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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things I Did On Thanksgiving

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone and, as usual, I didn't do a whole lot. I haven't had dinner with the family since 2006 (which was the first time I had Thanksgiving dinner with the family since 1995). Hell, I didn't even have dinner this year. I don't know why, but such things don't bother me. I get berated for my blasé attitude a lot by many people, but I just don't change. Okay, maybe I change a little, as I did actually have plans this year, but my change is slow (unlike Obama's version of it... oh, wait a sec).

Anyway... what did I do this year?

I slept in until very late... like, a few hours after noon late. I did wake up to let the dogs out this morning, but other than that I stayed on the couch.

I argued with the person I had plans with, since xhe (a ha!) summarily canceled on me on the account of being depressed. I was supposed to go to her sister's for dinner and I'm fairly certain she told her sister that I pulled out, rather than what really happened. I even turned down two other Thanksgiving invitations in order to go, so I'm a tad annoyed about this.

The following happened on the 25th: I learned how to juggle three balls! Finally! Yes, I'm way too happy about this.

I played a video game called Plants vs. Zombies (really... but it's awesome... you should check it out) until I collected one of every plant for my Zen Garden (play the game to find out what that is... or Google it).

I had one cigarette and a limited amount of nicotine. And I had two pots of coffee (and broke a coffee cup, to boot).

I listened to every song on my Sprint phone at least three times. I love Sprint Music. I only download the free songs, but they tend to be really good and from obscure artists I would have otherwise never heard of.

I wrote this.

'Til next year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Battlestar Enterprise, Part III

Yep, it's back... primarily because I'm having trouble finding inspiration, but partially because the television movie, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan , is making waves among science fiction fandom. If initial reports are to be believed, the "movie" makes a disappointing show even worse. Ah, well...

Keep in mind as you read this that it was written as sort of an "angry response" to how the series declined in quality. It's all meant to be satire, as bad and vulgar as it is.


Battlestar Enterprise, Part I
Battlestar Enterprise, Part II


Part III originally posted on January 12, 2009

***

"David, do you have a visual on the anomaly?" James Adama's voice was unusually tense. He didn't mind unidentified contacts; he just hated anomalies. They were always so anomalous.

The signal broke squelch and David's voice piped through the speaker. "Yes, dad."

"What is it?" And it's Admiral, asshole. Or sir, at the very least.

"Not too sure. It appears to be a tight plot, well-written characters, and..."

The signal went dead. James turned to his communications officer, Duhura.

"What happened?"

Duhura swiveled in her chair, showing off her smooth, mocha-hued legs. Adama had to force himself not to kneel to get a better look up Duhura's combat fatigue-patterned miniskirt.

"I'm not sure, Admiral, but it appears that a scientifically accurate overriding signal is interrupting our story."

James was confused. This made no sense... no sense at all. Someone had actually called him "Admiral."

"Spock, what do you make of this?" he asked, not entirely expecting a coherent answer.

"Tight plot? Well-written characters? Such a logical thing to strive for," Spock started. "Anomalous, indeed."

***

Montgomery Tyrol stared out the porthole with his binoculars, scanning space in a futile attempt to try to see the anomaly. He always worried when She-Boomer went out on patrols, particularly with that moron, David Adama. Sure, David was the old man's son, but that apple fell so far from the tree that had Eve found it, she would have finished it before ever making it back to Adam, and mankind (well, men at least) would still be living in paradise.

Tyrol was the ship's chief engineer, damage control officer, AIMD chief, command master chief, and ship's laundryman, but he always felt as though he was kept outside the loop. For whatever reason, it was always hard for him to come by information. On the other hand, it was very easy for him to come by doughnuts, and his rapidly expanding waistline served as a constant reminder of this ability.

"Chief?" a sad, quiet little voice asked behind him.

Tyrol turned and found his shadow, Cally. He found her superbly annoying, but she gave good head, and when She-Boomer was out on patrols, well... he had to do something about his sex addiction. It was like he was some sort of machine, or robot. But, never mind, these are foreshadows that are coming way too early. Wouldn't want to give any well-placed hints too early in a story now, would we?

"What is it, Cally?"

"Do you see anything?"

He watched as her chubby pouty face seemed to get more chubby and pouty. It almost made him sick.

"Other than a couple-hundred lonely ships filled with the survivors of a devastating attack on their homeworlds?"

"Oh?" Cally's face lit up with excitement.

Tyrol rolled his eyes. "That's us, you idiot."

Chubby pout returned, Cally sniffled and looked as though she was about to cry.

"Oh, no, don't. I'm sorry." Tyrol grabbed her in a mock hug, pressing her head lightly against his chest. Still, his gaze never left the porthole, though a smile did creep its way across his face. Slowly, subtly, he pressed Cally's head lower, to his stomach, then still lower, and lower.

***

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Mighty Wind

Wind of change, unwanted
With her gale in the wrong direction
Wildflowers, once gently caressed
Wilt away slowly in her soiled hand
Were they not content
Where she found them?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Introducing the AFC West-Leading Chargers

In the absence of my beloved DirecTV NFL package, I was forced to listen to the Chargers-Broncos game on my Sprint phone (thank Buddha for NFL Mobile!). So, in other words: I didn't get to see the Chargers take first place in the AFC West from the evil Denver team, but I did get to hear it. And, I must admit, I rather like radio play-by-play. I like it even better when the Chargers win by a score of 32 to 3.

Oh, yeah... 32 to 3. Hey, Broncos fans! You suck!

I actually expected this game to be a bit closer than it was, given that the Broncos defeated the Chargers earlier in the year, but it was pretty much a one-sided affair from the opening kickoff to the closing second. So, with this victory, the Chargers (who were 2-3 after the last time they played the Broncos) kicked the Broncos (who were 6-0 after the last time they played the Chargers) out of the top spot. Result: Chargers in 1st at 7-3; Broncos in 2nd at 6-4. The other two teams in the division are so far behind, there's no point in mentioning their respective records.

Game Notes

After scoring a field goal in the 3rd quarter to close the gap from 13-0 to 13-3, the Denver Broncos attempted an ill-advised onside kick... recovered by the Chargers (Legedu Naanee). A few plays later, LaDainian Tomlinson ran in a touchdown to make the score 20-3. Nice one, Coach McDaniels.

The two Chargers fullbacks both rushed for over 45 yards with more than 6.5 yards per carry (Jacob Hester: 7 attempts for 46 yards; 6.6 yards per carry - and Mike Tolbert: 7 attempts for 58 yards; 8.3 yards per carry). Tolbert even added a rushing touchdown. And to think... they were going to cut Tolbert before the season started.

Antonio Cromartie added an interception, his third of the year.

Steve Gregory recovered two fumbles (one each forced by Sean Phillips and Jacques Cesaire). It was the first time a Charger had recovered two fumbles in one game in a very, very long time.

Kevin Burnett had two sacks, and Eric Weddle had one.

Some bad news: Nate Kaeding, despite having an otherwise excellent game (four field goals) had an extra point blocked. Whoops!

I love blowouts.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Men and Trees

Talbot was a huge college basketball fan, having attended USC when George Raveling was the coach there. Because of Raveling, Talbot referred to his men on the ground as "The Football Team." They were the doers, the go-getters, the men who would do what they were told when they were told whether they liked it or not. Nothing happened without the Football Team, Talbot knew, and he meant no disrespect by it.

Still, everything started with the men and women who sat in cubicles in front of computer screens with statistics, analysis, and spreadsheets galore spread out on their desks. They were a messy bunch, the ones Talbot referred to as "The Basketball Team," and it reminded of Talbot's days as an engineering assistant way back in the day. Engineers, by their very nature, are only organized in their minds. In practice, however, they're complete slobs... important schematics on the floor, usually marked with a ring of coffee that spilled over from never-washed coffee cups. And the Basketball Team was no different. But it was their understanding of administration, history, strategy, and their ability to interpret gathered intelligence - and interpret it well - that always got the ball rolling.

Like many on the Basketball Team, Talbot was jealous of the physical prowess of his football players, but here in his air conditioned office - thousands of miles away from where his quarterbacks, linebackers, offensive line and free safeties places themselves in lines of danger - Talbot wouldn't have it any other way. He ran things, after all, and though the glory went to those who scored the touchdowns, his pay scale and the fact he saw his family almost every night kept his envy in check.

"Someone give me a weather report," Talbot ordered.

"Hot," an analyst replied. The room echoed subdued laughter. Talbot held back a smile, though the joke was expected. Things were too serious at the moment and, though he did want to laugh, this was no time for humor.

"You the weather man, Adams?" Talbot scolded, his quiet-angry expression on his face. It was a false expression, to be sure, but his basketball players knew Talbot well enough by now to know that everyone should be concentrated on business. They can save the comedic relief for later.

"No, sir."

Harding, who was the weather man, despite her gender, spoke up. "Temperature is 92 degrees Fahrenheit at the moment, but will drop to about 45 degrees tonight. Monsoon season is having a minimal effect on the operational area and humidity remains low."

Talbot frowned. The temperature extremes would not normally be a problem, but it meant that his football players had to pack both hot and cold-weather clothing, which means they were carrying more weight than they would have liked. And those boys still had an awful lot of ground to cover.

"How far did they get in the last 24?"

"35 kilometers," Adams responded, knowing he hadn't really been scolded. If anything, Talbot hated to make his team members, basketball, football, or otherwise, feel negative emotions during an operation. The operations had tendencies to do that on their own. Especially this one. Dawson, one of the football players - his quarterback, in fact - had called it a suicide mission, and Talbot had secretly agreed with him. But the orders came from way up the food chain, and no one could do anything about it. There were American spies who needed to be extracted very quickly. Washington was in a race with Beijing, and the information those spies had gathered deemed everyone else expendable... especially the football team.

***

Dawson strapped himself into the MH-60 as the crew chief slid the door closed. Not having a chance to earlier, he took a better look at the two operatives his team had picked up. A man and woman posing as a married couple, both spoke fluent Cantonese and Mandarin, was well as their native languages. The man was of Korean descent - Dawson could tell by the lighter skin tone and the shape of the head - and the woman was Taiwanese-Japanese, on loan from Taipei's secret service. Dawson picked up on her Japanese immediately, but only a note from the intelligence report let him know that she was Taiwanese and not mainland Chinese. He knew that neither operative could tell him what they had discovered, but he hoped that it was worth it.

The extraction had gone well... on time, on location, and completely according to plan. It was the getting there that had been a problem. A persistent Chinese patrol had run into the football team last night, just after dusk, and the ensuing firefight lit up the sky and seemingly extended the day for another 87 minutes. Dawson turned around, glancing at the lifeless bodies of his two linebackers and his guard. He would write three letters when they reached their debriefing destination - Camp Zama, Japan, by way of Inchon, South Korea - but he knew that those letters would never be read. Some office geek... some basketball player... would write the letters that would actually be delivered to the families. Letters from someone who didn't even know those men, ostensibly from a conventional unit that those men had never belonged to.

Dawson sighed, exhausted from the ordeal. One day, he'd have to put in his transfer to basketball.

***

"When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team." - George Raveling

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better Than Never

*a sequel to Coldscapes

He hates seduction. Despises it, in fact. It always makes him feel dirty. But, someone somewhere sometime, as the old saying goes, decided that he was too attractive not to be assigned to details that somehow always involve women. He loves his country, to be sure, but he is married to his college sweetheart, and the "national defense" excuse is wearing thin.

If all had gone according to plan, he would've been done with the human intelligence portion of the operation, having already mined the woman for information. She was a beautiful woman and, let him be honest, it had made things easier. Still, he thought he was done with the raven-haired, pale-skinned Russian whose parents were born in Lithuanian. But the team he had sent out missed their last two check-ins.

She's more than happy to see him lying next to her as she wakes up in the hotel room in Mytishchi, just outside of Moskva to the northeast. She's falling in love with her mysterious Canadian businessman. He had told her he was a salesman of precious metals, but she knew enough about the game to know that this was not the case. In fact, she was sure he was American, though his mastery of French - as well as the Montreal accent - made her doubt her conclusion. Still, she was rather inexperienced overall, and even though the FSB briefed her many times to not discuss work with strangers - particularly attractive ones - she couldn't help herself. He looks at her so longingly, though perhaps not lovingly, when she talks about work. He always seems impressed with her responsibilities as a mere secretary and would even joke that she was probably more than just.

"How did you get off of work today?" he asks, gently rubbing her shoulders.

She rolls over to face him, giving him a lustful look. "My boss had to leave yesterday, so I have nothing to do."

He returns the gaze and leans in for a kiss. "Ah, the always pleasant supervisor emergencies." The irony is not lost on him.

She kisses him back. "Yes."

He withholds a sigh. He doesn't have time for this. Every second that goes by is another second closer to failure, and that was no option. Despite himself, or possibly in spite of himself, he rolls himself on top of her and does the very thing he had been trained effectively at doing.

By the time they were done, he knew where he needed to be.

***

Sporadic gunfire hides the sound of snowmobile as he races it through the Russian forest. He can tell that most of the weapons are of Soviet make, but there's at least one American-made carbine spitting bullets among the din.

Only one? If that's the case, then there might not be anybody to extract by the time he joins the fray. Were he to follow protocol, he would be heading to the exfiltration point and waiting a short period of time. If nobody shows, then he would leave and that would be the end of that. Protocol most certainly does not provide for him to drive towards the sounds of battle. But these were his boys; he sent them here. To this cold, miserable place.

As he gets closer he realizes for certain that, yes, there is only one American here. He has no idea if the rest are simply elsewhere, but instinct tells him that they're probably all dead. A fire-team of Russian soldiers finally notices the snowmobile and they turn to engage him. He smiles as he squeezes the trigger on his HK. Too late... for them. Before anyone else can bring their weapons to bear on the vehicle, he ditches it and flings himself into the snow. If he had gauged their positions correctly, he and the surviving American should be to the Russians' flanks. If one could refer to single shooters as flankers, that is.

Still, it's enough. As the last Russian goes down, yelling something in Nogai, everything goes ghostly quiet. There's the faint echo of a snowmobile idling somewhere, but he doesn't bother to locate it. Instead, he turns his attention to the American. He notices that the scope is missing off the American's carbine, then notices that the soldier is limping.

"Where are the others?" he calls out.

"Dead. I'm it." The soldier nods towards the snowmobile in the distance. "Is that our ride?"

"Yep."

"You're late."

He laughs, tired. "Yeah, well..."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Really Strange Dream

A while back (November 1st or so) I had this really, really weird dream. Like, really weird. It was one of those dreams that feels like it's been dreamed before... and, who knows? Maybe it was. I asked a friend to look up some of the "symbols" in the dream to see what some think they dream might mean, but it was all very confusing.

So, what was the dream?

I was traveling across the country, from the East Coast to the West Coast (probably to California),  when I arrived at an abandoned restaurant somewhere in Tornado Alley (Kansas comes to mind, but I can't be sure... maybe Oklahoma; maybe Nebraska). Somehow I encounted a bunch of "friends" of mine (friends is in quotes because, unlike most of my other dreams, I don't actually know any of the people in this one) and decided to reopen the restaurant. This part of the dream is a little hazy, but I remember scolding one of the waitresses (apparently I was the floor manager and the host) for taking an order from a table without turning in a previous order to the kitchen. It should be noted that the waitress couldn't have been more than 12 years old.

Aside from that, the Grand Opening was going well, but for some reason I went outside (I think to find a chef or something) and saw a really tall silo-like building that was apparently the subject of some town controversy.

There was a tall ladder up the left side. The silo itself reminded me of a really, really tall log cabin. The bottom of it disappeared into a "shell" of a pine tree - imagine a pine tree teepee. What the silo contained was rather surprising... it was a very elaborate waterslide. The townsfolk, for whatever reason, wanted to close it down and there was some "lifeguard" assigned by the city. His job seemed to be to watch for violations so the slide could shut be down. Anyway, I climbed to the top and some guy up there was complaining about how people like to write wishlists and shopping lists on the waterslide walls (I guess someone used purple lipstick or something once, which left the dude complaining covered in purple stuff).

The very top of the waterslide portion was a corkscrew, which it appeared to be all the way down. I took off my pants (I heard someone yell that in order to get back into the restaurant, you had to have "three sets of underwear, a pack of cigarettes, and a beer" - like, what???) and went in. I thought it was going to be fast and furious, so I was a little disconcerted when I wound up almost having to push myself down the slide. The watersprays in the slide came from jury-rigged garden hoses. About 1/3rd of the way down, the corkscrew stopped at a hole in the floor, which revealed a straight drop (in the dark) the rest of the way down. Somehow there was enough light to see hand holds, which I used to climb down to the bottom.

Once I got to the bottom, I realized that my pants (and shirt, apparently) were still at the top. I was going to yell for someone up top to throw them down, but everyone was disappearing. So, I went up the ladder again... only this time, the ladder was cut in half and was actually two ladders joined together.

As I got to the top, the entry way was blocked by a black and red snake. I looked around and saw several more snakes. I couldn't get my clothes. I think I was going to give up and climb back down, but then I heard a cat meow. The black and red snake had a little orange-ish kitten trapped in a constrictor grip. I tried to help it, but when I yelled down to find out what kind of snake it might be, I saw its rattle (which is really when I saw the other snakes... there was some confusion as to which snake the rattle belonged to). Then, while I was mulling over grabbing and pulling on the cat (who seemed to be sleeping, as was the snake, in some weird lovers pose), the bottom of the ladder started spreading wider and wider, and I struggled to keep the top of the ladder together.

That's all I can remember. I have no idea if I fell or not.

What the Hell does that mean?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Symphony

There's a song between breaths
Lyrics, subtle
from respiratory winds
heard only with dying thoughts
and remembered with fading dreams
Truth escaped your breath
Words, false
from lying winds
believed only with loving hearts
and held with longing embrace
An orchestra tires of the song
and the less I've said, the less I'm wrong

Monday, November 16, 2009

Organized Musings Revisited

A while back I wrote some "organized random musings," and since I've nothing better to muse about, well, I'm doing it again.

Television

I've previously mentioned that Jay Leno will kill NBC. Sure, so did many other people, but since I said it irrespective of them, I'm going to go ahead and claim that I was right.

AMC's remake of The Prisoner is, so far, quite a bit better than their absolutely crap remake of The Andromeda Strain.

Speaking of Leno... thanks for killing Southland prematurely. Here's hoping TNT (who picked it up) does the show some justice.

Sports

The Chargers are now tied for first in the AFC West after a bad start... they had to catch up to the Broncos (who had a great start), who they play next week. Go Bolts! And congrats to LaDainian Tomlinson for passing for passing Marcus Allen on the all-time touchdown list (Tomlinson is now in 3rd on that list) and Franco Harris on the all-time rushing yardage list.

Nice, Bill Belichick. Your supreme arrogance caused you to go for it on 4th down and 2 yards to go... against a streaking Colts team. You were winning 34 to 28 with two minutes left in the game. And you lost. I laugh in your general direction.

Speaking of LaDainian Tomlinson... New York Giants fans seem to take offense that Tomlinson is called "LT," which, as we all know, is the moniker of Giants great Lawrence Taylor. I don't really see what the big deal is, but I guess I tend to agree. Why not use "LDT" for Tomlinson?

Music

Tulsa's song, "Mass," is one of the best rock n' roll songs of all time.

Some recommendations for you adult rockers: Tea Leaf Green, Carlon (whose song, "Cantaloupe," is fucking phenomenal), Bert Susanka, and Au Revoir Simone.

Dance/techno/trance/whatever listeners: Radioactive Sandwich kicks ass. Magnum .38 isn't too bad, either.

Animals

If you have a dog that won't stop digging holes in your yard, fill the holes with his shit. He'll stop, trust me.

Conclusion

That's all I got... I'm sleepy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tabula Rasa

a blank page
like blank mind
instinct formed between the covers
before life passes by invented symbols
the story turns
a new chapter
and memories that do not fade
perhaps rewritten
or simply edited
by authors who deigned to choose their fates
it is endings that are published
on slates above heads
whose words stand in eternity
until The End
there are words to change
and characters with new beginnings

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Phone Withdrawals

Oh, shit. The phone is gone. How is anybody going to get a hold of me? Where did I put it? I was on it this morning... or was that last night? I can't go to work without my phone... all of my damned music is on that thing and I haven't had a Walkman or a discman for years. MP3 player? Yeah, right... what century is this? No, I don't have an iPod. I don't have an iAnything... too much money for not enough quality. Then again, anyone believes commercials these days. I suppose I better get a hold of what's-her-name. I can't even remember her name! She just shows up as "hot girl" on my contact list! I'm so screwed, my whole life is falling apart.

What about my email? Why, oh, why did I get rid of my computers? Blackberry lied to me! I never lost my desktop, even though all my "hip" and "cool" friends made fun of me for having it. I need my email! Worse, I pay my bills on my phone. I suppose I could just opt in for paper bills again... nope, can't do that... I need the Internet to turn on the option, but my web browser is my phone! Maybe I can call customer service... oh, snap. Never mind.

I suppose I'll just watch TV. Wait, can I? Wasn't my phone my remote control?

No, there's my remote. Good thing there's not an app for that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

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 together and shot off the names of people we knew, where we knew them from, and everywhere we had deployed to. A mutual friend of ours came up... a Staff Sergeant Fussell (pardon me if I misspelled that... it's been a while). Somehow, between our trips down memory lane and our propensity to talk alot (well, mine... Glen tended to be a tad laconic unless he had a beer in his hand), we discerned that we had indeed met before in a Burger King at Fort Irwin, California, during a rotation at the National Training Center in 1997.

Of course, memories being unreliable by nature, we never confirmed it happened, but in becoming friends over the early part of 2001, we just sort of bought into our own theory and claimed it as the truth.

Glen was, and this is no exaggeration, a typical "jolly giant." He wasn't altogether tall, but he had what some could call a weight problem. The Army, you see, shuns upon weight, but usually grants exceptions to those soldiers who are worth keeping in. And, well, Glen was worth keeping in.

He had been in mechanized units prior to his arrival in Korea, and as 2001 seemed to be a year in which the Army mysteriously decided to transfer a bunch of light soldiers to the Asian peninsula, Glen's expertise was far more valuable than it would have even normally been. He knew his shit, regardless, but with the plethora of light fighters (many of whom, like myself, had never even been in an Armored Personnel Carrier), his knowledge of what needed to get done and how it needed to get done trumped the best of us.

I can't say we hung out often, though we did have plenty of talks, usually in his barracks room or behind the motor pool. And, despite what I mentioned above, I never really saw him drink all that much. He was usually in his room waiting for his wife to call, or waiting for the time difference between South Korea and wherever she was living to provide a window for him to call her. Glen Stivison (we called him Stivy) didn't give a shit about much of anything... as long as nothing interfered with his spousal phone calls.

He was a calm man, and entirely genuine. He always knew when bullshit was bullshit, and knew enough to know that most confrontations with idiots and assholes led nowhere. Come to think of it, that was probably why he didn't talk a whole lot at work, save to jump in on a joke or to calm somebody down.

I lost touch with him when I left Korea just before Christmas of 2001. Still, given my nature and the fact that he was one of the few people in Korea that I actually liked, I often attempted to track him down. MySpace finally reunited us just over a year ago... right before a deployment. I'm not certain if that deployment is the same one that took his life, but it bothers me just the same.

The Army lost a good man this past October, and a family lost a good patriarch.

Love you, brother.

Friday, November 6, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews VIII

A Bug's Life (1998) - No, I've never seen A Bug's Life until now (although I did see its Dreamworks competitor, Antz). Yes, it was a great oversight on my part. The only Pixar feature film I've missed, I am now at peace with myself now that I've watched it. Pixar's early magic holds up well... what else is there to say? Verdict: SEE it. Of course, you've already seen it, so the verdict is futile.

Moon (2009) - Want excellent science fiction? No? Well, want an excellent movie subdued in its aspirations, subtle in its presentation, and overachieving as a result? Then watch this film. Sam Rockwell is fantastic as pretty much the only (human) character in this independent film, and Kevin Spacey does a wonderful job of evoking HAL and avoiding HAL at the same time. Superb. To give anything away would be sacrilege. Verdict: SEE it.

Ong-Bak (2003) - So, Muay Thai fighters have been feeling left out of the wave of martial arts movies, eh? Well, if this is the best they can do, it's their own fault. The lead actor is a phenomenal martial artist, yes, but the rest of the film is derivative boredom. We have a director who not only thinks he's the next John Woo, he copies John Woo verbatim. We have yet another script from the meat-grinder that is martial arts movie scripts. Nothing exciting here. Verdict: SKIP it.

Paranormal Activity (2007) - This is the film that, like its Blair Witch predecessor, garnered alot of under-the-radar buzz and took advantage of an extremely creative marketing campaign. Also like The Blair Witch Project, this film has many good moments, using its documentary style to full effect. However, don't believe the hype... it's not that scary, and the theatrical ending does the movie no justice (find the original ending for a better conclusion to the story). Still, a budget of $11k? Kudos to the filmmakers. Verdict: SEE it, but don't expect too much.

A Perfect Getaway (2009) - Who says Steve Zahn isn't creepy? Who says Milla Jovovich isn't in any good movies? Yeah, this movie is a pleasant surprise. As with most movies of this type, the twist is all too contrived, but it does work (unlike most movies of this type). Timothy Olyphant plays one of the best characters of his career. Follow newlyweds through their jaunt through the Hawaiian wilderness while they try to figure out which pair of lovers is killing everyone else. Verdict: SEE it.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - I missed this one in theaters, and do I feel stupid. Danny Boyle hits a grand slam with this unusual tale of love. There are no names in this film (unless you happen to follow Bollywood, which I don't usually follow), and everything about Slumdog Millionaire is a breath of fresh air. Rags to riches, indeed. I probably don't have to say too much about this, since everyone with a brain has certainly already seen it. Verdict: SEE it. Oh, yes... SEE it.

The Spirit (2008) - A comic book adaptation from that uber-great of comic-dom, Frank Miller. Taking one of his childhood favorites, The Spirit (created by the uber-uber-great Will Eisner), and copying the revolutionary technique that director Robert Rodriguez gave us with Sin City, Miller gives us complete and utter crap. Yet another garbage movie I couldn't be bothered to finish. Even the beautiful Eva Mendes couldn't save this one (then again, she couldn't save Ghost Rider, so what was I expecting?). Verdict: SKIP it.

Surrogates (2009) - A graphic novel adaptation starring Bruce Willis as an FBI agent living in a world in which people only go out in public as robot fascimiles of themselves. Crime, disease, and all the other bad shit humans do to each other apparently disappears as a result of these robot puppets, but so does everything that makes us human. A great concept that suffers due to the film's failure to do anything but scratch the surface of all the wonderful questions such a concept asks. Not bad, but not overly good, either. Still, it was entertaining. Verdict: SEE it. Or SKIP it. Not really going to push this one either way.

Up (2009) - Pixar's latest entry in the world of computer animated cinema. And, boy, is it brilliant. I'm hesitant to claim that it's better than Wall*E, but it's damn close. Funny, sad, hysterical, and depressing, Up is populated by likeable curmudgeons, talking dogs, insane exotic birds, and a fat oriental kid. If that don't make a good movie, who knows what does? Verdict: SEE it. And SEE it again.

Zombieland (2009) - A zombie farce about a nerdy kid, a crazy zombie killer hell-bent on finding a Twinkie (Woody Harrelson), and two sisters out for themselves. Consistently funny, which is a bit of a disappointment because the set up lends itself to gut-busting laughs, of which there were fewer than expected. Still, it's an enjoyable movie and definitely a must for zombie and comedy fans. And Bill Murray's cameo is brilliant. Verdict: SEE it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yellow Butterflies

She was old enough to know, but young enough to disappear within her imagination. Her kingdom of calla lilies had to be tended to, after all, regardless of what tragedies took place in the deceptively dull realm of the real world. Ruling alone was an awfully gigantic task, and there were no princes of worth nearby. Some were too ugly; some were too smelly; most were too stupid... and they all had cooties. She had a quest to begin soon, anyway. A journey her uncle told her that could take the rest of her life. There were no worries, however, for she didn't think she'd be away from her calla lilies for too long.

The quest was, perhaps, the kindest thing her uncle had ever given to her. The little girl refused to come to terms with her father's death. Car accidents and heart attacks didn't exist among the callaliliputians (a term her father had coined), so why should they exist for her father? An artist by trade, her uncle had recognized the girl's defense mechanism, and instead of following the suit of modern advice and making her confront the cold facts, he simply played along.

"But where did daddy go?" she asked, frowning, though she wasn't entirely convinced a frown was called for. She was simply imitating the expressions of the adults that were present.

Her uncle sighed, tired from reluctant and public tears, but turned to her with a big smile. "He moved, princess. He went to a different kingdom to rule."

Her eyes widened as big as the muffins she had stolen the week before (but told no one about, not even her sister). "Does he have a castle?" She seemed excited.

"Oh, yes," her uncle replied, "but it's a castle in the sky."

The girl frowned again, but this time with purpose. "How do I get there to see him?"

Her uncle picked her up and propped him on her lap. "Well, it's a very, very hard journey. One such a little girl might not be able to make. It might even take forever."

She crossed her arms, keeping the frown intact. "I'm not that little. I can make it."

"All right, then. First, you have to go to the gardens of stone and find the one with your daddy's name on it. That's his street sign. Understand?"

She nodded.

"Second," he continued, "you have to follow the yellow butterflies. One will lead you to another, and then another. Sometimes the butterflies will disappear and you'll have to look around for a hidden clue."

"Like when the Easter Bunny hides her eggs?" she interrupted.

"Yes, exactly like that." A telephone rang from the next room and her uncle set her down. As he got up to answer, he reminded her, "Follow the yellow butterflies."

"To the castle in the sky!" she exclaimed with a giggle, her frowns now an unimportant memory.

***

It was the tenth anniversary of her father's death, and she was weary of visiting him. Her life was about to take her to the far reaches of the world, and a hint of regret threatened to stain her aspirations before they had a chance to shine.

Remembering a childhood emotion, she glanced around for something, struggling to hold back her tears.

"Please," she said aloud, to no one in particular, "let me know that it's okay to leave you."

Not really expecting an answer, she parked her car and began the short walk to her father's gravesite. It was a beautiful spring day and there was still some moisture in the soil from a gentle rain two days prior. The birds were calling and the sun was warm. Only her mood darkened the beautiful and peaceful landscape.

As she approached the headstone, her eyes grew as large as those muffins she once stole. She fell to her knees and began to cry. Upon her father's marker, basking in the sun and flapping its wings to a song that no one could hear... a yellow butterfly.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks she looked up to the sky, imagining a cloud in the shape of a castle.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coldscapes

It's so cold my breath isn't just visible, it sticks to my face. I don't know how far I have to run, just that I have to run. Sensation left my feet long ago. Muscle memory is the only thing keeping my body moving. I'd have dropped my gun miles ago, save my hands being frozen in position. Someone told me to take care not to touch the bare metal of it. Can't remember who that was. He's probably dead now anyway.

---

She smiles at the driver of the two-wheel drive Chevy pickup as he concentrates on the road. Not twenty minutes ago she had sworn to herself that they were never going to make it home. This is her first blizzard, after all. Snow is, so far, a rarity in her life, and she loves it. She also fears it for the very same reason. But he, well, he's tired of it. Hell, he got his driver's license in a foot of snow. He never lets her forget that he prefers warmer climates.

---

There's the report of gunfire. Russian firearms; probably Soviet-era. I try to refrain from saying "Kalishnikov" in my mind. The very term has irritated me ever since Hollywood found a way to turn it into a cliche. I fucking hate cliches. Then again, I hate getting shot even worse. Well, I think I do... I've yet to actually be hit by a bullet. I'd knock on wood, but I'm afraid my gloves will stick to the tree bark. They probably wouldn't, of course, but my knowledge of physics and the Russian Taiga are currently muted in favor of a desire to survive.

---

"Why are you turning the headlights off?" she asks, noticing that they are know cruising along in snowfall with nothing but parking lights on.

"Snow blind." The response is short, not because he is annoyed by the question, but because he knows they are approaching a steep decline. She crinkles her forehead and frowns. He knows she doesn't understand and she knows that he knows. He stifles a laugh, knowing that would just piss her off even more. And if she gets pissed, she'll lose her cool and let herself fear the snow again.

"Light bounces off the flakes. Everyone you see with their brights on is a tourist."

Her eyes brighten up as they usually do when she learns something new. Seeing a vehicle with its brights on heading the opposite direction, she sticks her tongue at it.

"Stupid tourists," she squeals with delight.

---

I'm moving as fast as a can, but the sound of snow and ice breaking under at least a squad's worth of boots is gaining on me. I'm not bred for this type of weather, and a large part of me starts to regret not being more vehement in my objections to being sent here. Crazy Ivan was supposed to be a thing of the past, anyway. Who was the fucking asshole who decided to send a team into northeast Russia? I could be running faster, but an old injury is making oft-broken bones in my feet throb in anti-ecstasy. The adrenaline's worn off. I can't win a flight, and there are too many behind me to even think of a fight. Then again, surrender's not an option.

---

I'm awake, but the dream of her is guiding me. I can feel the lactic acid in my body as I remember how warm she was. The image of a round from my carbine entering just under a pursuer's cheekbone is obscured by the memory of my mouth tasting her neck. There are shouts in Russian and, I think, Nogai. In any other circumstance I'd crack the typical joke about boys being far from home, but I'm too busy shaking an almost frozen stuck magazine out of my weapon and fumbling to slap in another. That, and I'm remembering the way she used to kiss my back... her lips carressing my shoulders while erect nipples slide gracefully above my pelvis. Such arousal should probably give me chills, but I'm already frozen, in time as well as place.

I pull the scope off the carbine; the winter cold and the violence of motion already cracked one of the lenses. As my left eye tries to focus through iron sights, all I can see is her. I let my finger freeze itself to the trigger and quietly wonder if I will ever see her again.

It's too cold here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One-Line Movie Reviews VII

Angels & Demons (2009) - The sequel to the almost excruciatingly boring The Da Vinci Code, this film once again has Tom Hanks running around trying to solve a Catholic mystery. While most who read me know that I think Dan Brown is an overrated hack of a writer, I do think that he creates very compelling plots. Angels & Demons, which also stars Ewan MacGregor and the always magnificent Stellan Skarsgard, is a much, much better movie than The Da Vinci Code. That stated, it appears that Ron Howard overcompensated for the too-long ending in the first movie and gave us an ending that was too short. Verdict: SEE it (why not?)

Death Race (2008) - Yet another glorious piece of cinematic dogshit from the glorious talent of directing ass Paul W.S. Anderson. Admittedly, this one isn't anywhere near as bad as most of his other absolute crap, but it's still not really worth the price of admission. Jason Statham and Tyrese Gibson are better than this (and so is Ian McShane). Verdict: SKIP it. Please SKIP it. Let's put Paul W.S. Anderson out of work.

Defiance (2008) - This movie, along with the surprisingly good Valkyrie, help mark the high point of World War II cinema since Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line (Clint Eastwood's brilliant Iwo Jima cycle aside). Liev Schreiber maintains his place as the king of supporting actors, and Daniel Craig is awesome. Defiance is the true story of a band of Jewish partisans fighting behind Russian lines, doing everything they can to survive and to take the fight to the Nazis. Awesome movie. Awesome. Verdict: SEE it.

Drag Me To Hell (2009) - Much-hyped as Sam Raimi's return to horror (he was responsible for the Evil Dead series, for those who don't know), this movie fell flat. Really, really, really flat. Little more than a bunch of cliches tied together, it did offer some creepy images (like the fly and the crazy woman) and a decent performance by Justin Long. Other than that... snore. Verdict: SKIP it.

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) - Pardon my French-Canadian, but: oh. my. motherfucking. god. One of the worst movies of the 21st century. Yet another film I couldn't be bothered to finish. Script: bad. Acting: bad. Design: bad. Directing: there was a director??? Verdict: SKIP SKIP SKIP, oh please, SKIP it.

Killshot (2008) - Elmore Leonard adaptations usually make for amazing films (Out of Sight, Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma), but not so in this case. Although very well-acted by a great cast (Thomas Jane, Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke), the pacing was painfully slow and the payoff was, well, not that much of a payoff. Yes, it's nice seeing Rourke back in the game and, yes, it was amusing to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt play a sociopath with hints of Keanu Reeves and Brad Pitt, but, no, you're not missing much by missing this movie. Verdict: No opinion.

Knowing (2009) - Seriously, can anyone tell me what the last good Nicholas Cage movie was? Because it's been a while. Knowing continues his streak of clunkers, and while a movie based upon the notion that tying in Genesis with aliens and numerical sequences might be cool, this movie most certainly wasn't. Verdict: SKIP it.

Public Enemies (2009) - I love Michael Mann films. Yes, even that one based on that cheesy TV show from the 80s. I think that Michael Mann is the best film director when it comes to crime thrillers. I'd say that Heat proved that (along with the underrated Thief), but any doubters must now shut up with Public Enemies. Christian Bale and Johnny Depp absolutely own their roles in this, and Johnny Depp (as John Dillinger) absolutely owns this movie. Sure, the story plays with facts a little too much, but if you're going to fuddle the truth, this is how you do it. Verdict: SEE it. And then go rent Heat, Thief, and Collateral.

Push (2009) - A comic-book-ish film about people with paranormal powers that are recruited, trained, and hunted by the governments of the world, this one had a concept worthy of its own franchise. Unfortunately, a crap script, a really bad job casting otherwise decent actors, and a director who never really seems to get what he needs out of his movies led to this being almost painfully underwhelming. Oh, and Dakota Fanning clearly can't act anymore. Verdict: SKIP it.

State of Play (2009) - You know, this movie rocked. Even Ben Affleck in it rocked. Russell Crowe usually rocks, so that's nothing new. And even though this is a fictional film, I would possibly compare it to All the President's Men were I in a more generous mood. But I'm not, so I won't (and I really wouldn't anyway), but State of Play is a damned good journalist thriller. Verdict: SEE it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Blinking Moon

The full moon stares at him. It seems larger than normal, its glow filling even his peripheral vision. He could be imagining things, fighting sleep as he is, lying on his back in the middle of some forgotten wood. Crickets vibrate their song in music halls among the trees, their melody a calming tune under a chilly breeze. This could be paradise, except that he is alone. He has no lover to steal an apple from a tree, not that there were any apple trees around. Just a beautiful moon and noisy crickets and sounds of a nearby river. Perhaps, in retrospect, that's why his back is wet. He knows it hadn't been raining and hadn't rained for some time, but his shirt bunches uncomfortably on his back the way wet clothes do. Is he on the riverbank? No, the sounds of water are too far away and he can't feel the bites of any mosquitoes. He can't feel or hear any bugs, save the crickets, for that matter. He is alone. Otherwise, this could be paradise.

***

It stares at the moon, so far away, with eyes of hate. If the moon were closer, it would knock it out of the sky. Pitch black was its domain, and light - the moon in particular - irritates it. Its prey had split up, irritating it further, and it chased the one with the stronger scent. Proud of itself, it prepares the body of the dead female for preservation, for it would not eat tonight. The Winter will be cold, it knows, for the wind had told it so. No water had fallen from the sky for many days and nights, but it knows that the wet was up there in the sky, just waiting. The wet would come down softly and brightly, which would infuriate it, but at least there would be something to drink through the frozen season. It licks its claws clean, tasting two different shades of blood. Had it struck the other? Memory is not its strongest suit, but one of the tastes clearly does not belong to the female. Dragging her back to its lair, it reminds itself that the hunt is not yet over.

***

He hadn't been alone, or so he is thinking. Wasn't she with him just a few hours ago? He closes his eyes, his gaze no longer transfixed on the moon that seemed to be watching over him. In its place he sees her smile, that special smile that somehow glowed in the dark. Yes, yes. She had definitely been with him. But where did she go? His mind is sluggish and he struggles to force it to remember what has happened since the Sun went down beyond the trees and the horizon. It was all planned out... the camping trip, the wine, the seduction... everything was going according to plan until she informed him that she was on her period. She had been embarrassed, but this was supposed to be their first time, and he wanted to go through with it anyway. Still, she hesitated, despite his aggressive advances and gentle embraces. He tried to blame it on her perfume, his lack of control. Yes, that was it. She was wearing too much perfume. The scent distracted him. Distracted him from protecting her.

***

Satisfied with the storage of the female's body, it heads back out into the woods, creeping more closely to the ground than it usually would do. It has lived long enough to know that the bright moon casts its shadow far enough to warn its prey of its approach. This is only one of the myriad of reasons that it hates the moon. Darkness is a comforting blanket to it, and the freedom that lack of light affords it is a drug that only primal instinct appreciates properly. With its nose to the ground, and then to the air, it decides to head to where the wet races the ground.

***

The moon is so giving, and yet asks nothing, only to watch as events below unfold in all their insignificant glory. He briefly considers a staring contest with it, wondering if the moon ever blinks. Laughing to himself, he shakes off his childish wonder and returns to listening to the crickets and the running water. But something isn't right... the water continues to rush, but where were the crickets? Reflexively, he turns his head to the side, hoping to spy some of the elusive insects, and sees nothing but the puddle of water he is lying in. More childish wonder as he ponders why the white moonlight makes the puddle appear red. This time, he laughs aloud, and decides to have that staring contest after all. He gazes intently, determined to prove once and for all that the moon does indeed blink. To his surprise, it does. The bright mirror of light replaced by a foul stench and two glowing, inhuman eyes. The celebration of victory that begins never finishes, as his Adam's apple is torn from his throat.

But at least he was not alone.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Tenth Daughter of Memory

As most are aware, it is generally accepted that there are nine Muses in Greek Myth. Sure, there are versions in which there are only three, versions with four, and versions with seven, but let's just work off that there were nine, okay?

Anyway, by the time the various authors of the stories and legends decided to settle on one version (if that's how it happened... I'm thinking there was some bloodshed involved... it was a religion, after all), there were nine. These nine muses were, as follows:

Calliope - Muse of Epic Poetry
Clio - Muse of History
Erato - Muse of Lyrical Poetry
Euterpe - Muse of Music
Melpomene - Muse of Tragedy
Polyhymnia - Muse of Choral Poetry
Terpischore - Muse of Dance
Thalia - Muse of Comedy
Urania - Muse of Astrology

These nine goddesses were the daughters of Zeus (of whom everyone should be familiar with) and Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory.

So, what does this have to with anything?

Well, it's how the name for a little blogging group I helped start came out: The Tenth Daughter of Memory.

What do we do there? We write blogs based on a common theme or topic that is picked by the "winner" of the previous theme or topic. It's fun, creates high-quality stuff, and affords bragging rights to the blogger that takes the most votes. More importantly, it helps inspire people who suffer from writer's block and (for those familiar with my rants) "lack of writer's mood."

Come try it out... if you're not afraid. There's a new topic up today.

Irreview, Book Review: The Story of Earth

I've been a science nerd for a long, long time.  Physics was probably my favorite science subject in high school (perhaps other than oce...