writing

Fiction: Children of Wax: Part 1

“The hottest day of the year,” Wes said. “And, of course, the A/C decides to give out. I swear, by the end of the day, we won’t have a museum – we’ll have a giant pool of wax. I don’t want to be the one who has to clean that up.”

“Neither do I,” Jake replied drolly. “Did you ever hear back from that college you applied to?”

“WE applied to, and, yes, I’ve got the envelope in my bag…I can open it now. I’m sensing good news.”

“Let’s hope so.”

“‘Dear applicant,’” he began as Jake cringed. “Must be one of those ‘form letters’ I keep hearing about… ‘Thank you for your interest in our school. We re…gret t-to in…form you that…’”

“It’s okay,” Jake said putting his hand on his fiancé’s shoulder reassuringly.

“No,” he said rebuffing said hand. “It’s not. We were supposed to go t-together, and now… and now, we can’t. Just go. Check the galleries, make s-sure nothings melted yet…”

 

Jake Norway went through the galleries (normally Wes’ job) straightening wigs and repositioning dummies. He knew his fiancé would tell him they “looked sad” for some reason, but he’s been working there long enough to know that was usually the result of either a slid wig, misaligned eye…or the viewer’s imagination (like Wes with his silly paranormal “reality” shows).

As he was evaluating the Appalachia scene (the one directly behind Rodney’s), he heard the restroom door slam loudly. Fine, nothing strange about that, he’d be out in a minute or so…but he wasn’t. However, he did hear an unfamiliar voice shout his name from that general area – despite the fact that the museum hadn’t actually opened yet. Spooky, but more than likely just his imagination…

He got into the gallery where Daniel was and heard his name called again, but in a much louder, more urgent voice. He then, having finished his tour, checked the restroom next to the curator’s office to see an unconscious Wes sprawled on the floor holding a pocket knife in his hands as blood spurted from his wrists…

Oh right, he pulled his cell phone out and frantically dialed 9-11, hoping it wasn’t too late…

 

While the doctors were still treating Wes, Jake returned to work the next day to find that his replacements had set up a bunch of fans in the museum (even though fans do not actually “cool” air, they just move it around). There was a large, relatively new oscillating fan in the lobby and several older, smaller fans set up in the individual galleries plugged in the loose, aging outlets.

“Idiots,” he said seeing the ragged extension cords (that looked like the rats had been chewing on them) duct taped to the floor. This was an obvious fire hazard, but he couldn’t leave to replace them as he was the only one working there that day. He probably didn’t want to see the job they did cleaning up the restroom.

He continued his inspection, noting that he thought some of the figures in the first room seemed worried. “Happy,” “sad,” or “angry” were common interpretations, but “worry” was new to him. Bah, he was probably just projecting his own feelings on some lifeless pile of wax.

He goes back to the lobby and checks his e-mail to find an ominous looking message from the park owner…

 

Wes woke up sometime later to find himself standing rigid and immobile on a small platform in the museum lobby across from where Jacob and some other dude was sitting. Was that Kenny from the go-kart track or Brice from the putt-putt course or…it didn’t matter, he was probably dead anyway.

Then he realized, the reason he was awake now – the ring on his left hand was gone, and he just saw the smug little shit (no older than Rodney or Sara) leave the museum with his mom. That bastard was definitely going to pay for that, and as much as the others tried to dissuade him, he decided to follow him around the 3rd rate park – making damn sure the punk thief saw him.

Finally around 11pm, as said thief was playing an online game, his system suddenly shuts off and he could see the reflection of a certain red-haired boy lying on his bed in the black monitor holding the power cord in his left hand.

“You know what I want. You may as well give it to me – call it an even exchange.”

 

“Absolutely not,” the boy shouted. “This PC cost my parents $8500, this ring will pawn for less than $200.”

“It’s not about money, my fiancé saved up for months on a part-time minimum wage to buy this ring for me. Frankly, you can’t put a price on love.”

“I don’t care about you and your gay, faggot ass lover.”

“Damned straight…err, not straight. Augh, it doesn’t matter, boy knows a good thing when he sees it.”

“I don’t care about you. I want my power cord back. NOW!”

“Phillip Ryan Thatcher,” his mother said sharply as she entered the room. “What the hell are you carrying on about? Your father and I are trying to sleep. Now go to bed before I bring your father in here.”

“Go on, tell her. It’ll be fun.”

“No,” Phillip said (to Wes).

“Don’t talk back to me, young man. You do not want your father up here.”

Suddenly, there was a noise of loud footsteps on the stairs.

“That’s it,” she continued. “You’re really in trouble now…”

 

The footsteps stop a few feet from the boy’s door, but neither of him nor his mother saw anyone come in leaving both vaguely unsettled.

“Who are you,” Wes asked cocking his head slightly.

“George,” Phillip’s mom blurted as he (unbeknownst to her) stepped into the doorway.

“Dang it,” the fair skinned boy with shaggy brown hair and a dirty grey uniform shouted in his thick Southern accent. “For the last time, my name isn’t… you can see me?

“Um, yeah, and your little thief here can see me so you may as well tell me.”

“I am not a thief.”

“What was that,” his mom asked sharply.

“My name isn’t ‘George.’ It’s Jonah.”

“George? Jonah? They are kinda close.”

“Jonah,” Phillip asked. “I like it.”

“We were half-right,” his mother added.

“Not the point, the point is your antics woke everyone up.”

“HIS antics,” Wes said pointing to his left. “He’s the one who stole my engagement ring off my finger. Wants to pawn it for $200.”

“I did not ‘steal’ anything. He’s a fucking mannequin. What the fuck does he need an ‘engagement ring’ for anyway?”

 

“It doesn’t matter,” Jonah said. “You can bet that if someone stole one of my possessions that I’d be mad too.”

“You’d better not have!”

“Three against one. Better hope your dad doesn’t come in here.”

“Like I care what some 60-year-old thinks.”

“Six-TEEN!! I’m SIXTEEN not 60. Stop making me older than I am.”

“TEEN,” Wes said. “He’s three years older than you are.”

“He’s sixteen? I thought he was supposed to be some grizzled old vet.”

“Don’t you dare mock his service.”

“I did not ‘mock’ his service.”

“His uniform is grey, but his hair is dark brown. Give it a good cutting, and he’d look damned sexy. Don’t worry, kid, as you’ve probably heard by now, I’m already engaged…”

 

“Who are you talking to,” Phillip’s mother said. “I said nothing about his service. I swear boy, I love you, but you’re starting to worry me here.”

“You mean like this kinda service,” Jonah said closing the boy’s dresser drawer loudly and tossing the ring to Wes who catches it making them both visible for a moment.

“Thanks, Jonah,” he said sliding it onto his finger. He turns to Phillip’s mother, bowed and continued: “Sorry for the interruption, Ma’am. Oh, and Jonah…”

“Hi,” he said waving awkwardly as he realized they could see him, but, for the life – err, afterlife – of him he couldn’t think of a single thing to say after that. Thankfully, he didn’t need to as Wes continued:

“You’re more than welcome to visit me in the park if you need me.”

And with that, Wes disappeared triumphantly followed shortly by a slightly embarrassed Jonah who quietly shut the door behind them passing Phillip’s father on the stairs…

 

Several days later, Wes stood guard as his former colleagues sat down for their weekly staff meeting. The first item on the docket (which his former fiancé had no interest in entertaining) was “strange occurrences” around the museum/park.

“Well,” Jacob said skeptically. “There’s only one fair way to settle this. We need to bring in fair, impartial outside observers.”

“You mean like those paranormal investigators I saw on TV,” Kenny asked (didn’t he work rides?).

“I was thinking more along the lines of scientific investigators…”

“Oh, come on,” Brice said (the mini golf course wasn’t good enough for him?). “It would create buzz for the park – plus, wasn’t Wes a huge fan of that show?”

“Um, yeah,” Kenny chimed. “It’ll be a fitting tribute. You should totally call them after the meeting.”

“Fine,” Jacob sighed as he looked up and thought he saw Wes’s statue smiling at him cheesily. “Compile a list of anything suspicious or ‘paranormal’ that you think the so-called ‘ghosts’ did around the museum and/or park and I’ll present it to them IF they come.”

 

As the TAPS team entered the aging amusement park, a young employee with caramel skin handed Dave Tango a map, imploring him to “enjoy his stay.”

“Hey, thanks.”

“Hey, Dave,” Steve Gonsalves asked. “Who are you talking to back there?”

“The employee over there, the one who gave me this map.”

“What ‘employee,’ the park is closed today?”

He motions to where the young man was standing, “what the..? He was JUST here a moment ago.”

“Your imagination is acting up on you again, Dave.”

“Then where’d I get this map from,” he said showing it him. Steve grabs it from it his hands impatiently.

“Hey, wait, there’s two here,” he said handing the one back to Tango before opening his own to find a large drawing of a spider tucked into the inside of the brochure with the word “Boo” written below it.

“What’s going on back there,” Lead Investigator Jason Hawes asked.

“Nothing, Jay.”

“Good, catch up, we’re trying to find this ‘museum’ place.”

 

“My map says it should be around the corner to the right.”

“When did you get a map,” Co-founder Grant Wilson asked. “We didn’t get a map. Did we, Jay?”

“Oh come on, I couldn’t possibly be the only person to see him standing there!”

“So, around this way… and to the right,” Jay said ignoring Tango’s outburst. “Looks like some kind of food court and…it should be right…around…THERE! Looks like your map was right, Tango.”

“Um, thanks, Jay.”

“Let’s get inside,” he said opening the door and practically pushing them inside. “You two can go first.”

“Yeah,” Grant agreed half-jokingly. “Keep you two from causing any more trouble.”

 

“Um, guys,” Tango said peering into the main gallery. “This is him.”

“What?”

“The kid I saw at the entrance.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jacob said. “That reminds me of something I was going to tell you anyway. He was one of our last arrivals, and I still remember the first thing Wes said when we unboxed him was ‘doesn’t he look like he should be standing at the gate-’”

“‘…Handing out maps,’” Tango continued holding up his for the group to see. None of them noticing the boy in question smiling subtly (…except the cameraman who happened to pan up during the exchange).

“Um, yes,” Jacob said awkwardly. “He then insisted on leaving a pen and notebook in the room while we went out to the floor. When we came back, there was writing in it. No clue how it got there, but it wasn’t any of our handwritings.”

“Interesting…,” Jay said.

“Wait, do you still have this notebook,” Grant asked.

“In the desk drawer, I can get it if you want.”

“Please do,” Jay said. “It would be a great help.”

 

“Do you mind if we take it with us,” Grant asked.

“Why,” Jacob asked. “It’s only two pages.”

“Still. Anything you could give us would be a big help towards our investigation.”

“Whatever, you can have it. Now, if you follow me, I’ll introduce you to them personally. This is the main gallery, the expansive Virginia Beach scene on the left, the manor house scene on the right and the models from both of these scenes are in the notebook.”

“What about the kid on the raft,” Jay asked of the relatively small endcap.

“Huck here is just a mannequin, but around the corner is our Appalachian scene leading into the Hollywood and Ole’ West dioramas.”

“So, anything reported back here,” Steve asked wondering if his cords would reach this far back.

“Nope, but the next room where our newest model, which was apparently part of some planned robotic display give some visitors ‘weird feelings,’ yet none of the reporters say they were ‘scared’ or ‘intimidated’ by it.”

“So, he’s not bothering anyone,” Jay asked.

“No, but if you follow me,” Jacob said leading them through the archway to the lobby. “I can show you the rest of the park…”

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Categories: Autism, entertainment, museums, writing | Leave a comment

Fiction: Children of Wax: Part 2

Later, as the two lead investigators entered the main gallery, there was a loud knock on the museum door.

“DA FRICK,” Wes shouted.

“Hey, that’s MY line,” Grant shouted back.

“You two,” Wes said pointing to the two younger spirits. “Keep them busy. I’ll see what they want.”

“Right,” they said smiling mischievously.

“‘Keep them busy,’” Grant said testily. “What are we five?”

“Well,” Jay conceded. “At least, we know how many we’re dealing with now.”

“Oh,” Wes said pointing to the older boy. “…And make sure they don’t follow me.”

“Yessir,” he said pounding “Shave & a Haircut” onto the wall behind him as Wes left and the other two pounded their response simultaneously on each side of the wide doorway on the opposite side of the room.

“Actually,” Jay said moderately impressed. “That’s not bad… but can you do it again?”

 

“Jonah,” Wes asked incredulously. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“You said ‘if I ever needed anything’…”

“I didn’t mean TONIGHT! Can’t you see we’ve got a film crew here?”

“I didn’t choose to have my house burn down, and I sure as hell didn’t make my way all the way out here just to go back and haunt some ruined shell.”

“Okay, fine, just calm down, and I’ll see what I can do for you doing the scene change. Just stay there, and don’t interfere with production – that’s MY job. So, yeah, just – just stay there and I’ll be back shortly. Okay?”

“Okay…I guess.”

“Good, I shouldn’t be long in there. I promise.”

“Hey, Jay,” Steve said into his radio.

“Yeah, Steve”

“Is everything all right where you are? We thought we heard arguing near your location.”

“Possible, we had some knocking outside the building a while ago. Could you two come by and do a perimeter check?”

“Um, sure, no problem”

 

Meanwhile, Wes comes back inside and signals to the older boy to come over: “Just him,” he whispers. “You two keep going.”

The blonde headed boy approached Wes, pulling on the back of Grant’s jacket as he passed.

“What the…someone just pulled on my jacket. If that was you, could you give me another sign of your presence – like pulling on mine or Jay’s clothes?”

“We got a kid outside,” Wes explained. “…But I don’t want to distract too much from your fun here.”

“Gah,” Grant said as Riley tried to pants him. “I said ‘pull ON’ not ‘DOWN.’”

“They must really like you, Grant,” Jay quipped as he and their cameramen laughed.

“Great, you’ve had your fun at MY expense. Now can you try pulling on JAY’s clothes?”

“I just want to get him into the storeroom without being seen or heard. The problem is: I’m probably going to need your help to do it…”

 

“Hey, there you are,” Tango said entering the museum.

“We finished the tour of the perimeter,” Steve continued. “…And there was nothing unusual there.”

“We’ll check the tapes later,” Jay said. “Now you two go change the digis, and we’ll go check out the ‘Midway’ area.”

“Good,” Wes said as they left. “Now’s our chance. Get in here now, you should be safe here in case they co…”

“Who’s that,” Jonah asked pointing to a broken mannequin (non-human) in the corner.

“Unlike these two here,” Wes said nodding towards Riley and Sara. “He doesn’t have an ‘official’ name, but I always called him ‘Johnny Reb’ since he was in our Southern scene.”

“Works for me…”

“He does kinda look like you,” Riley said tilting his head slightly.

“Well,” Wes said. “That was easier than I thought… and, now, if only we had room for him somewhere…”

“How about that slot across from Daniel,” Sara asked. “He always looks so lonely over there by himself.”

“I always kinda felt bad for him,” Riley added. “As he’s essentially left out of everything.”

“I guess it’s settled then,” Wes said. “Assuming we can find an extra outfit back here…”

 

“Hey, guys,” Jay said into his radio. “It’s about that time. Time to wrap up and get some sleep.”

So, while the two Lead Investigators were off collecting digis, Tango and Kris Williams were off working in the now brightly lit museum.

“I know it’s gonna sound weird,” Tango said handing her a coil of wire he’d stripped off the otherwise pristine floor.

“I know,” she said with a cheeky smile as their cameraman laughed. “And, that’s why you love you.”

“Not me, I mean this room. It’s, um, different. I’m not sure how, but something seems a bit… off he…AUGH!”

“What?”

“I swear someone just tapped me on the shoul… hmm,” he said turning around quickly. “Wait…when did he – err, it – get here?”

“You mean he wasn’t there on your tour?”

“Um, no.”

“Are you sure? It’s not like he could just walk out here on his own.”

“Yes, I’m ‘sure.’ It definitely was-”

“What’s going on in here,” Grant asked entering the back gallery. “I’m not going to have to separate you two, am I?”

“Oh, thank God you’re here. We have a question for you…”

 

“So,” Jacob asked skeptically as he sat down next to the small monitor the producers set up for them. “Find anything ‘paranormal?’”

“Well,” Jay said. “We’ve actually found a few things. Almost all of it here, the rest of the park was absolutely quiet.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, we can show it to you now, get your opinion on it. Maybe you know something we don’t.”

“Possibly.”

“Anyway,” Grant said. “This is a video of Jay and I exploring this gallery over here.”

They play the footage of them entering the gallery and a loud knocking on the door which startles both of them.

“See if you recognize this voice.” Jay said. “He clearly was expecting that as much as we were.”

“DA FRICK” Wes shouted.

“I should. He was my fiancé, and a huge fan of yours I might add.”

“Um, thanks, I guess. Wait, did you say ‘fiancé,’” Grant asked.

“Yep, and he’s standing right behind your little monitor.”

“You mean like he was real – not a mannequin – a REAL person?”

“Yep, as were Riley, Sara, Rodney and Chad.”

“So, you know their names then,” Jay said.

“I should. I work here…”

 

“Hey, that’s MY line,” Grant shouted as Jay resumed the tape

“You two,” Wes shouted.

“That would probably be Riley and Sara, they are the two newest additions. One of your colleagues claims to have met him on the way into the park.”

“Right, Dave Tango, yes,” Jay said resuming the tape. “Good memory.”

“Keep them busy,” Wes continued.

“‘Keep them busy,’” Grant said testily. “What are we five?”

“At least,” Jay conceded. “We know how many we’re dealing with here.”

“…And keep them from following me.”

“That would probably be Chad, the blonde kid dressed as the lifeguard. He’s the oldest one here at 19, and the default ‘protector’ of the younger ones.”

“Yeah,” Jay nodded. “That makes sense. The rest of this doesn’t, so we’ll skip it for now, and move onto the next clip…”

 

“What the…someone just pulled on my jacket. If that was you, could you give me another sign of your presence – like pulling on mine or Jay’s clothes?”

“Gah,” Grant continued as some unseen force tried to pants him. “I said ‘pull ON’ not ‘DOWN.’”

“Any ideas who could have done that,” Jay asked.

“Not really. However, since that notebook I showed you was presumably written by Riley, I’d say he was the most likely culprit.”

“They must really like you, Grant,” Jay quipped as he and their cameramen laughed.

“Great, you’ve had your fun at MY expense. Now can you try pulling on JAY’s clothes?”

“They didn’t,” Grant added bitterly.

“Of course not,” Jacob said. “It was a distraction. Not sure from what, but they clearly didn’t want you interfering with it.”

“We have ONE idea,” Jay said getting up, signaling his camera guy over and heading over to the back gallery. “Not sure how we could have missed it, but this figure definitely wasn’t there when we started this investigation.”

“Sure, as heck wasn’t MY doing. I’d never let a model out on the floor with an outfit like that…”

 

“So, what does that mean,” Jacob asked as they sat back down at the folding table the producers set up for them in the lobby. “Is the park ‘haunted’ or not?”

“I can’t speak for the rest of the park,” Grant said conciliatorily.

“But,” Jay continued. “We think this museum area is defin…”

“Nurse! NURSE,” Jake shouted as Wes slowly opened his eyes to find himself in a hospital room. “Come quickly. He’s moving. He’s opened his eyes.”

“Augh.”

“Shush, you’ll be alright. The doctor said you were lucky, you should have lost twice the amount of blood you did.”

“Dan…yule…”

“Daniel? The robo-”

“Actually, he hates that word… anyway, he slammed the door when he realized what I was… doing, s-sorry…”

“It’s okay. Don’t try to talk.”

“…And immediately starting shouting… your name and then talking to me… holding my arms tightly to prevent… b- blood from coming out until… you got to the door… What happened to him… anyway?”

“Well, you see, it’s a bit complicated.”

“Really?”

“Yes. You see, the park was sold to some outside developer who plans on demolishing it to build ‘vacation condos’ along the lake.”

“What?”

“Sorry, I haven’t even gotten to the ‘strange’ part – or parts – yet…”

 

“Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure are all normal. I’ll alert the doctor of the news.”

“Thank you, Phillip,” Jake said. “As I was saying, the strange part – the first part of it anyway – was that someone moved the broken ‘Johnny’ fr…”

“Jonah.”

“YOU gave him that name.”

“I’ve since been corrected.”

“Anyway, the ‘model,’ as you call them, was moved back on the floor for whatever reason. No clue why, it just was. The second and arguably more important is that since they couldn’t fix the A/C, they plugged in fans all over the gallery.”

“But… fans just move air around.”

“Exactly, and since they were as old as the wiring here…”

“What,” he asked with a weak laugh. “The building caught fire or something?”

“Yes,” he said annoyed at having his story stolen from him. “…But, when the firefighters arrived, they found five fully intact figures on a bench outside the building.”

“Five?”

“Yes, five – Chad, Joh- sorry ‘Jonah,’ Riley, Rodney and Sara –”

“What about Daniel?”

“Um, yeah, I was getting to that…”

 

Two weeks later, Joey and company enter the third-rate theme park in the middle of nowhere. Near the entrance, they saw a blonde-headed boy stocking maps in various languages for what was probably the last time. When he saw them, he sighed, took three off the top of his box and handed them to the trio.

“Sorry to bother you,” Joey said. “My name is Joey Westin, and I’m looking for my brother. I’m told we was in one of your attractions.”

“A lot of people work on rides here,” Jake said.

“Actually, I said ‘IN one of your attractions.’ I know it’s gonna sound ‘weird,’ but he was my hero and I’ve been trying to find him since he was, um-”

“Robo-OW,” Jimmy said.

“What did I tell you about using that word?”

“Sorry.”

“Anyway, his name is – or was – Daniel, and I was going to say broke his leg…”

“You don’t mean Daniel the, um… animatronic from our museum?”

“Possibly. Last I heard from him, he had just failed his qualification exam for the fire department for not rescuing enough ‘dummies’ from their simulated fire. So, anyway, if you can tell me where he is…”

 

“I’d love to,” Jake said closing his box. “But, the museum burned down two weeks ago. There were no ‘humans’ inside – living ones anyway – but the fire department said when they went inside there was a boy dressed as one of them who apparently said, ‘THIS time, I did get all of them,’ before disappearing in a ‘column of light.’”

“Trust me,” Andrew said. “We’re more than familiar with that column.”

“…Or, at least, HE is.”

“So,” Joey said. “If you could tell me where he is, that would be a great help to us.”

“You see, when they pushed into the building, they found a charred body blocking the back entry to our main gallery. The second one of them touched him, he fell apart. I-I’m sorry…”

“Thank you anyway,” Joey said turning away disappointedly.

“Wait,” Jake called. “He was a hero. He saved my fiancé’s life, and all of the known ‘human’ figures in the museum.

“Oh, and I know it’s not much,” he continued, reaching into his pocket and handing Joey a shiny golden badge. “…But they found this is in what little remained of him…”

Joey pins the badge on his shirt, and his body starts glowing faintly. He looks up, smiles and says: “Thanks, Danny, but I’m nowhere near done yet…”

Categories: Autism, entertainment, museums, writing | Leave a comment

Commentary: What not to post

Some site called “Thrillist” posted a story this morning titled: Things no self-respecting adult should be doing on Facebook.

 

Posting “chain” statuses – I don’t give a fuck how badly “Tweety\Tinkerbell\Random Fucking Butterfly wants to fly,” I’m not sharing your stupid schmaltzy graphic. Same goes for “I want to see this photo of my kid holding a(n) Autism\Cerebral Palsy\Childhood Leukemia awareness sign on EVERY wall on Facebook” or pretty much any other picture that tells me to “Hit LIKE and SHARE if you agree. :D”

Being an annoyingly over-enthusiastic, semi-delusional sports fan – GOOOOOO C-A-N-E-S cuz we’re #1 and it’s ALL about The ||_||

Posting pictures and/or bragging about drinking/drug use – Father was a RAGING alcoholic so I learned THAT lesson pretty early on (and then was forced into rehab which never believed I never drank anything and thus I was labeled as a “liar\in denial” for the length of my stay)

… and then apologizing for it the next day – I NEVER got an apology for the awful things dad did when he was drunk (as it was always – ALWAYS – MY fault). Other people prescribe to the same philosophy as my likes to say “no-one mistreats you for ‘no reason’ – you obviously GAVE them a reason otherwise they wouldn’t have acted like that! Gah, grow up and take some responsibility for YOUR actions!”

Sending multiple invites to your art show/improv show/band’s gig – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Treating your profile like your personal blog – Soo yeah, they want me to log onto WordPress and write a 10-15 word post? I have tried turning “overly long” FB posts into blog posts before, and it never works.

Friending people you don’t actually know – One of the things I took away from my disasterous Chicago trip is we don’t “actually know” ANYONE.

Sending out a million invites to Farmville – But Zynga said if I post it on my wall, my friends WILL help me out. They didn’t. They don’t. They never fucking will. That’s one of the reasons I quit my FB\mobile gaming blog.

Bragging excessively\Bragging Humbly – This is blog “will NEVER have any fuking followers, ur a pethatic LOSER and no-one will tek ur fuking joke of a blog srsly!”

Posting cryptic messages or lyrics that nobody gets – I hate having to guess what people are posting about just for them to say “oh no, nuthin lik that I was listening to music while I was on FB lolz”

Selfies, of any variety – Not on THIS blog. I’ve seen how mine come out, and you don’t want to.

Going on rambling, incoherent political rants – I USED to post stuff like that here (and considered starting a spin-off blog for that kind of material), but I realized that’s not the point of this blog. If I ever figure out what the point of this blog IS, I’ll let you know.

Talking bad about your job (past or present) – The ONLY outside jobs I ever had was a 30-day stint at McDonalds, sweeping floors at Benchmark Young Adult School and a freelance gig at The Miami Hurricane. Literally, every other job I had was self-employed.

Posting cheesy motivational statuses/pictures – Fuck you. That’s the reason I created this blog’s Facebook page in the first place.

Giving a shit about relationship statuses – Nope, but people REALLY hate when you assume they’re still married to their ex. They also hate that you know their “relationship status” at all – even though they’re the ones posting about it.

Desperately begging for someone to hang out with you – That was how I got to Chicago, and I think I mentioned how well THAT went. Now if people want to hang out with me (ha), they can do so. If not, their loss.

Annoyingly self-promoting – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Blocking your relatives – Believe me after what happened at Bay Lake Towers (and the resulting fallout from it), I strongly considered it, but then only proving THEIR point. They are more than free to “block” me, I don’t gaf.

Oversharing – I can’t stand “wow, look at this steak I made for dinner” posts or when people get into overly detailed posts about their sex lives as I really don’t need to read that.

 

A couple things they forgot:

Clickbait – It seems like every page I subscribe to is loaded with headlines like: “This picture looks normal, but look closer!” “Everything seemed normal until the doctor found THIS – MY HEART JUST BROKE!” and “They didn’t suspect anything unusual until THIS happened – SHOCKING!

Not to brag, but you won’t find shit like that on my page. Annoying demotivating memes and depressing cartoons? Yes. Clickbait? No.

Angry\Libelous posts – I’ve been the victim of quite a few of these – often because they are pissed off at something they did to me but are outright lying about it so that everyone can see what an asshole I allegedly was to them (correcting the record makes me look like an even bigger asshole, not correcting it only confirms it – it’s a lose-lose) or something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, but again  blamed on me anyway cuz I obviously and this is “karma” for that.

 

Basically, the lesson is: Don’t post anything on Facebook, don’t friend anyone, and delete your account.

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, Chicago, editorials, humor, Illinois, Internet\FB, news, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Editorial: On writing

I have been working on a story every day for almost a month now (I know, I’m “supposed” to finish writing a book in a month, but I’ve only got about 11 pages and no title). It’s missing some “world building” sections about rules and whatnot, but for the moment I think I have a good(ish) start.

I have three projects that are somewhere between half and 2/3 finished but no idea where I’m going with them (the endings I have… just the chapters leading up to them are missing). I considered turning part of one of those books into either a short story or a play (or both), but, unfortunately, I realized the rest of the story wouldn’t work as well on stage.

I have a few abandoned projects. I miss the one about the museum as I was having fun with it…until I realized my protagonist was an unlikable dick – and he was based on me (I interned at a museum when I was at UM). Maybe that’s why my fictional bf from that story is the protagonist in this month’s story… or maybe I just like writing idiots.

Whatever, I need to get back to work. I have photos to edit, and maybe when I’m done I’ll come up with a good idea for one of my stories…

Categories: editorials, entertainment, news, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Random ramblings

I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about this blog lately – particularly how many of my posts don’t seem to match my own stated theme.

For instance, while the shots of Disney landscapes are pretty and add substance to my claims of this being a “photography” blog, do they really belong here or should I find someplace else to post these shots and even then I still have to ask: just Disney, theme parks in general or would I post any kind of photos I want? Heck, I still remember my Photography professor at UM telling me in her pleasant English accent: “the best thing you could do for photography is to put your camera down and NEVER pick it up again.”

I’ve already decided that my political thoughts have no place here, but I’m not sure if I should spin them off into a separate blog or not – particularly since they have the “page views” to match their substance. Also, like the photo thing, I can’t find a clever name that wasn’t already taken… or, more aptly, a free one that I actually like. I also considered writing a weekly\biweekly column, but I don’t know of a single publication – including The News-Item – that would print unsolicited, unsubstantiated and largely uninformed drivel on a regular basis from someone who’s called nearly every presidential election wrong since 2000 (believe me, Dick Morris wasn’t the only one caught off guard by Obama’s reelection).

I also strongly considered “restarting” my FB\mobile gaming blog, but this time the hurdle is legal as that was created under the umbrella of Park\Mosher Media (just like my art\theatre blog) – a company I founded in 2011 after two years of unemployment but whose name expired in 2014. It was this (and a 13” snow storm in February of that year) that finally pushed me to move to Florida permanently. Ultimately, to borrow a term from the theme park industry, the blog is SBNO (Standing But Not Operational) and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future…

Do I continue posting those silly memes on Sunday? Probably not, but  should I delete the ones I’ve already posted? Should I post more about UM (it’s already one of my banner photos, even though said photo isn’t mine)? The aforementioned News-Item suspended their RSS feed a while back 😦 , but I still get news from Baltimore area blogs, should I post about that or just focus on events in Florida?

 

UPDATE: Yahoo has just announced that they will be closing their Games division in May. This site was the third leg of my coverage triad (the other two being Android and Facebook) for SSG. I do have some stories I’ve been working on on\off since January, but this news pretty much cements my decision not to restart that blog. (3/13/2016)

Categories: entertainment, photography, politics, polls, ramblings, writing | Leave a comment

Things I miss about Baltimore

Obviously, my recent trip back to Baltimore for the Maryland Film Festival didn’t go as well as I had hoped. It did remind me of some of the reasons I left Charm City so in that regard it wasn’t a total loss. However, for the sake of fairness, I’ve decided to compile a brief list of some of the things I miss about Baltimore.

 

  • Walkability – I could walk from my apartment in Bolton Hill to movies/theatre in Station North or restaurants on Charles Street. Not to mention coffee shops at both ends of UB and Light Rail/Circulator to downtown/1st Mariner Arena – sorry, “Royal Farms Arena” – and a quick walk to Metro Subway to get to the zoo.
  • Landmark Harbor East – Okay, so it was super expensive (like everything else in the neighborhood) and a pain to get to from Bolton Hill, but it was newer, cleaner and in far better condition than The Charles – plus they had a wider variety of indie/mainstream films (Orlando theaters only show mainstream movies).
  • Station North – Sure the already sketchy area has lost some of its artistic cache when two of its biggest draws – Everyman and Single Carrot theatres – moved out (the former to downtown and the latter to Remington), but this area is constantly growing and changing from the Maryland Film Festival to Annex’s “Chicken Box” to the upcoming Motor House theatre complex and the energy that comes from having both MICA and the Baltimore School of Design as neighborhood anchors.
  • Inner Harbor – Dining at Harborplace, coffee at the Barnes & Noble and movies at the Science Center – all without the crowds usually associated with downtown tourist traps. Okay, the National Aquarium is usually crazy but otherwise it’s pretty quiet…except immediately after an Orioles game.
  • Entertainment/Events – Pick a weekend and there is bound to be SOMETHING going on there somewhere – from daytime events SoWeBo Arts Festival and Olde Tyme Christmas to nighttime entertainment like “Final Fridays” and “Constellation Thursdays.” It was my JOB to cover them – all of them…which was why I had no life.
  • Connectivity – Like the first point on this list, Baltimore is easily assessable to other cities on the East Coast like D.C, NYC and Philadelphia via its convenient downtown Amtrak station. Going beyond the Eastern Seaboard? The city’s Light Rail line connects directly with BWI airport making getting into and out of the city a snap.
Categories: Baltimore, Bolton Hill, editorials, Inner Harbor, ramblings, Station North, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Saturday (part 2)

I got off the Circulator and walked back over to the Tent Village where I caught a shuttle to the Single Carrot Theater in Remington. I’ve never actually been inside this new building, but their new space was a LOT bigger than the architectural drawings I saw at their temporary venue on Charles Street made it look.

The show started on time and without issue. Unfortunately, I had a very loud dry cough for most of the week (it was what woke me up both times at yesterday’s screening) and about midway through the show I checked my pocket and discovered I was out the cough drops I put there before I left. I had no choice, I pulled my bag out and as I carefully fished a few out trying to make as little noise as possible and just as I had a few in my hand I could feel a HARD slap against my left knee.

“WOULD YOU QUIT MAKING SO MUCH DAMNED NOISE,” the woman in front of me said in a low threatening growl with her waving finger shoved an inch from my nose. “I’M TRYING TO WATCH A DAMNED MOVIE!”

Apparently, she knew that I wasn’t even though I was, but it’s okay as her act of aggression was completely justifiable because, well, I’m me and abusing me is somehow okay. Me treating someone else like that is NOT okay, but those are the “rules” and I’m not allowed to object to them. I never have been, and today wasn’t a good idea to do to try it.

“I’m getting a cough dr-“ I said quietly, my knee still hurting from her assault on it.

“SHUSH,” the woman next to her said. “NO TALKING DURING THE FILM!”

I never even got to put the cough drop in, but the good news my cough went away. I spend the next 35 minutes feeling that hand burned into my knee as the people around me shouted at me in my head. If I wasn’t seated in the middle of my row I would have left 20 minutes ago, but now it was impossible without enflaming people anymore.

The movie finally ended, and the director led a somewhat dull Q&A which the angry finger pointing lady didn’t stay for. I won’t spoil the film for you as well, but I will say I already told you the most interesting part of this screening.

My next screening was also at SCT so I took the opportunity to attempt to gather up my thoughts on the movie itself – not on the screening just on the movie itself…but I couldn’t. My knee stung like hell, and I kept worrying someone was going to recognize me from the show and punch me too.

An hour passes and I went back into the theater, once again I was near the middle of my row. Fortunately, this film was much better, even if that damned cough did return about a third of the way through.

There was another dull Q&A afterwards, and then I took the shuttle back to MICA. I tried getting a slice of pizza at Two Boots, but the line was too long so I took the train back to Baltimore Street. When I got off, I realized it was almost 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten since noon so I got a 6” sandwich and a cookie before heading back to the hotel.

When I got to the lobby I could see people getting off the elevator I had been on earlier and to my surprise it took me to my floor without issue. I opened the door to my room, threw my bag on the bed and prepared for a shower. As I took my shorts off, I noticed the seam had split slightly at the crotch so I threw them away making room in my bag for the item I didn’t buy. Whatever, I’d worry about that in the morning, but first I have a pair of reviews to write…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 2)

I got to the light rail stop on Baltimore Street around 4pm and when I got to the ticket vending machine I could hear an old black man singing Bob Marley slightly off key to himself coming up from my south. As I’m putting my money into the machine I can literally feel him breathing on my neck.

“Do you mind? I’m trying to do something here.”

“Ain’t no-one gettin’ yo way, I just here to collect my change from dat ‘chine chu at.”

“Could you at least find somewhere else to stand?”

“Wha day hell wrong wit chu, boy?”

Perfect, now I have to explain a disease I was never officially diagnosed with to someone who more than likely only “asked” that as an insult. I collect my ticket AND my change (since I had to get back somehow) from the tray and crossed over to the northbound track as my “friend” ranted on.

“Bah,” he said waving his hand dismissively as he continued up the street. “Nah wooomah nooo cryyyyy.”

The train arrives. I get off at Mt Royal and head into the Barnes & Noble where I accidently insulted the barista working there while trying to make small talk. I try to come up with a way to apologize and/or explain when the manager appears, and asks what I want to drink. When I tell her, she cuts me off with a giant smirk saying:

“Decaf? Oh darn, we are compleeeetely out of decaffeinated beans. Looks like you’ll have to go SOMEWHERE ELSE for your beverage! Sorry about that, have a nice day.”

“Yes, I will,” I said ignoring her retaliatory display.

We BOTH knew there is no such thing as “decaffeinated beans,” but I might as well let her think she “won.”

Besides, my film was in 20 minutes, I could just head to the venue and find a seat…which was a pretty good idea as said screening was nearly sold out (something I take partial credit for). Fortunately, it was only an hour long and I found myself in the shortest Chipotle line I’d ever encountered in Baltimore.

With that formality out of the way, it was time to get back (yes, the room was turned this time) and hammer out my thoughts on my second film and rewrite the review from this morning. This was going to be a long night…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Bolton Hill, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 1)

Note: I missed the first full day of the Maryland Film Festival due to a delayed flight. I was supposed to see my first show at 7:15 that evening, but I didn’t land at BWI until 9:45pm so my coverage is a tad abbreviated – particularly since it was cheaper to leave on Sunday (actual last day of the festival) rather than Monday.

 

I found the tent village at 10:05am after dealing with a disappointing breakfast in the hotel restaurant and a particularly demanding – and entitled – homeless woman at the Circulator stop on Fayette St. If I had time, I would have stopped at the McDonald’s next to the village and gotten a REAL breakfast, but I was there to get tickets not to eat.

Tickets prices have gone up since my last visit from $10 up to $12, but there was a “3 for $30” promotion that I didn’t notice until after I already purchased my FOUR tickets. Though I will say the volunteer at the festival tent was friendly even if I had to explain to her the times and venues to her so she could explain them back to me. How do I keep getting into these stupid sitcom-like situations anyway?

I arrived at the Walters Art Museum about a half hour before my first movie was set to start and took 15 minutes to write down everything that happened to me today before putting away my notebook and heading inside to the auditorium…just to find the film would be “delayed” (not the word I wanted to hear) due to “minor technical difficulties.”

The program, started about 10 minutes behind schedule, but since there was no “host” the film started immediately. I won’t get into my thoughts on the film here, but I fell asleep twice during its 104 minute runtime.

I walked down Charles St towards the Inner Harbor looking for someplace to have a nice lunch. I didn’t want fast food or a food truck, but an actual sit down meal so I was disappointed when the time on the check from Pizzeria Uno was only “1:37pm” – I still had nearly three hours until my next movie!

I took the Circulator back to the hotel, but the room wasn’t turned yet. I considered going down to the pool while waiting for housekeeping for come by, but it was too cloudy/breezy to swim so I stayed put and struggled through my first review until it was time to leave for my second screening.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, Station North, writing | Leave a comment

Orlando Apt Hunting: Day 1

My first tour of the day was at 1pm. I left the hotel immediately after lunch and found out that Google Maps gave the wrong directions right out of the gate. I spent almost 45 minutes trying to find a place that was only a 15 minute walk from the hotel.

“Wait,” the leasing agent said incredulously. “You WALKED here all the way from Disney? That’s impossible – that’s at least a 30 minute walk plus buses to anywhere else in the world!”

Congratulations, you lost your sale right there. However, I wasn’t about to waste a 45 minute walk so I dutifully continued my tour. The unit (which I was told was the “only one available”) was small – literally half the size of my current unit in Baltimore – and at the very back of a pretty if sprawling complex.

I return to the hotel and try to check my e-mail, but I couldn’t connect to the free in-room wi-fi service. So I go downstairs to the lobby and set up an appointment for later that afternoon. I went back upstairs and fell asleep prolly from all the walking in the shade-less heat.

The next apartment I toured wasn’t all that hard to find – it was directly across the street from the hotel village. This unit wasn’t huge either, but it was considerably larger than the one I toured 3hrs ago. It had a large screened-in porch (it was on the ground level), a small kitchen and a walk-in master closet that was about a third the size of the one I have in Baltimore.

I thank the owner for his time, and head back across the street. This time I was able to connect to wi-fi so I checked if there were any new ads posted. There were – TWO of them at the complex I toured this morning. Both of them are “available now.” This means the agent means either the agent lied to me…or he’s lying to other prospective tenants – both scenarios are pretty bad.

Categories: apartment hunting, florida, Orlando, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

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