for 'extreme'. Our marketing guy is kind of lame*.).

So why a Tumblr? That is one hell of a good question!  Tumblr seems like a bit of a cross between a full-on blog and a Twitter account...sort of like a blog for people without much to say.  I guess my reason can be best articulated by reading the following sentence aloud with your shoulders shrugged:  You've got to get yourself out there in as many media as you can, I suppose.

 *Not Michelle Malkin. I would never do something like that to you guys.

This guy explains Tumblr more thoroughly and diplomatically that I could ever hope to:

So what's next? I don't know...Pinterest maybe?

There, I saved you a trip to my Tumblr.

*Full Disclosure: I am our marketing guy

Listening to:  Rowboat - Beck

Monday, March 5, 2012

Twitter lit

Let me be frank regarding my loyalties:  Twitter people are my people. 

I've said it before:  Twitter fuels revolutions, Facebook lets you pretend to be a farmer.  There's just something about Twitter - I guess it's the freedom of the platform, the immediacy of the content - that feels right to me.  I'm not much of a talker; maybe that's part of it.

Yes, I have a facebook account, and it's a great way to keep up with friends, but it is by and large a time-wasting whirlpool of vapidness, a hub of digital navel gazing.  I view Twitter totally differently:  its' necessary brevity and ticker-tape speed doesn't really suit mopey self-reflection.  I can just dip in and out as I feel the urge.  It allows for a real frank exchange of ideas without all the superfluous social niceties that really do little more than drive me to distraction.  Did I mention that I'm a borderline Aspie

I have been told my comments on Facebook tend to be a bit "spicy".

What brought me to the subject of twitter, however, was something less than political:  fiction (Or, I don't know, maybe that's one of the most political things there is).  The idea to write a work of fiction on Twitter first came to me probably about six months ago.  And, the thing is, this would be just me making up things about myself - otherwise known as "normal Twitter" - no; I would tell a story from a character's point of view, having him relate his story through the medium of Twitter.  Turns out I wasn't the first with this idea.

I have started a rough outline and composed a few rough tweets.  I even set up a twitter account for the work, the ID and password for which I promptly forgot.  Before I set up another one, I think I'll get a little deeper into he planning stage.

Listening to:  Help I'm Alive - Metric

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rather Pedestrian

According to my recent observations, people just have no idea in hell about what the deal is with crosswalks.  Here are a few pointers to help everyone out.

For Drivers:
1) If you see a pedestrian standing on the curb waiting to use the crosswalk, slow down or stop to enable them to use it. Especially if the weather is less than ideal. You're in a climate controlled vehicle, they have snow down their shoes - you can wait for a few seconds.

2) Avoiding eye contact or otherwise feigning distraction doesn't excuse you from stopping for pedestrians. They're still there. If you're really so distracted that you can't see people in the crosswalk, you really ought to pull over and get things straightened out.

For Pedestrians:
1) Don't milk it. Just don't. That's a total dick move, and it makes it all the more tempting for drivers to speed through crosswalks leaving all your fellow pedestrians unable to cross the next time.

2) If you want to cross, look like it. Don't stand on the corner gazing off into space. That's what hookers do.

There.  Not that hard.  Am I missing anything?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In defense of the Somewhat Indefensible Elisabeth Grant

At first blush, everything about Lana Del Rey screams "fake". A wannabe posuer. Psuedo-hipster Astroturf.

So of course right away I want to not like her.  After her performance on SNL last night - which I'll get to in a moment - I performed a cursory web search that yielded the following results.
  • the fact she's the daughter of an internet millionaire
  • in spite of the fact that her dad was a millionaire,  claims to have lived in a trailer home and was barely able to afford Cocoa Puffs, which is I guess a weird way of saying you're having trouble making ends meet?
  • the fact that she admits that her stage name "came from a series of managers and lawyers over the last 5 years..." (source: )
  •  her first album has mysteriously vanished (a la Alanis Morissette)
  • and of course rumors of plastic surgery
First off, I cannot confirm the fact that her dad is indeed an incredibly wealthy man; judging from his website, he kind of seems like a guy who just did alright for himself in the shady field of domain name speculation and designing crappy-looking websites seemingly modeled off of his own crappy-looking website. And she does seem to have quite a bit of representation and management  for a girl who used to live IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER!!!! but whatever.  I certainly don't see any smoking gun indicating her daddy bought all this for her.  To the contrary, it seems like she had a wild streak and her dad sort of disowned her for a bit. That would explain how she could live in a trailer park yet still have a penchant for top-dollar breakfast foodstuffs, right?

The disappearing of her first album is pretty weird, but Alanis Morissette did the same damn thing.  Now that I think of it, many of the issues people have with Lana have previously been mentioned in reference to Alanis.  OMG - if you rearrange the letters in 'Alanis', you get 'is Lana'...they're the same damn person, I bet!  I mean, who has heard from Ms. Morissette lately, hmmm?

As far as the plastic surgery goes, I just don't see it (disallowing, for the moment, the very real possibility that she is in fact Alanis - then she'd need to have had the surgery). Her lips don't look that different to me; they just appear to be painted differently. I will wager that she wears a wig, though.

Now, back to SNL.

Having not heard of her before last night, I was not subject to any buzz expectations, however I, like Juliette Lewis, was a little underwhelmed by her performance of 'Video Games'.  In an apparently since deleted tweet, she was heard to remark:

“Wow watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like watching a 12 yearold in their bedroom when theyre pretending to sing and perform #signofourtimes.”

But Juliette is a Scientologist who supports Ron Paul for President and seems to post her every damn thought on the interwebs, so I take that with a grain of salt.  Plus she is a chicken shit and retracted it the next day. Have the courage of your convictions, girl! (Loved you in 'Natural Born Killers & 'Shit Grils Say', BTW) Let's move on.

Her next song (also, of course, her last, as you would know if you stayed in on Saturday nights like me often enough that you could basically be the show runner for SNL if you had to) was the one that got me.  And not just her singing, or the lyrics; no, was I really enjoyed was the musical sensibilities of Blue Jeans.

OK, I'll admit I have no idea WTF the deal is with her voice. Maybe she was just nervous.  But no one can accuse her of lip-synching like Ashlee Simpson, amirite? 

Now, of course, the lyrics are hardly original.  Hell, I'm sure you could probably pick every line in the chorus from another song. And the whole song reminds me a little of 'Wicked Game'.  But I don't care.  I just don't effing care.  Her key changes are interesting and exquisite. And she writes her own material, which is a huge plus in my book.

Here's a better version, just because I love you guys:

Oh my God.  That's the stuff - right when the music grinds to a halt after she says "end of time". Love it!