Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Lost City, Pt. 1

At long last, they had arrived. The lost city of Lollapalooza. The two ragged travelers were the first to lay eyes upon it in centuries. Gazing down upon the vast ruins that sprawled throughout the valley for miles, they couldn't help but wonder; how had no one found this place before? There was, after all, carved boldly into the mountainside, a giant greeting. “Lollapalooza”, it said. This particular ancient civilization must have been extremely full of themselves. After carefully making a mental note to themselves to vandalize the monument on their way out, they began their descent into the valley.

The path down was treacherous, the way narrow and steep. The elf, however, with his long stride and natural agility, made it seem effortless, despite carrying an immense weight on his back. He was much stronger than his comrade and therefore carried most of their supplies in his pack. He did not resent his friend for this. It was simply a fact that elves are much stronger than dwarves, and he was content to smugly flaunt this superiority in character. He looked behind him to see that the dwarf had fallen behind again. He could hear, with his incredible elf senses, his shorter counterpart grumbling into his beard, as dwarves are wont to do.

“Make haste, Grywio, or do I need to carry you?”, the elf jested.
“Shut yer trap, Lathandros, 'fore I shut it fer ye,” snapped Grywio.

Lathandros smiled and turned his back once more to his unlikely companion. Their fellowship had been born of the strangest circumstances, and out of necessity, but the elf had grown rather fond of the grumpy bastard. But he could reminisce all he wanted later, he told himself. He must now concentrate on the task at hand. Returning his focus to the path that lay before his feet, he quickly took in his surroundings. They were almost to the bottom.

Even in ruin, the city was like nothing they had ever seen before. The path they had taken to get here was the only entrance. Completely surrounded by mountains on all sides, the civilization filled the entire valley. Even large parts of the mountainsides were covered in the structures of these ancient people. The Lollapaloozans had been a great and powerful race in their time. Their empire had stretched far beyond this secluded place, to be sure. They had conquered many civilizations and obtained massive wealth for themselves. That much could be derived from the history of the surrounding lands. But what, then, had befallen this mighty people? They seemed to have been completely erased from the face of the earth, save for these ruins. An uncharacteristic chill ran up Lathandros's spine. It was rare for him to feel fear, but he felt it now. Something wasn't right about this place...

“Hello masterzzz. We lovez you. We so glad to see you! GOLEM! GOLEM!”

“Oh fer the luv of the gods, Conor, you scared the bajeezus out of me!”

“We're sorry, masterzzz. GOLEM! GOLEM!”

“Lathandros, remind me why we let this good fer nuthin' thing keep following us?”

“Because I pity him. He is the foulest of creatures.”

“Can't we just kill him? He'll probably just try 'nd kill us in our sleep anywey.”
“...Alright. But be swift. We must press on.”

Grywio swiftly removes the disgusting creature's head from its neck and watches the body collapse to the ground.

“That's one already! HAHA! I'm winning!”

Wait til next week for Pt. 2


Zombie Snowpocalypse Balboa

It was dusk as the crew rolled into Zombana, there clothes tattered and matted with blood. Not their blood of course. The blood of countless zombies that had been laid to waste for standing in their way. Brendan was shirtless; a bandana wrapped around his head. His face was covered in soot and ash from all the stuff he had blown up, just for fun. He carried a massive machine gun attached to a strap thrown over his shoulder to support what would otherwise be the unbearable weight of his instrument of death. Mada was also shirtless because her name spelled backwards is Adam and guys don't need shirts. Plus, she looked real good in that new bra she had bought from the Victoria's Secret across from the Babycrombie she worked at in the mall. That had been just two weeks ago, before all this chaos had been unleashed, but it seemed like another lifetime. Eliot skipped along next to her, desperately attempting to hold her hand without making it weird. He was wearing Birkenstocks and his Green Bay shorts, and, of course, no shirt.

It was freezing out, they all knew, but when you're in college you sometimes have to sacrifice comfort and logic in order to look your best. And these three were no exception to the rule. Eliot had even gone so far as to draw a 6-pack on his abdomen with Sharpie. Needless to say the lady zombies had been all over him since they had started their journey, and the guy zombies had all been trying to kill him out of what he deemed must be sheer jealous rage. What assholes.

"Well," said Brendan, finally breaking the silence. "We're here at last..." (Brendan had grown rather quiet and somber since being forced to kill the zombified Dolores O'Riordan along the way).

Eliot, ever the voice of reason, asked "So what do we now? I guess we should really have come up with a game plan before getting here..."

"Well, you guys are boring. I'm gonna go back to my room and watch a movie or something. See ya later, fellas," drawled Mada in an inexplicable southern twang.

The boys, after exchanging a look of confusion and utter defeat, scrambled to catch up with her. Even though she was walking, it took them like 5 minutes to finally reunite with her, due to her crazy and superhuman agility. "Woah, I didn't say you guys were allowed to join me, but whatever. My room is right around the corner," said Mada.

Several minutes later they were at the front door of the building. "AW SHIT. I forgot my keycard!" Mada exclaimed. But before she had even finished her sexy whining, Brendan had shock-and-awed the door off its hinges with one badass kick. After taking a moment to conceal how obviously impressed and turned on she was by this show of alphamaleism, the trio made their way inside and up to Mada's floor. About halfway down the hallway, though, Mada stopped short.

"What is it Mada? What's wrong?!?!" squeaked Eliot nervously.
"Oh nothing. But check this out. This fire alarm case is so fun to play with and when you push it this way -"

The plastic casing that had shielded the fire alarm from unintentionally deployment clattered to the ground, and as she scrambled to pick it up in hopes that nobody would notice her clumsiness (too late), she accidentally set off the fire alarm (how ironic).

"Ah...ah....ah..." stuttered Mada, terror etched on her face. The alarms were blaring. Surely every zombie in a mile radius would hear this... Brendan, quickly coming to the same realization, swept Mada up with one arm and grabbed the baffled Eliot by the scruff with the other, swiftly dragging them to the relative safety of Mada's conveniently unlocked room.

"I don't get it, guys! What's the big deal?" whined Eliot cluelessly.

After barricading the door, Brendan stood stoically in the center of the room, his gun aimed, ready to defend his friends with his life. Several minutes past, the tension palpable. And all the while, Eliot cowered in the corner, whilst Mada bounced on her bed and ran around the room restlessly. And then they heard it. The moaning of zombies. It was distant at first, but grew louder and louder as the horde grew nearer. The door started to shake, and then to splinter. A zombie hand burst through, and then another and another. Brendan opened fire.

The carnage was absolute. Zombie parts flew in all directions as the guerilla warrior unflinchingly mowed them down. Rank after rank of zombie fell, and it was starting to look like they may win this one after all. Brendan allowed himself a small, rare smile. But as if that had jinxed them, the sound of bullets thudding into the undead was suddenly replaced by a dull whirring and a click-click-click. He had run out of ammo...

Not knowing what to do now, Brendan began to panic. He threw down the gun that was now all but useless to him. His friends looked to their unspoken leader for advice, but he had none to give. He had failed them. His eyes filled with tears as he slumped against the far wall. This was it. There was nothing he could do.

Then all of a sudden, a noise rang out, and the zombies started to draw away from the door. Brendan couldn't put his finger on it at first. It sounded like...a chain saw! Someone else out there was alive and had come to their rescue! He dared to peek his head out of what remained of the doorway, and what he saw took his breath away/confused the shit out of him. There, in the hallway, an epic battle was being fought. There were four humans. One of them he instantly recognized as Classic Brian himself! In all of his shirtless glory, his ridiculously ripped abdomen was like a beacon of hope to the living. He wore jeans that were ripped and tattered and bright blue shoes that were inexplicably spotless and oh-so-cool looking. He was rocking the most badass pair of Oakley's ever to grace the earth. In his hands was a chain saw, just like Brendan had suspected, and Brian used it like it was an extension of his body. Countless zombies fell before him. Back to back with him fought the most beautiful creature Brendan had ever laid eyes on. She had gorgeous blonde hair and the prettiest face. She carried herself with such elegance and grace, even whilst cutting zombies to shreds with her broadsword. And in the corner, behind all the mayhem, Brendan could just make out who he assumed to be Nick, holding a leash which led to Robert's neck, who was obviously on all fours. Wait, what?!? Weren't they both supposed to be dead or zombified? And why the hell was Robert on a leash?! Over the screaming and the roar of the chain saw's blade, Brendan could swear he heard Nick critiquing Brian's form.

When the violence had ended, Brendan, Eliot, and Mada sheepishly emerged from the room.

"You got some splainin' to do, Brian!" Mada called out diplomatically.

The two saviors and their followers approached the timid trio with a swagger that could only be described as notoriously fly. Then all of a sudden, Mada squealed and nearly fainted, and Eliot let out a "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" They had realized who the mysterious and sexy warrior was. It was Semas Ailuj.

"Isn't she pretty, guys?" inquired Brian cooly between making out with her and yanking Robert's leash. "I found her on Green street. She took out the entire Pike pledge class. It was incredible. Now we're in love."

Mada glowered with envy whilst Eliot was torn between objecting to this latest development and comforting Mada with what he knew to be half-assed lies about how she was better than Semas Ailuj could ever be. He went with the latter, but was instantly shot down by Mada's untrusting rage.

"Ok, that's great," Brendan interjected. "Now please explain the whole Robert and Nick thing to me."

"Oh right. Well that's simple enough. When you guys left us to our meaningless sacrifice so that you could escape, we easily defeated the zombies and discovered Nick was very much alive and pretty pissed at us for ditching him. It turns out he can't die or be zombified because he's a mean robot. They aren't susceptible to either of those things. And as for Robert, he had obviously lost his mind to spite and gone psycho, but I didn't wanna kill him. He is my friend after all. So I just put him on this chain and brought him with. He's been really cooperative about it, strangely enough. I think it's because he knows I expected him not to be."

The group eyed Robert with some concern.

"Ok then...guess we should get goi-"

But before Eliot could finish that sentence, Robert had pulled out a knife and go-to-sleeped him for real, right in the neck, to death, just like he promised he would if he ever went psycho. Committed to the end. The group stood there, mouths agape, speechless.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Conor - Zombie Snowpocalypse Part IV: The Spiral Collapses

Robert turned his back to the rest of the pack, and stood upright. He seemed taller than normal. As Eliot and Mada started to dash away, Brian hesitated. He looked back at Robert, then at his two remaining friends. He could clearly hear the terrible shuffle of the zombie horde that was approaching their position. Somebody needed to stay. Robert put on sunglasses. Brian looked back at the other two. As they ran, Eliot fell over purposefully in a sad attempt to get more attention from Mada. Brian knew it was up to him. He caught Eliot's eye, and Eliot knew what was up. Eliot, being the only guy left at this point, was definitely fine with this.

Brian ran back to Robert and picked up a shotgun leaning on the west wall. He picked it up and dramatically cocked it. It became terribly obvious that both men were just playing a part. The pair had horribly overestimated the speed of the zombies and were left standing there in awkward silence. Brian searched for something to talk about, but Robert did not respond to his many attempts at conversation. It seemed that Robert was determined to just wear his aviators, point his guns, and stare at the doorway the zombies were about to come through.

Or at least they thought they were about to come through. Minutes passed, and the moaning of the zombies become slightly louder, but the whole situation was still pretty embarrassing.

"Yo, uh, Robert, do you think we should just head up there and join Mada and Eliot? I think... I think we're good on the whole zombie thing. We can even tell them we killed a bunch of them, but I don't really see any reason we shouldn't escape with them if-"

"It seems like you're giving up, Brian."

"No, it's just that it's pretty damn clear that-"

"It seems to me like you're giving up."

Brian opened and closed his mouth several times before recognizing there was no way to win. They could hear the helicopter land on the rooftop and leave. Brian sighed.

27 minutes later the zombie horde showed up and inexplicably numbered in the hundreds. This was Roberts element. This was what he was born to do. Brian couldn't understand it. The two pistols in his hands rang out with a the clarity of a bell, every shot louder and more deafening than the last. Every bullet buried itself in the forehead of a zombie, forever quieting his hunt for human flesh. Every gunshot lit up Robert's face dramatically. His beard that he had triumphantly started to grow since his girlfriend had died on the first day of the outbreak caught the light beautifully, but could not hide the crazy grin on his face. Robert started to laugh.

Brian looked back at the horde. It wasn't making any ground, really. There was only one small doorway in, and it was a pretty narrow hallway.

"Robert! Hey Robert!" Brian shouted.


"Yeah, yeah good work." Brian shouted back. "Hey I was just thinking that this is totally doable. As long as we just make sure that we alternate reloading so that one person is picking them off at all times, they shouldn't really even get all that close to us."

Robert laughed, and immediately started reloading whenever Brian was reloading out of spite. Brian didn't notice this for a while, and by the time the zombies were almost on top of them. The pair was forced to retreat up the staircase their more fortunate, more logical friends had used to escape to the roof. Brian found a couple of extremely heavy bookcases on the roof (?) that he used to block the door, but Robert, spitefully, set fire to them. Brian sighed. Brian started calling Mada and Eliot to see if they could get the helicopter to come back for them, but Robert stole and smashed Brian's phone, and then his own. Brian sighed.

The doors to the roof burst open and Brian whipped around, training his shotgun at the entry, and was surprised to see Nick standing there, looking worse for wear, but very much alive.

"Nick! We thought you were dead!" Brian shouted. For the first time since being left alone with Robert who seemed to be quickly developing sociopathic tendencies, Brian felt alive. He was filled with hope.

"What? No, I just had to abandon the room where I could broadcast everything because zombies came in. Or haven't you heard? There are zombies pretty much everywhere. I think it's due to the zombie outbreak."

"Yeah, well...."

"Sorry, honestly I'm just a little hurt you guys didn't even, like, check. Did you just turn around when you heard me shout once on the radio?"

"You screamed, several times, and then you didn't broadcast anymore."

"So yes is what you're saying. Yes, you didn't even bother to see if your friend Nick needed any help. I don't know if I mentioned all the zombies running around. It was just me and a bunch of zombies. It would've been cool if you guys had helped. Whatever. Have I missed the helicopter?"

"... Yeah, yeah it's gone. Mada and Eliot got on it, Brian and I stayed to buy them some time."

"That seems unnecessary."

"It was unnecessary."

"Well I'll just try calling them real quick." Nick said while getting his cell phone out of his pocket. "In hindsight I might be slightly to blame for you guys not coming to get me. I should have texted you guys that I was alive."

Before Nick could make the call, Robert shot Nick's hand and then shot the dropped cell phone. Robert laughed. Brian sighed. Nick bled.

There was more awkward silence as they just stood around for a while. Zombie moans could be heard as the horde clumsily tried to climb the stairs up to the rooftop, but it was obvious they wouldn't make it all the way up for an hour or so at least.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Zombie Snowpocalypse Part III: Breaking the Ice

by Brendan Cavanagh


Brief shots of the faces of each member of the Classic Brian team fade in and out of view.  Faint screams are heard.  Scenes from the previous two movies similarly fade in and out in silence- Zombie Brian and Zombie Chief Illiniwek simultaneously sprinting in slow motion...a bullet-ridden Birdndan (half-Brendan, half-bird) somersaulting into a field from the skies...the remains of Eliot and Mada's cannibalistic frenzy- what looks like a small pile of ground meat with an outstretched hand, its extended fingers positioned in the style of a perfect Gb dim chord...





"Eliot, wake up, damn it!"

With one final powerful backhand, Brendan managed to revive Eliot from his feverish slumber.  Eliot slowly regained consciousness and struggling, was able to sit upright and face Brendan and Mada.  Eliot saw the concerned, loving look in Mada's tear-strewn eyes and knew immediately something had gone wrong.  Brendan saw that look, too.  He felt awkward continually being involved in situations like this.  It was always weird to be around those two.

"What happened?"  he asked hastily.  "How are you alive, Brendan?  I shot you out of the sky the other day!"

Brendan and Mada exchanged quick looks of bemused surprise and smirked.  Brendan turned back to face Eliot, who by now had pulled out his phone to check something.

"Eliot, if you're looking for NFL updates again, I'm going to have to take your phone away from you...though I don't know why you still have it.  The zombie outbreak was worse than we thought.  It's already broken out of the U.S. and into surrounding countries.  Eliot, I'm sorry, but...there isn't going to be a Super Bowl.  The Green Bay Packers have nothing left but a couple third string tackles.  They're zombies though.  You've been out of it ever since we ran into Cory.  Do you remember when he gave us that 'serum?'"

"Of course," Eliot replied.  "That was right before we moved on and fought those zombie cows...and you turned into a bird and I killed you!...and we went back to U of I and I fought off Chief Illiniwek and Zombie Brian...and Mada killed Conor with a katana...and we ate him...."  His voice began to fade as he realized how cartoonish and overtly metaphoric it all seemed now in hindsight.

"Eliot, you tripped balls," Brendan interjected with a laugh.  "Cory forgot that he put a bunch of acid in his PBR.  You lost it, man!  I think you must have had too much for your build- the rest of us just laid on tree branches and listened to Animal Collective for a few hours."

" none of that actually happened?  Eliot couldn't believe it.  "But it all seemed so real..."

 "Hey man, don't worry about it.  At least you didn't ride off naked on a fixed-gear bicycle like Cory did.  It's just the three of us now.  But I'm glad you're better.  We couldn't go on without you."  Brendan placed his hand on Eliot's shoulder and the two shared a knowing look.  They both knew how much they needed each other in these desperate times.

"When you two queers are done having a moment, maybe you'd like to take a look up there."  They turned to see Mada pointing at the sun, which until now had remained invisible for a number of weeks.  As they looked around them, they realized the layers of ice on the trees and ground, once inches thick, were beginning to melt.  With exclamations of relief, the three exchanged high fives and hugs.  When it came time for Eliot and Mada to share their joy, they stopped and stared intently into each others' eyes.

"I'm really glad you were there for me.  I...I don't know how I could face these zombies and bitter temperatures without you."  Mada could tell Eliot wasn't feigning appreciation for her like he normally would.

She responded to his words with a hint of teeth and said, "Yeah you're pretty useless on your own."  She chuckled.

Eliot guffawed at her joke perhaps a little louder than he should have, looked down at his feet and then back to Mada, and uttered a somewhat lame, "Yeah."

Brendan's eyes darted back and forth.  He wasn't sure the other two realized he was still present.  This was, without a doubt, the most awkward situation in which he had ever been involved.  He wanted to clear his throat, or even leave them alone- somehow break the unbelievably tortuous tension, but he was frozen on the spot in awe of what transpired next.

Eliot closed his eyes and craned his head just slightly to the side as if to signal that he was going to kiss Mada, finally manifesting the unspoken attraction between the two, though he stood no less than three feet away from her.  She instantly picked up on his intentions though, and began to lean in to kiss him.  It was a far lean though, being three feet away.  As her lips sailed slowly towards his, Eliot began sort of wetly writhing his lips in a mixture of anticipation and expectation- Brendan had a feeling that Eliot thought that he was already kissing Mada.  She soon found her way there though, and the two began to make strange, albeit passionate grunting sounds.  Their feet planted firmly on the ground, their arms held tight to their sides, the two kissed for several minutes, all the while still grunting, with the occasional intermittent "Yeah" from Eliot.  Brendan knew this moment was a special one, for the film-goers and for the other two, but he couldn't help but wonder if either of them had ever been kissed before.

He soon could take no more of this awkward situation, so he pointed his gun towards the horizon and fired a couple rounds.  "Oh sorry guys, I thought I just saw a zombie.  My bad.  We should probably get going before it gets too late."  At this, Eliot and Mada promptly ended their make out session and joined him on the now muddy road.  Eliot held back for a moment to walk beside his buddy, letting Mada go ahead without him.

"Brendan.  Hey.  Mada and I just had sex."  Brendan could see the enthusiastic naivete and pride in Eliot's countenance and didn't have the heart to correct him.  He gave Eliot a halfhearted pat on the back and said, "Congratulations, man.  I'm real proud of you."  He then proceeded to roll his eyes upon turning away, thoroughly aware of the fact that the fate of the three remaining members of the Classic Brian team was in his hands now.  His thoughts wandered and soon settled upon his recently brief foray into anti-zombie gang life back in Springfield, and he began to get overly sentimental.

Damn, he thought, I never should have left those guys for this.  I mean, they were all essentially bandwagon-jumpers the way they so conventionally killed those zombies and listened to Dave Matthews Band.  And I was always unhappy, but...I sort of miss being unhappy in Springfield.

But he trudged on nonetheless.  Eliot and Mada may have been sexually misguided, but they were his good friends, and he knew he was safe as long as he remained with them.

Just as he started to get sentimental about his current situation, a blood-curdling, high-pitched scream broke out ahead.  It was Eliot.  He was jumping up and down and waving frantically towards a patch of nearby woods, from which an enormous pack of zombies emerged.  He grabbed Mada's hand and placed it in his, and they and Brendan fled from the mob down the road into a quaint, dilapidated chapel.  Brendan left Eliot and Mada to barricade all points of entry while he scaled the adjacent bell tower, at the top of which he would hole up and pick off the advancing horde.

The zombies quickly surrounded the chapel in snarling and drooling unison.  Brendan noted how similar this situation was to his daily experiences in the cafeteria at his old high school.  He placed the earphones of his iPod in his ears, turned on "Gimme Shelter" to get him pumped, picked up his sniper rifle and took aim.  He singled out a rather surly looking adolescent pounding on the frail stained glass.  He located the zombie's head in his cross hairs.  Through the scope he could see the boy was wearing blue and orange braces, probably a fan of the Illini.  He took aim and muttered, "Smile, you son of a bitch" before blowing the boy's head clean off his body.  A few of the surrounding zombies lunged at the headless corpse and fought over the meatiest bits.  Brendan saw one fending off another from its meal with a severed hand.  Locating the second zombie in his sights, Brendan said, "Need a hand?" and shot him in the head.  For good measure, he decided he should kill the first zombie, who was now triumphantly pounding his chest while also eating the hand he had just used to beat off his friend.  "You can't always get what you want," said Brendan (he was on a Rolling Stones kick) before he shot the zombie in the head.

Meanwhile, Eliot and Mada were having less success.  They had two bullets left in their sole revolver and tens of zombies thrusting their hands and heads through the makeshift barricades.  Eliot turned to Mada with tears in his eyes.  "Mada," he said solemnly, "I don't think we're gonna make it like this.  There's no way Brendan can take out all these zombies, and they're gonna break in here anyway and kill us.  I think we should-"

"No!  Eliot, I won't let you," interjected Mada.  "I won't let you shoot yourself.  I love you too much to have to watch that happen.  I'll...I'll do it first.  That way I don't have to see your beautiful brains spurt out of the side of your skull and onto this organ."

"No!  Mada, no, that's not what I was going to say at all," replied Eliot.  "No, I was going to suggest we go through that door and join Brendan up in the bell tower.  He's got more ammo.  And possibly grenades."

"Oh," replied Mada.  "Yeah that's a good idea."

And the pair of them ascended the adjacent bell tower, where they found Brendan pretending his rifle was a guitar, jamming out to some Bob Dylan song.  They could tell it was Bob Dylan because the sound of harmonica was blasting from his ears.  He clearly did not hear them enter the room, what with his hearing impairment.  They watched for a couple minutes as he alternated air-guitaring and picking off zombies, repeatedly uttering the cheesiest puns every time he successfully killed one.  For instance, after he blew one's head off, he pompously yelled out, "You may have been an A student in life, but as a zombie, you got NO BRAINS! AHAHAHAHA!"

Eventually, Eliot and Mada could take no more of this low form of humor, so they cautiously approached their friend and tapped him on the shoulder to signal his attention.  Shocked by the appearance of his friends, Brendan tripped over his iPod cord and accidentally dropped his rifle out the window, but not before it went off and shot Eliot in the foot.  Mada screamed and rushed to see what she could do about to stop the blood.  Fighting back tears, she turned to Brendan and yelled accusingly, "You idiot!  Look what you did!"

Eliot winced as she took his shoe and sock off his injured foot.  He looked up at Brendan, and then looked back to Mada and said calmly, "It's alright Ma, I'm only bleeding."  Brendan, in actuality the only person in that bell tower who knew that that was the title of a Bob Dylan song, began to laugh raucously.  He was joined by Eliot, who in fact didn't realize he just made a great reference, but he laughed uproariously anyway.  It turns out that he thought now, as he broke the tension between his friends, was the appropriate time to break out his pet name for his new unspoken girlfriend.

"Well, I guess we're screwed now guys,"  said Brendan rather gravely after he finished laughing.  He looked out at the setting sun in deep contemplation.  He realized this was the first sunset he had seen in weeks.  Although the sun was fading out of view, he knew that he could depend on seeing it again in only a few hours.  Unfortunately he couldn't say the same for his Classic Brian brethren.  He thought of each of his fallen comrades: Conor- His Friday murder by Mada's hand really set the tone for the weekend.  Nick, who's usually there to pull things together after the weekend, died tragically the following Monday.  Then there was that one weekend when Brian and Robert decided to double team a pack of advancing zombies, sacrificing themselves to save the others.  Brendan would miss them.  But sooner rather than later, it seemed, he and the other two survivors would probably meet similar demises.

He turned around and watched Mada lovingly tend to Eliot.  It was comforting to know there was still some humanity left in a world driven upside down by zombies and a freak ice storm.  Yet, what place did love have in this world?  It was useless!  Love would never defeat these zombies.  They may be stupid, but there was simply too many of them to even hope for survival.  Brendan picked up Eliot's revolver which lay on the floor next to him and check its contents.  Two bullets.  Just enough.  He cocked the gun and pointed it at his friends.

"Thursdays were never good for me."

But just before he could pull the trigger, Mada sprung off the ground like a cat and attached herself to Brendan's arm, where she bit him fiercely.  Howling in pain, he dropped the gun on the floor and struggled with Mada.  She overtook him and  he began to tip over the edge.  He could rely on his exceptional balance no longer, and his friends weren't going to help him, and he tipped over backwards.  Luckily his hand swiped out and caught hold of the bell's clapper, and he clung to it with all his might.

"What do you think you were doing?!" screamed Mada, who had taken control of the revolver and was now pointing it at the rope suspending the bell in the air.  "I could shoot this rope right now and you and the bell would come crashing down the tower."

Brendan, scared back to his senses after nearly dying, looked incredulously at Mada.  "Mada, that's it!  There's not too many of them left.  We wait til they crowd in here and try to climb the ladder.  When they do, we shoot the rope and it crushes them!  I'm sorry I tried to kill you guys.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I became delirious with hopelessness.  I just didn't know how to resolve our situation.  I'm sorry!  I'm sorry!"  He began to sob.

Eliot reached out and touched Mada's leg.  "Ma, it's okay.  He just made a mistake.  Let's get him back to safety."

At this, Mada lowered the revolver and put her hand out to grab Brendan's.  He caught hold, lunged and managed to get back across safely.  There he and the others waited for another hour, when the zombies broke through the barricades in the chapel and made their way to the connected bell tower.  Once they crashed through the door and entered the tower, a pair of them started attempting to climb the ladder.  At this moment, Mada shot the rope and the bell fell to the ground with a resonating clang, crushing every zombie under it.

Eliot, Mada and Brendan made their way down the ladder and walked into the chapel, which was torn apart by the bloodthirsty zombies.  As Brendan aided a hobbling Eliot, Mada sprinted over to the organ and proclaimed that she knew how to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano, but she could probably play it on the organ because how difficult of a transition could it be?  After her impromptu recital, Eliot looked at both his friends and said cautiously he knew the right hand's chords for the first verse of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," so their departure was delayed another few minutes as they belted out the lyrics together and decided that the song really was very good, despite its ubiquitous nature and cheesiness.  Not to be outdone before they left, Brendan sat down to casually play Pachabel's "Canon in D."  But the other two had already played and they pretended to listen for a little bit before they decided to start making their way to the door.  Brendan yelled, "Guys, this is the good part!"  He kept playing and said to himself, "I'm definitely finishing this song," but halfway through the "good part" he felt like the other two weren't going to wait for him so he got up and joined them outside.

The sky was turning a faint gray-blue, signaling an all-too-rare sunrise, once Brendan caught up with the other two.  Through the sparse fog he could make out a sign that said "Champaign-Urbana 10 miles."  He didn't know what "Chambana" or as people were referring to it these days, "Zombana," held in store for the three of them, but he was excited at the prospect of starting over and maybe living one single day without any stress.  He looked at Eliot, who walked with his arm around Mada.  Her head rested on his shoulder and her hand was placed in his back pocket.  Brendan hoped there were some cute single, college girls there- living ones, that is.  Also a good sandwich place.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Zombie Snowpocalypse Part II: Back to School!

“This is bad on purpose,” Eliot proclaimed. “The government is indelibly behind this.”

Mada and Eliot's situation had worsened. Since flying away on the chopper, they had made it back to Springfield, which was a desolate wasteland, but one with enough safezones to keep them alive. Tribes were popping all over town, different survival groups. The conglomerate of them couldn't match the amount of zombies, but they could overpower them.

Thanks to Springfield's recent illogical influx of machine guns, zombies are less threatening than they once were. But Mada and Eliot foresee terrible events. They decide it is again time to move. This time they will get far out of Springfield and head back to Champaign. They are set on venturing alone, but they decide to give Brendan, who had joined one of the tribes with less followers and a more unique sound, a call.

He agrees to come with them, much to their surprise.

“That tribe used to be really cool, but the new stuff they do is boring and repetitive, I need a new purpose,” Brendan reasoned.

The three set off, machine guns in hand, and did some boring traveling scenes, but as they pass Sherman, Illinois, they realize that the entire town has turned into a united zombie front! The town charges, and Mada Eliot and Brendan mow them down. Eventually a small gaggle of the zombies overpower Brendan, though and it seems he's about to be taken out when just then, a mysterious figure attacks the pack with a knife, severing all six of their heads before giving the gang a cheerful, “long time no see, guys!”

“CORY!” the three exclaim in unison.

Cory doesn't have a gun, so he takes over the role of commando medic, with his awesome knife and his serum that he claims once healed a zombie bite that he received, months ago. He had the scars to prove it. For once, there was hope.

Also remember, it's still really cold. We have coats and gloves on and when we talk you see our breath.

Boring traveling scenes, reminiscing about things, introducing Cory and Brendan (awkward at first, but the two gain a respect for one another, or so it seems). Then, zombie cows! A whole herd of cattle rushes at the gang, and they take multiple bullets to hunt down. In the back is their psychopathic cannibal farmer leader, who has a rifle of his own and sics them on passersby. Mada is bit and takes a bullet to the arm. After refusing Eliot's insistent mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and getting Cory's serum, she appears to be okay, but she can no longer handle a gun. She passes the torch to Cory, and Cory gives her the duties of doctor.

Oh by the way they killed everyone else in the scene above, so no worries there. More traveling scenes. Then, Decatur!

As the gang fights off zombies upon zombies, literally racking up kills in the hundreds, someone makes a bad joke. Brendan sees this as an opportune time, and steps away from the rest of the crew.
“I will no longer be the bearer of bad jokes, because I've just played a mighty prank on you!”
Then he pulls out a sort of syringe and injects himself with something. Almost instantly he sprouts wings and his feet grow talons. His arms turn into machine guns and he takes to the skies. Eliot, realizing immediately Brendan's treacherous intentions, starts shooting the Brenda-beast wildly.

Mada then makes a stark realization. “Where the hell is Cory!?!?”

Eliot, still in a firefight with Birdndan, looks around, no Cory in sight. The fight continues, Brendan has suddenly become really bad at aiming at things. Eliot, however keeps hitting, because that's how good guys role.

After a lengthy battle that takes pretty much all of Brendan's life-bar, the Bird tumbles to the ground, Eliot and Mada do not think twice, and make a move for the highway.

A couple boring traveling scenes, talking about the terrible things they had just witnessed.

Some more traveling, only this time Cory's there for some reason.
“Where the hell were you?”
“Oh, I figured you guys wouldn't need me.”
“Get out of here!” Then we left his ass just outside Decatur.

Some boring, but unbearably awkward scenes of traveling. But you notice an increasing frequency of smiles with each progressing scene.

Finally Mada and Eliot reach Champaign, and Eliot sure looks badass. Dual-wielding machine guns, Mada fawning at his sheer awesomeness, he soaks in the moment as he soaks the zombies in lead.

Then, as they reach the Union, behind it comes a giant zombie with knives for fingers! And a headdress with knives where the feathers should be. It is he, Chief Illiniwek! And He's out for BLOOD. Because he's NATIVE AMERICAN.

While this is happening, a swarm of zombies pop out, and to the horror of our two survivors, among them is none other than Brian. But this isn't the Classic Brian we all know and love, this is Zombie Brian. And he is bearing down on the two at a speed which all other zombies simply lack.

Eliot fears that Brian will attack him, but the Chief is also bearing down on him, and while Eliot knows he can survive a zombie bite thanks to Cory's mystical serum, he knows that NO ONE, not even he, can survive a knife bite. He continues firing at the Chief. The Chief closes in on Eliot and the brave young but cut hero runs up the Chief's arms and kicks him in the chin.

Just as Eliot fells the Chief, he turns to see that Brian wasn't going for him all along. He had Mada pinned on the ground and was going for her sumptuous neck. Mada squirms free and grabs the gun that Eliot dropped while kicking the Chief. As she picks the gun up she notices a shadow emerge behind her. She looks to Brian and yells “I always loved Eliot and not you!” and then starts shooting the shit out of him. Eliot meanwhile picks up the other gun and shoots the risen Chief standing behind Mada.

The two, facing eachother, shooting things at the other's back, begin to makeout wildly and awesomely. This goes on for twenty minutes.

After the two run out of bullets, (as in, all their bullets. They were shooting for twenty minutes. They had to reload a lot.) They begin the trip to Eliot's dorm in silence. The unspoken plan to hole up and wait for this whole thing to blow over.

The amount of zombies is sparse in Chambana, but the two are both crazy agile and manage to avoid all would-be attackers. They get to Eliot's dorm, PAR. As they enter Eliot's hallway, they hear a menacing laugh. “No, it can't be him, we both thought he was dead!” They exclaimed in unison, which is impressive as it was the first thing either had said the whole time. The shock of this simultaneous statement made the two join eyes, but only for like half a second. And standing there, in PAR's main lounge was the one they never considered they would see.

Conor O'Brien.

“But I shot you in the back of the fucking head!” Mada exclaimed.

“Yeah. That.. that hurt pretty bad.”
“You died, I saw your brain and stuff!”
“Yep, I was unconscious for like four days. It seems you only hit the part of my brain that operates daytime Conor.”
“Then how are you alive!?”
“2 AM Conor is feelin' fine. Well actually I'm pretty tired. But just shut up, Mada. I know you only have negative things to say to me.”

Conor pulls out two katanas, presumably the ones from his house.

Mada finds a katana, Eliot goes to pick up another katana, but Mada stops him.

“No Eliot, this is my battle to fight. I have to finish this.”

After a long sword fight in which the whole time it looks like Mada is going to lose, she stabs Conor in the stomach.

“You know this won't kill me, Mada.”
“I know one way that will do the trick!” Mada retorted. And she bit him in the neck. And then again. And then she invited Eliot over.

Both of them were there for two hours. Full as fuck, eating, crying, sweating, and going through the struggle that is ingesting Conor O'Brien. As they finish crunching the last bits of his dry ass knuckles, they turn to see a group of zombies behind them, standing still, mouths agape.

Eliot turns to Mada, “I guess we were the zombies after all...” Mada rolls her eyes. They hug anyway. CREDITS.

--Eliot Sill

Weather or not

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.

Well this time it's snow, and the US of A is getting hit hard.

Facebook has become a cesspool of complaining and whining about poor weather mixed in with jubilance and happiness over school cancellings. All people are talking about is the weather. A bunch of small talk. All whining one way or the other.

I love shitty weather.

Why? I don't know. I've just learned to embrace it. I live in Illinois, and I have grown up with this crap. I've come to realize this: YOU CAN'T DO SHIT ABOUT THE WEATHER EXCEPT MOVE.

So while you forget every year that snow happens and then turns into miserable sludge that you have to walk home from school through every day for four years even though it's cold and you could only find one glove this morning, I have learned that weather is a beast that will always be there, and it's one that mankind has to brave, run from, or die.

This Monday, the snow started. It came down like ice pellets. I walked from my Physics class through the crap as it started to fall, and it felt like sand to walking. It was just gross, miserable, shitty weather. And I loved it.

In general I've learned to laugh at things that suck, and weather does not escape this thought. It's just hilarious how bad the weather was. It was cold. It was raining. It was snowing. It was on the ground. It made your feet cold. I forgot a scarf. My ears were fucking freezing. There was no reason to be outside in this weather. It was awful. It was like the city of Champaign was vomiting on me, and here I was, walking through it to get to my next class. I had to smile. I had to chuckle.

Call it maniacal, but bad weather makes me giggle.

I guess it's because I see it as a low point. Because, with anything in life, if you don't see the low's, you won't appreciate the high's. Here in the midwest, we see the low points of mother nature plenty. That's why we go to California for vacation. The weather is fantastic, and we love it. Then we come back home. Daniel Tosh, a funny dude, once made fun of a person he made up for the purpose of mocking because they "loved seasons too much" to live in California. Tosh's punchline was this: "I love seasons, too. That's why I live in a place that skips the shitty ones."

That has some validity to it, but I don't think it's very sound (Philosophy!). I live in Illinois. We have tornadoes, we have blizzards, we have flash floods, we have triple digit days, we have humidity that you can swallow. But we also have beautiful days. And on those days, I can't get enough of the world. On those days you just go outside and frolic. You win the day, because there is so much time spent in shitty weather, that you really appreciate the hell out of a nice day.

And so I bask in the horrible, miserable, cold, life-threatening weather we're experiencing right now. Weather like this week's can just piss you off. It can prevent you from cracking a smile because you can't stop thinking of your friend in New Orleans who is complaining because it dipped into the fifties today while you're dealing with God's vomit outside. I urge you to relish it. Weather only gets this bad every once in a while, and regardless of the lack of comfort, if you live this weather, you'll enjoy living the nice days. The ones that say they're coming around in merely a couple of months. And with that they say rain joins in, but I miss rain. I miss real, warm rain. The smell of it, the random uprooting of worms, the grossness you feel once you go back inside. I miss it all.

I'll take whatever weather on any day, as long as I get to see the next one.

--Eliot Sill

PS- It's sunny outside,  I can see the blue sky, and the snow is melting. That's what I call a snow-day.

I needed people to read this.

The following was my first column that I wrote up for the Daily Illini. Not the one that was published, but rather the one that I had to scrap because some d-bag wrote the same damn thing between me writing this and my publishing day. So it's about what Bears fans should do in order to get over the sorrow of getting their ASSES KICKED by the Packers. Unedited, uncut, unpublished. Until now. (LOL)

Coping with defeat: advice from the enemy
You know what's a bad idea? Divulging in the second sentence of your first column for a central Illinois publication that you are a die-hard Packers fan. Nonetheless, I cannot deny my true colors, and my loyalty lies north of Illinois. You may spot me around campus sporting my Packers gear with pride, reveling in my obvious role as the villain as far as football fanhood goes on UI's campus.

Okay, now the part where I try to save face before you punch my mugshot and throw this paper away; I'm here to offer a bit of friendly advice.

I've grown up with Bears fans, and I have a great respect for them. They treat me like a heathen because of my love for green and gold, and honestly, that's exactly how I would hope Packers fans would treat a stray Bears backer located in central Wisconsin. Bears fans may be from the opposite perspective, but they feel the same way about football as Packers fans. This fact is largely behind the “respectful hatred” feeling that the Packers-Bears rivalry has.

Game frustrations aside, the season is over in Chicago now, and Bears fans, I know you've got it bad. The importance of that game goes unspoken, and I myself lost sleep last week just thinking about the potential agony of defeat.

Last season, the Packers had a young upstart nucleus that surprised people. Our fans were excited that Aaron Rodgers was panning out superbly, we were confident going into the post-season and dying to get a third chance at the gray-bearded traitor donning that ugly shade of purple that we hated more (and respected less) than Chicago's navy blue and orange. We had a first round game against the Arizona Cardinals, who we had crushed just a week prior. After a wild finish and a gut-wrenching defeat in overtime by a score of 51-45, I had the wind knocked out of me completely. I spent the next three weeks ignoring the post-season and looking for anything to get my mind off of football. It had me asking myself, like a befuddled king once did, “what should I do?”

So here's the point I'm getting at: Derrick Rose can cure your gridiron blues.

Heartbroken from a third overtime playoff exit in four appearances, I switched gears and abandoned football for the promising pastures of basketball. I was raised during the glorious climax of the Jordan era, and have been a Bulls fan since birth. I threw myself into the Chicago Bulls last year and became an avid regular season basketball fan (I was accustomed to tuning in for late-season drama and post-season only). Gone from my mind is the notion that players are playing half-hearted basketball in January and throughout the regular season in general, at least in Chicago. Derrick Rose is an amazing talent to watch night-in and night-out, and I immediately became aware that ESPN's highlights do not do him justice. Add in the emotion of Joakim Noah and the entertainment value of watching guys like Blake Griffin and former Illini great Deron Williams exhibit their own greatness, and you've got something that's fun to watch, and can help get your mind off of the bitter cold of Sunday's defeat.

Another great thing about basketball is that it's not nearly as stressful on the average fan as football season. In the NFL, every game counts so heavily, whereas in the NBA, you have 82 games to play with. It's okay to lose some as long as you get to see Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony put on a scoring clinic and don't get totally humiliated. Losing an NBA game on a buzzer beater hurts, but you can redeem the loss in no more than three or four days, and admittedly, it's still pretty exciting even if it doesn't go your way.

So Bears fans, I'm not going to pretend like I'm not thrilled that Green Bay is headed to the Super Bowl, and getting there through Chicago made it sweeter for multiple reasons. All I'm saying is, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Change gears, catch some of Derrick Rose's current MVP-caliber season. His sheer athleticism and play-making ability make him one of the most thrilling players to watch in the entire league. I promise his knees work better than Jay Cutler's. The team that GM Gar Forman has assembled this season is exciting and bound to compete at the highest level when they return to full health. Even with the limited number of games played by Noah and Carlos Boozer, the team is 31-14 and in a close race for the number one seed in the conference, which would be a first for the team since Michael Jordan was dominating at the United Center.

This past weekend's game was a huge disappointment for Chicago, but luckily, fans of the city will have somewhere to turn to get over the blues of Cutler's MCL, or B.J. “The Freezer” Raji's touchdown dance, or Sam Shields' two awesome interceptions, or Rodgers' touchdown saving tackle, or Devin Hester getting utterly shut down–should I stop?

Instead of getting all worked up about the game for weeks and weeks and taking it out on Packers fans with brute force (because really, those Crime Alerts make our campus look bad), turn elsewhere for now and get behind the best thing Chicago sports have going for them: the Chicago Bulls.

--Eliot Sill

Zombie Snowpocalypse- Mada

Alright, here's the deal. As I'm sure all of you have noticed, today has begun the snowpocalypse. What a lot of you might not realize is that not all of us are going to come out of this alive. Or dead...

What I'm getting at is that we are almost certainly going to have a zombie outbreak on our hands. Shit like this doesn't happen without a zombie outbreak. Fact. Because this fact is inevitable it has got me thinking about who I know that would survive this type of tragedy. Specifically, who I know in Classic Brian that would survive this type of tragedy.

Let's look at our cast of characters (ordered as they appear in our picture):

Robert, Nick, Me, Eliot, Brendan, Conor, and Classic Brian.

So obviously the zombie snowpocalypse is happening and it's fucked up. My whole family has disappeared, presumably dead, and the midwest is one big ghost town. The only people I can find anywhere are Robert, Eliot, Conor and Brian. We're most likely all trapped at the local YMCA and we're confused and worried. All the power is out and our only technology is the hand crank radio I brought from my house.

We sit there for days and wonder where everyone is, specifically Nick and Brendan since they make up two-sevenths of our gang. Until one day we hear a familiar voice while running the dials and it's Nick. He's broadcasting from a "safe" base a couple towns over. He's there with Brendan, who's been injured. They can't leave. Someone needs to come rescue them. PURPOSE.

Obviously we all realize this is completely up to the five of us and we set off. Conor has somehow fallen into the role of Leader. He makes a plan for us to head out of Springfield, but before we are even out of the city limits there's confusion! and disaster! and zombies! and child zombies! We have to fight CHILD zombies! That sucks! It's our first taste of battle but we make it. Except then we notice – Robert's missing. Lost to the fray. It's real to us now.

Fast forward through some boring traveling scenes. Suddenly, we're knee deep in action. We encountered a couple zombies, but always alone and easy to take down. A pack (herd? gaggle?) of 5 or 6 comes sprinting at us. Using our minimal fighting power and luck we manage to fight them all off and find a safe clearing in the woods. Relieved and beaten up and tired we're all bent over with exhaustion. Conor stands up and declares we can't stay here. We start to stand up, but we freeze. All of our eyes fall on Conor's shoulder. He's been bitten. He looks down, then back at us. We all know what this means. Conor must die. Slowly, every head turns towards me, and I realize- I must kill Conor. Conor will die by MY hand. I walk around him and begin to talk to him about video games and frisbee. I tell him to remember the first day he mastered the back hand throw. Then I shoot him in the back of the head.

Fast forward more traveling scenes where we're all soooo sad about Conor. We've reached a little town, and naturally we go poking around some zombie hangout and we're surrounded. Certain death. When suddenly, a figure bursts in and takes them all out in one of the better ass-kicking scenes of the zombie snowpocalypse. It's Robert. Holy shit. He tells us to follow him. QUICKLY. Back at his fortress, we see he sports face paint, torn clothes, and a rock-and-roll attitude. He's wild. We ask him how he's survived and he says "This ain't no war. This a goddam' plague. I seen things I cain't un-see and I done things I cain't un-do. Yo friends ain't alive, and even if they is, whatchoo you savin' them fo'?" Alright, he's creepy now, plus it's only been like, eight days since we lost him, but it looks like he's the one who's figured out how to survive.

We tell Robert about the radio and he immediately agrees to go with us. Fast forward more traveling scenes (seriously, this movie could be so much shorter) and we're camping in the woods. I turn on my radio and we hear Nick's voice. We're getting closer and Nick is talking about a helicopter. If we can just make it to the base we can get Get Nick and Brendan out of there and get picked up. The nightmare will be over. Suddenly, screaming from the other side of the connection. We hear shouts and growls and silence. Nick is dead.

In the morning I begin to say something about giving up or going back to Robert's safe house. Eliot stops me, "I know he's alive" he says. "I just know Brendan's alive and we've got to save him". Brian (our designated "nice guy") nods solemnly. Eliot brushes my hair off my face. Whaaaat?

We make it to the base. But it's clear that it is no longer "safe." It's scary and grey and dilapidated. The movie is reaching that point where it's almost in black and white. There is a tower at the top of the building, and hanging from the window, a white sheet. Brendan. But, upon getting up there, the hundreds of zombies trapping him inside have discovered us. We run through the long corridors of this building, a full zombie mob behind us. Every door is locked and there's nowhere to hide. The drone of the zombies is getting louder. Robert stops. We all stop. "We're not going to make it! Not all of us. I can buy you guys some time, but not much." We try to fight him but the zombies are getting closer. "Go!" he yells. "Go! GO!". We begin running again but after a few steps Brian stops. He puts his hand on Eliot's shoulder and looks back at Robert. They nod at each other. Brian looks back to Eliot as if to say "I can't let him do this alone." (What an idiotttttt) He runs back and grabs a gun. He and Robert turn to face the oncoming horde. Robert smiles.

Eliot and I find Brendan in his tower barricade. (It's clear now that Eliot and I had the least character development because we were the ones that would make it this far. This also means that we are required to end up together. Inevitable.) He is badly injured, probably in the leg region, but we manage to get him to the roof just as the helicopter arrives. Somewhat triumphant and eerie music plays as the it touches down and we lay Brendan inside. Eliot and I climb in after him and sit together in the back. We look into each other's eyes and then out separate windows. CREDITS.

So there it is. My almost guaranteed accurate prediction. Sorry everybody except Eliot and Brendan. =(

Oh, also it was cold the whole time. Snowpocalypse.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nick - Observations On Obscenity

There were a hundred more relevant titles for this post, but I chose the one that had assonance.

My family has really weird priorities. My opinions were always more-or-less respected by my parents, they were pretty lax and gave me a lot of freedom, but god help me if I ever spoke any vaguely offensive words around them.

Not that I ever did; that's my brother's job. But in all seriousness, I never wanted to use curse words, or any words or phrases that might offend anybody. Growing up at Blessed Sacrament, a strict Catholic school, cursing when the teachers weren't around was the only act of rebellion most of my fellow students had. And I always wondered if they knew how stupid they sounded.

As I grew up, I was more understanding that obscene words are often necessary. But still, it's not at all uncommon for people to abuse them. And when a taboo word is used often enough, it loses some of its power.

Something I've learned during my time with The Titanic Players is that some characters need to use obscenities; however, if you rely on curse words all the time, they'll lose their edge. And then when you pull out a well-thought-out and obscene character, it won't be as funny. A politician who debates a very kind and noble opponent while making a  speech about "that shitty health bill" or "those damned libs" could be really funny, but only if you haven't been throwing shit and damn around the rest of the show.

Anyway, back to talking about me. I took it upon myself to not get into the habit of throwing around curses all the time. (or ever, when possible.) And I feel like this really long and probably not-worth-it experiment has taught me a lot about the power of language.

When you throw around obscenities too much, they lose their power. When you don't use them at all, you miss out on some great jokes or ways that things could have been worded. Language is a careful balancing act; finding the right balance where you can use that power without abusing it.

That balancing act, and the power of language, is really the take-home point I wanted to send to everybody. But I've got one more thing to say on the subject before I sign my name. This is something I've been waiting to say for a long time.

If you've ever mocked me for my reluctance to use obscenities, or quietly sneered at my always family-friendly improv:

FUCK you.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Robert - Compare and Contrast

I just read Alphas, a novel by Lisi Harrison. The writer of the infamous Clique book series, Harrison focuses her new novel Alphas around three young teenage girls accepted into an elite academy of young females founded by an eccentric, feminism-obsessed, billionaire named Shira Brazille. Harrison's previous work, besides writing several classic tween novels, included developing TV shows for MTV, such as "Lip Service." Her surprisingly delicate style of weaving brilliant storylines is evidenced by some of the legendary quotes from Alphas:
  • "She had a butt-chin bigger than Demi Lovato's."
  • "If at first you don't succeed, you're not an Alpha."  
For example, Allie A. Abbot receives an academy invitation intended for songwriter Allie J. Abbot. In a dramatic decision, Allie A decides to impersonate Allie J in order to experience something fresh in life. But there's more to the story. Allie was recently dumped by her super-hot ex, Fletcher, for her ugly best friend, Trina. Emotionally, she is tattered and frail, a trait that allows for some serious dramatic shifts to occur later on in the plot. And this is but one of the interweaving storylines. There's Skye, the dancer with a tooth-and-nail determination to oust her fellow housemates. Charlie, the daughter of Shira Brazille's first assistant, disdained by Shira and forced to be her personal connoisseur of espionage, as well as the ex-girlfriend-still-in-love of Allie's new love interest. An actress-dancer-singer-or-something with cold-hearted precision, aptly named Triple Threat. And more.

After navigating the many perilous plot twists that fill the pages to the brim, the story leads up to a heart-pounding climax that leaves the entire story open-ended and sets up what could be a thrilling sequel. A few characters come off as mildly trite, but as a whole, Harrison's epic will surely go down as a staple in the little waste-high metal rolling carts in the library for children's novels.

Then today I read the first chapter of Of Mice and Men. I recommend this exercise in contrast to anyone.