Answer List to the Video, ASMR : Lines from the Movies

This post will be of no use to anyone who hasn’t seen the video on my Youtube channel titled ASMR : Lines from the Movies. This is just a list of the movie lines that I recited for that video, but here the title of each movie is given. It’s intended to be an ASMR video (here’s a link to another post on this very blog that explains the term ASMR), so it’s all done in a soft spoken voice that is appropriate to ASMR, but not always to the lines below.

Oh, and if you have watched it, then you know that near the end you hear a group of people, off camera, interrupt me during line 83. Naturally, I did not have five people standing beside me waiting for their cue. I recorded those two words with the help of my family before I recorded the rest. It was funny though. “Can I get everyone’s help for about five minutes? Back here?” I had them all line up all together on side of the microphone and say “Too late,” all at once. Twice. Then they all quietly returned to the lives I had interrupted without a single one of them asking me what that was all about. (more…)

The Personality Tailor

She called before she arrived, but Drew still smiled at the surprise. “Dana.”

“Hi, Dad.”

Drew glanced over at the car in his driveway. “Paul isn’t coming in?”

“No, he’s got a lot to do.”

And there went his daughter’s husband, pulling out without a word or a wave. Drew shook his head in disgust, both at Paul and himself. He knew that he shouldn’t say anything. It wouldn’t help. “He can’t even take a moment.”

“Dad, he’s busy.”

“Every single time he drops you off? What kind of man does that?”

“Dad, please?”

It hurt him to hear that. She wasn’t just saying it. She was genuinely pleading. Dana was so much like her mother. If it had been Grace, Drew would have stopped then. With his daughter, he had always pressed a little harder. “Well, the man can’t come inside once in a while? Just to be polite?” She didn’t answer him. She didn’t even look at him. So he pushed past his own inflexibility. “I’m sorry, honey. I’m sorry. Really.”

That was as much as she would get, and it was almost as much as she needed. Her father had to put up with Paul, but she had to live with him. Paul wasn’t abusive. He wasn’t even a bad husband. But he also wasn’t a good husband, and she deserved so much better. She knew it, but she was so afraid.

Drew had his faults. He had his discontentment. He also had his love for his daughter. He’d said the wrong thing, but he could make it melt away quickly enough. He wasn’t warm with anyone else. Only her. He didn’t have to say anything to make it better. He just had to feel the fulfillment of being a father. “Should we eat here or go out for lunch?”

She smiled that beautiful smile of hers. She didn’t carry the light way her mother had, but Dana could reflect it with ease. “You want to go to Jerry’s Sandwich Shack?”

He got his wallet and checked it to make sure he had cash. Of course he did, but he also noticed that card, that little business card he had picked up off a table in the break room at work.

*     *     *     *     *

Bourland Personality Tailoring. That’s what the business card read. That, an address, and the promise, ‘A few cuts, a few stitches. Your demeanor and disposition will be better than new.’ Drew had looked it up online, without his daughter’s assistance for a change. There were articles on the subject. There were a few advertisements for Personality Tailoring services. He was a bit surprised to find himself devoting an afternoon to his research. That kind of curiosity wasn’t typical of him. Perhaps he might ask for more curiosity, if that was possible. He was a down to Earth kind of guy, a well grounded old man. But he kept reading little phrases that itched a bit.

‘Does it seem like your personality just doesn’t fit quite right?’

‘Do you need a little more room for new attitudes and ideas?’

It bothered him because he knew exactly what they were talking about. Most people considered it some hoax or urban legend. (more…)

Walter and Homeless Joe

What follows is an excerpt from my new eBook, Paradox Eclipse. It’s available from Amazon HERE.

Walter started to roam the streets looking for experiment subjects. He drove through neighborhoods that he wasn’t comfortable in. He doubted that he would even get out of the car. He had no fear, not even when things looked dangerous. There was a timed sender ready to bring him back to yesterday if it had to. In the meantime, he would find someone who would take the big risk.

How does one go about procuring human test subjects for a secret experiment? He certainly couldn’t put up a help wanted ad somewhere. What he could do was find people who had no better option. He felt like a cheap villain from an old novel. He was seeking out the homeless. He would take advantage of the destitute. What other choice did he have?

His first bid was a thousand dollars. He could easily afford it. A thousand dollars couldn’t purchase a human test subject though. The offer was too high. Walter had assumed that people living on the street wouldn’t be able to resist. He was wrong. No one offers random homeless people a thousand dollars for a secret job. No one was interested, even when he showed them that he had the money on his person. They all viewed him with too much suspicion. Whoever he was, he was dangerous.

So that first foray had to be revised. Before Walter had set out to find his subject he had opened a receiver. He was glad that he hadn’t assumed that the obvious approach would work. His note told him what kind of responses he got.

So he tried again for the first time. He drove along the same route that his note said, seeing the people that he had described to himself. This time he offered five hundred dollars instead. He still couldn’t find a willing participant. They were more receptive, but when he refused to explain the work, everyone assumed that he was lying. So he had to revise it again.

He found it ironic that he was paying too high a price to hire a bum for a time traveling job. (more…)

Another Novel

Well that wasn’t easy. At long last I have my time travel novel finished and made available for Kindle. Paradox Eclipse is the title, and you can find it here : Paradox Eclipse.

Remember that post I wrote about gerbils and time travel? No? Well that’s not a surprise. It was a while ago. It was in fact June thirteenth. Of 2014. Oh man. Here I am nearly two years later with the finished product. Was it worth it? It took quite a bit more time and effort than I envisioned. Could I have done it easier, faster? Well, I suppose I could have. I’ve heard more than once that a novel should never take more than six months to write. Do I feel bad taking four times that amount? Not really. Dad always said, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Okay, so he never said that, but I’m sure he meant to. Then again maybe not. Earlier today he was using a chainsaw during some toilet repair. So doing things right might not be too high a priority for the man. I seem to take after him in that regard.

For anyone who’s wondering, that was not a joke. I was sitting at a keyboard, typing away, concentrating hard. Dad was the next room fixing a toilet that had a slight leak. After a while I heard an unusual sound. I thought to myself, ‘I’ve done a fair amount of toilet repair, and I’ve never needed a power tool for it.’ What was he up to? By the time I walked in that direction, the noise had stopped. Right there, on top of his toolbox, I saw it. It stopped me dead in my tracks. A chainsaw. Who the hell uses a chainsaw when they’re fixing a toilet? I didn’t ask what it was for. I figured the anecdote works better without the explanation.

Chainsaw toilet repair. I wonder if that works as a metaphor for my writing? It would seem so, considering the amount of material I ripped out of my first draft. I struggled more than I had to, but isn’t that an author’s right? It might even be his duty. After battering my way through the plot changes and characterizations, I wonder if a more streamlined approach might be more effective when I start my next story. Nah. I’ll let others do it fast and easy. I love my stories, and they’re worth the effort.

The next one ought to be easy anyway. I won’t have to design a time machine. I’ll only have to design a spacecraft. I already have it mapped out right next to me. Now I just have to put the people in it. Oh, wait. This isn’t going to be easy after all.

My Opinion of Your Opinion

Yes, I do have an opinion of your opinion. That might not seem fair. After all, I don’t know you. Do we agree on any subjects? Do we not? How could I know? The only thing I know about your opinions is that they are opinions. That’s enough for me to start.

I have certain opinions on certain subjects that are universal to all things within that subject. That includes the realm of opinions. No matter what opinions you hold, I have some perspectives on your opinions that not everyone shares. In fact, some of my opinions of opinions run contrary to the opinions of opinions that are common. That’s worth blogging about isn’t it? At least I might get in a little clever wordplay.

Opinions of your opinions are common place, I’m sure. People who manage to hear your opinions will immediately form opinions of your opinions, and the only thing that makes mine different is that I haven’t heard your opinions. I am completely unfamiliar with your opinions. That might, in your opinion, make my opinion unfair. Then again, you haven’t heard my opinion of your opinion yet.

There are some well known and worn out clichés that apply to any and all opinions, including yours. For example, after hearing a dissenting opinion, it’s common for someone to say, “Well, he’s entitled to his opinion.” Quite often, the dissenter will defend his opinion with that simple ideology. “I am entitled to my opinion.” Or, “Everyone has a right to his opinion.”

See, that’s where my opinion of opinions differs from the socially acceptable model. My opinion of your opinion has something in common with my opinion of my own opinion. Yes, I have considered my opinion of my own opinions, both individually and as a group of unprovable thoughts. This next sentence might shock those of unswervingly traditional point of view. I am NOT entitled to my opinion. Knowing that, or at least believing it fiercely, I can tell you that If I’m not entitled to mine, then you’re not entitled to yours.

Entitled. That’s one of my least favorite words. It might get a bad rap since there are certain things that people are entitled to. Inalienable rights, as it were. On the other hand, your rights are not entitlements. Not in my opinion anyway. There’s a big difference between the things that are intrinsic to human nature and human dignity that must be protected and fought for, and those other things that that should be granted to you by others, such as a respect for your ability to form an intelligent, worthy opinion.

Entitlement is a terrible position. If I were to scrape it off the floor, scrub it with all the morality, decency, wisdom and fortitude I have ever encountered in the best of the human species, then molded it into a wonderful form designed to appeal to the most universal sense of aesthetics, it still wouldn’t be worth anything. To put it another way, no matter how you sanitize and sculpt it, feces remains feces, and so does entitlement. (more…)

HERO vs. HERO, MISFIT vs. MAINSTREAM

I don’t spend time in comic book shops anymore. I used to. It wasn’t that I enjoyed the company or conversation there. In fact, I’m such an incredible social misfit, that I was always a misfit in the comic shop, a place where the poorly dressed and socially inept are generally welcomed. That’s half a joke. There is a sizable amount of truth to it, but comic book shops aren’t really the places that you see in movies and sitcoms. All the same, it does say something about my lack of social skills that I found little acceptance in that setting.

I spent time in comic books shops because I love comic books. I always have. Over the years though, I have read an awful lot of really lousy comic books. Lots. So why would I bother reading them at all? Well, I’ve also seen a lot of lousy movies, but I won’t stop watching movies. I’ve read a whole helluva lot of bad books. I’m not going to stop reading either. I know that most comic books are exactly the kind of immature, unintelligent tripe that people expect. But I also know from experience that there are some stories in there that are worth believing in. And I do believe. Those uncommon stories are legends that are worth the effort required to find them. At the tender age of thirty nine I still believe in Captain America and Captain Marvel. They don’t write comic books like that anymore though, or if they do, I no longer find it worth the effort.

Ever since comic books became mainstream, they’ve gone downhill. I didn’t expect that. I’ve never been someone who believes that big success can only be achieved by selling out. DC and Marvel have sold out though. Big time. Unfortunately, a lot of comic book enthusiasts don’t seem to realize that. It’s more important to enjoy the CGI characters on the screen than it is to remember the stories that brought us here in the first place.

Let me give you an example. One of my last sojourns to the comic shop took place when people were anxiously awaiting the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I was already losing faith in the future of the big comic book companies, so don’t think that this turned me from them. It did have an impact though. When one of my fellow comic book aficionados mentioned the movie, he admitted that he knew nothing about the Guardians of the Galaxy, but he still wanted to see it because Rocket Raccoon was voiced by Bradley Cooper. I had to admit, I didn’t know who Bradly Cooper was. “The A-Team,” Someone said disgustedly. I hadn’t seen the A-Team movie. Or any of the other two or three films I should have known the man from. That was frowned upon. Then, one of the shop’s employees held up issue number one of the Guardians of the Galaxy from 1990, an issue I have a copy of. It doesn’t depict the characters you see in the movie though, so that sparked a few questions. I could point to the cover and name every character and tell them some of group’s history. That was also frowned upon.

How strange. I didn’t know enough about mainstream movies or movie stars, but I did know a lot about the original Guardians of the Galaxy. That made me a loser, apparently. Now anywhere else, that would have been exactly the reaction I’d expect. In a comic book shop though, knowing comic books and standing outside the mainstream shouldn’t be met with disdain. These guys were more interested in the movies than the comic books. In fact, they didn’t want to know anything about the comic books that would interfere with their movie watching. The comic book shop had become the rest of the world.

I can’t say definitively that the trend of big budget, low standard super hero movies caused the decline of the comic book legends. In fact, I believe that that decline was caused by horrible comic books, and those horrible comic books spawned the shallow movies. Those movies, in turn though, do damage to the comic books. Vicious circle. I would like to ignore that, but I can’t. Because of the huge advertising campaigns, I’m confronted by it just by living my life. Yesterday was the Superbowl. During the game are the famous commercials, so you don’t turn away, even when they’re trying to sell you something. That meant I was subjected to some combination, airline/movie ads for the truly tasteless Batman vs. Superman movie.

There we go, that was unfair. How can I call the movie tasteless? I haven’t seen it. That’s an assumption. On the other hand, the concept of this movie can annoy a little boy to the point that he’ll bad mouth it sight unseen. Enter, Alec, my little brother. Nine years old. Loves super heroes like I do, and like our eighteen year old brother Bryce does. My influence and Bryce’s influence will be pretty obvious, but all the same, neither of us mentioned our issue with this particular movie to Alec. He came to his conclusion on his own. When his mother asked him how much he wanted to see Batman versus Superman, he said that he didn’t. “Batman and Superman are good guys. Why would they verse each other?” Vocabulary hiccup aside, I was very proud of him when I heard that. He knows that these characters stand for something. They’re important. You can’t just set them into contrived battles against each other because it sounds cool. This isn’t professional wrestling. You can’t use that kind of formulaic storyline for comic book legends.

Is that fair though? How do I know it’s formula writing? After all, it’s not as though Marvel’s Avengers movie series is going to pit Captain America against Iron Man. Oh wait. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Heroes versus heroes because it looks cool.

Haven’t comic books done that again and again though? True enough. When super heroes meet in the comic books, it often starts with a face off or a brawl. The smallest misunderstanding will do. Ask me how happy I am about that though. I’ll refer you to the beginning of my little rant here. Most comic books are not that good. That a movie borrows a comic book tradition doesn’t make it legitimate if it’s a puerile tradition.

Admittedly there are some hero versus hero story that are very well done. I have no reason to suspect that these movies will be that kind of story. In fact, given the horrible miscasting, special effect overdoses, brainless story plots and shriveled contrivances I’ve seen in the pig trough of super power movies, I feel that a healthy dose of skepticism toward upcoming movies to be reasonable. Because it does get worse. The Marvel movie that I’ve complained about is called Civil War because it is named after a comic book miniseries by that title from ten years ago. Now Marvel comics is planning to release a new miniseries called Civil War II, obviously intended to coincide with the movie. After all, when movie audiences wander into comic shops, we want them to see the thing they’re looking for, and comic book collectors tend to buy into any big event that Marvel or DC sell them. This one, though, is a major comic book miniseries that only exists because of a major motion picture that only exists because Hollywood has to squeeze out as many sequels as possible. Marvel Comics should know that no piece of important story history should ever be written as part of a Hollywood marketing cycle. Apparently they’re not above that though, and from my point view, that’s typical of them anymore.

I don’t even buy Marvel or DC comic books anymore. If I ever do find my way back to the comic shop, I’ll buy only independent titles. Surely there are some good things left there.

A Cold Day In Hell

A response to the Write Now prompt : http://todaysauthor.com/2015/10/16/write-now-prompt-for-october-16-2015/

In a fairly nice neighborhood in the Chrraalijev suburb in Hell, a pair of demons were going about their morning routine, grumbling about their jobs. “I tell you, Dear, dispensing torment used to be fun. I used to be creative. After being at it two centuries, it’s just gotten monotonous. You know I actually made a list of the less common tortures so that I wouldn’t forget them. A list! I’ve begun working from lists.”

“Sweet heart, sooner or later you’ll get the big job, and it will all have been worth it. Oh! And besides, I think work might be cancelled today if the weather outside is any indication.”

Grezzlebenethab glanced out his window. He was more than a little surprised to see snow. “I’ll be damned. Now that’s something you don’t often see. I mean, it might not be a first, but it’s way too early in the season for the weather report to include the word snow.”

His wife Benenemar put her hands on his shoulders in that doting fashion she knew calmed him down. “What do you suppose happened? Maybe corporate taxes are being enforced?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. We can’t even manage that down here and we’ve got penalties to really be afraid of. They don’t even usually jail their C.E.O.s up there. No, I’m guessing an author turned down a movie deal.”

She giggled as she sat his breakfast down in front of him. “You always think so small. Maybe it’s your attitude that keeps you from promotion.”

“Now cut that out,” he said lovingly. “Okay then, how about this, it’s a cold day in hell because the U.S. elected a black President.”

“Better, but honey, be realistic. You know the Ministry of Interference in Mortal Affairs keeps the power of white privilege far too strong for that.”

“They’ve got black congressmen and a black supreme court justice.”

“Shh! Don’t tell them that!”

He smiled again. His wife could always stir his sense of humor. “Okay then, Bennenemar darling, how about an American Pope?”

“Haw! Well, I don’t know. Does South America count?”

“Now you’re talking like one of them.”

“Sorry, sweetie. Maybe it’s just that the richest pop star today is talented.”

Grezzlebenethab’s coffee cup was at his mouth, so he could only snort instead of laugh. “Well, it’s more likely than anything I can come up with. I kind of doubt that’d put a helluva dent in my daily quota, so let’s hope for something a bit more than just a deeper cultural trough.”

She shrugged. “On the TV that commentator Hunnyntrelgathar was saying that mortals don’t place enough real importance on music.”

“Yeah, well, Hunnyntrelgathar doesn’t work the punishment pits either. Sweetie, mortals aren’t sent down here for making bad music. Or listening to it. It takes a bit more than that.”

She clicked on the radio. “Mmm. I love it that we get real music on every station down here.”

“Not when I’m on the job. Nothing that would comfort them.”

She chuckled. “As I understand it, too much real music would be painful to a most mortals.”

“Heh.” He looked out the window. “You know, we get snow down here a lot more often than we did a hundred years ago.”

“Yeah. And you said that same thing one hundred years ago. I remember.”

“They do a lot up there that beats expectations. And they do it faster every few generations.”

She sighed prettily, “Maybe that’ll slow down your quota.”

“Hm. Nope. Not until they start to realize it. Too many people fighting the same battles over and over. Progress means a lot, but it doesn’t mean much to an individual unless they can see it. A lot of people would rather not see any at all.  You’d be surprised how many of ’em end up down here because of their good intentions.”