Lifeblood

I killed a man today.

It was extremely slow and painful. For him. See, when the wound opened across his throat – and it was a gaping wound: jagged, forced, slow – the blacks and blues that powered his soul oozed forth in jubilation, an expression of their freedom. They coloured the floor like a starry night, the same hues, the same haze.

I killed a man today.

And when I read the eulogy at his funeral – for, who knew him better than his own father, who had been there for all the scrapes and bruises, for when his mother died and the two of us strode step in step, a fresh melancholy forcing upon us a weight we’d previously been oblivious towards – not a tear was shed.

I killed a man today.

This man was a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile, an arsonist, a torturer, a spy, a collaborator, a human trafficker, a drug dealer, no, pusher, a slaver-owner, a loan-shark and a thief. But he was also a father, a son, a husband and lover, a doctor, an inspiration to many, a hero, a volunteer firefighter, a deacon, and a maker of lists.

I killed a man today.

And in the blink of an eye, everything he was came to an end. As though the pages of his life were doused in kerosene and lit ablaze. And in the void left by his body remained only smouldering embers, the last shrieks of his once-boundless energy slowly coming to a close. A lesson in entropy.

I killed a man today.

And I did it because his life-line came to an end. There was a moment of rising action that needed a catalyst, and so he became our Ferdinand, our Bouazizi, our Caesar. I made sure to see he would never fade from history.

I killed a man today, because the value of his blood, moreso than his breath, was the only thing that could keep my story’s heart beating.

—-

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “Who is this chud?”

And, frankly, it’s a fair question. You see, my name’s Joseph. And I went to school with all of these folks. I’m a friend of the others. I also write. And I have a blog where I do so. But, this piece? Doesn’t really fit my theme. What theme, you might be thinking? I’ll concoct a fitting answer one day.

I don’t have some fancy signature at the end of each post, nor do I have a propensity to reference anything whose name includes at least one letter (That’s a lie; See Paragraph 5 above). I know nothing of frat houses, accidental deaths, or the ingredients of beer. I hold Shakespeare and mud in the same esteem; high, because who the hell doesn`t like mud?

So what I wanted to do, to spare my lovely chaps and chapettes the need to write something for this lovely, soon-to-be-snow-filled Canadian Friday (except for Ani, American scum.) was to write something small and thought-provoking.

I have done so.

And as destiny dictates, now I need coffee.

Cheers,

– Joseph

Kindred

He lay motionless on the dull teal carpet. There’s hardly any furniture in the rooom, save for the cream colored sofa, a matching loveseat, and a television in the corner. Various magazines, and books with stickers of the public library’s barcode on them make up the surface of a nearby coffee table. The phone atop the most recent TV Guide continues to ring.

***

Our maroon Dodge Caravan pulls into a neighborhood of townhouses, passing by those mailboxes that are shared by multiples residents. I tell myself I’ll never have one of those, as we reach the driveway where a Volkswagen Jetta is parked. Standing immediately next to it is Bhajan Uncle, a man in his 60s, about 5’8, with salt and pepper hair, and a matching mustache and beard. He smiles, and adjusts his glasses as he makes his way over to the van, sliding the backdoor open to reveal my brother in the backseat, and me clutching a Sony PSP in my lap. I slide over, careful not to stretch the wire leading to the tape deck.

“Pinky saab (sir),” he exclaims, “thank you for taking me along with you every Sunday.” He takes a seat next to me, slides the van door closed, and says hello to my mom sitting in the passenger seat ahead.

“I made you that curry you like,” my mom says, handing him a container of the saffron sauce.

“You’re too kind bhabhi-ji (sister-in-law),” Bhajan Uncle laughs, “taking care of an old guy like me, you know.”

“It’s no problem at all Bhajan saab,” my dad chimes in, steering us out of the neighborhood, as we make our way to temple.

***

Doctors said it was a heart attack, and that they were lucky to have received the call when they did. They won’t say how long he’d been laying there, but thank God for people still calling to wish others a happy new year. While I type up an Excel spreadsheet, my mom walks into the back office with the phone.

“He’s right here, talk to him, and don’t worry, you’ll feel better in no time, and come visit soon.” Her rapid succession of thoughts bother me, as if she was reassuring herself more than the person on the other end. She points the cell phone at me, and despite making a face, I put it to my ear.

“Hello?”

“Jaskaran!” Bhajan Uncle’s hearty voice greets me, and I feel my eyes getting moist. “How are you beta (son)?”

“I’m good uncle, how are you?” My voice slightly shakes. “You gave us quite a scare.”

“Just old age, you know,” he continues. “How’s everything? How’s school going?”

“Graduated now.”

“Congratulations. Making your mom and dad proud, you know.”

“Talk to dad now.” I hand off the phone, and listen to his voice trail off, citing good health and promises to visit.

***

The van whisks by the other cars on the highway, as I try to remember when this tradition started, of bringing Bhajan Uncle along with us to temple. He stops by the Exxon all the time, for coffee and small talk, and he’s a friend of the family’s, but I realize I know very little about him. He makes my parents CDs of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan songs. He’s single, and has been for some time. They tell me he’s been married once, but it’s rampant speculation at best, as he doesn’t says a word, nor does anyone ask. He repeats things a lot. He’s enamored by my MP3 player’s ability to hold multiple songs, and often asks in intervals how I “record” them. After a while, he starts asking me about artists’ names, and commenting on the songs I play. He’s a history buff, having been in the U.S. since the 60s, and knows a great deal about everything. He reads a lot, and him and I share a fondness for going to the public library. He talks of reading the Qur’an while finding similarities among all the holy books. He’s a fascinating man I know absolutely nothing about.

***

I stare at the pile of laundry on my bed. For a day off, Saturdays are usually spent engaging in such mundane activities. I never get up to put the clothes away, nor do I ever dust my room or vacuum with the same amount of energy I use to try on clothes or admire myself in the mirror. I just stare; out the window, at the computer screen, at a television that’s not even on, or just at the poorly vacuumed carpet below my feet. My mother calmly enters and sits down on the chair by the door, phone in hand, resting her head against the wall.

“Ma, what happened?” My brother jolts up in bed, afraid he’ll be criticized for slouching again. I take the headphones out of my ears, and listen for something, anything, but my mom refuses to speak, continuing to rest her head.

“Bhajan Uncle,” she begins, her voice low. My heart sinks. My stomach follows. I don’t want to hear it. “He’s in a coma.” The room is silent, save for a bit of music that escapes my headphones.

“But we just talked to him,” I stand up now, “and he was fine, he sounded better, and wasn’t he out of the hospital when we talked to him?” I find myself folding laundry.

“We don’t know the details, he just–it doesn’t look good. They’re saying they’ll have to put him on life support.”

“We just talked to him, Ma. He sounded fine. What are they even doing over at that hospital? Are they not monitoring his vitals? A man doesn’t just slip into a coma.”

I hear how irrational that sounds; waiting room talk. A man does just slip into a coma. A man who’s had heart problems in the past. A man who lives by himself, with very little interaction with others, outside of getting gas and groceries. My mom blames the move, and our reluctance to insist he come visit more often. She says he could’ve stayed at our place, and felt more at home here, in the company of his own food and people. She says she’s happy that I got a chance to talk to him.

***

He calls me the ronaki (jolly) son.I don’t go to temple every Sunday morning, or even Friday nights. It’s nothing against the establishments themselves. It just doesn’t feel like my temple. I hear how irrational that sounds. A stack of Nusrat CDs collect dust in our basement, on a shelf that also houses old cassettes and VHS tapes. He used to give me money for my birthday, and tell me to buy CDs with it. I haven’t gone back in three years, and this is not the homecoming I want. I watched my Mazda get sold off my driveway–turning miles to kilometers–distances I’m unfamiliar with. He’s seven hours away from us. This new one hails from 2010, an Altima, my alternate, that ultimately fails to live up to its name (again). Sometimes I just drive around in it, getting used to it, getting lost on purpose, while street signs blur to tear stains to the soundtrack of Schindler’s List. Life support from comatose, all I’ve got is all I wrote, and all I have for you is hope, to die another day. Please.

Updated on February 2, 2013. Reprise. Remorse. Regret. I’ll never get to talk to him again. My tears can’t even visit. You deserved better than you were given.

— AaJ Ki baat phir nahi hogi, yeh mulaqaat phir nahi hogi;
aise badal toh phir bhi aayenge, aisi barsaat phir nahi hogi.
(The words spoken today will never be spoken again, and never again shall we meet;
so while the clouds will still continue to form, such rain will never repeat.)

The Seeker Part II

“SUPRISE!” everyone shouted. Dan hated birthdays, and he hated surprise parties. Luckily, this wasn’t his party. He was only here because Sarah was here. Dan thought that he was a pretty cool guy. He was president of his fraternity. He worked out on a daily basis, and casually drank. He smoked the occasional joint, went to the occasional class, picked up the occasional girl, and had casual sex with the most phenomenal women.

Except Sarah.She somehow managed to dodge his charm. The party was for some sophomore, who Dan sort of knew, but he was more a friend of one of his frat brothers. He was actually skipping a social mixer with one of the sororities of ill-reputed women to be here, so it better be worth it he thought.

“Yo want a drink?” Matt said, as he handed Dan a glass.

“What is it?”

“Dock 57 Spiced Whiskey, straight. It is really smooth man.” It was smooth. Not as smooth as Dan thought he was. But Dan had also drank the better part of a fifth of vodka. It was too warm in the house. Too many people in here, Dan thought, as he stumbled to the front door. The door was already wide open, letting the night’s warm summer air into the already hot house. Damn student housing, with no air conditioning.

That’s when he saw her outside having a cigarette with a group of people he didn’t recognize. Now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever. He hated it when music seemed to give him advice. Especially when Bon Jovi gave him advice. But he followed it. Stumbling out of the door, he joined the group of smokers, right across from Sarah.

“Man, it is so hot.”

“Yeah.” she said, “How do you know David?”

“Oh, just a friend of a friend.” he said.

The rest of the conversation was sort of a blur. What Dan did remember was being corralled back into the super hot house.

“Why are we back in here?” he asked Matt, “It is so hot.”

“The cops came, too many people outside, something about noise violation. You seem wasted man, slow down a little?”

“Cheers.” Dan said slamming back the rest of his little red Solo cup of beer. He was back outside. He was smoking again. They were standing around in a new circle discussing the various scientific reasons that a group of turtles exposed to nuclear waste would evolve into English speaking man sized ninjas, who love pizza and fight crime. It was an amazing discussion and he would definitely re-use it at the next party he was at.

“Everyone please go inside. This is your second warning. Next time we will be shutting you down.” The flashing lights. Blurred motion and slurred voices. The gunshots. The screams, and the running.

If Dan had been sober, he would have seen what looked like a few drunk kids about his age rushing the police. He would have heard the second officer,  the one still beside the cop car, shout “Hey, what are you doing? Stop!”. He would have heard the kids growl back. Literally growl back. Dan would have seen the cop draw his pistol and aim at the kids. He would have seen the Coca-Cola red of their eyes, the blood lust. If he stood closer, he would have seen the bullet hole rip through the kids, and the kids keep moving, pulling down both cops, tearing into their flesh.

But Dan didn’t see it, and he didn’t hear it. In the confusion, people in the house pushed their way out. Dan was sent sprawling onto the front patio. He didn’t hear anything, and he didn’t see anything. He was out cold.

Dan woke up, with the mid day sun hot on his face. His face planted on the concrete. He groaned a little bit. “Out cold outside. Again.” he thought. He turned his head and saw the flashing lights of a cop car. “Shit”. he said. He started to sit up and saw her “What was her name, Sarah. Damn it is gonna be a long day.” His head was on fire. She was about six feet away, hunched over. She had that hunch like she couldn’t make it to the toilet fast enough to expel her stomach’s contents. At least I can ride with her, gives me some common ground, he thought. He turned his head to look for the cops.

When he turned back, Sarah was on all fours racing towards him. “Man, I am still so drunk. Is she growling? Wait why are her eyes so red?” And then it hit him. Well, her teeth actually hit him, and tore out his throat.

Dear Charlie,

I want to know that there’s still people out there who
even if they could’ve slept with that person at that party, chose not to
I think I’m starting to realize that our generation is so desensitized, dehumanized
I’m starting to realize that most people are empty husks with empty eyes
I’m starting to worry that I’ll never meet anyone with substance, or amount to anything, or stop being hypocritical about outward appearances.
I’m starting to wonder if I’ll face the world with reluctance, only able to recount the small things, or start being hypothetical about inward coherence.

I’m profound, so profound but who cares?
I just want to learn to be happy when you’re not there
I need a different type, no, scratch that – a different life
This one’s fleeting, I’m afraid it’s devoid of meaning

I don’t want to look for Alaska anymore
I just want to look for myself
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
Truly, they are in ourselves

In a universe of probability, each dead-set belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy
And you know life is for the living, but so is love, and I’m not so willing

We’re all just cats chasing our tails
Living and re-coloring a past that’s over
Said and done, failed
At the end of the last day
and I’m on your driveway, pulling away
when all’s really black and gray,
my eyes only see sepia tone.
I really never could just leave it
Or worse, go it alone

Charlie, you’re right – these pictures of me
Look happier, more infinite than I’ll ever be

Love always,
-Ani wants more than this life

Jekyll/Hyde

Hi guys. It is the weekday and I have been drinking. This is its brain child:

Forward

Hey you,
Ya you,
Standing in the corner looking blue
Who are you today, Mister?
Jekyll or Hyde? Or do you miss her?
Better think quick or you’ll miss me
Probably should’ve thought of that before you kissed me

But it’s 2AM and you’re not here
I’m not sure if it’s you I hold dear
Have I turned you into a metaphor
The perfect thing worth fighting for?
Or are you just another wallflower?
Turned prince, turned ashes for an hour

Clock struck midnight and you’re still here
Why can’t you just be clear?
Fairy tale night, this isn’t it
You’re just a frat boy, full of shit
Oh you like the same bands I do?
Whatever, whatever, that’s nothing new
Man, I swear, I already knew
This is all the same, through and through

Friends with your friends but that’s worse
Don’t want to get along with you, it’s a curse
Kiss me goodnight, don’t kiss me goodbye
Too bad, sober, you can never say hi

Peace out, moving on
This is a promise, I don’t belong
I’m no siren, there’s no song
I better keep myself strong
No, you were in the wrong
Strung me out all along

I’m off, I’m done, no more
This isn’t worth fighting for
Heading off to explore
A better me, unopened doors

-Ani should start wearing pants

Osama Unchained

Django UnchainedDjango Unchained (2012)

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Written by: Quentin Tarantino

Cinematography by: Robert Richardson

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson

Rating: A-

It’s often been said that Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make movies, but rather, he remakes them, in his own image, thereby creating a unique, if not a brand new template by which to measure the genre. With Django, he tackles a spaghetti western as only he can, by including a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), a freed slave (Jamie Foxx), a sadistic plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his loyal house slave (Samuel L. Jackson). Toss in a bucket load (quite literally) of violence and excellent dialogue, and you’ve got a film that isn’t afraid to tread uneasy water with a smile (and blood) on its face. We’ve seen flourishes of the genre’s influence before, be it in Kill Bill Vol. II or Inglorious Basterds, but this is his definitive western, through and through. When I read the script about two years ago, the characters and dialogue, as to be expected, lept off the page, and unlike his previous films, I couldn’t quite figure out how he’d pull it off from page to screen. Rest assured however, that every actor absolutely relishes in his part, and the performances only elevate the film to a level I never expected.

With Waltz, Tarantino has found the perfect vehicle (second only to perhaps Sam Jackson) who can take his words and render them almost poetic in their delivery. While similar Foxx doesn’t have much to say, but through close ups and wide shots, Django’s eyes do much of the talking. DiCaprio deserves the highest honor in my book, for nailing a part that is quite literally batshit crazy at times, and has no template, not to mention it completely goes against type for him. A special shout out of Sam Jackson, who I can’t recall devouring a role like this in some time. Nowhere is the issue of slavery, and racism, so brilliantly conveyed, than in the relationship between DiCaprio and Jackson, and likewise, Jackson’s view on Foxx and Waltz. Poor Kerry Washington, despite being an exceptional actor, has very little to do other than stand around (quite literally) looking pretty as the damsel in distress. Sure, she’s the motivation, but I would’ve liked to see more scenes with her and Foxx at the helm.

This just leaves the often imitated, but never duplicated, Quentin Tarantino. It’s hard to deny that the man has impeccable vision, and does everything in his power to do right by it, from the casting, right down to the musical cues. This isn’t a film that just anyone could’ve made, even with the script in hand. There’s a passion for the material, a real labor of love, that only he can get across, because make no mistake; even given the subject matter, this is an entertaining flick. You’ll find yourself smiling, squirming, and just being in awe at what transpires on screen, because no matter what you think you know, or how you feel, this film will turn that upside down and make you feel and think differently.

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Written by: Mark Boal

Cinematography by: Greig Fraser

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke,
Joel Edgerton, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini

Rating: A

I remember writing, back when The Hurt Locker came out, that there wasn’t another film that year, that made me sit at the edge of my seat, simply observing such an intimate and intricate situation unfold around a group of people. I didn’t expect any less from the next film from screenwriter/director duo Mark Boal/Kathryn Bigelow (respectively) when I heard it was going to be about the CIA’s decade long battle in trying to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Rest assured, I was not disappointed. This film is every bit as intricate, intimate, and immensely detailed, if not more so, than Hurt Locker. In fact, I’d say Renner’s character in Locker and Chastain’s character of Maya here have a lot in common, in that that they both couldn’t possibly see themselves doing anything but what they’re doing. This hunt for bin Laden is her entire life, and when it finally comes time to take him out at a compound in Pakistan, as an audience, you’re right there with her. If I had to compare her to another cinematic character, I’d say the film plays very much like David Fincher’s Zodiac, in following a story that spans years, and a character looking to find some solace, some justice, and some justification in what he/she is trying to accomplish, to the point of becoming obsessed.

Jessica Chastain has been impressing me with every film she decides to take on, but this one is hers and hers alone to carry, despite the various, and often times excellent, supporting cast, consisting of Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, James Gandolfini, Mark Duplass, among many more. This film lives and breathes the environment it presents at every turn, and I’ll be honest, for those not entirely familiar with the history (myself included), there’s a lot to take in, be it names, information, events, etc. The film doesn’t slow down in that regard, but in doing so, it displays the full scope, the highs, the lows, the mistakes, the missteps, the outright failures, as well as the successes of the work that went into the task at hand. Chastain’s Maya handles it all pitch perfectly, and you’ll forget you’re even watching a film.

Kathryn Bigelow, I’ll admit, was not on my rader pre-Hurt Locker. Yes, I’ve seen Point Break, but as far as I’m concerned, Hurt was a revival of a career perhaps long in the making. She presents material in sometimes the most simplistic way, but as an audience, you still get the complexities behind it. The same can be said of Mark Boal, as this is his third written feature (and second with Bigelow), and yet, he handles the subject matter with such expertise, capturing governemnt bureaucracy at its absolute worst, even when it’s poised to shine with the capture of bin Laden–an event, that as close as it may have brought a grieving nation together a decade later, and it is obviously a huge moment in the film’s final half, was still not a sure fire yes or no, or even fully agreed upon decision for that matter. It’s a film that will stand the test of time, because it dared to step up and just show, and not tell, and allow us to think and feel what we will of it.

History changed. History made. They truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

The Seeker

The door groaned out in agony under the sole of his boot. His cold blue eyes scanned the room. It was pitch black, but he could still see. Years of training, years in the field. The darkness held nothing new for him. His sight was good, but not perfect. He had nearly a sixth sense. He could hear them.

Three.

Reaching down to his side, his fingers grazed over the handle of the ancient knives. The wooden grips felt like cold stone under his fingers as they embraced his grip. The tips of his fingers kissed the cool wood, whispering promises of warm blood to cover the cold steel edges. The gentle hum coming from the next room nearly covered the soft sound of naked flesh peeling off of ceramic tile.

“I do not seek you. I wish you no harm. I seek that which is beyond you. Let me pass unless you are the one who seeks the beyond.” he spoke the words calmly. This was not the first time the words came from his lips. They filled the room with an old authority, but the words were met by silence. Only the mechanical hum from behind the door answered him.

“You” a voice hissed, “seek… what is … ours —” The voice was cut off abruptly before it could continue. The creature stopped sliding forward and jerked back as a knife cut through the articulate sack of flesh and penetrated what could be considered it’s eye. It let out a piercing cry of pain and the movement in the room paused.

Paused, but did not stop.

The sack of articulate flesh fell back with the hilt of an ancient knife driven deep into its eye, as a second dug equally as deep. The cool metal of the blade nestledinto the hole where the hissing voice resided. A third knife was already primed to be thrown, while his left hand fell to his hip and wrapped around the hilt of the sabre which had protected him for years.

His eyes scanned the room, and his ears twitched under pressure. Breathing. Two left.

“What you consider yours is mine by right. Move aside and live.” The Seeker stated coolly as his blue eyes shot out blindly into the the darkness. With his sight useless, all he had to rely on was his ears. 

Nothing. The seconds dragged on for what seemed an eternity before he heard anything above the hum.

His third knife flew through the air and his aim was true. The blade dug into the flesh of the second creature and it let out a sigh of almost relief, as it fell forward. But that was not what concerned him.

He was proud of his night vision. He considered himself one with the darkness. Most of those he had trained with had a hard time even seeing in the dark let alone being able to hit a target. He embraced it. He felt at ease in it.

“Die seeker.” a voice hissed in his ear. The Third.

He was surprised that this thing knew what a Seeker was. The Enclave had been installed long after the Cleansing. Long after these creatures had run into this dark hole. A Seeker of the Light. A Seeker of Relics, a Seeker of Life and a Seeker of Death. It was his honor bound duty to seek that which would help cleanse the world, those relics of the Old People which the Enclave could use to tame the wild. He sought whatever it was that made that sound. That intoxicating groan of whatever machine stood working away for eons in this hole.

He felt the dry peeling skin of an arm wrap itself around him. Such strength, he thought. His left wrist snapped to his side, locking his sabre in the scabbard half drawn. His right arm pinned to his side.

“Seeker, you are mine.” it hissed, as a second arm wrapped itself around his nose and mouth smothering the life out of him.

The darkness began to get darker. More inviting. Death sought it’s Seeker.

But that metallic groaning from the next room… so close to his prize.

The Seeker kicked backwards and missed his target. Darker yet. His other foot drove back and he felt his spur dig deep into the Thing’s flesh. He closed his eyes and bit down as he drove his spur into the Thing again. Warm, thick, bitter fluid filled his mouth forcing him to gag. The arm flew off his mouth quickly, as a chunk of flesh ripped off in his mouth. The Thing stumbled back into the darkness where it came.

Regaining the situation the Seeker began to draw his saber. But the monstrosity rushed into the Seeker before he could prepare himself. The full force of the Thing hit him and pushed him to the ground. The air escaped his lungs as the flailing mass ontop of him let out a scream. Suddenly silence, suddenly still. A puss like fluid poured out of the monster, as it’s own weight pushed the sabre, nearly completely through itself.

The Seeker shifted the monstrosity’s mass and wretched the sabre free of the Thing’s gut, spilling what little contents it still held. The room began to smell like a latrine. He had heard of monsters such as these ones. Things or People who were left outside when the Old People attempted to cure the Earth. He knew that these things were too wretched to be cured. These monsters, for lack of a better word, lived outside the presence of the light. Those who lived in the dank and dark places, where men only went when they were forced to.

Or of course, if they were seeking something in the dark.

These monsters had no use for food. They ate maybe once a year, and slept for the rest of the time. He would have to clean the puss off when he returned to the Enclave, and more then likely had to spend a week or more in solitary, for being exposed to the impure. It was his duty and he was more then willing to if he found what it was that he was Seeking.

But the smell.

He reached into the pack which was tightly tied to his waist, pulling out a small cloth, and a water-skin. Without effort he pulled the cork out of the bloated water-skin and poured it onto the cloth. Quickly he used the rag to wipe off his arms and sabre. The Thing’s blood may rust through his sword, or possibly burn through his skin over time. He had heard of these Things from other Seekers.

Reaching back into his pack, he produced a small tube. His light beam. He had to find his other knives. Passing the light over the room, his eyes followed the beam, capturing the full room in a brief second. The light flickered and went out within a second of lighting the room. Charging these sacred relics was an art only few knew. But he also could not bare losing his ancient friends.

The groan of the machine behind the door, brought him to a new level of ecstasy. He had been seeking this for weeks. The after-image of the room still glowed in his mind. He stepped over the scaly three-armed monstrosity which his sabre had ended and approached the man-blob where his first dagger hit home.

The man-blob lay, crumbled in a heap of blood, puss and flesh. The dagger had hit him just under his mouth. It’s mouth seemed to be where the abdomen normally was on a human. That is, if humans were creatures defined as having a head, and limbs. This thing lacked those very basic defining attributes. What it had was flesh, a face, and a dagger right below it’s mouth, and another in it’s eye.

“Aim for the sound.” The Seeker thought silently as he withdrew the dagger “Rarely will you miss.”

He walked over to where the third creature fell. This one looked human. Fully human. But there was something wrong with her flesh. It was the colour of blood. In the quick flash of light from his relic, the Seeker could see that her skin was fully transparent. He rolled her onto her back. With a smooth motion he pulled the dagger straight out of her throat.

“What a trio” He thought nearly casually. His mind now focusing all of it’s energy on what laid beyond the metal door at the end of the room. The metallic groans and hisses pushed him to hurry, to celebrate a job well done.

He placed his knives back into their holsters on his belt, adjusting his sabre. If he knew what was on the other side of that door, the Seeker would have abandoned the Light and the Enclave.

But he did not know what was behind it, and he opened the door.

Let’s pretend Tuesday is Friday

AKA my bad. Life took over and kicked my ass. Got back to Dartmouth. Taking a 150% course-load so you know, academia.

Anecdote of the day:
Girl self-proclaims as libertarian… Immediately goes on to say how we should just pay peoples’ salaries. Ugh. Eye roll. This is AMERICA. That’s some commie talk right there.

Anyway, just bear with me.

10/12/12, turn around.

Heard you might be my savior,
Or maybe you’re Don Draper
So when can we get married?
No wait, that’s just me getting carried
Away I mean, not a way to you
Nope, I’m still Trudy through and through
Not just Brie, but a lack of belief
This is just me, bearing my teeth

I run in circles, chasing the sun
Jumping hurdles, in a race already done
Maybe I’m close and no one’s won
And it’s off to the races, smoking guns

An enigma wrapped around a dream
Nah, just need you to want me
Nothing can be that good as it seems
Waiting to burst at the seams
Flash, give me fallibility
Flash, give me more reality
Or are we invisible monsters after all
Can’t look away, I’m too enthralled

Patience hit the furthest mark
The more you get, the less you spark
I know there’s someplace we can go
to strengthen ourselves
to let go of fear

Went for it, bit late don’t you think?
Sent for this, checkmate, clink
Stand off, Cold War, cold drink
No walls high enough, don’t blink

Base fears don’t disappear
Fight or flight all too clear
Base hearts don’t age
And base people don’t change
But what’s in a name
When in endless game
All one in the same
Oh you came? Such a shame.
Shrug off, I’m not that callous
Vulgar maybe but not tactless
There’s a prettier way
To say Eve couldn’t get it in

This cobra whispering,
I think of you as a sin
We play our card for our youth
Kids are harder they drift at dark
Patience hits the furthest mark
We play our card for our youth

I know there’s someplace we can go to strengthen ourselves to let of our fears.

– Ani, and the ever pressing case of do I go in for the hug or handshake

Tom Cruise is the Eight Psychopath

Seven PsychopathsSeven Psychopaths (2012)

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Written by: Martin McDonagh

Cinematography by: Ben Davis

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell,
Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken

Rating: B+

There’s a moment, about an hour into this flick, where a struggling screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell) discusses with Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken), how he sees his latest script (also called Seven Psychopaths) ending: with the main characters, in a secluded desert, doing nothing but talking, and contemplating life–a stark contrast from the violence on display in the first half, and much to Billy’s dismay, without a massive shootout. It’s not the first time in the film that the line between Marty’s script, and the actions/characters unfolding on screen begins to blur, but it’s perhaps the most concrete example of the two mediums finally (and somewhat blatantly) converging. It’s hard to really talk about the film without ruining what makes it such a special experience. It’s unconventional, it’s meta, it’s hilarious (yet poignant when it wants to be), and it’s fun, but most of all, it always knows what it is, even when it seems like it has no clue what it wants, or where it’s supposed to be, or even where it’s headed. The cast is tailor made, with Walken delivering his most nuanced performance in years, and Rockwell proving once again why he’s one of the best character actors working today. Farrell doesn’t have much to do other than play it straight, but he plays the part well, only enhancing the performances around him. A special shout out to Woody Harrelson, who manages to strike an absurd balance between being a mobster and a man-child. After In Bruges (2008), Martin McDonagh’s second feature further shows his strength, not just as a director, but as a writer. His ear for dialogue is right up there with Tarantino, and if In Bruges was more melancholy, Psychopaths enjoys being messy with its humor, language  characters, and violent actions.

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher (2012)

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Written by: Christopher McQuarrie

Cinematography by: Caleb Deschanel

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, Robert Duvall, Jai Courtney

Rating: B+

I haven’t read any of the books in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, but I don’t think I necessarily needed to in order to appreciate Christopher McQuarrie’s film. It’s a rather old school film, in that it has all the makings of a suspense thriller of the late 1980s, or early 1990s. Clues are given, leads are followed, and one mystery solved almost always leads to two more in need of being solved. The violence holds nothing back, and the writing is just as smart, sharp, and uncompromising. Tom Cruise didn’t strike me as an odd choice for the role. If anything, I was weary that for Cruise, Reacher would just be a grittier, less gadget equipped Ethan Hunt (of the Mission: Impossible series), but Cruise works well in the part. A stand out would have to be director turned actor Werner Herzog, known for Rescue Dawn (2007), Bad Lieutenant (2009), and Into Abyss (2011), who’s presence as a villain, while painfully minimal, is an absolute delight to watch. McQuarrie is perhaps best known for his screenplay for Brian Singer’s The Usual Suspects (1995), and his directorial debut, The Way of the Gun (2000). Both films seem like excellent gateways into making Jack Reacher. The sense of humor of Suspects serves the character of Jack Reacher well, while the intense violence/action of Way of the Gun is on full display with a striking opening sniper sequence, and a car chase towards the middle of the film that reminded me of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt (1968). I’ve kept my praise solely on McQuarrie for the sole fact that he crafts a film that isn’t remarkable because it’s a fresh take, or because’s it’s old wine in a new bottle; it’s precisely because he understands the aesthetics of what made that particular past genre cinema so effective, and he presents that to us, as is.

Two films with exceptional writing, and the violence to match the verbal at every step.