Posts Tagged ‘F’

The Filí

April 6, 2019

Conor woke up on the bus with a start. He instinctively clutched his guitar closer, a habit he had learned from sleeping in shelters and on the street. When you had something that could earn you money, you did not let it out of your sight and you never let go of it. Of course, those days were long gone now. Instead of falling into a restless sleep on a cot or a stack of cardboard boxes, he had fallen asleep on the band’s comfortable tour bus. As lead singer, he had his own little room on the bus. He had his own house by the beach back in California. Life had changed for the better thanks to music. He had gone from being without family or friends to being part of a band, a new family. He tried not to take it for granted. There was a knock at the door and he hurriedly pulled on a t-shirt and swept his hair back.

“Come on in,” Conor said. “I’m decent.”

The door opened and Ella stepped inside. The band’s drummer was a rainbow of color, as usual, multi-colored hair and flashy clothes. “Decent?” She asked. “I suppose you are fairly decent for a rock star.”

“I do my best,” Conor said. “What can I do for you? Did you read through that notebook yet?”

“It’s always work with you,” Marta said. “You need to rest while you can before we get to the next town.”

“I don’t know how long this ride is going to last, Marta,” Conor said. “I need to get everything I can from it.”

“The ride is going to last at least as long as it takes to get some rest once in a while,” Marta said.

“So why are you here?” Conor asked. “If it’s not work then it means it’s not time for sound check yet either.”

“It’s mail call, you ass,” Marta said with a laugh and she tossed an envelope onto Conor’s bed. “Phil’s office is still going through the latest batch of fan mail but they forwarded this along first.”

Conor picked up the envelope which was already unsealed but he had gotten used to that. “Why’s that?” he asked. “What makes this one so special?”

“I don’t read your mail, jerk,” Marta said with a shake of her head. “But Phil said it was from family.” She shrugged.

“Family?” Conor asked and he looked at the front of the envelope. “Oh, it’s another one of these.” He smiled and tossed the envelope back onto the bed.

“One of what?” Marta asked. “Now you have me curious. Besides, you’ve never talked to us about family.”

“Because I don’t have a family,” Conor said. “I’m an orphan. I never really had anyone at least not for long.”

“I’m confused,” Marta said. “Who is this cousin then?”

Conor rolled his eyes. “She claims that she’s my cousin,” he said. “She spotted one of my tattoos on a magazine cover and swears that it could only mean that we’re family. It’s crazy.”

“But don’t you wonder if she’s right?” Marta asked. “You could connect with actual blood after all this time?”

Conor shrugged. “When I first read one of her letters I worried that she was only after fame and fortune,” he said. “Then after reading on, I realized that she’s crazy.”

“Crazy?” Marta asked. “Our lives are already crazy. What kind of stuff is in those letters?” Her face became concerned. Their band had not exactly achieved superstar status but they definitely dealt with their share of craziness.

Conor picked the envelope again and this time he slid the letter out of its envelope. The writing was done with a calligrapher’s hand much unlike the usual crazies who had wild or disturbing handwriting. At least, most of them did. “Get this,” he said. “She says the tattoo signifies an old, old group called the Filí.”

“How old?” Marta asked.

“Ancient,” Conor said. “And Irish. They traveled around and fought monsters. It sounded really badass when I first read it.”

“That doesn’t really sound like you,” Marta said. “The closest we have to that is Luke but that’s only in his video games.”

“Well, here’s the thing that fits,” Conor said. “The Filí was a group of traveling poets and musicians. They apparently used that as a cover to fight everything that went bump in the night.”

“Then why don’t we know about monsters?” Marta asked. “It seems like that would be front page news at some point.”

“The Filí used to sing about monsters and crazy stuff all the time,” Conor said.

“How metal,” Marta said with a grin. She threw up metal horns with both hands.

“Except nobody believed them,” Conor said. “So they just kept singing and people enjoyed the tales, few knowing that the supernatural things in the songs were real.”

“Weird,” Marta said. “So how did they fight monsters?” She leaned against the wall, completely interested now.

“They used magic,” Conor said. “and they drew that magic from music. Their voices and instruments could summon elemental forces and great power. I’m really not sure exactly how it was supposed to work. In a pinch, they just hit the monsters with something blunt or sharp.”

“So you’re saying there’s a chance that you could do magic?” Marta said a little too loudly. “If there’s even a chance of that, don’t you think she’s worth talking to?”

“I don’t know,” Conor said. “She said all sorts of things that sounded like they came from a fantasy paperback. She said I would see strange things that other people missed.”

“Have you seen anything?” Marta asked.

“Only what I would expect from sleep deprivation and malnutrition from eating out of a dumpster,” Conor said. “I think it’s all some sort of angle she’s working.”

“What’s that on the bottom of that letter?” Marta asked. “It looks like music.”

Conor held it up and looked at it and shrugged. “It is music,” he said. “It’s labeled ‘song of awakening’. Whatever that means.”

“Well, whatever I guess,” Marta said. “We should probably get something to eat before sound check. Put the guitar down and come with me and we’ll grab the rest of the band.”

“Sure,” Conor said and he laid the guitar on his bed. He stuffed the letter into his back pocket and followed Marta out of the bus.

(Written 3/28/19)

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The Faith of the Raven

April 6, 2018

Carania lay on the cold, wet ground of the Hernon forest. The ground was cold and wet from the melting frost of an early spring morning. The sun was just rising to burn the cold away and the morning was still in that middling period between cold night and warm day. There was also a decent fog going which is the excuse Carania was giving herself for why she had not seen the arrows heading in her direction. Three of them had hit her and one of those three was currently buried deep in her gut. It had been like this for quite a while but Carania no longer had the strength to move. She was powerless to do anything but watch her blood mingle with the wetness of the grass beneath her. She suspected some sort of paralyzing agent or enchantment. Either way, she was definitely going to bleed out and it would not be long.

She wished she had seen who had shot her. It would not have helped her situation any but it would have lessened her confusion as her life dripped out of her and fed the grass. She could see the fletching on one of the arrows and there were some greasy black feathers sticking out. The work was crude but it had obviously done well enough to end her life. That was the only real evidence she had of her murderers. She had not been expecting trouble. In fact, she had merely been looking for a shortcut as she traveled toward a gig in Silverlight. She had been a bodyguard for a niece of the Silverlight family for years but the family had gotten her a more prestigious job in the Capital. She hated to say goodbye to Amela but she could not turn down an offer to walk the streets of the capital. Of course, now that was definitely not going to happen.

As her vision started to grow dark, she wondered if the Silverlight family would have her resurrected. She doubted they would ever find her body to perform the ritual and somewhere in her heart, she doubted their professed loyalty to her even in return for her years of loyalty. She had given up a normal life and more specifically any chance of romance for years of service. Now, she would die and it would not even be in the defense of a client or for any good cause. Her heart began to hurt and she was not sure if it was literally hurting or if it had broken from thinking these thoughts. She realized at that point that she could not see anymore and in the darkness, she tried to reach out but her arms still could not move. She tried to cry out but she made no sound although she wondered if she could even hear anymore. Then there was nothing.

Then her eyes were blinking open and there was black tile beneath her. She was in exactly the same position on her side she had been on the grass of the clearing but there was tile instead. Carania was intensely confused. She slowly moved her eyes toward her stomach and she could not see the arrow anymore. This was even more confusing. She stayed there on the floor for some time and nothing changed. She felt weak and helpless for the first time since she was a little girl. She never wanted to feel this way again. She used that desire as power.

“Help,” she called out but it sounded weak, her voice cracking. “Please help.” A little stronger but not by much.

“Oh, are you going to lie on the floor any longer?” A feminine voice called out. “Feel free but I am getting bored over here.”

“I got shot,” Carania said. “I can’t move. Some sort of poison or magic. Sorry for boring you.” She sounded annoyed. The woman was not being nearly sympathetic about the situation as she should be.

“Do you not remember what happened after you were shot?” The woman asked. “You’re dead. You don’t have to act hurt after you’re dead. Especially in my domain.”

It was as if a spell was cast and suddenly Carania could move and she realized that she felt no pain. She was not even breathing. She rolled onto her hands and knees and, from there, she pushed herself to her feet. She realized her armor was gone and she was in a dress that had previously been shoved to the bottom of her pack which was also missing. It was a pretty dress that she had been forced to wear at formal occasions that Amela attended. She hated it now just as much as she hated it then. She looked around the room. The floor was matte black tile and there was jet black wallpaper with dull silver detail. There was a spindly onyx chandelier hanging above with blue-flamed candles that somehow cast the perfect amount of light. Black on black on black was an interesting style choice.

She turned toward where it sounded like the woman had been. There was a young woman sitting at a table. She had long black hair but her face was covered by what looked like an expressionless porcelain mask. Carania blinked twice and the mask was now smiling. A laugh came from behind that mask as if it was not there and the effect was a little disturbing.

“Welcome to the Outer Planes and my home,” the woman said. “At least, this is one of the more stable parts of it. Do you like the decor? It’s easy to keep changing it when reality is so… subjective.”

All Carania could do was make a confused, hopeless noise as she just stared at the woman. This was not what she had been expecting from the afterlife at all.

“Sit down, Carania,” the woman said. “We have much to discuss.  I also have tea.” There were two steaming cups of tea sitting on the table. Had they been there before?

Carania slowly, cautiously lowered herself into a chair. “I don’t really like tea.”

“Wine? Ale?”

“Wine? It’s not even noon yet,” Carania said with disapproval.

“You are dead,” the woman said. “I think the rules don’t apply to you anymore.”

There was suddenly a glass of dark black wine in front of Carania and she decided to sip it. It was surprisingly sweet. It reminded Carania a little of the one glass of wine Amela had convinced her to drink back in Silverlight. “Who are you? Where am I? How do you know my name.”

“You haven’t guessed?” The woman asked. “I am the Raven Queen and I wanted to meet you.”

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox

April 7, 2017

I have always loved a good story. When I was little, there are two sets of stories that I remember best. The first was reading from a Disney storybook with my mom and once I knew how to read, I read for my brothers with my mom’s supervision. Undoubtedly, that is when and where I became a Disney nerd. The other stories were the ones my uncle made up when I was staying with him and my cousin. That was probably one of the many events that incited my passion for writing. When I was a little older, I discovered Roald Dahl. By the end of third grade, I had read every single Roald Dahl book. This had a bit of a different effect on me.

Roald Dahl sold books on the Brothers Grimm model of storytelling. He was not afraid to go dark because his childhood was dark. Just go and read his autobiographies and that is clear. He lived through World War I era England but that is not all. He also pretty much encountered all of the nasty characters from his books and short stories suffering through the British school system. His childhood was brutish and a struggle but he made it through to write about it happening to other people. The mix of that darkness and adventure made me less afraid of the lesser obstacles in my childhood. It also allowed me to embrace that darkness and contributed to me loving Halloween as much as I do.

I have said it before and I am sure many people would agree that Wes Anderson movies are strange. I think Wes Anderson delights in being weird and that is kind of one of the points of this movie. The animation is kind of difficult to adjust to. Anderson purposely had it filmed at a lower frame rate in order to clearly point out that it is stop-motion animation. It makes some of the movements a little jerky. He also used real fur for the animal puppets which makes the fur sort of squirms around especially on the faces. But, much like Team America: World Police, the characters inhabit those awkward puppets through the magic of both puppetry and animation. It helps that Anderson has always known how to frame his storytelling. Every shot is beautiful.

The story is kind of in two parts that are blended together really well. The original story was about a fox trying to feed his family but the farmers he steals from try to hunt him down. They go to outrageous lengths to try to kill the fox and his family and the community suffers. The foxes eventually outsmart the farmers and learn to survive. It was a tale about a father (who Dahl identified with) trying to protect his family and getting through the hard times as a result. That story is still there in this movie. In addition, there is another half of the story which is very Wes Anderson. It is about a dysfunctional family and community and learning to live not only with other people but yourself too. It is delightfully weird and quirky. It is helped along by brilliant voice acting from a lot of great people but especially George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman and Eric Anderson.

Overall, this was a really great movie. I was not sure how it would be considering some Roald Dahl adaptations are not very good. This one ended up more like Matilda and Willy Wonka than James and the Giant Peach or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I really should not have doubted it as Wes Anderson is a great artist and he had a good backbone of a story to work with in the first place. Also, the animation was done by Henry Selick who directed Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas which are two of my favorite animated films of all time. I definitely recommend this. It takes a bit of effort to get past the weirdness but what lies beyond is both touching and funny.

Flag-Waving

April 7, 2015

I want to begin this post with the requisite “I Love America” disclaimer. I hate that anybody who says anything but “I Love America” is questioned on whether they love my country. So I do. I do love America and I have loved it since I was conscious of basic geography. I’m as American as apple pie which is also a dessert that I do not like to eat. I’ll take the a la mode part though with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Maybe some ground up peanuts if you have them. I got off topic because I’m craving ice cream.

I love my country, these United States of America but I’m not a flag-waving jeans commercial who unquestioningly supports the government or its people. Those people scare me. The way I see it there is nothing to gain from not thinking critically and piling behind a banner that you only have control of in two year intervals. If you are one of these people let me also say that I do not hate you. I fear you in some ways but I do not hate you. It was this hyper-patriotic line of thinking that worried me right after 9/11 and for what seemed years later. There were American flags everywhere you looked and it seemed excessive to me. It was as if everybody was suddenly afraid to be seen as unpatriotic.

That kind of influence is what leads to our leaders being able to get away with even more underhanded things than they usually do. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m in the airport and I see soldiers in full fatigues who are off duty walking around. Why? It just makes me feel like we’re under attack when we’re not. We’re doing all of the attacking these days and we’re defending ourselves just fine.

I’m one of farthest left politically in any circle of friends I’ve been in and I was often called Communist in the latter parts of high school. Some of that was that I started reading stuff like the The Communist Manifesto but I was worried about the right wing. I read such things because you should question your government. Questioning your government is not the same as rebelling against it. It’s your government, take a hold of it and make it work for you.

I leave you with a David Cross bit that parodies a lot of the scary nationalist fervor I’m talking about:


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