Category Archives: Essay

The Second Child

By Charlie Kondek

Fatherhood changed my life. I think we use that phrase a lot, about all kinds of things that happen to us, without ever really considering the gravity of an actual, life-changing event. We feel our lives are changed, that we are different people, when we hear certain music, see certain films, read certain books, have certain epiphanies. We recall them later in florid, inflated memory; “I remember exactly where I was when that happened. It changed my life.” But we do not fully experience the vertigo of a life-changing event until we have really fallen down that well. Fatherhood changed my life. Twice.

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The Great Adventure

Words and images by David Barnett

(Intro: A cheeky, witty travelogue from a writer we really need to hear more from. — Charlie)

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GreatAdventure Ah, the summer of 2005 — what a time to be alive that was. A few months prior, I finished my tenure at the University of Wales, Cardiff, studying Journalism, Film, & Broadcasting. My lifestyle was a dynamic mix of sleeping, eating, and pornography, and yet, I wondered was there something more? Well, dear reader, there was. You see, I can’t say I live in a terribly diverse cosmopolitan locale. A day out around here usually means going around the shops, going to the cinema, or feeding the birds, tuppence a bag. No wait, that’s Mary Poppins, but you get the idea.

Not that life in Wales is boring, you understand. Endless shops, endless fields and mountains, and ah! singing coal miners, I’m reliably informed. I’ll take the moral high ground for a novel change and not draw attention to the sheep jokes often made about us, though. I’m often reminded how beautiful and peaceful it is, but quite frankly, its charm has long been lost on me. Like the average black hole, you come to Wales, but you never leave, or so that was the case for the majority of my life. Apart from one dire school trip to France and brief family trips across the border, I had never really ventured anywhere on my own. The shocking truth of a geek in life experience deficit mode.

On top of it all, I was in the midst of truly wondering what I wanted to do with my life, a dilemma that was killing my initiative in seeking gainful employment. Oh sure, in theory, journalism sounds like a great career where I could just type at a keyboard most of the time and think to myself how great it is that I’m serving the public. Heck, that is the prevailing rationale of a lot of those who do it; problem is they don’t really. So, life was uneventful even more so: no schoolwork, no actual work, what’s a guy to do?

So, I got thinking; dangerous, I know, but I had to risk it. A grand journey: I would explore locales of great repute and esoteric spots of hidden delight. By foot, by wheel, and by rail, I would explore these Great British isles on a journey where I would grow into the man I am: steadfast, tireless and moronic to the point of spectacle. Suffice to say, it didn’t really turn out that way; it didn’t turn out a fraction of that way really. But this be the tale I tell. Continue reading

What I Thought While Reading The Book of Revelation

By Christian Verotik

(Intro: How do you introduce a piece by the unpredictable Christian Verotik? Let’s just say you encourage readers not to expect the expected and just let the man take you on his lucid, crazy, thought-provoking and sometimes hilarious and frightening ride. – Charlie)

Let me assure you that I was once just like everyone else. In the beginning.

I’m trying to understand everything, at once.

I was lying in bed, reading my Bible, with my no end nowhere unemployed life seeping into my cerebellum, when a blinding flash outside the window aroused me. I wasn’t asleep, but it felt like sleep walking as I honeycomb stepped over to the bee washed windows. Peering through the periphery, I saw that the sky had been split in half. Looking across the horizon, I saw the normal sky as you’d see it every day, but in the middle was a gaping maw, but not a hole. It was a looking glance into Wonderland, X-Files, Invisibles, Narnia – all wrapped up into one. It was all.

When I turned around, my sepia room was bleeding colours. All the colours of the rainbow. First black, then white, then infrared, then yellow into orange into red. All the colours of the rainbow, all blended together at once. I knew at once physics was a lie.

The colours, they existed. They spoke to me. And, no, I’m not a drug-addicted, hydrogen smoking, schizophrenic, reality hopper hooked up to sexual stimulus overload meeting the dimension of hyper-non-senses deprivation.

This was real. Realer than reality. Continue reading

How Bad Were the Asses of the Vikings?

by Pål Hellesnes
Artwork by Vasudha Shankar

(Editor intro: This really needs no intro from us, as it explains itself so well and is a very entertaining and inspiring piece. – Charlie)

It’s a common enough game for young boys (and girls?) to play: one sits around a table and discusses the martial prowess of various warriors against one another. Hand There are really no limits on who can be involved in these virtual battles: one might as easily pit the ancient Spartans against the Mongol Hordes as the X-men against Superman. In comic-book circles this kind of debate has its own label: They’re called “vs.-debates”, and among more sophisticated comic-nerds (such as yours truly) it’s seen as sort of inane. I mean, WE don’t care who’d win in a fight between Morpheus (of Sandman fame) and the Incredible Hulk — to our cultivated sensibilities it is the STORY that matters.

And yet… Continue reading

How Did I End Up Here?

By Yining Su

(Editor intro: In her essay about struggling with the French lagnuage as an English-speaking Canadian, Yining Su tells of the shortcomings of her early education and shows us that sometimes, even when standardized tests are wildly inaccurate, they may know us better than we know ourselves.)

How did I end up here? How did I get myself so deep into this? Those were the thoughts that went through my mind as I sat in front of my midterm French exam. During the following hour and a half, I was expected to read a poem by Charles Baudelaire and write a five hundred-word analysis on it. In French. So, how did I end up there? Continue reading