Archive for June, 2012

Culturally-appropriate Island Greeting!

I wanted to do this post on Wednesday, but I’ve been having computer issues since I got back from Hawaii, which makes me RAGE, because the place where the entire Shafer clan (of which I am an offshoot) had our Hawaiian vacation was an army base, and the military is surprisingly disorganized, so they didn’t know that you had to actually connect the internet to an outside source for there to be internet on the base, which meant that the only time I was on the internet for that whole week was at a Starbuck’s, and then I had internet issues when I got home, so as you can understand, I was going through internet withdrawal and I should probably stop this massive run-on sentence at some point or another, because otherwise my hand might get a cramp and you guys all probably fell asleep halfway through this sentence.

In any case, here are some pictures from Hawaii.


This is where our family stayed. It’s a place called Pokai Bay, located on Oahu’s leeward shore. (Fun fact: “Leeward” is actually pronounced something like “loo-erd”. I was not aware of that.)

Because we were on the leeward shore, all the grass was dead and brown, so I felt somewhat at home, since the grass in California from about May to December is also dead and brown. It was humid, though, which I guess I should have been expecting. I’m a California boy. I hate all humidity. I prefer my weather to be either bone-dry or raining. So you can guess why I felt like I was breathing through a wet towel my whole time in Hawaii.


This is not the leeward side of Oahu. In fact, this is the windward side of Oahu, which means that it’s gray and rainy a lot of the time. I don’t mind– I like the rain, and this meant that there was a crapton of greenery all over the place. I mean, look at it: it’s so green!

(A phonological note: windward is pronounced exactly how you think it would be pronounced.)


A large and pointy mountain.


The mountain on the left makes me smile, for some reason.


This picture also made me smile. Maybe it was because of the guys falling off the edge of the cliff over to the right.

I think this means I’m a horrible person.


One thing that the brochures don’t tell you about Hawaii is that there are feral chickens all over the place.





The place.



(In related news, apparently I stopped maturing when I was thirteen…)


One thing that I found cool about Hawaii was that all the rocks were completely different.

I mean, I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. The area around Santa Cruz is built on a bed of the crushed skeletons of squishy marine organisms, and Hawaii is made out of the extruded flaming rock that dwells deep within the earth. The two areas have completely different geologic histories.

But still. I liked it.


We stopped to get shave ice on the North Shore.

For those of you who don’t know what shave ice is, think of it as sort of like a hybrid between ice cream and a Slurpee: a bit like a snow cone, but not really, because shave ice has delicious tropical fruit flavors like passionfruit and lychee, and it is also huge, with balls of flavored snow easily the size of my two fists put together.

It’s also delicious. Seriously, we need to get some of that over on the mainland.


Across from the shave ice place was a graveyard.

I won’t lie: I love graveyards, and I always have. Even when I was a tiny kid I never found them scary, but instead thought of them as a simultaneously thrilling and restful place. So far, my favorite graveyard I’ve ever visited was Trinity Churchyard in downtown New York, which was a colonial-era churchyard in the shadow of the absolutely massive steel-and-glass skyscrapers of lower Manhattan. But this graveyard was almost as cool.


This one made me sad.

(If you can’t guess why, look at the birth and death dates.)


There was one family plot that I thought was cool, which was a family of European missionaries who lived in the area back when Hawaii was actually a country. This is their son, who died at the age of twelve.

(I am actually curious, and ask anyone who might know: what does “died in the hope of the Gospel” mean? Does it mean that John L.S. Emerson wasn’t baptized? That would surprise me, since he was a missionary’s son, but still. Anyone know?)


This cool old tombstone was actually in Hawaiian!


This is a picture of a semi truck’s wheels.




Most of the things that I found different and cool about Hawaii were the little things. And one of the little things that’s different about Hawaii is this: when you’re on the mainland, and you see one of these little sign things warning you that there is a CAUTION WET FLOOR, then there’s always a little thing below it that says: CUIDADO: PISO MOJADO. This is because it is automatically assumed that you either speak English or Spanish in the US. Spanish is the default second language.

Not in Hawaii. There’s tons of Japanese in Hawaii. There’s Japanese writing everywhere. Kanji, hiragana, katakana– it’s all there. All over the place. And while I was in Hawaii, I didn’t see a single word of Spanish.

I thought that was cool. It’s the little things that really show how much different places are different. And I guess it’s true what they say: that Oahu is the fifth main Japanese island.


Hiking up Diamond Head, I was pleased to see another Zelda fan had been there.

(I tried playing “Zelda’s Lullaby” on my spare ocarina. It didn’t do anything.)


Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m out of shape. I’m fat, I have huge thighs, and I pant going up most of the hills in Santa Cruz. So when I hiked up Diamond Head, it was hard going, what with all the tunnels, and stairs, and forty-five degree inclines.

But when I got to the top of Diamond Head?



A “sign” at Pearl “Harbor”.

Somebody, needs to “learn” how “to” punctuate, (properly)\


An interesting cave.


Along with graveyards, I really like caves. Maybe this just goes to show that I’m a vampire dwarf.


A glimpse of the rare East Pacific Yellowtree (Hawaiian name: Kapunapunahamale’e’a’a’apa’a’a).

The yellow color is to lure pollinators in towards its flowers (fortunately not in bloom in June, since they are toxic and give off the smell of burning offal), where it devours them with its fanged stamens.


On our last day in Hawaii, we were glad to see something that reminded us of home.


I think this is a good place to stop.


~ Ian


i like to be here when i can

Posted: June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I’m back home now.

More later.

~ Ian

Wish you were here.

~ Ian

off and gone

Posted: June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I’m leaving for Hawaii tomorrow, for my grandparents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary.

Understandably, I won’t be blogging that much while I’m gone.

See you in a week. Be good to each other.

~ Ian

Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong. In life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Do what only you can do best: make good art.

– Neil Gaiman


This quote has been going around the internet for the last few weeks, and it’s something that I really should take to heart.

In a lot of ways, this last year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I’ve felt isolated and angry for much of the time, and a lot of the times I wanted fall off the world and disappear. The few times when I’ve felt truly happy have been when I’m writing.

So I’m going to write more. And I’m going to work at becoming the best writer I can be.

will finish a novel. I will get “Cassandra” published. I will constantly strive to be better than the day I was before, and I will write.

And write.

And write.

~ Ian

Wandering around my old high school today, when the sun was setting and the school was practically deserted, I was struck by how small everything looked.

The quad, the centerpiece for socialization at Santa Cruz High, was hardly the vast and open expanse of concrete and chewed gum that I remembered it as. The main building, once a towering and immovable monolith, seemed so small that I could reach up and touch its roof. Even the little things– trees, railings, bike racks– all seemed smaller.

It seemed more compact. More decayed. More insignificant.

More… less.

I guess it’s a change in my priorities. When you’re in high school, high school is the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVAR RAAARGH. And I figure that there are two kinds of people who have left high school: those who know that it was a passing thing, and was really less significant than we thought it was, and those who fixate on high school, those who remember high school as some golden age, when the grass was greener and the light was brighter, the happiest days of their lives.

I’ve moved on, in a lot of ways. In a lot of ways, I don’t know who I was before college. At my age, you reinvent yourself every day, and how you saw yourself a month ago is hardly how you saw yourself now.

I looked at my old high school, the tiny, insignificant campus that you could walk across in five minutes, and I tried to remember who I was. And I couldn’t. I mean, I could intellectually, but I couldn’t emotionally. I can’t put myself in the shoes of that angry, weird dreamer that I was at the age of fifteen.

I do wish I could remember. And I was struck by the fact that I would one day, in five or ten or twenty years, forget who I am now, what kind of person I am.

Remember this, I told myself.




~ Ian

Hey guys. Happy Creative Writing Wednesday.

It was always my intention to branch out Creative Writing Wednesday to include more that just my writing. I mean, Axolotl Ceviche will always be my place for committing sudden, random, violent acts of creativity. But this summer, I’m actually handing the reins over to a guest writer– a reader of Axolotl Ceviche, who contacted me this May about maybe having his work published here.

Now, I was told by this guest writer that he prefers to remain anonymous. He claims that this is because he doesn’t want “all you plageristic [sic] assholes stealing my awesome ideas”. So I agreed to his request, and therefore this summer, we’re going to read this… work. As far as I can tell, it’s an epic fantasy novella that’s being serialized in twelve parts, and it’s going to be put up weekly on Axolotl Ceviche for your entertainment as part of Creative Writing Wednesday.

In any case, it’s nice to take a break from writing for a little while. The request for this serialization came at a perfect time, too: I’d run out of my own writing to put up here. So I’m going to be spending the summer creating a “buffer”, so that I can still put random bullshit up on my lame blog to entertain you. Like a monkey. Who dances.

With that in mind, here’s the first part of The Epic Legend of Damien Fell!

~ Ian


The Epic Legend of Damien Fell

Chapter One: Shadows And Blood

Night had fallen over the land of Evershyria, blanketing all the kingdom in its inky-black darkness. The shadows lay over the city of Kar’ae’thaluun like a drunken hobo in an alley, and in their depths, death lurked. For no city in all of the dark aelfynn lands was as dangerous as Kar’ae’thaluun. For in the night, assassins lurked……..

But no assassin in the world was as deadly, as badass, or as totally rad as Damien Fell.

Look at him, walking down the street, as coolly confident as an experienced courtisanne with a perfect pair of tits. He is dressed all in black: from his black leather boots to his swirling black mystic cape. His eyes smolder like the embers of a forest fire: dark and enraged, they are completely black, with no pupils: just small red stars deep within them, burning with anger and hate for the world. At his side is the mystical broadsword Stormshadow, five feet long and carved from blood-forged obsidian, and  on his back the wood aelfynn longbow Forestsong, most legendary of bows from the Forgotten Age. Also on his hips are two pistols, the only ones in the whole world of Evershyria: for Damien Fell invented them when he was in Assassin School and used them to murder his mathemancy teacher, who was a total douchebag (and seriously, who the hell teaches numbers in an assassin school? The teachre’s existance was a crime that Damien Fell needed to correct.). His face is handsome, and a manly rugged dusting of stubble covers his cheeks and chin. He moves like a tiger, like a water strider, like a leaf on the widn. He is the master of death, and death follows on his heels like a dog with big nasty teeth.

As he passes down the streets of Kar’ae’thaluun, as silently and invisibly as an autumn wind, everyone on the street stops and stares after him. “Is that Damien Fell?” they ask. “Could this possibly be the most deadliest assassin in all of Evershyria? I thought he was just a legend!”

“I heard that he is the bastard son of an angelic knight and a demonic succubus, and from this mixed union comes the struggle between good and evil that rages within his very soul,” says a wood-aelfynn prostitute, as a drunken dark aelf fingers her ass in an al-fresco tavern.

“I heard that he mastered the art of Darke Magycke at the age of twelve, after which he was expelled from the Arcane Academy for summoning a hellgate into our world,” a dark-aelf apprentice mage says, his eyes wide with awe and fear.

“I heard that he is the inventor of six different martial arts, and can kill a man in seventy-six different ways with nothing but his bare hands,” a Dwarvyn mercenary in plate armor says.

“I heard that he is the greatest lover in history, and he leaves women satisfied eternally, that he shares a bed with a new woman every night, and they flock to him all the time,” a beautiful dark-aelfynn noblewoman, with long white hair and a perfect pair of luscious breasts says breathlessly, her sheath honeying at the sight of him.

For there are a thousand and one stories about Damien Fell, the most unspeakably radical and badass warrior to ever walk the earth in the Age of Blood in Evershyria.



Damien Fell paid no heed to the whispers of passerbies on the street around him. He simply walked onward, his mind filled with nothing but shadow and blood, intent on his destination on the far side of the city.

He passed swiftly and silently down the main street of the city, the Way of the Serpent Queen. Reaching the Plaza of High-Aelfynn Blood Long-Ago Shed, he turned onto the narrower Scorpion Boulevard, which wound up and down the massive, womb-like cavern where the city lay. He stared up art the high towers of the dark-aelfynn Highlords, carved into the stone of billion-year old staglamites in the center of the cavern, their unearthly green lights shining out in the near-pitch darkness. Turning onto a narrow alleyway that had no name, he ducked through a maze of warren-like tunnels that stunk of refuse and long-dead corpses. The Slave Quarters, where the Shadow Aelves, the broken refuse of the long-dead civilization of High Aelves, made its home. Enslaved long ago and converted into brain washed, piteous creatures, the Slave Quarters were filled with the broken-down wretches whose labors kept the foul Dark Aelfynn nation in their state of riches.

Damien Fell found his destination: a ram-shackle tavern on the banks of the River of Flowing Fire in the heart of the Slave Quarters. The Bat and Spider. This was where he needed to look.

Opening the front door of the tavern (little more than a tentflap), Damien Fell stepped inside.

Immediately the tavern fell hushed as Fell stepped into the room. The denizens of this low-life wateringhole were mainly Shadow Aelves, many of them out of their minds on various liquor and drugs. But there were a selection of other types: a brass-jointed Ticktock Man, one of the fabled race of mechanicle men from the faraway continent of Shah Domaddh; a clumsy-footed human from the Northlands, in the city of Kar’ae’thaluun on some sort of business; a hulking orc, green-skinned and pig-nosed, dressed in filthy leathers; and several of the Crab Men, the anthropomorphic crustaceanoids that lived in the swomps and mires outside of Tamyryyn in the torrid jungles of Karshamyr.

And there was one more……… a good looking-middle aged man, seated cross-legged in the corner, his mouth puffing on a hookah filled with the mind-numbing lotus petals from the exotic fleshpots of Guujj.

If you looked under his flowing hooded robe, you might be able to discern that he had a small pair of horns, and a medium-sized tail.

Fell strode up to the man, crossing his arms. His black pupilless eyes blazed with defiance.

“You led me on quite a chase, Drako Blackthorne,” Fell said.

Blackthorne smirked up at Fell from his cross-legged position. “I needed to make sure that you were willing enough to hear my information.”

“I’m always willing to talk, cambion,” said Fell. “Especially when I know that you know what you know.”

The half-demon’s teeth spread wide. Fell could see that his teeth were yellowed, and filed into sharp sharklike points.

“Did you bring me what I requested?” Blackthorne said, extending a modeled red-and-white hand.

“I did,” said Damien Fell, and he pulled something from his pocket— a majestic emerald, the size of an orc’s left testical, glowing with an inner light.

“Ah, yes…………..” Blackthorne said, trailing off significantly. “The Emerald of Shanahalamalabad. Fabled jewel of the ancient East……. this is truly a powerful artifact.

“So tell me what you know,” said Damien Fell.

“Please, Fell, do try to be social. Why don’t you sit down and have a puff or two of lotus?”

“I don’t think I will,” said Fell. “For I knew from the moment I walked into the room that your hookah was poisoned.”

The look of genial effervescence left Blackthorne’s face, and he scowled. “How did you know?” he asked.

“I smelled it,” replied Fell. “With my nose.”

“Well in that case,” said the cambion, reaching a hand into his wand, “I shall have to resort to force.” And he pulled out a wand…

But quicker than could be detected with the naked eye, one of Damien Fell’s legendary pistols was pointed directly at his forehead.

“Say one word of your spell and you’re dead,” Damien Fell snapped.

“You’re quicker than I’d imagined,” Blackthorne said.

“Haven’t you heard the stories?” asked Fell.

“I don’t pay any attention to stories,” said the cambion, lips pursing in a furrowed-brow sneer. “The man who trusts in stories couldn’t see reality if it snuck up behind him, climbed onto its head and laid its eggs in his hair.”

“Tell me what I want to know or you’re dead,” said Fell menacingly.

“My master wouldn’t like it,” said Blackthorne.

“Your master can go back to Hell where he belongs,” grunted Fell.

“Very well,” Blackthorne said resignedly. “The Conclave meets next full moon at the Fiendfang, where we plan to sacrifice the Princess Amberella in the name of our… urk!

A throwing knife had just embedded itself with pinpoint-accuracy in the cambion’s eyeball. He fell dead instantly.

Damien fell wheeled, and saw a woman dressed all in black running through the doorflap and out into the night……………

Fell gave chase.

He burst out of the door and crashed into the crouded streets of the Slave District of Kar’ae’thaluun, colliding with a gaggle of Crab Men as they passed him. Knocking one of the CrabMen over, he watched with wide utterly-black eyes as the woman in black leapt from the street to the roof of one of the hovels in a single bound. Fell climbed up after her, reacing end over end, scrambling up to the roof, just in time to see the woman in black practically flying as she leapt over a narrow alley.

“Shit!” exclaimed the half-demon assassin, drawing his pistols. Everyone in the street below gaped as he drew the weapon, for fell was legend, even among these poor wretches, slaves of the dark-aelves, and his pistols were even more almost as legendary as he was.

BANG! BANG! BANG! Three shots echoed through the cavern of Kar’ae’thaluun, as Damien Fell blasted away with his pistols, three shots that zoomed past the woman in black as she flew through the air. As Fell watched, the bullets seemed to fly in super-slow motion, and he watched as the woman in black dodged the bullets in midair, twisting and contourting her lithe body into strange shapes to avoid the sharp sting of the gunshots.

NO!!!!” shouted Fell as the woman landed on the far side of the alley.

He leapt after her, and as he flew he drew his sword Stormshadow, as dark and unyeilding as the human soul yet as quick and light to carry as a jungle cat. As he flew, his dark eyes burned with inhumane rage, and he spoke a mystical word of command.

DROWSERYF!” screamed Damien Fell.

Stormshadow burst into flames.

The woman in black drew her own weapon, a long slender chain that looked to be made of some strange kind of silvery aelfynn-forged metal that moved through her hands like milk. Fell fought her, swinging the flaming black-and-read Stormshadow through the air, carving burning arcs of fire in front of the woman in black—- yet somehow she dodged the deadly assault that Damien Fell put forth, moving as softly and intangibly as a shadow.

“Nine Hells!” screeched Damien Fell. “You are nearly my equal in combat! Who are you?! Who is your master!?”

But the woman in black said nothing.

She simply fought.

As the battle went on, Damien fell weakened, becomming slow and sluggish as he fought, and his muscles slackened. Ocassionally the aelfynn chain that the woman in black fought with bit him on the cheek, in the arm, stinging him and drawing blood until Damien Fell got so angry that he screamed, “ENOUGH!!!!!

Bringing his sword into a defensive posture, Fell cried in a voice like the rage of a titan, “TSIFENOTS!

A huge fist made of pure jetblack stone flew from Fell’s out stretched hand, and struck the woman in black in the head.

She flew over the side, and fell down towards the oozing molten red stone of the River of Flowing Fire. Fell rushed to the side in order to see the death of the woman.

But just before the woman in black touched the surface of the lava……

……….she vanished in a puff of smoke.

There was a noise like a thunderclap, the sound of dispaced air rushing in to fill the void left by the woman in black as she dissapeared.

“Demonfire!” exclaimed Damien Fell. “She has some knowledge of Shadouwe Magycke, I’d swear it. I’ll neevr find her now. She’s gone— and I don’t know where.”

A look of iron hard-determination fell over Fell’s face. “But that does’nt matter,” he said, “for I have to journey to the Fiendfang in order to save the life of Princess Amberella………”

…..and here a hard, badass look of determination came into Fell’s eyes.

…….and murder every last motherfucker who gets in my way.


Pretty big spike here, guys.

~ Ian

So I came here after my last final today, and this is basically what went through my head:

Ian: I must check the stats on my blog! Because, after all, I need numbers to be validated…

Ian: *sound of jaw hitting floor*


Once my brain had recovered enough from the shock of seeing the site views…

Okay. Hold on. Some context here.

Today, my blog has had 4,964 hits. And it’s still climbing.

To put this in context, my blog has had more hits in the past TWELVE HOURS than it ever had prior to today.

I am astonished. No– I’m even more than that. I am astonishment. Personified.

There’s a simple reason for this spike. Remember those dumb lolcats that I made of Pat Rothfuss? Well, I sent him a link to them back in April, shortly after I made them.

Apparently he liked them.

Enough to link them on his blog.

I was aware that Pat had fans. However, I wasn’t aware that he had that many people reading his blog.

So that’s what happened.

Again, I’m still kind of in shock here.

Oh, look. We’re at 4,982 views now.

I don’t expect many of you who came here because Pat linked you to my lame blog to stay around. But if you do (and I really encourage you to), then here’s what you should know:

Hi, I’m Ian Johnson. I live in Santa Cruz, California. I’m a linguistics student, an aspiring writer, and a connoisseur of various fried invertebrates.

That’s all you need to know.

Welcome to my blog.

~ Ian

PS: 4,996 views now…

One thing that I always hated about blogs when I was growing up were the hordes of blogs that had just two posts. In every single case, these posts would be:

Post One: Hi everybody! I’m writing a blog now! You’ll get to see all my thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams and it’s going to be awesome and I’m going to have so much fun!!!!!!

Post Two: Sorry I haven’t been posting that much recently, life has been crazy, but I’ll post some more when it settles down! In the meantime, here’s a picture of my cat!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then, nothing but silence.

I’ve tried hard not to fall into that trap with Axolotl Ceviche. I mean, I’ve posted over a hundred goddamn posts by this point, for Tehlu’s sake. But even so, I haven’t posted anything substantial on this blog for weeks. Most of my posts have been the typical “Sorry life has been crazy I’ll post more later!” that you’ll always see on those two post blogs.

At least I haven’t posted pictures of my cats.

That is the source of Madness.

In any case, I have been busy. I only stopped being busy on Friday. And I haven’t been able to post this weekend– which I REALLY WANTED TO DO– because I’ve been having technical issues.

It’s maddening, I tells you.

So I’m checking in now. My long silence will soon be over. And then there will be much rejoicing, from the five of you who read this blog regularly.

Hope your weekend is awesome and doesn’t suck.

~ Ian