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Nov. 25th, 2007

Flight

http://agdevitt.blogspot.com/2007/11/flight.html

Link posted for your convenience, dear LJ readers.

Nov. 15th, 2007

For the convenience of my LJ exclusive readers...

http://agdevitt.blogspot.com/2007/11/beige.html

Please comment on the new page, if desired.

As always, I thank you for your interest.

Feb. 19th, 2007

BASH

What follows is the intro to my short story, Assassin's Playground.

The perfect assassination depended on many factors, but exact change was not usually one of them. Standing before the gated entrance of the Highway Playground on the outskirts of Greenswille City, Gaz Lightly dug deep into his belt pouch and came up empty. His partner, Merc Ludo, had a little more luck, producing three silver pieces from the hip pocket of his high-waisted, loose-fitting pants.

“Why can't we just go in?” Ludo said, craning his thick neck to get a glimpse of the realm's “premier adult entertainment emporium.”

“Because we're assassins, not thieves. And admission is twenty-five stecks.” Gaz stepped out of the foyer and into the backwoods twilight. The Highway Playground was way off the highway…so far off that it had taken them over an hour to find the place from the turnoff. Gaz stood on the rickety wooden deck overlooking the barren field, which contained three horses, including their own. Not a lot of business for so lucrative an establishment. The persistent stories of wild animal attacks in the outlands had taken their toll.

“You know, your warrior code is pretty inconvenient,” Ludo said, leaning his bulk against the railing.

Gaz shook his head at the larger man. “How many times have I told you—”

“I know,” Ludo sighed. “The only thing separating an assassin from a murderer…”

“…is that we adhere to a strict moral code,” Gaz finished.

“It was easier being a wrestler.” The big man stared off into the empty lot, arms akimbo. “The fights were fake, but you knew who the good guys were.”

“We're the good guys, Ludo,” Gaz said, as he had told himself repeatedly since going professional.

Ludo jingled the coins in his hand. “One of us can go in, anyway. This comes to thirty stecks.” He turned towards the gate, which was splintered in spots from what looked like a dwarf-axe attack. “No one's here. One of us can handle it.”

Gaz looked up at the signboard overhead, illuminated by torchlight. It advertised “Free Mead” as one of the enticements. “How can they call it free mead when they charge you to get in?”

Ludo shrugged. Gaz felt that shaking sensation in his guts. His adrenaline was up. His body was tightening. He had to stay loose. Focused. Relaxed. Maybe Ludo was right. It was stupid to blow a fifty-thousand platinum deal over twenty-five stecks. Maybe he did need to lighten up.

“Let's do it.” Gaz let out a long, deep breath. “But you give them the thirty stecks, at least.”

“Can I get some mead, too?”

“Don't be funny.”

For the rest of the story, be sure to pick up "Bash Down The Door And Slice Open The Badguy," a comedic fantasy anthology coming in just two short months.

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Pre-order it today by clicking here:
BASH

What "they're" saying:

“A real treat for fans of sword & sorcery.”—John DeChancie, author of the Castle Perilous series

“Bash Down the Door and Slice Open the Badguy takes all the old familiar sword & sorcery standards and even a few cliches, turns them on their ear, rips out their funny bones and beats them over the head with it. Lots of fun.”—Patrick Thomas, author of the Murphy’s Lore series and the “Dear Cthulhu” column in Cthulhu Sex Magazine

“It’s refreshing to turn to broadswords for belly-laughs, and sorcery for snickers, both of which this anthology delivers. With work by established authors Lawrence C. Connolly, K. D. Wentworth and Jim C. Hines—along with good entries by soon-to-be-rising stars like A. G. Devitt and Susan Sielinski—this is a solid collection of sly and silly sword-and-sorcery tales.”—Timons Esaias, author of The Influence of Pigeons on Architecture and winner of the Asimov's Readers Award.

Yes, I know this week's blog is basically a commercial. But I wanted to update this week and I am under deadline for a script, so this was the best I could do...
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Oct. 12th, 2006

Insufferable Bore Interview

The following excerpt is from Insufferable Bore Magazine's interview with A.G. Devitt.

IB: How are you today, sir?

AGD: Fine, thanks for asking. Not that I for one moment think you care.

IB: Why wouldn’t we care?

AGD: People say “How are you” when they have nothing else to say. Humans are uncomfortable being silent in each other’s company. It’s just a sound you make so everyone’s comfortable. We might as well just say “fuck you” to each other as we pass on the street. It’s all sounds.

IB: All right then. This interview is off to a fine start. Tell us about Channels?

AGD: I don’t really like talking about it yet. It’s not coming out until May at the earliest. I have the script for the first issue half completed. I like what I have so far. Here. Let me read you the official blurb so I don’t have to strain myself:
(reads from a crumpled sheet of notebook paper)
Channels is the story of Fender, a bargain basement magician who, while nursing a hangover in a run down hotel, decides there is nothing left in this world for him, so why not open a dimensional portal?

Tobe, a boy of ten who has practically been raised by television, is innocently sitting in front of the tube in the hotel room beneath Fender as he performs his spell.

The hotel explodes.

Tobe wakes up with a TV for a head.

And that’s just the start of his problems. When Liz, a being who claims to be an angel, informs Fender that he has unleashed 36 demons from Hell, Fender must find the hero within himself and hunt down each demon in a separate channel of reality. And Tobe has the remote.

Thirty-six demons. Thirty-six channels. Each time the channel changes, Fender wakes up in a new television lifetime. From an 80’s action series to a 1950’s sitcom, Fender moves from channel to channel, capturing the demons he freed while at the same time destroying realities he perceives as better than the one he is saving.

Will Fender succeed in his quest? Will Tobe ever get his normal head back? Or will Fender decide to live out his days in an idyllic TV reality?

IB: Wow. That sounds interesting. Where did you get the idea?

AGD: That’s the worst question ever. And the easiest and most truthful answer is, I made it up.

IB: And Brandon Dawley is doing pencils?

AGD: Correct. It’s really a creative partnership. I’m looking forward to seeing his rendition of the script.

IB: Care to tell us about any other projects you are working on?

AGD: Not at this time, no. I’m keeping busy. If something comes along that’s worth mentioning, I’ll be sure to let you know.

IB: Ok. Let’s get personal here.

AGD: Oh boy…

IB: Why are you a pedestrian?

AGD: You mean why do I not drive? Or are you calling me pedestrian?

IB: Why don’t you drive?

AGD: Why don’t you fly helicopters? That’s another hideous question I get asked. I have no cell phone, either. It seems to me that no car and no phone makes me some kind of freak. I guess I am selectively Amish.

IB: Do you enjoy teaching?

AGD: I do. The moment I stop enjoying it, I’ll stop doing it.

IB: How did you get into teaching? Was it something you always wanted to do?

AGD: It was something I never wanted to do. Growing up, both my parents were teachers. I told myself I would never be a teacher. I dropped out of college for five years. I wrote. Dabbled in music. Managed a cool indie music store. Met a lot of strange, colorful characters and got a lot of things out of my system. Then I just got bored of that lifestyle and wanted something that would keep me on my toes, mentally.

IB: What’s your teaching philosophy?

AGD: To get my students to not need me. It’s a strange job where you gradually build a relationship with a new group of people every few months or so, and you work towards making yourself unnecessary to them.

IB: You perform as a writer. Do you perform as a teacher?

AGD: Four shows every M/W/F. One show T/Thurs. I play to an audience of, on average, twenty people for each show. And they are paying big bucks for that seat, so I make sure they get bang for the buck.

IB: We have to ask: What’s with that hair?

AGD: It’s mine. At my age, I am happy to have it. I have had it long, spikey, shaved, mohawked. Now it’s just kind of messy and uneven. I don’t do anything with it. This is how it is. I don’t know why people are fascinated by it. There’s guys with stranger hair, I’m sure.

IB: Is it true you never wear a tie?

AGD: I feel bad for men in ties. The word itself…tie…they are tied to their jobs. I don’t need to be tied down. Plus, I don’t put my neck in a noose for just anyone.

IB: Every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man!

AGD: Shut up.

IB: What author influenced you the most?

AGD: There was no single author. My favorite living writer is Robert B. Parker. The man is a master stylist. But the one book that I can say had the greatest impact on me not as a writer, but as a teenaged boy, was Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. That book changes lives.

IB: You have written two novels now. Any chance of them being published?

AGD: My first novel, Ultraville, technically was published. If you want to be literal about it. It sits, bound in a handsome faux leather cover, in the library of Seton Hill University. Published. I feel the book is unfinished. I hope to finish it before I die.

IB: And the second?

AGD: I ran out of summer. I need to finish the third act and give it a good second draft. Right now Channels is a priority for me. I need to prioritize. I will give more attention to that which will bring in income versus that which “could” bring in income.

IB: Will you be returning to the Pen In Hand conference this March as an author in residence?

AGD: Yes. They are actually having me back. Again. I love doing that conference. It’s usually one of my better weekends.

IB: Will you be reading “Assassin’s Playground” at the conference?

AGD: I’m not sure that would go over too well. A lot of the action takes place in a brothel. It’s a high school audience. And their teachers. I need to keep it respectable.

IB: When will that story be available?

AGD: Your guess is as good as mine…Last I heard they were finding an author to write the intro to the anthology it will be appearing in. It will hopefully be out soon. I’m anxious to read it.

IB: Didn’t you write it?

AGD: Yes, but that was a long time ago. I forgot what happens.

End of excerpt.
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Aug. 10th, 2006

I Love You

This is gonna be tough. I have avoided writing my thoughts on the subject of love since I started this journal. Sure, I have hinted here and there, but never have I done any exploratory surgery on how I feel about it.

If you haven’t yet, please go back and read my previous journal entry. Not so much for the entry itself as for the responses. I was amazed and awed by the honesty and, dare I say, beauty that came out of your willingness to talk to me. The experiment was so successful in my mind that I have taken it a step further in this entry.

I am answering a friend’s questions about that which shoots forth from Cupid’s quiver.

I have many friends at the moment who are going through a crisis of love, so now seems as much of an appropriate time as any for me to chime in. The following is in interview format. Thanks (I think) to the charmingly obscure Laura Jones for providing the questions that follow.

On with the show!


1: Does love exist in abstract alone, or is there a concrete manifestation of it? Meaning, does the sort of love that lives in imagination actually exist?

Answer: I believe love to be an individual, subjective state of being. I believe that love originates in a chemical process designed to propagate the species. Nature, for whatever reason, wants us to exist, and nature’s will is not to be fucked with. Nature wants us to make babies? We’ll make babies. And to insure we don’t screw up the plan, there are these chemicals our bodies produce, drugs that affect our brains and make us go a little bit insane.

That state of insanity is love.

For some people, it never goes beyond “lust.” I will address what turns lust into love in another question, but for now, let’s go with this premise. You asked if the love that exists in imagination actually exists. Well, I say love stems from the mind under the influence of these drugs, so love therefore ONLY exists in our imagination. And my imagination is much different from yours, or his, or hers. So all of our experiences of love are completely and utterly different. Which may explain why some people are more inclined to stay in this state of insanity than others.


2: Whether or not love truly exists, society has attached a very specific meaning to the word. What is that meaning?

Answer: I think that women and men still grow up with gender differentiations built into their play patterns. While I hope this practice eventually goes away, young girls are still encouraged to play with Barbie while boys engage in war games with GI Joe. The fact that if Joe were real he would be much more interested in Barbie than fighting is a source of wry amusement for me. So, I think that little girls grow up with a “fairy tale” dream of romance, where boys grow up feeling the need to keep and protect someone.

Society places an awful lot on the word love, and I think a lot of it is economic. Look at the billion dollar wedding industry. Diamonds, for example. People, diamonds are not rare. Not at all. You are being scammed. Diamonds are formed from carbon, the most common element on this mudball. Through marketing and social manipulation while we grow up, girls are led to expect a diamond for an engagement ring. That little rock on your finger is dripping with blood. Ever read about the conditions the typical diamond worker has to live under in Africa? That rock, with its criminally inflated price, represents a type of slavery that is appalling in any age. And yet many of you ladies would not think of being engaged without one.

And men? You fall for the trap of spending three months salary on these little stones. For what? To conform to society’s ideals of love.

Now here I am speaking only of romantic love. There are other forms of love. I love my cat. Why? Well, I can only assume it is because I have grown attached to her. She is around me every day. My brain has written her pattern in my synapses. If she were to run away or die, I would miss her, because those patterns in my brain would be thrown for a loop.

Believing this about love in no way diminishes how it affects me. I am just looking at the issue of love objectively, and this is how I see it. I would run into a burning building to save my cat. I would not stop and think, “I will only miss her because her absence will throw my routine out of whack.” I wouldn’t care.

Love is an insanity, after all. It defies reason and logic.


3: The following questions pertain to socially accepted 'love'.

a: What makes a person fall in love? Is it possible to cultivate love, or does it simply happen? Do men and women love for different reasons?

Answer: Arthur Schopenhauer believed that people fall in love with individuals who demonstrated strengths that the other does not have. For example, I dislike math, so I would be attracted to a woman who can balance a checkbook. He believed that nature did this to ensure that each successive generation receives stronger traits from the parents, thus ensuring the continued success of the line.

It’s the classic opposites attract. And I do believe it to be partially true. Think about it. How attracted would you be to someone just like yourself? Not very, I should think.

But going back to a previous answer, that love is a chemical “trick” of sorts and that each person imagines it differently, I think that some people’s feelings just click. Those are the couples who stay together once that initial spark, the drive to procreate, wears off. They get used to each other, as I am to my cat, and those familiar brain patterns establish a comfort with each other. They may no longer have the passion of when they first met, but that burning flame has been replaced by a reliable fire to keep them warm and safe. This, too, is biological and evolutionary. Look at how weak a human child is. It needs its parents to stay together to keep it from being eaten. So passionate love grows into a steady, slow burning love in those people who have the compatibility for it to happen. If love can be cultivated, it stems from this pattern forming nature of our personal relationships.

Do men and women fall in love for different reasons? Well, I really cannot say. I think all people fall in love, initially, for the same reason. That chemical explosion. But what happens after that is based on the unique individual. Men, they say, are more visually based. Women prefer emotional intimacy. I have several doubts about this theory based on personal observation, but I’ll let you debate that point. It’s what my comment button is for.

b: What is the most honest expression of love?

Answer: This one is easy for me, because I have given it a lot of thought. Love is doing what you think is best for someone else, even if that action means they will not love you anymore.


c: Is it possible to fall in and out of love, or is there only one True Love out there, thereby fucking you over entirely if you miss it?

Answer: Think about your relationships. The first girl or guy you loved was THE ONE. Not just THE ONE, but the OH MY GOD THE ONE. And then it fell apart, and the next one to come along may have just been a rebound, but eventually OH MY GOD THE ONE comes around again. And you don’t know how you ever lived without them.

You have as many “the ones” as there are people capable of sparking that insanity in you and maintaining it. Remember, nature wants you to breed. It wouldn’t design a system of one man for every woman.

4: Given the possibility that 'love' could be a social construct like class or genre or Santa Claus, are there ethical considerations involved in knowingly directing the phrase "I love you" toward a significant other?

Answer: How do we manipulate people? We manipulate people by lying to them. If you tell someone you love them in order to get them to bed, then I would say there is a huge ethical consideration involved. Words are ideas, and there are some ideas that are more powerful than others. Love can be the most destructive emotion out there. Love leads to hate if unchecked. So yes, before you say those mythic three words, consider carefully their effects. The life you save may be your own.


There you go, Laura. I am interested in what kind of dialogue this will spark. Please feel free to leave your comments on any or all of the answers I wrote. You may be anonymous or leave your name, but I would like to hear from all of you. How would you answer Laura’s questions? As always, all I ask of you is honesty.

Thanks for stopping by. I need to get back to work now.

Love, A~
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Mar. 5th, 2006

Pen In Hand

This past weekend, in addition to giving a reading at the local arts center, I met and worked with some of the most talented people the area has to offer. This was my fourth year as Writer in Residence for the Central New York Pen In Hand Conference for high school students, and I was locked in a hotel for twenty-four hours with many of them. I know this sounds like the plot for the next American Pie film, but rest assured there was enough learning going on to make even the most Snape-like of English instructors content in their tweeds.

The learning occurred on both ends. I tried to talk to each of the students as much as time allowed. Each continued to astound me with their levels of intelligence and artistry, and with their startling capacity for “your mom” and Chuck Norris jokes.

The future is in good hands.

Which is all the more reason for me to get pissed off when I hear “adults” say that this generation has nothing to say, that they are functionally illiterate, and that most of them are uneducable.

It was, ironically enough, Friday morning, when I was in the mailroom at the local college where I hang my shingle, that I lamented the poor attendance that day in my 8 am class. Another teacher of 30 years told me that I should be glad, that in fact it was better to have as many of them drop out as possible.

For once in my life, I was at a loss for words.

I’m no bleeding heart, but I do what I do because I love it. Teaching is not something one goes into for the money. I can make much more money in the private sector. Hell, writing alone is a full time gig. I teach for many reasons, and take my paycheck gladly, but the money isn’t what inspires me.

I get to wake up each morning and spend my day talking to some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. And true, some are more interesting than others, but each is a human being, a unique universe, with ideas and passions that I can only hope I somehow help guide or develop. So when someone is AWOL or a large group doesn’t show, for me it is no cause to celebrate. And while I don’t want anyone to be there who doesn’t wish to be, I can’t help but want them to want to be there.

I wanted to say this to the elder professor, but I was tired, I had a long day ahead of me, and I wasn’t looking for a battle. I respect this professor. He has a lot of knowledge that would benefit his students. But I wish he actually liked his students. I think it would help.

Sadly, this is no isolated incident. There are a lot of non-teachers out there who go through the paces, meet with their classes, cross absent names off their roster with more enthusiasm than they have for the ones who show up, and collect their check and dash off for summer break. And when I accidentally let slip my enthusiasm, blurt out that I actually like my students as people, I get the old “wait’ll you’ve been doing this as long as I have.”

I pray that if I ever get that jaded I will have the good sense to quit.

On the bright side, these types of characters are a minority, at least at my school. The students can sense if you don’t like them, and they will not respect you if you don’t respect them. Nor should they. Respect is never given, it has to be earned. My students continue to earn my respect each semester, and I can only hope I earn theirs. And as for the people I met this weekend, I can say only this: Life is the one journey where you don’t want to arrive at the destination. It’s often a lonely and confusing path we walk down. Every new soul you encounter, every life that intersects with yours, is one more light to keep you on the path.

I want to say thank you to the following points of light: Koh, Alek, Barbara, Samantha, Zane, Anna (short vowel), Henry, Kristin (H and M), Jessica, Jacqueline, Cory, Alyson (and her mom), Ed (not Edward), Jeff, Thomas, Emily, Nikki, Amanda, Mattheau, Jade, Maia, Rocky (whose t-shirt reminded me I am going to hell), Julie, Amanda, Joanne, Justin, Devin, and anyone else whose name, forgive me, eludes me at present. And a big “I missed you” to Tab, who if all was right with the world, would have been there as well.

Write your hearts out. Raise your fists like antennas to the sky. Let ‘em know you are coming. And that checking your name in an attendance book is not enough.

I’m going to bed now. Good night.

Nov. 14th, 2005

Laugh Out Loud! But be quiet about it.

Denizen85: It’s a full moon tomorrow.
Ninjaboy0202: Yeah? We gonna howl?
Denizen85: Weren’t you like a werewolf once?
Ninjaboy0202: I’m not sure how to take that…
Denizen85: ha ha no remember you did that Indian ritual?
Ninjaboy0202: Native American. Yeah.
Denizen85: They made you a werewolf, right?
Ninjaboy0202: Uhm…no. I’m not a werewolf.
Denizen85: Shelly said you were.
Ninjaboy0202: Wait…so you actually believe I transform into a wolf during a full moon? Is this what you are telling me?
Denizen85: just what shelly said that’s all.
Ninjaboy0202: There is no such thing as werewolves, Denise. But if there were, you would know.
Denizen85: lol why?
Ninjaboy0202: Did you just “lol” me?
Denizen85: lol yes.
Ninjaboy0202: Are you actually “laughing out loud?” I mean really?
Denizen85: well, no. but you know what I mean.
Ninjaboy0202: Don’t lol me again. It’s beneath you.
Denizen85: what does this have to do with werewolves?
Ninjaboy0202: nothing.
Denizen85: are you ok? You’ve been acting weird.
Ninjaboy0202: like a werewolf?
Denizen85: lol no, silly.
Ninjaboy0202: For the love of god stop it!!!!!!
Denizen85: someone’s in a bad mood.
Ninjaboy0202: What do you expect? It’s a full moon…

Oct. 19th, 2004

Social Lies

So I was out with Cubby and Dumpy last night. Cubby wouldn't quit complaining about his Foreman Grill, how it never cooks his chicken right. I told him to stop eating chicken, that it is a foul, filthy animal that rots its way through his guts, but he wouldn't hear of it. He complained of Mr. Foreman's inability to cook it just right...it either comes out underdone or else dry as my eyes at Gretchen's funeral. Don't get me started on the Gretch.
Dumpy kept making eyes at me. She used to sit in bookstores and try to act desperate in the self help section. Likes to sit and have coffee by the pound. Last night she had chocolate covered espresso beans. Maybe that's why I can't sleep anymore. When it gets to the point where you don't even brew the coffee anymore, where you just sit there and grind the beans with your teeth...that's a whole new state of nothing.
I punched Cubby in the solar plexus and his guts emptied out on the puke green rug in Dumpy's basement. He was drunk so it's ok. He will have no memory, if and when he wakes up.
Maybe I should call him.
Then there is the curious harp player...Cupid Coronado. Dumpy says to just ignore him and he'll go away. But he doesn't. He shows up with his harp sack and pulls the wretched thing...he named it Feldman...from the case and plucks away until my soul is gasoline.
I think it's time to dump Dumpy.