Shall We Celebrate? The Tapas Art Competition


October is by far and away, my favorite month, because I am a monster. Though I spend most days carefully painted and dressed to blend in, during this season, I am free to be myself. October is the month I celebrate my monster-hood, and so…I would like to propose a competition!

To all you gifted artists, you avid amateurs, you comic contributors, I offer you a challenge: look through the scattered pages of The Creature’s Cookbook or Simon’s Snacks (available only on the Tapas app), and summon up your muses! It will be your task to illustrate my life. You may make use of any medium you wish, and submit as often as you like. Your art will be judged by your peers through “likes”, by the staff at Tapas, and most importantly, by me. The winners – for I dearly hope there will be many – will have their art included in the book or short story from which they drew their inspiration. Your art will be available for all to see, an integral part of my work forevermore. You will be, my gentle readers, published artists.

Think of it as a pairing, of sorts.

This contest can be free to enter. What I mean by “can be” is that many of the chapters are open, but these will, of course, have the most entries. You may open more chapters or stories for the cost of pennies per piece (the total cost of the books do not exceed the amount of purchasing the book at a bookstore). You may also submit a portrait, and I will choose the one I like best to use as a bio-pic for my Tapas author’s profile.

Please submit your illustrations by uploading to the Tapas forum post pertaining to this competition. Vote on the submissions of other artists, and please, as always, be polite!

1. The Work Must Be Original:
You must be the creator of the art that you submit to the competition. Your art must be your own original concept and not a copy of anyone else’s copyrighted material. (If your image infringes upon another’s copyright it will be disqualified.) Upon submitting your work, to this competition, you are solely responsible for any infringement on copyrighted materials.

2. Copyright:
The artist retains all copyrights to their artwork without exception.

3. Multiple Submission:
There are no restrictions to the number of contests in which the artist participates, nor the number of pieces they may submit, nor the number of prizes they can win.

4. Submission Deadlines:
Artworks may be submitted until midnight Pacific Time on 10/31/2016. No artworks will be accepted past the posted deadline.

Note: It is best if the images submitted are no smaller than 800px X 800px

I cannot wait to see what you produce, my lovely friends!

Be wary

What I am about to do now, may in some ways sting. I would say that I am being cruel to be kind, but truly, that has nothing to do with it. I am not kind. I am very seldom gentle, very seldom generous, very seldom anything close to what you know. I will not ask your forbearance. Rather, I will push you back, so that you can see me fully and know me for what I am.

I came into your lives too subtly, I fear. I tiptoed in, tucked my life, devoid of artifice, in amongst your favorite fairytales. At first, no one noticed, but now they have, and that is my fault entirely.

Since the website began, the majority of readers have delved only so far, probing to suss out the verity of my statements, or making only slight reference to me, choosing instead to focus upon the supposed quality of my work. But things have changed. The book is doing very well, and I do feel something of a measure of pride for it, as I do all the broken things I reassemble; however, I drastically underestimated the quality of its reception.

Many of the most vulnerable have seen fit to follow me, talk with me, lay bare their problems, confess feelings of kinship, friendship, trust. I have told them how unwise this is, but to no avail. And yet, they press. Not to make me uncomfortable, but perhaps, in some way, to have what they seek — a connection to something other than this reality they know. My protestations make very little headway. They tell me that they know I could never hurt them, that I am funny, give me nicknames. They reach out, “With open arms” as someone said, from their own generous spirits.

But there is something amiss. A perspective is askew. This thing, this journal, it has given you a very narrow glance, one tailored by the very thing that is its subject. You see my friendship with Rebecca and my aversion to harming her, and you think yourself safe. You follow my relationship with Chef and view it is a melodramatic love story, you even laugh at my confusions, my misdeeds. All these things are carefully crafted. All these things are tales, told by a monster whose chief desire is to eat, who excels at fine-tuning himself to the circumstances that arise.

You like me.

You have not the slightest grasp of who I am.

Do not mistake the trappings of humor, emotion, and self-reflection to be anything more than clever camouflage. I have known from the beginning that no human would ever care to read of my life without a pleasing presentation. I am clever. I am devious. I am a monster.

You cannot fathom how much time I have watched pass by; so much that I now remember less than half of that which remains hidden from me. These things you do — school, work, entertainment, fashion, gossip, television shows — to me are unfathomable. It is a charming kaleidoscope of strangeness that will inevitably pass away. These conversations that we have will vanish. These things you say to me will drift and lose focus, and eventually, I will not remember ever having them. In my head, are perfect, but entirely unusable maps of long-destroyed cities. In my thoughts, are words from languages no one sees fit to resurrect. I am a graveyard, and all things pass through these gates into oblivion. So please pardon me, if I seem at a loss, bemused, annoyed, or otherwise distant. Pardon me, if I do not rise to your tenderances. Pardon me, if I do not like being given pet names or told that i am charming. So many things have a brittle quality to them, as if at any moment, the clock will strike, and the sheer force of the sound will shatter all of this constant busywork to pieces. It is nearly impossible for me to find sure footing, peace, sanctity.

There are no such things to me, and if there were, no capacity to enjoy them.

I am not kind. No, not even a little. I could list for you whole populations of people I have ended. You declare kindness because I refuse children, help underdogs, carefully select criminals, but I am errant to give you that impression. These are lessons hard-learned, and some of the greater divides in my life are filled with corpses of those who did nothing more upsetting than to look at me in a certain way. Perhaps to the modern human, with so much knowledge of death and carnage beneath its documented belt, a discussion of this is not so upsetting.

Pluck it down then, from that shelf on which you keep it. Examine death for what it is — the total cessation of all that you are. Imagine what it would be like to lose the person you care for most, and then blame me. Blame me, if you be wise.

Those humans who know me, understand this. All of them are broken. All of them walk a fine line between reason and madness. Every single one of them has known appalling violence. Every one of them pegs me for what I am — a signpost at the end. Do you honestly think that any of them truly love me? No, of course not. They are terrified of me. They are certain that I will snap. Every one of them has escape routes, contingency plans. Every one of them knows that I am a ticking bomb that may one day suddenly decide to abandon all of this, as I have before, and leave nothing behind me.

This experiment was meant to prove that no human would believe. Now I see that the situation was worse than I imagined. Humans will believe, but they refuse to be afraid. There will always be a hero, the curse can be kissed away, that creature you should fear, is but a prince in disguise.

I am not. I am ancient, I am cold. I am very very cruel. I meet you now in a shape that is pleasing, I greet you with but one one thousandth of my lifespan. I hand you a few moments here, a few there, and you see this as representative of the whole. You message me and find me agreeable, but never see the twisting discontent inside my skull as I try to compress the enormity what I am into this tiny instant. You tease me, and find my replies amusing, but this is all predetermined, by a thousand such conversations I have witnessed, time and again.

You read this journal. You think you know me.

You are wrong.

Music Soothes the Savage Beast

The adage, so far as I can tell, is true.

Today I got into an interesting conversation with a reader named Becca. She inquired after the music scattered throughout my book, as she herself is a talented young musician. It led to a discussion of my tastes, and how those factor into the diary.

As you are aware at this point, my senses are quite attuned to extremes. I believe this has something to do with both the construction of my sensory organs and the frontal lobe/ visual cortex of my brain, but as I have never bothered to open my own skull, it is all conjecture. However, I do love music. I have adored it for many long centuries, as it has evolved.

Before you ask, as Becca did, I do not have favorites, or genres I prefer. I listen to a great many musical types, and honestly, there is always either music playing in my home, my car, or in my thoughts. When I hear a diegetic tune wafting through the air at a supermarket, a bar, an outdoor area, it sticks with me, and I carry it home like one of my many treasures. My Shazam app is one of my most frequently used.

All that being said, I do find that I have certain enjoyments. I delight in “cover songs”, as I adore the notion that old things may b reworked for continued use. I love to trace the influences that come round and round in cycles, ever-evolving, growing. Common chord progressions.

Music is bliss, when no other will present itself.

So what then of my book? What songs, specifically are referenced by the text? — Becca asks, and so I answer. There are three lists: the music I was listening to, in my everyday life, as the events transpired, and the music that occurred around me during said events, and the songs that have since come to mean something to me — standing in for people, places, or occurrences, when later, I did ponder their passing.

Everyday Music

  • Burn My Shadow and When Things Explode by UNKLE
  • Memoryhouse by Max Richter — I listened to this repeatedly at the time. I enjoyed its ghostly quality and its weaving of themes.
  • Ceremonials by Florence + The Machine — In particular, the song “No Light No Light” calls to mind my relationship with my significant other.
  • Fratras for Violin, String, and Percussion – Tabula Rasa by Arvo Pärt
  • Fevers and Mirrors by Bright Eyes
  • Drink the Sea by Glitch Mob — which to me sounds like a soundtrack to a science fiction, robotic Western.

Diegetic Music

  • I mention a German waltz playing in the entry entitled “Second Thoughts”. That was Franz Schubert’s Kupelwieser Waltz.
  • I play a piano arrangement of “Where is my mind” by the Pixies in “Therapy”
  • In “Steam”, I am quite certain I was listening to a playlist that contained the collected works of Imogen Heap, Mazzy Star, Ani DiFranco, and Tori Amos.
  • I recall that the mall was looping Bing Crosby Holiday music for most of that season.
  • “With a Twist” had me requesting the song “Blue Jeans” by Lana Del Ray
  • In “Neighbors” I was grumbling my way through Candyass by Orgy
  • During the entry “Curiosity” I terrorized Porter with the “Violin Fragment” from the Memoryhouse album.
  • Several songs played throughout my time at the “Speakeasy”, but I  mention several, or rather, several anchored me in that place. Firstly, the song I heard as I walked in: “I Wanna Dance With You” by Live. Secondly, the Metallica cover requested by Chef, was “Nothing Else Matters” by Lissie, and shortly after that played a cover of “Skinny Love” by Birdy.
  • The soundtrack I reference in the entry “Teeth” is to the film Red Riding Hood — it is an appalling film.

If you catch one I cannot recall, please do message me here and I will be sure to give details as best as I can recall.

Newer Music

As I have edited this text (Yes, I edited. Everyone should edit — especially those who type while endowed with claws that retract and extend with pressure. But aside from that, I had to alter my work so that no details could lead a person to a place or time that might intersect with my actual life. Why? I have learned that lesson the hard way, but that is another story), I have listened to music, been given songs, been played songs by my friends that remind them of things. Here is that list.

  • Do I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys, was played for me by Chef
  • Black Out Days by Phantagram
  • Way Down We Go by Kaleo
  • Roads by Portishead
  • Hozier’s self-titled album
  • Bring Me The Disco King (Loner Mix) by David Bowie
  • Lanterns (album)  by Son Lux — the song “Lanterns Lit” always plays through my mind when I think of Juliet
  • You’re the One The I Want by Lo Fang
  • This Bitter Earth by Dinah Washington and Max Richter — I listen to this song when I am feeling somewhat morose.
  • Medicine by Daughter
  • Hurricane by MSMR
  • Demons by Jasmine Thompson
  • I Need Never Get Old by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Do be assured, I am always hungry for new music. If you have something new for me to taste, please do leave it in a message.