We Someones (Frost Street)

It is a fine thing, a Wednesday
dining with a face you’ve only
begun to know. In anger and shame,
we sing songs of yester ways and future

beers not quite like this. A name, a ripple,
a grapple, a chill. The shades of dinner & late
summer sun. We babes, we lucky ones.
We dreamers, schemers, we rats & goats.

Seeing with our beady, bleeding hearts.
Let the beer be mellow fire Wednesday.
We fellow, we fine. We fall. We pine. Always.
Not repent much for lust & anger spent

in Spring. Please let we be free as
men of ample green and gusto.

Someones

with names.
With friends
midst ground,
Not fame.

For There is a Dark Sky

So it’s been a long time since I’ve written any poetry, much less read any. But for some reason, today was the kind of day where it comes flying out of every part of my body, including the rude ones. But out came this little lyric.

And I know it’s Summer, and we’ve been having some beautiful summer days,
but the name of the poem is called, For There is a Dark Sky

At some point, I want to start putting more stuff up and do graphics, but I’d like to do something special to accompany the poetry. But in the meantime, considering this is the first poem I’ve written in awhile, I’ll let the words speak for themselves. So here it is.

For There is a Dark Sky

A reason for this unease, this distrust.
We raise our eyes to each other, suspicious.

A silent admission. Tightly sown anger.
Invisible griefs. We being chief

inspector of shadows. Will we be drowned
in the sea when the dark skies come? We raise

our eyes to each other to be saved. Islanders,
immigrants all. We fall like dominoes

Click. Click. Click. Stay on your toes
and believe that one day Grace be your God,

and love, and friends. So Stranger, give me a name.
Give me a name, Stranger. Give me my name

given to me some time ago. Always
the throes of the earth and the sky

shakes the stone where our stories are told.
But they couldn’t remember our names. Same be

our eyes! Try, try stranger to remember mine
and I’ll do in kind. No tricks. No hurts. No licking

of my lips. No forked tongue. No lies. Be kind,
not blind. Be as beautiful as I can see. Be mine.

And be bold and worthy of that Name that in
step with time withers the future away. Lines

of history. Of you’s and me’s. Of friends and favors
and we in kind. Be gentle. Shine,

for there is a dark sky. And I saw it
last with you, my Love. May it not last,

my Love. For in the wake of pain
we thrive. So let me be kind, be blind.

My First (Digital) Game Board

Built in Garry’s Mod for my game design class.

First G-Mod Board

A simple 8×8, sixty-four square game board.

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It took me about 2.5 hours to complete.

No thanks to these two clowns.

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But thank you two for your help…

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…even if you are doing that weird thing with your hands
and the robot is doing a layout.

Download Map with Board from Steam Workshop
(
working on getting the board up as an asset without the map -
if anyone knows how, please leave a comment)

Street Fighter IV: Beaten By a Girl

At tonight’s performance, Ryu will be played by Brooke S.W.

7 Eleven. That’s where I first experienced Street Fighter IIbut I was never any good at it. My cousin spent years pumping quarters into that machine. I stood in the background and watched. The competition was intimidating. “Block! Block! Block!” I just didn’t have the mechanical agility to get the concepts. I was only really good with the Nintendo controller and adventure games that required puzzle solving and thinking.

Out of all the game genres, fighting games continued to be my least-played. I just didn’t get the appeal. Now, with EVO and e-sports as a whole, fighting games are back in my purview. And last Saturday night was a chance to check it out again.

There were five of us: three guys, a birthday boy, and his girlfriend (our friend, too). She was stoked to go at it. I’m sure none of us can recall who went in what order, but we did let the birthday boy and said girlfriend play first. She picked Ryu (not Chun-Li like most of my friends assumed). When she beat her boyfriend (I can’t remember who he picked), quite convincingly, I was up next. I went to my old standby, Zangief, the hyper masculine Russian wrestler who to me felt like he had no reach.

She beat me. Then she beat my friend. The first person to knock her out was the game owner, whose apartment we were sitting in.

Over and over again, though, I exclaimed with surprise. “Wow, Brooke, just wow.” Befuddlement: “How are you doing this?”

Her response? “I do play video games occasionally, you know. I just happen to be skilled at this one.”

Why was I so shocked? Why my borderline sexist reactions? A girl? Beating us at video games? It didn’t last all that long, especially once we switched over to Marvel vs. Capcom, a more frenetic but less satisfying and responsive fighter. But still, how to explain my reaction. Was I surprised? Was I in awe?

This post definitely cannot be an in-depth post about sex and gender roles in game characters and game audiences – besides, Daniel Floyd does a damn good job in this video -

but I do think it is important to at least examine my reaction and my overwhelming joy that not only was I playing a game with a girl, something that doesn’t happen all that often, but also that I was being beaten by a girl. It’s also important to dovetail the Extra Credits video above and say that whenever I do discover a girl in gaming, it comes as a genuine and joyful surprise. Is it an evolutionary sigh of relief that whatever niche I sit in as a gamer will not be relegated to Y-chromosome only?

Perhaps. Maybe it’s also the idea that an activity and experience that I’ve treasured for so long has made its way past the boundaries of that 18-34 male demographic. Games are awesome.

So thank you anonymous female for teaching me how to use the ubercharge in Team Fortress 2. Thank you, Ms. Spyte for being an even better Zerg player than me. And thank you, Brooke, for taking a few hours out of your boyfriend’s birthday to decidedly kick my ass in Street Fighter IV. I look forward to our rematch.

The Fetish of The Fermata (1994)

fermata – a symbol in music denoting the elongation of a note, a stretching out

I am currently on page 185 of my second readthrough of The Fermata by Nicholson Baker, a book that my friends affectionately refer to as the “time freeze-rape book”. Not only was I revisiting one of my favorite all-time books, but I had to see what might remain now that the titillation of a first read was gone, i.e. is this “literature”? I’m happy to say that unlike most erotica, this book has substance.

The Fermata centers around a temp in his mid-thirties, Arno Strine, and his escapades in The Fold, or The Fermata, a time stasis where the he is still in motion while the rest of the world takes a breather. What does the man use his powers to do? To fondle and undress women who are complete strangers, of course.

I’m sure there are some of you out there right now who are actually not reading this, and I wouldn’t blame you. Bias: I am a pervert. Another bias: I enjoy good literature. The Fermata covers both of these bases. I knew that I’d have to reread what is arguably the hottest book I’ve ever read. What makes it so hot is not only that it’s seriously raunchy, but that Arno Strine is also a very sensitive guy with a streak of the romantic.

Perversion: (taken from Arno’s own erotica writings) “Keep pumping the brake and watchi this hot little cunt come!”

Poetry: (while talking about a former girlfriend) “Nineteenth-century novels were all-important to her. It wasn’t a question of hr liking them; they were a neurological necessity, like sleep. One Mrs. Humphrey Ward, or a Reade, or a Trollope per week supplied her with some kind of critical con-enzyme, she said, that allowed her to organize social sense experience. It was nice if the novel was good, but even a very mediocre one would do; without a daily shot of Victorian fiction she couldn’t quite remember how to talk to people and to understand what they said. I miss her.

Poetry AND Perversion: “Kneeling by the edge of the tub, I spotted something dark in the water near her feet. Her toes were curled around it. When I put my head very close to the surface of the lavishly chlorinated water, steadying myself on one of her knees, I determined that the object was, as I had of course hoped but hadn’t really allowed myself to expect,a large black realistic rubber dildo. She was bathing with her rubber dildo–oh poetry!”

What I’m realizing during this latest read-through is that this is no gimmick. The book is still hilarious and hot, but it also contains revelations, observations, and insights about everyday life and love. It’s like an erotica novel as written by Virginia Woolf. Sex is simply the force by which the realities of the mundane world are made significant and elevated to magic.

He also writes about relationships and loneliness: “I don’t think loneliness is necessarily a bad or unconstructive condition. My own skill at jamming time may actually be dependent on some fluid mixture of emotions, among them curiosity, sexual desire, and love, all suspended in a solvent of medium loneliness…Loneliness makes you consider other people’s lives, makes you more polite to those you deal with in passing, dampens irony and cynicism.”

If you can stomach the ambiguity that goes into Arno’s fantasies and time-freeze escapades, you’ll get a lot out of this book. If you’re turned off by the premise, this post, or the first few pages of the book, it’s understandable. Even Nicholson Baker admits that for all of his loneliness, intelligence, and sensitivity, the guy is a creep (which is maybe why I love him so much)

V-Day Couplet Day 1

They don’t display time on the train between tunnels
which lets me look long on you, beautiful stranger.

Book Shoppers Anonymous: “Time Enough at Last”

Something has been happening in my apartment. I have a new roommate. Boy, do I get rankled all the time for want of some alone time. It’s not just the apartment, though. It’s this entire city, it’s the world. He’s just stepped out, and now I have some time to listen to my own thoughts, to read, to write, to walk around the apartment naked. Most of all, though, I tell myself that if only I had more time to myself in the apartment, that I’d read more.

For those of you who know me, I play a lot of video games, and I may have even mentioned that up until a month or so ago, I hadn’t been reading much. So for those of you reading this, you might know, too, that by me saying that I’d read more if only I had more space and more time, is really just me rationalizing my own selfishness.

If we travel back in time to this summer when I wrote my post about detachment, Buddhism, and book-buying, I used that oh-so-iconic figure of Henry Bemis, the eccentric banker from a famous episode of The Twilight ZoneI’ve been watching the show recently from the very first episode, and my god, that show is dark, intense, and ahead of its (yes, here’s that word again) time.

Henry Bemis, as played by Burgess Meredith

In the episode “Time Enough at Last”, our tragic bespectacled hero Henry Bemis is a timid and eccentric bank teller and husband. He’s nearsighted and loves to read books. All Henry wants to do is read books and talk about books, but the real world represented by his wife, his job, and his boss, keep intruding.

The president of the bank tells him, “You, Mr Bemis, are a reader. A reader of books, magazines, periodicals, newspapers. I see you constantly going down to the vault during your lunch hour. You will henceforth devote your time to your job and forget reading, or you’ll find yourself outdoors reading on a park bench from morning until night from want of a job.” Bemis interrupts the president, to which the president replies, “Make it quick and get back to your cage.” Imagine this president in the age of the internet. Talk about the distraction and productivity killer to end all.

His wife is no better, talking down to him and his silly books, a lot like how people used to pester me about video games. She even takes a pencil to his book and vandalizes them. Henry Bemis is crushed. Even after Bemis tells the president how his wife will never let him read, driving him to desperate acts of reading the labels on the ketchup bottle, the president commends Bemis’s wife as a sound woman.

They all just seem like a bunch of meanies, at least to my roommate and his girlfriend.

So much of the episode sets up the viewer to sympathize with Bemis. This shy, timid, gentle man is just being bullied and misunderstood by the world. It’s certainly difficult for an informed and literate New Yorker like myself to understand how so much of Bemis’s world can be against books. It’s even more surprising just how anti-intellectual the world can be even now in the heyday of the internet and quick-and-easy access to knowledge. There’s Project Gutenberg and Wikipedia (which actually gave presented the idea of anti-intellectualism in this episode).

In my liberal time and place, education and being informed are often so highly regarded. I take it for granted just how much we value books. And that’s exactly what the story is trying to teach us, right? The world is just a bunch of dummies, and Bemis is the true hero because he reads books and is educated and understands the human condition and blah blah blah.

Then the H-bomb goes off as Bemis reads from the protected shell of a bank vault. He’s suddenly left alone. His pocket watch shatters. There’s no one to bother him. He has plenty of food, well, crackers, but there’s no one to bother him. No one. Soon enough he goes mad, finds a gun with which he’s going to kill himself. “Surely I’ll be forgiven…”

Then he sees the sign for the Public Library and approaches his version of Heaven.

“Collected Works of Dickens. Collected Works of Bernard Shaw. Poems by Browning, Shelley, Keats! Great Dramas of the World! Books, books, books. All the books I’ll need, all the books I’ll ever want!” No wonder this video was first shown to me in a high school English class.

Still, if this episode is a champion of intellectualism, then why is Bemis “punished” at the end of the episode? He embraces a huge clock when he expounds on having all “the time I’ll need. All the time I’ll want. There’s time enough at last.” And yes, secretly there’s a part of me that wishes for an apocalypse where I’m secretly vaulted up in the cellar of The Strand book store with enough crackers and salami to keep me alive.

And even though I’d be able to read all the Dostoevsky I wanted, and enough time to read The Fermata over and over again, surely I wouldn’t be able to make love to any of these books. I couldn’t discuss them with anyone, and let’s not forget that Bemis wants to discuss books with others. It’s not that he’s a recluse. He wants to

But with no markers of time, no people, no eyeglasses, no life to which our books and knowledge can refer to, it’s all dead anyways. As admirable as Bemis’s intellectualism is, he ultimately falls prey to his own desires. There’s a limit to it all.

What would Werner Herzog have to say about this, though? When he said that you can’t be a filmmaker if you don’t read, bemoaning a culture that only reads magazines and blog posts (like this one), did he see the blind spots of his own obsession with the written word? And what do we make then of this limitation of knowledge when David Simon, the creator of The Wire, one of the most critically acclaimed shows touted for being authentic and unflinching, tells us that we still need to be reading books because they do something television doesn’t? Or even when Buddhists must practice detachment from books and knowledge?

Was Bemis punished? Was it the world that was at fault? Or is this just an example of the amorality of our universe and the tragic nature of humanity? Even books can’t save us in the end, not even an e-book. But if books can’t save us, neither will all of our stories. When the big one hits, no matter how we view these stories as little time capsules, capturing history and slices of life, they’ll never be a substitute for living itself, even if that reality is a harsh wife and a demanding boss.

Is it really that simple, though? That cut-and-dry? Why shouldn’t we get our own little slice of paradise? As we’ve all most of us have learned, life isn’t fair. And as The Twilight Zone, books, and the events of the world have taught us all (oh-so-recently) we often live in a confusing, alien, and amoral world that all the books and knowledge could possibly fix or alleviate.

But I’d like to think it might help…

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