Short Story: The Devil & Me (Part 2)

10 Years & 7 months Old

O’ Where art thou, my lord?

My king. My savior. My hope.

I’ve asked and received not.

I’ve sought and found not.

And I’ve knocked and still find myself trapped in this rot.

Or was the fly the answer for what I’ve been asking.

The savior that I’ve been seeking.

The angel that you’ve sent to hark my knocking.

Am I supposed to know my lord of your words in silence?

Or am I supposed to find faith in his words that answered?

It was a little something written by Suzie Lee and it was meant to be for her eyes only. But Beelzebub decided to take it off her hands and read it as Suzie watched from her bed.

“I know it’s a mish-mash of Shakespeare and something you probably heard somewhere on TV and church—but not bad. Not bad for a ten-year-old” Beelzebub remarked. “But ‘Hark‘? Is that word being used correctly here?”

Suzie shrugged.

It had been a long while since she had seen Beelzebub. To the devil’s surprise, the girl only seemed a bit startled when he appeared from the corner of her room.

Beelzebub thought the room was quite an ordinary room for a ten-year-old girl who summoned the devil. Books, dolls, a desk, and a bed. The walls were painted pink.

“How you doing, kid? Been a while.” Beelzebub sat by Suzie on the bed. “That’s mean. I know you’re not all sunshines right now, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”

From the living room below, there was a gentle rumble of noise that’d come and go as if it was the palpitations of the house. Every once in a while either a male or a female voice would shred through the rumble and you’d be able to make out a word or two. And sometimes, both would scream and stomp and Suzie would get embarrassed that perhaps she wasn’t alone as she felt and others would find out. Or maybe they already knew.

“Why didn’t you come back since then? People didn’t believe me,” Suzie asked with a little trace of sorrow.

“Are you mad?” Beelzebub asked playfully. “You know people would literally kill to have me show up. And look at you. Not a drop of blood on you. No goats. No lambs. No virgins. Nada. I should be the one that’s mad!”

“No, I’m not mad,” Suzie answered with a smile. The devil smiled back.

“I figured you were probably busy. Probably doing some important stuff.”

“And I was,” Beelzebub walked by the room’s door.

Suzie’s mom raised her voice. Then the dad raised his even higher.

“Do they ever just go at it?” Beelzebub asked.

“You… are not an angel are you?” Suzie carefully asked. “What’s your name?”

“I’m an angel,” Beelzebub answered. Suzie’s eyes widened. “Though not the kind that you may mean. Name’s Beelzebub.”

“They do. They used to hide it before,” Suzie decided to answer the devil’s after all though she seemed a little confused by what Beelzebub meant. “Can I call you Beezy?”

No. No you may not,” Beelzebub replied.

“Why?” Suzie asked.

Beelzebub chose not to answer.

An awkward silence wafted across the room.

“I feel like I started it,” Suzie finally confessed.

“Why?”

“I said something. They started arguing. And then mom said something about this is why I lie about you. And I said you were real. Then they started fighting.”

“Ah,” Beelzebub made his way back to Suzie’s bed and sat next to her once again.

“I didn’t even get to finish my lasagna,” Suzie buried her face into her knees.

“So, that’s why you called for me?” Beelzebub’s eyes lit up a bit. “Not the lasagna but because of your parents?”

The child didn’t answer.

“Well, I’m flattered that you’ve thought of me but just so we’re clear. I’m not working for Him,” Beelzebub pointed up. “Whatever you and I decide to do—it’ll be between just you and I.”

“I see,” Suzie’s eyes were moist and left spots on her pants.

“Promise your soul and I’ll make sure your parents stay together,” Beelzebub stood and offered his hand with a grin.

Suzie stared at the devil in silence. Contemplating his offer. The moment lasted long enough for Beelzebub to feel a bit awkward.

“No,” the girl finally answered.

No?”

“No. I think it’ll be better for them if they just got divorced,” Suzie wiped away her tears. “It’ll make me sad and I’ll miss having them both very much but it’s what’s best. That’s not why I called you anyway.”

“So what did you call me for then?” Beelzebub sat back down again.

“I just wanted to see again that you were real,” Suzie paused. “And…”

“And?”

“And I didn’t want to be alone.”

Tears begin to flow down Suzie’s face again. There was a period of time after her infancy where Suzie refused to cry. Even as a child she felt embarrassed and, without being able to form the words for it, Suzie felt like it was a sign of weakness.

Even when she had sand kicked in her face.

Even when she saw her little crush hold hands with another girl.

Or even when her mom and dad said something mean—Suzie refused to cry.

But as she grew older, Suzie found crying easier and more natural. There were more things to cry about than when she was younger. Reasons that she’d never have imagined as a child and types of pain that life can dish out that a young child couldn’t have known.

Life became more complicated and painful as she learned to interpret it. A baby mumbles. A child speaks. An adult expresses. All came at a cost.

But to her credit, crying would be a rare and private affair for Suzie for the rest of her life.

“Is that going to cost me my soul?” Suzie asked.

“Not today,” Beelzebub conceded.

“Well,” Beelzebub thought for a moment. “Unless you want to give me your soul for the lasagna?”

“No,” Suzie giggled. “Why do you want my soul anyway?”

“More the merrier at my kingdom.”

“At Hell?”

“Hell’s got a pretty bad PR but it’s not what you think,” Beelzebub rubbed Suzie’s head.

“Uh huh,” Suzie brushed away the devil’s hand.

“Why don’t I just tell you a bedtime story so you can fall asleep and I can be on my way.”

“Okay,” Suzie made her way underneath her blanket.

“I’m going to tell you about…” Beelzebub thought carefully about what would be a good bedtime story for a young girl. “…Ghengis Khan. He was fun. Wait till I tell you about what he did with babies.”

“Okay,” Suzie seemed gleeful.

“Hey, Beelzebub?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s a PR?”

∗∗∗

 

About three years ago, Michael the Archangel visited Beelzebub’s bar in Hell called The Center after the devil visited the mortal realm to meet Suzie for the first time.

“Brother,” Michael spoke with heavenly grace and paternal stern. “We need to talk.”

“No,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink. “No, we really don’t.”

Other patrons of the bar slowly excused themselves as the gold-haired archangel stared down Beelzebub.

“You know the rules, brother mine,” A seat next to Beelzebub was open but Michael chose to stand. “And you’ve broken them. Why?”

“You see,” Beelzebub clicked his tongue. “You see, Mikey, I don’t relly need to tell you a goddamn thing.”

Michael cringed at Beelzebub taking the Father’s name in vain.

“You have a problem? He has a problem?” Beelzebub walked over to Michael. The devil took a moment to take in the archangel’s anachronistic white robe before grabbing Michael’s hand and folding the archangel’s fingers into a fist.

“Kill me,” Beelzebub said as he placed his forehead on the archangel’s knuckles. “Do it.”

“Don’t be childish, brother,” Archangel lowered his hand.

Beelzebub chuckled. He gave nervous Binkle a look and sat back down. He sipped on his drink and stared at the TV.

The archangel stood and waited for the devil.

“Y’know,” Beelzebub remained focused on the TV. “Your brothers down here and I often wonder why you and Father let us live. Do you even know?”

“I follow His will. I trust that He knows best,” Michael answered.

“So you want to kill us?”

“No, brother. I have no malice in my heart for you and the others. Only pity.”

Pity,” Beelzebub scoffed and downed his drink. He waved Binkle at for another who glanced at the archangel as he served his master a vodka tonic.

“Get him a juice box or something,” Beelzebub told Binkle.

“You…” Binkle cleared his throat. “…You want a juice box?”

Michael stared Binkle for a moment. Binkle wasn’t sure if his heart had stopped for a moment because of the sheer beauty of the archangel or the fearsome power he posed.

“Yes,” Michael answered. “Do you have the Berry Blast?”

“…Do you have money?” Binkle asked.

“Do you think he has money?” Beelzebub snapped. “Does that robe look like it has pockets? Just put it on my tab.”

Binkle came around the bar and gave the archangel his juice box with the bendy straw. The archangel still refused to sit.

“What is it that you want to do for the girl, Beelzebub? For the humans?” Michael asked after a sip.

“I ANSWER THEM,” Beelzebub finally turned away from the TV. “I. Answer. Their. Prayers. What do you do? When was the last time you were there for them, Michael?”

“It’s not our position to interfere,” Michael placed the juice box on the bar table. “It is against what’s best for them.”

“What’s best for them? Okay,” Beelzebub stood and faced the archangel again. “What do you know what’s best for them? Whatever He told you was best for them? Where were you when a kid prayed for his mother to be saved as he watched her being beaten, raped and then chopped off limb by limb? Where were you when the parents are crying for His grace as their baby dies? Where–”

“Do NOT question my love for them brother!” Michael interrupted the devil. “DO NOT THINK FOR A SECOND THAT I DO NOT FEEL THE PAIN FOR THEIR SUFFERING!”

“THEN TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM BEING HAPPY!”

By now, the bar was empty. There was only Binkle, Beelzebub, and Michael. Binkle slowly descended below the bar table and held his knees tight and hoped that he’d make it through the day.

“Why can’t they just live happy lives? Why can’t we just help them have happy lives? What’s the point? Why all this? Isn’t being happy enough? Suffering will happen anyway so why not let them be as happy as they can be?” Beelzebub asked after what Binkle thought was too long of a silence.

“The meaning of their lives isn’t happiness,” Michael answered. “Life isn’t about being happy. You’ve never understood that Beelzebub.”

“Or I understand fine and you and Him are just wrong,” After a short staring contest, Beelzebub sat backdown.

“Humans,” Beelzebub grabbed a nacho that Binkle had prepared for him earlier. “I don’t think even he knows what he has spawned.”

“Hold your tongue brother.”

“I AM THE PROOF OF HIS FLAWS,” Beelzebub threw the basket of nachos. “Otherwise, why am I the way I am?”

“Or you’re part of his plans,” Michael calmly replied.

Jesus,” Beelzebub spat and switched his attention back to the TV. “We are the ones who can provide salvation to His slaves. All of us here are proof that something was wrong with His plans. We’re here because we want to show Him that we don’t need someone like Him. We choose to be free. Even if the cost is losing Him.”

There was no point in talking to the devil. Their conversations were echoes from the many similar conversations of the past.

“Answer me, Beelzebub,” Michael said as he headed for the exit. “What is love to you?”

“What is love?” Beelzebub didn’t turn to look at his angelic brother even as he left. “You tell me.”

“Something beyond happiness. Something beyond the present.”

The door closed behind the archangel.

The devil sipped on his drink as he turned up the volume of the TV.

His bartender placed in front of him some olives

There would be no other customers that evening.

Last drinks were served.

The TV turned off.

And the two retired quietly into the night.



 

Re-reading Part 2 to post on the blog reminded me why I ultimately didn’t push forward with this project when I was working on it.

While I’ll save all of my comments until the end for those who may be enjoying it so far, a short answer is a sort of a writer’s block that I got distracted away from when I had other projects come up.

And just for the record, these are un-edited so it might be rough in some parts and probably would have benefited quite a bit from going through the refinery i.e. an editor as all writing stuff tends to do.

Thanks for reading!

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Sometimes, I’m just late.

Part 2 of The Devil & Me is planned for tomorrow. It’s a couple of days late than I would have liked to have posted (as mentioned we’re shooting for Mondays).

If you haven’t already, check out:

The Devil and I2

 

Part 1

 

Thank you for reading & understanding.

 


 

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a Quick Review: Avengers: Infinity War

avengers-infinity-war-et00073462-02-04-2018-09-21-43

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.

avengers-infinity-war-movie

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.

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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Thoughts on Blade Runner 2049

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It’s funny.

There was a thought that I chewed over about a week before seeing Blade Runner 2049 (henceforth, Blade Runner 2).

I was sitting on the toilet and wondered—with enough self-awareness that I may seem like I had a bit of the stinky grass—

“Does your life end when there are no memories left or does it actually end if there are no moments left ahead that’ll be worth remembering?”

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Where great things happen.

That thought was a byproduct of a dream I had the night before.

A dream of arriving at a hotel in the middle of the desert. In the hotel, murky, emerald water slowly rose at a steady pace. And like the few other occupants of this soon-to-be corpse aquarium, a wide-grin stretched across my face. I was so jubilant as the water slowly crept up above my lips sucking in its last breath. And I woke up in serene tranquility and felt enigmatically liberated.

Thinking back, I don’t really remember the transition from my white porcelain thinking chair to the gas station ran by an elderly Russian couple.

Getting gas was an excuse to be there; buying a lotto ticket was the true goal. I was convinced that the dream meant something. Something good. Maybe I wanted the money in some vain attempt at ensuring worthwhile memories in the future.

The urge was a ridiculous conviction probably deriving from my mother who believes in these sorts of superstitions. And as much as I persist away and criticize her for her unjustifiably-believing-in-supernatural-causation ways, I couldn’t help but buy that lotto.

The old man kept telling me, “This is the winning ticket!”

As if he knew of my dream.

“Bring me back just five dollars if you win!”

He kept asking me for that five dollars as I walked out.

It’s not that I thought I’d win—though I thought might. It just that felt like the event of the day that I had to make happen in reality.

Anyways.

If it wasn’t clear, this isn’t a review for the film.

It’s a blotch of my take on a film that made me want to share my thoughts on it enough to dust off this blog. So I’ll just do a quick run-through of the review-y things and move on.

Obviously, there will be spoilers.

Also, I’ve seen the film only once in theaters as I’m writing this piece.

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Score: 7.5/10 

The film is a bit longer than it needs to be. There are moments where subtlety is thrown out the window and the film feels condescending to the intended audience. Or, perhaps, the film wasn’t really certain who the audience was going to be. While all the performances are strong, not all characters ends up being fleshed out. The final act of the film felt too convenient at times. With all that said, Joe (Ryan Gosling) is one of the most well-developed characters I’ve seen in a long while and viewers caring for the character’s ending is the film’s greatest testament to its endeavors.

Do you need to see the previous film?

No. Absolutely not. It’ll add a lot to the experience but the film can completely stand on its own. You don’t need to know who Rachel or Rick Deckard are.

Did I think Joi in the China Dress was gorgeous?

Yes. Of course, I did. We all did, damn it. Why would you ask such a question all of a sudden?

Does the film have the same depth as the first film?

I enjoyed the first film immensely but never thought it had that great of philosophical depth as many of the cult followers would suggest.

However, I thought Blade Runner 2 had much more interesting pieces in play that provided a more substantial conversation for the topic it wanted to explore.

I’ve read some internet chatter that the film is a discussion of the philosophy of identity. Personally, I think that’s a bit off-mark.

The film is more like a simple program sequence to test the philosophy of being human. Each of the main characters is a different variable raising certain questions, and consequently, becoming a case of an anthropomorphic discussion of what it means to be human.

Joe

Joe (Ryan Gosling)

Protagonist for this film is one that I personally found most interesting in recent years. There are many ways the character could have gone wrong. Many ways where the lead character would have kept us bored and frustrated by design.

Joe, aka a serial number he goes by through most of the film that I can’t remember and apparently am too lazy to look up, is supposed to be as emotionless a person could be.  That’s how he was built and if he acts otherwise it’s considered a malfunction and due for termination.

The movie opens up with him killing a fellow replicant with a recognition that he’s taking a life-of-sorts but doing so without an inkling of hesitation. Joe does his job well and with frigidness expected by his masters.

Great, the audience may think. Is he one of those “stoic, aloof, always-too-cool, killing machine” types?

And we’re certainly led to believe that until we see another side of Joe in the scenes that follow afterward.

The film had convinced us at this point that Joe is a badass replicant Blade Runner. But as he walks through his precinct, his fellow human officers are blatantly hostile to Joe. And Joe, unlike the tough killer we’ve seen him with the giant, brawny replicant (Dave Bautista), retracts into being a young boy bullied by his schoolmates.

This is the first step we see the film developing Joe into a human being in the audience’s minds.

In the end, Joe dies. Well, at least I like to believe that he died as it gives the movie the most poetic finish. And the audience cares because the film had successfully convinced us that he was a person. A person who’ve felt something, who’ve lived a life with happiness and pain, and a person the loss of whom was a loss on all of us who’ve gotten to know him.

Joe, in a sense, is an appreciation of a life of being human. A rough and succinct definition of being human.

A replicant near the end of the film tells Joe along the lines of: “Isn’t dying for something the most human thing that you can do?”

They tell him this as they comission Joe to kill Deckard to prevent any chance of having their plans foiled.

But Joe had found something hauntingly more human than the other replicants could ever know. He understood the intimate, selfish, and devastatingly powerful relationship of a parent and a child. A relationship tied by blood and birth of life.

He chose that human relationship over a revolution and ideals of his species. Even after he realized he had only experienced the bond and its definitions artificially.

In other words, to give Deckard and his child a chance to celebrate that relationship, Joe sacrificed everything that he had left of his past, everything that could have been his future, and even his own chance of having a father and being a child.

In some sense, Joe’s appreciation of parent-child relationship probably exceeded that of many humans who take it for granted. Both ways.

 

Joi

Joi (Ana de Armas)

Joi became my favorite character after thinking about the film and the topic at hand.

She’s an A. I. hologram that’s so sophisticated that she fools you into thinking that she’s human.

But isn’t she human?

At what point does an A. I. stop being just lines of codes and pre-programmed responses to having enough of those to be human?

It reminds me of the old Chinese room thought experiment.

To simply put, if you tell a computer to translate a word in Chinese to English or vice-versa, does it actually understand the languages and the definitions it’s translating or is it simply mimicking the ability to understand?

When Joi flirts with Joe, feels intimacy with Joe, asks Joe about his day, does she actually understand what she’s doing or is it something else?

If an A. I. has enough responses, can create enough responses for any particular and peculiar types of situations, does it eventually reach the point of being human?

Or does it still lack the fundamental consciousness, the awareness of understanding the responses, to be considered human?

Before Joi ‘dies’ in the film she tells Joe one of the most powerful, mysterious, and most human phrase one could communicate to another.

“I love you.”

But as her memory stick is crushed under Luv’s (Sylvia Hoeks) feet—effectively killing her—Luv tells devastated Joe, “I hope you’ve enjoyed our product”.

Next time Joe meets Joi is in the city.

She’s not his Joi but an advertisement for other Jois for willing customers. She can be whatever they want her to be.

She was whatever he wanted her to be.

We don’t know what Joe’s thinking as the ad speaks to him. Seeing his once properly dressed wife being offered as almost a sex object for lonely city dwellers.

Maybe he’s regretting ever have fallen for her.

Maybe he’s reconsidering what a relationship even means. A very artificial and invented relationship of the future versus the primal relationship that Joe felt he had when he thought he was a child with a parent and not a product that was born without one. And the camaraderie of a romantic relationship Joe felt with Joi as a real human would with a loved one.

Maybe he’s now just understanding true loneliness.

He and the other customers like him aren’t anything special from the perspective of those who are providing Joi for them. Though to many of them, their Joi would be their one and only Joi.(No pun intended)

Oddly, this does sound awfully similar to how one may view their exes after a break-up.

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I recall a class discussion about a picture of a unicorn. When you think of a picture of a unicorn you’re not thinking of a unicorn but a picture of it. And if you’ve never seen a unicorn in real life, then that’s all a unicorn is to you.

But if a unicorn doesn’t exist—and as far as I know it does not though I wonder what made narwhals so special—does it really matter if that picture is all you have for a unicorn?

Or is our quest to define the unicorn properly, after a certain point, simply our desire to quench the need to be as intricate as possible with our definitions.

Because at the end of the day, what good is a reality if our definitions of it are as blurry and undetermined as that of a dream.

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Niander Wallace (Jared Leto)

Beauty of the character comes from the fact that his shame for being a mere human manifests not necessarily with melodramatic monologues but from his appearance and demeanor.

A man who invented replicants, a superior species in his mind, is a mere human.

To escape from his own mediocrities and failings he augmented his physical attributes with cybernetics and perhaps the insecurity is also a quiet motivation for him to play Jesus for a species that he doesn’t belong to.

His mannerisms are probably the most inhuman of anyone in the film. Though oddly frustrating to watch at times, Wallace was memorable in his own right.

But I’ve mentioned earlier that there are characters that don’t end up being really fleshed out.

This is a big one.

I never felt like he did anything to contribute to the film other than being the mysterious, all-powerful villain. Not to mention my general distaste for characters that I can’t ever imagine functioning in normal social settings. But I guess that’s a bit of an oxymoron to the praises I gave the character just a few lines above.

Niander Wallace is one of those guys you meet at parties who use eloquence and Oxford vocabularies to go on spiels to exude their supposed intelligence but never… really does anything to demonstrate it in a meaningful way.

Since he’s a movie villain he gives his monologues menacingly and hides in bad lighting to be frightening while throwing in a good literal stab here and there to remind the audience that this guy is cold-blooded corporate of the dystopian future personified.

But he feels surprisingly one note and it’s a note of cliche. Like a guy who sings Don’t Stop Believing at a karaoke and is pretending to be ironic about it because he’s so aware how overdone the song is at karaoke.

A human that’s the least human of them all. I wish there could have been a more discussion in the film regarding this character but the film was already almost 3 hours long. So I digress.

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Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford)

The straight man of the film. Almost unnecessary for it to be Deckard but is Deckard to provide us an intimate connection to the first film and for the fans to finally get some answers after all these years.

I only mention Deckard because I was the fan of the first film and he can’t go on unmentioned when discussing Blade Runner 2. Though integral to the central plot of the film, Deckard himself doesn’t really play a big role per say. Deckard could have been replaced with a completely original character and the film would have been no different.

He adds to the discussion of what it means to be human by being the father figure who sacrificed everything to fulfill his duty as a father.

In many ways, Deckard is also the most human character we meet in this world of humans living in urban destitute, humans that simply digressed to their functions, and beings that are up for debate whether or not they’re human.

There’s a lot the film does to connect Deckard to nature. Something closer to what humans once were compared to the world we see portrayed.

He’s found through his connection to a wooden artifact—a rare material in this bleak future.

He has bee farms and raises a dog.

He shows a variety of emotions and connection to history in a very unsubtle ways that unfold in the film.

Also, his daughter is first seen observing a rain forest.

All that and more is what makes Deckard the straight man to the film. The most identifiable character to the audience and perhaps the last bastion of humanity in the dystopian future while ironically also perhaps being the key to the end of it simply by being a father.


There are other explorations in the film that are probably worthy of discussion.

The religious notes, the dystopian future, and why no one else other than Joe seems to drive.

But for me, the main exploration of the film was being human; what it means to be human.

The level of quality of the film dawned upon me actually days after I saw it. I realized it when I found myself having intriguing conversations about the film with my date days after we watched it together. While engaging debates about the film with friends as we had lunch. And even finding myself engaging in fresh discussions with people at my gym.

There’s a lot more I wish I could gush out about the film. Perhaps I wrote this blog after not having written anything in so long because I just wanted to share my thoughts and have even more conversation about it.

Is this a film that was groundbreaking in terms of how it presented its topics? No.

Were there other films that have done it better? As one can infer from above, arguably yes.

But is it a film that’s worth watching and perhaps rewatching? Definitely. Especially for those with a creative itch and an eye candy itch. I’d considerBlade Runner 2 as much of a classic as its predecessor.

By the way, I won nothing from that lotto.

Sorry, old man.

Maybe the next ticket.

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Minor Gripes + Praises

  • ( – ) Maybe I’m getting old but the fonts were small. I get it’s stylish but they were so damn small.
  • ( – ) It’s never established how strong Joe is through the film. The film sort of misleads the audience into believing that Luv was perhaps particularly strong even for Joe’s standards given how surprised Joe seems to be at how she opened the archive door. But as my date pointed out, perhaps he’s just surprised because he expected her to be a mere secretary? But the movie really doesn’t prepare people for the fact that Joe starts running through walls near the 3rd act of the film. Not to mention how he ends up killing Luv seems a bit farfetched given what was established. But perhaps that was a testament to Joe being human and demonstrating the majesty of the human will or something. I don’t know.
  • ( + ) The film has more than simple nods to the previous film in regards to how cleverly it incorporates the world the franchise built in the early 80s into the imagining of the same world in the late 2010s.
  • ( + ) I like how they included a variety of cultures and languages intermixed in this imagining of LA… even if it felt a bit nonsensical at times.  In fact, there are some choices that just seemed nonsensical in general. Like what was up with the sex statues?

ARAMIRU OUT AND OFF TO GO DREAM OF UNICORNS AND SHEEPS

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