“Joe Quinn and his Adventurers in: Lightening in a Bottle” Chapter 1: “A Gentleman’s Bet”

Posted in Novel with tags , on March 29, 2010 by ejrussell

Chapter 1

Josephus Quinn didn’t care much for card games. His mother taught him early on that face cards were tools of the Devil himself. Like a good obedient son Joe listened to his mother, and took up other games instead; chess for instance. It wasn’t until years later that he found out why his mother hated “face cards”, and the reason being was that his mother confused regular table game cards with tarot cards. At least that’s what Joe figured anyway. Joe thanked his mother for the fact that he was never allowed to play card games, and that she encouraged him to play a real thinking man’s game, chess. The big difference between chess and say poker and its various forms, was that you couldn’t cheat at chess. Everything was out in the open and no one could hide their moves.Yet for reasons Joe could not explain in a million years, he was playing poker in the capital city of New America. St. Louis somehow or another loved games of chance, poker being the most favored. Joe couldn’t quite figure out why exactly, but he was fairly certain it had to do with the fact that this city’s history was built on chance. It was either that, or they just loved to gamble; Joe wasn’t sure which.

Seated next to Joe Quinn was his friend and crewman, Tsui Huang. Tsui had been a mercenary during the Appalachian War with Joe, and was notorious for his gambling amongst the troops he was hired to fight alongside with. His services were almost terminated for his misconduct had it not been for Joe’s intervention with his higher ups. The decision not to let Tsui and his men go would pay rather large dividends later for Joe’s squad. As crucial and life saving as that decision was, Joe couldn’t figure out why he had brought Tsui along as some sort of “mascot” or “good luck charm”.
Just because Tsui liked to gamble didn’t necessarily mean he was any good at it, especially poker. Tsui peaked at his boss’s hand and whispered “That hand’s no good. Trade those two cards.” Joe was about to say something when he was interrupted by his opponent from across the table. “Pardon me sir, but there will be no collusions or conspirings in this… gentleman’s game.” The voice was attached to a rather portly fellow named Arthur Carlyle.

Arthur was a well known industrialist and business cheat. He was something of a dandy who reveled in his own flamboyance and sense of great importance. Well over 300 pounds with thin grayish hair and the finest tailored suits, Arthur truly believed he was a god among men. At least that was Joe’s initial impression of the over bloated slab of lard that just so happened to have eyes and a mouth.
“Pardon me, your highness this won’t take a bit of time,” Joe said evenly “This is a simple business matter and then we shall continue our little hand.” Arthur shifted uncomfortably in his seat and began to sulk, while Joe and his friend, the mercenary Tsui Huang continued to conspire across from the self styled aristocrat. “Why in all of Hades did I even bring you along?” hissed Joe. “Simple, I’m your lucky charm! Plus I know poker real good, and you’re terrible.” Tsui said in his defense. If you’re good at poker, Joe thought incredulously then birds are powerful good swimmers. “Fine,” said Joe in a tone of defeat “why these two cards?” “They give off negative energy, and four is unlucky.” Tsui said authoritatively. Joe glanced down at the cards, and saw that he had a chance for a straight. By eliminating the four of diamonds and the six of clubs, the other negative card, Joe was certain he’d lose the hand. “Are you out of your damn mind?!” Joe groaned. “Just have a little faith.” smiled Tsui. Letting out a sigh and the thought that knowing he was going to lose this bet and become some fat degenerate posing as a noble’s personal airship pilot, Joe conceded to his crewman’s demands. “Are we finished with your business matter?” Arthur Carlyle cooed from across the poker table “I really must hurry with this tiring match, money never sleeps you know.”

Joe acknowledged that he was indeed finished and requested two cards from the dealer. Upon receiving his cards, Joe’s heart sank even lower than when he agreed to this inane bet. The two cards he had received would have indeed given him a fighting chance, had he not traded the original cards. He looked up and saw his foe, which was as happier than a fat weasel in a hen house. “Ante up my dear boy!” said the aristocrat, as he threw in his chips. Joe knew this hand was beyond salvaging; any hope he may have had was long gone. So to put this useless venture out of its misery, Joe upped his ante. The last of Joe’s gambling cash was thrown into the pot, and he’d only been playing for a half hour. Mr. Huang and Captain Quinn were going to have a chat. “Well Captain, I have a full house, aces over kings!” Joe looked at his miserable hand, and threw down the pair of threes that sealed his fate. Arthur let out a loud roar of laughter, as he saw Joe’s lousy little hand. Joe could do nothing but glower at his crewman, who looked genuinely shocked. “I don’t get it.” said Tsui disbelievingly, “You have all red cards; red is very lucky.” “That’s not the way this game works Tsui!” Joe said, seething through his teeth.

All the while Arthur Carlyle was happily gloating, as he gathered his winnings. Joe was completely defeated. He had done the world a great service by socking that pompous ass right in the mouth, after he had the gall to insult the best flying ship in New America. Before the insults however, Arthur attempted to make the Jefferson and its captain, Josephus “Joe” Quinn, his own personal property. The gathering had been for the national Hunters and Explorers League, of which Joe is a member. Arthur was invited to the event by one of the Co-Chairs who also owned stock in Arthur’s steel refineries. After photographs of Joe’s latest exploits in South America was viewed, Arthur attempted to hire Joe as his personal airship captain, to whisk the businessman on various holidays and adventures. Joe declined. Words and fists were exchanged, leading them to “a gentleman’s bet”. Joe simply sat and stared at the green felt table cloth, thinking of ways to stage an unfortunate accident involving his newest employer. As Arthur finished gathering up his winnings, one of his attendants began placing the chips on wooden racks, to be transported to the cashier cage. Arthur stood over Joe, giving him his new orders “I wish to have the Jefferson available for the coming Saturday.” He said evenly. “Before the day is out, I will be sending my personal decorators and servants to deliver my personal effects to the ship.” Arthur noticed the red, nearly boiling expression on Joe’s face. He smiled and stuck out his fat right hand in Joe’s face, prompting a handshake. Joe looked up at Arthur’s round ruddy face that was all smiles, back down to his chubby hand. Joe in that instance noticed something. There appeared to be a white corner sticking out of the businessman’s sleeve. Joe’s eyes widened as he grabbed a hold of Arthur’s right arm and pulled back the sleeve. Sure enough, there was a small stack of playing cards that had been tucked away.

“You loathsome, yellow… turd!” roared Joe, “First you mistake me for some touring captain, who does nothing but haul around fops and dandies like you. Then you call my ship a flying refuse heap!” Arthur tried to open his mouth and speak, but his face was met with a rock hard fist. Joe had once again laid out his opponent, although this time felt much more satisfying. The towering well over six foot tall frame of the airship captain towered over the quivering figure of Arthur Carlyle. “Pierre!” screamed Arthur, calling out for his bodyguard. Pierre made his way into the executive gambling lounge saw his boss on the floor and immediately went to his defense. Before Pierre the bodyguard could get to his boss, Tsui Huang intercepted the pathway. Pierre was stunned by the blinding speed of the much smaller Chinese man, who seemed to appear from nowhere. The bulky man threw a lunging punch at his foe, who then quickly deflected the blow and unleashed a series of blindingly rapid punches on the bodyguard. Bones began to break as the succession of blows increased in intensity, until poor Pierre hit the floor.

Arthur stared in disbelief, while Joe smirked and nodded toward his friend. As Joe stood over the cowardly cheat, he spoke “Now here are the new rules. Rule number one: Don’t come near me again. Rule two: If you come near me again, I’ll… Well I’ll do something that ain’t very nice!” After Joe spoke he quickly made his way to the wooden racks of poker chips on the table. The attendant slowly backed away from Joe as he grabbed the racks. Upon exiting the lounge with the chips in hand, Joe heard Arthur screaming after him “You thief! That’s my money! If you think you can simply walk out of this casino, you have another thing coming I tell you!” Joe turned and looked at the mussed up face of the businessman and spoke “C’mon Arty, y’know the casino rules. Executive lounge is exempt from the formal house rules. Which means that what goes on in here is none of management’s concern. Besides consider this money as restitutions for your stupidity.” After Joe finished speaking, he and Tsui turned and walked out of the lounge.
***
After Joe and Tsui cashed in the chips and Joe had his firearm returned, they exited the casino and stepped outside to a gorgeous late spring afternoon. The trees were now in full bloom with bright green leaves that matched well with the cloudless blue sky. The air felt good on Joe’s face as he began his walk down the sidewalk toward the airship docks. Tsui was by his side and began to speak “I’m sorry about the game Joe. I thought I could help, but really I don’t know poker that good.” Joe gave a slight glance toward his friend and slightly shook his head “Don’t fret over it too much Tsui.” He responded “’Sides that old cheat had a mind to deceive me anyhow, even if you knew what in the blazes to do.” They continued their walk and saw one of the many new inventions that had recently taken to the streets; a steam carriage. While rail travel was still the preferred land travel in New America, horseless steam carriages were becoming the new fashion. Critics of the device claimed it was more trouble than it was worth, while the supporters claimed it was far more efficient than both horse drawn carriages and rail travel. As far as Joe was concerned, the sky was the ultimate mode of travel. It was open, no roads or rails to restrict your movements. It was free and endless, something to be at once respected and exploited.

Joe had a theory about the sky and that is was God’s domain and it should be treated with respect. Lately it had become fashionable to walk about in aviator uniforms, with leather caps and wind goggles. Joe found this to be disrespectful to real aviators and pilots, since they actually knew how to fly airships and other flying machines. Joe knew better than to be pretentious about things he didn’t understand, however that didn’t stop the fops and the would be men-about-towns. That lot would simply play dress up and have their private pilot’s do the flying, while the rich folk entertain their guests.
Joe had been a small child when he first witnessed a flying machine. It was a gyrocopter. Comparatively primitive by modern standards, it had still been an awesome sight to behold. Steam technology saw exponential growth in the early days of the country after the king of France granted the land to the Founders during the Displacement. No one is quite sure how that happened, but it had been a boon for the young Nation. Soon after, railways were constructed flying machines took to the skies and young Joe Quinn vowed to take to the skies as well. Unfortunately it took a war to grant that wish.

Still lost in his thoughts, Joe quickly snapped out of it and was about to suggest to Tsui that they should take a cab ride to the docks. It was then he noticed four very large men in plain black suits and derbies. Joe thought they may have been law enforcement of some type, but he wasn’t quite sure. He thought that maybe Artemis had alerted the authorities about the gambling incident, but dismissed the thought. They weren’t too close to Joe and Tsui but it was close enough to make Joe nervous. “Tsui, take the satchel and meet me at the docks. Take a cab there; make sure no one follows you.” Joe said as he slung off the bag and handed it to a very confused Tsui. “Are you sure you want to leave me with the money?” He asked. “Just do it!” Joe said forcefully. Tsui reluctantly took the satchel and went to a nearby cabby who was waiting patiently for his next customer. Joe watched as his crewman went away in the cab. The four men were still standing in the same spot, when Joe first noticed them. Now Joe thought, let’s see if they follow me or the money.

Joe departed from the sidewalk across the street, to an alleyway. Joe knew the city well enough, that he could probably lose his pursuers. Navigating his way through the labyrinth of alleys and streets, Joe looked over his shoulder multiple times to make sure that no one was following him. Just when he thought he was in the clear, he noticed one of the men about fifty yards ahead of him. Sneaking back into an alley Joe drew his weapon and carefully pulled the hammer back; slipped a round in the empty chamber that housed the firing pin. He turned and made his way back through the maze of alleyways, with his hand gripped to his pistol just in case things south. St. Louis wasn’t exactly fond of weapons, but they weren’t outlawed either. If push came to quick draw Joe was ready. After nearly a half hour of watching his steps and looking over his shoulder, Joe was confident he’d lost the men who were following him. Before stepping out into the street to go back to the docks, Joe safely removed one of his rounds and uncocked the hammer placing it into the empty camber.

Joe stepped out onto the sidewalk and made his way to a cab. Just as he was nearing the cab closest to him, he saw one of the men in black. Joe turned back around and saw another one directly in front of him. He turned to cross the street, but the other two were coming straight towards him. Joe had no choice but to run. He wasn’t sure which direction just as long as it was away from the black suits. It was no use they had him surrounded, as they enclosed around him like black soot on a chimney sweep. Two of the men grabbed him from behind, tightly gripping his arms. Joe was a few inches taller and a few pounds heavier than the two men, but together they would be difficult to fight. As the other two closed in, one of them spoke “Mr. Quinn, the President would like a word with you.”

© 2010 by Eric James Russell. All Rights Reserved.

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Marriage is dumb. I know this because a celebrity said so.

Posted in Politics, Pop Culture on March 26, 2010 by ejrussell

Well who knew that one of the most time honored traditions of mankind was just plain ol’ dumb? I mean what could be more stupid than being with someone you love more than anything for the rest of your life? Well here’s what hunky Matt Damon has to say about it:

“I love being married to my wife – she’s the best thing that ever happened to me, but if she ever left me, I wouldn’t do it again. Because it’s crazy – to spend your life with one person and not be totally driven crazy.”

Read more here

Well Matt if you enter into a relationship and not be driven crazy than I suppose that portrayal in “Team America” wasn’t too far off. Of course you’re going to be driven crazy by marriage! No one person is going to be exactly compatible with you and whomever you’re with is going to have their own quirks just like you. To say that marriage is “crazy” is plain ol’ ignorance on you’re part.

Not to be out done of course Sarah Silverman says marriage is “gross”. Well that is quite the astute observation from a 39 year old woman! Marriage is gross! Why is that you ask? She compares it to eating meat and she’s a vegetarian of course:

“I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t have a problem if you want a hamburger. Marriage to me is like eating meat. I think it’s gross and [bleep]ing crazy.”

Right. That makes so much sense. She goes on to say that since most states don’t recognize gay marriage, Ms Silverman says that marriage is like a country club for white people that doesn’t allow blacks or Jews. Read more here. Now I’m confused on that last part. Is marriage gross and crazy because it’s like eating meat or is it crazy because most states don’t recognize it? Now one could argue it could be both, but I don’t play that. It’s like saying you don’t like meat because it’s murder and cows aren’t allowed to eat it either.

Now my personal take on marriage is rooted in my religion as I believe it is divine in nature and it’s not just two people who are in love. Yes there are certain rules that apply and you must meet those requirements in order to participate. If you don’t like the rules then don’t play the game, don’t run around telling everyone else to change the rules. Furthermore I think the government shouldn’t even be involved in a religious rite anyway. I mean after all separation of church and state right?

Hi Kids!

Posted in About with tags , , on March 24, 2010 by ejrussell

Well kids this is my new blog! Here I will be posting my thoughts on just ’bout everything, as well as my serial novel “Joe Quinn and his Adventurers in: Lightening in the Bottle” I figure I post it here with three chapters a week we’ll have ourselves a good response. Anyway I hope y’all will stick around.

Eric James Russell

I don’t want Jim Halpert as Captain America and neither should you

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2010 by ejrussell

This is from comicbookmovie.com

A source over at schofizzymoviereview.blogspot.com is saying that he has been sitting on the rumor that John Krasinski has the Captain America role all but officially locked in. Meaning John is the Man! No official confirmation but stay tuned for further announcements!

link here http://comicbookmovie.com/fansites/LetsCutTheBS/news/?a=15220 Now don’t get me wrong I like John Krasinski but seriously as Cap? No chance in hell. Of the ones listed in the link I think I like Garret Hedlund the best. Mostly cause home boy is gonna be in the new Tron movie. Anyway those are my thoughts I’ll try and keep y’all posted.

For 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 by ejrussell

The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends….Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.
Anton Ego—Ratatouille

I think it’s fair to say that more often than not we, as human beings never give ourselves enough credit for our talents. Many times we sell ourselves short and as (what I would consider) a tragic result, we fall into mediocrity; worse yet, we do not care. We pat ourselves on the back, tell ourselves that “It’s better this way”, and move on to other things we may not have any talent for. Why? Job security and reality, are often the results that sum up our feelings in this regard. “It’s not failure,” we say to ourselves and one another, “If we never even try”. We will often delude ourselves into thinking that we never had any special skill or talent to begin with, and that we are on “A Fool’s Errand” if we even show any remote interest in pursuing our goals. It does not help us any when we, as spectators, cultivate this kind of thinking in our society and to our peers. We tell our friends that they would not be successful any how. Why? Because the odds are against you to begin with.

An even worse crime, is that we encourage those who have no talent in a particular field more than those who do! Why on earth would we do such a thing? The answer is fairly simple, but not easy to take. It usually falls into two types of situations: The first one being that we assume that because one enjoys doing a certain activity, that that individual is good at it. The second is similar to the first, but more on that later. The problem with encouraging an individual who doesn’t have any talent for a particular skill but enjoys it anyway, causes that person to believe that they can do no wrong. They will write bland stories, sing out of tune, draw scribbles on lined paper and we as a society proceed to pat them on the head and give an “A” for “effort”. Excuse me? “Effort”? Anyone can screech at the top of their lungs, but real effort comes from years of dedication to the craft. Effort is trying and failing until that failure is a success. Effort is when you take the time to point out your flaws and improve upon them. Before I leave this subject to move on to the second point, I have one final thing to say on this subject. If you happen to have a natural talent or affinity for a certain skill, don’t assume that you can skate in to that particular field without any training or practice. If you recognize that you have an aptitude for something, pursue it and develop that skill and the stronger you will become, much like exercising a muscle.

The second reason why we favor the talentless over the talented is because one is talented. That may seem like an odd conclusion, however this is becoming more prevalent in our society. Our desire as a society that everyone be happy and successful, hampers our judgement to the point where we think that no one needs to have any talent or hard work to be successful. We can’t allow ourselves to think that one might be better than we are; and so in the sake of “fairness” we proceed to tear these people down. We do this not through criticism however, but through propping up the talentless. Mozart was believed to have said of Beethoven that “The world will be forced to listen to him”. Imagine if a statement like that were made today? The outcry would be huge! How could Mozart single out just one individual?! How dare he say that one musician would be more talented than any others! One thing that bothers me about the TV show “American Idol” is when host Ryan Seacrest, encourages the audience to “Vote for your favorite”. The problem with that idea is that it kills objectivity. No one is ever encouraged to vote for the best singer. Now one could argue that “the best” may be subjective and not objective. Normally I would concede this point, however one is not selecting the best singer in the world; rather they are just picking the best out of twelve. When you narrow down the number, it makes finding exceptional individuals that much better. In the case of Mozart, he must have heard thousands of musicians and composers; the man would know talent when he heard it. Any kind of positive statement he would have made, in regards to certain individuals would not have been frivolous. We need to stop this practice for the sake of our own prosperity and even our own posterity.

We are doing ourselves a grave disservice by participating in the destruction of individual self-worth and self achievement. One hundred years ago men like Andrew Mellon, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers, were considered national heroes and great thinkers. The nation looked up to these men as symbols of pride and shining examples of the American dream. People didn’t vilify these men, they idolized them! If there were any dissenting voices, they were considered envious and soundly ignored. Today most people would think of these men as greedy, corrupt business men who have no right in trying to protect their businesses and patents. This is dangerous thinking. We can’t keep telling ourselves something is “unfair” because someone worked hard for their status, that is unfair. So to conclude this essay, I would just like to remind everyone, we’re not always going to succeed. We won’t all be multi-millionaires but we are talented in our own ways. This doesn’t mean that we’re the same, it means we our gloriously different. You may be better at management and leadership than myself or others. You could be better at teaching than performing. What ever your talent, be the best that you can be at it. Be an example in what you do, follow through on your goals and maybe, just maybe you will be that talent that came from anywhere.

Cap n’ Trade

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2009 by ejrussell

In this day and age of insta-celebrity, and do nothing and be famous for it world, we often forget that it takes talent and skill to get where we are. American Idol shells out the “Next Big Thing” annually, while the public forgets what the other big thing was the year previous. In the world of big budget superhero movies, fan-boys can get overly crazy at the prospect of an “unknown” talent being the “Next Big Thing”.

Way back when in 2004, Bryan Singer was hard at work in the pre-production stage of Superman Returns, and fans were going nuts as to who would don the Red Cape. During this time a “fan made” trailer was released featuring two body builders as Superman and Batman respectively, and well the fan boys went nuts. Since Batman Begins was already underway, fans loved the idea of Michael O’Hearn (Superman) playing Superman in the upcoming epic. Just one tiny problem: the guy is a stick in the mud.

What you’ve just witnessed is a “fan film”. These little enterprises are exercises of hardcore fan fulfillment in regards to an ultra-faithful adaptation of comic books. While literal translation of the text sounds good in theory, the problem you run into is believibility. Superman as big lumbering doofus Clark Kent seems too far fetched, which is why the Hulk blockbusters favored CGI over a body builder in green paint. Regardless the hardcore fans rallied around O’Hearn, and nearly got their wish when he stated that he was granted an audition for Superman Returns.
Lucky for us it never happened.

While as dopey as this incident may have been, at least Michael O’Hearn made an effort to be an actor. According to imdb.com he has two direct-to-video action adventures and has made an appearance on Days of Our Lives. Now Mr. O’Hearn plays Titan on NBC’s revival of American Gladiators. However with this mediocre list of accomplishments O’Hearn makes this other subject look like a wannabe high school drama club nerd. In fact he just might be exactly that.

Our next individual is a young man with a speacial message of love, and hope. This man made a video for his long lost love, and somehow or another has a fanbase of crazies who think that this guy has already been cast as Captain America without a solid script or preproduction. His name is Ben Ryan, and this is his story: It sarts in the summer of last year, when Ben Ryan posted a preview of what his speacial video was going to be. At the same time fans (such as myself) were ecstatic over the two new Marvel movies, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, because of the fan-heavy goodies they gave out. One goodie was a quick shot of Captain America’s Sheild in Iron Man, and rumors swirled that Cap was invovled in Hulk, after his name appears in text in the two minute opening of that film. Then a crazy fan found this:

After this video found it’s way to the fan-boy masses it was on like Donkey Kong. Rumors ran rampant, ranging from the not likely: This video was a leak, and is in fact early test footage of Captain America. To the moronic: This video was leaked however it’s a CGI character since Marvel can’t cast anyone who looks like Captain America. Turns out neither of these scenarios was correct (shocker), but that didn’t stop the nuttiest of the fan-boy bunch. A blogger on imdb.com made a claim that she, the blogger, saw Ben Ryan at some acting covention in New York and now this guy is some real legit actor. Here is a link to the Marvel.com message boards that chronicle the insanity http://marvel.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=134803&highlight. Disturbing to say the least. As I conclude my first blog to you my adoring public, I will be providing another link to Ben Ryan’s masterpiece here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iIYRZWBd9Y&feature=related let’s see if you guys think Mr. Ryan is a master thespian.

Well all in all I’m for lesser known talents getting a shot at stardom, but you have to have talent. Furthermore if hardcore comic book fans ever had a shot at making these movies, some would reconsider the orginal Captain America movie a masterpiece.