Dream Diary (9 April 2021)

I had a possum for a pet.

A fairly large animal, I picked her up outside, maybe to get her out of the rain. When I grabbed her she tensed up a bit as if to claw me, and turned her head ’round with threat to bite, but soft words and good intentions calmed her down. I took her inside a nearby house where a small party was going on. The partygoers said that my dog was strange looking. I didn’t contradict them, and they seemed satisfied, so I put the possum down to roam. More importantly, the owner of the house had a little dark dachshund that was running about and when it came close to my possum, all the dog’s hair– which up ’til this point had appeared classically short –stood on end like a startled cat’s. At this point it occurred to me, both for mine and the dachshund’s sake (but not for the partiers), that I should be worried about getting fleas from my possum. I started to itch.

Then I woke up.

Dream Diary (12-14 Dec. 2020)

Drafted this several weeks ago, publishing it before that clock strikes 12! The idea was to document my notable (citation needed) dreams, and then as soon as I started writing them down… my dreams got boring.

12 December 2020

The first dream begins at my dad’s house where we were watching an animated science fiction comedy. Had to take my cat home ’cause she was starting to yowl and I figured she needed the litter box. That I even had brought her along involves a massive stretch of dream-logic, as my dad is allergic to cats something sever. Anyhow, when I went upstairs to try to find her I instead found a wolf, which bit my hand (thinking about it, being in the same house as a wolf is a very good reason for my cat to be screaming). I grabbed it by the jaw instead of freaking out as I’d usually do and yelled down to my father that there was a wolf in his house. Now this is funny on multiple levels, as I’ve always had some phobia towards wolves and werewolves and the like, but my father also is known for having lots of lupine paraphernalia. I’m surprised the that he didn’t call back “There are lots of wolves in this house!” My sleeping mind was sadly not clever enough to find the humor in the situation.

When I got her home, was there someone trying to break into my house? Were they stealing the boards from my deck? Or something was happening on the street? I do think there was a light rain falling.

COVid-19 fragments from separate dreams: Touched my brother’s coat and he had to clean it. At pharmacy, way too close to people, couldn’t find my membership card, person next to me quibbling for a coupon.

13 December 2020

Nothing of note. Probably stayed up too late and ruined my brain’s capacity for dreaming this particular night. Okay, one thing feature while asleep – a class I registered for had its difficulty measured in swords; this particular class had two swords next to it, which apparently meant it was pretty hard. Odd.

14 December 2020

A friend had an extra 2012 Maserati they decided to give to me. Big signs I’m dreaming:

• No one has an extra Maserati. (Well… no one I know.)
• Not sure if I’d accept a gift like this, would make for a very stressful possession

Lovely fall setting, though. At one point was listening to a recording of other friends’ conversations, the impression I felt was that the recording was a form of social media, not spying, but then again I guess the difference between these can become blurry, huh? Especially in a dream, most of which are almost indistinct to some degree.

That’s all for now. If you made it this far, hope your year’s been as good as it could and see ya in 2021! 🎉

D&D Dungeon Adventure

The following was written between a coworker and I through email over the course of a couple weeks. Italicized text was written by me, responses by her. It was a lot of fun and I’d be willing to do something similar upon request. I make no promises as to quality and enjoy-ability, but I’d certainly do my best for both! Note: D&D ≠ Dungeons and Dragons – see if you can figure out its actual meaning! Without further ado, and with minimal editing, step into the dungeon…

You walk into a chamber. Floor, ceiling, and walls alike are of moist stone slabs. Two torches suspended by rusty metal casings to your left and right light the space. Rattle RATTLE CRASH! A reinforced iron gate has slammed shut behind you, leaving your only path forward one of two passages up ahead. The one on the left features an archway carved to resemble a grinning dragon, the right a demon with mouth gaping wide. Both passages smell of french fries. Which do you choose, left or right? And what equipment did you bring with you into this…

Dungeon‘ logo © Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, and Delcourt Publishing (check it out if you get the chance, it’s a very charming series)

I choose the right path. Clearly dragons can’t be trusted and his grin is off-putting. I have a ball of yarn, a bag of Reese’s cups, 9 freshly sharpened pencils, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and a Pepsi. 

The right path winds a bit, and at one point is almost pitch-dark, but eventually you reach another room where there’s…

Behold, the terror of evil incarnate rendered in MS Paint!

… a demon! Also, a wooden table upon which lay a wooden paddle, a bottle filled with an unidentified clear liquid, and a book titled – but there’s no time to read the cover right now! The demon staggers toward you in a meandering line! What will you do?

Clearly this demon is in need of a drink. His throat is dry and it is making him cough. I offer to share my Pepsi with him to quench his thirst.

The demon blindly grabs the bottle, squeezing it so hard the cap blows off, Pepsi splashing all about. Perceiving that there is liquid in whatever it’s holding, it dumps the rest down its gaping maw. Emitting a great gulp, a visible bulge travels down its throat and there is an audible plop as the object lodged in its gullet drops down into the demon’s stomach cavity. The holy water in the bottle on the table briefly emerges and takes on the shape of Jesus, who grins and flashes you a thumbs-up. The demon gasps for a moment and then, noticing your presence, claps a hand on your shoulder.

“Thanks for that. That darn dragon bet me I couldn’t swallow a potato in one gulp, but I guess we showed it, huh? Now to collect my winnings!”

It rushes past you, dropping a potato peeler as it goes.

There is a path to your left and a path straight ahead, both unadorned. You can’t tell what either smells like because the current room stinks of french fries. There is however a draft of warm air from the left.

How do you proceed?

Before leaving, I stop to peruse the book that was lying on the table with the holy water. Then I choose the path straight ahead. I don’t like to be hot.

The book is “10 Hot Tips for Frenching Fries” by Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar. You flip through the very informative and scrumptiously illustrated pages, many of which are flecked with dried demonic drool (the latter is very distinctive, drying in characteristic purple spirals), and a scrap of paper falls out.

Possibly the most subtle and easy to read clue of all time. Piece of cake!

 As you pass by the left corridor, there comes the sound of screeching, then roaring. For a moment the air grows even warmer and there’s the smell of smoke. The screeching continues after this, followed by a rumbling and a sound like a gemstone being tossed to a fireproof demon who won a bet.

The passage you find yourself in is very narrow, but better lit, and you are forced to edge your way around the billowing torches. Near the end, the floor, walls, and ceiling are caked in a thick red substance which continues on into the open room ahead.

This room is larger than the last, and the red paint merges with the paintings found four of the six surfaces. The floor is a random mess of colors which align roughly with the paintings. On the left wall is a cityscape, shadowy and vast, a pale green light upon the horizon under a starless sky. The wall opposite from you shows a pillared temple rising up from between the trees of a forested island, fat white clouds hanging in the sky above. to your right is a scene of demons at a table on either side of a dragon. The dragon is grinning and has more playing cards than anyone else in the scene. The ceiling depicts a giant eye, iris red and lids a-glaring.

What do you do?

I walk to the painting of the dragons and demons playing cards. I am very suspicious that the painting depicts the dragon cheating. I take one of my handy, freshly-sharpened pencils and add cards to each of the demons hands so they are all on a level playing field.

Then I wander the room taking in details of the other paintings.

As soon as the painting is changed, it continues to morph. The dragon now looks worried. The demons look delighted, signs of which include (but are not limited to) punching the air and kicking the underside of the table. Drinks are spilled and cashews jostled.

The eye above blinks, narrows, and then goes completely white, tiny red veins left behind with the vanishing of the pupil. There is the distant thound of thumping.

The island in the center painting is closer than it was before. You can see a figure standing upon the beach, hand over their eyes.

The ghastly city remains the same.

What do you do? Hurry!

I go to the painting of the island and use another of my freshly sharpened pencils to shade in the clouds above the island turning them from white and fluffy to dreary. Then I add raindrops to soak the figure on the beach.

Then I rush to the other side and add twinkling stars to the sky above the cityscape.

The figure on the beach runs from the rain over to a tree and breaks uproots it, crafting a makeshift umbrella. They then return to their post, staring out from the painting at you. The island stays at the same distance. 

With the emergence of the stars so also emerge clouds of demons from the buildings. They appear to be screaming, some clawing at their faces and pointing at the stars. The eye above has returned, and the giant lids crinkle with mirth at the sight of the distraught demons.

The sound of thumping is closer, accompanied by a discordant scraping in regular intervals. There is a murmuring, unintelligible voice.

What do you do? Hurry!

I head back to the painting of the island. I wave to the figure in the painting and ask what I should do now. The figure seems to know something based on the way they are staring at me pretty intensely.

The figure quickly signs to you that demons don’t like light and happy things and that you should appeal to their devilish nature. Good thing you know sign language! Your back is turned to it but you might be amused to know that the eye in the ceiling is glaring at the figure.

The thumping sounds sound very close now, and a somewhat whiny, indignant voice can be heard: “… can’t believe it, like oh my god the nerve of this human ruining my art and spoiling my imps, I am going to UGHHH [there comes the indistinguishable/inextinguishable noise of fire rushing from a beautifully-fanged mouth].” The room is definitely getting warmer now.

What do you do? Holy crap, hurry!

I decide that this demon is getting on my nerves and I’m not changing anything. I shoot a glare at the creepy eye in the ceiling, a thumbs up to the figure in the painting, sit down on the floor, pull out my copy of Neverwhere and start to read while I wait for whatever nonsense is coming my way.

The eye glares back, and if it had a body it would cross its arms and turn away from you with a huff. But it doesn’t, so it can’t.

The figure in the painting signs “good luck!” and sits down on the beach to watch from afar, planting the tree in the sand next to them. The tree is less interested in the whole situation than they are but is a good sport given its circumstances.

“The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not…” but you are barely through the incredibly intriguing opening sentence of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere before danger imposes.

You tried to avoid the dragon, but you can really only ever avoid a dragon for so long. That said, you only get the head of the dragon, the neck of which trails back through the darkness of the previous passages, presumably connecting to a larger body at some point. Along its iridescent blue and purple-scaled neck are clawed arms, helping to hold it up so the neck muscles, prodigious as they are, do not have to do all the work. The two arms closest to the head are larger than the others, the nails sharpened to almost unbelievable points, palms sitting flat upon the floor. There is an ornate silver bracelet upon one wrist, and many of the smaller arms bear similar accessories, all of the highest quality. The red paint near the dragon is beginning to bubble.

“Like, what the hell, you barge into my lair unasked for and all you’ve done is cause trouble from, like, the very first second! You are totally the rudest. Do you have anything to say for yourself before I toast your skinny little ass?” Its rage expended a little, the dragon glances around. “Pretty funny messing with the demons and that disgusting statue-thing, but that one is all wrong! I always win. Like, I lost a bet for the first time EVER because of your meddling today.” Green eyes swivel to back down at you. “… what are you reading?”

How do you proceed? I would tell you to hurry, but you look pretty comfortable sitting there.

I stay seated and smile at the dragon. I tell the dragon how beautiful it is because dragons love to hear how beautiful they are. Plus, in general dragons are beautiful and should be complimented anyway.

Then I launch into a passionate explanation about Neverwhere, how it is my absolute favorite book of all time and all things Neil [Gaiman] in general. I explain how I seem to have found myself in a similar situation to Richard Mayhew as I’ve suddenly been thrust into this world of dragons and demons. I ask the dragon if it has ever read any of Neil’s work. I continue to call Neil by his first name only because I know we are friends even though we don’t know each other.

I apologize for the loss of the bet but explain that I merely thought the demon was choking and was attempting to help. I also ask the dragon what the deal is with the giant huffy eyeball.

The dragon blinks and rears back a little, a claw going to its cheek.

“Oh… well, thank you. Like, beauty literally hurts my imps, so it’s nice to have someone actually like, appreciate all the work I put into being breathtaking. You’re not too shabby yourself, for a human at least.” The room has become noticeably more temperate. “And I totally understand what it’s like to be stuck somewhere you didn’t ask to be and really aren’t all that interested in… but you like, have to make the best of things, right?” She glances at the painting of the card game and then rests her chin in one claw, folding the other under her. “Tell you what. Your friend Neil sounds pretty rad, and I haven’t read a good book in like, for-everrr. If you give me your copy of Neverwhere I’ll let you go free, even though you totally ruined my day and vandalized my art.”

“Oh, and never mind the eye. It came with the property. Some sort of, like, familiar or something?” She shrugs. “Makes for good security.”

Well? Do you share your literature with this luxurious lizard?

Of course I share Neverwhere with my new dragon friend. I never pass up an opportunity to share a good read with an interested party!

Talons pluck the book from your outstretched hand with inhuman precision, and the dragon starts reading immediately, enormous eyes flicking almost imperceptibly back and forth, and is four pages in before she once again acknowledges your presence. “Oh. You’re still here. Like, go out the front way if you want. I’ll open it for you.” Muscles beneath scales ripple from neck down along the rest of the shimmering body and out the door, and a rattling rumble can be heard in the distance. Long before this the dragon has gone back to reading the book and pretending you’re not there. The eye in the ceiling appears to be looking over her shoulder and reading as well, though it still manages to find time to spare a glare at you as you exit. The figure in the painting jumps up and down, pumping their fist.

Well? You seem to be free to go if you choose!

Why would I leave? There is adventure and exploration to be had! I decide I’m going to explore this cave system while the dragon is distracted with the wonderful words of my friend Neil. I wave to the figure in the painting, glare back at the eye, and slide quietly past the dragon. I’m going on an adventure!!

Your awful sense of direction leads you right out the front door before you know it, and it slams shut behind you, red runes burning on it that translate to “closed until Neverwhere 2.” Outside, everything is boring and all the adventures have already been taken. How unfortunate. THE END

UPDATE 2

Short update, but with some meat. So, a lot of sketching, and therefore stuff that’s not nearly ready for posting anywhere. However, what this does mean is that when I do post stuff you’ll get the whole process, which can be fun. Another work in progress is an impromptu creative writing exercise that was really fun to do. It’s a collaboration, and an interactive one at that. Once I put it out here I’ll also be opening it up to further exploration – I’ll probably limit it to the first one or two people that want to try it out! That’s the update, and without further ado, the meat man himself, DOG MAN: 

dog man 4_5

Dog Man ©️ Dav Pilkey

UPDATE 1

All right, so if you’re paying closer attention than is really warranted, you’re probably thinking “what happened to one creative thing a day?” And to that my response is, well, I did say that not everything would be posted here! However, I do want to give a brief rundown of what I’ve been up to, both as a way to hold myself accountable and also review my efforts and hopefully keep myself on track. Who knows, maybe I’ll make it a weekly Sunday ritual! 

So let’s go day by day. The very first day of the year, promptly at midnight, I was working on a passion project of illustrating a favorite book of mine as a graphic novel. That said, I drew one panel and did a sketch of an object. Not a lotta progress but part of the reason behind that is holy CRAP is this book rife with interesting scenes to draw, and really evocative ones no less. It’s going to be a big, daunting project but I think it’ll also be a lot of fun. That said, I won’t be sharing much of anything from it as I’m working on it with the intention of getting it published, so at the very most there might be some teaser sketches. Get hype! 

January 2nd I finished a poem that saw its genesis while I as vacationing in Florida. Simple and fun, unlike all the sloggy stuff around the corner and in the future. 

On the second and third days I attempted to record a podcast. The first attempt was plagued with technical difficulties, which seems to be a them with any sort of recording I try to do (see next paragraph). I mean, I really should’ve thought a bit more about it, but the recording device was attached to the air vent in my car, and therefore registered every bump in the road. Both the music and my voice came through just fine, but the feedback is pretty horrendous. We’ll see if I can edit that to something that’s actually listenable, not to mention having to put my singing voice out there for everyone (or no one, if the podcast doesn’t take off in popularity) to hear. Recorded a second one but haven’t summoned up the courage to listen to it just yet. 

The fourth day I got some friends together and attempted to record a Let’s Play. I’ll be uploading that unfortunate attempt to YouTube at some point, it died pretty fast due to technical difficulties – the recording software or hardware resulted in a flickering picture throughout, not to mention the corresponding lag as well, making an already challenging game pretty much unplayable – though it would have died anyhow due to the game being VERY MEAN AND BAD and the person playing it giving up as a result. In summary, I underestimated how frustrating Megaman X6 is, and have since then apologized for subjecting my friend to it. 

January fifth was when I actually started writing this little record, so I’m going to count this as the “creative” thing for the day. Give me one cheat day at least, right? 

Day six:

5A70B9E4-7069-4E82-81F7-3153224C74A5-L0-001

(This lil’ guy is actually relevant to what I’m working on today, stay tuned for that!)

A Poem to Start the Year

Tired old dog, plodding along
Sing me a song, sing me a song

Songs are for cats, rainbows and rats
Toss up your hats, toss up your hats

The song starts like this, a wink and kiss
Signs hard to miss, signs hard to miss

Dance with a tree, lovely and free
What do you see? What do you see?

A bird with a brace and a miserable face
Satin and lace, satin and lace

For the sake of a friend, fortune to lend
How does it end? How does it end? 

With a hug and a wave, humor to save
Forever be brave, forever be brave

This silly, nonsensical creature sprung from the first two lines, though I had to drag out the rest of it, so “sprung” is perhaps too strong a word. It’s not perfect (there are several words that aren’t the exact fit) but I had fun making it. In any case, I plan on doing something creative every day of the year. Whether or not these creations will show up on this blog depends on their content and state of completion. Cheers to lofty goals!

The Well-Wrecked Castle

There was a traveler who, as he walked through the wilderness, came across a castle. This particular castle caused him to halt and stare for several minutes. The more he looked, the less likely it seemed that it should be standing at all. Chunks of wall were missing, straight ahead an entire lower corner was absent, and there were two towers perched atop that seemed placed completely at random. There was a barely a spot to rest one’s eyes without alighting upon a missing brick or stone, surely what were unintentional open-air windows abounding. As the traveler got closer to the castle, he saw an old man sitting upon a boulder some ways in front of what appeared to be the entrance, smoke billowing from bulbous nose and green-clay pipe, and smoky grey beard trailing in front of him. Upon sighting the foreign face, the old man pulled the pipe from his mouth and called out to the cloaked wanderer.

“Hello there! What brings you to these parts?”
Read on →

An Elegy to Uninventive Titles

Author’s note: I have not read the books whose titles are included within this poem (aside from ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ which I enjoyed), and cannot speak for their quality or lack thereof. They may be great reads for all I know. Nevertheless, their titles leave something to be desired and, as far as I’m concerned, do no favors to their tales. For fun: how many titles do you count? A prize to the correct guess!

Beware that girl
The girl on the train
The girl with the dragon tattoo

That girl’s bad news
Just look at those shoes
Who knows what next she’ll do

The girl who disappeared?
She’s the girl who took her
She’s behind all the missing girls,
Took ‘em sink, line, and hooker

Where are all those girls?
(Some say she keeps the girls in the garden)
And my pessimism please pardon,
but if one of these girls were to survive,
She’d for sure be the luckiest girl alive

But who was the girl before?
You ask what to call her?
Why, she’s the girl at war
She’s a girl underwater
She’s the girl with no name
Or is it the girl with seven names?
Or maybe the girl who was Saturday
Who living now can for sure say?

It’s enough to drive a search engine crazy
The pace with which these girlish titles come on
And more arise with each day, each no less the lazy
than the last. So instead be gone girl, gone!

( ©2017 Sean Dorsey )