09/2/13

Stranger Aeons – By Mike Limatoc

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Tonight we bring you a tale of existentialism crafted by our talented author Mike Limatoc.

Stranger Aeons

The parking was nearly barren, save for a few lonely cars parked in the stalls marked ‘Reserved Staff Only’. I could hear a siren echoing somewhere in the distance, knowing in my mind that with the course of current events, it was all to no avail. The glass sliding doors beckoned me inside as I stepped into their view. There was no one initially there to greet me, as there had been so ample a staff just a few short months back. I made my way over to the main desk in the lobby, and began to scratch my name onto the sign-in sheet on the counter. A soft feminine hand met my shoulder.
“Mr. Hawthorne, there’s no need to sign in. I’ll take you right to him.” The nurse was wearing a typical blue set of medical attire, relatively stain free of blood and what else I would expect her to be encountering on a normal basis. She led the way down a long, barren hallway, littered with bits of paper and sheets that lay crumpled across the floor. Each and every room we passed was empty, void of that normal electrical hum that you could hear from a proper room of that nature. “We’re the last hospital in the state that’s still in operation.” Her eyes were empty, staring straightforward as she spoke to me. “There doesn’t seem to be much of a point anymore, not since everything started happening. Not since, he arrived.” She finally locked gazes with me, a forlorn look taking over right when we arrived at the proper door. “You’re the first visitor here this whole month. And you’re still the only one that visits him.” I nodded at her, smiling as I left her standing alone in the hallway, closing the door of the room behind me.
The slow and steady beep of a heart monitor sounded as I entered. I had to breathe deep and control my own heart from going out of control with the fear that started to grip my bones. The same fear we all feel when we meet or experience him for the first time. I wondered when the world would ever see him again, then I turned the corner of the room and saw him myself.
He was thinner than the last time I saw him, a series of tubes and wires jutting from gaunt wrists and bone-thin arms. He was set at an angle against the bed, sitting up just slightly as to not allow any fluid to flood his lungs. Lungs. I wasn’t even sure if he had lungs. He barely skin, if you wanted to even call it that. At times, he was just a skeleton, a, jeering skull peering out from where his face should have been. At others, he was simply human. It all depended on how he wanted you to see him. But now, he just lay on the hospital bed, harsh breaths rasping forth from his mouth every few seconds. His black wings outstretched and perched open beside him, ebony feathers scattered amidst the life support machines. Now, he was just another dying man. He turned his hollow eyes to glare at me.
“There was another plane crash today,” I said under my breath, raising it only when he slowly nodded. “Somewhere in Pennsylvania. Not a single casualty. The plane itself was just a smear on some farmhouse field. Not much more to be said of all the passengers.” I tried to keep the image out of my head before the words even escaped my lips. “They were all still alive. Every one of them. Every twitching piece, every screaming severed face. The first responders tore their own ears off. They couldn’t handle the voices or the screams.”
“How long has it been?” He breathed in as he spoke, coughing out before he continued. “Since I’ve been here?”
“A month.” I had to stop myself from saying more, from remembering all that had happened in that short time to throw the entire world into turmoil. All because of this one man. If you wanted to even call him only a man. “What happens when we lose you?” There was a sound like grinding and grating stones. It was the short following breaths that made me realize he was laughing. I saw his face again like I had seen it the first time: a fleshless, leering skeletal thing that made my flesh crawl.
“Only now are you realizing how much you need me around. Isn’t it sad, that the things we discover we need are only after a time of loss?” Damn it was he right, but in a way I’d never thought anyone could be or would be ever again. We needed him. He made our daily lives worthwhile, gave us meaning where we might only struggle to find it in other places. Perhaps that’s why the world and society as a whole had crumbled in on itself without him, without him, life no longer had any purpose.
“So what happens when the world can’t take any more of this? When the old just keep getting older. When suicides go unaccomplished. When car accidents, train wrecks, terrorist attacks and wars all come up fruitless in their efforts. What happens then? What happens?” I was shouting at him. I never meant to shout. I was sick, inside and out. Sick. With guilt. He answered my emotional outburst with a single, skeletal smile.
“You tell me. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to thank the real reason for this glorious mess. Whoever it was that stole my power, he’s the cause of all this. You need me.” My stomach turned in on itself again, twisting and turning at what I’d done to the entire world. What I’d sentenced all of us to. How I’d damned all of humanity. “You’ve always needed me.” His voice trailed off into a harsh whisper, the bony jaw of his face going slack. The heart monitor ran into a steady tone.
And then and there, I watched Death die.

08/6/13

The Watcher in the Reef – By Mike Limatoc

The path

Dreams are a reality that all of us experience. Regardless of the setting, the people, or how crazy the situation, we all have our own stories to tell from the dreams we’ve had over the years. This segment is meant to expand your consciousness, to open your mind and let your own dreams flood this world and change our own reality. For these are worlds that I have visited in my own mind and sleep, that I share with you. I am the Wanderer of Dreams.

The Watcher in the Reef

Ever since I was a little girl, the ocean has been an important aspect of my life. The salty smell of sea air, the funny way sand felt between my toes, and the soothing, peaceful sound of the waves as they crashed ashore were all poetry in motion for me. Now don’t just assume that I’m some stereotypical, slacker surfer girl that jumps every wave she sees. No; my place is and has always been beneath the waves.

I remember I was six when my uncle took me snorkeling for the first time. I still revel in those first, exploratory moments: the magnificent colors of all the fish and how graceful they danced across the reef, the sheer awe that there was so much beneath the surface that not many people got to see. It was unspoiled by people, one of the purest forms of natural beauty. When I was ten, my mother bought me my first aquarium. Of course I made it into a salt water aquarium. I reeled at the fact that I could know take a piece of my underwater sanctuary home with me. First came the hermit crabs: easy enough to collect, plucked from the tide pools by delicate hands like plentiful ripe fruit. As I got older, my collection skills sharpened exponentially. I began to catch yellow tangs, six-lined and Christmas wrasses, and even managed the occasional raccoon butterfly fish. By the time I was twelve, I was an expert aquarist, as skilled with a catch net as an artist with his brush. I had five aquariums, each of them at least fifty five gallons strong. Every single fish and invertebrate in my collection I had caught with my own hands; I had no need to visit a pet store. My friends would tease that I had more specimens in my collection than the zoo and the local aquarium combined. I would just smile. I’m glad they admired my miniature family.

As anyone knows, nature takes it toll on human flesh, regardless of the environment. Mine’s was no different. Being in the sun for that long, I regularly got either horrible sunburns or magnificent tans. My mother used to tease me that I looked nothing like my Japanese ancestry, more akin in skin tone to a sea lion than a person. I laughed it off, but oh how much better it would’ve been to be a seal. More careless, and carefree. Even more obvious were the scars I received on my arms and legs from snorkeling so close to the reef. It was inevitable: if you swim near rocks, you’re gonna get cut up. People used to tell me how awful they must have been, but I found them much more positive. For me, the cuts and scrapes were marks of pride, as if the reef had felt comfortable enough to reach out and caress my skin. They were much more than scars, they were badges of honor.

I remember the day I first came out here, however long ago it was. The morning started just like any other. I got up early, as the sun was rising. Beautiful, clear sky. Cloudless. Perfect. First I did was check the tide charts on my calendar. I saw was that it was a full moon that night. The waves were going to be a bit rough. The curve in the chart pointed that it was best to go in just after noon. I gathered all my buckets, filled to the brim with everything I needed to enter my realm beneath the waves. Snorkels and masks, heavy nylon gloves (for turning over rocks), rubber-soled reef walkers, a myriad of nets, even special wax ear plugs to keep the water out of my ears. With one fell sweep, I tossed all of it in the back of my rusty old pickup truck and drove off.

After twenty minutes or so of driving, I reached what I used to call the “Jungle Path”. The only way to get to my favorite diving spot. It was overgrown on all sides with spreading vines and groping tree branches. Anyone that wasn’t used to that path would’ve probably gotten the shit scared out of them. I used to welcome the sight of those plants, challenging them to do their best to keep me away from my second home. Managing to grab a hold of all those buckets at once, I made my way through the foliage and towards freedom.

That day, the journey seemed so much longer than normal, the greenery much thicker and more difficult to traverse. It was strange. I know now why that was so, but first I must continue my tale for you. While I still can. After an eternity of searching and pressing onward, I had finally made it to the clearing. Sunlight burst forth as I parted that last annoying tree, nearly causing me to drop my buckets as I tried to shield my eyes. Then I saw it, exactly what I had longed for. There, in front of me, was the clear blue body of water that I craved to enter. Surprisingly enough, despite my earlier prediction and research, there were no waves. No surf. No rough waters. Just the calm glassy surface that I was eager to dive beneath. After setting my buckets down on a comfortable spot in the sand, I pulled the gloves over my scarred, delicate hands and strapped the floating catch bucket to my wrist. Tightening the mask over my face and putting the snorkel into my mouth, I nearly sprinted to the paradise before me.
The water was so wonderfully warm as I nose dived into it. It was so clear, I swore I was not beneath the waves, but above them in the sunny noon air. The only thing that convinced me I was underwater were the fishes. There was an array the likes of which I had never seen before in one single location. It was as though I were watching a rainbow swim before me, flashing, darting, all in unison. There were orange shouldered tangs, the stark royal blues of imperial angel fish, fire red tomato clownfish, the chocolate and white spotted Harlequin Sweetlips and others I had never even seen before. All of these fish shouldn’t have even been in the same environment! But I didn’t realize that at first, the beauty was too captivating for my then simple mind to comprehend the absurdity. It was as though they were hypnotizing me, drawing me further into the depths before me.

I remember emerging from the water, catch bucket in hand, finally realizing that I had not caught a single thing in my awestruck stupor. Then, it hit me hard, with the horrifying speed of a runaway swordfish on cocaine. A stench like I had never experienced before, and doubt I will again in my current state. Something was rotting, and had been for awhile. Clenching my nose shut, I shielded my eyes from the sun with my other hand and searched the rocky protrusions above the water to see if I could discover the source of my nausea. There, I saw something. On one of the rocks a few yards away, just on the edge of the beach. A lump of something, flesh maybe? I remember walking closer, the stench getting stronger with each step. The horror is still with me today. As I made my way closer, I realized, to my relief, that it was not the corpse of a human being. That would’ve probably driven me to the point of insanity, oh the irony! No it wasn’t a human body. From what I could make out, it looked like it used to be rather large tiger shark. Probably about eight feet from nose to tail fin. Well, whatever was left of it. It had to have to been there for at least a month, probably longer, much longer. The flesh that was left was already falling down in horrid strings, like a macabre curtain covering pallid insides. Wait. I remember now. Something else was off about that shark. Oh, how could I have forgotten? Yes it was rotten and had probably been attacked by scavengers and like, but one thing stood out above all else. Its body cavity. The skin looked like it had been ripped completely clean from the belly, and all of its internal organs had been removed, and presumably devoured. Yes this could have been easily done by stray dogs or sea birds, but I had never seen it done so cleanly. Strange. How did I forget that?

Something nearby caught my attention almost immediately after I had found the shark. Another rock formation near by, but this one didn’t seem quite right. It looked different. I still can’t describe it, but none of the other rocks in the area were like this one. And when I turned back to examine the remains again, I felt an unnerving twinge on the back of my neck. Like I was being watched. Intently. By a presence greater than any other I’d felt in my life before that. And I remember now, when I turned around to see what it was, nothing. There was nothing behind me. The strange stone was gone. I abandoned my curiosity for the corpse, grabbed my things and ran as fast I could back towards the path.

It felt as though I had been running for hours. The jungle never seemed to end, trees reaching out to mock me, pointing in all directions as if trying to throw me off the course. And then I finally saw it: an opening, sunlight reaching through and penetrating into the eternal darkness around me. I ran even faster, hope filling my heart that my escape was nearly at its end. When I broke through into that clearing, what I saw nearly drove me to madness. I was back. At the same beach I had tried to escape from. I remember my mind whirling in confusion. Had I turned around by accident? Did the thick foliage confuse my direction? Did I really go in a circle? I saw the sun slowly setting in the distance. Then all I saw was darkness.

The beach was still in front of me, in a strange midnight glow caused by the full moon in the black sky above. I slowly lifted myself from where I had fallen in my confusion. Despite it be being so late, I remember being able to see almost everything around me, and it was what I saw next that may have caused my insanity. There in the shallow water, not but ten feet in front of me, was the odd stone again, centered directly in my field of vision. But this time, it was different. It was moving. Slowly, it rose from the shimmering blue water, a shapeless mass against the calm sea. It was frighteningly humanoid, with the exception of an enormous bulbous head that pulsed slowly in the darkness around it. Two glowing white spheres appeared, probably its eyes. I then felt the strangest sensation. My thoughts weren’t my own anymore. I knew why this being was here: it was protecting the reef it called its home. And it was calling to me, beckoning for me to join its unending quest. That’s where my mind turned, I think. But I can’t be sure.

I awoke suddenly, nearly being blinded by the mid-day sun. Apparently, I had blacked out and fallen into the sand. Maybe it had all been a nightmare, a strange concoction of the mind and my surroundings. Oh how I sometimes wish now that had been true. I shook off what I thought to be merely a dream, geared myself once again, and dove into the water. The same array of magnificent fish surrounded me once more and I felt at peace with all of them. I saw, in the open water, a blue ribbon moray eel, a very rare find, to say the least. Let alone swimming freely in water. I swam after it and managed to corner the little guy in an odd rock formation. When I looked up to follow his movements, the reef had a surreal nature about it. I abandoned my quest for the eel and turned my focus to the rock he had just swam past. The shape, the texture, everything about the protrusion I was touching told me the same thing. I was looking at a human skull. But I knew that couldn’t be, it was attached to the reef, just another part growing out of the now dead coral, itself even covered in algae and other reef life. I even tried to pry it free, thinking maybe it was just stuck in. No, it couldn’t be. It was just another piece of rock that dotted the reef. I swam off, confused and a little creeped out. A shiver raced up my spine, and a familiar thought entered my head. Was I being watched again?

I emerged from the water empty handed again, freeing my catch bucket from its payload of nothing but sea water. I removed my mask and snorkel and put them back into one of the larger buckets. Looking over to the horizon, I finally realized just how long I had been out; the sun was already beginning to set. I turned back to the reef, and there, directly in front of me yet again, was that same strange stone from before. Fear gripped me and I froze in place, trembling, knowing all too well what was coming next. It rose slowly out of the water, just like in my dream. But this time was different; I could see all of it. The creature was tall, seven or eight feet out of the water with still more beneath the serene surface. Its skin was patched with enormous, grotesque barnacles, breaching in and out of their bone colored shells. What I thought to be a humanoid form in my dream was actually four pillar-like tentacles that held it so high in the air. The being’s bulbous head throbbed like a heart torn from a recently dead cadaver, its slick skin reflecting the red-orange twilight sun. Those eyes. I remember first seeing those pasty white eyes. No pupil. No expression. Just milky globes beckoning me closer. Against my will, I began to slowly walk forward, towards this grotesque source of my dread. The cool ocean water quickly covered my feet as I made my way closer and closer. Screaming in terror deep inside my mind, I met the creature, face to face, eye to eye, and went on to embrace its slimy form. I remember now, becoming one with the protector of my true home.

Now here I am. A part of what I always was. I am the reef, and the reef is me. My bones have long since abandoned me, becoming drawn to become a part of the rocks that dot the area of my watery abode. My eyes have long since lost their emotion, glistening now like pearls of the sea. My arms and legs now dangle around me like a twisted curtain of malformed flesh. I am perfection. I now guard from whence I once stole for my own. All the creatures of this reef, this sanctuary, now turn to me for protection.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because I’ve seen you. I remember when I was like you. When I left the land to explore the sea. This is a warning. Take only what you need. Leave the precious things as they be. For you are under the gaze of the soulless eyes of the watcher in the reef. All life has come from the ocean, and someday there it shall return. Some, sooner rather than later. Perhaps one day, you will find your place. Just as I have finally found mine.

By Mike Limatoc

07/11/13

Neil Gaimans Non Autobiography Autobiography

Neil Gaiman's hometown of Portsmouth are to rename a road in honour of his writing career. The road leading down to the sea will be renamed The Ocean at the End of the Lane!

Neil Gaiman’s hometown of Portsmouth are to rename a road in honour of his writing career. The road leading down to the sea will be renamed The Ocean at the End of the Lane!

“When I was a child I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.”
– Maurice Sendak, in conversation with Art Spiegelman
.
The opening quote of Neil Gaiman’s Ocean At the End of the Lane sets the tone for the Non Autobiography Autobiography.

This non autobiography, is rather a journal entry of Neils first hand accounts when he was a child in the old country.
Much like a Hayao Miyazaki experience, the narratives throughout this book draw parallels with many of the challenges facing Hawaiiana lore in our new landscape: urbanization, cultural integration and Mythos relevancy.

The best books and movies, I feel, should leave you altered for the rest of your existence.
Much like the Zen quote:” A drop of ink into a pond forever changes the water and can never be removed.”

I cannot recommend this book enough.

06/16/13

Revolution Books Hawaii

Logo When one thinks of book stores in Hawaii, common images would be Hawaiiana, hiking maps, best eats, or tourist attractions. What about books on revolutionary commentary? Probably not. I am proud to say that we have such an establishment in our Aina. Today I interview one of the patrons of Revolution books who has been frequenting the store since the eighties .

What can you tell me about Revolution Books?

The store started in the 1970′s by Bob Avakian, exactly when, I’m not sure. But the first store was located in Kalihi. Since then they’ve moved around and are now located near Pucks Alley. I wouldn’t call it a franchise, however, they are related to other rev books in the states. How many are left, I’m also not sure, but there probably some still in existence in big cities like LA, and NYC. It is run by members of the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party )
The chairman of the party is Bob Avakian, who exiled himself to France? ” Bob is more than that: he’s an innovative and critical thinker who has taken Marxism to a new place; he’s a provocative commentator on everything from basketball to religion, doo-wop music to science and he’s a pit-bull fighter against oppression who’s kept both his solemn sense of purpose and his irrepressible sense of humor.”

What can you find in Revolution Books?

The bookstore carries RCP literature, Mao, Marx and Lenin literature and tons of other things on social issues. They also carry poetry books, do film showings and have discussions on current issues. Lots of stuff you can learn; you can gain a whole new perspective on imperialism and how it affects us all. They have T-shirts, posters and maybe kids’ books from the cultural revolution in China.
The store supports local issues as well, and in the past has been a gathering place for all activist, not just rcp members to meet up and make signs and plan out demonstrations etc…. Lots of info on domestic issues like women’s rights, abortion and immigration. The new perspectives really make you see clearer, like putting on glasses for the first time.

What are some of the example of film screenings?

    (Model Ballet: The White Haired Girl)

The Invisible War

Is there any academic support for bookstores in Hawaii?

Some professors at UH support the bookstore by recommending their students to buy their books there. It is overall a good place to have on our island, if just to get another opinion on issues.

Bookstores like Revolution Books in Hawaii are invaluable sources of unfiltered information.
Stop by and visit or attend one of their book reviews and or film screenings.


View Larger Map

Revolution Books Hawaii Website
Store Events

04/3/13

Ulukau the Hawaiian Electronic Library

Door to open The purpose of Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, is to make these resources available for the use, teaching, and revitalization of the Hawaiian language and for a broader and deeper understanding of Hawaiʻi.

Ulukau is a coined word given as the name of this web-based library. The word refers to unexplained supernatural interpretive powers. It is the hope of the authors of Ulukau that in the same way that unexplained supernatural interpretive powers can be divinely given to a person, so knowledge and understanding can come to the person who makes the effort to read the language and the words of this electronic library.

The backbone of the Ulukau is ran on the Greenstone open platform . Developed by with UNESCO support at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Links

The Ulukau Database

01/10/13

MO`O: DRAGONS OF HAWAI’I

Dragon-Eye-Sculpted-By-DonSimpson

Uncanny Hawaii is honored by an article submission from Hawaiian author Mike Limatoc on the Mo’o Dragons of Hawaii. Mike has dedicated his life to the research and study of Dragon lore.

When one conjures up images of Hawai`i in the mind, more often than not you see rolling white sand beaches covered from end to end in spanning beach lounge chairs and painfully sunburned visitors. Perhaps the skyline of Waikiki and the lanes of unending traffic that snake between the city’s cement obelisks to the modern day tourism trade. If you’re lucky enough, perhaps you’re able to envision the days of old, when royal ali`i walked tall and proud amidst their courts when Hawai`i was still untouched by the western world. But surely, the thought a fire-breathing, ageless reptile that guarded the land and ate humans on a whim never even came close to crossing your mind. No, never dragons in paradise. Right?

In fact, like many other cultures worldwide, the ancient Hawaiians also harbored myths and stories of dragons in their legends and oral histories. Perhaps they weren’t the knight-crunching devil beasts of the old world, or the benevolent water serpents of the far east, but they were indeed powerful creatures that were not to be trifled with. Because of the vast menagerie of cultures that have spanned the globe over the past few thousand years, let us begin at the beginning of beginnings, and define exactly what is a dragon.

Gentle Golden Dragon-pamela-m-steveson

The word ‘dragon’ in the English language comes from the Greek word draco which means ‘to guard’, bearing some grain of truth to the western dragon’s notoriety for protecting great hoards of treasure. While this term is applied generally to a number of creatures, great and powerful nonetheless, this behavior is not necessarily shared by all dragons on a culture spanning basis. For instance, the great feathered serpent-like dragons of South America were more akin to gods, and occasionally even demanded human sacrifices in their honor. So, to be fair and even within reason, the definition of a dragon in reference to our current topic can be read as follows: a chimeric creature, with mostly reptilian characteristics, that has a definitive innate ability for the supernatural, and a definable relationship with mankind, whether it be positive or negative. This generalized description covers the majority of dragon-like entities in any number of different cultures, from Japanese sea dragons to the great wyrms of the Celtic druids. But because we are being culturally specific as well, it is only logical to define the dragons of Hawai`i within the boundaries of their own linguistic nomenclature.

The Hawaiian word for dragon, in its most general sense, is Mo’o. While this term has been used throughout the centuries to define any number of creatures, from very real animals of immense proportions (such as large moray eels or particularly massive sea turtles and sharks), to natural landmarks that held cultural and legendary significance, its actual meaning can be defined as ‘lizard’, and it has been applied to several supernatural entities in the annals of Hawaiian legend. For instance, the goddess Hi`iaka is known to have slain several monsters, many of them Mo’o, most notably the mo’o whom she slain when he denied her entrance to the island of Oahu from its eastern shore, and whose tail tip she cast back into the sea once he was killed, creating the small island Mokolii, or modern day Chinaman’s Hat. The goddess is also known to have a fought a Mo’o witch, in human form, who was one of the first entities to attempt at impeding her path through the dream world to save the soul of her lost lover. This characteristic of the dragon being able to take on another physical form is shared by countless other cultures.

 Rick Sardinha-etsy-dragon-fossil

The Mo’o is also known to have an affinity for water, staking claims, to this day, on many of the freshwater bodies across the island of Oahu. This is another feature very common with the image of the dragon: being associated with the most important of all life-giving elements, water. Across Asia, dragons in multiple cultures were seen as protectors and givers of water at times of great need. Even in Europe, scaled beasts were commonly seen spewing forth great tumultuous spouts of water. But from where does this association arise? It’s theorized that the ancient Hawaiians may have carried these legends with them from their home of origin, which is also believed to be a coastal region of South America, which is home to several water-dwelling species of crocodilians. This could have easily lead to future legends of great lizards that dwelt in streams and ponds. Or perhaps, without written historical record, sailors from China or Japan made it as far as ancient Hawai`i, and shared their own culture’s legends with the natives, leading to a similar shared mythos. Or maybe, just maybe, there really were, and possibly still are, great slumbering dragons dwelling on the Hawaiian island chain, just waiting to see the light of day yet again.

Written by Mike Limatoc
Michael Limatoc studied English/Creative Writing at the University Of Hawaii.

Mike’s contact information