Immortal Reborn

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The Leader has guided our community, once just a small city now a thriving empire, for hundreds of thousands of years. They came to us from far away and taught us how to work metals and build with stone and how to split the atom. They have lived so long by transferring their memories from one body to another. As a boon, they grant immortality to the hosts by joining their memories. The body dies but the Leader and all the previous hosts live on.

I have known since I was a child that I would be Leader’s next host. When the Leader enters me, our minds will blend until they are the same. And when my body is old the Leader will move to a new chosen and my memories will go with them thus I will not die. Not really.

However, now in my twenty-fourth year, as my physical and mental maturation are at their end, as the day of the joining comes, I fear my death. Will I truly live forever as part of the Leader? They speak of their previous host’s lives like they lived them. Is being remembered the same as living forever?

On the day, I am dressed in white robes and taken down, down, down flights of stairs of metal that turn to concrete then to carved stone and finally to rock. The room at the bottom is plain, carved out of the rock, a single chair in the center. The Leader sits half slumped, eyes closed, shaking with each labored breath. Their attendants guide me to kneel before the Leader. Garlands of metal and stone are draped around both of us. After several minutes, the chief attendant motions and I am separated from the Leader.

The attendants guide me to stand. The transfer has been completed. Slowly I begin to feel the Leader in my mind but I can not hear their thoughts. Their memories are locked away. This is not how -***- said it would be. Who said? Teacher -***- Teacher -***- I can not remember her? His? Their? The memory is gone. Have I forgotten anything else?

I’m scared … I … I am reborn once again. My heart beats rapidly as I draw deep breaths. I am standing for the first time in years. Everything looks, smells, and sounds so much more. Before me, my previous host slumps further in its chair. I step forward and brush my hand against its cheek for the last time. Soon it will expire without my will to sustain it. I motion for my servants to remove it.

I find a slip of paper my hand. I unfold it and read its short message: “Remember your name is Amrita”. I read the name again. There is a flicker of … nothing. I sneer at this pitiful attempt by my host at clinging to some memory.

The name means nothing to me. Why would it? The host is a vessel for my essential self. A vessel is best filled when it is first emptied, after all. I drop the paper and leave for my chambers.

Transformers: The Last Knight Watch Log

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Originally posted on my Tumblr.

I’m watching Transformers: The Last Knight and I just want to scream at how ill-conceived this movie is.

***

I’m an hour and half in and I just remembered the movie started by introducing a kid sidekick, who had her own robot sidekick, that we last saw forty-five minutes ago. Anthony Hopkins is an absolute terror in this movie as he swings from distinguished gentleman to demented old man. Hot Rod has a FRENCH ACCENT FOR NO EXPLAINABLE REASON!! He also has a gun that slows down time. ALSO, the movie needs to decide if these robots bleed green blood or can just fall apart for comedic reasons.

One more thing before I continue this movie: if a character starts a sentence in one location he can not finish it in another. That is not how conversations work even in movies.

***

There is so much wrong with this movie but the worst part is it isn’t a complete movie. If Unicron had only been hinted at then it would have worked as a sequel hook. Until Cybertron arrived and started wrecking earth, Unicron felt like the pressing matter at hand. Also, was Cybertron draining power from Unicon? Did the good guys save Unicron? I’m unclear on that point and many other points. I am torn between wanting to know what ludicrous plot they were going to come up with in the next movie and wanting to scrub this and the previous three movies from my mind.

Rating 1/5

I am looking forward to the Bumblebee movie, which is not directed by Micheal Bay. The transformer designs look much better and hopefully it will be the start of a new series.

Short Random Movie Reviews

Originally posted on my Tumblr.


 

Ant-Man and The Wasp

I went to see the latest Marvel movie today and I really liked it. Like the previous movie, it’s comedy-action with a solid plot. The Wasp gets plenty of action scenes and never gets sidelined. I really liked Ghost, one of the main villains. The recent run of Marvel movies have had great villains like Vulture, Killmonger, and Hela. Ghost continues this trend of villains with understandable motivations.

Fyi: There is a scene after the diorama credits and then another at the end of the regular credits. The last end credits scene is entirely skippable, has no bearing on any other movies, and is not worth watching.

Rating 4/5


 

Monster Trucks

I just watched Monster Trucks, a movie about monster trucks that have literal monsters for engines. It’s a “kid and their monster” type of fun movie. Overall it’s a well made movie with a goofy concept. There aren’t any glaring plotholes and the minor ones can be ignored if you just want to have fun. The characters are pretty shallow but likable. Mostly white cast except for Danny Glover who appears in the beginning, disappears for the bulk of the movie, and then reappears for a couple of scenes near the end.

It’s not art but it was fun to watch once.

Rating: 2.5/5


 

Bright review

I just got done watching Bright on Netflix and I liked. The biggest praise I can give this movie is: it doesn’t get bogged down trying to explain two thousand years of alternate history with elves and orcs and pixies and dragons.

The world just is this urban fantasy and people live there. A centaur cop shows up in the background for like five seconds. A dragon flies through the clouds over LA. Orcs have block parties. Pixies are pest creatures like wasps. Nothing is explained in great detail but because the characters interact like their world is real, it makes sense.

Beyond that, it’s an action cop movie with Will Smith and an Orc. The race metaphor gets hit a little too hard at times. A couple of scenes feel like they linger so Will can ad lib a joke or two but it’s done with restraint.

Rating 4.5/5

Justice League Watch Log/Review

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Originally posted on my Tumblr as I watched the movie.

***

I’m just about to start watching the Justice League movie. Let’s see how bad this is.

***

I’m about halfway through the movie.

Cyborg’s storyline is kinda cool. I liked Barry Allen’s storyline when I saw it in the tv show. Also, they need to cool it with the Barry is horny for Diana “jokes”. Aquaman’s backstory is so ill-defined and so far in the background that if I didn’t know it already it wouldn’t make any sense. Atlantis and merpeople are just a thing now I guess. I don’t know what Diana’s storyline is except to fight and look sexy. Also, Diana has super speed too now I guess. Batman is Batman; so that’s ok.

The action isn’t really wowing me and the plot doesn’t feel super engaging. Maybe it’ll pick up in the second half now that the team is (mostly) together.

***

Yeah having the team together helped a lot. I wish there had just a little bit more of them interacting. Not for the movie to be longer but if they got together like twenty minutes sooner.

Diana’s story came into focus in the second half of the movie a little better. Something about coming out of the shadows and being a shining beacon of hope. We don’t really get to see her take charge of the team just hear about it while they save Batman.

Btw Bruce letting the Kent’s farm get foreclosed on makes no sense. You can not tell me that he wouldn’t have been keeping on eye on Martha Kent after getting her son, Clark Kent aka Superman, killed. At the very least he would have kept the mortgage paid up. That woman has lost everyone in her family. Bruce, my parents are dead, Wayne would not have let her lose the farm too.

That Russian family that briefly appears throughout the movie is obviously there to make the danger personal. Mostly I was confused about what was special about them in particular and later surprised that there were other civilians in the area as well.

Overall not as bad as I thought it would be.

Rating 3/5

Spoilery thoughts below. Continue reading

I’ve had a terrible revelation

Originally posted on my Tumblr.

For the past several months my writing output has been way down. At first, I was really worried but I took a small step back and reminded myself that it’s not unreasonable to slow down and recharge. So I dialed back my expectations and tried to keep writing at a slower pace. This kind of worked but I’ve had to scale back a second time as my output continued to stagnate.

Today I had a revelation as to why my writing has been suffering.

Earlier this year I was moved from the jewelry counter to the sales floor. My writing flow used to be: write story fragments, a few hundred words or so, down during slow periods at the jewelry counter, come home and type up those fragments, and use that as a springboard to write more.

Now that I am working on the sales floor, I don’t have the chance to write anything down. I’ve lost my springboard. I come home and struggle to focus to write because I don’t have that easy jumping on point of typing up what I wrote earlier.

If I could write at work between customers why don’t I just write at home? Answer: At work, the only distraction is the store music, while at home I have podcasts, tumblr, random stories, video games, facebook, email, twitter, netflix, to name a few. At work, I have no choice but to be separated from the constant noise my brain seems to want.

So in conclusion, I think my writing output has gone down because I’ve lost the time I used to have at work, free from distractions, to write bits of stories that I would then type up when I got home thus priming me for more writing. Now I have to figure out a way to fix this, which is going to be easier said than done. I fell into the habit of writing when I typed up the bits I wrote at work.

So, I need to create a new habit for writing. I need to carve out time daily to shut everything off and think about stories. I need to reprogram the (now faulty)routine I’ve been running for the last few years. I’m sure this is going to be a piece of cake.

Random Doctor Who Reviews

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These are a couple of short reviews of Doctor Who episodes from the most recent series. Originally posted on my Tumblr.

My Beautiful Ghost Monument

I just watched the newest episode of Doctor Who. Fairly average Doctor Who episode but the ending, the Doctor reuniting with the Tradis, was marvelously heartfelt. The Doctor has a quick moment of gender confusion that felt very familiar to me as a trans woman. From the first episode, I loved that the Doctor being a woman was not presented as a problem or an issue to constantly commented on. I hope we get more passing (no pun) moments of “trans-ness” (for lack of a better word).

Rating 3.5/5


 

Doctor Who: Rosa Parks

So, I’m several weeks behind on Doctor Who but I’m getting caught up.

The “scifi bad guy” felt lacking in motivation besides being a racist from the future. The “current day bad guy”, aka white people, was horrifically realized without being over the top. The very matter of fact way they enforced segregation and their own “superiority” over black people felt the right kind of wrong.

Vinette Robinson, who played Rosa Parks in the episode, was great. Quiet but with steel bracing her every word. I am glad that the episode showed her as involved in the activism of the time and not just a tired woman.

I was struck by the similarities between the bus driver running off the bus to call the police and the continuing present-day trend of white people calling the police on black people for existing in what they perceive as white spaces.

Overall, I liked the episode but it is emotionally intense in a way that means I probably won’t watch it very often.

Rating 5/5

The Void has Noticed Us and is Hungry

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I had the dream last night. A cloaked tall dark figure stood before me on a desolate plain storm rolled overhead. The figure reached for me a single skeletal finger emerging from its cloak to press against my forehead and then I awoke. We learn about the dream as children. Sometimes it causes nightmares most grow out of the nightmares sometimes they reoccur. I try to find solace in that thought. But if it was the dream I have little time to waste. I roll out of bed, pad across the carpet, down the hall into the bathroom and hesitate before flicking on the light. There on my forehead faintly glowing with golden light is the symbol of the Chosen. I have just one day to live now.

The Chosen are a sacrifice, a gift, a tribute, to something beyond us. Three hundred years ago men seeking power pierced the veil between worlds and something took notice of us. Our world was threatened with total consumption but a deal was bargained between “the unknowable ones” and “those who strayed from the safe path”.

Every day one human, neither too old nor too young, is chosen to willingly sacrifice themselves. Our debt will be settled when the sun eats the Earth. The Chosen are given one day to resign themselves to their fate. At the end of the day, midnight as measured by the position of the sun from where they stand, the emissary of “the unknowable ones” appears and takes their life. If they try to run or hide or fight, the emissary will take reparations: every life within five miles of the Chosen.

The early years of this new status quo were rife with mass deaths caused by Chosen who didn’t know about the settlement with “the unknowable ones”. Even after the information was spread widely, many people were simply too scared to willingly allow themselves to be killed. Only after the children, who had grown up seeing towns and cities harvested, came of age and shouldered their responsibility to the world willingly did the reapings come under our control.

We are taught from a young age, that if we are chosen, it is our duty to die willingly to spare those around us. Not everyone takes this to heart, however. Over the years some have used to threat of a reaping to become tyrants for their last day. Others merely indulge themselves with luxuries. No one denies the request of the Chosen.

Back in my bedroom, I retrieve my phone, took a selfie, and posted it on every social media account I had. I could stay home alone or spend my final hours privately with family and friends. Say my goodbyes, write a final will, and leave this mortal coil quietly and peacefully.

I have other plans. I have a revolution to start.

Daughter of Earth-5

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The Goddess waited in a lonely field. She laid on her back in the tall grass, staring up at the cloudless night sky. Arm outstretched, fingers gliding between the stars. A simple flick of her wrist could sweep the stars from the sky. Maybe one day but not tonight. Soft footsteps caught her attention.

“We could have met in a cafe for brunch or a restaurant for dinner or a library for tea but you insisted on a cold dark night,” the young woman gestured wildly at the lack of human presence nearby causing her coat to flap around her, “in the middle of nowhere.”

The Goddess sat up and smiled, “Hello to you, too.”

“Oh yes, hello and glad tidings, Mother,” the young woman said, sarcasm biting at every word. She sighed and continued sincerely, “How have you been?”

“Very fine.” The Goddess stood up and walked to her. “Earth-18 has started cooling finally and Earth-9 is on the verge of intelligent life.

The young woman allowed her glasses to slip down her nose.

“Why are you wearing eyeglasses? Your eyes should be perfect!” The Goddess stared into the young woman’s eyes. “They are perfect.”

“They’re just flat lenses. When I change identities, I get new frames to help change my appearance. Along with changing my hairstyle and clothes. It’s getting harder with face recognition software. My current identity almost fell apart because of a picture posted on Facebook that got auto-tagged with my previous identity.” She paused continuing cautiously, “You don’t know what Facebook is, do you?”

“I didn’t until you mentioned it. I am lightly touching the global unconscious mind; just to pull words and concepts out as I need them, nothing more.”

“So, I could say Micky Mouse and you would know what that is?”

The Goddess’s face lit up with a smile. “Oh, that’s delightful. Why didn’t you mention him earlier?”

“There’s a lot ‘delightful’ things here but also a lot of terrible things.”

“How is your Earth doing?” The Goddess closed the gap between them an wrapped an arm around the younger woman’s shoulders. “How is your father doing?”

“Didn’t you see him when you returned?”

“No, I came here from Earth-2 directly via quantum tunneling. Wait, what did I say?” She slapped a hand over her mouth.

“Is that how you travel from planet to planet?” she asked. “You never explained how you do that.”

“Yes, but I didn’t realize the people of this Earth had reached that level of understanding. They have words, real words, for it. You haven’t been helping them have you?”

“No. Of course not. The first rule is no interference with the normal development of local civilization. Anyway, Dad is doing fine. His flares and spots are in decline but that’s normal. I can’t understand him like you can but I still talk to him. You don’t need me to tell you any of this. You can just know it if you want.”

“I do need you to tell me about your Earth. I stopped watching when you asked. You wanted privacy so I gave it to you.”

“That was only two hundred and twenty-four years ago. Not that much as changed.”

“Still tell me about it, please.” They started slowly walking through the field.

“No major geological changes, of course. Oh, there was that island that disappeared but it might have been made up to increase a country’s ocean border. Some men walked on the moon–”

“Space Travel! Now that is news.”

“They only went a few times to the moon about thirty years ago. There are a few space stations but nothing really beyond that.”

The Goddess looked up to the sky, her smile brightening. “What about the probes to Pluto, Jupiter, the rovers on Mars? Oh, that one probe that to the comet was ambitious. Oh sorry,” the Goddess ducked her head, “I went a little deeper into the global unconscious mind. Just about space travel. I promise. I won’t do it again. What else has happened?”

“Um, well global temperatures are on the rise. Lots of wars, and conflicts and … and …” She choked on describing the atrocities people had committed and continued to commit.

“It’s ok, go on.” The Goddess pulled her tighter against herself.

The young woman gathered herself. “People are still people; just as horrible to each other but still capable of surprising kindness. I – why did you leave me here?”

“This is your home.”

“But I don’t belong here. I’ve been alone since you left. I have friends but I can’t keep them for more than a few decades before they notice I don’t age like them. And they die so easily.”

“People will always come and go from your life. It’s not about keeping them forever; it’s about being with them while you have time. Also, you asked me to leave, remember?” the Goddess said.

“Not for so long. I just wanted a little space. I little time for myself. You were always right there and you always knew everything. I just wanted a little space not to be abandoned.”

“You are almost eight hundred and sixty-three years old and you will live many many more years. You’ve been living at a human pace for your whole life but out there,” she swung her hand up and across the sky, “Out there away from the human reminders of time, you’ll find it moves at whatever pace you want it to move. I gave you as much space and time as was safe for you. I’ve never been too far to hear you call for me.”

“I wanted to call you but I wanted you to come back because you missed me not because I needed you.”

“It could have been both. Anyways, I’m here now and I’m not leaving but I won’t crowd you as much. We’ll start with ten year breaks and figure it out from there. What do you say?”

“Five year breaks?”

“Whatever you want. Come on, your father will be rising in a couple of hours and there’s a ridge that has the best view right over there.”

Gillian Reviews Venom

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Sunday night I went to see Venom after work. It was kind of a late showing, 9:15 pm, and I was debating with myself a good portion of the day. The trailers didn’t really grab me and combined with a general critic consensus of “it’s a bad movie” along with the handicap of being unconnected to Spider-Man, I had pretty much made up my mind not to see it.

Then I listened to a podcast review and heard something that piqued my interest. Near the end of the movie, Venom the symbiont admits he is a loser. He’s smaller than the other symbionts and can’t form as many different weapons as they can.

Forget the trailers; they’re straight up lying to you about Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiont’s relationship. Yes, Venom speaks with a deep gravely voice and yes he kills and eats people but he and Eddie have a much more equal relationship. You could even say it’s symbiotic. But seriously they bicker with each other like an old married couple and it’s kinda cute. The symbiont controlling and threatening Eddie never really happens in the actual movie.

Also, forget the comics because the absence of Spider-Man changes a lot of Eddie and Venom’s motivations and personalities. Surprisingly Venom without Spider-Man works fairly well. There are a few things that just carry over without much explanation, like his appearance and name. It’s never stated in the movie but the big white eyes are just what these symbionts look like. Also, his name, Venom, is just his name for no reason. These are minor things that I feel don’t break the movie.

The actual story is pretty straightforward with no real twists or turns which is fine for a super anti-hero movie. It’s not high art but it’s serviceable. The transition from second to third act is a little rough with some surprise motivations and character development but it’s still a thousand times better than Spider-Man 3. There is a mid-credits scene that sets up a sequel that I would be willing to watch.

I ended up enjoying the movie and will probably watch it again once it hits a streaming service. It is a departure from the comic character in many ways which may be a deal breaker for some people. This slightly new take on Venom was refreshing to me. It’s a new origin story for a familiar-ish character.

Rating 3.5/5

The Witch Downstairs – A Francine Non-Adventure

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Author Note: This is the start of the second serial story of Francine’s Non-Adventures. The first story was published last year and can be read from the link above. I’m currently working on rewriting parts for my overdue ebook collection.


I knocked on the door with the Coexist bumper sticker on it. The “witch’s door” as many people in the building called it. We had never met but I knew her from reputation. Well actually I had started hearing about her after the ghost in the park across the street started wailing my name on odd nights. I assumed I was supposed to talk to the witch about the ghost and kick off either a horror plot or supernatural drama. I had done neither by getting a pair of earplugs and simply avoiding her floor.

Now I was deliberately invoking a plot hook. After my recent success in dealing with the magic serial killer, without getting too involved, I noticed the plot hooks I normally had to dodge were gone. It was refreshing to not have to worry about spies or wizards or ghosts. Of course, nothing lasts forever and a few weeks later I was back to dropping USB sticks and throwing away magic rings. And the ghost started wailing my name again.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that taking care of the magic serial killer had satisfied the god-like force that wanted me involved in these “adventures”. So, I decided to talk to the “witch” and see where this plot hook was headed.

The door opened and a woman a few years older than me opened the door. She looked like Hollywood’s version of a New Age Hippy. Loose clothing, scarves tied and draped around her body, long curly messy hair, small glasses perched halfway down her nose. She smiled then frowned.

“Hold on a second,” she said, took off her glasses, and replaced them with another pair from her pocket. As she looked me up and down thoroughly, I noticed the glasses she was wearing didn’t have lenses.

“Um, hi, I’m Francine. I live on the fourth floor.”

“Francine … Francine,” she muttered as she stepped into the hall to circle around me. “Oh, you’re whose name I hear screeched every night from the park.”

“It’s not every night.”

She looked up to my face, “It’s been every night for the last week.”

“Has it? I wear earplugs so I don’t hear it.”

“Earplugs? That’s one solution, I guess. You could just go see what that spirit wants with you. May I?” She gestured at my arm. I nodded and she gently raised my arm up.

“I’d rather not engage with the supernatural directly. That’s kind of why I’m here. I’ve heard you’re a … an expert on the subject.”

“I’m a witch if that’s what you mean. Wow, you are a mess.”

“Excuse me?”

“You got your fate lines all tangled up and twisted around.” She waved her hand in the air under my arm. “Look at that. I don’t know how you make it through a day without tripping over yourself.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Fate lines. They’re possibilities, paths through life that you could take. Most people have a dozen, at most, but not you. You have a couple hundred but most of them are slack like they aren’t pulling you in a direction. They’re just there and you’re all tangled up in them.”

“Ok, I think I do know what you’re talking about.”

“Do you? Then spill.” She stood in front of me arms crossed.

“I think I’m being railroaded by a ‘higher power’ into having for lack of a better word ‘adventures’.”

“Huh. So you have a lot of ‘adventures’?”

“When I was younger. After high school, they stopped. Last year strange things started happening like something was trying to get me involved with new adventures. I started avoiding them and then things got really weird.”

“Really weird how?”

“I’ve seen things that made me doubt my sanity. Have you ever seen a portal to another world? Or magic rings? Or wizards dueling in alleyways? Or heard ghosts screaming your name?”

“No. No. No. Yes. Well, not my name. Your name, yeah. What can you tell me about the ghost?”

“Nothing. I don’t know anything about it.” If I had my way it would stay that way.

“But it’s calling your name.” Her eyes narrowed as she studied me again.

“Yeah, something wants me to investigate the ghost and … do something.”

“Something like what?”

“Well, usually ghosts mean the person was killed or had unfinished business so I guess I’d have to find the killer or finish their business for them in some way. Shouldn’t you be telling me how to deal with the ghost?”

She nodded, “If you know what to do why haven’t you done it?”

“I don’t want to get involved with … all this,” I said waving my arms around me.

She closed her eyes and was silent for a moment. “Then why did you come to talk to me?”

“I need your help.”

“Why my help?”

“Because… Because you’re a witch.” She opened her eyes and smiled.

“Interesting,” she said while adjusting her lensless glasses.

“What? What’s interesting?”

“One of the fate lines has lost some of its slack.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means you’re moving toward one of the paths that fate has made for you.”

“So, will you help me with the ghost or not?”

“Of course. I have a fate line of my own that leads straight to you.”


Index