Uh oh…

I see by the surge in stat hits earlier today from the cmich.edu domain that the unthinkable has finally happened: students have found my blog.

Welcome then, to the sparsely updated missives of your professor. Don’t worry. I don’t talk bad about you. That’s for my secret blog. ;-)

What am I listening to?

Mostly as an exercise in amusing myself, here’s a sample of the most played songs on my iPod, listed by artist, song, and album.

Paul Hartnoll — “Patchwork Guilt” (Single Ep)
The Raconteurs — “Intimate Secretary” (Broken Boy Soldiers)
Orbital — “You Lot” (Blue Album)
The Raconteurs — “Level” (Broken Boy Soldiers)
Nine Inch Nails — “All the Love in the World” (With Teeth)
Franz Ferdinand — “Shopping for Blood” (Franz Ferdinand)
Nirvana — “I Hate Myself and Want to Die” (Pennyroyal Tea Single Ep)
Nine Inch Nails — “Sunspots” (With Teeth)
Orbital — “The Naked and the Dead” (Radiccio)
Paul Oakenfold — “Dread Rock” (The Matrix Reloaded Soundtrack)
Hybrid — “Choke” (I Choose Noise)
Orbital — “Mock Tudor” (The Altogether, disc 2)
Fiona Apple — “Not About Love” (Extraordinary Machine)
Orbital — “P.E.T.R.O.L.” (In Sides)
Basement Jaxx — “Where’s Your Head At?” (Rooty)
Jay-Z and DJ Danger Mouse — “99 Problems” (The Grey Album)
The Crystal Method — “Born Too Slow” (Legion of Boom)
Ulrich Schnauss — “Clear Day” (A Strangely Isolated Place)
System of a Down — “Innervision” (Steal This Album)
Blur — “Tender” (The Best of Blur)

I have also found myself listening to the new Nine Inch Nails album, Year Zero, which, while not released yet, is available here.

I know, I know…

Yep, lots o’ flash fiction on this bitch, huh?

Let’s just say that life has wonderful ways of intruding on …well, life. The Boy, who started school for his speech delay in early January has virtually spent the entire month sick. No lie. THE ENTIRE MONTH. And it’s been the kind of sick that just metastasizes into something worse. First it was a cold, then a sinus infection, and now, lo and behold, the little bugger developed pneumonia. Christ, pneumonia?!? Seriously, this is getting a bit much.

But hey, at least I wasn’t in the vicinity for either Ninja Vomit Event these last few days. Thank the gods for small favors…

Flash fiction experiment will resume shortly when I don’t have fifty million little things to do.

The Cube

“The Cube. Can you still . . . feel it?” His tone was deliberate, his voice rhythmic. Arta’s mind focused on the word feel, twisting and bending around it like a snake. Could she still feel it? Her breathing was quick but raspy, the way the old woman in the next cottage sounded after walking to the well on a hot summer’s day. Her skin glistened with a sheen of sweat; every hair on her body tingled as if alive. The air in the room moved in patterns, swirling around her, dancing across her skin, electrifying the air with its motion. She could see it. She could hear it! Her gaze floated across the room riding currents of air like a bird in flight, and her breath quickened again. The smashed shards of the clay cube lay on the floor against the far wall, the edges of each piece roughly grooved. Her body trembled. It rode up and down along every ridge, through every groove, along the smooth outer surface of every broken piece. She could almost taste the metallic bitterness of the glaze, and it unnerved her. She could see a pattern in her mind, an interconnected latticework that blazed before her eyes like a written sigil. Every broken piece was in the latticework; every broken piece was the latticework. It was almost throbbing with electricity.

“Arta? Did you hear me? Is the cube still . . . there?” Again, his voice was deliberate, but also touched with a sense of urgency. It was almost as if he was getting excited . . . or anxious.

Arta shook visibly, her body completely enveloped in a whirling cocoon of sensation, of energy twirling around her, a mosaic of motion and color, ecstasy. “Yes, I can feel it,” she said, a slight quiver in her voice.

“Is it one or is it many?”

Arta hesitated a moment as the sensations overwhelmed her. “It is one and it is many,” she said suddenly, certainty dripping from the words as they hung in the air.

The old Tageshiar nodded thoughtfully, rubbing his chin as he did. He stole a quick glance toward Arta’s parents, but then returned to her, leaning in close as he did. He spoke again, this time more softly, more tender almost. His words caressed Arta like strong hands, slowly bringing a sense of calm to the tumult she felt. She heard the echo in her mind like a chant.

“Rebuild it, Arta. Many are one and the one is true. Make it true.”

Andrew D. Devenney
Dublin, Ireland, 2004

© Andrew D. Devenney, 2007

Mental Exercise

Just so you know what in the hell is going on for the next few weeks …

Since I have finally finished writing my dissertation, I have a little mental brain power available for other crap. Sure, I still need to finish up French and do the defense and teach my classes and all that, but it’s the thought that counts. Literally.

So, what I’m going to be putting up on the blog are a few extemporaneous writings — what Warren Ellis would label “flash fiction” — that are short stories or moments caught in time or short vignettes or whatever I feel like. This is mostly for myself, to get the creative juices flowing in the brain after a long period of prolonged academic wankery. But that doesn’t mean you, my loyal audience of three, can’t see the weird depths of my brain.

I’m not going to set any kind of requirement, such as putting up one per day or something like that, because I would never keep to it. Let’s just go where the day takes me.

Of course, to go totally against the spirit of the exercise, the first one to go up will be something I wrote in 2004. At least this gives you some idea of what I’m thinking about doing.

Danger, danger! La défense de dissertation a retardé!

Mes amis,

It seems there will be a slight delay in the scheduling of my dissertation defense. Instead of the end of January, it is now scheduled for Monday, February 12, 2007 at 3:30 in Powers 121. No need to go into the reasons for this except to say it has nothing to do with me or my work … it’s just a scheduling issue for the committee members.

Que sera, sera, I say.

The Return of the Academic Jedi

Okay, so maybe that title is a bit too cheeky, but I’m feeling nostalgic.

Anyhoo, yes, my loyal denizens (that means you, mom), you are probably wondering why Andrew is too lazy to make new posts. I know your life has been cold and dark without me here to entertain you, but I’m sure you’ve managed just fine without me.

The delay in posting of course comes from, of all things, actually finishing my dissertation! Shock! Gasp!

I have a defense date! 29 January 2007. Time and location to be determined. Be there or be square.

Now back to work with me…

Writer’s Block?

Nothing fucking worse than dissertation writer’s block.

N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

It’s a special layer of pain and degradation in Dante’s literary Hell (he cut this one out of his final draft). It sits there and mocks you in a voice like that drunk chick on _Will and Grace_: “What’s a matter? Can’t remember that quote you want to put there to start off this section? Oh honey, you’re about as useful as a washer without a spin cycle.”

Pattern of writing so far:

1) Grab a bunch of random, but related primary sources culled from research year abroad, skim through them, and just write about them til something makes sense. Blast through a shitload of pages, making sure to write ‘peppy’ topic sentences for Advisor.

2) Grind to halt as you reach section a bit more esoteric, a bit less reliant on primary research, a bit more meta. Bang on laptop until fingers raw and The Boy is cowering in the corner from the froth at the corners of dada’s mouth. Lather, rinse, repeat, until the fucking section is done.

3) Grab more random, but related documents for a different chapter, fly through ten pages of a targeted 25 page chapter, pat self on back for mad skillz and progress.

4) Repeat step two. Glance nervously at spouse looming nearby to just “see how you’re doing”. Imagine tossing a book at her on the way out. Return to Hell.

5) Realize that you still need those damn pages from Hansards to finish this fucking chapter from Hell, but still haven’t driven down to MSU to get them because CMU’s library decided Hansards was a pointless series to continue receiving right around 1901!!! Blessedly note that gas is slightly cheaper, which is good because the extra money will go to copying.

6) In a moment of desperation, reread what you have totally. Realize it’s pretty good, all things considered. Go watch a rerun of ‘Celebrity Poker Showdown’ on Bravo. Realize you don’t know any of these celebrities except Apu from the ‘Simpsons’.

7) Return to the hanging quote in the section of chapter two that is still stumping you. Say fuck it, and go to bed.

This is not one night so much as a conglomeration of experiences in the recent past. This reminds me of thesis summer. At least my back isn’t broken like it was then. Imagine trying to write when you couldn’t sit down.