Monthly Archives: April 2010

Food of the Gods

Food and I have an unhealthy relationship. I have a tendency to go toward the strange and bizarre. And by that I don’t mean, say, octopus (too crunchy, not enough flavor). I mean that weird crap that lurks on the bottom shelves of grocery stores and gas-stations, like mint flavored frappucinos and snack cakes made by shady Mexican companies.

All the regrets of my life are centered around the fact that I never got to try a deep-fried Krispy Kreme hamburger or an emu burger. Which is depressing. Everyone should know the pure and simple joy of a food item that induces a massive coronary mere seconds after taking a bite.

Which is why I will not let a similar opportunity pass me by. I am, of course, talking about KFC’s Double Down. Imagine, if you will, a BLT. Now imagine that, instead of disgustingly healthy bread, the bacon has been sandwiched between two pieces of fried chicken. Now imagine that your initial reaction is not one of depression and sorrow at the state of the American diet, but happiness and elation. Now you’re me.

It is my goal to seek out this Double Down, eat it and then try not to cry tears of unadultered joy at such a thing existing in my lifetime.

Updates to follow!

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Pitfalls

There are two huge issues that I deal with when I’m writing, both of them dealing with me thinking too much.

One happens immediately after I finish a story. Every story starts off as an idea in my head. I know, you’re shocked. The process of the story going from my head to the computer is not a perfect process. As a result, the completed product rarely matches up to what was in my head. Most of the time I can make peace with this. Obviously, I have to. It’s never going to match up, no matter how good I am at the transfer.

But sometimes the end result is so jarringly off that I disregard the store and shove it into the trunk and never think about it again, if I can help it. Which is bad. Just because it doesn’t match the magical picture in my head, doesn’t mean it’s not good. Or that I can’t shape it into a better representation of its Platonic Ideal.

The second pitfall is really more for longterm projects. The longer I work on a given story, the more likely I am to think it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever written. Which usually ends up with me scrapping the whole project and moving onto something else. Which is annoying, because unlike most unsuccesful writers, I don’t even have a shitty finished novel buried in the attic, I just have pieces of several shitty novels.

Really, the best solution to both of these problems is heavy drinking and sulking, but that doesn’t lead to much getting done.

So that leaves just barreling through it.

And sulking about having to do that.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics

Checklist

I’ve never been real good about sticking to a schedule. Generally, I do stuff when I feel like it. So, chores don’t really get tackled. And stuff that I might enjoy, but require energy. Or anything that really requires energy. This means I get next to nothing done in a day, save for the fact that I’m an unstoppable force in Defense Grid.

So I’m moving to a new routine, slowly but surely getting stuck into a routine.

So far it’s going smoothly, as you can tell by the fact that it’s around 3 and I’m writing.

In the interest of honesty, I should point out that there are really only two things on my schedule: do the dishes and then do some writing. But, at some point, I’m thinking I might even add a third thing, like job hunting or cleaning my room or something. If you can imagine such audacity. Such verve. Such bravey and courage in the face of adversity. Standing tall and never backing down from any challenge!

Wait.

Lost my train of thought.

Schedules good.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Day-to-Day: What's Going On, Events, Releases and New Things

The Healing Powers of Horror

Since I write horror, I often feel the need to defend it. It’s the creepy, inbred cousin in the writing family, the one that you just know is going to pull an Ed Gein and live in a house decorated with body part furniture he got from a satanic Ikea.

For me horror, in most of its forms, functions as a way for people to deal with the horrors of everyday life. We all have little fears and worries that crop up; cancer, heart disease, car accidents, choking, Alzheimers, robbery, exploding suns, etc. And there’s really not much we can do about these things. Bad shit happens, sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid it and that’s just a fact.

But horror in fiction is our way of dealing with these mundane monsters. In the beginning of the story, we’re given something to be scared of. Our fears are crystallized into a palpable form, crammed into gruesome figures wearing hockey masks and waving machetes.

And then it’s dispatched. Sometimes with a magical talisman (silver bullets, crosses and holy water), sometimes the heroes just beat the crap out of it. The movie or book conjures up a boogeyman and then dismisses it by the time you hit the last page or the end credits.

And even if the monster’s end is ambiguous, his tale ending with a question mark rather than a full stop, you can tell yourself that it was only a story.

That’s something you can’t do in the real world. There are no silver bullets, holy water wouldn’t even chase off a goth kid and garlic is only good at being delicious.

Horror, at its best, lets you forget the real monsters and, instead, gives you a fear that can actually be dealt with.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Horror: Movies, Books, Stories and More

Set in Stone…Like Talc or Something

One of the more interesting and appalling aspects of history is its malleability.

I constantly have to relearn what I thought I knew about history. For example, it’s common knowledge that Egyptians used slave labor to build their pyramids, who were a bunch of sad bastards who were worked to death against their will.

Except that’s not true. Being a pyramid builder was apparently considered a pretty sweet gig. They were fed, housed and paid. They got weekends, unlike farmers. And they chose to do it.

Or take Rome. Every fifty years or so, they reevaluate how the Romans are viewed. They’re either barbaric murdering savages or the bright light of republicanism, architecture and science. Or both.

Or English feudal peasants: beaten down mud farmers or experts in local law and self governance? Depends on who you ask, but it’s starting to look like the latter more than the former.

This kind of constant re-evaluation has to do with a variety of factors. Sometimes it’s just getting more information, sometimes it’s the result of a change in attitudes and sometimes it’s just removing all the white-washing (pun intended). Columbus used to be a great hero who discovered America and proved to all those morons back home that the world was not flat.

Now, Columbus is considered a genocidal, incompetent fool and a damned lucky one at that. People thought he was crazy to sail to India via a western route because they thought the world was far too large for a ship to sail that distance, whereas Columbus thought the world was much smaller. And Columbus was wrong. Had there been no America to land on, he and his fellow sailors would have died long before they ever reached India.

History is such a strangely flexible thing, especially considering how inflexible most people view it. Most folks view it as a collection of facts that are immutable. Whereas it’s more a collection of interpretations of sometimes very sketchy and incomplete records that are influenced by the biases of the person reading those records. One way, Columbus is a hero, another he’s a barbarian. One way, Caesar was a leader of the people unjustly murdered, another is he’s a power hungry dictator who was put down before he could destroy the Republic.

This makes history either infuriating or wonderfully fluid, depending on the kind of person you are.

Me, I’m just interested in what makes the better story. So, to me, Caesar is a time traveling cyborg trying to stop the evil Fourth Dimensional Wizard Pompey from gaining control of the S.E.N.A.T.E., a gestalt super-robot formed by 100 other robots.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

Rejection

Whenever I submit to a new place, I never get hung up on the possibility of being rejected. This is not the result of colossal arrogance or an ego that would dwarf this or any other solar system, but rather that I understand this is all part of the process.

If I’m going to write, I’m going to be rejected. And my stories will be rejected more often than they’re accepted. To be worried about rejection would be like being worried about getting punched during a boxing match.

No, I’m more worried about looking like a moron in the cover letter.

This is amplified by the fact that most places have different requirements for their cover letters. Some people want your publishing history above all other things, others want a synopsis, some want a mini-biography and so on.

And then there’s the ever-present worry about “Who do I address this to?” Different people give different advice about the salutation, but most agree that it’s poor form to say “Dear Editor.” Of course, most magazines and websites seem to delight in making it near impossible to find out who the editor is.

I become paralyzed while writing the cover letter. Did I write too much plot synopsis, not enough? Did I follow the format? Did I give enough publishing history (which is pretty easy at this point since I ain’t been published)? I become catatonic with the fretting and end up with “DEAR EDITOR SIR OR MADAM AIIIIEEEE” scribbled on my monitor with a Sharpie.

But now I’m just whinging for the sake of whinging.

Bah.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics

Blogging

Pretty much every piece of writing advice I’ve read has sternly recommended that, in order to be a writer, one has to write as often as possible. A writer must exercise that muscle frequently or it begins to atrophy. This means a painful, uphill battle everytime he or she wants to get to work.

Blogging has always been a way for me to exercise that muscle, but it has never been the main event. While I’m glad that people seem to enjoy my blogs and I’ve gotten some pretty great things out of blogging, it’s not a given that I’ll keep writing in one. It’s just a way for me to stay in shape, to keep the basic rules of grammar sharp in my head and possibly learn some new ways to put words together. Hell, maybe I’ll even stumble on some profound insight that’ll rock your world and change the way you view the universe…forever. More likely, I’ll just talk about horror movies and why I like coffee so much.

So, while I can’t promise I’ll keep this up forever, I’ll do my damnedest to write in here as often as possible.

Until next time,

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Writing: Novels, Stories, Blogs and Comics