Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Fragment - Ghosts of War Edition

Sometimes I feel like I've giving up writing.  I haven't, but I have for too long been undisciplined about it.  It seems strange now, but I used to feel guilty if I didn't have at least some kind of daily writing session.  Now I'm lucky if I allow myself one a week.

Last week, though, I had a session that put to shame my recent writing habits.  I took a late day nap, found myself waking up around bedtime, mind fresh and brimming with ideas.  I sat down and forged ahead, expanding on a few paragraphs I had started and abandoned. 

A thousand words later, I had a scene. Here it is.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Dmitri blinks blood out of his eyes. He attempts to roll over, trying to come to all fours so he can push himself back onto his feet, but he’s pinned and can’t move. A swirling dustcloud in the gray sky is all that is left of the obliterated building he had been standing in. Rubble had fallen all around him, burying him under layers of concrete, steel, and glass. Something pokes him in the side every time he takes a breath and his legs feel like they’re a mile away, crushed and hidden under debris, not really legs anymore, just a distant throbbing numbness.
The thought flashes in his mind:
I’m going to die from this.
This makes Dmitri angry and he makes a renewed effort to squirm out of his trap. The movement only makes pain explode in his bones, the spear in his side ripping new tears in his internal organs. The renewed warmth there, he realizes, is his own blood. He cries out, his voice barely a whisper above the shrill buzz in his ears. Explosions and thunder sound hollow in the distance, kicking up waves of particulates that continue to slap him in the face like a hot wind.
His body starts to go ice cold and his breathing becomes more ragged. Not long now, Dmitri thinks. At least it will be quick.
But then his mind drifts to his companion, an American named Monte. The two of them had been cowering at opposite ends of a heavy desk when the building disintegrated around them. A big man, bigger than Dmitri, Monte had no better chance of surviving the blast than Dmitri. He no doubt is lying a few feet away, crushed under the same rubble, dying in his own way. If he isn’t already dead.
Having no better last words, Dmitri calls out for his friend. The most likely response, he realizes, is silence, but he hopes for some sign that Monte is still there. Buried and twisted, broken and pierced, the most important thing it seems now is that he doesn’t go out alone.
After a few moments, there’s a response, Monte’s voice, muffled but close. He’s saying, “I got you. Hang on, man, I got you.” Over and over, “I got you.”
Dmitri can hear him digging, pulling debris out of the way, and then he feels a hand brushing dirt from his face and wiping blood out of his eyes. Monte’s dark face, eyes whiter than anything Dmitri has ever seen, staring down at him. His face is streaked with grime but otherwise, he looks untouched.
He says, “I got you.”
Dmitri watches him lift chunks of concrete and ceiling tile, scooping away the debris with his bare hands, relieving pressure bit by bit with each handful. Dmitri can breathe again, but each breath bubbles out through the jagged tear in his torso. Rebar, he can see now, attached to a section of roof, that first impaled him before toppling and gutting him like a fish.
His horror at the wound is matched in Monte’s eyes. Dmitri tries to say something, but his words get lost. Another try results in, “It’s bad, innit?”
“Don’t worry, man. I got you,” Monte says, his voice gentle and resolute. He frees Dmitri’s gnarled legs, stacking what is left of them into a parallel leg-shaped configuration, and he sets Dmitri’s arms, also broken, one bone sticking out at the elbow, to his sides.
Dmitri feels all of this at a distance, like he’s a remote observer experiencing the moment objectively. Monte yanks out the rebar. Blood spurts. Dmitri’s body contorts, his eyelids fluttering. It all happens over there as Dmitri watches from over here. He’s someone else now, somewhere else.
Monte’s hand closes Dmitri’s eyes and he leans down to whisper something in the dying man’s ear. The words are quiet, in a language and dialect that Dmitri’s fading mind cannot understand, but they are imbued with meaning. Dmitri can sense that, even as his consciousness drifts out of this life and into the next one, and he finds himself wanting to stick around to hear what Monte is saying. Dmitri forgets the pain, forgets the fatality of his wounds, and he listens.
And as he listens, he begins to feel a surge of warmth and light welling deep within his chest.
This is it, he thinks. This is what it feels like to die.
He takes in one final breath, and then he lets go. Darkness swallows him.
And spits him back out.
Dmitri gasps as he comes to on the rubble heap, Monte still crouched over him, dust still swirling in the sky, the battle still raging around them. Monte’s eyes are closed as if in prayer and his lips move in chant-like whispers. As if compelled by the power of Monte’s words, Dmitri’s broken body twitches as it begins to reform itself, vital organs and bones reconstituting, blood vessels splicing together, muscles finding tendons, wounds forming seams, then scars, then nothing at all.
The air tastes of blood and ash, and Dmitri is surprised he can taste it. He wiggles his toes and he feels them inside his boot. His hands clench at his sides, the elbow throbbing but no longer broken. His torn shirt flaps around the flawless skin that now covers an abdomen that had been moments before split open by a rebar knife.
Monte still hovers over him, his incantations still a mumble of nonsense, his eyes still closed.
Dmitri puts a trembling hand on his shoulder and Monte’s eyes open. Dmitri expects to see shock, considering the miracle that has just occurred, but he only sees relief.
Dmitri wipes blood out of his eyes. And then he sits up.

Monday, August 11, 2014

On Robin Williams Suicide

It coulda been me.

Don't know where I'm going, I just keep on rowing
I just keep on pulling, gotta row

Friday, August 01, 2014


One thing I enjoy about Christopher Nolan's movies is how much work he and his brother (his usual screen-writing partner) put into the scripts.  It's about telling a story, not about product-placement or international marketing.  It's about making the audience feel something.

A lot of the big movies this year have been absolute dreck.  Captain America:  The Winter Soldier?  I couldn't even tell you what that was about.  (Making money, I think.)  X-Men stank.  Transformers was unbearable.  So far, the only movies I've managed to care about while watching them were Edge of Tomorrow and the new Planet of the Apes, and even then only Planet of the Apes was able to get me with any heart.  (Edge of Tomorrow was merely clever.)

This new trailer for Interstellar is amazing.  Nolan packs more heart into a few minutes of clips than anything Marvel has done all year.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Rains

We must be in the middle of a mini-wet period here in Colorado.  Last October it rained for a week straight, washing out roads, flooding homes, business, and entire towns, and of course, destroying the roof over my storage closet.

This week, it's been raining since Tuesday night, and though weather reports said it would be tapering off last night, it's still raining.

From a gardening perspective, I say bring it.  My summer annuals are blooming and my veggies are producing. I just fertilized before the rains, so it's like a one-two punch of nutrition and moisture, and once the hot weather returns, the plants will be loving life.

But that said, I was kind of hoping for a semi-nice day today.   Truth is, I'm a Sexy Beast and this is my idea of paradise:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fury Road

When it was announced, I wasn't too enthused about a Mad Max remake.  But after watching this trailer, I can't wait to see it.  Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, the George Miller.

It's gonna be good.

Good One

Here we go again:
I'm tired of seeing white people on the silver screen.

First, let me note that I am white. I am a white woman who goes to the theater to see probably a dozen films (if not more) in a given year, a white woman who readily consumes TV shows and series and often blogs/tweets about them. I love film. I love what Hollywood could be, but I must say that I don't love what it is, and that is a machine generating story after story in which the audience is asked to root for a white (usually male) hero over and over and over (and over) again.
We get it.  You're a racist, sexist fool who has trouble picking her movies.  Next!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Slayer...on a Ukelele

This is an incredibly faithful rendition of Slayer's War Ensemble being played on a ukelele.  It's pretty awesome, even though you can't convincingly headbang while playing a ukelele.

I totally loved about a minute of it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I watched a documentary on Netflix about hippies who once lived at the Black Bear Commune in Northern California.  There was a time when I had a neutral-to-positive reaction to hippies, but I must admit:  Those days are over.

Now I can't decide if they're naive or just stupid.

Consider the Black Bear Commune.  It was founded by young idealists who wanted to escape mainstream society.  Their slogan was "Free land for free people."  Of course, that's just a slogan, not a policy, so they had to buy some land for their commune.  Being young idealist hippies, they had no money, so what did they do?

They went to Hollywood and started shaking down rock stars, telling them "you're profiting off our lifestyle, so you owe us."  As absurd as this is, some rock stars actually paid up and so the hippies bought Black Bear Ranch. 

As is common with Utopian settlements, the first few years were tough.  They almost starved in winter, and it took some going to figure out how to live with each other.  Since they were hippies, it was free love and nakedness all the time. 

But being reality, there had to be rules.  You couldn't sleep with the same person more than two nights in a row because it promoted couples, which if you think about it is every bit as oppressive a social convention as the one that demands monogamy.  Eventually, human nature being what it is, couples form anyway.

Towards the end, they discover that their "free land for free people" mantra has holes big enough to drive a cult through it.  When the Shiva Lila arrived at Black Bear, they were welcomed and allowed to stay.  But apparently hanging around a bunch of acid-taking baby-worshippers was too much, and the Shiva Lila were asked to leave.

"Hey, man, I thought it was free land for free people."

"Yeah, well...fuck you."

The history of the world right there.

Black Bear Ranch still exists today, even though all the old hippies left to seek fulfillment as individuals.  For me, it's on the "nice place to visit but wouldn't want to live there" list.

Monday, July 21, 2014

That's a Shot!

I know, I'm evil.  I really don't like "Pornstache" Mendez on Orange is the New Black, but I loved Pablo Schreiber's performance in this scene.

I found myself watching it over and over and over...

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Loretta Pearce - R.I.P.

My step-mom passed away on Monday after a long illness.  I had been long estranged from that side of the family for a variety of reasons, but when I got word on Friday that she was on her deathbed, I set those reasons aside and showed up at the hospital.

If I couldn't live with her, the least I could do is be there for her when she died.

I wasn't prepared for what I saw when I arrived.  My Dad, shockingly aged and frail in a way I've never seen before.  My step-brothers, one of whom I haven't seen in a over a decade, and his kids, neither of whom I've met.  And then my step-mom, laying half-sideways in the bed, medical equipment obscuring her swollen face.

When I looked at her, all the bitterness and anger dissipated and I just felt sadness and compassion.

I was on death watch for three days, while also trying to stay focused at work, and each day she got progressively worse.  By the end, she was at home, no longer connected to monitors, no longer receiving any medical treatment whatsoever, and she was barely conscious.

I sat down to say some final words, not sure if she could hear me.  I couldn't bring myself to say the words "I'm sorry" but I told her I loved her and that I was grateful.  She couldn't reply.

My Dad is heartbroken, kept aloft only by the optimistic dreams of a widower:  working on his train set, or selling everything and traveling the country in an RV.  I worry that optimism will be swallowed by grief in the coming months.  He may not be ready for the independence that has been suddenly foist upon him.

I was glad, at least, to get some closure.