The Whelk – John Leavitt

May 3, 2011

Canadians like me

Filed under: Words — John Leavitt @ 4:32 pm

I should mention I’m in another edition of AE MICRO, super short SF stories based around a word. This year’s word is “Time.”

You might remember this story in much, much longer form on this website and while I may use it for a scene in a larger work, I think this super-short version works much better. Less shaggy-dog nonsense.

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Aesop’s Fables As Read By A Sociology Student

Filed under: Words — John Leavitt @ 1:21 pm

Fable: The Cat and Venus

A CAT fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the
youth saw her and loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape had also altered her
habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much
disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.

Moral: Class conventions are a weapon against social mobility.

Fable: The Ass and His Masters

AN ASS, belonging to an herb-seller who gave him too little food and too much work made a petition to Jupiter to be released from his present service and provided with another master. Jupiter,
after warning him that he would repent his request, caused him to be sold to a tile-maker. Shortly afterwards, finding that he had heavier loads to carry and harder work in the brick-field, he
petitioned for another change of master. Jupiter, telling him that it would be the last time that he could grant his request, ordained that he be sold to a tanner. The Ass found that he had
fallen into worse hands, and noting his master’s occupation, said, groaning: “It would have been better for me to have been either starved by the one, or to have been overworked by the
other of my former masters, than to have been bought by my present owner, who will even after I am dead tan my hide, and make me useful to him.”

Moral: Demanding better working conditions will be met with punishment.

Fable: The Crab and the Fox

A CRAB, forsaking the seashore, chose a neighboring green meadow as its feeding ground. A Fox came across him, and being very hungry ate him up. Just as he was on the point of being eaten, the Crab said, “I well deserve my fate, for what business had I on the land, when by my nature and habits I am only adapted for the sea?’

Moral: Be content with your lot in life, or else.

Fable: The Wild Ass and the Lion

A WILD ASS and a Lion entered into an alliance so that they might capture the beasts of the forest with greater ease. The Lion agreed to assist the Wild Ass with his strength, while the Wild Ass gave the Lion the benefit of his greater speed. When they had taken as many beasts as their necessities required, the Lion undertook to distribute the prey, and for this purpose divided it
into three shares. “I will take the first share,” he said, “because I am King: and the second share, as a partner with you in the chase: and the third share (believe me) will be a source
of great evil to you, unless you willingly resign it to me, and set off as fast as you can.”

Morality: The powerful will do anything to retain their position.

Fable: The Oxen and the Butchers

THE OXEN once upon a time sought to destroy the Butchers, who practiced a trade destructive to their race. They assembled on a certain day to carry out their purpose, and sharpened their horns
for the contest. But one of them who was exceedingly old (for many a field had he plowed) thus spoke: “These Butchers, it is true, slaughter us, but they do so with skillful hands, and with no unnecessary pain. If we get rid of them, we shall fall into the hands of unskillful operators, and thus suffer a double death: for you may be assured, that though all the Butchers should perish, yet will men never want beef.”

Moral: There are collaborators in every movement.

Fable: The Farmer and the Cranes

SOME CRANES made their feeding grounds on some plowlands newly sown with wheat. For a long time the Farmer, brandishing an empty sling, chased them away by the terror he inspired; but when
the birds found that the sling was only swung in the air, they ceased to take any notice of it and would not move. The Farmer, on seeing this, charged his sling with stones, and killed a great
number. The remaining birds at once forsook his fields, crying to each other, “It is time for us to be off to Liliput: for this man is no longer content to scare us, but begins to show us in
earnest what he can do.”

Moral: Throw rocks at birds.

Here’s What Happened

Filed under: Scenes From Nonexistent Novels, Words — John Leavitt @ 12:44 pm

So I read this and then felt the need to write the following:

HE didn’t do well in school. He tested well but had poor behavior, inattentive fugues, was hyper in class. That story. The school suggested medication but his parents refused, they didn’t want their kid on drugs. They tried channeling his energy into sports but he wasn’t, in the words of the Child Study Team, “comfortable in groups.”

His dad got the computer for doing taxes, but the boy made it his. It migrated into his room were, after much pleading, it was finally outfitted with a modem. The internet suited him, even in its primitive 1.0 era. He wasn’t good with the tech side but you pick stuff up, and he picked everything up. Skating, scripting, HTML, bad movies, Japanese TV, comic-book-how-tos The Anarchist Cookbook, mix-tapes, zines, trolling-before-it-had-a-name, all of it. He even messed around doing pixel art for a game he made on a cracked and badly translated version of RPGMAKER2000

That was the ticket. Almost by accident he had stumbled into doing custom sprites for homebrew games. He was popular for the first time ever. He started to expand his skills, staying up til dawn trying to get just the right shading on the alien’s open sores. His vivid imagination was an asset not something that needed to be controlled. His parents weren’t thrilled about it, but at least it kept him busy and out of trouble.

With (token) popularity came (some) friends, mostly online but a few at school. Two people he worked with on other games with started a company almost absent-mindedly and he defaulted into the “art” job. It was senior year of High School and he was nearly expelled for absenteeism. This was right after his mom died, car crash, and his Dad retreated into his model trains, remote as the moon. On the day he was supposed to go to Prom, the three teenagers released their little exploration/adventure game: Sled.

It wasn’t a hit. It was a phenomenon.

He didn’t go to college. What was the point when he was pulling in more then his dad with job offers ankle-deep? The other guys dealt with the business end, incorporating and buying office space and drawing up budgets. Kablooey! Games was the first independent game company to make the cover of Forbes Magazine.

Kablooey! was eventually bought out by Google who wanted to use it as the start an independent developer portal. He retired. He wrote blog points on the purity of Capitalism and Rand and Taking Charge Of Your Universe. He was briefly a Divisive Internet Personality. There was the slick city apartment, the clubs, the coke, the strippers, the suits, the coke, the benders, the adventure tourism, the coke, the MMA fixation, the tattoos, the coke.

He didn’t hit rock bottom so much as hover. He still had the money, his Dad gave excellent financial advise. It wasn’t nearly as much, but his needs were simple. Bed. Liquor. Internet connection. But he turned around and hit 30 and realized he didn’t know a single person he could call on the phone.

On a whim he went to his High School Reunion, rub in all their stupid suburban faces. I bet they’re fat he thought. He hoped they where fat. And ugly. And poor.

And that’s when he met HER

SHE was a very serious student. Her teachers loved her. Her parents loved her. And within her small enclave of other hyper-achievers, she was well-liked. She took college courses in High School and wrote an essay on Civic Responsibility that won her a small but encouraging scholarship. She had her pick of schools and while she started in Pre-Law (her mother’s insisted) she floated toward the Humanities. It surprised her as much as anybody.

She didn’t date until College, not out of shyness but more of a casual indifference. She was always happiest alone, preferably reading or doing research, the thrill of uncovering the perfect anecdote to illustrate a theme, the way some words could you sit up straighter or your heart race. She had a few bouts with equally serious young men with black-rimmed glasses and sweater vests. There was a hippie phase that eventually whittled down to a few small but sturdy affectations: long hair, chunky jewelry, a small tin of dried out grass on the upper shelf behind the tea candles kept for blackouts. She donated to NPR. She used re-usable bags before it was cool. When she remembered, she was a vegetarian, but the world outside her graduate thesis was hazy at best. She didn’t have too much debt but did work a series of jobs. She was a terrible waitress, a competent secretary, and an above-average copy editor.

She nearly married an up-and-coming politician but couldn’t deal with the glibness, the small talk, of having to perform the role of The Wife three times a week to complete strangers. She realized she didn’t really love him, she just liked the way he made her feel like the center of attention. He did that to everyone.

She lived in a small apartment in a large mid-western city done up in Lower Thrift Store and bookshelves. She tried her hand at fiction, tidy little portraits of life in different eras. It was worse then graduate school, worse than her desperate grab for a tenure-track job, the constant never-ending rejection. She’d read her favorite writers over and over again, trying to figure out why they could just turn a phrase and somehow make the world seem so right, so good. How come they can do that and I can’t? What am I doing wrong? Eventually the weight of teaching broke her of the habit.

She had a daughter with her live-in boyfriend, a Non-Profit worker who wrote grant proposals and and liked to do the cooking. She uncovered an affair between him and his loud, jangly supervisor. She let him go quietly, without malice. They kept in touch and shared custody.

If she thought about HIM at all, it was as a vague annoying blur that became famous or something. Something with video games. Figures. She was surprised he had shown up to the reunion at all.

HE looked bad, long and pale in a stylish suit that didn’t fit. Strutting and preening with teenage confidence well into his 3rd decade. He was showing off his tattoos to some guy she didn’t remember much. Morris or something. Big guy, he’d gone in the army right after High School. She thought she’d be nice, say hello, introduce him to her daughter who, even at the age of six still carried around her favorite doll, something that was beginning to worry her.

Later, at the hotel bar, the only thing anyone could talk about was that when HE turned to greet HER he look one look at her daughter’s stuffed tiger and broke out in wailing sobs. Everyone agreed, money or not, he was weird.

November 19, 2010

Mug Shot

Filed under: Other, Words — John Leavitt @ 3:26 pm

Does this look like someone who just got a book deal?

November 12, 2010

I did a thing

Filed under: Words — John Leavitt @ 12:34 pm

So I submitted a slogan to Threadless. you can vote for it here.

October 26, 2010

Sometimes I get an idea and I am compelled to do it.

Filed under: Words — John Leavitt @ 1:30 pm

You must have been visiting Oprahoma.

There’s a bright young writer on a chat show
and a stunning new starlet will tattle

Next up a harrowing true story of struggles so far….
and later on everyone’s getting a car!

August 4, 2010

A Review?

Filed under: Other, Words — Tags: — John Leavitt @ 8:52 pm

So I did this review for Carnal Nation like 3 months ago so I figure I can post it. if not e-mail me! Or not.

Fromms: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell To The Nazis
by Gotz Aly and Micheal Sontheimer
Translated by Shelly Frisch

Other Press, $23.95 240 pages.

You ever hear of green washing? It’s a marketing term wherein a product is spun with a veneer of being Eco-Friendly when in fact they’re not particularly ecological and/or are actively harming the environment. The iconic examples are the notices in hotels asking you to re-use towels or logos being changed to look more nature-friendly. (In breast cancer research this is known as pink washing and the iconic example is the KFC Pink Bucket , although you could argue there is a breast-breast connection there but I don’t want to cause thinking about it makes me sad.) I’m not saying this book is actively harming safe-sex practices cause that’s absurd but the book is hoping the condom-sex-nazi connection draws you into what is a fairly dry and fitfully entertaining account.

The basics. Condoms? Are they weird? They are. They used to be made from sheep intestines! Ew! But then Goodyear invented artificial rubber and World War One and soldiers just kept getting syphilis and dying which is just embarrassing for everyone involved. Religious people didn’t like them cause they stopped people having kids all the time (and since we’re in Germany they get to have fun names like the Reich Anti-Smut Campaign Bureau Of Protestant Young Men’s Associations Of Germany) so they had to be marketed as preventing sickness and death (and not smell like a factory) and they had special coupons you could cut out and slip to the chemist that said “I’d like some condom please.” cause seriously who hasn’t been there, right? Julius Fromm is born in poverty and Hortio Algars his way into being a captain of industry right before the Nazis show up and decide he’s not a citizen and his modern rubber factories would go great with that shiny new army their building.

The condom angle is just wrapping – the first few sections on the history of condoms and rubber manufacturing are amusing but wikipedia thin – It’s not the story the book is really about. Fromms sets out to tell one story, the story of how a single family was completely and legally pillaged by a government. In some ways the restraint is admirable, too often books like these lose the plot entirely by trying to make the connection between their subject matter and the entire gamut of human existence (Coming soon Grit: How Sand Made The World!) but I’d like to draw your eyes up to the top of this article. See that $23.95? That’s real whole American dollars You could buy lunch with that.. That’s a considerable wad of dough for an already thinnish story liberally padded with photographs and wide margins. No wonder they had the push the Sexy sex button. It’s readable enough and well-researched, I just kept feeling like I should be taking notes for a term paper.

Still, if you want to read a how Nazi Germany took down an entire industry almost overnight and how a government can, with endless legal mojo de-nationalize a citizen and seize their assets or read about how an wealthy German-Jewish family dealt with the increasing Nazification and fascism and then exile then this is exactly the book for you. If you don’t, well I dunno, go eat a bucket of fired chicken or something, just remember to be safe out there.

-John Leavitt

Other Reviews For Carnal Nation


The Forbidden Apple

We Did Porn

How Sex Works

July 1, 2010

REJECTED MCSWEENY’S JOKE FOR YOU

Filed under: Words — John Leavitt @ 1:27 pm

THE ENTIRETY OF MY THOUGHTS WHILE TOURING THE GRAND AND STATELY PALACES OF EUROPE

Wow, it must have been awesome to come out of the right vagina at the right time.

April 21, 2010

Inside jokes are the best jokes

Filed under: Other, Words — John Leavitt @ 9:36 pm

Giving this away to anyone who wants s shirt or button or or or …just take it.

April 14, 2010

Patronage

Filed under: Other, Other People's Stuff, Words — John Leavitt @ 1:35 pm

Prayer for Logging Into The Internet (i am not even kidding a little)

March 21, 2010

I wanted to try out a new font plus I spend too much time on the internet

Filed under: Other, Unwanted Illustration, Words — John Leavitt @ 4:08 pm

Possible T-Shirts anyone?

March 1, 2010

Overheard At The Bar

Filed under: Other People's Stuff, Words — John Leavitt @ 9:55 am

“So I’m giving up pets and moving onto heroin”

“I’ll never forget the Berlin Olympics – I got to see the Fuhrer!”

“The only solution to hangovers is to never sober up.”

February 3, 2010

What Does Your Handwriting Look Like?

Filed under: Other People's Stuff, Words — John Leavitt @ 1:24 pm


Via Metachat

October 23, 2009

Sometimes I Do These Things

Filed under: Other, Other People's Stuff, Words — John Leavitt @ 2:54 pm

Oh hey, I forgot to link to That Video where I sing in Times Square which was mentioned in that little newspaper item.

October 14, 2009

I am aware the dates are off

Filed under: Words — John Leavitt @ 10:00 am

Login: KingCroesus23
Password: *******

Welcome to AskPythia, please state your question for the Oracle in the form below:

“Should I attack the Persians?”

Know thyself and pursue moderation in all things.
posted by Gnosticody

Dude, get the Spartans behind you. We can totally kick their ass, we’re still good for it
Posted by Brotherlylover69

Whatever you do, don’t ignore fevers in battle. Trust me
posted by Alec The Pretty Good

You should invent in some new steam-powered Machine Marvels to terrify and subdue the villains. Contact me later for rates.
posted by Talos, The Hands Of Fate.

Blood and souls! Blood and souls for the horned one! the horned one!
posted by Mynameismeanad

Do you really want to continue the bloodshed that has marred our life for years? Maybe you should reflect on your reasons about why you feel this way, it’s a little disgusting to be honest.
posted by SocraticSteak

DEATH TO PERSIAAA!!!!!!1111!
posted by Lionmanxxx

Whatever. It’ll go bad, cause you’re gonna fuck up, cause *everyone* fucks up. Why do I even fucking bother?
posted by A Lantern In The Dark

Will it make you happy?
posted by Solon, Farewell, Goodbye

Why not? You’ll all be teaching greek to a bunch of hairy peasants playing Empire for the next millennium anyway.
posted by Apollo Of The Wigwam

[a few prophecies removed – please don’t drag fights into the Oracle, okay? ]
posted by Minervamyn

There is a discusssion of this prohecy over at SYMPO, please take the fights there.
posted by Logos

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