Archive | November 2015

The West vs The Middle East (Peace for Paris)

Mistreating large sections of the world’s poorest and most impoverished people is the main fuel of Islamic terrorism. Want to reduce terrorism? Value human life. Work as a planet to raise everyone’s standard of living through health, education, and renewable energy. Stop terrorizing civilian populations with an endless drone war. The rhetoric of Christians vs Muslims, The West vs The Middle East is only empowering conservative-extremist elements on both sides.

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When people feel safe from outside threats, conservatism loses its grip and social progress happens. People recognize the oppression coming from within their own group and want it to change. Much of the Middle East has remained conservative and fundamentalist because of constant threats from the outside. It’s hard to question authority when you are banding together against an enemy that wants to kill you and destroy your culture.

We, as a nation, should understand this instinct. We slipped into blind patriotism after the 9/11 attacks. Conservatives took advantage, stripping our rights and going to war. Terror and fear are used to manipulate, but I would like to think we are growing wise. When people were quick to blame Syrian refuges for the attacks in Paris, others rose up to protect the refugee camps from harm.

The world needs a liberal revolution to fight economic inequality and climate change a lot more than another skirmish with a relatively powerless fringe group, especially when those skirmishes kill civilians and create more radicals that hate The West. This all seems obvious, but the US still sees violence as a great way to solve problems, whether it be more guns to stop mass shooting or bombs overseas to stop terrorism.

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Writing Progress (House of Cabal Volume One)

I’m not blogging every day. Still, I’m actually blogging, so I call that a win. Removing the restrictions and just going with whatever strikes me seems to be working.

Today I received feedback on the first volume of my House of Cabal series. I’ve been working on this one for a long time, but it’s in the final stages. A few tweaks and it should be ready for a copy editor.

I’m still thinking over the cover.

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As you may have noticed, I’ve decided to change from episodes to volumes. “Episode” felt too slight. I think people are used to books using episodic storytelling and calling each book an episode felt too gimmicky to me. Mimicking the way comic books do trade paperbacks seems like the best way to go for this series. The book has that sort of speculative-fiction comic-book feel to it, so I think “volume” fits the overall aesthetic. I also like the idea of the spines lined up: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3.

House of Cabal Vol. 2 is also getting closer to a new finished draft.

I’ve grown a lot as a writer and it is taking some work to have the text (having been written over so many years) reflect that growth. The dialogue definitely needed an overhaul, something I hadn’t really changed dramatically for years. All together some heartening progress.

Eugene and Sufjan Stevens

Found myself on Spencer’s Butte

Traced your shadow with my shoe

Empty outline changed my view

Now all of me thinks less of you

“All Of Me Wants All Of You”

By Sufjan Stevens

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I’ve been to the top of Spencer’s Butte many times. I graduated from the University of Oregon in Eugene in 2008, which is where Sufjan Stevens spent summers with his mother, Carrie, and his stepfather, Lowell. I lived there for a few years after I graduated.

I think “Carrie & Lowell” is the album so far this year, fairly easily. It’s about the loss of Sufjan’s mother. The vulnerability of the album is heart breaking. The grief is palpable and at the same time there is a light that seems trapped inside the music, if that makes sense.

I’ve lived in Roseburg and Eugene all my life (with one year in Seattle). Oregon is my home. The Northwest is amazing and inspiring place for a writer to work. It’s comforting to hear an album that reflects that wonder and darkness.

Here is one of the happier songs on the album.

The UCC Shooting

The shooting happened on my mother’s birthday.

Back in the early aughts, I attended Umpqua Community College for over two years. I’ve spent a lot of time on campus, waiting hours and hours between classes because the drive home was too far. I know the place well. I took acting classes and stared in a production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. I played Picasso. My favorite class was on Shakespeare. It took place in the building where all those people were shot and also down in Ashland at the Shakespeare Festival, so that we could see the plays performed live and then write an easy about them. And then this spring, I took a drawing class at UCC. I considered taking another art class this fall but decided I didn’t have the funds.

When UCC was on the news everywhere, it seemed odd. People were talking about Roseburg. It’s by Portland, even though it isn’t really. But people have heard of Portland.

I know a person, I guess you could call her an acquaintance (or someone close to a close friend of mine), that was in the building next door during the shooting. She’s fine. She quickly tired of people asking.

I have an Australian pen pal that heard about the shooting. He hoped me and my loved ones were all well. He was saddened by the tragedy. I sometimes use Australia as an example of a country where gun control worked, where it stopped the mass shootings, but Roseburg is now even more pro-gun than ever, if that is possible. There is no real debate. Everyone has already made up his or her mind.

All around town there are signs that say “UCC Strong” and “We are UCC” and other things like that. The general feeling is that we need to be strong together, so that we don’t have to change anything about ourselves or our community.

The UCC shooting is just another school shooting in a small town in the USA. This time it just happened close to home. I wonder how long all those signs will stay up. My guess is they will come down sometime after the new year. I’m sure everyone will want to start fresh.

All I hope is that my mother has a better birthday next year.