Tuesday, July 31, 2012

...after the Iron Maiden concert.


“Maiden!” He screams to the crowd around him.

“Maiden!” They respond, voices still hoarse from screaming all night.

“Maiden?” He calls again, lost in their shared moment.

“Maiden!” They answer, unified in joy at their still recent, still unbelievably potent communal experience.

“Maiden!”

“Maiden!”

“Maiden!”

“Maiden!”

“Mai?”

“Den!”

“Mai!”

“Den!”

“Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden! Maiden…”

I’d completely forgotten that Iron Maiden were playing in town until I was done work that night and ready to head home.

It was basically the worst train ride I’d ever had.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Bangs

http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/29/weekly-challenge-327-feather/


Bangs
By Christopher Munroe

His bangs feather like the wings of some majestic bird, even at forty-five.

The hair’s thinner now, but the bangs haven’t changed.

He’s gone to this pub since nineteen, since his last hit, though he didn’t know it’d be his last at the time. People here leave him alone.

Mostly.

She, nearly forty herself, works up the courage to approach. She’s been trying all night.

“I’m sorry, but aren’t you?”

“Why yes, I am.”

She blushes, fourteen again, and he smiles that same smile from years before.

And taking her home later, he can’t help thinking: Life isn’t so bad.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Account of the Brief Time I Lived in a John Cougar Mellencamp Song


It wasn’t a large town, but it was a beautiful one, in its way.

Picturesque, charming. The sort of town where everybody knew everybody, and everybody had a smile for you whenever you needed one. The people were friendly, the view of the lake from the porch of the house where I was living was amazing, it seemed the perfect place to settle down and finally start a family.

And yet…

Beneath the surface, everything seemed… spent, somehow. Hollow. Like the town’s best days were behind it.

Everyone was friendly, true, but there was a sadness lurking as they went through their lives. They spoke often of their personal glories of days past, but nobody ever seemed to do anything in the now.

Imperceptibly, something was off about every single person I met there. They wanted something, something they couldn’t quite put their finger on, and until they had it they somehow knew they wouldn’t be complete. Couldn’t be complete.

And to make matters worse, nobody seemed able to properly articulate what it was they lacked. So they moved through their days, charming, smiling, lost, knowing they were lost, not knowing why, and as I watched them do so I knew I couldn’t stay.

I couldn’t live among these people, their sadness was too contagious. I found myself wondering more and more what might have been had my own life gone differently, had I made different choices. Too often, I would find myself fondly remembering my own youth as I sat at the counter of the town’s local diner, not often enough would I be actually doing the things that make life living out there in the world.

There’s a lot to make life living, if you’re willing to look for it. A million marvels just outside your door, waiting to be discovered. I’d made that notion the centerpiece of my life, and my new home was slowly causing me to forget it.

Which was unacceptable. So I had to go, and never look back.

And that’s why I moved away from the John Cougar Mellencamp song, and lived in a Journey song instead. The small town there was exactly the same, except that people still dreamed big…

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: How to Respect a Woman

Odd story this week, by which I mean "one that really has to be read out loud to work in context." Even if you don't normally listen to the 100 Words Weekly Challenge, and are content to merely read my story on this blog, I strongly recommend that you make an exception. Here's the link...

http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/22/weekly-challenge-326-power/

...and for those of you who absolutely insist on merely reading the text, here it is.


How To Respect a Woman
By Chris Munroe

To love a woman, you must first learn how to properly respect a woman.

And to respect a woman, you must first connect with her.

Connect through eye contact, or physically. Touch her arm as you speak, brush hair out of her eyes. That’s a very real source of connection.

Connect intellectually. Ask her questions about herself, get to know everything about her.

But most importantly, connect on a deep, spiritual level. Like so…

I wanna know what love is, and I want you to show me!

I wanna feel what love is, and I know you can show me!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where I Get My Ideas


There’s a place in the woods behind the house where I grew up that nobody knows about but me.

It’s not far from where I used to live, but the woods thicken before you reach it, and there is no path. This renders it difficult to find, I wouldn’t have found it myself had I not been the kind of child who easily became obsessed with the abstract ideal of exploration.

The fact that I couldn’t get there easily only made me want to see what was out there even more.

It’s a little clearing in the middle of the woods, with high, thick trees obscuring the view back to the town. If you hadn’t walked there, and you’d have to walk there, you’d never know it was anywhere near civilization.

It’s beautiful area. Very peaceful.

Except for one night a year, in the fall. That night, when the moon is high and heavy, a crack of lightning rends the sky in twain, and a great, gaping chasm opens in the very earth itself.

Out of that chasm steps the Storyteller.

He’s tall, and thin, a thing more of shadow than flesh, his smile seemingly made of the very moonlight that is the only source of life.

He’s not human, exactly, though if you squint your eyes a little you could pretend he was if you need to believe him to be.

I never needed that particular belief.

And for that night, he spins his tales. Tales of mystery, and of horror, tales of adventure, or ones that paint worlds as more beautiful and bizarre than anyone could possibly imagine.

Exactly as beautiful and bizarre as the world truly is, if we chose to see it.

He spins his yarns ‘til daybreak, then steps back into the chasm, which closes up behind him, leaving no trace of what’s occurred. And for another year it’s over. He’s gone, and there is no trace lingering to give any clue as to what’s occurred.

They aren’t long stories, the tales the Storyteller weaves, but they somehow ring true to me, and I love them. They move me, they define me. if I hadn’t found this clearing when I was a child I have no idea what sort of person I’d be today.

My life would be a more meager thing, to be sure.

I still find the time to go back to my hometown once a year. I no longer have family out that way, no real reason to visit, yet every year I’m drawn back, unable to resist the impulse to return. And when the Storyteller makes his annual appearance I’m there, alone, coat torn by branches as I fight my way through the woods, to bear witness to the tales he tells. Saying nothing, never making a sound, simply hearing.

I believe he’d tell his stories even if there was nobody to listen, but it still seems right and natural to be there, a story’s not a proper story until it’s heard.

I listen, and jot down what he chooses to share. Then I take them home, and for the next year publishing them to this blog…

…wait, had you thought I’d been writing these myself?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Making Other Plans

As those of you who follow me on twitter (@munsimunsi) already know, Laurence Simon did a charity episode of the 100 Word Stories Weekly Challenge this week to raise money for the Relay For Life. Money was donated based on the number of stories sent in, and due to the efforts of his loyal listeners, roughly $800 was raised all told, if I understand correctly. So good for him, good for everyone involved, and a hearty round of congratulations all around. Also, due to the charity nature of this weeks challenge, a whole HELL of a lot of stories! So if you want to listen to drabbles until you can no longer think straight (which you likely should want) this week's a unique opportunity to do so!

Here's some links to the episode, which had to be broken down into multiple parts due to the sheer volume of response the call for stories got:

http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/15/weekly-challenge-325-life-rfl-challenge/
http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/15/weekly-challenge-325-life-rfl-challenge-part-2/
http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/15/weekly-challenge-325-life-rfl-challenge-part-3/
http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/15/weekly-challenge-325-life-rfl-challenge-part-4/
http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/15/weekly-challenge-325-life-rfl-challenge-part-5/

...again, congratulations to everyone involved. And, for those of you who like, here's the story I submitted.


Making Other Plans
By Chris Munroe

It’s been said that life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.

And that’s why I make a lot of plans.

Some general plans, moving in with the woman I love, reworking my schedule to include more time to write, those sorts of thing.

Others are grander plans, building superweapons, using them to subjugate mankind, world domination.

I’ll tell you, the second thing’s better.

With that in mind I’d like to offer an addendum to the expression.

Life’s what happens when you’re making other plans.

Living is what happens when you’re blackmailing the United Nations using an orbital weapons platform.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Teenaged Nightmare


Taken from the reviews section of Music Maven Magazine, October 2015 issue.

Katy Perry
….another thing.
3 stars out of 5.

When Katy Perry became the mortal host for the spirit of Gaia, absorbing the power of the breathing soul of the world and using it to return the dark lord Ne’charthro’hu to its slumber beneath the sea, saving humanity from ten thousand years of torment, the first question on the average music journalist’s mind was likely not “how will this affect the sound of Ms. Perry’s next album?"

In fact, if I can be taken as an example of an average music journalist (I flatter myself that I can) we were more interested in fighting our way through still burning cities to find our families and tell them how much they mean to us in the aftermath of what came precariously close to global superapocalypse.

Nonetheless, previous to becoming the living embodiment of the human spirit, she-who-is-all-of-us was a pop singer of some renown. Her last album, 2010’s Teenaged Dream, sold 5.5 million copies worldwide, spinning off an impressive 8 international top 10 hits and gaining its young mastermind enough media exposure that, even before Ne’charthro’hu awoke and threatened to devour mankind, she was already a ubiquitous figure in the pop landscape. With this in mind, it should be no surprise that, after taking two years of “Katy Time” to adjust to her new status as a demigod (and have a baby), Ms. Perry would return to her day job and release a new album, and it should be equally unsurprising that said album would be difficult to judge on its own merits, being tied as it is to a metabeing such as Ms. Perry.

So, how does “…another thing” stand, divorced from its back-story as best it can be? It’s… fine, I suppose. The album’s built around three main pillars, the energetic leadoff single Heartbeaten, already a fixture of pop radio, the slinky, Roxy Music inspired dance number Underwater, sure to join Heartbeaten at the top of the charts when it’s finally released as a single, and the soaring orchestral ballad My Own Self. From the titles, one would assume that some portion of “…another thing” is an exercise in introspection, as Ms. Perry attempts to put the recent massive changes in her life into some kind of context digestible to the mainstream pop audience, but nothing could be further from the truth. Lyrically the album eschews any overt reference to how close humanity came to extinction, choosing instead to play it safe, taking refuge in party-pop clich├ęs of bars, boys and pg-rated double entendres.

Which isn’t to say this is a bad thing, necessarily. Ms. Perry has never been an artist who thrives outside her comfort zone, and her formulae has in the past made for some immensely satisfying pop. However, what “…another thing” suffers from that her previous albums lacked is filler. A lot of filler. Understandable, perhaps, that between visits to gracious world leaders and explaining and re-explaining that no, she does not require worship from the people of Earth for what she’s done for us, she’d have too much on her plate to devote a full measure of attention to this project even if she’d wanted to, but nonetheless, once you venture outside the three massive tracks this album’s built around it starts to sound extraordinarily slight.

The songs bounce along at a brisk clip, and they’ll keep your toes tapping, but there’s very little behind them to remember, even seconds after you stop listening. Teenaged Dream may not have been deep, but it was at least fun from beginning to end, by the time you get to the end of this album you’re left with the impression that it’s only half finished, that the songs are too little, the production too rushed and that Ms. Perry was called away before its completion to attend to some more urgent business. The singles are there, and all three will do a fine job of defining commercial radio circa 2015 for future generations, but in between stretches what at times feels like a wasteland of missed opportunity.

And let’s not be coy about this, I’m as happy as the next pop reviewer not to be devoured body and soul by an ancient, eldritch being beyond all human comprehension, but the duet with Pitbull here does NOT work, and no amount of saving humanity will ever cause me to say otherwise.

None of which, by the way, is in any way relevant in terms of how this album will do commercially. From the success of Heartbeaten (18 weeks and counting at #1 on the pop charts, and 14 million copies sold worldwide to date) it’s clear that “…another thing” is a serious contender to take its spot as the most successful commercial pop album in the history of the form, regardless of its objective quality. The world watched Katy Perry save them from the endless night of screaming, and the world now seems more than willing to show its savior just how grateful they are. I, for one, received a review copy of this album, and intend to buy several copies at full price anyway. It seems like making pop music is something of personal import to Katy Perry, and I’m only too happy to do my part to indulge her in this pursuit.

I only wish I could’ve gotten a more substantial album out of the process…

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: What I Learned From Milli Vanilli

http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/08/weekly-challenge-324-rain/


What I Learned From Milli Vanilli
By Chris Munroe

Milli Vanilli sang that you should blame things on the rain.

I’d thought this was a cop-out, a way of avoiding responsibility.

But as I’ve grown, I’ve realized they’re right. Some things in life are beyond your control, they happen TO you, not because of you.

And at times like that, the best you can do is blame it on the rain and hope for better next time.

Though I can’t help wondering…

Stripped of their Grammy, tour cancelled, Milli Vanilli were the laughingstock of the music industry. A punchline, forevermore.

On that day, who or what did they blame?

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Pod-o-Pod


In my defense, building the pod-o-pod seemed like a good idea at the time.

I mean, what could be better than a man-sized pod, where I could record podcasts whilst suspended in amniotic fluid? I’d get a better sound quality on my recordings, as the amniotic fluid would act as a soundproofing agent, AND I’d record in comfort and style unparalleled in the podcast world!

It was the wave of the future, for voice actors, podcastors and audiobook narrators alike!

Procuring the amniotic fluid wasn’t easy, I’ll give you that, and the methods I had to resort to included a number of broken laws and shady characters, but once I had it, it was smooth sailing. I was living the dream!

Or so I thought.

I don’t know if it was the fluid, the fact that I was suspending myself naked in it two or three times a week, the electronics so near the liquid, or some combination thereof but within two weeks I had a developing, vaguely humanoid mass trapped in the pod, growing and taking shape.

I watched it develop, over the course of the next several months, and as it did the truth of what it was becoming became harder and harder to deny.

It was me.

The pod was growing an exact duplicate of me, down to the finest detail, and I was watching, day in and day out, as my new, identical twin gradually took shape.

I was horrified, but too transfixed to look away.

Until it… he… I? Until the version of me inside the pod opened his eyes one Sunday, and stared right at me. Our eyes locked, and he/I put one hand to the inner glass wall of the pod. He/I seemed as fascinated with Me/He as I/He was with Him/Myself. I didn’t say a word, just stared at my new, perfect doppelganger for I don’t know how long.

And as I did, I wondered: Did he have my memories? Or was he merely a physical copy, with the intellect of a newborn? Or, perhaps worse, was some darker intellect lurking behind those eyes, eyes so like my own, an intellect plotting toward some nefarious purpose known only to my accidentally conceived twin?

I could have waited until He/I/It was born and asked, I suppose.

Instead, I went to Canadian Tire, to buy an axe.

Does that make me the evil twin? I can live with that.

Afterward, I dissolved the body in lye, as I’d seen done on a television show one time. I diluted the mixture when I was done and poured it down a sewer grate. I have no idea what that’ll do to Calgary’s sewer system, but I do know that that’s the city’s problem, not mine.

I’ll never be accused of any crime for the way I handled this, never suspected of anything untoward. The victim, after all, was me, and so far as anyone knows I’ve never been murdered. I’m still alive and walking around, the original Munsi.

I can’t stress enough to you that I am the original Munsi.

Still, in spite of the fact that there’s no chance of legal consequences, I can’t help thinking I may have acted hastily.

I mean, I didn’t KNOW the doppelganger meant me harm. I meant it harm, certainly, but it might have had a more gentle temperament than I. I’ll never know, I didn’t give it the chance to show me.

I was afraid to.

But I try not to worry about it too much. I did what I had to do, and I destroyed the pod-o-pod afterward, just to be on the safe side. Maybe my clone was harmless, but there was no way of knowing until it was potentially too late, and I couldn’t subject the world to that sort of risk.

I know what I did I did for the safety of humanity, and whenever guilt at the actions I was forced to rears it’s ugly head, that’s that fact which I focus on.

After all, I can live with the possibility that I ended an innocent life, but nobody would survive if the world was overrun by podcast people…

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: In The Aftermath

http://podcasting.isfullofcrap.com/2012/07/01/weekly-challenge-323-flies/


In the Aftermath
By Chris Munroe

HR sent somebody by earlier this week, to quell office discontent.

Davidson? Donaldson? Something like that.

We keep his severed head on a stick now.

We put it there to send a message. We’re no longer an accounts receivable department worried about layoffs, we’re animals. Naked, filthy, claiming the sixth floor as our own, refusing to be moved.

If they send another beast, we’ll kill it.

We’ll smash its head.

We’ll spill its blood.

And I sit among my tribe, upon a throne that once was an office chair, surveying my people like a monarch.

The lord of the files.