Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fleshing out My Story/Characters

These suggestions have been really helpful. I'm leaning more and more towards the character of Rhettard being just unbelievably genre savvy and completely resigned to a simple life, having had the concept of being hopelessly irrelevant hammered into him at an early age. The bulk of the main part should be Rhett encountering common fairytale devices and being completely unwilling to take part in the madness. On occasion, he'll try and offer up simple advice, common sense and have it brushed aside. His last misadventure should see him falsely accused of a crime and locked in the palace dungeon. The Wizard/Sage character will invariably see something deep in him and offer him a job instead of execution.

Rhett for his part will probably enjoy his job as the Prince's valet. I mean, it's hard, thankless work that more or less involves him working as a servant to someone totally fabulous and amazing. I've been toying with the idea of The Wizard secretly being Rhett's dad, having placed him in the village of Canticle for the express purpose of keeping him safe. Rhett's special in his own mundane way, inasmuch as magic can't really effect him. Therefore the Queen and her spells don't just bounce off of him... He's just genetically too boring for the magic to even notice him... Like a gentle wave, it washes over him and dissipates elsewhere.

My years in Wrassle have actually helped me piece this story together. All of the main characters are at least partially inspired by my long time friends and cohorts that I've interacted with over the years.

Rhett's basically me at my most self-deprecating, cynical and self-conscious. He's not a cog in the machine, he's the rag used to clean up the machine.

The Captain of the Guard is very much a Cartoony Vin Diesel-esqe type oozing sexuality yet oblivious to the concept of sex itself. I imagine him being raised in a military type school. He's good-natured and impossibly strong, everyone's best chum and virtually dimwitted. He's more of less the heart of the group.

The Sage is more or less kindly, befuddled and a master of failing to live up to expectations. But deep within is a master of incalcuable power. He's been hitting the pipe in order to forget Rhett... A bit out of guilt for abandoning his son and also to avoid ever having to give up his location. He's been smoking for so long, he's actually forgotten why he started.

The Prince is everyone's ideal with just a hint of sadness. His mother died during his birth and despite his happy demeanor, he secretly blames himself. Despite that, to every other character, he appears idealistic and wide-eyed. He's spent his entire life dreaming of doing more than simply sitting on the throne. His time in the library, his training sessions with The Captain have convinced him that he could be a great hero... Do great things, if only he'd be allowed out of the castle. In his mind, he has to. There are more things, more meaningful things to be accomplished on the road... Besides, if he makes a big enough difference than maybe his mother's death might have meant something.

Sure, The Queen and her Vizier are both horribly conniving individuals in their bid for power. But, despite their glaring flaws, they both truly love each other... Even if they both happen to be horribly sleazy sexual deviants.

So, I'm gonna' be working over the course of the year to piece all of this together. Expect appearances from a Friendly Hunter type archetype (Perhaps overly friendly)... A forest full of talking animals led by a King Fox... Animals that everyone can hear... Well, everyone except for Rhett, that is.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Movie/Novel Pitch

So anyways, I've been out of touch for a while. To be honest, been completely busy doing nothing. Nothing but watching sweet 1980's-1990's animated film classics. That's right, Liesi's entered the ever dreaded Disney princess phase. And it got me to thinking... Many of the main characters in these stories are horrible bitches. That's right. Ariel and Belle in particular live in wonderful little communities one under the sea and one in quiet "provincial" France.

What's more, they live in a world where it's totally common place for large scale, wildly choreographed musical numbers to break out. Man, I don't know about you, but I'd be a little less inclined to bitch about my lot in life if I got to take part in chorus lines each and every day. I'd have much better luck with the ladies if all I had to do to truly win the heart of my beloved was to sing a haunting and evocative song from my heart.

No, it's not enough. These women have bigger dreams. And that's fine. But, they're pretty uncouth about it. Calling your home a "little town full of little people" seems pretty scathing to me. And it got me thinking about a character concept for a fairy tale that I've been tossing around in my head.

What if instead of a town filled with salt of the earth blue collar bumpkins and one idealistic dreamer wanting to take on the world, the ratio was reversed? Imagine if you will, an entire fantasy village filled with singing, dancing dynamos each with their own agendas, hopes and dreams...

And one guy who just wants to work and live a simple life. A guy without a lick of the magic sonatic skills that all of his fellow citizens possess. Imagine the frustration of having to live in such a group, all the while realizing that you yourself are not special, not chosen and utterly remarkable in your lack of remarkability. Being called a retard. No, not as in mentally retarded. As in reh-tard... Like a break in a musical composition. And knowing that try as you might, you'll never be more than an extra in the grand production that is your day to day life.

Now imagine that town being informed of an oncoming attack, be it by dragon, by army or what have you. The town rallying behind one massive song of war... Until someone else comes along with another song. And then another. And then another. All plans of survival. All well-intentioned and expertly sung. All wasting precious time as our hero goes about trying to simply explain that the best course of action is to simply run. Imagine those cries of common sense falling upon deaf ears. And imagine the sadness as our hero manages to get out at the last possible second... Alone.

An entire town filled with spectacular heroes and heroines, cut down in the blink of an eye simply because no one could put their ego aside to cooperate. Our hero would journey forth, trying to find his place in the world, not seeking adventure, mind you. Just seeking a regular 9-5 in a quiet little burg. Just trying to forget the tragedy. Now, as he ventures forth, he's finally cued in on the fact that he IS in fact special. And was placed in the magical village as a babe as a precautionary measure... Hidden from a dark sorcerer trying to avert a dark prophecy.

But, he wants none of it. He just wants to be normal. Unspectacular. Hell, he'd learned to live with it all these years. Never had people give him so much of a sideways glance except to tell him how plain and boring he was. He runs away and finds a new life working as a valet to a prince of a kingdom. A prince who's impressed by his honesty and common sense. In this adult fairy tale, (And yes, I do intend this to be a bit more of a risque fractured fairytale) his best friends are the kindhearted prince who longs for a life of adventure... The captain of the guard, a fantastically muscled and fit man who'd completely oblivious to the appreciative glances he gets from all of the maidens in the court.... And the Prince's Sage a lovable old fool, a magician who gleans his power by inhaling the fumes of a sacred herb and conjuring figments of his imagination into reality... Usually edible figments, mind you.

All is right in the kingdom for a while until after being a widower for years, The King decides to remarry. And yes, as per the usual, the bride to be is a horrible mistress of darkness who plans to rule the kingdom with an iron fist. Her vizier and lover has informed her that the only man standing in her way was murdered long ago once a certain singing village was purged. The prince and his pals naturally catch on that the queen apparent is an evil hag and after witnessing her totally boning her vizier are all set to tell daddy... So, naturally they're not killed. Just sent very, very far away via magic, hopefully keeping them out of the way until the day of the nuptials....

And thus the quest begins. A race against time to save a far off land.

It's a rough idea, people. Let me know what you think.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Fantasy Sport Can Kick Your Fantasy Sport's Ass Part 2

So anyways, you're probably wondering just how this game works, what with all of the creative writing and whatnot. Or maybe you're not. In that case, stop reading. What follows will only bore and possibly irritate you. But, if you do choose to read on, think of the game as one big ongoing screenplay where talented writers constantly work off of each other in order to achieve some semblance of a coherent story. Below are 4 posts from today. 2 from others and two from myself. Earlier today, a message was posted on our Out of Character board, or OOC, detailing a basic storyline suggestion in order to spur some activity;

"You have been assigned a job to perform by Kenny Moss. Your mission is to pick the equipment formerly belonging to Kirsty Alley up from the American-Canadian border.

You have a two post minimum for this job. If you meet the minimums, you will earn the rights to challenge for the CWA King of The Dungeon championship at any time of the day, any day during the week. Interlopers will each receive $500 wrasslebucks."

On the In Character Board, a newcomer named Michael War did an introductory post, fleshing out his character a bit and trying to leave a spot open for someone to work off of him.

"After entering the CWA I had been keeping myself under the radar in order to settle and train myself up to my maximum ability, today however was different. Whilst walking back from the gym area of the Sportsplex back to the locker room I saw someone who seemed to be staring at me, I tried to ignore it but as I walked past they started to follow me and then shouted over.

[???] Oi you don't belong here, look at you, you look weak, you will get tossed about this place like a ball, just leave now whilst you still got all your bones in one piece.

I turn around to face this wrestler.

[Michael] is this a challenge you offering me or you just talking?

[????] Do you know who I am?

[Michael] No not really, as I sure your aware I am not just new to this federation but to this Country, but what you don't know is this is not my first rodeo. I have competed in federations over the other side of the Atlantic and well lets just say the new challenge excites me, but seems your not challenging me then I will be off.

I turned my back on this mystery wrestler knowing he would attack so I left it about 10 seconds before turning back around to confront this mystery wrestler stopping him mid move.

[Michael] If you want to attack me do it in the ring, how about this Wednesday? oh and finally who are you?


Not that bad for a newcomer. So, I decided to jump in and throw the kid a bone.

So anyways, to be honest, I just don't think this kid's got it. Ok build, not to shabby looking, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm not too impressed by what I see. Especially since he's broken the cardinal rule of locker room etiquette; Not knowing just who the hell I am. I straighten up, polish off my newly won title belt with the sleeve of my shirt and stare him down.

[Me] Oh, don't crack wise and pretend that you don't know, kid. I'm the breathtaking, heartbreaking legend in the making, Matt McDervish. Former One World Champion and YOUR current reigning and perpetually defending CWA King of the Dungeon.

He flashes me a dubious look and to be fair, I don't really blame him. I've always been something of a journeyman wrestler, a bottom of the top of the card or top of the bottom of the card type of guy. Still, I've been kicking around for something like 11 years. I breathe a sigh of frustration, shake my the ennui from my head and offer my hand.

[Me] Matt McDervish. And what's all this talk of seeing you in the ring? Did I miss the part where Chain and Kenny offered you the book?

And I'm greeted with a ten yard stare.

[War] Huh??

[Me] The book? Booking rights?

Still, I get the same ten yard stare. He shakes it off and stares me down, hoping to illicit something like fear in my calm, collected and taciturn demeanor. It's a fruitless effort. This kid's impressive looking, but he doesn't rattle me for a second. I've faced bigger and better and always come out smelling like a rose. Plus, I'm the one with the hardware slung over my tanned and muscled shoulder.

[Me] Look, kid... I'd lose that sour look that you've got slapped across your face. You may be the bee's knees across the pond, and God knows it, I've spent my time over there...

For a moment, I look deep into the distance, remembering my glorious days in the ol' NHE.

[Me] But, this is North America, boyo. And right here, you've got to pay your dues... Earn your spot. We've got big time vets like myself, like former Barroom Brawl Champ Amp, guys like Flip Dingo and Obese, who I bet have won more matches than you've have dates... And talented rookies like The Williams boys and Michael Harkness. This is gonna' be a long climb to the top for you...

The look upon his face tells me that he'd hadn't planned on that, so I decide to throw in;

[Me] But, I like you. I don't know why, but I do. Tell you what, kid, I'm only here until the 15th or so... For the next few days, you stick with me and it'll all be gravy. Then, when I head back up to either the UWF or the TWF, I'll keep an eye on you. Talk to Slick or Nikki, get you a shot at one of the better leagues.

I can tell by his relaxed body language that he's starting to become more and more comfortable with me. And why not? I'm an ok guy. A family man. A veteran. And the kind of guy that can give a struggling kid the advice that he needs to make it in this bus9ness.

[War] Alright, then... Shoot, man. what do I need to do?

That's more like it.

[Me] Well, for starters, don't go around just looking for fights. See, we don't get paid to fight back here... That way you cringed when I tried to get a loose thread off of your shirt...

He looks at me incredulously. Of COURSE he thought I was attacking him when he whirled around. But, me? I don't roll like that. I'm more of a stab you in the front kind of guy.

[War] Well, how was I supposed to know?

[Me] You'd know if you were studying tapes. Everything that happens on screen, that's the stuff you need to be studying up on.

My cellphone beeps. And guess who? It's the indomitable Kenny Moss, asking me if I happen to know of any rookies that need a little exposure right now that don't mind a little dirty work. A smile turns up the corners of my lips.

[Me] Hey, kid. How do you feel about paying some dues right now and meeting a bonafide legend in this sport, as well as a possible future Hollywood connection?

TBC by,,,,,,,,????

The post would be continued by an old friend of mine, a filthy, grimy, surly drunk named Hooligan.

Matt McDervish: Hey, kid. How do you feel about paying some dues right now and meeting a bonafide legend in this sport, as well as a possible future Hollywood connection?

The kid was about to answer Matt, when suddenly a glass bottle goes sailing between the two of them. Just inches from hitting either one of them, the bottle goes sailing by and smashes against the floor a few steps in front of them. The two stand straight up almost as if expecting something to happen...

Michael War:
So what is your advice in this situation?

Matt looks out of the corner of his eyes, not once looking at the kid directly as he's expecting someone to jump him and Michael from behind.

Matt McDervish:
Well...umm...I'd probably...

...get into the [beep] fetal position and start crying for that lazy bastard, Dan Haven to come save your ass.

Matt's eyes go wide, he recognizes that voice instantly. He's now really fighting the urge to crawl into the fetal position in front of Michael War, if he does that...the kid isn't going to listen to a word that Matt has to say.

Matt McDervish:
I'd probably...umm...uhh...

Matt is stumbling here.

What's wrong Matt?

Michael War, being one to prove that this isn't his first rodeo begins to spin around to face this foul mouthed person standing behind them. Matt quickly notices and grabs the Michael by the arm, preventing him from seeing who is behind them.

Matt McDervish:
I wouldn't advise doing that...

Matt says that quietly, so much so that Michael didn't quite hear that.

Michael War:
It's just one guy, there's two of us.

Matt McDervish (Still whispering): Trust me, if this was any other wrassler...I'd say let's beat the living daylights out of them...but this guy is not the guy you wanna start a fight me.

Come on Matt...turn around you chicken [beep].

Matt looks over at Michael, beads of sweat now beginning to roll down his forehead and into his eyes. He doesn't want to look bad in front of the kid, but he also doesn't want to get into a fight with the man with the familiar voice either.

Matt McDervish: Dammit...

He lets out a sigh before continuing...

Matt McDervish: goes nothing. Follow my lead and whatever you do, don't say anything that'll piss him off. He's got a really short fuse and whatever you do, don't under estimate him. He's not what he appears to be.

Matt turns around and faces the direction the voice was coming from, as does Michael. What the two see is an instantly recognizable face from Wrassling's past, The Drunken Brawler himself...Hooligan.

It's about time Matt, was thinking you were [beep] yourself at just the sound of my voice.

TBC BY ???

Naturally, I was quick to jump on the opportunity to work with a familiar character, one who Matt's already got an established history with.

So anyways, the day that I had always feared would come was at hand. Hooligan, his breath reeking of malted hops and pretzled bread had come to reek a terrible and bloody vengeance. Or just to reek. Either way, it brings a tear to this old ring warrior's eye. I take a deep breath (from my mouth, I can't stand that New Jersey turnpike stench anymore) and turn around. God, he's even more ugly than I remember. I do my best to slap a huge, welcoming grin across my shivering and shaking face.

[Me] Oh, Hooligan!!! Man, how long's it been?? Two, three years???

And he spits on the ground, a blackish and vile expectoration that nearly turns my stomach. Well, that's Hooligan, people. All class, all the time. The guy's face is a roadmap of scars and wrinkles, the visage of a man who's seen more than a few battles in his time. The kind of guy that would take a bottle to the face just to deliver a kick to the grundle. As a guy who's trained more than a few students in the "Catch-as-catch-can Style" of pro wrestling, by every right I should be able to take this guy out with no trouble. But, for all of his drunken antics, for all of his dim-wittedness and obstinance, I can't help but respect the guy for all he's done in the sport.

Also, part of me is scared to death of the bugger.

The part that's threatening to run down my leg.

[Hooligan] Not that f***ing long. We were in CWA less than a year ago together. Back when you wanted to start that Epic Epidemic s***.

I nod slowly. It wasn't one of my more well thought out plans. Bringing Stonewall, Demonica Vile, Johnny Rude and Hooligan together for one massive stable had lead to one of the worst headaches that I'd ever had. Plus, with all those big names came even bigger egos. The games of phone tag that I'd had to play that week were enough to give me repetitive stress syndrome and sour me from ever organizing a phone tree ever again.

[Me] Yeah, don't even get me started on-

And he cuts me off without ever taking his eyes off the jolly green giant standing to my left. Mike's been shifting back and forth on his feet, jockeying for position. Why do I feel like tonight's gonna' end with me making a desperate drive to one of Canada's many free health care clinics?

[Hooligan] I heard you were in town. Wanted to see it for myself.

He sniffs for a second before blowing a huge snot-rocket into a disgusting looking rag that he removes from his back pocket. Micheal gags, but I give him a look that lets him know that he is in no uncertain terms not to offend this guy. I've seen that rag, or rags like it doused in 150 proof liquor and used as fireballs.

[Hooligan] Now, I see.

And he reaches for me, probably to bash my brains out for some imagined slight. I know it's unmanly and undignified but I visibly cringe, all the while trying to formulate an escape strategy. The pat I receive on my shoulder nearly causes me to have a heart attack. Still the look on his face is no longer one of grit and boiling rage. A smile, or what passes for one on my long time associate greets my trepidatious eyes.

[Hooligan] How's it been, ya old f***????

I breath a sigh of relief. Good, he remembers that we're friends. Sometimes, with all the boozing and the headbumps, the guy tends to get downright forgetful. That kind of amnesia can be dangerous to pretty much everyone in the vicinity.

[Me] The same old routine. You know, bad diner food, bounced checks. Oh!!!

And I flash him a new piece of bling that I'm rocking. No, not the CWA King of the Dungeon Title. That s***'s a 24/7 title that can be contended anywhere and everywhere at any time. I dropped that strap the second I heard the shatter of the whiskey bottle followed by Hooly's raspy, gravelly voice. No, instead I show the guy my brand new engagement ring. Yes, I realize that it's not manly for a guy to have an engagement band, but Tawnee INSISTED that I have something to warn the various ringrats that I was taken.

[Hooligan] Ugh, not you too, kid... How is it that every single one of my friends has to f***ing go off and get married or become addicted to World of Warcraft or some s***???

And I have to chuckle.

[Me] Heh.

[Hooligan] It's not funny, dips***. Mike's got a real problem with that f***ing game!!!

I shake my head and can barely contain the Cheshire Cat grin the threatens to split my face.

[Me] No, it's not that... You just called me a "friend".

Quickly, he takes a step backwards.

[Hooligan] No, I f***ing didn't!! I said f**. "How come every single one of you f**s"-??

[Me] You said "friend", alright... Wait a minute... Did you come to the CWA... Because you missed me????

[Hooligan] Shut the f*** up!!!!

And suddenly, we hear her voice. It's loud and it's naggy. It's my fiance.

[Tawnee] Language!!

And my kid, apparently. I haven't seen her in a few days, but who's the first person she goes running to?

[Bella] Unca' HOOLY!!!!

The pint sized three and a half year old nearly bowls over the 250 lb wrestler with her big leaping hug. Despite himself, Hooligan catches her in his arms and tosses her up in the air, bringing squeals of joy from my daughter's lips. Tawnee reaches into her purse and brings out a bottle of Purel, but I wave her off, not wanting to spoil such a beautiful moment. Michael War isn't so concerned with the Hallmark Card nature of the situation.

[War] Well, is that just f***ing hilarious? HA, H-

And before the second "HA" leaves his lips, he hits the ground. My daughter continues to squeal in delight, blissfully unaware that her "Unca Hooly" had just headbutted a grown man between the eyes as he held her. Hooly expels one last long line of slimy saliva, hitting the kid square on the back, before muttering;

[Hooligan] Language.

I groan and bend down to help the kid up. Part of me wants to leave him here, knowing that because of the way he was eyeballing Hooligan, he's due for at least another handful of beatings like this from the Drunken Brawler. But, I also know that those beatings are exactly what the kid needs. Hey, there's all kinds of ways to pay your dues.

TBC by.....???

Well, as you can see, this sort of thing can go on for days on end between "shows". Just good old fashioned RPG action, without the stigma of rolling a polyhedron. Still pretty lame. But, it's my kind of lame.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Fantasy Sport Can Kick Your Fantasy Sport's Ass Part 1

So anyways, I guess it's time to come clean. I am, for all intents and purposes, a huge honking dork. There, I've said it. Maybe you've said it from time to time as well. Which, I've got to say, stings more than just a little bit. I forgive you, though because for the last 11 years, I've dedicated a good portion of my free time to sitting behind a computer screen, living a secret double life as an idealized version of myself. I'm not the only person guilty of engaging in a little escapist fun either. Every time I sign onto my Facebook account, I find myself besieged by requests from friends to join their mob. It's weird, as I didn't even know that half of my friends were Italian, let alone Mafiosa. I get requests from would-be farmers, asking me to aide them in fertilizing their fields, yet when I go through the trouble of hitching a ride to their house, dropping trou' and popping a squat on their yard, law enforcement is quick to arrive at the scene. "What's the deal?", I'll shriek. "Look, if you let me go, I guarantee that I can help turn state's evidence on some genuine mobsters... I'm pretty sure that I've got an in." After getting out of lockup, I'll head to a bar and incredulously listen as grown men ,who upon first inspection appear to be nothing more than rough hewn factory workers and mechanics wax poetic about how well the Dallas Cowboys are doing under their management.

hen, I go home, thankful to be away from such insanity. Moments later, I'll fire up the ol' Dell and lose myself in a world of seedy dive bars, sweat stained canvas and epic battles between good and evil. I, Matt... Am now, and have been for the last 11 years, an E-Fed wrestler. For over a decade a pudgy, hardnosed brawler from Connecticut who goes by the name of Matt McDervish has entertained the virtual crowds. He's fought for twenty dollars in front of a few dozen rednecks in a parking lot, he's sold out the fictional Steeplechase Arena in an alternate version of NYC, he's traveled to the very depths of hell in order to save his father's soul. He's found love, lost it, found it again, learned to balance a career and fatherhood and made peace with the inner demons that had threatened to consume his very being. He's engaged in a menage trois with with robot buddy and a nymphomaniac outpatient. He's fought tooth and nail against Cyborg Hitler.

ll, while I've sat here, red eyed and exhausted, clicking away at the keyboard. I've missed parties, blown
off dates and eschewed sleep just to continue a never-ending, always weaving, ever-changing tale of an underdog grappler with more stones than brains. I tell myself that there's a method to the madness. A rhyme to my reason. Some sort of sensible solution to this activity that crossed the line from quirky hobby to shameful obsession ages ago. My writing's gotten better, I'll admit. Hell, it should have, seeing as how 95% of the game is based upon storytelling. And not just your own stories, either. Your character becomes public domain within the confines of the game. Anything can happen and you just have to roll with the changes or get buried. Hell, because of one line in another person's post, Matt went three months as a sufferer of erectile dysfunction... With hilarious results.

y temper's gotten better too. A lot of times, we as humans tend to get furious, feeling control of our destiny slipping between our fingers. Thanks to McDervish, I seldom feel that way. I've had a hard day at work? No problem. I'll just vent through some creative writing and have Matt encounter a certain regional manager in a dark alley. As ridiculous and lame as it may sound, creative writing has been a source of amazing catharsis over the years. When I have a problem in real life, I just have McDervish experience it. In that little fishbowl, in the microcosm of the universe that I can control, solutions open up to me.

I've picked up other skills as well... For example, about ten years ago, I knew next to nothing about graphic design. Since I first logged onto, I was amazed at the astoundingly professional looking avatars that people would display next to their posts. Little by little, I learned the tricks of the trade... My first pictures were abysmal and laughable... But, over time I got good enough that people would IM me in the dead of night asking ME to throw something together for them... And I was only too happy to oblige.

hat's why, when you look at this site, you'll notice that it at times, can be fairly graphic heavy. Most are rush jobs, but all are done by yours truly on my adobe photoshop. I've wrassle to thank for that skill. Which, by the way is a skill that any of you can take advantage of. Want a niftier facebook pic than every one else? Let me know. Well, it's getting late, guys... And I've got a match.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Caring Means Scaring Part 2

So anyways, folks, here I am. Back with another crazy blog filled with obscure cultural references and cautionary tales of how NOT to raise a child. The other day, because Liesi was still so freaked out by the supposed "ghost" in her room, I actually salted the doorway and windowsill. I've mentioned salt before, but for the uninitiated, salt is THE go-to solution for all things demonic and otherworldly. The whole thing started before the middle ages, where salt was viewed as a pure substance because of its preservative qualities with food not to mention its pristine, austere appearance. It was also extremely rare. Also, another fun fact, the phrase "worth his salt" comes from the days of The Roman Legion, where soldiers received part of their salary in "solarium" which was a fancy Romanesque way of saying sodium. Yes... People actually got paid in salt, liked it and were miserable when they felt that they weren't worth their pay. It's hard to imagine that passing muster these days.

So... One guy?

I've told Liesi that ghosts and monsters can't exist in a salted room because as the old legends state, a creature of pure evil can't pass through an entryway that has been been coated with the white stuff. Some say that it's because it burns them, some say that it's because in order to enter said room, the creature of pure malevolence has to count each individual grain before entering. And counting each grain is an impossibility because A) I dumped a shitload of salt and B) When Liesi goes to bed, she listens to her "Wow, wow Wubbzy" CD. I defy anyone to accomplish any task, no matter how simple while listening to this crap:

Not possible.

But, still... There's another more practical reason of why I use a solid and thick line of salt at my daughter's door. You see, if she gets out of bed hoping to perform nightly mischief, with no regard to the monsters or ghosts that are no doubt roaming the house just waiting for to take a bite from the love of my life... I'll know. Liesi's not exactly graceful yet(You've ALL seen her fresh dance steps) and if she gets up, the line WILL be disturbed, giving me the verisimilitude of her midnight escapades that I need. At that point, that's when I crank the whole thing up to 11 and tell her about THE celebrated and perennial child snatching monstrosity...

The Bogeyman/Boogeyman:

Yeah, he goes by more than a few names, the Bag Man, the Bubak, it all means the same thing. Absolute terror and absolute control over your children. See, I've always been a fan of the simple beauty of the myth. The Bogeyman is a terrifying entity that wanders the streets at night, listening for naughty children. Should he happen to come upon a spoiled little brat, he'll climb into their bedroom at night, toss them into his giant sack and carry them off to god knows where. My God... Imagine the stones on the first parent to come up with that one. Let me set the scene for you.

Early 12th century... In Europe, somewhere. Some dad's off cleaning up in front of his hovel with an old timey broom when he hears screams of terror coming from his neighbor's house. A few moments later, the head of the household walks out, fills his pipe and smiles contently.

[Bill] Gee, Tom... I couldn't help but notice your son's cries of abject terror. Care to fill me in?

[Tom] Well, Bill, if you must know I've convinced my son that should he misbehave again, a creature of untold evil and malice will kidnap him and possibly eat him. Gives my whipping hand a rest and scares the kid absolutely shitless. Did you know that he just finished clearing off the table and is already hard at work sweeping up the house?

And he takes a flask out of his pocket and raises a toast.

[Tom] To the stupidity of children!!!

[Bill] Say, Tom... I happen to have a disobedient child of my own. Can ANYONE use this technique to frighten their children into behaving like civilized individuals?

[Tom] I don't see why not. All it takes is the ability to tell bold-faced lies to someone with no reason not to believe you.

[Bill] We should really bring this up at the next town meeting.

End scene.

See, ever wonder why there are so few urban legends, mythological creatures and well behaved children these days? I'll tell you. It's two things. One: The advancement and subsequent pacification of our society due to an overabundance of media and readily accessible information. And Two: A general lack of community. Back in the old days, kids listened to their children because they were either beaten if they didn't or scared stupid by tales of what would happen to them if they didn't. There was no Dr Spock. There was no Wikipedia or Snopes to debunk what your parents told you. No, you listened to your folks and took them at their word. Parents had firm control over their offspring and would share parenting tips and stories with one another. One parent's lie could spread through an entire town in a matter of days. And think about it... Back in the early 20th century, we were more or less a decent country. Not a lot of teen pregnancies. Not too many reports of kids selling the dope. Life was better because parents did their job and put the fear of God(and monsters... and whippings) into their kids.

Now, I'm not some sort of reactionary. I like today. I like the fact that I can talk to literally dozens of people everyday without getting out of my comfy chair. I like the fact that I can turn on this glowing box in front of me and learn practically anything I'd ever want to know in a matter of hours. But, sometimes, when I hear people talking about how they want to be nothing like their parents, it sickens me. So, your folks lied to you about premarital sex, the dope and monsters. They did it to keep you safe. They did it to keep you honest, even if they were forced to be less than completely truthful themselves. They did it to keep you alive. They did it to pass on to you a rich legacy that even now few people understand.

Kids need to learn to be afraid of monsters. They need to realize that there ARE things to fear in this great big, wonderful and incredibly beautiful world. They need to learn to deal with imaginary horrors before they step out into the real world and face the things that are infinitely more real and thus infinitely more frightening. In short, if you love your kid, in their early years... It is your duty to instill in them a sense of fear. That fear leads to a sense of alertness and of self-preservation. Those few sleepless nights, watching the door and taking furtive glances under their bed may seem cruel, but the lies you tell them today may end up saving their lives tomorrow.

Because caring means scaring.

Thank you for your time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Caring Means Scaring Part 1

So anyways, late last night while I was talking to a friend online about the joys of fatherhood, I was shocked by the sound of my nearly four year old offspring screaming from within the confines of her room. Screaming about ghosts, as I've already made mention of before, sometimes my daughter's comments about such oddities genuinely freaks me out. So, like the proper parental patriarch that I am, I politely excused myself and went in to check on her. Once inside the room, I noticed no chill in the air (a telltale sign of a ghost sighting). And so, I decided to have a little fun.

"Oh, I've seen her too, Liesi.", I lied to my daughter most excellently. "Her name was Rose. She was a little girl who cried because she never fell asleep. Now, she haunts the rooms of other little girls who also refuse to fall asleep. You'll probably be fine if you just shut your eyes, remain very quiet and fall asleep." She looked up at me with legit terror in her eyes as she asked me, "But, what if I CAN'T fall asleep??" I leaned in very close, kissed her on the forehead and whispered to her, "Well, let's not risk that, huh kid?" And I left the room. Amazingly, the screams of terror had been replaced with quiet sobbing. And within minutes, when I went back to check, she was sound asleep, hiding under her blanket.

Now, to the uninitiated and the childless, this may sound cruel and petty. And I'll be the first to admit, before I ever had a kid, I was right at the front of the line of the folks who made solemn vows to never lie to their children. And once that little bundle of joy was able to walk, able to think for herself and get into no small amount of chicanery, monkeyshines and hi-jinx, I immediately began spinning my own rich tapestry of lies in order to frighten my child.

Why? Well, maybe it's just the sheer joy of lying to a child, a doe eyed, apple cheeked little sprite who'll believe anything you tell them. Or, maybe... just maybe, it's because not long ago, I realized a simple and immutable truth; Monsters, ghosts, bogeymen and demons... Or rather the creation of said entities and the retelling of their tales to children... Keep kids well-behaved, respectable and most importantly, alive. Over the next few days, just for fun, let's go through my oh so fun list of all time parental creations;

The Monster Under The Bed:

Let's face it, kids have BOUNDLESS energy. Hell, if I could, I would sacrifice my first 9 years of hopping, jumping, skipping, tree climbing, running and playing in the mud for a third of the energy that I had as a kid. For a disastrous few weeks earlier this year, my daughter was allowed to sleep in her toddler bed, a gift from an aunt. After working full time, I'd come home, play with Liesi till about eight o' clock, deposit her in her bed, sing her a few Snow Patrol songs(The kid has NO taste in music), get her a glass of water and head to bed myself. In the morning, I'd wake up to find my second floor hallway covered with a bizarre series of Crayola pictographs that would make the ancient Mayans throw up their hands in frustration.

I tried EVERYTHING to curb this midnight graffiti. I tried putting her to bed later, bringing her to the park to make her run off all of her excess energy, cutting sugar out of her diet. Nothing. Every night, I'd go to bed and wake up with a brand new mural on the wall. My perenial favorite was one that she explained featured me and her mother running from a shark. Yes... Let it sink in... Running... From a sea creature. The crude depiction of an oak tree next to Laura left me wondering where such a furious chase would take place, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn't want to end up in the attic again (See my March 20th Blog if you don't get that reference). I thought all hope was lost and that I'd be forced to put Liesi back in the crib during the night. Then inspiration came from an odd source. One day, I was sitting and reading a collection of quite possibly THE greatest comic strip known to man, when my daughter came up and stared transfixed at the cover.

I looked down from reading about Spaceman Spiff and noticed my daughter's unusual change in her demeanor. "Hey, Liesi. What's going on?", I asked cordially. "What's THAT book?",she inquired, pointing to the lovingly worn cover. I explained to her that it was a paperback trade copendium of one of the most subversively hilarious comic strips to ever grace the Sunday funnies. Ok, maybe I didn't use those words exactly. Still her eyes remained locked on the drooling creature under the bed. Naturally, the next question she asked in a hushed voice was, "Is that a monster?" I informed her that it was. Then, jackpot. "Is there a monster under MY bed?" Suddenly, a light buld went off in my head.

"Well, not right now, obviously. I mean, you've been getting up every night and drawing on the walls... Hiding your crayons where daddy can't find them... But, I'd say that probably, in the next few days that sort of attention will draw some kind of monster to your room." I went on to explain to her that just to be safe, she shouldn't get out of bed anymore. "The monsters", I continued to BS, "Can't climb up onto your bed. It's just too high for them. No, they just wait there... In the dark for an ankle or a toe to dangle over the edge... And then?? WHAM!!! They've got ya!" Thank goodness that Laura was at work at the time, because the scream that my daughter let rip at that point would have caused her mother to immediately call me out on my bullshit.

know that right now, you're probably all thinking that I'm some kind of dick for frightening my daughter like that. And admittedly, maybe I am. But, here's what I know. Since that day, Liesi has stayed in her bed every night until morning and there are no new exhibits on the art gallery that is my second floor hallway. Also, the bottles of chemicals, the bleach and the various outlets that are just the right size for tiny little fingers have been untouched. My daughter is alive and out of trouble. And I have only deception to thank for it.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

And That's When Shit Got Real

So anyways, I'm back. Where was I? Well, that's a long and interesting story wrought with peril, romance and high adventure. Unfortunately, the previous statement is a total lie. I've been sitting around like an old piece of bric-a-brac, collecting dust and serving little purpose other than obtrusive conversation starter. "Hey, what's that on your couch", a visitor of my house may ask, to which Laura would reply, "Ugh, don't ask." Come to think of it, that's not much of a conversation either, which leads me to conclude that;


It's not all bad, Fridgeheads. The extra down time has given me a lot of time to practice Ukulele and learn at least 3 more chords. Yes, no longer will C Chord alone bear the wrath of my horrible playing. F, Gm, Am are all now on the fretted torture slab ready to be plucked painfully with my less than dextrous fingers. Take that, official instrument of Hawaii! I've also had a lot of time to think. And we all know that when I start introspectively thinking, there's absolutely no good that can come of it.

That being said, come the start of next year, I'm moving back up north to spend more time with my family. Laura's dating again and it's getting serious. I'm happy for her, but in a way it's bittersweet. Slowly but surely, I'm being edged out. Laura's creating a new family with her new beau, and allowing him to spend time with our daughter. He's got a daughter of his own, so they all get along famously. She's taken a shine to the new arrangement, and though it saddens me, we've always talked about what would happen in a situation like this. So, it's not like a quick shot in the nuts from behind, it's more of a slowly applied powersander to the groin, with the applicant of said sander telling you their plans and making eye contact as they place it gently to your tender vittles.

Come to think of it, that sounds infinitely worse.

Recently, I got a phone call from my Mom. She and my dad have split up, they lost their house due to my Dad's awesome stock market playing skeeeels and my sister, one of the few members of my family that I actually like, has taken ill. It's depressing and a wake up call. I don't know if anyone else does this, but I tend to compartmentalize relationships. It's like, I have my family, right? And I put them in a box. It's a tight, secure box, to be sure, all water proofed and whatnot. But that box goes into a closet and other shit gets stacked on top. Bills, failed relationships, job opportunities, pipe dreams, dreams about pipes and so on and so forth... Then finally, one day I open the closet and see a dusty old box, I open it up and lo and behold.

"Oh, wait... That's right, THOSE people."

It's time to stop doing that. It makes people think that I legitimately don't care about them, which is just not true. I DO care, really I do... Sometimes, I care enough to stay out of their business. We all know that I've got a bad track record with interpersonal relationships. Take for example, my most recent EX, after Laura.

Seemed nice, "physical relations" were nominally fair(That's right, if you're reading this, babe... "Nominally fair", that's ALL you're getting), we seemed to get along. Then, because I wasn't spending enough time with her... BAM!!! She fakes CANCER! No joke, she actually faked having cervical cancer just to mess with me. So, I try to do the right thing because at this point I actually believe her, You know... Because who would LIE about that? I try to make some light hearted jokes to create a sense of levity. They don't go over well at all (See blog # 1 for my history in situations like this). I break down, apologize, treat her like GOLD... Then one day I go into the bathroom and see a Doctor's note tucked clandestinely behind the toilet. Being the nosy jerk that I am, I open it and to my surprise, her condition has been upgraded from terminal cancer patient...

To sufferer of Yeast Infection.

I left like 20 minutes later.

She lives 45 minutes away.

And I have no car.

Still, I was singing the whole time. Because, she had honestly convinced me over those few months that I was a bad person. But, at that moment, I knew the truth. I'm actually a pretty ok guy... SHE was just a crazy bitch... Who I'd later learned was cheating on me the whole time with multiple partners. None of whom had any idea about her life threatening cancer. So, I alone got to hear that story. Lucky ME!!! HUZZAH!! Is it weird to feel even a small bit of intimacy there? Like, yes... She may have done the ol' 23 Skidoo with all those other guys. But, the lie of her cancer was just for me.

Cue reflective music from Scrubs and pull a closeup on the single tear that's rolling down my face. What, no tears? Eh, we'll just edit it in in post.

You're probably wondering if there's a point to this whole massive diatribe and where all the zany pictures and hokey videos are. There are no visual effects this time, but there is a point. The same point I realized on that long walk home from "Private Cancer, Cancer for Money"'s house. I'm a decent guy. And as such, I should start acting like it. That means, making time for my daughter, my family and not to sound like an ass, Myself. This next 8 months are going to be all about achieving goals and making the most of my time in Pennsylvania. It's gonna' be a long hard, journey. I'm gonna' fuck up every so often. I'm gonna' get down on myself. I'm gonna' stumble and scrape my knee. But, in the end I'm gonna' get up and keep going.

My daughter likes to watch that ol' Pixar flick "Finding Nemo". She loves to run around the house imitating Dory, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming". Right now, I'm broke, have no job, no car and no prospects. I'm not just in deep shit... I'm in a freaking river of it. But, today I'm vowing to keep my head above the current, keep my eye on the shore...

And to just keep swimming.

Just keep swimming.

Thank you for your time.