"Oh yea, mmm, oh harder, give it to me harder. Oh, life's a brick house. Yea, mighty, mighty, just letting it all hang out. Life's a brick house. I like a lady stacked and that's a fact. Ain't holding nothing back. 36-24-36, what a winning hand. Life's the one, the only one built like an Amazon. Life's a brick house." And so the song goes...
I used to like that song. Although the Commodore version did come first, I prefer the Rob Zombie variation. The Zombie is the king at making something cool, even better. Speeding a song up is never a bad thing and as such, his version is off the chain.
When I began writing this post, Brick House was playing in my ear. I know, I got it all wrong, the song is about some "she," but I distinctly heard "Life." Appropriate, Judas Priest's song, Rising From Ruins, is now serenading me, "Lost in Chaos before the storm. Our strength goes on prepared for mortal battle. We're standing as one. We're carrying on, rising from ruins. We're bringing the light out from the night, rising from ruins..."
You'll have to excuse me for tonight's negativity. Generally, I'm into making lots 'N' lots 'N' lots of lemonade from the shitty-ass lemons Life seems to revel in throwing at me. Tonight, I'm not feeling all that positive. I'm playing a list, entitled, Metal Fist, because I feel Life fisting me once again. Yea, one more, not for the road, as Charles Brown might have sung on his album of the same name, but for my posterior, er, posterity. At this point, I'm not sure what the hell I mean. Excuse me while I kiss the sky!
Last week, I found out my last surviving sibling, my sister, who's always stood on first(base, that is) with me and been a favorite of mine, had been diagnosed with two kinds of cancer. Who the fuck gets two kinds of cancer at the same time? My sister, I guess. Par for the course. She's always declared herself lucky and able to beat the odds. She loves to gamble and usually wins something, but can she beat this malfunction? If anyone can, it would be her. This news was equivalent to her getting struck by lightning twice on the same day! Thus the reason last week's post was a tad on the wacky side and according to my wife, the lemons had a sweetness to them.
This week, the docs told my sister, "One of your cancer's at Stage Three." At a festival or restaurant, you might not mind sitting at something called Stage Three. It isn't something you ever want to hear in a doctor's office, or on the phone from your little sister about her medical condition. I'll do my best to keep this post light, but be forewarned, a certain amount of bitterness might just shine on through this week's lemonade.
I always had in the back of my mind the notion I would be the last of my siblings standing. None of them led what one would call healthy lives. A thought is one thing, but when the reality of what that meant finally struck home, it was a completely different thing. Two down, and the last one's at the bottom of the ninth inning with one out to go, clinging onto to her very life with a verve that is admirable. I felt like the rug had been pulled from under me, and I was falling through a dark, endless space. My bearings had been torn from me in one fell swoop, Stage Three Cancer. Fuck me!
Couple that terrible news with a flu bug that shagged my ass, and my week has been far from splendid. My sister is taking the news in stride, giving it the proper perspective it deserves, and bravely crowding the plate to hopefully hit a home run. We'll see. My thoughts, hopes, and dreams are with her. At this point, optimism is all she has, so I'd better lift my heavy heart to do my part by sending her way all the good vibes I can muster. That's the least I can do for her. Hip-hip-hurrah!
Life is a brick house because as a general rule, it's resilient and can't be burned down. No matter how fleeting our lives may be, life marches on long after we've been eaten by the worms. My sister is deathly afraid of that idea and wants nothing to do with it. Even as a child, she didn't cotton much to bugs. She would run screaming through the house at the mere suggestion a spider had crawled onto her.
No, my sister doesn't want to be put into the ground. The thought of bugs crawling over her body causes her to cringe. I told her she wouldn't give a damn, but that didn't give her any assurance on the matter. She wants a viking funeral, to be cremated in a boat on some lake in Vermont. When I told her that probably wouldn't happen because there are laws against it, she simply said, "Fuck the law! My husband knows what I want, and he told me it would be done. End of story!"
From my earliest memories of her, reasoning and rationality have never been driving forces for my sister. I love her to pieces, but those are the facts, Jack. She's always been someone who's worked the facts surrounding her to create her desired reality, and she has never been one to give two shits about the truth of any matter. It makes perfect sense that death wouldn't change her mode of thinking.
This past weekend was a good one, to be sure. Even though I was coming down with the plague, The Gaming Extravaganza was one of the better ones. Everyone and surprisingly, even myself, was firing on all cylinders from beginning to end, forty-eight hours of creative bliss! If every gaming weekend were that cool, I suppose I would have no need to write my stories. Don'y worry, I'm going to continue what I started with DANCES OF DELIVERANCE. Gaming may be a good distraction that energizes me, but it's no replacement for the joy and satisfaction of written expression.
The players noodled through, as one of my friends likes to call it, a series of temporal problems. They did pretty well and most importantly, had a shitload of fun in the process of finding solutions for the puzzles, traps, and problems I put in the way of their characters. I paid for the fun I had over the weekend when the touch of the flu I had at the beginning of the weekend turned into a full-blown bout with the plague this week. As Milton Friedman so aptly wrote, "There is no such thing as a free lunch." At the end of the day, The Piper always needs to be paid his two bits and boy, did I ever pay. It was worth every hack and cold chill!
Having wandered long enough through the slipstream I call a mind, I come to a close for now. Embrace the brick house and her bodacious ta-tas. Until we meet again, grab a fat-bottomed gal, give her a twirl, and have some place to go, wherever that may be!
Let it rock. Let it roll. I write all night. I let it get out of control. Rock out. Bang your head. Wango Tango!
As you might have guessed, Ted Nugent is the star of this night's lineup. A smattering of other great artists have been elevating my creativity as well. Who wouldn't be inspired by the tunes of Zappa, The Dropkick Murphys, Dylan, ZZ Top, John Denver, Rob Zombie, and Iced Earth? Maybe my musical taste isn't for everyone, but it sure does work for me!
You'll have to excuse my absence. My next story, TWIN COMMISSIONS, has kept me busy these last few weeks. It will be novel length and should hit Amazon in June. It won't be long until I send it to my editors. Then it will be back to finishing the second book of THE SHADE'S TALE trilogy. So much to get out of my head and into my computer, and so little time to get it done. There is no rest for the wicked, not this man in black anyway.
In between marketing the stories I've released into the wilds of Amazon and completing my future releases, I've been working on scenarios for the upcoming Gaming Extravaganza with my role-playing buds who have been imagining monsters and adventures with me for some thirty-odd years. The last weekend blowout happened in October.
Hard to believe another weekend of creative bliss is only days away. Five months seems like an eternity, until the next one is less than three days away. Somehow, the scenarios will get written, the food will be bought, and lots of role-playing will be had by all. These miracles occur at my house five times a year. The theme for this upcoming weekend is: Behind The Times. I don't know how it will turn out, but that's half the fun. Predictability isn't something I yearn for regarding gaming. Hopefully, it will be a hoot. No, let's get the positive vibes going right out of the box. The Gaming Extravaganza will be cool beyond my wildest expectations with Awesome Sauce on top!
As the smoke I exhale swirls around my smoking lounge, the temperature gauge tells me its below freezing once again. Good for the Maple Growers because their liquid gold will be flowing to beat the band once it warms up later today. Gotta love the stuff in all its forms; syrup, cream, and crystals. I used to say bacon made everything better. Now, as a vegan(I know, sounds disgusting), I live by the mantra that maple products make everything better. You can never have too much sugar, especially of the maple variety.
It has been almost two years since I went vegan to help manage my diabetes. Before embarking on this meatless journey, fruits and vegetables at best were distasteful garnishment. If it wasn't meat, I considered it to be my enemy, and avoided it at all costs. Now the stars on my plate are what I never wanted to find there. If you had told me at any time before I was forced into a veggie existence I would one day be a vegan, I would have said you were batshit crazy. Now look at me. I have been vegan for so long, I can't remember the taste of what I so loved. Thank The Heavens condiments make palatable what I previously referred to as compost, and what a glorious condiment maple has become for me.
This past weekend my wife, daughter, and I made our annual trek to the local sugar shack. As strange as it may seem, in my part of the country, maple syrup is boiled down in tiny shacks I call sugar shacks. It takes gallons and gallons of the tree sap to make just one gallon of the glorious condiment. We bought our fair share of that liquid gold. Lots and lots of compost will be able to be made eatable over the coming year. This is the stuff of which a vegan's dreams are made!
When I first jumped down the vegan rabbit hole, every fiber of my being rebelled. Even my dreams were bizarre. I swear my body fought tooth and nail to prevent me from taking this leg of the journey, to get me to bite into meat, and any flesh would do. Previously to jumping into this meatless hole, I was a carnivore to the bone.
For the first couple of months, just about every other thought involved meat. Boys going through puberty don't think about sex as much as I thought about succulent, piles of meat. It seemed I could get no relief from those thoughts of thick, juicy steaks and mouth-watering lengths of sausage because those themes controlled my dreams as well. One type of dream was prominent. It was so bizarre and still causes me to laugh when I think about it.
No matter the dream, I always ended up walking down Main Street. As I ambled past the storefronts, an old lady walking her rat dog would approach me. You know, one of those dogs barely larger than a cat. The closer the dog and its elderly mistress came to me, the more I salivated and twitched like a maniac. Eventually, I could no longer control myself. At that point, I would drop my cane and charge the pair like one of them fast-moving zombies, lightning quick. Then I grabbed the furry critter and would bite into the poor thing like a man deprived. The elderly lady would scream, and I would wake up laughing like an idiot.
I know, pretty disturbing, but funny to think about. Like I said, every fiber of my being wanted nothing to do with this vegan nonsense. I've finally accepted my lot, have made the best of it, and my diabetes is under control for the most part. I suppose the piles of condiments I slather on the compost I eat doesn't make it any easier to control my diabetes but hey, nothing's perfect. I know this sounds a lot like making barrels of lemonade because life has handed me a shit-ton of lemons. Such is life as I've come to know it.
On that note, dawn has arrived, and I'm off to my other tasks that beg for my attention. Until next time, keep it dark, and never forget a little wango tango goes a long way to keeping the normalcy of life at bay!
Loitering or hanging around where one is unwanted is my point of departure for this post. As my crazy, flipper fingers go clickety-clack across my keyboard, I wonder whether the thoughts careening through my mind are vagrants or not. Can ideas be accused of loitering and be punished for vagrancy? If so, what would be the appropriate punishment for these transgressions?
It snowed yesterday. Winter seems to be hanging on against the wishes of all those who want Spring to arrive. Mister Groundhog insisted it didn't see its shadow, so an early Spring is supposed to be in the cards. Looking out the windows of my smoking lounge, you could've fooled me. Winter seems to be digging in for the foreseeable future. Personally, winter is my favorite time of year and because the cold numbs my relentless pain, I consider it to be an ally of mine, not an enemy.
My daughter has a theory. She feels the furry critter just didn't want to be murdered, so it lied about not seeing its shadow. If she is correct, and my daughter does have a Doctor Doolittle type of relationship with The Animal Kingdom, Mister Groundhog is more afraid of its human handlers than its own shadow.
Loathing is another piece of this post. Most people detest the idea of Winter lingering on and on. They just want Spring to march onto the scene with the usual pomp and circumstance such an arrival entails. They've had enough of snow and cold and desire the pageantry of warmth and blossoming life. Simply put, bleak is out and green is the new white. The new snow on the ground tells a wholly different story.
The snow that descended upon us yesterday reminded us that what we want is irrelevant to what Mother Nature has in store for us. We can try to hurry Spring along all we want by setting our clocks ahead and all but putting a gun to Mister Groundhog's head to force the little guy not to see his shadow, but the seasons move at their own pace. If my daughter's theory is correct, the groundhog is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, the furry weatherman doesn't want to infuriate its human handlers, but nevertheless has to answer to its true mistress, Mother Nature. Not an enviable position within which any rational being would wish to be trapped!
Changing seasons is part of the deal and happens each year at its own pace. It should be so familiar to us. Then why all the fuss each year?
Life would so boring without change. Humans talk themselves into thinking they want a sameness or homogeneity, but that isn't the case. It just can't be. If it was so, it wouldn't be good for us. Mother Nature is much wiser than we give her credit for being. She has a way of mixing things up to prevent us from becoming complacent and thus, less interesting. Let's give her a well-deserved, big, round of applause!
Getting to the third component of the title of this post, Familiar Town, for you see there is a method to the madness I use for labeling these posts, my next story, Twin Commissions, is nearing completion. I've been living with this story in my head for so damn long, it seems weird to be on the cusp of releasing it to my editors for judgment and alteration through the editing process. You see, change isn't so easy for me either, and I don't relish modifications of my version of Familiar Town any more than anyone else beckons for their variants of that notion. My editors serve the same function for me as Mother Nature does for all of us. They keep me from falling prey to complacency and staying within the confines of Familiar Town.
On one hand, I want my babies, my books, to be as perfect as is feasibly possible. On the other hand, something inside of me reels at the thought of anyone tampering with my works of art. I suppose every artist struggles with this push and pull, so intrinsic to the creation process.
Like our children, we want our works to be accepted for what they are. Like people, art needs to be loved and honed. It takes time to do that and make it seem effortless. Of course, every artist knows fully well the creation process is anything but effortless. To maximize the pleasure of the audience, this illusion must be maintained. There is nothing worse than being subjected to a forced work of art. It takes integrity and a bit of pride swallowing to keep this in mind and give it the attention it deserves.
This latest story of mine has been with me through three changes of seasons. I've seen the work mature, and probably have matured as a writer along with it. With every story I write, I get that much better at my art form. At least, that's what I think is occurring, but my readers would be the best judge of that proposition.
Well, other tasks are chafing at the bit. I'd like to talk some more with all of you, but I think I've come to a logical stopping point. Until next time, expect the unexpected from the fantasy with which you surround yourselves, and don't be afraid to leave Familiar Town on a regular basis. You just might rekindle the wonder within yourselves that brought you to fantasy in the first place!