Which Airbender Character are You?

Here's today's exercise:

If you have not yet watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, go to Netflix and watch it right now. We'll wait. Actually, if you have watched it, take this time to watch it again. It's definitely worth a repeat viewing.

Okay, now we're all refreshed on the awesomeness that is Aang and the Gang. And thus I pose to you these three questions:

  • Which character from the series (it does not have to be a bender) do you think most closely resembles you?

  • Which character do you wish you were like? (It can be the same as the above or it can be different.)

  • Which character do you think other people would associate with you?

  • Originally this was two questions, but I broke apart my first question into the first two above, which means I don't even have answers to all three questions yet. I will have to ponder this.

    For question 2, my answer is Iroh, no question. The man isn't perfect, he makes mistakes, but he's incredibly noble and has learned from his mistakes.

    Question 3 I know is Zuko, at least for those people I consider friends who have already seen the show and made it a point to tell me that they think I'm Zuko. Given how his character arc ends, I can live with that.

    The Wrong Type of Crazy

    If you haven't been following the story from the beginning, here's the summary. In 2009 I challenged myself: finish a novel or give up writing. I had way too many starts and way way way too few finishes. So this was it. I had a new job. I had a long commute with dedicated writing time. Get it done or give it up.

    Happily, I did finish a novel (BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE), two in fact (WANTED: CHOSEN ONE, NOW HIRING [which has since been renamed WITH A CROOKED CROWN]), and my pursuit of professional publication began in earnest. I wrote novels, queries, synopses, thank you letters, blog posts, twitter tweets, and so on and so forth. I took this seriously and knuckled down so I could endure rejection and enjoy success. Well, benchmarks I consider success as the professional publication part remains elusive. Still, full requests and the like are pretty thrilling. I've met some cool authors along the way and cool agents too. I've learned a hell of a lot and tried to teach a little, too.

    One thing I've learned about the other people in this craft is that we share a lot of similarities in terms of emotional states, emotional stresses, emotional sensitivity in the like. While I will not limit this to authors but would go so far as to apply it to so many artists, creative types seem to have an increased level of empathy. You might hear this as soft-skinned or over-reacting or being a pussy. Whatever. We feel pain at 11 when the meter should only go up to 10. And not only our own, but others too. We empathize because we we explore how people work. It's how we create characters. We watch people. We measure what they do and how they act. We contrast what people say versus what they do and we find the inconsistencies. We explore motivations, watch lies (to themselves or to others), and let the drama play out because all of it is life's story that we want to twist and retell in our own way.

    Problem is, this empathy isn't just a switch that turned on when we decided we wanted to write. It's been there forever and there was no explaining why the overly sensitive five year old was freaking out about something that seemed so minor to his parents because someday he was going to be a writer.

    I think that's why so many artists are messed up emotionally. They've been running at 11 their entire lives and that is going to create neuroses. It is that damage that allows us to find pathos and tell an amazing story, to plumb the depths of broken life and show the heart one has to endure such hardship.

    It also allows for a lot of self-doubt. What if I'm not broken correctly? I often write about a character that has to do the right thing at his own expense, or a person that puts duty before self. It applies order and logic to the chaos, but what if rather than painting with such amazing lines, I should be creating form from chaos. Paint outside the lines and make it amazing. What if how I endured years of being at 11 isn't what's necessary to be great at what I want to do? Don't be crisp and clean. Be loud and hectic. Put our guitar up to the speaker and hear all that feedback and find the music in it.

    I'm broken wrong. I broke and taped it back together when I should have just enjoyed the two different pieces separately.

    Oh my!

    I've been sick, which has left me a lot of time not writing and a lot of time thinking of what I've done in the last three years. The feedback I've received. The success and the failures. The successes of friends who are going on to great things while I'm essentially still in the square I was three years ago. Maybe they're broken right and I'm broken wrong. Wouldn't that be a bitch.

    On an up-note, I'm getting better, which means I've started writing again. When I write I have less time for self-doubt. But I also have a partial with an agent and that always ratchets my self-doubt up to about a 15. Especially since she didn't like the full I gave her (which I thought was a stronger novel). I've piled so much onto this accomplishment and every time it doesn't work out, I start finding all the different ways why I'm not good enough. Because I live life at 11. That's how I do.

    Splitting the Hairs

    Previously I had posted about reconsidering self-publishing as a viable strategy. This was not, as is so often the case, a response to a query rejection. It was prompted by a strategic decision made by my company (a publisher). This was hard to accept for a couple of reasons.

    1) Traditional publishing had been my goal for so long, it felt like giving up.

    2) Traditional publishers have to revise their business models to cope with the epocalypse and I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    I learned some things from that investigation as well.

    1) While reconsidering my stance was not prompted by a rejection, as soon as a full manuscript was rejected, I began strenuously considering this route. (The revision I made three months later as a resubmit to an agent made the story infinitely better.)

    2) It's a standard position for self-publishing advocates to stress that self-publishing (or indie publishing as is the new trend to call it) should still involve rigorous editing and revision. HOWEVER, the vast majority of people self-publishing are skipping this step.

    3) Publishers current changes to their business model actually position them in the opposite direction they should be headed. As such, the ideal strategy right now is to traditionally publish paper text and self-publish the ebook (opening a whole can of non-compete worms).

    What I know most of all.

    1) Pursuing traditional publishing has made me a better writer. A MUCH better writer. For all the vitriol and frustration of craft norming and limitations, I am a thousand times better as a writer and storyteller than I was only two years ago.

    A Disturbing Thought

    So if you don't make it out of the slush pile, you're most likely getting the ax by the assistant tasked with grinding the slush. Assuming the assistant wants to be an agent someday down the road, not only are you getting rejected by the agent you queried, you're getting rejected by an agent from the future! Double the rejection, double the fun1?

    It's like Jet Li's "One"2 but for querying.

    1 Rejection from the Spearmint twins would be easier as it would be wholly expected.

    2 Which is a lame sci-fi reinterpretation of Highlander. I prefer Li in his kung fu roles like Hero, Fearless, and Forbidden Kingdom.

    Realigning the Thought Tracks

    There is some common wisdom shared among authors that has gotten twisted by the internets, like playing a game of operator/telephone (depending on where in the country you grew up--basically a message is relayed through a number of people and it warps with each passing). The very wise advice was, "Don't quit your day job and think to support yourself with a writing career."

    Fewer and fewer authors are able to write full time, especially those that don't have spousal revenue/benefits to take advantage on. Certainly it's challenging to make a living when you don't have a backlist to generate revenue on top of your new advances. George RR Martin once said that an author should not quit his day job until his backlist royalties equal his advances that total sum can support his lifestyle. I think this is a good and simple rule of thumb to follow.

    Unfortunately, the advice has been warped to say "Don't get into publishing to make money."

    Bull. Shit.

    There is no better reason for you to get into publishing. It is the best reason to get into publishing.

    You want to write a book because you love to write? Fine, write it. You don't need to publish it to satisfy that goal. You wrote it. Goal accomplished. What are you trying to get it published for? The one is completely independent of the other.

    You want to be published so more people read your story? Self-publish on Amazon and set the price for as low as it can go. If you just want people to read it, nothing gets your work out there like a free book on a major distribution platform. The numbers say a first-time midlist author can expect to sell only 2000 books. You can pass that total if you're just giving it away, can't you?

    So why are you publishing? You just want to hold the book in your hand. Go to Lulu or Ingrams or hell even Publish America will get you a paperback for you to hold onto. Certainly they don't have the thousand hoops you have to jump through to get published by a major house.

    Why are you publishing? To be a professional. And professionals get paid, kiddies. Don't think that getting paid for your writing makes you any less noble. Don't think it besmirches your art. If you're going to publish, you do it for the money. Know how royalties work. Know quarterly statements and quarterly taxes. No rights and revenues and plan strategically.

    If you are querying agents and pursuing publishing, you are announcing to all parties that you expect to get paid. Don't shy away from that fact and for the love of god don't tell people not to get into publishing for the money. Just tell them not to quit their day job.

    Which reminds me of a second thing I've been hearing lately. Actually, I've been hearing it for awhile but it seems to connect with this post very well. There are some agents out there who have VERY helpful blogs that really get into the challenges that agents/authors face in terms of boilerplate negotiations and rights disputes, royalty statements, etc etc. Someone will inevitably comment to the post saying, "See, this is why I want an agent. So I don't have to worry about this stuff."

    Bull. Shit.

    You will learn the business of publishing, my friends. You know what they call people who let other people manage their business? Suckers. You want an agent because they know people in the industry. They know the workings of the publishing contract. They know likes, disklikes, preferences, and dirty tricks. They're your consigliere. But you're still the motherfucking godfather. All those numbers and percentages and conditions and timed changes may seem intimidating, but you will learn them all. Because in the end, the only person that's really looking out for you is you. There's no guarantee you'll end up with a top shelf agent. There's no guarantee you'll end up with a top shelf editor. You are your business and you need to protect yourself from the failings of others.

    Having an agent and an editor are good things, in my opinion. They are powerful tools for publishing. Their DeWalts not piddly Black & Deckers. But you need to read the instruction manual and make sure you don't put a screw right through your thumb.

    You're not alone in this great endeavor, but you are the captain of your ship. Know how to sail.


    This story began as a ponderance. I thought of it from time to time. It sat in my brain like a seed. Will it sprout or will it just lay there? It sprouted a little, but I doubted enough to make a story out of it. My wife then asked me what I was talking about and gave the seed enough water to sprout. She demanded I write the story, you see. And I tend to try and write stories when they are asked for. I've always been that way and I'm not sure why it is.

    This story also makes me think of a comment Hannah Mosk said on Twitter. She felt the phase should not be "Write what you know" but "Write what you've read." She felt that reading on a subject was just as good as experiencing something firsthand. This is a complicated argument to respond to because she's right and wrong at the same time.

    "Write what you know" is not "Write what you've experienced" or we wouldn't have a lot of books written in a year. It means to know your subject. Know it, don't just wing it or half-ass it. Reading enough books, like she suggests, will give you the information you need to write on the subject. At the same time, a first-hand experience will always trump whatever you've read. Mork from Ork describes it best in "Good Will Hunting." You can read a book on the Sistine Chapel, but it won't compare to the experience of standing there and smelling the air. You can write about your experience at the Sistine Chapel or you can about how someone else wrote about his experience at the Sistine Chapel. It has a generational dilution effect. At some point, it will become a stereotype or a cliche and not an experience at all.

    The reason why I went on that rather long tangent is because WHAT'S BEHIND THE CROOKED DOOR? is a fairy tale noir set in Brooklyn. I've never been to Brooklyn. And while I can try to translate what I've seen from other media (movies, TV, books), it will not be the same as if I went to Brooklyn (to which I'll have to arrange a trip next year). Seeing things first hand will make it a thousand times more real than if I just try to paint what I've seen in other people's paintings.

    And with that, an excerpt from WHAT'S BEHIND THE CROOKED DOOR? Same caveats as before (caveats I make with every excerpt--I post first drafts. I like comments, but don't freak out on the quality of the writing).


    I went to a bar; I sat at the bar,
    I met a woman named violet.
    I bought us drinks; we drank our drinks,
    Then we had sex most violent

    I said farewell; I did not fare well,
    I had no idea what else was in store.
    I stumbled out; I passed right out,
    Then awoke at the crooked door.


    “Knock it off, Tommy.” I waved my hand back and forth, trying to smack the four-year-old away. I should never have given my sister a key. More importantly, I should ever have showed my nephew where I kept all my Nerf weapons.

    “Tommy!” My voice cracked. I couldn't remember the last time I had that much to drink. Well, yes I could, now that I thought about it. My first year after college. I fell down the stairs and met that Greek girl. God that had been a good time.

    Violet's passionate screams slapped me harder than Tommy and my makeshift Nerf broadsword. Slapped me right in the crotch. The audio came with blessed video, and I saw her clear as day. Rich brown skin, long black hair, curves to die for, breasts to kill with. She sat on top of me and rocked as hard as she could.

    “Tommy, go to mommy,” I said. Better get the kid out of here before he got an impromptu lesson on anatomy. Yes, it's supposed to get hard like that. Yes, that's as big as it gets.

    I was wet. Wet all over. Not an, 'I got so drunk I pissed myself,' which I have thankfully avoided to date. More a 'You're lying in the gutter and a crazy homeless guy is peeing on you.'

    My eyes shot open. This wasn't my bedroom. This wasn't my apartment. This was an alley. This was the gutter. I really was lying in the gutter.

    “Oh motherfucker!” I shooed the dog away. Too late. My pants were soaked. I could already smell it. I gagged on the overwhelming scent of urine. I breathed through my mouth until I was certain I wouldn't vomit.

    Not that there was any guarantee. My head still pounded. I'm not what one calls a big drinker. I'm a social drinker to be sure, two-fingered Scotch on the rocks or a pomegranate martini.

    Hey, don't judge. That shit is delicious.

    I'm thirty-five years old, and this is my first hangover. If I could, I'd pull off my head and leave it on a shelf until this passed. How do people do this kind of thing every weekend? Why do people do this kind of thing every weekend? I didn't understand it in college, and I don't understand it now.

    My roommates used to compete to see who had gotten the more drunk that particular weekend. My roommates were fucking stupid. This was nothing short of masochism. Might as well wear a studded leather thong and put a ball gag in my mouth.

    “Good god,” I muttered as I stood up. I had to admit that was the best sex I had had in—ever. If getting drunk and waking up in the gutter while a dog peed on you was the price, it was a price happily paid. I would never have agreed to that beforehand, but hindsight was 20/20...

    Well, right now, more like 20/80. Where the hell was I?

    The alley was dark, just before dawn dark. There were no street lamps and nothing came from the end of the alley or from the windows above. There must have been a blackout. I looked around for sparks shooting from a transformer. Why the fuck I thought I'd find the transformer in that alley, I had no idea, and it wasn't like I could have fixed the thing even if it was there. I just wanted a definite explanation as to why everything was dark. When you can't remember how you got somewhere, even the most basic hard fact is reassuring.

    A cloud passed away, and the full moon came out. It was huge. I don't think I had ever seen the moon that big. After making sure no one was around to see, I reached up and tried to grab it. Nope, still out of reach.

    There was a door in front of me. I stood maybe three feet away from the side of a nondescript building. It could be any New York building. There wasn't a lot of diversity in this part of Brooklyn.

    The Six Books of Harry Potter

    Nathan Bransford invited readers to post comments about Harry Potter on their own blogs and link back in his, for which this post is created. Depending on how long you've been following me, you might have listened to the episode of the PodgeCast or even read the older post on my LiveJournal that covered the matter. Rather than digging through all that, I will repost here why I think the seventh book should be erased from the collective memory.


    Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix Lestrange


    Like many of the previous novels in the series, HPDH lacked a firm editorial hand1. The 300-page trek through the woods was interminable. At least 100 pages could have been cut from that scene without detracting from the story.

    The climax of HPHBP enumerates a number of rules for the final book. Harry is chasing after Snape and not having any success at all. Snape tells him that he'll never succeed without learning how to cast without speaking. More over, if Harry ever hopes to face Voldemort, he must first defeat Snape. Neither of these issues are addressed in book 7.

    Never, not once ever, does Harry cast a spell without speaking in the seventh book. When it comes to the final conflict, it has no bearing whatsoever to the outcome.

    Harry never faces Snape. Nagini kills Snape while Harry watches, so really, the whole ending of book 6 is negated.

    WORSE, that negation also reduces Dumbledore's sacrifice. Why did he let Snape kill him? To protect the Elder Wand. Snape defeats Dumbledore and thus is the owner of the Elder Wand. Harry is supposed to defeat Snape so he can get the Elder Wand. The Elder Wand is one of three items that GIVE THE BOOK ITS NAME! That plotline is entirely disregarded.

    Lupin and Tonks die so that Harry can be father to an orphan, bringing to a ridiculous conclusion to the character arcs of two of the most reasonable characters in the series up to that point. They throw their lives away to avoid responsibility2 and their deaths are a complete throw-away. It's not even a scene of the book.

    Harry sends Ginny, the most badass combat wizard of the group, away at the end of the sixth book. And she stays away. What character is this? Certainly not the one that had grown into a strong-minded woman in the two previous books3.

    And the clincher, JKR's comments following the publication of the book. No, not that Dumbledore was gay. Who gives a shit about that? No, she made two comments that just make me wonder how she managed to write such an amazing series in the first place as she seems completely out of touch with her own characters.

    Blog post 1: JKR answers the questions of what happened to the characters after the end of the series. Harry and Ron become aurors and revolutionize the field. AYFKM?!?!? Neither of them are smart enough to be aurors much less to revolutionize the field. They lucked into potions class and would never have been able to last in any long-term capacity in that profession.

    MORE IMPORTANTLY, she had created an arc she never resolved. Voldemort had tried to be the Dark Arts professor and failed. Following, the school never had another professor for more than a year. Being his opposite and given his proven track record at surviving the dark arts (and experience leading DA), Harry should have taken on the roll to break the curse. Ron could have taken his self-confidence and gone on to play professional Quidditch, which is the only activity he ever truly loves in the entire series.

    Blog post 2: JKR says she crafted the ending specifically for Harry to represent Jesus in an effort to draw readers to Christ through her fiction. Hey, if that's what she wants to do, that's her choice. But to accomplish it, she derailed her own series and turned it in a direction where she could recreate Good Friday in a wizard combat zone. Never sacrifice your story for your message. A skillful author could use the former to deliver the latter.

    Adendum 1: I also contend that Neville is more popular because of the movies than he is because of the book. JKR uses Dobby as the character that arrives with the timely answer (e.g., gillyweed). In the movies, they use Neville who is a lot cheaper than a CGI house elf. Not only did it work, it was BETTER than the books. It fit the character better and fleshed it out. The Neville of the books never got any real attention (other than being a practical joke) until HPOP, whereas the movies began his evolution one story earlier in HPGF. While he gets a great scene in the final book, I wonder how much attention he would have got if he hadn't grown so popular.

    Adendum 2: What would have been cool? In HPPS/HPSS (depending on your nationality), Ron is the knight and has to sacrifice himself for Harry to continue on to the end. If that had been paralleled in the final book, it would have been a stroke of genius.

    1 After the series became popular, there became a standard format to any Harry Potter novel. Part 1: Main plot. Part 2: Awesome subplot. Part 3: Lame subplot.

    Parts 2 and 3 always got equal attention and swelled the book well beyond an appropriate page count. Parts 3 from every novel could have been chopped with no loss to character or primary plot flow. It would have just chucked lameness that we all had to wade through like we were sewer workers or something.

    2 I have yet to meet a (sane) mother who would sacrifice the life of her kid to be with her husband while he runs off to get himself killed.

    3 In all their previous fights, Harry and Ron have required a third person to force them back together. When Ron returns with the sword, it should have been Ginny hauling him there with whatever cattle prod Ron needs that book. They abandoned their strongest weapon and the story abandons her too4.

    4 I will admit to some bias, as she's my favorite character, but really. If you're going to war, you don't send the guy with the machine gun home because it's dangerous. Certainly the guy with the machine gun doesn't stay home once he's there.

    A Matter of Perspective

    My wife and I were passing through Greeley Park a number of years back during a summer art fair. Painters, photographers, and home jewelers displayed their wares. This was back at a time when my then-employer continued to promise me an office. When I passed a small photograph that I absolutely loved and it was only $20, I decided to pick it up. It would be fantastic to put on my desk!

    I set it on top of my desk at home with a few posters of New Hampshire (like the flume) where it sat for the next three years. It sat there when I got laid off. It sat there when I took a demotion to work for another company. It sat there when I moved laterally to secure a full time position that would in no way warrant me having an office.

    We bought a townhouse and were setting up our home office much like we had before. But this time, a lot of the things we had put on top of the desk were being placed elsewhere. (We gave away a lot of stuff and had some extra space on bookshelves, etc.) Where oh where would I put this picture I love so much? My wife says, why don't we hang it?

    *blink. blink.*

    The photo is of a dead tree sticking out of the Nashua River. It looks black and white, but it's just a gray day without any color on the trees in the background. It's dark and misty. The water is this opaque force that came up around this tree on all sides and it was trapped there, helpless. (The picture is not online and I can't find the photographer's website because of a Brit with the same name sucking up the SEO [search engine optimization--a term you need to know as an aspiring author]). You've probably seen a tree like this before though, yeah? One that's growing in the middle of the river, and you can't figure out how it got there because it would have had to grow up out of the water and that only works for Aphrodite.)

    I ask my wife if she's certain. She tells me yes, she likes that picture too. Really, says I? I would have thought it too dark for your tastes. Dark? says she. I find it to be a very hopeful photo.

    *blink. blink.*

    How is that hopeful? says I. It's a dead tree!

    No, it's a tree that may bloom again. It stands for the hope of rebirth and what may come in the future.

    No, it's a tree that had its time and is dead. It stands for the absolute inevitability of the future. We all die eventually.

    So the picture hangs on the wall in my home office, meaning two entirely different things to two different people. That's pretty cool.

    A Ponderance: What do you think is back there?

    My good online friend and beta reader, LurkerWithout works nights at a hotel. Having held this job myself, I understand his psychological pain. To pass the time, he will occasionally doodle and share those doodles with the masses. (That's you and me, in case you were wondering just who was amassed.) Today's offering is worth reposting, both for its humor, but in particular the fourth panel:

    I love the angle of the door and the streaks that give it texture and make me feel like I'm looking at a door that's really there and really weird. But it's the question! The question demands an answer and my brain just starts turning.

    What is behind the crooked door?

    Is it a crooked world? Is it a world filled with optical illusions where everything is level, but based on its craft, everyone walks slanted in an attempt to maintain their balance? Or is it metaphorical? Is the world on that side the same as ours but crooked? Half-way between this world and the bizarro world, where everything seems normal until the twelve-foot tall white rabbit comes out of his pawn shop and beats the shit out of you because you were looking through the window too long. Don't fuck with the white rabbit. If you're looking you're buying else move along.

    So move along you do, walking down a street like any other you might walk in New York at night, feeling dirtier than it really is because the air is stagnant and filled with exhaust. You turn in an alley because that's what one does when he feels like he's being followed and no matter where you go, you always feel like you're being followed inside the crooked door. That's where you meet Tommy the Rat, but he's not a squealer. Bobby the Hamster is, but Bobby the Hamster is Tommy's bitch and the hamster doesn't do anything without the rat's say so (unless you can get Bobby alone and buy him an orange soda, but since you don't have the peach pits to pay up, how are you going to get an orange soda?).

    All you have is cloth money (as dollars are cloth not paper, so we really need to change that phrase) and that doesn't get you very far here. You need yourself some peach pits or people will think you're a chump.

    Maybe you can turn a trick or two, but the corners are already full of fellas and their pimp looks like she can kick your ass. It doesn't much anyway cause the fellas are as broke as you. No one wants humans anymore. There's nothing finer than the foxes uptown. They don't have pimps. They have services with phone lines and operators. An hour with a fox costs more pits than you could make in a year turning tricks down on the corner, so just give that up and see if you can't pick up some day labor down by the docks.

    When does the sun rise here?

    A Ponderance: How to Steal from the Greeks

    You may have noticed Nate Wilson appearing here and there in the comments section. He's a good bean. He's a bean you'd use in your award-winning chili. He has his own blog. If you have not read it, you should. The footnotes alone make it worthwhile. Recently, he posted an explanation of why the blog is named Sometimes, the Wheel is on Fire. This origin is wicked awesome. I immediately declared I would steal this from him and use it for a story. I pondered and I pondered and I pondered some more. But no matter how much I pondered, I could not come up with a story better than the original mythology. It's just cool. But it's not cool to just use the mythology as if it was something you came up with. If you can't play a tune and make it dance like a monkey, there's no reason to include it.

    But today that monkey danced! The mistake I made was to look at new stories where the wheel could be used. Oh no, my friends, I should have been looking in stories I've already written. Or more precisely, the one I'm writing right now.

    In JEHOVAH'S HITLIST, you don't get a lot of the resources you see today. No wood, no plastic. Most everything is fabric, recycled paper, or metal (mostly metal--aluminum or tin and the like). Each avenue is named for the 53 states and has three or four parks named for the larger cities in that state, the largest always being the capital city. These parks, lacking trees or vegetation of any kind, are a lot like your modern day skate parks and playgrounds. The problem is, the tinkers have already looted all the movable metal. Swing sets are barren, teater totters have nothing with which to teeter or totter. So you get these great big cement ramps and these concave bowls where if you run fast enough, it's like you're going sideways.

    But what about the larger pieces of metal too heavy for the tinkers to haul away? What about those wheels where you run in a circle and then grab hold and go round and round?

    So far, the punishment I've found for almost anything is death, and that's a bit extreme. There would have to be some method of punishment for minor infractions. The gangs aren't going to shoot you over every little thing. The deputies aren't going to string you up. You'd get beaten up or left out in the elements. But how? Circling a pursing and beating them is blah. No curb stomping or anything that extreme.

    The wheel!

    When Jehovah finally goes up above and to Ademi Dayo, the young woman he has to kill, the two talk about the differences of their worlds. Jehovah talks about how much trouble he got into when he was younger, always acting out. When you get in trouble, they tie you to the wheel and throw rocks at you.

    How horrible!

    Nah, not really. It could be a lot worse.

    How could anything be worse than that?

    Sometimes, the wheel is on fire.


    Idea stolen and assimilated. Boo. Yah.


    This isn't a fully formed story idea, but something I wanted to write down for later. Today is my birthday (and if I weren't so tired, I had a completely different post I wanted to make but now I'm just going to go watch "Repo Men" instead). For my birthday, I went up to the White Mountains and went horseback riding. There is a ranch I've been to before (Rocky Ridge Ranch) and a horse I enjoy riding (Buddy).

    We were walking along in the hotter-than-expected heat and I thought some people might feel bad for Buddy, having a few hundred pounds of saddle and human on his back. It wasn't like we were going much faster than I would have on foot. We're walking after all. But back in the day, it wouldn't be just me. It'd be all my gear too. Buddy was a Beast of Burden.

    And that got me thinking. Where is Burden? Who are these beasts that live there? Are there any other similarly named locations? Could you be a Beast of Obligation? or a Beast of Obsession? Or do all the beasts come from Burden and you get something like trolls in Obsession? And why are these communities so homogeneous? Is there a segregation law that prevents beasts from living somewhere besides Burden?

    And what's it like to live in Burden? It doesn't sound all that fun, really. Why doesn't anyone leave? Is it because the housing market is depressed? Or are beasts low wage-earners versus neighboring communities?

    And for that matter, is Punishment a penal colony? It makes sense, given its name and all. But why do they only send fat people there? Or are they taking the broader definition of gluttony where the object is non-specific and it's simply the appetite that matters. Do the Greens from Envy take issue with how broadly gluttons are defined? Or do they have a summer home in Envy but winter in Punishment?