Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A script and a statement.

I had hoped to finish this script today.

I thought it up this morning.

I planned to finish it this night.

But as they say, "A plan is a list of things that won't happen."

Ah well. I still have had time to create bits like this:

Is that so?

She jots down some info on yet other one of her countless pieces of paper.

Maybe someday, Willis.
If you go and get yourself fixed.
Like I said, I don’t use rubbers.

And BAM, the phone goes down.

Nathan blinks. Once. Twice.
Three times.

...the Fuck?


And this.


Have you ever been in love?

Couldn’t say.

That’s a no. If you knew what I meant, you could definitely say, you couldn’t have enough to say.
Believe me.

He starts moving his feet, pacing in small motions

I’m not talking schoolbook, I don’t mean he’s cute-he’s cute,
or he’s cute-she’s cute, or whatever that might be. I’m talking about feeling nothing else
Can you imagine that? Having nothing but one person be your whole body and soul,
everything to you in one big-damn motion?
Can you?

Nathan says nothing. He merely palms a bullet and starts rolling it in his hand.

I can, Mr. Anders. I. CAN.
Now. Could you tell me what it would be like if that person died?

Matthew stops pacing. He’s staring straight at Nathan, who still keeps rolling that bullet within his fingers, the motion gradually gaining speed.

I could imagine.

Maybe you can, Mr. Anders. Maybe you can.
But if you can, if you know, if you’re that FUCKING PERCEPTIVE,
maybe you can tell me something else.
Maybe, maybe you can tell me what it feels like to not lose that feeling. Imagine if that person is still there, in your body, in your soul,
Even when they’re gone.
Even? Especially.

And with that, the floodgates open. No words, no grand sweeping wailing. He just maneuvers himself into the chair which he had previously shunned.

Matthew cries. Quietly. To himself.


And a good time was had by all.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

A set of lies. Nothing more.

What’s your name?

Daniel Greensur.

What's up?

Well…I guess a lot of things.

With your life?

My mother looked at me for the last time today. I can tell. She’s going to live a little bit longer, but she won’t be able to see me, not while she knows me. From now on, I’ll be a someone. And in some ways, so will she.

and your thoughts?

I don’t have them anymore. They’re useless.

and your face?

My face is clean, I guess. I used some new exfoliating thing, it seems to work pretty well. But it does kinda burn. A lot. Seriously. But the face is clean.

and your energy?

I run a lot more than I used to. The hospital has a lot of space up there on the roof, and more and more, I just seem to be up there. Not sure why sometimes. But I end up there, somehow, and I just keep running and running. Pointless. I don’t even know why I fucking do it. Does that count?

and your genitalia?

What? That’s…that’s not really…they’re fine. I guess.

and your mind?

My mind? I’m really not sure how I could answer that. Lately, I haven’t had the time to really do much brainwork, or work these things out, you know? I’ve just had too much on the plate. More important things. Let’s move on.

and your soul?

I’m a decent man. I am.

and your skin?

I never really gave it much attention. I guess it’s there. It’s doing it’s job, as much as it always has. Wrap-around. And yeah, it’s still there when I touch it. Still warm. Actually, now that you mention it, it’s kind of itchy. All over. On my whole body. It’s there.

and your taste?

Does that mean taste, like, the foods I know? Or is it what I like, in general? Or is it something grander, right, something like perception? Because I don’t know about this. I don’t know how I would really answer. Things like that…not up my alley. You understand.

and your insomnia?

Is it obvious? Around the eyes, I guess. I don’t like it when people notice.

and your sleep?

I really don’t like talking about it. You know? People look at you differently when they find out about your sleep habits. Like it bugs them, or like they want to help. It’s not their problem. Anyway, let’s not, ok? Didn’t I already answer that?

and your skill?

Heh. Haven’t used mine in awhile. Been busy, obviously. I mean, I had one. Everyone does, somewhere. With something.

and your head?

I, what? I don’t even know what that means. Can we hurry this up?

and your dreams?


and your life?

Look, man, I don’t know what this is about. I’ve been nice, and I talked, but this is just getting silly. You got what you wanted, right? Some guy, trying not to fall, letting the buzz of the lights annoy him awake? Move on, alright? There’s other people around.

Your life?

Shut up.



No more.

No more.

And so on.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

A request.

Would you do me a favor?

I understand that it’s somewhat of a tall order. You might know me, at least in passing. We might smile at each other slightly as we pass in the hallway, and I might hold the door open for you as you prepare to step outside, to get yourself a well earned breath of not terribly fresh air. Maybe you know my name. Maybe I know yours. But that doesn’t always mean much. Maybe it doesn’t mean enough.

Then again, you might not know me at all. Just a passing stranger, drifting along through the insincerity of the internet, stopping only to catch your breath on the page of some tall guy with chronic halitosis. If that’s the case, then a favor is probably out of the question.

But then again, maybe not. As I’ve often said, often here, often anywhere, really, people will always have the ability to surprise you. You plan and you plan, you anticipate and you assume. You think you know, but you have no idea. Just like right now, I haven’t a clue whether or not I’m simply typing idle words. I’ll never know for sure. But just for a moment, let’s see what would happen if you bothered to try.

Please, picture a man.

At the beginning, this man will be formless. Your task is to give him form. Give him height, give him weight. Make him grow as you wish, make him tall or short. Make him however you please, to whatever end that you seek. As long as you make the choices, and you know that they are yours. Make his hair grow. Slowly at first, letting you get your bearing, seeing what color you like, how it changes the look that you have put on his face. Then go mad, make it what you will, the hair of a staunchy businessman or a sixties mod rocker, the style of an 80’s punk or your last memory of someone now past.

Make them fit. Whoever they are, make them whole. Don’t make a caricature, don’t bother with a person who has no rhyme or reason, someone who couldn’t possibly exist due to funny lacks of sensical part placement. Make a man. Someone who you could see on the street, someone who might catch your eye as you walk past. Someone uniquely to your specifications.

Now, here comes the part where the true difficulty lies. A man is not a man unless something makes him so. So give him that something. Give him a present, give him a past, conjure up a life. Did he ever have a dog? Did he pick on the weak while still only a boy? Does he still live out his days as a cruel, misguided punk, seeking only to feel better about himself by hurting others? Or is he a quiet, introspective individual, one who either looks the part or doesn’t if only in societies eyes. Is he wise? Is he kind? Is he timid? Is he foolish? Does he have a fear of water, brought on by something long since forgotten at the top of the brain, that still is known through the mischievous nature of the subconscious?

What you make, doesn’t really matter. As long as you make it true. As long as you give him a story. As a journalist once said, It’s the stories that make it real. They’ll make him a man. The man of your own design.

He’s yours now. He belongs to no one but you.

So what should you do with him, now that you’ve brought him to life?

Hit him.

Punch him in the face. Kick him in the groin, jab your fingernails deep within the soft flesh of the underbelly, digging into the meat. Hit him again. And again. And again.

Put the rest of your thoughts upon him. All of your fears, all of your ignorance, all that you know that scares you and worries you, all the things that tax you day in and day out. Pile that burden upon him and cut him down. Use whatever you have, whatever you dream, push all of the force that your body can muster upon him, wearing him down. He fights back, but it’s feeble at best, just fevered clawings beneath the face of your rage. You go on and on. Until it’s finally done.

Until the man you made is broken. Broken down, made nothing but empty flesh by the instrument of your own hand. Or rather, your own mind.


Most who have gotten this far probably did so without bothering to follow along. That’s alright, it was your choice to make. But if you did do what I asked…

Why did you do that?

Why did you take what you had created, and smash him beneath your boot heel like a glass at a Jewish wedding?

Was it simply because I asked you to?

Or was it a deep seated need, something that you had within you, that you had only been waiting to let out?

Either way, I couldn’t tell you what it means. This is my gift to you. It is my favor, to repay the one that you had done for me. The gift of a question. Hopefully, the gift of a thought.

What it becomes? Where it leads? What it means?
Figure it out. And for fucks sake, don’t hurt anyone.

A positive Harry Potter review that rambles on about liquid. And humanity.

As is customary in circles of delightful madness, I shall begin by making a terribly odd statement: For a film with the word “Fire,” in its title, it certainly is wet. Characters spend the majority of the film covered in some form of liquid or another, be it the water in the lake or the mist in the air, the sweat on their brows or the tears in their eyes.

Or the blood that runs through their veins, suddenly dripping down their fingers.

It is in this, let us call it ‘tenacious moistness,’ that this film differs from its predecessors, the liquid dripping off of the celluloid with an intensity that few family films shall ever even dream of possessing. It is because of this liquid, in point of fact, that this film is far greater than any of those that have preceded it.

The reason for this is simple: It strips away that which is glamorous. Water is that which smothers us with its depths, drowns our homes with its terrible wrath, even stings our eyes with its intensity as we cry away the simplest notions of sadness. It has power. The water washes away the calm and the collected, giving us instead the sweat that streams down foreheads, blinding us as we run through a terrible maze that hopes it may swallow us whole. The water covers us, filling our lungs as we try to do nothing more than to drag our friends from its depths. We, us, the people in the theatre, become the people who suffer the blood, the sweat, the tears.

The meaning. It is within that meaning that we often find that which we are looking for in film, the point of it all, and at the very same time, we are given…beauty.

The beauty of a deep mist that swirls throughout the air, which only serves to conceal the thundering wingspan of a Hungarian Horntail that wishes for nothing other than to taste the soft meat of your face. The beauty of droplets that shimmer as a grand ship explodes from beneath the surface, a torrential downpour of sensation that catches every beam of light and sends it where it belongs, right into our eyes, right into our minds. The sheer beautiful horror of a birth, the birth of something that those who know had hoped would never occur again.

The film does not always give us what we want. It gives us our vistas, yes, our soaring score, and our moments where heroism stands forth. Where the man of the hour is stalwart and true. But it gives us other things as well. It gives us terror, it gives us pain. It gives us scared eyes and darkness slithering about underneath all things. It gives us death.

Yes, death. Those who have read these tales before, know what’s to come, where things are going, and yes, those who will die. But the death here isn’t glamorous. It exists as death should, as something cold, immediate, and painful. We have no prolonged speech from dying lips, no sweet kisses passed to lovers with the quick, forced breath of those about to go. People die. Things occur, the death lost beneath the need of the moment. And then the moment comes.

Where the true horror comes through, from the anguished cry of those who loved. Those who still love. No sudden sweeping cranes to the sky, no searing violins stabbing our hearts with their motion and missing the point in the meantime. No glamour. No real reason. Just sadness. Just respect.

Respect for people. Respect for the intelligence of those watching, for those who loved the source, and for those who simply love to catch a flick on a Friday night. This film is for people, first and foremost.

For those who love the words, the words from which it came, that which need be, is. Unlike the previous film, which despite dazzling us with lovely visuals, lost any semblance of credibility as far as writing was concerned. Key story elements went missing, tremendously powerful turning points were underwritten to the point of farce, and characters that needed development simply didn’t receive it, for better, or for worse. Worse.

In this case, the fat has been cut. We have what need, even if we don’t necessarily have what we want. We have laughter, we have romance, we have strained smiles plastered on the faces of those who are truly uncomfortable. We have old friendships being tested, and new friendships being forged, culminating in a tremendous celebration of brotherhood that matters a great deal in this day and age.

As a world, as a people, we have friends. We forget this sometimes, oftentimes, as we lose ourselves within our hate and our misguided need for deceit. We must remember. Remember the blood, the sweat, the tears. Remember the beauty. Remember the fear. Remember the meaning Remember the things that belong to us. All of us. It doesn’t matter if it’s the fictitious people locked within that world seeping with tremendous liquid, or the real people, outside the frame, who talk and laugh and love. We belong to it. Together.

It doesn’t matter if that’s what was intended by those involved. It is in there. All you have to do is look.

Personally, I suggest that you do.

And don’t forget to bring a towel.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A game review that calls for the nostalgic.

As I sit here, with my faithful laptop resting upon my knees, I can hear the nostalgic sounds of the River City theme battling against the tune of Quadrophenia by The Who. One sound emerges from the laptop, the other from the Gameboy Advance that sits slightly to my side. On the screen, I can see the pair of Alex and Ryan (or Kunio and Riki, whichever you prefer) in full pixilated glory, ready to kick the ass of any fiend who dare stand in their way. These sights and sounds fill me with joy.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to stop reading. This is a review, a game review. A review for a game that spits in the face of stupid fucking graphic whores, laughs at people who demand that their games take 300 fucking hours to complete, casts aside those who want endless corridors and multiple endings. This my friends, as well as enemies, is a throwback to one of the milestones of Two-dimensional gaming.

Still here?

If you are, congradufuckinglations. You’ve been checked off in my cool book already. The game in question was one that was not one of the most popular games to come out for the NES. It didn’t break sales records, and unlike Super Mario Brothers, it didn’t become a household name. But you know what? Who gives a shit?

This game isn’t Contra (but I prefer Metal Slug anyway), not Super Mario Brothers (but Super Mario World is better), instead something which became a cult classic. It’s my single favorite game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. River City Ransom. A game about kicking ass, and being wacky while you’re doing it.

This is a review about the latest installment of this game, RIVER CITY RANSOM EX, for the Nintendo Gameboy Advance and Gameboy Advance SP. This is something that pulls off what Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was trying to do. It takes a classic game, and actually makes it fucking better.

How does it do this? Well, calm down, and I’ll get around to telling you about it. It pulls this difficult task off by fusing the simple spirit of the old, with a bit of the new, creating an unholy fusion of badassity that shall serve to rock the faces off of anyone who knows enough about the old days to bother with this sort of thing. New gamers probably need not apply.

Just like in the original, the game begins when you get a letter informing you that the girlfriend of one of the two protagonists has been kidnapped, and if you want to get her back in his loving arms, you must battle your way through the hordes of gangs (rival high schools in the Japanese version) as well as “evil bosses,” in order to finally confront the villain who is keeping her captive. Just like the original, you start out weak, but gain strength by taking the bouncing currency away from corpses. You use this currency to buy food/goods from shops located in one of the games shopping centers, which in turn affects one or more of the games 10 different stats which document your abilities. Also, just like in the original, you may purchase technique books from the bookstores, giving you access to more powerful abilities.

It is in these abilities, that this game differs from the original that the three stripe members remember oh so well. For you see, in the classic version, you only had access to a handful of these abilities, which did things like give you faster punches and kicks, or let you do a cool flip that damaged fuckers who got in your way. In this one however, you gain access to a shitload of cheesily-named techniques including:

KICKSTAND- This allows you to jam the toe of your precious Texas boots into the ass of those who were weak enough to get knocked down.

SLAP HAPPY- A useful ability that enables you to run into a crowd and become a spinning mass of fists, like a crazy-carousel-o-doom.

KILLER KICK- You do an awesome Bruce Lee style Dragon kick that sends you flying across the screen, catching anyone in front of you on your foot. It kicks serious ass.

Another sweet addition to this game, is that the boss characters are know longer just normal enemies with slightly larger stats. No, this time around they get access to badass special moves just like you do, making them at once more formidable as well as more interesting. Even though it seems so simple, it makes them far more than the standard enemies that you remember from the original.

Speaking of things that you remember, there have been a few graphical differences from the original River City Ransom. Sure, the graphics have been upgraded from 8-bit to some that looks closer to 16-bit, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. What I’m referring to is the fact that Alex and Ryan no longer wear the Jeans and T-shirts that you might remember. Instead, in something left over from the Japanese version, they are wearing school uniforms, something normal for Japanese High Schools. This might turn some people off, but for me, as long as the Generic dudes still wear green and the Mob still wears gray, I really don’t give a fuck. They hit me with chains and pipes just the same.

A few new weapons have also been added, including a super-long chain that makes old Mr. Links jealous, as well as strange weapons like…a ladder. Yeah. Anyway, the weapons, new and old alike, really make combat cool, as they are always flying all over the damn place. Just like in the old days. Another welcome change has been the slight revision to the level design. Take the warehouse from the original game as an example. In that area, you had to jump over the obstacle of a wall in order to advance through the game. However, the jumping mechanic in this game was never designed for any sort of precision, and with the run that was required you usually ended up crashing into the wall like a stupid fucktard. The wall is gone now, an the warehouse has become my favorite area in the game. Picture this: a multi-tiered room, full of weapons with a tendency to travel unpredictably. The Mob, one of the games cooler gangs, coming in droves on both sides. Do you run? Or do you fight? Do you chug a karma jolt, give a few practice kicks, and then charge the enemy with all your might? Jumping from box to box, only to take out an enemy above you with a well placed uppercut? Finally taking out your oppressors only to be accosted by the leader who was lying in wait? If you answered yes to all but one of those, then you just might understand. Welcome to the world of River City.


Ahem. Yes, the lack of co-op play is a huge problem, but it is somewhat remedied by the fact that you have access to an optional computer comrade to whoop-ass alongside you. Yes, the save system doesn’t save progress, instead only saving stats and items, functioning as a simpler version of the originals password saves. But since the game itself is so fun, that doesn’t end up causing much grief. The only other real problem is the noticeable lack of innovation that this title possesses. This is a game that was truly a brilliant step ahead for the beat-em-up in it’s time, but went fairly unnoticed, leading designers to not learn from its match of quirky humor, old school fighting mechanics, and basic yet engaging rpg elements. Games have changed, but this game is still essentially the same. If you really wanted to, you could beat it in a few hours. Then again…would you want to?

I myself have had this version of the game for about a week or so. I could easily have beaten it by now. But I haven’t. Instead, I continue to wander the city streets, eating sushi and kicking ass, listening to the games music as well as other music that I have lying around. I’ve been raising my stats, and testing the games new special moves. I’ve been wandering back and forth, wreaking havoc, taking my time before I eventually pass the threshold of River City High to face the infamous Dragon Twins. When I do, I’m sure it will be one hell of a battle. But I’m not ready yet. Which is why this game is right for me.

Now, if you have just gotten yourself a Gameboy Advance, and are relatively new to gaming, this might not be the game for you. You’d probably be better off getting a copy of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. That game features a shitload of depth, as well as really good action. Or if you want something simple and insanely hard, get Super Monkey Ball Jr., as that will more than accommodate. But if you remember what it was like to find out that the princess was in another castle, or a story meant that you were chasing a mutant frog down a hole only to find a tank there for no reason, then this might be the game for you. For any old-school gaming soul, whether they remember River City Ransom or not, the game could very well strike them as brilliant.

Oh and by the way: Defeated enemies still shout “BARF!!”


(originally published on 'The Stripe' in October 2004)


Saturday, November 05, 2005

A eulogy of sorts.

Her name was Pamela.

She’s dead now.

But she was alive, once. She was alive, and like oh-so-many people who were alive, who are still living, she had a story. Everyone has a story. And everyone has a story worth telling.

One somewhat gray afternoon, in the winter of 1983, a girl was born.

Her name was Pamela.

At least, that’s what it would eventually become. But on the day that she was born, she had no name. She only had a face, a face with dark eyes that glistened as if they had been washed over with morning dew. She was born without a name, and it would be a great while before she was given one.

Her parents were somewhat different from the norm, in that they believed that names were elusive creatures, things that they hadn’t the right to bestow upon their new pride and joy. A name was something that held wickedness and intelligence within its fragile fingers, things that brought down storms and raised up buildings. A name was something important. Important enough for her to choose on her own.

And so it was, that time passed by. Time went on, and the nameless girl crawled her way through the world, still not speaking, so still not giving herself a name. And as she grew, so did the world. Governments shouted at each other, people quaked and people cowered, insults and lies showering the globe with the insolence of their existence. But she didn’t care. She kept right on growing, as the world did nothing but continue to shout itself to its own inevitable destruction, not bothering to watch something truly important unfold.

And so it was, that she learned to speak. But time is not simple, and the first word she spoke was not her name. It was something that is considered trivial, but in that moment, that moment where the genesis of her words occurred, the one thing that took priority over her world was this: “Duck.”

She was at the park with her mother. She had been alive for two years and four months. Her eyes still gleamed as if they had been moistened by the morning dew. And she grew older.

It was a sunny morning in April when the fateful day finally arrived. Her mother had just gone down to the local supermarket in search of some eggs, getting ready to make a fine breakfast to get the weekend off on the right foot. While this went on, the young girl without a name was sitting on her fathers knee, telling her a story about how he had once found himself almost steeping upon a sleeping baby rattlesnake. His face contorted as he spoke, trying to get a different expression to emerge from his daughter. But she merely sat there, concentration holding itself between her tiny eyebrows, her eyes locked on a point that her father could not make out.

At that moment, her mother slipped on a patch of wet floor that had yet to be graced with a sign warning of its presence. As she tried to gain her balance in mid air, her head came in contact with the edge of a can that was part of a display of canned peaches. She would die in the hospital six hours later.

The nameless girl spoke: “I think Pamela is a nice name, Daddy.”
She was 6 years and 1 day old. Her birthday present had been a shiny red fire truck.

As she grew older, she grew smarter as well. She wasn’t exactly the quickest on tests, nor was she the slowest. But the people around her could tell that she had something within her, something that was always working, some kind of hidden mechanism that churned on and on behind those eyes of hers. She never told them about it. She wasn’t the type to, and they knew it. Just like they knew that she could see beyond them, to things which were far more important. And they loved her for it.

People are not always quick to accept those with eyes like hers; but every once in a great while, a person would also have something else, something within them that matched the intelligence which burned beneath their surfaces. Something that has never really been defined, but draws people with a quiet elegance, with a sense of empowerment, with ease and grace. And so it was, that while Pamela sat staring into the distance, smiling only when the world truly needed it, that she became the charming center of the world nearby.

Time passed.

And as time occurred, so did her stories, as will happen as life moves on.

When she was eleven years old, on a trip to the zoo, she caught her first real glimpse of an emperor penguin. She found that she loved it, and she felt that it loved her. It was a feeling that would last for the rest of her life.

When she was fourteen years old, as she was hiking in some woods with her best friend, a somewhat chubby girl named Jill, Pamela stepped off the path and stepped into a rusty bear trap, a relic of a year gone by. Jill would help her down the mountain, and would never tell her friend how much it amazed her that she didn’t shed one tear, despite the clearly terrible pain. Pamela would have a slight limp that would last for the rest of her life.

When she was seventeen years old, she lost her virginity. Two days after the senior prom. The boy was named Wilmer, and she had made him wait until after prom, for no real reason other than to watch him squirm. They would date for about eight more months after that. And then she would move on.

Like her, life moved swiftly. Buildings fell, and people lived. Buildings grew, and people died. Et cetera, and so on, so it goes. Time passed.

On a perfectly average day in the middle of February, Pamela had planned to meet Jill at a local record store, where the two of them would spend hours upon hours just browsing. They never seemed to buy anything, but that wasn’t the point of it, they just enjoyed each others company. But she never arrived. She was hit by a speeding Chrysler as she attempted to cross the street on a perfectly legal green light. Her dark, wonderfully deep eyes never saw it coming. And so it was, that they lost their gleam, the glisten that made them look as if they were covered by a fresh morning dew. Even without her, time passed by.


There really was a Pamela.

She really was born in 1983, and she really died in 2005.

You probably didn’t know her.

And truth be told, neither did I.

But other people did know her, and they cared about her. They cared enough to mourn, and they cared enough to remind themselves, as well as other people, that their friend had died.

This wasn’t her real story.

But I hope that whoever she was, she would have enjoyed it.

Because everyone has a story. And everyone deserves one.


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