Blog Summary

A blog for poetry, prose, and pop culture.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Word Balloon: Wolverine: Weapon X

Hey all!

For this months edition of the Word Balloon I purposely waited until near the end of the month to coincide with the release of the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine film. In keeping with the theme I am aiming for this year, I want to recommend work featuring the comics that are getting that big screen treatment that month.

With the Wolverine solo film just a few days away, I thought we should take a look a a really great Wolverine story. Now Wolverine is probably the most popular comic book character in comics today, appearing in Astonishing X-Men, New Avengers, X Force, the solo Wolverine, Wolverine: Origins, and the new Wolverine: Weapon X series. This doesn't even count the special appearances and cameos he makes throughout the month. With all these appearances, its hard to pick just one classic Wolverine story as he has had so many great ones, as well as a few stinkers over the years.

Seminal works by writer Chris Clairemont such as The Mutant Massacre, Days of Future Past, God Loves, Man Kills (which both the Wolverine film and X-Men 2 owe a lot too) as well as Wolverine's first solo series really helped to shape the character we know today. Clairemont nearly had exclusivity in creating Wolverine's back story for nearly 17 years and really helped established him as the predominate super hero of the 80's and 90's. The book we are going to look at today though is the first book to really shed some light on the history of Wolverine and who he was, tying up ends from Wolverine's first appearance way back in the Incredible Hulk 181 to the clues that Clairemont had peppered throughout his X-Men run. This story connected everything into such a story that it would have an impact on both the character today and lend a heavy basis into the cornerstone the X-Men and Wolverine film franchises, and that book is Barry Windsor-Smith's epic story Weapon X.

Barry Windsor-Smith had been illustrating and writing comics since the late 60's and in 1991, he told the tale that would show just how Wolverine got his unbreakable skeleton and why he lost the memories of his childhood leading up to his indoctrination. Originally presented as a serial in Marvel's anthology book, Marvel Comics Presents, running from issues #72 to 84, Smith crafted what at the time was the definitive tale of the origin of Wolverine.

Weapon X tells the story of an ex-CIA operative called Logan who is taken in and brainwashed by a secret Canadian government program called Weapon X, in which Canada was attempting to create its own super soldier program like Captain America. Logan, born a mutant with an incredible healing factor and animal like senses, was chosen as his body could best take the rigors of the bonding process they wanted. In a painful procedure that he survived only due to his healing factor, scientists injected unbreakable adamantium metal into his body so that it coated his skeleton, making Logan nearly impossible to kill. Adding blades that popped out like claws from his knuckles and were stored in his forearms, he was codenamed Weapon X. In order to create a more efficient killing machine his memories were also tampered with as well, by attempting to wipe out sentimentality and his attachment to the past in order amp up Logan's more feral side. They wanted to create the perfect killing machine.

When Logan awakens during the process however, he goes into a berserker rage, killing nearly everyone and escaping the facility, to wander the Canadian wilderness with no memory of who is is or was, and thus Wolverine is born. He carries with him the burden of balancing his wild and feral nature with the goodness that is inside him, his past a blur of false and fake memories.

The thing to remember is that while much of this story had been alluded to over the years, this was the first time the tale was told. Smith creates a compelling narrative and has a very visceral and real style that adds to the tonality of the book. This was one of the first time I remember buying a book simply for the cover art, it was powerful and bold. The story is such that even nearly 20 years later, writers and creators return to it as the root of Wolverine. Everything stems from this series in terms of how to write an origin tale and yet not give everything away.

Various writers over the years have added and subtracted from Windsor's tale using the plot device of implanted and fake memories, as well as expand on the Weapon X mythos, adding in Wolverine's arch nemesis Sabretooth to the program, as well as many other Marvel characters, like The Silver Fox, Maverick, Wraith, and Deadpool. Despite what these guys have added or changed, this still remains a core element of Wolverine's back story. Combined with the 2001 mini-series, Wolverine: Origins (a story that highlighted the origin of a young Wolverine and where he was from in the days before he joined the CIA and Weapon X) these two tales should make up the bulk of the plot for the new movie.

If you find that either love of hate the new film, the book will make it right for you. If the film is bad, this story still holds up today and lends itself to be a great story with spectacular art. If the film is great then you can look at this like back matter, a deeper dive if you will into the world of Wolverine and the tales the film is based on. Up above you will find the cover to the first issue of the mini-series, as well as the most recent collection of the Wolverine: Weapon X graphic novel. Enjoy the book and hopefully the film too!

End of Line.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Hey guys,

Just wanted to drop a quick blurb on last weeks new vinyl toy release, Tara McPherson's Gamma Mutant Space Friends from Kid Robot. As I have commented on in the past I have been really enjoying the urban art toy culture that has sprung up over the last several years. I suppose that it appeals to me on many levels. I love art and many of the pieces are designed by some really fabulous artists from around the world. It also works by appealing to my collector nature. Naturally I am a bit of a completist, when I get into something, I want to know all about it or collect all there is to it. It works mostly in comics for me, when I dive into a new series I work to get all the issues and stories that I am missing. As they come in a set usually 12 to 20 pieces large, generally I want to collect them all.

Possibly my favorite artist is Tara McPherson, a girl who started off making concert posters but who has exploded in the last 5 years both in the urban art scene and toy culture, as well as becoming a globally recognized painter. She launched her first toy line specifically made for her, where she had designed all the pieces and all the colors and they are great. She uses repeating symbols in her work and this is like some of her art has taken on 3 dimensions, bringing some of her more recognized characters to life.

I headed out this past Thursday to pick up some pieces and made a great dent in the collection. I got nearly the entire series plus the two color variants. I am only missing three that I am going to try to pick up individually online. A big thanks to Jason's girlfriend Autumn for hooking me up with perhaps the rarest one out of her pulls.

I posted some pics up of the pieces and I can't wait to catch Tara at this years Comic Con, she has a new art book out that I need to grab as well. I'll post again next month as a brand new Dunny series drops early in the month.

Thanks for reading!

End of Line.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Flash Fiction: Noir Story

Chapter 2

I splashed some cold water on my face and under my armpits, trying to wash some of the stink of scotch and sweat off me. Running my hand over my chin I decided against a shave, thinking my stubble wasn't as shabby as it could be. Leaving the bathroom and the toothbrush behind I opened the small closet next to my desk, where I hung my suits.

I only had one clean suit left on the rack, so I ripped free the plastic wrap and laid it out on my desk. It was a dark gray suit and pants with a white button down shirt and black tie. The suit was a bit worn at the elbows but serviceable and the shirt was still more white than yellow so all together it wasn't bad.

My office had become my home over the last 6 months. Times had gotten tight so it was either give up drinking and smoking and keep my shitty apartment or move in here. Overall it wasn't bad. At one point this building had been an apartment but back in the 70's they had converted it to a series of low rent office spaces. The neighborhood wasn't great but it still had an actual shower in the bathroom left over. In my office the couch could pull out into a bed plus it was separated by a door that led to an actual reception area. I didn't use it much now as I had let go of my receptionist a few years ago. Mostly I just met clients out there now, mainly so they didn't realize that I fucking lived here now.

I grabbed my gun out of the top drawer of my desk, a 9mm automatic. I'd had it a long time, since my days on the force, and had used it more times than I cared to remember. I fixed it into a shoulder holster before shrugging into my coat. I grabbed my hat and coat, a long black job that made me look like I was straight out of an old movie. I tucked my smokes into my pocket and opened the door that lead out into the reception area that separated my office from the hallway.. Outside was a woman, a beautiful woman and my world was about to go to hell.

End of Line.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Movie Time: Rewind: It Happened One Night

Hey all,

For the April installment of the Rewind I wanted to look at an actor that I haven't spotlighted yet, namely Clark Gable. Clark Gable was the biggest, if not one of the biggest, stars of the 1930's and would continue to be until his death in 1960. Gable represented the Hollywood image of the virile and strong leading man, the guy who always did the right thing and as such he never really made a picture that cast him as a villain. H is arguably the top star of the 1930's, outdrawing rivals James Cagney and his biggest rival, Gary Cooper.

For my money Gable made several truly great films over his illustrious career, most popularly Gone With the Wind in 1939, which I briefly touched on in my column saluting that golden year of Hollywood. I would have to say his best work outside of that was this film, the first to sweep the top five Academy Awards slots, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and best Screenplay; and that's Frank Capra's 1934 screwball comedy, It Happened One Night.

Frank Capra was under contract to Columbia Pictures at the time, one of the Poverty Row Studios. They were on the low end of the scale and couldn't compete with the likes of MGM and Warner Bros. Sometimes these two studios would loan out there contracted stars for pictures as a lesson in humility if the star refused to do something the studio wanted. Gable had suffered a terrible gum infection and it resulted in the removal of nearly all of his teeth. As the infection was so bad it would take a month for the swelling to go down he went on vacation with his wife, causing the picture he was working on for MGM to be shut down. When he came back after being fitted for dentures, he fell ill again from the infection and had to have his gall bladder removed. All of this time away was costing the studio money and as such studio boss Louis B. Mayer docked Gable 2 weeks pay, causing bad blood between them. The row got so bad that Mayer decided to teach Gable a lesson and loan him to Columbia.

Capra is one of the most decorated directors of the 30's and 40's, having worked on films like It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with Jimmy Stewart; Meet John Doe and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town with Gary Cooper; and Arsenic and Old Lace with Cary Grant. Capra invented the screwball comedy with It Happened One Night and would use this and his appeal of a pure sense of "Capra Corn", in which his pictures would often show the despair and tragedy of life and then wrapped up in a happy ending all around.

The lead of It Happened One Night is Claudette Colbert, one of the stars of the silent era who successfully made it into the talkies. She had a rocky start early in pictures, but after teaming with Frederick March in several film in the early 30's, her name became synonymous with quality pictures. It was the year 1934 where she skyrocketed into the limelight with Cecil B. DeMille'e blockbuster epic Cleopatra, where she was both beautiful and charming. It was her other role that year though that would forever immortalize her in Hollywood though, Capra's It Happened One Night.

Widely considered cinema's first screwball comedy starts with Colbert as a wealthy and rebellious socialite name Ellie Andrews who has secretly married high society aviator King Westley. His father, disapproving of this union, whisks her away on his yacht. After a heated argument, Ellie dives overboard and comes ashore in Miami. Wanting to meet her husband in New York, she buys a bus ticket and in the process meets an out of work reporter names Peter Warne, played by Gable. When Peter discovers Ellie's true identity from a newspaper article about her escape he agrees to help her get to her destination for exclusive rights to her story, something he enforces by promising to tell her father where she is if she doesn't cooperate.

They travel cross country posing as husband and wife and stay in hotel rooms together as part of their cover, erecting a blanket that Peter calls "The Walls of Jericho" between them as Ellie is a married woman. As they travel by bus another passenger recognizes Ellie and attempts to coerce Peter into splitting the reward that is being offered for her. Peter scares him off by pretending to be a criminal and the two of them hitchhike from there, afraid that the passenger may notify the police. One of the more famous scenes is here where Claudette Colbert flashes her leg to passing motorists to get them to stop and pick her up, a very risque thing to do in the 30's.

After being robbed by one of the drivers and Peter retrieving their belongings, Ellie throws herself at peter and wants to be together, though he rebuffs her. That night he leaves for New York and Ellie, thinking he has left her, heads back to her father who has softened to the idea of her marriage if she would just come home. Peter sells is story of love and adventure to his old publisher though so not to propose to Ellie broke. Returning just in time he sees Ellie leave with her father and a police escort, and angry he calls the father wanting his reward money.

He goes to Ellie's house as the real ceremony between Ellie and the aviator is to take place and during the ceremony convinces Ellie's father that he loves her and should marry her. As this movie is pure Capra, Ellie runs out on the marriage and her father gets it annulled so she can be with Peter. The film ends in a hotel room with "The Walls of Jericho" tumbling down between them.

I've talked a lot about the main players of the film but not the picture itself. 1934 was very much the real beginning of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The Silent Era was over the new generation of actors where taking their place in films, having worked out the kinks of sound and picture quality that affected many of the early talkies. The actors and directors had embraced this new version of the medium and the audiences where looking for real performances. The new generation of actors had taken root into the public perception and it really started in 1934.

It Happened One Night was the seminal picture of that year, the movie in which Clark Gable won his only Oscar and the film that rose Columbia Pictures from a Poverty Row studio to the likes of the big time. It was the first film to win the Grand Slam at the Academy Awards and it broke a lot of new barriers for its time. It pushed the envelope of sexuality with Colbert and her famous leg flashing scene and the interactions between her and Gable in the hotel rooms between the towel. It also featured very smart dialog that moved at a more frenetic pace than other films, one of the early pictures that tried to have the actors firing lines back and forth. That's part of the reason this is considered the first screwball comedy.

This film defined what a screwball comedy is, a little bit of slapstick, fast paced repartee, usually between two characters that are mis-matched and seemingly wrong for each other only to turn out to love each other in the end in a plot that usually involves courtship or marriage. The dialog of It Happened One night is funny, smart, and charming and had a lasting effect on the ways films were made. The characters and acting in this film would inspire many people down the road to many great performances, launching a new genre of film. It is because of this film that we get so many of the great comedies of the 30's and 40's, like His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Holiday and so many more. The characters were so impactful that even Friz Freleng, one of the creative forces behind the Looney Tunes characters, modeled elements of the actors into many of his creations, including Clark Gable's way of eating carrots and fast talking simultaneously. They even mention the name Bugs Dooley in the film, for which the name was taken. Two other actors in the film, Walter Connely and Jameson Thomas, were even the inspirations for Yosemite Sam and Pepe LePew respectively.

What you get with this film is two actors at the top of their game and a director that truly established himself as one of the predominate men of his generation. You get a really smart and fun script and a beautiful romantic comedy that will make you laugh with a picture perfect ending. I wholeheartedly recommend Columbia Pictures It Happened One Night, with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, directed by the estimable Frank Capra. Check it out, its great.

End of Line.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flash Fiction: Noir Story

Chapter 1

My mouth tasted like the inside of a cat's ass. Sort of like a piece of shit drug across sandpaper. I liked my lips and worked my jaw in a slow circle as I wiped the morning crust from my eyes. I had fallen asleep in my chair again and I was just waiting for the stiffness in my back to break through the hangover. Blearily I rubbed my eyes and sat forward, hearing the creaking of both the rickety wooden chair and the popping of my shoulders when I reached out to stretch.

I was just starting to feel the stiffness creep through as I popped open my desk drawer and pulled out a prescription bottle. I popped a couple of Vicoden out and reached for my glass. It was sitting beside the bottle of vodka I had been working through last night and still had a lonely cigarette butt floating in the dregs at the bottom. I whipped the contents out the open window behind me and poured a finger into the glass. I gulped down the pills and swallowed the vodka with a wince. A little hair of teh dog to start the morning right never hurts.

I slowly stood up out of the chair and rubbed the small of my back as I walked towards the tiny bathroom that was off my office slash apartment. I was clad in my third best pair of boxers and a wife beater that had turned more yellow than white. I pulled the cord to the single bulb that lit the bathroom and pulled up the toilet seat, ready to unleash a healthy stream of piss that had been bottled in my kidneys for too long. As I opened the lid I saw my toothbrush stuck bristle end down in a lonely floating turd. I reached down and pulled it out and sniffed the bristle, wondering how much hot water would have to be used before it was clean again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a note scrawled in red lipstick on the mirror saying in bold capital letters, " FUCK YOU WARREN!" It was then I realized that I had forgot my date last night.

Sighing I pissed and washed my hands, using my pointer finger as a toothbrush to rinse the cat ass from my mouth and went to get dressed. Anne was pissed and when she got pissed, it never meant anything good for me. You wanna know what the worst part of this whole thing is? It wasn't even my turd.

End of Line.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Assorted Nuts!

Hey all,

Sorry for the gap in posting this month, I am working a very involved schedule doubling as both a store manager and an area supervisor and my plate is just swamped. I have serious amounts of work to do at the store, including getting my numbers in line and reporting numbers for my group of stores. In addition my store is being remodeled and I have been having issues with contractors finishing my equipment so I have been at the store a lot!

A small update as far as the blog, I am really going to try to get about 15 posts in this month and I know I said i was only focusing on Darkest Dawn for Flash Fiction but those posts are so long and detailed that I wanted something easier and quicker to get up in the meantime. I am going to start a small noir slash crime detective tale tomorrow that I will leave a little open ended so we can see where it goes. Hopefully it will be fun and combine the flavor of Darkest Dawn with the more criminal elements of my last post, Three More Bullets, but set as a modern detective tale. These are going to be smaller in scale and hopefully only 3 to 4 paragraphs to keep it succinct and a faster read, along the lines of the early Flash Fiction I posted up. Hope you dig the series.

Enjoy and I'll try to keep the pace!

End of Line.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Gun

Hey all,

Sorry for the gap in posting. This is such a filled week I am not sure how much I will actually get done. Next week isn't looking much better either. He is a poem I started when I was feeling a lot of anger, then finished two days later when I wasn't as much. Originally I wanted to get into the thought of taking what you want in life, but I think i tempered the edge a bit on the second go through. I don't like this poem as much today as I did a few days ago, but I'm posting it anyway. Maybe one of you will like it, or maybe it will grow on me later. I don't know. I'll try to be back on Sunday with another post.

The Gun

I hold a gun in my hand,

The hammers pulled back,

My fingers on the trigger,

And it doesn't feel slack.

Staring down the barrel,

I've got the world in my sight.

Haven't found a target,

Cause the feelings not quite right.

Don't know where I'm aiming,

Though I will when I see it.

So many different options,

There's no way I'll ever leave it.

What will make me happy,

What will leave me sad?

When the former finds my cross hairs,

The latter's a passing fad.

If I finally find my purpose,

The hammer will fall down,

Barrel towards my target,

Chamber another round.

The world can be my victim,

For then I'll take it all.

Staring down the barrel,

Then to take the fall.

If the world won't give me,

All the things I need,

I'll take them all by force,

With this gun will they heed.

The gun in my hand,

Can shatter all the silence,

All I've ever wanted,

In a single moment of violence.

End of Line.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Hey all,

There has been a lot of drama going on in my family of late that really puts some of my life into proportion. A short time back I posted that my step mom Sherry had a stroke and I am glad to say she is doing better. She is really working hard at all of her therapy tasks, both physical and mental. I know that it had to be a huge strain on her, and my Dad, both financially and physically. I know that she has to be frustrated and angry, and tired. Especially doing things that I take for granted, smelling, tasting, walking, even typing and talking.

Now don't get me wrong, she has taken such huge steps on the road to her recovery already and I am really proud of her. One of the steps to her therapy is to type a story everyday, whether its real or fictional or whatever. By doing a blog she can improve many facets that she now has a tough time with. typing, reading, word recognition, and spelling are all helped, not to mention the practice in sentence structure and phonetics. She has been keeping a blog on her MySpace page, usually stories about her family or what her recovery's been like. Even current events. This past week she posted a story on my brother's impending visit to them in Ohio.

My brother hasn't been back in over 10 years, and has only seen my Dad one time since they moved for his wedding. He just had a baby and they were set to come out and visit before the stroke hit. So Gregg is taking his family back to Ohio. My Dad and Sherry are both very excited to get a look at my brother's first child. My Step mom posted a blog entry on this, talking about how happy Dad was to be seeing his first grandson.

Now this put Sherry's oldest son's wife into a tizzy because she thinks that the kid they had about 2 years ago is my Dad's first. Now on some levels they are completely right, though this is my Dad's first biological grandson. There is a special bond between Dad and my brother and I, and this being either o our first child, he has a special relationship with us. Family is always family, but the connection between my brother and my Dad and Sherry's kids are different. I don't think it was with any malicious intent that this message came out.

I don't want to be mean, but if heaven forbid something happened and there was a breakup somewhere, either by Sherry's oldest son Scott and Chrissy, or with my Dad and Sherry the dynamic changes for everyone. Of course there are different feelings involved but to play the shade of favoritism card is unfair, that is like asking Scott to care as much about me as he does about his other brothers Jeff or Randy whom he has known for his whole life. Truthfully he barely knows Gregg or myself. It doesn't mean anything negative, its just a different context.

Sherry and my Dad have done a lot to help out his family, financially and legally. Between the two of them they have six kids and I know that's rough. They accused Sherry of favoring the other kids over theirs as one of them had a birthday that they missed. Well Sherry was hospitalized with a stroke at the time! That seemed really fucking petty if you ask me. I know that the emotional strain that this has put on Sherry is hard, made worse by the trials she is having on the road to recovery.

I hope that she knows that she does have support of her family and that I don't think she shows favoritism. Sherry has been nothing but supportive to me and I hope she knows that she means a lot. If one person wants to be negative then let them and don't let it get you down.

I'm going to tell a story I've never told before.

I've met Chrissy one time in my life, on a visit back east Sherry, her youngest son Randy, and I drove to see them in Connecticut where Scott was stationed. My Dad couldn't go because of work so I drove the three of us with the intention of dropping them off for a visit and me heading into New York for the day as it was less than a 2 hour drive. Sherry stayed with her kids so all 3 of them could go with me down there and get a break from the kids.

Unfortunately the weekend we went it was also the same time that the Northeast was having flooding problems and it was raining fiercely. We parked outside of New York and took the subway in, part of the experience I wanted to have coming into Grand Central Station. Coming out of the subway the rain had really picked up. I managed to hail a cab and get a ride to the dock for the Statue of Liberty shuttle. It was closed due to the weather. After standing in the torrential downpour for about 45 minutes I managed to hail another cab for the 4 of us (they stayed under cover). I figured most of the attractions would be closed. I didn't want to pay to see The Empire State Building if we couldn't go out on the outlook and in this weather what fun would Central Park or the Central Park Zoo be. The same for Ground Zero and Times Square. I suggested going to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I love art and visiting the Met was in my top 5 list of things to do in New York. At this point I had paid for the parking, subway tickets, and both cab rides. Since the Met was my idea I paid for all of the passes to get in. I could have spent hours in there absorbing the culture and art, especially on the second floor admiring the famous paintings. To be honest Chrissy and Scott made the trip pretty miserable. They hated everything and tried to hurry me out of the Met. What were we going to do in this weather. I finally told them to do whatever they wanted and I'd meet them at the subway station to go home. They waited but I still felt rushed and guilty. They blew through the modern art section so fast. I don't think people have to like what I like, but I do think that if you would have rather done something else you had said so. Or at least be appreciative of what I had done. That trip to New York was so important to me, and it was miserable. The company could sure have helped.

Sherry, don't let it bother you. Some people won't be happy no matter what you do. Trust in those who love you unconditionally and everything will be fine. Keep to your blogs and keep practicing, I believe in you.

End of Line.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Movie Review: Monsters vs Aliens 3D

Hey all,

Last night I went to watch the new Dreamworks animated picture, Monsters vs Aliens. Overall I thought it was solid film, enjoyable for both children and adults. Ever since watching Coraline in 3D I have been waiting for a new 3D film to be released and that really was the main reason I wanted to go.

The premise is pretty much set up in the title. A young woman in her wedding day is hit by a meteor. The radiation from the meteor grants her enhanced strength and size, growing well over 30 feet tall. Brought in by the US government for her own safety, she is introduced to the other monsters that they have been hiding from the world, The Missing Link, Bob; a gelatinous blob, Dr. Cockroach; a former scientist who fused himself wit cockroach DNA, and Insectasaurus; a giant insect that dwarfs even Susan.

When an evil alien, Galaxhar, discovers the power source of the meteor that ht Susan has been absorbed by her, he decides to send a giant robot probe to retrieve it. The robot proves invulnerable to US weaponry so the President authorizes the use of out team of monsters. Susan manages to destroy the robot and save much of San Fransisco in the process with the help of her team, though they destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. Galaxhar gets angry at this and leads an invasion force to Earth to retrieve the power that Susan has absorbed and rule the planet with an army of his own clones. Galaxhar arrives at Earth and captures Susan, stripping her of her powers, returning her to normal. The rest of her team comes to save her but get trapped after freeing her. In the end Susan must decide whats more important, being normal or saving her friends.

There were a lot of positive things in the film. While I didn't think the 3D was as good as Coraline, it was still pretty cool, especially the space sequences, providing real depth and detail into the environments. The animation was solid and very much in the Dreamworks style, a sort of modern take on traditional animation. There was even a few scenes that made me jump out of my seat with the 3D animation, particularly in the beginning with a scene involving a paddle ball paddle coming right out of the screen! Very solid overall.

The voice acting was also top notch, probably the best part of the film. Resse Witherspoon plays Susan and brings a very easy going charm and earnestness to the role to make you believe that she is a woman totally out of her element. Seth Rogan is fantastic as Bob, the brainless blob. He easily has the funniest lines in the film. Hugh Laurie brings a nice maniacal glee to his role as Dr. Cockroach that helps sell the character. Will Arnett of Saturday Night Live fame voices the Missing Link and he brings a nice feel to a character that may not be a tough as he thought. Rounding out the voice talent is Keifer Sutherland as the general in charge of the monster team, Rainn Wilson (Dwight of the Office) as Galaxhar, Paul Rudd as Susan's jerky fiancee, and in a bit of brilliant casting, Stephen Colbert as the President. Each one brings their own flavor to the film and really rounds out the experience.

The downside is the story. As a children's film it is very cookie-cutter and formulaic. Each beat you see coming and I didn't feel they pushed at anything like Pixar does, or even Dreamworks did with the first two Shreks. It makes you laugh and provides plenty of entertainment, but it just didn't have that same qualities that set it above other animated films. I just didn't think it was quite the same level as WALL-E or Coraline was in terms of story quality or 3D content.

That doesn't mean its not a fun film. They do pepper in several jokes for adults, including my favorite joke when The president attempts to communicate to the giant alien robot using a keyboard and sending sounds like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which then degenerates into the keyboard theme from Beverly Hills Cop. All age groups will enjoy the film. I had a lot of fun and would definitely recommend checking it out, just make sure you hit the 3D showing! Monster vs Aliens is a fun picture that is great for kids and will keep adults entertained throughout.

End of Line.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flash Fiction: The Darkest Dawn

Chapter 24

The Cup hadn't changed much over the years. Since the accident I hadn't been around a whole lot, mostly because of Julien. He had taken the loss of his daughter hard, harder than maybe even me. It was a dangerous world for a Norm to be involved in and after all the years of his family being intertwined with this business, it had caught up to them in the form of me. We had talked a few times since the accident, mostly degrading into shouting matches between the two of us. I knew he still blamed me for not protecting her, but I also think that deeper he blamed himself. Like I did.

The Cup was a three story affair. The middle floor was on ground level and looked like an average bar that acted mostly as a front for the Norms. The bodyguards out front had glamours to make their appearance look normal so nothing looked out of place. Julien kept a couple of regulars in this area to keep the right people in the right places. Upstairs was Julien's...and was Juliet's, living quarters. Downstairs is where the real action was though. Officially The Copper Cup is not technically protected territory, both walks just keep an uneasy code. Truthfully, the Cup hasn't seen a Daywalker since before I was born, but the uneasy peace between Users, Fell, and the Dark, not to mention the Church, still holds here. That's not to say that fights don't happen and things don't get bloody because it happens a lot. My own past is history of that.

I gave a nod to one of Julien's regulars as we headed for the back stairwell. His aura was flashing White and Red, probably already using his divination and mental powers to communicate downstairs. They would know I was coming. Bell stayed close to me as we headed down the stairs. I loosened one of the knives I kept tucked in my sleeve and held my aura in check, I didn't need to send the wrong signals out, things were gonna be dicey enough as it was.

We walked into the bar and headed to the counter. I could see Julien lock eyes on me instantly, the rag he was using to wipe out a glass going over and over the same area. I could pick up whispers going through the tables, probably about me being here. I mean I am not generally liked by either side even on the best of days. Being a cop to both sides of the law doesn't make you a lot of friends so most of the guys couldn't be happy to see me. It was even worse when you added in my history in this place. I knew that whatever we did, if we were going to have any chance of getting any info on the whereabouts of Serapha or who Brother Tristan was working for, we needed to talk to Julien first.

I headed straight up to the bar as Bell slinked into one of the booths by the door. Most eyes had been on me, hopefully drawing some of the attention off her. I ran a small current of Ethereal energy through me for appearances sake as I took my stool. Julien kept me locked in a stare as he walked up to my spot. If any of the supposed elf heritage still ran in his veins, it had long been bred out over the years. He was tall with close cropped black hair. He had the appearance of a man who at one time might have been a boxer, but the years and wear had not been as kind. He was still thick and muscled, but he was developing a gut. There was more salt than pepper in his hair and goatee and the age lines around his eyes had grown deeper in the years. He was wearing a pair of black work pants and faded white t-shirt with an old apron around his waist. It shocked me that he looked so old.

"Julien. It's been a long time."

He fixed me with a withering stare that would intimidate most people but I kept my eyes locked on his and my face easy.

"Alex fucking Develin. Pretty ballsy to be showin' yer face around here after all these years. You must want something pretty bad to risk coming in here again when you have so pointedly fucking avoided us for so long."

I gave a sigh and wondered how I should play this for what seemed like the thousandth time. A conversation I had replayed in my head over and over, sometimes finding myself begging him to forgive me, sometimes us taking our frustrations out on each other. I knew though that I really only had one choice right now. The bad blood between us would have to be worked out and if I got through this shit alive I was gonna stop putting it off and deal with it. For now though, I didn't have time to pour salt on any old wounds.

"Julien... Listen, I know we have a lot of shit between us. It's the job Julien and I'm in deep, so deep that everyone is in it. I know you hate me and whether you believe it or not, I hate myself too. I wake up every day and wish that I could have traded places with her, every day living with the knowledge that i failed you, that I failed her. Today though, today I need you to put this aside. I swear to you that what I am about to tell you is bigger than us. Bigger than even her. You can hate me, curse me, whatever you want but I need your help."

I think even my voiced cracked as I said that. It was never easy for me to ask for help and in the past few days, well I've been doing that a lot more than I was use to. Growing up it seemed like I was alone with my problems and after what had happened between Bell, then with Juliet and Father Mal, it always seemed like a better idea to just be alone, that way no one got to close. No one got hurt, Now I was turning to the man I had hurt worst of all.

He kept his eyes on me and I could see the machinations of his brain rolling around. He wasn't stupid. He knew what my job was and he had to have heard about what had happened over the past few days. An attack an an Ancients lair, the attack at St. Augustine's, maybe even the sprawling brawl outside of The Academy, this kind of stuff was just the sort of gossip that the Cup trafficked in. Finally, he reached under the bar and pulled out a longneck, jerked the cap off and took a long swig.

"Fuck kid. I've spent the last few years hating your fucking guts. Now you come here and ask me for help? That takes a huge fuckin' pair son. I want nothing more than to tell my boys to drag your ass outta here by the balls, but you say that your on the job and that your in so bad that you have to come for me for help. I know you. You have done nothing but fuck up your life. You wandered in here broke and alone and I took you in, having pissed off your father and your only other friend at the time, who don't you think for a fucking second I didn't notice come in with you. Then you can't even protect my daughter, fail me, yourself, and my sweet Juliet. Hell, you even failed your fucking first fucking handler when you took this fucking job."

"Your a fucking failure son. Why should I give a shit about you?"

He took another swallow of his beer as I sat there, finally breaking eye contact. I knew a part of me thought I really deserved what he had said. That I was a failure and that everything I touched turned to shit. Worse was he was probably right but I couldn't afford to wallow in pity right now. The fate of a whole helluva lot of people rested on me right now and I was tired of being that person. It was time to man the fuck up.

"Julien, everything you said is true. I don't deny one fucking bit. It doesn't change whats going on, the bigger fucking picture."

I then laid out what I knew. About Serapha and Brother Tristan, about the fact that if I didn't find the connection between the Day and the Night Walkers, the world as we know is was done. Julien listened to what I said, at first dismissively, but more attentively as I laid out the essentials. As I wrapped up the tale, he leaned back against the bar a bit and looked me over.

"If what your sayin' is true, and I think it is, you're in a pretty deep shit storm son. We all are. I'm not saying that we are even by any fucking means, but I think I can help you. If things are as bad as you say, I don't think I can afford not to. Start with Marko Andrecko, he's a former User turned Cobbler, got kicked out of the Academy a few years back for trying to tap into some Necro magic on school grounds. Word is he has been hiring up muscle for the past few weeks. He usually comes in around midnight most nights. You'll know him, he has purple hair and never travels without his work."

"Oh, and Alex. Don't think we are done with this by any fucking means, end of the world or not."

With that he turned and went back down the bar. I glanced at my watch and realized that midnight wasn't that far away. As I walked over to the booth where Bella was i thought about what Julien had said. All in all, things had gone a bit better than I had thought. Sure he hated me, but he gave me a lead, something to work with and that was more than I deserved from him. I pulled into the booth and Bella already had a beer waiting for me. I took a pull and fired up a smoke, filling her in on what Julien had told me. All that was left was the waiting.

I saw him come in, a little after midnight. He wore a black button down work shirt open to the fourth button and blue jeans. His purple hair stood on end like he had stuck his finger into an electrical socket. His face and ears were a mess of piercings and earrings and you could see tattoos on his chest and down his arms like sleeves. On either side of him lumbered two golems, creatures made from various materials and animated with the Yellow of Creationism magic, cobbled together so to speak. These two looked to be made of flesh and metal and when I shifted my Second Sight on, I could see the whirling mass of black and yellow that surrounded them both. Marko grabbed a seat with his back to the wall and pinched the waitresses ass as he ordered a round. The golems took guard on either side. Fucking Cobblers, why is this shit never easy?

I looked over at Bella as she flashed me a smile and gave her a nod. We were going to need every advantage we could get here so I steeled my sense for the coming onslaught. She stood up and unclasped the long black velour cloak she was wearing, laying it on the table. Underneath Bell was wearing a new pair of tight black breeches with leather braiding along the side that showed flashes of the pale skin of her calves, She had on a deep red blouse with a generous cut in the front, tight where it needed to be, though loose enough to give her free movement. She still had on her knee high boots and choker, along with her rings, and she had bound her hair in an ornate braid down her back, her face still framed by two long strands. She still had on her belt of pouches, as well as a simple leather messenger bag over her shoulder. I knew she still had several weapons tucked where they needed to be as well. Simply said, she looked like a knockout. Even I went flush when she released her pheromones.

Bella really tried to keep her pheromones in check most of the time. Being half-nymph half vampire, she has more control of her powers than her Mother did. Her Mom couldn't turn off her pheromones, part of the reason I thought her Dad had did what he had did to her mother. When Bell let loose though, it was hard not to be taken in. She walked over to where Marko was sitting as I eased out from my seat and worked my way across to gain a better vantage point.

We had worked out a plan. First we would try the soft approach. I really didn't want to get into a fight here if I could help it and neither did Bella. She would try to get Marko under her spell and get the info the easy way. If that didn't work, well then I come in with the stick and do it the hard way. I couldn't see what they were saying, but all eyes were on Bella as she made her way to the table and struck up a conversation. I kept my senses walled up to not get dragged in and kept my Second Sight on. I could see the Orange swirls of her inherent magic mix with the more powerful swirls of Green and Red in her aura. Bella had potential in 4 of the 7 schools of magic, one day she could be as strong as Merrin in the Academy if she wished.

I kept my Sight trained on both of them as the Yellow and Black of Marko's aura began to flirt with Bella's. On the surface Marko seemed unaware of the struggle as each aura prodded the others, Bella was stronger though. As the tendrils of her aura seeped into Marko's, Bella began shutting down his magical protection. She touched his hand and laughed as they carried on a conversation and even at this distance, i could see the want in his eyes as he stared at Bella, flush with excitement. I watched Bella smile as her aura began to slid into place, overtaking his fully. As the last vestiges of his aura began to wink out, things go like they always do for me, six kinds of shitty.

Marko was slammed with a stream of Black, Necromancy filling his aura and surrounding him in another shield like we had seen before. Fucking Conduits! I guess we do this the hard way.

End of Line.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

True Story Time!

Hey all!

I thought i would recount another sadly true story from my past in which I undoubtedly do something foolish to embarrass myself. Arguably most of my really good stories have been told, but I was telling this one the other day and thought it might be funny enough to pass on.

When I first started working for McDonalds I worked at one of the older restaurants in the market. It had a basement and an exceptionally long drive thru window for a quick service restaurant. Sadly its closed now but I worked at that store for almost 8 years before the series of transfers I have had over the last few years. Back in the late 90's we didn't always use both a front and a back pay window, most of the times we worked a single pay window in the drive thru, a practice some places use still.

So I was working the front pay window, making drinks, taking money, and handing out orders. The store I worked at was kind of slow and really we didn't work all that much except when school let out or football season. I am working the drive thru (DT) pretty much by myself, with a friend of mine helping out in between helping the walk in customers. I had handed out an order but during the payment process has dropped a quarter on the ground. I wanted to get the money so my drawer wouldn't be short, so i waited for a lull in the DT and went to get the money.

Now the way our store was set up I had two options to get the money. Option 1 was to go out the cut out on the front counter, out the main door, down along the cement entrance pad that had about a 15 foot metal fence (for pedestrian protection as it ran parallel to the DT car lane) then back up the 20 yards or so to the pay window. Or option 2 and just lean out the window and grab it. Yeah.. I chose option 2.

I leaned out the window, my legs off the ground and behind my head. Now even then I was never a picture of agility or coordination. I managed to get the quarter, and another dime and a nickle that had all fallen. It was then I reached for another dime, just out of my reach. I stretched for it, and proceeded to somersault out the window into the cement floor. Luckily we still had no cars in the lane! I popped back up quickly and jetted down the lane and back into the store, praying that no one saw that tumble.

As I walked inside the other girl on front counter who had been helping me asked me what I was doing outside. To be honest I kind of had a crush on her at the time and I was embarrassed so I quickly blurted, "Nothing! Nothing at all!" She didn't buy it and I finally fessed up to what happened. The story quickly spread and soon everyone in the store was teasing me about it, including my brother and my room mate Jason's brother Danny. I took it in stride and I can laugh at the absurdity of it now. I mean a 200 pound man falling out of a DT window should be funny right? To this day my brother still laughs about it.

I know tell the story to my employees if they are having a bad day. If a customer yells at them or if the problems at home is starting to effect them at the job. it acts as a funny tale that makes them feel a little better about themselves and gives them a laugh. Still, if I could do it all over again, I probably would still have taken that shortcut. I mean that's like a walk of 30 yards!!

Stay tuned, I have new Flash Fiction in the works this week, and maybe even another True Story from my years at McDonalds. Thanks for reading.

End of Line.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Hey all,

Short poem written while I should have been playing closer attention in traffic school. Expunging a ticket and expunging sad thoughts. A productive day.


Broken dreams have turned to dust,

Years have past and gone to rust.

Under strain does oppression take,

The pressure's weight claimed its stake.

And through these odd and lonely years,

My failures yield but doubt and fears.

Though my life is not as planned,

In a world alone I ride unmanned.

'Till my sorrow builds upon itself,

This lacking life my sole wealth.

From this window it all goes by,

And I wonder why I should even try.

People rush both to and fro,

To happier places and full lives they go.

I gaze upon those with a happy face,

Lost in the pity of my own disgrace.

I've shut myself away inside this room,

Afraid of what possibility may loom.

Boarded the frame and locked to door,

To protect myself from wanting more.

My own heart kept away from the chance,

Secreted from the pains of lost romance.

How can you kill what you never had,

But if I am so safe then how am I so sad?

I've so shielded myself from all those about,

That just now I've realized what I've missed out.

End of Line.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Flash Fiction: The Darkest Dawn

Chapter 23

I knew my first move would be to see what I could dig up at the Cup. There was a lot of shit happening and it was happening faster than I could keep up. My first order of business was to figure out what to do with everyone. I go into the Cup with a full regiment of these fuckers at my back and it would make the job a lot harder than it needed to be. Besides Monsignor Malkin stinked of cop, or what passes as a cop in my world, so there was no way he was coming with me.

I also knew that Allegra wasn't going to wait for me to find out what I needed to know. She was gonna strike and strike soon and the sooner we were ready, the better. She believed that she had to go through me to counter the prophecy and she would find me sooner rather than later. I wasn't sure if she actually thought I would turn on my friends, on my job or not. Maybe she was hoping that after seeing her power, I would want what she had. That i would want to be like her. Well, sister or not, that bitch was crazy!

I sent Malkin back to St. Augustine's. I knew that would be the rally point, and dear old Dad even promised to send some of his agents to surround the place. I didn't have many safe points left, but St. Augustine's had the best defensive magic available to me, so it made as decent a rally point as any. What bothered me though was that I still couldn't figure out what the connection was between The Dark and The Light, but somehow I knew that Tristan was the key. Whoever was supporting Light Walkers with Dark troops had to have a contact point between the two worlds. Find Tristan, I could find a lot of the answers I wanted.

Dad sent Hood with Malkin, who actually looked pretty angry that Bella was choosing to come with me. Malkin only agreed to go to the church if I took his Hunter with me. For my protection. Fuck, this guy stinked of cop almost as bad as he did. I told him okay, but he was waiting outside as far as I was concerned. Monsignor Malkin began sorting the people to the rally point when Gear finally tracked me down.

"Hey Gear. I appreciate you doing all this for me. Watching Bell and Quint like that. Sorry if I put you in a spot. Thanks again for the resupply too, I think I'll be needing it."

"Look Alex, after all these years of working together, we're friends. I know what that means to you, what you'll do for a friend. Besides, Bell and Quint are good people, even if one of them is mostly a Norm, and well, shit, if what you were telling us back there was true, its far time I picked a side. I'm gonna head back to Vickers and see if I can't rally another bit of help. Not all of us Fell think your a son of a bitch. Just most of us."

He had said that last line with a smile and a wink, pushing his specs back up his grease smudged nose. He started to turn back, motioning to the ogre that seemed to be his bodyguard, when he stopped short.

"Almost forgot Alex. When you called me and told me about the shit that was happening, I though I better bring this."

He motioned to the ogre and he reached and pulled out a long wrapped package. As Gear tenderly unrolled it, I knew what it was. The Daysword. I had commissioned it over a year ago, a sword charged with Light capabilities. It would seriously help out when fighting all the crazy shit that goes bump in the night. It had cost a small fortune, but more so because Gear had become obsessed with it. He hadn't stopped with charging it with Day powers, but Night side as well. He figured that either ability could help me in a pinch, and Fell were sometimes more susceptible to Dark powers. Who knows what kind of shit I was going to see.

Forged of the purest silver and blessed by priests of both Walks, it could be activated by simply turning the hilt. One side would flush the blade with a fiery light, the other an inky liquid black. Much like my twin forms. It was a powerful weapon, and maybe the difference between me walking away from this fight, and not. I ran the blade over in my hand, running a finger along the sharp edge. It was adorned with intricate rune scroll work on either side, each representing the different Walks. The hilt and crosspiece had been worked into the scroll work and as I touched it I could see the blue and black magic intertwine along the etching. I also knew that I would be able to flush my own ethereal energy through the blade. I watched the color swirls through the ornate inlays and etch marks before sliding it back into its silver lined scabbard.

"You've outdone yourself Garrison. This is far more than I expected. Thank you."

Gear flashed another wild smile as he pulled his pointed hat forward on his head.

"See you soon Alex."

I made my way downstairs and headed to the front door. Dad was waiting there, giving Hood instructions in a soft voice. Hood left as I approached the door and Dad looked back at me.

"A few days ago I came to you and said some things. Things I had been saying to you for your whole life. That you were not special, despising you for your feelings towards Norms. I know I was not the Father you wanted, or could have been. Everything I did was to bring you to this point. To push you along the right path. Your Mother knew what you could do. She knew what I would have to do, and I did it for her. Your sister means to end it all, to purge this Earth of all of the normals, and in the process, start a war that we have been avoiding for a millennium. You are the key. You are the only one who can beat her. Know that all who serve me, shall serve you in the war to come."

I looked at my Father for really the first time. The fire in his eyes dimmed, seeing the regret. I took his shoulder an pulled him into a hug. We were gonna have some issues to work out if I made it out of this alive. Still, it was a start, and more of a start than I thought I had a right to at this point.

"Don't worry Dad. I'll be pissing you off again in no time."

He actually snorted a bit of a laugh and pushed me away. I gave him a grateful smile and headed out the door to the waiting car out front. One of Dad's luxury sedans with the heavy window tint. Bell was in the driver's seat and the Vatican Hunter, Shepard, was in the back. I popped a fresh smoke out of the pack and flicked my lighter out. I pulled open the door and turned back to my Dad, who was ordering his men into position, and gave him a nod.

"Okay Bell. Up for one more road trip?"

She laughed, that wonderful laugh that I didn't realize how much I had missed.

"I'll say it again Alex Develin. You sure do know how to show a girl a good time."

She slammed the car into gear and headed towards The Copper Cup. I smoked the cigarette and watched the traffic in the early hours of False Dawn begin to dwindle. Somehow I knew even then, that this was going to be the last moment of peace I was likely to see for a while. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Cup, I flicked teh spent butt on the ground and stomped it out. I looked at the entrance and tried to shut out the memories, the explosion, the scream, and her face. Most of all, I tried to shut out all those memories of failure. I motioned for Shepard to wait out here as we approached the bouncers on duty outside, two huge fucking Were's. I wadded those memories deep inside and flashed my best "Don't Even Try To Fuck With Me" face as came to the door. They parted as I grabbed the handle and turned, heading inside.

I was all done with failing.

End of Line.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Assorted Nuts!

Happy April...fools!

Ahh another month has come and gone. In looking back at my output last month I think I am a bit disappointed. I really thing that I could have posted more if I had made a better effort, especially with The Darkest Dawn. I have reached that space where there is so much exposition to get out before ramping up to the climax that I lost steam. This month I intend to only post Darkest Dawn flash fiction in hopes of getting on track before turning back to some shorter tales in May.

I have a pretty full workload this week and may not post as committedly as I want to, but I hit a vacation in about 7 more days and with that I am going to really dedicate some time to writing.

I will say that it felt good to finish up Three More Bullets. With the exception of the final two chapters which ran a little long I kept it to about the clip that I wanted and think that I found a nice end. I think next up for short term purposes I will be looking at some assorted crime and noir type stories, I am going to try out some books on the subject this month and see if I can flesh some kind of idea out.

Thanks for sticking with me on the blog and I;m committed to posting that new instalment of the Darkest Dawn by this weekend. Keep on reading.

End of Line.