Archive for June, 2009

Just Dance

secretgrins

Take a breather. Pore over MS Word and Excel spreadsheets, making things work. Sip the now-dilute teh o peng that you bought because every taste and sip reminds you of her. Absently wish for a harderbetterfasterstronger system so it wouldn’t lag every time you click on one of your 43 tabs, IM programs, mail program, iTunes, 16 folders. Worship with Till I See You, ignoring how you might annoy your little sister in the next room with your squeaky warbling and incessant torturing of worn guitar strings.

Get back into perspective. Let each word soak up the desperation in your voice that worms up and out from your heart. Realise, spirit full, that the entirety of heaven is open to you. For you. Lay hands on that glorious immensity, the unquenchable riches of all provision in every imaginable area of your little life, all of which is found in Jesus. Open your arms wide. Dive in and find yourself raised so far above your petty little self that you can’t see you anymore — it’s just Him. Him and Him alone. And see that He’s all you need. No, really. It’s true. Forget everything else. Forget how you have to tear yourself away from her side. Forget the looming deadlines. Forget the responsibilities. Forget the stories you’re forming in your head. Forget that you’re so damn scared that’ll all come crashing down around your ears.

Forget yourself. And find Him. Dance in between the crashes of the piano keys, the tiny millisecond gaps in the flurry of fingertips and ivory. Sing. At the top of your lungs. And dance.  Just keep dancing.

To Write About War

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“Twenty years later, I can still see the sunlight on Curt Lemon’s face. I can see him turning, looking back at Rat Kiley, then he laughed and took that curious half step from shade into sunlight, his face brown and shining, and when his foot touched down, in that instant, he must’ve thought it was the sunlight that was killing him. It was not the sunlight. It was a rigged 105 round. But if I could ever get the story right, how the sun seemed to gather around him and pick him up and lift him into that tree, if I could somehow recreate the fatal whiteness of that light, the quick glare, the obvious cause and effect, then you would believe the last thing Curt Lemon believed, which for him must’ve been the final truth. Sunlight was killing him.

Now and then, when I tell this story, someone will come up to me afterward and say she liked it. It’s always a woman. Usually it’s an older woman of kindly temperament and humane politics. She’ll explain that as a rule she hates war stories; she can’t understand why people want to wallow in all the blood and gore. But this one she liked. The poor baby buffalo, it made her sad. Sometimes, even, there are little tears. What I should do, she’ll say, is put it all behind me.

Find new stories to tell.
I won’t say it but I’ll think it.
I’ll picture Rat Kiley’s face, his grief, and I’ll think, You dumb cooze.
Because she wasn’t listening.
It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story.

But you can’t say that. All you can do is tell it one more time, patiently, adding and subtracting, making up a few things to get at the real truth. No Mitchell Sanders, you tell her. No Curt Lemon, no Rat Kiley. No baby buffalo. No trail junction. No baby buffalo. It’s all made up. Beginning to end. Every goddamn detail – the mountains and the river and especially that poor dumb baby buffalo. None of it happened. None of it. And even if it did happen, it didn’t happen in the mountains, it happened in this little village on the Batangan Peninsula, and it was raining like crazy, and one night a guy named Stink Harris woke up screaming with a leech on his tongue.

You can tell a true war story if you just keep on telling it. And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It’s about sunlight. It’s about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross that river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It’s about love and memory. It’s about sorrow.

It’s about sisters who never write back and people who never listen.”

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien

It’s reading stuff like this that makes you want to write. But things feel like they’re spinning too fast for me to stop and do so. Give me a hidey-hole way out in the woods, by way of Bon Iver, none of this oppressive tropical heat but instead the sweet touch of cold, with the chill working into your bones; I want books, lots of them, coffee brewing by the pot over a wood-burning stove, sheaves of paper, noisy old typewriter, pencils and 0.28 pens; at night I will walk out the door with hands thrust in my coat pockets, watching in fascination as the cold transforms my breathing into wispy speech-bubble clouds. Open skies filled with stars, the frosty sting in your cheeks, to let my heart and spirit out to sing in the twilight, and to finally, finally, pull all these stories out from me.

“They’ll blame it all on Vietnam.

And they’ll be right. And they’ll be wrong.

I know what the world needs now. Same thing it’s needed all along.

I walk off the Brooklyn rooftop and into the future: a future full of screams and bullets, and bad men dying in the ancient dark.

And I show the world a face not made by God.”

– Garth Ennis, in Punisher: The Tyger

Paul Pope & Strange Tales

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Really starting to dig Paul Pope’s art. Here: STRANGE TALES MAX, 3-issue anthology series written and drawn by the best and brightest of the indie comic creators such as PAUL POPE, PETER BAGGE, MOLLY CRABAPPLE &JOHN LEAVITT, JUNKO MIZUNO, DASH SHAW, JAMES KOCHALKA, JOHNNY RYAN, MICHAEL KUPPERMAN, NICK BERTOZZI, NICHOLAS GUREWICH, AND JASON. Out in September.

Ace Of Killers: Hitman

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“Daydreaming.

Night-dreaming now, on the darkside long before I know it. I shrug myself awake, go hypersonic over the Aleutians.

Go up.

Up here, where the air is razor-thin. Where men believe themselves invisible.

I take a last, sharp, frozen breath — and hold it.

The seas are sapphires, the fields and forests emeralds, the Himalayas gleam like diamonds. The strange blue world to which my father sent me.

If you knew how you are loved, not one of you would raise a hand in rage again.

In Gotham, in the cemetery at Saint Jack’s, the grave is but a marker, dull and mute. Offering no testimony.

Afterwards, repairs were finished quickly. The whole black business was forgotten, brushed away. I asked for one small corner to be left, a length of moonbase wall that threatened no one. I was smiled at, darkly, but indulged.

And it’s here that I come when I offer a prayer..

.. to the Lord for the soul of a killer.”

– Superman, for Tommy Monaghan in JLA/Hitman #2, written by the inimitable Garth Ennis. Love the Christian allegory, even though Ennis is nothing but openly disdainful of Christianity.

Read the pages from the comic here:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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I daresay that Ennis’ Hitman series is my favourite of all time, closely seconded, if not tied, by his Punisher run (which has, lamentably, ended).  It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious, irreverent without being over-the-top (only because it’s on DC’s main imprint), and yet with its themes of brotherhood and friendship, even manages to be tender.

Writing like this by Ennis, rare as they might be, show his eloquent, almost poetic, side. Why is Ennis so brilliant? It’s because of his ability to weave humour, wit and cool together with his storytelling abilities – pacing, plot, character development – and make it accessible. No need to refer to Wikipedia, New Scientist or essays dissecting the infinitesmal layers contained in the subtext. And I mourn that Tommy is dead and can never be resurrected.