Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Tiny Collection of Really Short Stories

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I first came across this concept in a Wired article some years ago. Mine might be a little longer than the stories in the article, but the basic idea is the same: tell a story in as few words as possible.

Hope you like them.

Mining colony established on mars, human remains excavated; oh s***.

Jenny had never given much thought to swimming before, and now it was too late to learn.

I’d never felt so alive until I woke up dead.

The sex was fun, your drinking wasn’t; so long honey (BANG).

Once upon a time there lived an evil, wicked king—but this being a fantasy story he didn’t last too long.

Computers achieve sentience: demand kittens and porn.

Usually a toaster is just a toaster, but sometimes, they have teeth.

~NekoShogun

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Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports Spork Part 2

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Chapter 5

The flock visit the John F. Kennedy memorial in Dallas, because… okay? I don’t see why not, I guess. I also don’t see why.

“I still think there was a second shooter.” Total sniffed and flopped on the grass. (pg 19)

By the way, have I yet said just how little sense Total’s character makes? I mean, come on.

Then Fang decides that they’re going to go to a football game, because

The School and the Institute and Jeb and the rest of the whitecoats probably have feeds tapping every public camera. So they’ll know where we are.” (pg 21)

See, at first I thought this was sarcasm, because monitoring the entire country’s public cameras to search for kids who you supposedly have a tracking chip on is just ridiculous. But no, Fang actually wants to get seen by the bad guys–who have access to every public camera–because of some reason that Max finds reasonable for some reason. Something about learning the bad guys’ plan by getting attacked by the bad guys.

Chapter 6

I was wound tighter than a choke chain on a rottweiler, hating everything about being here. (pg 22)

Max, can you give me a copy of your simile (that’s a simile, right?) dictionary? It seems like it’d be awfully useful.

Unlike the others, he [Iggy] was as tense as I was. In a strange place, surrounded by loud, echoing noise, unable to get his bearings–I wondered how long it would take him to crack. (pg 23)

You know, I think it would be really interesting to see how Iggy would deal with not having echolocation, but apparently this would cause him to go insane. Somehow that sentiment doesn’t seem particularly nice to blind people. (But maybe I’m way off. Knowing me, there’s a fifty-fifty chance of that.)

And then someone recognizes the flock!

Chapter 7

Max suspects somebody got a picture of them when they left Disney, and now everyone knows the bird kids are there oh no!

“The game hasn’t even started,” Total said bitterly from under Iggy’s seat. “I have money of the bears!” (pg 26)

I feel obligated to share every cringe-worthy/rage-inducing quote from Total just to get across how horrible he, and by extension this book, is.

Max also shares with us that her wingspan is nearly thirteen feet. Saving that information for later, next time she decides to fly in the middle of a restaurant or something.

The flock leave the stadium without a hitch and no sign of Erasers. Apparently this is weird, even though the real weirdness was how the Erasers were before able to follow the flock around with bizarre, and conveniently timed, accuracy.

Chapter 8

As mad as I was about our being in that situation in the first place, … still–the feeling of flying in tight formation, all of us with wide, beautiful, awesome wings… it was just incredibly cool. (pg 28)

In tight formation, with thirteen foot wingspans. Those two things don’t mesh together very well.

Oh, and Fang’s blog got 121,000 hits in one day. Which, okay, now they’re becoming a sensation and I don’t know how long it’s been since the football game, but still. That’s a LOT of views, and I’m not sure I buy it. Scratch that; I definitely don’t buy it.

Then Max’s voice comes back. Goody.

Chapter 9

The voice spouts a bunch of cryptic stuff about connections and whatnot, then informs Max that all the Erasers are dead and that “recombinant-DNA experiments” are globally being retired.

Chapter 10

I thought about Ari, Jeb’s son, who had been Eraserfied, and felt a tugging pain in my chest. (pg 35)

This is the most remorse Max has ever shown about having killed Ari, by the way. The only remorse, too, if I remember correctly.

So.

Anyway, Max tells the flock what the voice told her, and Fang says the flock should find a permanent home and forget about saving the world and whatnot.

Chapter 11

And apparently his 45-word speech was “the longest statement any of us had ever heard him utter.”

Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just rolling my eyes.

The flock all decide that finding a home (as in, a house) is definitely a good idea and definitely will be perfectly feasible and won’t require a ton of money and upkeep and all that fun stuff.

Chapter 12

Max is talking to Fang at eight thousand feet in the air about how she intends not to “give up the mission,” that is… um. Whatever it is she was intending to do? Save the world through means she doesn’t understand? It’s also, according to her, probably below freezing, but she’s certainly not, well, freezing, in her Florida attire.

Fang opened his mouth, but I interrupted. “Plus, now, thanks to you, we left the younger kids to be watched over by a blind guy and a talking dog. I must be insane! (pg 39)

You know, for someone who’s so keen on pointing out sexism (which I certainly don’t disagree with), Max is also completely ignoring that Iggy’s main drawback as an authority figure is his lack of maturity, not his lack of sight.

Max and Fang go back and forth, with Max being reasonable about how having a home won’t mean much if the world is killed, and Fang seeming to have absolutely no argument (I’m guessing because JPatterson couldn’t think of one). Finally, Max snaps and dives for the ground. Though I’m not sure what flying for the ground is going to accomplish.

Chapter 13

Now we’re with the rest of the flock…

Nudge rolled her eyes, and she and Angel shared a smile. She picked up a small handful of pebbles and carefully started distributing them among other little piles.

“Mancala, huh?” Total said, lying down next to them. “Next time we’re in a store, let’s lift some cards. We could play Texas hold ’em. I would kick your butts.” (pg 42)

Total’s only life before the flock was in a cage. Why does he know about Mancala and Texas hold ’em? And why is he so upbeat, for that matter? ‘Cause, remember, CAGE.

The answer is, Total is a horrible character. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Aside from that, however, this chapter is surprisingly nice and low-key. Everyone’s just kind of chilling, and Nudge and Angel get a nice bit of interaction that actually seems natural and pleasant. Then they decide to go out and fly, and

A wide, thick swarm of Erasers was flying right toward them. They were back! (pg 44)

That second sentence is completely useless. I know they’re back, JPatterson! You just showed me that! There is no need to show and then tell the same thing!

That’s the end of the chapter, though, and since this part’s a decent length I’ll be stopping here.

Adventures in Netflix: Update

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I’ve decided recently that Adventures in Netflix! will no longer be a weekly feature–not that it ever truly was a weekly feature, my irregular schedule and inherent laziness having delayed more episodes than not.

I still plan on writing more episodes, but I won’t be following a schedule anymore, which means new episodes could go up any day of the week.

~NekoShogun

 

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports Spork Part 1

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(Dropped the series title because otherwise the post titles would be waaaay too long.)

It’s been a while, but now I’m back with a spork of the third Maximum Ride book, titled… well, you can look up there. I don’t feel like typing it out again. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Prologue: No More Mistakes!

We start the book in the “Itexicon American Headquarters” in Florida, where–actually, let me just show you.

“We have meticulously crafted the skeleton of our new world,” the Director proclaimed from the large TV screen in the conference room. “Parts of this skeleton are scattered across the globe. Now the time has come to connect those parts, to become one! And, as one, we will commence our Re-Evolution!” (pg 3)

So. Yeah. Looks like not much has changed on the writing quality front.

Jeb Batchelder and a guy named Roland ter Borcht are in the conference room in question, and the Director goes on to order Jeb to get the flock killed by the next day. Ooh, drama!

Part 1: In Search of Hot Chocolate-Chip Cookies

No.

Just…

NO.

Chapter 1

So, it seems the flock have finally decided that flying around is a no-no, though I don’t understand why, and are now in a van. I mean, they never had any problems before with flying, and obviously the van they’re driving in is WAY slower than their unrealistic flight capacities. Then there’s the fact that Max is a fourteen-year-old with barely any driving experience, which would raise her conspicuousness by about 100.

Logic fail already. Goody.

The rest of the chapter is just infodumping, both on what we already know and a little bit that we don’t: the flock are “heading west” for no reason in particular.

Chapter 2

More recapping (this time even noted as such). Also:

But if the above whipped your imagination into a frenzy, here’s something even more interesting: Fang started a blog (http:maximumride.blogspot.com) (pg 11)

This blog actually exists. I don’t recommend a visit.

But let’s look at this in-universe blog. What is its point? According to the book, Fang is blogging what happens to them… so who can see it? Who’s going to stumble upon a random blog and go, “oh hey, this blog says these kids have wings! Obviously this is real!”?

We “acquired” a wicked-cool laptop when we escaped from the Itex headquarters, and get this–it has permanent satellite linkup, so we’re always online. And because Itex is a world-class, top-secret, paranoid techfest, the linkup has constantly changing codes and passkeys–its signal is completely untraceable. (pg 11)

Okay. Let’s take this one piece at a time.

First, no you didn’t. Nabbing a laptop on the way out was noticeably absent in the previous book. In other words, JPatterson has so little idea what he’s doing that he had to go “nope, that thing that happened in the last book? Another thing happened, too!”

Second, what? What is the use of a computer like that in a stationary company headquarters? From whom would they possibly need to be hidden? Why would the flock have grabbed this on the way out, when they were surrounded by bad guys and left immediately after an explosion through its hole?

In conclusion: This is not how you write, JPatterson.

Chapter 3

The flock ditch the van and continue traveling via wings.

Read: JPatterson realized he was being stupid and didn’t bother to edit. (I like to imagine that he writes these books over the course of a week, then has a computer fix its spelling before sending it off to the publishers. It’s the only reason the books could be this bad.)

The flock are now in Texas, and have miraculously ended up near Dallas. They head to some trees and make camp for the night.

“I keep putting two and two together and coming up with thirty-seven,” I said. “We have the School, the Institute, Itex… us, Erasers, Jeb, Anne Walker, the other experiments we saw in New York. But what’s the bigger picture? How does it all fit together?” (pg 14)

The answer is, it doesn’t.

I never would have admitted not knowing to the younger kids. Kids need leaders, need to know someone’s in charge. (pg 14)

I’m so glad you decided to study in child psychology while you were up in the mountains, Max. Otherwise you might actually do something reasonable for a person in your situation.

Yeah, you heard me right. Angel “overheard people thinking.” Another clue that we’re no ordinary cast of characters. Angel doesn’t just read minds; sometimes she can actually control them too. (pg 14)

Max really does the whole “yeah, the words I just wrote and presumably edited and sent to the publisher were not, in fact, some sort of ridiculously elaborate typo; I actually meant that and let me explain now!” thing WAY too much, especially in this book so far. If she could just explain things like a normal person, it would be much obliged.

So, that’s three quotes on one page. Great pace we’ve got here!

Chapter 4

All of a sudden we’re with Fang’s perspective, even though Max is still there.

You know, just going into third person in a first person book for no discernible reason. No big deal.

Anyway, it’s morning and

Fang looked down at the screen he’d flipped off when Max had leaned closer. He thumbed the trackball, and the screen glowed to life. (pg 17)

Okay, three things:

One, Fang turned the screen off on a laptop without closing it? Who does that? Heck, would that even be possible with most laptops?

Second, the flock didn’t just take a laptop, they took a mouse from Itex’s headquarters after an explosion? I mean, really?

Third, whaaat? A mechanical mouse? You’re telling me this super high-tech company uses a mechanical mouse for their uber-special laptop? How about no?

Fang’s blog is getting popular, too! It’s gone from twenty views to a thousand in the past three days, and guess what? This is a blog! I know about view counts! And you know what? In the ten months this blog has existed, we’ve gotten about 9,300 views, meaning an average of just over 900 views per month. And apparently Fang’s blog about flying bird kids has gotten 1000 views in three days?

NOPE.

Nudge and Angel had curled up close to each other in the crooks of wide live oak limbs. (pg 18)

OTP.

Wait, what?

Oh, and Fang has been getting an uber mysterious message that says one of the flock is a traitor. OOH SUSPENSE!

But you’ll have to wait for the next spork, because this part’s done!

Adventures in Netflix! Episode 25: To the Ends of the Earth

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Today on Adventures in Netflix! I’ll be reviewing the 2005 BBC miniseries To the Ends of the Earth, based on a trilogy of books of the same name by William Golding.

Set in the early 1800s, To the Ends of the Earth is an expertly crafted story that goes beyond the usual romanticism typical of such period pieces and delivers one of the most convincingly realistic depictions of life at sea that I’ve ever seen.

The miniseries is divided into three 90 minute episodes, each covering one of the three books. As such, each episode is essentially a self contained story, though the overall progression and ever evolving characters tie the three acts together and make it feel like one continuous, epic story.

To the Ends of the Earth tells the story of Edmond Talbot (Benedict Cumberbatch), a young English gentleman as he and his fellow passengers make the long and uncertain voyage from the British isles to the far coasts of Australia. Along the way he must navigate a series of hardships and unexpected events.

Talbot is a compelling character that takes many of the well known tropes of youth and gives them a much needed coat of paint. In his component parts, Talbot seems like any other character in a coming of age story–arrogant, naive, often tactless–but as portrayed by Cumberbatch young Edmond feels like more than just the sum of his parts: a real, dynamic character whose strengths of character are perfectly balanced against his many relatable flaws.

The rest of the cast, including Sam Neill and Jerad Harris, are equally wonderful, giving life to a motley band of characters as unusual and temperamental as the real world itself.

Equally impressive as the superb acting and story are the special effects. True, you’ll not find any big budget scenes of naval combat, what you will find however is one of the best, most nauseating depictions of just how turbulent the sea, and anything that floats upon it, can be. Especially in the first episode, characters are frequently shown vomiting, staggering, falling, and generally being abused by the motions of the ship. The camerawork, the acting, and whatever other tricks the filmmakers employ make the viewer feel as if they were right there with the characters in a way I haven’t experienced from other movies and television.

If period pieces are your thing, or you just really love a good naval story, To the Ends of the Earth is a must see.

~NekoShogun