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The Power of the Bison - Or How to Fail Art Class

Back in High School I was forced by the powers that be in the Seminole County Public School system to take an elective art class for a credit.  For some reason the bureaucracy that was the School Board deemed this a necessary course and thus thrust people like me, with zero artistic talent, to take it.  I can tell you this, never in my adult life when at an interview or applying for a job did the recruiter demand I draw a perfect 3-d table or sketch a pineapple.  I’m not saying that learning how to draw is pointless, but in the pool of life skills one needs to survive this modern world it’s about as useful as a shark is as a floatation device.

So, reluctantly, I took this course.   It did not go well,  it did not go well at all.

The first assignment was to draw a table, sounds simple enough right?  Well not for me, I suffer from a particular retardation that seems to make me incapable of drawing anything properly, straight lines, even basic shapes like circles come out looking like spaghetti noodles.  There was one thing I could draw though, and that was the majestic beast of the western United States… the mighty Bison. 

So floofy…

I do not know where I discovered this intense burning talent I possessed to draw the Bison.  Perhaps I was imbued with the spirits of all the Bisons slain by western settlers who cried for one man to make people remember their proud majestic existence upon birth, it could be that I was born under the long lost Bison constellation, or maybe the Bison is my spirit animal eternally watching over me.  All I know is that my Bison-drawing skills were my only chance at passing this class.  Sure I couldn’t draw a bike, or a person’s face… the actual assignments the teacher gave us, but damn it I could draw all sorts of Bisons.

Draw a table?  I drew a Bison playing poker.  Draw the weather?  Bison in the rain.  Draw an abstract concept?  The regression of man as witnessed by a bison.  To explain that last one, I drew man… well as good of a facsimile of man as I could muster slowly turning back into an ape while on a hill in the background a lone bison watches over it.  Draw a still life?  Stuffed Bison.  Draw a 3-D shape?  I drew a bison inside a shaky retarded looking sphere.  I dubbed that one, by the way, ‘the trapped Bison.’  Each time I did this my grade got progressively worse, not better.  The teacher said I wasn’t taking the class seriously on my report card.  I never thought I’d see the day that an art teacher would discourage one student’s talent because it was unconventional.  I felt hurt, betrayed, and angry.  I cursed my Bison-drawing skills, if only I could have translated it into other drawings… but alas, Bison was all I knew.  I felt like… a lone Bison in the rain.

The true face of sorrow.

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The Streets of Rhy'din: A Journey Into The Whimsical World of AOL Chatroom Roleplay

We’ve all done things we are horribly embarrassed of, lets face it.  You live on this planet long enough you’re bound to have something in your past that, upon recollection, makes you cringe just a little.  Sometimes we must silently bear these scars alone, but not I.  For you see, my tragyic past is something of a shared experience.  A group effort, if you will, forged through the ever cool and not lame bonds of online roleplay.  More specifically chat room based, late 90s, AOL Roleplay.  Ah the late-90s, Dragon Ball Z was the hottest anime on TV, Final Fantasy 7 and 8 were released, along with a re-release of Star Wars, and The first Matrix film.  It was a time of great entertainment milestones, iconic moments in the world of gamer and geekdom, a glorious time for a socially maladjusted nerd like myself to fully engross himself into.  What better place to do it than RP Chatrooms on a dial-up modem?

In AOL Roleplay the realm was named RhyDin or Rhy’din or just Rhydin.  It was based on the rules of ‘uh…. what were the rules again?’  There was dice, but no one seemed to pay attention to it.  There was no level-up system.  No DM.  No universally recognized rules or real ways of enforcing said rules.  The RP community was so vast and there were so many variations on the rules that if you found two people following the same ones in an open chatroom it was the RL (Real Life for all you non-RP coolkids) equivalent of finding the Yeti riding the Lockness Monster like a jetski.  There were however some universal rules that most everyone seemed to follow, and I wished they hadn’t, some of the more notable ones were:

  1. Every room has rafters for the Vampyres to lurk and hiss in, even if the room is called ‘OPEN GRASSY FIELD WITH NO RAFTERS.’ Also, even if they don’t mention it in their profile, in character, or at all, virtually everyone is at least 25% vampire.
  2. Every child character is a super-genius of some kind, and can speak ‘perfect’ English, do magyick, and in general outsmart you at every turn, even if the person who is RPing him/her can’t seem to spell properly or show any signs of said advanced intelligence.
  3. Every female character is a badass battle maiden who don’t need no man with massive heaving tits and a seemingly endless libido.
  4. Virtually everyone is a ‘dark’ and ‘wycked’ and will endlessly make reference to using a ::wicked grin:: or a ::sinister laugh:: repeatedly in conversation, even if you’re just asking for directions.
  5. Everyone either wears all black hooded outfits, billowing capes, or some sort of celestial battle armor forged by Jesus.
  6. The Medieval crowd will insist on speaking in ye olde English, even if their only understanding of said dialect is that you add random ‘y’s into words and ‘e’s at the end of others.  If you speak to these people in any other way they will pretend you are speaking martian to them and yell at you in the dreaded out of character brackets in instant messages.
  7. Everyone has a tragyic past.  No one has gone through life apparently without their whole village being murdered while they were out gathering berries or some shit.  As if it’s an entire realm filled with JRPG protagonists.  Almost every female character has been raped, sometimes repeatedly.  Sometimes male characters too.
  8. No one has a normal name.  You must have at least three names, all with special characters and accent marks. (¯`’·.¸.·::»¥« Trîllÿånå §ådærå-Ðrågðñ »¥«::·.¸.·´¯), is an actual example and not something I just made up.  Seriously.
  9. Your Geocities, Angelfire, Homestead, etc. website is only allowed to use RED on BLACK colors, and everything must be bold text.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  Animated .gifs from Diablo 2 optional.  ::wyckid grin::
  10. Never, under any circumstances, question how it’s possible to be 25% werewolf or 50% vampire and not just a werewolf or vampire unless you’re prepared to listen to long typo-ridden dissertation containing elements of all of the above rules.

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Failed Article Ideas: Fast-Food Suicide

Believe it or not, even during the tremendous lulls of this site where there were no updates there were plenty of ideas and half-written articles.  Sorting thought my archives I came across one that stood out as a truly, truly, terrible idea.  This was originally designed to be an article series, in some way, attempting to illustrate how terrible fast food is for you to eat, especially on a consistent basis.  This, of course, is a relatively pointless message to try to convey.  You’d have to be an idiot to think eating any of that crap is actually a good idea.  There’s more studies and information about the dangers of fast, cheap, and processed foods out there that anything that I would do or say would only come off as either redundant or preachy.

That’s actually only part of the reason.  The idea was, to ‘review’ each new fast food sandwich or product that came out and describe in detail the after-effects of consuming said product would be.  The name of this article series, because I thought after eating some of these sandwiches that it was a real possibility I was going to die, was ‘Fast Food Suicide.’  Now, I’m not a paragon of health and fitness, but I don’t normally eat a lot of fast food.  My general tendency is to cook my own meals at home, and in general I don’t eat a lot of extremely fatty or salty foods.  I don’t even have cheese or breads that often.  This is actually the perfect storm for fast food to come in and thoroughly wreak havoc on my guts.  Thus there were some pros and cons to consider in such a writing endeavor.

Pros:

– Could be humorous.

– Could serve as a warning.

– Could deter sales of certain fast-food products.

Cons:

– I’d have to actually eat this crap.

– In addition I’d have to actually pay money to eat this crap.

– The after-effects are not always super unpleasant, but when they are… oh buddy.

– Do people really want to know in great detail that the triple baconator nearly made me die in the bathroom?

In the end, I did try four new fast food products.  Below are the actual reviews I wrote up for three of them.  The fourth I tried was that double-chicken sandwich that KFC made, but I never wrote a review for it.  Forgive me for anything that is written beyond this point, and may god have mercy on my soul.

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Open-Closed Diary

I’m really on the ball lately.  I went over to Opendiary.com to check in on someone, and … website not found.  After a quick search on google for what the issue could be, I found out that about three months ago the site had shut down for good.  Which, to me, kinda sucks.  You see, for a while I’d been wanting to get back into writing non-serious and semi-personal stuff on a regular basis so I was considering, after a near 12 year absence of going back to to my roots and keeping a blog there once again.  Since, well, it’s kind of where I got the idea in my head to be a writer in the first place.  Since I’ve been in somewhat of a slump, I thought it might do some good.

Then a thought occurred to me.  In the entire time I posted there I think that I did everything in my power not  to talk about myself at all.  I’d talk about politics, conspiracy theories copy-pasted from TOTSE (a big conspiracy BBS website that has since gone the way of the dodo much like this article’s namesake), post random humor, etc.  All to avoid talking about what pretty much everyone else talked about on the site, their actual lives and feelings.  In a way I was sort of a wanna-be guru and emotional voyeur, because I didn’t really understand emotions and mundane day-to-day experiences or at least insofar that I could articulate my own in a way I felt anyone would actually care to read them.  Frankly, the whole persona I projected was one big fat lie.  An act, if you will.

During that time, I think I was utterly incapable of being any different.  My goal in coming back was to get in contact with all the people I used to talk to and read that I could, and this time, try to relate to them and more so, be honest about myself and actually convey my real personality.  Well, at least that was the plan.  As now the site is kaput, plans change.  After debating with myself a little over what to do and waxing philosophical about the change in circumstances this will have to do.  To all the people that I’ve known from the Opendiary, inthewire, thewirecutters, and places in-between on the interwebs:  thank you for supporting me and for reminding me many times over the years that my self-defeating pretenses I use sometimes to justify being a hermit are plaintively false.  This goes double for Jeen and I hope you’re still out there.  I’ve always been terrible about keeping in touch but times change and I’m determined to make the effort to no longer isolate myself.

Part of this effort is that from now on I will update this website, once a week with the usual wide range of content.

So this is goodbye to the opendiary internet saga that I was embroiled with for so many years, there’s no going back to then anymore or making up for mistakes.  So be it.  This will be the last time I bring this stuff up.  Consider the subject closed.  Time to move on.

 

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Where the hell have I been?

I honestly couldn’t tell you.

A few nights ago I was standing in my kitchen, in my underwear, eating a Hot Pocket… going through a mental catalog of my life up to this point.   The last thing I accomplished, ever, that I can recall was when passed my black belt ceremony for Tea Kwon Do, all those years ago.  Since then, I’ve never bothered or tried to see anything through.  My life at this point, is pretty well… dismal.  I’m 30, I’m broke all the time, and frankly I had about all I could take of it.  I haven’t felt like I was worth anything at all in so long that I had all but given up.  For the past 10 years of my life I have done absolutely nothing, and I don’t say that to get pity or even a thought of ‘oh that’s not true!’  I say it because it’s the truth.  I know myself, I know what I’ve been doing and I have NOT been trying.  I’ve been floating along hoping that things would just magically ‘work out’ and waiting for a sign or something to get motivated.

I wanted to feel that … high I got from actually getting that belt.  I was so proud of myself, because it was so hard for me to do.  The training and all the times the instructors yelled at me and all the bumps but they always believed I could do something with my life.  They believed in me, just like a lot of my friends, and acquaintances over the years have, but the one person who didn’t was the one person who actually counted.  Me.  I have done a very good job over the years convincing myself that I wasn’t that good, that I wasn’t that smart, and that I would never be able to do anything big again.

For the past 10 years, I’ve wanted more than anything to write a book.

For the past 7 years the book has been in this perpetual re-write limbo where I throw out everything and start over.

For the past 5 years I’ve done nothing at all with it but sit around.

I want to finish something again, I want to do it so bad and for the first time in a long time I’ve managed to identify the source of my problem.  Distractions.  I always get wrapped up in a game or website or project of some sort that’s supposedly more fun than the ‘work’ of writing.  Where has that gotten me?  I’ll tell you.

Standing alone, in my crappy apartment, at 1 am eating a god damn hot pocket in my underwear.

I just… can’t do this anymore.  I’m motivated to finish this god damn book once and for all.  I’ve begun the process of re-compiling all my written material, all the re-writes, all the extra and miscellaneous notes and bits.  I’ve discovered an easy way to publish and distribute this book, and I am setting for myself an artificial deadline for the first draft.  December 25th.  I can’t think of a better Christmas gift to myself than to get the book sent off for it’s first ever editing.

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Honest Goodbye

A couple of weeks ago, my grandfather died. Which has brought not a fullsade of sorrow, tears, and grief as one would expect given the apocalyptic overtones of mortality manifesting itself in one’s life. What it has done to me, is make me think about the ramifications of his life and how it’s been like a specter lingering always over the lives of the family long before his demise. Meaning that, he’s almost always been in the background silently overseeing and moving events in the lives of my family for years. With him gone, nothing feels the same in those households, and they never will again given the unique position of the family hierarchy which was extremely dependent on him to handle everything.

He had to deal with a wife who was becoming increasingly aloof and difficult as she grew older, two adult children who’s marriages ended and forced a semi financial co-dependance on him, and four grand children. One dangerously close to an alcoholic, one with some serious anger and stress issues, one who gave him a great great grandchild, and one who did nothing but fight him tooth and nail for years over everything and anything. Guess which one I was.

All of us, at some point, needed him to get through some tough times, and in spite of the fact that it cost him his retirement to take in our family when my father ran out, he did what he could do to ensure we made it. It may not have been a perfect relationship, and we may not have agreed at times, but I never hated him. The man was selfless, and was the closest thing to a father I’ve had in my adult life. My mother would not have been able to survive taking care of four kids on her own after my father ran out on us when I was twelve, opening old wounds for me because of my adoption and the obvious subtext that implies. She was incapable of normal work due to severe arthritis, so my grandfather helped her get a place for me and my brothers.

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A Hell-Ride in the Trust Me Car

There was a time in my life, when I had a near-death experience.  Though there was no tunnel of light, and the ghosts of my loved ones to greet me or anything quite as dramatic as that.  Since I did not actually achieve cardiac arrest, thankfully due to the fact that fortune smiled upon me.  For once.

Several years ago, I used to work for a small-time computer wholesaler, and one of my co-workers was this Russian guy named Dmitri.  Dmitri’s family was originally from Moscow, they fled the soviet bloc in the 90s due to the political changes taking place and the sudden dramatic rise in the crime rate and corruption, as well as the higher cost of living.  That’s all I really knew of his family’s situation.  Dmitri himself seemed to wax nostalgic about the good-ole days growing up in Russia.  He said ‘it wasn’t that bad.’  He was semi-built, but shorter than me by about seven or eight inches, had brown hair center-part and almost shoulder-length, to give you an idea what he looked like.

Dmitri and I actually had no reason to get along, he was my opposite in terms of what he did for fun and what his hobbies were. He tended to like really heavy rock and metal, either screaming lyrics or dumb shit like Saliva.  You know, the guys responsible for that obnoxious ‘click-click boom’ song.  He was also a car enthusiast, and would often tell me about his car, which was a Mazda RX-7.   One time giving me a ride in his, he managed to achieve a speed of about ninety five miles per hour on the highway adjacent to our building.  A ballsy move considering the speed limit was only forty five. Often these fairly one-sided conversations were about the supposed superiority of rotary engines to the standard, and he would often download engine sounds and play them at me, explaining the differences in great detail.  To me all I heard was a bunch of obnoxious and loud noise, but his eyes seemed to light up with excitement every time, which I never understood why.  In addition he had a tendency to really like clubs, and drinking.  Especially drinking.

What we had in common was twofold.  First we hated the working conditions we had to put up with at our place of employment.  The wages were low for the technicians, even though not everyone could do what we did, but the sales people made about a thousand a week.  We were barely making three hundred.  We were working for Chinese Jews though, so perhaps some stereotypes can be true on occasion?  To give you an idea, the owner was this old Chinese lady, who sat in an office filled with gold and jade statues and wall-hangings, behind a massive mahogany desk that had to at least have cost a small fortune because the top was surfaced with a jade slab.  She would pull us in this office and tell us how they could not give us raises whenever we asked for better pay.  I myself, worked there for almost four years without even a slight pay increase.  They probably still wonder why I stopped showing up on time.

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No Hero

Over the course of my life I’m made a few mistakes, who hasn’t?  The particulars aren’t terribly exciting, and frankly bore me to explain them.  Think the typical boy-meets-girl realizes girl is fucking insane and leaves girl (or gets left by said girl) fare.  Afterward you kinda feel like the world is over if you’re the one on the other end.  It reminds me of a line from a video game, Max Payne.  ‘There are only personal apocalypses, and nothing is a cliche when it’s happening to you.’  Oh how true those words are.  In all truth, in all these cases it’s my own fault for simply not seeing it coming.

Recently actually the ball started rolling early for once.  In other words, I saw the breakup coming like a freight train.

Jeen-o been-o wrote something on her personal blog over on Open Diary (oh how I thought I’d never go back to that place again) speculating about why relationships fail, I then posted the subsequent reply:

“I think in relationships, especially long ones, people tend to believe that they love someone when in fact they only love certain aspects of their personality and so in a very passive-aggressive way try to bend them towards their will. Which leads to friction, which leads to arguing, which if not confronted leads to either a kind of bitter acceptance or total failure of said relationship. Of course that’s just my particular experience on the subject, it also may have something to do with some people being inherently cowardly or unwilling to assert their own will and so succumbs to a sort of domination by the other party.”

I have moments, between my weirdness and internal chatter where thoughts like that just bubble up out of nowhere and hit me like a truck.  These moments only seem to come for me when I’m extremely tired.  For years I used to intentionally stay up late hoping to be able to calm my defective ADD brain to the point where I could actually produce focused thoughts.

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The Times, Theys a’ Changin’ Sis

Ten years ago, I was a hurt, lost, stupid, angry person.   This was the first time that I began to write.   It was on a blog site called opendiary.com.   When I was that age, around 16-17 I was so angry.   It was eating me up inside like a cancer.   There were all those cliche’ feelings that one normally associates with being a teenager.   The largest and most prominent feeling was that no one cared about or understood me.   My family and I had nothing in common, and in being adopted, I discovered that in some way I felt like I didn’t belong.   Still don’t.   Likewise my school days were awkward for the same reasons, but in the group of misfits that hung around with they were loyal to me and they understood me, to a degree.   I lost contact with a lot of people that I really got along with, time rolls on, you know.   I turned to blogging because it was anonymous, I could say how I really felt to people and see what they really thought about me without the fear of being lied to or used or whatever.

The schools.  My parents, my real parents.  My life.   How I looked.  There were a lot of things that were wrong with young Chris.   My adopted father left me.  My mother made me live with my control freak grandparents, and this is where the story began for a lot of people.   One thing that I have noticed about personal blogs is that most people speak in vague generalities about their lives, delving rarely into the specifics.   It’s like how you would imagine a support group meeting would go.   Everyone already knows why they are there, everyone already can infer the details based on subtext.   The ones that didn’t do that were the ones I read.   People who were there to infer through subtext.   People I could relate to.

People like Morgan (aka Dublin Sublime aka Lachlan), who became a lesbian stripper sometime between then and now.   Nothing wrong with that, she seems happy about the whole thing.   Fanboy wanted to be a journalist, he said it was to ‘give the weak a voice.’   I don’t know if he was successful in that endeavor.  When I first posted my story, Monolithic Horizon, the first chapter, unedited, raw, sloppy, he read it.   I always assumed that because it was so awful he avoided reading me from that point on.   Probably wrong about that.   There was old real life friends that between then and now have faded away.   There was Serenity, no seriously that was her name, whom wrote about being so lost and confused that when out with friends she ended up in car wrecks and drinking binges.   Sometimes I wonder what ever happened to her and if she’s alright.  Belowblackstar, Jesus Chrysler, and Wire were all roommates.   Blackstar became an egotist who hurt his friends with his selfish behavior.   On my last site I eventually had to rid myself of him.   Jesus was a mysterious figure, he faded in and out again.   I don’t remember much.   Wire… Wire is a bastard.  That’s all I’ll say on that matter lest I go off on a tangent.  Doomed, doomed was an odd fellow from Australia, humorous and weird, but ultimately dropped off the radar.

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Dreams of the Future

Picture a skyline, and it goes on for as long as possible till it’s cut off by the edge of the horizon.   Even at that distance you can see great buildings and towers rising up like giants to worship the rising sun.   The buildings, the skyline, is not pristine and beautiful.   It’s dirty and grimy, and in that sky you can see bridges, little specks of life moving about, cables hanging, things moving.   Platforms and odd-looking vehicles.   Signs everywhere, a suspended sea of architecture and neon extending for what seems and feels like forever.

The future is not something I view with much hope in terms of progress.  When I see the future I imagine in some cases a mere continuation of all the crap and garbage we have to put up with now only on a larger scale.  Sci-fi authors, in the 40s and 50s seemed to have some sort of uptopian delusion wherein they pictured the future full of chrome and high-technology complete with self-cleaning houses and flying Cadillacs.  My grandfather used to ground me a lot when I lived with him and as a result the only things I could spend time with were old sci-fi and western novels.   Believe me, when I tell you he had a lot of them.   Apparently he’d buy whatever the public library would be phasing out of their book stock at the little store they had for a huge discount.  Most of these books were not classics by any means, don’t get me wrong some well-known works were in my Grandfather’s library.  H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Some various works of Issac Asimov.  Tons of Louis L’amour westerns, which, from what my grandfather says, is basically the most accurate western fare you can find.  The rest was all stuff with corny titles and features such as hilarious cover art depicting some dude with a mullet on mars holding a ray gun with a fawning space-babe on his shoulder.

So you can imagine me, grounded for something stupid, curled up in a ball in the back bedroom reading nothing but old dreams of the future day after day during most of the year.   A lot of these books were from the 40s through 80s.   Almost nothing current but I made due.   When reading these books some were surprisingly good, some were utterly forgettable.   The future was a shining place, filled with high technology and adventure.   When I was older this stuff could be real.   I could leave earth and go into the space fleet, scour new territories, explore the stars.   As time went on and I kept reading westerns as well.   I began to see romantic parallels between cowboys and space explorers.   Rough and tumble types always using thier meager resources and thier wits to save the day and get the girl.  

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