Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Short Story: Memories of a Stargazer

My new short story, "Memories of a Stargazer", is available at Event Horizon magazine. You can access it via PDF download for issue 3. The print version will be available soon.

Please go to the link and check it out.

https://eventhorizonmagazine.com/


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Earthbound

I've been a runner since I was 15.

I started in anticipation of joining the track team. Ever since that year, 1980, which was a few years into a running boom in this country, I've rarely taken breaks from it. The only time I can truly recall is back in '96, when I had mono. I was out of work for a month, and obviously didn't do any running either. All I wanted to do was sleep.

When, in my mid-30s, I no longer wanted to run outside all winter, I joined a gym and hit the treadmill, A couple years after that, I bought my own so I wouldn't have to travel anywhere after work. I bought a new one a few years ago, after running hundreds, maybe thousands of miles on the old one.

I've been fortunate to be mostly injury-free, with one exception--my right calf. I strained it twice. The first time was in 2001, and I think I only missed a couple workouts before I was back on the road. There was a more serious tear in 2009, in which I actually heard the infamous pop, the moment at which part or all of the muscle separates from the achilles tendon. In my case it was just part of the muscle, but I didn't run for close to six weeks. For a compulsive runner such as myself, it was torture. I counted the days. I missed most of a summer due to that injury, but I was back up and running after that lengthy hiatus.

Now, eight years after that last injury, I had pain in the same muscle again, and it forced me back off the road. I took a 2 week break, then tried again. Took another 2 week break, then tried again. Then took 4 weeks. After that, I tried to ease my way back into a routine, as if the muscle wouldn't notice. After a couple months of running once or twice a week, I realized it wasn't improving. So six months ago, I stopped completely. I've only run short, slow workouts about once every month or so, to see how it feels. After my latest attempt last weekend, the muscle still doesn't feel like it's ready.

I'm mystified this time. I've been to the doctor about it. He sent me for an ultrasound, to check for a blood clot. The found none. Yet here I sit, still unhealed completely. I do feel better than six months ago, but whenever I take to the road or treadmill, it seems like the injury is just there, below the surface, ready to rise again and put my comeback on hold. I've rarely known such frustration. We have such advanced medical technology, but it is apparently powerless to tell me how much longer I need to wait before I can safely run again.

I know this is an injury that can't be rushed. If it's not ready, the only thing that will help is more rest. In the meantime, I'm not getting my cardio, and have been exploring ways to get it without running. I've looked at other machines, such as ellipticals and rowing machines. After trying one out recently, the rowing machine feels like a good alternative. You do use your legs on it, but I can get by without using my calves too much. It's the option I'm leaning toward right now.

In the meantime, I remember the charger I used to be. Suiting up and heading out even if temperatures were close to freezing. I ran outside one December evening about 5 years back and wondered why my hands were steadily going numb, despite the thin gloves I wore. I shook them throughout the route and gradually they warmed. When I got home, I checked the temperature. It was only 15 degrees. I was so focused on the workout that I didn't check conditions first.

I've gained some weight, and have to watch my calorie intake even more closely. Perhaps the rowing machine is the answer, and will give me a good outlet. My next medical appointment is in May. If I'm not running by then, I will discuss options with my doctor. Perhaps a referral to an orthopedist, and some physical therapy. If nothing else, this injury has taught me some patience. But I do miss it. Running has been many things to me. Stress release, treatment for my heart murmur, a mood raiser and a decent hedge against anxiety. A constant companion and refuge since my early teens. I'm not ready to bid it farewell just yet.

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Short Story: Florid

My new short story, "Florid", is out now in the autumn issue of Escapism Literary Magazine.

You'll be prompted to sign up, but it's free.

The link is below. Please click through and check it out.

Thanks!

https://issuu.com/escapismliterarymag/docs/escapism-03

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Silver Age

There was a time when I could climb walls
Hurl flame
Leap between mountain peaks
Lift trucks over my head and run
                                                           Acrossthecountryinamatterofseconds

I was drunk on such power
In my prime I used it to help them
Saving lives
Gratitude and wonder poured from their faces
My name in the headlines
Fame opened all the doors
To world leaders, celebrity, women
Excess, disillusionment, regret

Almost i m p e r c e p t i b l y ...

I began to ignore their cries
Nearby, and those across the seas
Yet I could hear them all
They were rebuke, condemnation
In desperation I used an ice pick to stab at my ears
The relief last only moments as my body swiftly healed

My favorite dreams are filled with scenes
Of mundane existence
A normal life never lived

Many years later, I am not so impressive
My hair grays like theirs
Islands of pain bloom in my sinews
I drown out the cries with television and music
A white noise machine while I sleep
I tell the press to stay away
There are no more pronouncements
Lofty rhetoric rings falsely these days
I live a hermit's life
Far away--but never far enough

Last month I hiked Everest
Alone, without oxygen
I reached the summit in three hours
Before, it would've taken mere minutes
The view was amazing
But it was cold, and I was tired

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Morningstar

I'd noticed earlier this year a new trade paperback for the Lucifer series from DC's Vertigo imprint. I gave it a try, and while it turned out to be not my thing, my fond memories for the previous run were reawakened.

Cover of
Lucifer Book 3: A Dalliance with the Damned
I decided to dig out my old TPBs--Mike Carey's run from 2000-2007, 11 books in all. I'm already into book 4 and enjoying the story even more than I did back then. Carey's writing is literate and layered, alluding to the power that these mythic beings possess, but parcels out the grand displays in a measured way, making them that much more shocking. The art tag team of Peter Gross and Dean Ormston each bring their own strengths, showcasing mostly Gross's graceful lines, with episodes of Ormston's gothic, heat-mirage images, cast in ominous slanted shadows, highlighting the supernatural aspect. It's a world out of your wildest, most salacious dreams, or nightmares, depending on your mood of the moment. The story will beguile you, and in its own devilish fashion, rapidly turn on its heel and show its fangs. Lucifer is a complex character, born an angel but seduced by his own power and a fierce independent streak. He runs the table, but there are times when he gets more than he bargained for. His resilience is tested by an antagonistic heaven and a jealous host of other demons, all looking to dethrone him, or at least make a favorable alliance.

Can't recommend this series enough. If the new run doesn't work for you, give this one a try.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Old You

Do you remember the day it all went south?
You woke up unhealed
The pain had moved in
Your new soul mate
Nothing else seemed to stick anymore
Jobs, women
The sharp edge you counted on
To slice through the leaden effort
Of living
You styled yourself
One of those hollow-eyed ronin
An exiled Viking
An Ottoman watching the margins
Of Empire recede
The blows landed
With wearying frequency

Some days you found him
The old you
The pleasant shock of his resurfacing
Wore off too soon
You couldn't entertain him for long
He was so impatient

Remember?

Now
He is just another teacher
His illusions
Are your crumbling castles
Retirement homes for your innumerable futures

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 At The Movies

A little late, but none the worse for wear, here are a selection of the films that made an impression on me in 2016.


Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

For a film that was considered a flop, it was one of the most lucrative flops ever made. 330 million stateside, 873 million worldwide. It was tough to love for some, but I ate up every Wagnerian second with a large spoon. I worried when it was announced that Ben Affleck would step into Batman’s cowl, but his performance was very good. It is obvious that Wonder Woman was the real star of this film though. Her introduction was electrifying. A mostly female cheer went up in the theater audience I was in. Some iconic moments from past comic stories were included in the film, and it was the fulfillment of a fond wish to see them visualized on the screen. Not a perfect film, but much better than I expected. Save your hate for something that really deserves it.

Where To Invade Next

America’s true populist, Michael Moore, travels to Europe in this film to attempt to take some ideas back from there to make the US a better country. Workers’ rights in Italy, school meals in France, prison conditions in Norway. It’s eye-opening, and it emphasizes just how much better we could have it if we really wanted it. Instead, we elect a fake populist, a 1 percenter actually, who bows to Russian interference and hands the government over to the real enemy, corporate interests. Ironically, Moore predicted Trump’s win. Moore, however, is not one to give up the fight.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me

A Native film that takes place on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, amid abject poverty and historical oppression. A brother and sister struggle to deal with the death of their father. The brother wants to leave for LA, but the film shows us what is there to keep him in such a place, rather than the supposed empty promise he’d be leaving behind. Quiet performances full of grace, and the resilience of a proud people who keep fighting for a better existence.

Paths of the Soul

The best film I saw this year. It’s the story of a group of Tibetan villagers who decide to undertake a pilgrimage to Lhasa, the capital. They do this in a traditional Buddhist way, by prostrating the entire distance as they go, over a few hundred miles. It’s an incredible feat of endurance and cooperation as they face hardships along the route. Men, women, and even children are included in this journey. If you didn’t question the value of a consumerist way of life before this film, you will afterwards. A story full of simple rewards and profound sorrows.

The Infiltrator

The great Bryan Cranston portrays an FBI agent who plays a part in a number of successful undercover operations.
He mulls retirement after a successful sting against a mob group, but is pulled into one last effort by a fellow agent. This one involves the Escobar drug operation as it was getting into high gear. It’s a long, challenging sting, and there are many close calls. His journey is a trip into hell and back, and Cranston plays it with his usual depth and focus.


De Palma

A look at the great director’s career featuring the man himself, who talks at length about his films, from his first success, Carrie, to this most recent effort. His style has always owed a big debt to Hitchcock, which is plainly evident in many of his most famous scenes. Besides the retrospective, there are the additional treats of interesting stories about working in Hollywood during its creative golden age.

Arrival

Another story of alien visitation, but this time minus the cheap histrionics and gore. The only threat of war comes from humanity, and it’s up to the scientists played by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner to find out what the aliens are telling us. They may look like sea creatures, but their technology makes ours look like child’s play. Man’s urge to blow things up it doesn’t understand threatens to rear its ugly head again, but an ingenious and painstaking translation of the alien language gradually shines light on their intentions. This time, the fireworks are mainly intellectual, which is refreshing.

Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck gives a restrained, smoldering performance as a young man who’s lost so
much that is important to him, and struggles to make sense of it all. After losing his older brother, he is named to be his nephew’s guardian, but feels incapable taking on the responsibility. The film is a rough passage, and contains many scenes that will be uncomfortably familiar to anyone who’s lived at least a decent chunk of their life. By the end, he is forced to confront his limitations, and acknowledge that not all things can turn out as we would wish. For some, the effort required is too much.

The Birth of a Nation

Director Nate Parker’s film about the slavery revolt led by Nat Turner in 1831. Parker’s performance as Turner is powerful, and you can feel the hope rise in the slaves of the plantations where he is enlisted to preach. The depredations and outright torture of the slave population will make you squirm in your seat, and once again wonder how a nation founded on such high-minded ideals could’ve let such a barbaric institution exist for so long. The hatred of the white mob at the end is the very picture of willful ignorance. It’s good to be proud of your country, but Parker’s film reminds us it’s also necessary to acknowledge and atone for its often ugly, oppressive past.

New Short Story: Memories of a Stargazer

My new short story, "Memories of a Stargazer", is available at Event Horizon magazine. You can access it via PDF download for issu...