Short Story: The Devil & Me (Part 1)

7 Years & 3 Months Old

Screaming children.

The little war drums of their tiny stomps pounding the grass and sand.

It’s a celebration of freedom. Liberation after hours of being trapped in school.

But for Suzie Lee, recess was a time for peace and serenity. The seemingly endless green of the playground fields, the labyrinthine of the big toys, and all the possibilities that a ball and a few friends could provide meant little to the young girl. Even all of the staff and other children would know exactly where to find Suzie each and every recess. Regardless of whether or not they knew her name, everyone in the school has heard of the girl who’d always spend her time at the sandbox by the jungle gym. The girl who was always huddled over drawing or building things with the sand.

The small girl, petite even for her age, had her black hair always tied into pigtails as she stared into the grains of sand. It was as if the sands were the cosmos and it was her job to arrange the stardust.

And it was Charles Bogart’s job to kick some of that stardust onto Suzie’s face.

Suzie coughed violently as she rubbed away the sand from her eyes. The special art drawn into the sand all but gone.

“Charles Bogart!” Suzie yelled but didn’t cry. Suzie never cried.

Charles laughed. His chubby cheeks turning red with his bucktooth revealed for the world to see.

“I hope the devil gets you!” Suzie tried to chase after Charles but tripped.

Her wishful omen was obviously a fair and just judgment for getting sand kicked on your face.

Charles ignored Suzie curse and fled with a wide smile stretched across his face. But he didn’t get far until a sight stopped him dead in his tracks and turned the smile, upside-down.

∗∗∗

“So you just showed up?” Binkle asked with an amused astonishment. He poured Beelzebub his vodka on the rocks.

“Yep,” Beelzebub answered as he squirted lime into his drink. He then drowned the carcass and stirred.

“Just like that? Poof?”

“Yeah,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink.

There’s a bar in Hell.

Well, there are many bars in Hell but there’s a particular bar in Hell known as The Center for being at the center of Hell. Which made little sense, as Hell was boundless and endless. The infinite plane for those who wanted to live away from God—either by choice or as punishment—and now lived under the mercy of the fallen angels: the princes of hell, i.e., the Devil. Or the devil[s] though the brothers didn’t mind sharing the title.

Anyways.

After an odd bet with even odder wages, Beelzebub had won against his six brothers and named the bar The Center and effectively made his portion of Hell, the center of Hell.

It did well for business.

Yes, people still had to work in Hell and pay their taxes to the princes.

Binkle was the master of the bar and the personal bartender for Beelzebub. While he was alive, Binkle was a comedian. His jokes impressed Beelzebub and his brothers enough that he was able to land the relatively cushy job of being the Beelzebub’s bartender. Though he was once fully human, the princes added bits and pieces to the comedian to their personal amusement. As of now, Binkle had seven nipples (one inside his ear), a hairy rat tail, and taste buds on his anus. The last bit was added by Asmodeus, one of Beelzebub’s brothers, and it was an addition Binkle was still unaware of. And, of course, the name Binkle which Belphegor, with his great sense of humor, had given the comedian. His real name was long forgotten.

“My mouth tastes funny,” Binkle smacked his lips. “It’s been like this all day. Your brother was here earlier, by the way.”

“Did he pay his tab?” Beelzebub sipped on his drink

“Well, he grumbled when I asked him of it,” Binkle prepped some finger foods for the devil then grabbed a mouthwash.

“Well that didn’t help,” Binkle said after a gargle and a spit. “So what made you do that?”

“Do what?” Beelzebub shook his empty glass in the air. Binkle relieved him of it as he handed him another.

“You know. Show up? When the girl summoned?” Binkle pushed a basket of fresh nachos to Beelzebub.

“Just felt like it. I mean, why not,” Beelzebub enjoyed Binkle’s skills as a bar chef.

“Something about the girl just beckoned me over. I don’t know. Maybe I was bored.”

“Did you just show up like that?”

Beelzebub was currently dressed in a way that a Beverly Hills yuppie would dress to look casual. Sports coat, t-shirt of a rock band they’ve barely heard the name of, darkened jeans, and shades.

“No, went with the classic,” Beelzebub turned into a hideous form that’d convince denizens of hell that there wasn’t a God.

“Wow,” Binkle said. “That kid’s going to need therapy.

In fact, Charles was in therapy until his senior year of high school. No one believed that he had seen a monster. As no one should. Everyone believed he was crazy. As one should when a child starts screaming and crying that he’s seen a monster and that everyone else can go to hell for not believing him. Once his parents could no longer afford his therapy, Charles turned to drugs and delved into cults that even Beezlebub’s brother Mammon found to be a senseless waste of goats. Eventually, after an emotional breakthrough with his friends and family, Charles decided to go to a dime-a-dozen art school that the same friends and family couldn’t convince him out of after they recently had such an emotional breakthrough. His obsession with flies didn’t win him many fans nor jobs. So after graduation, Charles worked through various fast food restaurants until he became a manager of one. Where he tried to swat a fly since by this point he grew an insatiable hatred towards them, and ended up falling face first into a deep fryer and died.

Don’t kick sand at people, kids.

“You’re other brothers are not going to not like that. And I’m not talking about the ones in hell. And by brothers I mean just one,” it took a lot of courage from Binkle to warn Beelzebub like that.

He studied carefully of the Lord of the Flies’ reaction. The Lord simply sipped on his drink, deep in thought.

“So, what now?” Binkle asked. “Are you going to try to bring her here?”

“I’m done with her. It was fun. But can’t turn a little fun into a headache,” Beelzebub said as he watched Binkle drink a shot of whiskey to get the funny taste out of his mouth with to no avail.

The heavy padded doors of the bar slammed open. A flood of light filled the bar with heaven’s glory. A heavy aura of the divine made the other patrons of the bar uncomfortable, perturbed, and annoyed.

A tall, fit man in a white robe and golden locks calmly walked toward Beelzebub.

“Brother,” the archangel spoke with a voice of grace and magnitude. “We need to talk.”



This is from a novella I was working on that I ended up putting aside when I had to work on different projects. I decided to post it on the blog and finish the story up here as well.

I don’t think it’ll end up being a novella as planned and probably will be a longer-short story.

I’ll try to post every Monday.

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a Quick Review: Avengers: Infinity War

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It’s great.

Go see it.

I’ll keep the first part of this completely spoiler-free as it’s necessary for this film. It’s that integral to the experience and it’s not an experience that should be meddled with if you’re a fan of the series. However, it’s also a type of film (and perhaps speaks for my liking of it) that even any praise or criticism may sort of being a spoiler for those who truly want a genuine experience with all of its integrity intact.

I will note, however, that I have no idea how this film will be for those who haven’t watched many, if any, of the other Marvel films.

But if you have any inclination towards watching this film, stop reading, watching any reviews—such as this one—any interviews, any previews, etc., and just…

…go see it. Now.

This is probably not only my personal favorite of the Marvel films but also simply the best one yet. The writing and presentation of the film surpass the films of the past so superbly that the film may set a new standard too high for the next, inevitable, collaboration Marvel film.

I won’t be posting any pics from the film in this entry because that in and of itself would be doing a disservice to those who are thinking of seeing this film.

The tone is almost perfect with just the right balance of humor and gravity. It’s the near-perfect execution of what most of the Marvel films wanted to accomplish in the past. And it’s everything Justice League wanted to be and wished it could be.

 

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Dark colors and frowns mean we’re serious.

 

It’s a writing marvel (no pun intended) regarding how meticulously and masterfully the writers wove together all the different characters and narratives.

The film is visually stunning and audacious. There are moments where you feel like you’re completely watching a different genre of film. There hasn’t been a Marvel film yet that could inspire such visual sense of awe.

Musical scores are complex and perfectly captures the valiant but seemingly futile efforts by the heroes, the bittersweet moment of the small victories, and the most complicated emotions portrayed yet by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So.

If you’re a fan of Marvel films in any sense—hardcore or casual—do yourself a favor and watch this film. If you’re a fan of writing, I’d recommend watching all the Marvel films and then watching this one to truly appreciate how deftly the writers wove the tales together, bring to life the flavors of each franchise, and still make it as much of an organic movie experience as this film was.

Go buy the tickets now. It’s worth it.

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Is this the greatest film ever made or even in the Top 50?

No.

And it’s not trying to be. But Marvel has shown that it’s best at what it does and squishes any hope DC films had of having their own entity in this space.

You want humor? You got it.

You want serious? You got it.

You want dark? You got it.

You want heart? You’ll choke on it.

This may be the only Marvel film so far that I’d consider seeing again in theaters. Perhaps, on the IMAX this time around. Maybe even give 4DX ago again if there’s a version available.

[ 8.5 / 10 ]

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SPOILERS REVIEW AHEAD


We will keep it short here.

One of the best aspects of the film is obviously how the film’s narrative can be seen in two different ways. It’s the story about the Avengers and/or it’s a story also about Thanos. In fact, the movie begins with Thanos and ends with him.

It’s a bold and creative way of establishing a villain that’s been only hinted throughout all the previous films over the years. Arguably, he’s earned the space of having his own film given the presence he’s had looming in the shadows of all the films in the past. He’s the most intriguing and humanized villain MCU has had yet and there are moments where the audience can genuinely connect with the Mad Titan.

My only concern going forward is that the writing has put them in such a hole that they may not be able to dig themselves out of it without some copout or cheesy solution to all these problems.

AKA most likely Magic + Time Stone. But given how impressively they accomplished a film of this magnitude, the writing team deserves our faith in them.

 

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“Thanos! I’ve come to bargain!” It was cheesy in his own film as well.

 

While there were other few problems I think the script had regarding forced action scenes, action scenes that didn’t make sense within the logic of the film’s universe, characters acting not like themselves but acting based on what the plot demands, and etc. But these are, ultimately, pedantic problems given what the film has accomplished.

I’ll personally be very sad to see it all end next year. I can’t imagine the next phases of Marvel Cinematic Universe having the same amount of wonder and grandiosity.

Nerd Talk

  • Alright, we understand Thanos is the Mad Titan, but why does he actually think his ideas make sense? It becomes established that he was some sort of a figure in an advanced society that people would actually listen and ostracize him for being mad (or he was that crazy homeless guy). If you suddenly take away half the population from a planet, more than likely their societies will collapse. I guess technically that’s okay with his logic?
  • How does Thanos maintain the economy of his armada? Are there no single galactic police patrol What was Thanos’ plans after succeeding? Watching the Sunsets and then doing what his army?
  • I was truly hoping to not see a post credit scene with this one. It cheapens the wholeness of the experience. Especially by the fact that the post-credit scene was a hint to the next film in the franchise, and thus, sort of taking away the feeling of encased experience of an enclosed storyline.
  • Where’s Nova or the Nova Corp?
  • So did Captain America get an upgrade? How is he strong enough to handle Thanos’s heralds? How is he strong enough to hold back Thanos with the freakin’ Infinity Gauntlet?
  • I’m a sucker for those “good guy finally showed up moments” and was absolutely giddy like a child when Cap finally showed up.
  • So did Vision get a nerf? Are we just going to accept that the weapons… uh… blocks (?) intangibility? Can’t vision download all the fighting techniques around the world? And isn’t he supposed to have enhanced strength or whatever? And the laser beams?
  • Why is opening the barrier at Wakanda and bottlenecking the swarm a good idea to prevent the alien dogs from going around them? Why can’t the dogs just run around them once they make it in? They were seeming an endless swarm. And aren’t they worried about other threats that may potentially get in? What if they’re just overrun? No one tested these dogs in a fight. Does Wakanda not afford some sort of a drone that can watch the perimeter? Have some sensors? They have forcefields on a cape for heaven’s sake. What about those future jets they had to provide cover fire? What about some tanks? Wtf Wakanda? #WakandaForever
  • Thor had the worst of them all in this film. It’s heartbreaking seeing this film shortly after viewing Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Only weeks after his lesson, Thor proved that he is indeed a God of Hammers. Or hammer-axe in this case.
  • How’re Groot’s branches so strong anyways?
  • Why didn’t Thor take out the big threats right away after he joined the fight at Wakanda? Why the hell did he think it’s alright to let the rolly-tanks go all about and the heralds fight normal human beings?
  • Okay. I know we’re taught to aim for the torso. But is there a reason why Thor didn’t really have a concern about the gauntlet? It seems like he definitely could have at least stopped the snap. Are we just all supposed to accept these heroes let their emotions get the best of them?
  • Conveniently the original Avengers surviving is convenient.
  • Also, Thanos really underutilized the Reality stone after showing us exactly how powerful that stone was.
  • The scene with Gamora’s death was surprisingly emotional and did an incredible job of allowing the audience to finally connect with Thanos a bit on a human level. Even the cruelty of his actions added to his humanity. Arguably, the humanization begins when Gamora and Thanos begin to interact.
  • I’m okay with Red Skull the Soul Stone keeper. It’s a very comic book moment.
  • The scene with Nebula’s torture is a lot more gruesome than I anticipated from these films.
  • I wonder if they’ll ever add the Sentry as a storyline for the older audience. Most likely for Netflix or something. But not sure how they could portray him without movie budget.
  • Doctor Strange’s banter with Tony Stark was worth waiting for.
  • Peter Quill was more annoying than endearing in this film. The fact that he possibly ruined (or followed) Dr. Strange’s plan was a bit infuriating as it seemed too obvious it was going to happen and felt a bit forced. We’re coerced to understand humans act very erratically when they hear their loved ones die. We get it. But I could also see Peter help to get the gauntlet off sooner to beat Thanos with it.
  • What the f— was Thanos doing for 2 years? What grand schemes? He just brute forced this whole shebang. And it becomes established in the films that he had his armada for quite a long time. The gauntlet was also made not too long before this film since it had to have happened during Ragnarok.
  • Loki’s death, while setting quite the tone for the film, felt a bit forced.
  • He’s probably coming back to life.
  • On that note, some of the jokes in the film were too on the nose.
  • Dr. Strange really underperformed the fight against Ebony Maw.
  • Dr. Strange was very anime against Thanos.
  • Thanos dropping the moon was one of the coolest scenes I’ve seen in these films.
  • Iron Man’s new suit was very anime. How far we’ve come from Iron Man 1.
  • It was really hard to keep up with the names of the Black Order.
  • I ended up just calling them heralds, to those of you who were wondering, because Thanos is basically acting as Galactus of this universe so far.
  • Finally, the film essentially broke itself when it established that portals can indeed cut off limbs.

Quick Review: Black Panther

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With Avengers: The Infinity Wars just right around the corner, I finally managed to see Black Panther.

And it was… alright.

Apparently, the fad is to consider anyone who didn’t thoroughly enjoy this film to be a racist.

Oh shit.

I also didn’t enjoy Django Unchained that much either.

But I really, really like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and that’s my childhood. Does that help or not help my case?

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haters gonna hate

At best, I’d give the film a 6.5 – 7/10.

I’d like to view it again sometime and reassess my review but I’ve found it hard to enjoy most of these Marvel films on the second viewing.

So far I’ve only enjoyed rewatching: Iron Man 1, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and surprisingly Iron Man 3: The Christmas Special.

I should probably talk about Thor: Ragnarok as well as it’s a glaring example of Marvel deciding to just streamline all of their films’ narratives to the tone of a bastard child birthed from a drunken coitus between Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.

(I wrote a quick review of it that I don’t think I ever published. But for those who are wondering, I’d give that film a 7.5/10)

Black Panther.

Right.

Back to the subject at hand.

Though the aforementioned wasn’t the case with the Black Panther, the film suffered from other issues that are surprisingly found more in the Marvel’s Netflix franchises than their cinematic cash printing machines.

Let’s dive in.

As usual, these are just based on quick notes I made while watching the film. There may be some errors or some things I missed as I was watching the movie.

And to clarify, “Quick Review” alludes to not the length of the review but more of the essence of review. It’s just me going on a rant about the film after having seen it once without any further research. If I wanted to write a more proper review, I’d watch the film, at the very least, twice. This is a more organized version of the rant my friends would have to put up with for the blog readers.

There will obviously be SPOILERS AHEAD


The Narrative.

They did a decent enough job of catching people up to the mindset of T’challa (Black Panther) for those who might not have seen Captain America: Civil War or just had forgotten what brought T’challa into the pantheon of heroes in the first place.

Not only that, but they also gave us the emotional and historical stake to the character that gave us a fresh perspective to not only T’challa but the events that surrounded his involvement in the Civil War and rounding out quickly who the Wakandans are. It was a quick and somewhat organic expansion to the lore required for us to appreciate Black Panther uniquely for who he is as a character and what the film’s unique place in Marvel Cinematic Universe is.

There’s an almost immediate “Lion King meets laser-pew-pew” vibe not because it’s happening in Africa and felines are involved, but the majestic scores that remind you of Disney’s animated films along with a deep voice of a father narrating to a son… happening in Africa.

Well.

Anywho.

Oddly enough, as mentioned, the film ended up feeling like a stitched up episodes of a Netflix series than a standalone film. There’s just too many plot lines hurrying to ripen or simply presents itself self-evidently ripened before the film’s 135 minutes run out.

I found it hard to care about a lot of the characters and a lot of what’s happening when it’s just whizzing all over the screen and I’m being force fed how to feel and care about them.

It’s not as if I haven’t enjoyed more complicated films before with varying characters and plotlines all happening at once (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Magnolia) but because the film is ultimately about T’Challa (and also should have had more about Killmonger) it can’t seem to find the proper grasp on who and what to focus on and how to develop them.

The script doesn’t feel like it was done justice by being on the silver screen.

The film even committed the same trope and downfall of many of the Marvel series on Netflix these days of abruptly changing the antagonist and spending the little time the story has left trying to build up the new villain.

That’s not a twist, Marvel. It’s just a lazy or a greedy writing.

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Or with the case of Luke Cage, pure ROBBERY.

We all knew Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) was going to be the main villain of the film. However, the film didn’t build up the character well enough to justify us caring about his rise and fall. All of which literally happened within the 3rd act.

To make us care, the film attached emotional social issues and connected backbones of other characters’ emotional stakes to Killmonger. But Killmonger himself never had the chance to truly realize himself as a character. Which is a shame because he had such an amazing actor and backstory to work with. The character was just carried by the actor’s charisma.

What bothered me a bit is that the film seemed to be unknowingly forcing it upon us to suddenly care about Killmonger by saying… look, all these issues we face as Americans? He’s the sudden embodiment of all that.

You don’t care? Then you don’t care about these issues.

Maybe that’s too much but, hot damn, the last line Killmonger gives before he kills himself. It’s a complex social issue forcibly latching itself onto the film as a ‘justified’ metaphor. But the film ends up posing more questions and debatable notions than it does answering them–both within and beyond the 4th wall.

Killmonger just becomes a mouthpiece for the social commentary that the film wants to get across… but it doesn’t entirely feel like he’s earned it other than us being told us that he has the characteristics of the downtrodden colored individual in an oppressed society.

But we’ll get back to him later.

(And I understand why Captain America isn’t present in the film to avoid the ‘white savior’ narrative, but it’d have been nice to know where he was during all this. I guess we’ll find out in Avengers: Infinity War)


The Politics.

There’s no real getting around that the minorities in the US have gotten the short-end of the stick throughout the nation’s history.

For the black community, that history is filled with not only the short-end but also the bloodied blunt end.

Killmonger himself is a child who grew up in poverty… but through hard work and dedication got himself through a university, grad school at MIT, and became a Navy SEAL ….again, from a background of, at worst, an orphan and at best most likely in a single-mother family.

(It’s never made clear what happened to Killmonger’s mom. I guess for all we know she could have remarried a rich guy and Killmonger was actually pretty well off living a hipster life while assuming he knows what it’s like to be a poor black person in America. But that ruins the character so we’ll assume that he grew up in poverty because that’s what the film strongly suggests)

His achievements are goddamn amazing.

…And sort of works against his own political ideologies and opinions that black people are somehow hopelessly oppressed and need violence to have their fair shake in the world.

…And kind of makes you wonder why he believed the best way to support black communities is through use of force when obviously with the right motivation and resources they can get through whatever obstacles the skin of their color may pose. I guess the idea is that black people shouldn’t have to be in a position to struggle at all.

It’s almost as if Killmonger has a racist belief that black communities cannot advance without resorting to violence. That, as he implies, black people cannot be at the top of the racial/social hierarchy without a violent revolution.

And what about other oppressed minority groups? If they want to be better, then follow Killmonger’s ways? I guess my problem is that the character feels ultimately confused within the writing and not as part of the writing.

(I should also mention at this point all minority groups suffered pretty heavily in the US. This isn’t to marginalize the suffering endured by the black community, but to not marginalize anyone’s suffering. And if we broaden our scale globally, the conversation becomes a lot more depressing and maddening)

People may jump in here and say, “THAT’S WHY HE’S THE VILLIAN AND T’CHALLA IS THE PROTAGONIST”

Fair enough, but, again, it’s muddled by the fact that how the characters are approaching this topic, their backgrounds, and their given motivations.

T’Challa is an outsider looking in on these social issues even though he’s never faced them because he’s from a better place. Killmonger presented as the embodiment of all the social ailments. One believes in allowing others to solve their own problems. The other believes that if you have the power, you should solve their problems.

And I guess as the movie points out, their goals were not just about the US but around the world.

Okay.

But that doesn’t make the problems any easier.

Now we have to discuss national sovereignty, moral relativity, paternalism, and etc.

In the end, the movie’s answer seems to be that of heavy paternalism: “if one place is superior to others, then it’s their moral duty to help those lesser nations.”

Given what criteria are they better? How can they help?

Who knows!

Let’s just chew on that a bit Americans.

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I probably won’t ever get this political again. Especially on a “Quickie”. As it’s borderline hypocritical.

It’s a like chewing a mint, a ginseng, and juicy fruit together.

But I guess we can just fall back on the lazy excuse of “It’s a Marvel movie.” or accept that everything I’m ranting about was obviously planned.

Fine. So be it.

(Part of me screaming: then don’t bring up sensitive and complex topics WHILE seemingly trying to present them in an authentic and digested way)


Korea.

We’re going to take a slight, lighter-hearted detour.

Let’s unwind a bit from these heated topics and introduce from the far left-field a possibly unexpected topic that may generate more flames against me.

So.

Here’s a little secret about me.

I know a little Korean.

Not a Korean Peter Dinklage but know the language well enough to know that the Korean being spoken in the film was horrible.

And no, I’m not talking about Ms. Lupita Nyong’o’s performance speaking Korean. She did an admirable job.

I’m talking about the supposed Koreans in the film.

None of them seem to be fluent speakers. Their Korean sounded really silly. Even many of the background speakers sounded wrong most of the time.

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He knows why his picture is here.

And if you ever go to Korea and go to one of them public markets and find non-native Korean speaking ajooma (middle-aged women) working there, I’ll personally PayPal you $50 (limited to 1 person).

What’s the big deal?

Alright.

If it’s a little off, I wouldn’t mind. But it’s literally butchered language coming across as a native speaking the language natively in the native setting.

Even The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise that got so, so much wrong regarding the authenticity of historical aspects of the film got the look and the sound of the film correctly enough that people weren’t taken out of the film if they were familiar with the Japanese culture and language (minus weird trees).

What’s the excuse of not getting Korean right for the sake of authenticity with this film?

  1. Money? It’s a Marvel film.
  2. Availability? Is it really that hard to find some Koreans that can speak few lines fluently in LA? Or Korea?

So what are the reasons to just not care?

  1. They don’t think Koreans or people who understand Korean would care or notice.
  2. They just don’t care.

I honestly can’t think any other substantial reasons. As harsh as those reasons sound, they just seem ‘fair’ as it is.

If it’s a movie that’s trying to celebrate minorities on the big screen (which is why I assume they also chose an Asian location for no real reason other than also to possibly reach out to that demographic), why not make sure they do all of them at least the minimal justice?

Is that too much?

Is it because it’s called Black Panther and not Global Panther?

Yeah, I went there.

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The hero we need but not the one we deserve.

Killmonger.

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Whew, finally more about the art behind the film.

Look.

One of my biggest draw to this film was the fact that Michael B. Jordan was going to be involved. When I found out he was the main villain, I was all in.

And while I thought some of his performances on this film were excellent as usual, most of it felt too exaggerated and muddled…

…and tragically, I felt like it wasn’t Michael’s fault. It felt like because of how they had to edit the film, his performance didn’t really get to come to life or was portrayed with a bad ‘light’.

It’s also not his fault that his character seemed rushed for development in the 3rd act of the film.

It’s also not his fault that his dialogues seemed a bit dead and trite through the 2nd act. He did amazing with what he had to work with.

It’s also not his fault that his character sort of didn’t make sense and collapsed on itself a bit. Wouldn’t Killmonger have been more interesting if the script decided to have a little more courage and presented him as a legitimate counter-balance to T’Challa? It’s not as if no foreign interaction policy has never been done before in history. There’s plenty of examples to use and personify.

It might be a little bit of his fault that his swagger walk got a bit too much near the end.


Worldbuilding.

Minor points that might be answered in the later films.

Wakanda seems… way too advanced. It seems close to Guardians of the Galaxy level advanced. I wouldn’t have been surprised if T’Challa started playing his claws like a flute and giant lion robot came out from the mountains.

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The only thing that’s missing from the Wakanda’s arsenal. Or is it?

Like what the hell’s going on in this isolated country’s R&D department?

How do you go from tribes uncovering a meteorite into a nation refining a near-indestructible material, turning that material into a power source, and then also developing that material into medical apparatuses… while cutting yourself off from the rest of the world?

Does Tony know anything about this?

How the hell does he not?

How the hell does Tony not suspect anything about Wakanda and the Vibranium?

Where the hell were Tony’s Iron Man bots that we saw in Spiderman when someone like Klaw is involved? We know he’s on Tony’s radar from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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He was busy having a spiritual experience.

What about the new SHIELD?

How can this theater sell fresh wood-fired pizza when there’s no wood-fired oven in sight?

These are the questions that we may never get answers to.


Conclusion.

Overall, while Black Panther is probably better than some of the other Marvel films, it wasn’t the best nor was it very memorable.

It felt like a better done, Thor 1.

While I enjoyed the soundtrack, at times it seemed too… animatedly-dramatic? And overused.

But I do have to admit that it’s great seeing this sort of mainstream film featuring mostly minority cast–and also blowing up the box office while at it.

Next review will be regarding American treasure Dwayne Johnson’s new masterpiece, Rampage.

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Teaser: …In an odd way, I actually kind of liked it.

ARAMIRU GONE LIKE THE CAP’N WHILE SHIT’S HITTING THE FAN


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Writing Scraps: Short Story #1

Where 
Reddit’s /r/Writing

When 
04/04/2018

Why 
Some contest

What
[Prompt]
“Take an event from history and write a fictional account describing a conspiracy theory about what “REALLY” happened. Or, if you prefer, write a scene about a character who believes in one or more conspiracy theories.”

[Word Count Limit]
500

How
Found out about the contest around 6:00PM PST on 04/04/2018… the day the short story was due was…. at 8:00 PM PST 04/04/2018

[Time] 
Around 90 minutes.

[Word Count]
500 Words, cut down from around 680.

Started from a Lee Harvey Oswald bit to this:


Untitled

Down the Highway 285, just about when drivers would think they’re in the middle of nowhere, there was a diner. It looked like an old chrome box and during the day it glistened under the blistering sun and at night it lit itself up with the bright red neon sign on its roof that simply read: “DINER”. They figured no one cared about the name of the place.

It’s 1969. The time was 1 AM.

Jim sat at his table with his coke bubbling through the ice cubes. He scratched his head with its crew cut and pushed his thick black-rimmed glasses back on to the top of his nose with his index finger. He opened his mouth to speak to the lanky man in his fancy suit and matching fedora before closing it to gather his thoughts again.

“I’m telling you it’s all true, Jim,” the man in the fancy suit said. “All those people who’ve told you that you were mad… they were wrong.”

“But…” Jim still couldn’t find exactly what he felt was wrong.

“How long were you searching for us?”

“…for 23 years. Jesus. That’s two wives and three children.” Jim sat back a bit and sipped on his coke.

“I’m here to tell you that we’re real,” The man gave Jim a kind, comforting smile.

The man removed his fedora. Four green tendrils shyly poked above his thick, black hair. He then pointed his finger at his forehead where a third eye opened stared at Jim’s reluctant face.

“What is it, Jim? What’s wrong?” The man asked.

“You can’t be real,” Jim said sternly.

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m saying, where’s the MIB? The boys in the shadows? The Men in Black?” Jim tried to keep his voice down. “How can I be speaking to you right now?”

“I don’t… think they’re real.”

“They’re not real?! Ha! Then what’s the government using the tobacco industry for? What’s Vietnam for? Think man! Think!”

“I…” Worried about the commotion, the man retracted his tendrils and put back on his fedora.

“Do you really think that the government would let aliens just walk around willy-nilly? Talk to us? Let them observe us? Bullshit! That’d be utter chaos! What’s the point of paying taxes then!”

“I have… I don’t know.”

“Then who’s propagating this idea that Earth is round, man?! And that “moon” landing a week ago? Come on!”

“Earth… is round.”

“Earth. Earth is round,” Jim groaned. “Jesus Christ. I don’t know who put you up to this but they at least need to do better homework.”

“You boys okay?” The waitress asked.

“Yeah,” Jim stood up. “And he’s getting the check for wasting my time.”

Jim put on his jacket and his fedora. With his briefcase clenched tightly in his hand he walked out to the cold, desert night.

He lit a cigarette and looked up into the sky. The vast black canvass of endless stars, mysteries, and other lives.

Someday, Jim told himself. Someday he’ll find the truth.


 

Well. There it is.

That’s the copy and paste of the story. A direct link HERE. There’s a lot of great other submissions to read as well so make sure to check out the whole thread if you click on that link.

In the end, while I had a lot of fun writing this story I wasn’t entirely happy with it. But it was good to write something from beginning to completion again and I submitted it regardless.

 

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Sometimes, I just want to say hello

There’s a thought.

An ephemeral inclination—a diminutive self-jest—that prods me to walk up to a stranger and say hello. Hello. How’s your day? Your week? Your life?

What makes you smile?

What ails you?

Who are you?

Or the seductive temptation to give in to the lack of better self-preservation to smile and say hello to those who were crazy enough to attempt my inclinations with me.

We’re all human, I remind myself when I begin to see people just as walking paintings of a person. In those clothes, in those jobs, and in those moods.

We’re all connected by the reality that binds us. Part of that being that we’re bound as species. Even if the lenses we view all of this might be different.

Most of us want to be happy. Have reasons to smile.

When did the some of us lose that?

Most of us feel love. Have that, that, metaphysical warmth that transcends mere physical contact when hugging someone.

Why were some of us born without that?

Most of us are lonely when we realize the zoo we’ve made ourselves is indifferent and everchanging as much as the universe it’s in regardless of our own dispositions.

What made so many of us simply accept that as just a fact of life?

Sometimes, I just want to hear their stories. I’ve wondered if it was for curious amusement or for a reminder of that connection all human beings should have with one another. A proof of a sort that life isn’t so unique and isolated.

I remember an old man who spoke to me for hours about his life. How he was a sailor when he was young. Found joy in fighting. Found love in a foreign land. He frequented the cafe where I sat and listened to his story. Most of the workers thought he was a crazy old man. I don’t know why he decided to speak to me. He told he was an accomplished professor now slowly dying of a disease. He told me never to get old if I can help it. Near the end, he told me his wife had passed away recently and I saw deep loneliness in his eyes. The helplessness of knowing what was exactly next but not knowing what the road would be like until he gets there.

After about 3 hours of conversation, I asked the old man for his name as I wanted to bid him a proper farewell.

He looked at me as if I was mad for asking for his name. As if I had broken some sort of an unspoken, sacred oath. A venerable rule.

“Why?” The old man asked.

There was half-a-second of empty silence.

“Thank you for your time and for the conversation,” I told the nameless old man and offered him a handshake.

He gave me an unenthusiastic, socially-coerced handshake and walked away.

And I never saw him again.

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Why Do You Write?

Why Do You Write

A clumsy, tacky question.

It’s not a question that many people ask writers but a question I imagine many writers have asked themselves at some point.

Why do you write?

Why do you write even though your work is shit?

Why do you write even though it makes you miserable?

Why do you write even though no one will see your work?

Because I have to.

It’s kind of the line that you’d expect from a Disney movie before the majestic score chimes in and kicks-off the transition for our protagonist to go against the grain and literally run somewhere to progress the plot.

However, this is the reality. So there’s just my dull face with a divine glow from my overly bright computer monitor and my ass is definitely parked firmly in my computer chair. The only majestic music playing is the whirr of my overworked computer fan in this otherwise a silent and lonely room.

But that’s the best answer I’ve accepted about why I do what I do. About why any artists do what they do.

It’s the dilemma of the creatives.

Whether their vice is writing, painting, dancing, singing, and whatever else STEM may deem as empirically worthless, we just want to keep diving into the recourse of our imagination. The very thing that seems to give the plot for ourselves in the randomness and indifference of reality and the colors we can finally choose for it.

To the point where we have to always find the reminders and the balance of the sanctity and nourishment necessary for that reality and the potential sacrilege of the rejuvenation with our delvings in creativity.

But not having it—not delving into it—is divesting our sense of being. We feel severed to something integral to the definition of ourselves when we have to disconnect from our outlets.

Damn, that sounds embarrassingly decadent.

Since Chronicles of the Otherworld: Season 1, I’ve re-written the plot charts for Black Halo spin-off and the sequel. I’ve written about four separate projects and scrapped two of them.

I’ve also lost two cars, two family members, and got a clean bill of health from the doctor only to get sick a week after.

A business was started. A business blew up.

I met a woman. The woman and I are no longer speaking.

I witnessed one of my dearest friends marry the love of his life. I thought she hated my guts. I think she likes me now.

A friend or two became doctors. I circled around where I was.

As all of this life passed by me, my mind was stuck in a constant of new projects in mind and like a thorn kept pricking at me whenever I wasn’t working on it. I was running in place with the background of life just scrolling past me like an old cartoon. The transition forward, I figured, wouldn’t really be there until I was done with my next project. Or at least I hope that’s the case.

But it doesn’t change the fact that when I look in the mirror, there are few more wrinkles. When I sort through the memories stored of the last two years, the gap between the person I was and am is obvious. And where others were and at seemed astronomical.

This is not unique. So many other creatives have expressed the same thing in one way or another.

How many of us at this point are still creating because we think this would be the one? The one that’ll justify our choices for us? The one that’ll make our careers? The one that’ll finally satiate our endless pit?

Not many I imagine.

But how many of us are still creating simply because we just want to bring it to life. Into this reality. Make it part of the list of things that happened.

Do something that was totally of our own.

 

The whole endeavor makes me think of being in a relationship.

 

It’s great.

And also fucking sucks.

But also breathlessly remarkable and seductive.

Makes you palpably helpless at times.

Like seeing the sunset for the first time on the beach of an island. You stand in awe at this thing that you know in time will be gone. It’s gradually disappearing over the horizon right before your eyes.

Then it turns dark, cold, rats are running around, and you realize you’re all alone as if the sun was never there.

But the sun rises again and you deal with the abandonment, embracement, and being in awe again when it sets.

One day, maybe, even after the sunset you won’t worry about the sun rising again. It’ll always rise. And it’ll always fall. But that’s okay. Because it’ll rise again.

 


P. S. …Unless you die in your sleep at night and never see it rise again.

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Frayed: a Quick Review of Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi

I’m sitting in front of my computer at 3:30 AM, fresh out of the theaters after watching the latest film of the franchise that had me captured since I was a young boy.

But I can’t tell you the reason for why I decided to share my thoughts before warning you, and I feel the need to warn you as a fan, in big bold caps-locked letters:


DO NOT READ THIS ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET


 

This isn’t simply because of SPOILERS… though there will be a plenty of that I imagine. I’m just writing this as I go.

This is because regardless of my review being positive or negative if you’re a Star Wars fan, you have to see this film without being tainted in any way. Otherwise, it’d be doing injustice to everything this film is trying to accomplish.

Despite its flaws and regardless of fan’s approval, this is a revolutionary film for the Star Wars franchise.

The Last Jedi, not only introduces profound lore elements to Star Wars universe, but also as a film it introduces a new style, tone, mechanics, writing, humor, and even further modernization to the franchise than they did with Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.

However, as revolutionary as this film is, I couldn’t help but get up from my seat  at end wondering how much of the film I actually enjoyed and how much of it… annoyed me. Some reasons I knew why right away but some other I had the chew over on my drive home through the empty freeway in the wee hours of cold December morning.

Anyways. This is a quickie so it’s just me vomiting my thoughts right after the movie. So I ask for your generous understanding for any errors ahead.

The Quick and Dirty

While The Last Jedi may be revolutionary to the franchise in more ways than one, it tries to do too much for a single film and struggles to find a satisfying and perfect execution for most of its endeavors.

It doesn’t leave you with a feeling of witnessing a triumphant victor, but rather, the  feeling of awkward silence of witnessing someone try too hard for too long on stage… and you don’t know when to clap or what to clap for exactly even though you’re pretty sure you’ve enjoyed the overall experience.

CONS

As mentioned, execution of certain elements of the film feels a bit dissatisfying or unfinished.

One that really comes to mind is Kylo’s development as a character. The film does such a wonderful job giving depth to the character for the first two acts, that it’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating for him to become basically an unreasonable villain suddenly in the third act. It felt cheap.

The pacing felt off and because of so many branching sub-plots, the film felt like watching a miniseries rather than a film.

One of the biggest culprit to the pacing is the unnecessary insertions of comedic scenes and kind of “post-Marvel” vibe the film has. Y’know? Like how most Marvel seems can’t take itself seriously so sometimes it’s hard to feel what’s at stake? But it feels more annoying with this film because the tension and magnitude of the greater plot moments are so high that when certain lighter moments, or lesser interesting subplot moments, intrude… it feels like a sudden car crash.

That’s not to say that those scenes are not funny nor that they were always out of place. But many times they felt frustrating and made the film unnecessarily longer than it needed to be.

The very kid friendly comedic relief scenes are a bit odd because it’s unnecessarily treats the entire audience as if they can’t handle any reasonable duration of drama and tension (and yes I understand the target audience is ultimately kids but…)… while some of its plot conveniences are bandaged by insisting to treat the audience with such amount of respect that it expects them to fill in all the holes.

Mentioning plot conveniences…

MIXED BAGS

There’s a recurrence in modern writing of asserting ‘you don’t have to give the audience what they want, you don’t have to tell them everything.’

Which is fine. I think stories can be incredibly enhanced that way.

The Last Jedi did this wonderfully in some regards.

Many audience members may have wanted Rey to have an epic moment regarding her parents and have her parents be some grand part of the Star Wars lore.

She got none of that and it was fantastic. She’s a better child of prophecy type than Anakin ever was.

Better insight into Snoke?

Nope. And that’s awesome.

But there were plot conveniences where it felt like the film was trying to treat it the same way and just comes off as lazy writing. Here’s the top 3 I can recall at the moment:

  1. After developing Snoke as this incredibly powerful being–whose powers include apparently being able to read into Kylo’s deepest thoughts and feelings and even reach out to Rey in similar ways–and just after him even proclaiming that he can see into Kylo’s thoughts and intentions… Kylo can just kill him by surprise like that? He couldn’t sense the lightsabre moving by the force? This is a moment where the audience is supposed to fill in the blanks by, “ahh, it’s because Snoke’s too arrogant” …but instead it just ends up feeling a bit silly and anticlimactic.
  2. Why didn’t the Resistance do the whole cruiser lightspeed kamikaze attack sooner? Or even bring that up for discussion? It seemed incredibly powerful attack. In fact, almost every ship that’s about to be blown up should just do this if they can. I guess this is the part where the audience is supposed to go, “ahh, it’s because had they attempted that sooner the First Order would have suspected something was up…?” But, why wasn’t the actual plan just explained to everyone in the first place? Even Poe would have been fine since he seems to know if there’s cloaking device the First Order wouldn’t know that they’ve escaped. Other than to teach Poe a lesson in being a leader rather than a hero later? Also, how did the girl on the bridge that helped Poe’s mutiny not know about the plan? And was the First Order really out of all TIE fighters or something to chase down the Resistance?
  3. While Luke’s final moments were epic, the execution of it left a bit of sour taste. His death was beautiful, respectful, and an incredible moment in the film. Possibly, one of the most beautiful moments in Star Wars history. But… it also feels like his death was only done because living-Luke had no place anymore in the plot and to keep up with the film’s theme of, “in with the new, gone with the old”.

For formatting reasons (to save your eyes), I’m going to continue my thoughts on Luke here.

Another problem with Luke’s death involves his epic showdown against the First Order.

It was awesome that Luke wasn’t actually there and it was sort of a Force clone of himself instead. It goes to show how incredible Luke became with his force powers and explains how Luke even got to that planet in the first place.

But his death takes away from the grandiosity of his powers because while Luke seemed like he took care of First Order with such ease and demonstrated to Kylo that the master still had his place… in reality the act killed him.

Fine. Maybe that’s just my personal bitterness towards making such a grand act gently a farce.

But the part that I think is a little hilarious is that Poe assumed there had to be an escape route because Luke got into the supposed enclosed building. Poe didn’t know that Luke was an illusion of sort.

I understand the idea is that Luke served his purpose of being “hope” that the Resistance needed.

But given that he was an illusion that appeared out of nowhere, Poe was incredibly lucky not to find those mineral foxes just holed up somewhere deeper in the chasms of the cavern after deciding that following one of those things must lead to how Luke got in.

And what was Luke’s plan exactly? He’ll bide time as the Resistance figure some way to escape? Did Luke know there was even a way to escape?

I guess this is another moment where we’re supposed to fill in the blanks as the audience that ‘Luke knew there was a way through the Force.”

Fine.

Another mixed-bag I had with the film is the further introduction of moral grays in the world Star Wars as we were introduced to in Rogue One.

We find out that vilified weapons dealers who’ve sold weapons to First Order are also the ones selling weapons to the Resistance.

The point of which loses a lot of his sharpness because not only did we just see Finn and Rose probably maim a few of those people and destroy their city (their whole mission feels like a joke at the end) but also because Star Wars makes you feel like the galaxy is a large place and yet not at the same time…

Basically, these weapons dealers are just business people who don’t want to get involved in these political feuds and just continuing on with their business.

Some sort of moral point feels a bit muddied up because it just seems like a statement of fact of sort that business people will do business and we don’t know if they have any reason to be involved in these political feuds other than the fact the film told us that they should care… even though with the introduction of these groups of people and planet… it doesn’t seem like they have to?

Because it sort of could imply that even Snoke had to rub shoulders with the rich and the business folks to get supplies for the First Order?

And it doesn’t help that the film establishes with such ferocity that Resistance is the good guys that it further muddies up what the moral point exactly is supposed to be.

Yes, I get that it supposed to introduce that the world is gray… but unlike Rogue One, it doesn’t even go anywhere with that in this film. The film continues from that little moral statement to demonstrating that First Order is bad, the guy who introduced the moral gray is a dick, and Resistance is struggling and must survive and is supported by all the protagonists.

PROS

I’ve alluded some pros above and I’ll leave those at that.

The action scenes are probably the best it’s ever been in a Star Wars film.

While I didn’t think the whole “arms trade” moral conundrum was done very well, it was still a nice development of Star Wars universe’s morality.

For the first time in Star Wars, the relationships that developed between characters felt complex and organic.

It felt human.

The relationship between Kylo, Rey, Finn, and Rose became surprisingly convoluted, intimate, and mature.

That little look Rey gives to Rose near the end of the film is so hauntingly teasing for what Rey’s feelings must be.

Oh, and the little boy watching the stars at the end, while felt a bit forced of why he’s even in the film in the first place, was a great touch. Not only for demonstrating the theme of the film, but also making the audience feel that Rey and Kylo are also just part of this cycle as Luke and Snoke was.

Anyways. My thought puke seems to be running dry and my eyelids are getting heavier and heavier. I think it’s time for me to take a nap before starting my day.

Oh, and the broken lightsaber was a nice touch as well.

Good night all.

Final Score: 7/10