Sunday, April 26, 2009

There is only ONE way to respond!

This being an increasingly politically correct world, we've had some strange back and forth online between people about Somali pirates. Many of us, for example, want to be correct as all blazes and say the pirates are 'just trying to survive because they're suffering from poverty' or something oh so cute and compassionate. We're talking about pirates, all right? Johnny Depp with mascara is one thing...this is reality, where hijacking ships and taking prisoners isn't romantic OR entertaining.

And people have been responding appropriately, with deadly seriousness. Our forces of law and order aren't looking at pirates any differently than they do terrorists when hostages are taken. To hell with negotiation. If the good guys get the chance and have a clear shot with a sniper rifle, the bad guy will go down before an innocent hostage does.

And this just in, something new has entered the mix. The Italian cruise ship Melody was about to get boarded by attacking pirates today, but an Israeli private security force posted on the ship to protect it fired back and drove the attackers away. And there's a controversy about it. Some are saying it's a good thing for ships to fight back and defend their passengers. Duh! But some say that the fact that the crews of law-abiding ships are arming to defend themselves will make things worse and make the pirates more violent.

Here's my message to all of you who think've got a yellow stripe going up your back.

The situation is simple. Pirates are hijacking ships. Pirating is criminal. The pirates like to take hostages for ransom. Whether things get more violent or not isn't exactly something in our control. It was in the pirates' control to be law-abiding or criminals in the first place, and they made the wrong choice.

We need to make the right choices and not worry about what MIGHT happen or any damned MOTIVATION on the part of the pirates. The forces of law and order aren't supposed to be kind and gentle with pirates. The forces of law and order have only one response to hostage-taking criminals, and that's to respond appropriately and decisively, and when necessary with deadly force. In other words, FIGHT BACK! And when a ship is attacked by pirates, again, fighting back and not letting the pirates get what they want is the best thing and the smart thing!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Favorites of a Video Game Geek #1: WOLFENSTEIN

I'm a gamer. I'm not shy of admitting it. Here is the start of another semi-regular series of blogs, like the Women Warriors installments!

Some of you might not have even been born before the early 1990's...the World Wide Web was launching, the U.S. played bodyguard for Kuwait by kicking Saddam Hussein's ass for the first time, and mobile phones were so big if you tried to hit a person in the head with one you'd be charged with attempted murder. A computer game came along in 1992 for MS-DOS that, while not exactly groundbreaking, became insanely popular as well as highly offensive to a very vocal few. The game was "Wolfenstein 3D", the game that put first person shooters on the video game map forever.

Broken down into shareware 'episodes', "Wolfenstein 3D" was as straightforward a game as you can imagine. The gamer is put in the combat boots of an American soldier killing Nazis in WWII and must navigate through a maze of castle halls to make a great escape. However. People were already getting correct even in the early 90's, and a big huff was raised. Wait, you must be asking, what's to object about? The object of the game is to kill Nazis! Well, even in "Wolfenstein 3D's" highly pixellated day, the results of shooting Nazis and their guard dogs and uber-nasty bosses was always gory. Protests and negative reaction came in because of Nazi imagery and...because digital dogs were being shot.

Once again. The bad guys are Nazis...what's wrong with killing 'em and the dogs they send to fetch your entrails?! Good grief!

Thankfully, in spite of the oh-so-correct nonsense, "Wolfenstein 3D" became a best seller and set the standard for FPS games in the future. The company that made it, id Software, became successful and soon made another game that put correct noses out of joint called "Doom". I have both "Wolfenstein 3D" and its 2003 sequel, "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" for the PS2 and the Xbox. A new installment is supposed to be released this year, and I'd love to get it...if I can afford a current-gen system when the time comes, dammit!

I still don't get why some would freak out over shooting a virtual Nazi...I might as well be stepping on a cockroach -- !

Uh-oh, speaking of 'incorrect'...if an animal lover is reading this, I'm in trouble! ;D

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oh HELL, no!

My inner Cartman is screaming right now:


The only thing keeping ME from screaming the same thing, literally, is the simple fact I long ago figured out how damned STUPID people can be.

But people still find a way to surprise me. The newest piece of evidence for the prosecution:

"Baby Shaker". It's a mobile phone game, and right now Alexander Graham Bell and others who brought the telephone into existence must be spinning in their graves. The game (can it honestly be called that?) starts with a picture of a baby crying loud. The object of the game, thanks to whatever tech someone else came up with, is to shake the phone until the baby stops crying.

I'm serious.

The object of the damn game is to shake the phone -- the BABY -- until the baby stops crying.

I don't have to go into how stupid this entire thing is, considering many babies have died in real life from being shaken so hard by abusive parents and/or guardians. And it doesn't amaze me that the fool who created this game thought it was a good idea. What amazes me is that the game had to go through process of approval by however many before it would even be made available for sale. And it got approved, the implication clear that others thought it was a good idea, too.

Again, I'm being serious, but I wish I wasn't.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today was Earth Day. Big deal!

I know, I just committed the ultimate crime in our politically correct day and age. (I hate politics, give me a few allowances.) To not put any importance to a day when we're supposed to be so conscious about Humanity's role in this world and how we impact the Earth? Some of you would probably want to draw and quarter me for that!

Well, too damn bad, I'm still doing it and I'll keep doing it even after I'm done with this day's blog. I couldn't give a damn less if it's Earth Day. Here's why...I'm not supposed to care. There's no law that says I have to do anything different from what I normally do. (Yet...give the politically correct of our world time to maybe change that.)

Some of you would harumph and yell, "You don't care about your planet?!" Of course I care! I LIVE HERE, TOO! If this world is going to Hell environmentally speaking, then that naturally would be counter-productive to my life in general, same as for all of us living here. Allow me to explain myself and my lack of care for Earth Day, and maybe you'll understand.

First off, again, we're supposed to put aside a day to be conscious of the Earth. Think about that. A day. ONE DAY, or twenty-four hours! I could (and usually do) perform a few deeds that won't harm or pollute the environment in a given day. The idea that one day can be set aside for us to do something positive for Momma Earth, and yet the rest of the year we don't have to give a hoot and not pollute is just plain stupid.

And since being so kind and noble for ONE DAY is politically motivated, I again take a pass on Earth Day. Those more correct than the rest of us go out of their way to remind us in one way or the other to be good to our planet, and don't you know that makes them look as good and decent as a missionary telling those in the Third World the 'true faith'. (Think about that parallel, seriously.) And these correct-minded souls who supposedly care so much must love the sound of their own voices when they tell us this 'better thing' or that for the sake of our big blue and green ball of dirt and water. They must love being on a higher moral level, and many who honestly don't think about those who preach the Earth Momma gospel (including, worse, those who do think about it and are as self-serving) march in lockstep and pass on this message or that to help everybody else 'act more responsibly'.

Again, I hate politics, and I tune out pretense like I do bullshit.

By the way, fun fact. We hear this 'save the Earth' crap from the same folks who hammered us time and again that bottled water is healthy for us...and yet THE PLASTIC BOTTLES MANY THROW AWAY AND DON'T RECYCLE TAKE ABOUT 700 YEARS TO BIODEGRADE.

Want to know how much bottled water I drink? None, except for a free sample I was given once. So congratulate me, that's a service to our planet!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A rant on something I dislike...

I'm hesitant to call it 'hate'. Let me get that out of the way. If someone decides to do something with themselves in a free society, hey. I'm not one to say that thing is wrong.

Or maybe I am. It isn't just dislike, it's disdain. Disgust. Sometimes I'm unable to understand what motivates it. Sometimes I feel anger, especially when it goes terribly wrong, and it often does. What am I talking about?

Cosmetic or plastic surgery.

This does NOT in any way include reconstructive surgery, to help someone heal after a disfigurement they shouldn't have had to endure in the first place. I'm talking about the elective, ego-motivated bullshit too many women (and men) have had, and too many more will have in our future. The changing of one's looks with both slices and foreign substances to achieve their personal ideal -- or society's ideal -- of beauty.

Yes, I called it bullshit. And it is. And I blame society in general, and women (and men) in particular who let themselves get duped into doing it. Unlike most people, I don't forget the stuff I'm taught when I was a kid. Some of that stuff involved 'true beauty comes from the inside' or 'never judge a book by its cover'.

But according to our "Nip/Tuck" world, we're supposed to judge ourselves by our IS skin-deep, and it can be improved as long as you have the cash to pay.

I say to Hell with that. I say to Hell with the doctors who tell women (and men) with a vulnerable self-image they can be 'improved', because those doctors only really give a shit about how much money they make from their patients. And keep in mind there are those who will never feel beautiful enough, those who will visit their plastic surgeon again and again because something was missed, something that needs to be FIXED.

I may go back to this subject again sometime, but I'm already tired of ranting about it...because I seriously doubt a lot of people will read this, take it to heart and try something that won't involve strategic mutilation of one's face and body if they want to feel better about themselves. Something that's been around for centuries I won't even bother to count. Something called makeup.

But if you'll read anything in this blog and let it sink in, let it be this:

There's good reason why its called plastic surgery...and please remember what you were taught as a kid before you go to make such a dramatic yet cosmetic change. You're beautiful as the person you were born to be. Not the person someone else says you can be remade to be. And most importantly, if you're going to spend a shitload of money on your face, try to think of a better use for that hard-earned cash. Like your kids. (If you have any.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The airship has waited long enough...

My increasing affection for steampunk aside, I always thought of our not fully adopting the airship as a serious missed opportunity, if not absolutely idiotic.

The idea of the airship aka the zeppelin came LONG before the Wright brothers went to Kitty Hawk, but why didn't we adopt airships fully for commercial, business and military use? Because of damned accidents, and the fear they put in us.

Who else remembers how hesitant we were to launch a space shuttle again because of the Challenger disaster? For some reason that fear was compounded with airships, maybe because in physical terms they are so big. But did we let fear of accidents stop things like planes and automobiles from being built, evolving, becoming a part of our society and our world? No, and we had no reason to do it with the airship...a missed opportunity and perhaps idiotic, indeed.

I always loved the idea of the airship, and it's PAST time we made it a part of things!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How do I know steampunk when I find it?

It took a while for me to answer that question, and for the sake of those coming in late, I'll give you a head's up. Steampunk can be found...well, everywhere, and it's slowly but steadily growing in popularity. There's no single reason why a person might be attracted to it (I have a laundry list of reasons myself...more on that in blogs to come), but it isn't just a form of science fiction-fantasy entertainment and art. It's becoming an increasingly (and I hope to hell it stays in a good way) fashionable aesthetic, influencing things from music to clothing...some are taking it so far to make it a lifestyle alternative! Others have made virtual, steam-driven lives for themselves in Second Life's New Babbage.

Here's some visual aids to help you, too. (AGAIN, LEGAL BULLSHIT DISCLAIMER: I don't claim to own these images, which I found in the public domain. I'm not making a profit from them either, so there!)

For even better visual aids, let me describe to you the best mainstream examples of streampunk that can be found on television and DVD...I'll start with the 1960's Robert Conrad-Ross Martin TV series "The Wild Wild West" and its cinematic remake from 1999.

I still remember seeing the original "The Wild Wild West" on syndication a lo-ong time ago (so long I’ve forgotten more than I remember of it!), and that show was the first mainstream example of steampunk before it even got its name. Definitely a classic, while in my opinion the "Wild Wild West" movie...isn’t classic, and probably will never be called that. Without a doubt, it has the Victorian/Wild West era and the steampunk aesthetic and devices, some of amazing scale...a giant steam-driven tarantula has to be one of the best extreme examples of steampunk! Unfortunately, for me and a lot of folks, the movie fell short for three good reasons:

1) Will Smith wasn’t so much playing a cowboy/secret agent as he was playing himself...nothing wrong with that, but he felt out of place in the story’s time and setting.

2) Kenneth Branaugh as Loveless chewed up everything in sight, but the rest of the actors outside of Smith didn’t seem to be giving even half as much energy for their parts.

3) The movie’s pace was slow too much of the time...a typical big-budget movie with too much money to spend and too little to say, outside of some novel key moments. (Like James West nearly being ambushed with Miss East in that ’trick room’; you’d have to see it to appreciate it. And seeing a giant robo-spider tearing across the Wild West is always interesting.)

One movie I’ve seen I know people will disagree with me liking is "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", with Sean Connery. Before you sling your nasty words, I never read the original graphic novels the film is based from, and I don’t doubt that the source material is better than the film. (Just look at "Watchmen", whether or not you’ve read the book.) But "League" is still a good action/adventure film, and it has a lot of steampunk to it, with the exception of the Nemomobile...the tires and the headlights were too modern! I’m surprised people haven’t said more good things about the film’s take on Captain Nemo (which would have to be the closest to how Jules Verne envisioned him, especially in regard to his Indian roots) and the screw-propelled incarnation of the Nautilus.

For the best modern steampunk film, though, I haven’t seen "The Golden Compass" I’d have to recommend the Japanese anime film, "Steamboy". Whether you love anime or not, this movie is steampunk heaven from start to finish. There are too many reasons why, so I won’t bother counting them!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm sorry, Louis Armstrong, it isn't a wonderful world.

In fact, I don't understand this world sometimes. I really don't.

This is verbatim from AOL News, and I have to pass it on. I doubt you'll make any sense of this, either.

(DISCLAIMER FOR LEGAL BULLSHIT: This is not being published to plajarize AOL News or to profit myself. I don't work for AOL News, so I'm also not hyping them. I'm just helping to get this information out. If you want to know even more, go to AOL News, all right?)

City Is Haunted by Horrific Crimes

(April 16) - One question has to be haunting the citizens of Tracy, Calif.: Why is this happening to our children?

The community, located about 60 miles east of San Francisco, turned out Friday for a public memorial for Sandra Cantu. One day earlier, the 8-year-old was buried in a private funeral. The mother of one of her playmates is charged with raping and murdering her.

Incredibly, Sandra’s murder is the fourth criminal case involving juvenile victims to rock this small city of about 78,000 – and make national headlines -- in recent months.

"This area has never experienced anything like this," Tracy Unified School District spokeswoman Jessica Cardoza told "These past few months have been very difficult."

In December, an emaciated, bruised, nearly naked teen with a shackle attached to his ankle ran into a Tracy gym and begged for help. The 17-year-old implored, "Hide me, please hide me," according to Chuck Ellis, a worker at InShape Fitness Center.

Four people –- among them the woman who was the boy's legal guardian -- have been arrested on charges including torture, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

In February, a plastic surgeon was arrested after several women came forward and accused him of sexually assaulting them in his Tracy office. A revised criminal complaint filed this week accuses Dr. Peter Chi, 46, of molesting 64 women. The list of alleged victims includes a 16-year-old girl.Chi is free on $100,000 bail. He was ordered to stop practicing while the case is ongoing and has surrendered his medical license.

In March, a substitute teacher was arrested on charges he molested 12 girls at a Tracy elementary school. Jesse Llorente III, 39, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 10 felony charges of lewd acts with a child, three misdemeanor counts of child molestation and one count of possession of child pornography, the Tracy Press reported. He is being held on $1 million bail.

On the same day that Llorente was arraigned in San Joaquin County Court, Melissa Huckaby, sobbed and trembled in another courtroom as she was formally charged with murder with the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14, and murder in the course of a kidnapping.

If convicted in the death of Sandra Cantu, Huckaby, 28, could face the death penalty. Prosecutors have not decided yet whether they will seek it.

Sandra disappeared March 27. She was last seen in the trailer park where both her family and Huckaby lived. Ten days after Sandra vanished, her body was found stuffed in a suitcase that had been submerged in an irrigation pond. Huckaby was arrested late April 10.

Huckaby, the granddaughter of a local Baptist pastor, has a 5-year-old daughter who often played with Sandra. Huckaby herself taught Sunday school at her grandfather's church.


I hope you're resting in peace, Sandra.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New story time!

And I do mean new. :) (Again, though, for mature readers!)

...a story about a little boy and his pet, by Charles Spencer

He entered the front door and might as well have announced instead of said, "Honey, I'm home."

He shut the door as only silence answered. "Honey?" Still nothing. "Merideth?" He frowned. He wasn't that late, was he? He warned his wife more than once he might be held up by work more often than not...

As he mused on that, his 8-year-old son entered the living room from the kitchen. The boy's smile was neutral. "Hi, dad."

The father smiled and said, "Hey, sport. How was your day?"

"O.K." The boy looked uncertain. "Dad, I've got something to tell you."

The father, Robert, nodded with a smile. "Go ahead, Timmy. You know you can tell me anything." He taught his son long ago and repeatedly since that honesty was always best. He wasn't sure how to tell the boy about politicians and lawyers yet, along with most every human being who liked at least a white lie every now and then.

Timmy brightened a little, but he still seemed unsure. "I found something really cool on my way home from school."


"I named him Fluffy."

Oh, shit, he thought. "Uh-huh."

"I named him that cause he was real hairy and small."

Robert tried his best to keep the annoyance from his voice. "O-kay. Where did you find Fluffy?" He thought, Where the hell is Merideth?

"It was kindamore like he found me. You know where that meteorite landed the other day?" Dozens in the area saw a meteor descend from the night sky. A search was made, and in a vacant field a crater the size of a small car was found. No meteorite, though, which disappointed many of the locals.

"Yes, Timmy, I do. It wasn't far from where nice old Mrs. Morley lives." He didn't add out loud, Her and her hundred frigging cats.

"Well, Fluffy just jumped out of the tall grass in front of her house as I was walking back home from school. I almost stepped on 'im."

"Uh-huh." The old bitch can't even hire out to have someone cut her grass, but she can sure invest in kitty litter. "Fluffy might be one of Mrs. Morley's cats, son -- "

Timmy said quickly, "Oh, he wasn't! I thought he was really cool and I brought him home, dad. Can I keep him?"

I don't need this shit right now, he thought, we already have a damn dog. What more does this kid want? "Well...where is Fluffy right now?"

"Oh, he's around."

"Uh-huh." He strode over to a few feet in front of Timmy and got on one knee, so they could 'talk man to man', as he himself said more than once. "What does your mommy think of Fluffy?" She should be home now, where is she?

Timmy hesitated, but only for a second. "She was kinda scared of Fluffy when she first saw him, dad. Danni thought he was cool too, though." His face scrunched into a familiar disdainful expression he employed when he started talking about his sister, one year older than he was. "Like I care what she thought."

Robert blinked and gave Timmy a look. "Why would your mom have been scared of Fluffy?"

"Cause he looked cool, dad. She didn't know what to do at first."

Robert's brow furrowed a little. "Help me understand a little better, son. What makes Fluffy cool?"

"He's diff'rent."

"'Different' how, Timmy?" Where is Merideth...come to think of it, why isn't Danni here?

"Diff'rent enough to call Amy at the vet's."

Robert almost showed an expression of disdain that would have rivaled Timmy's toward his sister, but he controlled himself. Amy and Merideth were best friends, and they had the same love for animals. In fact, Amy was a charter member of everything from the ASPCA to PETA. She's one of those idiots who'd chain themselves to something in protest for even fucking rats. Merideth wasn't as bad as Amy was, though. He hoped. At least he knew Spot, their dog, was being taken care of well by Amy...he was at the vet's at this time because of a broken leg. He kept his patience as he tried to get something specific from his son... "Okay, but what exactly made Fluffy different? What kind of animal is he? You said he wasn't a cat."

Timmy shook his head definitively. "Nope!"

"Is he a dog? A little puppy dog?"


"Then what is he?"

Timmy helped nothing by shrugging his little shoulders and pronouncing, "I dunno."

Robert frowned. 'Real hairy and small' could mean anything, then, from a squirrel to a baby possum...shit. Wait, of course that explains where Merideth and Danni are! "So mommy took Fluffy to Amy?"

"No, Amy came here a few hours ago."

Puzzled, his father asked, "Amy's here? Now?"

"No, dad, she's gone."

Robert started to lose his patience...and to feel a vague fear. "Then where are your mother and your sister?"

"They're gone, too."

"What do you mean 'gone', Timmy? Where did they go?"

"They're Amy."

The fear and impatience built in Robert like a slowly rising tide, and it made him say what he did next in a taut tone of voice: "Timmy...tell me everything that happened since you found Fluffy until I came home. And I'm serious, tell me everything."

"There isn't much to say, dad -- "

Robert snapped, "Tell me anyway!" He shut his eyes and winced, embarrassed he lost control for a moment. But he needed to know. His eyes opened and he willed his expression to be soft for his son. "Please, Timmy...tell me what happened."

Timmy nodded. "O.K. I came home with Fluffy, and Danni was already here with mom. Mom was really afraid of Fluffy at first, but sis thought he was cool like I said. Mommy kept saying she had to call somebody, and I didn't know why Fluffy scared her. He was just jumpin' up trying to get on my shoulder. Fluffy can jump really high when he wants to."

Robert looked at his son blankly. What the hell? Is Fluffy a jackrabbit?

"So then mommy decided on Amy and called her, and she said come right away like something was wrong. Then mommy grabbed Fluffy and took him into the guest room and locked the door. Mommy didn't want us to go in and see Fluffy 'til Amy got there. It took 'bout an hour for Amy to get here."

"Then what?"

"Mommy and Amy talked for a while real quiet...she didn't want me or Danni in the same room with 'em. Then mommy and Amy came to us and started askin' me stuff like you are now. Where I found Fluffy and stuff. And I told the truth like I'm telling now. You always say honesty is the best policy."

Robert managed a smile and nodded. "That's right, son." Of course, he never communicated the fact to anyone, and definitely not to Merideth, he was sleeping with one of his co-workers on the side, a buxom brunette secretary. She was the reason he was often late coming home, like today.

"So Amy went into the guest room t'look at Fluffy. The thing was, Fluffy grew bigger."

"Fluffy grew...what?" Suddenly, things made even less sense to Robert.

"Uh, almost an hour went by after mom put Fluffy in the room 'til Amy got there. And I saw him, dad, he got a lot bigger when we left him alone! He kinda did that after I found him and took him home, too. He felt a lil' bit heavier when I showed him to mommy than when I first picked him up and put 'im in my backpack."

Robert's eyes narrowed. "That can't be right, Timmy. No animal can grow that fast."

"Fluffy did, I swear!" Timmy looked surprised and maybe a little angry that his dad didn't take his word for it. "Mom would say he did too if she was here!"

Robert started to get a little agitated that he didn't know where Merideth was, which didn't mix well with what he already felt. "Wait, you still didn't say -- !"

Timmy broke him off, wanting to finish his story. "Anyway, Amy said a big word about Fluffy growin' so was like 'geometric'ly', a real big word. But mommy kept asking if Fluffy was...was dangerous. Amy said she didn't know, and we had to leave Fluffy in the room again by himself. He must've gotten real hungry." He shrugged again. "Anyhow, Amy said he might not be dangerous to me. She used another word I didn't get...inprint or imprint or somethin'. I didn't know what she meant, and Amy said that happens when a baby and parent see each other. She said maybe Fluffy wouldn't hurt me cause I'm like family."

"Th-that's good to know, son." Robert tried his best again to understand, but he couldn't. He needed more.

"But mom was still scared of Fluffy...and I guess Amy was right, cause Fluffy really only likes me. Maybe I can teach him tricks or something?"

"Son, wait." The fear in him grew stronger with each passing moment. He tried to keep his voice from shaking. "What...what does Fluffy look like?"

"That's what's cool about him, dad! He looks diff'rent from anything! Well...he was hairy and all and small at first, but the thing that really made him diff'rent was his face."


"Yep! He kinda looked like one of Danni's dumb teddy bears with his eyes...theyre small and black, like buttons, but his mouth is huge! And I couldn't see under all his hair to see how many legs he had until Amy saw he had six of 'em!"

Robert suddenly burst out laughing, in spite of himself. Timmy looked at him with a cross expression as his father laughed. "What's so funny? He does have six legs!" His father tried to settle down and stop laughing, but it took a moment.

Finally, Robert looked at his son and said, "I get it now, and that's funny! That's a good joke, son! Now c'mon, Merideth and Danni can come out from wherever they are!"

Timmy looked at his father with wide eyes. "You don't believe me?"

Robert shook his head and his smile was light. "You did have me going for a minute, Timmy...I'm not ashamed to admit it, too. But when you started going on about six legs...!" He chuckled almost to himself.

His son was truly offended and blurted out, "I'm not lying! I swear, I'm doing what you said people have to do to communicate, I'm tellin' the truth! If mommy and Danni and Amy were here they'd tell you!"

His father's smile never left his face, but he started to feel the vague fear return. "So where are they, Timmy?"

"I told you, they're gone."

His father's smile faded as his fear increased. "Yes, but where did they go?"

Timmy hesitated again...for a moment. "Nowhere. Fluffy ate 'em."

Robert looked into his son's eyes, and he couldn't say anything. He didn't see any sign his son was lying or trying to trick him. Or playing some kind of joke.

Timmy said much more quietly, "Like Amy said, I think Fluffy only likes me. And we were waiting for you to come home cause mommy tried to call you a few times and you didn't answer. And while we were waiting, Fluffy got even bigger in the guest room. A lot bigger, and a lot hungrier too, I guess. He broke the door to pieces comin' out and...well, he went and chomped on Amy first in the kitchen while the rest of us were upstairs. He must have been fast gettin' to Amy cause we didn't hear nothin' happen. Then he came upstairs and went after mommy and Danni. Mommy was tellin' us that we had to call the 'thorities when you got home about Fluffy, but then we heard the door get broken downstairs and she looked really scared and then Fluffy came in. I didn't want to see what happened, so I shut my eyes like I would watchin' one of those scary movies? When I looked again, only Fluffy was there -- "

His father suddenly shouted, "That's enough!" He'd been spurred once and for all by the continued absence of his wife and one of his children, his impatience, and his secret building fear. He taught his son to always tell the truth, but he had to be lying now. He simply had to be. He reached out and took hold of Timmy under his arms angrily and raised to stand to his full height, picking his son up off the floor as a result. Robert held Timmy, whose eyes were wide with understandable surprise, close to his face and shouted, "Stop joking around with me, dammit! I want to know where your mother and sister are NOW, or so help me -- !"

Robert heard something in the house then, behind him, distant but closing fast. A set of feet, not feet. Something else. Something was approaching from the den on one side of the house, and it was fast. And big.

Robert's fear was all-consuming within him then, but the logical part of his mind managed to wonder. About that meteorite no one found. About Fluffy imprinting on Timmy...he knew something about that natural phenomenon, too. He remembered Timmy told him that Fluffy wouldn't hurt him. But it would have to be a different story for anyone else...

He heard the sound of multiple feet rushing fast until they came to a stop behind him. He heard something else...slow but steady inhales and exhales of breath, but each breath was an unnatural growl unlike anything he'd ever heard of. On this planet. He got the sense of something very big behind him, perhaps looking upon him with eyes as black as a teddy bear's, but they had to be very small in comparison to its mouth. the fear he felt made him piss his pants, Robert quietly asked his son one more question, because Timmy always told the truth: "Where...where's Fluffy now, son?"

Timmy said, "Right behind you, dad."

This story is the copyright (2009) of Charles Spencer. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted, by electronic means or otherwise, without the express permission of the author.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Women Warriors, Part One: YUKARI OSHIMA

Years ago, when in college, I found out about Hong Kong action films the same way most everyone in the West did: thanks to the extraordinary movies of Jackie Chan, which were finally being brought to the States by mainstream means. (Raise your hand if you remember "Rumble in the Bronx"! It wasn't his best movie by any means, but there was a lot more to come...Jackie's older films became accessible, along with new efforts ever since.) As great as Jackie is, though, he consequently turned us on to all manner of great films and the talents responsible for them from Hong Kong. In my case, I became aware of a sub-genre of HK films in particular known as the 'Girls With Guns' films, and I haven't been the same since.

What is more attractive than a beautiful woman? Watching a beautiful woman defy convention and kick serious ass, that's what. This is the start of one of many installments in which I'll give you an idea to what makes me tick by telling you about things and people I love. Without a doubt, I love the 'Girls With Guns' films and other movies from HK and Japan that aren't afraid to bring us women who can kick my ass easily, but are so beautiful (in more ways than one) I couldn't care less as long as I get to watch.

One of the first 'Girls With Guns' actresses I couldn't help but notice was Yukari Oshima.

Just looking at Yukari's beautiful repose as she gave a hard-as-steel stare at an opponent got my attention instantly. Unlike most actresses in films, even Hong Kong films where actors have to do their own stunts more often than not, Yukari can honestly fight and it shows in every film I've seen her in. From "Shanghai Express" to "It Takes a Thief", nearly all of her performances show a clear and present fighting ability and power that isn't just as beautiful as she is, what she brings to the screen can be honestly daunting. Each and every move she makes means business. In the classic "Angel", which helped make 'Girls With Guns' films popular in HK, Yukari starred as a truly frightening villain who was as strong as she was sadistic. Due to clear and present prejudice in the HK film industry just because she was from Japan, however, her star never rose as high as it could have. No matter where she goes from here, though, the impression she can leave is undeniable, whether as a hero or villain.

Yukari Oshima certainly made an impression on me...she was my first and foremost inspiration for the title character of my novel, "Hell Knight". :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm back, and with an increasing appreciation for something...

First and foremost, though, I wanted to wish Yen the very best...whatever is happening, I hope you're all right, dear friend.

I'm sorry for the lapse, I've had a few things get in the way. One of them research when I wasn't having one thing or the other for that bugaboo called 'life in general' getting in the damn way. Bah, I'm back anyhow and doing as okay as anyone can be!

So maybe you're asking what my research was into...maybe you couldn't give a damn less. I'll tell you anyway:

In one word, steampunk.

Some of you will come across this saying "Huh?", while others will brighten like a gaslight lamp. For those who don't know, a little explanation (in a nutshell with thanks to Wikipedia). Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction heavily influenced by the 19th Century 'scientific romances' of Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells, and would therefore be set in the Victorian Era between 1837 and 1901. This was both an extended period of prosperity for the British, and a time of great change and industrial revolution in the United States. Steampunk fiction envisions a world where steam still drives the world in Victorian times, but anything or everything else is different or brought far in advance of what is historically known. Think an alternate universe where paths that hadn't been taken were taken, and you'll have a good grasp of what steampunk is all about.

Two of the best mainstream examples of steampunk can be found from similar places. One is "The Wild, Wild West", the 1960's television series with Robert Conrad and Ross Martin that was a combination of two genres, the western and science fiction. (Its time period was still in Victorian times, when Ulysses S. Grant was President, and is therefore considered definitive steampunk.) The other place is the 1999 Will Smith-Kevin Kline film inspired by that program...the movie sucked, but its conventions and creations still held true to the sub-genre.

Imagine a world of the 19th Century where armies of steam-driven robots are set against one another for world domination. Imagine airships big as skyscrapers cutting through the skies. Imagine things like automobiles and airplanes practically and competently created decades ahead of their time, or computers and rocket ships a century or longer before they began to revolutionize the endeavors of science. Imagine looking at the world through brass goggles instead of rose-colored glasses as you drive or fly through this world.

That's steampunk.

The more I learn about steampunk, the more I learn about steam power...and I wonder to myself why more level heads couldn't have made such a world a reality. Fault human beings for not being perfect and putting our brain cells to use where it really counted, I guess. But I've been researching both real Victorian Era history and steampunk, and needless to say...I've been given a few good ideas.

I won't share them with you right away...but there will be more to come as time marches on.... ^_^