Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brief thought

When I was younger, I supposed "heartache" to be a purely metaphorical word. Today, I find it boringly literal.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On the portrayal of men in commercials

Originally posted this on Metafilter.

"Based solely on American TV advertising, I have elected to never have children; it is clear that, as a father, I cannot ever possibly be competent to raise my own children, and so to attempt to do so seems like folly. I obviously am too inept to prepare even the simplest meals for them. I cannot put a load of laundry into the washer correctly; I will not remember their hobbies and I cannot comfort them when they are hurt. I have no hopes of even loading the dishwasher without some great disaster intervening. I can only ever be a burden on my wife, and add to her workload tremendously. This seems a poor way to live, so I will not inflict it on a woman I otherwise care about, and will not so damage children I might love, but can obviously never actually raise. Because I am a man."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A system

I have a solution to the global warming crisis:

Trees absorb carbon, right? And other plants.

We're going to plant billions and trillions of trees, all over the entire fucking country, every spare inch. But, you ask, how can you feed all those trees? What will make them grow and prosper?


We're going to extend this campaign indefinitely... and fertilize them with John McCain's bullshit.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well, that was a nice idea...

Okay, granted, I have a website called And I hand out contact cards that say "words and pictures." At the moment, however, my creative energies are largely directed at photography; I'm keeping this blog around for the future, when I return in force to writing. Till then, go lookit the pritty pickshurs.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Let's be honest, haiku is really not suited for English

Park across the street:
new cherry blossoms emerge
under flat gray skies.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


God dammit, I made it here, didn't I? Don't I deserve something?

Yes. Perhaps you do. What do you want?

Only what I came here for. I just want to know my destiny.

Your... destiny?

Yes. My destiny. My fate. What lies before me. I need to know.

We see. We will grant you this. Close your eyes, and you will see your future.

Thank you... well? I'm waiting. My eyes are shut, but I don't see anything at all.


---from My Lessons in Dust, by Amber Bohn

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The True Tale of Khun-Al-Bagara

(Another post in the ongoing series of things I wrote in the past and that I'm now bringing together. I wrote this years ago - freshman year of college, I think. Definitely lots of things I'd change if I were rewriting it, but for now I'll just post it as it is)

If you would quiet yourself, child, I would tell you the Tale of Khun-Al-Bagara, the City of Empty Wonders.

Good. Much better. Now then – this is not, you must understand, a mere invented story that I am about to tell you. This is one of the True Tales that Yuush spoke at the dawn of the world. I am not Yuush, and my telling of it will be but a pale shadow of his, but that does not change the essential Truth of the thing. Listen closely, child. This is not a story to be ignored.

As for the tale itself…

Imagine, if you will, a place that we shall call a city. It is not truly a city, you understand – to call Khun-Al-Bagara a city is to call the Sun’s skin warm, to call the ocean damp, to call the stars several. But we have no better word than “city” to describe it, so that must suffice.
It is a city whose gates are the twin Pillars of Joy that Adrian Messerschmitt designed for Berlin’s celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. It is a city at whose center rises the Tower of Bav-El, whose height is such that it scrapes the heavens themselves. In this city’s museums, you will find da Vinci’s great airship, the original draft of Einstein’s Grand Unified Theory, and Hotohori’s Rosepetal Stanzas. It is a city whose walls are blessed by the greatest paintings of Picasso and Johnansen, a city whose plazas are adorned by sculptures of unsurpassed beauty. One, Michelangelo’s The Dreaming Girl, is so utterly resplendent that it has been known to break into a thousand pieces the hearts of those who gaze upon it. It is a city that possesses few hospitals, for its denizens were kept hale by the power of the Metavaccine. Its streets are lit by the power of the Transinfinite Dream Engine, which can hurl a starship from Earth to Sirius if fuelled by a single laugh. Overarching it all is the glory of the Temple of Mankind, that soaring triumph of arches and spires, singing its exultant hymns with every curve and color.

You must understand, dear child, I use no poetry here. You may scoff at the idea of art that literally breaks the heart of those who gaze upon it. You may sneer when I say that the Tower of Bav-El actually did rise to the vault of Heaven. You might laugh at the suggestion that the metal bridges and minarets of the Temple of Mankind truly do call out arias of praise to humanity. You may not believe me when I say that all this is truth, and not merely a turn of phrase. But that is because all those wonders as great and glorious as that are unknown to you; they have been stolen from the world, and grace instead the streets and courtyards of Khun-Al-Bagara.

How can that be, you ask? Sit still, child, and I will tell you.

Long ago, the sullen things that would one day inhabit Khun-Al-Bagara lived upon the Earth alongside humanity. Or perhaps they were themselves human – but if they were, they certainly are no longer. They could not create – or, more likely, refused to. Their jealousy of the glories of mankind grew with each passing day, and their envies of human art and techniques knew no bounds. One day, they saw that a man had created an art by which things might be brought outside the world, and they whispered and plotted amongst themselves. They tricked the art out of its inventor, and used it to remove themselves and their dark, hollow city from the world. The technique was so puissant, so potent, that it did not merely take them outside the world – also ripped from the Earth was the memory that they had ever existed, and every proof of their being. It was as though they had never arisen at all.

Then they committed the first of the mighty thieveries that were to come. They twisted that arcane technique upon itself, and ripped it out of the world, and brought it to Khun-Al-Bagara, their city outside the world. The man who did, would have, should have invented that mighty art, instead only vaguely recalled that he had once had an idea. And then the gray and empty folk of Khun-Al-Bagara began to plunder humanity…

The magnificent watercolors that adorn the walls of the mansions in Khun-Al-Bagara, and the clean and graceful lines of their buildings, at once delicate and strong, do you see them? They were the work and the art of a great man. But his talent was ripped away by the folk of Khun-Al-Bagara, and he was left with only a scrap of his talent and a heart filled with bitterness, and millions would die before that damaged soul was ended.

Bav-El! Bav-El! Once it was the capital of the greatest empire the Earth ever knew, a kingdom of justice and a nation of peace that spanned the globe. But the folk of Khun-Al-Bagara could not abide this, and the city-tower where the Senate of Bav-El met was torn away from the Earth. It is a great testament to the glory of that empire and its tower that we remember its name at all.

The Metavaccine was so utterly taken from us that its creation is no longer even possible; Pasteur may be remembered, but merely as a great scientist, and not as the savior of all humanity. How many have died because of the greediness of Khun-Al-Bagara? We can only dream of the numbers. Einstein’s Grand Unified Theory, that flawless work that once and for all unified all science into a single perfect equation, no longer exists here. It can be found only in the guilty prize-rooms of Khun-Al-Bagara. When the Pillars of Joy were snatched out of our world, they left behind a sickened shadow of themselves – a cruel and brutal wall that shattered the lives of thousands. On the streets of Beijing you will find a girl with empty eyes, who should have become a student of art, and one day the creator of that glorious Temple of Humanity that would have been remembered for all the days that men and women walk the galaxies. But the greedy ones that inhabit Khun-Al-Bagara cut her work away from her, and so she was born with an empty soul and a useless mind and a glimmer of the pain of what she lost, and it will be a mercy when she dies.

And as for the Engine! The Transinfinite Dream Engine was the greatest work of humanity for ten million years. Its invention marked the beginning of our finest hour, a golden age that lasted for as many years as there are stars in the sky. The world was all but united, then, and the two great nations of the Earth raced with each other playfully, almost flirtatiously, to fill the stars with humanity. Even the starlanes themselves, the gossamer paths traced by those opal-winged craft, were art; their beauty almost unsurpassed. No man need hungered, and no woman knew sickness, and no child had wants unfilled. The joy of all mankind drove the Engines, and any material thing ever desired could be had before it was even thought of.

But then came the hollow sullen greedy hands of the folk of Khun-Al-Bagara, and the power and glory of the Transinfinite Dream Engine was torn from the world. The great civilizations that spread between the galaxies were vanished in the blink of an eye, and that magnificent dance of exploration and habitation was reduced to a cold-hearted militaristic squabbling between a pair of angry giants that came within a hair’s breadth of destroying all mankind. And yet all the happiness and celebration to be had in Khun-Al-Bagara barely sufficed to power the Engine enough to give a pale glow over the streets of that hollow city. Weep, child. Weep for the loss, and the crime. Or need you weep? Perhaps not. Listen on, child, and hear of the Fall of Khun-Al-Bagara – for Fall it shall.

Even with the theft of the Temple and the loss of the Engines and the plunder of the Theory, humanity’s greatest work was still left to us. Our mightiest accomplishment was a perfect synthesis of all things human; an artificial man, one who walked, danced, sang, loved, and did all that a man might do, but perfectly. This was no mere shell, you must understand, no simple machine, but truly human. And then the greedy shapes that stalk in Khun-Al-Bagara truly erred, and the mistake cost them everything.

Beholding this glorious work, they grew jealous, as they inevitably do. And they worked their undeserved art, and that joyous accomplishment they stole away to their city of stolen wonders. But he was not merely a creation of humanity – he was himself human. It did not take long for him to realize the magnitude of the crime that had been inflicted upon his people, and his wrath grew to heights never before dreamed of in that city of sullen thieves. He found within one of its museums the sword called the Dream of Nine Ravens, which is so perfectly balanced that it cannot be wielded poorly. Locked away in a hidden vault he found the shield known once as the Persean Aegis, which is so finely mirrored that it reflects the soul of those who gaze upon it. I hardly need speak of what came next, although I must admit that I wonder, on occasion – was it the blade that ended them, or the shield?

In the end, it matters little. Today, the streets of Khun-Al-Bagara are empty, and its courtyards grow dusty, and there is but a single life in that city outside the world. No joy exists to light the walkways or the bridges. There is only the silhouette of a man, who stands at the tallest peak of the Temple of Mankind, and gazes out at the world. There he awaits the day – it could come tomorrow, if we so chose – when all the thousand stolen glories of Khun-Al-Bagara are pale and ugly beside the world’s majesties that are wrought of human hands. And on that day – it could never come, if we so chose – he will work that ancient and stolen art upon himself, that technique made to remove things from the world. Where it will take him he knows not, but his destination matters little, I think. And on that day, the City of Hollow Wonders will lie empty, and it will one day be forgotten, as is only right.


First in a (short) series of posts where I'll be posting content here I've written elsewhere, in an effort to put all my wordage in one place.

"What," I asked eagerly, "Is Good? What is truly the antithesis of Evil?" My companion thought for a bit, then responded - "Buying ice cream for a little girl." I brightened. "Ah! So Good is found in acts of selflessness and - " My companion shook his head. "No, no, not that. Just ice cream for little girls. Nothing else."

--- From Curious Journeys, by Kellydoc Tabaddon

My nemesis stood between myself and the door I sought. I changed into a wave to flow past him, but he possessed the Egg of Opposition and so became a wall that blocked me. I turned to soaring flame; he countered with freezing water. I transformed to Life and he mocked me with Death. I donned the form of Love, and he stopped me with Hate. I could not get by him to reach the portal. So I became him, and he became me, and I turned around and walked through the door.

--- From Walking Roads, by Amber Bohn

"I thought... that Rose... was just your name," he gasped, as her thorns ripped him apart. The girl's brow furrowed in confusion. "My name?" she asked. "What's a 'name'?"

--- From Curious Journeys, by Kellydoc Tabaddon

"Actually," Tom explained patiently, "There once was a god of Reason. But he quickly became an atheist, and that was the end of that."

--- From Why the Dragon Cried, by Amber Bohn

He was a being of unimaginable fury and power, the Lord of the whole of the Earth, Entropy incarnate, a tyrant whose wrath was feared above death. He decreed that love was a weakness and a lie, and thus forbidden. So of course I had to seduce him.

--- From Three Days and a Night, by Jassifer Yeh

"You are not a man," he sneered as he stood atop my chest. "You are lowly and honorless, and your soul crawls in the dust. You are a snake."

He was right, of course, so I bit him and let my venom do its work.
--- From Lessons Learned, by Jeffrey Hollingsworth

For three days they argued over whether Love truly conquers all or whether Death is the greatest absolute. It is said that the Walker of Roads listened to them for an hour, then seized a comely young maid from the crowd of onlookers. He laid his lips upon hers in a kiss the likes of which have shattered mountains; saved and slain empires; humbled gods. Then he held the kiss and held it longer until the girl fell to the ground, suffocated. It is said that the crowd then began to laugh, and that to this day, neither of the debaters has realized that they laugh at him.

--- From Walking Roads, by Amber Bohn

Many men write of things that could have been or might be, but I sneer at their incomplete understanding of the possible. I write of things that could have been using pens that might exist, scribbled onto paper that would have been. I speak of possible cities, describing them with words that are themselves only a figment of probability. I describe hypothetical women with adjectives so ephemeral that reality refuses to fully admit them, words taken from languages that may or may not exist. The purity of possibility must remain inviolate.
--- From The Codex of Shattered Dreams, author unknown

Arthur's words came slowly and calmly at first, then with increasing rapidity and fury. "I came here for Excalibur, the sword given to me by the Lady of the Lake. What the hell - " he demanded of the elfin-featured woman who stood at his side, "is that?" He jabbed his finger accusingly at the object on the slim white pedestal before him.

The woman spoke softly. "Four hundred years ago, its form changed to that of a fountain pen, for that shape had become mightiest. Now its appearance is altered once more - but make no mistake, Pendragon. Its power is not lessened - if anything, its puissance has increased since you wielded it last."

Arthur blanched. "I am Arthur Paendrag, son of Uther Paendrag, rightful King of England and Lord of Camelot!" he snapped. "I am not riding to war against Morgaine the Dark with a bloody keyboard in my scabbard!"

--- From Why the Dragon Cried, by Amber Bohn

He ran down the hill towards us. His eyes were like rubies; his blade was like a shard of frozen flame; his arms were strong as oak trees and his legs fast as lightning. This, then, must be the foe my mistress was sworn to slay - the Similar Man.

--- From the Thought-Record of Carter Dubois

We cut him open - slit his skin with the sharpest knife we had, but no vital fluid spilt out. We peered inside and found that a solid mass of conviction filled his whole body. Opinions served him where organs might be found; beliefs rather than bones gave his body structure; ideology swam through his veins in place of blood. Jassifer gave a rare smile. "Well," she said, "That explains one hell of a lot."

--- From the Thought-Record of Carter Dubois

They laughed in my face and told me to return only when I could bring them a pizza with Everything on it. They were speaking literally, of course, and I suppose they think I'm still on the job. But once you've got a pizza like that, how can you not take a bite? And once you've taken a bite of a pizza like that, how can you not eat the whole thing?

---From Lessons Learned, by Jeffrey Hollingsworth

Kendall gestured broadly at the heaping table. "Tonight, my love, we shall feast on boiled physics, communism on a bed of rice, and heroism au gratin. For drink I have procured an excellent '78 vintage of wit."

My mouth dropped open. "That... that can't be possible!" I sputtered.

Kendall seemed confused by this. "Well, no, it isn't. Possibility is usually considered more of a breakfast than an entree."

--- From Three Days and a Night, by Jassifer Yeh

The first generation of portable CD players was notoriously unreliable. Many companies sought to address the issue with advanced engineering, but most of these experimental models proved to be extremely aggressive and territorial. By the early '90s, most corporations admitted defeat and returned to more traditional breeding methods.

--- From Thrashing Dragon: The Japanese Economy in the Late Twentieth Century, by Hiroko Heideki

I don't regret summoning Death. I don't regret imprisoning him within a prism of seven sides. I don't regret talking to him, trying to get to know him. I do, however, regret asking him to tell me a joke. Not because he's unfunny - quite the opposite, in fact. I mean, I did laugh myself to... well, death. I suppose, in hindsight, I should have seen it coming.

--- From "The Rising Cost of Afterliving," by Ander Lee

It sits there, on my keychain, between my house key and the one that starts up my '93 Corolla. It's not much to look at, mind you, but looks are deceiving. It looks like a simple key for a simple lock, but if you examine its teeth every day, you'll begin to notice that they're moving, twisting. A tiny bit, each day, they shift.

It's become a ritual for me. I wake up in the morning, I shower, I dress, I eat cereal. And then I take the key from my pocket and try it in the lock on the closet in my bedroom. It hasn't gone in yet, but it slides further in every day.

I simply have to be patient. One day the key will fit in all the way, and I'll turn it, and open the door. And I'll reach in, and take the old red shoebox off the top of the shelf, and open it, and let out Hope from it.