Revamp

Well, it’s May 2017, and somehow the world is still turning. So that’s a positive, I guess. Anyhow, welcome back to Fraudulent Pictures, both to you, my imaginary readers, and to me, your imaginary host. I’ve taken the past few months off from publishing on this website, both because I’ve been swamped with grad school and also because all form of artistic expression seemed pointless in a world where moronic populism and blatant bigotry actually wins. But school’s over and my nihilism is becoming bearable again, so I’ve decided to re-devote myself to the whole writing thing.

Starting next week, I will be publishing three times a week with new material. If I do this correctly, I will not only be able to keep my deadlines, but also build a buffer to keep this shindig going through next semester as well. Nothing like paying for a domain name to convince you to keep working.

On Mondays, I am bringing back Undercurrents, a weekly and thoroughly hypertexted exploration of a world news story otherwise ignored by the American media’s near sociopathic devotion to all things Trump. In the interest of keeping my interest, I will only be focusing on a single story each week, but hopefully, that will be more than enough to depress you.

On Wednesdays, I will be publishing a poem of some kind, since poems are fun. A reminder, if you have Tumblr and want some very short poems to occasionally grace your feed in between the fan fic and dog pictures, you can follow me here.

On Fridays, I will post a new essay regarding history, movies, photography, books and other such things worth writing about. These essays are divided into new feature sections which include:

·         Specters: the real/imagined stories of individuals I have come across in the many, many books I must inevitably read to become a historian. Given the limited nature of archival sources, particularly in regards to individuals who aren’t white elite men, these stories will toe the line between fact and fiction.

·         Captured History: a look at photography as an alternative way to understand our collective history. If you’re interested in what I mean, why not check out this old essay?

·         Life During Wartime: an examination of the lives of famous artists/writers/filmmakers/etc. who lived through times of war, revolution and societal decay, using the work they produced (or didn’t produce) during that time.

·         Celluloid Histories: in which I situate a specific film within its historic context, considering the ways it reflects broader aspects of its country of origin’s history or culture, as well as its place within filmic history itself.

·         Loose Ends: pretty much anything else that wouldn’t make a good ongoing feature

I’m not gonna limit myself to just these features, but it’s nice to have a blueprint. And if these descriptions don’t make a lot of sense, no worries, you’ll get what I mean in time. So, if you have any interest in all of this, come around on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays, subscribe to the RSS feed, or if you have Twitter, follow the new Twitter account I made for this revamp. It features updates and oh so many lies.

So, if you’ve made it this far and are still interested, I hope you stick around. I really do enjoy writing, so I’m gonna keep doing it regardless, but you know, having an audience would be a nice plus. Who knows, maybe we’ll both learn something from this venture.

 

-A

Knight Errantry (Part 1)

Knight Errantry (Part 1)

An Interactive* Adventure Story

mountain-lake

*Actually non-interactive. As in much of real life, your agency here is merely an illusion.

 

 

You are a gallant knight errant of indeterminate gender, wandering the land with nothing but the sword on your hip and the clothes on your back. After several days wandering the plains, you come to a village at the foot of a great chain of mountains. Farms dot the nearby hills, while the main bulk of the village is huddled around the trade road on which you are traveling. The road continues on towards the mountains, disappearing into a great forest which clings to the middle of the range before disappearing into the snowy peaks.

As you enter the village, dirt-splattered children run past playing some sort of war game. A wizened old crone eyes you as she beats the dust out of an old rug. You eye her back. You come to a large two-story building, which you take to be the local inn. A sign above the door reads “The Spotted Weasel”. You are uncertain if weasels are actually spotted.

 

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

  1. Enter “The Spotted Weasel”. You need a drink and a bed.
  2. Pick a fight with the wizened crone, teach her to stare down strangers.
  3. Join the children in their war games. Show them whose boss.

 

You enter “The Spotted Weasel”. Upon entering you see a bar stretching out against the back wall, with five bar stools in front of it. Three tables are spread out around the room. To your left are stairs that lead to the spare rooms. To your right, the wall is covered in curios and what you assume to be the work of local peasant artists. A tack board in the center of the wall features a few wanted posters and notifications from the King.

Behind the bar stands the bartender, a paunchy man with a giant handlebar moustache which is either incredibly out of fashion or just about to trend. Sitting on a stool at the end of the bar is a cloaked man who didn’t turn to look at you when you opened the door. At one of the three tables sit three older men playing some kind of card game. A maiden of around 15, dressed in drabby skirt with a kerchief covering her dirty blond hair, has just delivered three mugs to the card-playing men. You take her to be the bar wench.

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

  1. Take a seat at a table and wait for the underage bar wench to serve you like the knight you are.
  2. Join the older men in their card game. You have a terrible gambling habit and need a proverbial pair of new shoes.
  3. Take a seat at the bar, preferably one away from the cloaked man. He may smell.

 

You grab a seat at the stool farthest from the cloaked man. He side-eyes you for a moment and then returns to his ale. The bartender approaches. He looks you over quickly and then glances at the Wanted board. Satisfied you are no criminal here to bloody his delicately-restored oak floorboards, he grabs a glass from beneath the bar top.

Heyo, stranger. What’ll it be?”

 

WHAT SHALL YOU DRINK?

  1. Just water, thanks. Need to watch my caloric intake if I want to maintain these buns of steel.
  2. A hearty mead, my good mate! Then we can toast to the gods!
  3. Strawberry daiquiri, double the rum.

 

The bartender attends to your order. You lean your sword against the counter top, both to have it at the ready and to free up your waist for some fine mead. The bar wench disappears into a room behind the bar. The older men grumble quietly to themselves. This tavern/inn is a lot quieter than the ones you are used to, but you are pretty deep into the boonies. The bartender returns and hands you a frothy tankard of mead.

Stranger to these parts, are ya? I do say, what with the bandits having the lay of the land these days, we don’t see too many of your kind passing through. In fact, except for you and that fella down there, we haven’t had an outsider stop by in nigh on three weeks. Luckily the farmers around here are a bunch of drunks and so keep me in business, ya know what I mean.

You nod at this outpouring of exposition and take a swig. It’s heavier than you’re used to but still pretty good. The bartender smiles.

Now, will you be spending the night here as well? I’ve got the comfiest beds around, and you won’t have to worry about no wolves or bandits gutting you in the middle of the night.

You nod. The bartender claps his hands.

Excellent! I’ll have my girl set up your room right away!” And with that, he disappears into the backroom, joining the bar wench who is also apparently his daughter.

 

WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW?

  1. Stay here and drink quietly. This mead is lovelier the more you drink.
  2. The cloaked man doesn’t seem to smell. Maybe you’ll chat him up and see whether the bartender’s moustache is actually fashionable.
  3. Do a hearty jig because why the hell not?

 

Maybe the mead is stronger than you thought but after finishing off the tankard you move to the middle of the room and do the heartiest jig you ever done jigged. After several minutes of pulse-pounding technique, you halt gorgeously and bow. The three older men erupt in applause while the bartender and his daughter give you a magnificent cheer from the doorway. The cloaked man, who has watched your effort with growing interest, merely smiles.

Okay you weren’t actually supposed to choose the joke answer, moron. Let’s try it again and this time, take it seriously. This is an adventure story after all!!

You nod. The bartender claps his hands.

Excellent! I’ll have my girl set up your room right away!” And with that, he disappears into the backroom, joining the bar wench who is also apparently his daughter.

 

WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW?

  1. Stay here and drink quietly. This mead is lovelier the more you drink.
  2. The cloaked man doesn’t seem to smell. Maybe you’ll chat him up and see whether the bartender’s moustache is actually fashionable.
  3. Do a hearty jig because why the hell not?

 

You scoot over until you are next to the cloaked man. He glances your way. Now that you have a better look at him, you see his face is quite scarred. Under a greasy curtain of bangs, you see dark, sad eyes staring out at you. You stare at each other for a minute until the cloaked man, somewhat uncomfortable, asks, “May I help you?

 

WHAT WILL YOU SAY TO THE CLOAKED MAN?

  1. You may, my good gentleman. Perhaps you may know of some chivalric work that I, a true knight errant, may undertake for the glory and the sweet loot opportunities?
  2. Bro, what’s the deal with your face? There are more craters gracing your mug than on that bright celestial object that wanders our sky so many clear evenings.
  3. Do you believe in a thing called love? If not, may I listen to the rhythm of your heart?

 

The cloaked man is a bit shook by your flowery wordcraft, but he considers your query. “Knight errantry, we don’t get much of that out here. If you’re looking for work, you can try and get rid of those bandits old Gil was going on about earlier. The leader’s got quite a price on his head, at least according to the bounty hung up over there.” The cloaked man lazily points a thumb towards the tack board.

You walk over to the tack board to get a better look at the bounty. Centered among the array of goat-thieves and tax dodgers is a bounty for a “Clyne, Leader of the Moss Barrow Bandits”. An amateurish pencil drawing shows a wild-eyed bearded man with a scar over his left cheek. The gold reward for his capture or murder is quite high. Apparently, this bandit king of the boonies has done some damage. You return to the cloaked man.

Interested?” he asks. You nod. What else is there to do out here? Stare at trees? “Would you mind if I join you? I happen to know the area that they operate in quite well. Plus, when it comes to bandits, two sword arms tend to be better than one.

 

DO YOU ACCEPT THE OFFER OF COMPANIONSHIP FROM THIS STRANGE MAN WITH DUBIOUS AIMS WHOSE MYSTERIOUSNESS WILL NO DOUBT PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE FUTURE DRAMA?

  1. No. At worst he’ll betray you at some point and at best he’ll totally kill your ‘mysterious yet sexy loner’ shtick.
  2. Sure, some company would be nice. The voices in your head were starting to get a bit repetitive anyway.
  3. Oh but what is companionship in this cruel world where all are born alone and all shall die alone? What use fraternization when the selfish ego within us all diminishes our futile attempts to connect with our fellow man? Lo, who can truly know another if one can barely know oneself? And what of the…

 

The cloaked man raises his mug in cheers and drains it in one gulp. “Then I shall see you at dawn tomorrow. Until then, a good evening.” And with that farewell, the cloaked man rises from his stool and makes his way upstairs, no doubt to continue practicing his mysteriousness in the privacy of his own rented room. You watch him until he disappears and then return to your drink.

JUST WHAT ADVENTURES SHALL TOMORROW BRING? FIND OUT SOON IN PART TWO OF “KNIGHT ERRANTRY”!

All Eyes On The Bad One

 

LYRICS

all eyes on the bad one
sitting there
without a care

glances of knowing
judgment reigned
she’s guilty we know it
send her to the cane

her mother begs now
spare the girl
the demon inside her
may not be real

all eyes on the bad one
she doesn’t look scared
if she were not guilty
well she, would care

no one asked her
of what she thought
her guilt had already
been bought

in the square
they gathered and stared
as the girl was struck
by the men who cared

(Recorded October 2016)

The Gone

The Gone

The following is excerpted from the August 8, 2016 edition of The Buffalo News.

 

Two found dead in Batavia cemetery struck by lightning, police say

News Staff Reports

Lightning apparently claimed the lives of two people found dead Wednesday afternoon under a tree in St. Joseph Cemetery in Batavia following a thunderstorm earlier that morning, Batavia police said.

R.G., 34, of Newstead and J.M., 32, of Corfu, suffered from injuries consistent with being struck by lightning, according to the Erie County medical examiner, though the cause of death is still pending further tests.

Lightning struck the area sometime between 2:30 and 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, when a storm passed through the area, the National Weather Station said.

Both G. and M. were arrested last August in Bergen on drug charges, including possession of heroin and crack cocaine, along with hypodermic needles and other drug paraphernalia…

 

 

Two bodies in the cemetery only draw attention when they are not in the right place.

(The story is underwritten, and I have too many questions. Who found the bodies? What did they look like? What was found nearby? Were they identified from police records, or did somebody already know? And of course, there are the broader, unanswerable questions. Why were they there? What made them choose the cemetery? Did they have nowhere else to go? Did they enjoy irony?)

They had been out of confinement for some time, but now their names were besmirched. Young enough (in these days) to have a future, but now the indifferent, overworked office rats and hard-eyed landlords who scanned their resumes and rent agreements will only know them as addicts. Decades of side-eyed glances and mutual distrust ahead for them, assuming the heroin doesn’t do its job correctly.

‘Life is a hell without the comforting warmth’, she said once, as they lay in a stupor. He did not respond. He rarely did.

The currents had drowned them long ago. They were but waiting for their bodies to be snagged from the river by some elderly fisherman waiting out his own last days with rod and tackle. One could go back and trace the patterns of their lives, but it wouldn’t do ‘em any good. Such things are greater than a little private history.

It was cruel of the world to expose them to the concept of death and even crueler to sell them a living variation. The acceptable vices – alcohol, gambling, pornography, weed – could only dull the pain, blanch the emptiness. They were not strong enough to fill the hole.

They examined the vacuity of others, they asked ‘How do our neighbors and relations fill their holes?’ But the answers they found (shopping, boats, church on Sunday) were not applicable to them. Money was rarely a given and in their lives, God seemed only to chagrin.

Heroin was cheaper. Crack cocaine did not judge. In the embrace of opium, guilt was revealed as nothing but a human invention, and shame, nothing more than society’s whip.

They drew closer together. It was not love (junkie’s know no love) but a mutual understanding. They were the gone ones, the lost, orphans of the first world who in each other found safety and support. She was not terribly pleasant, he not very bright, but the bonds of the gone are stronger than such petty differences. In the shaded valleys and burnt hills of the gray lands, such bonds are all that matter.

With no place to go and nowhere to be, they wandered. Here, there and everywhere…

(This has all been a fiction, but let me be presumptuous for just a few paragraphs more.)

Summer nights were better, they needn’t worry about the New York chill that otherwise blanketed the land. The new supply was in, their release near. She said they needed somewhere quiet where they could be alone. With a self-satisfied grin, he suggested the cemetery. They were both probably aware of the irony.

The night had grown darker than usual. The wind was picking up. They sat down beneath a tree, surrounded by the granite totems of their gone kin. When she was younger and her flame still lit, such places as this inspired fear. She reflected on this as he prepared.

‘There is nothing the living fear more than the dead. There is nothing the dead care less for than the living.’ She understood where she now stood within this dynamic.

The wind was growing stronger, the tree seemed to rustle in agitation. The process was advancing, and they used the distant flashes to measure their work (it would save their phones’ battery, at least). A light rain began to tickle their arms. He watched the droplets wander his bicep as he searched for a vein.

The storm raced through with a fury.  In the distant houses, children stirred from their covers and hid in between the familiar warmth of their burned out parents. Dogs paced their living rooms in surprise, while their feline antagonists hid in the crooks of antique armchairs. For a few minutes, the world seemed on the edge of collapse, the very wind itself wailing in pain.

But soon the storm passed. The rain slowed and then stopped. The clouds broke and stars returned to their accustomed positions in the sky.

In the cemetery, the two figures leaned against each other. They did not move the whole night through. They did not move as the sun rose above the eastern hills, wiping away the stars like an overzealous maid. They did not move as the birds began their practiced routines, nor when the squirrels commenced their morning calisthenics up and down the tombstones and fences.

And they did not move when the police came for them a second time, notebooks in hand, mud flecking their leather shoes as they eyed the burnt skin and shooed away the ancient fear creeping up the back of their spines.

 

(August 2016)

Note: The article quoted at the beginning of this piece is real and can be found here. All that follows after is strictly fictional.

 

Undercurrents Update

Hey all.

So it turns out, writing about world news every week is actually a bit hard when the news climate you are relying on is pretty slow or repetitive. Even as the world seems to be imploding, not much is actually happening, and of that, even less is really worth writing about (which thus raises the question, why feel the need to write about it?) After a month of intense news-reading scrutiny, I have also come to the conclusion that most modern news actually tells you very little. It makes one truly wonder how they are supposed to remain informed. Perhaps memes? I don’t know.

So, for the immediate future, I’m going to back off of Undercurrents unless I get some meaty stories worth exploring. As I don’t actually have regular readers, it isn’t much of a problem. The fact I’m even writing this is for a self-imposed professionalism.

I’m considering other features which are 1. not as time-consuming and 2. not reliant on outside factors and the work of others. If you care, then keep paying attention to the site or my social media. I’ll let you know.

Anywho, I will still keep updating every Friday as long as I don’t exhaust all of my saved-up scribblings.

Cheers.

New Weekly Feature: Undercurrents!

Hello all. Nice to see you again. Is that a new haircut? Looks adorable! On to the news.

Today I am posting the inaugural issue of what I am provisionally calling Undercurrents (I like the name though, so it will probably stick). Undercurrents is a weekly roundup of some of the global going-ons that perhaps didn’t make it into your radar. What with all the terrorism, Trump-Clinton chaos and creepy Margot Robbie profiles, news really does tend to fall through the cracks. Well researched and hyperlinked like nobody’s business, this can be your weekly dive into the deep end of world events. I try especially hard to connect these stories with greater global trends (or ‘currents’, get it?) in the hopes of showing you the larger patterns underlying so much of the day-to-day news cycle.

Now you may ask yourself, why should I listen to this rando on the internet talk about politics? Good question! I honestly can’t give you a great answer for that. But I will say that a.) I have been an avid news junkie for the past twelve years, b.) I have a bachelor’s in international relations and a strong grounding in global political trends (particularly in the Middle East & East Asia, which will probably come up a bunch) and c.) I try really hard to make this shit both understandable and funny (’cause most global politics is inherently absurd anyway).

After today, Undercurrents will update weekly on Wednesdays. Other than today, this will not interrupt my Friday posts, meaning you’ll now get TWO writings a week!!! Why is no one applauding?

Well, cheers! I’ll probably chat with you again in a few months. I may be in a better mood then. Autumn is the best time of the year~~~~~

Introduction

Hello! How are you? My name is Adam and I have finally got around to staking a pleasant little plot of land in the interwebs on which to display my ramblings to bored or lost denizens of cyberspace. Before I start, I would like to thank you personally for cutting away from your busy schedule of viewing cat pics and pornography to check out my site. My work is not as exciting as naked people or cats, but I assure you, it’s not absolute garbage.

I have been writing stories, poems, essays, fragments, vignettes and other assorted whatnot since I was a kid. It’s a lot of fun. And while 98% of that writing was and is terrible, there is 2% accumulated that I would like to share. I also have a lot of ideas for the future and I hope at least some of them work out.

So once more, thank you for reading. And I look forward to whatever it is this thing becomes.