I’ve earned through hope and faith

“I don’t want to wake up,” she says softly, sleepily. Her hair smells like sandalwood, soft and scratchy, places I’ve never been. Her hand takes mine and pulls my arm tight around her, in spite of the growing morning heat.

I don’t want to let this moment go, I think, wide awake, drinking in every last detail of the moment.

On Memory White Sleigh

I love the thought of cold weather: snow drifting through the air lazily or blowing sideways, drawing curtains across the night sky; blankets of soft white covering everything in sight; conversations visible in frozen breathmist as much as audible.  Past that, there is no ideal.  Big city lights reflected off of ice-covered streets, or a barren countryside night turned to day with the heightened full-moon; either is enough of a heaven to me.

This is one attraction of a certain kind of music to me.  Acoustic guitars, pianos drenched in reverb, a lone cello playing contrapuntal lines, dark and swelling pads playing minor key melodies in a slow and spacious environment create these images in my head as clearly as the words of the best writer.  For a late night city, there’s Lullaby by Blackfield, off of their first album, or Lilium Creuntus (Deus Nova) from Pain of Salvation’s Be. Seven Seconds by Echobrain (2004’s Glean) suggests sunset in early December, a farmland with the first dusting of the season. Heart Attack in a Lay-By from In Absentia reminds me so strongly of Christmas-time on a city street, stuck in traffic that moves like a child’s countdown to that magical morning.  Porcupine Tree has a million of them, actually: Oceans Have No Memory and In Formaldehyde from Recordings, and (maybe the best example of all — imagine a trainride through a lonely Russian countryside in the dead of January, midnight) Lazurus from Deadwing. Even Strapping Young Lad check in with Plyophony off of their upcoming The New Black.

Winter’s been on my mind a lot lately. One, the obvious, is that it’s summer in Alabama, with triple-digit temperatures being seen already, humidity that makes ocean dwellers happy.  My apartment, the upstairs part of a duplex, ovenlike.  Codename: Auschwitz (a bad joke to make when you have a shaved head and angular features and a cat named Adolf like I have, but when has that ever stopped me?).

But the other, the more important, is that life inside of my head feels cold.  Again, like last night, not as morbid as it sounds.  Cold is the state that slows down the physical forces in the world, turning gasses to liquids to solids.  The slower things move, the easier they are to grab, to hold on to, to put into their respective places.  Putting ice into a glass is infinitely easier than water.

Things feel like they are falling into place in my head, making more sense, giving me a moment of respite.

Winter is also when my heart feels the warmest, speaking nauseatingly metaphorically.  And if I look at things externally, purely on the surface, I see ahead of me another situation that I would be foolish to believe could ever stand a chance.  But this, then, is the cynical optimist: I expect the worst, but always, always, hold out hope for the best.

And even if it all falls through, yet again; whether I have finally found what I have looked for for so long, whether it’s an attainable (or is that obtainable?) treasure or another bomb to blow up in my face…

There’s still plenty of music to bring the cold weather to me.

I was a puzzle in your sick life but will never be a piece anymore

Not nearly as morbid right now as the title would suggest, but it seems an appropriate lyric to steal right now.

I’m stuck with an image in my head: people spend their lives, concentrating and focusing on a subject, drawing straight lines and connections, building a fairly complete but miniscule section of an incomprehensibly large puzzle.  They know exactly what they’re looking at when they are done, but have no clue what the larger image is; nothing even approaching understanding of the big picture.  And then those who build incomplete sections, scattered across the board but perhaps in place, leaving this world with sketchy images (at best) but a fairly good guess at what the finished product would look like.

Who is better off: the jack of all trades, or the master of one?  The man who is set in his opinions and beliefs and “knowledge” of what the world is and isn’t, or the man who is open to new and changing ideas? Which would you rather have: a complete small section of the puzzle, or a sketch of the final image?

Parables are cool. My apartment is not.

Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.  Give a man an air-conditioning unit — and a building that isn’t wired like the inside of Ted Bundy’s head, so that cooling the oven that doubles as his apartment is possible without blowing the 20 amp fuse that helps power everything in the 2 bedroom duplex except for the refrigerator — and he doesn’t get so hot that he immediately regurgitates that tasty little seafood dish he prepared with your gift.

I would call myself Jesus’ editor, except that all of us writers know that editors are the devil’s tools.

Neither Nazi nor sick, thank you

I’m thinking today a lot about people, about the millions of types of people in the world, about how many of those types I can’t stand.  All of them, actually, if you want to start grouping people together.  As a general rule, in fact, I hate all people by virtue of their inclusion in a given group.  Myself included — probably, actually, moreso than anyone.

My friends, acquiantances, and people that I can talk to for more than five seconds without beginning to imagine new and unfilmed ways of piercing flesh with roast tongs encrusted in yesterday’s gravy — those people are most unrepresentative of their groups.

This is what makes it impossible for me to describe people that I like.  It keeps me from having a “type” of desired woman.  It means, too, that I can’t tell you what I’m looking for in a woman, outside of “I want a best friend that I’m attracted to and have chemistry with.”  Well, and a woman who doesn’t give me shit when I end a sentence with a preposition.

There are no rules, only expectations.

Packin’ Strength

There’s an excellent interview with Warren Ellis at Newsarama (kudos, by the way, to Chris Arrant for conducting a really refreshingly non-fanboy conversation). If you skip down about halfway through, you’ll see Ellis talking about things that, in my twenty-five plus years of comic reading, never heard a writer discuss: specifically, the really in-depth minutiae of the craft. The fascinating read of this article isn’t about plot, plot-spoilers, the muse, or anything like that, but how Warren approaches each story with the artist in mind — it’s like a writer tailoring his script to take full advantage of the actors, the director, the cinematographer, etc.

Perhaps this is obvious to everyone else. Me, I’ve always approached writing from the standpoint of the story, the words, the characterization. Even now that my primary medium is screenplays, the only difference is that I plan on the actors giving their own take on things and potentially changing a line or rearranging the words to feel more natural. If I were to write a comic — well, I’m not certain that I would do much differently, outside of trusting that the artist would have a good eye for the cinematography that I suggested (and didn’t).

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than to say that I think that this is why Ellis is one of my favorite writers (regardless of medium). I wouldn’t say that he is flawless, or even one of the best ever (though I think the whole “best writer” thing is bullshit opinion — sure, there is a distinction between good and bad writers [and I’m talking on the extreme ends of the spectrum], but provoking me with ‘Dickens is “good” and King is “bad”‘ leads to a moot argument that I’m not willing to have. Because Dickens is good for insomnia, and that’s about it.), but I’ve always found him instinctively one of my favorites, even when writing things that wouldn’t normally appeal to me (Transmetropolitan, for instance, only really grabbed me because of Ellis’ voice).

I read somewhere recently that there’s one of those rebellious, outsider-type artists — I’m going to guess that it was Johnny Depp — who was spoken of by some director as being brave for continually challenging himself rather than taking the easy path for paychecks. Maybe it was Keanu, actually…

Being an artist — in any medium — means finding your voice. You can be a craftsman, sure, and adopt a voice, or find a path that doesn’t require a voice. There’s nothing wrong with that, I’ll posit, because at least then you’re getting to do what you love (in theory) for a living… and that’s a helluva lot better than doing something that you hate, or that bores you to tears, or that goes against your ethics. But being an artist, one that will be remembered with more than passing nostalgia, one that will earn the respect of peers and audiences, requires finding a voice. Perhaps that voice is best for singing other people’s material, or making popcorn movies; or it may be so odd and unique that it only is ever appreciated by a handful of people. It doesn’t matter, though, because finding that voice is one pinnacle of the creative person’s journey.

Once you’ve found that voice, then you can spend your time studying your medium, perfecting your craft. I don’t think that you necessarily have to do one before the other — god, I hope not, as I’m still trying to coax my voice to the surface in any number of areas — but I would guess that those who are fortunate enough to find their voices early have a much more natural affinity for the craft than those of us that don’t.

It’s not about financial success. That would be nice. I’ll never argue that, but the voice doesn’t guarantee success. If you’re lucky, your voice and the public go together hand in hand. If you’re most artists, you’re gonna get a Rusty Nail, and I’ll tell you as a bartender and drinker that those that prefer (or can even stomach) the Rusty Nail are few and far between. If you want success, go for it — adopt the voice that sits comfotably and easily with the public. And if your true voice sits well with the public, be grateful and realize how lucky you are.

Either way, never stop pushing. That’s the point of all this, I think.

Or maybe that I’m ready for a vacation.

If you call me sentimental, I’ll punch you in the throat. Twice.

Most days, 6-year-old Aubrey Matthews spends her energy fighting a brain tumor growing behind her eyes. But the first-grader managed to foil crimes and chase an arch-nemesis through Boise on Friday, serving the city as the superhero “Star” with assistance from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho, The Idaho Statesman reported.

[more: Idaho girl becomes superhero for a day]

Self-fulfilling prophecies and other words without pictures

Tired. I refuse to give in to the truth that there’s only so far you can push the human body and mind, in the face of overwhelming evidence otherwise.  Because maybe it’s not true, but just a myth perpetuated by housewives and mothers and girlfriends who want you around more.

Because good deeds still need to be done, philosophies need to be spread like wildfires, and real truths need to be unearthed.

Oh, and there’s lots of fun to be had, too.  I don’t have to have it all, no.  Just like Garth doesn’t have to have all the Legos.  But I want as much as I can get.

Fun and truth, that is.