Monday, March 27, 2017

In the most delightful way!

Mandy: Why do Mary Poppins' kids need medicine (to wash down with a spoonful of sugar) anyway? Are they sick, or something? 

Me: Well, yeah, they keep hallucinating that she can fly with her umbrella, that they can jump in and out of pastel drawings, that they can laugh on the ceiling... those kids have some real problems, don't you think?

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

From Fun To Tedious In Under Four Seconds

I’m probably one of the few people who accepts Facebook friend requests from people they don’t know. It used to be fun. When fb started and had not yet become the cancer that it is today, there were actually interesting new people out there who wanted to interact. One or two, (as unbelievable as it sounds,) told me they had found me because they liked my books. One was an obvious but hilarious attempt at catfishing, but that’s another story.

Lately, of course, whenever I get a friend request, the feeling has gone from “Ooh, is it an old friend or family member trying to reconnect, or someone new and interesting?” to “Sigh, another fornicating spambot.” Usually, such fake personas have a brand new account, and claim to be some scantily clad bimbo, complete with a picture they downloaded from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit page. Those, of course, I disregard. One guy who claimed to live in Africa immediately began begging for money to help his poor brother get an education. Seriously pal, beg for money for your baby’s life-saving drugs instead, you might get better results. One person in India didn’t contact me for about a year, then suddenly messaged me out of the blue. He told me that he wanted to have his way with me, and then kill me. I told him that it would probably be more interesting the other way around, then proceeded to block him and report.

I got a request the other day from someone who looked like an elderly gentleman, who had a few common friends. I accepted out of curiosity. Of course, the messages started right away. “Hi. Hi. How are you? Are you there? Have you been contacted by (some acronym I forgot but I deleted the thread after I unfriended and blocked him.) Hello? Are you there?” Sigh, it’s depressing.

It doesn’t help that fb Messenger for Android has become the precursor of Skynet, and wants to take over every aspect of my phone. “Can I pretty please have access to all your contacts and email addresses?” Hell no. “Awww, come on, I’ll be your best friend! How about texting? Why are you using stock texting? I can text for you instead!” Um… no. “How about YOUR DAY? Wouldn’t you like to add the extreme close-up picture of that thing growing on the inside of your nostril to YOUR DAY?” Well… yeah, actually, that sounds like fun.

Anyhoo, peace, love and soul.

TTFN -Tony
t - 17,151

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Forgotten War

The Boy Scouts interviewed Dad yesterday as part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. It's amazing how he neatly kept everything for years. Meanwhile, I can't find my own socks in the morning.

Although he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, and a Bronze Star, he lied to his family while in Korea, and said he wasn't in combat. This was because my Uncle Mel had seen combat in WW2, and my grandfather would cry when he read his letters. All the air mail envelopes are letters he saved between him and his young cousin who lived in the Bronx. She had polio, and spent almost her entire life in an iron lung. He kept the letters light because she was a kid. She died in her her teens. (This is part of why anti-vaxxers drive me up a tree...)

TTFN
-Tony
t- 21,403...




Wednesday, March 01, 2017

From The Garry Gnu Gnostic Gnosples

And so it was that Jesus went into the desert for forty days and forty nights to clean his belly button of lint. And yea did everyone in Jerusalem take their lint from their own navels, and burn them. Then they put the ashes upon their heads in the sign of the t, because they were terrific.

And then Jesus spoke, saying “People should give something up for this time, whether it be Doritos, cheese, or watching hentai tentacle porn online.” And the people said “Oh Lord, what are these tentacles, and why should we ever tie up hens in a line?” And He replied, “exactly.”

The Word of the Lord
-Tony

t - 27,252

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Every sha la la la la, every woah oh oh oh...

Had a dream last night that Slayer did a Death Metal cover of The Carpenters' "Yesterday Once More". Now I have it (the dream version that doesn't really exist) stuck in my head.

I started playing with Unity last night. Decades ago, I did some work in VRML with the intention of creating a virtual web-site alternative to my main page. The problem was that whatever I created wound up huge (who in their right mind would ever go to a page web-page that was 3 megs???) These days, that's the bare minimum size expected for the backdrop. The question is,what to do with it? I want the result to be interesting and creative, something different. I think a minimalist style would be best for keeping file size down. David O'Reilly proved you can do great work with it, and once said something about the limitation forcing him to be more creative.

I managed to get Burn: Cycle running on my Windows 10 PC last night using DOSBOX. I miss 90s adventure CD ROM games that had bad acting and cartoony FX over actors blue-screened and placed in CGI backgrounds. Harvester was my favorite for pushing every limit possible, but Myst 1-4, The 7th Guest, & Phantasmagoria 1&2 were pretty awesome as well. I don't know, they just seemed like they wanted to be more creative with a new medium.

TTFN
-Tony

T-33,247...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Zen and Civilization VI, or Gandhi Nuking My Piece of Mind

I’m assuming that everyone has gotten upset at people or things that weren’t really there. Or rather, we get angry at people, places and things that are not in the present. Perhaps they’re politicians or our bosses, old arguments, past acquaintances or family members, online trolls… the list is endless.

The way I’ve learned to deal with this is to recognize that my anger at things that aren’t in the present… is just Gandhi.

If you’ve ever played Civ  4 - 6, you might have an idea of what I’m talking about. It’s become a running gag that due to a glitch, the AI for Gandhi can go from Mother Theresa to slinging ICBMs in an instant. But what’s worse – and this is the important part – is that like all the other world leaders, he mocks you.

Not enough food, production, military, culture, or religion? Gandhi will interrupt your gameplay with some obnoxious quip or comment. He’s also a hypocritical dick who has no problem trying to convert all your cities to his religion, but will whine and start a war if you send your apostles to convert his… but that’s beside the point.

The point is, Gandhi is not real. Well, he was, but you get what I mean.

“No shit Sherlock,” I hear you cry. “It’s just a game.” Well, we only actually exist in the present moment. Therefore, things that are not in our present are not real either. But for some reason, we still let them upset us.

When you come down to it, the Civilization games are merely a flow of strategic choices. The aim is to pick the most logical path to your goal before the various AIs beat you to it. This can be done without any graphics or sound, but pretty pictures and obnoxious world leaders create a false narrative that gets us emotionally involved and keeps us coming back for more – even if the things causing this emotional investment aren’t real.

Like emotional distractions that are not in the present.

What if we applied that model to our lives? Not to get too much into the simulism theory, but what if we see life as a series of logical steps we can take to reach a goal, but our path is full of imitation Gandhis – things not in the now that we need to let go of – that create a possibly derailing, false emotional distraction?

Whenever I find myself re-hashing an old argument, or angered and upset by the news, work, or anyone or anything else that I have no power to change, I just imagine that it’s a cartoon Gandhi popping up and ridiculing me. Once the illusion is broken, I know I have a choice: I can recognize the distraction for what it is and stop validating it, or continue to let myself be sucked into an emotional spiral by something that is not really there. The more ridiculous I imagine his gloating, the more ridiculous I feel if I don’t immediately choose to stop. (And yes, just like when playing Civ, I’ve found myself bargaining to stay upset for “just one more turn...”)

I’ve also had a Yoda in my mind for the past thirty-five years who pokes me with a stick and chides me for never having my mind on where I was (hmmm?), or what I was doing – but that’s a different story.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stop Whining and Edit!

Nobody ever told me that writing a book would be like having to be the world’s meanest English teacher, having to check the world’s brattiest student’s work. No wonder so many hated me.

Every writer is different. To me, writing is like sculpting. You mold clay into a rough shape and form, adding more details here and there. But in the end, you realize that your renaissance-era left leg does not match the Greek-era style right. What do you do? Do you remake the left, the right, or both? Does the weight of the left arm make the entire figure topple over? I guess you have to reposition those mixed-era legs now. And what the hell is with that hat and hair? Maybe he’d be better bald instead…

So eventually, you get the base pose, figure, hair, and bowler hat down to what you want. That’s great. But there are cracks in the elbows and knees where the weight is showing. Better take away some of that belly fat and reinforce them-but not too much. As you’re reinforcing the knees, you come up with an amazing idea – what if he’s wearing all around knee-armor? That would be really cool… except you better give him elbow armor as well. Which means his snazzy bowler hat looks ridiculous. Better make it into a helmet. Okay, now everything works and is balanced. You have what you consider a sculpture / plot / story / whatever: The first draft is finally finished.

The next day, you see all the details and imperfections that need to be smoothed or sharpened. Okay, fine, I’ll give the hair that’s peeking out of the bottom of the helmet some definition. Now it looks amazing and realistic. But… his eyes just don’t match it now, and his stubble is way too rough for such fine hair. Both need to be fixed and then it will be perfect. Okay, they’re both fixed, but why is his hair so nice when his armor is so filthy? Sigh…

To make a long story short, I really thought the second and final draft of Debris of Shadows: Book II would be ready by now, but it’s still being edited and obsessively scoured. I thank you for your patience.

TTNF
-Tony

Monday, December 19, 2016

Shallow Thoughts

I had a dream last night that due to global warming, I lost my job, and had to fish in the flooded streets with my son from a rowboat to feed our family. Damn you, Al Gore...

Silly facebook memes seem to have given birth to intersting conversations. For example, does the soul exist, and if so, is it a construct of the body that begins when sperm meets egg, or is there an infinite number of souls floating around heaven, waiting to be assigned a body? If so, is it always a human body, or just any body that comes along? If we live in a multiverse, does each of the infinite mes get a soul, or do we just split one, and as I die throughout the infinite possibilities, do the rest of us absorb my souls, until "there can be only one"? If so, as there are fewer and fewer mes, does having a less spread-out soul make the surviving mes luckier, or have more life and vitality? If so, is it better to have all of your other souls along the probability axis killed off early on, and worse for all of them to live a long life? Are old, homeless people you see in the gutter just men unlucky enough to have the majority of their souls live long enough to see old age?

Since amoebas reproduce by splitting in half, are all amoebas today still technically part of the original Adam/Eve amoeba?

Was there a Jesus amoeba who died for their sins? 

Sigh, I have to go to work now. This is what happens when you stay up late to force your children to watch The Sound of Music.

Have you ever noticed that the ending of The Blues Brothers is suspiciously similar to The Sound of Music - including the positioning of State Troopers and Nazis at their respective concerts?

Anyhoo, everyone have a good one.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dream dream dream...

I've been having sad and violent dreams the past few days. Sadly, they really don't have anything I can mine for fiction, at least nothing comes to mind.

There was one where I was in a church which branched into a giant old office building, and at some point I released a river of acid I was trying to escape from while carrying my daughter. I managed to get some on my hand which burned down to the bone. I approached God, and woke up. Maybe that one would be useful.

There was another one with two high school classmates at a reunion who were in love with each other, but kept standing back to back refusing to talk with each other.

Anyway, another week at work before Christmas. With any luck, my car will be ready by Christmas Eve. I don't want to do too much driving back and forth, I don't want another vacation I need a vacation from afterward.

After almost two years after filming my scene, Vicious Thunder (which was, at the time, called Case at Midnight) they finally held the premiere in PA last week. A lot of fun, and a long drive back and forth in the snow, but what the hell, how many times am I going to get to see myself killed on the big screen?

TTFN
-Tony






Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Moving Right Along

You know that feeling when there was something in your first draft you were never really happy with, but couldn't figure out exactly how to fix it, and then months later while editing it hits you, and you reach up to the sky from your keyboard, and cry, "THESE HANDS HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY GOD!!!"?

Another issue with writing is a question of how subtle or how in your face you should be, if there's a point you want to make. Even if a character is based on a real person, is making such a prejudiced character just a strawman example? Everyone is so ridiculously on edge about idiotic social issues these days, it's tempting to ignore them at all.

But then, if you're afraid of saying what you want, there's no point in writing, I suppose. It's just a question of doing it well (I hope!)

For those who don't know, I was in a big accident over Thanksgiving. There were no injuries, that's the important thing. But even though it's not my first, it drove home how instantly something stupid can happen (I'm wondering if the other driver was "distracted-driving") but more importantly, how much the people we love matter more than anything else - more than the stupid arguments that seem to have overtaken our lives these days, certainly.

Be good to each other.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Wowsers

Well THAT was unexpected.

Makes me wish I hadn't sworn off of political commentary, though I do think there will be more entertainment before January.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Disney Declares Mother Theresa Still Canon

So, Mother Theresa is a saint now.

I was raised Catholic and came out of the closet as agnostic more or less a decade ago, but I still find this all fascinating. There's been much debate on whether or not she deserves it, and I'll leave that up to you to decide. What interests me is how the church decides. Basically, if you pray to someone after they die to intervene with god on your behalf, and your prayer is answered, it's considered that this dead person actually performed a miracle.

So the first lesson is that god does not take freelance prayer submissions, you need to apply through an agent.

The second lesson is that it must be so hard to get god to help out a dying kid, getting him to is considered a "miracle."

I imagine then that heaven must be like a giant stock exchange. Prayers are answered on the open outcry method (watch the ending of Trading Places if you don't know what I mean.) Prayer brokers are all shouting, waving their respective prayers in the air, while god sits back and picks the orders he wants to take, until the bell rings. Get two orders answered, and you become a saint.

The thing is, we have no way to tell who is actually brokering which prayers. I'd like to imagine there's an old Jewish guy named Mort who's gotten the most through, but no one actually prays to him, so he gets no credit at all.

Then, there are saints who specialize. My namesake, for example, is the patron saint of lost keys, though I'm infamous for putting something down and never finding it again. This is the main reason I got LASIK, I was sick of frantically looking for my glasses when I was supposed to be running out the door.

Anyway, everyone have a nice day. May Saint Mort bless you all.

TTFN
-Tony


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

"We mock the things we are to be"

Last week, my cousin Dean called, with one of the most awesome questions I've ever been asked:

"Want to see Mel Brooks at Radio City Music Hall?"

Of course, the answer was yes. First, they screened Blazing Saddles (it was obviously a Blu-ray projection, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't crisper the way the original film print would have been, but I know that's just nitpicking. It was awesome seeing it on the big screen.) I realized the young woman next to me had never seen it before because of her constant gasping at the use of the n-word. Hopefully she figured out it was an anti-racist comedy. As the presenter said, this is a film that could never be made in today's rabidly PC / SJW society. I felt bad for her, because idiots kept shouting out lines just before they were spoken. Yes, the movie is 40 years old, and 99% of us have seen it before. We all know the lines, you're not impressing anyone, and this isn't Rocky Horror. Chill.

Afterward, Mel himself came out onstage, and answered questions. Of course, most of them had to do with Gene Wilder (sniff.) I was amazed at his energy and wit. I pray I'm half that sharp when I'm ninety. It was just amazing to be in the same room with someone I've always respected and admired.

While editing the next book, I've been winding down at night by playing Obduction the latest game from the creators of Myst. It's not set in the Myst universe, but with its incredibly beautiful other-worldliness, it more than lives up to expectations. There's more than a few technical bugs, and it has the same annoyances as Uru did (I basically have to imagine that I'm disabled and can't step over two foot high barriers, and that the beautiful, shining brook is made out of Mercury, and that's why I just can't wade across it) but over-all, it's an amazing adventure/puzzle game. It's nice to see the original Cyan team back in action.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Second Person Ramblings or I just gotta be whoever the internet doesn't care about me being

One day, you wake up and realize that you're no longer a square peg trying to fit in a round hole, you've basically hammered yourself into some sort of octagonish shape with rounded corners.

Then another day you realize most of humanity feels this way and you should really just stop whining about it.

So you decide that you're just going to stop worrying and enjoy life. 

Then you feel fat, lazy, and unsatisfied with anything, and you realize that if you want to keep your job and be able to take care of those who depend on you, you have to keep proving you're useful. "Coffee's for closers only!"

Once again, you realize most of humanity has come to this realization, and you should really stop whining about it.

Then you realize you're talking about yourself in the second person, and it probably sounds dickish.

Is dickish a word?

I've realized that I get annoyed by the inner monologue of a lot of characters in books by a certain extremely famous author, because they sound extremely judgemental, and I wonder if that's how normal people are supposed to think. Is that the secret of his success, emotional superiority and manipulation?

I hung out with an up-and-coming stage/TV actor the other night, and he told me that an actor's number of twitter followers factor into whether they get a role or not. Really? That must be maddening. I mean, you can buy a thousand followers in Africa for like $20, or so I'm told, but still, to have to worry about your online persona, to never be real or honest (not saying this person is not real or honest online, just saying that I would feel like I was forced not to be.)

Oh well, time to put my pants on. Everyone have a good one.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Some Changes Never Thing

Put me in a classroom, give me something to write with and to write on, and this will be the inevitable result. There was a time when I wanted to make amazing surreal graphic novels, something along the line of the Hellraiser series, or Heavy Metal. Now, in the digital age when it could be done easily, I keep finding excuses. I had a few webcomics over the years, but I just couldn't keep my own interest up. I guess all my creative juices are focused on writing and editing prose at the moment, not to mention keeping my brain from melting into goo in this insane heat. Remember years ago, when being an electrician meant slinging bx in a nice Manhattan office renovation, with AC in the summer and heat in the winter? Pepperidge Farm remembers!

Peace, love and soul, my friends.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Amazing how that day job got in the way...

The first draft of Debris of Shadows Book II has finally crossed the finish line, at 95k words (380 pages using 250 words per page.) So now begins the editorial scouring.

I've eliminated the "B plot" and focused the novel on Matthew's adventures in WesMec. To include what was happening back in the Sage in NorMec would have stretched things out to about 500 pages. Don't worry, it's not gone forever, all that stuff will be in Book III.

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive. Coffee awaits!

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Just in case you were wondering

The first draft of Debris of Shadows Book II just crossed the 300 page (75k words) mark... and, according to my outline, still has at least another 100 to go. Coffee is my friend.

The difficulty is fourfold: First, it's a sequel, and it's honestly going to be one of those where you have to read the first book to really know what is going on. Serialized novels have become more popular these days (Thank you, George R.R. Martin) but I'm sure I'll receive some flack for that. Oh well.

The second is that the story goes back and forth between The Sage in NorMec, and Matthew's adventures in WesMec, and then ties the two up at the end, which will lead us into the final book. (Yes, there will only be three.) Multiple plotlines have to be equally interesting. I've read books where the A plot was all I cared about, and I just wound up skipping through the B filler in annoyance. All the characters involved have to move the story along, the lazy bastards.

The third is re-purposing. Matthew's continuing story springs from another novel I had gotten about 200 pages into over a period of about fifteen years, which had many of the same themes. I was able to use about 3/4 of the plot, but it had to be completely rewritten. The art is in disguising the art, or something like that, which means part of the job is making sure no one sees the seams.

And fourth, as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Last Brexit to Jersey

I can't pretend I fully understand what's going on with the UK leaving the EU. I grok that some understand the issue better than I, so please, tell me if I've got the situation or not.

Let's pretend the United States gives amnesty to all illegal aliens and refugees, and opens its borders.

This creates plethora of issues, among them criminal activity, over population, a refusal to integrate, and last but not least, unemployment.

New Jersey, which already has a huge unemployment problem of its own, says, "Fornicate this noise, we're leaving," and secedes from the Nation. So, if you weren't a natural born NJ citizen, you now need a visa/green card/citizenship to work and live in NJ. The flip side is, NJ natural born citizens now need these things to work elsewhere in the US. This includes me and my wife, who live in NY. Our daughter was born in NY, so if we move back, she'll have to apply for citizenship. So will our son, because he was born in SC. This situation has ramifications all over the country, especially because NJ is basically a suburb for NYC. And don't forget the elderly who moved to FL or AZ years ago to retire.

So now, NJ jobs are preserved for the New Jersians. This looks great on the surface. The only problem is, there really weren't that many jobs to begin with. Its only export is horrible reality shows about horrible people, the green flies and annoying pine needles that plague the Jersey Shore, and tourism-mainly people going to Headquarters 10 in Morristown to see if that guy who scans the movie tickets with his finger is still working there after all these years (is he?)

The other issue is that many NJ companies who did business throughout the US are now thrown into disarray. New tariffs and agreements have to be drawn up. NJ also received federal aid for many industries, especially for the perpetual roadwork on 287 that was planned to last for all eternity.

To complicate matters further, NJ is actually made up of two separate nations. The Pork Roll people voted to stay in the US, while the Taylor Ham nation was unanimously for leaving. There is now talk of the Pork Rollers seceding from NJ so they can try and rejoin the US.

Anything I missed?

TTFN,
Tony

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Why Someone Else Would Vote For That Person You Wouldn't Be Caught Dead Voting For

As 2016 is shaping up to be one of the most toxic and divisive election years of all time, I keep seeing the following posts:

"How could anyone vote for ______? Only a slimy, odoriferous pile of reptile droppings would ever vote for him/her/it! If you're going to vote for ______, just unfriend me now!"

There is a difference between having your own opinion and arguing for it, and being convinced that everyone else's opinion should be the same as yours. So, in the interest of being obnoxious and lording the fact that I'm above it all, I shall explain.

Other people were born with a different nature than you.
They were raised with different nurturing than you.
Some have had different experiences than you.
Some have had successes you never will.
Some have suffered hardships and pains you never will.
All these things have formed a perspective in those people.
They then found one or more ideologies (sets of ideas and ideals) which more or less coincided with their perspectives.

These ideologies shaped their lives. They may convince themselves that their decisions are based on impartial, objective logic, but deep down, they are shaped by these ideologies. They may say "yeah, you're right, you have a point," and KNOW that you are making pure, logical sense - but still, they will always find a way to justify following their particular ideology.

To them, some decisions you may think are wrong, are right.
To them, some decisions you may think are right, are wrong.

Remember, these rules apply to you as well.
Remember, friends and family are more important than the circus playing out in Washington.

Here endeth the obnoxiousness (for now.)

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rest in Peace, Uncle Joe.

My Uncle Joe passed on earlier this week, at the age of Eighty-two. As he was sick for a while, I was happy I got to visit him last Sunday to say goodbye.

Uncle Joe, myself, Lisa, Mary, and Aunt Diane. The 80s were a simpler time.

Me and Uncle Joe in the 90s. Such hair, such fashion. Hail Pottsylvania!


My uncle was laid to rest in the same cemetery as our grandparents, so a few of my cousins (Keith and Jeanette) and I went to visit them. We found that someone recently put flowers on their grave. Whoever the unknown person is, thank you for remembering them.


My father told me once that in the 20th century, this was pretty much the only cemetery where Catholics from NYC could be buried. That would explain why I have so many relatives from both sides of the family here.

I plan on going out like Slim Pickens did in Doctor Strangelove, but in the slim case I don't get to ride a nuke, I suppose I'd like to be cremated and dumped off the shelf of the Atlantic. That way, no one has to visit me. Chances are, when it rains, I'd visit you.

I would like, however, that if Amazing Grace is sung at my funeral, everyone sing it like Elvis. Dressing up is optional.

Live long and perspire, my friends.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

If I wrote the next Star Wars film...

STAR WARS:
Max Rebo, Sithym and Blues

Some days you get the blues, and some days, the blues get you.
See that sexy, blue pachyderm, banging away on the keys, feeling the music flow through him like nothing else matters - because it doesn't? That's me. That's Max. Once, I was the hottest night club act in the Outer Rim. Now, I'm playing platform six in the Coruscant subway. No credits, no love, just a scar across my trunk where a hooker slashed me, and a parade of ex wives who would have paid her for the privilege.

I had a pretty good gig on Tattoine, back in the old days. I played Jabba's palace. Our music was so good, that when we played, Jabba would even let his girlfriends get down and funky with the Rancor. If they'd run off with it, he'd just shrug, and get a new one. Can't be jealous when there's good music. That was Jabba. Then, some teenagers and their droids came in, and shot the place up. Why? Everyone in this galaxy gets so caught up in masks, who froze who, who's whose daddy... light side, dark side- who cares? There's always going to be someone swinging a light saber, always going to be guys in armor shooting... that's not what this story is about, because that's not what life's about. It's all about the music. There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, there's just you and me, and Sy Snootles can kiss my blue trunk.

You want to tell me about love? I was in love, once. She was so fine, Wookies used her face to comb for lice. We just used to talk and talk, until the morning birds yelled at us to shut up. Every morning, when I hear birds, I think of her. I wish I could tell her that I think she is good, I'll alway hope her life is good, and that I'm all good. But I can't, because she found religion, and ran off to get sacrificed to a Mynock cult. That's the way it goes. One day you're in love, next day, she's Mynock kibbles. I even wrote a song about it, called, "One Day You're In Love, Next Day, She's Mynock Kibbles." But I was down on my luck, and I sold the rights. Then, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes covered it, upped the tempo, and changed the name to "Mad About Me." No soul, man, no soul.

Because in the end, all you have is the music. You want to know what loneliness is? It's not being some green, big-eared Muppet, all alone on a swamp planet, waiting for some kid to show up and get his ass wupped into shape. Loneliness is being a drop of oil in an ocean, surrounded by water drops who all want to be together, all laughing and playing and being at home - because they're water. And here you are, in the middle of them, but you're a blue blob of oil, so you're never really a part of it. All you can do is watch through your impermeable surface tension, and pretend, because they're perfectly happy whether you're there or not. That's what the music is. It's a way to make me forget I'm pretending.

So there I was, just out of a job, because, like I said, some uppity kids burned Jabba's palace to the ground. Sy had left me to go solo, and I was feeling lower than a Nerf herder on Life Day, when who should come knocking on my door, but the glamorous Mon Mothma herself. Now, don't tell anyone I told you, but Mothma liked to slum around on Tattoine, whenever her wife would go away on business. Just another high-class girl who needed her regular, nasty fix of Big Blue. She gave me a long, deep kiss on the trunk, looked down at me with her big, elegant, arrogant eyes, and said "Max, how would you like to make a dishonest living?"

(To be continued...)

Saturday, March 05, 2016

New Tenants Have Moved Into 1B

The Wanderer poked his head from the silver portal. The magical rains had not fallen in quite some time. To be sure, there was still plenty of water deep within the catacombs; there were other portals, after all. But this tunnel had been home to him, his father, and his children for as long as he could remember. Why had the liquid manna ceased to flow?

He crawled out upon the Great White Valley. It was barren and dry. And bright, so bright. The brilliance made his heart pound, deep within his armor. This was the land of the Gods. One only dared to traverse here under the sweet cover of darkness. But darkness was for hiding, and hiding was for ignorance. He was not making this suicidal journey to be willfully blind; he was here to know.

The ground was cold and unforgiving beneath his feet as he scrabbled up the ivory wall. He tasted dryness and grit, and a chill set over him.

Where had They gone?

His brothers had made the pilgrimage before him. Only one had ever returned, cracked and broken, his limbs smashed and jagged. He had warned the Wanderer, with his last, gasping breath, that the Gods were cruel. They were Titans, walking mountains, who guarded their land of plenty with a petty jealousy, bringing down crushing death on all those who dared to cross it. The Wanderer had been content to lay within his cavern, to feed upon the delicious rains that fell from above. But the rains had stopped.

It was his fault, he knew. He had tried to be good, he had tried to be true. He had followed all the rituals, said all the prayers. He had shown his loyalty and his love. But somehow, he was unworthy. Somehow, he must have failed. They had judged him undeserving of the rain, and he would learn why.

The rustling patter of tiny feet echoed across the ground, and it froze him in his tracks. Were there others here? Children - perhaps even nephews and nieces of the brothers who had never returned? He would find them. He would find, embrace them, and bring them home. The thought ignited a sense of pride within him. They would not find their uncle cowering in fear. He scurried around the corner, calling out a greeting. Then he stopped, his heart sinking.

They were not his family, merely a squad of Simples. Dwarves. They liked to travel in packs. They ran from here to there, careless of what danger they courted. He had met their types before.

"Hey, you," he said. They did not turn his way. He looked to the left and to the right, but saw no one. He moved to block their path. "Hey, I'm talking to you."

"Light," they said in unison, pointing to a spot of luminescence above. "Light, light, light, light, light."

"What happened here?" the Wanderer asked. "Where have the Gods gone? Why did they leave us?"

"Light, light, light," the Simples chanted. They rerouted their passage around him, and continued on their way. His jaw dropped in shock. How could they be here, in the home of the Gods, and yet worship something else?

"Don't you fools understand?" he shouted as they scampered off. "We're all alone now. I'm alone."

Their mantra echoed, fading in the distance. He sunk his head.

"I don't want to be alone."

He looked about him. This was no heaven. He could smell no food, only dust. He would return to his family, to the dank of his caverns. They would find a new tunnel, with new Gods to worship. They would have to fight, kill, and possibly die to overtake the supplicants already living there, but so what? It was the way things were, the way they had always been. It was life.

The dry wind brought a sound of thunder. The ground shook. In the blurry radiance, the faint echo of the Simples cadence turn to screams.

Joy and terror washed over him in waves. The rhythm of the earthquakes grew stronger, the thunder louder. He knew he should run, should scamper back to the safety of the portal. But he knew that if he did, he would hate himself until the day he died. He had come to see the Gods, and he would.

The Avatar loomed into view from above. She tilted her head back, opened her mouth, and screamed. The roar deafened him as he emptied his bowels, his refuse running down his legs. She was terrible, and beautiful, her head crowned by a flowing mane of gold. She swung out her massive leg, and colossal, inescapable darkness hammered down from the sky. As it ground his brain into mush, the last thought to cross it was one of elation. Perhaps the old Gods had deserted him, but here were new ones.

His children would have rain.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, February 26, 2016

"I am The Lorax..."

I love looking at trees in winter, especially landscaped ones by the roadside. Over the decades, certain branches have been pruned and sealed. Perhaps an infestation here or there destroyed or mutated the form of a limb as it was branching out. But the trees' DNA still instructs them to grow in a way that can't be denied. The result is a skeleton that is gnarled and winding, every twist an elegant reminder of its fight to be alive and true to itself.

TTFN
Tony.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When life gives you composition...

The other day at work, I was sent down into the subterranean levels to retrieve some galvanized pipe. I came across a few areas where shadows and contrast had created some awesome photo opportunities. Looks like a great place to shoot a noir movie.

TTFN
-Tony




 

Friday, February 12, 2016

A father's open letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton

Dear Mrs. Clinton:

OK, let's be honest. I've never liked you, and I'm not going to pretend I do. Let's just get that out of the way. I don't see you, Bernie, Trump, or even Sarah Palin being any better or worse than any other president; I just don't believe in our political system anymore.

Let's cut to the chase.

I have a daughter, and I've been told that you've done many things that will make her life better. I really don't know how true that is, but if it is... well, then thank you - and I honestly mean that. But there is one trend from your political history that is rearing its ugly head in this campaign, and it's something I definitely don't want her to learn. My problem with you is, after a fashion, the same one I had with your husband. It comes down to this:

No matter what your gender, being principled is hard.

No matter what your gender, being true to your word is hard.

No matter what your gender, practicing what you preach is HARD.

I know - because I've failed to do these things time and time again. I've tried. Sometimes I've won, but many, many times, I've failed. I'm not holding you to a standard I can't live up to, I'm not pretending I'm better than you. Anyone reading this who knows me knows I'm the last person who should throw stones. So let's make this clear: I'm not saying I'm principled and you're not. That's not my point. Who knows, maybe you're a better person than I am. Could be.

The point is, when you come face to face with someone who actually HAS done these things, who has actually fought for their principles no matter how hard it was, then you respect it.

You respect them for it.

You don't play the victim.

You don't say, "Well it was easy for that person to not play the game I did. Sure, they can walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. Sure, they can not be completely full of bull-feces. Sure, they can actually live up to what they say... because they had privilege!"

Because, Mrs. Clinton, it's never easy. If it were easy for everyone of every gender, race, or class to be true to the principles they preach, history would be completely different. If that were true, then we would be living in a Star Trek The Next Generation utopia right now, instead of the whole juju-flop situation that we're in.

Let's reiterate: I'm not saying Bernie Sanders would necessarily make a better president than you. I'm not saying people should not vote for you. Everyone should be able to vote for whoever they want (whomever? I'm too lazy to look it up) and I'm sure your supporters are intelligent, well-informed people who have their reasons.

What I'm saying is that when someone (as far as we know) has a long history of being true to their principles and you haven't, then you don't try and spin it that you are somehow a victim. It's not the fault of sexism or misogyny or "privilege" that Bernie Sanders has a truer political record than you do - it's THE CHOICES YOU HAVE MADE.

It's sort of the same way I didn't want my son to learn from your husband that although everyone does things that are wrong, and mistakes shouldn't be forever held over anyone's head - when you're unquestionably caught committing a crime, especially as a leader, you don't vilify the man prosecuting you, and you don't use popularity as an excuse to escape punishment. But I digress.

So, Mrs. Clinton, you really want to be a feminist role model for my daughter? Then stop spinning the fact that Bernie has been truer to his principles as your own victimhood. You want to show her that you're the candidate that's strong enough to take responsibility for the presidency? Fine - then instead of spinning bullshit about "privilege," start by taking responsibility for you own goddamn record.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, February 01, 2016

Back in the 90s, I had a great idea for a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, about Jabba the Hutt secretly being an amateur photographer. It probably would have been a best seller. Then again, I would have lost my product placement deal when Disney decided his camera was no longer Canon...

TTFN
-Tony