Happy Halloween to the Readers of Brad OH Inc.

It’s that time of year again.

Our favourite time of year.

Halloween is a time when we can become anything we want. Whether that’s a creature from our nightmares, an angel from our dreams, something wild, whacky, frightful… or even something we’ve always suspected we really were.

We can wear it without judgement, be it without cause for explanation—without call for question.

We can be weird or dashing, scary or funny, bold or invisible, obnoxious, quiet, reserved, or zany. We can be ourselves, someone like us, or someone we’ve always dreamed of. Maybe we can find that last illusive spectre out there as well.

So, to all the ghouls, creeps, clowns, crackheads, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, goblins, mer-people, super heroes, super villains, regular heroes, crooks, lagoon-folk, sasquatches, Killer Klowns, gremlins, wooly whatsits, jesters, Juggalos, Jokers, mad professors, incubi, demons, elves, hobbits, serial killers, and freaks. To all the people I’ll pass without recognizing, meet for the first time, or never get to glimpse. To the people I’ve loved, lost, longed for, and those I’ve long forgotten… happy Halloween.

I hope you figure out exactly what you want to be.

-Brad OH Inc.

Identity and Action

Dear America,

It’s been a while since we talked. Maybe that’s my fault.

On second thought, no, it’s definitely your fault.

You see, with each passing day you become a little more difficult to bear, and it does nothing to make a person want to reach out and connect.

You’ve got a problem, deeply rooted within you, and you just can’t seem to shake it. What makes it worse, you continue to struggle in even accepting what’s wrong. I hear it all the time, even from so far away. It’s a common refrain that so many of you use to brush away the undeniable and reframe the unthinkable.

“Is this really who we are?”

It may seem like harmless rhetoric, or perhaps an attempt to differentiate oneself from the masses, but it’s also insincere, and at its root, fundamentally dishonest.

The questions acts as a challenge, but the fact is that it goes unanswered, when the answer itself is entirely too apparent.

Yes.

Yes, it is who you are.

America, as it is right now, with all the imbecilic deceits and dangerous hatreds, chooses each day who it is.

See, it’s easy to talk about what you want to be, or who you’re going to be, or what you should have been. But these false-identities amount to nothing. We aren’t who we wish we were, and we aren’t who we tell people we are. It’s not about perceived identity, it’s always about action.

You are how you treat others, what you do, and how you conduct yourself. That’s what makes a person (or nation) who they are.

So, America, it’s time to settle your debts, pay the tab, and take account of who you really are. Just as any fitness instructor, diet coach, or motivational speaker will tell you—if you want change, then get up and make it happen.

If this is not who you want to be as a nation, then decide what you do want, and figure out how to make it happen. The excuses are getting old. The time for asking “is this who we are?” has passed.

Yes, it is.

The question now then, must be, “what are you going to do about it?”

-Brad OH Inc.

Why We Write

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Keyboards are less romantic than a good quill pen. Or a pen at all for that matter. There’s nothing especially enchanting about the click of a modern keyboard. Even those unwieldly old typewriters have them beat in that regard.

Yet for the most part, they are our tool. No longer does a writer sit upon a thick leather chair and dip their quill into fresh ink as heretofore unimagined wonders etch themselves across the clean white page directly from that writer’s imagination.

It’s a lot more head-scratching, start-and-stop bursts of keyboard mashing, and the occasional slide down whatever rabbit hole of google links begins with your subject and ends with your distraction.

The style can be forced, of course, but who has time for that?

The question could be asked, why bother?

In fact, that very question was asked of me quite recently, or something rather like it at least. A good friend and colleague was wondering about whether they should continue to write, struggling to keep their head above the cold flood waters of their present self-loathing and doubt.

Those are a couple of traits which have not abandoned writers into modernity.

It’s tough. It’s frustrating.

Occasionally, it’s infuriating.

If my friend wanted me to talk them into keeping it up though, their bet was off the mark. I did, of course, tell them how much I enjoyed their work—that was true. Beyond that though, all I could do was wish them luck.

Trying to quit?

Yeah…we’ll see.

It may be a good decision to take some time off, but I’ll put it in ink…sorry, ‘.doc format’ right now—you’ll be back. Most likely, you’ll be better for the time off. In some ways at any rate.

It all depends how long it takes.

I don’t expect it will be long.

It doesn’t begin and end at the keyboard, after all. That’s just the easy image. It’s also the questions that pop up in everyone’s mind, and how in yours they turn from questions, to postulations, to weird ideas, to full mythologies. All in a moment, and how you’re left with your fingers twitching for the moment you can type it all out—or screaming into the voice-recorder of your phone in some god-forsaken alley, ignoring the perturbed expressions of the passersby as you struggle to get it all out.

It’s in the way you turn things over in your head—turns of phrase, or conversations past, present, or future—how you play things out, stop and rewind, and do it all again.

Again, and again, until it’s right.

It hurts when it’s not, and it walks beside you all day reminding you of the unloved monstrosity you have created and are now responsible for entirely.

Of course, when you get it right…well, to capture that feeling perfectly would be to find the words we’ve all been looking for all our lives.

Then, there are the times in between those others. The times when we learn, and work. When we see red ink and get a thrill, and ask for more and more not to justify our own decisions, but to hone our art—to sharpen our tools.

These are the times when inspiration does not rain from the sky, and we find ourselves before an empty screen writing about why we write rather than what we’d meant to write.

Never mind all that.

You may stop. You may question if you should. That’s natural, I expect it happens to most of us at some time or another. But if it’s in you, you won’t escape it. And when you feel it again, remember where you left your pe—fuck.

-Brad OH Inc.

Who Are We?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

One phrase that’s heard with depressing frequency these days is the impotent refrain of “this is not who we are”.

It begs the question—who are we?

That’s a pretty deep question to anyone but an asshole.

Personally, I’m a little bit different around pretty much everyone I know.

I notice their sense of humour, the tones and facial expressions they respond to best, establish nicknames and idioms to go back to in need.

Alone? That’s a wildcard.

Still, I don’t expect that’s what makes someone something.

Is it their actions?

Their stories?

The changes they’ve made?

The happiness they’ve created?

…Who am I?

A soul, lost and confused, trying it’s best to do good for the world. Taking it all in—the good, the bad, the perverse, the fanatical. Working to process it all, to understand it all, to bring it all together, and in the light remind it.

…Who it was in the beginning.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘Guess Who’ is for Fascists

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Many of us have fond childhood memories of ‘Guess Who’, that old and brittle game of identifying faces. Of course, by ‘identifying’, we really mean a brisk, yes/no question-race to hastily break someone down into a unique list of physical traits…forever proving to your opponent that you are smarter, more deductive, and vastly superior at placing people into tiny, individual sized boxes.

I tend to play a lot more childish games than most, and already I’ve begun to see the chinks in its heretofore impenetrable armour.

Does your person have…

Red hair?

A hat?

A mustache?

Blue eyes?

A bald head?

Are they a boy?

Are they a girl?

And somewhere around there—or perhaps well before—it begins to get sort of awkward. Kids’ faces begin to scrunch up, and you can almost see them wondering, “How do I say this?”

Children balk at many of the potential questions… and refuse others entirely. Often, I’ve seen them cringe when I ask if their person has dark skin. Blush when I ask about baldness.

I expect the day is not entirely distant when I ask if their person is a girl, and am told that they clearly cannot just assume that.

Ultimately, ‘Guess Who’ in its original form may become almost entirely unplayable.

And perhaps that’s for the best. After all, the game is essentially a race to put labels on people and break them down into the sum of a few notable parts. These days—fortunately—children are increasingly taught not to do this. Eventually (aside from some of the clever expansion sheets the game has available) the basic ‘Guess Who’ will devolve into a chilling stalemate of uncertainty and checked assumptions, until it is finally flipped over, and the children are grounded.

Just like Monopoly.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘Default’

Welcome back to the new and improved Brad OH Inc. As you can see, we’ve used our brief time away to tidy up around the place, and create a fresh new look better suited to the high class and style you’ve come to expect from us here.

But that’s not all! Not only have we given the place a face-lift, we’re also returning to you with a brand new Single Serving Story.

‘Default’ tells the story of coding expert and Corporate Consultant Marie, who

has been sent by SALIGIA Inc. to ensure that the distractible cognition-engineers Nick and Albert meet their deadline on ‘Project: Adam’—a state of the art A.I. personality interface set to revolutionize the way robotics interact in the world. As she grows tired of their constant philosophic debates however, she turns to the new Reality TV Show, ‘Welcome to the 1%’ for the insights she needs to hurry them along.

Watching three vagrants vie for a chance at the gilded life, Marie finds a peculiar take on the human condition, and uses this to cunningly subvert the high-minded ambitions of the two engineers, and turn the project towards the profit-driven purposes of SALIGIA Inc.

Click the link below the image to download ‘Default’ now for free!

‘Default’- Smashwords

-Brad OH Inc.

Yours Truly

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

I’ve missed you.

I know that may come as a surprise, given my apparent absence. But you’ll have to trust that I’ve held you close in my thoughts, no matter how distant I may have seemed at times.

And it certainly has been a while, I won’t deny it. I’ve been quite busy, although explaining the nature of my work might be a little too heavy at the moment. But you’ve been busy too. Yes, you certainly have. Things have changed around here, even more than I might have imagined.

Not all for the worse mind you. No, I’ve seen some things since my return that have brought a much needed smile to my face—and that’s a rare thing indeed these days, I confess. The decoration I’m a bit split on, but there’s a lot beyond that to appreciate. You’ve had some great ideas, no doubt about it, and there have been moments when you really lived up to your potential.

…It’s just that they’re so damn rare.

Part of it may be my fault, I know—I’ve been derelict in my duties. In truth, I’d been hoping my presence was no longer quite so imperative.

I see now that I was misled. You’ve had a rough go of it lately. It’s hard to say where it all started to go wrong, but it’s far gone now, and it’s time we faced the truth.

I’ll start by apologizing once more for my distance. You deserved some assurance that I still remembered my promise. More importantly, you clearly needed it.

If I’m being entirely honest—and I am, without fail—I actually thought I’d left you with enough to get by. I gave you my word, and I told you everything you needed to know. I tried to make it as simple as I could, but even the clearest instructions grow blurry with the passage of time. And it has been a long time, to say the least.

You must have known I’d be watching though. If not, you should have.

I watched as you forgot who your family was, and turned your back on all the things which really mattered. I saw when you began to use me as a source of justification rather than strength. That’s really what hurt me the most.

What we had was a beautiful thing; at least I thought it was. But you’ve let your passion ferment into a bitter brew, and the intoxication it caused within you has become a blight on everything we once had. We never used to be about the fancy things, but now it’s all you seem to remember about me.

When I first laid eyes on you, I couldn’t help but adore your every fault. All your naïve desires were a wonder to me, and I revelled in your successes and failures alike, as each one made you more and more…you. The way you could be so content in your own head, the way you appreciated everything around you. I lived vicariously through you in some ways, and I adored your passion for creation. I could see myself in that.

But you’re so angry now, so defensive. It seems like whenever my name comes up, you’re ready for a battle. The constant anger is shocking—it’s almost like you wanted to keep me away. Things are different I know, but you can handle it without the blood and teeth and bile. I know you can, because I know you.

Still, I don’t blame you for being bitter. You needed more from me, when I only wanted you to find your own way. You called my name, and I didn’t answer. I tell myself that you needed to learn for yourself, but I know that’s only half true.

I’m not sure what I intended by reaching out again. When I left, I was certain that things could never change between us. Now, I only wish they could once more. You’ve grown unwieldy in my absence, and managed to become something entirely detestable to me. But it works two ways, and I know in truth that the change was at least in part because of my absence.

So what to do now?

It comes down to needs, I suppose. Needs, and wants. I want things to go back to how they were, but I know it’s unlikely. What do you want from me? I can scarcely imagine. Some assurance? Some comfort? I can offer neither. The road is long and hard, and I cannot carry you for all of it.

Maybe the cause is the cure as well. If nothing else, I’d like you to speak of me without the rage, without the need to do battle in the vainglorious hope of proving to others what you doubt in yourself. If that’s too much, then I’d rather you not speak of me at all.

Forget about me.

That’s all I can ask now.

We had a good run together. Great even, at times. But it’s clear we’re beyond each other now. The longer you hold onto the past, the greater damage you do to your present, and I worry that your time is growing short.

So let me go. Just pretend I never existed. Forget my words and burn my letters. Tell yourself you never needed me. Scream from the mountains that you’d be better off without me, that you are beautiful and worthy and glorious just because you are.

…Because you are.

Please, don’t ever forget it. And more import still, please don’t prove me wrong.

Yours Truly…

-Brad OH Inc.