My Heart. A poem.

My heart
Inspired by you
Pumps a thousand
Beats a minute
Not a heart attack
Not a stroke
But heaven
In your eyes

Pane. A poem.

I watch the rain on my window
Every drop running a chaotic race
To get to the bottom of my pane (pain)
Never the same path twice
As if utilising eidetic memory
Every drop a consequence
Every drop a choice (never) made
That flows to the bottom of my pane (pain)
Where it merges with the rest
Attaining its watery goal
To be accepted again

Spider-man: Homecoming. A movie review.

Spoilers? What spoilers? No, none here

Okay, okay, I was a bit late coming to the party on this one, but I finally got to see it today.

Great movie! Excellent performances: Tom Holland, perfect as 15 year old nerdy high schooler Peter Parker; Michael Keaton, who’s very menacing as the Vulture (and possibly the second most well-developed Marvel super-villain, after Loki); great cameo(s) by Robert Downey Junior as Tony Stark, Peter’s mentor (and he doesn’t steal the movie – yay!). Some nice Avengers’ developments with Gwyneth Paltrow at the end, as well. The young cast surrounding Holland are fantastic and they have some very funny lines. Lots of laughs all around.

The story is fairly straightforward, as are some of the set pieces, and the CGI animation of Spidey is a bit jerky at times (I seem to remember the first Spider-man movie in the 90s having more fluid animation, so I was a bit surprised this time around), but it’s the characters and the actors portraying them that really sets this movie apart. Tom Holland is likable and brings a fresh naivety to the role. His best friend (whose name escapes me) is a hoot. It’s amazing how many times Spidey lets people find out his identity. And thankfully the origin story is covered in a few brief lines of dialogue (yay!). I’m not sure how I feel about Spidey having a Tony Stark-designed super-suit, but it led to some funny situations.

I really liked Spider-man: Homecoming, possibly my favourite Marvel Studios movie ever. Go see it. Enjoy.

Rating: A

Another Award! Oh, I’ve got this one before. That’s okay, I’m very humble…NOT!

Actually, I am a bit humble. But only a little bit. Carly at message in stanza has nominated me for the Real Neat Blog Award. Thank you, Carly, you are very kind and obviously very wise (I said I’m a bit humble).

The rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs
  • Notify your nominees
  • Ask your nominees 7 questions

Here are my answers to Carly’s questions:

If you could learn any type of dance, what would it be?

The merengue, because it sounds like meringue, and I like a dance that you can eat.

Do you like board games? Or are they bored games? If you like them, what’s your favourite one and why?

I love board games. I love table top roleplaying games more, though (my favourites are listed here). Currently, my favourite board game is Firefly, an adaptation of the fantastic TV show of the same name. Don’t know it? Click here for more).

If you could be in a different job, what would it be?

Something where I actually earn money for my work. I do a lot of work currently for nada. Zip. Zilch. Just for love. Awwwww…(the sound of a tiny violin)

What is your biggest phobia out of these options: heights, spiders, dark, or being late somewhere?

My biggest phobia is being discovered as a fraud – DOH! Didn’t mean to tell you that.

Mountains or beach and why?

Why, because it rhymes with sky, and I’m in a cloud watching mood.

If you die tomorrow, what would you like your last words to be?

“Rosebud”. Already taken? Okay, probably “Aggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

What would you like your last meal to be including beverage?

I assume this is the last meal I have before I die tomorrow. Hopefully something that I can pass tomorrow morning so that when I die my bowel is empty (yep, kids, that’s right. When you die the muscles in your rectum no longer work to hold in your poopies. Know what that means?)

Have you done karaoke before? What song did you karaoke to? What did your friends think of your performance?

Sure have. Won a karaoke competition singing a rendition of Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, one of my all time favourite songs. I won a jug of beer. My friends, already pissed, were suitably impressed. But they would have been even if they weren’t drunk, because my Billy Joel impression is awesome.

Coffee or tea and why?

Both. ‘Cause that’s the kind of guy I am – indecisive.

What inspires your writing the most?

My crappy life. And sometimes my not so crappy life. No, basically my crappy life.

And here are my questions for nominees:

  1. If you could torture a person with one terrible song, who would you torture and what would the song be? Better yet, how exactly would you torture them using the song? Are you really that nasty a person that you would torture a person?
  2. You’re a writer. I could ask you how you got started, but it would probably be as dreary as my own story. So tell me what your best ever story is. So I can steal it.
  3. Digital or analogue? Come on, don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about? Oh, all right, ‘analog’, for you Americans.
  4. Time flies when you’re having fun. Rewrite that cliché using ten words and the truth. Or a lie, if you have to.
  5. You meet your favourite cartoon character. Who (what?) is it, and what does it do to you when it meets you? If it isn’t funny, give up now.
  6. Time or National Geographic? If you’re too young to understand what I just said, give up now.
  7. You have the power of magic. What type of magic is it and why? If you answer all technical and stuff we’ll know you’re a total nerd. If you don’t answer with all the technical specifics we’ll all know you are officially boring.

Blogs I’m nominating:

Behind the White Coat – https://doctorly.wordpress.com/

The Showers of Blessing – https://theshowersofblessing.wordpress.com/

Kismet – https://chungwipff.com/

Dorky Mom Doodles – https://dorkymomdoodles.com/

SerotoninVoid – https://serotoninvoid.wordpress.com/

 

Thanks again, Carly! Very much appreciated.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Versatile Blogger Award 2 – Thanks muchly!!

Thank you Alma at Bookish Endeavours for nominating me for this award. As you know, I am a man of few words and fewer actions, so I will keep this short and sweet.

The Rules:

The rules say to thank the person who nominated you (also providing a link to their blog), nominate 7 blogs (okay, it should be 10, but I ran out of oomph) you feel should be awarded, and then share seven interesting facts about yourself.

Seven blogs I’m nominating for the Versatile Blogger Award:

My apologies if you’ve already received it or don’t feel like participating.

Seven Interesting Things About Me:

I’m going to cheat with this, as I’ve been nominated for this award before by a different blogger. Here’s a link to my previous question answers, if you want to check them out (yes, I’m lazy! Bet that’s something you didn’t know about me. Oh, you did, did you? Now I’m all paranoid…)

Versatile Blogger Award Nomination – Woo hoo! Cheers and thank you

 Thanks, Alma! Love your work!

Cheers

Steve 😊

Turbulence. A poem.

They're across a crowded room
And the narcissist within
Is screaming "look at me, look at me"
But the introvert without
It whispers "look away, look away"
Trying to smile is a struggle
As complex and as simple as a Gordian knot
And while the cannibal butterflies
Consume your insides
And the flush creeping up
Makes you look like a fire hydrant
And you're thinking hard
How not to screw it up
They've started talking with another
And all you have left is self reproach
And one big "Doh!"
Better luck next time

Baby Driver. A movie review.

Ain’t no spoilers here

Edgar Wright has made some spectacular movies: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, World’s End, and one of my Top 10 faves, Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Having read several positive reviews, I went to Baby Driver with high expectations that this would become one of my all-time favourites. I was surprised, then, when what I saw was not what I expected.

What I saw was a slick, well-directed, edited and acted, but straightforward crime drama with fantastic live driving scenes (no CGI – take that Fast and the Furious). A movie aimed at a young audience, with the two leads Ansel Elgort (Baby) and Lily James (Debora) displaying some great chemistry on screen. Some great acting by Kevin Spacey as the kingpin mastermind, Jamie Foxx as the crazy and violent Bats, and Jon Hamm as Buddy, the smooth cokehead bank robber. Enough character development to keep things interesting. So why did it leave me cold?

Baby is a driver – one of the best. He listens to music constantly due to tinnitus, caused when his parents died in a car accident when he was a child. He’s working off his debt to Spacey by being a getaway car driver for Spacey’s heists. He meets Debora, a waitress, falls in love, plans to get out of the game, but when he’s even with Spacey he still can’t escape. One last job…

Baby Driver is quite different from Wright’s previous movies. The critics have generally loved it, and audiences have responded well. So why didn’t it appeal to me as much? I guess I was expecting more of the quirky humour of Wright’s previous films. There were two jokes in the entire movie—most of the time the movie was incredibly serious. The driving scenes were amazing. But as soon as the bank robberies and driving were over, the movie started to drag. I don’t think pacing was actually an issue, it was probably more me waiting for some amazing Edgar Wright moment to happen. And unfortunately it never did.

After the first incredible drive/chase scene, there was a continuous shot of Baby walking down the street to get coffee while manoeuvring amongst traffic and pedestrians to the sounds of Harlem Shuffle in his headphones. It showed signs of some of Wright’s quirky genius shining through, but then faded into convention again. There are some great ideas at play in this movie, but by the end I hadn’t connected with any of the characters. Maybe I set my expectations too high.

Baby Driver is a well-executed heist movie with great acting, fantastic driving scenes, incredible music soundtrack and great editing, that doesn’t make you care for any of the characters. I didn’t leave the theatre saying “that was a great movie”. I left saying “that was pretty good”. I expected more from Edgar Wright. Maybe next time.

Rating: C+

Oasis. A poem.

I was lost in the desert
And as the sweeping sands
Surrounded me with the promise of death
As my tongue swelled with my last parched breath
I saw a vision before me
An oasis in the swirling dust
It seemed so far away, yet agonisingly just out of reach
Of water and palms and hyacinths
And I crawled on and on
Because the promise
Was all I needed
To live

Picture. A poem.

A picture of togetherness
Written in elemental script
Captured then in time serene

A picture that made sense, it seemed
Once upon eternity
Before the poison settled in

A picture of two frozen smiles
But what in truth do they relay
When hollow eyes betray the scene

A picture of faded sepia
Now all bitterness and disregard
As if the picture had never been

The Sale. Part 11. A short series.

Aisha froze and dropped her phone. The screen cracked on the concrete floor as it bounced at her feet.

Across the large, concrete-walled room was Silas, the aged and insensitively tall butler. He was no longer dressed in his servant togs, having changed to a white lab coat and matching trousers, and accessorising with a .38 snub-nosed revolver. Pointing right at Aisha.

Being only partly cowardly, I rushed in front to shield her. Having done so I realised perhaps it wasn’t the wisest course of action. My eyes widened. “What the…”

“Indeed, John,” said Silas, smiling like a James Bond villain. “No need for subterfuge, now. Welcome to my laboratory.” He swept his arm theatrically. Behind him, tables with assorted test tubes and other devices; some impressive looking metal tables with restraints, angled at forty five degrees (for easy access, I assume); various nasty looking serrated tools (for easy torture, I assume). The air smelled faintly of antiseptic. Aisha swore.

“You’re probably wondering what all this is about,” said Silas.

Aisha smacked her forehead with her open palm. “Don’t tell me he’s going to soliloquise.”

“Every good villain needs to outline their plan,” said Silas, smiling broadly.

“Screw that,” said Aisha. She ran back into the store room to the other metal door. I stood there stupidly with my hands up. Silas removed a clicker from his pocket and hit the button.

There was a buzz from the handle-less storeroom door we’d checked out earlier and a mechanical whirring of gears. The door slowly opened.

“My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner.”

Wild-haired and wilder-eyed Junifer Vasilikov stood in the open doorway, the gleaming butcher’s knife extending from her white-knuckled grip. Aisha backed up until she bumped into me from behind.

“I’m open to ideas at this point,” she said.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

Family Lost. A poem.

There are rabbits in my back yard
Each day they rise to greet the light
With eager noses, seek daily bread
While the alpha, tall and bright
Watches oh, so protectively
Together, the family eats again

I had a family once like them
It now feels like so long ago
I loved them so, my family lost
The rabbits are reminders then
With faith and hope
I’ll survive the cost

No Sleep for the Wicked. A poem.

Close my eyes
Sleep the sleep of angels
Until l can’t
Rude awakening
Brought back to life
Defibrillated from dreams
And held
Status update: insomniac
Mental tides
Washing over tired eyes
Why won’t
You let
Me sleep
Damn brain
3:00am meeting with the board
Micro managing
My many personal investments
My kingdom for a hammer
To knock me out
(In a placid way, of course)
So I can ski those dream snow slopes again
But no
I guess not tonight
So many sheep
To keep me company
10,20,30,100,1000
Bah
I hate sheep, anyway
Don’t check Fb
Blue light reinforcement
Night is day
I find the vale of dreams
Eventually
And then the alarm
Harsh reminder
Snooze
Too short
Late for life
Grrrrrr…

The Sale. Part 10. A short series.

Climbing down the ladder we came to the ground floor, with the passage leading to the pantry. “Should we stop here?” said Aisha, taking the iPhone out of her mouth and shining the torch light up the dingy corridor.

“I really think we need to check out the basement.” I tapped my foot impatiently on the rung above her head. “We don’t know if Crazy Junifer is waiting in the kitchen.”

Aisha looked up at me and frowned. “She could be anywhere.”

“Can we just get going? The faster we get to the basement the faster we can get out of here.”

Aisha started moving downwards again, her iPhone back between her teeth. I could hear her mumbling in the dimness. Within a few minutes she had reached the bottom and lowered herself to the floor. I came down after her.

“How’s the phone charge?” I said.

Aisha checked. “Not good. It’s down to 22%. That torch app uses a lot of power.”

“We need to find another light source. There must be a light switch somewhere.”

The basement was larger than expected, maybe thirty feet to a side. The light from the iPhone pierced the darkness, revealing numerous crates and boxes stacked against the walls, along with what looked like furniture under dust sheets. The ladder was at the centre of one wall. Directly across the room were two doors on separate walls. I could just make out what looked like a light switch near the first door.

We walked over. The door was made of steel, with thick bolts rimming the edges. There was no door handle. “Well that’s just perfect,” said Aisha.

I flicked on the light switch. A neon globe sprung to life in the ceiling. “Let there be light,” I said.

“I hope you’re a better salesman than you are a comedian,” said Aisha. She checked her phone for signal (none), then switched it off to save the battery. I pushed on the door, but it didn’t give.

“All right, mister ‘let’s check out the basement so we can get out’, what now?” said Aisha.

I started checking the boxes. After opening a few, success. “Flashlights,” I said, holding aloft two medium-sized Maglites. I tested each and tossed one to Aisha. “Just in case.”

She was standing at the second door. It was the same make as the other, but had a handle. “Looks like we can either try this, or go back up the ladder and try the pantry,” she said.

I walked over, smiling. “My vote’s to try that one. This house can’t get any worse, can it?”

Aisha shrugged. She opened the door.

Then things got worse.
To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

Hate Life. Live Life.

Almost three years ago, everything changed. I lost my family, my job, my reputation, my possessions, my whole world. Everything came crashing down and I took the one step I thought could solve it. I attempted to take my life.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning was my weapon of choice. Poor research was my saviour. I saw my aged mother, tears streaming down my face, explaining what I’d done. I promised her I wouldn’t do it again. I saw a psychologist, who made me realise what an impact it would have had on my remaining family members, and especially my son.

About six months ago I hit rock bottom again. Not hard to do when you have no sense of self-worth and suffer from life-long depression. I decided I would take a leap off a cliff this time. I had it all lined up, all perfectly planned. But the timing was all wrong. The area was full of people and I didn’t want to be on public display. Saved again.

Today I felt just as low as I had before. I was isolated, alone as always, feeling sorry for myself, as always. I sat there dwelling on the past as I often had, the missteps, the mistakes, the complete fuck ups. The hurt and pain I’ve caused others along the way. I imagined going to the bathroom and opening my wrists. The house was empty, I probably had about two hours before anyone got back. Probably not enough time to bleed out completely. Saved again.

The only other time I thought seriously about killing myself was when I was in my mid-20s. Alone and depressed, as usual. I had a plan. I even outlined that plan to a psychologist, who was really concerned because I was so sure of myself and what I planned to do. I ended up buying a new car. The idea was, I didn’t want to leave anyone to pay off my debts, so I had a stay of execution. For a while, anyway.

If you’re still reading this, you might be wondering why I’m writing about it.
Every time I wanted to attempt suicide, I stopped myself. Even when I almost succeeded three years ago. I stopped myself, because in the end, no matter how shitty everything was, I still wanted to live. No matter how depressed, no matter how lonely, no matter how repugnant I felt about myself, I wanted to live.

And so I’m still here.

Still here. Still standing. Yep, that’s why the blog’s called that.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. Who does? I know there will no doubt be many more times when I feel like taking my life. But I also know that my survival instinct will kick in and stop me, as it has every time before. I hope so, anyway.

I may hate my life, but my life doesn’t hate me.

And I guess that’s good enough.


Suicide Prevention

The Laid Back DM #5 – Foiled again!

Don’t know what a Dungeon Master is? How uncool. Click here to find out. 

So what happens when that wonderful adventure you put together, with all its interesting surprises and nasty traps, gets circumnavigated by the party because they have some nifty spells and additional tricks up their sleeve you didn’t think about?

Aside from taking it on the chin and continuing in the spirit of fun, there’s not much you can do for that session. But it can give you some ideas to prevent said players from getting out of similar traps next time:

1)      Use a trap that breaks concentration. Something that projects loud noise, for instance. Have them save each round in order to keep their concentration up (you have to be fair, after all).

2)      Make traps only respond to human/humanoids, or have a weight limit. Using the poor mascot or familiar to activate a trap is just nasty, but some parties do that sort of thing. Think about your trap set up for next time: perhaps the mechanism is too complicated for an animal or it’s too light to activate it.

3)      Surround your mechanically-based traps with an Anti-Magic Shell. No magic works inside its 10 foot radius sphere. Take that, player characters…

4)      Trap the walls or the air. Now this is really evil. If the characters climb up the walls to avoid the trapped floor, the wall trap triggers. If they fly over the floor the air trap triggers. Bwah ha ha!

5)      Make their spells go haywire.  If the characters cast a Fly spell in the trapped area, make the spell go crazy and fly them straight into the wall, damaging them and possibly breaking their concentration. If they persist, have the spell go crazier still. You can ad lib the various effects if needed. You’re the DM, after all.

In the end, the whole point of traps is to challenge the players and let them have a good time figuring it out. Yeah, you can make them hard, but they shouldn’t be impossible. You want some of them to survive to play another day, don’t you?

You can find more Laid Back Dungeon Master posts by clicking here.

The Sale. Part 9. A short series.

We made it to the floor access. The iPhone torch light reflected off the shiny ladder, floating dust motes and hanging cobwebs.

“We’re going down there?” said Aisha. Her face wrinkled in dismay. “I don’t know. It’s bad enough I’m in a dark passage with some stranger…”

I slapped my forehead. “Oh, sorry. I’m John. Forgot to introduce myself.”

“That’s because you were too busy screaming like a little old lady.”

“Yes, well we can’t all be heroes, can we?”

“You’re also a hog.” She snatched the cellphone away and shone its light down the ladder recess. “So we have to go down there?”

“It leads to the pantry and further down to the basement. There may be a cellar door we can get out.”

“And who made you the leader?”

I rolled my eyes. “I just want to get out of this house.” I sighed. “All I wanted to do was sell a vacuum to the lady.”

Aisha guffawed. “You’re a vacuum cleaner salesman? What, you couldn’t find a real job?”

“I’ll have you know I’m pretty good at my job. Now if you’ve finished humiliating me…”

She wiped tears from her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m in sales, too. I sell make-up packages.”

It was my turn to laugh. She crossed her arms and frowned. “I make a good living, thank you very much.”

On cue, I stopped. “Well, I guess we’ve both been put in our places.” An uncomfortably pregnant pause followed while we assessed the state of our lives and our current predicament.

“This Vasilikov woman must be luring salespeople,” said Aisha.

“Maybe,” I said. “But something doesn’t feel right. I only away because Silas—the butler—led me here. Then he disappeared. Plus, the ladder is stainless steel, but the butler said the passages and the house were here since the Civil War, so the original ladder much have been replaced at some point. It doesn’t add up.”

“The butler helped you? I had to find my own way through this freak show house. If I hadn’t run upstairs and hid under the bed, I don’t know what would have happened. That butler was gone as soon as Vasilikov came at me with the knife.”

“Like I said, it’s suspicious.” I pointed to the top of the ladder. “Going down?” Aisha nodded.

“Ladies before gentleman,” I said.

“You’re no gentleman,” mumbled Aisha as she climbed down the ladder, iPhone in mouth.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

The Sale. Part 8. A short story.

I flung myself off the bed, seeking to extricate my lower leg from whatever was grabbing it. My effeminate scream echoed through the room.

“Oh, shut up,” cried a female voice from below. My leg was released and I huddled against the wall under the shuttered window. An attractive African-American woman in her mid-20’s pulled herself from under the bed and stood. She was dishevelled, dressed in what looked like a tie-dyed hippie dress.

“Who are you?” I said, eyes wide in disbelief.

“I’m Aisha,” said the woman, smiling. “Sorry I scared you. You scream like a girl, you know.”

I rose, looking suitably miffed. “What the hell were you doing under that bed?”

“Hiding from the crazy woman,” said Aisha. “I guess you’ve met her, otherwise you wouldn’t have reacted like you did.”

I relaxed somewhat. “How did you get here?”

“Long story,” she said. “But we need to move, because your girly screams have probably informed  her where we are.” She paused to look me up and down. “I don’t suppose you have a gun or a knife on you? All I’ve got is my cellphone. I can’t get a damn signal, though.”

I deadpanned. “Yeah, I’ve got a few knives tucked into my shoe and a machete down my underwear for just such an occasion.” She rolled her eyes.

“Can I see the phone?” I said. She hesitated, then handed it to me to inspect. It was an iPhone with about 50% charge left. No phone bars, no reception. Strangely, no internet either.

It was at this moment that I realised Silas the butler was nowhere to be seen. The secret door was still open, but he had disappeared. My brow furrowed and I raised an eyebrow, Spock-style.

“There’s a secret passage over there,” I said. “You can tell me your story as we go.” I walked to the opening.

“That’s my phone, you know.”

“There’s no light in the passageway. I need it to see where we’re going.”

Aisha seemed to be in two minds, but decided to follow. “I hope to God you’re not some serial killer.”

“Can’t be worse than Junifer Vasilikov,” I replied. I clicked on the phone’s torch app and climbed into the passageway.

“Is that her name? So she’s some Russian chick?” said Aisha, following. I slid the wood panel into place.

“I guess so. Hey, you didn’t notice the butler standing at the passageway entry a few minutes ago did you?”

“No, I only saw your legs.” Aisha noticed how dank and dirty the corridor was. “Hey, you better not be leading me into trouble. I’ve been hiding safely since last night.”

“You seem pretty okay for someone who’s been hiding out in a strange house for 24 hours.”

“I carry lots of snacks. I’m more annoyed about no internet. You know how dull it can get under a bed?”

To be continued…

Missed the earlier instalments? Click here.

For Sale. A poem.

For sale
Older model
Chassis in fine shape, no rust
Engine in good condition
Fiery but reliable
May need a lick of paint
And new tires
Great long term investment
Won’t let you down
Can be driven hard
Or from A to B
Whatever your fancy
Some wisdom and insight required
Best or nearest offer


Going cheap
Reduced to clear

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