“We’re not done yet!”

December 22, 2009

{A Phonograph Recording: Part 1}

[Kinda gimmicky, kinda rough, kind of a test run for doing more. But that’s part of the blog, I guess.]

…”We’re not, and you know why!”

Holiest of hells, I muttered to myself in my head. The guy’s not going to let me jump this proverbial boat, is he? Promptly after yelling that like murder down at me from up on top of the sewer pipe, he grabbed the top edge of the pipe, swung in, and dashed down with a misplaced sense of heroism. I just stood for a minute, letting the words sift through me, before confirming with myself that, yes, the guy was nuts. Maybe one of these days he’ll run into a pillar somewhere, I thought once again. That’d be a nice sigh for me.

I should say: My business is strange, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from it, it’s that strangeness is a relative concept. Keep on Readin’ on?

(Continuing this! A bit of magic realism for you guys, today.)

“Man, Ginnie, yer glasses look ‘specially dumb today! Hwah!”
“My name isn’t Ginnie, Johnking! It’s just Gin!”
“Oh, look, Ginnie’s complainin’. Ain’t that just the latest news from the lil’ bird’s beak?”

Johnking knows that callin’ me that got under my skin, but he always does that anyways. Thinks he can be a jerk just ’cause his voice is deeper, or somethin’. Of course, then Sinda had to chime in:

“Yeah! Yeah, looks like he’s complainin’… a-GIN! Haw! Haw hah!”

For a girl with such pretty freckles, Sinda can really be a leak in the boat sometimes. Thankfully, then Ralphie hopped on down from the treehouse, waving her knapsack around for a moment before settling on the northern direction. She hollered out real high, jumped clean over everyone else, and started walkin’ fast on down in the direction of the Train Trestle. More of a prance, really, now that I think about it–But, uh, anyway, we all kept on after her. Keep on Adventurin’ on?

Fictional Bar Names!

September 1, 2009

I have a lot of fun making up fictional bars, holes-in-the-wall, diners, dives, and so on. Not really sure why! But yeah, maybe a bit random, but here’s some recent favorites. (Worldbuilding? Kinda?)

“Plato’s Cradle” : Popular with beards, the place is just run down enough to be stylish but not enough to be offensive about it, which is makes it less of a dive and more of a coffee shop. Even so, some great minds come here and create some wonderful ideas–even if most of them never get past the “Man! What if we did this?!” stage.

“Little Lisa’s Backway Boulevard for Fellow Cats” : Down McKinley alley in Greentown. A little hard to find, but they have the best sweetwheat biscuits you will ever taste. Cats, enter through the big door. Other cats, there’s a cat door right next to the bigger one. There’s poetry here every other Wednesday–Little Lisa gives every reader a biscuit, which lends itself to a lot of first-timers (with mixed results).

“The Angle” : Maybe a little poseur, but The Angle plays host to some great fiddlers every night of the week. The food’s decent, but if you’re coming to consume, come to drink something from their microbrew. The name comes from how the roof is slanted down towards the stage–which in turn lends itself to a lot of problems when it rains, although once it rained through the roof just in front of the stage and made for a pretty fun night.

“The Treehouse” : Just across the street from Takins High School, the place is famous around town for being a kid-friendly bar. Don’t get it wrong, the bar’s still got atmosphere in spades, and it’s worth a trip even for the adults. The difference being that there’s ten flavors of homebrewed root beer and cream soda on the menu, and the staff isn’t afraid of a couple of fake ID’s. Do the kids sometimes get rowdy or annoy some older customers? Sure, yeah. But it’s worth it when you see a grandpa and his ten-year-old grandson clicking their cherry root beer bottles together.

(You know, maybe this is just my way of being nostalgic about dives and coffee shops from my childhood. Pour one out for Cafe Ishi, man.)

“Windboat Children”

September 1, 2009

I have a lot of ideas for this. It’s based on me mishearing the title of the song “Rainbow Children”, which has incredibly little to do with this story (although it was a pretty great song, anyway! Very touching.). But yeah! I have a good feeling about this one. Think I’m gonna continue it even after posting some of it here, hopefully. But anyway! Here’s the first part, rough draft.

“So! Where are we adventuring today, guys?”

I always get real scared whenever Ralphie says that. I can’t show it, though, or else everyone else’ll get mad at me or tell me I’m fussin’ and a big wuss and that I don’t deserve my membership in the Best Adventurers in the World Club. I’ve lost the membership a couple’a times, actually, but Ralphie lets me back in when it happens. But yeah! Uh, Ralphie asked us where we were gonna adventure today, and immediately everyone chimed in all at once.

“The Woods up north!”
“Let’s go cross the Long River!”
“No, we should go up Owl Mountain!”
“The Train Trestle! The Train Trestle!”

“Oh!” Ralphie perked her ears up. “The Train Trestle! Keep on Adventurin’ on?

Oh, hey, we’re probably hitting 2,000 hits over the weekend! Maybe I’ll get some time this weekend to do that website reformat to celebrate and be a little epic. For now, a little bit more about Switchville. (I’m beginning to wonder how crazy I sound.) [Which, granted, is a ponderous moment that usually doesn’t last very long.]

The “art” here probably bears worth mentioning. There’s a fair amount of it spread throughout the city–half-torn-down murals on sides of empty apartment buildings, strange and seemingly pointless statues and sculptures and models made from bits of scrap metal, telephone poles and broken off screens of televisions. No one really ever stops to look and think about them–well, really, no one really thinks that there’s any sort of point. They merely exist in the most literal sense of “merely,” just as this entire world merely exists. People usually just wander by, hardly noticing any of it unless its in their way, a means of shelter, or is made from salvageable parts, in which case it’s dismantled completely, its original artistic state soon forgotten completely. There could be a reason to these objects and paintings, or some meaning to derive from them or their creator(s?), but for now, and considering the scope of Switchville itself and how many of these odd spots of semibeauty there are, no one has bothered to wonder to this extent. There is a steel buzzard perched on the third story of a tall skyscraper, its claws grasping the bent fire escape railing that is ready to crash into the opposite wall any second now. You swear you can hear the bird screaming, as if in warning to the occasional passerby below.

On the note of height, rooftops are incredibly well sought after. They are rare, considering that at least half of the buildings in Switchville are demolished, collapsed on their sides, or burnt down. And they even give a faint semblance of temporary safety, as one can see incoming dangers below and act accordingly, either by blocking off the rooftop’s doorway or by quickly bounding to a nearby roof in the midst of a night. If you can get up on top of a half-destroyed building, though, and find some nook covered by a rusted, heeled-over steel girder that has escaped the building’s original framework, then you can be even safer: Something disorganized and chaotic like that is antithesis to a Switchville sort of person–they would rather go somewhere simple and organized, as if symmetry and order created some sort of magic barrier around them, away from the horrors of mere living on the streets.

There are wet, dusty sewers in Switchville. They run incredibly haphazardly, to the point that one is forced to wonder who the hell could have possibly designed them. Then again, maybe they came into existence later than the rest of the city, or maybe they were transformed in some way. No one yet has figured that out, as per usual, although they have figured that the sewers is often the quickest way to get around, and surprisingly not dangerous. In our own world, there would be some sort of cliche fear of monsters or the like, but not in these sewers. They’re about as safe as anywhere else, if perhaps a bit darker and dirtier, and thus they get used fairly often by travelers. Isn’t it funny how much the Switchville denizen will go to such lengths and know so many ways around the city, just for fear of seeing other people? One wonders how right in the head they are, at least by our standards.

I really like Worldbuilding! From everyone’s pal, Wikipedia:

“Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, usually associated with a fictional universe.”

I’ve found that I have a lot of ideas for this world I’ve been thinking about, “Switchville”, as seen before here and here. I’ve realized that, after doing these two stories and experimenting a bit otherwise, I kinda want to try outlining at least part of the world, or maybe a broad outline, and seeing how that helps me in writing stories within the world. Plus, it’s just plain more fun, and kinda vindicates all the daydreaming and imagining you did as a kid. So! This one’s gonna be a little weird–I’m basically going to describe the world, as if in endless early exposition in a novel. I’ll probably do this in a few parts over the next week or so–not entirely sure how entertaining this is going to be, yet. If it gets really boring yell at me and I’ll confine it to off-blog writing.

So…

Switchville is like a city that was abandoned as soon as it was built. I say “like” intentionally, because no one in Switchville really knows, and frankly, I doubt anyone gives any sort of a damn about how it first came about. As far back as anyone can remember the city has always just been there–Dark at night, grey and cloudy during the day, with a consistent feeling of near-abandonment at any given point in time. When you come upon another person in this town, it’s always a surprise, almost a shock. Often you’ll share a surprised stare for a moment with the other person, in which time you hurriedly try to figure out what to do about the situation: Quickly but carefully walk away, down some darker alley? Attempt to talk with the fear of an attack looming just overhead? Just stare, stare at the only person you’ve seen in the past month? It is incredibly confusing, to the point that sometimes, just sometimes, you would rather trade confusion for prior loneliness. [This is something I want to expand on a lot in stories about this place–the concept of the barriers of impersonal relationships being broken down, with maybe a few parallels to our own world in that sense, with this world serving as a sort of exaggerated running metaphor.]

For being such a big area, the city itself isn’t very well divided, at least not originally. Keep on Readin’ on? (There’s a lot more~!