Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tales of a Knave: Chapter One, Part One

{Well guys, remember when I promised there would be a time where I would write a story about a lad named K'nave? Well, that time has come! I can not promise anything good, but I hope you won't find it too dull. 

PS. I am SO making this up as I go.} 

Tales of a Knave

Chapter One, Part One

"Good evening, boy."

"Good evening, Spot," K'nave replied to the giant head that floated in front of him. The head was about the size of four normal craniums, appearing somewhat human, with large pointed teeth and beady black eyes. It breathed black plumes of smoke that twisted around K'nave's ankles. K'nave figured Spot used the smoke for arms, since Spot lacked appendages of his own, even though his ears were quite maneuverable. "Lovely night for a dream, isn't it?" 

"Yes, I suppose," Spot answered. The giant floating head sighed as if he had better things to do than talk to a  teenager. "Come, let's float and talk." The two floated across a giant abyss of black that was deeper than a man could measure. It had roads that led over it, but the roads were made of solidified rainbows, and Spot found the pink unicorns that trotted on them unsightly. They floated past the roads instead. K'nave caught a butterfly made of butter and fly parts and let it perch on his finger as they glided across the darkness. 

"So, what do you have to say to me, Spot?" K'nave questioned absently as he searched the horizon for pink unicorns. Spot shook his head.

"Only what I say in this dream every Tuesday, K'nave. Usually, when an all-powerful spirit comes to a hero's dreams, they only have to deliver the prophesy once. The heroes don't have to understand the dream completely, but they should at least understand that something dramatic is going to happen -- " 

"Look, a rainbow!" K'nave exclaimed. 

"There's always a rainbow. Now listen to me -- "

"Whoa! The sun is smiling down at me again," K'nave shouted.

Spot let out a roar that sounded like a dragon's and floated in front of K'nave's face. Spot's hair lashed around and flicked the boy's shoulders. The black smoke turned into fire that made the unicorns run away and melted the butterfly.

"That's it! I have given you the same dream eight times! Eight! And still I have to say the same things over again. Of all the naive heroes....How about a little gratitude, eh, little boy? I'm telling you your future. And now I'm telling you again: When you turn sixteen, which is this morning, your destiny begins. Your decisions will change the fate of the world. You and your comrades will combat evil. Yadda yadda yadda...ultimate destiny...etc. Get it?"

K'nave blinked in response to Spot's speech. Slowly, he opened his mouth to speak, as if he were carefully choosing his words. Hope sprouted in Spot's metaphorical heart.

"...You know, when you start to rant like that, it's usually more poetic," K'nave said.

"Oh my spirits."

"But don't worry, Spot. I understand. Something fantastic shall happen, and I will be a part of it. Why couldn't you have told me this in person?"

Spot shrugged.

"It isn't in the Rules. Prophesies must always be told through dreams," Spot said.

K'nave became confused.

"Huh? What are the Rules?" K'nave asked, brushing the fly parts and butter off of his shoulder.

Spot smiled like he had just won a great victory.

"Yes! Finally, some confusion! Now that you actually care, I may finally leave this wretched place," Spot shouted.

"What? No! You can't leave me now! I don't understand!"

"Ha ha! So long, K'nave! And may the Rules be with you!" The fire turned back into black smoke and surrounded Spot, obscuring him. Spot began to dissipate before K'nave's eyes. K'nave tried to grab at the smoke, but it was useless. Eventually even the echo of Spot's laughter ceased, leaving K'nave alone in his dream. Silence. 

"Oh, and my name isn't Spot."


K'nave Smith's eyes fluttered open, but winced shut when a shaft of light from the open window blinded him. Moaning, he rolled onto his side and clumsily pulled the rough wool blanket over himself, trying to catch up on deep sleep that he always missed on Tuesdays. The images from his dream were foggy, but he supposed he got the gist of whatever Spot was trying to tell him. As far as he could tell, something totally fantastic was going to happen and there would be a path of solidified rainbows along the way. K'nave smiled at the thought.

Then he bolted up with a start. He looked out the window and gasped. The sun had already risen in the sky.

"Father!" K'nave fell out of his bed (having just awakened, it was the best he could do) and pulled on his clothes as fast as he could manage. While still pulling on his worn pants that were made of more patches than the original material, he grabbed his boots. He rushed downstairs and met his father just as the man was heading out the door. The man flashed a gigantic white smile at his son, holding two buckets of bird feed.

"K'nave! You're up late," Cooper McGee said, while sticking his feet into two massive boots.

K'nave shrugged while he took a bucket of feed from his dad.

"I know, father. I...had a strange dream."

Mr. McGee's bright expression darkened, which was a rare occurrence. Most would consider that a good thing, since the man was over six feet tall with arms that rivaled dinner plates in circumference: a single punch from him in a bad mood would knock you out for days.

"Getting up late and almost missing a ritualistic part of life? Sounds like a prophesy..." McGee mumbled to himself.

"What was that, Father?"

Mr. McGee's wide smiled returned and he headed out the door.

"Come on, son. We'd best heading out. We wouldn't want you to work all day and miss your birthday gift," he said.

K'nave grinned and followed his father out of the door, heading towards  the chicken stable.

And indeed, "stable" was the right word.


Do you like it? It isn't much, but I hope it caught your attention. Please leave your comments.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Geeking: Sucker Punch Review

You guys probably don't know this, but I like over-the-top action scenes with sword and gun-wielding protagonists.


So that is exactly why I was excited to see the movie Sucker Punch. Just take a look at the trailer. Seemingly, all it is is over-the-top actions scenes with sword and gun-wielding protagonists. It has machine guns, dragons, girls in mini-skirts, mechs, orcs, girls flying helicopters, knights in shining armor, oni, girls dancing, steam-work operated clockmen, deranged psychos, and girls. It has all the good things. Theoretically, it is a geek's dream. And with all of these different ... elements one has to wonder how a movie like this can pull it off. So, did it?

Without spoiling this review, Sucker Punch is everything I expected it to be, yet not in a way. If this statement made no sense, perhaps I can try to explain my feelings in the following review. Then again, I'm still trying to sort them out.

From the beginning, we are thrust glaringly into the story of a young unnamed woman, who goes by the nickname Baby-Doll later on. Her mother has died of mysterious circumstances, and now Baby-Doll is left with her sister under the care of her simply evil stepfather. When the stepfather realizes that Baby-Doll's mother has left the significant wealth in her will only to her daughters and not himself, stepfather gets horribly mad. Things go awry, and without divulging anymore plot, "things happen". Eventually, as a way to get rid of Baby-Doll and get the money from his wife's will, he labels his step-daughter insane and has her put into a mental institute, where she will be lobotomized in five days. All of this plot happens within two minutes, I kid you not. It is highly stylized and artistic, and sets the remarkably dark tone for the rest of the story. After this, Baby-Doll discovers that she can find a world inside her own mind, and using this pretend world she attempts to escape the mental institute with the help of her newly found comrades before the five days are up.

Such is the premise of Sucker Punch.

PLOT: What you see is what you get with Sucker Punch. And of course, did you expect anything else? However, for a movie designed to attracted action fans, the plot is surprisingly well thought out. The transitions between fantasy and reality actually make sense, and are believable as believable can get with this kind of subject. Instead of characters just standing there and spacing out, they actually go on missions while imagining they are a part of the fantasy. It adds the to the crazy feel and adds to the suspension of belief a bit more, and I appreciate that.

As good as the transitions are, there are plot moments that disappointed me which could have been avoided. Often, the movie's director, Zach Snyder, seems to take random moments of violence or incredibly sad moments and sprinkle them through out the "reality" part of the movie. These seem to be there only for the shock factor, and unfortunately, they don't do much more than shock. Afterwards, you are left with a sense of loss, because these said moments do not progress the plot, or make it more deep, or even prove a good point. They might have been put there to increase drama, maybe, but the result is a very depressing melodrama that even the certain campiness of this movie can't pull off.

Also, some of the battle sequences drag on a bit. That's right, I said it. And I came here to watch the action scenes. While all of the mind-blowing action is fantastic, sometimes they seem to repeat themselves. Sometimes there are scenes with just the characters cutting through enemies that look exactly the same, through an area where scenery doesn't change, using the same cut and slice techniques over and over again. There are also no interesting character comments. The result is a monotonous drive through enemy after enemy that is really no different than mowing the lawn. The best action scene is actually at the beginning, where Baby-Doll is still learning how to kick butt. Afterwards everyone fights with near perfection, with the occasional "oh no, are we going to lose" moment. While the setting of the action varies, the fighting doesn't seem to change all that much, crowning moments of awesome aside.

The ending is also disappointing, because it could have been so much more. It could have been more fleshed out, but it feels cut short. It feels like the director was trying to make an in-your-face-I'm-being-different-kind of statement, but falls flat because by the end we have no more connection to the story due to all the shock factors. It isn't a bad ending, it just leaves us empty because despite the "wow", there is no though-provoking factors.


All of the female characters are gorgeous. Interestingly enough, nearly all the men are disgusting. Perhaps this is intended to create a background where the female characters look even more gorgeous in comparison. Maybe this is because the female characters don't do much except stand around in revealing outfits and look gorgeous-sorry, run around and shoot enemies in revealing outfits while looking gorgeous. I doubt you would watch the movie looking for character development, but just in case you were, this is not the movie for you. Except for the villain Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), the characters don't seem to change at all throughout the course of this movie. In truth, I was expecting something, but I didn't get much. With the exception of Rocket (Jena Malone) and Amber (Chung) I didn't care about the other girls a whole lot. I suppose Sweet Pea (Cornish) develops the most, but Cornish lacked the charisma to make the character come off well this time. Vanessa Hudgens' performance of Blondie is darn-right forgettable, for some odd reason. But then again Vanessa wasn't given much to do with her character in the first place. Besides this, each characters have their own charming quirks, and you can distinguish them from each other. You won't hate these characters. You just won't feel for them, either.

The most memorable character is the antagonist, Blue Jones. He is very, very evil, and he gets more evil as the story goes on, resulting in some pseudo-character development, which is a welcome breather. Isaac plays Blue incredibly well, and his is the most explosive performance of the cast.

MUSIC: The sound track is an interesting mix of remixed songs. I recognized "Sweet Dreams (Are made of this) from the beginning, and a few other classics. Each song fits the scene it's in well, and overall I enjoyed the music very much.

AGE RATING: As an extra note, I do not recommend letting kids under thirteen watch this movie. It's one of those movies that deserves a PG-13 rating. It is very dark. There are some intense moments of violence, although I'm more concerned about the whole theme of the movie. Basically all the characters are crazy gorgeous women hired to be strippers by Blue, so there are "moments". I didn't mention that. Yes, that's right.

OVERALL: Despite my qualms, this is a well-planned and well-directed movie. The action is fantastic, although since we don't care much about the characters we don't care how the action falls out. The acting is not bland at all; it is all very dramatic. Characters just weren't well-written. By the end, you'll probably feel a sense of disappointment because while the plot gets tied up, we realize that it could have been more thought-provoking, and we are stuck thinking of what could have been. The music is good. Overall, this is a thrill ride of a movie. I only wish there was more meat.

3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guinea Pig Escape

It is without a fathom of doubt that my guinea pigs adore me. I am their guide, their mentor, their feeder. I am their mother. Without me, they would stop breathing, because the loss of their mother would rip their heart out of their tiny chests. And so long as they are living, our love for each other will be strong enough to keep balance and harmony in our lives. It's a beautiful thing, really. Yes, Fatone and Bedhead, (Rest in peace, Helen) truly, irrevocably,absolutely, love me.

But sometimes they forget that they love me.

And then things happen.

*Rubs tailbone*

Anyway, I guess it was my fault. I was blinded by my love for my pig pigs. My petite chochons, my fat rodents, my lovely-okay, I'm sorry. I guess this all began when my guinea pigs decided to be really smelly and started stinking up the house yesterday, and my mom was all like.

"They are stinking up the house! How about you put them outside?"
And I was like,


So I carted my guinea pigs outside onto my patio, into the sunshine. But not into too much sunshine, because guinea pigs are susceptible to heatstroke, but not too much in the shade because guinea pigs don't like frigid conditions. And I regularly checked on them, gave them plenty of water, changed the position of the cage with the movement of the sun, stroked them when they got lonely, made sure that Bedhead, who is sick, eats his food, and all of that. We were loving on each other like mad. I was bursting with love for my lovely pigs. And they were bursting with love for me! It was wonderful!

And so it was nearing the end of the day, and it was nice and pleasant, and I was just getting ready for my end day walk, when I saw that Fatone, my fattest pig, was lookin' a little bored.

ME: Ooooh, whooj a wittle bored wittle guy? Whooj feelin' a wittle down? Whooj needs a wittle fwesh air?

FATONE: Wheek.

ME: It's you! It's you!
And I figured today was the perfect day to let my pig out and let him hang around in a contained outdoor area for a little while. I wasn't worried about him leaving me, because he loves me and if someone loves you they will never leave you, so I picked him up and out of his cage. I put him on my shoulder, because that's his favorite spot, and took him over to my play set. The play set was wooden, with a small platform used to get to the slide, so I put him on that, figuring a new environment would do him nicely. He just sat there. He didn't move. He looked darn scared.


Fatone: Wheek.

ME: It's YOU! It's YOU!

So he ran into my arms and climbed up on my shoulder, and wheeked at me to let me know that he was ready to go. So I walked over to my basketball post. The ground there is worn down to the dirt, where people play most often, so it was grass-free and safe from evil grass bugs. I placed him down there gently, letting him get used to the area before stepping back and beholding him. He still didn't move. He just stood there in a very bored manner and looked at me like a teenager who looks at his mother when she brings him to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday. So I crouched down besides him to give him friendly encouragement. So he would enjoy the fresh air a bit more.


And so we stared at each other, because he understood me, and wanted to share this moment.


Fatone, my beloved guinea pig, had decided to make a run for it. He darted for the small tree behind me, going between my legs. It took me a second to realize that he had in fact he had just decided to abandon his loving mother, and when I did my reflexes were astonishingly slow. He had made it under tree by the time I turned around. The tree is short, with low hanging branches, so I had to duck as I walked quickly after him. I cooed gentle coos to my sweet rodent, hoping he would hold still long enough for me to grab him.

I lunged.

Fatone jumped out of the way and curtailed in the opposite direction, running at a speed that a cheetah would envy. No, I'm serious. Apparently guinea pigs are the fastest creatures known to man, and they just don't get a chance to show you. But he was showing me now. I started to chase after him. He stuck to the side of the massive wooden fence that divides us from the neighbors. (They put it up shortly after they realized that we were a bad influence.) He was running so fast I had run full speed to keep up with him. His long fur trailed in the wind, and the fat on his stomach lurched up and down dramatically as he tried to run away from me. I think the fat did him in, because he stopped for no reason. I took this as an opportunity to run ahead of him where the fence ended. I head behind the blind corner of the fence and waited. I couldn't see where he was but I sensed him. And when I thought he was close I jumped out from behind my fence to ambush him.

ME: HA HA! (ESTHER lands on grass in front of FATONE. Her timing was off. ESTHER feels stupid. FATONE curtails again)

So now he runs back to the stupid tree. I jog after him, wounded, but calm because Fatone loves me and people who love each other are together forever. But he was gettin' awful close to our shed, which is propped above the ground. If he hid in it, he would never come out. I ran as fast as I could and put myself between him and the shed, but he ran behind it. I followed, and upon seeing that he was running for the road that parallels my front yard, I made a desperate leap for him. I've never, ever, leaped for anything in my life. It must have been my lack of practice, because I missed. My accuracy was so terrible, that I actually landed in a mud puddle that was full of decaying berries from that tree. I bruised my arm, and Fatone was still going strong. That pig never exercised before in his life, and still was running a marathon. I felt defeated.

Then I felt scared.

What if Fatone actually got away? What would I do if my beloved rodent left my life? In my burst of annewed terror, my adreniline must have gone sky high. I dashed after him, catching up quickly. Then I leaped one last time and...

I secured him in my grasp! Holding him close to my chest, I ran all the way to the cage, put him in, and then collapsed on the patio. (Ouch, by the way) It was over. My guinea pig was saved, I was exhausted, and the world was all right again. Fatone was fine, except for a broken toenail, which bled but wasn't too bad. I,  myself, was feeling a tad emotional about the whole ordeal.

And then I realized that my guinea pigs love me, that they will always love me unless they forget, and so I don't have anything to worry about. My sister says I've brainwashed myself, but come on. Love is an okay form of brainwashing, right? Not that I'm brainwashed. I'm just loved.

So I came inside, covered in mud and blood, my knee scraped, and myself being tired as could be. But things could have been worse. Fatone could have escaped, realized that he needed me (since he forgot), and then could not find his way home. So it turned out to be an okay deal. So, I guess there's a moral here:


With love,