Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Things Fall Apart

Perspectives on Things Fall Apart

Given the multitude of works we have been reading on cultural perspective in our Theory and Methods class, one would think that the atmosphere presented in Chinua Achebe’s book would be very easy to process and digest. However, certain details in the book rub me the wrong way, so to speak.
The atmosphere of the story is fine. That is to say, it is not completely unfamiliar to me. Growing up, I would read story after story of African Folktales, so the setting of the tale is literarily familiar to me, as is the style of writing. The rhythm is different from what one would consider a standard Western work, with a non-linear narrative, and few works spared for unnecessarily elaborate descriptions. The voice of the narrator follows the speech patterns of the Umuofia people in the book, sprinkled with intermittent proverbs to provide the “palm wine for the words.”
It is specific aspects of the Umuofia culture that disrupt the narrative for me. The constant threat of war and the specific detail of Okonkwo’s drinking of palm wine out the head of his first war kill unnerve me, and though I remind myself that this is a different culture, it is still difficult to put aside my cultural bias and accept this as a part of life for these people. Perhaps it is so unnerving because it is a detail that coincides with part of the negative stereotype of Africa, in which the native inhabitants are war-like savages. To “civilized” sensibilities such a practice as beheading enemies in war as well as drinking from an enemy’s head are considered “savage” and “war-like” and I daresay contribute and validate at least part of the stereotype. That is not to say that such a generalization is accurate, but that it serves as a reminder that sometimes negative stereotypes—though not necessarily “fair” or “nice”—can be grounded in fact.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Annotated, pt. 1

“Industry Fights Law on Violent Video Games.” Crain's Detroit Business 21 vol. 43 (2005): 1, 27. A study conducted by Governor Jennifer Granholm found that in 26 of 58 game stores in six counties, children as young as age 9 could purchase such violent games as “Grand Theft Auto,” “Manhunt,” “Doom 3,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Resident Evil.” This 2005 article describes an Illinois law that would render it illegal in Illinois for game retailers to sell violent video games to minors with fines as high as $40,000. However, state Attorney General Michael Cox and Wayne Country prosecutor, Kym Worthy have filed a suit against it for violation of freedom of speech.

Koffler, Daniel. “Grand Theft Scapegoat.” Reason 37 (2005):72-3. Daniel Koffler presents a perspective on the video game violence debate, by condemning the state laws against them. He claims that making retailers sell according to ESRB ratings is not simply a violation of free speech, but completely ineffectual, citing the lack of conclusive data linking video game violence to real life violence.

Tresniowski, Alex. “Driven to Kill?” People (New York, N. Y.: 2002) 64 no. 13 (2005): 97-8. On June 7, 2003, Devin Moore shot two police officers in cold blood, then drove away in their cruiser. The scene of the crime was eerily similar to a scene from out of Grand Theft Auto, a game that Moore played avidly. This serves as a specific instance that is often used to illustrate a link between video game violence and real life violence.

Whitehead, Barbara Dafoe. “Parents Need Help.” Commonweal 132 (2005): 9-10. Dafoe reviews the question of how much power the state should have in dictating what is “good” for children. She reviews the actions of Governor Rod Blagojevich in his efforts to outlaw the sale of excessively violent or sexually explicit video games to children under 18. The governor, however, was balked in his efforts to instate “content descriptors” by both the Motion Picture Associate of America and the Entertainment Software Rating Board who maintain that parents should be the ones enforcing restrictions on what their children purchase and play.

Hamilton, Anita. “Video Vigilantes.” Time 165 (2005): 60, 63. Another review on the case of Governor Rod Blagojevich further details his plans for his fight against violent video games. Blagojevich explains plans for narrowing the definition of “violent” and “pornographic.” He specifically plans to have regulated all instances of human-on-human violence and realistic depiction of violence.

Nash, Nora M. “Is There a Connection Between Student Behavior and Violent Video Games?” Momentum (Washington, D.C.) 35 (2004): 39-41. Nash discusses the proposed connection between video games and violence. The portion under the heading “Viewing Violence Increases Aggression,” Nash presents statistics that do not prove a direct connection between the two, but provide interesting statistics on the types of games played and several tidbits about the games in question.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Song of the Manticore

Song of the Manticore


Kal-syrinn had been a nice town.
Children had run down its roads and market-sellers had called out their wares from roadside stands. Now and then the lone mule would plod its way down the road causing the drivers of the horse-drawn carts behind to yell out angrily. Older folks watched from balconies or stoops taking in the sights of the younger ones rushing around. The sun beamed down from impossibly blue skies, the warmth of it all mixing with the muffled sounds of hagglings and excited exclamations. Just downhill a path led to the docks where the occasional ship would cause a buzz of excitement through the small community and smaller fishing boats slid across the blue-green water like gilded water bugs.
Kal-syrinn had been a nice town. The winds blew through cooling the wandering shoppers and shepherding the clouds across the sky. The hilly fields surrounding Kal-syrinn were bordered by the coast and unbroken save for the one road leading away from Kal-syrinn and off over the horizon.
In the town itself a person could become lost among the market stalls, moving from rows upon rows of sweets to a booth selling small glowing charms to small tents concealing half-penny soothsayers who would tell you whatever future you wanted to hear. Wives could be found buying foodstuffs while shrieking for their children to keep out of mischief. Said children could often be found in the company of the urchins, plotting minor mischiefs—the startling of a winged horse in order to upset several market-stalls at once, or even releasing spine-imps into the balloon-vendor’s cart.
Kal-syrinn had been a nice town, once.
That was several months ago.
No children ran down the ashy depressions of roads, and the market-sellers would not ever be heard again. There were no mules to block horses that were not there, no elders to observe the sickly staggers of wind stalking through the town. The docks were in ruins, the barest skeleton of what might have once been a ship reached grimly from the oil-slicked waters. Blackened water merged with fever-gray skies in a too-near horizon. The hilly fields were barren, not even the skeletal remains of the few trees lingering. Market stalls lay in ruins, laying open and raw, the discarded wares lying buried beneath the ash of a thousand fires. Here and there a patch of white could be found—lone bones gasping for breath from a sea of burnt grime—amongst ichor-black stones rising like horrible fish.
Nearby, where the ash and tar seemed to hang in the air in a poisonous cloud, a shadow stirred. Moving faster than anything that large should have been able to move, it unfurled titanic wings. Pumping them twice, it rose into the air, hanging for a moment—a stain on the desolate sky—before flying off like a nightmare given wings.
Had there been anything left alive in Kal-syrinn, it would have stopped to hear a sweet song of a voice, like that of an angel crooning into the cradle of a newborn.
“Greenvale is such a nice town . . .” it sang into the sickly wind before heading off in the direction of the blackened road.

Roundabout editings pt 3

Dawn touched the city hesitantly, frightened of what she might feel. The errant sunbeams of the morning traced lightly over the tops of the buildings, and morbidly curious fingers of light probed the darkness. Slowly, warily, it crept up the sides of buildings, reluctantly illuminating the city.
Upon finding a familiar pane of glass, the morning dove in excitedly, pouring into the small apartment. Flooding across the thick, white carpet, it rose to cover the low couch, the faux-wood shelves, the lamps, and the handful of bookshelves stuffed to the brim. The door creaked open with a peculiar rhythm, and in stepped Roundabout.
Plain, brown eyes made a quick inspection of the room from under messy black hair. The windows were all firmly locked, and the faint glint of light in the glass told that the silvery-dust was still in effect. No footprints crossed the carpet, in fact, the only impressions on it were two, parallel lines running from one end of the room to the other. Everything else was in place, no sign of a struggle, no broken shelves, no pillows strewn across the room. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
Roundabout breathed a sigh of relief and stepped in, firmly closing the door behind him. Latching it, he turned to face the room and took two large steps before falling face-forward on the couch, the satchel at his side thumping to the floor.
Opening his eyes slightly, he could see the field of white fabric that was the couch pressed up against his face. Glowing in the early-morning sun, it made his tired eyes ache, but he didn’t have the energy to close them. Instead, he laid there, the light of a new day slowly bleaching his sight.
“Or, you could get up and shower off whatever gunk is on you from last night before you lie down on my new couch,” came a voice from the apartment’s small kitchen.
“Mmmrphgrl . . .” was the only response from the couch.
“I swear, I’m totally behind all this night-hunting and all, but do you have to leave it all over my furniture?” asked the voice in an exasperated tone. There was a faint whisper of wheels on carpet as the owner of the voice moved in front of Roundabout.
“Lady, I am tired. You try exterminating a vampire and see how you feel in the morning,” came Roundabout’s voice, muffled by the couch. “Exterminating” that was the word he used—in his mind, you couldn’t kill something that wasn’t alive.
“Kid, Vinnie was 17-year-old with barely a month of vampire under his belt. You’d have had a harder time blowing your nose.” From his position on the couch, Roundabout could only see one leg and a wheel.
“Wanna see me try?” He took a deep breath and turned face-down on the couch cushion.
“Enough, kid,” said the woman. There was a heavy thump as a Sunday edition smacked into the back of his head.
“It’s not like you use the couch much anyway,” said Roundabout with a groan, pushing himself up to a sitting position. “You don’t leave that chair that often.”
The woman shot him a withering look. In her mid-thirties, she looked all the older with the severe ponytail that tied back her blonde hair. Crystal-clear blue eyes glared at him from behind thin, wire-framed glasses. “Kid, I went through all the trouble of clearing out that junk-room for you to sleep in—so don’t do it on my couch.” Putting the paper down in her lap, she gripped the wheels of her chair inexpertly and turned, moving back toward the kitchen.
Blinking blearily, Roundabout watched her go. It had taken her a month to get really used to the chair, but she was slowly getting the hang of it. Rubbing his eyes, he was caught unawares as the newspaper caught him in the face.
“You can take a look at it while I finish breakfast.”
“Hard-hitting news,” muttered Roundabout, opening the paper. There, on the front page, was the triumphant picture of the mayor holding aloft the head of Vinnie Conners by the hair. “Mayor Puts the Bite on Vampire Menace,” read Roundabout aloud, “City Safer By The Day.” He stood up and moved to the table, sitting down at the only chair.
“Mayor Songel addressed the press today with evidence that one more vampire was ‘off the streets and back in hell.’ His city-wide imperative, dubbed “Daybreak” began two months ago in response to the outbreak of the vampire menace. So far, they have shown evidence of four vampires obliterated and one contained for study. Project Daybreak plans to double their extermination rate by next month, eliminating twice as many vampires by next month,” read Roundabout.
“And in the meantime, the vampires are multiplying at a rate of about five per week,” said the woman, plunking a plate down in front of Roundabout. Wheeling herself over to the other side of the table, she set her plate down and spread a napkin across her lap.
“Six,” corrected Roundabout, still scanning the paper. “I’m reading the obituaries now, and if I’m right, then there have been eight vampire-related deaths in the past week.”
“Then why six?”
“Two of them are too mangled to rise up again. Looks like there’s a messy-eater active, Abby,” said Roundabout, his eyes still fixed on the paper. Without shifting his gaze, he reached over to grab the bottle of ketchup and slopped it on the plate of eggs in front of him.
The woman called “Abby” winced at the flood of ketchup over Roundabout’s plate. “I honestly don’t understand how you can do what you do all night and then eat your food like that.”
“Like what?” asked Roundabout through a mouthful of ketchup-soaked eggs.
“Nevermind. Just tell me, kid, are you planning to stake out all six of them tonight?” Abby asked, between mouthfuls.
“Why d’you keep calling me that?”
“What?”
“Calling me ‘kid.’ I thought we agreed ‘Roundabout’ was a good name.”
“No, you said ‘Roundabout’ was a good name. I argued that it was a good adjective in general, and sounded more like a comic-book-hero’s name than a real person’s,” said Abby, gesturing pointedly with her fork.
“Nothing wrong with that,” said Roundabout. “Besides, it sounds good.”
She stared curiously at him for a second. “Still nothing?” she asked, her voice shifting in tone.
He met her gaze, sad eyes on an expressionless face. “Nothing.”
Abby wondered, not for the first time, the name of this kid that had come leaping into her life. When the vampires had come to the city two months ago, they’d attracted other things, other beings of the night. It was one of those things, and incubus that had caught Abby in an alley. The man-shape made of out liquid night had beaten her to a pulp and likely would have done worse if this kid hadn’t come whirling out of the darkness like a bat out of hell. He’d smashed a beer-bottle full of holy water in the thing’s face, and as it reeled back the kid had ricocheted off of the alley wall. The kid was small, but at the speeds be was bouncing around at, his weight was enough to shove the demon back into a twisted chunk of metal. Impaled, the incubus would have gotten back up if the kid hadn’t then picked up a rusted bicycle and proceeded to relentlessly, methodically beat the demon over the head with it, until nothing remained but liquid darkness seeping from lifeless shoulders.
With a grimy face and matted hair, he looked up at her, with tears in his eyes. “Do you know me?” he asked before collapsing in her arms, sobbing.
“Well, then stop staring, Abby,” said the kid, snapping her out of her flashback. “Fuck, you’d think you’d never seen me before.”
“Hey, kid—what did I say about that kind of language in this apartment? You live here, you watch your mouth,” she said, waving her fork warningly at him.
“Sorry,” said Roundabout, returning to his breakfast.
Half an hour later, Roundabout cleared away the dishes as Abby threw a plastic sheet over the table top. “You got them, right?” she asked, as he walked back, drying his hands on his pants.
“You bet,” said Roundabout. In one jump, he leapt over the table and landed next the couch. Scooping up his satchel, he slid into his chair. Grinning, he unzipped the bag, and its contents spilled out. In two, small plastic baggies were a pair of vampire fangs and closet-monster horns. Two wads of bills fell out with them along several small bottles and eight bulbs of garlic. Last of all came a fluttering of small papers.
Abby picked up the baggy with the vampire fangs in it, and held it up to the light. “Kid, get me my kit,” she said, her attention focused on the fangs.
“Can do, Abby,” said Roundabout, leaping from his chair, bounding off the couch and into her room.
When he came back, toting the large, metal case, she was already examining the scraps of paper. “Receipts for the rewards on the closet-monster and the vampire, and letters from the families?”
Roundabout nodded. “They like to know personally. It doesn’t bring back their kids, but it helps them get closure.” He yawned expansively and stretched, depositing the case on the table.
“Kid, get some rest—you’ve been out all night, and I’m gonna be at this for a while,” said Abby, flipping open the case. Roundabout nodded and wandered away to his room, stretching.
Reaching into the case, she slipped on a pair of rubber gloves, and used a sterilized pair of tweezers to remove one of the fangs from the baggie. Using a cotton-swab in the other, she swabbed the fang. Putting the fang in and old-fashioned flip-top jar, she swabbed the cotton swab inside a previously-prepared petri-dish. Lifting out a row of multi-colored chemicals in test tubes, she set them down in front of her, and took a deep breath.
“Okay, let’s get started.”

Friday, February 24, 2006

An Open Mind

Alrighty, I've decided to unclip the leash and let my mind wander. Let's see where it goes.
I think I've got a good grip on that which I used to have no concept of . . . it . . . thing. Stupid irregular grammar. Indeed, not to sound immodest, I do believe that it's something that not a lot of people truly have a firm grip. Did that sound immodest? I try really hard to avoid immodesty like that.
I think I've learned that no one knows everything, that everyone can only tell you anything, or give you advice based on what they've experienced. They can imagine, and keep an open mind to explain a different perspective, so long as they are willing. This isn't a bad thing, but I suppose that it identifies that individually, we are truly very limited. This again, is not a bad thing. I think that we are only capable of handling so much, and trying to do more would result in a sort of emotional overload.
Am I complicating? I suppose I am. I do that a lot. Thus, my decisions are influenced by what I have experienced, and by that, I do not mean solely what I have experienced first-hand, but what I have had explained to me, what I have heard from others. The total accumulation of my being, to gamut of all of my life goes into my decisions, my perceptions. And I am limited. We all are. And I think that that's fine, too, because it makes us all unique, and because of it, either because of some miraculous coincidents or clever planning in creation, in order to learn more, to open up new doors in ourselves, new ways of experiencing things, we have to open up to each other. We need others to understand. The semantics of that sentence are amusing, and I'll deal with one now and the other later. To understand things, to truly comprehend them, to the best of our ability, we need as many perspectives as we can get. In order to do that, we need to be open to reciving perspective from other people, what's more, we need to share with other people--so long as they, too, are receptive.
It's very hard, sometimes, to open up like that, though. We are very set in our beliefs, and it's so, so much easier to say "no, that's wrong" than to open up and understand that that is the way the other person thinks. It's a filtration system, part of that defense that keeps us from overloading. When presented with something new, we can go through the lengthy process of analysis, experimentation, and application within our own minds, or we can take the lazy method, which is to compare it, parallel it to what we currently know, and if it doesn't match, we reject it.
Here's the little mental paradox for me. I try very hard to embrace the philosophy that we are all different, and no one person has all the right answers, in fact, it is very likely that your average person will have none of them. I try to keep an open mind, open understanding that my way is not always the right way, and that other people have their own ways, and they have a right to them--customs, beliefs, opinions, any idea or concept in general. Because of this, I want to say that keeping a closed mind, condemning anything as wrong is wrong. However, in doing so, I would fall directly into that category. I would fall prey to the very same closemindedness that I seek to abolish.
The question then becomes, what to do? Nothing much, I suppose, except what I do now. I can try to lead by example, assert change with non-violent resistance, to lift a phrase and tactic from Ghandi. One cannot force open-mindedness, I suppose. All that one can really do is keep an open mind and hope that others will see the wisdom in doing such.
I have already asserted, though, that I do not know the "right" way. I do not know that this is the right way, but it feels right to me. It is entirely possible that the close-minded method is the right way. For me though, it feels that if I want people to understand my words, it is only fair that I make a legitimate effort to understand theirs.
I suppose I've rambled on for quite some time. There is more tucked away in my head, but perhaps that is best saved for another time, or perhaps not. I should really try to keep a more open mind. ;-)

Damn

Wrote this yesterday--didn't remember to put it into my blog until I woke up this morning. Grrr. My first waking thought should not be of blogging.

Karp Reading

A Curse by Any Other Name
Bad luck vs. Witchcraft in comparative cultures

Karp encourages his reader to take a somewhat objective standpoint when analyzing other cultures. He suggests, that instead of viewing the African culture with a sense of condescending detachment, that we instead parallel many of the African beliefs to our own, or at least juxtapose them, for the sake of comparison. My favorite of these would have to be the comparison on page 204 with the amusing comparison of witchcraft to the more “civilized” concepts of “chance” and “bad luck.” I laughed out loud as I read this, because I’ve always loved this sort of comparison. While many people scoff at the concepts of witchcraft and magic, they will still attribute uncontrollable events to “luck” or “chance,” an equally intangible power.
I suppose this reading rang true with me because I have made these arguments before. I’ve always believed that claims of magic and other powers are just as valid as anything invoked in Christianity. These are things I have said over and over to others, trying to argue the case for holistic healing and other things dismissed as “nonsense” by those who pray to and unseeable God and dead savior. Perhaps I am being unfair.
Karp doesn’t exactly argue for the reality of the claims of which doctors, but specifically that the reasoning for such beliefs is not something to be scoffed at. “It would be sheer madness to believe that Africans are unconcerned with controlling their environment” was a phrase that stuck with me in particular, as it describes succinctly a major reason often offered for the existence of any religion or believe in a supernatural power. But given the vivid description offered by Karp of the environs of Africa, it leaves little wonder in the mind of the reader as to why any persons living there would try to devise a way to control their environment, or at least influence it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Roundabout bits and pieces

Doing some significant editing on the roundabout work Chapter 2, effectively

Any observer lucky (or unlucky) enough to be wandering the city streets that night would have seen that same figure casually sauntering down the asphalt swinging a sack over one shoulder. Whistling the same tune, his gait was only broken by the occasional click of his heels. The sound of sneakers on wet asphalt was a muffled hiss combined with the staccato click of wood and metal objects concealed within his vest.
He turned a corner, walked up a flight of stairs, took a handful of lefts and halfhazard rights before walking down a dark alley. Enough rubble had piled up against the walls of an abandoned street to turn it into a crevice barely wide enough for a grown man to walk comfortably through. The figure, with his slim frame, fit easily between the black-molded plywood and rusted metal. For a moment, he disappeared entirely into the shadows. His face was finally brought back from the night by the orange lamplight hanging above a door.
It had once been a pub, back when that sort of thing was fashionable. It still served its original function, but now catered to an entirely different clientele. Housed within the Shadow District’s fetid womb was the Bloated Mug, the pub of choice for the discerning lowlife. The front windows were blacked out, and the entire outside of the pub was a diseased combination of tar and the collected dregs of the nearby docks. Inside was not much better. More of the same orange lights that secretly announced the entrance to the pub also hung above the bar. Hunched over the bar, perpetually cleaning the expected glass with the stereotypically indiscernible rag was Georg. No one knew exactly what it was that Georg was trying to be, but the general consensus was that he approximated humanity enough to be qualified to serve drinks. One good eye watched each customer as he, she, or it entered the pub while the other kept a neverending vigil over the cash register. Behind Georg were several shelves, home to dusty bottles of liquids that were better left unnamed. Further back from Georg’s questionable presence, the bar faded into darkness. Here and there pools of light floated in the darkness, depending on the tastes of the customer. Most of the customers, however, preferred to take their drinks in the dark.
The door to the pub opened, letting in a sliver of starless night. Georg’s eye watched the stranger walk into the bar, swing his sack down, and sit down at the counter. Careful not to let his hands touch the questionable countertop, he motioned Georg. Nodding, the hunched barkeep shambled off to prepare a drink. This customer had particular tastes, and required from Georg something that most of the other regulars would not consider drinking.
Gerog placed a glass of water in front of the youth, and moved away. This customer, like all other frequenters of the pub, enjoyed his privacy.
The young man picked up his glass, inspected it, and, having found nothing too deleterious, took several experimental sips. He settled down after a minute or so, and reached into his vest to pull out a small, metal ball. He began turning it over in his hands, checking numerous small switches and panels that were barely noticeable on its smooth surface. He seemed completely oblivious to the world around him; tinkering with the orange-sized sphere and taking the occasional sip form his glass. When a piece of the shadows rose up behind him, detaching itself from the rest of the darkness to loom over him, the youth did not bat an eye; not even when the shadow began to speak in a low, rasping tone.
“You the one, ain’t you?” the figure drawled from somewhere deep inside its dark frame. “You the one that offs us bogeys, ain’t you?” It moved closer to the light, the dim, orange glow outlining its shaggy frame. Two peg-like horns on its head gleamed in the light. White, flickering pinpoints served as eyes. “You the one that kills us for money.”
The youth’s eyes did not leave the silver sphere. “It’s not the money,” he answered, his tone hinting at nothing else, an expectant pause filling in the blank. There was a hush through the pub, as the dark corners of the room fell silent.
“You the one who’s been killing the fangs, and the paws, and the night-callers,” the monstrosity said, an impossibly wide mouth dribbling a thin, green ichor.
“Twelve fang-faces, six dogs, and one succher who got cocky,” said the youth, taking a sip from his glass.
“What about my kind?” The shaggy beast rose taller, the air around him filling with an awful smell of stale sweat and other things too foul to mention. “You ever kill bed-crawlers?”
“Fifteen closet-cases,” he replied, matter-of-factly.
The boogey-man moved closer, his face, or lack thereof, filled with sharp, irregular teeth. “You the one called ‘Roundabout,’” he snarled, breath like the underside of an outhouse washing over the youth. The young man’s hair blew back in the rancid breath, and on the countertop, the glass of clean water turned yellow and fetid.
“Looks like you got me at a disadvantage, buddy—you know my name, and I don’t know yours,” said Roundabout, pulling out a small cloth and beginning to polish the flecks of monster spittle off the ball.
“The name’s Jurgur—but don’t bother trying to remember it, you’re not gonna be talking to anyone anytime soon,” said the beast called Jurgur, rising to his full seven-feet of height. Long, bear-like claws glinted through matted fur. They gleamed sickly in the pale light, stained with unnamed fluids.
‘Jurgur, the closet monster of the late Nancy Vermeer, formerly of 102 Cranberry Lane?” asked Roundabout, his hands slowly pocketing the polishing cloth. Slowly sliding off the barstool, he turned to face the monster, the top of his head barely reaching the distended lower jaw of Jurgur.
A thick line of spittle slid slowly down Jurger’s chin as he laughed a slow, horrible chuckle. “Late, is she?” said Jurgur. “Last I checked, she was alive.” The bartender, with an extraordinary moment of prescience, quietly took down the many fragile bottles lining the shelf behind him.
Roundabout looked up at Jurgur through his bangs, his dark eyes glinting. “She killed herself. On November 2, 2004, Nancy Vermeer hung herself in her kitchen—the only room in her house without closets.”
Jurgur leaned in low, his entire mouth as large as Roundabout’s head. He hissed, his breath saturated with vomit, meat, and malice, “I made her scream.”
There was no sound, no sign of Roundabout’s first blow. His fist caught the monster just below the jaw. More out of surprise than actual pain, Jurgur lurched back. Without hesitation, Roundabout planted his hands on the countertop behind him and planted a double-kick to the monster’s gut. Jurgur’s breath whooshed out in a horrible wind as he stumbled back into a table, smashing down backwards on it. The table broke into splinters around him as the slim youth back-flipped to land in a crouch on the bartop.
“You’ve been a bad monster, Jurgur. And bad monsters need to be put down.” He grabbed an empty tequila bottle on the counter and sent it flipping through the air at Jurgur’s head.
The bottle shattered in a spray of glass as Jurger swung a chair through the air. Swinging it experimentally, he advanced on Roundabout. “I’ll eat your face, you little bug. Then I’ll throw your body in the dark and watch it rot, and I’ll put in the closet of the next little brat, and scare them to hell.”
Roundabout leapt forward again, aiming both feet at the chest of Jurgur. This time the monster was ready, though, and caught the boy in midair with the chair, sending him flying across the room in a storm of splinters. He landed on a table, and the two dark men sitting at the table leaned back cradling their goblets of blood protectively.
“I’ll sell your bones to the Dark Quarter, and they’ll give me a hundred little girls to keep in the dark . . .” he laughed, reaching forward with his dark claws, glistening with dried blood.
“You’re not gonna touch another little kid, you sick bastard,” coughed Roundabout. His hand flickered inside his vest, and with a quick motion of his wrist, flung the small, sliver sphere at Jurgur. Catching him in mid-laugh, the sphere disappeared down his throat. Swallowing reflexively, Jurgur choked as a blue mist began to pour out of his fanged maw. Soon he was cocooned in smoke, his clawed arms flailing.
“You like that, don’t you?” said Roundabout, one arm cradling his side. “Ammonium Persulfate—it reacts with iron in any form, burns long and hot. Guess what’s in all that blood smearing your fur and your claws." There was a hiss from the dark figures sitting around the pub as the foul smell of burning hair filled the dark room. The boy slid off the table and walked forward menacingly. "Guess what’s filling your insides right now?”
There was a pestilent shriek from the cloud of smoke that was Jurgur and an accompanying gout of blue fire. The burning figure collapsed to the floor, and Roundabout stalked forward, his advance lit in a peculiar stop-motion by the blue flame. As the body stopped moving, the flames died, and Roundabout kicked the smoldering form once.
“I was saving that for a fanger. Damn you for making me waste it.” Raising a foot, he brought his heel down on the charred horns on the dead monster’s head until they broke off. “The police will be happy to see these, but probably not as much as Mr. and Mrs. Vermeer.”
He gasped in surprise as one of Jurgur’s arms, charcoal clinging to blackened bone, grabbed his ankle. Jurgur’s dead eyes burst into flame as a hollow voice issued from his smoking maw, “Your black soul belongs to the Dark Quarter, mortal . . .”
The blue light remained long enough to catch the expression of confusion on Roundabout's face before the darkness of the pub engulfed him.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Chapter Summary for Theory and Methods

Chapters 2, 3, 4

I found Chapter 2 to be a rather difficult read, it seemed that the Theoretical principals underlying the hermeneutic method are very complex, and quite frankly, even after re-reading both Chapters 1 and 2, I’m a bit confused about the nature of such study. As a matter of fact, I found it easy to look up the term in the dictionary, which yielded the result of my understanding of the subject as “a person-to-person method of study.” Granted, I could have induced this from the title of the book, but I think this is accurate. Short answer—I don’t understand Chapter 2 at all. I suppose the theoretical principles eluded me. However, I did find Chapters 3 and 4 much easier to understand, and subsequently, much more informative.
The “Design and Sample” theme of Chapter 3 provided an excellent method of breaking down a community for analysis. I suppose though, given the intent of the chapter, the better term would be that the chapter provided methods for creating a community. That is not to say that it provided me with inspiring speeches, a large plot of land, and new language to work with, but rather that it provided me a way with which to identify a community, and isolate aspects of it that make a group or population a community. The chapter did not necessarily give me a checklist of aspects to look for, but helped provide the means for doing so. A few general suggestions were provided, but general they were, and though such factors as religion and ethnicity often provide unifying aspects of groups, they are often groups themselves, or unrelated to the study at hand.
Chapter 4’s Oral Discourse was thoroughly enjoyable, and gave tips and methods on oral interviews with members of the proposed community. Not only the chapter provide such helpful hints as “formulate open-ended questions” and “preserve the dignity of your informant” but also included tips on ice-breaking, ranging from inquiring about an intriguing dish, to light humor at one’s expense. Overall, I believe that the gist of the Chapter was “when interviewing, make sure the interviewee is comfortable.”

Monday, February 20, 2006

J/ Choose the "controversy" you will be working with all semester. Write a one page, in-depth, detailed description of your controversy AND describe the characteristics of the community that you are examining your controversy as part of. This should be a community to which you belong.

As a member of the gamer community, I would like to do my project on the controversy surrounding the proposed connection between violence in video games and real-life violence. Depictions of violence in video games has been on a steady incline, with such games as Grand Theft Auto, Vice City topping the charts. Reactions to violent outbreaks among young people, such as the Columbine shootings, have lead many to blame constant exposure to violence in video games.

Public figures, such as Jack Thompson, a lawyer famed for his cases against video game manufacturers, beginning in 1999 with a class action suit against virtual every manufacturer responsible for the games of a 14-year-old video gamer in Kentucky, have championed their causes against the video game industry, holding them responsible for the outbreaks of violence among american youth. Overseas, similar cases are being reviewed by respective governments as more and more claim to find links between video game violence and real life violence.

In an effort to establish a sense of self-regulation, much as Comic Book publishers did with the establishment of the Comics Code in 1954, the ESRB was formed, the Entertainment Software Rating Board. This organization, founded in 1994, has established a rating system, and will rate video games submitted for their perusal with a system similar to the Movie rating system. While ESRB ratings are not mandatory by any means, most of the major video game development companies utilize their system, and while retailers are not required to utlize ESRB ratings in selling games, they are encouraged to do so by the manufacturers themselves.

The world of video gamers is split, not equally, mind you, but split nonetheless, with the majority of gamers defending their favorite hobby and (for some of them) way of life. There are those, however, that concede to the fact that violent video games are not for everyone. notable figures in the gamer world, such as Michael Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of the webcomic Penny Arcade, (a site that attracts hundreds of millions of hits per day) have made their cases for an against video game violence, and other internet pundits have taken their respective stands. Many members of the video game community are in agreement that many of the video games on the market are too violent. Some call for stronger enforcement of ESRB ratings, while other go further, calling for bans on violent games.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Beginning revision of the first chapter of another book I'm working on.

Chapter One:

THE WELCOMING COMMITTEE

The music roared, tearing through the room like a creature on fire. It shook the floor and pounded against the walls. Wailing tones tore at the curtains, exposing the plexiglass windows. Furniture was overturned by waves of pure sonic energy, while a lashing beat shattered a cheap vase on the floor.
Ihi Israfil watched the rampaging music nonplussed. From his chair in the center of the maelstrom, he watched . . . and listened.
From his seat in an egg-shaped chair, he could see the music tearing through his room, a glassy, fluid tiger, snarling and mindless. He could see through it, as if it were no more than a ripple of hot air, prowling with enraged spasms through the room, bouncing off the walls. Then the music changed, the beat picked up, sending an odd twist through the colorless tiger. Ihi watched with dead eyes as the tiger became a jumble of twisted limbs, taloned and hooved, that writhed on the floor as the melody became a jumbled mash of tortured shrieks and disjointed notes.
It was a wolf, snarling a stream of guttural bass notes.
It was a stallion, pounding and screaming.
It was a hyena, laughing hysterically to madness.
It was a lion, roaring.
It was a great fish.
It was a centipede.
It was a jackal.
Then, with one final guitar wail, the music faded, the chimerical horror becoming a ball of spikes, a writhing snake, and finally a thin ribbon. The glass-like note circled Ihi’s head once before fading into the air around it.
Ihi stared forward, nothing in his face revealing that he was even aware of the room around him. Ihi was an orpheomancer, gifted with the ability to see and shape sound. But his eyes saw nothing. He stared blankly ahead, his hair covering one blue eye as D-streamer behind him clicked, switching tracks.
There was the next song. So different from its savage predecessor, it was soft, sweet and pure. It was the mournful whisper of a wooden flute, simple, and poignant. Threads of the music rushed past Ihi’s head, coalescing in front of him. They coalesced, colorless and see-through, the shape of a girl. A teenager, the same age as Ihi, she stood there, born of music. The music grew in complexity, her face defining itself—large, almond-shaped eyes, strait, long hair, and a smile . . . a smile that coaxed a reaction from the silent watcher. Slowly, ever so slowly, Ihi rose from his chair, and with a roar, smashed his fist into the D-streamer.
The fragile electronics yielded to even Ihi’s slight frame, and the music died, the plasma-display sputtering once before going dull and dead. An observer might have seen the sardonic twist to Ihi’s lip, or the minute glisten to his eye before he whipped around, marching to the exposed window. Sickly-yellow light was pouring through in the wake of the recent rainstorm. Sulfur levels in the atmosphere tinted the clouds, sky, and rain with a dirty-yellow wash. The desiccated glow poured across Ihi’s face, outlining the sharp features, the orange eyes, and the once-more expressionless face.
“Computer,” he said at last, “entertain me.”
“Invalid command,” replied the computer. “Entertainment databases exhausted by user. You have made it clear which categories are unsuitable and ‘boring.’ Said programs have been purged from the systems. The two prior routines were the only remaining ones within the database.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Make a comprehensive list of the many communities—large/small, formal/informal, serious/silly—that you consider yourself a part of. For each community, reflect on what has led you to participate in these communities. Did you join a particular community because it reflected the values you were raised with (such as a religious youth group or)? The values/interests you are beginning to embrace on your own (such as a “simple living” club or a “literary society”)? The values/interests of your peers (such as a ‘greek’ organization or a “Maroon 5” fan club)? To what degree is your membership in these communities an extension of private and/or social aspects of your personality? Please explain.

Large Groups (as a fundamental part of me, born into and unchangeable)
a member of all things in existence
a member of all things that share the gift of being alive
a member of the human race
A citizen of America
White
Japanese
Mixed-race
Male
Born in Hawaii
These are groups into which I was born. They cannot be really changed (though, I could technically change the American Citizen part). These are large groups through which I define myself as belonging. I feel a deep sense of kinship to other members of these groups, because they, too, are members of these groups fundamentally. The first two, "a member of all things in existence" and "a member of all things that share the gift of being alive" are defined as groups, according to my beliefs, which are pseudo-religious in nature, I suppose. I see everyone and everything in existence as a sharing in a great gift of being created, and I feel privileged to share that in common with everyone and everything. Though I know not everyone shares my perspective, I feel that it binds us all together, and I feel connected to everyone and everything as part of a large web of creation.

Groups of Choice
Geek
Member of an Aikido Dojo
College Student
Artist

There is less pseudo-mysticism inherent in these groups, as they have been chosen, but more of my personality in them. I consider myself a "geek"--an ordinarily derogatory term, but one with which I am comfortable. This is defined primarily by the activities in which I engage. This includes, but is not limited to playing computer games frequently, playing Dungeons and Dragons, playing card games such as Magic: the Gathering. All of these are social activities, however, and the people I play with are fellow geeks, fellow gamers, and they comprise a smaller facet of the group. However, I know that there exist countless others that engage in the same activities, and the common knowledge of the the games and the willingness to play are factors contributing to a larger community.

I am a member of an Aikido dojo. And it is less an extension of my personality, and something that has influenced my personality. A style of martial arts, Aikido focuses on peacful resolution and redirection of force. I consider myself a student under my sensei (teacher/mentor) Who is, in turn, a student under those of higher ranks. In effect, all those who study Aikido are students under the teaching of the founder, the O-sensei, who, though deceased continues to teach through lessons passed on through his students.

A similar sense of being a student reflects my membership as a part of a member of the Randolph-Macon community. And although I would like to think that this helps to bring me closer to my fellow students, I feel that other organizations within that community serve to fracture and form schisms within the larger community of Student of Randolph-Macon.

J2/ Growing up, you belonged to several communities, but the most obvious one was probably the community that you lived in...your neighborhood. As a young adult, you are moving away from that community and entering others. Help your classmates and me visualize the communities that you belong to as the neighborhood where “You” currently reside. In other words, if “You” were neighborhood, comprised of different houses with residents inside of them which represent the different communities that you consider yourself part of, what would it look like? From the list of communities that you wrote down for Journal 1, choose 4-6 communities and describe them as houses on “You” street. In order to help us truly understand the nature of these communities—their members, their shared beliefs, and the tensions/controversies within them—you may want to begin by freewriting about the following questions (adapted from Thomas Deans):
*What factors define the group (geography, age, interests, ethnicity, shared history, values, etc.)?
*How did this community come into being? What is its history? How does that history shape current practices and attitudes?
*How do you gain membership to this community? Can anyone join? Is it by invitation only?
*What are the rewards/costs of membership?
*Describe any characteristic language practices of this community. Do members use special terms/language? Do they assign new meaning to terms?
*What characteristics or “patterns of sameness” characterize community members (dress, rituals, behavior, values, etc.)?
*What tensions/controversies/areas of disagreement exist within the community? How are these areas negotiated or represented to outsiders?
*How might definitions of this community differ if they were told by insiders and outsiders respectively?
*How did you come to be a member of this community?

The street, Jason Street, in an effort to stave off any attempts at poetic pretention, is a street with a random selection of architecture comprising it. Most eye-catching on the street is a two-story building. Painted an off-white, the building has a strange, unfinished feel. Closer inspection usually results in a headache as the dimensions of the building twist in on themselves, in an escher-like style. This house is the residence of the artists on the road. They constantly redesign their home, and what was a two-story yesterday, may become a tool shed tomorrow. Constantly milling in and out of the doors, always on the go, they argue with each other incessantly, about the superiority of one art form over another, and sometimes their caterwauls can be heard up and and down the road.

The next house is so average, it borders on boring. It is a white suburban home inhabited by a "typical" white american family, the Grants. They are a little ill-at-ease next to the artist home, but so long as no paint splashes over to mar their property, they are relatively at ease. If ired, however, their aggression is of the passive variety and calls to the police are their complaints of choice. On their lawn, an American flag flaps in the wind.

Two houses over from that are the Tanakas, a Japanese family. Just as formal, civilized, and concievably boring as the Grants, their home, done in a Western style but with japanese influences, is home to a husband, wife, and young son. Typical they may be, but they constantly deal with neighbors coming over to inquire about their "Japanese" lifestyle.

Between the two houses is an empty lot, and every so often a few people gather to hold up plans and mutter for hours on end about building and construction. The group of people are of no particular ethnicity, but rather each is a conglomerate, and they are deciding how to build a house, and in what style. The neighborhood is, on the whole pleasant towards these folks, as they don't seem to cause much trouble, but each group watches them for any negative behavior they might exhibit from their "other" sides.

One house past the Japanese home is a strange structure. Obviously built with some sort of Gothic tradition in mind, the building looms, or attempts to do so at a rather puny single story. Every night, and most afternoons it is abuzz with people coming in and out of its doors, and shouts of "Two Damage!" and "Critical Fail!" can be heard from its walls. The Gamers live here, and though they've yet to cause serious damage to the neighborhood, the noise of their all-night games are often the cause for complaints from the Grants or Tanakas. Everyone's welcome to come in, though unless the newcomer comes bearing his own Player's Handbook, laptop, or deck of cards, they are greeted with suspicion--the people that live here are people that are used to being the subject of mockery.

In the other direction, the Artist house is flanked by an unusual property. It is an open lawn, well-kept, though no one has ever seen the owner use a lawnmower on it. It is a wide space, in the center of which is a gazebo of sorts, surrounded by a small moat of clear, running water. The lawn stretches back farther than it would seem, and tucked away, close to the horizon is a tree, with a treehouse high in its branches. In the center of that gazebo, however, sits an old man, mostly in meditation. He does not actively welcome others to his property, but the serenity of the place often attracts the curious visitor. Indeed, as one sests foot upon the green grass, it is as if the outside world is muffled, and all that can be heard is the wind rustling the leaves of a single tree there, cherry-blossom, of course. People come and go there, sometimes to speak with the unnamed master of the place, sometimes just to enjoy the solitude. Though none are welcomed there, all are welcome.

Two houses remain on the block. On the left of the artist house is an raised platform, constructed of wood, its top covered in thick mats of woven straw. Above it is raised a wooden roof, and this roof shakes from the impact of bodies upon the straw. The martial artists practice here, and the impact of their bodies thrown to the mat can be felt through the air by the casual passerby. There are no walls, only support beams. Anyone interested to try to practice with them are welcome, but a sign on the wall details specific rules of the dojo (school). Visitors must remove both shoes and jewelry before stepping onto the mat. Visitors must leave behind anger and a reliance on physical strength. Also, anyone who wishes to join them must be willing to give it an honest try. Every so often, the martial artists will walk over the fenceless line between the dojo and the nameless master's field. One there, they will practice in the open, or meditate.

The Grants tend to avoid both of these places, often unable to understand the martial artists or their reasons for practicing day in, day out, and unwilling to fathom the strange purposes of the nameless old man one property over.

The last house is a creaking structure, more stable than it looks. It would really have to be--if it were as stable as it looked, it would have fallen down years ago. the college students rent this house, and their piles of books and paper litter the porch. Through the large windows it can be seen that similar stacks adorn the insides. They often work late into the night, lights blazing into the wee hours of the morning. When not scribbling away at papers on every available flat surface, they are rushing in and out of their home, constantly late for class. Every so often, probably more than is good for them, they leave their creaky house to go out, sometimes to the gamer home, but often just for a walk, or out to the main road for other entertainments. Often, the unnamed old man will often leave his property (the only time he does so) and warn the students that too much hustle and bustle will be the deaths of them. They rarely ever listen. It's said that there is a chance that the college students will buy the home even after their time at their school is over.

Of all the groups, perhaps the most out of place are the Grants. There are strange people to the left and right, and though they get along well with the Tanakas and are not bothered by the comings and goings of the college students, the other members of the cul-de-sac unnerve them. They are there permanently, though--they've just bought the lease on their home, and Mrs. Grant is pregnant. Similarly, the Tanankas are often uncomfortable on the road. While they are not unnerved by the Martial Artists and old man as the Grants are, they are often exasperated by them, as constant reminders of tradition that can often trip up progress. The do, however, often have the old man over for tea. The Gamers, college, students, and artists are fairly self-contained, sometimes visiting one another, sharing strange bits of congruent wisdom--methods on how to paint a miniature model, the wonders of caffeine, or the most effective words for charming an adversary--be it a dragon, a professor, or landlord. The old man often watches with a smile on his face, but just as often will watch the sky, or greet a bird or squirrel living in his lawn. Whatever the outcome of the other's lives--if the Tanakas or Grants plan to move, if the Artists are evicted, or if the gamers blow the power grid for the block--the old man is content.

Make a comprehensive list of the many communities—large/small, formal/informal, serious/silly—that you consider yourself a part of. For each community, reflect on what has led you to participate in these communities. Did you join a particular community because it reflected the values you were raised with (such as a religious youth group or)? The values/interests you are beginning to embrace on your own (such as a “simple living” club or a “literary society”)? The values/interests of your peers (such as a ‘greek’ organization or a “Maroon 5” fan club)? To what degree is your membership in these communities an extension of private and/or social aspects of your personality? Please explain.

Large Groups (as a fundamental part of me, born into and unchangeable)
a member of all things in existence
a member of all things that share the gift of being alive
a member of the human race
A citizen of America
White
Japanese
Mixed-race
Male
Born in Hawaii
These are groups into which I was born. They cannot be really changed (though, I could technically change the American Citizen part). These are large groups through which I define myself as belonging. I feel a deep sense of kinship to other members of these groups, because they, too, are members of these groups fundamentally. The first two, "a member of all things in existence" and "a member of all things that share the gift of being alive" are defined as groups, according to my beliefs, which are pseudo-religious in nature, I suppose. I see everyone and everything in existence as a sharing in a great gift of being created, and I feel privileged to share that in common with everyone and everything. Though I know not everyone shares my perspective, I feel that it binds us all together, and I feel connected to everyone and everything as part of a large web of creation.

Groups of Choice
Geek
Member of an Aikido Dojo
College Student
Artist

There is less pseudo-mysticism inherent in these groups, as they have been chosen, but more of my personality in them. I consider myself a "geek"--an ordinarily derogatory term, but one with which I am comfortable. This is defined primarily by the activities in which I engage. This includes, but is not limited to playing computer games frequently, playing Dungeons and Dragons, playing card games such as Magic: the Gathering. All of these are social activities, however, and the people I play with are fellow geeks, fellow gamers, and they comprise a smaller facet of the group. However, I know that there exist countless others that engage in the same activities, and the common knowledge of the the games and the willingness to play are factors contributing to a larger community.

I am a member of an Aikido dojo. And it is less an extension of my personality, and something that has influenced my personality. A style of martial arts, Aikido focuses on peacful resolution and redirection of force. I consider myself a student under my sensei (teacher/mentor) Who is, in turn, a student under those of higher ranks. In effect, all those who study Aikido are students under the teaching of the founder, the O-sensei, who, though deceased continues to teach through lessons passed on through his students.

A similar sense of being a student reflects my membership as a part of a member of the Randolph-Macon community. And although I would like to think that this helps to bring me closer to my fellow students, I feel that other organizations within that community serve to fracture and form schisms within the larger community of Student of Randolph-Macon.

J2/ Growing up, you belonged to several communities, but the most obvious one was probably the community that you lived in...your neighborhood. As a young adult, you are moving away from that community and entering others. Help your classmates and me visualize the communities that you belong to as the neighborhood where “You” currently reside. In other words, if “You” were neighborhood, comprised of different houses with residents inside of them which represent the different communities that you consider yourself part of, what would it look like? From the list of communities that you wrote down for Journal 1, choose 4-6 communities and describe them as houses on “You” street. In order to help us truly understand the nature of these communities—their members, their shared beliefs, and the tensions/controversies within them—you may want to begin by freewriting about the following questions (adapted from Thomas Deans):
*What factors define the group (geography, age, interests, ethnicity, shared history, values, etc.)?
*How did this community come into being? What is its history? How does that history shape current practices and attitudes?
*How do you gain membership to this community? Can anyone join? Is it by invitation only?
*What are the rewards/costs of membership?
*Describe any characteristic language practices of this community. Do members use special terms/language? Do they assign new meaning to terms?
*What characteristics or “patterns of sameness” characterize community members (dress, rituals, behavior, values, etc.)?
*What tensions/controversies/areas of disagreement exist within the community? How are these areas negotiated or represented to outsiders?
*How might definitions of this community differ if they were told by insiders and outsiders respectively?
*How did you come to be a member of this community?

The street, Jason Street, in an effort to stave off any attempts at poetic pretention, is a street with a random selection of architecture comprising it. Most eye-catching on the street is a two-story building. Painted an off-white, the building has a strange, unfinished feel. Closer inspection usually results in a headache as the dimensions of the building twist in on themselves, in an escher-like style. This house is the residence of the artists on the road. They constantly redesign their home, and what was a two-story yesterday, may become a tool shed tomorrow. Constantly milling in and out of the doors, always on the go, they argue with each other incessantly, about the superiority of one art form over another, and sometimes their caterwauls can be heard up and and down the road.

The next house is so average, it borders on boring. It is a white suburban home inhabited by a "typical" white american family, the Grants. They are a little ill-at-ease next to the artist home, but so long as no paint splashes over to mar their property, they are relatively at ease. If ired, however, their aggression is of the passive variety and calls to the police are their complaints of choice. On their lawn, an American flag flaps in the wind.

Two houses over from that are the Tanakas, a Japanese family. Just as formal, civilized, and concievably boring as the Grants, their home, done in a Western style but with japanese influences, is home to a husband, wife, and young son. Typical they may be, but they constantly deal with neighbors coming over to inquire about their "Japanese" lifestyle.

Between the two houses is an empty lot, and every so often a few people gather to hold up plans and mutter for hours on end about building and construction. The group of people are of no particular ethnicity, but rather each is a conglomerate, and they are deciding how to build a house, and in what style. The neighborhood is, on the whole pleasant towards these folks, as they don't seem to cause much trouble, but each group watches them for any negative behavior they might exhibit from their "other" sides.

One house past the Japanese home is a strange structure. Obviously built with some sort of Gothic tradition in mind, the building looms, or attempts to do so at a rather puny single story. Every night, and most afternoons it is abuzz with people coming in and out of its doors, and shouts of "Two Damage!" and "Critical Fail!" can be heard from its walls. The Gamers live here, and though they've yet to cause serious damage to the neighborhood, the noise of their all-night games are often the cause for complaints from the Grants or Tanakas. Everyone's welcome to come in, though unless the newcomer comes bearing his own Player's Handbook, laptop, or deck of cards, they are greeted with suspicion--the people that live here are people that are used to being the subject of mockery.

In the other direction, the Artist house is flanked by an unusual property. It is an open lawn, well-kept, though no one has ever seen the owner use a lawnmower on it. It is a wide space, in the center of which is a gazebo of sorts, surrounded by a small moat of clear, running water. The lawn stretches back farther than it would seem, and tucked away, close to the horizon is a tree, with a treehouse high in its branches. In the center of that gazebo, however, sits an old man, mostly in meditation. He does not actively welcome others to his property, but the serenity of the place often attracts the curious visitor. Indeed, as one sests foot upon the green grass, it is as if the outside world is muffled, and all that can be heard is the wind rustling the leaves of a single tree there, cherry-blossom, of course. People come and go there, sometimes to speak with the unnamed master of the place, sometimes just to enjoy the solitude. Though none are welcomed there, all are welcome.

Two houses remain on the block. On the left of the artist house is an raised platform, constructed of wood, its top covered in thick mats of woven straw. Above it is raised a wooden roof, and this roof shakes from the impact of bodies upon the straw. The martial artists practice here, and the impact of their bodies thrown to the mat can be felt through the air by the casual passerby. There are no walls, only support beams. Anyone interested to try to practice with them are welcome, but a sign on the wall details specific rules of the dojo (school). Visitors must remove both shoes and jewelry before stepping onto the mat. Visitors must leave behind anger and a reliance on physical strength. Also, anyone who wishes to join them must be willing to give it an honest try. Every so often, the martial artists will walk over the fenceless line between the dojo and the nameless master's field. One there, they will practice in the open, or meditate.

The Grants tend to avoid both of these places, often unable to understand the martial artists or their reasons for practicing day in, day out, and unwilling to fathom the strange purposes of the nameless old man one property over.

The last house is a creaking structure, more stable than it looks. It would really have to be--if it were as stable as it looked, it would have fallen down years ago. the college students rent this house, and their piles of books and paper litter the porch. Through the large windows it can be seen that similar stacks adorn the insides. They often work late into the night, lights blazing into the wee hours of the morning. When not scribbling away at papers on every available flat surface, they are rushing in and out of their home, constantly late for class. Every so often, probably more than is good for them, they leave their creaky house to go out, sometimes to the gamer home, but often just for a walk, or out to the main road for other entertainments. Often, the unnamed old man will often leave his property (the only time he does so) and warn the students that too much hustle and bustle will be the deaths of them. They rarely ever listen. It's said that there is a chance that the college students will buy the home even after their time at their school is over.

Of all the groups, perhaps the most out of place are the Grants. There are strange people to the left and right, and though they get along well with the Tanakas and are not bothered by the comings and goings of the college students, the other members of the cul-de-sac unnerve them. They are there permanently, though--they've just bought the lease on their home, and Mrs. Grant is pregnant. Similarly, the Tanankas are often uncomfortable on the road. While they are not unnerved by the Martial Artists and old man as the Grants are, they are often exasperated by them, as constant reminders of tradition that can often trip up progress. The do, however, often have the old man over for tea. The Gamers, college, students, and artists are fairly self-contained, sometimes visiting one another, sharing strange bits of congruent wisdom--methods on how to paint a miniature model, the wonders of caffeine, or the most effective words for charming an adversary--be it a dragon, a professor, or landlord. The old man often watches with a smile on his face, but just as often will watch the sky, or greet a bird or squirrel living in his lawn. Whatever the outcome of the other's lives--if the Tanakas or Grants plan to move, if the Artists are evicted, or if the gamers blow the power grid for the block--the old man is content.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Random Blog. Chapter Summary for Theory and Methods.

Chapter 2 Summary.

Keim seems to often take a “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” standpoint. In this chapter, Chapter 2, Keim addresses how we learn about Africa. Keim covers television culture, the print media, national geographic, and amusement parks among other sources. Television culture covers both television programs and movies. The television programs covered are limited to cartoons, George of the Jungle, Johnny Quest, Mickey Mouse, and Popeye. Between these and movies such as The Lion King and Congo, Keim makes the claim that all of these various forms of information contribute to a negative stereotype of Africa. It is National Geographic that seems to recieve unfounded criticisms. Or at least, Keim names it as a contributor to the mass of stereotypes. However, the magazine has made massive advancements, according to Keim
I particularly enjoyed the analysis of amusements parks. It seems that they, too have made massive advancements in the elimination of stereotypes. Busch Gardens, specifically, has come a long way from its “Dark Continent” attraction, updating the attraction to a milder version of Africa.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Homework due 2/13

2) Write two shorter essays (3-4 paragraphs each) using only one type of appeal (argument from any one of the following: heart, values, character, reason) for each essay. So, if you write one essay that is "all heart", your second essay might be all reason. Again, you may use logical fallacies if you think that they will help you convince your reader. Identify which appeal you are using in each essay ahead of time (i.e. Essay 1: Argument from the heart) Be sure to identify your audience before you write your essay. (i.e. Audience: Dr. Malesh OR Audience: The Chronicle of Higher Education OR Audience: My Mother to whom I am explaining why I got a "C" in my writing class).

Logic--addressed to a crowd as a speech presenting a new idea
Everyone always worries about heaven and hell, after they die. I pose, instead, the argument that perhaps this life is heaven.It is so full of everything! Love, pain, life, death, all this and more! Is not joy made sweeter knowing that there is pain? Is it not cherished more, savored more, knowing that there are alternatives far worse? Are not the times of love and joy and hope and happiness made more precious, more valuable, more potent knowing that they do not last forever? It is the temporalness and the bad that is present in this world that makes every good thing sweeter than before.

And maybe this life is Paradise. This world full of so many things for of grace and light and happiness would not be complete without horror and doom and pain. The bad gives the good definition, gives it light, and the light sharpens the shadow.

Truly, we know no greater pain than that which we have experienced, though we fear deeper pain. We know no greater joy than that which we have encountered, and we hope for even more as our lives progress. Thus, the greatest joy we have experienced is in this world, on this plane of existance, and though I make no claim to know what lies beyond the grave, perhaps since the best things are those that we know in this life, then it follows that this life is the world full of grace and wonder, that this life is heaven.

Heart--A rant on gay marriage, designed to inflame and anger more than actually persuade, presented to the public in general.

To oppose Gay marriage, you've either got to be totally ignorant of what's important and what's not, or you just descriminate against gay people.

So which is it? Dumbass or Bigot?

There's always option three, though--to not be a total shithead and deal with the fact that some guys like to kiss.

I mean, honestly--there's no good reason to oppose gay marriage. There are several bad ones, though. One is that you're not comfortable around gay people. If that's the case, avoid gay people, go hide back in your buttter-churn and don't you dare oppose it just because you can't deal with it. Perhaps you have had bad experiences with gay people in the past. Perhaps relationships have been lost because one person finally decided to stop living a lie. If that's the case, don't take it out on the gay community that you couldn't live in a pretty, little illusion.

Another bad reason is for religion. I'm sorry, but if your religion says that it's wrong for two people in love to get married, then fuck you and fuck your god. Yes, I said it. I don't believe that any true God that truly loves His or Her children would be opposed to them sharing in holy matrimony. So any of you who are using that as an excuse can go back to humping your golden calfs, because you're god isn't who you think He is. No true God would wish unhappiness on His children, and I'm willing to accept that maybe there are more Gods out there than one--in which case, you guys using him to support the assinine are just following some phoney.

Lastly, if you just don't like gay people, period, and don't think they should be married, then, sorry friend, but you're a bigot. That's the definition of a bigot right there. In which case, go fuck yourself, because you're a giant open wound on society's unwashed ass, and your infection (read: stupidity) is making it painful for the rest of us.

If you support gay marriage, none of this is directed at you. You'll notice that the comments were all directed at those who don't, and the statements opposing their religion do so with the belief that their god is not truly your God. If you are neutral about all of this and are listening to both sides of the argument with a bemused, slightly constipated look on your face, I urge you to chose a side and at least fight for a cause. For those of you that oppose it, and oppose it with all your hearts, this is one more slap in the face, to see if you can be coaxed from your gilded-cow-polishing, white-hood-wearing, Bush-kissing homes and give any kind of defense for your shitty opinions. Because guess what--there bad opinions, just as much as there are good ones. And bitches, I'm here yelling at you from the side of good. Guess which side that puts you on.

Seriously, Dumbass or Bigot. It's your choice.

Or you could take option three, not be an asshole/dumbass/shithead/bigot (pick any that apply) and just deal with the fact that marriage is about two people loving each other.

Bah, out of order--trying to catch up.

J/Discuss your experience with writing. How do you understand yourself as a writer? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your writing techniques/process (i.e. Do you do any prewriting? Are you are compulsive drafter? Do you wait until the last minute? Do you use paper or a computer to compose? Do you follow any formulas for writing?)

I love to write. To be more specific, I love to write creatively. Playing with my words is my specialty. I love the subtle turns and twists of phrase that can take place in a sentence, from bold oxymoron and outrageous hyperbole to puns and other subtle plays on words. I am a huge fan of linguistic gymnastics, the sounds of fun sentences, when you get a nice beat going, a rhythm to the words, alliterative, assonant, consonant, and the look of a well formed sentence, when the shapes of the words worm their way into the reader’s head. Poetry is a love of mine, and though I don’t write it well, I love rhyme.
My biggest love is writing fiction. I’ve spent so much time reading fantasy and science fiction, that I love trying my hand at it. Most of what I’ve done consists of several openings, initial attempts at long works, paused mid-genesis, a chapter or so of new and fantastic ideas. The largest work I’ve finished thus far is a 300 page fantasy novel. However, in keeping with my current block about finishing things through, it is the first part of a larger work, a self-contained “part one” to something that would be a trilogy at the very least.
My creative works are spontaneous—which is, perhaps, their downfall. My downfall, really. I write as far as my creativity/spontaneity carries me, and then reach a block. I imagine that advanced planning, plotting the flow of a story, beginning, middle, and end would help to keep it moving, but doing so kills my initiative to write it, and I can feel my creativity and desire to write draining away as I plan.
A similar effect occurs when I write a paper. Should I plan in advance, I can formulate an immense battle plan, a thorough description of what goes where and the sequential facts that follow one another, like troops onto a field. However, once that it done, once the plans are in place, the battle falls through. My words are uninspired, flacid, bland. The paper becomes less of a thing to read, and more a dull sheet of paper with words. I gain no enjoyment from writing it and talks with professors has shown that there is no pleasure in reading it. However, a spontaneous paper is usually far more fun to write, as I dive in, head first, plunging forward with no more than a vague idea in my head, a barely lucid impression of purpose. These are more enjoyable to write, and comments from professors reveal that they are at least marginally pleasant to read. The problem with this approach, however, is that to take the plunge, inspiration is required. I need the desire to begin writing, to care about it. And, unfortunately, if that does not come soon enough, Last Minute Panic serves as a rather desperate substitute.

J/ Describe your expectations for this class. What do you expect this class to be? What is influencing your perceptions of this class? What do you want to leave this class knowing? What are your goals for the class? What are you looking forward to in the class? What are you nervous about? What is the most important change you want to see in yourself of your writing that you think this course could foster?

I would enjoy learning about new writing techniques from this class. Specifically, I’d enjoy learning a few new ways to write, to get inspired, to get up an go. I want to learn how to WANT to write a paper without the threat of a low or no grade as my only driving force.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Roundabout -- [A little story I've been working on. I'm sick and tired of the "Ooh, vampire-mystery/exoticism/eroticism" crap on the market right now. I decided to start something that treats vampires like the bloodsucking monsters they are.]

Storms had no fury to match that of Varis Constantin smashing his way through the room that night. That is not to say, however, that no storm raged around the condemned apartment. Varis’ violence was punctuated by the flashes of lightning through the broken windowpanes. Rain poured in through the shattered window, each drop sliced in half by the jagged glass.
A pair of eerie glows remained constant in the strobe of the storm. They alternated between yellow and red as their owner fumed. His black cloak flared as his arms shattered the backs of chairs. Despite the dark of the night anyone watching could easily see the two inexpertly-stitched-up holes where the sleeves had once been.
Varis bared his fangs at the raging storm, meeting atmosphere with amateur anger. This was not been at all what he’d expected. The powers were his, to be sure, flight, transformation, and the strength that he had so desperately sought.
Lightning flashed again, allowing Varis full view of his deathly pale face in the mirror on the wall. A mask of make-up was the only thing reflected in the dark glass. A theatrical parody of a face with empty eyes regarded Varis. Even under the makeup, there were tell-tale signs of clusters of pimples eternally camped under his skin. His flailing fist caught the mirror, breaking it into a thousand pieces, each reflecting, for an instant, the makeup amateurishly coating the indignant face of Varis. The damned transformation had frozen him in a state of perpetual teenagery. Four weeks had been all it had taken for him to exact his revenge on his tormentors at school, another two weeks were enough to realize that he really hadn’t planned on anything afterwards. Varis had begun to run out of enemies. He’d already drained the life out of Jared Thomas and his crew of sycophants, the cheerleaders who’d laughed at him when he was pantsed at the pep rally. He had killed the coffee-shop clerk that had laughed at him while spilling his latte on his shirt, then moved on to a list of smaller affronteries committed against him by the various other cashiers at the food court.
Now, it seemed, fate was determined to add insult to injury. Two nights had gone by without feeding. The pizza-cashier who had turned him down for a date and dropped his pizza on the floor two months ago and still served it to him hadn’t been in her home. Checking the local clubs for her whereabouts had been an exercise in futility. Wearing the cape and the black accoutrements had not been enough to get him into a place that required ID. Apparently being a focus for unholy energy was not the equivalent of being age 21 to the bouncers of the town.
Well, he would show them. He would show them all!
“I’ll tear them all limb from limb and feast upon their lifeblood!” shouted Varis into the night.
“Oh, not ‘feast’—you can do better than that,” drawled a voice from the darkness.
“What!” yelped Varis. “Who dares?” he caught himself, drawing his cape around himself.
“It’s not ‘feast,’ y’know. You don’t technically ‘feast’ on blood, what with it being a liquid and all,” said the voice again, mild and jocular.
“Where are you?” yelled Varis, his nasal whine made all the more pronounced in the presence of the stranger’s warm tenor. His eyes flashed, scanning the dark of the room. His slightly-runny nostrils flared, sniffing in the gloom. “Human?”
“You won’t be able to ‘feast on her lifeblood,’ anyway,” said the voice. “Once I figured out your ‘pattern’ of attacks, so to speak, I had her rushed off to her aunt’s house.”
“Well then you just made two fatal errors, my friend,” said Varis, throwing his cloak over his shoulders, “you’ve told me where she is, and I’ll be upon her within an hour, and secondly, speaking again has let me pinpoint exactly where you are.” There he was, crouched in the far corner of the room, up near the ceiling, with one foot on the top of either doorframe, propping himself up. The intruder was curled up, his arms crossed, and his face down to his chest.
“I wish you’d make up your mind about whether it’s a cloak or a cape,” he said.
“Excuse me?” said Varis, startled out of the menacing pose he was assuming.
“I mean, the stitching is bad enough, but honestly, when you can’t even tell whether it’s a cloak or a cape, well . . . I guess being dead isn’t everything,” called the voice. He lifted his head, revealing plain brown eyes that glinted in a brief flash of lightning. His short black hair hung loosely over his face as a smile formed on his lips. “Game’s over, Vinnie,” he said, smiling a perfectly flat-toothed grin.
“Don’t call me that!” he yelled through a fang-toothed grimace. “I am Varis Constantin, Nosferatu, Child of the Darkness, Son of the Night!”
“You’re Vinnie Conners, child of Meg and Ryan Conners—who’s making a full recovery after your beating, by the way. You became a vampire after searching fifty four chatrooms and finally finding Amanda ‘Altrissa Malvane Tressanor’ Tracy—goes by the handle, ‘malvane_vampire666’ by the way—who agreed to meet you next to the dumpster behind Denny’s. You were bitten twice before she was able to find the right artery on your neck.”
“Who are . . .” started Vinnie, his patchwork cape falling to the damp floor.
“You were then interred at Pinestreet Cemetery,” he continued. “Three days later, you crawled out of your grave, promptly tripped over your own tombstone, then took off into the night sky, clipping a cedar tree and damaging the cemetery gate on your way out,” said the stranger, never moving from his perch in the corner, his brown, piercing eyes focused on Vinnie.
“How do you . . .” began Vinnie.
“I’ve done my homework,” said the intruder. “You killed several bullies at your school for minor offences against your ego, then two cheerleaders, and two mall cashiers. You beat your father within an inch of his life for, quote: ‘Repressing your individualist rights as a free-thinking young adult.’ The total body-count from your perverted kill-spree is eight people dead, three people maimed, and one handicapped for life—that’s your daddy, Vinnie.”
“They all deserved it,” said Vinnie sullenly.
“It stops here, Vinnie,” he said, uncrossing his arms. He was wearing a thin vest over a black shirt. Two white lines crossed on his shirt, making Vinnie’s eyes water when then rested on them. “Time for Vinnie the Vampire to go back to bed,”
“I said not to call me that!” shrieked Vinnie, leaping through the air at the stranger. The stranger’s hand twitched and Vinnie saw the thinnest line of silver illuminated in lightning before he stopped seeing.
“Eeeeyaaaaaaawhatdidyoudotome??” hissed Vinnie, clutching at the red line burned across his face as he reeled backward.
“Silver twine,” said the intruder. There was a thump, as if he’d jumped down. “If you could still see, you could tell that there are tiny, tiny crosses in similarly tiny relief on the twine.”
“You sonuva—!!!” yelled Vinnie, ducking down and lurching forward.
“Incidentally, go with the hiss—it’s less annoying than you regular voice. Sinus problems, I assume?” called the young man’s voice retreating back into the doorway.
“I’ll kill you!!”

This is what Vinnie “Varis Constantin” Conners saw:
His eyes had healed quickly enough to see by the time he followed the intruder into the dark room, though not enough to repair his night vision.
He could see, by a well-timed flash of lightning, that there was more twine criss-crossing the room. Now that he knew was to look for, he was able to easily dodge the silver lines. Standing in the center of the room, he crouched low, baring his fangs at the intruder on the other side of the room. The vampire was now between the intruder and the door—there was no escape. Vinnie flexed his fingers like claws and lowered himself, about to spring forward.
The dark-haired figure shook his head, raising a gloved hand. Around the thick leather Vinnie could see more twine. The hand closed and the arm jerked down, yanking at silver thread connected to the complex web around Vinnie.
Pwing! Pwing! Pwingpwingpwingpwingpwing!
Loosed of its moorings, the twine contracted around Vinnie. He could feel the metal cut into his skin, could feel the burn of the crosses through his leather cape. Tighter and tighter the wire pulled—Vinnie could feel his night-born strength failing him—he couldn’t move his arms, his legs, his head—God, his head! He could feel the thin strands of wire, razor-sharp and burning, slicing their way into his skull! The intruder hauled on his handful of twine and Vinnie lifted into the air, suspended in a web of warded thread.
The stranger stepped forward, a streetlight’s errant beam illuminating the broad grin plastered across his face. One hand raised an old-fashioned wooden mallet, the other raised a wooden rod, ending in a wicked point.
“Say goodnight, Vinnie.”
With silver lines pinning Vinnie’s mouth open, all he could do was scream as the stake plunged toward his heart.


There was a peculiar hush as the rain stopped. All that could be heard was the irregular staccato of the gutters playing their impromptu tune. The clouds slowly left the sky with the sullen march of the final guests at a party, reluctant to leave. The moon shone over the night, illuminating the puddles and painting a damp sheen over everything.
Whistling, the intruder knelt down next to the impaled corpse of Vinnie, held out a silver cross in front of the dead vampire’s face and waved it back and forth several times before nodding to himself. Then, business-like, he removed several tools from his vest. The moonlight gleamed on the serrated edge of the hacksaw.

Crawler, installment 2

Page 5:
Take a breath.
[Panel 1: Crawler’s back as he scales a brick wall.]

Take a moment.
[Panel 2: Crawler climbing up over the lip of a building, back still to the reader.]

Take it in.
[Panel 3: Crawler’s back to the reader in silhouette on a rooftop, the brightly-lit city below him.]

[Panel 4: Close-up shot of eyepiece reflecting the city lights.]

Page 6:
Then dive
[Panel 1: Crawler going into a swan-dive off the rooftop.]

Back
[Panel 2: Freefall shot, falling, falling toward the asphalt.]

[Panel 3: Right hand in web-shot pose, more claw-like than Spidey’s, but still essentially the same as a jet of thick, viscous goo fires out from his wrist. SFX: “Thwip!”]

[Panel 4: Webline spatters across a gargoyle’s face and chin, trailing off-panel (bottom)]

In.
[Panel 5: Crawler webslinging on a single line above the heads of frightened New Yorkers. Pose should be less open and freewheeling than Spidey, more clustered, ball-like.]

Page 7:
Because you know the monsters will be back
[Panel 1: Mugger is encased in a gooey cocoon, only head exposed, stuck to the wall above Police Headquarters.]

The sickness will return
[Panel 2: Woman from Page 2, Panel 4, curled into a ball in a corner, a shadow looming over her.]

The nightmares will never go away.
[Panel 3: Alley from Page 2, Panel 5, now empty, shadows play across the wall, a larger shadow struggling over a smaller, female shadow.]

You know deep in your heart that they only get worse.
[Panel 4: Close up of a woman’s eyes, frightened, with tears running from them, a rough hand clapped over her mouth.]

And all you can do is scream. Scream and try to wake up.
[Panel 5: Same alley, the large shadow is now hunched over, and a trickle of blood runs out of the alley on the pavement.]

Because otherwise, the boogeyman gets you.
[Panel 6: Close-up shot of Vulture, only bridge of nose to forehead, eyes are covered with dark sunglasses, eyebrows are furrowed with intensity.]

Page 8:

J. Jonah Jameson’s voice: “What the @^&* is THIS?”
[Panel 1: Front page of the Globe Newspaper, Headline: “Vulture Strikes Again!” Second line: “Fifth Manhattan Victim Found Violated and Mutilated” Picture of alley with blood-trail.”

Daily Bugle Staff Member: “What’s wrong, sir? We covered the story, too—ten times better.”
Staff Member 2: “That’s right—they even got their info wrong—that killer’s offed SIX victims in Mahattan so far.”
[Panel 2: Office shot of JJJ behind his desk, a few staff members of the Daily Bugle observing his rant.]

JJJ: “That’s not the point!”
[Panel 3: JJJ slams the paper down on his desk, grinding his cigar between his teeth.]

JJJ: “I want to know where these Globe &*#^$ers get off stealing a copyrighted name!”
[Panel 4: JJJ grabs his phone, yelling into it]
JJJ: “Brant! Get me that ^&$# Harris at the Globe!”

Harris: “I really don’t see what the problem is, J. J. No, it’s not copyright infringement, just the same name for two different people. OUR Vulture is a serial killer that’s been preying on the weak and sick women of New York. YOUR Vulture is a deluded old man in a green jumpsuit. At least OURS makes sense . . .”
[Panel 5: Harris is leaning back in a chair behind a desk in a dark room, the shades drawn, phone cradled to one ear, fingers steepled.]

JJJ: “What am I supposed to do? Some nutjob puts on a green costume and flies around New York on strap-on wings; what am I supposed to call him? ‘The Hummingbird?’”
[Panel 6: JJJ is shouting into the phone]

[Panel 7: JJJ slams down the phone.]

[Panel 8: We see a thoughtful look cross JJJ’s face, his hand still resting on the receiver.]

JJJ: “Ms. Brant, see if we have a copyright on anyone with the name ‘The Hummingbird.’”
[Panel 9: Newspaper flaps open, corner article on page 5 in full view. Title: “Sightings of a New Wall-Crawling Monster?” picture: Shadowy crouched form of Crawler on a rooftop, looking less human than like some monstrous spider.]

Friday, February 10, 2006

Comic Books

Aha! Finally! I can log on!

Blank space bugs me, so I'll pop in a quick blog until I get everything up and running. It's the first couple of pages from the comic book I've been writing and will send in to Marvel once I can get it done. I know I've got a pic somewhere, and I'll link it later when I can find it. I'm not sure if there are any comic book fans in the class, so I'll leave out the description for now.

Crawler
Genesis: Part 1

Page 1
I can feel it moving through me.
[Panel 1: Spider crawling over an eyepiece]

The city is crawling in my veins.
[Panel 2: pull back, showing that the spider is crawling over his masked face]

It’s fine, though. After all,
[Panel 3: further zoom back to see a crouched figure perched on the lip of a building. Other, taller buildings tower up behind and around, closing in.]

I’m crawling through it.
[Panel 4: shot of a black silhouette crawling down the side of a building.]

It’s in me, as much as I’m in it. Every handhold I find, every footstep I take across the rooftops is New York reaching deep inside me.
[Panel 5: Silhouette of NY with full moon behind it.]

Page 2
I can feel the grime in my fingers,
[Panel 1: Closeup of fingertips splayed across graffiti on brick.]

the filth under my soles.
[Panel 2: A black-clad foot crushes a pile of soot, cigarette butts poking out the sides.]

Decades of soot, of cigarette ash, of tears and blood,
[Panel 3: We see his silhouette over a broken window.]
[Panel 4: As he crosses over the window, it lights up, and we see a man landing a blow upon a woman’s cheek..]

of broken hearts and ruined dreams
[Panel 5: He’s crawling from left to right at the top of the panel, below, a young woman sleeps, propped up against the wall in an alley, surrounded by crumpled papers and empty bottles.]

all layered so thick you can slip on it if you’re not careful.
[Panel 6: From half-way up an alley wall, he jumps up to the top of the next building.]

Page 3
And the lights . . .
[Panel 1: We see a fashionable, wealthy couple walk down a street, chatting gaily.]

The lights will blind you if you’re not careful.
[Panel 2: A mugger steps out, holding the two at gunpoint.]

You can see them even when you close your eyes, pounding in the darkness.
[Panel 3: Over the mugger’s shoulder, we see Crawler’s eyes gleaming from the shadowy depths of the alley.]

Because the city has a heartbeat . . .
[Panel 4: Mugger looks over his shoulder, surprise plastering his face.]

An unstoppable ebb and flow . . .
[Panel 5: We see crawler tackling the mugger in the midsection and sending them both into a pile of trash. The mugger’s gun goes flying.]

And if you’re not careful, it can pull your feet out from under you.
[Panel 6: Closeup to Crawler’s face as the Mugger’s fist smashes into the side of it.]

Page 4
But if you’re good, I mean really good
[Panel 1: Crawler crouches across the alley, low to the ground. In the foreground, we see the mugger’s hand, clenched around a pipe.]

You can ride it.
[Panel 2: Large multiple-figure action shot of crawler springing up and dashing forward straight at the mugger.]

Use it.
[Panel 3-5: Several small panels of fist blows and kicks landing on the mugger. A kick to his gut, a slamming of the mugger’s pipe-wilding hand to the wall, stomp to his foot, etc.]

Make it part of you.
[Panel 6: Crawler’s fist slams below the mugger’s face in a vicious uppercut.]

Make it all of you.
[Panel 7: Crawler stands above the crumpled form of the mugger.]

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