Monday, January 28, 2013

Hugh Dillon says...

'I got a gal who loves on the wrong side of town, I know what I like, and man you know I sure know how, it's the other side, another place, I like it there, no accounting for taste, I can't think of nothing when I'm with her, but the rain and the wind and the cemetery dirt..Went down to the cemetery lookin for love, got there and my baby was buried, I had to dig her up..18,000 miles across nowhere land, I'm scratching and I'm spitting, there ain't nobody listening, and things are kind of getting out of hand, there's only one point that I'd like to make, these kinds of things deteriorate, it's the gospel truth, man, she's embalmed in love juice.'

- Hugh Dillon ('Cemetery', Picture of Health, The Headstones, 1993)

Excerpt from 'Parts of Noah' (12): Walking Back Through Third Cemetery

Walking back through Third Cemetery, I couldn’t find Dizzy and the only evidence of Zeus’ car was the blue paint left on the smashed up dumptruck. I didn’t wonder why she left me and was in no way surprised when a hand burst through the dirt beside my shoe. Donald Mayor. A bullet through and through. His name scratched into the cement slab like all the other names, but his was the only hand escaping from its grave, clutching and grabbing at the air. You might have ran, or you might have stomped it, but I just watched. The zombie behind the hand was making no progress and my mind was just about to wander again when Jonny Jacks’ hand, just dirt-stained bone, burst up across the cemetery.
I sat down, cross-legged, and pulled out my own sack of pills. I dry swallowed a puke-coloured one. Robert May’s hand, exposed, maybe clawing its way out to once again hold Mary May’s, grasping at air like all the others that had risen. Sitting as a witness to this, Donna Jean’s skeleton hand bursting up, I thought about the worst thing I could imagine happening to me. You’ll stop, take a moment to think about it, but I didn’t have to. Harley Wilby’s hand, then Martin Lillet’s, and so many others that Dizzy never sang for but must have known about, it all made me terrified of the thought that I would be dead one day and may not rise.
I stayed exactly where I was and Donald Mayor’s hand was now an arm, a shoulder, a head. I didn’t for a moment believe this was actually happening and planned to ask Zeus if he fucked up the recipe, if I ever saw him again. I stood and tossed a rainbow coloured pill at Donald Mayor, who seemed harmless and confused, not quite ready for re-entry to this world. More of the hands became arms and the half-decayed and not yet rested mortals were rising for one more shot at it. Good luck. I popped a scab coloured one and walked through the mess of dirt and bones as the silent dead stumbled around, just rotten skin and broken parts. I made it to the gate and from behind the dumptruck appeared Cash and his shotgun, still with his bee-sting, still divine. His eyes glowed and he walked by me completely, aiming the weapon and firing, one by one shattering the undead who only wanted to try one more time. I just stared at the dumptruck and thought of Dizzy, balancing on the curb. I knew I couldn’t stop Cash, and I knew he understood that these beings weren’t going to hurt anybody. But we both knew what had to be done.

(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!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ben Harper says...

'Like my father, and his father, and his father before, watch the soil burn in the fire, war after war, done things I didn't know I could, for the common good, tomorrow, I ride at dawn, give a man a hundred years, he'll want a hundred more, give him a hundred choices, and he still chooses war, from Salem Poor to Genghis Khan, tomorrow I ride at dawn..I was born for battle, I was born to bleed, and I was born to help those who have dreams of being free, mother stop your crying, sister dry your eyes, you'll hear my medals ringing from Shreveport to Shabagan, tomorrow, I ride at dawn..At first light, I march to battle, not my own life, but my brother's I must save, and when you hear those pipes and drummers, you'll know I march to glory, or proudly to my grave, tell my loved ones, they must carry on, tomorrow I ride at dawn, oh, tomorrow I ride at dawn.'

Ben Harper ('I Ride at Dawn', Get Up!, Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, 2013)

Note: I'm not a religious man, but Ben Harper releasing a new full-on blues album feels a lot like heaven to me.

Tom Waits also says...

'Writing songs is like capturing birds without killing them. Sometimes you end up with nothing but a mouthful of feathers.'

- Tom Waits (from the Wit & Wisdom section on his website,, 2009)

Tom Waits also says...

'I try to make an antenna out of myself, a lightning rod out of myself, so whatever is out there can come in. It happens in different places, in hotels, in the car, when someone else is driving. I bang on things, slap the wall, break things, whatever is in the room.'

- Tom Waits (from the Wit & Wisdom section on his website,, 2009)

Tom Waits says...

'I've learned how to be different musical characters without feeling like I'm eclipsing myself. On the contrary, you discover a whole family living inside you.'

- Tom Waits (from the Wit & Wisdom section on his website,, 2009)

Master Storyteller: 5 Stories from Tom Waits - 'Swordfishtrombones'

'Well, he came home from the war with a party in his head, and a modified Brougham DeVille, and a pair of legs that opened up like butterfly wings, and a mad dog that wouldn't sit still..he went and took up with a Salvation Army Band girl, who played dirty water on a swordfishtrombone, he went to sleep on the bottom of Tenkiller Lake, and he said, Gee, but it's great to be back home..Well, he came home from the war with a party in his head, and an idea for a fireworks display, and he knew that he'd be ready with a stainless steel machete and a half a pint of Ballantine's each day..and holed up in a room above a hardware store, crying nothing there but Hollywood tears, and he put a spell on some poor little Crutchfield girl, and stayed like that for 27 years..Well, he packed up all his expectations he lit out for California, with a flyswatter banjo on his knee, with lucky tiger in his angel hair and benzendrine for getting there, they found him in a eucalyptus tree..lietenant got him a canary bird, and Chesterfield moonbeams in a song, and he got 20 years for lovin her from some Oklahoma governor, said everything this doughboy does is wrong..Now some say he's doing the obituary mambo, and some say he's hanging on the wall, perhaps this yarn's the only thing that holds this man together, some say he was never here at all, some say they saw him down in Birmingham, sleeping in a boxcar going by, and if you think that you can tell a bigger tale, I swear to God you'd have to tell a lie.' - 'Swordfishtrombone'

'Davenports and kettle drums and swallow-tail coats, table cloths and patent leather shoes, bathing suits and bowling balls, and clarinets and rings, and all this radio really needs is a fuse, a tinker, a tailor, a soldier's things, his rife, his boots full of rocks, and his one is for bravery, and this one is for me, and everything's a dollar in this box..Cuff links and hub caps, trophies and paperbacks, it's good transportation, but the brakes aren't so hot, necktie and bozing gloves, this jackknife is rusted, and you can pound that dent out on the hood..A tinker, a tailor, a solider's things, his rife, his boots full of rocks, oh, and this one is for bravery, and this one is for me, and everything's a dollar in this box.' - 'Soldier's Things'

'Well, with buck shot eyes and a purple heart, I rolled down the national stroll, and with a big fat paycheck strapped to my hip-sack, and a shore leave wristwatch underneath my sleeve, in a Hong Kong drizzle on Cuban heels, I rowed down the gutter to the Blood Bank, and I'd left all my papers on the Ticonderoga, and I was in bad need of a shave, and so I slopped at the corner on a cold chow mein, and shot billiards with a midget until the rain stopped, and I bought a long sleeved shirt with horses on the front, and some gum and a lighter and a knife, and a new deck of cards, with girls on the back, and I sat down and wrote a letter to my wife, and I said..Baby, I'm so far away from home, and I miss my baby so, I can't make it by myself, I love you so..Well I was pacing myself, trying to make it all last, squeezing all the life out of a lousy two day pass, and I had a cold one at the Dragon with some Filipino floor show, and talked baseball with a lieutenant over a Singapore sling, and I wondered how the same moon outside over this Chinatown fair could look down on Illinois and find you there, and you know I love you baby..and I'm so far away from home, and I miss my baby so, I can't make it by myself, I love you so..shore leave, shore leave.' - 'Shore Leave'

'I got a belly full of you, and that Leavenworth stuff, now I'm gonna get out, and I'm gonna get tough, you been lying to me, how could you crawl so low, with some gin-soaked boy that you don't know..I come home last night, full a fifth Old Crow, you said you goin to your Ma's, but where the hell did you go, you went and slipped out nights, you didn't think that I'd know, with some gin-soaked boy that you don't know..Well, I would bet you as far as Oklahoma by now, the dogs are barking out back, and you're knittin your brow, well, I'm on your tail, I sussed your MO, from some gin-soaked boy that you don't know.' - 'Gin Soaked Boy'

'Well, Frank settled down in the Valley, and he hung his wild years on a nail that he drove through his wife's forehead, he sold used office furniture out there on San Fernando Road, and assumed a thirty thousand dollar loan at 15 percent and put a down payment on a little two bedroom place, his wife was a spent piece of used jet trash, made good bloody marys, kept her mouth shut most of the time, had a little Chihuahua named Carlos that had some kind of skin disease and was totally blind, they had a thoroughly modern kitchen, self-cleaning oven, the whole bit, Frank drove a little sedan, they were so happy..One night Frank was on his way home from work, stopped at the liquor store, picked up a couple Mickey's Big Mouths, drank em in the car on his way to the Shell station, he got a gallon of gas in a can, drove home, doused everything in the house, torched it, parked across the street, laughing, watching it burn, all Halloween orange and chimney red, then Frank put on a top forty station, got on the Hollywood Freeway, headed North..never could stand that dog.' - 'Frank's Wild Years'

All songs written and performed by Tom Waits, from 'Swordfishtrombones', 1983.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hobo with a Shotgun says...

'A long time ago, I was one of you. You're all brand new and perfect, no mistakes, no regret. People look at you and think of how wonderful your future will be. They want you to be something special, like a doctor, or a lawyer. I hate to tell ya this, but if you grow up here, you're more likely to wind up selling your bodies on the streets, or shooting dope from dirty needles in a bus stop. And if you're successful, you'll make money selling junk to crackheads. And you won't think twice about killing someone's wife, because you won't even know it was wrong in the first place. Hell, maybe you'll end up like me, a hobo with a shotgun. I hope you can do better. You are the future.'

- Hobo (to a group of babies, played by Rutger Hauer, Hobo with a Shotgun, written by John Davies, Jason Eisener, and Rob Cotterill, 2011)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Narrator of 'No Country for Old Men' says...

'The dead man was lying against the rock with a nickelplated government .45 automatic lying cocked in the grass between his legs. He'd been sitting up and had slid over sideways. His eyes were open, He looked like he was studying something small in the grass. There was blood on the ground and blood on the rock behind him. The blood was still a dark red but then it was still shaded from the sun. Moss picked up the pistol and pressed the grip safety with his thumb and lowered the hammer. He squatted and tried to wipe the blood off the grips on the leg of the man's trousers but the blood was too well congealed. He stood and stuck the gun in his belt at the small of his back and pushed back his hat and blotted the sweat from his forehead with his shirtsleeve. He turned and stood studying the countryside. There was a heavy leather document case standing upright alongside the dead man's knee and Moss absolutely knew what was in the case and he was scared in a way that he didn't even understand.'

- The Narrator (No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy, 2005)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rodriguez says...

'The mayor hides the crime rate, council woman hesitates, public gets irate, but forget the vote date, weatherman complaining, predicted sun, it's raining, everyone's protesting, boyfriend keeps suggesting, you're not like all of the rest..Garbage ain't collected, women ain't protected, politicians using, people they're abusing, the mafia's getting bigger, like pollution in the river, and you tell me that this is where it's at..Woke up this morning with an ache in my head, splashed on my clothes as I spilled out of bed, I opened the window to listen to the news, but all I heard was the establishment blues..Gun sales are soaring, housewives find life boring, divorce the only answer, smoking causes cancer, this system's gonna fail soon, to an angry young tune, and that's a concrete cold fact..The pope digs population, freedom from taxation, teeny bops are uptight, drinking at a stoplight, miniskirt is flirting, I can't stop so I'm hurting, spinster sells her hopeless chest..Adultery plays the kitchen, bigot cops non-fiction, the little man gets shafted, sons and monies drafted, living by a time piece, new war in the Far East, can you pass the Rorschach test, it's a hassle, it's an educated guess, well, frankly I couldn't care less.'

- Rodriguez ('This is Not a Song, it's an Outburst; or, The Establishment Blues', Cold Fact, Rodriguez, 1970)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sheriff Unser says...

'I know who you are, what you do...I'm not talkin about what you do with a suit and tie, I'm talkin about what you do with the rubber masks...Things work themselves around, your time will come...Charming's a special town, not many folks take to it. I like to think the town chooses its occupants. Right ones stay, wrong ones disappear.'

- Sheriff Unser (played by Dayton Callie, 'Eureka', written by Kurt Sutter and Brett Conrad, Sons of Anarchy, created by Kurt Sutter, 2009)

Curtis Stigers says...

'Riding through this world, all alone, God takes your soul, you're on your own, the crow flies straight, a perfect line, on the Devil's back, until you die..Gotta look this life in the eye.'

- Curtis Stigers 'This Life (Main Theme Edit)', written by Curtis Stigers and Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy theme song performed by Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers, created by Kurt Sutter, 2008)

Note: Currently making my way through Season 3 of Sons of Anarchy. I started watching it over holiday break to satisfy my craving for crime drama while all my other favourites were on break. I was skeptical during the first few episodes, mostly because I'm not impressed at all by tough-guy biker gangs, but soon the character development and intensity got me hooked. Sometimes the show can be a bit too goofy and I'm not always interested in the plotlines, but the performances and writing are enough to keep me watching. I also like that it's never just one or two storylines per episode, plotlines get real messy with a lot of angles, which allows for the writers to be creative in how they develop or conclude storylines. With loathsome villains and brutal violence, Sons of Anarchy is a challenging watch, but it'll satisfy fans who appreciate complex, unpredictable, darkly hilarious crime drama.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jenn Wasner says...

'I am nothing without pretend, I know my thoughts, can't live with them, I am nothing without a man, I know my faults, but I can hide them..I still sleep with my baby teeth in the bedside table with my jewelry, you still sleep in the bed with me, my jewelry and my baby teeth..I don't need another friend, when most of them I can barely keep up with, I'm perfectly able to hold my own hand, but I still can't kiss my own neck..I wanted to give you everything, but I still stand in awe of superficial things, I wanted to love you like my mother's mother's mothers did, civilian.'

- Jenn Wasner ('Civilian', Civilian, Wye Oak, 2011)

Note: First heard this song at the end of a Walking Dead episode titled '18 Miles Out', then again in Safety Not Guaranteed. Not my typical style of music but it's just so powerful and well written that it moves me everytime, I can't ignore it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shannon McFarland says...

'Evie and me, we did this infomercial. It's one of those television commercials you think is a real program except it's just a thirty minute pitch. The television camera cuts to another girl in a sequined dress, this one is wading through an audience of snow birds and Midwest tourists. The girl offers a golden anniversary couple in matching Hawaiian shirts a selection of canapes from a silver tray, but the couple and everybody else in their double knits and camera necklaces, they're staring up and to the right at something off camera. You know it's the monitor. It's eerie, but what's happening is the folks are staring at themselves in the monitor staring at themselves in the monitor staring at themselves in the monitor, on and on, completely trapped in a reality loop that never ends.'

- Shannon McFarland (Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk, 1999)

KC Kotton in 'Are You Watching?': An Explanation

Today, I posted my newest piece of writing, an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ensemble. The story is narrated by 6 characters, three peculiar men and the 3 female objects of their obsession. The stage of the story I'm currently working on is each character's opening monologue, which is to introduce the character's voice and plant a seed for how the story will evolve for them as things get weirder and more violent. Ever since I conceived this story a few years ago, I've known that KC Kotton's character would be my favourite character to write for, but also the most difficult. Initially, I was just going to have her be an ultra-exaggerated version of a modern 8 year old girl, who also happens to be a world famous kids TV show. She would swear, smoke, drink, do drugs, engage in sexual activity, all of it.

Then, somewhere along the way, her character changed slightly so that she was actually older than 8 years old but lies about her age to stay relevant as a children's tv star. This stems partly from the fear that I was going too far with the sins and sexuality of such a young character, so implying that she's actually in her early to mid-teens gives me a little room there. Also, I rather like the idea of KC fighting the inevitably of puberty and essentially being a woman who resigns herself to be stuck in a child's body. It should also be noted that her character, like all the characters of Ensemble, is meant to be a little more than just an exaggeration or satire, I'm aiming for full-on caricatures here, cartoon images of how real people might look like. KC Kotton is obviously the most far-fetched character in this line-up, but that's what makes her so much fun to write for, even if I'm not staying entirely accurate with the voice of an 8 year old.

Now, for the actual subject matter of KC's introductory monologue, the inspiration came from a variety of sources. The entire piece is based around a question that came to me: What would be worse, being watched and completely unaware, or being absolutely certain that no one's watching at all? Is it okay to live entirely for yourself, as your own audience, as the only witness to your own existence? Or are we only relevant if someone knows what we're doing every single moment? With the internet immensely helping the over-exposure of both celebrities and 'regular' people, these questions become even more relevant, and more complicated, as time goes by. The second theme that's reflected in KC's monologue is the idea that all men are born perverts who deserve to have any woman they want, whether she wants them back, which ties into the third inspiration.

I've been seeing a lot of writing lately about 'rape culture', primarily the idea that it's a woman's job to avoid/defend against rape rather than a man's job to control himself. Being a relatively kind male in a long-term relationship with someone who I care for deeply, this whole notion is very intriguing to me. I've never personally felt entitled to a woman's body just because I'm a man. Hell, if anything, I feel damn lucky everytime ChinaCat Sunflower lets me get close to her. I know it's her choice to let me in, every time. So hearing about all these horrible stories lately of men exploiting and gangraping and attacking really makes me wonder how I fit into the male pack. So, through the voice of an '8' year old girl, I wanted to explore what a girl can do in this world of entitled males who will take what they want. Now, before my brothers start feeling generalized, I'm simply talking about the same males who are inspiring women nowadays to speak up against cultural acceptance towards rape and sexual entitlement. Unfortunately, the genuinely nice guys don't get nearly as much coverage as the rapists and killers.

Now, my actual views may be a bit skewed through KC Kotton's voice. I don't necessarily think that a reasonable solution is for females to scare men off with hypersexuality, just as I don't believe that all men secretly hate when a women gives her consent. But that's the fun of satire, to take these serious issues and opinions and flip them on their head, turn them inside out, blow them up on the big screen for everyone to see and find out what we can learn and reveal just how close we may be getting to these caricatures. KC Kotton simply represents every girl's realization that as they grow into women, guys of all types, whether gentle or forceful, will have their eyes on them. As always, I don't have all the answers, and I only know the world through my own experience, but as a writer, if I can get people thinking and self-reflecting, even if they disagree with every word I say, I'm satisfied.

Excerpt from 'Ensemble': KC Kotton in 'Are You Watching?'

On my first 8th birthday, Mojo the Friendly Clown shoved his hand up my skirt and smiled. In all my short time on this dumb planet, there's really only one truth I've learned, and it's been a hard lesson. Men are perverts. Straight from birth, these swinging dicks have it in their minds that they're going to poke their dong in anything that'll receive it. A vagina is always nice, from what I've heard, but a warm baked pie does the trick just as well. It's always better if us bitches agree to do it, but consent isn't always mandatory, as we all learn. Just by nature, our other halves are bigger and stronger than us, they can take what they want, really. It's taken us thousands of years to convince them that, you know, we have feelings too, we feel pain everywhere, inside and out. It's taken an entire social movement to convince men to treat us as well as they treat their pet dogs. You know, feed us, pet us, play with us, take us out every once in a while.

On my second 8th birthday, Slick Willy the Magician asked me if I could help him make one very special part of him disappear. You see, us females have to find ways to reverse this power structure, to empower ourselves in the defense against penetration. Every girl has her trick. Whether it's to switch sides and be a lesbian, put up insanely thick emotional walls, carry around pepper spray and a rape whistle, keep every guy stuck in the 'friend zone', you have to have a strategy. Some girls call themselves 'feminists' and men don't want to have anything to do with them. Simply just existing and hoping for the privelege to choose your own lover just isn't enough these days. Personally, I surround myself with gay guys. They're smart enough to just cut all the bullshit and stick it in each other, I can appreciate that. For the straight ones, my trick is just to make it really easy for them, too easy. Now, for some of these dicks, this is a dream come true. The starfish girl, just spread em and close your eyes, it'll be over in no time. It's been my experience that most men hate consent, though. They need to trick us, to feel like they're manipulating our panties into sliding off, like they're somehow smart for getting us to do what women have been doing since the first vagina ran into the first penis.

On my third 8th birthday, I walked right up to the caterer and said 'You gonna take advantage of this, or what?', he dropped his tray of jumbo shrimp and nearly pissed himself. Trust me, try this line on the next guy who won't stop staring at your tits. Most will cower at the sight of you and all that manly mumbo jumbo will shrivel up along with their balls. See, we aren't supposed to want sex, we're just supposed to take it. We sure as hell shouldn't like it, just ask those Japanese perverts who are wanking it to crying schoolgirls. It should hurt because you're so big. It should be forbidden because my daddy wouldn't like it if he knew. It should make me feel guilty afterwards because I lost control of myself. I'll tell you right now, I've never done one damn thing in my life that I didn't want to do.

My solution to this whole annoying pervert problem is market saturation, over exposure. Forget following my childhood dream of being a dramatic actress, let's get my own nonsense children's show, and let's air it three times a day and double that on weekends. Let's put my cute pink pigtails and short-short skirt all over the television, let's put my big bright anime eyes all over magazines and billboards, let's exploit my oh so tender body with dolls, video games, a line of Kotton brand panties. Let's tour the globe and act out my ridiculous show live, for the kids, but really for their dads. Over-sexualization is the way it goes for preteen stars like me, but what the idiots behind the desks don't realize is that we're scaring men away. They want to see the nervous innocent princess who's never seen a cock, not the penis-weary chain-smoking 8 year old who's seen it all. I walk the line between innocence and hypersexuality so that I can control both sides. The naive angel and the world-wise whore, both useful parts to play for the right audience. Men are afraid to stare me dead on, but I notice them looking, out of the corner of their eyes, through their sunglasses, with their SafeSearches off and their internet history deleted. All these ways for men to watch, all these ways for them to hide their little fantasies and cover their tracks. All these socially accepted forms of voyeurism. Let's put the girl on talk shows, in commercials, let's have her release a pop album, put her in a movie, put her in another movie, get her trained for an altogether different type of film that she'll inevitably resort to when people stop calling her after her 16th birthday, let's get the girl's name on lipstick, handbags, miniskirts, sneakers, let's make every other girl a clone of KC Kotton, so that there's just a million versions of me walking the streets and scaring men in their peripheral vision.

On my fourth 8th birthday, I signed a multi-million dollar contract and officially became KC Kotton: Child Star. It's all I've ever wanted. I want attention, I want money, I want accessories, I want fame, all so that you're afraid of me. I want to choose my man, not be chosen. I want to control my audience, not be controlled. I want to be watched. Even if it crosses the line. Men in trees with binoculars. Hidden cams. Shrines of my buried away in secret rooms behind bookshelves. I want a thousand men jerking off to me while the one I choose gets to have me. I've seen girls fall prey to the danger of psycho-stalkers. The girl I took over for on my current show was one of the lucky ones, he just straight up killed her. No psychological torture, no rape, just took her life. Most of us don't get out that easily. For every hundred guys who just keep their weirdo behaviour to themselves and think about it in the safety of their own delusional mind, there's one that thinks he can really have you, that doesn't see distance or legalities or locks as any kind of barrier. Those are my favourite, because those are the ones you can really use. Sure, I'll roll over for the panty shot, but you owe me one. And honey, as time flies by, the amount of favours I've collected is almost more than what's in my bank account.

Let's be honest here, I'm not afraid of the tabloid bullshit, the stalkers, the perverts, the murderers. That's all publicity, and if I play it smart, there's enough mileage in potential tragedies to keep my cute little ass relevant until I'm at least 25, and that's a million years away. No, what really scares me, more than the idea of being unaware that someone's watching, is the idea of being certain that absolutely no one is watching. If I'm the only witness to every second of my existence, well, that just won't do. There needs to be a record, words, video, collectibles. I need to be sure that others know I'm out there. Because if it's just me, if I'm the only audience I have, then what does it matter when all my memories die with me? So follow me, film me, stalk me, fantasize about me, just never stop thinking about me or I may just cease to exist. On my fifth and final 8th birthday, I received a letter from some nut who is convinced I'm his vanished daughter and wants me to come back home to him. That's when I began to wonder if this being young and beautiful thing was getting old and ugly.

(End of Excerpt)

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

Maynard James Keenan says...

'So pure, so rare, to witness such an earthly goddess, that I've lost my self control, beyond compelled to throw this dollar down before your holiest of altars..I'd sell my soul, my self-esteem one dollar at a time, one chance, one kiss, one taste of you, my Magdalena.'

- Maynard James Keenan ('Magdalena', Mer de Noms, A Perfect Circle, 2000)

Leslie Knope says...

'The idea behind this campaign is a simple one: that with hard work and positivity, a group of people can make a difference. During my term as your city counsellor, I want to focus on your hopes, not your fears. I want to solve problems instead of creating friction. And I will work hard every hour of every day to make Pawnee a better place to live. Because I love this city. And I know first hand how very special the people of this city are. I owe this victory, all of it, to my friends and my supporters. No one achieves anything alone. So let's embark on a new journey together. Let's break out a map. Not the old out of date one that shows where we've been, but a new, crisp one that shows where we might go. Let's embark on a new journey together, and see where it takes us.'

- Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler, 'Win Lose or Draw', written by Michael Schur, Parks and Recreation, created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, 2012)

Visual: Cast of 'Parks and Recreation'

Today, I'd like to celebrate the hilariously talented cast of Parks and Recreation with images that pretty much sum up their characters. I have a soft spot for this show, which follows the same format as The Office, but varies quite a bit when it comes to the overall tone of the show Where The Office loves to exploit awkward, uncomfortable, and ridiculously absurd situations, Parks is a lot more about moral dillemas, relationships, and political satire. Sure, the show can still be very mean-spirited (just ask Jerry), but it has heart and soul like not many other sitcoms out there right now. We're currently about halfway through Season 5, and here's hoping we get a Season 6!

Image #1: Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope

Image #2: Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson

Image #3: Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford

Image #4: Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins

Image #5: Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate

Image #6: Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer

Image #7: Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt (my personal favourite)

Image #8: Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger

Parks and Recreation was created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, 2009

Tom Petty says...

'It's good to be king, just for a while, to be there in velvet, yeah, to give em a smile, it's good to get high, and never come down, it's good to be king of your own little town..Yeah, the world would swing, if I were king, can I help it if I still dream from time to time..It's good to be king, and have your own way, get a feeling of peace at the end of the day, and when your bulldog barks and your canary sings, you're out there with winners, it's good to be king..Yeah, I'll be king, when dogs get wings, can I help it if I still dream from time to time..It's good to be king, and have your own world, it helps to make friends, it's good to meet girls, a sweet little queen who can't run away, it's good to be king, whatever it pays..Excuse me if I have some place in my mind, where I go time to time.'

- Tom Petty ('It's Good to be King', Wildflowers, Tom Petty, 1994)

Batman also says...

'You don't...get it, boy...This isn't a's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon.'

- Batman (The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, 1986. Batman was created by Bob Kane, 1939)

Batman also says...

'He's young, he'll walk again. But he'll stay scared - - won't you, punk?'

- Batman (The Dark Knight Returns, written and illustrated by Frank Miller, 1986. Batman was created by Bob Kane, 1939)

Batman says...

'This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle - - broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would...But I'm a man of thirty - - of twenty again. The rain on my chest is a baptism - - I'm born again.'

- Batman (The Dark Knight Returns, written and illustrated by Frank Miller, 1986, Batman was created by Bob Kane)

Visual: 10 Full-Page Images from 'The Dark Knight Returns'

All images from The Dark Knight Returns, written and illustrated by Frank Miller, 1986. Batman was created by Bob Kane, 1939.

The Narrator of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' also says...

'Arthur slept: he was terribly tired.'

- The Narrator (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979)

The Narrator of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' also says...

'Ford couldn't sleep. He was too excited about being back on the road again. Fifteen years of virtual imprisonment were over, just as he was finally beginning to give up hope. Knocking about with Zaphod for a bit promised to be a lot of fun, though there seemed to be something faintly odd about his semi-cousin that he couldn't put his finger on. The fact that he had become President of the Galaxy was frankly astonishing, as was the manner of his leaving the post. Was there a reason behind it? There would be no point in asking Zaphod, he never appeared to have a reason for anything he did at all: he was turned unfathomability into an art form. He attacked everything in life with a mixture of extraordinary genius and naive incompetence and it was often difficult to tell which was which.'

- The Narrator (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979)

The Narrator of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' also says...

'Zaphod couldn't sleep. He also wished he knew what it was that he wouldn't let himself think about. For as long as he could remember he'd suffered from a vague nagging feeling of being not all there. Most of the time he was able to put this thought aside and not worry about it, but it had been re-awakened by the sudden inexplicable arrival of Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent. Somehow it seemed to conform to a pattern that he couldn't see.'

- The Narrator (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979)

The Narrator of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' says...

'Trillian couldn't sleep. She sat on a couch and stared at a small cage which contained her last and only links with Earth - two white mice that she had insisted Zaphod let her bring. She had expected never to see the planet again, but she was disturbed by her negative reaction to the news of the planet's destruction. It seemed remote and unreal and she could find no thoughts to think about it. She watched the mice scurrying round the cage and running furiously in their little plastic treadwheels till they occupied her whole attention. Suddenly she shook herself and went back to the bridge to watch over the tiny flashing lights and figures that charted the ship's progress through the void. She wished she knew what it was she was trying not to think about.'

- The Narrator (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gord Downie says...

'Bring me back in shackles, hang me long out in the sun, exonerate me, forget about me, I recommend measures for ending it, lover, she simply slammed the door, she said, you're gonna miss me, wait and you'll see, fully, completely.'

- Gord Downie ('Fully Completely', Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip, 1992)

Paul Simon says...

'Time, see what's become of me, while I looked around for my possibilities, I was so hard to please..I look around, leaves are brown, and the sky is a hazy shade of winter..Hear the Salvation Army band, down by the riverside, it's bound to be a better ride, than what you've got planned., carry your cup in your hand, and look around, leaves are brown now, and the sky is a hazy shade of winter..Hang on to your hopes, my friend, that's an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away, simply pretend that you can build them again..Look around, the grass is high, the fields are ripe, it's the springtime of my life..Seasons change with the scenery, weaving time in a tapestry, won't you stop and remember me, at any convenient time, funny how my memory skips, looking over manuscripts of unpublished rhyme, drinking my vodka and lime..Look around, leaves are brown, there's a patch of snow on the ground.'

- Paul Simon ('A Hazy Shade of Winter', Simon and Garfunkel, 1966)

Photography: Panoramas of a Winter Sunset at Kanaka Creek

Two panoramas taken at Kanaka Creek during a chilly winter sunset. Enjoy!

Photographs taken at Kanaka Creek in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, by Chessterr Hollowberry, 2013

Photography: Wintertime Nature at Kanaka Creek

Who says that nature appreciation is only for a warm summer day? My philosophy, shared by my close friends, is that as long as it's not a thunderstorm or blizzard, you can get out there and enjoy nature. Here are some shots I took of a beautiful January sunset down at Kanaka Creek. Sure, relaxing on the hot beach is nice, but a brisk walk by the riverside is just as soothing to the soul.

Photographs taken at Kanaka Creek in Maple Ridge, by Chessterr Hollowberry, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson say...

'I want it to be over, turn the boat around and bring that girl in, I stumble through the error, hope deferred makes the heart sick sick sick, the circle, rules and ruins, yet again we are on our own, I don't need your opinions, what I got is alright..I know you're bleeding, baby, but you're not bleeding blood..I need it, you never show me, keep it in the back seat nice and sharp, uneasy in the daytime, how'd you feel alive if you cannot climb in, we aim to make a difference, get a sense of meaning from our time here, I don't need your opinions, what I got is alright.'

- Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson ('Blood', Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, Band of Skulls, 2009)

Evil Abed says...

'Do you know what kind of person becomes a psychologist, Britta? A person that wishes deep down that everyone more special than them was sick, because healthy sounds so much more exciting than boring. You're average, Britta Perry. You're every kid on the playground that was never picked on. You're a business casual potted plant, a human white sale. You're VH1, RoboCop 2, and Back to the Future 3. You're the center slice of a square cheese pizza. Actually, that sounds delicious. I'm the center slice of a square cheese pizza, you're Jim Belushi.'

- Evil Abed (played by Abed, played by Danny Pudi, 'Introduction to Finality', written by Steve Basilone and Annie Mebane, Community, created by Dan Harmon, 2012)

The Narrator of 'Fahrenheit 451' says...

'It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with his great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmet numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furance, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning. Montag grinned the fierce grin of all men singed and driven back by flame. He knew that when he returned to the firehouse, he might wink at himself, a minstrel man, burnt-corked, in the mirror. Later, going to sleep, he would feel the fiery smile still gripped by his face muscles, in the dark. It never went away, that smile, it never ever went away, as long as he remembered.'

- The Narrator (Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury, 1953)

Tom Waits says...

'Uncle Vernon, independent as a hog on ice, he's a big shot down there at the slaughterhouse, plays accordion for Mr. Weiss..Uncle Biltmore and Uncle William, made a million during World War Two, but they're tightwads and they're cheapskates, and they'll never give a dime to you..Auntie has gone insane, she lives in the doorway of an old hotel, and the radio is playing opera, all she ever says is Go to Hell..Uncle Violet flew as a pilot, and there ain't no pretty girls in France, now he runs a tiny little bookie joint, they say he never keeps it in his pants..Uncle Bill will never leave a will, and the tumor is as big as an egg, he has a mistress, she's Puerto Rican, and I heard she has a wooden leg..Uncle Phil can't live without his pills, he has emphysema and he's almost blind, and we must find out where the money is, get it now before he loses his mind.'

- Tom Waits ('Cemetery Polka', Rain Dogs, Tom Waits, 1985)

Excerpt from 'Parts of Noah' (11): The Walk Through Third Cemetery

Half of the tombstones in Third Cemetery wore names of people I’d seen, some alive, most of them dead. This story may be as real as Zeus’ exploding microwave bullet story, but I remember it as exactly as he does. First corpse I’d ever seen, probably my first memory. You probably remember eating cake, stuffing your face with the junk sugar frosting and stuffing your little tiny ego with all the adoration you could ever ask for. You might remember the first bug you ate, maybe the first time you really scraped yourself up, stitches and bone, I’m sure you’ve had your falls. Maybe you remember your dad, sitting on his lap, or your mom’s lullabies. Maybe you’re like Dizzy, who tries to think back but sees nothing, not even black or white, just absolutely nothing. What I remember, the farthest back my brains can see, is a man in a bathtub, shriveled and bled dry. I look back and I just see the colour red. His eyes were closed and his arms were crossed over his stomach, and though I know now that it must have been a knife, I had no idea then what a stab wound was. I don’t remember the incident with any sort of emotion attached, I just see it and don’t wonder if it’s shaped me any. I never saw the man afterwards. Wait, a rephrase: The man in the road with the tears and the mustache might have been him. I didn’t stop to make sure. I wonder if the grave lady is still speaking poetry, even with ants and worms taking her over and the suffocation of dirt. I walked along the rows of tombstones with Dizzy circling me, twirling in her own pattern, smiling but singing no lullaby, not giggling. She was reading aloud the names of the skeletons on the ground.
-Robert May, he’s seen his last, beside Donna Jean who died so fast, never living to see herself a woman, beside Jonny Jacks just part of the earth now, though he never loved it.
She said all this while dancing zig-zags through the tombstone field, her head bowed, her hair hanging far past her face and shading all of her face but her eyes. She was looking at the ground, not the names on the cement slabs. There were no monuments in Third Cemetery, no fancy gargoyles or flower arrangements. It was all uniform, exact replica concrete slabs with cheap black paint smeared across. I could barely read the names of the deceased, but Dizzy seemed to know them all.
-Harley Wilby, bled dry in a tub, Donald Mayor saw a bullet through and through, poor poor Mary May hung herself and it didn’t take long, Martin Lillet died alone as he lived, alone, and Chloe Stern without a head, not a happy ending, not a zombie here with a clean conscience.
-I’ve been waiting for hands to burst from the dirt. Sounds like a lot of these people have…
-Unfinished business. It’s souls only souls that come back, the bodies they stay in the coffin’s eternity, it’s the ghosts that have a goal, your body is just a tool. You’ll be around a lot longer than that skin you’re wearing will.

We had made it to the other end of the cemetery, no zombies rising and her continually listing off names and speaking in riddles. It might have been the pill and the breathing, or the girl and her spinning, but I felt entirely at peace. I looked back across the graves, nobody had seemed to notice Zeus’ car smashed up into the dumptruck, anybody that walked by just walked, nobody looks around much anymore. I turned back around and Dizzy was gone, the gates to the buyer’s house was half open, made of metal rods with dull spikes at the tip of each. The house itself was more of a shack but a living space is anywhere you create it, and I’ve lived in a lot worse. I didn’t see Dizzy anywhere in the yard, and saw only dying grass and a withering tree. I pulled the bag of pills that wasn’t mine out of my jeans, swiping a vein colored one and a snot colored one and sealing the bag shut, and walked up the two wooden stairs to the buyer’s door without a knob or a knocker. The windows were covered and I could hear nothing on the inside. A dead mouse lay where a ‘welcome’ mat might have been, and if you looked close enough you could see tiny words inked into its dead but never decayed body, a language I didn’t recognize. In a moment of clarity staring at that rodent, I knew that once the deal was dealt with, I’d go in search of the living and breathing, so much death in a day can tire a spirit and I could feel mine dwindling, so I took another pill and entered the buyer’s shack.

(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!

JJ Grey says...

'Some say that I wronged you, but I don't know how, if I could make it right, you know I would, you know I would, so please forgive me for what some other man did to you, before I came along, cause I don't want to go on fighting and fussing over something I can't change at all...If time heals all wounds, then change comes slow, so slow, but if I see a smile on your face, the sun may yet Lord shine on us...There's no way I can change the past or your pain, I don't want to fight, walking in circles, I'm not the one who who you so deep down, let's start a new now, walking in circles.'

- JJ Grey ('Circles', Country Ghetto, JJ Grey and Mofro, 2007)

Matthew Ward says...

'No sentence in French literature in English translation is better known than the opening sentence of The Stranger. It has become a sacred cow of sorts, and I have changed it. In his notebooks Camus recorded the observation that 'the curious feeling the son has for his mother constitutes all his sensibility.'...To use the more removed, adult 'Mother' is, I believe, to change the nature of Mersault's curious feeling for her. It is to change his very sensibility.'

- Matthew Ward (from 'Translator's Note', The Stranger, Albert Camus, 1942, translated by Matthew Ward, 1988)

Mersault says...

'Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know. I got a telegram from the home: 'Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Failthfully yours.' That doesn't mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.'

- Mersault (Opening paragraph of The Stranger, Albert Camus, 1942, translated from French to English by Matthew Ward, 1988)


'Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas. J'ai reçu un télégramme de l'asile: Mère décédée. Enterrement demain. Sentiments distingués. Cela ne veut rien dire. C'était peut-être hier' - original by Albert Camus

'Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. I had a telegram from the home: 'Mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Yours sincerely.' That doesn't mean anything. It may have been yesterday.' - translated by Joseph Laredo, 1982

'Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. The telegram from the Home says: Your mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Deep sympathy. Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday.' - translated by Stuart Gilbert, 1946

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kurt Vonnegut says...

'Okay now, let's have some fun. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about women. Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women what: a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything. What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them. Why are so many people getting divorced today? It's because most of us don't have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to. A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys. But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man.'

- Kurt Vonnegut (A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut, 2005)

Courtney Taylor-Taylor says...

'I want a God who stays dead, not plays dead, I, even I, can play dead.'

- Courtney Taylor-Taylor ('Nietzsche', Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, The Dandy Warhols, 2000)

Corb Lund says...

'When the oil stops, everything stops, nothin left in the fountain, nobody wants paper money, son, so you just as well stop countin, can you break the horse, can you light the fire, what's that, I beg your pardon, you'd best start thinking where your food comes from, and I hope you tend a good garden...Gettin down on the mountain, gettin down on the mountain, don't wanna be around when the shit goes down, I'll be gettin down on the mountain, going to ground on the mountain...When the trucks don't run, the bread won't come, have a hard time finding petrol, water ain't running in the city no more, do you hold any precious metal, can you gut the fish, can you read the sky, what's that about overcrowding, you ever seen a man whose kids ain't ate for 17 days and counting...There ain't no heat and the power's gone out, it's kerosene lamps and candles, the roads are blocked, it's all gridlocked, you got a shortwave handle, can you track the deer, can you dig the well, I couldn't quite hear your answer, I think I see a rip in the social fabric, brother can you pass the ammo.'

- Corb Lund ('Gettin Down on the Mountain', Cabin Fever, Corb Lund, 2012)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Calvin also says...

'This year was lousy, but at least it's familiar. I hate change! It's too disruptive! When things are different, you have to think about the change and deal with it! I like things to stay the same, so I can take everything for granted! Besides, things keep changing for the worse! The longer I live, the more complicated everything gets! I say lets stop here, before life gets any harder! From now on, no more change! .........I'm bored. Let's do something different.'

- Calvin (appears in Calvin and Hobbes: Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat (1994), Bill Watterson, 1992)

Calvin says...

'I'm getting disillusioned with these New Years. They don't seem very new at all! Each new year is just like the old year! Here another year has gone by and everything's still the same! There's still pollution and war and stupidity and greed! Things haven't changed! I say what kind of future is this?! I thought things were supposed to improve! I thought the future was supposed to be better!'

- Calvin (appears in Calvin and Hobbes: Scientific Progress Goes 'Boink' (1991), Bill Watterson, 1989)

Note: Hobbes replies, 'The problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present.'


As 2013 begins, and we find our way out of the foggy haze and food comas of the holidays, we have another 12 months ahead of us. 365 more chances to make this a year to remember, to improve our lives, and hopefully avoid the inevitable tragedies that accompany this living thing. Usually the New Year marks a fresh start, a chance to right the wrongs, meet new people, find new opportunities. However, this feeling of being born into a new year of possibility is amplified by the fact that we all survived 2012, the year that the world was supposed to end. Did anyone really think that the apocalypse was going to happen? Sure, it's fun to speculate and even fantasize, but my feeling is that when the world really does come to an end, if any of us are around to witness it, we won't have a countdown clock and a planned party, we'll just...stop. Since the world didn't end and we moved through December with our regularly scheduled programming, it's time to start thinking about New Years resolutions, right? It's the question that most of us has to face as we see family members and reunite with friends and co-workers: What's your New Years Resolution?

Let me start by saying that if there ever was a time when these so-called resolutions were taken seriously, no irony or self-deprecation, just pure intention to really make a positive difference in our lives, then it came way before my existence. Now, it's almost a society-wide joke to ask the resolution question. We all know we won't stick to them, that we're dreamers, that two weeks into the New Year we'll be eating junk food, flipping out with road rage, smoking a pack a day, and all those other negative traits and vices that plague us all. But it's a nice idea, isn't it? That night could turn into day and suddenly we have all the chances in the world to finally make those changes we've been putting off. The calendar now says 2013, so who's to say that we can't eat healthier, drive safer, give up smoking, and so on. Try it out, though. Ask someone around you about their New Years resolution. Chances are, and this is just from my own experience, you won't get a verbal answer, just a laugh, a sigh, or a shrug. Maybe some people really do believe that when the calendar changes we can change right along with it. The truth is that most of us don't have the patience for true self improvement. We're in our routines and we like our guilty pleasures and we're supposed to love ourselves just as we are, right?

Let's dig a little deeper into how our human-made constructs of Time relate to our attempts (and failures) to change certain aspects of ourselves. Now, I'm no scientist, no great philosopher or theologian, I know most of what I know just by being observant and taking careful notes about what I see around me. What I do know is that clocks weren't already here when Man and Woman came along. Somewhere along the way, someone decided that we'd categorize our experience of time passing into years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds. Beyond that, we dressed some of these days up real fancy, coming up with special titles like Christmas and New Years so that, just once a year, a Tuesday is more than just a Tuesday, it's something special. When a Monday night turns into a Tuesday morning, most of us barely even notice. When New Years Eve turns into New Years Day, we party like animals, or at least celebrate to some extent. Now, with the monotony of living day to day, I fully understand why we have these special holidays, a way to break depression and an excuse to be nice to our fellow man in the name of something grander than 'just because'.

What's a little more confusing to me is why on this Special Tuesday (New Years Day), we give ourselves a laundry list of improvements to make over the next 12 months. It seems to me that if you really wanted to eat more vegetables, smoke less tobacco, drive like a rational person, wouldn't we that? People get so stuck in their routines, in this concept of 'personality' and 'habits', that it often doesn't occur to us that we're in control. Life changes can be terrifying, difficult, and time-consuming, but we can start anytime we want. Don't eat like a pig all year and then tell me that just because we say it's January 1st, 2013, you'll suddenly stop. It's the pressure that gets to most of us. The fear that we've told our loved ones that we're going to exercise, and two weeks into the New Year, we're plastered to the couch with soda stains on our shirt. Here's my friendly advice: Don't change because it's the New Year. Don't change because everyone else has resolutions that they're working on. Don't change because the calendar that we invented ourselves tells us that it's time. Change because you want to. Change because there's a healthier, calmer, safer life to live. This week is only different from last week because we say that it is.

Sure, there are aspects of my lifestyle that I'd like to change. Furthermore, there's aspects of my lifestyle that I need to change, if I want to live a long and fulfilling life. But I'm not making a list, I'm not making a resolution, I'm not waiting around for a New Year, I'm working on these changes every day. It's a conscious effort and it's not easy, but it's something I want to do, and the only pressure comes from myself, not from Time or Society or this magic idea that we've entered a new era, when really, it's just another day out of the thousands that we're going to live. And if I am going to accept this idea of a New Year, then all I hope is that I'm in a better place this time next year than I am right now. If I make that a resolution, chances are I'll fail. If I make that a reality that I'm going to live every day, then it just might work.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Narrator of 'Jacob's Room' also says...

'The problem is insoluble. The body is harnessed to a brain. Beauty goes hand in hand with stupidity. There she sat staring at the fire as she had stared at the broken mustard-pot. In spite of defending indecency, Jacob doubted whether he liked it in the raw. He had a violent reversion towards male society, cloistered rooms, and the works of the classics; and was ready to turn with wrath upon whoever it was that fashioned life thus. Then Florida laid her hand upon his knee. After all, it was none her fault. But the thought saddened him. It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses. Any excuses, though, serves a stupid woman. He told her his head ached. But when she looked at him, dumbly, half-guessing, half-understanding, apologizing perhaps, anyhow saying as he had said, 'It's none my fault,' straight and beautiful in body, her face like a shell within its cap, then he knew that cloisters and classics are no use whatever. The problem is insoluble.'

- The Narrator (Jacob's Room, Virginia Woolf, 1922)

The Narrator of 'Jacob's Room' says...

'It seems then that men and women are equally at fault. It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly unknown. Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or growing old. In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows. And why, if this and much than this is true, why are we yet surprised in the window corner by a sudden vision that the young man in the chair is of all things in the world the most real, the most solid, the best known to us - why indeed? For the moment after we know nothing about him. Such is the manner of our seeing. Such the conditions of our love.'

- The Narrator (Jacob's Room, Virgina Woolf, 1922)

Note: I'm not an official Virginia Woolf fan, and you won't see too much of her writing posted here. However, I studied Jacob's Room in a literature class back in university and this novel has always impressed me as one of the truest 'character studies' I've ever read. Without a linear (or coherant) plot, Jacob's Room is a collection of scenes, conversations, and memories that all add up to a character named Jacob, who we never really get a clear picture of, only distant impressions. It's a challenging read, especially for those who need a clean beginning-middle-end structure, but if you're into experimental structuring and complex character studies, I'd recommend this read.

John Watson says...

'You, you told me once, that you weren't a hero. Ummm...there were times I didn't even think you were human, but let me tell you this: You were the best man, the most human human being that I've ever known, and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie, so...there. I was so alone, and I owe you so much. But please, there's just one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me, don't be...dead. Would you do that just for me? Just stop it. Stop this.'

- John Watson (played by Martin Freeman, 'The Reichenbach Fall', written by Steve Thompson, Sherlock, created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, 2012)

Sherlock Holmes says...

'No...because I took your pulse. Elevated. Your pupils dilated. I imagine John Watson thinks love's a mystery to me, but the chemistry is incredibly simple and very destructive. When we first met, you told me that a disguise is always a self-portrait, how true of you, the combination to your safe, your measurements. But, this, this is far more intimate. This is your heart, and you should never let it rule your head. You could have chosen any random number and walked out of here today with everything you worked for. But you couldn't resist it, could you? I've always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.'

- Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch, 'A Scandal in Belgravia', written by Steven Moffat, Sherlock, created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, 2012)

Visual: British TV is Awesome

Here's my 'British Television is Awesome' photoset, celebrating 3 of my favourite TV shows: Sherlock, Misfits, and Luther. While most of what I watch comes from North America, I can't deny that the British seem to be just a little better at making quality television entertainment.

Sherlock transcends what I thought television could be, with outstanding performances, highly intelligent mysteries, and masterful cinematography. Misfits is unlike any other show on television, with its genre-bending madness, unpredictability, and some gore and sex to satisfy our more primal urges. Then there's Luther, a dark and twisted crime drama that adds depth and complexity to the typical genius-detective-with-demons genre.

Currently, Sherlock is on hiatus until 2014, Misfits just ended their 4th series, and Luther is expected to return with a 3rd series later on this year. As we wait for these shows to return, let's take a moment to appreciate some amazing British television.

Image #1/#2: Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, Martin Freeman as John Watson (Sherlock was created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, 2010)

Image #3: Nathan Stewart-Jarret as Curtis, Robert Sheehan as Nathan, Lauren Socha as Kelly, Antonia Thomas as Alisha, and Iwan Rheon as Simon

Image #4: Natasha O'Keeffe as Abbey, Nathan McMullen as Finn, Matt Stokoe as Alex, Karla Crome as Jess, and Joseph Gilgun as Rudy (Misfits was created by Howard Overman, 2009)

Image #5/#6: Idris Elba as John Luther, and Warren Brown as Justin Ripley (Luther was created by Neil Cross, 2010)

Full credit to whoever is responsible for these images

John Ottway says...

'Once more into the fray.../Into the last good fight I'll ever know./Live and die on this day.../Live and die on this day...'

- John Ottway (played by Liam Neeson, The Grey, written by Joe Carnahan and Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, 2012. Based on the short story Ghost Walker by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers)

Note: This poem is recited by John Ottway, who remembers seeing it hung up in his father's office as a child. Though it sounds like a classic poem written by a renowned author, it was actually written by Joe Carnahan for the film's script. The poem is shown in flashbacks and repeated throughout the film, emphasizing the characters' struggle to survive against vicious weather and a bloodthirsty pack of wolves. Definitely not an action-packed thrill-ride from end to end, more of a moody slow-burner with bursts of violence and tense situations. While not nearly a perfect film, The Grey is a nice addition to the survival-horror genre, with some intense action and thought-provoking psychological and existential themes.

The Narrator of 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' says...

'The voice from the telescreen was still pouring forth its tale of prisoners and booty and slaughter, but the shouting outsie had died down a little. The waiters were turning back to their work. One of them approached with the gin bottle. Winston, sitting in a blissful dream, paid no attention as his glass was filled up. He was not running or cheering any longer. He was back in the Ministry of Love, with everything forgiven, his soul white as snow. He was in the public dock, confessing everything, implicating everybody. He was walking down the white-tiled corridor, with the feeling of walking in sunlight, and an armed guard at his back. The long-hoped-for-bullet was entering his brain. He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it was taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving beast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.'

- The Narrator (Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949)

Jimi Hendrix says...

'After all the jacks are in their boxes, and the clowns have all gone to bed, you can hear happiness staggering on down the street, footprints dressed in red, and the wind whispers Mary...A broom is drearily sweeping up the broken pieces of yesterday's life, somewhere a queen is weeping, somewhere a king has no wife, and the wind, it cries Mary...The traffic lights turn up blue tomorrow, and shine their emptiness down on my bed, the tiny island sags downstream, cause the life that lived is now dead, and the wind screams Mary...Will the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past, and with its crutch, its old age, and its wisdom, it whispers no, this will be the last, and the wind cries Mary.'

- Jimi Hendrix ('The Wind Cries Mary', Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967)

Note: While Jimi Hendrix is primarily known for his cocky attitude and outrageous showmanship, 'The Wind Cries Mary' is a great example of Jimi's natural talent as a guitarist and as a lyricist (an aspect of his music that he doesn't seem to get a lot of credit for). I appreciate this track for its subtlety and thoughtfulness, and for its poetic and emotional lyrics. This song has been covered by many different artists, and my favourite version (other than Jimi's), is by Xavier Rudd, who tones the song down even more with just an acoustic guitar and soft vocals.

The Narrator of 'Chew' says...

'Meet Tony Chu. Tony Chu is almost always hungry and almost never eats. Here's why: Tony Chu is Cibopathic. That means he can take a bite of an apple, and get a feeling in his head about what tree it grew from, what pesticides were used on the crop, and when it was harvested. Or he could eat a hamburger and flash onto something else entirely. Strangely enough, the only food Tony Chu can eat and not get a psychic sensation from is beets. Consequently, Tony Chu eats a lot of beets.'

- The Narrator ('Issue 1', written by John Layman, Chew, created by John Layman and Rob Guillory, 2009)

Visual: 6 Favourite 'Chew' Covers

In November, the Chew comic released Issue #30, marking the halfway point in the 60-issue series. With the first half of this creative and colourful comic series finished, I thought it was time to celebrate my 6 favourite covers from the first half. Along withThe Walking Dead, this is the best graphic novel that I've read, though I am fairly new to the medium and have a lot of catching up to do.

Although the plots are sometimes a little too ridiculous for my tastes, what keeps me interested in Chew is the unique and often disgusting animation style, the witty dialogue and odd characterization, and the tons and tons of hidden jokes embedded in just about every frame. Oh, and the idea of a world where chicken is banned and people have food-related superpower abilities is definitely original enough to keep me reading until the end, which creator John Layman has confirmed will be Issue 60. If Issues 1 - 30 are any indication, this series is only going to get weirder, grosser, and more unlike any other work of fiction that's out there.

Image #1: Issue 1

Image #2: Issue 5

Image #3: Issue 10

Image #4: Issue 13

Image #5: Issue 19

Image #6: Issue 30

Chew is written by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, and was created by Layman and Guillory in 2009.

Alex says...

'Yes yes yes, there it was. Youth must go, ah yes. But youth is only being in a way like it might be an animal. No, it is not just like being an animal so much as being like one of these malenky toys you viddy being sold in the streets, like little chellovecks made out of tin and with a spring inside and then a winding handle on the outside and you wind it up grrr grrr grrr and off it itties, like walking, O my brothers. But it itties in a straight line an bangs straight into things bang bang and it cannot help what it is doing. Being young is like being like one of these malenky machines.'

- Alex (A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, 1962)

Chris Cornell also says...

'Close your eyes and bow your head, I need a little sympathy, cause fear is strong and love's for everyone who isn't me, so kill your health and kill yourself and kill everything you love, and if you live, you can fall to pieces, and suffer with my ghost.'

- Chris Cornell ('Burden in my Hand', Down on the Upside, Soundgarden, 1996)

Chris Cornell says...

'Follow me into the desert, as thirsty as you are, crack a smile and cut your mouth and drown in alcohol, cause down below the truth is lying beneath the riverbed, so quench yourself and drink the water that flows below her head.'

- Chris Cornell ('Burden in my Hand', Down on the Upside, Soundgarden, 1996)

Photography: Nature Panoramas

Panorama photographs can be difficult to achieve correctly, especially with a regular digital camera, but the result of a successful one is always satisfying. Today, I'm sharing some of my favourite 3-frame nature panoramas from my personal collection. Enjoy!

These photographs were taken by Chessterr Hollowberry at various locations in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, except for image #6, which was created by Guy Dudeman (and is my favourite of the bunch)

Jack White says...

'White Americans, what, nothin better to do, why don't you kick yourself out, you're an immigrant too, who's using who, what should we do, well, you can't be a pimp and a prostitute too.'

- Jack White ('Icky Thump', Icky Thump, The White Stripes, 2007)

The Narrator of 'Being There' also says...

'Chance assumed that he was in some way responsible for her sorrow, but he did not know how. He put his arms around EE. She, as if expecting his touch, leaned heavily against him, and they tumbled over together on the bed. EE bent over his chest, her hair brushing his face. She kissed his neck and forehead; she kissed his eyes and his ears. Her tears wet his skin, and Chance smelled her perfume, all the while thinking of what he should do next. Now EE's hand touched his waist, and Chance felt the hand exploring his thighs. After a while, the hand withdrew. EE was not crying any longer; she lay quietly next to him, still and peaceful.'

- The Narrator (Being There, Jerzy Kosinski, 1970)

The Narrator of 'Being There' says...

'Chance was bewildered: there was clearly no place to which he could run away. He searched his memory and recalled situations on TV in which a woman advanced toward a man on a couch or a bed or inside a car. Usually, after a while, they would come very close to each other, and, often they would be partly undressed. They would then kiss and embrace. But on TV what happened next was always obscured: a brand new image would appear on the screen: the embrace of man and woman was utterly forgotten. And yet, Chance knew, there could be other gestures and other kinds of closeness following such intimacies.'

- The Narrator (Being There, Jerzy Kosinski, 1970)