Archive for the 'Getting creative' Category
I’ve never made any mystery of the fact I’m a nerd and/or a geek (depending on the circumstances, the subject/topic and the point of view of anyone observing me; I have never, however, ever been a dork…let’s get that straight).
Despite this, I try not to let it hang out too much here, since most readers coming here probably aren’t all that nerdy or nerd-subject-sympathetic. To expound nerdily too often here would kind of be like a porn star whipping out his nine- or ten-inch erect dick frequently—under the right conditions, it makes perfect sense, but in most circumstances, it would just be rude.
However, I broke up violently with Facebook last year, and thus no longer have an account there, so I cannot comment at this thread on Facebook about who would win in a fight between Magneto and Darth Vader. Since I cannot comment there, I will discuss this all-important issue here until I have it out of my system. Feel free to leave now if you wish. If you are a nerd or geek, however, please read on and then respond in the comments.
Darth Vader vs. Magneto
General characteristics of the combatants:
Magneto – Control over magnetism. Can lift and manipulate ferrous metals and objects containing significant concentrations of ferrous metals. Has a helmet that blocks psychic powers. He’s a genius, strategically and scientifically. Has incorporated metal fibers in costume so that he can levitate and fly.
Darth Vader – Control over the dark side of the Force allows him to employ telekinesis, read surface thoughts and emotions of others, increase strength and agility, employ limited precognition, mentally influence the actions of others at times and possibly generate “Force lightning.” Also, very skilled in hand-to-hand combat, particularly with the lightsaber.
Analysis of combat scenarios:
Much was made in the Facebook thread I linked to above about how much of Darth Vader’s body is cybernetic…that he is “more machine now than man” as Obi-Wan Kenobi put it. I think that’s probably overstating the state of his body and might be somewhat metaphorical as well, but let’s assume that much of Darth Vader’s body is now metallic, and utilizing steel or some other ferrous metal.
In that case, Darth Vader is at a serious disadvantage. Magneto could literally twist the metallic parts of Vader’s body and cripple or kill him in seconds. Given his powers, Magneto could sense the metal in Vader’s body and know of that vulnerability, whereas Vader would have no way to know of Magneto’s powers. Even if Vader were trying to peer into Magneto’s mind, psychic powers via the Force don’t allow literal mind-reading, and Magneto’s helmet protects him from psychic intrusions.
That said, let’s not forget that before his body parts had to be replaced, Vader (when he was still Anakin Skywalker) survived for quite some time after having both legs severed and falling into molten lava. Likely he was in that predicament for hours before he was rescued by Darth Sidious, and given that ability to endure pain and injury, it is possible that Vader could survive an assault on the metallic parts of his body long enough to telekinetically crush a vital organ in Magento’s body or slice him in half with a lightsaber. Even doing a “force choke” by squeezing Magneto’s windpipe telekinetically would seriously inhibit Magneto’s ability to concentrate and use his magnetic powers.
So, a significant edge goes to Magneto in this scenario, though his victory isn’t assured. Much depends of who attacks first and with how much vigor.
But there are serious flaws with even believing this scenario would be accurate. Why would Vader’s cybernetic body parts have any significant amount of metal or perhaps even any metal at all? Given the use of hyperspace travel, blasters and other high-tech in the Star Wars universe, it seems far more likely that to prevent being weighed down and to provide maximum longevity and flexibility of the cybernetic components, they would be made of polymers, hardened ceramics or even more exotic materials. Even with 21st-century Earth technology, we’re rapidly moving beyond metal in prosthetics and such. Also, remember that in Star Wars major healing is handled through bacta tanks, which use a healing liquid suspension rather than surgical or medicinal intervention, and lightsabers are based on crystalline technology. The use of exotic materials is widespread.
Also, Darth Vader’s armor (and that of the stormtroopers he commands) is clearly not metallic. This also suggests it is unlikely that his internal parts are metallic. Even his lightsaber probably uses little, if any, metal. Given the size of blaster rifles and the ease with which they are hefted, I suspect they don’t even use metal or use very little.
Yes, droids are metallic, and are often restrained or retrieved magnetically. But that’s a control issue. They are already mechanical, so carrying extra weight and having more rigidity isn’t as much a problem as with a living creature. And in order to move them around easier and to keep them from escaping your control, you’d want them to be manipulable by magnetic forces.
So, Vader probably isn’t metallic. Which means Magneto, in a best-case scenario, can only fling metallic objects at Vader. Vader will, of course, bat them away with the power of the Force or slice them to ribbons with his lightsaber.
Some have suggested that Magneto’s helmet will protect him from Force-choking and other telekinetic attacks, but this is ridiculous. The helmet is designed to block telepathic and mind control powers…things that reach into the psyche (not that the Force could influence his mind directly anyway, as it can only do that to the “weak-minded”). Telekinesis is the physical manipulation of objects with the power of the mind. And even if the helmet kept Vader from using a Force-choke somehow, Vader could drop a ton of debris on Magneto or fling him into a wall until he was pulp. Assuming, of course, he didn’t just slice him in half with the lightsaber. Remember, Vader is going to surpass Magneto for physical strength, endurance, speed and agility thanks to his ability to tap the Force.
So, chances are that Magneto is toast.
I had a cynical (though no less accurate for it) post a little over a week ago with a “new” Lord’s Prayer (here).
In all fairness, since this blog started out being focused on spiritual and faith musings, let’s get spiritual today. Hell, let me get annoyingly artistic, too, with my poetic turn on the Lord’s Prayer…a haiku version I wrote more than a dozen years ago.
Lord’s Prayer – Haiku Version
Oh God our Father
Who lives and reigns from heaven
Holy is Your name
Let Your kingdom come
May Your sovereign will be done
In earth and heaven
Give us bread of life
Dwell not on our sinfulness
Help us to forgive
Divert us from sin
Help us resist temptation
As only You can
Power and glory
Honor and all Creation
Are Yours forever
This is going to be a very long post, as I review the new “Avengers” movie and as I look at the larger recent Marvel Comics movie franchise and where it might be going…
Marvel’s The Avengers Movie Review
Superhero geeks, comic book nerds, action movie aficionados and Robert Downey Jr. groupies…
Oh, it’s very bad-ass; don’t get me wrong. But it’s not THE BEST of the genre by any means.
In fact, for emotional gravity, dramatic weight, geek appeal, dialogue, plotting and action chops all together as a well-mixed stew, I’d put it after Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Spider-Man 2. Then again, those movies were able to focus on a single protagonist character, so that doesn’t make them better; just more focused and weighty. The Avengers, though, beats all of them for sheer spectacle and action (though it offers more than just that).
However, while I don’t think it’s the very best superhero movie ever made, it is the best live-action superhero team movie of all time. Yes, I know there’s not a lot of competition on that front (both Fantastic Four movies stunk, The Watchmen was excellent but not epic like The Avengers, and Mystery Men, while a fantastic movie, is a parody of the superhero team genre. X-Men as a trilogy was excellent…despite the fact that many people revile the final installment…but even all three movies together don’t pack as much intricacy and density as this first Avengers movie all on its own). Frankly, I’m not sure anything can beat The Avengers as a superhero team movie any time soon except perhaps one of the two expected sequels.
Now, I’m going to tell you as much as I can here without giving away any spoilers; I’ll warn you before I get to the things that might ruin surprises for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet but plan to.
If you’re not a comic book or superhero movie person, you may or may not know that there have been several previous Marvel Comics films that led up to this film and that have direct influence on the various things that come together to make the attempted takeover of Earth in the film come about. Those would be the two Iron Man movies so far (with at least one more on the horizon), Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and The Incredible Hulk (which featured Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, a role played by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers and apparently in an upcoming trilogy of Hulk movies). The main villain of The Avengers is Loki, who was also the villain in Thor. In roles as protagonists along with the superheroes who had their own movies are Col. Nick Fury (who appeared in some way in most of the previous films in bit roles), Black Widow (who appeared in Iron Man 2) and Hawkeye (who had never appeared before now in any of the films).
The movie has snappy plotting and dialogue, which owes much to the vaunted skills of director and writer Joss Whedon. There is frequent and intense action while also plenty of calmer moments of conversation, exposition, drama and comedy. We manage in a little under 2.5 hours to get not only superheroes beating up on their enemies, but also beating up on each other (for very plausible reasons) and having time for characterization as each faces personal crises, self-doubt, revelation and growth. There is bonding between them as well as tension. There are moments of heroism, villainy and also many gray areas in terms of morality.
There are some of the usual “convenient moments” as in most any film like this, where things serendipitously come together to resolve an otherwise unsolvable dilemma (such as defeating the entire enemy army at the end), there is an “easy” solution to breaking mind control, and various things are left out in the narrative (like how Bruce Banner makes it to a certain location in a timely fashion or even knows where to arrive). But overall, this movie is as believable as a movie can be that involves superheroes, and the reactions of civilians caught in the crossfire, as well as attitudes by various people in authority who aren’t superpowered, make sense in the context of things.
The movie manages to convey a sense of great destruction and death, while also not making it so grim and direct as to lose its PG-13 rating and more mass appeal for youth of many ages in addition to adults.
Robert Downey Jr., as usual, does a tremendous job with the charming, brilliant and arrogant Tony Stark/Iron Man. Scarlett Johansson brings much more to the role of Natasha Romanov/Black Widow here than she was able to do in Iron Man 2 and combines professional, sympathetic and dangerous in a fantastic way while also exuding a surprisingly mellow sexiness despite her attire, which might suggest something more overt. Mark Ruffalo surprises almost all of us fans who were pissed at Edward Norton being shoved aside by the producers and turns in a great Bruce Banner/Hulk. Chris Evans does much the same for Captain America here as he did in his solo turn with the character, but adds a grim/weary undertone to the Boy Scout image, which makes sense given the man has basically missed out on the previous 70 years after being frozen accidentally in the 1940s and is a man out of his natural time. Chris Hemsworth doesn’t do anything new with Thor compared to his previous time playing the part, which left me underwhelmed the first time, but at least he does it solidly and consistently. Jeremy Renner makes for an interesting Clint Barton/Hawkeye; I don’t really have much love for the character, but he does provide an interesting coldness in his personality though somehow not heartless. Samuel L. Jackson makes for a fine Nick Fury, combining tough, sneaky, just and ruthless in an interesting balance.
At no point does the movie flag or really stumble. Any complaints are minor nits. In a year full of promise for fantasy/sci-fi and related genres (Christopher Nolan’s third and apparently final Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises; the Spider-Man reboot The Amazing Spider-Man; the first of two movies that combined will tell the tale in the novel The Hobbit, and also possibly the remake of Total Recall, the dark-themed Snow White and the Hunstman and American history/undead menace mash-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), this is a tough movie to follow.
What Has Come Before
Just a quick note in this section: I think Marvel Comics’ has done a great job overall with its heroes in recent years (in productions it’s overseen directly and in ones where the characters were simply licensed out), including in movies that are unrelated to The Avengers. Sure, Ghost Rider was pretty bad and the sequel’s probably worse; the Fantastic Four movies, as noted earlier, were awful; the original Spider-Man trilogy (to be “erased” historically, I guess, with the reboot this summer) ended clunkily with very, very mixed third movie but was otherwise excellent; and X-Men had a shaky finish to its trilogy as did Spider-Man (though I didn’t find the third X-Men film all that bad, myself) but remains strong overall. The most recent treatment of The Punisher wasn’t too bad, though the previous attempt sucked. The first attempt at doing the Hulk with Ang Lee’s movie was an entertaining mess that left true fans unsatisfied but wasn’t a total loss. The Blade movies were ridiculous and overwrought on many levels, but undeniably fun action flicks. The X-Men follow-ups were mixed: X-Men: First Class was very strong but X-Men Origins: Wolverine was highly uneven (but, like the Ang Lee Hulk movie, had definite entertainment value from an action standpoint at least).
I haven’t seen The Incredible Hulk yet (though plan to later this weekend), so I can’t comment on that. Captain America had its cheesy aspects, and the character has never much appealed to me in general, but was pretty well done as a movie, actually. Thor was a mixed bag, but at least mostly entertaining despite not doing a very good job of giving Thor’s personal redemption dramatic weight or true logic. And the Iron Man movies…well, while the second one was noticeable less good than the first, both were very strong indeed.
Here there will be some spoilers, as I need to reference things from The Avengers movie (including the after-the-credits surprise teaser for the next movie) and the other films that led up to it (which you may or may not have seen).
What does the future hold? Well, for one thing, apparently Mark Ruffalo has been signed not only to potentially play Bruce Banner/the Hulk for two more Avengers movies but also for a trilogy of Hulk movies. This is interesting, because in a certain sense, it almost ignores The Incredible Hulk, in which Edward Norton did such a good job (I know, I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s fucking Edward Norton; of course he must have done great). I get the sense from a reference or two in the Avengers movies that they still include The Incredible Hulk and the events therein as part of the overall movie canon and we’re just going to ignore the fact that Bruce Banner looks so different. I’m not going to stress over it; Mark Ruffalo did do a very good job in the role in The Avengers; I look forward to his future work with regard to the Hulk.
There is also a third Iron Man-related movie and a second Thor movie, both due out in 2013. Plot details for both are still under wraps and I’ve seen no truly credible leaks so far. I have heard rumors that Iron Man 3 will feature the Mandarin as the villain (one of Tony Stark’s most formidable foes in the comic books) but have also heard rumors it will use the recent “Extremis” storyline from the comic books. Of course, it’s entirely possible it could feature both, as the Mandarin might end up being more of schemer/leader in the movie rather than a directly combative villain fighting it out with Iron Man. Supposedly, Captain America 2 will come out in 2014. Almost certainly, with a third Iron Man on the way and a three-picture signing for Mark Ruffalo to do Hulk stuff solo, I imagine both Captain America and Thor will get trilogies when all is said and done. I’m fairly certain the Spider-Man reboot will also end up being a trilogy, though it has no direct relation to any of the other Marvel movies that are tied to the Avengers, just as X-Men seems to occupy a separate reality. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spider-Man in a future Avengers movie; there is a history of the character being in the team at times in the comic books and…well, let me get to wild speculation in a moment as to other reasons it feels right to have Spidey show up eventually.
Anyway, with these Avengers-related solo movies all having elements that tied directly to the movie The Avengers, from Loki to the Tesseract to the super-soldier serum (which plays a part in The Incredible Hulk in addition to being the compound that makes Steve Rogers into Captain America back in World War II…before he end up frozen and thawed out in modern day to be part of the Avengers)…plus things like the after-credit bonus scenes that show things related to “the Avengers initiative” and Nick Fury’s desire to form a superhero team…well, one can only imagine there will continue to be crossover stuff in at least some of the future solo films with relation to the future Avengers sequels.
So, what might happen?
First off, and here’s where I get into big spoiler territory…
…you did hear that, right?
I’m about to give away the bonus teaser scene after The Avengers’ credits. It shows who will likely be the next villain in that series.
You’re still here?
Just make sure you want to know before I say…
Now, those who aren’t comic book geeks may not know who Thanos is. But just as Thor and Loki are “gods,” so too is Thanos, sort of. (In Thor’s movie, the Norse gods of Asgard are actually occupants of a planet in either a distant part of the galaxy connected to our world through a portal or a planet in another dimension linked to our own. Rather than being true gods, they are more accurately very strong, very resilient, long-lived “immortals” whose magic is more an expression of harnessing a specific sort of energy in a science fiction way but with a culture and style that is more mythical and in some ways archaic-seeming. They are, essentially, a very different race that looks like us rather than actual supernatural divinities.)
Where the hell was I?
Oh, yeah, Thanos.
Anyway, as the after-credit sequence shows, apparently Thanos is behind the invading extraterrestrial army in The Avengers and he looks like he’s very happy at the prospect of laying the hurt down in the next movie. Almost certainly, he will be the main villain. He’s godlike in terms of his personal power, though its source is more science-like than mystical, and he’s obsessed with death. Mastering it, avoiding it himself, and dealing it out in massive doses to other species throughout the universe. He’s essentially Marvel’s version of the DC Comics character Darkseid.
It’s possible that Thanos won’t appear until the third Avengers-related movie, but I doubt they will wait that long since they’ve already shown us his face.
So, now for wild speculation time.
I have no idea what Thor 2 holds, though I hope it doesn’t include a return visit of Loki. He’s a fine villain and all, but much like the X-Men movies, it will probably hurt if you keep bringing in the same person (Magneto in that series) as the main baddie honcho. At least with the X-Men, you can get away with it more because of his pro-mutant and anti-human agenda, but Loki will get old fast if they keep using him. Let’s not beat the half-brother conflict between him and Thor to death. I suspect that the second Thor movie will somehow involve an effort to rebuild the Bifrost, which is the bridge that linked Asgard to Earth and to several other places in the universe or extradimensionally or whatever. Perhaps we’ll see some Thanos-related baddies and maybe a hint of Thanos in an effort to prevent that from happening so that Asgard won’t be able to aid Earth in the coming battle. In any case, I’m not really familiar with Thor’s list of enemies overall, and with Loki having been used twice now and the Destroyer being used in the first Thor movie, too…well, we might be getting a bit thin on easily recognizable foes for what I would argue is the weakest series in the overall franchise. Sorry, Thor, but you’re just not that engaging overall. Marvel should have stuck to just one movie there (my hopes for the Captain America franchise aren’t much better).
Not knowing how Iron Man 3 is shaping up plot-wise, I’m going to go with a roll of the dice that it will indeed combine some plotting of the Mandarin and the “Extremis” storyline. I’ve heard rumors that the idea has always been to make Mandarin more of a terrorist leader than a powered bad guy (in the comics, he had ten rings on his fingers that were part of the engine of an alien starship and they granted him a wide array of powers). In the recent “Extremis” storyline for Iron Man in the comics, a guy gets a big dose of some major nanotechnology that essentially makes him a nearly invulnerable guy who can incinerate people, exhibit super-strength and more. He basically hands Iron Man his ass and Tony Stark, both to recover from his injuries and to defeat Extremis, undergoes the very same nanotechnological treatment. He ends up a cybernetically enhanced human who can interact more directly with the Iron Man armor and even basically “store” the armor under his own skin and then basically will it into existence around him as needed.
Now, I don’t see that happening in the movie. As we already see with the treatment of the Asgardian “gods,” Marvel seems to be trying to stay away from actual magic and completely ludicrous feats of science to keep things grounded as much as possible in something resembling reality. However, I could see a situation where Tony Stark is working on something nano-related and the Mandarin steals it to make an Extremis minion as a sort of overpowered crazed terrorist to take down Stark, or the United States, or whatever. Stark gets ass kicked and takes the same Extremis treatment, and perhaps ends up more attuned to his own armor and able to interact with computer systems. In such a situation, I could see the Extremis villain getting defeated or killed, but the Mandarin getting away. Enter post-credit bonus scene where Thanos contacts the Mandarin, seeing an ally on Earth, and gives him something along the lines of the rings the character wore in the comics, elevating the Mandarin to true supervillain status.
If something like this were to happen, The Avengers 2 might end up being something that starts with the Mandarin as a villain and finishes with Thanos in the final acts, or perhaps Thanos doesn’t show up at all as a direct combatant until Avengers 3 after the Mandarin’s efforts have softened up the world a bit.
Another option could be to tie into what’s happened in the comics lately, and do a “Planet Hulk” and/or “World War Hulk” treatment. So, in that scenario, perhaps we tie up the Thanos storyline in Avengers 2, but in the Hulk series, we have a lead-up to Hulk being the main villain of the third Avengers movie, adding a tragic twist as an ally becomes someone the Avengers must fight. Were that to happen, I could see the first Hulk movie being something that involves a villain along the lines of the Absorbing Man or something to give Hulk fits, and then a second movie where Bruce Banner and the Hulk personalities find a way to live together to make a “smart Hulk” and then a third where Thanos or some Thanos ally decides to fuck with the Hulk and drags him through a portal to dump him on another planet (a la “Planet Hulk”) and let him think the Avengers did it to him. So he comes back to Earth pissed, and becomes the enemy for the third Avengers film for the “World War Hulk” treatment. In this scenario, I could see Spider-Man being brought in to fill the gap in the team left by the Hulk.
Alternately, I have to admit what I’d really like to see is for the second Avengers film to deal with Thanos and dispatch him, and then the third have Ultron. Ultron is a brilliant self-aware robot made of the nearly indestructible metal adamantium (which covers Wolverine’s bones and constitute his claws in the X-Men franchise) who wants to eliminate humanity. How he might be created would be a matter of question, since there seems to be no plans to have Dr. Hank Pym (aka Ant Man, Giant Man, Yellowjacket, etc.) in the movies as yet, and he was Ultron’s “father.” But I do keep hearing rumors of an Ant Man movie, so maybe he will come into the storyline and create the robot who turns evil and tries to kill everyone.
What could also be cool, and bring in the character of Black Panther, would be to have Ultron (regardless of how he is created) be constructed of another comic book metal called vibranium, which is found only in Black Panther’s African nation of Wakanda. This would allow for bringing in a pretty cool character (and add some color to the team racially) as well as giving the movie version of Ultron a different spin. Also, I don’t recall if this is addressed in the Captain America movie, but Cap’s shield in the comics is made of vibranium, so pitting him in part against Ultron if he were made of the same metal could be interesting.
Now, if any of my wish-list or fanciful speculation where to come to pass or even come close to what will happen, it still leave a couple big questions: What would Thor 3 involve and what will the next two (presumably) Captain America movies deal with? It’s possible, of course, they could just stand alone and have little or no direct connection to the next two Avengers movies.
In any case, we’re in totally unsubstantiated territory in this entire third part of my blog post anyway. Just rambling.
We shall see, though.
We shall see.
I just finished watching Resident Evil: Afterlife on DVD. Many of you may be asking why. If so…if you really don’t understand my motivations…there is a substantial probability you are a sheltered woman or a smug, artsy, overly pacifistic man, because the answer is clearly the following: Milla Jovovich, martial arts, Milla Jovovich, guns and more guns, Milla Jovovich, zombie and mutant monster mayhem, and hot supporting female actors hanging out around Milla Jovovich’s character.
In any case, now having watched the original Resident Evil film many years ago (which wasn’t bad; it balanced the video game vibe with movie plotting decently) and then later the sequels Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction (both pretty iffy at best, especially Extinction, but super-powered Alice was cool) and now the fourth installment of the franchise, I feel very confused about the fictional Umbrella Corp. which seems to have endlessly deep pockets, and ability to build gigantic high-rise-like complexes underground (beneath cities, no less) without anyone noticing and a military force better than those of most governments. They have so much going for them, and yet they make the stupidest decisions ever. How did they get so big and rich with that kind of strategy?
Anyway, here’s how I imagine Umbrella Corp. executive meetings go…
SCENE: Umbrella Corp. world headquarters. Conference room with a long table that can seat 50. The walls, floor and ceiling are all made of some pristine white plastic-like material. Seated are three individuals: A guy with English accent in a black suit inexplicably wearing sunglasses (hereafter called Cool Exec), a woman in a sexy combat jumpsuit with scoop neck and a bug-shaped biomechanical device affixed right beneath her ample bosom (hereafter called Hot Exec), and a thin guy wearing a tweed sport coat, loosely knotted tie and khaki slacks (hereafter called Voice of Reason).
Voice of Reason (shouting): Uh, guys! Why are you two sitting at either end of this really long table and I’m in the middle? Can’t we do this in a smaller conference room or something?
Cool Exec: No, we can’t. Conference Room 1 is currently being used to test a deadly acidic gas on the janitorial staff. Room 2 has been infected with a sentient form of smallpox since April. Room 3 is booked for a going-away party for Clive Daniels, who is retiring…
Hot Exec: Clive fell into the blade-filled threshing pit next to the break room this morning. The going-away party has been reclassified as a wake.
Cool Exec: All right, a wake, then. In any case, the only ones that aren’t booked are conference rooms with practical carpeting and beige walls bearing tasteful and expensive paintings. And their tables seat no more than 10 people comfortably.
Voice of Reason (still shouting): Those sound way more comfortable for a meeting of the three people who determine the course of all of Umbrella Corp.’s actions.
Hot Exec: *sigh* All right, all right. Will you stop bitching if we all just gather at my end of the table?
Voice of Reason (quieting down as he and Cool Exec head for Hot Exec’s end of the table): Can we wheel in a cart with some coffee and pastries, too?
Cool Exec: Why?
Voice of Reason: Because you keep looking at my face and licking your lips and I can hear your stomach growling when you do.
Hot Exec: He’s never been one to eat a filling breakfast before work. I’m sure that’s all it is.
Voice of Reason: Uh huh. (Turns to face Cool Exec) Why are you wearing shades? Did you inject yourself with the T-virus?
Cool Exec: Nonsense. It’s just this room is bright because of the white ceiling, walls, floor and conference table.
Voice of Reason: Yeah, right. They’re matte white. It’s bright in here but there’s no glare. Let me see your eyes.
Hot Exec: I assure you that his eyes are not reptilian and glowing red behind the sunglasses.
Voice of Reason: How would you know that’s what…All right, just let’s get on with the meeting and no one eat my face off, OK?
Hot Exec: Reasonable plan. I approve. (Turns to Cool Exec): You?
Cool Exec: I agree as well. No eating each other’s faces. That’s three votes. Motion carried.
Hot Exec: All right. That was a great meeting. Glad to all be on the same page. We’ll meet again Friday morning.
Voice of Reason: Wait. What? (as the other two get up and leave the room) But what about the Red Queen issue…? Fuck.
Hot Exec: OK, we’re gathered again. What’s on the agenda?
Voice of Reason: We were supposed to talk about the Red Queen issue last time but we didn’t get to it. You know? Our artificial intelligence computer that locked down our Raccoon City facility.
Cool Exec: Yes, what’s up with that?
Voice of Reason: The T-virus got out of control. I think it might reanimate the dead bodies and cause some people to mutate into horrendous monsters.
Cool Exec: We are NOT horrend…I mean, ur…that sounds problematic.
Hot Exec: We should immediately mobilize a team to shut down that AI, get in there and bring back some infected individuals for study.
Cool Exec: I agree.
Voice of Reason: No! Red Queen is doing her job. The AI locked down the facility to prevent a highly virulent virus from spreading. What we need to do is arrange to nuke…
Hot Exec: A small team, I think. Just a few people. There can’t be more than several hundred violent enemies in the facility.
Cool Exec: Excellent idea. A small team will hold down expenses.
Voice of Reason: No! If we did go in there, we’d need overwhelming force and biohazard-equipped troops.
Hot Exec: No…sorry. Annual shareholder meeting in a few weeks. We need to show a strong rise in earnings per share.
Cool Exec: We’re still going to send in a small team to shut down the AI and regain control of the facility, though, right?
Hot Exec: Of course.
Voice of Reason: The AI is doing her job, damn it! We programmed her to do this for all our safety. If we mess with her the virus could spread through the city and maybe the whole world.
Hot Exec: Well, we won’t know how bad the virus is until we see it in action.
Cool Exec: Yes. I’d love to see what it would do out in the wild.
Voice of Reason: We can download Red Queen’s data remotely and recreate the most recent version of the virus in a completely sealed-off lab in a remote location later.
Cool Exec: But that wouldn’t be any fun at all.
Hot Exec: Agreed. Two votes against one. Send in the team. (Turns to Voice of Reason) You really need to loosen up. If you can’t enjoy life, what have you got to live for? Want me to send one of my bio-enhanced special operatives over to your suite to give you an intimate massage?
Voice of Reason: What the fuck. Might as well get laid before the apocalypse.
Voice of Reason: Thanks for showing up, guys. I mean, a two-day delay and all that when I told you it was ultra-urgent. Do you know how hard it is to convince the U.S., state and local governments that nothing’s wrong when we seal off an entire city?
Hot Exec: I was wondering why the commute looked so bad from my chopper today when I flew over the city on the way here. Was there a pile-up? (cell phone rings and she takes the call)
Voice of Reason: No, the entire city is infected with a zombie-creating and person-mutating virus that got loose because you two decided to send in a team to turn off the AI that was keeping the virus contained underground in a state-of-the-art research facility.
Cool Exec: Oh, that’s right. I went off on a skiing trip after we made that decision. How did it go?
Voice of Reason: The team, with the help of one of our operatives, Alice, succeeded in that insane mission and now the virus is loose and the city is a lost cause and we need to figure out how to vaporize it and about seven surrounding communities just to be sure that…
Hot Exec (putting away her phone): Alice has been captured. Also, I’m informed that we turned one of her comrades into a huge, hulking, mind-controlled mutant with the T-virus.
Cool Exec: Awesome! (does a high-five with Hot Exec)
Voice of Reason: NOT awesome. This is out of control.
Hot Exec (paying no attention to him and facing Cool Exec): We should have a cage match between Alice and the big mutant guy.
Cool Exec: Best idea ever!
Voice of Reason: What? Why would we…fuck it. I’m going to go get laid again—several times—while I still have the chance to.
Cool Exec: Well, I know it’s been a while since we’ve met, but things have been busy, what with the end of the world and all that. So, how do our financials look?
Voice of Reason: We’re paying our staff and black-op troops with food, sex, drugs and booze. Currency no longer has any meaning. At least 95% of the U.S. population and between 65% and 80% of the rest of the world so far is either a zombie or a mutant. Civilization is at an end. We are the only organization that still has functional operations and a military structure. So far, the decision to fund a small army is the only decision this company has embarked on that I’m glad of right now.
Hot Exec: Dammit! This means we’ll have to cancel the big Christmas party and put off the big convention in Las Vegas this year.
Voice of Reason: Yeah. And pretty much put off everything else. We need to hunker down, watch our resources, clear some small island nation of every diseased inhabitant and move ourselves there to set up a new civilization. We have plenty of experts in agriculture…
Cool Exec: Nope. I ate…I mean I fired all of them to control costs.
Voice of Reason: We don’t have any costs to control now that money is meaningless. Take off those sunglasses and let me see your eyes.
Cool Exec: No.
Voice of Reason: Did a set of tendrils just start waving around in the back of your throat? And do you have a few fangs now…
Cool Exec: I’ve been working out and taking lots of vitamins.
Voice of Reason: That doesn’t make any sense. What a stupid excuse. You DID inject yourself with the T-virus.
Cool Exec: Maybe just a little…
Voice of Reason: Why in hell would you do that? This is a clear conflict of interests now that you’re a mutant.
Cool Exec: We agreed none of us would eat off each other’s faces.
Hot Exec: He’s right, you know. We did. That’s something. He’s clearly still a team player.
Voice of Reason: OK, I amend that to no eating of ANY parts of each other’s bodies, and no murder or torture or dismemberment of each other, either.
Cool Exec and Hot Exec: Agreed. Motion carries.
Voice of Reason: Cool. Now, since we no longer have the expertise to set up a self-sustaining food source thanks to someone’s mutant appetite for human flesh, we’ll just have to rely on our hydroponics and chemistry experts to provide us with unpalatable but nutritious sustenance, and we stay locked down in this facility. Thank God we’re powered by a nuclear reactor.
Hot Exec: There might be one problem with the whole hydroponics thing…
Voice of Reason: Oh, shit. What?!
Hot Exec: I fired them so that we could shift resources to cloning Alice. We’re calling it Project Alice, by way. Catchy, isn’t it?
Cool Exec (mandibles extending from his mouth, snapping at the air, and then retreating back down his throat): Extraordinary!
Voice of Reason: Extraordinarily stupid. Alice is the only person who has bonded in a stable way with the T-virus. She has super-powers now, and she hates us.
Hot Exec: We’re going to brainwash her and all her clones.
Voice of Reason: We couldn’t even control her mutated friend properly during your cage match in Raccoon City, and he was a mindless brute. How are we going to control someone in full control of her…
Cool Exec: How many clones?
Hot Exec: Dozens. Maybe hundreds. I’m thinking a total Alice army.
Cool Exec: I love this job!
Voice of Reason: Would it surprise any of you to find out that Alice and her army of fellow clones escaped and helped usher the destruction of our Tokyo facility?
Hot Exec: Is there video? I bet that would be really cool to watch.
Voice of Reason: Yeah. OK. I’ll look into that. In any case, the upside is that she seems to think that was our central headquarters. She doesn’t know about this facility or about us. Apparently, one of our other executives, from that facility—who apparently infected himself with the T-virus…
Cool Exec: Yeah. That. He’s a cousin of mine. I might have suggested…
Voice of Reason: I see he shares your taste for black suits and sunglasses.
Cool Exec: Family tradition.
Voice of Reason: So, apparently, he’s been rounding up people by ship, luring them with a message of safety and security, so that he can experiment on them later.
Hot Exec: Yeah. My idea.
Cool Exec: She told me…
Hot Exec: And with two votes…
Voice of Reason: Yes. Two against one. I get it. I would still like to know so that I can advise you…
Hot Exec: You’re really a stick in the mud. We kinda wanted to cut down on all the lecturing.
Voice of Reason: Is there any reason for me to keep coming to these meetings?
Cool Exec: The smell of your flesh makes me salivate.
Voice of Reason: Not the most compelling argument to convince me…
Hot Exec: Well, after the meetings he and I sometimes make fun of you. I’m a little worried that without you around the only thing we’ll have to talk about is how many staff members he’s eaten.
Voice of Reason: Glad to be of help.
Voice of Reason: Anybody care for my update?
Cool Exec: Sure, why not? I’m full after eating an administrative assistant. Need to sit here a while until my stomach settles.
Hot Exec: I’ll be playing Angry Birds Rio while you’re talking, if you don’t mind. Go ahead.
Voice of Reason: Alice has taken control of our ship, the Arcadia, and blown up your cousin (turning to Cool Exec).
Cool Exec: Bummer.
Hot Exec: But more employees for you to eat without him around.
Cool Exec: Good point.
Voice of Reason: There are only three of them left: Alice and two companions. They’re lightly armed, low on ammo and saddled with a couple thousand people suffering from short-term memory loss whom they just revived a half hour ago. We should be able to take them out with a small strike team from the air. I suggest two or three gunships.
Hot Exec: Oh. I’ve already scrambled several dozen to fly out there.
Voice of Reason: No, no, no. The time for that kind of shit was during the Raccoon City fiasco. Now’s the time to conserve fuel and other resources.
Cool Exec: Is anyone doing a video recording of that assault?
Hot Exec: Three teams so we can all the good angles. We’re even thinking of dropping some weapons down to them on the ship to make things livelier.
Cool Exec: This is gonna be great.
Voice of Reason: Shit. I know how this is gonna go. Well, let me go dig up some butter and popcorn. Let me know when the live feed starts.
(And if all y’all are wondering: Yes, a fifth movie comes out later this year, in September. Resident Evil: Retribution)
I do have a post or two planned this week for “Holy Sh!+” but in the meantime, why don’t you go enjoy some fiction.
A couple new chapters were posted in recent weeks for my series “The Gathering Storm.” If you haven’t started reading it yet, now’s a good a time as any (list of current chapters, in reverse order, is here), and it will keep you busy (21 chapters thus far).
Also have some one-off short stories at that blog that were posted in the past few weeks:
That last story in the list is a Thanksgiving-themed story, so obviously I’m being a tad generous to myself in term of speed of output by classifying it as having been posted in “the past few weeks.”
All right, hopefully I’ll have a good rant or two up between tomorrow and the weekend.
In the absence of deep thoughts today (or snarky ones), how about you enjoy some free fiction online? My fiction. Don’t let the presence of superhero and supervillain themes fool you into thinking it’s campy or corny stuff. I actually have serious themes, interesting (I hope) characters and development of them, engaging dialogue, occasional comedy, etc.
You can find it all at Tales of the Whethermen.
Besides, the latest post (well, most recent one as I’m typing this post) is a story that ends with a shout-out to my college roommate, and more people need to know about his work for comics, animated series on TV and more. Go! Now!
Or I will unleash my armored mutant minions on you.
So, as I’ve mentioned at various times in this blog, I write erotica. Sadly, I don’t get paid to do it, but it’s one of my main outlets for fiction on the web, at a couple of other blogs I have under a completely different name that is unattached to my real name or to my Deacon Blue identity.
Frankly, I spend way more time writing the erotica than I do writing superhero fiction at my Tales of the Whethermen blog, and I feel somewhat bad about that for fans of the Whethermen stuff, since it delays them getting new material. On the other hand, at this point in time, I’m lucky to get 20 visitors in a single day at the Whethermen blog when I post a new story, whereas I routinely get 100 to 200 a day at my primary erotica blog.
So, I feel I need to cater to my more devoted fan base. I’m sure you understand.
Not to mention the fact it’s fun to write stories that focus on kinks and fetishes I find interesting. You might also understand that.
Problem is that in mentioning that I write “blue fiction,” I’ve piqued the curiosity of some visitors here at this blog, and only a very precious few were people I felt I could trust with knowledge of where to find my other blogs.
This made me feel a little guilty for those interested souls here who like reading some good erotica. Not that I’m saying mine is good, but several other people have, so either they’re right or they have bad taste. In any case, it’s good for my ego.
So, I’ve decided to make an interesting plunge at my Whethermen blog. From time to time, I will write an erotic tale related to existing or new transhuman characters in my Whethermen universe. These stories won’t be part of the regular blog postings but rather attached to this page at the Tales of the Whethermen blog. This will make it a slightly less in-your-face kind of things so that those who don’t want to read the erotica don’t have to, and random visitors are less likely to trip over the stories by accident as their entry point in the blog.
In any case, people may or may not be interested, but if you’ve wanted to see if I’m any good at erotica, here’s your chance. The first story, Out of Uniform, went up tonight.
So, my Muse is beginning to flit around inside my head and whisper ghostly entreaties to return to my epic storyline “Cleansed By Fire.”
Yeah, like I need another thing on my plate, right?
Because it’s been so long, and because I had long ago begun to do some rewrites of early chapters as well as adding some new info, I’m thinking of starting over from the beginning.
What say you, dear readers? If you had been reading it before, would you like to see its return?
And if you hadn’t read it before, go click on the damn link above, poke around a bit, and let me know if you’d like to have me circle back the beginning for a version 2.0 of the series.
Yes, in part this is laziness, as running earlier chapters with revisions and additions will give me time to generate new content. So, sue me.
But first, let me know if I should even bother bringing the series back and getting back to a story that will likely be the equivalent of two or three novels.
If you’ve visited this blog for some time, you know I was for a while writing a novel in chunks here, between other postings. It was a contiguous storyline, rolled out more or less episodically (really, snippets of chapters since writing whole chapters as blog posts was too unwieldy). This was both an experiment (to see how well-received it might be, to roll out a novel as I was writing it from scratch) and a labor of love (as the first draft of what might turn out to be a novel I try to publish one day).
If you’re one of those people, you also know that with the crush of real life and the addition of more blogs to my life, a few of them devoted to fiction (erotica in some cases), that project stalled.
But it isn’t dead yet. The characters in that far-from-finished tale (the resulting novel of which would still only be the first in an epic series) continue to speak to me at times. In fact, sometimes they won’t fucking shut up, and it can get really annoying. Good thing for them that I love them.
Characters are important to me. Who they are, what they say and how the interact with each other and make decisions…well, it’s fascinating to me (whether in the “Cleansed By Fire” novel, or at my Tales of the Whethermen blog, or my erotica and fetish stories). You might, however, ask: “Why? You created them, so you know what they’re going to do.”
If only that were true. Much like living-and-breathing people, I can’t always predict their actions. Familiarity and experience with someone will give you a lot of clues and insight into what they will do, but they can still surprise you. So too do my characters. No matter how thoroughly I plot a story, in any genre or whatever medium, characters will surprise me and do things I didn’t plan on them doing.
Sometimes, things I didn’t want them to do, because it complicates my plans or changes the direction of my plot. Usually, though, I see the necessity in letting that happen, just as I acknowledge that unexpected decisions by friends, families, co-workers, etc. are not always bad ones. Usually, they are neutral or positive in the long run.
I hope my characters in my fiction continue to be complex (or perhaps I should hope they become so; some of you might argue the notion that they’re complex right now). I hope they continue to challenge me.
At the same time, I hope I don’t become lazy (assuming I’m not already).
You see, it’s easy to write in black-and-white. To have clear good and evil and to have defined winners and losers. For the people who do right to be rewarded and for those who do wrong to receive some kind of justice. But that’s not life, now is it? And I try to make sure my fiction feels enough like real life so that it not only rings true but also sucks you into my world, to give you as immersive an experience as you can get.
Yes, I love my villains and my heroes both. I love those who are neither. I love that sometimes a villain can do something noble and a hero do something awful. Even when I hate what people do and what happens to them, sometimes I have to accept them for who they are…even when they’re fictional. I have to accept life doesn’t always go my way, even when I’m the one creating the reality.
(This is one part of a kind of thematic dual-post. For the “other part,” click here and visit my Tales of the Whethermen blog)