Posts Tagged ‘Y’

You Have Been Called – A Buffyverse Story

April 29, 2020

Karyn Stroud was walking back toward her dorm late at night. It was after midnight and Karyn had already been sleep-deprived for days. It was Finals week and she had been hit with exam after exam and paper after paper. She was not overly worried about any of that, though, because she had yet to turn in her portfolio for review. She was visual arts major and her portfolio was more important than anything else. In her tired mind, it was more important than food or sleep. She had no idea what time it was as she stumbled toward her bed but she knew that she had to get some sleep before she passed out on a drawing table again.

She was proud of her portfolio. Much of her art was inspired by the dreams she had had since she was a little girl. Her dreams were full of dark imagery with plenty of vampires, demons, and things that go bump in the night. Her dreams had bothered her as a kid but therapy had helped her refocus her nightmares into something productive. She had chosen to pursue visual arts but she also did a lot of writing outside of Finals week.

She almost didn’t notice the frat boys as they approached her from the shadows. She immediately tensed up and started moving faster. She put her head down and clutched her bag tight to her chest. One of them suddenly grabbed the strap of her bag and she tried to jerk away from him but he held onto it.

“Where are you going, girl?” the guy asked.

“I’m going home,” Karyn said. “Just let me go.”

“You’re not the boss of me,” the guy said and his friends laughed. “Why don’t you lighten up.”

“I’m tired,” Karyn said. “Please just leave me alone.”

“No chance of that, cutie,” the guy said. “Why don’t you come with us? Let’s go party.”

“It’s Finals week,” Karyn said. “I’m not going to a party.” She struggled again. She decided to let her bag go and just run, her fear response starting to go into overdrive. She felt a surge of energy wash over her body. She was suddenly more awake than she had ever been. She knew exactly where all of the guys were standing. She could hear them breathing.

While this was happening, the guy had tossed her bag aside and grabbed her wrist. He pulled her close and Karyn acted on instinct. She lashed out with a closed fist and hit him in the nose. His nose exploded with blood, splattering all over her suprised face. She could hear the guy’s yowls of pain and his angry friends started toward her. Her vision went blurry and then everything went black.

Karyn came back to herself as she sat on a bench in what turned out to be the local police station. Not the campus police but the actual police. She was led into an interrogation room and the officers asked her questions about how she had managed to beat up five people. They told her that two of them were pressing charges. She tried to tell them that the guys had attacked her first and it was self-defense but the officers seemed hesitant to accept her explanation. She was shown pictures of the horrible injuries she had inflicted and she could not understand how she had done it.

The following day she was summoned back to the interrogation room. She was told that her attorneys had arrived. She was confused as her one phone call had been to her parents and they had not mentioned any lawyer. She had never needed a lawyer before but now there were lawyers plural waiting for her. She went along to the meeting and sat down in front of a brown-haired woman and a black-haired man.

“Hello?” Karyn said. “Why are you here?”

“We’re here to help you out, kid,” the woman said. “My name is Faith and this is Angel.”

“Is that a joke?” Karyn asked.

“How is that a joke?” Angel said. “That’s literally our names.”

“You have to admit that the names kind of go together,” Faith said. “Like Angel said, those are our names, Karyn. We’re here to help you.”

“Help me?” Karyn asked. “I don’t even know what’s going on. I also didn’t hire any lawyers. Did my parents send you?”

“We came on our own,” Angel said. “We heard about what happened and we’re currently on a mission to manage these things.”

“You heard about what happened?” Karyn asked. “What did happen?”

Faith smiled and shrugged. “It’s going to sound weird,” she said. “Believe me, I’ve been there. You’ve experienced what it is like to be called.”

“Called?” Karyn asked.

“It only happens to certain girls and women,” Faith said. “It happened to me. I suddenly was super strong and fast and I could sense predators and monsters. I became a Slayer.”

“A Slayer?” Karyn asked. “What?”

“Into every generation, a slayer is born,” Angel said. “A chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.”

“That’s how it used to be,” Faith said. “Thanks to B, whole waves of girls get called at once. It’s kind of tiring.”

“How do I know this isn’t all bullshit?” Karyn asked. “You two could be crazy.”

“Do you have a lot of nightmares?” Faith asked.

“Yeah, whatever,” Karyn said. “A lot of people do.”

“Do you see monsters?” Angel asked.

“Sometimes,” Karyn said.

“What do you see when you look at me?” Angel asked.

Karyn studied Angel for a long time with a sense of unease in her gut. She glanced at Faith. “You’re both not human,” she said. “What are you?”

“Like I said, I’m a Slayer too,” Faith said. “We’ll get to what Angel is later. Look, we can work on getting you out of here and take it from there.”

“Where do you want it to go from there?” Karyn asked.

“Slayer Academy,” Angel said.

Yacht Rock (2005 – 2008)

April 29, 2019

Yacht Rock is a sub-genre of soft rock also known as West Coast Sound and Adult-Oriented Rock. While I was previously unaware of the term, I was well aware of this sub-genre. It is characterized by soft, floaty music with a general smoothness to it. It draws from soul, jazz, R&B, funk, and disco but pretty much the softer portions of all of those. According to the Internet, the sub-genre focuses on melody rather than beat, light emotions even when singing about sad things, and a focus on catchiness. Musicians of the genre include Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Hall and Oates, and Kenny Loggins (especially during his partnership with Jim Messina). A lot of what is considered Yacht Rock is not really my scene because it is too slow and soft for me. However, many of the artists involved later made songs that I love. I especially love later Hall and Oates stuff like Maneater and Private Eyes which have a harder beat. Kenny Loggins also went on to create hard-driving soundtrack songs instead of smooth jams.

But I’m not here to talk about the actual sub-genre of Yacht Rock. At least, I’m not here to talk about it directly. Instead, I recently got clued into a comedy web series of the same name that first came out in 2005. Written, Directed, and Produced by J. D. Ryznar, the Yacht Rock series was part of something called Channel 101. When talking with friends and loved ones, I find that many do not know what Channel 101 is. Basically, Channel 101 is a web video collective, short film festival, and competition. The idea was that many people would submit web videos as a sort of pilot and people would vote for each video. If you got enough votes, you got your web video expanded into a series. Most submissions were edgy, surreal, or both but everything I have seen is strange and funny. The most famous thing to come out of Channel 101 is Rick and Morty created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, two goofball friends who made a lot of weird stuff for Channel 101.

The series is a mockumentary video series done in an intentionally low budget style. The series within a series is introduced and researched by a complete weirdo whose introductions become increasingly problematic. Each episode concocts various scenes that explain how various songs of the genre (and later contributions from the artists) were put together. The main characters are Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Hall and Oates, and a fictional music guru named Koko who leads the Yacht Rock movement. Other bands such as Toto, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and Captain and Tenille are also featured. Michael McDonald is cast as the hero of Yacht Rock, constantly championing the cause of smooth music. Kenny Loggins is his friend and they are constantly having fights based on Loggins’ ventures into harder rock and Hollywood. Hall and Oates are the local bullies, constantly bro-ing it up and getting in everyone’s faces. Koko is trippy and kind of a cult leader.

While it was produced throughout the 2000s, it looks like it was taped on VHS in the nineties. Props and costumes are purposefully slapped together to look pathetic and comical. It feels a lot like something one might film to attach to their application to film school or something a bunch of kids do in their garage. The acting is purposefully bad but a lot of these guys are the future comedy writers of today and it shows. They all have great comic timing and do a great job even when they are trying to do a bad one. Part of this is the writing which is very surreal but also very endearingly funny. It all clearly shows a love for the music business. While the stories in each episode are fantastical and completely inaccurate as to the songwriting process, they show how much the music is adored for its cheesiness. Also, it takes great care in making these artists into characters and correctly attributing their songs to them. Occasionally, the show does stray from Yacht Rock. My favorite part when they do that is when they talk about how Warren G’s “Regulate” samples Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’).

(Written on 4/27/19)

 

Your Next Assignment

April 28, 2018

Robin yawned as she turned on her laptop. It was eight in the morning and she was busy shoveling eggs into her mouth as she waited for the computer to boot up. She had finished her previous temp assignment a few days earlier and she was starting to get nervous. She was sending out applications for real jobs but several days of no pay wore on her nerves. She could also feel herself getting too comfortable at home as the days passed from when she last went to a job and acted semi-professional. Her computer finally booted and she brought up her e-mail with her stomach tightening at the potential of interview requests or requests for additional information.

In fact, there was none of that. Robin did not have time to be disappointed, though, because the only e-mail she had received overnight was one from her contact at the temp agency, Stacy. It was really vague but it talked about a new assignment. She looked for a date and time and the other usual details but that was the odd thing. There was a request from Stacy for a meeting and it was not an address she was familiar with. She asked Robin to show up dressed casual and the time was ten in the morning on the current date. That last bit made Robin’s eyes go wide and she nearly spit out some eggs. That did not leave much time to get dressed and get to the meeting. Casual dress probably did not include pajamas.

After a quick shower and a change of clothes, Robin hopped into her beat-up car and headed toward the meeting. In the frenzy of getting dressed, putting on makeup, and climbing into the car, she had had no time to consider what this job might be. She was used to tedious office work which was occasionally interrupted by actual research work where she felt a little like Nancy Drew combined with Indiana Jones. This was way out of the usual parameters and Stacy usually let Robin know exactly what was happening. This was weird and it set Robin on edge. She had spent her life making sure that her interactions with weird stayed strictly in fiction. Experiencing it now gave her a sour feeling in her stomach.

She arrived at the address and it was a series of storage lockers with no sign and nobody around. It did not even look like a business and instead looked like the kind of place junkies would shoot up. She warily got out of her car and that is when Stacy stepped out from behind a wall. The mousy office girl looked totally out of place in the worn neighborhood.

“Hey Robin,” Stacy said, looking up from a clipboard. “Welcome. I’m glad you made it.”

“Just barely,” Robin said. “You’ve got me really curious about this job, Stacy. I’m kind of feeling weird about all of this.”

“Well,” Stacy said. “I can understand that. Unfortunately, the name of the employer that is contracting you is to be kept confidential.”

“Umm,” Robin said. “How am I supposed to get my orders?”

Stacy smiled. “Well, I do have a solution here. The employer has included a journal in the welcome package that they say will tell you everything you need to know.” She held out an old leatherbound book and handed it to Robin. Robin looked it over an flipped it open and the pages were blank. She was more confused than ever. “Additionally, I am to give you this key and point you in the right direction.” Robin took the key in her hand and instantly felt strange.

“Point me in the right direction?” Robin asked. She felt as if she was suddenly underwater, all floaty but under pressure.

“Yes,” Stacy said. “In there.” Stacy pointed at one of the storage units and Robin felt herself nod.

Robin started to shamble toward the storage unit without another word. The world started to tilt side to side but she kept an eye on that storage unit door. She was still clutching the key and the journal as she struggled to walk toward that storage unit. Each step became harder and harder. As she approached the sliding door it slid open and she found herself desperately walking into the darkness.

It seemed like a moment later when she woke up and she realized that she was in a speeding car, heading down a highway she had never seen before. She reached down to grab a cold bottle of water and sipped from it as she drove. She held onto the wheel hard as she tried to look for some signs or some clue as to where she was. She looked down and the key from before was in the ignition. The journal was open on the passenger seat but she had no time to inspect it further. There was a post-it on the dashboard that said “turn here” and she almost missed the exit. She kept driving until she saw an open field to drive onto and she turned off the car and tried to breathe.

After a while, she took her seatbelt off and opened the driver’s side door to get out. As she started to slide out, something nudged her leg. She reached down to grab it and found that it was the hilt of a sword. What the Hell was going on? She settled back into the driver’s seat and grabbed the journal and as she did she saw a pen and a stack of blank post-its. She wondered what that was about. She looked at the journal and where it was blank earlier, there was now writing. A passage caught her eye.

“To slay the beast, grasp the sword and do not back down”

She shook her head and slipped out of the car but grabbed the sword and drew it from its sheath. It looked really old so what was it doing in this car she had never seen before? She had no chance to think about it further as she heard a growl behind her. She turned to see some sort of dog creature, crouching in the tall grass. It charged and she dodged to the side as it sailed by. It lunged again and instincts took over and she slashed at it with the sword. It fell to the ground still and bleeding. There was a sudden pain in her arm as she watched a tattoo of the dog creature form. What was going on?

Your Friend Steve

April 29, 2017

I often feel very awkward in social situations. When it comes to hanging around with friends in a casual atmosphere, I have most of those skills down. It just takes a while to achieve that level of comfort and I am down for joking and razzing each other. Gender is not an issue as from an early age, I have been part of unisex play groups. Probably part of why I ended up being a feminist but who knows? Either way, I was just as embarrassed to have my head split open in front of the girls as in front of the boys.


Awkward.

What is awkward is being the third wheel. I have known quite a few friends before and after they started dating that somebody special. I get along well with nice people so meeting and befriending a new girlfriend or boyfriend is fairly easy. I am always so happy for my friends because all of my friends deserve to be happy and if a relationship is part of that then I am all for it. However, I am socially awkward sometimes or at least socially anxious. I worry that I am missing signals.


The human brain is a frightening place.

That is why the above song struck such a chord with me (like most Garfunkel and Oates songs). I consider myself a good and loyal friend but I know I do not hang around a lot because I worry about being a nuisance. I know that is kind of silly. My best friends are very good about letting me know when it’s time to leave. I read those signals just fine, I guess. I just really, really appreciate my friends and I do not want to overstay my welcome.


In spite of everything, I still believe in love.

When I was in high school, I met two homeschool kids who came into our school to supplement their education and participate in after school sports. Homeschool would not have been any good for me. These kids were outgoing and friendly but socially stunted. I generally avoided people on a regular basis. If I had been homeschooled, I would be a social wreck. I am lucky I was forced into social situations where I made equally weird friends. That way I can continue to make weird friends. It is an important part of my life.


This was cheaper than therapy. I guess I still gotta go, though.

I guess I should just relax more about it. I still get invites to stuff and people seem excited to see me at events. I must be doing something right. I am not a social butterfly but I do things with friends at least every other week. I participate in social media and I try not to be too clingy there either. I think I just talked myself down. Thanks, guys.

Yoriel

April 29, 2016

I woke from blackness and everything was fire and ruin around me. There was a massive hole in the roof and I could see the stars above. It looked like a little cabin that I was sitting in, although it was mostly cinders and ash after what had happened to it. Whatever that had been, it had somehow not happened to me. I got to my feet and started to walk through the mess. It was at this point that I realized that I had forgotten my name. In fact, I could not remember much of anything. No memories of what had happened or really who I was. I looked down at my body and realized that I was armored.

The armor was elaborate and it had been well-crafted but now much of it was damaged and hanging off of my body. My chest was mostly exposed and I carefully tore myself from the armor around my torso. It was not doing any good anymore so why not remove it to check my body for injuries. There were no injuries to speak of. At least, none of the injuries were of an urgent nature. There were too many scars to count across my chest but the most prominent and seemingly most fresh was a burn scar in the shape of a hand print over my heart. The mark was the dark gray of ash and it looked to small to be a grown man’s hands but it was hard to really tell. Was I some sort of warrior? Some sort of renaissance¬†faire employee?

There was a small house not far away and I started toward it with purpose. I reached up and touched the hand print as I walked and as I touched it, my fingers started to tingle and then burn. I jerked my hand back to my side and flexed my fingers until they felt closer to normal. I looked at those fingers and realized that whatever the gray ash was, a little of it had rubbed off on my fingers. Some sort of chemical weapon? Why wasn’t that tingling, burning sensation on my chest? The thought crossed my mind that the nerve endings might have already been fried and that stuff was going to eat its way inside of me.

I kicked in the door of the house and stomped through it until I could find a bathroom. I fumbled for the light and when it came on I looked in the mirror and nearly had a heart attack. I thought somebody was coming up behind me but as I turned and turned again and looked in the mirror, I realized there was nobody there but me. Nobody there but me and the black, feathery wing coming out of my left shoulder. I focused and it flexed and stretched and then went back to a folded position. I leaned hard against the sink and tried to slow my breathing. This was amazing. People do not just have wings sprouting out of them. I reached and felt my right shoulder and there was nothing there, not even a stub. Why only one wing?

I washed the ash off of my chest and watched it slide down the drain. I hoped wherever it was headed it would not harm anyone else. My chest looked fine so I headed back out into the sunlight to get my bearings. Thankfully this place looked like it was in the middle of nowhere so it might be some time before the residents complained of his break-in or noticed the smoke from burned out cabin. Hopefully, the cops or worse were not on their way. I had no idea where I was and I began to feel silly for thinking that I could pick out my location by randomly spotting the right rock or tree. I went back into the house to look for some sort of evidence about where I was.

“Confused?” A man said from the darkness behind a makeshift bar. In the darkness, bright red veins suddenly pulsed through a human body. At least, I thought it was a human body.

“Of course, I am. Who are you?” I asked as I turned on the lights. This was no human. Their skin was jet black with what looked like neon glowing veins just below the skin. As I watched, the skin pulsed from jet black to ivory white and back again.

“I am Xolotl.” The thing grinned, its teeth looked they were carved from ruby.

“Bless you. What are you?” I asked. It laughed in response. I was so tired of this already.

“Bless me? Not usually something one says to demons.”

“What are you talking about? Is that what you are? A demon?” I asked.

“If you want to get technical, you’re a fallen angel too though it looks like you were pushed.”

“Are you just here to taunt me? If you’re a demon and I’m an angel. Shouldn’t we be fighting?”

The demon laughed again. “It’s a long story but demons are actually much, much older than you angels. Somewhere along the way, you guys got yourselves twisted around. ¬†Now sit down, Yoriel. We have a lot to discuss before the end of the world begins.” He said and my headache got that much worse.

Youtubers

April 29, 2015

Lately I have been watching less TV and more internet content. A lot of that daily content comes from Youtube. Youtubers are an interesting animal as they function entirely differently from the normal television model. They’re often working alone or with way less money than your average television studio. Here are a few youtube content producers who I am watching instead of television.

Tamara Lynn Chambers

Tamara is an awesome actress and comedian who is pretty out there. She works with very, very short videos but her upbeat attitude combined with a healthy dose of sarcasm works well with me. I think the thing I like the best about her videos are how tightly edited they are. It feels like they’re shot guerilla style but a lot of it seems to be well-planned. Tamara came to my attention through watching The Nostalgia Critic who I’m a huge fan of. In fact, her longest running original series uses a character originated in Nostalgia Critic episodes. She hasn’t made too many videos and I hope she continues to produce new content because I think she’s hilarious.

Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?

Ashly Burch and Anthony Burch are siblings who love video games. Both of them have worked in in the video game industry for a long while now but it’s obvious they both love playing video games. The average episode of Hey Ash is pretty short but it’s packed with irreverant humor about video games, combating sexism, violence and so much craziness. The two siblings play caricatures of themselves who constantly insult and abuse each other (though usually it’s Anthony getting the abuse). Although I may be biased, I think that you could watch most of these videos without much video game knowledge. Still, having played a lot of the games, the videos are way funnier.

Markiplier

I’ve been watching Let’s Plays for quite a while now. I started watching Let’s Plays because I had no intention of playing certain games but I was still interested in seeing the art, story and gameplay. I especially love horror games but I’m too chicken to actually play most of them. A Let’s Play is often a great compromise because somebody else gets to be scared and I get to enjoy the scares vicariously. I discovered Markiplier through his Five Nights at Freddie’s playthrough. Mark is hilarious when he’s getting the pants scared off of him but I discovered he’s funny in most situations. His humor definitely helps with the scary games though because it diffuses a lot of the jump scares while keeping a lot of the quality scary stuff in.


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