Meeting at the Crossroads

I found a prompt somewhere about making Faustian deals and meeting the crossroads demon. For someone who’s been catching up on Mike Carey’s Lucifer, and who regularly binges on Supernatural, this is a pretty irresistible prompt.

But the things is when you think about the crossroads, divorced from the mythology of making deals with the devil, it’s still a very metaphorically potent image. Think Frost and The Road Not Taken. It makes that image of the crossroads demon even more interesting, suggesting that someone who’s called up demons for some insidious designs had a variety of choices and chose maybe the stupidest one – do I go left or right or back, no I know I’ll go straight down.

So I got onto this idea, not quite in that direct path, but eventually, of what is the absolute stupidest thing you could make a deal with the devil for.

Incidentally, I was recently reading a book about a guy who mistakenly summons a demon and ends up causing a demonic strike and thereby wins a free wish from the devil. And with that, he chooses to become a superhero – as a part-time gig. This is not a stupid thing to wish for, in fact, I think it’s pretty awesome, and it was not a bad read – The Damned Busters, by Matthew Hughes. But this is entirely beside the point.

Back to the stupidity thing –
I don’t think a character who was actually stupid would be any fun. More than anything, you’d just feel bad for him, because if they’d be gifted with a few more brain cells, they might’ve wanted something else. So for it to be any fun, the wisher would have to be just particular about the way things work out in their life. For example, the type of character that fervently believed that the discrepancy between box, pl. boxes and ox, pl. oxen, was one of the greatest travesties in the history of humanity.

But then also to take into consideration – how would the rest of the world change? It would be infinitely more exciting if a small, seemingly insignificant wish – like I wish all milk was blue – suddenly changed everything about our world [This may be how that world in a galaxy far, far away sprung into existence, first blue milk, then LIGHTSABERS.]

I mean what if zippers never existed?

Or if small talk bore the penalty of death?

Or if springs didn’t exist?

Drifting into currents of that thought inevitably lead to the conclusion that someone could have made a spectacularly idiotic wish like that, and inadvertently caused all the major issues in the world, only we have no idea, because we never knew the true value of a dinglybop that never existed in our timeline.

Alas, for the dinglybop!

 

Getting the Grit Out

… there’s a part of me that is tired of this world in which people are so conflicted with each other. Superhero comics and movies have implied the bad points of reality in a tough and satirical way. Messages like ‘Heroes don’t save anything.’

But I wanted to say ‘No, it’s heroic if everyone combines their strength and works together” through aesthetics in response to these old messages. That sort of thing may not be enough for today’s world, at least not in America. For some reason or another unity itself is treated somewhat like a joke. I think that’s the sort of thing everyone’s looking for.

-Joss Whedon

The Avengers recently opened in Japan, and in a interview with Gizmodo, when asked about how the Avengers existing in our world with the current social climate and concerns, he gave the above reply. Basically, let’s get over that whole dark, gritty thing.

Here’s the thing, I love the dark gritty take as much as the next person, but when it comes right down to it, I’m the type of person that loves romanticism, and loves things that are passionately, and unabashedly vibrant and emotional and fantastic. I believe in the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism. Which makes total sense, because to be a geek is to essentially love something passionately and unabashedly. So even though I occasionally enjoy something that takes a “new” attitude that’s slightly darker and slightly edgier, I will never take as much pure unadulterated joy in the dark, gritty as I do in something that celebrates its romantic origins.

More on this later…

Prompt & Response – Speechless

Today’s prompt is Speechless.

The idea is to write about someone who has been rehearsing this speech over and over and over again in their head, trying to ingrain the perfect words for the the perfect moment in their head.

But when that moment arrives,for some reason, they don’t say a word.

I thought about this on my way home today (I had forgotten why I like walking places, and how much I enjoy it…. ) and came up with a few different ideas. I will probably eventually pick one and write, or maybe I’ll even write them all. But for now, while they percolate, here’s what sprang to mind (and stuck – sometimes they bounce back into the void because they’re terrible ideas and deserve to die sad lonely deaths) when I thought of being Speechless.

  1. A love affair between a photograph and war widow
    I had thought a bit more of a plot line up for this, but when I summarized it just now into that pithy description, it opened up a bit, and now I think that I was maybe pigeon-holing into something when it could be much better… But the main idea is that unbreakable wall that exists in that situation. No matter how much either of them may have to say to each other.
  2. A speech that keeps being shaken clear, like a scribble on an Etch-a-Sketch
    While the prompt was percolating in my mind, a song came on my iPod, and one of the lyrics said something about a shaken glass ball, maybe like a snow globe. So I got this image of someone composing this speech, either out of admiration or admonition to say to this faceless presence that keeps ‘shaking’ the speech into oblivion… the idea kind of reminds me of a short story Neil Gaiman wrote for the Matrix.
  3. A robot who’s in love with another robot, but can’t say it, because he only speaks in beeps and whistles.
    In case you’re wondering, the afflicted robot looks kinda like a trash can and is in love with a robot that has a distinctly golden hue.

Endorsed by the Universe

My decision to ride my bike to work has been endorsed! BY THE UNIVERSE.

That’s right, my decision to live a greener lifestyle and be healthier so inspired THE UNIVERSE that it decided to jump on board and support my decision by taking away the choice to drive to work. As I toiled away trying to fix up my ancient mountain bike last night, kept company by Buffy and her slaying activities, the Universe was acting on my behalf to make sure I could keep promises to myself by taking out my car’s transmission.

It may sound like I’m being sarcastic, and well, I probably am a little bit, but I also am not a little bit. I’ve always been the type of person who doesn’t believe coincidence is all that common… not to say everything is part of one big cosmic plan, but just that generally – things work out. And I really do sort of see this as confirmation that I’m on the right track. At the very least, choosing to see it this way will allow me to be exponentially less discontented.

On the flipside, poor Simone is effectively in hospice now. Let us all say a prayer for the Little Car That Could.

Also, if anyone knows anyone who wants a junker for $500… SOLD!

Of the Bicycling Kind

One of the things that’s difficult about trying to work full time and write in my spare time is managing priorities.

Since it is having two jobs, I really should have no spare time for any other things, except maybe half the weekend. This makes me feel like a really anti-social person occasionally, and makes it a bit difficult to have other personal goals. Rather, it’s pretty easy to have those goals, but difficult to devote any time to them.

Which is not to say that I’ve given up completely. I just have to get a little more creative.

For example, I’ve been trying to move towards and keep in mind is living a little greener. I only work a couple of miles from work and don’t really have a reason to try to bike between work and home. This would be marvelous, because I would be exercising and  using less fuel, and this would not only would save me money, but would also make me feel awesome, like I’ve got Captain Planet’s approval (the nice one, not Don Cheadle). And it wouldn’t take up that much extra time, because [sadly] I have to go to work anyways — this is all around a win-win-win arrangement!

Except —

My bike has flat tires and has been in this condition probably since I brought it down to LA.  Rectifying this includes a number of tasks that guarantee to eat time the way Galactus eats planets.

I’ve decided that this project, and the accompanying tasks to complete it, fall into the category of NECESSARY ERRAND. So I now have to do several things to move it forward, including, but not limited to:

  • determining if my tires can be patched or if I need new tubes
  • figuring out how to determine if my tires can be patched or if I need new tubes
  • learning how to either patch my tires or replace the tubes
  • and getting into good enough shape that I can bicycle a gentle 2-mile incline in a reasonable amount of time without sweating horrifically and arriving at my office looking like I came through a rainstorm to get to work

You’ll notice that there is a lot of learning, figuring, and general prepping involved in “riding my bike to work.” Mostly because I am tragically, maybe a little hilariously, unprepared for physical exertion of the bicycling kind.

Here’s the biggest problem. There is a very fine line between NECESSARY ERRANDS and Necessary-Errands-taking-up-so-much-time-it-turns-into-procrastination-because-I-spent-the-whole-weekend-dunking-my-tires-in-the-bathtub-and-looking-for-bubbles. In fact it’s not so much of a line, as much as a slow transformation, that you notice very suddenly Sunday night, when you realize you haven’t written more than a page and you still have bicycle tubes hanging out in your bathtub.

On the flip-side is the graveyard of abandoned projects that never get up and running because I wandered off halfway through.

So. I am going to try to fix my bike this weekend, and get used to riding a bike around in traffic again, not to mention doing things other than sitting on my couch or at a computer. But I am also going to be keeping a sharp eye on that non-line line. And maybe wasting time trying to devise a way to both ride a bicycle and write at the same time.