Sunday, March 18, 2018

A new story- "Sacrifice Obsidian"

Chapter 1

And I came upon the field where there would rest the dead in a day, and it was covered in roses and lilies, wildflowers and brambles, with birds chirping from the nearby meadows. Nary a foot had trodden through this field in the last month, and truly, this field had no significance other than being a random shrug of chance. It would be the last standing place for soldiers fighting in a war that never happened, not recorded in any history book you or I might have read or will read or might have heard about discussed in a cafe, and yet, it had happened, and it will happen, and then it will happen again. There was never any monument to this battle, and there shouldn't have been, and yet there would be, standing in the middle of a field of dirt, later remade into a town square with a quaint shopping mall. There would be no more roses or lilies, no more wildflowers, and the birds would perch atop streetlamps and primitive automobiles rather than the branches of trees.
This shouldn't have happened. This shouldn't happen. I failed.
My estimated probability of reconstruction had fallen below 1%, and I was pulled back forward, leaving another failed mission behind me. I would have to appeal to try again, but given my two previous failures, I wasn't likely to get a fourth.
The Bureau reception room buzzed into focus, and I was greeted by the familiar blank white wall and the smell of clean cotton.
"Tailor 3712, your third attempt to mend the timeline has failed," came the officious voice of the Golem. "Your probability of success fell below 1% and rendered avenues of options moot. The degradation of your genetic makeup has reached 5%. Do you appeal to attempt case number 40PD once more? It is estimated that the degradation of your genetic makeup will reach 8.3% depending on various factors of your interspersion with a standard deviation of 2%. As a reminder: at 10% degradation, we cannot withdraw you without significant damage to your nervous system."
Significant damage... maybe it's a price. They probably wouldn't ask me unless they knew something I didn't. How do I prevent a war that never happened?
"I appeal."
"You will be notified of the decision within 24 subjective solar hours. You may return to your residence. Any attempted unauthorized temporal incursions will result in banishment."
Sounds like they want me to stay.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

My Personal, Absolute Favoritist, Top 50 Movies

Encouraged by an e-mail from an old colleague of mine, as well as watching Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others) the other day, I thought I'd finally compile a list of my favorite movies. The top 10 are in the order in which I prefer them, i.e. numero uno is my favorite of all time. Everything after 10 is just in my general favorites because there are too many to keep in order. The notion of 'best', to me, is just how the movie made me feel with a first viewing, and how enjoyable I found it upon repeated viewings.

1. Shaun of the Dead
2. Shawshank Redemption
3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
4. The Legend of Drunken Master
5. The new Planet of the Apes trilogy
6. Wall-E
7. The Before Trilogy
8. In the Loop
9. Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
10. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
11. The Lives of Others
12. Hero (Jet Li)
13. Airplane!
14. Gattaca
15. Predestination
16. Timecrimes
17. Life of Brian
18. Casino Royale
19. La La Land
20. Enter the Dragon
21. In Bruges
22. Hot Fuzz
23. Star Treks III, IV, and VI
24. Superbad
25. Kung Fu Hustle
26. Dead Man's Shoes
27. 28 Days Later
28. Coming to America & Trading Places
29. Chinatown
30. Being There
31. A Shot in the Dark
32. Black Dynamite
33. Inglourious Basterds
34. The Matrix
35. Office Space
36. Kill Bill (1 & 2)
37. Logan
38. V for Vendetta
39. Lord of the Rings trilogy
40. Midnight in Paris
41. Annie Hall
42. Born to be Blue
43. Dragons Forever
44. The Full Monty
45. The Indiana Jones TRILOGY
46. Dr. Strangelove
47. Network
48. 3 Idiots & Dangal (for the sake of saving space)
49. Blade Runner & 2049
50. Children of Men

Now that I've made the list, I realized just how many films I had to exclude that I loved: The original Star Wars trilogy, Ex Machina, Galaxy Quest, Four Lions, The Dark Knight, Ghostbusters, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Lethal Weapon, Inception, 48 Hours, Kick Ass, John Wick, Groundhog Day, Minority Report, The Blues Brothers, the El Mariachi Trilogy, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Once, Ratatouille, Road to Perdition, Saving Private Ryan, Ferris Bueller, Forrest Gump, Snatch, Trainspotting, Spirited Away, The Dirties, basically all of Pixar (not Cars though), The Man from Earth, Ocean's 11, They Live, etc. There are also a bunch of smaller films I've seen over the years that I liked but have forgotten, sadly enough. 50 isn't enough space!

That's all for now,
Das Flüg

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

See You, Space Cowboy

It's been a hot minute or two, I know; I can't believe it either. I'm sure I meant to write something new at some point, but maybe I just couldn't muster up the gall to write anything because I didn't know what to write. That's not to say I've been depressed or worried or frightened; not in the least. I've been busy, both working and living and loving life and generally taking moments to appreciate where I am and all the details of the day: the smell of sunset, the ripples of bark in a tree, the serenity of a long, open field with trees waving in the distance; it's been positively lovely.
There are things to talk about happening in the world and in the US, horribly sad and unbelievable and unconscionable things that some people thought wouldn't happen. It's hard to say, honestly, if it's possible to compress down everything into bite-sized, amenable portions that would enable the average person to have a firm grasp on some issue. For instance, 'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli was sentenced to prison for 7 years for defrauding investors. It's an encouraging story on the surface, but he wasn't convicted of price-gouging an essential medicine for AIDS patients, rather for maintaining a pyramid scheme and embellishing money from his companies. His supporters argue that he raised the price of the drug to 'encourage research into a newer drug' and that 'the costs would be paid out by insurance companies rather than the patient', but then they seem to ignore that insurance companies can raise premiums based on estimated costs of care.
And of course, there are other things, but it's not really my place in life to comment on everything that comes up. Crazy, I know: someone with a blog not venting their opinion on every little thing that comes up. It's as if maybe trying to make your opinion heard throughout the whole gorram 'verse isn't all that important unless you're someone who, A. actually understands an issue thoroughly, or has relevant firsthand experience to add nuanced detail to an issue, and 2. it really sets your trousers on fire. For me, the general world's plethora of shit arouses reactions and emotions and resignations of disgust or frustration, but for me to accord some notion that I can and should shape someone's opinions on something? Unless I'm well-versed, I'll just keep learning.
And anyway, there's too much to do in life to be constantly angry or frustrated or lament against the machine. I don't even know how to swim! And I've never traveled to Mongolia. Maybe I should do those things first before I choose to be angered by something small that doesn't truly affect me or my friends or the greater world at large.
I've also never eaten escargot, but that's probably because it's disgusting.

That's all for now,
Das Flüg

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It's said that the greatest forms of expression and creativity come in a person's 20s. The oldest member of The Beatles was 29 when they broke up (Ringo). David Bowie was 26 when he made Aladdin Sane. F. Scott Fitzgerald published The Great Gatsby when he was 29, but developed the story over the course of two to three years.
Perhaps it is the untempered idealism of youth that drives artists, writers, poets, and painters to express themselves so fully through their work; after all, this is the age on a bridge, leading from the innocence of childhood to the weathered extremes of adulthood. Perceptions of freedom and possibility narrow as we get older and as we decide on how we want to spend the rest of our lives. It's natural; we do, after all, have to pay the bills and fill our bellies somehow.
This is why I say to everyone in their 20s, stop. Look around you. Where are you? Where did you think you'd be a year ago, five years ago? Where did you want to be? Where do you want to be?
Obviously, not everyone will be the same. Some people will be hard at work on their passions. Those people should be admired and saluted; oftentimes it's grueling and sometimes it won't pay enough to support them, but they are trying. They are putting their best effort into it and they are working towards some tangible goal, and they will do anything to get there. Maybe they are trying to become professional actors, maybe they are trying to develop a business from the ground-up; whatever the case, they are alive.
And then, there are the lost. The wanderers. The uncertain. Those who find a job to get by and settle so far into that job that they become the change between the couch cushions. Day in and day out those jobs are the same- you know exactly what you will be doing in a year, five years, ten years. For some people, that's OK. If you need a stable paycheck and if it can help fund your life outside of work, then by all means, keep going.
But if you're in a job like that and you hate it, then why not move on? Why not push out, dive into something different, take a class, change careers, go abroad, join the Peace Corps? Use that money you saved and do something amazing with your time. If there was a passion that you had and suddenly you no longer have time for, why not delve right back into it? There are millions upon millions of unexplored possibilities in the world to end whatever doldrums might plague you; why not go for it?
I know of a person who insists that they want to become a journalist. They want to talk about entertainment and politics and report on whatever is late and breaking in the hour; however, when it comes to leaving the job towards which they are decidedly apathetic, they waver. The uncertainty of not having an income for even a brief period, or of getting lower pay, seems daunting.
But, money tends to come when you're good at something. And the more you do that thing, the better you'll be at it. Even if it's difficult in the short term, you at least learn how to turn difficult into intermediate.
So, why all this inspirational whatsit? Because I'm jumping right off my job and starting something completely, unfathomably new, and goddamn am I excited that I have no idea what I'll be doing in a month, a year, three years. The uncertainty just means that anything is possible, and infinite possibilities means infinite discovery. There is nothing more tantalizing.

That's all for now,
Das Flüg

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Let it roll, let it roll

I look at my hands often. It's an unconscious reflex, and I usually catch myself doing it in the act, as if it were taboo. There are always new lines on them, lines I don't recall ever being there. They're a bit rougher than they used to be, slightly more scarred and creased. It's an odd way of keeping track of the years that pass by, but it's not as if I have a mirror with me everywhere I go.
The strange thing is that I recall my hands always looking similar. The usual lines are there, those that the girls in summer camp trace with their fingers and use to tell your fortune, whether you'll be rich or poor or happy or sad, all because your hands fold at the right angle. All those calluses that have built up over years of exercise remain, and are just a little bigger now, probably.
And sure, you might say that I'm still young; there's a long while before my hands actually start to turn into shower prunes permanently. But the fact remains that the signs are there: these manos are getting mangier, regardless of how old I am at the moment.
Do other apes realize the gradual difference? Do they feel aware of their mortality as they get older? Questions to ponder.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nugget of wisdom

If there is one lesson I can impart to you from the totality of my short life, it is to not waste time. It's easy to be bored and allow minutes, hours, years glaze by while you whittle away your life at work or binge TV series on Netflix. God damn it, don't wake up one morning and wonder just how it is that you got so old; stop wasting time! Life's too short to do a job you hate or complain about where you are in life- change it! Change everything! Pick up your belongings and go far, take up a new hobby, go eat something you've never eaten before, change! Go volunteer at a homeless shelter, go join the merchant marines, take up music or painting or martial arts or running or fly fishing! Don't spend your life one regret after the next musing about how much time you had when you were younger, because the moment you are reading this sentence, right now, is the youngest you will be for the rest of your life. Take everything you want and everything you are and make it into everything you will be, god damn it.
You never know when your life may end. That's a fact, that's a goddamn fact, because right now there could be a sudden stroke lurking in the unknown depths of your mind, or some drunken idiot might decide that he or she can still drive despite not being able to walk in a straight line. So what in the hell are you waiting for? Money? Oh, you want to wait until you have your million or ten units of currency to pad your wallet before you go out and live your life. Guess what, people have done more with sand in their pockets. Money isn't an excuse. There isn't one. You can trudge your sorry ass to work every day, looking at all the familiar faces and sights on your commute, letting it all blur into one gloriously interminable wave of time that saps you of everything you were, or you can change. What have you seen of the world? Have you ever actually challenged yourself? Go out there. I dare you. I challenge you. See what you are truly capable of and what really sits beneath the person that everyone knows you as; show us what you think you are. Show us what you can be.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Writing prompt story

Prompts:
-Central London, 1850s
-Lady Gaga
-Fake Blood
-Pair of broken glasses

The clouds billowed, angry and boding on a chilly day, either from the smokestacks or from impending rain; no one was sure which was which anymore. It lent a darkened lens to the carriage ride across Westminster Bridge, where the detective sat, listening to the clock’s tick of the horse’s hooves. The file resting on her lap, carefully purloined from the new Metropolitan Police for half a schilling, contained nothing more than a cursory inspection of the murder scene: blood, a pair of broken glasses, and just a finger to be found of the body.
The victim was believed to be Archibald Smith, a baker whose shop was placed right off Trafalgar Square. There was no sign of forced entry, and all windows were locked from the inside. There was only one way in or out of the room in which Mr. Smith was murdered, or so the report said; the detective would have to see for herself. She snorted, and her associate, John Radcliffe, broke his waking slumber.
“Something tickling you?” he sat back and pet his mustache.
“Only the continuous incompetencies of what we are supposed to believe is a ‘police force’, Radcliffe,” responded the detective, rolling her eyes at the folder. She held it out to Radcliffe. He took it. “Read the last sentence.”
He pushed up his glasses and sat straight.
“From the positioning of the finger on the floor of the crime scene, it is plain to see that whatever interloper made off with Mr. Smith was in an eastward direction towards Holborn-”
The Detective uttered a sudden cackle.
“Sorry Radcliffe, continue.”
“-as indicated by the positioning of the bifocals nearby, which were assuredly dislodged from Mr. Smith’s face in a struggle.”
Radcliffe pursed his lips and eyed the detective from over his glasses.
“I see your doubts as to the direction of flight, but for speculation based on little evidence, it is not incredulous.”
The detective smirked, conveying the usual sense of knowing far more than Radcliffe could. Radcliffe knew the smirk all too well, and he rolled his eyes.
“What do you know?”
She couldn’t hide behind a humble veneer, no matter how much she tried.
“Patience, Radcliffe. I’m sure the constable will be delighted to hear my take on the matter.”
The carriage rolled to bustling Trafalgar Square, filled with music, laughter, and the day’s toils of those wishing they had a pastry, and pulled in front of the bakery, where a bobby was stationed outside the building.
“That’s five schill, love,” said the driver.
“Thank you Radcliffe,” the detective said, leaving before Radcliffe could protest. He pulled out the money and paid the driver, and left the cab just in time to spot the detective power past the flummoxed officer.
“Wait, ma’am! You can’t-”
Radcliffe tapped the officer on the shoulder.
“She usually does. I think she was born this way,” and he strolled into the white brick building as well. Confection immediately filled Radcliffe up to the brim, and his stomach reminded him that he had to watch the baked goodies. The detective was dipping her finger into several of the treats left out and tasting each, though she took time to inspect the various tools left around the counter.
“Radcliffe, come, these are delectable. Beautiful, though slightly dirty given the time they’ve been out, for, 2 days? Still rich, however.”
“I will refrain, for the time being. Shall we proceed?”
The detective sighed.
“If you insist, Radcliffe, though I am in no hurry.”
They proceeded into the back room and up a set of stairs to the loft. A curious mixture of rancid meat and sugar stung the nostrils, and both the detective and Radcliffe covered their noses before entering the room.
“What the- what in the world is this? Who is this woman?” yelled Constable Twickens, bristling at the sight of two interlopers in his crime scene. The two other officers at his side were too shocked to speak.
“Not woman, Constable. Lady. Lady Gaga.”
Constable Twickens’ eyes went wide, and his beard turned a whiter shade of gray.
“Dear Lady, my apologies! I had no idea-”
“No apology is necessary in my honor, Constable, though I recommend you submit your apology to whomever appointed you as Constable. Excuse me.” She walked past Constable Twickens to the middle of the wood-paneled room. A pool of ruby spread out on the floor; a severed finger, grayed and cut finely from the hand, lay closer to the door, and a pair of bifocals lay even closer. Lady Gaga knelt down and bade Radcliffe to her side. He knelt beside her.
“What do you notice, Radcliffe, as a doctor?”
Radcliffe’s dark, shimmering eyes went from the finger to the blood.
“The blood’s still red.”
“Indeed.”
She went to her hands and knees and poked her nose as close to the pool as possible. Constable Twickens recoiled in disgust.
“What in the world are you on about, Lady?”
Lady Gaga dragged her finger through the pool and stood, holding the dripping finger out to Constable Twickens, who appeared ready to forgo meals for a week.
“What in the world!”
“It’s not blood, which you would know, Constable, if you had any notion of logic. In fact, it’s jam.” She shoved the finger in her mouth. “Mm. Strawberry. Convincing, yes, due to the relatively low viscosity. And Radcliffe, how does the severed finger look at its bone?”
Radcliffe pushed up his glasses and leaned towards the finger, holding his nose.
“Smooth cut, very few indentations. Cut directly in the joint between the intermediate phalange and the proximal phalange, from the looks of it. Also, it looks to be several days old, Lady.”
Twickens scoffed and pushed away from Lady Gaga.
“And so what, Lady? There are many knives here-“
“Serrated, yes.”
“-or the suspect could have brought his own!
Lady Gaga shrugged.
“That’s entirely possible. Not probable, mind you, but possible. But, what is truly disconcerting about your utter lack of awareness at this supposed ‘crime scene’ is the pair of glasses, my dear Constable.” She bent over and picked them up while pulling a magnifying glass from a pocket in her dress. “Not a single scuff or dent indicative of the glasses falling on this-” she stomped her foot, “hard floor. The thin metal wiring should have some sort of indenture, but there is nothing.”
She held out the glasses to him. The Constable crossed his arms over his belly and took a few steps towards her, grunting and fighting himself all the way. He took the glasses and peered at them.
“So what, Lady?” he grumbled. “This isn’t a murder scene?”
“No, Constable, this is not. I believe that Mr. Smith is very much alive, and I intend to find him.”
“So you believe he faked his own death? Why?”

“The fame. Perhaps,” she said, “but I believe there’s much more to this case than meets the eye. Come Radcliffe! The game is afoot.”