Wednesday, March 31, 2004

BSFP: Ed the Aboleth


Blue Skies Falling Personals'
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Thursday, March 25, 2004




~ Connor

Stepping Sideways


The last week or two, I'd been meaning to knock out massive quantities of Urbàntasm, or at least to work on it extensively.

But then I fell upon the series of remeniscences that I outlined below: "rag doll." I've been sucked up (again) in Krynn and the Womwawas Drys.

For some reason, fantasy has always had great allure to me. When I discovered Tolkien, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and others, when I picked up Dungeons and Dragons back then, it felt as if I had been primed for it.

It's strange to me that, with my obsession with industrial cities, I am easily drawn away by breathtaking unearthly mountain reaches, by forest and swamps unmatched on earth. It's strange to me that, given my fixation with unsolvable real-world problems, I'm so easily swayed by the whimsical yet ponderous conventions of fantasy: elves of noble mien, stately warriors, degenerate goblinoid races, corrupting magic and the like...

They, all of them... *all* of them... have the signature "evil" and/or "uncontrollable" magic artifact that must be destroyed/contained.


There are, I suppose, many reasons why I am drawn.

For me, however, the most compelling all have to do with inertia.
Here we live in a world with carefully enforced laws of Physics (yes, this is my "flourish" style).
Regardless of the theories we buy or do not buy into, inertia and the second law of thermodynamics are pretty necessary considerations, along with the equally necessary consideration that, all things told, the universe is a pretty lonely place, with millions of times much more cold and isolation to go around than warmth and companionship.

And it's only getting worse.

Sci. fi doesn't refute this... it augments it.

Fantasy fiction, however, with its equally regimented "laws of physics," it's demoniac world conquerers, its warrior women, its broken oath begatten spectres, its teeming humanoids and lofty immortals, always seems to exist within an implicitly life-centric, creature-centric, sentience-centric universe. In the worst circumstances, we'll be subjected to another decade/century/millennium of Voldemort/Takhisis/Morgoth. Heat Death?! Who ever read a fantasy novel featuring Heat Death?!

And how horrible and bleak and powerful and dark and eternal and *real* Heat Death is held up against the dark god Bane?

I need fantasy.

I need it for that part of me that is immature and childlike and timid and worried.
I need it to forget the horrors everwhere, everywhere, and always.
Sometimes, I need to forget.

As for Urbàntasm: it's more connected to the real.

I neglected it yesterday, yes, and the day before, yes.
So long as I don't neglect it tonight.

~ Connor

Friday, March 19, 2004

Email of Life


My email is fully functional once more.

Write me! Write me! At

~ Connor, the Banal Poet

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Urbàntasm Merchandise?!?!


Some of you have made the unfortunate (as you will see) suggestion of suggesting various alternate approaches to Urbàntasm. In the last year, people have suggested alternate-universe fics, T-shirts, movies, soundtracks, and yes, role-playing games. All of which are very flattering, but paramountly, unfeasible.

Except the T-Shirts.

I am obsessed with T-Shirts. Some of you know this. I love them.
I could be persuaded to make a few Urbàntasm T-Shirts.
Hell, I could almost persuade myself to make a few Urbàntasm T-Shirts.

The question is, would any of you be interested in buying an Urbàntasm T-Shirt?
Would you be willing to pay $18 or $20 for such a T-Shirt?*
If not, would you be interested in buying a Euphemism / Immortality / Thorn Sojourn T-Shirt?

And if you were to get a T-Shirt, what would you like to see on it?
I won't do this democratically; any T-Shirts I will design myself, but I will take suggestions seriously.

Drop a comment, or email me (for now) at
Let me know what you think.**

~ Connor

PS. Flint Pride***


* How do I justify charging so much? Because I am sure I will only sell a dozen at most, I cannot afford to lose money on a venture like this right now, and because I need to compensate somewhat for the little time that will go into it. I promise I won't make any money on this, and if I do, maybe, it will be like $20, which I will then spend on one of my own T-Shirts. This way I can also make non-crappy-ass T-Shirts. This way I can also afford to order T-shirts, even if only 3 or 4 people want them.

** Is this an egotistical vanity side-show to compensate for the fact that I don't have anything published and maybe won't for awhile? Maybe. I won't even argue with such a statement, except to say that after so long working on something, you long to see some tangible fruit of your efforts... even if it's just a dozen T-shirts.

*** Yes. If anyone wants T-Shirts, I will be ordering them from "Flint City T-Shirts" and thus contribute to my hometowns ailing economy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Email of Death


Evidently my email is down and has been for the last several days, meaning... I haven't gotten any emails you've sent in that time, and probably wont!

Until this problem is fixed, please write me at vehiclecitykid@hotmail.ccom

That is all!

~ Connor

Monday, March 15, 2004

My Rag Doll and Me



So I did already write tonight, rally and really and truly, but I've got a small bout of insomnia right now, doubtless resulting from too much caffeine earlier on, and various alarms going off in various peoples' rooms.

It's the accompanying nostalgia that has me down here.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking of times, good times, in the past, and the distance of those moments, and their loss... it is somewhat overwhelming.

I got really into Dungeons and Dragons with my friend Victor when I was nine years old, and we played incessantly until I moved to the suburbs just before my 12th birthday. When I was 10 or so, I was introduced to the Dragonlance saga (mentioned earlier) and read through it 2 or 3 times. It's a good story. It's filled with solid, three-dimensional characters that vibrate with such tenebrous intensity that they seem to be almost radioactive. I am now rereading these books with Jessica, and it is the first time I've touched them in over a decade. In about twelve years, to be honest. And I remember the books, and how I enjoyed them, having to turn the page, to stay awake and read no matter what the consequences.

But just as much, I remember my life at the time I was reading.

So it starts out... I'm laying in bed tonight, March something, 2004, a 25-year-old, going on 26, trying to sleep, and my brain is filled with the soft light, the night light, the yellow light that isn't harsh. There are three lights. One is coming from my grandmother's bathroom. One is coming from the living room where my grandma and brother and sister sit in front of the television. And the last is coming from the soft cooking light above the stove in the kitchen, remodeled one, maybe two years back.

I'm lying on my stomach, in the quiet, long, long after the rest of them have gone to sleep. We are staying at my grandmother's so often because my dad works third shift, because my mom has to go to classes early in the morning or at night or some such thing. And anyway, we enjoy staying at my grandma's. It is something we have always done.

I'm laying on my stomach in the quiet and I can't put this book down. I can't put it down. The whole world of Krynn is at stake. The evil Dragonarmies have marched across Krynn. They have corrupted the forest of Sylvanesti. They have ravaged the old seaport of Tarsis and torched the ancient Valenwood trees of Solace in Abanasinia. Now the companions, split, find themselves on an island in the heart of winter. It's cold, but I can see the wilderness in my minds eye. It is still a trickling green, even through the ice. Southern Ergoth. There is a journey involved. Not a long journey, compartively, in terms of miles. Not even a dangerous army, for they are fleeing their kindred, fleeing the elves, and not dragons or lizardmen. But still; it is very emotional for them. A girl breaks her father's heart. Her brother is falling in love, but the love is doomed to failure. They find a friend they thought was dead. They discover a secret of great hope. All this happens under the aspens, and among the evergreens. The world is sleeping in the ice, but above the hard ground, events happen that will alter the future of these peoples' lives.

This was my own discovery.

I didn't have many friends back then. I knew plenty of people; a dozen kids on the block, some of whom regularly beat me up, kids from church, kids from boy scouts. Most of them are indifferent to me, or actively dislike me. They all think I'm a little odd. Victor is my only close friend.

But the perfect solitude. Perfect because it isn't really solitude... perfect because my brother, my sister, my grandmother are a breath away, they care for me, and they sleep is silence. Perfect because it is the only solitude, and I lay on my stomach on the old, worn green carpet, and read and read as late as I like.

And so tonight I lay awake in bed, wondering about all these things, these vulnerable moment where I was still so undefined, where I could have become what I am today, or something very different. And others emerge.

I remember sneaking from my room in 8th grade past midnight and walking three miles to downtown Flushing to say goodbye to my friend Cole as he went to Washington DC. I remember the heat. I remember my paranoia about being caught. I remember the dogs barking all the way from Coldwater road to the Ponderosa Estates, and wondering where I was or if the police were going to pick me up.

And then my mind strays forward to 9th grade, auditioning for the Renaissance festival, or riding with friends from Burton to Grand Blanc.

It doesn't matter. It's all long over now. I can talk about it, but really, whether or not it leads to sleep is the only important question.

Anyway... it's finals week and I'm at a public computer in a dormatory I do not live in.
Someone's waiting, so I really should be courteous and step aside.

~ Connor

More websites.


In addition to the Urbàntasm and Euphemism websites, I've added several more today.

I added a website for Elysian Theatre, a theater group I started in High School, and participated in from 9th to 11th grade. Paul, who is still one of my best friends, was heavily involved, so you might want to check it out. It's a simple page, really, just an inventory of what we did, when, and with whom.

I also added a website for another writing project, Immortality, though don't expect much to follow on this for quite a while. Still, I'm interested in what you think; what you might glean about the project's nature.

Finally, I've linked to my Harry Potter Fan Fiction, hosted at the Sugarquill. I also have selections hosted at Helen Vader's website (see link above), and, among other places, but only the Sugarquill has the complete and most recently revised archive. (For Mary-Sue and the Bombastic Booty you'll have to go to Fiction Alley, but it's incomplete, and unlikely to be completed).

These new links are also available on the sidebar.

~ Connor

Another Weekend, another weakened.


As you know, I called in sick on Friday.
This weekend wasn't really defined, but it all blended together. I slept for odd increments of time, typed in Jessica's room, and we read Dragonlance together, whether the sun was up or down.
It created a sort of surreal timelessness. I can't decide whether it's felt like a long time or a short.
All I know if I have to go to work in six hours, and I'm more than a little discouraged.

Perhaps I will start looking for a better job again tomorrow.
Perhaps I will find something downtown, or at the university.
I don't know. Perhaps.

~ Connor

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Euphemism Website Up


I've just put up a website for my next major writing project: Euphemism.

I hope you enjoy it!

Any questions, please let me know.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Michigan is considering reinstituting the Death Penalty.


Just as the DP is coming under fire once again.

We're becoming that "Mary, Queen of Scots" state of the midwest.

Still, I'm proud that Michigan abolished its Death Penalty.
I hope it stays that way.

No Death Penalty and Aluminum Can Recycling: MI's contribution to a better world.


~ Connor

McKinley Park. Hoyne Park. Sunset.


As suggested by Meridith Halsey.

I love my apartment.
I love my neighborhood of McKinley Park.

It's right next to bustling, brawling, Bridgeport, all Irish and Italian and Mexican and Chinese. Bridgeport with shuttered Halstead storefronts that frown east and west with a stiff upper lip, saying, "What, what of it?" Bridgeport with its swaggering politicians, its green lawns and shady alleys (and shady actions in the back of shady blind alleys). Bridgeport with its 11th ward Democratic Headquarters, its Schaller's Pump, its "The Bridgeport."

McKinley Park is more discrete.
It's clearly a relation to Bridgeport, probably a brother, possibly even the younger brother (whereas Canaryville would be the younger half-sister, and Back of the Yards, the saucy, sauntering mother).
Bridgeport smells like smoke and saltpetre (Canaryville pork, Back of the Yards, heavy steam). McKinley Park smells like cookies baking.
Despite the rattiness of the laundromat, the tiredness of the old men in leather pants, the women wearing babushkas, they all smile wearily if I look at them.
The New Archview always refills my cup, almost as if I'm back in Flint. Huck Finns, the younger, the edgier, the vaguely aspiring hipsterish, is much less friendly, more filled with frowns. But they still refill my cup.

My second night in McKinley Park, a cat got run over out on Archview. It made a noise that for one fraction of a second, sounded like a ragged, fleshy siren, sounding a bombing over downtown. It rang out and wound down in one motion, and was over before I knew what it was.
I knew as soon as I looked out the window. I averted my eyes as I crossed the street the next morning. By the time I returned in the evening, a day's worth of traffic had carried away the broken bits of skull and flesh, and only a small gray patch remained.

I'm across the street from an Orange Line El stop. And all night long, I hear the coming and going of semis and trailers, of buses and trains, and the El, which intones loudly: "This is 35th and Archer. Doors open on the left at 35th and Archer. Doors closing."

Walking along Archer, if I looked to the sides I see houses and gas stations, and the condos built east of Damen now in an attempt to gentrify the area. The El runs behind these, and reveals a different sight: to the south, piles and rows of rusted, ruined cars, in one... no, two... wait, three. Three or four scrap yards.

And if I look out of the El windows to the north, we pass houses, schools, and a park. Hoyne Park. The park is half cared for. The lawn is mowed. There are scraps of plastic stuck in the tree branches. The pitcher's mound on the sandlot is torn up. When the rain falls, the grass irradiates green green glow. But the houses cluster close, side by side, across the lane-and-a-half wide Hoyne avenue, bounded on the north by the lane-and-a-half wide 34th street. On 34th street, a garage intrudes on the park, but that's all right; it's empty, and nobody uses it anymore. The park is rendered triangular on the south by the El tracks from which I watch.

Boys play basketball in this park in the evening.
In the morning, I see women pushing strollers along the sidewalk.

It is a very private public space, and is possibly my favorite part of McKinley Park.
In the springtime, when I can sit outside without seeing my breath, I'll take my thermos of coffee to Hoyne park, and sit and write as the sun goes down, making me blind, and painting McKinley Park shades of gold usually reserved for loftier neighborhoods.

~ Connor

Day Off!


I feel like I'm back in 11th grade skipping school.
I decided to call in sick today.
Well, I am sick... I have a runny nose and it's making my throat raw and sore.

As always when I do this, I get a bit of an upset stomach; from the lost money, mainly, also from anxiety that my coworkers will be irritated and whatnot, but things are so filled. There is so much stress. Sometimes, I have to do this. I haven't broken this 9-5 M-F schedule in almost 3 months.

And yet, there is this pressure to make the time count, to put it down as an investment, to extract from it.


On Tuesday, I went to help my friend Xana on her BA project.
Xana acted as Grusha in the 2001 production of the Caucasion Chalk Circle that I directed at the U of C. Since then, she's been in South Africa and San Francisco, and has taken a bunch of courses in Performance Art.

I am seeing her performance later tonight. I am looking forward to it.

I told her, it reminded me of a very compelling, live music video. From some people this might have come a criticism, but I'm actually quite impressed as I say this.

I have to write letters.
I have to continue on Urbantasm... I'm in the midst of redrafting chapter 133. When that's done, only 379 to go...
I'm listening to a song that borrows many words from my favorite Irish folk song: "Cask of Brandy."
I'm listening to the Clancy Brothers.

Last Tuesday, I went to a Scav Hunt meeting, and there was tender excitement, so raised voices, some argument. It's all fine. It's always this way at this time of year. By May we'll be so caught up in the day-to-day, there'll be no room for hunting ideology. Which is, incidentally, a bigger beast among us than you might guess.

On Wednesday, Jess and I celebrated our four years together.
Yes... as of last Wednesday, we have been together FOUR YEARS! I've been with Jessica now longer than I've was in high school... longer than I was in college. Sparks spectacular, fireworks, fireflies and pavement, hot tea and hot chocolate and root beer floats, "Rebel Without A Cause," more root beer, used CDs, birthdays, wind chimes, dishes washed and meals readied, the counter top polished, or smoke rising from the grill. Yes... and that's about all I'm going to say about that.

I love her always, of course. I love her.

I'm listening to a song: "March Medley: Boys from the County Cork."

I must continue, or I'll lose the leverege from this day I've taken off.

~ Connor

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Granada Last Night

As requested by Elisabeth.

"You're just too beautiful for words..."

Something that peeves me: not stereotypes so much as the vengeance with which they are applied.

I rap.

Or more specifically, I freestyle.

I was 20 when I started. Most kids start when they're 8, 10 years old. Rap is like a musical instrument; it's difficult to be good at it, unless you get an early start. That is a handicap for me. I'm not very good.

I probably do it for an hour or two each week, but most kids do it all day long. I'm not very good.

Most tellingly, though, few of my friends are willing to rap with me. My Chicago friends, while well-meaning, usually make half-joking comments about how I'm transparently white and wear T-shirts. Unless I convince some drunk kid at a party to go head-to-head, I never get to practice on humans. I rap in my apartment at night, to the Digital Underground. I'm not very good, and because I'm not very good, I'm intimidated by those who are, and tend to steer clear.

And for this reason, I never get around to saying anything relevant. It's always a creative "you suck," and maybe if I'm feeling particularly able and awake, something about the beauty of the rain against Archer Ave., but nothing particularly special or unique.

There is a song, Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Granada Last Night, by the Coup (I challenge anyone who seriously doubts the musical merit of rap to listen to this song really closely. You can find the lyrics easily online, but to get it you have to actually listen to it). Essentially, the "character" picks up his mother's ex-pimp and murderer from jail, as a student and protege, but takes the man out into the middle of nowhere with predictable results.

That's the story the song tells. It does no justice to what the song "says."
Even the old mysoginists passed laws that "a man cannot beat his wife with a stick any larger than the diameter of his thumb." Centuries later we can still legitimately rap about women being beaten to death with padlocks. Well, then. How sad. And revolting. My stomach and heart have just taken a simple step sideways. And rage.


Speaking of rage, the Flint School District is not Leaving any Children Behind today by responding to $20 million in debt and the loss of federal funding by closing half of their schools and continuing layoffs... the city contemplates a casino, they're so sick and desperate and delusional they're willing to totally overlook reality... the state's concerned about financial viability while they turn down a check for $20 million from our rich mayer, while the rich mayor will deny the city $20 million if he doesn't get immediate control... They all know they'll have to settle for a shattered ghetto no matter what they do, so of course they'll choose delusion with the possibility of a perfect home... WHAT THE FUCK DO WE EXPECT?! Meanwhile, I'm two years out of one of the best colleges in one of the wealthiest countries with a BA that cost a cumulative total of $130,000, and I can't take AT&T up on their offer for they're low rate long-distance plan, because I can't afford anything more than local service, much less dental or medical coverage, much less the barest insurance, and some months barely the rent... WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS?!

I wouldn't describe "the Coup" as being "good" at rap.
They're transcendent. They're "intolerable geniuses," and if they're ever played, they'll make a major difference (which is, incidentally, why they're intolerable, and why they're not played.)
Somehow, through their lyrics, they've become powerful writers.

I write.
Writing is the most powerful vehicle available to me for the fusion of my voice with my rage.
And still...

And still I would like to not having to say "I'm not very good" at rap.
I care about this.
I learn from this.
I want to, at least, freestyle competently.
I want to rap, at least, about what matters in my life and in the world, and not about how my drunken fellow-adventurer is such a lousy rapper, even though we both know that we both basically suck.
I want to turn direct against those vengeful stereotypes, with my Esham and Outkast in one hand, and my Lush and Smashing Pumpkins in the other, and say, "This I am trying to understand, and express. What is so wrong with you that you have to attack me? How are you trying to understand?"

I will rap with anyone who wants to take me up on the offer.

~ Connor

Friday, March 05, 2004

Help me with my Blog!


It hasn't archived one darn thing!
I told it to archive twice a month.
How do I fix that?

These days... Part 3


On Sunday, Jess and I went for a Subway picnic on Promontory Point, followed by church and role-playing. Revelatory dreams and all...

This past week, I've finally finished the *big* three chapters or Urbàntasm I've been working on forever, and planning for scav hunt continues.

All else is quiet...

~ Connor

These days... Part 2


Last weekend was rather odd...

On Friday I was very tired from working on Urbàntasm the night before, but hopped the bus to the United Center, to see my first NHL game featuring the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Sad to say, this performance from the two worst teams in the NHL was less than inspiring, excepting the laser light show that kicked it all off. There did seem to be some energy during the first half of the third period (not that I know anything about Hockey... I'm going by how fast the puck moved, how often the players intercepted it, and the number of fights), but it quickly crumbled.
I was rooting for the Blackhawks, but placed a bet on Columbus nonetheless, and walked away a quarter richer.

On Saturday, I went to see Gemma's production of Under Milkwood featuring a number of friends. I was doubtful, not because I wonder at Gemma's talent in any way, or that of her actors, but with time and experience so limited, I doubted such an abstract and dense text could be brought together. It was. It was... extraordinary. One of the riskiest and best (often mutually inclusive, I know) student performances I've ever seen.
If you want me to write more on this I will... let me know.
And it gave me the occasion to say "That onstage masturbation was very tastefully done," something I doubted I would ever need to say.

The performance was followed by a huge fight featuring me and several others, and which lasted in some form until 6 AM. I'll avoid details, as feeling are still pretty tender, but I have to mention it since it was the defining event of the weekend and, well, it really curdled my yoy! But it's over now, and all is well...

On to Sunday.

These days... Part 1


It's been awhile since I've posted anything substantial.

On Fat Tuesday, I worked on Urbàntasm in the evening, then went drinking at Jimmy's. Phase Nine of Debauchery (where one through eight went is anyone's guess).
Quite a crowd showed up:
Jess was there, of course, and Matt (who's running for the Maine State Legislature on the Green ticket), and Laura (who roleplays with us). We were later joined by Joe, Kaury, Dan, and Ben... scav. hunt judges, who had been there the whole time, but whom we had missed, because they were in another room. And Gemma, and Sarah, who were working on their Dylan Thomas play Under Milkwood.
There were other people too, but I can't remember well, because it was 10 days ago, and there were three pitchers and shots of Wild Turkey involved.

On Ash Wednesday, I went to church at St. Maurice, which is only a five-minute walk from my apartment. It was my first time there, and very strange. The church was absolutely packed, crowded with huge families, standing room only. Boys and girls were punching their parents, crunching Doritos, and reading comic books. The priest delivered a beautiful and beautifully succinct homily that broke down to, "On Ash Wednesday you are recognized as a Christian because you wear ashes. For the rest of the year are you recognized as a Christian because of your behavior?"
At which point, everyone stood, received ashes, and went home. Most of the congregation didn't even stay for communion.

Not to be grumpy about it, because I often dress informally, in jeans and T-shirt at church, and am occasionally late, but doesn't going for ashes and not the message defeat the whole purpose. I had always understood it as the one will heighten the other.

More soon...