TASTE

Two Paragraphs from My Current Work in Progress

This is a doodle of an eyeball glyph I did in Adobe Illustrator a while back that I’ve never had an excuse to use until now. If you scroll down past it, you will find an excerpt from the current chapter I’m working on. The species so described is part of the established lore of the fictional Environment in which my story is set, but I think this would be the first time I’ve fully realized it in prose. Might give it more qualities in future drafts, but methinks this is serviceable as a rough sketch.


At first glance, this life form looked perfectly harmless. Comical, even. Resembling a course layer of chocolate brown hair growing out of solid bedrock. Carpeting the walls of the burrow. The fur of a shaggy dog, without the dog. But as every worker knew, this fur was not to be petted. If one were to agitate the hairs in any way (either by accidentally kicking them or handling them in any non-gingerly fashion), such an action would trigger an immune response in the organism, causing fruitbodies to germinate in the agitated hair tips. A mere ten minutes or so later, these hairs would have evolved into thick, almost woody stipes bearing mature spherical sporocarps, each one with that characteristic appearance suggestive of the head of an old Morgenstern club with a shiny metallic sheen. One could probably see their reflection (albeit distorted) looking into such an anatomical structure. But no worker in their right mind would dare find out for sure. It was grilled into them from their job training that if a fruitbody had that certain silver look to it, it was dangerous. One should get as physically far away from it as humanly possible, with the same speed and sense of urgency as if it were a time bomb on the verge of detonation. Because in many ways, that’s exactly what it was.

That silver part of the Silver Brown never made a sound when it burst. But a worker would always know when it did. Their sinuses would instantly be assaulted with an odor that was as distinctive as it was repugnant – something like a cross between cheap men’s cologne and a skunk carcass in an advanced state of putrefaction, with a subtle hint of wet dog flatus. The unmistakable stench of untold cubic gallons of the organism’s seminal ether being ejaculated into the open air, a minute percentage of its mist and vapors invariably finding its way into the lungs of any hapless soul who just happened to be in the vicinity.


TASTE

It’s Robbie Burns Day

Speaking of which, I spontaneously gave one of the characters in my current work in progress a love of haggis as a plot device. As a means of bringing a chapter to an end.

The general idea I was going with was to have both my main characters conclude the first phase of their quest by landing on an island that was near-paradise for one of them but the other was eager to flee as soon as humanly possible. The locale I ended up devising for this purpose is called ₪BRANSONVISTA (a name I formed by combining the names of two second-rate things, which I might change in later drafts), an island famous in-universe for its live bluegrass performances that almost always end in violence, and for the local culinary specialty: haggis balls on a stick. A favourite of one of my heroes. Who just happens to be the guy in charge of navigation. It was the haggis that lured him to this island. The other guy is more turned off by the violence than the haggis.

Said violence is not exactly like this, but vaguely similar.

The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Zip. Zilch. Nada. (The Late Show)

This would ordinarily be the date I start re-posting the chapter(s) from SILVER BROWN I tweeted two months previously on Facebook, at a rate of one page a day. But I’ve decided not to do that this time around. For a couple of reasons. The first reason is I think a major societal backlash against Facebook is just around the corner. Social media in general, but especially Facebook. My Spidey-sense is tingling, and it’s telling me conditions are ripe for the Old Zuckerverse to be reduced to something akin to the hair metal of mass communication within a few years.

For all the young folks in the audience who thought that last sentence was written in Martian, a brief history lesson. In ancient times, when a completely different racist old coot with a background in show business was leader of the free world (a coot who was at least somewhat respectable on account of being a World War II veteran, unlike the soon-to-be-ex-guy), hair metal was all the rage. It was a time when being in a band gave a dude a legitimate excuse to wear spandex and lipstick. Sweet memories. Alas, that era came to an end when the aforementioned old coot (gracefully) left office, and a new decade dawned. In the rays of that new sun, hair metal evaporated in a gust of cultural irrelevance. It was seen as a hackneyed relic of the decade that was, so it was tossed aside and forgotten like a used condom. Today, millions of children will likely live their entire lives having never learned there was ever a band called Quiet Riot… 

There are evidently limits to how much “noize” the public is willing to feel.

We now see a new sun about to rise, reminiscent of the one that rose all those many years ago. When I think of cultural phenomena of the last decade that could end up going the way of hair metal in the new decade, Facebook almost always tops the list. I foresee it will become another tobacco industry. There used to be a time (long before I was born) when smoking cigarettes was considered sexy. They were actually advertised as being good for your health. Now, just about every national government slaps some kind of warning label on cigarette packages, actively discouraging their citizenry from taking up the habit.

Another reason why I’ve decided to forgo posting another chapter on Facebook is because I think Twitter is overall a better medium for this sort of thing. SILVER BROWN is still very much so a work in progress. Posting excerpts of my writings on social media is one of the means I employ to drink the vibes of my audience. Not everything I write is going to be brilliant. But if I tweet something that sucks ass today, I can at least rest assured the world will forget about it tomorrow, if not later on today (unless I run for political office, and like hell I’d ever do that). Facebook’s modus operandi is very different. In some ways, the complete opposite. They love to regurgitate posts from the distant past, your actual desire to revisit them be damned. If the Zuckerverse is privy to something I posted that sucks ass, it will suck ass for many years to come.

Henceforth, my Facebook page will be little more than a token presence, until the inevitable arrival of the Nevermind that kills off the whole platform. It’ll have my blog posts on it, but not much else. More chapters are due to be unveiled in the new year, but those chapters shall only be tweeted.

I did toy with the idea of establishing more of a presence on Instagram, but decided against it. The Gram has the social dynamic of a neverending virtual high school prom, methinks. Literature of any sort is seemingly not something that would interest that particular crowd. They like shiny things. The handful of authors’ Instagram feeds I have seen feature the same old barrage of selfies, vacation pictures and foodporn that everybody and their grandma posts. What in the Sam Hill is the point of that? Do you really want to see a hundred pictures of my face?