Saturday, February 4, 2012


I try to categorize my thoughts - partly so that other people can have some idea of what I'm thinking but mostly so that *I* can have some idea of what the heck I'm thinking. When I label one of these posts with "Sandbox," I do so to show that it is a creative endeavor - something little Alex made while playing in a sandbox (except the box contains words, not sand).

So when I got it in my head to spout pseudo-philosophical drivel, I came up with a tag so that people would know that I was about to do just that. Soapbox-ception: for topics into which we need to go deeper.

I do not like to be misunderstood. This is why my manner of speech is disclamatory (with almost audible parentheses). I will begin a statement (I will attempt to clarify exactly what I mean if I think I might be misunderstood) and then I will finish the thought. The problem with nesting ideas like that is that sometimes the tangents get daisy chained to such an extent that I never make it back to finish the original idea. Also, in the instances when I do remember the original thought, the transition from whatever tangent I last explored back to my point can be rather abrupt.

    "Let me ramble about the tag"
  } // close Intro
    "I will be ranting"
      "I make lots of disclaimers"
        "Here's an illustrative example"
          "Here's where it all starts to fall apart"
            "Here's some pseudo-java! Because ponies!"
          } // close What?
        } // close SubTangent
      } // close Tangent
    } // close Sidenote
  } // close Thought
  "Which brings us back to fallibility. Hopefully."
  // Even though it's fake java, I feel the need to state
  // that the rest of the post would go here before I
} // close (the) Topic

So, yeah...
All that to say "If someone is going to be offended at a position I hold, I want to make sure that I actually hold that position."
Which brings me to the first and most important topic I need to address before giving my opinion:

The only thing that I find to be infallible is my own fallibility. No, it's not paradoxically self-contradicting like "No generalism is true 100% of the time" (Russell's paradox). I am not perfect. I can be certain that I might make mistakes in the future because I have done so in the past. This is part of why I play a very good devil's advocate. I try to obtain as much information as I can from as many perspectives as I can before rendering judgment.

I am currently reading Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert. "Doubt is necessary to a philosopher," one character says. It reminded me of Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. "The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder." Earlier today, I told a friend that all it takes to be a philosopher is to have the will to ask "why?"

There are times that I fancy myself a philosopher. In ramblings that I tag with soapbox-ception, I might raise questions that I can't answer. Like why don't I always know what to say? Why do I frequently find myself unable to give a strong conclusion? And why do I insist on tangent after tang-


Up next, thoughts on abortion!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


When stripped of all its gloss, glamor
Does it still shine as bright?
Does it gleam? Does it glitter?
Without need to conform,
With rhyme and rhythm stripped away,
Can it still evoke music,
Melodies to carry the thoughts, the mind
To places where imagination prances about, dancing to a pretty tune?
I like to think so
And I'd like for you to think so, too

Meter matters, but not in its regularity
Rhyme is sublime when not obstructive to flow
An ever-important facet, that
A current to carry the weight of your words
That they might not grow heavy and drag your poem with their bulk

Liquid language
Emphasis from repetition
How much is too much?


You like words. You like flow. We get it!
Would it pain the pretentious poet to perhaps place a period at some point?

Recursive self-reference is recursive

A link to my new tumblr.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sandbox: Biblical Knowledge

An idea for a comic popped into my head yesterday.  I pictured it in the same sort of style as some of hiimdaisy's stuff - more attention given to expressions than backgrounds or details.

Panel 1
A man beside a woman.  The man's expression is inviting, his appearance rather suave.  The woman has not been won over yet, but she is interested.  Her expression says "I like what I see - show me more!"
Speech bubble:
(Man) "I'd like to get to know you..."

Panel 2
A closeup of the man.  His expression is intense.  The effect is somewhat creepy.
Speech bubble:

Panel 3
The woman is sitting on the edge of a bed, her expression one of annoyance and displeasure.  This is clearly not what she was expecting.  The man is sitting behind her, his expression intently focused.  He is counting the hairs on her head.
Small text:
(Man) "1193"
(Man) "Hold still"
(Man) "1194"
(Man) "You're going to make me lose count"
(Man) "1195, 1196, 1197..."
(Man) "Is that two or is that a split end?"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Island

"You won't get away so easily!"
He pulled himself back to his feet and gave chase.
Thirty years I have pursued you; I am not about to let you escape!
Through the door, down the hallway, he saw his nemesis turn the corner.  He rounded the corner and came to a halt.
Around the corner, his nemesis' base simply stopped.  What had once been a passage to the launching bay was now a vast expanse of white.  His nemesis stood there, eyes fixed on a man in a suit before him.  A reassuring gaze, a hand on the shoulder - with a flutter of papers, his nemesis ceased to be.
"It is time."
He felt as though he was standing at the edge of a yawning abyss.  An electric pressure in the air drove him to his knees.  Every fiber of his being told him to flee, run, escape, evade, retreat, disengage; he remained rooted in place.  He fumbled for his revolver, the bullet he had been saving for this day, his nemesis gone, its purpose now wasted, taking aim
run, get out, danger, fear, horror, nightmare
A gunshot.  A rustle of paper.  A line of red across the cheek.  A curious expression.  A finger touching the line.
"So I can be harmed?  One hell of a papercut you gave me."
He struggled for words, stammering, muttering, repeated clicks from an empty revolver.
"Who are you?!"
A sigh.
"A garden requires tending.  Sometimes a plant withers and dies.  Sometimes a seed never grows.  A garden is marred by empty pots and rotting flowers.  The dying and dead are uprooted, thrown to the compost to be recycled, brought back to their origin to fertilize others."
Desperate, he threw the empty gun.  It scattered like a stack of cards, fluttering to the ground and melting into it.
"You are an undeveloped character from an unfinished story.  I am here to unravel this story, to revert your world to its raw potential so that a new story may be written in its place."
Tears flowed down his cheeks.
"But I've been chasing him for thirty years.  I..."
"But that's all you have: a nemesis and a desire for justice.  It really makes it hard to speak with you.  Look at yourself: you have no defining characteristics!  What is your name?  What do you look like?  Where are you from?  I'm getting a bit of a Bond/Blofeld or Holmes/Moriarty feel from you and your nemesis.  Are you from England?"
The man stared at the uncreator, eyes full of fear.
"The man?  Well, that's one problem solved," the uncreator said.  "You have no idea how difficult it was to word things so I was never the subject; you were so undefined that I had no idea how to switch the subject back to you."
The man stared at the uncreator, eyes full of fear.
"You have my pity.  I'm sure you would have made an interesting protagonist."
The man stared at the uncreator, eyes full of tears.
"So that's it?  My story will never be told, then?"
A reassuring gaze, a hand on the shoulder - with a flutter of papers, the man ceased to be.
"It has been told.  And now it is over."
All that remained was a broad concept of the location: a secret base on a tropical island.  The man in the suit inhaled, savoring the potential of the idea.
So many different things could happen in a place like this.  I wonder what the author will do with it next.
The island melted into the ground, turning back to its raw potential and sinking into the realm of paper.
The uncreator left.  There were more stories that needed tending.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Clip Seven - Cole in the Room of Paper

Cole wasn’t sure where he was.  He had awakened to find himself sprawled across a white floor that had the texture of paper.  He was surrounded by a vast expanse of white.  The quiet hum of fluorescent tubes led Cole to believe he was indoors, but he couldn’t see any lights – or the ceiling, or any walls for that matter.  It seemed a long time.  There was a rush of light and he was standing in a crowded street, then in a desert oasis, then on a snow-capped peak.  The snow melted away and the mountain was felled, the color draining until Cole was standing in the void once more.
Cole didn’t know what to think.
He saw the bicycle he had owned as a kid rise up out of the floor.  It rolled past him lazily, and he saw the seat was still secured with duct tape where it had broken.  The floor turned to water, and Cole found himself in the middle of a lake.  As he treaded water, he heard a speedboat vrooming closer.  He turned to look in time to see the boat turn nearby, its towline swinging toward a ramp in close proximity.  As that which held the end of the rope vaulted over him he couldn’t help but wonder whether the boat was using extreme fishing techniques or if the shark was going water-skiing.
A rustle, a shuffling noise and the lake dried, leaving a bed of papers, which rose to the plane of the floor.  Once more, Cole was in the room of paper.
Out of the ground rose three men in ornate robes.  The sky turned to night and the men began walking around the hill.  Cole followed, and he noticed the entrance of a wide cave and a distinct odor of animals.  He followed the three men through a group of men holding crooks and was stunned by what greeted him.  A lily white woman robed in blue sat serenely beside a box filled with hay, in which a child lay wrapped in a white cloth.
“No, no, no!  This is all wrong,” Cole cried.  “There are so many things that…”
He released an exasperated growl.  Everyone was looking at him.
Cole first directed his ire at the finely dressed men.  Each wore a crown of gold and each held an intricately decorated box.
“First off, you’re not kings.  You’re scholars: sages from the east who were familiar enough with Jewish prophecy to recognize the star as a portent of the promised messiah.  You may have wielded some influence as learned men, but you weren’t kings.”
The men looked at each other, and the crowns fell apart, scraps of paper hitting the ground and melting into it.
“Secondly, there were not necessarily three wise men.  There are three gifts.  The bible never says how many wise men came.  If you think about the distance they would need to travel it would be readily apparent that there would at the very least be an entourage, a caravan of students or servants to bring the supplies you would need for the journey.”
There was a rustling noise, and everyone turned to see several carts waiting outside the cave.  Cole shook his head.
“Thirdly, the wise men don’t show up on the night of the birth.  They show up a couple of years later, give the gifts, and warn the family to head to Egypt.  Herod had all children two years and younger in the area killed.  You weren’t here on the night of the birth.”
A sound, a breath of air.  The wise men and the caravan fell into the landscape.  Cole’s gaze fell on the shepherds, who became slightly worried at the attention.  He stared.  He mused.
“I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with you guys.  You smell strongly of sheep, which is slightly off-putting, but entirely appropriate.”
He turned to the woman and the child.
“Take those golden dinner plates off of your head.  You didn’t actually have a halo.  That was artistic license so people seeing the art would know it was you.  Also, you’re wearing blue.  Blue was not a common color.  It was expensive.  You got blue dye by crushing these specific seashells.  Blue was the color of royalty.  A carpenter’s wife would not be wearing blue.  And the ‘swaddling clothes’ on little baby Jesus are pure white.  You can’t just make cloth like that.  The cloth has to be bleached.  You would not likely have a cloth of pure white with you, and even if you did, it would not still be pure white.  Birth is not clean.  It’s dirty and gross and fleshy and real.  There’s no mess here.  If there was an actual birth and he didn’t simply pop into existence, there would be evidence of it.  Also, you look Anglo-Saxon.  You were a Jew.”
“But what does accuracy give you?”
Cole turned.  Walking towards the entrance of the cave was a tall man in a suit.  His feet treaded on paper, the ground beneath his foot melting with each step before his footfall fell.  He strode toward Cole, separated from his surroundings by the aura of uncreation.
“Accuracy ruins a lot of stories.  The myth, the legend, the mystery is taken away when you ask too many questions.  And, just so it’s said, you were describing purple dye, not blue.”
“Who are you?”
“I am a personification of writers block.”
[An expression of "Hunh?!" An abrupt end.]

Clip Six - A Metatextual Transition

Roleplaying is interactive storytelling. It inspires creativity and imagination. You can explore identities not your own, and by so doing learn more about yourself. Each character you play has a shard of your soul within them, inextricably tied to you, connected by a strand of fate, of fiction, of fun.
I encourage you to create, to imagine, to explore, to play, to find a world within yourself, to catalog the chronicles, to tell a tale, to live lives not limited by reality just to see how far you can go.
[The tune of reading rainbow]
You will find
It’s in your mind:
Everyone has a story to tell.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Find yours.
Tell yours.

So am I the gaming geek?
Steeped in story
Enraptured in experience
Am I character?

Alex Tracy sat down and began writing.  His work looked like it was going to be very meta-textual.  He had been playing Alan Wake on the Xbox 360, a game something about a writer who wrote himself into a ghost story he had authored to attempt to change the ending.  It had perhaps influenced Alex as he tried to conjure another creative outburst and channel it into something productive.  This meta-textual “lampshade hanging” bothered the author somewhat.  To at least some extent, theatre is intended to entertain, and if the author continued to produce only self-referencing and vaguely philosophical drivel, his senior show would not consist of much more than a series of glances into the mind of Alex Tracy.  As interesting or dull as such peeks might be, the audience would be expecting something more broadly definable as “Theatre” and might not take well to a constant barrage of theme and variation on “Look at the actor on stage telling the audience that he is on a stage.”
His concerns aside, Alex felt he must write.  A two-year long campaign of Dungeons and Dragons had just come to a close and he had been reflecting on how a character could continue without a storyteller.  He needed to tell the story himself, but he didn’t quite know how.  Alex was not a writer – he was an actor.  He viewed characters as people separate from the works in which they were contained.  Before he could act a role, Alex needed to understand the way the character thinks.  He would gain this understanding by extrapolating motivations and then ensuring that those motivations made sense within the boundaries established by the character’s actions in the script.  The character, independent of and yet constrained by the script, would reveal itself to him.
Alex viewed himself as a conduit, allowing the characters to become visible to the audience through his motions and recitations.  But this understanding falls apart without a script, without a structure to support it.  Such an acting method was similar to echolocation – if there was nothing for the sound to bounce off of, the sound would not return to the ear, leaving him with an absence of perception.  He could not know how far he could reach without a wall to touch.  Daunted by the empty blackness, Alex would frequently write himself as the protagonist of his stories, using his experiences in life as a sounding board to provide definition to the character.
Maybe he just needed to sit down and give it a try.