Monday, July 31, 2006

Surgical Interlude

Well guys n’ gals, tomorrow--or later today if you want to be a pedant--is S-Day. Nine thirty AM sharp, to be precise. I have no idea at the moment how long I will be out of commission, so I’m leaving a hefty dose of content right below this post for the interim. I have posted the next four chapters of Washed ashore just blow this post. By my estimate, it is about a week’s worth of content if compared to my usual output. If you read it, perhaps you shouldn’t do so all in one sitting, but you may do whatever you wish. Believe, my mind will be on other things besides the general public’s neglect of my creative endeavors. The other chapters are on the sidebar if you want to catch up, start reading in the first place, or just snicker at my typos.

I am going to leave you with a YouTube video as well. This is my favorite Beatles song. The video was filmed in 1970 and has all the indicators that the Beatles are beginning to fall apart. Everyone one of them is visibly stoned out of his mind and Yoko One is practically sitting in John’s lap while supervising his guitar playing. Couple that with the general sad tone, and yo have a classic. What’s more, it seems really appropriate right now. Before you ask, yes I know "Mother Mary" is a euphemism for pot. remind me to tell you the origins of the Monkees' "Cuddly Toy" someday. Harry Nilsson was a brilliant, but troubled songwriter.

I’ll see you when I see you.
Washed Ashore, Chapter Eleven

"The Old World Meets the New"

Alex was standing at the front desk fumbling through some accounting documents. He was completely absorbed in number crunching, periodically tapping away at the small adding machine before him. The business ennd of this was never his thing. Even as a lawyer he was interested in the big picture, the results, helping people--but never the nuts and bolts of it all. One of the few things that drew him to run for office was the promise of grunts to do all this for him. Well, that job had other drawbacks that made running a hotel in the middle of nowhere seem like a good idea. Letting Donna keep the books also sounded like a fine idea. For all her Jackie Kenndey ways, she had a head for business poor Alex never could manage. Unfortunately, Donna just wasn’t herself lately. Alex couldn’t put his finher on it.

Alex also couldn’t make the columns match up. He leaned over to rest his chin in the palm of his left hand to get a closer look. As he did so, the pencil behind his left ear fell to the floor. It was just one of those silly inconveniences that hit at the wrong time. Alex groaned loudly and swiped at the adding machine, knocking some papers to the floor as he did. He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead.

“What the heck is wrong with everything?” he said out loud even though no one was there to hear.

He bent down to pick up the papers and pencil. While he was down there, he heard Donna’s distinction footfalls geading down the stairs and towards the desk. He quickly composed himself. He hoped Donna would be herself again. He immediately snickered at the thought. He couldn’t believe he would ever wish for that.

He stood up just as Donna was passing by the desk. She was surprised to see him, but quickly composed herself.

“I’ve been looking for you,” she said.

“Well, I’ve been--” Alex quickly righted the adding machine and put the pencil back behind his ear. “--checking the books.”

Donna took a peek over the counter and noticed the papers were shuffled and out of order. Alex quickly began stacking them neatly and in order even though the top page was clearly upside down.

“They teach you that accounting methos in law school?” she asked.

“They didn’t want to intimidate the liberal arts undergrads with math,” he quipped. "It worked."

“Indeed. Just leave it. I’ll get to them,’ she said. Alex breathed an internal sigh of relief.

“Thanks,” he said sheepishly.

“Have you been following the goings on here?” she asked.

Alex raised his eyebrows but quickly put on a clam face. He knew from experience that when something was bothering Donna, it made thing fifty percent worse to not know what it was. Donna had been married to him long enough to know the wheels were turning in his head processing those thoughts. She sighed.

“Take it easy. I don’t mean with me,” she reassured him somewhat condescendingly. “I’m talking about the staff.”

“I really haven’t been around them lately. I gave most of them time off after the Chief asked for time for their religious rituals or whatever they are doing.”

“Most of them have stayed on for now, but they have been chattering about.”

“About what? Unionizing?” Alex joked.

She ignored his attempt at humor. “No--an oncoming storm.”

“Sounds like unionizing to me.”

"Shut up,” she said without changing much of her tone. “That’s only half of it. They genuinely believe something is up, but Malu is stirring them up just as badly.”

Alex removed the pencil from his ear and plopped it on the desk. Donna piqued his interest by mentioning Malu. Like any young man, he was full of restless energy and idealism--hungry for something to believe in but dismissive of any generally accepted belief system. He was someone forever destined to be disappointed and drag down as many people with him as possible.

“He’s never been too thrilled about us being here,” Alex said.

“One of his virtues, I’ve always thought. Anyway, he organizing some sort of meeting among the tribesmen. I don’t know what is going on, but I sense conflict.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in this stuff.”

“I don’t, but they do and therefore we have to deal with it.”

“And you want me to do what?” Alex asked.

“Just keep your eyes open. The last thing we need is a full on revolt. It would be just our luck to wind up boiling in a pot in the middle of the island.”

“Now, they’re not Cannibals--” Alex began.

“A joke. A joke,” Donna replied as she turned and walked off.

Alex grumbled to himself. This is exactly what he needed--everyone going crazy on him all at once.

Outside on the deck, Bill, Jackie, and Wendy were all having a quiet lunch together. Bill was the typical nerdy guy who never loosened up although he would swear up and down that he did. He had been in the sun for several days but was still white as a turkey breast. If you loked at him in his normal life, you’d swear he wore a tie to mow the grass. Here he were a white golk shirt, plaid shorts, and sandals with black argyle socks. Jackie was a little better and often embarrassed, but didn’t say much. He made too good a living. Wendy was generally humiliated by both, but what else was new for someone her age? They just didn’t understsnd things.

“I understand you’ve been seeing a lot of that masters boy since we’ve been here,” Bill blurted out to Wendy while she was sipping her lemonade. She gulped it down quickly, nearly choking on it. She wasn’t in the habit of talking about her love life, no matter what happened in it.

“His name is Sean, Dad,” she told him.

“All right. You’ve been seeing a lot of Sean since we got here. A little summer romance brewing there?”

“We’re just having fun, Dad. Don’t worry,” she replied with the prerequisite roll of her eyes.

“As long as that’s all you’re having.” he said. ”Good grief, Dad. Don’t you trust me?"

“I’ve noticed a few changes in you,” he said. ‘What are you wearing under that shirt and shorts/”

Wendy sighed. “A bathing suit.”

“I haven’t know you to do that since you splashed around that plastic kiddie pool we used to put out in the backyard for you. Remember that?”

Wendy rolled her eyes again. This time her, while still remaining out of the conversation, gave her a stern look. Discretion being the better part of valor, Wendy corrected her attitude--on the outside, at least.

“Yes, I remember that. But I’m not a little girl anymore, Dad. I’ve grown up.”
Bill leaned in to his daughter. ‘I know. You’re a young woman now. But young women don’t cavort about the shoreline, wiggling their goods for any worthless beach bum to see.”

“That’s not what I am doing or what Sean is!” she said angrily.

“If he’s a boy, that’s exactly what he is. Young girls trot through this resort all the time. You don’t think he picks one out of every batch to use? Especially ones that advertise?”

For a moment, Wendy was speechless. Her jaw moved up and down, but no sound emerged. Memories of roger and her college experience came flooding back. Why didn’t her father ever understand who she really was? Jackie braced herself, ready to intervene, yet didn’t.

“I..do…not…advertise!” Wendy said deliberately and in anger. “You don’t know me at all!”

“You’re my little girl. I know you better than you know yourself.” Bill went casually back to eating as though the rest of what he had to say was so matter-of-fact there was no need to devote all of his attention to it.

“No, you don’t!” Wendy so forcefully bill dropped his fork. “You dumped me into a secluded, near brainwashing environment at school and never noticed what I had become. You’ve never known about any of my experiences, the sacrifices I have made, or the suffering in silence I have done trying to do the right thing! It hasn’t gotten me anywhere, but I still walk the line. I finally crawl out o my shell and you think I’m a whore!”

This time Jackie dropped her fork.

“I don’t like that word,” she said.

“Neither do I,” Bill scolded. “You watch your mouth young lady.”

Their island native waiter approached completely unaware of what was going on.

“I everything all right here? Something else I can get you?” he said.

Wendy spied Sean coming out the front door fifteen feet away. He didn’t notice hr or her family sitting there. Wendy took the napkin out of her lap and tossed it on the table. She stood up, sliding her wicker chair back with the back of her legs.

“No, thank you,” she said. “I’ll get it myself.”

She run double time over to Sean who was about to head down the steps towards the beach. He noticed her quickly.

“Hello, Wendy--” Before he could say anything else, she grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and planted a long, deep kiss square of his lips. He was taken completely by surprise. She was were Bill and Jackie. Every muscle in Bill’s body tensed, but he didn’t say anything. Jckie was about to make an effort to calm him down when she realized he wasn’t actually about to cause a scene.

When Wendy finally let go, you could almost hear the suction break. She looked back at her parents with a devilish smile, then back at Sean.

“Let’s head for the beach,” she suggested. The two sauntered down the steps without another word. Bill and Jackie were stunned. The waiter looked at each one in succession.

“Would either of you like dessert as well?” he asked. They scowled up at him. He smiled politely and stepped back. “I’ll just check on you a bit later.”

Back in the kitchen, the waiter wiped his brow. His friend washing dishes noticed him.

“Tough crowd?” he asked.

“Family quarrel on the patio. Two stuffy parents outside. Their daughter has found true love,” he said.

The man at the sink laughed. ‘I’ll never get Americans. They are either ultra prudish or oversexed and somehow they always flock together.”

“Ah, but get this--she’s this girl’s after Sean.” The man stopped scrubbing a dish and smiled at the waiter.

“No way? He’s not much of a ladies man.”

“Ah, but Daddy has money. That goes a long way with American girls.”

“Indeed.” He went back to washing the dish, then stopped again after a moment. He adopted a serious tone. “Are you going toight?”

The waiter reciprocated his friend’s tone. “Yes--just to hear what he has to say. I’m not so sure the Old Man is right on this one.”

“The Chief has been a good leader over the years. This is a heck of a lot better life than we have ever had before,” the waiter said.

“I agree, so why is he changing his tone now? He’s gone back to some notion about spirits being angry, prayer and meditation. Stuff we’ve only done for the tourists as of late. No one takes it seriously anymore.”

“I think that is Malu’s point. The Chief is standing in the way of progress.”

“yes, well Malu has had some nasty things to say about us being cashiers, waiters, and dishwashers, too.”

“I think he has restless expectations. But I’m not so sure we ought to abandon our faith. That’s asking for trouble.”

“Bread of the soul, huh?” the waiter quipped as he picked up a small basket full of rolls and headed outside to place them on a newly occupied table.

“See you tonight,” the dishwasher said.

That night a decent crowd of villagers had gatheed just outside the small town of tourist shops. Malu was pleased to see word and spread quickly. He had deliberately chosen this spot to emphasize his point. The whole crowd was murmuring loudly when he stepped out in front of them and raised his hands indicating he was about speak. As expected, they were not all patient.

“Wht did you bring us out here for, Malu? Our workday is over. We want to go home,” one older man said.

“I understand. This will only take a moment, but decisions we make tonight will shape our future for better or for worse,” Malu said.

“What are you talking about?” someone else asked.

“I’m talking about where we’re going. I’m talking about the future. I’m talking about us going in the wrong direction.”

“And what direction is that?” the same fellow asked.

“Backwards at worst. Standing in place at best. There’s a whol flipping world out there we could join in, but we are stuck here and for some reason, you all like it that way.”

“The crowd talked amongst itself. It was the sound of puzzlement, but it was getting heated. Malu couldn’t have that. He cleared his throat so loudly it burnt, but it did the trick. The crowd fell silent.

“I think that we need more vision at the top,’ he began. “I think it is time we abandoned this religious nonsense. I think it’s time we abandoned this tourist trap. I think it’s time we abandoned the Chief.”

The crowd gasped.

“You speak this way about the gods who have guided us over the yars? About your own uncle who has guided us as well?”

"There are no gods to guide you, M’Daka. You make your own fate. Destint is in your hands, sink or swim. Believe me, we are sinking. Look at yourselves. Once, when you trsusted wholly in these gods, you were simple frmers. Now you have adopted western ways and improved yourselves, but you are still slaves to the white men who roll in and out of here. You wait on them hand and foot. They think the beliefs you hold dearly are a joke. They’re right, but you need to toss off both those shackles and the one’s they have put on you.”

The crowd talked amongst itself even more heatedly this time until one man stepped forward. Everyone quieted down. The man was D’Naga, a respected religious leader and now ice cram parlor owner. Everyone always listened to what he had to say.

“Malu, you come from a great family. We all respect your uncle for his wise decisions, and we give you a lot of ground because of him, but you are wrong now. Your uncle has been our spiritual guide for decades. He has brought us to where we need to be in both our physical and spiritual lives. You are correct, we have had the best lives of any generation, but it has come with a price. Your uncle has foreseen it. Look, even now storm clouds are brewing in the sky.”

Instintively, Malu looked up. There was indeed a pretty nasty storm coming. In fact, th sky looked more menacing than Malu had ever seen before. He still wasn’t moved.

“D’Naga, rain is a natural process. It falls on good people and bad equally. It is not a punishment from above or even a sign we should changes our ways.”

“I believe you are being na├»ve, my son,” D’Naga assured him.

"You scoop ice cream and believe invisible cloud beings control your fate. You’re indicative of the problem I am talking about,” Malu said contemptuously. The crowd gasped. D’Naga paid the insult little mind.

“There is nothing wrong with living simple lives, walking with our gods. If that means we have to be farmers again, so be it. I will not scopp another cone if the gods deem it thus.”

Half the crowd nodded and spoke among themselves in apparent agreement with D’Naga. The other half didn’t seem so suee. D’Naga sensed this and decided the meeting should be broken up.

“This is blasphemous against our gods and treasonous against our Chief. I suggest we leave.” A good many in the crowd noded and spoke their assent. D’Naga turned to Malu and wagged his finger in his face as he scolded him. “I will not tell your uncle of this, but I cannot protect you from the wrath of the gods.”

Malu fumed at D’Naga’s condescension. “I’ll manage, you old fool.”

D’Naga didn’t say another word as much o the crowd followed him away. But quie a few, mostly younger folks, stayed behind in solidarity with Malu. He waved them off with his hand.

“Forget it. We’ll try again later,” he said.

With that, the remaining members of the crowd dispersed. Malu cupped his hands behind hi head and stared down at the ground in anger. Before he could get totally lost in pouting, he heard a singled person clapping where the crowd had stood. He looked up to see the Colonel standing there. A large bandage still covered half his face.

“Bravo, Malu. Well said,” the told him. Malu knit his brow.

“Who are you?” he asked.

"I am your salvation. Come, we have much to discuss.”
Washed Ashore, Chapter Twelve

"Apotheosis"

“Could you be more specific about my salvation?“ Malu asked. The Colonel was standing there in full military regalia, but Malu wasn’t much impressed.

“I am Col. Javiar Santiago, President of San Pedro,” the Colonel replied.

“Never heard of it,” Malu answered. “What happened to your face?”

Anger at this impetuousness welled up inside the Colonel, but he stuffed it into a tiny ball and decided he would kick a puppy or something later to let it out. Right now he had other priorities.

“I had a incident with a minx,“ the Colonel answered,“ But whether you know it or not, it is very relevant to you. My people are similarly inclined as yours. They don’t recognize a visionary when he stands before them.” the flattery piqued Malu’s attention.

“No, I guess they don’t. My people, anyway. Not yours,” Malu said. The Colonel smiled.

“Oh,no. My people are just the same. They are like baby birds--ready to fly, but they must be tossed out of their nests by a loving parent. Or a great leader.”

“And you are a great leader?” Malu asked somewhat incredulously. The Colonel had been standing at a distance but deliberately approached Malu. He was a few inches taller than Malu an used that to emphasize his point. Malu wanted to take a step back, but didn’t. He knew the colonel would have liked that.

“I lead my people from the Dark Ages to beyond the slavery placed on them by Americans and into the 21st century. I know precisely what you want.” the Colonel told him.

“And you have ideas about how I can do this?” Malu asked.

“Indeed.”

There was a long silence as Malu rolled things over in his head. Ther was a dark vibe about the Colonel. Malu had encountered some discussions of American foreign policy while studying in the united states. He knew of American manipulation throughout Latin America and how some nasty people came to power because of it. Now he wished he’d paid that more attention to all that. Maybe he would know who he was dealing with that way.

“Why would you do this?” Malu asked. The Colonel began strolling to nowhere in particular. Malu followed beside him. He wasn’t interested in being jerked around, but what could he do at this point?

“Because I hate to see lost people in bondage,” the Colonel said.

“I am not in bondage.”

“I am aware that you are not, but your people are. I see potential in you. A potential to be a great man.”

Malu’s ego swelled inspite of himself.

“And what do you propose we do to achieve this goal?’ he asked. The Cllonel stopped walking and turned to him.

“Yu will help me achieve godhood. I will show you how to be a shepherd of man.”

Malu rolled his eyes and began to walk off.

“Great. You’re just as crazy as thy are.,’ he said. The Colonel grabbed him by his left bicep and spun him around. He squeezed hard enough to bruise. A look of shock and pain erupted on Malu’s face. “What are you doing? Let go1”

The Colonel leaned into to him, “Don’t ever walk away from me, boy.”

“You’re…you’re hurting me,” Malu whined pitifully.

The Colonel stood up straight and loosened his grip while not releasing it completely. Malu breathed a sigh of relief. He was embarrassed by his previous whimpering and put on a brave face.

“Now you see that you have much to learn,” the Colonel told him.

“About what?” he stuttered.

"Being a man. Being a leader. Becoming a god,’ the Colonel replied.

“There are no gods.”

“You’re people don’t believe that. Neither do mine. So I became one for them.” The Colonel finally let go of Malu’s arm. The young man rubbed it painfully, but did not run off as the Colonel suspected he might.

“You’re o go,’ Malu said. He was completely unsure why h decided to test the Colonel after what just happened, but he did. Surprisingly, the Colonel did not respond in anger. He could sense he had Malu hooked.

“The possibility dos exist for both of us,” the Colonel said.

“I’m not into that spiritual mubo nonsense. I believe in the here and now.”

“You’re lying to yourself, son. You are as hungry for something to believe in as your are willing to fight the generation that sired you. Every young man is. Just like every young man dreams of being more than he is.. Don’t overlook your chance because of a lack of faith.”

“Faith hasn’t brought me a whole lot. Just narrow minded superstition and people selling tee shirts.”

“I can promise you wisdom. Near infinite wisdom. You can leave this husk of a island and take your rightful place among the pantheon who really run the world.”

Malu looked skeptical.

“I don’t trust you,’ he said. The Colonel smiled.

“You’re gaining wisdom already.” He held his hand out for Malu to shake. It hung there for a long moment before Malu gripped it and shook. Neither one noticed the storm clouds were getting just a little darker.

The next day, Todd was heading into the water as he heard Sean’s voice calling out far behind him. He stooped, turned around, and saw Sean heading down the deck steps. Todd planted his board in the sand and waited for Sean to get there.

“Sean, what’s up, dude? And where’s your better half? I thought you two were joined at the hip,” he called out as Sean came within comfortable speaking distance. Sean sped up when Todd began talking to him.

“Actually, yesterday we were joined at the lips. Moe like the tonsils, really. It was a big surprise,’ Sean said.

“You dog, you. You’re not supposed to kiss and tell, though.”

Sean fumbled about. He wasn’t used to the ins and outs of having of love life, much lss the protocol of talking about it.

“Um, yeah. My mistake.” Sean scratched the back of his neck. He always did that when e was nervous. “I wanted to talk to you about something from a few days ago.”

Todd shifted his weight in the soft sand.

“All right. What is it?”

“Well, a couple of days ago, you fell off your board,”

“That happens all the time,” Todd interrupted. He was becoming noticeably agitated. He had hoped no one noticed him that day.

“Wendy got upset because you stayed underwater a long time. I assured her it was just a surfing thing and you knew what you were doing, but I had m doubts, too. What were you doing?”

Todd sighed and looked up into the sky as if waiting for words to fall like manna from heaven. They didn’t, so he went back to looking Sean in the eyes.

“Sean, you’re a surfer. You know the experience. The rush. The feeling of being on top of the world.”

“yeah, we’ve already talked about that. You’re looking for the ultimate rush and I am fascinated by that, but I don’t understand--’

“I know you don’t,” Todd interrupted. The response took Sean aback. “I do’t mean to be rude. There is more to it than feeling the power of riding a wave and being on top of the world. There is a freewall notion. Being at the mercy of the water is a much a thrill as being on top of it. it’s a give and take. Sometimes you need to be reminded of who’s really in charge.”

“Sometimes, Todd, I don’t think you are in charge of yourself, much less anything else.”

“And what do you know about that? Do you know the kid of life Iv’e had?” Todd angrily asked.

“I know--”

“No, you don’t. you know nothing.” Todd paused and smiled, hoping to defuse things before Sean got offended. ’I’m not trying to lecture you like some child, Sean, but I have had different experiences in life than you have. Learned different things, especially about my limits.”

“I’m worried about you exceeding them,” Sean said.

“Don’t be,” Todd replied. “Have you ever drifted just below the water’s surface, Sean?”

Sean fumbled for words. Todd did thi sort of thing all the time. He was about to dismiss any serious conversation, even with a concerned friend, with some metaphysical mumbo jumbo that eliminate all possibility of logical discussion. It frustrated Sean to no end.

“No, Todd. Not for long,’ Sean answered in a exasperated tone.

"I know. You’re in a hurry to get back to safety. You want to breath that sweet, sweet air. You’re missing out on floating into nothingness, Sean.”

“I’m not eager to embrace nothing, Todd.”

“That’s exactly what you embrace. How do you know everything you experience , every thing you feel is good when there has never been a time when you didn’t feel?”

“I just do, Todd. We all do. There’s no sense in doing these reckless things to feel that way.”

“You’re wrong,’ Todd told him, jabbing his index finger at him for emphasis. “Free floating. Sensory deprivation. Feeling nothing but the burning of your lungs. Life can have no meaning without that.” todd grabbed his board and lifted it out of the sand. Sean took a step back as Todd absentminded tucked it under his right arm. He never turned back to look at Sean.

“You worry me, Todd. There’s something not right about the way you’re thinking,” he said.

“Yeah. Like a spoiled rich kid like you would know anything about it,” shouted back. He tossed his board into the water and jumped on top of it. He began to paddle out as Sean still spoke to him. He no loner listened.

Sean looked up at the darkened sky. It had been like this since late yesterday afternoon. The tourists were often angry when it rained on their vacation. This time there was a thicker edginess in the air. Sean couldn’t put his finger on why he was uneasy about it. Such feelings were a new experience for him. He cupped his hands to his mouth and called out to Todd who was almost a dot on the horizon at this point.

“Todd, you shouldn’t be out in this weather! There will be lightening any minute now! Todd!” he yelled. Todd completely ignored him.

Sean turned to walk back towards the hotel when he noticed Wendy standing on the deck, leaning up against the rails with Jake and Chris. He ran towards the hoel and took the steps two at a time.

“He shouldn’t be out there. Look at the weather approaching,” Jake said when Sean got there.

“I know. I couldn’t talk him out of it.”

“He knows better. It’s against the surfing code,” Chris said.

Jake turned more serious, “Is he in his metaphysical mode again?”.

“Yeah,” Sean said and nodded.

Jake and Chris looked at each other. Sean and Wendy were impressed. Most of the time, the two seemed to be carefree bums without much emotion towards anything. That’s fun for a while, but it’s good to know they can change when necessary.

“What are you two thinking?” Wendy asked.

Jake paused for a moment, then spoke.

“There is something eating away at him. We don’t know what. He never talks about it. He just talks about finding peace on a wave. That’s all we can get out of him, so we just have to hope he finds it.”

“He won’t,” Sean said. “Because that is not what he’s looking for. He doesn’t want to feel anything, spiritual or otherwise. That’s what he wants.”

All four lined up on the deck to watch Todd ride a wave. There wasn’t much to do but watch things fall apart. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
Washed Ashore, Chapter Thirteen

"Revelations"

Alex peeked through the curtains of the lobby window facing the beach and saw Todd out in the water. He allowed to curtain to fall back into place and shook his head. He turned toward the center lobby where Donna was sprawled on a wicker couch.

“That kid Sean has been hanging out with--Todd. He’s out there surfing,” Alex told her.

“Surfers like the big waves before a storm. They always roll out before hurricanes,’ she answered.

“This doesn’t look like a hurricane. Definitely an electrical storm and that kid is out there like a human lightning rod.” Alex began to pace nervously. Donna never moved, nor chaned tone or expression.

“He’s a big boy. Besides, those wild spiked hairdos are poular among kids these days. He’ll get coloring books for Christmas the rest of his life, but at least he’ll look cool after he gets hit.”

Alex scowled at her.

“Woul you be serious. There are liability issues at stake,’ he said.

Donna groaned and sat up straight. She looked over at alex who was nearly wearing a whole in the floor.

“That kid checked in here on his credit card weeks ago and hsn’t done a thing but surf everyday with those two other kids trotting behind him. They’re all here on his dime,” she said. Alex stopped pacing.

"How’s a kid like that planning to pay that kind of bill off?” Alex asked.

“I don’t think he is,” Donna answered. “He seem like the type who daddy bails out whenever necessary. But according to Sean, he never speaks of daddy or anyone else. He a pure surfing Dalai Lama.”

“With a death wish, apparently,” Alex said.

“I think wehave deeper things to worry about than him.”

Alex cocked an eyebrow.

“Such as?” he asked.

“Such as,” Donna began as she stood up from the couch. “Suh as Bill Hendrix scolding me about your son locking lips with his daughter.”

“Sean and…and--”

“Wendy.”

“--Wendy. They’re an item? Are you sure? We’ve told him about doing that sort of things with guests. He’s been good about it so far.”

“Too good, actually. What were you doing when you were his age?”

“Studying for the LSAT.”

“Okay. Bad example. Normal kids his age are around other kids having fun, getting into trouble, and having relationships. Sean cant’ do that stuck here.”

Alex rolled his eyes.

“Don’t tell me you are going to go into another argument about going back to California. I have zero desire to run for governor again.”

“This isn’t about you. This is about your family an what is best for us. Forget politics, forget running and hiding to this island and especially forget the strange stuff that lead us here.”

“I know, I know,” Alex buried his face in his hands and rubbed vigorously before exposing it again. “You don’t like any of this and want to go back to the way things were.”

“It has gone beyond a matter of me not liking things or nostalgia. This is about Sean, this is about the Chief, this is about that weird, rich recluse on the other side of this island who control our lives even though we haven’t laid eyes on him in years,” Donna paused dramatically. Alex took note and braced himself. This wasn’t just a rant. “And it’s about the Colonel.”

Alex visibly shook. He recalled his last encounter with the Colonel. He remembered how small he felt next to him, how he should have kicked him out of the hotel to begin with. Alex felt weak and worthless over it.

"I didn’t want him here,’ Alex began.

“He attacked me,” Donna said.

“What?” Alex said, hoping he had not heard that right. He had, though. Donna was visibly upset. Rarely had alex seen her in that state. He slowly approached her and put his hand on her right shoulder. The act of tenderdess started her tears flowing even though she tried to hold them back.

“He approached me at the desk a few days ago. H tried to..assualt me.”

Alex jerked away.

“I’ll kill him!” he roared in a rage.

“No,” Donna said frantically grabbing at his arm. “What we need to do is leave. Pull up stakes and get out of here before something else goes wrong!”

Alex tried to calm down. Donna did what she could to that end.

“Please?” she said.

Alex was breathing heavily.

“Did he hurt you?”

“No, but I stabbed him with a letter opener. He was furious. He’ll want revenge. I’m sure of it.”

“Then we have to get rid of him now,” Alex said. “He can’t get away with that.”

He stepped away from Donna and began pounding his fist in his hand. Donna dried up her tears and tried to get him out of thi mindset. He was going to escaltate things to a muh worse level.

“You can’t do anything. You know the things he’s done!”

“Yes, I do,” he turned to her. ‘And he won’t hesitate to do them here to get what he wants. No one is safe here. I should have known that, but I was afraid I can’t let anyone else pay for my cowardice--especially not you.” Alex tenderly put his palm on Donna’s still wet cheek and kissed her. He bounced away towards the door Donna was taken aback.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“Find Sean, round up the guests in here. Don‘t tell them what‘s going on. And get that kid out of the water. I‘m going to get help.”

Alex slammed the door behind himself. Donna covered her outh and burst into tears again..

At the Chief’s home, there was a knock at the door. He was in deep candlelit meditation and tried to ignore. Whoever was on the other side ws pilote, but insistent. The Chief groaned and got off his knees. He blew out several candles surrounding him. The visitor at the door knocked yet again.

“All right, all right. I’m coming.” the Chief shouted. He flipped on the light switch by the doorway and then turned the knob. “What the heck is so important?”

The Chief opened the door to see a smallish Hispanic man standing there. The chief did not recognize him.

“Can I help you?” the Chief asked.

“My name is Pablo,” the man answered, “I am an emissary.” the Chief looked at him strangely.

“An emissary of what?”

Suddenly, the Colonel shoved his way through. He brushed the Chief aside and entered the living room, making sure to stake out ground in the middle of the room. The Chief was visibly angry.

“Who the heck are you?” the Chief asked.

“He is the Colonel, Uncle, and he is here to help,” came Malu’s voice from outside the doorway. He walked right passed Pablo who was standing silent sentry.

“Malu? What have you gotten yourself involved with?” the Chief asked. His eyes darted between the Colonel and Malu as if he couldn’t absorb it all.

Malu approached the Colonel and whispered to him.

“You said you weren’t going to be forceful and I could do the talking.”

“So talk. But I grow easily impatient,” the Colonel replied.

“I know,” Malu said, thinking about the large purple contusion on his arm. “Uncle, I think you should sit down.”

The Chief didn’t move an inch. Malu didn’t push the issue.

“All right, stand up. It’s your choice,’ he began, “I think the Colonel has some ideas about our current problem that will be beneficial for us to listen to.”

“What problems are those?” the Chief asked.

“This superstitious nonsense you’re forcing on our people. The Colonel here is the president of his home country. His people were under the shackles of a crippling belief just like ous. It nearly destroyed them before he helped free them. And he can help us.”

A pained look came over the Chief’s face.

“Oh, Malu, don’t you know who this is? He’s Colonel Javier Santiago, dictator of San Pedro. He’s a butcher! Why are you mixed up with him?”

“Butcher?” Malu slowly turned towards the Colonel. He stared at the large, Hispanic man for a moment, then turned back to the Chief. ‘No, that can’t be true.”

Pablo’s bottom lip quivered, but no one noticed. The Chief stepped towards Malu.

“But it is. What did he promise you?” The Chief glared at the Colonel. “What did you promise him?”

“Salvation,” Malu said before the Colonel could anser.

“No, Malu.” the Chief stepped forward and grabbed his young nephew by the upper arms. Malu flinched when he put pressure on the bruise. The chief lt go and noticed it for the first time. “And you trusted him?”

“I thought I was doing the right thing for all of us. I’m…I’m sorry, Uncle.” Tears began streaming down Malu’s face. The Chief looked directly into his eyes an knew he was being sincere. He turned to the Colonel.

“You need to leave,” he said.

“I have not gotten what I came for,” the Colonel replied.

“And you will not. Leave now,” the Chief said more forcibly.

“He’s crazy, Uncle,” Malu spoke through sobs. “He thinks he is a god.”

“Not yet, but I will be with your help.”

The Chief stormed over to the Colonel in anger.

“You will get nothing rom any of us. Take your acolyte and get out of here!”

The Colonel was nonplussed. He eyed the Chief up and down. He noticed the Colonel was not really sizing him up, but letting him know he was being threatened.

“I will require a guide. Someone whop knows the island an all of its nooksand crannies. There would be no one better than you, old man.”

A flash of realization came over Malu’s face.

“You used me to find him. But what about last night?”

“It was all a ruse, you simpleton,” the Colonel said. “Idealistic fools like you are always easy to manipulate..

Malu let out a primal scream and rushed the Colonel. Pablo made a move to grab him, but he was too far away. There was no need. The Colonel gave Malu an open hand backslap that split his lip and sent him to the floor.

“Malu!” the Chief screamed. He tried to wrestle with the Colonel. He was caught off guard, but recovered quickly and shoved the Chief away. He was thrown across the couch, which flipped over under the force and hit his head on the wall. The Chief lay there motionless, out cold. Malu caught the trickle of blood from his lip and struggled to his knees.

“Uncle!” he cried. He crawled over to the Chief sprawled limp across the overturned couch. A bruise was beginning to form on the left ide of his face. Malu could not wake him up. The Colonel wasn’t happy, either.

“Hell and damnation! This is not part of the plan!” he said.

“What did you expect?” Malu said, then turned back to tending to the Chief.

“I was expecting your uncle to be a coward and an idiot, just like you. Turns out he’s just an idiot.” The Colonel scanned the room quickly “Pablo, take the cord off that floor lamp.”

Pablo had a been standing in shocked silence, not really sure of what to do.

“Why?” he asked.

“Just do it!” the Colonel screamed.

“Si, Senor.” Pablo ddn‘t know where he found the courage to question the Colonel, but he knew not to do it again. He unplugged the lamp and ripped the cord out of the stand. He stood holding both ends, waiting for new instructions.

“Tie his hands behind his back,” the Colonel said, indicating Malu.. He stood up nervously.

“What?” Malu exclaimed.
“Now, Pablo!”

Pablo walked over to Malu and yanked his arms behind his back one after the other and wrapped the cord around them. He leaned in and whispered into Malu’s ear.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” When mslu was tied securely, Pablo held him by the arm. “”What now?” he asked.

“I wanted the old man, but that’s not going to work now and we’re running out of time. The other idiots here will be on us in no time.” The Colonel got so lose to Malu, the young man could feel his breath burning the front of his neck. “You’re going to be the next best thing. If you don’t show me everything on this island, I will kill everyone here until you do, starting with your uncle. And Malu, I’ll save you for last.”

The Colonel nudged his head towards the door. Pablo forced Malu in front of him and trotted along behind the Colonel. Malu resisted as best he could, but to no avail. The Chief never stirred.
Washed Ashore, Chapter Fourteen

"The Recluse"

If you are wealthy enough, you can buy a private island and build a huge gothic mansion on it. You can also hire a heavily armed security force to guard it full time. If you pay them well enough--and have an extensive imagination--you can envision those guards dressed in full Roman Centurion garb. Nathaniel Gideon had all these things going for him.

Alex approached the private walkway to Gideon’s mansion in both awe and amusement. The brisk walk hadn’t calmed him down any. He didn’t want it to. Despite himself, he couldn’t help but be curious about Gideon. He’d never been to Gideon’s home in California during his term in office. He’d only communicated by phone. Gideon always struck Alex as an odd duck, but he knew most of the wealthy folks who greased the wheels of the political machine were quirky folks, usually with delusions of megalomania. He never encountered one quite as weird as Gideon, though. As the mansion in the distance got larger , he started to think for the thousandth time that maybe Donna was right. This whole set up was way too strange. Perhaps he shouldn’t force his family to stay in it.

Suddenly, Alex heard a rustle in the vegetation in front of him. He stopped cold and displayed his hands in front of him so as to not look threatening.

“Okay, whoever’s there, I’m cool,” he said slowly.

A security guard emerged from the bushes. He held up a long spear and waved it just undr Alex’s chin. Alex was incredulous.

“You have got to be kidding me. What, was Ceasar’s Palace not hiring?” he quipped.

The guard waved the spear menacingly.

“Who are you and what business do you have here?” the guard asked.

“Would you put down the spear. This is a freaking resort, not Carthage.”

Slowly, the guard did so.

“All right, but bear in mind there are snipers watching,” the guard said.

“Did you say snipers? Gideon has snipers? On a family vacation spot?”

‘Mine is not to question,” the guard said. “Only to protect Mr. Gideon.”

“Are you a hired gun or a religious zealot?”

The guard was stoic.

“Oh, all right. You’re doing a great job there, Nero. Now how about lead me to Gideon. We have a few problems to discuss. Actually, we had a few problems, now that I have run into you, we have a bunch more.”

“Hands up,” the guard demanded.

“You’re joking?” Alex looked at the guy’s stony expression. ‘You’re not.”

Alex put his hands up and marched steadily with a spear nearly poking him in the back. Every conversation he had with Donna about the strangeness of this whole set up came back to haunt him. Why in the world didn’t he ever listen to her? Apparently while being deep in thought, he slowed down because the spear jabbed him.

“Easy with that thing. You’re as bad as the guy I’m after. Actually, the guy you should be after, too. You ever heard of Colonel Javier Santiago?”

“No,” came the brisk reply.

“Well, you should. He’s a lot of trouble and he’s on the island.”

The guard never said another word. Within a few minutes, they reched the iron security gates. Alex was expecting the guar to open I, but just stood there. Alex looked at him, then dropped his hands.

“Is this self serve?” he asked. The guard didn’t answer. Ale looked about and saw an intercom to his right. He ran over to it and found a call button. Nothing happened. Alex did it again.

“Come on, come on!” he said to himself impatiently.

After the thid buzz, a gruff voice came over the speaker.

“What is it?” the voice said.

“Mr. Gideon? Is that you?”

There was a long pause.

“Who is this?” the voice asked in an irritated tone. Alex stumbled over his words.

“It’s Alex Masters, sir. Governor Alex Masters. Your grantee. I know you don’t like talking to people,” Alex looked over at th4 guard, then back at the intercom. ‘Believe me, I do, but there is a serious problem here.”

Alex waited for a response, but there was none forthcoming. He flipped on the intercom again.

“Sir, Colonel Javier Santiago is on the island. The Butcher of San Pedro. He has…assaulted…someone already. Everyone is scared. We need your help. We need your security.

“Your guests are your problem, masters, not mine. I have given you enough.” the voice replied.

“A ha, so it is you,” Alex said. “You can’t just leave us to his mercy, Mr. Gideon.”

There was a long silence before the voice came back.

“We are all at the mercy of someone or something, Alex. Consider it an opportunity to build character. I always have.”

“This isn’t funny, Mr. Gideon,” Alex replied with increasing frustration.

“It wasn’t meant to be. Now go away. Everyone has to clean up their own mess.”

Alex could sense nothing else would get Gideon to talk further, but he had to try. He flipped on the intercom yet again. He noticed that guard the guard moving towards him. He had to spit out what he wanted to say in a hurry.

“Gideon, I know you feel responsibility for things! I have seen you opetate for years! I know the things you’ve done! I know the amends you’ve tried to make!” The guard gabbed him by the arm and yanked him away. The intercom was no longer on, but Alex screamed at the top of his lungs anyway, “Don’t abandon those principles now!”

He knew Gideon hadn’t hard him, but screaming took some of the sting out of being shoved down the walkway by the guard. He pointed in the direction Alex came.

“Go, and do not return.”

Alex glared at him a moment, then remembered the situation he was in. Gideon wasn’t going to be any help, but someone had to do something about the Colonel. Alex ran double time towards the village. He hoped Dona had rounded up everyone like he’d asked. He also hoped the Chief would be willing to form a posse of young men willing to go after the Colonel, wherever he might be.

When Alex got to the Chief’s home, he noticed the door wide up. That was unusual. When the Chief was in meditation, the place was loked up tight. He cautiously entered and found the Chief still unconscious on the overturned couch.

“Chief!” he yelled. Alex bent down to tend to his friend. The Chief to stir. “Chief, Chief, what happened?”

The Chief babbled groggily.

“What?” Alex asked.

“Colonel…Colonel Santiago. Took Malu. Help him….”

The Chief lost consciousness yet again.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Under the Sea Revisited

The entire prom night sequence from Back to the Future I & II synchronized.
The Gates Are Down

I watched the first few episodes of Stargate SG-1’s ninth season last year. I cannot say I am a huge fan of the show, but there has been a serious lack of decent science fiction on television since the late ‘90’s and one takes what one can get. I was curious to see how the cast changes would work. The biggie was that Richard Dean Anderson, aka Gen. Jack O’Neil, was leaving to spend more time with his family. The show would add Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Beau Bridges, and Louis Gossett, Jr. to the cast to make up for it. never mind that now--Anderson will return to the cast for at least one episode this season, so that was a short goodbye. Revamped SG-1 turned out to be a show worth watching but one I did not mind missing. When the second half of the season began last March, I did not watch and did not miss it.

The current surge in SG-1 and Atlantis searches reaching the Eye piqued my curiosity, so I tuned in for the current season. I noted last year that both SG-1 and Atlantis had aped--sometimes directly lifted--plot elements from recent Star Trek shows. One of the virtues of the Stargate franchise is that it was the un-Trek. I gathered that this was a jump the shark addition to the show. Tuning in now, I get a definite Babylon 5 feel to the show. In my humblest of opinion, that is an improvement, even though Babylon 5 has not aged well since it exited stage right in 1998. But there is a definite vibe that in the current storyline, the Orii are the Shadows and the Ancients are the Vorlons. Iit has been telegraphed a mile away the Ancients operate with a grey morality the same as the Vorlons did and the whole conflict will end with a philosophical debate the same as the Shadow War did. I would hope for a wee bit more originality, but there seem to be no such luck.

While I have been predicting the demise of Stargate since early 2004, it lingers on in an iron lung. Ratings are down this time around, so much so that at the San Diego Comic Con last weekend, Nora O’Brien, heading up the Sci Fi Channel’s exihibit, urged the crowd to watch both shows live instead of recording, Tivoing, or *gasp* tormenting them so they could be counted in the ratings. I am no expert on Tivo, but does not that machine keep track of what you record so it can determine other shows you would like? Surely some ad wizard has figured out how to tap into that database for consumer research. It is too good an opportunity to pass up. Regardless, the Stargate audiences are down 17% from last year. What I found ironic about the whole deal was that over half the 140,000+ folks who attended the comic convention last weekend probably already had both shows waiting for them on the TIVO back home. I will bet most, like me, are doing so to bide their time until Battlestar Galactica returns to the airwaves.
The Jeopardy Archive

If you have ever wondered what the first $800 clue exposed in the Double Jeopardy Round on April 3, 1987 was, look no forther. And if you actually do want to know that, you should get out more.
Pinewood Studios Ablaze

Pinewood Studios, home of the James Bond soundstages, has caught fire. The actual soundstage burning is an expensve replica of Venice used in the forthcoming Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig as James Bond. Filming on the set has already completed, but reportedly nothing is salveable for future use. This is the second time the Bond filming stages have been destroyed by fire.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Passion of the Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson was nabbed for alleged DUI Friday morning in Malibu. Los angeles County Deputies kindly altered the arrest report to omit some rather interesting drunken statements made by Gibson involving ‘the Jews starting every single war n Earth” and how they are all out to get him. Gibson has since issued an apology stating that whn he is intoxicated, he often says things he does not really believe. A lot of fans will probably accept that explanation.

Unfortunately for Gibson, alcohol does not create thoughts, it removes inhibitions. Call it low rent truth serum, if you will. Call it a case of the apple not falling too far from the tree as well, if you so desire. The interesting part about all this is how pundits are going to link Gibson’s actions with The Passion of the Christ and all the Christians who enjoyed the movie.

I have been enormously puzzled by the Christian Right’s embrace of Gibson and The Passion. While I was at Regent, Gibson gave Pat Robertson a private screening in an effort to get a glowing recommendation on the 700 Club. He succeeded. Not only did he succeed with that, but I still see The Passion being offered as a deal sweetener in packages of pop Chistian books or documentaries on TBN while flipping through channels. I know there is some little old blue haired lady appalled by Lethal Weapon and Braveheart shelling out her pension check to get this stuff anyway. Nevermind that the gratuitous violence in The Passion would be considered obscene by the same folks if it were not a film about Jesus.

Well, I am anxious to see how much longer the strange association lasts after this.
"Scalpel. Suture. Fire Extenguisher!"

Just thought I would toss this out to those familiar with my hOrribly bad luck. According to Good Morning America (of bastion of truth, that Joan Lundon) it happens in .0007% of cases--which sounds about right for me.

(I keed, I keed.)
Political Pageantry

What is a president to do when his approval ratings are sagging to the poin the would have been sacked or had to resign months ago if the US had a parliamentary form of government? The best thing to do is remember that American politics--publicly, at least--is a pageant and pose with successful participants in a more popular pageant. Ergo, Bush invited the American idol finalists to the White House for a photo op.

I could make an obvious joke about Taylor Hicks getting more votes than Bush, but I know some wiseacre will come up and say people could vote more than once for Hicks at which point I would have to speculate on Dieboldt just to play devil’s advocate and, well, the whole thing would just devolve into a mess. Just check out the goofy photo and try to determine whether American Idol or American politics is the more fake reality show. It is not Nion meets Elvis, but what is?

You may click to enlarge the photo should you deem it necessary.
The TARDIS Has a Permanent Home

The BBC has established a permanent studio for both Doctor Who and Torchwood in Cardiff, Wales. The move allows for elaborate, reusable sets and ptrops. It also indicates the BBC expects the shows to last a while, no? While I am on the subject, I have not found a reliable source beyond some message board postings, but Yvonne, who was turned into one of the Cybermen in "Dommsday," yet kept her emotions, will return for at least one episode of Torchwood. I speculated earlier that she might be an interesting but cost prohibitive addition to the cast because the story elements her similarities to Cliff Steele of the comic book Doom Patrol presented. Perhaps some of that will come to fruition.

Here are a few set photos from the upcoming Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride." There are not all great, but what can you do:You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Nowhere Man

Speaking of Lost, I have gone back to the idea of making music ideos based on the show. Fo right now, I am focusing on invidual characters. Here is a video eaturing flashback scenes from "Lockdown." Locke is torn between needed his con artist father's love and Helen's with disasterous results. The music is "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles.
Elizabeth Mitchell Joins the Cast of Lost

DHARMA Island gets a little more crowded this season. You may remember Elizabeth Mitchell from the movie Gia with Angelina Jolie or the blink and you missed it Lyon's Den (the show Rob Lowe left the West Wing in order to star in. Bad move there, Rob. maybe you and Shelly Long out to develop a sitcom together.) or from a couple of seasonw of ER heaven knows how long ago. That show is what? Thirteen years old now? None of the major original cast are even in it anymore. But I digress.

I do not know whether Ms. Mitchell will be playing a Castaway or an Other. About the only thing known about her character is that she will be a foil for Jack. if i were a relationhipper, that would mean more to me. I have not been completely absorbed by the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle mainly because since Kate is a fugitive wanted for murder, shhe logically cannot make it off the island anyway. We will see.

Here are a few photos of Elizabeth Mitchell I dug up:You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary.
Politics is Nasty

A candidate in Congo's first free election in four decades has learned the pitfalls of negative campaign ads--he has denied accusations he committed acts of cannibalism as a rebel leader. I will bet Sens. McCain and Feingold never considered that an issue to be addressed in cleaning up campaigning.
Poked and Prodded

I got back a little while ago from my pre op tests and tons of paperwork I have been poked, prodded, jabbed, and otherwise mishandled all morning all to make sure I am in good enough health for them to nearly kill me in Monday. That would be Monday morning, to be exact with an apparent play it by ear hospital admission afterwards depending on how much IV antibiotic is deemed necessary. I cannot even begin to speculate on that timetable.

I have always found these pre op deals to be a pain. It is a hurry up and wait affair in which you wind up going through at least three different administration desks and have to answer the same questions every single time. Drawing blood and such I can handle. Having to list all the previous surgeries I have had and ailments of my immediate family members is irritating. Especially this morning. I had this younger fellow who had apparently just squeezed through Florence Darlington Tech’s nursing program doing my work up. He took one look at my 5’ 2”, 95 lb self and decided to use the child’s blood pressure cuff. It was attached to one of those automatic machines that pumps up to a standard pressure and does so over and over again until it gets an accurate reading.

My eyes are about to shoot across the freaking room and ricochet off the walls by the third time it pumps up. He does not seem to notice and continues peppering me with questions about hereditary ailments in my family. When it is finally done, he looks at the results and asks me if I m on blood pressure medication because, dan it, I should be. The issue passed quickly.of course, maybe I do have a blood pressure problem. The poor guy asked me what the highest level of education I had attained was.

“Law school,” I answered.

He did not even look up, “Twelfth grade?”

“LAW SCHOOL!” I said a wee bit more forcibly.

I could not see, obviously, but I am pretty sure everyone in the vicinity had raised eyebrows at that. It would appear I still have a considerable axe to grind about the whole thing. No surprise, really. Even after all this time, I have not gotten used to my substantial loss of vision. I takes leaving the familiar surroundins for it to really strike me. I am no longer a good traveling companion. According to a number of “good” Christians at the aforementioned law school, I never was. You may draw your own conclusions.

I am all set for Monday--technically Sunday, yucky--and however long it takes afterwards. Maybe I will be less of a grump when it is all said and done.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

New Toy

If you look just below the quote section of the sidebar, you will notice a brand new addition to the Eye. I have noted that visitors will, from time to time, comment on old posts. It is often just by dumb luck that I see them while playing with my Sitemeter stats. Considering some visitors might also like to make general comments or stand at daggers drawn with each other (I know you do. I have seen it.) outside of any specific post, I have added a Chat Box for you. With it, you may make any comment you so desire or respond to anyone else’s . Be courteous to visitors and your host, please.
Before Shifting Gears

Speaking of having a hard time saying goodbye, this is more than likely my last Doctor Who video--at least for the second season. I am fresh out of ideas that would not involve retreading old ground. Heh. Judging by some of the responses on YouTube, I should not have set foot on certain ground in the first place. For every general fan video there, there is at least one Doctor/Rose relationship video. I never got too terribly involved in the will they/won’t they debate during the season. Frankly, I thought Rose’s relationship with the Tenth Doctor was forced considering the redeemer role shoe played opposite the Ninth Doctor, but I am not sure how large a camp I belong to with that belief.

Regardless, I am willing to give the TenRose kiddies what they want as a parting gift. Here is a sappy parting of the ways video featuring the final scenes from “Doomsday.” It is customary to set such a video to emo music. I must draw the line there. I cannot bring myself to sort through Coheed and Cambria or Arctic Monkeys discographies to find something appropriate. The best thing I can do is dig up a watered down rock power ballad. Frankly, they do not make them like they used to--Motley Crue, Guns ‘n Roses, Aerosmith in the ‘80’s. Those were the days. Anyhow, I chose “Hemorrhage” by Fuel. If you cannot handle melancholy, lukewarm metal, and bittersweet scenes from science fiction, slowly take a few steps back, then run off screaming into the night once you reach a safe distance.As long as I am at it, here is another featuring Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" that seems to be a mild hit:
Never Can Quite Say Goodbye

Last week I mentioned it was quite likely final curtains for Billie Piper as far as American audiences were concerned. I did not take three things into account. First, the Sci Fi Channel is rumored to begin airing the second season of Doctor Who paired with Battlestar Galactica in October. That is not carved in stone or Play-Do for that matter, but it piques the red blooded American boys’ interests nonetheless. Second, I get randomly pointed to new stashes of celebrity photos all the time. Finally, I am quite fond of Ms. Piper myself. Ergo, I just cannot let the girl go just yet.

Here are a few new photos that do not seem to be widely floating about the internets. Nothing nude, naked, or in a bikini, she does show off her figure quite well: You may click to enlarge any photo should you deem it necessary
Landis Fails Drug Test

Tour de France champion Floyd Landis has tested positive for high testoterone levels. He has requested the B sample tested to determine whether there is either a natural explanation or an error with the first results. I cannot imagine an American thinking he can get away with using steroids in a French race considering the accusations leveled against Lance Armstrong last year. In some ways i suspect this is political, and I would be sorely disappointed to find out otherwise especially after floyd's startling comeback.

Maybe he just has an extraordinarily large cajones?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Randy Scouse Git

No one was really clamoring for a music video based on "Love & Monsters." I doubt anyone wanted said video to be set to an obscure song by the Pe Fab Four, aka the Monkees, either, but I never let such things stop me. Verily, said video is an abomination in the eyes of all that is good and holy. My there be mercy upon my soul.
Goodbye, Mr. Keating

I made a lot of sacrifices in order to go to law school. I do not mean just financially, although that is significant. My personal life and especially my health suffered because of my single minded drive. You know the idea that no one lays on their deathbed and thinks, “I wish I had spent more time at the office?” A lot of folks felt the need to wag their fingers in my face and tell me that might be me one day. Most did not, though and I give them credit for recognizing why I was doing what I was doing. I will even give them that even though my cynical nature suspects they really just did not give a rat’s behind what road I was traveling down in the first place.

I have spent a lot of time over the last two years wondering that maybe--just maybe--if I had done something else, I would not be in the spot I am in now. Intellectually, that is a worthless pastime. In any other scenario, I could have been hit by a bus on the second day of college and none of it would matter. What have beens are notoriously unreliable because the happiness is unpredictable and the sorrow is unimaginable. Best not to dwell on it. Note I said “intellectually.” The emotional side of me could not care less what the intellect thinks is a hunky dory idea. So I dwell on it, whether I want to or not. It is often despairing.

Every now and then, a little light shines. This morning, it was this article written by an English Literature professor at a liberal arts college somewhere in the Midwest. You see, the part of my that is bored with politics wishes I had studied something other than political science. In college. Part of me wishes I had studied something I could have gotten a satisfying job with upon graduation--like journalism. I have balked at that one enough not to seriously be bothered with longing for that career anymore. A part of me wishes I had studied history which would not have put me in any better position now than political science has. Another part of me--and for some odd reason, this is a new desire--studying English Literature sounds like a good idea. I think that has happened because I have often had twinges of wanting to be a writer whether I had any real talent at it or not. I was not then and am not now adventurous enough to stake my life on the written word. But my internal debate over that is intellectual versus emotional yet again and I cannot stop thinking about the virtues of it as opposed to the path I took.

Then along comes exactly what I needed to hear. This pseudonymous professor wrote about talking to his undergraduate students about why they chose to major in English. He ties it in to the classic movie Dead Poets Society, a film I am fond of, although it did not prompt me to study English. I realize Dead Poets Society is idealized to the point of melodrama. It is not true that there lies within all of us a Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Yeats, Wilde, or any other writer or artists whose work will be immortal. Most of us could not pen an episode of Will and Grace for that matter. What happens when you have gone too far down that road and finally realize it? To put it bluntly, there ain’t nothing wrong with being an accountant or selling real estate. You see, those are the people that make the world spin.

The author’s students had a lot of answers for him ranging from a love of books in general to salving the wounds of social alienation to out and out rebellion. To major in literature or art is to rebel against the humdrumness of modern life and its expectations no doubt. However, as the author points out, teaching English Literature is a job and one in which you have to srve certain norms from accepted interpretations to kowtowing to administration officials. In short, you have to go along to get along which destroys any of the above appeals listed. Once you reach the end, you are so cynical about the process, you are likely to look down in utter contempt at the idealism of the students who currently think as you once did. I believe, given my personality, it would not have taken that long for me to reach that point.

Hence I have drawn the conclusion that I did the right thing by pursuing a career in law despite any anger or frustration I feel about it now. I freely admit my personality changed completely after waking up more than half blind with my guts rotting out from under me, but if someone waved a magic wand and fixed it all right now, I would head right back to the path I was on in May 2004. (Do not ask why I have not anyway. Just do not.) Law appealed to my dark view of humanity as craven people doing craven things. That gave me a certain emotional satisfaction in justifying my thoughts on the issue. But at the same time, I enjoyed reading, writing, and studying history for its own reasons outside of finding career oriented satisfaction. They filled another void. No, I did not need to be a history or English teacher--I needed to be a lawyer who was a voracious reader and an amatuer history buff. That was me. This article has helped me come to better terms with that after wrestling with the issue for so long, I do not even recall when I began it. I am still not certain where everything fits in my life, but I now at least know where one thing does not.
Rodrgio Santoro Joins the Cast of Lost

The Brazillian star will be added to the cast in the coming season. Character details are being kept under wraps as to whether he is an Oceanic 815 survivor or one of the Others. Most think he will play a Lostaway, but since word has emerged that the characters of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer will remain captured for a while and interact with Others we have not seen before, it remains a possibility he will be Kate's foil in the same manner a new female cast member will be Jack's.

Santoro will play Emperor Xerxes next year in an adaption of Frank Millr's historical graphic novel, 300, which I was quite fondd of back in the day. Here's a photo of him in character:I am looking foward to see that movie hit the big screen as well. If it is anything like the source material, it will put Gladiator to shame.
Israel Wants NATO Peacekeeping Force

I do not blame them considering the United Nation's track record versus NATO's. However, I see the point of this editorial as well. Namely, the force would have to exclude the United states for obvious reasons, which mean the NATO force would be exclusively European. Considering Europe's lukewarm opposition to terrorism and its benign neglect of Israel to appease oil producing Muslim countries to which it is highly dependent, that is not going to happen.

Khofi Annan has gone on the record calling for a ceasefire in the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict and said any peace plan has to involve Iran and Syria. I do not know what planet he is living on, but if he is serious, then that is just further proof the UN is an atrocious idea. If you have to consider all countries an equal party regardless of their behavior, then there are no general moral principles to work with and we need to turn the UN building into high priced condominiums such it can be put to better use.

Let Israel fight on. They want a one mile, Hezbollah free buffer zone in the same way we wanted an Al Qeada free Afghanistan. I do not see one lick of difference in the morality and just cause of the two conflicts.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Early Word on Torchwood

The Telegraph has an early review of the Doctor Who spin off, Torchwood, describing it as "Dark, wild, and sexy." In addition, The Sun has a photo of the first critter Torchwood encounters--a Weevil. Bear in mind The Telegraph is reliable while even the most indescriminate of parakeets refuse to poop on The Sun, so take from this what you will.
Dream On

Compilation videos seem to be more popular--t least as far as Doctor Who goes--on YouTube. I can go with the flow. Here is a season two retrospective set to "Dream On" by Aerosmith.UPDATE: Just noticed the typo on the title card. Mea culpa if it completely ruins the experience for you.
Get Batman on This Right Away

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Seattle is in the midst of a crime spree--committed by clowns. The Suicide Capital of North America is not the only city to have such a problem. so has San Fransisco, Tuscon, Manchester, England, and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Why in the world does it have to be clowns? They are creepy enough as it is.

Can't sleep, clown will rob me.
Can't sleep, clown will rob me.
Can't sleep, clown will rob me.

Or even better: "Giver the bag to Bozo, drop the gun, and put your hands in the air!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Surgery Scheduled

I got back from my surgery consultation a little while ago and have had time to mull things over. First of all, the surgery itself is scheduled for Monday morning. My surgeon is swamped the rest of this week. On Friday morning I will go to the hospital for all the pre op lab work, EKG, and all that good stuff. It should all make lovely bookends for the weekend. For interested parties who may eventually find their way here through Google once I tab this post on the sidebar, I will go into the gory details below.

It is not a wise idea to try sewing the hole up. To do so would form more scar tissue which caused this whole mess in the first place. There is also a fear stretching the abdomen in clamping it back together might have an effect on the colostomy. That is what we call in the vernacular an “added complication.” Anyway, the operation will involve being cut open and having a piece mesh sewed on to cover the hole. Whenever a foreign object like that is placed in the body, there is an increased risk of infection, so I am going to be hospitalized for an as yet unspecified amount of time for IV antibiotics.

My first thought was how the procedure sounds like jury rigging. Great, MacGyver going to repair my abdomen. This is actually a fairly common and reliable solution, so here we go. Infection seems to be the biggest concern and it looks like every precaution has been taken for it. I have some personal thoughts on the issue, but I will save them for later. For now, that is the procedural stuff. The rest can wait for another time.
Who Hates Whom in the Middle East?

Today's Slate has an interactive map detailing the ins and outs of foreign relations within the Middle East. It is a quick overview without much detail, but it is a pretty good scorecard to follow the news with sans any talking head commentary to muddy the waters. Political spin is a poor substitute for the academic take I used to get on suh things back in college.

But I still have a couple of bones with it. First it does not include the Palestinians, which is a bit of a cop out. I understand their status is controversial, but so are relations among many of the other players. Second, I am somewhat puzzled by the inclusion of the European union as Israeli allies. I would put it in the “Complicated” category. While the EU has not taken any strong stance against Israel, it has made clear its alliance with the Palestinians. The EU gave billions to Yassir Arafat for use in building up the Palestinian Authority--to which he promptly used to fund terrorist acts and embezzle for his own personal use. Surely the EU knew Mr. Nobel Peace Prize, aka The world’s Most Successful Terrorist, was doing that. Heck, France and Germany have such large Muslim blocks living there, they practically have to take at least a cool stance towards Israel. Not to mention Munich appears to be the European center for terror planning.

I also noted on the Iraq/Israeli relations blurb that the Iraqi Parliament has taken a stand against Israel and that is a necessary step for the new government to gain credibility with its neighbors. One step forward, two steps back, no?
Rachel Blake at Comic Con

Someone who attended the Lost panel at the San Diego Comic Con recorded the Lost Experience's Rachel Blake "crashing" the panel to rant about the Hanso Foundation. It is camcorder video and therefore a little shaky, plus the audio is not perfect, but you can follow the exchange between Blake and executive producer Damon Lindelof pretty well. The crowd really gets into it as soon as they realize what is going on.
Oh, the Humanity!

According to Tehnorati, the top blog search terms right now involve MySpace being down. Apparently, folks need to find outher bloggers to share their pain and withdrawal with. The blackout which occurred in Los Angeles a few days ago damaged some of the servers housing profiles, music, and the like. The site has been offline while Rupert Murdoch takes time out of his busy schedule keeping the United Kingdom from going to the euro (how's that for an out of place reference?) to direct his minions to repair things, lest emo kids all across the country cut themselves even more.
Couric Out of Context

Access Hollywood has corrected its previous accusation that incoming CBS news anchor Katie Couric would refuse to report from a war zone. They claim Couric's comments were taken out of context and misrepresented her stance on the subject. Since I critiqued her a few days ago for her statements, I offer up the correction. I do not really know if there was an error or if Couric suddenly realized $ 15 million a year buys CBS more than she bargained for, but--just this once--I will put my cynical old heart aside and give her the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

School's Out Forever

Here is my video featuring the rowdier bits of "School Reunion" set to "School's Out" by Alice Cooper.
Battlestar Galactica at the Comic Con

Ronald D. Moore, executive producer of Battlestar Galactica (the second best reason to own a television) and my favorite star trek, Deep Space Nine, also ran a panel on the upcoming third season of BSG, set to begin in October. No naked Cylons cavorted about interrupting the panel as they do every so often on the show, but there was some interesting stuff there to hold one’s attention nonetheless. Be forewarned: here there be spoilers.

There will be a ten episode story arc based mostly on a Cylon Base Star. It will finally flesh out the Cylon motivation for their renewed war against the humans. As many fans have argued so far, there is no compelling reason--when taking the Just War Theory into account--to consider the Cylons to be bad guys. Baltar will spend quite a few episodes on the Base Star while still serving as the puppet president of New Caprica. Rumors are he will pledge allegiance to the Cylon cause (I guess he is fluent in the Just War theory himself) but that is still rumor. One of the 12 Cylon models will be completely destroyed, never to be seen again. It is a model we have already seen before. Smart money is on Lucy Lawless’ character as she has signed on for only half the season. There is another human who has been held prisoner for three years on th Base star. He blames Adama for his capture and that will cause some added tension.

The people of New Caprica will begin a guerilla war against the Cylons and it will cost them dearly. You will note in the preview trailer I have posted below that Tigh loses an eye, but another main character will die. Most speculate it will be Gaeta, Helo, or Tyrol. Whatever divisions have developed between Adama/Roslin and Apollo/Kara will be be fleshed out. Check out the trailer for a better view of what is to come:
The San Diego Comic Con

Currently, the largest annual comic book convention is going on in San Diego. In recent years, the Comic con international has become less of the comics trade market and meet and greet with creators it used to be and more splintered into a geek haven. Nowadays, there are sections not just for comics, but movies, toys, games, animation, and television shows. Anyone who has something in the comics/science fiction/fantasy/gaming genre has to have a presence there.

Yesterday executive producer Damon Lindelof hosted a Lost panel hyping the upcoming third season. The panel also featured Jorge Garcia (Hurley) and Daniel Dae Kim (Jin). Lindelof came through with some juicy tidbits, including the revelation that the Smoke Monster is not Nan technology, time may be passing differently outside the island than on it, and the island has has a long history of inhabitants, as the three toed statue proves. Perhaps my Lemuria theory still has some merit. Lindelof also said the cliffhanger would be a jaw dropping moment that either fans would love or think was a jump the shark moment.

The cool part was the panel was “interrupted” by Rachel Blake, the character behind the Lost Experience scavenger hunt going on all summer. She took the microphone and ranted about unethical experiments the Hanso Foundation were performing at various locations around the world. She blasted the Lost creators for promoting the foundation. As she was being dragged off by “security,” she shouted out the URL of a new website in the scavenger hunt. I have not played with it much yet, but here it is if you wish to do so.

The stunt reminded me of Marvel’s promotion of its Mutant Registration Act storyline in 1988. The story ran primarily through the X-Men titles, but trickled into others. The idea was the Mutant hysteria was reaching a fever pitch so the government was planning to require known mutants to register as such. At the heroes Con in Charlotte that year, an actor pulled the same stunt, ranting in an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers way that mutants walked among us. It was pretty cool to witness then. I would like to have seen Rachel do her thing. She’s purrty, you know.

I always wanted to go to the convention one day. It is insanely crowded, but it is like making a pilgrimage to Mecca for serious comic book collectors. I was sorely tempted to buy a plane ticket and go in the summer of 2003 I talked myself out of it because I had another year of law school to go before I had to set up housekeeping, study for the bar,, and find a job all on my own dime. If I had known my life was going to fall apart a year later, I would have gne in a heartbeat and seen and done it all. Sometimes I think I would have been better off listening to the music only I can hear rather than following such a rigid line. It is pretty much too late to worry about that now, I suppose.
Godzilla in the Cloud

I am sure there is a "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" joke I could make here, but I am currently drawing a blank and/or losing my edge. Is this natural or a Photoshop?You can click to enlarge for a better look if you so desire.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Welcome to Torchwood

The BBC has been virtually leak proof regarding its new Doctor Who spinoff, Torchwood. It may not really matter since the BBC is notorious for misdirection, bamboozlement, and flat out lying about its upcoming projects in the first place. The only thing that is known for certain is the show will launch somewhere around Halloween. I plan to sample at least the first episode or two. The premise of the show in which an ultra secret government group steals any alien technology it finds for the UK government’s use sounds suspiciously like the X-Files in reverse. I have expressed an unabashed affection for the X-Files to the point I cannot watch shows like Bones which are so similar, yet pale in comparison. I think there is a decent Torchwood may fall into that category. But Lost will be in a 13 week hiatus around about the point Torchwood begins its 13 episode run. At least there will be a genre show besides Battlestar Galactica I can either deconstruct or kvetch about in the meantime. It is a perfect fit.

I already have a nitpick or two. The first one harkens back to my X-Files comparison. Russell T. Davies, who created the show and penned the pilot, has already tried an X-Files homage with Doctor Who‘s “Love & Monsters.” More specifically, the episode tried to mimic the Humor of “Jose Chung’s From outer Space,” “Bad Blood,” and “Post Modern Prometheus” with disastrous results. I gave the installment my lowest rating of any episode of any show I have review in the last two years. If Torchwood does not grab its own identity quickly, it will not grab me.

Second, I think they are missing an opportunity by not keeping Yvonne as a character. She was the head honcho in Torchwoood’s London office before being upgraded to a Cyberman in ‘Doomsday.” Evidently whatever psychic training Torchwood members claim to have allowed her to retain remnants of her personality--at least enough to fight back. Her fate has not been addressed. Perhaps since the machinery that converted her came across the Void, she feel in with the rest of the Cybermen or she has been disposed of some other way, but she could have been a nifty element. Her situation reminds me of a character in DC Comics’ Doom Patroll. Cliff Steele was a star athlete severely injured in a car accident and had his brain implanted in a robot body in order to survive. He has remained severely depressed and struggles to hold on to his humanity. Though heroic, his teammates often fear he will go over the edge at any time. Such a dynamic would have been interesting to see on television. Too expensive, one assumes.

Finally, while I liked John Barrowman’s portrayal of Capt. Jack Harkness in his five episodes of Doctor Who‘s first season, the seual politics grew tiresome. I understand davies is famous for exploring gay and bisexual themes in a lot of his writing, but a lot of Jack’s antics were just in your face for the sake of being there.The character is going to take a darker turn in Torchwood. He has joined the group hoping the Doctor will return to the dimensional rift created in “The Unquiet Dead” to efuel the TARDIS. There is supposedly some deep seeded reason unknown to the audience why Jack needs to reunite with the Doctor. Since jack is slated to appear in at least one episode of Doctor Who‘s third seasonn, the matter likely will not be resolved until then. Odds are there is some resentment there for being stranded on the Game Station in the far future.

A few things are already known about some early episodes. Here there be spoilers, so beware. The first episode is “Flotsam and Jetsam.” It sets up Jack’s motivation for joining torchwood which I outlined above. Not too much is known about the second episode, “New Girl,” although it is rumored to established the connection between a current character and her ancestor in “The unquiet Dead.” Other episodes, like “The ghosts Machine,’ in which a team finds a device that manipulates emotions and “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” about an alien spy, sound like typical science fiction shenanigans. Two “old friends,” as the writer has termed them, will show up in a two parter midseason. No clue about who those might be, but some think Sarah Jane Smith and K9. Others suspect classic Who villains. I dunno, but they promise fans will ‘go wild.” Yes, but will I?