A Blue View (Poem)

So believe it or not, for #Blizzard2016, I was stressed but cozy in a Manhattan lawyers’ conference room, practicing a moot court argument. But in snapping a few pics on break (Instagram: TNW24!), I was so struck (literally and spiritually) by the historically epic levels of snow that I decided to semi-freewrite a little poem:

A blue view, double digits up.

The reflections of our inflections

float over the snow like ghosts, and

it’s haunting,

this icy twilight, when sirens fire down empty avenues,

flakes swirling so the fall and rise look alike

to tired eyes lifting a headache

past glass, under a flickering light

over a lavish table.

Delicate delicacies and canned heat, bottled water—

an anxious banquet by holed-up hosts,

mostly confident we’ll make it out of here safely at dark.

As our floor scrapes the sky, so sleet scrapes the streets

in sheets, defeating any chance of steady wi-fi

or an uneventful stroll to the ATM.

The air occluded, Arctic darkness

blows gridwise in cold lines,

a hazy maze that shakes structures and ruptures Saturday plans.

The windows across are white-swept cells, clotted with frost.

The lights are off, and nobody home—

A law firm’s a bunker when New York is Nome.

IMG_6119

Hope everybody else in the area stayed safe and warm!

“Haunted House Call”: A #NightmareForce Case File

It's just a scary story... what's the worst that could happen?

It’s just a scary story… what’s the worst that could happen?

Happy Halloween! It’s been a busier one than most for me–in-between prepping for tests, essays, and moot court competitions, I’ve scare-cly found time to even carve a Jack-o-Lantern since… ever? Now there’s a frightening thought!

Yet I still managed to utilize Spirit Halloween‘s generous two-day shipping discounts to assemble a costume. My choice: The Babadook, titular bogeyman of the 2014 Australian sleeper-hit horror flick (now streaming on Netflix!). The most critical element–stage makeup–couldn’t be ferried by plane for some probably-TSA-related reason (are the terrorists just raring to smuggle powdered explosives in canisters of Chaplin-esque grease paint?), but fortunately the local Spirit branch at Ithaca Mall pulled through. Add some black construction paper, and there you have it! Picture pending, as a terrifying laptop error recently prevented me from readily using the internet to its full potential from home, so I’m writing this from a campus computer (thank God for the Cloud!).

But onto the main attraction: As customary, I aim to provide a scary story every year for Halloween, even if it’s a matter of hours before November. Since the last story I even wrote was 2014’s Halloween tale (Pruritus,” which I’d link to here had I not removed it to curry favor with Sanitarium Magazine, which has still not responded to my September submission), I felt especially compelled to produce one for 2015–come hell, high water, or lesser academic obligations.

As such, I present another Nightmare Force “Case File.” When we last checked in with the Nightmare Force, they were (spoiler alert!) busting a child-snatching interdimensional parasite that took up residence in one of Cardinal University’s computer labs. In this installment, we learn a bit more about how they live and interact when they’re on–and off–the job. Where do “DEMONS” come from, and how can any human weapons stop them? What shocking secrets and talents does the rest of Aron’s team have? And just who really leads the Nightmare Force, and keeps their missions under wraps?

It all starts to reveal itself on Halloween night, when a sinister spirit comes calling on one average college kid who read the wrong email…

Guns. Ghosts. Gore. Graphics cards. Time to delete some evil.

Haunted House Call

– – –

[Source for the original creepypasta of La Muerta Blanca by someone else. In the world of Nightmare Force, the idea is that this story already exists online, though I tried to put a new twist on it for this adaptation. Also, I am the polar opposite of Angela and Rip when it comes to crunching numbers–you’ll know when I probably screwed up, but hopefully the scene’s purpose in the plot will still make sense.]

#BackToTheFuture, Blast from the Past: “UNTIL” (Time Travel Story)

Party like it's 1985.

Party like it’s 1985.

Happy Back to the Future Day! The Pepsi Perfect’s out of stock and I can’t afford a hoverboard, but I can always turn my pockets inside-out and enjoy an instant pizza (not crossing my fingers for the Cubs, though). Three cheers for a great sequel from a legendary franchise–I was born well after the BTTF trilogy concluded, but Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis’s ode to 80s cool and time-traveling whimsy remains an inspiration whenever I sit down to write a scifi story of my own.

So ever the opportunist, I figured this’d be a fitting occasion to journey back to 2013 and return with my lone time travel story (so far!): “UNTIL.” As a bonus for old and new fans alike (and since I’ve yet to figure out adding a search function for this blog), this version’s remastered to fix some typos and awkward diction. The surreal plot and more melancholy tone is still there, though, so be sure to undo those self-lacing Nikes and sit down for this one.

My inspiration for this story was simple: I’d seen plenty of tales of people getting into trouble meeting themselves in another timeline, but never lots of people traveling somewhen totally new. How many of us would have to make that journey before the trip itself changed the world? And if, as the saying goes, we’re all just moving into the future one second per second, what are our own lives but helping the next generation travel through time?

To find out, you’ll just have to wait…

UNTIL

Arcosanti - Artist Vision

[Image Source]

Open Heart and Mic — “What the Future” [Poem]

Happy Easter! Or at least it’s around the bend… with the start of Spring has come a few more sunny days, but that Ithaca snow’s still not leaving without a fight. Regardless of the temperature, though, a moderate amount has occurred in my life lately: work for The Gibson Law Firm and Cornell Law Review has progressed slowly but surely–in the former, there’s already been success with some mass dismissals of charges against the defendants! Also, it’s my Spring Break now, and while I gotta TCB on the aforementioned academic and professional obligations while others party hard closer to the equator, I’m also in NYC this week looking into some promising legal internship opportunities in Manhattan.

On a more personal note, the last week or two saw a myriad of minor realizations and revelations–difficult to articulate but safely distilled to “growing up”–complete their boot-up process after spinning a loading icon around my mind for months. So while I still have my neurotic and introverted tendencies, I’ve been feeling bolder lately: Since my last post, I’ve also become the 3L Representative for the Briggs Society of International Law, Sustainability Co-Chair for the Environmental Law Society, and gotten serious about helping organize a week of events to raise awareness of the importance of public defenders as the Cornell Advocates for Human Rights‘ incumbent VP. On a lesser note, I’ve jostled my admittedly knee-jerk contrarian attitude toward some modern pastimes: I established a Reddit profile, started doing Instagram, and even bit the bullet with Tinder (swipe right for White!). Call it petty, but don’t call it quarter-life crisis–nothing ventured, nothing gained!

But finally, on March 19th, I performed at a law school open mic hosted by The Nines in Cornell Collegetown. Fortuitously, schedule-jumbling by the powers-that-were made me the headlining act! (although lack of prep time and the general late-night hyped-up vibe meant bailing on a tentative cover of “Such Great Heights” alongside the school’s resident guitar prodigy) Here’s a confirmed sighting of me delivering some verses atop a makeshift pooltable-adjacent stand:

All the bar's a stage...

       All the bar’s a stage…

A far cry from my quick ‘n ballistic “rap” circa 2014, this poem was one I’d foregone at the most recent Public Interest Law Union Cabaret, as I’d worried it’d kill the mood–and while such doubts still plagued me leading up to the open mic, I eventually decided (1) There was no sense in passing up a chance to share my work with a captive audience and (2) my classmates were obviously going to be chill about it. Indeed, while some syllables were lost between my irrepressibly speedy cadence and the gabby crowd, I got a solid round of applause and a few personal compliments thereafter! I’d shared the work in close circles before, but it felt good to express it to a comparatively unfamiliar crowd.

So in the seasonal spirit of rebirth, rejuvenation, and the starting of cycles anew, I present the poem in question. I actually wrote this last December, and aside from a few changes after the fact for flow, the deadline was fast and deliberate–as some people write detailed diary entries, paint furious blasts of abstract art, or are Chris Martin, I had a very specific set of feelings and images to get out of my system in one coherent, crystallized form when I wrote this, and the New Year was as good a cut-off as any. Think of it as an emotional time capsule, unearthed in pursuit of perspective.

People who know me will know what this is about, and people who it’s about no longer know me, so let’s just say it’s the story of a question in three words:

What the Future

#TBT: THROWBACK THESIS (“The Digital Campfire: Interactive Horror Storytelling and Web 2.0”)

I don't know, I got bored once.

“Ben Drowned” fan “art.” I got bored once.

Happy March! So things have been picking up in the last few weeks, relatively speaking: I’m a Managing Editor on the Cornell Law Review now, I got a part-time Spring internship offer from a local firm helping represent protesters in the fight to keep petrol storage out of Seneca Lake, and I’m in talks with a Ph.D from the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute to possibly do some research and legal writing on proposed international legal regulations for handling emergent AI in an increasingly internet-dependent world. That, and the snow’s starting to melt around here in Ithaca!

All told, though, that means I’m definitely pretty busy, so I’ll cut to the chase: in the spirit of not having inordinately large update gaps on this purportedly professional portfolio-ish blog anymore–as well as throwing a quick bone to the “on Wednesdays we wear pink”-esque trend that is #ThrowbackThursday–I present to you my thesis paper from my senior year in the University of Washington‘s Honors English program, circa 2013.

Consummate geek that I was/am, while others were analyzing T.S. Eliot or non-heteronormative narratives in Latin American fiction, I wrote about… creepypasta. Well, not just creepypasta–I dove into how the modern internet has allowed the time-honored ritual of collaborative fiction to partner with interactive fiction as well, particularly in the case of the bite-sized “this really happened!” horror stories we all know and love to read in minimal lighting. I explain how The SCP FoundationSlender Man, and “Ben Drowned” each utilize(d) wikis and/or social media in similar but unique ways to present engaging, believable horror stories, then briefly discuss where and why Hollywood has succeeded or failed to capture this magic for “mainstream” appeal with films like Cloverfield and The Devil Inside.

So draw the shades, open a couple more browser windows, microwave a s’more if you want, and follow along as I analyze the thrills and chills of sitting down in front of…

The Digital Campfire
Interactive Horror Storytelling and Web 2.0

[A brief “P.S”: I initially considered shopping this around to relevant academic journals after I wrote it, but the plan got away from me and before I knew it I was writing legal notes instead! Part of me thinks this piece is best at home free on the internet anyway, like its subject matter; I have no idea whether putting it on my dinky WordPress blog puts me out of the running for a print journal picking up a variation on it some day, but at this point I just want to share the work and see what you folks think. With that “time capsule” quality in mind (and like I said, #TBT), I’ve done very minimal editing–mainly just new spaces between sections for clarity and a few egregious typos fixed, including the time I spelled “Doctor Who” as “Dr. Who.” As such, some details will be a tad outdated–most prominently, Marble Hornets finally wrapped up (with a polarizing ending), and I’m psyched for the SCP Foundation movie!]

BACK IN BLACK AND/OR PINK – Valentine’s Up-Date

Happy Valentine’s Day! In my regrettable absence (full disclosure: no real reason, I just got busy and then Christmas Break happened/was pretty great), the rest of 2014 and the start of 2015 came and went without much in the way of remarkable developments–I made it through another semester at Cornell Law School with a modest cumulative 3.4 GPA and am preparing to advance to a higher editor position on the Cornell Law Review, but progress on my novel, “There’s Something Wrong with the Neighbor’s Cat” (link goes to pretty darn outdated character profiles) has been drip feed-esque at best, and the hunt for some manner of fulfilling legal work over the summer continues. Also, I’m trying to build a PC–parts so far include the processor, monitor, about twenty new Steam games, and this reasonably baller case:

It's on like TRON.

It’s on like TRON.

So since the only thing piling up more than sparkly, Solo cup-studded snow over here in Ithaca, NY is academic obligations, I’ll be brief in circling back around to that first joyful lead-in: It’s February 14th! Short story shorter, I’m still single, but if I wanted to straight bemoan the fact I’d send you a link to my Tumblr. Instead, in a bit of a “less is more” combo, I’ve got a pair of poems produced under varying circumstances. The first is another semiautobiographical magnetic poetry quickie I assembled while in the good ol’ “waiting room” at the UW’s English Department in the recesses of Padelford Hall while back home for the holidays. I don’t really name these ones, but I guess “What Boy” is as good a title as any:

What Boy

The second poem is one I actually wrote about a year ago, not coincidentally close to this time of the month. I didn’t share it initially because, to be honest, it’s pretty dang rough, schmaltzy, and was initially typed as “prose” on a lark describing the subject to a friend in a late-night Facebook message. I gave it and the reasons behind it some time to cool off, though, and figured today that it couldn’t hurt to toss it up again in light of the season, if only as something of an emotional time capsule–in any case, it’s vague enough that I’d like to think folks with a quirky, geeky sense of romance can relate to it (and I doubt those are in short supply on the internet!) , whether in a relationship or not. So again, just think of it as bittersweet “pop poetry,” and enjoy reading about a feeling that’s…

Hard to Describe

Pruritus [HALLOWEEN STORY]

https://www.sciencenews.org/sites/default/files/main/blogposts/Itch_free.jpg

It’s just an itch.

I’m back! And just in time for Halloween, because for the first time since 2011, I decided to get something out on the internet in time for the holiday that’s spookier than last-minute emailing a graded college assignment. Yes, Cornell Law School can be a literal and figurative trial, but I’ve kept you all waiting too long for something new to read on this blog, and “you” includes myself, swamped grad student schedule and all.

So without further ado (because even if you read this on Halloween night, I’m sure you’re doing so through an attention deficit haze of Fun Size Snickers bars and/or vodka–not that there’s anything wrong with that!), I give you Pruritus, a short experimental-ish horror story based on little bits of random creepypastas, me finally catching up on The X-Files, one of those lingering “what if?” hooks rattling around in my brain, and an attempt to finally see if meshing law and weird fiction is all my ambivalent John Grisham-topping ambitions have cracked it up to be.

So turn out the lights, keep your attorney’s number close, and don’t worry about that tingling feeling that keeps coming back whenever you scratch beneath your costume–this is

Pruritus

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