Friday, November 15, 2002

I'll say it again: Roger Ebert is at his best not when he likes a movie, but when he hates it.

Check out his review of Steven Seagal's latest opus, Half Past Dead.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Mo and Emerson. Always, Emerson and Mo. And this time lugging a baseball bat, gloves and balls in a tangle of teenage limbs up Kenilworth Avenue toward the grass lot behind Julian Middle School. Emerson, about an inch taller, moved like a protaganist in an Atari game: Rigid but quick, with an unexplored range of motion, untapped at an age when things are simply untapped. When there’s always “yet” on his parents lips and sometimes his own lips. “I haven’t touched rim, yet.” Underneath a misleading layer of young chub, Emerson was fierce with muscle and his coordination flourished in sport. At 15, he stood near six feet but was, for the most part, tethered to the earth by a high center of gravity. His hair a misshapen lump of brown. Brow slightly pronounced. Skin fair and lightly freckled. He lurched forward in his striped socks and pump shoes, the bat marking strides with high-pitched clumps on the sidewalk.

And they talked about girls or baseball cards. Both subjects commanded the same wide-eyed fervor. Darcey Haley had asked to borrow Emerson’s chemistry notes from the day she was out sick. He’d handed over the notebook without question, wondering if she’d manufactured the request because she was secretly madly in love with him. As a teenager he’d projected these things and as an unpopular teenager this type of behavior was simply a method of emotional survival. A way to cope with the things that were not so, like Darcy Haley being secretly madly in love with him.

But they’d talk about it, anyway, he and Mo. And the rumors that her big sister had been in an XXX movie only sweetened the dream, even though he was never really sure what the dream was. An expectation of ecstacy and human connection hung abstractly in his consciousness.

But Emerson had fogotten, as he handed over that chemistry notebook, that he’d scrawled these dreams in the college-ruled spaces. Had tested to see how their names looked together. His last name with her first. Her name in doodled shingles in the margin. Stars and hearts and a poem with no beginning or end, really. And this realization inspired both humor and anxiety. He denied that he wanted her to know but intensely wanted her to know. To see what happened next.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

An absolutely hilarious project.

Thanks to Alberto for the link. I haven't laughed so hard in maybe at least like five hours or so ... probably.

Friday, November 01, 2002

By the way, i realize there are some major plot inconsistencies in this story. (Like: Why can the Bombay Twins run into the alley and rescue Krispus when he's supposedly surrounded by a bottomless pit?) I wrote it at work, on the fly. So deal with it.

I wrote this yesterday at work:

It was a dark and stormy night.

Young Krispus Mellon walked swiftly through the dimly-lit back alleys of Murderville on his way to meet the Bombay Twins for a drink and maybe a movie. The brick walkways spread out before him in black and white, and the sulpher glow of the streetlamps dissolved in the thick autumn mist. His footsteps echoed against the apartment walls which flanked his path. But these solitary footsteps were soon joined by another sound. A low grumbling rumble, like the sound of heavy machinery spurting to life in the distance. Or the stomach growls of an overgrown elephant.

Young Krispus Mellon, clad in a tattered black overcoat, wooden shoes and raggedy gray trousers, looked over his shoulder. There was nothing there to focus on. And Krispus continued on his way. His steps faster. His heart just a pace above its normal rhythm. He pulled his overcoat tight across his chest and hunkered his chin down close to his neck. Speeding along to meet the Bombay Twins. Another ten minutes, he thought, and I’ll be sitting with a pint.

His footsteps were alone again.

Krispus Mellon, hands cold and spine stiff, was two blocks from the Port House and his rendezvous with the Bombay Twins. And the noise was gone. Thank goodness, the noise, that ungodly noise was gone and had almost slipped his mind. His steps slowed. The tightness in his muscles gave way. His lips curled and he began to whistle.

And then there it was again. In the middle of the darkest alley in Murderville, the sound began as a low rumble until the ground itself seemed like it would open up and reveal the culprit. Krispus shuffled up against the moist brick wall of a row house and tried to catch his breath. To figure out what was going on and what to do. He could smell burning flesh and heat. Like the breath of a dragon around his neck. But he could see nothing. In the dim gloom, nothing. His fear seemed to darken the world around him and feed itself.

The noise was the same as before, only louder. More menacing. Saying nothing but somehow communicating its nefarious intent. A mechanical gurgle. A monstrous, broken engine underneath the street. Right below the surface. Churning. Building. Krispus finally caught his breath and broke out into a sprint, losing one shoe, then the other. Finally running barefoot over jagged brick as the surface of the earth began to tremble underfoot.

Fifty yards from the end of the alleyway, Krispus could hear voices. Hear them faintly over the sound of his own labored breath and the growing din beneath his feet. He couldn’t muster the air to call out, so he kept running as fast as his bare feeet would carry him toward the glow that signaled an open, public space. A place where he would no longer be alone and tormented by the belching of whatever lurked beneath the streets.

But the bricks began to split and part, revealing spaces of bottomless blackness. Krispus stepped gingerly onto the solid spots on the steadily deteriorating walkway. And the grumbling below was released from the chasm, resonating in the alley’s tight corridor and amplifying exponentially. Krispus’ head turned frantically as he looked for a way out of the chaos that now surrounded him. A way to escape the mechanism of his suffering. Twenty yards from the street and the voices, he was stopped now. The ground offering no reprieve for his struggle. Krispus found himself balancing precariously on a pillar of stone, surrounded by black air and the deafening sound of creeping terror. Twenty yards away was a spot of light. The voices now suspended in his memory, representing his only hope, now drowned out in the cacophany of his impending demise.

He tore off his overcoat and tossed it into the abyss, where it was swallowed in darkness. “Please,” his own words barely audible from his lips. His voice unsteady. “No.”

“Krispus! That you?” It was Yo Bombay, the taller of the Bombay Twins, calling down the corridor. Krispus looked but could see no one. He cried out in a panic, worried the voice he heard was just a mirage. And Yo called back: “That you, man? We can’t see a damn thing in here.”

And Yo’s brother, Kap Bombay, the shorter of the Bombay Twins, yelled “What the hell’s that noise man? Whatchu doin’ down there?” But there was no answer. And they could see nothing. “Hey Krispus.” Fear held them still at the alley’s opening.

But Krispus couldn’t hear them anymore. Before him rose a hulking, beam-shouldered beast with a mouth like a bear trap lined with jagged shavings of steel. The smell of burning flesh was back as the beast breathed heavily into Krispus’ face. Half-muscle, half-metal, the being reared back and emitted an intimidating, mechanical growl. It was the sound of a massive, broken engine. The beast’s red eyes boiled with evil. Krispus swung his arms desparately, but only succeeded in bloodying his hands on the monster’s steel chassis. Krispus bowed his head and accepted his death was near. The beast moved toward him, somehow its torso anchored in the bottomless pit from whence it sprang. Its hinged jaw opened wide enough to swallow a truck. The hot, dead breath beating down on Krispus as he trembled, stuck on the pillar of stone and unwilling to jump and somehow control his demise.

Suddenly, Yo and Kap Bombay, the Bombay Twins, jumped out from the darkness grabbed hold of Krispus. Kap thrust a stun gun into the gut of the beast and its mechanics malfunctioned just as the steel jaw was closing upon Krispus’ head. They took him and ran for their lives. Back the way they came. Out into the street, where they were safe.

“That was close,” Yo said with relief. “I thought for sure-”

But something was wrong. In the group of breathless lungs, there was one missing. Kap let go and Krispus fell forward into the pavement. His head was gone.