The Fiscal Cliff Debate is Over. America Loses

Well, with this whole fiscal cliff debate, which I have been avoiding talking about because I was waiting to see the outcome, they have come to an agreement over what is to be done.  And, as it should come as no surprise to anyone, it screws the poor, and helps the rich.  Here is what has been done –

1. The Republicans have no given us anything on the debt ceiling.  The Treasury is going to have to find a way to avoid default, so we are going to see another routine of this pathetic charade when the next debt ceiling debate comes up, and Congress feigns this battle for what we know is how it is going to end.

2. They have made the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich permanent, while only extending those for the poor for 5 years.  Oh, right, they went up a little for those who are making over $400,000.  But it isn’t nearly enough.

3. Continues its exempt over the first $5 million in inherited estate wealth, what they called the Death Tax, in Republican circle.  In other words, the amount of money a dead rich person gives to a living rich person.

5. And most important – it doesn’t get nearly enough in revenue increases, meaning that there will have to be cuts.  And guess where these cuts will come from?  Social programs.

This is a failure.  It’s been heralded by both sides as a “compromise.”  Yeah, it’s a compromise in the same way that being given the flu is a good thing.  But the President is saying it’s a good thing.  That’s because “compromise” has been this administration’s opinion on everything.  Obama stands for nothing, and will “compromise” for everything.

Now look, I am not naive enough to think that all battles can be won.  Compromise is a perfectly acceptable option, when the compromise is fair.  Cut the budget?  Sure, I’m down with that.  How about cutting the most massive balls-and-chains that America has dragging it down right now – our UNBELIEVABLY bloated military budget, and the useless and failed war on drugs?  If we slashed the military budget to ribbons and got rid of the war on drugs, the revenue would see things even out in ways you can’t begin to imagine.  These two things, more than any other, are the anchor around America’s neck.

But no, that’s not what happens.  We attack social programs.  We attack what helps the least of us, and extol what helps the richest.  Mr. Rogers would be rolling in his grave if he saw how quickly we abandon his message of helping each other, and are eager to say that we should help ourselves.  That man is a personal icon of mine, and it kills me how easily people forget his message.  But that’s okay, the Christian-right of America is quick to do the same with Jesus, since he preached roughly the same thing.  But hey, he’s just the son of their bullshit sky wizard.  Why should they care?

I’m just going to keep this short – this is bullshit.  This whole pathetic affair is bullshit, and anybody with a modicum of political sense saw it coming from a mile away.  I saw it coming, and so did all of you.

So, in conclusion, welcome to 2013.  I hope it won’t be as fucked as 2012

Until next time, a quote,

“The gears are turning, the game is set. *Sigh* I’m sick of this, is it 2013 yet?”  -TJ Kirk, 2012

Peace out,

Maverick

Fat and Skinny War – Epic Butthurt

There has been an image going around the online sphere, and I find this image interesting, because it is showing a major butthurt part of the population, which in this case is ironically, not skinny people.  Now, this is not going to be a lambasting post.  I am genuinely intrigued by this.  I am not a super-skinny guy.  I am not some super-fat guy.  I am a little overweight, but since I am a titan of a man, for how tall I am, I am actually not that overweight.

kate moss skinnyBut when this image came out, from Kate Moss, of all people, I had a feeling that there would be a social backlash against it.  But honestly, when I saw some of what was being said, I almost got a little sad at how easily people can be butthurt and get pissed for no good reason.

For real, there is no reason to be mad at this.  She actually did say this.  It is an actual quote from her.  She believes that she likes to be skinny more than she likes food.  But here’s the question – what’s the problem with that?  For real, if she views being skinny as better than food, what do you care?  A lot of people have really wanted to really get emotional over this.  But that makes no sense.

For one thing, who cares about Kate Moss?  For real, who the fuck is this woman?  What has she done?  I don’t remember her in anything.  Not in any movies, TV, music, nowhere.  This is a name I know, but I don’t remember anywhere near the top of my head where I know her from.  Even the celebrities that I hate, like Dane Cook, pretty much any modern pop artist, or almost all of the pseudo-celebrity jackasses in Congress, I know why I hate them.  I have very clear defined reasons why these people annoy me.  And for some of them, why I am annoyed by them is a very good reason, because some of them can have a very large impact on society, like the jackasses in Congress.  They are able to affect things in a huge way.  But what has Kate Moss ever done?

A lot of people will come back and say that she will inspire women to have eating disorders.  Um, you people are stupid.  The fact is that having an eating disorder is not simple.  There are a lot of complex reasons why people have eating problems, and for you all to think that it is because somebody told them to be simple, that only shows that you are too dumb to think.  Oh, wait, you clearly don’t think.

Plus, this just shows the hypocrisy of our culture.  If a severely obese girl came out and said that she likes to eat more than be skinny, people would be applauding her and saying how brave she is.  What?  How?  It’s the exact same thing.  Ironically, in the modern culture, we are having a paradigm shift, slowly but surely, that says that being super-skinny is actually bad.  We are having a shift that says that women shouldn’t be super-fat, but not super-skinny either.  I have seen this a lot more than you’d think.  It’s encouraging, but at the same time, so what?

The reality of the situation is that all the butthurt people are clueless.  They don’t seem to understand that society isn’t as simple as it looks, and also, you need a thicker skin.  The people who tell you that life gets so much better when you grow up, and that you are going to be happier are idiots.  The same bullies in high school will become grown-up bullies.  The title will change, but they will be the same.  The same people who called you fat will still call you fat.  Ironically, a friend of mine gets called too skinny by people.  She is a little underweight, but that’s just how she is.  I wish I had a metabolism like her.  That would suit me for all the walking I do.

America, you’re dumb.  That’s the basic point I am making with this long rambling post.  Okay?

I should have another piece of The Wolves up tomorrow.

Until next time, a quote,

“The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits.”  -Albert Camus

Peace out,

Maverick

“Feminism” Invades Atheism

I honestly thought that the last I was going to hear of Rebecca Watson was after the ridiculous and totally pointless incident called “Elevatorgate.”  Honestly, this whole affair was so dumb that I was with Richard Dawkins the moment I heard about it.  A woman in the Western World, who knows nothing about how women in places like Iran or Cambodia are treated, is complaining about a man in an elevator hitting on her, and making this out to be a huge issue.  Can you say “First World Problems?”  But to this day, I still hear about her.

See, Watson (an apt name), has decided to go on a crusade to get the treatment of women better at conferences.  That’s right, apparently, at secular conferences, there is a massive wave of misogyny, and it is so bad that her and her cohorts feel that they have to travel in pairs.  In case the spooky atheist rapists find them in a back…booth, I guess.

And she is not alone anymore.  She has a mass of followers, including the increasingly-incoherent PZ Meyers, following her PC bullshit.  That’s exactly what it is.  It’s PC bullshit.  This is not even anything approaching a major issue, yet it is creating a massive divide within the atheist community, and is getting us to fight against each other, instead of at the causes that actually matter, like how religion here in America has a strangle-hold on politics.

And these people have some totally insane ideas about harassment, too.  See, one of their positions is that wearing fake jewelry and getting your feelings hurt at a conference is as bad as getting your ass grabbed.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s the Skepchick (Amy Roth) herself to tell you –

We’re not asking for anything crazy.  Just basic rules so that we can say, you know, this sort of thing, like, making fake jewelry and intentionally offending people is not okay.  Nor is grabbing someone’s ass.

Uh…what?  Fake jewelry?  If a girl wears fake earrings, that’s as bad as grabbing someone’s ass?  Are you serious?  You can’t possibly be making a position this stupid.  It just isn’t possible.

But no, this movement has an ever-growing following.  And apparently, according to PZ Meyers, these women may be so dumb that they are being harassed and they don’t even know it.  Uh…what?  This can’t be serious.  Ladies, are you so brain-dead that harassment goes underneath your notice?  Is PZ actually making the argument that you’re too stupid to get it?  Wow, I wonder who the REAL misogynist is.  Rebecca Watson even agreed with him, not taking the position that these women are lying, just that they are unable to understand when they are being harassed.  Really?  Your opinion of women is just so high, Ms. Watson…

This war of words is going on, according to Meyers, on the internet, as to whether or not women are just something to have sex with, or real people.  They believe this is an actual debate in the secular community.  And their source?  Comments sections on YouTube videos.

What the fuck is happening, people?!  This is not cool!  This is the kind of bad arguing and false-equivalence that I expect from religious people, when they are defending how Christians are so harassed and attacked in this country.  And according to Meyers, misogyny is so widespread in the atheist community because of this.  This, his ad hominem and  guilt-by-association evidence.  A man as well-respected and educated as him should not be making this kind of argument.  What’s more, people who hear it shouldn’t take it so seriously.  But we do, and the battle lines are growing.

This is beyond a waste of time.  I did a post earlier about this, and how I thought that this was a dumb issue, but the issue has now taken root.  Where once I dismissed this are the idiotic rambling of idiots, I now have to facepalm at the results it has done – harassment rules at conferences.

Apparently, anybody who is at a conference cannot do or say anything that upsets anybody.  Booths cannot have any “sexualized” (a term they do NOT define, by the way) clothing or uniforms.  Basically, the idea is that these people have actually made rules that tell you what you can and cannot do, say or wear at a conference.  You are basically being told that you don’t know how to conduct yourself, and these people do.  They apparently have far more insight than you, ladies.  These women are smarter than you, and you are too stupid to know how you should be.  And that goes for men too.

Not only are these people giving atheism a bad name, they’re giving feminism a bad name too.  They want to tell you what to wear and how to act.  These people have strong-armed this movement, and now, they are becoming the majority, because for some, they don’t want the atheist movement to die out.  For others, they are just too afraid to not go along with it, because some of these women will flag videos and will come after you just as ruthlessly as VenomFangX  or many other Fundie Christian groups have in the past.  For real, these people have a history of doc dropping, stalking and even threatening people who don’t agree with their position.  If these people want to behave just like the radical Christians, why not simply be Christian?  Would save the rest of us the embarrassment.

Women who have actually stood up for women’s rights should be ashamed.  These people are no-more feminists than I am a Christian.  They are professional victims, just like Feminist Frequency, who want to make themselves out to be the oppressed victims of a horrible conspiracy, and anyone who says otherwise and disagrees out to simply be a misogynist.  These people cannot take even the slightest hint of criticism.  Any perspective other than their own is to be blocked, ignored or made to be a person who hates women.  Not a person with an actual point of view.

The atheist community has the power to accomplish great things.  But we aren’t using it, because we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves over stupid bullshit like this.  That’s what this is – stupid bullshit.  This means nothing.  This is pointless.  This is a First World Problem in the worst way, and anyone with more than 20 brain cells knows it.

Can the grown-ups please come in the room and stop these children from fighting?

Until next time, a quote,

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”  -Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace out,

Maverick

The Wolves – Part 3: The Pup (Cont.)

Remember, if you missed anything, you can catch up with the entire story by clicking “The Wolves” link at the bottom.  Enjoy!

We picked out some lobster, and as we were heading to find some other foods, Maddie bumped into a rather pleasant looking fellow.  He had short dirty-blonde hair, with glasses.  He was a little bit heavy, but it was clear that he was a traveled man.  Given how he was looking at our food, he was a man who liked his lobster.  His clothes were well-kept, and obviously not cheap.  This was a man of means.
“I’m so sorry, miss!  Please…”  He looked down at the pup she was carrying, and smiled.  “Well I’ll be!  How absolutely adorable!”  He looked at Maddie.  “You mind if I pet her?”
She looked over at me, but I just shrugged.  “Sure.”
“Why thank you!”  He gently put his hand closer to the pup, who clearly liked the attention, so she let him pet her.  “What an adorable pup.  I never thought I would see a Wolf pup in my lifetime!”
Everyone stopped cold at this.  He knew we were Wolves?!  This was dangerous.  The man saw our reactions.
“Oh don’t worry!  I am not somebody with the military, who has been so adamant about Wolves destruction.  I’m a professor at Englewood Academy.  The Wolves has always been a point of interest for me.  I never thought I would see one this young!  It’s beautiful.”  He gently ran his fingers over Lizzy’s head, scratching behind her ears.  She was definitely enjoying this.
I approached the man, now more curious than anything.  “What does the Academy know about the Wolves?”
He looked up at me, smiling.  “Quite a bit, actually!  We have a vast research section dedicated to them.  Not in service to The Family’s military, who seem bent on their destruction.  Why, I’ll never know.”
Jubal was now curious.  “Do you know of any packs or Clans that still exist?”
Still petting Lizzy, the professor sighed.  “No, unfortunately.  I wish there was.  I would lose this weight and go out and study them!  I have done field work before.  But alas, nothing.  The last large pack or Clan was seen well-over 100 years ago.  Now, they are just gone.”  We all looked hurt by this.  But it was good to know.
I held out my hand.  “Thank you.  We can’t stay and chat, but I hope we run into each other again.  My name’s Lucien.”
The man shook my hand warmly.  “I would like that.  I have a million and one questions about your little friend.  My name’s Peter.  Peter Esquire.”  Somehow, I could tell, this wasn’t the last time that we were going to run into this professor.  He gave one last scratch behind the pup’s ears before leaving.  He looked a little sad to leave, but we both had places to be.  We headed out of the market, back toward the suburbs.

As we were leaving, Emily and Erin caught up with us.  I looked over at them.
“So, what’s the story?”
Emily made sure that Lizzy couldn’t hear her.  “The woman who lived in that house has been dead for almost a month.  The only reason that she isn’t covered in maggots is because the house is dry as a bone, and there isn’t a fly for miles.  It’s so dry that she looks like a prune.  Probably has something to do with the salt in the air, along with how dry it is.  From the looks of things, she died in her sleep.”
Erin looked over at Maddie, who was getting admiration from people for the little pup in her arms.  “The name Lizzy, it also comes from a daughter that she had.  She died when she was very little.  The influenza pandemic after the War.”
I nodded, taking it in.  Almost a month, and that pup was still alive.  That was a major accomplishment.  This pup was strong.  “I see.  Good work.  We’ve got some lobster tonight.”  They both perked up at this.
“Hot damn!  We haven’t had lobster in forever!” Erin squeaked.
“Yup.  Problem – where are we going to cook them?”
Emily looked a little uncomfortable, but she was thinking the same things I was.  “Why not at the old woman’s house?  It isn’t like she’s using the kitchen anymore.  We can’t eat the shells of those things.  We have to cook them.”
I nodded, turning back to Maddie.  She could see what we were thinking.  She looked down at Lizzy.
“Hey Lizzy, we don’t have anywhere to cook the lobster.  You think that the woman who lived there would mind if we used her kitchen?”
The little pup shook her head, her tail wagging. “No, I don’t think so!  Think we could save some lobster for her?!”  Such innocence.  Such genuine love.  It was painful.  But we couldn’t hide the truth from her for too much longer.
“Sure.”  That was all that Maddie could say, trying to hide the sadness in her voice.

We got back to the house.  The plumbing still worked, so we ran water until it was clean enough to cook with.  The stove was a gas stove, and there was still fuel in the tank, so we got to cooking.  It was time to tell Lizzy the truth.  I called the group in to the living room.  She had gone back upstairs, to check and see if she had woken up.  The poor pup had no idea.  She came back down and saw us all there.
“What’s going on?” she asked, seeing our serious faces.  We were still in human form.
Maddie leaned down in front of her.  “Lizzy, we need to talk about something.”
The pup shifted her paws.  “I don’t want to talk right now.”
“I know, Lizzy, but we need to.”  She gently rubbed the pup’s ears.  Maddie took her Wolf form, gently licking the pup’s head.  Mandy did as well, going over.
“Did she wake up?  Your friend upstairs?” she asked gently.
Lizzy shook her head, looking sad.  “No.  She still hasn’t.  I keep trying and trying.  I licked her hand, I barked, I jumped on her a bit.  She doesn’t like that, but if it would wake her up, I wouldn’t mind her being a little mad.  But it doesn’t matter what I do.”  The pup was starting to cry.
Mandy got down in front of her, gently putting her head next to her.  “Lizzy, I don’t think she is ever going to wake up.”
The pup looked down at her, her eyes wide.  “Why wouldn’t she wake up?!  Is she sick?!”
For a few minutes, nobody said anything.  Finally, I walked over and crouched down in front of her.  “She’s passed away, Lizzy.  In her sleep, she…she died.”
The pup shook her head, not wanting to believe.  She stood back a little, then turned and ran back upstairs.  When she got there, for the first time, she actually looked at the face of the women who looked after her.  It was shriveled, sunken, and dry.  There was no color to her old skin.  The hair was faded and like string.  For the first time, she realized that they were right.  The old woman was dead.  The pup cried out in pain.  Her heart was hurting.  We walked into the room, and she looked up at us.
“She’s…gone.  I’m all alone.  What will happen to me now?!”  She buried her face in the blanket.
Maddie leaned down, and smiled at the pup.  “You know, we are all part of a pack.  We’re trying to find a new home.  Why don’t you come with us?!  We aren’t much, but we look out for each other.  We’ll take care of you.”  She got on the bed next to her.  “I promise, we’ll never abandon you.”
Lizzy looked up at her, then at the rest of us.  “But won’t I just slow you down?”
I looked down and shook my head.  “Not a bit.  Maddie will be your caretaker.  You are one of the pack, if that’s what you want.”  I wasn’t even going to put this to a vote.  I was sick of listening to squabbling, and I knew that none of them would object anyway.  A pup, who would just turn her away to the cold?
A minute passed.  Lizzy looked back at the woman.  She stared at the cold dead face for a while.  Finally, she looked back at us and nodded.  “Okay, I’ll go with you.”  She then got a bit of a smile on her little face.  “So, will the lobster be ready soon?”
We all laughed.  It felt good.
“Yeah, just give it a few more minutes,” Mandy replied.  Maddie picked the pup up as we headed downstairs.

We got done cooking the lobsters, and the smell was amazing!  Emily and Mandy were both damn good cooks.  And you can bet that not one person had anything to say about Emily or the fact that she made the food.  Not with a smell this good.  We sat down and dug in.  Maddie helped Lizzy cut open the shell of the lobster.  The pup dug in with abandon once she had the meat.
As we ate, Savannah looked down at the little pup.  “So Lizzy, how did you come to meet the woman who lived here?”
Lizzy looked up from her lobster, swallowing it with relish.  “I don’t remember very much, before that.  There was mommy and daddy.  We were on our own.  I don’t remember what they looked like…”  Her face got a little sullen.  “When we were at a forest, we saw a lake.  I was really thirsty.  We stopped to drink, but then, daddy got really nervous.  He said he could smell something.  Mommy got nervous too.
Then there were lights.  Red lights.  They were eyes.  Red eyes.  Mommy and daddy told me to get under a picnic table.  I hid there, and curled up into a ball, so they wouldn’t see me.  I heard lots of loud noises.  There were screams.  I tried to cover my ears, because it hurt.  Eventually, the noises stopped.  But my parents never came back.  I waited and waited and waited, but I was all alone.  Eventually, the woman who lived here found me.  She reached down and petted my head, and asked if I was hungry.  So I went with her.  She looked after me.  And…and she was my best friend…”  Nobody said anything for a long time.  Finally, Maddie looked down at the pup, rubbing her head.
“Now you have lots of friends.”
The pup looked up and her tail wagged.  “Yup!  Can I have more?”  Everybody laughed, as Maddie took apart another lobster for her.  Unlike humans, we Wolves waste nothing, except the shells.  The rest is damn good eating.  Once we finished eating, we returned to our Wolf forms, laying down and resting in what was a surprisingly warm house.  Lizzy snuggled up to Maddie, who put a paw around her, holding her tight.  She was one of us now.  I looked at the two of them, and I finally realize what Maddie’s role was to be in this pack.  She would look after the pup.  It was a job that she seemed to take to.  That’s good.  I walked over to my mate, who looked up and nodded.  It sometimes disturbed me how she seemed to be in my mind.  But that’s why I loved her so much.

The next day, we built a pyre in the back-yard, where the woman’s garden was.  It was over-grown with weeds now, but it was easy to tell that this had once been a place where a lot of love had been invested.  We took her from where she lay in the house, and set her on top.  Lizzy wasn’t very keen on this, but we told her that, according to legend, the fire would not burn her once she was gone.  We would wait until the moon shone, and the fire and moon would guide her to Paradise.  She would be fine.
True to our word, we waited until nightfall and then set the pyre ablaze.  We knew that we couldn’t stick around long enough for a complete ceremony, because the law would be coming at any minute, along with whatever fire department existed.  And the neighbors.  But we stopped as we got to a hill, overlooking the house, and let loose a howl.  It was to help guide the soul of this woman to the other side.  She had taken good care of this pup.  I made sure that we were able to repay her for her efforts, by making sure the path was clear.  Lizzy stopped and looked back one last time.  For just a moment, she could have swore that she saw the old woman looking at her from the house.  She smiled and waved goodbye, calling out to the pup.
“I’ll see you there, Lizzy!  On the other side!”  The pup howled once more, and the woman vanished.  She cried a bit, but we couldn’t stay.  We ran in the moonlight, and her smile grew.  She felt alive again!  For the first time in a month, she was living!

We grabbed a train the next morning, and left the island, never to return.

Fin.

Until next time, a quote,

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”  – Terry Pratchett

Peace out,

Maverick

The Wolves – Part 3: The Pup

If you all missed any part up til now, simply click “The Wolves” link at the bottom, and enjoy!

We met up with Mandy in a dilapidated part of town.  Saying that it had seen better days was putting it nicely.  People hadn’t lived here, legally, in a very long time.  The buildings were all cookie-cutter apartment complexes.  Individual houses were something only the very rich could afford.  The windows were shattered.  The concrete walls were cracked and in very bad shape.  Years beyond simply needing repair.  This part of town was going to collapse in on itself.  It was the perfect place for us to make shelter for the night.  In a part of town this bad, nobody would notice us.  There were other people.  Squatters, drifters, immigrants, the kind of people who didn’t want to get notice.  Some of them were in larger groups than us.  No Wolves.  We would smell it if that was the case.  I admit to feeling a little sad about this.  Finding more of our kind would always be welcome.  Since meeting up with each other, we hadn’t seen a single Wolf anywhere.  We were very much alone here.  The reality of that didn’t sit well with me.
We got into the house and took some rest.  I gathered the others, save Maddie and Lizzy.  The pup was tired from her injuries, and looking to recuperate.  So Maddie was looking after her.  It’s ironic – she took her job so seriously, even though, if you looked at her, she seemed to take very little seriously.  Her obligation to this pup was a very rare exception to that.  While Maddie was no fighter, I have no doubt that anybody who ever tries to lay a hand on her will wind up having that hand come off.  Good on her.  I stared at the pup, who was back in Wolf form, and laying gently in Maddie’s lap.  Maddie was gently rubbing her head, scratching behind her ears, and this seemed to sit very well with the tiny Wolf.  She looked so adorable, it took me back to when we first met her.

Lizzy was the last member to join our pack.  When we first met her, we were all still very new to this, and still getting used to each other.  Having Emily as a Beta was the biggest problem.  She wasn’t completely Wolf, and to the members of the Gray Clan, this didn’t sit well at all.  There had never been a Black, White or Red “half-breed.”  Since Gray Wolves were the ones who had been in human contact the most throughout the years, all the mix breeds came from them.  True enough, she was half-Gray, half-husky.  Yet she was still a Wolf, and could still summon the energies that our people had been blessed with, by the Goddess.  As such, I had none of the problems that the rest of the pack did.  She had proven herself to me more than once, but for them, it was going to take time.  I could live with that.
The day we met Lizzy, we were in one of the few places where people lived that wasn’t an enclosed city.  There were towns here and there that were not enclosed, yet still had people living in them.  It was a dangerous existence.  One had to always be careful about bandit invasions.  Yet if you could handle that, it was a lot easier living than in the block-cities.  Most of these cities were along the railway.  That did afford them some protection, which was good, since most of these cities were hopelessly dependent on being rail-towns for what little money they had.
This one was situated on an island, which is why it was such a peaceful place.  The Family had a small garrison of soldiers here, but only for observation of the nearby areas.  The grass was actually green, and the people were nicer than most places.  The food was also plentiful.  There was a lot of crop-growing here, and meat as well.  It was a genuinely pleasant place to be, which made having to move on from it that much harder.
We were walking past what could be called a suburban area.  It was filled with families, and actual children.  While nobody was particularly wealthy here, they were still happy.  It was a lot better than most of the block-cities, which were so polluted that children there were often plagued by disease and malnutrition.  Here, they had open air.  It was a place where you actually wanted to live, unlike most.
The wind was blowing, and I felt good that day.  We were looking for a place where we could crash for the night.  To be honest, we half-expected to end up sleeping under the trees, since there was an actual forest here, looking up at the stars.  That sounded pretty good right about now.  But it couldn’t hurt to see if we could find somewhere with a roof, and where we could go unnoticed.  All these houses, however, were very occupied.  Save one.  It looked very old and broken down.  This was a place that hadn’t been paid attention to in a very long time.  At first, we were thinking that we hit jackpot.  But something was off about this place.  There was a smell in the air.  It was the smell of death.  Somebody had died in there, and this smell was old.  It had happened a long time ago.  We were about to move on, when Maddie stopped.  She looked at the house.  We all stopped and looked back at her.
“What’s up?” Mandy asked.
She stood there for some time, looking at the house.  “I smell something inside.  Not just death.  There’s something else.  It’s faint.  But I could swear, it’s the smell of a Wolf!”
This got everyone’s attention.  I walked over to her.  “You sure?”
“Definitely.  It’s small, but it’s there.”  Many of us looked worried about this.
“You think the smell of death is connected to that?  Like the one who died is a Wolf?” Erin asked, her eyes downcast.  This hurt us all.  To think that the next Wolf we would find would be dead, it was too hard to think about.  But we had to find out.

We approached the door, opening it slowly.  Neal and Savannah went in first.  Even in human form, they were still our enforcers.  I wasn’t far behind.  The dust that rose from the place showed that nobody had looked after this place in a very long time.  There were papers on the floor, along with spider-webs on the ceiling.  The window was open, blowing dusting around.  This was the house of an older person.  She had pictures on her wall of various places.  Yet there were no pictures of family.  Did she have none?  It was then that I noticed several photos.  They had here, and a young pup.  It was a Wolf pup!  What was a human doing with a Wolf pup?!  The pup looked happy.  Very happy.  What happened to her?  And where was the pup?  These were questions that needed answers, and I was on a mission to find out.
The smell of death was stronger from upstairs.  We all headed toward the staircase.  We were cautious.  Who knows how old those pictures are.  That pup could be all grown up by now, and the last thing I wanted was to get into a fight.

From upstairs, the little pup heard the sound of people.  Who would come in without knocking first?  That was awfully rude.  The old woman didn’t like when people did that.  She looked down at the body in bed beneath her.  She licked her hand, trying to wake her.  Maybe, if she could get her to wake up, the smell that was so heavy in here would go away.  She had been trying and trying for days.  But no matter what she did, the woman wouldn’t wake.  Why wouldn’t she wake up?  The smell was so bad in here.  She wanted to leave.  Her tummy was making noises.  She hadn’t eaten in days.  There was nothing in the house to eat.  She was so desperate to get her to wake up, but she didn’t.  Now there were people in the house.  They were at the staircase, looking to come upstairs.  She got up off the woman, walking to the door.  She poked her little head out the door.  There was talking.  It sounded like at least eight of them.  She walked over to the staircase, keeping low and looking down.  She saw them all, and started barking at them.  Maybe if they saw her barking, they’d leave!

We looked up at the pup, very confused.  Then, it suddenly hit us – she doesn’t know that we’re Wolves!  She was too young to smell it.  Her tiny little gray head was just so cute, trying to look tough.  But she wasn’t.  She was WAY too young to be a threat to us.
I looked at the others and told them, “Turn back to your Wolf forms.  That should make things easier for her.”  In a flash, we were Wolves again, looking up at her.

This was bad.  She could deal with eight humans.  Barking usually scared them off.  But eight Wolves!  That was too much.  But how were they able to become humans?  That was weird.  She stood up and looked at them.
“You should leave.  My owner will be up at any moment, and she doesn’t like guests who come unannounced.”  She was trying to sound brave and sure, but she had never felt so scared in her life.  It was then that a Red Wolf approached.  She was very thin, and didn’t look all that imposing.  She smiled at the pup and looked up.
“Has she been asleep for long?” she asked, as gently as she could.
The pup nodded.  “Yeah, for a long time.  I keep trying to wake her up, but nothing works.”  There was sadness in her voice.  She wanted to go out and play.  She wanted to get some food.  She wanted to be out in the wind, or go for one of their long walks.  Anything was better than this.
The Red Wolf nodded, moving just a little closer.  Enough to be friendly, but not get her nervous.  She could see that the pup was nervous.
“You look awful hungry.  We’re going to look for food.  You want to come with us?”  She smiled at the little pup.  “I’m sure that she will still be here when we get back.”
The pup thought about this for a moment, then nodded.  “Sure, I guess I can do that.”

We started to leave, with our new companion.  The poor thing was so malnourished.  It was awful.  If she had stayed in this house too much longer, she would have died here.  She desperately needs food.  Maddie walked over to her, changing back into her human form.  She smiled down at the pup, “What’s your name?”
She looked up at her, a little nervous, but quickly warming up to the Maddie.  “The woman who lives here called me Lizzy.  Says that’s the name of somebody she cared about.”
“That’s a nice name, Lizzy,” Maddie replied, opening her arms.  The little pup moved closer, letting Maddie pick her up.  She smiled at this.  She liked it when she was carried.  She was so small.  Who knew how big her human form would be.  She was too young for that.  So for now, she would have to be our pet.
As we left the house, I turned to Emily.  Very quietly, so our new charge wouldn’t hear, I whispered to her, “Head back to the house.  Check the place out.  Find out how long the woman inside has been dead.  Take Erin with you, to watch your back.”
Emily looked up at me with a rather ugly look.  “She doesn’t like me.”
“You’re the Beta.  I gave you an order.  If she doesn’t like it, tell her to take it up with me.”  My voice was dead-serious.  Emily said nothing, just nodded and walked back.  Erin gave her a cold look when she was talking to her, but she saw my face looking back at them, and knew that now was not a good time to mess with me.  They would have to get used to this, whether they liked it or not.  The two slipped back, and we started off toward the town.

We had some money from a previous run-in with a bandit group.  They had been robbing a Family supply train, and we decided to get in on it.  They had some funds being transferred on the train.  We robbed the cases they were sending the money in, and now we were able to barter with ease.
The town was a very mellow place.  Street vendors had various trinkets and foods that were grown around town.  Well, whatever food The Family’s troops didn’t take for themselves.  Most of what they sold here was vegetables.  The land outside of the town was farming networks.  This was the safest place for a long time that one could grow food.  Well, that The Family could grow food, anyway.  Underground farming was getting bigger and bigger, since The Family was taking more and more of the harvests.  The street vendors who were part of the Underground were also out.  In a place like this, it was safe to do so.  The troops that The Family garrisoned were too bored and the police were too easily bribed to care.
We walked from stall to stall.  Lizzy was eye-balling everything, but like us, vegetables didn’t interest her much.  We were after meat.  But on an island, you can bet that the biggest source of meat was fish.  The harbor was alive and bustling.  Various fish vendors were holding up their catch.  It was so ironic that even after the third World War, with so much death and destruction, the oceans were still alive and well.  There wasn’t much point nuking the water, so almost all of the nuclear fallout was on land.  Thanks to the vastly smaller amount human activity, after the initial pollution nightmare that was post World War III, things in the oceans bounced back very quickly.
Most of the fish was nothing exceptional.  But we got to a vendor who had a very nice smell coming from it – lobster!  Now this was something to get excited about.  We hurried over, and as we thought, there was a fresh caught bunch of lobster on sale!  We had to jump on this.  It was a treat, but since we had a new friend, this was as good a time as any to have one.  We bought enough to feed the pack, but were careful about our money.  Who knew when our next payday would be?  The pack was excited.  So was I.  But now we had a problem – we needed somewhere to cook it.

Fin.

A continuation of this is coming very soon.  Stay tuned!

Until next time, a quote,

“Too many people grow up. That’s the real problem with the world – too many people grow up.” -Walt Disney

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Things I Liked About Christmas

Well, in lieu of a blog about Christmas itself, I thought that this year’s Christmas blog would be about something different – the things I like most about Christmas.  It is by far my favorite holiday.  Or rather, it was.  It was a holiday that I loved so much.  But this year, for the first time, I genuinely don’t give a shit.  This is the first year that it couldn’t matter to me less that it is Christmas.  I don’t feel anything for this holiday.  We’ll get into why in a minute.  But first, here are the top 10 reasons that I used to love this holiday.  And this makes it all the harder that this year, I couldn’t care less.

Ornaments10. Ornaments
Oh how I have always loved putting up the Christmas tree.  This is the first year that I had no part in it.  I had to get back to the dorms because of work and final projects.  It was so hectic that I genuinely felt overwhelmed at times.  But one of my favorite parts about this holiday was putting up the Christmas tree and figuring out where the best spots were for everything.  It was so tedious, yet so enjoyable.  I always loved it.  And once it was all done, they looked so beautiful.  I truly do regret not getting to help put up the tree this year.  I would have done that part long before this holiday went to shit for me.

Kitty9. My Cat
One of the things that has been hardest about living at the dorms was that I couldn’t be around my cat, Lizzy.  I do so love that little beast.  She’s a whiny, angry little puss, who only loves me.  She treats everybody else like yesterday’s trash, except for me.  I remember when I first got the little devil.  She was climbing up the cage wall at the pet store.  She looked at me like “get me the fuck out of here!”  I knew from that moment that her and I were going to be best friends.  She’s getting old.  That makes me sad.  If she dies, then I am that much more alone.  She’s one of the few things I can depend on always being there for me.  Unlike the person who threw my friendship in the trash recently, and didn’t even look back.  I love that cat so much.  So incredibly much.

Moose in the Headlights, by Emily Gelino-Bequette8. Snow (when I don’t have to drive in it)
Having lived in the most northern state in the Union, I have had to live with snow every winter.  And when I don’t have to drive in it, it is beautiful.  It’s a beautiful thing to see.  Of course, it turns the roads into a dangerous mess, and it seems like every year, every dumb shit in my part of the world forgets how to drive in it.  Like the summer was so long that they forgot that winter exists.  Dumb bastards.  But I do love watching it fall, if I know that I don’t have anywhere that I need to be in the next few days.  Very, very beautiful.

Nightmare Before Christmas7. My Favorite Christmas Specials
It kills me that I forgot my movie collection at the dorms, because I could use a good Christmas special right now.  I linked my Top 10 Christmas Specials blog after the number.  Check it out, if you want to know what tickles my holiday buttons.  Some of them might not make much sense to you, but I still think they are beautiful.  I’m one of those weird people who has my own little quirks, but it’s all good.  I get to have fun, and that’s what matters.  Well, I did.  After losing a friendship that meant so much to me, because of a person I never met, then I just stopped caring.  Still, I hope that you all were able to find that little Christmas film that makes you feel all warm inside.  I envy you for being able to feel that way.

Happy People6. People actually being nice!
For real, have you ever noticed that even the biggest asshole in the universe turns into one of the sweetest people the moment that this time of year comes around?  I wish that some people I knew were like that.  Then, I wouldn’t be sitting here, crying while listening to Christmas music on the radio, feeling like shit.  I kept hoping that the spiked eggnog (one of the few kinds of booze I will actually drink) would dull the pain.  But it doesn’t.  She left my life, and right when I was hoping to see her the most.  I think she did that on purpose.  But it does feel good when you can get that person who is a dick the rest of the year, but then you see them in a Christmas tree sweater, and they are actually smiling.  Alas, my work-mates at my job didn’t get that.  My smile is such a rare occurrence these days that I think the people at my job would be shocked if they ever saw it.  I don’t have a reason to smile.

Presents5. Presents (duh)
Yeah, kind of a given that I would be big on this one.  Who isn’t?  Who doesn’t love to get presents under the tree?  Ironically, for me, I was told to temper my expectations, since the parents don’t have much money.  But that’s okay.  I don’t mind that at all.  They have to look after themselves first.  I have no desire to feel good about this season anyway, so it’s all good.  I just want…for the day to be over.  That way, I can stop feeling like I want to cry.  It just hurts too much.  Was what we had worth nothing?  She said it meant so much.  That losing me would hurt more than she could bear.  Yet throwing what we had away, without so much as a word to me, didn’t seem to faze her in the least.  She seemed almost happy to be rid of me.  And all because of a guy who never met me.  Fuck love.

Crete, Greece tourism destinations4. No School Work (or job work)
Can’t complain about this one.  It let me finally catch up on Assassin’s Creed III, which I had been waiting for ever since I preordered it back in September.  It was worth it.  That game is awesome!  And getting to let my insomnia not be an anchor in my life was pretty sweet too.  Though it has given me more time to think, which does me no kindness now.  I was hoping to see so many people when I got back home.  Instead, I have seen only one friend, and while I do love her to death, I was hoping to see more.  Now, she is moving away, and everybody else is gone.  And the only person I was hoping to see over break got pissed at me (this isn’t the friend who threw me away.  Somebody else), and now our friendship is hurting.  Irony – for the same reason a best friend threw my friendship in the trash.  But I do get an actual break.  That is pretty damn sweet.

Christmas Lights3. Lights
Probably the greatest saving grace about this holiday is the lights on the tree.  I remember how good it made me feel, and how much I was able to get lost in them.  Now, when I look at them, it just hurts.  It seems like no matter how loyal I am to people, my loyalty is not rewarded.  I try so hard to be a good friend, yet what do I get in return?  I get people to throw my friendship away, and to treat me like I am somebody they can use and throw away.  My dedication has been abused, time and time again.  And for what?  The lights are so beautiful.  I stare into them.  I want to get lost in them.  Yet all they do now is remind me why it hurts so much to be me.  It’s no fun being me.  Being me fucking sucks.  Yet they are still beautiful.  If I believed there was a God, he would be in the Christmas lights.  But that’s just me.  I’m weird like that.

Holiday Sex2. Sex
Yeah, when I made this list, it made sense why this was close to the top (I made this list a long time ago).  When one has a person that they love, one of the best times of year to express it is during Christmas.  So many holidays kinks, if that’s what one’s into.  There is this one girl who I wish I could share some kinks.  Run my fingers through her brown hair, let my hands satisfy a fetish of mine and fondle her large breasts, to explore every inch of her body.  She is in good shape, but not a super-model.  I am glad of this.  I like my women to look like real women, not some idealized vision of beauty.  She thinks she is in such bad shape.  I really must cure her of this.  And yet, at the same time, I now hate sex.  I hate it so much, because the drive to pursue it, along with love, has completely destroyed a friendship.  See, her boyfriend didn’t like me.  Why?  Got me.  I’ve never met the guy.  This guy doesn’t like me, when all I was at that point, since she lived so far away, was a text and Facebook message to her.  That was it.  Yet apparently, I was causing problems.  Why?  She had no answer, and saw fit to tell me to leave it alone.  I was so tempted to yell and scream that this is bullshit, but what’s the use?  The friendship is dead now.  I am alone again.

And the thing that I liked most about this holiday, and why it was once my favorite holiday is…

Eggnog1. Eggnog and Brandy
What a perfect combination.  This is, by far, the greatest drink in the mostly-gross history of alcohol.  It all tastes awful to me, except for this and a couple others.  This concoction has seen me through the last week or so, as I come to grips with how things are.  Why did this have to happen?  Why couldn’t it have been stopped, or made less awful?  What could we have done different?  I want to stop asking myself.  I want it to stop hurting.  But it doesn’t.  The booze dulls the pain, but in the end, it does nothing for me but remind me of how pathetically sad it all is.  Still, this drink is amazing.  If you haven’t had it, do.  You won’t regret it.

I want to like this holiday.  I want to think it is a great holiday.  Instead, all I have to think about now is how much I wish it would just go away.  That way, I could cry, and not feel like I am bringing people down.  I have to hide it, because I want people to be happy.  But in the end, I am miserable, and hiding it does nothing to change that.  Fuck love.  Fuck relationships.  Fuck everything to do with this whole holiday.

Fuck Christmas.

Until next time, a quote,

“ I’ve always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.”  -Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Assassin’s Creed III

Assassin's_Creed_III_CoverThe Assassin’s Creed brand has been a massive undertaking that mixes up some almost-obsessive attention to detail, with story-telling that gives a new take on history.  This latest entry into the franchise does not shy away from this.  If anything, it excels at it.

Assassin’s Creed III picks up where Revelations left off, with Desmond Miles and his friends Shaun and Rebecca, along with his father, taking up residence in a First Civilization temple, trying to unlock its secrets before the world ends.  While there, Desmond goes back into the Animus, to learn about the life story of another of his ancestors, Ratonhnhaké:ton, or Connor.

Now, the beginning to this game is almost painfully slow.  But there is a very good reason for this – it sets up the rest of this game, and the end of the first act is one of the few openings that genuinely caught me by surprise.  But after that, it goes into the life of Connor, and some of my favorite moments in this game came from just how fluently the speech was with the Iroquois tribe.  The language was spot-on, and they got good people to do the acting.  This was an amazing performance…save one.  Ironically, the only character in this game who fell flat for me was Connor.  While he did have his moments, like the dialogues between him and his father, I still didn’t think much of him.  He is a rather forgettable protagonist, which is a shame, considering how much of a role he had.

The next thing to praise about this game is the presentation.  My god, this game is gorgeous.  You really do feel like you are in the time of the American Revolution.  It is amazing to look at.  This is the height of what this kind of game can be on the current consoles, but they sucked every ounce of potential.  If Halo 4 represents the best in what a first-person shooter can be on the current consoles (which I agree with), then Assassin’s Creed III represents the best of what an open-world game can be.  Every element is rich.  They did not get lazy on anything.  Every area feels alive and real.  From the cities you travel in, to the oceans you sail on.

This is a game that will never leave you feeling like there’s nothing to do.  You can do the usual stealthy stalking missions.  You can use what you learn in the cities to hunt animals in the forest.  But surprisingly, the most fun part for me came from the adventures you can have on the high seas.  Man, that was so much fun!  Once you start customizing your ship and seeing what works where, sea battles are the best.  Part of me was almost sad there wasn’t more.  More missions, more adventures.  Maybe mix up some of the sea adventure with exploration.  But for what I got, I am more than satisfied.

A completionist by nature, I scoured the cities and Frontier for everything.  I did all the Homestead missions so that I could have everything.  I deliberately messed around for hours until my convoys could get me enough cash to upgrade my ship how I wanted.  This game has hours upon hours of stuff to do.  If you have somehow managed to get bored, it’s your own damn fault.

Another nice touch was real-world events.  Desmond goes on missions of his own in the real world.  My favorite has to be when you invade Abstergo and you finally get some revenge on Vidic.  That was three-games coming, and man, it was brief, but felt good.  I was laughing at his dumb ass the whole time.  It was seriously vindicating.  Another thing I wish there could have been more of.  For as much as there was in this game, I wish there had been more, but that’s never a bad thing, I guess. And with a DLC coming out where Washington becomes an evil tyrant with First Civilization relics, I look forward to seeing what more they can do.

This was a great conclusion, though the ending (which I won’t spoil) does leave something to be desired.  It’s not bad, but it doesn’t feel as final as I was hoping, and it leaves me with a lot more questions than answers.  Though maybe there will be more.  But if not, I am still satisfied by what I got.  This was a great game.  I am very late to the party, but if you haven’t gotten on board already, this game is definitely for you.

Final Verdict:
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

The Wolves: Part 2 – Life in Wonderland (Cont.)

Here’s the continuation of Part 2.  If you have missed any parts, and want to catch up, simply click the “The Wolves” link at the bottom.

Everybody was very rested when the train arrived in New Delta City.  There had been some meat in the cargo containers, which fed us a great deal.  Lizzy was finally awake, and all kinds of upset at the bandits.  She talked very sternly (or as sternly as a pup could) about how she was going to bite them when she found them again.  It was adorable.

We got out of the cargo car of the train before it got to the station.  There were lots of armed guards here, to check on it.  True enough, all of those who had been guarding the train were dead.  We were like ghosts in the still prevailing darkness, though the sun was looking to come up.  We knew that we couldn’t hide in our natural forms.  Not here.  We had to become human.  In a flash, the lot of us stood up in human form.
Much like as a Wolf, I stood tall as a human.  My hair was a dirty-blond color.  Same as my wolf, my eyes were a warm blue.  My mate was rather tall as well, for a human female.  She had long brown hair, which I thought was beautiful.  Much as I may hate what they have done to us, and are continuing to do to us, I do admire the human’s beauty.
Emily was rather short, for a human female.  Her hair was long and kind of a brownish-blonde color.  It was an odd dichotomy, for sure.  But that suited Emily just fine.  Her green eyes were still there, and still gorgeous.  It was so strange, that she looked so fragile as a human, yet even in this form, she was anything but.  She knew the ways of human combat, and was a force to be reckoned with, if she had to be.
Her counterpart Beta, on the other hand, couldn’t look less intimidating if he tried.  Jubal was a short man, who had black hair.  His features were gentle, in every sense of the word.  He looked like on that a person would be able to seek advice from, or, as the humans put it, have a beer with.  He looked personable.  There was a gentle smile on his face that invited people to talk to him.  There was also a very Native quality about his appearance.  I liked that.Erin looked a lot like Jubal, in many respects.
She also looked very much like a Native American, but only with her facial bone structure.  She was pale as a ghost and with black hair.  Despite being a Hunter as a Wolf, she was not built for fighting as a human.  She was built for running.  It was a trait that was put to good use more than once.  Girl was a little too skinny for her own good, both as a human and a Wolf.  Same with Maddie.
Savannah was something of an odd duck, both as a Wolf and a human.  As a human, her hair was short and spiky.  It was this way naturally.  Don’t ask me why, but it never obeyed her when she tried to flatten it.  That little inner rebel Wolf inside.  I always liked that.  She had face paint that she regularly used, but never in the same design.  Yet despite wanting to do something that should gain her so much attention, she wore hooded sweatshirts and did nothing to bring attention to herself.  I have a theory that she has an artist inside, but that’s just me.
Maddie was different as a human.  She had long and flowing brown hair.  It was like the waves of the ocean.  It was amazing because not only did it have a beautiful flow, but it never got messy, even in the worst of winds.  It was always beautiful.  The girl was unbelievably thin.  A little too much for her own good.  But she was still fit, and an able runner.  This was very good, given her charge in the pack.
Lizzy had only recently discovered her human form.  Changing into a human was not easy.  She was still getting used to it.  Her human form was tiny and, like as a Wolf, totally adorable.  She had short hair that could easily be like a boy.  It was long enough to be feminine, but it could still be mistaken as a boy, with a hat.  She had an innocent face that always had a happy tinge to it.  Even when she was down, or deep in thought, she still looked like a little thing could make her happy.  Whenever Maddie would go somewhere, she got very down.  But the moment that her caretaker returned, she brightened.  It was nice.  Another neat thing about her – her hair was never the same color.  Every time she became human, it was different.  That little mystery was always something that intrigued me, but there were no Elders to ask about it.  Not that I knew of, anyway.  None of us had ever even met an Elder, so we just accepted things as they were.

We walked through the train-yard.  New Delta City was like pretty much every other city we had seen.  It was enclosed by a massive solid concrete wall.  These walls were the 8th and up wonders of the world.  With so few human cities, they had to be.  Not to mention, the constant wars that made them, along with still plaguing some of them.  On these walls were huge batteries of anti-aircraft weapons.  The walls didn’t have to worry about a ground invasion.  Only the gates had to worry about that.  The walls were impossible to scale.  One would be seen long before they got to the top, and shot.  Or, if they weren’t seen, they would be scanned by the scanners on the wall.  They scanned not only the walls, but the surrounding area.  It was a constant effort.  Not even mice could get past them.  How did we, you ask?  Well, that’s why we were inside the train.  It can only scan exteriors.  They see everything that approaches the wall, but only the exteriors of them.
Once inside the city, we saw that it truly was like all the others.  These cities were hastily made so that they could give people shelter from the World War that was raging outside.  The architecture was stone and steel.  There was so little color in this world.  Gray stone, gray steel, gray smoke, it was a world of gray, black and white.  I genuinely didn’t get how people could live like this.  It was so ugly that it was painful.  But maybe these people were just too afraid to leave.  It wasn’t hard to see why.  The third World War lasted for almost 30 years.  It depleted almost half of the world’s entire population.  Those who survived were bandits, nomads or citizens in The Family’s cities.  It was such a harsh world.

We were here for supplies.  Staying in a city for too especially long was a dangerous gambit for Wolves.  The Family and their troops occupied them.  Around each city, you could see their airships, artillery and vehicles.  Even among themselves, the fighting continued.  Not only did the cities have to be defended from the various bandit groups, be they just nomads trying to survive or murderers, but they were also fighting each other.  Members of The Family fought each other.  Proxy wars.  The pathetic fighting of people who were unable to accept peace.  I hated it, and them.  I hated them all. Despite how dangerous a city could be, we weren’t worried about wandering around.  The Family’s soldiers generally stayed in their barracks, in one part of the city.  The regular police kept order in the city.  And they didn’t know that we could become human.  The greatest ally that we had, was our ability to not be noticed.  The Family simply had too many soldiers.  As powerful as the Wolves were, the guns were far stronger.
We decided to split up into two groups.  The first group was going to find a place for us to settle into for the night.  The other would go and find supplies.  I took charge of the second group.  Food was a big item.  But meat was a hard thing to come by.  Walking through the town, we saw the people.  It was almost winter here.  The weather was biting cold.  People were bundling up in whatever they could find.  Trash fires were a common occurrence.  The only bit of color in this abhorred ugly world.   I took Erin, Emily and Jubal with me.  Mandy took the rest.  We got to a bar, which was the best place to start looking for where one got meat.  Since it was such a valuable commodity, it would be protected by people.  But we had a great bargaining chip – money.

The bar was about as run-down as you can imagine.  The wooden tables and chairs were worn to the point that they were about to fall apart.  The bottles of booze at the front of the bar added a menagerie of color to the room.  I couldn’t help but stare.  The bartender was a rather rough looking man, with a scraggly beard.  I took Jubal up to the bar, having Emily and Erin sit close by.  The man looked up at us.  We were clearly the newest people to come in here in a long time.
“What can I get for you folks?” he asked.
I leaned against the bar, shrugging.  “Whatever’s on tap.”  Jubal held up his hand to signify the same.  We both looked as bored as possible.  The bartender gave us our drinks, then put them down in front of us.  This place’s beer wasn’t so bad.  I have had far, far worse.
“So, what brings you all here?  Haven’t seen any new faces here in a LONG time.”  He was looking us over, but wasn’t suspicious.  It was genuine interest.  New stories must be a valuable thing here.
I looked up at him, taking a drink.  “Actually, we just got in town.  We came here looking for work.  There’s nothing where we came from.  We were barely able to afford a ticket.”
The bartender nodded.  “Yeah, I hear that.  Things are alright in this town.  You all look young and spry.  You could probably find lots of work, either in the factories, odd-jobs, or…” He looked openly disturbed by this.  Easy to understand why.  “Or you could join the military.  But I wouldn’t recommend that.  This region’s Family commander is using this city as a front-line base in his war against another one.  Things have been getting ugly.  Most kids who join up with them are coming back dead or worse.”
I grimaced at this.  The very idea of being used in The Family’s latest proxy war made me sick.  “Yeah, thanks, I’ll stay out of that.  Say, you know where a guy could get some food.”  I leaned in a bit.  “Particularly meat?”
He looked over at this.  One had to be careful when talking about food that wasn’t being given out by the regional government.  Underground farming was becoming a huge commodity.  Without it, the people were starving.“I do know a place.  But if you barely had the money to get train tickets, how are you going to get food?”
I didn’t imply anything.  Kept it level.  “I’ll figure something out.  We have things we can barter with.  We came with some others, and there is a young one who needs food.  The rest of us can go without for a bit, but at least she needs some.”This got the bartender to soften.
“Yeah.  Alright, I do know a place.  In District 4, there is a place called ‘The Fragrance.’  It’s a perfume shop, but it also hides an entrance to the Underground.  You can get food there, along with other things.”  He took out a piece of paper, writing some things down.  “These are the questions they will ask.  Here are a list of answers to give.  That will let them know that you aren’t a cop.”
I smiled, taking the piece of paper.  “Thank you.  By the way, what’s your name?”
The bartender smiled back, holding out his hand.  “Name’s Bryce.”
“Thank you, Bryce.  For everything.”  We headed out of the bar, to go meet up with the others.

That’s life, here in our new Wonderland.

Fin.

Until next time, a quote,

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”  -Philip Pullman

Peace out,

Maverick

The Wolves: Part 2 – Life in Wonderland

For those of you who missed Part 1, head to the bottom of this post and click on the link “The Wolves.”  That will take you to it.  Here is Part 2 –

The pack was always careful.  We had to be.  The world is a dangerous place.  After World War III, so much of the Earth’s surface was completely devastated.  Wastelands of nuclear death were something that animal and Wolf alike had to avoid.  It made getting from place to place a lot harder.  One of the best ways that we got around was by snagging human transportation across the wasteland.  Which is where we found ourselves.

The pack was crouched down low, watching the tracks.  Savannah was in human form, using a pair of binoculars to eye the track further down.  Jubal was beside me.  The look of his inner tactician was glimmering in his eye.
“The train will be coming soon.  The weather is ugly, but it always kind of is.  Modern trains can take it.  They never miss a deadline.  When they are scheduled to leave, they do.”  Jubal had scouted this place out for several days.  He was sure he was right.  I wasn’t about to argue.
Sure enough, Savannah perked up.  “They’re coming!  Right on schedule!”  Everyone looked down the track.  In the distance, there were lights.  She was right.
I stood up, motioning for them to follow.  “Alright, let’s do this!”  I looked back at Maddie and Lizzy.  “Lizzy, you stay on Maddie’s back and hang on tight, okay?”
The little pup nodded, huddling next to her caretaker.  Maddie gently rubbed her head, picking her up and putting her on her back.  The pack took off, moving quickly and quietly down the rock face.  We were careful not to dislodge anything.  We didn’t want them to see us coming.  One could never be too careful.  Some of these trains either had armed guards, or armed escorts.  It was a by-product of The Family now controlling most of the world.  They didn’t trust each other, and there was constant in-fighting.  Not to mention the various bandit groups who scoured the wastes, and would jump on them.  But Wolves could run through the night and not be seen.  Their lights were looking ahead, not behind, which is how we had planned to infiltrate.

After reaching the bottom, we knew that there was no stopping.  Once our paws hit ground, we were off!  The pack ran with a practiced speed that we knew well.  We had done this dance before, and we knew what we were doing.  Our Hunters were the fastest, and they took the lead.  This was intentional.  If this train had escorts, or armed guards, we needed to know.  Also, if it had armed guards, the Hunters could throw them off.  Cheap and tasteless?  Maybe.  But it was efficient.  If there were escorts, we backed off.  So far, there didn’t look to be any.  This was a cargo train that was just for very domestic goods.  Not the kind that the military groups paid much mind to.
The Hunters had to have sharp eyes while moving fast.  It was a requisite, once in the wild and now in the modern world.  They motioned for us to move forward.  Something was off, though.  I looked on the train, and around the edge, I saw armed guards.  What?  Why were they saying we should go forward?  I didn’t have to wait long to find out.  From the side, artillery started to impact the train.  It was a raid!  Bandits.  I knew why they were saying we should move up.  Being out in the open was a bad idea right now.  Bandit vehicles came rushing at the train from the side, firing off rounds, trying to kill the guards.  Despite what you see in movies, real bandits are not idiots who just shoot at random.  Bullets are a hard commodity to come by these days.  You had to make each shot count.  They didn’t notice us.  In darkness like this, we truly were invisible.
I took the lead, wanting to help the rest of the pack get on-board.  Bullets and rockets were smashing into the train.  The guards ran over, taking aim and firing back.  This was going to get ugly.  The back of the train wasn’t covered, because they were coming at the train from the sides.  This was a two-pronged attack.  Rather clever.  I got right up beside the train and leapt on.  I remember a time when that was something that absolutely terrified me.  Now, it was par for the course.  Immediately, I turned to face behind me.  Two of the three Hunters came up.  They leapt on, needing no assistance from me.  They also turned back.  Jubal and Emily came up fast.  Mandy was taking up the rear, making sure that nobody got left behind.  Jubal fumbled with his jump on to the train, but Neal hauled him on.  Emily was with perfect grace as she got on, almost making me jealous.  Made the others jealous too.  Erin ran over, and she also stumbled a bit, but she caught her balance and got on without need of assistance.  Now it was Mandy and Maddie, with Lizzy on her back.  Lizzy looked scared.  Poor pup.  This was perilous, to say the least.  But Maddie showed no fear.
Suddenly, one of the rockets went off-course.  It smashed into the ground not far from where Maddie was.  She was sent vaulting into the air, landing hard, with Lizzy rolling off her back.  I immediately stood up and jumped off.  Mandy was about to turn and run, when I shouted for her to go.  I got this.  She wasn’t fast enough to catch back up to the train if she turned back now.  She was the slowest of the group.  What happened next was almost inspiring.  Maddie was instantly on her feet.  She ran over to where the pup was, picking her up with her mouth and placing her on her back again.  She took off like a speeding bullet!  As I said before, she was made to run.  Her body was a streamlined machine.  I came to a halt and doubled-back.  She didn’t need my help, and she knew it.  The two of us ran like nothing else.  One of the vehicles that was attacking the train saw us.  I locked eyes with the trigger-man on the side, but he bore us no ill will.  Actually, he motioned for the car to move forward quickly.  Did he know that there were more of us?  That was remarkably kind, for a human.
I notice that Maddie is about to pass me.  That’s fine.  I will take up the rear now, and make sure that everyone is okay.  She quickens her speed even more and when she gets to the train, jump on board without even slowing down.  It’s amazing!  The members of the pack are in awe.  I get to the train myself, but after having run as far as I have, my body is achingly tired.  The others have to help me on board.

We quickly move forward, into one of the cars.  Sure enough, nothing but cargo.  Mostly food.  That’s a boon.  Though we also realize why the bandits are attacking.  Food is a precious commodity these days, and harder and harder to come by.
We gather around Lizzy, who Maddie lays down on the floor.  Everyone is worried.  Mandy steps forward.  She is not only my mate, but also something of a healer.  She inspects the pup from nose to tail, and looks at us.
“She has some cuts, but she will be alright.”  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  I swear that Maddie would be crying, if Wolves could.  She picks up her charge and carries her over to one of the boxes.  The rest of us get close by.  I get on top of the stacks of boxes, so we can keep a weather-eye peeled for any guards who might enter.  But I am noticing that the shooting outside is growing less and less.  But the sound of vehicles closing in is still there.  In fact, it’s getting closer.  They are right next to the train.  The rest of the group is breathing hard as they rest.  There is the sound of footsteps.  Me and the Hunters look up, ready to pounce.  The door to the car opens, and in come several bandits.  They see us, and one raises his weapon.  We stand up fast, but another grabs the barrel of the bandit’s gun and lowers it.  He holds up his hands in submission.  He knows what we are.
“We mean you no harm, Wolves.  We’re just here for some of the food.  Please, let us take what we need, and we’ll be on our way.”  The rest of the bandits look shocked.  Rumor had persisted for many years that the Wolves were dead, or at least there were few left.  The man who spoke was older, and looked on us with reverence.  We looked at each other for a few seconds, and I nodded.
“Take what you need, human, then be on your way.”
He nodded back, smiling.  “I’ve never seen this many.  A pack this big, it’s beautiful!”  I could tell that the rest of the group was flattered by the hero-worship that he seemed to have.  This was a man of the old ways.  One who still respected us Wolves.  Such was a rare thing.  Being a man of his word, the bandit leader quickly got his people to work.  They opened boxes, looking for certain items.  It was like a shopping list back in the old times of humanity.  They knew exactly what they needed, and they didn’t have enough room to carry more.  They had no choice but to be exact.  As they were loading up goods, one bandit, a younger female, came over.  She took off her mask that was covering her face and smile.
“You are Wolves, right?” she asked.  Many of us nodded.  “That’s so cool!”  She saw Lizzy, resting up against Maddie and her looked softened.  “Awww, that’s so cute!  A pup!”  She noticed the splotches of red on her fur.  She got worried.  “What happened there?!”
Maddie looked up, annoyed.  “One of your rockets impacted right by us.”
The girl looked up in shock.  Her expression quickly changed, until it looked like she was about to cry.  “I’m so sorry.  We didn’t mean to…”
I believed her.  These bandits were not just thugs.  They were just trying to survive.  Were we so different?  “It’s alright, human.  You did nothing wrong.”  The others looked up at me, but I could tell that they mostly agreed.  This was just the way of the world.  She walked over, and Maddie let her pet the pup on the head.  The girl smiled, and nodded, as the bandit leader recalled the team.  As they were leaving, he turned to us.
“Thank you.”  There was a brief pause as he and I met eyes again.  “I’m sorry, for what my people have done to yours.”
I nodded at him.  “Thank you.  Be safe.”
“You too.”  With that, he closed the car door, and their vehicles could be heard retreating.  It was a pretty safe assumption that all the guards were dead.  That’s another thing about these bandits – they were not just petty murderers.  A lot like us, nobody wants to have to kill people.  It’s just the world we live in.  You can bet that a fair number of them probably died as well.  That’s how ugly it all is.  We get some rest as the train continues on its way to its destination.  It is going to be a long trip.  If only I had some idea where.

Fin.

I am going to be away for a while, so I don’t know when a continuation of Part 2 will be up.  I hope you enjoy.  This series is going to go on for a while, so hopefully you can get into it.  Remember, if you are unsure if there is a new post, head to the bottom and click “The Wolves” link.  That will take you to all posts in this series.

Until next time, a quote,

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  -Robert Frost

Peace out,

Maverick

The Westboro Baptist Church is Going to Picket the Funerals after School Shooting

You know, there comes a time in everybody’s life where you have to question your own assumptions.  Where you have to wonder if there is a line between what you believe in theory, and how it works in practice.  See, I am of the belief that free speech should be unlimited.  I believe that in a nation where you have that, there should be unlimited ability to use it.  It is why I have always defended people who do the most reprehensible things, like whenever Pat Robertson says something really fucking stupid.  I will mock what he says to death, but if you told me that you wanted to take away his ability to say it, I would get on you like stink on cheese.  It’s his right to say it, and that is where the line ends, for me.

But then I see shit like this.  See, after the school shooting in Connecticut, it seems that the Westboro Baptist Church has decided to pack up their shit and go all the way there and picket the funerals of the children and adults who were killed in this tragedy.  Apparently, according to woman-Phelps, they are praising “God’s Judgment.”  Man, fuck you people!  You are scum!

For real, the Westboro Baptist Church members are the worst people currently on the face of that planet.  It can’t be argued that these people are attention whores.  They are in this solely to get attention, but at the same time, there is no level that these pathetic pieces of shit won’t stoop to.  It doesn’t matter how high you stack the bodies.  It doesn’t matter how much blood is in the air.  It does not matter how much pain there is.  These people will exploit anything.  Anything at all to make their stupid-ass bigotry a national event.  These people are nothing more than tapeworms that exist in the human consciousness.  They are the disease in the bowels of our discourse.  Not one of them is a decent human being.

But here is the dilemma I face – this event is so awful, and they plan to picket it.  I want the people who are attending these funerals to beat the ever-loving shit out of them, and make them all dead.  But then there’s that pesky First Amendment.  The idea that freedom of expression that has been the source of the greatest victories of this country.  I want these people banned from the premise, but they have the right to do this dumb shit.  It’s an ugly dichotomy that I never thought I’d have to face for the bulk of my life.

Idealism is all well and good, but in practice, you then have to deal with people like this.  Evil people.  Fuck.

Until next time, a quote,

“May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.”  -George Carlin

Peace out,

Maverick