Dread and Revelries of Spring

Below is a poem I recently wrote simultaneously with a short horror story.  The short story was read on Trio Simpatico, the podcast I co-host.  We produced the reading for our string of horror themed episodes in October, and a portion of the poem is used to close out that piece.

Both the story and the poem are based on a dream which my wife relayed to me one morning.  Her dream was splendidly cryptic and contained some really frightening imagery.  The short story, called Ghost Storm, is an elaboration of the nightmare as my wife told it to me, while the poem is more of an interpretation of the same basic ideas though most of the details are transferred to a completely different time and place.

If you’d like to hear our audio production of Ghost Storm click HERE I’ll most likely be posting the text here in the weeks to follow.

The poem is below the break, enjoy!

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Unrequited Death – 1870

To celebrate the occasion of the day I present the following short horro story.

Last year this was turned into an audio reading by Jessica Burkhart and my podcasting partner David Tavolier for our podcast TRIO SIMPATICO but I realized I never posted the actual text anywhere.  So here you are, I present to you in full Unrequited Death – 1870 by me, Joshua Scott Witsaman.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast featuring the reading simply go HERE!

Happy Halloween!

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Light Pollution and the Human Condition

Stars.  The guidepost of the cosmos laid out before us, heralding the greater universe.

To some, the message which the stars depict is a welcoming one, to others they represent a terrifying glimpse at the enormity of reality.  Regardless of how you interpret the stars and our cosmic horizon it is indisputable that the night sky and our view of the Milky Way’s starscape has continually sparked the human imagination to varying degrees.

Arguably the stars have been the single greatest guiding element of human culture since our prehistory.  Science, art, and mythology all owe their origins, in some part, to the stars and those ancient ones who studied them.

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The constellations of Earth’s night sky

From the roaming nomadic tribes of our earliest ancestors to the later sea faring naval adventurers of history, the stars were literal guides through the dark places.

Imagine eons ago, before the modern day, around fires and yurts when deep discussions and wild speculation took place regarding the nature and origin of the stars.  It is these conversations and stories, now multiples of millennium lost to us, which were passed down from family to family, generation to generation, clan to clan, and shore to shore.  It is this type of human speculative imagination along with our yearning to understand and provide meaning for our larger surroundings which eventually became the basis of human culture.

While deciphering patterns from the spaces between the stars humankind the world over formed tales of their own, myths which comforted them, evils which terrified them, heroes they aspired to, and Gods in their own image.  Though they certainly didn’t realize it at the time those ancient forgotten humans who were wondering wide-eyed at the vast night canopy were in fact creating the modern world through their star gazing.

But what significance do the stars hold in this modern world of ours?

Over the last several hundred years the stars have faded from the sight of many and there are doubtless some who have lived and died without looking up into the night and seeing the galaxy staring back.  All due of course to the gradually increasing amount of light pollution blazing outward from the most heavily populated modern locals.

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The lights of our modern world 

Now of course we can all see some stars at night, there are those bright and wondrous holdouts who burn defiantly and still shine even among the places of heaviest light pollution.  The moon too is a powerful looming reminder of the worlds beyond our own which wait in space.  But for all the light polluted city dwellers and suburbanites, the hundred or so stars that can clearly be discerned become almost laughable when compared with the true majesty of the cosmos which is revealed in places of near total darkness.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience this in places like Cimarron, New Mexico and to a lesser degree in some parts of rural Ohio.

There is something simple and amazing about finding yourself in a secluded spot of nature away from the ubiquity of electric lights and being able to take a few moments to stare up and truly examine the contents of the heavens.  When looking out into the unobscured mass of stars there can be some fantastic sensations: Feeling the almost oppressive enormity of the night sky overhead, being able to clearly trace the cloudy path of the Milky Way; the profile of the galaxy itself, and examining the range of sizes and hues which make up the stars.  These are only a portion of the inspirational effects a few moments of deep stargazing can elicit.

I am certainly no historian, psychologist, or social scientist but having had the chance to experience this view of the stars, which has widely been lost to many of us in modern times, I have to wonder what effect a lack of such views will have on future generations?  Something which has had such a formative effect on the human prehistory has slowly been lost to us through our gradual advancement.  As lights constantly spring up in greater numbers across our civilizations and as our nights become far less black, what change will that have on us as a sentient species?

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On the left the constellation Orion seen in a “dark sky” on the right the same constellation near a light polluted urban area.

 

I can’t help but think the human psyche and imagination has already been affected in some way.

Perhaps as a way to assuage our hubris we as a species should have nightly reminders of our minuscule stature compared with the rest of the universe.

Perhaps we should have more exposure to the celestial orbs and sparkling heavens for the sake of our collective imaginations.

Certainly all types of pollution are harmful.

Our waste is killing our planet, it’s flora and fauna.  Smog and garbage, chemicals and putrescence all slowly kill our natural home and our individual bodies.  However what about our minds and our abilities to wonder and dream?  Does light pollution in some ways extinguish imagination and the sensation of awe in the same ways it extinguishes the stars?

What benefits might there be for us if there could be a restoration of darkness?

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UPDATE: The New Hit Meme

So you may remember a few weeks ago I had a post showing off the new Star Wars/droid related meme I had created featuring the phrase I Think I Just Voided The Warranty.  If you don’t recall that entry of Mindless Philosophy you can check it out here!

In that blog I encouraged you the reader(s) to take this meme and put it to good use beyond my initial Star Wars referencing.  It has some solid meme potential  and if we can just get a few outlets for it the Voided Warranty meme just might spread across the entirety of the interwebs as any good meme does.

As it turned out one dedicated reader (a student of this particular brand of Mindless Philosophy who is now earning top marks) by the name of Tim McFarland submitted the first few additions to the Voided Warranty library of memes!

Below are Tim’s creations, and if you’d like to hear more from this Tim McFarland character you can expect to learn more about him in an upcoming addition of our ongoing People I Know segment!

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A late entry from the meme manufacturer himself.

 

That is all!

It Came From My Notebook!

Bonjour mon prouts!

So over the past year or so I realized that I simply wasn’t happy with the amount of writing I was doing at home, it simply wasn’t enough.  So I decided to put some effort into writing during my work hours as well.  So during my lunch breaks I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a few writing exercises to increase my output and experiment with different styles.  Whether it’s some badly written poetry, a few paragraphs about random thoughts, or a short stream of consciousness story; I’ve tried to spend at least a few minutes of my break everyday writing something.  If nothing else it at least helps stimulate my mind between the long bouts of cerebral drudgery that is my desk job.  Now my pocket notebook is filled with pages of crazy nonsense, fragments of greatness, interesting concepts, and profound thoughts in need of expounding.

As I was looking through my notebook searching for ideas or topics for this very blog I came across one of these exercises I wrote which I had completely forgotten about.  The concept for the writing was simple enough, I would sit down and begin writing the first thing that popped into my head and just go with it until my lunch break was over.  So with nothing much else to share this week I present to you the results of that writing exercise:

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There was a man who ordered a cheeseburger.

“No pickles.”  He asked.

With a nod the cashier complied, punched in his order, rang him up, and the man paid with cash.  

As the man stepped down to await his food another server pointed to the end of the counter and asked him to step down further and wait just around the corner.

With a shrug the man complied.  His shoes squeaked as he walked.

Around the corner was a short narrow hallway.  There the man waited for a moment, another moment, and longer.  Soon he began to worry he would be forgotten. (But don’t we all worry about that?)

As his worry really started to mount a heavy looking utility door at the end of the hall slowly opened outward.  From the doorway another server peaked out and looked at the man, waving him over.

“No pickles?”  She asked in a whisper.

The man nodded reflexively.

“Follow me.”  She told him.

Looking around the man slipped in behind the heavy looking utility door and followed the server in.  He just really wanted a cheeseburger.

The room beyond was dark and soon completely so.  The man lost sight of the woman he was following and began simply following the sounds of her steps through the murky space.  The path through which she guided him was long and twisted and the man bumped into several walls and corners in the dark.  (This must be a very large burger joint.)

Eventually the footsteps halted and in the silence the man stopped too.

As he stood there a single wood torch was lit in front of him and the small flame burned brightly in the recent total darkness.

“That is odd.”  The man thought.  With the scent of the burning flame harsh in his nostrils he stepped forward into the glow of the torch.  There on the other side of the flame sat an enormous cheeseburger the size of a small garage.

That is probably more odd.”  The man concluded.

Which is when the cheeseburger opened its eyes.  Three large human looking eyes inset atop the upper bun of the cheeseburger.  Looking down at the man, the bun-eyes narrowed.

“No pickle?”  The burger asked.  It spoke with an invisible hinge, like a mouth with three lips.  A lip of bun.  A lip of burger meat.  Followed by another lip of bun.  

The man nodded.  “Yes, that is correct.  I ordered no pickle.”

And then the burger spoke again.  The cheeseburger regaled the man with countless hidden secrets of reality.  Occult knowledge which shapes out perceptions and which can alter the very fundamentals of existence.

The man listened wide-eyed and intently.  His mind was like a balloon full of mayonnaise and about to burst.  How long the cheeseburger spoke can not be accurately determined but when it finally finished speaking the chamber was filled with a deep silence the likes of which have not been experienced since the seconds before the Big Bang.

Slowly the man raised his hand and commented, “I just really want a cheeseburger.”

To which the giant cheeseburger closed its eyes and replied.

“You are the cheeseburger.” 

The man looked down and it was true, he was a cheeseburger and as he realized this he saw the enormous tri-eyed cheeseburger slump forward, open it’s bun and burger mouth, and eat the man up in a single gulp.  At that moment the man became the giant cheeseburger and the giant cheeseburger was him.

“Well this has been weird.”  He thought to himself before he decided to leave the chamber.

With a heave and a thrust the gigantic cheeseburger exploded into the sky, through the planet’s atmosphere, and into the majesty of the stars beyond.  For what else is there to do for a giant cheeseburger with an insight into everything but to take to the sky and wander the cosmos for the rest of eternity?

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That is all!

My Most Anticipated Geek Movies Of 2012

Finally I return to my dear sweet Mindless Philosophy after several weeks away being lazy and engrossed in new video games.  The holidays are over now, a new year is here, and I really have to get back into my writing routines!  So no more silence and inactivity from me, you will now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational blog!

As the title of this entry suggests I’ve decided to start this new blogging year off with a quick list of some of the movies I am most looking forward to in 2012.  It looks like this is going to be another banner year for movies of every sort, but for the purposes of this entry I’m just going to focus on the films that have a geekier bend to them.  You might remember the poll we had a few weeks back which asked you the readers what you wanted to see more of here, one of the most common answers was more movie stuff.  Well here we go!

My Most Anticipated Geek Movies Of 2012

Click the titles of each movie to see the trailers

(In no particular order)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I don’t think I really need to explain why this movie is on this list.  The works of Tolkien are unparalleled writing and are the epic standard for an entire genre of fiction.  The Lord of the Rings movies met that challenge by turning the classic trilogy into a triumphant cinematic experience, a feat that supposedly couldn’t be done.  However Peter Jackson accomplished it.  Finally now, after many years of waiting we are returning to the beginning.  For a long time things looked grim for the production of the Hobbit, budget cuts, studio infighting, and the departure of Guillermo del Toro as director made me think that this Hobbit duology would never see the light of day.  Thankfully I was wrong.  Peter Jackson was forced to step out from a more passive producer role and back into the directors chair for this set of sure-to-be-epic Hobbit adventure films, and though I regret not getting to see Middle Earth through del Toro’s eyes there should be a pleasant familiarity with these new movies and the hulking trilogy of awesomeness we already have.

Prometheus

I. Love. Ridley. Scott.  The aesthetic of his films is what I wish my life looked like, in particular I would love to live among the world of Legend and/or Blade Runner.  Of course we can’t forget about Alien which leads us to this movie, Prometheus.  This has been a enigmatic and secretive project and information about it has been slow in coming.  When it first came out there were rumors that it was an Alien prequel, then there was talk that it strictly had nothing to do with Alien, followed by a concession that maybe it did have a little to do with Alien but was not a direct prequel per se.  Ok so this movie is secretive, highly under wraps, and takes place in the Alien universe?  Count me in.  PLUS they’ve let it be known that the crew that we see in the trailer is essentially on a mission to find the origin of life in the universe when they stumble upon some weird ancient planet and a bunch of crazy shit goes down.  Sure, let’s do this!

The Dark Knight Rises

Come on, it’s the last of the Nolan Batman movies, who isn’t going to go see this?  Sure I’ve heard some shit talked by the fanboys about the strange look of Bane, how Cat Woman and Bane were bad choices for this final installment, and how it will be damned near impossible to outdo any aspect of the Dark Knight.  Heck, I even share in some of these worried sentiments but honestly I have incredible faith in Christopher Nolan, he has yet to disappoint me as a director.  I don’t hide the fact that I’m not a huge DC comics fan.  I mean I do like some DC Animal Man, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, and the entirety of the JSA are some of my favorite characters of all time, but when it comes to movies Marvel has the superhero genre on lock down.  Batman is DC’s cinematic golden boy and he has been doing a hell of a job and if half the rumors I’ve heard about The Dark Knight Rises are true, we’re in for one hell of a last ride!

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ok so what was it I was just saying about Marvel movies?  So yeah remember the first Ghost Rider movie, it was kind of meh.  Personally I didn’t think it was as terrible as everyone likes to make it out to be, but it did suffer from terrible villains which I think can really cripple any superhero flick.  If the villains aren’t cool and interesting the movie isn’t going to be cool and interesting.  Others like to put the blame on Nic Cage but I refuse to back down from my love for Nic Cage.  I could watch that crazy bastard work his magic through any movie.  Personally I think he is a perfect fit for the over the top premise and insane continuity of the Ghost Rider.  This new Spirit of Vengeance looks like it has really taken off in a different direction from the first one, which I am incredibly thankful for.  Ghost Rider is far too cool of a property to simply die out after one mediocre attempt.  The trailer for the sequel has promise, I can’t say whether or not the movie will be good but it seems to have fixed the villain issue, and appears to be chock full of crazy action sequences making use of the Ghost Riders hell granted mystical powers.  So there’s that at least.

The Return of the Killer Klowns From Outer Space in 3D

The Killer Klowns From Outer Space was one of the first cult horror movies I ever really got into.  As a kid I remember watching it as the afternoon movie on one of the local stations (when such things were still done) and being immediately hooked, fascinated by the sheer oddity of it.  That movie was ridiculous, creepy, weird, and hilarious all at the same time.  Nowadays of course it’s mostly just hilarious, although those alien clowns still hold up as pretty creepy.  As of now there is hardly any information on the production of this movie or any solid timeline for its release.  Personally I will be standing by anxiously anticipating any further tid bits about this zany sci-fi horror sequel.  If you are not familiar with the Killer Klowns I suggest that you find a copy of the first film and take some time to sit down and study the glory of it so that you will be caught up and ready for their return in 3D!

The Avengers

Iron Man.  Captain America.  Thor.  The Hulk.  Need I say more?  In a similar way that folks once said that the Lord of the Rings books could never be made into a movie, people also commented that a big superhero team would never see the big screen.  Over the years both of the big comic book publishers dealt licscencing agreements to dozens of media production outlets for most of their biggest characters which often lead to conflicting visions and interests for the characters and any future film projects.  This meant that it was essentially a legal and logistical nightmare to ever get multiple characters on the same screen at the same time.  Now however here we are.  Marvel has their legal house in order, they opened their own movie studio, and they’re finally putting their heroes to work only now they’re making them work together!  The day is quickly approaching, a movie that has been years in the making taking a deliberate cautious path in order to get all its various elemental parts put together in a solid working order and we are just a few short months away.  The reason I am confident in this movie is because Marvel has really taken the time to find the people with the talent and quality needed to put the precursor movies together right.  They haven’t been afraid to choose atypical choices, individuals who are not versed in superhero/action movies, and I think that has really paid off well.  I can’t wait to see this movie, and like the Dark Knight Rises, there are a maelstrom of awesome rumors swirling around about what surprises await us in this epic comic book adaptation!  We’ll just have to wait and see!

Finally here are a few others that I’m interested in, but don’t really know enough about to comment on at this time!  For a more extensive list of movies coming out in 2012 check out this LINK to movie insider.com!

Other 2012 Movies!

Dorothy of Oz

Dark Shadows

Jack the Giant Killer

G.I. Joe:  Retaliation

Hotel Transylvania (Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky)

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Halloween Night Special Edition


Tonight you get 3 comic goodies for the price of one, think of it as a Trick or Treat bonus!  I was planning on having this posted earlier today but as luck would have it the wife had the computer with her for most of the day and our evening was tied up in further Halloween festivities.  So now as I sit here watching the Hammer Films Classic The Curse of Frankenstein and Peter Cushing’s wicked portrayal of the villainous Baron Frankenstein I finally have some time to attend to my blog duties!

Capping off this month of Halloween related comic panels I give you this horror ridden trifecta of images from very different origins.  First off I show to you a brief series of panels from Eric Powell’s The Goon.  This excerpt comes from a short story featuring some of my favorite Goon characters, the filthy gang of street urchins known as the Little Unholy Bastards.  Here we see the LUB’s making their break from the orphanage in order sneak out to do some Trick or Treating.  If you don’t know anything about the Goon, these panels give you some idea what the book is like.  If you find horrid old ladies being beaten by unruly youths to be amusing, then you might want to look into reading more of Eric Powell’s work!

Next up is an image that comes from a comic I’ve had in my possession for over 20 years!  Count Duckula #3, written by Michael Gallagher with art by Warren Kremer this book was one of the first comics I ever purchased.  It was read countless times, became a permanent part of my childhood library, and survived a move.  Surprisingly it is still in decent shape.  I was a big fan of Danger Mouse and Count Duckula as a kid, although there never seemed to be even amounts of airings of Count Duckula to Danger Mouse, so it was always nice to be able to find the count in other media.  This panel exemplifies a bit of Count Duckula’s goofiness as well as hinting at the duck vampires vegetarian diet.  Being that it’s Halloween I thought it appropriate to bust out this old favorite of mine.

Finally we have a recent comic book horror crossover and perhaps several of you out there will already recognize it as being a panel from Marvel Zombies VS Army of Darkness.  Issue #4 to be precise, with words by John Layman and an army of artists including Fabiano Neves, Fernando Blanco, and Sean Phillips.  Here we see Ash, the main protagonist from the Evil Dead series, in the grip of one of Marvel comics baddest baddies, Dr. Doom!  In the story Ash has joined up with one of my favorites, Dazzler, in search of a way to reclaim the accursed Necronomicon and halt the zombie outbreak that has spread throughout the Marvel universe.  Long story short they run into an undead Howard the Duck, travel to Latveria, and meet up with Dr. Doom who of course is something of an expert in the dark arts.  Although the Marvel Zombies run of series has been rather played out as of late, this epic crossover was one of the last truly enjoyable takes on the superhero/zombie genre.

So there you have it, although there is little left now of Halloween keep your thoughts dark and your nerves sharp for you never can tell what lurks around the next shadowy corner!  Happy Halloween!

That is all!