27 June 2013

Consistency

I wrote a story a while back about a salesman who tricked the world into never letting anything grow old.  It was a little abstract, so I'm going to explain it.

My friend Laura once went to an art museum with modern paintings. If you've ever been to a modern art museum, you probably saw a painting or two that you were sure was made by your two-year-old brother.  Anyway, she found this one that was literally a white sheet of paper with a straight line drawn across it. She asked the guide, "hey, what's the point of this one?"

And this is what he said. This is really what he said.

"There is no point."

She asked, "then what is it doing here?"

"Because it's art. The artist conceived the idea in his head and took the time to create something beautiful. We'll never know what his original intentions were, we simply enjoy the art he created."

Someone took the time to draw a line across a sheet of paper. I took the time to go to the bathroom this morning. Does anyone want to frame that on the wall?

I took a Critical Reading class last winter at Bellevue College,  where we read articles and books by a woman who called herself a "science fiction" writer but was really a political activist with a weird imagination.  I won't go into all of her rants on black woman's rights written under the guise of space travel, but there was this one book that went along the lines of giant insects living on the moon that mate with human males so they get pregnant with half-insect children.

I couldn't help but bring the question up in the group discussion. "Does anyone else thing this is seriously gross?"

The question was flung back in my face. "It's creative!" one of the girls said.
"Yeah," said someone else, "have you ever thought of a story like that before?"

I wondered whether I there was a good reason why I had never thought of that story before.

Don't get me wrong, the girl who said that was actually a pretty cool person and was generally fun to be around. But I think what she said represented the mindset of the culture, and it's against this mindset that I make my accusation.

The point is, the modern mindset is that it doesn't matter what you do as long as it's "never been done before". It's stupid. We're is obsessed with it. It doesn't even matter if the colors don't go together, or if the music has no theme or rhythm, or if the pants cut off all the circulation in your lower extremities. None of that matters anymore. I blame it on the salesman, but it's really just because the 21st century is as bored as heck.

It's a vicious circle that can only exponentially increase: the more replace something, the faster you get tired of it, the faster you get tired of it, the sooner you crave something new.

Come on, doesn't the world get that the human soul doesn't crave senselessness but consistency? Isn't that what makes life bearable? No matter where you go, you're going to hear someone tell you that you are unique, you're an individual, and there is no one in the world just like you. Why do we make such a big deal about how every fingerprint is different, and somehow manage to forget that we all, nonetheless, have fingerprints?

An amateur writer will exhaust the thesaurus trying to find new words to say a very simple idea. But a good writer knows that a repeated word doesn't suggest unoriginality, it suggests a theme.  It implies that something is important and needs to be paid attention to. The same way a skilled musician looks for the superhuman note, and a good musician looks for a human chord.

Consistency is even used as a culinary term. It means holding together and retaining its' shape, as in, "when the dough has enough consistency, it's ready for baking."

It's also part of the scientific method. If a certain experiment consistently matches your hypothesis, then it becomes a scientific theory. If it continues to be consistent based off of generations of data, then it becomes a scientific law.

History repeats itself. A nation grows, the government grows corrupt, the people rebel, they break off and start a new nation, that nation grows, and then that government grows corrupt. And so we have the story of the Roman Empire all the way to today.

How do we gain trust? Consistency. How do we maintain a relationship? Consistency. How do we tell the day from night, the summer from fall, or the winter from the spring? Consistency.

Are you catching the consistency here? Aren't you glad that life repeats itself? What would we do if it didn't?  In a world bursting at the seams with diversity, isn't it refreshing to find something common?

Don't be afraid of old things. Let the vines of time grow free--let them twist and tangle in accordance with the oldest laws of the universe--in rhythm with the dance of reality...trust me, it will surprise you every time.
-The Minstrel Boy

23 June 2013

It certainly wasn't advice I intended to follow...

A little story I've been working on...don't expect more any time soon though. ;)

Prologue

It was my sophomore year when she entered the scene.  She had the quietest presence of anyone on campus, and that’s probably why she created such a buzz.  But when she spoke, it was enough to make you laugh.

“She sounds like a twelve-year-old.”
“She talks like Queen Elizabeth.”

Usually it takes years to earn a nickname at Halle--you’re lucky if you get one at all, even luckier if you get a kind one--but for Leah it only took a week. And that’s exactly what they named her: Queen Elizabeth, the royal genius. And rightly so.

“Is there anyone who still uses ‘inasmuch’ and ‘hereafter’ and ‘verily’?” I would hear the gossipers say, giggling obnoxiously within an indiscriminate radius of her. That last one was a hoot for the gang. They started using “verily” as a kind of slang.  She was interesting, and interesting meant likable at Halle. She had the sort of character that naturally attracted friends, but she denied herself them, that martyr. The way she briskly walked through the hallways with her head bent down and books clutched tightly to her chest, the way she never wore makeup and never let her hair down, clearly implied that she was here to learn and get out. Nobody would have guessed she had run away from France at seventeen under the false identity of Leah Parker.

You never realized how pale her face was until you saw her standing next to someone else, which was a rare sight. That’s how I picked her out when I saw her for the first time in the cafeteria. My, how she stood out--her face looked puny when framed in that enormous bouquet of dark brown hair piled and pinned up behind her.

Hey buddy!
“Hm?”
“If you wanna check out girls, I’d love to eat that for you.”
“Check out who?”

And that’s exactly what I was intending to do at the moment, until Scottie poked his annoying face in front of me and forced me to pay attention. Scottie got his name because he had some distant relation to something Scottish, but there was no trace of anything Scottish in him whatsoever, and nobody cared how it got started or what his real name was.  He didn't even write a last name on his papers, just “Scottie”. The professors didn't have a problem with it, because everyone loved Scottie.  I found him so irritating that he was on my list for reasons to transfer (it was a long list too, for the record). How did he manage to keep that grin on all the time?  Did he do face pull-ups or something? Maybe he got the inside of his cheeks pierced and stuck a safety-pin in it, maybe he got in a car accident and his jawline never healed,  maybe he was plastic humanoid alien spy from outer space, maybe...

“Come on, bud, just point her out to me. It’s the tall one with the blonde hair, isn’t it?”
“What?” I tried to direct my eyes in the general direction he was pointing to. “Uh, yeah, that one.”

Scottie proceeded to tell me that her name was Valory and that she was his lab partner, you know that? He then started telling me this story about he dropped acid on her leg and burned a hole in her pants, and then how they both like the Vietnamese restaurant downtown, blah blah blah, and then moved on to going to her soccer game, blah blah blah, and then she said, blah blah blah, you know that?

 “No, I didn’t know that,” I said. The bouquet-hair girl had left the line now, with the most pathetic plateful of salad I’d ever seen. You could eat that in two mouthfuls. No wonder she’s so pale.
“Hey buddy, you still there?” Scottie had already taken up to eating my lunch. “You know, Ross, sometimes you’re so out of it I think you’re an alien spy from outer space.”

I looked at him vaguely. “Takes one to know one.”

Scottie laughed loudly, although I’m not sure he got it. “You’re a real character, Ross, you know that?”

But I didn’t answer, because right then the bouquet-hair girl sat down at our table. I normally wasn’t this bold, but right then I was looking for any means of escape, so I spoke. I spoke the Queen Elizabeth.

“That’s a pretty small lunch.”

The Queen answered not. She had her head bowed down over her plate, hands folded, eyes closed. There was a long silence, a kind of silence I wasn’t used to. Scottie wasn’t used to either, nor was he used to someone changing the subject while he was talking. He turned to his left to see who I had addressed.

“Aw yeah girl, is that all they eat from where you come from? You could fit that whole thing in a teacup. Where are you from, anyway?”

I wanted to slap my forehead. Even Scottie should have been able to see that this wasn’t the time to talk to her! But she was finished now. She looked up and serenely observed the two of us staring.

“I beg your pardon?” She said.

There it was—that voice everyone was talking about. She had spoken barely louder than a whisper, but that gentle, childlike sound was so different from anything else you heard in the general cafeteria buzz that every word cut through the air like a drop of ice water in the desert. It was a spell I didn’t dare break, but someone else did.

“I said you could fit that whole thing in a teacup,” Scottie replied eagerly, not wanting a pretty girl to miss his profoundly clever comparison, especially since he made it up himself, on the spot.

The girl assessed the situation quickly, looking down at her plate and back to Scottie, then said:
“In more inviting circumstances my appetite would go unchecked; however, in regards to the seemingly primitive qualities of your culinary arts, it is prudent to warrant careful deliberation in terms of quantity and selection, inasmuch as I might stave off parasitical infection or unnecessary acute attacks of indigestion.”

When people encounter something they don’t understand, their natural reaction is to laugh it off.  The urge was welling up in both of us, but I sensed that the girl was completely serious when she said this, so I grabbed a can of Pepsi and started chugging it casually. Scottie was less experienced in the art of disguising laughter, letting out a loud choke-snort and displaying his confused grin at her.
She knew we were laughing, and spoke thus:

“I am well aware that such duration and unmediated exposure has served to dull the sensitivity of native stomachs, and for this I do not hold you accountable. However I fail to see how this merits mirth, and the noises you are producing have a disquieting effect on my ears, therefore I humbly entreat you to cease these noises, for they are not at all befitting to a gentleman.”

“Huh? No, it’s not that.” I said.

It was the truth, but I didn’t want to say any more. She kept on staring at me, so I kept on chugging my Pepsi. Since I had just explained to her that what we were laughing at was “not that”, I suppose she thought that she was entitled to the whole truth, and was waiting for it.  People feel bad about not telling the truth, so if you can equivocate it by explaining what the truth isn’t, somehow you think you’re justified.  Nobody told Leah about this particular trait of human nature, so she didn’t say “Oh, Haha!” and shut up.

She was supposed to be the butt end of the joke, but she had just made capital of us, and I was still trying to find out how. Most people would have given in at this point and started uncomfortably laughing at the unspoken joke that was themselves. But Leah, as I was going to find out later, would only laugh at something if she thought it was funny.  This would often have the effect of inverting the scale of discomfort to the inflictor in place of the victim. Kind of like how Joan of Arc burned at the stake with a smile on her face, thus owning up the whole Church and making them look lame.

It was entrancing to watch her eat, forking up neatly organized shreds of salad and popping them in her mouth, chewing each bite twenty-eight times and completing the transaction with a graceful swallow. All other attempts at conversation fell flat, and I ended up chatting with Scottie about classes, something I never do if I can help it. Somewhere in the middle of it, Leah picked up her empty tray and tried to make an inconspicuous exit. She was leaving way too soon.

“Hey, nice to meet you,” I choked out desperately.
She nodded. Then to my surprise, she smiled.
“What’s your name?”
“Leah.”
“Nice name,” interjected Scottie, which is what he said to everybody. But she was already gone.
Scottie grinned at me. “God, those Frenchies. Gotta stay away from them.”

“Yeah. You should definitely stay away from her.” It may have been a warning, or a challenge. But it certainly wasn’t advice I intended to follow.


20 June 2013

Ai-yah-dah!

Before you ask, no, "ai-yah-dah" does not mean anything, in any known language.





Stuck, stuck, in this room
Why is it raining in the middle of June?
Allergies, DVDs,
I’ve already watched all of these

Noah didn’t sneeze when the floods came in
A drizzle never stopped Napoleon
Oh, oh, I don’t know
How bad can it be?
Open up that window

Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah x2

Bippitybopbadobadoodoo
Dippitybobaboobadoodoo
Bippitybopbada blblblh! blblblh!
Doopitybobada CAW! CAW! 

Run, scream, better than a dream
Splashing our heads in the ice-cold stream
Rocks in your heels, I know how it feels
It’s worth a little pain to get a little real

Blue, blue, me and you
Shooting through the clouds till we burst right through
Sky, sky, you and I
Singing to the angels, let the cries rise high

Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah x2
Bippitybopbadobadoodoo....


Kick of your shoes, take a little snooze
Gaze at the stars, hear the heavenly muse
Wonder, and wonder, feel the rumbles down under
As the Earth spins around and the waterfalls thunder

Hand, hand, hold on tight
Shiver in the cold and the bite of the night
Fight, fight, with all your might
For your friends and your God and the glory of the Light!

Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah
Ai-yah-dah x2
Bippitybopbadobadoodoo...


Blue, blue, me and you
Shooting through the clouds till we burst right through
Sky, sky, you and I

Singing to the angels, let the cries rise high



18 June 2013

The Sky is Falling



 This skit was inspired by a song written by my two dear friends, the Gridlock Rogues. The skit, ahem, is somewhat akin to those lousy book-to-movie adaptions where you're like "dude, what were they thinking when they read the book!!" So bear with me, the original song is much better.



London, 1940


Mother runs her finger through the bookshelf.
Mum: Alright Charlie, which story do you want tonight?
Charlie: This one.
He reaches under his pillow and pulls a big storybook out. He jumps out of bed and lifts it up to Mother eagerly. Mother laughs.
Mum: Oh Charlie, this one again?
Charlie: Please Mummy? I promise I’ll go right to sleep.
Mum: [teasingly] Really?
Charlie: Read it again, please?

Mother sits down and opens the book.
 
Mum: Long, long ago in the kingdom of Riverside, there was a great king named Gallamir. He was wealthy, powerful, and good, and the people of Riverside loved him like a father. But his brother, Lord Regis, was very jealous. He wanted the throne for his own.  So he took a very long rope and walked to the edge of the kingdom. He tied a great hook to one end and threw it up into the air. Higher and higher it flew, until it caught on the edge of the sky. Lord Regis began to pull. He was going to pull the sky down onto Riverside, and destroy it forever. 
The people of Riverside began to notice that the days were getting hotter. The rivers began to dry up and the people began to run out of water. They came to King Gallamir for help. But the King knew what his brother was doing, and said: “People of Riverside! This dry spell is of little consequence, for there are much more dire perils at stake, and we must rally all courageous hearts to…

Suddenly, her daughter, Abbey, bursts into the room wearing oven mittens.
Abbey: IT’S STARTED!
Mum: What has?
Abbey: I KNEW THIS DAY WOULD COME! I KNEW IT WOULD!
Mum: Dear, just add some butter, it’ll be fine…
Abbey: No, no, this isn’t about the muffins, Mum! I can fix them just fine on my own, even if the oven still worked, but there are much more dire…
Mum: Still worked?
Abbey: …perils at stake…
Mum: Still worked?
Abbey: …and we must rally all courageous hearts…
Mum: Still worked?
Abbey: Still worked what?
Mother rubs her forehead.
Mum: Yes, dear, I’m afraid you’re right. There are much more dire perils at stake.
Abbey: Mum…!
Mum: Hush. [Pause] Now.  I want you to explain to me slowly and calmly what you mean by “if we still had the oven”.
Abbey: No Mum, I’m serious. Just look out the window.
Mum: Honey…
Abbey: Mum, just look!

Suddenly Mother becomes aware of a low thundering noise. It is an approaching squadron of German planes.
Charlie: Mummy, what’s that noise?
Abbey: I told you it’s started!
Mother stands up and advances forward on the stage, peering out the imaginary window. Her face turns to horror.
Mum: Abbey, get into the basement, and take Charlie with you.
Abbey: But Mum, it’s happening! It’s real! Just like in the storybook!
Mum: Abbey, I want you and Charlie to get into the basement now.

Abbey obeys, taking Charlie by the hand. Mother runs to the telephone and makes a call. She waits anxiously for a long time as she fiddles with her ring. A descending whistle wails from outside followed by a flash and a boom. Mother lets out a scream and hangs up. She runs downstairs into the basement with Abbey and Charlie. There is a small ragged bed, and they sit on it together. Charlie is crying, still tightly clutching the storybook. Mother comforts him.
Mum: Shh, shh…
Abbey: Mummy, don’t you remember the story? You were just reading it to Charlie. Come on! Hurry! If we can…
Mum: You are not going outside Abbey, do you understand me?
The harshness in Mother’s voice shocks Abbey, and she is silent for a moment.
Abbey: [whispering] Mummy, Daddy is still out.

Mother sighs.
Abbey: Did he bring a bucket?

Silence.
Abbey: Do you think he can catch the stars for us? Will they be too big?

Mother fiddles with her ring again and draws Abbey and Charlie closer.
Mum: I’m afraid they are much too big, dear.
Abbey: Mummy, are the stars dangerous?
Mum: The stars are very dangerous, Abbey. They’re bright and hot and they explode when they hit the ground.  If you’re too close, they… [hesitates] they kill you.
Charlie: They won’t hurt Daddy though, will they?
Abbey: Of course they won’t. Daddy will blow his horn and send all the stars home, like King Gallamir did.
Charlie: Like King Gallamir?

More booms.
Mum: Like King Gallamir.

Charlie holds the storybook up.
Charlie: Can you finish the story Mummy?

Mother takes it and opens it up.
Mum: The next day, everyone in the kingdom came running to King Gallamir. “Our houses are gone, and the whole city is destroyed!” they told him.  “Please, king, what will you do to save us?” The king thought, then said—[turns page]—“I know what we will do.  Let us gather what is left the broken star fragments and use them to rebuild the kingdom!” And that’s exactly what they did. For weeks and weeks and weeks, the people rebuilt the kingdom of Riverside from pieces of shattered stars. It was very hard work. The broken stars were very sharp, and sometimes the men would get their clothes torn on them.  Their wives sewed patches for them…

We hear frightening crashes again and the children scream.
Abbey: What if a star lands on the basement, Mum?

Mother thinks, and then closes the book.
Mum: Well then, we’ll need something much bigger than a bucket.
Abbey: Like what?
Mum: Like… [Looking around] like this.

She jumps up from the bed and rips off the bed sheet.
Mum: There. Do suppose this is big enough?
Abbey: But how big are they?
Mum: About this size.
Abbey: It’s perfect then!
Mum: Good.
Abbey: But the star might be hot.
Mum: Put your oven mittens back on.
Abbey: Oh. [Takes them out from her pocket] Really?
Mum: Quite positive.
Abbey starts puts them on.
Mum: Now then, Charlie is the duke. Daddy is King Gallamir. You’re the Princess of Riverside.
Abbey: Who are you?
Mum: Me?
Mother swings the bed sheet around herself magnificently and wears it like a robe.
Mum: The Queen, of course.
She twirls around and the bed sheet flies around the children as they laugh.
Abbey: I’m sorry, Mum, about the oven…
Mum: It’s nothing, dear, don’t think about it.
Abbey: But it was making strange noises…
Mum: I said not to worry about it, Abbey.
Abbey: But Mum, it really was making strange noises. Clock noises. I thought it might be broken, so I didn’t use it.
Mum: What did you say?
Abbey: I said I thought it was broken, so I…
Mum: No, you said noises. What sort of noises?
Abbey: Clock noises. You know, tick, tick, tick, tick…
Mother turns around and sprints out of the basement with the bed sheet wrapped around her. 
Abbey: Mother! What’s happening? What is it?
Mother stops, and looks at her children desperately. She runs back to them and kneels down.
Mum: Whatever you do children, remember this. One good thing can put out a million bad things, even if they’re falling from the sky.
She turns around and runs out. Suddenly, there is a crash louder than any other, and the children crouch together covering their ears.
Charlie: What’s going on! What’s going on, Abbey?
Abbey: It’s a star, Charlie! Mummy caught a star!




The sky is falling but don’t fret yourself
Let’s grab the bed-sheets and buckets and we’ll
Catch the stars as they come down
We’ll use the shattered fragments to paint our dwellings on the ground
No use crying over spilled milky way….



14 June 2013

The Seven Fathoms

 
 
This is a poster I made for a drama/music/story group I'm a part of. We call ourselves Jongleurs, which are 10th century bards from medieval France. They've kinda went out of style about a thousand years ago, but we still think they're cool. We're still trying to get off the ground, but you can check out our youtube channel here.
 
 
-The Minstrel Boy

 

13 June 2013

Parable of the Salesman

Sometime between the invention of laundry detergent and 2013, some salesman got the idea that things should never grow old. So he started going around telling everyone to trash their TVs and iPods and grandmothers, preaching that it was time to move on to flat screens, microchips, and sexy supermodels. He was so good at what he did that everyone got in on it, and they all started tossing their raggle-taggle furniture, black-and-white photos, and other such rags of sentimental rubbish out into the streets, replacing them with shiny, polished windows and cherry-wood floors. But eventually they got tired of their polished windows and cherry-wood floors, so one day the salesman came back and told them that polished windows and cherry-wood floors was so yesterday, but no worries, he had spanking-new recyclable plastic-hybrid windows and stainless steel floors on the assembly line.

So everyone ditched their "old" things and got it all replaced again, but unfortunately that got old too, so they replaced it again, till that got old, until their stuff was getting old so fast that they were replacing them as soon as they opened the box. But by that time that clever, sneaky salesman had already emigrated from the country, having gone back through the streets to collect all the old garbage that nobody wanted and smuggled them into Hong Kong to sell them at ridiculous prices. In the meantime the rest of the world was in a wild frenzy to pitch the latest alarm clock before it started collecting dust.

The parable of the salesman is a true one, but for some reason no one can remember what the man's name was or where he is now. But I don't think anyone cares at this point. At this point, I don't think anyone remembers what it's like to remember things at all.




10 June 2013

The Lonely Woodcarver

The village children called him Mr. Gloomy. But, in fact, his name was Toomey, Mr. Jonathan Toomey. And though it's not kind to call people names, this one fit quite well. For Jonathan Toomey seldom smiled and never laughed. He went about mubling and grumbling, muttering and sputtering, grumping and griping. He complained that the church bells rang too often, that the birds sang too shrilly, that the children played too loudly.


The village people didn't know it, but there was a reason for his gloom, a reason for his grumbling, a reason why he walked hunched over, as if carrying a great weight on his shoulders. Some years earlier, when Jonathan Toomey was young and full of life and love, his wife and baby had become very sick. And, because those were the days before hospitals and medicines and skilled doctors, his wife and baby died, three days apart from each other.

So Jonathan Toomey had packed his belongings into a wagon and traveled till his tears stopped. He settled into a tiny house at the edge of a village to do his woodcarving.




Everybody needs to read this book. It's called  "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey". It's really good.
-The Minstrel Boy

08 June 2013

Things that tickle my fancy

 So if I had my own version of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music, this would be a few of the things in the verses...


Spaceship on an eyeball


Doctor Who meets The Little Prince



Clara Oswin Oswald

She's the new Doctor's companion. That's not actually much what she looks like. It was drawn from memory. This is what she looks like.




That's the Victorian version of her. See, she first showed up with her mind and body subconsciously trapped inside a alien asylum, in which she hacks into a dalek's brain and makes souffles. 

 This is Version 1 of Clara inside a Dalek brain making souffles.


Then she blows the whole thing up and dies.  

Then sometime later in 1820, lo and behold! There's Clara.


'ello!



And she's like, Marry Poppins or something.





And then she falls off a cloud. And dies.

Fast forward to present day, and who do you expect but....





 WHAT THE.......

She doesn't even remember the Doctor or anything. This woman is tricked out.  And I will not sleep until I find out what's going on. Steven Moffat is my hero.

Things that don't make sense tickle my fancy.
-The Minstrel Boy

02 June 2013

Dorothy and Toto taking a nap by Mr. Zuckerman's barn


I drew this in the car. Wilbur and Charlotte are in the doorway.

Jared, who despises Dorothy for some reason, drew this in response:


William Wallace, Maximus, and the guy from 300.



yeah. I dunno. It's a pretty tough match.





vs.




You decide.