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30 Day Song Challenge: Day 2 Your Least Favorite Song

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 by ejrussell

Remember in Day 1 how I described how Weezer’s Buddy Holly filled me with energy and excitement? How every time the song was played I simply had to dance and/or sing along? Well today’s song does the exact opposite. It fills me with an intense violent unstoppable rage that makes me want to punch somebody in the face. The song you ask? “How Bizarre” by OMC.

OMC was something of a national success back in their native New Zealand and “How Bizarre” ended up becoming one of the most popular songs in that country. Wikipedia has more here if you’re at all interested. All I know is that there are ear worms and then there are parasites that make you want to do violence on the makers of such an abomination. Yes this is one of those parasites. For the life of me how can anyone like this song? On purpose? The lyrics make no sense, the singer’s voice annoys me and it quite possibly has the most mind numbing chorus in any pop song ever. I don’t understand how this ever made it as an international success? Is New Zealand really that bad at making pop music? Well no, there’s always A Crowded House. However I’m going to be completely honest and say that only three good things have ever come out of New Zealand: Kiwis (the cute little bird, not the fruit that actually comes from China. Seriously!) Maori Hakas and Peter Jackson.

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30 Day Song Challenge Day 1: Your Favorite Song

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2011 by ejrussell

So in an effort to keep this blog alive I’m going to do the 30 Day Song Challenge right here on my blog. I hope that I can keep up and make something special out of this rather than just having it be me saying something like “Hey this song is neat!”. My goal here is to explain what each song means to me through fun little anecdotes and how big a hit the song was etc. So without further ado my favorite song:

Buddy Holly by Weezer

This song made its debut on Weezer’s 1994 self titled debut album, which would later become known as the “Blue Album”. According to Wikipedia the track peaked at number 2 on the Modern Rock chart and at number 17 on the Top 40 chart. Learn more here.

So why exactly is this my favorite song? Well I love dancing to it, it’s by my favorite rock band, and most importantly it’s perfect for some old-fashioned car karaoke. Seriously I just love belting out the words every time this song is played. When I was in high school, my sister and I would blast the radio in her crappy Ford Escort every time this, or other scream worthy songs, played on the radio. The result was a blown out passenger door speaker. Seriously I only have fond memories of this song growing up, with the exception of one church dance. About ten years ago this song made its way into the rotation at the aforementioned dance and when those first chords and Rivers Cuomo’s unmistakable voice emerged from the sound system the entire dance floor erupted with energy and excitement! Only then for the DJ to stop the song mid first verse, claiming that the song had a “bad vibe” to it. I guess the word “violent” made him uneasy. The thing that made it all the more hilarious was that the next song he did decide to play was some trashy pop song about “getting it on” and “making love”. Go figure.

Top Ten of 2010! (Finally!)

Posted in Pop Culture on April 9, 2011 by ejrussell

Way back in December of 2010 I had devised a list of my favorite things from that year. Obviously I waited and waited to post and now here we are four months into the new year. As they say better late than never. I usually say “why bother?” but I figure if I just keep writing, no matter the subject, it’ll keep the creative juices flowing. One thing that I have extreme difficulty doing is, staying on task. My mind really likes to wander and I hate when that happens because I usually end up having to search for the little guy. So with intent to complete a goal this year in finishing my book that I started last year and making more use of this blog, I present to you, whom ever you are, my Top Ten favorite things of last year!

10.) Human Target

Seriously one of the coolest shows ever. Loosely based on a DC Comics character, the show follows the exploits of former hit man turned bodygaurd Christopher Chance and his two partners Winston and Guerrero. Together the boys form a “Security Firm” by placing Chance directly in danger with the client to expose whoever is trying to kill said client. Thus making our hero, say it with me now, a human target. While the show has plenty of great action and tough guys being well tough, what really makes the show work is the three leads played by Mark Valley as Chance, Chi McBride as Winston and Jackie Earl Haley as Guerrero. The chemistry between these actors is fantastic and lend a nice realistic qualities to the characters when the show itself is not. Unfortunately the second season didn’t quite measure up to the first thanks to the shoehorning of two new female leads, for no other reason than to have permanent female leads. Anyway I recommend this show it’s worth a look!

9.) The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Seriously one of the funniest things ever made! This awesome webcomic created by Chris Hastings, follows the adventures of an Irish-American ninja who happens to be a doctor. Trust me it’s better than it sounds. The whole thing is just weird, weird and absolutely funny! Thrill as Dr. McNinja rides a robot Dracula back to earth! Behold his awesome side kick,12 year old Gordito and his mustache of awesome! And many more weird villains such as an evil unicorn known as Sparkle Lord! Honestly this really isn’t for everyone but I like it!

Dr. McNinja in Action!

Dr. McNinja battling a child afflicted with Paul Bunyan's disease. Seriously.

8.) Justified

“Justified” is based on a short story called “Fire in the Hole” written by Elmore Leonard, who happens to be one of the best crime novelists ever. The series is basically a modern western starring Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, and his current assignment in rural Kentucky where he grew up. You see Raylan got himself in trouble by having a shoot-out with a gangster in Miami, but because the gangster pulled first Raylan deems his actions as “justified”. As punishment he is sent back to his home state to track down an old colleague named Boyd Crowder. That’s just the beginning as we see Raylan struggle with coming home and his own family’s criminal past, and how he really doesn’t fit in with modern law enforcement. It’s a lot like watching “Dirty Harry: the Series!” which isn’t a bad thing at all. Again this isn’t for everyone but if you like plot twists and crime fiction this one’s for you.

7.) Splinter Cell: Convicton

Words cannot describe the awesome that is the Splinter Cell series, and this latest one is one of the best entries yet. As far as games go the action is fluid and completely responsive and ultimately satisfying. You really feel like some sort of hardcore secret agent hellbent on revenge, however the story is kinda weak. It’s the same “Oh no! the U.S. government is secretly evil!” plot that just doesn’t jive all that well with me. To be fair it’s just one part of the whole of government but still it’s cliched and boring. Other than that it’s lots of fun.

6.) Despicable Me

This movie is fantastic. It made me laugh, it sorta made me cry, but mostly I just laughed. The story is great and the idea of a supervillain adopting three little girls in an attempt to defeat a rival is comedy gold. Steve Carrell always makes me laugh and here of course is no exception. His villainous Gru is so over the top and just weird that you just have to sit back and appreciate the absurdity of it all. Plus you just have a cuteness overload with the three little girls who just want to have a family that loves them. D’awww.

5.) Toy Story 3

Holy cow I love this movie. I remember seeing the first one when I was 11 and being completely blown away. I even got a Buzz Lightyear action figure that Christmas! Everything about this movie was just great, the animation, the jokes and the nostalgia was just overwhelming. I heard that this movie got a lot of flack for being a little dark, maybe too dark for the kids, but for my money I thought the tone was consistent with the first two films. For the three people who haven’t seen it beware of spoilers, you have been warned. As we all know Andy is now grown up and headed to college and wants to take Woody with him however through a series of mishaps Woody, Buzz and Company accidentally wind up at a daycare run by the sinister Lotso Hugs Bear. I won’t give away all of it, suffice to say that it’s great and the end of course made me rain in my eyes.

4.) Iron Man 2

For the life of me I cannot understand why so many people thought that this film was inferior to the first one. Honestly I thought it was better written, the character motivations were more clear, and the action was far more intense. Of course many critics thought the exact opposite, so different strokes for doofuses I guess. In this adventure we see our selfish hero Tony Stark sink into some serious self-destructive behavior, while trying to be a great hero. Of course he learns that he can’t do it alone as his closest friends begin to abandon him. Oh and Tony happens to be dying. And it turns out that a psycho named Vanko has it in for Tony’s family because apparently, according to Vanko anyway, the Stark family is a bunch of thieves. I honestly think time will vindicate this entry into the series as the superior of the two, much the same way as The Empire Strikes Back was equally vindicated by history.

3.) The Lost Finale

Seriously I cannot think of a better ending to this show than what was given. A lot of viewers complained but, when pressed they couldn’t think of a better way either, so there you go. This show made a huge impact on my life when I first watched it and it continues to resonate with me to this day. In the end it wasn’t really about the mysteries of the “Island” but rather the people who were affected by it. I was debating on whether I should put this lower on the list simply because not everyone has seen the show, but in the end I figured “Hey this is my list and I loved the end!”. If you haven’t seen the show I highly recommend it and please stick with it, you won’t be disappointed. I hope.

2.) Inception

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? This movie rocks my socks. Leonardo DiCaprio was really good in it. This movie did for French girls, what Jaws did for sharks. The whole thing feels like what would’ve happened if Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick got together with Elmore Leonard to make a heist movie. It’s great and if you haven’t seen it do so.

And for my numero uno favorite thing from last year is: A TIE! Well not like a tie you wear, but like well… Anyway I decided to have two absolute favorite things from last year and they are the videogame Mass Effect 2 and the excellent epic fantasy novel The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. First up I’m gonna talk about the game:

This game is just near perfect. It’s essentially an interactive “Choose Your Own Adventure” book but with better writing and not for kids. In fact this game is a great example of showing that videogames aren’t just for children and are capable of strong storytelling narratives like any book or movie. To bring you up to speed on what this game exactly is about, you play as Lt. Commander Shepard an elite spec-op serviceman from the Human Alliance Navy in the mid 2180’s. In the future mankind has joined the ranks of a galactic society and seems to be integrating well for the most part. Shepard is hailed as a hero due to his or her actions from last game (you get to choose Shepard’s gender, background and physical appearance) and while on a routine recon mission Shepard’s ship is promptly attacked and gets blown up. With Shepard inside it. Then Shepard dies. This is all within the first ten minutes of the game! Afterwards however, a shady pro-human anti-space alien group known as Cerberus finds Shepard’s remains and brings him/her back to life. The reason? Mankind is danger of a new threat to the galaxy and Shepard is the only one who can stop it. Like I said this game is great, you get cool new super powers and weapons (the Nuke cannon is my favorite!) plus the ability to either be virtuous or a total jerk to the characters you meet is always fun. Love this game!

Next up The Way of Kings!

I heart this book!

I honestly have no idea on where to start with this book. It’s just so wonderfully written and the sheer scope and depth of it all is just a tad overwhelming. The Way of Kings is the first in a proposed series of TEN novels known as The Stormlight Archive, it takes place on a world known as Roshar. The planet is completely savaged by hurricane force storms called highstorms, that are so violent that the ground has no soil only bare rock. The animals are crustacean like and plants retract into the rock like anemones would into a reef. Humans take shelter into natural rock formations and build cities into the rock itself for protection. The story follows a young soldier turned slave named Kaladin who seems to be suffering from a Ben-Hur/Spartacus complex. Kaladin who was once a talented surgeon-to-be, enlists in his provinces army to protect his brother. Of course that doesn’t work out and is then sent to the bridge crews to carry siege equipment in his nation’s (named Alethkar) war against the savages known as the parshendi on what is called the Shattered Plains. It’s awesome. The story also follows two other characters as well: Dalinar brother of the assassinated king of Alethkar and a young noblewoman named Shallan Davar from the neighboring kingdom of Jah Kaved. All three of these stories come together in a satisfying cliffhanger that makes me eagerly anticipate the next book with eagerness.

Well there you have it my totally belated list of things I thought were cool from last year! Boy this list rambled…

I Dare You to Move…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2011 by ejrussell

This is coming together a little later than I had anticipated but I’m excited to be writing again. I’m now officially 27. To be honest I never thought I’d make it this far, and in some small way I really haven’t. I’m independent and an adult, but I haven’t really accomplished all that much since becoming an adult. I have several lofty goals this year, chief among them is to get working again. In good times this wouldn’t be so hard, however these aren’t good times. Far from it. So this is going to be a hard obstacle to overcome, however I’m confident that things are going to turn out for the best. In addition to all that I’m going to dust off my book again, because honestly it’s going to be a good exercise to write better stories.

The next goal is dating. I really hate it. It’s like the job interview from hell, only this time the boss is going to be around for an eternity. No pressure. However this time around I’m far more mature to really handle a relationship, and I’m also more confident a human being than I was even two years ago. I was always weird around girls and too self conscious to even speak to one normally. I still have that problem from time to time but now it’s toward girls I have no real interest in. That last sentence may seem kind of cold, but it’s the honest truth. If I feel I have no connection with a young woman then really what’s the point? Now to be fair, I’m always polite and will always lend an ear to those who need it, but I’m not going to fall all over myself to get to know someone I have no real desire to get to know. Having said that I am genuinely interested in getting to know as many girls as I can so I can choose wisely, y’know for the sake of eternity and all that.

The last part is going to be my education. The way things are looking now this may be a goal for next year. My debts are much too large to ignore right now to even think about going to school full time. I’d like to go eventually, and I’m excited for the future. It’s going to be hard when I do get there,only because I’m super lousy at school. How you “A” students do it is beyond me. I also have the trouble of setting my heart on just one subject because I love so many different things that it’s hard to decide on just one thing to pick. Maybe I’ll do the impossible and become a dual major. No. Forget that, forget I said any thing.

So that’s just about it, and I hope that all of these things turn out the way they need to. I’m just glad that I have so many friends and family who have been so supportive over the years. I’m not all that easy to live with, and It’s amazing that so many have taken frequent rides on my Mood Swings. So far it’s been an amazing journey and I hope that we can all continue to go forth with a firm reliance in Divine Providence and many laughs. To all of you have managed to put up with me over the years, you all are too important to me for words!

“Joe Quinn and his Adventurers in: Lightening in a Bottle” Chapter 3 “Sunday Meetings”

Posted in Novel on April 2, 2010 by ejrussell

Chapter 3

It was a pleasant day in the province of Virginia. Arch Duke Sebastian Reinhold of the American Provinces was enjoying his breakfast in his palace. While he wasn’t particularly fond of this part of the world, he did enjoy the pleasant weather that came with it. Aside from that however he preferred to be in his home land of Germany. Reinhold didn’t understand why the Holy European Empire just didn’t take the rest of the American continent by force. After all it was the destiny of the world to be unified was it not? The so-called “New” Americans were self indulgent and uncaring for their own neighbors. They simply thrived on the disease of competition and the illusion of “free will”. No one man is the other’s better; all are equal. They would soon understand that or they would suffer the consequences. The Arch Duke was on a personal errand by the command of the Holy Emperor of Europe. He could not be selfish in his own desires to be home, he must find the key to the weapon.

Reinhold was contemplating on the wonderful irony of it all; a weapon designed by one of the Founders of New America only to be destroyed by it. It would only serve those cowards right, to be destroyed by their own desires of “free enterprise”. If such a notion were true they would share their inventions with the world and not keep it hidden from their neighbors. The Unification had not been easy for Europe and would not be easy for the rest of the world, but it had to be done for the harmony of mankind. Reinhold finished his musings and his breakfast. He made his way from the dining hall to his personal chambers to change from his pajamas to his formal military wear. He found his uniform hanging on a rack which was on the door leading to the closet. The dark blue jacket and pants matched well with the cold blue eyes of the Arch Duke.

After he dressed and groomed himself Reinhold took a long look at himself in the mirror, proud of his handsome looks. He ran his fingers through his jet black hair and permitted himself a vain smile. There was much to do today; there were briefings from his agents who were arriving from New America for the latest details. On top of those duties his son had a piano recital that was to be performed later in the evening. Reinhold didn’t enjoy the thought of his son attending a boarding school on foreign soil; he needed to be taught in his own country. No that wasn’t right; Reinhold was being selfish again. It wasn’t his will it was the will of his Emperor to have his son educated here. Reinhold was grateful.

Making his way to the bottom floor of his cavernous palace, Reinhold was greeted by his valet who then escorted him to the Arch Duke’s steam carriage. It was a truly marvelous device, only one of five in all of the thirteen provinces. Situating himself in the passenger seat in the rear of the carriage Reinhold fastened his wind goggles over his eyes and awaited his driver who did the same and the two were off. During the drive Reinhold was hoping for good news for a change. It had been nearly six weeks since any new information had been uncovered regarding the location of the key that would lead to the weapon. Reinhold did not want to be disappointed.

After a ten minute ride Reinhold arrived at his desired destination, the train depot. His top agent would be arriving any moment with news for good or for ill. It was only a moment waiting on the platform when the train arrived. Stepping off the Royal passenger car reserved for Empire officials was Reinhold’s man Owens. Owens, Reinhold knew, did not enjoy his previous assignment in killing Jonathan Foster but sacrifices for the Empire had to be made. Reinhold watched the shorter stockier Owens make his way to himself. The expression on Owens face was not pleasant. When Owens approached he gave the customary salute of the Empire “Guten Tag Herr Owens” said the Arch Duke “I’m sure you have some news to give me?” Owens grimaced and let out a bitter laugh “Hardly.” The spy said “It’s been o’er two months and we still don’t ‘ave the key.”

It was stunning to Reinhold that a country could have invented an entire language yet they didn’t even know how to speak it. No matter there was more pressing issues at hand. What Reinhold needed to know was what was available at the moment, regardless of what little information they have. “I’m beginning to question whether we need this key to open the ruins to retrieve this weapon” said the Arch Duke “His Holiness wouldn’t want us delaying our Empire’s plans any further.” “Oh we need it boss, trust me on that” countered Owens. Reinhold was afraid of that. Something was protecting those catacombs and no one knew how to get around that door. They tried everything from explosives, to steam powered drills, to wishful thinking and nothing seemed to work. “Is there anything else to report Herr Owens?” Reinhold asked. Reinhold looked over at Owens and noticed a particularly sour expression on the man’s face “Well Owens, anything?” “The bloody N.A.’s know.” Owens said bitterly “What do they know?” “Everything boss, everything. They even hired some sort of national war hero to do the job of stealin’ the weapon.” This was most unfortunate for Reinhold to hear.

He began to wonder how long the N.A.’s, as Owens called them, knew of the Empire’s plans. None of that seemed to matter at the moment any longer, what mattered now was stopping the enemy from gaining access to the weapon. “You say they know everything, correct?” Reinhold asked his spy “Yeah everything. The treaty, location, all of it.” came the reply. Reinhold permitted a little smirk “Then they are as much in the darkness as we are Mein Bruder. We will use this to our advantage.” Owens seemed to understand what Reinhold was saying and nodded slightly. Reinhold was about to do everything in his power to be sure the enemy never reached the Empire. Well everything without creating a new war of course. “Come Owens. The N.A.S. will be ready for us to strike, therefore we must strike first!” Reinhold said as they made their way to the steam carriage.

***

Elisabeth Fayette had just arrived from New Orleans. Joe was late again as usual and she didn’t like to be kept waiting. She wasn’t exactly sure what he was playing at, considering he was the one who forced her out of his life. She wasn’t in the least ready to forgive him for his actions in South America and if this was supposed to be his way of apologizing then forget it! So Elisabeth was left on the platform at the train station in St. Louis, tempted to purchase another ticket back home. Her first interaction with Joe had been wonderful. He was handsome and brave, most importantly however was that Joe treated her equally. Elisabeth felt safe when she was with Joe, in spite of his moments of recklessness. He often praised her marksmanship and her ability to curse like the rest of “the boys”. Now Joe had grown cold towards her, Elisabeth felt.

Elisabeth just wasn’t proper like a lady. She was far more comfortable as an adventuring heroine. She was drawing quite the stares from passersby on the train platform, with hushed tones of disapproval. Elisabeth’s crime? She was wearing trousers and what appeared to be a man’s duster coat. Not that it diminished her beauty in any way. Standing at just under six feet, Elisabeth’s statuesque figure was far more striking in trousers than she would be in a formal dress with a corset. Her dark brown hair was put up in a bun, and her head was adorned with a black coachman’s hat. With deep blue eyes and skin that was a medium tan, Elisabeth was hard to ignore. Her Choctaw and Parisian features were on constant display. Her grandfather, a former representative of the Choctaw nation, called her “Masheli” which translated into English meant “Fair Sky”. She often wondered why; before his death she asked him “Because men must look up to the sky to see your loveliness” he told her. She was unusually tall for a woman, but Elisabeth never felt she was all that beautiful.

That made the young woman even more confused as to why Joe had been so fond of her. He wanted more, Elisabeth needed less. The worst came when she felt that maybe there might be something between them. Of course she realized that there was only animosity between her and Joe; deep down it broke her in two though she would never admit it to anyone.  She began to realize she was happier than she was now. She had been with Joe’s crew for three years until it disbanded and now every young suitor her mother could find came to call. It was a nice change of pace for Elisabeth, yet she didn’t been long to that world. Frankly she wasn’t sure where she belonged. Elisabeth, for whatever reason, felt compelled to at least hear Joe out.

When the waiting began to become far too unbearable and the temptation to head back home too great, Elisabeth heard a familiar voice call out to her “Bonjour mon petite enfant!” it was Babineaux! Elisabeth turned around and found the old man dressed in the most presentable outfit she had ever seen him wear. She quickly rushed to embrace her old friend and through her arms around the man who had been the father she never had. “I’ve missed you so!” Elisabeth said while kissing Babineaux on each cheek. The old man laughed “I’ve missed you too Fair Sky.” he said. “I assume that you’re here for the same reasons that I am Madame?” Babineaux asked. Elisabeth was reluctant to give an answer but she knew she could never slip anything past Babineaux. At the same time she didn’t want him getting the wrong idea about why she came back. Then again why had she come back? She immediately shook the feeling and thought it best to tell the truth “Yes I’m here to listen to Josephus’ newest venture” said Elisabeth “However I’m not sure I will accept his offer of helping him start a shipping company of all things.”

Babineaux let out a laugh loud enough to wake the dead. Elisabeth was immediately confused by the outburst from her friend “What are you laughing about?” she asked sternly. “Is that what he told you?” Babineaux said trying to contain his laughter “Young lady this isn’t about a mere shipping company, this is something else entirely.” Elisabeth could feel her face going red with unbridled anger How could that, that, braggart, lie to me?! She thought. Babineaux seemed to notice the young lady’s demeanor change and stopped laughing. She had had it! Elisabeth picked up her two suitcases and began to take off towards the ticket counter. “Wait, Fair Sky! Wait!” she heard Babineaux calling after her. She didn’t listen nor did she break step; she made her mind up. She was going home. Suddenly she felt a harsh grip on her upper arm. Elisabeth turned and saw Babineaux holding her arm with enough force to crush a diamond.

Babineaux may have been much older but he was stronger than most men who were in their prime. “Unhand me!” Elisabeth protested. “Not until you simmer down and tell me why you ran off in a huff.” Babineaux said evenly. As Elisabeth began to relax, Babineaux’s grip also slackened. At this moment Elisabeth felt very foolish, as she looked around and saw that she had created quite a scene. Onlookers were giving disapproving shakes of the head and continuing their silent criticisms of the young woman. “Why did Josephus lie to me?” Elisabeth asked. “I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him when he gets here?” countered Babineaux. Elisabeth felt even more foolish for her behavior. She didn’t like being left in the dark about things and worse yet, he had sent a telegram. Why didn’t he just call her on her telephone? She could, for whatever reason, feel tears starting to well up in her eyes. Why did she even come here? Elisabeth let out a sigh and fought back the tears and the last scrap of romantic feelings that she may have had for Joe. She was here for business, even if it wasn’t for what Joe had originally told her in the telegram. The one true consolation in this trip is that she could visit with Babineaux.

“Are you going to be all right, Fair Sky?” Babineaux asked Elisabeth, calling her by the pet name her grandfather had given her. “I’ll be fine” Elisabeth replied “I just don’t understand why Josephus isn’t here to explain himself.” Babineaux let out another laugh and said “My dear, don’t you know that today is Sunday? Joe’s gone to church like the do-gooder he is.” Elisabeth should have realized that today was Sunday. It explained why everyone was in particularly splendid dress as opposed to casual daily wear. Another thing that Elisabeth couldn’t figure out about Joe was his religious belief; especially after all of the horrible things that he went through during the war… Her mind was wandering again when she didn’t want it to.

In an attempt to clear her mind, Elisabeth thought it best to steer the conversation toward her present company. Elisabeth asked Babineaux “Well Dr. what have you been working on during your ‘forced retirement’?” At that Moment Babineaux’s eyes lit up with excitement and he began to speak excitedly “This new invention could revolutionize the world of transportation! It uses a modified form of oil as fuel that burns internally. Using the crude oil that’s in abundance from Texas, this new form of engine could solve our resource problems!” Elisabeth wasn’t exactly sure what her old friend was talking about but he seemed excited about it anyhow.

“It sounds wonderful Babineaux.” Elisabeth said politely. The two then made their way back to the shipping platform to wait for Babineaux’s crate which contained his device. All along the way Elisabeth continued intricacies of Babineaux’s new invention, but her mind began to slip back towards Joe. She didn’t even want to think about him, yet there he was in her mind’s eye. She wanted to shake him but her memory refused to let go.

***

Joe was sitting in the third pew from the pulpit, listening to the sermon. It was a typically fiery one as well. Joe wasn’t overly faithful but he felt this was the best way to honor his family’s memory, particularly his mother who was very devout in her faith. He believed of course, but he wasn’t too sure if there was a vengeful being that created all of mankind just to kill it all in the end. That to Joe indicated that, God had made a mistake when God was supposed to be perfect. Joe believed in something, he just wasn’t sure what. It was nearing 1 o’clock and would have to be leaving soon to meet with Elisabeth and the crazy old codger Babineaux. Babineaux had surprisingly been the easiest persuade to come back to the crew. Walter decided to come back for the plain reason that someone else would crash the airship and there wouldn’t be any of that. The Professor had been slightly more difficult to come back because he was convinced the whole thing was a hoax. If it hadn’t been for the urgings of the old man’s granddaughter Hannah, the two wouldn’t be arriving tomorrow morning.

Tsui of course was somewhere in town losing money and not staying on the ship. It was a constant struggle for the Captain and the Mercenary. Joe was constantly trying to rein in Tsui’s appetites and bombast. There was many a time when he was close to firing Tsui, but had changed his mind. It was an odd partnership for the two. They got on well when it was convenient for the both of them but, it was never a fully trustworthy partnership. Joe needed Tsui for this adventure however, and there was no way he was going to let him go.

The droning of condemnation from the pastor continued while Joe was lost in thought until at last it was time for a hymn. It seemed to Joe that singing was the only time one could feel any love from a higher power in church. It was in this time that the service felt any emotion resembling love and love toward one’s fellow man. Joe wasn’t much of a singer but this was the one exception in which he sang publicly. The hymn came to a close and the congregation seated once more as the collection plate made its way around the chapel. Joe hated the collection plate. He could feel the eyes of the congregation peering in on him. It seemed to Joe that they were simply seeing how charitable Joe really was with his money. Frankly how Joe had it figured it was none of their damn business if he gave $100 or $.01 to the plate.

The plate made its way to Joe begging him to give it everything he had. The meager donations would make some of the wealthiest donors in the nation scoff. Although that had been the point of the Widow’s mites was it not. Everything these people had was on that plate. Joe let out a sigh and pulled out his pocketbook and felt the room grow still and silent in anticipation. So much for not letting what one hand knows what the other did thought Joe as he doubled the amount that was on the plate. Instantly murmurs spread amongst the congregation about Joe’s donation. Some were grateful, most however felt that he was being boastful. Joe didn’t care, he did his Christian duty.

With that the service was over and Joe needed to get going, Elisabeth was going to be upset and she hated him enough as it was. Joe also didn’t feel any better about lying to her in the telegram but he didn’t have her connecting number for a phone call. He couldn’t let risking the telegram being intercepted by spies. She was most likely going to be upset with the news, but Joe couldn’t care less. Joe felt that he could persuade Elisabeth once she knew what was at stake.

Joe was nearly at the door when he heard the voice of the pastor call out to him. Joe cringed, put on his most polite smile and turned around. “Yes sir?” Joe said as he greeted the pastor. Pastor Reynolds firmly gripped Joe’s hand and smiled. “Josephus this church is grateful for your contributions today!” boomed the pastor. For being significantly shorter than Joe, the pastor had quite the booming baritone. The rather loud voice echoed throughout the chapel’s stone walls. Joe wasn’t quite sure what to say to the man other than a simple “You’re welcome” as he tried to make a getaway from the clergyman. Not only was the pastor shorter than Joe, he also possessed an iron clad grip on Joe’s hand.

“Young man,” the pastor began to drone “If only the whole of the congregation could match your generosity!” Most of this congregation can’t afford a can of beans, Joe thought incredulously. Somewhere in the pastors heavy handed words a scream echoed throughout the church. Not exactly a scream but more a cry for help than anything really. Both the pastor and Joe looked around for the distressed voice. At that moment one of the church’s endless deacons appeared, clearly panic stricken. “Pastor Reynolds!” shrieked the deacon “The money from the collection plate is gone!” With that Joe began to look around for the culprit.

As Joe looked around he saw coins on the floor and the doors to the chapel ajar. He immediately bolted out the door and looked up and down the street and saw more coins littering the sidewalk heading southward. Joe followed the money and turned left into an alleyway a block from the chapel. There he saw a small frame of a boy curled up close to a wall, with his eyes tightly closed. Joe crouched down to the boy’s level and saw that the boy was tightly clutching the collection money to his chest.

Joe saw that the young boy was wearing trousers that were about three sizes too big, with a belt tied around his waist for a belt. Similarly the shirt was much too big, that the sleeves looked like sails on a boat. The same went for the well worn shoes. As far as Joe could tell the poor boy needed the money more than the church. “Say boy, y’all together?” Joe asked, “If you need money for your family, perhaps I can help.” At that moment the boy shrieked “Leave me family ‘lone!” Joe was startled by, not only the yell but, the accent as well. He was from somewhere in what was formerly known as the British Isles. Although Joe couldn’t tell if it were Scottish or British, as he could never tell such things. The boy stood up and began to run, but Joe being much quicker and bigger grabbed the boy.

“Now settle down boy, I ain’t gonna hurt ya!” Joe said while the boy in his arms struggled to break free. “Don’t hurt me dad!” shrieked the boy, continuing his struggle to break free from Joe’s grasp. After hearing the boy’s voice a second time Joe recognized the accent as being from one of the southern provinces of Old America. He then asked the boy “Where’s your dad?” The boy stopped struggling in that moment and started to cry “I’ve lost ‘im. I can’t find ‘im!” Joe put the boy down and looked hard on the little one’s dirty face. Tears were leaving streaks in dirt on the boy’s face. The boy cried some more and in between gasps he managed to speak “I’m lost! I’ve been takin’ monies ‘cause I haven’t any food.”

Joe listened to the boy and began to conjure up an idea that was sure to rile the crew but he had no choice. “Tell me boy where ya from an’ what’s your name?” The boy looked up at Joe with his big blue eyes and replied “Virginia. I’m Billy.” Joe smiled and said “Name’s Joe. Now if you help me take back that money to the church I’ll help ya find your dad, all right?” Billy gave Joe a quizzical look and asked “How’re ye goin’ to do it?” “Well I got an airship and can fly you back to Virginia and we can find your dad. Do we have a deal?” Joe answered. Billy’s face lit up with wonder as his eyes darted from left to right. “Well?” Joe asked studying the young boy’s face. “You ‘ave a ship?” Billy asked in excitement “You can use it to find me dad?” he concluded.

Joe smiled and was relieved that he got the boy to simmer down. “Yep I gotta ship and I can help you find your dad, but we gotta take the money back.” Billy eagerly nodded and started to head back toward the church. Joe turned and followed the boy out of the alley quickly catching up to the boy. Hopefully the crew wouldn’t mind making a detour to Virginia before heading to the Haven Peninsula. As Joe figured it this boy needed to be where his family was, maybe he had some relations that could look after him. Although the only thing Joe was hoping for was that Elisabeth wouldn’t be too upset for Joe showing up late.

© 2010 by Eric James Russell. All Rights Reserved.

Pornography is dangerous

Posted in Politics on March 31, 2010 by ejrussell

If you have ever bought into the lie that regular viewing of porn is somehow normal, look at this. It ruins lives. I’ve had people close to me that have had their lives very nearly or completely destroyed by it. The website from where the linked article got it’s information is linked here.

“Joe Quinn and his Adventurers in: Lightening in a Bottle” Chapter 2 “Questions and Answers”

Posted in Novel with tags , on March 31, 2010 by ejrussell

Chapter 2

Joe sat silently in the darkened carriage. He was on his way to meet the president and he wasn’t sure why. Joe was puzzled by the invitation considering the secrecy in which it was delivered. Well, attempted secrecy anyway. The four men were the personal bodyguards of the president, not exactly official law enforcement but something to be treated with respect regardless. After the confrontation, Joe was then quickly placed into an armored carriage headed toward the Presidential Mansion.

The carriage had no windows only iron plating bolted to the thick hardwood doors. A brilliant flash of light suddenly erupted in front of Joe; his eyes began to focus on what was a match lighting a gas lamp that hung from the ceiling of the carriage. “What if he hit a bump and that lamp falls off and breaks?” Joe asked. Silence was the response from the guards. “Anyone wants to tell me why you had to rough me up just to tell me that president wanted to talk?” asked Joe to the still silent men. Frustrated, Joe took off his brown Stetson hat and ran his hand through his blonde nearly brown hair and let out a sigh.

Just then one of the guards spoke “Mr. Quinn, name’s Calvin and we here have been given strict orders not to tell you anything.” This was the same guard who first spoke to Joe. Calvin was fairly large more so in girth than in height. His face was long which made the skin under his neck look even more pronounced like that of a frog inflating his mouth. Joe sat stroking his mustache, studying Calvin then asked “Nothin’ at all?” “’Fraid not.” “Why? You felt the need to jump me in the street; I figure I deserve some answers.” Calvin furrowed his eyebrows and gave a hard stare at Joe “President Edison gave us strict orders.” he said. With that Joe sat back and looked up and stared at the ceiling thinking about what he knew of the president.

Thomas Alva Edison was a true hero to the people. Everything about the man exemplified the New American spirit: Hard work, independence innovation and integrity. When he was in his 20’s he invented the first electric light, and other marvelous inventions such as the phonograph. His professional life as a business man came to an end when he refused to provide devices for the war. He later ran for president after the cease fire and truce was signed, on a platform of pacifism. Joe personally didn’t vote for this current president, writing off the candidate’s promise of peace naïve. However the man was still to be respected and any invitation to speak with him is considered an honor.

Aside from Calvin, none of the bodyguards spoke during the short carriage ride. The carriage came to a stop, and then proceeded once more. Checkpoint Joe thought we must be clearing through the gate now. The carriage came to stop and the doors were open, letting slivers of light peak through. Joe and the guard’s eyes began to adjust to the daylight as they stepped out of the carriage. Joe blinked as his eyes focused on the grand mansion that stood in front of him. He’d walked by it several times when going to various meetings and such when he had business in the city. It was far more impressive up close than he realized. The large red brick Presidential Mansion was a symbol that the world had come to know as the symbol of the free world. Constitutional law was possible, and the N.A.S. was proof of that concept. Many people from the European Empire secretly tried to make passage through the gulf up into Texas to be free from the iron fisted rule that clutched most of Europe.

Joe was escorted into the building and was stunned by the ornate architecture and vibrant paintings that adorned the halls. The display was rather impressive, as Joe began to see the various portraits of presidents past. The largest painting was at the end of the hall, where a small staircase led up and forked into two staircases leading to the second and third floors of the mansion. The painting that hung between the two staircases was of the first New American Sates president Benjamin Franklin. It was well over ten feet high and about six feet wide. The painting gave the impression that Old Ben wasn’t looking down on you; rather that he was inviting you. Inviting you to what seemed to be the big question on Joe’s mind as he and his escort began to ascend the stairway to the right.

Eventually they made their way to the famed Outer Office where Joe would wait and be invited into the more famous Inner Office to meet with the president. The wait wasn’t long as the Inner Office door was opened. Out stepped one of the president’s secretaries and invited Joe into the office. Seated behind a large oak desk was President Edison who immediately stood up and made his way to greet the young adventurer. “Young man it is an honor to meet you!” he began “I’ve read the reports of your various dealings, during and post-war. Tell me Josephus what must it be like to travel the world, free from the tethers that tie us to the ground?” Joe found he couldn’t speak. Was this really all the president wanted to speak with him about? There was more to this story and Joe needed answers. “I beg your pardon, Mr. Sir. I mean President Sir… I-” Edison raised his hand and interrupted Joe “Thomas will do fine. Please have a seat.”

Joe sat in down in the empty chair that was in front of the desk, feeling overwhelmed by the new experience. He drew a deep breath and exhaled and began to speak. “Mr. President, why did you send for me?” Joe asked solemnly “I get the impression that you went through the trouble of sending out your men to find me, not so you can discuss my explorations.” The president let out a sigh, and gave Joe a hard look. “Mr. Quinn, are you familiar with our history?” The president asked. Joe wasn’t quite sure where the question would lead, but he nodded slowly. The president spoke again. “We all know about the Displacement of 1776, where our Founders fled into the French controlled territories. Then of course, the Land Treaty that President Franklin drafted with King Louis the XVI.” Again Joe wasn’t sure where this meeting was leading him, but continued to listen to his president.

“You see Mr. Quinn no one really knows what’s in the treaty, only that we know that an exchange was made.” said the President. Joe was beginning to understand where the conversation was leading, but before he had his say he continued to let the President speak his piece. “The exact wording of the treaty states that land would be given to our new government, in exchange for ‘valuable goods furnished by the citizenry of New America’.” As the President finished his speaking it became clear to Joe as to why he was here: A conspiracy theory. Not exactly a conspiracy but an old folk tale about how Old Ben found a secret treasure to bribe the French with. “Thomas,” Joe began “There is no secret gold treasure. It’s a myth.” “I’m well aware of that fact Mr. Quinn. That is not why I summoned you here.” The President answered firmly. Joe did not expect this response from the President.

“May I continue?” the President asked Joe innocently. Joe slowly nodded more confused than before. “As I said an exchange took place that didn’t cost the citizens a single cent. The King was somehow satisfied with our gift and now we have land! What was exchanged? Ben Franklin gave the King Louis a weapon he designed himself!” This was a new one Joe hadn’t heard before. Everyone knew of how Old Ben was a tinkerer and inventor, but a weapon? That was hard to swallow. All Joe could manage was a single question “What kind of weapon?” he asked. The President stood up from behind his desk and began to pace, took a look at Joe. “Benjamin Franklin was working on a device to help repel the British after Displacement.” The President began “He was using his experiments in electricity as a starting point, when it was announced that King Louis would be willing to help out the Rebels.” “The Land Treaty of 1779…” Joe said aloud.

“Precisely!” exclaimed the President “The French knew what Old Ben was working on and convinced him to give the weapon to their King in exchange for land.” Joe thought about this for a moment, not entirely sure what to believe or think. Could Ben Franklin really have made such a device? Anything was possible but Joe wasn’t sure what this had to do with him in the first place. “So this weapon” Joe said slowly “What’s it do?” “It fires pure electricity in one concentrated ray.” the President answered. To Joe it seemed impossible like something out of a Scientific Romance. As Joe sat there and began to reflect on what he had just heard, one question still needed to be answered “Even if this tall tale is true, what’s it got to do with me?” asked Joe. After all there must have been a reason for the President’s odd request to meet with him.

“Three weeks ago our spies from the Empire have informed us that our enemies have found the clues that would lead them to the location of the weapon, here inside our own borders.” said the President. Another bit of startling news for Joe, as he now hung on every word the President was saying. “Worse than that news is, I’m afraid is that the Empire has already learned of the location and are now searching for the weapon somewhere in France.” This was beginning to become too much for Joe to take in and it didn’t answer his main question “What does this have to do with me exactly?” Joe asked again. “Well isn’t it obvious Mr. Quinn? You’re going to help us steal the weapon.” said the President. Joe was dumbstruck by the revelation and now had more questions than he had before.

Sitting and contemplating on what was going to be a request he knew he wouldn’t be able to get out of, Joe shook his head and let out a laugh. President Edison took notice and asked “Was there something humorous that I missed Mr. Quinn?” “How exactly do you expect me to do this?” Joe responded. “I don’t even know where to start or where to go. I’m not sure if I’m the right man for the job.” After Joe finished speaking he stood and made his way to the door. Before he could leave the President’s hand gripped him on the shoulder, prompting Joe to stay. “I know this is all overwhelming and understandably confusing, but no one else in this great country of ours has your skill set.” The President said as he walked back to his desk and sat down in his oversized swivel.

Joe looked at President Edison and saw a troubled and weary look on the man’s face. Joe stood and watched for a few minutes until the President spoke again “I promised this nation that after the Appalachian War we would have peace. I have gone through great measures to ensure that our treaty would be enforced and the things I have done are most regrettable.” Joe started to think that maybe the President wasn’t so naïve after all.

After listening to what the President had said Joe asked “If I agree to this what guarantees do I have of even finding this thing? I mean they already know where to look, how do we know they don’t have it?” President Edison looked up at Joe and smiled “They know where it is, they just can’t get to it.” “Go on.” Joe said. “They have located a secret catacomb somewhere in southern France that may have served as an archive of some kind, storing all kinds of treasures. They just don’t know how to open the passageway.” “So they don’t know how to open it, how do we? Walk through the wall?” Joe asked rather sarcastically. “You have an archaeologist friend do you not Mr. Quinn? I’m sure he could figure out a way.” The President answered. He was right of course Joe did in fact have such an acquaintance; Professor Miles Thompson former Archive Director Madison University in Kansas city. Professor Miles had been one of the few individuals Joe actually accepted any kind of payment from for transportation.

It had everything of course to do with their mutual love of looking for trouble in all the wrong places. Also having the good professor’s lovely granddaughter, Hannah, onboard didn’t hurt either. Joe was beginning to formulate a plan in his mind without actually agreeing to the President’s request. It had been nearly six months since he had gone on expedition of any kind and his old crew went back to their homes. At the moment it was just himself and Tsui living on the Jefferson at the airship docks. If anything this would break up the monotony, although Joe wasn’t sure how his crew would react considering the last journey effectively kicked them out of South America.  Walter was up north in Chicago, Babineaux was somewhere in Ohio and Elisabeth… He wasn’t quite sure he’d bring her along. As far as the Professor was concerned he was out west in Idaho. For Joe this would be a massive undertaking getting everyone back together and agree to undergo this secret mission. As a matter of fact Joe was going to decline.

“I’m sorry Thomas I can’t. I don’t have my crew or the resources, I just can’t.” Joe said softly. “I wish I could help but the war is over and I’m a private citizen now and I want the past to stay buried.” Those last few words Joe spoke hurt. He had spent the last three years after the war had ended trying not to think about what had happened to him during the fight. While he was grateful and proud of what he had accomplished, it was no longer his fight. “Mr. Quinn, I’m well aware of your actions during the war and the horrible sacrifices you made but your country needs you more than ever. Think of what could happen should the Empire get this device. They could replicate it and have the ultimate power and the will to use it. I know it’s quite a task to ask of you but I can’t let my actions be known to the public.” The President’s words hung of Joe’s head like a heavy gray cloud threatening to burst. The President was right and he knew it.

Everyone’s gonna hate me for this. Joe thought. “All right Thomas, where do I start?”

© 2010 by Eric James Russell. All Rights Reserved.