Reflecting on the Greats: George RR Martin

I’ve decided to start a new blog series to fill idle time when writers block attacks. I plan to write short entries to pay homage to the authors/writers which I look up to and who have influenced me in one way or another. I’d like to focus mainly on particular attributes of each, highlighting the obvious as well as the subtle in an effort to outline why I think they’ve elevated above their peers.

My first tribute is going to be on an individual we all know (unless you’ve lived under a rock or haven’t turned on a television in the past five years): George RR Martin, acclaimed author and creator of the enormously popular series A Song of Ice and Fire. Better known, of course, as Game of Thrones.

As many know, Martin was a lesser known writer until GoT dominate the headlines. This is the first thing I’d like to note which warrants respect. His dedication and love for the craft allowed him to persevere through countless efforts at making himself known, finally paying off at a level very few can ever dream of. This, I believe, is an attribute so few have, and even fewer maintain throughout life. It is one that certainly warrants respect from anyone who knows how difficult it is to stand out in one of the most competitive fields one can aspire to.

The second thing I want to mention, and one which absolutely boggles my mind if I’m being honest, is the sheer complexity of his stories. I’m not talking complex plot lines here, either. This dude has got to have what I can only imagine is one of the most absurd brainstorming sessions imaginable. I don’t think you need to be a writer to understand and appreciate the level of detail he consistently achieves.

Another thing I’d like to commend for Martin actually has nothing to do with writing. As we all know, any time you rise to the apex of your career, people tend to consider more than just your work. When one garners the world’s attention, the individual is taken into account as often as their creations. Martin’s personality, in my opinion, is an appropriate for someone of his stature. He doesn’t have an overly inflated ego, he’s down to Earth, and he’s maintained a playful demeanor. Case in point – just the other day I saw a picture of him wearing a T-Shirt he had made. On it was a quote: “Be nice to me or Tyrion’s next!” Now come on…that’s pretty funny. These kinds of things make me respect him not only for his creative genius, but for his character as well – which I would argue is just as important.

I’ll stop here for now. The only negative thing I can think of in regard to Martin is the freaking wait for the next installments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware how long these things take to outline, write, and edit – but he’s pushing it in my opinion (and that’s the consensus among his fan-base if you don’t follow him). Its to the point now where its a running joke, in fact. I suppose he’s earned the right to take as much time as he damn well pleases, though, so I digress.

In any case, that’s my general take on someone who will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest writers of our time. I can only aspire to someday obtain a mere fraction of the cultural significance he’s so rightfully earned.

Here’s to you, Mr. Martin. Oh…and please don’t kill Tyrion.

Love & Loss

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Adalasia: First Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

A curious thing happened today.

It’s amazing how different things are, amidst the bombings and the shells and the shouting. A week ago I was making pies. Prepping soups upstairs in my father’s shop. My days were filled with that of cheer and joy. Now I find myself coddled in a corner, hiding in a dusty cellar. Trembling at the sound of footsteps approaching in fear that the invaders will find me.

They say this town is important for the supply lines. It seems to change hands every day; Allies by morning, Axis by night. Its hard to keep up.  My only knowledge of the outer world is obtained through my inquiries to our occupiers. Today it is the Germans. Tomorrow, for all we know it will be the US 7th again.

There was a man, yesterday, who was unlike any I’ve met from either side. Usually, the American soldiers offer chocolate bars, or perhaps a postcard of famous Hollywood actors or the like to obtain my good graces.

If only they recognized the chaos that their war is causing.

But today was different. This man approached without words, took my hand and looked directly into my eyes. No trinkets to impress. No shiny things to win the shallow affection they’re always after. Without pausing, he told me he was sorry for all of the pain he could tell I was feeling. He said he was sorry that there are people in this world who can cause such atrocity, and that he, at that very moment, was stuck in the same window of helplessness I am. That he felt the pain with me.

I was speechless.

Before I could muster a response, he gently released my hands as he looked somberly to the floor. As if speaking to himself as much as he was me, he explained how sorely it hurts every time he pulls the trigger, knowing a life is being taken. A life that was raised somewhere else. By someone else. Someone who he will never know. As he talked, his eyes eventually returned to mine. The glaze over them created a kind of mirror, and as I gazed within I could not help but notice the blurred reflection of my own, tearing eyes.

He told me his name was Adam.

I hope I see him again.

Adam: First Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I wonder if Father is proud of me.

He always told me I would grow to accomplish great things. Yet here I lay, cold and cramped in a cot hardly fit for a prisoner.

When I joined the 7th, they told us we were undertaking one of the most important missions in history. That we were putting an end to the tyranny and devastating effects of Hitler’s Nazi regime. And while I still stand behind that sentiment, I find myself conflicted.

The things I have witnessed are unimaginable. The harsh realities of war are something one can never fully comprehend until they are experienced first hand. Loving sons stricken from their families. Kind fathers called to duty to fight for a cause with which they may not even agree. Why? Why must we occupy a world which holds such little regard for love and generosity?

It pains me to consider these things. I continue to fight, because the grander cause is one I believe in. Yet a profound agony courses through me every time I take a life. It plagues my mind as I lay here, trying to sleep so I can briefly escape this world of ours. Dreams provide my only solace.

There was one glimmer of happiness today, though. My unit overtook a small portion of Sicily, and I was ordered to obtain food from a local bakery. As I entered, I found myself enamored by the shopkeepers daughter. I could sense her pain, as I imagine she had been watching helplessly as the day’s battle ensued. I held her for a moment as I tried to provide whatever solace I could muster. She tightened her grip as my hands held hers, and I cherished such an embrace. For a short moment, we were two strangers sharing unspoken feelings of hope and compassion.

She told me her name was Adalasia.

I hope I see her again.

Adalasia: Second Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

He was here again today. Adam, the handsome soldier from the US 7th. I can still see that unbridled yellow hair, flowing freely in the breeze. That subtle sparkle, gently shimmering like the setting sun’s light reflecting off his golden locks. He came into the shop today and asked for bread. His unit was most hurried, as there seemed to be an important objective being sought after. It seems they are advancing further into the city.
But we were able to speak today. He had time to engage me in conversation. At first, he teased me that my English was broken, but he then put his hands on mine and smiled, telling me my words were as beautiful as the glimmer in my eyes. He gave me a bar of chocolate, laughing as he did so, saying it was cliche.

He told me that coming to our shop was the highlight of his day, and that he would do anything he could to be assigned to this particular task. Because he wanted to see me. He wanted to experience the same feeling he had the time before, when he held me and forgot about the terror surrounding him.

It was a powerful feeling, when he stood and grasped me. It was as if he was channeling his pain into our embodiment. I felt his love.

Please return, Adam.

 

Adam: Second Entry

July, 1943. Sicily.

I can’t wait to see her again.

Adalasia. Such a beautiful name. The dry spots on her hands tell me that she’s willing to take on the burden of work. The city had a food cart stocked to try and provide help to the needy, and she was the first to volunteer her service. She cares about  people, I can tell. I watch her as her eyes follow the children of her house, playing and having fun. The smile that takes over her face as she sees how happy they truly are, without a care in the world.

And then the siren rings.

The piercing tone changes everything. The kids playing on the floor scatter to the underground cellar door. A door that will lead them underground, into a dark, cramped room where these feelings of love and happiness are absent. A room that houses the same fear, desperation, and hopelessness I’ve seen in the towns before.

These people. They’re innocent. They don’t deserve this.

A day must come that changes things. Good people have no place living like this. I wish there was more I could do.

I long to see her again. For the first time since landing in this Hell, I have found something which can actually coax a smile out of me.

I believe I shall “accidentally” find myself around the bakery tomorrow.

Adalasia: Third Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

He might be the greatest man I will ever know.

Adam came by today. It wasn’t to see me, though. Not this time. He said he came because the Germans were expected to attack tonight, and he knew he would be launching artillery in this area. So he came to do everything he could to barricade father’s building. Then he showed us the proper places to hide when the fighting began. We are so very thankful to have someone care for our protection.

Before he left, I walked with him outside for a goodbye kiss. He stopped me at the door, firmly holding my waist as he looked at me with that bright hair and shimmering smile. He said that he would never let harm befall me. He said he would protect me that night, no matter what. That he would make sure the bombs landed far away. He promised to direct them away from us with his shelling.

And he did. He did exactly what he promised he would do. This was the first battle that hasn’t shaken this house.

All because of this Adam…a deeper love I will never find.

Adam: Third Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

I do not know what to think.

I cannot decide what my disposition is to these Germans. We have been taught that they are all evil. That they are all terrible, horrid people who deserve nothing more than the iron fist of American judgment.

And yet, I am conflicted. Is it true? Is this entire army of Nazis truly evil? Or does good dwell amidst their ranks? Are there good men? Men who would pick up someone when they’re down? Men who love their mothers and children with all their heart, and truly want what’s best for their families?

These questions occupy the empty space in my mind, filling it with wonder and doubt. What is the truth? How can I be expected to blindly take the life of another human being without knowing their character? I cannot find reason to make sense of this.

Adalasia. She is my only release from this madness. Her innocence. Her beauty. Her kindness. It overwhelms me with emotion. She has a hold on my heart which I fear cannot be released. The subconscious, sublime cohesiveness that we share has taught me the true meaning of love. I love her. And I will do anything to shield her from this horrific world we have created.

This war has taught me one vastly important thing.

There is no greater calling than to protect the people you love.

Adalasia: Fourth Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

I know not what to say.

My mind is clouded by constant fears of the atrocities my love is forced to endure. The perpetual horror that he may never return.

I want to join his ranks. I want to fight the Germans with him. It sounds silly for me, a mere baker’s daughter, desiring to join the fight. Yet it is so. The message must be sent, my love. Let me fight with you.

Please, Adam…I can help.

Adam: Fourth Entry

August, 1943. Sicily.

My dearest Adalasia. How I love that girl.

Yesterday, I returned to her shop. She and I have grown quite enamored with each other. We share a love that words struggle to describe. I’ve always wondered if I would ever fall in love, as I have put great thought into the topic. I find that love takes many different forms. There is, of course, the initial, shallow love. That which we feel by instinct. Some might call it simple attraction. And then there is the grander love that most spend their entire lives searching for. The one that causes us to wed, to have children, to enjoy life, and to be happy. The one that gives you meaning.

But then…then there is an even deeper, profoundly unique love. A love found only in times such as these. A love so visceral that it transcends outward description. The only way to comprehend it would be to feel the sensation. The kind of love that manifests when a grenade is thrown into a room, making it your first instinct to jump on it. That’s when you really know you love someone.

For that is what happened today. The Germans launched a small counter-attack this afternoon to take a portion of the city, the bastards. As Adalasia and I were having lunch in the apartment above her father’s bakery, I found myself caught at the front end of their assault. Captain said no one saw it coming. None of us did.

A pair of them came into the bakery. They must have seen my helmet on the post outside and decided they would take me by surprise. I would have never seen them had she not been standing by the window. Upon hearing them ascending the stairs, I fired a few shots through the wall. I missed. The cowards threw the blasted potato masher into the room close to Adalasia as they hid behind the stairwell. The two of us looked to her feet in horror, locking eyes in a brief moment that seems now like a blur. I don’t remember what went through my head, if anything. I jumped to cover it after shoving her onto the nearby mattress, and for my eternal gratitude to God it didn’t detonate. It was as if my body wasn’t under my own control, and some mysterious force had compelled me to sacrifice myself to spare her life. We were saved by some of my squad, who were having coffee across the street. It was the most horrifying twenty-three seconds I’ve ever experienced.

I did not realize, until this evening, the magnitude that action carried. We all say we would die for love. Now…I know. My deepest consciousness sought first to protect her.

The truest, most genuine love there can be. That’s the energy I share with Adalasia.

We share an iron love, forged on the anvils of war.

Adalasia: Fifth Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

My attempts to join the fray went unheeded. Father said I was crazy for suggesting such a thing. He says the passions of a baker’s daughter aren’t strong enough for war.

Adam makes it a point to make sure the bakery is well-guarded and equipped for whatever may come through. Or whoever, I should say. The chocolate he brings is always fresh. I adore him for the little things he does for me. We took a walk yesterday, through the market square and over to the theater. There was a play taking place about the American soldiers leaving their homes to come fight the war. Adam and I stood there, motionless, watching the actors and actresses pretend to feel the pain of loss. We did not condemn them. Instead, we applauded their efforts, because we knew that they were going through the very same struggle as we. They have lost loved ones, as we all have.

The pain of losing friends. The pain of losing family. The impact of which I cannot convey. Not through mere words. It must be felt to truly understand. Why must we continue to battle? Why? Will a day without hatred, without malice, without violence ever dawn? I so deeply long for peace, and happiness.

Happiness more so than anything. Oh Adam, how much I love you.

Adam: Fifth Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

They’re coming.

We don’t know when, but we know. The Germans are launching a massive counter offensive. We’ve been expecting this for weeks, as it’s crucial that we maintain control of the supply lines. Sicily is too valuable a target, and we should have known they would defend it to the very last man.

Our intelligence officer has intercepted a telegram that we are to be confronted in the coming days.

My time in this war has given me so much perspective. Some of the things I’ve seen are nightmarishly horrific. Seeing the atrocious ways a human being can treat another human being when under the guise of war is among the most terrifying observations imaginable. This isn’t a world that anyone deserves. I feel the heaviest weight on my heart when I see a little girl be saved, only to find her parents dead from the shelling. I feel the weight of the farmers who are being forced to provide rations to the Nazis against their will.

It hurts to think about. I must protect Adalasia. That’s the only thing I can hold on to in this world of chaos. She gives me purpose. I love her for that. And for so much more.

Why am I fighting this war? That was a question searing in my head for the longest time. But now I know. I’m fighting this war to preserve the short glimmers of happiness that such love provides. It’s what were all fighting for.

To be happy. Life…the battle that shall never end until it ends.

I love her so much.

Adalasia: Last Entry

September, 1943. Sicily.

I cannot do this.

I can’t. I’m so afraid. They’re here. The Germans. They’re retaking the city. They’ve launched an overwhelming counter offensive to regain control of Sicily. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. My God please help me. Please, I’m begging you. I can hear the gunshots outside. I can hear the footsteps of the German soldiers. Oh my God please don’t let them find me. God, if you’re there, please, don’t let them find me. I do not want to die. I cannot fathom parting from this world without him.

Underneath the register. Hiding. That’s where I am. Please find me Adam. Please. Make them go away. I can’t do this. This cannot be the last night I see. Adam, please help me. Where are you? Please help me. I love you, Adam. I love you more than anything.

Oh my God. They’re coming in.

Adam: Last Entry

My dearest Adalasia.

You changed the world for me. There are so many things I want to write to adequately explain how important you are. But my words would never do it justice. I found myself when I met you. You were the most important piece of my life. I love you. More than anything in this God Forsaken world, I love you.

I’m bleeding, my love. There isn’t much pain. I was shot running toward the bakery when I heard the German attack. I fear I won’t survive, Adalasia. My body rests upon a small hill of broken cobblestone. You know the hill I speak of. The one where we chased the rabbit that day, until it slyly hopped under the cover of these stones. These very stones. I suppose this is a fitting place to die, as I am reliving that day right now as I write this.

I’m dying, my love. This I know.

Please: whatever unfortunate soldier finds my body; please deliver this parchment to my Adalasia. She lives at the bakery, just East down the road. Please. Axis, or ally. I beg you from the depths of my soul. Give this letter to my love so she knows how much she meant to me.

She changed my life. She breathed meaning into the emptiness that for so long plagued me.

Adalasia. I love you so, so much. Please don’t forget me. You are my everything, and if there is another side to this life, I will turn this universe upside down until I find you.

Remember me, my love…and find happiness.

For us.

Love & Loss: 12

My dearest Adalasia.

You changed the world for me. There are so many things I want to write to you that explain how important you are. But my words would never do it justice. I found myself when I met you. You were the most important piece of my life. I love you. More than anything in this God Forsaken world, I love you. 

I’m bleeding, my love. I was shot as I ran toward the bakery when I heard the Germans were launching their attack. I’m not going to survive. My body is resting upon a small hill of broken cobblestone. I am going to die. This I know.

I beg you, whoever finds my body, deliver this parchment to my Adalasia. Please. Axis, or ally. Please. Give this letter to my love so she knows how much she meant to me.  

She changed my life. 

Adalasia. I love you so, so much. Please don’t forget me. You are my everything, and if there is another side to this life, I will do everything in my power to find you. 

Please, my love. Remember me.

Love & Loss: 11

I can’t do this.

I can’t. I’m so afraid. They’re here. The Germans. They’re retaking the city. They’ve launched an overwhelming counter offensive to regain control of Sicily. I’m so scared. I don’t know what to do. My God please help me. Please, I’m begging you. I can hear the gunshots outside. I can hear the footsteps of the German soldiers. Oh my God please don’t let them find me. God, if you’re there, please, don’t let them find me. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. 

Underneath the register. Hiding. That’s where I am. Please find me Adam. Please. Make them go away. I can’t do this. I can’t let this be the last night I ever see. Adam please help me. Oh my God Adam where are you? Please help me. Adam I love you. I love you more than anything.

Oh my God. They’re coming in.

The Revolt Returns: 7

shhhhhhh letusoutofthisstupidjaryouslickhairedmaniac shhhhhhh

Back in the Lenghornian village, Dustin the Determined is carrying around his jar of wisps like a trophy. Easily entertained, he looks at them with the grin of a school boy looking at his first bowl of sea monkeys.

“Ha!” He laughs. “Stupid wisps. Bet you wish you hadn’t made fun of my hair now, huh?”

shhhhhhh pleaseletusoutforreal shhhhhh ithinkcarljustfartedanditsmells shhhhhhh

“Nope.” Dustin says, setting the jar down on the windowsill of his plastic straw hut.

Chopping lettuce in an attempt to help the brainless cooks keep the salad window stocked, Dustin hears a knock on the door.

“Dustin, we have news from the East!” A soothing female voice shouts. “Come, join us in the square!”

Pointing his knife and squinting at the wisps as to say “behave while I’m gone”, he sets the blade down and joins Stephanie the Sweet outside. His curiosity stirring, the pair hurriedly make their way to the center town square. Finally reaching the rest of the villagers, they settle into the crowd. Standing center stage behind a podium, Connee, The Fairy Queen of the House of Front, announces the grave news.

“Lenghornians! I come to you with news of utmost treachery! Our Barfly Gnat scouts have caught wind that Spam intends to overrun us with an army of Chilians from the East!”

GASP!

“This cannot be!” Jade, a girl that everyone obviously wants to “get to know” says.”I thought our Eastern Border was protected by the Calver army!”

“Alas, my dear,” Connee begins,”just because they are next door does not mean they have the capabilities to protect our lands. In fact their burger patties are far too thin to shield any of the Chilian siege weapons. We cannot count on them.”

“She speaks the truth.” A soft, reserved voice says from the back of the crowd. Stepping forward, Johnny the Gentleman offers his services. “Dear Fairy, allow me to raise a regiment of Lenghornian Revolters. We shall defend the realm until our dying breath.”

“Huzzah!” The Lenghornians cheer, patting Johnny on his firm buttocks.

Nodding her head and waving her tong wand, Connee manifests a leather tunic and suit of armor for Johnny, which he assertively grabs and straps on.

“You will need this as well, my Knight.” Connee says, handing Johnny a gleaming silver serrated steak knife.

“Steakscalibur!” Johnny says in astonishment. “Where did you obtain such a legendary relic?”

“Alas, my dear, twas easy for a Fairy of my level.” Connee says with a snide grin. “Come! Accept that which I bestow!” She shouts as she hands Johnny the beautiful blade. “You will lead your fellow Lenghornians, along with Dustin the Determined, to victory! I have read the prophecies. They tell a tale of a massive battle to come! We must prepare!”

“Huzzah!” The crowd shouts. “To war!”

 

 

 

The Revolt Returns: 5

Ommmmmmm……

Ommmmmmm……

High above the Eastern mountains, the eerie chants of the Chilians can be heard.They are monks, a strange religious group who gain their deep understanding of the universe by basking themselves in the slightly spicy salsa that is provided upon the table greet.

The Lenghornians have spent a long time battling internally, relentlessly trying to iron out the most fair forms of management. And their sacrifices have not gone unrewarded. No, not at all. For the Lenghornian’s have braved the oppression of those such as Slobert the Magnificent. They have cheered as they overcame the wicked District Manager. They persevered and came through when time were toughest as they slaughtered their way through the treachery of Slug and Kelsey. Now, they face another foe. A foe that they have not yet seen. For the Chilians have colluded with the manager known as Spam, a new insider and force known to practice espionage. Spam sits upon her managerial throne, cackling as the Lenghornians unwittingly think they have won the fight. They have no idea what is in store. No, not at all.

Muahahahahahahaha!!!

Love & Loss: 8

August, 1943. Sicily.

My dearest Adalasia. 

Yesterday, I returned to her shop. I have seen her on several occasions now, and she and I have grown quite enamored with each other. It is a deep love that we share. The kind that words struggle to describe. I’ve always wondered if I would ever fall in love, as I have put great thought into the topic. I find that love takes many different forms. There is, of course the initial, shallower love. That which we trust by instinct. Some might call it simple attraction. And then there is the grander love that most spend their entire lives searching for. The one that causes us to wed, to have children, to enjoy life, and to be happy. The one that gives you meaning.

But then…then there is an even deeper, profoundly unique love. A love found only in times such as these. A love so visceral that it transcends outward description, as the only way to comprehend it would be to feel the sensation. The kind that manifests when a grenade is thrown into the room, and your instinct is to jump on it.

For that is what happened today. The Germans launched a counter-attack this afternoon, the bastards. As she and I were having lunch in the apartment above her father’s bakery, I found myself caught at the front end of their assault. The captain said no one saw it coming. None of us did. 

A pair of them came into the bakery. They must have seen my helmet hung on the post outside. I would have never seen them had she not been standing by the window. Upon hearing them ascending the stairs, I fired at them through the wall. I missed. They threw the potato masher into the room close to Adalasia. I then jumped to cover it, and for my eternal gratitude to God it didn’t detonate. It was as if my body wasn’t under my own control, and some mysterious force had compelled me to sacrifice myself to spare her life. We were saved by some of my squad, who had been at a coffee shop across the street. It was most horrifying.

I didn’t realize until this evening the magnitude of what that action meant. We all say we would do it for love. Now, I know. My deepest consciousness sought first to protect her. 

The truest, most genuine love there can be. That’s the energy I share with Adalasia. 

We share an iron love forged on the anvils of war.

The Revolt Returns: Ep 4

“Guys! Look what I’ve got!”

Hastily returning to the server village following the completion of his quest, Dustin the Daring waves his spoils in front of him as he struts through the village’s main street.

Hearing the commotion, the servers of Lenghorn gradually exit their huts one by one, finally meeting in the town square. As they all form a group in front of the square’s Breadboard Center Stage, Dustin takes his place in front of them as their new hero.

“Behold!” He shouts, holding the leather satchel carrying the fabled colors of Xavier the Rainbow Unicorn up so all can see. “See what I hath returned with!”

“Oh my goodness, he did it! He actually did it! Our hero!” The group of new girl hires that no one really knows yet but the guys still wonder if they party all say, batting their newly hired eyelashes.

“Yes, I did it!” Dustin valiantly shouts as he reaches into his satchel, seemingly to pull out the colors that were lost in the Forest of Broccoli Florets. Pulling out a glowing container instead, he holds it above to show the Lenghornians.

“Behold! A jar of captured will-o-the-wisps! We shall now have them as our pets!” He shouts with a gleaming smile.

Suddenly, the Lenghornians fall silent.

“What the Hell?” Chris the Comical asks. “Wisps?! We sent you after Xavier’s colors!”

“Oh, right.” Dustin says, quietly laughing to himself as he shakes the jar to stir the annoying wisps. “I just thought it’d be cool to capture these stupid things. They talk so funny, ya know? Hisssssssss. Ha! Stupid butterflies. Anyway, here ya go.” He adds, reaching into the satchel again and nonchalantly tossing the jar of colors to Chris.

As the Lenghornians see Dustin give Chris the colors, the excitement immediately returns.

“Our hero!” The girls say again.

“Quickly!” David the Hard to Come Up With An Appropriate Title says, “We must get these to Xavier!”

“Huzzah!” The Lenghornians cheer. “Long live Dustin!”

Forming a line, the Lenghornians all begin making their way East, just over the Potato Hills toward the land of Mystical Creatures. Xavier retreated to these lands after losing his colors, ashamed of being the only monochromatic Rainbow Unicorn in the realm.

As the group reaches their neighboring lands, they become awed by the fantastical beings they’ve never before seen.

“Look, Pip!” Rachael the Randy says. “Its a mythical Barfly Gnat! I thought they were only real in stories!”

Overhearing the two hostesses with the mostesses, Blake the Bartender leans down to tell them what the world is really like.

“Oh no, dear hosts.” He says. “The Barfly Gnats are very much a part of our reality. We simply choose to subconsciously ignore the little things even though we all know and laugh about them. After all, what could a Barfly Gnat do to us? They are no threat.”

“Wow,” Pip the Pretty Hot and Tempting says. “You are so wise.”

“Aye, he is indeed.” Chris the Comical says, holding his hand up to halt the group. “Stop! We’ve reached our destination everyone! Time to find our friend.”

Seeing the Lenghornians approaching from his Fancy Schmancy Unicorn Oasis, Xavier reluctantly begins to make his way toward them to say hello.

“Hey guys…” He says, his head hanging low.

“Xavier! Oh, how we have missed you!” Stephanie the Smart says, walking up and patting him on his shapely buns.

“Yeah, I’ve missed you guys too. I just…well, you know.”

“We DO know, my friend.” Chris says, approaching Xavier and resting his arm around him. “Which is why we brought you this!”

Pulling out the jar of colors, Chris the Comical unscrews the lid and shakes the magical greatness back onto the coat of the true Rainbow Unicorn.

“WOW!” Xavier suddenly shouts, obviously invigorated by Chris’ application of hues. “Where, how, why, guys?!” He says in bewilderment, shocked that the Lenghornians have gone through the trouble of finding his colors.

“Because we freakin love you!” Chris shouts. “Duh! Plus, how many Rainbow Unicorns do YOU know? You’re the only one I’ve seen, so I’d say that makes you pretty darn worth it.”

“Gosh. Thanks guys. Ya’ll are the best.” Xavier says in profound appreciation.

————————————————–

And so that’s how our hero, Dustin the Determined, saved Xavier the Rainbow Unicorn from losing his colors. Occasionally, the frequency of which depending on the cool down timer of course, our equestrian friend can now use his colorful flow to resurrect a select individual from beyond the veil. Yes, things in the Lenghornian village finally seem to have reached a peaceful, non-oppressive point. They may now enjoy life for what it is. Fun.

But wait.

There are wisps stirring. Rumors, brewing. An uprising, you say? It must be investigated. For all we know is the realm of Lenghorn. And this realm, we must protect.

Dum dum dummmmmm in a really deep base soundddddddd

 

 

 

 

Love & Loss: 5

July, 1943. Sicily.

He is the greatest man I will ever know.

Adam returned today. His first instinct was to barricade the wall, because he knew exactly what artillery strike would be taking place. He came in with that gleaming hair and shimmering smile and told me that he would never let me be harmed. That even though his unit would be bombarding this part of the city, he could not let harm fall to me. He came to me with such love, firmly holding the locks of my hair and kissed me so passionately that I will never forget his grasp. He said he would protect me that night. That he would make sure the bombs landed far away from me. And he did. The bombs landed further away than ever that night.

All because of this Adam…a deeper love I will never find.

Love & Loss: 4

July, 1943. Sicily.

I can’t wait to see her again.

Adalasia. Such a beautiful name. The dry spots on her hands told me that she was one that was willing to take on the burden of work. She was the first to volunteer her service, making sure none that followed had anything that needn’t be done.She cares about  people, I can tell. I watch her as her eyes follow the children of her house, playing and having fun. The smile that takes over her face as she sees how happy they truly are, without a care in the world.

And then the siren rings.

It changes everything. The kids playing on the floor scatter to the trap door that the Father has made. A door that will lead them underground, into a secret room where these feelings of love and happiness are absent. A room that houses the same fear, desperation, and, hopelessness I’ve seen in the towns before.

These people. They’re innocent. They don’t deserve this.

A day must come that changes things. I miss her. Adalasia. If you’re still out there…I love you.

Love & Loss

July, 1943. Sicily.

I hope I see him again.

It’s amazing how different things are, amidst the bombings and the shells and the shouting. A week ago I was making pies. Prepping soups upstairs in my father’s shop. My days were filled with that of cheer and joy. Now I find myself coddled in a corner, hiding in a dusty cellar.Trembling at the sound of footsteps approaching in fear that the invaders will find me.

They say this town is important for the supply lines. It seems to change hands every day, Allies by morning and Axis by night. I don’t know how to keep up.  The only knowledge of whats going on in the world is obtained through my inquries during the requests handed to me by whoever happens to be occupying us on a given day. Today it is the Germans. They want rations, which we are able to supply as one of the only bakeries on this block. Tomorrow, for all I know it will be another from the US 7th.

There was a man, yesterday, who I truly hope returns. He was unlike the others. Usually the men offer chocolate or some sort of postcard of an American actress. But this one…he approached me directly, took my hand and looked at me straight in my eyes. Without pause, he told me he was sorry for the pain around me. He told me he was sorry that there were people in this world who could cause such atrocities to happen, and that we, at that moment, were stuck in a window of helplessness. He told me that he felt the pain with me. That he understood exactly what struggle I was going through. That he regretted every time he pulled the trigger, because he knew he was taking a life. A life that was raised somewhere else. By someone else. Someone who he would never know. I could see how much it hurt him.

He told me his name was Adam. And that he would find me, if God allowed, when this was over.

Good & Evil: Chapter 20

You know, I generally try to maintain a neutral feeling when I sift through these journal entries. Helps keep me sane, ya know? But I have to admit, I’m sort of feeling for Mikal. It sounds like he played his cards just a bit too poorly and ended up getting the shit end of the stick. 

Maybe he doesn’t see the good in other men. Maybe he views the world as a blank canvas that’s just waiting to be painted on, and whoever paints the best wins. Is this how life is supposed to be? A constant attempt of trying to outdo the other guy so we can parade our marketability? Depth is a dwindling trait, indeed. But I choose to believe that life is more than that. It’s the experience of experiences; the short window where we get to cram in as much happiness as we can. Because ultimately that should be the goal in all endeavors. To generate happiness. Everything we produce, everything we create, everything we imagine…should be conceptualized to further and better the lives of us as biological organisms. Create happiness. 

That is the key to life.

Poetry 

So I’ve decided to dip into poetry, since it’s such an appropriate outlet for expression. Not to mention some of the greatest writers ever were poets (hashtagrolemodels).

Reflections

It’s not a dying art

Unless we let it be

Why forget the ways of old

Of paint and poetry

Our friends can give us comfort

When we need it so

But any bad experience

Is a perfect time to grow

Forget the things behind us

Move forward every day

No sense in looking backward

If you want a new today

Our lives are but a coaster

Rolling in the wind

Always chasing happiness

With hopes it won’t rescind

So if you’re feeling lonely

Or simply feeling down

Know that someone’s out there

For whom you’ll wear a crown

Pushing Boundaries: My Day at iCube

Let’s be honest – we all have a nerdy side to us.

Whether it’s experiencing a new Star Wars movie at an IMAX theater or wreaking havoc in the latest GTA game, we all enjoy an occasional escape into the newest tech. This is all well and good, considering we live in an age where technology dictates the quality of huge portions of our day to day lives. In such a rapidly advancing industry, there’s always something new right around the corner to satiate our appetites for the cutting edge.

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to get a full on peek at several ground-breaking technologies that are being worked on by the brilliant minds at iCube – a fast growing technology firm located on the campus of TN Technological University (Cookeville, TN).


When you first enter iCube, you are greeted by one of their core philosophies: IMAGINE

iCube, a firm with hardly a year of operation under its belt, has already garnered a plethora of multi million dollar projects. They’ve contracted with private and public entities, their work ranging from hospitals to municipalities.

A friend of mine, Mack Lunn, is a project manager for the institution and was kind enough to give me an in depth look at some of the projects they’re working on. Read about my experience below.


The Oculus Rift – a gateway to another world

My introductory “lesson” was to familiarize myself with one of the primary outlets they work with – virtual reality. Not long after I arrived, Mack had me strapped in and ready to delve into (for me) completely uncharted territories. Once I was positioned correctly, he tuned me into a few of the on board programs that ship with the oculus by default. They were rudimentary apps developed (I imagine) for that very purpose – familiarization. I stepped into the shoes of a virtual line cook, taking orders and cooking digital food. I protected my castle as it was besieged by hundreds of little e-barbarians. I warped into the future and defended myself from dozens of laser shooting drones, moving about in my small space to dodge their fiery attacks. Needless to say, it was freakin’ awesome.


Hitting your VR tour guide with a clipboard is exactly as much fun as it sounds

After realizing I was having entirely too much fun with the default video games that all Oculus devices ship with, Mack’s next step was to show me one of the actual projects that iCube is working on. The first thing he showed me was perhaps the most relevant in terms of scope and benefit to society, which I’ll get to shortly.

In the grand scheme of things, the virtual reality arena is in its infant stages. The technology is finally available on a wide basis, and firms are just now beginning to apply it to all sorts of different industries in a practical manner. In iCubes case, they are currently working on a program with hospitals that will benefit diabetic patients. Here’s how:


The coolest $500K ride I’ve ever been on

Apparently doctors have experienced significant difficulty with getting diabetic patients to follow nutritional and health guidelines, leading to negative results. This is a big problem in the medical field, and one that I’m sure anyone in the medical industry can attest to. So, seeing the problem, there was a behavioral psychologist who one day said “Hey, why don’t we show people what’s happening in their bodies if they ignore our instructions? Maybe then they’ll get it and start eating right.”

This is where iCube comes in. The hospital basically tells them “We have this problem. We want to show people what’s going on in their bodies, and we want them to be able to experience it as if they were inside themselves. People are more likely to respond well and follow directions if they can actually see what’s happening to them.”

iCubes response? “Say no more.”


We come in peace. Take me to your leader

Cue the visbox, the thing you just saw in the photo above. This was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in quite a long time. I got to strap on some goofy looking glasses that made me feel like I had alien antennaes and then took a holographic ride into clogged arteries, walked around inside a human heart, and was apart of a group of red blood cells straight chillin’ in someone’s veins. Needless to say the visbox experience was, as the bards would put it, “totes amaze balls”. And to cap it all, the best part is that these programs are having a positive impact on people’s health, furthering the humanitarian mission of iCube.

The next thing I got to do was tour the development studio. This was great because I’ve always wondered how things go from being an idea in someone’s head into a real program that you can fiddle around with. So Mack took me into what I can only call the Main Event Room, because it looked like that’s where most of the work was getting done. It reminded me of the pictures I’ve seen of Bethesda Studios, Bioware, and the like. Lots of figureines, loads of dual monitor setups, and some super-bad computers.


And now, the main event!

Here I was again strapped into an Oculus, only this time I was sitting in a chair. I got to play around with a project that the firm is developing for the Tennessee Aquarium, virtually snorkeling through a river as I watched contamination levels rise and fall, noting the impact it had on the aquatic ecosystem. The program they ran for me here was one that illustrated how important environmental factors are in regard to marine life.

Finally, one of the last things Mack walked me through was the world of 3D printing. Now I’m sure you’ve all heard of this, but actually seeing and fiddling around with the stuff is so much cooler than watching it online or on TV. Truthfully, I’m still somewhat floored by the fact that human beings have figured out how to literally print objects, but I digress. I doubt that’s something I’ll ever be able to wrap my head around.


3D Printed T-Rex. Rawr!

The stuff starts out as just a simple thin line of plastic, almost like a thick spool of fishing line. Moments later you might have yourself a dragon for your desk, or perhaps a tyrannosaurus if you prefer the Dino route. In any case, the 3D printing process is one of the coolest concepts I can think of in our recent history. And there’s no telling how it’s going to impact different industries. There was one story I was told where a paleontologist used to dig up dinosaur bones and make casts of the incomplete parts, selling the skeletons to museums and collectors for about $30K. His casts costed about 20/25K to produce at the end of the day, so he saw a somewhat healthy profit, right?

Well, when the 3D printers heard about this, they offered to scan the pieces bit by bit and simply print them out of their material, ultimately resulting in an absurd decrease in production costs (down to like, $500/$750). And these pieces were even more durable than the ones created before! How’s that for efficiency? This was a mere glimpse at how the world is going to be changing due to technological advances.


A 3D printed dino who’s name I can’t pronounce 

There were several other things I got to toy with during my time at iCube, but for brevity I’ll stop here. It really was one of the coolest days I’ve had in quite awhile, and I must give a very loud shout out to my friend Mack Lunn for giving me the tour. Thanks man!

The future is now.

The Creative Process

I always enjoy talking to creative people. After all, human creativity and ingenuity is what shapes the world we live in. I find it fascinating to listen and learn the creative process that people use during their brainstorming sessions. 

It’s interesting because it’s never the same. Everyone has their own, original methods that work for them. I thought about that for awhile and decided to share some of my own processes when it comes to how I create up my ideas for writing. 

When I’m writing the Continuity storyline or continuing the work I’ve started on Currency, I generally like to stay secluded. And I mean totally secluded. If it’s daytime, I’ll hang sheets over the windows and completely block out any ambient light. But usually I get my best writing done during the late, introspective hours of the early AM. The key, for me, is to have absolutely no stimuli save the computer screen. My entire focus is on the story in front of me. This helps tremendously as it assures there are no distractions whatsoever, and I can completely envelop myself in the story, almost becoming apart of it myself.  It’s a very unique sensation.

Occasionally I’ll take my laptop out, order a beer somewhere, and just observe people. My first chapter of Continuity reflects this, as the bustling restaurant scene depicts servers running about. I’ll also write at the dog park from time to time, which inspired one of my characters (Squeak) of the second installment of Continuity, which will be released within the year. 

My goal when writing is to expose myself to various environments, because they always influence me in different ways, resulting in a diverse narrative. 

When I’m blogging, on the other hand, my process is simply to think. I always wonder what topics would be interesting for others to read about. I know I write a lot of opinionated stuff, which to most people is fodder, but I also try and be open minded about most things and encourage others to do the same. Ultimately, my goal with my blog is to gain exposure as a writer and to spread ideas that might help promote free thought and introspection. So my process there is to constantly think of topics that might be worth writing about (such as the creative process). To that end, I am always thinking about this. Even when I’m out in public, if something happens that I think would be noteworthy, I’ll write it down on my iPhone notepad. That way I have a reminder later on of something I can write about. Blog ideas are everywhere, so it’s important to always be aware of those opportunities.

Now as far as journalism (I write a column in my local paper), my process is pretty simple. I research the people I’m writing about. The column I’m referring to is called “Millenials Making a Difference”. It’s a column I started that highlights graduates of my counties high school that are making a positive impact on society. My first article, for example, was on a woman who started a website that helps people get rid of the adversities that are holding them back, such as addiction, abuse, etc. It’s a great idea and has helped a lot of people. Here is a link to her site. 

In any case, I think the creative process is far too often overlooked. I really enjoy hearing how people come up with the ideas they come up with. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them in the comments. In the end, we can all learn from each other 🙂