Thursday, September 28, 2006

StreetWars: Day Four - Bang I'm Dead!

Yeah, he finally got me.

I gotta tell you, it's been exhausting. I was about ready to give up; this city isn't made for this game, or maybe it's the format - but I woke up at 5am this morning planning to go BACK out, again, to stalk my target. I just couldn't do it. I was too tired from lack of sleep, and all I could think was "it just ain't worth it."

I made a half-hearted attempt to stake out her job after work, but after a half hour I just shrugged and said "screw this, i'm going home."

Straight home, no misdirection. I did cut through the long way inside the building, just in case - and there's a woman sitting in my laundromat, reading a book. Waiting. So I shot her. She didn't even have time to pull out the watergun she'd had her hand on, hidden. We laughed...and I was a little disappointed, to tell you the truth.

Well, no worries - turns out the original stalker still hadn't died, and he was ready this time. I think he threw about six water balloons at me, none of which actually hit me but the water splatter was enough to take me out.


We laughed, shared some stories while I told him how I avoided him all week. Cool guy, and the girl was kinda cute herself. When we broke apart, I said "I'm glad, it means I can finally get some sleep!" He sympathized.

What's funny is that after today he was also considering giving up; it's just taking up too much time, and to honest we've all got jobs.

I like the concept, I do - but the execution is missing something. If I had the capital, I'd do my own version of the game but make it more...involved.

But I admit, I got a thrill out of it. Will I do it again next year?

Probably not.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

StreetWars News Article

For those of you wondering more about the game in general:

Reuters News Article

StreetWars: Day Three - Wasted Morning

I hate this city, sometimes.

6:45am - I've driven to the target's home. My windows are nice and tinted, so I'll look much less obvious standing outside waiting for people leaving the building, squinting in the dawn haze to see if they look vaguely like the primped, posed and cropped photo I've been given of the target's face. Except...there's a problem. The target lives very, very close to a highly protected building in the city, so a) there are cops, EVERYWHERE, and a patrol car seems to be passing by every 60 or so seconds. And b), for a 5-block radius there is a NO STANDING/PARKING zone. From 7am to 7pm. I don't believe this shit.

So, right at 7am on the dot everyone comes out, gets in their cars and drives off. That leaves poor little now-very-conspicuous ME sitting there in my car, thinking that maybe I should move before the cop pulling in behind me decides to give me a ticket.

I'm forced to circle. And circle. This is getting ridiculous, because NOW I look suspicious so I really can't keep doing this. but then:

7:15am - I see someone who COULD be the target. She's really short so that doesn't help, considering all I have is a headshot; they're both blond, but I can't tell how LONG the target's hair is from the photo. The target should be on her way to work, but this woman is dressed like she's going to out with friends on the weekend - camo shorts, hair tied up, running shoes. FUCK!!!

I'm torn whether or not to take the shot, mainly for one reason: I do not want to end up on the 6pm news, "Black Man Shot By Police for Spritzing White Woman". Seriously, I'm paranoid about that shit.

In hindsight, I probably should have taken the shot; I let my own indecision stop me. She was carrying a big giant shoulder bag, large enough to carry work clothes in; I'm sure, now, that it was her. Probably. Staring at her face really would have given the game away, I just wish I'd been given better intel.

But, there is a silver cloud. If in fact that was her, I've got a better image of her now. And I know her schedule. I'm not letting this week go by without taking a shot at her, the other target is going to be too hard to chase down.

I'm expecting my own attacker to lie in wait for me tonight. Too bad he doesn't know I've got plans; I wonder how late he'll stay out there? If I shoot him again, does it count as a kill for me?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

StreetWars: Day Two - The Joy Of The Kill

4:40pm - left work early to go after Jane, I figured I'd get to her building and wait for her outside. My logic? If she was in to work by 8 this morning, she's got to be leaving by 5, right? Wrong. I called her at work aroud 5, to see if she was still there. She was. I decided not to hide that I was after her - I want her walking in fear, she'll be easier to spot since i've only got a blurry head shot of her. I called again at 5:30 - nope, still there. I told her I can't wait to see her downstairs, she laughed. 6:15 - still at work, and now I'm starting to feel like I'm annoying her, so I let her off the hook. Slightly.

6:45pm - I'm outside her office building, and dammit if there aren't two separate entrances! There's no way I can stake this place out; plus, if she takes a car service home, there's nothing I can do because she'd still have one foot on the curb until she closes that cab door. Dammit. I've got to get her at home, or not at all.

7:45 - I took the long route home, just in case there was someone waiting for me at one of my train stations. Rush to the bus stop, wait; rush to the bar, wait; cross the street, see who follows. Double back, come to the building a different route.

7:50 - that spidey sense is tingling. There's a suspicious looking guy hunched over on his cell phone, outside my building entrance. I wait behind a car across the street, and when he turns his head the wrong way I bolt into the building and shut the door shut. I'm still feeling uneasy so I take a different route to my apartment, gun ready at the hip and finger on the trigger. I turn the corner - and surprise, there's a would-be assassin - my morning visitor - hunched over, pretending to write me a note. I grin and hose him down, trying not to laugh as he drops his pen, cell phone - and his gun.

That little maneuver just bought me 24 hours of freedom. "Sorry bud, better luck next time" I tell him, calmly going into my apartment while he storms off in frustration.

Not exactly a kill, but somehow...satisfying nonetheless.

Tomorrow, it's ON!

StreetWars: Day Two - Morning Visitor

6:25am - god help me, I'm awake. What the hell is wrong with me? I wouldn't get up this early for my own funeral. But...I'm up, because I'm determined to make a kill.

7:00am - I've got the security channel on while I'm ironing, and there's a visitor. Dark hair, blue shirt, slacks, messenger bag slung over his shoulder. A poor little lost soul, with his face pressed against the glass of the inner door. Obviously lost, obviously trying to figure out how to get inside. He starts looking over the intercoms, wondering if he should push a button to get inside. I start to panic, just a little; I'm not ready to leave, and if he gets inside I'll get held up trying to stop him from shooting me. A minute later, he leaves. Lucky for me, two minutes after he leaves, someone else leaves the building. I'm gone ten minutes later.

8:00am - I'm outside Jane Eastside's apartment building. My strategy was to wait her out by standing at the bus stop just up the block from her, where I can watch the building and see if she approaches.

8:15am - The bus comes and goes, so I hit up a pay phone to call her job. A woman answers, but only answers with the company name - not her own. Dammit. I ask for a generic name, she tells me I have the wrong extension, I apologize and we hang up. No harm, no foul. If that was her, she's already at work - which means I'll need to get up a lot earlier. I decide that maybe it'll be better to stake out her job, rather than her house; it'll give me more time to sleep, and it's easier for me to get to the west side than it is the east. I took her bus west, so I can at least time her commute to work.

I'm actually surprised I haven't gotten a phone call from my mystery caller this morning, and it's 9:45am. I'm almost disappointed. If that was, in fact, my stalker then I really don't feel like I've got a lot to worry about this week. No staying power. Why come all the way uptown like that if you're not going to even try to stick around and see if I'm there? I walked to work after my Jane stalking, and didn't fear for a second that I was in any danger. Crying shame.

It does make you wonder, with my own struggles to find my targets; if it's this difficult to track someone in NYC, how much action is going on in this game?

Boy was I wrong. Turns out there are 12 kills on record already. And at least two of them using tactics I'd planned myself. I gotta step up the pace a little, no way am I gonna be left behind.

Monday, September 25, 2006

StreetWars: Day One - Night Run

5:30pm - I got a strange phone call. Well, more like a phone call from a number I didn't recognize (somewhat, more in a minute) where the person hung up on me. I was annoyed with myself because I usually don't answer outside calls with my name, but I was distracted and thought it was a friend's number. Near fatal mistake; now they know I'm still at work.

6:00pm - the phone rings again, again from the strange number. I don't answer it. I'd also gotten a call from this number around lunch time, but didn't answer it. I did call it back, and a woman answered it. She seemed to be the receptionist, and this was a general line; she has no way to know who called.

6:05pm - the phone rings again. Guess who?

6:10pm - phone rings, only it's one of my company's receptionists. I don't pick up and it stops after 2 rings; mistake, or did the outside caller hang up? Hmmm?

6:13pm - phone rings, and guess what - it's a TRANSFER, from an outside line, to mine. Getting kind of obvious there, folks.

6:20pm - I decide it's safe to go downstairs. I stop in the lobby and lean up against one wall, pretending to listen to my telephone messages but really I'm looking at one of the entrances, and scoping out the lobby. There's a couple in the lobby making cell phone calls, but no one else. They look suspicious, and my spidey sense starts tingling even more when they decide - as I'm leaving - that they didn't need to wait for whomever it was they were waiting for, after all.

I won't go into details here, but I've got a whole escape route planned out. The block my company sits on is a safe zone; as long as I don't leave it, they can't shoot me. They also can't shoot me if I'm at a bus stop/on a bus, or in the subway. There are two different subway entrances, for two different trains, connected to my block.

There are also key bus stop locations scattered within a minute, maximum, walk from each other. I felt like a bugs bunny cartoon, darting from bus stop to train station to bus stop, with my watergun in hand.

I also have...secret passages, but I can't divulge that here. Just in the offchance someone may be reading this for info.

6:40pm - After a bus ride of a few minutes, I made it safely to my destination. I'm 90% certain no one followed me. I'm where I am as a favor for a friend, helping her out with...well. Never mind that. But it's to help show some coworkers a trick or two, let's leave it at that.

But as I'm getting there, I start to have some nagging doubts. This game is making me paranoid. I start to wonder: what if? What if SHE'S in the game? I already know one friend is in it, what if she is too? And she, by coincidence, drew me as an early target? What if she has a friend who's in the game, and happened to say "Oh my first target is Eric Trickster", and she said "Oh wow, he's a friend of mine - would you like me to help you kill him?"

I'm freaked as I arrive, my head jerking nervously from side to side. I show up, she's happy to see me - but I hold up my hand for her to keep her distance. "Now...", I ask; "...tell me the this a setup?"

She's confused. "what, like a date?" she asks. "No", I say; "like an assassination." She looks confused, I pull a watergun on her from behind my back. She's amused, but a little freaked. I'm convinced, she's legit, so I explain my own craziness. Sheesh.

8:00pm - I'm done, and as it happens one of my targets lives nearby. John Westside. It's a good opportunity for me to stake out his neighborhood; the area's a lot more confined, and yet there aren't too many opportunities to blend in for me. I'll have to get creative on this one. Good thing, at least, there doesn't appear to be a back door that he has access to. I emphasize "has access to", because the sign clearly states that residents should use the other entrance on blah blah blah. Of course, it says nothing about using the other EXIT, unless there's such a sign on the INSIDE of the door.

10:30pm - I'm done with my other gig, and now it's time to head home. I'm torn as to what train I should take, and what exit I should take when I leave the station. Like I said, I've got a lot of options. But in the end, I decide to take my regular route. With a slight modification, of course - I'm not stupid.

Walking home, I use another couple as a shield of sorts, keeping them at a distance ahead of me to flush out any potential assassins who might be lurking. I get a scare when a slow moving car moves just a liiiiiittttle too close to me, but they're just looking for parking. I had my soaker ready at the hip, just in case.

I cut a wide angle to survey the entire entranceway, making sure it's clear - then sprint to the finish. My plan is to keep the double door shut with one foot, open the inner door and slam it home if anyone tries the bum rush. No one does.

In the lobby I inspect every nook and cranny, spraying corners. I take a back route to my apartment, making sure no one is hiding behind doors on incinerator closets. Hey, I'd do it.

11:30 - home, safe at last. See you in the morning!

StreetWars: Day One - Research

7:15am - okay, so I was supposed to have gotten up an hour earlier and stake out my target at home. It's a Monday, I'm lazy, you get the picture. Zzzzzz.

8:00am - Caught up on sleep, turned on the television and flipped to the building's security camera channel. Yeah, that's right - cameras at strategic locations, right there for my viewing pleasure. I kept it on while I got ready for work, eyeballing anyone around the building with suspicion.

9:05am - ready to go. I'm a little earlier than normal, but I figure unless someone takes off from work they won't be stalking me at home; I'm just too damn far uptown to make it easy. Still, no sense taking chances. I've got two guns in the gym bag, one in the jacket pocket, and one in hand when I leave the apartment. I'm also not taking the "direct route" outside the building, luckily I have more than one option. Plus two different trains I can take, neither in the same direction, and multiple routes and entrances for each. I'm still paranoid as hell as I walk to the station, aiming my pistol around every corner.

9:35am - at my work station, and I have two moments of sudden insight. One: don't leave a watergun in your pocket, it leaks. I don't think people will believe you when you stand up and there's a water stain down your pants. Of course, since it's on the side of my pants I can just shrug, grin and say "yeah, it IS that big!" Two: it is probably a bad, bad idea to pull out a watergun in a place where there are a contingent of cops. I may have to get some yellow electrical tape to wrap my blue and silver watergun with, just in case.

I did a little research, trying to see if I could find out more about my targets. Google is a wonderful, wonderful thing. John Westside is surprisingly available on the web. I've got a nice fat dossier on him so far: description of his building, some of his extracurricular interests; I may even have found a much better photo of him and his girlfriend. All that's told me one thing: he's going to be hard as hell to get. He lives in a luxury condo in a landmark area, which means there's no way I'm getting inside. He's an athlete, but does he exercise outside or use his building's built in gym? He could walk to work, or - does he drive the 12 blocks? There are so many subway options he could take, it staggers the mind. I'm betting on one route in particular, but I'm concerned about staking out his building. I'll need to check out his building in person before I can come up with a solution.

Jane Eastside, by comparison, is a virtual non-entity in the digital world. That's fine, no problem - so I spent my lunch hour checking out her neighborhood. There's a lot of possibilities there; an Associated supermarket around the corner, a Starbucks a block away, a crosstown bus line that takes her directly from home to work, east to west. There's even construction going on across the street from her building, a perfect place for a potential stalker to hide out.

So what's the problem? She lives...well, it's near yet another NY icon. And there are cops, EVERYWHERE. I gotta tell you, a black man stalking an east side building in the dark with a gun-shaped object...not high on my list of "smart things to do". But I'm gonna do it anyway, because I'm retarded that way. If you read about me on the news being shot 20 times by a rookie cop, refer back to this blog.

I don't know as much about Jane, but if I can spot her I can stalk her. John, I feel like I know already - but he's less accessible. I'm thinking, get John at work, get Jane at home.

One of them gets stalked tomorrow morning. Tonight, I've got plans. And I'm avoiding my own stalker :)

BTW: after a sudden insight of my own, I locked down my Myspace profile. Can't have people getting too much information, now can I? :)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Targets: Acquired

It's game time.

Assassination targets were distributed this weekend for StreetWars. I won't say where I was instructed to pick up my assignment, or details about the circumstances; I will tell you I ended up in a dark alley, climbing into the back of a truck, and sealing the deal with a drink of Jack.

My envelope gave me the rules of the game (sorry folks, I can't tell you details), and my assignments. Two of them, to be exact. A photo of each, with both home and work addresses. I don't have their schedules, so some degree of stalking will have to take place. One lives on the west side, the other east; for informational purposes I'll call them John Westside, and Jane Eastside.

John is potentially the most accessible to me; my real problem is his photo. It's fairly dark, and not the best picture. No offense to John, but he's a little generic looking so I'm hoping I'll even be able to distinguish him from others leaving his building or office.

Jane has a clearer photo, but I've only got a head shot - no body shot. There's nothing to give me insight as to her height or size, so again I'll have to make an educated guess and hope for the best.

I think I'll target John first. I'll need to think about this for a bit.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm Black, Of Course I Work Here

Toys R Us, today, roughly 2pm. Times Square "Megastore". I'm buying a gift for Goddaughter #2, whose birthday is this weekend. I'm wearing a black suit, black shoes, wire-framed silver glasses, and a purple shirt with black pinstripes. No tie. Corporate Chic.

She's 1, so I'm in the toddler-preschool section, looking at a Giggling Curious George.

Doofus #1: "Excuse me, where do you keep the..."
Me: "I really have no idea."
Doofus #1: "Oh, you mean you're shopping here like the rest of us?"

I wasn't feeling Georgie, so I moved on to the Disney stuff, different aisle.

Doofus #2: "You look like you work here, where are the..."
Me: "No, I'm sorry, I don't work here."
Doofus #2: "Really? You look like you do."

Say it loud. I'm black and I'm proud.

But sometimes, this shit just pisses me off.

Water Water Everywhere And Not a Drop to Drink

In preparation for the StreetWars game coming up next week, I realized I needed one key component. A watergun.

Odd that I didn't already have one, but hey - I'm 37. Why would I actually keep a watergun at hand? (those who know me - keep quiet!) So, I had to go shopping for one. In September.

Yeah, you parents out there know where I'm going with this. This is post-summer season; there ARE no waterguns out there to be found! Toys R Us, the supposed mecca of all things fun, had barely a corner shelf dedicated to whatever rejected aqueous projectors were left. The Superman shield soaker is a popular one left behind, but what need would I have of a bright red "S" emblazoned squirter that any sensible person would see a mile off?

No, I needed stealth. In a flash of brilliance I stuck with the superhero influence (forgive me, DC!) and Made Mine Marvel - a Spiderman "triple blaster" web shooter. It's essentially a water tube that straps onto your wrist, with a finger trigger hovering over your palm. Press the trigger, and "twipppt!" you're firing a triple stream of webbed water fun!

It was a good idea, in theory - but I gotta tell ya, this thing sucks. An absolute P.O.S., yes indeedy doo! The strap is obviously made for the effeminate male offspring of anorexic/bulimic models (an oxymoron), as it barely fits around my wrist. The water canister is bulky and leaks like a sieve; I'm considering making a rubber O-ring to make a better seal, and coating it with sealant.

Oh, and it shoots for shitte. Three streams the thickness of fly piss shoot out over a 10-foot length. I've spat further.

I also got in my ebay order for a keychain model Super Soaker, a Lilliputian-sized copy of the full sized green and purple classic giant super soaker cannon. Perfect as a "holdout blaster" (props to my Star Wars buddy-fans), right?

I wish. It leaks worse than the CIA, holds about a thimble of water, and still requires that annoying pump action in order to shoot. To it's credit, it will shoot that single stream of water a good 20-25 feet - so it may end up doing its job as a stealth weapon, except I'm only going to get one shot before I'm empty.

But wait, there's more!

Six Flags has a product line of toys out. Yes, as in "Six Flags Great Adventure", the theme park kings of the country. They wowed me with the Six Flags Hydro Blast Morpher. Hydroblast. Morpher. Ooooooooo!

Essentially it's 4 (count 'em, FOUR) guns in one. One large cannon, one medium gun, and two tiny pistols. What's the catch? They MORPH, baby!

Well, not really "morph". They combine ("Red Lion, Go!"). The large cannon has slots that the other three fit into, and firing the large cannon will simultaneously fire the other three - for one Mega Hydro Blasting Morphing Time ("...go go Power Rangers...")

Except. The big cannon sucks. I mean, sucks. Maybe I need to fill it up more and play with it a bit, but I could piss further than this thing shoots. The tiny pistols are handy, because they're bigger than the keychain soaker I have but small enough that they'll fit in a jacket pocket - perfect with this cooler weather we're having. They also shoot decently, maybe about a 15-foot range. And with two of them I can make like Neo, bouncing off walls while firing upside down. The medium cannon might be good for drive-bys, I'll have to play with it a bit more to see.

This weekend, I have to go pick up the rules and my target's dossier. I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And You Thought You Knew Me

Date of Birth: 4 January 1969
Your date of conception was on or about 13 April 1968 which was a Saturday. [note: how annoyingly random. Not even a holiday weekend.]

You were born on a Saturday
under the astrological sign Capricorn.
Your Life path number is 3.

Life Path Compatibility:
You are most compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 3, 6 & 9.
You should get along well with those with the Life Path numbers 1, 2, 5 & 11.
You are least compatible with those with the Life Path numbers 4, 7, 8 & 22.

The Julian calendar date of your birth is 2440225.5.
The golden number for 1969 is 13.
The epact number for 1969 is 11.
The year 1969 was not a leap year.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/30/1968 and ending 2/16/1969.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Monkey.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Goose; your plant is Bramble.

You were born in the Egyptian month of Famenoth, the third month of the season of Poret (Emergence - Fertile soil).

Your date of birth on the Hebrew calendar is 14 Tevet 5729.

The date of Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 6 April 1969.
The date of Orthodox Easter on your birth year was Sunday, 13 April 1969.
The date of Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) on your birth year was Wednesday 19 February 1969.
The date of Whitsun (Pentecost Sunday) in the year of your birth was Sunday 25 May 1969.
The date of Whisuntide in the year of your birth was Sunday 1 June 1969.
The date of Rosh Hashanah in the year of your birth was Saturday, 13 September 1969.
The date of Passover in the year of your birth was Thursday, 3 April 1969.
The date of Mardi Gras on your birth year was Tuesday 18 February 1969.

As of 9/20/2006 2:26:09 PM EDT
You are 37 years old.
You are 452 months old.
You are 1,968 weeks old.
You are 13,773 days old.
You are 330,566 hours old.
You are 19,833,986 minutes old.
You are 1,190,039,169 seconds old.

Celebrities who share your birthday:
Michael Stipe (1960) Matt Frewer (1958) Dyan Cannon (1937)
Floyd Patterson (1935) Jesse White (1917) Jane Wyman (1914)
Sterling Holloway (1905) Charles 'Tom Thumb' Stratton (1838) Louis Braille (1809)

Top songs of 1969
Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In by Fifth Dimension
In the Year 2525 by Zager & Evans
Get Back by Beatles (with Billy Preston)
Sugar, Sugar by Archies
Honky Tonk Women by Rolling Stones
Everyday People by Sly & the Family Stone
Dizzy by Tommy Roe
Wedding Bell Blues by Fifth Dimension
I Can't Get Next to You by Temptations
Crimson & Clover by Tommy James & the Shondells

Your age is the equivalent of a dog that is 5.39060665362035 years old. (You're still chasing cats!) [note: "cats", or another word used to describe felines? :) ]

There are 106 days till your next birthday
on which your cake will have 38 candles.

Those 38 candles produce 38 BTUs,
or 9,576 calories of heat (that's only 9.5760 food Calories!) .
You can boil 4.34 US ounces of water with that many candles.

In 1969 there were approximately 3.7 million births in the US.
In 1969 the US population was approximately 179,323,175 people, 50.6 persons per square mile.
In 1969 in the US there were approximately 1,800,000 marriages (9.3%) and 479,000 divorces (2.5%)
In 1969 in the US there were approximately 1,712,000 deaths (9.5 per 1000)
In the US a new person is born approximately every 8 seconds.
In the US one person dies approximately every 12 seconds.

In 1969 the population of Australia was approximately 12,407,217.
In 1969 there were approximately 250,175 births in Australia.
In 1969 in Australia there were approximately 112,470 marriages and 10,930 divorces.
In 1969 in Australia there were approximately 106,496 deaths.

Your birthstone is Garnet

The Mystical properties of Garnet
Garnet is used as a power stone

Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone (birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources):
Emerald, Rose Quartz

Your birth tree is
Fir Tree, the Mysterious
Extraordinary taste, dignity, cultivated airs, loves anything beautiful, moody, stubborn, tends to egoism but cares for those close to it, rather modest, very ambitious, talented, industrious uncontent lover, many friends, many foes, very reliable.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Yargh, I Say!

Avast, ye land lubbers! This day be one ta remember, as it be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Yea, 'tis a day which falls on th' 19th o'en each September, a day fer all ye swabs t' talk right 'n proper! Now, I kin see yer askin' yerselves, Why? Why would I be celebratin' this holiday, t'which I never heard o' before today!

Because I said so, yer scurvy knaves! And yer wouldn't be wantin' the dreaded Black Spot, now would ye? So, t'help ye along, here be a fine list o' tings ye might be wantin' to say, as ye land locked bartisches roam about yer work spaces! Arrgh! An' when yer done, go an' grab yerself a right proper pirate name ta storm th' seven seas!
"Thar she blows!" - The pirate equivalent of "Whoop, there it is!". [Arrgh...that be Whaler talk, and no respectable pirate would speak like a blubber lubber!]

"ARRRGHHHH" - this phrase shows general discontent. or it can also mean that someone is about to get wild- a.k.a. a battle cry.

"Ahoy, me hearties!" - Equivalent of "Hello, my friends!"

"Avast ye scum ridden weevil shaggers. Captain Black Beard is gonna keel haul you and grow barnacles on ye starboard knacker". - The Captain isn't happy...

"Dogs ahoy!" - Equivalent of "Things to kill, straight ahead."

"Shiver me timbers!" - Like saying "Oh My!" like my legs are shaking

"Skuttle me Skippers" - Making a mistake and being judged for/by it.

"Avast ye varmint" - Stop right there young man because you're in big trouble.

"Weigh anchor!" - Let's go!

"Yarr." - I agree.

"Yarr!" - I see your point, and agree wholeheartedly.

"Yarr-ha-harr!" - You're right!

"Yarr?" - Excuse me, what did you say?

"Yarrgh" - I respectfully acknowledge that you are right and I am wrong

"Blow me down!" - You don't say? How surprising.

"Ye Scalawag!" - You dirty dog!

"Savvy?" - Is that okay with you? Do you understand?

"Ahoy" - Call to attract attention, something akin to 'Hello, there!'

"Jack" - A flag or a sailor; showing how sailors would refer to their ship's colors as one of the crew. Hence Jack Tar for sailor and the Union Jack flag.

"Messdeck lawyer" - A know-it-all

"Salmagundi" - A dish of chopped meat, eggs, anchovies, onions and anything else the cook can throw in; A piratical delicacy

"Son of a Biscuit Eater" - Not so much a sailor term, but a derrogatory term indicating someone you don't like

"Landlubber" - A "Non-pirate" or a curse for someone who is a coward

"Weigh anchor! Hoist the mizzen!!!" - Basically adds on to Let's go!

"davey jones' locker" - death after walking the plank. your coffin in the sea.

"A merry yarn" - A good story

Movie Review: The Protector

When "Ong Bak" came out a year or so ago, my commentary then was that Tony Jaa has the makings of a martial arts star if he could only get into a movie with a script, a budget, and a director.

It still hasn't happened.

The story around the Protector is simple: Jaa plays the son of an elephant breeder who's prize bull elephant (and calf) are kidnapped and taken to Australia. Jaa takes his job very seriously, apparently, and follows them - despite not speaking a lick of English - where he finds himself embroiled in the seedy criminal underground of the Thai community down under.

Jaa is an explosive fighter, all flying knees and elbows in a style that makes Steven Segal look like he's standing still. Oh wait, he does stand still - but you get my point. You will believe a man can fly, if only for short distances. He climbs walls faster than Jackie Chan, and fires off punches and kicks to rival Jet Li.

So why does his movies seem to suck so badly?

Jaa, unfortunately, has no screen presence; he's angry, always, even when the hot girlfriend of the criminal underboss brings him to her apartment he somehow can't manage to get rid of his perpetual scowl. He hates the world, it seems, and can't understand anyone or anything - so rather than try to think his way through something he's a bull in a china shop, knocking aside anything in his way.

The criminals never seem to run out of lackeys to throw at him; I think the only other movie where I've seen so many bodies flying to the ground was Kill Bill. This would be fun to watch if those baddies could actually fight; instead they're fodder for the slaughter, living punching bags with no other purpose than to slightly slow his advance and give him an excuse to bounce off walls.

The movies plays like a video game as Jaa advances up the ranks, fighting tougher and tougher opponents. There's a scene in a burning buddhist temple (incidently, I blinked and suddenly this scene appeared from absolutely nowhere) where he fights several different martial artists of differing styles, and it's fun to watch.

Here's the problem: when the bad guy looks more interesting to watch than the hero, it's time to reconsider things. The brazilian capoeria fighter came across like a much better fighter than Jaa, and will probably make a name for himself eventually; the ends of Jaa's fights are contrived, and almost illogical.

I also have to wonder: are there really so many Thai news announcers in Australia?

Jaa has potential, I do believe that. Eventually he'll make his way into a Hollywood big budget flick, learn how to smile occasionally, and maybe even let the bad guys get in a punch or two.

The Trickster gives The Protector a measly 2 bananas out of 5.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Kelly Jr.

It's funny, the memories that stick with you and suddenly appear out of nowhere.

I'd recently bought myself a car. Truck. I'm old school, to me it's a truck - not an SUV, and definitely not a car. But whatever, it's a Chevy Blazer, 2001, 4door. Big ol' V6, which in this age where you need a credit check to buy gas may seem weird, but I need something with the horses to climb those mountain passes I always find myself on.

So I was driving my mom and baby sister upstate for a family funeral, and I have this little skeleton - about 2-3 inches long - hanging on my dashboard. I found it at this street fair I'd stumbled across in the east village a few weeks ago, at this stand selling Mexican trinkets. It's a metal skeleton, with a rainbow feathery thing on top of his head, with spring/coil legs and arms. All pasty white, with black trim. I thought it would go great on my dash, and there it hangs.

My sister saw it, and decided to poke at it and make fun of it. Now, I hadn't named the skelly yet but right then I answered, "Hey - leave Kelly Jr. alone!"

It was odd, because I hadn't thought about Kelly (Sr.) for years. Decades. See, back when I was a kid, my grandfather had this old station wagon. A couple of them, really, it was the only car he'd drive; this was in the pre-mini van days. Anyway, he worked in this toy distribution warehouse - cheap stuff, really, the kind you find at Rite Aid, Duane Reade, and discount stores. They also sold these rubber skeletons.

They were like, 10-12 inches long, oddly colored, and made of rubber. He had one that was a neon green, and it glowed in the dark at night. He hung this from his rear view mirror, dangling there for all of us kids to laugh and play with.

Incidently, this is probably why I'm as twisted as I am. But I digress.

Anyway, this skeleton - often replaced, because it was a hard life for a rubber skeleton in a family as large as our extended one - was named Kelly. Kelly, the real Kelly, was a friend of my grandfather's who was Randy Johnson-esque in stature - tall as a redwood and thin as a sapling. We'd joked, once, that the skeleton looked like Kelly - and the name stuck. I couldn't imagine riding in that station wagon without Kelly dangling from the mirror.

Now that was some 25 years ago, easily. My grandfather hasn't driven since I was in my early 20s, and he hasn't had a new Kelly since my mid teens.

So it surprised me, pleasantly, to suddenly think of it now.

Anyway. Kelly's made of good strong die-cast metal, so hopefully I won't have to worry about replacing him for years to come. Seeing him there is like looking at a child of a friend who's long left this world, and being reminded of an earlier place and time when that friend was right there beside you, laughing and joking.

It's a nice memory, isn't it?

Wii Sony?

Why does Sony insist on constantly shooting itself in the foot, over and over again?

The Playstation was the greatest game machine ever. Eh-vah. Then they came out with the PS2, and actually outdid themselves. Plus it was backwards compatible, an unheard of concept. Bravo!

Now comes the PS3, and it's a $650 beast. A beast, I tell you. And for what? Because it has some stupid proprietary blu-ray format for it's dvd drive? Come on, Sony!! Why didn't you learn your lesson when you lost the Betamax/VHS wars? Did you really think the MiniDisc was going to be a hit? Why would you believe ATRAC music formats would outshine the others? Do you really believe us to be so stupid as to pay MORE for a UMD movie disk than a regular DVD, when we can only play it on the Playtstion Portable's 3" screen? Hell Sony, you even lost the fight over what to call the IEEE1394 computer port - you named it "iLink", Apple said screw you and callied it Firewire.

Guess what we all call it now?

So instead of working together with Toshiba on HD-DVD (which uses existing technology, and is cheaper) you decided to strike out on your own. Again. If you're ever at a poker table, Sony, let me know because I know you're always going to go "all in" with that shitty pair of deuces you keep coming up with.

And for this, I'm being asked to mortgage the farm to buy a Playstation 3.

The funny thing is...after laughing at Nintendo (formerly known as Nintendon't) for years as they floundered with the Game I'm thinking of buying a Wii.

Why a Wii?

Not just because it's cheap; $250 IS a big selling point.

No, I'm considering it because it looks FUN. Remember fun? The Wii might just turn out to be the big party console of the decade, in the way that DDR wowed the masses and became a household standard. It brings interactivity to a whole new level. And I'm intrigued by it.

I love you, Sony, I do. But you're just too high maintenance.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Carpe Diem

I wasn't sure how I was going to honor yesterday. There had been a drive to make September 11th a sort of Kindness Day, a day where you strive to do something nice for your fellow man or woman. And I agree with that idea, and wondered how I was going to honor it.

Then yesterday came. And my 37 yr old cousin died. She's 2 months older than I am, and would have been 38 this coming November. She's been battling cancer for years now, but we'd thought she'd beaten it and would finally get to start living her life.

We were wrong. She suffered massive kidney and liver failure just before the weekend, and the doctors finally decided they couldn't do anything for her.

She died yesterday.

It made me think: why do people put things off? Why do people fight living life, while they can? If I found out, tomorrow, that I had cancer...what would I do?

I don't know. I really don't. But I do know one thing for certain: that while I lived, I'd find a way to make each breath, each moment count. I don't know if my cousin managed that, and a part of me will aways wonder if she lived enough, in the time she had left.

So. Rather than harp on the things in life we may miss out on while we're waiting for tomorrow to come, I'm just going to sign off with a few quotes from others, who may be better able to express how I feel. I hope you get something out of at least one of them.
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today." Dale Carnegie

"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." Gandhi

"I used to spend at least 8 hours every weekend making sure things were just perfect -"in case someone came over". Then I realized one day that no one came over; they were all out living life and having fun!" Author Unknown from Dust If You Must

"The trick is not how much pain you feel--but how much joy you feel. Any idiot can feel pain. Life is full of excuses to feel pain, excuses not to live, excuses, excuses, excuses." Erica Jong

I'm going to miss you, Vicky.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Movie Review: Covenant

I had such high hopes for this movie.

Actually, that's not completely true. I fully expected a movie with WB-pretty boys and a 2nd-rate television level script, which is what I got.

What I expected, however, was probably a bit more than I should have hoped for. I expected a cult classic, something to bring back a little of the old black magic to the movies - which has been sorely lacking lately. I'm talking about those movies from back in the day, where the witches wielded powers and made you sit up and beg for more, however cheesy the movie might actually have been. Remember Robin Tunney in "the Craft"? Julian Sands in "Warlock"? Hell, man, how about Michelle Pfieffer, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Jack Nicholson in "The Witches of Eastwick"?

Witches rocked in those flicks; they got respect. Then along came the WB, and "Charmed", and suddenly witches were like the X-men. Only all female, and with big boobs, and PMS'ing every week.

In other words, they sucked.

Then I saw the preview for "The Covenant", and I had hope - because it reminded me of yet another cult classic, one that to this day still defines the 80s generation. "The Lost Boys".

Suddenly vampires weren't guys in dust-covered velvet and silk, pretending that the Victorian age hasn't passed them by several centuries. Vampires were rockers, they were young, they were cool. You didn't have to be British to be a vampire, these vamps...hell. They were AMERICAN.

I saw a little of that, with the previews for the Covenant. Unfortunately, that's the only place you see it.

The storyline is embarassingly predictable; there are no surprises here. None. Once upon a time, the small colonial town of Ipswich was founded by five wealthy families. Then along came the Salem witch hunts, and the last remaining member of one of those families was accused of witchcraft. Several dozen logs of timber and a matchstick later, the Fab Five is down to the Fantastic Four - so they make a Covenant not to display their witchy powers for the world to see. Plus, using the mojo sucks up all your life energy, so it's all for the best.

Fast forward to the present, and the four families are still large and in charge. In Ipswich, which hasn't changed much to my reckoning, but hey - big fish, small pond. One of the Sons of Ipswich (I didn't make this up) is about to turn 18 and gain his full witchy powers...but along comes a spider, who sat down beside get the picture.

The 5 male leads are all typical WB-style clones, which almost makes them generic; at various points it was hard to tell who was who. And I swear, I think the barn the final battle is fought in is Clark's barn from Smallville.

So that leaves the witchy powers, and the special effects crew. Who didn't disappoint. At least...not for the first half of the movie. I couldn't help but wonder if the writer quit, so the director just said "hey, let's keep doing more of the same and hope no one noticed we stopped having original ideas!"

The climatic battle between the main two figures is...anticlimatic. You know exactly how it'll turn out, before it actually starts. I wanted Merlin vs. Nimue, Gandalf vs. Sauramon. I wanted to see an epic battle between two witches changing reality back and forth, conjuring things, calling up the fires of hell and lightning from the heavens.

Instead we got a fight between two telekinetics. Hence the X-men reference. I mean, the magic ball looked good...a few times. Once you realize it's all they're going to do, it becomes a poorly done Shaolin Soccer match. On a positive side, if they ever make a live action Dragonball Z in Hollywood they can use this as a template.

This movie had potential, it really did. It started out so well, I would really like to know if something changed mid-way through making it. In the end, we got stuck with a drawn-out WB movie that might actually work okay as a television series.

The Trickster gives this one a reluctant 3 out of 5 bananas, if only because I did at least feel entertained.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mafia Bible? Gives "Holy" New Meaning

This was semi-interesting:

BBC News, Thursday, 7 September 2006, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
FBI probes 'Mafia Bible' for code

Italian officials have handed to the FBI a Bible that belonged to suspected Mafia kingpin Bernardo Provenzano to see whether it contains a secret code.
Provenzano, 73, was captured in Sicily in April after 43 years on the run.

The Bible found in his isolated hut contained dots, arrows and notations and investigators want to know if it is a code that will unlock other messages.

Provenzano, who allegedly took over the Sicilian Mafia in 1993, is held in a top security prison in central Italy.

I say semi, because when I read this I had this immediate thought:

When they figure it out, will they call it "Da Vinny Code"? :)

Tag, You're It

I'm going to assassinate someone later this month.

No, I haven't joined the CIA. Instead I've signed up for an annual city-wide interactive game called "StreetWars", where I get to be hunted - and hunt others.

It's a 3-week long, 24/7 watergun assassination tournament that has already taken place here in New York City for the past few years, as well as in other cities worldwide: San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Vienna, and Vancouver. At the start of the game you receive a photo of your intended target and their contact information. Your goal: wet them, by any means necessary. Water gun, water balloon, super soaker. You can stalk them, pose as a delivery person, ambush them any way you see fit.

A wet target is a dead target, and they're forced to hand over their intended target over to you. Which, of course, becomes your new target.

I'm probably going to get my butt handed to me on a wet platter, but I'm in it for the fun of the hunt. All I want to do is survive long enough to get a few kills under my belt, just so I can say I didn't get wiped out (pun intended) on the first day. For three weeks I'll be living in a paranoid world, where everyone I see on the street is a potential assassin out to get me.

Sounds like fun, don't it? Now...I just need to go out and get me a watergun...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's Been Foretold

Prophecies are hard.

Not deciphering them, although I'm sure that isn't a simple thing. I mean making them up. It's a pain, really. I'm making one up for a storyline i'm working on, and I gotta tell you it's frustrating because even though you're making something up, you want it to be believable. You want it to make sense, and not have people question it but accept that it could be true.

I was watching the movie "End of Days" tonight, the flick where Robin Tunney is the chick the devil wants to bear his kid. Ah-nold is the hero who saves her from being raped by lucifer and giving birth to the antichrist.

The plot point here is that the devil needs to impregnate the girl between 11pm and 12am, New Year's Eve, or the whole plan goes to shit. All the Guvinator has to do is keep the girl away from his unholy scepter until the hour passes, and the world is saved for another hundred years.'s a Schwartzennegar movie. Which means I shouldn't be thinking too hard, right? So why did I?

It's because of that damn prophecy. Let me ask you this: why, specifically, between 11pm and 12am? Why an hour? Why not 3, which is a more magic number? Or 7 hours? How about 7 minutes? Or maybe, 6 minutes past the 6th hour of the 6th day? Or some crap like that?

And when they say between 11pm and that EST, since the story takes place in New York? Why not Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which would mean the hour is already 5 hours gone?

Why New Year's Eve? In fact, why the Western version of it? Why not the Jewish New Year, which Christ (and, presumably, Satan and God) would have followed - which would make the prophecied New Year out to be Rosh Hashanna?

When was the prophecy made? Was it based on our current Gregorian calendar, or was it based on the Roman calendar, which was used up to 45 BC? Or was it on the Julian calendar, which was in effect throughout Europe until 1753?

See? Not so easy, is it?