Krampusnacht 2013

It is once again St. Nicholas Eve, also known as Krampusnacht. Over the last couple of years, I have made it a point to put up something Krampus related. As such, I decided to make a new Krampus poem. Here is a slight perversion of an all time favorite titled:

“A Visit From Krampus”

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T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The children were snuggled warmly in beds

While visions of gingerbread danced in their heads.

 

Mama worked late, so I was alone

The night was silent, the bed cold as bone.

I shivered in flannel, hoping to sleep

Unaware that outside, something did creep.

 

With my eyes closed and breath low, I tried to calm my brain

But then my serenity was broken by the rattling of a chain.

I flew from the bed, and straight to the window

My eyes carefully scanned the snowy streets below.

 

Black as ash was he that walked the street,

With lolling red tongue, goat horns, and cloven feet.

He dragged behind him a great birch stick

And I knew for certain that this was not St. Nick.

 

He walked up the stoop, his bells all a-clatter

My children awoke, wondering what was the matter.

I raced down the stairs, I tried to bolt the door

But he simply kicked it in, and threw me to the floor.

 

His eyes were crazed, they darted left and right,

When they fell upon me, I almost died of fright.

He stank of farm animals and rotting flesh

He looked around the house for a naughty child’s bottom to thresh.

 

Past me he walked with a shambling gait,

And I knew the appetite he wished to sate.

I knew I had been good, so I pointed my finger

“The children are upstairs!” and he did not linger.

 

You cannot imagine the stir that arose,

As each child upstairs received their well-deserved blows.

The screaming went on for a minute or two,

Then subsided to a murmuring “Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo.”

 

Then down the stairs walked the ashen stranger,

And I was just glad to be free of danger.

“I’ll see you next year,” he said with a hiss,

“Oh yes, and by the way: merry Christmas.”

 ———————————————————————

I was uncertain of the ending, but rather than wake-up my wife and ask her what she thought, I figured I’d just go with it.

This year, I managed to send out Krampus cards. I made only six, and each featured a verse from one of my earlier Krampus-based poems. Here’s a peek at what this year’s Krampus looked like:

Have a happy holiday, and do try and be good :)

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The Geek on a Budget, Entry 1: Perspective

It can be difficult to establish and stick to a budget. If you are doing things right, you see your savings growing weekly, and the temptation to spend your every excess dime grips you with the tenacity of a baboon on Bath Salts. It is doubly difficult for a Geek.

For the purposes of this entry, the Geek in question is me: a thirty-something, married, child-free male with interests in comic books, table top gaming, and sundry other man-child type things. Ours is a single income household, and money can get very tight very quickly. Budgeting is a necessity if I want to be able to pay bills on time and also afford a new board game, RPG, or this month’s new comics. The first concern is Perspective.

Every month, there is something shiny and new that comes out for Our Geek to buy. There are expansions to games, new games, RPGs he just read about, new comics by artists or writers that he enjoys, and of course – MERCHANDISE. Merchandise is the hallmark of Geekdom. It is the bag full of multicolored dice, the rows and rows of miniatures, the closet full of t-shirts, and every single collectable that gets molded, painted, and slid under Our Geek’s nose.

There is a magazine that is published monthly JUST to get these products to Our Geek’s eyes. Previews exists to show Our Geek what new things he can spend his money on, and does its best to entice him to buy more and more. When Our Geek was a twenty-something, he would get Previews monthly and go through it like it was the Sears Wishbook, and he was his own personal Santa.

However, marriage, financial responsibility, and perspective changed all of that.

No Geek should ever choose between saving money for the future, or stroking his collector’s itch. Saving money is always the way to go, because there will always be expenses that will need to be addressed in order to preserve the status quo of Our Geek’s lifestyle. Our Geek needs a car, just as Our Geek needs a home and food. These are the bones of a budget: what you need. REALLY need. These are the expenses that get addressed first.

The Needs:

  • Food
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Applicable Taxes
  • Utilities
  • Car Expenses
  • A basic wardrobe
  • Saving for the future (Emergency Fund and at least a little for retirement)

Our Geek cried his eyes out when he didn’t include comics on that list. The next portion of the list made him happier:

The Wants:

  • Comforts: Including cable, internet, comics, games (expansions, or reasonably priced core), and going out to eat.
  • Saving for Experiences: Vacations or other activities to help enrich one’s life.
  • Saving for splurging: Buying expensive wardrobe items, costumes, buying into a new (expensive) game, video game system

The ratio for these is a tough one to decide, but suffice to say that it is in Our Geek’s best interests to satisfy the first lists’ demands before he thinks about the second list. This is what perspective is all about: realizing the difference between what you want and what you need. While it sucks distended troll anus, there will be times when Our Geek can’t do everything he wants to do from his Wants list. If he’s buying a new core set for a game that costs $75.00, he’s probably not going to have enough money left in his Wants portion of the budget to be able to afford to take Mrs. Geek out for a night on the town.

Long and short, something needs to give, and it is up to Our Geek to decide what is more important to him. In fact, it is up to each of us to figure out what is important in our lives, and to make sure that our priorities are in place. Sure, Mrs. Geek will miss going out for dinner this month, but Our Geek will make it up to her by making dinner at home and doing all of the dishes for his beloved.

Perspective also plays a role in a purchase: Our Geek must ask himself why he wants to buy something. Is adding another comic to his subscription list worth the extra strain on his Wants budget? Is the new Harley Quinn book a good addition to his collection? Will he keep getting it even if he doesn’t like it, just to be a completionist? Is there room for that enormous Godzilla model? Should he really buy a game that’s for 3 players, since getting anyone over to play can be a challenge?

By considering the ramifications of a purchase, Our Geek can make a better choice. It is easier to stick to a budget if you look at the true cost of what you are buying. Sure, a new core set for a game is grand, but remember that Our Geek will probably want to buy every expansion that comes down the pike. If Our Geek is already collecting 3 games, is a fourth one a viable purchase? Will he continue collecting the other games, or will the new one be his focus?

The final facet of perspective that I’m going to look at is kind of depressing. Our Geek is child-free, so Our Geek isn’t buying this stuff with the hopes of passing it on to a son or daughter. Our Geek is probably never going to sell any of this stuff, and so Our Geek, when making a purchase, does so with the knowledge that whatever he’s buying will be left behind, and it might just get tossed out without a single thought. Our Geek reminds himself that what he buys must bring him pleasure, and that the pleasure must be worth the investment he makes in it.

Further, the purchase is made with the knowledge that what is being spent could be put towards any number of other things on his Wants and Needs list.

Today, I woke-up with the urge to spend. I allowed myself just a little bit so that I could buy a couple of comics, a fast lunch, and a luxurious chocolate chai. This was enough to satiate the spendthrift beast inside of me. However, when I popped online, I saw a new RPG I wanted to buy. I immediately found myself obsessing over the stories I could tell using the system, and how neat the game mechanics were.

I was just about to plunk down the money when I asked myself, “Is this worth it?” It would have broken my Wants budget for the week and dug into my splurging money. Since I’m saving-up for a trip next year, I put down the credit card and I reminded myself of how much of a hard time I had getting people over for Little Fears throughout the summer. I told myself that the money could be better spent when we go on vacation next year, and that I could just put the RPG in question on my Yuletide Wishlist and leave it be.

If someone gets it (or any of the other 50ish items I tossed on there under similar circumstances) for me, excellent – they will have fulfilled their need to give me a gift and made me happy in the process by giving me something I desired. If not, it would still be there in a few months for me to buy when my Wants budget is less strained.

Hopefully, you’ve found this interesting. I will probably post more of these if I think there is interest. Alternately, I’ll probably post one whenever the Collector’s Itch gets too uncontrollable. It really helps get it under control when you just take a moment and talk about it.

Happy Geeking,

Harry

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Like Rabbits

Hello there folks!

This past week had been a miserable series of five days. Bent on salvaging something good from the wreckage of the week, I decided to test the waters of self-publishing. As such, I’m happy to announce that my novelette Like Rabbits is available for the Kindle here.

It is about Fern, a young woman who is looking for a new direction in life, and she starts by donning a rabbit mask. The story examines quite a few notions that have filled my head for the past few months (and maybe years): the child-free lifestyle, Existentialism, board games, losing someone you love, and the inescapable nature of the past.

If you decide to pick it up, I hope that you enjoy it greatly.

In other news, Samantha and the Wind is probably going to be the next title that I’ll be putting up, though I may be completing the work on They Eat Eyes first. We’ll see.

In terms of new and freely available work, I have two stories that I’m currently developing and hope to be able to share soon. Until then, be happy and peaceful.

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Upcoming!

Hey folks!

It has been quite a while, but I assure you that I haven’t fallen off of the face of the Earth. I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of things, and have unfortunately dropped the ball creatively over the last month or so. That said, I do have some projects in the works.

Like Rabbits is still being reviewed for publication. I seriously hope that it makes it to print. If it does, I’ll be sure to let you know. If not, keep your eyes open because it may show-up here or in another form if it gets rejected.

Saudade is the next project I’m working on, and it is currently taking up most of my mind’s real estate, It was going to be two separate stories, but I may actually combine them somehow. I know that’s vague, but it is the most I can offer at the moment.

They Eat Eyes is back on my desktop for editing. There are somethings that need to flow better, and other things that need to be better explained. I’m super-solid on the Anastasia and Erik parts of the story, but still shaky on Agostine and Troy.

I have commissioned an artist to work on a cover and interiors for Samantha and the Wind. I like what I have seen thus far, and really look forward to the final product. Hopefully, I’ll have something I can present by Winter.

I have tentative plans to do a 30 Days of Monsters event for October. I’m producing some drawings, and if I’m happy with them, I’ll have a nice month-long feature coming.

The re-booted August and Minerva has one complete installment so far. I’m trying to keep it distanced from other urban fantasy fiction, and am considering how I should proceed. August is a much more interesting figure this time around, and I think he will develop to a fairly well-rounded and interesting hero. I’m thinking of pulling Georgette from an unseen short story called That Faerie Girl into the A&M universe as a strong female character that has no powers, but I’m hemming and hawing because I don’t want to give-up on That Faerie Girl just yet…

So that’s what I’ve got for now. Stay tuned for more.

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Gemütlich

Gemütlich is my newest short story. It is about Thomas, whose wife has arranged a birthday party. Unfortunately, Thomas is a bit of an introvert, and the party, which should be enjoyable, becomes nothing but a reminder of his painful past. Presented as a .pdf for you enjoyment and enhanced portability, I hope that you enjoy taking a peek at my latest work.

Gemütlich is part of a series that I have started working on. Each story is inspired by a word from another language that is potentially difficult to explain in English. The stories are not necessarily a definition of the word, but rather, they are what the word makes me consider. In the case of Gemütlich, Thomas experiences what ought to be a situation filled with comfort, happiness, light festivity, hospitality, and general middle-class niceness, but reacts to it in a way that disengages him from the opportunity for joy.

I hope that you enjoy this story. If you have words that you would like to suggest for future installments, please feel free to leave some below.

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Vacation is Coming

The weeks have all sort of blended into one.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk for about two months or so – I’ve attended two funerals and have been dealing with a lot of little things lately. On the bright side, it feels like I’m emerging from my funk feeling like a better person than when I sunk into it. The long and short of it is that I feel that it is time for me to start dreaming again.

For a while, I’ve been working on making my aspirations more realistic. I slowly scaled back my dreams, partially because my goals changed and partially because I had a few aspirations that I felt were too out there. I set my bar lower and lower, and I think I eventually hit a point where I was willing to say that getting out of bed before noon was a reasonable accomplishment for any given day – heck, there were at least a few recent times when waking up felt like a small victory.

I’d been slowly withdrawing from pretty much everything. I stopped posting here, although I’d kept on with my series of monsters and completed my Twin Peaks themed Fiasco playset. I haven’t seen the bulk of my friends in months, though I’ve had pleasent visits with a few. When I withdraw like that, it is usually because I’m creating something. While I do have a story in the works, I’ve been content to think about it more than actually writing it.

I’ve been watching television. That’s a time sink that just isn’t worth it. While it is nice to experience entertainment, shutting off and watching television for 6 hours isn’t the best way to spend your limited time on earth. I’d get-up, watch The Price is Right, then the news, and then whatever else was on before going to work. When I got home from work, I’d watch whatever recorded while I was working, and then zone-out until I couldn’t stay awake.

If there was nothing on, I’d play video games obsessively.

Part of my excuse has been that I’ve been far too busy at work, and I just wanted to have a break when I didn’t have to work.

Slowly, I started to just lose interest in anything that required much effort. When I went almost two weeks without bathing, I realized that I was heading in the wrong direction. It was around then that allergies hit, and they just knocked everything out of me for almost a couple of weeks.

Now, I’m on the last week of May, and have a self-imposed deadline approaching – I have a story that is due to be complete on the 31st. That said, I’ve found myself cleaning-up my act. I’ve cleared the built-up tasks that were living on my computer’s desktop, and have written the outline for the story that I want to finish by Friday.

I have a game of Little Fears (the one that involves Merdock and Noah S. Feratu) coming-up next weekend and I’m excited to see a couple of my close friends (one who I haven’t seen since maybe March?). After that, I have a break from work, which is a blessing.

One of my co-workers asked me what I’ll be doing for vacation. I answered that I’ll be doing all of the things that I never do because I have to go to work. I’ll be writing, drawing, getting out in nature, and visiting the city at least once for some kind of culinary adventure and to buy luxury bath products.

All of that said, I feel optimistic.

Like Rabbits is currently being evaluated by a magazine, which is fabulous. I hope that Fern’s story gets out there, and that people read it and get inspired. If it gets rejected, I’m planning on self-publishing, so you’ll probably hear about it either way sooner or later.

So, with an uplifted spirit and a wary eye on my behavior as of late, I go forward, dreaming of something bigger, brighter, and better than just getting out of bed.

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Complaining Rant. Feel Free to Look Away

I feel like complaining.

I’m not sure why I’m in this rotten mood, but I am. I feel very stagnant; I’ve finished my novelette and have started the process of editing, and editing is never something that I enjoy. There is the constant indecision, wondering if I did the right thing on the first go-around or if I should bulk things up/slim things down. I’ve solicited several opinions, which have all, thus far, been positive. That said, I really want to finish this writing project before moving on to a new one, and I’m finding the process, mixed with how I feel right now, is turning me into one grumpy cat.

My day job has been ridiculously busy, which is usually good, but since I’m running around like a maniac all night, I tend to want to just veg when I get home. I had started meditating again, and that helped offset my exhaustion, but I got lax and stopped. I need to pick it up and stop watching movies when I can be finding peace of mind.

I watched Silent Hill: Revelation this morning and it was terrible. I hadn’t expected them to make a sequel to the first Silent Hill movie, but they did and it was fecund from start to finish. They went far too corny with the special effects, and the many 3-D moments just come off as cheap-looking.

There are a dozen other things rattling around in my brain that are far too negative for a person that should be happy – nothing terrible is happening (knock on wood) and I should be glad. Instead, I’m letting myself talk myself down and focusing on all the wrong things.

I suppose it is best summed-up as BLAHHHHH!!

Well, today is a good as day as any to get back on the right track, yeah?

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