Friday, November 30, 2012

Hugh Dillon says...

'She said, she'd give me some kind of sign, I guess she did, I'm happy she's still alive, Mother said, respect that decision, I guess I do, I don't, well I'm still here and I'm still itchin, they lined em up, then they lined up just to see him, I just don't see the point if he ain't here and he ain't breathing, can't stand up, well hell you know I could, they lost it all, but to me what good is hindsight...If you say you will, how can I know you won't, I just can't wait around til everything I know is gone, let em up, get myself out of storage, that fire's burning blue but singing orange, clocking time, slim chance is all you need, in living, dying trying to find a life with guarantees, to know what it's like to stand up and walk away, to know what it's like to see someone else lose everything.'

- Hugh Dillon ('Hindsight',Teeth and Tissue, The Headstones, 1995)

The Narrator of 'Haunted' says...

'The rest of the disaster wasn't our fault. We had no reason, none whatsoever, to bring a chainsaw. Or a sledgehammer or a stick of dynamite. Or a gun. No, on this desert island, we'd be completely, completely safe. Before sunrise, on this sweet new day we won't ever see happen. So we'd been led to believe. Maybe too safe. It's because of all this, we brought nothing that could save us.'

- The Narrator (Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk, 2005)

'Ensemble': Character Voices

When I originally conceived the voices of the main 6 narrators in my novel-in-progress Ensemble, I thought it would be helpful to do a character sheet for each, along with a quick monologue to establish the voice of each character. This way, no matter how long I let this damn idea sit, I could always return and get their voice back in my head. Today, I thought I'd share these character quotes, leading into larger excerpts to come.

Oliver Saint: 'A girlfriend? I beg your pardon. I can just see myself now, sitting out in my car, waiting for hours while she gets herself all pretty. I'd stay up all night like a softy, all paranoid that she's sharing a bed with another. Dealing with all the unpredictability, all those emotions. Listen to me, a puzzle is never late. A calculator is physically incapable of cheating. A equation does not sporadically cry all over the place. A girlfriend? Please.'

Sullivan Hyde: 'Don't keep no pictures. Only one i need's stapled to the backa my eyelids so i'll never never never forget. They don't make Pure like her no more. Hair like starshine, eyes like wonder, freckles like...her lips little pink gummy worms, a brain bigger than mine. Smile that could put evil to rest. Hands like...fingers like angel feathers. Don't make Love like her no more.'

Walter Blank: 'Fixed four today. All broken all the same way. Had a turkey sandwich for lunch. Dry bread, wilted lettuce. Almost rear-ended someone in traffic, again. Fell asleep at the wheel for just a moment. Should have stayed there, no dreams where I was. Of course I love you, my dear. Let's say grace.'

Georgia Nickels: 'Oh, I try to avoid the spotlight, I do, but they always seem to find me. This poor man, waiting outside the office. He says his wife is up and gone, gone since yesterday, gone. He says she never does this, it's all fishy, he says he's scared. He says the cops won't help, she's just gone. What I don't say, what I've known spot on since I saw this poor man six days ago at a coffee shack, is that his poor wife is facedown in a marsh. There isn't any good reason for it neither. What I know is that I could have told this man at the coffee shack, or I could have told him at the office, but he'll find out just like everyone else does: when the paper hits his porch tomorrow morning. She'll be a Jane Doe, and he'll read about her like anyone else. I owe him his peace of mind just as much as I owe anybody else, it doesn't change the rules though. What I know is that nobody really wants to know.'

KC Kotton: 'So, of course, I'm attending this whatever party in some lame-ass house that I'll probably, like, buy and tear down one day, and I'm sitting right on Mickie's lap, moving just right as to get his 'attention', and obviously money for liquor, when this little cereal bitch who's like a day over 7 comes bippity-bopping up to us like Mickie's actually going to notice, and this little doll-faced bitch really, truly, compliments Mickie's, my boyfriend's, watch, which of course I bought for him, with his credit card, and the dense fucking moron says, 'Thank you,' so I'm like, 'Micks baby, get me another drink,' and I pour my daiquiri right down this little lip-gloss princess's dress, and I'm all like, 'Bitch, this gold's already got a minor,' swear to God, bitch'll be sucking balls for toilet paper by the time she's 10.'

Memphis Mayfire: 'This business, what it all comes down to is the do's, is the don'ts, and it really all just depends on how much cock came your way in high school. These loose-topless-table-dancing-footvall-team-hot-potato-daddy-never-loved-me-just-my-cute-little-ass-cum-dumpsters, they've heard of 'don't' like they've heard of spitting. Yeah, never. My first date was after I moved away from home. I'll tell you what I don't do: Don't do vag, don't do chicks who are better looking than me, don't do bodily fluids other than the white stuff, and never ass to mouth. Do slap me, do bite me and choke me, do try to rip me apart up the middle, but don't ever call me a 'whore'. Or anything other than 'Princess'. Why hire me? I've had a cucumber up my ass this whole time we've been sitting here and neither you or I have noticed. You find a vag-sex gal that can fuck a vegetable or cock with even half the enthusiasm I show. But hey, takes all kinds, right?'

This is original writing from a novel-in-progress titled Ensemble. Please credit this work to the creator, Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

Stan Marsh says...

'You see, I learned something today. At first I thought you were all stupid, listening to this douche's advice, but now I understand that you're all here because you're scared. You're scared of death and he offers you some kind of understanding. You all want to believe in it so much, I know you do. You find comfort in the thought that your loved ones are floating around trying to talk to you, but think about it. Is that really what you want? To just be floating around after you die, having to talk to this asshole? We need to recognize this stuff for what it is. Magic tricks. Because whatever's really going on in life and death is much more amazing than this douche.'

- Stan Marsh (voiced by Trey Parker, 'The Biggest Douche in the Universe', written by Trey Parker, South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, 2002)

Randy Marsh says...

'Stan, as you get older, boobs, these 'ahta', will start becoming a major part of your life. But Stanley, you can't let them get in the way of your friends. There are a lot of boobs out there, son. But they're just boobs. Your friends are forever. I know you think this set of boobs is important now, but those boobs will be replaced by another set of boobs. Boobs will come and go, and then someday, you'll meet a pair of boobs that you want to marry. And those become the boobs that matter the most. If you can just understand that, Stanley, you'll see that boobs hold no real power at all.'

- Randy Marsh (voiced by Trey Parker, 'BeBe's Boobs Destroy Society', written by Trey Parker, South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, 2002)

Reverend Lovejoy says...

'This so-called new religion is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants, designed to take away the money of fools. Now let's say the Lord's Prayer 40 times, but first, let's pass the collection plate.'

- Reverend Lovejoy (voiced by Harry Shearer, 'The Joy of the Sect', written by Steve O'Donnell, The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening, 1998)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Linus Van Pelt says...

'I need my blanket! I admit it! Look at all of you, who among you doesn't have an insecurity? Who among you doesn't depend on someone, or something, to help you get through the day? Who among you can cast the first stone? How about you, Sally? You with your endless sweet babboos. Or you, Schroeder, you with your Beethoven, Beethoven, Beethoven! And you, Lucy, never leaving Schroeder alone, obsessing over someone who doesn't care if he ever sees you again. What do you want! Do you want to see me unhappy? Do you want to see me insecure? Do you want to see me end up like Charlie Brown? Even your crazy dog, Charlie Brown, suppertime, suppertime, suppertime, nothing but suppertime, 24 hours a day! Are any of you secure!'

- Linus Van Pelt (voiced by Austin Lux, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, written by Craig Schulz and Stephan Pastis, 2011. Charlie Brown was created by Charles M. Schulz)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Anthony Bourdain says...

'It's a gaze of wonder: the same look you see on small children's faces when their fathers take them into deep water at the beach, and it's always a beautiful thing. For a moment, or a second, the pinched expressions of the cynical, world-weary, throat-cutting, miserable bastards we've all had to become disappears, when we're confronted with something as simple as a plate of food. When we remember what it was that moved us down this road in the first place.'

- Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain, 2000)

Photography: Food!


There are a few obvious benefits of having a brother who has dedicated his life to the culinary arts. First, he loves to feed people, and I'm a person. Second, in the spirit of about a million cooking competition shows, he loves a good challenge. And third, while cooking with him, I learn tons of new flavour combinations and techniques.

Late October and November is a busy time for my family, with my birthday, my sister's birthday, her husband's birthday, and their wedding anniversary all landing within a couple of weeks of each other. So, for the past 4 years, we've come together for a family celebration in which me (entree), my sister (appetizer), and her husband (dessert) come up with a food-based challenge for my infinitely talented and creative brother to execute for the birthday/anniversary dinner.

Three years ago, the challenge was to make a bite-sized dish for each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Two years ago, he turned kids birthday party favourite into gourmet dishes that adults would love. Last year, he randomly chose from a chart of Region/Feeling/Protein (for example, Lazy Indian Lamb) for his inspiration. And this year, I decided that I'd keep it super simple, what do I most want to eat? The answer was Meditterenean, a challenge that was more about the flavours than the tricky gimmicks. My sister chose root vegetables for the appetizer, and her husband went with maple for the dessert.

Although I'm one of the ones being celebrated, part of the gift for me is the chance to play sous-chef and prepare the meal with my brother. Yesterday, I joined him in his kitchen to throw together one of the best meals I've ever tasted in my life. Along the way, I took pictures of the process and the results. Fellow food-lovers unite and enjoy this delicious imagery.

These dishes were conceptualized and cooked by Jeffy Fantastico, photographs taken by Chessterr Hollowberry

Maddy Spencer also says...

'To be honest, I keep wishing we could all talk. Chew the fat. And, yes, I know that wishing is another symptom of hope, but I can't help it. As we amble along, trudging over steaming brimstone beds of sulfur and coal, I want to ask if anyone else feels an intense sense of shame. By dying, do they feel as if they've disappointed everyone who ever bothered to love them? After all the effort that so many people made to raise them, to feed and teach them, do Archer or Leonard or Babette feel a crushing sense of having failed their loved ones? Do they worry that dying constitutes the biggest sin they could possibly commit? Have they considered the possibility that, by dying, each of us has generated pain and sorrow which our survivors must suffer for the remainder of their lives? In dying - worse than flunking a grade in school, or getting arrested, or knocking up some prom date - perhaps we've majorly, irreversibly fucked up. But nobody brings up the subject, so I don't either.'

- Maddy Spencer (Damned, Chuck Palahniuk, 2011)

Maddy Spencer says...

'My point is, I've made my entire identity about being smart. Other girls, mostly Miss Slutty Vandersluts, they chose to be pretty; that's an easy enough decision when you're young. As my mom would say 'Every garden looks beautiful in May.' Meaning: Everyone is somewhat attractive when she's young. Among young ladies, it's a default choice, to compete on the level of physical attractiveness. Other girls, those doomed by hooked noses or ravaged skin, settle on being wildly funny. Other girls turn athletic or anorexic or hypochondriac. Lots of girls choose the bitter, lonely, lifetime path of being Miss Snarky Von Snarkskis, armored within their sharp-tongued anger. Another life choice is to become the peppy and upbeat student body politician. Or possibly invent myself as the perennial morose poetess, poring over my private verse, channeling the dreary weltschmerz of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. But, despite so many options, I chose to be smart - the intelligent fat girl who possessed the shining brain, the straight-A student who'd wear sensible, durable shoes and eschew volleyball and manicures and giggling. Suffice it to say that, until recently, I had felt quite satisfied and successful with my own invention. Each of us chooses our personal route - to be sporty or snarky or smart - with the lifelong confidence that one can possess only as a small child.'

- Maddy Spencer (Damned, Chuck Palahniuk, 2011)

Note: This passage is an example of a male writing in the voice of a female. Although I've seen some great examples of a gender-swap narrative, it's never an easy task for a man to be able to accurately write a convincing female voice. There's how we think girls think and act, then there's how girls think that they think and act, and those are usually two very different things. I really like this passage because, although it is pretty obvious that it's a 40something male writing as a teen girl, I think Chuck proves that he has a good understanding of female insecurities and the difficult challenge of a teen girl finding her own identity. But then again, I'm just a male myself, so what do I know!

Ewan Currie says...

'Okay now, let's try to be cool, cause I'm fading fast as day turns into night, if I could walk one minute with you, then I'd be alright, everything's so clear I see through, I see wrong making way for the right, but I can't see the colours of you, I see in black and white...Trip across the floor back to you, might as well pack it in for the night, you can't find me when you're needing help, you know I'm out of sight, let's let our evil hang through, pitch black even under the light, you know I'd never do ya harm, but then again I might...I got a feeling that I can't understand, I go numb at the touch of your hand, you got me looking for something new, but tonight, I fade along with the light.'

- Ewan Currie ('Tonight', Trying to Grow, The Sheepdogs, 2007)

Neil Gaiman says...

'The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it, honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.'

- Neil Gaiman (Rule #8, 'Ten Rules for Writing Fiction', The Guardian, 2010)

Introduction to 'Ensemble'

A story like this, where would you begin? What about the mood, the tone? How would you even tell a story like...this? There's no audience, no way is there an audience. You've have to be as lonely, psychotic, sad, wise, greedy, and dead as these characters to even begin to understand. It could have happened to anybody, it's already happening to everybody, it hasn't happened at all. So where do I begin?

Does the story begin with Georgia Nickels staring at the stars, figuring out the future, seeing all that's coming? How about with that ferocious little devil, KC Kotton, at one of her auditions? They say eight years old is the perfect age for a proper childstar, seems she's been eight forever now. I might start with poor poor Sully Hyde, dead on the carpet. There's a punchline to this story, without one I wouldn't be wasting your time with it.

I could begin by telling you about the first time Walter Blank's eyes met Memphis Mayfire's glory, albeit through a television screen. But he could never tell the difference anyway. All of this, the whole of it, really, came from Memphis, flat on her back, legs pointing toward the sun, staring at those all too neutral creme coloured walls of a clinic you'll never hear about. But how could I overlook the hero of heroes, Oliver Saint? Alone, because he has to be, a survival tactic. He molds history and controls the future. So maybe, it all starts with the moment that his plans fail. Back on day one, there's no way he could have known, not any one of them could have known.

And how did I come to know all this? Well, a story like this, it exists anywhere you look. This is a true story, and I imagined it. I imagined this, and it's a true story.

(End of Excerpt)

This is original writing from a novel-in-progress titled Ensemble. Please credit this work to the creator, Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

'Ensemble': A Brief Explanation

For most of my life as a Writer, I've been most comfortable writing short fiction. Think of the narrator's voice, think of the other characters, think of a plot arc, a series of scenes, some dialogue, an ending, and you've got yourself a nice self-contained narrative that you can lose yourself in for a little while. The idea of writing a novel is much more...intimidating. I'm not just creating characters and stories for a few dozen pages, there needs to be enough meat and potatoes to warrant hundreds of pages. Now, over the years, I've had a lot of inspiration for all kinds of stories, but only one that I've felt was a 'golden ticket' novel idea. That idea is a novel-in-progress titled Ensemble.

Of course, I won't give away too much about the specific plot. Number one, to protect my novel idea, and number two, so that my would-be audience doesn't already know exactly how the story plays out before it's even written. I will, however, give you a mock back-of-the-book version, the quick write-up, a teaser summary:

Oliver Saint is a by-the-numbers control freak. Sullivan Hyde has lost his family and spends his days acting like a child. Walter Blank is a middle-aged married man who has let one tragedy from his past dictate his entire life. When these three men have a chance meeting, it becomes clear that they all have one thing in common: an obsession with a female who they believe is the key to their happiness. When a psychic, a porn-star, and a children's TV sensation become the targets of a ridiculous kidnapping scheme, 6 lives will never, ever, ever, be the same.

With 7 narrators (the 6 main characters and an omniscient overall narrator), this is easily my most ambitious idea, which is probably why I've taken so long to actually commit to writing the damn thing. However, I feel like the novel's themes, about pop culture obsession and how cruel we can be to each other in order to get what we want, are becoming more and more relevant as time goes by. And yeah, my writing idol Chuck Palahniuk (especially his novel Haunted) was a huge inspiration for this story, but I do my best to find my own narrative voice rather than just rip off the writers I love.

Over the next while, I'll be posting excerpts from Ensemble, with the hopes of motivating myself to keep working on it, and obviously, to spread my words across this internet landscape. I know, I know, every aspiring writer has his or her one big amazing novel idea, but I feel like if I can write this thing the way it sounds in my head, it'll be a success, and likely the best thing I've written. No pressure, though.

Boaz says...

'Just because something feels better than anything else, that don't mean it's good for you.'

- Boaz (The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, 1959)

Brendan Benson and Jack White say...

'Yellow sun is shining in the afternoon, I'd really like to tell you but I feel it's too soon, my actions are dictated by the phase of the moon, the phase of the moon, the sun it isn't hiding when it sets on you, it's not a coward like me, and I know that it's true, waiting for the darkness now is all I can do, it's all I can do...And if the sun should follow us into your room, the courage will be robbed from me to tell you the truth, the setting sun is the only thing that's shining on you...And when I finally told you when the sun has gone, you're laughing cause I thought I was the only one, and the only thing that's left for me is the rising sun, the rising sun.'

- Brendan Benson and Jack White ('Yellow Sun', Broken Boy Soldiers, The Raconteurs, 2006)

Photography: Mother Sun

In these dark, cold, rainy days of autumn (and soon to be winter), who doesn't crave a little sunshine? If you stare at these long enough, you'll feel warm, trust me.

These photographs were taken by Chessterr Hollowberry at various locations in Maple Ridge, Deer Lake, and Abbotsford, British Columbia

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roy Batty says...

'I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.'

- Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, 1982, inspired by the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick, 1968)

Note: And, of course, Hauer improvised the 'tears like rain' part.

Anthony Kiedis says...

'My friends are so depressed, I feel the question of your loneliness, confide, cause I'll be on your side, you know I will, you know I will..ex girlfriend called me up, alone and desperate on the prison phone, they want to give her 7 years, for being sad..My friends are so distressed, and standing on the brink of emptiness, no words I know of to express, this emptiness..Imagine me, taught by tragedy, release is peace..I heard a little girl, and what she said was something beautiful, to give your love no matter what..I love all of you, hurt by the cold, so hard and lonely too, when you don't know yourself.'

- Anthony Kiedis ('My Friends', One Hot Minute, Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1995)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mitch Hedberg says...

'I saw a lady on T.V. She was born without arms. Literally, she was born with her hands attached to her shoulders, and that was sad, but then they said, Lola does not know the meaning of the word can't. And that to me was kinda worse, in a way, ya know? Not only does she not have arms, but she doesn't understand simple contractions. It's very simple, Lola, you just take two words, you put them together, then you take out the middle letter, you put a comma in there and you raise it up.'

- Mitch Hedberg (from Do You Believe in Gosh?, Mitch Hedberg, 2008)

Mitch Hedberg's 'Do You Believe in Gosh?': 10 Jokes

Mitch Hedberg was a one of a kind comedian. Sure, observational and one-liner comedians aren't very rare these days, but I've never seen another comic with anything close to the peculiar wit and comedic charm that Hedberg had. Unfortunately, bad drugs killed him back in 2005, but he left behind a lot of material to laugh at and appreciate. A major aspect of Mitch's comedy comes with his pacing and delivery, so I definitely recommend listening to his albums or watching his DVDs. But, for the purposes of this post, I've chosen 10 jokes from his Do You Believe in Gosh? album that are hilarious no matter what. If you like Mitch Hedberg's approach to comedy, check out Steven Wright and Stewart Francis.

And now, here are 10 jokes from Do You Believe in Gosh?, have fun laughing at this ridiculous world we live in. You died too soon, Mitch!

'I can read minds but, it's pointless cause I'm illiterate.'

'If I had a dollar for every time I said that, I'd be making money in a very weird way.'

'Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or just a really cool opotamus?'

'I saw a sheet lying on the floor, it must have been a ghost that had passed out... So I kicked it.'

'I have a vest. If I had my arms cut off, it would be a jacket.'

'What am I drinking? NyQuil on the rocks, for when you're feeling sick but sociable.'

'I had a piece of Carefree Sugarless gum and I was still worried. It never kicked in, I took it back to the store and said, Bullshit!'

'Steam rollers run shit over to make sure it's good. Like if they want to test a product, they'll run over it with a steam roller. How do you know the steam roller's good? Who ran over the steam roller?'

'My belt holds up my pants and my pants have belt loops that hold up the belt. What the fuck’s really goin on down there? Who is the real hero?'

'I'm sick of Soup of the Day, it's time we made a decision. I wanna know what the fuck Soup From Now On is.'

All these quotes were written and performed by Mitch Hedberg and featured on his Do You Believe in Gosh? album, 2008

Calvin says...

'I was reading about how countless species are being pushed toward extinction by man's destruction of forests. Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.'

- Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes: Scientific Progress Goes Boink, Bill Watterson, 1989)

Visual: Calvin and Hobbes

A Boy and His Tiger

Calvin and Hobbes were created by Bill Watterson

Sean Bateman says...

'I get up early, for a Saturday, sometime after breakfast. I take a shower and kind of remember about this tutorial I happen to up in time for. I smoke a couple of cigarettes, watch the Frog sleep, pace. I can't believe I have a roomate whose name is Bertrand. I go up to Tishman because there's nothing else to do. Saturdays suck anyway and I've never been to this class so it can't be all that boring. I get to Tishman but it's the wrong building. Then I remember that it might be in Dickinson but I go to the wrong room but then I fight the right room even it it looks like the wrong room. It's the teacher's office and there is no one here. I'm not that late either, and I wonder if maybe they've changed rooms. If they have, then I'm dropping this class, I'm not going to put up with that kind of bullshit. The office smells like pot though, so I stick around in case someone comes back with more. I sit at the desk, look for signs of what this class is all about. But I can't find any. So I go back to my room. The Frog is gone. Maybe I'll check out the AA meeting in Bingham, but it's not there and after hanging out in the living room, waiting, smoking, pacing, I go back to my room. Maybe I'll take a ride, go to Manchester. Saturdays suck.'

- Sean Bateman (The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis, 1987)

Lauren Hynde says...

'Wake up. Saturday morning. Tutorial on the postmodern condition. Believe it or not. At ten. In Dickinson. It's October already and we've only had one session. I doubt there's anyone else in the class. I was the only one at the first meeting a month ago and Conroy was so drunk that he lost the rollsheet. Go up to brunch. Pass Commons lawn. People who've probably been up all night are clearing the debris away. Maybe they are still partying, still having a good time. Eternal End of the World Keg Party? The kegs are being rolled away. Sound equipment packed up. Lights being taken down. Should have gone. Maybe. Maybe not. Stop by Commons. Coffee. No mail from Victor. Walk up to Dickinson. And...guess what. Conroy's asleep on the couch in his office. Office reeks of marijuana. Marijuana pipe on desk next to bottle of Scotch. Sit at the desk, not surprised, unfazed and smoke a cigarette, watch Conroy sleep. Getting up? No, he's not. Put the cigarette out. Leave. Victor recommended this course to me.'

- Lauren Hynde (The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis, 1987)

Excerpt from 'Parts of Noah' (10): Mai

The first time I encountered Mai she was standing with her back to the door, leaning on one leg, head slightly tilted, staring at a blank chalkboard that I had never seen in Zeus’ home before that moment or since. I approached her walking on my toes and holding my breath, Zeus just sitting cross-legged on the floor watching and grinning with teeth like sunbeams. I stood beside her and tried to see what she saw along that untouched surface. My eyes crept over to her face but she never looked the same twice, shape shifting and dangerous, never saying a word. How she came to know Zeus, nobody even wonders. I saw some chalk on the floor in front of the board and stepped forward, grabbing it and knowing exactly what to draw. I kept my back to her and began sketching a wolf, starting with its fangs and planning to work outwards. What stopped me was claws digging into my neck and a screech like none I’ve ever heard in any being. Mai had jumped on my back and wrapped herself around me, seeming to make all attempts to rip my throat out using only her wicked fingernails. I dropped to my knees and dropped the chalk and made no effort to fight her off for fear of Zeus interfering. What might’ve shocked me if I could still feel surprised about anything was that Zeus did step in, on my behalf. He pulled Mai away and whispered words into her ear, something that sounded from its rhythm like a lullaby. She closed her eyes and slowed her breathing and relaxed. Zeus erased the chalkboard and gave me my drugs for free that day. I still have the clawmarks on my neck but have never told anyone the truth about their origin.
(End of Excerpt)

This is original writing from the short story titled 'Parts of Noah'. Please credit this work to the creator, Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

Ben Harper says...

'I didn't come here trying to find forgiveness, I didn't come here looking for a fix, I didn't come here in hopes of seeing how the unforsaken get their's like a cry for help nobody hears, close as you can get, but I'm still nowhere near.'

- Ben Harper ('Waiting on a Sign', Give Till It's Gone, Ben Harper, 2011)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rabo Karabekian says...

'Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?'

- Rabo Karabekian (Bluebeard, the Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916 - 1988), Kurt Vonnegut, 1987)

Writer's Block and Inspiration

When you're a writer, inspiration is tricky. Of course, everyone writes in one way or another. Being a 'writer', as in someone who takes the craft much further than e-mails and post-it notes, is more than just a hobby or profession, it's a lifestyle choice. It's something you can't turn off. So even when I'm not physically in the process of writing, I'm always gathering and storing characters, plotlines, dialogue, anything that flies through the open window in my brain. But the struggle of being a writer is that the brain doesn't always connect to the fingers. Sometimes, when the flow is there, the idea isn't. Other times, the creative well is deep, but the right words don't come.

In response to this disconnect, we've invented a neat little disorder called 'Writer's Block'. The terror of the blank page, the empty well, the numb fingers that just won't dance across the keyboard or scribble down the page the way you want them to. All the phrase really means is that you aren't inspired to write in that moment. And why should you be? If the feeling isn't there, wait until it comes back. Now, this works mostly for amateur writers like me, who don't have the direct pressure of editors and publishers and all that. The level of writing I'm talking about is where you're ultimately writing for yourself. Eventually, of course, I would like the masses to read my words, and even better if I can make a living from it, but at this point, I have to write because it satisfies my soul, and because I have something I need to say.

And as soon as you do take on the label of Writer, the expectation is there. Oh, you haven't written for two weeks? Are you still a writer? Do you even care anymore? These nagging voices can exist in our heads, but they can also come externally, from friends and family members who hear the word Writer and assume you're some sort of genius who can create gold at any moment, those who maybe take the title of Writer more seriously than you even do. But if I'm writing out of pressure to fill the page, out of some obligation to live up to this title I've given myself, then who really benefits. Writing, and this goes for any kind of writing, is never as good under pressure. The best writing always comes from the 'Holy crap, I have to get to a piece of paper or a computer right now' moment, where your mind, heart, and hands are together in creative union, where this image in your head need to be tangible through the written word. Those are the real Writers, the ones who are writing out of an urge to express rather than an urge to impress.

As I see it, the reason why it's so easy to make excuses, to procrastinate, to cry Writer's Block, to avoid all the pressure of putting pen to paper, is because writing is not a necessity. Lives are not at stake here. It's an art form. Obviously, I fully respect and acknowledge that the right type of writing can create social change, even revolutions, and when the pen or the book is in the wrong hands, writing can really mess things up. But at the level I'm speaking of, the escapist fiction level, the stories that we tell to entertain, to vent and rant, to simply make us think about ourselves and the world around us, writing is not essential. So if I hold off on writing this story idea I have, the world keeps turning, people move on without any notice at all that I haven't written a story, except maybe those around me who know that I'm a Writer and are wondering where my work is. There are enough books around to already last the whole world a lifetime of reading, so what does it matter if I don't participate?
What I'm getting at is that I have to write because I want to write, because I need to participate, because I do think that the world maybe be a little more enlightened if my ideas, encased in fictional character studies, can change a mind or two. I don't have to write for you, or for them, I have to write because it's my own choice. And the actual writing is really only half of it. I'm comfortable with the Writer label because I think like a writer, constantly analyzing, reading into subtext, watching for moments that could translate well into a scene.

I see the world as a story, or more appropriately volumes and volumes of stories, just waiting to be found, recognized, and told. I need to capture these moments and work them into my own subconscious, remember the details, so that when it does come time to sit in front of the computer, when the feeling comes and I have all the time I need, there will be something to draw upon. Writing isn't something you turn on or off, it doesn't break down or get jammed, you can't upgrade to a better version, it's something to have to nurture, cultivate, and never neglect. To me, Writer's Block just means that you forgot, even for a second, the reason that you write in the first place: because it feels good to tell a story.

Tom Waits says...

'Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair, deal out jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs, I tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past, so send me off to bed forevermore.'

- Tom Waits ('Tango Til They're Sore', Rain Dogs, Tom Waits, 1985)

Colin James says...

'Mind your step as you make your way, through the church into this world of sand, picture an angel with a cigarette burning, with a long slow drag, she welcomes you in, where you'll be dancing in the low light, sweat dripping down like a dew, scratchin metal and a cry and moan, and lightning in a bottle at the back of the, fire from the inside, rhythm, like a hurricane rain, mercy, comes after midnight, while you're washing me down with the sound of your national steel.'

- Colin James ('National Steel', National Steel, Colin James, 1997)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Photography: Colin James at the Commodore Ballroom

I had the pleasure of seeing Colin James and his band perform at The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC,  last night. Today, I'm celebrating one of my favourite blues men by posting a couple of pictures that my friend Corlin Rosewater took at the show. This is my fifth time seeing Colin play live and, while they have all been amazing shows, this was probably my favourite set list so far, and getting to see him at the best musical venue that Vancouver has to offer definitely helped my enjoyment. Colin James is generally recognized for a few hit songs he had back in the 80s and 90s, and he's generated a very loving and fun fanbase over the years. It's weird, at the age of 27, to be one of the youngest people at a show, but it's always fun to see the older folk having a good time and (trying to) dance. And although I didn't have much in common with the people around me, we all have one thing is common, and it was a common appreciation for the man on stage. Keep on rockin, Colin!

Henry Rollins also says...

'Dedicated: To all the bands who know. All the shit that these bastards will put you through. The record companies who bullshit you, promoters who lie to you, waste your time and rip you off. The all night drives that leave you wasted and barely able to think straight when you have a long set and another all night drive ahead of you. Working harder than anyone you know and still not being able to pay the rent. Years of watching shitty, fake bands headline over you. The endless blank hours of waiting. The depression of all the beat down towns crowding your mind month after month. Few have your courage.'

- Henry Rollins (from the dedication, Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, Henry Rollins, 1994)

Henry Rollins also says...

'Later: A girl shoved four one dollar bills down my shorts during our set. That's cool. I dried them off and bought myself dinner.'

- Henry Rollins (written in 1984, from Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, Henry Rollins, 1994)

Henry Rollins says...

'Greg's song 'Can't Decide' is one right on song. It's how I feel right now. If you fuck a lot, you think about fucking a lot. If you don't fuck much, you don't think about it as much. You might for a while, but then it goes away. If you don't talk a lot, you lose some of your ability to do so. When the time comes to speak, you find yourself at a loss for words. They don't work well for you and you can end up saying a bunch of shit that you don't mean or don't understand. What a fucked up position to be in. To talk and not understand yourself as you hear the words come out of your mouth. I think that's the definition of being full of shit. I feel like a damn fool when I open my mouth.'

- Henry Rollins (written in 1984, from Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag, Henry Rollins, 1994)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fuckhead also says...

'We bumped softly down a hill toward an open field that seemed to be a military graveyard, filled with rows and rows of austere, identical markers over soldiers' graves. I'd never before come across this cemetery. On the farther side of the field, just beyond the curtains of snow, the sky was torn away and the angels were descending out of a brilliant blue summer, their huge faces streaked with light and full of pity. The sight of them cut through my heart and down the knuckles of my spine, and if there'd been anything in my bowels I would have messed my pants from fear.'

- Fuckhead ('Emergency', Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson, 1992)

Fuckhead says...

'Georgie and I had a terrific time driving around. For a while the day was clear and peaceful. It was one of the moments you stay in, to hell with the troubles of before and after. The sky is blue and the dead are coming back. Later in the afternoon, with sad recognition, the county fair bares its breasts. A champion of the drug LSD, a very famous guru of the love generation, is being interviewed amid a TV crew off to the left of the poultry cages. His eyeballs look like he bought them in a joke shop. It doesn't occur to me, as I pity this extraterrestial, that in my life I've taken as much as he has.'

- Fuckhead ('Emergency', Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson, 1992)

Jim Morrison says...

'There's blood in the streets, it's up to my ankles, blood in the streets, it's up to my knee, blood in the streets in the town of Chicago, blood on the rise, it's following me, think about the break of day...she came and then she drove away, sunlight in her hair...Blood in the streets runs a river of sadness, blood in the streets it's up to my thigh, yeah, the river runs red down the legs of a city, the women are crying red rivers of weeping...she came into town and then she drove away, sunlight in her hair...Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven, blood stains the roofs and the palm trees of Venice, blood in my love in the terrible summer, bloody red sun of Phantastic LA.'

- Jim Morrison ('Peace Frog', Morrison Hotel, The Doors, 1969)

Visual: Jim Morrison Poster

Let's swim to the moon, let's climb through the tide
Penetrate the evening that the city sleeps to hide
Let's swim out tonight, love, it's our turn to try
Parked beside the ocean on our moonlight drive
Let's swim to the moon, let's climb through the tide
Surrender to the waiting world that lap against our side
Nothing left open, and no time to decide
We've stepped into a river on our moonlight drive
Let's swim to the moon, let's climb through the tide
You reach your hand to hold me, but I can't be your guide
Easy, I love you, as I watch you glide
Falling through wet forests on our moonlight drive, baby, moonlight drive
Come on baby, gonna take a little ride, down, down by the ocean side
Gonna get real close, get real tight
Baby gonna drown tonight, goin down down down

-Jim Morrison ('Moonlight Drive', Strange Days, The Doors, 1967)

Image is a close-up panorama of a Jim Morrison poster, taken by Chessterr Hollowberry, 2012

Morvern Callar also says...

'It was only saliva I boaked up in the sink. I ran the tap. In the toilet I used the toothbrush twice. I helped myself to some talc, putting it here and there and that. Back in the scullery I took the milk carton out the fridge, had a swallow, then crossed the passage to that room, put the milk carton by the bedside and crawled in with the three nude bodies. I let them do anything to me and tried to make each as satisfied as I could. I concentrated on the different positions. Later, cooried with my face near the window, all three of them were at my behind, and as the wave of something went across so strong I was smiling, I stared up and out. The dark sky above the port was empty of any little star.'

Morvern Callar (Morvern Callar, Alan Warner, 1995)

Morvern Callar says...

'He'd cut His throat with the knife. He'd near chopped off His hand with the meat cleaver. He couldnt object so I lit a Silk Cut. A sort of wave of something was going across me. There was fright but I'd daydreamed how I'd be. He was bare and dead face-down on the scullery lino with blood round. The Christmas tree lights were on then off. You could change the speed those ones flashed at. Over and over you saw Him stretched out then the pitch dark with His computer screen still on. I started the greeting on account of all the presents under our tree and Him dead. Useless little presents always made me sad. I start for me then move on to everybody when I greet about the sad things. Her from Corran Road with all sons drowned off the boats. She bubbled till she lost an eye. I greeted in heaves and my nose was running.'

- Morvern Callar (Morvern Callar, Alan Warner, 1995)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

JJ Grey says...

'Autumn sun sets mornin skies ablaze, the oaks and the pines turn their palms up to the sun, the kind of beauty that hits down in the soul, and still we're hell bent to destroy it all, with concrete and steel we pave, a road to hell on a land we've killed, so take a good look and remember it now, cause one day you gonna wake up and find it gone.'

- JJ Grey ('Florida', Blackwater, JJ Grey & MOFRO, 2001)

Photography: Kanaka Creek

Nature time at Kanaka Creek, Maple Ridge, British Columbia. I live 5 minutes away from this place!
Photos taken by Chessterr Hollowberry, 2012.

Shannon Hoon says...

‘I’m entering a frame bombarded by indecision, where a man like me can easily let the day get out of control, down this far in the quarter, I’m pushed hard upon the border, but I’d rather be caught round now, instead of oh, say, round the month of June. But if I can leave with a little bit of explanation, then anywhere in the world I choose to go I’ll have it made.’

- Shannon Hoon ('Hello-Goodbye', Soup, Blind Melon, 1995)

Excerpt from 'Parts of Noah' (9): Sitting on a Curb

I sat on the curb in front of Cash's house for quite a while waiting for a sign of where I should go. I felt like I was sitting on the sun and stared until all I could see was red. This made me feel dizzy and that made my stomach burn, so I blinked until I got my vision back. Across the street, a little boy was feeding mud to his sister, sitting behind her and wrapping his arm around to her mouth as she licked each spoonful clean. You've never seen anyone be so obedient in their own self-destruction. This little girl just stared at me, smiling as he spooned this mess of dirt and worms and pebbles into her mouth, and she just kept swallowing. They looked exactly identical and for a moment I felt very calm and wondered what would have happened if I wasn't the only thing my creators brought to this world. I didn't doubt for a moment that I probably would have smothered or drowned or buried any sibling they would have introduced to me. I knew then that I needed some pills.

(End of Excerpt)

This is original writing from the short story titled 'Parts of Noah'. Please credit this work to the creator, Chessterr Hollowberry. Thanks!

Two-Face says...

'You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time, but you were wrong. The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.'

- Two-Face (played by Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight, written by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer, 2008)

Visual: Foreshadowing Two-Face from 'Batman: The Animated Series'

This image is from Batman: The Animated Series way back in the early 90s. It may be a kids show, but it's well animated and actually has a pretty dark and violent atmosphere for its target demographic. This series has some of my favourite character designs/animation style for the Gotham universe and also some outstanding voice acting by Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as The Joker.

Featured here is from Harvey Dent/Two-Face's villain origin, showing the first flash of his alter ego before he's injured, which is great foreshadowing for the explosion that fully turns him later in the episode. If you're in the mood for some vigilante hero action and childhood nostalgia (if you're a 90s kid), check out Batman: The Animated Series.

This image was taken from 'Two Face: Part One', Batman: The Animated Series, created by Bruce W. Timm and Eric Radomski, Two-Face voiced by Richard Moll, 1992.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sidney Offit says...

'When I asked Kurt what he thought was the most important aspect of the craft of fiction that he taught his students during his years on the faculty of the University of Iowa's graduate writing program, as well as Columbia and Harvard, he told me, 'Development. Every scene, every dialogue should advance the narrative and then if possible there should be a surprise ending.' The element of surprise serves, too, to express the paradox of Kurt's viewpoint. When all is said and written, the resolution, the surprise, turns the story around and gives it meaning.'

- Sidney Offit ('Foreword', Look at the Birdie: Short Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut, 2009)

The Narrator of 'FUBAR' says...

'In all innocence, Francine Pefko now spoke a simple sentence that was heartbreakingly poetic to Fuzz. The sentence reminded Fuzz, with the ruthlessness of great poetry, that his basic misgivings about Francine were not occupational but erotic. What Francine said was this: I came here straight from the Girl Pool. In speaking of the Girl Pool, she was doing no more than giving the proper name to the reception and assignment center maintained by the company for new woman employees. But when Fuzz heard those words, his mind whirled with images of lovely young women like Francine, glistening young women, rising from cool, deep water, begging aggressive, successful young men to woo them. In Fuzz's mind, the desirable images all passed him by, avoided his ardent glances. Such beautiful creatures would have nothing to do with a man who was fubar. Fuzz looked at Francine uneasily. Not only was she, so fresh and desirable fro, the Girl Pool, going to discover that her supervisor had a very poor job. She was going to conclude, as well, that her supervisor wasn't much of a man at all.'

The Narrator ('FUBAR', Look at the Birdie: Short Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut)

Note: This short fiction anthology was published in 2009 after Vonnegut's death. I wish I knew when the story itself was written, but even the powers of the internet can't help me there. 'FUBAR' is one of my favourite pieces of short fiction, using only two characters and setting to pull off an engaging character study. No gimmicks or plot twists, no monsters or aliens, no violence or sex, just two polar opposites, a self-deprecating sadsack and an naive wide-eyed optmist, stuck in a building together by pure chance. Fuzz and Francine still are a major influence when I craft a male-female dynamic, and Vonnegut will always be one of my biggest influences when it comes to any sort of character description.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dean Craig Pelton says...

'Ah, good morning. Uh, many of you are halfway through your first week here at Greendale, and, uh, as your dean, I thought I would share a few thoughts of wisdom and inspiration. What is community college? Well, you've heard all kinds of things. You've heard it's loser college, for remedial teens, 20something dropouts, middle aged divorcees, and old people, keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity. That's what you've heard, however, I wish you luck! Okay, you know, uh oh, okay there's more to this speech, there's actually a middle card that is missing, could we all look around our immediate areas, cause I really wanted to...'

- Dean Craig Pelton (played by Jim Rash, 'Pilot', written by Dan Harmon, Community, created by Dan Harmon, 2009)

Visual: Community

The wacky television experience known as Community has one major thing going for it, and one major thing going against it. On the plus side, they have one of the most insanely dedicated and passionate fanbases I've ever seen for any show, especially one that's only going into its 4th season. However, on the negative side, there's NBC, the network that airs the show. From firing the creator to replacing the writers to shortening the new season to changing the timeslot to postponing when the show was supposed to air, I don't think I've ever seen a series so mistreated by a network, who clearly wants to see this show fail.

Sure, Community does play a part in alienating potential viewers, with their genre-parodies, meta humour, and constant pop culture references, some of the jokes are likely to go over (or under) the heads of those who haven't seen every episode and aren't familiar with the references. It's definitely a show that falls into the category of you either 'get' it or you don't. But if you do 'get' it, then you can appreciate the comedic abilities of the widely diverse cast, the creativity and wit of the writing team, and the fact that not many other shows can pack in as many jokes-per-second as this one does. Seriously, just about every line is quotable. Like any TV series, Community can be hit and miss, not every episode is a classibc, but when they do land a hit, they are the funniest, freshest, most unique show on television.

The 4th (and likely final) season was set to air on October 19th, but NBC decided to push it back to February. Luckily, Comedy Network has been replaying the series from the beginning (currently halfway through season 2), and every day there's new fan videos, GIFs, photosets, and quotes popping up on the internet. So there's plently to feed your Community fix until early next year. And I can only hope that the new writers understand the show's style and characters as well as the old ones did. Today, I'm posting images of the cast in an insane asylum, which likely represents how the cast feels in real life, locked away in purgatory until their network can decide what to do with them.

Image #1 is from 'Paradigms of Human Memory', 2011

Image #2 is from 'Cirriculum Unavailable', 2012

The Community cast is: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Chevy Chase, Jim Rash, and Ken Jeong.

Community was created by Dan Harmon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Peter Hayes also says...

'I've been waitin on the fault line, living evil take me on, I'll be standing with my dying bed, if you care to come along, racing with the rising tide to my father's door, racing with the rising tide to my father's door..I've been lying in the bright light, see my shadow from below, never wanted from another man, never wanted for my own, drowning in the rising tide at my father's door, drowning in the rising tide at my father's door..Through a window to the last mile, my living picture on the wall, from the banks on the far side, see the lights come ashore, racing from the rising tide to my father's door, racing from the rising tide to my father's door, racing with the rising tide to my father's door.'

- Peter Hayes ('Fault Line', Howl, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 2005)

Peter Hayes says...

'Restless sinner, rest in sin, he's got no face to hold him in, he fills his days as dark as night, he's been waitin with the blind just to find a place to hide his ghost..Unopened eyes, no consequence, the door's been closed since he walked in, the fight's been raging so many days, he'll greet you with with a cross and a sickle as he helps you in..You fall in waste, an open fire, you've got no taste for his desire, he brings you in to warm your bones, he's the reason why you came, and the reason why you ought to go.'

- Peter Hayes ('Restless Sinner', Howl, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, 2005)

Note: Although BRMC is mostly known for their grungy, groovy, stoner rock, one of the best aspects about the band is their range, and ability to hop from genre to genre seamlessly. And while their kick-ass songs really do kick ass, two of my favourite BRMC tracks are totally stripped down folk-style songs, both from the Howl album. They have a new album coming out sometime soon, I'm very excited to hear what they've come up with.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Marge Simpson also says...

'Hello, everyone. Before last year's Halloween show, I warned you not to let your children watch. But you did anyway. Mm, well, this year's episode is even worse. It's scarier, more violent, and I think they snuck in some bad language too. So please, tuck in your children and - well, if you didn't listen to me last time, you're not going to now. Enjoy the show.'

- Marge Simpson (voiced by Julie Kavner, 'Treehouse of Horror II', written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon, and John Swartzwelder, The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening, 1991)

Note: Although Jean, Reiss, Martin, Meyer, Simon, and Swartzfelder each worked on a segment of the episode, I'm not sure who wrote Marge's opening speech. Whoever it is, credit goes to you!

Marge Simpson says...

'Hello, everyone. You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday. Personally, I don't understand it. Kids worshipping ghosts, pretending to be devils. Things on TV that are completely inappropriate for young viewers. Things like the following half-hour! Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight's show, which I totally wash my hands of, is really scary. So if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them in early tonight, instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow. Thanks for your attention.'

- Marge Simpson (voiced by Julie Kavner, 'Treehouse of Horror', written by John Swartzwelder, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, and Sam Simon, The Simpsons, created by Matt Groening, 1990)

Note: Although Swartzwelder, Kogen, Wolodarsky, and Simon each wrote a segment of the episode, I'm not sure who actually wrote Marge's opening speech. Whoever it is, credit goes to you!