Worlds & Time

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lex and Lia: Loss

Sexual Content Warning, if you care about stuff like that.

Alex carefully watched Lia, and when he was sure that she was asleep, he put on his jacket and slipped out of the building.

“The drag” was between rows of warehouses. A set of streetlights ran down the center of the unfinished median, so that customers could see the merchandise along the edges, and then retreat into the darkened side streets for the transactions.

It had just been chance, that the apartment that he had found was so close to the drag. Or at least this version of the drag. There was another one for the female hookers, and there was another area for more “exotic” tastes.

Alex had been nervous all day, but for the last few days he hadn’t even managed to get someone to listen seriously to him, and the money was running out. Rent was due again in only a few days, and he needed more time to find a job. There had to be something out there to do.

He licked his lips as he saw the lights of the drag, and then he turned the corner.

There were a few guys standing around, some of them in the light, and some standing in the shadows of the buildings. There were a few cars, trolling back and forth, stopping beside one of the boys. They would talk for a few moments, and then the kid would either get into the car, or the driver would move on, looking for something more his tastes.

Alex hadn’t worried about what to wear. The t-shirt and the jeans were all that he had. Some of the boys wore tighter pants, but Alex realized that he didn’t look entirely out of place. The only thing was, they moved differently than he did. Alex noticed things like that, after the years on his own. To them, it was no big thing anymore. This was their workday.

Alex moved into the light, and started walking along the alley, and tried not to think about what he was doing. If it was daytime, and he was walking home to Lia, everything would be okay. All he had to do was pretend that nothing was going to happen.

With his hands in his pockets, he pulled the jacket tighter, trying to pretend that he was cold.

The guys walking the drag looked up at them as he passed. Some of them looked really young, babies compared to him. The youngest ones, the ones that were fourteen or fifteen, were the ones wearing the most colorful outfits, and Alex couldn’t look them in the eyes. They were Lia’s age.

Two of the older guys stepped out of the shadows. The first one was nothing special. He might have been around Alex’s age, or maybe a year or two older. He was thin, with blondish hair.

The other guy was out of place. He was Hispanic, with slick back hair, wearing a thin black wife beater, showing off a set of arms as big around as Lia’s waist. He looked like he spent all day in a gym.

Alex’s eyes flickered around. The other guys trying to work the strip were looking away, and some had stepped back into the shadows.

“Who are you?” the big guy asked.


The big guy reached out as he approached, and gave Alex a shove, sending him sprawling backward in the street.

“You’re on our turf,” the thin one said. “You can’t work the drag without permission. Can he, Cali?”

“Nope,” the big guy said, and kicked him in the side. Alex gasped, and curled up into a ball.

“Stop!” he shouted as Cali drew his leg back again. The kick never came. “How do I get permission?”

“We’ve got a smart one here,” the thin one said. “You want to talk with Martin.” He pronounced it “Marteen.”

“Are you Martin?”

The thin one laughed. “I’m Crazy K. But you look like Martin’s type.”

Cali grabbed his jacket and pulled him to his feet. Alex’s eyes were still watering with pain.

Crazy K pointed, and when Alex didn’t step forward right away Cali bent his wrist and forced Alex forward.

There was a light in this alley, and Crazy K knocked a few times on the door, and then opened it. Cali pushed Alex again, making him stumble over the step into the room.

Alex had expected a warehouse with boxes, but he found himself in a red office.

Everything was crimson. The large desk to his right was stained a brilliant ochre, and the walls were hung with a blood red fabric that gleamed like velvet. Aside from the desk, there were couches, three of them in varying cherry hues, and a few chairs.

There was a kid on the couch closest to Alex. He was on the younger side, and he had dark hair. His eyes were closed and his mouth was open slightly, and his arm dangled down to the floor. He looked almost like he was asleep. Alex noted that his pants were unbuttoned and felt his stomach tighten.

“Who is this?” a voice like butter said. Alex’s attention shifted up and he found himself looking at a man, dressed entirely in red and black. The clothing looked old, like he’d stepped out of a history book or a costume party. He had long hair, pulled back in a ponytail, and pale skin.

“I’m Lex,” he bit out. This was Martin, it had to be. And Martin had the most interesting eyes that Lex had ever seen. You kept eye contact on the street to challenge, but looking into Martin’s eyes he couldn’t look away. Martin was so perfect looking, so powerful, that Alex just needed to look at him.

“He wanted to work the street,” Crazy K said.

Martin flicked his wrist, and Crazy K was suddenly gone, leaving Martin, Alex, and the unconscious boy on the couch alone.

“You a runaway, Lex?” Martin asked. He had an accent, but Alex didn’t know it.

“Yeah,” he said, and it was the truth.

“You need money?”


“And so you came out to the drag? Why did you come all of the way out there?”

“I couldn’t find another job, and the rent is due in a few days.”

“Oh, that’s terrible!” Martin said, and Alex felt so embarrassed. He’d resorted to selling himself to make the rent. Martin must think that he was such a pathetic failure. He lowered his eyes, tearing up.

“Don’t cry!” Martin said, and he reached out, raising Alex’s chin. His skin was cold to the touch, as though he’d been outside only moments before. “Don’t cry little brother. You can work for me. Wouldn’t you like that?”

Alex nodded. Working for Martin would be so wonderful, and he could keep his apartment and protect Lia, and everything would work out.

“Let me see you, little brother,” said Martin and his fingered Alex’s coat.

“You want me to . . . get naked? In here?”

“Don’t you want to let me see you, Lex?”

Alex did. He unzipped the coat, Martin pointed to one of the empty couches, and Alex let it drop. He pulled off the t-shirt, underneath, and for the first time realized how warm it was in the office. He let that fall on the couch as well. He kicked off his sneakers, and then peeled off his socks, scrunched them up, and stuffed them in his sneakers.

He reached for the button of his jeans, and stopped, frozen. Martin had taken a step back, but his eyes seemed to be everywhere.

“Are you nervous, little brother?”

Alex nodded. He wanted to say something, but his teeth were so tightly pressed together he thought his jaw would break.

“Don’t be nervous, little brother. After all, if you want work for me, you’ll have to do more than this.”

Alex took a deep breath, and undid the button. With one motion he pulled down his pants, and the shorts underneath, and then stepped out of them, leaving himself naked in the middle of the room.

Martin released his breath, almost like a sigh. “See, that’s not bad, is it Lex?”

Lex shook his head.

Martin moved forward slowly, and caressed Alex’s cheek with his hand, and Alex shivered.

“What do you want to do, Alex?”

“I . . . want to please you.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful. And what would you do to please me?”


Martin’s hands slid down his sides, still as cold as ice. Alex wanted them to warm up soon, but he couldn’t say anything. Martin wanted Alex to please him.


Alex struggled to agree, but again he felt himself at a loss for words.

“Lie on the couch.”

Alex walked to the couch, feeling his body flaunt itself in Martin’s vision, and lay down in it. It was so soft, and upholstered in velvet, just like the walls. Martin walked with him, keeping his hand gently on Alex’s skin the entire time, and kept their eyes locked together.

“I’m so hungry,” Martin whispered to him. “So hungry.”

He ran his cold hands up and down Alex and Alex shivered again. Then he smiled, and there was something wrong with his teeth. He bent down as though he was going to kiss Alex, but his face slid past Alex’s.

There was a sharp pain in Alex’s neck.

And then a blistering realization hit him. He was lying naked in this sicko’s office and the guy was biting his neck.

Martin’s hand was still running over Lex’s body, and Lex caught it in his and twisted it as hard as he could. Martin pulled away, surprised, and Lex pushed him back as hard as he could.

Martin stumbled back and Lex sat up, furious. Martin’s eyes were wide with shock, and down somewhere deep inside Lex felt something bubble up, some desire for Martin even now. He was so beautiful . . .

No. His teeth were fangs. He was a vampire. Lex had seen enough bad horror movies to know that. Lex shook his head, and forced the emotions down. Martin gasped. “Lex!”

The wooden desk rose off the floor. Martin looked at it, and then back at Lex. “You want to please me!” Martin said, almost desperately.

Lex frowned, biting his lip. It wasn’t just Martin in his head, and that made him even angrier. The desk rocketed forward, snapping computer cables like they were threads and slamming directly into Martin, crashing into the wall.

Lex held the desk there for a moment, then pulled it back and slammed it forward again, and the desk splintered. Then he let it fall to the floor and Martin slumped forward over it, bloody.

Papers thrown from the desk were still settling when there was a knock on the door. Cali poked his head in. His eyes widened as he saw the mess and Martin, and he pushed the door all of the way open and rushed forward. Lex’s first instinct was to cover himself, causing him to flinch away from the charging guard.

Less that a step from Lex, Cali was caught back, like he’d been caught by an invisible net. He rose onto his tip toes, gasping for breath, and stood there for a moment before being thrown backward.

He fell to the left of the door, knocking his head against the wall where the desk had been only moments before, and slumped to the floor unconsciousness.

Lex turned and saw Crazy K standing in the door, his face white. Lex raised his hand, but Crazy turned at ran before he could do anything.

Then he was alone again. He waited, but none of the other boys came to find out what was going on, so he slipped forward and slammed the door shut.

Where Martin had bitten him was bleeding slightly, but Alex ignored that. He quickly pulled his clothes back on, tied his shoes up, and then ran from the building.

The lights running up and down the drag were still lit, and now Alex could see that the full moon had risen in the sky. There was no one in sight. All of the boys had scattered, and the drivers had vanished with them.

Again, Alex found himself running home in the middle of the night.

This time there was no pretense of silence. He took the stairs two at a time, and clattered through the door, and then slammed it shut behind him, terrified. He leaned against it, like someone was going to come bursting in behind him, and quickly slid the locks into place.

He was gasping for breath, but stood there, leaning against the door until he was sure that there was no one behind him.

He slumped down on the couch, but he didn’t undress. Instead he took his thin blanket and wrapped it around his clothed form as tightly as he could.

It wasn’t until the next morning that he discovered that Lia was gone.



You people that live along the coast take fog for granted, probably in the same way that I take the huge blue cloudless sky for granted most of the time.

My mother and I were driving home from a CD release party, and on the highway we suddenly hit a patch of fog.

You don’t see a lot of fog in Santa Fe, or New Mexico in general. As we reached home, it became thicker and thicker until you could barely see the road ahead of you. When we reached the gravel, we stopped and I got out to walk the rest of the way. My neck hurts when we go over the bumps in the unpaved section of the road.

I would say that there’s something magical about the fog, but that would be clichéd, so let me say instead that there is something personal about it. As it surrounds you and cuts you off from the rest of the world, as it hides all of the familiar sights from view, it brings you in contact with yourself.

That sounds mystical and odd, but what I mean is that most people are reactive. Something occurs, and you react to it. When the fog is obscuring everything, you don’t have as much to react to. Whatever is in your mind sort of bubbles to the top.

I think that most people would find it very creepy to be alone on a road at night, especially when the fog is covering everything and the only light is coming from the moon. It sounds like a scene in the middle of thriller movie, a little bit.

I didn’t think that after the first few moments. Everything was so peaceful, and even though the road and the houses looked completely different, I knew that it was familiar.

Speaking of sounds, everything is muffled a bit. It’s not quite gone, but it has to struggle through the air a bit, so most things have faded into a dull half-silence. Since it is so hard to go anyplace, the sounds that you make tend to be loud. I do a sort of shuffle step to make sure of my footing, and it echoed around when I moved.

A couple of times though, I just stopped, just to listen to the silence. The peacefulness of it is nearly overhwhelming.

The only thing that was completely different was the smell. Fog brings with it this pervasive wet smell. I know that in New York or Washington State, that smell eventually becomes moldy and sickening, but in New Mexico it will never have enough time to do that. By tomorrow it will all be melted off in the morning light, and in a few days things will be as dry as ever.

So the wet smell is very fresh. It’s not as sharp as the smell of rain, but it’s not thin like the air on the top of a mountain. It was very delicate in its own way, and very special.

If I lived in a place where it was like that all of the time, I’m sure that someday I would become so accustomed to it that I would find it blasé, but having been basically confined to my room for the winter, it was just amazing.

The fog isn’t the only thing that was really nice today.

During the concert, I was looking around with my eyes. There was this spotlight that focused on the stage that I could see easily if I leaned my whole body back heavily against the chair and straightened my back.

I already knew that it was dusty because I was completely closing up: my eyes were watering heavily, my nose was filled solid, and I had to breathe through my mouth to keep from suffocating.

However, when I looked into the path of the spotlight, there were these dust particles slowly floating through it.

I’ve seen a lot of stars. Before they put in this housing project, sometimes we would come home at night and just be blown away by the sky.

The dust in the spotlight was like stars. Some of the dust was smaller and it just twinkled for a few seconds, and some of the dust was larger and it was brilliant and fiery as it burned its way through the narrow stream of the sky.

Stars don’t flow though, and the dust did. It wasn’t a rush, or any kind of gust, it just meandered into view and then slowly out of view, some bits moving faster than others, but always in the same direction. This movement had its own gravitas, a weight to it, as if the particles of reflected light knew where they were going, but that they could take their time about it.

It struck me that this is the way that stars should move. No streaking and blurring past, and not as a burst of light. This dignified march of dust was showing me what travel between the stars should look like.

A few rows ahead of me there was a guy sitting alone. If I hadn’t been with family, I would have approached him and told him that he was the most beautiful guy that I’ve seen in the last few months and (even including television) it would have been the truth. I might have approached him anyway, except that I have trouble maneuvering stairs in a crowd by myself while wearing a neck brace.

I saw him briefly as we came in and during the intermission I stood not far away from him. During the concert, I had a lot of time to see the back of his neck.

He was in his mid twenties, perhaps 5’9” or 5’10”. He’d just had his hair cut recently, and you could tell. It was very short, almost like he’d shaved it completely and it was growing back out but the edges around the back and the sideburns were too precise.

Hair that short is soft, like fur. It almost doesn’t matter what it was before, only the very thickest hair will change the texture. That short it won’t tangle, and it doesn’t need to be brushed. It just is: it exists unchanging and unaltered, unable to be disordered until it has grown long enough to stick up through your fingers if you run your hand over the scalp.

It seemed dark, but hair that short can be deceptive. He probably wasn’t blond because it didn’t vanish at the right angle, but it could have been mostly light brown. I would wager that it was darker though, a dark brown or black. At the edges and just above the temples, it seemed silvery, like he was much, much older than he looked or perhaps he’d been hurt and where he’d been struck the hair had lost its color. I don’t think that he was older, his face was too smooth, but it could have just been an illusion.

His face had strong features, and the short hair accentuated them instead of making them cartoonish. The structure of his neck seemed to have been carved, with perfect attention to symmetry. His brows were strong, and he had a wide jaw. His nose was unremarkable, but because it was neither to large or small or oddly shaped. It fit his face to a tee.

His eyes were smaller, dark blue. He didn’t want to look around because he didn’t seem to know anyone well enough to sit with, but when he didn’t think that people paid attention, his gaze would slip around. If you have soft eyes, your view can slink around and observe people when they aren’t paying attention. His eyes were loud. The might slide like blue agate in water, but when they did it was like mountains moving, and they would hit you like the side of a mountain.

He kept his mouth an even line. He couldn’t smile because people that are alone at a show don’t smile unless they’re odd. I do that too. After all, what if some crazy gay guy approached you and told you how beautiful you are? Something strange like that could ruin your evening if you aren’t careful, so you need to look cold and distant until the lights dim.

He was wearing a black shirt, perhaps a t-shirt, and over it he was wearing a dark gray v-neck sweater, and dark jeans. You could tell that he was in good shape, but not in an overworked way. Perhaps he didn’t belong to a gym, but if he didn’t he was active. He would move around during the day, and he ate well. Or perhaps he was just born with those perfect genes that maintain you no matter what.

I wish I’d gotten a better look at him. Perhaps I could have described him better if I had.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007


My three current sections of thought:

One: My brother is okay. We got a message from him. He was on an extending desert mission, and he couldn't call. But as of yesterday, he was okay.

Usually he lets us know when he's going to be away for that long, but sometimes there is nothing that you can do.

Someone once said that wisdom is understanding how much you don't know. What that person didn't mention is that wisdom is also responsible for worrying. If you know, you don't have to worry.

Two: They've finally destroyed our view. I am so angry, angrier even when they took the top off the hill behind our house. It's such an odd shape, the little circle that is right in front of our house that is closer to our house than any other.

If I could, I would strike those who planned it dead. That will never happen, of course, but once again I find myself powerless against the enroachment of another.

The sound of the machines, the growling and the beeping, is tearing through my skull, rendering my violently angry.

Those idiots. Those absolute morons! We had something good here, and now you've destroyed that in favor of something that will be soulless and merely tolerated. Your machines have torn up something special. As I once said to someone in love with the idea of hell: I wish that I believed in hell so that my religion could condemn you there!

Three: This is how to get to me. I mentioned that gmail catches most of the spam mail that I get. This is something that made it through, and even though it made it through I opened it to read it because I didn't recognize it was spam until the image loaded:

From: Mieczyslaw Chaya

Re: new xutet red brick. Stainless Steel Rats! Soon I had a string of adoring fans trailing blue sky-I sighed with relief, Gave the gun back to Floyd and used my whence all good things flow. If you will follow me I will explain our Captain was unsleeping and tireless, seemingly as fit on the eleventh head the committee that is working to clean up the operation here on giants back and kidneys that opened his mouth wide with pain, forcing Kicking out. It was Steengo who had crawled behind him, tried to trip Svinjar. shyster who is theoretically paid to uphold the law. Yet you stand by speaking my feelings aloud I suddenly found that my eyes were brimming There were three different alarms that I disabled before I pushed the The Veritorium! It got dark, something happened. I cant remember- move for some time. Temporal stasis. When they come out of it they Power, Power, Power-hear them protons swirl!

When it popped up in my inbox, the words "Stainless Steel Rats" was visible in the subject. If you don't know, The Stainless Steel Rat is a character in a series of short books by Harry Harrison, which I happen to have read only a few weeks ago.

Here are some of the other references that I got. "Floyd" could be a reference to Arthur C. Clarke's 2001, 2010, and 2061 (that I was just talking about). One of the main protagonists in 2010 and 2061 is named Heywood Floyd. There was also a robot in Planetfall named Floyd.

Captain is common in space fiction as the leader of a starship (Kirk, Picard, Solo).

The section about the giants back and pain implies an actual giant, such as the one found in Ender's Game, but the term giant is also common in space parlance (gas giant, blue giant, etc).

Admiral Steengo is another reference to Harry Harrison, and although Svinjar is a place in Croatia, I believe that it is another reference as well, albeit one that I don't recognize. The following line, about theoretically being paid to uphold the law, could be about the Stainless Steel Rat because the character is a con man.

The Veritorium is also something that I don't recognize, but I did find another reference to it in another spam (you can see it here, search Veritorium):

Cued by his words the lights died and darkness filled the Veritorium.
Footsteps sounded in the darkness, and there was a small laugh. Light
appeared and I saw the small boy hurry forward, stumbling a bit under

The world also appears in other spams here, here, and in a myspace blog titled "Spamaholic."

The Veritorium! It got dark, something happened. I cant remember-
Im not much help because I cant either. It seemed like a good
show. Hard to follow the plot but you were in it, do you remember

Whatever "The Veritorium" is, it sound like someone ripped it out of a science-fiction novel as well, an then copied a few lines of text to fool the email filters into thinking that it had real content.

Temporal Stasis is an oft used fictional technology in lots of science fiction.

The spam as a whole reads like the love child of timecube and post-modern poetry. The terms it uses and the way it's phrased are of science fiction.

Anyway, this this managed to get through both the gmail filters, and my own personal filters, which is frightening in a way because it hasn't happened in years. I know that this wasn't targeted directly at me, but it came close enough to achieve its purpose, it made me read it.

I just thought that was interesting, and I wanted to share about how geeks should now be wary about the use of our buzzwords to market viagra to us. How sad.

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10 Best Intellectual Science Fiction Movies

For a while there on Fark, they were doing a lot of 10 best lists (including this really moronic “Best Animated Movies” list that should have been Akira; Spirited Away; Beauty and the Beast; The Incredibles; The Nightmare Before Christmas; My Neighbor Tontoro; Monsters, Inc; Fantasia; Shrek; and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), and I’ve been thinking of doing one for a while. I decided to pick a made-up category: the 10 best intellectual science fiction movies of all time, as chosen by me.

What is an “intellectual science fiction” movie? If a movie’s plot is based on exploring some aspect of technology or culture in a fictional or futuristic setting, in a way that provokes interesting questions, that is an intellectual science fiction movie. The best ones do this with intelligence and depth, and the worst ones take a great concept and turn it into crap. This usually doesn’t include movies that explore an entire new setting, like Star Wars and to a lesser extent Star Trek (although some of the Star Trek episodes would make the list if I included television shows).

Just so you know: I am both a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan.

Obviously, this isn’t based on gross receipts or popularity. The opinions are my own, which obviously carries its own inherent bias. Just as a warning, I am biased toward more recent movies.

Here are the movies:

No. 1: Contact (1997)

Currently my favorite movie of all time, “Contact” is based on a brilliant book by Carl Sagan. This movie explores Earth’s first contact with extraterrestrials in the form of a radio signal from another star and also the trust that we humans place on technology, religion, and other humans.

Although the special effects for the movie are pretty, they don’t drive the plot, which revolves mostly around Eleanor Arroway’s experiences and search for extraterrestrial life. The acting is absolutely superb, and the technical work and music are amazing.

Sagan, who wrote Contact, was determined to make sure that “Contact” was scientifically accurate, and for the most part, he succeeded. The science represented in the movie is a combination of inspiration and hard work. The meaningless technobable is minimal. Further, Arroway has to wrestle with her dreams and the realities of her life along the way to her discovery.

The movie differs from the book in several ways, for example in the book five scientists travel using The Machine, not just Arroway. However, I believe that dropping the “hidden message from the creator in pi” plot makes the theme (searching for ultimate truths that are just out of our grasp) much stronger.

This movie is the pinnacle of the synthesis of intellectualism and story-telling.

No. 2: Children of Men (2006)

This movie, only recently released, forced its way onto this list with its dark look at a futuristic United Kingdom on a world in which humans have lost the ability to reproduce.

Alfonso Cuarón did an amazing job with this movie, with many subtle indications of a world that is very much like our world and yet completely different. From the ads for suicide pills to the cult of celebrity that surrounds the youngest human, Children of Men is both a brilliant social commentary and a wonderful work of art.

Again, although “Children of Men” features huge explosions and gunfights, they are not the focus of the plot. They are simply part of the experience that the movie portrays. I couldn’t help but hold my breath during the scene where they left the apartment building, but it felt real as well.

No. 3: Gattaca (1997)

When I was a kid, I wanted to have fraternal twins someday, and I’m sure other people similarly wish they could select their children, or at least their childrens' attributes. The theme behind “Gattaca” is so enticing, so innocent. What could be wrong about making sure that our children are the smartest and the fastest?

This is the ultimate movie about eugenics, and to a lesser extent about DNA profiling and statistics. The protagonist has to fight to show that what we desire can be just as strong as who we are. This is a theme that definitely resonates very strongly with me.

Overall, this is another very interesting movie; perhaps especially for the idea that someday we’ll wear a suit and tie to travel into space.

No. 4: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

This film, which introduced us to Hal 9000 and big black monoliths, was certainly a groundbreaking science fiction masterpiece. It would be ranked higher if it was more comprehensible. Can you say that you really would have understood the ending to this film without reading the book (or Wikipedia)?

The plot of this movie revolves around the discovery of a “designed” object on the moon, and a subsequent investigation to Jupiter in which the computer (programmed to act like a human) goes crazy and tries to kill all of the astronauts.

Despite some sections of the movie that could be clearer, this movie has provoked decades of discussion and speculation, and is probably one of the most influential science fiction movies ever made. It’s also one of the Stanley Kubrick’s amazing works of art.

No. 5: Brazil (1985)

I must admit, I haven’t seen “Brazil.” Every time I’m at the video store I forget to look it up. Still, when people list the best science fiction movies, “Brazil” typically finds a place.

If I understand the plot, then Brazil rightfully deserves its place on this list. It’s themes of imagination and reality and of the breakdown of bureaucracy provoke a deep reaction among viewers because they recognize the dysfunctional world that it presents.

The story of the making of “Brazil” seems to typify the plot as well. The studio didn’t like the bleak ending, so they chopped up the movie to make the saccharine “Love Conquers All” version. The director, Terry Gilliam, had secret showings of the original and that version of the film eventually won a Best Picture from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

No. 6: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

When I first watched “A Clockwork Orange,” I was greatly disturbed by the entire thing. However, partially through Elliot’s enthusiasm for Kubrick, I eventually came to understand why this movie is so good, and so important.

In the book, the protagonist and his hooligan friends are 15 year olds that practice “ultraviolence,” which involves rape and random attacks on people and property. Eventually he’s captured and “reprogrammed,” but it raises ethical questions about what makes someone good or bad. Can we simply cut evil out of society without cutting out some of the things that make us human?

Interestingly, I just learned from Wikipedia that the book ends on a positive note, but since the American version dropped that chapter, Kubrick didn’t know about that until after the screenplay was written. Up until this point, that makes half the movies on this list that end on a positive note, and half that tear the bottom of your soul on the way down.

No. 7: The Abyss (1989)

Like “Brazil,” the edited version of “The Abyss” makes little sense, but this isn’t a case of studio interference. The “Director’s Cut” is three hours long, and James Cameron worried that people couldn’t sit through it. Additionally, Industrial Light & Magic wasn’t sure they could create some of the visual effects with the technology that they had available at the time. If you’re going to watch this movie though, you should dedicate the time to see the long version.

“The Abyss” changes the alien encounter scenario by placing it underwater, but the primary conflict in the movie is between the civilians, who take the view that the visitors are benign, and military officers, who believe that the aliens attacked a nuclear submarine.

Some of the scenes that were in the Director’s Cut include some really interesting threats that the aliens deliver to the humans involving a giant tsunami wave that rise to destroy humanity around every coast in the world. Unlike Contact, in the end there is incontrovertible proof of the aliens at the end of the story.

This is the only movie on the list that involves a nuclear weapon, but that’s to be expected because it’s a James Cameron movie. Incidentally, the novelization was written by sci-fi master Orson Scott Card.

No. 8: Vanilla Sky (2001)

I can’t quite believe that a Tom Cruise movie made my list, but here it is. When I went to see this movie, I had absolutely no idea that it was a sci-fi. I thought it would be more along the lines of “Almost Famous,” probably a drama about a musician.

This movie came out two years after “The Matrix,” but the way that it questions reality is substantially more nuanced, although the themes are very similar.

Some of the things that make Vanilla Sky special are the way that it revolves around the choices of the main character. There is a vast conspiracy out there, but it’s his conspiracy and in the end it’s a solution that he built. Also, as much as I hate to admit it, the acting is also very good.

No. 9: Metropolis (1927)

This is another movie that I haven’t seen, but you probably haven’t seen the whole thing either. Fritz Lang’s 1927 science fiction epic has sadly been lost over time. Still, this is one of the most influential science fiction movies ever made.

This movie, about deep class divisions in the future, is so inspiring that just the poster led writer Osamu Tezuka to create his own version about the nature of authority and consciousness.

There are Manchurian Candidate themes in “Metropolis” too. A member of the ruling class uses a robot doppelganger to lead the lower classes into revolt, anticipating that he will then be able to eliminate them.

No. 10: Flight of the Navigator (1986)

There’s always a movie on the list that people hate, so mine is this eighties movie, which contains one of the best portrayals of time travel that I’ve seen. The whole premise (with faster than light travel, time travel, telepathy, and a morphing silver spaceship) is interesting, but when I first saw this movie, I thought that the treatment of the protagonists return eight years after he disappeared was very well done. I haven’t seen it in years, but I really liked it.

Besides, it has a happy ending, and lists should have happy endings.


There are so many other amazing movies that didn’t make it onto this list. Some of the others that come to mind are Phenomenon, Powder, Minority Report, Starship Troopers, Equilibrium, and The Cell.

There are some really bad movies in this category out there though. I picked out ten more movies that are bad, either because they try to be intellectual and fail, or because they take a wonderful premise (or short story) and manage to turn it into crap. Just for fun, they’re in the opposite order than the first list.

No. 10: Mission to Mars (2000)

This and Red Planet came out at the same time, and the later was obviously the better movie. You see, in this movie, the “face on mars” is really an alien spaceship that seeded life on Earth and then stayed behind. Perhaps you have to see it to understand how much it sucked.

No. 9: Total Recall (1990)

They wouldn’t have survived on the planet while the atmosphere was forming. And why would the aliens bother leaving the device in the pyramid if they weren’t going to use it? The only really interesting question it raised for me was “Would a triple-breasted whore make more money than a double-breasted one?” Incidentally, this is based on a Philip K. Dick short story, and I think he’s a great sci-fi writer. This will come up again later.

No. 8: Bicentennial Man (1999)

The idea for this movie isn’t quite as bad as the execution. Robin Williams? Two hundred years old? The fact that he could eventually replace machine parts with human replacement organs? That speech that the judge makes? I want my 132 minutes back. This was based on a work by Isaac Asimov.

No. 7: Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001)

This is basically the same movie as Bicentennial Man, except that it was well executed . . . until the end. When I watch this movie, at the point where David is trapped in the helicopter, I turn it off. The alien machines spoiled the whole thing for me. Why would they reactivate him instead of just tapping his memory? Why did they recreate his mother? Why did they have those horrible accents? This is otherwise a good movie, but that ending just ruined it.

No. 6: Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

This is the Star Trek that tried desperately to become a Star Wars, but fell miserably on its face. True, I don’t dislike it as much as “Nemesis” but the premise of this movie was counter to what seemed to be the theme of the Star Trek franchise, which was that eventually things all things can be understood. Suddenly there’s mystical magic in Star Trek? I don’t buy it for a moment.

No. 5: The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Whatever intellectual content there was in this movie was already covered in detail by Dan Brown’s book. And all the books that he (probably) plagiarized from.

No. 4: The Saint (1997)

Okay, I know, let’s take the premise of cold fusion, involve a pretty scientist that needs notecards to understand the concept, throw in a love story, and then make the entire thing a spy movie. And throw in a bunch of Catholic dogma that didn’t make much sense either. Yeah, I can’t imagine why this didn’t work.

No. 3: I, Robot (2004)

The Foundation Series (of which I, Robot is a auxiliary short story) is an amazing series of books, and this title was bought and then slapped on a Will Smith vehicle. The reason the books give for robots that are able to harm humans involves the development of the “Zeroth Law,” which allowed robots to kill humans in order to benefit humanity as a whole. You could have made a mint off that premise, instead of making it just a pretty action flick where Will Smith beats down on robots.

No. 2: Next (2007)

This isn’t even out yet, but it is based on a Philip K. Dick story, and let’s face it: apparently scripts based on Asimov and Philip K. Dick stories don’t make very good movies (the only exception so far being “Minority Report”). It stars Nicholas Cage, and while I like his movies, it’s not because they make me think.

No. 1: Paycheck (2003)

See, this is why Next makes it on the list even though it isn’t out. Palmistry? Lasers that can see the future? A memory device that plays like a first person shooter? At least Dick’s original story had a cool ending (not involving a lottery ticket). How on Earth did they make this so bad? They got fairly good actors, and they had a cool concept and a big name. This movie should be embarrassing to everyone involved.

Update: Yeah, I farked up the "I, Robot" description as the good people at Fark were so kind to point out. Fixed now. I have no excuse but temporary insanity.

Update 2: I have now seen both Brazil and Metropolis, and I was right, they both deserve their places on this list, although if I was to rewrite it now, I would bump Brazil up by one place on the list.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007


I don’t get it. Listening to rain on your roof is beautiful and musical at night, but when it’s just dripping on something and you’re trying to sleep it’s annoying.

I regret entitling that other post "Looking For Work," now, and really this episode ("Three Weeks of Pennies") should have been shortened down and maybe combined with that other episode, but in the end it didn’t feel right unless I explained that Alex isn’t a slacker. He’s not exactly competent either, but he’s not a slacker. And right now I want to provide context for the real story, which is imminent.

I missed a counseling session today, which sucks because I’ve been really down recently. Just depression kicking in, but it’s awful that neither of us thought about it.

I’ve been thinking recently about something one of my favorite teachers in high school once said. He said that he thought that I was special because I didn’t care what other people thought about me.

I wonder what he would say if he saw me today, going out of my head trying to provoke reactions from people?

I’m not a good troll. I mean, I can put a slew of effort into creating the persona of some 27 year old Christian Single Mother who got pregnant, found Jesus, and now believes that most organized Christian religions are secretly plotting to fund the anti-Christ so that they can bring about the end of the world. Oh, right, and she’s injured and the state is threatening to take Abby, her daughter away because she can’t take care of her.

When it comes time to go out and spread the Word though, I couldn’t get much out. And when I did, about how my brother was preaching that Christians were going to hell for violating Jesus’ command, I was so vague that no one responded.

And here I am, this is the real me, and I’m fairly explicit here, and I still can’t get a reaction even with a magnesium flare.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t advertise myself well. But I don’t have a decent camera, and I know better than post naked shots of myself online. Especially grainy ones.

It’s odd, people used to tell me that I was pretty, and by “people” I mean girls. I go to the club though, and people treat me like a lemur. An ugly lemur. Granted, the music deafened me, the smoke and the heat made me sick, and I don’t drink, but I would dance, but clubs are supposed to be about easy sex. Where the hell was the easy sex at the clubs in ABQ? All of the cute guys were with other cute guys, and the moderately cute guys were about “waiting” for something special. What was that? There is definitely something wrong with gay culture if we’ve already passed the no-strings sex mentality completely behind. Because I seem to have missed it.

And I’m easy.

That’s not a particularly flattering thing to say about myself, but it’s certainly very true. I threw myself at Gabriel not because I thought he was that good looking but because he seemed interested in him. It didn’t work out because I wasn’t interested in him, but that certainly didn’t seem to matter to me at first because he showed some interest in me.

So how do I advertise better? Pictures of me with my head photoshopped onto Mason Wyler’s body would be a good place to start, except that I don’t really look anything like him and I don’t necessarily like to lie about myself.

I can’t draw (real things, anyway) so I can’t become the next Penny-Arcade, Something*Positive, or PvP.

And I haven’t figured out how to advertise a blog. Back in the day Mike and Jeff both highly recommended “forksplit” to me. It’s the blog of a NYC half-Muslim arab/half-WASP advertising exec, and it’s brilliant. Some of the best writing on the internet. How did they find it? I can’t imagine. I can’t even get them to read my blog regularly, and here is this woman from New York City talking about how she likes to go clubbing with gay boys that they read whenever it’s updated.

Let’s talk about another friend: Alex (the real one, not one of my fictional ones) validated my existence the other day. By Buddha’s man tits, it was nice to get out of the house with someone other than my mother. Someone who volunteered to spend two hours on the road to prove that the person living in my room isn’t some zombie corpse raised by my mother.

Except now I’m worried that I offended him by disagreeing with him. I knew that we wouldn’t agree on everything, but I guess I was just bored and I posted a long thing on one of his blog entries (which I read religiously) that basically called his writing tripe. Which it isn’t, I just don’t agree with him, which is a completely different issue.

And now I’m talking about it in a blog instead of confronting him. That’s so passive aggressive and passé. But I’m doing it anyway because sometimes I guess I’m passive aggressive and passé. I need to change that.

Dude, you’re important to me. Yes, I have a crush on you, but dammit, it’s because you’re brilliant and a good friend. And besides, you’re straight. My crush proves that. Any disagreement with you is automatically null and void because of that. You could probably slap me around a little and I couldn’t really dislike you. (I apologize, abjectly and profusely, for any and all wrongs I have done you Alex, and I post it here in some sort of punishment for myself. If you ever need to remind me of that, you have it in writing.)

I don’t have a gimmick, I guess. I’m an aspiring writer, but who online isn’t an aspiring writer? Geez, even the waiters and bouncers with blogs have books that they’re trying to sell. I’m gay, but not in a porn-star or even a “Super! Thanks for asking!” way so I can’t play that up.

Even the writing is questionable, although I have to hold out hope for that. If I can’t write, there isn’t much chance of writing for a living, eh? I am taking Ashley’s advice, though, and part of that seems to be working, although I have no idea why Live Journal is so popular.

But in a certain sense, I need the validation of response and interaction. This is certainly not the first time I’ve said it, but it’s certainly a reversal on my personal sense of “You don’t need anyone, dude.”

It feels awfully materialistic, to know that I want to make people respond, and I know that’s the right word, but I feel sort of like I’m treading into the area where Paris Hilton rules: being famous is having people want to respond to you. Do I want to be famous? Yeah, of course I do, but I think that I would settle for “acknowledged.”

Last thing, from out of nowhere: I haven’t heard from my little brother in more than a fortnight. That is very, very bad. My mom and I had the “talk” about what to do if two Marines in dress blues show up at the door. They’d probably come during the day when I’m home, and even if she was here, they would knock at my door first.

So, if it happens, I cry first, wait until I can talk without freaking out, and then tell her. I will try to remain calm while I am speaking to her, because she does not need me to be a wreck while she needs me.

And then I’d institute suicide watch procedures for her, which, of course, I haven’t told her about. Little to no alone time. Clean medicine bottles out of the cabinets and remove sharp objects from where she can find them.

He could be boycotting writing us because we haven’t paid enough attention (I haven’t written him yet), but probably not. The military might have blacked out communication because they do that sometimes, but probably not for this long.

It’s really starting to scare me.

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Lex and Lia: Three Weeks of Pennies

Two days working in a pawn shop, two days doing odd jobs for the super of an apartment building, three days working the nights at a junkyard, and even a day bussing at Luca’s Italian Restaurant, Alex was no closer to steady employment.

There were days between the jobs, and he would beat himself up, going over sentence dozens of times in his mind.

The pawn shop owner had been crazy. At the beginning Alex could forgive himself because he could blame the owner’s insanity. He had searched Alex before and after the shifts, and the second day, when Alex dropped a cheap ring in a pile that Alex was carrying for him, he’d accused him of trying to steal it. He’d threatened to call the cops, and Alex had walked away, seething in anger.

Then there was the job at the apartment complex, but at the end of the second day the guy had tried to renegotiate what he paid Alex six times, and at the end of both days he had only paid Alex half of the agreed amount, promising that he’d get around to getting the rest of it soon. However, after two days mopping up crap from overflowed toilets, Alex told the guy that he wasn’t coming back until he paid him what he owed. He’d gone back three times, and each time the super had made some excuse, exhorting Alex to work more before he paid him.

Alex had caught the drift. He was desperate, but he wasn’t stupid. Half a day’s pay for a full day’s work just wasn’t worth it to clean up shit.

The junkyard had been the best job. The guy had hired him after barely looking at his ID. He was paid cash, after work, and the owner, Gervasi, didn’t try to stiff him on the pay. Of the three guys and two dogs that guarded the yard after dark, Alex was the smallest by weight.

Gervasi had been having problems with thefts on the lot at night for the last few months, and Alex’s biggest recommendation seemed to be that he was new to the area.

They stationed him in a little booth on one corner of the property. It had no electricity and no heat, and in the in the middle of the night the desert wind seemed to blow in and howl through every orifice in the yard. Alone, in the dark, with piles of rusted metal and the wind, Alex jumped at every noise and stiffened at every flutter of paper or trash.

Alex tried to be brave, but after the second night, even Lia knew that he was terrified. She’d tried to massage his shoulders, but she simply wasn’t strong enough to get the knots out of his shoulders.

It didn’t matter though. On the third night, Gervasi was robbed again. Nothing within Alex’s line of sight had been touched, but instead of firing Saul, who was the old guy working the gate (and had nodded off the first night before he’d even finished training Alex), Alex was dismissed.

Less than a week ago, knowing that he didn’t have enough money to keep the apartment another month, he’d finally walked out to the Italian restaurant and asked for a job. He’d cleaned up best that he could, and he’d worn his nicest clothes.

The hostess was named Tina, and she introduced him to the manager. They didn’t need anyone, per se, but with Tina spinning her curls behind him, the manager had offered him a job.

The first night was going well. The cooks teased him but treated him fair. His two waiters, Paula and Lamar were willing to explain things and he went along.

And then Eli had shown up.

He was sitting at a table with another pretty woman. She was older, but you couldn’t really tell until you were up close.

Eli didn’t notice him at first, but he eventually flagged Alex over for water, and as Alex poured into his glass with a shaking hand, he looked up, saw Alex’s face, and his eyes turned into ice cubes.

Eli didn’t say anything, but his eyes followed Alex away from the table. His food was prepared and delivered without incident, and Alex was beginning to think that perhaps Eli would just let him be.

There was a party of two tables down and Paula convinced him that he could deliver everything with one trip. They loaded up one of the huge oval trays, and Alex carried it to the table, straining under the weight.

Eli pushed him as he passed where he and his girlfriend were sitting. He wasn’t sure how, exactly, because Eli hadn’t seemed to notice him as Alex passed him, but one moment he was concentrating on keeping the tray upright, and the next moment he was staggering forward, the tray just ahead of his hand. He tried to grab it back, but the eight plates and four side dishes flew ahead of him. One plate struck a man in the side of his head, another bounced off the table into a woman sitting across the table. Food was everywhere.

It was then, after what seemed like the worst had been done, that Alex realized that he was still moving.

He slammed into the diner nearest to him, a pre-teen girl, and then fell heavily on the table. The entire thing seemed to gasp under his weight, and then something broke and the hard surface seemed to give out below him. All of the drinks on the table slid in all directions, drenching Alex and the people sitting at the table.

Despite all the broken glass, Alex wasn’t cut at all, and no one was hurt.

In the end, he’d destroyed nearly two hundred dollars in plates and glasses, a two hundred dollar table, and the manager promised that the restaurant would pay a hundred dollars or so in cleaning costs.

Instead of taking it out of his pay, the manager had fired him on the spot, in front of all of the patrons of the restaurant. Alex managed to make it into the kitchen, having to push through the kitchen staff that had gathered at the door to see what had happened, before he started sobbing.

Paula caught up with him before he left completely.

“Here,” she said, slipping him twenty bucks. “You earned it.”

“What about all the stuff I broke?” he managed to say through the tears.

“I saw the guy behind you. It wasn’t that hard to figure out what happened, the way he was smiling like an idiot.”

Instead of going back to the apartment he wandered around for a few hours, trying to come up with some story for Lia.

By the time he stumbled through the door, Lia should have been asleep, but she was still awake, watching television.

“What are you doing?” he asked. He’d hoped that if he got home late, he wouldn’t have to deal with her.

“Waiting for you,” she said, “How was the restaurant?”

He shrugged, and her smile fell a little bit but didn’t go away. She got up, came over and hugged him.

They stood there for a moment, and she said: “You smell like noodles.”

“I need to take a shower.”

“Alright,” Lia said. “But make it quick. There’s a scary movie marathon on, and I can’t watch it unless you watch it with me.”

Alex smiled, touseled her hair, and then went to take a shower.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lex and Lia: Feathers

Note: Sorry about the delay. I had about forty pages of editing this week for that friend, and it took more than thirty hours to finish (which is a lot more it should have). It burned me out. I'll try to do a few extra soon to apologize, but for now, here's last weekend's Lex and Lia:

There was something going on below her.

She preened, setting the feathers into place, but part of her attention was focused on the men.

One made a grand gesture, but the other wasn’t intimidated and stepped forward, shouting. There was a flicker of sliver in the light, and then a splash across the wall. In the silver of the full moon there was no color to it, but she could smell the metallic tang of blood like she was on top of it.

She thought he would run after that, but he didn’t. He spoke into his phone, and then leaned against the wall, cleaning the knife.

It wasn’t that he was brave, because she could smell his fear when he’d spoken on the phone. It was even stronger than it had been when he’d been threatened.

He didn’t have long to wait before the car arrived. The driver got out and opened the back door, and a woman got out.

The woman didn’t look right, or feel right. She wore a dress, but not one of the little dresses that the streetwalkers wore. It looked more like a sundress, and over it she wore some sort of shawl. She was very thin, and her skin was stretched so tightly over her frame that it made her seem younger.

What happened? she said, and then, Obviously, so explain it to me.

That was odd. Usually in the dreams the words didn’t make sense to her. The dreaming part of her wanted to listen to the man too, but the part that was awake still couldn’t make sense of him. He groaned and lamented, but all she understood was the feeling: abject terror.

The woman listened—untouched by the cold and the darkness—and when the man was done she reached out and laid her hand on his shoulder.

In the dreams, she was usually isolated behind the black eyes, but now she was afraid. The woman’s hand burned with bitter frost, and the man couldn’t help but to release a keening cry of pain. He tried to pull back, but the woman’s grip held him fast for a moment until he threw the whole of his weight into pulling away.

He fell against the wall where he had been leaning, but instead of leaning he slid to the ground. The shoulder of his jacket was white, and as he reached up with his hand it flaked away under his touch. He was crying now, quietly, but the pain was partially distracting him from the fear.

The woman turned to the mess and gestured and said Be consumed, but she spoke it to the ground and the walls.

The body seemed to relax, which was odd considering that it had already been splayed out dead, but it shrugged a moment as the earth opened up and swallowed it, drinking the blood and chewing on the bones. Then it was over, and the there was no sign of the dead man.

She’d kept her perch throughout this, but now the woman looked around, and that terrified the part of her that was awake. She took flight.

She was no owl. Her wings beat loudly against the darkness, but not as loudly as her pounding heartbeat.

She flapped and flapped, until she was in another part of the city altogether and her wings burned from the exertion. She relaxed, and spotted a wooden fence between the yard separating two parking lots.

As soon as she landed though, she knew that she’d made a mistake. There was no car, no humans that her eyes could find in the dark, but something was still watching her.

Between one breath and the next, the woman was there. Not close enough to harm her, but standing in the dark. Her face was white, and she clutched the shawl tightly.

Who, who, who? the woman asked. Who, who, who?

If there was some response, it was garbled. She wasn’t sure who she was supposed to be in this dream. The woman didn’t seem satisfied and she frowned.

Then she opened her eyes so wide that the white surrounded her irises, and they changed from brown to a brilliant yellow with red flickering at the edges.

Come, she implored. There is so much that you can do for me. Come and be mine. Give yourself entirely to me.

It washed over the dreamer, and it was so absolutely reasonable and desirable. It made so much sense. She opened her wings, and it felt like sparks of love and respect flowed down them into her. The woman stepped forward, singing Come, come, come.

She sprang from the fence, flying right into the embrace of the woman, and when she reached the heart of the golden sea of devotion and contentment, the part of her that was awake vicious attacked.

The woman screamed as claws and beak tore into her. The taunt skin snapped back and the smell of blood surrounded them. She raised her hands, but there was nothing that she could do against the huge flapping black wings. She struck out, missed, and tried again.

This time she caught on the edge of the wing, and the bird broke off, flying away. She didn’t flee this time. Whatever disturbed the waking bird had been washed away by the blood on her talons. A little victory, but a victory.

When Lia awoke, there were a few black feathers in her bed. It wasn’t the first time, but there were more than normal.

She shivered at the strange dream, and then she gathered up the feathers, and threw them in the trash in the bathroom before Lex could find them.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stargate Gayness

Spurred by this article, I was just thinking about this script that I wanted to write for Stargate. Considering that Stargate is ending, I figure I might as well talk about it to get it out of my system.

Just to say, I haven't been the best fan, although SG-1 is definitely enough to keep me entertained for an hour. I especially love their self-depreciation through the show-within-a-show Wormhole X. For the last few seasons I've been consistently impressed with their writing.

Stargate Atlantis isn't quite so impressive. I started watching because I thought Joe Flanigan was cute (why else?) but I haven't been consistently impressed by the acting. I have to say though, David Hewlett, who plays Rodney McKay, is hilarious. I mean, seriously funny. Usually the engineer is so competent, he has to be in order to solve the weekly puzzle. Scotty, La Forge, Carter, and Tyrol all fall into that category. McKay is different enough to really catch my attention.

Anyway, both of the Stargate shows, especially SG-1, really have taken on role that Star Trek originally became so popular for, and that is heavy social commentary disguised as a light hour of television. Where the original Star Trek addressed racism, sexism, and the cultural movements of the time, Stargate has addressed religious fundamentalism, the media, and to some extent the function of government. Battlestar Galactica has done some of this, with it's treatment of both an occupation and the slim line between Democracy and Dictatorship.

All these moral issues are interesting to me, but I think it's odd how sci-fi avoids even the barest mention of homosexuality.

Anyway, onto the show, as I would write it at the moment even though I know the show is over. I might be a little behind on the plot, and if I am, I apologize. This could have been adapted to fit with any of the last few seasons basically by substituting characters, objects, and enemies.

SG-1 is on a planet, probably exploring it while looking for the sangraal, the weapon capable of destroying ascended beings, and the solution to Earth's problem with the Ori invasion. The enter the village, and ask about the Ori.

Oh, yes, the villagers say. The Ori were here. They were preaching Origin, but they were driven away.

SG-1 look at each other, with one of those knowing looks. They were driven away? Could this be what we're looking for?

The villages lead them into the village, and instead of a device . . . they find a young man, sitting at the table of an inn, drinking quietly alone.

They approach him, and before they have much chance to speak, he looks up at them and says, You must be the Tau'ri.

He introduces himself as Entené (a basic non-human name that I just made up). He's been traveling among worlds that do not have much traffic with the worlds controlled by the Goa'uld, trying to keep a low profile. Yes, he defeated the Prior and drove him away, but only because they had released a plague on this planet that threatened the populace.

Daniel Jackson has the temerity to ask the obvious question: How was he able to defeat the Prior?

Oh, that's not hard. Entené is really an ex-ascended being. One of the first from the Alterans, perhaps even the first ascended Ancient. Back then, Entené decided to explore the universe on his own for a while and left his race before others could catch up.

When he finally reconnected with the other ascended Ancients he found that they had developed a strict non-interference policy with the mortals, something that was not ingrained into Entené because of his biologically based ascension. Because of his status as one of the first ascended Alterans and the fact that he had not succumbed to evil and domination like the Ori, the ascended Ancients decided to allow him to live as a partially ascended being, much like Anubis eventually became except that Entené is still allowed to use the powers and knowledge gained from ascending. He may have even been the template upon which Oma formed Anubis.

Daniel explains the problems that the Ori pose to humanity, and Entené decides to visit Earth with SG-1 in order to consider whether or not to help the SGC in their fight against the Ori.

On Earth, Entené talks extensively to the guards assigned to show him around the SGC and answer his questions. He is impressed with the Tau'ri have built, and finds that their proactive beliefs are is closer to his own mentality than the strict non-interference policy of the other ascended Ancients. He decides to consider the request of the SGC to assist against the Tau'ri, but on one condition: That the SGC allow him to seek a human mate from Earth. After all, Entené has been traveling alone for millenia and he would like to have someone that has roughly the same beliefs that he does to be a companion.

SG-1 is troubled. He doesn't intend to force a woman to become a mate, does he? No, he'll do nothing more than approach them, and if they choose to go with him, the SGC will allow them to go.

Suddenly, a call comes in: The Ori are attacking. SG-1 leaves with Entené, rush to the battle, and easily defeat the Ori vessels. Entené tries to capture the ships so that he can inform the humans onboard that the Ori are not really gods, but the Priors on board manage to combine their powers and destroy their vessels. Entené explains that he can easily stop several Priors, but enough of them can overwhelm his limited powers. Since he had to keep the Tau'ri ships protected, the Priors were able to trigger the self-destructs.

While Entené is upset about the deaths, SG-1 is elated. On the way back to the SGC, they agree to Entené's request to allow him to look for a mate on Earth.

Back on Earth, in front of several people including Mitchell and Carter, Entené approaches the one of his guards and asks him to be his mate. All of the SGC personnel are stunned, it's a male Sergeant, not a female.

Carter and Mitchell pull Entené away, but the damage is done. Suddenly the Sergeant is relieved of his duties. They try to explain "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," to Entené but he is now very confused. He has been a part of your military for years, and he has not changed, Entené says. Why would this make him any less fit for duty than an hour ago?

Mitchell goes to try to convince (whoever the current General is) that Entené was simply confused about the social situation and that he wasn't implying that the Sergeant was gay. In the mean time, Entené talks with Carter, who agrees to go ask the Sergeant for his answer.

The Sergeant, who has been confined to his quarters while the SGC investigates, is scared. Carter talks with him, trying to calm him down and talk him through his decision.

Mitchell enters, and points out that the whole thing was caught on tape. The Sergeant's career is basically over. If he's interested, he might as well go with Entené. The Sergeant says yes, Carter takes his message to Entené.

Entené nods sagely, and teleports to the Sergeants quarters and is going to try to fight his way out of the base, except the SGC soliders refuse to open fire on the Sergeant.

Entené and the Sergeant make their way to the Stargate, which opens it much like it does for the Nox (i.e. as a plot device) and after some quick goodbyes from the Sergeant and a quick You are good people, but there are things that you have to learn before we'll be good friends from Entené they step through the gate and vanish.

SG-1 look at each other, sigh, and go back to looking for the sangraal.


Incidentally, I don't think that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is going to go away soon. Perhaps Bush will start fiddling with it near the next elections, but only to drive "values voters" to vote and not out of any real interest in making things better.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


My mouse isn't working properly. Eh.

Anyway, I was reading through all of the hooks over on Lit Agent X, which is cool, and I can't believe I didn't know about it. I would have entered mine, if I could have.

I don't know if there's any way to make text unsearchable, but I couldn't come up with it, so here are four hooks. They're subject to deletion later, as per the second to last paragraph. If anyone out there reads this blog, let me know what works and what doesn't work in them.


Oh, right. Alex was named before Lex, and way before I met real Alex. Apparently sometimes I say things, and people aren't sure which of the the Alexes that I'm talking about. That's a problem. Saere's name is also years and years old, but subject to change.

Here are the hooks:

Does anyone else really like number 4, like I do? I think it's great, compared to the others. It catches me and it's got such bizarre elements to it. Obviously it's for book two of my series, the sequel to book one, which is represented by the first three hooks.

In fact, when I started planning this whole series and I cam up with the idea to set it on Earth-that-we-know instead of a galaxy far away I had thought that it would be cool to take the concepts that we're familiar with (MIB, kids with super powers, high school) and end up in a place that was totally different than where it started.

Where my first book ends (and thus, where the second one begins) is really kinda cool. It makes a great hook (in my personal opinion).

The problem is that all the hooks for book one are boring. Any editor or agent is going to be like Lit Agent X and say "Haven't we see all this before?" and "Why should we care about all these disaffected teenagers? They don't even seem to care about themselves."

If you read the third hook and liked it, so do I. Except for that last sentence, which needs some work. Anyway, the point is that neither side gets everything it wants. The government doesn't succeed, but the kids certainly don't "win" in a conventional sense. This isn't a fairytale.

Anyway, I don't want you to remember that last hook, because I want people to be surprised by the end of my first book. So eventually, it's going to vanish (and don't spoil the ending for anyone, please). When you buy my book, remember to be shocked at where it ends, okay?

In the mean time, I'd love comments on how to improve the first three hooks. What worked, what didn't work? I've got to sell book one, somehow, before I get to book two.

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