Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tag Sale Flipping

Nope, this is not a Sunday Silliness post. Saturday was a lesson in communication. Without going into a lot of detail, I came across a situation where I assumed certain details automatically led to a conclusion and it was my failure to verify that conclusion by simply asking the other party in question what the plan was.

There are times when my brain can only go from point A to point B and even then it’s a miracle of God when I don’t walk headlong into a wall and continue doing so until I realize that the doorway is two paces to the right. Days when I wake up early fall under this category and for that, I can only be grateful when people are willing to forgive me for not being superhuman.

That problem aside, John and I had a table at this big community tag sale in Salem Commons. In our travels, we had found a box full of glass bottles and clay pots that someone had left outside in a free box after they failed to sell it at their tag sale.

John is an old hand at turning a small profit from found items. A lot of the money he made at the Todd Farms flea market was from planters and other decorative items that people only wanted to get rid of. I expressed an interest in trying to make some money in this manner and he gave me the bottles and clay pots to sell at the Salem tag sale.

I made enough money to purchase Steve Harper Pizik’s book on Elements of Writing a Paranormal Novel. But the point is that I made real money and now I am on the look out for other freebies that I can flip into a tiny sum.

This time there was definitely a woman to blame…

A woman was charged with providing alcohol to a minor recently. When I saw the headline I thought, oh, so someone let their reasonably aged child have a sip. I’ve had sips in my life. And in some countries there are no age limits on alcoholic consumption, assuming that parents know how to raise their own kids, so in my mind, letting a teenager with a fair sense of responsibility have a sip of a slightly boozy drink isn’t as big of a deal as the Puritanical States of America would have the Ad Council lead you to believe. Of course, you still have to obey the law and company policies whether you agree with it or not, so the parents was definitely irresponsible for letting her reasonably aged child have a sip of her alcoholic beverage in a public place. However, this child was not even within driving distance of the city limits where the ballpark of reasonable age is located. This child was two years old.

People often label me as cynical. That’s unfair and inaccurate as it implies that I’m not capable of appreciating a positive experience. I simply choose to see and describe things as they are.

“She didn’t know the typically alcoholic margarita had alcohol in it,” her defense attorney stated. “She believed it was a fruity drink from her native Haiti where they never knew of the existence of alcoholic beverages until Americans invaded their nation and introduced them to vice and sin. And if you believe she totally did not know what she was doing when she poured said beverage into her child’s sippy cup then you’re racist.”

That was not exactly what the defense attorney said. What he did say was that she didn’t know what it was and that she believed it to be similar to a “fruity” beverage. In this instance, I did not attempt to dress it up to make it more acceptable in polite conversation. I just took the frail logic of the original statement and used exaggeration to make a point. This wasn’t cynical, but rather, pointing out how incredibly weak that defense is, especially since a margarita would have been clearly listed among the alcoholic beverages served at the establishment in question.

For the record, if the child had died as a result of the consumption, I wouldn’t even be writing about this. But the child is very much alive, albeit not very well off as a result of the visit to margaritaville and due for a lifetime of problems that a simple reboot won’t fix.

Writing about this does not make me cynical. Certainly my humor can be dark at times, if not warped, but if the defense attorney trying to dumb down the blatant act of child abuse is a more acceptable person than a simple blogger, I have no choice but to file this under failures of humanity.

Boy, I feel You

The heat has such a nasty effect on my brain that sometimes I get stuck in survival mode. People who have followed my blog know full well how much more I prefer the winter to the summer. The reason I mention it again is because yesterday was one of the times when the post found me and I couldn’t even bring myself to update the blog because the air conditioning at the library was woefully inadequate.

At the end of Essex Street are three of the most well known shops in Salem. In front of Remember Salem is where one of the many tour guides is stationed throughout the warm months as tourists begin to stream into the town. Strategically, he has the best spot in town as the tour buses usually park right around the corner, across the street from the Hawthorne. Oh, he’s also in spitting distance of the Hawthorne, from whence the other tourists are bound to emerge.

It was late in the afternoon and I happened to over hear the poor tour guide being hassled by a “friend”.

“Hey, let me tell you a quick joke,” the bike bound and largely toothless individual said. (Yeah, I was just nosy enough to notice the detail. I’d say “bite me” but he can’t.)

“I don’t know, man,” the tour guide said, trying to be polite. “I’m supposed to be attracting tourists right now.”

“But there’s no tourist now,” came the reply of the biker who found the hint too hard to chew with just his gums. “So, there’s three Irish men…”

I didn’t listen to the rest, because if I had stopped there long enough to listen, it would be obvious that I was eavesdropping. But it made me think of the people who kept approaching me while I was a bell ringer and expecting me to just shoot the breeze, taking umbrage when I told them that I wasn’t there to socialize.

It’s a simple rule people. Just because I’m not sitting behind a cash register or doing what you consider to be a “Real Job”, doesn’t mean I’m not working. The same goes for a guy whose entire business requires him to be outside and in constant view of the public.

Does Your Flap Hang Low?

In my experience, the most observant people are the ones who are the least observant about the things they miss. I often wonder if it’s not so much a desire to be helpful as it is a need to keep a karmic bank account current when people feel the need to point out something that you would only miss if you were too stupid to be allowed out of your house without supervision.

When it’s not raining, John likes to use the floor mats of his car to avoid scuffing the material when climbing in and out of the car. As such, the floor mat vary obviously hangs out, visible to all who may see it.

Several times today, people pointed it out. Once, at Irving’s on Highland Avenue, while John was filling up the tank and I was wiping down the windshields, a man stopped on his way out of the gas station.

Carman: Your flap is hanging out.

Me: Your car is red, the sky is blue, rain is wet.

Carman: Hey, I was trying to be helpful.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry, I thought it was state the fucking obvious day.

Carman: (driving away) Asshole.

Me: Back at you.

To John’s everlasting credit, he was actually laughing at the exchange.

Downton Abbey Season 7, Episode One: In The Family ~ PG-13

1940 ~ London

A small café outside King’s Crossing.

George: How long will you be in England?

Sybbie: I can’t say. My father said something about going to see family in the countryside.

George: What a coincidence. You came from America to meet family in England and, well, my grandmother is from America.

Sybbie: That truly is a remarkable coincidence

Lord Branson: (Off screen) Sybbie darling, we need to get to our train.

Sybbie: (frowns) I’m sad that this has to end.

George: I hope to see you again soon. (As Sybbie disappears into the crowd, George checks his watch) Oh dear, I have to catch my train too.

*Hours later, George and Sybbie run into each other in the dining car*

George: Well what a coincidence.

Sybbie: Truly, it must be fate. But I can’t help but feel as though I’ve met you before.

George: (coyly) Could it be that you were in my dreams all along.

*Sybbie blushes and giggles flirtatiously. They adjourn to George’s private cabinet and pull the curtains. Many hours later, Sybbie stumbles into the cabin where Lord Branson has been reading a paper*

Lord Branson: My word, Darling, where have you been?

Sybbie: I just… needed some exercise.

At the train station Sybbie is waiting with Lord Branson as their luggage is sorted.

George: Sybbie?

Lord Branson and Sybbie see him an exchange looks. Branson is confused and Sybbie somewhat embarrassed. Lady Mary approaches.

Mary: Tom! It’s so wonderful to see you again.

*Branson and Mary exchange hugs and kisses on the cheek. They turn to Sybbie and George who are standing beside one another and George throws his arms around his mother. They separate and Mary sees Sybbie for the first time.*

Mary: My word, Sybbie, how you’ve grown. I see you’ve already met your cousin, George.

*George and Sybbie stare, open mouthed at each other as the scene fades to black*

My Faux TVtropes Entry: Finnick Odair: A Hunger Games Story – Fan film

TVtropes has been my drug of choice these last couple of weeks. Just click the link and you’ll soon find out why. Unfortunately, you have to possess a degree in particle physics to figure out their password security system and for that reason, I can’t seem to open up a viable account with which I might contribute in a more direct way than before.

The plan is that if I use my blog as a means of posting “faux” entries to the TVtropes universe, someone in the admin department of the website may be more forthcoming with assistance in helping me get a real account. If not, I’m sure I will rake in the views by doing these as often as I can.

I will be providing actual links that lead back to TVtropes as well as other sources.

My focus is going to be on the various fan films of my favorite fandoms that can be found on Youtube. Today’s entry focuses on Finnick Odair: A Hunger Games Story written, directed and edited by Joshua Chislett. Enjoy.

Also: Spoiler Alerts Galore.

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Finnick Odair: A Hunger Games Story is a fan film set in the Hunger Games universe, directed, written and filmed by Joshua Chislett. Starring Caleb Angus, Rebecca McKinnon, Brandon McKnight, and Arya Thakrar. The film was shot on a 1200 dollar budget that was raised by donors through Indiegogo.

The film is approximately 20 minutes long and you can watch it for free at the director’s Youtube channel, was well as find out more information on the camera and software used for editing in the description page. A three part behind-the-scenes documentary can also be found on the same channel.

Click here for more information on The Hunger Games films and books.

Set during the 65th Annual Hunger Games, the film opens up with the death of a tribute at the hands of the Career Pack.  With one more tribute from to go before the Career Pack turns on each other, Finnick and Odella are in disagreement with Tiberius, the leader of the career pack, over the best strategy for hunting him down. Odella is reluctant to break away from the pack, but the decision is ultimately made for them when the Game Makers pour toxic rain on the arena, presumably to keep the audience from getting bored.

A favorite of the Capitol, Finnick is ambivalent towards the gifts he receives from his sponsors until Odella gives him a What the Hell, Hero speech, leading him to Take a Level in Bad Ass when he receives the signature trident to aid him in the final fight.

As can be expected with any film set within this universe, the final climax ends with the titular character claiming his place as the winner of the 65th Hunger Games. The director took a few creative liberties with the source material, which is understandable since the Hunger Games trilogy is told from Katniss’ point of view and we get the barest summary of Finnick’s games before he is introduced in Catching Fire.

Joshua Chislette also wrote, directed and edited Cirrus Quell – A Hunger Games Story. Word of God states that Finnick Odair is the last of the fan films he intends to produce.

This film contains examples of:

Aerith and Bob: Finnick, Tiberius and Odella. Tiberius and Odella may be rare, but both can be found in your favorite Baby Name Dictionary.

Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The Hunger Games, naturally.

Action Girl: Averted. Odella has the aforementioned What the Hell, Hero? speech, but since this is the story of how Finnick Odair became the man he was in Catching Fire, she is pretty much just window dressing. She might even qualify as Faux Action Girl.

Anti-Villain: Although he appears to be the Jerk Ass at first, the film does a great job of portraying Tiberius as just another player in the games who is trying to survive. He even tries to keep the Career Pack under his thumb diplomatically, by allowing everyone to voice their opinion and asking everyone to sleep on it. Contrast this with Cato and every other depiction of the District 2 tributes in fandom.

Arc Words: “May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor.”

Beauty is Never Tarnished: In spite of being pretty soaked by the “toxic rain” (Finnick even receives medicine that is allegedly for chemical burns) only one surviving Tribute seems to suffer any noticeable skin damage. This could be explained by the short budget of the film not allowing too much wiggle room for make-up.

Bittersweet Ending: A surprisingly straightforward example in a Hunger Games fan film. After killing Tiberius, Finnick and Odella are the only two left. And there is no star-crossed lovers story to save them from the inevitable. The fact that they both apologize to each other is what almost moves this into tear-jerker territory.

Deadly Game: Do I stutter?

Death is the Only Option: Finnick and Odell are left with no choice in the end but to fight to the death. They exchange apologies.

Infant Immortality: Averted, with the exception of Finnick who has Script Immunity.

Oh, Crap: The District One tribute has this when Odella tells Finnick to kill him. The rest of the characters get this when the announcer tells them that they have to get to the Cornucopia or their trackers will be detonated.

Plot Armor: Finnick Odair is not only the titular character, but he is a major character in Catching Fire.

Race against the Clock: The final climax is this. The Announcer reminds the remaining tributes that they have a tracker that can be detonated if they don’t get back to the Cornucopia in three minutes.

Show, Don’t Tell: A standard Hunger Games story usually begins with the Reaping, The Preparation/Training, the Bloodbath and the Games. The director didn’t have the budget or resources to film all of that, so he begins it with the death of one tribute and the subsequent plan to hunt down the remaining Non-Career tribute.

 The Dragon: Tiberius.

Because I Like to Practice What I Preach…

I learned a couple of things at the open mic last Friday. The first thing is that my true comedic style lies within my ability to tell a story. Because like Ed Byrne once so eloquently put it, we are never as clever as we want others to think we are. All of the things we “wanted” to say, or “wanted” to do are usually thought of after the fact. Sometimes years later.

Steve Hofstetter, in a podcast interview once said that he was not as happy with his material until after he stopped writing jokes and started writing down ideas. You can see the difference in his later acts where most of his comedy comes from current events, be it sports, politics, or society in general.

Similarly, when I experience something that I consider later to be a “failure of humanity” I obsess over the events so much that it can only end two ways. I let it destroy me, or I write it out, peppering the monologue with zingers and one-liners to keep the audience interested. It’s not so much what is happening in my life or that the story itself is remarkable, but it is how I have groomed it over the years to now be able to tell it in a way that is even partially entertaining to a reader or to a live audience member.

The second thing I learned is that for all I criticize others for not listening, my own listening skills can be a bit off. Since I had gone up first at the open mic, I was so surprised about how well I was received by this new group of people that the only thing I could focus on was what I would write next to present to this group. The entire time I was thinking of this, someone was reading poetry and all I was managing was a smile and a nod. Mind you, if you asked me what his poetry had been about, I would have blanked out.

For that, I apologize both to the other performers and to myself. Because this was something I realized I had to start doing when I was doing the comedy open mics more regularly. Listening to the other comics is key, even if you don’t laugh at their material, because sometimes a way to keep the crowd interested in you is by looking out for the jokes that you can tag during your own five minutes.

More to the point, listening to other performers is respectful and although this is going to surprise some people, I do try to treat others the way I wish to be treated.