Cult of Subtextuality

cult

I have a friend —

What? Yes, I’m antisocial to a fault, but there are an intrepid few who won’t take “No, we’re not friends” for an answer and so I allow them a temporary parking pass in designated areas within the friend zone. Now, may I continue with my post, please? Thank you.

Anyhoo, I have a friend — quiet, you! — who’s in a cult. She doesn’t see it as a cult, doesn’t acknowledge it as a cult, and hates when I bring the group’s cultish ways to her attention.

She was recruited into it by a coworker via a book club. While I’m deeply concerned for her, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to help. Any concerns I express about the club and her involvement with it are dismissed as naïve and misinformed, and are taken as evidence of my pessimistic outlook on life, which is a flaw my friend thinks her cult can help me fix.

Nothing I say will change her mind. She has been properly programmed to resist and/or deflect any criticism of the book cabal. Her conversation has become unbearable, as most of what she now speaks about centers around how brilliant and compassionate the book group and the coworker who runs it are, and how much I could benefit from joining.

What follows is my first conversation with Linda after she joined the not-a-cult-book-club. These aren’t actual spoken words, mind, but the words behind the words. Or at least my interpretation of them, bearing in mind that I’m pretty much shit at deciphering subtext.

You should further note that the interaction may be laced with doses of sarcasm not present in the original conversation. I am forever the unreliable narrator.

Me: Hey, Lin.

Linda: Hi, Rhy. You know what? You’re amazing.

Me: Okay, that’s a bit random but I have to admit I felt validated when you called me amazing.

Linda: I feel your validation and I’m warmed in the soothing heat of your positive karma.

Me: Uh, karmic warmth makes me feel a little uneasy.

Linda: I feel your apprehension and I’m suddenly angry.

Me: Your anger is just a reaction towards my judgmental standpoint on your new age mumbo-jumbo.

Linda: Congratulations, now I’m angrier by your ignorant labeling of my new doctrine and guiding philosophy. I bought a cool new prism for only $150 because it blinds the souls of unbelievers so that they will walk into doors and we can laugh at their misfortune. We, my group that I refuse to acknowledge as a cult and I, believe the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time…

Me: Curious about this cult. Is it exclusionary? If so, do I fit into the negative stereotyping of the masses or would I be permitted to join such a worthy cause for a small fee to the great one?

Linda: Your first-born. And, I almost forgot, they’re entitled to 51% of your soul. It’s a pretty good deal when they throw in the Apple shares as well.

Me: Hmm… sounds good enough. But I still have a nagging question. Will joining this cult fill me with a false sense of superiority to the non-believers or will I be conditioned to happily go about my business which will soon become proselytizing to others?

Linda: Look. Stop with the questions, just go and kill your family. It’s for the best, okay?

Me: Unanswered questions and hostile commands to boot! Wow, you guys really are legit. Alright, before I sign up, let’s say I slaughtered my family, whose only crime was being related to a man with a lunatic for a friend, what then? How do I advance to the next level of cultiness?

Linda: Give us your first born, and tattoo your whole body. And if you do a good job on the family killing front, my superiors would be impressed. They like feeble-minded allegiance to any pretension of authority.

Me: Tattoo? Tattoo? Hold on a second. No one ever said anything about tattoos. That’s it, I want out. I’ve had enough of your “tattoo your body to show your inferiority to the high sacred master overlord” gobbledygook.

Linda: That’s it. You’re cut. No everlasting peace and tranquility and blissful happiness, bounding through the fields of heaven. You can just sit outside St. Peters gates forever, disbeliever.

Me: Cool beans. I’m done with your pseudo-utopic hallucinogenic-induced dream. I don’t need your deranged, fragmented view of paradise. I have television to fill that gaping whole in my immortal soul. Just wait until I blog about this on the Huffington Post!

Linda: Huff Post? What an excellently composed news authority. It’s insight and credibility never fail to expand my perspective on the intricate workings of our world. Truly a fine journalistic institution. My mind just turns to a viscous jelly-like substance when I look at their headlines and a conspicuous pool of frothy drool begins to accumulate at the sides of my mouth when I have the long-anticipated opportunity to peruse their pages.

Me: Sweet mother of all that is sacred! What have they done to you? Can’t you see that the cult has been warping your mind to the point where you’d be happy endorsing nearly anything? Well, with the exception of Francois Hollande.

Linda: Francois Hollande, don’t get me started. A fine politician. A beacon of our times. Socialism is what we need. We need strong leadership, for a strong future. Damned immigrants.  We need a common sense revolution,  oh wait… Silvio Berlusconi, don’t get me started. A fine politician, a beacon our times…

Me: Oh no! they’ve taken you. You’re too far gone. Just know as I grab this pillow and press it firmly against the sleeping face of our friendship that this is for the best.

Linda: Don’t forget to break out of the institution by throwing large objects into steel re-enforced windows. It will make the dramatic effect of your selfless act even more poignant and meaningful.

Me: Damn. I forgot to stare longingly at the flock of birds earlier on. I hope that this will still be considered effective cinematography since there’s been no foreshadowing.

Linda: Milos Forman would not be impressed by your lack of effective symbolic imagery.

Me: Ah-hah! So that’s who’s behind this cult. I knew you’d slip up sooner or later.

Linda: He’s not alone. You have no idea how far it goes. You’re trifling with powers that you can’t possibly comprehend.

Me: Not Paula and Carole!

Linda: They’re minor pawns. Their Magic Garden sinister talents are well applied to young children, teaching them to be inherently distrustful of hand puppets who live in trees, as well as chortling  flower beds in general. They were more of a test project, a prototype, a foreshadowing of things to come. much like the Terminator who came back in T2 but as a good Terminator—well, sort of at least—you know what, screw Paula and Carole, they’ll just get evil and kill us all.

Me: How could they? They were trusted by all, loved by many, stalked by a few. How can I go on with my life now that I know The Story Box was a sham? I even sent money to PBS, for goodness sake.

Linda: Public Broadcasting, don’t get me started. Fine family viewing. We’ll return to our program, but first, why not give? Become a monthly donor. For your contribution you’ll receive a worthless gift and the illusion of supporting the arts and educational programming. It’s all informative, no commercials to warp your mind…

Me: Damn cult. Glad I never joined in the first place.

Linda: Or, so you think. Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha.

Me: I never signed a contract or made a blood transaction of any sort.

Linda: You’re not supposed to remember.

Me: Ugh, this is tiresome. I’m going to bed.

Linda: Goodnight. Don’t forget: the night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time. The night time is the right time…

Me: Amazing. my ass.

I take that back. I think I nailed the underlying meaning of that conversation.

Sally forth and be patiently-awaiting-a-signal-that-the-brainwashing-is-starting-to-wear-offingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

PS. Don’t join cults. You’re intelligent, I realize this, but consider it a PSA in case you happen to stumble upon this post on a low-gamma day when the world has seemingly left you no other options than to sign up with a small group that has religious veneration and devotion regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous. Unless, of course, you wish to join The Everlasting Dream Church of Rhyan, for my words are magical and my genius must be preserved! Besides, I’m sick of eating ramen and chili, so step into the warmth of my positive karma and PayPal-tithe me a dollar towards some healthier eating.

*Cue Sarah McLachlan song*

Remember, the Rhyan you save may be your own.

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The Tam Commandments

10crack-commandments

My past often crosses paths with my present, but never with the people I desire to see again. Because of this, I’m always filled with an odd mix of embarrassing nostalgia and unwanted reflection, followed by the inevitable introspection. I see where old acquaintances are in their lives and I can’t help but look at where I am in relation to my dreams and aspirations.

No matter if you’re the outgrower (the disinterested party) or the outgrown (the rejected party), neither are comfortable during a random meeting. Also, dealing with people from my past has had the effect of feeling like I was moving backwards. As if all the growth I’d experienced after being separated from that person vanished because they’re present in my life again.

And these chance encounters happen in the damnedest places. Here I am tucked away in a small town in a new state on the opposite coast when I run into a childhood friend. Well, friend might be a bit of a stretch. She wasn’t really friends with anyone. Truer to say we ran in the same circles. Even truer than that, we ran in different circles that sometimes overlapped like a Venn diagram of societal misfit kids.

Rough and rugged, tough as nails, she took no shit off anyone, not even her parents. She went her own way, did her own thing, and everyone in the neighborhood, kid and adult alike knew she’d most likely end up either dead or in prison. Some people only open their future up for those two options.

Anyway, I was at the local thrift store when I heard someone calling my name. I assumed it couldn’t be me since I know exactly zero people here, but as this person kept calling, my curiosity got the better of me and turned to see her: Tamika.

It took me a moment to work out who she was. Not that the years hadn’t been kind to her, just that she wasn’t a person I had ever thought about remembering.

She, on the other hand, treated me like we were lifelong buddies. Big hugs and kisses and a smile that could light the Hollywood Bowl. Time has a funny way of altering the past. She remembered our relationship very differently than I had.

So, we did what people who haven’t seen one another in ages do. We shared past stories, gave abridged accounts of our lives since then, and painted the brightest possible picture for our futures. And me being me, I remarked on how I never thought I’d see her ever again. Of all the people, not including those that have passed, she was easily the last person I ever expected to clap eyes on.

She didn’t take offense. She knew better than anyone the type of person she was back then and she said she probably would have fulfilled everyone’s prophesy of jail or death if not for Chickie.

Chickie was the only other person who could’ve matched Tammy pound for pound. Cut from the same cloth, sisters from a different mister, they were thick as thieves. And probably would have been for life, had Chickie not met her maker at the claw end of a hammer in a drug deal gone horribly wrong.

That’s when Tam found the way.

My internal groan was so loud I feared she might’ve heard it. I myself am irreligious, and though I don’t begrudge anyone their spiritual beliefs, I have a hard time listening to the sanctimony of proselytizing born-agains.

But she hadn’t found Jesus, at least not in that way. Nor had she joined a cult. She claimed she simply hit rock bottom and having no one to turn to, sat down and wrote out a list of commandments for herself. A self-imposed list of rules in which she would like to live by.

And while I wish I could remember the list verbatim, my memory unfortunately has a mind of its own, I instead offer up a similar list that contains many of Tamika’s instructions for living a good life:

The 82 Commandments of Alejandro Jodorowsky

659077-jodorowsky

1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.

2. Always finish what you have begun.

3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.

4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.

5. Develop your generosity – but secretly.

6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.

7. Organize what you have disorganized.

8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.

9. Stop defining yourself.

10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.

11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.

12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.

13. Make work plans and accomplish them.

14. Do not take up too much space.

15. Make no useless movements or sounds.

16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.

17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.

18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.

19. Share fairly.

20. Do not seduce.

21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.

22. Do not speak of your personal problems.

23. Do not express judgment or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.

24. Do not establish useless friendships.

25. Do not follow fashions.

26. Do not sell yourself.

27. Respect contracts you have signed.

28. Be on time.

29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.

30. Say no more than necessary.

31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.

32. Never threaten anyone.

33. Keep your promises.

34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.

35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.

36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.

37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.

38. Help others to help themselves.

39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.

40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.

41. Transform your pride into dignity.

42. Transform your anger into creativity.

43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.

44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.

45. Transform your hate into charity.

46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.

47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.

48. Do not complain.

49. Develop your imagination.

50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.

51. Pay for services performed for you.

52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.

53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.

54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.

55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.

56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.

57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.

58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.

59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.

60. Do not keep useless objects.

61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.

62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.

63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.

64. Never define yourself by what you possess.

65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.

66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.

67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.

68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.

69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.

70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.

71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.

72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.

73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.

74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.

75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.

76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.

77. Live on money you have earned.

78. Never brag about amorous adventures.

79. Never glorify your weaknesses.

80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.

81. Obtain things in order to share them.

82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

Not being a fan of dogma, creed, or commandments in general, I admit I can find merit in many items on this list as suggestions for people to find their own path in life. Hell, if it worked for Tamika, it damn sure couldn’t hurt giving it a go.

So, sally forth, true believers and blasts from the past, and be making your own commandments and living by themingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

Vacancies, Vacancies Everywhere, Yet None of Them For Me

no-vacancies

My secret selves have been wandering my memory palace of late, searching for an empty room in which to steal a bit of solitude for I sometimes need to swaddle my internal dialogue in silence when even the quietest place on earth can offer me no rest.

You might have surmised correctly that I’ve been met with very little success.

Oh, there are rooms aplenty in which I enjoy the occasional lounge about, each filled with bric-à-brac I’ve accumulated along the way. Items or concepts or vagueries that may or may not find their way into a story, plot germs that piqued my interest for one reason or another, displayed neatly on shelves beside those things kept precious, but each of these pieces of me give off unique vibrations that assault my mind’s ear like anamnestic tinnitus.

A few of my unused characters who can afford the steep rent have made the suggestions that I either choose my favorite among them to room with, or take turns bunking with each for short periods as not to overstay my welcome.

But that really isn’t my style. I like the idea of knowing where characters are so that I might visit them and engage in brief social interactions when I’m in the mood, and leave them to their own devices when I’ve had my fill. And although I am quite capable of being alone in a crowded room, I cannot find solitude with people around, even ones I have breathed life into.

My irritation at not being able to claim residence within a place that I have been constructing since childhood is beginning to infect other areas of my life. My current location annoys me. My inability to write annoys me. The presence of other people annoys me. The sameness of the day annoys me. Even my annoyance at everything annoys me.

And so Wednesday comes round and I am attempting to build a new foundation for the memory palace extension on the lone and level sands of ground down ideas, in a new territory where the old housing rules may not apply. Eventually, when my hoarder nature reveals itself and this section of the palace becomes filled with miscellanea most likely better left forgotten…

I’ll repeat the process. Search for my own patch of solitude. Light a candle and still curse the darkness. Build another room. And fill it with possessions that squeeze me to the point of eviction.

But until then, sally forth and be buying me a nice room-warming giftingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

8 Simple Rules For Dating My Cthulhuian Daughter

Cthulhu

Hello, Brave Young Suitor

So, your plan is to court my daughter, is it? Please, step inside freely and of your own will. Once I have taken your coat, please make your way to the sitting room and help yourself to some refreshments. Be uninhibited and eat to your heart’s content. Gluttony is not frowned upon in this house. Neither is avarice or wrath, but you will discover all this if you make it past the vetting process.

What was that? My daughter never informed you that her mother and I intend to determine if you qualify to date the precious fruit of our loins? Her mistake. And yours, if you are not afraid. Our daughter is an extension of us and if you underestimate us then you are definitely underestimating her.

Do not be an underestimator.

The rules are simple and as follows:

One.

On the table to the right you will find three forms, one for consent, the second a waiver, and the final a non-disclosure. These must be read fully, initialed in the appropriate fields and signed and dated with the pen provided. When using the pen for the first time, some suitors have complained of a sharp pain in their writing hand. That is quite normal, I assure you. It is simply the pen’s piston converter filling device tapping an artery, as you will be signing in your own blood.

Two.

My wife will administer a unique personality test. Please endeavor to answer all the questions contained within truthfully as The Great Old Ones know when you lie and their retribution shall be swift and merciless. Be aware that we will not be accepting applicants who score below “Severely Aberrated.” Standards must be kept.

Three.

You will be escorted to a subterranean cavern and descend six thousand steps to a pit, seated with a shoggoth and made to read the Necronomicon – fleshbound volumes are available for purchase in my library for the insanely low price of your first born – front to back and back to front. You will do this aloud and the shoggoth will ask you questions at the end of each section to ensure proper comprehension.

Shoggoths are shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles. They are also extremely sensitive about their appearance. Avoid commenting on their faintly self-luminous skin, and the myriad temporary eyes that form and un-form like pustules. This is for your own safety as they are extremely hungry, and they are not herbivores.

Four.

You shall be put through your paces. I will endeavor to push you past the limits of your physical endurance while simultaneously quizzing you to determine your intelligence quotient. Your hormones will be set out of balance and your psyche unraveled, dissected and scrutinized to ensure that you are a suitable suitor. Not to fear. I will reassemble you in the exact manner in which I found you.

More or less.

You have signed a waiver, after all.

Five.

If you have completed the tests successfully, you will join the ranks of prospective suitors at a ceremony in the deep woods, where you will battle one another under the supervision of a protean deity whose name you will have committed to memory by that point.

Important to note: if the idea of death, evisceration, and dining on the organs of slain foes makes you feel even the slightest bit uneasy, perhaps you are not the proper match.

Six.

Once you emerge victorious, and hopefully whole, you must leave old puny mortal faiths by the wayside and chose a new path. Our daughter prefers the Esoteric Order of Dagon, while her mother and I are partial to the Church of Starry Wisdom, but there are others, such as the Brothers of the Yellow Sign, the Cult of the Skull, Chorazos Cult, the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, and so on. Do not be swayed by any of us. The choice is yours.

Nothing involving aliens and volcanoes, though.

Seven.

You must take a blood vow to serve my daughter, though the path will surely lead you into the depths of insanity. You pledge to sacrifice yourself without question in order to continue her existence, if called upon to do so. And you swear to take her hand in yours and spread the entropy until you revive the ancient, powerful deities who once ruled the Earth from their deathlike sleep and bring the Great Elder God back in power.

This is non-negotiable.

Eight.

You are finally free to date. And since we realize in modern society sexual activity amongst adolescents has become a commonality, her mother and I fully support this. The only proviso we have is that should a union occur, you shall not spill your seed. Nor shall you engage in any sort of contraception. We require younglings.

Our ranks are thinning.

Signature x:_________________

Welcome to the family!

Sally forth and be good to my daughter or else-ingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

I Am A Sentient Black Hole. Ask Me Anything.

Feeling a bit under the weather today, so instead of either skipping a week or tossing up some filler nonsense, I’ve decided to invite a guest blogger, who happens to be a character in one of my science fiction novellas.

Sally forth and be kind to my guest bloggeringly writeful.

— Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Sentient Black Hole

My name is Ganymedorah and I’m a sentient black hole keen to debunk stereotypes. Ask me anything.

The title says it all. In my recent travels throughout the universe, I found that many people know little to nothing about what it’s like to be me. Let’s change that!

saganosity How’d you come to be?

Ganymedorah Wow, a birds and bees question straight out of the gate. Okay, let’s see how to put this. Do you know what happens when two gigantic patches of darkness get so close to one another that they fall into each other? Well, sometimes, if they love each other very much, they take a honeymoon trip together. I am a result of a wild, crazy and uninhibited weekend.

SarahMcL If you had a pet, what kind would you choose and what would you name it?

Ganymedorah If I could own a pet, I’d probably choose an inverted supernova. I’d love to watch the little guy bury the bones of a dead solar system in the yard! And I’d name him Champagne, of course.

nkwyringmeyenz What fact still blows you away even though you’ve known about it forever?

Ganymedorah The universe is filled with empty calories. Seriously. I can eat and eat an incomprehensible amount of matter at an absurd speed and never put on a pound. Well, almost never. Sometimes I manage to put on a little water weight.

syfy4lyf Star Trek or Star Wars?

Ganymedorah Star Trek, original series. Nobody beats Shatner’s Kirk. Nobody. Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga should be sent to Rura Penthe for they way they killed the character off.

winstigator Do you think you could beat Centaurus A in a knife fight?

Ganymedorah Centaurus A is so full of shit, pardon my French, puffing up his chest and boasting that he’s a “giant galaxy.” If he ever looked at me sideways, I’d whup his superluminous central supermassive black hole butt without breaking a sweat.

fullostars What are your thoughts on Brian Cox, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku?

Ganymedorah Imagine that theoretical pub debate! If only I could find a place at the edge of the universe that pulled a proper pint. Time to whip out the old Hitchhiker’s Guide, methinks!

knows.e.parkour Tell us something you’ve never told anyone.

Ganymedorah I pick up broadcast signals all the time. Reality television is my guilty pleasure and I’m absolutely addicted to 90 Day Fiancé. Kirlyam is so friggin’ cute!

K-FitzMat Do you believe is ancient aliens?

Ganymedorah Believe in them? I still see them (there’s a whole weird bendable time thing that runs around and through me). I am totes timey wimey. Oh, and before you ask, yes, dinosaurs existed and no, they didn’t ride on the ark.

othrwhtmeet Do you like bacon?

Ganymedorah Duh, who doesn’t? Next question.

icanhazeuropa Is there life elsewhere in our solar system, particularly Mars, given the variable quantities of methane in its atmosphere that could suggest bacterial activity beneath the surface?

Ganymedorah Aw, man… y’all are really making me regret spilling the beans on the whole ancient aliens thing. Why would you want me to ruin that surprise for you? Wouldn’t it be better to discover it on your own?

xs10shal What never fails to blow your mind about humans?

Ganymedorah 1) That people always choose to pursue things that are the absolute worst for their emotional and physical well being.

2) That even the most vile among you are sometimes capable of acts of kindness so incredible as to make my gaseous heart feel as if it’s about to burst.

3) The Captain & Tennille divorce. I mean, who saw that coming?

tinfoilhat Conspiracy theorist here. Is there a secret society of black holes?

Ganymedorah If I told you, I’d have to drop you into a gravity well.

trebek2dafutr If you appeared on the game show Jeopardy, how do you think you would do?

Ganymedorah Depends on the categories. I’ve got Space, Science and Potent Potables on lock. Do the kids still say that? But I’d suck — sorry, black hole humor — at Pop-Music, Sports and Math. I would definitely make the first few rounds, especially if I hit a Daily Double but ultimately would lose the Final Jeopardy question. Wheel of Fortune? That’s an entirely different matter.

statnislndmedim What are your feelings on the afterlife, and are you scared to die?

Ganymedorah Without any hint of braggadocio, I, by my very nature, am too much of a good thing,to worry about my decomposition and demise. Too much mass, and too much gravity pushed together and collapsed into a single point with infinite density. In-fi-nite. I love the sound of that. Now, if I’m meant to die, I will not go gently into that good night, trust me. As for what awaits me on the other side, who knows? But I love a good mystery, me.

dollylamas Will our minds ever be able to truly comprehend our worth in the vastness of the universe?

Ganymedorah As long as you continue to ponder it. If I could impress one thing on people, it would it be to stare into the unknown and unknowable without fear and full of questions.

constellationkate Last night, a 900-foot asteroid was due to streak extremely close to Earth, but it just disappeared, leaving astronomers baffled. Do you know anything about that?

Ganymedorah Yup, and you’re welcome.

Burp.

Oops, pardon me.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

First Saturdays

Hi, my name is Rhyan and I’m a movie addict.

And an insomniac.

Native New Yorker, born in Manhattan, raised in The Bronx, and because I inherited my mother’s transient nature, I’ve managed to live in each of the five boroughs. Poor as a skunk’s misery, a church mouse, Job, Lazarus, and dirt. Hell, I’m still poor, and most likely always will be.

The best thing about growing up without anything is that you learn to make the most of what you’ve got, and distract yourself from what you haven’t got. My major distraction was television.

child-watching-television-silhouette

It was my babysitter, my tutor, and my secret friend that entertained me as the rest of the world slept. Its siren call would lure me into the living room, where I’d toss my blanket over the both of us so the light didn’t spill out of the room and give away my position. Then I’d plug my mono transistor radio earphone into the headphone jack and marvel at all the noir, horror and science fiction movies that played on CBS’ The Late Show, The Late Late Show, and The Late Late Late Show.

wcbs-1970-lateshow1

I was always a wreck in school the following day, but man, was it worth it.

The only thing that trumped this near nightly process was the first Saturday of the month. Like most poor folk, we were on welfare and this was before the Food Stamp bill was passed in 1970 which meant everything, rent, bills, and food monies arrived in the mailbox in one convenient check. The Saturday that followed check day was always considered my day. Wherever I wanted to go, wherever I wanted to play.

Tads

My playground of choice? 42nd Street. The first stop was Tad’s Steak House. Sure, the broiled steak was thin and more gristle than meat, the garlic bread was oilier than Brylcreem, the chocolate pudding coated with that yucky skin and a fountain Coke served in a large red plastic tumbler that smelled like the previous beverage it held… but to me it was pure heaven.

42nd

Then my mother gestured at the movie theaters that lined both sides of the street and said the most perfect thing anyone could have said to me at the time, “You can see all the movies you can stay awake for.”

These were once majestic movie houses that slowly transformed during the decline of New York City starting in the late 50’s into grindhouse theaters before grindhouse was even a word. Each one ran three films, usually one current and the others whatever was on hand.

On these magic Saturdays, I tore through Roger Corman flicks, Hammer Films, the Toho tokusatsu imports and so much more. All uninterrupted viewing aside from the occasional mom hand that would clamp over my eyes during nude or sex scenes. Only when I started to nod off was it time to head home, despite my protestations.

automat.net-1

On the way home, we’d stop off at the Horn & Hardart automat and my mother would dump tokens into my hand and send me off to fetch dinner from the individual glass door compartments. Even though it was only plain food — sandwiches, beef stew, and the like — there was something about slotting coins and retrieving a prize that appealed to me.

Optimo

The final detour before reaching home was the Optimo Cigars shop that had a spinning wire rack of comic books where I’d select my month’s reading material.

I realize this may not seem like any great shakes to you, but it remains the only positive memory I have of my mother — too long and too personal a story to go into here — and I can’t think of a better way to honor the anniversary of her passing.

Sally forth and be playground exploringly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License

A Rose by Any Other Voice

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“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” ― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

There are different types of stories. Some you share, some that transform themselves into other creative endeavors, some that are stillborn with no hope of resuscitation, and some that you hide from everyone, sometimes even yourself.

When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I wrote a story. One that I’ve never shared, one that will never transform itself into another work of art, one I have not read since its inception. But every so often when my mind settles into a rare resting mode and all my thoughts become inconsequential white noise, the story whispers to me so that I don’t forget it. It does what it needs to do in order to survive.

No, it’s not a true confession, nor is it based or inspired by true events. There’s no deep-seated ideological conviction behind it. It’s also not the most powerful or hard-hitting thing I’ve ever written. Hell, the thing isn’t even written in my voice. Chiefly because it’s not my story.

The story belongs to someone else, told to me in part before she died.

Rose loved to tell stories to take her mind off her illness, so we’d meet occasionally when her health allowed or sometimes talk over the phone and she would spin her vignettes. She wasn’t a professional writer so the stories were uneven and structurally unsound, but they were enjoyable nonetheless. She was witty and articulate and sometimes, but not too often, a good telling trumps structure.

And she continued telling stories until the pain became too much to bear, but before Rose died she said to me, “complete it,” and slow on the uptake as I can often be, I didn’t catch her meaning until months later.

It wasn’t an easy process. When I finally wrote the story down as close to verbatim as my past-its-sell-by-date memory could manage, I looked at the work and was confounded by what I could actually do with it. At first I wanted to restructure and outline everything so that I could plot a logical ending, but that wouldn’t have been true to Rose’s storytelling style. A style I had become very protective of.

In the end I decided this wasn’t a story that could be written, only transcribed, so I sat in front of a mirror with a digital recorder and recited the fragments Rose left me as a parting gift and traveled down a nonstructural road to see where it led me.

And I didn’t go it alone. I could feel Rose’s hand in mine, leading me down the path to the story’s final destination.

Sally forth and be damn-the-structure-and-just-tell-your-damned-storyingly writeful.

©2014 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

Creative Commons License