Wall of Fire ignites on Nov. 5, 2019

What would you walk through fire for…

Cover design: Aaron Bilawchuk & Emily Pratt

November 5, 2019

Terrace VII: Wall of Fire

By Robert Bose & Sarah L. Johnson

Welcome to the Seventh Terrace of Dante’s tower of Purgatory. Here, in darkness lit only by a wall of flame, we find souls enslaved by the sin of lust. Desire, curdled by madness and desperation. From a pair of crazy-in-love criminals on a scavenger hunt at the outskirts of Hell, to a lonely custodian working in a love doll brothel, to a sinister lingerie boutique hidden behind a red door. Lust is a great and terrible thing, and this collection of dark tales follows a mere handful of the many paths leading to the wall of fire.

Ultra Trail Running Alphabet

Here in Purgatory our idea of fun is to head out to the wilderness and run ourselves just about to death. We did a lot this season with Frozen Ass 50, River Revenge, Canadian Death Race, and Lost Soul Ultra. Trail racing is a form of penance. A cleansing. Atonement for sins committed and those we hope to commit. So, in the tradition of Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies, we offer you an alphabetical introduction to this grand and gruesome sport.

A is for Al, loudly listening to Tool

B is for Betty, chafed by wet wool

C is for Chidi, with tape on her shin

D is for Dave, who quits if he can’t win

E is for Emily, swallowed by mud

F is for Francisco, puking black crud

G is for Gord, with his broken headlight

H is for Helen, vanished in the night

I is for Ian, who gave a cactus a hug

J is for Julie, stung by a bug

K is for Karen, who crashed down a hill

L is for Larry, speared by porcupine quills

M is for Maria, lubing her crotch

N is for Nasir, and his damn beeping watch

O is for Odessa, with blackened toes

P is for Peng, who shot Gu up his nose

Q is for Quentin, who cheered “You’re almost there!” with 70km to go. He’s dead now. True story. And back to the rhymes…

R is for Rob, slashed by barbed wire

S is for Steve, peeing blood and fire

T is for Trace, who led you way off course

U is for Una, eaten by a horse

V is for Vikram, shot as a duck

W is for Wilma, in a port-a-potty stuck

X is for Xeno, blistered and red

Z is for Zelda, who can rest when she’s dead

Detonation #1 – Embracing Auto-correct for Fun & Profit

Navigating Life in a Literary Minefield

Warning: Explicit language and mature themes. If you’re offended by such things, you might want to venture elsewhere.

***

We’ve all be there. One moment you’re slamming away on the keyboard, a trickle of bottom-self Bourbon leaking down your chin, when you stop to read your last chunk of dialog.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Harris, Katie won’t be at school today. She got dick yesterday and spent the evening bent over the toilet.”

Hmm, you think, both synapses misfiring in sympathy with the piece of shit 2001 Pontiac Aztek parked outside the mouldering, rat infested writer’s pad you inhabit. Hmm. There’s something about those words that aren’t… quite right. You realize what’s happened, of course, by the fifth re-read. Katie wasn’t technically bent over the toilet; she was leaning her head against the seat so her crazy Rapunzel hair wouldn’t end up soaking in vomit or flushed. And technically, given your sketchy as fuck outline, it’s Saturday morning and thus no school.

But still. Hmm.

You hmm a lot these days, cylinders spitting and sputtering, so close to compression, yet producing little more than black, oily smoke. Your fingers deform the red Solo cup left over from your bestie’s Solstice smudge party and you take a sip of the rotgut and grimace, knowing your feeble mind is missing the obvious.

Only one thing to do: what every responsible Hemmingway wannabe does in a situation like this. You wrap a ribbon around the troublesome prose and fire it to your closest writer compadre. And wait.

The response is immediate. “Lol.”

“What?”

“Brings me back to when you wrote all those Penthouse Letters in college. Awesome.”

“Uh, thanks,” you reply, hastily re-reading for the sixth time and finally catching the elusive switcheroo your firmware refuses to acknowledge.

You select the word and type in the intended adjective, watch it magically revert to it’s erotic alternative, and mash your face into the keyboard.

***

Auto-correct is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, if you’re using a heavy-duty word processor or some ancient nostalgia relic like WordStar, it’s probably not a huge issue, but if you write on your phone or tablet, using the same learning algorithms you sext with, it’s an inevitable fact of life.

Most of the time you’ll get some sort of bullshit gibberish, or wildly obvious replacement. You groan or shake a fist at the gods or even laugh, if it’s silly enough. And you fix it, hoping it’ll stick.

So what if I told you there’s a better way?

What if I told you to embrace your worst auto-correct transgressions and run with them? Because face it, most writing is dreary. Literary. Memoirs and poetry. It desires spice. Requires spice. Nobody wants to read boring crap, unless they are old or responsible for grants specific to non-commercializable artistic ventures. Your subconscious yearns for more. The algorithms designed by a thousand horny nerds yearn for more. You just need to give in, embrace it.

Look at this sad, bland throwaway:

Billy wiped his forehead with a soiled handkerchief, reached down between his scuffed knees, and jammed his hand into the roiling muck bucket.

Or this gem:

Willy wiped his forehead with a soiled handkerchief, reached down between his scuffed knees, and jammed his hand into the roiling fuck puppet.

Yeah. I thought so.

Billy, the poor orphan, abandoned on the doorstep of Conception Abbey and forced into menial drudgery suddenly becomes Willy, a rough and tumble sort of fellow, going all in with his insatiable Factory girlfriend. Maybe you won’t win any awards, but it’ll pop. 

Screw the red pill. Blue all the way baby. Dive head first into that rabbit hole and see where the twisted tunnel leads you. You wont’ be sorry.