The Lessons of Tequila and Home Movies

I can see you.

January 2, 2012

I am a writer. I write.

I’ve been out of the loop for a few weeks, and even when I was still writing the last articles in December, I felt it. I’ve been feeling it for months, maybe a year. Something was off. It was like putting on your contacts and accidently putting one inside out. You think there’s an eyelash or something inside and you can’t figure it out, and when you do, it’s so painfully obvious you hate yourself.

The feeling was subtle at first. It was a pebble in my shoe. It was one crooked picture frame on the wall. Something was off and I couldn’t place it.

New Year rolled around yesterday. I was drunk with champagne and tequila. I was filled, brown sugar-glazed pork, Mary’s salad, and New Year’s grapes. We watched home movies. I broke down. I saw too many dead faces in green-tinted VHS. I heard my grandfather laugh and saw my uncle dancing. I saw another uncle arriving with his happy wife. I remember the uncle who was kidnapped and murdered. I remember my grandfather’s sister whom we lost a few months ago. I remembered too many faces I’d never kiss again and too many voices I’d never hear laugh.


Champagne by ~NikkyMalfoy on deviantART

Between chocking back screams and trying to get that mental pebble out of my head, something clicked. I felt it go off like an old light bulb. It flickered and the picture on the wall was crystal-clear for an instant before the light shone through in malaria yellow and everything faded ito view like the Second Coming.

I had no fangs, no claws, and someone had sucked out my poison.

A few years ago, one of my bosses said I was one of the better tutors she knew, one the better teachers, and when she saw me working with students and teaching, she finally figured out why they learned, why they listened, and why I kept going.

I didn’t care. I wasn’t a counselor or an editor. I cared about writing. Sometimes, I’d suppress the urge to jump across the table or run through a classroom and choke the ever-loving crap out of someone who was there for an easy answer or wanted information just dumped on them. I wanted to give them understanding. I wanted them to think critically. I didn’t care about the day their dog died. I didn’t care their girlfriend or boyfriend dumped them. My only mission was to teach.

I never gave a multiple-choice test in my life. If I did that, I’d add chance to the equation. I don’t want chance.


Multiple Choice by ~TheNebs on deviantART

I want to know what you think. I want to get behind those little orbs of jelly and nerves and find out what goes on in your brain. It’s the predator in me, the part that I held back for almost two, maybe three years, so I could be as normal as possible, so I could integrate with the community and be a part of it and make too many people around me happy.

A friend and fellow writer once nicknamed me “The Demon of Guanajuato.” I think it’s time I lived up to it again.

I’m going to press buttons. I’m going to say the uncomfortable things that have fermented in my head for the last two years and I kept hidden out of fear I thought I’d killed years ago. I’m going to be the snake in the garden. I’m going to be the writer I once was, maybe even before I started this blog. Old journals and stories remind me of the way I used to say things, the way I used to write, and I miss that edge.  I want my edge back, and I want it to be sharp enough so I cut my own fingers off if I don’t handle it properly.

It’s not that I have the answers. I’ll even be willing to admit I’ll be wrong once in a while, but if you want my words to be your words, here they are. This is my currency, my gift to anyone who likes my writing, likes the way I think. In a perfect world, my words would spread like a virus.

Randomology is two years old now. I feel like I’m back from the dead. It’s Easter. Gorge yourselves on candy and chocolate and bust out the bourbon.

I’m back. Wear a cup.

I’m a writer. I’m going to write.

The Adventures of Lil’ Muriel

I am a metaphor...

Okay, so maybe that won’t be the title of the comic, but the art just below this post should give you a good idea of what’s ahead. In a few weeks, once I finish making the sprites, I’ll be starting a bi-weekly webcomic based on the characters in Charcoal Streets.

At first, the comics may be one to three panels, but as I get more comfortable with the format, I may expand into full sheet comics. The stories will be stand-alone entries into the mythology… although their canon status may be debatable as they will certainly be a but sillier and rely on visual humor as much as dialog. I’ll be honest… it took me hours to get this first comic done. Most of that came from the fact that I had to draw the sprites, get the backgrounds ready, and otherwise do everything instead. I’m hoping to get a gallery of stock backgrounds and props so I don’t have to go hunting all the time.

Additionally, I’m writing up the rules for a contest through deviantART. Those familiar with the site and those that have memberships will be happy to know I’ll be giving away an ad plan and maybe a few months of premium membership.

In the meantime, enjoy these character portraits, take a look at some Charcoal Streets art, keep spreading the word about Charcoal Streets and Randomology, and I’ll see you all here on Friday.

Micah, everyone's favorite uptight angel!

Miguel, the retired angel we all love...

Just keep watching Muriel...

Sympathy for the Devil(s)

Pleased to meet you. Hope you guessed my name.

May 14, 2010

I rail against Beck… a lot… but it’s usually something to do with politics, religion, or basic common sense. Now, though, he’s infringing on literature. He’s gone against characterization and one of the oldest archetypes in Western writing. He’s gone after Lucifer himself.

You’re in my world now, Becky Boy.

Apparently, it’s not enough for him to twist quotes, reference debunked stories, or just make up stuff to discredit liberals and progressives. Now, it seems, we’re Satanists.

Time for literature class, boys and girls. Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, and even the words “demon” and “devil” all have wildly different meanings from what people usually think and all have a sordid history that could only be compared to a bad soap opera.

Not that there are “good” soap operas.

While the Devil has been portrayed as everything from the cunning trickster to the beautiful woman, these images have basis in both mythology and literature. Let’s go down the list.


Paradise Lost by ~SilentBeforeTheStorm on deviantART

Lucifer

“If the devil does not exist, and man has therefore created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.”
-Fyodor Dostoevsky

Literately meaning “Light Bearer,” it was a title used both for Jesus and the planet Venus as it was one of the last stars visible in the morning and heralded the coming dawn, also giving rise to its alternate name “The Morning Star.”

The word itself is never used to refer to the being known as Satan in the New Testament, however.

In Isaiah 14:12, the Bible makes reference to the Babylonian king who oppressed the Israelites, saying, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!” The metaphor to the king is that Venus also appears to try and rise above the other stars in the horizon, but never triumphed. And we all know how uppity Venus can get. Likewise, the Babylonian king would never be more powerful than God.

So… where’s Satan in all this?

The Bible was written over thousands of years by dozens of people. Eventually, you’re going to get some disconnect between the writers and the editors. Early Christian writers saw the reference to the Morning Star and applied the title to a fallen angel based on ancient pagan writings. Early Jewish lore was also filled with the concept of fallen angels, and one story in particular stuck out, one which some claim had an influence in passages in Revelation 12:7-10 where Satan is named as a fallen angel.

Basically, this boils down to the fact that Lucifer is never once mentioned in the Bible. He becomes, as you’ll see later, a literary character that fills a role for storytelling purposes.

In short, Lucifer is to Christianity as Star Wars/ Star Trek crossovers are to science fiction. Got it?


The Morning Star by ~RevolverWinds on deviantART

Satan

“The shadows of our own desires stand between us and our better angels, and thus their brightness is eclipsed.”
-Charles Dickens

Heaven has a hierarchy. Or at least, that’s one popular conception based on the Medieval Christian concept of the Angelic Choirs. It makes sense to put one of God’s helpers in such a system.

In the Bible, there are dozens of names for him, everything from the serpent, the deceiver, and the Book of Mark even names him as the one who tempted Christ in the desert. Satan (whose name means “Adversary”) is perhaps most prominent in the Bible in the book of Job where he points out Job, a devout man, to God and basically makes a wager with the Almighty Himself to see just how far a human’s devotion can go. We all know the story. God comes down and strikes down family, cattle, and curses Job with plagues and boils and every disease you’d get from a bad Spring Break.

However, Satan is not a devil in the story, never mind THE Devil. He is an angel, one of the Heavenly Host. He doesn’t even do anything to Job. That’s God’s doing.

Satan didn’t really become prominent until the Middle Ages and the New Testament. By this time, Satan had goat-like features as an attempt to turn pagan religions into something evil. Many depictions during this time are combinations of descriptions of Dionysus, Pan, Selene, and other horned creatures.

Slowly, Satan was merged with the idea of Lucifer, of the fallen angel, until we get some of the archetypal Satan stories: Paradise Lost and Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, specifically Inferno.

We also learn through this literature and later writings that Hell has a system of keeping track of its assets: Circles. It’s not just Heaven that has a hierarchy, you know. Hell has to have one too, and all you little sinners and pagans are going to your own reserved Circle for eternal punishment. It’s like a reservation at Motel 6. Except you’re going to boil in urine and blood.

Okay, so it IS like staying at Motel 6.

In Paradise Lost, Satan is cast as a tragic villain, an angel who must pay for eternity for a single act of hubris. It is perhaps one of the most sympathetic depictions of the character in Western literature. While depressed over his expulsion from Heaven, Satan is nonetheless a cunning former angel who can manipulate humanity to sin and force the armies of Heaven to organize against God. He’s kind of like a superpowered Karl Rove.

Dante’s Satan, on the other hand, is almost the opposite. Despite the recent video game’s depiction of the Great Adversary, Dante’s Satan is almost a blubbering monster forever encased in ice and nearly powerless. He’s like a kicked and abused dog… except a dog that’s the size of a skyscraper and must be half-entombed in ice frozen from his own tears to keep him from breaking free.


Angel by ~H4ch3 on deviantART

The War in Heaven

“I charge thee, fling away ambition: by that sin fell the angels.”
-William Shakespear, Henry VIII

Not much to say here except that the War in Heaven is alluded to in Revelations and apparently takes place at the End Times, not shortly after creation like most people think. Adding Satan and his fallen angels to the story of creation was a bit of a retcon on the part of theologians.

That’s pretty much it.


The War in Heaven by ~Abi909 on deviantART

Devils and Demons

“We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents.”
-Mark Twain

The word “devil” comes form the Greek diabolas, which means “to throw across, slander,” while “demon” comes from the Greek word “daemon,” which means “spirit.” Demons only became the Devil’s helpers and minions in later Christian mythology.

However, “devil” has a complex history. The root for “devil” is the same as the Hindu-Buddhist term deve, which is roughly approximate to “angel.” Like angels, devils had many types. In early Greek mythology, devils were spirits that could be good or bad, but didn’t need to be either one by default. They were like fey. Christianity changed it later. According to one version of the War on Heaven, those angels who refused to fight for God were banished to punish the souls of sinners in Hell, though they remained angels.

In other words, Hell is staffed with angels, not demons. It’s just another department in the great office that is reality.

Think they get coffee breaks?


Commission – Laurence Strider by =RinAvenue on deviantART

Satanism

“One’s religion is whatever he is most interested in.”
-J. M. Barrie

Let’s get a few quick things out of the way. The pentagram and the pentacle are two separate symbols. If the star points up, it is a pagan symbol that stands for many things, among them four elements and the soul or even the wounds Christ suffered on the cross. Point down, it’s usually a representation of Baphomet, a supposed goat deity that is, like Lucifer and Satan, a pastiche of various bits of lore and mythology and is associated with dark magic.

Baphomet has as much to do with the Christian Devil as nuclear weapons have to do with the American Civil War.

On a side-note, dark magic and magic in general are typically associated with Satanism because anything not associated with God is viewed as being of the devil.

Satanists are a lot like Christians. You’ve got the ones that are members and live their lives like normal people, and then you have the people who are REALLY into it. For most people who describe themselves as Satanists, it usually involves the rebellion against God and traditional Christian values.

Then you have LaVeyan Satanism, which is an atheistic Satanism. Created by Anton LeVey, this belief system teaches that Satan is a figure, an aspiration, not a real being. Humans are their own gods and must live accordingly, not suppressing carnal desires, but embracing them. They also hold on to the belief that, if the gods are created by humans, then to worship a god is to worship the human that created it, and this to them is subjugation.


Baphomet Jr by ~leviathan218 on deviantART

So there you go. A quick primer on Lucifer, Satan, and assorted horned things. It’s actually a LOT more convoluted than this. Satan was renamed Lucifer after a metaphor involving a Babylonian king, then mixed with an Abrahamic legend regarding fallen angels and pagan goat deities… but that just barely scratches the surface. There are dozens of contradicting stories regarding all these creatures and it would take years to untangle them.

Personally, I think the Stones gave the Devil too much credit.

Short version? Glenn, you’re an idiot. And yes, if it will scare you, the devil made me do it.