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      Sunday
      May052013

      A story with two angles

      The Story of Sunshine:  One story from two angles

      By Sunny

                     “That boy is looking at me again.”

                     “Who? Tank?  He looks at everybody.”

                     “No, not Tank.  That one.  The saxophone player.”

                     “Tenor or alto?”

                     “Tenor.”

                     “Oh, Jacobs.  Ryan Jacobs.”

                     “Is he a Junior, or a Senior?”

                     “Senior, I think.”

                     “Why’s he always looking at me?”

                     “I dunno.  Want me to go ask him?”

                     I grabbed my best friend by the elbow, “Don’t you dare Sara Marie Lutton.  Don’t even think about it.”

                     “Well little Miss Sunshine, I am thinking about it.”

                     “Don’t make me hurt you.”

                     “I don’t think you will.  Besides, Ryan’s nice.  You’re due to date a nice one.  You’ve certainly had your share of shitheads.”

                     I looked again for Ryan, but he was gone.  I turned to Sara, but she was looking at the clock on the far wall.  When I turned back around, Ryan was right there.

                     He smiled at me and said the dumbest thing he could have said, “Sunny, you sure don’t look very sunny today.”  I stared at him, frozen, barely blinking.  “Where’s your smile Sunny?”  I just stared some more, but he was undaunted; “I’ll see that smile someday.  You just wait.”  He then sauntered back to his chair and picked up his sax, ready for class to begin.

                     Sara turned back to me and I said, “I can’t believe he tried that.”

                     She sighed, “He doesn’t know.  Don’t hold it against him.”

                     “I can’t help it.  Dammit.  He’s cuter from across the room anyway.”  I knew in my heart that it wasn’t his fault that he tried to use my stupid name as a way to break the ice.  It didn’t make it any less obnoxious.  For about the 70 millionth time I cursed my hippy freak parents for giving me this name.  I didn’t deserve it, didn’t want it.  I was a typical surly teenager.  I didn’t need to be saddled with a name like this.  I couldn’t live up to it.  I just wasn’t a very chipper person.  But everyone expected that with a name like Sunshine, I’d be happy and smiling all the time. 

      It was annoying almost from birth, but by the time I got to high school, I expected a lot of that bullshit would be over.  I’d done a lot of stupid stuff over the course of my first semester trying to break out of the prison that name put me in.  I barely spoke to anyone except for Sara.  I drank too much almost every weekend, stole cigarettes and smoked them behind the school, and fooled around with boys a lot more than I should.  I even went to the lake with the back-up tailback on the football team and gave him a blow job.  And now, this jerkwad wants to use my name as a way to get me to smile.  Not fucking likely.  He’s not going to win me over like that.

      And then he went and won me over like that.

      I didn’t want him to, but every day before band he came up to me with that stupid singsong voice, “Suuuunnnny.  Suuuuunnnnnny.  Are you going to smile for me today Sunny?  No?  Not today?  OK, well maybe tomorrow.”  For the first week I just glared at him.  The second week I was indifferent.  By the end of the third week I was looking forward to seeing him every day, but I was afraid if I actually did break down and smile, he’d stop caring about me.  Not to mention the fact that almost all of the other freshman flute players were so jealous of the attention that I was receiving, that I was afraid one of them might try to snatch him up.

      That Friday I broke down to Sara, “OK, I’m gonna smile for him.”

      “Finally!  I thought you would have given in a week ago.”

      “I know you’ve been dying to give me the scoop on him.  Tell me what you’ve found out.”

      “What do you mean?” she said with a devious grin.

      “I know you better than that.  You’ve been preparing a file on this boy for at least a week, maybe two.”

      “OK, so I talked to Ashley who is friends with Erica who goes with Ted Farmer who is Ryan’s good buddy.”

      “Right.”

      “And she says that Ryan has dated two girls, both last year, and was talking with at least two more this year, but hasn’t dated anyone seriously since last summer.”

      “And?”

      “And he’s in band and track and drives a blue car and he’s coming over here right now.”

      I followed Ryan from the doorway with my eyes as he made his way to me, never breaking eye contact.  “Hi Sunny.  Are you feeling Sunny today?”

      I was intending to go for a shy smile, but I probably looked more like a serial killer.  I realized just how long it had been since I’d smiled and meant it.  It didn’t seem to matter though.  I guess he was so surprised that I was giving him any acknowledgement that he literally fell to his knees.  “Sunny, oh Sunny,” he said completely over the top ridiculous, “I never knew it could be so beautiful.  It’s like a puppy licking a baby’s face while a rainbow dances overhead.”  All the other girls were laughing watching him writhe in fake ecstasy on the floor.  I could feel my face crack into a genuine smile, my first in a long, long while.  But before I could say anything to him, one of the alto sax players grabbed him by the shirt, pulled him up, and dragged him back to where his horn was waiting.

      That night we were supposed to play in the pep band for the basketball game, but the opposing team’s bus broke down and so the game was going to start an hour late.  The director told us all we could go home if we wanted, so we packed up our instruments and left.  While I was packing up, Ryan came by and said, “So, since we have the night off, ya wanna catch Splatterfest 5?”  I smiled, nodded, and followed Ryan out to his car.  He opened the door for me like a real gentleman.  It was a nice change from the other guys I had been out with.

      The marquee said that the movie started at 7:20 and it was 7:20 when we pulled in the parking lot.  Ryan said, “Wanna run?”  So we jumped out of the car as soon as he put it in park and were slightly breathless when we made it to the ticket booth.  Ryan said, “Two for Splatterfest,” and quickly paid before I could protest.  “Can we skip the popcorn?  Ted said the first kill is a doozy and I don’t want to miss it.”  I nodded again and we scurried into the theatre, found two seats near the back, and settled in right as Bimbo #1 took her top off.  “Just in time,” Ryan joked.

      Ryan was a good movie date.  He was a much bigger fan of horror movies than I was, so it was nice to have his running commentary about the various actors, directors, and special effects to distract me and keep me from getting too scared.  Usually when I watch a scary movie I keep jumping up and crawling all over whoever I’m with, but I just felt so at ease with Ryan.  I was immediately comfortable, and stayed that way.  I’d never watched a horror movie and actually relaxed before.  Heck, I’d never been on a date and been relaxed before.  It was really nice.  About two thirds of the way through the film Ryan took my right hand in his left, using his other hand to gently trace up and down my fingers.  It didn’t feel grabby, possessive, or aggressive like some other guys, it just felt…right.

      We left the movie, still holding hands, and I let out a contented sigh. 

      He laughed and said, “It just occurred to me that I’ve never heard you talk.”

      I looked at him a little shocked, “I can talk.”

      “Well I figured you could.  You just never do.”

      I gave him my flirtiest smile, “Well I only talk to people I really like.”

      He shook his head rapidly, “Wow, what a smile.  I notice you’re talking to me now.  Did you just decide that you like me?”

      “Pretty much.”    

      We went back to his car and drove around for hours.  I’d never met anyone I wanted to talk to more than Ryan.  I told him things I’d never told anyone.  I told him things that were true.  I told him things I hadn’t even known about myself.  I really felt like I gave him a piece of me.  When he finally took me home I was waiting for him to make a move on me, but he didn’t.  He gave me a polite and friendly hug instead. It felt very sweet.  It had been a long time since I went out with someone who wasn’t just trying to get in my pants.

      Sara was just as excited about the great date as I was.  “Oh Sunny, I’m so happy for you.  He’s a great guy.”

      “I’m going to ask him to the Saddie’s dance.”

      “When?”

      “Today, at the game.”

      “Aw crap, I forgot we had to play again today.”

      “Yeah, I’ve never looked this forward to it before.”

      When we got to the game Ryan was sitting with kids in his class so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him until after the final buzzer.  The crowd was going nuts because we had won on a last second shot, but my stomach was churning so much I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was two rows of bleachers below Ryan looking up at him as he was looking up at his buddy, Ted, who was in the balcony.  It looked like they were making plans for after the game. 

      Ryan was all smiles when I got his attention, “Ryan?”

      “Yeah?”  He turned back to his friend in the balcony.

      “Do you have a date for Saddie’s?”

      He turned back to me “No,” then back to the balcony.

      “Would you like to go with me?”  I flashed that smile he liked so well last night, sealing the deal.

      When he turned back to me, he was still smiling, but obviously not at me.  “No,” he said plainly.    I stood there, jaw hanging open, as he turned back to his friend, finished yelling back and forth with him, and then walked off.  He never looked back.

       

       

       

      By Ryan

       

                     “Who’s that flute player with the scowl on her face?” I asked Jodi, my best buddy and fellow tenor sax player.

                     “Who?  Sunny?”

                     “Her name’s Sunny?”

                     “Sunshine Reigns, yeah.  She’s a Sophomore like me.”

                     “Shut your face, Jode.  That’s not possible.”

                     “What’s not possible?”

                     “That someone who never smiles is named Sunshine Reigns.  It’s too good.  It can’t be true.”

                     “Well that’s her name, jackass.”

                     “Who’s she go out with?”

                     “I don’t think anyone.  She used to date Eric Stevenson…do you like her?”

                     “Well I don’t know.  What’s she like?  Is she a real bitch?  I’ve never seen her smile.”

                     “She’s not a bitch.  That’s just her face I think.  She hangs with the Preps, not like queen bee or anything, but in that crowd.  I’m sure she smiles.”

                      “She’s cute.”

                     “I guess so.  If you like a chick that never smiles…”

                     “Yeah, but if I can get her to smile, it might be worth it.”

                     “Take your shot, hotshot.  Ya big Senior, ya might impress her, who knows?”

      ***

                     “Sunny, you’re not very sunny today,” I said, in a singsong, giving her one of my patented grins.  She just glared at me.  I was a bit surprised that she didn’t seem to like it, but I did it again the second, and the third day, and the fourth.  Same intentionally cheesy voice, same dorky grin.  On the fourth day I added, speaking baby talk, “Come on, just one iddy biddy little smile for me?”  She was scowling still, but I could tell by her eyes that I was getting to her.  This continued for a few more days, until on the eighth day when I walked into the band room, I saw her looking for me, waiting for me to come in.  As soon as she caught my eye, she broke into a huge grin.  She had one of the greatest smiles I’ve ever seen.  She smiled with her whole face.  Her huge blue eyes lit up, her whole face was glowing.  She pointed at her mouth.  I was generally pretty smooth, especially with a little sophomore, but my heart started beating faster and my stomach started to churn.  Usually I got away with burritos for breakfast, but all of a sudden they felt like a brick in my gut. Not that I would show it, not with my audience watching. 

                     Over the last week our little joust had become quite the spectator sport among the other freshmen and sophomore girls.  I figured that could only help me if this thing with Sunny didn’t work out.  So I made an exaggerated stagger, feigning a faint. I wobbled over to the pack of girls.  The sea of them parted as I made my over to Sunny. I’d never come within two yards of her before this.  I fell to my knees at her feet and raised my hands in the air.  “Hallelujah!  Praise Jesus!  It’s a miracle!  She smiles!  She really smiles!” This cracked up the pack, but she didn’t laugh, she just kept staring into my eyes.  I hopped to my feet; surprised that I was only an inch or two taller than her.  My hands refused to betray the pounding in my heart, and my voice never waivered or cracked.  I brushed her hair from her ear and whispered in her ear.  “You have a perfect smile.”  I intentionally hissed the “s” just a little, and it made her shiver.  

      As I walked away, I didn’t turn back, but I heard all the pack gather around her. “What did he say?  Did he ask you out? Are you dating now?”  I could feel all eyes on me, including hers. 

      “So now what are you going to do douchebag?”  Leave it to Jodi to read my mind.

      “I don’t know. I think it’s all downhill from here.”

      “I heard her talking yesterday in Biology.  You’d better ask her out.”

      “Will you ask her for me?”

      “No way mister smooth talk.  You think you’re so cool, you get her yourself.”

      As luck would have it, I wouldn’t really have to.  We were scheduled to play at a pep session for basketball that Friday night, but the other team had a bus breakdown and was over an hour late. The director cut a deal because we had to play the next night too, and after the Star Spangled Banner, we were free to go. The latest slasher flick was playing and those are always good date movies, so I asked her to go.  She nodded her head yes, and flashed that smile at me again. 

      The movie was fun, definitely a good choice for a date flick, and about halfway through she brushed her hand against mine.  I’m no dummy, so I gently took hers in mine.  It was warm and soft and when I gently stroked her finger with my thumb, I heard her sigh slightly. It was then I realized that I had never heard her speak. 

      After the movie we went back to my car.  “Do you realize I’ve never heard you talk?” I said.

      She laughed her melodious laugh, “I can talk.”

      “I assumed you could, I’d just never heard you before.”

      “Well I can, I just don’t talk to people I don’t like.”

      “But you’re talking to me…”

      “Yes I am.”

      We drove around talking for the next two hours.  And “Yes I am,” was the last nice thing she said.  Apparently once she got started talking, she never stopped.  And she didn’t have anything nice to say about anyone. 

      “Oh god, I hate my friends, they’ll screw anything that moves, ya know?”

      “My parents suck!  I wanted an Ipod Touch, but they just got me this old Razor.”

      “I hate my sister.  She used to steal all my Barbies when we were kids.  Ugggh!  What a bitch!”

      “I don’t like any of my classes.  I just want to cut hair, why do I need to learn Algebra?”

      “My mom makes me babysit for the neighbors. They’re a bunch of little brats.  They won’t even watch TV!”

      “Yeah I’m on dance team, but Coach Mindy’s such a skank.  She never lets us pick our own songs, we always have to do the stupid ones she and the seniors pick out.”

      “Yeah, I went to that party.  I drank Jason Harris under the table that night!”  This one was especially distasteful to me.  In high school my major act of rebellion was not drinking.  Everyone else was doing it, so I refused.  EVERYONE knew that about me.  If you asked anyone about me they would describe me as that brainy kid who doesn’t drink.  And I hated Jason Harris. He was the second-string defensive end on a mediocre high school football team and he wore his jersey around all off-season, I guess so we wouldn’t forget that he was on the team, since he rarely played.  If you were trying to impress me, you couldn’t have done a worse job.  Mercifully she had a curfew, so I had an excuse to take her home.  When we got to her driveway, she turned to me, and I knew a kiss invitation when I saw one, but I gave her a hug instead and said “Good night!”

      The next night we had to play at the game again.  I avoided Sunny, subtly I thought, by getting there early and surrounding myself with other Seniors.  When any other members came by, we said “No, No, Seniors only!  You little Freshmeats go sit over there!”  By the third quarter I had pretty much forgotten all about our disastrous date and Sunny too, frankly. 

      Jodi, who wasn’t allowed in the Senior section either, called me over. “She’s going to ask you to the Saddies Dance.”

      “Oh, I don’t think so.”

      “Why not?”

      “She’s mean.”

      “What should I tell her?”

      At that moment we made our fourth basket in a row, and the other team called time out.  It was our time to shine.  I ran to my horn and got ready to play.  When the time out was over, I was back in the Senior section and my mind was on the game.  We won by two points when they missed a last second, half-court heave that rimmed out.  I put away my horn and was looking for the party. 

      Ted, a Senior who wasn’t in the band hollered down to me from the balcony, “Hey band fag!  Ya goin’ out!”

      “’Course!  Where we goin’?”

      Right as Ted was replying “Everyone’s going up to the levee,” Sunny tapped on my elbow. 

      She was two steps below me on the bleachers looking up, “Ryan?”

      “Yeah?”  I said to her.  Then up at Ted, “If I’m driving your drunk ass around, you’re buying my Mountain Dew.”

      She said, “Do you have a date for the Saddie’s dance?”

      Ted said from above, “Already got a two liter for ya!”

      I looked down at her, smiled, and said “No,” and then up at Ted, “I’m in!”

      She looked at me with that knees melting smile, “Do you want to go with me?”

      I bent down, grabbed my horn case, stood up, looked down at her and said, “No.” I yelled up to Ted, “I’ll dump my horn in the trunk and meet you outside.”  She just stood there, mouth agape as I walked away.

       

      Monday
      Apr152013

      Why I didn't buy Wrestlemainia 29

                      Mymissy and I were fully intending to get Wrestlemaina this year.  We spent a half an hour fighting the wiring in our house so we could jack the cable box into our big screen projector (and by “we” I mean her of course).    We called our few friends who would not be embarrassed to watch the show with us, and were contemplating menus.  At the last minute, we decided we just weren’t up for it.  Nothing about the event was inspiring at all.  So we cancelled the party (disappointing the one person who had committed to come) and didn’t even order.  The PPV cost 60 bucks, but the matches just didn’t add up.

       

      Rock/Cena:  I’ve never been a huge fan of The Rock.  Mymissy hadn’t seen him before his big comeback last year, and it was fun to watch her delight in his interview style and catchphrases…last year.  Doing the same old crap that I was tired of 10 years ago wore thin on her too.  I’m not a Cena hater at all, but watching him go through the motions for two years in a row couldn’t pull a dime out of my pocket.  OK, I’ll give him credit for a quarter, since he usually does a cool WM entrance.  If I had known he wasn’t even going to do that, I wouldn’t even give it this much credit.  $.25

       

      HHH/Brock:  I like Lesner quite a bit.  Mymissy was not convinced, but he really looks like a monster to me.  Plus I remember how amazing he was when he was young and hungry.  Mymissy is not a Heyman guy either, so while his participation in the match adds value for me, she is not impressed.  Plus she thinks Brock has a squeaky voice.  HHH on the other hand, inspires nothing from either of us.  Brock’s hardway cut on Raw was worth $2 just by itself.  I’d pay $4 for this match, and I think I would have gotten my money’s worth.

       

      Taker/Punk:  Undertaker’s last three years of not clogging up the main event of my television show and only becoming a special event guy has REALLY made me turn around on him.  He has gone from one of my favorite wrestlers in the 90’s, to my least favorite of the 00’s, back to someone I am excited to see once a year.  Punk is amazing in all aspects of the game.  He truly is the best in the world right now.   I thought the Paul Bearer angle was very well done.  I think Bill would have been proud.  Without the death of Paul Bearer, I don’t know if this feud could have taken off, but this was the only match I was really willing to pay for, $20 and worth every penny.

       

      Swagger/Del Rio:  I’ve been really digging the new Jack Swagger.  Dirty Dutch is one of my favorite wrestling storytellers, and I love the Zeb Coulter character.   This youtube video is the best thing I’ve seen in wrestling in the last few months:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=u9_RcD6WMmM   .  Mymissy really likes Del Rio as a face, especially his parody “We the People” video, but I think his moveset is really generic and boring.  I like Ricardo though.  This is great for a free TV feud, but I don’t have any faith in either of these guys to put on a match I would pay to see.  $.50 for the managers, and I wouldn’t have even  gotten that, since Ricardo is still selling his bad leg.

       

      Jericho/Fandango:  I can dig Fandango as a comedy heal.  He’s WAAAAAAY better than 3MB.  Jericho is one of my all-time favorites, but his latest few runs haven’t done much for me.  I’d throw a buck at Fandango like he’s Magic Mike and feel pretty good about it.  His entrance was worth that.  At least he’s someone I haven’t seen a thousand times.

       

      Hell No/Zig-E:  What a difference a year makes!  I thought last year’s Wrestlemainia would have killed off Daniel Bryant’s career.  I’m so glad he has rebounded.  Kane has always been worthless in any way except comedy vignettes or with the Undertaker, so he’s good in this role.   Ziggler is Mr. Perfect 2.0, and that is high, high praise from me.  Big E’s face is weird.  It’s too small for his body.  He’s not a bad talker either, but he reminds me too much of the second coming of Ice Train.  AJ’s butt is worth at least a buck, let’s call it $5 overall, but the match was nothing special.

       

      Henry/Ryback:  I actually like Skip Sheffield better than Ryback and I’m glad to see Mark Henry finally figuring out the Sports Entertainment business after clogging up my TV for 10 years.  However, I’d fast forward through this if it were on RAW.  $.00

       

      Shield/Orton, Shamus, Show:  I’m not a huge fan of the Shield gimmick, but I love seeing new, capable hands getting a push in WWE.  I’d like to see these guys working more matches.  I’ haven’t seen a lot of their indy work or NXT, but I’ve heard good things.   Despite Mymissy’s love of Randy Orton’s body, I couldn’t be more sick of him.  Learn a new move, please for the love of God, Randy.  Your dad was one of the best workers of all time.  Take a lesson.  Shamus has a certain charisma, but I’m sick of his face too.  Do we have to see his 6 move moveset every freaking week?   I liked Big Show against Del Rio, which is one of the only times I liked him as a heal.  I love watching him bump around like a pro for smaller guys.  $15 to actually see Rollins and Ambrose work, minus $10 for Orton and Shamus, $5 total.

       

      Tons of Funk/Rhodes Scholars:  This was probably the only undercard match I was looking forward to.  I really enjoy Sandow, although he is starting to get a little stale.  Cody’s mustache is pure genius.   These two guys know their characters, and how to work.  I also dig silly monsters being silly.  Brodus and Albert crack me up.  I’m so glad they found something to do with Tensai.  I like my monsters much better when they are goofy.  This was a $10 match for me, if I had bought the show and seen it cut, I would have been livid. 

      Even with that match included.  That only adds up to $47.75.  Not good enough WWE.  Add a Money in the Bank with Kofi, Cessarro, Ryder, Santino, Slater, and Bo Dallas (what happened to his push anyway?) and you might have gotten closer to my money, but as long as part-timers are going to be in the main events, I’ll keep my cash.

      Monday
      Aug062012

      Falling Skies Season 2, Episode 8 Death March

      Falling Skies S2 Ep 8 Death March

      Recap

      The 2nd Mass is making their final push towards Charleston, but all Tom can do is flash back to the last time he saw Ben.  Matt rips a page out of his journal, his will, which he gives to his dad.  I remember doing something like that at that age. 

      Tec and Weaver are riding buddies.  Weaver has figured out that Tec is military, but Tec doesn’t want to tell him why he doesn’t tell anyone that.  Pope, Hal, and Margret are driving through a terrible green screen.  They are the advance scouts. 

      Tec and Weaver hit a little girl with the truck.  She is a harnessed child.  She has been merging with the harness, making her alien looking.   They decide that they can’t leave her behind, but they secure her in the back of the medical bus. Matt gives the harness girl, Jenny, some food, which she eats ravenously.  They begin to bond a bit over her belch.

      Maggie and Hal’s truck overheats necessitating a pit stop.   Hal goes to the river to get water for the radiator while Pope fixes the hose.  Pope asks Maggie when she is going to tell Hal “who and what” she really is, but vows that he won’t be the one to blow the whistle.    

      Tom is starting to crack under the pressure of missing Ben.  Lourdes is still mourning Jamil by taking care of his toolbox. 

      Jenny explains to Matt a little about the skitter/harness bond.  She calls one skitter her “guardian” and one of the other kids her “brother.”  She describes it as a big happy family, kinda.  Matt tries to convince Jenny to go to Charleston by showing her his journal.  ‘Cause we all know, chicks dig boys who write in journals.  Jenny’s “brother” Tyler, is clinging to the bus.  His shadow is much more alien looking than Jenny.  Clearly the harness affects people differently.  He is gone when they stop the bus to look for him.

      Weaver mocks Marines in an attempt to trick Tec into confessing his military branch.  Eventually Tec tells his sob story of a raid gone wrong in Afghanistan. 

      Margret confesses to Hal that she was a drug addict and spent time in prison for robbery.  She also had a child that she gave up for adoption.  While I’m sure in real life that would be a terrible trauma, it was not much of a revelation in a TV show like this.  I mean once the aliens take over, I think we all get a fresh start.  They are now separated from the 2nd Mass.

      Tyler returns and Jenny escapes her bonds to go with Tyler.  Again, they are keeping someone prisoner who can easily escape.  You’d thing eventually they would stop chaining these people, as clearly it doesn’t help.  Matt is worried that Ben might also want to stay with the rebel skitters, and that he might die.  Tom promises that he won’t die.  I think this is a terrible idea, even if it does make Matt feel better.  You shouldn’t make promises to your kids unless you are ABSOLUTLY sure you can follow through to them. 

      Weaver and Tec bond a little more as they reach Charleston.  Everyone gets out of the buses to see the glory…they are spending too long showing their faces and not the city…yep.  It’s all blown up, completely destroyed.  Despair threatens to overtake the 2nd Mass, even Tom breaks down in the scene of the night, but Tec comes and salutes Weaver, showing his faith in him.  This inspires Weaver to give a rah-rah speech to the 2nd Mass and gets them back on the road.  But then, out of the woods comes a bunch of guys in clean uniforms.  It’s the government of Charleston, along with Pope, Hal, and Maggie.  So Charleston is real after all.  They even have strawberries.

      Review

      No CGI at all in this episode.  I don’t mind episodes that are a little quieter like this, but I miss the bang up action.

      The Charleston fake out was pretty solid.  It made for a nice twist in the last few minutes.

      The driving scenes were a cool way to give more insight into characters, but both of the major revelations, Tec’s and Maggie’s, were not interesting at all.  I expect more from the writers of this show.

      I liked getting a little more info about the harness kids and skitter culture.  More like this please.

      Grade

      C-  This was a very week episode of the show.  Character development is fine, but boring character development is not.  I’m excited about Charleston though, the previews look great!

      Second Watch

      Today with Wil we have Maxim Knight (Matt), Colin Cunningham (Pope), and Heather Regnier (writer).  She starts off by saying that Charleston isn’t on the East Coast…um…uh…OK.  Wil leads her to an intelligent comment about following the history of the American Revolution.  Colin has more interesting things to say about his creation of the Pope character.  He says that Pope is changing and his reasons for staying with the 2nd Mass have changed from season one to season two.  Maxim says that his character is trying to think like a soldier as well as still being a kid.  Wil and Heather talk about how they can humanize the skitters as well as stay the villains.  Interesting. 

      Pretty good stuff overall.  Wil really kept this one humming.

       

      Tuesday
      Jul242012

      Grenade

      This is a deleted scene from my novel, The King of the Band Room.  I had to cut it out, but it works as a short story I think.

       

      Grenade

                           It was the first warm Friday in April and we were all crammed into Kumail’s van, just cruising around and enjoying the feeling that basketball season was over and there were no more pep bands, so we could all hang out again.  Dave had been exceptionally quiet, waiting for the inevitable cue from one of us.  It was Iver who supplied it.

                           “So what are we gonna do tonight?”

                           “How about we blow some shit up?” Dave said, reaching into his military surplus backpack and pulling out a small object about the size of a hand grenade.

                           Iver leaned forward from the middle seat, “Holy shit!  Is that a hand grenade?”

                           Dave smiled, “Yep.  My brother snuck it off base and brought it home for me last weekend.”

                           Kumail screamed, “Your brother is a god!”

                           I laughed, “Your brother is a role model!”

                           “Your brother is an asshole,” deadpanned Stella, remembering the quote from Can’t Hardly Wait.

                           Dave laughed, “He usually is.  This is a rare moment of awesome from him, so I need to make it really good.”

                           “Let’s take out the gas main to the school!” cried Kumail maniacally.

                           Iver looked sideways at him, “Are you serious?  You’re a little bit sick.” 

                           Dave said, “Settle down, you’re about to lose your talking privileges.”

                           “Maybe you’re about to lose your riding in my van privileges,” threatened Kumail.

                           I tried to relax the situation, “But then you’d miss whatever we do blow up.”

                           Kumail smiled, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”

                           Stella asked, “Can I see it a second?”

                           “Sure,” Dave replied, “Just don’t put it in the hands of Captain Psycho and don’t do anything stupid, like pull out the pin.”  We all got a chance to hold the grenade.  It was heavy and cold, dangerous looking.  I’d like to say that I was afraid, but I had such faith in Dave, I wasn’t the least bit worried.

                           Now you might think it wouldn’t be hard to find something to blow up with a hand grenade, but it’s more work than you’d think.  We were basically broke, so Stella’s idea of a pile of watermelons was out.  A couple of ideas were thrown out for being too violent, like Principal Daniel’s front door and the fountain in the town square.  A mailbox was too easy, you could do that just fine with an M80, plus Dave wanted to actually throw the thing, even though it wasn’t really necessary.  We drove around for about an hour, hoping to find that perfect combination of destruction/safety/not getting arrested until Buck finally piped up for the first time.  “How about an outhouse at the park?”  It was perfect.

                            As we drove to the edge of town to the park, Dave started acting odd.  It wasn’t unprecedented for him to act erratically from time to time.  His manic energy sometimes overtook him and made him act out, laughing or twitching somewhat.  So as the excitement of throwing the grenade began to build, it didn’t seem all that odd that Dave might be talking too loud or too fast.  But when we got there and found an appropriate wooden outhouse at the campground we were surprised that Dave insisted that we all stay in the van. 

                           Dave walked ten steps away from the van, easily within throwing distance for the grenade.  He turned to around and even though his face was in shadow from the moonlight, I could tell something was wrong.  A sneer was contorted and twisted by the shadows, eyes narrow with hate.  He spoke softly at first, but his exaggerated gestures told me that he was only getting warmed up.  “I am so tired of it!  Nothing ever changes, nothing ever gets better.  It just gets darker and darker, until I want to snap!  Sometimes I wish I was locked up again ya know?  At least in the psyche ward I didn’t have to think about anything.  This crappy world we live in, this pathetic town, the crappy school, you losers.  I can’t believe I’m wasting my life here!”

                           Tank looked over at Iver, questioning, but he just shrugged.  Stella grabbed my arm as I started to climb though the seats reaching for the door handle, and shook her head.  I looked at Buck, but his usual stoic look had changed somewhat, he looked like a cougar ready to pounce.  I knew that he sensed that something was wrong, too.  I’d never seen Dave lose it like this before.  The others talked about his rants like a legend; they were rarer since he got back from Southbridge and was put on his meds, but in the old days, they were apparently quite common.  I’d seen him go off about rotten TV shows and movies and such, but never in this random sort of way.

                           He held the grenade in his hand.  As he continued raging, he flailed his arms and paced.  He howled, “I don’t even care if they take me away forever.  I’ve known you guys for ten years now and nothing has ever changed.  I’m pathetic, you’re pathetic, I’m putting you out of my misery!”  He pulled the pin and threw the grenade under the van. 

                           Kumail was in the front seat, and luckier than the rest of us.  He screamed, “Oh, shit!” jumped out the door, and ran like hell.

                           Iver and Buck were closest to the van door.  They fumbled with the latch, slipping and grasping for each other.  Tank tried to scramble over the front seat so he could slide out the open passenger door.  Stella and I were towards the back and we crouched, waiting for Iver and Buck to get the door open.  Stella buried her face in my shirt and was screaming “Oh God!  Oh Shit,” over and over.  It couldn’t have been more than two seconds that it took them to get the door open and to jump outside.  I pushed Stella out and jumped myself, waiting for the sound and the fire on my back.  It was sick how I envisioned myself flying in the air like in a movie or something, but of course a real explosion isn’t like that. 

                           We ran about twenty yards into the park before we realized that nothing was wrong.  Over our screams we could hear Dave laughing.  I followed the sound and saw him standing on a picnic table, silhouetted in the moonlight.  He was shaking with laughter.  He was slapping his knee and stomping his foot as he pointed and hooted at us.  I’d never seen anyone actually do that before.  Another two seconds passed and we realized that there was not going to be an explosion.  I looked down and realized I was holding Stella’s hand as we ran away from the van.  She looked at it too, and then quickly dropped it as Iver, Buck, Darren, and Tank all began to converge on Dave from the darkness.  No one spoke; we just watched him laughing on the table.

                           “Ha ha ha ha ha…whoooo hoo hoooooo…your faces…homygod…hooooo ha ha…and the running…ha ha ho ho ho hee…haven’t you…he hee ha hooo…haven’t you guys…whooo ha ha ha…ever seen…ha ha ha ha ha oh Jesus…ever seen….oh god, ha ha ha…a…haw haw oh shit this is funny…a dummy grenade before?...hee hee hee ha ha hoooooo hee hee.”  Dave collapsed on the table, helpless with laughter, tears streaming down his face.

                           Buck, still stoic, unclipped Dave’s cell phone from his belt and placed it on the table.  Dave tried to resist, but was still laughing so hard he couldn’t really fight.  He grabbed one of Dave’s legs and said, “River.”  Dave was laughing the whole way as we carried him to the riverbank.  He was laughing as he flew in the air and landed in the water.  He was laughing when he stood up soaking wet.  He was pretty much done laughing by the time he caught up to us waiting for him at the park entrance a half mile from the river.

      Monday
      Jul232012

      Falling Skies Season 2, Episode 7 Molon Labe

      Falling Skies S2 Ep7

      Molon Labe

      Molon Labe is Greek for “come and take them” it was supposedly what the Spartan king, Leonidas, told the Persians when they were ordered to throw down their weapons at Thermopile.  This kind of defiance pretty much sums up the Second Mass, huh?

      Recap:

      The story begins with Ben and Karen in the woods looking for the rebel skitters only a few minutes after their escape last episode.  They hear skitters, but it is not the rebels, it is an Overlord!  Karen has led Ben into a trap!  Karen gets her harness back and is in ecstasy.  She seems nearly orgasmic as she tries to harness Ben.  The Second Mass comes to the rescue but Karen slips away.  They capture the Overlord though. 

      Back at the hospital, Jamil and Lourdes share a moment.  Aw, ain’t they cute?  Captain is up and moving, and he allows Doc and Lourdes to go downstairs and clean out the supplies.  Then he “orders” Matt to be their security detail.  That was really cute.  Matt carrying around an assault rifle like a Woobie is also cute.   

      As they confine the Overlord in the psych ward, the mechs attack.  Weaver realizes it is just a distraction while a mech comes in from behind.  Tom goes to the back of the hospital and takes it out by blowing up some propane tanks.  Matt, Lourdes, and Doc are injured in the explosion, though Tom doesn’t know it.   

      During a break in the fighting, Weaver says, “We’ll have to wait for their next move.”  As he says it, Karen’s voice calls out.  Weaver quips, “That didn’t take long.”  Two Weaver quips already this episode.  Great writing, I love just a touch of humor in this show.  Karen has a white flag and wants a parlay.  She says if they let the Overlord go, they can leave free and clear, but Tom, rightfully, doesn’t trust her.  Karen claims that she is still trying to protect the Second Mass.  She keeps saying this enough that I think it must be at least partially true.

      Matt, Doc, and Lourdes all come to at the same time.  How come that only happens on television?  Tec sends Boone and Tyree to scout the mechs’ position and Weaver sends Hal and Maggie to search an old access tunnel to see if there is another way out of the hospital.  He also sends Jamil to the basement to find Doc, Matt, and Lourdes.  

      Ben tells Tom that he will be leaving after they escape the hospital.  He says that he had a connection to the Overlord and that the Overlord is terrified of the rebellion.  He has to leave before the Overlord reestablishes the connection and learns what Ben knows about the rebellion. 

      In the basement, Doc, Matt and Lourdes find Jamil.  He is all beat up and bloody and holding a metal door handle.  My first thought was that he has been electrocuted, but it is much worse.  He’s all twitchy and squawking.   When Matt tries to open the door, Jamil manages to scream, “No!”  Hal and Maggie are trying to open the access hatch and while they work on the door, Hal says that he might have loved Karen, he doesn’t anymore because she isn’t the same person.  I guess that was the right answer, because Maggie kisses him.  Fickle woman.  They open the hatch and these little alien bugs are coming down the shaft!  Oh crap, that’s what happened to Jamil, isn’t it?  He says “I love you” to Lourdes right before the crawlys start to swarm out from inside him.  Gross…and kinda awesome.  The crawlys can eat though metal, so while Lourdes, Matt and Doc are safe in the blood lab for a while, it won’t last long.

      Ben and Hal go to the basement joined by, of all people, Pope.  Pope promises to be good and follow Tom’s lead.  Interesting character development.  Matt crawls through the air vent to try and find help.  He bravely gives up his Woobie to make the journey.  Doc tries to find something to fight the crawlys with, while Lourdes fights her own despair.  This was a great performance by Seychelle Gabriel.  By far the best scenes she’s ever had.  Even later in the episode, when she has no lines, she is still acting her ass off.  Pope, Tom, and Ben find Matt.  Hal takes him upstairs while Pope and Tom look for the Doc.

      Back at the front line, Karen has captured Boone.  The mechs kill him, slowly, sending the message to Weaver that they will be next.  A tear runs down Weaver’s face as Tec fires into the nothingness.  Wow, they are making even a chump like Boone’s death means something.  Doc turns an oxygen tank onto an improvised flamethrower and starts to fry bugs.  Bitchin’!   They find Tom and Pope and make a run for it.  When Weaver finds out about Jamil he immediately goes to comfort Lourdes.  Another great moment, and a great acting job from Will Patton, one of his best from the season. 

      Tom is furious and goes to the Overlord with Ben.  The Overlord stands, breaking his chains like they are made of paper.  Apparently, his skinny frame has a lot of power.  The Overlord talks with Tom through Ben and we learn that this is the same Overlord from Tom’s time on the ship.  The Overlord starts by saying a bunch of crap about how the human race was destroying their planet and such, but Tom sees through that BS right away.  Tom asks the Overlord why they are on Earth, but he refuses to tell him.  The Overlord claims that humans are too crippled by sentiment to defeat them.  He proves his point by causing a seizure in Ben, which melts Tom’s will.  Tom begs the Overlord to stop the seizure, which he does, but then Tom shoots him in the face!  Holy Shit!

      Weaver dresses down Tom about shooting the Overlord, but understands too.  Tom convinces Weaver that the skitter rebellion is probably real.  They bring Karen in to see the Overlord.  She and Hal share a tense and nasty moment.  Good acting from Jesse Schram too, damn!  Tom tells Karen that if she lets the Second Mass evacuate, she could save the Overlord.     

      The Second Mass escapes as Weaver gives a rousing speech.  Tom and Doc share a tender moment.  Doc tries to talk to Lourdes, but she is not the same kind and gentle person she was before.  Ben and Tom share a long scene before Ben leaves to go off on his own.  It is a great finish to a great episode.

      Review:

      I am surprised they paid off the Ben/Karen storyline right away; I figured it would take several weeks for Karen to betray Ben, not several minutes.

      The whole opening was really well done.  Capturing the Overlord was a great surprise, and I also liked the quieter scene in the hospital.  A little humor really helps this show.

      All of the action sequences work really well this week.  Some of the special effects are a little blocky, but the human actors are really coming into their own.  Noah Wile especially looks good this week.  He does a great job handling a machine gun, talking to the giant special effect, and with his paternal feelings.  Great episode from him overall.

      I’m pissed off that they killed off Jamil.  He was my favorite non-cast character.  As I watched this the first time I thought, “why don’t they kill off someone annoying, like Boone?” then they did that too.  Bad day for people not in the opening credits.  RIP Jamil, you really were a great character.

      The Overlord is clearly only as captured as he wants to be.  This is the third time this season that a character has allowed themselves to be captured by the Second Mass.  I don’t know what it means, but it is interesting.

      As churchy and annoying as the Lourdes character was before, I hope they take the momentum she has built this episode and run with it.  Seychelle Gabriel has shown me some acting chops this episode.  I’d love to see her search for her faith play out over the second half of the season.

      Grade:  A.  This is the best episode of Falling Skies all year, maybe ever.  The action is tense and the drama is high, with just a touch of humor and horror thrown in.  A great ratio.  The acting was stellar all around in this episode.  There were new aliens, several surprising plot twists, and real peril.  Losing a character like Jamil, who had been featured so prominently, really gives the show an “anything can happen” kind of vibe again.  I’m bummed that we are losing his character, but his death really added something to this episode and to the overall arc of the show.  FS is taking a week off, but next week they are running a marathon of all the season’s episodes.  A great chance to catch up if you haven’t seen all of them yet.

      Second Watch:

      I hope they are interviewing the director this time, because this episode was, by far, the best acted one we’ve had yet.  Nope; Moon Bloodgood and writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle join Wil tonight.  Oh well the writing was good in this episode too.  Moon Bloodgood talks about how she prefers the action stuff to the medical terminology.  She also talks about her relationship with Seychelle, and how their feminine energy is important to this very masculine show.  They talk in depth about Jamil’s death and Wil is surprisingly jubilant.  I must be more attached to the character than he is.  Moon takes an audience question about her relationship with Tom and talks about how they do not play it as overly sentimental, as survival and duty are more important.  I thought that was interesting.  Moon and Wil complement each other’s acting and Moon does the head bow with hands folded like a Catholic in front of her.  Normally I find that gesture annoying, but it seemed natural from her. 

       

      Thanks to Barron Network, Carlost, and Wormholeriders, for the pictures.