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Contents

RKYV Online # 18, November 2008

Editorial Column—“At the Outset:” A Few Thoughts from the Editor by R. J. Paré

Health Column—“Murdoch’s Medical Missives” by Christina Marchetti

World View—“A Canadian Living in the USA” by Tom Rossini

Featured Artist Review—Roger Formidble by Josh Bowe & R. J. Paré

Short Fiction Southpaw Smith by Scott Claringbold Poetry by R. J. Paré, Stephen Campbell

Interior Art

p ieces by R. J. Paré, Stephen White, Roger Formidable, Mohammed Abdullah, Holly Jewell, Sean Liska, Ron Brown, Atula Siriwardane, Giorgos Tsopanos, John H. Drew Jr., Kalinda Higgs, Matthew Hatt, Engin Korkmaz, Dave Simons

Writer’s Column Creation in our World by Larissa Gula Short Fiction Tristan by Jim Gibson Pop Culture Comic Book Review by Brad Bellmore Raised On Saturday morning Cartoons by Pauline Paré

RKYV Online Logo David Marshall (current) Roy G. James (original) R. J. Paré (original online adaptation)

Virtual Cover # 18 Art by Roger Formidable Layouts by David Marshall


RKYV Online November 2008

A t

t h e

O u t s e t

A Few Thoughts from the Editor by R. J. Paré

“We’ve been through this, such a long, long time…” * November 2008, the year winds down and I sit here at my keyboard preparing another issue of RKYV ONLINE. The promise of another fall season gives way to the advent of another holiday period and the end of year hustle. Each and every fall is always filled with wonder and excitement… the kids return to school – new teachers, friends and lessons. The networks launch new TV shows and everywhere you look colours explode. Halloween and its annual orgy of movies, books and sugar rushes drains the last vestiges of this collective optimistic spirit from us and leaves us empty for the start of a winter we always feel ill-prepared for. November turns… the beauty of fall is supplanted with the grey of coming winter... not the blissful white of snowmen and ski slopes… that is still a couple months away… rather the barren dead zone of skeleton trees and chill winds. This month lends itself to introspection. Faced with the pressures of projects unfinished and the insanity of holiday shopping – we often forget to breathe. Take stock of the things you are proud of and the people you love and let these pressures go. There’s really no need in driving ourselves nuts and decking someone in the mall, just for taking that parking space. I’d love to give that advice to network execs as November is the month they succumb to the pressure of high expectations and proceed to pull the plug on many shows – regardless of the creativity of the producers and performers… ratings = profits and the almighty buck reigns as surely in the boardrooms as it does at the checkout register. If you’re looking for what gems are still available to watch, either broadcast or collected on DVD, than look no further than this month’s pop culture section as Pauline Paré points us in the direction of some much needed escapism. This month’s RKYV also provides me with the pleasure of featuring the work of a talented artist [one whom I am lucky to collaborate with – more on that in the future]: Roger Formidable. This talented vector artist is another fine example of the incredibly versatile and creative individuals who participate in this magazine and I hope you find his work as interesting and engaging as I do. To see more of Roger’s work, his Stock Illustrations are available at: http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery.mhtml?id=224071 Christina Marchetti [Bellaire] returns this months with a new installment of her health advice… with the season of excess approaching – heed her words. As always RKYV delivers its eclectic mix of opinion, art and creative writing. Fiction and non-fiction alike are presented in a [hopefully] entertaining manner that can lift grey veil of this month and let in a little light.

“‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever And we both know hearts can change And it’s hard to hold a candle In the cold November rain” *November Rain – Guns N’ Roses - 1991

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RKYV Online November 2008

HEY KIDS! Cut out this awesome art and put it on your wall, fridge or pet!

Halloween Card by Dave Simons

Doing it from beginning to end working it out by John H. Drew Jr.

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RKYV Online November 2008

H e a l t h

Murdoch’s Medical Missives by Christina Marchetti

Hey there folks, greetings from your long lost health columnist. Yes, I am still here, but my household has been crazy busy of late and some things just get missed. Well, the holidays are upon us and with that so is everybody’s (almost everybody’s) favourite thing to do - partying. You’ve all seen the ads, heard the commercials, don’t drink and drive it could kill you. But besides your drunken state, there are a couple of other things that alcohol causes, 1) dehydration and 2) it acts as a blood thinner. Your kidneys have to work overtime to get rid of the alcohol in your system. Along with the alcohol, of course, goes water and with that the vital salts (potassium, sodium) that your body needs in order to function. A multiple day drunk (yes, I’ve seen it), could put you in the hospital in a critical care unit, replacing the minerals your body needs in order to survive. For those of you who have diabetes, said drunk could drop your sugar levels dangerously low, and you all know what that means. Days of playing with sugar and insulin drips, trying to get you reregulated. Alcohol also acts as a blood thinner. This leaves people at increased risks for G.I. bleeds (bleeding in the stomach or intestinal tract), especially if you already have an ulcer to boot. Your chances of bleeding are even greater if you are on blood thinners, and it can and will throw lab results off. And yes ladies, it even has the potential to make the monthly menace heavier. That little bump that you got on your head when you slipped on the ice now has the potential to become a severe head injury due to bleeding in the head. And nobody is ever the exact same once they recover from such an injury. Nobody is saying not to enjoy your self. All we ask is that you do it responsibly. Designate a driver. Eat some munchies while you have your drink, and please do try to drink to a minimum. Don’t get me wrong, I would dearly love to meet some of you folks, but not as a patient on a neurosurgical unit. It is a hell of a way to meet your friends and neighbours. Everybody have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

* Ads are intended to be humourous.

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RKYV Online November 2008

W o r l d

V i e w

A Canadian Living in the USA by Tom Rossini

[Editor’s Note: This month, Tom, being the sensitive and non – sexist man that he is… shares with us some insight into the modern woman, that he found over the internet… oh brother, ladies please address all complaints to Mr. Rossini]

Why Women Are Crabby by Anonymous “Lady”

Why Women Are Crabby by Anonymous “Lady”

We started to ‘bud’ in our blouses at 9 or 10 years old only to find that anything that came in contact with those tender, blooming buds hurt so bad it brought us to tears. So came the ridiculously uncomfortable training bra contraption that the boys in school would snap until we had calluses on our backs.

After that, it was time to raise those angels only to find that when all that ‘cute’ wears off, the beautiful little darlings morphed into walking, jabbering, wet, gooey, snot-blowing, life-sucking little poop machines. Then, come, their ‘Teen Years.’ Need I say more?

Next, we get our periods in our early to mid-teens (or sooner). Along with those budding boobs, we bloated, we cramped, we got the hormone crankies, had to wear little mattresses between our legs or insert tubular, packed cotton rods in places we didn’t even know we had. Our next little rite of passage was having sex for the first time which was about as much fun as having a ramrod push your uterus through your nostrils (IF he did it right and didn’t end up with his little cart before his horse), leaving us to wonder what all the fuss was about. Then it was off to Motherhood where we learned to live on dry crackers and water for a few months so we didn’t spend the entire day leaning over Brother John . Of course, amazing creatures that we are (and we are), we learned to live with the growing little angels inside us steadily kicking our innards night and day making us wonder if we were preparing to have Rosemary’s Baby. Our once flat bellies looked like we swallowed a whole watermelon and we pee’d our pants every time we sneezed. When the big moment arrived, the dam in our blessed Nether Regions invariably burst right in the middle of the mall and we had to waddle, with our big cartoon feet, moaning in pain all the way to the ER. Then it was huff and puff and beg to die while the OB ?says, ‘Please stop screaming, Mrs. Hear-meroar . Calm down and push. ‘Just one more good push’ (more like 10), warranting a strong, welldeserved impulse to punch the %$#*@*#!* hubby and doctor square in the nose for making us cram a wiggling, mushroom-headed 10 pound bowling ball through a keyhole.

When the kids are almost grown, we women hit our voracious sexual prime in our early 40’s - while hubby had his somewhere around his 18th birthday. So we progress into the grand finale: ‘The Menopause’, the Grandmother of all womanhood. It’s either, take HRT and chance cancer in those now seasoned ‘buds’ or the aforementioned Nether Regions, or, sweat like a hog in July, wash your sheets and pillowcases daily and bite the head off anything that moves. Now, you ask WHY women seem to be more spiteful than men, when men get off so easy, INCLUDING the icing on life’s cake: Being able to pee in the woods without soaking their socks... So, while I love being a woman, ‘Womanhood’ would make the Great Gandhi a tad crabby. You think women are the ‘weaker sex’? Yeah right. Bite me Tom’s reaction:

[Editor’s Note: now that he has gotten that out of his system, Tom begins a new feature this month with some travel advice/news]

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Winter Travel… The leaves have change colours and many have fallen to the ground. A few northern climates have even experienced their first snowfall of the season. This can only mean one thing. Winter is upon us – the chill is in the air, the smell of apple cider, the plans for Christmas and New Years are beginning and for the Americans, planning for their Thanksgiving are taking place. But it is at this time that year that we need to also think about our winter travel plans. Due to the recent shake up in the US and Canadian economy as well as the high gas prices; the thoughts of winter travel by many has become fantasy. But what is amazing is that this does not have to be the case. I subscribe to many travel sites and constantly receive updates on discounted vacations. Many planes this winter are not able to be filled, many cruise ships are no where near capacity and many all inclusive resorts have not even come close to selling out. Current deals include a 4 night Cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line in Feb 2008 for 4 days at $199 per person. Or how about a trip to the Dominican Republic – Puerto Plata $1700 for 2 people at a 3 star all inclusive resort and this includes airfare from Toronto. If the Caribbean is not your fancy how about going anywhere you want to go by using www.Priceline.com and bid on your airfare resort. You can see what deals people are getting on biddingfortravel. com This message board website lists what people have bid on and if they won or loss for certain dates and destinations. There are reports of $49 night stays at the Marriott Stellaris Casino in San Juan Puerto Rico – a 5 star property. How about airfare to St Thomas USVI… for only $62 per person? Maybe you want to go to Disneyworld in Florida – rooms off property go as low as $40 a night and if you want to stay on a Disney property you can spend anywhere from $90 a night to over $3500 a night. Now I know many people are concerned about flying and well there are many destinations near you that can offer a wonderful holiday experience as well. You could drive to New York – and with the current price of gas, this could be a very affordable option especially if you have 3 or more in your family. Or if you want a nice time at a ski resort, you could drive up to Sault Ste Marie, Ont. Chicago is also a lovely place to go as is Nashville, Tennessee. Pack up the family, jump in the car and drive. You could be lucky and spend only $100 on gas and $ 50 a night on a hotel that could offer continental breakfasts just by bidding on priceline.com. A seven night deal could only cost $400 not including your food or excursions. If you need help in figuring all this out, I am only an email away and would be happy to assist you in your fight for a wonderful and inexpensive vacation. I have travelled all over Canada, the USA, and the Caribbean. Although I am not a travel agent, I would be happy to help you find a reliable one. Send me a message on FaceBook.

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RKYV Online November 2008

Featured Artist Review

Roger Formidable! by Josh Bowe & R. J. ParĂŠ

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RKYV Online November 2008

R. J. Paré: Have you always known that you wanted to be or, rather, were an artist?

He suggested I give it up, and try janitorial work instead (not kidding)...

Roger Formidable: I don’t consider myself an artist. Artists have concepts and design skills, and understand art - I don’t. I’m an illustrator; I draw singular objects, a lot of stock work, as well as portraits and logos…

He also suggested I don’t apply to art college and chose not to endorse my portfolio, coz as he put it ‘you just don’t have the abilities or talent to even pick up a paint brush, you’d be wasting the instructors time and your parent’s money’

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fireman, pilot, tire salesman, Roger Whittaker or Benny Hill - just like any other kid, I guess…

Those are words I’ll remember till the day I die, or until senility kicks in (which should be soon). I actually egged his car severely after that for about 3 weeks straight.

RJP: Did you study or major in art while in school? RF: I took art for 4 years in high school, barely passed. I actually failed with a 31% in grade 12… I didn’t get along with the art teacher at all, coz I had differences of opinions with him - about what he and I considered ‘art’ and how to execute it…

I then went to St. Clair College for 2 years of commercial art/graphic design, graduated and gave it up for 15 years to work in the metal stamping factory industry… After I got accepted at college, I went back to my high school art teacher with my portfolio and some of the work I had done for classes, gave him the finger to his face and told him some choice words… I was then asked to leave the high school and never return, while I was rapidly ushered out by the principal and head guidance councilor... Gesolent Day Logo (vector illustration done in

Illustrator, 2007)

Josh Bowe: I’m not at all aware of the background of this logo, but I’m guessing from the colours and image content this is a Graphic Novel/ Comic affiliation? Nice use of line and symmetry, like “Recording” not an overstated image. The profile portrait is wonderfully summarized in a minimum of lines. Roger Formidible: This was originally used for my music solo project; I’ve now adapted this for my own personal logo...

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RJP: Who was your biggest influence or source of encouragement, as a child, in pursuing art? RF: I didn’t really have one. I think it’s probably coz I sucked at sports and was very introverted… so I stuck to drawing and playing music. RJP: What is your favorite media to work with? RF: Adobe Illustrator… digital vector program. RJP: Do you use any special tools and techniques to create your art? RF: I’m a vectorist, so I use Adobe Illustrator exclusively; I also use Photoshop for digital painting. I’ve got a 4x6 Wacom tablet (digital pen) that I draw with for almost everything… If I’m painting with actual, non digital media, I like using a mixture of gouache and coloured pencil, coz I can blend them both together to create shading and smoothness. I particularly like gouache coz it can be laid on thick like oils or thin like watercolour. I don’t paint anymore though, coz I’ve got pretty bad arthritis in my wrist, so making a straight line is a chore... RJP: What inspires you to create art? RF: Lack of sleep usually… I don’t really sleep very solid or for very long times, so I’ll wake up with an idea in my head and go from there. That, and coz I know I can make some decent money from it. RJP: How would you categorize your artistic style? RF: I wouldn’t really categorize it – it is vector illustration, but simplistic vector… I don’t really know if I there’s a category or style to it. It’s ‘my style’ I guess. I’m not out to emulate anybody else, so if my work looks like somebody else’s, it’s purely coincidental… I like those washed out looking adverts from the 60’s and 70’s... You know, where the colours are pale and graying, coz it was printed on cheap newsprint? If I’m doing digital painting, I like those airbrushed pictures on Trans-Ams and vans from 1976… There was a guy named Ivan Benic back in my home town of Windsor, who used to do a lot of airbrushing on cars (mostly skimpily clad women and dragons). I’d hang out at his shop on weekends sometimes and just watch him drink, get stoned and work…. Maybe all that inspired me…

Girl Holding Giant Pinball (gouache/coloured pencil on art-board, original painting approx. 11 x 24”, 1992) JB: A very Klimt element to this piece.[Editor’s Note: Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian Symbolist painter] Unfortunately the colours are rather flattening, due mostly to the over use of light blue in the portrait, dress and “Giant Pinball”. R. J. Paré: The sexual subtext of this piece speaks once again to the artist’s recurring themes of the male/female sexual dynamic and roles. In this instance – not some cheap thrill to ogle… no this high maintenance lady seems to have the advantage… his shiny ball in her hand – so to speak.

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Theory of Everything (drawn and painted in Photoshop and Illustrator, 2003/2004) JB: I like the feeling of chaos to the piece, which is always a contingent lurking in a “Theory” somewhere. Not sure about the “Theory of Everything” type on the wall, is this not what they’re looking for with the LHC? I think this piece would definitely be better without writing it so blatantly on the piece itself; surely a “Theory of Everything” should have an elusive quality in art? RF: This was an album cover for a band. RJP: Presented in a manner resembling collage [while not being collage]… itself a medium that makes use of “everything” - the piece thus uses the mixture of images to invoke the sense that the parts can be greater than the whole… an inverse of prevailing wisdom - while at the same time perhaps commenting on the medium unused? RJP: Would you say that there is a “message” or “unifying theme” in your work? RF: Not really a message, but I like drawing females. I’m in awe of the female body - it’s Valhalla and perfection at it’s finest. Doesn’t matter what size or shape… I think it’s the delicacy, streamlining and hairlessness that males don’t have, that appeal to me with females in general… RJP: Which famous artists or styles have influenced you? Why? RF: When I was painting, I suppose I was sort of influenced by: Salvador Dali (Surrealism, Photorealism), Storm Thorgerson (Pink Floyd, illustrator/graphic designer, artwork Surrealism, Photorealism), Norman Rockwell (Every-day-ism. Photorealism), Alberto Vargas (Women. Photorealism), Roger Dean (Yes, Asia etc. artwork - Surrealism, Photorealism), Roger Tory Peterson (nature, particularly birds, illustrator Photorealism)

I guess the pattern is ‘surrealism and photorealism’… I suppose I’m simple. If I see something and know what it is, I like it better than looking at some boxes or cubes thrown together on a canvas where I have to stand back 34 feet and try to figure out what’s going on… If you asked me why Norman Rockwell drew a picture of a child on a tricycle and what was he trying to say? I’d tell you “it’s a kid on a tricycle and he’s trying to say, it’s a kid on tricycle…” If you asked me why Picasso drew a lot of squares, ½ a woman’s head, an eye on the other side of the canvas, and something that resembles a guitar? I’d tell you “coz he was a drunken, drug addict and had mental issues.”

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Sunny Side Up (digital painting done in Photoshop, 2004) JB: There appears to be a sense of irony to this piece, in the sense that the egg white is in a somewhat worse state than the “Sunny Side Up”. Nice definition of surface detail, although the yolk seems to be a little over doctored? RF: took some mushrooms, got hungry and decided to draw eggs in a pan…

With vectors, I’m more influenced by: Stan Lee, John Buscema (Marvel Comics)

RF: Story of my life. If you didn’t call them ‘starving artists’, would people really appreciate art as much as they do?

I like their uses of light and shadow and simple flat tone colouring... They can set a mood with 2 strokes of a pen and some red ink.

RJP: Do you feel more a sense of community with other artists or a sense of competition?

Also, Nameless cell artists… background illustrators for cartoons such as ‘Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, Scooby Doo, Ren & Stimpy, Futurama, King of the Hill etc.

RF: Neither. This is to say, I can’t go to an art gallery or exhibition and actually stay interested in it, or get captivated by it… It just doesn’t appeal to me. I can’t really explain why, but I’m just not interested in art or art history.

I watch the cartoon channel a lot. Not for the shows, but to look at the backgrounds…

I work in a competitive market, but I’m happy that there is competition, coz it pushes me to work faster and better. Without competition, it would be pretty boring, I think…

RJP: If you could meet any living or dead artist, who would it be? RF: Storm Thorgerson RJP: What is the one question that you would ask him/her? RF: What kind of drugs is he on, and does he have extra? Seriously though…..where does he come up with all this stuff? It’s brilliant! RJP: What do you think of the term “starving artist”?

RJP: How do you market yourself? RF: I whore my work out on websites, e.g. Facebook and interviews… I also surf the internet a lot and look for websites that I think I can do better with, and send them emails and links to my stock gallery… and previously my Deviant Art gallery (which I’ve since taken down). Maybe that’s a bit presumptuous or arrogant, but I’ve gotten a lot of decent, repeat contracts out of that, as well as a lot of other work… I also do stock illustration, and vector portraits… http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery.mhtml?id=224071

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Roller G. (gouache/coloured pencil

on illustration board, 1992)

RJP: A disturbingly sexual piece. As artistic a representation of objectifying the steno-pool as one might find. Roger may claim to be “just” an illustrator… but this piece clearly shows the ability to use the language of surreal representation to create something that makes statements perhaps even the artist is unaware of. The parts of this woman that men find appealing are rendered in a realistically provocative fashion and yet the parts that make her a person… the ability to walk; to touch; to speak her mind… these have been replaced with inanimate fobs… wooden or rubber attachments one would find in use as a part of furniture. This speaks perhaps, to a misogyny, inherent in the male perspective towards the opposite sex.

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RJP: Do you find it difficult to stay motivated / inspired? RF: Yes and no. Since I do this full time, I get bored and tired sometimes of just sitting here at the ‘puter 18 hours a day. It’s not that I don’t enjoy drawing, but after a while, I run out of things to draw and need a break, and my hands start to hurt… Sometimes if I have a lot of contracts I’m working on at the time, I get unmotivated, and stressed out, coz I’m just too busy. But, then again, when I see a nice, shiny, check in my bank account, my motivation goes up... RJP: Do you create your art full time or part time? RF: Full time since 2005 RJP: What other interests do you have, besides art?

RF: Music: composing, writing, synth programming, audio recording, producing… I also collect vintage synths and keyboards… As well as being able to play the opening bars of ‘The Simpsons” theme song on any instrument I pick up... (As of 2 weeks ago, I’m at 25 different instruments. the last one being a harmonium) I used to play in bands for years, but I’m retired from the live scene now and just prefer to concentrate on studio work... I also like cooking extravagant 5 course meals a lot... for guests, girlfriends etc. But, if I’m just cooking for myself, I’ll boil some hotdogs and garnish with a bag of Doritos and a beer. I’m generally a recluse, and I’m not very outdoorsy, but I do like riding my bike for a few hours a night or very early mornings, during summer especially…

Stealth

(vector illustration done in Illustrator, some texturing done in Photoshop, original poster measures approx. 11 x 17’, 2006/2007)

JB: This image competently conveys an F-117 Stealth Bomber/Fighter. Some background may have made this image more enticing, and given a sense of context. RF: This was a commissioned artwork.

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RJP: What advice would you have for a young artist starting out today? RF: 1. Don’t’ get frustrated, especially if you want to learn to use digital imaging software. It’s not always easy the first few times around. Lots of good, potential illustrators give up, coz they can’t figure out how to use the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator within 20 minutes… Yeah, it’s hard; it was a bitch for me as well… I actually uninstalled the program for 8 months until I decided to try it again. I swore a lot while learning. It also took me 2 hours to find the ‘circle’ tool (apparently, you have to actually pull the circle tool out of the pull out menu, coz the default shape is a square). I thought my copy of Illustrator was broken… 2. Do what you want to do and not what society dictates. Just because people like Andy Warhol, it doesn’t mean that his work was good (there’s no need to copy him). People are sheep… they’ll buy anything. He realized that and capitalized on it. Sell people what they don’t want. They’ll love you for it later... RJP: Do you have any big plans or shows coming up in 2008?

Little Miss Muffet

(line work drawn in illustrator, digital paint in photoshop, original poster measures approx. 11 x 17”, 2007)

JB: Are the birds singing this tune, I’m not quite sure how they’re concerned in the verse? There is a bit more depth in this piece and diligence with colour, although some altering in tone/hue of the shade of green used from foreground to background may help the image. RF: This was commission artwork for a child’s room...

RF: I’ve got a few large contracts coming up, and some that I’m working on right now… I’d like to get around to working back on the When Heroes Were artwork (once the inking and penciling is done) so that gets finished and sent to the publisher… [Editor’s Note: WHW is a graphic novel in development through Speakeasy Primates] I’ll also be illustrating a children’s poem/short story book. I also want to try to keep up with my stock gallery, coz it’s doing exceptionally well… In the coming months, I’m also thinking about investing in a bakery/coffee shop as a silent partner… We’ll see how that goes. I have to research all the avenues, pros/cons first before I make a decision. I’m not much of a gambler, I guess…

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RKYV Online Recording Studio Websplatter

November 2008

(vector illustration done in Illustrator, 2007)

JB: Definitely the most conversant piece, nice 50’s chrome metal finish to the radio, but without overstating, gives the piece a nice sense of period. RF: splash page for my recording studio ‘radio one radio 2’ that I’ll never finish, coz I don’t have time to...

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RKYV Online RJP: How would you like your art, and by extension yourself, to be remembered?

November 2008

RF: Realistically, I don’t think I have any memorable work… So I’m good with just being remembered as a smartass who doesn’t shut up and likes to make people laugh... It makes for better drinking conversation.

Woman Screaming in Fright at a 3-D Movie (vector illustration done in Illustrator, 2008)

JB: Are the colours correct for the 3-D specs, I thought it was green and red? This piece is commendable in its technical application, although I am lost to the context. [Editor’s Note: the title really says it all]

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Untitled

by Atula Siriwardane

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RKYV Online November 2008

Untitled

by John H. Drew Jr.

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Short Fiction

RKYV Online November 2008

i t m h S w a p h t u o S by Scott Claringbold

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For my son Bailey

Part One:

Roxxi stood on her tip toes and kissed him gently on the cheek. “So when will I see you again Loverboy?” “Well the crim’s don’t usually work in shifts Tracy love.” Roxxi punched him playfully on the arm. “Hey! Don’t call me that in public, I’ve told you its Roxxi.” “But we’re not in public.” Jack replied. “No? Well look at him, across the road, copping an eyeful.” At that Jack turned to see one of his neighbours lowering his head and hurrying past. Jack walked down the path to his car, hearing Roxxi call out “Well I’m off to Paris on Thursday Smiffy so it better be before then.” “I’ll see what I can do princess.” He shouted back. Roxxi adjusted her nightie, gave a shake of her chest and closed the front door. An hour later and Detective Jack Smith was sitting in his car watching the flats across the street. He bit into his bacon sandwich and observed the two men lurking nearby. One wasn’t your typical dealer, smart suit, coiffed hair and designer accessories. The other man however was most certainly a junkie, furtive, pallid complexion and dressed like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. The men entered one of the flats. Jack picked up his radio. “This is Tango-Whisky-Seven, suspects are on site, I repeat, the suspects are on site.” “Roger that Tango-Whisky-Seven, sit tight, back up is on it’s way.” The radio squawked in reply.

quick sweep of the room but the other suspect was nowhere to be seen. He bent towards the figure on the floor. Suddenly he was aware of someone behind him. He felt the needle plunge into his neck and the world spun crazily sideways. “Wrong place to be mister policeman” The voice whispered in to his ear. Jack made a grab for the assailant but couldn’t get his fingers to work. He stumbled and fell to his knees. “Who…?” “No one to concern you… In about ten seconds you’ll lose control of all your bodily functions.” Smith began to spasm, foam dripping from his mouth. A puddle appeared under him and he knew that it was urine but he couldn’t feel it trickling down his leg. Jack crashed to the floor. He watched the smart black loafers turn and walk away. He failed miserably to regain his composure as the darkness consumed him. 3 months later. Jack could hear the voices but he couldn’t make out who they belonged to just yet. His head throbbed and his throat felt like sandpaper. He hadn’t quite remembered how to open his eyes yet but he was sure that would come back to him sometime soon. He tried to talk but spluttered and coughed instead. “Oh my God, Jack!”

“I can handle it, there’s only two….” “Repeat, sit tight, back…..” Jack thumbed the off switch. “Tossers!” He removed his gun from its holster, not exactly standard issue for a Metropolitan cop, climbed out of the car and headed over to the flat. Counting to three Jack raised his size ten boot and kicked the door in. “Police, stay where you are…” The flat was dark, all the windows sealed. Jack stopped, his gun raised. There were no sounds. He moved to the living room and nudged the door open gently with his foot. Jack saw the junkie slumped on the floor his back propped up against the sofa. “Don’t move arse-hole!” Jack spat but even as he said it he knew the man wasn’t going to be moving again any time soon. Smith made a

Jack opened his eyes, he couldn’t focus but there was no mistaking that voice, Roxxi! Roxxi grasped his hand. “Terry, call for the doctor.” Top-shelf Terry was here then. Top-shelf and Jack had attended the boxing academy together; it was Terry who had christened Jack ‘Southpaw’ because of his devastating left hook. Terry had always been tall, at least six feet six inches. Always came in handy when as teenagers the boys had wanted ‘girlie’ magazines. Terry came back in with another man. Jack tried to sit up; he felt a hand firmly, but gently, push him back. “What….?” “You were brought in three months ago, the police found you in a flat, about ten minutes after you called in.”

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“Three... months…?” Jack managed.

“Spooks” he thought “MI5 or 6?”

“You had a lucky escape Mister Smith, you were injected with some chemical that shut down your body. It looks like it’s purged from your system now though.” Doctor Choudhury reassured.

He wondered what Choudhury would have in common with national security types. Jack was about to shout over when he heard a sharp ‘CLUNK’. Instantly he knew the sound was a silencer! Choudhury clutched at his stomach as a dark wet patch began to gather on his shirt. The taller man in the coat grabbed Choudhury by the shoulders, opened his car door and bundled him into the back. Jack couldn’t believe what he had just seen.

“Need… to... call... chief…” Jack whispered. “Forget it mate” Terry moved over to the bed “They’ve given you a leave of absence, took your warrant card a couple of days after you were brought in.”

“Hey! Hey you! What the hell….?” Jack sunk back into the pillow “Tossers!” Roxxi looked at Terry and they laughed. “He’s going to be okay.” Roxxi said. A couple of weeks later and Jack had been prodded, poked, met numerous specialists and was now pig sick of hospital. Choudhury had told him he could look forward to going home soon. At the moment Jack was sitting on a bench in the paved garden at the rear of the private hospital. The hospital was several miles out of London and had been chosen by Roxxi. Jack was thankful that she had such a soft spot for him. They had met years ago at a boxing event, back when she was sixteen year old aspiring model Tracy Jacobs. They had hit it off immediately but were moving in different directions in life. Jack ‘Southpaw’ Smith was an up and coming fighter while Tracy was into celeb parties and hanging out with soap stars. Jack shook his head after all those hopes and dreams he had become a cop and she had become a celebrated adult film star. Maybe it was time that Jack pulled her on to the same path as him. They had been seeing each other on and off for years. Both of them had other partners at some point in time but they always seemed to end up back in each others arms. Jack was seriously considering asking her to move in. He sat enjoying the early morning sunshine. A car pulled into the car park. Jack couldn’t quite see it for the bushes at the side of the garden but he thought the car belonged to Doctor Choudhury. Another vehicle, an ominous looking black S.U.V. pulled in a few seconds later and parked up out of sight. Jack got up and shuffled his way back to the building. Smith heard snippets of the conversation between Choudhury and another man. “…can’t do that!...” “….not a request…” Jack reached the top of the garden steps and glanced down over the car park. Choudhury was standing with two men. The men were neatly dressed, one in a suit and the other wearing a long dark coat. Smith’s cop brain clicked in to gear.

The two men turned and saw him. A nurse came out of the building. She has seen Jack through the window and thought he needed a little help. “Get back in!” Jack screamed. The men in the car park headed for their vehicle. Smith felt a sudden sensation wash over his body as adrenalin pumped through him. He leapt down the steps and began sprinting across the lawn. The S.U.V. was pulling out of its parking space as Jack hurtled through the bushes. He was running at a good speed for someone who had spent three months immobile. He reached the side of the vehicle and grabbed at the door handle. The car pulled away and he grasped thin air. Jack carried on running to catch up. The guy in the passenger seat looked a little surprised to see their pursuer keeping in pace with them. Jack swiped at the door handle again. The S.U.V. hit a higher gear but Jack’s grip stayed firm. The vehicle did a sudden right turn. The door began to groan and buckle and Jack was thrown to the ground as the car door came off in his hand. The S.U.V. stopped and reversed. The passenger still had a look of disbelief on his face but that didn’t stop him from aiming the gun at Jack’s head and pulling off two shots. The car screeched out of the car park. The nurse and a male visitor came out of the hospital just as the shots were fired. They ran towards Jack expecting to find his brains lying nearby. Jack sat up and picked the two crumpled bullets from his forehead. “Owwww….!” The nurse just managed to catch the visitor as he passed out. Jack stood up and helped the nurse hold the man on his feet. The nurse looked at Jack with her mouth hanging wide open. “They shot you….in…the head!” “It must have been empty paint bullets or something.” Jack replied.

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The cold titanium tipped bullets in his left hand said otherwise. “Jesus Christ Jack you’re a bloody trouble magnet!” Chief Inspector Arnie Harris flopped down in his chair and stared at Jack. “It’s like a friggin’ episode of the X Files talking to you lately. Men in black, assassins…” “But Chief….” “Shut it Smith! You’re on a permanent leave of absence starting from now. Take my advice, go home and pull your bloody self together.” Jack knew that was the end of the conversation so he turned and left the office. “Tosser!” he muttered. Smith thought about Choudhury. It had come to light that the doctor was a gambler. He had lost a small fortune to the wrong kind of people and they had killed him. That theory niggled away at the back of Jack’s mind. There was something too convenient about it. He knew deep down that Choudhury had been killed in a professional hit. Jack woke up in Roxxi’s bed. Roxxi had left a couple hours earlier. She was filming a scene in an alleyway and the director had wanted to get an early start to avoid onlookers. Smith pulled himself out of bed and grabbed a t-shirt. He headed to the kitchen and set about making himself a cup of tea. The doorbell rang. Jack sauntered into the hallway and opened the front door. A man in black leathers and a motorcycle helmet stood on the top step. Jack’s muscles immediately tensed. “Delivery for Jack Smith...” The courier held up a small box wrapped in black plastic. “Ermm…” Jack was thinking ‘Who the hell knows I’m here?’ “Yeah sorry mate, where do I sign?”

Jack walked through to the front room and peered through the window blinds. Whoever was calling had known the precise time to call. Were they watching him? “Do I know you?” “Let’s say our paths have crossed before…briefly.” The voice replied. “It’s you, isn’t it? From the flat!” “My apologies for the unfortunate occurrence that transpired that day Mister Smith. Not my usual impeccable manners.” “You stuck a bloody needle in my neck and pumped me full of god knows what!” Jack shouted. “And yet again my apologies. It was a fight or flight situation and I chose fight.” “So talk. What the hell did you do to me?” “I think we should meet face to face.” The man answered. Jack stood outside ‘The Obsidian’. A large structure made of dark glass and curved angles. Thousands of Londoners walked past it every day and like Jack they didn’t have a clue what it was used for. Jack noticed the three cameras swivel his way and a metallic voice announced, “Please push the door Mister Smith.” Jack entered the building. Immediately he was met by a burly security guard. The guard was carrying a small hand held device which he waved quickly up and down Jack’s body. The device let out a demented shriek. “If you can remove any weapons you’re carrying Sir. They can be collected from Reception on your way out.” Jack had a pistol tucked into the waistband of his trousers. He pulled the gun and handed it to the guard. “Can’t blame a guy for coming prepared.” He tried to joke with the guard. Obviously not one for small talk the guard ignored this and pointed to his left.

The courier pointed where he needed a signature. “Please take the elevator to the twelfth floor.” Jack headed back into the kitchen to get his cuppa. Just then he heard music. He thought it was from a neighbour’s or a passing car. ‘Wait a minute!’ he thought ‘Not music…a ringtone.’ It was coming from the parcel. He ripped open the plastic and tore open the flap of the plain box. Inside was a top of the range mobile phone and it was ringing. Jack picked up the phone and pressed the answer button. “Hello?” “Ah Mister Smith there you are!” Jack shook his head and frowned. “Who is this?” “All will be revealed in time Mister Smith. Patience is a virtue.” The voice answered.

Jack climbed into the lift and punched the button. He was aware of the camera in the top watching him and he tried to appear relaxed, his hands laced behind his back he whistled a little cheerful tune. The doors opened and the two men from the car park stood waiting for him. The taller man nodded down the hall. Jack got out of the lift and keeping an eye on the men he scoured the corridor. There was only one door at the end. Jack walked down the hall and entered the room. A man in his late forties sat behind a desk. It was the man he had seen entering the flat those few months past. The man flashed a dazzling white smile and stood offering a hand. Jack deliberately stood out of reach and fixed the man with a steely glare.

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The man, unflustered, ushered him to take a chair. “Please sit.” “I’ll stand thanks.” Jack replied “And enough of the small talk what the hell am I doing here?”

The man sat back down in his plush leather chair. The door opened and the two men from the corridor entered the room. The larger man seemed to be carrying a cat. “I believe you have met my associates Benson and Grainger.” Smith relaxed a little as he didn’t think Benson was going to get the cat to claw him to death. He surveyed the room and for the first time noticed a rat in a cage on one of several shelves to the side. “And I’m Xander.” The man introduced. “I don’t care if you’re bloody Elvis, what’s this all about?” “It’s best if you have a visual demonstration.” Xander gestured to Benson who handed over the cat. Xander took the cat and opened the door of the cage which held the rat. Dropping the cat inside, he quickly closed the door and stood back. The cat sensed it was getting a free meal and licked its teeth in preparation of sinking them in to the rat. The rat however had other ideas. Smith watched as its muscles bulged from its fur. The rat leapt at the cat and grabbed onto its side with all four paws. It sunk its teeth in to the cat’s neck and started to take chunks of flesh out of it. The cat tried to throw the rat off but within seconds the blood gushing from its neck caused it to flop lifelessly on to the cage floor. “What the fu…?” Smith managed incredulously. “In short Mister Smith you are the rat. You were injected with the same serum as old Dusty here.”

Southpaw Smith

by Scott Claringbold

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“Are you kidding me?” “No, no joke. I represent an organization as old as time itself. It’s quite difficult to explain. In some quarters megalomaniac despots fund trials into genetic manipulation. In others would be dictators hire militias to help bring down governments and in still others governments themselves throw money at us to keep them in power.”

Jack tugged the door open and stormed off down the corridor. No one ran out to follow him but he decided not to use the lift and walked briskly to the stair well. After twelve floors he wasn’t even out of breath as he reached reception. The guard noticed him coming through the door and stood up. “Mister Smith you forgot your property.”

“You some kind of mad scientist?” Smith sneered. “I came in to possession of the serum from some friends over the golden pond. By all accounts from the hundreds of ‘volunteers’ they tested it on there is only one survivor. And you, Mister Smith, are the only other.” “So you’ve turned me in to what? A super soldier…? Like Captain America.” Xander chuckled. “Not quite, however from the account Grainger gave me you did stop two bullets with your forehead.” “You lot are off your heads. What did Choudhury have to do with anything?” Jack asked. “A case of wrong place at the wrong time... We asked him to run a few tests on you so we could determine the effect of the serum on you.” Xander replied as a matter of fact. “So when he wouldn’t comply you offed him instead? And the same with the bloke in the flat when he wouldn’t take your poxy serum…” “I don’t expect you to understand the methods we have to go to Mister Smith. Remember the organization I represent has remained for centuries and with the right procedures will endure for many more.” Xander explained. “I should bust you right here and now for what you’ve just admitted to.” Smith spat the words. “That is if you were still a policeman. I’ll be sure to give Commander Burgess your best regards when we tee off on Sunday morning.” Jack wobbled a little at that statement and Xander smiled at Jack’s reaction. Jack threw his palms down on the desk and leaning forward he whispered menacingly. “Listen knob-head I’ve had enough of this crap. I ain’t going to be your pet rat so you can slice and dice me and find out what makes me tick! Now I suggest you crawl back into the shadows and keep the hell out of my way.” Jack turned and Benson reached into his jacket making no attempt to hide the fact that he was going for a gun. Jack lashed out with a vicious jab that caught Benson in his solar plexus doubling him over in a sudden sharp agonizing pain. “Idiot!” Jack shouted and motioned with his thumb towards Grainger. “Your boy here tried to shoot me and I ate his bullets.”

Jack rubbed at where the bullets had hit him in the head and smiled inwardly. “Keep it. I don’t need it anymore!” He left the building and walked out in to the warm sunshine. High above him in ‘The Obsidian’ Xander watched as Jack crossed the road. Xander turned to his colleagues. “Plan B then.” he announced. Mingling with the afternoon shoppers a sudden truth hit Smith like a bolt from the blue. Everything he knew was a lie. The Prime Ministers and Presidents didn’t rule their lands. The Organization did. That thought troubled him for the rest of the day. Jack smiled at Roxxi across the room and catching his gaze she beamed back at him. Maria nudged her friend. “Hey what’s with Jack? Has he had a romance transplant?” Roxxi burst out laughing. “I dunno, he’s been different lately. He’s even asked me to move in.” On the opposite side of the room Terry handed Jack a beer. “I can’t believe what you’ve just told me mate!” “It’s true” Jack replied. “Every word of it.” “So you’re what? Invincible like Bruce Willis off that movie...” “Not invincible but close to it.” Jack nodded. Roxxi and Maria came over and sat next to their partners. “So Jack, when is your new flat mate moving in?” Maria asked. Jack looked at Roxxi. “Couldn’t keep it to your self any longer babes?” Roxxi lovingly placed a hand on his cheek and looked into his eyes. “I’m just so happy.” “Awww!” Maria gushed. Terry shook his head. “That’s the beginning of the end for you matey boy.” Maria playfully cuffed him on the back of the head as Jack and Roxxi kissed passionately. Outside Jack’s flat the two removal men began to unload the van. Roxxi gave some instructions to the older man, Ivan, as to where she wanted pieces of furniture.

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Opposite the flat a familiar S.U.V. sat with Benson and Grainger watching the proceedings. Benson climbed out of the car and surveyed his surroundings. When he was certain the path was clear he walked over to the van, removing a small device from his pocket. Billy was struggling with a cabinet at the back of the van. “Can I help you with that mate?” Benson asked. “If you don’t mind that would be great.” Billy answered. Benson took hold of one end of the cabinet and lifted it down from the van. As he did the door swung open. “Oops.” Benson slipped the device into the cabinet before closing the door.

“Detective Smith.” Jack grimaced. “It’s just Jack these days Jenny. What happened? Where’s Roxxi?” Jennifer looked at Jack and gently put a hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry Jack. I have some bad news.” A few nights later and Jack was sat on the sofa hugging Roxxi’s favourite bear Mister Ruffles. The smell of her perfume wafted in the room. Jack knew that there were five stages to a grieving process: Denial, Anger, Despair, Depression and finally Acceptance. But at the moment he was really struggling to get past Anger.

“Thanks.” Said Billy as Benson put the cabinet down. “You’re welcome.” Benson walked away. Ivan came out with two mugs of tea. “Cuppa Billy.” He shouted. The men stood by the cabinet and sipped at their drinks. Roxxi came out with a plate of biscuits and engaged the men in animated conversation. Benson crossed the road further down and made his way back to his vehicle. Climbing beside his friend he took a black remote off the dashboard. Benson grinned at Grainger. “Showtime.” He sniggered and flicked the switch. Jack had filled Terry’s car with as many of Roxxi’s clothes as he could. They were about a mile away from Jack’s flat when the fire engines went screaming past followed moments later by police cars. Jack felt a sudden chill. He told Terry to floor it and his friend duly obliged. Minutes later they turned into the street and Jack could see the smoke billowing from outside his flat. Jack jumped out of the car and ran towards the commotion. A young policeman was trying to keep the onlookers back. He placed a hand on Jack’s chest. “Sorry sir you’ll have to keep back.” The cop said. “It’s my flat, my girlfriend!” Jack shouted. The policeman called over to a colleague. “Get the Sarge, this is the owner.” Sergeant Jennifer Parsons came over. She knew Jack from past incidents.

Billy, the younger removal man, had survived the explosion. Smith still had friends on the force who had managed to smuggle him transcripts of the lad’s statement. Upon reading it Jack knew that the description of the helpful man in the long coat was Benson. It might not stand up in a court of law but it was all the proof he needed as to who was responsible for Roxxi’s death. Jack stood at the graveside long after the other mourners had left. He’d kept his composure during the church service but now the tears were falling like rain. It had taken him far too long to realize what he wanted out of life. Now the only woman he had ever loved was dead and laying in a coffin six feet below him. She has been buried as plain old Tracy Jacobs. Jack took off his gold watch. It had been a present from her all those years ago. Tracey had presented it to him at a boxing tournament little more than sixteen years old he had ignored the advances of the girl. He read the inscription on the back of the watch. ‘To Southpaw luv Tracy x’ The blood began to boil in his veins. Jack dropped the watch down on to the casket. Tracey was gone. He curled the fingers on his left hand in to a fist. Jack Smith would join Tracy in the grave today. It was Southpaw who turned around and stalked across the cemetery grounds.

Look for more exciting stories featuring

In future issues of RKYV Online!

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Sivan Krispin by Matthew Hatt

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RKYV Online November 2008

Poetry Paré’s Poetic Perspectives by R. J. Paré [Bitter]sweet No[rth]vember Birth Pains Post candy-binge stomach cramps A late-month’s beginning Coming of Age Remembrance of the past; the fallen… An adolescence – sans rebellion – introspective Maturity Shadowed by death; the consuming grey… A brief adulthood punctuated by the loss of Autumn’s brilliant colours Passing Away In the rush toward Year’s End anticipations; celebrations yet to come… A disregarded, grey month November – an Interlude…

[bitter]sweet no[rth]vember by Randy Paré

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Twenty-Two Years on… by Stephen Campbell Being ambiguous, that’s the key, Don’t let them know what you’re up to boy, If they discover your careful ploy, They will ground you to your knees.

Still it’s not all bad, Its quality entertainment, And the adrenaline is great, This war should make you glad.

Be careful, watch the TV, There’s nothing suspicious in that, Still that’s all part of their ploy, They supply you with what you need.

You don’t want to be just a pessimist, You’re not a traitor Of course you support the troops, But you can be sick of all this.

Disaster after disaster, Filled full of fear, Like crazy sons of a bitches, You’re unleashed… watch out for Muslims… they’re evil.

Not that you can do anything, It’s all going into history. Write about it. By chance, Your hard back may escape the flame.

Untitled

by Sean Liska

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W r i t e r ’ s

C o l u m n

Creation in Our World by Larissa Gula

Hello there, readers! I hope our holiday season has begun on a good foot; I know mine has! The day I wrote this Pittsburgh experienced its first real snowfall of the year and my entire dorm floor was celebrating. Time for a recap: last month I gave out a list about encouraging creativity in a society that has an unfortunate tendency to scorn it. Well, encouraging creativity in others is the easy part. Getting yourself to be creative is the challenge. For this month’s issue I have searched and thought about as many methods of creativity as a busy college girl can – so unfortunately a slightly limited list. Hopefully I can jumpstart your own minds even if you don’t like my suggested methods. So, here’s this month’s list of ways to let your creative spirit flourish, whether you write, paint, or just want some style in your life. 1) Decorate the house. It sounds simple enough to organize a house and pick out the color schemes. But if it’s so simple, why do we constantly feel the need to redecorate? If your creative muse calls for redesign, well, acknowledge it. Come up with new ideas that will make your visitors and yourself realize, Wow, this person has creativity in this simple aspect of their life – I wonder how else they use their minds to make the mundane exciting? 2) Cook. Again, it sounds commonplace, especially in this day and age where I can’t go to my e-mail from Yahoo!’s homepage without seeing some new recipes to try out. But that’s why it’s a great way to create. Food is a basic necessity; and if you need a way to jumpstart your brain then what better way to do it than while feeding your growling stomach? Cake designs, creative patterns on serving plates, tweaks in recipes to fit your personal quirks for the day – whatever it is, if it’s different and it makes you think, it’s a great thing to incorporate into your life. 3) Paint the shower curtains. First of all this might actually make those old and faded looking curtains last a few more years before you need to replace them. Second of all, this is another part of the house you’ll (hopefully!) see during your day. Here in the dorms our bathrooms are fantastic examples; our white curtains transformed into an ocean mural over one weekend. If there’s a certain setting you’ve found to inspire you, paint it onto your curtains in as rough a form as your craftsmanship allows. You might be surprised by what ideas come to your head. 4) Speaking of decorating – what about simple things being in plain sight? Our bathrooms also have cut out shapes of fish and sea creatures hanging from the ceiling. My floor neighbors have an entire section of wall decorated in Christmas lights and tinsel, as well as leftover spider webs. When I find a piece of artwork or a photo that inspires me, I think it and hang it somewhere in my room. It’s all about bringing those inspirations to your eyes, and putting them where you’re guaranteed to see them. Inspiration is a quarter of the battle; and hopefully, if you see it enough, you’ll be motivated to sit down and get your ideas out onto paper or canvas. 5) Sing. It’s so simple, singing along with songs you know or just creating random lyrics in your head. But seeing as songs are a basic emotion being manufactured, why not use that emotion to create a more specific and complex picture from the base up? I’ll be honest; songs tend to give me many more ideas than I come up with while sitting in my room. 6) Create snippets of personal language. I’m not asking you to be the next Tolkien. Instead, if you have personal quirks and words that you like to use (because I do!), write them out. See what you can come up with. Just let go and let it become as simple/complex as you want. After all – it’s yours! It should be pretty obvious what my theme throughout all of these ideas is – simple evolves. The smallest things can create the biggest; it’s that snowball effect we hear about. I hope this gives you many new ideas; and once it does, just let everyone flow and see what happens. Surrender yourself to that creativity and never let anyone tell you it’s ridiculous or crazy. Ask them what they’ve done that makes them have the right to judge you. Best of luck, Larissa

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Untitled

by John H. Drew Jr.

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Untitled

by Mohammed Abdullah

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Untitled by Engin Korkmaz

Short Fiction

Tristan by Jim Gibson

Its early morning and I’ve just gone upstairs to work out after shoveling snow for a time; I just feel the exercise will stretch out my body. After ten minutes on the walker, I switch to the glider and work on my arms and shoulders. I then finish with a series of stretches while sprawled out on the mat, before laying still and resting, letting my mind clear as I deep breathe over ten seconds, hold it for ten, exhale over ten, then wait for ten more before repeating the process. Finally I lay motionless.


RKYV Online November 2008

“Are you asleep?” asks my wife as she steps gingerly over me. “No, just meditating,” I reply, opening my eyes, and letting thoughts enter my head again. “Are you going to work out?” “Yes…I want to get this gut down before Christmas.” I get up from the mat, give my wife a wave as she begins her walking routine- a stretch- and go into my office. I’ve been doing some educational consulting and in front of me is a lesson-plan order that needs proofing. So, figuring this might be a good time, I begin checking each page for any errors or omissions. During the process, I pause at one of the lessons and impulsively click on Google Earth. When it’s loaded and ready to go, I type ‘Tristan da Cunha’ in the search form and watch as the Earth turns and finally centers on the South Atlantic. The description under the link in the left side-bar to Wikipedia describes Tristan as a group of remote islands and the most remote archipelago in the world. I next double-click on the yellow dot west of Cape Town and watch as the familiar volcanic cone comes into focus, then further doubleclicked on ‘Edinburgh of the Seven Seas’ to view the small platform of land where 271 people, all farmers, live, backed by the sometimes active 6765 foot high volcanic ‘Queen Mary’s Peak’. This remote island has intrigued me for many years, ever since I spotted a reference to it in an old geography textbook. I’d followed up on the chance finding by using it as a lesson to demonstrate the effects of isolation on a group of people. To emphasize just how isolated the region was, I’d sent a registered letter in the fall of the school year- to the bishop of the Anglican church since it was a British protectorate- and had not received a reply until the spring. The reply had begun with the address- Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean- before getting to the point. “Dear Mr. Gibson....Thank you for your letter of 25th October which reached here 21st January, and that was the first mail we had received since October 13. Our last mail out was 11th December and we cannot expect another out until about 6th April. That may give you some idea of our isolation. We can of course get BBC World News daily on our radios. I am sending you a copy of Newsletter 23 which, I think, will be of interest to you and give you a lot of the kind of information you ask for; and also a copy of a newsletter which my wife and I prepared to send out to many friends and relations after we had been here just one year, summing up our impressions. I had retired after 40 years of parish life and work in England, but was rather bored with the inactivity and lack of opportunity and offered for this job when I heard it was vacant. We are glad we came and find plenty to do and very worthwhile experiences. Now we look forward to our return next year to England and to seeing something of our own scattered family who at present are in India, Nigeria, Australia, and Cambridge, England. It had been signed: The Reverend E.D. Buxton.”

Tristan, for a long time was on my list of places to visit. This island in the South Atlantic, 1600 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, is part of a volcanic peak which rises out of the lonely sea, making three tiny islands. On two, Inaccessible and Nightingale, only seals live, with innumerable sea birds circling over them. On the third, Tristan- a dependency of the British colony of St. Helena- two hundred and seventy-one islanders (including fifty-two school children) and twenty-five expatriates live and work. Their radio link and the occasional supply ship or visiting frigates used to be their only contact with the world, but of course they now have television. Ever since I received the reply to my letter I’ve been intrigued by this place, perhaps because its chief settlement is named ‘Edinburgh of the Seven Seas’, or maybe because it’s so isolated yet hospitable, or both. The bishop, in his newsletter, had provided a list of descriptions used for place names, such as Down-Where-The-Minister-Landed-HisThing (when a reverend and his wife had arrived in 1906, the swell at the settlement had been too heavy for them to land, so the ship had steamed around to the north-east of the island and had landed the family and their possessions there), The Ridge-Where-TheGoat-Jump-Off (the islanders rarely use the past tense, so this had represented an historic occasion; a goat was being chased by islanders and their dogs, and to avoid capture it had jumped over the precipice), Blineye (a crater in which a bullock lost the sight of one eye, and could not see well enough to pick its way out. The bullock was called blindeye, soon corrupted into Blineye). Some other names, all purely descriptive, include ‘The-Hill-With-A-HoleIn-It’, ‘By-The-Big-Piece’, ‘The-Ponds-Up-The-East’ard’, and ‘Slippery-Bluff’. The Bishop had also explained in his newsletter how, over a one year period, he’d become acquainted with the annual cycle that made up life on Tristan. He’d written: “We have survived this year happily and well, and we love our island home. It is a comfortable, modern bungalow set in a sheltered hollow, with added protection from tall, thick flax. And looking out to sea, the view is the same but always different; restless, changing, variable sea and sky. Behind us, like an impregnable fortress guarding the 2100 metre volcanic peak, and solid as the sea is liquid, is the massive 600 metre high base of the mountain, sometimes shrouded from view in a veil of mist, at other times daubed with bold drapery of light and shade on its craggy side by the sun early or late in the day. So we live and move and have our being on this narrow shelf 33 metres above the sea, 12 kilometres long, east to west, inhabited by about 300 people in 100 houses, and with space to stretch our legs for a good walk. A year has given us the opportunity to become familiar with this compact settlement and close-knit community and to get to know the people, not a hard task because they are so welcoming and friendly; but remembering faces and putting names to them is a tougher memory test. The children are a sheer delight and sometimes the very devil. We both teach in the Day School and we have a lively informal children’s service in church every Sunday morning with all ages from 15 years to a few months. We shall be preparing about 30 youngsters for Confirmation, and we are greatly looking forward to a visit from

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Leslie Straddling (retired bishop living near Cape Town) in October. This may well be the climax of our ministry here and, we hope and pray a lively contribution to the future of the Church on Tristan.” The bishop was a man of God, so naturally he’d also written about worship on the island: “Our main act of worship every Sunday is the Eucharist at 8 a.m. with hymns and sermon, and generally fifty or more communicants. We have been using the new liturgy of the Church of South Africa for some time now and very good it is; but our older folk, some of them illiterate and very dependent upon memory, find it hard to adapt and we use the older service once a month for their sake.” I’m a geographer, so the next part of the newsletter greatly interested me: “Before coming here and after reading several books on Tristan one rather got the impression that the weather might be almost impossible and the people almost perfect. Neither is true! We are indeed glad that we brought our 2-piece foul-weather coverings, clad in which we can laugh at the worst that wind and rain can do even ‘horizontal’ rain! And we have lovely days of blue sky and warm sun even in winter, and in summer the sun can be very hot. Really wild, wet weather is not so very often, nor for long at a time. The islanders do have some delightful Untitled by Engin Korkmaz and attractive characteristics and a strong church tradition, but that does not add up to perfection. As in any other community we have our social troubles and problems- and a policeman! In a recent court case three young men were heavily fined. Asthma and chest complaints are fairly common. Alcohol has fairly recently invaded the island and has had too easy and flush an entry on account of their innate and generous hospitality; and there’s a lot of entertaining and celebrating, especially observing birthdays. The litter bug is another menace and leaves many blots on the landscape. There has been a lack of cooperation in solving the problem of too many cattle and sheep for the limited pasture. Many islanders work for the government or the fishing factory, but they are most enthusiastic, industrious and efficient in doing ‘their own thing’- making good use of their precious potato patches, fishing, carding and spinning wool, knitting, housework, milking, ratting, dancing, sailing their longboats to Nightingale Island, boat building and making model boats, house building and decorating, doing alterations and extensions, etc. Better than most they know both how to be quiet and still and also up and about and very busy.”

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Then the bishop got to the topic of isolation: “We may be very far away and seemingly isolated when we listen daily to the BBC world news, but we do not entirely escape the infections of the modern world and the erosion of faith. The lack of church support on the part of many expatriates is not helpful and is disappointing, although we have a splendid exception to this in the regular attendance of the Administrator and his wife at the Sunday Eucharist; and he reads a lesson. We expect several new arrivals on the island in the near future for work in agriculture, radio, and school. In our situation new faces are always exciting, interesting and very welcome.”

Tristan is similar to another volcanic island, Iceland in that it is part of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. For one of my follow-up lessons I composed a story in an attempt to make the concept of ‘plate tectonics’ more interesting to middle schoolers. I remember I have this lesson on file and decide to bring up the document on my computer. I grin as I read the words: “It’s Pangaea for sure”, said Captain Apollo, as he looked down through a mass of swirling clouds. “I can see areas where it is starting to break apart and drift.” Apollo and his crew had been traveling through space for some time now. This activity on Pangea had begun to confirm rumours that the planet earth’s great plates were on the move. It would be many geologic periods later, however, before other space travelers would routinely begin to give reports about the happenings on earth. One report comes to mind. A voyage captained by a descendant of the great Apollo happened to be passing earth and spotted a billowing cloud of volcanic ash spewing into the atmosphere, just off the edge of the North American Plate. “The Reykjanes Ridge is sure active”, said Sima, the captain. “Do you remember when that large island right below us was under water, and we’d only see steam?” “Sure do”, said Sial, the navigator, who had been plotting this activity on a recent seismicity map he had just brought up on the computer screen. “My father predicts that humans will eventually settle there.” Sial’s father turned out to be right. Icelandthe capital, Reykjavik, was named for the volcanic ridge that formed the islandbecame a major colony of the Vikings, and later a location that every young geologist on earth had to visit. In fact, a young man named Bob Crashley, who contacted these space travelers, ended up marrying an Icelander, a girl named Maria Kristjanhoffir. I finish the proof reading, bind the pages between pieces of cardboard, insert the package with the invoice into a bubble envelope, then label and seal it in preparation for mailing.

Untitled by Engin Korkmaz

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Untitled

by Kalinda Higgs

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by Kalinda Higgs

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November 2008

Brad Bellmore’s

Dark Tower - Treachery Marvel Comics recently released Treachery, the next miniseries of comics based on Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels, written by Peter David and Robin Furth, with the art provided by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove. Two other miniseries precede this and the first is already released in hard back graphic novel. Although it is not necessary to go back read the previous books, you may find it enjoyable and worth the effort. In Treachery, the story brings Roland Deschain, a young gunslinger, home. He went into hiding to escape an assassination attempt by “Good Man” John Farson and ended up in quite a tussle with the people he sought to escape. In the process, he stole a magic orb from the “Good Man”. Now he is possessed by the orb, struggling to break its power over him. Alain and Bert his mates from his trip have been promoted to gunslinger due to their adventures, despite not passing the official test. The rest of the boys their age, jealous over this, harass them. The art in these books is astounding, some of the best that I’ve seen in quite some while. Each panel washed with a red background provides a bloody palette to colour the story wrought with death. Foreboding leaps from each page. The action sequences pop and the drama, rich with emotive faces, hooks readers with concern for the characters. The writing is quite solid with a great story and strong dialogue. The dialect, used well here, lends depth and substance to the characters and adds considerably to the setting. There is a lot to like about the complexity of the tale and the simplicity with which it is told. Even the several pages of prose at the end of each issue, providing deeper glimpses into back story, are intriguing and enjoyable to read. The voice of the narrator bothered me. Again, dialect is tapped as with the characters, but it seems harder to grasp who is speaking and why they are talking like that. I found myself rereading captions to understand what the narrator meant, losing the easy flow of the rest of the story. It’s almost like someone talking to the screen at a cinema. This series is well worth the purchase. Once you read an issue, you may find yourself jumping to other portions of the series to get the rest of the story and enjoy the astounding art.

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Untitled

by Giorgos Tsopanos

Untitled

by Kalinda Higgs

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November 2008

C u l t u r e

Interview with Stref If you are on the internet at all, there is a chance that you’ve run across MILK. There are several YouTube video ads featuring music by Ian MacKenzie, at Lodestar Avionix Recordings and a group dedicated to it on FaceBook. This graphic novella is fun mix of visual styles that range from goofy to astounding. The truly amazing part is that all this art and each of the stories were created by one person: Stref. Insomnia, a UK publisher has picked up this title and plans to release it next year. I connected with Stref to ask him a few questions about this work. Brad Bellmore: Is there significance to the title? Stref: Yes. There is a pretty big clue in the cover illustration, but it’s a very personal picture so people may not get it. It seems to be a very popular picture anyway and people tend to make their own minds up about what it is all about, which I like! BB: When you are working what comes first, words or images? S: It depends. Sometimes an idea for a story will pop into my head; it’s then a case of working out the visuals that will fit it best. Other times it may be an image or images that pop in there and then it’s a matter of writing a story around them. I think both stories and images are as important as each other. It doesn’t matter which comes to me first, but by the time I finish working on something both elements should be solid. BB: What is your inspiration? S: The simple love of going through the creative process. This book was drawn in my spare time for nothing other than my personal pleasure. No deadlines, no briefs and no pay. These stories crept into my head and I just had to get them out.

BB: Who are your influences? S: My biggest influences are Herge, who drew the amazing ‘Tintin’ books and Windsor McCay, who created the wonderful ‘Little Nemo in Slumberland’. The work these guys did just blows my mind. I also love the works of Ridley Scott, Barry Winsor Smith, Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Mobius and Mucha. BB: Does your own personal story enter these stories? S: Yes, one story in particular from MILK is incredibly personal, as is some of the artwork in the gallery. The story has no words, is heavily visually symbolic and completely open to individual interpretation. It doesn’t have to mean the same thing to me as it does to anyone else. I think that’s an important aspect of art, the same visual can appeal to ten different people who can all have very different opinions as to what it’s about. How the individual feels when they look at it, that’s the important thing. BB: Do you use your art to discover yourself? S: Yes-I feel it’s important to say that MILK contains as many styles of storytelling as it does styles of artwork. Some stories are simple and straight forward, while others are more cryptic and metaphorical. Sometimes when I work I let the pen do its own thing, almost like free association writing. Often I am left with a picture that I myself do not understand and only after a bit of time can I look back at these pictures and figure them out. I have had something on my mind that needed out, it’s kind of like a process of cleaning out my brain!

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BB: How many tales are there in this one cover? S: MILK consists of 14 short stories, varying from 1 to 12 pages long and a gallery of artwork. BB: Is there a connection between the various tales in this book? S: These stories are connected by a common thread of thought and humour. They are generally more concerned with the world the characters live in than the characters themselves. MILK is what you would see if you pointed a remote control at my head and flicked through my thoughts, so I guess you could say that the connection between these stories is my twisted view of the world!

S: This was instrumental when Insomnia called and I could direct them straight to comments and thoughts of potential buyers of the book. It’s better being able to show what others think instead of just me trying to sell it myself and nowadays, thanks to the internet, you can do all this easily for free! BB: How did the publishers respond to your free advertising? S: I think the publishers were delighted at there having been some advertising already ‘out there’. I was asked to keep the YouTube videos and FaceBook gallery running. This was a great way to direct them to feedback on the project also. BB: Will there be more MILK? S: Let’s see what people make of it first! All I can say is that as long as stuff keeps filling up my head, I will feel a need to get it down on paper!

BB: How do you vary your style so easily? S: Changing styles keeps the art fun and challenging. Not all styles suit all stories, so it’s important to me (especially with an anthology type piece of work) to find an appropriate visual to match the individual scripts.

BB: Do you have other projects in process? S: I have a few ideas in mind; at least three concepts appearing in MILK have the potential for progression also. BB: Will we see MILK delivered in North America?

BB: Why did you choose to vary your style?

S: MILK will be available in the UK, USA and Canada in 2009; I think it will be in shops around May.

S: There is a wide variety of stories in MILK, so I had to adapt myself to styles I thought suited each story best. I think it makes the book more interesting to flick through for the reader also. BB: Did the variety of stories and styles make it hard to sell? S: I think people have been more surprised by the fact that this is a solo production than anything else. Without knowing, you could flick through MILK and think several artists were involved and it seems to interest people more when they discover there is just one. I was approached by Insomnia Publications one day after I posted an advert for a publisher on Smallzone, so I haven’t had to do much selling of the book. Instead I used modern devices, such as FaceBook and YouTube to get samples ‘out there’ and obtain a bit of feedback.

S: You can follow the progress of MILK through Insomnia’s blog at: www.theredeye.co.uk You can also check out art samples at the following links: FaceBook gallery link: http://www.new.facebook.com/ album.php?aid=45389&l=30345&id=541352675 YouTube videos: www.youtube.com/a1milk [Editor’s Note: ‘Stref ’ is creator Stephen White’s ‘nom-de-plume’]

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Untitled

by Holly Jewell

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by Holly Jewell

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P o p

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Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons by Pauline Paré

Mid-season was once the time for the networks to try out shows that they are not necessarily sure about. Mid-season shows were generally substandard and, with a few exceptions, were cancelled in short order. A few years ago... networks started showing whole seasons without breaks with major shows starting in September and January. One of the first I remember having a big January premiere was “24”. Now with 2009 arriving, I have never been more excited about a mid-season. Not only are there some top notch established series set to dazzle us this January, but there are a couple of exciting new series as well. “Battlestar Gallactica” will be returning for its finale season. If you have never seen this amazing series, you really should run out and purchase the DVDs. I can’t praise this dark and innovative show enough. At the end of last season they found Earth but it was not what they expected. “Lost” season 5 will be back on Jan. 21 (http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost/index?pn=index) with new mysteries and cryptic storylines. Jack Bauer returns! ( http://www.fox. com/24/dossier/ ) “24” gets a 4 hour 2 night premiere starting Jan. 11. Even Reaper is returning, which is a big surprise. I liked the show, but I know that my opinion has never held much sway with the networks. There are also a few new shows that have me marking my calendar. The first is “Merlin”. Merlin is the first British television show to be purchased by a major network in many years, and if that was not enough to get you excited, then watch the BBC One trailer for the series at http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=1vq5nk6ys1M Joss Whedon is also back on television with “Dollhouse”, ( http://www.fox.com/programming/shows/new/dollhouse.html ) an exciting new sci-fi starring Eliza Dushku( aka faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) I am a little surprised that Whedon is going back to Fox after they cancelled Firefly without giving it a chance. I hope they treat him better this time around. I am also intrigued by NBC’s “Kings”, a David and Goliath story with a futuristic twist. I think it sounds interesting enough to give it a try... http://www.nbc.com/Primetime/Kings/index.shtml So, Merry Christmas to all and to all I wish all happy viewing in the New Year.

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