Archive for February, 2008

Street Seen: MacArthur Park @ Midnight

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Stumbled upon in the archives, and taken during the last Midnight Ridazz ride shortly before I opted-out of all the not-riding that was going on here and doubletimed it to a doublecheese at Tommy’s (click to quadruplify):

 macarthurpark.jpg

Microfiction – 060/365

Friday, February 29th, 2008

What is this about?

Encounter

The craft hovered in front of where he’d stopped for the red light at the intersection of  Belltower and Freedman. It was its pulsing light sequence that Zac first spotted much higher up in the sky, and to him it seemed helicopter…ish, but as it swooped downward in a steep waterpark slide-like arc toward him he realized he’d fallen victim to an optical illusion. It hadn’t started off way out there in the referenceless ink black, but instead only a couple hundred feet up.

Brightly lit, it was maybe a foot long and oddly rectangular shaped, which didn’t seem very efficient for flying, but Zac just shrugged What the hell did he know about efficient? And besides that the transluscent surface seemed almost fluid making the thing look like a flying see-through shoebox made of glowing water.

Zac cracked the window of his truck a bit to check if he could hear any type of gas-powered whirring that might give the object away as radio-controlled no doubt by some prankster sequestered nearby — most likely with a  video camera set up  to capture the YouTube-ready footage. But, aside from a decidedly unfamiliar humming, there was no other sound.

Zac was about to get out to see if he could manage a closer look without triggering some sort of Gamma Blamma deathraygun, but the machine rose up twenty feet and hovered there before he could even move his hand to the door handle, almost as if it could read his mind or anticipate his actions. When Zac relaxed and stayed put it descended again to its previous position, prompting an intrigued “Whoa!” from him.

Next came a series of tones and bleeps and clicks, faint at first and punctuated by changes in the ship’s color scheme. As it repeated and grew in volume, Zac figured it was trying to communicate but he had no idea what it was trying to say much less who was saying it.

Zach thought it probably wouldn’t be many more refrains until the little creature inside retreived some  hightech version of a clipboard and added one more checkmark to the Unresponsive Human column before zooming off tofind its next test subject, and sure enough midway through the note sequence it abruptly cut off.

Instead of flying off however, it dropped again until it was almost level with the hood of the truck and slowly proceeded forward and right onto Freedman, where once across the crosswalk it hovered again.

Zac didn’t get it right away, so the tiny ship backed up to the truck’s grill again and then mad the slow right turn again.

“You want me to follow?” Zac asked incredulously.

The ship glowed a bright green, and Zac took a look around the empty intersection wondering what he was getting himself into. Then he turned right, pulling in behind it. When it proceeded forward, he took a deep breath and followed.

Street Scene: Eagle Three Gal

Friday, February 29th, 2008

img_4947.JPG

(click to quadruplify)

Another one from the archives, this one taken near the midway point of Franklin Avenue’s Great Pico Walk from Central Avenue to the sea last November.

“No Cat’s Ever Starved To Death In A Tree, Sir”

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Sad and unfortunate news from down in Orange County. Scott Beuhler, a 27-year-old man attempting to rescue a treed cat, fell to his death Wednesday, and reading about it reminded me of the night in 2004 when Susan and I were first dating and  I came to her aid when she worriedly called to tell me that her Pumpkin had gotten stuck in a tree across the street.

I arrived and sure enough Pumpkin was out on a branch about 20 feet off the sidewalk, and though he didn’t seem very thrilled with the situation, he was also in no hurry to descend on his own. And while common sense told me that what goes up on its own must surely be able to come down on its own, I think my genuine empathy for the unhappy cat and my eagerness to help (as well as perhaps impress Susan a little bit with what a great guy I am) resulted in me propping up her extending ladder at something of an awkward and unsteady angle against the trunk of the tree and tentatively climbing up the wobbly thing about a step or two beyond what would have been considered safe by any impartial third party.

Pumpkin, who barely knew me at that point in our relationship, spared me from going any further out on the proverbial limb by moving further out along the branch away from me with a look that was either “Yeah right!” or “Who the hell are you!?” or a bit of both.

After a few more minutes of attempted coaxing I returned to earth knowing any further attempt on my part would be fruitless. The cat certainly wasn’t going to come to me and though part of me was thinking about getting further up in the tree, I knew it was risky and all it would do is drive the cat higher up or farther out among the smaller branches. Bottom line was I wasn’t going to be able to get close to the cat. And even if I could, what then? Did I seriously think Pumpkin would just snuggle in and be patient while I tried to get us both down safely? Hell no.

No, it was time to step away from my ego and call in the professionals. So I whipped out the cell and after a series of transfers from the information operator to the fire department to animal services I had the after-hours dispatcher on the line. I don’t remember the exact course of our conversation but it basically went something like:

“Hello, we have a cat stuck up in a tree.”

“Yes sir. And you want us to come help you get it down?”

“Yes.”

“Sir, may I ask you: do you know how many calls we get from people whose cats have climbed up into trees?”
(more…)

Microfiction – 059/365

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

What is this about?

Countdown

“At least tell me who wants me dead!” Halloray yelled. “Do me that meaningless favor so at least I’ll know who to haunt.”

“OK,” Derek said smugly. “I can give you that much,” turning and walking toward the hotel room door.

“It was Manesian. All along.”

And then the building shuddered and groaned. And then it was a miracle. A goddammed pope on a rope hallelujah brothers and sisters, blessed be thy name made to order miracle.

Four floors up in the abandoned Ambassador Hotel, roped and duct-taped to a secretary’s chair and staring at the ass of the evil freak who was walking away, maniacally laughing and leaving Halloray there to die in the demolition that was set to take place in, oh three minutes, he didn’t believe his eyes when the floor of the suite gave way beneath the goon and his ass and laughter suddenly turned to screaming and Derek was gone in a cloud of dust, shortly thereafter the screaming was cut short by a slam and a crack and became a strangled and very wet gurgle and gasping for a few moments before silence resumed. The hotel groaned again.

“Shoulda watched your step, you dead fuck!”

And Halloray laughed while blinking in dumbfounded amazement at his good fortune before realizing the clock was still ticking and inspite of that momentary bit of luck he was still taped to a fucking chair in a room of a long-dead landmark that was about to go boom.

He struggled against the bonds at his ankles, wrists and waist. They all held firm. He screamed in aggravation and did the only thing left he could do.

He fucking went beserk. Flailing his body and screaming, he managed to tip the chair over into a roll with enough momentum that he went end over end until he crashed into the wall below the windows.

Of course, in one of those sick tumbles he crushed his nose against the hardwood floor and felt a pain that could only be a separated shoulder, but none of that mattered. It was all adrenaline and getting out alive or dying trying.

And sure enough, the fit helped. Wiggling against the tape, he found a little slack around his right wrist. He exploited it.

From far off outside, he heard the conservancy protesters chanting in a final effort to rant and rail against the destruction of the historic place where Hollywood once lived and Bobby Kennedy had died.

And then his wrist was free.

“Fuck yeah!” he yelled. Blood poured down from his ruined nose.

Reaching over he tore through the tape around his left wrist. Then the rope around his waist. In a few more seconds, his ankles were free and he was standing.

He let out a sigh, but it was cut short by the intense pain in his left shoulder. Then there was the matter of the voice on a public address system, perhaps not quite as far away as the protesters. Or maybe just louder. His heart stopped at the news.

“All personnel must achieve minimum safe distance immediately. Clear the area now. Attention. Attention. The area must be cleared of all personnel. If you have not yet done so, go to the designated minimum safe distance zone without delay. Ignition sequence commencing in 90 seconds. Repeat, 90 seconds starting now. 90. 89. 88. 87…”

The countdown continued and Halloray got a move one. Cutting short his relief he ran first to the nearest wall and slammed his shoulder against it. And again. He almost passed out from the agony. On the third try, there was something of a loud soggy THWOP! And suddenly his arm had some range of motion. Turning, he jogged over to the edge of the hole that had flushed his captor away.

Twelve feet below there he lay. Looking completely fine except for the huge pool of blood and the piece of copper pipe that had run itself through his neck.

“83. 82. 81…”

“A fucking answered prayer,” Halloray muttered and spat down on the corpse. He would’ve shot it had he had a gun.

The floor of the gutted and weakened hotel shimmied and groaned beneath him and he jumped and scrambled back just in time to avoid another chunk of floor giving way beneath him. They don’t have to blow this place up, it’s falling down fine on its own, he thought.

“71. 70. 69. 68…”

(more…)

Microfiction – 058/365

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

What is this about?

Peace

Then the dog charged. Shooting toward us from out the gloom of the porch and down the steps into the afternoon sunlight, the beast was a huge, sleek, jet-black weapon of destruction that ripped off hellacious barks as it broke the fragile distance that had previously been between us.

In the blinding flashes of its monsterous teeth I saw my horrible, bloody death — and I froze. All except my bladder, which seemed to somehow recognize my paralysis and powerfully expel its contents like ballast down the front of my pants in some sort of “I’m outta here!” attempt to lighten its load and escape on its own.

With the dog was a second away from launching into us over the meaningless short fence that bordered the front yard, some sort of override took control of my motor functions and attempted to have me make a break for it. Then things got really weird when I saw Wayne. Was he running? No. Peeing himself? No. Afraid? Not in the least. Instead, he was just sitting there on his bike, relaxed even. Worst yet, he was smiling. Fucking smiling!

Over the din of the barking and as calm as you please, all he said was, “Check it out,” at which point my legs gave way and I tumbled off my bike. Curling into a duck and cover position on the sidewalk all I could do was whimper and await the nightmarish sensation of the jaws of that four-legged holocaust riping me apart.

It never came. But the barking did give way to the sound of its jaws snapping as its barks switched to determined growls. Then came the sound of fabric tearing and a bike falling and being dragged. It had Wayne! I screamed. I couldn’t look.

In a few moments the tearing sounds ceased. The growling soon gave way to barks again, and I could hear the big dog jumping up and down and stamping its feet on the ground and whipping something back and forth that it had clamped in its massive jaws.

Wayne’s head, no doubt.

This continued, no less angry and so close that I felt the dog’s breath propelled against my back with each bark. Surely, I thought, the dobie has finished with Sal and must now be standing over me first announcing to the neighborhood its intention to eat this other stupid little paperboy who, like the first, wasn’t even decent or sporting enough to run away and be chased to his doom — but at least he didn’t go smiling into the jaws of death.

I clutched myself up even tighter, straining until every muscle shook, still waiting the feel of its teeth in my flesh.

Nothing.

My legs started to fall asleep and my neck was cramping.

Still nothing.

At that point, the barking lessened both in repetition and volume.

I unclinched a little, but barely. Then a little more beneath the growls and occasional bark. Finally I lifted my head to the point where I could peek out and witness the carnage. But instead of a blood-soaked death scene, there was Wayne still sitting there on his bike. Still smiling. Only now he was looking down at me, shaking his head, and pointing.

I craned my head to look over my shoulder. Less than two feet away from me, but still on its side of that tiny little fence, there it stood, towering over me. In its jaws was a familiar looking shred of canvas.

“I think the dog killed your newspaper bag,” Wayne said. I checked the dog again, still whipping its head back and forth and scooted away from it before standing up and taking stock of things.

“What happen –?” I gasped.

“When you dove, your bike fell next to the fence. He grabbed it.” He said.

“But why didn’t it…”

“Jump over the fence? Because it’s trained not to. Stays on its property. Protects its turf. His name is Peace.”

“Peace,” I echoed.

Several Reasons Why You Won’t Find Me Ever Seeing “10,000 BC.” Not In The Theater Not Via Netflix. Not No How. Not No Way. Not. Not. Not.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

1. Roland Emmerich is the director.

2. Roland Emmerich is the writer.

3. Roland Emmerich is the producer.

4. No one in the industry has the balls to tell him to stop it. Instead he’s all “I have this great idea for a movie that I want to manage on every level because I’m Roland Emmerich” and Hollywood’s all “That’s gonna make $100 mil easy!”

5. Case in point: “The Day After Tomorrow,” which Roland wrote, produced and directed and was already bad enough but then he had to go ahead and CGI in those marvelous ravenous wolves who had escaped from a lifetime in captivity at the zoo but somehow did not die in the flood/freeze because apparently they were smart enough and not terrified enough in their new unfamiliar surroundings to get inside a building and hang until it was safe to come out. But apparently they were too stupid to feast on the countless corpses strewn throughout the city because they instead starved themselves into a frenzy with a preference for live prey, mainly Jake Gydsinthehall.

6. Yeah yeah I know, he also directed “Independence Day,” which was a rollicking good movie twelve years ago, but he blew all the capital accumulated from that blockbuster when he exec-produced craptastic stuff like “Godzilla” and “The Patriot.” And no it’s not unpatriotic to not like “The Patriot.”

7. Someone was smoking crack and a lot of it — probably Emmerich — to imagine that saber-toothed cats were ever ever ever t-h-i-s big:

saber.jpg saber2.jpg

8. I mean seriously, what a tool to have these cats standing somewhere around six feet tall at the shoulders with a head sized three times that of the average hominid of the day? Please! But typical that Emmerich couldn’t work with a life-sized smilodon and had to go and create his cgilodon, no doubt for the drama. I can just hear him having a fit yelling at the CGI team to “Make zee cats beegah!”

9. And no the humans aren’t pigmies. Nice try.

10. In fact: “Smilodon was the largest saber-toothed cat. It was a fierce predator about 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) long and 3 feet (0.9 m) tall. It weighed about 440 lbs (200 kg). It was a bit smaller than a modern-day lion (Panthera leo), but much heavier. — Enchantedlearning.com

11. Let us now turn our deficient attentions on the skills of the ancient architects that exist in Emmerich’s funked up imagination. Strictly speaking they just did not build elaborate shit like this at the beginning of The Holocene:

building.jpg

12. Especially if the assumption (why start now?) can be made that the continental location of the film is ancient South America (the home of terror birds — surprise: somewhat realisitically rendered! — and the aforementioned saber-toothed cats). Or maybe it starts in South America but this tribe globetrots to the Gobi Desert via the land bridge that spanned the Bering Strait? That’s quite a hike!

13. Oh wait they have boats — sailboats!

boats.jpg

Fancy-pants double-sailed aero-sleek America’s Cup winners, not the wimpy single-sailed variety whose first recorded use by the Egyptians didn’t take place until 6,000 years later.

14. Whether the good guys make a long journey or not there’s no way the above-pictured fort/fight scene takes place in Malta, which in fact, a Google search reveals is where the temple of Hagar Qim is — the oldest free-standing structure in the world at 3,600-years-old. It’s about 400 years older than the wonderous Egyptian pyramids.

15. It might be tempting to defend the film with a potential scenario that coulda happened to explain the absence of any ruins. Like maybe uh… maybe there was a large-but-not-too-large meteor that impacted directly upon the above-pictured Elks Lodgian-style fort in 9,800 BC or maybe 9,754 BC, totally destroying its existence and stuff. Yeah.

16. No. But spoken like a true Emmerichian. Congratulations.

15. Having beaten the historic inaccuracy of this movie to death you probably want me to just clam up and willingly suspend my disbelieve like all the other teenagers this type of pap caters too, but my disbelief is far too valuable to just hang it up so cheaply. I can do it for “The Lord of the Rings” or “Star Wars” or any of the Narnian Chronicles (the password is: fantasy), but if you base a movie in a real place on a real planet with creatures that existed in a certain way but then just go and make all sorts of shit up to suit your needs, well then excuse silly old me for expecting that reality to be delivered somewhat authentically.

16. And besides all that, it’s PG-13. I hate PG-13.