Change

I spent much of my youth somewhere else.

It’s not too much of a surprise really: especially when you consider what I was and what I would ultimately become.

You would find me reading one of the Oz books during a special session of class. Or reading a book from The Belgariad in the car on the way to a funeral. You’d better believe that I was reading comics when I was dragged to synagogue and philosophy texts were my in-depth friends in my adolescence. I’m not going to even go into the many games, arts and crafts, and stories I wrote to distract myself from being bossed around and general tedium when I was sent off to summer day camp. And I would watch and rewatch old Muppet and Disney cartoon movies on my VCR whenever I was home from school.

But the fact is, from grade School all the way through the end of high school I must have created and read most of my life away. I miss the immersion that staved off the banal mundane world and its gritty, disappointing, adult reality from my life.

It got harder to keep the world away once I got into university. My magical rotes, such as they were, began to falter and fail. Once, when I had to do so many things I hated or tolerated I always had that space to retreat into: that alternate place where I could focus on more intellectual and imaginary matters.

I had so much time. When I was younger, time was limitless and most of it was spent wanting to be somewhere else when I didn’t want to do something else. But then time began to speed up. Sometimes it would slow down again and become stagnant with the dead-end nature of reality.

Reality again. It was creeping in. It’d been doing that towards the end of high school and I always knew it was there: just waiting for me. And it scared me. It was more complex and wondrous than the terrors of daytime Fox talk-shows. It was politics, and plurality, and many experiences, and human horror, and girls.

I’m glad I met the girls.

I think that explains a lot about the person that I am now: for however long that lasts.

It’s strange. These past few years time feels like it slowed down, or went by in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I wonder if that span even existed. You see, time did slow down but in that stagnant place of perceived adult failure. The thing is: I had gotten out into the world, if you want to call academia part of the world as it is.

I couldn’t handle the rest of it. And the refuge of books, films, comics, and cartoons were only temporary retreats in front of a cold, grey reality. And I know that age-old danger: of knowing it could be worse, that it can and for some it really is that.

I got tired.

But something has been happening. Time is moving fast again. These past two years, some of it spent by myself, I still knew that my time was not infinite. But it is getting faster again, if that makes sense. Things are happening. Things have been happening.

My reality marble of purely writing all the time is harder to keep around me against that perception of reality of which I’ve not done much in the way of justice. Things are happening.

Things are changing.

It scares me. It scares me to know that after some years of being sedentary I’m going to be moving around again. I’ve gotten too used to my sense of exile. I know how dramatic that sounds in this somewhat disjointed post. I didn’t even know what I was going to write this time around considering all of my circumstances but I think, when it is all said and done, that this a good thing.

It is the only thing. I’m changing and I can’t always keep up with those changes and their multitude of event horizons. But I can try. And I know and I have to believe that there are people who will be there alongside me, who will still be patient with me, as this continues to happen.

Soon I’m going to be out of my bubble. And you know, it’s time.

My rotes may not work as well as they did, but perhaps now is not the time to dwell in other spaces.

Now is the time to act: in this space.

Matthew and the Daleks

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My Last Geeky Weekend

My last weekend did not go as expected.

There’s an understatement for you. I knew that Fan Expo was happening and I was going to avoid it. I had some bad experiences with it the previous year (in the form of getting a prepaid ticket for the last day, getting lost, and not getting a straight answer of where to go: even from the volunteers). It got me so angry that not only did I write to the previous managers of the event, but I vowed to personally boycott them. It was a sad decision: as I know people who go to it that I rarely ever see.

My original plan was go to GeekPr0n’s Cosplay Ball Friday evening and the next day go to the Silver Snail Black Canary Espresso Bar to meet my friend John, who was coming in from Michigan, for their Midnight Madness sale. In this way, I would avoid the lines, the confusion and be able to take my time at things: while possibly meeting my friends regardless.

But as I said, things did not go as planned.

First let’s start with the GeekPr0n Cosplay Ball. I left late that evening and I hadn’t eaten anything. After nearly getting lost, though not nearly as badly as I used to get because fuck geography, I found a Subway store nearby, only to have less than a half an hour to eat and get out. My original plan was to eat and then put on my make-up: instead of walking through suburban Thornhill, riding the TTC system all in pseudo-goth, and messing up my make-up by eating.

Instead, I was forced to go to a nearby Tim Hortons and do a rush job in the bathroom. Here is a lesson to making yourself up like the Crow. Number One: don’t rush it. Espeically if you haven’t put on your own make-up in a few years. And Number Two: remember that putting black make-up over white dilutes it.

And you end up resembling something like this.

DSC00117

So after I left the Tim Hortons as a combination Crow and Kiss Halloween experiment, I got into the Mod Club: where we were having the event and due to my excellent sense of timing I missed a lot of things.

A lot of things.

It actually makes my heart hurt a bit to realize just what I missed. And you can find all of that at GeekPr0n, if you’d like. I’m not in any of those pictures because, yeah, I was late and it’s probably just as well. Still, I got some dancing in and met a few people. Our magazine manager actually got me a drink and I felt bad that I don’t really drink, but I definitely appreciated the sentiment and I still do. After helping pack up some stuff, I walked all the way to College and Spadina from the Mod where I formally said goodbye to the physical resting place of the Neutral Lounge that once meant so much to me.

DSC00118

It’s amazing how people treat you differently when you are wearing a costume. Most Torontonians ignored me, but I got a few jeers (there was one guy at the club that was always dancing near me and patting me on the shoulder and what-not because, you know, men always don’t mind physical contact apparently) and even some appreciation. Sometimes I don’t know whether someone is complimenting me or making a joke at my expense in the form of a compliment. I guess that says a lot about my early life with my peers. But on the bus ride home some giggling young ladies were sitting around and one wanted to take her picture with me. And I thought to myself: so that is how my cosplaying friends feel. It was a pretty cool feeling.

So after a late night walking back and talking with a friend of mine on the phone all the way home, I went to sleep extremely late and planned to slum to the Espresso Bar later in the evening the following day.

All right. Now let’s talk about the rest of that weekend.

So my friend John had this cockamame plan to get into Fan Expo and buy tickets on the busiest day of the event: Saturday. I told him good fucking luck, after trying to make him see the error of this insanity, and quite honestly waited for the messages of horror to come.

The following Saturday I woke up towards two and got a Facebook message from John saying he was heading out. All right. Again, good luck to him. I felt a little disappointment as I knew he was going to be meeting some of our friends, but I made my own plan and I was going to stick with it.

John messages me some minutes later telling me that he’s “here.”

“You’re downtown now?” I asked him.

“Nope. I’m on your driveway.”

My jaw dropped and I have to admit, I swore a lot. I asked him what he was doing here as I told him about my plan and he said he just thought it would be convenient if he drove me to the Snail or to Dundas and we could meet up later. Bear in mind: I was still in bed and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. But since John was already here, I decided “Fuck it, I’m going downtown.”

As we were going downtown, we decided to try for the Expo and get tickets for Sunday. Instead, we got tickets for that day and Sunday. You know, a part of me almost thinks that this entire thing was planned. I mean, John did tell our friends that he was going to try to get me down there, but for god’s sakes this was ridiculous.

So we ended up walking around the south building and eventually we met up with my friend Angela O’Hara was cosplaying Ariel: complete with a combing fork. We looked at drawings, sketches, and then comics. We met some more people we knew. I got a signed Manborg comic. And then we got a picture with some Daleks who decided to serve me:

Served by the Daleks

Or whom I decided to serve.

Serving the Daleks

But while language is ambiguous for a reason, Toronto traffic is less so. We spent an hour getting out of the city: and this happened both days. But on Saturday, since we were already out, we decided to meet up with our friend James in Mississauga and see Guardians of the Galaxy. I’d given up hope of seeing it with any one of my friends and I was this close to seeing it by myself to see what the hell everyone was raving about.

So after we had dinner, the first meal of my whole day, and Groot later, I was grandly impressed by the film. It was a story well done with dialogue exchange that is reminiscent of how I like to hear dialogue and write it.  I made a vow to see all the Marvel movies I can access now as I have a fear of commitment and it’s about time to get over that at least to this regard. Suffice to say I passed out pretty hard that night.

The next day I had time to eat, John picked me up, and we went to the Sunday round of the Expo. We hung around a little more in the North building this time around (and there was a lot of walking and escalators involved in that, let me tell you) and I got to meet my fellow horror and Heroes in Hell writer ZombieZak at his booth. We explored until it was almost that time and we headed back into the Toronto traffic before finally escaping on a highway.

And to cap off that day, I watched the Doctor Who episode “Into the Dalek”: which my dad recorded for me the night before. I even wrote a review.

So yeah. My friend John is stubborn and loyal and I got to have the geekiest weekend I had in a very long time. I learned just why we are Groot and that I will never be late for GeekPr0n Party again if I have anything to say about it.

Still, traffic jams need to be exterminated.

Matthew and the Daleks

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Star Wars: Preludes and Interludes Of A Space Opera

I think that if I were a Time Lord, I’d be a unique one that specializes in travelling to alternate timelines: not because I originally intended to, but due to the fact that these are places to which my senses are attuned.

Lately, not to mix metaphors, I’ve been thinking about Star Wars. I mean, when aren’t I? But bear with me. Imagine, in that period between 1980 and 1983, when The Empire Strikes Back made people truly want to know what happened next, George Lucas came up with a plan: a long-term plan.

We already know and suspect that by Return of The Jedi, Lucas was planning on heavily merchandising the hell out of his universe. Some people even think the addition of Ewoks in the last film was an attempt to particularly appeal to children and their love for toys. Even after the sixth film, we had cartoons like Ewoks and Droids.

But what if it didn’t stop there? What if aside from the made-to-TV Ewoks films George Lucas had wanted even more merchandising. At the time, LucasFilm was in the process of developing its special effects technology that would be utilized not just by itself, but by other companies and film productions as well. Even so, by the time of the cartoons it had only been a few years since Return of The Jedi and people — particularly children — were still fresh off of a galaxy far, far away and wanted more. More than that, and I can speak for myself here, fans had questions: about the Jedi, about the Republic before the Empire, and the Clone Wars themselves.

Many of these questions had been answered with the new CGI Clone Wars cartoons and the Prequel films — albeit with some gaps even now — but there was a gap of at least, what, seventeen years or so, between the films: where many of us waited after the re-release of the Old Trilogy to find our answers and immerse ourselves into new Star Wars.

Yet what if during that time, we had something else to tide us over during near two decades of waiting?

Indulge me and imagine this. After the last film and the initial cartoons, LucasFilm decides to release oncoming series that takes place during The Clone Wars. Perhaps Lucas calls them, collectively, Interludes. During this time, we get to essentially see the Republic and the Separatist Crisis, and the Jedi Knights. We get to see a young Obi-Wan and Anakin actually growing together but, more importantly, we get to see something else as well.

Jedi Team

We are witness to other characters — other Jedi and galactic denizens — and we get to watch them grow. We are introduced to the clone troopers early and see them as individuals: while always wondering why they look so like and unlike stormtroopers. And there are hints of Anakin’s back story and how he met Padme. At this stage, perhaps a few seasons or an interrelated series of cartoons (perhaps aided in the 90s by one young Genndy Tartakovsky) and live-action programs: space opera serials not unlike the material from which their structure was derived. Can you imagine that? Coming home from school to watch your Star Wars show?

And yes, the intervening years between the early 1980s and the late 90s might not have much in the way of advanced graphics or special effects by our contemporary standards but imaginary worlds have been built on much less and with more attention to detail. I mean, look at some anime from that period, or even the Old Trilogy and how immersive it was for looking all run-down, and world-weary and real: letting our minds fill in the rest. I could have seen LucasFilm making a lot of money during this time. I mean, think of an Interlude series of Star Wars: Clone Commandos playing alongside G.I. Joe. Don’t tell me that wouldn’t be bad-ass.

Clone troopers

So during this whole time, you have all these background characters getting built up, living, and dying. You get immersed in their lives. Shaak-Ti, Aayla Secura, Kit Fisto, Plo Koon and the other Jedi have many adventures and you get attached to them. You see the Jedi Initiates as children and you want to be a Jedi: relating more to you directly as a child than even Luke does in the movies. Hell, you might even want to be Clone Troopers, have their special armour and play Clones Verses Droids along with Rebels Verse Imperials in the playground.

Of course, there would be comics and books as per usual. And then periods where there are no cartoons or shows. It makes the audience wait with anticipation. You build on the culture that you have already cultivated and created. The important thing is that you leave the questions. You have Anakin refer to his time on Tattoine and being a slave and you never know everything that happened. He has moments of darkness and you don’t know what caused them. You can tell Palpatine is doing something, but you don’t know where it all began or what even started the Clone Wars at all. Then there are the other questions about what will happen to the Jedi: particularly your favourite Jedi and their friends and comrades in the clones.

1999 comes around. Perhaps there has been some intervening years where the Interludes — The Clone Wars cartoons and live-action serials — have died down. Everyone is waiting. Now take the movies know from our timeline. If you want, imagine that the ideas created by George Lucas were written out by other writers: as he had those in the Original Trilogy. Maybe he even has others giving direction to the actors: those who can relate to them and have them react in believable and human ways. Scene-sequencing is interspersed with equal amounts of dialogue and action. CGI is cut down considerably and used sparingly: with a greater reliance on prop development and real world scenery.

The Phantom Menace reveals Anakin’s origins and just why the Jedi think he is so important. Attack of The Clones, three years later, shows us how The Clone Wars began. And, finally and heartbreakingly, we have Revenge of The Sith: where not only do we see Anakin fall, but all those Jedi characters that survived up until this point are mercilessly cut down by the clone troopers that we have, despite our better judgement as adults and adoration as children, grown to love.

Think of the impact of this alternate timeline. Think of how much we could relate to the death of Aayla Secura if we had seen her in various shows fighting for worlds and having her private moments with Kit Fisto. Think about Plo Koon and his time being a part-time mentor for Ahsoka Tano — perhaps even tutoring her in piloting — only to have his ship blown apart by one of his own clones. And the Younglings, those children you saw becoming Jedi … think about the horror in that.

How would you have viewed even the Prequels that we have now if there was all that build-up to the tragedy — a well-written tragedy — that was their Trilogy and the beginning of The Empire.

So now the Prequels are over. You know what happens. And yet … there are still some mysteries. Some Jedi are still alive or unaccounted for. A Rebellion has yet to form. LucasFilm, and perhaps Lucas Arts as it might still be around this alternate timeline can play with that. The fans are devastated by the impact of the Rebellion and Luke Skywalker is felt even more keenly. You watch the films again to know that the Empire fails.

Perhaps Star Wars cartoons and shows are divided into the Preludes — those dealing with the events before the Empire — and Interludes — those focusing on events during the Empire. Maybe some of these shows happen after the Prequels in real-time and others during the 80s and 90s. This is all you have to go on so far.

But everyone wants to know what happens next. They want to know what Luke and Leia do after the Empire falls. They have only had their appetite whet with the Clone Wars and the origins of the Empire. They want more.

And then, after 2005, ten years later after more shows and merchandising — and perhaps with the aid of Disney’s resources — we have: the Sequel Trilogy. The New Trilogy.

Of course, many people might have their own alternate ideal Star Wars watching timeline. Maybe there were no Clone Wars or Prequels. Perhaps the Sequel Trilogy happened right away. But there is something else to consider and it took me a while to personally understand and accept this.

It was Tony Pacitti in his pop culture memoir My Best Friend is a Wookiee that made me consider it. Perhaps one day, if not right now, there will be a new generation of children born. These children might watch The Phantom Menace and Attack of The Clones. Then they might watch The Clone Wars. Then Revenge of The Sith. Then the Old Trilogy. And the New Trilogy. They will see all the standalone films. And right now, it is all open to them. It isn’t perfect and there are gaps and questions, but they have mysteries to explore and wonder to consume.

It would be like us discovering the magic of Star Wars for the first time and their experiences would be different but similar to our own. They have so much more to see and know. They get to do what we can only dream of doing: living a life of imagination inundated by a variety of Star Wars: decades of Star Wars. And no matter way you look at it, this will be their first step into a much larger world.

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What I Want To Twine

While I’ve going through some personal and bureaucratic issues lately, I thought I would take the time — late at night and recovering from a cold — to write about some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do.

Both of the projects that particularly weigh on my mind are Twine games. I haven’t made a new Twine narrative since The Looking Glass for the Global Game Jam and I meant to do more before other responsibilities and projects came my way. I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers at this point, but maybe this is as good a place as any to voice out some of my “workshop talk,” as it were.

There is one narrative I’ve been thinking about for a little while. It combines Near Eastern, Far Eastern, and some children’s literature. I’ve gathered notes, done some basic research, and even wrote down my own quotes and sentences that I want to use: those structures that often evolve or become centralized into larger stories. Remember: something always comes from something larger, even if that larger thing doesn’t exist yet … even if you haven’t made it. I’ve really wanted to work on this one as something of a response to a piece — a chapter from a story — that I keep on getting sent to me for some reason which has evolved in my brain into something else entirely.

The other Project I really want to spend at least some time on is my Twine novel. For those of you who have followed this Blog for some time, you may remember what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t know or recall, before I even had a basic working knowledge of Twine I wanted to make an epic story that dealt with some ideological and very personal ideas. I still haven’t finished all of the “chapters” or “worlds” and I have to remember and keep track of which world links to what and how to get them to do so after I’ve written them out.

Yes, I have been writing this Choose Your Own Adventure narrative game by hand: or at least I did for a while before I had to seriously focus on my work for Poets in Hell. As for my game, I know there are three worlds I want to write out. After that, I can take a break from it for a while and do something else and eventually complete it all.

I’ve been so terribly busy and fighting to keep focus and motivation. I just wanted to let you know that although I’m facing some challenges and difficulties, it is not all doom and gloom. I’m glad I got to write a bit about my creative processes again, even as I look forward to actually working on these creations and showing you all what I intend to do.Looking Outward

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It’s Been One of Those Weeks, But I Still Live

This is the entry that I should have been working on last night.

Wow, doesn’t that just feel like history repeating itself. To be fair, I actually should have written this weeks ago. And I did. At least, I tried.

When I last left off (this is the point where Marvel would have a footnote under one of my sentences, referring to my previous “issue” of Mythic Bios), I went on vacation for the weekend. I’d just come from finishing off my interview with Will Brooker and creating some press for Poets in Hell: where I have a short story published.

It was a nice trip. There was good food, a cabin, a forest to explore, a river and some really nice company. After so much time in front of a computer, I found myself staring into a great bonfire right in front of me. As the warmth of flames replaced the cold glow of the screen on my face, grateful to be away from my parents’ place for a while and all the other distractions, I began to become aware of something.

It’s as though I keep forgetting it. When you spend a lot of time by yourself, for extended periods, you begin to forget things. I mean, even in the days when I went out more often, I was shy and introverted regardless. I get very quiet and overwhelmed by a large group of people: even people I know. But after I moved to Thornhill, this became even more pronounced. Most of the time I was camping, I mostly talked with a few people about very specialized geeky things and, well, that was about it.

That’s generally about it. You see, I like the things that I like and when I’m nervous or feeling awkward I either “talk shop” or I don’t really talk at all. I’m not really one for small talk and I don’t really talk much about other parts of my life under most circumstances. But, even though I didn’t do any archery, or golf, or even sing karaoke, I did have fun. I even had some really cool discussions with some people towards the end of the second night after a massive rainstorm came down on us all.

After that, I actually found myself used to being around people again. One other thing I’ve noticed about being by yourself a lot is that you forget how to talk with people or even relate to them. So after that weekend, I actually wanted to be around people again. I had these thoughts about going out and hanging out with some friends: even working outside of my house and exploring again.

I’m not quite sure what happened, to be honest. I genuinely meant to do all of these things. Then I had some projects I wanted to work on before dealing with anything else. I thought I could get those out of the way and then do what I needed to do. Of course, none of these went as planned and I am still working on them. I was enthusiastic and as clear-minded about these projects and goals as I could be but I began to get bogged down in a slow, creeping sort of fashion.

I took on some tasks and obligations as well. And then, one day, some people from the city were fixing our side walk and destroyed our cable. It took over a day for them to replace it and even now it’s only a three month temporary one.

Now, this might not sound like a very big deal. I mean, most people would take that as a sign to relax and do something else. But I’d already gotten used to my rhythms back here. The fact is, I had no where really to go in Toronto. Not really. And a lot of my work is dependent on the Internet: personal projects and otherwise. But what is worse, for me, is that somewhere over time a lot of my even more personal relationships have become dependent on the Internet. And when my Internet is not working, I am cut off from a majority of my long-distance friends and loved ones.

I get very angry when someone meddles with the Internet primarily because of the fact that if something happens to it — and cable companies that are near-monopolies have no reason to really expedite or even take the time to fix something properly without endless hassle — my means of communicating some of the few people that keep me sane is gone.

When I spent over a day without the Internet at my own house, I became aware of just how … alone I was.

After that, when it was fixed, I just continued doing what I was doing. But I also noticed I wasn’t really going outside as often anymore. I was staying up late again. And I found I had nothing really to say on Mythic Bios. My mind began to become clouded and murky. I was avoiding people, even people visiting, because I already felt I had work to do that, conversely, I felt I wasn’t doing fast enough.

It even got to the point where communicating with people online became very disassociative. I suppose the signs were an extreme need for perfectionism leading the way to a lack of concentration and then, lately, a sense of frustration and anger. Sometimes, to make a Vampire: The Masquerade reference, I’m like an Antediluvian — an ancient and vampire — waking up from torpor and going into a blood-thirsty rage at existence. Or something suitably melodramatic.  Sometimes anger is easier to feel — to actually feel active and present — than detachment.

But why shouldn’t I just go out? Why not just meet people outside or go to Toronto regardless? The truth is, there are few people I can meet in Toronto. Some others have already moved on with their lives or have their own difficulties to deal with. And I’ve had some bad experiences downtown and I feel very reluctant to open myself that way again. With a very apt, and now unfortunately timely, moment of insight Robin Williams once said something to the effect that the only thing worse than being alone is other people making you feel like you are alone.

So this past while, struggling to write, I’ve been mostly watching interactions. It’s felt easier in a lot of ways: just as corresponding with people over the Internet is still easier for me as I can, usually, express myself well through the written word instead of with the awkward chagrin of dealing with people “out of my element.”

At one point an acquaintance of mine made a joke that I was “better than the rest of them.” Now, when I was out more people did tell me that I have this mien of aloofness. But let me just state that I hope it goes without saying that despite my manner, the way I write and my “big words” that I don’t think I’m better than anyone.

Trust me, I know I’m not.

So, where does this leave us now? Well, I definitely knew my depression was getting stronger when I stopped writing Mythic Bios for a while. I will try to keep up this Blog and there are some other things I’ve wanted to write on here for quite some time. But at the same time I do actually need to do some writing.

I’m also still going to therapy. And my budgie is a source of ridiculous entertainment. I have other plans to actually meet some people as well as some tasks that I still need to fulfill. I think I’ve said everything I’ve needed to in this post. Sometimes, as my friend Fairytaleepidemic once mentioned to me about a year ago now, I wish I had a group of friends that I could just meet and marathon StarGate SG-1, Dr. Who, and other shows and films with — hell, even those bloody Clone Wars cartoons — just to be able to go to someone’s house and have that kind of contact and presence of like geek minds.

Who knows. Maybe it will happen again one day. That all depends on others. And myself.

Also, budgies.

That is all.

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An Interview, A Poem, And Another Journey

I’m tired.

I won’t lie to you. I am really tired. It’s that kind of tired where everything has been happening on a time limit to the point of it all blurring together and becoming something of a singularity.

One of the major things I’d been working on for over a week, and in email correspondence, was My So-Called Secret Identity: An Interview with Will Brooker. I was on Twitter a while ago and, one day, Will Brooker asked me if I wanted to ask him some “difficult questions.” And that was how I gave my first interview.

My So-Called Secret Identity operates on the premise that superheroes, villains, and anti-heroes are celebrities that engage in an act called “the theater” in which they fight and capture each other: with average citizens suffering collateral damage as a result. This “theater” takes place in Gloria City where one young woman, a university student named Cat, has decided she has had enough and uses her considerable intelligence to attempt to actually save people and dismantle “the theater” from the inside.

It is a nice subversion of the superhero genre and trope. I can only think of Neil Gaiman’s Black Orchid series as another example, but I’m sure and I hope that there is more from that branch and fruit out there. It is definitely worth reading and supporting.

In other news, I’d also like to plug the fact that Klarissa Kocsis’ Klarissa Dreams has finally come out in paperback and on Kindle. A while ago I mentioned that I actually have a poem in there inspired from one of Klarissa’s paintings called “In Her Hand.” A few friends of mine, including some fellow Hellions, have some poems, short story and excerpts in this book. All proceeds from the anthology will go to charities for cancer and lupus research. So if you have the time, or the inclination, please check it out.

So an interview and a published print poem later, along with my Heroes in Hell story also released, I find myself pretty exhausted: so much so that I really don’t want to move. But I need to. I am going to be away from social media for a while: mainly this entire weekend. I consider it the beginning of my vacation.

It will be a challenge. I have always had Internet and writing to do along with a certain set way of things. It’s a weekend getaway outside in the sun and I am not sure if I will be used to that. I’m going to attempt to get out of my solitary workaholic shell a bit, socialize, network, and do things aside from work. It’s true: I will be bringing writing stuff and books. I am never that far away from those. But maybe this time I won’t need them.

I’ve done a lot of good work lately: so much so I think I leveled-up at least two times. I think it’s time to relax: at least for a little while. In any case, thank you for reading this far and I hope to see you all next week. Have an excellent weekend.

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What Scares You Will Be Its Soul: My Dead Girlfriend and Project: Dark-Seed

This post contains horror, disturbing images and, worst of all, *spoilers.* Reader’s discretion is advised. 

When Dream created the Corinthian a long time ago in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, his original aim was to construct a sentient dream that represented humanity’s fear of its own darkness. In the end, of course, he became more like a simple serial killer than anything as grand as a being that could make dreamers face the worst parts of themselves.

Corinthian Uncreated

The Corinthian’s initial failure as a dark mirror in which humanity could see the other part of its soul is a fitting metaphor when you hear discussions about the horror genre: particularly how gore and spectacle can take precedence over slow, creeping, uncanny elements out of the corner of your eye and the fear of the unknown or the forgotten.

And then you have creepypastas.

Kris Straub is already doing a web series called Scared Yet in which he looks at and dissects creepypastas: examining how they work, and how they don’t. He said once, in his now defunct Ichor Falls Blog, that many creepypastas fall into a formula or a series of tropes. You know: Jeff the Killer that is the result of bullying and acid being thrown on his face becoming ala the Joker analogue, a whole series of cursed video games bought from a creepy old man who may or may not vanish after a purchase, every story about Disney symbolizing institutionalized and secretive evil, and all the rest of it.

Many beginning writers can do this: they find stories that appeal to that part of them and they imitate them. Even so, many of these pastas have somehow become viral memes as they tap — sometimes even in a shallow manner — into that sense of universal horror and dread in humanity.

But then there are others …

There. Are. Others.

I have talked about Candle Cove before: created by the aforementioned Kris Straub. But a few days ago this little gem manifested itself:

My dead girlfriend keeps messaging me on Facebook. I’ve got the screenshots. I don’t know what to do. It is a story that was created on a subreddit called r/nosleep: where people seemingly write stories that commenters respond to as if they are real accounts. You can find a more polished version of it right here. But in many ways the original is much more diabolical and I will explain why.

First of all, like Candle Cove, it uses its medium to effect. But while Candle Cove emulates a Message Board, complete with user typos and all that loveliness, My Dead Girlfriend is already on a subreddit: a forum that functions as a series of comments stacked up on each other in a grey background with faded white fonts.

But goes further than that. My Dead Girlfriend also has links to what seem to be screen captures of Facebook Private and Public Chats. It utilizes Tags in empty spaces. And then there is the writing style to consider. While Kris Straub utilizes typos in Candle Cove, natesw or Nathan — which I suspect are personas — writes this from the first-person in something of a epistolary format: a series of journals or reports of the phenomenon occurring. Moreover, the writing from natesw’s persona on r/nosleep is clear, with no typos whatever, and possesses proper sentence structure, spelling, and grammar.

Yet the Facebook Chats he has “screen-captured” have the typos and fragmented sentences. And the dialogue between him and his dead girlfriend gets juxtaposed and played with like a twisted form of poetry. These two modes, the first-person of the subreddit text and the third-person and visual aids of the Facebook images complement each other. Unfortunately, if you go by the subreddit the ending could be lost: if it is indeed the ending.

Read the second, cleaner tickld version though: and look at the very last image that it shows you.

Creepy, no?

Remember, you have to find Candle Cove. My Dead Girlfriend finds you.

Ghost Writer

It’s still finding us. When Candle Cove was first sent to me, it had been around for a few years. Right now, though, My Dead Girlfriend is still spreading.

And the story had me before that image too. My friend and I were talking about this into the wee hours of Sunday and she told me that it had her at “FRE-EZING.” This was the only original word that “Emily” was able to construct, or revealed. You see, we never know whether Nathan’s torment is the result of a sick hacker, Nathan’s own subconscious mind projecting the grief of his trauma into messages from Emily, or … the fragments of Emily’s traumatized essence not completely realizing that she is dead and going to the place and person that she knows more than herself: perhaps even trying to make up for the reluctant displays of affection that she showed Nathan in life before she died on her way to their apartment.

Basically, the story is left open-ended. And there is the challenge in the recipe right there. You have to basically know that balance between detail and that open-endedness. If you have too much detail, people will question the specifics and your creepypasta will deflate into skepticism. On the other hand, if you are too grandiose and you try to encompass everything your structure will either never grow or will fall apart at the seams.

I think one element to know what medium you want to use and how you want to structure it. At the same time, you need to know what story you want to tell. Images, photoshopped or otherwise, help too. Another advantage that My Dead Girlfriend has is the fact that it has many commenters either playing along (being the poster’s friends or general fans of the subreddit) or are so taken by the Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds Effect that they are genuinely giving the poster natesw advice. But this story also manages to tap into the general and the specific. The characters and personas have names. There are dates. The accident that took Emily is revealed in slow and painful detail. The uncanny is tapped.

And that is the difference right there: that last ingredient. You can study the remnants of a miracle, but you can’t really reconstruct its soul from what is left. Or, in my case and in the case of other writers, you can’t create an original soul of a new story by purely examining leftovers alone.

I can tell you how these stories work, but it’s like deconstructing a joke. It’s just not funny after. It’s just not horrifying. And anything that I make from this, as it has been a long-term goal of mine to create a viral horror meme after my girlfriend had showed me Candle Cove, would just be a shallow or empty form.

I have many ideas for a creepypasta. It was the very aim of my Project: Dark-Seed. But after that conversation with my friend last night, I realized something. I realized just why the Corinthian was such a failure to Dream.

Dream even admitted that the fault was his own. Dream created the Corinthian to embody humanity’s fear of its own darkness, but despite the fact that Dream is an embodiment of the sentient impulse of imagination and dreaming, he isn’t human. Until his imprisonment in Preludes and Nocturnes, and slowly before with his human friend Hob he never tried to get close enough to humans to actually understand their perspective.

Dream could observe human darkness, but he didn’t really know how they experienced it. He couldn’t relate to his audience. The Corinthian, who was intended to be a classic horror tale became a gory spectacle because he only engaged humans on that superficial level. Unlike Dream’s other stories, other dreams and nightmares, the Corinthian wasn’t made from a pre-existing concept or a sentient being made into something more. He was Dream’s attempt at original creation and imitation of life and he failed.

He was an empty shell that tried to fill himself with gore and eyeballs and attention. As Dream’s creepypasta to humanity, the Corinthian falls short. That is the same reason why some creepypastas and horrors stories fail because the creator doesn’t try to relate to their audience. In terms of comedy, the joke doesn’t amuse them.

The story doesn’t scare them.

But what would have happened if the Corinthian scared Dream? What would have happened if Dream thought about what scared him and made the Corinthian in that image? What happens when a horror writer creates a monster that scares them, that makes them feel goose flesh at the mere thought of it: of that thing at the corner of their consciousness that they logically know can’t happen or exist, but deep down knows?

Who knows. Perhaps Dream’s re-creation of the Corinthian after his own imprisonment and exile changed the model. Perhaps he just needed a catalyst to tap him into that deep black pool of universal horror and white noise, take a piece of it, and fashion from its substance a soul to fill the emptiness.

Static

Perhaps a creator only needs to find something to be scared of in order to create a nightmare that can be shared with the world.

Now if that isn’t the beginning of a story of one’s descent into creative damnation, I don’t know what is. The powers help me. I think I have been writing too much in hell. But the moral of this story is that some people like their pastas filled with gore or emptiness.

I like my pastas to be filled with darkness: from the heart.

Corinthian

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