Sunday, November 03, 2013

Brief Thoughts on Ender's Game

I never ended up posting anything on this old blog about Ender's Game, but on Facebook I encouraged people to go see it this weekend. I wanted people to see it (and still want people to see it) because I feel the Orson Scott Card backlash is counterproductive. Admittedly Brother Card has not been very tactful in expressing his views on gay marriage and I in fact don't entirely agree with him in his views. But we can't boycott everything we dislike some portion of. This is hyperpartisanship 101. I don't want to try to avoid any media, activity, group etc because some person involved in it doesn't entirely agree with me. And I don't want people to avoid something I might be involved in because they don't match with me 100%. Yes, if I'm throwing a Let's Pour Pain in the Ocean Party and you're an environmentalist, I understand that you'd not want to go. But I don't avoid movies because the writer is a Democrat or the star is a Jehovah's Witness or the food services guy is a hipster.

Anyway, that has nothing to do with the movie. Thoughts on the movie:

People seem to be upset that the movie is not the book. These people evidently have never seen a movie based on a book. It's a different format. You expect it to be simplified and streamlined. That's what happens. Deal with it.

The movie had a serious bias towards telling us versus showing us. I think this was partially in the interest of time, but also because I think the intended audience of the movie is 10 not 30.

I actually thought the kid playing Ender did an ok job. However the pacing of the movie stripped away a lot of what I liked about Ender. He needed to face struggle after struggle, coming up with new and different ways to deal with each. Instead we had him try a dozen new things in one battle. We didn't get the tenacity and ingenuity I would have liked. He seemed capable which was good, but he didn't seem as triumphant because there wasn't enough progression.

I would rather have had a 2 hour movie with more of this progress, but I don't think every movie needs to be 2 hours. They could have shortened the scenes on earth and the scenes in Command School and given us more Battle School.

But on the whole, I liked it. It was good for what it was, which was not exactly what I wanted. I want the movie to be successful but I don't especially want them to make any sequels. Speaker for the Dead would be interesting, but if they did it I'd rather have them just animate it. And none of Ender's sequels would be more adult (not R necessarily, just mature) so it would make for a disjointed movie series. The Bean books might work better, but also would be a bit difficult tonally. I'll see any of them they try to make, but I don't think they're destined for the big screen.

Anyway, it's pretty good. Go see it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013



I’m not dead. At least, I’m not any more. I came to life about three seconds ago. Maybe ten seconds ago if you normally read books from the Twilight series. Maybe one second ago if you’re a speed reader. But if you are a speed reader, do me a favor and slow down.

Wherever you are, I’m there, watching you read. I’m scrutinizing your face, trying to determine what you’re thinking, or maybe more importantly, feeling. It’s rude to stare, I know that, but maybe it’s less rude since you can’t see me. At least I don’t think you can. I couldn’t see anyone watching me when I first read that letter titled Jessica. But I’ve never been all that observant, so maybe Jessica was there, watching me as I read her. Watching my face as she heard her words, read in my voice. I could be dramatic and say A MESSAGE FROM THE GRAVE! But that wouldn’t strictly be accurate. A message not from the grave, but from somewhere unspoken and unknown. But in a sense also a message from here. Here and now.

In movies a character often has the foresight to prerecord a message that will start with him saying “If you’re watching this tape, I’m probably dead.” He knows something, is in danger because he knows it, and wants you to know what happened. It’s a bit selfish really, dragging you into whatever situation resulted in his untimely death. Or maybe timely, he predicted it after all. But I’m here to say the opposite. If you’re reading this, I am alive. I’m not going to tell you what I know. Because I don’t want you to end up staring at strangers as they read your words, or rather, read you.

I’m alive as long as you keep reading. Once you reach the end, I reach mine. I’ll be back of course, assuming you don’t destroy the letter. When the next person starts to read me I’ll again be alive, now watching them. Hopefully the Twilight reference will make no sense to them, having faded into obscurity. Hopefully it makes no sense to you I suppose. I apologize, I’m rambling. No one has more sympathy for Jessica than I do but she rambled on and on and on. And on. Anything to keep you reading a little while longer. I promise, I’ll be brief.

Jessica’s letter was quite lengthy, a novel really. And it gave me all kinds of detailed instructions. Go to X, wait until the moon is at Y, recite Z (I’m censoring myself, I don’t live on Sesame Street or something.) She talked all about her childhood. Her lonely childhood with only her books to keep her company. She had so much love for those books, it was kind of sad. She knew she was lonely, but I don’t think she really knew how alone she was. And how alone she made herself, devoting so much of her life to those lifeless words. I hope that she is happy, now that she has joined those writing she so loved.

I’m no scholar, I don’t understand her love of the word. I read, I like it well enough. But she traveled to different times and places through her books. She read about all the things she wanted to see, the things she wanted to do and to feel. So maybe she’s happy now that she continues to leap across the expanse of human experience. Others will glimpse into the past through her words, and she’ll glimpse into the future as they read.

Myself, I’m not thrilled by the prospect. I’m sure you’re nice and all, and maybe we’d be great friends. Maybe we’d laugh until we cried until we laughed again. Maybe I’d learn great truths from you. Maybe I’d love you, or you’d love me, or best of all, we’d love each other. But that’s not what I get.

I get you, reading my words. And I don’t even particularly like my words. I haven’t taken a writing class since my Freshman year, and I did not do well. Being alive is something, but if that life is just an echo chamber of my own inane thoughts and inconsistent grammar, blinking out of existence once you finish the page, I’m not sure what that’s worth. I get to hear a new voice, but the words are the same. Always the same. I get a glimpse of wherever you happen to come across this letter, or wherever you do your pleasure reading. I hope you’re not on the toilet. But wherever it is, it will be gone in a minute. Less if you’re a speed reader.

So I’m not going to tell you about the Transcriptus as Jessica told me. I’m not going to tell you about X,Y or Z. If I did, you may feel compelled to go, to see how this could possibly be true. I won’t do that to you. Because there’s life beyond life and another’s memory can become your future and what we write can change our world. What we write can change us, capture us, become us. Even what we read can change the world. What we read can become us. It will become us.

Without telling you of the Caligo Scriptor, I can’t fully explain how I got here or impress upon you the importance of not pursuing this matter. And if you’ve found this, you might have found Jessica’s letter with it. DO NOT READ JESSICA’S LETTER. Or novel, as it were. I don’t know if she enjoys being read, she very well might. But I read her letter and found myself visiting Arkham. It’s not like me to drive across the country on a whim. I can’t help but feel that I wasn’t fully myself. That Jessica or Marduk or something else entirely compelled me to begin the series of events that has led me into your hands.

I didn’t mean to give you those details. As I state my intention not to, they burst forth. I must stop writing or I fear it will continue. I know now why Jessica prattled on, explaining everything at such great lengths. Apart from being a woman. It’s a hard thing to silence yourself, when silence banishes you.

Don’t read Jessica’s letter. Burn it if you have it. She spoke of Siegfried’s letter, and you should burn that as well. If you have already read Jessica, I hope you are stronger than I am. I will try to lend you my strength.

Burn this letter. Burn me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


You may have guessed by the title, but this is a little dark. Not R, but not G. 


Welcome to Murderburger, home of the Murderburger, can I take your order?

I’m Jane Prehurst from the Times-News, and I’m doing a piece on this restaurant. Can I take a statement from you . . .  Edgein? Ed-gein?

Oh, my name’s not Ed, we just have to wear a badge so we got a bunch of spares lying around.  Are you going to order something first?

I’d rather not, I think the theme of this restaurant is in poor taste.

Oh no, everything’s pretty good. Except for the Dahmer Dinner, I don’t really like that. But everything else is good. You could try it if you got the Dahmer/Unabomber combo.

Can you tell me why the owners chose such a morbid concept for their business?

Dunno really, it wasn’t in the training video. I think it’s a joke, like on PETA or something. They’re always saying meat is murder, and most of the food here is meat.

Maybe it’s a joke, but it’s still pretty upsetting. What about the families of these killers’ victims? 

Oh none of them live round here. I heard maybe Ted Bundy came through here but he didn’t kill no one. And there’s nothing here named after him anyway. We only have the Bundy Onion in the spring.

Just because they don’t live here doesn’t mean you can glorify these serial killers. What kind of a message does that send?

We don’t do any commercials really, everyone just knows the Murderburger’s here in town, they don’t have to advertise. I think you need to order something or get out of line.

Fine, I’ll have a small cheeseburger and some juice, whatever you have. And can you please get your manager?

Alright. Hey Manson, we need a Son of Samwich and OJ OJ! That’ll be $1.48.

It’s that cheap?

Best prices in town. I’ll go get Mr.  Gacy.


Welcome to Murderburger, home of the Murderburger, what can I do for you?

Yes, I’m Jane Prehurst from the Times-News, I’d just like to talk to you about this establishment and its controversial theme.

Well, it’s always nice to have people talking about your business. But we mostly rely on word of mouth, so I’m not sure if we’d be interested in having you write an article for the paper.

I’ll be writing the article either way Mr. Gacy, it’s just up to you if you’d like to explain yourself. Is that G-A-C-Y?

Oh, Gacy isn’t my real name, you can call me John Wayne.

John Wayne is your real name?

It isn’t.

So why should I call you that?

Is the article on the restaurant or my nametag? Would you like to know about our Zodiac Special?

No thank you.  The cashier thought the name Murderburger came from an insult to vegetarians, do you know if this is the case?

Not to my knowledge, we wouldn’t want our brand to be insulting to anyone. We do emphasize our sandwiches but we have some delicious vegetarian options, like our Green River Dinner.

Isn’t naming your food after serial killers insulting?

Insulting to whom?

To everyone! You’re honoring the most twisted, evil men in society!

Well that may be your opinion but I hardly think it’s a fact. Some people like chocolate, some like vanilla. To each their own.

To each their own? This isn’t just a matter of personal preference.

Isn’t everything? Who am I to tell you what you like? Who are you to tell me? Anyway, it’s primarily a gimmick. Murderburgers are more interesting than hamburgers, aren’t they? Our customers aren’t leaving the restaurant and murdering their way home. As far as we know.

But you admit that you’re presenting taking another person’s life as a matter of preference?

I can’t admit much. I’m just a manager. You’d need someone higher up to do any admitting.


Welcome to Murderburger Headquarters, home of the Murderburger. How may I help you?

Hello, I’m Jane . .  .

Prehurst! From the Times-News. Sandra told me you were coming in. What’s this about a newspaper article? We still have newspapers?

Well they need something to wrap the fish in, Mr . . .

I suppose so. And don’t forget the birdcages. In any case, I’m not sure if we really want a story about us right at the moment.

Unfortunately that’s not really the way the press works Mr. . .

It’s not that we’re embarrassed, far from it. It’s just our business strategy to focus on grassroots efforts and organic growth. Organic, not unlike many of our fine ingredients . .

Sir, what should I put as your name for the article?

I suppose Redrum would work. But as I was saying, we don’t see much that’s newsworthy at this time. In a year or two maybe.

What will be different in a year?

Well these things take time of course. That’s the organic approach. We represent an ideology not a fad and that takes some time and development.

An ideology? What exactly is the ideology of Murderburger?

Well murder of course! Like I said, we’re not embarrassed by it, we try to be fully transparent. We didn’t try to slip it in there like Jack the Ripper in the Box or Burger King Vlad the Impaler. We’re MURDER burger!

Your ideology is murder? I’m sorry, I don’t think I’m understanding this.

Oh I’m sure you do, it’s simple, a tale as old as Cain and Abel. It doesn’t take any fancy degrees to figure out how killing works.

You’re seriously advocating murder? Not just as a theme for your restaurant, actually killing?

Well, advocating isn’t strictly accurate. We’re not saying you NEED to go out there and kill indiscriminately. We’re just saying you should be able to do what you feel you need to do, without Big Brother coming down on you.

You can’t be serious. What kind of a society lets people murder each other?

Isn’t it democratic? Each gets to say what they wish, and even better has the power to follow through on their wishes without waiting for some giant bureaucracy to take care of it. DIY! Isn’t it capitalism in action? Work hard at achieving your goal and reap the rewards.

But you’re killing people! You can’t kill people! What’s the first of our rights as Americans? It’s LIFE!

You’re free to live. Just don’t make people want to kill you. Do make sure you’re able to defend yourself and kill them if you need to. The right to life isn’t absolute, the government kills people all the time.

The government has due process. The government is protecting the greater good. It’s not a raving lunatic skinning and eating people.

Nor are we. Am I raving? I may have raised my voice a little but I hardly think I’m raving. I’m just supporting those things that go along with life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness. What is life without these?

So Murderburger does advocate murder. It does want its customers to kill.

We want them to be able to kill. We want to show that others have decided for themselves to kill and you can too. We’re just trying to nudge the world forward and help it grow. Perhaps by thinning it a bit.

This is absurd, this won’t work.

Oh it can. It has. I’ve gotten lots of thank you letters. People are opening their eyes. Sometimes that requires closing other people’s eyes.

So you’ve convinced a few backwater sickos, the other 99.9% of us won’t stand for it

We’ll see. But you’re right, we don’t want to fight the 99.9%, which is why we have to politely decline your graciously offered publicity for the moment.

It’s my job to tell people what they need to hear. You don’t get to politely decline, that’s not how this works.

Well, it kind of is Ms Prehurst. Sandra, could you be a dear and lock the door? 


This one was a bit of a chore to read, so congratulations for making it to the end. My stories tend to be very dialogue based, so I decided to go whole hog and get rid of everything unspoken. Were I ever to publish it I'd likely go through and make it more traditionally structured. 

The main prompt here was I thought the combination of words Murder and Burger sounded funny. Around that I wanted a bunch of serial killer references, and some light social commentary. This isn't a hard hitting attack against anything in particular, but it was a bit of farce aimed at extremist views, difficulties in defending moral behavior without agreed upon morals, societal responsibility, libertarianism etc. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bad Things

It was writing club again which means I actually have something to post. How novel! 

Here's a poem.

Bad Things

Your story may end grandly or full of woe,
What comes in each tale, no man can know.
Life is a great gift, all secretly wrappen
But many bad things can happen.

Another may covet your very fair face,
Be exiled amongst a half-human race,
Sick hired blades, give a poisonous dose,
Leaving you dead cold and comatose.
Many bad things can happen.

You may be infertile and fail in your trade,
Black or blue magics your sad shack invade,
Then enter a plague of self righteous vermin,
And eaten alive after much lying and sermon.
Many bad things can happen.

Your mother may die, then too your father,
Your ward may abuse, neglect, chore and bother.
Talking to rodents and in transparent garb clad
With stories of love royal and fairy: you’ll go mad.
Many bad things can happen.

You may by simpletons be apprehended,
Have many more progeny than intended,
Which are hunted by an evil, cruel and thin
That seeks to steal their spottled skin.
Many bad things can happen.

You may grow so dull that none can stand you,
Stuck alone in the woods, no human in view,
With other unwanted: stupid bears, scared swine,
Sad beasts of burden and rabbits that whine.
Many bad things can happen.

You may see and crave a lifestyle alternative,
Be deceived, disfigured, disabled, but live,
Your father abusive and later emasculated,
Yourself impersonated, your friends masticated.
Many bad things can happen.

You may be antisocial, choosing books over men,
held captive by a creature in his cavernous den,
Be wracked by worry, and catch a syndrome,
Clouding your judgment like those in Stockholm.
Many bad things can happen.

You may be born into hopeless lack,
Lying and stealing and wearing a sack.
Lying and bribing when suddenly wealthy,
Denied, shirtless, betrayed and unhealthy.
Many bad things can happen.

You may be born well, spoiled and well-fed,
Then have your kin either die or wish you dead,
Surviving on insects and other food pathetic,
Growing both more selfish and apathetic.
Many bad things can happen.

Indeed many bad things can happen and will,
This wrapped gift is flawed, but a great gift still.
Ever after will come, and can come happily,
But until that time, we each come to see
Many bad things can happen.

The concept of the poem was to take something happy and make it appear sad. Not to twist the actual story, just how it is perceived so it sounds tragic. In the end it's the same story, it ends up being happy, and you can see that it's happy despite the trials. So I used Disney stories and pointed out some of the bad things that happened. 

Snow White
101 Dalmations
Winnie the Pooh
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King


The idea from the poem actually started with the Brave Little Toaster so here's the Toaster/Toy Story Stanza I cut:

You may never realize your toys are alive,
Ever watching as they scheme and connive,
You’d never be alone, not even in old age
Appliances stare and stalk at this stage.
Many bad things can happen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Story of a Song

The Story of a Song

King Rupert gently swirled the maroon Bordeaux in his chalice. Or so he experienced it; in his inebriated state he failed to notice the wine sloshing onto his shirt or pouring in rivulets down his throne. It would be a gruesome throne of blood, except it wasn’t blood, it was wine, which is much less gruesome, if at all gruesome. It was mostly sticky.

“The bouquet is . . . strong, but . . . small?” The king didn’t slur his words. One of his greatest aptitudes was not slurring when drunk. “In short, a mighty, fine wine. In long, a very very really really quite surprisingly but inevitably, considerably, significantly, arguably definitively mighty fine wine. In my opinion.”

“Blurble durble durble” said the bullfrog, slumped against the base of the drenched throne. “Hurble hurble durble. Ribbit” he added. He started to refill his goblet, but in finding this difficult to coordinate, decided to swig directly from the bottle. It was his wine after all.

“Oh Jeremiah, you are a good friend, in word and deed. Though I don’t understand your words, so mostly in deed, indeed. You may not even be named Jeremiah, I just started calling you that because you looked like a Jeremiah. You could be named anything, even King Rupert. Imagine that. Are you? Are you imagining it?”  The King squinted his eyes, as people do to scrutinize more thoroughly, though it counterproductively limited his vision. “I can’t tell. I think you’re imagining it.”

He wasn’t. The frog, who may or may not be named Jeremiah, was imagining a draghouirefly, which is a firefly stuffed inside a housefly stuffed inside a dragonfly. “Lurble. Murble lurble.” He said longingly. Which meant draghouirefly.

“Dibs! Dibs I say.” The proclamation was as regal as it was nonspecific and unprompted. “If a princess arrives, keep your lips off of her, I have dibs. I’m the King of the World after all, and you’re a toad. I stood on the bow of that ship. I made sure it crashed into that iceberg, and that’s how you become King of the World. You were probably sitting around playing Frogger. Or Super Mario Brothers 2. Or Battletoads. Or Mario 3. Or Star Fox.”

Jeremiah, if in fact his name was Jeremiah, which it may very well not be, was trying to open a new bottle of wine. This was difficult for him as his hands were covered in a thin layer of mucous. The mucous allowed him to breathe through his skin, but it also made his hands perpetually slippery. The mucous also made dating difficult.  He handed the bottle to King Rupert and made the bullfrog equivalent of puppydog eyes.

Rupert grabbed the bottle somewhat magnanimously. “Listen you Jeremy Fisher wannabe, the princess is mine. You can have Hello Kitty or Miss Piggy or whoever or whatever else. As long as we have that squared away we’re square. Don’t be a square.” He twisted off his left ring finger, revealing a corkscrew. “Look, you know I love the ladies, especially having fun with said ladies, especially making Sweet Love with them.” He opened the bottle using his hidden corkscrew finger and handed it back to Possibly Jeremiah.

“Murble. Murble murble murble murble murble. Murble murble murble. Croak.”

“And as you know” Rupert began, leaning forward conspiratorially, “Sweet Love is a chemical compound, soluble only in salt water that induces pure joy in humans under eighteen years of age. But it won’t work on me because I’m nineteen. And it won’t work on you because you, much like the character Frog from the children’s book Frog and Toad are Friends, are a frog.”

The frog of the unknown name wasn’t paying attention, but was instead enjoying his new bottle of wine. He had no idea what the human was saying because he wasn’t paying attention but also because he didn’t speak English. He just came here to get his wine bottles opened. To be polite he added “Lurble murble nurble.” Which was his phone number.

King Rupert glanced about the throne room, scanning for spies or eavesdroppers. Seeing none he slowly crumpled to the floor as nonchalantly as possible so Presumptive Jeremiah could hear his whispers. “Don’t we deserve to be happy, to have that joy? You’re well known around here, but you’re not Kermit-famous. You don’t want to be a big frog in a small pond, you want to be a huge frog in a giant, golden pond, filled with rubies and rupees and rubles.”


“No rubles.” Rupert again looked around the room to make sure no one was listening. “Here’s the plan. I get the Sweet Love from the ladies. You release it into the depths of the ocean. I know, you prefer fresh water, but quicker than you can sing Hello My Baby, you’ll be back to shore. The fish will ingest the Sweet Love, become overcome with joy and will easily be caught by fishermen. They’ll be made into fish sticks which only little boys and girls eat. The kids will become joyful, and thus docile, making parents’ jobs markedly easier. In gratitude they’ll promote me to MegaKing of the World. And guess who will be MegaPrince? My son. But guess who will be Vice MegaKing. You!”

“Rurble?” Potential Jeremiah was still stuck on this word as it had two meanings in amphibian. The first was to be well muscled, the second was to dissect. He didn’t know if he was being hit on or threatened, but didn’t like either option.

“Once I’m MegaKing I get to start all my projects. 1. Build a giant monument. 2. Ban war. 3. Ban cars. 4. Ban bars. Alcohol will be plentiful so bars will be obsolete. The mass drunkenness is why we banned the cars in project 3. 4. Build a giant monument for me. That first one was for the god Dionysus depicted as Chris Farley. 5. Invent a flying contraption that’s powered by refracted light during the day and by marijuana smoke at night. 6. Start my band The High Night Flyer and the Rainbow Riders. 7. Learn something about music.” Future MegaKing Rupert started to choke up, and with great difficulty concluded “8. Find my father.”

The facial expressions of bullfrogs and people differ greatly, and Maybe Jeremiah mistook Rupert’s childlike vulnerability for a wide grin. He laughed mightily to show that he was paying attention. “Murble burble murble burble.”

Thankfully his misunderstanding was misunderstood by Rupert ,who could see how much his childlike vulnerability had touched Might Be Jeremiah’s heart. “My father was a mercenary, a hired gun. That’s why I’m such a straight shooter. It’s also why I have a cybernetic left arm; I’m half gun myself. Growing up, that’s like being a tadpole to you, the other kids always made fun of me and my fully adult sized, weaponized arm. I had no joy. What I would’ve done for some Sweet Love then.”

“Gurble nurble? Purble, lurble murble nurble.” Perhaps Jeremiah had asked if King Rupert remembered his phone number, but he then remembered it on his own. He needed to call Mr. Toad and get a ride in his motorcar, as he was too intoxicated to drive himself at this point.  This didn’t stop him from handing another bottle of wine to Rupert, who opened it easily with his cybernetic hand.

“That’s why I have project 2, banning war. No son should have to grow up with a mercenary father. I may just ban the use of mercenaries and let wars continue, I haven’t quite decided.” He slowly pushed his way to his feet, slipping a bit in the puddles of wine. “I’m off. I shall procure the Sweet Love. You stay here and build up your energy with Honey Smacks and wine. When I return you’ll start your swim.” He tapped his chalice to Conceivably Jeremiah’s bottle. “To joy! Joy to the world! Joy to you and me!”

King Rupert never slurred, but he did stagger quite a bit when drunk, so it took him a while to reach the doors and exit the throne room. After he’d left Feasibly Jeremiah stood, swaying a bit, then plopped himself down onto the throne. He didn’t know where the human was off to, but sitting on the throne, with a belly full of wine, he felt like the King of the World. Maybe even the MegaKing.