Musings on the Apocolypse: A Love Story (part 2)

I think I’ve been here for about fifteen minutes now. Honest, I wouldn’t lie to you. I’ve had enough time here to, quietly and with much ducking, move aside the sharper rocks and make a bit more room for my less-than-ample posterior to rest comfortably in the dust. It’s actually not that bad once you get used to it, but, admittedly, my legs are going to sleep. “Hey,” I shout over the rock that is my cover, tilting my head a bit, “Your legs going to sleep, too?”

My enquiry is met with silence. Go figure. I don’t actually expect him to reply — “You shot it off.”

Oh. I didn’t expect that.

“What,” I shout back.
“My leg,” he replies for, yes, it is definitely a masculine voice. Could always be a bearded lady, radiation does wonderful things, but I doubt it. “You shot it off. It’s lying over there.”

I risk a peak around the rock, careful in case he tries a potshot at me, and I see that yes, indeed, his leg is lying a good distance from where he’s set up. “Well,” I reply, “that’s unfortunate.”

“Unfortunate? Un-fucking-fortunate,” he screams back, “You’re a fucking sociopath, you know that? You could have just killed me, but no, you had to make me suffer.”

“To be fair,” I said, as I lean back against the wall and try to find a warm spot, “You were running. I had to make sure you didn’t escape.”

There is more silence. Wonder how long it’ll take until he bleeds out. “You,” he replies, a little more quietly, “You have a point.”

“I know I do.” This is one of those moments that really defines who you are in life. If this were a video game, it would define how other characters respond to you through the rest of the game. A life-changing moment, really, that rests entirely on one word. “Prick.”

More silence. “Yeah,” he responds, eventually, almost inaudible due to how quietly he says it, “Yeah I suppose I am. Sorry for the third degree.”

I laugh, he laughs, the reader laughs, we all laugh, really. We’re laughing because it’s been a while since anyone was really ‘burned’. The global temperature dropped drastically after the war, and most electronics broke. Flamethrowers were never really popular in the first place, and so few of them remain that they’ve gone into myth and legend. You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. There is actually a legend about Brian the Baker, a man with a flamethrower whose heat is so intense that he can turn anything into bread, including people and small reptiles. Everything else just sort of gets hot. “You ever hear of Brian the Baker?”

“No.”

“Oh.” Uneducated slob. “So what now?”

“Well,” he replies after a pause, “You could always come out.”

“Yeah,” I say, adjusting my rifle, “But if I do you’re liable to shoot me.”

“Have to admit, the idea crossed my mind.”

“Will you?”

“Probably.”

“Oh. That’s nice.”

More waiting. I can already tell there’s going to be a lot of that. “So,” I say, moving my rifle down in to my hands, “If I can’t come out without getting shot, do you want to come out?”

“Will you shoot me?”

I think about lying, I really do. But he told me the truth when I asked him, so I consider it rude not to return the favor. “Yeah,” I reply, sighing, “Yeah I would.”

“Huh.” Oddly enough he didn’t sound upset. “I suppose,” he begins, stammering a bit, as though working through a complex idea, “I suppose… I suppose that if… I suppose that if we come out together, we’ll just shoot each other?”

Drop head, lower rifle, sigh, continue, “That is a likely turn of events, yes.”

“So we… Shouldn’t do that either.”

“No. No we shouldn’t do that.”

More silence. I can’t take it any more. “So I suppose we’re at an impasse.”

“An im-what?”

“An impasse.”

“There’s not a road for twenty clicks.”

I turn my head to look at the entrance of the square, which I had kept meticulously clean and inviting to goad anyone with a lot of supplies to enter without a care in the world. The arch hung between two buildings over the entrance framed the road just beyond quite nicely. “How long,” I begin, “Is a click?”

“Bout two miles, by my watch.”

“Huh. So, what, twenty clicks is forty miles?”

“I guess, though arithmetic were never my strong suit.”

“Doesn’t matter, an impasse has nothing to do with a road.”

“Yeah it does,” he replies, “Look, I can tells that you’re not really educated, and that’s alright. You know what an overpass is, right?”

Admittedly I have an inkling of where this is going, but I wish I didn’t. “Yes,” I reply, hesitantly.

“Well look. An overpass is what happens when one road is above another one, like a bridge. An impasse, through a compary-son, is a road that goes under another road. See? Easy as that.”

The apocolypse has made people stupid, I keep telling you. “Pretty sure that’s an underpass.”

The man snorts, “An’ I’m pretty sure you ain’t the brightest tool in the chest.”

“You ever hear of mixed metaphors?”

“Yeah but I don’t have any steel on me.”

Wait, what? How does that even — oh. Metaphors. Metal-phors. Mixed metal-phors. Alloys. If he was smart, I’d think it was a clever little joke. “Whatever, look, you ever pick up a dictionary?”

“Yessir, my place of education had one.”

“Cool, so you know how one word can have different meanings sometimes?”

“Yeah, like they’re.”

I want to kill him. “Yeah, like their. So an impasse can also be a quandary.”

“There’s no stone for fifty clicks.”

I slap my hand to my face strong enough that it actually hurts a bit. Apparently he also heard it, “You okay over there? Hate for you to be hurt.”

“I’m fine,” I mumble through my fingers, “Just trying to squash a fly.”

“Oh,” he replies. There’s more silence, followed by, “I had a flyswatter once.”

“I’m sure you did. Look, a quandary is not a quarry.”

The man laughs. “An’ I’m pretty sure you need a good schooling.”

I have had enough. Roaring, I leap over my rock and bum-rush his hiding spot, screaming at the top of my lungs, bullets be damned. My mouth is open so wide I could probably eat anything he shoots at me, but as that would be counter-productive to life I swerve, moving in a serpentine fashion to avoid him drawing a bead on me, until I’m only ten feet away. Perfect. I throw caution to the wind and run straight at the rock, when my roaring begins to quiet. There haven’t been any shots.

I close the last five feet between to the rock by walking, my breathing a bit heavy from the physical exertion of my mad-dash. Still no shots. Eventually I get to the rock. “You still there,” I ask, voice a bit hoarse.

“Er, yeah.”

“Why didn’t you shoot me?”

“Can’t.”

Curious, I rest my right arm on the rock and lean over. What I see is a man in a gas mask, seriously I don’t know why they do that, staring back at me, pistol in hand. “You do know,” I begin, “That that, right there, right in your hand, is a gun. You probably can’t even miss at this distance.”

His voice, from this distance, sounds a bit distorted by the mask, I didn’t notice before. “Yeah,” he says, “But I ain’t got no bullets, see?” He holds his magazine up to me and I see that, yes, indeed, it is empty.

“So that bit about shooting me. That was a lie, wasn’t it?”

The man looks down at his magazine like a kid caught in a lie. “I suppose it was, mister. Sorry.”

“No, no, that’s fine,” I sigh, reaching into my pocket. “Here, I have the same kind of pistol, and an extra magazine. Load this in and we’ll try again.”

He looks up, and takes the magazine that I’m offering. “You really mean that?”

“Yep, I do. I’ll just walk back over to my rock now, okay? Get that loaded up.”

“Thanks, mister,” he replies, almost cheerfully.

Magazine in his hand, I begin the long walk back to my rock, stop ten steps out, draw my pistol and level it at the top of the rock my adversary is hiding behind.

“You ready,” he shouts.

“Yep,” I aim down the sights. “Ready.”

“Ok, then.” I see his hand grab the top of the rock and pull the rest of him up. His head’s lowered at first, but he, eventually, looks up to take aim. “Oh bugger.”

I shoot him right between the eyes.

Musings on The Apocolypse: A Love Story (part 1)

Apparently, bang, the world used to be a relatively nice place, bang. There wasn’t as much, bang, violence as there is now, but apparently, bang BANG, there was still quite a bit. I release the catch of my rifle and remove the magazine, realizing to my rather diminutive dismay that I still had a round in it, thus mitigating the need for my current reload. Ah well. I grab out a few shells from my pocket and push them in, anyways. The poor sods down there still don’t know where I am, and I’m questioning if they even know I’m using a sniper rifle and can see them just fine. The apocolypse made people dense. Fortunately not dense enough for an anti-armor shell.

A few clinks later and I’m ready to go. I grab my binoculars first, the wider view is great for spotting, and survey the so-called, “battlefield.” Yep, they’re still there. Obviously I’m no mind-reader,  the radiation sadly didn’t gift humanity with the superpowers we were hoping for, but I assume they believe I’m in that building over there, rather than the building here. I assume this because not only have they not moved further away from me, but they’ve actually shifted around the rubble they were crouched behind so as to provide more cover from the windows of the aforementioned incorrect building while simultaneously providing me a better of their soft giblets. Their heads. One of them lit a cigarette. Yes, the apocolypse made people stupid. Well, stupid-er if you believe my father.

Sighing, I drop the binoculars and feel the cord around my neck go taught. Their funeral, really, if they want to make it this easy. They’re rather unimportant characters anyways. I line them up in my scope and pull the trigger, targeting the smoker first.

It’s a bit funny, really, watching someone’s head explode. It forms a sort of bird or flower of sorts if it’s close enough the wall when it happens, and it just kind of… Fans out. Like a painting. That would make me a painter. My canvas is  every concrete wall I see, and my paint is the rather necessary bodily fluids of those whose lives I determine are worth using a bullet to extinguish. They should feel honored, and my father should be ashamed, claiming that I’d never amount to anything. Take that, dad, I’m an artist!

Almost immediately after viewing my masterpiece, the other two start panicking. One stands up to run, bang there goes his leg, while the other sort of stares at the first corpse, expression unreadable due to the gas mask. That’s another thing, really. When the apocolypse happened, everyone threw on gas masks and strapped every bit of metal they could find to their soft bits, as if that would help them. There are no more chemical weapons, making the gas masks obsolete, and if you’re in an irradiated area you probably have more problems than breathing in ketchup gas or whatever. Naturally, I aimed for the breathing bit of the mask, sparing his life for a few seconds due to his head being in profile. I couldn’t help but chuckle as he began panicking even more, apparently because he thought he was breathing in evaporated condiments. His friends were all wearing the things too, maybe they thought this area had a cafeteria. I clocked him in the head, shouldered my rifle, stood up, and grabbed my duffle bag. As opposed to those morons down there, who thought black was true apocolypse chic, my gear was all tan or grey. Even my rifle, Shelly, was painted tan, which was not easy with the acrylics I found. Eventually I think dust ended up sticking to her more than the paint, but the effect’s the same so I don’t really care.

I knocked over the piece of sheet metal I covered the doorway with and went down the hallway, boots making satisfying clopping noises with every step on the old, dust-covered tile of the building. Pretty sure this used to be a high class apartment or something, maybe a law firm, some place that used tile instead of carpeting for flooring. Makes walking through it alone with a big gun seem a lot more bad-ass, anyways. I can’t help but wonder if this is how lawyers felt all the time. What if they were all packing heat back then and we didn’t notice because of their well-tailored suits? Well-tailored, I bet, to hide their uzis.

I passed the elevator, which probably hasn’t worked since the bombs dropped, and went to the stairs, whose doorway was still open from when I, well, opened it. I needed to get in somehow, after all, and windows seemed too troublesome.

The little armor I wear is lightweight, more for helping to keep my knees getting scratched up when kneeling than actual bullet protection, but it’s still old and still metal, and it’s been getting a tad bent out of shape. Some blacksmiths have popped up now that things are starting to level out a bit, but not many, and fewer, even, work for free, even if it’s just to re-bend some old kneepads. They make going up and down stairs a bit uncomfortable, as they dig into my leg a bit with every step, but my knees would probably be sorer with them off than on so they remain. Even so I try to avoid stairs if at all possible.

Eventually I reach the bottom and say my goodbyes to the metal staircase behind me. Though this is the apocolypse, my father taught me to always be appreciative to those that help you. I don’t see why inanimate objects should be any different. The air is a bit more stagnant down here, what with no giant hole in the wall to let the breeze come through, so I quickly make my way to the front door and out into the wasteland that was once one city somewhere or something.

It isn’t hard to find the guys I killed. Dead guys don’t move much, and I’d been watching them for a solid hour before I decided to use the ammo. Even then there wasn’t that much here. Used to be some business park or something, a big square surrounded by buildings that provide ideal vantage points for shooting the odd passerby or occasional cat. A lot of them are a bit on the collapsey side now, which provides some cover for people who think they can hide from those that use the buildings for vantage points. It never works. Like shooting cats in a barrel. Fortunately nobody ever goes into the bank, where I kept the bodies, otherwise they would leave before I can kill them, loot their stuff, and leave their bodies with the others. Money quickly loses its value when you can’t buy food with it, and so now the green paper and shiny little discs of metal aren’t much but green paper and shiny little discs of metal. Some people, of course, still want them; many believe that, given enough time and with enough bright-eyed optimism, the apocolypse will go away and the world-as-we-know-it will return with a smile and a little, “Oh, you thought I was dead didn’t you?” Fortunately there are few enough of that type to be ignored entirely, and, so, so is the bank. Ignored, that is.

I walk over to the last guy I killed first, the one with the gas mask front that I shot off in a clever bit of skill. Hole in one side of helmet, check. I reach out my gloved hand, grab his head, and turn it around so I can see the other side. Hole in other side of head… Oh. Oh dear. Yes, yes check indeed. Maybe two checks. Bleck. I drop his head and wipe my glove on his coat. After a few seconds I pick up my hand again and look at it some before going back once more to rubbing it. Shit’s just not coming off. Christ, this isn’t going to wash, is it? Bastard. I kick the corpse, knocking it over, and decide to set him on fire first.

Quietly muttering curses, I walk over to the one without a leg. Well, I meant to. Instead of walking over to him I walked over to where he once was, only to find a pool of blood and no carcass. Either my shot hit him harder than I thought or — pew. The sounds of a bullet ricocheting off the ground in front of me sent me sprawling backwards, tripping over the gas mask guy who absorbed a bullet for me. Maybe I’ll burn him second, then, but I can’t burn anyone if I’m dead so I drag myself up and forward, jumping behind a rock when I inevitably ran out of ground. Three more shots ring out against the rock I’m behind, blowing little concrete chips and dust over it and on top of my hood. Then… Silence.

Book Review: The Warded Man (Peter V. Brett)

A book review that I had to do for Feature Writing. ‘Nough said.

Tolkien was a brilliant man but ultimately did a wonderful job of running fantasy into the ground. The author of “The Lord of the Rings”, as well as a number of other works, found outstanding fame in his writing, but became so popular that he basically defined the boundaries of fantasy. Forever will elves now be tall, fair-skinned folk with a penchant for magic, forever shall dwarves be short, stocky, and crude gents obsessed with gold. Fantasy, a genre once limited by its lack of limits, finds itself, for the most part, bound up in Tolkien’s dream world; which is why some new authors, such as Peter V. Brett, are creative breathes of fresh air.

Brett exploded into the fantasy scene with a brand-new, completely original series beginning with his first book, “The Warded Man” (or “The Painted Man” if you’re not American). The writing is a work of art; it doesn’t necessarily contain many big twists, quite the contrary, in fact, as a surprising amount of its story is predictable, but that is not where the book shines. Indeed the heart and soul of the book is not found in shocks and cheap twists, but in adroit storytelling and enthralling, deeply three-dimensional characters, each with their own specific role in events to come and own fantastical story.

The book itself falls under the theme of world-on-the-brink writing, as each night the few remaining cities and towns of the planet are assaulted by Corelings, demons which consolidate from mist to kill any human they come across. The Corelings come in many flavors, varying from the small, nimble fire demons to the massive, plodding stone demons, but they all share three things in common: a dislike for humankind, they are burned by the sun, and they can be kept at bay using wards, ancient symbols from the old world, from when humans openly fought Corelings. At one point, the humans had driven the Corelings back using battle runes, runes that could not only deflect Corelings but harm them. Humankind’s victory forced the Corelings underground for hundreds of years, and made humans cocky. The battle runes were forgotten, and the defensive runes only being found after most of humanity fell in the Corelings’ second coming. Now, most of humanity lives in one of very few great cities, their walls carved with massive defensive runes, and the rest live in small towns which must repaint the runes on their walls day after day or be killed by the ravenous Corelings. The only way for the settlements to get messages and supplies to and from the much larger series are through a group of brave men and women known as Messengers, who brave the Corelings every night by using transportable warded circles.

Like a number of well-selling modern fantasy authors, Brett broadens his literary scope and, instead of using the traditional one protagonist with a supporting cast, uses three main characters and a supporting cast. The two bonus characters make a huge difference, allowing the reader to experience the story from three very different viewpoints. Each character is dynamic and well-rounded, and, due to the long timeline of the first book, the reader actually watches the characters mature from children to adults, watching major portions of their development and seeing first-hand how their personalities change over time. Each character becomes the reader’s own child, and the excitement of seeing a chapter about your favorite character never dulls, and Brett wants you to know if a chapter is going to be about your favorite character. Brett included hand-drawn icons in the book, each representing one character, that appear beneath the chapter number and show the reader exactly who will be in the chapter. You see a hand with a ward on it? Arlen Bales, a farmer’s son, will make a return appearance. Is there a mortar and pestle? Leesha the alchemist will be a focal point.

It’s so rare for a fantasy series to make it to the big leagues without relying on Tolkien fiction, but when they do the genre as a whole is made better by it. Fantasy is meant to be fantastical, free from the limits of the imagination that so many other genres are weighed down by, and Peter V. Brett took that freedom and ran with it — all the way to the bank. “The Warded Man”, and, indeed, the other two books in the trilogy, “The Desert Spear,” and “The Daylight War,” are worth any reader’s time, whether they be new to the genre or grizzled veterans. The only way to find out if it’s for you, though, is to simply go out and read it.

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My Life, at the Present (or, Why the Chickens are Depressed)

This turned out longer than expected… It just kind of flowed once I started. As a warning, this is a glimpse into my current life which is, presently, depressing. Skip over it if you want to, I really won’t mind this time. But if you do read it… Well, it’ll help.

 

 

I am depressed, good readers.

I haven’t updated with anything for awhile, the reason being that I really haven’t been writing. Well, I’m writing now, and seeing as, I would say, most of my friends backslash people I know don’t read my blog, I may as well write it down here as a sort of public diary backslash journal thing. I probably won’t do this again for a while, and, really, I don’t know why I’m doing it now. Maybe it’ll be cathartic. Maybe not. I suppose the only way to find out is to sit down and do it.

One of my biggest issues in life is that I have a strict set of moral and ethical codes that I laid out for myself, loosely based on honor and chivalry, that dictate how I live my life. Now you may be saying, “But Chickens, my good bird, having honor and chivalry is a great thing,” to which I would reply, “Yeah, if this were the dark ages.” Nobody pays attention to honor in this day-in-age, or at least no one I know, which means that I have this mindset that no one understands. Honestly it usually isn’t that big of a deal, as it keeps me straight, but occasionally someone will insult my honor and not realize it. This is not good. Insulting my honor is one of the fastest ways to piss me right the [explicit] off, and, when I try to explain why I am pissed right the [former explicit] off, the perpetrator has a hard time understanding and credits it to me being stupid and backslash or a tightly-wired twit. This is only part of the reason why I am currently depressed.

You see, dearest reader-made-shoulder-to-cry-on, I have an incredibly very particular way of viewing the world, based around the idea of everything, and everyone, having a purpose. If that purpose isn’t met, then whatever has that purposes isn’t fulfilling its purpose and is thus rendered pointless. It is the worst thing in the world to me. What this means is that if I get a book, I read it. A book’s purpose is to be read, after all, and the idea of rendering something worthless because I didn’t feel like finishing it is… Well, it’s enough to make me cry. Quite literally, in fact. The feeling is that strong. It feels as though I’m strangling the life out of something while staring it right in the eye. This horrible, horrible feeling is only amplified when aimed at me.

What do you think, reader, who is potentially being forced to read this, would happen to someone with my viewpoint who feels like something they made isn’t serving its purpose? Allow me to explain in exquisite detail using this verbal model. Imagine, if you would, taking your hand (still with me? Good, I know this is complicated), and laying it on your arm. Now take a deep breath… And tear off a massive chunk of your arm and slam it down on a table. Do this every time someone doesn’t feel like reading what you wrote. Now imagine what happens when you lose one arm. Move on to your stomach. Your face. Your legs. When my work’s purpose isn’t being fulfilled, I feel like part of my body, a chunk of my soul, is being torn out of me. It is the most painful feeling I have ever imagined. I have been writing for nearly thirteen years, and, since many of my friends don’t like reading, many of my pieces were never read. This resulted in my fear of writing.

I’m not afraid of writing, per say, I am afraid of writing something that will never get read. Honestly, if only one person reads what I wrote then that work’s purpose is fulfilled and I am filled with a sense of euphoria. You eight subscribers? I love you all and would happily buy you a meal. Unfortunately you weren’t always here, and, due to my weird view of the world, parents and girlfriends don’t count as readers (they’re too heavily biased), meaning a ton of my work wasn’t read. Fearing that soul-rending feeling time after time caused the writer’s portion of my brain to shrivel up and hide in some dark hole in my mind. Every time I would begin writing something new, I knew, deep down, that it would never be read and simply… Stopped. I had a number of drafts written up for short stories, essays, even books, that I scrapped and never touched again (and are now gone for good due to a hard drive crash awhile back).

Allow me to expand this idea beyond writing, though. What is the purpose… Of a friend? What makes a friend a friend, rather than an acquaintance or some random dude asking for a fiver? To me, a friend is someone who you not only have fun with, but share interests with. This does not mean that you have the same interests as them; instead, it means that, even if you don’t necessarily like what the other person does, you experience it with them anyways, and be part of it. At least a little bit. It means forgetting your own preferences for awhile and living within your friend’s happiness bubble. Friends also talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Can you tell this is important yet? Taaaaaaaaaalk. Stories are told, experiences are related, opinions are shared. This does not mean that opinions are nice. Opinions differ, and that’s one of the best parts about having friends, the idea that two people with differing opinions on something can sit down and share their ideas in a friendly setting. There’s a lot more things that go into a friendship with me, but these are the two main ones. Now let me explain what is going on right now in my life.

My opinion doesn’t matter. Or, at least, that’s the impression I get from my friends. Especially recently, when I was getting more and more social, whenever I tried to share my opinion it was immediately shot down. Whether that be advice or just an opinion on an anime (shut up, Chickens, you’re being a killjoy), my opinion doesn’t matter. Relate that to the two things listed above: friendship and purpose. I sure as hell don’t feel like any of their friends right now, and my opinion is part of myself. I have a meaning. When you ignore my opinion, as a friend, you are basically calling me worthless. Remember the arm-tearing thing? This is a lot worse. It doesn’t stop there.

Many of my friends don’t like reading. That is, well, more-or-less fine but I can deal with it. It’s almost the norm in this day-in-age. I don’t like dubstep, and quite a few other things my friends like. When they talk about it, though, I [explicit] listen. I even try to engage the best that I can. However it’s not uncommon for them to completely brush-off my writing because TOO LONG DIDN’T READ, or, even better, “do I have to get up?” If you remember from my previous statement, this tears a hole in me every time. I remember, not all that long ago, breaking down into tears in my dorm thinking about this thing that I loved and worked on being considered worthless by the people I care most about. It’s caused massive emotional trauma over the years and it’s a miracle that my fists have survived the number of times I used my pillows as a makeshift punching bag against my wall. It’s also a miracle my wall has survived, for that matter.

With these two biggies, as well as a number of other issues going on right now, I have bottled-up. I am currently sitting in my room, in the dark, writing on a bright computer screen. I have only left the past few days to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, and, on one occasion, go to a previously-scheduled social even with my mother and grandmother. I have no intention of leaving my room at the present moment, and the disconnect I have with both my happy emotions and friend is massive. I’m having a hard time even smiling, which for me is kind of a big deal. My motivation has dropped and I am now more anti-social than I’ve been in a long, long time. Keep in mind that I am an introvert, an INTJ if you’re into Bryers-Miggs, so the isolation doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I feel like it should, though, and I know for a fact that if I don’t interact with more people on a more regular basis I’ll crash, if not from boredom then from separation. The glorious bit of this? I don’t even feel like trying to communicate with these people I’ve considered friends. I’ve tried before, and, as always, it’s “TOO LONG DIDN’T READ.” I hate that term. I hate it with my whole being, and they’ll never understand why. Even more so because they probably won’t read this, even though I keep asking them. Hell, I don’t even know if they’ll ask what’s wrong. Maybe [name redacted] will, seeing as he picked up on it once. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being a pansy. A wuss. But if I’m right, and I hope I’m not, then my place in my social circle is so insignificant that I may as well not even be here. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good pick-me-up from a friend. Hell, I can scarcely remember the last time I received a compliment.

At any rate, if you read this, thanks for sticking with me. I don’t do this too often, and I probably won’t do it again for awhile. Additionally I’m not usually this goddam depressing, it’s just that I’ve had a pretty [explicit] terrible past couple of… Well, in some regards years, and I’ve never really vented on a massive scale like this. I like comedy and satire, or fantasy and epic adventures, hell I even love good essays, and that’s what I’ll try to keep this blog updated with from now on. Just occasionally, bear with me. Hell, even drop a like or a comment, I’ll eat it up and it’ll make my week. I’ll get through it eventually, I always do.

Naked? With Socks? In Public? No Cops? Bring it On.

Today’s daily prompt (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/daily-prompt-public/) is pretty interesting. It implies not only that the police won’t show up when a person is walking around wearing nothing but socks while preaching to a vast crowd of multicultural men and women but also that the speaker would be comfortable doing so. Here is my take on the whole thing, complete and unabridged except where it isn’t.

When I was a young man, no older than 18, I walked into my first day of college with a spring in my step and a-hold on, forgot a textbook. Ok, with a spring in my step and a-wait what room am I going to? Oh, the other campus? Gotcha. With a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Or perhaps it was gas. At any rate, I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed, ready to begin what I believed to be the first day of the rest of my life, where I could make friends on a daily basis and talk to anyone I wanted to! Which is why I got on the shuttle with headphones already in place and began reading a book. I am, as you may be able to tell, a social butterfly.

Waters tested and initial awkwardness out of the way, I became a lot more comfortable in my new, big-boy college shoes, but I still had an issue. You see, dearest reader, while I can talk to anyone I want to, quite easily I may add, I have difficulty in retaining any of them as a consistent companion. They seem to stay forever in that awkward acquaintance stage, where we know each other but don’t know each other, and that seems to be a rut I cannot escape without resorting to bribery or threats*. How have I found this out, you may ask? Easy. Practice.

You see, overly-attached yet still clandestine fan, where I fall behind in adding to my social circle, I excel in talking to whomever catches my fancy at any particular time. I have reiterated to my friends, who may or may not exist, many times over that my comfort zone is large enough for a small sun or one especially angry honey badger. I don’t mind going up and talking to random people in the least, and occasionally go out of my way to do so. I even played a game freshmen year where I would go around with a book filled with random, non-important questions and simply ask people things for fun. Then people started labeling me creepy and I stopped. But nobody remembers that, right?

At any rate, my inability to feel awkward helps me greatly when it comes to giving out criticism, making terrible jokes, and meeting, as well as talking with, new people. I did well back in public speaking when I made sure to slow my speech rate down to near-human levels, and I can talk to both large and small groups with ease. May have had something to do with my being in theater, now that I think about it. But to answer the prompt, I am perfectly fine with talking to any group in almost any situation. Just don’t make me go nude, nobody wants to see that.

* I have never bribed nor threatened anyone, tis a line meant for comedic effect

Sunshine, With a Chance of Rain

One more from the Feature Writing class! That’s right, loyal and non-loyal readers, there are TWO things due today that I’m sharing! “Oh glorious day, Mr. Chickens,” some of you shout with glee, “You’re work is what gives me life!” Cockiness aside, this is the second thing I have to turn in today, and is, once again, a review of a review. Do a lot of these, don’t I? For added fun, read the entirety of the piece from the point of view of an angry walrus.

Sunshine, With a Chance of Rain

Let me begin by saying that, as a rule, I rarely, if ever, pay any attention to and/or even acknowledge the existence of critics and reviewers unless I will be buying something shortly, usually some video game. That is because I enjoy reading or watching something for myself, since it’s impossible to gauge my reaction from someone else’s viewpoint. That being said Joe Morgenstern wrote a decent review and now I kind of want to see the movie.

According to Professor Todd Hunt, hereby known as Professor Hunt due to grammar rules and because his name is magnificent, there are eight roles of reviewers and critics that ensure that they aren’t seen as people shouting their opinions to anyone who will listen and even more to people who won’t. Something was, apparently, lost in translation. At any rate, Morgenstern at least tries to abide by the rules Professor Hunt laid down, probably next to the boar that he killed with his bare hands.

Firstly, Morgenstern covered not only the piece that he originally set out to cover, but seemingly every other even marginally similar work that the stars playing the leads have done before. It makes for a round piece, and gives a good point of comparison for both old and new viewers. The references are woven through the article like a red thread through an orange shirt: noticeable, but not necessarily distracting. However when you include too much string, suddenly you can’t tell if the shirt started as red or orange. Morgenstern references the actor’s other works often enough so as to muddle the writing a bit. One finds himself questioning whether Morgenstern is writing about “Sunshine” or “Being John Malkovich” in certain passages (as an example), and the result is loss of attention. In this instance, then, perhaps Morenstern simply does Professor Hunt’s first point too well. On to point two.

Professor Hunt informs readers, likely between punching tigers and polishing his rifle, that critics set a sort of standard for entertainers, thus raising the overall quality of entertainment. If one were liberal in their opinion, such as Morgnestern seems to be, they would say that all work is good to somebody and we have no right reviewing it poorly. At first I believed that “Sunshine” really was “that good”, i.e. there are so few, tiny flaws with the movie that they’re not worth mentioning.  That was until I read the additional recommended piece, “Drive”, which took me a few minutes to figure out was actually a collection of reviews published under one convenient title (or at least I hope it is, as mentioned before Morgenstern’s writing can be a tad blurry). After reading through all the reviews, I can not recall a single negative comment on any of them. Maybe it’s that I simply can’t remember, but the fact is that if I can’t remember one then it was so small that it doesn’t quite matter. Morgenstern seems to either appreciate everything or not write about anything that doesn’t interest him, and therein lies the problem of not being able to raise any standards at all, due to everything appearing “just fine”. When I read a review, I want both the good and the bad, otherwise I have no opinion coming out of it.

Morgenstern’s reviews, as a whole, try to live up to Professor Hunt’s expectations, but fall depressingly short due to Morgernstern not having the hard edge necessary to cut anything apart. They’re entertaining, however, so he can be forgiven.

-586 words-

A Profile Piece

I had to recently do a profile piece for my Feature Writing class. Figured I may as well upload it here, since I haven’t had much time for recreational writing as of late what with classes and homework and such. Anyways, enjoy!

The first thing a visitor notices about John’s first-floor apartment is that it is littered with animals, both inside and out. The entrance to his apartment is, basically, an outdoor hallway that holds the doors for three other apartments and ends in a wooden deck overlooking a woods, filled with the chirping of insects. When he finally answered the door with a faint smile and a welcome, you are greeted by not one, but two cats as well as a large rabbit, Sir Harington. Before the interview could begin, however, he brought me over to his computer and put a flash drive in his hand. Apparently the drive contained a free version of a new survival-horror golf game given to him at the Baltimore Comic Con by an independent developer, whom he had never met. After playing the demo, he proceeded to find anyone who would listen and bring them to the developer’s booth, urging them to try the game. As thanks, they gave him a free drive which he then gave to me to download, then pass it on to a friend to help the new developer get its name out. The more you talk to John, the more you realize that that is the kind of man he is.

The easiest way to describe a man like John is through his actions. While attending a Catholic elementary school, John first discovered his penchant for going against the norm. His uniform required a certain level of dress and, forgetting his tie, he had a friend make a cardboard cutout of one and wore it to mass. While not against the rules, John received a detention anyways and the school changed the rulebook the next year. “I would like to find loopholes and I would abuse it.” John made his initial friends at Stevenson by inviting over 25 people to lunch the first day, and spending time with those who remained. He hasn’t changed much, since.

Since he was sixteen years old in high school, John has been working whenever possible. He applied for a work permit as soon as he was able and began working the floor at a local Bestbuy. After working there for just a little while, John began being moved from department to department, eventually working in pretty much every one. John smiled and gave a bit of a chuckle, “All the departments started playing pass the Holliman.” He eventually ended up in Geek Squad, where he fell in love with both the job and the culture, and stays not only for the discounts the position provides, which he happily accepts, but also to keep up-to-date on computer information and for the enjoyment. “Working for Geek Squad is a very fun experience, and they take care of you.” Recently John was moved up to corporate Geek Squad, where he assists customers over the web with virtual computer repairs as well as the occasional spot check of Geek Squad centers, though the latter is more of John’s many side jobs, such as DJ’ing, running his own business, and working at his brother’s comic book shop.

John’s brother is about 26 years older than John, and the two have never been especially close, only coming around to visit on occasion. In fact, his brother was around so scantily that John, for a time, believed himself an only child. Whenever he did visit though, he brought gifts, “He wasn’t home a lot, he had moved out by the time I was born, so whenever he did come around it was, ‘Hey try this new card game’ or ‘Hey, try this new board game’.” It is his brother that John attributes his love of games to, seeing as his mom never enjoyed or encouraged that sort of behavior. Ever since, though, John has loved games of all kind. His job in his brother’s comic shop is, in fact, to teach customers about new card games, and has memorized the rules for seemingly all of them through the years. It didn’t take long for John’s love of games to expand to video games, “I’m a gamer, a very big gamer. I have almost every console known to man.”

John’s life is a precarious balance between drop-down, drag-out fun and excessive work, and he tends to always be doing something. One may wonder how he manages all of it. “I don’t. I am crazy, I always will be crazy, but that’s why some people love me. There’s not enough hours in the day to do what I do, ever… It is busy, I don’t have much free time ever, but really I don’t have enough time. I stress myself out, I burn myself out, but that’s just who I am,” he says, sitting in his apartment, a soft smile on his face.