I Started Writing the Story About a Day in the Life of Death

And it sucked.

Don’t get me wrong, I could have pulled it off. Five hundred words about Death going to work? Please. I could have done a Piers Anthony knock-off in a half hour, flat. Death as Dilbert. Death as Death from Family Guy. Death as Death as that guy they locked up in ’94 in Los Angeles for dressing up as Death in full regalia—as in with scythe—and staring through old folk’s window. I definitely think I could have joked my way through it.

Or, I could have done a heavy handed social commentary story. I thought about it. I was going to cast a bullied, teen misfit in the role of Death and have him shoot up his school. I even had a bit where Death was going to pass from the hands of a bully in to the main character. I think I could have made it really poignant. I mean, I’ve read tons of short stories that use devices like that one and they’re always roundly lauded as “insightful” and “gripping.” Yeah, I think I could have pulled something like that off.

But then I thought of Michael Moore and how much I loathe him and I decided to pass on the social commentary.

I thought about doing something about the life cycle of a hypothetical “super Ebola” virus and its spread through a community but that would have just been an insult to us all and I think we deserve better than that.

And that’s about all I had, really.

So I’m putting it back in the queue because it’s my game and my rules. Suck it.

I’ll see what’s in the hopper and get back to you with a new topic/story soon…ish. Look, everybody knows the story a day for an entire year thing was never going to work out. I say we just take things as they come, you know? You send a story idea, I take a reasonable time crafting something decent and, at the end, we all have a book that might be worth reading.

You people are putting way too much pressure on me. This must be how Dave Chappelle felt.

I Started Writing the Story About a Day in the Life of Death

For Marcus George – I Really Hated ‘Lost in Translation’

I feel like I should be rolling this out with more fanfare but, frankly, I want to get to the pool today as summer is fast coming to a close so I’m just going to go ahead and get weird, yo.

I’ve known Marcus for a long, long time. He’s a 6’5, 250lb Black man living in Tokyo for reasons unknown to me. Maybe it’s because he likes to be inconspicuous. I don’t know.

Marcus is one of those guys who, as physically large as he is, seems to strain at the seams with an exuberance for life at which I can’t help but marvel. He’s one of those guys to whom people gravitate, full of positive energy. Usually those kinds of people eventually weary me, but Marcus has stuck around. It’s a symbiotic relationship: I keep a check on his sickening optimism and he keeps me from despairing of humanity.

Marcus wants an essay on Japanese culture seen from a Western perspective, with a particular focus on what’s seen as especially curious and odd. I’m happy to oblige.

I Really Hated ‘Lost in Translation’

I know more about Japan than the average American but I don’t know as much as someone who’s made a formal study of the country and it’s culture or someone who’s lived there.

For example, I’ve read Murakami. I even sort of dug him. I mean, you sort of have to give it up for a guy that can keep you reading for five hundred pages about a character who decides, for no reason I could ever figure out, to go sit in a dry well.

I have a passable knowledge of the Japanese economy. I see it as most people of my political and economic ideology do: the highly-centralized banking system is crippling the cash flow to fuel new economic growth. Whatever. No one listens to me until it’s too late.

There’s more. I did business with the Japanese Embassy for a couple of years so I’ve hung out there a few times. I was an early adopter of the j-horror movie genre. I was watching Starblazers at eleven years old. And, maybe most importantly, I’ve seen Gung Ho like half a dozen times.

But I have absolutely no idea how the Japanese mind operates.

Alright, first, it’s a little rock the size of Puerto Rico somewhere in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of China, right? How in the holy hell did they ever think it would be a good idea to fly all the way to Hawai, bomb the fuck out of it, and then actually think things were going to turn out well for them? What was the endgame? Were they going to eventually land in San Diego and push up in to the Napa Valley and we’d cede them our wine country?

But then these are the same guys who, historically, have time and again pushed well in to China and even held large swathes of it for substantial periods so I guess maybe them taking Kendall Jackson Wineries (I think they make a good product. I don’t care what anyone thinks.) might not have been a completely unreasonable goal for the Emperor.

Yet the Japanese are now numbered among our closest political allies (which means, under this Administration, we’ve screwed them over at every opportunity), have a Constitution closely modeled after our own (We wrote it, after all, and McArthur “suggested” the Emperor adopt it.), enjoy the fruits of a capitalistic economy like ours, and arguably view the world more like Americans than any other Asian country with the possible exception of South Korea.

Personally, I like the Japanese. I find their obsession with cleanliness and personal hygiene laudable. I like their sly wit. I like their graciousness. I like that they pay on time.

And now I’m going to the pool. Don’t worry. It will get better. Today’s the first day. There’s nowhere to go but up.

659 words, yo.

For Marcus George – I Really Hated ‘Lost in Translation’

I Have a Lot of Energy

It’s just negative energy.

I’ve been using variations of that line for a long time. I’m not sure if I made it up or if I ripped it off from somebody. It sounds like me, so it’s probably mine.

If you’re here you probably have at least an idea of what’s going on which is good because I’m a little shaky on the details, myself, but basically you, those who choose to participate in this project, have me, self-acknowledged hack, charlatan, snake oil salesman, and general purveyor of perceived value at your disposal for personalized–perhaps even alliterative–prose of fiction and non-fiction for the next 365 days. Maybe I could be persuaded to try a little verse. Or I could farm out a poetry request. I know just the guy.

Chew on that for a minute while I put a Xanax under my tongue.

Frankly, I’m worried that I’ve overcommitted myself. In fact, I’m thinking about puking out of the anxiety this thing is causing me. I won’t puke, but the muscles under my tongue and around my jaw feel tight and my surroundings seem…ominous. I can feel my pulse pounding in my throat. I’m more or less on the verge of a full on panic attack and, if I was so inclined, could probably talk myself in to hyperventilating.

See what I mean about the negative energy thing?

I’m going to fill out the site as we go. For now, I just wanted to get something up to reassure those I’ve already promised stories and essays that they’ll, indeed, be getting them in full regalia and to calm myself by the sight of some words on the page. The bells and whistles, if they come, will come later.

On to the first essay, “The Future of Japan” for one of my most dear friends, Marcus George, who really should have known to be a hell of a lot more specific in his request.

j

I Have a Lot of Energy