In the House of the Law

June 15, 2019

In House of the Law in Osten on the border of the Bremid Empire, Gedreel paced back and forth. She was so anxious that she found herself practically shaking apart. The guards gave her the side eye and she decided to stay absolutely still. She briefly considered waiting out front but thought that might now look suspicious so she tried to hold it together. She had always been a good girl and she was rarely in a House of Law. She had been raised in the temple by the Order, a little sheltered maybe but walking the true path. She knew that she had done nothing wrong so why was she nervous? At least she was reasonably sure she was innocent.

She was in the middle of cataloging her every past action when Cherish strolled out from the holding cell area, escorted by another guard. Gedreel immediately forgot where she was and ran to Cherish and hugged her close.

“Oh, Cherish! I am so glad that you are alright,” she said and then paused. “You are alright, right?”

Cherish sighed but smiled. “I’m fine, Geddy,” she said. “I’m over the moon glad to see you but you didn’t have to come here for me.” She started to gently guide Gedreel from the building.

“Wait!” Gedreel said and stayed rooted to the spot. She held Cherish at arm’s length and inspected her thoroughly. Cherish had all of her fingers and toes, two legs, two arms, her tail, one blue eye, and one red eye. One of her horns was broken but Gedreel knew it had been that way when she met Cherish. Cherish refused to fix it no matter what Gedreel offered. Then Gedreel spotted the bruise just behind Cherish’s left ear. She gasped and gently laid her hand on it and healed her skin back to its usual crimson hue. She shot the guards a dirty look and she was about to say something nasty to them when Cherish pushed her outside.

“Relax Geddy,” Cherish said. “I’m fine.”

“But they hit you!” GEdreel yelled before suddenly realizing her loud volume. “They shouldn’t hit you.”

“On that point, we can both agree,” Cherish said. “And yet that’s what they do sometimes when they arrest people.”

“Why aren’t you angrier?” Gedreel asked. “I would be angry.”

“I was angry the first three times,” Cherish said. “After that, you figure out that it’s pointless to get angry when bitter will do just fine.”

“What were you even arrested for?” Gedreel asked.

“I was arrested for being a Tiefling, same as always,” Cherish said. “Same old song and dance.”

“But you were born that way,” Gedreel said. “Tiefling blood does not equate to automatic guilt.”

“I know that,” Cherish said. “and you know that but plenty of people can’t seem to grasp that.”

“But you were a member of the Queensguard of Deneia!” Gedreel said. “Your honor is beyond reproach.”

Cherish shook her head. “That’s not exactly a point in my favor in these small towns,” she said. “Being a bodyguard in a government controlled by my kind. Most tell me to just go back there.”

Gedreel gasped again and grabbed Cherish’s hand. “But you can’t go back there!” She said. “Your uncle said he would kill you!”

“They wouldn’t care, Geddy,” Cherish said. “I think you care enough for all of us who don’t care.”

“Last time we met, you said I care too much,” Gedreel said.

“I was wrong,” Cherish said. “We need people who care like you. I need people who care.”

“I do care!” Gedreel said. “You know I do.”

“Why are you here, Geddy?” Cherish asked. “Not that I’m complaining but how did you hear about my arrest? How did you know I was here?”

“Holy Lathander sent me a vision, a message to come and get you,” Gedreel said

“I didn’t know you got visions,” Cherish said. “You never got visions back in Deneia.”

“This was my first one,” Gedreel said, her eyes were bright and merry. “It was exciting.”

“Your first vision sent you to me?” Cherish asked. “Why? Why would Lathander send you to me?”

“I think that he means for us to be together for some purpose,” Gedreel said. “I think we’re meant to help people by defeating a great evil.”

“A great evil?” Cherish asked. “You I can understand but me? Really?”

“Yes,” Gedreel said. “Also I think Lathander has blessed my proposal of marriage.”

Cherish smirked. “Geddy! Are you proposing to me?”

Gedreel’s eyes widened and she blushed furiously. “I meant that to be a grander romantic gesture!”

“It was fine,” Cherish said with a smile. “Very romantic. Very you.”

Gedreel took a deep breath. “Cherish Westera Goldsong, we have known each other for so long and though our paths have pulled apart, fate and the gods above have brought us back together. I have thought of you every day that we were apart. Now that we are together again, I do not want to leave you ever again. Cherish will you–“

This was the point where Cherish kissed Gedreel. They kissed for a long, long time. They kissed until they had to come up for air. They smiled at each other and Cherish dragged Gedreel off to an inn to celebrate.

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Media Update 19.6.13

June 13, 2019


Good Omens

I am a big Neil Gaiman fan but unfortunately, I have only read one Terry Pratchett book so far and it was the first Discworld book. I have not read Good Omens yet but I figured I would watch the show first to get a feel for it. I love the world-building of both authors. Gaiman also has a knack for taking mythical figures and making them very accessible (I was going to say human but no). This is the tale of an angel and a demon who are trying to stop Armageddon. David Tennant plays Crowley, the fallen angel who never really meant to fall. Michael Sheen plays Aziraphale, a pleasant but subversive angel. Both of them have been stuck on Earth since Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden and they have adjusted to human life. They have struggled to work as agents of their respective sides while trying to maintain a friendship as well. The strength of the show is the chemistry between these two and it is so great. I really also like the performances by John Hamm, Michael McKean, and Adria Arjona. Adria Arjona, in particular, is funny and gorgeous. This show almost qualifies for Pride if the shippers got their way. I definitely recommend it.


Siempre Brujo

This is an interesting show. It is a Spanish-language show produced in Colombia. It is set in Cartagena, Colombia during two different eras. One era is during the late 1600s and the other is in our present. A young slave (who is also a pureblood witch) is sent on a mission to the future and must navigate 2019 without knowledge of all of our technology but with magic powers. Thankfully, she can speak Spanish well enough to adjust to modern society. The show is incredibly interesting in that it shows the inherent difficulties of time travel that I did not even think about. For example, to accomplish her mission in 2019, she has to find somebody within a geographic region. The travel alone would have taken weeks in her time but could take her hours if she could figure it out. The show seems really smart to me so far in how it deals with Fantasy but also race relations and class warfare. We get to see Carmen (the lead) on her mission in the present but we also see many flashbacks which inform us about who she is. It is a similar structure to Once Upon a Time. Angely Gavira plays the lead and she has such a great innocence to her but also a quiet strength that will be fun to watch. I definitely recommend it in the original Spanish and not the dub.


Season of the Witch

I am a fan of Nicolas Cage movies because even when they are bad, his performance is memorable and either interesting or insane. He puts his all into every movie role he has ever had and it shows. In addition, this movie has Ron Perlman in it. I will just about watch anything he is in after loving him in Blade 2 and the Hellboy franchise. In this movie, they are even best friends and comrades in arms so a lot of the movie is basically a medieval buddy cop film starring those two. Except it is also about a group of men transporting an accused witch to lift a curse. It allows both men to interact with a lot of people and really, that was all I wanted. It is a simple story told in a simple way and that is perfectly fine. Its main purpose is to explore the relationship between those who worship God and the Church and the conflict between the two. It is nothing special but I recommend it as a good movie to watch in the background.

Music of the Week:
The Marías – Baby One More Time

Oliver Tree – Miracle Man

Avril Lavigne feat. Nicki Minaj – Dumb Blonde

Young M.A “Bake Freestyle”

Wind Rose – Diggy Diggy Hole

 

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Witches”
– Yes, this post is late but it is still Thursday.
– I finished Tuca and Bertie Season 1
– I started Game of Thrones Season 3
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3

Pride 2019

June 10, 2019

A lot of cities had their pride parades this past weekend but my hometown and current home Baltimore is having Pride this coming weekend. I have always been an ally to everyone under the banner of “Other” and this includes everybody under the banner of LGBTQ+. That was how I was raised, to be kind and think well of other people especially if they are not trying to hurt anybody. My mother came from a tolerant family in the American South that shunned racism. I went to school for twelve years at a Quaker school which taught love and acceptance for all. In high school, I entered the world of theater which was generally more open-minded than the rest of the world. I met the first gay people I knew of here. Of course, I may have met many gay people previously but it was the nineties and people were heavily closeted.

When I went to college, I met even more people from the beautiful spectrum of humanity. I was introduced to gay culture and my mind was opened even more. I worked professionally in theater for five more years and I met more gay people. I met so many different people over the years. I also read a lot of books and watched a lot of content. It all helped form my feelings on the whole LGBTQ+ community. It just goes to my further my constant argument that exposure helps breed love and peace. Ignorance breeds hate. If you listen to the message that Pride sends out, it is a message of equality, happiness, fun, and fighting back against the darkness. How anybody could interpret it as anything else is a mystery to me.

A long while ago I sort of came out as aromantic. I have never once felt a romantic feeling. I have never longed for the companionship of another human being regardless of gender, sex, or orientation. A lot of people need that sort of thing to make their lives complete but I am happy to have my friends and family. Obviously, over the years the makeup of the LGBTQ+ banner has had some changes. There is too much bickering over who should and should not be at Pride and this year I am seeing a lot of people being fed up with it. This is the first year that I have seen clear statements accepting aromantics at Pride. When I saw it, I felt something break free inside of me and I smiled. We are a small subsection so specific support was not something I was expecting. So, this year will be the first year I attend Pride as an aromantic and not just an ally.

Oh, and the only people who should not be at Pride are cops and hatemongers. Hatemongers are obviously not welcome at Pride. These include the Christian Right, the Nazis, the Klansmen, and all of the raving lunatics who would rather burn it all down than let people be free to be different. However, it also includes silent partners. The corporations who sell rainbow flags but turn their backs on actual gay people, the forces of Capitalism who decided that gay people don’t make them enough money, the well-meaning ‘middle of the road’ types who do not want to make waves even when it means defending people’s rights to be happy. This also brings us to the cops. Yes, the cops. The cops who protect armed nazis in Detroit who chose to march through Pride, sending people who were celebrating indoors and fearing for their lives. The cops who have a history of breaking up gatherings of gay people and almost never side with ‘the Other’ over ‘good’ white men and women. The same cops who have a history of beating the crap out of minorities when they feel like it. No cops at pride, only love and true allies. Please.

The Nighthawk Pt. 2

June 8, 2019

“Don’t run. I mean ya no harm.” The voice said from no visible mouth whatsoever.

My response was a stunned silence with a renewed hawk-like watching of the puddle. I also might have definitely let loose a string of unrepeatable swear words. Alright, I definitely said the swear words. Meanwhile, the puddle was doing an awful lot of moving which looked disturbingly like it was animated by Ray Harryhausen. This is not the sort of thing that you expect to see on your office floor. The liquid coalesced into a blackened mess which might be interpreted as muscles and a skeleton. No skin seemed to be forthcoming but thankfully the thing slowly started to form clothes.

Imagine a blackened skeleton in a gray fuzzy sweater and brown corduroy pants. Now imagine that this delightful figure was four feet tall and was somehow both terrifying and adorable. That was what the creature who had just reverse-melted off my floor looked like. I had so many questions but my brain had put on the brakes at this point and I was already reaching for that old family revolver tucked into a holster by the small of my back.

“Lay off the gun, kid. I promise I won’t hurt ya.” The little black skeleton said.

“Did you just use a Brooklyn accent?”

“Good,” the Skeleton said. “You’re lookin’ at me without pissin’ yourself. I did live in Brooklyn for a long time. Actually since before you monkeys showed up. It was way different back then but that’s beside the point.”

I stayed leaning against the wall, hand near my gun. I never did trust easily. “What is the point, creepy skeleton man?”

“This is creepy?” The skeleton asked. “Your species is so close-minded.”

“You keep floating away from making an actual point. Why are you haunting my office?” I was getting annoyed quickly. At least annoyed was better than scared. I headed back toward my desk, making a wide berth around the skeleton. At least I could use the desk as cover if this thing went from David Lynch to David Cronenberg.

“Alright, alright,” the skeleton said. “I guess being timeless makes you less inclined to rush things. I guess your impatience is more or less a biological imperative. I don’t have really have a biology so I’m not really sure.” The thing’s eye holes tracked my movements. Every single moment.

“What are you?” I asked. It was probably rude and blunt but I was rattled. Sue me.

“I guess I’m a messenger of sorts in this situation. Of course, maybe you’re actually asking what sort of creature I am. I am a djinn.”

“I’ll bite. What’s a djinn?’ I asked, still wondering if I had drunk enough whiskey to black out. If this was real, I was glad for the calming effect of the alcohol.

“A djinn is basically a being of thought and emotion and magic. Very few of us actually hang out here in the real world but reality kind of grew on me so I visit every so often.” The skeleton gestured and a lit cigar formed in his hand and he began to smoke. I did not smell any smoke.

“What’s your name?” I sat down, my legs ached with released tension.

“Unpronounceable. People call me Mr. Black. That works well enough.”

“My name is John Redcross but you probably saw the name on the door. You said ‘people’. What people would talk to something like you?”

“I’ll forgive the bigotry you’ve got going on there,” Mr. Black said. “The people I talk to are mostly the Council and that brings me to why I’m here. Like I said, I brought you a message.”

“First, who’s this Council? If you have a message from them for me, I’d like to know who they are.” I reached for a pencil and a piece of paper if only to look professional if this was going to be some sort form of business meeting all of a sudden.

“Makes sense. The Council is the ruling party of the so-called supernatural world. A world, we’re aware you briefly experienced just about a year ago.”

My heart tightened in my chest and my gaze went to Harmony’s badge where it was framed on my wall. “So it was real.”

Mr. Black nodded. “Yeah, they’re real. The Nagloshi are some vicious sons of bitches. Whatever they did to her could not have been any good. That’s not why I’m here.” He gestured with the cigar a bit while he talked. The talking skeleton bit was starting to get less unnerving. I am not sure whether this acceptance was something positive or negative. Regardless, my enemy had a name now which made them chillingly more real but also more within the reach of my revenge.

Mr. Black spoke up again, filling the silence. “Earth to Detective Redcross, do you want to hear the message or not?”

“A creepy little skeleton muscles his way into my office with a message from some clandestine council of supernatural beings?” I asked. “Of course I want to hear the message.”

Mr. Black put out the cigar he had been smoking on the top of his shiny black skull and shrugged. “Alright then. The Council is aware that you have discovered a piece of our world. It’s what we call ‘piercing the veil’. Most people who pierce the veil either go crazy or the world thinks their crazy and things spiral from there. It’s only when a large number of people discover the truth at the same time that we have to worry.”

“So if they’re not worried about me then why send you to creep me out?” I asked.

“Again with the impatience and bigotry. They sent me here to hire you. There have been several deaths in the Woodland Heights area and we think a rogue faction is responsible.”

“Don’t you have your own cops?” I asked.

“We do but the case involves both mortal drugs and the supernatural,” Mr. Black said. “They feel that since you have pierced the veil and have experience with human crime, you might be better equipped to handle this. Also, if you’re not gonna go nuts, you might as well prove useful.”

“I still don’t understand anything about this. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to help a community that killed my partner and lost me my career.”

“Don’t go lumping the rest of us in with that one Nagloshi,” Mr. Black said holding his hands up in the universal sign of ‘we come in peace’. “We’re not all psycho predators. Just like any community, we have our good guys and bad guys. We’re offering you the chance to step inside our ranks and be a good guy. You don’t have to like us to do the job. In fact, you’ll probably be more objective if you remain skeptical.”

“Your council is afraid that if too many people die, you will be risking exposure,” I guessed.

“Obviously,” Mr. Black said. “I guess those are the kind of smarts that they’re banking on.” Even with no skin on his face, I could feel the sarcasm radiating off Mr. Black.

“If I do this, will I get information on these Nagloshi?” I asked.

“Officially, I should warn you that revenge is not the diplomatic sort of idea that will keep you alive in our world. Unofficially, you might discover a few things about the nasty buggers. I honestly don’t know where this case goes, I’m not psychic.”

“Where do I start? Usually, there’s a crime scene or a case file for me to look at. “

“Hold onta your hat, detective. I got what ya need right here. There’re no active crime scenes right now but I picked up this from the local station house.” He pulled a file folder out of thin air and held it out. I came around the desk and tentatively took it from his bony fingers and retreated back behind the desk.

Media Update 19.6.6

June 6, 2019


Aladdin (2019)

If you have paid attention to this blog, you will know that I have an intensely personal relationship with the original animated Aladdin. I watched it once on heavy drugs in an ICU and it was one of the main reasons that I became a Robin Williams fan before I was old enough to listen to his standup. I love that movie and because of that, I was intrigued and not dismayed when the live action adaptation was announced. When Will Smith was announced as the Genie, I actually thought it was pretty perfect casting. Nobody was ever going to out-Robin Williams the original so they had to go a different direction. Like the original Genie evolved from Williams’ stand up, this new Genie is very much an extension of Will Smith’s acting. In that regard, he created a likable and different character with the same heart. Mena Massoud’s Aladdin had all the charm of the original and, if possible, was even more animated in my eyes. My favorite part of the new version is Naomi Scott’s Jasmine who was given way more to do in this version and comes out as a better character. The rest of the cast is really good as well. Overall, the movie was definitely not bad and was just a bit different from the original. There were some things added and some things taken away. I definitely recommend it but only if you have an open mind.


The Greatest Showman

When I found out that there was a movie musical coming out starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Effron, and Zendaya, I was immediately interested. On top of that, it was a musical about the genesis of PT Barnum’s Circus. While that story is not actually all sunshine and roses, I was on board for a sanitized version. I love the circus aesthetic (even after working for one) and the poppy music in the trailer sounded good. Hugh Jackman was so, so likable as Barnum and he has such a good singing voice and a smile that is hard to resist. Zendaya had a smaller role than I wanted her to have but she was really good. Effron had a darker role than I expected but he was also really great in his role. Michelle Williams was kind of a surprise with how prominent and good her character was. There was also an ensemble of literal ‘freaks’ many of whom were given great supporting roles. I would say that the movie went on a little long for me but they had to jam a lot of songs into it so I understand. This led to me not really knowing where the movie was going next as the storyline I thought it had was accomplished very early in the movie. Overall, it was a good movie but not as good as I expected it to be. I definitely recommend it, though.


The Accountant

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought it looked pretty good. I am a Ben Affleck fan and it looked like a thoughtful action movie. What it turned out to be is part mystery, part crime film, and part action film. It was way more thoughtful than I thought it would be. I should have realized that a movie called The Accountant would have some thought behind it. The movie is about a criminal tracking criminals while also being tracked himself so the movie has layers. Affleck is interesting since he is playing a man on the autistic spectrum who uses savant skills to accomplish all of his goals. JK Simmons plays a hardened Department of the Treasury investigator and is always great. Anna Kendrick plays a dorky normal accountant who balances out Affleck’s flat delivery. Jon Bernthal plays a very charismatic and charming hitman and was kind of my favorite character. Jeffrey Tambor plays Affleck’s mentor briefly. John Lithgow plays a somewhat hardened CEO. I definitely recommend the movie as it was really interesting.

Music of the Week:
Blackbriar – Snow White and Rose Red

Lil Pump – “Be Like Me” ft. Lil Wayne

PUP – Kids

Carly Rae Jepsen – Too Much

Psychedelic Horseshit – We’re Pink Floyd, Bitch

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Lying”
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Tuca and Bertie Season 1
– I watched more Game of Thrones Season 2
– I watched more Arrow Season 7
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more The Flash Season 5
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I started watching Supergirl Season 4
– I started watching Legends of Tomorrow Season 4

Landmarks

June 3, 2019

After my post this last Monday and a subsequent Home Owner’s Association meeting, I have been thinking a lot about what constitutes a landmark. I have come to the opinion that, like many things, it is a completely subjective nomenclature. I have been thinking about this because declaring something as a landmark can be a way to protect buildings from being knocked down. Still, I do not think that it should be a panacea to protect all buildings. If everything is a landmark then nothing ever gets torn down. Tearing buildings down is the prelude to building new things and that is how cities and towns evolve and grow. If buildings that are not being used are left up instead of building a new property that will be used, then the city or town begins to rot.

This is also important because decisions in development can impact the environment in ways that people sometimes cannot foresee. Here in Maryland there was proposed legislation for something called the “Rain Tax”. The proposed tax would impact developers who decided to build new projects. It would tax them based on the area of the concrete and blacktop that they covered the Earth with. Paving prevents water from seeping into the Earth and too much loose water can be very destructive. Some politicians scoffed at the new tax and belittled it and the new Governor effectively shut it down for good. The next rainy season, the town of Ellicott City was destroyed because it was downhill from new development. A year later and it was destroyed again by an even worse flood.

So what makes a landmark? For me, it is anywhere where something significant happened or a place where some famous person did something impressive. Independence Hall is a landmark because so many important events to the founding of the United States happened there. In Baltimore, the cemetery where Edgar Allen Poe is revered as a landmark because of the author’s importance and the long history of mysterious events that followed his death. Oriole Park at Camden Yards has become one of the defining landmarks of Baltimore City. Fort McHenry was where the flag hung that inspired the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner. So many historic events that may have been more important locally but are felt nationally and sometimes globally.

And yet we also have a history of tearing down landmarks. The biggest one I can think of is Memorial Stadium, the original home of the Orioles that was torn down in my lifetime. I remember people being sad but the project went ahead. People talked about the civilization of rats that were unearthed when the stadium was torn down still. There had been a stadium there since 1922 and it was torn down in 2001. In the end, this was done for the betterment of the city. The site is now home to senior housing and recreational sports fields mostly used for children. That is way more useful than an old stadium especially since two new ones were built in the south part of the city in a much more accessible spot.

I do sympathize with people who want to save old buildings but I think we have to think it through and ask some tough questions. Is the existing structure being used? If it is not being used then why are we preserving it? That property could be revitalized so it can be used for a new purpose. Is the historical significance enough to prevent the property from being useful? This is difficult because the answers to some of these questions are different depending on who you ask. Also, people fear change but often appreciate positive change once it has been completed. I just hope people will not be close-minded and will do their best for the good of modern society.

The Nighthawk

June 1, 2019

(This was originally written in 2013 as part of NaNoWriMo.  I thought it was time to do something with it)

If this were a noir detective story then muted trumpets would be playing as I sipped whiskey with my feet on the desk.  There would be a haze of smoke in the room regardless of whether I am smoking or not. A leggy blonde or redhead would be cued up to enter in the next few minutes with some sob story.  For the record, this is not a noir detective movie. The room is in color and I quit smoking two years ago.  But the whiskey was spot on but only half a tumbler because I was just about to walk home for the day and the office was officially closed.

The private detective business had turned out to not be as glamorous as Humphrey Bogart advertised it.  Who knew that Hollywood did not, in fact, portray truth? I was stuck in this tiny basement office because I had been fired from my job as an actual detective for the police.  I worked narcotics with my partner, Harmony Hall, for years and we made a lot of busts and we received a lot of kudos from the big wigs.  I really believed that Harmony had been on track for a promotion.  She was going to get stuck with a desk job even though she always hated the idea.  At least, that’s what she said.

The good times ended when Harmony was killed during a stakeout gone horribly wrong.  Something came out of the shadows and tore Harmony and the crooks we had been tailing into shredded meat.  I call it a thing because I still do not know what it was.  I still cannot adequately explain my partner’s death.  I know that it was not human or anything that I had ever seen before.  I also know that the brass at the police station did not believe me when we got debriefed. What I do know is that they fired me or “let me go” for psychological reasons.  I feel that the only reason that I was not committed was that I eventually shut my mouth and agreed to walk away.

Harmony didn’t deserve to die and then get that horrible death swept under the carpet but I still didn’t know what to do about it. I don’t know if there is anything that anybody could have done about it.  I see that thing in my dreams.  It was all teeth, claws and sinewy shapes that made little sense. It stuck to the shadows and easily avoided shots from my service revolver. I had no experience hunting animals, especially ones intelligent and brutal enough to slaughter six drug dealers and one police officer and then slip away into the night without a trace.  How was there no forensics at the scene?

So now I was trying to make ends meet mostly by taking pictures of people cheating on their spouses.  It was the kind of thing that made me feel completely filthy but the landlady did not take reassuring smiles and good intentions as payment on the rent.  Some people are total hard asses when it comes to money. I was not prepared for the hustling up of clients or chasing them down and hassling them to pay me.  This job had quickly turned into a horrible headache but I had burned a lot of bridges by telling the truth.

But I still looked for that truth when I could.  In what little spare time I had, I scoured the news and the word on the street for anything weird.  I turned over whatever rocks I could find and poked my nose where I probably shouldn’t have.  I found some strange things that I could not really explain and honestly made me feel crazier.  I read through strange books on the weirdest subjects in search of something to explain.  A city is a strange place even without the supernatural elements that I thought that I had experienced.

The whiskey felt good going down in that sweet, sadistically masochistic sort of way.  Alcohol was dangerously seductive and there was a bad history in certain corners of my family.  Still, after a long week, it was much-needed anesthesia and that was good enough for the moment.  I was too restless.  I had spent too many days sitting in my car and watching motel rooms.  I felt like I wanted to do something but absolutely nobody had walked into my office today. Restlessness could become dangerous if I left it unchecked so I was just about to get up and go for a walk.

Of Course, that’s when the door to my office opened.  I had thought that I had locked that door and so I was about to look up and tell whoever that the office was closed.  To come back on Monday or never. Though, I did need something to do so maybe I wouldn’t send them away.  Then when I looked up they must have already left. If possible, I was both disappointed and relieved. They had left the door hanging open so I got up and closed it. I reached for my coat to just leave when some sort of smoke came in from under the door.  

At first, I thought it was a fire but the smoke was blowing under my door like it came out of a fog machine.  My church youth group had rented one when I was a teenager for a haunted house.  The memory was suddenly vivid. Whatever was going on, my fight or flight response must have been broken because I froze with one hand on my coat. I should have embarrassed that my first responder instincts had disappeared. I think part of the reason was that I could not smell any smoke.  I could not smell the smoke and I could not feel any heat or hear the crackle of flame.

With a strange, wet sound the cloud of smoke just suddenly dropped out of the air and condensed into a puddle on the floor.  As the guy who pays the rent, I started to properly freak out. I pressed myself to the wall and watched the puddle like a hawk with some sort of obsessive complex for watching puddles.  The puddle started to slide (or was it ooze?) across the floor toward my desk. I felt that if I followed it, I would be the guy in a John Carpenter movie who the audience was rolling their eyes at.  Maybe I should just bolt out of here and call the fire department. They wouldn’t believe me anyway. I wouldn’t believe me either.

Just as I was reaching for the door, fully willing to let the living puddle eat my damn coat, I heard a voice.  The voice came from the puddle. Of course, it did. With my luck, it would be a talking puddle.

Media Update 5/30/19

May 30, 2019


John Wick 3: Parabellum

The John Wick series caught me off guard when it first came out and I was instantly enamored of it. I have been a Keanu Reeves fan since Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and he has only gotten better with age. The John Wick franchise is the best of both worlds when it comes to action movies. If you want to tune out and watch awesomely spectacular action scenes then this movie accommodates you. If you want a whole world and tons of lore that you can explore and read deeply into, this movie is also for you. I have seen both reactions based on what that person chose to see in the movie. I am a huge fan of both sides of the coin. The fight scenes in this movie continue to be innovative and surprising. The movie is full of them. There are excellent martial arts scenes and there are gunplay scenes that are absolutely insane. Also, the movie dives into a hidden world behind our own. Each movie continues to peel away layers and there are still new layers underneath. Keanu Reeves is so good. This feels like the role that he has evolved to fit in perfectly. The movie also has an all-star cast each at the top of their game including Ian McShane, Halle Berry, Lawrence Fishburne, Lance Reddick, and Anjelica Huston. I am looking forward to what further sequels will yield as the next movie is already scheduled. I definitely recommend it.


Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

A few months ago, I watched the latest documentary on Ted Bundy and I was fascinated since it was not something I lived through. At the time, Netflix was advertising a controversial movie (this movie) which would dramatize parts of the Ted Bundy story. The main complaint was that they cast Zac Effron as Ted Bundy and Effron is a well known hunky and adorable actor. I felt like people were missing the point. The insidious part of the Bundy story was that he was so handsome and charismatic that people dismissed red flags and let him kill way longer than a less attractive person would have gotten away with. This movie focused on Ted Bundy and the woman who fell in love with him. As women were turning up dead, Ted Bundy was dating and then became engaged to a woman who already had a daughter. Elizabeth Kloepfer (in the movie they used her pseudonym of Liz Kendall) stuck by Bundy even after he was accused (and after she reported him the police as a possible suspect several times). In the movie, they play all the big moments of the story and it is hard not sympathize with Liz as she tries to navigate a relationship as her world keeps crashing down. Part of that is how well Lily Collins portrays a fragile and complex character based on a real complex person. Zac Effron is amazing and unnerving as Bundy, acting like a smiling shark. The movie also follows him trying to use his time in law school to work on his own cases and appeals. It is a fascinating movie that encapsulates the weird position that Elizabeth found herself in during an entirely weird and terrifying case.


Highlander: The Raven

The Highlander series is so strange. It has a long history of disjointed sequels to a pretty good fantasy movie. At some point, they sort of rebooted everything by creating a television series that I remember watching a bit of. In the late nineties, this show was created as a spinoff. The premise of the show is that an immortal thief named Amanda has led a long life of crime and adventure. Now she is bored with it all and seeks atonement by helping to solve crimes. Coincidentally enough, most of the crimes involve immortals somehow. Still, I found the concepts interesting. At least they did not introduce the concept of immortality and then forget it. Each immortal has spent their infinite life differently but each seems stuck in a loop, a sort of limbo. It is an interesting contrast to Amanda’s search for change and meaning. Still, Elizabeth Gracen does a great job with the character. Paul Johannson plays an ex-cop that works with Amanda to solve crimes. He is alright but, as you might see in the trailer, he is kind of bland. The show is late nineties as heck and feels kind of like the production values of shows like the original Charmed. I liked it well enough but I do not really recommend it. It also only went one season because the stars hated each other and nobody watched.

Music of the Week:
Interpol – Evil

Czarface X Ghostface Killah – Mongolian Beef

Lord Of The Lost – Loreley

Ava Max – Sweet but Psycho

Don Broco – Greatness

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Killers”
– I watched more Supernatural Season 14
– I watched more Star Trek: Voyager Season 2
– I watched more Ash vs. The Evil Dead Season 3
– I watched more Tuca and Bertie Season 1
– I started watching Game of Thrones Season 2
– I started watching Arrow Season 7
– I started watching Riverdale Season 3
– I started watching The Flash Season 5

Developments in Development

May 27, 2019

So, while I have been off at work, a lot has been happening in my neighborhood. It is interesting to me because nothing much happens in my neighborhood because it is so out of the way. Nestled between Hampden and Druid Park, my little world is often overlooked by just about everybody. However, I have lately dealt with the neighboring Woodberry Community Association. Community Associations are double-edged swords because they can provide a sense of community but they are also rather exclusionary. I feel like the ones I have dealt with are unfairly prejudiced against renters, seeing them as subhuman and more people to be watched and feared than cared for. At least, that is what they say about their tone.

The big hoopla around here is that a lot of land in the area got new owners and they had development on their minds. This caused a lot of conflicts right away because people fear change and renters. New apartment buildings were the plan and there was a lot of pearl-clutching over the possibility that they could be low-income housing. The thought that less fortunate people might have a place to go to convenient to the Light Rail was unthinkable. But I’m probably being unfair to some of these people. Some objected to the destruction of buildings that had been there for centuries. I am all for historical preservation but that only extends to places where things of note happened or particularly pleasing architecture. The buildings they were trying to protect ranged from dilapidated to downright ugly.

I went to several meetings to observe people (and a lawyer) try and figure out how to halt or alter the development plans. To be fair, they had a solid legal footing for holding the developers and owners to a limited amount of construction. They remained deadlocked for months and months as both sides attended committee meetings and tried to sway the government to their side. This kind of bureaucracy is kind of fun when you are on the inside but watching from the outside is mind-numbingly boring. Especially when you can see the benefit to both sides. It is like watching horse racing when you do not have a bet in. I even attended a somewhat secret anti-developer meeting to see what was up.

The latest event changed everything. There are two stone houses that I used to walk by when I took daily walks before I returned to the gym. They are on the way to my polling place down the street. They always looked ancient and were probably there since at least the 1800s. However, they also looked like crap. They were overgrown with plants and neither had been in use for anything for quite some time. They were just houses to me.  They were probably used before the mill burned down as housing or storage for something. Just after I left for work the other day, bulldozers came and plowed them both to rubble. This was way before anything had been agreed to. Cue the pitchforks and torches.

The local residents leaped into action and contacted our local city council member. By the time the council member got there, the buildings were completely destroyed. Still, he got a stop work order put on the site and the resident’s ire turned toward the developers. The first to falter were the architects of the new development. They disavowed the action, claimed ignorance of the plan, and announced that they had resigned from the project. The developers, feeling the heat, did the same and announced that they were done with the project leaving the owners standing alone. Now, the owners will probably sell the property and the whole process will start again. And they wonder why nothing ever gets built in Baltimore.

The Tailors

May 25, 2019

When Lyda Penrose laid her hand on the boy’s head and cast Greater Restoration, she had expected the prince’s eyes to clear and maybe she would get a bewildered smile. Instead, as divinity channeled through her, the Prince’s flesh sizzled and his eyes went bright orange. Apparently, there was no disease in him to cure. The problem was much worse than that. At that point, the devil in the boy revealed itself and the rest was hellfire, blood, and chaos. In the melee, Cinda Karpon, Caleb Wolfspell, and Jo Penrose were lost, possibly caught or killed. Lyda, Maeve Penrose, and Ratha had made it out of the palace but only because Ratha had picked up the two sisters and run with them. The three of them found a cave to hide in as they caught their breaths.

“We have to go back for them!” Ratha yelled.

“We know,” Maeve said quietly. “But we need a plan.”

“We just can’t leave them back there!” Ratha yelled. “We’re the Tailors!” The rage that powered her looked like it was just about to explode again. She was dangerously close to losing control in a small, enclosed space.

“We know!” Lyda yelled, a rather uncharacteristic move for the young cleric. “Our sister is up there. Our friends are up there. We know.”

Maeve put her hand on Lyda’s shoulder gently. “Lyda’s right,” she said. “We need a plan. If you calm down, I think I might have one.” Both sisters watched as Ratha slowly calmed down, releasing that spirit of rage into the air.

“You really have a plan?” Lyda asked, turning back toward her older sister. She had remained cloistered in a temple for years but she had always thought of her older sisters and how much she looked up to them. Even when she found out one of them was a thief, she was still proud.

“Your surprise wounds me, sister,” Maeve said with a mock offended look. “I cased the palace.”

“You cased the palace?” Ratha asked.

“Yes,” Maeve said. “I case every building before we enter it if I can manage it. It’s purely for tactical purposes, of course.”

“I would never suspect wicked intentions, sister,” Lyda said. “You promised to reform for our little group. For the good of the realm.”

“My criminal days are behind me,” Maeve said, holding her hand up as a mimicry of the oath she had solemnly given her sisters a year earlier. “I only use my powers for good now. It’s your influence, naturally.”

“So what’s the plan?” Ratha asked, interrupting verbally and physically with her tall imposing form. She was getting excited again and that made the sisters a little nervous.

Lyda took a deep breath and held up a calming hand. “Relax and save your strength, Ratha,” she said. “If my studies have taught me anything, it has taught me that devils do not kill people outright. Devils like to corrupt if they can and only kill if they fail. If somebody is still useful, there is no wisdom in killing them.”

“And our friends can hang tough,” Maeve said. “I believe in them. We’ll drive the devils out and save our friends but we will do it together. To do that, we’ll need your rage focused for my plan to work.”

“Um,” Ratha said. “Of course but what do you need me to do?” She looked at Maeve with childlike wonder and it suddenly hit the sisters once again how young the huge woman was.

“When we reach the end of the tunnel, I need you to plow through whoever or whatever is in our way,” Maeve said. “We’ll back you up. If we can get to our friends, we will have a fighting chance. Who knows what else will be imprisoned, maybe some potential allies.”

“I can do that,” Ratha said. “I swear it.”

All three of them nodded. The question about what to do if their friends were already dead or turned was left unsaid. They could not afford to think about it much less voice it. They had been together as adventurers for a year and they were more of a family now. The three Penrose sisters had grown up together, grown apart, and then had come back together to save their hometown. Now, they were stronger than they had ever been before and they were not about to give up on each other now.

The three of them slowly climbed their way around the steep cliffs that surrounded the palace. They made their way to an ancient passage around the back of the palace walls that had been built in Elven times and long forgotten. There were five complicated locks for Maeve to pick but her training under The Scythe had prepared her for these sorts of moments. After a long tense time, she tripped the locks and Ratha yanked the doors open and they climbed in, grateful to be away from the cliffs and the ravine below. They made their way down the tunnel and as they reached the end of it, Ratha summoned the Stormlord’s spirit of rage once again and charged forward.


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