Monday, April 27, 2009

Return of the Horror

Well, I've decided that in October, I will post more stories, but I won't be limiting them to the Ozarks, and get. Maybe in time, I should collect them and put them in a book...

The first is going to be my own retelling of the Mexican legend of La Llorona. Of course, since there'll be months between now and then, you could look it up and read it for yourself, but it wouldn't be my version...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Genevieve

Today, my younger sister Genevieve (or, as we commonly call her, Gen), is sixteen. We had originally planned to go to Lambert's Cafe in Ozark (though I've no idea how some of us would have afforded it), but we had a change of plans...

Y'see, my Mom's been living away from my Dad recently, not because they're divorced or separated or anything, but because he could only find work in Springfield, while she stayed at her late parents' home to take care of their estate, which, from what we heard, is almost done with. With Mom is Gen, my little brother Arthur, and my baby brother Daniel, who is a Type 1 diabetic, meaning insulin shots and all.

From what I gather, Daniel's doctor has been concerned about his frequent high blood sugar levels (Mom accounts this to Daniel sneaking things he shouldn't, and well-meaning but ill-advised friends giving him things), and called the Department of Family Services on Mom, and last Friday, they took him away.

The court hearing is tomorrow. Mom wants to persuade the court to let Daniel stay with some friends of theirs, or my oldest brother Aaron and his wife Jessica. (However, Aaron and Jessica have their own concerns with court, as their hearings for custody of Aaron's daughter Amber are still ongoing, though she does currently stay with them.) She oddly snubbed Audrey and Shaun, who would have no problem with taking care of him. (No, wait, for her, that's not odd.)

We had a somber celebration at Audrey and Shaun's, the first time the entire family (save Daniel) has gathered there, on Saturday night.

Gen's presents weren't too much to speak of. Drew gave her a portable DVD player, which had a bit of an odd history behind it. (Long story short, Gen should have had it almost a year ago.) Mom gave her an exercise set with a tape (yes, tape, shows how old the set was). Gen commented, "Are you saying I'm fat? I'm insulted!" Another gift from mom was a hair removal kit. She really liked the present that Shaun, Audrey and I went in on together: an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with music. (Aaron and Jessica were a little late on their gifts, but promised to give her some accessories, like a power adapter.)

*Sigh.* Why can't we have a normal family?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Chambre de l'acide

I finished reading another Irvine Welsh book today, The Acid House.

This book is different from the other books I've read by him. Instead of a novel, it's a collection of short stories and a novella called A Smart Cunt. (This is not talking about female genitalia. This term shows up often in Welsh, look it up!)

Welsh gets to explore many types of storytelling here. From fantasies that involve God turning an angry, down-on-his-luck young man into a bluebottle housefly, science fiction about a woman keeping her husband's head alive in cryogenic fluid while she has an affair, twisted tales like a man having an affair to spite someone, only to discover the woman was a man who'd had a sex change, to more ordinary tales.

The stories range from two pages to quite a few. (One four-page story is actually four one-page stories about sexual frustration.)

One I found myself particularly enjoyable was called Disnae Matter. It was only two pages and was written in Welsh's standard spelling of the Edinburgh dialect. I read it aloud after getting off of work (with no audience). It told the story of a man and his wife and child going to Disney World in Florida, and how he almost made an employee (possibly dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh) lose his job.

Welsh tends to use many recurring themes. You can sympathize with and sometimes relate to his characters, but they always have something about them you wouldn't agree with. Many lead characters are drug addicts (usually heroin or cocaine). And his stories take place in the same fictional version of Edinburgh. Characters from one book appear in another. Spud from Trainspotting is in A Smart Cunt. This happens in his other books, too.

Ah, well. This was another fun one, and I got some nice reactions from co-workers. A manager asked to see what I was reading, and I let her look at it. She opened it to a sexual-ish scene, and exclaimed, "Jared! You're reading PORN!"

Well, that's that, then. Currently, I've no other Irvine Welsh books on my reading list... Open to suggestions here, folks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


My life feels a little boring right now.

I'm working on a list of twenty movies that I find to be awesome. So far, I've only seven movies. Want to suggest anything? Go ahead. Surprisingly, there are no Oz movies, no superhero movies, and no Narnia or Lord of the Rings on it. (Not yet.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reddin' and Viddin'

So, my dad came over today because he needed help setting up an eBay account, and as I'd started one for him sometime back (YEARS ago... back when I'd only get online at the old Main Library, when it was that, which tells you how long ago it was, if you know anything of the libraries in Springfield*), he thought I could be of help.

*Seeing as most of you wouldn't, I'll explain. The Main Library was the closest library from the Square for a good long time. Then, the Library Center opened on the outskirts of the south side of town, and they moved their "main" items there. This was about 2001. The old Main Library became the Midtown Carnegie Library. To add to the run-around, they opened a new library last year right on the square itself. Never been to it. That's what you'll find in Springfield, Missouri, folks, libraries, colleges, churches, factories, and a horrible job market.

So, apparently, when I'd tried to register an account, I made the account name the exact same as dad's e-mail, and all. I guess this messed up somehow, thus making the account useless and Dad's e-mail unable to be used on eBay.

He spent a good hour trying to work something out, even calling them up and talking to them. Then, he remembers he wanted to get the music off a DVD, and I had to do that. I get it off the DVD and onto an mp3 file on his flash drive, and then he missed the bus. As he had to wait around about another half-hour, he got a bit of a shock, seeing A Clockwork Orange on my coffee table, which needs to be cleaned off very badly.

"What's with this?" he asked. "I didn't think this would be your type of book."

"I'm not reading it," I replied. "It's on my list, though."

It's amusing to me how little my family knows me anymore. Guess my deciding last year to try new things is a turn they didn't expect. Well, I couldn't just read L. Frank Baum books and watch Oz movies all my life. Not that I don't love those, but staying in one spot is not good.

Meanwhile, on my non-Oz YouTube channel, I've tried to make sure I post one video a week. Here's the two latest:

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Ah, yes, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and some bunny who wants our souls...

But... I was almost tempted not to venture out to church today. It was RAINING out. RAINING on Easter Sunday! And pretty hard, too. I usually walk to church Sunday morning. I tried calling some family to get a ride, but didn't get through, so I threw on my coat and started walking. Didn't get further than a block when some friends of mine picked me up, an offer I was very glad of.

My mom and my younger siblings were in town, and came to church also. Audrey was also there, and we planned to go over to my brother Aaron's place afterward to celebrate Easter and his birthday, which had been a few days before.

The service, not too bad. The youth group opened with a drama and did a nice performance. My only problem with it was that I'd seen it twice before. In between worship and the sermon, the pastor excused the children for Children's church, and stressed that they would be showing clips from The Passion of the Christ, and it might be rather graphic. Well, it was not graphic, nor was the video they made edited together very well. They would have done better to contact me or Audrey, as both she and I edit lots of videos. The nice effect to it was that they had done a music video, but the music was performed live. My only problem there was that Jodi Felton, great person as she is, was not the best person to sing the song they chose. (Codutti, where are you when we need you?) The dance team also did a dance/drama/human video, which was well-done. The sermon itself was a bit more of your standard type, as Easter is a day when we expect a lot of guests, including people who don't normally attend church.

Now, AFTER the service and big altar call, we gathered together to decide who was riding with who. Arthur (my second youngest brother) asked if his friend Luke could come, and Mom said it was all right with her.

First element of disaster. Luke is the most annoying, obnoxious, and loud kid we know who is over the age of thirteen. Mom was not hosting this get-together, but rather Jessica, Aaron's wife, who does not exactly care for Luke's manner.

So, Luke and Arthur disappeared somewhere. I assumed they went out to Mom's van to ride with them. I went with Audrey, my other younger sister Genevieve, and their friend Sacha to the truck Audrey was borrowing from Aaron for the day, and Audrey says, "Mom doesn't know that they likely won't be home from visiting Jessica's parents until about 2." (At this time, it was about 12:30.)

Audrey then finds two index cards in her jacket from Mom, trying to convince Audrey to leave her fiance Shaun for a life free of "sexual immorality" and full of "chastity." (A bit late for that, now...) Audrey decided that we'd go visit Shaun at his work (manager at a gas station) and she'd let him look these over.

Shaun is so cool, he hooked us up with free fountain drinks! Of course, we all laughed over Mom's latest attempt to get Audrey and Shaun apart.

The reason is that Mom's not exactly one to talk about sexual purity before marriage. Aaron was born four months after my parents had been married, and she'd also divorced before then, so it's not like she picked my dad correctly right off.

Well, after we leave Shaun to get back to work, Audrey sees that she has two missed calls from Aaron and Jessica. She calls them back to discover that the burglar alarm in their house had gone off, and while Aaron was hurrying over to see what was going on (and of course, the police were on their way, as the alarm made their insurance company call a list of people to discover if it's a false alarm, then call the police), and if Audrey could get there first, if she could discover what was going on.

We'd thought maybe Mom, Dad, and the kids were already over and tried to get in (not realizing that they didn't have a key, and with no vehicles in the driveway, no one was obviously home) and had set off the alarm.

We got there the same time as the first police car. They told Audrey that as she was not the home owner, to not go near the house. Very shortly, Aaron arrived, and they went around to the back yard, where they discovered the culprits: Arthur and Luke.

Apparently, Arthur and Luke had gotten a ride from Luke's parents who had just dropped them off, despite the fact that no one was obviously home.

As Aaron identified them as his brother and a friend, no one was arrested, but we put up with over an hour of Luke at Audrey and Shaun's place before Luke's father arrived to pick him up. (Aaron and Jessica did not want him over, period.) Jessica came over to wait for Luke's father with us, and had some words with him.

... Good times.

We had some scanty leftovers for dinner, and a little after three o'clock, Shaun arrived from work. We had cake and ice cream (and a singing of "Happy Birthday," where just about everyone sang a different version, so it was a very odd sounding song, but then, it was a belated celebration), then Dad had to leave for work, and Shaun offered to take him. Almost immediately after, Mom decided to take her leave.

That left Aaron, Jessica, Drew, Audrey, Sacha, Amber, and myself, and Shaun returned eventually.

The rest of the night was spent playing Monopoly and pizza, before Audrey and Shaun took Drew, Sacha, and myself home.

Happy holiday!

And it's raining again...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More Irvine Welsh

I finished reading Irvine Welsh's Filth today. It was a bit of a different tale than Trainspotting and Porno. Instead of junkies, criminals, or pornographers, the book follows a police man, Detective Bruce Robertson.

Now, you would think that, "Great, he's got a positive lead character this time," but oh, no. Welsh gives us the most corrupt cop in the Edinburgh police force. Bruce is divorced, addicted to cocaine, a sexual pervert, and up for promotion. Oh, and early on, he eats an underdone meat pie that leaves him with a tapeworm that learns about him as it eats away on the inside of him. Only in Welsh...

As disgusting as the worm is, it makes for an interesting character. It is sentient, though realistically focused on eating, but the way it makes it's thoughts read is a curious device. It's hard to explain, but it's words appear over Bruce's. Bruce eventually discovers the worm's presence, and tries to rid himself of it, or them, rather, as the worm has multiplied. Because the worm has begun to depend on this companionship, it becomes spiteful to Bruce, and digs up his worst memories to feed back to him.

As for Bruce, he schemes for the upcoming promotion to Inspector, including ruining any chances his fellow detectives have. Bruce finds faults in all of them, forgetting that worse faults lie within himself. This occurs many times in the book: Bruce feels the faults of others somehow justify his own.

Some of most fun I had while reading this book was the reactions from co-workers to it.

"Filth? What is that? Some kind of porno book?"
"A corrupt cop? Does he like nasty, wild, freaky sex?" (My answer, "Yes, actually.")
"Where do you find these books?"

And the oddest I got today as I was reading at a bus stop, some weird tattooed guy passed, glanced, and murmured, "What book is that oh that book I read that book it's a good book."

... Okay ...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Believing In The Unseen

Let's face it, lots of people believe in things that are unseen, or things that aren't seen often, or some only claim to have seen. I believe in God, but unlike some, I realize that believing there's a God requires believing that there are things that exist that are beyond our comprehension. As such, I can't bring myself to completely rule out that ghosts exist (my blogs from last October show that I'm definitely not going to claim they don't exist), nor monsters. As such, I get fascinated by such things. Maybe more than I should...


Posted this on my sister's Facebook:
1, 2, I got money for you...
3, 4, can't go to your door.
5, 6, something rhymes with... Uh...
7, 8, bought a gift, card, and bag for Aaron, great.
9, 10, I'm never doing THIS again...

(The money? Chipping in for an iPod Nano for my youngest sister's birthday.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Star Wars

"I didn't like 'King Kong,' it was too long."
"Well, it was made in the 1930's..."
"No, I'm talking about the Peter Jackson remake. I haven't seen the original."
"What? How can you not have seen that?"
"I haven't seen the original Star Wars trilogy, either."
That almost killed him!

Yeah, I seriously lived for 22 years without watching those movies. As I've read books like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and L. Frank Baum's Oz series, and seen many fantasy movies, lots of people assumed I'd seen the "grandaddy of them all," George Lucas' juggernaut franchise Star Wars.

Okay, I actually did once see the very end of Return of the Jedi on TV once, but I mean the very end, where Luke sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda, and one time, we tuned into seeing Darth Vader's ship going awry at the end of Star Wars (or A New Hope, or whatever you call it), but I'd never watched the movies all the way through.

It didn't help in 1999 when I went to a movie night event we had in Youth Group, and they popped in a VHS of The Phantom Menace. I didn't have such a good head for catching onto things as I do now, but the movie made no sense to me whatsoever. Even without having seen the earlier movies, I already knew that the little kid would be Darth Vader in the later movies, and that Luke guy would be his son. (I later found out Leia was his sister when I was watching an episode of The O.C..)

So, last year, in July, I decided to finally rent the original trilogy on Netflix, just so I could say I'd seen it. I managed to rent the original, unaltered versions. I can understand extended and director's cuts, but I got confused as to the point of re-doing special effects. No one has bothered to re-do special effects in The Wizard of Oz (though that's a different matter entirely), Mary Poppins, Labyrinth, or The NeverEnding Story, and those movies have held up well.

I'll have to say, I did enjoy the first movie. I wasn't floored by it, but it was a fun adventure movie that told a nice story. I thought the creature effects held up well.

I got the other two movies and saw them in succession. These two lost a lot of the humor that was present in the first one, and started talking about the mysterious presence of "The Force." Having an imaginary world is good and all, but there are points where it feels like the filmmaker is forcing the audience to take it as seriously as he does.

One reason why I love The Chronicles of Narnia and the Oz books is because, even though there may be many details behind so many elements, the authors decided that it didn't need to be revealed for the readers to enjoy the stories. Baum dropped a few hints in his stories, as did Lewis, who also wrote a timeline that included events he didn't include in his books.

In Star Wars, all of this detail is forced on the viewer, and sadly, a lot of fiction has copied this style. For me, my interest was ebbing quickly. I finished the two movies, then sent them back to Netflix, and haven't watched them again since.

I still hear people talk about how great these movies are, and when they ask me about them, they're shocked to hear me say I'm not a fan. They were good movies that broke ground in special effects and cinematic storytelling, but that's all the praise I can really give them.

And seeing as it took nine months for me to finally write this tells you just how compelled I was to get my opinion out...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1st - Good Day For...

...The cheesiest videos ever. I put up two today:

That video was filmed by... this guy!