Archive for February, 2012

Well, people, today is Leap Day, so named because it is the day when, every four years, the earth’s gravity decreases by one-half, allowing us to take massive leaps like we never possibly could have any other day in the year…

…or something like that.

I don’t actually know.

In any case, since I was a little bit bored a couple nights ago, my mind was wandering– you know, like it does– and I somehow came up with the first line of this stupid poem. That is also a folk song. About Leap Day.

It makes no sense whatsoever.

Please note, the nonsense words in this poem have no translation. This is not “Jabberwocky”. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out what the hell they mean, exactly.

~ Ian

 

Leap Day

 

I went out a-riding on Leap Day

to nobblify my gorblemeep.

When who did I spy out a-walking

but a bogglious boy with a sheep?

I said to the boy, “Good day, son”,

to the sheep, “How do you do,”

and I said “Do you know how to get to

the town of Cobble Caloo?”

 

Said he:

 

“You go past the oogle and under the moogle

And right round the joggily jee.

You make ixlings behind the old mill-pond,

Are you sure that you understand me?

You framtify your gillgaloney,

You dorgle your chomble and spong.

You imble and amble your umbler.

I tell you, I steer you not wrong.”

 

Said I to the boy, “Thank you muchly,”

and I said to the sheep, “Fare thee well.”

and I rode past the spingle and thutchly,

and I passed the orgullic gram pell.

When I found that my mind it had wandered,

and my path it had gone all awry.

So I asked a young man for directions,

for he looked like a pretty smart guy.

 

Said he:

 

“You go past the oogle and under the moogle

And right round the joggily jee.

You make ixlings behind the old mill-pond,

Are you sure that you understand me?

You framtify your gillgaloney,

You dorgle your chomble and spong.

You imble and amble your umbler.

I tell you, I steer you not wrong.”

 

When I came to the cobbulous village,

I spied a young maiden quite fair.

She had long shiny teeth and a top hat,

and gleep-flowers grew in her hair.

I lay her down under the bong tree,

and she zimbled and quorkled my spling.

“Oh, wompluck my shorble,” I cried out,

“Droobquay and zorbuck my thing!”

 

Cried she:

 

“Oh, please yorgrick my steeble and shadrick,

gumble my trooblious fwees!

Quockle my torbulent pimbo!”

Said I, “I’ll do what you please.”

So we passed a long while ‘neath the bong tree,

as she cried out, “Quip quip quooray!”

Although winter had not quite furmuckled,

it was just like the First of May!

 

FIN

  1. Write a short story reimagining Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus as a odd couple/buddy comedy sitcom set in an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  2. Summarize the plot of the last book that you read– in pantoum form.
  3. Come up with a list of titles of terrible-sounding 1930s pulp stories (“She-Devil in Silk Stockings”, “Deadeye Dorgan and the Sarsaparilla Stagecoach Job”), and then write a summary of each story.
  4. Spill a glass of milk onto the floor, then copy the outline of the puddle onto a sheet of paper. Imagine the outline of the puddle as the shape of an undiscovered continent, then create forests, mountains, rivers, cities, and countries for this imaginary place. Describe its cultures, languages, and economy, and then take the role the leader of one of the countries. Plan a war against your country’s bitterest rival.
  5. Write a sestina on the theme of the last time you went to the bathroom.
  6. Write a fanfiction story so bad that people will know that you’re joking. (Hint: this is impossible.)
  7. Take your favorite TV show from the 1970s. Then, make an outline for a blockbuster Hollywood remake of it, starring Shia LeBoeuf and Brooklyn Decker.
  8. Write a commercial from the year 2459.
  9. Pretend you are a journalist. Write a dismissive review for an imaginary band’s new album. (You may choose the band’s name, genre, and the album title.)
  10. Watch Firefly for the seventeenth time.
  11. Go to a hip-hop club dressed in Goth clothing. Look uncomfortable. Smile nervously at people. Take notes on their reactions.
  12. Invent four new words for imaginary colors.
  13. Dress up in Pioneer clothing, then take a little red wagon out, add three Hula Hoops and a tarp, and walk around your neighborhood, saying that you are going to Oregon to look for gold. Note their reactions.
  14. Make up a language, then go to the mall and engage people in conversations in your imaginary language. Note their reactions.
  15. Watch Blade Runner for the seventeenth time.
  16. Get a friend, dress up in nice shirts, ties, slacks, and sensible shoes, then go around your neighborhood, knocking on doors, and handing out Satanist tracts. (Alternately you and your friend could dress up like Hell’s Angels and canvas for the Mormons.) Note their reactions.
  17. Think of your favorite novel. Then, reimagine it as an erotic cyberpunk thriller. (If your favorite novel is already a cyberpunk horror thriller, then reimagine it as an earnest literary novel about a fortysomething white male writer having a midlife crisis.)
  18. Eat a pound of cookie dough ice cream and fall asleep on the couch. Record the horrifying nightmares about being chased by cookie-shaped ooze monsters that result.
  19. Go to an anime convention dressed as a Vulcan. Note people’s reactions.
  20. Write a list of writing exercises on your lame blog rather than actually doing any goddamn work.

Yes.

Now can we PLEASE, as a subculture, move on?

~ Ian

So I changed around the appearance here on Axolotl Ceviche.

  • The most noticeable change is, of course, the theme. And I have to say, I’m a bit relieved. The old theme that I was using (Black Letter something or other) was ugly as sin, and barely even customizable. So I ditched it, and now I’m using another free theme that I thought was WAY more attractive. It’s called ChaoticSoul, in case you were wondering.
  • A second change is the tag cloud on the right. First of all, I wasn’t really thinking about utility when I added the tag names: I just put down amusing song lyrics, or funny turns of phrase, without thinking about the utility of the thing. So the tags were cute, yes, but not really functional. I changed them so that if you’re looking for information on my (still unpublished) short story “The Girl in the Junkyard”, then you can click on the tag that will show you all the posts where I’ve tagged it. Instead of being cute, it’s USEFUL, dammit.
  • I changed the header description, which was originally: “Writing. Geekery. Sarcasm. Reasonably Priced Love. And a Hard-Boiled Egg.” Again, I wasn’t really thinking when I created the header, since I just went with a couple of things off the top of my head that I wanted this blog to provide and added in a Terry Pratchett reference. This next one, “Committing Crimes Against the English Language Since 2012”, is kind of funny (since 2012 isn’t over yet– hell, it’s barely even begun), and in my old tag system, I had a tag called “crimes against the english language”, which was my category for original fiction. I liked the idea of being a contra-English criminal, so I didn’t want to let it die. Thus, the new header caption.
  • Finally, I put a picture of some mountains up in the header. I took that picture, actually. It’s just to the east of Kirkwood, on Highway 88.

So, what do you think? Better? Worse?

~ Ian

There will be no Creative Writing Wednesday.

Sorry. I hope that I’m less busy next week.

~ Ian

So I’m back from Kirkwood, and these are the things that happened…

  • My brother broke his face. Seriously: he ran into a tree in the backcountry and broke three bones in his face, including the zygomatic arch. In all honesty, I’m glad he’s alive– if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, there’s a high chance that he might have died.
  • I got to look at a CAT scan of the inside of my brother’s face. Calum, my dad, and Gabby went into Tahoe to have Calum’s face scanned, and we got a CD with his scan back. I got to look inside Calum’s eyeballs. It was awesome.
  • I played Dragon Age: Origins, which was great, since I got it for Christmas and haven’t got a chance to play it yet. My reaction? It’s AWESOME, and it’s one of the few games that I’ve played where I want to skip the boring combat scenes so I can get to the interesting parts where people are talking. That’s a good thing.
  • I watched Super 8, and invented a drinking game: whenever there is a lens flare, take a shot. (Of course, playing this game would be problematic, because you’d be plastered by the end of the first act.)
  • I skied. But that’s not a surprise.
  • On the way back from Kirkwood, we stopped at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Dublin (California, not Ireland). Which was good, because their burgers are great.

Anyway, I’m back in Santa Cruz now. Business-as-normal can resume.

~ Ian

I spent some time today lamenting the lack of any decent SF or fantasy in high school English classes. (Of course, English teachers in general are contributing to the collapse of literacy in our society in general… just ask any student who had to write a 1500-word essay on “The Symbolism of the Color Green in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.” (Please note that my high school English teachers were, on average, pretty excellent.))

Anyway, since I was wondering about it, I decided to create an imaginary syllabus for a year-long English class that taught sf and fantasy instead of the “canons” of American literature. Because I’m using my lame blog as an output for my random bursts of Creativity™, I decided to put this up here. The first 18-week semester, I decided, would be dedicated to the teaching of sf, and the second, fantasy. I’m not that happy with it (too many dead white male authors on the list), but hey, it manages to cover most of the enduring classics of Our Beloved Genre(s).

Enjoy.

~ Ian

 

Syllabus for Mr. Johnson’s 4th-Period English Class

MR. JOHNSON KNOWS NO MERCY. MR. JOHNSON IS THE TERROR IN THE NIGHT THAT CAUSES CHILDREN TO SCREAM AND WOMEN TO LAMENT. MR. JOHNSON IS A MANY-HEADED DEMON WITH A MILLION STARING EYES. MR. JOHNSON EATS PLAGIARISTS. MR. JOHNSON IS CUNNING. MR. JOHNSON IS THE ENDLESS NIGHT THAT DEVOURS ALL HOPE.

Please turn off your cell phones in class.

Semester 1: Science Fiction

Week 1: Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (humor, satire, genre conventions)

Week 2: H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (history of science fiction, time travel, evolution, the far future)

Weeks 3-4: Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel (artificial intelligence, overpopulation, robotics, cross-genre connections)

Weeks 5-6: Robert Heinlein, Farmer in the Sky (space colonization, America in the future, Golden Age SF)

Weeks 7-9: Frank Herbert, Dune (ecological SF, mysticism and religion, far-future space travel)

Weeks 10-12: Octavia Butler, Wild Seed (ethnicity and race relations in SF)

Weeks 13-15: Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game (militarism and colonialism in SF)

Weeks 16-17: Ursula LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness (gender and sexuality in SF)

Week 18: Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (SF and film)

Semester 2: Fantasy

Weeks 1-2: Michael Swanwick, The Dragons of Babel (fantasy meeting the real world)

Week 3: Jo Walton, Among Others (magic in fantasy, secondary worlds)

Week 4: N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (gods, religion, and the “civilized/barbarian” divide”)

Weeks 5-8: Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind (the hero’s journey)

Weeks 9-10: Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures (humor and satire in fantasy, fantasy worlds as a reflection of reality)

Weeks 11-12: China Miéville, Perdido Street Station (fantasy and urban environments, non-human races in fantasy)

Week 13: Neil Gaiman, Coraline (horror and the uncanny)

Weeks 14-18: Stephen King, The Stand (epic narratives, good vs. evil, the symbolism of dreams, apocalyptic visions)

Blech.

No want make long blog post. No want do anything but make sleepings…

I’m exhausted. This has been a busy week. Good thing it’s over next week, and there’s a three-day weekend with Kirkwood coming up…

Need to get back to homework now…

~ Ian

Well, it’s Wednesday again. Time to shit something out show you examples of my creative bounty.

First of all, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. In fact, I’m not much of a fan of romance in general. I feel like society keeps pushing this idea that “either your love is PURE and PERFECT and ETERNAL, or you are a HORRIBLE PERSON and YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HAPPY”. Furthermore, it always seems like the only way to show your beloved that you care about them is by buying them sentimental, useless crap. The way to pure happiness is through things. Buy your lover some expensive chocolates– she deserves it. Diamonds are forever. Every kiss begins with Kay.

So yeah. Valentine’s Day is essentially bullshit. It’s a horrible facade of a holiday, and I want nothing to do with it. We don’t need a goddamn holiday to show our significant others that we love them. We should show them we love them by, you know, loving them. Every day, not just on a societally-sanctioned romance-fest.

So, for Creative Writing Wednesday, I made a poem that shows the darker side of romance. How it isn’t always a pure, magical thing. How it gets under your skin, and hurts, and leaves you feeling broken and alone.

The poem’s pretty crappy, honestly. I wrote it when I was still waking up yesterday. But it has to do with romance, so think of it as a special edition of Creative Writing Wednesday.

~ Ian

 

See You In Hell

A long lingering glance

A fumbled conversation

An exchange of phone numbers

A lovestruck situation

Three dinner dates

One action movie

A tumble under the sheets

Everything’s feeling groovy

Tension mounts and builds

A couple small mistakes

An angry accusation

A bleeding heart that breaks

A dozen shots of gin

A head ringing like a bell

A heart that’s just a scab

And I’ll see you in hell

Yeah, I’ll see you in hell

If you didn’t already know, I’m a little bit of a geek.

And if you’re a certain kind of geek, then the phrases “Michael Moorcock” and “Doctor Who” will send a bit of a tingle down your spine.

I am that kind of geek.

At first I was a little worried about the quality of this book. I mean, media tie-in fiction is rarely good. And I hadn’t read any Doctor Who novels. But this book was written by Michael Moorcock. A man who has been writing for more than fifty years, who has cheerfully danced between fantasy and sf and realism, spanning traditions from pulp to postmodernism. He’s also the creator of the Multiverse, a massive universal construct that’s enough of an umbrella to contain all his fiction (and, possibly, all fiction ever written). It kind of boggles my mind to think that the Elric stories are fundamentally contained within the same massive framework as the Colonel Pyat quartet. And there are very few books as completely different as the Elric books and the Pyat quartet.

So I took a step into this book, where the worlds of Moorcockian multiverse and Whovian time-travel antics collide.

I was pleasantly surprised.

This book probably won’t be one of Moorcock’s enduring creations. It’s at best a somewhat-pulpish adventure using characters created by TV writers. But, hey: you know you’re not getting Mother London when you crack the book open and read its full title: Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles: Or, Pirates of the Second Aether!!

So, no: it’s not “literate chewer”.

But it is fun.

This is one of the few Moorcock novels that I’ve read that I’d describe as a “romp”. It’s pure fun from start to finish, and there are a few unexpected surprises. For example, I’d expected that it would blend the Multiverse with the Whoniverse, and it did– pretty seamlessly. What I didn’t expect was the extent to which it read like a Wodehouse novel. Seriously: there’s a character who is completely unironically named Bingo.

DW:TCotT:OPotSA!! has a lot of inside jokes for the Moorcockian aficionado. For example, the MacGuffin that the heroes are searching for is called “The Arrow of Law”, a name that any true Moorcock scholar should be able to recognize. There is a space-pirate captain named “Captain Cornelius”. And early on in the book, it’s revealed that the Doctor used to publish a fanzine going by the name of Novae Terrae (which was the name that Moorcock’s 1960s magazine, New Worlds, went under when it was a fanzine in the forties).

To sum up: the book was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it. Not enough to say that I loved it, per se, but it amused me, and that’s often a noble enough goal when telling a story.

Final Score: three out of five fifteen-centimeter TARDISes

~ Ian