The Overheard Remark

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I missed this week’s session because of arthritic pain and project overcommitment. (I really do need to say “no” when needed and not feel guilty about it.) So, here’s last week’s (my fourth) session with the VA OT Creative Writing group I’m participating in. The writing prompt for the day was “The Overheard Remark”. This is what I came up with.

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“Soon, the time comes” a voice whispers into the darkness.

He turns to look around for the speaker. There is no one there, as is to be expected, under normal circumstances. “Opportunities-to-excel” are usually lonely jobs at the best of times for the lowest ranking enlisted guy in a maintenance unit. Cleaning a drop ship in a hangar bay on a weekend only makes it moreso.

He shakes his head, picks up the hard bristled push broom, and goes to work on the undercarriage, always the worst part of this cleaning job.

“Soon, the time comes,” the same voice whispers out of the darkness.

Airman Darwin Moore shrugs his shoulders and decides to ask for clarification. “Soon, the time comes, for what?” he asks.

“I think one of the mortals can hear us,” another voice speaks out in surprise.

“What?” asks the original voice, somewhere between surprise and incredulity.

“Don’t mind me,”Amn Moore responds to the unattached whispers, and goes back to working on the backside of the right landing skid.

“I think you’re right,” the original voice speaks to the other. “I don’t know how this is possible.”

“Maybe we can convince him he’s going crazy and just hearing voices in his mind,” the other replies.

“Works for me,” Amn Moore replies to the darkness. “I got work to do here anyway.”

“Just don’t mention the prophecy,” the original voice says. “Maybe we can talk around specifics and still make our plans.”

“But the 30th of February is coming soon,” the other voice answers.

“You idiot,” the original voice says.

“No kidding,” Amn Moore adds, “everyone knows February only has 28 days, unless it’s a leap year, then you get 29 days. Never 30.”

“Says you” the other voice says defiantly. Then, addressing the original voice, it adds, “See he knows nothing of the workings of this world.”

The original voice speaks up again, “silence, you fool. In your effort to be right, you’re educating the mortal.”

“I’ll distract him,” the other voice says and then begins chanting, “tse roma siriuqer douq enmo.”

“Is that ‘All You Need Is Love’ in backwards Latin,” Amn Moore asks, recognizing the tune from a childhood of being raised by a Beatles-fan father.

“How does he…,” the other voice cuts off in shock. “He knows way more than he should,” the other voice huffs angrily. “We may need to just kill him to be safe.”

“No,” the original voice shouts with command. “We just wait until he finishes his job and leaves the area. The dimensional walls are thinner in this area than I thought.”

“Thanks guys,” Amn Moore says into the darkness. “I’m really busy here and don’t really have time to worry about your plans or getting killed.

He shrugs and goes back to scrubbing the drop ship. He shakes his head knowing no one’s going to believe this story.

Captive State

When I first saw a preview for the movie Captive State, I had high hopes for this film. I was expecting something along the lines of Netflix’s film Extinction, or the USA series The Colony, or the TNT series Falling Skies but with a bigger budget.

Sadly, what I expected and hoped for is not what I got to see. The dystopian elements that the previews promise and used to sell the movie get lost in The Wire-style questionable grey-area cops verses questionable grey-area “terrorists” storyline. The result is Captive State has more in common with the Bruce Willis/Denzel Washington movie The Siege or the Will Smith film Enemy of the State, but not as well acted.

Captive State is not all bad. John Goodman delivers an excellent performance as William Mulligan in a performance on par with Jon Simm’s portrayal of Sam Tyler in the series Life on Mars. The big reveal of Goodman’s character is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the film, and once made, it makes the viewer’s feelings of dislike towards the character seem all the more justified.

My recommendation is read the synopsis of this one and move along in favor of one of the other tv series or movies mentioned above. You’ll feel more invested in the characters and actual care when bad thigns happen to them.

Treading Water

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I missed a couple of weeks during the period referred in a previous post, so yesterday was my third session with the VA OT Creative Writing group I’m participating in. The writing prompt for the day was “Treading Water”. This is what I came up with.

In this case, the writing is related to an art project I’m currently working on which answers the question: What would a viking space ship look like?

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“Can one tread water in the skies?”

That’s the question that keeps crossing my mind as I watch the progress on the frame of this new ship we build. I still think this location is too far inland for the building of a ship, yet we continue to build it here.

The chieftan, Leif, son of Erik, says Loki called on him in the night and promised great raids in our future if we build a newer, bigger ship. The Drakknarr, he called it, a cross between the knarr ships that carry our families and our goods and the drakka longships we use for the raids. Once built, this ship would be quite the achievement in itself and a cause for celebration.

However, instead of our usual ship building technique using wood and lumber, we are building this ship out of metal. A metal frame covered by a metal hull. Personally, I think it’s going to sink as soon as we try to set it on the water. Not to mention, it’s going to be quite heavy to move a ship made of metal the distance between this grassland within Greenland’s boarders to its coastal waters.

The chieftan says this ship does not need to be near the water since Loki intends for this ship to sail the skies between the stars. Most of the warriors, now drafted as builders, have expressed our doubts about pursuing any project involving an idea proposed by the trickster god. Yet, Leif insists he believes Loki can be trusted to keep his word on this promise.

If or when the ship encounters trouble in the seas of the skies, it would be helpful to know our chances if stormy weather were to knock one of us overboard or the ship should take on water and sink. No one has an answer to that one. The chieftan refuses to call upon Loki to ask, fearing it would invite his wrath and encourage him to use us as targets for one of his games.

So, as we build this great iron ship, I’m left with just the one unanswered question, “Can one tread water in the skies?” I hope I’m not one of the one who has to answer that question when the time comes.

Doctor Who, Season 11, and Jodie Whittaker is The Doctor

I just got around to watching season 11 of Doctor Who and the New Years special Resolution this past week.

As a fan of the show from the days when Tom Baker was The Doctor and it appeared weekly on PBS‘ Saturday nights, I’ve been looking forward to every new regeneration and every new actor who’s taken on the role of The Doctor.

When the announcements were made that the show was getting a new showrunner in Chris Chibnall, that the newest regeneration of The Doctor would be a female, that woman would be Jodie Whittaker, I really wanted to see how the new Chibnall would handle the show and how Whittaker would handle the role.

I was familiar with Whittaker from her role as the nurse Samantha Adams in the movie Attack the Block. Thinking she was fantastic in that role and seeing that role as a sort of pseudo-practice for the role of The Doctor, I approached her time on the show positively. Unlike some viewers, the precedent set with The Master generation of Missy convinced me the casting would work.

I felt the season started strong and Whittaker quickly established herself as someone capable of filling the role of The Doctor. However, I also felt that as the season progressed, Whittaker was a victim of subpar writing by Chibnall and the individual episode writers and that the show was missing an overall season-long storyline that really bound the whole season together.

While the new episodic styling of wrapping up a single story in a single weekly episode can be a beneficial change in some ways, in the case of season 11, it made the stories feel rushed and incomplete. The absence of the usual suspects in the monster of the week role was definitely noticeable. The replacement of the Daleks, the Cybermen, and The Master with watered down predator knock-offs, time-traveling white supremacists, and an intergalactic survivor knock-off left the adversaries feeling unworthy of The Doctor’s attention.

The Resolution New Year’s special episode brings back the Daleks, or at least one, and presents that Dalek as monsters we all know and love. While the writing of that episode still felt a bit rushed, it offers hope that Chibnall is learning the ropes and that season 12 with be a marked improvement over season 11. In the meantime, Jodie Whittaker is The Doctor and season 11 is worth a watch to familiarize yourself with the newest actor to fill the role.