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The Ode

Ode to the Writer

By Tom Foster

 

We are the lords and ladies of creation, yet we are still just players.
In the beginning we are as in the end.
We do not aspire, we simply do.
There is the dream, tempered by the reality, and given form by the thought.
By our thought, by our dreams, and by the reality we impose.
It’s a madness of the sort that only poets and writers can truly understand, and even among those only a few can comprehend.
Comprehension, that is a truly frightening thing.
We play with words, we are those that can immortalize, and those that can do what must be said and say what must be done.
It is confusion, this comprehension, and in the midst of it all, it is the single word that carries power, the one among all that is ever elusive, ever there, always waiting for us to return to, to remind us what it is that drives us, what keeps the fountain flowing.
Every last soul that has ever put ink to paper, ever put finger to key, every vague idea that swirls inward from the maelstrom we call the world, the universe, and everything in between and without.
For everything that could come, for everything that has and will come, we are there. We are the ones that do not deny the voice that tells us, “this must come to pass”, or “this must be remembered”.
It is who we are, what we do, and through everything, it is the lifeblood of those who cherish this timeless art form, this undeniable urge to say, in their own manner, “I AM”.
We are not gods, we create, and yet in the process, we are created. It is our words, penned and copied throughout the ages that have helped to shape the world, to say that, “WE ARE”, that “WE EXIST”.
Whether tyrant or savior, good or evil, saint or sinner, the words that are put to time’s test are those that will come to define the world we know. Memory is not enough, though it serves.
As do we.
We are the lords of creation, the ones whose words will last and echo into the ages, for all to see, and all to remember.
Is it truth?
The better question is: Does it matter?
We are the lords and ladies of creation, and by our words, the world we know is shaped, molded, and given to the next generation, and so on and so forth until the whole mess ends, only to be rebuilt, and to crumble again.
We are the lords and ladies of Creation, and this is our legacy.

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Why Is Communication So Hard for Some People?

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This can happen pretty much anywhere, in the workplace, at home, in a relationship, or even just between two individuals that are meeting for the first time. Communication issues can happen for a variety of reasons, but mot of the time it means that one person is talking and the other person either isn’t listening or isn’t understanding what’s being said. The language barrier that exists between people is also a big problem where communication is concerned, but we’ll leave alone for the time being since a whole other discussion that can take up article after article on its own.

One major problem when it comes to communication is that one party or the other simply doesn’t listen, and this can cause a major upset in any relationship, be it business or personal. There are of course reasons why this happens.

Some people have a severe superiority complex.

This can be detrimental to a speaker or a listener since a lot of it has to do with control and who can take it from the other person. In any relationship this tends to foster resentment in those that feel that they must continuously compete with another when it comes to getting their point across or being heard at all. Those with this complex tend to want to control the situation at all times and might even shut down emotionally and mentally if they can’t retain the control they so badly need. This means that they will actively stop listening to anything that doesn’t conform with their point of view or challenges it in any way. For those that have to deal with this any given situation can be quite frustrating since trying to get a word in edgewise is tough, and trying to listen to someone as they attempt to control your every movement is a bit annoying.

Unfortunately this kind of person is hard to simply avoid since this complex doesn’t just go away.

You’re simply not compatible.

There are people in this world that just can’t get along for anything no matter how much they try. They can be civil at their very best but with some people the differences between them make communication a strained and very tense thing most of the time that can become difficult to impossible in a very short period. In situations like this it tends to be best to do what is necessary to communicate and then, to keep the peace and the communication flowing, go your separate ways. That might seem like odd advice, but if you truly can’t reconcile with a person then keeping an open line of communication is best done when you only converse when you absolutely have to, so as to keep the one line between you as open as it can be.

Not everyone in this world is destined to get along but it always pays to be as civil as you can be to others, particularly in the workplace.

Some folks expect others to be mind-readers.

This is perhaps one of the most annoying and most damaging expectations to put on anyone when it comes to keeping lines of communication open. The phrase “you should know” is tossed around far too often in any situation and is at times used to absolve responsibility when things go wrong on one person’s end and they don’t wish to fess up to the fact that they erred in some critical way. No one should ever be assumed to be a mind-reader in any situation as the whole idea of being able to ‘read someone’s mind’ has more to do with personal experience with a person and having established a solid line of communication with them rather than just being able to anticipate what someone will do in any given situation.

In the workplace mind-reading is a product of getting to know someone, which means that you need to be open and communicate with them first.

Communication is key to the human race in many ways, as we tend to need to talk to one another in order to get things done.

No Place for Snowflakes

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Ever heard the saying “Don’t want none won’t be none”? Or how about another variation “Don’t start  nothin’, won’t be nothin'”? A lot of us have, and the saying might not be grammatically correct but it’s as accurate as it can be. If you can dish it but can’t take it out then don’t start it in the first place. Now obviously the image up above is a direct stab at Trump, but let’s expand on it a bit. It’s for liberals as well as conservatives, Republicans as well as Democrats. It’s for anyone that put their opinion out there for people to read and expect it to stick, but can’t seem to take the criticisms that are launched their way when it comes time for the other side to speak.

Oh yeah, I’m a part of this too, but the difference is that I’ll stand here and take the barbs and the slings and the arrows and the shit when it starts flying. Who else is going to stand up when they speak and not whine about fake news or how Trump is a dictator and needs to be impeached?

If you can’t take the heat then don’t stand so close to the fire.

There are a lot of different ways to say this but if you can dish out the bs all day with a big smile on your face and then whine about “fake news” when people start saying things you don’t like and reporting on things that the POTUS actually SAID, then you’ve become a hypocrite of the worst sort. If you back up a man that acts like a jackass in front of the American public and the world at large but won’t admit some of his biggest faults because he’s the POTUS and his word is law, then odds are you can’t handle criticism in your own life.

Yeah, that’s a general statement, but in some cases it’s likely very true since a lot of those that consider Trump to be the best thing that ever happened to America will forgive him the way a lot of people will forgive a child that throws a tantrum in the store because they were told they couldn’t have a piece of candy.

Don’t cheer too loudly liberals, you’re in this mess too.

So deriding and berating your opponent is considered the honorable thing to do these days? Encouraging your constituents and followers to harass people that are allied with Trump and are a part of his cabinet when they’re out in public is okay? Whining about things without trying to make a change is okay? Grow up. This world doesn’t hand you anything, it’s not fair and it’s not going to be anytime soon. Even if Trump wasn’t in office and someone else was one side or the other is going to vilify one another in the worst way and the other side will praise their candidate as though they’re the Messiah reborn.

You want equality? You want equity? Work for it, push for it, convince people that it’s worth it, and then talk when it’s denied without a single reason as to why. Don’t cry that the world is unfair, it’s been that way for longer than many of us could possibly remember, and it’s going to be that way when our bones are dust on the winds.

This world is no place for snowflakes no matter who you are, what group you belong to, and what your ideals are. It’s okay to be yourself, to have different ideals, and to follow different people. But the moment you sink to the level of your supposed enemies is the moment you’ve lost. Grow up, wise up, and move on.

Don’t Get ‘Em Mad (part IV)

(continued)

Planet: Buluakey

City: Kualtal Capital

And so it had gone for nearly two hours, the Canin knocking back one shot of potent liquor known as Murtan’s Tongue, a fiery yet sweet drink that was harvested from the sweat glands of a Mirseyan glass mole and combined with several fragrances and spices native to Buluakey. The resulting concoction was something that only those with the strongest of constitutions would dare drink, and among the Kulah it was quite a delicacy. Nal had ended buying nearly a dozen bottles before it had become evident that the Canin had been starting to show obvious signs of being defeated.

Kulah’s and their drinking habits were well known, and by the time the Canin had started in with the insults to Nal, to the Kulah, and to their world in general, his clawed digits had been seeking out each shot as though the wolfish creature had gone blind, stumbling through the discarded glasses, some of which had been removed since they’d needed to be cleaned and used again. Nal had watched patiently, his normally yellow skin having turned bright shades of violet in many areas. Despite this he’d been feeling pretty good, and might have even suggested to the Canin that he needed to consider stopping.

But the arrogant creature had needed a lesson in manners, and if he could have done so without violence then Nal was determined, at that time, to do so.

“You, you can’t, can’t drinnkk, outdrrrnk, a Cannnin,” the spacefarer had said, slurring each word as he’d gone on, “Kulah’re, jus’, jus’ purple sacs of, of pus, you don’t, (urp) matter. No one, reshpects, th’ Kuulaah,” the Canin had laughed at his poor attempt at an insult, but no one in the bar had been laughing at that time. Nal’s usually reserved smile had even slipped at this point, and he’d been ready to end the contest. But he wasn’t about to forfeit.

“Quit should now you,” Nal said with a nod, “Drunk I barely am. Have lost you.”

“Whaaat?” the Canin had said with a throaty chuckle, “Can’t, unnershtan’ you, bighead, one-eyed…..”

At this Nal had bristled, for he’d known what was coming and knew that the Canin would regret it if any in the bar took offense, as he’d been inclined to do. If there was one thing that the Kulah didn’t care to be called, it was that one word. They could withstand pretty much any insult without violence, but for some reason the word “freak” simply set off even the most gentle among their race.

“Say do it not,” Nal almost growled, his single eye narrowing dangerously as he felt his grip upon his next shot tighten.

The Canin had bared his teeth at Nal yet again, leaning close as the alcohol on his breath had wafted forward in a great wash of spirits and something like rotted meat.

“Or what,” the Canin leered, “will you do? Freak?”

Things got a little messy after that.

(to be continued)

Everyone Breaks (part IV)

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(continued)

Origin (formerly Long Beach Peninsula)

May 8th, 2073

She’d done what no one else before her had done, she’d breached the boundary of Origin! Oh how her father would look at her if he was here to see. He’d probably soil himself to realize that the fruit of his loins, a woman he’d thought was utterly worthless since the day she was born, had done something that few people would have ever been daring enough to try. And it had been so much easier than she’d believed possible.

The monstrous fish that patrolled the Dark Ribbon that ran between Impact and this place did not stretch their boundaries to the bay that separated the peninsula from the mainland. While many knew this fact they didn’t know why. It was because other creatures called the bay home, and while they weren’t quite as vicious as the dreaded Durgess they were every bit as deadly. The giant harbor seals, the immense demon crabs, and the rumored leviathan that lurked at the deepest parts of the bay were all stories that she and many others of eastern Washington had been told as children, and she had no reason to doubt them.

In fact she could easily swear that she’d seen a large, ominous shadow looming below her canoe even as she’d been doing her best to fend off the few crabs and seals that had dared to come close. The electrical panels that were rigged to the bottom of her canoe, called thumpers, had dissuaded many of those creatures that would have otherwise tried to sink her, but a few of the bravest had still felt the bite of the blades she had on her person at all times.

Now however, standing upon the dry and very overgrown shore that had once been a place called Nahcotta, Marnie couldn’t help but smile in satisfaction as she spread her arms wide, savoring the victory for what it was.

“Are you done congratulating yourself?”

The hooked blades that were harnessed on her back were in her hands in the next second as she opened her eyes, assuming a ready stance, dropping into a crouch as the man standing several yards away just stared at her. Or rather, glared at her.

“I haven’t seen weapons like those in a while,” he mused, “Do you even know how to use them?”

Her immediate response was hard to bite back, but as she looked upon the strangely-dressed individual she found it more amenable to be polite and not overly confrontational in that moment.

“Are you the caretaker, of this place I mean?” she asked. Marnie felt foolish in that moment as the words came tumbling out. But as the man hefted his own weapon, a white staff that seemed to glow from within….

Wait, where had that come from? She hadn’t seen it just a moment ago when she’d opened her eyes. What the hell?

“I am,” he replied simply, “And now that we’ve got that out of the way, you were just about to turn around and leave.”

Marnie’s temper rose quickly yet again as she cocked her head, smiling faintly as she replied, “Only if you can make me.”

The caretaker shook his head as he twirled his staff once. Why were they always so foolish?

(to be continued)

Being Tough With Your Kids

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Anyone else feel like we live in an era where we have to walk on eggshells with our own kids? You can’t yell at them, can’t reprimand them, can’t even discipline them without someone having an opinion and threatening to call child services. Now let’s get something straight right from the start: abusing your kids is not okay in way, shape, or form, but there is a big, fat, glow in the dark line between abuse and discipline. While some people get it wrong and cross that line without thinking about it others know where it rests and don’t often step over it if at all.

Disciplining your kids, being rough on them, is not abuse, nor is it a bad habit to get into if you have one or more children. The way a lot of us were raised wasn’t perfect, but in this day and age a lot of use that were products of the 50s all the way to the 80s at least know enough to have some self-discipline and can recall what happened if we stepped out of line. We learned to behave, toe the line, and how to deal with people being tough on us. Obviously not everyone born after the 80s is an over-sensitive, entitled brat, but there are far too many that think the world owes them something, which means that as children they were taught that the world would provide whenever they needed anything.

Disabusing your kids of this notion is one big step towards teaching them that the world will provide if they’re willing to work for what they get.

Being tough on a child does not mean dragging them down or making them feel worthless.

There’s no need to tell a child that they are worthless, EVER. So they don’t get something right or can’t figure out just what to do next in a given activity, so what? You stand by them, behind them, wherever you need to, and teach them how to do it. You might need to let them fail a dozen times or more and it might test your patience to the breaking point. But children are tough, they’re resilient, and so long as you lift their spirits while being tough with them they will learn.

The goal isn’t to tear them down by being tough, but to harden their resolve and encourage them when they do something right.

They aren’t perfect, so don’t treat them that way.

Your children might be perfect in your eyes, but treating them this way does not prepare them for the world.

Yes your child is perfect, to YOU. But to the rest of the world they are another child that is meant to do things that children do, to play, to run, to learn, and to be hardened up in a way that will allow them to grow as individuals. Don’t worry that teachers, coaches, and others that interact with your child might be a bit rough on them at times, it is a rite of passage for all of us, so long as it doesn’t cause any lasting damage. People being hard on kids is another part of life that readies them as they grow older. And hey, if you’re not going to do it, then the world your child endures will one way or another.

By being tough on your kid, but fair, you can better prepare them for a world that doesn’t care if they succeed or not.

At one point or another your child will fail, so let them.

You don’t do your child any favors by holding their hand and helping them up every time they fall down. It’s important to be there, to teach them, to guide them, and to make sure that the world doesn’t break them until they’re ready for such a challenge. But don’t coddle them and don’t let them become spoiled, entitled brats that think the world is theirs for the taking. That’s a good way to watch your kid be broken down by a world that won’t stand for an entitled attitude that can’t back such beliefs up. If you want your kid to be truly tough and capable of withstanding this world then you will let them fall, you will let them fail, but you will be there IF they need you.

Being a good parent doesn’t mean coddling your child and raising them to think that you will always be there to kiss their boo-boos and give them whatever they want. You want to be a good parent? Be loving, be kind, but be willing to be tough on your child when it’s warranted.

The Writer vs. The Reader

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Said the Reader to the Writer “Your stories are great, I love them so

They keep me entertained.

But what why do your stories seem to go

from happiness to sorrow, misery and pain?”

Said the Writer “This is the story, the way that things must be

Nothing can be happy or sad or glad or mad or always just the same

There must be life within the tale, a sense of true reality.”

The Reader snorted and shook his head, “Reality is too tame,

I want action and lots of stuff that reality just can’t give.

I want dragons and genies and stuff and heroes without a name!”

The Writer just sighed and shook her head, “Then you want far too much.

A story is something we writers give

To those without the touch.”

The Reader, red and flustered now, said “You can’t write it that’s why you won’t!

You’re washed up and finished and beat down with age

You say you want to but you don’t!

With me, without us, you have nothing left, your mind is just a cage.

You’ll wither and wilt and your ideas will rot

Without a reader it’s your story’s death knell.”

The Writer smiled “You’ve likely forgot

There will always be a story to tell.”

Living in Crazytown

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Living in a Crazytown where the roads are made of butter

The sidewalks all have bread crumb tiles

And the buildings are made of rubber.

We never just walk down the street, we slide and slip along

In Crazytown we eat our shoes with jelly

With some caffeine that’s nice and strong.

There is no breakfast no lunch no winner chicken dinner

There are no saints or good guys here

But you can always be a sinner

There is no bad there is no good in Crazytown we have no rules

You watch out, pick up, lift up, flop out

There’s no education and no schools

There’s only crazy, nothing more and nothing less

If you want to get to Crazytown

You’re crazy, more or less.

-Mayor McCheese of Crazytown

 

Everyone Breaks (part III)

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(continued)

Impact (formerly known as Astoria), OR

May 8th, 2073

“It’s not too late to turn back.”

The voice startled him so badly that he lost his footing as he spun about, thinking to grab for the long knife he carried at his belt but failing as he landed hard on his butt. The figure that had spoken remained standing a good arm’s length away, his features emotionless, or perhaps a little perturbed, it was hard to tell.

“Who, who are-”

“The one telling you to go back,” the man said, “That’s who.”

The stranger in front of him was dressed in an old style that he had only seen in books, with what looked like faded blue jeans, what could have been ancient sneakers on his feet, and some light jacket made of a material that was similar to that of his gliding suit. But it wasn’t his clothing that really set this man apart, it was his features.

Dark, ebon orbs glared at him from beneath bushy eyebrows. A face that looked as though it had been carved from stone and a body that looked much the same made the man look rather dangerous, as though he could pick him up and break him in half. He refused to be afraid though, and stood to his feet.

“And what if I don’t?” he asked defiantly, “What if I decide that my destiny is on the other side of the river?”

“It’s not,” the man said plainly, “You’re not my son, and I never knew your mother, much as I’ve told a number of young men and women that have tried to enter my home in the last several months. Go home, find a wife, and live nice long and peaceful existence, far away from here.”

There wasn’t a lot of give in the man’s words, but as he turned to view the river he knew that he wouldn’t be going back.

“Your decision,” the man said behind him, “and your grave.”

That widened his eyes as he turned back around, seeing nothing, not even an impression in the grass where the man had been standing. But his resolve was stronger than ever now, though he couldn’t fully understand why.

*                   *                    *

40 minutes later…

Something had gone horribly wrong. He’d caught the first thermal he could find from the first broken piece of the bridge, and had been flying high enough to set his plan into motion. The cable and grapnel he’d purchased from a trader just a month ago was new enough and sound enough to allow him to swing from one section to the other, trusting in the gusts of wind that would carry him along.

But upon this last jump something had gone awry. The powerful updraft he’d felt and had started navigating only a few moments ago and inexplicably died away, leaving him without anything other than a watery view that exploded quite suddenly into a gaping, tooth-lined maw that rose from the river to envelop him.

The stranger had been right, it was his funeral, and his grave.

*                     *                      *

Origin

He should have felt guilty, but he didn’t. He’d warned every last would-be thrillseeker and stranger claiming to be his kin or spawn away from this place, but no one seemed willing to listen. Even as he stood there he could feel the unseen barrier he’d erected around this place being penetrated for the third time in as many months.

Sighing to himself, the caretaker flexed his will and was gone from the spot he’d selected to watch the demise of the young man that had thought to enter this place, ready to toss another dim-witted soul to the wilds.

(to be continued)

Don’t Get ‘Em Mad (part III)

(continued)

Planet: Buluakey

City: Kualtal Capital

Nal was more than just the resident drinking champion around the capital however, he was also one of the most important Kulah on the planet considering that aside from those that served on the Empyrean Council he was the head being on this world and the one that everyone came to when they needed something. But he enjoyed getting out among the people and getting his fingers grubby with the rest of them, and that included going to dives such as this one where spacefarers from all over the galaxy congregated. It was the best kind of spot to find the type of entertainment that Nal really enjoyed, unless of course it had to do with the idiocy of fighting.

He wasn’t afraid of a fight, no Kulah ever was, but Nal was more fond of drinking and partying while having a good time. The drama of combat wasn’t needed in a setting like this in his estimation. But some people had to learn the hard way.

The Canin that had bothered to step into his personal space after learning that Nal was the Kulah to challenge for drinking might have been fine had he not bothered to become so aggressive with his challenge. Of course Nal had been more than happy to accommodate, after all he’d stumbled home on more than one night after teaching a local patron or a visitor what it meant to really put the drinks away. The Canin however was not the kind of customer that this establishment cared for, but until he’d crossed the line he’d been relatively safe.

If not for the translator technology that was so prevalent among the many worlds in this system the Canin’s words would have sounded rather harsh and no doubt quite savage to Nal’s sensitive auditory nodes, but even with the translation in place Nal had frowned lightly as the Canin had invaded and then taken over his conversation with a visiting human from the world of Stotscha. Rudely pushing the other fellow aside, the Canin had barked in his own language right into Nal’s slightly purplish face.

“I hear you’re the one to beat around here when it comes to drinking,” the Canin had growled, eyeing Nal up and down, “You don’t look like much.”

Nal had taken another quaff of his drink, a heady liquor made from the brull berries that were so abundant upon his world. His cheeks had turned a bit more purple as he’d drank, a side effect for any Kulah that had been drinking to excess, which was the common habit of his people. Upon putting it down, Nal had responded.

“Am person that I.”

The Canin had sneered at Nal’s broken Basic, as the Kulah were well-known for twisting sentences around and speaking them in a manner that was quite disorienting to some species.

“You think you can beat me?” the Canin had sneered, displaying his teeth in an open show of aggression. Nal had just smiled in return, taking another drink before setting it down.

“Can course of I.”

And that was just the start.

(to be continued)

The Ruination

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Once upon a time there was a man that was elected leader of his country. Many believed he was smart, sophisticated, and the right kind of individual to lead the people into the future. But before he was ever elected he made it known that he was loud, boorish, and incapable of praising others over himself. He became known as a pestilence upon his country, though while good things did come from his leadership he presented a face that was anything but loved by ALL the people. Those that loved him tended to alienate those that did not, and those that did not railed against him, howling and jeering in ways that made them look quite foolish even as those that loved him condemned them mercilessly.

This leader taunted other world leaders, he showed them utter disrespect and convinced his followers that he was to be admired, loved, and respected for his diligence and that those world leaders had in turn respected him. Those that sought to tell his story were discredited the moment they said anything he didn’t care for, their reputations laid on the line for others to belittle and berate. He went to war with his own people by declaring that the storytellers were liars, thieves of minds, and were unfair in their telling of his story. For their own part, the storytellers were inspired and angered by this and continued to tell the story in their own voices, painting a picture of the leader that was anything but flattering as he continued to glorify himself.

He was good at this, at that, and the best in everything he spoke of, according to the leader, and he was the only one that could lead his nation into a bright future. Humility was a pretty words that he disdained, as was respect, as was decency, and honor. He spoke harshly of his opponents, derided those that did not share his ideals, and watched his countrymen fight among themselves while he cheered on those that sought to further his goals. He incited violence when he spoke, and praised those that thought as he did, all the while seeming not to notice the serious divide that was occurring in his people.

Yet his followers loved him all the more, claiming he was the man for the job, the genius, the person that was much smarter than anyone because he was among the richest men in the land. He had a superior education, that was somehow lost the moment his mouth opened. His messages were taken as gospel, until they became unintelligible and quite childish. To his followers the supposed misrepresentation of his words was a sin, a fable concocted by his enemies, and not to be taken seriously.

In time, the leader’s term in office was about to lapse, and another leader was set to take over…

….but that, is a story yet to be told.