Smoke & Hips


The mood was devilishly sour, which matched my Whiskey Sour in a Reeves’ ‘most-excellent’ manner.  I’m prone to alcoholism, but I forget often.  Something with how the world hazes over when you’re properly inebriated…it makes life seem more real.  A moment of clarity in a world that is bent on capitalizing on broken, lovestruck people like myself.  I arched my back to desperately try and pop the ache, but like most things of late…I failed miserably.  I finished off the whiskey, ordered a shot of ironic Skyy, drank that, and ordered a Sex on the Beach.  It was a bit out of character, but (hey) you only live a blurry once.  Someone brushes my shoulder and taps it twice in quick secession—   Quick, but light.  I turned.  Amidst the cliché club lights and the deep boom of the bass I saw a beautiful brunette with long curly locks staring back into my grey eyes.  We embraced—our lips touching gently (at first) and then exploded into something more…  Suddenly the Skyy seemed not so ironic, nor the Sex on the Beach.  We parted, she tipsied, and I caught her by the small of her back.  We leaned in close—  One of the beauties of cliché nightclubs.

“Where are John and Greg?”

“Who?”

“Who?” I owled.

She firmly grasped my hand and led us through a haze of smoke and hips.  Dreams, wet and dry alike, were being forged between all of the lonesome souls that we cascaded through—  Emotions compounding upon emotions, ad infinitum.  We weaved and parried between those looking for love in all the wrong places, or those looking to forget all together.  Eventually, we arrived back at our nice nook nestled within the cranny of sin. We slumped together in loud whispers.  Chiding each other for not being close enough—  Asking superficial questions just to pass the time between stolen kisses.  As my hands inched closer and closer to the prize…my thoughts…my drunken thoughts…wafted to yet another brunette.  This one was tearing off her ring in muted frustration and driving…driving away.  The music suddenly shifted, and those that were dancing scuttled as those that weren’t filled the newly created void like flotsam washing upon the dance floor.  A quick peck snapped me back to the moment…and to Diana.

“Do you want another drink?”

“Is that rhetorical?”

“Is that?” she smirked.

I watched her as she walked and weaved back into the sea of people.  My best friend John—and Diana’s friend Greg—slid into the booth beside me.  Greg seemed to be an introspective, giant of a man who had never gained the courage to tell Diana his true feelings.  John and I had only met him tonight, but even with just a few brief comments we both saw how Greg felt.  Diana was either clueless or never had the heart to let him down properly.

I heavily bet on the latter, while John the former.

John was a different beast all together.  John is a stocky Irishman who pounded drinks to drown his own recent and equitable sorrow.  Who knew that fucking a married woman, who was engaged to yet another man, would end so badly?  Clambering out of low-hung windows in the dead of night and sprinting across Cheney farm fields was never what our old Track & Field coach had in mind, but John used what he was taught and he did it well.

I swear when John chased the worm the worm ran.

For whatever reason, there was an electricity that clung in the air about us that evening.  It hovered and crackled with intensity.  John and Greg lamented, while my sorrow extended elsewhere.  Whether it be sex, sorrow, or sex to mask sorrow we all found our reprieve that night.

“Where’d you guys head off to?” I shouted above the music.

“Outside.  We both needed some air.”

“You okay to drive?”

“No, not yet— man.  I need to sober up a bit.”

“No worries.  I’m in no hurry.”

Diana slid in close next me.  She sipped both drinks before passing me one.

“What is it?”

“Just drink it,” she smiled.

I took a large swig, which finished half the cup, “It’s got bite.”

“That’s because it’s 151 and Coke.”

“Nice!  If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were trying to get me drunk?”

“Nah, just loose.”

“I’m already loose.”

“Cool, your jets turbo.”

I grinned, “You started it.”

She returned my grin, and kissed me yet again.  By this time Greg and John and begun instinctively conversing to avoid the awkwardness that would have come at a table filled with more-sober company.  However, no one noticed the intimacy building between Diana and I…save for perhaps Greg, but even he was distracted with light-hearted conversation.

John leaned over to me and shouted once more, “I think we’re going to go outside, again.”

“You alright?”

“Yeah, I just don’t feel so hot.”

“You sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, I just need a couple of minutes.”

“Ok…we’ll be out in a bit.”

Again, the two stumbled off to get some air, and I stayed to get selfishly closer to Diana.  She wasn’t the one, but she was for this evening.  We talked and drank for a while more, and eventually we followed in the footsteps of John and Greg, and headed for the exit.   The cold November air stung like a hard dose of reality.  Diana and I were both drunk enough to be able to ignore it, but John and Greg sat side-by-side along the curb entrenched within the harshness of it.  Together they had cried and swapped stories.

Diana and I gave them their privacy and sauntered off towards our own sort of recovery, but I’ll never forget the tearstained cheeks of Greg…nor my best friend, John’s.

That was a lie.  It was in the moment that a looked back into Diana’s eyes.  My sadness ebbed and my drunken heart punched out, whether Greg was there or not.

Tonight was a night of nights.

Book review: “The Martian” by Andy Weir (2012/2014)


The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a vivacious reader, but very rarely am I truly surprised by a book. I spend most of my time reading books to edit for others, ARCs and galleys to review, or graphic novels and comic books for pleasure and review. Like all writers and readers, I have my tastes. Science fiction, fantasy, and action-adventure are some of my favorite genres, but because I critically analyze these genres, and I read an immense of content, I don’t often stumble upon a novel that captivates my attention by providing a high-quality read with the excitement of a new creativity. “The Martian” by Andy Weird delivers. It is riveting and fresh. It is reminiscent of highbrow science fiction films, but layered with nuance that only a novel can achieve.

I received “The Martian” as a galley via Crown Publishing Group—which is an imprint of Random House—and I chose “The Martian” based solely on its synopsis:

“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

It plucked at my sensibilities in an abstract and I immediately requested it. It arrived a scant week later. I was graced with an ornate hardcover, a beautiful smell, and a gorgeous slipcover with an astronaut caught in Martian sandstorm. The colors are vibrant— Orange and red with a hint of a white spacesuit caught in the throws of survival.

In a word: Exquisite

“The Martian” follows NASA astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist and a mechanical engineer, on the third manned mission to Mars, Ares 3. The novel begins with a bang. Readers are not privy to the mission setup, crew members, landing, and the circumstances to Watney’s predicament. Without ruining the suspense and discovery, Watney is presumed dead and left on Mars (when in fact he is not) and is forced to survive on Mars without any means of communication till interplanetary comms can be reestablished or the next Ares mission arrives…four-years in the future.

The rest of the novel focuses primarily on Watney and his survival. Through the use of his mechanical and botany background, Watney comes up with some pretty ingenious ways to prolong his rations, Oxygen, water, and transportation. The narrative is primarily composed of Watney leaving logs for himself (or as a testament to his journey and untimely death), so the technical side to his endeavors are filtered through his warm and charming personality, which lightens what could be an overly scientific text— Changing a potential negative into a strong positive. Weir deftly avoids a common issue among science fiction writers with clever character development and use of perception.

The rest of the novel proceeds like Alfonso Curacao’s Gravity. It is deeply individualistic, but symbolic. The writing isn’t stretched by only focusing on a single character, because as the novel goes on it begins to layer in Watney’s support team on Earth. It provides a wonderful message of hope due to the global cooperation that is required to bring home an astronaut stranded on another world. “The Martian” doesn’t pull any punches or use its arsenal before the tale is done, either. It continuously builds upon the tension set by Watney’s survival till its climax. Its ending is extremely satisfying— One of the best that I’ve read in years.

After reading Andy Weir’s “The Martian” I was awed by the level of detail, character development, and sheer quality of the narrative. It is one of the best science fiction written and should be considered along the likes of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. If you get a chance try and read “The Martian” before the Ridley Scott-Matt Damon film adaptation, which is set to release in November of 2015— It is sure to be hit.

View all my reviews

Jeremy Robinson and co-author, Sean Ellis, release “Flood Rising”


Flood-Cover-6Jeremy Robinson, international bestseller of countless bestselling novels, resides in beautiful New Hampshire, and is best known for “mixing elements of science, history and mythology” into his work.  He has reached the #1 spot in Science Fiction and Action-Adventure due to his long pedigree, which includes Xom-B, Island 731, and SecondWorld as well as many, many others.

Sean Ellis is also an international bestseller.  “He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and he has a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Policy from Oregon State University.”  The International Thriller Writers organization welcomes the Arizona resident as a member; currently, Ellis spends his time pondering on how to save the world, between writing bestsellers.

Flood Rising is the newest combined effort of Jeremy Robinson and Sean Ellis.  The two have teamed up before in the acclaimed Jack Sigler/Chess Team series.  This time around they are tackling a new project and thus an entirely new series.

Flood Rising follows Jenna Ford, a teen who stumbles across a bomb ticking down on her father’s boat.  This singular moment, takes Jenna from the Keys to the Glades to downtown Miami out into the Caribbean on a path from a team of killers hellbent on hunting her down.  With hidden potential and the seedy underbelly of the criminal underworld, Flood Rising, takes readers on an adventure that is sure to thrill and entertain till the very last page.

Our People


Statue of LibertyI found God on the back of a dollar bill.  He spoke with few words— Some might say only in sign language, but I could hear the shouts.  The eternal struggles of a people.  Not those who fled across a desert, but those that live in paper temples— Traded in their glass houses for something more-flammable.  Whoosh.

Our people washed ashore.  Broken…forgotten, but determined.  We slaughtered our way to the Golden Arches in a mere two-and-a-half centuries, and while the world laughed we kept quite till the bombs fell.

We stayed silent.

We bided our time.  The world came crawling…begging for our help.  Before we walked on the moon, we ended a Great War.  Now who was laughing?  Definitely not the sleeping giant—  We were proud.  We built great things, we defined generations with our ingenuity, we carved the face of the world in our nuclear image, but we stumbled…we bloated.

And, then the flies came.

They picked at our flesh and laid their eggs in the crevasses of our economy, education, and the very hearts and minds of our people.  We call ourselves progressives as hate runs rampant.  The peaceful have become weak.  There was once a time when the peaceful picked up muskets to fight a world power, and now Guerrillas do the same.

The giant is down—  Pinned by sticks and rope.  We traveled to lands with little people, but we were never meant to stand in quicksand…we were meant to stand tall.  Lady Liberty please light the way, again.  Please Lady Liberty…please.

Tell Me What’s Worth Fighting For?


Tell me what’s worth fighting for?

Inky blackness, wet with regret?

We stand alone in a crowd

We stand huddled in the masses

 

Being herded towards a cosmic cliff

Diving to the rainbow rocks below

Shades of brown becoming shades of red

My endurance meant nothing at the end

 

I’m not allowed to say certain things

I live listless nights portraying

a confidant, a friend, a mentor

All for nothing, all for nothing

All for nothing, all for nothing

 

Dew droplets rush past

Such a waste is the past

We reflect in torment the lives we changed

But we cry the most for our own

 

Drenched in sweat…we survive the fall

Born from the ashes of ourselves and battle

I converse in solace to two souls willing to prattle

We hit the bottom.

 

I jolt— Awake, confused and lost

I am among the land of the dead.

I shuffle with my brethren to the bread lines

Remembering my falling dream…my fallen dreams.

My crayon colored canyons filled with blood