Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lost Rehash S6.10: The Package

Jin and Keamy I wasn’t expecting another amazing episode like last week’s “Ab Aeterno,” but I was hoping for something better than what we got.  However, the Kwon’s have never been up there on my list of favorites (okay, I like Jin well enough, but Sun just gets on my nerves and then she doesn’t and then she does again…), and sadly the episode lacked any major WOW moments.  But, it’s still better than no Lost, and there were a few things that made it enjoyable.

In the Flashsideways we discover that Jin and Sun are not married, which really wasn’t much of a surprise.  They have just arrived at LAX and were flagged by customs for carrying too much money without claiming it.  Neither can speak English and the money is kept by customs.  Jin is upset, because Sun’s father sent him to deliver $25k and a watch to lovely Mr. Keamy, and when Jin doesn’t show up, Keamy comes looking for him.  But before the cocky jerk arrives, Sun and Jin spend a night together, revealing that they are romantically involved, just not married and not with Mr. Paik’s approval.

Knock Knock, My name’s Keamy, gimme my money, blah blah blah.  No one understand anything that’s being said, so Keamy sends for his friend that speaks nine languages, Mikhail (the hardest man to kill on the Island).  Sun tells the man that she has money in a private account and will get it; Keamy says okay, but he takes Jin with him to the restaurant.  He ties Jin up and reveals that he was hired by Mr. Paik to kill him because he knew about his involvement with Sun.  Jin doesn’t understand and says “thank you,” to which Keamy looks surprised/sorry. 

Sun and JackSun discovers that her father closed her account and she has no money to give to Keamy.  Mikhail takes her back to the restaurant and they find the gunned down bodies on the floor.  Keamy’s still breathing and a freed Jin sneaks up behind Mikhail and puts a gun to his head.  The two struggle, shots are fired, and ultimately Jin shoots the Russian through the eye.  He turns and finds that Sun’s been shot.  She reveals that she’s pregnant and the FS ends.

On the Island things are a bit more interesting.  unLocke heads off to try and convince Sun to join him, and while he’s gone the camp gets attacked and Jin is kidnapped.  Sun runs away from unLocke, hits her head on a tree and passes out.  Ben finds her and brings her back to the beach, but she apparently can no longer speak English, though she can understand it.  unLocke arrives back at his camp to find everyone unconscious and Jin missing.  He recruits Sayid to go on a mission to Hydra Island to get Jin back.  unLocke sees the sonar pylon fences and Widmore comes out to meet him.  They converse and we see that Widmore knows something about Jacob and the MiB.  Widmore says they don’t have Jin and unLocke leaves.  He gets back to his camp and reveals that Sayid has stayed behind to find out what was being kept secret on the submarine.

StealthySayidAt the beach, Sun still can’t speak English.  Richard and Hurley arrive, with a plan, and announce that they’re all going to go to Hydra Island to destroy the plane.  This will keep unLocke on the Island.  Sun refuses to go, and says that she came to the Island to get Jin back, not to save the world.  She marches off and later on Jack shows up, carrying a backpack.  He gives her a notebook and asks if she can still write in English, and we see that she can.  They talk and she reveals that she didn’t go with unLocke because she didn’t trust him.  Jack asks if she trusts him and she nods yes.  He then promises her that if she’ll go to Hydra Island with them then he’ll help her find Jin and get them on the plane to get off the Island.

The episode ends with the “Package” being revealed.  Again, to no ones surprise, the package turned out to be Desmond Hume.  Widmore’s goons are dragging him off to somewhere, and while they’re pulling him from the sub, Sayid and Desmond see each other.  Desmond is drugged and confused.

Thoughts and Observations

  • It seems like Jack is stepping into the role of Jacob pretty easily.  His “bedside manner” is greatly improved.  He genuinely cares about people.  He extended his hand to Sun, just like Jacob did to so many others, and she took it.
  • The character of Charles Widmore is peculiar.  He tells Jin that he wants to stop unLocke from getting off the Island to protect the world.  If the MiB is freed, everyone else will cease to be.  This just seems strange, given that Widmore did send the freighter and many people died because of that.
  • Mmmm.  I hope Claire kills Kate.  John Locke gave her permission to, so I’m sure there’ll be a struggle, but I really doubt the crazy lady can kill the criminal lady.
  • Jin got to see his baby girl.  That was sweet.  But Sun and Jin still are separated, which is just getting old.
  • Sayid telling unLocke that he couldn’t feel anything—happiness, anger, etc.—was slightly disturbing.  Is Sayid beyond redemption now?  And unLocke hinting that that was a good thing “for what’s coming.”  Sheesh.
  • Next week’s “Happily Ever After” is a Desmond episode, I believe.  Should be another excellent one.

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.8

I have a strong feeling that this Canto will be edited out or combined with another one whenever I go back for revisions.  However, as it stands now, it’s written and it’s here.  Canto XXI, where we have an aside from the chronicler.  And if you wish to peruse through the previous cantos, click here or follow the “Oscambria” label.  And thanks for reading.


Perhaps I should take a moment to explain something,
My dear, dear, readers.
I have spent my entire life working on this tale,
Gathering information from historians and Oracles,
Traveling all across this great continent collecting stories,
Sometimes even journeying to the far corners of Orthe,
all so I could tell the most accurate tale of the Hero of the Living Worlds.

My life has been an adventure,
And my research has been trying,
But I believe that I am offering you the truest story there is.
I have searched through thousands of pages of parchment,
Reading through trivial events just for the briefest mention of the Hero
Or one of his contemporaries.
As it is, there was plenty of extraneous information, and I intend to be exhaustive.

My main purpose of this tale is threefold.
First, to put it into a collected written history,
That the legend will live on through the ages.
How sad it would be if this tale was forgotten,
Or if a child never knew the name of Oscambria.
This is my primary goal,
That the Tale of Oscambria will be remembered forever.

Secondly, and more realistically,
are my hopes of becoming filthy rich and well respected among my peers.
As I’ve stated, my life has been nothing but travels and research,
All funded by various lenders or sponsors.
Most of these require some substantial repayment,
And if my collection sells throughout Eura and the other Nations,
I should have no problems in reaping the financial reward for all my diligence.

Lastly, my goal comes from a part within me that cannot be denied,
Like a song that refuses to be silenced.
In my soul I’ve had this longing to write the story of the Hero,
As if the gods themselves require it of me.
Hopefully my life willn’t have been in vain and without purpose.
I feel like there is a need for this tale to be readily available,
And I hope you can see why by the end of the journey.

Now, enough of this aside. 
Let us turn our attention back to the main story,
To the quest of the Hero as he travels to Feoga in search of something still unknown.
He travels with Koesan and Mossossopia,
Through open fields and hardened roads,
A smile on his face and a swell of self-confidence in his spirit,
Still cursed and burdened, and the chance of true love working in his soul.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Good Thief, a Review

The Good Thief The Good Thief is a book different from my familiar genre of choice.  Written by Hannah Tinti, it tells the story of a twelve-year-old orphan boy named Ren.  He has no left hand.  He has no family.  He has only two friends at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage.  But he does have dreams.  He imagines the affectionate hug from a mother and the strong love from a father.  The only things he longs for are a family of his own and answers to why his hand is missing.

The boys at the orphanage live a terrifying life, knowing that if they’re never adopted then they’ll be sold (or “conscripted”) into the army.  Ren knows he’ll never be selected; who would want to take a boy without a hand?  But, to his surprise, a man named Benjamin Nab shows up one day and claims to be Ren’s long-lost brother.  Ren is taken in under Ben’s wing, and they set off down the rugged roads of 19th century America.

The young orphan is thrown suddenly into a world of con-artists and grave robbers, quite unlike anything he’s ever seen before.  And it doesn’t take long for Ren to question Ben’s so called kinship.

Hannah Tinti spins a fascinating adventure through New England in old-time America.  The characters, while somewhat clichés, are well developed, especially the protagonist Ren.  His simple way of thinking is sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, but always truthful.  The plot lacks any major sense of conflict and struggle, and instead seems to be a collection of several mini-conflicts (excepting Ren’s past).  The real beauty of The Good Thief, and definitely the best thing about the book, was the prose.  Tinti’s word choice was always spot on.  I could smell the fish towns as the travelers rode through.  I could see the body’s decaying as the graves were robbed.  She wrote wonderfully, and reading was always a pleasure.

As I mentioned, the only thing I could consider a problem for the book was that there really wasn’t a lot of major conflicts to present themselves.  No chief antagonist, if you will, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.  The somewhat clichéd characters could be a problem if you’re readily familiar with Dickens or Mark Twain, but for me this didn’t really bother me at all.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  When I break from the speculative fiction genre, this is the kind of book I enjoy reading.  It’s light and simple, but also filled with punches that easily rattle around the brain.  It’s refreshing to think naively as a twelve year old from time to time.

If you’re looking for a short, simple read, beautifully written prose, or another orphan adventure story, I can easily recommend Hanna Tinti’s The Good Thief.  And where the plot lacks, the prose more than picks up the slack.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekended, a Video Game Aside, and the Winner

Wow, what a weekend.  Drove down to Nashville and spent all day Saturday at the mall, scouting for things to bring and wear on our cruise.  Spent a little money, but got a ton of excellent deals.  Had fun spending the day with the wife, even if it was at the mall.  Normally when we go to the mall I bring a paperback with me and read (after I’ve finished my browsing).  This time, however, I forgot, so I walked around and pestered Keisha.  But we had a good time.

Sunday was a blur.  Praise band practice at 8:30, Sunday School breakfast at 9:15, special church lunch at 12:00, pastor’s special meeting at 12:40, attempted nap at 1:30, give up on nap at 2:30, PS3 until 3:25, homeless shelter worship service 3:45, choir and music practice at 5:30, church at 6:00, and Easter music practice at 7:00.  It was a constant moving, busy day.  I had the light off and was in bed before 10:00pm.  But even though yesterday was hectic and busy, I smile thinking back on it.  We’ve searched for a church to call home for many years now and we’re blessed to be involved at Macedonia.  We’ve been here for about eight months and we’ve met a lot of great people.  The preaching is solid and foundational.  I love my SS class.  We just got a new worship minister in January and our church has grown tremendously in worship.  All things considered, it’s great, and I’m okay to wear myself thin every once in a while.

I was playing Final Fantasy last week when I suddenly had a burning desire to shoot some undead space zombies.  I whipped out Dead Space, one of my favorite games (reviewed initially here), and have been playing it ever since.  I miss FF, but I just have a desire to play a FPS for now.  And even though I’ve already beat Dead Space before, I still really enjoy the game.  The story is still gripping; the gameplay is still fun; the mechanics are still awesome.  Also, this is the first time I’ve played it on my own PS3, so I’m getting to unlock all the trophies and stuff for my own system as opposed to William’s.

The autographed book contest ended yesterday.  So, to be completely random, I wrote down all the entrants names, cut out little pieces of paper, lay them down and shuffled them around and let them simmer for a while.  After an hour or so of basting I then picked up the entries and shuffled them around some more.  After a bit of humbleness from one of the entrants, the entries dropped from twelve to ten.  Sadly I received no funny email entries.  Ultimately, I cast the slips around like casting lots from the Bible, and the last slip to remain in my hands won.  That winner is…

Krista, from Life, or Something Like It…, who actually had a 30% chance of winning, and, in this case, the statistics proved true.

So, Krista, if you could email me your mailing address I’ll put the book to post soon.  You have 72 hours to respond or there'll be another drawing.  To everyone that entered, thank you.  You fought hard, but in the end, statistics kicked you upside the head.

I should have a book review up soon.  Take care.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday: The Confession

***Thanks, Bill, for helping me out with some of the Catholic terms and information.  Hope this is semi-accurate.***

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.”

“What brings you here, my son?”

“It’s the burning, father. I can’t get it out of my mind. I can smell their burnt flesh sizzling through the air. I can see their bodies mangled and torn. Piles and piles of the dead. Broken bones mixed with ash and soot. Their screams keep me up at night, and every time I close my eyes I swear I hear them whispering my name, asking me why I didn’t save them. They will not leave me alone, Father. Please, oh God, please forgive me.”

“Calm down, child. Relax. Now breathe and tell me what has you so upset.”

The priest heard the troubled man breathe in deeply. Through the wrought iron window he saw a young lad, perhaps thirty years in age. And though the booth was dark, he thought he saw a silvery reflection in the man’s eyes.

“I saw it all and I did nothing. Nothing! I could have saved them but I was too afraid to act. I just sat there and watched, fascinated and repulsed. All I had to do was get out from where I was hiding and open the door. That’s it. But I was scared; if I showed myself then they’d come for me and throw me in there with them. So I just lay there and tried to block it out.”

The priest let the man speak without interrupting, though he often wanted to. He’d learned that it was best to let the penitent speak first, to get everything out, before offering absolution. We’re to be swift to listen and slow to speak, Jessie, Padre Gabe had told him all those years ago. Otherwise we can ruin the act of confession by corrupting it with our own input. So he sat quietly and listened, occasionally jotting down a note or word that jumped out.

“A few minutes had passed when the screaming began. Men. Women. Children. Babies, even. A church full of chaos, of pleas and prayers for deliverance. They beat on the doors and windows, trying to escape, but they were all sealed and boarded up. I imagined the monsters that locked them in there prowling around, looking for me, and I sunk deeper into my hiding place. I know now that I was alone and could’ve… should’ve saved them. God provided a means for their salvation and I denied it to them all.”

His face collapsed into open palms and his body shook with silent sobs. Still Father Jessie kept his tongue, certain there was more to come.

“I fell asleep,” he began again, keeping his head down. His voice was soft and broken, and the priest leaned closer to the window to listen. “I saw smoke venting through the boards on the high windows and didn’t want to think about what was going on inside. So I slept. I woke up a few hours later, stiff and tense. The air smelled like a slaughter. Slaughter and… a rotisserie.” He laughed, a harsh guttural sound. “I crept from the shadows, knowing that as soon as I did I would be killed. But no one came.

“I don’t know why, but I went to the door and released the latches that held it in place. I felt compelled to at least see the results of my cowardice. I opened the door to the sanctuary and I saw hell. Scores of corpses, pressed upon one another, as if the dead were reaching up for God to rescue them. The entire village was dead before me, nearly four hundred people. Most were burned beyond recognition, thankfully. Putting a face to my nightmares would be even worse. But not all were blackened. Some appeared unscathed, just covered lightly with grime and filth of the ruined building.”

Father Jessie listened with morbid curiosity, his ear all but pressed against the dividing window, his pen scribbling faster.

“I walked around for only a few moments, but what happened next will haunt me until I die. The room came to life. Voices filled the air, all whispers, all hate-filled and accusatory. Why did you leave us? Why did you let us die? The voices of the dead all called out to me, bowling me down with their intensity. Behind me, the altar was smoking, and above the demons of hell were shrieking.

“I fled from the room, through the corpses and towards the vestibule. Standing in the entrance was a girl, her clothes singed and marred, but otherwise completely alive and whole. I stopped short. I didn’t recognize her, and I knew the entire village. She looked about ten years younger than me. She looked confused, like she’d just woken up from a trance or something. She stared into my eyes and then she turned and ran, sprinting faster than any man can.

“I chased after her, but she was already gone. I had nowhere to go; I had no one to go to. I just started walking, putting the dead community behind me. Every step of the way I could hear their whispers fading, but they’re back now and I cannot get rid of them. I saw the cathedral and I came here, looking for penance. I should have helped them, Father. I should’ve done something. Please please forgive me.”

He once again began sobbing. Father Jessie knew the confession was over. What else could he say? He didn’t need to consider the truthfulness in the man’s confession; it was obvious he was remorseful. He wondered briefly how he would act, but then abandoned the idea as absurd. Father Jessie took his glasses off and rubbed his tired eyes. There is nothing new under the sun, Padre Gabe had quoted, and God has forgiven all sins, past, present, and future. Jessie knew how Padre Gabe must have felt. There was nothing new under the sun, indeed.

After all, this was not the first time he had heard this confession. The similarities between them all were truly astonishing. Perhaps with a few more trials the serum would be ready for the legal market. He found the transmitter in his pocket and pressed the silent activation switch.

“Now now, child,” he began, his voice tender and compassionate. “Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun, thus, no sin is new to God. You must first forgive yourself for the voices to stop. As far as your soul is concerned, Nick, I absolve you of your sins in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The man looked up, with puzzled, tear-stained eyes. “How did you know—”

The door to the other side of the booth burst open. The penitent man did not even have time to yelp. The smell of the chloroform rag was sweet and thick in the small booth. Nick slumped forward into the arms of the assailant and Father Jessie nodded his approval.

Word Count: 1165

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Announcing the New and Improved Rememorandom

(Note: Facebook and Google Reader viewers will have to actually go to the blog to notice the changes.)

A few days ago Blogger unveiled its new tools; some enhanced and customizable templates, new layout capabilities, and a few other things.  You can read all about it here, if you’re so inclined.  I love Google, and I love playing with Google’s new things, so I had to try out Blogger’s (brought to you by Google, of course) new stuff.  The result?  I think it’s obvious.

I really like the monochromatic tones of the page, and I picked green because, well, it’s always been my favorite color.  The checkered background wasn’t my first choice, I wanted something with hatching or cross-hatching, but those designs were unavailable.  The more I look, though, the more I like the checkered pattern.  I really like the addition of a tab bar below my header.  I’ve wanted these for a while, and now I finally have them.  The gadget boxes look good to me, too.  I also redesigned a header, though I take no credit for the image, as it was found doing a Google Image search.  The most difficult choice was the font colors, but I think they turned out okay.

So for now, this is my revamped blog.  It looks much more professional (though this is by no means professional in any sense of the word) and mature (again with the fickle words).  I’m excited about the tab bar, and I’ve put together a few things for the current tabs.

imageNow, to change gears, I thought this was a pretty clever little utensil.  The titanium spork.  Take it with you camping.  Bring it to school or work and reuse it, over and over, without the hassle of actually carrying two separate pieces of silverware.  Mind blowing, I say.  What more could you ask for?  More info here.  The write up is actually pretty funny.

The cruise draws nearer.  Only around 45 days until we’re radiating pure happiness in the Eastern Caribbean.

Sofie got spayed yesterday, poor little thing.  We’ve had her for 3 or 4 weeks now, and her and Stella are getting along pretty good.  Plus, the house-breaking of the new dog is improving tremendously, though there are still mishaps to deal with.  But, having two dogs is fun, even if it’s occasionally annoying.

The autographed Pat Rothfuss book contest ends this Sunday.  Currently I have 12 entries from 7 different people, but no ones done the super easy way to earn 3 extra entries.  You know, the “send me an email explaining why you should win” entry.  I don’t need a long thesis-defense type explanation, a sentence would suffice, but if you went longer, that’d be fine, too.  You can make it up, telling me that you want the book for the dying orphan that lives down the road and this is his “Make a Wish” wish.  Or you can be honest.  Or you can bribe me.  Or you can threaten me.  Whatever.  The email is like Only the Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy’s contests, which ask the entrants for a snarky comment, only I’m not ‘necessarily’ looking for snark.  (Speaking of snark, I did have the best snark from the last contest, so I got 3 bonus entries for a future giveaway.)  Anyway, just thought I’d throw that out there.

For now, I move onto a blackened world, filled with the neon colors of drainage areas and the pea greens of contour lines.  I got another piece of dark flash fiction for tomorrow that I really like.

Oh, and if’n you wouldn’t mind, let me know if you have any problems with anything on the new layout of the blog.  I know if any of you are using IE6 (really?) then you might be in for an adventure. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.7

Canto XX, wherein we see a glimpse of what else is going on in Eura.  As always, you can catch up or re-read by following the “Oscambria” labels or by clicking here


While the Hero and his gang made their way westward,
Toward the faraway city of Feoga,
Back in Athins darkness was afoot.
In the Courte du Gods a meeting was taking place,
the kind of meeting that only ever happens in the dead hours of night,
And as such, it just so happened to be those hours
(sometime between II and III).

There were four of them in the Altar Room,
All garbed in the outfits of their Order.
The room was dim,
Lit only by the weak fires from the sconces.
“It is happening as we hoped it would,”
hissed the Oracle of Demtia,
her face hidden behind a bird-like mask.

The others nodded.
“As it happens here,
it also happens on Gastron,”
added the sooty Oracle of Rone,
his voice harsh,
his robe charred and blackened.
His eyes flashed orange in the light of the room.

“What about the child?” asked the Oracle of Lahk,
disguised as a regal Oracle of Lawes.
“His soul is as insatiable as his fathers.
His desires will be made known soon.”
The Oracle of Demtia cackled maniacally,
a twisted smile beneath the plumage of the mask. 
“Oh, yes.  I agree with the One of Rone.  The boy is eager to go.  Go go go!”

The fourth one coughed and they all turned and hesitantly looked at him,
The one who had yet to speak.
He was dressed entirely in black,
From his robes to his underclothes.
His cowl was down, revealing a corpse-like face,
Tattooed white and grey like a skull,
and covered with barely enough flesh to give shape.

He made them uncomfortable,
But he made everyone uncomfortable.
Such was the life of an Oracle of the Twins.
A bearer of the Death Curse, he was used to it by now.
“Then all is on schedule,” he said simply,
studying each Oracle intently,
holding their eyes until they nodded their agreement and looked away.

“Excellent.  Soon the war will come,
here and in the heavens,
and there will be nothing that can stop it.”
He held his scarred hand out,
The dagger already sliding across his open flesh and bringing blood,
dark crimson on the pale skin.
“Let us remember our roles and pray the gods will have their way.”

Each one took the blade and made the cut,
as they had every time before.
Once again they bound themselves by the blood-oath,
The sacred vow of service.
Nothing more was said as they separated,
Each leaving in a different direction
And out into the empty streets of Athins.

Lost Rehash S6.9: Ab Aeterno

I may be still floating on euphoria, but I thought last night’s episode was one of the best episodes since the Pilot.  Exceptional acting.  Great plot.  Beautiful scenes.  Some revelatory moments, and still more mystery.  All in all, an exceptional episode and one that I don’t think I’ll forget.Richard Alpert, a slave on the Black Rock There was so much happening during “Ab Aeterno” that I’m not sure where to start.  Richard Alpert has been around since Season 3, and since then he’s appeared to not age.  He’s been an advisor to the Island, to Jacob, for 137 years, and his wealth of knowledge is large, but so is his wealth of ignorance.  Jacob did not open up and reveal everything to him, but only gave him what he needed.

First, the simple, heart-moving plot of 1867.  Richard loved Isabella, and, when she got sick, he told her he would save her.  After accidentally killing the stubborn doctor, he rushed back home to find his wife dead and gone.  Richard was taken and sentenced to be hanged.  While in prison, a padre visits him and refuses to absolve him of his sins, saying he doesn’t have time to work off his penance.  He tells Richard that he is going to hell.  Before he is hanged, however, a man buys him to work as a slave and they board the Black Rock

On rough and choppy seas, the Black Rock is swept to the Island, where it crashes through the Statue Thing.  Richard awakens to find that he is alive, but soon the first mate comes to the slave quarters and begins stabbing men.  (At first I thought he had the “sickness,” but I guess not.)  Richard asks why and the man gives a reason, but is interrupted by a strange, clicking noise above deck.  People begin screaming and blood pours down through the cracks and ports.  The smoke monster busts through and takes the first mate, leaving Richard alive and alone.  The black smoke then studies Richard and leaves.

Richard receives immortality from JacobRichard can’t break free of his chains, despite his efforts.  His dead wife appears to him, telling him that they are in Hell and that the devil is after them.  The smoke noises appear, Isabella panics, Richard tells her to leave, she flees, she screams in terror, Richard passes out.  Later he’s awoken by the Man in Black, bearing freedom and water in exchange for some help.  He tells Richard that if he wants to see his wife again then he’ll need to kill the devil.  Stab him before he speaks.  Plunge the dagger into his heart.  Reluctantly, Richard agrees, and heads towards the Statue Foot.

He gets attacked by Jacob, who is yelling at him like he’s some sort of crazy man.  (I liked seeing Jacob like this.)  He disarms him, discovers why Richard is there, attempts to drown him to show the man that he is indeed alive, and then offers him a job.  In exchange for working for Jacob, Richard will live forever, since Jacob couldn’t bring back Isabella or forgive him of his sins.  Jacob then explains to Richard a bit of what’s going on, that the Man in Black is like the wine that’s stored in the bottle.  If it’s broken, then the wine will spread and cannot be contained.  The Island is the cork, keeping the wine in.  The newly devoted Richard goes back to the Man in Black and delivers a white rock, and the Man in Black gives Richard Isabella’s necklace, telling him that if he ever changes his mind to let him know.  Richard mourns as he buries his wife’s necklace.

Back in 2004, Richard has left the beach and heads to where he buried Isabella’s necklace.  Hurley follows and finds Richard yelling that he’s changed his mind.  Hurley says that Isabella sent him.  Richard is shocked.  Hurley then communicates to Richard for Isabella and they talk briefly.  The acting here is superb and believable.  Richard’s love was real.  Richard says that he wants to be with her again, and Isabella says that they are already together (kind of like Juliet telling Sawyer that it worked?).  Soon, she is gone, leaving Hurley one last message to deliver.  There’s something Richard has to do.  He has to stop the Man in Black or “we [will] all go to hell.”Jacob and Man in Black

Thoughts and Observations

  • I can’t stress enough how much I liked this episode.  Nestor Carbonell’s performance was amazing.
  • Did you catch that Magnus Hanso was the captain of the Black Rock?  This is Alvar Hanso’s great-grandfather, and Alvar, as we know, is the chief source of funding for DHARMA.  He was shown back in the “Orientation” film.
  • Funny how the writers play with the viewers.  Richard telling Jack that they were all dead and in hell.  Those writers…
  • I’m reminded of Job after this episode.  Satan wanted to tempt Job and prove that he was corruptible and fallible, that the man would curse God.  God said go on and try, just don’t kill him.  This reminds me of Jacob and the MiB’s relationship.  If the Man in Black believes that all men are corruptible and weak, then does that make him the devil?  And Jacob said he wants men to do for themselves, that he doesn’t want to step in.
  • I feel like there’s a lot more to discuss from this episode, but I cannot remember it all. 
  • Next week is titled “The Package.” 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Few Changes

Note: There may be a few changes happening around here over the next few days/minutes/hours/moments.  Blogger has some new features and I wanna play.  Bear with me...

More Food, or Why Dove Chocolate is Better than Me, You, and your friend Lucian

Image from: Say one thing for logankstewart, say he loves his Dove chocolate.  The smooth, succulent complexities of dark cacao and tantalizing peanut butter.  The wonderful explosion of delight from a simple, yet refined, bit of milk chocolate.  Each bite gives clarity to the addled senses, putting life’s impossible problems into the realm of not only possibility, but simplicity, for no problem is as great when Dove chocolate is available.  Moreover, unwrapping the delectable little treats gives insight to the soul.  Beneath the foil a promise waits, hand-crafted and unique, predestined for the unwrapper alone.  With the confidence of the uplifting and poignant Promise, and the sense of purpose from the tickled taste buds, nothing will ever stand in the way…

Wanna guess what I had for breakfast this morning?  It wasn’t oatmeal.  It wasn’t a sandwich either.  No, it wasn’t that!  Well, I’m not going to spell it out for you, but suffice it to say that it started with a D, did a backflip into an O, transmogrified into a V and split itself apart to reveal an E.  Mmmmmmm.

As a boy, I did not like Sloppy Joes.  As a young man, I did not like Sloppy Joes.  As a teenager, I did not like Sloppy Joes.  I eat my food nice and neat, clean and simple, plain and basic.  Then I started dating Keisha and her mom cooked Sloppy Joes for supper one night.  In an effort to be kind and respectful, I tried them.  Guhgh.  Not the best thing by any means, but as time wore on, I gradually grew to liking them.  Always, though, I had them made from a can.

sloppy joes ii Last night I decided to cook some Sloppy Joes, but doing it without the can of Manwich and making it from scratch.  I used this recipe (super, super easy), substituting 1/4 c. of BBQ sauce for 1/4 c. of ketchup, using ground turkey instead of ground beef, and I also added a little Worcestershire sauce.  The end result was exceptional.  Sure, it took a little more time and effort than opening up a can of premade Sloppy Mix, but the minimal amount of work required was well worth it.  It’s like Manwich is a taste of what a Sloppy Joe is supposed to taste like, but falls short of the goal.  This recipe, “Sloppy Joes II,” as it’s called, was the real deal, the thing Manwich strives for.  Plus, it doesn’t depend on a can full of preservatives and sodium and other stuff that’s not good for you.  Actually, it transcends the generic, strange, mysteriously neon-red Sloppy Joe and becomes the scrumptious, correctly colored Sloppy Joe II, an albeit comparable taste, but different, too.

My tastes have definitely changed over the years.  I remember refusing to eat things with onions, peppers, beans, tomatoes, spinach, and a slew of other things.  Heck, I didn’t eat ketchup until I started dating Keisha.  Now, I’m still picky on a few things (things with odd textures, like bananas or potato salad or something), but for the most part, I’ll eat what I can get.

Random Bits & Pieces

  • Writing Wednesdays is tomorrow.  A subplot is revealed, which you can read and mostly understand without having read any of the previous cantos.
  • If you’ve not donated to fellow blogger Mattson Tomlin’s kickstarter project, you still can.  He’s pretty close to reaching his goal.  He’s also got a Hollywood producer supporting him now.  And, if that’s not enough, or if you’re just interested and have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read an interview with him about his work by following this link.
  • I’m so excited for Lost tonight!
  • I need me another piece of chocolate. 
  • Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Wild Game Dinner and Another Art Discovery

This weekend I ate something I’ve never eaten before.  The church had a men’s fellowship on Saturday, where all the sportsmen (fishermen and hunters) brought in an entree of their choice made from something they killed.  For those of us that don’t hunt or fish, we could bring in a side or dessert.  Me, I brought in some sort of Oreo pudding pie thing, which was super rich, though tasty.

Food was aplenty and I had a great time.  Of course, it’s always a great time when food is involved.  Fish was fried and set out.  Green peppers and jalapenos were stuffed and available.  Casseroles and and baked potatoes.  Pheasant, which I’ve had before, was roasted to perfection.  Deer, another food I’ve eaten, was cooked as a meatloaf and as something like a porkchop.  In fact, one person had killed a deer Saturday morning and prepared it, so it was super tender and definitely the best thing I ate.  Then there was the duck.

I’ve never eaten duck before.  It was wrapped in bacon, so it had to be good, even if it had a dark red color to it.  The meat was very dark and slightly gritty, but it did taste pretty good.  It reminded me of liver, but nowhere near as bad.

Overall, I enjoyed practically everything I ate.  It was fun fellowshipping and trying a new food.  Plus, I always like the chance to eat deer.  The only bad part is that my body must not be used to the different foods or something, cause my stomach’s been bubbly ever since Saturday night.


In keeping with the art theme mentioned on Friday’s post, I’ve came across another website for the visual arts: The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA).  Whether you’re looking for a horrendous portrait of skewed proportions or an odd and surreal landscape, MOBA has it all.  So, if you’ve got some time, check out the site.  Here’s just a snippet of what you’ll find.

MOBA Mama and Babe

How beautiful is this portrait of “Mama and Babe”?  I wonder why the artist chose these certain colors, or perhaps the people really look like this?  For some reason it reminds me of Mystique from the X-Men.

Friday, March 19, 2010

About Writing

Most of you know that I like to write.  Heck, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be blogging five days a week.  I don’t really consider myself a writer, but at the same time I do, too.  And like most writers, I hope to have something published one day, but that’s not my driving factor for why I do it.  No, I write because I have to.

Growing up an artist (another term I use loosely), I had a creative group of genes within me.  Coupling that with my love for the written word, it’s no wonder I like writing.  (Plus, grammar is a beautiful thing.)  It’s just another way for self-expression and artistic endeavors, and we all like to express ourselves.

I’ve been working on The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria since last August-ish.  As for the actual writing, the story is still chugging along, but at a slower pace.  I’m not enjoying myself as much as I was when I started.  Fortunately, I like where the tale is heading.  It’s difficult for me to find the appropriate balance for absurdity.  The ending’s been finished for a while, and I’ve got a few scenes ahead written, too.  Currently, I’ve written over 30,000 words, but this includes my plot outline and writing notes/references, too. 

Really, the point of the exercise is to write and finish a complete story.  So many times I start a story, really enjoying it.  Then, I’ll think of another idea I want to explore, but it won’t fit nicely into my current work-in-progress, so I switch over to a new story, leaving behind the scraps and unfinished work.  With my Writing Wednesdays posts, I feel a little responsibility that keeps me motivated to write when I don’t want to or don’t have time to.  The stuff I put out on Wednesdays is rough, largely un-edited, and sometimes just plain horrible.  But I like to keep the NaNoWriMo mindset: first, just finish the thing, then go back for editing and revisions later.

Another thing that’s actually helped me for this story is that I’ve used an outline.  Rarely do I write outlines and plan ahead.  I’m one of those “off the cuff” writers, spewing forth whatever comes.  Sometimes this works.  Other times, not so much.  But I’ve found that having written an outline really does keep me focused on where I’m going.  It’s not rigid and concrete, but it’s a great tool.

Fellow blogger Okie has started a Wednesday Writing session on his blog this week.  The first piece (found here), titled “The Magazine Salesman,” was exceptional.  Vividly written.  Intriguing plot.  Great little short-story that I heartily recommend.  Be sure to check out his blog while you’re at it.

Random Bits & Pieces

Keisha’s sick.  She went to the Urgent Care place on Tuesday, they gave her some prescriptions for ear infections, she didn’t get any better, she went back yesterday, they gave her three more prescriptions, and now she’s at home lying in the bed in agony.  She’s only allowed to miss one day student teaching.  Today is her fourth (I think).  Both ears are infected.

I came across this amazing artist the other day while doing something on the Interwebs.  (There’s really no reason for me to justify it, nor can I explain myself.  It’s like the Wikipedia curse.  You go to read one article about something or someone (Kevin Bacon, say) and end up reading an interesting piece on thermonuclear reactions.  That’s how the Interwebs work.  It’s a mindless, sucking hole.  We’ve all arrived somewhere and don’t know how or why.)  Alexa Meade is a 23-year-old artist in the DC area.  Awesome stuff.  She stretches the boundaries of perception, and her medium is pretty cool: Acrylic on flesh.  Check out her website here.  (You really should follow the link.  I can’t post any of her work here, but it’s mind blowing and totally cool.)

I can’t get Led Zeppelin out of my head.  Babe…  ooh Baby… 

This was a smart and clever little video.  I laughed.

My brother called me the other day.  He was heading towards the Statue of Liberty.  The Army took a trip to Ground Zero and then they had some free time.  It was nice talking to him.  He’s been stationed in New Jersey for the past two months, training and preparing for his trip to Afghanistan.  He actually headed out yesterday for Ireland, and then he’ll be in the fray just a few days later.  I’ll say thankee sai for any prayers you spare him.

Babe Babe Babe Babe Babe Babe Babe Babe ooh Baby…  I’m gonna leave you…

Happy Weekend everybody.  Looks like it’s gonna be a beauty here in Kentucky. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On Meeting Pat Rothfuss

It’s hard for me to decide where to start this post.  Perhaps I should venture into the realm of modern fiction and story-telling and give the ending first.  That way you’ll have some perspective for what kind of mindset this is coming from and be forgiving for any grammatical, spelling, usage, etc. mistakes.  At the end of the post is a super special surprise.  (Warning, this post is a bit longer than normal.)

I went to bed after 2am last night.  I got less than five hours of sleep.

My friend Adam met me at my house yesterday around lunchtime and we hit the road, heading east towards the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, KY.  The bookstore is 179 Google Maps miles away, which is around a three hour drive plus a time zone change.  (You people that don’t live in a state where the time zone rips and tears you in half don’t know what you’re missing.)  So my trip there could be considered a little over four hours, while my return trip was only around two.

The ride was pleasant.  The conversation excellent.  We arrived in Lexington and met up with two of my friends I graduated college from, Jonathan and Meigooni.  I haven’t seen these guys in a while, so it was good hanging out with them all again.  Jon read The Name of the Wind a few years back; Meigooni and Adam were just along for the ride.

Pat greeting us allSo, after a bite from Qdoba, we headed over to the bookstore, about an hour early.  There were several seats, but not too many people there yet.  Luckily, I snagged the seat directly front and center of where Pat would be speaking.  And, soon, the man arrived.

Listening to Pat speak in person was an experience I’ll likely remember for many years.  His voice is soothing, deep, calm, wise.  His ability to laugh and smile, to have a good time, to not take himself too seriously and to be “normal,” was great.  The chairs had all filled and people were standing around the walls.  Pat said that this could be his biggest turn-out.  The audience was warm and the ambience fun.

Pat began simply with just talking a bit.  He laid out the format for the event, first some Q&A, then some reading, then more Q&A, then more reading, a bit more Q&A, and finally a bit more reading, followed by the signing.  While no one was cruel or mean enough to ask about Book Two, Pat did address the issue.  Here’s a story he told.  (Paraphrased and in third person.)

Pat is a meticulous editor.  He recently decided to go through the 1500 manuscript pages of The Wise Man’s Fear and examine every use of the word “that.”  Often, the word “that” is un-needed, and he read through each sentence of the book, studying each use of “that.”  The word was used over 4000 times.  The process took about 25 hours, and around 900 “that”s were deleted, which shortened the novel by about three pages.  He guaranteed that an editor would not be able to tell a difference between the two versions, but he could, and he wants the book to be better than better.  That is one reason why the book’s taking so long.

It’s nice hearing the honesty from the author, Laughing and being a nice guyknowing how progress is going.  There were several questions, some serious, some hypothetical, some humorous.  I asked what he thought about the Suvudu Cage Match current line up, Kvothe v. Aslan.  He explained (to those that didn’t know what it was) what the cage match was, then answered that he was planning to write a little write-up and send to Suvudu for his answer.  He told some amusing tales of Amazon woes and Facebook problems.  He lauded his fans for being intelligent and loveable people.  He read this piece he wrote on his blog last year, since it was St. Patrick’s day.  He read a hilarious (where everybody was wiping the tears from their eyes and hurting from laughing so hard, including Pat) article he wrote for the College Survival Guide on circumcision.  He talked about a NotW movie.  He talked about his friendship/funny rivalry between Jim Butcher.  And he finished by reading the prologue to The Wise Man’s Fear.

Let’s say that it sounded slightly familiar, though different.  It was tantalizing.

Then the line formed for signing, just a little after 8pm.  We were informed that there would be no time for individual photos with Pat.  I lamented, sad, but understanding.  Still, I drove all the way, I hoped for a picture with Pat.  So, I positioned myself near the end of the line.  I waited for almost two hours before getting to Pat.  I prepared myself for what to say.  I felt giddy.  It was like meeting a celebrity, though he’s only human.  I planned to tell him about my 4-hr drive (time zone changes count!), tell him about the quarter I sent him, ask him another question, thank him.  Finally I got to the table.

I completely blanked out.  I had butterflies.  I mumbled.  I said, quite lamely I might add, “Immabigfan.”  He had to be tired, I didn’t want to take up his time.  I added my drive time and fell silent, looking at my friend for acceptance.  Thankfully, he saw my addled dilemma.  “Tell him about the quarter,” Adam said.  “Oh yeah.  I sent you a quarter with a bullet hole in it.”  Then the light bulb flashed.  “Yeah.  That was one of the coolest things I got early on,” he said.  And then we conversed, talked briefly about guns and me shooting it.  Pretty cool guy all around.  Then I asked for a photo.  “Sure,” he said.  “No problem.”

Logan and Patrick Rothfuss You can’t tell from the picture, but we’re both wearing cool shirts.  Pat, with his glorious and enviable man-beard, has on a Blue Sun shirt a la Firefly.  I have on the Beatles-Stormtrooper Abbey road shirt.

In the end, the trip was well worth the time and drive.  I met my favorite living author and he was a cool guy.  I bought another book and had it signed for me, to match my other 1st edition, 1st printing signed copy.  If you ever get the chance to meet Pat Rothfuss, take it.  Even my friends that haven’t read the book had a good time.

Below are the books I’ve got, all of which are signed but my rugged paperback.  I’ve also included the inscription pages.  (You can hover over pictures for a short description and to read the inscriptions.)

(From Left): 1st ed. Naked-Man-Chest Cover, Current ed. Hbk, 2 softbacks, College Survival Guide

1st Edition 1st Printing; "To Logan, May your hands grow weary from playing your mandolin. And may your fingers calous, but never your heart." Current Edition, 5th Printing; "to Logan, the fourth silence" I bought this on ebay; "Relax. Do something stupid."

In the book I had signed last night Pat got to talking and signed “Pat Pat,” instead of “Pat Rothfuss.”  We had a little laugh, then he said he’d go on and put “Rothfuss Rothfuss,” too.  So my book’s double signed!

Now, the super special surprise.  I bought an extra paperback last night to get signed and to give away to one lucky reader here on my blog.  I had Pat write something blog fitting” on the inscription page and sign it.  If you’ve read this blog for a while, then you’ll know to expect something… unusual?  Random?  Fun?  Bah.  Here it is.

"Congratulations! Lick here." So, if you’d like a chance to win this ultra-awesome, signed copy of The Name of the Wind, here’s what I ask.  Mail me a hand-written, 752 word essay on the importance of the copper penny in 17th century France.  I must receive the essay on a Tuesday.  It must also be an odd-numbered date.  Okay, okay, I kid. 

All you have to do is leave me a comment with your email saying you’d like to be entered.  This will get you one entry.  If you also blog, tweet (is that correct?  I dunno how Twitter works,) Facebook, take out an ad in the New York Times, or get a tattoo that links to Rememorandom and this contest, then you’ll get an extra point for each thing (tattoo = auto-win.)  It is helpful if you put links for me to verify, but I’ll believe you whether you do it or not.  You can also get three extra entries by emailing me (logankstewart[at]gmail[dot]com) a compelling reason why you should win this book, even though it technically increases your odds by 3 chances and the reasoning will have no affect.  If I get some good reasons, I may even post them up here (anonymously, unless you specify otherwise).  I’ll take all the entries I receive by Sunday, March 28, and put them into a magic hat and pick a random winner.

So, to summarize, I met Pat Rothfuss and it was great.  You can win a book signed by him and feel warm on cold, cold nights.  Here’s a nice breakdown.  Let me know if you have questions.  Only available to folks in the USA.  Sorry.

+1 for general comment with email and saying you’re interested
+1 for each blog, tweet, Facebook, other clever thing mentioning and linking this post (links to me are nice)
+3 for an email that explains why you should win
+10000000 for getting a tattoo that can somehow link to this contest

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lost Rehash S6.8: Recon

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Sawyer, so last night’s episode was a bit refreshing.  Not one of my favorites, but still an okay episode.  Plenty of people being manipulated and moved around on the Great Island Chess Board.  Lots of build-up for what can only be the most hyped series ending of all time.

Sawyer The Flashsideways gave us the detective James Ford.  Working with his partner, Miles, the two run a successful sting on a woman named Ava.  Later, at Ford’s desk, we see him calling a list of “Anthony Coopers,” looking for something.  Miles sets Ford up for a blind-date, and he meets Charlotte.  Later, Charlotte asks for a tee-shirt, and while she’s looking for one, she happens upon a folder marked SAWYER.  Inside is a photo and a newspaper clipping about a man who killed himself and his wife and their nine-year-old son surviving.  Ford walks in and furiously kicks Charlotte out.

The next day Ford is approached by Miles, telling him again that he can trust him.  Miles informs Ford that he knows he went to Australia and wants to know why.  Ford tells him it’s none of his business.  Miles says he’s no longer his partner.  Later on, after a bit of self-loathing and loneliness, Ford goes to Charlotte to apologize, but she shuts the door in his face. 

The Flashsideways ends with Ford telling Miles the truth about his past.  Just then, a car crashes into their car and they pursue the runner.  The fleeing person runs from the vehicle but Ford catches her, realizing that it’s the same woman (Kate) he helped evade detection while in LAX.

On the Island, only a few things happen.  Sawyer tells Jin that they wouldn’t leave the Island without Sun.  Kate sees the “Squirrel Baby” and Claire tells her that that’s she has.  People ask what happened to those left back at the Temple, and unLocke says that the Black Smoke killed them.  unLocke reveals to Sawyer that he’s the smoke monster, telling him it’s either kill or be killed.  unLocke asks Sawyer to go to Hydra Island and do some recon, to investigate the Ajira Flight 316 plane and return with info.  Kate asks Sayid if he’s okay, the haunted looking Sayid says no and looks empty.  Claire suddenly attacks Kate and Sayid acts like he doesn’t care.  unLocke pulls the crazy lady off Kate, telling her that he’ll deal with her in a minute.

Back on Hydra Island, a woman named Zoe tries to con Sawyer, but he sees through it and is taken to her boss, who turns out to be (to no-ones surprise) Charles Widmore.  Sawyer and Widmore make a deal about the fate of unLocke.  On the main Island, unLocke tells Kate about his crazy mother experience.  He then goes on to say that Aaron has a crazy mother, too.  Afterwards, Claire apologizes and hugs Kate and Kate says it’s okay.  Sawyer returns, tells unLocke exactly what he told Widmore, and unLocke says he appreciates Sawyer’s loyalty.  In the end, Kate and Sawyer are talking and Sawyer confides that he’s going to let unLocke and Widmore duke it out, and while their hands are full, they’re taking the sub and getting off the Island.

Thoughts and Observations

  • I’m really, really excited about next week’s episode, “Ab Aeterno.”  (This is Latin, meaning something like “For a very long time” or something.)  I’ve been waiting for the Richard episode for a while now, and it’s going to be great.
  • I liked seeing Charlies brother, Liam, in the police station.  Hopefully we get to see more Charlie, but probably not.
  • I wonder what was locked up inside the submarine room?  Anything special, or just something that adds mystery?
  • Was unLocke’s crazy mother actually referring to John Locke’s weird mom, or did the Man in Black have a crazy mother, too?  Is this show just about daddy issues and crazy mothers?
  • Maybe I haven’t thought this through, but the time-travelling Island disappearing thing and Widmore’s roles are confusing a bit.  Widmore was banished/exiled from the Island sometime in the early 1990s.  He was the leader of the Others for many years before this, possibly even in 1977, when things went a little crazy on the Island.  If the Incident split things into two timelines, are there now two Widmores, one intent on returning to the Island and getting revenge, and another in the Flashsideways?  Am I not thinking right on this?
  • I still hope to see Desmond coming into play again.

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.6

Happy St. Patrick’s day.  Here’s the next installment.  And if you’ve missed anything, follow the “Oscambria” labels or click here.  I’m not exactly pleased with this Canto, and I definitely can see where I’ll be tweaking it whenever I start the editing process, but until then, this is it.  Thanks for reading!


The blind man wasn’t exactly happy
At losing his right hand woman.
The quiet lad wasn’t quite thrilled
At losing his half-sister, either.
Arca leered at them but remained silent.
Columbus, on the other hand,
Was never one to lack for words.

“You know how much I depend on you, Koesan,”
he said grumpily, all the while loading bags with supplies.
“Who’s going to look after the ledgers like you do?
Who’ll harass and hound those treacherous traders out there?”
He stalled for a moment, shaking his head.
“You’re practically a daughter to me,
and children must grow up and leave someday, I s’pose.  But I don’t like it.”

Koesan rolled her eyes,
Tired of Columbus’ protests and ready to be gone.
“Arca can step up in my absence, father.
He’s watched plenty.  He knows the business as well as I do,
Better, even, I’d say,
And you know how good he is with numbers.”
Columbus waved a hand overdramatically.

“No, I don’t doubt the lad,”
he continued, his dexterous and aged fingers moving quickly over shelves,
finding an onion and tossing it in his satchel.
“I’m sure he’ll do great.  Oscambria!”
The Hero had only been half-listening,
His mind instead occupied with fate and heavier things,
Like traveling to Feoga with Koesan.

“You best look after my girl on this quest of yours.
I know you’re going to be the ‘Hero of the Worlds’ and all,
But she’s still my baby girl,
And if anything happens to her
I’ll smash your face in with a shovel.”
The old man laughed and Arca smiled.
Koesan rolled her eyes again.

“I’d give my life to keep her safe,”
said Oscambria, unsure how to respond.
“Good.  Good.  That’s what I wanted to hear.
Now, let’s get your stuff loaded up and you two can be off.”
Soon, Pinta had two Taiyoda pack horses loaded with the bags.
Neither animal was majestic or made for speed,
But they would hold up well on the rough roads and trails.

Hugs were exchanged,
More warnings were given,
(“I mean it Oscambria!  You take good care of her.”)
and finally the two rode out of Sparka,
the sun still high in the sky,
only partially hidden behind Gastron and Hubus.
The galleyrat was resting in a basket behind Koesan.

“Have you noticed,” asked the Hero,
partially rhetorically, partially in earnest,
“that much of this journey has been on the road?
I mean, most of my days since my exile have been spent either on the roads
Or waiting on something.
The Sisters should have made my life a bit more exciting,
Especially if I’m going to be the Hero.”

Koesan laughed.  “No, I’ve not noticed,
But be careful what you ask for, Oscambria.
An uneventful journey is one absent of dangers,
Don’t you think?”
The Hero nodded, but continued.
“Yes, for true, though the actor in me
thinks only of the story that will be told.

“Generations from now,
will the bards prefer a tale of adventure and intrigue,
or one of mundane actions and wasted potential?”
“Oh, you certainly have a point there, young hero.”
She laughed again and Oscambria couldn’t help but join in.
He was slowly getting over the way she made him feel,
How she twisted his inner being into liquid knots.

The day was one of those perfect Hellanese days,
Warm but not too hot,
Breezy but not too windy.
They rode in comfortable silence
And secretive glances
Or in full-out conversation,
Complete with awkward words and tongue stumbles.

The horses were sure-footed but slow,
Yet Oscambria found that he did not mind,
For it only added time he could spend with Koesan.
“What are you supposed to retrieve for Lahk,”
she asked later,
when the two were laying on their bedrolls
and looking up at the shining planets.

Oscambria waited a bit before answering.
There was no rush,
no need for an immediate response.
“I’m not really sure.
The god said I’d recognize it.
He said it was anachronistic,
Like this tuxedo suit.”

“Anachronistic?  Like, from another time?”
Mossossopia yawned and licked her lips.
“Yep.  But I’m not sure from when.
Hopefully it’ll stand out.”
She breathed in deeply,
A content smile across her face.
“If it’s anything like that outfit, we’ll definitely notice it.”

Oscambria turned to look at her
And saw that her eyes were closed.
Her breathing was soft and gentle.
“Good night, Oscambria,”
she said faintly,
pulling her blanket up below her chin.
Mossossopia curled into a ball next to her.

“Good night, Koesan.
May Viis be gentle with your dreams.”
She continued to smile
And the Hero continued to watch her.
She was more beautiful than anyone he’d ever seen,
More so than even Biaut, he thought.
He smiled at his fortune.

The night wore on,
Easy and peaceful,
And all the while Oscambria lay awake.
Somewhat to stay alert in case of trouble.
Mostly to observe his sleeping angel,
Snoring quietly beside him,
And never ceasing to smile.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What If… Episode One: Knock Off Christian Video Games

I may star a What If… series here on Rememorandom.  If so, don’t count on it being frequent.  Who knows, I may just have good intentions but decide not to do many, or any, more.  We’ll see.  Here’s episode one.


My friend Alex and I have talked about this on more than one occasion.  What if there was a Christian version of popular video games?  What would the ideal Christian RPG look like?  What about a fighting game?  Side-scrollers?  First person shooters?  The possibilities are endless.

1.  World of Christian Warcraft, Final Fantasy Biblical Edition, Daniel in the Dungeons & Dragons Den, etc.

The Christian RPG would be loaded with classical Bible characters.  The main party would be led by the Apostle Paul, a simple tentmaker with a dark and bloody past.  His sidekick, the short, musically talented David, would be armed with his harp and sling.  Together, they would set off in a world corrupt and brewing with literal evil, battling their way through the realms to bring down the Dark Lord.  Oh no, a random encounter!

*Paul & David vs. 3 Lesser Maniacs of the Gadarenes

Paul, equipped with White Garb (HP +50, Holiness +3) and a steel tent-peg (Damage 47, Weight +12).  David wears Saul’s Armor (HP +15, Speed –7) and has his sling (Damage 30-100, Weight +2) and arsenal of stones with various magic effects.

The Maniacs pool their attacks together and create a Legion.  Looks like the battle will be fierce, but in the end, the trusty team surely will win.  I mean, they have plenty of Lazarus Downs to use in case things get dire.

Who else will they meet along the way?  Surely Moses would have a staff…

2.  Kristian Kombat

KK is exactly what it sounds like it is.  A knock-off of the immortal Mortal Kombat, KK would pit fights to the death between Bible characters and other holy men & women of the past.  Just imagine the possibilities.

Cain vs. Abel, King Saul vs. Saul of Tarsus, Kiriath-jearim vs. John the Baptist, and so many more!  Characters a-plenty.  Button-mashing galore.

Then, at the end of each fight, there would be the “finishing moves,” too.

Peter with his ear-cutting sword.  Samson with his “Imma tear your arms off cause I’m so strong” fatality.  The centurion’s Crucifixion.  Jezebel’s deadly kiss.

3.  Psalm Hero or Psalm Band

This one definitely would be a powerhouse seller.  All 150 Psalms, put to the tunes of popular music, from Big Band era to neo-classical-prog-rock-alt-folk-yodeling.  Everything you could ever imagine rolled up and packaged into a pretty sick deal.

Instead of the typical guitar and drum controllers, the players would get to play with things like the psaltery, trumpet, and 35-button-giant-harp.  Can’t you picture the strolling music bars, prompting you to think ahead and press the buttons at the right time, missing a key button and screwing up your x7 (cause this is Biblical, so all multipliers are x7) combo, getting angry at yourself while the screen blares “Rejoice in the Lord…”?

Oh, such fun.  Psalm 119 would last 20 minutes.  It’d definitely have to be to the tune of “Freebird.”

There you have it.  Three small glimpses at what Christian knock-off video games would look like.  And if that’s not enough to get the hard conservative legalists riled up, then I’m also going to recommend (and embed) this video.  It’s hilarious.  The whole points not to make fun of Christ, but to make a point that Christ isn’t concerned with the trivial things we are.  Instead of WWJD, it’s WWJND.  Watch it.  Laugh at the funny sayings.  It’s long, but it’s very worth it.  Video #2 (@1:42) is great and Video #3 (@3:19) is priceless.

The obligatory ending question: What type of Christian Knock-Off video games did I leave off?  Have I offended you?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Up To Date

I finally tore open my copy of Final Fantasy XIII over the weekend.  I’ve been waiting for this game for a while now, eager in my anticipation, ready for an excellent story and classic RPG experience.  So far, the game has been more than beautiful, and the HD viewing makes it even more eye-pleasing.  I only had time to play for about and hour-and-a-half, so I didn’t really get very far into the Exposition, but the plot seems like it will be grandiose.  The only negative thing (besides the occasional eye-rolling cheesiness) has been the voice acting/ character development of Vanille.  She’s quickly getting on my nerves.  Other than that, so far so good.  Now, if I can only find time to play the game…

I also started two new books over the weekend.  Coming off the dark, grittiness of Best Served Cold, I wanted to read something different.  Why You Say It, provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing House, traces the history to over 600 common everyday words and phrases, and it’s definitely a different type of reading for me.  The other, The Good Thief, has been on my TBR pile for a while.  Neither are in the typical genre I read, but I’m ready for a break.

The Sunday School class had a board game night on Saturday.  Several of us got together and ate and played a few games.  Good fellowship.  Great food.  Excellent time.  Then, on Sunday morning, we started a new study (which I think I mentioned a week or so ago) called Forgotten God, a book by Francis Chan.  One chapter in and I’m already hit hard.  Should be a challenging book.

I started a new regime today.  I normally get up near 7:00am, which gives me the amount of time to get ready and commute to work.  Today, I set my alarm for 6:16am.  I rearranged our study over the weekend, pulling the desk closer to the window and moving some bookshelves around.  Now, in the mornings, I fully intend on reading and studying Scripture before I head off to work.  I’ve sadly been neglecting the Bible for a while, reading only a verse or two each day (RSS Feeds!) as opposed to reading and meditating on a passage.  I pray that I’ll glean from this and get closer to God.

My boss is on vacation all week, which worked out great for me taking off early on Wednesday to go see Pat Rothfuss.  I didn’t realize it until last night, but Wednesday is St. Patrick’s day.  Pat has mentioned on the Facebook event page that he might do something special for this reading.  Heck, maybe he celebrates it for a completely different reason, as he shares the name with the Irish (?) saint.  To me it’s just another day, but not this year.  No sirree.  But I need to think of some sort of memento to bring and give him.

I’ve been listening to a lot of harder music here lately.  Mainly Coheed & Cambria.  As some of you know, I usually listen to folk or bluegrass or acoustic music, stuff that’s mostly soft and simple.  C&C, on the other hand, is really pretty heavy.  They’re a prog-rock band telling a complex narrative through concept albums, with titles like The Second Stage Turbine Blade, In Keeping the Secrets of Silent Earth or Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol One: From Fear through the Eyes of Madness.  It’s hard for me to follow or understand the story, but it’s interesting and surprisingly entertaining.  You can check out one of their more famous songs here or here.  These videos are silly, and the lead singer, Claudio Sanchez, definitely doesn’t match his voice.  Good songs, though.

I’m not entirely sure how to manage my layers with MicroStation.  I have my USGS Quad map on one scale.  I have my different contour layer on another, which is matched and scaled differently, anchored to a certain point location.  Getting the two aligned is proving more difficult than it should be.

Sophie and Stella are getting along better, though there’s still a way to go. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday: The Great Candor Disaster

The joke was on them.  The townsfolk of Candor, TN.  Everyone that had ever laughed and sniggered at him.  All those people that would point and hiss.  His parents for giving him his name, George Washington.  For giving him his disease.  It wasn’t his fault that he was born different.

Mixed.  That was the word he preferred, though he rarely got it.  Instead he endured the hateful, prejudiced speech of the uneducated.  Half-breed.  Demonchild.  Devil.  For a time he didn’t understand the words, then he thought they were funny, and one day the humor was replaced with wrath.  With pain.  With heartbreak.  With understanding.

The sounds of laughter and music floated up through the air to him, covering his tongue with a fresh coating of disgust.  He was sitting high up on one of the many hills that overlooked the small town, reclining against an upper branch of an ancient tree.  The valley was celebrating its annual Blackberry Festival, and a good time was to be had by all.  Not far away was the local Lovers Lane, currently home to only two young couples, the soon-to-be only survivors of the terrible Candor Disaster.

He checked his watch.  “Not long now,” he said.  Yesss…  He tried to think if there was anyone that he’d miss, anyone he should’ve warned.  The closest thing he’d had to a friend had been a lanky boy named, ironically, Gerald ‘Gerry’ Ford.  Still, even Gerry had eventually joined in with the scoffers, so George reckoned he deserved what was coming, too.

It’s strange how, in time, he came to accept his unusual circumstances.  He truly was different.  He saw it reflected in the mirror, in his red-lined pupils.  He heard it in the many voices of the wind.  And when his skin had started peeling, like a snake in the summer, he knew it was true.  His appetites had changed to raw meats, and he vehemently eschewed anything resembling a fruit or vegetable.  Perhaps he was a demonchild.  Certainly something more than human.

The wind picked up, a moaning sound fitting for the dark work at hand.  It was as if the land was preparing for its destruction, weeping like Rachel wept for her dead children in Ramah.  It was time to end this stage of his life and move on to something better.  Something grander.  Something more… accepting.

He stood on the branch and held out his arms, spread wide.  If his balance was not superior, he likely would have plummeted to his death.  However, masterful acrobatics was just another abnormality in his genes.  Bare chested and bare footed, he howled at the waxing moon, joining in with the cacophony of the wind.  Down in the valley, the ground began to shake.  The calliope choked out and was replaced with screams of terror.  A loud hissing sound, like steam leaking from a pipe, entered the fray.

And as quickly as it began it ended.  George peered out onto the destroyed town.  Not a building was standing; in fact, only a few buildings were even visible.  Dust hid most of the destruction, and the rest was covered with rubble and debris.  Most of the bodies would never be found, and the few that were would be swollen and unrecognizable, mostly due to the bite marks as opposed to injuries from the tremor.

He laughed.  From the bottom of his gut he chuckled, content at finally getting his revenge.  He hopped from the tree, landing on all fours, low to the ground like a cat.  He could hear the lovers frantically talking.  A girl was crying.  For fun, he howled again.  Shrill and feral, his voice pierced through the night air.  He grabbed his duffle and ran into the woods without another glance at the fallen city.

Word Count: 630

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Best Served Cold, A Review (Spoiler Free)

Best Served Cold (US Version) It seems like I started reading Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold eons ago, but truthfully it’s only been a month or so.  The US version comes in at around 630 pages, making it a hefty tome to get through.  In addition to this, I’ve just not had as much reading time as I’d like lately, and something had to give.  Finally, and with relief, I finished the novel.

Best Served Cold is a ruthless tale, filled with cutthroat, unlikeable characters, including mercenaries, poisoners, killers, politicians, and a whole slew of others.  From the start we know the book is going to be a bloody ride, and Abercrombie lays the violence and deceit on thick.

Monza Murcatto, the Serpent of Talins, the Butcher of Caprile, should have died when she was thrown from the tower.  Instead she was broken, scarred, and maimed.  When she finally regains some of her health, she sets out on a quest of revenge.  Simply, she wants to kill the seven men responsible for her brother’s death and the attempt on her life.  She recruits a band of employees to help her with her many tasks.  Shivers, a Northman from the Union, has arrived in Styria optimistic and ready to be a better man.  Castor Morveer, the self-proclaimed greatest poisoner in the Circle of the World, and his assistant, Day.  Ex-prisoner Friendly, an autistic man with a thing for numbers.  Vitari, a former Practical for the Inquisition.  And the former head of the Thousand Swords, the famed mercenary Nicoma Cosca.  Together, the motley crew travels throughout Styria seeking Monza’s vengeance.

I knew this book would be bloody.  I knew it would be filled with gritty words and unpleasant scenes.  But I knew it would be good, too, or so I thought.  I suppose my anticipation was too high.  Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy was some of the finest SFF I’ve read in a while, excellent in blending an intriguing story with a masterful mixture of words.  Best Served Cold, sadly, lacked the fascinating tale. 

Perhaps one of the big problems was that the characters were all unrelatable to me.  Some may possess mercy and compassion, but none really show it.  The cast is full of murderers, thieves, and liars, and there’s not a heroic trait among the group of them.  All are either driven by their greed/need for money or their quest for vengeance.  And it’s hard to root for someone for 630 pages when you don’t really like or care much about any of them.

Furthermore, I feel that the story dried up.  The book is divided into subsections, each one in a different city of Styria, each one with a different person to be killed.  So while the book has plenty of surprising moments, it’s also quite repetitive and predictable, too.  Plot the kill and execute the plan.  Check.  Wash off the blood and repeat.

Best Served Cold (UK version)The book was not unenjoyable, but it was a completely different kind of read.   Abercrombie is still a master wordsmith and an excellent developer of character.  His choice of wording can evoke laughter (“…surprised like she’d found a turd in bed”) or introspection.  Each POV character thinks differently, and Abercrombie portrays all quite well.

Another thing I enjoyed from this book was the sense of realism in the tale.  Styria is dark and dangerous.  The Years of Blood have been long and taxing and the reader can feel this.  This realistic story still manages to maintain elements of fantasy and not seem trite.

Overall, the book had enough going in it for me to finish, but I think it definitely could have been shorter and things left out.  I enjoyed many parts and there were some characters that I did like on occasion, but no one was really a hero, either.  Another reason to read the book is that it relates to The First Law series, and some things happen here that will definitely affect the future of the Circle of the World.  Be warned, the book has some explicit sex scenes that easily could’ve been cut, some pretty brutal violence, and some heavy cussing from time to time.  If you can look past these faults and you care about what’s coming next from Abercrombie’s world, I can easily recommend that you read Best Served Cold.  If you’ve not read The First Law, I would skip this one for now.