clouds

Writer's Block: Half a Glass

Do you consider yourself an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist?


Optimist, pessimist or a realist?
Those options are too limiting.

In the fact that I am often pragmatic, I suppose I lean towards being a realist.
In the fact that I fully perceive the ill we humans do ourselves and the earth, I am a pessimist.
In the fact that I yet continue to live an breath, and can fully perceive the love, kindness, compassion and hope we are all capable of, I am an optimist.

But I am seldom more purely one than the other and as life is lived all three remain in a constant state of flux with each other.

Learn as if you will live forever, and live each day as if it were your last.

Scott
clouds

Night Thoughts

Well, I survived my sleep-over in the hospital’s sleep-disorder clinic.



I arrived fifteen minutes early for my 8 PM appointment, my overnight bag and my pillow in hand.

I entered the waiting room for the clinic to find a half dozen others, and I know they are all patients as they all have overnight bags with them, and a few, like myself, even have pillows. But of the clinic staff there was no sign. Well, okay, technically there is a sign, of sorts. A note is pasted on the glass above the checkout counter saying a staff member will be with you at about 8PM.

I sit. While we wait the gathered talk, comparing medical histories and discussed the weather, and four others soon joined us in quick succession.



At about ten after eight, a young woman with two clipboards in her hand opens the rear clinic door and calls out two names, then shortly after that another young lady appears and calls out two more.



After a bit another young lady, diminutive slight thing with short very dark hair comes to the door and softly calls my name.



As she leads me further back into the clinic, I can not help but find myself thinking of Mia Farrow, only this young attractive woman, with a demure smile and a hint of blush on her cheeks, tells me her name is Chastity. She is a waif of a girl, child like, and she makes me think of the fairy Tinkerbell, but with dark brunette hair.



She is openly pleasant and cheerful and we have an enjoyable conversation interspaced between her canned explanations of why she was hooking up this wire or that wire to my body. I ask many questions, but not about the procedure or the wires. She happily answers them. She is married, has two kids a boy age 4 and a daughter age 2. She works at the clinic three nights a week, pulling twelve hour shifts. She doesn’t mind working all night long as she is a night person and loves the dark and night sky. She says this as she kneels on the floor before me, attaching electrodes to my feet, and as she rises I can see it in her face, a certain rapture, and a certain element of the darkness of the night. Sometimes you can see it in people, the ones who truly love the night. It isn’t the pale skin of those not in the sun overly much, but something else, there is often a sense, and air of inner coolness to them, a coolness and a passionate inner stillness that whispers of silver moonlight and the feel of the air in the hours just before dawn. She has it in spades, I see it in her so clearly and I tell her so. She looks at me and nods in understanding, her eyes flashing joy and she blushes again, then she asks me what exactly it is I see. I tell her she looks as if she has the soul of the night about her, and the love of it.

Her eyes never leave mine, she smiles and nods again. “Yes! I do love the night! I have always lived in the night, ever since I was a child,” she told me, “- And all the jobs I have ever worked, beginning with my first job at age thirteen, have always been night jobs! I cannot imagine anything better.”

I smiled back at her, “I am a night person too, in many ways.” I tell her. “And there is something special about having been awake all night and then watching the sunrise.”

To which she responds, “Yes, but for me, sunrises though pretty, are sad, it means the night is done, and that I must go to bed.”



I asked her if her working nights was difficult where the children were concerned, who takes care of them during the day?

She told me her husband did, that he was currently unemployed but was taking on-line classes during the day. She said that the children used to go to a day care center, but that since her husband lost his job… She bit her lip, frowned and fell silent.

I stopped asking personal questions.



All wired up I took a sleeping pill and was soon asleep. I woke only once to use the bathroom, and the next thing I knew, there was Chastity’s sweet call for me to awaken.



Then there was again that odd intimacy as she leaned close as if an old an familiar lover, to disconnect all those wires and gently clean the adhesive from my skin. Once she finished, I dressed and left. But before I left I had to fill out an opinion form which asked me various questions about my impressions of my stay. Where it asked the question, “What was the most pleasant aspect of your stay with us?” I answered, “Meeting the staff.”



It was 5:40 and still pitch dark as I stepped outside the clinic and walked to my car. As I drove back across town, the first light of dawn appeared. I stopped at our local Waffle House, intent on rewarding myself with a Pecan Waffle.

There were two other gentlemen sitting at the counter eating their breakfast when I came in, and I joined them at the counter. A heavyset young woman with a bad pronounced limp came over and asked me if I knew what I wanted. “Pecan Waffle and coffee,” I told her. She nodded and poured me my cup then turned to make the waffle. She was the shops only employee.

Then she turned to me and holding up a mixture pitcher said, “We only got Buttermilk, is that okay?”

“Sure” I said, “go ahead”.

She poured the batter onto the waffle iron.



As she did the man next to me asked her, “You still working seventy hours a week? You still holding down two jobs?”



She turned to him, wiping her hands on a towel, “More, more than seventy, this last week it was seventy-seven!”



The man shook his head, “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t.”



“Well, the bills got to be paid, - bills got to be paid.” She paused and frowned, “You know, we got a young man works here, part time, only a couple of days a week, and he complains about having to work a full eight hour shift those days. He never notices I’m here hours before he gets here, or that I’m here hours after he leaves. And all he does is gripe about what a pain having to work a full day is.” She shakes her head and turns back to cleaning the counter behind her.



Minutes later she turns to plate my waffle and stifles and exclamation as she does, then turns to me, “Honey, I forgot to put your pecans in! I’ll make you another one.”

“No, just give me that one.”

“You sure?”

“Yes. It’s fine.”



Se sets the plate down in front of me. The waffle looks funny. I take the first bite, and then realize, it is a waffle made using the Buttermilk pancake batter. The waffle is flat and tastes like a pancake.

I eat it anyway. I drink my coffee.



She looks over at me and sees I’m finished and she nods, ”Aw, just go on honey, no need to pay, It’s my mistake, it’s on me.”



I insist on paying. She reluctantly accepts my money. She hands me my change and I put two bucks on the counter next to my plate and begin to walk out. As I am pushing the door open she calls out, “Have a good day sir! You have a real good day hear?” I turn back to look at her and smile, “Thanks! You too!” and I leave.



To the east, the sky above Green Mountain is blazing in the Technicolor glory of the sunrise, but old sol has yet to crest the mountain top. I pause by my car to look at it. It has been too long since seeing my last sunrise. I take a deep breath of the cool morning air, full of the baking sweetness that surrounds the Waffle House, I exhale slowly thinking about the limping woman inside who holds down two jobs just to get by, I think of sweet Chastity back at the clinic just wrapping up her twelve hour working “day” and who will go home and only briefly get to see her own children before she has to go to bed and sleep, and I think about how her husband must feel, laid off and unable to find work.



I sigh and climb into my car and head home. Natha is staying with a friend and is still sleeping. She will call me when she is ready to come home, but that will not be for hours yet.





It will not be for days yet till I get the follow-up visit with the doctor to find out the results of my sleep-over test, but I am not worried. I slept well and hard, thanks to that sleeping pill, and I know if the test showed anything serious, they will call me today or tomorrow. I think maybe they will tell me I am a marginal case. One that could possibly befit from the breathing machines like the one Natha uses, or the continued use of an oxygen concentrator like the one I have already been using, but that I could probably get along okay with out it. I will be surprised if they tell me anything else. We shall see.



In any case, I am thankful, thankful I do not have two small children and am unable to find a job, thankful my own wife does not have to work through the nights in twelve hour shifts to keep food on the table and a roof overhead, thankful I do not have an injured foot and have to work nearly eighty hours a week at jobs that keep me constantly on my feet. I may have a sleep problem, I may have Fibromyagia, I may be overweight and growing older, but I have so much else to be thankful for.

What I do have is that I have reached the place where I no longer have to struggle every waking moment, just to get by.

And I know, that with the economy going the way it has, and likely to continue so, that the weigh of this recession is hitting those like Chastity and that lady in the Waffle House, so much harder than it has hurt me.

And there is not much I can see to do about it.



And so it goes.
clouds

Coyotes

The coyotes have returned, - if they had even ever left us that is. I say coyotes (multiple) because they held a song fest in our yard last night at 2 AM. I’ve heard them singing together other times, but never so close as from my own backyard before, and hearing them this up close, I gotta say it is kind of a scary chorus to hear.

It is hard to know exactly how many there are in the pack, but as I looked out my window for them, I think I was able to hear at least four separate voices, though it is difficult to tell as each single voice would yip through several octaves fairly rapidly. I am certain I know exactly where in my back yard they were, but I didn’t bother to get out of bed to go to the window that looks in that direction, instead I knew their singing would not last too long, and it didn’t, no more than a minute or two. So I satisfied myself by just looking out the window at my bedside, without ever actually rising from under the covers.

Over the decades that we have lived here, we’ve known occasional visits from a coyote or two, but we only saw or heard them about once every three to six months, but here recently, in the last couple of months or so, we either see or hear one or more twice a week or more now. I think a family pack must have moved into a den nearby and I know of several places where that den might could be. I know of a couple of walk/crawl-in caves, and a long a rock shelf ledge with a maze of passages tunneling under and through it, and a huge boulder field area which is a natural maze of massive stones which holds several small rooms with stone ceilings, all which I’ve explored at one time or another. Some of these last, in times past have been used as forts and secret clubhouses by groups of children, but none have been used for such in a decade or more that I know of. Of course it may be that the coyotes are denned up somewhere in the greater wilderness area on the slopes of Green Mountain behind us. But I think not. A considerable area of suburbs and roads lay between us and Green Mountain for them to traverse so readily. We hear and see them all too frequently for them to be making that trip.

I’m curious to know where there den is, but not inclined to try and track it down. I’ve no desire to be the one who wakes a pack of coyotes from their diurnal slumber.


Scott
clouds

(no subject)

Logging in just now LiveJournal tells me my last entry was nearly a year ago, 51 weeks ago. How swiftly time flies. And I had had all the best intentions in the world when I first started this effort. I was going to write a little something in it every now and then, if not every day.
Road to hell and all that.

In a funny way, there have been little prompts, reminding me to write, I keep getting these little emails from various young terribly loney and loveless ladies in some far off place like Lithuaina or Austrailia or some such, all of these ladies begging me to please be thier very special Livejournal friend.
And I alwasy simply deleted those messages of course.
Oh, the first few I got I actually did track them down and look at thier profiles, and it became clear that the messages were nothing more than trollers.

Perhaps I will post more soon,,
  • Current Music
    nada
clouds

Visiting Yale

It is now 4:30 P.M. Monday 16 October as I begin to write this. I have spent most of the day out walking the Yale campus and up to about ten blocks or so in every direction from the main campus quadrangle (which is bloody huge and is populated by a number of large bronze statues). I dropped in to a great many of the little shops, book stores, cafes, art galleries, and specialty shops that line the streets everywhere. Exhausting, but I’ve seen a lot of great things and everywhere are the Yale students, and let me tell you, I’ve heard dozens of different languages spoken, and seen students from almost every nation I do think. And there must be close to two hundred little restaurants, cafes, bistros, grills, sandwich shops, bakeries, coffee shops, all within a half mile ringing all around the campus, and all within easy walking distance. If there is an ethnic or nationality related food you crave, there are restaurants here specializing in it. From Ethiopian to Creole, from Greek and Turkish, to Irish Pubs and Tea Rooms, from Italian to Mexican and from anyplace to anywhere. Indian, or authentic Pakistani, everything you can imagine is here. It is just bloody amazing. And on top of it all, just next to one of the several Yale’s Arts Halls, is the oldest hamburger stand in the United States, a very small rustic brick box almost two hundred years old. And everywhere, even in to that hamburger stand, the architecture is just mind boggling.

Al Franken is going to be here at Yale this Wednesday night to give a free program in which he will be speaking for about two hours and the general public is invited. I’ve been wondering if that is why Steven Spielberg is here or is going to be here soon. Mr. Franken is here at the behest of the Yale Film School, and Spielberg has always been a big supporter of film schools and of indy films. I think he may also be a good friend of Mr. Franken.

There is a ton of things going on in the arts around here. Plays, films, art shows and etc.
Something is going on almost every night.

You walk the streets in and around campus, and it is beautiful and surprisingly energizing. All around you are young men and women, all in their late teens to early twenties, and every one is as smart as a whip. And every one moves with a certain subdued grace that comes from both being in such a beautiful place walking these hallowed grounds so rich with history, and in the knowing that they are there by right of the fact that they are among the select few, that they are privileged to be there for the simple fact that they have been judged to be in fact the brightest and the best the world has. This is not snobbishness I speak of, but an inner confidence of very smart people who know who they are, know where they are going, and are intent on unleashing to the maximum the potential of the educational opportunities that surround them here. These are as I said the brightest and the best, and they are also the most motivated. And it is obvious too that most all of them know how to take care of them selves, or have been able to afford the being taken care of. It shows in their grooming, their clothing, and in their manners. Most shine like new pennies, flawless skin, straight teeth, clear eyed. Clothing may be radical or stylishly conservative, but whether the outfit worn is kicky, punk, artfully and intentionally tacky, or euro, every detail is well thought out, effectively implemented and every piece of quality and well tailored. And they know they are the future and all carry within, at least to the discerning eye, a core of iron determination to become one of those whose lives and works will be at those levels that will affect us all.

Yale is an amazing place. I told Natha I wouldn’t mind us having a little apartment above one of the nearby shops, just so we could be surrounded by this energy all the time. Living in the shadow of one of the nations highest places of learning, constantly in the midst of the brightest young minds of our times, and taking advantage of the cultural events that are constantly at high boil here would be a remarkable thing. But I do wonder if I could withstand it. Today, being on Yale campus, spending hours in its on-campus shops and huge bookstore/coffee shop, was like spending time breathing pure oxygen. Refreshing and stimulating to a huge degree, but how much of that can one take, how long can one sustain being so stimulated, and how long can one be immersed in that stream, that international river of bright culturally and intellectually gifted youth, before it starts eating away at one’s own ego like a river of acid? Perhaps not long. Or perhaps the stimulation would drive me to higher aspirations myself. I do not know, but I do know that as energizing as this visit to this land of Oz is, I will be grateful to slink back home again, glad to have glimpsed this vision into the magical milieu of this academic bastion, to have been able to peer into the heart of that fiery furnace of education where the bones of the future are being forged, and I will sink with relief into the comfort of my old couch and hear and feel only the energies being emitted from the soft warm purring of my ancient cat. It will be good to be home again when I get there. And right now, after a day of walking and being so heavily stimulated, a cat and a couch sounds pretty good.

Scott
clouds

Red White and Blues

It has, in many ways, been a difficult Spring.
Not that anyone outside my life looking in would see any hard or insurmountable difficulties.
A Richard Cory life I may seem to be living. But a dark and difficult Spring nonetheless.

Peering out at the world from inside my skin, I see the hardships and pains suffered by others, and know that most often and by any account, their problems far exceed my own.
I’ve no loved one lost this year, no disturbances of close relationships. I have no cancer or MS. And to the plus side, I have traveled some this year, seeing wondrous things, and before the year ends, will have traveled a great deal more.

And yet, and yet, the worm gnaws from within and all things bright and shining are dimmed and tinged with pain. A blight is upon the light of my soul.
Perhaps I’ve done too much this year, too much traveling, too much stressing.
Or perhaps it was the cold and sinus infection I only now seem to be leaving behind.
All I know is that for the last month or so, my Fibromyalgia has flared up, bringing weakness, fatigue and pain in all things. Depression too has been camping at my door, for depression is the right hand of Fibromyalgia. But even though I know chronic depression to be a chemical imbalance I still find myself wishing all to wistfully for simple oblivion, for the blessing of total surcease. It seems too often these days that the price of continuance is just too high. Extending the effort to do anything worth while seems to wholly tax what will and energies I have. I must constantly fight an uphill battle to keep from falling into the trap of total withdrawal.

Yet the desire to let myself fall inward upon myself is great, to turn away from all things and all efforts. Even small things are forced. Things enjoyed by most people.
A simple shopping trip to the store sometimes seems to take the same effort I think it would be required to hold my hand in an open fire, and part of me feels that this itself would not be so bad, for it is but pain, and perception of pain is relative. Another drop of pain in a bucket full of it would not add so much more weight to have to carry.

And pain sheathes everything. All sound, sight, and touch, fade and dim behind the red haze curtain of it. And under it all, the endlessly growing weariness of trying to maintain the increasing effort needed to keep pushing through that curtain, to just try to maintain the appearances of normality.

All life is a zero sum game. And I am losing interest in playing it.
But I know it is the chemical imbalance speaking, an imbalance that time and treatment may address, but even so, the pull of oblivion is great. So very great.
And all the while the grindstone of life continues to slowly turn.
  • Current Music
    the hum of the fan in my computer
clouds

My time of day

You Are Midnight

You are more than a little eccentric, and you're apt to keep very unusual habits.
Whether you're a nightowl, living in a commune, or taking a vow of silence - you like to experiment with your lifestyle.
Expressing your individuality is important to you, and you often lie awake in bed thinking about the world and your place in it.
You enjoy staying home, but that doesn't mean you're a hermit. You also appreciate quality time with family and close friends.
  • Current Music
    wind in the trees
clouds

Writing rant.

Rant ahead. Be warned. Rant ahead.


What is good writing? Is a bit of writing considered ‘good’ if it is concise, or evocative, or highly descriptive? Is it ‘good’ if we learn something from reading it, are entertained by it, escape into it? Is the whole of writing like any art, but merely a subjective extension of that old saw, “I may not know Art, but I know what I like!”?
Perhaps, but even if that is so, do we not owe it to ourselves, to our potential readers, to become ‘better’ at writing? But isn’t being a ‘better’ writer also highly subjective too?

A couple of years ago I decided that for the improvement of my writing skills I would embark on an effort to expand my literary horizons by going out of my way to read works I had been able to successfully avoided my whole life.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” The problem is, there are SO MANY ‘best’ books out there, and the list changes enormously depending on who you ask for advice. And over the last few years since making my decision I’ve asked quite a few folks. I listened to their suggestions and tried to read recommended works that were both broadly acclaimed and alien to my normal reading preferences. As a result my library has grown some with the addition of works I had never before thought to own.

All well and good, and perhaps, just perhaps, my writing has improved. But I’ve run into a real quandary. I don’t like them. Or a lot of them. You know what? You can keep Faulkner. You can keep F. Scott Fizgerald. The U.S. Grant autobiography fair to good, considering when and the conditions under which it was written, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poems I found alternately sweet, sickeningly sentimental, or just slightly boring, though at times I’d find a line or a poem that I truly loved. The collection of ancient Chinese love poems I found ranged from so-so to the sublime, depending I think upon who was responsible for each translation.

More current authors too have been grist for my reading mill. Most recent has been work by Annie Proulx. Someone backed me into a corner the other day (literally), stuck a copy of “Brokeback Mountain” into my hands and would not let me out till I has promised on my saintly Mother’s grave, that I would read it. “It will change your life!” they promised, “It is truly a life changing experience to read!” How could I pass up that? And they were sort of right.

So I read “Brokeback”, and didn’t much like it. I didn’t like the story (what very little there was), I didn’t like the plot (what very very little there was), I didn’t like the characters who populated the story (none of whom I could identify with or empathize with at all in any way and none of whom ever grew or learned anything). After reading the book I got the distinct impression that I had been loaded up on the way a friend will take a bite of a fish dinner, then spitting it out declaring it terribly spoiled, but insisting at the same time that YOU must take a bite too. This smells bad, here, you smell.

When I had finished reading “Brokeback” I came to a couple of conclusions about Annie Proulx. She does not like men. She does not like men passionately, and in fact, she does not like much of anyone, period.

BUT, after reading “Brokeback” I went right out and bought two more books by her, a collection of short stories called “Heart Songs” and the novel for which she won the Pulitzer, “The Shipping News”. Why? Because of her writing.
Anne Proulx is an artist at metaphors and simile. I am in the process of reading her, or trying to, because of how carefully she chooses them and how carefully she tunes them, but that can be a negative thing too. I will explain in a minute.
But she is damn near impossible for me to read.

I am about half way through “Heart Songs”, but I do not know if I will be able to go much further. I may wind up giving both books away.
Every short story I have read so far in “Heart Songs” has been a struggle to get through, and I’ve had to force myself to read them. I really hate that.
Why? For several reasons.
The stories suck, and the people in the stories are even worse. The book so far has been one ‘tale’ after another of hopelessness and failure, the characters all without any redeeming elements whatsoever, not even hope, and each one more ignorant and baser in nature than the last and none capable of achieving anything approaching growth or self realization or becoming better in any way except through dying and they can’t even do that properly. Every one is a back country goober whose only expectation of ever having anything is to take it from others but who are so intrinsically ignorant and inept that they can’t even steal or rob successfully. Showing us the ignominy and baseness of this parade of wholly hopeless character living short brutish pointless pain filled lives in a crude and bestial manner is not a fun read. And believe me, these are the kinds of stories that after you read one you find you seriously want to take up a big stick and go find the author, or the publisher, or anyone standing near by to give them a dozen good licks while screaming “What were you thinking!” with each stroke.
Hate filled, spite filled stories. Stories written by a true misogynist. Truly I have come to think of her so.

But the very reason I bought the two books in the first place and the reason I am trying to force myself to read them, is also causing me to think I might not be able to finish them. It is her use of metaphors and similes you see. Both, when carefully crafted, selected and or honed, add such a great deal to a work, to a paragraph, to a page. I have read a number of interviews with Ms. Proulx and have listened to a few others, and I have noted two things. First, she thinks in metaphors and similes. It is evident from her personal off the cuff remarks. But that also after she writes a draft, she goes back and rewrites several times to tune and pare them down to fighting strength.

Now, her metaphors and similes have this great ring of truth to them, and when you read them they are absolutely perfect for the use in which they are employed. Which is why I bought the books, so that I may study the fineness in their selection and the sharpness of their honing. But there are just two many of them to deal with.
Now it is one thing to find oneself admiring a turn of descriptive phrase every now and then, but when Annie gets rolling sometimes there are three or four of them in some remarkably short sentences, remarkably short considering the number of turns of phrases they hold that is. And it just irritates the hell out of me.

Now look, a real zinger of a metaphor is one that you read and it has such a ring of truth to it that it seems a perfect fit. And almost all of hers are, perfect fits. Many folks read them and are informed, never really noticing that she just told them the rising and falling of the axe head glinted a sardonic metal smile against the sky. They almost never stop to think about the curved edge of the blade, smiling at them, they just SEE it.
Which makes it powerful writing.
But as a writer, trying to pay attention to how the woman has crafted her tales, I find I have to stop and study at each, to see how the words are put together. And when she packs in three or four a sentence I find myself increasingly resentful.

The thing is, if at Xmas time you visit someone and they ask you “What do you think of my Xmas tree?” you can be assured they are not asking you if you think they bought the right kind, nor are they asking you to look at the trunk, branches or needles of their tree.
They are asking you to look at all the shiny doodads they literally covered the actual tree in. For myself as a writer, I have found that Annie Proulx has taken a mesh of chicken wire and wood slats, has cobbled them together into stories that are roughly tree shaped and then blanketed the surface of them with shiny doodads. Layers and layers of them.
Enough to hide each and every strand of chicken wire.
And then she says, “Look at my tree!”
And you can still tell she really hates real trees. But she sure likes them shiny doodads.

I just hope I can wade through the mess of them.

Rant ends. Energy levels depleted. Rant ends. Resume normal activities.

Scott
clouds

Thoughts on Horror

With out a doubt, the discussion/debate as to what constitutes horror will pretty much be a constant among the members of a number of groups I know of. As will explorations the role violence plays in those interpretations.

As individuals and as a society, we can become desensitized to a degree to our revulsion to some acts of violence, that is part of the socialization process, but we can never become entirely immured for I think the heart of horror lay in the idea of it and the idea is ever renewed. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was replete with violence, and violence itself is elementally horrific because we are automatically repelled by an act that is at its core patently anti-life. And the movie contains I think the message to us that pointless violence diabolically carried out by the mentally deranged can be perceived and interpreted as horror, because the idea of that occurring, is itself horror. For some folks the mere hint of a ‘horrifying’ idea together with buckets of blood and pasta guts is enough, whereas others do not find the blood and guts near as truthfully horrifying as the knowing the idea can be thought up.

Let’s face it, some folks are adrenaline junkies, as are rollercoaster riders and risk takers of all sorts. With the first group, they climb into the rollercoaster knowing they will be safe, but those who skydive or go extreme snowboarding get a rush from knowing they actually may not come back alive. For them the risk is real, the adrenaline more pure and unalloyed.

To me, folks who go to slasher movies are riding roller coasters, but there is another kind of horror fan. One who ignores the blood and guts marathons, or at best sees them for what they are, a whistling past the grave yard while riding down the street in your car in broad daylight. But there is that other horror fan, the one that visits the graveyard at night, strides through the dark and into a cold dank mausoleum, walks up to that big silent hulking thing crouching in the corner, and with one insistent finger keeps poking that dark thing in the eye.

There will always be those decrying that there is too much violence in the world, too much in our movies, video games and in the headlines of our newspapers. And in a sense, that will always be so. Regardless of what the actual count of violent acts in any of those mediums may be over time, violence is part of life. The thing is, I see horror as a kind, a form, of pain. And we should all be thankful for the gift of pain for the world is a rough place and if we could not feel pain we would damage ourselves irrevocably.

And so, we debate the violence of imaginary madmen, but we know real madmen be out there, men who think we be the mad ones. Men who think real violence will cure our madness. Or their own.

Those gory fairy tales of yesteryear, I read many of them as a child. Not the ‘safe’ version of ‘The Brothers Grimm’ for me. For it was soon after I began to read that was I given a copy of that book, a copy that had been my own grandfathers when he had been but a lad. A copy of a book with teeth. The stories disturbed me, gave me a nightmare or two, but I learned that evil is possible, that terrible things happen sometimes, even to the prepared. And I learned indirectly a bit more about that thing in the corner.

The thing in the corner. In slasher movies it is presented as but a caricature, a man in a mask in a Halloween fun house making us stick our hands into a bowl of wet pasta and grapes. But in our newspapers, we half see the unblinking burning eyes of that thing in the corner as he stares out at us between the bars of the columns on the page and we know he waits for us in that darkened crypt.

And we know that beyond that crypt and that thing in the corner, is a darker place, full of greater monsters yet, monsters whose presence can be broadly felt and but only dimly perceived, if perceived at all. Monsters who be so great when they ponderously and slowly shift about they cause our very world to slowly undulate but on such a scale so great as to go unnoticed by most of us, save perhaps at our deepest most instinctual level, or only through a great dint of refined perception. When one’s ear is straining to hear such shiftings at the feet of the earth, the noise of the rollercoaster is ignored.
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