Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Orimus


This is what I do when I'm bored: I build worlds.
This one is called Orimus.
It's very much a fantasy world, and, as I was cooking it up, it's history unfolded for me.

Men came to Orimus from the east, crossing the Elvithian Ocean in great wooden ships that resembled swans.  They arrived at the place they would build their great city, Wynrock. From Wynrock, men would explore their new home.  
To the north was an inhospitable coastline that would earn its name, the Lamentable Coast, many times over.  North and west, men discovered they were not alone in Orimus, when they stumbled across the Giants' Graveyard.  Soon enough men encountered the giants themselves; that meeting did not go well and would eventually lead to the Giant War.
Men would have lost the Giant War if not for the appearance of the wizard, Zelerin. He came from the south, from somewhere beyond the Great Desolation. It was Zelerin who brokered a peace between men and giants.  He raised the great wall that bears his name to this day and served as advisor and guide to the men of Wynrock before vanishing as quickly and unexpectedly as he had arrived.
The Long Peace followed the Giant War and men expanded through the South. They built the great citadels of Graygate and Stoutkeep, as well as the towns of Greenwood and Halcyon. Men ranged west and south, into the Red Woods and the Great Desolation, but these expeditions seldom returned. Those that did told terrifying tales and urged their kith and kin to be happy where they were.
The Long Peace did not last.  It could not.  North of Zelerin's Wall, the Medusa Queen escaped from her centuries-long imprisonment. She slew the giants and then turned her cold gaze south, to the lands of men.  Graygate fell in a night, a thousand men turned to lifeless stone as the Medusa Queen's golem army marched toward Wynrock.
Zelerin returned and united a group of unlikely heroes to defeat the Medusa Queen. An immortal, she could not be killed.  Instead, she was blinded and thrown into a magical labyrinth beneath Graygate.
This time, Zelerin did not vanish. He remained among men, establishing an isolated tower near the citadel of Stoutkeep, on the border of the Red Woods.
Over the years, the wizard's demeanor changed. He became reclusive and ill-tempered. Eventually, realizing he was slipping into madness, Zelerin drank a potion made from the Medusa Queen's eyes, and crumbled into dust.
Since Zelerin's death, Orimus has been fairly quiet.  A few years ago, a man named Jerrin attempted to establish a colony north of Zelerin's Wall.  The effort failed and that place is now known as Jerrin's Folly.
Men live quiet lives, clinging to the things that are familiar and safe.  But everyone knows this peace too will end.  There are rumors of something wicked stirring in the Red Woods. Beneath Graygate, the Medusa Queen has started to sing in her Labyrinth and her songs are said to be prophecies.  In the south, there are reports that the Great Desolation is starting to creep north.
The peace will not last. The people of Orimus know this and so they sit by their fires, tend to their business, cherish their loved ones and ready themselves for war.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016)

Good afternoon, gentle readers.
Today, I decided to take one for the team and go and check out the reboot of Ghostbusters.  Now, like many of you, I do not live in a dank cave beneath a bridge with trolls for neighbors.  So, I'm going to assume the majority of you are aware of this movie on some level.  More than likely, you've heard of the outrage from fans of the original movies and Sony's less-than-spectacular attempt at spin.  
You may have heard that this movie is not good. You may have heard and possibly believe that the majority of its online critics are a bunch of whiny, man-babies who hate women.  You may also have heard rumors that Sony basically bought good reviews of the movie from professional reviewers.
Ladies and gentlemen, you may have heard all of these things, and you may believe them.  I heard these rumors and stories, but tried to keep an open mind.  So, after its initial opening weekend, I decided that I would go and see Ghostbusters for myself.
Which, gentle readers, has placed me in a bit of a quandry.
Specifically, I'm wondering how to call this movie a big turd without sounding like a complete asshole.
Because, ladies and gentlemen, that's what I think this movie is. 
A big, cold turd.
It just kind of lies there, in your way, impossible to ignore.  It's not smelly or hot, so you could probably brush it aside with your shoe and nothing would stick to you.
That is probably the best thing that I can say about Ghostbusters 2016.  It will not stick with you and after a little while you'll probably forget all about it.
The writing in this movie is atrocious. The only part that I genuinely enjoyed was the opening scene at the museum, and even that had its issues. (What museum docent is going to just walk away, leaving a fallen object on the floor?)
After that, ladies and gentlemen, it is all down hill.  A slow tobogan ride to boredom.  
The characters are flat and lack chemistry.  McCarthy and Wiig's characters are meant to have a history together, but that never comes through in this movie.  Their relationship is plastic and fake, ultimately making one of the final scenes in the movie feel the same way.  Kate McKinnon's character is just annoying and I can't figure out why Leslie Jones's character would even stick around with the other three?  As for Chris Hemsworth? Eye candy can only do so much.
The villain, played by Neil Casey, is just as bad.  There's nothing particularly malevolent about him. Everybody says he's a weird guy, but outside of his interaction with Leslie Jones's character, we get no sense of that.  We get no backstory, no real motivation for why he's doing what he's doing.
Now, in fairness there's been a lot of commentary that all the men in this movie are portrayed as idiots or dicks.  This isn't really accurate; everyone in this movie is a dick, men and women. If there were kids or dogs in this movie, and I didn't notice either, they would probably have been dicks as well.
Overall, this movie was just a big bore.  It is two hours of your life that you will NEVER GET BACK.
Spare yourself that, please, gentle readers.
You'll thank me for it later.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

#AfterNice

No more prayers now.
No more breast-beating and tears.
Just the Sword of War.

The blade falls quickly.
Lop! Lop! Lop! See the heads roll?
Too little. Too late.

Another day comes.
Another atrocity.
The Sword is too slow.

Now come the bullets.
Tearing through the soft, red flesh.
Still not fast enough.

So out come the bombs.
Whistling as they plummet,
birthing fiery death.

Then there will be peace.
Finally, there will be quiet.
The quiet of death.

Will God weep for us?
Or just sigh in sad relief,
that we killed ourselves?

His hands are bloodless.
(At least, in this instance.)
We picked up the Sword.

No more prayers now.
Just the gray, silent landscape
and the Sword of War.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Grateful

"Gee, Grandpa. What was it like when you were young?"
Joe shifted his grandson to his other leg, and smiled at him.
"Oh. The world was very different, Billy.  We didn't have cable television or wi-fi. The only phones around were connected to your house, by wires and chords.  And you couldn't play games on them at all!"
"Gosh, Grandpa. That sounds really fucking boring."
"Well, it didn't seem that way."  Joe turned and looked out the front window of his small house. Through the bars, he could see smoke rising in the distance.
"There weren't all these riots and shootings either," the old man continued.  "And no reality television. People used to have standards."
In the distance, Joe heard the sudden pop-pop-pop of gunfire.  He didn't even flinch any more when he heard gunshots.
He looked at his 'grandson' and sighed.
"People still had hope for the future," he said.
Billy stared up at Joe with bright, button eyes.  His wooden jaw worked up and down.
"Wow, Grandpa. I guess people were pretty stupid back then, huh?"
"I guess so," admitted Joe.  "I just thank God you're not a real boy, Billy."
He drew his hand, wrinkled and arthritic, from the back of the puppet.  He considered Billy for a moment; the blank, bright button eyes, the cherubic cheeks, dabbed with red paint; painted dark hair.
If I'd had a boy, would he have looked like this? Joe wondered.
Would he be here, at this moment? Or would he be out there somewhere? A policeman. A soldier. Trying to hold everything together.
But it was a moot question. Joe hadn't had children. He'd never fallen in love.
Oh sure, there had been a couple of ladies that he could have married. In his forties, he'd thought about it.  But forty was too old to start a family and, well, he hadn't been in love.  He didn't want to get married out of desperation, just because some imaginary clock was ticking down the minutes of his life.
He stood and carried Billy back to the closet, where he stowed the puppet.  Outside the house, a fire engine screeched past.
Returning to the front room, Joe pulled the blinds and turned off the light. Grateful it was just him.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Messengers


Waiting in the dark,
wings spread in quiet welcome.
What word do they bring?