Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of Year End-of-Yearings

Another year is coming to a close. Good-bye, 2009... you were, well, a little weird. If I haven't written about all your weirdness already, I'm sure I'll get to it next year. Other than that, I met a lot of cool people in 2009, including "re-meeting" some cool people. I also disconnected with some people, some on purpose (which is rather odd for me, as friends can attest to) and some on accident (which happens more than I care to admit).

2009 (Really) Quick Review:

The Padres sucked and the Chargers rocked. Here's hoping the Chargers make it to the Super Bowl...

The Battlestar Galactica finale was, er, garbage.

Um... did anything else happen in 2009? I forget...

Blog Notes:

Anyway, I decided to cease and desist the MySpace mirror for this blog (some might have noticed the "Subscribe via MySpace" widget disappearing on December 8th... then again, probably not). I was going to wait until New Year's before I stopped the mirror, but MySpace decided to go ahead and block Blogspot/Blogger links again, so I gave up on the 11th. Anybody who still gets notifications from MySpace needs to subscribe via one of the other methods. No, I'm not deleting my MySpace account, and if MySpace gets with the program and decides to offer some sort of automatic feed posting, then I'll take advantage of it. But, until such time, au revoir MySpace Blogs!

I'm also going to make the Irrewind column into a bi-weekly one. Or, rather, the first and third Saturdays of each month. Why? For no other reason than that I am kinda lazy... and that I did the math: my Irrewinds would outrun (so to speak) my posting frequency if I kept them up weekly.

In other news: One-Line Movie Reviews will henceforth be known as Irreview! What does "irreview" mean? Nothing!

In Conclusion:

I clearly have nothing profound to pass along, so enough of this.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Burning Bridge

It's time to pack up and go
while the bridge can still be traversed
before it turns into ash
and the water underneath no longer has reason to flow
Time, then, to go
before he's going nowhere

Across the horizons
there will be horizons crossed
and called yesterdays
tomorrows, new enemies and old friends
antiquate nascent dreams again
leaving them nowhere

For the weary, rest
they may sleep but he may not stay
lest he watch it all go by
counting the heartbeats she has left
The compass points West
and has taken her nowhere

It's time to pack up and go
while the ford can still be passed
before it turns into mud
and the span overhead can no longer hold
Time, then, to go
anywhere but here

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Battlestar Enterprise, Part VI

Well, I was going to take some time to explain what constitutes a decade and a century, given all the half-assed hoopla going around in some circles, but once again, a football game decided to last longer than it should have. So...

This is the final part of
Battlestar Enterprise that was written. I kinda got tired of it, as I'm sure most of you have. Which means the anti-fans can cheer up! You probably won't have to see one of these again!

Part VI originally posted April 28, 2009

***

"Man, fuck this shit 'n shit," He-Boomer said aloud, to no one in particular. He appreciated the fact he was back behind the stick very much, but he also couldn't stand being on a search mission for the old man's kid. David Adama was a moron, and everybody knew it. The guy would run around spouting fairness all day long, and even advocated civilization's return to the Stone Age. What a fucking idiot. What possible advantage could that have?

"What was that?" squawked the radio. It was StarHeBuck, still sore, no doubt, at being forced to have a sex-change. It was blind luck that Enterprise had found a ship-full of doctors in the middle of nowhere. One of those "deus ex machina" things that seemed to happen more often than not as of late.

"Nothing 'n shit," He-Boomer replied. "Keep your motherfucking attention on the sensors."

"I have a question," another voice declared over comms. This time it was Jolly, whom everyone referred to as the King of the Cameo. "Why the fuck didn't we take a Raptor on this mission? Vipers aren't exactly equipped for long-range surveillance, you know?"

He-Boomer grimaced. Jolly had always been the voice of reason, even after his decades-long disappearance. He had been captured by the Cylons during a Black Ops mission, then inexplicably let go. Sure, Jolly's fanboys tried to make fan-sense of the situation, but no matter how hard any of those idiots tried, the stories just didn't hold up under scrutiny. "Probably because someone forgot about them when writing up the OpOrder 'n shit. Shut the fuck up and fly 'n shit."

***

James T. Adama was biting his fingernails. He hadn't done that since he was in the cockpit of a fighter, and Saul Spock took notice. Spock raised that inquiring eyebrow like he always did, prompting Adama to put his hands in his pockets for a round of pocket polo.

"I heard radio chatter," Adama said pointedly to Duhura, mocha legs still oozing sex appeal in the dim light of the CIC.

"It's just He-Boomer, sir. He's just irritated as usual."

Adama turned to his CAG, Jackson "Ripper" Chakotay, an otherwise worthless character of man who Adama had thought was killed during the Cylon invasion. Chakotay knew what Adama was going to ask and preempted the question.

"You think I should send out more birds, Captain?"

Adama shook his head. Is it too much to ask to be referred to as Admiral around this fucking ship?

"I think so," Adama half-murmured, trying to hide his disdain for the apparent lack of recognition for his promotion. Fine, Roslin wasn't the "real" President, but she promoted him, so that counts for something, right? "What do you think?"

Chakotay nodded before even considering the question. He was nothing but a silly ethnic yes-man, after all. "Whatever you say, sir."

Adama shook he head again, almost in disbelief at the stupidity that runs around Enterprise. He was starting to worry that he was never going to find his son.

***

She-Boomer sat watching David's Viper as it just floated along in space. She could see David was talking to somebody, or maybe himself, but he didn't seem to acknowledge that she was there. She-Boomer turned to Crashdown and Helo.

"What do you make of this, guys?"

Helo got up from the ECMO seat and stuck his head between She-Boomer and Crashdown. He was so jealous of Crashdown, who got to sit close enough to She-Boomer and could smell her perfume. Silica, he thought it was.

"Don't know. Maybe he's got one of those STDs that fucks with the brain."

She-Boomer slapped Helo playfully. She wanted very much to rip his clothes off and eat him up alive, but with Crashdown there, such an action wasn't advised. She didn't know why she had such thoughts. She was very much in love with Montgomery Tyrol, but the Chief was packing on the pounds lately, and the last time they had sex he almost crushed her. That, and she could swear she smelled Cally's lipstick on him.

Suddenly, a bright flash of light.

She-Boomer, Helo, and Crashdown stared awestruck out the cockpit. Another Viper had just materialized out of thin air. And in the vacuum of deep space, no less.

***

Monday, December 28, 2009

Drained Musings

Being drained sucks, doesn't it? I'm not talking about being drained as a result of being proactive... that kind of drained is fine; it usually means you've accomplished or are accomplishing something. I'm talking about the other kind of drained... the kind that's the result of being reactive (usually to other people). THAT kind sucks. And the people who cause that kind of, er, drainage suck.

It's kinda ironic, too (or hypocritical, depending on how you look at it)... a buddy of mine, who after an extremely prolific November, suddenly seemed to "dry up" as far as creativity goes. I've been giving him a hard time about it, but to no avail. And now, I'm the one who's all blah. I can't think of a single thing to write, other than these meandering musings that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Then again, does anything I write mean anything in the grand scheme of things? Hmm... must consult Magic 8-ball.

Anyway... enough of that.

So, the San Diego Chargers clinched the #2 seed in the AFC after an ass-whooping they handed to the Tennessee Titans (42-17... ouch!). I actually would have written about this sooner, but I was DRAINED! Still drained, really, but...

Go Chargers!

I am fighting a nicotine addiction with every ounce of willpower that I have. In other words: I'm losing. I've also come to the realization that even though I don't like smoking, I don't like not smoking either. What the Hell am I supposed to do with an attitude like that?

You've probably noticed (especially if you're one of the few who will bother to read this far) that I'm messing with a nav-bar (and that it keeps disappearing and reappearing). I have no idea what I really want to do with it, but messing with it is forcing me to learn CSS. And, in this day and age, CSS isn't a bad thing to learn. What relevance that has towards anything you might be interested in is beyond me, but I felt like mentioning it. And if anyone has any advice or ideas concerning implementation and/or other features, feel free to drop me a line.

Anybody know any good jokes? I haven't heard any good jokes in a while. 

And that's all I really feel like writing at the moment. I'm lame, I know.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Irrewind, 20091226: Eulogy

Some might think it odd that I'm doing an Irrewind on pieces I've written about people who have died, especially on the day after Christmas, but I don't think it's odd at all. In fact, I'd have probably have done it earlier, but I didn't want to bum anybody out. That stated, I don't want anybody to forget these people, either.

Whenever somebody important to me dies, I usually write about them. Sometimes it's a celebrity or other public figure that I admire, and all too often it's someone I knew personally. Life sucks, and it always ends in death... and given how loquacious I tend to be, if I'm going to talk about something, I owe it to everybody to talk about them.

"Eulogy for O. Hawkins"
I met Omer Hawkins in 2000, when I had transferred from the C Company to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 37th Engineer Battalion. I didn't know what to make of him at first... a short guy, a chain smoker like the rest of us, with a grating voice... Read More

"The Angel George Carlin"
Although I grew up listening to snippets of Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, Eddie Murphy, and the oft-overrated Andy Kaufman, it was George Carlin who was my first real introduction to stand-up comedy. Oddly, my first memory of Carlin was hearing a joke concerning an... Read More

"Michael Crichton: A World of Words"
Michael Crichton died on November 4. Perhaps you heard, but perhaps you didn't. Even though American history was made on that day, it's a bit sad to have a man as accomplished as Michael Crichton pass away with barely a blurb on the television news... Read More

"Master Sergeant David L. Hurt"
My first impression of Sergeant Hurt was, well, less than impressive. He came across as a little clumsy, a little irreverent, and more than a little egotistical. And, you know what? He was all of those things... Read More

"Staff Sergeant Glen H. Stivison, Jr."
I met Glen in South Korea around Christmas of 2000. Well, that's what we thought, anyway. There was a bit of recognition between us, but as he wasn't a paratrooper, the odds that our paths had crossed before then were a bit slimmer than usual. So, one day, we sat down... Read More

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Theme Thursdays, 2009

So, in mid-summer of 2009 I was turned on to a writing group called Theme Thursday. My buddy at Caffeinated Joe asked me to help him edit a piece concerned with the topic of "Funky" (check it out here). I was a bit confused at first because he was stressing out about a midnight deadline, so he explained the whole gist of the group to me.

Basically, a topic or theme is posted on a Sunday, and everyone participating needs to have their posts up the subsequent Thursday (a lot of people jump the gun, but whatever). I wasn't interested at first, even though the following week's topic was "Ghost" (which I could've done something fun with) but good ol' coffeed-up Joe convinced me to give it a shot the very next week. So I did and, with a few exceptions (mostly due to creative stagnation), I've been writing something for Theme Thursday every week. I did "cheat" one time and simply reposted an old piece rather than write a new one, and I've reposted old pieces along with new ones for particular topics, but I've marked those old pieces with asterisks (so don't whine about it).

Due to the holiday season, there's no Theme Thursday today, but if anyone is curious and has the time, check out the topics/themes along with my entries (some are fiction, some are poetry, a couple are vain attempts at defeating a lack of writer's mood). If not... eh... go back to your World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Internet Writers - Quick Blog Reviews II

A while ago I wrote some cursory reviews of ramblings that I tend to read. Admittedly, as I tended to stay within familiar circles, most of what I reviewed is material from people who are personal friends of mine (only one was of a blog not written by someone I knew at the time). Recently, however, I've had nothing but time to write and to read the writings of others, both friend and stranger, and am going to pimp out some of what I like.

Now, as a disclaimer, I prefer to talk about people who don't already have fairly large followings, so if you're not on this list, think nothing of it (you're probably on my blog-roll, anyway).

The Alchemist's Pillow - a poet who likes to discuss art in all its forms, this is an interesting blog. There is an underlying intent to the writing found here, and that intent is to make everything seem like a dream. And, I must admit, it usually works. There are occasional forays into reviews and analysis, and those often provide as much insight into the author as they do into the subject being analyzed. Definitely worth a look.

Half-Moose with a Twist - think Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein, but with an older target audience and a small dose of cocaine. Irreverently funny writing - sometimes poetry and sometimes prose - combined with at-first-glance cute, at-second-glance insane artwork makes for as enjoyable an experience as one can have perusing blogs. Why this place is one of the Internet's best-kept secrets rather than one of the Internet's most popular landing sites is beyond me. Perhaps people don't "get it," but I think that's the point. I don't get it, and I love it!

Heaven in Hell - if you like writing that concerns itself with frustration, as well as writing that is so obviously written in frustration, this is your place. Fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry are the usual fare, but there are occasional forays into commentary (via diary-esque pieces), and while the frustration sometimes overshadows the work itself, the work always remains intriguing.

The Id's Whisper - a bit rough around the edges, this is home to a deviant imagination unafraid to share unorthodox opinions and somewhat disturbing fiction. What the writer of The Id's Whisper lacks in skill, he makes up for in content. Unfortunately, it's easy to see a lack of patience and motivation in the work, but I'm guessing the blog was created to foster those things. Give it a whirl... you might be surprised. Also, as it is here, pointing out grammar and spelling errors, as well as offering constructive criticism, is welcomed and desired.

It Must Be the Vapors - there are "deep-thinkers" and then there are deep-thinkers. This place is the home of the latter. Offering both subtle and overt commentary, the author of It Must Be the Vapors can wax philosphic with the best of them. Clearly a student of observation, his work is poignant, often critical, and always introspective. And, oh yeah, be prepared to have to read his stuff more than once. Layers upon layers abound.

Check out the previous reviews here: Internet Writers - Quick Blog Reviews

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Exodus Lost

*This is another summary/exerpt piece like Gateway and A Dragon in Winter. It was written fairly quickly and is not really meant to be a criticism of any particular set of beliefs; it's just meant to be a rip-roaring tale. Hope you enjoy.

Talbot pauses to stare at the stained glass image of the Madonna over the oak doors. He's seen the image - similar ones, at least - many, many times, but for some reason this one appears to be brighter in color than they usually are. The crowns on Jesus and Mary's heads shimmer bright gold, an oddity given that the sun outside is well into setting. The blues of her dress scream their azure refraction and even the reddish-purple cedars behind her seem alive with the pulse of an imaginary wind. There are over 3000 cathedrals in the world, and Talbot reckons he's been in at least half of them, but he's never seen a Madonna so... beautiful. Then again, he's never had to fortify one, either.

"I'm losing my fucking mind," he mutters, ignoring the acolyte behind him who is attempting to move the font without spilling Holy Water. Turning away from the Madonna, Talbot half-smiles at the acolyte - a boy of maybe 16 years who at least appears disgusted at Talbot's vulgarity - and heads down the nave towards the altar. As he approaches the crossing, he eyes Father Donovan rushing toward him.

"Lieutenant Talbot! Lieutenant Talbot!" The Father appears distressed. Given the situation, this seems a normal reaction, but Talbot identifies something... else in the Father's voice. As Donovan gets closer, Talbot realizes that he can see that something else in Donovan's eyes, as well.

"What is it, Father?" Talbot doesn't stop walking, fully expecting Donovan to keep up with him.

Donovan's voice quivers. "Your men, Lieutenant. They... they're speaking blasphemy."

Talbot halts and mentally rolls his eyes. There is too much to explain and no time to do it. And, though Catholic himself - all the men of the unit were Catholic - Talbot has little patience for the "too devout" as they tend to take the longest to explain things to, if they can even be convinced that what is happening is really happening. That the unit operates under the official authority of the Vatican, most choose to neither believe nor accept. They were a secret unit, after all. Too secret, as the cliché goes, and despite the constant preachings of Faith, most wanted some sort of physical evidence of the unit's legitimacy. Talbot counts his blessings that the Vicar General of  Rome decided to personally inform Donovan of the unit's pending arrival, alleviating Talbot and Bianchi - the Corpo della Gendarmeria's liaison to the unit - of the time-wasting task of convincing Donovan that the unit was here on sanctioned, and urgent, business.

Talbot has long dealt with things that he didn't fully understand, a lifetime of combat had seen to that. He had spent just over 24 years in the United States Army, first in the infantry, then in the vaunted Special Forces as a demolitions sergeant and, eventually, a team sergeant. He finished his career by returning to the conventional infantry and retiring as a sergeant major. He still finds it strange being called "Lieutenant," but he was selected to lead the Michael platoon based upon his relevant tactical experience, and he gladly accepted the role along with the surprisingly acceptable paycheck. He often reflects upon the irony of essentially being a mercenary in the employ of his chosen religion, but such ironies, he finds, are the norm in life, rather than the exception. At 45 years old, he believes he has responsibly passed the point in which things should surprise him, so he tries not to let himself be bothered by the machinations of the universe.

"What are you talking about?" Talbot asks, returning to Donovan's complaint.

Donovan swallows - Talbot can almost hear the gulp - and wipes his brow. "They're talking of the Devil and how he is the reason you're here."

Talbot stifles a groan. "The Devil, Father? Or Ha'Satan?"

Donovan's eyes widen. The old man, who in 90 years never once questioned his beliefs, certainly didn't expect Talbot to respond so matter-of-factly. "Is there a difference? You claim we are about to be attacked by demons, yet you and your men freely suggest that the Devil and Satan are not one and the same?"

Just then, one of Talbot's men, Cabrera - the unit's self-proclaimed smart-ass - passes by, carrying a hastily-constructed metal plate to cover the stained-glass Madonna with.

"Hey, Padre," Cabrera starts, "it ever occur to you that these demons might not be Catholic?"

Donovan balks and screams at Carbrera, who does not stop to listen. "Are you soldiers not Catholics yourselves? How do you deny your Truths?" Donovan's protests are devolving into what the men in the unit are beginning to interpret as Straw Man arguments.

Miasnikov, the unit's sole Russian member, walks by carrying mounting brackets for the metal plate. "We don't have to believe in this stuff, Father," he interrupts, "We just have to kill it."

The Father collapses to his knees, afraid that he's endured too much blasphemy for one day. He looks up, more to his God than to Talbot. "We are at the end, aren't we?"

"Get up, Father," Talbot orders. "This ain't over yet." As if to emphasize the point, Talbot drops the magazine from his M-4 carbine and checks the bullets, ensuring that Donovan catches a glimpse of the brass reflections. "All things Creation can be destroyed. The Bible teaches us enough of that."

Donovan gapes at Talbot, unsure of what the soldier means. Talbot, unsure himself, simply nods in response to the Father's expression. Slapping the magazine back into the weapon, Talbot continues towards the altar, though he's forgotten why he needed to go to there in the first place. The thought occurs to him that he should perhaps head to the confessional instead.

***

The soldiers, Bianchi, Donovan, and four acolytes gather in the cathedral's crossing, waiting for Miasnikov who, as a former civil engineer, wanted to check the barricades and defenses one last time.

Talbot, aware of their central location, resists the urge to move the men into what would be a more conventionally defensible position. These things can reputedly fly, after all, obsolescing any concept of high ground, even more so in an enclosed battleground such as this one. Too bad, Talbot begins a thought, the ceilings are so damned high. Donovan, of all people, suggested that they attempt to defend one of the transepts or one of the side rooms, but Talbot prefers to have room to maneuver. Three or four surrounding walls were three or four too many.

Miasnikov returns and Talbot holds up a thumb, which Miasnikov mirrors. Nodding, Talbot snaps his fingers and issues commands via hand signals, prompting the rest of the soldiers into motion.

As Donovan leads the acolytes to what the Father feels is the safest place in the cathedral, the acolyte Talbot saw moving the font earlier tugs on his uniform sleeve.

"Were you really helped by Satan?" the boy asks.

Talbot nods.

"Why would the Devil help us?" There is a brief flash of embarrassment. "You, I mean."

Talbot shakes his head slowly, signaling the fact that he has no idea. "Not that Satan, son. The original one."

"There's more than one?"

"Apparently this one claims to be the Jewish version."

"Ashton!" Donovan's voice calls out to the acolyte before the boy can ask another question. "Come!"

Talbot pauses for a moment, realizing that he was unaware of the boy's name until just now. Ashton gives Talbot a nervous, though confused, smile and runs to join Donovan and the other acolytes.

"Pray for us, Father," Talbot yells, oblivious to his normal preference of being tactically quiet. "We're going to be too busy shooting up your cathedral."

***

There is a sound - a scream - unlike any that the men present have ever heard. Perhaps the sound of Legion; perhaps not. Whatever it is sends chills through the bones of each and the sudden sensations of fear are so powerful that each man wishes he'd have stayed in bed that morning.

The metal plate over the Madonna proves useless as it falls beneath the shattering of the stained glass and, for a brief instant and despite the darkness outside, the Cathedral glistens as if built upon the rainbow to Asgard.

Donovan and the acolytes begin their prayer as Talbot and the men disperse, holding down triggers that activate bullets whose effects on their nemeses are not yet known.

Talbot, who has never had time for regret, barely has time to utter, "Kiss my ass," before an unearthly shape descends upon him.

*Continued in The Man in the Fedora

Monday, December 21, 2009

Introducing the AFC West-Champion San Diego Chargers

Can a day be better for a football team? Well, sure, but not by much. Before the first quarter between the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals was even finished, the Chargers had already clinched a playoff spot (thanks to losses by the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Jets). Once the Chargers defeated the Bengals (an extremely close 27-24), the Chargers had locked up the division. That the second place Denver Broncos lost to the Oakland Raiders in the final seconds of that game was just icing on the cake.

This marks the first time in team history that the Chargers have won the division four years in a row (they've won it three times in a row twice before: from 1963-1965 and from 1979-1981).

All that's left to do now is to lock up a first-round bye (homefield advantage has already been assumed by the Indianapolis Colts). Hopefully the Chargers can do that against the Tennessee Titans on Christmas Day.

I may not seem like it, but I'm ecstatic. Since becoming a true Chargers fan in 1987 (I was merely an "associated" Chargers fan prior to that), I've endured 13 .500-and-below seasons (not counting the 8-8 season in which they somehow won the division), including a dreadful 1-15 season in 2000. But, unlike some other fans I know (both of the Chargers and of other teams), I've never wavered in my loyalty to the lightning bolts. In fact, other than the Drew Brees-led New Orleans Saints, I don't think I've ever even rooted for another team.

Anyway, anyone who's interested can read about the game elsewhere... I'm just going to drop some kudos.

Charger Kudos

Quentin Jammer - that interception of Carson Palmer on a Cincinnati 1st-and-10 more than made up for that interception you should've had earlier in the game.

Vincent Jackson - five receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns? You rock. Also notable is that with those yards, you've given the Chargers their first tandem of 1000-yard receivers (along with Antonio Gates) in over two decades.

Philip Rivers - even though you threw two interceptions, you also three three touchdowns, and that made all the difference.

Kevin Ellison and Alfonso Boone - for sacking Carson Palmer. Extra kudos for Ellison, as it was his first sack ever.

Nate Kaeding - your first game-winning field goal ever (according to radio announcer... not sure if that's true, but will check on it) and a 52-yarder at that. I'm a fan, and I still find it odd that you're the most accurate field goal kicker in the history of the NFL.

Norv Turner - yes, I might be coming around.

Ron Rivera - keeping the defense together with a lot of pieces missing and/or injured.

That's all for now, though the entire team probably deserves kudos... Go Chargers!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Irrewind, 20091219: Sports

Though I haven't officially played a sport since I was young enough for Little League (unless you count some intramural stuff when I was in the Army), I am a vehement sports fan. Most people who know me know that I am a die-hard San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres fan. I also follow hockey, but as San Diego doesn't have a team, I pull for the Anaheim Ducks (via proximity) and the Carolina Hurricanes (via being in North Carolina when the team moved from Hartford, Connecticut). Basketball, admittedly, is my least favorite of the big four American sports, but when I'm in the mood I back the Los Angeles Clippers (formerly the San Diego Clippers... noticing a pattern?).

At any rate, I sometimes write about sports... usually football... and I figured I'd (re)share some of my insane opinions here.

"San Diego: Sports Town? Or Not?"
San Diego is, among other things, one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and is easily arguably the most beautiful big city in the country. A beach culture, the Western Hemisphere's best weather, a foreign country right next door, Hollywood to the northwest... Read More

"The Los Angeles Chargers"
I'm not a conspiracy theorist or anything, and I truly love my Chargers, but it does seem a little odd that the best season in San Diego history since A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR, AWAY... is happening right when the Chargers are trying to force their way into a... Read More

"Baseball Musings"
In honor of the first weekend of the baseball season, I've decided to bless you with my totally pointless thoughts concerning baseball, America's former favorite pastime.

162 regular season games is way too many. They should drop the season back to 154 games... Read More

"The Los Angeles Jets of the NFL"
Expansion, of course, is the obvious answer, but since the NFL is almost perfectly balanced and scheduled with a 32-team league, this doesn't seem likely. No, I don't think that adding a team or two (or four) would hurt the NFL by depleting the talent pool like so many people... Read More

"1140-Yard Benchmark"
Let's face it, the 1000-yard benchmark signifying a wide receiver or running back's quality is lame. Oh, sure, way back when the football season was only 14 games, it meant something. It meant even more when the season was only 12 games (before 1961). But today, the... Read More

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Lovers Spectra

Hues disperse as they run away from me. Vermilion, long abandoned, laughs in the distance. The brothers Crimson and Maroon stand together, forming an image of a bleeding heart, but the Blood soon runs out. Whoever made the mistake of attributing Red to love never understood what it meant to be angry. The Cardinal flies to catch its fleeting bird while Scarlet looks on as her lover flees Tara. Bloodshot eyes amid alcohol's Blush fail to numb Rosy cheeks. The sunset reveals brief Magenta as it fades, first into Lavender, then into the arms of Ultramarine and Navy.

She smiles under a Turquoise light, satisfied that her Cerulean dreams no longer include me. Eyes, Azure in mood, though not in color, stare right through the indignance of a shade lost between Blue and Violet. The effective absence of Indigo reveals my ultimate fate: lost and alone under the cold stars of Cobalt, whose lights are too far away to provide warmth.

Fade to Black.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Heartbroken of Narcissus

Your buried past
above ground, once
when it all began
with a whimper

A pity, then
you did not think
among instinct
to write it down

I wonder, then
in all your vanity
was she your lover?
or just survival?

Did you speak?
or did you whisper?
those who care
still listen

to the echoes left among stone
left among stone

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Film is Collaboration

So there was a conversation the other day. Well, of course there was. People talk, after all. However, this was a conversation concerning an aspiring filmmaker who, like many aspiring filmmakers, views himself as an "artist." In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with being an artist in the film world, but the connotation of the concept is what is a large problem in that particular industry.

You see, the "artists" tend to fancy themselves as not just artists, but as "the next big thing" (oh, if only they could get noticed... yeah, that old story). We're talking "the next Spielberg," "the next Scorsese," "the next Woody Allen," and the list goes on. Lofty goals, sure, and there's nothing wrong with lofty goals, but therein lies the rub: up-and-comers tend to think that Spielberg, Scorsese, and Woody Allen did everything by themselves. As a result, said up-and-comer (and I'm using that term very generously) tries to do everything by himself or herself. And, guess what? Film, unlike some other art forms, doesn't work that way.

Film. Is. Collaboration.

Film is not painting. It is not sculpture. It is not music. One person is not responsible for the idea, the production and creation, and the exhibition of the artwork. In all likelihood, the director is not the writer, the writer is not the cinematographer, the cinematographer is not the actor, and the actor is not the editor. Yes, there are notable exceptions involving multi-tasking, but NONE of those exceptions involved a filmmaker doing everything. Quite simply, that's next to impossible (unless we're talking some sort of auteur-driven avant garde film, but we're not... we're talking film as it pertains to the film industry). Even arguing the Bachs and Beethovens of the music world you have to account for the Yo-Yo Mas and the Itzhak Perlmans.

This all seems obvious, I'm sure, and I'm equally sure that if you're still reading this, you're wondering where the Hell I'm going with it. Here's where: the propensity of young "independent" filmmakers to attempt total control of a project has to stop. This propensity, as I've probably failed at alluding to, comes from the propensity to want to be "artists" above all else.

All too often you will find a young (and probably talented) aspiring filmmaker who wants to make "my project." In other words, that filmmaker wants to A) write the script, B) rewrite the script, C) lock the shooting script, D) produce the film, E) direct the film, F) shoot the film, G) star in the film, H) edit the film, and I) sell, distribute, and market the film.

Pardon my French, but: get. fucking. real.

Even George Lucas, that all-too banal overrated filmmaker (though an outstanding film businessman and innovator, if not the best), once said that writing, directing, and producing a film (the original Star Wars... oh, the irony) was one role too many. And, despite my disdain for admitting such, he was and remains right.

Now, opponents of this argument will no doubt point to Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and countless others, but even those examples all freely admit to the collaborative nature of filmmaking. Look how much credit QT gives to Uma Thurman for the Kill Bill series. Find out how much credit Rodriguez gives to Tarantino on various film, never mind how much he gives to Frank Miller for Sin City.

The inconvenient truth here is that few of us are as good as any of the people mentioned above, and what aspiring filmmakers need to realize is that their talents probably lie in a specific aspect of filmmaking. Which means that they need to find other aspiring filmmakers whose talents lie in those aspects that they themselves are lacking.

In other words, the next time someone says "I've got my own project," let them know that a film - both before it's completed and after it's distributed - is never artistically owned by one person. It just doesn't happen. And it probably never will.

So... who wants to get a project going?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Irresponse, December 2009

Okay, so I've finally decided to start answering some questions and comments that have been presented to me. Maybe I'll do this monthly, and maybe I won't... who knows? I'm a bit erratic when it comes to being productive.

At any rate, I've gone back to when I came over to Blogger (unanswered questions asked prior to that will just have to wait... and probably forever) and picked out a few things to respond to:

From A Kiss by Extension:
  • Q: Dot-Com said... Wow, but I agree with others about the "kill" statement. I doubt it was on his mind :-) 
  • A: Oh, but it most certainly was. Possibly the result of seeing Famke Janssen in Goldeneye one too many times.
From Fearless:
  • Q: Alan Burnett said... Question 1 : "Lords and Kings fall because they are not their fathers. Fathers fail because they do not choose their daughters". Discuss with reference to British history in the period 1400 to 1750. 
  • A: Alan, the former part of that line is not a reference to British history; the latter part is a subtle and indirect nod to Elizabeth and Henry VIII.
From A River in Epirus:
  • Q: Geoff said... Your last two blogs seem to be rather dark, both addressing death. Something you want to tell us? :) 
  • A: Er... death makes for good storytelling? Not that it's good storytelling, just that it makes for good storytelling.
From Battlestar Enterprise, Part II:
  • Q: Yoork said...  I was feeling a Star Wars vibe too, with the incest part. I still have not seen Battle Star Gallactica. Everyone says I must watch. Somehow I can't imagine the plot lines being THIS scandalous?
  • A: Oh, they get pretty silly.
From Oft-Delayed Random Musings:
  • Q: Bill G. said... "Er... never mind... it's only for people drinking ONE glass of wine a day." ?? So what's the size of your glass, and how many per day? 
  • A: Glass? I drink from the bottle!
From Once a Time:
  • Q: willow said... Wow, these would make great lyrics. You should set them to music! Are you musical, as well? 
  • A: Willow, I am musical a tiny bit. Piano, trumpet, and learning guitar. I also scored a short film once, but it was pretty bad.
From Pet Musings: October 12, 2009:
  • Q: e said... I echo the sentiment re: your wandering dogs, and hope your cat stays put. What book are you providing analysis of, she asks curiously??? Also, I've a book recommendation since you've so many friends of the canine and feline variety: Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Cheers and good luck with the analysis. 
  • A: Actually wound up having to analyze three books: 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Last Picture Show, and Cold Mountain.
From Coldscapes:
  • Q: Ronda Laveen said... So, on occasion, I've read your stories that are similarly echoing Russian spy novels or Bond. Is this a genre you like? Past life? Current life? I'm from the Wonderland and I like to wonder. 
  • A: Pretty much just a genre fan, despite what some think. Ignore those people.
From Things I Did On Thanksgiving:
  • Q: Siobhan said... We don't celebrate thanksgiving in my neck of the woods! Plants vs Zombies, eh?.... What platform is it played on? PC? Xbox? 
  • A: PC. And now, apparently, on iPhone.
From A Dragon in Winter:
  • Q1: Brian Miller said... nice...i like this jeff...so will you be sharing more of it as you continue? 
  • Q2: Wings said... Great writing, and quite epic in scope, eh? How big is this novel? 
  • A: It's possible I'll share more... and, yes, it's intended to be "epic." If it does wind up a novel, it'll be rather large. The posted piece itself is a essentially a summary of the scenes depicted, rather than the full scenes themselves. I'm not a huge fan of long blog posts, so I tried to keep it as short as possible without losing the essence. Or some narcissistic intent such as that. Heh.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Battlestar Enterprise, Part V

Well, as the night game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles ran a bit late, I was remiss in my preparation to write something new (ironically, I was going with sports-related), so I'm resorting to posting another edition of Battlestar Enterprise. For those who hate these, don't fret; there's only one more after this one!
Part V originally posted April 14, 2009

***

David blinked his eyes. He couldn't see anything but bright, white light. He was still in his Viper, but She-Boomer's Raptor was nowhere to be found. Silly him... why did he get so close to the anomaly? After all, it's the Raptor that is equipped with the necessary sensors to properly analyze it. All the Viper can do is identify friend or foe and shoot at the damned thing. Eh, it was probably the scientist in him. Why, oh, why, didn't his dad let him be a Raptor flight officer? Probably because that would've made too much sense for such a muddled continuity.

A shape appeared. Another viper. This one seemed different somehow. It looked brand new. As it drifted closer to him, he could make out a pilot in its cockpit. Blond hair. Way out of her acting depth. StarSheBuck? Wasn't she still on Galactiprise?

***

StarSheBuck ran down the corridors of Galactica, er, Enterprise. Ah, fuck it, we'll just stick with Galactiprise and ret-con shit right now. Anyway, StarSheBuck ran down the corridors of Galactiprise, listening to the music in her intergalactic iPod. The beat of the music matched the beat of her cadence, and she was sublimely aware that the music was guiding her around the ship. Of course, she had no idea that she forgot her iPod in her room and was listening to a random paranormal signal being transmitted directly to her brain by the Imperious Leader of folk rock, Dylan Hendrix Baltar. He did, after all, want to fuck the shit out of her. What better way to do that than convince a woman that she's a messenger from Zeus?

"There must be some kind of way out here," she said, slowing to a quick walk.

A nearby marine was rummaging through an unattended backpack, probably trying to steal some cigarettes. He looked up at StarSheBuck, a slightly confused look on his face. "Pilot quarters are aft, two decks down."

"I know where the pilot quarters are, Jarhead. I fucking live there." StarSheBuck rarely had time for significant conversation, or even a thank you.

"What are you, some kind of joker?" The marine did not look amused.

StarSheBuck picked up her gait, suddenly aware what the marine was doing. "What are you, some kind of thief?"

This is all too confusing.

***

David keyed his radio, not entirely expecting an answer. "StarSheBuck? Kara, is that you?"

"Who the fuck do you think it is, you fucking pansy." It was not a question.

Satisfied that was really StarSheBuck, I mean, really, who else but the real StarSheBuck would talk like that, David waved at her. "What's all this white light?"

A strange voice cackled over the speaker. It was He-Boomer. "Oh, you gotta go there 'n shit. White light, my ass. Fuck you honkey bitches."

StarSheBuck and David looked at each other, wondered for a moment what the Hell, er, Hades, er, Underworld that communication was. They stared into each other's eyes. David noticed his groin was getting a bit tight. He was going to profess his undying love for StarSheBuck when she started laughing.

"What's funny? We're lost, She-Boomer's gone, and I have to pee."

StarSheBuck rolled her eyes. "You're an idiot."

David got defensive. "How is it my fault vipers don't have bathrooms? Fuck, Raptors have bathrooms."

"I've been to Earth, David. And I'm going to take us there."

What? Now David was really confused. What the fuck is Earth? And which one? And does it have pigeons?

***

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Irrewind, 20091212: Movies

I watch a ton of movies. Now, I was going to write something that was unknown about myself, but it didn't come out quite right. So... I watch a ton of movies. In addition to watching a ton of movies (literally... a ton... have you ever weighed a film reel?), I write about watching a ton of movies. Usually I'm a bit lazy about such things and the result is my illustrious (not) "One-Line Movie Reviews," but every now and then I do something a little different.

"Immigration, Terrorism, Hollywood"
Two hot topics in politics right now are proliferating on the big and small screens, as of late, so I figured I'd fuel whatever fire and review three movies I've seen recently, as well as the season 6 premiere of one of the best shows on television... Read More

"The Best World War II Films You Didn't Like"
In preparation for going to see Letters From Iwo Jima, I watched Flags of Our Fathers again. Back when it was released theatrically, I called it another Eastwood masterpiece, a subtle one, at that. However, even as I wrote those words, I hated the ending, didn't much... Read More

"Subtitles, Dubs, and the Subtle Stupidity of Dubtitles"
I watch a lot of movies. A lot. I try to go to a theater at least once every two weeks and will probably watch at least two at home every week. Admittedly, I haven't exactly been meeting that quota since I left North Carolina, but you get the idea: I watch a lot of movies... Read More

"10 Movies Everybody Loves... That I Hate"
I watched Curse of the Golden Flower for the first time last night and was thoroughly unimpressed. I had heard that the film was the box office record holder in China, so I figured it must be great. Not good. Great... Read More

"The Greatest Animated Movies of All Time"
Okay, so these aren't objectively the greatest animated movies of all time, but these are definitely my all-time favorites. An objective list would have to include Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, as that was the film that proved animated features were a viable genre, but... Read More

Friday, December 11, 2009

Long Overdue Useless Opinions

So, I'm having a grand old time in limbo... no, really, I actually am. No responsibilities (save the pets), fewer bills (along with less income, but who cares), and a general sense of "chill." I like "chill," particularly when it's in quotation marks. But I hate the cold... oh, do I hate the cold. Is that irony? I'm not entirely sure, but I'm of the opinion that it is not.

Ah, well.

I'm also having a grand old time redesigning this place, as some can tell. On December 7th (Pearl Harbor day here in the United States) I finally implemented that long-elusive 3-column format here. I could've cheated and simply uploaded a 3-column template from some website, but I like to do things myself. Of course, I had a bit of help finding the right html coding from my friend, Kate W., but I shall forever after fail to attribute any credit to her. In other words: forget what you just read and pretend I did it all myself.

Anyway, I've noticed that this place has evolved from a forum in which I ranted or raved about particular issues (as well as my life) into a exhibition of early drafts of some of my creative work. I'm not sure if it's going to stay that way, but it might, as I find myself almost completely bereft of interest in news and politics as of late. US budget crisis? Who cares? I've been in a budget crisis since 2003, and I'm still around. Universal Health Care? Who cares? I'm a veteran who receives disability from the government (although I do admit that I sorely need to visit a dentist). Um... what else is happening in the world? What? We have a black President???

Ahem... since I have "evolved" (love quotations... LOVE 'em), I'm going to go back to my roots and be superficially opinionated for the day. Without further amusement... whatever...

Onions
Hate 'em. But I eat 'em. And I actually kinda like 'em, so forget I said anything.

Football
American football, mind you; not that overrated European/South American phenomenon that moves way too slowly to be considered a sport. I was going somewhere with this, but I'm lost now...

Democrats
I have come to realize that the term is a contradiction. Democracy is defined as "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly..." But here in the US, at least, Democrats are people who want the government to tell them what to do, how to do it, and then provide for it on top of that. Isn't that oligarchy? Ah, well, I don't really care.

Republicans
There used to be a John Wayne-influenced phenomenon among the right in the United States that "America is a Republic, not a democracy." Yeah, well, look up the definitions of the two... a democracy is, by definition, a Republic. Again, I don't really care, but I just had to point that out.

Daily Cartoons
The sole reason that Saturdays are no longer worshiped by young children anymore. Nickelodeon, you are the Devil!

The Devil
Not real. Enough said. Moving on.

Garlic
I do hate garlic, but I like using garlic powder in the rare instances that involve me cooking something. And I like garlic when prepared by someone who knows what they're doing. So I just contradicted myself again. Big whoop, I do it all the time.

Xhe
I find it odd when I see people using this word. And, yes, there are people using this word. If you have no idea what I'm referring to, read this: He and She Presents: Xhe!

Ninjas
Ninjas are cool. One on one, there is no pirate who can defeat a ninja. However, there are few (if any) ninjas who know how to sail and assault other ships. So, at sea, pirates ARE the ninjas. Anyway, it's a sad state of Japanese cultural affairs when one visits a "ninja school" in Japan and sees nothing but nerdy white guys who essentially make up their own rules of what constitutes ninjitsu and call themselves ninja.

No, that is not a joke. This is what has really happened. It's very disturbing.

Soccer
Or, "association football," is not as cool as American football. So there.

Hockey
Remains the coolest sport to watch.

Sleep
An excellent activity. And it might be calling...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Snowbird

Feathers of ice
falling from a dying bird
that I cannot see
Though you've not told me
I'm certain your wings are bare
under the blanket of white
and your body will not be there
come Spring

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Dragon in Winter

*This piece, like Gateway, is less a complete story and more a summary/excerpt of larger stories that I'm working on. It's primarily an exercise, but I think it's developed enough to share and be read and criticized.

A day that was ending unusually had begun unusually, in retrospect. Áfastr had never been hunting with a woman, but for some reason - probably the knee-shaking nervousness that comes with courting someone for the first time - he invited Kolfrosta with him. The intention was to hunt for food, as his family's meat stores were getting low, but when Kolfrosta agreed to accompany him, Áfastr modified what was to have been a deer hunt into a hunt for wolves. What better way to show his masculinity to a hopeful bride than to hunt another of Nature's hunters, after all? There was an attempt at protest by his brother, Afvaldr, but as Áfastr is the elder sibling, the protest was a moot point.

Despite being the elder, Áfastr is still young, and his decision to include the pale-skinned, raven-haired beauty - for Kolfrosta certainly reflected her name - caused him to worry needlessly for the entire hunt. While some of that worry was responsibly directed at Kolfrosta and his brother's safety, much of it was concerned with embarrassing himself somehow. The last thing he wanted was to appear foolish in front of this object of desire, especially with a witness present. That the witness was related by blood ensured that any indiscretion would remain a topic of conversation for ages to come, should one have occurred.

As fate willed it, Áfastr's concerns proved themselves fruitless and, in a sort of twisted benevolence, practically guaranteed those concerns be forever forgotten. For the three would-be hunters had found no wolves. Nor had they found deer, for that matter. What they found instead, however, had a much larger implication regarding their immediate futures. Eating through winter, it seemed, suddenly became of less importance.

***

The rest of the villagers - the ones who could fit in the village's relatively small main hall - eye Áfastr and his brother with disdain. Not only is their tale practically unbelievable, there is the issue concerning their ancestry. Áfastr and Afvaldr were, as the stories go, not of a Northmen bloodline, but of a people once found far to the south. Legends referred to those people as Hellenes and many of the old stories are rife with encounters, friendly and otherwise, with them. Áfastr smiles a bit, finding it odd that the matter of his ancestry had never come up before, not even from Kolfrosta's father - who already knew of Áfastr's family history - when Áfastr had approached him for permission to court his daughter. But now that he and his brother were witnesses to what some villagers interpret as the prophetic harbinger, those same villagers look for reasons to blame Áfastr and Afvaldr for the harbinger's arrival. Áfastr cracks another smile, this time wondering what the villagers would be doing were they attempting to solve the problem, rather than lay the blame.

Afvaldr leans into his brother's ear and whispers, "But it was Kolfrosta who saw it first."

Turning to Afvaldr, Áfastr responds, "Mouth shut." Though the taint of love and lust is what is ultimately preventing Áfastr from publicly revealing this fact, he is also wise enough to know that Kolfrosta is from one of the oldest recorded bloodlines in the region and she would not be blamed regardless. She may have, were the brothers of a local heraldry, but they were not, and Áfastr rarely allows himself to engage in futile confrontations. His father had taught him that before he died.

Though both of the brothers are on display in front of the villagers, only Afvaldr appears nervous. He is only 19 - five years younger than Áfastr - and has had a more sheltered upbringing. Already suffering from being a younger sibling, Afvaldr had to endure a mother's over-protectiveness after his father was killed. Áfastr is sublimely aware of his brother's unease and maintains his presence of calm primarily to support what little calm Afvaldr has left. One of the results of their mother's over-protection is that Afvaldr has never gotten into any serious trouble, and despite the fact that he is merely a witness, this incident would be recorded as Afvaldr's first altercation. Were it not for its seriousness, Áfastr would be attempting to help his brother to laugh it off, but until the Council arrives, Áfastr has no idea if they are even facing capital punishment.

Áfastr takes a moment to scan the villagers, taking in the budding hatred for the two brothers that was all but absent a few hours ago. He wonders, for a moment, if reporting what they saw had been a wise decision and concludes that it had been. Not doing so could potentially result in everyone present, as well as everyone not present, being killed. Even if Áfastr and his brother are executed for being "harbingers," the alternative would be the same, and Áfastr would rather die knowing that Kolfrosta would be alive without him, instead of being dead with him. As he has this thought, he spies Kolfrosta in the audience. There is an instant of sprouting fear as he theorizes that she, too, might hate him, but a recognizable interest in her eyes immediately suggests otherwise. Almost in reflex, he winks. He is too far to see, but the wink elicits a blush. He does see Kolfrosta quickly hide a return smile behind her hood.

A horn blows outside in the distance, signaling the remainder of the Council's arrival. Áfastr inhales deeply, clearing his thoughts and preparing his defense, and he pats his brother on the hand. Without realizing it, he tells his brother that they will be all right.

***

"And you're certain this is what you saw?" asks the old woman, Líknvé, as she holds up an artist's sketch of what the brothers had described.

Áfastr nods and the old woman glares at him. He returns the glare, noticing a strange emotion creeping into her eyes. Áfastr has, since almost infancy, had a reputation for being extremely empathic. Is she afraid? She turns her gaze to Afvaldr, prompting Áfastr to interrupt. "It's what he saw, as well."

The old woman hackles. "You would be better served to show proper respect, foreign-born. This is your hearing, not mine."

"I was born here, Líknvé. My great-great grandfather is reputed to be foreign-born. Not me."

She hackles again and writes something down on a scroll. She approaches the Village Elder, what some might refer to as a King, and hands him the scroll. "I am done here, Hólmlaugr. I should go."

Hólmlaugr nods and the woman leaves the stage. Áfastr finds it curious that the Elder essentially just allowed an old hag to give him an order, but given the stories surrounding Líknvé, Áfastr reasons that he shouldn't be surprised.

"What do we do with them?" Hólmlaugr yells towards the shadows that Líknvé disappeared into as he realizes that no decision regarding the brothers has been made.

"Let them go," comes the response from seemingly nowhere. "This is not their fault."

The villagers, who until now simply watched the proceedings in silence, suddenly erupt in despair and anger, upset that they have no one to blame. "Then whose fault is it?" someone asks above the din and growing chaos.

"The weather's," says a voice that sounds like Líknvé's as it fades into echoes.

Her answer causes Áfastr to flinch in confusion.

***

She is known as many things, Líknvé is. Seer, prophet, medicine woman, and even prostitute. The truth is that she has been all of these, but the one thing she has been for nearly her entire life is an animalist. Animals have always intrigued her. Their behaviors, their anatomies, what makes them tick and, in some cases, what makes them taste so good. As an educated woman - an extreme rarity in her culture - she is often viewed with suspicion and experience had informed her that maintaining the seedy reputation of the professions she is known for has its advantages. But, studying the animal kingdom is and always will be her primary love.

As she enters her hovel in the foothills northeast of the main village, she heads immediately to her library. Impressive by any measure - nearly 5,000 volumes of scientific lore - she has spent her lifetime traveling abroad and collecting anything in print. She has even traveled to the southlands, the Hellenic world, of which Áfastr and Afvaldr's family is purported to originally be from. It is for this reason that she is afraid, for she has seen the flying lizards with her own eyes and has witnessed their destructive capabilities. She has no idea if Áfastr and Afvaldr's family is from there, though she has noticed their resemblance to peoples of that area, but she does know that if their family did indeed migrate north and assimilate with the Northmen, it was precisely because of those flying creatures and the death that they wrought to their habitats.

Why she is afraid has nothing to do with prophecy - she, for one, thinks that prophecies are nothing more than the result of uneducated men trying to control other uneducated men - and has everything to do with physiology. Lizards, she knows, do not fare well in cold climates such as the one her people live in and, as a rule, avoid the tundra.

That the brothers and Kolfrosta - she picked up on the fact that Kolfrosta was present at the scene very quickly... something to do with the young woman's guilty eyes - had seen a dragon in the dead of winter, and here, means that something is wrong. The careful balance of the world is being tipped, but from what?

Líknvé pulls some biology books off of one of the library's bookshelves and wraps them in a blanket. There is a trip to be taken, for more information needs gathering. And Líknvé trusts no one save Líknvé to acquire and interpret that information. Evil is afoot, and as she did once a long time ago, she intends to chase it.

***

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews IX

Alice (2009)(miniseries) - another attempt by Syfy (formerly SciFi... which was a much better moniker, I must add) to "modernize" a literary classic. They did a piss-poor job with The Wizard of Oz (the absolutely dreadful Tin Man) and they've done a much worse job with Alice in Wonderland. At least Tin Man made you watch it for a while before you decided that it was crap. Alice's opening scene let you know it's garbage. Bad acting, bad directing, bad script, bad interpretation... the list goes on. Verdict: SKIP it.

Gamer (2009) - as a film that attempts to be social commentary disguised as an action movie, it fails in that regard. It is, however, a fairly decent action movie with some superficial social commentary lacquered on its face. Fittingly, the cinematography is as slick as its superficiality. Featuring a surprising cast (Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Ludacris, Michael C. Hall, Milo Ventimiglia, John Leguizamo), the acting was enough to carry such an over-the-top story. Not bad, but nothing really good, either... save the "video game" look that was rather impressive. Verdict: SEE it... might as well, especially if you're into video games.

Inglourious Basterds (2009) - Some people in Hollywood think Quentin Tarantino is overrated. Hell, a lot of people think Quentin Tarantino is overrated. I am not one of them (although, I admit, I used to be). Inglourious Basterds, a film set in an alternate-reality's World War II, is fucking awesome. While there is an underlying plot, QT pretty much concentrates on making a film that makes no bones about what it's really concerned with: quirky caricatures in really fucked-up situations. Nowhere near as phenomenal as the Kill Bill series, but still excellent. Verdict: SEE it.

Jennifer's Body (2009) - Diablo Cody's much-anticipated follow-up to the excellent Juno is... a trashy horror film? I don't mean to sound sexist, but this film was clearly written for the XX chromosomes. That's not a bad thing, but this film certainly hurt itself which such intent... particularly with the presence of Y-chromosome attraction Megan Fox. Verdict: SKIP it and rent Juno instead. Or if you're in mood for an estrogen-ladened horror, rent The Descent (which is brilliant).

Law Abiding Citizen (2009) - starts out an excellent movie, a seeming commentary on the hilarity that sometimes is the American justice system. Then it becomes a pretty good Hollywood movie, despite being replete with cliché and a devolution into action/suspense. And then... ugh... it decides to jump some serious logic and gives us an ending that is less than satisfying and ridiculous, to boot. F. Gary Gray is a solid director, yes (he did The Negotiator), and the acting is well above average for this type of film (Jamie Foxx is adequate and Gerard Butler is very good). Still, given the ending, it's hard to recommend it. Verdict: SKIP it (unless you just really like Gerard Butler... even Jamie Foxx fans won't miss anything by skipping this one).

Pandorum (2009) - an intriguing science fiction/horror film that was ultimately, well, hugely disappointing. The setup is excellent (if a bit run-of-the-mill): Earth is dying, but an Earth-like planet is found among the stars and a colonizing mission is sent. Something, naturally, goes wrong, and the colony ship becomes infested with strange creatures that feed on the human passengers. Believe it or not, this film could have been a pillar of science fiction if it would have bothered to ask and answer the questions it almost presented. Instead we get a fairly lame action film that uses cheap plot gimmicks and tricks to move things along. Verdict: I don't really care.

Sunshine (2007) - Danny Boyle makes good movies. That Danny Boyle makes good zombie horror (28 Days Later) and good science fiction (this film) is what's a surprise. I saw this film for the first time in 2007 and given my recent viewing of Pandorum and the fact that a friend of mine hadn't seen it, I watched it again. This movie, despite its left turn in the third act, is entirely underrated as both a film and as an example of exemplary science fiction. Basically, our Sun is dying, and an international group of astronauts fly a really, really big bomb into it in order to jump start it. Sounds lame, I know, but this movie pulls it off with flying colors. Verdict: SEE it.

Turistas (2006) - one of the many torture-porn films, this one was surprisingly... not crap. To its credit, there is only one scene involving the dissection of a hapless character, while most of the other deaths are the results of more traditional survivalist fare. In fact, the film is less torture-porn and more, well, survivalist. As far as the characters, they don't act as stupidly as most characters of this genre do (no one went off alone, for instance). Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, and Olivia Wilde star. Verdict: SEE it (if you're a genre fan or otherwise inclined).

The Unborn (2009) - David S. Goyer, the director of this piece of movie (I refuse to use "cinema"), is a bit of a conundrum. In the comic book world, he is one of the better, more consistent writers. Hell, he's even decent as a screenwriter. But as a director? Oh, man... The Unborn, purportedly a "scary film" regarding a dead fraternal twin whose spirit has been possessed by a Jewish demon that was unleashed during the Holocaust goes on to... ah, forget it. This movie is crap. I couldn't even finish it. And yet, somehow, Gary Oldman agreed to star in it. What the Hell? No pun intended. Verdict: SKIP it.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009) - the third installment in the great-concepts/bad-movies Underworld franchise. This one isn't entirely unenjoyable, and it's a boon for the film that resident "I belong on Felicity" actor Scott Speedman is absent for this sequel. All this movie does is flesh out the details of expository history from the first film... so, if you're a fan of the series, you'll be okay with it. It doesn't stand up well on its on, though. Rhona Mitra is always lovely, and Bill Nighy is always a delight. Other than that: a bit by-the-numbers with less than stellar dialogue. Verdict: SKIP it, unless you like the franchise or are just really into vampires and werewolves.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Irrewind, 20091205: Humor

Despite the theory that, in person, I'm somewhat of a funny person, I rarely write anything humorous. Occasionally, however, I give it a shot... whether I'm successful or not is not for me to decide. I think everything I write is humorous, even the depressing stuff. But the question remains: can I do funny in print?

"Things You Should Remember When..."
... Waking Up in the Morning After a Night of Drinking

The name of the person you're sleeping next to.

To put on slippers, in case you overslept and the dog couldn't hold it... Read More

"Movie Sequels We All Want to See"
I was talking to a friend the other day and, as usual, the topic of conversation shifted to comic books (we're both comic dorks) and to movies (also both movie geeks). Given the current slate of movies out there, sequels and trilogies came up. And while we agree that... Read More

"Trojan Condoms"
And there I was... staring at the emblem of "America's Most Trusted Condom." And it hit me.

Why name a condom after the Trojans?

As someone who likes to study Classical Greece, I was always under the impression that the... Read More

"Dying Happy, Inc."
Everyone wants to die happy, right? Sure, by "dying happy," people usually mean they want to die having lived a full life, with a strong family and/or most of the goals they set for themselves accomplished... Read More

"Adventures in Alwaysland"
Wake up. Possibly to an alarm clock, or maybe you're one of those assholes who can just get up when you need to via some sort of natural ability inherited from the Swiss. Get out of bed. Possibly slipping on, well, slippers, if you're one of those poor saps living in a cheap studio... Read More

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gateway

The smell of cedar is out of place. Israel is not to the south and there are no trees. He doesn't know what death smells like - perhaps it does smell like wood - but he is resolutely certain that fear should smell like something else. The nitrocellulose in the air does little to staunch the odor. Cedar among blood. It's an interesting scent and its strange pleasantness makes it nearly intolerable. He's not sure how much more of it he can stand, for it reminds him of a Lebanese woman he was once in love with. She's a wonderful image that he would welcome under normal circumstances, but he needs to control his fear; not fight it. There is already an enemy here and memory need not join the fray. He heard, years ago, that scent triggers memory better than any of the other senses, but he only now believes it. The last thoughts he has before he shakes the distraction is that he's thankful he's not a bloodhound. And that he's afraid.

***

"What the fuck are those things?" Campbell screams, less a question and more an excuse to vent frustration.Whatever those Things were, they just kept coming. Campbell, a soldier who tends to think in ratios and statistics, is all too aware that each rifleman in his unit was only issued 300 rounds of ammunition each. He is also all too aware that he has less than 50 rounds remaining... barely a magazine-and-a-half.

"Calm the fuck down," Corporal Roarke orders, even though she is the same rank as Campbell. Technically, Campbell is her superior since he's the Bravo-Team leader and she leads Charlie-Team, but she has a reputation for being extremely calm under pressure and had fast become her squad leader's favorite. Still, she wonders the same thing as Campbell. The Things seem endless in number and ammunition reserves are, without doubt, on everyone's mind. Unlike Gerstmann, the other woman in the squad, Roarke keeps her hair long - she prefers femininity when not on duty - and notices dried blood obscuring her brunette locks. She had been standing next to Hashimoto when the Things appeared out of nowhere and practically decapitated him. Anyone else might have frozen in shock at the sight, but Roarke didn't earn her "Icy Bitch" moniker for no reason. Regardless, she remains terrified, just like everyone else. The rescue team, after all, is in dire need of rescue.

***

Project Gateway was in its sixth year when the distress signal reached Earth. It was short and consisted of a simple message: "Help me." Controversy immediately spread across the various space agencies involved in the project. The foremost issue was with the message itself. Help "me." Project Gateway involved 37 deployed astronauts and those in the psychoanalytical industries felt it rather strange that the pronoun hadn't been "us." The base conclusion was reached that the message meant the other 36 people on Iapetus were already dead when the message was sent, but the bureaucrats running the project ignored that interpretation and chalked the message up to panic and the sender being in an otherwise irrational state of mind.

The second controversy was a rehash of one of the original debates surrounding Gateway. A few legislators, upon the recommendation of high-ranking military personnel, tried to insert law enforcement and combat personnel into the mission, but their concerns went unheeded. Despite the general history involving space exploration, in which a majority of the astronauts and cosmonauts were of military background, the space agencies felt that since no one had ever knowingly went into space armed for combat, there was no reason to start now. Critics of this pointed out that no one had ever knowingly ventured so far away from their homeworld, and every possibility - including alien encounter - should be considered. The recommendation went unheeded, and the 37 astronauts eventually selected for the project were all from science, medical, engineering, and construction backgrounds.

For the rescue mission, dubbed Operation Gatekeeper, the military perspective won out, and a 13-man squad of infantry - hastily trained for space service - was launched from Vostochny on a course for Saturn's moon. A second ship, one loaded with more scientists, doctors, engineers, and builders, would launch from Cape Canaveral a few days afterward.

That was seven months ago.

***

The sensation of fireworks fades into reality, revealing themselves to be ballistic flashes from the end of a gun barrel. There's little opportunity for the eye to interpret the color on the walls. It is not a rainbow if no one is around to see it, and here there is no rain. Darkness engulfed the corridors to begin with, and the spitting light ruins his ability to devolve into the nocturnal creature he desperately needs to become. He secretly wishes his fingers were made of eyes so he could touch what little light there is, but his hands tightly grasp his weapon and he would've remained blind regardless. Shadow does not seem to work here and only creates more shadow. He tries to ignore the false realization that there is something tactile in the instants between the bursts of gunpowder and the abysmal void, but he is unable to. He is fighting through a black hole whose gravity is not only robbing him of his ability to see, but his ability to comprehend. The absence of light is a wall his fear cannot break through. This rabbit hole provides no looking glass.

***

"ACE in," Roarke shouts as she hurries to apply a pressure dressing to Sipalia's - the Alpha-Team leader - bleeding forearm. Campbell is far too unstable at the moment and nobody has seen Sergeant Greene since the first wave of the Things appeared, so Roarke was ostensibly in command. She already knows everyone is dangerously low on ammunition and that the only casualties are Hashimoto and Sipalia - and perhaps Greene - but reverting to a standing operating procedure helps her control her growing fear. If she loses it, there is a strong possibility that the rest of the squad will, too. The unintentional arrogance behind the thought makes her crack a smile, but she knows it's true. She can't help who she is. Never could; never will. All she can do is her job and hope they can shoot their way to the light at the end of the tunnel... if there is one.

Eight ammunition, casualty, and equipment reports yell in from the rest of the squad. At first Roarke is alarmed at so few a number, but quickly realizes that eight is the number she should've expected. The total ammunition count is less than ten percent of their issue. Defending their position against another onslaught is going to be next to impossible. The dropship is on the other side of Gateway and contact with the Capricorn orbiter was lost during the second assault, so there is no way to coordinate any feasible extraction with the ship's crew, if they are even still in orbit. Last Roarke knew, the Capricorn had docked with one of three Iapetus survey and communication satellites in order to run diagnostics.

The squad is holed up in one of the prefabricated corridors that the original Project Gateway team had brought with them, so there is a bright side - as bright as irony will allow - to things. Behind them is the incomplete science lab, which is habitable and whose only current access is through the prefabbed corridor. The only other way out of the corridor is into Gateway Station itself, which means that Roarke only has to conduct a defense in one direction. Unless, the thought fearfully creeps its way into Roarke's mind, the Things can live in space. No, no... Vasquez had blown one out of an airlock and the Thing had seemed to die. They should be all right, in that sense.

Sipalia winces as Roarke finishes patching him up. "We're going to have to fight our way out of here, you know," he says, as plainly and unemotionally as possible. Through the doorway into the rest of the station and back to the docking ring where the dropship awaits. Neither Sipalia nor Roarke has any idea if the pilot and crew chief are still alive to fly them out of there.

Roarke nods. "Once more into the breach, my friends. Once more," she mutters, barely audibly. She's never sounded so unconvincing in her life.

***

The breeze doesn't betray its source. Movement or pressure, the wind keeps its lips sealed. Could it speak, it might not say what he wants to hear. His attempt to stay as quiet as possible reminds him of how crickets compose their songs, with toothed wings vibrating against each other. He's had this thought before, the very first time he made love to a woman. Penetration creates an interesting sonata of bodily fluid and function, and obsession with noise turns into lustful symphony visualized. No matter how silent, it is deafening. Here, his weapon is his percussion; his screams of fear his brass; his breath his woodwind. The disturbing humor that listens in the back of his mind now plays for him a requiem of violin, viola, and cello.

Ahead of him light slithers its way through cracks in a door like the serpent in the garden. Let there be should be an invitation as warm as the bosom of an eager harlot, but he knows it is merely a harbinger of danger. The doorway warns him that the apple should not be taken while it taunts him that there is no other option. It is no matter, for he has long passed the point at which a physiological or psychological effect begins to be produced.

As he walks through the threshold, into the company of the Things, his mind returns from its sojourn to the unknown. He finally remembers what happened to the others and how he's survived for seven months, but not, it seems, how he obtained a military-issue carbine. Overwhelming are the sensations of color and poetry, flesh tearing from bone, the scent of a Lebanese woman's skin and the taste of her nipples, the inhalation of blood, memories of earning diplomas and doctorates, the impact of hitting water, the glowing smile of his first girlfriend...

... and a vague recollection of being born.

*Followed by Surface

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Through Subsequent Lives

"Where's your family?" he asks, wondering why he's the only person present. It's a bit of a rhetorical question, as he knows her well enough to already know. Family, to her, is little more than a convenient excuse of forcing friends. And she didn't like forced friends. Friends were earned through experience, not given by blood. That's not to say that family couldn't be or aren't friends - her brother was one of her best friends before he died - it's just to say that she views family as somewhat of a cheat when it pertains to friendship.

She smiles, mostly to herself, subtly aware that the question is meant more to break the silence than anything else. The two have been friends for so long, they no longer need to answer questions, nor even finish sentences.

"How are you?" This question, too, is rhetorical, for he knows she doesn't have much longer. But etiquette seems to mandate that it be asked. Doing so embarrasses him a little; he hates the obvious. So does she, for that matter.

"I'm dying. How are you?"

***

They met during her third semester of college, the beginning of what she calls her "second life." Her "first life" was the one her family dictated she lived. Choices, in large part, were not hers. Where she lived during her first life, for instance, was never where she felt she wanted to be. She simply lived there because her parents did. Taking piano lessons was also not her idea, though she very much appreciated taking them later in life. She did not, however, ever learn to appreciate church. In another life, perhaps her second one, she may have, but as she approached the end of her first life, she realized that church was a choice made for her... and she much preferred to find her own way.

Even her first year of college happened at a school her father made her go to, his alma mater, which is what prompted her transfer.

"Second life, eh?" She remembers him asking that during their first conversation. At the time, she was overly proud of her revelation of "first life, second life" that she usually brought it up within the first few minutes of meeting someone new. As far as she was concerned, everyone she encountered in her second life was entitled to know that she was a different person than she was just a few months ago... even if they had never met her before. Eventually, the pride of epiphany waned a bit, but she continued to hold the occasion very dear in memory.

"Yeah, my second life. Have you started yours yet?" She smiled, not having meant the slight offense that he  had taken.

"You could say I'm on my third," he responded, somewhat annoyed but still enamored by the unconventionally beautiful - and pleasant - girl who wasn't yet old enough to drink. He smiled back, not having meant the slight offense that she had taken.

He explained that he, too, attempted to distance himself from his family and his childhood. The attempt took him into the military, and the military showed him another world. There were regrets, of course, but also experiences which revealed him that everything in the world - existence, in fact - was to be appreciated.

"What about death?" she asked, a play at Devil's Advocate. His response, which to her was a clever surprise, opened the door to their lifelong companionship.

"Aren't you on your second life?"

***

"Is there a life after this one?"

He tries to stifle a laugh, but fails. Such a question, coming from her, borders on the ridiculous. She frowns, eliciting his kiss on her forehead.

"What do you think?"

"I don't know. To be honest, I don't really care."

This time, he frowns. He grabs her hand, rubbing her thumb and forefinger gently. "Bullshit. There's always something right around the corner."

They both smile. Such a statement was blunt truth when it came to the intersections of their lives. Despite having done nearly everything and been nearly everywhere together, they had only had sex a handful of times; usually after a night of too much drinking or too much tragedy. Tragedy fucks, she liked to call them. And, despite being together through thick and thin, they both married other people a few years after college.

Her husband was a medical student she met when she was obtaining her own doctorate. She wanted her friend to be her "Man of Honor," but her fiancé vehemently refused it. In order to obviate the controversy, her friend arranged to be "unable to attend." She knew then that the marriage would end in divorce, and it did. After she filed for the separation she learned that she was pregnant. It was her friend, not her husband, who was there when she aborted the baby. There would be no tragedy fuck.

He married an actress from a local theatre company. He had eloped and his friend, not wanting to return the favor of not showing up for a wedding, flew in to be one of the witnesses. He and his wife seemed happy, but a car accident took her from him less than a year after they were married. The events surrounding the crash created controversy and his wife's family blamed the incident on him. His friend again flew in to offer support, though her husband - she was still married at the time - demanded that she stay home.

There were jokes of third lives and fourth lives, of course, and the two even mulled marrying each other, but neither really liked the idea. Their friendship was, so far, enough to make them closer than any two other people they knew, and there was no need for a legal document to signify their love for each other. Besides, they adored the idea of not having to answer to anybody whenever random thought or emotion took either of them on a spur of the moment adventure.

Still, as she lies there, she knows she's lying to herself. If there were ever a man to call her husband, she knew it was him. Looking back, it's the only regret she really has. She considers telling him that, but the very fact that he's here lets her know that he already knows... and feels the same way. She feels a sense of euphoria, partially from her body shutting itself down, but mostly from the realization that her one true friend will be with her the moment she enters her next life.

She closes her eyes, too tired to keep them open. Or perhaps because she simply doesn't want to anymore. "Do me one last favor."

He nods, mostly to himself, subtly aware that she's no longer looking at him. "Sure. Anything."

"Be there for me."

"I will."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Battlestar Enterprise, Part IV

Still somewhat in the creative doldrums, so here's BSE:IV in all its glory.

Anyone irreverent enough can read the previous parts here:

Part IV originally posted April 11, 2009

***

James T. Adama paced impatiently as he waited for news of his son. Suddenly, the radio screamed to life. On it, David Adama was screaming, too, like a little bitch.

"Dad? Dad? You there dad? Hello? Does this thing even fucking work?"

"David, what's going on?" Adama asked his son over the wireless. "Are you getting a good visual?"

"Yes, dad," came the reply.

Adama rolled his eyes. Will no one call him Admiral? He earned it, after all. Fuck, he was the only surviving command officer in the entire universe as far as he knew. That's worth a promotion, right?

"Is it what we thought it was?"

"I think so. It's very coherent, lots of continuity."

Adama turned to his XO, Spock. "What do you think, Saul?"

"I'm not sure. We should contact Gaeta and have Baltar transferred over here to run some diagnostics."

"Make it so."

Adama was about to hang up his transmitter when the squelch broke.

"Oh, shit," came his son's voice.

"What is it, David?"

Silence. Spock and Adama exchanged concerned glances, then Adama keyed the mike again. "David? Come in. What is it?"

The only response was more silence.

***

"This is He-Boomer in the slot, trying to sound all military 'n shit. Ready to launch." He-Boomer flexed his hands as he placed them on the HOTAS. He'd been grounded far too long. For him, it was about fucking time. He knew why he'd been grounded, too, because despite all that bullshit about this new Galactica, er, Enterprise being all politically correct, he was the only black pilot they had, and these white fucks running the show didn't want He-Boomer to whoop up on some pale ass. Fuck 'em.

"This is Kelly. You're a go."

"Hey, Kelly, can we do that go-no-go shit they sometimes do to sound cool 'n shit?"

"No, you fucking idiot."

"Why you gotta be all racist 'n shit?"

"Good-bye."

He-Boomer felt the jolt of the catapult as his Viper shot down the launch tube. There he was, flying into the deep unknowns of space in order to save Adama's stupid-ass kid. He-Boomer checked his perimeter and spotted his wingmen joining up with him. StarHeBuck, Hot Dog, and Jolly were forming up on schedule.

"Everyone good 'n shit?"

Three affirmatives echoed in his earpiece, and He-Boomer flexed his hands again.

"Then let's go find the old man's punk-ass kid 'n shit."

***

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today

remember when the conversation
turned from orange to violet
an end to ends, all over again
until then
dream that it all happened before
spinning around an axis
spinning around a star
what's spoken was spoken
who's listening is what's different
thinking, therefore being
the mind's eye
the mind's sky's precipitation
an instant within an instant
is when everything changes
it's a new day, today
... feels like the rest of yesterday

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Irrewind, 20091128: Metaphor

So, being somewhat of an archivist (and a little vain), I've decided to post weekly "indexes" in order to highlight some older material. As one can tell, I'm calling these indexes "Irrewind." Get it? Do you? Huh? Huh?

Anyway, back in June I hit a bit of inspiration. Life was, as it always is for all of us, moving right along earlier this summer and there were more than one fairly significant reality-altering events for me. I wasn't sure of it at the time, but a long-lost friend I had reconnected with on June 4th and 5th (whom I've since re-disconnected with) lit a fire under my ass... the result: I got a little prolific. Initially, most of the writing involved rather convoluted life metaphor, but it's since settled down into banal fiction and really bad poetry.

Without further adieu, presenting a handful of "metaphor" pieces (some of which are very weird): the first Irrewind!

"A Simple Dance Through an Otherwise Complicated Day"
Posture's up, hand's outstretched. There's a sudden thrill, a subtle thrill, as another takes your grasp and lets you spin around the room. Following you, maybe leading you, you don't know. The confusion from peripheral imagery flying by, constantly changing but always... Read More

"Abandon"
Somebody's counting on you, you know. Somebody needs you to stand up and walk through that open door. Who? Maybe you don't know. Why? Maybe you don't care. But somebody needs you. Do you stay in your seat, safely wedged in between a woman who won't shut up... Read More

"Falling Through Life Like Sky Through Rainbow"
You remember what it feels like. The moment of realization that made all the preceding moments of frustration worth it. It works, and now you know why. You now have the choice to stand on your own two feet and make your own decisions. The person holding your hand... Read More

"Motion"
Tell me one more time and I might believe it. I might, maybe, perhaps, except that I already know it's a lie. I've always known it was a lie, and until recently, I didn't care. Some part of me hoped that you'd stretch the truth so far, the truth itself would snap out of it. Belief is a... Read More

"A Weight the Wind Will Not Carry"
In the waning days of Autumn there's a bridge to nowhere that two will cross anyway. Falling leaves dance a last dance before hitting the ground, waiting for a wind to carry them back across. Hued skin embraces the White of Snow, and for an instant, hearts beat in... Read More