Monthly Archives: January 2013

January 2013 Goals: How Did I Do?

At the beginning of this month, I set a pretty ambitious set of goals for myself. I had planned to write or rewrite five short stories — two stories for friends to try out a commission scheme I had dreamed up, and a rewrite of three ‘fluff’ short stories that I felt I could do better with. That roughly equated to about 22,000 words or so, give or take a few.

There were a number of obstacles staring me down that I had acknowledged but thought would be easy to overcome. Further Confusion 2013 would be taking up a considerable chunk of time, but I vowed that I could find time somewhere during the convention to write. We would also have company staying in the Burrow before and after the con, but I didn’t think it would impact my ability to bang out a thousand words every day. We were also returning to work from the holidays, and who knows what would lie in store for us there?

Well, it turns out that confidence is great, but following through with action is much more difficult. Further Confusion took more than a week out of my writing time — even though I took my laptop with me to the convention every day, there really wasn’t much writing to be done. Not when there were so many people to see and so many things to do! I also thoroughly enjoyed the company we had the honor of hosting, and retreating to a quiet part of the Burrow to do something as anti-social as writing was much harder than I thought.

I returned to a very busy work environment that took a lot of my attention, and dear Ryan took ill for about a week after the con. It took us another week to settle down into our routine, and by then — well, January was almost over.

Out of the five short stories I had planned to have finished by the end of the month, I’ve only completed one. The rewrite of “The Big Game — Chapter 1” is put to bed, and I’m still working on Rask’s short story, “The Tough Fit”. It’s nowhere near completed, though. I hope to have it sewn up in a week’s time.

So I can only count this month as an unqualified failure, writing-wise. And what did I learn from that failure? Well, I learned that being ambitious is good, but being realistic is better. I definitely should have given myself an easier workload leading into Further Confusion, and abandoned all plans to get anything significant done. If I found a spot to work on a story? Great, but it would have been optional instead of ‘mandatory’. I’ll try to be more aware of such things in the future, and plan more accordingly.

Also, it might be nice to find alternatives to the laptop for writing — something a bit more portable and convenient. I do have an iPad, but without a keyboard or 3G connection, so I’m not sure how workable that is. A notebook is probably my best bet, but I’d need to get into the habit of writing longhand. My hand cramps just thinking about it at this point!

In a couple of days, I’ll submit my plan for February. But in the meantime, I have to apologize to the folks who were expecting stories out of me a lot sooner! I’m still learning as I go, and I have to ask for the indulgence of your patience a bit longer.

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Self-Reflection, Writing


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The AFI Top 100 Films: The Philadelphia Story (#51)

Entertainment 150The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart
Directed by George Cukor
Written by Donald Ogden Stewart (screenplay) and Phillip Barry (original play)

In the very first scene of The Philadelphia Story, we see wealthy socialite CK Dexter Haven (Grant) packing his bags into his trunk angrily. His wife Tracy Lord (Hepburn) follows him out, carrying his golf clubs. She rips out his driver and breaks it over her knee. In retaliation, he puts his hand on her face and shoves her right back through the doorway. It’s shocking, but the chemistry and comic timing of Grant and Hepburn are so good that it comes off funny instead of violent. And it wonderfully sets the tone for the relationship of the divorced couple as well as the movie based around them.

Two years later, Lord is preparing to marry an ambitious businessman (John Howard) even though not everyone’s sure it’s such a good match. Haven has his doubts about it, so he hires two journalists to cover the event — and hopefully ruin the wedding. Just to make things even more awkward, he arrives as a third unannounced guest. What follows is a carefully structured unraveling of the nuptials and everyone’s relationships, so that by the end of the movie even though some things are completely destroyed you have the feeling that everything’s been set right.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. So many things could have gone wrong here. Lord is a severe woman who could have easily come off as cold and mean if not for the wonderfully manic energy, warmth and vulnerability Hepburn brings to the role. Grant plays ‘old money’ down to a T, and even though he spends most of the movie sniping with Hepburn he comes across as affable and smooth. Stewart is the biggest risk here, as one of the hired journalists. I’ve only seen him in noble, nice-guy roles and here he plays someone who can only be described as a jaded asshole. Totally different dressing, but he wears it well.

All of the characters have deep flaws that aren’t only exposed for all to see, but dissected in detail. Hepburn’s socialite Lord gets the worst of it, and it’s no small feat that she comes away as well-regarded as she does. Despite the sniping and constant jockeying for social position, there’s a clear love that shines through between the characters, and I’d like to think this is because of the easy camaraderie between the principal actors. Hepburn, Grant and Stewart apparently never needed another take of their scenes, despite ad-libbing quite a bit. That’s even more impressive to think about when you watch the middle of the film, the alcohol-soaked party and after-party in which the flinty shells everyone’s wearing starts to dissolve. The revelation of character and the easy, organic comedy that’s given equal measure is truly a sight to behold.

The energy ramps down towards the end, once Lord has learned her lesson and the villain (as much as there is one) is dispatched. People start pairing off happily, and I have to say this is the weakest part of the movie. Lord’s character arc is strongest here, and it wraps up well enough, but there’s not much left for the other characters to suggest they’ve made the movements they need to take towards the film’s resolution. So a lot of the emotional notes ring false right when they’re supposed to be truest, which is a bit of a let-down considering how great things were chugging along before.

Even still, Lord’s arc is a really good one. In order to love someone properly, you must be aware of and accepting of their flaws. She wasn’t even aware of how harsh she could be until it was brought to her attention (granted, in a really terrible way by her absentee father) and she learned how to face the consequences of a terrible mistake she never actually made. Having someone leading her by the hand to show her a bit of grace was the very thing she needed to learn how to be graceful herself.

I tend to have a hot-and-cold relationship with the screwball comedies of old; sometimes the frenzied energy just leaves me behind and I simply can’t connect with anything on the screen. The Philadelphia Story is certainly quick, but it slows down to breathe when it needs to and some of the best scenes are when two people take a break to really get to know each other’s point of view. Everyone involved really knows what they’re about, and for the most part it gives the movie a breezy, effortless energy that carries it through quite well. Any fan of Hepburn, Grant or Stewart should definitely give this a look.

Rating: 7/10.

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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in AFI Top 100, Movies, Reviews, Uncategorized


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Further Confusion 2013

Fandom 150The break that I had threatened earlier was a little longer than anticipated — sorry about that. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for a number of reasons, and I’m just now getting to catch up with everything. There’ll be more about that in future blogs, I promise, but for now let’s talk about the reason I was away for so long — Further Confusion 2013! (Warning: A lot of these links will lead to places that acknowledge sex and alternate sexualities.)

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Further Confusion is a fantasy convention centered around anthropomorphics (“furries“) and its various interests. You can find people there who are into cartoons, sci-fi/fantasy novels, spiritual studies (totemism, etc), music, zoology and all kinds of things. Furry is an umbrella group that can accept a multitude of roads into its borders, and that’s what makes it so cool.

I was there along with my husband Ryan; our primary interest/niche in the fandom is writing, and it’s a great time to be a furry writer. The community is growing and maturing in really neat ways, and we’re finding niches being filled in our little ‘ecosystem’. There’s something for everyone, and a lot of our writers are trying to find ways to make a living doing what they love by non-traditional means.

There were a number of authors there to read from their work. Mary Lowd had a whole panel to herself, to read from her work. Kyell Gold held a panel to read from his latest novel, Divisions. Sofawolf Press — one of the biggest publishers of furry literature — offered a sampling of readings from three works that will be coming out in the future. One of them was from Ryan, who’ll be publishing a novel trilogy about a tribe of men and their relationship with the gods around them in mythic Africa. It’s a very impressive work, and I’m immensely proud of him for it.

I attended another reading from FurPlanet Press, a great publisher that’s looking forward to an impressive year. Watts Martin read from his novella, Indigo Rain, and another friend Kevin Frane read from his new novel Summerhill. Graveyard Greg read from his alt-universe novella Carpe Mortis as well. The stories I heard this weekend run the gamut from gay slice-of-life to epic fantasy to post-modern sci-fi weirdness to action thriller to traditional fable. And they’re all good!

A bunch of local folks put together a jazz band that held (I think) their first concert on Friday afternoon. I thought I would zip in for a little bit, but ended up staying for the whole thing. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they played together, how much energy and passion they had. It was easily one of the highlights of the convention — I really hope the Super Pack Jazz Ensemble puts in a return appearance next year.

Conventions like this one are really inspiring. I get to see a host of the friends I’ve made over the years, catch up on what they’ve been doing, and meet new friends who have a wealth of different experiences. Almost everyone you meet honors their creativity in some way or another — through drawing, writing, performing, crafting, DJing, coding, collaborating. There are leather-workers, button-makers, hypnotists, costume designers, and artists of every stripe. It’s hard to come away from the convention without being proud of this wonderful fandom and all the great people who make it up. And it makes you want to rise to the challenge of contributing to it in a meaningful, positive way.

So that’s where I am, and where I’ve been. While running around being inspired and meeting an entire crush of people, though, I’ve fallen behind on my own creative projects — quite seriously so. That’s all right. It’s a learning experience, and I think I’m in very good shape to press ahead with my writing.

Kotaku did a very nice piece on Further Confusion, by the way, if you’re interested in knowing more about it. A lot of the media coverage about furries is less than kind, but this one is fairly even-handed, if a bit bemused about our existence. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’ll be as open and honest as possible.

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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Furries, Self-Reflection


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Fiction from the Chimeral World: Monstrous

Writing 150(This is the latest bit of fiction for the Thursday Prompt published by the Furry Writers’ Guild. One of these days, I’ll remember to actually link to the prompt over on FurAffinity, but for now you’ll just have to take my word that it exists and that more people do it than just me.

The prompt this week was monstrous, which I thought immediately would be a good fit for some Chimeral World fiction. I gave it to a couple of beta readers for their initial responses, and they had pretty salient things to say. I’ll go over their input and try to edit this piece into something better in future entries, just to practice editing things and stumble through the process in the most public, embarrassing manner.

There won’t be blog entires on Friday or next Monday, I’m afraid — Further Confusion 2013 is this weekend, and I’ll be busy enjoying myself and drinking with friends. 🙂 I’ll be back bright and early on Wednesday with another blog entry or two.)

“I’m sorry, Matthew, but you are no longer in the bosom of God.” Aunt Cookie looked down at her white gloves, the smooth suede handbag that matched her shoes. “I don’t know what you’ve done to be punished like this. But you’re a monstrosity, son. You’ve lost your soul.”

For a moment, Matthew forgot how loopy the painkillers were making him, and that deep pain in his jaw the medicine couldn’t quite reach. He simply stared at the woman who couldn’t bear to look at him. Could this really be the woman who gave him the first Christmas present he truly loved? The woman who sang him to sleep during those weeks his mother was in the hospital? Was she really telling him that he was a soulless creature, that he wasn’t going to get to heaven?

He looked down at his laptop and considered typing his reply. Most of his head was covered in gauze at the moment; his jaw had broken again, and they were trying to give it some support while it reformed itself. Between the gauze and the pain, talking was simply out of the question. He couldn’t get into a detailed response with her, but he had no idea what else to say. How do you argue with someone who believes you have no soul?

Then where did my soul go? What’s been left to talk to you? Matthew thought it would be best to start there, supposing that she was correct. He had resigned himself to being unable to change her mind, so perhaps he could lead her to change it on her own.

Aunt Cookie startled at the sound of the computerized voice Matthew was using these days. She briefly looked at him, and he recognized a mixture of revulsion and pity in her eyes. He must have been quite the sight, mostly bandages marked by islands of thick brown fur. “I don’t know,” she said. “But Pastor Jenkins says that only human beings have souls. If you’re not human no more, then you must’ve lost your soul somewhere. And as for what’s left –” Here she looked down, fiddling with the fingers of her gloves. “–honey, I don’t know. Maybe you’re like a ghost, what used to be my nephew, saying the things that he would say.”

So my soul is already in Hell? Matthew could feel his heartbeat quickening in his chest, feel his ears slinking back over the thick wrapping that supported his skull as it fused back together. He could feel himself losing it, typing more quickly, making more mistakes that he needed to backtrack for. I’m being tormented for living the way my mother raised me, going to Church every Sunday, praying before meals and bedtime, for donating to charity? That got me Hell. And now I’m just some echo that doesn’t know what it is, getting mad for telling me so?

Aunt Cookie shook her head. He could hear his own breathing and heartbeat. He wanted to shout at her. Look at me. Look into my eyes and tell me that I’m in Hell. But all that would come out was a deep and awful sound, and he would hurt himself bad enough that the morphine wouldn’t be enough for a while. He had to watch her fiddle with her gloves, try to puzzle through her own shit, try to make it OK that she would never see him again.

“I know it’s hard to hear, baby. And I wish it weren’t so. But I didn’t make the rules, the Lord did. We all just have to try and abide ’em as best we can.” She took a deep breath and drew up her courage to look at him. “Somewhere along the way, you strayed from the path Matthew. Might’ve been when you went to college, or when you started dating that Godless girl. I know you’ve had sex with her. That’s when you turned your face from God. Now, He’s…He’s turned His back on you.”

She started to sniffle, and Matthew couldn’t help but roll his eyes. It was his life that was changing here. He had been the one forced to endure the endless parade of friends and family members unable to look at him, telling him goodbye by lying to his face, insulting him, telling him he must have done something wrong. If she expected some kind of sympathy or grace from him because it was difficult for her to disown him, she was about to be disappointed.

I never turned my back on God. I don’t think he’s turned His back on me, either. I think you have. You don’t want to deal with me because I make you uncomfortable. That’s what this is about. Justify it however you want to, but that’s what it is. I know it and you know it. Don’t bring God into your own moral failure. If you can’t stand by your family because it’s inconvenient, then that’s your problem, not God’s. Get out. I’m tired.

His bluntness shocked him. It scandalized his Aunt. She simply stared at him, hurt flickering over her face before she masked it with a fanatic’s righteousness. Matthew knew he wouldn’t reach her, but damned if he was going to let her make this something it wasn’t. He didn’t have the time or energy for that any more.

“The boy I knew would never have spoken to me like that. I…I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I’m going to pray for you. I’m going to pray that you realize the wrongness of your path and you do something for the salvation of your soul.” She stood up, clutching her purse in her gloved hands. The tan of the leather made her dark chocolate skin look almost black in comparison.

What God has planned for me he’s already done. Don’t bother praying for me.

Matthew watched her go before he shoved the platform the laptop was on away from him. Then he collapsed, ignoring the jostling of his pillows or the way his head moved disturbingly underneath his bandages.

People like his aunt would only find grace if they needed it themselves and had it shown to them, he decided. He had tried to have long conversations with his mother and father, his own pastor, his friends, a Theology professor from his school. None of them had any idea what to do about him. They seemed to seek their own comfort more than offer him anything. His entire support network had failed him, just like his body, just like his aching head. He could only hope that a new one solidified around him, like his body, like his aching head.

Matthew picked up the morphine controller and pressed the button a few more times. He was so tired. He didn’t want to feel anything for a while. He knew that in the morning, a doctor would bring someone else who wanted to tell him they were cutting themselves from his life, face-to-face. And then someone would change his bandages, touch him in his most sensitive spots to see if it was healing.

“Does that hurt?” they would ask. And as always, he would look at them in dumb disbelief.

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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Furries, Thursday Prompt, Writing


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The AFI Top 100: A Streetcar Named Desire (#45)

Entertainment 150A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Starring Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Marlden
Written by Tennessee Williams (play) and Oscar Saul (adaptation)
Directed by Elia Kazan

This one is definitely an actor’s showcase. Director Elia Kazan gathered mostly Broadway stars to repopulate their roles in Tennessee Williams’ intense play, including Marlon Brando and Karl Marlden, the two male leads. Vivien Leigh was cast as Blanche DuBois mostly for the name recognition, but after watching her in the part it’s really hard to imagine anyone doing a better job. She inhabits the role so completely and naturally. I’m a big fan of her in Gone With The Wind, and it’s easy to see this as Scarlett O’Hara’s fall from grace.

Scarlett would have never lead the life that Blanche did, however. DuBois arrives in New Orleans after leaving her teaching position at a nearby school in Mississippi. She says that she was asked to take a leave of absence to calm her frayed nerves, and it’s plain to see that she’s not well when she meets her sister Stella (Hunter). According to her, it’s losing the family’s home to creditors that’s caused her so much pain.

Stella’s husband Stanley (Brando) quickly butts head with Blanche, though. He doesn’t believe her story, and he’s put off by her Southern belle affectation. That mistrust grows when Blanche courts his best friend Max (Marlden), a honorable, gullible man. As Blanche’s facade is forcibly stripped from her, she crumbles more and more to reveal the truth of what’s happened. And that truth is incredible, given the time she lives in and the facade she works with. That’s what ultimately makes the story so shocking — the way Blanche presents herself is at such odds with the way she truly is.

Leigh is simply amazing in this role. You quickly get the impression that all is not well with Blanche, but you’re constantly surprised by just how bad things are. Each new revelation digs a deeper hole, and our understanding of her situation changes. The facade that she builds becomes more pathetic as a result, and it becomes easier to see through it. Even still, it’s quite impressive how she uses her fantasy as both a shield and a weapon, deflecting people away from the subjects she finds too messy and painful and driving them towards her strong points, her feminine wiles.

Only Stanley isn’t buying any of it. He’s crude but uncanny, and he really only has eyes for one person — his wife, Stella. They share an explosive relationship; he’s got a temper but an obvious love for his wife, while Stella’s both attracted to and exasperated by his wild demeanor. They’re well-matched, and you feel sorry for Stella as she’s forced to choose between her husband and her sister. Despite how terrible Stanley seems, you end up rooting for the relationship simply because Blanche is this bucket of crazy that throws cold water on something that’s clearly unorthodox but working.

It’s like being pulled into the destructive orbit of a dying star. Ultimately you’re watching an apocalyptic ending, but it’s far too pretty and engrossing to turn away from. You’re mesmerized through the wreck of it. And that’s entirely Leigh. A lot of people frame the movie as a battle of wits between Stanley and Blanche, or a passing of the torch from the theatricality of Leigh to the primal naturalism of Brando, but I don’t see it that way. I think this is really Leigh’s movie, completely and totally, and while the other three principal actors definitely hold their own she’s still head and shoulders above anything else.

The set is theatrical in its simplicity, but Kazan takes advantage of the medium of film by adding wonderfully subtle sound and lighting cues to illustrate Blanche’s mental state and how it differs from the way the world looks to everyone else. Stella’s apartment is wonderfully transformative for a place so small; it can look bright and airy, drab and crumbling, or dark and menacing depending on whose perspective we’re following. The movie has a wonderful, varied atmosphere considering that it all takes place in one location.

But the lighting and cinematography only serves the incredible performances that are being given here. A Streetcar Named Desire won three out of four acting Oscars for its year, and the only reason Brando lost out on Best Actor was because Bogart was in The African Queen that year. But still, the many nominations it garnered (including Best Screenplay for Tennessee Williams) are much deserved. The writing is incredibly crisp and layered, elevated by the instinctive performances by its crew, kept there by the atmosphere generated from the wonderful sets, lighting and music. Though A Streetcar Named Desire is pretty much the stage play on film, the performances and enhancements make that exactly what you need to put the material across. It’s a wonderful snapshot of theatrical acting of its day, and timeless due to the quality of the craft.

Rating: 8/10.

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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in AFI Top 100, Movies, Reviews


The AFI Top 100 Films: A Clockwork Orange (#46)

Entertainment 150A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Starring Malcolm McDowell
Written by Stanley Kubrick (screenplay) and Anthony Burgess (novel)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

There’s a lot to see in A Clockwork Orange that apparently isn’t really there. Numerous interviews with the author reveal that there doesn’t seem to be much thought behind a lot of the most iconic things in the movie. The Russian slang served a purpose, for example, but it was only meant to provide a barrier between the audience and the book’s violence — nothing more. Both Burgess and Kubrick disagree about what the story means, or at least we assume so. Kubrick was typically quiet about his meaning, letting the movie speak for itself. And in his later years, Burgess came to regret writing the novel in the first place, saying it had been badly misinterpreted and known for all the wrong reasons.

That could inspire another discussion on how a work changes when it’s given over to your audience, how the message can be warped in its receiving to the point that your original intention is lost. What do you do then? Do you patiently make the rounds, trying to explain your work to people who would rather see it another way? Or do you simply take this as the audience’s response, their answer to the beginning salvo of your conversation? It’s an interesting question, but pondering it gets us too far off-track. A Clockwork Orange is what it is, and at this point we can safely assume that our interpretation of the movie and its story is going to be different from what at least one of its authors intended.

Alex DeLarge is a young man adrift in a dystopian Britain. He leads a small gang of three friends, and together they beat and rob the elderly, commit acts of shocking, casual rape, and drink modified milk in a bar when they need to recharge. A falling-out with his friends leads Alex to be captured, and instead of jail he opts for an experimental technique meant to force a person to lose all taste for the urges that lead him to commit criminal acts. It works a little too well, and Alex becomes victim to the casual cruelty of the world that he moved through. Karmic retribution keeps piling on him, higher and higher, until there’s a breaking point. I think what happens there and afterwards is where you ultimately take the true meaning of the story, but if you haven’t seen the movie yet I’ll try not to spoil it for you.

The movie itself has so many iconic shots; the opening pull-back that begins with a close-up of Malcolm McDowell’s hard, challenging gaze (mascara done around one eye so that it looks like a dark star) and retreats to reveal his friends, then a strange room filled with naked statues and meaningless words floating by on black walls. There’s the contraption he’s forced to wear during his experimental conversion, his eyes held open by metal clamps, an assistant passively dropping fluid in them so they won’t dry out. The rape scene is particularly difficult in its implied brutality; Alex sings “Singin’ In The Rain” in a way that marries it indelibly to the awful things he’s doing. McDowell moves through the film like a force of nature, and Kubrick sets up a carefully-arranged, decaying world specifically so that his star can leave behind a ton of damage in his wake.

And whether it’s intentional or not, there are a number of interesting conflicts here. One of the first violent acts committed by DeLarge is because a bum is “old”, and thus especially egregious. I noticed how Alex and his gang of droogs represents this unknowable, energetic generation after your own, brought up in a world that you’re not plugged into any more. What makes Alex so shocking and so dangerous is the way he invades the inner world of his victims; first he pretends that he’s the victim of a car accident and his friend is dying in the road, then he barges into your home and punishes you for an act of compassion. He purposefully disrupts the order we create around ourselves, shattering our illusion of safety. He’s open defiance of an orderly society, an orderly life; he’s the reminder that something horrible can happen to you, at any time, for no other reason than the simple fact of your proximity.

Young, chaotic energy vs. old, ordered implacability. Ingenuity vs. the accumulated knowledge of time and masses. The cruelty of the individual vs. the cruelty of the state. They all exist within this movie, fighting each other until they’re subsumed or integrated. And really, it’s up to you what the whole thing means. Can people out of step with the rest of society ever be brought in line? Should they be? How far do we go in our efforts to protect the rights of the populace to build orderly lives, safe from random violence? How far should we allow the individual to push the fabric of society before we decide he loses his right to do so? A Clockwork Orange seems to ask all of these questions while offering no real answers; the ending seems fatalistic, suggesting that what we think of as two opposing forces are actually the same thing with different expressions. As they move through life, cruel men such as DeLarge and his droogs channel their thirst for violence through the machine of society, finding legal ways to do what they’ve always done. This is what really happens to the cruelty of individuals. The ‘cure’ is simple redirection, not disintegration.

At least, that’s what I take from it. What you take from it will differ depending on your views of individuals and what makes a man, and society’s role in the individual’s life. And that’s something that shifts all the time. A Clockwork Orange makes for a very interesting cinematic inkblot test, if you ask me; watch with your friends, and you’ll find yourself in a very surprising conversation.

Rating: 7/10.

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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in AFI Top 100, Movies, Reviews


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Werewolf: the Apocalypse Fiction: It Takes All Kinds

Gaming 150(A friend of mine has threatened to run a Werewolf: the Apocalypse game sometime in the indefinite future, and he’s been kind enough to offer me the chance to play a Gurahl, or werebear. If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s sort of a repositioning of werewolves as modern-day eco-warriors. They’re servants of the Wyld, one of the three aspects of Creation that govern everything that’s created, structured and then discarded. It’s very much a product of its time and has a few issues, but as a child of the 90s I have a great deal of fondness for it. There are more than just werewolves, of course; each species has its own job within the structure of Gaia’s servants. The werebears are healers, even though they’re a great deal larger and more terrifying than the Garou. 😉 Anyway, I have an idea for my character that I’m really excited about, and I wanted the chance to write about him for a little bit.

Thus, this exercise. The prompt is “it takes all kinds,” which didn’t actually make it into the story. It kind of takes a turn too fast, and I didn’t really get his personality down, but that’s all right.)

“My name is…my….name….is….” The man looked around the back seat of the squad car, as if looking for something that would remind him or something. “Arthur!” He shouted the answer, making Severin’s ears ring. “My name is Arthur.” He sat back, looking supremely satisfied with himself.

“Well, Arthur, would you care to tell me what you were doing inside the General Store with no clothes on?” Severin resisted the urge to look in his rear-view mirror. There was something mildly disconcerting about the huge, naked man behind him, and it wasn’t entirely to do with his nudity.

“I’m…I’m sorry. I had no idea it was necessary to wear clothes. People come into the forests and run naked all the time.” The man spoke with an accent Severin couldn’t place. Some cross between the odd inflection of Russian and the forceful syllables of German. He had the naked man pegged as some kind of foreigner, but he couldn’t imagine a place where people had no idea you had to wear clothes. Chances are the guy was being some kind of smartass, coasting on his foreigner status to get a break. Severin was not inclined to give him one.

“Yeah, well, if we catch them out there we arrest them, too.” He looked in the rear view this time. Arthur looked supremely unashamed.

“Arrest.” The big man tasted the word for a moment, then caught Severin’s eye. “Is that where you make someone get into your car and drive them someplace else?”

Severin rolled his eyes. Was this guy serious? If he was going to pull this kind of shtick, maybe it’d be best for both of them if he just played along. “Yeah, something like that. We’re going back to the ranger station, and you’re going to be in a holding cell. Listen, Arthur, you got somebody you can call?”

“Call?” Arthur shrugged, leaning forward to shift himself. The handcuffs barely fit his massive wrists. “I don’t know. Everyone I know is far away. Chances are good they won’t hear me.”

“Well, just call who you can. Something tells me you’re going to need some help with the paperwork.” They were coming close to the station now. Severin saw a pair of eyes flashing in the parking lot. It looked like the raccoons were back.

Arthur was silent for a moment. Severin looked in the rear-view again, and caught his eye. There was something about the man’s look that made him shudder. For a moment, he looked like he had nothing of civilization in him. “Do you smell that, man?”

“Smell what? I…listen, man, I don’t know what your deal is, but you’re going to have to knock it off. Just…keep quiet until we get in, and don’t speak until I ask you a question.” Severin didn’t like this situation. Insane folks were always attracted to the wilderness, but they usually didn’t last very long. They either couldn’t keep it together to gather enough food, or they were taken down by wildlife. There was something about this guy, though. If he was as nutty as he looked, there’s no way he should have lasted this long.

“There’s something wrong.” Arthur said, his voice a growl that sounded oddly natural. Severin turned into the parking lot of the ranger station. There were a number of creatures there, with flashing eyes and shadowy figures, and the ranger knew immediately that those weren’t raccoons.

“What the hell?” He tried to take a closer look at…whatever those were. The little creatures looked like moving shadows, even in the light of the open door. Their bodies looked to be made of liquid smoke, wisping and shifting in the air. He could hear an odd chittering, clicking sound even with the windows rolled up.

“I know these things.” Arthur’s voice was deeper, gruffer, wilder. It barely sounded human. Severin didn’t want to look back at him. He was afraid of what he might see.

“What the hell are they? Are they dangerous? Jenkins is in there.” He stopped in the middle of the lot, and fumbled with his seat belt. For some reason, his heart was racing and he couldn’t catch his breath. He shouldn’t be seeing this. He couldn’t be seeing this.

“Jenkins is dead.” The giant man growled from the back seat, his voice booming and far too close. “You will be too unless you stay in the car.”

Severin stopped, his head swimming. “What…what the hell is going on?”

He heard shifting and groaning in the back seat, the creak of metal. Whatever was in the back seat now had its arms free. “They are corruption incarnate. They are a sign of a diseased wilderness here. And they’re the reason I am here.”

Severin felt the car rock as the man in the back seat became a monster. He filled the space back there, and he squirmed to plant his feet on the car door. A quick push, and the door flew outwards, releasing the monster’s clawed feet out into the darkness. Severin looked behind him, and immediately wish he hadn’t. Whatever was back there was some unholy cross between a man and a bear. Claws and teeth and eyes flashed in the light as he made an opening large enough for him to fit through. He stood up outside of the car, towering over it, then turned to see the little man cowering inside.

“I am sorry about your car. It was very nice. Stay here, and you can continue to arrest me when I’m done. But first, I must heal this place.”

The shadows swarmed the bear, then. When asked what happened hours later, when the ranger was found on the side of the road, Severin would not be able to remember a thing.

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


Writing Through Rain or Shine, Snow or Drought, Feast or Famine

Self Improvement 150It’s common knowledge that in order to be a writer, you have to write. And in order to be a “professional” writer, you have to treat your passion like a job. This means adhering to a schedule of some sort, making sure that no matter the capricious moods of our muses we’re sitting at the desk banging out words. And it feels like I’m nearly there — that I can sit down and work on something every day.

It’s quite different when you have specific projects that you need to have done within a certain deadline, I’m discovering. Last year, if there was something I didn’t quite feel like working on I could go off and do something else — a low-stakes project that didn’t require a whole lot of thinking or worry. But now that’s not quite an option; if I wake up in the morning and feel a bit too sleepy to work on a story that ‘matters’, too bad. It needs to be done, so I’m going to need to do it anyway.

That requires an adjustment that I’m still working through. I’m behind on a few things already, including a Thursday Prompt short story that I wanted to have done today. That will have to wait for the weekend to be written; I already have my idea spun up and waiting, but I’d rather take some time to play with it before rushing it out the door.

On the bright side, this means that my three posts for next week are all spoken for. Ryan and I have made a commitment to watch an AFI Top 100 Movie every Thursday, so I’ll be reviewing that in a post here. Between that and the Thursday Prompt, that leaves one blog entry to fill during the week to keep up with my minimum. I think filling that slot with personal thoughts and progress on various projects is a good way to use that.

This weekend, I’ll be writing, reading a lot and probably watching Ryan playing Mass Effect 2. We have yet to recover from the holidays, so this will be an excellent time to slow down, clean up our apartment, and really solidify our plans for a great new year.

That’s the plan, anyway. I’m sure there will be plenty of wine in there somewhere, and a meal or two with friends. A rabbit has to poke his head up out of the burrow once in a while, after all.

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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Self-Reflection, Writing


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The Plan (January 2013)

Fandom 150I’d like to start off by wishing all of you a wonderful new year! I don’t know if any of you have made resolutions or not (I have), but whatever your plans I hope that you have a better year ahead than you did behind you. The beginning of the year is always an exciting cap to the holiday season for me. After celebrating our community, our friends and culture over the last six weeks of the year, we reflect on everything we’ve done over the past twelve months and look ahead to the next set. Now we’re here, on the other side of winter, staring down a year filled with promise.

Here at the Burrow, yours truly has tried to set himself up for success right out of the gate. I’ve made a few rather ambitious resolutions this year, most of which revolve around writing. My husband has gotten serious about his craft, and it’s paid off in spades for him. I couldn’t be prouder! Now I’m hoping to carry the momentum of my own progress to really push myself further than I’ve ever tried to go. I’m sure there’ll be stumbles along the way, and they very well might be up front. That’s all right. The important thing is to learn from my mistakes and keep pushing. Achieving my goals isn’t so much the point as striving for them.

This year I’d like to write (and post!) 25 short stories, with ten of them at least being submitted for publication somewhere. As a furry writer, I’ll likely try those zines first — I’d love to be published in Heat or New Fables, and there are other places to try. Maybe towards the end of the year, when I get more comfortable, I’ll try putting myself out there in other sci-fi or fantasy markets. I’m not expecting to get accepted right off the bat, but that’s hardly the point. The point is to create stories and shape them as well as I can, with the express intention of sending them off into the world.

I also want to make sure I keep this blog regularly updated, and with the ambitious writing slate I’m sure there’ll be an awful lot to talk about! There are a lot of readers out there who’ve found this blog through Buddhist and meditation sites, or simply by wandering through WordPress, and I’d like to wholeheartedly welcome you to this space. I’ll be speaking about my practice here, and writing in a general nature, but I’ll also be speaking frankly about sexually explicit themes. A lot of my stories will be adult in nature, so those themes might come up. I’ll try to warn you ahead of time if I’ll be talking about such things.

As part of my goal, I thought it’d be nice to kill two birds with one stone. At the beginning of the month, I’ll talk about my writing goals and at the end, I’ll talk about how well I managed to achieve them.

This month I have two short stories on deck, both of them for a few furry friends that I’d been meaning to write something for. They’re both rather small tales but that makes them excellent candidates for trying to be a bit more structured with my writing — I’ll need to be on the ball if I’m going to make my goal, and if I end up taking commissions for short stories (you laugh, but apparently it’s a thing!) then it’d be good to have a system for cranking them out.

The first short story is a fairly simple boy-meets-girl tale featuring a friend getting fitted for a tuxedo. The second short story is a macrophile’s story about two other friends being intimate and growing at the same time. Weird? Yes. But it’s what I do.

In addition to that, I’ll be dusting off a serial that I had last worked on — oh man, a year ago. I want to update the characters, rewrite the first four parts and pay a little more attention to the character’s personalities and interactions. Again, this is all more fluff, but playing around is a very good way to learn. Hopefully with this exercise I can learn how to manage large scenes and dialogue for very different characters. If everything goes well, the stories will be rewritten and posted every ten days.

So, to summarize, I’ve got five major projects for this month — two short stories that will count towards my total, and three rewritten chapters of a fluff serial that I abandoned a year ago. Not a bad way to try and stretch myself right out of the gate. I’m eager to get started!

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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Furries, Self-Reflection, Writing