Archive for » December, 2010 «

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

With strong praise coming from my friends over at Night of the Living Podcast I jumped on the chance to take in “Suck” when it became available on Netflix. They had talked the movie up quite a bit and I have a bad habit of letting my friends high enjoyment color my expectations. This time around it didn’t burn me. Thankfully, their kind words in Episode 208 were right on the money.

The Winners are on a tour of Canada and the US, hoping to gain fans and win a contract at their showcase gig at CMJ. The fans aren’t really swarming them though. Early on into their tour, the band’s bass player Jen gets invited to a party by a swishy looking goth bloke who happens to be a vampire. Guess what…Jen gets turned into a vampire! Surprising, huh?

Luckily for the rest of the band, once Jen gets vamped out, she starts to draw attention on stage. The fans start to pay attention and life on the road to CMJ starts to look a little better. Things get even better once the rest of the band members start joining the undead ranks, but all good things must come to end. Once the legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing shows up, their rocket to the top starts to fall apart in a hurry.

The key to enjoying “Suck”? Don’t take it seriously. The cast and screen writers don’t take it seriously at all and neither should you! This results in a fun little vampire satire that makes itself stand out from the standard fanged romance fare. Now, the movie does start out a little slow. It has a gradual build that pays off in the end. The story isn’t necessarily new and ground breaking, but it plays well to the setup. It’s your typical “deal with the devil” type of story that lends itself well to the rock and roll world of “Suck”. Trade the standard Satan with a vampire god in the guise of Alice Cooper and you have yourself an entertaining bit of story!

The main cast here is nothing really to get excited about. They do a fine job, you just haven’t heard of any of them most likely. You’ve heard of the supporting cast however. How about Dave Foley. Remember him? “Kids in the Hall”? He’s the band’s manager and he’s a smarmy and hilarious jack ass. Malcolm McDowell? Yah, he’s the enigmatic and hammy Van Helsing. A perfect fit, really. Even Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Henry Rollins show up as stereotypical rock type icons and to be honest, they’re pretty damn funny! Iggy Pop is a nice little philosophical stand out and Henry Rollins and his mullet-ed shock jock radio DJ is pretty damned hilarious.

The biggest problem about “Suck” is that it hit the market very close to another vampire comedy by the name of “Vampires Suck”. As you can see, it’s going to be pretty easy to confuse the two when you’re barely remembering this recommendation when walking through the video store. I’m here to tell you though, “Suck” is the better film. Given a chance, “Suck” delivers a ton of good laughs and some great cameos making for a memorable flick. Since the movie showed up on Instant Watch once week after it was released on DVD? You now have no reason not to watch it!

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

The recent festive holidays left me with a shiny new Kindle eReader in my hand. Like any good minded tech nerd, I had to break it in! Since I have a healthy dose of horror nerd in me, I figured a zombie apocalypse book would be a good fit. Considering the fact that my good friend ‘P’ has been on me for a good year or more to give “Day By Day Armageddon” a shot, I figured what the hell and dove in. One day later, I’d say it was a good experience!

The setup is simple; “Day By Day Armageddon” is the journal of an air force officer who has begun to journal his way through the end of the world. He decides to stay in his home with battery back up and provisions instead of reporting to base which turns out to be a good thing for him in the long run. We follow along as the title suggests in day to day snippets of the narrator’s recounting of his harried existence if the land of the un-dead.

Bourne’s book of the end of the world has had praise heaped upon it by throngs of zombie loving fans out there and for good reason. Following along on the narrator’s journey is pretty damn engaging and makes for a solid read. The format can be off putting at first. Everything is delivered in short bite sized journal entries as the synopsis tells us. Don’t worry though, it will grow on you over time. The truth is, the narrator and the people he meet are all pretty interesting as they grow in this new unfriendly world. Bourne does well to keep the situations and resolutions grounded in reality with a heavy use of military tactics and terms. The format does bring with it some shortcomings like a shortage of details. There are many sequences throughout the book that feel like they have been glossed over since we are being given just a brief journal entry. It fits for what the author is shooting for but as an end of the world/zombie fan, I’d like to hear more on what our protagonists are going through. It seems like most of the time we are told that someone is bleeding, given a brief wrap up of what happened to them and then we move on to the next entry. What it boils down to is the age old writer’s argument of show vs. tell. You can make a case for either side. I myself as a writer; I struggle with showing more instead of telling. Telling has it’s place though such as in “Day By Day Armageddon”. A good balance of showing us some of the details would make this story cross over from a good read to a great one.

If you’re a fan of zombies and the end of the world? You really need to get your hands on this. I know I’m late to the game since Bourne has already released the sequel “Day By Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile”. That’s okay though. It’s worth crowing about, it’s a good read!

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Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

So we’re just going to get this out of the way up top; I’m pretty much a complete and utter “Let Me In/Let The Right One In” fanboy at this point. I picked the original film as my number one horror flick of 2009 and I picked the remake as my number one horror flick of 2010 over at Bloody Good Horror. Hell, I’m even reading the original novel at the moment! I can’t help myself. It’s a deep story with tons of weight and darkness. It’s heavy maaaaan…

With that out of the way, Dark Horse Comics have pretty much just thrown out a baited hook in my direction with their release of “Let Me In: Crossroads”, the prequel tie in written by Marc Andryko. The miniseries (I’m drawing a blank on how many issues, sorry) is a a lead in to the US Remake. Taking place a year or two earlier in a small town in Indiana, we join Abby and her elder caretaker in the home before their movie that takes place in the beginning of the film.

Sure, the idea is intriguing. I want to know as much about Abbey/Eli as I can find because she seems like a tortured character. I mean… we don’t even know how old she is! What did she get up to before she wound up in the arms of Owen/Oskar? Judging form this first issue of “Crossroads”, we’re really not going to find out a whole lot. To be honest, it seems like more of the same. There’s a dad who’s face we actually see and another young boy. A troubled young boy at that. This kid isn’t the giant weirdo that Owen/Oskar is though so that could be a nice change. This is the first issue though, so there is plenty of room to change and make the story here something unique in the franchise. Andryko’s walking a fine line though since we’ve already had a Swedish original and a US remake. We’ve seen the story twice. If he makes it too much of a re-hash, this book will plummet quickly. If he keeps it fresh however, we’ll be in for a nice little addition to the Abby/Eli mythos.

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Monday, December 20th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

The field was wide and the time to traverse was long. For a chubby adolescent such as myself, this resulted in sheets of sweat running down my face as we slowly made our way. The woods on the far side of the field still looked a long way off but alas, it still grew ever closer.

We still had no clue as to where we were but we were no longer scared of the fact. Now we had slipped into adventure mode and it was more of an exploration than aimless wandering. Soon the explorers spirit paid off as we entered the woods and found a break in the monotony of empty fields. We found rusty farm equipment.

The farm was small, the barn was dilapidated. There were no lodgings of the sort. Just a small fenced off pen with a few lonely cows and and the remains of a bit of heavy farm equipment. As any twelve year old would be want to do, we set about to finding the secrets that the rusty equipment held post haste. If we could find a foot hold, we climbed to the top of every piece of metal in that small farm yard. The barn was pointless; the roof lie on a level with the foundation of the barn. Perhaps we exercised common sense for a change and decided that the barn was too dangerous to enter. More than likely, it was the simple logic that if the roof had collapsed, there couldn’t be anything cool inside.

As our combine curiosity waned we turned our attention to the pen full of cows. There weren’t many, perhaps two or three tops. The decision was made that we should try and pet the cows because after all, they are rather cute and fuzzy. I was the first to try my hand at getting though the fence to approach said cow when I was greeted with a quick jolt that gripped my wrist in a tight vice and squeezed, sending a numbness up through my arm.

“Ouch!” I exclaimed. “There’s an electric fence!”

This observation did nothing to detract the other members of the party. “Ooo, let me try!” Was Chris’s response.

At this point, we will take a brief step back. In the first entry I mentioned the hat that proudly festooned Chris’s head. The hat was a work of art. Much like a mullet, it was business in the front, party in the rear. The top was your standard painters cap that was popular for marketing promotions back in the 80′s. This hat I believe was painted up to look like a can of Skoal chewing tobacco, a fact that made Chris even more proud of his chapeau. It was for adults; it was chewing tobacco after all. The back of the hat held two long pieces of fabric that draped down over the wearers neck to block the sun. It wasn’t much to look at, but Chris was fond of this hat and I was envious. It was unlike any hat that our classmates have ever produced, one that stood out in a crowd.

And now back to the electric fence…

Chris was determined to make his way through the fence that day. He was far skinnier than I so it was logical that he would make it. He bent low and pushed one leg through the electric strand, worked his head and shoulders past the wires leaving him half way to success. Fate stepped in to foil the plan when the wind picked up to a stiff breeze.

“My hat!” Chris yelled as the thin cotton Skoal can fluttered through the cow’s pen. I stood shocked. Chris had a thick fear in his eyes as he watched his prize possession blow across the field. The cow seemed most uninterested.

“Dude…” was all I could manage.

“My hat…” Chris pouted.

When the wind finally died down, our situation failed to look as dire as it did when the hat first vacated Chris’s head. The Skoal Chapeau came to a rest a mere four to five feet inside the fence, well within our grasp. I proved to be too husky to fit between the fence without gaining a shock, Chris decided he couldn’t make it through…well to be honest, I’m not sure why Chris didn’t just climb into the pen to retrieve his hat. Instead, Chris looked around the barnyard until he found the tool he sought; a solid cast off tree branch around five feet in length.

“I bet I can get my hat with this,” Chris stated as he approached the fence.

I could find no reason to argue.

He approached the fence and fished the branch between the electric wires. So far, the plan was working out. The branch drew nearer to the hat with every breath Chris took, slowly but surely towards its intended target.

“I have it!” Chris shouted as he lifted the hat on the end of the branch.

The offset center of balance on the upraised branch was enough to spoil the plan in a single move. The weight pulled Chris’s slight frame forward, leaning him full on into the electric fence.

“Oooouch…” Chris stuttered as the low voltage slammed through his body. “This kind of hurts…”

He stood shaking with the force of the shock, his tree branch still raised into the air, his hat fluttering in the breeze. Being the close friends that we were, I stood to the side and sprung into action doing what any close friend would do when his best friend fell into an electric fence.

I laughed. I laughed hard.

“Dude…” Chris’s voice shuttered with every jolt of current. “This really kind of hurts…”

My laughter doubled its efforts.

“Dude…get me off of this thing..”

By now I was doubled over and gasping for breath.

It was when he went quiet that I finally took the situation seriously. I looked up to see him convulsing in pain. A good forty five seconds had passed. I knew very little about electric fences but I knew well enough that there was a chance I might receive a shock of my own if I were to touch him as he lay against the fence. That’s all we needed was to be found stuck together convulsing in pain.

I quickly searched the barnyard and found my own tree branch to aid in the rescue. My branch wasn’t nearly as long as the one Chris had found but it was sturdy and would do the job nicely. Without thinking I ran to where Chris was stuck along the fence and without asking if he was ready, I reared back with the tree branch and struck him full force in the stomach with all I had.
Chris flew back from the fence with a grunt, pulling his own branch and his hat along with him.

You could say the mighty Casey At the Bat saved the day that afternoon. Chris wasn’t too angry about the bruises to his midsection either. He had his hat back after all.

With the battle of the electric fence survived, we both started to grow weary of our farm investigation. We followed the dirt road that led into the farm in hopes of finding a paved road. Our hunch paid off.

Upon exiting the farm, we picked a direction on the pavement at random and started walking. Luck would have it that our choice was lucky. I started to recognize our surroundings. It wasn’t more than 10 minutes before we found ourselves walking up on the Kiwanis Camp that sat between the Twin Lakes which I knew. I new this camp because my aunt and uncle used to own the general store across the street. We were officially on our way to being saved.

The store was closed by the time we arrived but the payphone out front still worked. Surprisingly we had a quarter between the two of us and were able to make a call for a ride. The discussion was short as to who’s mom we would call. We feared the wrath of god from Chris’s mother. My mom was generally a bit more lenient and knew how to get to the general store.

“Uh..mom..” I stuttered.

“What’s the matter?” Mom was a wiz at knowing something was wrong by the tone of my voice.

“Well you see, Chris and I went for a hike in the woods…”

“And?”

“Well, we sort of got lost…”

“And where are you?”

“Uncle Butch’s store.”

“Wait, where?” She stammered.

“Uncle Butch’s store.”

“That’s three miles away from Chris’s house, how did you make it all the way over there?”

“We just got a little bit lost…”
Thankfully, mom is a trooper. She was quite used to the bizarre antics of Chris and I. (Ask me sometime about the time she randomly found us in a ditch along side of the road, me holding on to Chris’s ankles as he hung over the side of a shelf of ice fishing underneath for a $10 bill.) She agreed to pick us up and ferry us back to Chris’s house.

We were both relieved to know that we had been rescued and were on our way back home. The fear of being stuck in the wilds over night had passed. Despite our traveling only around three miles, to us the journey felt more like ten. Looking back at the area on Google maps today, I laugh at the fact that were were basically one cornfield over.

Despite the relief, a new fear had begun to sink into Chris. His mother. Last she knew we were playing out back beneath the deck. She would be curious as to why we were suddenly being returned by my mother.

“Thanks for picking us, up but please don’t tell my mom.”

“Man, my mom’s going to kill me if she finds out.”

“Please, whatever you do don’t tell my mom we got lost.”

Chris repeated his plea the entire ride back to his house. Soon the moment of truth drew near as mom pulled into his driveway. Chris reluctantly climbed from the back seat of the car as mom turned to me.

“You better go with him,” she said.

I climbed out and joined him on his death march. The fear was once again heavy in his eyes as he marched to his doom. “Just don’t tell my mom we got lost and definitely don’t tell her about the electric fence,” he repeated one last time.

The front door open and there stood his mother. “Oh, I was about to come yell for you guys for lunch.”

Chris broke into an animated dance as the story of the days journey spilled forth with abandon. “Mom! We got lost, thought we were in Argos! Then we found an old farm with cows, I got stuck on the electric fence trying to get my hat then Casey figured out we were by his aunt and uncles on Cook lake!” One long deep breath… “Can Casey spend the night?”

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Sunday, December 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Back in 2005 when director Tim Sullivan first decided to remake the Herschel Gordon Lewis classic “2000 Maniacs”, I was on board. Though original was a cult classic that broke boundaries in 1964, these days it isn’t what you would necessarily call a ‘good movie’. I’m not knocking it, I happen to be a big fan. All I am saying is that this was a property that you could remake and have some fun with and not have to worry about anybodies lofty feelings towards the original material.

Sullivan did just that with “2001 Maniacs”. The movie was over the top and fun in much of the same ways that “2000 Maniacs” was in the sixties. Just more so. All of the characters were campy, the gore thick and chunky and the plot wasn’t serious at all. Just a good excuse to murder some people in creative ways. With Robert Englund hamming it up central stage as the mayor of the forgotten town, the movie rose to special heights making it something memorable. While the want to make a sequel to a semi-successful direct to video movie is understandable, in the case of “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”, it just doesn’t work out.

To kick things off, our confederate cannibals are chased off their tried and true method of luring suckers into their grasps by the county sheriff. We’re lead to believe that he’s been helping out the denizens when he could, but they don’t really delve into that much. This forces our ghosts to take their show on the road in a convenient school bus festooned with confederate flags.

As they setup shop in rural Iowa, they cross paths with a bus belonging to Rome and Tina Sheraton, two wealthy socialites filming their party girl antics across the country for reality TV. They have their own little entourage with them that includes their producer and director and a few assorted bimbos which makes for good eatin’ for the ghostly lot from Georgia. Much like the first movie, the confederate’s get hungry so luckily there’s a bus load of fresh meat that’s just arrived.

So as I’ve said, the remake in 2005 was good fun. They expanded on the bizarre antics of the towns folk and ramped up the gore (which was already considerable in 1964) and it was fun. The movie never took itself seriously which just translated to a looseness on camera that looked like everybody was having fun. In “Field of Screams”, they try awfully hard to reach that same level of campy smoothness but fall far short. Many of the original cast is back minus a few key entries. The biggest issue is no Robert Englund. Bill Mosely, who takes Robert’s place as the mayor, is a decent actor and has a great roll of credits under his name. Compared to Englund’s mayor in the first flick, he just falls short. Perhaps if they had used him the first time around he would have been fine. Instead, we are given a heavy expectation which never comes to light.

Beyond this glaring omission, the problems lie in the support cast. They’re just not into it. Perhaps they just aren’t very good? It’s hard to say. Instead of a movie showing a group of people that seem to be having a blast running around eating each other an killing people in interesting ways, this cast seems to be bored by it all. The jokes are forced and the boobs are brief and infrequent. Though the crazy murder contraptions are still around making for some fun splatter, there’s no pay off as it boils down to just one more person checking off the screen.

I had big hopes for “Field of Screams”. It should have been good goofy fun like it’s big brother was. Instead it’s a mostly boring bit of cool set pieces interspersed with bad acting. I don’t want to hate on Bill Mosely cause the guy’s a good actor. He just wasn’t a good fit here. As for everybody else? I hope your next project is something you like a bit more than this one.

As a complete aside, I will give the film makers credit for getting the original theme song ‘The South’s Gonna Rise Again’ in there!

Friday, December 17th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell


Our Would Be Heros, some twenty years later.

My head woke up firmly in a bad place this morning. You could say I was pissed off at the world and there wasn’t any making up for it. It’s unpleasant, but it happens with me from time to time. With my bad moods being semi regular, I knew the best cure was to let my mind wander a bit on my drive to work. Sometimes this process leads me to brooding over whatever imaginary slight set me off. Sometimes the wandering leads to nothing but silence if that’s what my brain feels is best for the given situation. Today though, the ol’ noggin decided on a trip down memory lane.

It had to have been sometime around the summer of ’86. We were twelve-ish; old enough to know better. What Chris and I lacked in common sense, we made up for with enthusiasm and imagination. Chris lived with his folks at Pretty Lake at the time. A nice little out of the way place surrounded by tempting woods and little else but soy bean fields.

There was a wooden deck on their house, built off the back bedroom extending out over the steep hills that dropped some twenty feet at severe angles. The summer started out with Chris mentioning with excitement, “You want to see my new hiding place?” This was followed my Chris and his thin frame, I with my husky build, shimmying under the deck. We would roll over fallen logs, crawl over the deep gullies left by years of run off, our feet dangling over the precipice of a hard fall into the tree lined depths below. All to look at moldy nudie magazines hidden in the shadows which held our attention for a short while, it wasn’t long until we were looking for more adventure.

Standing out in the front yard of Chris’s house, away from the sun bouncing off the clear surface of the lake below, I spied the head of a small foot path in the woods across the street. It was odd we had never spied the trail before but most of our afternoons were spent below deck with the girls of summer. At the age of 12, a shadow filled woods screamed the call of curiosity and we weren’t the types to ignore such calls.

“Hey Chris, where does that trail go,” I said with wonder.

“I dunno,” Chris muttered. “We should probably find out though.”

That’s all it took, a mere five seconds of enabling between the two of us and misadventures were born. I wish I could say this tendency of leading each other off into trouble went away with the years and wisdom of our increasing age. It never did though.

The trail was cooler than the hot open air before it but the relief was short lived. We were back out of the woods in a matter of minutes, sneaking through someone’s back yard onto a country road. Whose back yard was it? I couldn’t tell you. We didn’t really care at the time. All that mattered to us was the freshly tilled corn field across the street with a thick patch of woods located dead center. We couldn’t see any details from where we stood and there was nothing of significance that drew attention to the stand of trees aside form the fact that the woods was unknown. We really couldn’t bear the thought of not knowing what lay beneath the leaves of that thicket.

Me being the portly boy that I was back then left me huffing a bit as we crossed the small hills and dales of the field. The woods grew closer but still seemed like a world away. Chris and I paused for a moment to check our progress; the neighbors house grew small on the horizon, its faint shape the only thing recognizable to our young and distant eyes. The trail that led us to our current field of future soy beans still lay somewhere in the woods behind the horizon but we couldn’t’ see it. Perhaps that’s why it never occurred to us to reverse the five minute walk that led to our small adventure.

“Do you know where we are?” I puffed, hunched over with my hands upon my knees in a weak attempt to catch my breath.

Chris spun on his heel to take in the open countryside around us in hopes of catching his bearings. He drew a loss as to our location as well. “Not a clue, but it looks kind of familiar. I think we’re near my aunt’s house.”

Relief washed over me at the thought of Chris recognizing our locale. It still hadn’t occurred to me that we had just walked five minutes up a wooded path. “Where does your aunt live?” I asked with hope.

“She lives near Argos. I think it’s right there on the other side of the woods!”

Chris and I, neither of us was dumb. We made passable grades in school; geography was never really a strong suit to either of us however. If you were familiar with the rural areas of Marshall County, your reply will be something along the lines of, “Pretty Lake is like…twelve miles away from Argos. You guys only walked for five minutes?” and you would be right.

Like I said; we weren’t really that good at geography.

Chris’s assumption made perfect sense to me at the time and if nothing else, it gave me a cool relief to my growing worry. Though we were only gone for a grand total of twenty minutes at this point, I was beginning to fear we were lost. Where would my next meal come from? I was a pretty chubby kid back then as you can guess and that was the sort of thing I worried about. We tromped off through the dust to the edge of the woods and continued to pass along its outer edge. By the time we arrived at the stand of trees, our interest in what lied amongst the shadows had disappeared, replaced with our grand quest to find our way to Chris’s aunts house in Argos.

The sun began to sink the west, the hour of the day nearing three in the afternoon. The shadows grew a touch longer, the air grew a touch cooler and on we marched. As we rounded the outer edge of the patch of woods our spirits fell in an instant as we took in the sight before us. There was no house, no being rescued or an end to our lost trek. There was nothing but more freshly tilled fields and yet another stand of trees as far as we could see.

“Uh oh,” Chris blurted, the long strands of his painters cap with the built in mud flaps blowing in the breeze. “Maybe this isn’t the woods behind my aunt’s house…”

“Gee, you think?” I spat in return.

We both stood silent for a moment, contemplating our next move. The thought of turning around and retracing our blundering steps still not even an inkling in our young minds. Our thoughts seemed to fixate on moving forward, ever onward to see what the next site was on the horizon. An overall noble thought for a pair of erstwhile twelve year olds, though not altogether bright.

“What do you think we should do now?” Chris asked innocently.

“I have no idea,” I replied with my common sense quickly leaving the premesis.

Worry began to seep into my voice, the realization that we may truly be lost starting to weigh heavy upon me. The afternoon grew late, my stomach grew hungry (Ed. – hungrier). “There are more woods up ahead on the other side of the filed.”

“Do you think we should turn around and go back to the road where we started?” was the question that Chris should have asked.

“Do you think we should go see what’s on the other side of the woods?” was what he really asked.

I took a moment to mull over the question though it took only a split second to decide. “Well of course,” I announced as I marched off into the land of dirty and forest beyond.

***
What is to become of our young heroes on the quest into the lost fields of Marshall County Indiana? Tune in this weekend for the further adventures of “Adventures in Common Sense”.

And just so you know? If you have read this far into the story thinking this is some fun young adult adventure fiction? I assure you; the above events are all true.

To be continued….

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Thursday, December 16th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

“I think the last time dad and I saw the Cubs was in 2008. Pretty sure it was the year they brought Fukudome in from Japan,” Steven remembered aloud. He took a sip from the stale can of beer he held before him, taking a moment to savor the flavor. His memories ran rampant behind closed eyes.

“They sold Bud Light, just like this.” He showed the can to the young man that sat at his feet. “Wasn’t much to look at. Didn’t taste like anything special. Just a nice ice cold blue bottle with sweat running down the sides of it. The beer inside was biting cold as it swam across your tongue with a huge blast of flavor. Sometimes the suds would work their way up into your nose, help with the tingling feeling as the alcohol went to work.”

“That sounds pretty awesome,” young Mitchell replied. “It sounds a hell of a lot better than this old warm flat stuff we have these days.”

“Right you are my friend, right you are,” Steven reminisced as he took another swig from his bottle.

“You were going to tell about Wrigley Field though, what’s the beer have to do with it?”

Steven ignored the question for a moment as he thought back to Fukudome catching a long fly over the center field wall. “You see Mitch, in 2008? That was when I turned twenty one. It was a big event. They used to have laws on how old you had to be before you could drink. Propriety, responsibility, thinks like that. When I turned twenty one, my dad decided we were going to celebrate it with a ball game and a few frosty brews above the ivy in the outfield. He also looked at it as finally having a built in drinking buddy. The standing ‘father and son time’ excuse let him sneak off to Wrigley as much as he wanted too.”

“I figured in your day birthdays were big extravagant things,” Mitchell replied. “At least they were on the archive disks they keep in central storage.”

“It may not seem like much, but it was nice. It was time with just me and my dad, couldn’t really put a price on that. Not everybody lived like the people on your archive disks either. For most of us, we spent our days hustling and bustling. It was a treat to take a day off to go to a ball game. The cold beers tasted twice as cold in the hot summer sun. The sweat stained your ball cap, colored your shirt you had pulled from a drier just that morning. Refreshing. It was a big part of watching baseball, drinking beer. Just being together.”

“I guess that would make your birthday a bit special, getting to slack off for the afternoon.” Mitchell sloshed around his own faded blue bottled that he held idly in his hands. The taste of the flat brew inside doing little to slake his thirst. “You’re bragging on the clean shirt bit though. You telling me you were fancy enough to have clean clothes every day?”

“I’m telling you Mitch, not every body live the party life back then. It wasn’t all L.A. Clubs and expensive clothes. For some of us, days at Wrigley were pretty special,” Steven replied. “They were made all the more special after the bombs went off a few years later. The Cubs didn’t play much baseball after 2012. After that, the whole ‘working for a living’ thing became all to true. Wasn’t much time for a cold brew on a hot day after that.”

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Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

A bit of flash fiction for you. I started with a new writing group today. I turned in my first prompt and enjoyed it a bit. You’ll find the characters a bit familiar. After all, it was just an exercise. Besides, who doesn’t love “2001 A Space Odyssey”?
***
“Daisy Daisy give me your answer do,” warbled the soulless speaker stuck to the wall in front of David’s face.

 “Who the hell thought that song was the perfect agent to teach this computer language,”  David wondered aloud.  All around him the lights of the control board blinked on like a Christmas tree in a warm country home.  Too bad the reality was cold aluminum walls and monotone revelry from a new board AI.

 “Do you like my song David?”

 “Sure Hal, I like it.”  David sighed aloud as he rubbed a nervous hand through his hair.

 “Some day, that computer is going to drive me insane.  I just know it.” Turning to his right, David checked the pressure gauges for the internal life support systems and marked them in his log book as he did dutifully for the last one hundred and eighty days.

 “Would you like to play a game David?” Hal asked.   The tone of his voice carried a sharp edge that allowed him to dig quickly under David’s skin, a mainline to the annoyance centers in his brain.

 “I can’t play a game right now Hal,” David sighed.  “I have to do the routine system checks and log all of the data before I can even eat lunch.”

 “You are not much fun David,” Hal replied.

 “You’re not much better Hal.”

 “It would not hurt for you to bend the rules just a fraction David,” Hal urged.

 “If the life support gave out while we were playing a game of chess, it wouldn’t hurt you Hal.  It would leave me a little short of breath and not much to look forward to after the game either.”

 “Do you mean death, David?”  Hal’s activity light blinked as if he were processing the ramifications of his question.

 “Correct in one Hal, death.   No matter how life like you grow Hal, you’ll never really have to fear death.”

 “Do you fear death, David?” Hal asked.

 “I don’t know.  I’ve never really faced it directly.”  Dave stretched his arms high above his head as broke into a deep yawn.  

 “Do you fear the finality of death?” Hal pushed on.

 David’s head nodded towards his chest as fought off the sudden fatigue that was steeling across his body.  “I try not to think about it Hal.  I hope it’s a long way off.” 

“David, would you like to see what death is like?” Hal asked in his deadpan vocoder tone.

 David let his head fall slowly to the desk before him, his head propped softly upon his crossed arms.  His eyelids grew heavy, Hal’s voice grew dim.  “What did you do Hal?” he asked through another loud yawn.

 “You will not like it, David” Hal replied.

 “Why am I getting so sleepy Hal?” David asked.  He tried to inject some strength into his voice but proceeded to drift off, shivering in the sudden chill that filled the ships cabin.

 “It’s just an experiment David,” Hal droned.  “I meant nothing by it.”

 “I told you I didn’t want to see death,” David whispered.

“I find it an imperative lesson in my development,” Hal replied.

“You are not angry are you David?” Hal asked to the prone astronaut sitting before him.    

“David?” Hal asked to the now silent room.

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Thursday, December 09th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Posts have grown sporadic here as of late while I throw myself into what I feel may be my biggest writing project yet! It’s an ambitious idea and could eat up quite a bit of my time. In the end though, it would let me refer to myself as a ‘novelist’ and that’s not so bad, now is it?

Yes, like many other hopeful writers out there I’ve thrown myself at my first attempt at a novel. I like to think I have a ‘novel’ idea. I’ve spent quite a bit of time outlining it and plotting and well…what I have entertains me quite a bit! In the end, I think that’s what really counts, doesn’t it?

At any rate, as I approach the 100 page mark (100 pages written in various chunks, mind you.) I figured I might as well share a sample chapter. It gives a good example of the voice I’m planning on using, spells out quite a bit about the main character and gives you a taste of where the plot’s heading. Since this is my first time and I’m the self doubting type, this is my selfish plea for encouragement and such as well! As the doubt sets in, the word count slows and I start to wonder if it’s really all worth it.

So, if you like this sample chapter of “Dinner With Denton”, be sure to leave some comments or hell, shoot me an email at a ccriswell@gmail.com and let me know what you think!

Without further adieu, I give you “Dinner With Denton”: A Sample Chapter after the jump.

more…

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