Sunday, August 1, 2010


A year. One set of 365 days (More now, as of this writing.). The Maztorphyl has been up and running, to one or another degree, for that long now. Now I’m not going to waste too much of your and my time explaining my posts’ frequency, which I’ll admit rivals the inconsistency of the Highlander TV/movie franchise story arc. Still, I like to think that in the past year I’ve put out quality posts, even at the expense of quantity, and to me that’s much more important.

To be sure, I’ve started this post several times, but each time stopped for one reason or another. Suffice it to say that it boils down to the fact that I really haven’t done much writing for awhile now. The novel? Nope. My journal? Uh-uh. The odd pretentious quatrain? Not even a metre.

Why? I just haven’t had it in me. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. I’ve had that nightmare before and this isn’t it. Granted, I’ve honored the odd freelance work I’ve managed to beg out of people, but other than that it’s been a bit of a creative wasteland for me.

There have been some technical difficulties with which I’ve had to contend, in the form of a series of viruses that disabled my computer sometimes for weeks at a time, with the coup de grace finally occurring just this week. But, as I mentioned to some friends, that’s why God created libraries.

So, what shall I do for this little contribution to my small, Chaotic corner of the Internet that won’t end a long, paranoid tirade of why the world is against me that will give the pricks of the world the satisfaction and others the opportunity to deluge me with messages of “Aw, everything will be okay,” (Those of you who read my “Angst” post know that I find far more annoyance than comfort in such trite expressions of fake sympathy.)?

I thought about doing a review of The Last Airbender, a movie I’ve been waiting to come out for a long time now. But there’s nothing I’d say that hasn’t been said already: while visually appealing, the acting was superficial, the casting in most cases was mismatched, and in the end I was left with the same sense of Cliffnotesian dissatisfaction I got from David Lynch’s version of Dune.

How could M. Night Shyamalan have solved at least some of these problems? By either adding another good two hours to the film or turning it into a miniseries a la SyFy’s Dune (I say the latter with some reservation, though, as anyone would who saw how badly that channel screwed the pooch with Ursula K. Le Guin’s already-mediocre Earthsea Trilogy. But then, SyFy’s been doing a lot of screwing the pooch lately, much like the Crackpot-Apocalypse-Conspiracy-Theory Channel—I mean—History.)

Or, I thought about doing a food review, but outside of Nico’s and McDonald’s I really haven’t been out to eat anywhere, so that’s a dead end.

Sociopolitical commentary, perhaps? Just did that and this blog is about Chaos and diversity.

Travel story? To where, the local Circle-K?

Maybe a light-hearted misadventure with the family would be good. Not.

So then I decided to just make this the next post, and call it good.

Whatcha think?

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. –Mark Twain

Every country has the government it deserves. –Joseph de Maistre

Dirty. –Dee Snider, front man for the rock band Twisted Sister, describing how he felt after testifying before Congress during the PMRC hearings.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong it's reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. –Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

This is not the piece I originally planned to do. Nope. I started out with a concept by which I would use this whole debacle surrounding health care reform as a foil to shed light on a few things I saw through the entire sordid affair, things that went well beyond one legislative bill, and use them as an indictment of the dysfunctionality of our system as a whole.

I was going to start off giving a quick synopsis of my own Aristotelian sociopolitical worldview and how, in short, the more left OR right someone swings, the more full-of-shit I think they are, blah, blah, blah. Then I was going to detail how no one, left or right, Democrat or Republican, socialist or Tea Partier, or anyone else in between for that matter, is coming out of this mess with clean hands or an unstained soul.

Was I going to present some grand, epiphanic revelation on how this nightmare can be righted, and how everyone will go back to giving each other all sort of hugs and kisses and treating each other with the respect and good will that we Americans should express?

Uh, no.

Although my day job is in healthcare, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, in contrast to the talking heads out there who say they have all the answers, I don’t. I have not the expertise, education nor experience. Besides, one of the down sides of working in healthcare’s trenches is that if I were to pop my head over the edge and take a look at no-man’s land, I’m liable to get it shot off.

I have had experience working in what, ironically enough, could be described as socialized medicine, that is, military medicine. I wasn’t impressed. On the other hand, military medicine isn’t the only industry model in the world, and philosophically I do believe in the right of everyone to have affordable, comprehensive healthcare. But will healthcare reform as it stands be the most effective for the American people? I have not a freaking clue.

In fact, I’m going to go out on another limb here and confess that my only resources for what current healthcare reform entails originated from clearly bent, hyperbolic and pretentious diatribes vomited out by fanatical, demagogic and self-righteous lawmakers (on both sides of the isle) so far down the back pockets of corporate and other special interest groups they can use the lint as comforters, as well as the blatant, yellow journalism crapped out by the squawk boxes on the radio and so-called cable “news” channels. So as you can imagine I’m taking both resources with a very large grain of salt.

(Author’s note: Yes, I know. You’re thinking that perhaps then I should not be speaking at all on this subject. But hey, I’m writing a novel, read The Golden Bough, working full time and trying to be some kind of good husband and father to my family, so something’s got to give. That being said, it’s not healthcare reform itself, philosophically speaking, that’s pissing me off. Rather, it’s the maladjusted culture surrounding it and the rest of the country that’s getting under my hide. I do hope to get to it eventually, in whatever form it takes.)

But then, as I reflected on what I would say and the chasm-like depth of this issue’s severity, I thought, why bother?

A new age has come to our country, one that has seen the final death-rattle of what I believe Woodrow Wilson described as a “community of power” and the rise of fascistic factionalism. From the conceited gloating of the Democrats to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) promising no more non-partisan agreements to Tea Partiers spitting racial epithets to the vandalism of both Democrat and Republican congressional offices, why should I add my voice to this orgiastic cacophony of squabbling hate and ill will?

Those that agree with me may laud me, but fiery licks of insults and threats will surely come from those who don’t. And those who don’t care will just—not care. They’ll do nothing, even when the house is burning down around them. No one, NO ONE possesses mutual respect and consideration anymore. No one is willing to listen to the other guy and say, “Hey, you’ve got a point there. Maybe we can work things out. What do you think of my idea…?”

That’s right. I’m talking about you. So get up, go into your bathroom, take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Where do I stand?” And I blame myself. Even as I vent my spleen on this computer, I accept my share of the blame that the country I love has drifted so far from its ideals, that somehow, somewhere along the line, both political sides decided that their side knew what was best for the country, and the other camp was at best wrong and at worst treasonous. I don’t get that, and I fear for the Republic.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


You know, I love the Holidays. I just freaking LOVE them! And no, before you misread into it I am not being sarcastic. I don’t know what it is that makes them just so stupendous in my mind. Yes, it’s hectic to the point of exhausting, time-sucking mania at times (Author’s note: Owing to the lateness of this post. Sorry everybody.), as well as expensive and frustrating and many more potentially negative traits besides, but something about it still makes me count the days every year until it comes.

A lot of people hate it, loath its arrival and celebrate its departure. It’s all good and well for them. I can’t help, however, to wonder if they are missing the point of it all, the togetherness, goodwill and charity that seem so lacking in our world for the rest of the year.

Maybe it’s the food. As some of you are no doubt aware, food holds a special place in my heart. Growing up in a large, loud, food-friendly family I guess it means much more to me than just something to eat. To me it is symbolic of good times, of family togetherness and stopping to take a few minutes to pay attention to what is really important in life. But more on that later.

My foodiness aside, I’m lucky enough to have my birthday smack in the middle of “the most wonderful time of the year.” In my youth and as a twin, it served as a constant reminder of what a bunch of cheap bastards some of my relatives could be. But now that I’m older it seems all I want is a good day: to see my kids’ faces light up, to reconnect with family and friends as well as enjoy, of course, the mountains of holiday food. This drives my family crazy. My refusal to create a Christmas gift list beyond the, “all I want is a good day,” just sends their lips a-snarling and their eyes a-twitching! During one flustered moment, Mom just wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I broke down and said, “underwear and socks,” which is code for “No Mom. All I want is a GOOD DAY!” She showed me up, though. On Christmas morning she handed me two industrial-sized gift bags packed with tightie-whities and tubers.

My daughter got me good as well. Before going to the mall for gift shopping, she asked me what book I would like to get. Thinking myself very clever and cunning, I picked a book I really wanted to read for reasons that will be explained later, but ignorantly thought out-of-print: Miyamoto Musasahi’s The Book of Five Rings. You can imagine my surprise when BAM! there it was under the tree.

And now that we are out of the holiday season and have begun a new year, I consider it an ideal time for a little retrospection and introspection, as well as resolve to make our lives better in the coming year.

No, this is not an article about my New Years resolutions. I’ve long made a point to stay clear of that trite Bandwagon of Journalistic Death. Besides, now that the first month of the year is already behind us, that ship sailed a while ago. My resolutions aren’t all that unique anyway: get in the gym more, lose 50 pounds and get my cholesterol below critical mass by the 2010 Holidays so I can gain it all back again; finally return to my calling full-time in a town (Tucson) where there isn’t very much of a calling for my calling, to be quickly followed by an angry monkey flying out of my butt; and spend more quality time with the family.

No, this has to do with that Heaven and Hell of every writer: my next novel.

This will be my second novel. After some seven years of writing, rewriting and searching high and low for an agent or publishing house to help it into print, my first attempt at extended literature now sits in a box inside my garage, slowly collecting dust. I don’t consider it a waste, though. Every step to its creation was an invaluable learning experience that will serve me well in the development of the next work.

I can’t say writing the next novel was a New Years resolution, either. I’m a little quirky like that. My creative process in part lends itself to a little schizophrenia at times. For a long time now, I’ve viewed the images and heard voices in my head that will make up parts of the new work, discarding some, changing others, connecting the fragments into a general whole. Here and there, I’d come across or research a random vignette I felt would make a good addition to the work’s flavor, and put it aside for safe keeping until that voice in my head would say that it’s time. But as for actually putting some real time and effort I’m sad to say it hasn’t happened yet, until now, because just a few days after Christmas, I opened my eyes to the alarm clock and heard those two words in my head, “It’s time.”

And what is the story about, you ask? I can’t tell you. It’s one of those I’m-sorry-you-found-out-now-I’ll-have-to-kill-you-it’s-nothing-personal-it’s-business-you-understand things. I will say that it is a heroic fantasy and, had the first novel been published, it would have been second in the saga. I’ve gotten the ball rolling pretty well so far, too. I’ve just started reading The Golden Bough by James Frazer, a work I’ve only sampled in the past, and I’ve already finished reading both Rings and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

(Another Author’s Note: You ever been taught or read something by someone who strikes you instantly as someone who just KNOWS, that what they are imparting to you isn’t just some information they in turn were taught beforehand, but rather is, in fact, a part of them, that every sentence they speak/write is followed by the rolling chant of Gregorian monks? That’s what I felt while reading both Rings and War, and I’m rapidly developing that feeling again with Bough.)

The just-writing part I am beginning in earnest as well, but with a novel things are a little more complicated that a short story or blog post. While the overall story arc is on place in my head, the actual scene-by-scene plotlines are as full of holes as a politician’s campaign promises. My creative process isn’t like, say, Terry Brooks, a lawyer by training who writes in a very lawyerly way, with copious notes ending in just a couple drafts of prose (Sometimes the Magic Works). On the other hand, I’m not someone like Steven King, either, who writes what comes to him while in the moment (On Writing), although I do admit I am very envious of the prolific nature of his works. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, as well as borrow a little bit of both. What I have in my head will be easy enough, but to solve the holes will require the lion’s share of the research and plot outlining.

Still, once I’ve got the rough draft written (a feat I hope to accomplish by the end of the year) the work has only just begun. As I’ve mentioned, my creative process doesn’t work in a lawyerly fashion. The best analogy I can come up with is that of a sculptor. After all the research, plot-note taking and writing, I have my rough draft, a lump of clay on my workbench. And so begins the revisions and rewrites and editing. I’ll carve a chunk off here, add a sliver there, reshape and reform the work Chaos-knows how many times until I have something of which I’m reasonably not ashamed. Then, maybe I’ll let a few select people take a look at it and polish/refine it further until I feel comfortable with the idea of looking for representation.

Sounds like a lot of work? It is. Remember, it took me seven years the last time I made the Great Leap. But, that might be a bit misleading. In real time it was seven years, but take away working through college, taking on two jobs at once, giving myself a much-needed break from the literary toil and the like, I can say actual work time came out to be between 1.5-2 years, give or take. But I’d rather not wait that long for this one, so I’ve cleared the decks, as it were, to focus more completely on it. I’m not actively looking for new clients anymore, and have put other projects on the backburner, except for the blog, of course. I might even post novel update notes here, but in keep with the “whatever the hell I want” approach, I’m not going to make it the only subject I cover.

That’s it for now, my minions. Have a great Superbowl Sunday!