Archive for Music

Rules of Engagement

Posted in Political Commentary, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/30/2017 by Angel D. Vargas

-Friday, January 27th, 2017

“President” Donald Trump signs an executive order re: immigration at 4:42 pm Eastern Standard time. This order “indefinitely barrs” Syrian immigrants from entering our borders. The order also suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and blocks citizens from seven Majority Muslim countries from entering the US for approximately three months.

The order takes effect. Almost immediately, chaos ensues. At airports around the country, hundreds are detained and questioned. Thousands more are left wondering about friends and family, stranded or turned away before they could reunite with loved ones who were simply traveling abroad. Across the world, millions are outraged.

I am outraged. Aside from the Anti-Muslim bigotry inherent in such a ridiculous order, there is more to be concerned about here. This is in direct violation of the US Constitution’s first amendment. For those who’ve forgotten it, here it is in bold print.

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Federal judge Anne M. Donnelly, who used to serve in New York as a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge, challenges Trump’s executive order, granting a temporary stay for refugees and others. In her words “irreparable harm” would be caused by sending the travelers home.

Irreparable harm. Those are tough words. But we are living in tough times. As such, I’ve had to look at those two words and wonder if Judge Donnelly’s countermand was too late not to have caused irreparable harm to the way American citizens must now view their own country. Trust issues, anyone?

If I want proof about how bad things have gotten within Trump’s first ten days in public office, I only need to remember how recent conversations with friends, coworkers, and strangers have gone. Walking down the streets of Harlem these days, it seems that the tension is thick enough to cut with a chainsaw. People don’t look me in the eye here, which isn’t surprising given that it’s New York City, but many of the ones who do look wary or fearful. Many more appear angry.

Words are also a problem. Now it seems, everyone must be careful what they say. The media is being slowly silenced by a man so hell-bent in preserving his fragile little ego, that nothing bad can be said about him without consequence. Kellyannne Conway promises that journalists who say anything pejorative regarding Trump “will be fired.” Trump continues to malign CNN and other networks that express concern over his heavy handedness or his apparent inability to comprehend the consequences of his own actions.

And now, it seems, citizens don’t know how to talk to one another. I know I’m having trouble. I square my shoulders now when I engage in political discussions at work, for there is a good chance that emotions will erupt like Mount Etna. My home life has been invaded by tense discussions regarding Trump’s latest gaff or executive order. My personal life has ceased to be about the pursuit of happiness. Once again, I am pressed into making the choice between taking in the news of the day, or ignoring it for the sake of my sanity.

As a Hispanic American, I know it won’t be long before I am asked to produce “proof of citizenship.” I won’t deny the temptation to smash the face of the person who will inevitably do so, but there is no doubt that person will be an officer of the law. My father was one of those. I will never besmirch the honor of his service. Yet despite my father’s exemplary career, he has already come under scrutiny for being “the other” since Trump’s election. Now, it seems, the closet bigot is free to come out and play among us all, like a demonic bully child on a playground primed to be “great again” as it gets whitewashed with hatred and ignorance.

I cannot allow that.

But there is something else I cannot permit. I will not permit the others who oppose Trump to judge me for the confidence (or lack thereof) with which I pursue resistance. I’m still unsure what form this sort of resistance is supposed to take in the face of such tyranny. I say tyranny because I am sure that this is the monster with which we are faced. An emboldened idiot has taken office, blindly signing away the liberty and happiness of American citizens and immigrants, appointing self-serving bigots with seemingly corrupt agendas to surround him and shower him with inane praise. “Good job, Putin Puppet. Now, let’s release the hounds on these peasants.”

But what will happen when Trump goes so far that there is no turning back? Has he already gone that far? It’s not even been two weeks, and I am already terrified at the prospect of what’s to come. Will there be a KKK rally here in my home city? How many more hate crimes will be committed around the world that mimic senseless Mosque attack in Quebec?

When will I have to consider obtaining a conceal and carry permit?

That’s right. I’m considering it. Some of you same idiots that fight tooth and nail to defend the second amendment while threatening to shoot yourself some beaners are forgetting one simple truth. Not all liberals and Trump opponents are pacifists.

Think on that.

I’m not into marching or rallies. I never was. But mark my words. The true patriots of America have often been the dissenters. Without dissent, people will not have reason to rethink their potential ignorance of gravely important matters.

I wonder if those who voted for Trump are starting to understand how bad this might get. When will they scream to the stars in penance for what they’ve done? I’d invite these fools to wait for the inevitable “I told you so,”but that would be my own hypocrisy shining through. I am deeply sorrowful for the sharp decline of our Nation’s values. International friends and acquaintances are asking me “what happened?” to my own country. I can’t even give an honest answer. The truth is more horrible than any horror fiction I can concoct. Yet I know I mustn’t give into the sorrow. And neither must anyone else. The moment we the people give up our desire to do the right thing, I’ll know to look for the mushroom cloud on the horizon..

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Editing my Horrotica Book ..

Posted in Drum Roll, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/08/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

There’s a funny thing that happens when I edit short stories that I’ve written.

Maybe it’s not so much funny as it is aggravating. I perseverate on things. Sentence fragments. Run on sentences go on and on and on until I stop and deliberate on the uses of commas and periods only to find out that I’m either too trigger happy with the fucking things, or that I’m not savvy enough with them, and then it turns out that my friends are no better with commas and periods than I am, and don’t even get me started on the uses of semi colons and the like;

Whew.

In short, I am my own worst critic. You would think that this would make me an excellent editor for my work. You would think that I wouldn’t need the services of professionals.

But I won’t lie. I’m too biased, after a certain point, to know what I’ve missed.

Beta readers are important, in part, for this reason. I’ve got several loyal and wonderful writer friends who will help me in that department. YAY ME! And a big YAY should go to them all. You know who you are 😉

Short stories are one thing to edit. After a certain point, I’ve done all that I can do. I’ve listened to the advice of my beta readers. I’ve even read the darn thing aloud to myself and to others just to ensure the smoothness of my narrative. I find it easiest to catch errors this way. If it sounds awkward as I read, it will read that way to my audience. At least, I think this is true.

But now that I’ve gone and written a book, I find that the editing process is very different. In my mind, it’s a bit like dropping a pebble into a still pond. That pebble creates ripples, and these ripples can spread forever. They can, in fact, bump into other ripples created by other dropped rocks, or they can be blown away; fragmented by an unexpected wind.

But I can only see the ripples if I am under the sunlight. My book feels like the pond underneath the heat and the light of the sun.

The magnitude of my accomplishment is beginning to settle on me.

Editing a book of mine also makes me feel as though I am in a time warp. When I can go back to the beginning chapters of my book and ask myself questions like “Who the hell wrote this?” and “What the hell was I thinking?” I have to feel good. I feel good because I am a better writer who can catch many of these mistakes. My style has evolved. I’ve altered my use of American English (hopefully for the better).

The editing of erotica adds another interesting layer to this exposed feeling.

I am bearing my soul with my writing. I won’t mince words. I knew that I was going to try to get this thing published. I knew that I was going to finish this book, make some noise, edit the shit out of it, celebrate my greatness, and then allow a professional editor the smack the shit out of it (and my ego) if needed. I am capable of doing the forward, backward and side rolls I need to figure this thing out. I’ll put in the sweat. I’ll work through the tears and the desire to put my fist through walls.

What else is a warrior writer supposed to do, especially when they are trying to break into the business?

Erotica exposes a part of soul that I rarely share with others. People don’t look at me and assume “this man has sex on the brain.” Well, some might, but I either laugh at them or get their numbers depending on who they are. But we can all be honest with each other, right? People are probably better off not making more than perfunctory assumptions about one another on first glance.

But if I  am damned lucky and I work hard, someday, this part of me will be exposed to the world. I want to make people squirm at work. I want the husband who reads my stuff to go home and fuck his wife until the roof comes crashing down around their ears. I crave the knowledge that I caused someone to break into a sweat on an otherwise uneventful bus ride back home from work.

Now, my characters really ARE on a stage. It feels like there are cameramen and boom mic’s with them in each scene as I scratch out one word and use another. As I relinquish my use of adverbs, I zoom in on someone’s bare ass. As I add a description of the glint in my leading lady’s eye, I actually see her breasts heaving up and down in the heat of passion. My leading man is beginning to understand what a fluffer is.

Again, I ask, “What the fuck is going on?”

Throw in the horror aspect of my book, and what we have here is a recipe for double the pressure. I’ve got to keep the tension going on multiple levels. Horror must be a visceral experience too! Fear must build. Gooseflesh, thrills and surprise must be felt when this is all said and read.

Horror and erotica are two of the hardest things to write, and perhaps two of the strangest genres to combine. The thing they both have in common other than being so difficult to do WELL is that both must be shown with such clarity. I want everyone who reads my work to feel what these characters experience. I want grab my readers by the hand and leap head first into a hell of a ride. I want them to break into a sweat for one reason or another.

I don’t know if I’m good enough to accomplish this. But I am not afraid to do the work to find out.

And damn is it fun!

I don’t know all the unwritten rules of writing a book or editing it. This is something that I can only learn by doing it over and over again. I can go to the drawing board as many times as it takes. I can pour my soul into every word that you will ever see. But I didn’t go to school to learn to write fiction. My hat is off to those who have. I may even take a class on creative writing someday when I’m not creating something else to scream about. What I’ve discovered lately is that there are so MANY good writers out there, I can only guess at what defines success for each one.

For me, the appeal for writing always was and always WILL be the ability to use my voice to add something original, fun and beautiful to the world.

Look for it. Listen for it.  It’s coming.

I may or may not record these words later for my amusement and your entertainment 😉 Fear not! my dulcet tones shall return later this week!

The Journey Continues

Posted in Drum Roll, The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/04/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Follow the bouncing wine glass. I’ve got some celebrating to do 🙂

Imagine this.

You take a journey with one man into a dark place.

He meets what he thinks is a woman, who then takes him to the darkest place there is.

He meets another woman who is worse for him than the first.

Time passes for the man, and he meets more and more strangers that help to elicit massive changes in his life.

By the end of trip, the man doesn’t recognize himself. He’s met so many strangers, immersed himself in so many experiences, good and bad, that he is not the same person that he was when it all began.

I’ve taken such a journey with such a man. The man is in my head. He’s a character in my first fictional  book. He has spoken to me of his travels. He has relayed to me his trials, his victories and his losses. He and everyone else he’s met along the way has had something to say about the world in which he is now immersed. His life has been forever changed, and I have had the pleasure of telling the story in a way that only I can.

I finished telling the tale of the first part of his trek last night. The last chapter was written. I saw it, and it was good .. or so I like to think.

The next step of my journey has yet to begin. I like to think I have a decent book in my possession, burning a hole in the memory banks of my computer, waiting to be read by millions. But there is reformatting to be done. And then comes the first round of edits by yours truly. Beta readers may need to peruse my work, and then I get to submit my piece to a professional editor and hope to goodness he or she likes my stuff enough to give it a chance.

Like my character, my journey is far from over. Also like my character, I had no idea that this experience would bring about such change.

Looking back at the rather vague summation of my book, it occurs to me that all people undergo such an adventure. Each day brings a new opportunity to travel roads yet unexplored. Each choice that we make brings about changes that even the sagest of us cannot always foresee. Not all of these changes are going to feel good, but they may all be for the better.

The only constant that I see in life itself is change.

And it is good.

As I read other books, I make my guesses as to how far along the authors are in their own personal travels. When I began to write again after a ten year absence, it almost felt clandestine. It was as though I was passing secret messages along to those who could decipher them. I was doing it in the hopes that someone out there would understand and support my efforts.

But as I began to find others along the same road, my voice became stronger. I rediscovered muscles that had long since fallen into disuse. Anyone who has begun physical training after a long absence can attest to the pain that this can cause, especially when they try to go too fast too soon.

Sometimes however, like a whirlwind romance, fast can be amazing.

It will be less than a year since I grasped my muse by the hand, pulled her to me and reclaimed her. Right now, she takes the form of a saucy succubus with luscious curves, including the horns on her head. She’s a bit like the Mystique character from X-Men, however. She assumes different shapes at various times. All of them inspire me.

And my voice is strong and loud. It is no longer a whisper. Just ask anyone who has heard my voice acting in recent months.

I’ve done many things since my return. I’ve reviewed and judged the writing of others. I’ve helped others to edit their own work by lending my voice to their characters, adopting them and making them my own for the briefest of times. And I’ve written until my eyes crossed and my fingers cracked under the strain of repeated typing.

I’ve also founded a blog that I love, undertaken social networking, and made some friends that I know will stay with me on this beautiful and harrowing journey.

As of last night, I finished my first book, and I am proud as can be. I’m aware that my quest is far from over and there are many forks in the road. I think I’ll take a different path and explore short story writing again. I miss writing vignettes that inject fear into your veins and trap it in there like a rat locked in a wooden box.

It’s time to revisit Nox Arcana, turn off the lights, bolt the door, and scare myself to death.

Wanna go for ride?

Worship in Many Forms

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/19/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

I was walking by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 51st street a couple of days ago.  For those of you who don’t know, Gothic Architecture is among my favorite things in this world.

 

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. I live blocks from this amazing landmark!

 

I’ve been inside this amazing place before.  I could show you pictures of the internal clerestory, but none of them would be without print on the most wonderful part of the picture, which would be the light shining through the rose windows.

 

There are all sorts of reasons that one might chose to come to place like this.  I simply love the aesthetic of this place, the sense of grandeur and attention to detail.  One can feel pretty insignificant in the universe that surrounds them as they walk into a Gothic Style Cathedral, and this one is no exception.  I came here to send my energies to the universe and to send a dear friend of mine to a peaceful rest after I got news of his untimely death on the other side of this country…

 

Whatever I was taught in Saturday school (my church was weird and did Sunday School and Saturdays), I learned to worship God in my own way.  God was the light that shown through windows like these and mesmerized so many of us young children even as we all failed to understand the sermons of half the priests who spoke in front of the congregation.  I myself never grew tired of such images of radiant beauty.

 

 

I grew so fond of the images of these Rose windows, in fact, that I rendered one of my own by hand on the inside cover of a book that I hope will one day house a few of my best short stories and pieces of artwork.

 

 

This may be an unusual way for one to worship God or to admire church, and to be honest, I have never truly believed that anyone needed church in order to worship God or the powers that be.  Before the inevitable debates arise from this statement, I want to ask you what use the words of God are to a visual person if the light of God doesn’t shine upon the world?

 

Luckily I also happen to be a writer, and I found the words of the Bible quite interesting for a myriad of reasons, even as I gradually left the church itself.

 

But this blog entry isn’t even meant to be a treatise on why I love Gothic Architecture and stained glass Rose windows.  Let’s just leave it at the fact that I do.

 

What I really mean to explore here is the definition of worship itself.  Does humanity truly only worship the powers that be?  Do we not also worship nature? The power of Gothic Architecture aside, I can scarcely think of anything easier for human beings to pay homage to than the sun, the moon and the stars, for instance.  The anthropological studies of many ancient cultures suggests that this is a deeply historic, ingrained human notion.  Even some of the great natural wonders of our world, like the Grand Canyon, have drawn excited tourists for decades with their awe inspiring scope.  One cannot help but look at such a place and wonder how in the world it was ever created by the forces of nature.

 

And then there is human nature.

 

Though humanity is not without its flaws, so many of us seek perfection in many aspects of our lives.  For some theorists in the realm of animal behavior, humanity is like other animals.  The three most powerful instinctive desires for humans may be food, sex, and sleep.  There is even a relatively famous song where the chorus is very simple, but poignant.

 

“All I want is food and creative love.”

 

 

How could the yearnings of the human soul be more easily stated?  Wouldn’t we all like that?

 

What some of you may be starting to realize here is that I have begun to walk by the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral of late, and it does not always make me think of God.  I think of worship.  But I also think of  burning desire.

 

I think of someone special to me, and words like these come from within:

I will see you soon my dearest love.

You’ll feel the gentle touch of my warm hand

I’ll follow the brightest stars above

To be beside you.  I hope you understand.

I will one day leave this wretched place.

And you will finally know that all is well.

I will find you and caress your sweet face.

And I’ll recall exactly why I fell.

I’ll breathe in the sweet scent of your hair.

I will trace my hand across your cheek

My touch will tell you more than words could dare.

Kisses are the language I will speak.

I will taste the nectar of your lips,

explore the curve and valley of your back.

My hands will trace the curve of your hips

And I will know your love keeps me intact.

My lips will know the contours of your thighs

I’ll kiss your secret spots from head to toe.

Yet I will be stripped before your eyes

And  you will know all that there is to know.

I know the very fire in my core

will be aroused when I whisper your name.

Always know your key unlocks that door.

But dare you fly, a moth unto the flame?

There is nobody in this world that will convince me that she is not just as beautiful as all the sunlit Rose windows in the world could ever be.  I will worship true beauty in this world in its many forms.  That is heaven to me.

Lonely Among a Crowd…

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/16/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Loneliness can be a powerful thing.  I can get on my soapbox and proclaim that modern technology has made that worse for most people.  But that’s only a part of the issue as far as I am concerned.  It happens sometimes when one chooses to eschew the attentions of others.  I often self isolate when I’m upset,  thinking I’m doing something noble.  If my world doesn’t make me happy in the moment, I have the hardest time reaching out to others in order to share that part of me.  Often it’s because of the kind of environment in which I was raised.  You don’t play therapist to your angry, resentful parents when you’re just a boy without something fucked up happening to your sense of how others deal with their problems.  I have a very skewed view of how  most people chose to cope.  I often think that people whine and blame others for the problems they brought upon themselves.

 

And sometimes I find out that I’m right.  But that’s because I chose to forget the one lesson I learned in science class about theories and hypotheses.  You cannot go into an experiment looking for evidence with which to support your hypothesis.  The experiment speaks for itself, and you simply interpret the results with as much objectivity as you can muster.  I myself don’t always believe that I can be objective, but I strive to try my best, especially of late.

 

Then again, when it comes to my own heart and how vulnerable I feel when I let people in, I’m reminded of a line from the movie “The usual Suspects.”

 

“One cannot be betrayed if one has no people.”

 

It is a cold way to feel.  I don’t always know the benefit of having “people.”   But as I’ve said before,  a choice can always be made to break that silence, to break that pattern of self isolation.

 

And I am not always right about what’s good for me.

 

An Aikido instructor once told me it takes a great deal more strength for the lone warrior to ask for help than to dispatch one hundred opponents.

 

I cannot tell you that I understood what she was trying to tell me at the time, even as she sent me flying into the dojo mat, heels to ceiling.  But I walked for hours this morning in Central Park by myself after I had a mini meltdown.  I hadn’t slept, and suddenly, all the things that I had been dealing with and NOT really telling too many people about just kind of boiled over.  I needed people, but just not the ones that were around me at the time.  I forgot that sometimes one can feel lonely, even in an urban environment full of people.  All those people are lost in their own worlds, slaves to their own concerns.  It might even be the height of arrogance for me to think any of them has the time to give a damn about me.  Sometimes that works in my favor as I don’t always want  to worry about anyone else either.

 

But it didn’t work for me today.  I just felt…lonely.

 

 

I write for one reason, above all.  I enjoy writing very much, but writing affords me the opportunity to break that pattern of self-isolation, even when things are going badly in other areas of my life.  Sometimes my writing is simply a cathartic process.  Other times, I want to tell someone special how I feel, but I can’t get the words out without putting them to paper.  Writing is something that I can share with others without need for embarrassment or remorse.  I already know that I use my words to great effect when I express deep emotion.  But it does no good if I keep those emotions to myself all time.  And what good is it to make up a kick ass story if nobody ever gets to hear or read it?

 

What stories will I pass on to my own children, should I ever father any?

 

What stories do you all hope to pass on to your kids?  What heart-felt stories have you all shared with others?

 

I’ll likely get lost in my writing again in the next few days.  But for tonight, I think I’ll rest my tired brain.  Writing is something I often do while my muses talk to me, but they’re silent tonight.  Maybe I’ve inadvertently silenced them.  That’s just as well.  I shall call them back to me with a drumbeat before long. 😉

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