Archive for May, 2014

An Urgent Call for Airline Reform

May 31, 2014

Now I don’t want to go off on a rant here but I guess I’m going to.  Dennis Miller and Dan Harmon have taught me to at least apologize and disavow the rant before it begins.  With that out of the way, here we go.

Planes should be boarded differently.  I do not understand why the current system is in place.  Now, I’m talking about planes with assigned seating here and not the free-for-all, land-grabbing flights like Southwest and Airtran.  I understand there that you’re paying more to get on sooner and get your choice of seats.  That makes total sense.

Don’t try to tell me that all the seats are the same.  Window seats are the best for people who are trying to sleep on the plane or do not want to get up during the flight.  Aisles are great for people who are tall or have weak bladders.  The center seat is an awful abomination.  Unless you’re small and related to the people you’re sitting next to, you’re going to have a bad ride.  Even if you meet those qualifications, it’s going to be a cramped ride. I’ve been there. I know.
Maybe it’s just me who does not like to awkwardly touch strangers.

Personally, for short flights I like an aisle seat near the front of the plane.  That way, I can get off the plane faster which is very useful if I have a short layover or it’s midnight and I want to get home and to bed.  On long flights, I like a window seat near the front of the plane.  I can lean against the window or wall and even if I can’t fall asleep, I can shut my eyes and rest without worrying about leaning on a stranger.  Also, having the window seat means that whatever I am doing won’t be interrupted by somebody having to go to the bathroom.

What was my original point?  Oh right, plane boarding reform.  My main problem is the system of “zones” or “boarding groups” or whatever each airline calls them.  If you are in zone 1 then you board first (except for Platinum A+ Special Premier Preferred Members, of course).  Zone 2 gets on the plane next and so on and on.  This is ridiculous.

In my mind, I want to be on that plane as little as possible.  If there is assigned seating, what advantage does boarding first get you?  Moreover, when somebody with an aisle seat is in Zone 2 and the window or center seats are in zone 4 and 6 then there’s a problem.  Somebody is going to have get back out of their seat and make way for people sitting next to them.  It slows boarding and creates a traffic jam.

Also, people in the back of the plane could be in a later zone than people in the front.  The people in the front are still putting their bags in the overhead and finding their seats are in the way.  What’s up with that?

Here’s what I propose:  Keep the zones and just redefine them.

Zone 1 = Rear of plane and in a window seat
Zone 2 = Rear of plane and in a middle/aisle seat
Zone 3 = Middle of the plane and in a window seat

And so on, I’m sure you get the idea.  Load the people in the back ahead of the people in the front.  Load the windows before the aisles.  I don’t give a damn whether first class goes before this or after because I’ve never been in it and probably never will.  Those with conditions making it difficult to board should be boarded in the appropriate zone so they don’t have to stand up for anyone.  Babies and small children should be put in the cargo hold.

I wrote this on the first of three flights in two days but it’s something I have thought about for quite some time.

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Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Creepiness

May 22, 2014

WILPW

I have very fond memories of watching wrestling on Monday nights (and eventually Thursday nights) and being creeped the hell out by some of the more spooky denizens of sports entertainment.   I would have been on the edge of my seat if I had not been sitting on the floor.  Sure I thought wrestling was real for a bit when I first got into it but I quickly smartened up.  Still, like all the horror movies I loved, I could get sucked in and my heart would start pounding and I would lean in.  It was alright, because I knew the babyface (good guy) was always going to win.

I am only making a statement about the performers and clips I chose.  The performers are the ones that stuck out in my mind and the clips are frankly subject to what is on youtube.  I briefly worried that my lists so far are mostly comprised of WWE talent.  There is a reason for that.  WWE is what I grew up with so there’s something to be said about brand loyalty.  I watch ROH and TNA but the first’s production values aren’t good enough to allow for creepiness and TNA is mostly too cartoony to be anything but laughable.

I read a lot about creepy/scary WCW performers but I did not watch much WCW back in the day since the DVR had not been invented yet.  When I watch WCW now, I find myself so removed from it because I have read so many stories about the old days.  For instance, I hear that Vampiro was scary but I just don’t see it, especially after reading Chris Jericho’s first book.  I hear Kevin Sullivan was creepy but everything I read just sounds silly.  Anyway,  here are some examples of stuff that creeped or weirded me out.

Undertaker
Entrance Music from the Ministry Days

Hands down, when I was scared while watching Monday Night Raw, it was probably the Undertaker who was the culprit.  I mean, it’s enough that he can do that trick where you roll your eyes back and leave just the whites of your eyes showing.   Add onto that his habit of taking horrible punishment and then just sitting up like a vampire in a coffin and you start getting nervous.  He has come back from the dead on at least two occasions and slowly became a legendary, elemental force rather than a man.  He was especially creepy during the period where he took on satanic overtones and became more ruthless.  He gained the power to convert people into members of his “Ministry” and mind control is one of the things in fiction that scares me most.   Sure his mistique has faded heavily as he has aged but still, when the gong hits and the lights go out for his entrance, I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The Boogeyman

I fully admit to being creeped out and weirded out by The Boogeyman when he first showed up on Smackdown to terrorize people.  The way he would show up suddenly and stare and sing innocent songs in a very creepy way was actually legitimately creepy.  He looked and sounded unbalanced and seemed to have access to anywhere in the arenas that WWE visited.  He also ate worms and moved his body like a crazy person.   The only problem with the Boogeyman is that the spent a lot of money and time on promoting him and giving him a huge crazy entrance.  They did not actually train him to be that good in the ring.  Maybe his gimmick prevented him from really showing his stuff but he kind of went over like a fart in church.  Still, while it lasted, it was fun to see him preying on the heels on the roster and he was definitely memorable.

Bray Wyatt

Now, I am currently 31 years old and this guy still scares me a bit even almost a year after his debut.   See, Bray Wyatt is the leader of the Wyatt Family which is a backwoods cult with vaguely Cthulu leanings.  I mean, the guy calls himself “Bray Wyatt, Eater of Worlds” and claims to be more monster than man.  He speaks cryptically about changing the world but in order to change the world, he must first watch it burn.   He has two “sons” in Luke Harper and Eric Rowan who are both just as crazy as he is.  Luke Harper speaks the Wyatt gospel whenever he can with a glossy-eyed, adoring look on his face.  Eric Rowan wears a sheep mask and so far has only spoken one word: “Run.”.  They are beholden to a mysterious “Sister Abigail” and much of their story is still shrouded in mystery.   I find myself curious but also I don’t think I really want to know.

Samuel Shaw

Hey, a TNA guy.  The rest of the guys on this short list are all supernatural, spooky bad guys but that is not what Samuel Shaw is all about.  He is that guy you might have met who is a little too focused and maybe the words come out of his mouth at a different rythym.  The gimmick here seems to have a healthy dose of Dexter and then you throw in every crazy ex-boyfriend who was ever served a restraining order.  He is obsessed with Christy Hemme and stalked her for months.  He was not able to take no for an answer and pummeled anybody who so much as looked at her.   Who knows what he would have done had he caught her.   My mom always used to say that horror films like Cujo scared the crap out of her as a little girl because they were plausible.  Maybe that’s why Samuel Shaw is so creepy.

Jinder

May 21, 2014

Jinder Cammack walked along the rooftops in the Artisans District under cover of darkness.  Thankfully the streets were narrow here so he could jump the gaps between buildings with minimal effort.  The lamplight did not quite reach the second floor, so he felt fairly safe but he stayed low and watched his footing.  One wrong step could send shingles falling to the streets below and Jinder would not be far behind.  He used his cane to help him balance but was practically sprinting along the roofs.  He had slung his boots over his shoulder and ran barefoot, toes gripping the spine of the roof with ease.

Finally he arrived at the shop of Paulson du Lykos, world famous artisan and inventor.  He was thankful that he had cased the shop two days prior and had noticed the skylight on the roof.  Otherwise, he would be creeping up to the back door right now and trying his luck there.  He laid down on his belly, thankful the moon wasn’t full and the festival was loud.  If he had the time to plan, he would not have done this during Grand Festival time but this was a time sensitive issue.  The conditions were ideal for a robbery even if he did risk thousands of eyewitnesses.  Of course, most of the revelers might be drunk and as long as he got away clean, who cared what they saw?

Cammarata was just the sort of place where people locked their skylights, of course, so Jinder pulled out his lock picks.  He focused his will and called on the animal spirit from within.  He knew from experience that the area around his eyes darkened.  He could suddenly see so much better in the darkness and his fingers became extremely sensitive and agile.  He worked the lock picks with artistry and soon heard the click and lifted the bars off of the skylight.

Unfortunately there was a second lock on the skylight itself.  He set to work again and this lock was ten times more difficult than the inital lock.  As soon as the second lock clicked, Jinder carefully opened the skylight.  After thinking for a moment, Jinder set to work dismantling the lock from the inside, mostly out of curiosity.

When he opened the lock, he found complicated mechanization and a vial of amber liquid.  He held the vial up to what little light he could find and guessed it was some sort of alchemical accelerant.  If he had made a misstep in picking the lock, the vial would have burst and the lock would have spewed burning oil.  At best the fire would alert witnesses and incapacitate but at worst he would plummet from the roof and either burn to death or die from the fall.  A very clever contraption.

He carefully pocketed the vial and swung down into the shop, closing the skylight behind him.  The place was full of wondrous devices and artwork both finished and in some unfinished stage.  However, he had no time to marvel over everything was a waste of time.  It was also a waste of time to consider how he would steal each item for additional profit but his brain did that automatically anyway.  He walked past fearsome-looking weapons and potentially priceless artwork and to the artiste’s own desk.

Rifling through another’s belongings had become commonplace a long time ago.  It was always interesting to see how other people prioritized their belongings.  Apparently artists were not too particular on where they kept their things so it was hard to gauge where the target could be.  There had been no other booby traps or alarms but Jinder had a feeling in his gut that his time was limited.   The dossier had been specific on what he was supposed to grab.

Finally, tucked into a cup in the back of the desk there it was.  It had a worn nib and was stained heavily with ink.  It looked like just an old pen and it probably was but the dossier had said to grab it so that was what Jinder was going to do.  He grabbed the pen and slipped it carefully into the pouch at his side.  He picked up his cane and headed toward the back door but about two feet before he reached it, the floor felt wrong.  That was the only way he could describe it.  His senses lit up every alarm bell in his brain and he found himself leaping backwards.

The floor around the door was suddenly on fire.  There must have been a magical trap laid down by somebody with experience.  What was Du Lykos’ obsession with fire anyway?  The fire was not spreading but it was definitely time to leave.  Jinder turned toward the front door just in time for it to burst open and three guards entered the room.  This was not an optimal mission anymore.

A shrill voice came from just outside, audible even over the festival outside and the fire inside.  “Stop them!  My devices are worth more than your lives!”  Which must have been Du Lykos.

The guards closed in but one got too close and Jinder was able to hit him with a grazing blow from his cane.  It was enough to set him stumbling into scrap metal storage with a loud clatter and clang.  One down and two to go.  Jinder pulled a throwing knife from a holster behind his jacket and tossed it, hitting the one female guard in the shoulder.  She went down but would only need medical attention.  Jinder just bull rushed the last guard, knocking him to the floor on his way out the door.  He passed Du Lykos and gave him a mock salute and the skinny little man gasped in surprise and indignation.

The guards of Cammarata were all mobilized and everybody was looking for the man with dark circles around his eyes who wielded a cane.  Everybody who came close to that description was detained and questioned with extreme prejudice.  After all, it was not everyday that somebody had the balls to try and rob a weapons designer so blatantly.  Hours later, when the sun was coming

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Bad Guys

May 18, 2014

WILPW

Pro-wrestling can be stupid and it can be mindless and it can be all of the things that the stereotypes say it is.  It can be these things but I watch it for the same reason that people keep watching long running shows Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show.  Is every episode golden? Probably not but when the show is on its game, it is on its game.   That’s what wrestling is to me.  I watch it for its potential on any given night to thrill me or give me something to complain about.

Yes, pro-wrestling is “fake”.  Just about everybody on the planet knows that by now.  Just about everybody on the planet should be at least vaguely familiar with the concept of suspension of disbelief.   I appreciate Pro-Wrestling for its storylines, impressive athletics and showmanship.

Important Note:  I’m looking for a term to replace Pro-Wrestling for my own use.  My brother was an actual wrestler in middle school and high school.  I respect the guys who wrestle in school, college and the Olympics.  Pro-Wrestling is not an actual athletic contest even though it recquires actual athletic skill and it’s important to understand that.  This is why I do not use the term “amateur wrestling” since it belittles a great sport.
Here’s reason one in what I love about Pro-Wrestling (in no particular order)

Bad Guy’s That You Love to Hate

I love it when a bad guy performs so well that I look forward to seeing them again.  I love to hate them while somewhere in my head, I’m cheering the performer and writers.  To further explain, here are some examples from outside of the world of Pro-Wrestling: Loki from Avengers, Logan from early Veronica Mars and Lindsey from Angel.  Now for some Pro-Wrestling examples.

Tyler Breeze

Mattias Clement must have watched a bit too much Zoolander because he debuted with a gimmick as a professional model who became a competitor for NXT.  He takes endless “selfies” of himself before, after and sometimes during the match.  He’s arrogant, obssesed with his looks and, to make it even worse,  he wins matches.  I mean, click the link above and tell me you don’t want to punch this guy in the face?  That might not be a good idea since hitting him in the face puts him into a raging tantrum that actually helps him win.  I like when his music hits because even if he wins, he is probably going to be hit in the face.

3MB

That’s 3 Man Band as their entrance theme makes clear.  Heath Slater is a wannabe rock musician from down home in Atlanta.  Jinder Mahal is a rich Indian from the Punjab region.  Drew McIntyre is a brutal competitor from Scotland.  Together, they form an annoying but entertaining band that plays no instruments and can’t sing.  They lose just about every match they’re in but they are never boring.  It is definitely fun to watch a group of guys who don’t realize that they are losers.  They have nothing to back up their arrogance but that doesn’t stop them from believing they are the best around.

Aiden English

Aiden English is a character that I ran into during my career in the theater arts.  A theater performer who thinks the world of himself.  It’s not a stretch to say I have met this guy, in fact I can give you a list of names.  Mr. English is, as implausible as it sounds, trying to launch a Broadway career through pro-wrestling.  He thinks he’s the greatest performer and competitor the world has ever seen.  His pale skin and the way he kind of hunches over makes him look like he is unsuited for both Broadway and NXT, where he currently wrestles.  Still, he wins matches by being an underhanded opportunist.  The theater nerd in me loves how he sings parodies of songs from musicals on the way to the ring (including a song from Dr. Horrible at one point).

Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho has gone through many different transformations but when he was a heel (bad guy) back in WCW he was so enjoyable.  While most heels were cocky and cool and bragged about how they would beat the crap out of the good guy, Jericho went another way.  He would still brag and boast and try to top everybody else.  In a memorable segment, he countered Dean Malenko’s moniker of “The Man of 1000 Holds” by saying that he was the “Man of 1004 Holds” and then tried to list them all.  However, when faced with a threat he would often cower and when he was beaten he would whine and cry and make excuses.  He treated each and every promo like a comedy sketch and made the most of his camera time.

Untitled Fantasy Project Post #2

May 16, 2014

Here’s some more stuff I thought I’d throw up.  I’ve never created a whole world before and that is how this project began.  The first sparks of creation came from combining inspiration from Adventure Time, The Dresden Files and the Lies of Locke Lamora.  The idea of everything has evolved past those sparks and, to further the metaphor, I let the flame burn on its own for a while and I’m just now getting back to it.  I’m tending the flame once again and definitely feeding it.  We’ll see what happens with it.

*                     *                         *

The Fall – Not much is known about the event known as The Fall.  All that is known is that it happened approximately 3000 years ago and that it was a cataclysm that destroyed civilization.  The rest is rumors; mostly that it was caused by human excess and the mysterious Ancient Gods.  Many powerful creatures like the Fae, Demons, Dragons, Aeons and Djinn lived through The Fall but offer no information on what happened.  Scattered over the world are ruins of ancient civilization but most will try to destroy these ruins when they are found out of fear that any connection to Pre-Fall society may cause a Second Fall.

Therianthropes – Therianthropes or Therios are individuals who are bonded with a spirit of nature.  They retain elements of that animal and can even transform from human to animal form.  The bond comes from either requesting it or being cursed with it.  Those cursed usually have more trouble controlling the bond and often transform involuntarily.  The bond can be formed by any powerful  being with a connection to nature.

Demons – Creatures of Hel, demons are driven by the evil and chaos of the world.  They are experts at preying on weakness of character and ambition. They, more than any other creature, are masters of making deals.  Demons have no real form as they are formed from the twisted energies of Hel.  When they appear on Earth, they can appear in any form they wish. They are able to invade dreams and make deals with people usually in exchange for eternal servitude.

Demon Clients – Demons mark their followers with demon scars which are inflicted in a lucid dream and show up on the physical body after waking when a deal is struck.  The demon is able to make the demon scar hurt in order to control their follower if they try to disobey.  If there is further disobedience, the wound may open and bleed which can be used by Hellhounds to track the traitor.  There is currently no known way to remove a demon scar.

Djinn – Ancient beings that come from the desert areas in the world.  They hold vast reality warping powers that have no known limit.  The Power Accords have placed Djinn under limitations through a list of rules.  Djinn cannot affect the mortal world unless requested to do so and can only act on their immediate area.  They often appear humanoid but also appear as sand creatures or other Egyptian-like forms.

Aeon – Aeon is a God usually depicted as a six-winged humanoid and is a soldier of Order against the agents of Chaos.  He chooses mortal agents to act as his clerics and paladins.  His agents founded the Fayth of Aeon that mainly seeks out and responds to injustice and chaos. They specialize in combating agents of demons, lesser demons and the undead.  However, they truly shine by being a sword and shield against injustice.

Magic – Magic is a powerful force in the world.  Many people have no access to it either by choice or by lack of opportunity.  Most who do have access to magic function as one trick ponies with only one particular type of spell that they’re very proficient with.  Those select few who gained great control of magic are known by many names (Mage, Wizard, Sorcerer, etc.) and are quite rare.

Oh and what’s this?  Is that a map that I spent a lot of time on?

Work in Progress

Allendra

May 15, 2014

So I’ve been working on creating my own fantasy world for a long while now.  I can’t remember when I started but it was definitely been over a year.  I took some time off from it but I really do want to continue.  As part of the effort to continue the initiative, I wanted to write something just to play in the world a bit.  I don’t know if this a work in progress or just an experiment but I like it.

*                                    *                                *

Allendra rose from her bed and felt every bruise and muscle ache and shuddered but kept going.  Her bedchamber was pitch black which was a blessing this early in the morning.  She drew strength from Aeon and felt the pain of all of that battle damage fade away.  She stretched in the darkness, feeling almost ready to start her day.  This was important as there were schedules to keep and people to see.  When that person was a representative of the throne of Altiria, those schedules became so much more important to keep.

She stepped toward the curtain and threw her arm over her eyes before brushing it aside and stepping into the bright dawn sun streaming through the oculus above her bathroom and wardrobe.  She could hear the city of Cammarata coming alive outside.  By the time she hit the streets, they would be bustling with people.  Allendra thanked Aeon she had been wise enough to select a room far from the noisy Artisans District.  Thankfully she was not too near the Fish Market either.  Here, nestled in the Legal Quarter, it was fairly peaceful.

Of course, the Grand Festival Cammarata would begin soon enough.  That would bring huge crowds, fireworks and plenty of loud music.  That was not her idea of a good time and she hoped that she would be assigned a mission during the three weeks of the celebration.  Allendra must have been the only person any realm who would rather be engaged in a life or death battle than be in town for the Grand Festival.

She stretched in the sunlight and heard several pops from her back but it felt oh so good.  She stepped into the bath and a chill ran from her foot all the way up her body.  She overcame that voice in her head that said it was too cold and quickly sank into the water.  That voice in her head very loudly protested again that it was too cold but it was definitely waking her up.  She took a breath and ducked her head under the water.  She fought discomfort to keep her head submerged and then surfaced with a huge gasp.

She climbed from the bath and happily dripped water everywhere, all over the stonework of the floor.  Her mother had hated that and part of being an adult was doing things to spite your parents, right?  She grabbed a cloth and carefully dried off her body before drying her hair.  She tossed the cloth aside and fully intended to pick it up later.  She ran her fingers through her hair and felt that was good enough.  She was not some debutante out to impress the gentry at the castle.

As she started to dress, Allendra thought about what the Crown could possibly want from her.  She held no special allegiance in her heart for the crown.  At least, no more allegiance than any citizen owed.  Like all those of her order, she cared only about doing the right thing.  There were people out there who needed protecting and that was Allendra’s calling.  She had no skills for politics or preaching but Aeon had granted her the strength and speed to do well in battle.  She had trained for it all of her life and she was damned good at beating up bad guys.  She was good at killing them too if it was needed.

She pulled the last strap tight on her armor and thought about whether or not to bring her helmet too.  She usually only brought her helmet when she knew things would go very badly.  She would be shocked if things went that badly at  what was supposed to be just a meeting.  She decided to leave the helmet where it was.  Instead, she carefully arranged her hair and clipped it into place with four silver clips.  The hair clips had bee a gift from a wealthy woman that Allendra had rescued a year ago.  Allendra had tried to refuse but the woman had insisted and now Allendra had grown attached to them.

She pulled her boots on and headed out the door, firmly shutting it so that she could lock the door.  She placed the key in her pouch and hung it around her neck and slipped it down into her armor.  She did not own much to steal but she trusted the thieves of Cammaratta would steal it all before she returned.  Lock designing was a pastime in the city which only made the city’s lockpicks the best in the world.  The lock would not stop them but perhaps it would persuade them to look elsewhere.  At least her lack of possessions would make them feel stupid upon spending the time picking the lock.

As for the more common footpads around the city, Allendra did not fear them in the slightest.  A disciple of Aeon was never without a weapon.  At age fifteen, Allendra had undergone a lengthy set of trials and ceremonies that basically separated a portion of her soul.  That shard of her soul had been forged into a great sword.  That sword now floated invisible behind her back, ready to be grasped at a moment’s notice.  She could never be separated from this weapon and it was the weapon she primarily fought with.

That was enough preparation.  It was time to step out and see who the Crown wanted her to fight now.

Introversion

May 1, 2014

I’ll just put these up here.  Being an introvert isn’t exactly a detriment but it is what it is.

Credit goes to Peppermintbee (I believe that's correct, it becomes hard to track)

Credit goes to Peppermintbee (I believe that’s correct, it becomes hard to track)

Credit goes to Shazzbaa

Credit goes to Shazzbaa


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