About ogresan

Richard Parks' stories have have appeared in Asimov's SF, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, and numerous anthologies, including several Year's Bests. His first story collection, THE OGRE'S WIFE, was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. He is the author of the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books.

Story Time: Crows

Today’s Story Time is “Crows,” originally published in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination in Summer, 2000, and later collected in Our Lady of 47 Ursae Majoris and Other Stories in 2011. It’s not exactly an optimistic story, depending on your point of view, but…well, there aren’t really any “buts.”

Sometimes you just have to let the Dark Side out to play.

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Pentatonic Minor Thoughts

It’s snowing as I write this. I almost wrote “snowing outside,” but then realized what a silly thing that was to say. Of course it’s snowing outside. If it was snowing inside, that would be either remarkable or a serious problem, possibly both. What is somewhat notable is that it wasn’t supposed to snow today. Or at least that was the prediction yesterday. But then friends and relations from down south have been posting snow pictures for the last few days, snow from Texas to Georgia. It was snowing in MS back when it wasn’t snowing here, only about eighty miles from the Canadian border. I was starting to feel left out, which is another silly notion. When they have enough snow that the local hardware stores start stocking snow shovels, then we’ll talk.

In addition to the guitar (no segue for you), I’ve added a couple more instruments to my “can’t play this worth a flip” category: pennywhistle and native style flute. By most accounts, the pennywhistle has only been around since the late 18th century. The native flute, by contrast, can be traced back for a few thousand years, and if you throw in the Neolithic bone flutes, a lot longer. Modern examples, whether of the five or six-hole variety, are tuned primarily to the pentatonic minor scale in different keys, though an advanced player can play other scales on the same flute; the older flutes (a few intact examples survive) were apparently tuned to the ear of whoever made it. Rather like how guitars can be relative tuned so that the notes and chords sound fine together until you try to jam with another guitar in standard tuning, where the differences suddenly become relevant. One gets the impression that the original native flute was a solitary instrument unless everyone in the group was playing an example made by or tuned to the same maker.

Yes, I know. But I’m just learning this stuff and now so will you. I’m mostly trying to be clear about my own understanding of a given subject, and I tend to do that by writing it down. As I’m doing here.

One interesting facet of learning the native flute is the order of learning. Once you have a handle on how to sound the notes and play the scale cleanly, the next order of business isn’t learning songs. No, the next order of business is: improvise. As long as you’re in the scale there’s no such thing as a wrong note. Try playing them in different orders, learn trills and (note) slurs and even bending notes. Odds are you’ll have made up your own songs even before you learn anyone else’s. And you’ll be ready to do that, if you want.

I do. I’ve even heard “Stairway to Heaven” on native flute, though it’ll probably be a while before I tackle that. Maybe “Silent Night.” After all, ‘tis the season.

 

Story Time: Drowning My Sorrows

To make up for being so late with Story Time today, I’m uploading a piece of original flash fiction, “Drowning My Sorrows.”*

Also a brief announcement: Two books, Ghost Trouble: The Casefiles of Eli Mothersbaugh and The Collected Tymon the Black are now available through Google Play. I’ll be adding more as time allows.

As always, “Drowning My Sorrows” will only be available until next Wednesday, December 13th, and then the story changes.

 

*Edited to add: Actually, this is the story’s second appearance. I did an earlier version as a blog post some time ago and completely forgot about it. To make up for it, I’ll be adding one more Story Time this week, probably Friday**. I’ll keep both up until next Wednesday, when we’ll start over and try not to repeat that mistake.

**And done. The second Story Time Story is also up now on the same page as the first. This one is “The Queen of Diamonds.”

I Don’t Know Why You Say Hello, I say Goodbye

One of the nice things about the internet is that it lets you reconnect with old friends long separated from you by time and distance. One of the horrible things about the internet is that it lets you reconnect….well, you get the idea.

Some time ago I heard from a very old friend indeed, someone I’d met in community college and spent two happy years with as a close friend before I went off to USM and we lost contact, as those things tend to happen. Cool, I think, and it’s great to be able to catch up. As it turned out, not so great. Reading her profile I found that she’d become “Born Again” and to a particularly virulent strain of evangelical pseudo-Christian. Next thing I’m checking out her blog and reading a very bigoted and hateful rant about immigrants and welfare recipients and a host of other imagined enemies of the lunatic right. Not so unusual, especially these sorry days, but you have to realize that this person, when I knew her, was just about the kindest, gentlest, sweetest, go-out-of her-way- to-help-anybody person that I’d ever met. I looked at this and could not find a trace of that person left.

Not sure what the moral is here, if there is one. It’s no newsflash that people do change, and not always for the better. It had been a long time and it was unrealistic of me to think that she’d be the same person I used to know. She’s not, but then again, neither am I. Even so, that was the end of that re-connection. It’s probably selfish of me, but I’d rather remember who she was, not what she became. At least that way the person I once knew still survives, after a fashion. The person I once knew was the sort of person the world needs more of now.

We have more than enough of the latter.

Story Time: The Beauty of Things Unseen

Today’s Story Time is “The Beauty of Things Unseen,” originally published in 1999 in Quantum SF, edited by Kurt Roth. As I mentioned previously in my post on Katherine Briggs, this was one of the early stories I got from the notion of the “fairy funeral.” Of course, that’s not exactly what the story is about–you can work that out for yourself–but I do come up with at least one suitable theory along the way.

 

 

 

As always with these things, “The Beauty of Things Unseen” will remain up until next Wednesday, December 6th. Until then, I hope, enjoy.