Tag Archives: Dylan is a bit odd

Closer Now

It’s moving closer now, moving sly and subtle, a thing you only notice out of the corner of your eye.

Today, for example, I was in the CVS, shopping for my usual lunch of Arizona Iced Tea and a bag of gummy bears. And something felt…off. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I froze in the middle of the hair-care aisle, my senses tingling.

I whirled around, but there was nothing there. My heart started pounding wildly. In that overbright white of the florescents I saw something flash by again in the corner of my eye. I tried to move with it, tried to catch a glimpse, but it was gone again, a whisper in the aether between Worlds.

I pulled out my iPod and switched to the camera app. This time I would be prepared. There again, that darting insect scampering through my periphery. A snapshot, blurry and indistinct:

 

It took me a moment, but I realized what they were: faces. Horrible faces, melted, shifting forms that did not describe the likeness of any creature alive, but only those things that lurked in the imaginations of the damned.

And then, while I still processed the images on my iPod, I heard a scuttling from behind. Again I spun in place and clicked the shutter button with no regard for framing or focusing. What I captured chilled me to my bones, for I now knew what was coming. 

It grins from the top shelf of the gum section.

Halloween is coming.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

On Boxing

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m going to take up boxing this year. As I also mentioned in that earlier post, it’s because I watched Rocky a whole mess of times. That’s only about 90% of the reason why however.

I’ve never been in shape, except for that one time that I took a running class in college. That was about four or five years ago now and I only dimly remember what it’s like to run from Point A to Point B without contemplating a nap midway. Coupling this with a series of life decisions that at best could be called “disastrous for my health,” and I am not the pillar of godly healthiness that you might think I am.

So that’s part of it.

“But Dylan!” I hear you saying, “There are other ways to get into shape besides having someone punch you in the head repeatedly!”

“That is true,” I’d say, as I pat you on the head condescendingly, “But I’m using my built-in obsessively competitive nature to bolster my desire to get into shape. One will inform the other. I know that I’m incapable of just exercising. So I’ve got to give myself end goals and a reason to get into shape.”

As part of this process, I’m going to be keeping a journal of sorts on the blog. So you’ll be with me up to the point that I throw my recently purchased boxing gloves on the floor saying, “I quit!”

I think we’re going to have fun!

Later today, I’m buying my first set of running shoes and we’ll see how it goes from there.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B

A Long Walk

Yesterday, in spite of the snowy conditions, my work remained open. Since I am committed to my job, I solemnly and stoically prepared for the trip. Gloves, hat, heavy coat: all would be needed to keep the deadly conditions at bay. I made sure that I packed plenty of food. I narrowly avoided starving to death on a similar adventure only a few weeks ago. I vowed that I would not let that happen again.

Emily decided to come along with me, since her bookstore had closed for the day and she had nothing else to do on that fateful day.

We bid farewell to Isaac and left the comforts of our apartment. It was 11am.

We marched through snow that was up to our knees. The blizzard had not quite abated, so snow and wind assaulted us on our long trudge to the bus stop. Unfortunately, our approach was blocked by snow drifts that towered over (Emily’s) head. We would have to walk a block to the next stop, where a clear path could be seen. But there was no bus. So we decided then and there to keep walking. A decision we would both live to regret.

The walk lasted longer than we anticipated. Sometimes…I think we are out there, still walking to that bus stop. I know that, in the darkest reaches of my mind, I am still walking that long walk.

I had vowed to get to work and I would keep that vow, no matter the cost. For forty minutes we walked toward Kenmore Station, all the time checking behind us for the bus. Emily’s spirits remained high, but I worried for both of our lives in this wintery deathland.

But then, our luck changed and the 57 showed up, scooping us up and carrying us along far more quickly than we would have been able to move on our own. It seemed salvation was at hand. Until we saw the police car that blocked the road, so close and yet so far from our destination. Emily and I looked at one another and made the decision to abandon the bus. We and twenty others left: lost nomads walking across white land. We passed a tree split in two by the weight of the ice upon it. Only careful movements kept the tree from falling on us and our lives were spared that day.

By the time we reached Kenmore Station, it was 12:30. By fortuitous fortune, the 60 bus was waiting there and we boarded. So began the second leg of our trip. We were almost there. Or so I thought.

But the driver of the 60 bus received new orders that day and she was told to abandon us at the Macy. She bid us farewell and we headed out into the snow one…last…time.

We pushed through snow that came up to our chests when we walked on the sidewalks. We walked in the road and nearly were taken to oblivion by passing snow plows. Through it all, we never stopped moving. We kept moving forward.

Then there, through the shadows of death, we saw the mall loom. Struggling now against still deeper snow drifts, we pushed on. I crawled on my belly, spitting out curses and hate at this mall that dared make me come in. I rolled down the snow bank, landing in the road. And still I came.

I stood on weary legs, my hands balled into fists.

With hatred in my eyes and fire burning into my very soul, I launched into the air and dropkicked the mall.

We had arrived.

Dylan Charles

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: An Allegory for the Second World War

Rankin Bass’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has long been considered a Christmas classic. It’s not truly Christmastime until you’ve gotten “We’re a Couple of Misfits“stuck in your head. But what most people don’t realize is that this Christmas singalong funtime is actually an in-depth allegory for the Second World War.

Santa and his elves represent the Nazi leadership; their sinister reign represses everyone who is different. Herbie and Rudolph are both examples of people who do not meet Santa’s criteria. Rudolph’s nose marks him as an imperfect freak. He is not fit to join in with the other reindeer and their reindeer games. He is ostracized by the others and flees.

Herbie wants to be a dentist and is also marked by the Santa and his henchman as being a “misfit.” It’s interesting to note that while Herbie’s occupational desires are singled out as the reason for why he’s a misfit, he’s also one of the few elves who looks different. The other elves are bald with pinpoint eyes, while Herbie has long, blond hair and big, blue eyes. However, Herbie is lucky to have escaped with his life. During their performance of “We Are Santa’s Elves” another elf (who is taller and wears glasses) is shoved into a burlap sack. Another elf, fatter than the others, is struck over the head and falls to the ground and doesn’t move.

But while Rudolph and Herbie are dramatic examples of Santa’s gestapo tactics to enforce uniformity, it turns out Santa’s been at this for years. During their travels, Rudolph and Herbie come across The Island of Misfit toys. These toys have been deemed “misfits” by Santa and are unfit for children. They are rounded up and sent to a distant island: alone, with no-one to play with them.

However, salvation comes from two sides: a brash and boisterous adventurer named Yukon Cornelius (obviously a stand-in for America) and the Bumble, a giant monster known for eating people and reindeers (obviously a stand-in for Soviet Russia). Yukon, Herbie and Rudolph must save everyone from the Soviet Bumble and, in the process, upending Santa’s wicked regime. The misfits are misfits no longer and Santa is properly chastised, while the Soviets have had their teeth pulled.

This telling of the Second World War has downplayed the Soviet’s role in the downfall of Nazi Germany, even casting them as the villains of the piece, but given that Rudolph was created during the height of the Cold War, this should come as a surprise to no one.

This classic is a history lesson wrapped up in a Christmas carol and it’s time we recognize it as such. There are unfound layers in this work and it remains to be seen what Rankin Bass’s other works have to tell us.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Pop Culturing: Movies, Books, Comic Books and Other Arts

It’s Halloween Month!

It’s finally, finally October and I’m all kinds of giddy.

I’m still not really sure what I’m going to do for the month, aside from the vague plans that I’ve mentioned from time to time.

I’ll do my best to post something vaguely Halloweeny as the month goes on though.

For me, it’s a time when my oddities and curious hobbies don’t seem so strange as everyone else begins to take them on as well. Now everyone is reading and watching horror and talkin’ about the macabre. I don’t have to hide (so much) anymore.

It’s even greater for me since I peddle horror (or try to). It’s not just my time to fit in, it’s my time to shine.

So, to start with, let’s just rehash the past, cause I’m tired and lazy. Here are some Halloween themed entries I’ve written so far:

Anticipation

Beyond the Veil

A Rough Beast Slouches Toward October to be Born

Horror Movie Primer: Monsters

Hopefully these will help get you into the Halloween spirit and we’ll be on the same page.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

A Rough Beast Slouches Toward October to Be Born

As Halloween draws ever closer, it becomes clearer to the people closest to me that I’m going completely and utterly insane. I’ll spend hours watching the Friday the 13th movies over and over again. I’ll leap from unlikely places and frighten old ladies. I’ll cover myself in red corn syrup and run through the streets giggling and brandishing a rubber knife.

This cannot be helped.

The best thing you can do during this time of year is to curl into the fetal position and hope I go away.

Or you can roll with it and tell yourself that it’s only once a year.

For those who go with the second option, you’re very much in luck: I will be spending the next few weeks writing blog entries to help everyone get into the proper Halloween spirit. Whether it’s lengthy diatribes about the current state of horror movies or me talking about the merits of certain horror authors or me dispatching yet another local ghost, you WILL be well suited to meet the Halloween season head on.

So stay tuned loyal, yet few, readers, because by the time October rolls around, you’re not going to even want to think about Halloween you’ll be so saturated.

Excitement!

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

The Tragedy of Apollo Creed

In all fairness, I should point out ahead of time that the following entry will interest only me. It is considered bad form for a writer to do that, but the following entry MUST be written.

I’ve always maintained that the first four Rocky movies is just as much about Apollo Creed as it is the titular hero. His story arc follows that of the traditional tragic hero.

He starts as the best in the world, unbeatable, untouchable: a figure who’s almost grown mythical in his prowess. Every other fighter is too scared to face him, at least, in his own humble opinion. He’s cocky, arrogant and deservedly so. He’s very good at what he does. He’s just not as good as he thinks he is. No-one possibly could be.

His own hubris leads him to choose a random fighter, on the assumption that any fighter he picks will not be a threat to him. And Rocky doesn’t beat him. But Rocky embarrasses him and puts his reputation into doubt. Once again, his pride gets the better of him and he rushes blindly into a fight that can only hurt him.

By doing so, he loses the title and he fades to the background.

But his arc has not reached full decline. By the fourth movie, he has fallen completely by the wayside. Forgotten mostly by the public at large, he allows himself to take on one last fight and is killed in the ring.

In days of old, Apollo Creed would have been the hero of any Greek tragedy. The brave warrior whose single flaw is his own ability to recognize his own fallibility. But in our own culture, there is less reverence for the best of the best. If anything, the Best is held up as an example of something to be mocked and derided. They’re shown as insufferable, arrogant and consumed with thoughts of themselves.

Instead, we worship the underdog; the little guy that rises up and topples the number one guy off his throne. The Karate Kid, any Rocky movie, The Bad News Bears, or pretty much any sports movie.

Where once the winners, like Apollo Creed (or Odysseus or Jason or Hercules) would have poems and epics and plays written about them, they’re now relegated to the supporting roles while the loser takes the stage.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Pop Culturing: Movies, Books, Comic Books and Other Arts