Archive | May, 2012

Weekly Update 4: 5/30/2012

30 May

I want to apologize for making this post so late. Much of this last week has been extremely hectic because I had relatives in town. Because of this, I was unable to make time for a lot of my normal writing pursuits (hence my obvious delay). And while I’m sad to see them go, I am also happy I can buckle back down and get back to work! Speaking of work, even with visiting relatives, a lot managed to happen in the last few days worth reporting and noting!

Short Stories:

So far, I’m only working on “A Post Card from Heaven.” I expected to be done by now, but I never anticipated it absorbing so much of my mental capacity. It’s one of those projects I can’t stop thinking about yet I refuse to write more than 50-100 words a day because I want it to be perfect. One of my projects is again demonstrating why one should never give a pen to a perfectionist. But I can not only guarantee that this story will the best short story I have ever penned, it will also be worlds above “Eden.” While I love that story dearly, I’m glad to already be surpassing my abilities of just a few weeks ago.

Flash Fiction:

I have no Flash Fiction to report on.

Poetry:

The poem “The House My Father Built” is complete and has been submitted to the Contributor Network. Hopefully it will be accepted. You guys will be the first to know if so! The plan is to keep it a secret until Father’s Day so I can surprise my dad with it. I’m sure he’ll like it.

Other Media:

With the hectic week, I haven’t had any time to pursue anything else. But I am still interested in song-writing so I might just give that a shot this week. Time allowing, of course.

Articles:

Alongside yet another article being accepted on Yahoo, I set up an account on Textbroker. So far, my only complaint is that after maybe three days and five articles, they had to freeze my account to grade the quality of what I’m creating. That’s the bad news. The good news is I’ve made a few dollars in that time and not a single article was rejected. It’s kind of cool to be batting 1.000- not going to lie. But I just have to keep working hard at it to continue that success. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the site, I can’t directly link you to the articles I’ve written. That’s fine though. All you have to do is go to the site and search my name and presto! You can see for yourself.

Other:

I’ve been painstakingly reading my novel again (for what has to be the seventh total time). I don’t know how other novelists have avoided beating their own heads in with their creations in the final stages. Despite the impending insanity, I will contend that it gives me a deep pleasure to be reading my own tale. Not only because it’s so close to completion, but because it’s actually a decent story. That was my biggest concern: creating something terribly boring. Luckily, it appears that this could really be something. The prospect is exciting.

Hey, this list is never too full. If you have a piece you need written, or are in search of a flexible freelance writer, e-mail me at peterlicari13@gmail.com.

Caustic Countdown:5/28/12

29 May

My high school cross-country coach was a man of interesting axioms. He, of course, would offer certain quirky phrases as we ran (“Arms, Arms, Arms!” and “Relax to Run Fast” happened to be his favorites), but by far his most memorable has to do with- well- high school stupidity. He would always tell us “I want you guys to know that I love you as people…but you sure do make some interesting choices with your lives!” I thought it was the optimal attitude to have in regards to humanity: love your fellow man, but still admit that he can be a freaking moron (it’s like having your cake and eating it too!). So this week, we tip our hats to three individuals who have, recently, made some very interesting decisions with their lives.

3: Creative Videography

It may or may not come as a shock, but several people really seem to hate their local meteorologist. Maybe it’s because the uncertainty of weather and the uncertainty of man coagulates into a frustrated heap of failed predictions. Maybe it’s because people are envious of the fact that television meteorologists get to draw on a board, perform guesswork in front of thousands of people daily, and rake in an average of $85,000 a year. If everyone had this job you could be that every day some outlandish prediction would be made like, I don’t know, a meteor passing within 30,000 kilometers of Earth. I mean, what’s the likelihood of that?

Given this disdain, it’d be understandable if weather reporters somehow concocted a way to ensure the accuracy of their predictions- or even their on site reporting. But how could they accomplish this? Last time I checked, the doomsday machines controlling the weather were banned by the UN (seriously). Well, they could just kick sand to give the cheap illusion of 60Km/hr winds. Sure. Why not?

According to the hyperlinked article above, the weather conditions that the Romanian reporter was trying to emulate actually were occurring; they just calmed down before he hit the scene. So instead of reporting that the storm has miraculously passed, he felt it more prudent to have his camera man kick sand into his face as he reported on the storm that has passed. Unfortunately, this gaffe was immediately picked up on by even the least observant viewers as said production assistant was still in frame. Fortunately, both men get to keep their job. In fact, no report of them even receiving a formal reprimand has come to light. Instead, the station is simply shrugging and saying essentially “hey, it’s not doctored.” At least that’s an assertion that can’t be disputed. Rain or shine.

2: Pretty Ceremony, Petty Bride.

We’ve all been a little strapped for cash. This economy is tough; it wears down on people. But, as a wise man once said, there will always be life, liquor, and love- so why not just continue on with the weddings? (obviously, they are the perfect combination of all three). Well, considering that the price tag of a wedding is nearly half of the average American’s salary, there’s understandable trepidation about tying the knot. But hard times often inspires the creative side of people. It just so happens that no one qualified that these creative solutions had to be considered ethical. But, I mean, it’s not like someone will just go out and blatantly lie to fund their dream wedding? OK. No one will try to play the pity card to fund the wedding? Drats, OK, once more. No one will blatantly lie about dying of cancer soon after their wedding to swindle well wishers into giving money… You know what? I give up at this game.

That’s right. A New York bride has been convicted of faking a cancerous condition to elicit sympathetic donations for her “dream wedding.” Soon after the wedding, however, the husband alerted the police to the fact that his new beau was simply a liar. How he figured it out wasn’t explicitly mentioned- so I’ll just go off on a fictitious limb and say it was presumably from all of the calls asking either a) how his soon to be dead wife was doing or b) why his soon to be dead wife wasn’t dead yet. Such inquiries would be a real head-scratcher to any spouse.

Predictably, the couple has gotten a divorce but, scandal alert, he was there to pick her up from the jail cell as she was released. Do I detect the flame of romance being reignited? Readers, I honestly don’t give enough of a damn about their private lives to say (this isn’t TMZ after all). I will say this however: how twisted would it be if this was just something on the couple’s bucket list?

1:

There has been a lot of publicized hype about the immigration issues in the United States. However you stand on the fence with these issues (badum-ping), it can be agreed that we are at least attempting to limit the number of illegals entering. But with every advantageous means we employ, it can be assured that someone will craftily dodge or work around the issue. We’ve seen it time and time again in criminality- people will always try to be one step ahead of law enforcement.

On occasion, it helps to be in a pair of wheels designed to look like a UPS truck. You know, to have an advantage. Not to fulfill some child-like dream to become an international postman travelling between the U.S. and Mexico…while also being a secret agent…and trapeese artist. What? Some people like to retain their imagination.

Apparently, the car was decked out to look like a true UPS vehicle. It even had the unmistakable actual American citizen driving the damn thing to increase its authenticity. The difference is, besides the obvious fact that this vehicle didn’t deliver parcels but a baker’s dozen worth of illegals, may only lie in the color value of the logo. This van is just one of an emerging trend called “cloned vehicles.” And while the title may spark images of Optimus Primes lined up ad infinitum, they’re merely the creation and modification of vehicles so as to appear less obvious.

The cleverest of facades can’t pass through the immovable force of bureaucratic policy! The truck and passengers were caught and arrested at a routine inland vehicle check about 50 miles from the border. One can only hope they made their interesting decision even more so by deciding to exit the vehicle dressed as cardboard robots. They may not be transformers, but they apparently know how to hide in plain sight!

Guest Post: Jeffree Howell

25 May

It’s that time again where I extend my hand out to a fellow writer and offer them control over the blog. Today, I leave the reigns in the very capable hands of my good friend Jeffree Howell. I’ve known Jeff for quite a while now; in fact, he and I went to high school together. I always knew he was a creative individual, but it wasn’t until we reaquainted ourselves that I began to understand the depth of his thoughts. He generally prefers a soft, yet brief style- allowing little deviation from the truth he dissects. His diction is congruent with a direct, straight-to-the-point format that is usually indicative of a naive voice. His advanced thoughts and concepts dispel that notion and illuminate the true nature of his words. They are elegant in their elementary simplicity and express a deeper meaning that is usually reserved until the final sentiments. He does not currently have a blog or other means to contact him- other than to search for him on Facebook. Without any further adieu, I present the work of Jeffree Howell

Gone Fishing

There she sits, still as an obelisk in Egypt. Calm as the dirt of Montana. Waiting for that
one nibble at her hook. The fish aren’t biting today. Something seems to have scared them off.
Perhaps it’s me. I’m not a usual sight in this park. I generally avoid nature if I can. Today is
different. Today, she asked me to come. To show me the wonders of fishing. To show me that
even though we are doing nothing, we are always doing something. For us, it is simply fishing.
Sitting here with our poles up watching the lure bob up and down. Yet, even though we’re
fishing, we really aren’t. We are really enjoying the other’s company. Reminds me of when we
met. I had been fishing in my own way. Using lines at pulling on any nibble I could find. She
hadn’t taken the bait. I had had to catch her in a net before she paid any attention to me. Since
then, she hasn’t left my side. This trip was her idea though and I went along with it. So, here I
sit, fishing like I used to and beginning to realize. I was fishing all those years looking for
something that wasn’t there. What I was always looking for was a girl who would teach me more
about myself than about feminine hygiene products. What I had been searching for wasn’t a fish.
And neither was she.

If you or someone you know would like to get some publicity by being a guest author, e-mail me with inquiries at peterlicari13@gmail.com

Reading Notes: Devil At My Heels- Part 1

24 May

I knew immediately when I started reading the book that I was going to like it an awful lot. My reasons are pathetically simplistic though; I always love books with distance runners as protagonists. Maybe it’s a skewed perspective (it’s hard to truly judge one’s own reflection), but any character who runs distances exceeding a mile wins my adoration. I see them as hard-working, dedicated, and honorable. Maybe it’s because I know from first hand experience the sort of physical and psychological demands such pursuits place upon a man. Maybe it’s because I see their success and hope that I can reach it myself. Maybe it’s because through the sport we are linked as distant kin and I always like to see family (even if we are existentialy related) in a positive light. Maybe, maybe, maybe- I could ruminate all night.

But what continued to entice me through the first few chapters is that the author, Louis Zamperini, didn’t even see himself in such a positive light. The autobiographical account is, in fact, so brutally honest that the readers are shocked into reading more. It’s not hard to understand why. We as readers love to have human characters, people we can relate to in benefice and folly alike. Most of the time, we just choose to ignore the folly. Zamperini is both blessed and cursed with the absence of invention. His life reads like the most incredulous of novels. But it’s not solely because of the exciting people he met, or his coincidental placement in major historical events (if it was, I’d might as well read Forrest Gump). It’s because of his hypnotic honesty, his unadulterated truth, that this reads so brilliantly. The prose has been incredibly conversational through the first sixty pages and I honestly hope it continues this way. I feel as if he is singling me out of a crowd of thousands while simultaneously addressing every other sole just as prominently. It’s a remarkably flattering style that’s all too rare in autobiographical accounts these days.

The first two decades of his life would be enough for him to write books and tour off of. He grew from rugged, delinquent behavior into an olympian. If that isn’t a rags-to-riches story then, hell, I don’t know what is. But it’s how he delivered his story, how he never shied away from his past, that continues to mesmerize me. He placed eighth at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Anyone somewhat familiar with history could tell you that this particular Olympiad was memorable by immaculate streets, incredible competition, and Nazi banners peppering the skyline. Zamperini tells of his views of Hitler as a child, how he and fellow Olympians would salute the Führer, and how he stole a Nazi flag (which was recovered and later gifted to him anyways) just so he could remember his good times in Nazi Germany. For God’s sake, this is a man who admitted to meeting Hitler and brushing it off (then and now) as unremarkable. Gutsy sentiments considering the understandable atmosphere we live in today. He states off the bat that he’s not a supporter, but he never excuses the opinions and ideas he had as a child. He never shies away from his past.

His honesty isn’t just reserved for remembrances of dictators. He vividly discusses what it feels like to be “lucky in the wrong way.” How he desperately wanted to fit in yet violently punished those who initially disliked him. He recounts being both tormentor and victim never eliciting sympathy or disdain. Instead, he accomplishes a remarkable intimacy. We grow to know him as a human being instead of as distant words on a page. We are taken by the hand and see reality through his eyes- and we are shocked by its candor. Louis Zamperini gives us a highly reflective window with his prose. One which sees him and his world while simultaneously showing us ourselves. His words act as a link to our mutual humanity. His honesty almost makes it tangible.

I really can’t wait to read more and see what other incredible, veritable, adventures lie in store for this remarkable man.

Weekly Update 3: 5/22/2012

23 May

I was spot on in my prediction last week when I insisted that the now proceeding seven days were bound to be eventful. The best part, though, is that everything that happened this last week was incredible. Everything seemed to just fall into place, as if these last  few days were part of a beautiful cosmic puzzle. I had levels of unprecedented success- I didn’t even receive a single rejection slip! It’s very rare when life seems to coincide perfectly to your aspirations; I guess it was one of those weeks that made me excited for present prospects and for future opportunities. Of course, if I want to continue to improve my luck, I need to continually work hard  to improve my skill set. One must never rest on the accomplishments of the past if he wants to be remembered. It’s a curiosity actually: the more one pushes into the future, the more they solidify their eternal legacy.

Short Stories:

Here again, Eden is taking precedent. I swear, this story is like a stubborn college -grad refusing to move out of the basement. It still hasn’t been accepted by the Yahoo Contributor Network, but it stands a really good chance at being so. The only obstacle is time- and since it is an adversary incapable of acquiring casualties, it’s probably best to just be patient. As per the usual, I’ll post up to the minute updates on twitter.

I think I’m going to call “Jumper” “The Descent.” I think it fits both the theme, subject matter, and epic twist at the end. (Enjoy the link. I saw the post and couldn’t stop laughing about it).

I’m working on another piece now that “The Descent” is done. It’s called “A Postcard From Heaven” and it’s another science fiction piece. It’s sort of dystopian, but the wording flows rather well and I’m hoping that the ending leaves an impact… Believe it or not, I actually got the inspiration behind a 9gag post. I love sites like that- it’s amalgamated creativity all packed into your computer screen.

Flash Fiction:

As I mentioned last week, one of my flash fiction pieces “I asked. He answered.” has been published. For more information follow the previous link or click here to read the story itself.

Poetry:

Finally! Poetry is getting some action! I have accepted an assignment to write a Father’s day piece. What I like is that other than the general theme, I get to choose the content matter. Which is excellent because I really love the artistic freedom given in such a construct. I must confess won’t be entirely original though; I intend to re-write a poem I completed about a six months ago titled “The House My Father Built.” Other than the title and some titular repetition, I intend to completely rework the piece. I’m really excited to pay homage to fathers with this piece- especially my own. I don’t know where I would be without the love and support of my Dad. It’s an honor to be able to articulate that to a wide audience.

Other Media:

A few friends and I decided to create a parody of the famous “Epic Rap Battles of History” series titled “Epic Math Battles of History.” We used it as an opportunity to showcase our inner nerds and put integral calculus against differential calculus. Now, the video itself is actually quite terrible (I won’t even put a link to it out of respect to your brain cells), but I will post the lyrics on notyourcommonlunacy.tumblr.com for your amusement. A friend of mine DjZeroWolf heard the song and asked if I could put some lyrics to a couple of his mixes. I’m seriously considering it too if I have some free time. Why not add song-writer to the repertoire?

Articles:

The article on Yahoo has been accepted- and I even received a few dollars out of it!

The Cracked article hasn’t been submitted yet; honestly I ran out of hours last week. I’m excited to post it and hopefully inspire readers through humor.

Other:

My novel has finally finished its editing and now I move forward towards self-publication. At this point, the only thing remaining is to create a cover and then publish it. I’m debating as to whether or not I should do it myself. Most likely, I’ll end up giving it to my friend Iresha who’s a close friend and a fantastic artist. One has to remember their friends if they want to go far in life. Not only are they invaluable connections, but they’re the people who’ll sit down and trudge through your manuscripts and be your biggest fans. Keep them close.

Hey, this list is never too full. If you have an article you need written, or are in search of a flexible freelance writer, e-mail me at peterlicari13@gmail.com.

Post: I asked. He answered.

19 May

Great news! I had another flash fiction piece published!

Granted, I don’t get any financial compensation but the pride I receive in being published makes it worth it. An old sage once said “if you love something, you’ll do it for free.” And while I’d love to be able to make money writing (hence why you can email me to request my freelancing services), I have no qualms about gaining readership by writing for free initially.

However, if there’s one thing I do hold qualms over it’s the destruction of literature by relentlessly pursuing hidden meanings. Granted, as a writer, I will tell you unabashedly that every piece I write and submit for publication has symbolism. That being said, it doesn’t need to be beat to death by an analytical mob. Sometimes water means rebirth, sometimes it means cleansing. Other times, it means the characters are bloody thirsty. One of the most execrable sins against literature is to distort the intentions of the author by over-analyzing his words. Taking words and applying them to one’s personal meaning is one thing; that’s what it means to be art. Insisting that one’s personal view is somehow the sole intrinsic truth within the piece is egregious. So, in order to solve this and make sure that my meanings are clear to prevent future convolution, I am recording my thought processes and intentions. Not to limit the scope of the reader, but to allow them to understand the piece under a different paradigm and perhaps gain a deeper appreciation of it.

The name of the piece is “I asked. He answered.” And like numerous other flash fictions pieces, the title is imperative. The idea is to set the premise that you, the reader, is the primary actor within the play. When you are the actor, when you are the individual asking the question and receiving the answer, there is a psychological predisposition to feel a connection to the piece itself.

Right off the bat, there is entirely a different speaker presented. Why? Why would I go through all the trouble of initiating you as a character and then put another individual within the spotlight? It seems counter-intuitive. That’s fine. It’s how I want it to seem. But I want for you to feel deeply connected, as if you should be in the spotlight. You should have center stage. Damn it, you deserve center stage! Who the hell does this character think he is? He’s not real, he’s a figment of my imagination- you’re an inhabitant of reality. You’re above this creation. At least you feel that way. I want you to carry this primed sensation of superiority.

But what he tells you is confusing. He explains to you that he is indifferent to being imprisoned even if you would want him to feel stronger emotions. This configurations of sentiments is meant to be primordially empowering. This entity which you wanted beneath you has been revealed to be just that. His insistence that you want more though indicates that you are in control. He may be in the spotlight, but you control the light. His indifference does put you off, but the dualistically open-ended and resolute nature to his first assertion entices you to know more.

His last sentence is what gets you. It’s a sucker punch in twelve words. You realize that he isn’t giving the staunch callousness of assumed superiority. He’s demure in subservience. The spotlight is his prison and you are his captor. You realize here that you asked him a question as a tyrannical overseer. And that he answered as a stronger man than most could ever be.

This isn’t meant to make you feel inferior or guilty. The piece is meant to shock the system with the rapid change between two extremes. On the one hand, you feel primal power and jealousy. On the other, within a few syllables, you feel incredible guilt. This almost immediate transition of extremes is indeed reflected in the title. “I asked. He answered.” Notice how the second sentence is the complete opposite of the first? This is the hint at what the piece aimed for. As I said before, the title is extremely important.

Even the wording primes for this awkward transition. Notice the sharp assonance in the first sentence and yet how it simultaneously refuses to flow. As if it could possibly be what you want, yet it sub-textually refuses to do so. Everything about this piece was designed to simulate the sudden departure of power and the immediate transition between two extremes.

Where you choose to go from here with this play on extremes is entirely your licence as a reader. I hope you enjoy it.

Book Notes: Flatland

18 May

There have been few books which have been as innately challenging, yet as incredibly fascinating as Edwin Abbott’s classic novel Flatland. Part satire, part treatise on multi-dimensional perception, this book both entertains and illuminates readers to multiple complexities commonly glossed over in rudimentary geometry classes.

The premise of the book at first appears to be for jest and humor using simple mathematics as its premise. Divided into two distinct parts, the first matter-of-factly describes the physics, laws, and idiosyncracies of a two-dimensional reality. The tale is directed by a sentient square who inhabits a position of moderate power and merit within his society. Here the speaker discusses what is seen and perceived within the metaphysical bounds of his world. To be frank, it’s a real head scratcher. For starters, since they exist within a two-dimensional plane, they are forced to see everything as a single line. As Abbott skillfully describes, imagine taking a penny and looking at it directly from above. Your vision will perceive it to be a single line. Thus is how all of Flatland is seen by its inhabitants.

Not all who exist here live as perfect squares. Indeed, Abbott used a system of generational ascension to describe the multitudinous shapes which also picks fun at the rigid social movement found within the reader’s world. In Flatland, “humans” begin as simple triangles. Servants, slaves, and career soldiers occupy this class of polygon with individual types of triangles being reserved for specific sects. However, like in reality, upwards mobilization in this society is damn near impossible. In Flatland, merit does not improve one’s shape, although execrated action can degrade it. The shape can only be improved by subsequent generations. I.e., a square and his wife (we’ll get to the women in a moment) will foster a pentagon. A pentagon’s offspring will be a hexagon. Eventually, after roughly “300-400” generations, the near-innumerable angles within the figure will be close enough to resemble a circle. But escaping the burden of triangular limitations is insanely difficult. Each generation of triangle will only increase their angular proportions not their angular counts. And this increase is minimal at best; the immediate posterity of a triangle with a 30 degree angle will be a triangle with an angle of 30 degrees and 30 minutes (or 30.5 degrees). The ultimate goal being the perfect 60 degree rating of an equilateral triangle, which upon being reached finally opens the door to actual improvement.

Women are also satirized in conjunction to social mobility. In the novel, women are single lines (which are thus perceived as points). This “of course” leaves no room for any organs deemed non-vital for proper women. Amongst these includes, ironically enough, a brain. That’s right. Flatland includes women without an actual brain. Thus women are highly emotional, irrational, and stupid. Education is given to them as a means of convention and it frankly goes in one “ear” and out the other. But because of their violent nature and pointed nature, they are extremely dangerous to cross. Apparently Hell hath no fury transcends all dimensions of space. Being assaulted by a woman in Flatland is comparable to being shot by a bullet here in reality. Except that the bullet doesn’t constantly scream, rage, and murder your children. It’s almost impossible not to laugh at this scathingly bitter satire which barely tries to hide its condemnation at the discriminatory practices of society here in reality.

However, the book makes a ready transition from social commentary to a thought-provoking essay on multi-dimensional perception. Keep in mind, this book not only came out before string theory, but before relativity! Yet, some of the concepts postulated would strike anyone reading the book as well-developed and exceptionally modern.

I wish I had read this book when I was writing The Dimensional Constant; many of the concepts of appearances at differing dimensions are strikingly similar. It’s one of those moments where you realize with pride that an idea that originated between your own ears is featured prominently within a verifiably brilliant cult classic. It’s also one of those moments where you sit back and think “son of a bitch, I thought I came up with this idea!”

Ultimately, our square speaker tires to pass off the wisdom of his two-dimensional universe to a universe limited to lines and points. (Points, again, being women. It seems like no matter in which dimension you live in, if it’s before the 1920’s, ladies don’t seem like they’re able to catch a break.) The book shows the difficulty in discussing things which supersede certain realities. When a three-dimensional creature then comes to discuss the higher dimension with the square, his mind is sufficiently blown. Or, whatever passes for a mind within the rigid parameters of four points.

Ultimately, Flatland is a scathingly funny social commentary with profound intellectual content hidden in plain sight… I had to seriously defeat the urge to use say plane sight. You’re welcome.

This novel will come of great use when I’m presented with the need to avoid conventional ways to describe the contours and nuances of the physical world. Furthermore, I’m always happy to snag a book dealing primarily with perception (especially since my next novel will deal with that. But shhh. Sorry. No spoilers yet).

I would strongly insist that anyone read this book, especially someone with a strong background in geometry read the book. Or anyone who knows the difference between a square and hexagon. The language is seriously that inclusive. You may have to Wikipedia a couple of unfamiliar concepts or a bit of outdated vernacular. But ultimately, the book provides a read that was so far ahead of its time, it feels right at home within our own.