kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
So, my dear friends, Wall*e has been reviewed to death in the few weeks since its introduction. In my flist alone the wickedly sharp minds of [livejournal.com profile] laguera25,[livejournal.com profile] thelauderdale, and [livejournal.com profile] cats_n_crying have all attacked it, but I have only just now seen it and wish to lay out my own thoughts. I also wish to avoid having to think up some fictional thought to write about tonight, so this it shall be.

I found the Earth-based portion of the movie at the beginning incredibly sad and rather lonely- the little robot that could is stuck on a world, essentially alone except for a roach and the corpses of his deceased comrades. The filmmakers tactfully deal with the reality that the Wall*E unit in question essentially cannibalizes his brothers by simply cutting away the actual theft of the treads from off the body of another, and showing his collection of eye/camera units as an integrated part of his collections. Since it’s a kid’s movie, the accidental squishing of the cockroach turns out to be nonfatal, but we do need to understand that Wall*e is truly the last living thing on the planet at the beginning of the film.

The choice and use of the musical Hello Dolly was inspired and lovely. I had thought from the previews that the film would be entirely without dialogue, and I honestly think that they could have pulled that off and simply used the music to convey the budding romance between Wall*e and Eve. It was simple, it was effective, it was lovely. Bravo.

The character designs are rather derivative but not clearly stolen from anything else. Wall*E units, when fully deployed, look a heck of a lot like Johnny Five from the Short Circuit film franchise (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6VVELKyhOg&feature=related) and feature some of the same very simple emotive tools: eyes and hands. Also, his temporary “death” at the end of the film when part of his motherboard has to be replaced from his stores suggests a similar personal history: Johnny Five gains his personality and sentience when struck by lightning, and disassembly is likened to death- he is more than the sum of his parts. Wall*E seems to be as well, but apparently enough of it was transferable that it was able to re-establish itself afterwards.

Eve is clearly an iProduct, all seamless white plastic and high tech jimcrackery. She is also about five times as photogenic. She takes the lead in all their Bonnie and Clyde pictures and looks far more frightening than Wall*E. It’s a bit strange to me that something brand fresh new out of the factory, and intended only to be a probe without any human interaction, was able to develop a personality so quickly, or was given an interface that was so human as to show amusement and interest in things with her “eyes.” But it's a useful conceit for the film, and cute as a button, so I will allow it to pass unscathed.

The Auto-Pilot was a huge blinking red nod to the HAL unit from Space Odyssey 2001, as was the music that played at the Captain slowly and ponderously launched himself from his chair and took his first baby steps towards reclaiming his authority. ([livejournal.com profile] laguera25 made an interesting quip at the end of her reviewon the subject of the normality of the passengers’ willful and permanent immobility, and since her review is worth forcing you to read in its entirety, I will simply link.)
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
day 17
“What do you mean I cannot pass?”
“You cannot pass. There is just no getting around it, your grades are completely in the toilet. There is not a thing on earth you can do to save your grade at this late stage in the game. You quite simply cannot pass this class.”
“But that’s impossible. I got a B+ on the last in class quiz!”
“Those don’t count for anything towards your final grade. The only grades that count towards the final are the homework grades.”
“That is the exact opposite of what you said on the first day of class.”
“If you recall, this year the first day of this class fell on Opposite Day.”
“What? That was Opposite Day? Since when can you observe religious holidays in school?”
“This is not a public high school, this is a private university, and the dean of academic relations recognizes my right to practice my religion in the manner of my choosing as an Orthodox Literalist.”
“Well, yes, of course. I just mean, don’t you still have to declare that sort of thing beforehand?”
“I declared it oppositely by not declaring it.”*
“That’s insane.”
“Well! I have to say that I find your attitude towards my faith to be very offensive.”
“What? Look, I have nothing against your religion, but you can’t fail me just because I didn’t understand the practices of a religion that I don’t belong to! That infringes on my religious freedom.”
“And to just what religion do you belong?
“That’s just my point- it shouldn’t matter! I went into class expecting that I would be able to learn, and because I’m not a follower of Literalism, I didn’t know that I should feed everything you said through a reverse polarity filter. The facts of the issue were only clear to the Literalist members of the class!”
“If you’ll recall, the syllabus did say that students should check the dates on syllabus very carefully, because some of the class times had to be moved for religious holidays. You could have just checked the calendar.”
“My calendar does not have the Literalist religious holidays marked on it- it has the cycles of the moon! and the high tides! But you notice that I don’t tell people that I’m a sailor and then expect them to know that I will not be in classes on days where outgoing tide coincides with their lectures- I would still have to tell them for them to know!”
“Look, I am sorry for the miscommunication, I tried to be as clear on the subject as I could be within the confines of my religion, but I cannot change the fact that your grade is too low for you to pull it up. Even if you aced every homework, quiz and the final, your final grade would still only be in the forties. There is nothing I can do.”
“Fine. Fine! Then what am I supposed to do about this?”
“I would strongly suggest that you drop the class, and talk to any other professors who had their first day of class on that date and see if any of them were issuing instructions in compliance with Opposite Day restrictions.”

*As stolen from Bill Waterson's Calvin and Hobbes Rules for Calvinball, as collected from historical documents (AKA comic strips) here: http://www.simplych.com/cb_rules.htm. See Rule 1.5

Day 15

Jul. 8th, 2008 11:13 pm
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 15 Abbreviated

She did grab my hand, eventually. She started rubbing much more slowly, and much more gently than on the other hand. It was appreciated, actually.
“This okay?”
“Yeah, it’s fine.” It was more than fine, actually. It was rather lovely. I’ve stopped shaking hands with my right hand for practical reasons since my accident. At first my hand was swathed in bandages, and any attempts were just too painful. After the bandages came off, I switched back to right hand shaking, but there were some… incidents.

Whether someone actually recoiled, or didn’t notice until they were already holding my hand and felt something was missing, it made for an awkward first impression. I am fairly certain it cost me at least one job interview when an incredibly inelegant young woman grabbed my hand, noticed the missing fingers, and knocked coffee over her laptop with her elbow on the withdrawal. A lefthanded shake was unusual, but it gave the other person a hint that there was something wrong. They tended to pick up on it a bit more quickly on their own after that.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 13
“Low gravity,” Letitiana proclaimed, “has changed only two things in fashion: fake tits and beehive hairdo's.”

The table laughed uproariously as the tipsy fashionistas toasted themselves once more. They were well into the fourth bottle of champagne by now, and the Earth-born members were beginning to forget their strength in the lunar gravity. Letty grinned at them before she continued. The audience, captivated, sleek and well-fed, was lapping from the palm of her hand, and she was determined to bask in the pack’s approval as long as she could.

“No, truly! Remember the fad in Fall 2098 for the self-supporting gyro-tits? The ones built from recycled Segway parts?” Most of the table grinned, with only perhaps two or three lapsing into outright hysterical giggles as they recalled the extremes to which the trend was taken on the New York runway. At least one pair of breasts had malfunctioned and smacked a model in the face before making their antigravity getaway like a pair of lost balloons.

“One had to make an investment of at least half a million €¥RO just to make sure that the models didn’t all rush to get them done at one of those back alley wire-runner stations and end up with a set of laser cannons instead. So much cheaper this way- let nature do her work and then just bring the girls up sky-side and bid Nature a fond farewell!” Letty gestured with her still-full shot glass for emphasis. She was flushed from the heat and noise but not from drink, so even across the room she immediately spotted a curious piece of couture.

One of the models from a competitors show, a wirey thing with a conservatively colored Mohawk plaited sedately down to the waist, looked delicious in a suit jacket and kilt ensemble that she (or he, Letty was honestly not sure) had clearly snitched from Letitiana’s personal collection. Since Letty hired all her models personally, this was clearly a message or a very clumsy theft. Letitiana pantomimed a trip that let her dive graceful in low grav to sink into her neighbor’s lap.

“George” she hissed, “whose show was That One in?”
“Letty, you are melting the ice crystals in my waistcoat!”
“George, those are plastic shards that you hot-glued to your jacket because you didn’t have the money to get your personal coolant system replaced this month- you blew it all on vintage muslin, I was there when you got the bill. Now, you silly synthoid, tell me who that is!”
George grimaced and then swiveled his free-floating eye array towards the model.
“Huh. S/he was in Dolce & Gabbana & Clones Retrospective Show- the Androgen Collection. Isn’t that jacket one of your? S/he carries it off much better than that ginger tart you assigned.”

Letty squirmed out George’s lap and slunk behind his chair, to the amusement of those at the table who were still sober enough to notice she was no longer toasting. She emerged from behind the chairs coif first, but still managed to take the model by surprise as s/he walked by. She sprung out and spread her arms for a giant hug before air kissing both cheeks at dizzying speed. Suitably bamboozled, the model stopped and then blushed like mad. There was no escape, and s/he knew s/he was caught.

“Now, then, darling,” she linked armed with him/her as s/he tried to walk around her. “ You must tell me where you got this fabulous coat!” Letty smiled, slowly revealing a set of chrome dentures, spiked like a shark’s happy dream. “Or I just might have to beat it out of you.” She cooed.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 12

“Shush- Vader!” The Imperial March played from the speakers, and Dave held his peace. There are certain moments in a relationship one learns that one must not rush: just-back-from-long-trip hugs, foreplay, and, for geeky partnerships, the last half hour of Star Wars Episode V: the Empire Strikes Back.

At the sound of rushing carbonite, Dave was foraging for a beer- Kate glared at him when he came back. One of his few duties as a boyfriend was to be always physically present at the exchange between Leia and Han Solo (“I love you.” “I know.”) before Han got dunked in carbonite. That and spider relocation were one of the few non-negotiables of dating Kate.

“You missed it!” Kate poked him.

“Sorry- I thought there would be a commercial break there.” He hadn’t really, but he was rather thirsty. He passed her his beer in silent apology, and she sipped while Boba Fett made off with his captive.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived: the final fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. The commentary that accompanied this was one of the first reasons that he’d noticed Kate from among her group of friends. While they waited this part of the movie out, she was making active commentary about the bloopers and fighting tactics.

“Listen to this, this is the really cool part.” Dave listened obligingly to the silence while Kate held up her index finger like a conductor poised for the next note. “Aaaand, now!” Suddenly Vader appears swinging and takes the hero by surprise. Kate grabbed his beer again before she went on.

“You notice what they did there? How Vader cut out his respirator to sneak up on Luke? He never does that at any other time in the movies- he never has to, in any of the fights or even when he’s talking to other people. He’s so into getting Luke, that he literally wills himself into not breathing so that he can pounce on him.”

“Truly, the man is all that is badass.”

“Shush- Vader!” Dave leaned back as Vader leaned out over the dangling Luke and explained how they could end this conflict and bring order to the galaxy. Kate continued her running commentary.

“Honestly, that’s about the worst job pitch that I have ever heard. I would not take a job that’s best perk was bringing order to the galaxy aaaand now it’s the family business,” Kate drew the words out as Vader revealed Luke’s parentage. “Gee, that makes it sound so appealing.”

“Still, this scene kind of makes Luke for me,” Dave added. “He’s so whiney in training with Yoda, but in an actual fight you throw all this daddy poo at him and he still devises a sneaky way out using the airlocks.”

“I think those things are a garbage chute. But that would be kind of a repeat from the last movie, no?”

“In any case, I am not particularly impressed by the waste treatment options in the future. Particularly how inconsistent they are. First movie, trash gets compacted in a room with an alien tentacle monster. Second movie, the fleet jettisons trash in space before lightspeed, or they have these big chutes in the floating cities that just poop it all out on the planet. Not environmentally sound, these options are.”

“Like Yoda you speak,” Kate replied, and kissed him while she stole his beer again. Dave pretended not to notice and stole it right back.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 11
“You knew?”
“Yes, of course I knew. Your mother was already pregnant when I met her- I mean obviously pregnant. We dated a little, but after you were born things just fit into place. Your mom was… she was just wonderful, you know that…” My dad starts to tear up again, and even knowing that he’s not really my father doesn’t change the fact that I’m still watching my dad cry- it’s like watching the moon fall into the sea. The world is broken.

When my dad starts crying, you know someone is dead: he only cries at funerals. And I cannot express accurately how angry I am at him for lying all these years when he tears up like that. It gets mixed up with how much I love him, and how much it hurt watching my mother die, and how utterly unjust it is that he’s not related to me by blood. It’s all still there, but all I can do is hand him a handkerchief and stare at my knees until he’s composed again.

He catches his breath. “It was perfect. I walked right into the family I had wanted, and it was just after I found out I couldn’t have kids- you both needed me so much. It was like God planned it out exactly just for us to fit into each others’ lives.” I nod. He’s a great dad- he just puts everything into it. I can’t imagine the waste it would have been for him never to have children of his own.

“I did not know she’d put it in her will. I didn’t know that. We’d talked about telling you, but she’d asked your biological father to stay away- she still loved him even after she had you and she met me. She still loved him.” He clutches the hankie and for just a second he grimaced like he was in pain before going on. “He did ask to see you- he wasn’t a bad guy, kiddo, but she just couldn’t stand the idea of you and him meeting.” Like I wasn’t really your father, he does not say, but my dad can’t lie worth a damn and he can’t hide either.

It’s not fair, but it’s how my mother would have thought of it. I’d grown up used to obvious adoptions and Asian schoolmates with white parents, but she was always shocked to see that anyone would do something like that. She thought adoptive parents were good people for taking in a child in need, but she never seemed to accept that they were family in the same way as blood parents. That she was just so much of a hypocrite, to tell me that my dad was really my biological father when it was a lie, never crossed my mind.

My dad was crying again. My mother was dead, and my dad was crying but he wasn’t my real father, and there was some stranger in California whose name and face I knew from billboards and he was my real father. It was like someone was granting every hateful wish I’d made at seven years old, fourteen years too late.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 10
Yield unto the Hive Mind, and all your pain shall cease. Allow us to awaken you to the manifold blessings of Unified Existence…

“No, thank you. I’m not really interested in merging with a Hive Mind.” Jenny interrupted early on, which was the only way to deal with members of the High Church of the Unified Mind- all that personal satisfaction with being part of a single mental entity had a way of making itself very forceful when they showed up your doorstep. Polite but firm was the only way to go.

Defensiveness only shows that you have much to fear in your singular existence. It will only take a moment of your time to explain- “No. Thank you, but I have no interest in becoming a member of Hive Mind, and your time would be better spent elsewhere. Have a nice day.” With that, Jenny smiled and slowly, but clearly, moved to shut the door.

One of the Hive Mind’s physical bodies, an incongruously sweet-looking Indian gentleman of perhaps 60, literally stuck his foot in Jenny’s door. Wait, please! Could we at least leave you some pamphlets?

“No, again, I am not interested. Goodbye.” Jenny glared at the particular body until he grudgingly removed his foot from her door, and then shut it swiftly before he could try again. She stayed by the door to listen to the other personalities argue on the way down the path- the newly converted had a way of being too earnestly, and he’d crossed a line.

Jenny mentally congratulated herself for not yielding to her good manners and inviting them in- that one seemed like he would have taken the invitation to lemonade for a concession to his arguments. She wished she could have told them the plain facts, but there were still some social stigma attached to her beliefs. Even the Hive Mind looked down on Jehovah’s Witnesses.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
“Boxes, boxes, boxes, rawhide!” he hummed to himself as he shifted through the piled cardboard mountain. Somewhere, perhaps under the next stack, was his prize: a battered copy of Wheelock’s Latin Grammar and a slightly more battered copy of Auricula Meretricula- Earlobe, the Little Prostitute. There is only so much Latin one can take over a summer, and wisely knowing this, he had stowed both these worthy tombs away lest he destroy his own zest for the subject. (Or, according to his mother, he was too lazy to pick up a book that wasn’t assigned, and he hid them so that no one could blame him. There were elements of truth to both of them- Reading Wheelocks’s description of the present active imperative would make anyone feel commanded to throw the book across the room and leave it there for the vultures.)

He shifted another box and slowly eased it open. Despite his efforts, an earwig ran out across his fingers. While maintaining the greatest dignity, he stood, hopped back three or four steps and shook himself bodily like an Old English Sheepdog leaving a lake. He really did need a haircut.

Aside from the odd bit of local color, the boxes had turned up fruitless, though presenting an oddly compelling history of his own higher education. The early physics books that remained in an almost pristine condition because he had never been assed to do the readings quickly gave way to the subjects of literature and philosophy. He stopped to peruse the odd paper, and found himself chuckling over a von Trapp family reference: How Do You Solve a Problem like Mary Stuart?: an examination of guilt in Schiller’s drama. There were still professors out there who, secretly, unbeknownst to all but their most treasured teacher’s pets, graded entirely on how amusing the title of the paper was. For this reason alone he had chosen to give up on physics, where the paper title was often just a version of the first line with all the verbs taken out- making the process of understanding the vast and enthralling weirdness of the universe dull.


There was something to be said for literature classes: They made the examination of a finite part of the world, something that didn’t even really exist except on the page and in the mind, into an entire universe of poking, prodding, and academic argumentation that spanned centuries, languages and continents. It was pointless and ultimately useless in the grander scheme of things, but it was so much fun.

Except, of course, for the moments like these, when the accumulated pack-rattery of the devoted English student prevents him from even finding what he’s looking for. Perhaps Someone was saying he should stick to one language…?
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
I feel like this is very rough, but I am sleepy, so I will let it go for now.

Day 8
I will fly. There is nothing to stop me. I will fly.
“James, get down from the roof! Please, listen to me. I know you think that things are bad, but they’ll get better. You don’t have to do this!” A voice from underneath him was screaming and seemed close to tears. James felt a brief pang of sympathy in the faint way he had for all crawling things, but paid it no more attention than the birdsong or the rising alarms.
I will fly. There is nothing to stop me. I will fly.
He leaned closer to the edge of the roof. It was a lovely day, and the winds were right for take-off. He knew this instinctively, the same way he knew that, in leaping off the side of this building, he would not fall. It wasn’t even a question of faith. Some things go deeper.
I will fly. There is nothing to stop me. I will fly.
He took off his shoes, and set them carefully by the edge. He stepped over the low barrier with the slight caution that bare feet bring in the modern world, and then settled himself. The wailing beneath him took on a fevered pitch. He would try to explain to them later about this, but there was only so much that he could do for the moment. He had places to be.
I will fly. There is nothing to stop me. I will fly.
He stepped off the ledge and flew.

***
“What do you mean, he flew?” The detective was starting to get annoyed. There is only so much insanity that a single person can take in one day, and most of it seemed to concentrate into the collection of morbid gawkers that the detective would then have to question and file reports on.

“He stepped off the roof, and he didn’t fall. He flew.” The woman on the other side of the desk was taller than the detective, something the detective noted with dissatisfaction. Still the detective could loom over the suspect with ease while seated, and she did so now while glaring to make sure that the interrogee was perfectly away of what would happen if she continued this chicanery.
“I swear to god, he just walked off the roof and didn’t fall. He didn’t seem to even start flying- he just looked like he was standing in the clouds getting farther and farther off. He was gone.”
“Uh huh. And how do you know this James?”
“He was a friend of mine, sort of. He is incredibly unpushy: I didn’t notice him in this larger section of the office, and I just thought that maybe he was depressed or something, but when we went on a date, he looked incredibly uncomfortable. He said that he was already promised to some one, and that I should leave him alone. Then, next thing I know, he’s come back from stupid meeting with a con and then he started to pack for a trip to god knows where, and then he jumps off the roof the next day.”
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 7
“There’s something on the wing of the plane!” shouted the tv. Sharon looked over at it wistfully, but turned back grudgingly to her computer. Classic Twilight Zone would have to wait for after the finals for her.

Not so for her roomie, of course. With a double major in English (focus: Creative Writing) and Cinema, Rachel’s apparent goofing off was actually the sign of a focused mind at work. Her final was to take apart and analyze a short cinematic piece of less then an hour- part of the grade depended on the professor accepting that the piece was in fact worth the effort. But science fiction was not Professor Rothburg’s thing, and though Rachel had been able to suppress her urge to go over the great points of science fiction history with her, she wasn’t going to give up her last chance of bringing Rod Sterling into her academic career. It was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

“Okay, the action of camera is fairly static, but this functions to reinforce the viewer’s feelings of claustrophobia on the plane, at the mercy of whatever is attacking….” Rachel also muttered and couldn’t stand to wear headphones. Her relationship with Sharon was sometimes strained for just these reasons, but a shared love of geekery in all its myriad forms smoothed many a ruffled feather.

“Shar, do you think I can get away with saying that planes are inherently frightening?” Rachel’s willingness to discuss any and all minutia of her current thoughts also tended to have a bonding effect- there are only so many conversations one can have about the comparative visibility from within Godzilla suits versus Mothra suits without either goading one into a murder/suicide or an abiding friendship. As both women yet lived, love prevailed at the cost of sanity.

“If not in real life, (which I certainly think they are), at least in the realm of the movie, I think. Don’t the people who think he’s crazy think that he snapped from the strain of flying on the plane?”

“Ooh, point.” Rachel scribbled, and then unpaused the DVD to return to her scrutiny.

Sharon turned back to her computer again, and just tried to focus on Billy Collins. Ironically, her desk was covered in repeated prints of the same document, all wreathed in red pencil around the center text. “Marginalia, my ass. I’ve written a whole damned new book about this guy.”

“I thought you were going to write about Shakespeare being gay.” Rachel asked.

“Tried. The professor said too many people are picking that topic this year- something about a Doctor Who episode. I had to switch to a modern author. I thought this guy would at least be easy- I mean, poet laureate, he’s got to have something going for him.”

“Pah. You lost your heart to iambic pentameter- you don’t even see anything that doesn’t have a metrical system. Why bother?”
“I asked the professor, and he said I had to change it. It’s just the one paper.”

“It’s just your brain! If you don’t want to have to write about something, you don’t have to. See what I’m writing about?” Rachel gestured broadly at the tv. “I spent the whole semester writing about what the professor liked. This is my last chance to do what I want, so I’m going for it. Don’t just write about a modern poet just because of the grade. You had that gay idea first, and if you hadn’t gotten sick, you’d have already have registered it before all the That Girls got into it. It’s your damned brain- you want to think about Shakespeare? Do it!”

Sharon sighed and then smiled. Rachel was kind of wonderfully impractical at times. “Intellectual purity will not save my scholarship if the professor sacks me, kiddo. You take the high road, and I’ll take the low road, and I’ll get to grad school afore ye, for me and Bill’s gay love will often meet again on the muddy muddy banks of English Lit.”

Rachel gaped in awe at Sharon for a moment.

“… How long had you been storing that up?”

“Honestly? I’ve been doing variations on that sucker since high school.”

“Sharon. I says this with love: you are such a fucking geek.”

“Thanks, dearie. You too.”
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 6
“We should never have left the ocean at all.”
“Shut up, Mike.”
“Really! The whole process was just embarrassing. I don’t know what to do with myself without gills and these nose things are such a poor decision- they stick right out into your field of vision.”
“Mike. Really. Shut up.”
“Why? We’ve made a bad choice. Let’s just face it. This whole surface idea was a whim on my part and it was just not a good fit for us. We can go back and asked to have it reversed.”
“I like the surface world.”
“Sue, there’s nothing up here but us and some other weird religious fanatics! No society to speak of!”
“Also, no bigger predators to eat us, no competition for food and good places to live in coral reef, no need to throw the weaker relatives out to the sharks when they come by looking for their ‘protection fees.’”
“But we know how to deal with the sharks and the predators. We had family back in the deep- now we’re some sort of new species- my mother wouldn’t even recognize me!”
“Your mother was a salmon, Mike. She wouldn’t recognize any of her hatched eggs, because she died laying you all! “
“As it should be! Don’t tell me your looking forward to this insane idea of mammerailian reproduction- popping live, squirming hatchlings out of your body.”
“Mammalian, Mike. They say it worked out fine in all the test subjects and their spawn.”
“Yeah, the ones who did live through it!”
“You just said that fish should die in spawning. Mike, if you don’t want to be here, you don’t have to be here. You can have the process reversed and go back to fins again. You don’t believe in the Doctrine of Evolution. You shouldn’t have to go through with it if you not a believer.”
“Religion, again! Look, Sue you know I didn’t mean it like that. I’m… glad that you get so much comfort from the idea of a Drier Being. I just…”
“You just think I’m crazy to take it this far? That it’s all a pleasant delusion until I actually start to carry it out? Mike, I believe that fishkind was meant to transcend our wetter nature. We are supposed to ascend to the Drier Realms of Being, and the only way to do that is to give up our gills and breathe.”
“Sue, I didn’t mean anything bad by it.”
“But you’re not happy here on land. This is a dream come true for me, and you’re not happy.”
“No. No, I’m not. But. I love you. So, if this is what you need, I’ll get used to it. I’ll just have to put my best fin forward.”
“Foot, Mike, you have feet now.”
“Yeah, but ‘best foot’ just sounds silly.”
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 5
The wall’s color, if I remembered correctly, was actually a certain shade of pleasant and cheery blue. It was the kind of color that parents paint the room of their first born sons. But I wasn’t anyone’s son that I knew of, and the color of the wall was invisible under a double layer of sticky notes. The room was turned a dull yellow everywhere but the very tallest margins of the room.

I’ve tried before to explain the careful system of knowledge posted on that wall, the experiment I’d made it to track every thought I had while I was in the room, write it down, and connect them all together. There had to be a connection. I was sure of it. Or maybe I just needed there to be one badly enough that I was imagining.

I scribbled that doubtful thought down on a sticky, and put it up the area for April 27th, 2008. Carefully, I tracked backwards through the older notes for a common thread. The common themes, the things to which my mind always returns, are linked chronologically by lengths of string attached to push pins thrust through the heart of the sticky notes in question. I can look back over time and see how much I’ve thought about masturbation, nihilism, the uncertainty of language, and certain film stars.

I found the thread. This particular link was a common one- the tiny lengths of string spanned often mere days, or sometimes not ever that long. The first note was dated to the very day that I started this project. Other patterns can often go months without repeating, and it becomes very difficult to track them back to their origins. Some are so far unrepeated- these are very rare indeed, and mostly painful, though generally not so painful as the thoughts that reoccur often.

I have discovered through the course of this experiment that I am a creature of repetition. Cycles come and go, but there is nothing new under the sun in this room.

I have been in the room three years so far. The first three months were the worst. After that, I gave up on trying to catalogue the physical imperfections of the walls and my own body and gave myself up solely to mental observation. My own psyche has proven fertile ground, but like most farms it is suited to certain types of crops only. Others will not grow, not matter how lovingly tended. As an experiment I once tried to convince myself I possessed the ability to fly. It failed; my madness, if that is what it may be called, lies in another direction.

I will open the doors next week. It will have been three years to the day. I have received news from the outside: I am not a prisoner, and if I chose to walk out today I could. People I once knew have moved away, married, or died. They are as fluid as my own thoughts before I write them down, fix them fast upon the walls of my fortress and my prison cell in safe, predictable words on tiny slips of paper. People are unmeasured and unchartable: solitude is security. I write that down, stick it to the wall, and then trace the pattern back to the very first day and the very first note I fixed to these walls, when I decided not to come out.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 4.
There were reasons why people had started calling Eva “Boss,” all of which came before her taking over as the musical director of the Nosferatu. All of them were now on display as she addressed the assembled gaggle of singers.

“Ladies, first I want to thank y’all so much for all the work you’ve done that’s gotten us here tonight.” Eva was tall, even for a Chinese women, and as a trained singer her voice carried without strain. As usual, her pre-show nerves had dissolved once the task lay before her. Veteran captains under fire on the high seas had something of the same psychotic poise about them. “I am incredibly proud of this group and what we’ve done this year, and y’all have been a pleasure to work with. This is out last performance for this semester and for some of us, including myself, Bruiser, Killer and Sax, this is our last performance with the Nosferatu ever. Let’s make this worth it. We are ready for this. I want you to go out there and sing the house down, because you are that good, and because this, of all audiences, is going to appreciate what you can do. You ladies rock like nobody’s fucking business when you put your minds to it, so I want to see everyone telling all the competition to fuck off and get in line, because this. Is. Our. Year. Now let’s go!”
***
“That was amazing- really great performance.” Jamilla did not notice when the guy in the tux had snuck up next to her until he started to talk to her. He didn’t bother to introduce himself, and combined with his nigglingly familiar good looks, this seemed to suggest that she should already know him from somewhere. Thanking him seemed safe enough.
“They called you Bill Shakespeare?”

“Jill Shakespeare. I do some theater on the side and I’m always the MC at shows. It’s kind of a thing.”

“Ah, that would explain it. Do all the nicknames have a point? I mean, I can understand one or two people, but you all seem to have one. Some kind of initiation thing?”

“It’s kind of a thing in general at the college… Some of us joined already using one, and other people just kind of picked them up after they joined. Einstein gave out a lot of them. But not everyone has a nickname. Er.” Jamilla caught herself. “Well, last year Jessie didn’t have one.”

“Do they all have a story?”

“Eh, more or less. Evageline is Boss because she’s just… a boss. She’s always got a plan, ya know? She used to clash with the last president a lot because of it, but once she got voted President herself she’s been really good and fair about it. Lesse… Well, Genevive is Legs for obvious reasons. The three Sarah’s got their nicknames first, cause we just needed to tell them apart. Einstein (that’s the Latina Sara-with-no-H) got hers cause she’s majoring in physics and she’s just kind of brilliant. Sarah M, the shorter black girl over… there! we called ‘the Lady’-"

“Lemme guess,” he broke in, “Lady Sings the Blues?”

“Nah, she ran the Renaissance Fair at the college in the fall three years running. Everyone in that group called her Lady Sarah, so we just sort of picked it up.

“Now, the last Sarah, the tall black girl, didn’t actually have a real nickname until she started dating Bruiser. Er, that’s Gina. She was kind of screwed up when she got into college- her mom had just died that summer and she’s from California so she couldn’t go home… she ended up getting into a lot of fights. She had a black eye when she auditioned for the group. So we called her Bruiser, and when Sarah S started to date her, she needed some kind of badass nickname. So, Killer. Aw, look, she’s getting Bruiser a Shirley Temple. They’re so cute. Killer really helped straighten Bruiser out. Er. So to speak.”

“They just got married?”

“Yup. They’ve been engaged a while, actually. They couldn’t get married in Massachusetts cause Bruiser isn’t a resident, so they got married here. We were all at the wedding. Ruski was the maid of honor.”

“Wait, which one is the Russian?”

“Oh, um… There! She’s over at the bar too- see the girl with the short little dreads? That’s her. She’s a Russian area studies major, not actually Russian. Her real name’s Margaritte.”

“And who’s the girl next to her?”

“That’s Rocky. I have no idea why she’s called that. Her real name’s Kevina, she really hates it, so she just always introduced herself as Rocky. I wouldn’t even know her real name if it wasn’t part of her school email address.”

“Ok, I think that just leaves ‘Spider-man’ and ‘the Boy’ to explain. Presuming that ‘Sax’ is called that for playing sax?”

“Almost. You ever see Some Like It Hot? Tony Curtis has to cross dress as girl named Josephine who plays sax in an all girl band? Well, our Sax’s real name is Josephine. Now, Spider-Man is really Latifah. She pulled this stunt her freshman year where she hung a giant net filled with water balloons between a couple of buildings on campus. But to get the net up there, she had to climb up and down the outside of both buildings with the net in one hand and a roll of duct tape in her mouth, and then carry up the water balloons in buckets. It was amazing. They still tell the newbies about it every year. So, anyway, good climber, Spider-Man. She tried to get them to change it to Spider-Girl, cause she liked that comic better, but it never stuck.

“Oh, and Lolita is not actually a Lolita. She’s Jane, really, but she always ends up dating these really old and sketchy guys. And she’s so tiny, you know? It’s a little… Nabokov.”

“Okaaay.” He stared across the room at Courtney and looked to be filing that information away. Jamilla began looking for an escape. “But what about ‘The Boy’?”

“She’s tiny and her last name is Mann. I think that explains itself. Oh, look, Boss is waving to me, I’ll just go say hi, real nice meeting you, thank you so much for coming to see the show, have a nice evening.” She made her escape, leaving the familiar looking name to puzzle out her sudden disappearance. She looked back to see him sauntering over to Lolita.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 3

Genevieve squealed. “Oh, my god. Is that George Clooney?”
The rest of the group perked up immediately. A couple even moved towards the curtain to try and find him in the crowd.

“I’m going to die.” groaned Evangeline and promptly sat down. Only the timely intervention of two of her fellow singers saved her from landing on the floor. Gina plucked The Fedora, symbol of Evangaline’s leadership as musical director of the Nosferatu, off Eva's head and carefully placed it on the couch next to its owner. Against Eva’s red dress, her normally bronzed skin was blanched and sickly-looking. Sarah S, who’d also moved in to help guide Eva to a safe seat, went to fetch her a bottle of sparkling mineral water of some egregiously expensive variety provided by the misguided generosity of the sponsors and alumnae of the A Capella Performing Arts Council.

Eva, with her head between her knees, looked slightly less pale on the expensive leather couch. It was one of three strewn tastefully about the ‘green area’- a pre-show prep area that was only enclosed on three sides and not quite a room. It was enough off-stage for getting in and out of clothes and make-up before you went on. For all its missing wall, it was still lush with mirrors and soft lighting and small trays of gourmet snack food. Not that anyone could stand to eat right now, but the thought was appreciated. Right now the mirrors just reflected back the group of eleven red-draped young women back and forth until it was they made up a mass greater than the crowd outside


Jamila’s head popped up at the minor commotion across the room, but it was clearly being handled, so she ignored it. She was going over her notes again aloud.


“Legs, then Bruiser and Killer.. no! Start with the group’s name, then you, then the Boss, Legs, Lady, Einstein, Rocky, Sax, Lolita, the Russian, Spider-Man and the Boy-then get to Killer and Bruiser and talk about how they’re skipping their honeymoon to be here. Okay, that’s everyone, then the first song…” Jamila’s muttering decreased in volume as she started to worry her the hem of her sheer crimson skirt with her fingernails. It was going to be half hour slot on an a capella themed concert for Hollywood celebrities and Jamilla was doing the introductions-anxiety radiated off her
in waves. Someone put a hand on her shoulder and she jerked.


“Oh, Latifah. Fuck, you scared me.” Latifah gave Jamilla a look that told her Latifah’s opinion of that kind of language, and disengaged Jamilla’s hands from the dress. Jamilla found herself scooped up into a high powered everything-will-be-fine, pre-show megahug that ended up with
her earring stabbing Latifah’s cleavage.

“Ow!”
“Sorry!”
“It’s cool- I have boobs of steel, it’s one of my superpowers.” Latifah mocked a grave expression. “I just wanted to tell you, that you are going to do great tonight. So you can just chill, Jill Shakespeare. You’ll do fine.”
“Thanks, Spidey.”
“No prob. And really, you’ll be fine.”


A new voice broke in. The stage manager shrieked: “Two minutes, ladies!”
“Thank you, Two minutes!” chorused the closest girls, and the call was repeated until everyone in the way back had heard and thanked the wave before them. The stage manager gave them a look that said they were all crazy.


“All right then!” Evangeline strode to the front of the room, The Fedora on her brow and a challenging look in her eyes. “Let’s do this!” It was clear to everyone there that the Boss was back in form.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 2

Fountain pens were one of those things you just don’t have to deal with these days. Was it any wonder he wouldn’t know there was such a damned fuss about the stupid things? Apparently you have to buy one for five bucks (and five bucks for a stinking pen was enough to make Clive want to smack the stupid grins off the salesgirl’s face), but then you have buy freaking innards for the damned thing to make it work. And the innards have to be same brand, or they don’t work. Ballpoints never pulled this shit on you, thought Clive.

But when the boss asked him for a pen one night at the club and Clive handed him a skinny blue Bic, the boss had got this look on his face: disappointment. But he’d taken the pen anyway and scribbled the note out and handed it back.

“You really gotta get yourself something better’n that, Clive.”
“What, the pen? What’s wrong with it?”
“You look like some kind of kid that can’t keep track of things. You’re making enough money- what are you doing carrying a crappy piece of plastic like that? Get yourself a good fountain pen ‘r something.”

It was hardly the first time that Clive had had to adapt to the boss’ whims. You wanted to work with Hammerhead, you had to work with his theme. Luckily that didn’t mean some crappy schtick like extra arms or those fucked up SS suits like the Red Skull stuck his guys in- with Hammerhead you just had to look like a gangster. All you had to do was wear a suit, and that didn’t seem so hard to Clive. At least at first. Suit, shirt, tie: not too much to deal with, really.

But the boss noticed all these little details. It was never just a matter of putting on a tie and breaking some knees. The suit and vest had to be tailored, the shirt had to be pressed, the socks had to match the suit, the tie had to be silk and not too loud, and the handkerchief in the front pocket had to be linen, white and folded. Monogrammed cufflinks, something Clive would never have bothered with before, had to be hunted down every morning and put to use. Rings were apparently, a matter of taste, but only if they could fit under brass knuckles: anything too big had to come off. The boss wore knuckledusters like he carried a handkerchief- he might need it, he might not, but the outfit was incomplete without them.

Figuring all that out had taken a couple months, and the look still hadn’t come together until Clive finally gave in and put in a standing order with a local florist for a boutonnière. The boss had finally smiled at him when he came into the club that evening, and told Clive that he looked like a man going places. “As long as you keep sticking to the dark colored shirts, I mean,” he’d added. “Blood stains.”

So Clive thought he was looking fine and working his way up the ranks, but every now and then the boss would pull something crazy like this out. Still, he figured, it couldn’t be that hard to please the man on this. It was just a stupid pen.

“You’re just a fucking stupid pen!” Clive could not get the damned ink cartridge into the damned end of the pen- cleaning a gun wasn’t fiddley enough, now he had to do this whenever he wanted to write a check, too?

Something gave under this fingers and the cartridge slid home. Clive tried to screw the barrel back on before something else could go wrong, but then he saw the ink all over his hand and the rapidly spreading black puddle under his right cuff- the cartridge hadn’t fit, it had just exploded.

The boss was the boss and order were orders but Clive was done with the fountain pen. With a growing mix of frustration and annoyance finally reaching its zenith, Clive dumped the pen and the mostly full box of ink cartridges into the trash bin by his now blackened desk. He stripped out of his ruined shirt, swore, and then used the fabric to mop up the puddle of ink before it stained the desk. The soppy mess joined the pen and cartridges with violent squishing sound. Clive damned the whole exercise to hell. Ballpoints worked fast and they didn’t cost you a shirt before you could write a word.

Clive went to bed and dreamed of ruined silk.

A couple of days passed. Clive thought about the boss’ fountain pen. The boss didn’t forget his things often, and Clive had a chance to see that pen every day for a long while. It was a thick old thing of black enamel with a thin band of gold around the middle. The gold was scratched from rubbing against the boss’ knuckledusters, but even allowing for rough use, the pen looked ancient. The boss left it on the table one night to greet some old friends and, curious, Clive picked it up. There was an inscription he hadn’t noticed under all the scars on the surface.

Capone, it read.

Clive clutched at the pen convulsively. Then, slowly and reverently, he put it down back where the boss had left it. He decided to go out and buy himself a new fountain pen.
kitewithfish: The Doctor tilts his head. (Default)
Day 1

The walls of the room look pretty damn bare, when Grace thinks about it. It’s that faintly textured non-concrete crap that makes up all the visible walls inside the building- staring at it for prolonged periods brings about the sensation of falling into a void without moving.

Freaking Magic-Eye wallpaper, Grace thinks, and then snorts.

Still it’s getting to the point where it bothers her. Her roomie, the actual factual local girl, has not put anything up on her side of the room, but then she’s hardly been there since moving her stuff in. She’d been sleeping either at her boyfriend’s room across campus or at Ashley’s (her best friend since kindergarten, apparently). But she still showed up regularly around three in the afternoon to shower and nap before heading off to one of the few classes she attended. Just as well she was hardly here: Grace imagined her as being one of those girls who put up several thousand photographic variations on the theme of “This is me and my high school friends and our mutual friend, booze!”

Still, Grace was going to be living there for a year. It might be nice to get something to put up and make the room prettier.

The next day, she was meandering around a store in town and found a veritable mountain of out of date calendars. Geez, you’d think they’d have thrown them out by the end of February, at least. But Prose before Hos’ loss was Grace’s profit. The guy at the cashier was amenable to her just taking them, after a little chat about an art project and a little half-serious teasing about how much he could bench-press. She left the store with her booty to see him standing visibly taller than when she’d entered. She mused pleasantly about the occasional powers of the vaguely attractive girl, and went to find some tape.

She’d decided, in the end, on a strategy that was half papers dolls and half landscapes. A Year in Trout Fishing, after some careful snipping-out of the principle actors, gave her some lovely wilderness landscapes that she slowly populated with a growing cast of elegant pale figures from Ukiyo-e: Seasons of the Floating World and a small herd of dachshunds from The Far Side Desk Calendar. With the generous application of a crayola “fuzzy wuzzy brown” and “atomic tangerine”, she’d colored the amassed wiener dogs and positioned them flooding down the side of a canyon in to a deep lake: the last of the great American salami herds, displaced by post-war housing developments, finally sought a noble end in the pristine waters. She was certain it would disrupt the local trout for years. The geisha plucked a last ode on a shamisen to the passing of these tasty beasts, but did not weep for fear of smudging their make-up.

Grace was standing back from the longest wall in her room, pondering the placement of her masterpiece, when Corral (“It’s ‘Coral,’ only with two R’s”) slammed into the room.

“Men are shit, Grace. Honestly! I wish I were gay. You should be glad you don’t have to deal with them.”

If only words could make it so, Grace thought, and then mentally kicked herself for not standing up for the gender for her brothers’ sakes, if not Ghandi’s or Vin Diesel’s. She'd already given up on trying to explain that bisexual was not the same as lesbian.

Corral was not done. She plopped herself down on Grace’s bed.
“I just… He’s such a shit! Again, ya know? You’d think he’s stop, that once was a mistake, but no. Again. And we’ve only been here a month.”


“If he makes you so unhappy, break up with him. You’d at least not have to see him anymore.”


Corral scowled. “I can’t. They’re all his friends. And we all came here so we could go to school together. They’d stay with him.” She grabbed a pillow and snarled into it soft and hurt. “They’d all stick with him, and leave me all alone.” Corral hunched.

“Hey,” Grace started. Maybe there was a reason why Corral’s side of the room was so bare, after all.


“What?”


On an impulse, Grace said, “Can you help me put this thing up? It’s too big for me to do it alone, and I want to stick up where it will catch the light in the morning.”

Corral put aside the pillow and looked down at the massive paper construction on the desk with open suspicion. “Did you color those with crayons? Who still uses crayons in college? It looks like a five year old colored this.”

Grace reminded herself that Corral’d had a bad day, and that anyways, she was the bigger person here. “I do- they’re cheaper than colored markers. And you can see when you need to buy a new set before they dry up on you. Here, you take this end.”

They stuck it slowly and gingerly to the wall with scotch tape. Corral ended up holding most of it, since Grace couldn’t get it up to the right height. She stood back afterwards to see the effect. The room looked broader somehow- it was almost like adding a window.

“Hey,” said Carrol. “One of your sausage dogs fell off.” She scooped it up and as Grace watched, taped it with an oddly touching precision back amongst its fellows. She looked back at Grace again and smiled as if laughing at her own concern about a paper dog, and patted the prodigal creature “Can’t let you get lost, huh?”

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