Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Previous installment can be read here. Buying the ebook can be done on Kindle or Smashwords, for 0.99$.
Five Months Later, and …
23 Days Without Medication
As stress relief, Floyd Cervenka desperately wanted to masturbate, but in his oven, a severed head laughed at him. At first, Floyd didn’t know whether it was a hallucination, or if somebody had put it there. If he retreated from hysterics long enough, he could rationalize it. He had not slept in 72 hours. Over the last three days, he had done nothing but eat peanut butter on white bread, and he drank about five bags worth Shop & Drop instant coffee, black without any sugar or creamer. He had also drank about a case of Lo-Carb Creature. It was Floyd’s idea of acting responsibly – IBSL was threatening foreclosure again, and he had a lot of work to do and a lot of money to earn.
Most of it consisted of consulting Gray’s Anatomy and his own, personal copy of the DSM-IV-TR and The People’s Guide To Pills. A medical website was paying five bucks for each medically adequate definition of drugs, illnesses and body parts. The work was so profitable, Floyd was afraid to go to bed, thinking that he’d wake and it would be claimed by somebody else. Then, he would be back to writing search-engine-optimized Botox articles for $1 each.
Before hearing a high-pitched cackle from his stove, he had taken a break from the upper arm’s brachial artery. He was surfing the net for naked girls, specifically for a brunette with tattoos. He was about at settle on a link that suggested, Nerdy Girls Need Hard Loving! That’s when he heard the cackling. Other noises were hard to describe, and the closest Floyd could manage was phlegmy cough after sucking helium.
When he opened the oven door, he dropped his coffee, and then he slipped on the subsequent puddle, once he tried to back away. That’s when he came eye-to-eye with the severed head. It didn’t look normal, though. The skin had turned a twinge of blue, and the eyes were only dark cavities. Still, they blinked. Often. The head’s mouth was drawn into a wide, brown-toothed grin.
Like many times before, Floyd sought to prove it wasn’t real, that this was just another hallucination or a left-over figment from one of his all-to-vivid dreams. He got to his feet and walked over to the oven. Reaching in, he grabbed the head by its gray-streaked hair . Instead of his hand going through an immaterial head, the thing’s hair felt greasy. He tried to raise it to eye level, and the thing slipped out and smacked face-first against the floor. Still, it didn’t stop laughing. Floyd stood over it and stared down at it for a long while. He kicked it, slightly, and it rolled.
“Don’t you ever stop laughing?”
The head slightly rolled over to face Floyd. It winked an empty eye cavity. Then, it stopped laughing for a moment. “OF COURSE NOT,” it rasped. Then, it went back to its phlegm-filled cackling.
Floyd gritted his teeth, and then, he lost his temper. Bending over, he grabbed the head by its greasy hair and flung it against the wall. When it didn’t stop cackling, he grabbed a broom from next to his fridge and started beating the head with the straw end. That did nothing. Floyd really didn’t want to do what he did next, but he felt he had no choice. He reached into his pocket for his phone.
“911—what’s your emergency?”
“Somebody is pulling a prank on me.”
“Oh Christ—Floyd, you’re not supposed to call 911.”
“Fuck you. There’s somebody fucking with me.”
“Have you taken your medications?”
“No, but that’s not the point.”
The dispatcher, a woman, sighed. “Please hang up, and only call this number when you have a real emergency.”
“This is a real fucking emergency.” He stared down at the laughing head.
“No, it’s not. Take your meds, Floyd.”
“Here,” he said. He put his flip phone next to the laughing head. “Hear that?”
“Floyd, I’m going to hang up, now.”
A sneer broke out across his face. Again, he stared down at the head. The empty eye sockets squinted, and elaborate crow’s feet spread out across the thing’s temples, merging with the four major brow creases. “Oh, fuck you.” Floyd opened the kitchen cabinet above his sink and started throwing glasses at the laughing head. “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!” When he ran out of glasses, he started flinging plates.
“FLOYD! You still there?”
“Where the-goddamned-else would I be? Ulan Bator?”
“You know,” he held the phone at arm’s length, “I HEAR MONGOLIA IS JUST FUCKING SNAZZY IN THE SPRING TIME!” He brought the phone back to his ear. “You hear me? Or will I need to start reading the copy I sold to snazzy-planet-dot-com last week?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Do you need help?”
“Do you think I call 911 for the scintillating conversation?” He breathed deeply. “If so, I‘m so far from scintillated right now. If scintillation were a boulevard in Ulan-Fucking-Bator, it would be…”
The woman dispatcher sighed. “Alright, I’ll send somebody over.” Then, she hung up.
Floyd grabbed a forty of Jersey Reserve Malt Liquor from his fridge. He sat on the floor, crossed his legs, and uncapped the bottle. He took a sip and stared at the laughing head. However, fatigue mingled with his caffeine crash, and the alcohol just made it worse. He fell quickly asleep, resting his chin on his fist.
When he woke, somebody was nudging him with their wingtips. Floyd looked at the foot, and then upwards. He saw a black man in a Khaki trench coat staring down at him.
“Oh,” Floyd said. “Detective Johnson, it’s right,” he pointed. However, the laughing head was gone. “Oh.” Floyd clamped his eyes shut for a moment. “Oh, fuck.”
“That’s all you got to say?”
“Trell, it was here just….”
“You know what? I don’t know, and I don’t care.” He turned and strode out of the kitchen. “I have so much more important shit to do.” And he left.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sunday, August 28, 2011
There were five men in tuxedos sitting in the front row, and Floyd Cervenka thought that was strange for a town hall meeting. The back of their heads looked exactly the same: jet black hair, combed straight and greased down. Besides those men, there was the usual smattering of senior citizens – all of whom had fallen asleep already. This week, however, he realized he was the only journalist in attendance. He sat there, pen poised, ready, and pointed at a blank page in his composition book.
Only, Floyd had nothing to write, at first. Monmouthside Height’s town hall meetings were banal to begin with. Mayor George Gurley spent most of the time talking vapidly about a being a “friend of business” and how “Conservative times needed conservative solutions.” Floyd gritted his teeth and raised his hand.
Mayor Gurley just scowled at him for a moment. “What?”
Floyd tapped his pen against his blank page. He held up a thick packet of new ordinances. “So let me get this straight. You’re going to raise property taxes, cut the funding for the library, defund the free clinic, and give hefty rebates to the real estate management industry?”
“No.” Gurley’s scowled deepened. “Those are austerity measures, and I’m creating a business capital incentive…”
“All industries. Realty is just one …”
“And doesn’t the Gurley family own about a third of this town, anyway? So that means, by raising my property taxes, your family is going to pocket…”
“That is uncalled for. I could sue you for slander.”
Floyd grinned. He looked at the small group of sleeping senior citizens snoring around him. “Go ahead. Do it. Imagine the headlines: Slumlord Sues Local Whistle Blower. Certainly would call some attention to Gurley & Sons, Inc.”
Mayor Gurley turned to the five men in tuxedos seated up front. The whole time, none of them turned to face Floyd. “Pay no attention to him. He’s just a local whack job.” He turned back to face Floyd, again. “One who’s had a very long history of delusional mania—like the time he thought aliens had infiltrated our school board. He picketed for weeks on that one. Plus, there was the time he was caught masturbating in the…”
“Fucking hell,” Floyd said. “You’re going to bring that up?”
“Why not? Plus, three years ago, you once claimed inter-dimensional aliens took over the Monmouthside Republican Party.”
“You are just a crazy liberal. Like other crazy liberals. You were sued for unjust defamation.”
“That’s not important. You’re clearly trying to…”
“Have you taken your medications today?”
“Yes. But that’s none of your damn business. I asked a legit news question. Bringing up my mental health history is skirting the question.” Floyd tapped his pen against his composition book again. “So, answer me. How much of my property taxes will go into your family’s pocket?”
Mayor Gurley’s face flushed deep red. “How do you expect to revitalize this shithole of a town, if I can’t raise capital to…”
“Ah,” Floyd stood from his metal fold up chair. “You’re not denying it. Wonderful.” He made his way to the back of the hall, but before leaving, he stopped and turned around. “One thing. Who are the fucktards in tuxedos?”
None of the five men turned to face him.
“And why,” Floyd said, “are they wearing tuxedos? Seems a bit odd—even for business men.”
“If you must know,” the Mayor gripped the edges of his podium. “They represent a large financial company that’s relocating here.”
“Great.” Floyd rolled his eyes.
“I’m glad you…”
“That’s sarcasm, asshole.”
Floyd left the meeting. He didn’t see any reason to stay. After all, he had what he needed – the open meetings law required this type of monthly meeting, with all the newly passed ordinances available to the public for comment. Floyd figured he’d go back to his cubicle and leaf through the packet, before writing another scathing editorial.
He walked two or three blocks, seemingly not paying attention to the dilapidated houses around him, as well as most of the boarded over store fronts. However, once he returned to the Monmouth County Messenger office, he was slightly taken aback.
Desks, chairs, and computers sat on the curb. Floyd was surprised the computers were not stolen already. Somebody had nailed slabs of rotting plywood over the door and the storefront window. Floyd looked up, and instead of seeing a business marquee, he only saw chipped, white brick. He glanced around, not knowing what to think. Then, the boarded over door opened.
His boss D’Wayne Washington, a very fat African American man in a grey suit waddled out. He held out an envelope.
Floyd took it. “What’s this?”
“Everything I owe you, plus severance.”
D’Wayne shook his head. “You know the thing about the newspaper business and the Internet?”
“Floyd, I’ve been losing money for two years, now. My credit’s gone. I have no advertisers. I’m sorry, but I’m bankrupt.”
“Aw, shit.” Floyd looked at pavement. “That sucks.”
“You don’t have to tell me.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t warn you,” He said. “I tried everything. I wanted new investors.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“Move to Newark,” he said.
“Now, that is desperate.”
“A job is a job. I’d take one in Camden if it meant getting paid.”
“Well, best of luck with that.”
D’Wayne turned to reenter the boarded-over office. “Now, I have to finish moving stuff out.”
“Before you go.”
“What about my health insurance?”
“It’s paid till the end of the month. I can get you the COBRA paperwork?”
“I can’t afford COBRA payments and pay my mortgage.”
He turned. “Floyd, I’m so sorry. I really hate that I’m doing this you. Especially now that you have your shit together, finally…”
“It’s okay. I’m sure I can find some sort of writing job with benefits somewhere.” He paused for a moment, slightly unsure of what to say. “Thanks for the steady work, though.”They shook hands. Once he got home, he noticed a thick letter waiting in his mailbox. Floyd assumed it was just junk mail. Later, Floyd would regret not opening it immediately. A company called Interstate Business Savings & Loan (IBSL) had bought his mortgage off of First Garden State Trust.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
In my perpetual cash strapped times, I'm often stuck wondering how I can make money. Lately, that thought has focused on what skills I have that could possibly earn a buck or two. So, in the regard, I'm actively thinking of posting low-cost, bargain priced graphic design "situations wanted" ads at places like fiverr.com.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
The problem with a lot of American horror films these days is this: a lot of gore, a lot of effects, but not so much emphasis on character, ambiance, or atmosphere. In this regard, I was pleasantly surprised by Dead Silence. To be honest, I only bought this film because it was in the two-dollar bin at Big Lots.
The monster is genuinely creepy looking. It's a thin old woman puppeteer, and according to the DVD extras, she's a Broadway veteran. In short: a seasoned actor who knows how to act through facial expression, and she does it rather well.
The movie is thick on atmosphere. Sure, a lot of it is horror cliche that is old and well used: mist, woods, puppets, dark set lighting, lightning, etc. However, even well-worn imagery can be effective in the hands of a talented film maker.
Mark Wahlberg is playing out of stereotype. Wahlberg strikes me, sometimes, as the white Ice Cube -- not in hip hop and rhyming (Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch still make me want to ram an icepick through my ear), but in that Wahlberg seems at home scowling and looking mean. True, that was definately not the case in The Lovely Bones, but that's also a Peter Jackson film and an exception.
The landscape looks a lot like West Virginia, and I have a soft spot for mountains and woodlands.
The ending may be contrived for "shock," but it's one that's decently executed.
Mark Wahlberg is playing out of stereotype. His character seems annoying, to an extent. It don't mind that he's softer spoken, but there's something about the character, the way its written, that's just milquetoast.
The plot is a little convoluted at points. But, then again, this is a movie about an old woman that will rip your tongue out, if you scream.
The Bottom Line.
Enjoyable. Not the greatest horror movie written, but certainly not the worst. There's enough here to keep a viewer engaged without descending into levels of MEH!
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Of course, mTurk really isn't the culprit, here. It's only the third party marketplace. The people undervaluing work are the people posting jobs there. It's a lot like faulting a newspaper for posting classifieds for services. Those classifieds are paid for, and the newspaper takes no responsibility (to an extent) for the want ads posted there.
However, the true answer for mTurk is this: in order to make it lucrative, you have to know how to find jobs you can do quickly and that pay well (collectively). This includes taking umpteen qualification tests. Even more, it comes down to effective searching too. So much of today's net reality hinges on finding and using the right keywords while searching. In many cases, I've always found that using actionable verbs are usually better for finding work.
Still, I haven't found a way to break even 5$ an hour. So, the platform is more of a hobby than true worksite, for me, at least.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Sunday, July 10, 2011
The meaning of the clip is not readily put together the same way Scorcese or Howard would lay something out. Many experience this same sense of confusion through reading poetry, too, especially with work that tends to be more surreal than naturalistic, like, say Garcia Lorca or Pablo Neruda. But then again, Lorca or Neruda are not Hemingway, and nor should the reading experience be expected to be the same, either.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Last year, I wrote four long poems that were collected into a chapbook called Four Murders.* At the time, I was very interested in how eReaders and cell phones displayed poetry and constantly mucked up a poet's deliberate lineation. The screens, I posited, were too small and the poet had no control over the way they can be displayed.
Friday, July 1, 2011
- Slept in and slept off a hangover.
- Looked for freelance work and didn't find any.
- Called Walmart and Asked to be on the schedule this week
- Whined to myself about missing Convergence this week
- Went to my parents for pizza and ice cream cake.
- Felt a little sad, as my mother was out of it
- Felt a little sad, because perhaps I shouldn't have planned go to Convergence this year anyway. This is likely going to be my last birthday where my mother is alive.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
- A gargling cough
- A lack of mobility
- Struggled Speech.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Paul Park's Ragnarok sets off conficted feelings in me as a reader. It's a poem Tor.com published online, and it's available on Kindle as a $0.99 read. As a lover of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, I feel that I should be grateful whenever an established writer makes a serious attempt at writing poetry. As a lover of poetry, the poem itself does not leave me impressed. It leaves me wholly unsatisfied.
Ragnarok is a meant as a post apocalyptic tale told in heroic verse. By heroic verse, Paul Park is not using metrical verse found in Homer, but more of the alliterative type seen in the Old English version of Beowulf (See the Heaney translation)and the sagas of the vikings.
Paul Park has a facility with language. That's the one thing I did enjoy about Ragnarok. He takes alliteration and uses it masterfully as an organizing poetic principal. For example:
There was a man, Magnus’s son,
Ragni his name. In Reykjavik
Stands his office, six stories,
Far from the harbor in the fat past.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
My mother, today, called me "Boobie." Its an endearing term I've heard most of my life. It also tells me that she is somewhat "there." Only, that was followed by her seemingly thinking that it was the middle of the afternoon, and we needed to go to J.C. Penny's to buy me shorts. It was 10pm, and I was over there to give my father a pile of documents regarding something else...
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
For example, my mother was diagnosed back in 2008. Her initial diagnosis covered tumors both in her brain and in her lungs. Back then, it was "inoperable" which is not "terminal." In short, they couldn't cut the tumors out, but they thought they could manage it. This meant a lot of chemo, basically. Plus, my mom has had two rounds of whole-brain radiation. The second bout of whole brain radiation (Several, several months ago) adversely changed her cognitive abilities. Plus, her multiple medications have lead to some damaging side effects. For awhile, she was suffering and in pain, partly due to degenerating bones in her spine. She also lost the ability to walk, due to blood clots in her legs.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
- If you are a doctor, and you have never seen or met with a patient before, the first words out of your mouth do not need to be, "You do not have long to live" when you walk into a hospital room for the first time. The absurdly bad taste and Dr. Gregory House-like rapport would normally be quite funny in a dark way. However, that's on television, not in my mother's actual hospital room.
- If you are a research/university hospital, and her lead physician says certain procedures are a waste of time. Listen to the guy, especially if the research hospital is located in New Jersey, and her lead physician works for a world-renowned cancer research organization in New York City.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
So, we got pissed! How could they do that, after all, we had a refinancing contract! Well, in the eyes of the lender, they are holding up their end of the bargain. After all, they are technically not changing the monthly payment amount. They're just escalating the escrow payments, claiming that the price of "mortgage insurance" has gone up.
So, thanks for nothing. My wife and I are back where we started. The bank has no real interest in helping us. In fact, after we did some digging, we found out that our mortgage was bought by a predatory lender -- an outfit that has no interest in actually servicing mortgages, but rather finding ways to put people into arrears, so they can foreclose and claim the property. Essentially, they have found a loophole around a "fixed rate mortgage."