Blog Archives

The 2016 Sometimes-Annual Aravan Awards!

It’s been a couple years since I did this, but I thought that if there was ever a year that deserved to be celebrated by a two-bit writer on a pointless blog, it’s 2016.

OK, wait a second. First aside (and it might be a record coming in on the second sentence – although the chances that I’ve done it before in the first sentence is becoming likelier the more I think about it): it’s been a long-time habit of mine to be self-deprecating and insulting to my abilities and this blog. It’s a tradition, of sorts, mostly because I try to be humble and also that I recognize that, in the world of writing, I’m barely the speck of dirt that will one day invade a pore and give rise to a pimple on the ass of the world’s literary giants. I might not even be that important. Anyway, I recognize that my talents are limited and this blog is rarely updated and barely worth the cost of reading it (opportunity costs, folks. You could be learning about dimorphism or the Egglet-Burke Theory or how to properly season a cast-iron skillet instead of wasting your time here). So I know these things. But I’m going to take a conceit from my favorite gaming-related blog (The Angry GM) and, instead of being self-deprecating (read: honest) about my abilities and this site, I’m going to go the opposite route. For the remainder of this post, I will assert that I am an amazing writer, the GREATEST WRITER, and this site is the most prestigious and exclusive gathering of the greatest distilled thought that millennia of evolution have worked towards in building to that apex of human development, me.

So I’ll basically pretend like I’m almost every other blogger ever.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 10: An Overdue Conversation

This is the tenth chapter of this story, in case the title didn’t give it away. If you want to read the others first, or if you’d like to read them in random order (hey, I don’t judge), here are the other chapter links:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

Chapter 6: A Great Plan

Chapter 7: Taking a Few Shots

Chapter 8: Waiting For It All to Blow Over

Chapter 9: Ducking and Covering

The universe had other plans for me besides a stiff drink or seven. It always did. “Before you pickle yourself,” Severa said, “I need you to ring my contact. You’ll want to be sober for the meeting.”

I grabbed some filtered Earth water instead with a scowl. The label made it look like Earth was a pastoral wonderland and the water therein was hand-filtered by nymphs. I grew up there and knew it probably came out of a rusty spigot in some filthy bottling plant. I drank it anyway in a misguided show of solidarity for my species. “What’s the name?”

“Don’t worry about that,” she responded, clicking on her omni. Mine buzzed silently as she sent me a message. Just a number with no information. “You have encryption on your piece of terracrap?” She was recovering quickly.

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Everything Isn’t Going To Be OK

I have a life mantra, a simple phrase that encodes and distills my own personal philosophy and a guideline for how I live my life. Many of us do, a sort of inspirational and motivational quote we pin on the corkboards of our hearts, something we turn to in times both dark and light. Most of those mantras came from wise and revered people, like Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, or Michelle Obama, or Mark Twain, or Dorothy Parker, or someone considered to be deep and learned or witty. Thinkers, philosophers, the lights of the human spirit.

My life’s philosophy comes from a terrible head coach of the Washington Redskins, a man unprepared and ill-equipped to run a team of people who run around and play for a living while sacrificing their physical and mental health for entertainment. A man who is little-remembered for good reason, and certainly isn’t wise, not even in a football sense. The saying that I hold as my guidepost to surviving life was espoused by a man whose signature playcall for the sportsball team I follow was this:

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My guru is Jim Zorn.

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I’m Afraid to Write

This blog in general doesn’t contain a lot of personal stuff about me. This is one post that is intended to be very personal. I’m warning you now. This is a good time to go back to whatever else you might enjoy as you kill time at work or in line or wherever you like your distractions.

Anyway, like I said, this blog tends not to have much that is very personal. There is some, here and there, mostly when I’m trying to explain why I’m not updating the site, or when I feel like I need to scream into the void. Some things are very, intensely personal, but I put a façade over them and use the voice of the persona I use when I write here. This emotional distance is a reflex, something I’ve always done, a way to keep myself functioning in a world that is often, to me, a swirling maelstrom of chaos that I’m unable to comprehend or understand without a remove and a wall of sardonic cynicism and sarcasm. And passionate feelings about cupcakes and smoke detectors.

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5 Things for Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

1. Jack Chick died today. If you don’t know who he is, you probably didn’t play Dungeons & Dragons back in the ‘80s. Chick was a fundamentalist Christian comic artist who wrote tracks presented in comic book form. These railed about the terrible things bringing American civilization directly into the ARMS of LUCIFER HIMSELF, like Masons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, sports, role-playing games, music, bare navels, evolution, peach pits, homosexuality, Halloween, girls wearing pants, critical thinking, and wearing sandals without socks, to name a few. They were, and are, terrible, bigoted, narrow-minded, and thoroughly, deeply hilarious. They never fail to make me laugh every time I see one. So in his way, he brought a lot of joy to my world. I think if Jack Chick was right about his beliefs, he’d probably be in Hell right now, but if my worldview is correct, his consciousness is no more and he is as one with the Universe now as he was before he was born. I think that’s a nice thought. It’s certainly more than he would have ever wished for me.

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This is laughably inaccurate. When we play D&D, we wear white robes and only draw 2 circles around the pentagram.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 8: Waiting for It All to Blow Over

This is the eighth chapter in what was originally going to be a short intro to the characters and has turned into a much longer story than the original story I planned on telling. Sometimes that’s just what happens. If you’re crazy enough to read it in order, you can find the other chapters here:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

Chapter 6: A Great Plan

Chapter 7: Taking a Few Shots

It took us a while to get to where I was taking them. I wanted to stick to alleys and back ways and avoid eyes as much as possible. I also didn’t head directly to the destination. Instead we meandered, sometimes doubled back, occasionally stayed put in a hiding spot while Severa got some rest. Lorelei was looking fresher and wanted to talk but the turian wouldn’t let her ask questions, always putting her off for later when we weren’t being actively hunted. I didn’t bring up the fact that we’d be in that situation until we managed to wipe out a large criminal organization that had infiltrated an unknown number of C-Sec operatives. I didn’t want to put a damper on anyone’s chipper mood.

All in all, it was the most effort I ever put into going to a bar, and that’s saying something.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 7: Taking a Few Shots

This is the seventh chapter in what was originally going to be a short intro to the characters and has turned into a much longer story than the original story I planned on telling. Sometimes that’s just what happens. If you’re crazy enough to read it in order, you can find the other chapters here:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

Chapter 6: A Great Plan

There was no talking for the next couple of minutes, unless you count swearing. I did plenty of that for all of us. I leaned out whenever there was a gap in the gunfire and fired as many rounds as I could, but the pistol was heating up fast. I had all the ammo I needed, what with each shot being tiny, but the immense speed they were fired built up a lot of heat. Too much and the automatic failsafe would kick in, leaving it inoperable until it cooled down again. Five seconds without a working firearm was a lifetime in a firefight.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter 5: Watchful Eyes

This is Chapter 5 of my sci-fi detective noir short story. If you’re one of those weirdos who likes to start from the beginning, choose something earlier below:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

Chapter 4: The Turian Inquisition

Either the bed was deceptively comfortable, or a day that included dealing with my sister, traveling millions of miles, and ending in a police station made me a lot less picky. My head was aching from my high-speed introduction to yesterday’s wall, but some painkillers, scotch, and a shower improved my outlook. I didn’t normally drink this early, but, to be fair, I wasn’t often up this early either. I suited up, wishing I was wearing some heavy assault armor instead. The message I got saying “Congratulations! Almost twelve hours before you got picked up by the cops – M” certainly didn’t improve my mood. I had a bad feeling about the day. That wasn’t unusual, because the days I woke feeling like life was great always ended up terrible. A bad feeling was almost encouraging.

I hit the streets and made my way back to Tranquility. The streets were busier than yesterday, the respectable folks and their opposites going about their business at the tail end of the Ward. I got propositioned twice for action, one that called for a bed and another that called for k nuckles, and passed on both. I figured I had enough problems already.

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The Brave Girl

This is the short story I wrote for my wife for Valentine’s Day. As I’ve said previously, it’s the first story I wrote after 4 years or so, and it was the first thing I needed to write in a very long time. She inspires me every day, and I wanted to share with her a little glimpse of how she is in my imagination. This is a small part of her, and since people asked to see it and she said it was okay, I’m sharing it here.

Also, the drawing is a sketch I made of Spaniel Day Lewis for the Valentine’s Day before this one, and since he also graces this story, I thought I’d share it, too. I’d illustrate the whole thing if I could, but I sadly lack that talent.

Once there was a girl who lived in a house that was down a hill and up a hill away from the woods. The girl loved the woods very much, and was often found there, exploring the hidden places and listening to the music of the trees. She was very bright and imaginative and kind and clever, and a million other wonderful things besides, but most of all she was brave. She felt no fear under the boughs and amidst the brush, even when the shadows lengthened, because she loved the forest near her home. There were always adventures to be had there, and she would run or skip or stalk or sit quietly, however the mood struck her, as a branch became a wizard’s staff or a wind-borne blossom sprouted fairy wings or all the birds gathered to sing her a lullaby.

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A Serpent in the Citadel, Chapter Four: The Turian Inquisition

This is Chapter 4 of my sci-fi detective noir short story. If you’re one of those weirdos who likes to start from the beginning, choose something earlier below:

Chapter 1: The Big Sister

Chapter 2: Long Walks and Short Thoughts

Chapter 3: Time for a Drink

On the bright side, I hadn’t been arrested. They drove me to their local station, took my pistol for safe-keeping, and had me cool my heels in a spare office. The small room made Madeline’s look ostentatious. I wondered if decorations were against the rules. The place was doing a brisk business, with a bunch of drunk and disorderlies along with some busted brawlers. It reminded me fondly of my military career.

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