Friday, July 31, 2009

Musings of Repetitive Writing

Well, that was quit a tear... easily the most prolific two months of writing I've had in a very long time, and certainly the most prolific two months of writing I've ever had concerning online stuff. Admittedly, the run started a little forced, then extracurricular experiences started providing more and more blatant motivation. Inspiration hit and I decided to try something new... "painting with words" as a friend so disdainfully describes it (I call 'em "Rorschachs," since their interpretations are clearly meant to be subjective)... and I think that's when I hit my stride.

That stated, my writing's still far from perfect, and I'm thinking I need to return to more conventional forms. I'm also not a big fan of repetition in writing, whether that repetition be words, tone, theme, etc. The best writers mix things up, and mix things up with relative ease. In rereading much of my recent crap, I've noticed a few things I kept coming back to: dancing, falling, flying, memory, moment, nostalgia, swimming... stuff like that. All fine and dandy in and of themselves, but dangerous when overused. Imagery is never so ineffective as when it becomes painful cliche. Too often poetry and prose starts to resemble itself.

Anyway...

Pointless Personal Musings

Looks like a return to the Army is in the cards for me. I've always felt I got out with too much unfinished business and I've finally received some much needed encouragement to go finish it. Some hurdles to reentry await, however... we'll just have to wait and see how the race unfolds.

The "dramatique" portion of my life has ebbed. The water is once again safe to swim in.

See? I just used "swimming." Argh.

For some odd reason, and I believe I may have mentioned this elsewhere, I've developed a fear of flying over the past few years. Maybe it's just me, but I can't think of a better cure for that than to jump out of piece of shit Air Force planes again.

No, that flying/falling reference was unintentional.

This one isn't: nostalgia really can lead to euphoria. I'd even claim it's the best way to go about life. It unlocks happy memories and shines a light on perspectives, perceived and prospected. There's a little alliteration for you.

As caught up with keeping in touch I tend to be, I can safely state that there are people no longer in my life that I will not miss. Cancers that don't kill you are meant to be excised, and that they've been.

I will, however, sorely miss my three dogs and two cats. Hopefully their absence will only be temporary. Loyalty, even from those not human, can never be undervalued.

Lyric of the day: "I'm like the wind in the canyon. I'm there, then I'm gone in a second."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Push

There's both a shy and aggressive nervousness in fumbling around in the dark. Lips struggle to stay locked together as two bodies sway clumsily around the room, as if separation might signal the end to it all. A subtle scent of alcohol mixes with faded perfume and cologne and only adds to the vertigo. The edge of a bed strikes the back of knees in silk stockings, and the free fall begins.

Her face glows in the dark, blue-white silhouette beneath an intent so longing and sinister. A turn of her head shifts hair and exposes the sensitive skin of her neck. Caution thrown to the wind as a well-placed kiss elicits both a gasp and a simper. There's chaos in every movement of hand and finger, though shadows make it appear choreographed.

An overpowering instant of lust tears apart her blouse, and an errant button is heard impacting the floor. Dexterity quickly learned results in the rest of her clothing falling to the bedside. A pause. Curves in ambient light burn in memory an image of forever. She inhales every time she's touched, her eyes closed, yet seeing everything. Subtle smiles at the corners of her mouth help light the way.

She radiates a seductive warmth, causing nervousness to slowly give way to confidence. Minuscule beads of sweat pretend to rain. Hands slide from hip to waist, confirming what the eyes do not quite believe. Woman. Beauty. Ecstasy. A forced patience almost collapses under perceived weightlessness. Resolve prevails, however, and every inch is explored before the free fall continues.

Her skin is smooth and played as a piano. Fingers traverse its length, tones shifting from left to right, top to bottom. Dance and music deceptively combined in lustful art, soft colors in all the right places. In the center of it all, another pause. A childish abandon overwhelms as a belly's button is tasted and teased. Another smile succeeds in extending the teasing, but fails to prevent the touch and taste of something so personal.

It was only a matter of time. There's one more button left as bodies finally align, and she very much wants it pushed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Awaycoming

It'd been a long time. His hands ran smoothly across her body as if it were yesterday. They were lines deadly, sexy, and dangerously seductive. She glistened in the dark as she always had, and there was still that twinkle in her eyes, revealing a shared perspective of the world that only those so intimate are ever lucky enough to experience.

His grip was confident, loose, and fingers gently caressed all the right curves. Curves so familiar, they could be seen with eyes closed and felt with hands numb. Her smell hadn't changed, years of caretaking ensured a scent arousing and deceptively young. It's said that aroma is best at triggering memory, and it's true. Years apart erased by deep inhalation and a euphoric realization of what can be accomplished together.

He remembered her voice, even before he heard her speak. Self-aware, comforting, and deliberate in what is said, a voice so soothing, even the most panicked of moods could be calmed by the tone of her song... or scream. Consistent perfection, always reassuring. Her ability to attract attention equaled only by her ability to push it away.

Her body so compact, yet so strong, he often thought of writing a letter to those responsible for her existence. As loyal a companion to him as she had been, he couldn't believe that he had once decided to leave her. Driving off into the sunset never seemed a larger mistake. She had been his confidence, his confidante, and they had been inseparable. Apart, life had fallen apart, and surely her absence had been the reason.

None of that mattered now, for they were finally reunited. Invincible in each other's presence, they were one and the same, hopefully for years to come. He had taken the long way home, realizing late that home was purely a matter of heart and not of location.

It was time; the dance was to begin. Homecoming king and homecoming queen share a kiss for luck. Her bolt locked to the rear, a magazine is slammed into her receiver. He rides her bolt forward and a round slides into her chamber, anticipating a trigger squeeze. Beyond a caress so lethal, the dance floor awaits.

He'll point the way, she'll clear it. Together again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

He and She Presents: Xhe!

One of English's great shortcomings, from a grammarian's perspective, is its absence of neutral-gender singular pronouns. While most are blissfully unaware that the use of "they" or "their" as a singular reference is entirely incorrect, such use remains a bane for those who are actually schooled in the tongue. It's not really a big deal, really, or shouldn't be, at least. But in this confusing era of the politically correct, the formerly accepted use of "he" to reference people of both genders has led to the revolting proliferation of he/she in writing. Even worse, there are those who use the absolutely puke-inducing s/he. Um... okay.

As a language, English is constantly evolving, and we see new words snake their way into dictionaries pretty much every year. Indeed, some of these new words are so specific and temporal, they beg questions of why they were included in the first place. Strangely, we rarely ever get to see words that have any grammatical usefulness outside of their limited meaning. Case in point: neutral-gender singular pronouns. Damn near every other language has them... but for whatever reason, English did away with them centuries ago.

We have he. We have she. We have it. I suppose that "it" is technically the neutral-gender word so many of us grammar nit-pickers wish for, but most take issue with "it" being used to refer to a person. Why? Who knows? But I don't much like it, either.

So, I'm proposing a new word (a word I've proposed once before): xhe.

Imagine the ability to write the following: When a person wants to refer to a generic person, xhe needs to use a neutral-gender pronoun.

This would be in lieu of: When a person wants to refer to a generic person, he or she needs to use a neutral-gender pronoun.

I'm certain that most of you are reading this and asking yourself what the big deal is, and I'm equally certain that those asking that question don't know the difference between "you're" and "your," but whatever. There is a big deal, and again, you can blame the politically correct for it.

Even though I'm the one proposing it, I'm not a huge fan of the word, but I do recognize its need. Keep in mind that I have no problem with using "mankind" over "humankind," but some people like to whine about such words. Even though those same people probably don't give the words "dog," "cow," "lion," etc., a second thought. There's irony in ignorance, but I'm getting off-topic.

Basically, instead of proliferating absolutely ridiculous words such as "bling," why aren't we coming up with words we actually need? Now, when a person uses such aesthetically inane language, I don't hold it against them (ah ha! see?), but it does bring up certain notions of grammatical incompleteness.

Of course, as I just showed, we also need one for "him and her," but I'll let someone else come up with that one.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oceans

Yesterday, for the first time in a long, long time, I actually played in an ocean. I've been to the beach on occasion, sure, but it hadn't really occurred to me that I've not been in an ocean's water for two years. Perhaps not ironically, it's also been two years since I've flown. Long-time readers recognize the emphasis of life that I place on travel, and short-time readers might make a connection to the recent The Whale and the Albatross... either way, humanity over the years, for me, has come to define itself by actions so distinctly inhuman.

Let me be frank: I am scared of flying, but will strap on a parachute and fall through the sky with a masochistic grin. I cannot swim to save my life, but have never been afraid of the ocean. I die often in dreams, and with the unusual exception of having my throat slit, my deaths in dreams have always been from high-speed impacts. Such impacts are unlikely in both the ocean and in the air with an open parachute, and maybe that's why I feel comfortable floating... any impact is either going to be softened, or have several rows of teeth.

Ah, well. I'm digressing. Of course, that's assuming I had a point to begin with, which my writing often does not.

I am, at this point in my life, starting over. Almost from scratch. All of my previous experience and education has, essentially and for various reasons, amounted to nothing. Objectively, this tabula rasa probably happened a while ago, but until now I've been terrified of staring at an empty page.

I don't know exactly why, but something was found in translation yesterday. I walked into the water, very aware of encroaching sunburn and a bad left foot (I'd have otherwise ran into the water), and let a wave crash into me. It spun me around and over, but rather than fight it, I just went with it... because, you know, why not? Vertigo underwater is actually much more awesome than vertigo stepping out of an aircraft.

But then my hand lodged itself into the beach floor below. Not sure it was an accident or out of some long-forgotten reflex, but in a moment that felt like a brief forever, with body pulled and pushed by wave and a hand feeling an ebb rip away a loose foundation, everything felt fine. So much so, that even drowning in that instant would have resulted in a smile on my face. Sure, I was in shallow water, but it didn't matter. The empty page suddenly looked inviting.

I've spent my whole life with a plan. A plan for school, a plan for career, a plan for love, a plan for this, that, and the other. It's taken me 31 years to understand that plans are made to fall apart. Murphy's law applies, and plans will no doubt be blown off track by an errant gust of wind or torn off track by a riptide.

I'm at a crossroads. A real one, this time, albeit unconventional and with more than two choices. Strips of sand heading north and south; shades of blue fading into the horizon. Hell, I'm not even sure I can see all of the choices yet, or ever will. But this is definitely a crossroads.

No, I don't have some new found appreciation for life and, no, I'm not going to be turning into some philosophical nice guy. I'm just not going be to afraid of white pieces of paper anymore.

After all, they can be folded into boats and airplanes.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bonus Track

Life's one sad song after another
as if there's a rhythm to shedding tears
dance the night, unaware the sun is on its way
she's standing next to you
somehow moving to different tempo
islands on the floor, move into archipelago
the rhyme is clever, unexpected
but in the end it's just a word
the beat, a drum machine
as synthetic as emotion is subjective
is the dancer or the music in the lead?
most can't tell, so there's no worry
lyrics unimportant and lost in sound and perpetual motion
but her voice turns you on
and it's best when one song bleeds into another
missteps are a part of it all
yet a stranger's bump may not be an accident
a dancer follows so quickly, sight and sound synchronize
there's magic in not sitting down
and feet are laughing that heads are self-conscious
she tells you what to do
a clarifying harmony for misunderstood melody
and the song may not be so sad after all



Yeah, I posted a poem. Don't get used to it... probably won't ever happen again.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Other People's Fires

Life is a dance, a game, a fucking tragedy to laugh, a comedy to cry, an out of control fire waiting for a single drop of rain. Losing is part of living, so elbow it in the neck when someone else does a better rumba. The music hasn't stopped, it's just that the bridge sucks... don't fret, the refrain is coming soon. It takes two to tango; grab your enemy, spin them around. Chances are, they're going to smile, too. Grins make it easier to knock out teeth.

Move your piece. Wait for the counter-move. If you don't want to play your past, don't wonder if your future is cheating. Relax. Don't be judgmental, she's seen it all before and just needs to get away for a while. Life's been rough, and you're not the first person she's seen freak out over a bad batch of drugs. Losing it on purpose is sometimes the best strategy. So what if Boardwalk is out of reach... you have Park Place. Let the asshole come and get it. He'll just wind up thrown into a table.

Cancer's a blow to behold, but life ain't over yet. Your brother's brothers are with you. There's a joke hidden in there somewhere, but who cares where? Six-feet under? We'll all be there eventually, and many are already. You'll never see them again, but memory works in wonderful ways. White trucks are always on the road and this eclipse is temporary. The choreographed motion of body will make you remember a friend long gone. Be brave for the both of you. Ever play chicken with a coward? The look on his face is priceless as you drive safely by.

Solve the problem of getting laid off by getting laid. Your clutch exploded on the way south, but at least you can kick it. Someone's lying on her back, unable to move, but she's going to be fine. The husband can't hang on to you and probably doesn't want to, so what? It was all too stifling anyway. Go find some room to breathe. The mountains offer fresh air, even if your criminal record just got a bit dirtier. Clean the wound in your knee and know you've made someone smile. Smirk at the liar hiding behind a woman because he's afraid and unaware that you've no problem with taking them both down.

Are you going to do something, or are you going to watch it burn? Going solo makes it harder to turn the water on. Take it from someone whose castle is already cinders, things can be great without. Plenty of fish in the sea, and if you don't like the ocean, move to another. Throw your hands up and scream at the storm. Shed the tears; no one can see them out here. You're all wet, but so is everybody else... we're waiting to help put out the fire.

Ask, and we're there. Always.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Battlestar Enterprise, Part I

I'm trying to mix things up a bit, so here's an old(er) satire I started late last year (originally posted December 27, 2008. If it's well-received (or received at all), I'll eventually post the rest of it... might even finish it. There are currently six parts, but I've been lazy in the humor department as of late, and I suppose re-posting this is no exception to that.

Admiral James T. Adama strolled through the corridors of his ship, the battlestar Enterprise, as he always did. He liked to show his face to the crew in the morning, to let them know he was watching. They were, after all, a bunch of undisciplined jackasses. He often wondered how the Hell they survived this long. Or, he would have, had the Greek-inspired concept of the bad place in the afterlife been called Hell. Rather, he often wondered how in Hades they survived this long. Or, he would have, had the Greek-inspired concept of the bad place in the afterlife been called Hades. Hades was the god, he regularly pointed out, so he often wondered how in the Underworld they survived this long.

It seemed like his crew was more concerned with trying to gang-bang Persephone than escape the wrath of Hades himself.

Bah. It didn't matter. Today, it appeared, they were doing their jobs, so he wrapped up his little walk and headed to the bridge. Or the CIC. He couldn't remember what it was called.

***

The doors to the CIC whooshed open, because they like to whoosh, and he spotted his first officer, Colonel Saul Spock. Spock was a pointy-eared drunk from a small colony called Hephaestus. It would have been called Vulcan, but the world of Battlestar Enterprise is decidedly Greek and not, as some fools who rely too much on Bulfinch's Mythology would have, Greco-Roman.

"Captain Adama," Spock spoke, seriously slurring sloppily since Saturday, "We are approaching the anomaly."

Anomaly? Not another one. And it's Admiral, you asshole.

"Did you send out a recon?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Who?"

"David's flying escort for She-Boomer."

Oh, great. Love him as he may, James had a problem with his son doing anything that required any sense of responsibility. David Adama, as it was, had a reputation for being confused. He had been a scientist before the Cylon Armaggedon, although nobody called it the Cylon Armaggedon, since the Holy Bible was unknown to them. At any rate, David had been working on some weird "life bomb." Basically, it killed everything on a planet and replaced it with a new planet, replete with flora and fauna. James had secretly hoped they'd use it on Picon, since that colony had such a ridiculously ugly name. Nevertheless, since a battlestar had little need for an actual scientist, and a battlestar series had even less need for a competent science adviser, David was pressed into service as a Viper pilot.

"She-Boomer?" James asked. "I thought He-Boomer had flight detail today."

Spock raised an eyebrow, his typical response when Captain Adama misspoke. "Captain, need I remind you that He-Boomer is a Viper pilot. She-Boomer is the one assigned to the Raptor squadron."

"As I was, Mr. Spock. As I was." He really hated that pointy-eared bastard. And it's fucking Admiral, asshole.

***

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walk a Mile...

The dead tell no stories, but possessions left behind do. Photographs on the wall or in frames on the desk. Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say, but too often the awareness of a camera forces an image worth a thousand lies and the memories they depict are false. Possibly the intent, but likely not. Nobody asks anyone to walk a mile in their image.

Letters and journals tell more truth, but the author's ability to capture a moment leaves most to the imagination. A reader's subjective lies in lieu of a writer's subjective truths, strangers running with words they can only interpret using experiences from their own lives. The journey from birth to death lost in translation. It's easy to walk a mile in someone's words, but it is often not the same mile.

By the bed, a set of slippers. They, too, tell a story, of feet afraid of a cold or dirty floor. Watermarks reveal they were worn to the shower and back. An errant hair betrays a cat or a dog, not always allowed on the bed, curled up to sleep on the scent of a master's feet. A disdain of filth combined with an irrational love of animals.

Well-worn dress shoes near the front door. Matched with clothes found in a wardrobe, a tale told of one who cared enough to dress to impress. A salesperson or a manager. Hints of white collar abound, secrets whispered of a lifetime spent taking care of family. And younger days prowling expensive restaurants and bars for the one with which to start a family with. Perhaps the one in the photographs.

In the closet, stuffed diligently in the bottom of a duffel bag, a pair of ragged boots. A brush of black polish speaks of days long gone when a reflection could be seen in the toes. Sand from deserts and jungles, clues of days when friends were friends and enemies were enemies. A sense of duty lost in footprints made on other continents. Or just a need to do something different, something few were willing to do. Hidden for reasons unknown. Embarrassment from deeds better left unremembered, or maybe tears from memories of friends long buried.

Running shoes still in a box. Recognition of a life gone frail and an attempt too late to extend waning years. Or nearby broken-in cross-trainers, perchance, simply offered more comfort and familiarity. There are sandals worn on trips to the beach. Bronzed baby shoes a gift from a mother long departed. Clogs and sabos, souvenirs from travels abroad. Loafers for days when arthritis was too much to handle. And, most telling at all, plastic hospital shoes worn during a battle with life destined to be ultimately lost.

Stories never told, only walked. Forgotten stories of too many miles traveled before a much needed sleep, earned every step of the way.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Questions & Ridiculous Answers

Honestly, I'm actually feeling a bit tired tonight (though that doesn't mean I'm going to get any sleep), so I'm going to repost some of those questions and answers I mentioned back in... April? Yeah, April.

Maybe you'll find them funny, or maybe you'll just think I'm an idiot. Okay, I am definitely an idiot, but maybe you'll think I'm a funny idiot.

Again, the questions came from random people, and I wrote the answers, possibly in an inebriated state... but I shall claim the 5th.

Question: "Why are you trying to rip off Ask Miss Austen?"

Answer: "This reminds me of a time, long ago, in which dinosaurs roamed the Earth. A few years later, some crazy dudes from the Eastern Mediterranean region showed up and told everyone that dinosaurs were bullshit and that those crazy dudes were the first living life forms on the planet. Now, it has been reported that amoebas took offense to this claim, but their attempt at protest fell largely on deaf ears, probably because amoebas are incapable of speech. And even writing."

Question: "Why do you have such a lame-ass sig (signature)?"

Answer: "Once there was this dog that was missing a hind-leg, so it didn't have to lift its leg to pee. Watching other dogs do so, however, made it jealous, so it would try to hop while pissing. The moral of the story is that dogs shouldn't give a fuck about such things."

Question: "...how did I get dragged into this?"

Answer: "After the invention of time, God found Himself doing basically nothing but twiddling his thumbs. He once twiddled his thumbs so raw, Mount Vesuvius erupted and killed a bunch of people who had unwisely chosen a place to live."

Question: "My mouse needs new batteries. What should I do?"

Answer: "The terrible thing about rodents is not that they eat all of your cheese, but that they shit all over the place. Quite frankly, I find it amazing that Walt Disney's greatest contribution to America was to make a mouse an international symbol of American creativity and capitalism. Still, I guess things could be worse. After all, Ben Franklin wanted to make a turkey the national bird. As smart as he was, I don't think he quite understood the value and impact of symbolism. I mean, would we have been as frightened of the Russians if their symbol of ethnic fauna was a moose?"

Question: "Did dinosaur's (sic) invent the Cylons?"

Answer: "Albert Einstein once theorized that coffee cake would taste better if it were called hot cocoa cake. Whether or not that's true, I couldn't say, as my grasp of culinary physics leaves something to be desired. Now, if an apatosaurus walked up to me and told me that hot cocoa cakes were better than coffee cakes, I would not point out that hot cocoa cakes were simply coffee cakes re-imagined. In fact, I doubt I'd argue with an apatosaurus at all. I understand that they're herbivores, but the fucker could still squash me without blinking an eye."

Got your own question you need answered? Feel free to ask.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Procrastination: Adventures Before a Deadline

There's work to be done this week, and a lot of it. Two critical analyses are due for publication. So, for the first time in recent history, I'm in bed at a good time. Sure, there are a few out there who probably think that 1 AM is not a good time, but they're all pansies who don't watch Craig Ferguson's monologue. Seriously, he's hilarious and worth the sleep deprivation, even if he is Scottish.

Anyway... so, there I was, listlessly sleeping the night away right up until I had a dream that I died in a car accident. I'm not kidding, either. The impact was slow motion and it hurt like Hell. I even woke up in pain. Not that any of this has anything to do with procrastination.

Hang on... a buddy just logged into IM.

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, bad dream. Maybe it does have something to do with procrastination, since I'm not well-rested. I did wind up going right back to sleep after waking up at 7:30 this morning. Because, you know, 577 pages need to be read and 4000 words need to be written by Friday. Or is it Thursday? My procrastinating, it seems, has even bled over to reading the fucking contract. Oh, shit... I forgot to watch True Blood and Entourage last night. Be right back.

So... wait, I'm thirsty.

Luckily, I'm a fast reader. There are plenty faster than I am, but I did manage to read an 1100-page trilogy in a day once upon a time, and knocked out Black Hawk Down on a plane ride from SFO to Incheon airport in South Korea. Or maybe it was Gimpo airport, I can't remember. Let me Google it.

Google? Or Bing? I hate the word "bing." It's lame. "Google" isn't much better, but whatever.

Oh, yeah... not sure what airport it was. Who was in Black Hawk Down? The movie, I mean. Josh Hartnett, right? Somebody once said I looked like him. I think somebody's full of it.

These books are sitting here on my desk, just waiting to be cracked open. I read one of them a long time ago... 9th grade, I think. English class. Yeesh... I'm getting old. I've also seen both of the movies made from the two books, but I'm not sure that's going to help much. 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Last Picture Show. In Arthur C. Clarke's book, the ship winds up near Saturn, if I recall, but Stanley Kubrick was getting bored, so he cut it down to Jupiter for the movie version.

I should really get back to work. Need food, though. Off to the store!

Toilet paper? Check. Lean cuisine? Check. Dog food, cat food? Check. Ah, crap... forgot nicotine gum.

So, one of these books is from 1966 and the other is from 1968. At least Larry McMurtry is my favorite author, and it's probably my oversight that I haven't read The Last Picture Show already. Probably? Um, yeah... definitely.

Damn. I'm all out of excuses. Guess I should clean the kitchen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Whale and the Albatross

It's empty out here, but there's air to breathe closer to the surface. Silence is relative, the gentle breeze and the crest of wave so familiar they make no noticeable sound. Cloud and island are all that break the landscape of blue deserts. A setting sun and its reflection point the way home and to a much needed rest. Tomorrow, sunrise will begin the chase again. That nothing is running away doesn't matter, keeping up with the currents does.

Short life and quick journey or long life and slow journey, carried by what should be hands. Tails tell the story of wind and water, and are told which way to go. There are no maps required in travels so simple. Survival the only instinct and the only choice. Elsewhere, a small world continues to grow ever smaller; here, at least, its enormity remains a comfortable companion. Aviary and aquarium infinite, exploration in its purest form.

The moon is absent tonight, so open eyes are not required. It's dark, but the water and the air are still warm. The sea and the sky melt together; the horizon waiting to be found. Swim or fly. Your choice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sine Nomine

It's imagined many ways. To the left, to the right, straight ahead with eyes closed and the hope that nothing goes awry. So many thoughts into so few spans of time. A sensation longing to endure, betrayed by a lifetime seemingly unwilling to begin. In the dark, a mirror or a photograph, perhaps real or just of the mind's eye.

It happens once. Suddenly, deliberately, a breath held until hesitation is overpowered by desire. The mind a blank slate, rewritten by an act previously shared only in thought. Brevity was never so breathtaking and an instant never so memorable. Wide awake, wildest dreams nonetheless surpassed by a feat reality rarely affords.

It's remembered how it wants to be. The chase, the trap, an act of foolish bravery or cautious abandon to feel what couldn't be said. Looking back, there is no drug as powerful as memory. A thousand defining moments unimportant in the presence of a first. The embers of twilight finally fade, and a smile the only remnant of something forever young.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Life's Simple Lessons

Try to take your first steps on a carpeted floor. Make sure your first word is a cuss word. Learn to hold the sippy-cup tight, so fewer mistakes are made when you're given a real glass. Bed-wetting's not so bad, but those plastic sheets are obnoxiously loud. Cry for your mother on the first day of school; she'll love it. Aim for the nose when you fight the playground bully... just remember that breaking noses doesn't work as well when you're older. Never play with marbles too close to a sewer drain. Hold onto the kite with both hands; it can fly away faster than you can run. Don't let your parents throw away the boxes your toys came in. Comic books are literature.

Learn at least one sport, and learn it well. Keep the fact that you still watch cartoons a secret from the girls in the class. Don't sit in the same place in the cafeteria every day. The rules of chess will come in handy one day. Monkey bars are a great way to stay in shape, and they're still fun. Be seen at the school dances, even if you don't dance. When a friend moves away, write at least one letter. Perfect the art of flipping someone off. Take pride in being funny. Walk your dogs; they don't stick around forever.

Take your driving test in a stick-shift. Recognize that people are different, but all want the same thing. Tilt your head to the right when you kiss. No means no. Juvenile hall is full of kids who can't stop crying when they're alone. Transfer students have more stories to tell. Your fake ID doesn't really work, it's just that the person you're showing it to has been there before. Stupidity happens, and friends will die because of it. Cancer takes the young, too. Carving your name in a desk doesn't ensure immortality. Prom dresses are supposed to be hard to take off. Everyone you make fun of will surpass you in life somehow. Pride is not a sin.

College is high school all over again, but with more alcohol. Don't marry young. A good backpack is better than flashy clothes. Quality and quantity are not mutually exclusive. Military friends are closer than any other. Gorgeous women love to laugh. Fraternities do not ensure fraternity. Someone's resume is better than yours, but that's no reason to quit. Aim for the neck in a fistfight. The world is bigger than your campus. Fear will keep you alive. Don't walk around afraid. Typing is the most important skill you'll ever learn. Perfection exists, because it's subjective. There's safety in numbers; there's solace in loneliness. You can survive without your feet, so don't jump in head first.

There's no shame in paying the bills. Vacations can wait; Hawaii's not going anywhere. Under the exterior, cars are all the same. Friends are a phone call away. Happiness is loosely defined for a reason. True pacifists have seen the face of war. Your children will bore you, but will make you proud. Love is fleeting, as is all emotion. The news doesn't exist to tell you what's right in the world. Comedy and tragedy are the same, it just depends on who's watching. The world turns with or without your blessing. Growing old gracefully is the only way to accept life. Buying toys is always okay. Too busy is not an excuse. Try to take your last steps in a place you've never been. Make sure your last word is a cuss word.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Swift Kicks in the Ass

Something I wrote a long time ago is coming back to haunt me. "Always be confident, never be comfortable," or some such nonsense. Well, let me be honest, I don't think that's nonsense at all. Comfort leads to complacency, and complacency often leads to bad decisions made in the face of an unwillingness to change.

Until recently, change was one of the easiest things for me to accomplish. Changes in lifestyle, from richer to poorer and back again, never bothered me. They still don't, really, but the additions of some dogs and cats means that I have to take other living things into account when I decide to pack up and find another corner of the world to park my ass in, so to speak. Friends are never a problem, I'm notorious for keeping in touch, and the world is smaller now than it's ever been thanks to the communication age finally bearing the fruit it's been promising us for so long. There are, however, a few people, more than friends, that can make taking off a bit more difficult.

Still, the ultimate desire for change usually lies in one's selfishness, and I can be selfish when I need to be... or when I just feel like it.

That confession stated, I must point out something else that I wrote (this one just a couple of hours prior to this writing): "I'm hitting that point where I'm starting to understand that those moments when we realize that the world doesn't stop for us are the most important. Sad, most of the time, but they're great kicks in the ass when we need them."

And, as the person at the receiving end of my statement acknowledged for herself, I, too, am in dire need of some ass-kicking.

Life is still good for the most part, and there are definitely many lights at the end of many tunnels, but I'm stuck in a moment I can't seem to get out of. And in that moment, I am hesitant to change.

Financially speaking, my salad days were about seven years ago. No debt, a military career behind me, a fresh Bachelor's degree tacked on the wall of my conceited mind. Everything seemed great. But, like Jericho, those walls came tumbling down quickly.

As pessimistic as my writing tends to get, I am, and those who know me can attest to this, a foolish optimist. The best is always right around the corner, even if I'm running around with billboards wrapped around my neck claiming it's the end of the world. Hell, in the face of a surmounting debt, my career was given a jump-start by a friendly college professor, and the next couple of years found my resume slowly and steadily getting longer and more detailed.

I've been around the world, more than most, less than some, and have had opportunity knock me square in the face. Sometimes, if the mood and my world was right, I'd take the plunge with no concern for the depth of the water. Other times, if suffering from overbearing caution or the whims of others, I'd turn it down. There were, and are, no regrets, for the decisions were ultimately mine, and I made them. In my experience, while giving others a say-so in what you may or may not do is often wise, the opinions of others should never prevent you from following your own heart and your own dreams. That, I think, leads to the cracks that regret can seep through.

Today, I'm sitting on a precipice with nothing but steep slopes surrounding me. Any decision concerning a particular matter, be it career, education, location, what have you, will lead to a fall of some sort. And, trust me, each of these falls will hurt. None, however, are the end of the world. Not mine, not yours, not the world in literal.

Admittedly, this newfound and completely ridiculous desire to avoid change has led to the cliff that I now hang from. Friends, family, and even relative strangers alike have all afforded me the opportunity to avoid the situation I am currently in. Some of them even kicked me in the ass to do so, but my ass has been pretty numb lately, so I guess I didn't get the message. One friend even pointed out that I seemed to be suffering from both anxiety and depression, and maybe he's right. Needless to say, those who tried to help are all feeling a bit disappointed, and some are even regretting the decision to lend me a hand. I guess I was getting too comfortable. No longer.

I will not... let me repeat that... will not let these people down ever again. It's going to take a while to right this ship, but I remain forever confident. Blame it on selfish arrogance, but whatever. The universe can be Machiavellian, so why can't I?

Many, including myself, have been wondering why I've been waxing nostalgic so much as of late, and I truly believe that question was answered a couple of days ago. Something so improbable happened, it instilled a sense of euphoria I haven't felt in years. Euphoria I doubt I would have experienced without the recent crawls down memory lane.

"And I'm the nostalgia." Words spoken in immediate recognition of the concept. Dangerous words in their context, as a cousin very recently pointed out, but so what? Everyone carries their past with them wherever they go. And perhaps those words are true in a literal sense, but they definitely served up a swift kick when one was needed.

"And I'm the nostalgia." Yeah, but also so much more. A reminder that goodbyes are not written in stone and a realization that life takes you to places that you never thought you'd see, or see again.

I was a paratrooper a long time ago, and there was always the nagging expectation that I'd have to jump sometime. I guess it's time. I'm certain the impact will result in plenty of pain, but chances are I'm going to like it anyway. Life is for masochists, after all. Survival of the fittest, right?

The jump door is open, and the dropzone unfamiliar. Someone kick me in the ass before I get too comfortable on this piece of shit Air Force ride.

Ah, screw it. I can step out on my own.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Dramatic Prologue

It's not as hot in this desert as is imagined, but the heat is still overwhelming. At least the humidity is lower than it is in North Carolina, so shade here is marginally more valuable. Of course, it doesn't make much difference in the staging area, with everyone laid out, weighted down by hundreds of pounds of weapons, equipment, and parachute. The sun is as unfriendly as it's ever been, and someone's joke of blasting Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" over the loudspeakers isn't making anything more comfortable.

As the sun sets, a call goes out and signals are passed. Dozing soldiers wake from their slumbers and 500 paratroopers attempt to stand on legs too tired. Chalk lines are formed, segregating combat teams into easily assembled groups, or so the theory goes. Sweat quickly begins to pour down the brows and faces of veteran and boot alike, washing away already worthless blotches of camouflage makeup. The Air Force crew chiefs give a thumbs up, and the lines lumber toward the awaiting C-17 aircraft. Great Birnam Wood on the march.

The cast and crew find their marks and take their positions, heavily-armed actors strapping into flimsy cargo seats, the stagehands checking and double-checking gauges and equipment. Miles away, safely behind friendly lines, congratulatory playwrights verify new intelligence to ensure last-minute rewrites remain unnecessary. The overheads go dark, replaced by the candlelight of an apron inviting only in its emptiness. Many suddenly realize that Faustus had made a better deal with the Devil.

Engines roar to life, and a small formation lifts gracefully off the ground, the skin of artificial birds reflecting the irony of a phantom moonlight. Deadly silhouettes filled with deadly shadows. The flight is rough, pilots forced to follow the contours of hostile terrain in an attempt to hide from the masked and watchful eyes of the enemy. A command to ready jars the passengers. Time flies strangely on the wings of angels. Those wearing watches remain unconvinced of the hour passed. Some hesitate, but eventually all hook their static lines, their lifelines, onto awaiting cables. Nervous soldiers, wishing they were somehow home again, attempt to masquerade emotions as they approach the point of no return.

The doors open. Landscape 800 feet below whips by deceptively slow. Narrow prosceniums revealing distant, potentially lethal backdrops. The airflow inside the C-17 increases an unnaturally small amount, aided in part by the aircraft's efficient wind-deflectors and a cabin that was unpressurized to begin with. The door jumper makes eye contact with the jumpmaster, and each nods a silent acknowledgment. Eyes shift to the red light. Patience begins to lose its patience, waiting for Godot.

Green light; the curtains rise. All the world's a stage. It's time to kill the audience.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Grammar War VI: First and Foremost

I've been remiss in helping to expose the illiterate as of late. It's time to fix that.

1. The difference between "capital" and "capitol" - CAPITAL is either a noun or an adjective while CAPITOL is just a noun. As a noun, CAPITAL is a financial word indicating a net work or a stock of useful assets, or is a city serving as the seat of a government. An an adjective, CAPITAL refers to something that is the worst or the most prominent or important (CAPITAL crime, CAPITAL ship) or, yes, an upper case letter. A CAPITOL is an actual building which contains a seat of government. Example: the morons traveled to the CAPITAL and conducted their legislative arguments in the CAPITOL.

Subtle, I know. Get over it.

2. The difference between "affect" and "effect" - AFFECT is a multi-function word, being a noun, verb, and transitive verb all rolled up into one. For the sake of this rant, however, we'll concentrate on the transitive verb, as that's where most people make their mistake. AFFECT means to produce an effect upon. EFFECT is both a noun and a transitive verb. Again, to avoid too much confusion, we'll concentrate on the noun. EFFECT is the end result. EXAMPLE: The weather's AFFECT on traffic led to the EFFECT of gridlock.

Again, very subtle. Eat it.

3. The difference between "principal" and "principle" - PRINCIPAL is either a noun or an adjective, both of which indicate a chief of some kind. As an adjective, PRINCIPAL refers to something of the utmost importance (similar to capital), while the noun refers to the person in charge. PRINCIPLE, meanwhile, is a noun indicating something fundamental or primary. Example: The school PRINCIPAL often reminded his illiterate students of the PRINCIPLE of education. That is, to say, you need one (an education).

Words you probably don't know:

facile - easily accomplished or attained

jussive - a word, form, case, or mood expressing command

parol - word of mouth

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Cigarette When You Don't Want One

Smoking's a crutch in so many ways. It's an excuse, an abuse, and a reason to drink more coffee. People trying to quit, like myself, look for anything negative or otherwise not ideal to serve as motivation to light up a smoke. I had a bad day, for instance, which is why there's a pack of fresh Camel Turkish Silvers on my desk. And, yeah, I hate myself for it. There's nothing worse than a hypocrite. Other than a liar, of course, but I guess hypocrisy is nothing more than lying to oneself.

It's strange, though, the first cigarette smoked after an extended period of not smoking tends to flood both the mind and the body with strange and enlightening memories. I can't explain it in words, really, but I'm fairly certain any smoker reading this will know what I'm talking about. There's that flash of innocence from the way ash overwhelms the taste buds. Maybe it's a reminder of innocence lost... a fleeting glimpse into a personal history before an initial cigarette was ever smoked.

Not sure I've ever written about it, but I started smoking for the most retarded of reasons: a girl. Yep. I'm an idiot. Now that I'm older I feel qualified to throw this piece of advice out there: don't ever do anything just to impress a girl. Or, if you are a girl, don't ever do anything just to impress a guy. It's just going to backfire anyway. In my case, it's led to damn near 10 years of lungs that should be a lot cleaner.

Actually, come to think of it, I didn't actually start smoking around this particular specimen of the female gender. That honor goes to a few soldiers I served with, and a few days of hedonism in Las Vegas. I mean, shit, what else are you going to do in Vegas other than be hedonistic? Then again, one can argue that the first few cigarettes one smokes are most certainly not pleasurable, so I guess there's that hypocrisy thing again.

I did mention that cigarettes make people justify the most inane of actions, no?

Adding to the ridiculousness of it all, I would tell people that I learned how to smoke while researching a role for a script I had written. Keep in mind that this was years before I was even peripherally introduced to the film industry. A young shit-talker full of shit. And, obviously, attempting to hide the real reason for the suicidal slow burn.

But, I've had a bad day. And it's too late to clear up the smoke in the room. So I guess I'll just have another cigarette I don't even really want.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Longing for Horror

Believe it or not, I'm a huge fan of horror movies. Huge. I want nothing more to be scared shitless when I sit down in a dark theater or turn off all the lights in my living room. Unfortunately, it never happens. Never. Not since 1989, when I was in Japan watching Aliens (yes, Aliens) in a creepy Japanese house while everyone else was either asleep or out experiencing Japan. Sure, it almost happened once since, but the movie in question ended right when the hairs on the back of my neck started to take notice and stand up.

Long story short: horror movies don't scare me. Only three have scared me, and each of those were watched for the first time prior to 1989. Still, I can recognize a good horror, and do maintain a list of favorites (The Descent is the most recent of the genre that I would call a good film... great, even).

Further to the point, horror itself doesn't scare me. Not movies, not books, nada (I will, however, confess to a video game that scared the piss out of me: Silent Hill 4: The Room). And I do so want to be scared. I like the sensation of fear, as do many, and would prefer it to be an artificial sensation enjoyed in the company of media, rather than in reality. I even write horror... quite a bit... and always try to approach a story from the goal of scaring myself. Until recently, I've never succeeded, and I fear (no pun intended) that I'll never succeed again.

Ah, well... in honor of my recent tendency to wax nostalgic, here are the three movies that did, a long time ago, manage to scare me.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow - I can't remember exactly how old I was when I saw this made-for-TV horror film (they sure don't do made-for-TV horror like they used to), but I do recall that my sister had seen it at least once before I did. Perhaps the fear experienced from watching it was due to her egging me on, but I definitely have genuine memories of being frightened of scarecrows for a while... at least until the next time I saw The Wizard of Oz, anyway (remember when that was on TV once a friggin' month?).

For those who aren't familiar, Dark Night of the Scarecrow revolves around the friendship between a gentle giant who has the mind of a child (Bubba) and a young girl (Marylee). Obviously, such a relationship is viewed with suspicion by the local populace, and one day, when Bubba saves the Marylee from an attack by Doberman Pinscher, Bubba is naturally blamed for it. Bubba's mother hides him in their farm's scarecrow, but the "vigilantes" track him down with bloodhounds, and shoot poor Bubba full of holes while he's strapped to the scarecrow post.

I'm pretty sure you can figure out what comes next.

Sure, the film is largely B-fare, but the ending is a bit creepy. If you can find the movie, it's worth a watch.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - oh, yeah... I'm fairly certain that this film is on a lot of lists, so I don't feel too bad about it being on mine. What I do feel bad about is that it made it on my list after only having watched one scene of it. You know, the scene with the really long arms? Yeah, that one. Heather Langenkamp running up, down, and through a horror cinematographer's dream house. And Johnny Depp getting sucked into a bed mattress didn't make for sleepful nights, either. Worse still, I remember going to an overnighter thrown for my Little League team, and sleeping next to a speaker that, in the dark, looked remarkably like Freddy Krueger wearing his fedora. Yeah... let's just say I was exhausted the following day.

It wasn't until years later that I actually watched the film in its entirety, and it no longer even comes close to scaring me. In fact, the creepiest part to me now is that random goat at the beginning.

Aliens - don't laugh at me. Today this film is one of my all-time favorites, and isn't frightening in the least. I might even claim I can recite the damn thing, as I've seen it so many times. But, in that dimly-lit living room, in that foreign country, alone, 11 years-old, and still a bit impressionable... I couldn't stand for almost 30 minutes after it finished, I was shaking so bad. And it wasn't even a proper horror movie. Can you imagine if I'd have watched the first Alien instead? Oh, man... I'd have been emotionally lobotomized, I think.

Anyway, those are the three. Make fun of me if you'd like, but the next time some crappy-ass torture porn or 70s/80s remake/ripoff sends you scrambling for the light switch, expect no sympathy from me.

Oh, and if you're wondering, the film that almost got me since was The Blair Witch Project. The shot of Mike standing in the corner did it for me... but then the credits rolled. I was pissed.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Weight the Wind Will Not Carry

In the waning days of Autumn there's a bridge to nowhere that two will cross anyway. Falling leaves dance a last dance before hitting the ground, waiting for a wind to carry them back across. Hued skin embraces the White of Snow, and for an instant, hearts beat in response to each other. The sun sets at just the right time, revealing with the moon a landscape covered in brilliant shades of blue. A face and a smile glow, it seems, curves in a game of charades in the dark. A land of make believe ripped apart by the reality of something dying.

Open the wardrobe and prepare for the chill of Winter. A blizzard makes it hard to see, but there's a lamppost in the distance. The length of time in one place determines how much of the world will pass by, and it will only pass by so many times before all is lost. The ring, now meaningless, still means something. Returning it home is a journey too much to bear; keeping it is a reminder of just how selfish one can be. There's no Wizard to guide, and no Witch to fight. But a lie is believed anyway.

Spring brings a warrior without a war, a Knight with no Dragon, and still more lies. Taking his hand does not change the past, nor does it ensure any semblance of a future. The ghost will haunt regardless of castle or tower, for it is attached to the scent of a woman who promised herself away, knowing that promises are not things to keep. A dance always ends; false steps will betray even the blind partner. And the world keeps passing by. Watering the garden with alcohol will not grow wings. The Western Knight falls to the Eastern Dragon, a table turned, for the sun travels only in one direction.

It is much too hot in the Summer and there are too many wounded to tend. Fields grow wild, but no one is eating. The answer appeared, but the question was never asked. A father's warning went unheeded, and too many games were played. Slaves won't protect their masters; why should they? All that is desired is freedom from promises broken, but how fickle is woman? Learning to shoot straight is unnecessary at close range, and he doesn't give a damn. A lie is a weight the wind will not carry.

Memoir of a Forgotten Memory

There's a friend lost somewhere. There always is. Someone or something that brought out childhood laughter, someone or something that was there to hold when the sky fell. A neighborhood crush, maybe a teddy bear. A random snippet of a show on television. A sad movie whose title was never known. Or, perhaps, the perfect angle out of the corner of an eye that revealed a rainbow no one else could see. Mist in the wind from a dying raincloud running through sprinklers.

The days when a mirror was just another toy are long gone. Reflections no longer reflective, the face staring back just another enemy, allied with the onslaught of time. What happened yesterday seems as distant as what happened yesteryear. If it wasn't photographed, it never was, and the truth of being there becomes nothing more than subjective doubt to be argued by others. Does the book exist, or was it authored in a dream?

There's a friend alive somewhere, and where is the question. Is it just vanity to wonder if there is wonder, as well? The same streets were walked, after all, even if names escape the tip of the tongue. Staring at a map doesn't help; the world was too small back then. It's smaller now, of course, but only because there's less that matters. Loud words pretend otherwise, reveling in the unaware hypocrisy of quiet actions.

Magic was real, Once Upon a Time. Words and images penetrating fertile imagination now lay fallow in the December of life. Praying for it now won't make a difference. White lights simply white lights, one forgotten among the cries of breathing air for the first time, one imagined amid the loneliness of breathing air for the last. A flash behind the eyes providing one last chance to be found.

There's a friend somewhere.

Do you remember?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mountain Warfare: An American Oversight

As a superpower with global reach and concerns, our military is trained, equipped, and prepared to go anywhere anytime the need arises. Almost. While we are no doubt prepared for desert-based conflicts and have increased our urban warfare capabilities exponentially since the 1990s, we lack a particular capability that is particularly important today, given our involvement in Afghanistan: mountain warfare.

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that right. Our mountain warfare infrastructure leaves something to be desired. Simply put, we have no units that maintain an at-ready status to deploy to mountainous territories. And this is despite having a "mountain division" on active Army rolls.

Not unsurprisingly, a third-party analysis of American mountain warfare capabilities revealed a serious lack of immediacy in the United States Army and United States Marine Corps' mountain readiness. The analysis was written by an officer in the Pakistani Army back in 2004, and seems to have gone unnoticed by American military planners of then and now.

Strangely, the US military maintains three very effective "mountain warfare" schools, two run by the Army and one by the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, each of these schools maintain emphases on mountaineering, rather than the physical action of combat in mountainous terrain. Sure, the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center conducts a field exercise of sorts, but little of it entails running operations of any significant longevity, and almost completely ignores the problems of resupply and heavy logistics. Critics could even easily claim that the field exercise is barely more than a simple game of laser tag. And no combat units are stationed at the post (Pickel Meadow, California).

Of the two Army mountain warfare courses, one, the Northern Warfare Training Center at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, is more dedicated to cold weather operations (obviously) and conducts their mountaineering training near the Black Rapids Glacier. The other, the Army's formal Mountain Warfare School, is located in Jericho, Vermont, amid the foothills of the Green Mountains. Again, neither post maintains an active mountain warfare unit.

Which brings us to the Army's vaunted (sort of) 10th Mountain Division. Inactive since 1958 (when it was a simple infantry division), it was reactivated in 1985 due to Reagan's insistence on having an alpine division. Ironically, some genius in the Army think-tank decided to garrison the division at Fort Drum, New York. A nice, flat strip of acreage located a whopping 200 feet above sea level. You know, the perfect elevation to keep soldiers acclimated to fighting in high elevations. Worse still, the post is located roughly 80 miles from the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, which include Mount Marcy (approximately 5300 feet) and Algonquin Peak (approximately 5100 feet). While these peaks certainly make for excellent training, once again, no combat units are permanently stationed at those elevations.

Historically, the 10th Mountain Division formed and trained for World War II at Camp Hale, Colorado, almost 9,000 feet above sea level. Located within the Camp's borders was Copper Mountain, whose peak sits at over 12,000 feet. An ideal location to train and breed mountain soldiers, undoubtedly. Unfortunately, Hale is no longer an active military post, so the current Army lacks its option.

Still, Colorado does lay claim to another prominent Army fort, Fort Carson, which rests nicely at about 6,000 feet. Nearby are Cheyenne Mountain (about 9,500 feet) and Pike's Peak (over 14,000 feet). Yet another ideal location to train and breed mountain soldiers.

But, guess what? The division the Army maintains at Carson is not a mountain warfare division, but an armored division: the 4th Infantry Division (armored by MTOE - modified table of organization and equipment). Because, you know, tankers need to be acclimated to drive through hazardous mountain ranges.

The end result is that no unit deploying to the mountain regions of Afghanistan, or anywhere else, is pre-acclimated to the altitudes necessary to operate effectively. Yes, the men and women of our armed forces do a wonderful job of toughing things out until their lungs and muscles adjust to the lower temperatures and levels of oxygen, but why should they have to?

Honestly, does that make any logical sense to anybody? Why make things harder on our soldiers and marines than they are already are?

If someone in the Pentagon would think about for it for more than brief moment, they'd come up with the easy solution: switch the locations of the 4th ID and the 10th Mountain. Hell, other than shipping a few vehicles back and forth, all it would require are a few flag changes and soldiers switching out their uniform patches. And, let's be fair, the opening of a new mountain warfare school. But one that actually teaches the "warfare" part.

Think the Department of Defense can handle that?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Forever Night

Loneliness bears down on a soul, whether there's a belief in souls or not. The feeling of immortality transcends even the simplest of human minds, but not everybody wants to live forever. And of those who do, most do not wish to be alone. How painful a thought... perhaps to die without a hand to hold, or without that one last kiss.

Knowing that one is a monster makes it difficult to foster a relationship, but even the most evil tend to find someone to fall back on when legs become too tired to stand. Love is not an emotion reserved for the good of heart. There is no black and white in feeling, only sensation. And each has a right to it.

It's been years since first meeting, a brief encounter beginning long absences separated by brief encounters. The revelation that absence often happens when in the same room was a dishearteningly valuable lesson to learn. How else do priorities objectively fall into place? Subjective existence is fraudulent, though potentially blissful. Still, it's better not to live in lies. There's no point to the sun if there's no enjoyment in sunlight.

The parallels are striking, maybe even deceptively so, but it's undeniable that they are there. Paths crossing too randomly to be random, both in choice of careers and of travels. Complicated minds succumbing to simple inclinations to believe in fateful pattern. Nature's patterns used to justify those beliefs... day and night, asleep and awake, death and life. Experience and education are powerless in the face of raw emotion.

A vision of loveliness, sitting awake in the dark. Both eyes open, out of fear as well as a strange anticipation of something new. A subtle appreciation of life overshadowed by an inexplicable desire for something else. Death is becoming, but only from an acceptance of things for what they are.

Silent steps from behind exposed shoulders. A smile sinister, yet longing. It will take time to come to terms with what's to happen, but the pain of involuntary solitude is too much. Shadow leans into neck, fangs bared. The unconventional embrace of punctured skin, the letting and drinking of blood, ensures companionship until the end of time.

Even if she hates him for it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Even More Fortune Cookies

I haven't had any Chinese food lately, but I'm certainly fiending for some. After all, where else would I get my fortune cookie jokes from?

Actually, the last fortune cookie I had was very rudely taken from me. The culprit broke open the cookie, took the fortune, and threw the cookie away. See my luck? I was fucking hungry, too.

Anyway, more realistic fortunes for your enjoyment...

"Confucius says: don't put any stock in stupid strips of paper."

"Ideas are like children. Yours are bad, you just won't admit it."

"Many happy days are yet to come. Many sad ones, too, but let's not go there."

"Ain't no fucking tortoise ever beat a hare in a race."

"Follow your nightmares; they're dreams, too."

"Love is around the corner. $100 an hour, love you long time."

"It is much wiser to take advice than to give it. Which means the person talking to you is an idiot."

"Any rough times are behind you. When you leave the table, don't say you weren't warned."

"$12 for this food, and all you get is this lousy fortune."

"Confucius says: I'd tell you to enjoy your meal, but you already ate."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

American Independence

When great minds gather, things change. Academic and intellectual rebellion is a given. The status quo starts to bend. The pen, they say, is mightier than the sword, but without the gun, America does not stand. With the gun, the status quo breaks.

Names forever burned in history. The great luminaries, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, speaking words that will echo for as long as mankind is capable of thought. The great diplomats, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, whose success at enlisting French and Spanish aid lent credence to American ideals as international enterprises. The father of the Constitution, James Madison, whose ability to think beyond himself led to a governing document replete with both conservative and liberal values. The great soldiers, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who knew that without armies of men willing to die, the hopes and dreams of an infant nation would amount to little more than a stillbirth.

This great experiment, this persistent drama of the world's stage, Act I in humanity's next great play. Fostered not just of American thought, but of French, of Dutch, Spanish, Polish, and Prussian. Even British. Philosophies of Locke and Rousseau come to life, philosophical seeds watered with the blood of the Patriot, the militia, and the regular. Revolutionary, yes, and Civil. The very definition of American. A Republic from a monarchy, a Congress from a Parliament. Great minds capable of governing themselves.

"... and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America."

Thousands of names forgotten, or simply unlearned. John Hancock is little more than a signature, Sam Adams little more than a beer, Ethan Allen little more than a chair. Richard Henry Lee, Samuel Huntington, Nathanael Greene, and 25,000 of those who chose to take up arms. What did they fail to do in order to be remembered with the names of others?

This great experiment, borne of war in April of 1775. The first wading step into the Rubicon. A swimming thought unsure where to make landfall. The bold John Paul Jones sailing to England itself. Montgomery's charge into Canada. Great feats propelling and propelled by the ramblings of thoughtful men in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York. An unlikelihood in Saratoga creating waves in Paris. This great experiment, "in the way you shall think most proper," and "the shot heard 'round the world."

When in the course of human events, after all. Liberty is not free. It requires a pen and a gun. Let us hope the pen remains loud and the gun remains silent.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pointless Musings for 2009.5

Tomorrow is Independence Day, which means that we're officially into the second half of 2009 (seriously... July 2 is the half-way point of a normal year). A big move is in the works, and here's hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

This morning I finished transferring my old blog to here. That, I must say, was a pain in the ass. Very monotonous. In case you haven't noticed, I even transferred the comments (the ones that were left, anyway... MySpace blog comments will disappear if a commenter cancels an account... bullshit, I know), which is what took the most amount of time. But, I'm done, and now I can start tagging my stuff. Don't know why that excites me, but it does. I guess I'm just an organizational aesthete.

After months of fighting it, I finally broke down and bought a pack of cigarettes. And, yes, I hate myself. I'm considering giving the pack away, but we'll see how the day goes.

Other than the move, what's on tap for the rest of 2009? Not sure, exactly. I know that I have to turn in two critical analyses for publication sometime in the next couple of weeks. Beyond that, I don't have any solid plans. I don't think I really want to know what's just around the corner, anyway. Not that I don't appreciate scheduling, but I've been kicked around a bit these past few months, and I'd rather not see what's coming. My buddy J informed me that my karma was due for another beating... I'm still wondering where all the good karma went when I was doing "good deeds."

By the way, for those who asked, you do not need a blogger account to leave comments here, as I've left the "anonymous comments" option turned on. And, for those who asked, you do not receive an email when I post something if you subscribe. Apparently, notifications are via feed readers and Google Accounts only (you can use any email to open a Google Account). Perhaps I'm wrong about that, but I'm still learning how this place works, so bear with me. If you don't want to put in the effort (and I won't blame if you don't), you can still follow me on MySpace and Facebook for the time being.

Okay... just notified a buddy that he can have my cigarettes if he comes and gets them.

Yep, this was definitely pointless. Happy New Half-Year!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Beauty; Fear: A Fairy Tale

Fear in beauty. Beauty in fear. Opposite ends of a compass that only points in one direction. Shy in the face of a beautiful woman is the same as fear in the face of drowning. The more beautiful it is, the better to kill you with. The curious snake bearing poisoned apples, the avalanche of pure white sliding down a mountain, a smiling cat disappearing in the trees. Images burned into memory for lifetimes, though the irony is not lost that those lifetimes are painfully brief.

Let down your hair, let in the beast. The wolf is speaking to you, why aren't you listening? Fear is beauty, and beauty is afraid. Take heart that the curse will not last forever, for death is inevitable. Life will always be stolen, whether by four or forty; the rock in the mountain will not protect you. Remain aware of everything around you, for these woods are dark and falling asleep for twenty years will not solve the problem. She's still sleeping. Leave her there; at least she's dreaming.

Every moment apart is a moment that dies, but such is life. Love is not a requirement. Trees fall in the forest, leaving roots behind, pining for second chances. We all fall down, brick and mortar. Horses running in slow motion obey no king. Wearing shoes made of glass will cut your feet eventually, and how will you dance then? Pumpkins may not be in season, depriving you of a ride home. Seeds should be planted, not slept on, so save your tears when idle thumbs fail to bloom.

Don't lie. Not because it won't increase your sense of smell, but because the clouds are still above you. It doesn't walk like or talk like, because it's not. The ending was already known, but the swan surprised anyway. He's cold because he's naked; he's lost because bread can be eaten; not because some child pointed the way. Sprouting legs didn't solve the problem, did it? Chasing the sunset will still leave you in the dark; chasing the sunrise will only leave you blind. Perhaps everyone belongs in the sea.

It's all so beautiful. We're all so afraid.