Friday, February 26, 2010

Flash Fiction Friday: The Hatchet

I’m thinking about doing another set of weekly installments here on Rememorandom, in the vein of flash fiction.  Some of the tales may be connected.  Some won’t.  But I like micro fiction.  I like short stories.  I like the possibilities they offer.  I’ll try to keep each one around 500 words or less, but I make no promises.  This one’s 705 words.

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He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, reveling the brief respite of feeling the lids closed.  How long has it been?  Too many years to count.  Too many faces to remember.  One he wished he could forget. 

He turned from the sink and grabbed the hatchet, suddenly ready to end the dark business that lay ahead.  The blade was as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, honed and cared for as a child.  He’d cast the iron himself, shaping it and molding it to suit his own needs.  The handle was worn and aged, weathered and smooth.  A perfect tool for an imperfect man.

Downstairs they were tied up.  Three of them.  Two females, one male.  All nameless faces to him.  Important names to someone else, maybe.  Names were no longer important to him.  Why do they do it?  Won’t they learn?  He slowly made his way down the steps, letting each foot-fall bang loudly.  He liked the way it sounded.  Made him feel important.  Made him forget he was crippled.  Almost.

The room was dim, lit only by the fire within the hearth.  Long shadows draped across the wooden floor, and he thought briefly of hell.  The flames of eternity burning away sins forever.  Men cooking in their own filth.  Women baking in their own peccancy.  He pictured himself there, in a special furnace for people like him.  Bile filled his mouth and he spat.

All three were just strangers, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He hated it, but it had to be done.  He stood and stared at them for a handful of moments, looking into each red-rimmed eye, hoping his sorrow and remorse shown through his scarred and ruined face.  They see only fear.  No regret.  They were young.  Probably college students.  Full lives ahead of them.  They’re a threat.

He gripped the hatchet and moved closer to the fireplace.  How much easier this could be.  They were whimpering now.  Tears pouring from the three faces, running over the grey tape that covered their mouths, hanging at their chins until the weight grew too much and they fell away into oblivion.  Three pitiful sets of eyes, but he had no pity left.  He’d been doing this for far too long to have pity.  Only regret.  Regret that he didn’t get out sooner.  Regret that they took everything from him.  Regret that he couldn’t leave even if he wanted to.

His hand was white from squeezing the handle of the hatchet, aching slightly and eager to be released.  He obliged.  The honed blade buried deep into a burning log, sending out a sharp thump and a spray of sparks into the small room.  All three sobbed and their bodies shook.  One tried to talk, but through the tape it was next to useless.

“This is going to hurt a little,” he growled, his voice cracking from lack of use.  He rummaged around through the glowing coals and found what he was looking for.  A vial of a lunar caustic variation, or silver nitrate as they liked to call it nowadays, white hot and wicked.  He took the hatchet, now edged in orange, and moved behind the trio.

Gently, carefully, he made a searing gash down the male’s neck, between the spine’s beginning and the fringes of hair.  One slit, peeling away the skin like butter.  He uncorked the lunar caustic mixture and poured the boiling liquid into the cut.  The body began to shake uncontrollably until it eventually ceased.  He repeated the process with the other two.

The tube was nearly empty, but he’d take no chances.  He buried it back beneath the coals, trying to get the image of hell from his mind.  “I could’ve killed them,” he said aloud, a weak vindication.  It would’ve been better if you hadNow they’re ruined, like you.  How many have you broken now?  You know what happens to them.

He took his hatchet and managed towards the passed out youth.  He bandaged the wounds, cut the restraints loose, and sighed.  The bodies slumped down into a pile.  They looked dead, their chests rising only slightly.  “I’m sorry,” he whispered.  No you’re not.  And he wondered whether or not he was.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Abstract, A Fog of Life

I pick and pick.  I bite.  I gnaw.  It breaks and grows.  A pile forms.  Somewhere.  Below Midway?  I’m left with rough, jagged edges.  Broken bones.  Or is it broken skin?

A pangram is a sentence that uses every letter of the alphabet at least once.  Likewise, a crossword is a pangram if it contains every letter.  Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.  The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.  Brawny gods just flocked up to quiz and vex him.  It’s difficult to keep the duplicate letters low and to still make sense.  The Welsh word “cwm” means “valley.”  I have no clue how to even begin pronouncing it.

I’ve always done it.  It’s obsessive of me, I know, but I can’t help it.  Like the cracking and popping of the crackers and poppers within my flesh.  Will it cause arthritis?  Does it matter?   I can’t stop.

New project!  New project, I say.  Same place, different phase.  More uncertainty in how to progress.   What to do?

I was supposed to get paid last week, but didn’t.  Because my company is paid by the State and because Kentucky is broker than broke, my company didn’t get paid for some reason.  Thus, I didn’t get paid.  It’s starting to make me a bit nervy, especially since I usually depend on my second paycheck to cover the mortgage and the other bills that creep in…

Shiny.  Sharp.  Silver.  Clip!  Clip!  There’s nothing more annoying than hearing it at church.  And there’s nothing grosser than a pile of bony flesh left strewn about the floor.  In the carpet.  In the couch.  In the air tonight.

Will I get two paychecks next week if I don’t get one this week?  Gyargh.  February ends Sunday.  The whole thing’s just getting tied up, put in a box, packed on a freighter, shipped out the the middle of the Pacific, dropped off at Midway, placed in a tunnel, buried underground, and forced to live the rest of its memorable existence with all the other old and forgotten months.

Losing weight is actually not so bad.  I’ve been working on portion control for a bit now, so that’s helpful with the Weight Watchers.  And actually seeing the numbers tick down is encouraging.  I love hummus.  And fruit.  And smoothies.  And fiber bars.  And all those things aren’t that bad.

Center and Right justifications rarely get used.  Show the love.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you were pretty sure you lost your sanity?  Where you lay on your college bed and stared at the white, brick walls, occasionally running your fingers along its cracks and splits?  Where you phase out all the noise and things are brought sharply into focus.  Where you wonder where your life is headed and where it’s been?  And the minutes roll by and soon you find yourself getting up and stepping into the shower, letting the hot water beat down and wash away yourself?  Where you cover your ears with cupped hands and listen as the rain-storm falls around you and patters on the tiled, nasty shower floor?  And when you step out and dry off, the stark realization of life kicks in; you pick up yourself and jump back into its meandering river, a cannonball ready to sink or swim.

Strange things we are.  Each individual possessing their own self.  Controlling their appetites and desires.  Some people snap and have no restraints, no convictions.  Other people snap and live lives of tedium and depravity, unable to enjoy even the simple, harmless things.  But most people snap with their insatiability.  They’re greed and hunger are never fed; their lusts are wild and untamable.  People are fascinating.  They’re terrifying.  They’re amazing.  They’re unique.  Even the copycats and mimes are their own selves, even if they copy and mimic.  What are we?  Who are we?  How can we rise above?  Should we rise above?  Is there anything wrong with complacency?  

I’m satisfied with my life.  I love my wife more than she knows.  I’m blessed and happy with the things I have, and I have plenty.  Sure, I desire more, and from time to time I indulge myself, but I say no more often than not.  I think about other countries and what they have.  Solomon was right.  All is vanity.  And yet, I’m okay with that.  I know my possessions won’t travel with me beyond the dirt, so I strive to enjoy what I have with my allotted time.  Anything else is just being ungrateful.  Unthankful.  And that’s absurd.  Even the poor folk in our great country have more opportunity than most of the rest of the world.  That’s not to say that they don’t struggle and don’t have problems—they do—but they have a shot at something.  They…

…the fog breaks back in.  The bones hiss and snap.  The juices stop.  The highways of the mind close down for maintenance and road repair.  The moments of clarity, not the John Mayer song, aren’t too many.  Mirages.  Mirrors and smoke.  Wicked, smiling faces.  Sad clowns.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lost Rehash S6.5: Lighthouse

I loved this episode.  Like Hugo hinted at, it reminded me of times past, of the fun adventures of Season 1.  Jack and Hurley’s Island trekking was intriguing and humorous, Jin and Claire’s misadventure was mystery filled and unsettling, and Jack’s Flashsideways was rather interesting.

Jack and David Shephard First, the Flashsideways.  As Jack gets home from work, he notices a scar from an appendectomy, which puzzles him.  A phone call from his mom later and it’s confirmed that Jack had his appendix taken out when he was young, though Jack doesn’t seem to remember this.  (If you recall, Jack had his appendix removed by Juliet and Kate in the Season 4 episode “Something Nice Back Home.”) 

Furthermore, in this Flashsideways we discover that Jack has an estranged son, David.  Their relationship is suffering.  Jack later learns that David is an excellent piano player and that the boy didn’t want his father to see him fail.  Jack tells his son that he can never fail in his eyes.  The boy warms up to his father and they return to Jack’s apartment for pizza.

I enjoyed the Flashsideways quite a bit.  The appendix scar poses possibilities that the sunken Island and other timeline are having reaching affects on this timeline.  It also had me wondering if Christian Shephard was a drunken alcoholic in this reality.  And who is David’s mother?

Jack, Hurley, LighthouseThe Island was, of course, more interesting.  Hurley was visited by Jacob, instructing  him to get Jack and go to the lighthouse.  Along the way, the two stop by the caves (from Season 1) and Hurley muses on the bodies of “Adam and Eve.”  The two discuss why they returned to the Island, where Jack answers a truthful, soul-bearing answer that he was “broken” and that he was stupid enough to think the Island could fix him.  Soon they reach the lighthouse.

Inside, there’s a giant compass-wheel and mirror/looking glass.  Hurley says they need to turn the wheel to a heading of 108, which corresponds to the name WALLACE.  We see that each degree corresponds to a name, which are the same as the ones scribbled on the cave from last week’s episode.  As 23-SHEPHARD is passed, Jack sees a reflection of his house in the mirror.  He suddenly grows angry and hot-headed and demands to see Jacob, and, when he doesn’t appear, he shatters the mirror and leaves.

Jack, Jacob, Hurley, Lighthouse, Lose Hurley is upset that he failed at his mission and Jacob reappears.  He apologizes, though Jacob doesn’t seem too bothered.  He realizes that Jacob’s true goal was to get Jack ready to see something, to “look out at the ocean for a little while,” and to be prepared to do his job.  Jacob also tells Hurley that he had to get them away from the Temple, because something bad is coming.

Finally, there’s Jin and Claire.  Their scenes were intense.  Claire definitely has lost her marbles.  She’s been bent on recovering Aaron and thinks the Temple folk have him.  She doesn’t seem to realize that it’s been three years.  Jin asks if she’s been alone and she says no, she’s been with her “friend.”  Claire captures and interrogates a Temple dweller—Justin—commanding him to give her back her son.  Jin says that Kate took him, which shocks Claire, and then in a fit of anger, she buries her axe into Justin’s gut.  Later Jin tells Claire that he lied about Kate, that he was trying to save Justin’s life, which Claire is relieved to hear, because otherwise she’d’ve had to killed Kate, too.  unLocke walks in and Jin rhetorically says “Locke?”  Claire laughs, saying that’s not Locke, that’s “my friend.”

Thoughts and Opinions

  • In “Something Nice Back Home,” Jack is reading to Aaron Alice in Wonderland in the Flashforward.
  • Seeing Dogen in the other timeline was interesting.  What in the world is he doing?
  • I’m wondering if the cave was actually the Man in Black’s cave and he was trying to copy and steal things from Jacob.
  • What are the implications from the Island’s timeline to the other timeline?  If an Island character dies, will the correlating character die, too?
  • Even in death, Jacob has confidence.
  • Next week, “Sundown.”  Will Sun finally be shot down?  I hope not, but she sure does get on my nerves sometimes, acting all snobby and biggy-big.

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.3

Canto XVI, wherein we discover the results of Oscambria’s prayers, a verdict is rendered, and an old friend returns.  If you’ve missed any of the previous installments of this tale, click here to catch up, or follow the “Oscambria” label at the bottom of this post.  There’s also a glossary, world map, and other miscellaneous information available after the jump.  The next Canto is perhaps my favorite one so far.  As always, thanks for reading.

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XVI.

The guard that had caught him walked in first,
Carrying a chair and a gagging rag.
Behind him walked Columbus,
Tapping a walking stick ahead of him.
The guard sat the chair down near Oscambria,
Stuffed the foul smelling rag in his mouth,
And moved to stand in the corner of the room.

The blind man sat comfortably in the chair,
Crossed his legs,
And pulled out a wad of smoke-weed.
The fragrance of the smoking pipe was somehow soothing,
And the Hero felt himself relax.
His mind began to churn.  “What luck,” thought Oscambria,
“that I should flee Arca and fall into the hands of Columbus.”

“My name is Columbus,
the owner of the store that you tried to rob.
I have no patience for thievery,
Especially after returning from a long and stressful trip.
Normally I would have you taken to a Reckoner,
Where you would be tried and sentenced,
Either to prison or death.

“Unfortunately, our local Reckoner is out of the city,
or so Pinta tells me,
thus the task of weighing and judging falls on me.
Also, unfortunately for you,
I mentioned that I have just recently arrived,
And my trip has left me in a foul mood.
Nonetheless, I’ll try to be fair.”

Columbus took a long drag on his pipe
And blew a cloud of white smoke.
The hope of getting off easy faded;
When the Hero heard the agitation in Columbus’ voice,
he decided against revealing himself to the man.
“I’ve owned this store for many years,” the man continued,
“And it’s not by letting thieves get away with their crimes.

“I’m a faithful follower of the gods,
firmly believing that Lawes is the supreme judge.
However, Lawes’ statutes are clear,
And the Law is the Law.”
An awful memory flashed through the Hero’s spinning mind,
Recalling the same words Columbus had said
Just before Arca jabbed the halberd into the roadside vagabond’s skull.

“I have it on good word that you were trying to steal from my store.
Do you deny the charge?”  Columbus took another drag.
“No,” he tried to answer,
but it was weak and muffled from the gag.
His mind had grown dull from the smoke and the odor on the rag.
The blood and brains of the dead thief.
The blind man released another cloud and pulled out a long knife.

“I take your silence as a no contest.”  A pause.  “Pinta, leave us.”
The guard grunted and complained.
“I do not pay you to question me, son.  Now leave us.”
The guard grumbled again, but he obeyed, eyeing Oscambria as he left.
They sat in silence for a span,
Oscambria staring at the blind man’s blade,
All the while flowers of fear were growing in his guts.

Yes, readers, let it be said that the Hero of the Worlds was capable of fear,
That even he had a terror squeezing his heart.
Here he was, bound and gagged before a blind man with no tolerance for law-breaking.
A man holding a dangerous, simple-looking knife and planning to use it.
A man with a serious, business like face, except for that girly tattoo near his left eye.
If he could just remove the gag then he could make himself known,
But his constitution had abandoned him for fear and apathy.

“Having offered no defense, I, Columbus of Sparka,
former Reckoner of the Feoga regions,
find you guilty and found wanting.
As I can’t throw you in prison,
I sentence you to death.
I suppose it’s only fitting, after all.
My journey began in bloodshed; it should end with it, too, eh?”

The Hero’s eyes widened when the man stood from his chair.
He wondered at the quick madness of the simple trial.
A cloud of smoke covered Columbus’ face,
Casting him like a god come down from the sky.
Mossossopia leapt from Oscambria’s lap and ran up to Columbus’ feet,
Happy to see the man again,
or trying to protect his master, as Oscambria thought.

Unable to see,
Columbus tripped over the small galleyrat.
He fell hard and the knife flew from his hand.
Landing on his face he let out a curse.
(Strange for a man that followed the gods to do so, I think.)
“What in all manner of… Gah!”
He lost his tongue as the quick kisses of the galleyrat filled his face.

Mossossopia only licked him for a few seconds,
But it was enough to stall the man.
“A dog?  Why didn’t Pinta…  No it’s not a dog.  A…galleyrat?!  But, it can’t be.
Mossossopia?  Oscambria?”
Mossy growled tenderly,
Obviously pleased that the man remembered her.
The Hero grunted and moaned through his suffocating gag.

Columbus stood and dusted himself off,
Picking up the galleyrat.
“Are you gagged, Oscambria?  Well, I’m guessing you’re Oscambria.
This is definitely his galleyrat, of that I’m certain.”
The Hero yelled again, letting the rag stifle his cry.
The odor was dumbing him.
He sighed instant relief when Columbus plucked the rag from his mouth.

“I can’t believe it’s you,” said Columbus,
returning to his chair and his pipe.
“I can’t believe it’s you, either,” replied Oscambria,
rubbing at his wrists.
“You were going to kill me.”
An uncomfortable air hung between them,
Separated by the thick smoke.

“Yes.  The Law is the Law.
And you are still guilty, child, but your sentence can be rethought.
It could be that the Sisters have deliberately led you to me,
Being that I know of your destiny.
Or perhaps it’s just a large coincidence that you end up here.
Either way, you are here, and we have things to discuss,
Chiefly being your departure from our caravan.”

The tone of Columbus’ voice left little to the Hero’s imagination.
What could he say?
He’d abandoned the group he’d said he’d protect.
“I know why you left us, Oscambria,
and I almost do not blame you.  Almost.
You acted foolishly,
Though love is prone to foolishness.

“What did you think was going to happen after you left?”
The Hero hung his head and mumbled.
“I expected no one would miss me,
least of all Koesan. 
The way she looked at me was too much.
This curse doesn’t turn my heart to grey, too.
No, it still beats just as bloody red as everyone else’s.”

“Well, you were wrong.
When we discovered your absence
Koesan flew into another fit of rage,
This time directed at herself.
I had to keep her from going back to find you.
We had a strict schedule to keep,
And there was no time for distractions.

“The whole thing was like one big drama,
like an act from ‘The Callow and the Unsettled,’
and I’m near too old for that stuff.
Arca finally convinced her to stay,
Bless the lad…”
Columbus’ voice trailed off for a moment, then added,
“Why do I not smell you?”

The Hero chuckled and recounted his meeting of Lahk.
He went on and vindicated himself,
Telling how he kept a watchful eye on the caravan
As best he could.
“A tuxedo, you say?  Hmm.  Fascinating.
But you should never have taken an oath with Lahk.
In the end, he always comes out ahead.”

“I was hesitant,” said the Hero,
“but I didn’t have many choices.”
Columbus extinguished his pipe and suddenly stood.
“Enough of this.  I’ve decided upon your sentence.
You’re going to have to make up to Koesan.
It’s beyond me how you both have managed to fall for one another so quickly,
But you have, and you should put your differences aside.

“You can come with me and wait in the sitting room.
There should be some eggs and corncakes there.
I’ll need to scold Pinta.  His head’s a sack full of sand and nothing more.
What was he thinking gagging you like that?”
Columbus blathered on and made his way to the door.
Oscambria, followed,
his heart thumping louder than before.

Yes, dear readers,
let it never be said that the Hero did not fear.
He was, after all, made of the same stuff we are,
Flesh, blood, and bone.
You know how it feels to have the weight of admission hanging over you.
Columbus led him into the sitting room.
“Take a seat, lad.  She’ll be in here soon.  Help yourself to the food.

“I’ve things that need doing.
You two can find me after you’re finished.”
With that, he turned and closed the door.
Oscambria heard the soft click as the lock turned.
He sighed heavily,
Scratching absently at Mossossopia,
And staring nervously around the adorned room.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

when ends the world, a poem by logankstewart

on a saturday
in november
during lunch
when ellie montgomery
reaches for the ketchup
to ruin her freedom fries.

on a tuesday night
in january
when thomas montgomery
hits a patch of slick road
after he's had a bit too much
and no one had a mind to stop him.

at eleven a.m.,
local time,
when a crazed zealot
decides to detonate himself and those around him
after listening to the lies
of those that should be silenced.

tonight,
when esther montgomery
finishes saying her prayers
and closes her tired, old eyes,
weary and ready to leave
and see her sweet family again.

when the gasses run out
and the internal combustion engine of Earth
goes quiet
when the sun explodes
when the black holes eat us all
for dinner
when the LHC malfunctions and things get crazy
and the dinosaurs come back
armed and dangerous

Random Bits & Pieces

  • LOST tonight!
  • Writing Wednesdays tomorrow.
  • Bologna sandwich, raisins, pretzels, Doritos, corn flakes, semi-sweet tea, an apple, and tuna-noodle casserole or chili turkey dogs.
  • Parenthood looks great, and it’s the same producers or something as Arrested Development
  • Telos.

Monday, February 22, 2010

There’s Something Happenin’ Here

Over the weekend, Keisha and I spent almost ten hours in the car together.  The time passed as we listened to different radio stations and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” over and over again.  While on the road, I heard a band I thought sounded cool, but I didn’t know who it was.  Then, yesterday, NPR did an artist spotlight on an English folk band called Mumford & Sons.  They were hailed as this generation’s CSNY and then they played some of their songs, which one of them happened to be the one I liked, called “The Cave.”  While I’ve not given the full album a thorough listen-through yet, I have enjoyed what I’ve heard, and I look forward to listening to the new music.

The Tennessee Aquarium, in Chattanooga, was a fun trip.  It was good to see my friend and his fiancée, and we all had a great time.  They recently bought a home, so we checked that out and then headed over to the aquarium.  I have plenty of pictures from the trip, but I’ve not taken them off my camera yet, so they’ll have to wait.

Best Served Cold is a monster of a book, and I’ve not given it the proper treatment it deserves.  I’m around 60% through it, and it’s kept me entertained (somewhat), but it definitely is lacking what The First Law had. 

I got the PS3 in on Friday and have started playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum.  So far, it’s awesome.  The graphics have been great, the plot intriguing, and the game play fun and challenging.  I’m looking forward to progressing through the madhouse and beating the game.

We had a beautiful break in weather yesterday and Saturday, with sunshine and temperatures almost 70 degrees.  Today, there’s a chance for snow and temps are back in the 30s.  Nothing like Kentucky’s temperate climate.

Keisha and I are starting Weight Watchers (unofficially) today.  I’ve been trying to lose weight for a few weeks, and I’ve steadily been losing a pound or so a week for the past month-ish.  I’ve mostly just been cutting back on the portions I eat, and all my snacks have been healthy.  So, by starting WW, maybe I’ll lose even more.  I’ll have plenty of statistics and diagnostics from the outcome eventually.

Lot’s to do.  Lot’s to do.  My weekdaily chronicling likely will be slowing down soon.  I’m thinking about posting only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, unless I have something special to say.  I re-vamped my blog and started posting more last February, excepting May, when we were without internet and in the process of buying a house.  Regardless, I’ll still be doing this thing, just not as frequently.  We’ll see.  Off to work and to listen to Mumford & Sons.

Friday, February 19, 2010

You’ve Got Your Ball, You’ve Got Your Chain

Friday is truly an exceptional day.  Knowing that the weekend is only a few hours away somehow fills the soul with a type of lasting happiness that results in high productivity for a while, ultimately tapering off into ellipses.

Tied to me tight tie me up again.  The weekend, as always, promises to be stuffed full with activity.  Keisha and I are driving down to Chattanooga, TN, a 4-hr and time-zone-crossing drive, to see my best friend William and his fiancée Rachel.  They recently bought their first home, which we’ll hopefully be seeing.  We’re also going to the aquarium, so that should be fun, too.

Who’s got their claws in you my friend, into your heart I’ll beat again.  I really like Leonardo Dicaprio as an actor.  He’s phenomenal.  His characterizations are almost always perfect.  And I like a good thriller, especially one that promises to be a bit spooky.  Thus, I want to go see Shutter Island.  Soon, perhaps.  Very soon…

Sweet like candy to my soul.  Sweet you rock and sweet you roll.  I’ve always liked this song.  It’s filled with memorable lines and the music’s beautiful.  In high school I was a big Dave fan, but as I grew older I grew out of his music, namely the American Baby album.  But the dude can write some great songs, and the band has several gems that are worth a listen to.

Lost for you I’m so lost for you…  Major progress in the erosion control plans that I’ve been working on.  After lots of guesswork and self-doubt, I think I’ve finally produced something that looks right.

And you come crash into me.  I do have one question for you, friends.  Have you all received any errors when trying to comment on a post?  I’ve received a few messages from folks telling me they’ve had errors and I’m not really sure why.  I’ve not been tinkering around with HTML or anything.  I’ve not changed anything, actually.  My guess is that it’s some Google maintenance?  Anyway, just curious.

… In a boys dream.  I am supposed to get the PS3 in today.  I don’t see it arriving like it’s supposed to, but hey, FedEx could surprise me.  I’ve sold my 360 now, making back what it cost me for the whole bundle and even a little profit.  I may have a review of Oblivion up next week sometime.

Happy weekend, folks.  See ya where the streets have no names.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Austin, TX Plane Crash

I’m sure you all heard about the plane crash into the IRS building in Austin, TX.  Apparently the pilot had some pretty bad luck with his life and his retirement, blamed the government and Big Brother for all his problems, and decided to end it all by taking out (or in this case, attempting to take out) a lot of IRS workers or something.  How tragic that someone’s circumstances can lead to something like this.  The man, Andrew Joseph Stack, believed that the government was out to squash the middle man and eventually had enough.  He left a suicide note/manifesto, titled “Well Mr. Big Brother IRS man… take my pound of flesh and sleep well,” on his registered web domain, which was taken down this afternoon.  The Smoking Gun has a text copy of this note, as does CNN.

I read through the note.  It left me with feelings of pity, confusion, incredulity, shock, amazement, and a slew of others.  Ultimately, Stack comes to the conclusion that “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.”  My mouth hung open in disbelief.  My brain fogged as I tried to make sense of this opinion.  It reminded me of some of the characters that Joe Abercrombie created, people like Caul Shivers.  Shivers tried to do the right thing and be a good man, but soon came to realize that, in the end, you still go back in the mud.

Did Stack reach this point, too?  The breaking point of humanity?  The point where our logic eventually caves and we’re reduced to a primal rage?  Personally, I feel that this opinion is not valid and that violence is rarely the answer.  And when this conclusion can be reached, I’m left to deduce that the person has no belief in an afterlife?  Though that deduction is flawed, as Muslim extremists believe they are doing the right thing when they blow themselves up in hopes of slaying some infidels.

I have always been a person who strives to see every side of every argument.  While I pity Mr. Stack for his misfortune in life, I wonder how biased his opinion was?  I agree that the government tends to screw people, but that’s no reason for violence.  Furthermore, he offers to take no blame for any of these problems.  It’s as if everything that happened to him was beyond his control and he was completely innocent in everything.  Now this may be a possibility, the likelihood is rather improbable. 

Sigh.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post.  It just struck me the wrong way.  I’m a patriot.  I love the United States of America.  I believe that I live in the best country on the planet.  America has plenty of problems, but so does life.  Our government is full of hypocrites and money hungerers.  Unfortunately, crashing your plane into a government building is not the answer.  I’m also a compassionate person, one who longs to help anyone in need, whether it be a homeless woman on the street or a middle class man under strain.  And when I read about things like the tragedy of Joe Stack, it makes me sad. 

I hope for a better future, one where violence is not the answer.  One where people aren’t reduced to horrors and terrorism.  In the end, I’m thankful that the casualties/injuries from the plane crash were small.  Austin, TX, you’re in my prayers, and so are you America.

A Sting/Johnny Cash Tribute: A New Cover Song

Last year some time I was convinced to post some music that I had recorded.  That song remains my favorite one I’ve done, and though it has problems, I think it sounds okay.

As some of you know, I’ve been teaching myself to play the piano, and over the past year or so I think I’ve improved tremendously.  Still, I’m a long way from playing with proficiency, but I can do some of the easier songs now.  With that, I decided to record a cover of Sting’s “I Hung My Head,” a song that I’ve liked since hearing Johnny Cash’s version.  If you’ve never heard the song, each version is unique in its own way.  Sting’s, the original, has a weird time signature and is a bit more peppy for the dark lyrics, but still it’s great.  Cash’s, the one I heard first, is fitting and grim to the mood.  My recommendation?  Listen to both and decide for yourself. 

First, the original version, from Sting’s 1996 album Mercury Falling.  I like hearing Sting’s voice, and his song writing is always top notch.

Next up comes Johnny Cash’s rendition.  This version is from Cash’s phenomenal American series, American IV: The Man Comes Around.  The American series is definitely some of my favorite albums out there, and Cash delivers with every song from the albums.  This one’s no exception.

Somehow, in the shadow of these two amazing artists, I have the audacity to inject my version.  It’s got plenty o’ problems, but what can I say, I like it well enough.  My voice strains a few places and I hit a few wrong keys, but in the end, I was satisfied.

Why yes, I do believe you can see the rapidly expansive balding spot atop my 24 year old head.  Yep, I’m in pajamas.  Yes, when I play piano music notes come out of the back and sometimes linger.  It’s my life.

Thanks for listening, folks.  And thanks for reading.  And thanks for the cookies…

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lost Rehash S6.4: The Substitute

Last week’s lackluster episode “What Kate Does” looks even shabbier when compared with last night’s “The Substitute.”  Of course, any episode featuring John Locke—and in this case, un-John Locke, too—then the episode’s bound to be great.  Terry O’Quinn is a superb actor, and his portrayals of both a despairing John Locke and an angry, mysterious Smoke Monster Man thing are top notch.

The_SubstituteFirst, the Flashsideways.  I’m struggling to hang on to the importance of the  Flashsideways.  I understand that the Losties all had miserable lives.  The only compelling thing about this reality is the subtle differences from Season 1.  Perhaps this is all just showing how life would be without the Island, but for now it’s failing to keep me excited.

I did like seeing John Locke with Helen again, and I was glad for their love.  The meeting between Hugo and Locke in the parking lot was endearing and funny.  Meeting Rose was nice, but not spectacular.  The best meeting by far was the substitute teacher meeting Benjamin Linus, the history teacher.  Juxtaposing that scene with the other timeline, with the fact that Linus killed Locke (and attempted to as well), was great.

Now, on to the meatier and more interesting aspects of “The Substitute.”  Seeing through the eyes of the Smoke Monster was cool and unexpected.  When unLocke cut down Richard from the tree, and after he refused to travel with him, I fully expected unLocke to kill the man.  I suppose he would have, had he not seen the Boy With Bloody Hands.  (This scene was beautifully shot.  The surrounding greenery of the Island, the concentrated light on the boy, the pale colors and the stark, red blood.  Great shot.)  Their talk of candidacy put more questions in our heads, and soon unLocke was with Sawyer, convincing him to travel with him.  Having nothing to lose, James agrees.

Lost Boy (Young Jacob) They both met the Boy Who Had Bloody Hands and Sawyer asked who that was.  Surprised that he could see him, unLocke chases him down and is reminded about the “rules” and that he can’t kill him.  Like the real John Locke, he responds with a defiant “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”  (This makes me wonder how much humanity and control the Man in Black has in this body, or does the deceased John Locke still possess some strength, too?)

After a few more interesting things (Sawyer being warned by Richard to flee from unLocke, the Of Mice and Men scene, unLocke saying how he is “trapped,” and a dangerous descent down a cliff-side), the duo arrives in a cave.  unLocke removes the white stone from the scale, giving the black side complete domination, and tosses it into the ocean.  Then he shows Sawyer why he, and all the other Losties, are on the Island.

The Numbers show up next to a list of scribbled names.  Most are crossed out.  Six are not.  4-LOCKE, 8-REYES, 15-FORD, 16-JARRAH, 23-SHEPHARD, 42-KWON.  Locke simply says Jacob had a thing for numbers, and that all of these names are candidates, candidates for Jacob’s job, to protect the Island.  He gives Sawyer three choices,

1.  Do nothing and see how it all plays out.
2.  Take up Jacob’s job and protect the Island “from nothing.”
3.  Get off the Island, but they do it together.

Of course, heart-broken and angry, twisted and misinformed, Sawyer chooses the third option.  Surely this is what the MiB wanted all along.

Dead John Locke The other POV party—Ben, Sun, Ilana, and Frank—all decide to head to the Temple, but first they choose (at Sun’s behest) to bury John’s body.  We’re taken back to the cemetery and Locke is laid to rest.  Ben gives a truthful and touching eulogy, commenting on Locke’s faith and lamenting the fact that he murdered him.

Thoughts and Opinions

  • The candidates were the most interesting thing from this episode.  What does it really mean?  Surely MiB is lying about things, but what?  Are the Numbers really unimportant and random or are they purposeful?
  • I’m guessing the Boy With Bloody Hands was a young Jacob?  Could Richard not see him because he denied unLocke, but Sawyer could because he accepted him?
  • Kate’s name was not listed as a candidate.  Yay!  But we knew from early on that she was not “on the list.”
  • In the Flashsideways, Helen says something about Locke and his father at the wedding.  In this timeline, are Locke and the Man from Tallahassee on good terms?  If so, then does that imply that “Sawyer” never existed and never wronged James Ford’s family?
  • Next week’s episode, “Lighthouse,” looks awesome, too. 

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.2

Sorry about last week not having a continuation of the story.  I definitely have not been feeling well, and last week was the first time I haven’t posted original fiction for Writing Wednesdays since I started it, which was in August or something.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this piece.  If you remember correctly, Oscambria had just got caught shoplifting.  As always, you can read the previous posts by following here or here.

--------------------------------------------

XV.

His hands were bound and he was sitting on the floor in a cool room,
Walls bared and blank,
In a lower level of the same store.
Mossossopia was sniffing around,
Likely looking for a crumb of food.
The Hero had no idea how long he’d been waiting,
But it felt like several commercial breaks.

He had offered no resistance against the guard.
Instead of putting up a fight and causing a scene
He simply dropped his shoulders,
Shook his head miserably,
And looked into the eyes of the thick-set man.
He tried to pour sympathy and pity into his stare,
Like a whipped pup, but it had no affect on the man.

The guard took him and the galleyrat out of the storefront,
Scolding him the entire while,
And left him in the holding room,
Telling him someone would be to see him soon.
The room was dim and empty,
Full of nothingness,
And as time wore on it began to unnerve Oscambria.

He was thankful that the tuxedo suit had not been removed,
Else his problems would have increased a hundredfold,
and he’d’ve likely been executed on the spot.
Finally there came a noise outside the door,
That of two men talking;
Mossossopia ran to the door and sniffed the air,
Her purple tongue flashing against the wood.

The Hero braced himself.
He rehearsed what he’d offer as his defense,
That he was starving and sick,
As anyone could tell from his extremely pale skin,
And that he just wanted a bite to eat before he died.
The food wasn’t even for himself, he’d say,
But for his four children, all motherless and sick like he.

He prayed to the Muses a CCCLXXII word monologue.
“Oh wonderful Muses,
help me in this show I’m about to do.
Fill me with a passion even more than what you did for me in ‘Gilgon the Great,’
That whoever comes through that door will have pity on me and Mossy,
That they’ll release us and spare us,
So we might get on with our quest.

“You know my heart.
You know this horrible curse I bear.
You know how I long to perform once again in the Round,
To please you, dear Muses.
Aid me in this role.
Help me fool the one that comes for me,
And I will give you praise for the performance.

“All of my days have I served thee,
eager to assume a character and entertain a crowd,
all for your glory.
Please do not fail me here,
Here in this dead and barren room in this strange city.
Fill my heart, touch my tongue,
And in all I give you praise.

“Remember me in my time of trouble,
Like you did when I first came into your service.
I once was a nervous lad,
Afraid that I would not please you,
But you stilled my soul
And lit my passions on fire,
And ever after how I’ve served with steadfast determination.

“Even Mossy serves you,
of this I’m sure,
as his antics are always full of cuteness and lovability.
Touch him that he, too, will aid me,
That he’ll look with glassy eyes and pity,
That the resolve of our captors will fail
And we will be released soon.

“Since the dawn of the ages you have been there,
helping Man to find his tongue,
remember his lines,
manipulate his body and put on a show for all to see,
all to glorify your selves.
You, oh Muses, have given this world so much,
And yet I ask for more.

“If you find it in your graces, bless me.
May my performance be the fodder for songs for years to come.
May the bards sing how the Muses came to my aid,
The aid of the captured Hero,
And how they rescued him from his stinking holding cell in Sparka.
Everything I do… I do it for you, like Old Bryan Adams.
It’s all for your glory.  Glory.”

He fell silent and concentrated.
He assumed a dejected position against the wall (as best he could)
And summoned tears to his eyes.
“No one alive can withstand my acting,” he whispered,
fighting the urge to smile deviously, fully expecting divine assistance.
It would do no good if someone walked through and saw him in tears,
But smiling like an idiot.

The door opened,
Slow enough that an air of suspense filled the Hero’s lungs.
He closed his eyes and released the tears.
Warm, salty streams trickled down his face.
He prayed one last, silent, short prayer
And steeled himself for the performance.
He opened his eyes and his mind went blank.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why You Should Give Blood

Almost everybody over the age of 17 can donate blood.  However, of those able, only about 5% actually take the time to do so.  In addition to this, 9 out of 10 people will need blood at some time in their life, if they live to be 70.*

I’ve been giving blood since I was 17.  My Google Calendar reminded me that it’s time for me to give again this week.  I’ve never had a need for a transfusion or anything, but I’ve always felt like I should give for those who do.  My blood type is O-negative, and my blood can be used by everybody, regardless of their blood type.  (O-positives, on the other hand, can accept every blood type.  All the other types are stuck with accepting either their own blood type or O-negative.)  Thus, another reason for me to give often.  I estimate that I’ve donated around 2-3 gallons of my blood so far, and all of it has gone to good uses, as opposed to going to vampires.

Blood Type Frequency
The frequency of blood types in America.

There are many valid reasons for why you should give blood, and the most important one is that you’re helping out somebody that needs help.  It is a direct way that you can help save somebody’s life.  Maybe it’s the grandmother during an operation.  Maybe it’s the child that was just hit by a car.  Maybe it’s the man who just sawed his finger off and is bleeding profusely while cursing his ill luck and the day he was born.  Whatever the case, your donated blood will be able to help someone.

Another reason is that you can score some sweet swag.  While this may seem materialistic, and for true it is, there’s more to it than just materialism.  Where else can you get a white tee-shirt with a strange blood design on it for free?  Those shirts are perfect for playing tennis or working out or collecting or donating practicing ironing.  Last time I gave blood, I got a heavy-duty rain-proof parka thing, a calendar, a notebook, a tee-shirt, a set of keys to a brand new car, a little slice of beach front property in Maui, a lifetime supply of chicken lips, and one neon yellow tube sock.  Score!

Still need more reasons to give blood?  Well read on.  Giving blood is the perfect way to look like a macho-man or a fearless-woman.  Who cares that you’re going to get stuck with a needle and get your finger pricked.  The pain is like getting pinched by a 10-year old, short and annoying.  Plus, once it’s over, you can show off your bandage and hit on girls.  “Check out this wound, ladies.  Took a gunshot to the arm while defending a helpless puppy from an evil gang of troubled youths.”  Swoon.  Also, everyone’s required to be nice to you after you give blood; sometimes you even get stickers to demand hugs or kisses for your good deed.

It’s very easy to give blood.  The whole process usually takes around 45 minutes to an hour, and a majority of the time is spent answering questions about your health, travel life, love life, and recent sicknesses.  The questions alone almost make it worth the trip.  If you’ve ever wanted redundant questions asked over and over again, this is your chance.  And after the interrogation, you get your finger pricked to make sure your iron is high enough to donate.  If not, you can’t give, but you can try again later; if your iron is okay, you’re ready for the next step.  You’re then taken to a comfy bed/reclining-thing, an arm is cuffed and pumped like a blood pressure thing, a needle is connected to your arm, and the blood flows. 

Of course, the next-to-the-best reason to give blood is the break you get after giving.  There’s a canteen area with snack cakes and iced sodas and juice.  It’s free.  It’s just a little reward for being a good boy or girl and giving of yourself.  Small children usually are fanning this area with large palm leaves, filling the canteen with their melodic laughter and happiness.  Plus, the pop cans are often the cute little sizes, too!

If you’ve never given blood, then I strongly urge you to do so.  In all seriousness, it really is a great thing to do for yourself, your community, your country, and anybody that’s in need.  There’s almost always a need for blood, and every little bit really does help.  If you’re scared of the needles, don’t be.  I promise, it doesn’t hurt.  If you think you don’t have time, you do.  The procedure’s short.  Just give it a try.  If you’ve never donated before, then this is also a great way to find out your blood type.  Give at a reputable place, like the Red Cross, and everything will be fine.  Read some testimonials and see if it doesn’t make you want to give.

More information on donating can be found at the Red Cross or at your local hospital.

*Information is from the Western Kentucky Regional Blood Center

Monday, February 15, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, A Film Review

I’m sick again.  Or maybe I never got better.  With that, the weekend was crammed full, exhausting, productive, and fun.  Keisha and I went and watched Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief over the weekend for a Valentine’s date, and now I submit my review.

percy_jackson_and_the_olympians_the_lightning_thief_ver3_000 Having not read the book, nor possessing any foreknowledge about the film, I had no real expectations for the movie.  Keisha has read the book and enjoyed it.  She wanted to see the movie.  In short, I think I probably enjoyed it more than her.

The film adaptation was directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed the first two Harry Potter films.  The movie stars Logan Lerman as Percy, Brandon Jackson as Grover, and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth, along with several other celebrities.

The plot of the movie interweaves the modern world with classic Greek gods.  I’ve always been a huge fan of mythology (especially Greek), and I found this mechanism of the film to work well, with a few minor flaws.  Zeus’ lightning bolt of power has been stolen, and he accuses Poseidon of having his son to steal it.  Poseidon gets all indignant and says “No way, dude.  You got it all wrong.”  Zeus tells him that if the bolt isn’t returned by the summer solstice (wince!) then there will be a war between the gods.

Cut to Percy Jackson, a normal, everyday high school loner.  He’s grown up without a dad.  He’s angry and smart-mouthed.  He only finds peace while he’s in the water.  But then one day, on a class field trip, something goes terribly wrong.  A series of events leads Percy to a secluded camp for half-bloods, the offspring of a god and mortal, and his life will never be the same.

I thought the movie was fun and entertaining.  The light-hearted feel made for a pleasurable viewing experience.  The blending of Greek gods in our world made for fun watching.  The story wasn’t grandiose or even amazing, but it was entertaining, so that’s really all that matters.  I can definitely see how children would love the movie.

Flaw wise, I thought some of the acting was poor, and the villain was easy to peg from the get-go.  Some of the special effects were awesome (Hades was pretty cool), and others not so much (Pierce Brosnan’s centaur body was weird).  The gods weren’t how I would picture them, and there didn’t seem to be as many as there should be.  Keisha, on the other hand, said that the book and movie were quite different on several occasions, and this was a big flaw for her.

Overall, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief was a fun movie, but one that would be more fun for children or people who haven’t read the book.

Random Bits & Pieces

  • We also rented and watched Surrogates over the weekend, which I thought was pretty cool, both plot-wise and effects-wise.
  • Taxes turned out much better than I thought.
  • More snow here.  It started yesterday around noon and hasn’t stopped yet. 
  • Church was good yesterday.  And by that I mean worship.
  • Why am I getting spam, even with CAPTCHA enabled?
  • I hope I get feeling better soon.  My stomach is a clenched fist, my nose a runny mess, my eyes a swamp.  Ugh.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Fog Comes on Little Cat Feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
                   ----Carl Sandburg

Yes, it’s a foggy, snow strewn day today.  Cold, but warming.  An altogether pleasant looking day, from inside, that is.  Puts in mind something like this:

image Ah, how I love Calvin & Hobbes.  Especially the snowmen strips.  Those are some of the best.  I have all the collections, and on wintry days, I like to peruse through the strips and laugh all over again.

I’ve a busy, busy weekend lined up.  My city no longer offers passport applications, and the nearest place we could find was 40 miles North.  So, we’re going to turn in our applications tomorrow morning at 9:00, and hopefully be outta there soon after.  Then we’ve got an appointment to do our taxes, which I do in a town 30 miles south of my house.  Lots of driving for those two things.

After that, though, we’re free to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Not sure exactly what we’re going to do other than eat and go watch Percy Jackson, but we’ll think of something.  For the rest of you, have a happy weekend, whether it’s with your valentine or not. 

I’m not sure how many of you like poetry, but this is one of my favorite poems.  It’s by Craig Raine, called “A Martian Sends A Postcard Home.”  It’s beautiful.  It’s mysterious.  The first time I read it, when I finished, I immediately re-read it, trying to figure out what was meant.  I think I figured it all out.

 

“A Martian Sends A Postcard Home”

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings --

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the property of making colours darker.

Model T is a room with the lock inside --
a key is turned to free the world

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone's pain has a different smell.

At night when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves --
in colour, with their eyelids shut.

Yes, it’s one of those days with poetry in them.  One of those where you see the beauty and bright lights of life in everything.  One of those days where nothing can go wrong.  One of those snot-draining, mucus tasting, stomach-churning days.

Did you read the poem?  Did you “solve” it?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Toilet-Bowl Swirl of Thoughts

Racism will never end as long as we use the identifying label “Race.”  Why are racial statistics even aggregated?  It seems counter-productive to me.

I’ve lost most of my interest in Oblivion.  Truly, the most fun I’ve had has been doing the quests for the Dark Brotherhood and the Thieves Guild.  For some reason, the main quest just isn’t that attractive any more.

I bought a PS3, and it came with Dragon Age and Dante’s Inferno.  I’m selling my XBOX, which I bought less than 2.5 months ago, and definitely Dante’s Inferno, cause that just looks stupid. 

I love hot tea.  My friend from Iran introduced me to hot tea a few years ago and I’ve loved it ever since.  Boiling a pot and making a cup from fresh tea leaves is the way to go, but sometimes it’s an instant-tea day.

Google Wave.  Google Buzz.  Google Reader.  Gmail.  Google.  Google Calendar.  Picassa.  Dang.

Area of a full flowing circular pipe, A, is equal to
                       A=(πD2)/4

Area of a partially full flowing circular pipe, with the height of the water, Yo, over halfway full, is equal to
            A=(1/8)[2(π-arccos((Yo-r)/r)-sin(2(π-arccos((Yo-r)/r)))]D2

Area of Kentucky is equal to 40,409 sq. mi.

I’m about a third of the way into Best Served Cold.  Abercrombie sure knows how to write, that’s for sure.

In all, we got around 6-8” of snow or so from the other day.

Valentines Day draws near. 

I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell.  No, seriously.  But I am getting better.  Maybe when I do I’ll have something better to say.  Something that makes more sense.  Cause really, if you boiled this post down, the only thing worth saying was the top point.  The rest is just chaff.  Worthless chaff.

If you don’t have anything meaningful to say, then keep your mouth shut.  Yeah…

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lost Rehash S6.3: What Kate Does

(Sorry for the short post today, folks.  I'm not feeling too well, but I still wanted to try and put something up.  By all means, let the comments pour in like they did last week.)

I don't know about you all, but I didn't think this episode was as spectacular as last weeks.  Perhaps this was from my dislike of Kate, although I admit she's growing (ever so slightly) on me.  But the most interesting thing about the episode was definitely the Sickness that seems to have infected Claire (surprise!) and Sayid.  The mechanics of the disease aren't well known, but apparently it makes a person mentally unstable or dangerous or some other internal change.  The official Lost podcast says that the Sickness makes people go crazy.

Personally, I think this is an interesting twist in the story.  What has happened to Claire?  She reminded me of Rousseau, all wild-eyed and crazy-haired.  She looked like she meant business.  And it's clear from the beginning of the show that the writers knew where they were going with the disease.  Perhaps there was truth in the Dharma Initiative giving shots to their new recruits.  Maybe the pregnancy problem is related to the disease.  Did the crew of the Kahana, especially Keamy, show affects of the disease?  How many people have been "claimed?"  Was John Locke taken early in the show when he was dragged into a hole by Smokie?

I know this opens a whole list of questions, but it also provides plenty of insight, too.  When rewatching the entire series I think it'll be evident to see where the Sickness has came into play with certain characters.

Thoughts and Opinions
  • For the Flash-Sideways, I liked seeing Ethan again.  For some reason he reminds me of Nathan Filion.  I thought the Kate-Claire relationship worked well, and they now have a connection made off the Island.
  • How fitting that the Iraqi torturer got tortured.
  • I missed seeing Ben, Richard, and the fake John Locke.
  • Sawyer's loss was well done.  His deep sense of guilt and sadness was portrayed perfectly by Josh Halloway, and I really enjoyed the scene on the pier.
Next week's episode looks much better, and while I didn't think "What Kate Does" was amazing, it was somewhat revealing, and I look forward to seeing how the Sickness plays out.

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria (A Portrait of Mossy)

So I didn't go into work today.  Still unwell, as it is.  However, I left my flash drive at work yesterday, which has the entire epic on it.  Usually I try to take a few minutes and prep these posts in advance, but I didn't get to it this week.  Thus, today there is no continuation of the story.  The tale is written, but it will have to wait until the next episode of Writing Wednesdays.  I do have a sketch of a still-young Mossossopia to share, though, so hopefully that's worth something.  That's Gastron and the moon in the sky, too.

If you've not read any of The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria, then this is a great chance for you to catch up.  Click here or here to read what's written up to now.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mood Setting

Last night.  Big, flaky white chunks, mixed with drizzling rain and a cold, cold wind.  The black roads and the white dandruff blended together and made an ugly, brown mess of dangerous colors.  The trees bore the weight of the snow, minutely bending from the additional forces.  The dead, flavescent grass was buried by the cold mass, softly covered up by a giant, endless blanket of white.

Last night.  It began with a tickle in the back of my throat, not painful, but not pleasurable.  My eyes burned and watered, an oxymoron too true to doubt.  The dry, barren desert of my face begged for moisture, anything other than the leaky eyes, but I gave it none.  The tickle turned into an annoyance, a roadblock in my throat.  Sleep, thought I, and things will be better.  But Sleep was no friend to me.  The man came not readily with his dust of dreams, and when he did arrive, he sprinkled too little on my eyes.  I awoke sometime in the hazy hours, with my throat on fire and a cough in my chest.  Sleep…

Morning.  Snow is a lonely and cold thing.  How easily can its blanket smother?  Verily, the blanket itself provides no warmth, only faux comfort and shivering bones.  With it comes death.  A ceasing of existence for things caught beneath the deadly sheet of white.  Somehow, though, there’s a type of beauty in it.  A magnificence from the blinding sunlight reflecting.  The uncorrupted and undisturbed mounds and their sense of serenity.  The spherical men, made from loving hands and happy hearts.

Now.  A rubbing blob of red discomfort, reminding me with every swallow that it’s still there.  Tired, heavy eyes.  A dry, dry nose.  A face that feels like paper.  A lack of respect for Sleep and his selfishness.  A nice, hot cup of Earl Grey would be welcomed with open hands and a happy heart.

Monday, February 08, 2010

On Bandwagons/Facebook

I’ve never been one of those people who jump on bandwagons.  That’s not to say that I haven’t (or that I don’t), but I think it’s a rarity.  I’ve walked my own path in life, even if (and when) it makes me a bit (or a lot) weird.  I try to be original, and I attribute this to my artistic nature.  I don’t want to emulate (though I can’t help but emulate some singers’ voices) artists; I want to be my own.

Let us consider the clothes that are in my closet.  I have a large collection of Hawaiian shirts.  I’m not sure if these shirts have ever been in style, but for some reason, I’ve always liked them.  Looking further at my closet you’ll find plenty of STAR WARS shirts.  Again, not sure about they style they offer, but I like them.  In fact, unless the situation really calls for it, I don’t care whether or not I match (gasp!) when I dress myself.  I almost never brush or comb my hair, or what’s left of it.  Again, I walk my own path in life.

I go out of my way to not listen to current, popular music, unless I myself think it sounds good.  I don’t get in to all those reality television shows, or half of the other crap on the tube, either.  Books I’m not so picky on, just as long as the plot is entertaining.  I’m proud to say that I don’t have a Twitter account, and frankly, I have no real idea what it is.  I don’t have an iPhone.  I don’t text message.  I don’t do LSD and sniff cocaine off a coffee table.  What I do have, though, is a Facebook account.

Yes, that is a bandwagon I hopped on.  Back during my freshman year of college a little program came out called thefacebook.com.  It was solely for college students, where they could keep up with one another, message each other, make some friends, and write on their walls.  That’s about it, I think.  I thought it would be a good way for me to stay in contact with some high school friends (hahahahaha…) and some college friends.  The world was fine.

Then evolution happened.  Facebook opened doors to high school students, then to corporations and companies, and then to anybody that wanted to get on there, just as long as they said they were over the age of 13.  A cornucopia full of applications suddenly appeared.  Ads exploded on the sidebars.  The GUI went through several changes, and each one brought complaints.  The few million college users turned into a 350 million active worldwide users, and things will never be the same.

I’ve wanted to get off Facebook for a while now.  Probably something like a year or two.  I strongly dislike the applications and quizzes, and whenever anybody sends me one, I immediately block it.  I don’t care, nor do I want to know, what Suzy Q’s doing right now.  I don’t play games on Facebook, nor do I want to.  The only things I like about it is looking at pictures and mirroring my blog as a note.  While I said it would be great to keep in touch with my college and high school friends via Facebook, there are really only a handful of folks that I keep in touch with, and I have their emails.

But it’s hard to let it go now.  The world has changed so much, and many of my interests are now on Facebook.  Businesses, churches, etc. incorporate Facebook into their lifestyle now.  Fan pages exist, making it seem like you’re a “friend” of somebody/something special.  Ugh.  The whole market-system of it all sickens me.

Have I mentioned I hate applications?  Yes, I believe I did, but I think it deserves another mention.  I hate applications.  I won’t answer strange questions to poorly correlate me to see which character I’m most like from Mork & Mindy or Three’s Company.  I refuse to accept your cute puppy thing you’ve sent me.  I consider myself your friend, but I won’t take your Top Friend’s quiz thing.

I’ve sufficiently exhausted myself and rekindled my burning desire to extinguish my Facebook account.  It’s been active for five years.  I’ve enjoyed some of my time on Facebook, but I’ve been frustrated by it, too.  (Drama should not exist online.)  Who knows.  Maybe I’ll finally manage to pull a Facebook suicide and rid myself of this plague on humanity.  Or maybe I’ll start playing FarmVille and the world will explode.

Random Bits & Pieces

  • I accidentally stabbed myself with a kitchen knife over the weekend.
  • I watched the entire second half of the Super Bowl and I enjoyed it.
    • I’ve never watched football before.
  • I ate from a delicious chocolate fondue last night.
  • DeVotchKa is a pretty sweet band.
  • I laughed and laughed and laughed at this video, “The World’s Most Generic News Report.”  [WARNING: It’s got a few worty dirds in it.  But only a few.  And it’s very, very funny.]

Friday, February 05, 2010

Green, A Review (May Contain Spoilers)

ted_dekker_green Green is a prequel and/or a sequel to Ted Dekker's The Circle series. To me, I can't consider it a prequel, as there is too much extra information that would have me feeling lost without having first read the other books. That said, I have read Black, Red, White, Showdown, Chosen, and Infidel, and I enjoyed the original trilogy immensely.

I was excited to learn that Green was coming out, eager to dive back into the life of Thomas Hunter. While Thomas is a main protagonist of this book, he's not the only POV character, and (at times) I felt like the story suffered some because of this.

The book takes place ten years after White. The Circle is suffering. They've been hunted and hounded by the Horde for too long. Their resolve is failing. Many are struggling to follow the command from Elyon, to love the Horde. All are beginning to doubt the existence of Elyon and wonder if he's forsaken them. When Samuel, Thomas of Hunter's son, decides to take up arms against the Horde, Thomas decides to issue a challenge to Elyon, hoping to prove to everyone that he still cares.

Meanwhile, back on earth (2000 years in the past), a strange man walks into Raison Pharmaceuticals and proclaims he has a strange power: the ability to read minds. He wants to travel to Thomas' world and demands the man's blood. Events unfold that will leave both worlds shaking.

The story of Green is about the end of all things, as well as the beginning. Throughout the novel, Dekker alludes to Christian theology (Great Romance, drowning, etc.), offering that the faith and hope of the Circle is the only good. Teelah's power and influence is prevalent and taking over the world, similar to earth today. For the most part, I really enjoy the symbolism and allusions.

For the most part.

There was one large element that didn't quite fit with the theology, in my opinion. The idea of reincarnation. The idea of a second chance. When the Battle of Migdon climaxes and everything ends, I felt let down. Not only was the battle hastily written (and slightly confusing), the aftermath was unexpected. Christian theology was replaced with something akin to Hinduism. Thus, a unsatisfying and predictable ending was thrown in the book.

Overall, I liked the story, but it fails to capture the power and originality the original trilogy held. I felt like some scenes were rushed or pointless, as were some characters. I felt like Dekker dropped the ball at the end. Our life is a one-chance deal, and I think thinking otherwise could be dangerous to a Christian mindset.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson publishing house free to me.

Random Bits and Pieces

  • New Fallout: New Vegas trailer available here.  Coming this Fall!
  • Rain, rain, rain today.  Grey, grey, grey.
  • Busy weekend ahead.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Film Review + Amusing Photos

Today I thought I knew what I wanted to post about.  I had it in my head (and it’s really already written) to post my review of Ted Dekker’s Green.  But for some reason, I’m just not feeling it.  Instead I have a brief post for today.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that fellow blogger Mattson Tomlin was giving away another free DVD to four people.  I’ve been Following Mattson’s blog for quite a few months now, interested in seeing his ideas develop and come to life.  He blogs about various aspects of directing and creating a film, from the perspective of a young SUNY Purchase student, and occasionally posts a finished product.  I recently received and watched the DVD in its entirety, which is composed of three separate short-films: Solomon Grundy, (i), and Until the Sky Falls.

Solomon Grundy is an interpretation of the classic English nursery rhyme, “Solomon Grundy.”  Jimmy is young and nervous and he has a dark side.  He tries to keep it in, but he’s not always successful.  And when it shows itself, bad things tend to happen.  I’ve liked the “Solomon Grundy” rhyme ever since reading Batman: The Long Halloween, so I was eager to see Mattson’s interpretation. 

The film is well shot, the acting is solid, the script is great, and the plot is interesting (if a bit predictable).  I found it refreshing to see this up-and-coming director’s take.  The only problem I had was I felt that the build-up to the climax was a bit too long, but considering the film is only 7:31 in length, I understand.  If you’d like to watch Solomon Grundy, click here to head over to YouTube.

The next film, (i), was a film experimenting with technology.  Mattson wanted to shoot an invisible man piece.  He blogged about his “how to” do this here, which is even more interesting after having watched the film.  (i) was the weakest film of the three, but it was cool seeing the technology used come to life.  The acting was great, though I felt the digitalization was a bit shaky at times (certain backgrounds, etc.)  Overall, though, I liked watching the brief film, and I would likely watch a full film of this feature.

The last film was the longest (around 20 minutes) and best on the DVD.  Until the Sky Falls is a dystopic, post-apocalyptic silent film.  The video style and look of the film was pretty sweet.  I’m not sure if it’s because it was filmed using 16mm film or if there was some type of editing, but I really liked it.  It definitely added to the theme of the movie.  The plot itself was also very interesting, especially since it was told using no words.  The acting was superb and I’d like to see more like this.  You can see more about this film on Mattson’s blog around April-June of 2009.

In the end, I really enjoyed this small DVD.  I’ve liked watching Mattson’s work and progress.  I don’t know him at all outside of the blogosphere, but I think he’ll be going places with what he does.  He’s currently fundraising on Kickstarter to try and film more in the Solomon Grundy world.  If you’d like, throw some support his way.  I’m sure he’d appreciate it.  You can check out his studio website at www.wackeychan.com.

-----------------

As some of you know, I’m going on a cruise in May.  We don’t necessarily have to have our passport for the cruise, but it’d be much easier if we did.  So Keisha and I went and had our Passport photos taken.  There were some strict rules to getting those photos.  Ears had to show.  Face had to be just right.  Look natural.  Don’t smile.

Well, after paying $15 for both photos, I was expecting something awesome.  Instead, we wound up with two mug shots.  Neither of us look happy.  “I’m so mad that I’m going on a cruise.”  “I know.  It’s awful.”  Anyway, take a look and see for yourself.  And by all means, DON’T TURN US IN!

WANTED

By the way, I took a lot of that wording from the actual wanted posters stemming from President Lincoln’s assassination.  Of course, a few things were changed…

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

LOST Rehash S6.1&2: LA X

A few things before this series starts. 
  1. These posts will all contain spoilers to the previously aired episodes.
  2. If you’d like to comment (and I sincerely hope you will, or discussion with myself may get old) or share something, please do so here on my blog, as opposed to the Facebook share.  Just click here to go to the blog.
  3. Everything is conjecture and up for play.
  4. THESE POSTS WILL ALL CONTAIN SPOILERS.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope we get some good discussion.
LostSupper Like many folks, I’ve been waiting for several months to the premier of the final season, wondering where the show was going to go.  Back at the end of Season 3, when the first Flashforward (FF) occurred, I postulated that perhaps the show would converge to the present for the final season.  It made sense.  Flashbacks (FB) leading up to a present point in time, Flashforwards showing where things would go and slowly making their way backwards to a present point in time, would eventually meet.  That meeting, along with the Season 5 time travel mechanism, created an alternate reality, or a Flashsideways (FS).  I didn’t suspect an alternate reality, I don’t think, but I like the idea.
Recap
“LA X” begins with the FS, with Jack Shephard sitting on Oceanic 815, brooding over the death of his father or daydreaming.  For the most part, all the other Losties are there, too, heading from Sydney to LA.  The plane arrives with a few minor incidents: Charlie gets arrested after Jack saves his life from swallowing a bag full of heroin, Hurley talks about his good luck at winning the lottery and Sawyer eyes him as a target, John Locke sits in his wheel-chair and dreams of what could’ve been, and Kate is in handcuffs.  By the end of the FS, Kate has escaped from the Marshal, Jack’s father’s coffin has vanished, and Jack and John Locke have formed the start of a relationship.
On the island things are a bit more chaotic.  After the hydrogen bomb exploded the Losties time traveled back to the present.  Sayid is bleeding to death and needs help.  The ghost of Jacob appears and tells Hurley that the only way to help him is to take him to the Temple.  At the Swan station site, Juliet is pinned under the rubble and crying for help.  Eventually Sawyer makes his way to free her and she dies (heartbreakingly) in his arms.  Miles gets the cryptic message from her: “It worked.”  The Losties all make it to the Temple, where Sayid is put in the bubbling, healing waters.  The Temple folk tell them that there are consequences and risks to the procedure, but they do it anyway.  Sayid dies and everyone despairs, unsure what to do.  They learn that Jacob is dead, at which point a flare is sent off and dust is sprinkled around the perimeter.
Back at the Statue, Jacob’s counterpart (whom I like to call Esau, or the Man in Black), sends Ben to get Richard Alpert.  Ben is shown John Locke’s dead body and he realizes that he’s been duped into killing Jacob.  Jacob’s protectors rush into the statue and attack Not-John Locke, who turns into the smoke monster and kills them all.  Not-John Locke walks out onto the beach, confronts Richard, and knocks him unconscious.  He tells everyone that he’s very disappointed in them all and says he’s going home.
Thoughts and Opinions

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this episode.  Alternate reality is a staple in comic books, so I’m fine with the possibilities.  I’m eager to see how the Losties pitiful lives off the island will play out.  Likely they’ll lead to despair and hopelessness?  But the question is which reality is the real reality?

  • I’ve always liked John Locke.  His faith was a staple to the show.  Hearing Esau talk of how sad and confused he was, as Ben strangled him, was touching.  But what could Locke’s special role be with the Island?  Jacob traveled and touched him, so he has to have a purpose.

  • The vast amount of Egyptian culture at the Temple (and on the rest of the Island) was pretty cool.  Even the music playing sounded fitting.

  • I’m guessing when Young Ben was shot (by Sayid) and taken to the Others and Richard said that they could heal him, but there’d be consequences, that he’d never be the same, that they submerged him in the healing waters?  What were the consequences?  And what happened to Sayid?  Did you notice his voice at the end?

  • I liked Charlie saying “I was supposed to die.”  It was good to see him again.

  • Ben is still one of my favorite characters.  He obviously felt remorse for killing Jacob (or confusion at the least), wondering why the man didn’t fight back.  Hopefully redemption comes for the wayward man.

  • Esau being the smoke monster was a cool idea.  It’s interesting to think back on the interactions from Smokie and everyone.  It killed Eko, the French science team, and many others.

  • The next episode is called “What Kate Does.”
Thanks for reading, everybody.  Let’s hear what I forgot or what you liked/disliked.

Writing Wednesdays: The Absurdly Epic Tragedy of Oscambria 2.1

This is the first Canto of Book Two of this crazy adventure, wherein a bridge is crossed, a meal is had, and a thief is born.  You can read the first 13 Cantos in blog form here or in one long webpage here.  Also, if there’s any questions or confusion on names, the second site has a few links that will help.  Above all, enjoy.

-------------

Book Two: The Roaming Years

XIV.
The days passed without incident,
And truthfully the Hero found himself bored more than once.
He was far enough away from the caravan to keep a long eye on it.
He recognized the beautiful woman who’d stolen his heart,
The stooped blind man who’d taken him on,
And the silent, troubled youth;
seeing them so close was painful.

He wondered how long he’d been absent from Athins,
How long it had been since he’d been cursed,
But he could not guess.
He scratched at his face,
Covered with rough and unkempt patches of hair,
And once again wished he’d a blade sharp enough to shave.
If a god heard his wish, it went ungranted.

The Hero was wearing thin,
Exhausted and hungry.
Disadvantaged at having only his legs to carry him,
The wagon was always far ahead of him,
And since drivers changed on rotation,
They only had to stop for the horses to rest,
Which wasn’t frequently enough for the tired Hero.

Eventually the woods ended
and Oscambria knew they were near the Crossing.
He also knew that he’d be more exposed,
But there was little he could do about that.
Soon the Crossing was in full view,
Its mighty span crossing the whole of the Long Leg,
Ancient and impressive.

“Look at it, Mossy,” said the Hero in awe.
He’d never looked upon the old bridge,
And the site took his breath away.
Built in a time when the gods were more involved,
From the hands of both Man and God,
The bridge reflected brilliant light off its prismatic surface,
A serene and beautiful piece of practical art.

The wagon was well on the other side of the river,
Moving on toward Sparka,
By the time Oscambria made his way onto the bridge.
Made from a strong type of clear crystal,
The trek across the span would appear as if you were on air,
If not for the rainbow of lights
And the occasional milky spots of imperfection.

Slowly and cautiously,
Oscambria made his way across.
He tried not to think about the churning river below,
Or the long emptiness that separated him from the water.
The Crossing had stood for years,
And the weight of a cursed actor and a galleyrat wouldn’t break it.
Still, he tried not to worry.

Slightly more queasy than before,
He reached the end of the bridge without incident.
The wagon was too far ahead,
Appearing like an ant in the distance.
Sparka was still a few days away,
And anything could happen between then,
But Oscambria had no way of catching up.

The caravan would be on its own.
He’d abandoned his short post as a hired blade,
Leaving them to defend themselves in case of problems,
As if there was something he’d have been able to do.
The best he could hope for was to try and see them to Sparka,
And once there,
He’d collect supplies and head on to Feoga.

The days slipped by,
Melting into each other,
Indistinct and uneventful.
When he could sleep,
His dreams were filled with terrors and doubts,
Which was only slightly worse than being unable to sleep
Due to the pain and emptiness in his stomach.

Before he knew it he was in Sparka,
Wand’ring the streets and looking all the foreigner.
Many of the townsfolk eschewed the strangely clothed Hero,
Eyeing the tuxedo suit and galleyrat with mixed curiosity.
Not all, though.
Some complimented him on his attire,
But Oscambria knew not how to respond.

He laughed at the situation,
Wond’ring how the citizens would react if they knew the man
Beneath the outfit was the exiled and cursed Oscambria of Athins.
Or did they even know of his curse?
Had news yet spread?  How long had it been?
Whether they knew of Oscambria’s doom or not,
He knew they would recognize the curse without the suit.

He had no coin and no means which to procure sustenance,
And he dared not try to steal anything so soon.
He stumbled into a grey clad man.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized hastily,
pulling at his clothes and looking away.
“It’s no bother, friend,” he replied sincerely.
Oscambria turned to go when he felt a hand fall on his shoulder.

“You look like you could use some help,”
continued the stranger,
“and I think I could offer you some,
if you’d take it.
Can I get you and your friend,”
He pointed down at Mossossopia,
“a bite to eat?”

“Can a mouse find its way through a maze for some cheese?”
asked the Hero, his stomach taking over his tongue.
“Can a dog lick its backside?
Yes, man!  I’d love some food, a juicy, tasty, meal,
If it’d please you.”
The stranger looked more than confused at the uncommon choice of words,
But he smiled and stuck out his hand anyway.

“I’m Eidan, an Oracle of Juma,
And while I can’t get you a steak,
I can get you a fine burgermeat sandwich.”
The Oracle led them to a small bistro
—Michelangelo Donaldolla’s, or Micky D’s for short—
And ordered two combo meals,
Chatting away with a pleasant voice.

“I’ve made it my purpose in life to serve Juma,
To spread peace and compassion all across the lands,
As deemed holy and good by the God of Peace.
Here in Sparka there’s a flock of us that follow the Great Lamb.
We make it our business to help out all in need,
From the ragged and wretched to the lost and weary traveler,
Even if he is oddly dressed.

“Juma gives peace to all,
We who do not deserve his love,
And his grace is never ending.”
The Oracle continued speaking,
But the Hero lost attention in the words,
Instead occupying his time looking around the bistro,
Staring at the other patrons waiting in line.

A family with a crying babe.
An old croon, bent with age.
A dirty boy with a bag full of coins.
Arca.
Oscambria jumped in his seat,
Ducking behind the Oracle
And causing the speaker to stumble.

“Dear man, you gave me a fright.
Is there something a-matter?”
The silent youth appeared not to notice the commotion
And Oscambria lurched his eyes back to Eidan.
“No, no.  Nothing’s wrong, just…”
The Oracle turned to follow the Hero’s stare.
“What are you looking at?”

“Nothing!  I just thought that I recognized someone, that’s all.
Wrong person though.”
The lie seemed to please the man,
And Eidan launched back into his sermon.
If Arca saw the Hero he did not act,
Much to Oscambria’s thankfulness.
Nonetheless, he kept the boy in the corner of his vision.

“And that is the truth of the matter,” finished Eidan,
Taking a long drink from his cup.
“What about you?”
The question caught the Hero off guard,
And he wasn’t sure how to answer.
“Me?  Wh-what about me?”
The Oracle furrowed his brow.

“Who do you serve?
You’re not one of those new pagans are you?
Full on belief that the gods no longer exist?”
Oscambria chuckled softly.
“No, of course not.  I serve the gods,
Same as anyone with a brain.”
He watched Arca take a table and order.

“Good, good.  And who—”
The waiter returned,
Setting a platter of two burgermeat sandwiches down before them.
The aroma of the food was enough to make the Hero’s stomach moan,
Loud like a dying dog on a lonely, cold, and moonless night,
Howling at the ink black sky in defiance or despair.
“Dear Juma, was that your innards making that noise?”

Oscambria blushed, but he didn’t care.
He picked up a sandwich and began eating,
Sharing bites with Mossossopia.
The meal was finished in silence,
With only the soft din of cutlery on plates making any noise.
The Hero leaned back in his chair,
Content and full.

In the sweet afterglow of the meal
the Hero’s eyes wandered to find Arca.
They fell upon the lad,
Who was staring intently at Oscambria,
His mouth half-opened and his young brow wrinkled.
The Hero felt his face grow white.
Arca’s eyes grew hard and his lips formed a thin line.

Thinking fast, the Hero doubled over,
Feigning pain.
“Forgive me, Eidan,
but this burgermeat seems to disagree with me.
Long has it been since I’ve had such a meal,
And the food perhaps was too much.  I thank you for your kindness,
And may Juma bless you.”

Oscambria rushed from the table,
Mossossopia fast on his heels,
And took off running.
He ran for the bath-house district,
But turned aside to an alley before he entered.
He breathed heavily, hoping Arca had stayed back,
And continued running.

‘Ere long he was lost.
Sparka wasn’t a large city,
But it was a foreign city,
Filled with winding streets that formed a labyrinth to those unfamiliar.
Tired, he leaned back against a wall and panted.
The curse, it seemed,
Also drained him of his stamina at a quicker rate.

He was in the market district,
Evidenced by the plethora of carts and vendors,
Shops and stores,
And the throng of people.
“A perfect place to get lost,” thought he.
“I’ll have to steal some supplies, Mossy, as much as I don’t want to,
and then we’ll get out of here.”

He turned and entered the closest store,
A moderate sized building filled with denizens.
Stocked fruits and nuts lined the walls.
A gaggle of women cooed over some exotic dresses.
Oscambria cast a quick glance about the room
And quickly stuffed a few goods of food into his tuxedo suit,
Sweating and hoping the act went smooth and unnoticed.

If anything, though, the strange outfit made him stand out,
Like a black speck on a white sheet of parchment,
But if anyone saw his deed they kept their mouth shut.
He sighed in relief,
Glad to have picked such a busy store.
“Come on Mossy,” he said,
and turned right into the path of a scowling guard.