Archive for January, 2015

Redcross

January 24, 2015

Redcross

She thought back to the account that Billy had given her.  Shadows creeping in the night that looked liked furry humans.  He said he was sure it had something to do with the dead body found outside of town.  Possible drunken hallucinations aside,  why would anybody assassinate somebody in Essex, Arizona?  Of course, Sarah had heard of the rough nature of other frontier towns her whole life so the concept of violent death was not foreign.  There were the lawless reputations of places like Tombstone, Deadwood and Dodge City that served as cautionary tales.

Essex, however, had always been different.  It was not a target for bandits or angry drunks because the local mine had never yielded much of anything.  When the mine had failed, most of the people had hopped back onto their wagons and headed elsewhere.   The town was even out of the way for travelers and barely limped on with life due to a close-knit community.  They farmed enough to feed themselves and had most of what they needed right there in town.  Visitors were infrequent and life was pretty much routine ever single day.

This all made the fact that nobody knew who the victim was even stranger.  Though originally she had been relieved by it being a stranger, she now only felt confused.  She had to figure out who this man was if only for the sake of his relatives.  Going back to sleep would have to wait until after the mystery had been solved.  It would only be so long before any potential trail of clues went cold.    Her usual quiet day in the town of Essex had blown away like a campfire in a tornado and only this story’s resolution would ease her frustration.

Sarah slipped off her nightgown and began to put on a dress before she got too cold.  She slipped on a reserved straw hat to shield her eyes from the sun.  Once again she thought about  wearing clothes especially if she was going to be running around a lot.  She settled on the compromise of wearing a man’s duster which fit her just fine and kept off the cold desert morning.  She thought the townspeople might talk but then again they were all already talking.  Being sheriff was so awkward.

Sarah rode Lightning to the outskirts of town where the stranger’s body had been found by Billy.  There was only the sound of the wind and Lightning’s hoof beats out there and after all this time Sarah still found that eerie.  She had been born in Fort Bowie which had always been a bustling, noisy place.  Then her father had quit the service and accepted the post as sheriff of Essex to provide a quiet, safe environment for his daughter to grow up in.  The quiet had terrified Sarah especially in the dark of the night.  Now that she was an adult it merely unnerved her.

The spot where the mystery man had died was easy enough to find.  There was blood everywhere and Sarah pulled out a handkerchief to cover her mouth and nose with after dismounting.  Luckily the body had been carted away earlier but Sarah had needed to see the place to get a good picture in her head of what might have gone down.  She had thought maybe there had been an altercation gone bad which resulted in the murder of this stranger.  Now, she wasn’t so sure.  She knew every single person in town and didn’t believe any of them capable of bleeding a human being that much even by accident.

She shuffled around the site for a little while, poking at the brush and digging at the sand with the toes of her boot.  Her investigation yielded no further clues about who or what had done this.  The blood was all over, far from the very directional spray that accompanied gun play.  It was like somebody had taken a bucket of blood and tossed it all around like a maniac.  Even a man using a knife wouldn’t have done this because usually that just created a pool of blood.  The patterns didn’t fit anything that Sarah had heard of before which confirmed it was just some animal attack.

Since the search had been fruitless, Sarah beckoned Lightning closer and climbed up into his saddle.  She urged the horse back toward town.  She didn’t bring Lightning up to a gallop but it was definitely a fast trot.  She didn’t want to be close to that bloody spot any longer than she had been already.  She could almost picture some animal ripping and tearing at the man out there beyond the town.  Sarah knew it must have been an animal because the possibility that a human did that was too terrible to bear.

Sarah hitched Lightning to the post outside her office and took a moment to pin her badge to the front of her dress.  She had only been sheriff for two months and sometimes it was hard to remember to pin on what still felt like her father’s star.  She pulled her gun and holster down from the saddle and slipped it around her hips and fastened it.  This actually felt a lot more normal as her daddy had taught her how to handle a gun.  As boring as Essex could be, she ended up shooting at bottles and cans behind her house.  She had to keep her skills up even if it was just for an animal attack.

Pastor Roy Simmons was walking along the street toward me.  He looked deep in thought and was carrying quite a pistol on his belt.  I looked around a lot of people were carrying weapons.  It had been a while before this town had seen bloody death and after what Sarah had seen, she didn’t blame them for playing it safe.  However, seeing the pastor armed was a bit unnerving and Sarah tipped her hat and moved to pass him without comment.  Instead he reached out and grabbed her arm.

“Sarah. Hold a moment.” He said, swinging his eyes in her direction slowly.

“That would be Sheriff Redcross to you, Pastor.” Sarah said as she shook loose of his grip. “What can I do for you?”

“I feel a gathering darkness.  I just wanted you to be really careful.” He answered, his eyes darker and more serious than usual.  Considering he was pretty quiet and moody when he wasn’t on the pulpit, that was saying something.

“I can take care of myself.” She smiled, trying to laugh off the darkness in his eyes.  “I’m a tough girl.”

“You stand at the gates of chaos, Ms Redcross.  Don’t take that lightly.”  Simmons said as he gripped her shoulder.  Again she broke from his grasp but she was no longer trying to laugh it off.

“Good day, Pastor Simmons.  I have official business to tend to.”  The pastor seemed to come back to himself at that and nodded slowly.

“Have a good day, Ms. Redcross.  See you on Sunday.”  He tipped his hat and walked down the street in the general reputation of the little ramshackle church he captained.  Sarah wondered at his behavior.  She had never socialized much with the man but he had a reputation as a solid citizen.  He was a Salvation Army preacher out of Lochiel and Sarah had heard that he came highly recommended.  She tried to shake off the experience.  She hated what she had to do next.

A Blade Restrospective

January 22, 2015

Hello and welcome to the Blade retrospective where I talk about the Blade movies since I got the whole set cheap at Walmart.  I love buying cheap DVDs from Walmart and Target to add to my geeky movie collection.  I think that overall the Blade movies are good but don’t hold up to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

All of the films are written by David S. Goyer who is very hit and miss as a writer.   He is responsible for good stuff like all three Nolanverse Batman movies, Dark City, the Constantine tv series and Jumper.  However he also is responsible for the awful FlashForward series, Nick Fury tv movie and Man of Steel.  He definitely has his faults but is just as capable of putting out decent stuff as he is of putting out crap.  There is no consistent director so all three films have different tones and visuals.

Let’s start reviewing the Blade movies.


Blade

The first movie is pretty good.  Wesley Snipes is absolutely the best casting choice anybody could have made.  He has the ability to be stoic while having the charisma to deliver a one-liner or two.  He actually does a decent job with a few emotional moments as well.  Kris Kristofferson is amazing as the gruff but loveable Whistler.  Stephen Dorff is Stephen Dorff, a villain you want to punch in the face forever which is actually a good thing here.  Rounding out the main cast is Donal Logue who I am actually a huge fan of.

The fight sequences are the highlight throughout which makes a lot of sense when you consider that Snipes knows martial arts.  The rest of the movie is pretty formulaic but that’s just fine with me.  There are plenty of cliches and corny bits but I found them fun and not yet tired.  Overall I recommend the movie if you like action and cool effects.


Blade II

The best Blade movie ever and not only because it was directed by Guillermo del Toro.  This time around they actually saw fit to develop the characters more.  They also went for a much creepier mood which fits a story about a vampire hunter teaming up with vampires to fight the next stage of evolution.  We get Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson returning and turning in even better performances.  Leading a cast of relative unknowns is awesome character actor Ron Perlman who is awesome.

As with any del Toro venture, this one is loaded with awesome visuals and dark storytelling.  However, the a lot of the cool fighting is still there as well.  This movie has more substance but it does have a few third act problems.  Since the movie was del Toro experimenting and proving that he could helm a Hellboy movie that makes some sense.  It still holds together better than the first one which was a bare bones action/horror/comic book film. Again, I recommend this film.


Blade Trinity

A lot of people did not seem to like this movie and, to be fair, I can see why.  After Blade II, Trinity is way too light with a change in cinematography and more jokes.  There is a distinct absence of Kris Kristofferson but we get Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds instead.  Then you add in four named villains.  One of them is played by Hunter Hearst Helmsley of WWE fame.  With all of this going on you could accuse the movie of having too big a cast but it’s only slightly bigger than Blade II.  Snipes seems to be barely trying which makes sense as he was upset and feuding with the screenwriter during production.

There seem to be less fight scenes due to the limitations of Biel and Reynolds and spreading the attention between the three leads.  Instead of fight scenes we get more action sequences and more ranged weapons.  I don’t see this as a huge problem but it does kind of stray from the meat of the first two movies.  Overall I would say that Trinity is not as bad as people think.  I think it follows the spirit of the first movie.  Reynolds is actually pretty funny and there’s plenty of vampire killing action.  While the movie feels lighter there are definitely some darker moments that seem edgier than the first movie. You know what?  I recommend this one too.

So that’s the Blade movies…  Wait, what?  A NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHES!?

3 out of 4 ain't bad
Blade IV: House of Chthon

Yes there was technically a fourth blade movie.  I was intrigued when I first bought the DVD and wondered why I never knew about this.  I usually keep abreast of comic book news.  I knew about the Blade anime series (which is decent) but I didn’t know about this.  It turns out this was the pilot for a Blade series that went 12 episodes.  It was on Spike TV which is the first nail in its coffin being on what is basically the Cops network.  I struggled through this movie because I apparently hate myself.  It was poorly paced and passionless throughout most of it.

The series includes Blade who is now played by a man named Sticky Fingaz who acts like LL Cool J doing his best Wesley Snipes impression.  Though, for a series supposedly about Blade, there is a distinct lack of Blade actually doing anything.  Instead we spend most of the “movie” following the female protagonist, Krista, trying to investigate the death of her brother and stumbling upon the existence of vampires.  Blade pops up now and then to kill a few vampires but is otherwise laughably ineffectual.  Eventually stuff actually happens and Krista gets captured and transformed into a vampire.  In the end, Blade and Krista seem to make an agreement to use Krista as an undercover agent inside the House of Chthon.  I yawn and I am grateful that the movie is over.

I have two words for you as advice concerning this movie:  Stay away.  It probably had potential considering the relative success of Dusk Till Dawn: The TV Series and Fargo: The TV series.  The pacing and acting are horrible and they probably decided to save all of the exposition for a later episode.  The writing is muddled and they save a good concept for the last twenty minutes after boring you for over an hour and 10 minutes.  All I know is that I don’t want to hear anybody badmouth Blade Trinity after watching that.

The Sword

January 21, 2015

The Sword

The sword had appeared in Farmer McCutcheon’s field six weeks ago.  It was embedded deep in the soil as if it had fallen from a great height.  If I hadn’t taken a shortcut and risked McCutcheon’s shotgun, I would never have stumbled upon it.  If I hadn’t found it, who knows when McCutcheon would have found it.  He could have even run over it with his stupid tractor.  I figured that I kind of deserved it.  Finders keepers and posession is nine tenths of the law and all that.  Besides, whenever I picked the thing up, the runes glowed bright blue and an electric thrill went through my body.

I had taken some scrap leather and hooked up a pretty decent sheath for the thing.  At least the sword didn’t cut anything up when I shoved it in my backpack.  I had to carry it around because I was pretty sure my brother went into my room while I was out.  I kept it pretty hidden even from my friends.  I still wasn’t sure that this thing wasn’t stolen from somewhere.  It was a really nice piece and I had never had anything so nice.

My name is Ewan McCloud and I haven’t amounted to much in my life yet.  Well, unless you count a record of petty theft, vandalism and getting into fights.  The local police rarely saw fit to arrest me or my friends.  They didn’t see us as a threat.  I was tired of school and thankful for summer vacation.  Despite my best efforts, I had still not been expelled from school and believe me, I tried.

My friends and I called ourselves the Kings of Landon County as all of our spray paint efforts illustrated.  Nobody ever noticed our tags much.  They just painted over them  and moved on.  Nobody respected our little squad but we soldiered on regardless.  We went out each day to raise a little hell and we didn’t stop until we caused some trouble.  I still believed we were destined for greatness.

Today I was heading to behind the gas station to meet with Helen, Ricky, Jase and Katya who was the self-proclaimed Queen of Landon County.  That was our crew.  We were going to the county fair and we were going to conquer the games by hook or by crook.  If they tried to cheat us, we would cheat them right back.  The Kings always got what they wanted or trouble got started.  I had a feeling we were headed toward trouble.

When I arrived at the meet up, only Katya was still there.  She leaned against the wall and slowly smoked a cigarette while looking disinterested.  She wore the same leather jacket that she wore all year even on a day when it was over ninety degrees out.  She also wore the dime store tiara in her bleach blonde hair.  She had picked it up somewhere after the last day of school.  It strangely suited her and I had never seen anybody make fun of her for it.

“You’re late, Ewan.  You’re also an asshole.” She said before she looked up.  She dropped her cigarette and stamped it out with the nicest shoes in Landon County.

“Whatever. Pretty sure I’m mostly on time.  Did the others head over to the fair?”

“I think so.  That means you can escort me personally, by the way.”  She said.  She made a show of standing straight and holding out a hand with freshly painted nails.  I rolled my eyes and took her hand briefly.  We all let her have these playful little royal fantasies.  It didn’t hurt anybody but it could be annoying sometimes.

“Come on, ‘your highness’.  Let’s go to the fair.”  Which got her to stop leaning against the wall as she grabbed her purse.

“Yeah, we should make sure the others aren’t screwing it up.”

So we made our way through town and across the Smith’s west field and headed toward the fair.  Our little gang was lucky in that we all managed not to be the children of farmers.  Those kids had a crap load of chores to do and usually rarely any leisure time.  We lived in the small town of Gable which was all of four blocks by three blocks.  That was surrounded by a glut of houses and those houses were surrounded by farmland and we didn’t really care what was beyond that.

The fair looked the same as it did every year.  It was a bunch of striped awnings with a ferris wheel and a tilt-a-whirl towering behind them and several smaller rides scattered around.  There was a tractor pull or monster trucks or something but once you had seen all of that it was not worth seeing again.  Most of the fair wasn’t worth seeing again.  There was only so many times you could disrupt the livestock auction or make fun of all of the 4H projects before it got dull.  The only thing worth it was the food and the games.

We decided to skip the line and I climbed over the barrier when nobody was looking and then lifted Katya over.  The queen does not climb over barriers unless we’re all running from the sheriff.  We casually slid out from between two tents and into the crowd and started looking for the other guys.  It was the usual mix of townspeople and farmers with clashing fashions and attitudes.  We belonged to our own little culture and it was no surprise we usually got into a fight at this thing every year.

“Why do you carry that backpack around all the time?” Katya asked.

“What?” I said which was a transparent stalling tactic.  If I wasn’t careful she would get too curious and demand to see what was inside.  I really didn’t want her to do that.

“The damned backpack.  Don’t ‘what’ me.”

“I usually carry food around in it.  It just got to where I hardly realize I’m carrying it.”  Which was mostly true.  I did have a lot snacks in the backpack and the sword was so light that sometimes I forgot that I had it on me.

“You’re a god damned nerd, Ewan.  Wait, what’s that?”  She pointed and at first I was relieved that she was changing the subject.  What we saw was hard to explain.  There was a shapeless mass that I quickly realized that was a lot of something.  I realized that it had suddenly gotten very dim out and it was hard to make out what these things were.

A woman to our right screamed and something sharp burst through her chest and blood sprayed everywhere.  I could feel a faint mist as the spray hit us and I nearly lost my lunch right there.  Katya started to stammer but I grabbed her and pulled her behind a tent.  I idly thought that this was something I had been daydreaming doing with her for a while but not like this.  Katya was still stammering and the fair was in chaos which made it really hard to think straight.

I don’t remember grabbing the hilt of the sword but I felt that familiar surge of energy that made me feel good.  Then the blade burst into flame and scraps of my backpack and burning snacks fell everywhere as I stared in shock.  I no longer felt in control of myself as I charged back into the midway with a burning sword.  Reality no longer meant anything, not with what I was seeing.  There were dead bodies everywhere and the ground squished under my feet.  Most of the screams were receding which I hoped was a good sign.  I couldn’t see the things anymore.

“You are not him.  You can’t be.”  A voice said.

“What?” I asked and realized it sounded less than impressive while I stood there holding a flaming sword.

“You can die anyway but I thank you for bringing us the sword.”

In my minds eye I saw a fully armored person holding the sword.  It was hard to tell if it was a woman or a man because the armor covered everything and was so thick.  I saw them using the sword, the blade cutting into enemies effortlessly.  I squeezed the sword’s grip tighter.

“I am a champion of this realm and you will not have this sword.  I will make you pay for the lives lost here today!”  I wasn’t sure where the words came from but the last few were shouted louder than I have ever shouted anything.

With a shriek, shadows quickly unfolded themselves from the ground and surrounded me but I was ready for them.  I started to slash wildly with the sword, using more skill than I knew I had.  The things shrank back as if startled but pretty soon they were on the offensie again.  I had a burning sword but I could only cut them down so fast.  I pulled the sword from one as it gurgled in what I hoped was death.  I was very sure that the one behind me was about to cut me down in revenge.

There was a series of loud pops and a shriek from behind me and I turned as the shadow melted into the ground.  I looked past it and saw Katya holding a rifle with a determined look on her face.

“Fuckers try to kill me.  Let’s fuck ’em up, Ewan.” Katya growled, taking aim at another shadow.

“Of course, your highness!” I shouted as I went back on the attack.

Before long, nothing rose from the shadows to attack us and we found a bench to rest on.  I noticed neither of us let go of our weapons. Katya carefully settled her tiara back in place. The sword was no longer on fire and was just a cool, dull metal again though I was pretty sure it should have still been hot.  There was absolute silence and we just let it wash over us before we decided to move again.

Birthdays

January 20, 2015

I had a birthday recently.  My birthday is December 29 so it falls between Christmas and New Years Eve/Day.  You have probably heard people talk about how much that sucks.  It does or rather it did.  Lately I don’t really like making a big deal about my birthday.  It’s not about getting older that bothers me but more the belief that I don’t think it’s worth people getting excited about.  I’m just little ol’ me.  I like the occasional happy birthday wish in person or on facebook but other than that I feel embarassed to celebrate too much.  It’s kind of a situation where I want to have my cake but not make the cake into a spectacle while I eat it.
There is a family tradition of not celebrating my birthday on the 29th which developed from the aforementioned bad timing of my birthday.  You see, I never really suffered from having my birthday so close to Christmas.  At least, it never felt like I suffered from receiving less presents.  My family always did a good job of delineating Christmas and birthday presents.  I never felt cheated out of any presents because my family was always very generous and I never really wanted too much.
The part that sucked is that when I was little, I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my firends.  On December 29, all of us children were still on winter break from school and a lot of the time my friends were either out of town or too busy with their family and could not attend any extra parties.  It was pretty frustrating having my birthday come around and not have a party.  Birthday parties were the only social events we had as kids.  Eventually we figured out that we could just have my birthday party in April or May before school ended.
I was remembering a pretty bad memory lately that did happen on or around my birthday.  It was the depths of December after a particularly bad snowstorm.  We had actually decided to do a party for me during winter break and miraculously we pretty much got the whole crew on board.  It was important to me that my best friends Arthur and Farris were there and it was equally important that my friend James (or he had another name. I forget.) from pre-school was there.
My mother got her station wagon (they were all the rage at the time) and agreed to pick all of my friends up and ferry us to the Sports.  Sports was the coolest place ever because it had a massive arcade, batting cages and miniature golf.  It had the X-Men stand-up arcade game (4 players!) based on the awesome Pryde of the X-Men animated feature.  It also had the Punisher stand-up which I haven’t seen anywhere else before or since.
Now, James didn’t go to my school so I didn’t see him as much so we had some catching up to do.  I was happy to comply but this started drama with Farris who wanted to know who the hell this other guy was who was pulling me away from my school friends.  I tried my best to appease both sides and felt kind of bad about it.  Then my mom got stuck in what must have been four inches of snow going uphill.  We all had to get out and push and I thought to myself what a crappy birthday this was turning out to be.
In the end we got cups of tokens for the arcade, ate pizza and played mini golf and everyone mostly got along fine.  The birthday party turned out great but in retrospect it was probably yet another reason we stopped celebrating my birthday in winter.  James (or whatever) and I eventually drifted apart and I spent more time with my school friends with much less drama.  It may not have been a perfect birthday but it was one of the only ones I can remember from back then.

“Heartbreaker” Courtney Valentine

January 16, 2015

I wanted to put this one to bed since it has sat in my draft folder for months.  I rewrote this short storyline ending with Courtney Valentine becoming “Heartbreaker” Courtney Valentine because I still think that’s a cool moniker.  Last time we saw her she had become a villain but I thought I’d attempt a different take.  It took a while to finish.  The announcers don’t speak too often mostly because I often wish the announcers for the WWE would shut up more.  Character’s entrance music is mostly for mood, so don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.

Courtney Valentine
*                             *                                *

Week 1

<Courtney Valentine’s music plays as she heads to the ring.  She casts an annoyed glance back at her boyfriend Mikey Collins who is scanning the arena.  She shakes her head and marches confidently to the ring>

Announcer 1 (Cal Clarke): Looks like Seth Aron has gotten into the head of “Mr. Action” Mikey Collins, Mikey looks a bit jumpy.  I can’t figure out which Seth wants more, Mikey’s title or Courtney

Announcer 2 (Kate Pollard):  You don’t have to be so obvious, Cal.  Can we focus on Courtney Valentine for at least half a second?  She looks ready to go for her first contender’s match.

<Princess Viktoria’s music starts and she struts to the ring with her assistant Stefani in tow>

Cal:  She better be because here comes Princess Viktoria.

Ring Announcer: The following match is a number one contender’s match.  In this corner, from East Hampton, Massachusetts: Courtney Valentine!  <The audience and Mikey clap and cheer for Courtney>  And in this corner, from her estate outside of  Krakow, Poland: Princess Viktoria! <Princess Viktoria smiles and waves until she realizes she is being booed and starts screaming at the crowd before being calmed down by the referee.  She tosses her wrap in a huff at Stefani as Courtney smirks and hands her leather jacket to Mikey.>

<The match begins and Courtney fights hard, her huge heart clashing against Viktoria’s superior technical skill.  Just as it looks like Courtney is going to win, Seth’s music hits and Mikey rolls into the ring to defend his and Courtney’s honor.  The ref tries to push Mikey out of the ring and when that fails, he calls to the timekeeper and the bell ring>

Announcer: Your winner, by disqualification: Princess Viktoria!

<Courtney is filled with righteous anger and pushes Mikey who gives her a look like ‘What the Hell?’.  She angrily storms out of the ring and up the ramp, leaving Mikey to try and follow her.>

*                             *                                *

<Backstage, later in the show, Courtney and Mikey are getting ready in the back. Courtney looks angry.>

Mikey: You aren’t still angry.  Are you?

Courtney: Of course I am, Michael. Explain to me again why you were in that ring during my match?

Mikey: Seth was —

Courtney: Seth was making you look stupid.  You were ruining my shot at the gold, Mikey.  You need to get your head in the game.  You have a title defense coming up in two weeks.  I have my career to focus on too.  Forget Seth.  Forget him.  Think about you and me wearing gold side by side. OK?

Mikey: <Taking a deep breath> You got it, babe. It won’t happen again

<Suddenly, Seth walks into the dressing room>

Seth: Oops, sorry.  I thought this was my room.  Hello Mikey.  Courtney. <He grins>

<As Mikey stand up, Courtney beats him to the punch and slaps Seth across the face>

Courtney: You cost me my match!  Now get out and stay out!

<A stunned Seth walks back out of the room, whatever mind games he had planned are cut short. Mikey is stunned as well. Courtney turns on Mikey.>

Courtney: That’s how you deal with a bully. <She grins>

<Courtney grabs her jacket and heads out leaving Mikey stunned again>

Mikey: Wow. <He looks in her direction, impressed but a little put off>

*                             *                                *

Week 2

<Courtney is getting ready.  Mikey walks in with flowers. Courtney smiles.>

Courtney: Ok Mikey, you don’t have to try so hard.

Mikey: I just thought you deserved them for losing your title shot.

Courtney: Thanks. <She puts them in a large drink cup>  I’ll put them in something better later.  Right now I’ve got to get ready for my match.

Mikey: Yeah, I’ve got to get ready for mine too.

Courtney: Wait… you aren’t scheduled for a match.

Mikey: I’m going to call out Seth.  I’m going to finish this tonight.

Courtney: Mikey… no.  Just forget him.  That’s exactly what he wants.

Mikey: You have your fight and I have mine.  Relax, I’ve got this.  He won’t ever bother you again.

Courtney: Sure, Mikey.  I just… have a good match, ok?

Mikey: You too. <He heads out and Courtney sighs as she looks in the mirror>

*                             *                                *

<Mikey calls out Seth and Seth ends up knocking Mikey out so he does not accompany Courtney to the ring.  Courtney’s music hits and she is accompanied to the ring by her tag team partner of the night, “Fairy” Charlotte Marr.>

Ring Announcer:  This match is scheduled for one fall.  Coming to the ring from East Hampton, Massachusetts is Courtney Valentine and her partner from Baltimore, Maryland “Fairy” Charlotte Marr.

Kate Pollard:  Courtney and Charlotte look to be on the same page.  Courtney has got to have her eye on Princess Viktoria after the disqualification last time the two met.

Cal Clarke: That boat has sailed.  I wouldn’t be looking for a ‘Fairy’ tale ending for these two.  Especially since Mikey is not out here to support his girlfriend.

Kate: While support is nice it’s not necessary.  I’m pretty sure she’ll be fine without him.

<Princess Viktoria’s music hits and she struts to the ring with her partner “The Fifth Avenue Princess” Diane Covington and trailed by Stefani>

Cal:  Here come two A-listers.  The two princesses from either side of the pond showing cooperation.  They could buy and sell Charlotte and Courtney fifty times over.

Kate: I have a feeling they’re not for sale.

<The match begins and is pretty despite the heels taking Charlotte out of the game for quite a bit of the match.  It finally ends with Courtney pushing Ms. Covington off the apron and then hitting Viktoria with her Valentine’s Massacre finisher for the pin>

Cal: Wow, maybe she can beat Viktoria.

Kate: In a fair fight, anything can happen.

*                             *                                *

<Later in the show there is a shot of Courtney and a bandaged Mikey in the hallway before they notice the camera and they ask for privacy>

*                             *                                *

Week 3

<Mikey comes out to the ring and paces back and forth for a bit before accepting a microphone>

Mikey:  I have something to say.  Not to all of you <He points out at the audience> but to Courtney.  Two days ago she broke up with me.  Out of nowhere.  She gave me a lot of bullshit about why but we all know why.  I’ll get to you in a minute, Seth.   Courtney, I can’t believe  you would throw away all of the time we spent together.  After all the times that I supported you and you supported me, you just walk out and break my heart.  Fine.  We’re done.  Now Seth, you’ve crossed the line for the last time and I’m going to put you down at Jackpot even if I have to put my title on the line.  That’s right.  You and me for the Television title but I want it to be a street fight so come and get it, Seth.  <Mikey’s music plays as he stalks out of the ring and leaves>

*                             *                                *

<Later in the show Michelle catches up with Courtney Valentine backstage as she walks through the hallway. It has been announced that Courtney will get another shot at Princess Viktoria to determine who gets to face “Perfection” Dana Scott for the championship at the Jackpot PPV.>

Michelle: Courtney!  Can you comment on what Mikey had to say earlier?

Courtney: Well, I wanted to keep everything private but since Michael aired our dirty laundry, I guess that I do have a comment.  Like I told Michael, this decision has nothing to do with Seth.  It has to do with how we haven’t been communicating lately and how we’ve grown apart.  I want nothing to with Seth Aron.  I didn’t break your heart, Mikey.  At least I didn’t mean to.  But if you want to call me a heartbreaker then I can be that.  Call me “Heartbreaker” Courtney Valentine.  It’s time I crushed some more hearts and I’m moving on to you, Viktoria.  Then I think I’ll break Dana Scott’s heart.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to my match.

*                             *                                *

Week 4

<Courtney comes to the ring to new music and and announced at her request as “Heartbreaker” Courtney Valentine.  She defeats Viktoria fairly in the middle of the ring and is set to face Dana Scott for the gold at the PPV.  At the PPV, she wins the Women’s Championship and Mikey loses his belt.  They run into each other backstage the next night.>

Mikey:  Courtney!

Courtney: Oh hey… sorry about your belt.

Mikey: That’s ok.  I just wanted to say congratulations.  I thought about what you said and you were right.  I was kind of an ass.  I’m sorry.

Courtney: Mikey… thanks.  That means a lot.

Mikey: If you ever want to get a coffee and talk about it, you know my number.  Congratulations again, “Heartbreaker”.

Courtney: <Grins>  Thanks.  Good luck getting your belt back.

<The two part peacefully>

This the End, Dean

January 14, 2015

So, apparently my character was deemed unimportant by the GM and he probably killed my character off.  I’ll find out if my character died in the next session supposedly but I don’t have high hopes as he was left very injured and trapped.  So instead of just giving up, I decided to write the character into a different story.   I kind of dig the left turn I came up so I think I might run with it.

*             *            *

Two weeks later and Dean felt like he had barely had a moment of rest.  The cases were piled up and it was a hustle to get the jobs done and the checks collected on time so that the landlord didn’t pay a visit.  Dean would rather she did not know about him sleeping in the office.  It would not take a world class detective to figure it out and Dean didn’t need the hassle.  He rifled through the mini fridge he had snuck in and found nothing edible so it was time to call the chinese place and get something to stop the grumbling.  Then it would be over to the Carmichael residence to tail Mz. Carmichael for a while.  Maybe a search through the dumpsters behind Mr. Smith’s office.  Whatever it takes, however long it takes.

Outside the window, there was Harrison Wyatt and he was staring in with a hollow look in his eyes.  He was dressed in that trenchcoat he bought as a joke and Dean could see the glint of his gun just on the edge of vision.  You probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t expect it.  Dean casually slid open the desk drawer and unlocked the lockbox and saw that the gun was still right where he had left it.  Ghost dad couldn’t have the real gun.  Could he?

His dad’s eyes were staring at nothing and everything and he looked like he had been on a twenty four hour stake out.  He still looked the same as when Dean last saw him which was the strangest part.  He should have a caved in skull but his skull was as perfect as ever, only slightly dinged by angry cheating husbands.  Dean didn’t bolt after him but it took all of his self control.  Instead he walked up to the other side of the window and just watched his father through the glass.  Was he going insane or was his dad standing on the other side?  If he wasn’t crazy, what did that mean?

“You have to come with me.  The end is here.”  Harrison said suddenly.  Dean jumped a little and placed a hand against the glass.

“Dad?  What are you talking about?  Where have you been?”

“The other side.”

“Wait, I’m confused.  Are you dead or aren’t you?”

Harrison nodded slowly and then his eyes focused as if he was coming to. “I died.  It seems like forever.”

“It was my fault. I wasn’t there.  I’m sorry, Dad.”  Dean could feel tears starting to form but he could also feel a great weight relieved.  He had wanted to say that out loud for so long but there had nobody there to hear it.  At least, not after Kasey had left.

“Fuck that, Dean.  If you had been there you’d be dead too or who knows.  I don’t blame you.  I wouldn’t have come to get you if I did.”

Dean’s eyes went wide.  “Come to get me?  Did I die and not realize it?”

“No.  You’re not dead.  You will be if you don’t come with me right now.  The sun’s up and I have a feeling they’ll be making their move pretty soon.”

Dean had a lot of questions but he grabbed his coat and walked outside to meet his dad.  After a beat, they shook hands and Dean found himself grinning uncontrollably.  He wasn’t going crazy after all and he wasn’t alone anymore.  “Dad..”

“No time.  Come on.” He started to walk fast and Dean had to push hard to keep up.

“Hold up a little. The living still have to use lungs and muscles.”

“You’re taking this pretty well.”

“Well, I was either crazy or you were a ghost.  Strangely, the latter choice was more acceptable.  I think I can learn to embrace this.”

“Well, get ready for a lot of changes.  Hold here.”

“What do you mean by changes?”  That’s when the screaming started.  The screams seemed to come from every corner of the city and the sky started to grow dark.  There were sounds that Dean could not begin to guess what they were.

“Dad!?  What’s going on?!”

“The end of the world.”

“You’re taking that pretty well.  Should I be concerned?” Dean asked, looking around the alley where they had paused.  It looked like any normal, barely defensible alley.  Dean went to draw his gun and cursed.  It was back in his damn desk drawer and it sounded like the whole world was going to Hell.

“Not if I have the timing right.  Timing is everything, right?” Harrison grinned and checked his watch.  Dean was still not sure how his father had a watch or clothes or anything really.  This was all going so fast and although Dean tried to keep calm, this was insanity.  Maybe it wasn’t too late to just be insane and take some meds or get comitted or something.  While he was thinking about all of this he missed something his father had just said.

“Wait, what did you say!?” Dean shouted, finding it difficult to make himself heard over all the screaming.

His father shook his head and started to repeat himself but the words were lost in a loud static-like sound as a hole seemed to open in the brick wall behind them.  It was too much and Dean started to lose it.  Luckily, this is when his father grabbed a hold of him and shoved him through the strange, massive hole.  Dean’s whole world went black and then an eye-searing white and everything hurt so horribly.  He closed his eyes but it didn’t help at all as the light seemed like it was penetrating his being.  Eventually, after what felt like hours, the pain stopped and the light receded and Dean was standing on a street corner.

“Where are we?” Dean asked, finding that his voice shook a bit.

“I call it Nowhere.  It’s a place in between worlds.”

“In between worlds?  What about my world?  What about our world.”

“Our world has been consumed.  I heard some players are taking some steps to prevent it but we couldn’t rely on that.  This place is our home now.”  Harrison said, lighting up a cigarette.  There was no smell to the smoke.

“Ok.  All of that is confusing but.. what do I do here?” Dean asked.

“Do?  I got you a sweet gig, Dean.  You’re the new Sheriff of Nowhere.”

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Real Wrestlers

January 12, 2015

WILPW

Real Wrestlers

I have touched upon this before but I have great respect for High School, Collegiate and Olympic wrestling.  I cringe every time that I see or hear it referred to as “amateur wrestling”.  There is nothing amateur about what can often be a high-speed, physical chess game with a crowd watching.  I wrestled in middle school and high school and it was probably the most physically demanding thing that I have ever done.  Training to wrestle competitively is an exercise in conditioning and adding to your physical memory.  When you’re out there facing an opponent, you must pull the correct series of moves out of a mental Rolodex in order to win.  You must learn about leverage and at least a little about human anatomy and how to dominate another human being.  That’s why I call it “real wrestling”.

I am especially proud of my little brother who went to several local and state championships and dominated because he combined fitness with intelligence.  My own career paled in comparison because he truly had a passion for the sport.

That being said, I wanted to pay tribute to just a handful of the real wrestlers who decided to become sports entertainers when they retired from the sport. There are more guys than are contained in this list but I don’t want to take that much of your time up. By and large, those who were wrestlers first have a larger list of moves their capable of doing, adapt easier and have the best conditioning.  This makes them the best performers in the ring and if they are blessed to have charisma, they usually excel in the business.

Even those who have just dabbled in amateur wrestling did better than their bodybuilder co-workers.  To name just a few dabblers: Ric Flair, Mick Foley, The Rock and Owen Hart.  All of them wrestled in high school and are some of the best at putting a solid match together.  Compare them to guys like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior and you can see where the benefits of being a real wrestler come in.


Dolph Ziggler

I have three words about Real Wrestling’s effect on Dolph Ziggler’s in-ring style: Conditioning, conditioning and conditioning.  It really seems to me like the man could wrestle forever.  His athleticism is unquestionable and he portrays a vicious tenacity.  He is currently one of the best at showing pain in his body language and facial expressions and I bet he got a lot of practice during his real wrestling career.   After all, he was an All-Mid-American Conference champion three times and is second all-time in victories at Kent State.


Shelton Benjamin

Look at the bottom of this post to see who Shelton Benjamin first teamed with when he hit the mainstream.  The WWE immediately embraced Benjamin’s real wrestling career and brought him in as a trained tactician who had speed and agility on his side as well.  Benjamin’s career shone bright as he used a combination of kicks, high-flying and mat skills to take on opponents.  Unfortunately, he left the bright lights of the WWE when they dropped the ball but he still continues in Japan and independent promotions in the US.  He won the South Carolina State High School Championship two times and had a win-loss record of 122-10.


Jack Swagger

There is no questioning that Swagger was involved in real wrestling.  His build and the way he moves are clear indicators and he obviously understands leverage a lot.  There have been some bumps in the road of Jack Swagger’s career because he lacks some of the necessary charisma but nobody has ever questioned his skill or athleticism.  He does his best work when paired up with a mouthpiece so that he can do all of his talking in the ring.  He was a two-sport athlete at The University of Oklahoma but once he quit football he was an All-American.


Brock Lesnar

A controversial success story like no other, Brock Lesnar keeps taking the time to stop by and dominate the world of sports entertainment.  Brock Lesnar is a physical specimen and it shows with how easily he picks up and manages a human being.  Even with the power game he has had since day one, he has tried to update his list of moves every so often.  Unfortunately, this resulted in him blowing a shooting star press and landing on his head but everybody has setbacks.  I wish Brock would either stick around or leave sports entertainment but I like his current run as champ.  He was a two-time NJCAA All-American, 1998 NJCAA Heavyweight Champion, two-time NCAA All-American, two-time Big Ten Conference Champion and the 2000 NCAA heavyweight champion with a record of 106–5 overall in four years of college.


Kurt Angle

I have been pretty impressed by Kurt Angle since day one.  He showed up in the WWE during the late nineties at the height of the attitude era.  He became a heel because he was a legit athlete and was not afraid to tell everybody in the building at home about it.  His gold medal was shoved down our throats so much that we hated him for it.  However, looking back his accomplishments are amazing and completely impressive.  He is from a pretty exclusive club of real Olympic athletes and there aren’t many of them in the business.  It’s a shame his later career was marred a bit by drug abuse but he seems to be mostly past that and still outperforms younger guys. He is one of only four people to complete a Grand Slam in amateur wrestling (junior nationals, NCAAs, World Championships and the Olympics).

Top 11 Musicals

January 11, 2015

I have been involved with theater for a long time.  I was brought to Broadway at a young age and my family frequented the Mechanic Theater and the Lyric Opera House quite a bit.  I even saw Oliver! at a West End London theater at age twelve.  I went through a period where I hated musicals because some of them are poorly written.  RENT especially made me hate musicals for years and I instead embraced Shakespeare and the theater I attended was the kind without singing and dancing.  I eventually went to school for theater but Rutgers never did musicals, instead focusing on acting.  In my short career in professional theater I worked on a few musicals but a lot of them weren’t very good or were for kids.  Still, there are a few musicals out there that I still like.  Here’s the top 11.


1 Annie Get Your Gun

To this day I can’t remember when I was exposed to this musical.  I’m fairly certain we didn’t do it in High School because we rarely did anything this cool in school.  I am reasonably sure I didn’t see the movie version (which is excellent) until later.  I must have seen the show live at some point then.   I doubt it was at the Mechanic and I know I didn’t see the Broadway revival.  According to the internet I could have seen it at the Kennedy Center which actually seems likely.  Regardless, I love this tale of a strong-willed woman getting lost in the world of the show business and then finding herself and her strength again.  The songs are all catchy as hell and there were many times that the entire soundtrack was blaring through my headphones in my late teens.


2 Guys and Dolls

I remember where I first saw this musical.  I first saw Guys and Dolls at the Ritz Theater in Haddon, New Jersey.  The theater’s pretty small but when I went to Camp Shohola, they did an annual live theater trip where you could go and see a show with your fellow campers.  I was blown away by the music and the characters but at the same time I had to play it cool because I didn’t want to seem like a theater nerd in front of the boys.  We were in the back few rows but the place is small enough that you’re still very close.  The score is lively and the show has some pretty good messages about managing your expectations of life and what it means to be in a healthy relationship.  It’s basically a Shakespearean comedy of misunderstandings modernized and set to an excellent Jazz score.  The movie version is pretty good as well as you would think it would be since it stars Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.  Of course, Marlon Brando singing is a little… you know what?  He’s fine.


3 Singin’ in the Rain

I’ve only seen the movie version of this musical but it is really excellent.  As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, the musical is formed by stealing good songs from earlier, inferior musicals.  Of course, I have no problem with this because they took the songs and refurbished and repurposed them for a good cause.  The musical is both a tribute and sometimes almost a parody of musicals from the twenties and thirties.  However, the plot is way funnier and much better constructed than any 30’s musical I have ever seen.  Gene Kelly is basically the human personification of dance and did the Singin’ in the Rain dance number in one take with a 103 degree fever.  The young Debbie Reynolds is amazing and more than matches the skill and enthusiasm of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.  It really feels like more than just a love story even though the love story is pretty central to the plot.


4 George M

This musical celebrates the loud and passionate personality of George M. Cohan who was a famous composer and star on Broadway after a successful vaudeville career.  Cohan was a famous composer but I don’t think I can point to a lot you would recognize.  He wrote a lot of patriotic tunes and love songs in an energetic ragtime style.  By all accounts, Cohan was a brash and energetic go-getter although this musical kind of exaggerates things.  Historically accurate or not, this movie follows the meteoric rise of George Cohan as he rises through the ranks of the Vaudeville circuit all the way to Broadway.  The music is mostly extremely patriotic as Cohan wrote a lot of his lyrics between World War I and World War II.  One of the things I love about the musical is that it’s about one man’s life and career and not another love story.


5 Little Shop of Horrors

I was always pretty surprised when I saw science fiction enter anything close to mainstream.  When I was younger, most people tended to shy away from science fiction which was right up my alley and what I discussed with my friends while people gave us odd looks.  Geeky things remained geeky until lately but back when Little Shop was made, it was pretty unique.  First, it has a very unlikely protagonist who starts off pretty weak-willed and physically unimposing.  Second, it involved the threat of a killer plant that wants to eat people and take over the world.  So there’s that.  Throw in a lot of catchy doowop style tunes and unexpectedly you have a really good musical.   The movie version was excellent but on further review I was disappointed they didn’t stick with the musical’s original ending.


6 The Music Man

I have a special place in my heart for tales of liars and conmen eventually redeeming themselves while being impossibly charming and entertaining.  This musical has all of that plus the somewhat alien (at least to me) concept of living in a small town.  The three main songs from the show are Trouble, 76 Trombones and Goodnight, My Someone.  Trouble has reached far into the pop culture consciousness and was even parodied pretty early on by The Simpsons (Monorail).  The remaining two hits actually share a lot but I don’t want to ruin it for you.  I never saw a stage version but the movie version hits the spot.  I wasn’t expecting the movie to actually be touching but it kind of swerved me.


7 Bye Bye Birdie

Another musical that I have not seen on stage but the movie version is too good to pass up.  Of course, I’m talking about the 1963 version starring Dick Van Dyke who was strangely the king of quirky movie musicals around that time.  It also has Paul Lynde playing a straight man but we’ll just scoot on by that.  The musical largely capitalizes on the super fame of musicians like Elvis Presley and even mirrors Elvis’ getting drafted.  It has some really catchy lyrics and bouncy music that’s hard to get out of your head.   Dick Van Dyke is on fire and this performance makes me wonder why he was ever criticized for things like Mary Poppins (even with his silly accent).   There are two love stories but both are balanced by a story about getting caught up in fame and rumor mills.


8 Cabaret

This is a gritty little, intimate musical about Germany during the lead up to World War II.  It also happens to be about relationships, prejudice and sexual politics.  The show is intercut with musical numbers and clever satire performed at a cabaret called the Kit Kat Club in Berlin.  The whole story takes place in Berlin during a turbulent time in history but also a turbulent time in a young writer’s life.  The show is raunchy and funny and tragic and very messy.  I was first introduced to the musical through the movie version which is excellent.  I later got to see the revival with Natasha Richardson and Alan Cumming and it was much more amazing live.  Below the playful surface there is a powerful show that is definitely worth a watch.


9 Chicago

The signature song All That Jazz is a pretty good summation of the musical style and the visual style of this show.  This is a very presentational show that feels like the characters are putting on a show for you rather than each other.  Considering that most of the characters are in prison, it’s almost like they are trying for the court of public opinion.  The score and songs are heavy on what I call White People Jazz that really works.  I didn’t see the show until the Broadway revival.  I can’t remember who the female leads were but Billy Zane was in it and he was great.  The show has no love story and is instead about the nature of guilt and public perception.  The movie version is ok but it loses a lot of the excitement from the stage version’s presentational style.


10 Fiddler on the Roof

This was the very first musical I worked on and also the first live theater production I worked on voluntarily.  This musical is very epic in scope and has a handful of love stories but it all forms a tapestry of what it is like to be Jewish in a small town in Russia in the early 1900’s.  I saw a high school version where I grew up in Baltimore long before I saw any professional actors in the roles.  I have to say, and I might be biased, when I finally saw Zero Mostel in the movie version, I thought our production was pretty damn good.  The musical is very much structured around Zero Mostel’s acting style but it’s a great show.  It’s only at the bottom here because the second act is so sad.


11 Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

This is kind of a silly little musical built around Dolly Parton.  The plot is literally about a whorehouse in Texas that is endangered by the moral authority when all Dolly wants to do is make a little money.  It’s the strangest sort of tale about the little guy taking on the big guy that I’ve ever seen.  The music is some of the catchiest country twang that I’ve ever heard which makes sense with Dolly Parton being involved.  I first saw the movie version in preparation for working as a spotlight operator for a summer stock production.  Believe me, there’s nothing that can prepare you at age 16 to see a whole bunch of your female classmates pretending to be prostitutes on stage. (And yes that’s how I’m ending this post)

The Key – Episode 5

January 9, 2015

(You can find earlier episodes of The Key in the Archives to the right)

The drive to Carly’s apartment was done with unsteady hands and frayed nerves and Robin definitely caught herself making little distraught sounds now and then.  The Doll Girl had been almost as frightening as the Beetle Man.  Of course, the Beetle Man had changed into a mysterious and attractive young man but there was no guarantee it would happen again. The Doll Girl could have just as easily tried to skin Robin alive and nobody would find out for a long time.  All of this was too much and she could no longer be sure of her decisions or her own senses.  It reminded her of that one party where she had taken a hit of acid, a memory she had mostly repressed.

She pulled along the curb in front of Carly’s place and wondered for a moment why it was so empty on the streets.  Then she remembered that Carly’s side of the street had to be clear for the street-sweeper in the morning which was mere hours away.  She almost decided to take her chances before she spotted a space on the other side of the street.  She pulled into the spot after only a couple tries.  As she reached for the handle to exit, she was gripped violently by overwhelming terror.  She shook her head violently.  Robin could almost swear that something huge was moving out there in the darkness just out of range of the streetlights.  Actually, the streetlights seemed a lot dimmer.

Robin hit the door lock button even though the doors were already locked as lamp after lamp seemed to flicker and then go out.  She shut her eyes tight in the darkness and could have sworn the car moved a bit as if something had brushed up against it.  Maybe the car was the safest place to spend the rest of the night after all.  Besides, Carly would not appreciate being woken up in the middle of the night.  Especially not by a half-crazed friend being pursued by demons or ghosts or something.  In the morning she would go get breakfast for her and Carly and surprise her then.  Then she would discover that the whole night had been a bad dream or her drink had been spiked or she had a parasite.  A few minutes more of such comforting thoughts and she lost consciousness.

When she woke up hours later the sun streaked through the windshield into her bleary eyes as if the shadows had never existed.  She wondered for a few moments if Other Robin had taken over during the night.  She should have taken precautions against this ages ago but had no idea what those precautions might be.  She wished for all of those years back when she had been mostly ignorant about Other Robin and wished she had chained herself down or locked herself in.  She wished she had done anything to prevent all of this from happening because, as much as she wanted to, she knew that none of it had been a dream.  As strange as it had all been, it also felt very real.  Too real.

There was suddenly a knocking on the passenger side window but it sounded like fireworks going off and she had seven consecutive heart attacks.  This is the moment when Robin discovered her brand new hangover.  Funny, she hadn’t felt too bad a moment ago.  She turned her head and realized that it was Kim, knocking on the window with a perfectly manicured hand. Kim was a friend of Carly’s but Robin had only talked to her once or twice before.  She looked around and then rolled down the window slowly.  It was probably safe now that the darkness was gone and even if it wasn’t Robin couldn’t have anybody thinking she was crazy.

“You’re Robin, right?  Hi!  What are you doing out here?” Kim said with too much perkiness and that barely concealed pity and worry of a mother.  Was Kim a mother?  If she was, did that make Robin psychic now? It was at this point that Robin realized it was her turn to speak.

“Um, visiting. Carly.” Robin mumbled as if the two words were separate thoughts that she had decided to connect at the last minute.  She felt a little embarrassed and found it hard to make eye contact.

“Oh!  Yeah, she must have forgotten to tell you about going on vacation.”  Kim said.  She had either decided to swallow the worry or she was acting willfully ignorant of Robin’s sad state.  It was crazy how quickly her smile took over her face and radiated out like a second sun.  The real world was just as weird as the shadows sometimes.

“Oh.  Yeah.  I guess so.” Robin replied half-heartedly as if this was normal and would be a funny story later.  She wanted to crawl into a deep, dark hole and fall back asleep.  She needed hours more of sweet, precious sleep.

“Would you like to go get some breakfast?”  Kim tilted her head to the side and for a moment Robin superimposed Kim with a little corgi dog.  She did not want to go to breakfast with this girl who she barely knew.  She wanted to go home but she really didn’t want to go home.  The Doll Girl was still there.  Then her stomach growled which pretty much sealed the deal.

“Sure. Let’s go to breakfast.” She heard herself say.  It wasn’t Other Robin speaking but it may as well have been.  She stepped rolled up the window and stepped from the car and into the sunlight which seemed way too yellow.

Kim was wearing pink and yellow while Robin was wearing all black.  Kim had a healthy tan while Robin was almost as pale as chalk which made her tattoos stand out even more.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

Robin tried to stay steady as she blinked in the harsh sunlight.  Everything under the sun looked like it belonged to some alien world.  She was never up this early and it almost felt stranger than the strange new world she had discovered in the shadows.  As soon as this was over with, she was crawling into her backseat and going back to sleep.  Ther was nothing she could get done until she rested again.

“What are you thinking about?”  Kim asked, choosing an outside table at a cafe before Robin could object.  She decided to let it go even though she could almost still see her getaway car from her seat.  At least there was an umbrella.  She dragged her gaze back toward Kim and smiled.  It wasn’t Kim’s fault that this was so awkward.  It was time to fake being normal, at least for a little time.

“Just a little stressed lately.  I’m trying to figure things out.” Robin responded with what felt like the fakest smile she had ever used.  “You know how it is, trying to plan the rest of your day. Right?”

“Oh yeah.  Carly told me about your blackouts.  That must make things tough.”  Kim said casually as if those sentences were somehow allowed and meant nothing.  As if that wasn’t deeply personal.  Robin fought hard not to wince when the words came and she thought she was mostly successful.  She was self-conscious enough about them without a conversation about her medical (or magical?) state.

“Yeah, they’re not fun.  I think I’m starting to understand them a little more now.”  She replied, trying to be as vague as possible.

“Are you going to Carly’s bachelorette party?” Kim asked in an obvious bid to change the subject to save everybody from a conversational sinkhole.  Robin had to fight not to sigh with relief.

“Not at first.” Robin responded.  “But the second stop is the bar I work at so I can join you all for the fun after that.”

“Oh good!  I’ll bring your goodie bag along with us then.”

“Thank you.  That’s really nice.” Robin felt kind of bad for judging Kim earlier but chalked it up to nerves and exhaustion and quickly let herself off the hook.

“Anything for one of Carly’s friends.  I want everyone to have a good time.”

Robin felt that maybe Kim wasn’t so bad after all.  She was just way sunnier than Robin could ever hope to be even if she wanted that kind of life.  That did not make Kim the devil anymore than it made Robin the devil.

The two of them kept talking with Kim doing most of the talking between dainty bites of breakfast.  As much as she craved it, Robin abstained from coffee with the intention of going back to sleep.  Successful conversation topics were few and far between as the two of them had very little in common.  Still, things were civil and Robin felt she could stand the energetic woman at least in small doses.

Of course, that was was when another blackout happened.

Top 11 Movies I’m Excited About in 2015

January 7, 2015

It’s been a while since I followed the lead of my friend Joe so I thought I’d talk about the Top 11 movies that I’m most excited about.  There’s a lot more movies that I saw while I researched this.  Mad Max: Fury Road, Pan, Cinderella, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the Jungle Book really look good too but didn’t make the list.


1. Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)

Avengers is in my top 5 favorite movies and I’ve loved every single part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.  I am interested to see the characters reunite after what they went through individually during Phase 2 and how the group dynamic may change and evolve.  Now that they more or less trust each other, it will be interesting to see them fight Ultron instead of each other.  Also, it will be interesting to see what they do with Quicksilver since he was already a huge hit in the recent X-Men movie.  We haven’t seen a cinematic Scarlet Witch yet so that should definitely be exciting.


2. Ant-man (July 17)

I’m sure we’re all disappointed that Edgar Wright didn’t get to do his take on Antman.  I would have liked to see that version but I think in the end it will be for the best.  While Hank Pym is an interesting character he also has kind of a history of being an asshole so I’m glad they are focusing instead on Scott Lang.  Having to take up the mantle of one of the smartest men on Earth has always made for a good story.  Besides, I loved Lang’s stints in the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and his relationship with his daughter Stature.  I have faith in this movie.


3. Inside Out (June 12)

I used to say “Pixar can do no wrong” and then Cars 2, Monsters U and Planes came along.  Still, they are the best animation studio on the planet.  (They were tied with Studio Ghibli in my heart but that’s over now)  The shots that I’ve seen of Inside Out so far have shown some smooth character design and animation and it will probably have that usual Pixar flair.  I don’t know a lot about the movie but I prefer to shelter myself from Pixar spoilers before I see the finished product.


4. Tomorrowland (May 22)

This movie has been the subject of a lot of speculation since it was inadvertently announced.  When the name first appeared on some crates at a Disney exhibit, the press guessed that it was part of Star Wars 7.  They were corrected and informed that it was a science fiction movie that has nothing to do with aliens.  Then Disney pretty much went radio silent on the movie for a while.  I am a huge Disney nerd so I’m intrigued about this movie especially after learning that filming was done at both Disneyland and my beloved Disney World.


5. Spectre (November 6)

I like James Bond.  Sure some of the movies sucked and were a total waste of time but at least they were memorable.  The current iteration is miles ahead of Pierce Brosnan’s tenure and I’m interested to see where they go.  They’re both retreading stuff we’ve seen before and showing us a lot of stuff we haven’t seen before.  It’s been all but confirmed that we’re getting the first appearance of Blofeld in this new continuity and that will be intensely interesting.  I hope he can at least match what


6. Jurrasic World (June 12)

I have unashamedly loved every single Jurassic Park movie.  Before you ask: Yes, even Lost World.  I have never regretted watching a Jurassic Park movie and I don’t expect that is going to change anytime soon.  This time, instead of Jeff Goldblum or Sam Neill, we’re getting Chris Pratt which is kind of sad and kind of awesome.  Guardians of the Galaxy quickly shot up to my top 5 movies ever so I’m excited to see more of his career.


7. Kingsman: The Secret Service (February 13)

Even if Matt Vaughn recently put down my beloved Dark Knight, he still puts out a really good comic book movie.  This looks really good and I like a good spy/action film.  It could end up giving Bond a run for his money but I won’t hold my breath.  Unfortunately it will be released the same week as Fifty Shades of Grey which is Valentine’s Day weekend. Yeah, let that sink in.


8. Furious 7 (April 3)

I am not defending this one because fuck you. I have grown to love the later Fast and Furious movies especially the last two.   The earlier ones were kind of boring but, as the movies got more ridiculous, they got more entertaining.  This is the part that Vin Diesel was born to play (that and XXX but I digress).   The movie will be loud, corny and flashy and will have the Rock in it.  I’m sold.


9. Mission Impossible 5 (December 25)

The Mission Impossible series has just gotten better as it has continued but in the opposite way that the Furious series has.  It has gotten a little edgier and a little more serious with each movie.   I loved the addition of Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg in the last movie and that will continue in the next movie.  At the same time they are bringing back Ving Rhames and adding Alec Baldwin.  I like to think that we can all just accept that Tom Cruise is a nutball who makes decent movies.


10. The Hateful Eight (November 13)

I’ve enjoyed everything that Quentin Tarantino has ever done in his career from top to bottom.  Tackling a western is actually pretty logical for him after Django Unchained and I’m interested to see what he can do with it.  Tarantino will also reunite with Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Madsen and Kurt Russell while taking on Channing Tatum and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I could go on listing all of the neat casting choices he’s made but I’ll spare you.  He has a history of getting good performances out of unlikely actors and actresses so I’m excited to see what is probably his take on the Magnificent Seven.

macbeth

11. Macbeth (Sometime in 2015. Also no trailer yet so.. hmm)

I have studied Shakespeare since I first put my hands on Romeo and Juliet at age 14 and I have worked on a lot of stage productions of his plays.  I own at least two copies of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and I have visited his birth home and his marriage home. I would have visited the Globe but it was under renovations at the time.  Macbeth is the bad luck title but since this is the internet and not the theater we’re ok.  I watch pretty much every version of Shakespeare that hits theaters except for some of the obscure modernizations.  This one stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cottilard who are both on point.  I always thought Macbeth was a more interesting story than Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet which sometimes unfairly get more press.  We’ll see how this one turns out.

Bonus:

Yes I left off Star Wars 7.  I am really hesitant about this one.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge fan of Star Wars as a kid and I owned a lot of the action figures and watched the original trilogy over and over.  (God I wish I had those figures now so I could eBay them so fast)  Also, I didn’t hate the second trilogy as much as a lot of people did. Sure, Phantom Menace was a disappointment but it had some cool moments.  The trilogy more or less redeemed itself as it went on despite some really cheesy moments that I just conveniently repress.  The thing is, I thought Star Wars was all done and I had accepted that.  Maybe I’ll get more excited as we get closer.


susanne matthews

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