Saturday, January 1, 2011

AFI, Part II:

One very important thing that people should know about me is that I have one of the worst memories ever. People ask why I read some books so many times, often it is because I have forgotten so much about it.  My favorite series of books, tied even with Harry Potter, is the Dark Tower novels by Stephen King.  I read all that had been published in 2002 and then read the others upon publication.  One day, after finishing them all, I was telling a friend about them and to my horror I realized that I had forgotten a character's name, a VERY important character.  It was horrible, the first thing that I did was to go grab one of the books and find it.  But that wasn't enough, I had to read them all again.

The importance of this is to make you understand why I am telling the story of my trip to Myrtle Beach to see AFI in the manner that I am.  Even though it was a horribly hilarious and heartbreaking day, the details have begun to slip and, without the assistance of those who went with me, I might have forgotten everything except the fact that I did not see my favorite band that day, November 15, 2009.

On Nov. 15, after having driven several hours, me and my friend Amanda were sitting in a mechanics trailer.  We decided that we would ease the tension for ourselves by writing a comical letter to AFI concerning how we had ended up watching a mechanic play X-Box.  And it is because of this letter that I have been able to retain so many of the details about what happened to us that fateful day.

What follows is the letter that we wrote which should suffice to cover the entire day...I still cry a little...

(If the letter reads a little weird it is because we made a conscious effort to include song titles into the writing)

Letter to AFI concerning the ill-fated trip---

It all began on September 29, 2009 when William Farnsworth and Amanda Hodge decided they were finally going to see William’s favorite band of 10 years: AFI. William began a Facebook countdown right then and there, which he updated religiously until November 15.
Their friend Lindsey, also a fan, was initiated into this Celluloid Dream as the driver. Several weeks of happy anticipation passed…then came the Boy Who Destroyed the World. Lindsey’s womb was full of zygote and she was going to no concert anytime soon.
Panic ensued. How would they get to the concert? With the days to the show dwindling fast, many alternative methods were considered. Including, but not limited to, renting a car, air travel, hitching a ride with the loathsome girl down the hall, and that most vintage form of travel— walking. Seriously.
On a Friday, before the show, Amanda hit upon the seemingly brilliant idea of asking Jamie Hummel, spontaneous roadtrip-taker extraordinaire. Jamie readily agreed and what follows is only history:
We woke up, opened the door, and thought we would escape to the sea…

Dear AFI,
How’s it going? We hope you are enjoying your tour.
We know you were expecting us at your Myrtle Beach show, (we were expecting us there too) but a series of great disappointments brought us instead to the house of B.T. Johnson, Camden, SC, mechanic.
As the day began, we thought we would be Dancing Through Sunday. With a roadtrip, an AFI concert, and the beach ahead of us, our hopes were high and our spirits light, we were escaping to the sea.
We departed from our alma mater, Lenoir-Rhyne University at approximately 12:21, a time of no coincidence. On our first stop for gas, we received our first clue that God Called in Sick Today. Amanda’s attempts to get cash back inside the gas station were thwarted by the evil cashier lady, and Amanda bought Maui Melon gum for nothing.
Still oblivious to the cloud of doom drifting ominously behind Jamie’s ’92 Taurus, the three Fall Children made their way to Wal-Mart, where they procured cash from the self-checkout.
For a while life was uneventful as we sped down I-40. The wind was in our hair and Black and Mild’s were in our hands (except William’s, he doesn’t smoke).
We received our second Wake Up Call when we pulled over for refreshments and bathroom breaks. “Open Your Eyes! And Face the Truth!” screamed Jamie’s check engine light. But we paid it no mind, for Jamie’s Walkman had abruptly Ended Transmission and the sad lack of tunes demanded our full attention.
After discovering the old Walkman we found in the backseat would work if held just right, we rolled on. The colors of the Third Season decorated the trees of North and then South Carolina. But somewhere along I-77 our tunage died a second death as that Walkman sputtered and fell silent.
With the help of Advances in Modern Technology (William’s iPhone) we found the world’s tiniest Wal-Mart in the seemingly quaint and benign town of Chester, SC.
But, lo and behold, the miniscule Wal-Mart was a big fat rip-off. Selling Walkmen— a form of technology know even to the cavemen of 1984— for a whopping thirty bucks!
Disgusted, we inquired of the teller where a reasonably priced CD player might be found. She directed us to “Fred’s” where one can apparently acquire substandard products at poverty level prices.
At A Glance, it appeared Fred would be our savior. Walkmen were only $10.80. As we carried our new darling to the Taurus, we were sure that it was a Perfect Fit.
“Oh, Don’t Make Me Ill,” said Amanda as the newly purchased Walkman failed to respond to our desperate touch. Apparently it was a dud. We exchanged that cheap piece of crap for another one of the same model. (Can you tell we’re not very bright?)
Alas, Salt for Our Wounds! The Walkmen were Two of a Kind: they both failed us utterly. Reluctantly, we went to ask the scary manager lady for another refund. Miss Murder gives us a look to slay The Checkered Demon, but gave Amanda her money back, nevertheless.
Disillusioned and filled with Self Pity, The Lost Souls trudged back to the car. Chester was not the “Picture Perfect Town” it claimed to be, but a Half-Empty Bottle of crushed hopes and destroyed dreams.
Tortured by the radio Amanda, Jamie, and William continued on. A few uneventful hours passed as we sang off-key and broke the speed limit.
On I-20, Jamie happened to notice that we were low on gas. Reluctant to stop, but obliged to, we got off at the next exit.
Flash Flash Car Crash!! We didn’t even get Three Seconds Notice that the Taurus would run no more.
As we pulled into the BP somewhere between Bishopville and Camden, Jamie’s trusty car began to smoke alarmingly. “Maybe it’s just overheated,” we told ourselves. Amanda and William assumed The Prayer Position as Jamie lifted the hood. All appeared well, but then, we noticed a brackish puddle oozing from beneath the car. We sat and watched the Taurus Bleed Black all over the BP parking lot.
Some good Samaritans inspected this failure of technology—A Modern Epidemic—and informed us that’s Jamie’s car was not a Totalimmortal. 
Then we reached the lowest of the lows. Stranded hours from home and hours from AFI. We called friends, but dreaded calling our parents. Amanda attempted to write her frustrations out through poetry, but No Poetic Device could alleviate the Despair Factor.
William sat with Cold Hands as Amanda went to the bathroom and Jamie called all of her relatives who might pick us up. The nice ladies in the gas station told us of a bus station 15 miles away and a mechanic right down the road. While waiting for the mechanic Amanda and Jamie smoked like Veronica Sawyer as William bemoaned his vow to drink only water.
A bit later, our new Patron Saint and Angel, B.T. Johnson, the Benevolent Mechanic, arrived to the fanfare of trumpets. But our Song of Sorrow was far from over.
Dear B.T. informed us that Jamie’s transmission had Ended Transmission, and would take three days to fix. Even better, given the circuitous bus routes, it would take thirty hours to get home.
Conceding defeat, Amanda called her father. Unimpressed as he was, the good man agreed to come and pick us up. And kind B.T. offered us shelter in his majestic abode until the happy hour when Dad would arrive.
For 3 ½ hours, a veritable eternity of awkward, we sat in a Camden trailer and watched B.T. beast at Xbox. Apparently a closet nerd. B.T. was the proud owner of what was probably the biggest TV in Camden and the most extensive collection of video games of any mechanic anywhere.
A fire of anger and disappointment raged inside of us as we watched B.T. blow up terrorists. When William’s iPhone notification went off at 7:00, reminding us that the show was about to start, we wanted to put a 37mm to our heads.
Knowing that you were as grieved by our absence as we, the three of us decided to write this letter chronicling out tribulations.
So here we sit, on B.T.’s couch. Dad still isn’t here, and we’re laughing uncomfortably at B.T.’s favorite vulgar stand-up comedian. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits black. We hope to gain Strength Through This Wounding, but right now all we see is a Carcinogen Crush.
We Were Trying Very Hard to be There but this odyssey was ill fated from the start. Thus ends the journey of these sad misfits. The doom cloud rains down on us as we watch B.T. crack open another beer. Please forgive our absence; these events were just beyond our control.
The Greatly Disappointed

P.S. Ever and a Day later, we’re back at LR. Camden, Chester, and Jamie’s car are far away, but the painful memories are still very close. We assure you that every word of this sad tale is true. We thought writing this letter would Medicate our pain but we still cannot stand to listen to AFI. Your music only reminds us of our Great Disappointment. We felt it was only fair to explain our absence for we know you were eagerly anticipating our awesome presence. 
23 Nov. 2009 

Next time we will learn about the fantastic change of events that led to me coming into almost direct contact with the band and a little piece of irremovable body art.

But, until then, here is another video from 2006's DECEMBERUNDERGROUND, Love Like Winter:

Friday, December 31, 2010

AFI, Part I:

I decided, since I couldn't think of a single thing as sufficiently interesting (as me), that I would do a post, actually two, maybe three, about my seeming obsession with AFI.

I'll start by telling everyone who they are.  AFI, A Fire Inside, is a band with no particular scene, or, a least, none that I can decipher accurately.  They have been around since 1991, started as most bands do, in a garage.  AFI didn't gain international fame until 2006 with the release of their seventh studio album DECEMBERUNDERGROUND.  I heard my first AFI song, Days of the Phoenix, sometime in 2001-2002, my sister turned on MTV, I think, and the video was playing.  She was too busy to turn it right away and so we ended up watching the entire thing, for whatever she was doing I am eternally greatful.  I didn't know too much about the band and no one else that I asked had ever heard of them.  Ever since I heard that first song, what most diehard fans consider to be their best, I was hooked and have never looked back. 

In 2003 I was in the seventh grade and their album Sing the Sorrow was released.  I knew then that I had found a band that I absolutely LOVED.  I listened to them consistantly, and went and bought their entire back catalogue.  Most people, however, did not see what it was about them that was so enticing to me.  They heard their older stuff and could not see anything of value there.  Sure, there was a lot of yelling and anger, but unlike other  music of the same catagory most of their songs at the time were comical and did not express a direct desire to commit suicide, which I appreciated, since at the time there was a slew of bands gaining popularity that all said the same thing:  that they were a group of sad men that only wanted people to feel sorry for them.  (Not to say that I don't like some of these bands:  Hawthorne Heights, My Chemical Romance, HIM, The Used, all of these bands have a special value to me, I love them all differently.)

AFI, after the release of some of their later work did get a lot more serious and they did delve into their feelings a bit more, so much so, actually, that by the release of DECEMBERUNDERGROUND a lot of people were placing them in the catagory of emo bands, although I will argue against this all day.  They never, to me at least, act in a manner that would be considered as self-loathing and for this I am extremely grateful. 

One thing that I was always mad about was that they never came to NC in concert.  It was so infuriating  because all I ever wanted to do was to see them in concert, but, at the time that I started to listen to them they did not do smaller areas or even large areas where they did not have a substantial number of fans, mostly because they were not that well know and couldn't afford to play shows where they would make an acceptable profit.  And so, last year, with the release of their latest album, Crash Love, when they announced that they would be playing as close to me as Myrtle Beach I knew that I was not going to miss my chance tosee them and planned a road trip with some friends to see the greatest show of my life, turned out to be the worst day of my life...

Until next time, here is a video, from 2009's Crash Love:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Catch up and Harry Potter

So, it's been a while.  A little over a month.  I have been so busy with school and work, and (previously) Nano, which, I am proud to say, I finished with a just smidgen over 50,000 words.  My story is no where close to being finished, however.  I am still writing part one, of three.  I'm taking a break to write a short story, which I haven't done in a while, and am really excited about it.  It's a ghost story, my favorite kind, and deals with a stressed college kid--write what you know, right?

I was informed of a blogfest by Wordscrafter that I have decided to participate in.  Its task, challenged by Michael Gesu over at In Time..., is to write a 500 word scene with the characters from Harry Potter, themed around a holiday.  Since I really needed something to take my mind off of final exams and just school in general, I decided to participate.  And since I absolutely LOVE Harry Potter and am going through withdrawals at the moment seeing as the week-long Harry Potter Fest on campus is over, and I've already seen the new film twice, and I don't have time right now to re-read the books again, which is what I would usually do after a film, I thought that this would be a good type of therapy.

Well, it was really hard to get it down to this few words but I did it and I hope you all enjoy:

"Hello, Hagrid," Harry said, his voice resounding against the walls of the Great Hall. 
Hagrid turned around, swinging one arm wildly, knocking over tiny Professor Flitwick standing on a chair slightly in front of him to the right, whom Harry hadn’t noticed at first. The little man tumbled off his chair and at the same time a large crashing noise echoed through the hall as, somewhere that was still blocked to Harry by Hagrid’s mass, something fell from suspension to the ground. 
Flitwick only grumbled to himself.
Hagrid lifted Flitwick up, not as gently as he would have liked, and sat him back on his feet, where he got to repairing the pile of broken, glass ornaments. 
"What'd ya need, Hagrid?" Ron asked, standing next to Harry and looking just as concerned.
"Well, I was actually hopin' you'd bring Hermione, no offence, she's better with charms than the two of ya, but we'll manage. I need ya to help me with the trees if ya wouldn't mind. There's more this year than usual with the Yule Ball and all and it'll take me all day without magic, and Flitwick, he don' like me too much."
Harry looked at Ron and could tell that he was thinking the same thing: that he wished they had brought Hermione as well.  The fact that Hagrid had asked students for help, under the table, no less, was a sign that he was embarrassed of his apparent oafness.
They followed Hagrid to the front entrance of the Hall, into the snow, and saw a huge pile of green trees.  Harry looked at Ron; his only advice was to raise his eyebrows and shrug.
“Well,” Hagrid said.  “We better start.”  He lunged forward, grabbed a tree by the top in his massive hands and pulled it from the others and then started back into the hall, dragging it behind him.
“How does he expect us to move these?” Ron asked.
“You’re pretty good at levitation.  We could try that,” Harry suggested.
Ron didn’t seem to like having the responsibility of the trees placed on him, but pulled out his wand nonetheless. 
He pointed it at the pile of trees and took a deep breath.  “Wingardium Leviosa!”
The tree on top lifted, wobbled and then, right when Ron was sure he had it sufficiently balanced, listed and fell from the air, crashing a few feet away from where it had started.
Harry was laughing. 
“It’s not a feather,” Ron said, angrily.  “You try it!”
Harry moved in front of the trees.  “We’ll shrink them,” he said, seeming quite proud of the idea.
“Reducio!” He bellowed.  The trees billowed as if hit by a strong gust of wind and then burst into flame.  He looked at Ron, and then toward the Great Hall, a burning bonfire behind them, as Hagrid and Flitwick raced their way.  They tried to smile, awkwardly, however. 
“Get out, GO!” Flitwick screamed, and then looked up to Hagrid with anger.
Hagrid looked at the burning trees and sighed.  Harry and Ron backed away slowly, hoping to escape any possible rage, and then ran once they rounded the corner.

I originally had in this information about the golden egg and the Fat Lady, and Ron (comically) waking up, but it wouldn't fit in the "no more than 525 words."  I like this and I hope everyone else does.  And thanks to Michael for having this contest for all us Potterheads!

*Edit:  I realize I did this wrong, by not including myself, and if I have any time before Saturday to write another, I will.  Either way, I had a lot of fun writing Harry Potter.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Writing Experiences

Alright, I was sure that Nano would be no big deal and that I would be able to sit for an hour and a half a day and spit out my words and then get ready for the next day.  This is not how it has happened thus far.  So far I have been writing in very brief spurts, about 300-400 words at a time.  Also, like I predicted, this week is just as stressful as last week, however, for the first time in two weeks, I do not have anything due today or tomorrow for school, which is really nice.

About my novel:  I wrote a story in eighth grade that I remember quite vividly.  I remember the first words that I wrote in the story.  They were on the blank piece of scratch paper that teachers give you when you take and EOC test, a state mandated one.  I had finished my English test with ample time to waste and back then (when it seemed so much easier to write) I would just get so many ideas and every time I put the pen to paper I would start rambling out some new story that I had NEVER previously thought of.  I still have probably a hundred one page stories that I began and never finished, stories that today I have no idea where I was going with but are nostalgic just the same.  Anyway, I wrote front and back of two pieces of copy paper and was really excited because I loved what I was writing and it was not until after the test when materials were being collected that Mr. Byrd, my homeroom teacher, tried to take the pages from me.  Obviously I wasn't going to let him, I knew that I would never be able to write those words again and I had a feeling that the story (back then they were all stories, never novels) I was writing had potential to be finished unlike so many of the other things that I had started.

I was able to persuade him to put in two blank pieces of paper with my bubble sheets so I could keep my story. All for the rest of the day, since it was a testing day, we had free time and one of my closer friends at the time, Anna, was used to me writing randomly and often times I would write funny one pagers for her to read and then we would go back and forth adding things to it.  She wanted to see what I had written, mainly because she wanted to stop me from writing more, so that I would talk to her, and I think she knew right away that this one story was different.

Although I often wrote funny stories for her they were actually rare anywhere outside of the classroom.  Most everything that I have ever written has been macabre in some way.  I love horror and love to write it, very rarely does one of my heros survive.  They will progress through the story and learn what they must for the story to be complete and relatable, but then they will usually fail in the end.  Maybe there's some psychology voodoo someone can do to tell me why but that's just how it is.

The very first line of this original story had my four year old protagonist walking through a church filled with rotting, putrid corpses.  She read this thinking it was just another of my stories that went no where but after she read it she gave the pages back and sat back without talking as if asking me to write more, the last line had been the boys inner thought of how he wanted to kill his mother.

To her it may have seemed as if I knew where I was going with the story but I had no idea.  I never write with an outline.  I will write about a certain piece of action and during I will get a thought about something that would be cool or a line that sounds good and add it in.

For instance, the novel I was working on before Nano started with an argument between two brothers and afterwards they go into their house and I thought that it would be interesting to have their mother dead at the foot of the stairs.  I had not had the idea to put her there a mere four seconds before typing the words.  I really love to write on the fly.  While it probably leads to more errors later and more editing it creates an exhilarating feeling during the writing process.

That story that I wrote in eighth grade was the third story I had ever completely finished.  The first being a vampire story called "De ja' vu" and the second being a haunted house story called "Stephen's Story," all three which are probably nearer to novellas, since it seems that length is something I have no power or desire to restrain.  "The Other," the last written of the three was always my favorite and so when I decided to do Nano it was the first story to pop into my head.  I knew that I would be fully capable of rewriting it and making it novel size, there is plenty of story there to make it more than a novella.  I have yet to ever let anyone read anymore of the original story other than those first few pages because of how embarrassing it is now that I am older looking back at the way I wrote it.  The original story for me serves as my first time ever writing using an outline.  The original story now is the skeleton of what my novel will be and I am using it extensively because despite how badly it may have been written I do not want it to lose that magic that I felt when I first wrote it.

The story itself is about a boy who is slowly becoming more and more aware that he hates his mother, although he has no idea why and as things in the story begin to escalate more and more out of control the boy and his mother learn that there is something more sinister going on inside of the boy and have to take the steps to fix it.

Personally, this is right up my alley...

Monday, November 1, 2010

LOST: The Complete Collection

Sorry for the photo overload, but, seriously, words are not enough (and I get a little camera happy).
The Beautiful Box

The map inside of the lid

A Clearer picture

Box with lid removed

Episode Guide

It has some truly stunning artwork

Senet Game Board 

Faux Play

Recovered journal entry from the Black Rock

The Ankh 
(I swear my hand's not orange, my phone's flash does some funky things)

Inside was a hidden message from Jacob

What we've all been waiting for:  The DVD's!

Six wonderful seasons

38 DVD's!

Close up on the artwork

It's really very exquisite!

Seasons 5&6

The set came with a miniature black light, Dharma style

When shown on the map you can see a hidden frozen donkey wheel!
When you turn the map there is a hidden disc behind it!

That's all the pictures I have.  Thanks to Words Crafter for the help in procuring this and delivering it to me.  I think you know how grateful I am.  

Now I think would be a good time to go and start my first day of Nano as it is 9:23 PM and I've got nothing...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Harry Potter Fest is a wrap!

This week has been Harry Potter Fest at LR and it has been pretty amazing.  We had some really interesting and smart people come and talk about the appropriate readership of HP and all of the different Christian elements in the books.  Earlier to day we had a Quidditch match on the lawn and the entire week culminated to night with a Wizard Rock Concert featuring the bands "Gred and Forge" and "The Blibbering Humdingers".  I work for the event staff and so I had absolutely no excuse for not being their but I was generally disappointed in the lack of an audience that our school provided.  I dunno what everyone on campus could be doing on a friday night if they weren't nerding it out at a Wizard concert...!

It was probably the most hilarious thing that I have ever been to.  The songs were very smart and witty and at times a little vulgar, but that's funny, too.  Despite the fact that I caught a cold sitting outside I would say that I enjoyed every bit of the concert.

Since I do have the honor of setting up for these events I was able, this week, to talk, personally, with all of our speakers and the bands.  This was really fun and enlightening.  Our first speaker, Amy Sturgis, teaches Native American studies at Belmont College and was the first person in the world to teach a college course on Harry Potter.  She was very fun to hear talk and I and several others are now on a mission for her to be an adjunct professor on our campus next year so that we can take one of the literature classes, or maybe her HP class!

The second speaker, John Granger, was freaking MINDBLOWING.  What he said about Harry Potter and what he found in the books was one of the most interesting things that I think I have EVER heard.  This is not an exaggeration.  He dissected these books and found out so many interesting things about them.  For instance:  He described that Rowling utilized Alchemeic writing styles in Harry Potter and that in every work of Alchemeic literature their must be a smart female role, symbolized by the metal Mercury, obviously Hermione.  And their must be a passionate male character, symbolized by Sulfur, Ron. just so happens that the letters associated with Mercury on the periodic table of elements is HG (hmmm...Hermione Granger, maybe...), and her parents are dentists!  Also she is named after the female version of Hermes, the god of MERCURY!  I know what you're thinking...HOLY CRAP!  It also happens that Ron's middle name is Billius, which is always associated with Sulfur!

Needless to say, despite the fact that t was one of the longest and most stressful weeks of my life I am able to say that I had a lot of fun and cannot wait for Nov. 19!  And to re-read the books!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First Post's a Charm

I'm finally doing this.  I tried it before and I didn't get very far (about two days) before I stopped.  Anyways, for now at least I'm using this as an excuse to not read "To The Lighthouse"
And so because I should probably be doing that I'll leave this here: