Archive for the ‘rants’ Category

“I don’t get it.” Garrick said aloud as he shrugged. He considered responding to the post with “Tl;dr”, but that didn’t really convey his confusion. “WTF?” also came to mind, as did “lolwut” and “O_o”. In the end, however, he went with a simple “huh?” He pressed “enter” and sat back, waiting for the response.

Denyse boggled on her end of the screen. She had put forth a well detailed argument, complete with citations and examples (and links, even, dammit!) only to have it all negated with a four – character reply. God, how she longed, longed, to be able to reach through the computer screen and grab people by the throat and shake them exactly the way you’re never supposed to shake a baby. She was at a loss. She let loose a torrent of thought on the screen, possessed.

“The English language is made up of these things called ‘words’,” Denyse typed. “These ‘words’ stand for, are the place-holders for, these things called ‘ideas’. ‘Ideas’ are the the things that are traded back and forth between sentient creatures in a process called ‘conversation’. One ‘idea’ leads to another one, and so forth and so on, until a thing called ‘understanding’ is achieved. I could tell you, for example, that water is wet. You might reply that beer is also wet. This might lead us into a thing called a ‘discussion’ on the differences and similarities between beer and water. What is not allowed, however, is this bullshit about one person responding ‘huh?’ to something that was so clearly laid out as what I wrote to you. Are you saying that I lost you somewhere? Where did that happen? What does ‘huh?’ mean? What is ‘huh?’ a response to? You are, ostensibly, a functional adult. Use words.” Enter.

Now, Garrick was hurt. A little bit. Denyse and her big brain. Her big words. Her logic, that he was never allowed to argue with. The one big word that occurred to him at times like these was ’emasculating’. If she provoked an emotional response out of him, however, it would mean that she had won. He pursed his lips. Popped his knuckles. Concentrated.

“What I meant by, ‘huh?’,” Garrick haltingly began, “was that I don’t understand why you think that it would be such a bad thing for people to have their health and well being monitored for them, for their own good. What’s wrong with a restaurant suggesting a lighter option for a customer, if the waiters can tell at a glance on a screen that this person’s heading towards type II diabetes, for example?” It had taken Garrick quite a while to type that out. He’d had to make constant references back to Denyse’s original post, just to make sure he wasn’t about to mis-quote or mis-understand her. Denyse was known to be quick witted; however, the speed of her reply still jarred. As though she had been watching over Garrick’s shoulder as he typed, she thundered back.

“Have you ever heard of the concept of ‘agency’?” Denyse asked. “Does the thought of ‘personal responsibility’ ring a bell? Why should the body politic, be it collectivist, statist, or capitalist, have any say in the affairs of the citizenry, especially when it comes to such personal issues as health? Have all notions of privacy been thrown away? Has -”

The screen went blank. Garrick looked over his shoulder. His boss looked on, shaking his head ruefully. “Another failure,” he sighed, shutting the ‘Denyse’ program down.

Garrick nodded. “We’ll get it, eventually. Just a little bit more tweaking. The last ‘Denyse’ was a little too much of a sycophant; this one … well, you can see the problems. A bit more ‘tough love’ than we really need.”

“Right,” the boss agreed. “We need to dial it in. Come up with a personality that most people will accept, that won’t rub people the wrong way. This app is gonna go on everything, after all. Can’t have it going around spouting off about stuff over everybody’s head.”

 

words © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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This is sort of a “sideways” story, a tangent from Allosaurus. You don’t really have to read any of that to get anything out of this, if you don’t want to, or if you already read enough about Fran and Palmetto Bug Man. Just a thought that I had from listening to Laurie Anderson this afternoon.

“Who told the 80’s they could come back, anyway?” Morgan sighed, in between bites of his sandwich. “Popped collar polos, Ray Bans, bright ass colors … and this music you kids listen to these days!” He took a long pull from his extra large size soda. “Not one original guitar riff! Not one! Jesus Christ, I liked Vampire Weekend a lot better when they were called Peter Gabriel -”

“Sir,” the young woman behind the deli counter started, ” you sound a little bit … agitated.” “Sir” and “agitated” were said as though they were questions. The young woman continued. ” I’m going to have to ask you to calm yourself down a little bit, mmk?”

“Don’t take that tone with me!” Morgan blurted. “Who are you, my wife? ‘Calm down’, she says-”

“It’s just that we’re showing some elevated signals here on your blood pressure and anxiety levels.” The young woman pressed a few buttons on a console in front of her. “Plus, it looks like you lied to me earlier. You had a regular cola just the other day.” She extended a hand to him. “You’ll I have to give me that one back and accept a diet lemon/lime or water.”

“Oh, really?” Morgan sneered. “No unsweetened ice tea?”

“Hmm. Nope. You’d be over your caffeine limit for the day.”

“You. Have got. To be. Kidding.” But, the young woman was resolute, and Morgan couldn’t afford another interaction with the Powers That Be. He gave the young woman back the cup with a sigh. “Lemon/lime,” he muttered, a broken man.

It was during his last tango with the Powers That Be that he’d been put on a modified potassium diet. A bit moody and restless, they’d said. More bananas, they’d ordered. Morgan hated bananas – yellow, mushy, obscene. Who knew what horrors they’d introduce him to next time? Gluten – free? Morgan grew up on his mom’s baked spaghetti. Not happening.

Just then, Morgan’s pedometer broke in. “Look, I don’t wanna start anything,” the pedometer said in a pleasant, slightly matronly tone, “but you’ve got another 4,000 steps to go before six p.m. this evening. Now would be a good time to start walking in place, don’t you think? I mean …” The pedometer trailed off, the audio version of a rather passive/aggressive shrug. Morgan rolled his eyes and began to march about in place.

The screen above the counter displayed the news of the day. Morgan glanced up to read as he continued his lunch – gulp, step, gulp, chew, step, step, step.  Gulp, step, gulp, chew, step, step, step. Bombings over here. Shootings at this school or other. Building collapses. Weirdos in spandex making a mess of things in Saint Pete. Gulp, step, gulp, chew, step, step, step. He looked around the deli. The other customers seemed to be engaged in the same shuffling dance, with eyes on TV screens or smart phones or tablets. The same matronly voice from the pedometers exhorting the dancers. From the tablets. From the TVs. A safe, soothing, comforting voice.

words (except “O Superman”, which is linked from youtube and is by Laurie Anderson) © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

6.

Posted: June 5, 2013 in rants, utter crap
Tags: , , ,

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Things have been fairly dark lately. I haven’t wanted to write about it much, because who wants to hear someone whining about how bad life is going? Things are tough all over, bub. Get over it.

Suffice it to say, the new meds for the brain cyst may or may not be affecting my outlook on life. I really should’ve been enjoying the most recent concert I played in. I should be looking forward to the gigs I got coming up.

One of the things that I really like about the TV show The Prisoner, was the suggestion that it really didn’t matter what side that the spy worked for. Future human civilization was going to be collectivist, whether you sided with capitalism or socialism. I don’t know. I just know I better get my penny farthing bike out of the deal.

Went to the neurologist this afternoon. She looked over the MRIs and what not. Told me I have an arachnoid cyst on the right hemisphere. It could be the thing responsible for the weakness on the left side, the loss of ability to speak, and the general “things ain’t working right”-ieness I’ve been dealing with the last couple of years.

A cyst.

In my brain.

That none of the other MRIs caught, at all.

Um, what?

Um, what?

I don’t know what else to say, so here is a picture I took of a steel pan, a conga drum and a pineapple. Enjoy it.

 

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

Today, I learned something. I couldn’t go to work, because I could barely walk. I can’t get in to see a doctor til next Thursday. My room mate, “Constance” and I, took her son to pay off a fine he had. She uses a walker; I use a cane. In addition to her needing the walker for her situation, she also has a sprained ankle. So, here we are: guy with cane, chick with walker, both under fifty, barely creeping along through a parking lot. See it? Amusing. Neither of us expected to find ourselves in our forties looking like Ma and Pa Kettle, but there it is.

Anyway, I said I learned something. Last week, I went to work every day, left the cane behind the counter, and ran (figuratively) all over the shop. Grabbing saxophones down from the walls, moving the stand-up bass around, whatever. Carrying on like a regular person. A while back, Constance was feeling, as she put it, “cocky” and decided that her sprained ankle wasn’t that bad, and hopped all around on it.

She fell and re-injured her ankle.

I must’ve over-done it, and now can’t even lift my feet. I am walking like a shuffling zombie, a Scooby Doo monster.

We sat in the lobby of the DMV together, commiserating. I thought I should be getting better, not having days where things get worse. She felt the same way. What she said, however, was this:

“I don’t look at it any more as, ‘my ankle’s getting better’. I look at it like ‘today my ankle is doing good’ or ‘not so good’. We gotta learn to take the good days when we can get ’em.”

Hope you are taking the good days when you can get ’em, you lot.

This picture is called "Pretty Good Match" because I used a photo editing tool to blank out a weird looking dark blotch on it. I took it on one of the "good" days, so it's appropriate.

This picture is called “Pretty Good Match” because I used a photo editing tool to blank out a weird looking dark blotch on it. I took it on one of the “good” days, so it’s appropriate.

 

 

 

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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The bus ride  seemed to stretch on for a cold, overly air conditioned eternity. It was crowded – everyone in Pinellas County seemed to be on this one bus. The seats are close together. This means that someone with long legs such as myself can find no comfortable way to sit in a bus seat. In short, it was your typical bus ride.

After I had seen a few more sunrises and sunsets, I finally arrived at my destination. A car ride here would have taken, maybe, 30 minutes tops. But, on the bus, it takes you sooo much longer. I hobbled off the bus and went into the office of the MRI device.

“We’ll need you to fill out this ream of paper work before we begin,” the nurse told me. “If your pen runs out of ink, just ask us for another one at the desk.” I am, now, officially tired of seeing my own name. I think I filled out less paperwork the last time I bought a car.

“Do you have claustrophobia, mister Ward? There’s not really much we can do about it if you do, we just I want to be able to say why when you start freaking out.” And with that I was loaded into a tube, with headphones placed on my ears and a plastic cage over my head. “What kind of music do you want to hear?” the technician asked me.

“Uh, reggae?”

Soon, Bob Marley begin singing about his 3 little birds in my ears. Only to be immediately drowned out by the sound of the world’s largest electric toothbrush committing unspeakable acts. This went on for the better part of half an hour. I closed my eyes, clenched my teeth, and thought of England. (Why are so many medical procedures reminiscent of the sort of things that you find in an S&M dungeon? Not saying it’s a bad thing; just wondering.)

It finally ended. “Shabba!” And just like that, I was extracted from the tube. I was dazed, I was confused, but I wasn’t happy about it.

“Your doctor will let you know about the results in a few days,” the tech said. I had noticed that he and the other techs were dancing in the little room that they check on the progress of the MRI. Glad someone could enjoy the music.

“Can I take a picture of that infernal machine?”

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

So, I finished the rough draft of the first book of Allosaurus. I did a quick and dirty word count, and it comes out to just around 19,300 words. Those of you who are familiar with National Novel Writing Month know that the goal is 20,000 in one month.

Took me seven.

Still, it’s the first time I’ve written that kind of volume without being on some sort of manic episode – thus, putting the tales of Fran and Palmetto-Bug Man ahead of the original Ashland* by leaps and bounds. Also, the original Ashland has been, mercifully, lost. So, yay meds.

A lot of people look at writing as homework that you have to do, every day, for the rest of your life. Forgot who said that. It doesn’t feel too far off the mark. But there was also an element that felt like I was compelled to write. Even on days when I was tired, or didn’t “feel” like it, Fran and company beckoned. I could see her in my head, arms folded, foot tapping. “Dude, let’s go!” she’d exclaim, while Fenris and Pamela checked their watches. “I got asses to kick! C’mon!” And so I’d follow them along, writing as I went. When I would try and write something that was out of character for them, they would look back at me, incredulously. “You know I wouldn’t do that,” Mister Vanglorious would say. This made it a bit difficult to stick to the original plan of my story, in which Fran dies. It also allows me to go further in exploring what I really want to write about with these characters, which is the way a person can become a monster – and how they can, maybe, win back their humanity.

Speaking of Mister Vanglorious, there are several characters that I “borrowed” from my best friend Doc. Doc’s a hardcore gamer, with experience working in the industry designing peripherals. He’s that serious. He came up with D – Nforcer, Vanglorious and Arctica Winters as avatars for DC Online and Champions Online. Thing is, he more or less killed them off in the games, so I was only too happy to give them new life in Allosaurus. Thanks, Doc.

 

*Ashland is a story I’ve been writing on and off for about twenty years, in all honesty. The basic theme of Ashland is the way things lose their real value when everything has a price. I stopped writing it because, as a satire, it slowly became indistinguishable from reality.