Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The dirt tasted like gritty, dusty pennies.  Kiran did not generally eat dirt as a rule but it was hard to avoid the taste when you get your face ground into it with a dirty boot.  He couldn't tell if the metallic penny flavour came from the iron-rich martian dust which covered everything here or if it was the blood streaming from the various places in his mouth and nose that had been unceremoniously bashed.

It's hard to say how Kiran got into this situation, or if he got into it at all.  All he really know, and all that we know, is that his face was being roughly ground into the rough martian gravel and that there was a long list of experiences which Kiran enjoyed more than this one.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Living in India one of the shows that is most universally enjoyable for the whole family is MasterChef Australia.  At the 8 o'clock hour as the kids are getting ready for bed we will turn it on unless something else is better or if the kids are distracted in their rooms or asleep.  It is a safe show for everyone and the kids love cooking and I enjoy thinking that by watching a TV show I will start producing wonderful dishes at home.

This week has been different.  This week I have watched every episode and have gone into a slight panic whenever we have a power cut in the 30 minutes proceeding 8 o'clock as I don't want to miss it.  What was the change?  What made this week different from every other week?

Marco Pierre White.

Now I am not an epicure that would know that name in text, sorry Marco.  But I recognized his face and new he was one of the great chefs of our age, even if I didn't know anything about him personally or professionally.  So when they announced on Monday that he would be on MasterChef all week I was intrigued.  I always enjoy learning something that I know I didn't know.

Marco Pierre White was introduced as one of the primary forces in defining modern food as well as the man who made Gordon Ramsey cry.  The contestants obviously knew who he was and were immediately intimidated in a way that they often were not when other chefs are on the show, even chefs that one can see from the interviews are well respected.  This intrigued me even more.  In the midst of this thick haze of intimidation and fear Marco began his welcome speech with,  "I am Marco Pierre White, I do not assume you know who I am."  And yet very clearly he did. "I am here to give you the confidence to cook great food."  My quotes through this blog will all be approximations as I cannot find a transcript from the episodes easily.

What struck me about his opening statement was the strange juxtaposition between making focused efforts to intimidate the cooks but saying he was there to give them confidence.  It was easy to see the not only was Marco a great chef but he had great skill with people.  He is known for being a terror, a bully in the kitchen but he also mentored many of today's great chefs.  I was glued from his opening line.  In the middle of the speech he stopped, stepped up to face a chef in the back row, ignoring the rest of the contestants and leaned into the recipient and asked, "Tell me about yourself."  The contestant said, "I'm a bobcat operator and I'm here because I want cooking to change my life."  You could tell he was scared stiff but Marco demanded honesty and he got it.  His intro was carefully sculpted to terrify and establish a strict hierarchy.

Describing his opening speech to my wife I teared up.  Sure I was emotionally and physically exhausted from my recent battle with Typhoid but it was emotional to see a gifted leader at work.  I was glued.  Every day I have watched him not only master of a skilled craft, an art, but a gifted leader and communicator who was raising up other people to levels in the trade which they did not expect of themselves.  The powerful mix of private and public praise and humiliation let people know when they succeeded and when they failed. He propped them up when they were at the breaking point but was brutal when they were below his expectations.  It seemed he could care less about their expectations of themselves.

What really interested me was that he did not focus on the strongest personalities but the frailest ones.  He told one contestant who was trying to put on a strong face for him when he approached her bench, "Never hide your tears."  He then bent the rules a bit when he asked to try her dish even though it was not one of the top 5 dishes to be tried, simply so that he could tell her that her dish was very good and that she should be proud of it.  She went on into the next challenge to take a huge risk which none of the judges, including Marco, thought she could pull off in the time given and blew them away with an excellent dish.  Stuffed turkey neck sausage.  Marco said few professional chefs could even make the dish and that if she could do it in an hour she would be a "Houdini."  She took a risk she would never have taken without him taking the time in the previous challenge to point out to her skill in the midst of her insecurity and it propelled her to unprecedented success.

It is hard for me to express how powerful this week has been for me.  In the last year I have had an official management position at work.  I have been overly cautious, primarily to fearing certain cultural undertones, to set the expectations for my team as high as I hold them for myself.  Much higher than the expectations they have for themselves in a lot of cases.  Unfortunately they have lived up to the expectations I set.  My job as a leader was to raise the standard and I felt that I have failed to do that to the degree that I could have and was met with frustration and disappointment in myself throughout.  My high standards for myself have helped to propel me to the point where I am professionally and I did my team a disservice by not holding them to that same level and helping them to succeed to the same standard.

I know not everyone will rise to the occasion.  I have had several times where I gave people the opportunity to grow and they did not take it, did not grow and excel to the point where they could have.  Watching Marco gave me incredible insight into not only how to better do that in the future but more importantly the benefits that that high level of expectation can produce for those around me.  In my own insecurity this past year I have not been a good Indian manager nor an American one.  Moving forward, though, I have the unique opportunity to learn from this mistake and improve not only my own work but the work of those around me.  There is no B side.  In my code, motorcycles, camping equipment, parenting, husbanding, there is no more "good enough for government work."  One of the most powerful lessons I have learned from India is the damage that "Chalta hai" can produce.  How doing something with minimal effort ALWAYS costs more effort in the long run, and usually when you can least afford to do the work a second or third time.  May I always abhor the consequences of not following my own mother's advice that I habitually ignored as a child.  "Do it right the first time and you only do it once."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Empty Brain

I have, on rare occasion, had the benefit of an empty brain.  Where due to life circumstances or conscious decision I had removed some of the regular inputs into my life.  The last few days I have been thinking of this more regularly and realized that again I need to empty my brain.  A great interview with Trevor Talbert by Brian Levine's Pipes Magazine Radio Show really set me on this train of thought.  He was talking about his various artistic endeavours and that for him to be best able to create something he needed to fill his brain less with the things that others have created.  Empty Brain.  While I am writing about Empty Brain I got pretty distracted but I did stumble across this article from Trevor Talbert which fits in with many of my blogs quite well.

When I read that it struck a terrifying cord in me.  I stumbled across something similar just before going to the Himalyas and so decided to not bring the kindle or any music but to simply take in my surroundings and write if I could.  Unfortunately the hiking kicked my butt and very little writing was written.  I did fill 44 pages of a moleskin with various musings but mostly it is a chronicle of the trip, incomplete and not nearly as introspective as imagined.  And so I returned home thinking the newly awoken commitment to write due to the Morning Pages Experiment and the fresh beauty of the mountains would combine to create post after post of humbling beauty and biting prose.

Then the thing that I was afraid of happened.  My Empty Brain began to fill itself.  At first this was wonderful, I was imaginative and creative again.  I could day dream like I did when I was younger.  My mind was a fertile place once again.  Life and stress and a few major family decisions came up and, like the Tar from Fern Gully, began to infiltrate and pollute the inner recesses of my grey matter.  I began to very quickly lean very heavily on YouTube as my drug of choice to chase away the voices in my mind.  I know that there are probably those brave souls in our wonderful world who are not haunted by self loathing, depression, and suicidal tendencies.  Unfortunately I am not one of those brave souls.  I can understand a life without darkness as little as they can understand a life punctuated by it.  And so my Empty Brain became a weapon against myself and so I filled it.  Motorcycle repair, BBC's Farm series of videos, the Tested Channel with Adam Savage building super cool stuff.  All of these things filled my mind so that I was not free to fill it.

And then the last few weeks I have worked myself close to health again.  I didn't run during this period so the Marathon is no longer an obtainable goal.  I didn't write for weeks and lost the progress I had made towards building a writing habit.  I had again left scars of uncertainty in my precious children.  But I will not focus on what was lost.  So I began starting to write again.  And this week is a week free of YouTube to allow my brain space to think and to give me time to get my spiritual house in order.  So again I enter into the unknown, that place where I let my brain lead me down terrifyingly wonderful paths.  H.P. Lovecraft terrifies me that much more as I recognize the wanderlust of his characters down the paths of the mind.  To allow the mind to stretch and grow until it breaks.  Maybe some people are not afraid that there senses will snap and they will loose their mind.  Maybe I've read too many Victorian novels.  But down the rabbit hole we go, once more my friends.  I still doubt the great American Novel will begin to appear on these pages but at least something will.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


2 days ago I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when I suddenly thought about what I would do differently if I had my teenage days to do over, knowing what I know now.  The first thing to cross my mind was girls.  I probably hold the record for spending the most time talking and thinking about dating girls and not actually doing so.  Waste of time.  The other, complimentary thought, was to buy a motorcycle and waste my time and money thinking about that instead.  The thought that hit me hard out of the thought cloud and surprised me with its intensity was that I should have worked hard and where I didn't work hard, the consequence was actually my own damn fault.

I was one of those annoying kids who didn't have to do much of anything to succeed in school.  When one is in school and you can't succeed in physical activities, making money, or getting girls doing well in school seems like a pretty crappy super power.  It is, I see now, a pretty rocking superpower second only to the pig's ability to turn vegetables into bacon.  But I digress.  Every superhero has their weakness.  Their kryptonite.  Their instant kill.  For the easy-schoolers, as I will call them, it tends to be work.  I was not the only easy-schooler to have this problem.  When you don't have to do the basic work day in and day out that those around you are doing, noticeably school work, you get a very weak work muscle.  I am not saying that easy-schoolers get the best grades.  I don't think they generally do.  I also am not saying that I am brilliant.  Even in my limited classic-rock/hackisack peer group I would say I was in the middle of the pack in terms of shear intelligence & brilliance.  Some of my friends were genuinely bright dudes.  I don't think that the easy-schoolers tend to get the best grades primarily due to the fact that their work ethic is about as strong as twisty-tie holding up the golden gate bridge.  As long as no work is required, easy-schoolers excel.  As soon as something needs to be done that takes some work, it doesn't happen and grades drop as a result.  They often still tend to be in the upper percentiles but I am convinced that easy-schoolers make up very few of the valedictions, especially at the high school level.  Intelligence does not equal wisdom and a lot of easy-schoolers, myself included, didn't do the work necessary to be at the top of our class, though it would have taken a lot less work than it would have taken other folks.  The people that did the work, spent the hours studying and completing assignments, they were the valedictions.  Gumption and hard work blew natural intelligence out of the water.  The unscientific fact that a lot of the brightest high-school kids question the shallow system, see no value in it, and tend to smoke a lot of pot instead only serves to bolster my hypothesis.  

Unfortunately I was stuck in the middle with you.  Not quite bright enough to realize the weaknesses in modern society and watch it all go up in smoke; coupled with my real fear that if I ever touched a joint to my lips Mr. Vogeley would immediately walk into the room and give me a disappointed look and crush my dreams of being a man forever; I didn't quite make it that far.  On the other hand my crippling lack of work ethic prevented me from truly succeeding in the scholastic realm.  One particular experience marked this enigma with the kind of memory-force that I have never been able to shake.  With the kind of lasting consequences that weren't enough to really alter my life path but seriously altered the way I thought about myself and would handle situations in the future.

The year was Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Seven.  The Grade was 7th.  The teacher:  Mrs. Thayer.  I saw a re-run episode of 7 Rules the other day which has a teacher saying, "I don't make the rules, I just enforce them to the letter."  That was Mrs. Thayer.  It was in the 7th grade at my particular educational establishment that the students take a test to see if they were prepared to enter into algebra in the 8th grade or if they were to pass onto pre-algebra and take algebra in the 9th grade, their first year of High School.  The educational establishment in question divided the students of each grade into "teams" of about 60 - 80 students.  I was called up to Mrs. Thayer's desk one day to be informed that although I had the 2nd highest algebra readiness score in my team I would not be entering into algebra the next year because I had a grade of a C and I needed a B, maybe an A, to get into algebra.  I remember saying, "But I got the 2nd highest score in the team."  And she replied, "But you have a C."  

By the time I had returned to my desk I had written off math.  It was really a shame because I enjoyed math, I still to this day am one of those strange people that stand in awe of math.  10 X 10 = 100.  Have you ever thought of that?  Amazing.  I'm mystified by civilizations that had a base 7 number system and how they did calculations that way.  I am bowled over by formulas that work every time.  There is a wonderful trustworthiness in normal math.  I also understand math.  I understand how the numbers work and interact with each other.  But by the time I had awkwardly squeezed my pubescent bulk into the desk I was a devoted English/History guy.  That was it.  It was an easy transition.  I had already tested with a post college reading level and I loved history.  From that day forward I averaged C's in math because it wasn't my thing.  The only year I earned an A was in Geometry during 10th grade when my teacher allowed me to do the homework while she lectured.  In the 11th grade I actually cheated on homework to not fail, sorry mom.  I was caught and never cheated again but my repugnant behaviour just shows the level to which I had given up on my own success and integrity.  Cheating is a horrible mixture of deceit, laziness, and theft.  But I remember standing there at the desk of one of the greatest teachers that I decided to not grow under, sweating profusely on the verge of creating vomit being told that I would fail his class if this ever happened again.  So after 3 days of reformed homework completion I simply stopped turning in the assignments.  

I was a year behind all of my friends in math and therefore science.  I missed out some of the great fun I had with them in English & History, the great discussions & learning.  I missed out on that because I had a flawed view of work as well as a weak will to fight.  Homework, up until college, was merely practice so you could pass the tests.  I didn't understand getting graded down for not doing homework if you aced the tests, which I was doing in 7th grade.  I could finish the multiplication tables fastest, I knew the concepts, homework was (and I still believe for the most part is today) a waste of time.  Mrs. Thayer apparently did not espouse this theory of education.  I didn't fight for it.  I felt like I had earned it, I felt like I had deserved it but instead of fighting for it, instead of arguing that if I raise my grade by the end of the year could I attend, instead of making a case and bring it to the top of the educational hierarchy I turned around and said fuck it.  Sorry mom.  

My family culture at the time was also very victim based.  When things happened they always happened to us.  When things happened to us we would get angry, grumble in defiance at the injustice, say fuck it, and walk away.  I gloried in this mindset because I had enough responsibility and guilt that weighed upon me at the time and I wasn't going to be at fault for the system.  It has been almost 2 decades since this event and I think about it on a monthly basis. 18 years and me sitting down and being robbed of math has haunted me.  It comes up in conversations where it doesn't really apply, it haunts me in the midst of my depressive slumps, it has been a major defining moment.  And I kid you not, in 18 years only the past 6 months have I begun to stop blaming Mrs. Thayer for my failure in math.  For 18 years I had the audacity to blame someone who was following policy for my failure to keep my grades up and do the work expected of me.  For 18 years I held an old shrivelled lady responsible for my failure to not fight for something that I wanted and deserved.   For my entire adult life I have failed to acknowledge my own shortfall and that has haunted me, tainted me, and I'm ready to exercise the ghost and be done with it.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

To Do or Not To Do

I haven't written in sometime.  I was hoping that the crisp & clear mountain air would clear my mind and clarify my future.  Coming home I had more questions & less answers.  It was a few weeks battling with major doubts and depression that my family decided that our season here in India is at an end.  So over the next few months we will begin to close this chapter of our life and figure out what our future holds.  Part of why my writing has stopped as you can see the 30 day exercise has concluded for the other contributors and unfortunately it didn't develop into a habit.  Scipio's work I dearly loved and now I'm not sure if any of the story lines will have a conclusion.  Maybe once we get into the same time zone we can work out at the very least some game-able clash between our forces to dictate the story line's conclusion.

The decision to stay or go in India was very difficult as it was one of those decisions that had to be made.  By not deciding we were deciding to stay.  Not deciding and staying by default robbed us of some of the intentionality that we had once had and we needed to stay for a reason or leave for a reason.  I've always had the habit of not making decisions to make decisions.  Whenever we were in a class and the teacher told the community to find a partner or a group I usually lingered until someone else chose me or I was assigned into the group that was still missing members.  This almost always did not work in my favour.  When one does well scholastically and doesn't aggressively make sure to work one's way into a group of students with similar standards the socially adepts underachievers will very quickly recruit you.  Unfortunately I couldn't wait this time around for someone to choose for us and we chose to return home.

It is interesting that one of my repeated messages in this blog to myself has been to get up and go do something.  That has been very hard since I got back from the trip.  Debilitating depression coupled with a lack of knowing what my future held severely demotivated me from doing much of anything.  It is hard to invest around you and spend time making things, both concrete and abstract, if you are going to leave those things behind anyway.  Now that we are leaving there are a few things I'd like to make before we go but a lot of my attention has shifted to the going and getting there, which I am attempting to curtail as much as possible, but it is hard.

I am going to continue to attempt to do some writing here as it has been writing here that really helped me before my Himalayan trip, which was fantastic & brutal by the way.  I do think, however, that on top of this outlet there is a book which I titled and never really wrote several years ago and I feel as though the nebulous idea finally has a few legs to stand on and so I'm going to see if we can't find some more legs in the strange place where thoughts become words.  Some of you know that I was working on a book earlier this year which probably will go no further simply because in my research I could not prove my thesis.  Though the thesis was not necessarily wrong, it did not have the scope that I thought it would have and so I decided it would be literary dishonesty to try and make it work.  I'm glad I didn't try to fake it but I was a bit disappointed that a ball that finally had began to roll hit a stump and stopped rolling.  Onward and upward.  I've been doing a bit of daydreaming recently as a major family shift in my position at work as well as my geographical location allows a certain width to re-invent oneself.  To stop doing things that have developed into bad habits and start focusing on things that I should have been doing all along.

In the midst of the whirlwind of what I wish I was doing one of the things that stood out to me was that I would really enjoy writing and I shouldn't stop.  I will not become an author by just writing in an obscure blog everyday but I definitely won't become an author if I don't.  But I guess author is like musician.  I am an author because I am authoring right now.  Musician is not a title strictly reserved for those who sell platinum records nor to child prodigies but simply to those who music and so I will continue to auth.  The other swirling ideas were commune handyperson/pipesmith/bike customizer.  As hard as I try to be a craftsman in the code I write for a living, the lack of tangible art is difficult for me to quantify in that way.  I would love to be a craftsperson for a living.  I probably wouldn't like the lack of consistent income, the ups and downs that go with living that way, but I love creating things with my hands.  I love motorcycles but though that is a wide market it is flooded and I don't know if I'm actually very good at it.  Pipe creation I think I have the beginnings for a skill there but that market is a narrow market that may also be flooded with people of my level.  Until I publish that book that allows me some way to smooth out the financial highs and lows of the craftsperson's life it will probably remain a simple dream of mine.

My parents in their self-confessed "fruit & nuts days" attempted a communal life, living off the land.  There short time attempting that with friends convinced them that it was not for them.  Apparently I am genetically predisposed to the same folly.  I love the idea of feeding my family directly with the work of my hands and building/fixing.  But those who have the freedom to do that tend to start out from a pretty strong financial situation that gives the flexibility to not earn a living in the normalized sense.  If I were to spring for a few acres I would have that pesky mortgage of said acrage to deal with that would require some normalized income.  I don't think most banks consider vegetables legal tender.  I also might possibly hate it.  Who knows.  I sure don't.  But until that sweet book deal gives me some plush bank account that lets me buy those acres with cash, I'll keep trucking along hoping to find that bit of peace between who I am and what I do.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Remember to Flush

Here to There Part 10

With the help of the medical staff, the wounded had been taken indoors when trouble arrived.  Corporal Straugh and Private Jacobs stood in the road and waited while the Corporate issued buggies rolled to a stop.  Heavily armed Colonial Security forces piled out of the vehicles.  Both of the soldiers groaned when the Chief of Security, their one time prisoner, joined them.

The Chief approached them, flanked by several of his men, and addressed Corporal Straugh, "I remember you.  From our first meeting." He leered at them in open contempt.  Then he motioned to his men.  They all readied their rifles to fire on the two remaining soldiers.

The Chief pulled himself into a commanding pose and spoke, "Let's try this again shall we?  You will surrender your weapons and allow us to escort you to a safe place, or I will have my men fill you both so full of blaster fire, that they'll need to I.D. the bodies from your dog tags.  And gentlemen, I expect that you will be grateful for this generous offer," He rubbed the spot where Lunk had hammered his skull with the butt of his rifle, and waited for a reply.

Straugh threw his rifle on the ground and raised his hands in the air. "Do it Jacobs, they've got us out gunned," he commanded.

Jacobs shook his head, "No way. I'm not giving up my gun.  They can come take it from my cold dead hands."

The Chief smiled, "I would like that my friend, but I will give you the chance to surrender peacefully one more time.  The chance that you did not give me.  Corporal, I suggest you talk some sense into your friend," he added with a hiss.

"Drop it Private," said Straugh.  "The Sergeant is depending on us to stay alive.  They're all depending on us.  That is an order, Private."  Straugh turned to face Jacobs and put his hand on his shoulder, "Put the gun on the ground, son."

Jacobs cursed and threw the gun in the dirt of the road.  Straugh gave his shoulder a squeeze and turned to face the Chief.  "We surrender. Our wounded are in the hospital, we want your guarantee they will continue to be cared for."

The Chief grinned, "Arrest them.  Find any in the hospital that can walk and bring them with us as well."

The Security forces were quick and efficient.  In short order their weapons had been seized, Private Waters and the rebel prisoner had been rounded up and joined Straugh and Jacobs in the Security Headquarters building.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure II: Part 2

You feel like your best bet is to keep the brutal sun to your back and head into the jungle. The Captain will have to fend for himself. Besides, you've had it with his crazy ramblings anyway. All doom and gloom with that guy, you remember.

Still a little woozy, you take one, last look at the ship-wreckage against the shoreline in the distance. You start your trek into the jungle...

Before long, each step goes from hard to near impossible, but at least you are in the shade. However, these bugs are relentless. You pause for a minute, and think that you hear some rushing water far to the north.

*An annoying swarm of mosquitos* arrives from above.

You are hungry
You are thirsty

Exits: East, West, North, South, Up

Something Something Heros part 4

Nealoo the priest of Alilili glared at them, "This is all your fault.  Alilili says so too."  She crossed her arm and turned her back with an aggressive huff.  "Let me know when it's working again and maybe I'll forgive you.  Alilili might take some convincing though."  She began tapping her foot, and busying herself with not looking at them.

 Rylie bared his teeth at her back and flexed the fingers on outstretched hands in total frustration, "My fault! Mine. Me. You're blaming this on me?  Seriously?"  He growled and stomped his foot as he stood in disbelief.  "The wizard did it, for Alilili's sake.  Just ask him. Thobis, tell her."  

 Rylie spun to look at Thobis as the wizard conjured a ball of light with a snap of his fingers.  Thobis chuckled, "Don't look at me thief.  You're the one who failed to spot the trap on the door."  He bent down and examined the ruined remains of the lock on the giant double doors.  

 Rylie shouted at him, "Are you kidding me?  The trap was a magic ward that was only triggered when you insisted we didn't need to pick the lock."  He simmered in impotent rage, "You told me you could just burn it off."  Rylie began speaking in a lisping, irritating voice that sounded nothing like Thobis, "Oh don't worry guys, I got just the thing!"  Rylie spun in a wild circle and crossed his eyes while pantomiming furiously, "I'm a dumb wizard and I can do anything with my amazing magic!"  Rylie stopped and pointed at Thobis who was now grinding his teeth and turning an interesting shade of red, "Yeah, anything, like melt the damn lock and trap us down here."

 Thobis erupted with pent up excuses, "I don't sound like that, you obnoxious little runt.  I didn't lead you all the way down here to be insulted because you couldn't do your job."  He turned on Nealoo the priest of Alilili, "Hey doesn't your Goddess have some power to get us out of here?  I'm starting to doubt she does anything at all!"  

 Wrong thing to say.

 Nealoo priest of Alilili whirled on Thobis in that instant like a cornered badger.  She seemed to grow taller as she advanced on him, while the air around her grew measurably colder.  Her eyes began to glow with unearthly fire, and a guttural growl escaped her throat.  "What. Did.  You.  Say.  Wizard," the words poured out of the white robed priestess, but they were not the voice of the person they knew as Nealoo priest of Alilili.  

 Thobis would have passed through the solid granite cavern wall at the moment if could have.  He stammered something unintelligible.

"Stand aside you useless worm, and let a true magic user show you how things get done," spoke the voice of Not-Nealoo.  She brushed Thobis aside with a casual shrug.  He landed in a heap ten feet away.  Rylie was nowhere to be seen.  She raised her hands into the air and with a shout, glowing bands of power rushed into the massive doors.  With an ear splitting explosion the doors were gone. Bits of them flew down the corridor in every direction.  "You shall not pass, my holy behind," came the voice of Not-Nealoo one final time. Then if was over, and She collapsed in a heap by the door.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Here to There part 9

The fight had been fierce and frantic.  Jacobs and Straugh had arrived in the nick of time to drive the remaining creatures back into the wilderness. The creatures had turned timid when a lucky shot had dropped the power armored rebel.  Timball and Sheng were both in critical condition after being savaged by the creatures, and Sergeant Kandrini was barely conscious after taking a heavy blow to the back of her head. 

 The only real victory was that the rebel was alive.  His power armor had soaked up a hell of a lot of fire, and in the end it had saved his life when the telling blow hit.  Jacobs had flown into a rage, and put a blaster shot in each of the creatures that was still moving before anyone could stop him.  Straugh was busy calling down the Gravitycraft, while the rest bled slowly.

 They loaded the wounded on board, then Jacobs and Straugh dragged the prisoner on board as well.  "Get us back to base, Waters," came Sergeant Kandrini's weak command.  Waters gaped at her before Corporal Straugh stepped in and got him moving back to the colony, and what passed for first aid on this planet.  With the familiar dull thrum of the gravity jets they were off.

Meanwhile, back in the clearing, other eyes watched the soldiers depart.  They noted the efficiency with which the native creatures had been executed before they left.  More of the creatures flooded the clearing and some cried in wild grief at their passing.  A human walked among them to the spot where the rebel had fallen.  He called out to his native allies, and promised them revenge.


 The dirty, squat, prefab buildings of the colony came back into view as the sun was setting.  Corporal Straugh pointed to the building that housed the colony’s hospital, “Land us right there Private Waters.”  He turned to the only other non wounded soldier left, “Private Jacobs, I want you in that hospital as soon as we land, getting the doctor ready for this, this.”  He waved his hands at the blood stained uniforms of the other passengers. “Just get them ready, understood?”

 Jacobs nodded, and stood at the door as the ship lurched into landing in the middle of the street.  He ripped it open before the ship finally settled fully to the ground.  He jumped out and disappeared from sight.  

 Sergeant Kandrini looked up as the ship vibrated with the landing, “Help them first.  I’m going to be fine.” She flashed what would have been an encouraging smile if her face and teeth weren't covered in her own blood.  

 Corporal Straugh moved over and looked at her eyes which struggled to focus on anything.  “Shit.  Waters!  I want this prisoner under your gun until we have these three stabilized.”  He looked at the makeshift bandages on Timball and Sheng.  Private Timball would have given him a stern lecture on the proper use of Corporate first aid kits had he been conscious.  He hoped there was still a chance he might get that lecture yet.  He climbed from the craft carrying his limp body, and laid it on the ground.  Then he went back for Sheng.  

 He’d began to move the massive soldier, who had been covered in dozens of deep bites and scratches from the savaging he’d experienced before breaking the creature’s neck. Sheng had somehow managed to take three more of them down before the fight was over.

 As he got him to the edge of the door, he heard angry voices coming from the direction of the hospital.  It was Jacobs.  “I said hurry the fuck up!  People are hurt and you’re going to do everything in your power to fix them or I’m going to hurt You.  DO I make myself clear you frontier loving piece of Corporate trash?  Move IT!”  Jacobs and a small group of uniformed medical personnel moved out of the door then.  Jacobs kept up his yelling the whole time as he herded them to the bodies.  

 Straugh stepped up then and assumed control, “Private Jacobs!  Thank you for rounding up these fine folks.  Listen up we have three soldiers in bad shape.  Which one of you is the doctor,” he demanded.  

 Private Jacobs spat at the ground the civilians had just walked on.  “Ain't nothing Corporal,” he tossed a half-assed salute and moved to the ship.  “Waters, help me with Lunk.  He weighs a fucking ton.”

 With Jacobs no longer terrorizing them, one of the group stepped forward, “I’m the doctor, you two.” She pointed to two of her people,  “You heard the Corporal.  Go get gurneys and stretchers.  Darnell, you’re with me.”   Her and another man moved to Private Timball.  

For a moment Corporal Straugh allowed himself to relax and believe everything might work out alright after all.  Then he saw the Corporate buggies headed their way from the Governor’s compound.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Here to There part 8

Something moved in the mottled shadows of the underbrush.  Lunk froze and tensed his finger on the trigger.  One heartbeat. Two. On the count of three a chilling shriek to the left caused him to snap his head in that direction to try and spot the source.  He didn't know what hit him, just that it was big, hairy, and pissed off.  He cursed at himself for falling for the distraction that gave it the opening to strike as much as the pain from the blows it rained down on his head and body.

Private Timball watched the thing erupt from the treeline and hit the massive soldier and drive him to the ground.  He raised his rifle and began taking aim at the beast.  As he did so, he noticed another one come rushing out into the open.  It wore a strange harness and held something sharp in one of it's hands.  "Sergeant!" he cried while starting to move and turn his weapon on the newcomer.  "We've got company. Hostiles are Native creatures.  They appear to be tool users.  Requesting backup right now."

The sergeant was already sprinting towards Lunk and Timball.  More of the creatures were coming out of the trees now.  Timball was starting to fire on them in short meaured bursts like he'd been taught.  The creatures were shrieking and calling back and forth to each other as they moved to circle around him as Lunk continued to struggle with his assailant.   "Straugh, ! Jacobs!" she called into her communicator.  "Contact at the treeline.  Lunk is down.  Get over here!"

With a another long stride she arrived, and brought her rifle up to fire. One of them jumped at Timball and it's weapon smashed his shoulder and glanced off his body armor.  He screamed in pain just the same.  Just as she was about to start laying down covering fire a rifle blast exploded the dirt at her feet. Her whole body poised to fire whirled and sought it's source.  Blaster fire meant something more dangerous then wild animals with sticks and stones.

A large bulky shape moved out of the trees then.  It was a human in a suit of fully powered combat armor.  The local atmosphere and a year of living in the jungle had taken the sheen off it's once glowing shell, but it was still going to be a real pain to crack that she thought in a panic.  A deep gruff voice called out from what she assumed was a member of the survey team, "This one!  Kill this one.  She is the chief."  Two of the bigger creatures moved away from the assault on Timball and Lunk and began moving her way.

Anna cursed and fired at the heavily armored threat.  Her shot hit the mark, but it was deflected by the power suit.  She didn't have time to aim for a weak point as the two creatures closed in from behind while the Surveyor advanced firing his blaster rifle indiscriminately.  Luckily he's not a great shot in that bulky suit, thought Anna. She found herself now actively fighting to stay alive.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A False Fresh Start part 3

Previous: part 2

He was leaving the park behind now.  Memories of Kate's voice echoed in his mind. Slowly he peddled.  Then fast up the hill, then a leisurely coast down it's far side.  His knee throbbed now.  He focused on his riding.  It would not do to fail now.  Home.  He would be there soon.  Safe.  Kate had been so kind.  He mentally reviewed everything he had said to her.  He weighed and judged her every response.  A laugh here, a smile there.  The awkward silences when he did not have a response.  Why had there been so many of those?

He closed his eyes and took a ragged breath to clear these memories. When he opened them again, he realized he was still riding his bike.  Pay attention! He was coming to a crosswalk too fast.  The light hadn't changed.  Brakes! There was a terrifying screech, and arms and body tensed and fought the front wheel as the entire bike bucked and twisted under the strain of the sudden stop.  Time slowed as the bike surged off the curb.  No!  Yesterday had been so perfect.  With massive effort, the bike was dragged onto the curb as horns blasted and angry voices shouted in frustration.

On shaky legs, he stumbled back.  Blinding sweat burned and clouded vision.  Hacking, labored breathing echoed beneath the raging wall of sound pouring from the busy road.  Another man, waiting for the light to change so he could cross, glanced at him occasionally, but made no move to interfere. With a shudder he dropped to sit on the warm concrete, with his bike laid out beside him.  He put his head between his knees and struggled to control the panic.

So close, came the thought. Too close.  He remembered Kate.  He stood again and composed himself.  In his mind, he could see her. She was standing in the sun.  He picked up his bike.  She was giving him her number, in case there was any issue with the bike.  The light changed, and he started to walk the bike across.  He would never see her or talk to her again, he knew.  On the far side of the road he climbed back on the bike.  There was no chance. She was gone. He knew he wasn't strong enough. Burning pain lanced through his knee as he began peddling. He would replay their meeting over and over again in his mind.  Up ahead he could see his street.  Some part of him trapped deep inside raged and cried at the loss.  He peddled faster.  It swam in darkness, drenched in it's own tears.  He was home.  Safe. At last.  Yesterday had been perfect.

The end.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Something Something Heros part 3

There was a terrifying rumble in the deeps that shook the bones and rattled teeth.  "Sorry about that," said Nealoo the priest of Alilili as she placed both hands over her stomach.  "I should have eaten that pie after all I guess."

The trio of Adventurers stood at a fork in the passage.  Noone picked it up.  "Great.  These jokes are going to kill us before the monsters can," muttered Rylie.  "Listen, Thobis. You're the leader of this group I guess.  Which way should we go here."  He gestured to the three passages that split in different directions.  Each as different in appearance as it was in smell and other important passage identifying characteristics.

Thobis stood in the middle of the three exits and stroked his beard while considering his options.  "Hmmm," he purred sagely.  "I like this brightly lit one.  It seems to be well-travelled.  Probably the safest."  He puffed up his chest and crossed his arms over his too large belly.  "How's that for leadership!"

"Yeah, sure," Rylie grimaced.  "That's clearly not a trap or a path to certain death."

Nealoo the priest of Alilili giggled, "Come on Thobis, at least put a little effort into this.  I thought wizards were supposed to be smart or something."

Thobis grumbled and kicked at an imaginary rock.  "C'mon guys!  Cut me slack here.  It has to be the best.  Here I'll prove it."  He picked up a bit of loose gravel and threw it down the large well lit passage.  It bounced and skipped on the well worn stones; the sound of it's journey echoing in as they all held their breath in anticipation.  For a brief moment after the stone came to a stop the silence became overwhelming as the trio stared at the passage.  Thobis pointed at it, and BOOM!  A stone as big as the passage itself fell from the ceiling onto the tiny stone.  For a moment all vision was lost as a dust cloud billowed out in it's wake.  "Yikes," managed Thobis in a whisper.

"So...door number two?" said Rylie with a clap of his hands?

Thobis snapped out of it and shook the dust out of his beard, "Right! Right. The one I meant to pick is this one here on the left."  He moved to stand in front of the smallest of the passages.  It was barely big enough for a Grue to move through, and full of spiderwebs.  A flickering cold blue light could be seen in the depths.  "Huh, huh?" Thobis moitioned at the cramped, dirty, and eerie tunnel seeking approval.

"Alilili says no to spiders, and dying in dirty hobbit holes," said Nealoo priest of Alilili as she crossed her arms and shook her head with fervent enthusiasm.  "No way!" she added.

With a quick glance at Rylie, who was already walking to the third passage, Thobis sighed, "Well, that settles that."  He pulled himself to his full height and pointed with dramatic intensity at the remaining tunnel, "We go that way!"

Rylie moved to the last tunnel, and peered into it's deep, dark, depths.  The brackish scent of salt water wafted up on the gentle breeze caressing their faces,  "I don't suppose either of you brought any torches?"

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Comic Eighteen

This comic was generated by pairing a random line of text from a table with a random image from a directory. Clicking on the link above will take you to the website for this 'avant-garde' project. Some comics the website generates might be unfunny, but there are roughly 9000 different comic combinations (and growing) and that is part of the fun!

June 14: 'Ere we go

“More!”  screamed Dragzig the Lawd as his crushed Snogwhistle under his massive fist.  This was the 319th time that Snogwhistle had experienced head trauma since breakfast.  He would have been ruminating over that fact as he robbed his throbbing cranium if he knew the word “ruminating” or if he could have counted to 319.  His counting ability had deteriorated significantly when he woke up last week to realize that rats had chewed of 1 toe and pieces of 2 of his fingers.

He shuffled over to the tallest rib protruding from the massive carcass, climbed to the top of it and pulled back, leaning, and swinging with all of his might.  By human standards this carcass had “turned” but from the prospective of the greens you just couldn't walk away from a dead Stone Troll.  They were chewy but so was Old Thump when he was still thumpin'.  Unfortunately Old Thump, and the gang's central source of muscle, had met with a spear to the eye.  Normally a spear to the eye would have simply reduced Old Thump's already limited 3 dimensional intelligence and hand eye coordination.  But this had been no normal adventure.  Old Thump had seen the world in this dungeon.  In search of a highly unspecific treasure of alluded great value Dragzig had lead his collection of boys into the “secrit bak dore” of this magnificent labyrinth and they had found evil wizards, giant rats, spiders of all sizes, and undead in various forms.  All of these cross cultural experiences had effected Old Thump.  In the midst of his mind blowing stupidity he had been able to, just last week, string 2 words together into the semblance of a sentence.  With the simple utterance of “more dat” Old Thump's brain had increased in size.  The first time any Toll's brain had increased in size since birth.  The unfortunate repercussion of this developmental miracle outside of the 2 gobos and a number of snottlings to high for Snogwhistle to now count due to Old Thump's magnificent temper as a result of his newly acquired migraines, was that sharp, prodding things could now enter his stoney skull and reach deep enough to penetrate his oversized brain.  This is what 1 strange toad creature's flint spear was able to do 2 days after Old Thump had experienced his intellectual reincarnation.

Dragzig the Lawd did not want to pass on the opportunities for nourishment provided by a troll corpse so he ordered the boys to Tucker In and they opened the casks of strange green and blue fuid which were kept by the strange toad creatures.  They then began to imbibe the strange liquors with gusto.  One of the primary reasons Old Thump had much of a corpse left was that a good portion of the gang had been unconscious or worse from the amphibian concoctions and were not in much condition to tucker in at all.  Dragzig had been worried about being attacked with most of his boys incapacitated but luckily for him and the gang the various odors produced by the physical side effects of the toad brews as well as the now rotting Troll carcass had provided an effective deterrent to investigation of this particular passage.  Now if you have ever encountered a troll of any variety but particularly a stone troll you will know that they do not smell pleasant even in the best of times.  That pungent aroma combined with the stink and rot of death is an unpleasant thing entirely.  Now orcs, goblins, snotlings, and the other varieties of greens all have various bio fluids which are all together different than those of humans.  We may refer to them as blood, snot, sputum, urine, etc simply because they seem to manifest themselves in similar ways and they are words we can wrap our brains around.  Any Verdologist will tell you, however, that though greens have many bodily fluids, they all stink.  And so moments after the greens began guzzling these strangely colored potions blood began to spray from eyeballs, snot erupted from various orifices, trousers were dirtied.  The well worn dungeon floor was thick with the stuff and the combined odor produced made the various denizens and adventurers of the dungeon assume that only a massive beast could produce such a smell.  This had kept them safe up until now.

What Dragzig could not quite articulate but what he felt internally was that if several bands of adventurers joined together they would be brave enough to take on such a reeking monstrosity.  In the great cliché of massive mysterious dungeons filled with strange creatures for no apparent reason two of the basic guiding principles are that 1) Big monsters smell worse than small monsters and 2) all monsters have treasure secreted about them and the bigger monsters had more of it.  The first principle had kept the boys safe until now but the second one was going to be their undoing.  What Dragzig also knew, and several of the other canny boys were wondering, was that with Old Thump gone their remarkable good fortune in these caves had turned.  He had done an immaculate job smashing and cracking and taking innumerable wounds while the other boys had been able to dispatch all enemies that they had faced. Now those darts, arrows, spears, and swords would be cutting into significantly softer orc and goblin flesh and their numbers would dwindle quickly in this toxic work environment.

Snogwhistle turned to see Dragzig heft his weight up from his throne, supported on the backs of other snottlings, gaze around and utter, “Ere we go.”  With that the band flew into motion, Snogwhistle jumped down off Old Thump's protruding rib still shaking and coughing from the exertion.  Picked up the little tin pot that acted as his helmet, put it on his head with a jaunty tilt, adjusted the rag that covered his giblets, and began actively looking busy as the boys loaded up and began moving through the passages into the unknown darkness.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Two Syllables - Nin-Ja

I didn't feel like writing anything today, so I dug up an old story I wrote with a co worker back in 2007.  We had bonded over a mutual love of the terrible action movies of the 80s and 90s and their stars, like Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and others.  

So, we began sending these emails back and forth.  I think our original intent was to make a comic book, so some of the earlier ones have a script format, while some of the later ones are less so.  Anyway, I did a little editing, but not a lot.  Hopefully you enjoy, I think it ended up all together being around 4500 words.

Opening scene

A heavy rain on an inner city street.  A single set of headlights as a lone car races through.

Caption: Rain was once thought to be a cleansing experience.

A dark alley seen from above.  It is filled with junk and covered in trash. Water rushes by in small rivers filled with it.  two groups of gangsters wearing colors on their leather jackets and looking nervous.  A drug deal is going down.

caption: The true filth of this place won't be washed away so easily.

Closeup the alley.

Two of the gangsters are talking.  One has an aluminum briefcase.  The other has a mohawk and seems agitated.  The others nervously watch the area and caress the guns inside their jackets.

A stroke of lightning with the associated thunder clap.

In the alley the nervous gangsters panic and draw their guns.  One bumps into and knocks over a steel trashcan revealing an alley cat that hisses and races away.  One of the more jumpy of the gangsters fires off a few shots in it's direction.

After the commotion the gangsters nervously laugh off their paranoia and some begin reholstering their guns when a white dog appears from the darkness.

The nervous laughter intensifies and the previous shooter is mocked and asked if he's gonna shoot the dog too.  He turns to reply "Hey screw you guys!"

But he is cut off as two shuriken appear in his head and neck.  The others react with shock as their laughter dies on their lips.

The sound of him hitting the ground with a splash is punctuated with a deep growling.  The dog jumps mohawk.  Mohawk gets his arm up in time to protect his neck but goes down screaming.

The others move to grab the dog, but that's when...

Splash image:  Ninja with katana raised and framed by falling rain descends from above.

In a short, silent, and bloody series of strikes.  The other gangsters are cut down.  As the last one splashes to the ground.  We get a shot of the ninja standing in a ready battle stance surrounded by their bodies.  A mixture of rain and blood pours from the tip of his blade.

Meanwhile the dog still has mohawk pinned, but mohawk has ceased to even notice as his attention is now on the deadly ninja.
Mohawk:  Wh..Who?!  What are you?!

The Ninja turns, scoops up the briefcase, and calls off the dog.  Before moving to leave the alley.

Mohawk cradling his savaged and bleeding arm climbs to his knees and yells at the departing ninja.
Mohawk:  Yo!  Pajama man, you can't take that!

The ninja stops and cocks his head.  The dog looks up at him.
Mohawk:  Yeah that's right!  My boss ain't gonna like it none if he don't get the goods in that suitcase pajama man.

Mohawk is starting to climb to his feet.  His good arm is grabbing the pistol in his jacket as he continues yelling.
Mohawk: So, why don't you just leave that suitcase here like a good little boy and..

Mohawk's words are cut off by the shuriken that pincushion his body.  Notably his good arm and  the hand that holds his pistol.

The ninja is crouched and facing Mohawk.  His arm still outstretched from flinging the deadly throwing stars.  His head is bowed but it raises with his voice as he speaks for the first time.

Ninja:  I.  Am. NINJA!  

As Mohawk collapses back to his knees.  The ninja sheaths his katana and begins to leave for the last time.

Ninja:  Tell your boss, should you survive, that searching for me will be like searching for the moon and stars.  I am always there watching and just out of reach.  Tell him this and tell him that it has not ended tonight.  It has only begun.


Part two:

Two men in suits and ties move down a spartan hallway.  One is a large man with porkchop sideburns.   He wears gold rimmed aviator glasses.  The other is thin with immaculate slicked black hair and a pencil thin mustache.

Sideburns: What the hell happened, fool?  The Boss man ain't gonna be happy to hear this for sure.

Mustache: Certainly not.  I fear our trust in this riff raff was, sadly, misplaced.

They reach the end of the hallway and approach a set of double doors with two large men armed with uzi submachine guns guarding it.

Sideburns: Yo, the Boss sent for us.

Guard with a scowl: He was expecting you 10 minutes ago.

The dude with the sideburns glances meaningfully at his mustached partner and they enter together.

Interior: This is a large office probably in a warehouse or other low rent industrial site.  Several men are in here.  On the desk in the center of the room is the man with the Mohawk.  He is covered in blood while some of the men attend to his wounds.  The rest of the men are in suits and armed.

Closeup of a nearby table with the bloody shuriken recently removed from Mohawk on it.

One of the men attending to mohawk.  He looks tired.

Doctor: That's it.  He's done.

The doctor closes Mohawk's eyes and covers his face with his jacket.

The doctors leave the room.

One of the men in suits, a fat man with his back turned to the desk, his face unseen up to this point is the center of attention as silence descends on the room after they leave.

Fat man: Samuel, Jean, so nice of you two to stop by.

Samuel and Jean are suddenly the center of attention and shift uncomfortably like two school kids in the principals office.
Samuel:- Listen man, these guys were the toughest gang on the Lower East Side.  Whoever did this has to be pretty high profile.  We'll find his ass, fill it full of holes, and get your stuff back no problem boss.

Jean:-My partner is as eloquent as always.  We will ensure that a message is sent no?  The boss is not to be crossed on his own turf in this manner.  This is what we do boss.  You have my word on this.

Fat man still facing away:- Silence you worms.  While we waited for you to arrive I had the boys ask him a few questions.

The boss pauses meaningfully and turns his head enough you can see his smile:-  The hard way.

A shot of the jacket covered body on the desk with the boss flanked by his bodyguards.

Boss: - All we could get out of him is that a lone man attacked them with a white dog.  He claimed it was a ninja.

The boss turns around and approaches the desk.  His face is hidden by shadow due to the strong light source hanging over the desk.  He motions at the stars nearby.

Boss: - I want the those bloody interlopers over at the wharf to know that crossing me was the wrong move.  All I want to read in the paper is that the cops are up to their ears in dead yakuza.

The boss is visibly agitated.

Boss: And Samuel, Jean.  Bring me back my suitcase.

Samuel and Jean nod and leave quickly.

Exterior: Samuel and Jean get into Jean's tricked out muscle car.

Samuel: Shit, Jean.  How we supposed to find some damn ninja?  Ain’t they supposed to be hard to find?

Jean starts the car.  - Even the fabled ninjas can bleed no?

Exterior: On a nearby rooftop the ninja watches.  Down below Jean's car races out of view.



part three

Skyline.  Full of skyscrapers against a sunset.  The industrial smog tints even this an ominous grey.  Storm clouds still hang heavy in the sky.

Interior - a lavish penthouse office, with a definite japanese style.  Large samurai statues.  The floor has a large asian dragon fighting a tiger worked in marble tile on it.

closeup of the large desk.  Seated at the desk is Yakuza boss of bosses Tony "Demon Wind" Kojiro.   He is an aging japanese man, still whip thin and he is not happy.

Demon Wind - I will not tolerate this!   How many dead?  How much money and drugs has the Boss cost us?  We have kept the peace for 10 years.   Stayed to the wharf and ignored his pissant operation!  Now he attacks us!   The Yakuza will NOT tolerate this disrespect!

Five japanese men all wearing expensive suits, a few with colorful tattoos showing from under their collars and cuffs rise and yell - They will pay for this!   My life and the life of my men are yours Demon Wind!

Cut exterior The docks at night.

An old cargo ship.  The area around it is full of large freight containers.  Even at this hour there is a great deal of activity.   A group of black cadillacs pull up and The Boss's men pile out armed to the teeth. They open fire.  Yakuza resistance appears and a massive gun battle rages.  There are explosions and people dying left and right.

Samuel and Jean arrive in Jean's car. Samuel and Jean join in the fight right away. Sam uses twin desert eagles. He is deadly accurate with both.  Jean has an Ak 47, and he uses it's full auto to devastating effect.

The Yakuza are in full retreat now.  They are running for their lives.   The Boss's men begin to grab their wounded and dead and split before the cops show up.  Jean and Samuel are about to do so as well when...

Samuel spots a white dog!

Samuel:- Jean! Yo!  It's that mutt the Boss was talking about.

Samuel is in full pursuit both guns drawn.  Jean takes enough time to reload.

Jean -  Everyone! Follow that dog!

A few of the still hanging around men follow Jean. Samuel is moving amongst the maze of crates, barrels and flotsam that cover the wharf.

He's calling "Here doggy, doggy, doggy.  Nice doggy"  If he does catch of glimpse of it, he shoots.

Jean and the 4 or 5 guys with him follow the sound of Samuel's gunfire.

The one in the rear stops out of breath.  He never notices the ninja dropping down from above, and in the seconds he's alive after his neck is broken, he is altogether unaware how badass it is that a ninja just ended him.

The next one to go hears a suspicious sound, and goes alone to investigate.  From the shadow, a vicious karate chop to the throat, and he quietly gurgles as he tries to breathe through a crushed trachea.  

The last two hang close to Jean.  The three of them are extremely tired of chasing Samuel, and Jean has been lugging an Assault Rifle.  Heavily sweating and gasping for air they round a corner in time for the white dog to leap out at them barking loudly.

It startles them so much they nearly trip over each other.   The dog hunches down and growls threateningly at them as it backs away.

Jean -  Don't shoot,  don't shoot it yet.

He motions and the other 2 begin circling around the dog.   Jean sets his gun down, and begins trying to coax the snarling animal to him.  Everytime he gets close the dog snaps at him.

Suddenly a bleeding, lacerated Samuel rounds a corner into the area.  As he limps into the clearing the dog makes his escape.

Samuel collapses into Jeans arms.  The two goons have their guns at the ready.

Samuel - He was... was a motherfucking ninja...  A motherfucking ninja on the these motherfucking docks.

Samuel dies.

Jean in a whisper - my friend.

Jean stands and reaches into his coat.  He pulls out a revolver.

Jean yelling - Come Out!  Face us!  Face us Ninja!

When he yells ninja, the two goons stare at each other.

There is a small pop and a cloud of smoke fills the area where Jean and the two goons stand. Seconds later when the smoke clears the Ninja stands there.

Que Badass fight music.

This isn't the fight in the alley.  These aren't gangsters.  They're the toughest heavies the Boss has with one of his best lieutenants, who is fighting mad over the death of his friend.  Jean is also a top notch kickboxer. Obviously the ninja kicks all their asses but there is some serious, over the top ass kicking going on.  The ninja has to do backflips and show that he earned that ninja suit basically. And he takes some hits, even bleeding as Jean predicted.

Finally with the two goons eviscerated and Jean beaten but still alive and lying at his feet.

The Ninja - You were a worthy opponent.

Jean - Why...the Yaks...why?

The ninja - The yakuza must pay for their crimes as well.

Jean - Not a yakuza ::coughs up blood:: You're not a Yakuza?

The ninja pauses and stares at Jean.  He removes his mask revealing that he is not Asian.

Jean laughs -  Go hump your dog.

The ninja face contorted in rage and he cuts off Jean's head in one strike.

Helicopter shot of the carnage at the docks.  Police are on scene and the Ninja and his dog are gone.


Scene 4

Bird's eye view.  High rise exit.  there is a canopy leading to a red carpet.  The Boss and his escort are getting into a Limo.  Security is heavy.  The president would be jealous.

Interior the Limo.  The boss's escort is giggling her empty head off at something the Boss said.
Also in the limo is a italian/spanish looking fellow.  He is seated across from the Boss.
Closeup of the other guy.

Other guy says - ...they were two of your best.  Whoever did this is no amateur.   10 million and I will recover what was lost to you.

The Boss has his hand on the escort's knee and is leaning forward now despite his bulk.

The Boss says - 20 million if you bring him to me alive.  Along with his filthy mutt.

Other guy smiles a suave smile, and winks at the escort.  She giggles and smiles at him.

Other guy - You will hear from me soon.

The Limo stops and Other guy exits.

Exterior Helicopter shot of a high rise penthouse restaurant.  It is night.  

Interior The maitre'd nervously greets the Boss and his date.  They are shown to a window seat.

Exterior a neighboring high rise.   The ninja watches the Boss and his date being seated.  They are laughing., the Ninja is not.

Interior of the kitchen.  10 masked men hold the kitchen hostage with automatic weapons. One of them announces that the Boss is here finally.

Interior the dining area.  The service doors burst open as the masked men charge in waving their guns.  The Boss's guards parked by the entrance are gunned down.  There is a lot of screaming as the customers hit the ground.  Several of the masked men move towards the Boss.  It looks like an execution is about to take place.

The Boss grabs his date and uses her like a human shield while he grabs his pistol.  He realizes he won't draw it fast enough and pushes his date at the gunmen as he dives behind his table.  The gunmen unleash a hail of bullets riddling the escort and while not shattering the window, putting a shitload of holes in it.

Exterior the bullet riddled window.   In the broken reflection we see THE NINJA swinging through the air towards the window!

Interior the ninja crashes through the window and flies through the air doing a somersault before landing on a nearby table.  He immediately fires a few stars at one of the gunmen, who goes down screaming.

One of the others begins firing again and starts to spray the bullets towards the ninja.  The ninja with superhuman strength and agility leaps in the air and lands behind the gunman drawing his katana in the process.

An overhead slash and a spray of blood drops the second gunmen.  A third gets too close and a quick reversal and upward swing leave him holding his intestines in his hands.  

Two of them now have a bead on him and open fire right at him.  The ninja drops one of his smoke bombs and the bullets whiz right through and tear through the restaurant.  People are screaming as tables, walls, and customers are mowed down.  

The shooting stops and crying can be heard.   The gunmen are frantically looking around for the ninja's body.  Suddenly one of them finds something.  It is a small homemade bomb.  It has a fuse.  It is lit.

Reaction shot then BOOM

3 more gunmen who had been in the area are down.  The remaining men are spread out now and one shouts to check on the Boss.

2 move cautiously towards the broken window and the overturned table.  The ninja swings down from above upside down (he's hanging by his legs)  And stabs both men in the face with daggers.

He flips down to his feet and charges a nearby gunmen.  The other two open fire, but the trail just behind him as the ninja passes by the gunmen he slashes.  The bullets of the other two then rip through his corpse before it can reach the ground.  The ninja does a backflip off a near by table and lands behind a support column.  The last 2 gunmen empty their clips into it.  As they are franticly reloading the Boss, looking disheveled, emerges from the wreckage of his table and fires his hand cannon killing them both.

The Boss turns his gun on the column, ready for a final showdown with the ninja, in time to hear the elevator chime.  2 squads of the Boss’s men pour out and quickly secure the area.  The ninja is gone.  On the column is a note which is brought to the Boss by one of his men.

It says = If you want your suitcase back; come to the downtown cathedral Tomorrow night 11pm.  Come alone.

The Boss crumples the note in his hand and curses the Yakuza.

One of his men examining the bodies of the slain gunmen, shouts that it's a Yakuza.

The Boss rushes over to see the elaborate tattoo covering the man's back.  His face clearly asian.

End scene.


Scene 5

A TV screen.  It's the local news live on location at the penthouse restaurant. Reporting on the event recently dubbed "Murder on the Menu"

Karen Annapolis reporting.  She interviews a few eye witnesses who describe an assault led by a masked man with a sword.  They punctuate their statements with "Oh my god. It was so terrible" or “I’ve never been so frightened!”  One or two mention the man who appeared at the last minute to shoot the last two.  She speculates in her closing statements that this was a hit on a high ranking Crime Lord gone wrong.

Cut to Interior of TV station.  The editing room.  Karen Annapolis is ejecting the tape of her finished story when her editor walks in.  He's a huge sleaze and a lot older than her. He immediately begins hitting on her.  She is obviously disgusted, but unfortunately used to it and brushes him off with a cutting remark.  (I'm a little too tired for writing dialogue right now)

He informs her that her tape won't be aired.  She demands to know why he's been constantly blocking her story on the Boss and the mafia.  He gets a little scary, and tells her that defenseless girls shouldn't be sticking their nose where it doesn't belong.  She leaves in a huff.  But, is forced to leave the tape with her editor.  

Outside the TV studio.  An Action 4 News van.  Karen's crew, well, less of a crew and more just the one guy who drives and holds the camera, Fred, the tall, skinny, awkward loser who pines for her, but is too hopeless to ever hook up with our beautiful investigative journalist, is loading equipment into the van.  Karen is dejected over losing her story.  Fred attempts to console her, but fumbles his words and it comes off more sad and pathetic than anything.


The scene with Karen and Fred needs a little more fleshing out but I'm skipping ahead to the next scene.

Karen Annapolis, Action 5 Investigative Journalist, is in deep trouble.
Desperate to break what she feels is the story of the decade and receiving an offer for a meeting from a source she's been working on for quite some time, Karen heads out to a warehouse on the docks after dark.  She throws caution to the wind and goes alone taking with her only a tape recorder and a cell phone for emergencies.

Exterior: the warehouse district of the docks at night.  It's unnaturally quiet.   Karen's car pulls up and she gets out.  She then heads inside.

Interior: We see Karen's silhouette in the doorway of the warehouse office.  She calls out into the darkness nervously, "Hello?  Is anyone here?"
Suddenly a hand clamps over her mouth from behind and pulls her into the shadows.  Karen's desperate scream is muffled by her unknown assailants hand.  Panic and terror are clear in the closeup of her eyes.  

"Shh!" It was a hoarse whisper from a scruffy looking jerk in tattered clothes.  "It's me Karen,"  The man looks nervously off into the shadows  as if he's being followed.  "I'm going to take my hand off your mouth, but be quiet, okay?"  He slowly removes his hand and waits for Karen to calm down before he relaxes his grip on her.  "Look I'm sorry about grabbing you like that,"  the man apologizes.  "But, I don't want any unwanted attention."  He is visibly sweating.  

 Karen has one hand over her heart as she listens, "Don't ever scare me like that again, Jake!"  She hisses in a semi whisper.  

He visibly flinches and apologizes again, "I'm really sorry, but you keep saying that we have to stop these guys.  I'm just really scared one of them is going to finger me as a snitch then it's not just me that's going to die, it's my family and everyone I've ever known."

Karen reaches into her pocket and produces the tape recorder.   She holds it out towards Jake and pushes the record button. Then she says, " Okay so tell me what you heard that's worth risking both our lives for today."

End scene.


A locker room.
A lone cop is standing by an open locker.  He's mid thirties and looks sad and tired.  This is veteran homicide lieutenant Dave Peterson.  Inside his locker is a polaroid picture of his wife and son.  He's looking at it and a brief smile crosses his face as another cop walks up.

The second cop is a big guy.  Old age has made him pudgy, but he used to be fit.  This is Sergeant Tony DiTorrelli, Dave’s long time partner.
Big Tony -"Man, she was some looker huh?  And that boy of yours, how old would he be now?  15? 16?"

Dave’s face collapses and he puts the picture away and closes his locker. "What is it Big Tony?  Any leads on what's got the Boss's people so pissed at the Yakuza?

Big Tony spreads his arms as Dave gets his stuff and they head off, "You aint gonna believe this one partner."

Interior a small hotel room.  Police tape and forensics move throughout the room.  Dave and Tony arrive on the scene.  A body is covered on the bed.

Dave to another officer in uniform "Alright what are we looking at here?"

Street Cop "Deceased's name's Jake Vandergriff according to the Driver's License."

Big Tony has pulled back the sheets to look at the body. "Ow man, someone didn't like this guy."

Street Cop "We got an anonymous tip.  Time of death is less than 4 hours.  He took longer then that to die I'd guess."

Dave  "Tortured?"

Big Tony lifts the sheet a little higher.  "Oh they didn't have to cut that off. That's just sick."

Dave  "Anything else?"

Street Cop hold up a plastic evidence bag.  Inside is a ninja star.  "We found this covered in the deceased's blood also."

End scene.

It just wouldn't be a vigilante story without the cops after his ass too!


Clouds.  Heavy, dark, and oppressive.  The storms have returned to Baytown.  Wind whips through the streets leading to…

 City hall

A crowd gathers at the steps. Video crews and the general press is pressed in for a big announcement from the mayor. A podium has been set up and bristles with microphones.
Several men hold open umbrellas and the sky threatens to drown them all.

The mayor and his staff exit the doors of City Hall and the wind gusts mightily nearly blowing the mayor's toupée off.  Ties and jacket tails are at the mercy of the unholy breeze.   The mayor makes his way to the podium and prepares to speak.  There is heavy feedback at first then he settles into his speech.

"I know many of you here today, and our fine citizens at home, have been hearing about the crime problem here in our great city.  Let me assure you that today we believe we have found public enemy number one!"  His voice rises over the heavy wind.  He gestures for the chief of police to join him and continues.  "With the help of our top notch police force we today are issuing an ultimatum to the scum who would drive our city, our home, into ruin.  We are launching the largest manhunt in the history of Baytown for the one known only as the Ninja.  All citizens are advised to avoid contact with this man and if you have any information about the group lead by this masked villain known as the ninja, or the ninja himself please call our special hotline.  …”

Lighting and Thunder dance across the sky.

Interior the police station.

Dave Peterson and Big Tony are sitting at their desks while the mayor drones on a nearby TV.  .

Big Tony, "Fucking Blow hard.  If someone hadn't leaked the whole ninja angle to the papers he wouldn't be up there milking this for all it's worth right now."  He rubs his temples.  "We'll be up to our necks in overtime just on the bogus tips off this damned hotline of his."

Dave, "Look Tony I know you and the mayor have had your differences but that doesn't change the fact that we're still police officers.  You saw what happened to our victim. Who ever this ninja character is Tony, we've got a duty to catch him and bring him to justice."

Big Tony, "Yeah..." Tony looks away from Dave at the mayor who is mugging for the cameras with the police chief. "Justice."

The heavens weep.

End scene.

Comic Seventeen

This comic was generated by pairing a random line of text from a table with a random image from a directory. Clicking on the link above will take you to the website for this 'avant-garde' project. Some comics the website generates might be unfunny, but there are roughly 9000 different comic combinations (and growing) and that is part of the fun!

June 11: forgot to post

I week from today I will be trekking in the Himalayas.  I still have some gear to sew together and a little food prep to do but all in all I am approximately ready.  Unfortunately a lot of my prep time I thought I would have this week has been eaten up.  Sunday I was out getting some not really required supplies.  I scored a massive luxury item, a self inflating pad, if only I can fit it in my pack.  Monday I spent 4 hours driving so I could spend 20 minutes at a wedding and last night was spent working late and reading the Hobbit to the nurglings.  All good things but the prep list isn't getting shorter but time is.

I'm not afraid of not being able to finish in time.  Most of the things on the list now are luxery things that I can substitute for if need be.  I'm expecting the weather to be pretty chilly but I didn't have time to finish all of my cold weather projects.  I should still be fine.

I got myself a new notebook so I can keep writing while I'm away.  It has been hard the past few days as I have been booked and my mornings have been spent running up and down the 10 stories of my building as opposed to sitting at the keyboard typing.  Clickety clack clickety clack.  I feel the mental pressure of some ideas forming but they have yet to crystallize so I just feel somewhat cloudy.  I've been thinking a lot the last few days about turning around.

On Sunday we were driving home and I missed my exit.  I worked my way back on a side road but soon the nice paved side road took an immediate left and we were on a very dark and bumpy side road.  I had a vague remembrance to going down this road before and so I continued to travel down into the bumpy darkness.  I was over half way down this road when I thought that I should just turn around and head back the way I came.  I know where I missed my turn.  I don't know where this is going.  Getting lost in semi-rural India in the black of night was not my idea of an enjoyable Sunday.  While battling with whether I should go on or turn around I thought that this would make a great blog but I don't really have anything to say about it, it is simply one of the things that is rolling around like marbles in my mind but I don't know how it will all coalesce.  I did continue on and found my way home but I don't want to really sermonize that because I could have very well gotten lost.  Going ahead is not always the right answer but I still don't know how one knows when it is or not.

Pressing forward during Picket's Charge or Balaklava was a very bad idea.  Pressing forward at Gallipoli on the other hand might have saved thousands of lives.

Something I'm looking forward to on this trip is to take an input sabbatical.  I'm not going to bring my kindle or headphones.  Only my bright pink notepad.  Only being in the current moment and capturing output.  Nothing goes in.  Should be nice.  I've slipped back into filling my head instead of using my hands in my free time.  At least my muscles hurt from all the stairs I've been climbing the last couple days.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Something Something Heros part 2

Previous: part 1

The room is 10 foot by 10 foot square.  There is a pie on a pedestal in the center.  "I take the pie!" they all three shouted in unison.  The Orc that had been guarding it moved to stop them.

"Wait, no one said anything about an Orc being in this room," declared Rylie, a squat, mud-covered man, clothed in what had once been expensive leather armor.

"Try telling that to him," whined Nealoo the priest of Alilili while dodging the hacks and slashes of Schrodinger's Orc.  Her once pristine white robes swirling as she danced here and there. "I never thought I'd miss Agthor the Meat shield."

"Ah the GM's a dick," Rylie mumbled with a frown.

Thobis crossed his arms and sneered at the Orc standing between them and the pie, "Why is there an Orc guarding a pie in this tiny room anyway?  This adventure is getting worse all the time."

With a wave of his hand and some muttering of the half remembered lyrics to a Led Zeppelin song, Thobis cast a spell.  No one was sure what spell had been cast at first.  The fact that he had actually cast something was certain even though there was no obvious effect.  Even the Orc stopped and looked around for some sign as to what it was.

Thobis giggled, and with a smirk asked, "Hey Orc, what's your name?"  The Orc pointed at himself in disbelief that he was being addressed.  "Yeah, you," said Thobis.  "You look like an, uh, intelligent fellow."  Thobis leaned over to his two companions and gave them an over obvious wink, while the Orc tried to come to terms with suddenly not wanting to kill this annoying jerk.

"Me, Transk.  I mean, I'm Transk," said the Orc slowly working over the half remembered words from Human language 101.  Somehow this weird wizard seemed like his best friend in the world.  Yet, there was something still bothering him.  He remembered the not-spell that was maybe cast and asked, "Why did you try and take my pie then, if we're friends?"  The Orc scratched his head while coming to terms with actually having thoughts.  Wasn't he just supposed to just guard the pie?

Thobis pressed on, "Look here Transk, old buddy. I've got a fierce case of the munchies. If I don't get a piece of that pie soon I might just lose my mind."  Sensing the lingering reluctance of the once fierce Orc, he added, "I'd bet you'd like a slice too huh?  Finally see if it was worth guarding all this time, eh?  That smell has got to be driving you crazy!"  Thobis chuckled and rubbed his hands together in sheer delight.  He was pleased as punch and now he would have some pie too!

Rylie and Nealoo the priest of Alilili glanced at each other and rolled their eyes around until they were looking at each other again.  Rylie began edging slowly around behind Transk, who was sniffing the air and realizing how good the pie really did smell.  Transk realized his mouth was watering at the smell of the pie.  "Ok, you and me will split the pie, but those other dorks can't have any," Transk turned around towards the pie.  This was it, he was finally going to eat the pie that he had been guarding in the this small room for so long!  He could practically taste it already.

Instead he found himself facing the weird muddy twerp, who was holding a knife.  Transk roared, "I said you two couldn't have any pie!  It's just for me and my best friend."  Thobis grinned at that, and he and Transk high-fived.  That was when Rylie drove the knife into Transk's back.

As Transk lay bleeding on the ground, the spell dissipated. Transk's final view was the human, who had only moments before been his best friend, stepping casually over his corpse on his way to eat some his pie.

Nealoo the priest of Alilili turned down the offered pie.  "Too fattening," she declared.  "Alilili can have mine," with that she threw her piece on the ground.  "Praise Alilili to the Ground!" she shouted.

"Now what," asked Rylie.  "Did we just come here for the pie? I bet I could have found some that required less murder."  He harrumphed.  He felt like he was going to be doing a lot of that.

Comic Sixteen

This comic was generated by pairing a random line of text from a table with a random image from a directory. Clicking on the link above will take you to the website for this 'avant-garde' project. Some comics the website generates might be unfunny, but there are roughly 9000 different comic combinations (and growing) and that is part of the fun!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure II: Part 1

The pangs of consciousness slowly pry your eyelids open as you remember where you are. You start feel very thirsty, and that feel is soon accompanied by a dull, but pulsating headache; the dull turning ever-so sharper with sudden movements. Your muscles feel rigid and stiff, and a foreign, eerie feeling that was almost overwhelming slowly creeps to the back of your head. Slowly, you pull your face up from the sand, and manage to sit up.

The morning came too soon, but also not fast enough. The light isn't helping your headache, either, and you have a feeling this will be another hot day. The only saving grace, you feel, will be the breeze coming off of the ocean. The sea. Ah, 'the irony,' you start to think as you begin to hurl. After some time, you regain your composure once more and stand up.

Your camp fire from last night has long gone out, and the empty bottles of rum are starting to attract flies. They catch your eye; their iridescent bodies are particularly interesting to look at against the glass.  Glancing over to your right, you see the Captain passed out in the sand.

The Captain sleeps here, looking bedraggled.

You begin to feel hungry
You are thirsty

Exits: East, West, North, South