Lucien’s Review: La Cambiale di Matrimonio (The Marriage Contract)

The Marriage ContractWell, another comedic opera review.  I’m now convinced that I prefer comedic ones to dramatic.  In dramatic operas, it always ends with either everyone or a fair chunk of people dead or in bad shape.  The formula is strong, at times, but predictable.  With comedic opera, you don’t have that problem.  The plot can go all over the place!  This was quite the show, brief as it was.  While we are still not some big opera expert who is able to give you a hardcore breakdown, I will give you my thoughts.  As with the Pirates of Penzance review I did, we shall follow the same format.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?  Let’s get started.

Since this opera was a single-act performance, the plot isn’t especially complicated.  An Italian wealthy man named Tobias Mill has made a contract with an American wealthy man named Slook.  The contract would have his daughter, Fanny, marry him.  However, Fanny already has a man who she is in love with, Edoardo.  Thus begins a three-way effort for people to get what they want, which is hilarious.

Alright, first, let’s talk about the problems we had.  As with Pirates of Penzance, it will be short.  The firs was, again, the announcer.  The guy went on for far too long about the accolades, thanks and opportunities for the future, making very sure to make us all feel like we are the heroes of the story.  Having just finished a class on running a non-profit organization, we get why he is doing it.  You want your donors to feel important, along with the audience who is paying to see your work.  But at the same time, dude, we are behind you.  You don’t have to make a big deal out of it.  We are there because we support you and you can shorten the accolades part down.

The other thing that got to me, and this is me being totally nit-picky, was Edoardo’s outfit.  A plaid suit does nothing for us.  For real, it just bugs us.  Yes, we get how anal that makes us sound, but so be it.  His part was good and we have no issue with the character outside of his outfit.

Now, on to the good stuff, of which there was a lot.  First, the set designs were very quaint.  As was the place they were performing, at Alaska Pacific University’s Grant Hall.  It was a very homey place.  As was the set.  It looked very much like a home, with a black cloth being used to hide the orchestra behind it.  A clever trick that made for a seamless blending of elements, since there was no orchestra pit.

Then there was the outfit designs.  The plaid suit aside, these were very classy looks.  It was very reminiscent of the 1920’s, which was what they were shooting for.  The butler’s attire was classy and fit the bill perfectly.  Fanny looked just like a woman at that time.  They weren’t especially complicated, but it was definitely nice to see.

Then there is the orchestral music.  Unlike a typical opera, there wasn’t a very large ensemble in this group.  It worked very well and they played up both the funny recitatives and dramatic arias.  It may not have been complicated, but they were very useful when they needed to be.

But, like any opera, it all comes down to the spoken music.  Man was that good!  While everyone in the cast was great, there were a couple of roles that stood out to me.  The first was the American, Slook, played by Michael Smith.  There was something so winsome about the guy.  He had this arrogant charm that was so much fun to listen to.  The next person was the one who played Tobias Mill, Kyle Gantz.  Oh my god did he own this role!  From the over-the-top facial expressions to the way he emphasized where he needed to, it is definitely worth giving a shout-out to.  Since he was so central to all the conflicts of the opera, his character had to be given the best performance, which he did.

Another role that we want to talk about is a silent one.  There was a servant who never spoke or sang, yet every time he was on-stage was hilarious!  Silent background comedy is an under-appreciate art and it was all over this performance.  I have no idea who this guy was, but bravo, sir.  You made something that hasn’t been genuinely used in a long time and got us to laugh a great deal.  It was like Bob in Tim Burton’s Batman.  He was hardly ever around, but every time he was, it was fun to watch.  Same here.

Overall, this was an excellent show.  Getting to have fun like that is rare and we are very glad that we were invited to see the show.  And now we get to the Final Verdict.  Given how much fun this was, we are a little torn on what rating to give it.  It was close, but have settled on a rating for The Marriage Contract.  If you haven’t been able to see it live, we definitely recommend it.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Gun Nuts are Insane

So, I just got to see something interesting – an interview with Ted Nugent, the resident Loony Tune here in America.  Of course, his arguments were vapid and stupid, but there was also a lovely mix of insane in there as well.  As a referendum to gun nuts overall, this interview was telling.

See, the atypical gun nut argument boils down to one of a couple of things.  The first is –

Constitution says that I can have my gun!  So I have a right to have it with me anywhere, anytime!

Yeah, do these people realize that the Constitution was written in the days of the musket?  For real, if you take this argument to its conclusion, then they should be able to wander around the streets with an RPG launcher or a flamethrower or an AK-47.  Hey, we can turn our streets into Sierra Leone!  The rich are already trying to do that to the entire country, why not help them along?

But back to the argument, if a person is allowed to have any weapon they want with them at any time, then they should be able to drive a tank down the street or own and H-bomb, if they can afford it.  I put this to the people who are rational – do you want Johnny Drunk-Ass driving down your city streets with a loaded tank?  Do you want him around your children?  I didn’t think so.

The other argument to this position is –

I got a right to protect my family, and Obama and his socialists are going to take my gun from my cold, dead fingers.

It kills me how many of these people think that they pose a legitimate threat to the government and its forces.  If the government really wanted to takes your guns, they could.  Easily.  Because your dumb ass with a shotgun and a bottle of whiskey isn’t going to stop a drone from blasting your house or a tank from breaking down your front door.  This idea that there is going to be some big revolution against the government amuses me.  Any modern revolution, given the advanced hardware that the military has, would be dead on arrival.  It would be bloody and the gun nuts would have their moment of glory before they get blasted with big-ass artillery.  Look at what happened in Waco and tell me I’m wrong.

Next, do these people actually believe that a person who breaks into their home or puts a gun on them to take their car is actually going to politely wait while they reach for their gun?  No, they’ll kill you and probably your family too, since you got them involved.  These people live in this delusional world where they are the star of their own action flick, killing people left and right.  Too bad that real life is WAY more complicated.  Entire books have been written on that very subject, and how people like Ted Nugent don’t get shit about the real world.  In real life, the idea that violence stop violence is ridiculous in every conceivable way.  We have to think bigger than that.  The alternative is that we have Ted Nugent doing crazy shit.  Let’s not go there.

Another interesting argument that Nugent was going on and on about was how people with guns can stop crimes.  So, he basically wants to turn America into the wild west, with vigilante justice left and right.  Again, too bad that real life is more complicated.  It makes one wonder if Ted Nugent is aware of how nuts he is.  After all, this is the same guy who said that if Obama got reelected, he would be either dead or in jail, implying that he would be attempting to kill him.

In the end, though, all of Nugent’s credibility boiled down to one statement and the reality behind it.

Instead of arresting people for molesting 24 times, I would rather the dad walked into the room, found the person molesting that child and blew his brains out.

This, coming from the same guy who was having sex with a 14 year old girl.  Unreal.

Until next time, a quote,

“Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is?  Insanity is doing the exact same fucking thing over and over again expecting shit to change.  That is crazy.”  -Vaas Montenegro, Far Cry 3

Peace out,

Maverick

#DrinkAndDriveForBieber = Are You F*cking Kidding Me?!

There are so many days when I hate how stupid this country is.  So many days.  Like today, for example.  Of all the stupid shit that trends on Twitter, none is so stupid as something that started as a joke and has become a hell of more than that, thanks to the endless stupidity that is teenage girls in the US of A.  After all, if it’s stupidity and it’s dangerous, it has to be America and it’s stupid-ass youth, right?

As I said, this originally started as a joke.  Someone decided to troll around and see what they could accomplish with a hashtag so insane that nobody would think it’s real.  Right?  Actually, wrong.  Here are a few examples of the tweets that have been floating around from dumb-shit girls and their inability to use their unused brains for more than five seconds.

#DrinkAndDriveForBieber becuz we will always luv him!!! every1 makes mistakes!!! stay strong Justin #iBelieb

Can I buy a vowel?

#DrinkAndDriveForBieber COME ON GUYS! THEY CAN’T GIVE US ALL DUI’S!

Uh, actually, they can!  And if you hit somebody with your vehicle, as dumb-shit Bieber could very well done, then you could be charged with manslaughter!  That’s a felony, by the way.  Tell me, ladies, you like the idea of spending time in jail?  Just sayin’.

A YouTube vlogger I enjoy came across a bunch of other tweets from Justin’s brainless fangirls.

Roses are red ❤
Violets are blue
Insult justin, and u will kill you
@justinbieber #projectmakejustinsmile #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin

Like you have the balls to spill blood, you pathetic little worm.  What an empty threat.  It’s telling when you can’t even use the right vowel in your tweet to how dangerous you really are.

@BiebsGasm Have you seen this?  it’s an outrage!!! #starvingbelieber

This was in response to his tweet about how he wasn’t given food during his interrogation (oh, the poor baby, having to not be catered to by others after he commits a felony.  Poor thing).  She’s apparently starving herself in solidarity.  And we wonder where eating disorders come from.

Real fans will suffer with you ❤
#StarvingBelieber

Yeah, he was REALLY suffering.  It was just like Gandhi for Justin!  Can’t you feel his pain!  The poor thing!  Oh, the tragedy of Justin being denied food during his interrogation.  So awful.

I AM A TRUE FAN. #starvingbelieber
#WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin

And your anorexia thanks you.

Help out Justin!!
#starvingbelieber

Yes, because starving yourselves will make you closer to him.  It’s unreal.  The picture that accompanied this post had these two tweeny girls who are smiling, which is just sick, in my book, since it implies that starving yourself is a good thing.  Again, your anorexia thanks you.

Listen up beliebers. we can’t let what happened go unpunished
#starvingbelieber

Wow, sounds like this bitch is going to be starting a revolution!  Because him getting drunk and drag racing, potentially killing or maiming people is just so innocent, right?  If stupidity was a sport, America would have such a leg-up.

I’m a Belieber && I don’t give a f*%k what you have to say about it!! #WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin

Well, at least she has pride in how dumb she is.  She’s not the only one.

@justinbieber You are a blessing to US, stay strong, brave, and positive. WeWillAlwaysSupportYouJustin This if Forever love you always.

And I’m sure that he will SO return your affection.  I swear, it’s like these bitches think he’s going to be in a prison where he will get gang-raped.  Didn’t you watch the coverage about Ethan Couch, a little rich boy who killed four people while driving drunk?  Rich people don’t go to jail, they go to “rehab.”

But the creme-de-la-creme of these posts was this –

#DrinkAndDriveForBieber ! i will be doing this in honor of my boo! he deserves everything and NOT jail he is a child of god

Un-fucking-real.  The username of this post is @briitilton, and she has got to be one of the dumbest people on the face of the planet.  This is fucking insane!  For real, this statement is absolutely insane.  She is drinking and driving for a man who is in jail, who she regards as her “boo,” and believes that risking her life for is a good idea.  It’s statements like this, and the tie-in of religion that make me think that religion is a mental disorder.  Look at the loyalty that it implies!

And almost every religion has been afflicted from that loyalty.  Christians have done all sorts of insane shit for God.  Just recently, there was a story about people in South Africa eating grass for Jesus.  That’s pretty fucking nuts.  Islam has a laundry-list of psycho shit that it has done.  Mormonism is a bigoted religion that hates women and gays.  Jehovah’s Witnesses are no better.  Scientology made my side hurt from laughing too hard.  They all are that way.  Justin Bieber, the worthless and washed-up singer is just another symbol of the insane shit that people with this kind of fervent belief was willing to do.  This is what they are like.  This is the stuff they are willing to do for their beliefs.  Mind-boggling levels of insanity and stupidity.

If it weren’t for the fact that them doing this risks other people’s lives, I wouldn’t feel the least bit bad if these girls got into accidents and brutalized themselves.  But it is risking the public’s lives, and that is just wrong.  We’ve had YOLO, we’ve had parkour showing-off, now we have this.  And the worst part is that when these girls grow the fuck up and have real relationships and real responsibilities, if they are maimed in some horrific way, I wonder what they will think of themselves and how much they loved Justin Bieber.  After all, he would totally come visit you in a wheelchair when you’re a quadriplegic, right?

But at the end of the day, all of this proves something I have believed since I first saw Twitter – if you only have 140 characters to say something, it probably wasn’t worth saying anyway.  No smart thought is that simple, aside from – leave Twitter, nobody ever looks smarter on here.

Until next time, a quote,

“So, they interrupt this Congresswoman, talking about the NSA, to talk about Justin fucking Bieber’s arraignment, and the whole time I’m thinking – he looks just like Vanilla Ice!”  -Lucien Maverick

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus

Ratchet and Clank Into the NexusAfter how bad the All 4 One was everyone assumed that this franchise was dead.  I can’t blame them.  However, the game series that I loved on the PS2 is back!  It has redeemed itself in a very substantial way.  This game is a breath of fresh air to the franchise, which was sorely needed.  It felt like being younger again, seeing them try new things.  Some of them don’t work, but their mission to do new stuff is admirable.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Let’s look at the plot.

Ratchet and Clank are transporting one of the most dangerous criminals, Vendra Prog, to a special prison.  All does not go as planned, however, when her brother comes to spring her from the ship.  The shit hits the fan when her brother comes to spring her from jail, trying to accomplish and unknown purpose.  Now, it’s up to Ratchet and Clank to set things right before they are able to unleash a terrible evil upon the galaxy.

The first thing to talk about is the gameplay.  Much like its predecessors, it is a third-person shooter, with you wielding a large assortment of various weapons.  You gain weapons by spending bolts and can upgrade them with crystals.  Some of the weapons you get are hilariously odd, such as the Winterizer, which plays Christmas carols while it turns enemies into snowmen.  You also win a jetpack, which is probably the most useful thing in the game.  It makes for some REALLY cool fighting segments with floating bosses and has a large adrenaline rush associated with it.

This is a fast-paced game, with the combat happening fast and you having to make decisions on the fly about how you will approach a combat scenario.  Since you have an extensive arsenal, your choices are many, which is good, because your enemies get strong, fast.  You can also use your other toys in ways you don’t expect.  This is a game that has a lot of options, which is good, because experimenting is so much fun.  There are also a lot of neat little puzzles.  While not especially taxing, they are a nice little brain-tease that are fun.  This game tries a lot of ideas out, and for just long enough so that they aren’t boring.  It seems to know how long to try a new things before moving on to a different thing.

The characters in the game are fun.  There is a lot of really good humor, and it is always at just the right time.  The timing in this game is great.  The villain is enjoyably over-the-top.  Ratchet and Clank are a nice little bromance, with them playing insults off each other at just the right moment.  Clank’s worry-wart attitude and Ratchet’s devil-may-care approach work well and makes the experience more enjoyable.  The thugs that accompany the villains get a lot of good laughs at their incompetence.  There are evil little videos you come across that play as commercials that you can’t help but smile at.  The plot may be serious, but it isn’t so much that the humor feels out of place.  If anything, the contrast is kind of nice.

The last thing to mention are the visuals.  In short, they’re great.  While some areas shine more than others, when this game is looking for the wow factor, they get it.  In spades.  There are several planets, much in the vein of the Metroid Prime series.  Each one has a different look and tone.  The character animations are cartoon-y and very expressive.  The voice acting is good, for what the game is.

This is the entry into this franchise that we have waited a long time for.  It’s been a while since we played this kind of 3D platformer, and it works well.  Is it a great game?  No, but it doesn’t aspire to be.  This game is just having fun with what it is – a platformer that is more than a little ridiculous.  I wouldn’t have expected anything else.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Boston Legal Episodes

Boston LegalIn the realm of shows from my younger years that I still remember fondly, there is Boston Legal.  A spin-off of the show The Practice, this one followed the continuing career of the popular character, Alan Shore.  He went to work at the very large firm Crane, Poole and Schmidt.  It was a very funny and very smart show that looked at the various issues of the day in a legal way, while still examining things critically.  Since you can see in the bar above that I have done a character analysis of Alan Shore, you can imagine that the bulk of my favorite episodes are about him primarily, but it was a great show with lots of the characters.  Here’s hoping you enjoyed it too.

10. Smile
Season 2
This was an episode that felt very person to me, given how I am a guarded person, emotionally.  An old friend of Alan’s comes in, asking him to help her very artistically gifted daughter get into a school for exemplary children.  They have denied her because she was injured and suffered nerve damage in her face, making it impossible for her to smile.  The conversations with her, along with her unique perspective made the episode very warm and fuzzy.  Plus, seeing how she shows her appreciation to Alan for his help is just so happy-making.  It’s feel-good and not as funny as other episodes.  It’s all about the fuzzies.

9. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Season 2
I loved the episodes with Betty White in them.  She has a gift at being this warm-hearted but very smarmy smartass who can bring a lot of charm to the role.  This episode had her trying to break a friend of hers out of an old-folk’s home, because her friend’s life was being held hostage by a cruel and evil man who had her as a “ward.”  She goes to Alan, who she had a repore with and gets him to help her stop the man.  In addition to being a fun episode with Betty White in it, there was also a REALLY good demonstration of Alan’s darker side, when he finally is able to stop the man from totally destroying the old woman’s life and selling it.  For real, he was such a boss in how he does it that you can’t help but be impressed.  Oh, and there is this charming sub-plot with Shirley trying to help a man getting a divorce keep his Victorian Erotica collection.  That part is funny.

8. Helping Hands
Season 2
A character who I wished had been a larger one in the series was Daniel Post, played by Michael J. Fox.  In this episode, he second chairs a case with Denise, defending a teacher from malicious parents who are suing her for what they believe was negligence that led to their child’s death.  Daniel’s work as a lawyer showed that he had the chops for this kind of show, and it’s a pity that his role was so brief.  I get why, given what kind of character it was, but still.  Kind of wish he could have been on longer.  There was also the case Alan was doing, defending a colleague and friend, Jerry Espenson, against his own firm.  How that subplot ends is actually pretty interesting, showing a lot about several characters.

7. Legal Deficits
Season 2
One of my favorite adversarial characters in anything was Melvin Palmer, who debuted in this episode.  His unending battle with Alan Shore is so funny, given how Palmer is a man who has a very big display if being down-home and folksy, but it’s all a front.  Underneath it all, he is an amoral man who doesn’t care about anything.  It’s all for show.  And Alan hates his guts.  He makes a comparison between him and one of those clown dolls that you hit and it comes back up.  In this episode, Alan’s assistant, Melissa, is $50,000 in debt.  Palmer is representing to credit card company who is her debtor.  How Alan attacks Palmer is just awesome.  I’m with Melissa in saying that it is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.  Plus, it starts off their little war, which is so much fun to watch.

6. Son of the Defender
Season 3
This episode combined some REALLY old footage of a show that William Shatner had almost been in, with him as a lawyer when he was much younger.  It comes back in this episode, when Denny and several other people in the firm are taken hostage by a man who believes that the man who was charged but acquitted for murdering his mother was guilty.  So, they replay the case, with several hostages acting as the jury.  It is an interesting look into Denny’s psyche as he is facing down the demons of his past.  You also learn about the turbulent relationship he had with his father and how that shaped him as a lawyer.  Meanwhile, Alan is in jail after being held in contempt, when defending a prostitute he knows and the senator she was with.  That part is funny.

5. No Brains Left Behind
Season 4
Another character who was woefully under-used in the show was Shirley Schmidt’s grandaughter, Marlena.  Another smary smartass who is fun to watch, the kid gets into trouble when she takes the standardized tests that her classmates were given, shreds them and throws the confetti all over the Principle’s office.  Shirley defends her, and watching the kid beat the hell out of everyone there with her wit and intellect is just great.  Granted, She annoys the hell out of Shirley, but it is so fun to watch.  Later, she is assisting Alan and Denny in their mission to join the military.  I was kind of hoping that the kid would become something of a protegee to Alan, which would have worked, considering his revelation that he only saw women as sexual objects.  It would have given him a new perspective and a new experience.  Still, awesome episode and it was far too brief.

4. Brotherly Love
Season 3
Another character who I thought was so fun and wished there had been more of him was Frankie Cox.  A completely unethical and very chipper lawyer who has been arrested for helping his brother hide evidence after his brother murdered his wife.  He goes to Alan for defense, coming off as a oddball attorney who wasn’t above doing bad stuff to get the job done.  Despite being kind of a scuzzy guy, there was something so likeable.  And seeing the testimony he gave about his brother was just so heart-warming.  Sure, he did a bad thing, but his motives were pure.  It’s a pity we never got to see him again, but he was fun while we could.

3. Trial of the Century
Season 3
As season finales go, this one was great!  Alan and Denny team up to defend a pair of brothers who are accused of killing their father.  This is another episode where Denny’s mental health is called into play, but he is awesome.  The thing that shines in this case is the legal work.  The back-and-forth between these two legal titans and how they play off one-another is just awesome!  And when the case isn’t looking good, the way that they are able to resolve the situation is incredible!  It’s an old trick, but damn it all, in the right hands, it works brilliantly.  It’s both feel-good and compelling to watch.  Everything that it is supposed to be.

2. The Bride Wore Blood
Season 3
An aspect of Alan Shore that this show didn’t go into the same way its predecessor did was his dark side.  There were a few episodes where it was on display in a large way, but rarely do you get to see it in all it’s glory.  In this episode, and old lover of Alan’s comes running to him in a courthouse in a wedding dress, asking for his council.  The catch is – it’s covered in blood.  She’s being arrested for murder, with Alan as her council.  The case starts to unravel a dark story about his client, which has Alan confronting his own darkness in one of the most awesome climaxes in the entire show.  For real, I could watch the scene where he interrogates her about the entire story again and again.  It also confronts Alan’s desire to do the right thing, whatever the cost.  It’s intense and profound.  Something this show had the talent to do in spades, when it wanted to.

And my favorite episode of Boston Legal is…

1. True Love
Season 5
There are few episodes of the show that were genuinely depressing.  This was one of them.  In this episode, a plot about Alan and an old flame of his comes to a close.  The woman’s husband is arrested for murder and she comes to him to defend him.  The husband is clearly a foul human being, which leaves Alan in the position of wanting to lose the case, but being unable to, due to his own sense of integrity.  However, all is not as it seems.  The episode culminates in one of the most dark and painful revelations, when Alan finds out that he was used, in a horrific way.  You can see it hurts him, leaving him to believe that love will never find him again.  I felt for him at the end of this episode.  As brief as the last season was, it had some emotionally deep moments to leave us on, even if we wonder whatever became of the people who left the firm.

This was an underrated show that didn’t get much love, but it was and still is one of my favorites.

Until next time, a quote,

“Here’s the thing about me – I am a hoot.  But I insist on putting adversary back into the system.  And I do it openly and notoriously for all to hear.”  -Alan Shore, Boston Legal

Peace out,

Maverick

High School: Academic Years in Review

Someone asked me today what my worst memory in high school was, and it got me to thinking.  Instead of talking about it in a simple way, I decided to come on this forum and talk about it in a more broad way, so that you all can understand just how much I am so blasé about the entire experience.

The reality is that not much of my major change in life happened in high school.  Part of that is due to where I was, personally, leading into it.  The other part was that it was much the same as middle school, which didn’t impress me much.

Kowloon Walled CitySee, I wasn’t in high school the first year that I was supposed to be there.  Instead, I was at home, following a head injury that really fucked up my body.  I got through my freshman year in an online program, returning to high school the next year.  The first year was a painful hell that I still have bad memories about.  It still rubs me the wrong way.  I’ll skip over that, because it isn’t something I want to talk about especially much.

I finally arrived my sophomore year, and it wasn’t much of a reunion.  I got to see people I hadn’t seen in years.  There was one person I was hoping to see – my oldest friend.  She was a year ahead of me, so I reasoned that she would be there.  She hadn’t seen me after my head injury, and I assumed that there was a good reason.  Alas, she wasn’t there.  She was nowhere to be found.  That was a little bummed-making.  I got to experience high school life in person, and dear god was I bored.

High school is one of the worst things ever.  The schedules are rigid, the education is broken and you are given no leeway to find your own conclusions or think for yourself.  You have to think the way they want you to think.  It sucks.  With the status quo of making people into drones, it amazes me when I see actual intelligent youth come out of those dumps.  The mind-numbing boredom was almost intolerable.  The parentals said I should just drop out and get a GED, and there are days when I think that they might have had a point.  I could have easily gotten into college with it, given how intelligent I am.

Back to my school year, I did figure something out about myself – that I am bisexual.  There was this guy named Joe.  He was just so…cool.  So himself and didn’t care what people thought.  A popular guy, I hung out with him as often as I could.  Over time, I found myself drawn to him.  There is nobody like him, that I can see in my own demographic In Darkness Light(guy-types).  But he had a girlfriend, and they were happy and in love.  I meant to tell him how I felt, on the last day, but I never got a chance to speak to him.  Oh well.  It’s funny – for all the people that I have been into who I have lost or who no longer are friends, he is the only one I have thought little about.  Maybe I just accepted that it wasn’t meant to be.  Or maybe I just moved on.  Wish I could with others.  But enough of that.

Anyway, my junior year rolls around.  This year actually did see a major part of my personality come forth.  One I work every day to keep from the light.  A part of me that does give me pause and worry, should it ever totally take control.  See, I met someone I liked.  Her name was Rachel.  She was like no one else I had met, before or since.  A child of nature, she was free.  Free in every sense of the word.  She thought for herself, didn’t care about anyone else’s standards.  Took damn-good care of herself, so she could live life to the fullest.  I admired her, developed a crush on her and eventually fell for her, once we started getting close.  But there was one problem – she was involved.  What’s more, it was someone I knew from a long time ago.  This is where the dark part of myself came out.  I wanted her, my other half, my dark passenger, wanted her more.  So, we put our intellect and ability to read people to work.  We found little cracks in her relationship with him and exploited them.  Drove wedges of doubt into them.  Soon, we had the desired reaction, as their relationship fell apart.  What we didn’t notice at the time was how much our actions were hurting both of them.  We were getting what we wanted. Then, one day, we came to what we acknowledge was the point when we lost our chance with her.  It was on a stairwell one day.  I was in a hurry, so I just said hi.  But in her eyes, I could see – she was wanting to talk, in a more serious way.  If only I had recognized that.  Maybe…never mind.

FreebirdI found out, after Christmas break, that she was gone.  Disappeared, like a puff of smoke.  I would find out years later that she had her ex-boyfriend’s child, but he doesn’t know.  She vanished to the States.  When we saw the debris field of misery we left in our wake, since she had a mental breakdown following what happened, and he was forever burned, it got to us.  We saw something in ourselves, a darkness that was both powerful and enticing.  Our manipulation of her was perfect.  Flawless.  I could do it again.  I want to.  But I won’t.  I won’t let myself become that person again.  If I did, then everything I have done to be a good man is wasted.  Then, I am truly alone.

Senior year rolls around, and we had another person getting close to us.  This was when the chronic depression that I live with every day was manifesting in a more serious way.  This woman’s name was Camille.  She was like us – depressing, smart and quirky.  The two of us fed each other’s misery, but it was nice.  Both of us were happy.  We were enjoying the company of someone who understood.  She and I would eventually become a couple.  I’ve already told that story.

Aside from that, there was little to make note of, senior year.  It was quiet.  I was ahead, credit-wise, so I was able to not take a couple class that year.  I did boring stuff that I thought would be fun.  It…wasn’t.  So much boredom.

Graduation rolled around, and I didn’t want to go.  I was suckered into it by the parentals, who said that my remaining grandparent would be going.  And then she didn’t!  Annoying.  A three hour ceremony that had Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker.  It never ended.  It felt like it went on forever.  To this day, I hate thinking about that ceremony.  It’s the reason that I am not going to any ceremony here, once I am done with college.  Fuck it!

I took little away from high school.  It was that dull.  What happened before and afterwards will scar and shape me forever, but at that point, it really was just that dull.

Until next time, a quote,

“Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts. Some of you like Pep rallies and plastic robots who tell you what to read.”  -Frank Zappa

Peace out,

Maverick

The Investigation (Part Two)

Delia DeGrassi was one of the first women to be universally regarded as a powerful and genuinely humane individual.  Being the new CEO of a Fortune 500 company gave her a lot of free reign to make things better.  At 56, she was one of the most publicly active business officials in the world.  Her charity work and contribution, along with extensive donations to public schools in New York and lobbying against the corruption-ridden testing-based education system that still dominated America, gave her an image as a pro-education and pro-public figure.  This was not by accident.  Her PR people were very clear about this.
DeGrassi herself hadn’t come from money.  This fact alone was alarming.  She had a brilliant mind and was not above slitting the figurative throats of her comrades to get ahead.  After graduating from MIT, she had entered this company and fought hard to get where she was.  For the first time, she felt safe in her employment.  Her company was making money and she was living the kind of life she had always dreamed.
As she was waiting for her car to arrive, something felt off.  People were starting to look at her.  Lots of people.  Cell phones were buzzing and ringing, like everyone was getting a message at the same time.  That got her attention.  In an instant, her heart stopped.  Her phone started to buzz as well.  She grabbed it fast, with a message on display.  She opened it and felt her heart stop.  Her past was catching up with her.
There was video footage of her when she was younger.  Back then, she and her 14 year old daughter had been involved in a mother-and-daughter escort business.  It was something that she had worked so hard to get away from.  Something that she had prayed to God for years for forgiveness for doing.  For a time, it looked like that her prayers might have been answered.  Now, The Watcher had taken her past and was airing it out to everyone nearby.  There was anger.  Screens around them started to light up.  It showed the video footage, with the ad she had beside it.  The two of them, naked.  Delia started to cry.  If she was a target of The Watcher, she knew what was going to happen.  The same thing that happened to everyone who the person went after.
As the tears rolled down her face, she looked at her phone.

Answer for your Sins.

The detail assembled after the call went out.  Another murder.  This one done with a handgun.  This time, it was a cop.  There was a growing part of the police force that viewed The Watcher as a hero, someone who was on their side and should be recognized for that.
Bradley was waiting for them all.
“Ah, everyone.  I’d like to make it known that you are to leave your cell phones here on the table when you arrive.  I hate the buzzing of a phone interrupting.  If you have anyone you need to talk to, do so now.  Alright?”
Few thought that it was strange, except for Wolfe.  So, he’s already suspecting a cop.  I’m not surprised.  Not with as good as he is.  No doubt he’ll have someone checking the phones while we are working.  No worries.  They won’t find anything.
Everyone did as bidden, walking into the other room and sitting at the various chairs.
The blonde agent pulled out a folder.  “Hey boss, I had me a thought about the killing of the priest and the Senator.”
That got people’s attention.
“I don’t think that the Senator was the express target.”
Bradley cocked an eyebrow.  “How can you be sure?”
Wolfe chimed in, “I think she’s right!  I was about to say the same.  Something about the lack of visuals with the Senator in them got us to thinking – the priest was the intended target.”
The blonde smiled at her.  It was a warm and pleased smile.
Bradley looked intrigued.  “Alright, then what was with the fact that he was in there at all?”
The agent took over.  “I think it was to see what would happen.  The Watcher is still new to this.  Whoever it is, they are testing the limits of their influence over the people.”
Deacon looked up.  “If that’s the case, then they must have gotten one hell of a demonstration of how much power they have.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a public so quick to kill.  It was mind-boggling.”
“Indeed,” Bradley agreed.  “their influence is growing.  Even some of the police are throwing in with The Watcher.”
“Something I do not fucking get, with all due,” the foul-mouthed detective, Jenkins, groaned.  “We are supposed to represent law and order in the world.  How can we even begin to claim that if we are throwing in with psychos like this?”
The older detective, Green, looked out the window.  “Because we suck.  We spend so much time going after bullshit crimes and on the payroll of whoever can supplement our shitty-ass wages that it’s hard not to think that the system is broken.  And it is.  The Watcher is just the inevitable answer to years and years of a broken and corrupt system.  I’m not saying that that’s good, but maybe we should have seen this coming.”
Bradley shook his head.  “No point questioning the what-ifs now.  We have a job to do.  We have to catch The Watcher, and that’s all there is too it.  Once we catch the big fish, the little ones will swim away.  Trust me.”
There was agreement around the room at that.
“Alright, we’ve got a new murder today.  This time it was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  Again.  Amazing that we are able to say that we have one killer who has taken out two of the most powerful people on Earth.  But anyway, what do we know about the case?”
Deacon and Wolfe had gone over the scene that morning, so they were the ones leading the debriefing.
“Well, first-off, the actual killing was done by a young cop.  Single shot to the head from a standard-issue Glock.  She was dead before she hit the ground.  As always, there wasn’t a sign that anyone had tampered with any of the shops or anything else.  Since the signal stopped long before we got there, we got nothing on that.  Like the last killing, it started with the phones and then went to the screens.”
Wolfe added, “Which I think means that, however this person is doing this, it isn’t like flipping on a kitchen light.  They can only do one thing at a time.  I don’t know what that means for the investigation, but…”
Bradley smiled.  “It means a lot.  Every little detail gets us one step closer to The Watcher and ending their cycle of terror.  Now, on to the woman who was killed.  What we here ‘Sins’?”
The blonde pointed to one of the screens in the office.  “Well, from what we’ve gained from the information sent to Wikileaks, she once was a prostitute who advertised herself with her teenage daughter, as a kind of duo.  There were video tapes that some of her johns must have made, since I can’t see her making them herself.  We did a little digging into her email and computer, both at home and work, and found that the videos were there.  She had gone to great trouble to make sure that they didn’t see the light of day.  Which means…”
Which means I’m in trouble!  If they start figuring out the lengths I am going to, then it makes it that much easier to trace this back to me!  Wolfe hid her mixed feelings.  If she lost it now, she was fucked.
“Which means that they must have some form of contact with these people!” Deacon piped up.  “They are able to go and see people independently and go unnoticed.  It is someone in a position of power.”
With that remark, Wolfe felt her enemies starting to close in.  However, there was another side to this – with the police figuring out that it is someone powerful, they will eventually start to question law enforcement.  Doubt was a weapon she could use, but not now.  Not until her enemies were really closing in.  For the moment, she was able to keep the battle going.  For the moment, there were cards still in her deck.

The detail left at the end of the day.  They had a larger task ahead of them than they thought – making a list of who could go into the lives of people in positions of power like this and be unnoticed or unreported.  Correlating that was a much bigger process than one would think.  Bradley was looking for the human angle to this, since he was not especially a tech kind of person.  As he said, this was a human, with human limitations and human motivations.  Catching The Watcher would be something done on the street, not in the world of the machines.  The ironic part of that was that if they wanted to get proof of the person’s guilt, they needed that world.  It was a profound double-edged sword.
Wolfe walked up to the blonde agent at the end of the day.  “You’re quite something, Agent…I just realized, I never got your name.  Kind of rude, I guess.  My name’s Wolfe, Jennifer Wolfe.  Most people call me Jen.”
The agent smiled.  “My name’s Heather, Heather Lancaster.  But you can just call me Heather.  And you’re not too shabby yourself.  You might have a career in the FBI, once all this is done.”
“I’d like that.  Say, you up for getting a little dinner?  I’m famished, and it would be nice to get to know someone I think it’s a total dumbshit a little better.  You know, outside work.”
The girl looked so pleased.  “I would like that!  Know any good places near here?”
“I might have an idea.”

“So, Deacon walks right in, not bothering to ask why the guys were wearing hazmat suits.  He opens the door and there is a stink like nothing you can imagine.  I won’t go into details, but trust me, it was awful.  Got the whole neighborhood smelling like it.  I had to grab him and pull him back to keep him from contaminating the evidence by vomiting all over it.”
The two laughed, with people around them seeming to lose their appetites.
“Man, I forgot what it’s like to be a regular cop.  Been an FBI agent too long.  We have forensics people who do that kind of work for us.  I haven’t been to the scene of a crime in years.”
Wolfe took another bite of her burger.  The place they were at a pretty cheap diner that was known for serving a damn good burger at any hour of the day.  It was a cozy joint, but it had its charm.
“You might just get your chance, with this case.  I mean, we’re gonna have to do some field work at some point, right?”
She shook her head.  “Doubtful.  We have people all over the city for that.  The more we’re learning about how The Watcher gets into the various systems, the more we can find a way to pinpoint their location.  Once we have the city wired to watch for strange signals, we’ll be able to pinpoint when he’s doing what he does, and that’s when we’ll grab him!”
Her surprise was partly an act, but also partly for real.  Her stomach was doing all sorts of ugly things.
“Is that even legal?”
Heather winked at her.  “We got the NSA behind us.  Which means that the government has sanctioned us to do whatever the fuck we want.  It pays to be FBI, you know?”
Putting a grin and slapping the girl’s hand was all an act.  On the inside, she could feel the wagons starting to circle.
“I guess so.”  She took another bite of her burger, hoping to calm her stomach down a bit.  It seemed like every time she had a leg up, her enemy was getting ahead.

They got back to the hotel where Heather was staying.
“Thanks for taking me to dinner, Jen.  Didn’t realize how hungry I was until I started eating.”
“My pleasure.  Not every day I get to take an FBI agent out on a date.”
Her companion blushed a little.  “This was a date?”
Wolfe just winked at her.  “See you tomorrow, Heather.”  She needed some time to think.

Back at the gym, she was listening to the Rolling Stones as she ran.  It was very late, so she was alone here.  Her mind was racing.  So many questions, problems and new issues that she had to account for.  Heather’s affection was something she could exploit.  Something she had to, if she was to find a way around these little gizmos they were placing around the city.  Part of her felt bad for using someone like that, but this was getting into dangerous territory.  One couldn’t be too careful.  For now, the game continued.  She liked it that way.

Until next time, a quote,

“The more they claim to be comrades of like mind, the easier it is to divide them with the thorns of suspicion.”  -Lelouch vi Britannia, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Peace out,

Maverick