Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fiction Friday - The Legend of Karenina and Her Minions II: The Red-Headed Sea Devil's Special Needs Cow of Vengeance!

Yes, I realize it's technically Sunday, leave me alone. I actually did write this on Friday, but I didn't want to post it until I showed it to the person who gave me the idea first, which I did last night, so you all get it today. It's the sequel to that ridiculous story I posted a few weeks ago, picking up right where that one left off, and I think this one is even more ridiculous... I mean, come on, look at that title! The worst part is, I have an even more ridiculous idea in mind for part three...

Karenina and her minions might have jovially flown off into the sunset, but when Amandilly landed in the ocean scores of miles from shore, she was none too pleased. All she had wanted to do was snack on some minions, and since Karenina had four of them, she thought she could have spared one or two! Instead, she got attacked by a giant, smelly kraken.
            That was an unpleasant experience.
            Now the first thing on Amandilly’s mind was revenge. Well, okay, that was the second thing. The first thing was minion-finding. After all, a girl has to eat.
            It was hard to find minions to eat in the ocean, though, and she had to settle for scraping plankton off a sleeping whale and eating that… the way plankton hang on and live off of whales, it was the closest thing she could find to eating actual minions.
            Unsatisfied but fed, she turned her thoughts to vengeance as she swam home as fast as she could, to the undersea cave she shared with her magic mermaid roommate, Amberella.
            It should be noted that, while Amandilly didn’t think she was evil, she, in fact, was. She ate people. She didn’t have to. She just decided one day to limit her meals to minions instead of, say, meat, or mozzarella.
            Amberella, on the other hand, wasn’t evil. She was a happy magic mermaid who never willingly hurt anyone; she was the perfect example of someone who fell in with a bad crowd without realizing it. And so, when Amandilly swam back into the cave with a huge bruise across the side of her face from where Shadow the kraken’s tentacle hit her, Amberella was immediately horrified that her friend had been hurt and asked what happened.
            Amandilly told her she had been out on the beach on her way to get dinner when she was attacked by an evil fairy princess and her gang, which, in her red-headed sea devil mind, was exactly what happened.
            Enraged that someone would just attack her friend like that, Amberella promised she’d use her magic to conjure up an evil, nasty beast to punish the brutes that hurt her friend.
            Amandilly the narwhal smiled then, happy that Karenina would pay for what she did… until she realized that Amberella’s spells never, ever worked out the way they were supposed to…

            Meanwhile, Karenina the winged fairy and Jimothan the troll had arrived at a tavern where, true to her word, Karenina paid for the first round. Sadly, the tavern had a very strict “no pets allowed” policy so Sophie the duck had to stay in the stable with Rupert the magical glitter pony. Needless to say, the stable was veritably afire with Sophie’s indignation and they could hear the reverberations of her “Mehs” all the way inside the tavern, which amused Karenina and Jimothan to no end.
            Jimothan kept trying to bring up the topic of when she would keep her promise to help him become human again, but every time he tried, Karenina changed the subject to one of their past adventures, like the time she had sent him to woo the crown prince of the land of Those With Caveman Hair, a land Jimothan didn’t even want to go to because of how ridiculous the name was, or the time she had stolen a magical viewing globe that she didn’t even know how to work from one of her conquests. When even those tales stopped distracting him, she stooped to exploiting Jimothan’s biggest weakness: free shots.
            So it was that, many free shots and distracted conversations later, neither Karenina or Jimothan were in full possession of their faculties; which of course meant that when Sophie came running through the tavern doors in flagrant violation of the “no pets” rule, flapping her wings and quacking out “mehs” that were far more terrified than indignant for once, it was the worst possible time.
            Jimothan was so startled by Sophie’s sudden arrival that he leapt off of his barstool and, in his drunkenness, promptly fell over, eliciting a fit of laughter from Karenina. So it was from his position on the floor that, when her laughter turned into an exclamation of surprise, he had no idea that it was because the cause of Sophie’s fit of fear had come into the tavern until it was standing right on top of him…
            …and he found himself staring up into the slobbering face of a cow. A cow that promptly mooed at him before falling over.
            Jimothan barely scrambled out of the way in time to avoid having the cow land on him. He pulled himself to a standing position as the cow did likewise, and then joined Karenina in watching the cow almost stumble again as it walked over to them before stumbling right past them and hitting its head on the bar.
            Karenina opined that she thought the cow was adorable, if a little bit special. Jim opined that he just thought the cow was special. The cow didn’t opine at all; it simply mooed pitifully and tried to come at them again, banging its head again in the process. Feeling very bad for the poor cow, Karenina reached down into her special red socks and gathered up some of her fairy dust and threw it towards the cow. Suddenly, a bright blue helmet appeared on the cow’s head, a handsome helmet for a handsome cow, Karenina called it.
            Jimothan pointed out that from the vantage point he had on the floor, he was fairly sure this was not the kind of cow that would wear blue. Karenina giggled happily and blinked, and the helmet became pink, with a little flower painted on the side.
            Shaking his head in drunken exasperation, Jimothan watched as the cow mooed again, a moo that somehow sounded happier this time, and walked over to Karenina, not noticed when she banged her head this time, and licked her hand. Karenina smiled in satisfaction and decided the cow’s name would be Selena and she would be joining them on their adventures, despite Jimothan’s attempt to point out that there was no way Rupert the magical glitter pony could possibly carry a cow on his back…

            Back in the sea cave, Amandilly and Amberella watched this scene unfold, Amandilly angrily and Amberella amused at how cute the newly-christened Selena was in that helmet. Amandilly sighed helplessly as she realized she shouldn’t have expected anything really evil to come out of a spell cast by a mermaid as sweet as her cavemate, and cheered herself up by thinking that even though a cow with special needs didn’t help her get her revenge tonight, Karenina did just gain another minion… for Amandilly to eat next time!

The End

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Goodreads Book Review - Neverwinter

Neverwinter (Forgotten Realms: Neverwinter, #2)Neverwinter by R.A. Salvatore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I hate to say it, but I think this is the first time I've ever been disappointed by one of Salvatore's novels. By now we all know his reputation as being the best at writing fight scenes, but I think he falls prey to his own hype here too much; the book is filled with battles to the detriment of any actual character development beyond the obvious and superficial. On a personal note, I suppose I'm not yet used to the new reality the story has moved into, and the things I miss detract from my enjoyment. My other real gripe with the story is that while this is clearly a continuation of Gauntlgrym, for the whole first half of the book, Drizzt's part of the story has nothing to do with the events of that book and actually detract from the continuing story. In many ways, this story belongs to Barrabus the Gray, which I am fine with. To avoid spoilers, I'll say that things heated up for me in chapter fifteen, and the last seventy-five pages or so were good enough to save the novel for me. I can only hope the next installment sees Salvatore revert to form.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marvel Takes a Really Awesome Stand

As some people know, I'm a sucker for apocalyptic religious fiction; movies like "The Prophecy" or "Legion" or the fourth and fifth seasons of Supernatural. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that I love Stephen King's epic 823-page masterpiece, The Stand, as well as the equally epic and massive 1994 8-hour mini-series based on it. I swear, it's like that series is shown on Chiller every two weeks or so and I usually find myself watching at least some of it every time it's on. So, when Marvel Comics announced that as part of their ongoing relationship with Stephen King (they've already done multiple different stories around The Dark Tower as well as a really amazing adaptation of N.) I was really excited.

Written from start to finish by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (whose past includes work on Nightcrawler, Sensational Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four; he's also the guy who rewrote the Spidey musical that has become a major success) and drawn in it's entirety by Mike Perkins (who has previously done art chores for Captain America as well as X-Men and Avengers mini-series), Marvel's version of The Stand is just as epic as the versions that came before, clocking it at a total of 31 issues spread out over five five-issue series and a final six-issue series. The first of those series, Captain Trips, focuses on the outbreak and spread of the disease that decimates almost all of humanity, and introduces the majority of the main characters, including, at the conclusion, the menacing Randall Flagg.

The second series, American Nightmares, focuses on the various survivors gathering together, whether they are the heroes or the villains being corrupted by the Walking Dude, as seen above as he saves Lloyd from having to eat a rat. There's some really gruesome stuff in this book, folks. This series also features a really visually stunning version of the harrowing Lincoln Tunnel scene, of which I'll say no more to avoid spoilers for the uninitiated.

Soul Survivors gives us more of the characters uniting and traveling together, in scenes that include a very impromptu appendix removal. It also focuses more on Mother Abigail, who is pretty much God's voice on Earth in the story and therefore the exact opposite of Randall Flagg. It's no wonder he sends wolves to torment her and her poor cornfields. If there's one thing horror movies have taught us, going all the way back to The Twilight Zone, it's that nothing good happens in the cornfields.

The fourth series, Hardcases, alternates between the slightly dull forming of the Boulder Free Zone, home of all the good guys in the story, by focusing more on the villains of the piece... from the aforementioned Lloyd to the Kid, from Nadine's corruption by Flagg to Harold's growing paranoia and resentment, all the way to the Trashcan Man, who definitely has his part to play in the story. Hardcases takes what even King has admitted is a lull in the narrative force of the story and keeps the gripping tension going the whole way through.

No Man's Land is where everything starts to happen, and my descriptions will get even sparer so as not to give too much away... Nadine and Harold... the Free Zone Committee... the spies... the bomb... heading West, to Las Vegas...

Everything comes to an end in The Night Has Come, the final issue of which came out yesterday. I'll leave all the details out, except to say that it was fantastic from start to finish, just like the entire adaptation. The writing changes enough to make it feel fresh while keeping enough of King's original lines to keep it from ever feeling like a different story. The art is both gritty and realistic, a perfect fit for a story that takes place on the edge of armageddon the entire time.

In conclusion, Marvel's adaptation of The Stand is a great comic book, and a great entry comic to draft book readers into the world of comics. While it never surpasses King's original work because, well, how could it, it does use all the strengths comics as a visual medium provide to elevate the story to a different level, while hitting all the highlights of the original and raising all the same issues and moral questions... can man change? Will history repeat itself? Does evil ever go away? I don't have the answers, but there's one thing I do know.

M-O-O-N... that spells good comics.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fiction Friday - The Legend of Karenina and Her Minions (Working Title)

So while out at the bar last week, I was roped into writing a D&D-type story by two women who know absolutely nothing about D&D. They picked out the characters they wanted for themselves, decided what my character would be, and sent me off to write the story. This is what I came up with it. It's absolutely absurd and entertaining and fun, and I think there might be more adventures like this one to come. Read it and feel free to share your feedback!

            Once upon a time there was a noble knight named Jimothan. He was brave and heroic and a complete sucker for beautiful women… which is how he ran afoul of a mean old witch who had disguised herself as a beautiful woman. The disguised witch had promised Jimothan the world and was good to him, until she got sick of him, turned him into a troll, and cursed him to wander lands near and far until he found a cure.
            So that’s what he did. Jimothan the Troll roamed around the world, searching for a way to break the curse. Usually, all he found was alcohol. And then hangovers. It was a vicious cycle. One night in a tavern, he found himself doing shots with a beautiful, glittering, winged fairy in a low-cut bodice, flimsy dress and odd red socks named Karenina. They bonded over shots and she offered to help him find an answer to how he could become human again.
            What she left off when they had the drunken, shot-fueled conversation was that she’d help him find an answer… eventually.
            You see, Karenina was a weird kind of glittering, winged fairy. She enjoyed having minions around, especially troll minions. In the morning, while they dined on a greasy breakfast to chase away their hangovers, she explained to him that she had recently lost all her minions and that she meant it when she said she’d help him find his cure, but only if he travelled with her for awhile and kept her company.
            Jimothan wasn’t exactly thrilled with having to wait, but he had no idea where to find a cure by himself, and, well, there weren’t a lot of beautiful women who wanted to hang out with a troll, so he figured he could do worse.
            So he agreed to travel with Karenina and keep her company. Astride her magical glitter pony named Rupert, they had a great many adventures across many years. On one such adventure they confronted and then befuddled a dragon who liked to keep his cave filled with pets, feeding them until he was ready to eat them. Karenina sent Jimothan to distract the dragon, which he did by running around the cave in circles, narrowly avoiding having his posterior set on fire, while Karenina managed to escape with a duck named Sophie, who Jimothan stepped on as he ran out of the cave. This caused Sophie to become quite indignant, a disposition that remained unchanged from that moment on. Indignant or not, Sophie joined them on their adventured, quacking at the most inopportune times.
            One of those inopportune times happened one particularly hot day at the beach, where Karenina was sunning herself on the sand while Jimothan relentlessly fanned her as ordered with the fronds of a giant tree. Sophie strongly disliked how bright the sun was and made her displeasure known by a long string of loud, indignant quacks that sounded vaguely like “meh” repeated over and over again. Those sounds drew the attention of something sinister sleeping under the water nearby. The tides began to stir, washing against the beach harder and disturbing Karenina’s peaceful time by saturating her red socks. She looked out into the ocean and gasped. Her gasp drew Jimothan’s attention, and when he saw what she saw, he gasped as well, dropping the fan of fronds onto her face. She called him a rather unkind name and threw the fronds off her face as they both watched the roiling tides.
            From under the water arose a narwhal, a vicious, twelve-foot tall warrior that was half woman, half whale, much like a mermaid, only with a whale and not a fish. Narwhals were like the amazons of the sea kingdom… except for when they came on land. Then they were just like amazons, except with whale bottoms and a four-foot long sword-like nose. Which was enough of a weapon in and of itself, but they also carried a trident in one hand and a net in the other so they could drag their prey back into the ocean with them.
            This particular narwhal had a mass of long, messy red-hair and a band of magical words encircling her right forearm. Jimothan had heard the description of this particular narwhal from Karenina before. It was Amandilly, the narwhal who loved to shred things with her trident and whose diet consisted solely of minions. In hushed whispers all across the land, she was known as “the Red-Headed Devil of the Seas.” She was the reason why Karenina had no minions when Jimothan met her; Amandilly had taken and eaten them all! Immediately, Jimothan fixed her with his most penetrating dirty look, hoping to let her know he wasn’t scared, although in reality he was terrified.
            The stare Amandilly shot back at him made it clear she intended to once again steal and eat Karenina’s minion.
            This time, however, Karenina was ready. In one of their adventures together a few years ago, she had used the very indignant Sophie as bait to lure two large sharks away while Jimothan held his breath very tightly and swam underwater to save the baby kraken they were intending to have as their next meal. The kraken bonded with Jimothan immediately, and Karenina named it Shadow for the way it blended with the darkest parts of the ocean. Jimothan had taught the kraken to respond to a serious of whistles; sadly Jimothan himself couldn’t whistle so they trained the kraken to respond to Karenina’s whistles instead. Clearly, she was the talented one of the group.
            Karenina whistled sharply, and Shadow rose from the depths. In the years since they had rescued it, the kraken had grown into a rather large adult kraken, large enough to dwarf enough the mighty Red-Headed Devil of the seas herself. With one swipe of a mighty tentacle, Shadow sent Amandilly flying so high and far away that Karenina’s little group lost sight of her in no time.
            Pleased with the way Jimothan’s training of Shadow had helped her gain revenge on the minion-eating Amandilly, Karenina offered Jimothan a reward. He hoped she meant she would finally help him break the curse and become a man again. What she really meant was that the first round at the tavern would be on her. As Shadow once again descended into the depths to blend with the darkness, Karenina, Jimothan, and Sophie climbed atop Rupert, who took off into the air.
            As the magical glitter pony flew into the sunset, a loud “Meh!” could be heard echoing through the sky behind him.

The End

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goodreads Book Review - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

The Force Unleashed II (Star Wars)The Force Unleashed II by Sean Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, this book was a decent read, although I didn't like the time jumps in the beginning. What really made it lose a few points in my regard is the way some of the more major characters of the Star Wars saga were sort of shoe-horned in unnecessarily, seemingly just for the sake of having them there. Without spoiling anything, I'm also confused about the status of one of the characters at the end of the novel, as said character finds themselves in a situation that just seems wholly unbelievable to me. That being said, the action scenes were engrossing and I enjoyed some of the moral and metaphysical questions the characters faced, and thought it was a good book overall.

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