Thursday, 27 September 2012

Creativity Excerise 1

A word of note:
The creativity exercises are designed to improve ones ability to write. I don't do them to often, but I'm stuck for ideas at the moment.
How it works:
-I use wikipedia's random article to generate a random object, place (non-geographical) and other (an element which must be included in the story)
-I write a short story using these elements
-Story element and object must be a MAJOR part of the storyline. They can not just be mentioned once


Story Elements:
-Location (non-geographical): Speech House Oaks (A nature reserve in Gloucester)
-Object: Casio DW-5600C (a watch)
-Other: Tribal House Music (Subtype of house music using tribal elements. Think electronic with natural themes)

            And still the beat went on. I danced, surrounded by others like me, lit by the glow of the fire. I moved and swayed and pushed against the bodies around me as we all leapt as one. The crush of bodies was such that a person could barely move and yet we danced all the harder because of it. The stench of sweat, of the human animal, filled the night air, beating back the smells of nature with its heat and energy. People, there eyes crazy and glittering in the firelight, lost in the momentum and beat, slick with sweat and sliding off of one another. People touched me and then were lost as the beat would accelerate and the crowd would scream and leap and swirl. People would stop and grab one another, grind, push there sweat upon one another as the beat slowed and for a moment reminded us of what we are.

            And still the beat went on. Under the trees of Speech House Oaks, lost in the forests of Gloucester, frightening away the creatures who called this world there home. For we had made it our home, with the stamp of our feet and the bringing of fire and the noise of speakers rumbling out through the forest. I glanced up at the DJ, his eyes like emeralds, his shirtless body soaked in sweat, feathers swinging from his hair, as he played the beat. He changed the sounds of the new world, made them seem old, reminded us of the forests and a time when once this was how the world was. A new place, a place without streetlights and disco ball’s and cellphones. He reminded us of a raw world, an old world, a world where all we were was animals. I glanced at my watch. 11:30.

            And still the beat went on. The beat grew faster, and in its frenzy we were reminded of the hunt and in it’s stillness we were reminded of the night. The beat pulled us in, made us what we once were, lit fires in our hearts and heads and made us want to cry to the moon or conquer the sun. A girl grabbed me, her pulse racing so fast you could see the veins throb, the sweat running soaking through her clothing. She pressed up against me, for a moment her heat overpowering, her smell all I could think of. And then she was gone, as the beat took her from me and for a moment I paused, before being swept away again. And as I paused I checked my watch. 12:30

            And still the beat went on. And the music grew more animalistic, and it seemed that the trees themselves leaned in to hear better. The scent of blood grew in the air, faint at first but rising now, accenting the stench of sweat. People shrieked as the danced, screamed and cursed and ground and leapt. The fire leapt higher, its flames battling against the night and we screamed for it, reminded of times when all that kept us safe from the night were those flames. Sweat rolled down my face, stinging me eyes and soaking my shirt. Many other had torn there shirts off, and there bodies glistened, slick with sweat as the danced. I tore mine off as well and threw it on the fire. I glanced down at my watch. Sweat had covered it, making it hard to read. 1 something.

            And still the beat went on. The bodies pressed together, screaming in ecstasy and agony. The smell of blood and sweat, the smell of the human animal, screamed through us with the beat. The music pulled and tugged and we responded. Men, covered in sweat and glistening in the flames and girls giddy with energy, spinning and grinding and struggling in the press. I felt my watch slip off my hand. I paid it no head. Not even when I stepped on it, not even when it cracked as another leapt on it, not even when it shattered and exploded and the tiny numbers blinked one final time.

            And still the beat went on.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Fire in the Night - Part 2

    I got on the bus, past the rather stunned driver, and glanced out at the hippies who were now hurriedly putting their equipment away. I found a seat near the back and watched the hippies climb onto the bus amid the stairs of the passengers and take some seats near the middle of the bus. The bus pulls off, and everyone begins going back to sitting and waiting for their bus stop. I pull out my book and start reading.

    I promptly stop reading when somebody screams. I glance over to see a distraught passenger pointing to a fluid leaking out of one of the hippies backpacks. It is clear that the passenger feels that it is lighter fluid of some kind, and that it is now leaking down the bus. Passengers begin to shriek as the stuff slowly along the floor. Since I’m sitting near the back, I’m out of range of the liquid and watch with mild amusement as it rolls down the bus.

    Now the bus driver clearly can’t see what’s going on and I’m not entirely sure he would do something anyways. So the bus is continuing on while people grab there bags and put them on the seats and inch there feet up to avoid getting kerosene on them. Meanwhile, the hippie is fiddling around in his bag, but I guess he can’t find the leaking bottle under all the clothing he is pulling out. Meanwhile, on another seat a passenger is fidgeting with a lighter.

    Now I’d rather not do the stereotypical thing, but it is hard to one the guy playing with the lighter is wearing an expensive shirt, several chains, and smells of beer. Clearly disillusioned with the transit system and seeing an opportunity to exact some petty revenge, the guy has his lighter out and is trying to light a reciept on fire. Sitting there clicking the thing, which must be nearly out of fuel because he can’t get it to light, he begins to draw the attention of everyone around him. He grins, a little maniacally, as the lighter lights.

    I glance around hurriedly. If the bus bursts into fire there isn’t really a good way off but I’m assuming the bus driver will stop and I’m still a fair distance away from the fluid. Still, escaping a burning bus does not sound like a good night. I glance around hurriedly for a solution. Another passenger screams. Someone begins begging him not to do it. I open my bag and hunt furiously for something to throw. I glance up to see a large man grab the boy from across the aisle. In one hand the boy holds the lighter and in the other a burning reciept.

    I watch, along with the rest of the horrified bus, as the receipt leaves the boys hand, wafts down onto the floor and lands in the fluid. Which promplty extinguishes the fire. We all sit there stunned, including the boy. In the silence of the bus the hippie pulls a water bottle out of his backpack, then looks around at the tableau of horrified faces with confusion. “Sorry about leaking water all over the bus,” he says, “But its just water. Its not like I was leaking the kerosene or anything.”

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Fire in the Night - Part 1

Taking public transit is probably one of the few ways life forces us to interact with people we wouldn’t normally have anything to do with. It’s interesting, in a sense, that really we only interact with people who are similar to ourselves. Most people have jobs where they work with people who also share their interest, or at least there complaints, about the workplace. We tend to have friends who share our interests because honestly what are you going to do with someone who makes soap all day unless you too enjoy making soap. And we also have a tendency to only talk to random strangers when we either need something or there is some obvious icebreaker. In fact, unless you work in customer service, you probably rarely interact with the general public. And if public transit is any indicator, there is probably a good reason for this.

    Now it’s worth thinking about that a little bit before I get into this story. Public transit is sort of a weird place where for a brief moment you are sharing the same terrifying experience as 100 other people at the bus driver takes a corner too sharp and the wheels leave the pavement. You have suddenly become connected to these people, your lives intertwined, and, quite possibly, ended together.

    Anyways, this particular story starts while waiting for the bus. And because nothing interesting ever happens unless the crazy people are awake, this story starts while waiting for the night bus. Now the night busses are interesting in their own right in that there are three sorts of people awake at 2 in the morning waiting for the bus to come. You have your workers, from various offices or janitorial jobs, waiting to go home and sleep. You have your partiers, who are already drunk and may very well puke on any given corner. And finally you have, for lack of a better name, your hippies, the homeless chaps with dreadlocks and backpacking gear who just got thrown out of the hostel or are on there way to whatever couch they are supposed to stay on for the night.

    And then you have me. Now I’m on the night bus because I’m trying to get home from school. Now that isn’t quite as lame as it sounds, I spent my evening with some friends eating sushi and painting pottery. Okay, so maybe its almost as lame as it sounds. But at least it was interesting pottery. So I am standing at the bus stop at 2 in the morning, carrying several small ceramic figurines in my backpack and reading when a trio of hippies wanders up the bus stop. Now its just me and the hippies at the bus stop and I’m trying hard to be inconspicuous because the last thing I feel like doing is trying to make friends at 2 in the morning. In fact, all I feel like doing is sleeping.

    Anyways, the hippies pull out a set of poi balls from one of their bags. If you’ve never heard of a poi ball, it a cloth ball attached to a cord which you twirl around to make patterns. Usually, you have one in each hand and the trick, I suppose, is to not get them tangled up. I’m not entirely sure why it would be so difficult to not get them tangled up, but then most of the people I know who have them just spin them around in circles and concentrate hard on not letting them go. On the other hand, the hippies clearly had some practice with it. A couple of them were spinning two each and throwing them up in the air and catching them or spinning them through an interesting leaping and dancing routine. I was somewhat impressed, bearing in mind that it is 2 in the morning and in all honestly anything to break my boredom would probably have been impressive, and was a little disappointed when they stopped.

    Perhaps unfortunately, they didn’t stop for long. The third member of the group proceeded to light the balls on fire with a lighter in his pocket and the other two became spinning the now flaming balls around and throwing them up in the air and catching them.

    So, just to recap, standing at a bus station, almost black outside, a few weak street lamps, 2 in the morning, balls of fire being spun around rather close. Now, it being 2 in the morning, that magical time when all you really want to do is pass out, I failed to do the intelligent thing, which would be to run away as fast as I could. Instead I stood there and watched as balls of fire twirled around the bus stop. Of course, at this point the next most logical thing happens. The bus comes.

    Now in a sense you sort of have to admire the night bus drivers. Undoubtedly they put up with a lot of crap. When you drive the bus on which all the drunk partiers from all the nightclubs spend an hour trying to get home you probably have a bit more patience than most. And so, when the bus driver pulled up, i think it was the first time he has ever really been surprised after his first week on the route. The passengers on the bus were all staring out the windows at the flaming spectacle beside the bus.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's....Batman? (Part 2)

            Seeing that the conductor planned to grab the thing, I stood up as well, but didn’t react fast enough. The bat lazily wafted around the conductor, who made a mad grab just as the train hit a bump, sending him flying onto the lap of a girl trying to prevent it from flying into her hair. It fluttered over my head and headed up onto the second level of the train car.

            The conductor stood up, brushed himself off and fished his keys out from under the girl he had fallen on. He glanced over the train car once at the passengers trying to recover from what had apparently been a horribly traumatizing experience. From overhead we could hear the screams as the bat fluttered about on the second floor. I frowned and ran up the stairs as the conductor headed in the other direction.

            I got up to the second floor to see the bat fluttering down the aisle searching for an exit from the train. Meanwhile, people swatted ineffectually at it or cowered from the tiny creature. The conductor appeared in the aisle across from me, his coat in his hand as a sort of makeshift net. The bat headed towards him, and, in a stroke of brilliance he tossed the coat at the bat, which dove under it, turned 180 and headed towards me. The cars passengers, already dishevelled from the bats first pass, let out a few more screams. I waved my arms wildly, unsure how I could possible catch it. The bat, clearly on to us by now, turned around and seeing both exits blocked landed on a ladies handbag.

            Now the handbag in question was sitting on an empty seat and its owner froze with fear as the small creature hung from one of the straps. The conductor, his coat retrieved, worked his way up the aisle towards the creature, which regarded him with curiosity. Instead of throwing his jacket he this time quickly wrapped it around the bat, capturing it. Pinning the bat down, he wrapped it in the jacket and picked it up. The few passengers watching applauded, though most of them did little more then peek out from under whatever bags or books they had used to either hide themselves from the bat or protect themselves from there neighbours.

            I went back downstairs and the conductor appeared soon after with a slightly wiggling jacket. He was trying pretty hard not to laugh and looked very dishevelled with his tie and shirt skewed and half tucked in. He grinned as he pulled back the bundle a little bit to reveal to me and my girlfriend the bat, wings firmly pinned. It regarded us with more curiosity then fear and continued to struggle against the jacket. We stood there, in the aisle, watching the bat and waiting for the station, while people retrieved the contents of there purses and apologized to each other for hitting each other with said purses.

            Eventually we came to the station and the conductor ran off the train several yards and released the bat. We watched it lazily flap off towards the nearest tree, where it immediately perched and watched with interest as the train unloaded. I shook my head in disbelief as the conductor got back onto the train. “All in a days work?” I said and he laughed. “Yep,” he said, “Just another day on the west coast express.” He radioed in the control room. “The bat is off the train guys, let’s go.” The radio crackled with the response.  “Off we go then. Good work today batman.”

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

It's a Bird, It's a Train, It's...Batman? (Part 1)

           As a general rule of thumb, riding the train in Vancouver can often lead to small disasters. Unlike the sky train, the train tends to be a lot less reliable, if only because there is a better chance of trees landing on the tracks. Trains break down, or, as on one particularly memorable morning, fail to brake at all. It is unusual, however, for panic to break out on the train. Unlike the busses and sky trains, which tend to be populated by students and blue collar workers, the train tends to be filled with men and women in business suits calmly drinking their five dollar lattes while reading the Georgia Straight. The fact that they are often packed into the aisles and made to sit on the stairs only means they are forced to keep their business like demeanour in trying circumstances. Things like sudden stops to avoid people who don’t understand not to park on the train tracks are really just another minor inconvenience, as is spilling their five dollar latte all over their neighbour.

           Needless to say, it isn’t much of a way for a student to travel unless you feel like being looked down on by anybody you happen to sit beside. On the train I often noticed that the students ended up grouped together at the end of one car, where they could be loud or sleep with the comfort that those around them understood that being loud or sleeping were really the only ways to deal with not being able to afford a five dollar latte. It also helped to be around people sympathetic to the fact that you would really like to get some work done on the tiny table provided as opposed to using it for knitting. 

            But I digress. My girlfriend and I were on our way back from Vancouver after a busy day at work. Often, in order to secure seats on the train, we sat in the aisle near the door, where we were unlikely to get trodden on by people who suddenly felt the need to stumble down the aisle towards the restroom. See, much like taking the bus, when the first people get on the train they all sit one seat away from each other rather then beside each other, because ewww cooties. So when a group of people gets onto the train they are forced to either talk over someone who couldn’t be bothered to sit beside the guy beside him or else stand around awkwardly while there are several empty seats scattered haphazardly throughout the train. We usually opted for stand around awkwardly, because there is nothing worse then having businessmen look at you like dirt because you’re trying to have a conversation through him while he reads the latest market trends on his ipad.

            Anyways, we’re sitting in the middle of the aisle when the conductor comes running past us. Now, since were sitting in the aisle this is a little awkward, and can probably be more accurately described as the conductor tripped over us while we hurried to get out of the way. Clearly something was going down somewhere on the train. The conductor straightened himself up and gave us a look and said “Well, where is it?”
I glanced at my girlfriend. “Where’s what?” I asked.
“The bat” the conductor answered. I glanced at my girlfriend again and shrugged. “I, uh, I haven’t seen a bat” I answered.

            At that moment there was a loud shriek and all three of us looked across the car to see a bat fluttering down the aisle. Now I’ve seen birds trapped in rooms before and they tend to be pretty frantic. A bird in a room does little but take off, aim for windows and smash into walls. A small bird is a frightened creature in an enclosed space and its panic is usually only exemplified by the fact that it is quickly surrounded by several people either running and yelling or trying to catch it. Once you have a small bird in a room the best case is that it finds the open window it came in easily and that it doesn’t crap on anything valuable.

            In contrast to a bird, this bat was doing a rather lazy flutter down the middle of the car, seemingly ignorant of the panic it was causing in its wake. People screamed, covered there heads, or, in extreme cases, tried to hit it with purses. This mostly succeeded in the hitting of other passengers and so the bat was leaving in its wake several angry people covered in makeup supplies, tissues, and feminine hygiene products. A rather large woman, wielding her purse much like I would imagine a Viking wields a great ax, brought her purse down on the bat, which lazily fluttered out of the way. The resulting smack, as she walloped the man beside her in the head, and the large puff of brown powder as her makeup bag exploded added a nice haze to the atmosphere out of which the bat continued unperturbed.

            Now I can only assume that the advantage of echolocation over eyesight was that the bat did not consider the fact that it could see the outside world through the windows. It knew perfectly well that freedom did not lie through those deceptive glass panes and that all it could do was continue through the train. And being used to caves it probably did not find the train and its panicked occupants all that difficult to navigate. With its small stature and lazy flight it was easily fluttering down the car, seemingly oblivious to the chaos and exploded makeup it was leaving in its wake.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Short Tall Tales, A Medium Sized Introduction

Why hello there!

Apparently, in order to get marks in a course I am currently taking I have to write a blog. This seems slightly redundant. I mean, I know I can write and I'm not exactly one of those people who enjoys reporting their own lives. So instead of recording the arbitrary minutiae of everyday life, which you all have to experience anyways and should therefore be able to do yourselves if you want, I instead plan to write:


Well I thought it was a clever pun.

I have always had a bit of a knack for writing short stories and since I have to make 26 blog posts between now and December, this is an excellent motivation to force myself to write some. So here is the plan:

First, all stories will be published in two parts. I will write them, probably on the weekend, and then publish the first half on Wednesday and the second half on Friday. The reason for this is because the stories tend to be much longer then your average blog post, approximately two to three pages of text. I can only count 1 post per day towards the class and so must spread out these long posts. Don't worry, I'll do my best to link the stories together for easy reading.

Second, all stories will be based on true events. While fiction is something that is made up, I like to think that a tall tale is a true story which contains lies or exaggeration. So the stories will not be exactly the same as the real events, but will be based on something which has happened. Usually I end up adding more dialog, a bit more of a sense of panic, and rabbits.

Finally, I have a tendency to write stories the way I would read them out loud. My English teachers theory was that I was born to be a scop, a type of bard who remembered, created and recited stories about past events. Since I write stories in this way I tend to use sarcasm and rhetorical questions in the stories, which is a little strange in writing. When reading the stories, it may help to imagine someone reading them to you. I know that it helps me

 I hope to have the first half of the first story up on Wednesday. Until then hang tight and remember, if in doubt, run and panic until you collapse.