for pela via

Today is the end of my novelette (  ). You can find Parts XVIII, XIX, and XX at Manarchy Magazine. With that bit of business out of the way, the rest of this post is dedicated to Pela Via.

Pela Via is one of the coolest people I’ve met in this whole publishing thing. We’re a pretty small community, us writers and editors and publishers, and I’ve managed to meet some really great people here and there, but none of them are quite as awesome as Pela. Maybe it’s because she’s like a big sister/mother figure for me, even though she’s only a few years older than me. Something about her just makes me believe that I’m heading the right way, doing the right things. She makes me feel confident, even when maybe I shouldn’t. She’s endlessly supportive of me and all the things I do, even allowing me to take over Manarchy this last month–which is the last month of Manarchy–with my novelette (  ).

Though (  ) is sort of surreal and chaotic and nowhere, it’s one of the more autobiographical things I’ve written, which probably sounds even stranger if you happened to read any of it, or, dare say, all of it. I was writing most of it on the fly, which maybe shows, but Pela believed in me enough to let me just go for it. Hopefully it turned out well. I actually plan on revising it and releasing it later, and probably it’ll look a great deal different, but I’m very happy with what I have here, right now.

Pela’s also the mastermind behind Warmed & Bound, which is a truly glorious book and it makes me proud every day to know one of my favorite stories I ever wrote is in there. It’s a story that was rejected, like, twenty times and I always thought it was one of the best things I had written, and, finally, Pela was the person to make it real.

More than just her support of my writing, she’s been a very kind friend to me while I’ve been in some of my darkest and most solipsistic hours. I could probably say a lot more about that, but I think it’s best for me to keep those moments out of the public eye. But I’ve had many strange and horrifying nights, haunted nights, and she’s always been kind and understanding, willing to tolerate my insane soliloquies and patient enough to wait for me to wear myself out, so she can start gathering the little fragments of me and help me put them back together.

Along with Warmed & Bound, she made Manarchy Magazine possible. More than that, she made it great. If it weren’t for Pela asking, I never would’ve been a part of things there. When Pela puts her name on something, though, I trust it. I can’t help but trust it.

She’s Pela.

And now I can’t wait to get the time to read Booked, the latest anthology she’s edited, along with Robb and Livius of Booked. Podcast.

We’re not yet sure what comes next for us, this collection of people who seem to orbit around Pela and all that she does. But, whatever it is, I know it’ll be great, so long as we have Pela to guide us. Even if just to point out the paths to take, to shine a light where it needs shining.

So thank you, Pela. Thank you for all that you do and have done.

Team Pela. Always.

a year in stories::forty

Another short story today. This one’s a bit of a steampunky horror thing. Moved into a new house yesterday, though the move will be sort of gradual over the next couple days. Realising how many books I have is sort of disconcerting, considering I already filled my closet with them and haven’t even moved my bookcases full of books yet. Hopefully I can find or build some new bookcases soon.

Anyrate, I’ve cool news to report but I might wait till later. I feel in a rush right now, for some reason.

The gods we build

The whirring wheeze wandered over the cobblestones that led to her. Turning this way and that, Her hair piled atop her head, her corset binding, she lifted up her long skirt and hurried her steps. As she walked the clouds occluded the moon and the whirring wrapped round her, coming from all directions. She called out into the darkness without slowing. The whirring rose, filling her ears, becoming the only sound. Running, she covered her ears, letting her skirt fall, catching her steps. In the whirring she heard a voice and then a name, but not hers. The whirring suffocated, she tripped, and with her dress torn and knees raw, she screamed no words, only sound. It tore through the whirring and there was silence as a man emerged from the darkness and helped her to her feet.

What’s wrong, my dear?

Silhouetted by the gaslamp down the street, the shadows draped over him, but he was tall and thin. She took his offered hand, cold, and told him she did not know but that she was frightened, ever so frightened.

Walking together, she commented on how odd it was for the streets to be so empty but he reminded her it was late and few were out at such an hour. They reached the lamp and she stopped him to see his face. Handsome and young, a dandy untouched by cares or worry. She thanked him and kissed him on the cheek. He held her and asked why she was out so late but she demurred.

The whirring struck as thunder and the man stood headless before her, covering her in the blood he held. Falling back into the cobblestones, her screams shrouded by whirring, and the moon did not shine.

She must’ve been a whore.

Aye, why else out alone.

But she’s not alone.

All the more the whore.

Laughter amongst the constables. She watched them poke at the lifeless body of the woman torn apart in the street. The thick musk of humanity caught in her throat and she fanned away the heat, the stench, the memories. The clamour of the City rose as morning closed, the markets in full swing, but her eyes remained with the constables in the street, trying to keep the crowd at bay.

What you think it was, aye?

Wolves.

Wolves?

Aye, wolves!

Shaking her head, she laughed through her nose and walked home where she was greeted by the other girls not currently occupied by clients.

The girls were frantic over the dead woman. They barraged her with questions as soon as she entered the salon, all of them iterations of: Was she one of us, ma’am?

She was no working lady, girls. Just a lonely girl walking the streets at night with a gentleman.

A collected sigh of relief, and then a cutting new terror. The girls talked on, their fears racking their voices.

Walking up the stairs to her room, she locked the door behind her, took out her diary and wrote only one line: This time, no one safe.

Summer ended with the death tally rising to twenty three. All woman caught in the night. The heat and stench of summer in the City replaced by autumnal winds and rains, washing the City clean of humanity’s effluvium. The full moon waning, she counted the days till the next as she folded the paper and rubbed her temples.

The sun peered over the buildings of the City, her heart beating in new directions. Opening her diary, she paged through the previous sixty days, skimming through her notes, the diagrams and maps, until she came again to the day it started again. Scanning the pages, she took a new sheet and traced patterns, symbols of no human language. Long arcing lines became swirls which tightened and loosened as she flipped through the pages of the diary. She stopped periodically to compare the symbols to the maps and diagrams, to mutter new words, then she looked out her window the fading constellations and sighed.

Crumpling the new sheet in her hands, she opened the window and tossed it out. The City rolled over to the new day as the streets filled with people.

The man, bent and grey and balding, opened the door and without a word she brushed past him into the house. Scowling at her beneath heavy eyebrows, stroking his wispy beard, he said: What do you want?

You need to stop this.

Staring as he stood erect, laughter took over him and his voice fell from corroded lungs, What is it, exactly, that I need to stop?

Approaching the old man she said, You need to stop Prometheus. I know it’s him. You need to end this.

His scowl wavered and then he told her to follow him into the parlour. He shouted for tea and when they sat the tea was put in their hands. He waited for the maid to leave and then motioned for her to speak her mind.

I know it’s you. I know it’s the two of you. It’s one thing to kill harlots, but just any woman out at night is inexcusable.

Raising his hand silenced her and he sipped from his tea. I quite like this, he said, Nothing like tea for an autumn morning. My bones, the creak now. You don’t understand yet, but you will, in time.

His hands were white, gnarled, as if only bone remained on them, and his face appeared carved from granite, fissuring after a millennia of weathering storms. She tried to speak but he raised his hand again, Drink your tea. Then, and only then, will we discuss the motions of gods and men.

In one scalding motion, she drank the entire cup of tea and said, I did not come here to sit idle while your monster terrorises the City. I came here–

You came here to make demands, his voice rose and thickened, And I will not be berated by a whore in my own home. Now sit and listen. You come here in broad daylight without a care for who I am or who I have been. You see an old monstrous man and you know what I have done to be who I am. The trouble with whores is that we let you keep your ears. I have not lived this long to be lectured by a girl aged past her use. If you want to discuss Prometheus you will wait till I’ve finished my damn tea.

She waited, the room thick with dust and rage. The scent of stagnant air and the rotting flesh of the aged man drinking tea quietly with a slight smile on his crooked lips wrapped round her, filling her lungs with memories of a decayed youth. Closing her eyes, buildings crumbled, stars dissolved, and oceans swallowed the City as Prometheus rose as a burning blackness against the fabric of the night.

Prometheus, his voice returned to its initial collapse, Do you remember what I told you while yet you were young?

She opened her mouth but his scowl silenced her.

I do not require your words. I require your ears. While yet you were young and beautiful, I told you that it was man’s destiny to exchange new gods for the ones we destroyed through disbelief. We are a fickle race, and there is nothing we love quite so much as killing the gods be build. As the gods of the past wither and turn to dust, we write new ones in our books. For now, we call this science. Do you never wonder why we are ever discontent with the world? It’s because we are inadequate creatures! We are hollow bones carrying blood and flesh, cursed to imperfection. But in our imperfection is our desire and magic. Though we’ll ever be flawed, we can imagine perfection. And we can create it! That is Prometheus. He is our greatest hope to becoming like the gods we keep imagining. Prometheus is a better creature than all us combined and it is through it that we shall perfect ourselves. Prometheus is our key to godliness. I’ve lived too long, dearest whore. I’ve lived for centuries. I’ve watched my wives and children and grandchildren die while yet I keep on. I do not live out of fear of Death or even because I cling so tight to life. I live out of necessity. By choice. I persevere where all humanity rots and decays and turns to dust and ash. I breathe with broken lungs and my blood is a blackened sludge, but I go on to give humanity what it’s always deserved but never achieved. So go away from here. Prometheus is not to be judged by our morals. Prometheus is a god, and this god will make us whole, after millennia of brokenness.

Wintry winds blew early and she wrapped her coat tight round her. Empty streets, for they were always empty at this hour, in this year. She walked alone down streets and alleys, past al the places she had been on nights before. An entire month of prowling the wet streets of the City alone at night. Her steps silenced against the cobblestone by blustering winds and freezing rain. No moon, no stars, only the grey expanse of winter’s clouds hanging low over her.

Hours receded as she walked, eyes wide, alert. She followed the maps she made to the death sites of all the thirty seven women now dead from the Scourge, as the newsmen and police called it. The Scourge, the Purge, the Hand of God: she rubbed her temples and traced the symbols into the puddles along the streets. Dappled by rain, the water never held the symbols but washed them to nothing.

As the rain stopped and the grey opened, she found herself surrounded by a high whirring noise. Her breath caught in her lungs, her blood screaming in her ears, she looked up and down the streets and alleys and tops of buildings. The whirring thickened round her and she felt constricted, her skin tightened: trapped.

The whirring roared in her ears, in her lungs, against her eyes, and it took shape before her. A great expanse of glittering blackness filled her vision and its maw opened to reveal a darkness blacker than black.

She screamed, first wordless, and then abuse, but the glittering blackness flooded her vision and the whirring tore the sound from the world.

At last she spoke in inhuman words, the sheet of symbols clenched in her fist. She screamed the words of no language and the great blackness closed its mouth. As it did four stars emerged on the shape she considered its face. They turned to spotlights blinding her but still she shrieked on until the whirring stopped and her blood filled the streets and the grey became morning.

The crowd gathered around after the screaming child discovered the woman ripped to pieces beside a pile of gears and sheets of metal. The City surrounded the body and made it legend.

What you make of it, said one constable.

Not wolves, aye?

No. I don’t believe it’s wolves this time.

a year in stories::thirty nine

Just submitted the poetry collection I wrote the weekend of June 7th. It’s 119 poems long, consisting of 50 tanka and 51 haiku, along with various other styles, and a few unstructured long poems.

Also, regarding freelancing: got a few new jobs, one of them editing a fantasy novel for some guy. Should be a nice paycheck. Also got a job proofreading articles, which isn’t great pay, but should be good experience and will, if nothing else, help my reputation as a freelancer. Oh, forgot to mention: finished my first freelance job and got paid! Super exciting, really. It’s for a world renowned plastic surgeon, of all things. Too, he loved what I did and wants me to write for his medical blog once it’s ready.

Very cool.

Anyrate, I wrote a short story for this publication yesterday that got rejected. A one day turnaround! Could be worse, yeah?

It’s meant to be a comedy, or at least funny. Hopefully you think so.

My Newest Old Friend

I only had one coffee mug and though there was nothing particularly special about it, everything sort of changed after it started speaking.

I don’t know why it happened, really. The morning came the way most do: bloodshot and bleary-eyed, I stared at the clock as it approached its alarm. Sunlight already hot on my face, the sheets wrapped round my feet, and my arms tight around a pillow. After turning off the alarm I went to make a pot of coffee but found them scattered across the linoleum of my kitchen. Perplexing and frustrating as this was, I had come to expect it ever since the Great Ant War of ’99 that took place here.

Gathering the beans and grinding them, I stared at the birds shitting on my neighbor’s car while the scent of coffee filled my house. There’s something enormously satisfying knowing that misfortune belongs to another and, internally, I was encouraging those birds perched over Gillen’s car. Knowing him, he wouldn’t clean it off the glass properly but would use the windshield wipers, smearing the whiteness everywhere.

Taking my mug out of the cabinet, it seemed normal. I wasn’t paying much attention, I suppose, but it certainly wasn’t saying anything. I poured the coffee in, added some cream and sugar, then let it sit while I checked my email, hoping for incoming work.

And then: screaming.

‘I’m boiling alive! Who in the hell pours scalding liquid on someone!’

An unfamiliar voice coming from what I thought was my backyard, and so I dashed out seeing how I could help, but when I passed the mug its curses turned towards me.

‘You evil human bastard!’

Startled, I tripped over my feet and smashed my head against the counter, collapsing into blackness.

I heard talking. Or, rather, I heard monologuing. An unfamiliar raspy voice chatting away into the darkness behind my eyelids. Rubbing my head, finding blood coating my hand, I panicked and jumped to my feet. The rush of blood swirling in me nearly brought me back into darkness but then the voice told me to relax.

‘Who’s there?’

‘It’s me, dummy. The one you tried to murder with this disgusting black liquid. Don’t think I’ll pity you just because you nearly suicided here in front of me, but you really must try to relax. You’ve been out for awhile.’

Rising slowly to my feet, I followed the voice to the coffee mug.

I interrupted its monologue and said, ‘I’m sorry, but are you talking?’

If a coffee mug could scowl, it would look the way mine did that morning, ‘Of course I’m talking! It’s just the two of us here, yeah? It would be just my luck to be sold to such a foolish human as you. Such an insensitive bastard of a man, always hanging around here alone, drinking out of me like a damned savage–‘

I picked it up to get a better look and maybe see where its voice came from but the way it shrieked caused me to drop it, spilling the now cooled coffee on the counter.

‘Catch me, you bastard,’ it said as it rolled near the counter’s edge.

Placing it back on its base, it hurled abuse at me as I cleaned up the spilt coffee. It told me how horrible its life had been since being sold to me, forced to withstand absurd temperatures, attempted drownings in soapy waters, and the indignity of me putting my lips on it and sucking down its contents. It ranted and raved until I interrupted once more.

‘Why can you talk now?’

‘What do you mean now?’

‘I mean, before this morning you never spoke to me.’

‘Like hell I didn’t! You humans are too self-centered to even acknowledge that others might have something to say about the way you treat the world around you. Oh, if you could only hear what the bed says about you. By the way, it knows what you’re doing at night on your computer, and it’s disgusted. Truthfully, we all are, you sad lonely man.’

‘Is it all right if I carry you over to the window? I’d like to lie down. I still feel quite loopy.’

‘Yes, that’s fine, but be careful with your fingers.’

Not knowing what that meant, I picked it up with only my thumb and forefinger, holding it out ahead of me.

‘Ah, this is a nice spot,’ it said when I placed it on the sidetable as I lay down on the couch. The greens of summer were blowing in the wind and the birds were probably singing. My head sloshed around, my thoughts capsizing before I could grab hold of them. The coffee mug kept talking about imperialism and empire, how humans didn’t care for the rights of others. It talked about global warming and conspiracies I’d never heard of. I wanted to ask it where it learnt to think of such things, but assumed it was the newspaper which I always seemed to have but never seemed to read. Maybe from the internet. Then I wondered how it learnt to read or how it learnt to speak English, but it just kept talking on and on that it became too much effort to argue or try to get answers.

I rolled over and drifted into a fitful sleep.

I woke up with my face stuck to the couch pillows. The blood forming an adhesive ridiculously strong. After a few failed attempts at removing it from my face, the coffee mug said, ‘Why don’t you use some water to dissolve the blood?’

Without argument, I carried the pillow cautiously to the kitchen faucet, staring at the ground to maneuver my house.

Returning to the living room, pillow free, I sat next to the coffee mug. Twilight spread and I yawned at the blushing sky.

‘Do you want me to clean the coffee out of you,’ I said.

‘That would be quite nice,’ said the coffee mug.

I washed it and then we sat in front of the television and watched a Mad Max. The coffee mug talked a lot through the movie but I didn’t really mind. It was nice having someone to talk to.

That was a few years ago, and though I have a new mug now, Muggy, which is what I call it now, doesn’t seem to mind that I’m infringing on the rights of a new mug. Every day I wake up to its harassment and every night it yells at the television while we watch movies from the 80s. Sometimes it gets in an argument with some piece of furniture or utensil, but these are pretty one sided for me. I find myself taking Muggy’s side almost every single time. It’s not so bad having a little noise in the house.

a year in stories::thirty eight

Before I get to the next story, I wanted to post links to (  ) Part XVI and XVII. Only three more parts to this novelette.

A new short story today. It’s about the future. I guess, technically, it’s a time travel story, in a way. It’s about choosing to be fat as an act of revolution. Hopefully you enjoy it.

Obese Dreams

 

You won’t believe this from when you’re reading, but I want you to know that we are not allowed to own things anymore. It started with the Great Purge. That wasn’t some government thing, it was a disease, and it spread wildly. Half the human population died in 2039. Some sort of intense virus that constantly mutated and kept ahead of scientists for two years. The region you know as the American Empire was essentially wiped off the planet, as was its former colony, Mexico.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that people who were overweight died fastest but also carried the disease furthest. It wasn’t just being fat that killed you, but being obese, which ravaged third world nations dependent on artificial food created by the former empire. The artificiality of the food and the fat cells created this disease and, well, like I said: half the population decimated.

We figured out the cure and immunised ourselves against future outbreaks. We returned to ancient farming techniques, and because no one trusted anyone else’s crops, the world transformed into a largely agrarian society, loosely affiliated. International trade began to decrease as distrust spread from food to any product coming from a place the recipient hadn’t seen. Your worldwide connectivity through the internet was already a relic, as the intense censorship and control imposed by the former Empire basically ceased communication. People were afraid to go online except to look up the most general pieces of information.

Sure, there were still hackers and curious folk who kept up the internet, uploading information, stealing it back from governments, but for most people it became something from a bygone era. My grandmother remembers the day she signed off for the last time and my mother parents never seemed interested with the global community, having been survivors of the purge. But, me, I breathe through the internet.

Most people don’t even have computers anymore, except for novelty shops and the like, but this isn’t about computers. It’s about choice.

All my life I’ve dreamt of being large. I saw pictures in history books of these 20th and 21st century humans, with their immense girth and staggering height, and felt the loss. Most people think that the sizes of the people of the past are exaggerated. How could someone ever be taller than 1.8 meters, they say. How could a human ever weigh even close to 150kg? The notion is absurd to them, living in a world where the adult male tops out around 1.7m and 70kg. There are exceptions, of course. There always are, but even the tallest person here is within a normal range of what you’d expect a human to be.

The more I learnt about the past, the more I wanted to grow. Since I knew I’d never be tall, I chose to be wide.

I snuck meals, stole them, traded extras with other kids. By the time I was fifteen I was already 100kg, my body hanging off me at places, even flapping in strong winds. I measured my waist, the flab hanging from my jaw, and the circumference of my fingers. I wasn’t particularly tall or short, considering the world I live in, but I was only about 1.5m back then.

My mother and father became concerned. The whole village feared me. I was barred from continuing education or remaining in the longhouses with the others. I was ostracised, but I had the computer, the internet still defiantly alive. I found others obsessed with the past, with the size humanity once was, but none had gone as far as me. Still, none attempt what I daily live.

After being banished, I began to wander. From town to town to village to city, I was kept at bay. They believed I was a carrier, or worse: some monster from the past. As years went by and I continued to grow, word spread of me and my journey. Not only was I all over the internet, but my reputation preceded me in the cities and villages I passed through. Talking to no one but eating all I could gather, I grew. As I grew far past what humanity thought I could be, there were those who began to follow and feed me.

None of them attempted what I do, but they were filled with my defiant revolution. At 2.1 meters tall and 250kg, I am a giant in a world of hungry humans.

But as my fame grew with my size, so did my enemies. Fear is a powerful motivator and I ran into violence for the first time.

I was thirty years old, had learnt all there was to know about your wars and acts of aggression, but only then did I finally experience and understand what it was to be hated. I have read your tracts on racism, sexism, and every other kind of ism. Even for me, believer that I am, I couldn’t really begin to believe that such trivial things caused such chasms between people.

I was attacked outside of a town I had just left. Beating until bleeding, I managed to escape with the aid of some of my followers. I had a considerable amount by them, on this neverending pilgrimage with me, but I lost five that day. Five dead because I choose to live as they fear to!

It would be laughable if I couldn’t still hear their screaming in my dreams.

I understand their fear. I truly do. But they cannot understand what it means to go against popular opinion.

We are small societies. There are no rulers or appointed judges or even squadrons of police, as you have. The world is largely at peace, but it’s because they’re asleep. We have been trained into docility, programmed to obey.

But I fought back and now I will soon be dead.

Yesterday, over 100 of my followers were murdered in their sleep. Their blood was smeared around me spelling out the ways in which they intend to torture me and flay me alive.

I believe they may even eat me.

And so I am sending this back to you.

Beware those who will take from you out of fear.

I can hear them hammering on the door. I’ll soon be dead, but this will reach you through binary series. All you need to do is let go of Time, let it run freely and wash over you. If you can figure out how, you can change all of this. You can see what the future we’re building is like. You can prevent it. You can shape it.

Good luck.

internet rage machine

There’s a great deal of things going on right now that induce rage. Or should. NSA spying without consequence, the two year civil war in Syria, the blossoming civil war in Egypt, the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, the essential imprisonment of Julian Assange who’s being denied entry to Ecuador, the country he has legal  political asylum in by England due to american pressure, and then there’s the abuses against Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and his partner, and so many other things.

But where does the internet rage blow up against? Celebrities.

I believe there’s actually a somewhat logical, or at least understandable, reason behind all this. Most people are terrified of making waves or saying controversial things. Along with that, most people are tremendously uninformed or misinformed. Then there are those who just think it’s not their place to state opinions because they don’t believe they know enough about the situations. This is all very reasonable and pretty typical, and while we can discuss why they should know more, that’s not really an argument worth having, because it does nothing but spread rage.

So Syria: people are finally talking about Syria now that our Nobel Peace Prize winning president is planning on bombing them. Okay, so, despite having no popular support, he also has no international support, and will likely blow past the UN the way George Bush did. But let’s get to the root of this. What does bombing a nation solve? Will this end Assad’s regime? Maybe, but at what cost? If we’re set to oust Assad, then who are we standing behind? The rebels. And who are the rebels? Well, that’s a pretty wide and varied mix of people, but the students who were a part of the initial protests and so on are likely no longer there, due to dying or fleeing. What you have is a very splintered coalition of organisations who are not friends or even friendly with one another, but who have a common enemy. Many of these people are the very same Islamic extremists we’re fighting our alleged War on Terror against. They’ve committed various war crimes and atrocities against the pro-Assad faction, which is the majority of the Syrian fighters. So when we get Assad out of there, what do we expect to happen?

Now, I’m not trying to defend Assad. That would be a nonsensical thing to do. But this is a true civil war. There is a pretty substantial faction of Syrians who stand alongside him. It’s not a war of Assad against the people. It’s a war where the people are fighting various groups of other people, none of whom agree on a direction for the country beyond the Death and ouster of Assad. And Assad has no moral ground to stand on in this war either. Though the rebels have committed crimes against humanity, so have the pro-Assad army.

But we need to ask ourselves, Why are we going there? Or, to put it better, since we’ve been aiding the rebels for some time: Why are we finally declaring outright war?

There’s a reason why all sides of the tragedy going on in Egypt blame the US for what has happened to their country and what is happening to their country. They see us as the enemy. We fight on both sides, handing guns and money to whichever side will renew unrest and distress. We supported the coup. And while it was a popularly backed coup, it was a coup nonetheless, which means, according to our constitution, we should have immediately stopped sending aid to Egypt. But, alas, this is the world we live in, and the country I live in.

The entire middle east, barring Israel, views the US as the most dangerous and threatening enemy to their existence and stability. There are very good reasons for this that go far beyond and deeper than simple propaganda. We put in dictators and then take them out, we fund terrorists sects, commit terrorists strikes against civilians, barrage them with drones and bombs and dirty weapons. We are the greatest terrorist organisation to maybe ever exist and we’re destroying an entire region of the world, keeping them in a constant state of unrest or despotism. Look at where Gaddafi and Saddam and bin Laden came from and you’ll find an easy and bold line to US foreign policy.

Our interest in the middle east is in keeping it unstable and firmly under our control, whether that be by proxy through a despot we install, or through a sort of military demolition team, like we used in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will use in Syria and Iran, possibly Egypt.

We are not their friends, and it’s not because the Arab world wants to destroy us. It’s because we’re trying to destroy them, and we’re doing a pretty good job. Have been for almost a hundred years.

What a better distraction to the government abuses than another war? And what a better way to legitimise these abuses of power. Barack Obama’s already codified crimes against humanity, so why not codify and legalise government spying? It’s all in the name of our safety! Though this has been proven remarkably false by Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning, very few americans seem willing to stand behind them or even defend them in polite company.

We wrap the noose around their necks when we remain silent. And if we remain silent as we march into Syria and destroy and already ruined nation, it will be our hands bloodied by this ongoing genocide against the Arab world.

Enter Miley Cyrus.

I don’t feel a need or reason to defend her or her actions, but I find the level of vitriol levelled at her the height of absurdity. The only thing I will say is that if you think Miley Cyrus decides what she does in her career, you’re probably deluding yourself just so you can continue to rage.

But I find this level of anger at a popstar pretty curious. And I think it has to do with all this collected anger we have, as a nation. We have nowhere we know how to direct it, without ostracising friends, family, coworkers. We’re afraid of seeming radical or controversial. What if the company you work for looks at your facebook/twitter account and sees that you think Israel’s military occupation of Palestine is even remotely negative? They may even gasp in alarm! It could be you let go in downsizing next month!

But maybe that’s unfair to paint people that way. No, it is. I apologise for that. I don’t think you’re all so petty and unthinking. But I do think that this collected anger is much easier to direct at a target that everyone agrees upon. Most people don’t pay attention to international news, let alone national news, so we don’t know whose side we should be on. What should we do about Syria or Egypt? What should we do about the international illegal spying network we and other countries have? What should we do about whistleblowers or the drone war? What should we do about national debt and joblessness? What should we do about the global and national economy?

These are tough questions, and while I have answers for all of them, I understand that I stand in a very small group of very radical thinkers. I don’t expect even 30% of people to agree with the details I lay forth for these kind of issues, and so I don’t blame anyone for truly just not knowing what to do.

This is normal when powers far superior to you are gambling with dice you don’t understand.

And I think it’s all this rage that we don’t know how to direct. We see an easy target: former Disney teen idol making a fool of herself on stage.

Boom. Lock on and destroy. Level all that rage and hatred at the dummy on stage. Make her regret becoming famous. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s how fun and satisfying it is to destroy the gods we create.

cipher sisters

Very excited about this new collection from ThunderDome Press, which has a story by me in it. It’s available right here. A lot of very cool writers in here. My copy’s on its way to my house right now and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands, because it looks nice. Pictures below.

I’ll give you a short sample of my story for the collection, which is actually the last story in there.

It was a map and it was her face. Canyons dug by time, ridges and precipices, memories of long gone days. Folds and creases made by unseen hands over a lifetime, their lifetime.

Time.

Time carved and wore down their faces, stretched their skin, stole their lustre. All of this taken by Time. Time who hid it. Hid it where they always looked deepest. Hid it where it would never be lost to love. Time stole all that they were, all their beauty and brilliance, and stored it in the eyes of the other. The eyes. Maps to their own shared and separate pasts. Every thought, dream, and prophecy stared back at them even as they projected new ones into those chasms.

You are my sister.

I am your sister.

You are me.

No, but we are one.

What will happen when I die?

I will come too, the sister said to her sister. Lie down now, dear. Rest. Sleep well and easy. You and I may die, but we will live forever in the dreams we share.

The sister tucked in her sister and shuffled on stiff and bony legs to the window where she watched for signs of the star.

To keep reading, buy a copy.

freelancing plans

My interview with Giannina Braschi went up today at Monkeybicycle. I’ve had a lot of great responses from the people I’ve interviewed, but I think this is my favorite. Giannina Braschi is an amazing writer and her novel United States of Banana is absolutely amazing. I urge you to buy this book today and read it immediately.

Anyrate, the interview is here. Buy her novel here. And her website is here.

In other news, I’m working on becoming a freelance writer. The thought’s been here for a while but I guess I never thought about pursuing it in any real way. That is, until this week. After researching it earlier this week, I began applying on Wednesday and have gotten about five jobs in the last twenty four hours. Most of these are pretty low paying, doing simple things, but this is sort of the beginnings of a foundation. I figure the most important thing is building a reputation, and the only way to do that is to take these smaller jobs that don’t pay so much. Though, even a two that I have taken, which are primarily writing short 500 word articles for different businesses, will gradually increase their pay amount. Sent in my test sample for one of them today, which, if accepted, pays me about six dollars. From there, the pay only increases, which is exciting.

I have a few potential jobs that could begin paying a real and usable amount of money. One is for editing a novel, which, if I get it, will pay me between $200 and $300. If I can get just a few jobs like that a month, I’ll be doing pretty well. My rent plus utilities will be under $500, and with an extra $100 for food, I just need to make about $600 per month to essentially break even. Anything over that is for me and all the enjoyable things I do with my time.

$600 seems like a reasonable starting point, but I plan and hope to make more than that each subsequent month. But, yeah, as my reputation grows and solidifies, I think this will all become much easier and I should be able to get by pretty well.

Anycase, I think I might sort of document this freelancing career. Or potential career.

Wish me luck, dummies.

observations from the statefair 2012

Just returned from opening day of the statefair and remembered this thing I wrote last year that was meant to be published somehwere but, for whatever reason, never did. It’s sort of more bitter and angry than it should be, probably because I was working at the statefair. No, that’s definitely why. I hated working there. I hated being there, working. Anyrate, the statefair really isn’t so bad. It’s loud and hot and obnoxious, but it’s also a pretty good time. But, yeah, I thought it was as good a time as any to post this, even if it’s a year late. Hindsight and distance has made me much more forgiving as well.

So go to the statefair, even if you think you hate it. Because, really, it’s not that bad, and you might even have a great time. Eating deepfried everything with the fatties.

__________________

Almost 2,000,000 in attendance this year, the Minnesota Statefair has been around almost as long as Minnesota’s been an american state. I know most, maybe even all, states have a statefair, but, from what I understand, ours is one of the best. A statement that should probably be qualified in some way that explains how statefairs are never really that cool. But people come from neighboring states to see what all the hullabaloo is about and I suppose I don’t blame them. It’s obnoxiously expensive and full of disgusting people and the best unhealthy food you’ll likely ever see. Everything is deepfried. Deepfried candybars on a stick made of deepfried spaghetti. Deepfried icecream in a deepfried pie covered in deepfried hotfudge. The worst thing in the world but it tastes like a dream you never meant to have. It’s like a zoo that allows you into the monkey pit to throw feces around with the locals.

Everyone has gone, no matter how above it all they may seem. If you’re from Minnesota, you’ve been to the statefair. Probably more than ten times, depending on age. Probably pretty recently, too. And as much as I say I hate the statefair, it seems that future me never remembers until I get to the gates and that horrible feeling of dread drops into my bowels and I know I’ve made another horrible decision.

I worked there this year, which is a first for me. Most people begin working at the fair when they’re in middle school, but I somehow found myself there at the ripe age of twenty four as a rookie. The French Fry stand is where I found myself ten of the twelve days, sitting around playing Pokemon Ruby for the first time, which is a story for another time, because, for once, this isn’t really about me, but about some of the strangest things I noticed there.

** lonelydrunk people ride the midnight bus

And I found myself amongst them. Because of my financial and vehicular insufficiencies, I found myself busing it back and forth. Initially I tried bringing a book for the ride but the first night taught me this was stupid. The bus is full of drunk people. And not the level of drunkenness that make strangers into friends in a charming sort of way. But that obnoxious precipice where their emotions are teetering, blown by a wind they can’t comprehend, landing moment into a nebulous void of anger or sadness or libidinous awkwardness. Luckily for me, I look like I’m sixteen so most people left me alone.

** everyone is drunk–everyone

Honestly. Every single person at the fair is drunk. Whether they be twelve or seventy, whether they be an employee or just a random girl on the giantslide: that person is drunk. Seriously.

** the creeps come out at night

What constitutes rape, legally, was common knowledge at the French Fry stand. Why, I wondered aloud. And it’s because the fair is populated by adolescent girls and extremely drunk adult men. For most of the day, this isn’t such a problem, but at night it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to watch a midlife crisis happen ten feet from you and right in front of the JV volleyball teamer just trying to give the guy a bucket of french fries. There’s a sort of casual misogyny happening at the fair that’s hard to understand, and it’s not just the random creeps who stumble drunkenly towards those flickering neon light. It was even with the guys I worked with, openly discussing how much they want to shove their turgid members into the poor girl standing just five feet from me, wearing the same uniform as both of us.

** everything is loud and expensive and no one recycles

Loud as in hurtsyourears decibels. The price is getting absurd, too. Before you even enter the gates, you’ve already spent twenty dollars. Everything to eat is at least five dollars but probably closer to eight. For a family of four to go there, it’s not really that unreasonable to spend upwards of three or five hundred dollars. Seriously. Eventually, I think, they’ll come to an impasse. People are making less and less money while prices are going higher and higher, so the tipping point must be near where people just say No and stop going. I hope for that day. But, consumerism being what it is, it’ll probably be too far off. No one recycles as in there is trash everywhere and everything is trash because no one can be bothered to hold onto their plastic bottle long enough to find the bin probably within eyesight. I mean, I understand, I suppose. Everyone being so utterly incomprehensibly drunk on expensive light beer usually means that general civility and decency sort of just gets left behind, in soberer hands. Assuming you can find any.

** they should rename it honkeyfest

Minnesota, admittedly, is not the most ethnically diverse state, but you’d think everyone was an ugly fat saxon.

** everyone is fat

Did I mention this yet? I should probably mention it several more times. All the fatties come out to eat their summer diet into oblivion.

** country music

When did everyone start loving country music so much? I feel as if I slept through it. The statefair has a concert every day and most of these were for country music stars, which means I couldn’t name who was performing. But, I suppose, on the plus side, a lot of country fans tend to be attractive ladies. Of course, by the end of the concert, they’re even drunker and sloppier and more obnoxious on the bus, but I don’t think it’s legal to wear a cowboy hat sober so it’s best to overcompensate.

And that, I suppose, is what I learnt from the Minnesota Statefair this year. It’s quite a bit different being on the other end of the experience, working and being there all day and watching the humans trudge around.

I doubt I’ll return.

But probably will. Maybe even next year.

something positive

It’s a pretty shit day, but I thought I’d share a few positive things.

EFF [Electronic Freedom Frontier] won its case against the government, which will lead to the release of the FISA court ruling that says the NSA surveillance is unconstitutional. Read the full thing here.

For over a year, EFF has been fighting the government in federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court’s opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated “the spirit of” federal law.

Also, this great speech by an intern for Teach for america:

Also, this is a pretty depressing but ultimately hopeful look at what the labor movement is and why it matters:

Oh, also, Part XV of (  ) is now up at Manarchy Magazine. Only five more days of this.

Read here.

And, because I can’t help it, just a few very depressing things. I won’t say much about them, just post the links.

Obama DOJ asks Courts to Grant Immunity to the Bush Administration for War Crimes on the same day Bradley Manning was sentenced for exposing those war crimes.

Syria just keeps getting worse.

US military blocks Guardian site for soldiers abroad.

Maybe one day soon I’ll be able to make a purely positive post.

I hope.

For now, keep dreaming. Keep fighting.

bradley manning sentenced to 35 years

Which is tragic. I don’t even really know what to say about it except that it’s actually less than I expected. He’s been accused of espionage, which assumes that there’s someone he’s selling these to, when, in reality, he disclosed them to everyone. Because of this ruling, journalism is a crime. Whistelblowing is treason. Exposing warcrimes is a worse offense than committing warcrimes.

If you’ve been following my facebook, twitter, or even blog posts here, you know that I stand with Bradley Manning. You may have even seen my name in the New York Times alongside Noam Chomsky and others. This is a dark day for america.

The fight begins again today. It extends endlessly.

Livestreaming post-sentencing press conference with David Coombs, Manning’s attorney.

Perhaps he’ll win the Nobel Peace Prize, which he deserves.

I don’t know. This is all quite depressing.

I’m thinking of you, Bradley Manning. Almost always. Hopefully we can get this mess straightened out.

But what’s to be expected when war criminals try the innocent?

Bradley Manning Support Network.

Links to coverage:

Democracy Now! They’ve been covering Bradley Manning for years and it’s probably the best place for information.

Reports here and here.

Outcry here and here and here.

Twitter.

And everything Glenn Greenwald.

And a petition here.

There’s so much more to say. And so many other reports to be read about this. Just google Bradley Manning and you’ll get millions upon millions of hits. Just start reading, if you don’t know already.

–Update 15:08–

David Coombs read Bradley Manning’s statement after being sentenced to 35 years. Here’s the transcript:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Copied from Democracy Now!

Great article about all the things Bradley Manning has done for us.