Category Archives: Science Fiction

Out on a limb


This is the first chapter of The Set’la. After my completed editing phase 1:

The stiffness she felt in her neck woke her up. At first, she thought it was a dream; she seemed to be standing up with her arms stretched out from her body. Her neck was not the only thing that hurt. Every muscle in her body seemed tense, like the day after a marathon. Dani tried to move her arms, but they felt tied down, some type of twine secured her hands against the rough wall. Then, the darkness and noises invaded her thoughts, surrounding her from all sides. The growls and squeals of unfamiliar creatures blended like a bad symphony. As her eyes grew accustomed to the lack of light, she began to make out shapes appearing out of the dark fog. She was in a forest, tied to a tree.

‘My house didn’t have any forests around it.’, she thought. The air, damp, and cold against her skin sent goose bumps across her naked body. The scent of decay and fresh rain mixed to give the forest a sense of rebirth.

A twig snapped in the undergrowth. Something was walking toward her. Whatever it was, it tried to be quiet, but she heard each footfall, each rasping breath. Straining against the material around her wrists, the twine finally broke and she was free. Turning around, she gazed up at the tree, barely making out a few low hanging branches. The closest one was ten feet above her. She hugged the trunk and slowly began the climb. It was easier than she expected. Her bare feet seemed to know just where they should go to get the best footing. Reaching the lowest branch, she curled her body around it and shut her eyes. She then remembered that she hated heights. Her heart pounded in her chest as the creature closed in. She could smell it, a musky wet odor, like a rug left out in the rain all week. The animal sniffed at the spot where she had been, the low snarl that came from its throat sounded like laughter. If she could read its thoughts she would hear, “You really think you can escape that easily?” The moonlight filtering in through the trees reflected off the eyes as it seemed to stare at Dani. The claws dug into the tree as it began the climb, the sound of its body scraping against the bark.

She could barely make out its shape as it closed in on her. Its red eyes shining with an inner light, it snarled. Without thinking, Dani lashed out with her foot, catching the creature in the throat. The force of the blow made it lose its grip on the tree and fall backwards, grasping at the air as it whined like an injured dog. One last cry escaped its throat as she heard it land with a thud. A grateful sigh escaped her parched throat as she closed her eyes, hugging the branch for dear life. Now all she had to do was figure out a way down.

‘I think I’ll stay here for a while.’ she decided, trying to relax.

Try as she might, she couldn’t. She led a simple, easy life on Earth. There never was any money issue; her parents had left her very well off. The week after they passed away, the courts awarded her enough money that she wouldn’t have to work again.

She kept busy, constantly with marathons and other sporting events like archery, rowing, and learning Tae kwon do. She learned the martial art quickly and was soon a black belt. Her Master told her many times, she was the fastest learning pupil he ever taught.

The men were the only thing she had problems with. Most of the ones she met were just searching for an easy one night stand.

‘Why am I here? Wherever here is? Maybe it’s a dream, a nightmare! Maybe if I fall asleep, I will wake – and be home.’ Her eyes closed as her body tensed and she fell asleep.

***

With a start, her eyes flashed open as she began to slide on the course bark. Light was returning to the forest, chasing away the darkness and letting color return to the landscape. All she could see were the tightly packed trees around her. Some were familiar, others strange and different. Most of the green leaves had a slight blue tint, glistening in the morning dew; others had red and yellow rings.

Scanning the forest floor, she discovered the body of the creature that attacked her the night before. It was in a very uncomfortable position about ten feet from the base of the tree. From the nose to the tip of its long thick tail, it was about six feet long. Its head lay in a very unnatural position atop a twisted neck. A rough coat of fur covered the body, thin and ringed with tan circles; it reminded her of a tiger, but the head was different, the snout was shorter, more like a pug nosed dog. Jaws, muscular and thick were open, revealing a swollen tan tongue resting on sharp jagged teeth.

“How the hell, did I escape that?” she said softly, as if she was afraid of being heard. She sure didn’t want to bring more predators to her roost.

Vertigo forced the fear into her heart and she just wanted to get her feet onto solid ground, but she also needed to know where she was—not to mention how she got here. Gingerly, she unwrapped herself from the branch and got up onto her hands and knees. Crawling backwards until she reached the trunk, she stood up, trying to concentrate on keeping her head up and eyes forward. The branch she was standing on was at least five feet thick; the trunk was three times that. It reminded her of the Redwood Forest she had visited with her parents when she was younger. Straight ahead, she saw nothing but gigantic trees. She could make out little creatures in every one, flying from branch to branch. They reminded her of monkeys, except they had small flaps under their arms that they used for gliding from one limb to another.

“Dani,” she said, “you’re not in Ohio anymore.”

The uppermost branches began to thin out above her, and that is where she needed to go, just to get her bearings. Climbing it with surprising ease, she reached a point where she could see above this odd forest. There was a range of mountains directly in front of her that seemed to be within walking distance. First, she had to find out which direction she was facing. Gazing to either side of her, she located not one, but two suns, one of which was just rising above the treetops, while the other smaller sun was about a hands width above it.

“Where am I?” She whispered, as if she expected to hear someone answering her. Sitting down in a precarious position, her thoughts went back to what happened the night before…

***

The last thing she remembered was sitting alone in Sam’s Bar, drinking her usual Long Island Ice Tea.

The place was busier than normal for a Tuesday night. When she opened the door, the smoke and noise assaulted her like a punch. Men lined up against the bar, surveying the crowded tables, searching for that one special person they wanted to meet. They watched closely as the women in the sea of tables expressed what they wanted by body language that the men thought they could read.

To the sound of a loud Toby Keith song she walked back to her favorite table in the shadows, and she could feel every eye on her. Even being dressed down as she was, a loose sweatshirt and  comfortable fitting  jeans, they still watched as her long flowing red hair billowed out behind her.

She only came down to Sam’s between relationships, which lately meant about once a month. She enjoyed watching people; covertly of course, matching up in her mind which woman each man would go after. She made it a rule, never to become one of those women. Occasionally, there was the man that thought he was God’s gift to women, and they never failed to come after her, hoping to prove it. They were the newbies to the bar. The regulars would try to talk them out of approaching her, but some men never learned.

It wasn’t until 10 P.M. that the stranger came in and zeroed in on her the moment the door closed behind him. Sitting down at the thick dark walnut bar, he propped a worn out cowboy boot upon the polished gold foot rail, listening to the regulars warn him about her.

“Don’t bother with the chick in the corner; she’s not in the mood tonight.” He didn’t listen. He didn’t saunter when he walked over, most guys had a specific walk when they tried to hit on her. He just came over and sat down across from her, removing his battered cowboy hat in the process. Dressed only in a faded gray long sleeve cotton shirt and black jeans, flowing over his well-used brown boots, he didn’t say a word as he their eyes met. The silver hair, combed straight back and bunched together to form a ponytail, reached half way down his back. Even in the loose clothing he wore, she could tell he was very muscular.

“I’m sorry. I want to be alone.” She actually thought he was extremely handsome with his strong jaw line and aquiline nose. His most unusual feature, the silver eyes, seemed to bore into hers, and not once since he sat down did his gaze waver from her jade green eyes.

“Hi, the names Kevin, what’s yours?” His voice was smooth and sexy with a touch of an accent that she couldn’t place. His aftershave, or cologne, was sweet and tempting. A fragrance she wasn’t at all familiar with, but it had an intoxicating effect.

“Dani.” She answered, immediately regretting that she opened her mouth – she didn’t want this tonight.

“That’s a pretty name.” He just stared at her with those silver, mesmerizing eyes.

“You’re new in here aren’t you?” ‘Damn,’ she thought. ‘Why did I ask that? I just want to be left alone.’

“Yeah, just flew in.”

“Oh, from where?”

“Oh a little hole in the wall you wouldn’t know it.”

He didn’t blink at all during the conversation. Even the way he lifted his drink to the thin lips seemed to be highly erotic to her.

“What brings you to Chesterville?” she asked.

“You.”

The rest of the night was like a blur. It was as if she was in a trance, but could feel everything. He asked her to leave with him and she got up, seeing all the disbelieving stares from the few men that she had turned down before, and all the jealous ones from the women that were going to be leaving empty handed. The two of them walked out of the bar, hand in hand, across the street and up to his room in the Hillford Arms.

She felt like she was in a deep trance, maybe hypnotism, or a drug poured into her drink, but she couldn’t control it – whatever it was. He walked her to the bed and kissed her passionately. The cologne she smelled before was more overpowering now than when she first noticed it. It seemed to be emanating from his body and it was having a very desirable effect on her.  As he held her tight she could feel his hardness and knew he wanted her. She felt herself begin to give in to the moment, all her resolves vanished as he began to undress her.

She swooned in his arms, never had this happened to her, so quickly. Before she even realized it, their naked bodies merged as one. She felt him inside her – his hardness pressing into her as far as he could go. Her hands held him closer. After the first time she closed her eyes, only to reopen them as he got up and walked to the small bathroom. The light from the outside sign reflected off two perpendicular scars traveling down his back.

When he returned he was hard again, or still hard. It was difficult to tell, but they were soon heating up the room again.

***

She remembered more sensations after that. A sharp point entered her neck, causing a disembodied feeling until she passed out and woke tied to a tree. She checked herself. She had a few scratches here and there, nothing serious. The insects that owned this tree were already biting her in places that she normally left for lovers, when she had one.

She had to get to water. The best choice were the mountains off in the distance. There had to be water near them, she was sure of it. Taking a deep breath, to steady her nerves, she took one last glance at her destination. That’s when she noticed the flock of birds circling, very far off like specs on the horizon. Even from this distance, she thought them to be larger than eagles from her native Earth.

Turning around, she carefully began her descent from the tree. Occasionally, she fought back the fear and had to glance down, to be sure of her footing. Once she reached the branch she had clung to earlier that morning, she lost her grip. Scrabbling to hold on, her hands found nothing to grab but air.

She was ten feet from the ground and falling. Taking a chance, she braced herself for the impact and let her well-muscled legs take most of the jolt. As she landed, her knees bent and she crouched down.

‘That was close. No pain or broken anything,’ she thought. With a final glance at the creature that tried to have her for dinner last night, she started walking in as much of a straight line as she could toward the range of mountains in the distance. Frequently, she had to maneuver around a large tree that blocked her path. Some of them were larger than redwoods from California.

Dani would be the first to admit, she wasn’t much of a botanist, but she didn’t see any tree, flower, or bush that was familiar. Even the bugs that wanted to chew on her bare skin bore no resemblance to those of her world. Occasionally, small reptiles scattered out from her pathway, some with wings, and more legs than she could count.

After twenty minutes of walking at a good clip, she noticed that she was breathing easily and wasn’t even sweating. At first, she thought it might have something to do with whatever Kevin injected into her, besides his tool, unless that was a dream too. She stopped and checked her pulse, clocking it at fifty beats a minute. That was strange for her, unless she was just waking up. Back home, she walked two miles a day in the morning, and ran two in the evening. Her heart rate should have been twenty beats faster than what is was now.

Continuing on, she heard something behind her, crawling through the underbrush. She stopped as she saw it climb on to a fallen trunk. Dani could feel her heart beating faster as the hair on the back of her neck tingled. It was smaller than the creature that attacked her earlier; it stood on four legs and had a long prehensile tale that was poised above its back. Standing about as tall as a medium sized dog, about two feet high, the fur-less dark splotched skin almost blended in with the undergrowth. She didn’t see any reason to be fearful of this small animal.

The creature must have noticed that it was spotted, for it opened its jaws and showed off the double rows of sharp teeth inside as a flap of skin encircling its head inflated. Probably used to scare off its enemies, she assumed.

As it let out a piercing shriek, Dani no longer thought it was cute, ‘It definitely worked for me!’ She thought as she took off running as fast as she could with the creature in pursuit. Her speed was better than any track meet she had ever run. At one point in the race, she noticed a tree that had recently fallen over, possibly from a lightning strike. The trunk was about four feet wide, and presently blocking her path. She leaped over it, startled again as she seemed to fly through the air. Her head almost hit a branch that was fifteen feet from the ground. Once she landed, she stopped and turned. The jump had taken her about thirty feet from the log.

Suddenly, she didn’t have time to think about what had just occurred. Her pursuer was perched on the log. It didn’t stay there long. With a roar, it jumped. Noticing a branch lying next to her, about five inches thick and three feet long, she grabbed hold of it and took a stance. When the dog was five feet from her it leaped. Dani swung, making solid contact with the creature’s head and killing it instantly.

Now her heart was racing, but not from exhaustion. She leaned on what was left of the branch as she tried to figure out what had just happened.

“Let’s see, I can run and walk faster. Jump higher and am obviously stronger. Two Suns.” She could clearly see that one was not as yellow as her sun. “I think I’m Superwoman. Lighter gravity! And I’m hungry.”

She saw the mangled head of the creature she had just killed, but she didn’t like eating raw meat. She didn’t have anything to make a fire with at all, and she knew the smell of blood would bring more scavengers. Keeping what was left of the branch as a weapon, she continued at a fast trot in the direction she was going before.

Five minutes later, the trees of the forest thinned out and she began descending a slop covered with waist high reddish colored grass. The center of the crater was leveled out with gravel and weeds, marred only by the burned out stump of a tree trunk twenty yards wide and about ten feet high.

Quietly, she moved down the steep slope until she came to the flat ground. Small pools of water spread across the ground, holding the last bit of rain that fell around here. She didn’t stop to think if it was safe to drink, she just knelt down and cupped some muddy water into her hand, her eyes still scanning the area, waiting for something to jump out of the high grass.

The liquid was warm and soothed her throat, her parched mouth soaking it up as fast as it entered.

She smelled them before she heard them, reaching for her makeshift club. It sounded like a wild animal, a large one at that. Her eyes caught some movement above the treetops. The flock of large birds she had seen earlier. Presently, they were too far away to be much of a danger.

Softly, and without making a sound, she stood straight up, slowly turning her head to survey the grassy slope. She noticed it behind her, about ten feet away. Something was slowly making its way through the waist high grass, slithering down the slope. There was also more than one. Five creatures were parting their way through the grass.

Dani tried to slow her heart down, it sounded like it was too loud. It would give her away. As she saw one of the creatures stand up on its hind legs she gasped. It heard. Willing herself to freeze, she stared at it.

The cat, if that’s what it was, stood at least ten feet tall, about as thick as a grizzly and completely hairless. It’s tough sinewy skin showed of the muscular outlines in all the right places. The face was catlike, with thick whiskers, that she thought may be like a cat’s, but they had to be about one inch thick. The ears were pointed and standing straight up. It eyed her, its mouth parting for an instant showing off two-inch fangs that appeared to be purposefully sharpened. Definitely eats meat, she thought.

Something ripped its attention from her and the creature seemed to brace for an attack. Dani was so engrossed in the coming battle; she didn’t notice the birds closing in.

Suddenly, the rest of the cat-like creatures, all five of them, raised their heads collectively over the grass. One, she could handle; she had her doubts about five.

I thought I would have a little fun with this and throw it on “I write like,” and it gave me Rudyard Kipling. Cool, that name I recognize.

Let me know what you think, and anything else you would like to comment on.  

 

Advertisements

My thoughts on “Rise of The Planet of The Apes”


I first saw “Planet of the Apes” (the 1968 version) at a drive-in theatre at a very young age—old enough to remember it but I am guessing around 1969 when I hit twelve. It held double billing with “Barbarella”, which we never did finish watching that night. At the first shot of a half naked Jane Fonda my dad was out of the parking lot. With a car full of three kids, ages twelve to eighteen, and one wife he really didn’t have much of a choice. (Since that night I have seen bits and pieces of that movie and I am glad he left.)

The story of “The Planet of the Apes” fueled my young imagination and the state of the art effects (SOA for 1968 at least) thrilled me. The tale of three astronauts being lost in space and returning to an Earth in the future that is ruled by apes left me wanting more, asking questions—How could this happen? The sequels that followed merged throughout the years, one finally getting around to answering the questions—yet not good enough. I’m not going to even mention the television series from 1974 (all 14 episodes) or the ones that followed.

This is a cult classic, I love it and I have all the main movies. When the remake came out in 2001 I looked forward to it and was a little disappointed.  Maybe it was Markee Mark or the fact that Heston returned just to reverse a famous line. (I wonder how much they paid him for that.) It just didn’t work for me. I would watch it again, but I would not add it to my collection. Just as I started to think Hollywood has run out of ideas, out comes “Rise of The Planet of the Apes.” The trailer itself gave me goose bumps.

This movie has answered most of my questions about how it all happened. This is the perfect prequel and one of the few films I have been happy buying before I see it. (Blu Ray DVD has awesome extras so be sure to check them out.) As the film makers did for Golem in Lord of the Rings, they hired Andy Serkis to walk around in a suit with all kinds of electrodes and LED’s so computer animators could fill in the rest to make Ceaser. Mr. Serkis is awesome as the first (technically he is the second) intelligent ape and pulls this off flawlessly. His expressions and mannerisms come through even after the awesome computer graphics are applied.  There were a lot of people dressed in those suits for this movie that were taught how to “Ape Walk” by Terry Notary, the “movement choreographer,” who also played two of the apes. The writing is right on track with perfectly thrown in references to the original movie, some hidden and some not. There is one scene where a TV is playing in the background and I heard Heston’s voice, but I haven’t figured out which movie it is yet. I may by the third viewing. Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter, just seems to reprise his mean boy role, but it ends up to be an electrifying performance none the less.

Still, for me, one question remains unanswered…but I can’t ask it or I will ruin the movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it. But go ahead, watch it, enjoy it. It is well worth it.

Of Help, Tron and Super 8


This weekend at the movies almost hit a high note, being one of my better movie renting weekends in a long time, worthy enough to write about. We will start with the oldest.

1982 in movies almost looked like a year of sequels; I counted nine including “Star Trek II”, and a mixture of horror sequels like “Amityville II”, “Halloween III” and “Rocky III”. In June, Disney released “Tron”. Unfortunately for them it fought tooth and nail with Star Trek and ET that year so the box office results were not that pretty. This was also the year of “Bladerunner”, “The Dark Crystal”, and “Poltergiest”. Plus John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, which explains why Disney used Jeff Bridges in “Tron” instead of using Kurt Russell. I’m not really sure who would have been better at it but the acting was a little bad. Thirty years ago, (showing my age again) I loved video games, spending a lot of afternoons in arcades and I was looking forward to this movie. My exact impressions of it when I saw it for the first time are lost in the cloudy web of my memory. I only rented it because I had “Tron: Legacy” in my que and I can’t possibly watch the sequel to a movie over 30 years old when I haven’t seen the first movie more than once or twice. My wife refused to watch it so I started it alone. That right there should have warned me. The acting was ….well…it still just wasn’t there for me. Never did finish watching it. I think I have to watch “Tron: Legacy” alone too. (Or maybe send it back without opening it.)

My step daughter’s friend brought a movie over Saturday, I figure they just couldn’t find anywhere else to watch it so they came over for a short visit for the first time in a week. She looked dead at me and said, “Sorry B…It’s a chick flick, but it’s good.”

She was right; “The Help” is a story about a writer in 1960’s Jackson Mississippi that gets the notion in her head to write about life as a maid during the Civil Rights Movement, from the maid’s perspective. This true story held my attention, made me laugh and even feel bad sometimes. I will never look at a piece of pie the same way again. I highly recommended this to all. The acting, writing and historical accuracy (as far as I know) were perfectly done.

Probably my favorite scene:

The last one was a pleasant surprise.

               No, this is not a zombie movie, sort of. Super 8 is yet another movie that starts off making you think you will be watching an alien invasion movie—seen enough of those this year—but it is not. The tale is of a group of kids that are helping a friend shoot a movie when they witness a train wreck. Something in the train escapes and causes strange havoc in this small town. I didn’t catch exactly when this movie took place but possibly twenty years after the excitement in Roswell New Mexico. Produced by Steven Speilberg and written, produced and directed by J.J. Abrams (my, he has been busy). This is another must see movie about a lost alien trapped on Earth that just wants to go home—filled with a pie full of new young actors and a few older ones that help them hold it together like Kyle Chandler. This may seem like E.T. (Another movie from some young director back in 1982 that was the story of a group of kids finding a lost alien that just wants to leave) but only in pieces.

I am glad it wasn’t another alien invasion movie because I am getting tired of those. I do believe that Earth has been visited before—I don’t think they stayed long. I actually don’t blame them. However, according to Hollywood I think we have been invaded over one hundred times at least by evil aliens that wanted something from us. I suppose I would like a more peaceful invasion, like this one here:

               I can’t wait for that one. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think we have been visited by aliens? Or did they just hit orbit, observe and leave?

My thoughts on TV shows we watch


If we’re not doing chores or running errands around my house we either watch movies from Netflix or TV shows we record at night to watch when we have more time. This Fall brought us a lot more choices to enjoy, somewhat.

We enjoy the occasional well written and acted crime dramas, but the ones we use to watch are becoming old and a little predictable—like most shows. After experiencing all the CSI spin offs we finally stopped watching them. The original we dropped after the loss of Grissom and CSI Miami only lasted two years in our house. New York we watched until this year because of the casting changes. I can understand actors moving on after a while doing the same thing, but sometimes these characters carry the show rather well.

Bones, Castle and Law & Order we also love to watch along with Body of Proof. Harry’s Law, which popped onto the airwaves last year, is a hit with us, but I have always liked David E. Kelly shows. We also catch repeats of Criminal Minds as often as we can.

The comedies that have flooded the airwaves in the past few years haven’t really caught my attention, but slightly on accident we discovered two that make me laugh—sometimes that is hard to do. Modern Family and Big Bang Theory are both hilarious shows that keep me laughing or smiling during the entire thirty minutes.

Modern Family is a spoof on all those reality shows out there (which I cannot bear watching). Although I hated Ed O’Neil in Married with Children this show has seemed to mature him into something I can watch.

The Big Bang Theory had a cast of brilliant young comedians that play two college professors, Leonard and Sheldon, and two Cal-Tech scientists, Wolowitz and Koothrappali that all have high IQ’s. The four of them are very content to spend their nights doing things geeky and wonderful from collecting comic books to playing Call of Duty. Wolowitz is the only one without an IQ over 120, but he graduated MIT. The only thing they are not comfortable with are interpersonal skills, which is what this show deals with when a beautiful free-spirited woman named Penny moves next door and Sheldon becomes interested in her. As I sit there watching this, listening to all the Sci-Fi and computer references I get a big chuckle and I see a little of me in all of them. Leonard is my normal sane self that goes through life wondering what will happen next yet taking it all in stride. Sheldon is my geekyness and my seldom seen attention to detail that likes everything as it is and wants nothing to change. Wolowitz is the charmer that thinks every woman wants him and thinks only of this and Koothrappali is the shy one that just has trouble talking to women.

As to Sci-Fi—there doesn’t seem to be that much out there now, except Fringe and Warehouse 13. Fringe we stopped watching this year because we got lost and confused. Speaking of Lost, we tried that too—one season and we were looking for a way off the island because we didn’t like being Lost.

This Fall bought in a few we thought would be interesting, Prime Suspect lasted only a few episodes with us and I already heard it was canceled. We tried out the three episodes of The Playboy Club and that one we won’t miss either. We only watched one episode of Charlie’s Angles before we decided that it wouldn’t last for two reasons, predictability and the fact that Charlie was going to have to pay for some improvements to the IBTC.

Person of Interest has kept ours. This is a very fresh idea and I do like the actors—somewhat flat but the show is action packed and it isn’t as predictable as most. Not that I am a conspiracy theorist but I can believe in the plot of this show, the government watching everyone through all the cameras in the city with the help of a super computer to catch terrorist through their actions. The persons of interest that the computer found don’t fit the profile of terrorist, but they are up to something and that is what Reese, Jim Caviezel, and Finch, Michael Emerson, have to figure out.

Revenge is another interesting show we found captivating, the story of the daughter of a framed man that comes back to the Hamptons to get revenge on the people that set him up. A show like this leaves you wondering if anyone is going to be left in the Hamptons when she is done.

Grimm caught our attention, it has its predictability but they are interesting stories. Run over and visit Kait Nolan’s blog for her views on this, mine are very similar. I like the quotes they have in the beginning but they don’t tell you what story they referance.

Last up is Terra Nova. The thought of Fox doing a Sci-Fi show where they send people back into the past to save their future comes clear when you think about them making an alternate timeline. This I can understand. It started out very good with a lot of great dinosaur graphics, but they must have blown their graphic budget on the first few episodes because now we get a few shots in the dark or one or two dinos per episode, or none at all. They are keeping the stories interesting.

Since most of these shows only have an hour to solve whatever problem crops up it still isn’t hard to think to yourself, ‘I saw that coming—gee, I could have written this.’

Life in the fast lane?


MOVIE: We had two movies on our list to watch this weekend, Friday was Little Fockers. To be honest, I was playing Civilization V and didn’t even watch the movie. The wife said it was cute. I always loved Robert Di Niro when he plays tough serious guys, and the humor he does in those roles makes me laugh, but I thought the first one was stupid and I knew this one would probably be worse. I find it hard to believe they made three of these movies. I never could get the humor of Ben Stiller and I simply hated Zoolander. I know sometimes a silly stupid comedy is what you need. I suppose this is something I never really got into. I have always gone by the theory that if a movie doesn’t make me laugh in the first ten minutes I won’t like it. Maybe I should change that to thirty. I bought Civilization two nights before just so I would be ready.

LIFE: Saturday morning, as I was trying to conquer the world instead of writing, my mom called and said she wasn’t feeling good so I took her to the ER, alone. To make a long story even shorter than it needs to be, she was admitted and is currently having a large amount of tests done to figure out why. The thing about Medicare is that since she doesn’t have to pay for it the hospital insists that they run every test they can, she doesn’t pay for it but they get their money either way. And they wonder why Medicare is having financial problems. She has improved since she has been in. This isn’t the first time she had heart issues that the hospitals never seem to find anything when she goes in. I was there from 10 AM until 5 PM, and I needed to be. When I got home – the wife couldn’t come because she was playing taxi service – we settled down and watched another flick:

MOVIE: Unstoppable (2010) is the tale of a runaway train speeding through Pennsylvania. (This is based on the true story of engine 8888 from the CXS stables which ran away in May of 2001. It traveled from Walbridge, Ohio to a town about 55 miles north of Columbus reaching speeds of up to 47 MPH.) This had enough nail biting suspense I had to stop playing my game and actually watch it. Chris Pine and Denzel Washington star as the two heroic engineers, actually Washington was the Engineer and Pine was the Conductor. (Is that type casting from Star Trek?) They ended up stopping the train and saving a city from almost total destruction. Type casting again? This is a great movie with enough action and suspense to keep your heart racing and your toes tingling. Writers did take advantage of a few plot twists I am sure, like making it go faster and carrying more than just two cars of dangerous chemicals, not to mention a steep curve they had to negotiate. I’ll have to dig a little deeper to find out more and wonder if my favorite line in the movie was real dialogue:

“How’s Will (Pine)?” Connie asked when he made it back into the cab.

“He’s ahh…He’s different. Over” Frank (Washington) replied perfectly straight.

Guess you will have to watch it. I did find this new clip from the real incident:

And this trailer:

TELEVISON: Sunday was a little different too. This time the wife was gone all day and I was stuck at home. You would think I would get more writing done wouldn’t you? I watched my Star Trek marathon; I’m just now finishing up the second season since the kids have an issue with Sci-fi, as I continued conquering the world on Civilization V. I think I have three more nations to kill before I manage it.

WRITING: As I might have mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for the NaNoWriMo, the grueling month of November when the only thing I will be doing is writing. I have three plot lines in mind:

1)      A sequel to Journey of Tara where Dirk and Tara search for someone behind the killing of thousands of people.

2)      A Sci-Fi story that involves time travel and dimensional shifts.

3)      A Fantasy that sends a Prince on a journey to find the murderer of a King that leads him into a land of dark black magic (maybe – I think this has been done before.)

One thing I have been trying to do is type at least 1667 words per day, that is what you need for 50,000 a month, and I got close Friday on a small piece I was working on, 1250 words. Need to do better.

As a side note, I would like to thank everyone that downloaded my books last week – it was a record breaking week for me and that always makes me feel good, as do positive reviews. (Hint) {If there are any negative reviews please send them to me so I can add comments as needed and I will return them.

Just kidding…

Really…

It was a joke. }

Answer me this;

Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo? I’m looking forward to it myself, just need to do it!

Ships of the Line


Stardate, 334639.04

Friday, August 22nd, 2657

Reported by Lt. Brian Hutchinson

Historical Division

Federation of Planets.

Currently serving on the USS Enterprise – NCC 1701 M

 

For one of the classes on this multi-family exploration Starship, I have been asked for my opinion of the most relevant moments in Federation history involving ships of the line named Enterprise.

I believe I should start at the beginning, which actually starts in 2373, Star Date 50100.2 when the USS Enterprise – NCC 1701-E, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, follows a Borg sphere into the past to March 2, 2063.

Here the Borg attempted to assimilate Earth before Zephram Cochrane’s first warp drive test that bought about First Contact. With the help of his crew Picard manages to save the future of Earth. I’ve always loved the time travel stories that the Enterprise’s crews and Captains have shared with the Federation readers. The way Picard describes this in his logs the action was fast paced and they saved the Phoenix almost at the last minute, and also destroyed the Borg Queen, but not without some loses in the process.

 

For the next instance, I will pick the incident at Broken Bow on April 16, 2151. Earth’s first encounter with a Klingon brings about the launch of the very first warp drive ship, the Enterprise NX-01 commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer. Against the wishes of the Vulcan High Command the Enterprise launches with a Vulcan Science Officer and Denoblian doctor. This starts an exciting four year voyage where the tenacious starship Captain and his crew meet Klingon, Romulans, Sulaban, Organisms, Onions, Tholians, and Androrians and save Earth from the misguided Zindi. His voyages alone opened up space for more exploration and laid the foot steps that would eventually lead to the beginning of the Federation. Archer eventually became an Admiral in Star Fleet and served in many more campaigns for peace.

 

For another one, we should first pay a visit to 1996 and the Eugenics War and the escape of Khan Noonien Singh in a sleeper ship called The Botany Bay. The ship is recovered accidently in 2267, Star Date 3141.9, by Captain James T. Kirk on the USS ENTERPRISE – 1701. Khan and his crew are awakened accidently and eventually commandeer the Enterprise, coming very close to killing Kirk and his crew before Lt. Marla McGivers comes to her senses and rescues Kirk. For reasons only known to Kirk, the crew of the Botany Bay is stranded on Ceti-Alpha 5. The story doesn’t end here.

In 2285, Star Date 8130.3, First Officer Pavel Chekov, formerly of the USS Enterprise, is serving aboard the starship USS Reliant while they search of a lifeless planet for the Genesis Project. When they get a possible glitch in their sensors from Ceti-Alpha 6 they beam down and investigate further, finding Kahn still alive, and very upset. Khan manages to gain control of the Reliant and the Genesis device. He eventually finds Admiral James T. Kirk aboard the training ship USS Enterprise and manages to set off the device, killing Kirk’s best friend, Captain Spock. Soon after the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701 is destroyed by Admiral James T. Kirk. Many things begin at this point which will eventually help stabilize the Federation, including the rebirth of Spock, the saving of Earth (again) and the peace accord with the Klingon Empire.

 

Which is actually my next little historical note, in 2293 – Stardate 9521.6, Captain Kirk and the new crew of the Enterprise – NCC 1701 A escorts Chancellor Gorkon of the Klingon Empire to a peace conference on Earth. During the voyage Gorkon is assassinated and Kik and McCoy are arrested for murder. The two of them are found guilty then tried on Kronos before being sentenced to the penal asteroid, Rura Pente. After escaping they discovered a conspiracy to undermine the efforts of the peace plan. Once again, Kirk saves Earth. Soon afterwards the Enterprise –A is decommissioned and the higher ranking officers retire.

 

The last item on my list involves “Q”, a member of a race of beings so advanced even now we know little about them. Q had a habit of interfering with the journeys of the USS Enterprise D under the command of Jean-Luc Picard. During one of these chance meetings in 2365, Star Date 42761.3 the crew is sent into system J25 where they meet the Borg. This is possibly the second time, or third that the Borg has been met since Humans discovered warp drive. But this meeting forced the Borg to seek Humans out and eventually meet the Federation in battle. This was a devastating event for the Federation, but because of their overcoming the Borg presence they had a chance to study their science and technology. This helped a lot in the future exploration of the galaxy and humans were a lot more comfortable going where no man has gone before.

 Be sure to warp over to visit Ellie’s blog fest for the rest of the fest!  http://www.elliegarratt.blogspot.com/ 

 

 

Order – Disordered


I was planning on doing more movie reviews this afternoon, but when the wife found out what the movies were she gave me “The look.” This is her trade mark expression whenever she believes I have done something wrong. Her eyes become narrow slits; all you can see is the bright green line of her cornea as her eyebrows crunch down over her brow. Occasionally she will do either the thin flat lipped scowl, or just settle for the jaw dropping expression that says basically, “What the F___ were you thinking?”

Fortunately, I do not get this a lot; in fact this was the first time in at least a month since this look crossed her lovely face. But I got the message loud and clear – the movies, “Gulliver’s Travels” with Jack Black and “The Killer,” with Chow Yun Fat made in 1989, went back to Netflix unopened, and unwatched. Instead this weekend, between cleaning the house, getting rid of the jungle that has spread across our back yard – my wife calls herself the Queen of Thistles because we get so many and they always come back bigger – and suffering through countless hours of news that my mom likes to watch. (Why is that old people – over 80 – like to watch the news so much? I care about what is happening in the world, but I can only take it in small increments no bigger than 90 minutes.) We caught up on the shows we missed for the past two weeks. The Closer, Rissole & Isles, Warehouse 13, The Glades, Memphis Beat, Falling Skies, Alphas, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, White Collar, and Royal Pains. All of these shows can keep my attention for a little while, until I can see what’s coming before it happens. I pay more attention to the Sci-Fi than anything else except for The Closer and Rissole & Isles.

Warehouse 13 is very enjoyable – some of the stories they come up with about these artifacts are very interesting and will keep you guessing. But when I saw Jerri Ryan get stung by an Egyptian Golden beetle I really expected her to turn into a Borg. Sorry – that is typecasting.

Alphas is okay, a nice fresh look at super powers or are they more like mutants. It is hard to tell but it hasn’t lost me yet.

Falling Skies is keeping my brain moving, which TV shows should do. With the type of race indentified last week as the ones in charge of the Skitters I’m thinking maybe they were originally humanoid. As a side note – I know the season finale was last night, I haven’t watched it yet – with our schedule it will take a couple of days to watch both hours. (A season finale already? Wow.)

Memphis Beat I can do without only because I always see the guy from My Name is Earl and when it comes to situation comedies you better make me laugh in ten minutes or I turn you off for good – that didn’t make the cut.

The rest keep my interest, fresh takes on old themes, and only the occasional story that has run ground so many times. But I understand that when it comes to writing TV mysteries the hardest part is not making it seem so familiar and trying to think of different ways to kill people that haven’t been done before is damn hard.

Between the breaks, early morning rising for early hours, and sometimes when I get home before 1pm, I watch Netflix Instant play, since when they raise their price in September I will be canceling at least that part. I have been watching Star Trek: Enterprise, if I can convince my mom that she has watched enough news. Surprisingly enough she likes it. She says it is a lot more entertaining than the news and I agree. I’m closing in on the last few episodes of Season 3 now, the only season I do not have of any Star Trek series. The acting keeps improving from season to season, and the stories are all beginning to tie in with each other – but there is so much time travel in this four season pre Star Trek: TOS even I am getting confused. I do like the fact that the ships in this are totally CGI – I think all the effects from space are CGI also, I may be mistaken. And what I really like is the fact that they digitally re-mastered the original series to have the same look, CGI planets, ships and everything they could without destroying the feel of the series. Of course they did this right before I got my hands on the original series and – NetFlix Instant play (or whatever it is called) doesn’t have the CGI versions. Bummer.

Since my mom has been living with us for a little over a month it has made life rather interesting, and somewhat strained. But nothing I can’t handle. (I blame my medication for my easy going attitude.) She does embarrass me occasionally, like when we went to an apartment complex, which she knew was an apartment complex, and asked if they provide meals or transportation. “Okay, uh no they don’t, this is not assisted living mom.”

I checked those out too, I don’t understand why some are so expensive. One place wanted $2400.00 a month, true they were all-inclusive, three meals a day, activities, runs to hospitals and doctor offices and even onsite pharmacies, but do they have to take all their money?

But we are getting closer to a solution, and hopefully in a month things may be back to normal.

I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

Oh yes, must express my condolences for the loss of my step daughters cat, Sushi. She went Sunday to the big scratching post in the sky. Bye Sushie – may cat heaven fit you well.

“What are you doing?”


That’s what my wife texted me with yesterday as I sat in front of my computer NOT writing.

Names and businesses have been changed on this blog to protect me from unwelcome lawsuits.

The truth of the matter is, you hear about it, but for some unknown reason you never really expect it to happen to you.

I’m talking about fraud. It’s a dirty little word, and in these times I understand why it is worse.

My first experience involved an internet application where I got a lot of my music from.  (When you’re a security guard you need your music.) A few months ago someone hacked into my account and used all of my store credit. Luckily for me I use prepaid gift cards so technically I didn’t lose anything. After a week worth of emails I was finally refunded the amount. It happened again a month later and again after a week a got a refund.

Along with a letter that stated this would be the last time I would receive compensation for any further breaches of my account. Since I change passwords so much I get confused I need to say this, “Uhh….if you had better security on your site this won’t happen again!”

The bad part, I still can’t find music I want to listen too. Not to mention the fact that my mp3 player was stolen a few weeks ago (since replaced).

My most recent experience with this was last Friday. Of course I didn’t realize it until Saturday, but the exciting part happened Friday.

For reasons that shall remain secret, we were looking for my debt card Saturday night and after about 15 minutes I hopped on line and checked my account. I knew the last time I used it was Friday. Since then, someone else had their way with my card.

After I used it for frozen pizza, Friday is always pizza night but I have to buy it Friday or it will disappear. (My wife claims there is a black hole in the freezer… I think it’s someone….er, something else.)

I was positive I put it back in my wallet, or maybe not. I might have put it in my pocket and it fell out when I pulled out my phone.

The culprit must have been following pretty close because it was grabbed and used 5 miles away within forty-five minutes.

I don’t know what they bought, and I sincerely don’t think I will ever find out, but they spent $1400.00 at a major retail store. I’m thinking a large HDTV. On the way home they stopped and got gas too.

It wasn’t the fact that I was short this money, I am sure I will get it back…eventually. What raised my blood pressure so much was that a few weeks ago my wife and I were in this same store and bought some Five Hour energy shots and the cashier asked for ID, yet a cashier forgets to ID someone for $1400.00

Of course there are a lot of variables, it was probably busy since it was the Friday before Mother’s Day and all the dads that were waiting for the last minute were out.{To the mom that got a brand new HDTV: Be sure you hook it up right.} Not to mention the fact that it was Friday, I can see how someone would forget to ask. But they shouldn’t.

I discovered Monday that they also tried to use it at yet another store, but this time the transaction was denied.

After a few calls the card was canceled, a police report was written, and I waited till Monday to call the store manager.

He wasn’t too happy about it either. I did take the opportunity to tell my unemployed step son about a job opening coming there soon.

I am surprised at how all the financial Companies I work with on a monthly basis, phone, credit card companies, are being so accommodating. It’s all turning out good at this time and I learned a lesson, Keep all plastic at home.

Update on hobbies ~ WoW is coming along good, I have moved my high level characters onto one realm (Shadowsong) so they can become better acquainted and assist each other when needed.

I did break down and make another Horde on Gilneas. I had a few there once but they all caught a bug and died.

And I discovered a new game called Portal. I know it really isn’t new, but it is new to me. If you ever need a game to stretch your brain this one is it. It’s a one person shooter, which I normally don’t play, where you wake up in the Aperture Science Labs testing facility as an android. Here, you are guided along your way by GLaDOS, a friendly computer voice that just wants to bake you into a cake.

You have over 18 levels (I know there are more but this is a far as I am.) of rooms with pits of  bubbling liquid that will kill you, energy balls that may kill you without warning and maniacal machine laser turrets that only sound friendly.

But don’t worry, along the way you find two portal guns that will help you in your journey, the difficult task is figuring out where to put them. WARNING: This game is extremely addictive and should be played with caution.

On the writing front my wife has been kind enough to proofread The Set’la, it’s amazing what you miss when you rush something, and I missed a lot.

I haven’t touched The Benock Chronicles for a while – still needs a lot of research.

Sunset is still in the process also, it is getting close. The first part is here and the second half is over here.

My main project right now is writing a short story for L. M. Stull’s latest contest. It’s a tough one, but I have the first part figured out. I wrote it at work and emailed to myself, just can’t remember which email.

I guess this is long enough. Hope I didn’t break a blog rule by making it over 1000 words.

So, how is everyone else doing on your stuff?

Oh, and if you happen to click on any of my story links up there, let me know what you think.

Where were you in 1977?


You know the movie is bad when all you remember are the previews for coming attractions. I believe it was the fall of 1976; I was 19 years old, working a night job at a chili place when a high school buddy asked me if I wanted to catch a movie with him. It would of course be a matinee, no screaming monsters, err kids, and the place would not be very full.

We grabbed an overpriced drink, some popcorn, and headed into the local 5 screen movie theatre. (The place is still there, but I think they have 50 screens.)

I think there were only about ten people in there and we found seats right in the exact middle, best place to sit. We talked about your basic juvenile male stuff, girls, action movies, sports, girls, jobs and girls.

Finally, the lights dimmed, the logo for coming attractions blazed on the screen, I saw a field of stars and barely made out the now familiar logo as the voice over began: “Somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now…”

I think I froze at this point, my body shivered and I actually had goose bumps as I witnessed the teaser trailer for what was then just called “Star Wars”. Even if I didn’t recognize any star except Sir Alec Guinness.

The worst part was waiting almost nine months for its release.

Do you really need to ask?

I was there, in line, waiting on opening day with my bride to be. They barely had the room for us and we sat in the middle of the very front row. This spot just made it more awesome.

And once a month, I returned. I think I saw it about 12 times that first year, sometimes alone, sometimes with family and friends. Of course, I couldn’t wait for the sequel either. Once again I was in line, waiting for “The Empire Strikes Back.” It has been 31 years since that one came out, and once again, I saw it a dozen times, followed by “Return of The Jedi

I heard a rumor during that time that Mark Hamill, who was not a complete unknown in 77’, was contracted to appear in the last three episodes, if they were ever made. I longed for the continuation of these, and the beginning, reading my way to present and past with the books and comic books – which until about 15 years ago I had all of – and waited and waited.

When they came out on VHS (that was a tape that you put in a player and could watch the movie on your TV, very similar to DVD’s except they didn’t last as long) I bought them and proceeded to wear the tapes out, watching them as much as I could. It got to the point where I memorized the dialogue – and I still know it. (Don’t test me.)

When the next three came out – I did the same thing, but I only saw them at the theater once, and waited impatiently for the DVD’s

Lucas did a few things different when he redid the originals, but they needed to be done, except for making Han Solo shot first in the Cantina – I still have problems when I see that.

But I am happy! I have the remastered first six chapters – still waiting for the last three.

Now I even have a Blu-Ray player. But today, they announced the release of all six chapters on Blu-Ray with more extras STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA. These will be available in September (perfect timing for my birthday) but I doubt that will happen. The price will maybe be about $125.00. I have no proof of this, but that is what I am thinking.

I’m also thinking George pulled a fast one on us when he rereleased chapters 4,5 and 6. This release was soon followed by chapters 1, 2, and 3. Are 7, 8 and 9 just around the corner? It has been a little quiet at Skywalker Ranch lately.

What do you think George has up his amazing sleeve?

Where were you in 1977?

Temptation Tuesday


No…not that kind of temptation. (Get your mind out of the gutter. There isn’t enough room in here for both of us.)

Well I hope my writing samples tempt you to read more of my work. This particular story is part of an ongoing series. The first few chapters can be found in an earlier post called, Sample Sunday. (I highly recommend you check that out before reading the rest of this post.) I changed the title to Sunset because this is an idea that wormed its way into my head after hearing about Gliese_581_g, a planet that could possibly support humans or some other type of life form twenty light years away from Earth. In my theory – which does not include warp drive – it should take twenty years to get there, if you traveled at the speed of light. To help conserve power and ration, every one is frozen for a year at a time. Every month two souls are unfrozen so they can check on the ship and make sure everything is going as it should…

SUNSET

Friday, February 28th, 2521; 1845 hrs

Wow, some people are just consumed with lazyness. The first part of my letter to you this month is a rant, in case you haven’t noticed that yet.

Before I start I must say I am glad you took another injection, now I know I will see you when I get home. Anyway, the rule is, you wait for your relief to fully come out of sleep so you can pass off any information on anything that happened the past year or more. Well the Singlers, the only two married people we have on board, Tania and Darryl, decided it would be funny if they disabled Wesley and lock him in an airlock. It took a whole day to find him. I’ll tell you, some people never grow up. And they are 34 years old. To add to the insanity they caused, they didn’t check any ship systems and returned to their sleep chamber two days before we were scheduled to get out. Because they didn’t do their job, we went off course by about a half a light year – so it will take a little while longer to get to Sunset than we thought we had planned.

This is the not the first time I’ve had trouble with these two, sometimes I wonder how they made it this far. They didn’t even bother to clean up after themselves, the galley was a total mess, even the self cleaning sinks and counter tops were cruddy.  Those two were this close to getting disconnected, but after a message burst to mission control, it was suggested that we pass on them the next time their turn to defrost comes up.

Once we got Wesley back in the ship, defrosted and recharged we had to reprogram him too. Lucky for us we had the right information to program him with. It took two weeks and during that time James and I switched off for twelve hour shifts. That put both of us in a bad mood, but we hung in there until it was time to wake the next ones.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Our shadow is still with us. Wesley and James still think it is only a figment of our own ship. The Science Officer, Wade, and I think it is something else, maybe like a space traveling creature living off our exhaust. Well that is what I told the Captain, and he just laughed. I want to thank you dad for making me watch all those Start Trek space operas.

message sent…

Saturday, March 31st, 2522; 2046 hrs

Hey Pop’s, yeah, it’s me again. I’ll tell you, this sleeping a year at a time is something I could get use to, but my body can’t. I am so hungry I feel like a ravenous monster when I get up. We woke on the first of the month, everything appeared normal, like it was supposed to, that thing that was following us is gone, if it was following us. It seems a lot colder now than it did the last time we were awake. I wonder if that is my imagination or if it really is colder. Wesley claims it is the recommended temperature and always has been.

Hey, guess what, we had to come to a full stop at the beginning of the week because one of our hull plates was loose. It was real fun walking in space to repair it. I felt like a slug on steroids because of the excitement of the moment and the slowness of my moving. It took three days to get this monster back up to full speed, so we are about a week behind schedule.

As to the Singlers, they behaved last time they were out, even waited for their reliefs to fully awaken. I am so glad they learned their lesson.

message sent…

 

Sunday, April 4th, 2523 0700 hrs

Happy Easter Pops! I know they did away with that holiday once Christianity was over thrown for the more peaceful regime. I was reading some old history books I found packed away and found out about this one. I still can’t figure out how the rising of a profit would bring about the arrival of a huge rabbit that gave away snacks that rotted your teeth. I suppose we brought the books with us to share with any intelligent life form we find. I hope they can read Standard.

One thing I really shouldn’t tell you about – but don’t worry – I am sure it is just a fluke. We can’t get any readings from our aft sensors. It’s more like a blind spot, and one you can’t crane your neck around to see. There is one little spot where you can look down and watch the area. Unfortunately it is at the rear of the ship and closer to the engine housings. The heat is unbearable for a human – but perfect for an android. If you guessed that we threw Wesley back there to fix the issue – you would be right. The problem is he was sent back there six months ago, and we haven’t heard from him. Jim tried to go back and find him, but we must have been hit by a small piece of space dust because the only way back there is sealed. Whenever our hull is injured the bulk plates come down, cutting off that section, so the whole ship won’t lose any air.

If I could only get a visual of the area, I would be able to tell if it is okay. Since we are behind schedule as it is, Jim isn’t stopping the ship. There has got to be another way back there. Or so he says.

…message sent…

*Note: This is a work in progress, any ideas or suggestions are most welcome. And let me know what you think.