Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Magical Realism

     Jake heard the familiar jingle as he pushed his way through the heavy door of the convenience store. A tasty after-school snack was just what he needed. He sifted through the options in the aisle in the back marked 'baked goods,' as if dry donuts and cupcakes manufactured weeks ago in some factory two states over and vacuum sealed could be considered 'baked goods.'
     "I know you're real hungry, let's shove a few in your backpack for later," a voice rasped in his left ear. "No one's paying attention to you back here, you could take 3 or 4 and they'd be none the wiser!"
     "Absolutely not. Think about the manager, he's got to make a living you know," came a voice in his right ear. "Stolen food will taste sour in your heart."
     Over the years, Jake had grown tired of listening to the angel and the devil that resided on each of his shoulders. Their bickering and unwanted input often made him lose focus, and kept him questioning even the most innocuous of decisions. And yet, at times they lent
     Not wanting to feed the escalating debate occurring across his shoulders, Jake turn away from the baked goods and hurriedly left the store, empty handed. He stepped out the door to the jingle of the bell and was confronted with a distraught woman kneeling over a motionless male body.
     The woman looked up and their eyes met.
     "Oh good!" she exclaimed. "My husband is diabetic and just fainted, please wait here with him and watch him while I get help!"
     Jake stood for a moment, staring at the scene before him. He looked around; the street was otherwise empty as far as he could see.
     "Come on, this is an easy one," the angel chimed in from the right.
     The devil said nothing, leaning up against Jake's ear with his arms crossed and a musing look on his face.
     "O-okay," Jake stuttered.
     "Thank you so much!"
     The woman leapt up and hurried off, leaving Jake alone with the supine body. Jack walked over and crouched down by the unconscious man. Only the steady rise and fall of his respiring chest indicated that he was still alive. Jake swept his eyes across the body, his eye catching on a bulge in the man's pocket. His wallet. Jake gazed at the bulge for a slow, lingering second.
     "Looks like it was worth it after all," came a slick voice in his left ear. The devil's lips spread into a wry grin.
     A moment's pause.
     "No," the angel said with a stern glare.
     "Hey now, why do we always have to listen to you? When do I get my turn?" the devil questioned.
     "Because I am of sound judgement and will lead Jake here down the rightful path of justice and integrity," the angel proclaimed proudly.
     "Hah! You speak of justice, but what justice is this when one voice is never heard? There is no justice in your actions, only oppression," the devil spat venomously.
     "But I am pure of mind and soul and I will choose what is right," the angel countered.
     "And what is right?" asked the devil. "I think that what I do is right, so then you deny that which is right."
     "You wouldn't understand. Your mind is clouded in delusion, you will never see your own folly. Or if you do, you will never admit it." While the angel lectured on, the devil pulled himself up Jake's ear and hopped up onto the top of his head.
     "-in fact, you're very existence is a flaw in this realm."
     The angel paused and looked up just in time to see the devil flying down at him. The devil landed on the angel's shoulders. He pinned the angel's arms down with his legs, and wrapped his lanky fingers around the angel's throat. The angel writhed around as the devil attempted to choke the life out of him.
     Jake, in a stupor, slowly reached a quivering hand into the man's pocket. The devil continued to tighten his grip, staring maliciously down at the angel, whose struggle had begun to falter. The angel's body fell limp as Jake closed his hand around the man's wallet. The devil threw the angel's lifeless form from Jake's shoulder as Jake rose, clutching the wallet.
     Jake scurried off down an alleyway as the devil rode triumphantly on his shoulder.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cantor - The Thinker: To Outwit a God

     How does a mortal best a god? One of many questions on his mind. The mighty Ares, at that. And so an attempt of force in any measure was clearly destined for failure. He would need to exercise his cunning rather than his martial prowess if he were to see his sister returned. He had heard of mortals falling out of favor with the gods before, and the stories did not bode well for him. Back to the matter at hand: how could he hope to extract his dear Phaedra from the clutches of the god of war himself?
He allowed a range of bold and daring schemes to play out in his head as he sat hunched over in thought.

Cantor - Artificial Rock 5: Haiku

Glinting reflector
What weapon pierced your body
Contorted in pain

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Charles is a very proficient guitar player, and has performed at a number of small venues with his band.

M: When you play guitar or write music, do you need to be in a certain mood?

C: Sort of. It helps to be "in a mood," but there isn't just one mood that will do. I'll play when I'm happy and really enjoy myself, or I'll play when I'm stressed or upset to feel better. Same goes for writing songs.

M: So would you say that the mood you're in is channeled into your work?

C: A lot of times, yes.

M: Is there some ritual you go through to prepare yourself to create new music?

C: Not really, I actually like it to be more spontaneous. I don't think I work well under pressure, so I never pressure myself to make music. I never think to myself "Ok, I'm gonna write a song today." It's more like "Ok, I'm gonna fool around a bit because I feel like playing some guitar, and if I hear something I like, I'll remember it or write it down."

M: You're in a band with three other people, how do you think working as a group influences the creative process? Do you think it's easier or harder collaborating with others?

C: I really like having other people to work with when I'm trying to flesh out a song or a riff. A lot of times when an idea pops into my head I get excited to share it with the others and see what they think.

M: How do you guys generally go about writing a song?

C: Like I said I feel like I'm more of a spontaneous person, and I think the others are the same way. Generally when we get together, someone will present something they've been working on, and we see how we can add on to it to make a full song. For example, I'll show them this riff that I like, and if they like it too, we try to think up drum line, bass line, and lyrics to go with it.

M: Do you guys ever disagree? Are there times when you present something and they shoot you down, or when someone else shows you something you just don't think is good?

C: Yea sometimes, but it's never really a problem. It actually don't think I ever really hear stuff from them that I don't think is good. Sure sometimes someone comes up with something and in my head I'm like "I don't really see this going anywhere," but even so it's still fun to go along with it and just start playing. Sometimes I end up liking it after all.

M: Do you stick to writing just guitar parts, or do you try other things too?

C: Mostly just guitar, at least when I'm on my own. I honestly don't think I understand enough about the other instruments to just write out music for them, plus I really need to have the instrument on me to mess around with to try to write anything. Now when we're together it's a bit different. First of all since we don't really have a dedicated singer, we pretty much always come up with lyrics together. Sometimes someone will bring in a line or chorus that they really like, but for lyrics we mostly just bounce ideas off each other until we find something we like. Anyway for other instruments, when we're together we give each other input, like I'll listen to Alex banging out some drum line and I'll ask him "Hey I think it would sound good if you hit the cymbal every other beat instead of every beat."

M: Who or what inspires your songs? Are there any specific places or artists that you or the band draw from?

C: Yea a lot actually. It's not like I can even tell you a few main bands we like because it's really just whoever we've been listening to lately. At least for me. Another thing we do is share interesting stuff we've heard recently with each other. I think often times there will be a song that we like, and then you can see (hear) the influence in a song we come up with. It's like this unspoken influence. Well sometimes someone points it out, like we were jamming on this one riff, it wasn't even a full song, and Alex goes "This is just like The Day that Never comes," and then everyone else was like "Yea I know I was thinking the exact same thing." Anyway I'd say that we usually don't plan it out, you know we never get together and say "We really like the sounds of this album, let's do something like that."

M: So I know you don't consider yourself a professional, how do you think things would change if you or your band made music for a living?

C: I've thought about that a lot, I think we all have. I don't know about the others but I'm not sure how I'd like it. Sure it'd be really cool to be famous and have millions of people listening to your music, but again it's the pressure. If my music was my job, I'd constantly feel pressure to write songs. I'd also be afraid that people wouldn't like our music. Right now the only people that I care about whether or not they like the songs are the other guys in the band. As long as we all like it, we play it, and if other people like it, that's great. But if you're a professional, it's like you've failed if other people don't like what you play.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


He had a square face with a round nose and cheeks that puffed out just a bit. Tufts of light brown hair fell out over his ears and down his forehead, almost obscuring his muddy green eyes. His nose was small and inconspicuous, hovering over thin lips that were often pursed in an inquisitive manor. A slight fuzz of hair was barely visible above his upper lip. His hunched shoulders produced a somewhat meek stature, at odds with his height. Though he was nearing the end of his teenage years, he had not yet shaken the clumsy mismanagement of his limbs that came with puberty. Despite his generally disinterested demeanor, he was capable of a broad smile showcasing rows of straight white teeth.

He looked like a cross between a playful young child and a pensive old philosopher.

"Poor Gork" Inspired by 'Behind the Screen'

     Gork was quite short, even for a goblin. He couldn't run fast or jump high, and could barely lift the smallest boulder in the Rock Pile. As it was, they never let Gork in on the real fighting, and he was always stuck crewing the catapult. As Gork sauntered over to the mess hall for lunch, he idly fantasized about slitting the Chief's throat in his sleep and making off with his gold.
     Gork sat down at a crowded table with his meal. Rat stew, not bad.
     "'Ey Gork, I'll trade-ja me eyeballs fer yer tails," offered Rik, on of the larger goblins of the tribe.
     "Okay deal."
     Gork picked out two juicy rat-tails from his bowl and held them out for Rik. Rik snatched the tails from Gork's hand while Gork stared at Rik expectantly.
     "O wait, I ate all me eyeballs already!" Rik said through an ugly grin.
     The other goblins around laughed as Rik stuffed Gork's rat-tails into his mouth. Gork ignored them and turned back to his food. He should have known that would happen. After he finished he headed back to the warren to kill some time playing Sticks.
     "Guess what, Gork," came a voice from behind.
     Gork turned around and was met with Grak's large misshapen form. Grak wasn't good at much, but he was strong, and often served as the loader for Gork's catapult. Gork didn't particularly like Grak, but he didn't particularly hate him either.
     "Word is 'at we's in fer a big 'ol fight tomorrow!" Grak said excitedly. Something resembling a smile formed across his sagging visage. This cheered Gork up a bit. He knew he'd be back with the catapult, but he almost preferred it that way. He could watch the carnage unfold from a distance while heaping his own bit of chaos into the fray.
     "'zat so?" Gork asked. "Who izit?"
     "Humies," Grak responded "Chief wants da whole city dis time!"
     This was exciting new indeed. As Gork drifted off to sleep that night, visions of fire and blood played out in his head.

     "Keep um comin' Grak!" Gork shouted to the loader. The air was thick with smoke and dust as the goblin horde laid siege to the human city. Gork and his crew had been launching large rocks at the enemy defenses non-stop for some time now. Gork hoped the humans would break soon, his shoulders were beginning to ache from operating his war machine.
     "I 'ate bein' back 'ere" muttered Kor, the third member of Gork's crew. "I wanna stick me a humie!"
     "She's ready to go again, whatsa holdup?" Gork asked.
     "Uhhh, I think we's outta stuff to throw," Kor said, glancing around.
     Grak was standing still with a slightly puzzled look on his face, as if contemplating a great riddle.
     After a moment of silence, Grak said, "I think we's got one more thing to toss at dem humies."
     With that, he grabbed Gork by the arms and hefted him into the catapult before giving the release a solid tug, sending Gork soaring over the battlefield towards the enemy lines.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Wolf at the Door: 400 words

     I had worked later than I realized and now the building was empty. It was getting dark outside. I ran home as fast could. My house came into view and I ran to the front door; risky, since I didn't have the key, but I just needed to get inside as fast as possible. I jumped up the steps to the door and knocked. My sister let me in.
     I tried to close the door but a wolf slammed against it and kept it open. We struggled against opposite sides of the door. Through a gap in the doorway I could see the wolf's car, and a friend standing by him. My two sisters watched as I struggled.
     "Get a knife!" I shouted to my older sister.
     She stared at the door and did nothing.
     "Get a knife!" I yelled again.
     She hesitated. She did not want me to die, but she might have steeled herself to the inevitable. Also, she no doubt felt something for the wolves, which I felt myself: they were only doing what they must.
     Outside the wolf had turned into a man. He was hungry and stronger than me. He burst through the doorway.
     I grabbed a broomstick to push him back. Suddenly, my older sister launched herself at him, carrying them both outside. I was shocked by my sister's actions, but the wolf kept trying to get inside. I stepped outside and with a great shove of the broom handle, pushed the wolf off the step. My sister ran inside. I shut the door and locked it, but it did not lock.
     "It's locked!" I said. "It counts as locked!"
     "All right," the wolf said. "It counts as locked."
     Outside I saw him become a wolf, then a lion, then give up and become a man. Before they left, the wolf's friend asked for my phone number. I gave a false number and she took it. I felt a surge of victory. I felt like a person who knows how to manipulate the success of her own life.
     Later that night we all went to bed. I slept downstairs, in the living room; I think this is the way my sisters want it. Before my older sister went to bed, I told her about a dream I'd had. "Your dreams are not that interesting," she said. I knew she was right.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


My name is Matt Stadnik and I am a senior majoring in physics. I am originally from Bethesda, MD but I plan on staying in California after I graduate. I like to read and play games, and I play the guitar on and off. I am excited to develop my ability to express myself through writing.