Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Recent Publications

My story "The Impossible Woodrow Chutzpa" finally came out in the Spring 2008 Connecticut Review. Ask and I'll send you a PDF.

And today, my one-act play "Temporary Paralysis" was published by the CULT OF THE DEAD COW -- the first eZine/t-file collection, est. 1984 -- as t-file #413!

I wrote this for Jim Scrim's class last year.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tao Te Ching Gameboy Research

Compiled Gameboy ROM

A while ago I was inspired by J Schrier's Gameboy software and hardware research which explores the I Ching, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, and Mao Tse Tung's Little Red Book. So I modified an Apple IIe program that I always considered to be Taoist in nature and rewrote it for the gameboy.

It generates nonstatic images that at times can be quite visually appealing. You can pause it at any time, but it will spit out a verse from the classical Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching. The point is that you can never pause or even consciously consider any moment without losing its beauty through intellectual abstraction.

I never finished the project -- I was going to add color and package this in cartridge form, and enter the entire classical text, but since I have to pack up most of my computers in my move this weekend, I didn't want it to be forgotten. If anyone wants to pick up where I left off, the code is posted below.

Note that the menu screen and some of the screen captures display "HAL666" because that was the name of the Apple IIe program I originally wrote to be used on stage.

SOURCE CODE -- No License, but let me know if you do anything with it



At the start menu, the user may press any button when he is ready, and nonstatic images, or moments, will begin to generate. Sometimes they are visually appealing. Once in tao mode, the user has the following controls:

When one wishes to preserve a moment, he may press the START button to pause it exactly as it is. But he may not be happy with the results, because no moment can be paused without intellectual abstraction. The instance one realizes one is in a moment, he is pulled out of it by that very realization.

When one likes the way an moment is forming and wishes to wait for it to complete its current rotation, he may hold the SELECT button until the rotation is complete. The image will then be frozen, but again abstracted intellectually.

When one wishes to view the opposite of what he is currently viewing, paused or not, he may press the A button to do so. But he may find that the opposite of that moment is more similar to that moment than anything less polarized, like a tree, a smile, or a song.

When one wishes to empty the abnormalities on the canvas, he may press the B button.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Local Newspaper Prints Shitty Story

I read a story in the local paper entitled, "Suspect in Brookfield gas station robbery pleads not guilty," which would not get a passing grade in a basic newswriting course, and it disgusts me that any editor was incompetent enough to let this go to print.

The hook seems newsy enough, concisely written.

"BROOKFIELD -- The Patricia Drive man accused of robbing a Federal Road gas station at gunpoint last month pleaded not guilty in Danbury Superior Court Tuesday.

The man, Christopher Braun, 25, will return to court Sept. 10. He faces charges of first-degree robbery and fifth-degree larceny and was released on a written promise to appear in court after his arrest July 31."

Then it gets into the details of the robbery and how Braun became a witness. But it's not until the last few paragrahs that we learn Braun turned himself in and signed a statement admitting to the robbery!

"After Braun arrived at the police station, the affidavit said, Lamparelli advised Braun he was also a suspect in the robbery, at which point Braun agreed to waive his rights and cooperate, giving the detectives a sworn statement saying he had perpetrated the stick-up and used his mother's black Acura to get to and from the Sunoco station.

Braun told the detectives he had robbed the gas station with an unloaded pellet gun and made off with between $150 and $200. Later, he brought the detectives to his house, where he retrieved the pellet gun and a hooded sweatshirt he had worn during the robbery, according to the affidavit."

The complication that he already signed a statement admitting his being responsible for the robbery makes it an entirely different story from a man simply pleading not guilty, and that information should be introduced in the very beginning of the article.

It should read something like,
"The Patricia Drive man accused of robbing a Federal Road gas station at gunpoint last month pleaded not guilty in Danbury Superior Court Tuesday, despite signing a written statement admitting his responsibility for the robbery."

The angle of the story should be focused more, instead of simply recapping the robbery, to address the nuance of why the man plead guilty despite this statement. Did he recant the statement, or did he maintain his position, but not find the charges to be accurate? Ah, and herein lies the issue -- nuance. To answer those questions would require more reporting than reading an affidavit, and heaven forbid a reporter for a local rag actually give a shit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Essay Brainstorm: Writers as Engineers of Language

Form: Essay Brainstorm Session
Word Count: 360

Language gives us a way of understanding ourselves. Native speakers of different languages vary in their understanding of themselves by sheer virtue of what they can express verbally. Every language and dialect has evolved differently from culture to culture, and even individual to individual. Every individual has his or her own "personal dialect" which consists of considerably fewer words and phrases and ideas than the language he or she claims to speak.

A personal dialect is similar to a vocabulary, but also includes all of the cognitive implications of a vocabulary. If one uses the word "love" for dispassionate sexual intercourse, passionate sexual intercourse, infatuation, and what is typically understood as "romantic love," then his vocabulary consists of the word "love," and his personal dialect consists of the linguistic and cognitive limitations posed by this vocabulary.

The language of a group of people is the convergence of their personal dialects -- the mutually understood words, phrases, and ideas. Language evolves from the introduction and acceptance of personal dialects into the mainstream language. And with language, so does evolve our understanding of, and potential to understand, ourselves. We tend to think our language can be used to express anything we want, but writers are constantly in battle with words that don't exist. They see this as a shortcoming in themselves, but in reality, it is a shortcoming in language, until some writer comes along and offers a new way to do it. In this way, language is not unlike technology, and writers not unlike engineers, engineering the technology of expression.

Remember that evolution only means survival of the fittest and not necessarily survival of the best (although some might argue that fitness is the only quantitative evaluation of "best", I would argue that there is none). Sometimes words are combined in a beautiful, elegant manner which gives us enormous insight into the world, life, and ourselves, new unconventional phrases obliterate tired, meaningless cliches, and we experience the world with greater vibrancy than ever before. However, sometimes language evolves in a less than beautiful or expressive way in favor of any number of cultural priorities which supersede expression and beauty: brevity, humor, edginess.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Excerpted Sentence: She never felt pain

Form: Prose (Short Story Excerpt)
Word Count: 14
She never felt pain, but rather, an acute awareness that she was being hurt.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fiction Excerpt: No one needs a receipt for a doughnut

Form: Prose (Short Story Excerpt)
Word Count: 107
Concerns: Unusually long sentences. May be convoluted.
On his dresser, Kirk found most of the contents of his overstuffed wallet had been transferred into the new wallet, and the old wallet, and the remainder of its contents, like his wife, had vanished. Evidence that all three had once been there came in the form of a note which read, “Kirk, no one needs a receipt for a doughnut,” the last word underlined three times. He tucked the note into his new wallet, which he placed in his back pocket; put the checkbook, pad and pen in his breast pocket; and strapped the Casio, which, like his alarm clock, read 5:38 a.m., around his wrist.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Speculating on the Spring CT Review Holdup

The Spring 2008 CT Review was contracted to have been printed by April 3, 2008. Where is it!?

I have been getting antsy waiting for the Spring 2008 Connecticut Review, and I like digging stuff up, so I decided to find out why the biannual magazine hasn't come out yet.

It turns out the printing of the CT Review, since it is by a state university system, was put out for public bidding through the CT State Department of Administrative Services.

Here is the initial request for bids (PDF) posted in July of 2007 for printing of the Fall 2007 (PDF) and Spring 2008 issues. For each issue a timeline is given for the projects. The Spring 2008's timeline is as follows:

Disk ready for printer February 15, 2008
Form proof copy due March 1, 2008
Final Bound copy due April 3, 2008

Here is the notification of award of the contract (PDF) to Sir Speedy Printing in Bloomfield, CT. (Here is the contract description of that file).

This all means nothing. I don't know if the magazine has or has not been printed, but I do know it has not been made available to the public more than two months after it was scheduled to be printed. It is entirely possible that the CT Review did not get the magazine to the printer on time and it was printed or is being printed later than scheduled. The contract with Sir Speedy ends on June 30, 2008.