Archive for June, 2016

Shotgun

June 6, 2016

Tres set his shotgun on the bar and reached behind it to grab a bottle while the bartender had stepped into the back. The barback gave him a rude look but he grinned and caressed the shotgun so the guy would keep his mouth shut. It worked, as the bartender came back, Tres slipped out the back door with bottle and shotgun in tow. Nobody chased him immediately so he strolled toward his car and holstered the shotgun so it was a little bit more inconspicuous. He looked down at the bottle and was surprised and pleased to see it was the good stuff. He was going to be in some trouble with the owner later thanks to the camera but Tres could pay for it. Stealing was just a thrill and thrills were to be relished whenever possible.

Tres had given up his name a long time ago. He had been an orphan, fighting on the street and he had been offered the chance to fight for truth, justice and all of that other crap. He had given up his name in exchange for a number and the power to fight anything in the world. Of course, that is when he had found out that there were plenty of things in the world which people did not know about. For centuries there had been all sorts of nasty creatures lurking around that wanted to prey on human beings. Ms. Apple, the woman who had given Tres his abilities, had said that there were a couple different organizations fighting the threats. However, Tres believed his organization was probably the best.

Tres climbed into his car and found that the GPS unit attached to the dash was already working. There was no address on the screen but there were coordinates and, as soon as he turned the car on, the speakers started telling him what to do. All of this hoodoo had been really creepy when he started. He rarely had contact with other agents or his superiors beyond Ms. Apple. It was sort of like being haunted. Some vague, supernatural force was always telling him where to go and when. Of course, they could also be hacking into his GPS but, considering all of the other trappings, it was probably some supernatural effect. Tres really did not care either way but sometimes he pondered it out of curiosity. It was a game and Tres liked games.

Tres tucked the bottle into the door and peeled out of the parking lot, heeding the guidance from the GPS. He had tried to make the thing use a different voice but so far he was stuck with an annoyed British man. He had not realized that a GPS device could get angry but there it was, nearly growling directions at him. The car trailed thick, purple smoke that was a side effect of its cloaking runes. The rune magic allowed Tres to gun the engine so he could race toward his target at nearly a hundred miles per hour. He would have gone faster but the thing had started to shake at 95 so he kept it just below. Cops could not see the car and radar was useless against its smoky magic. People tended to kind of notice it out of the corner of their mind. They would get out of its way but they would not realize why they did it.

Tres eventually rolled up to a shack in the middle of nowhere. The GPS barked at him, telling him that this was the place and it was time to do his job or else. Tres never thought too much about or else. Considering what was at play, ‘or else’ was probably too frightening to consider. So he got out of the car, took a pull from the bottle and licked his lips before capping it and tossing it back into the car. He drew the shotgun from its holster and made his way toward the shack to get this over with. There was only ever one mission he was given and it was always ‘seek and destroy’. He happened to love those orders.

He kicked open the door of the shack, not knowing who or what to expect inside. There was a dreadful silence as he looked around and tried to find something to shoot at so he could back to that bottle. The floorboards creaked but Tres realized that it was not his weight on top of them that made them creak. They were creaking because something was pushing from underneath them. There was a surge of creaking and then cracking and then a massive arm tore through the floor and slammed into Tres’ chest, sending him flying back through the door. He rolled with the punch, doing a backward somersault and keeping a hold of the gun.

The shack started to fall apart as the thing crawled from the wreckage and roared at Tres. This thing might have stayed hidden for months, years or decades but Tres’ runes probably woke it up. It was all for the best. Better Tres than some unwitting tourist with a neat souvenir necklace or something. The thing was twelve feet tall and Tres was not about to let it get its bearings. He opened fire with the shotgun, aiming for its center mass and then the limbs. The first shot barely fazed it and neither did the second, the third shot caught its arm and sent it spinning but it quickly recovered. It was time to bring out the big guns.

Tres stroked the tattoos on his arm and felt the surge of power. The power grew in his arm and then his chest and then all over his body. His skin grew hard and gray as it became stony and armor-like. Cracks formed in that stone skin and underneath it energy could be seen like magma. The power surged into the shotgun and it grew to three times its size. Tres looked for the best spot to hit this thing and saw it turn and look with its one eye. Tres had played enough video games to know what that probably meant and took aim. He gently squeezed the trigger and the shotgun erupted. The fiery projectiles blasted into the thing’s head and out the other side. It collapsed and started to turn into to viscous black fluid. Tres headed back for the bottle.

100 Questions to Ask Each Other #3

June 4, 2016

(See the two previous posts with questions here and here. Once again, thanks to Half a 1000 Miles)

42. When someone gets mad and says that they said something they really didn’t mean, did they actually say something they really did mean, but just didn’t say it kindly?

Sometimes anger can remove our filters and make us say things that we shouldn’t but we do believe. However, I think that anger makes people crazy. It certainly makes me crazy. I say or think things that don’t make any sense. I’ve gotten paranoid and desperate and I’ve demonized people in a one vs. all mentality. I have said, done and thought a lot of crazy things when my anger problems and depression problems have collided. However, in the heat of the moment, I have meant everything I said even if I did not mean it later. Anger causes madness and when the anger limps away, there’s a lot of regret.

43. Are calm people just less passionate?

Most calm people I know are not less passionate, they are just better at controlling their surface emotions. They focus on what is deeper and are more rational when dealing with emotions. I envy those people sometimes when I have lost my cool yet again. Of course, there’s also the people I have known who were calm because they smoked a lot of pot. Those people are also still passionate, just mostly about either creative endeavors or video games.

44. Would you be more likely to remain loyal to a brand that had never let you down OR one that let you down and then had bent over backward to compensate?

It would be difficult for the latter to be true. I have a tendency to move on once a product has let me down unless they have a track record of satisfying my needs. I think if a brand disappointed me but then moved heaven and hell to make it up to me, I would appreciate that more. It feels like companies have acceptable losses these days and are more likely to write you off if you complain. That is kind of why people like small businesses so much because a lot of them chase down every customer and try to assure satisfaction.

45. Same question as above, but now about a person.

Obviously, people are different from a brand. If somebody lets you down, that damages your relationship and sometimes it can be really hard to come back from that. I think somebody who is unfailingly loyal to me deserves my respect more than somebody who needs redemption. That does not mean that redemption is not possible or worthwhile but until it is achieved, I find it hard to trust somebody. I respect those who work toward redemption but I respect those who work harder to make redemption unnecessary more.

46. If your current partner said “That’s not the way I would have done it”, is it more likely a compliment to your imagination OR an indicator that they think you did something the wrong or hard way?

I don’t have a current partner but I know that when I say that phrase, I am usually impressed by however that person accomplished a task. I am constantly interested in the different thought patterns people have and, as funny as it sounds, I am sometimes shocked that everyone doesn’t think the same way I do. However, I often let people know how I accomplished a task to show them a different way. Just the other day I watched somebody cook steaks in a George Foreman grill and remarked that I usually cook steaks in the oven. It was just an observation. However, when I talk about cooking bacon in an oven it is more dogmatic and critical.

47. Would you rather have written directions to follow OR a drawn map to a nearby location?

I would rather have written directions. I am a hopelessly devoted disciple of the written word. I have talked on here about how rarely I take pictures even though my phone is great at it. If anything, I’d rather write about the experience because it means so much more than a picture to me. Pictures lose their context over time but words are always descriptive and explanatory. With written directions, you get the correct street names and where exactly to turn. As long as the directions are clear and descriptive you should be fine.

48. Do you work harder OR less hard when your boss is out of town?

I often work harder when my boss is out of the office. When there is nobody doing periodic checks or looking over my shoulder, it’s easier for my ADD mind to focus in and do some heavy lifting. I tend to get a little nervous sometimes when I am being closely supervised because I wonder what their opinion is of how well I am doing. When I have authority and I know what I am doing then I know I can handle business and get things done fast. I prefer the boss to be out but I understand that they are usually in and I try to make a positive out of that rather than a negative.

49. If you had to pick between the two, would you rather your partner have a habit of silent gratitude OR silent anger?

I would rather my partner have silent gratitude. If I had to coax out a thank you, I think that would be fine because I know I did things to make them happy. If they are happy then I really don’t need to hear them say thank you all the time. With silent anger, I would worry that they were angry all of the time and especially that they were angry with me. If somebody has a problem, I want them to just tell me. I don’t want somebody to be angry when I could have helped repair the damage if they had just spoken up.

50. Could you discipline your employee for spending time reading joke emails that your superior had sent them?

No, I definitely could not discipline an employee for that. I would definitely wag my finger a little at them because they should no better but I could not officially discipline them. Making nice with the boss is a skill that everybody needs to master to get anywhere in life so reading their joke e-mails is a small sacrifice to make. However, I would suggest that the employee read the e-mails on a break or at lunch rather than during work hours. I could not be too much of a hardass about it because laughter is a surefire way to keep a workplace’s stress levels down.

51. Does being in a big crowd energize you OR drain you?

Being in a big crowd definitely drains me severely. I am an introvert. Every time I have taken the Meyers-Briggs test I have tested as a strong introvert. Being in a crowd starts making me paranoid that people are paying attention to me and that is a big fear of mine. Back in the day, if I was late to church, I would just not go because I was worried about people watching me enter the room. In a big crowd, I also have to worry about moving through it while I try to be touched by the least amount of people as possible. If you do not know what I am talking about, walk through the Inner Harbor during tourist season and see how many times somebody’s shoulder hits yours. Being alone again recharges my batteries so I can get back out there or (more often) stay in.

52. Do you think handwriting analysis could be fairly accurate?

It depends on what we’re analyzing for. I definitely believe you can analyze handwriting to verify whether or not somebody wrote something in a criminal or civil matter. People who can observe all of the subtleties of handwriting and can tell a forgery from a real signature are amazing. If we are talking about determining somebody’s personality from their handwriting, I am not really sold on it. There are so many reasons for people to have different kinds of handwriting and my handwriting even changes depending on how slowly I write. When I am writing a story in my notebook, it is often nearly illegible to outsiders because of how excited I am. Of course, somebody could read that excitement as anger or lunacy and be completely wrong.

53. The majority of the time, would you rather have the person seated next to you on a plane mostly talk to you OR mostly ignore you?

I would rather they completely ignored me. I hate flying already but I also have a lot of social anxiety so meeting new people often makes me nervous. I don’t want to be part of somebody’s story about how they hated their vacation. I also do not want that person to say something horrible and then I have to spend the rest of the time desperately wanting the plane to land. On top of all of that, I like to sleep or write on airplanes because I hate flying and it makes a positive out of a negative.

54. Do you think the idea of having a quiet, calm kind of love is appealing OR unappealing?

Having a quiet, calm kind of love sounds like exactly what I would want if I was pursuing a relationship right now. I have loved quite a lot of wild and crazy people and eventually somebody got hurt with all the emotional rough housing. Frankly, it was usually me who got hurt because I tend to spend a pretty low key kind of life. Most of the girls I knew in art school were crazy in all the best and worst ways and while I don’t regret anything, I don’t want to go back there. I want things a little more laid back where we can be comfortable just hanging on the couch or cooking together or going to the movies.

55. When you are deep in thought at home, would the subject of your thoughts more often make more sense to be in a textbook (logical), OR in a song (creative)?

I know it’s a cop out but I would say both. There’s an analytic part of me that that strategizes, mulls over things and even analyzes how I think about things. This part of me makes connections and moves in logical circles and it’s a comfortable lull to sit there and think. However, the rest of the time I am often thinking about my next story idea or visualizing some cool imagery and that would probably fit better in a song. I have two strong sides to me but I think the creative one is the tiniest bit stronger when it comes to my own personal thoughts.

56. What is the last thing you did that you promised yourself would be the last time you did it?

I ordered myself a pizza. Every time I order a pizza, I end up regretting ordering an entire pizza for one person. There is no way that I can finish it in one sitting even if it is really tasty. Even the smallest pizza from a pizza place is way too much pizza. I feel gross and overstuffed and disappointed in myself because I just spent too much money. Then I tend not to want to eat the leftovers because I am still sick of pizza from when it was hot and fresh. When it is reheated, it is never as good and I just end up throwing the last few slices away.

57. Think of someone you think of as funny. Do they say funny things OR do they say things funny?

I think they say funny things. The comedians and funny friends that I like the best are very clever and either know how to arrange words in a funny way or they know how to be absurd enough to make me laugh. I think just saying something in a funny voice is the lowest form of comedy. It is part of the reason why I hate comedians like Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider. I also think that impressionism is one of the lowest points of a comedian. It is nothing more than a special effect used to piggyback on a celebrity’s fame to boost your comedy and it usually lacks any valid commentary. I actually value a bad impression more than a pitch perfect impression.

58. Do you think dogs get headaches? Can they be conceited? Do they sometimes withhold affection?

This might be unpopular, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think of pets in that way. Sure, it is fun to try and interpret a dog’s barks or soulful looks as something a human would do. However, I do not think a dog is that smart. They are animals and as such they are honest to a fault. They don’t have the self-awareness that we do so I can’t imagine they would have humility or arrogance. I think if they aren’t being affectionate, they just don’t feel affection. Headaches are a physical phenomenon so perhaps they have that but how would we ever know?

59. Do you use the cruise control in your car? When you are the passenger and the driver uses cruise control, do you feel more relaxed OR more anxious?

I don’t personally use cruise control in my car because I never have and I fear I will do it wrong and cause problems on the highway. I also really like the feeling of complete control over the gas even if it is less fuel efficient. However, I do not feel anxious about other people who use cruise control. Most people who use it know what they are doing. Also, most cars have smartly designed cruise control that will alter speed based on danger on the road.

6o. Have you ever stamped your foot while already on thin ice?

I have but only over puddles. I would never stamp my foot on thin ice over a pond or river where I knew I was in danger if it broke. I spent too much time reading American Gods to not know about or fear the breaking ice. I don’t do things that are physically dangerous and I am not a thrill seeker.

61. Are you more afraid of creatures with too little legs (snakes) OR too many legs (spiders)?

I am more afraid of creatures with too many legs. As weird as it sounds, insects and spiders seem to have no sense of personal space. If I am in a huge room  a spider is going to land on my shoulder rather than hang out safely on the other side of the room. Snakes and worms seem to keep to themselves and lurk where they could be creepy or dangerous should you come across them. Spiders, ants and such invade your space and your stuff and make sure that they are a nuisance. Besides, they feel so alien when they crawl across your skin and many times I have woken dreaming that I felt a spider brush against my hand.

62. Seinfeld OR Friends?

I guess I would prefer Friends but with a gun to my head. I hate Friends and I really hate Seinfeld for much of the same reasons. The characters in both shows are horribly self-absorbed to the point that they have become assholes. They wine even though they have pretty good lives and tend to overlook people who actually have horrible lives. Both shows’ casts and writing definitely annoy me because it presents me with people who I would never ever want to hang out with. When it comes right down to it, I guess I hate Jerry Seinfeld more than I hate Jennifer Anniston so I would go with Friends. I’m not actually much of a sitcom fan.

Media Update 6/2/2016

June 2, 2016


X-Men: Apocalypse

It has taken me a little while to get my thoughts in order so I can talk about this movie. I have loved the X-Men film series since it began in 2000. The series knew right away what it wanted to be and, for the most part, it really hasn’t strayed from that. It does not hurt that a lot of the movies have been directed by Brian Singer who created a pretty bland Superman movie but creates decent X-Men movies. Adapting comic books into movies can be hard. Pretty much all of the X-Men movies have both elements that are awesome and elements that fall a little flat. For me, I really did not care for how they portrayed The Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand. However, stuff like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine are awesome and now happily familiar. X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past were awesome and shot a lot of energy back into the franchise by taking a slightly different angle. Days of Future Past changed the movie timeline and made anything possible (like recasting Colossus in Deadpool). It feels like they shoved a little too much into this one but it was a great effort. When they try to put too much into a movie, it feels like some characters are left without lines or truly defining moments and that’s a real shame. My favorite parts were Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Quicksilver and all of the little nods to the comics and cinematic continuity. The last battle was really awesome as well as it felt kind of like a good pro-wrestling match with plenty of high spots and false finishes. Overall it was a good movie even if it was not their best outing.


The Warriors

On a whim, I finally decided to watch this movie from beginning to end. I had seen clips before but I had never seen the whole thing all at once. The Warriors is a cult movie apparently because it caused a lot of trouble with real gang violence in theaters. The movie was a look at a possible “near future” version of 1980’s New York City which is overrun by gangs who outnumber the police. One gang pisses all of them off and has to make it through the city while being hunted by every gang in the city. It is a simple little story that is loosely based on an old tale about Greek soldiers caught behind Persian lines. From beginning to end, the movie is dark but has a little bit of a playful nature to it because of some slightly cheesy (and sometimes very cheesy) acting. The gangs are also designed to each have their own motifs, including stuff like facepaint and psychotic costuming. In some ways, the movie is kind of set in a New York that is a little more like Road Warrior or Escape From New York than the real New York City. The movie is also kind of hard to predict as characters do a lot of things or have things done to them that I did not expect. Overall, it is a pretty good movie with decent but melodramatic late seventies acting and I definitely recommend it.


Heathers

Right away this movie was the most eighties thing on this list and X-Men made a point of constantly referencing Eighties touchstones. For me, Winona Ryder was a shining part of the eighties and nineties for me. Like Christina Ricci, she was the dark, gothy girl who got the outsider roles. I talked about this before. Seeing her name in the opening credits is a welcome sign. Add in Shannen Doherty and Christian Slater and we have a late eighties movie that is primed to make fun of a lot of eighties movies. This is a cult classic, I’m told, and it was time to watch it because I like a good dark comedy. I actually thought about saving this for Halloween but I am glad I did not because this did not have a Halloween feel. This is on the level of the later American Psycho. This is dark humor with a surreal sunniness that pokes a lot of fun at eighties culture and also at teen culture. What impressed me the most about this movie was all of the little touches and throwaway lines that made me laugh just as much as the in your face stuff. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater’s snarky insanity is really funny to watch amidst their clueless and heartless classmates. Christian Slater is almost doing more of a Jack Nicholson in Shining voice than normal but it works for his character. Overall, it was a great movie that was pretty funny and I definitely recommend it.

Links of the Week:
Silverchair – Freak
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
David Bowie – I’m Afraid Of Americans
Selena Gomez & The Scene – Round & Round
Kevin Gates – Really Really

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Set in the Eighties”
– I’m all caught up on Lost Girl. Wow, what a great show.
– All caught up on Kimmy Schmidt and it got even better
– Finished the first season of Person of Interest and it’s good
– All caught up on season five of Bob’s Burgers
– I tried to watch Aquarius on Netflix and… I don’t know
– The Game Grumps were on actual television? Cool.
– So much awesome stuff to watch and report on!


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