Generating Content

My Regular Mind, November 8, 2010 at 01h47

When I first started this site years ago, I found it enormously easy to update frequently. There was even a month when I had updated almost daily, something I probably couldn’t achieve today. Back then I wrote very emotionally, very abstractly, and now, even though that style comes naturally to me, I don’t enjoy it. I want my work to have a deeper significance no matter how artistically constraining it is. This post will not be constraining or significant: I will let it be what it is.

I’ve been generating content on various sites since the mid-to-late 90’s, back when not everyone and their dog had a web page. The same day that my family got Internet access, I bought a book on HTML programming. This was when we had a top-of-the-line 56K modem that barely achieved 14K. My first web page — (called My Asylum, clearly during my black-jeans-only phase) — was a collection of various links and a logo drawn in MS Paint. I thought it was cutting edge. It had animated GIFs.

My next site came years later and was much more refined. I called it iMike, which more accurately reflected my less gloomy, more geeky lifestyle. It’s still up — surprising, since Tripod used to have a tendency to remove inactive accounts. All the manual coding became so tedious that I eventually signed up for one of the earlier ‘blogging’ sites called Diaryland. Later I moved my content to Blogspot, and finally to this present site, my handcrafted, WordPress-powered The Trigger.net.

Today I find myself updating less and less frequently. Multiple unfinished drafts glare at me, pending, but never quite seem perfect. Years ago I wouldn’t have had a problem posting them. I must have grown, evolved, improved; became cynical, pessimistic, unenthusiastic. Maybe I’m waiting for some cosmic signal to risk everything for this hobby of mine, something I used to consider a passion. But what does passion mean anyway?


The Mad Trapper

Briefs of Fiction, October 31, 2010 at 06h00

A rifle gets cold when it hasn’t been shot, so cold it freezes to your bare hands when you’re trudging through knee-deep snow falling so thick you can’t see right in front of you. There’s tracks on the ground, and they’re not a man’s tracks, but they’re the only things to follow.

Thick fur coats, blankets, tents, food, fire; who could survive here without these things?

Someone says he must have died somewhere far behind, someone else says no, his body would’ve been found, someone else says to keep moving, it’s too cold to stop unless it’s to make camp. They say he killed two Mounties, they say he’s got to be caught.

He’s not a man, he’s the Mad Trapper of Rat River, a ghost. Can’t be caught. Hard to believe ’til you’re after him.

There’s new tracks now, a man’s, from the caribou tracks to the trees. That’s how he’s been hiding, that’s where he is now. Who knows how long ago, his footprints are almost snowed over. A few hours, maybe, but they’re deep and they’re straight, so he’s not tired. He’s running. Seventy-two miles, he’s still not tired.

The ghost goes to a canyon. The trees are thick, and it’s too dark to see anything but the tracks leading down there. Someone says to set up camp at the top, there’s mountains surrounding him, he can’t go nowhere without coming back this way. A storm hits. It’s gonna be bad.

Even with a fire, it’s the coldest night in months. Nobody knows how he’s staying warm or what he’s been eating. How’s a man on the run find time to hunt, to dry his clothes, to build a new shelter each night?

A rifle is fired, it wakes everyone up, it kills the man on watch. Somewhere down in the shadows, the Mad Trapper is fired upon, and at the top of the ridge, given away by the campfire, two more Mounties die.

In the daylight, his tracks go from the top of the ridge, down through the trees, to the face of the mountain. There they stopped, nowhere to go. The ghost either vanished or the man climbed up, at night, during a blizzard, rifle in hand.

Everyone says he’s a ghost.


Thank You, Greg Capullo

Crime of Life, October 23, 2010 at 12h52

In eighth grade, I was introduced to Spawn and became an immediate fan of its longtime artist Greg Capullo. One day I sent him some character sketches I’d created for my own comic and I asked him to draw a cover for it. If he drew my cover, I added, my friends would definitely buy it.

Two weeks later I got an oversized envelope in the mail. Inside was a completely penciled and inked drawing of my characters Traveler and Shakkle. I was speechless; how many artists would do something so generous?

Soon, the drawing had an effect that I hadn’t anticipated. With such an incredible cover, my comic had a whole lot to live up to. A cover like this warranted a comic I couldn’t deliver. And with that, the project ended. Traveler and Shakkle stayed up on my wall, adored, and I stopped taking comics seriously. I created a silly little series called Stick-Man: The Psycho Hero, a comic of limited quality that took only days to create.

Years later, I decided that Greg’s drawing had been done under false pretenses. I felt guiltier and guiltier until one day I sent him a copy of Stick-Man with a note to explain what had happened. That his talent somehow made me lose interest in comics altogether. I didn’t understand then that there will always be someone better than you at what you love to do. What’s important is to keep doing what you love.


A Curious Example of Corporate Restrictions

My Regular Mind, September 26, 2010 at 05h47

Years ago, the corporation I work for centralized our Internet access so that it ran through its head office in the States. They didn’t notify us of this change, not that they necessarily had to, but I only realized this after noticing my external IP address was located in Illinois. At first this didn’t affect me at all, but after a while they started restricting some web access. Again, I can’t emphasize enough that this is entirely within their rights to do, but lately it seems a little absurd.

The first sites to go were the obvious social media sites (like Facebook and MySpace) and adult content sites (like 99% of the rest of the Internet). Then they started expanding the restrictions to include streaming media (goodbye Youtube, goodbye radio), then gaming sites (including educational games, which were great fun on lunch breaks), then any sites that include certain keywords, until now it seems like its more of a question of which sites aren’t blocked.

It wasn’t until I tried researching how to donate my hair to cancer patients that I realized the extent of this absurdity. It’s funny that ‘Donating Hair For Cancer Victims’ is blocked because of its malicious reputation.

Sure makes me wonder.


Reflections in the Water

Storytime, September 14, 2010 at 11h20

This is a short story I hurriedly wrote three years ago in San Diego, inspired by a billboard I saw on my way back to the hotel. Included here is its submitted form to a recent writing contest. I haven’t posted in so long, please enjoy this.

I was thirty-six years old when my wife died. Thirty-six, to the day. We met at sixteen, dated at nineteen, and married at twenty. I didn’t realize how impulsive I was until I met her. I proposed to her right here on this bridge, just all of a sudden one night. She took ten breaths, didn’t even move. It scared me to pieces. But then she smiled. Said yes. And I thought I would be happy forever. But tonight, and last night, and every night since she died, I wasn’t. Forever ended thirty years ago.

I stood on the bridge, hands deep in my pockets. Trying to ignore the cold was like trying to stop breathing. Not even my heavy coat could keep me warm. I had been there for hours and I worried that I was too late.

There were footsteps in the distance. They were quiet and nervous. It was her. She moved exactly like she spoke.

She took her time getting to the middle of the bridge, rested on the railing and stared into the darkness below. We stood a stranger’s pace apart and I couldn’t bear to look at her. She was so young, I had no idea what to say. Every word had to be perfect.

“I know who you are. I know why you’re here. Please, don’t do it.”
Continued…


Straggler

Briefs of Fiction, August 30, 2010 at 10h41

Onada crept towards the garden in silence. Fallen branches bent under his step, but did not break. This forest knew him, and it would never give him away.

He paused at the edge of the clearing. Hundreds of leaflets littered his crops. There had been an airplane the day before, but Onada couldn’t tell if it was Japanese. He hoped it was, hoped that his commanding officer had come to relieve him. But of course it was not, orders were not dropped from passing airplanes. They were given in person, face to face. They were accepted reluctantly and obeyed completely.

Onada retrieved a leaflet and retreated back to the forest. It wasn’t safe out in the open, in the garden that he came to only when he must. If it were too well cared for, the enemy would know he was alive, so he let most of the crops wither, even when he was hungry.

The leaflet read: LIEUTENANT HIROU ONADA, THE WAR IS OVER. JAPAN HAS SURRENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES.

Did the Americans think he was a fool? That such an obvious trick would coax him out to be captured? His name was misspelled, his rank was incomplete! Such poor forgery! No protector of Japan would ever accept such shame as surrender! Never would the mighty Empire of Japan fall!

Onada remained vigilant. Here, on this island, to this soldier alone, the war raged on for thirty years.


Let It Go

Poems, August 29, 2010 at 03h31

this is Your last chance for doubt, so if You have any left:
LET IT GO.

You don’t need doubt where You’re going, You don’t want it.
it will only make You afraid:

to exist beyond just existing,
to do what You want to do and say what You want to say,
to form Your own beliefs and to believe in them.

doubt will make You afraid to fail,
afraid to succeed,
afraid to even try.

so if You have any doubt,
LET IT GO.
all of it, completely!
be lighter without it,
be the light within You,
and shine everywhere You can,
everywhere You want,
and everywhere!

You are free, You are here!


My New Leopard-Print Zippo Lighter

My Regular Mind, August 24, 2010 at 12h24

Whenever I encounter a particularly unpleasant person I generally assume they’re just having a bad day. It’s getting harder to be naive these days. I saw a girl yesterday drop a lighter, and she didn’t notice so I picked it up and approached her.

“Excuse me,” I said, lighter in hand, ready to complete my Good Deed For The Day.

“I have a boyfriend,” said Miss Derisive, her head spinning around like a demon that could never be properly exorcised.

In the spirit of the stairs, I should have marveled at how delighted that boyfriend must be with such a charming lady as she, but instead I put the leopard-print Zippo lighter in my pocket and walked away. Regretfully, of course, because now she must think she was justified, now her presumptuous bitchiness will continue unimpeded until she loses every last thing in her purse.

So it goes?

I made up for yesterday’s missed Good Deed by starting the day off with a zinger. A construction worker waiting for the bus almost forgot his hard hat on the bench. And properly, he just said thank you.


By Leaps and Bounds (and Plunges)

My Regular Mind, August 16, 2010 at 03h41

I walked to the edge, looked down, knew I wouldn’t, and jumped anyway.

The last time I dove into water was when I was 8, and even then it wasn’t really diving since I always jumped feet-first. This kind of head-first diving was something from the swimming lessons that I didn’t take because of chronic ear infections. Because of these infections, I never learned how to tread water, and only this past year have I gone swimming when I was at the beach. And with growing confidence, now I can dive into a lake from about a meter up! And not just once, but three times, and dozens of times from lower heights! If I keep this up, soon I won’t even need my water wings!

On a completely different note, one of the points I was trying to really get at with my Comicle called “Patriotism is Relative” was my belief that any two people will always be able to find common ground between them. Sure, you may have to use extreme examples — ie, the comic’s punchline — but it’s possible. I’m not a fan of division, and there are so many ways societies divide themselves, as seen with politics, or sports, or food choices. And of course, some division is necessary in order to stimulate discourse and develop new ideas, but it seems to me like when we attack or defend these differences with hostility, we’re just not being productive. So next time you’re about to get into an argument, start by agreeing that you’re both alive, and go from there.


Heaven and Earth

Briefs of Fiction, August 11, 2010 at 12h10

When scientists discovered what came to be known as God, they found the explanation simpler than they imagined. Some argued over the definition of God and questioned if this being fit that definition, but this was irrelevant. When God arrived on Earth — and He did not come alone — it was impossible to question His dominion.

Almost 72 years before His arrival, an outside planet was discovered that we came to call Heaven. Its unusual orbit around our sun was equivalent to 3741 Earth years, and because of its unusual trajectory, it was only visible to us for 218 of those years when it was closest. Its atmosphere was like ours and a race of sentient beings existed there, in many ways similar to us. We called these beings Angels, and among them — an Angel Himself — God was their representative.

Millions of years earlier, colonies were sent to populate our planet. They died almost immediately. However similar Heaven and Earth are, its geological differences were still too drastic for their species. Only their basic DNA structure remained on Earth, and over time, Angels guided its evolution into a similar species that could withstand Earth’s atmosphere and gravity. This, we learned, was the origin of humankind. No longer a marvelously unique and intelligent being in the Universe, but a primitive version of a species far greater than ourselves.

God arrived on Earth violently. Heaven was no longer habitable, its luxury stripped and its beauty polluted. The Angels came to our planet as conquerors, all of them our masters. We built their enormous cities. We built the cages we were kept in. We could not resist them.

And like that, God reined over Earth, our Lord.