Leaving the world for a while

Not the coolest thing ever, but still, they’re sending me out to… No, scratch that. They’re keel-hauling me down to the Port for a week, we’re kicking off phase III of the training, we’re basically training the end-users for the port agency now.
Kick-off date for implementation is 07.Aug.

It’s… ah. Well, it’s not like Santiago now, is it?
You gotta go with the flow. Feels like I’ve been keel-hauled under the Jolly Roger. Totally.
Okay, rock’n’roll, let’s do it. It’s gonna be alright, mostly, in the long run.
Trust me on this one.

Good news is, I need some time away to think, to put a few thoughts in order, I’m a little confused right now and feels like my grander, greater scheme for all things pertaining to life has reached the point where it needs to be… reconsidered? updated? Something like that.

Can you feel it too?
It’s like there’s something huge looming over the horizon, if I only I could see it from where I’m standing.
Something’s gonna smash the status quo up against the wall and I gotta know what it is before it comes. I need to make plans, I need to think ahead, I need to…

No. I think I’m gonna do it differently.
Winds of change? Bring it on.
I’ll go with the flow, I'll follow the bassline into the chorus, this I know.
Trust me on this one.


Excerpt from another song (Timing is perfect!!!)

I feel fine and I feel good
I'm feeling like I never should
Whenever I get this way
I just don't know what to say
Why can't we be ourselves like we were yesterday
I'm not sure what this could mean
I don't think you're what you seem
I do admit to myself
That if I hurt someone else
Then I'll never see just what we're meant to be

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I'm waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can't say

New Order, Bizarre Love Triangle, 1986

Excerpt from a song

I was grounded
While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truth
You cut through lies
I saw the rain dirty-valley
You saw Brigadoon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon

I spoke about wings
You just flew
I wondered, I guessed and I tried
You just knew
I sighed
And you swooned
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon

The Waterboys, The whole of the moon, 1985


Why I hate airplanes

I hate airplanes because they take people away from people for way too long at times and there’s nothing else to do but to sulk through the night over a bedspread gone cold, on a world gone cold, in a life gone cold and lonely and just plain wrong.

If I were Superman I could fly around the Earth at lightspeed and change its rotation in a way that really wouldn’t make much sense, but would make time go back to what it once was, so I could make things right again.

The fabric of the Universe- life itself- is knit with strands of Kryptonite, though.

Life is not perfect, we are not free, and I have left myself alone in the dark by making the wrong choice way too many years ago- And that’s why I will never make a mistake again, and that’s why I have to know everything all at once and rule the world, and that’s also why I’m currently hating airplanes right now.

On the bright side, though, Hollywood is probably calling for the movie rights soon enough, because that’s one heck of a story we got going between us, baby!
If I could write something coherent for more than two pages, well, damn if that Pulitzer weren’t mine already…

Damn proud to know ya, damn proud to have this weird (albeit very special) thing going with ya.


Excerpt from a book (to fit the mood of the times)

“I walked away from Frank just as the Books of Bokonon advised me to do. ‘Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before,’ Bokonon tells us. ‘He is full of murderous resentments of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle, 1963.


With love, (In the end all it took was a pair of big brown eyes)

It’s five or six years and a life later, the world’s quiet and dark outside, the skyline's breaking through the late night, Sunday night, you’re breathing a little heavy. You are dozing. Off to Slumberland.

Apropos of well, everything, I’ve just recalled a line from Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen, it’s right in the last chapter. It’s a conversation between Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk after all’s been said and done, they’re embracing in the dark, making love to each other- “What's that you smell of?," she asks him. Or he asks her. I don’t remember which.
"Nostalgia," he/she answers.

The very motif of you is embedded in a drop of your own sweat and it smells sweet, it smells like being 20 years old all over again and it feels like I’ve waited all my life to ask you one last time, one last night, “What's that you smell of?”


We are not free

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Creative thinking for a comic book script

These are a few rather random notes I’ve taken while planning to write this specific comic book script which I mentioned a few days ago. It’s mostly an internal monologue because I’m playing with a few ideas before I sit to put the baby down to paper per se.

For those who came in late
Not really. We are talking about characters that have a story dating all the way back to 1989 but this should be brand-new.
We are not ditching past continuitty; in fact we’ll be making a rather extensive use of it- as long as it seems totally new to the reader. Both new and old readers alike should have the same impressions out of the story.

The setting
Montgomery Peer and Lightpath are off to outer space; most of issue #1 happens in outer space. They have gone off to space for a reason, to seek something.

The return
The return should be very organic, very down to Earth, none of that “in the nick of time” crap. Peer will enter the scene having made the decision already. Then he should e-mail or phone somebody else. I’m thinking Lightpath not really because she’s his best friend, but because she’s kind of like the last one of the gang, the one who didn’t quit.
Only, this is not Superman Returns. The Centurion's quit before back in '92, then '96, then '01. It's not really about his one-big-comeback, insomuch as about his inconsistence, his self-doubting, that kind of stuff.

The MacGuffin
They are after something that cannot be found on Earth, something that cannot be replicated neither with their powers nor via advanced technology, hence something unique.
I want to make it a run for something… time is essential… maybe it’s something that will heal somebody?
I’m thinking something in the line of a rare flower or herb or stone that will heal someone special to them. Or is that too corny?
Anyway, it should be a quest for something special.

The protagonist / The Centurion
This is Montgomery Peer about five years later, five years older, after letting go of the Centurion. He’s in his late-20s, no longer a kid and no longer the Centurion and despite the fact he’s going back and helping out his former friends, there’s no love lost between him and them, and he isn’t willing to don the uniform again- we’re talking no uniform, regular clothes (jeans, sneakers, etc), no alter-ego, no secret-identity, he’s just a regular guy, really, but he happens to (still) have most of his special powers.

Lightpath should be called “Path” for most of the story.
She’s no longer just a pretty blonde and should be given more of a plot-device aspect as we go along. We’ll refer to her as Path only because that’s what she is, metaphorically speaking, a path to Peer’s self-re-discovery.
In a sense she’s not unlike Virgil to Peer’s Dante, she’ll end up becoming- without even knowing it- his spiritual guide.
Apropos of that- I have just realized how cool “Path & Peer” sounds.

The secondary characters
Montgomery Peer and Path are the main characters, obviously. If we’re going for the healing thing, then we’ll also have to need somebody who’s just fallen ill or something like that. If so, it’s a girl. An old character, or a new character related to a new one. I was actually thinking of Elizabeth Foster (previously Stardust), maybe she married into Faerie royalty and they had this little girl? And the little girl is ill? Something in that line.
Having other secondary characters is important as well because of the sub-plot they automatically generate. But who? The story per se is still to be decided upon, but we need the downtime from Peer and Path every now and then. I need to be able to cut from the scenes for dramatic impact.

The antagonist
I really, really, really don’t want to do a super-villain. ‘Nuff said. I don’t know what I’m going to do about an opposing force to the protagonist, but I’m not writing a super-villain. Ever. Too silly. Even for me.

The leitmotif
There’s a recurring theme that’s a question from Path to Peer and etches Peer’s theme in slate (so to speak). She’s always asking him these introspective questions that will automatically prompt a half-assed reply from him, much to everybody’s frustration and chagrin, up until the last couple of pages.
Hence, #1 is to be called “I’ve been waiting for this moment just to hear you say…”
The questions I’m thinking about are, “Where were you during the 9/11 attacks?”, “Why did you choose the name Centurion in the first place?”, “Why did you come back”, and ultimately, “Why did you leave in the first place?”.
Along every half-assed reply Peer will smile like a kid but in the last. In the last one he will reply seriously, looking a little sad and lonely against this huge backdrop of space, all very wonderful, and he’ll say it in one word. Path will remain quiet, maybe hug him, then cut to the title.
It’s a story about people, after all.

The script
Definitely doing full-script because that’s the only way to go for me.
Past experience has made me much for… ego-savvy? Is there such a thing? I mean to say that the highly-detailed structure I used for “The Fox” scripts a few years ago was so off, read more like intellectual masturbati*n than anything else. Hence, it’s gotta be a simple script, more along the lines of the Batwoman serial I did last year.

The screenplay (?)
…Hey, what if I did it not like a comic book but like a movie? Not write a comic book script per se but a screenplay?
I do know how to write a screenplay, Hollywood-style. The metrics and the rules, I mean, at least the very, very basic rules.
Aww, scratch that. Maybe next time. Definitely next time.
I want to go back to writing comic book scripts now.

Plot structure
Centers on Path and Peer, those are our main characters. They should use about two-thirds of the book.
The last third should be split between two parallel sub-plots that will eventually merge into the main storyline right before the climax.

There about five issues or is that too ambitious? The Fox was supposed to be 32 issued long and I only wrote three.
Anyway, each book should be 22 pages long, that’s the standard for the industry so who am I to say otherwise; I’ll stick to the classics.
Of course we’re talking about more than a hundred pages after it’s done, which will probably mean nearly two hundred pages of written material after all’s said and done.
Plus keeping up with the blog, plus well, my job.
I think I’m gonna call it, “Project Icarus”, because I can feel the sun sipping away the wax on my wings…

Nope. None. Not really.
I’m doing this for the sheer thrill and fun of it.
I mean, it’s not too scary, right? To be thrilled by writing crap that will never see the light of day?
File it under, and the file’s way too thick by now, intellectual masturbati*n. Again.
Writing’s cool. It’s a hobby, really.


Dilbert attains godhood

I don’t think there’s a God, and I cannot accept that there is a God, because well- I really can’t accept that there’s such an assh*le minding the store; look at the sloppy work he’s been doing for the last ahh. Thousands of years or so.
So he took the goo out of the waters and up the trees, then moved the whole bunch out of Ethiopia to the world. Big deal, I bet he had an intern or two pushing for those last bits. Then the intern wasn’t really paid very well and moved to the competition; that’s how you’d explain things like napalm and cancer and televangelism.

But then, maybe “upper management” is the very proof that God exists… I wonder…
-Just look at Michael the archangel just waiting in the wings. Or is that Samael? Yeah, that’s who I would hire, you know? Proud Samael whom would question authority and think for himself.
Downside is, Satan. But then again, Satan is the downside for everyone.

…Which kind of brings me (back) to Superman and why I like Superman so much. Now there’s this guy who’s looking all strong, imperious, inspiring, sexy (strictly for the chicks) and bold, and he’s leading the way.
Superman takes the front and looks back at us, smiles that smile right off the wheat fields of Kansas and his baby-blues glisten under the very yellow sun that feeds him his powers, then he says, “Follow me. I’ll lead the way.”
Dear God, I would follow Superman through Hell and back.

Of course everything’s so much easier when done under a John Williams’ leitmotif.
I mean, just ask Darth Vader or Indiana Jones.


Closer to free, pt. IV

I think I’m going back to writing comic book scripts.

The dry spell seems to be over. I was jogging last Sunday under a warm midday sun downtown and was I very eager to see the new Superman movie in the evening. It made me think.
So Superman was coming back after a few years’ absence, so why couldn’t I come back as well? Well, not myself per se, but I can write super-heroes.

One big coincidence there, there’s this other guy who’s been away for about five years and it’s not Superman. I do have a plethora of funnybook people of my own and my favorite son’s been away for long enough.
I had been rehearsing and rehearsing his big comeback but I just couldn’t find a way, a why. Why would he come back, this character- Well, he’s called The Centurion and I came up with him when I was nine years old, it’s silly, so what- Do you know when it feels like your character’s developed a life of his own and does not want to comeback?
He retired in the same year the World Trade Center fell, by the way, but a few months earlier.

As it turns out, it’s not about Why would he come back, but more like, Why wouldn’t he come back?
So he’s coming back. I’m thinking five or six “issues”, each of them 22 pages long, full-script. I think I can do it.

Here’s the lowdown: Well, not much so far.
#1 is gonna be called “I’ve been waiting for this moment just to hear you say…” and it’s basically centered on the main character plus this other one, and they’ll spend most of #1 roaming through outer space and having this very introspective conversation while at it, a meeting between old friends.
There will be a recurring theme that centers on this one big existential issue and the theme will be repeated time and again, each time for one half-assed revelation that will just skim the shores of the subject itself, until we reach that last page and he says it aloud.

…Definitely not doing skintight costumes, secret-identities or Batmobiles, though. It’s got to be a story about people, not about adolescent power-fantasies.
Of course there’s gonna be a punch or two thrown in by the time we reach the last issue, but the whole story should have very little action, and by god, no “super-villains”.

Top Gun (movie) proved that you can have a story without a plot or an antagonist, so there.

(okay, that last bit was mostly a joke)


Closer to free, pt. III

The past week was insane- I must have slept what?, less than 20 hours in the last five nights- then all the training at work (which is very demanding because it takes a lot from you, emotionally-speaking, it’s not just technical stuff), then the ensuing people, then the ensuing partying (going out from Mon to Sun, baby!).

I hadn’t realized how tired I was until last night at the movies, I’d lost my cap under the chair and the movie was over I bowed down to look for it, everything blackened out for a split-second. I said, Whoa.
(Hey, maybe it was because of the movie itself. I mean. Jesus Christ, that Superman Returns thing is endless!)

When I was back in College- we’re talking about the tail-end of College here, when I decided to finally graduate and walk the straight & narrow- I would stay up late at night doing College stuff, essays, etc, listening to the Pogues. There’s this song called The ghost of a smile, that has a line going, You gotta walk that mile, honeychild, but I would sing it aloud every time adding an EXTRA word- You gotta walk that EXTRA mile, honeychild… mostly because when push comes to shove you gotta be a man, roll up your sleeves and stand tall.

I’m beat, I’m tired, I’m running on empty, running on fumes, I’m utterly spent.

But this is me slowing down: No way.
Week two? Bring it on!

(I need the proof that I can take it).


Closer to free, pt. II

(Talking, drinking, etc.)
ME: …And just guess what was the first thing I was told about you when I first came here?
GIRL: Good first thing or bad first thing?
ME: Bad. Metaphorically speaking, Hiroshima. Dresden. My Lai.
GIRL: So…?
(Then enter Batman’s leitmotif- Ta ta tataaaa…)
ME: That you were married.
GIRL: I’m not married, I just…
ME: …That you lived with some guy.
GIRL: That’s pretty bold. I didn’t think you had it in you.
ME: I have a theme song now.

Memo to self: Ditch the leitmotif thing.

Meanwhile, somewhere else entirely, klaxons flare:
“Varning. Lat inte Kryptoniten komma nara Superman.”
That’s today’s punchline, by the way— and off to work.


Closer to free

Please state the situation in one sentence:
There’s this tall, gorgeous blonde with tons of dark eyeliner that shares the bus stop with me a few times a month.

Now consider this, picking up girls in public transportation- and I mean career girls, College education-level girls with jobs at high-profile companies. Not really brainy chicks per se, but close.
I wish I were that good.

Well, fret not, I’m working on it, I’m working on her, I’m working on everybody. Last night, for instance, considering a hypothetical increase on the input of ethanol I would’ve probably blown the established mileage and gone past the acceptable parameters for office-mate interaction, and dude, some hornet’s nest there. But I can hold my ground just as I can hold my booze.

Regardless of the scenario, though, I have finally come up with a conclusion, with the one thing a guy really needs when going after girls:
A leitmotif.

Everybody’s had a teacher or a boss whose secret nickname was Mr. Vader or something, and every time the guy entered the office, everybody would whistle John William’s Imperial March theme song. The one that went like, Da Da Dum Da Da Dum Da Da Dumm, with the heavy breathing in the background… and if we lived in a Hollywood world, each of us would have our own theme songs.

Like, picture this:
Me and tall, gorgeous blonde enter the bus, sit side-by side and begin a conversation; we laugh, we tell each other what we’ve been doing, etc. That’s what happens every time.
Now, enter the leitmotif:
I cross the avenue towards the bus stop, tall, gorgeous blonde is already there. From the moment she sees me there’s this sudden burst of music out of nowhere, and I’ve specifically chosen Batman’s own leitmotif from the 1990s’ Batman the Animated Series as my own. Ta ta tataaaa echoing though the nothingness of the vast urban spread, then he goes:

“It’s some damn peculiar fact that we’ve never met by chance at some place other than at the bus stop here”- Enter: Ta ta tataaaa -“Like at the movies, for instance.”


A very unusual, but real, conversation last night

I swear to God the following conversation took place last night, under specific circumstances that should remain obscure for the time being:

GIRL: May I ask you what you’re doing with all this ahh… Kryptonite?

ME: Yes.

GIRL: I mean, it’s not like you’re seeking protection from…? You know. Is it?

ME: Would you believe me if I told you it’s all part of my master plan?

GIRL, smiling: You do look like Lex Luthor.

ME, smiling back: Figures. I mean. How cool is that…

GIRL: It is pretty cool indeed. You must be a pretty cool guy yourself.

ME: It’s ahh… thank you. Actually, it is quite fun being me.

GIRL: So it seems.

ME: Hey, everybody should have a shot at it.

She then asked me if I was into advertising, I said no. Maybe the press? Printed media or something? Nope. TV?! Wrong again.
I said maritime transportation, you know, mostly containers and stuff and she said, Whoa- I always get that same Whoa when they discover it’s not advertising because (I figure) there’s this common misconception going on in the world that says only those guys can pack a handful of Kryptonite on a Wednesday evening.

Everybody wants to rule the world, it’s a given, but some of us are actually trying to make a few new friends as we go.


Looking-glass semantics

…So there’s this guy at this training at office, he’s very short and very fat, kind of a latino version of the Humpty-Dumpty, and he’s talking to me:

GUY: …Because our aims should be directed to better service the customer…
ME: 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
GUY: …And we cannot fall back on any mis-interpreted initiative when applying new technologies to keep up with the current trends of the market…
ME: Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
GUY: …And to provide a direct approach to problem-solving considering a benchmarking within the reaches of…
ME: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. and so on. Dude, can the lingo willya!! Roll up your sleeves and get to work, go!


The late-night air-conditioner banshee, and other stories

This one opens with a girl, see, because if we’re to be quite frank to each other it always begins it a girl. It does so not because of this specific moment in time but because that most stories, hell, all stories, should begin with a girl. Otherwise what’s your excuse for moving mountains?
She never smiles. She has dark brown hair, straight but with some volume going on, and it cascades down her back to I don’t know, just short of her lower back? And big brown eyes and a small chin- actually it’s kind of funny because in a sense it’s like she’s got no chin at all- and her nose is just a little too big. Yet this is beauty that was probably carved from marble, see? This description would never do her justice because she’s a goddess wearing human flesh and I can’t believe how sexy she is and that we’re actually living in the same world. Eyes that are borderline unreal, you know? No, scratch that. Not unreal; the way she looks at you, it’s downright sidereal.
My world goes up in fireworks every time we say hi to each other. She’s usually clad in jeans. Blue jeans, back jeans, then a sweatshirt. Girls in jeans. Jesus Christ.
Still she rarely smiles, not really, and I’m thinking of the things I could tell her to make her smile.

There was this North-American president from circa the Depression, I’m thinking say not really FDR but Herbert Hoover- There’s a joke about him in Home-Alone 2, that’s pretty much all I know about him- So, he allegedly said that what his country really needed back then was a poem.
Me, I still think that what the world really needs is someone with the right smile. That’s why guys like Lex Luthor and Dr. Doom could never take over the planet, enslave mankind and etc; they could never pull such a stunt. That’s how you work an audience, see, with the right smile and a pair of big brown eyes.

But anyway.
This is me going back to the office, from the bar, it’s about 9:30pm and I have just realized I should return the key to the room we’ve rented in the building for this training thing we’ve been delivering during the week, and I’ve left a book on my desk (one thing totally unrelated to the other).
Everybody’s gone home for the day, for the night, and it’s dark all over, I’m trying to unlock my drawer with the lights off for no good reason whatsoever. It’s then that I hear the wailing.
It’s whoooo-hooo in a rather girlish voice but it’s the noise the air conditioner makes when everything’s so damn quiet.
So I turn the lights on, leave the key, get the book, take a leak, turn the lights out and it’s whoooo-hooo the whole time, like some crazy banshee coming at me like a bat out of hell. Then I lock the glass door and I’m out then into the elevator and when the doors are closing shut- for that briefest last second- I could swear that there was this blond girl dressed in a white gown waiving at me from inside the office, through the glass doors, wailing like a banshee- whoooo-hooo, whoooo-hooo, whoooo-hooo, etc.
Of course I was mildly drunk during that part. A few beers on an empty stomach will do that to you.

Also when mildly drunk, now returning home:
I discovered that I can really hit those falsetto bits in A-Ha’s Hunting High and Low just like Morten Harket, how cool is that? This is me after getting out of the bus, crossing that big avenue home under a starless, crimson night sky: “Do you knoooooow what it meeeeeaaaans to loooooove yoooooou”.
Wailing just like a banshee, see? A few beers on an empty stomach will most certainly do that to you.


For tomorrow

You’re not the kind of guy to go for that time capsule crap. You don’t bury things in the backyard. That’s why you would make for a lousy pirate. S*d*my, too. But I need you to stand your ground right now, and pay attention.

Draw a line in the sand with your foot and stand on the right side of that line; you know what you’re doing, they don’t have a clue.

I have heard you complaining time and again it seems that everybody’s come to the world with a roadmap but you, and it’s partially true. You’re a little lost as usual but there’s this other bit nobody’s told you about, though, that says a guy like you will never need a roadmap:

I want you to fly, kid. I want you to skim the outer reaches of the exosphere where the air thins out into infinity, then reach even higher, soaring past the heliopause, reaching for the stars- and when you look back down at the Earth you’re gonna see what your dreams are made of, and how you measure them up.
Google Earth should be the measure of your dreams and I need you never to forget it, kid.

We are building something big here, see, this is just the scaffolding. The escalators and the big glass wall, and the mirrors up on the wall, all of that are still to come. There’s so much still to come and I want you to have the best seat in the house when it does.

I need you to run faster, I need you to have the stamina of a long-distance runner, I need you to smash through that wall and keep on running because of what lies ahead.

You know in your heart what lies ahead and that’s why you freak out when you can’t see your roadmap into life. I want you to believe that the very metrics of being you push the boundaries of off-scale-ness.
Remember that funny way of smiling you came up in early ’04 because it made your girlfriend laugh every time you did it? The one with the chin up and a stiff upper lip? The one you half-took from a The Flash comic book? The one that has right stuff written all over it? That other girl M.C. liked it as well- Well I want to see more of that because that’s when I know you’ve gotten to the peak of your self-confidence and you gotta be more self-confident than God; he had a six day-plan when he came up with the Earth- yours is a little longer in the making but hey, you’re gonna make it alright.
We made a deal, you and I, a long time ago. You signed up for the duration and I promised than whenever things got too dark or too cold you would be allowed to shudder, but never to falter. You said, damn right, and you said it so well that it was right then I started believing in you.

When the time comes, many years from now, I’ll look at you and whisper in your ear; “I’ve been waiting for this moment just to hear you say…”- and then you’ll say it.

Because you know why you’re doing all of this right now, kid.


1997 pt. II: How I decided which College to go to, where, and what courses to take.

From, The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson:
I made a big decision a little while ago.
I don't remember what it was, which prob'ly goes to show
That many times a simple choice can prove to be essential
Even though it often might appear inconsequential.

I must have been distracted when I left my home because
Left or right I'm sure I went. (I wonder which it was!)
Anyway, I never veered: I walked in that direction
Utterly absorbed, it seems, in quiet introspection.

For no reason I can think of, I've wandered far astray.
And that is how I got to where I find myself today(…)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Nine years and a day ago to this day was a Sunday and I didn’t really have much to do. I remember setting fire to stuff with this then-brand new product I’d just discovered at the supermarket which was gelled ethanol, colored pink for clarity, then going over to the country club in the afternoon to play Squash with my cousin.
I was seventeen years old.

The following morning, now exactly nine years ago to this day, after throwing up at the sink after breakfast for no better reason than a mild misuse of the toothbrush, School was the same usual bore so I took a hike to the College campus nearby and picked up a handful of these really big, heavy rocks, which I heaved back to the classroom and hid them all in this guy Dermeval’s backpack just for the sheer fun of it.
He had sweaty palms, so there.

I bought eight comic books on my way home, though their titles are lost to the mists of time. If I were to guess I’d most certainly include that month’s The Flash in that list. It must have been right in the middle of the "Hell to Pay" storyline- I'm thinking either #127 or #128- and the then-dead enemies of the Flash had just been brought back to life by nasty demon-guy but they were missing their souls and thus were utterly ruthless, and so on.

After lunch I went to the video store and rented The Philadelphia Experiment parts I and II because I was fascinated with those sleek black jets from Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works division ever since the SR-71 back when I was a kid, and the movies were all about the F-117 (well, at least part II was). One of them had to do with this alternate reality in which the Nazis had won World War II, but I don’t remember which one was that. Probably part I.
Also, the clerk was a very cute girl I was most interested in.

A couple of old friends came over before dinner, they had this thick book on professions and careers and Colleges, and etc. They had set their sights on going to Med School mostly because that’s where their parents wanted them to go to.
Ever listened to John Mellencamp’s Small Town? There you go.

So. Turns out they had had their sights on finding me a career as well because I was friends with all the brainy people but I was… I don’t know. The ghost in their clubhouse? A black sheep? Too slack? - Their parents would say we were all gemstones, boy geniuses, etc, but of course I was branded the rough diamond before cutting.
That’s so cliché, by the way.

They were adamant in going to College in this city about three or four hours’ drive away from our hometown, and they said I should take Business Administration there, at the same University. My mother came in the room and said I wouldn’t stand a chance because I was lousy with numbers and hated Math.
What she didn’t know was twofold: One, that I was actually pretty good with numbers but would never let it show, and Two, that I actually hated everything equally when it came to School.

One year later, it was in early ’98 and K., who was friends with Dermeval the kid with the sweaty hands from last year, e-mailed me saying he’d come to the Big City and there was room at this place he was sharing with a few friends, and that I should definitely move in together and take Foreign Commerce classes at this nearby University, since English was pretty much the only subject I was honestly interested in, and maybe would get a chance to practice it after all.
I swear to God that’s how I made the decision about going to College.

(…of course that was all a little after the incident with the ersatz necktie at the horserace tracks- which remains to this day the truest story ever, despite its sheer implausibility.)


Girls, mostly. Also Bond movies, Ben Affleck, Aerosmith, and oddly enough, the Baba Yaga (Russian witch)

The Baba Yaga is a witch from Russian folklore. She lives in the forest, has a big nose and thin, long arched legs, eats kids, maybe has iron teeth like the Jaws the James Bond villain from the Roger Moore movies.
One telling of the myth says the Baba Yaga has a real name, which is a secret, but also her kryptonite. Like, if you’re ever confronted by the Baba Yaga and you just happen to know the old hag’s real name, well, tell her you know it, and she’ll probably refrain from eating you with her iron teeth.

I knew this girl back in my hometown, and this was say five or six years ago, “Armageddon” was on with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler, and she was alone at the time. Lonely. And she would stand at night against the window sill, the panes opened wide against the starry sky, and she would sigh and sing along to the god-awful Aerosmith song blasting from the radio- the song from the movie- that went something like, I don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t wanna fall asleep, because I don’t wanna miss ya baby, I don’t wanna miss a thing, and she would think- she told me later on- of somebody she was still to meet. She would think that there was this boy out there that would be her man, the perfect man for her, that would stand besides her by the window and stare at the sky at night with her. Maybe that boy was doing the same thing at that very moment, who knew?
And if only she could see his face, if only she knew his name…

Quite prone to star-gazing as I am, it would take some goddamn Earth-wiping asteroid to make me sigh over Ben Affleck’s love-song from a movie co-starring Steve Buscemi. Hence, I didn’t. But as it turned out, and that was in late ’99, I told my friend, Buddy, I’m through living in this mess. I want to go straight and narrow, you gotta get me a girlfriend. Your own girlfriend has, after all, a zillion of friends in College, so what the heck— It really didn’t take us too long after that.

So we met, and a few months later we were there by her window sill, looking at the stars ourselves under a warm, humid summer sky, half-naked , hand in hand, all very romantic & stuff, she knew my name and I knew hers; Baba Yaga fallen down to earth and the Aerosmith song long since forgotten.


Reading list for Jun.06

(Did I forget to list the books for May? I have no idea what I read in May...)

Title: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (or, Pearls Before Swine)
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Year: 1965
Publisher: No idea.
What: A short novel about this guy Eliot Rosewater who's the last trustee in line for the fortune of his family's Foundation, but he's sort of crazy and maybe going through a middle-life crisis. He splits from his wife then goes to this small town in the middle of nowhere and sets up shop as somebody out to help the underdog, also becomes a volunteer firefighter. Meanwhile, an unscrupulous lawyer sets his sights on amassing the fortune to himself.
Comments while reading: This is a very enjoyable and funny book that makes you think- Vonnegut's trademarks. Even though it's not one of the author's most famous works- it's very low-key, in fact- it would make a terrific movie! I'm thinking Kevin Spacey as Eliot Rosewater, Teri Hatcher as his (ex-)wife, Donald Sutherland as Eliot's father, Senator Rosewater... also Alan Alda as the omnipresent Kilgore Trout... It would definitely become the no.1 feel-good movie of the year.

Title: American Psycho
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Year: 1991
Publisher: Don't know.
What: A couple of years in the life of Patrick Bateman, 26, living his life in the end of the 1980s as a Wall Street Yuppie by day... and a different sort of predator by night.
Comments while reading: Okay, you've probably seen the movie with Christian Bale in it a few years ago; it was a very good movie. Now forget the movie- it's a whole different ballgame; the movie feels like a dumbed-down, kindergarten adaptation of the real thing. Tons of sex, drugs, blood and gore. Also, there's something beyond all flash (and flesh?) and substance; not only it's a great portrayal of the times (1980s), but also an exposé? a critic? on the way we see ourselves and the shallowness of our instant-gratification culture.
Ellis is good; in fact I think this is possibly the best book I've read this year, maybe second only to Less Than Zero- by the same author. Ellis is really good.

Title: Superman in the Eighties
Author: (various)
Year: 2006; but a reprint of several 1980s stories.
Publisher: DC Comics
What: A paperback collection of assorted Superman tales during the 1980s, Pre- and Post-Crisis, with comments by writer/artist Jerry Ordway.
Comments while reading: Well, it's the last in a series of ten books; there's Batman's series from the 40s to the 80s and then Superman's too... and to be quite frank it's a bit of a letdown. The stories don't seem to follow any criteria, everything seems too random, there's a lost connection missing, no point at all. It's supposed to showcase and highlight the Superman stories from that decade but especially given the reboot the character underwent in '86 (past continuity was scrapped away and they started over from scratch) it comes off as too little, too late. That specific volume should be twice as thick, or at least focus on a specific era.
Or am I missing the point?

Title: Operation Shylock: A Confession
Author: Philip Roth
Year: 1993
Publisher: Forgot.
What: Philip Roth, the author himself, travels to Israel in the search of a man using his name and his face to support the idea of a reverse-Zionism, preaching that the very existence of the Jewish people is compromised by having them living in Israel itself. The author's double calls for a massive exodus of Israel and back to their native pre-War European homelands through the creation of an organization called "Anti-Semites Anonymous", for a worldwide reversal of anti-Semitism. Throw in the Mossad and the PLO and you got one hell of a thriller. Or at least, an an existential thriller if such a thing exists.
Comments while reading: Of course it's fiction- and despite the supposedly serious overtones there's an underlying humor all through the novel. Roth is very ironic and you gotta keep your eyes open for the funny bits mixed with the serious narrative.
Not being Jew myself and actually being at a loss as to most of their... stuff... I was a little off as to many passages and quotations. Still, you don't have to be a Jew to enjoy it- even though Roth’s got his own specific idea as to his demographics, his target-audience…
Also, the theme of the doppelganger has always fascinated me. Actually I feel that a great deal of my attraction to comic books stems from the extensive use of doppelgangers throughout comicbook history (Bizarro for Superman, Black Adam for Captain Marvel, Prof. Zoom for the Flash, etc).
But I digress...
Also, the Tzaddik is actually mentioned on the last page, and I read it and thought, “This is so cool.”

Anyway, I’ve just started with How we are Hungry, a collection of short stories by Dave Eggers, and next in line is Cat's Cradle by the aforementioned Kurt Vonnegut.
After that, I dunno. I was browsing over George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, and Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days and they both seemed interesting, but it's too early to tell.
...Which reminds me, it's time to place my next orders with the bookstore. What to read next, what to read next.


Go back… Go forth… Go rhino!… And Eddie would too, if he could…

Now me and J. came up with this really specific approach to problem-solving at the office, that was in a golden age back when we were office-buddies & worked together a long time ago. Well, a year or two back.
We had it sprung up from this inside joke about the way rhinoceroses would supposedly strike out after a fire, say, according to the myth, whenever they see bushes on fire they- whamm!- would go at it, one-track mind and hide like a battletank, and quell it by stompin’ on it.
So J. and I- now picture us manning our Lotus Notes inboxes- would watch those incoming e-mails like they were the evil aliens from Space Invaders. They’d pop up, we’d zero in, and blast ‘em all to smithereens. That’s the way it went.

In a crazy kind of way it was a game for us. Objective was to keep that inbox clean. Any e-mail left meant a case or problem left unresolved and we couldn’t have it.
When things were slow it was pretty much a “first come, first served” basis, no secret as to the MO. But whenever things got rough we’d unleash the RHINO within. Here’s how it worked:
Suppose it’s one of those days and the Space Invaders monsters are pouring in, one after another, all at once, way faster than you can handle them. So what we’d do was, we’d pinpoint the timebombs going off, anything that was metaphorically on fire (and sometimes borderline literally) and yell Go rhino! to each other. And always, always with a smile.
Picture Batman during the Long Halloween story, that bit in the end when he’s gotta go against all his foes all at once and he tackles Solomon Grundy first because Grundy topples whole buildings with his bare hands…
J. and I would just like Batman strike at the bigger stuff, go at the bigger boys, go after those bits that nobody really wanted. Us? We loved the nastier, scarier, downright more terrible stuff. We’d go where nobody else would go, we’d plunge headfirst against the eye of the storm keeping nothing to the wall- While everybody else would be looking for the perfect wave, pinned down to their day in the sun- we’d be cheering for the shadow of the storm to loom closer, we’d live to see the sky tumbling down on our heads. We were utterly careless about being over our heads, there was a strange, quasi-suicidal beauty in tackling problems so much above our then-current capacity. Utterly irresponsible, and fearless of being fired.
The way we saw it then, and I think the way we still see it now, is that the world is so much more fun when you bite a lot more than you can chew.

Some people will tell you not to try to embrace the whole world at once. That’s not my pitch. I’ll take a cue from my buddy Friedrich Nietzsche and label them naysayers. People that believe in holding back.
My advice is, go and embrace whole star systems all at once, because if you don’t push to surpass your arm’s reach then you’ll never get to surpass yourself.

Now even better than Zarathustra and his übermensch- Ever heard of this guy Eddie Aikau?
He was this Hawaiian lifeguard from the 1970s whom as surfer would, in a nutshell, go after those waves nobody else would, that nobody else dared to.
He died in ’78 when rowing for help after a boating accident and became a legend after his own right and to this day the legend says, Eddie would go.

Well me and J., we would go too.
And we will go, still.

Just watch our dust.


The rentals, a screenplay

(this one's for PZ- wherever you are, buddy- thanks for the corn flakes)



Thronging crowds ELBOW each other before the COUNTER all the way from the SHELVES at the back, under GREEN & YELLOW BALLOONS hanging overhead. The calendar marks July 1st.

SUPERIMPOSE: July 1st, 2006. The local Blockbuster store.


The PROTAGONIST approaches the LINE before one of the CASHIERS; is CONFRONTED by the last man, a CHUBBY, HALF-DRUNKEN FAT MAN IN A SOCCER UNIFORM.

Oboy… Here we go…

Y’know, I still can’t believe we lost, I mean, what the hell was the coach thinking, took him long enough to start replacing the key players…

The protagonist looks at the DVD box in his hands, says nothing.

Tell ya this, man, was at this barbecue and it was supposed to go on into the night but now me and the wife, we got no reason to carry on, y’know?

Sure do.

Had the whole thing called off and now we’re gonna watch some movies at my mother’s, we called in a few friends, that’s gonna be our Saturday night, no real motivation for anything else. Besides, my mom loves movies so I’m renting what, three or four in a row so we’ll have stuff to watch up until Tuesday.

Tell me about it.

I mean, it’s a wonder we got this far, isn’t it? Players looked like they’d been wearing high heels into the field all through this World Cup. Look at the millions they make in endorsing deodorant and tennis shoes and stuff.


Billions, that’s right. You’re a riot!

(looking down at the DVD in his hands)
So they tell me.

Guess we were the lucky ones, our line’s the slowest in the store.

Oh? Hadn’t realized…

So what did you get?

(waves the DVD at the Fat Man)
The Right Stuff. Astronaut movie.

(waves three or four DVDs at the Protagonist)
Me, I got, see, a lot of movies. So I can watch ‘em until Tuesday comes along.

…With your mom.

Hehh, sure thing pal. So how about those astronauts, uh? Like, you into alien movies with ‘em explosions and the spaceships?

It’s a movie about the Mercury 7 astronauts. You know, John Glenn. Alan Shepard. Those guys…

…That Henry fella, tell ya something, he played out that one nicely, right there in the nick of time…

…and Chuck Yeager too…

…Zidane’s pretty good too, better’n’ours…

…First man to break the sound barrier, you gotta respect that…

Sure thing, ya gotta respect those Frenchmen, play with much more gusto than our guys!


Pull back & Pan out from the Protagonist WALKING HOME across the PARKING LOT, up into the NIGHT SKY above.

“The last day of June is the last day of Central City.”

He STOPS for a split-second. SIGHS....

The Flash #244. September, 1976. Jesus Christ.

...Then MOVES ON, WHISTLING a song (Move On, by The Rentals).


Let's get up and leave this town
I just want to go right now
Once we get out of here
No one will notice
that we disappeared
So what do you say we go right now
Get away from everyone
that hangs around
They seem so insincere
So why don't we just
leave them here
And move on

We'll find some new place nice
Some other city
or the country side
We'll make new friends in time
We'll pack up and say good-bye
And move on

It's been six long years
Six years of hanging about
without a care
It don't matter where we go
Anywhere is better,
I know