World-A-Week Challenge I: Everybody Talks

 This week’s Challenge Image was brought to you by Javan Nelums, submitted over Facebook.  The image is by JJasso, and is called Thekno City.  I claim no authorship or attachment to said image, and if you are the owner please contact me if you disapprove of the post.  Without Further ado…

E v e r y b o d y   T a l k s


Corin dashed through the neon patchwork of the streets, the garish lights of billboards and the corporate spires of the New City muddled by his steps in the ever-present puddles on the street beneath him.  It was December, but that didn’t keep the air from being thick with the humidity of the breath of the millions that lived above him, made impossibly more stagnant with the overabundant scent of the spices flowing from the vendors set up and down the street. He scrubbed the moisture out of the stubble on the left side of his head and took a moment to consider.

He’d arrived in the Old City only a few hours before, having just got into the station from Hong Kong a fraction of an hour before that.  Since then, he’d been wandering without a destination, trying to appear as if he was a Midlevel on a jaunt below, something that had become commonplace enough as to not gather comment.  Small flocks of squawking birds lit on street side heaters used to create circular patios to draw passersby into the shops, their mottled forms outnumbering the few patrons out at this hour of the night.

Few on this level could afford the shops and restaurants’ luxuries, only to work for them.  His father had been one of them, though in a different borough.  Corin had helped as a child, carrying food to the tables of those from the neighborhood fortunate enough that week to be able to order his cousin Sarya’s roasted dumplings, or those slumming from the wealthier Levels Above who came in for his aunt Marda’s pastries.  Traditionalism had been a major fad for several years before he’d walked away from that life, and some of the Midlevels still latched onto it, desperate to gain face with those above them.

The hem of his coat was slick with the mixture of sludge and whatever liquid passed for rain this close to the surface.  The biased leather trench had kept the chill away when he was Above, but he was roasting now that he’d reached the surface. He’d needed to hide, and they’d already been in the station when he’d arrived.  He’d developed some arcane instinct detecting when he was being watched over the last six months.  He’d had to, in order to have lasted this long.  So he’d taken the nearest shuttle without looking, hoping his lack of a plan might buy him some time—but in hindsight setting himself up in a part of town where someone like him stuck out like an out’chiya in full plumage wasn’t going to get the job done.

His steps were deliberate, though his gait must’ve looked peculiar to those who glanced at him as he shuffled past. They didn’t engage their curiosity for more than a moment before they dropped their eyes back to their menus and drinks.  He’d chosen this borough precisely because it wasn’t the sort of place you raised your gaze.  Once part of downtown, the Old City had found itself pushed further and further to the periphery of the ever-growing metropolis.  And in typical American tradition, the ethnic neighborhoods had been pushed to the edge of town as the powerful bought up the center of the city and began to build their spires, domes, and wealth.  He was definitely an outsider here, and he needed to get off the streets before his aimless wanderings made him appear…conspicuous.  He pulled up the collar of his coat to hide what he could of his visage and continued apace.

Corin shook his head to clear his thoughts, his lopsided mahogany bangs matting against the right side of his face.  Cass had loved the look, he remembered wincing.  He’d grown out all of it about a year ago, and she’d given him hell for it, asking if he’d decided to pursue a career as a urisen after all.  She’d been the one to get the trimmers and, after a few too many shots and a dare, he let her shave off the left side.  He should shave it all off.  Get it together, man.  This is not the time to fall apart. Focus. Keep moving. Don’t attract attention. He let the emotions slide off his face and put on a slightly askew, almost teasing grin.  He didn’t care if it looked mocking—that would suit him just as well.

The package bulging through the brown leather bag slung over his right shoulder had to remain intact if he was going to survive this, even if he didn’t understand what it was, or why he’d been chased across two continents for it.  Life as a courier had paid the bills, and kept him light on his feet, but the last year had kept him running almost nonstop, when he wasn’t in the air.  Glancing up, ships lit the sky, flying to and from the New City, disappearing as crackling streaks of light in the smudge that was the sky.  He felt his pocket buzzing, but he dared not answer the UBox.  Encrypted as it was, it was dangerous enough to have kept it on. Just in case.

More blocks than he could count later, he had to stop at the corner of yet another two streets he couldn’t pronounce to make way for some armored transport headed out into the suburbs.  He briefly stopped and contemplated trying to jump alongside, but by the time he contemplated it had long past and he took a breath.  Across the street, a man with a weathered, cracked  face looked up from his street stand and its barbequing meat, his hard amber eyes softening as he saw the tattoo on his neck.  Corin winced—obviously the collar hadn’t been enough to hide what had mattered most.  He tried to not let his exhaustion show as he met the man’s eyes, and nodded softly.  The man was about to speak when Corin started down the side street.  Safer for you to not get involved, he mused, if it came to that.  Whoever wanted what he was carrying, wanted it badly enough to put down his partners in Boston, and the contacts in AIC he’d reached out to in Portland.

Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t realize he’d turned again down a small alley until he was facing the wall in front of him.  Too tall to climb, covered in that damn slime-mold that was a plague on the older buildings of this part of town, he was going to have to turn around.  Dead end, just like the last six months, he sighed, his shoulders slumping and the bag drooping towards the ground.  I’m not going to do this.

Blue goo fell from the sky, some skyward ship dumping its waste in front of him, as gulls and what might’ve been a corvus flew from the nearby heaters and landed to promptly feast on it, screeching at him to protect their feast.

The inevitable footsteps crept up behind him.

Tumblr Tuesday/World-a-Week Challenge: Week 1

So Tuesday got away from me, but I realized if I didn’t post something resembling a Tumblr Tuesday  post, I couldn’t do my inaugural World-a-Week Challenge!  So, I curated a bunch of images from my tumblr page that I think are awesome.  You can find the link of this past week’s favorite images here.

This week’s World-a-Week challenge: Location, Location.  Find a picture that speaks to you for some reason of a particular place, and send it in to the blog here, or to my tumblr. Beings (people, animals, fantasy creatures) can be in the picture, but the challenge for me will be to use the  setting you give me.  I may use whatever else is in the image, if it works with what I come up with (it usually will).

So send me pictures!  Let’s build our first world!

Wednesday Weigh-In: Week One

Comic of the Week: Despite me floundering in the end of Kieron Gillen‘s Journey into Mystery (which, the more I think about it, might be one of my favorite comic runs by anyone of all time) all week, whistfully sighing waiting for Marvel to announce that he is writing that teen team-up book with some of my favorite characters ever (WHEN, Marvel, WHEN?), and the craziness involving travel and business trips for the boyfriend, I haven’t even gotten to last week’s comics yet!  But a commitment is a commitment, and I promised you folks an update.  So I had the unfortunate burden of heading to Culver’s for comics lunch and reading my entire weekly draw from this week.  And there was a lot to read.

I should probably give you all a sense of scale.  This was a slightly heavy draw week off of my pull list at my friendly local comic shop (flcs, going forward).  I had 20 books waiting for me today, spreading between the big 2 (Marvel & DC Comics) and some smaller franchise and independent books.  So when I say something was the best of the week, that means it surpassed about 17-19 other titles each week.  That means I read approximately 80 comics a month.  It also means I’m poor.

So, what won out this week? It was a weird pull, because for a change I had a wide spread across a bunch of genres.  Valiant’s Harbinger, Mike Norton & Tim Seeley‘s Revival, Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, and Nate Cosby & Ben McCool’s Pigs #8 were all tight this week, turning in some of the best work yet on all titles.  For big payoffs, AvX #10 was pretty sweet (been waiting for a decent moment in this title, as its definitely been dragging). Some books that surprised me were X-Factor #242–big emotional moments, but almost no build up left me wanting to feel more than I did.  Red Hood #12 almost made it to the top of the pile, as the storytelling was honestly as tight as I’ve seen Lobdell do since he started his run.  It felt very much the epic, star-spanning swashbuckling story they were clearly aiming for with the cover font choice.  Avengers Academy 35 (which just announced its end date this fall and I’m trying not to cry) had big emotional payoffs this week and ties for the top spot. I’m going to miss the characters something fierce, despite Christos Gage‘s comment that they may be living on in some way in other title in the MarvelNOW iniative. They won’t be the same without his heart and soul filling them up with awesome.

The winner for this week, however, is DC Universe Presents: Kid Flash.  What? A one-shot in an anthology series wins best of the week? HECK YEAH, it does!  For starters, I didn’t realize how much I missed Fabian Nicieza‘s voice in DC’s teen heroes.  I love Scott Lobdell‘s Teen Titans, but Fabian was my go-to guy that made me seriously love Tim Drake–and he does wonder with the New52’s Bart.  Under Nicieza’s guidance, Kid Flash comes across more serious in this one-shot than in the main Titans book, more experienced and wiser while at the same time keeping his humor and awkwardness that made Bart one of my favorite DC heroes ever.  He also goes up against teenage human/dinosaur hybrids that are pretty complex for brand new, one-shot characters.  And that’s just the start.  I almost want him to lead a team of these dino-kids in a longer running mini-series.  The art by Jorge Jimenez is sleek and speedy.  I didn’t exhale until I finished the issue, as it was one beautiful ride that slid effortlessly from panel to panel.  This makes me crush so hard for this creative team, as well as all of the characters.  So if you like dinosaurs, Flash, Bart, or just great teen characters (that ought to be most of you), DC Presents: Kid FLash (#12) is the one comic you should buy this week.

Song of the Week: Well, last week it was Primadonna, by Marina & the Diamonds.  Early this week, it was Want U Back, by Cher Lloyd.  But lately I’ve found myself listening to the remix album of Imagine Dragons’ It’s Time on Spotify on endless repeat. It’s been really energizing, good habit reinforcing, and makes me dance around the house with my gym shorts on.  No videos of the latter.

Favorite Meal of the Week: This week has been boring for food.  Leftovers and frozen dinners.  I’ll Have more exciting things to report next week.

Best Media Stuff of the Week:  Well, the Madonna Bar Mitzvah Boy is big on the gay blogs this week.  I feel envious of him, that he’s comfortable enough in himself, and his family and friends that he could let loose like that at so young an age.  I definitely used to wish to do things like that at that age.  But I think the two best media making the rounds the last week, in the last week or so (keep in mind, some of this is dated but I found it this week) is the story of the momma dog saving her puppies from a burning building in Chile and an old story I found on Kieron Gillen’s tumblr stream about the magic we can give to each other when we rise about ourselves and try to be selfless, even in the smallest ways.  That story made me cry, so it wins this week.  Read it here.

Welcome to Late Night Stir Fry!

So this is it, my inaugaral post on Late Night Stir Fry!  I snagged this domain about a year ago, and I’ve sat on it until I was sure I knew what I wanted to do here.  If you’re looking for my personal blog, you can find it here.  Chances are, though, that’s not what brought you to our door.

Late Night Stir Fry is my attempt to unify my online writing presence, while also creating an interactive space for myself and those that read my work.   So in the words of Sue Sylvester, let me break it down for you.

  • Tumblr Tuesdays: Every Tuesday, I’ll be posting a bunch of images here that will forward to my tumblr blog.  I’ll also put out a request for you to post pictures as comments to the thread.  Each week, I’ll pick one picture and write up a scene inspired by it.  Depending on the week, it’ll be either a Person, Place, or Thing.
  • Wednesday Weigh-Ins: Every Wednesday I’ll comment on my favorite comic of that week, as well as films, television shows, or random pop culture phenomena.  Think of it as a media download with a twist.
  • Spotify Sundays: The last Sunday of every month, I’ll post a Spotify playlist that will be my soundtrack for the following month.  I’ll listen to it while I write the World-a-Week challenges, and comment throughout the month on which songs rock and which grow stale with use–and I’ll definitely take recommendations and requests.
  • Late Night Stir Fry (World a Week Challenge): This is the heart of this little experiment.  Sometime between Friday and Sunday each week, I’ll post the short fiction inspired by one of the pictures you have submitted.  This fiction may or may not interrelate with other week’s challenges.  The more creative the pictures you send in, the more creative I’ll be in turning what you send me into a window to another world.  At the end of a year, I will examine the project’s progress and determine its future.
  • Status Updates on my other larger projects: I have larger, non-web based projects in various states of preparation.  As they move forward, you’ll be able to find preview excerpts here, as well as status updates as my work on them continues.

To summarize, the goal of this site is thus: I write a lot. Pop Culture & Geeky things. Pictures. We create worlds.  We share our imaginations. We win.

Sound good?