Flash Fiction: History

History

“I had not expected you to be here, sir.” I said and I wanted to leave him to his moment of solitude, a moment which he would have seldom time to enjoy.

He was standing near the balcony overlooking the boulevard that was in front the house.

He was his usually tall self, slender to the point of wiry and holding a cigarette. The one that was kept from the public eye, because smoking was bad now and it was something that could be used against him, even though the elections were still few years away.

“Don’t leave..please join me for a moment.” He said.

I walked over to him and we both stared out of the window, looking at people and cars on the street. Small figures in the distance. The sky was losing the redness of the dusk and the black of the night was taking over.

“There will be no stars tonight.” He remarked.

“No sir. It is going to rain.”

He nodded.

“I have not seen you before.”

“No sir. My name is Claire Redmond and it would have been unlikely that you would have seen me otherwise.”

“Oh? How so?”

“We are not encouraged to.” I said.

 “Meaning you are told to avoid me.”, he laughed.

“That would be one way to say it, mister President.”

He nodded.

“What is it that you do, Claire?”

“I am a historian, mister President.” I said, “You might also call me record keeper. I write down what happens here.”

“Ah, you make history.”

“I would say you make history and I write it down.”

“That might be one way of putting it.” He smiled.

“It is unavoidable, being who you are.”

He nodded.

“Ever wondered about that, mister president?”

“About me making history?” He squeezed his eyes, sucked on his cigarette and was silent for a moment.

“Whenever I see a movie about a president, like one about Kennedy or Nixon, I think about it. But when I am in the midst of it I often forget,  but sometimes I feel it:  this is a historic moment, but that is just a small moment among all the other moments. It somehow becomes normal.”

“And was this a historic moment? One where you have this melancholic moment where you stare out over the city to make a decision about bombing a country or not?”

“I was just enjoying a cigarette.” He smiled.

“Pity. It would have made a nice historic movie moment, mister president.”

“It would have.”

“Maybe I could alter history a little bit and make this a historic moment, for the benefit of us both?”

“You would willing write yourself into history?” He said.

“A historians privilege.”

“I would have to make a decision first, though.”

“True, but even not making one could be a historic moment.”

“Sounds like a done deal then.”

“If I was narcissistic enough.”

“And you are not?”

“No mister president. I am historian.. not a politician.” And I gave him my best smile to cushion the shock.

He laughed, even with his eyes.

Henry and Kristl tried to bury Knight of the Dead

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“Why don’t we shave your head?” Kristl asked Henry while she made a shaving gesture with her hands.

“What?” Henry backed away from her.

“Bald man are hot these days!”

“You mean bald ugly men.”  Henry gave Kristl a look of revulsion.

“At least he got to do the girl in the cave.” Kristl smiled.
“What has gotten into you! You on too much testosterone pills these days or what?”

“Just saying…”

“Just say it someplace else. Or inaudible.”

“Alright. Just you know.. I thought  that you.., being a man.., would have liked to..”

“Do you think I stand a better chance when I am bald?”
“And surrounded by flesh eating zombies (are there any other kind?)”

“Ah.”

“And in a cave.”

“Right.”

“Cause that is what got them all hot and bothered in the movie.”

“Right.”

“After you see all your fellow knights being shredded by zombies or turn into them and you end up with the only woman in the story your thoughts automatically turn to sex the moment you are alone with her in a cave. Just the right aphrodisiac: zombies and caves.”

“Enough! Let’s get discuss the other parts of the movie. Like the cinematography. Did you like the way they shot it and the color scheme?”

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“I liked the landscapes. There were some pretty great sights, but they bled the colors from the scenes too much if you ask me. Grey can be strong mood making color. But all the time? I would have added some colors just for diversity. Like sometimes a colorful plant in a grey landscape can have a strong surreal effect.”

“Yeah.. I liked the sights too. Also I liked the companions of the main guy. like that axe wielding guy. He looks interesting. And the introductory part  of the movie is captivating. What would you call it? An animation?” Henry said.

“It was more like stills, but that part made it interesting for me to.”

“You know what is odd.. I didn’t know it was about zombies. It had this moment of insight when I read the title: knight of the dead. I thought.  ‘of the dead’, that is the way those zombie movies are called.”

“I had not thought of it either. I thought it was more about plague victims being scary. Like the first girl they meet. She is a plague victim, I thought, and they had to put her down because she went crazy because of the illness.”

“In hindsight. Would you have watched it if you had known?”  Henry asked Kristl.

“I am not sure. There are too many zombie movies around. They get a bit lame. And a zombie movie set in the middle ages with knights could provide a new angle if properly handled, but to be honest, there is not much of anything special in this movie and as a zombie flick it lacks the horror and tension to keep it interesting. It is more like a group of knight wander aimlessly through a grey landscape for no apparent reason and get assaulted by very slow moving zombies and some guys that have a pick on them.” Kristl said.

“Yeah.”

“Which brings us to the story and those other people chasing the knights. I really had no idea what it was about or why they chased those knights. In fact, I got the feeling they did not even know themselves.”

“What I found strange is that they kept on fighting each other after they were fully aware that they were being chased and surrounded by zombies. I do not know about you, but I would rather work together to get out than fight you.” Henry said.

“It is a bit of a missed opportunity perhaps? They could have put together a group of unlikely people who have to get together to get out alive. Then the tension in the group between the people could be a factor. ”

“Yeah.. but nothing of that.”

“So, to wrap things up,  what did we like about it?” Henry asked.

“I would say the landscapes and imagery. And some of the fighters looked cool. Even some of the fights were ok.”

“And the bald guy had a nice smile.” Kristl admitted.

“Oh. having cave feelings?”

“You mean, smiling in a cave?”

“Uhuh.” Henry nodded his head, “Sounds like the title of song.”

“Maybe one day..”

“See.”

“When surrounded by zombies… then… who knows.. I can force myself to smile.” Kristl smiled.

And Henry smiled to.

Knight of the dead 3

Pictures taken from the movie in their original color scheme.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2798680

Henry and Kristl turned Red: Werewolf hunter (2010)

Stills from Red: Werewolf hunter(2010)
Stills from Red: Werewolf hunter(2010)

“Red.”  Henry said. He had slightly raised his voice because he liked to shake up Kristl. Sometimes he suspected her of nodding off, so he felt at obliged to wake her up. He could do no less.

“Yes?” Kristl sat up..

“And everyone is dead.” Henry continued.

“Quite dead..except for Red herself.”

“Even her lover gets killed in the end, by herself no less. Poor Red.”  Henry said.

“I wonder where that kid comes from that sits on her lap at the end scene.” Kristl said, “I wonder many things. Like why make another werewolf movie?”

“That is simple. It is circle of movies. Vampires, werewolves and zombies. One after the other. We have had a vampire hype, we have zombie hype, we will probably see a werewolf hype.”

“And so on. Werewolves do get to be a bit boring, but at least they tried to add some different take to the story. I liked it that Red was not a such a tough chick with no feelings and they added this complication in that her lover was also turned into a werewolf against his will.”

“Yeah, but the low budget made it suffer. I mean when it came down to the combat scenes and showing the werewolves themselves it became quite crappy, especially in those scenes were the werewolves change shape.” Henry felt the stubs on his jaw.

“You had a rough night?” Kristl remarked.

“Yeah.. stayed up late.”

“And drank too much.”

“That too.”

“So was the movie enjoyable, considering the state you are in?”

“Well sort of. It did feel like a rip off from underworld, but a lame one.” Henry said.

“Yeah. And there was nothing remarkable about how it was filmed. I even had the feeling it was a seventies or eighties movie, but it is made in 2010.”

“There are a few nice scenes, like when she was a little girl see a werewolf attack her mother while Red is hiding up in the attic. Or when she walks into the forest clocked in a red blanket. Or wakes up after having slept in the leaves on the forest floor.” Kristl added, “Still the movie falls short in everything. For instance there is a strong reference to Little Red Riding Hood and the movie starts out like a modern version, but this is never referenced or used in any fashion. The romance is wooden and stale. And nothing is done with fact that Red is actually an FBI agent.

“And except for a few scenes, the whole cinematography technique of this movie is just sloppy. Like back lighting in the woods is a strong green hue. It is not scary, it just plain odd.”

“But it isn’t too bad a movie.” Henry said.

“Maybe not. If they had just a tad more budget, cut down on the cgi and had the actors act better it might have been decent, now it is just a less-than-decent movie.”

“A time waster really.”

“Good you had your fun yesterday.”

“Yeah, lame movies are good for recovering from hangovers.” Henry nodded his head, then regretted it.

“And to take a nap.”  Kristl said, “You miss nothing when you do.”

“Right.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1626201/

Cobra, Hundertwasser, Schuiten & Peeters and popular art

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We were at the Cobra museum last Sunday(15 September) because we wanted to see Hundertwasser. It was also a way to have a look at what the museum has to show for we had not been there for years. Cobra used to be an art movement that was active between 1948 and 1951. However it has had more influence than the shortness of the life span of movement suggests. The museum is created to collect and present the art works associated with the art movement. It also shows works that influenced the art of Cobra and the art it influenced.  It is located in one the suburbs of Amsterdam. It’s not a very big museum and the surrounding area is nothing to write home about, but it’s easy to access from the nearby highway.

I wanted to write a short post about it, because I am still looking for a style that will fit my pictures better.

Hundertwasser-building

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We knew Hundertwasser mostly from his buildings. Like the one on the picture to the top. A colorful scheme in which the straight line is broken.

That was his thing. He did not like a straight line because a straight line he associated with conformity.  So he rebelled against it by refusing to use a straight line in his works.

At the Cobra museum we saw some of his earlier works. Works without a straight line. Here are some examples.

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Personally I am not touched by this art. It is something that does nothing for me.. However my companion liked it very much. So much even that she bought a poster of one of the paintings and hung it on her wall. I don’t have a picture of that particular painting but it is similar to the one’s a above.

I think the style looks better as architecture than as a painting although it might make people edgy when everything is done in that same style. Incidentally, talking about doing everything in the same style: my brother used to have a few graphic novels whose stories took place in imaginary cities that were done wholly in one kind of architectural style. These novels were called Les cites obscures and made by Francois Schuiten en Benoit Peeters. They have been translated into English as Cities of the Fantastic.  This English translation is a bit off in my opinion as the original French title is more sinister in sense. Which is more proper as there was something uncanny about the stories.

Below is picture of the first book called the Walls of Samaris.

samaris003

So what are you looking at?

This is the scene at the end and show what the main character sees after he has escaped Samaris. The city does not really exist as city. Instead it is kind of trap. The unsuspecting visitor enters the city and then the city is created around him from moving panels who move over the tracks you see in the picture. In the story the hero even meets the inhabitants who turn out to be as fake as the city. It is never clear what they really are and why this city does it, but it can’t be benign as people who visit Samaris disappear.  The hero eventually becomes suspicious and breaks out.  But the story does not finish there. The ending is even more sinister than that.

You can find an extensive explanation of the story here http://sequart.org/magazine/3494/the-walls-of-samaris-a-classic-french-comic-you-probably-havent-read/

Next a few other pages made by Francois Schuiten, who made the pictures.  Peeters was the writer.  The mechanical city of Samaris with it’s straight lines is actually a menacing entity.   See the straight lines in the picture below.  The hero wanders through the narrow streets with tall buildings looming overhead that have all been done in a (neo)classical style.   Straight lines dominate the visuals. It reminds me of Venice.

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SchuitenSamarisSm

The second picture shows the hero’s hometown. It is done wholly in Jugendstil or Art Deco. Curvy lines mostly.  It is fascinating to see how the visuals are used to enhance the story.  Which is a very strong point in this series, although many might find it strange or unsettling.

Notice that the clothes are also done in the same style. They tried to capture the Jugendstil essence and turn it into clothing. And this brings me back to Hundertwasser.

I read somewhere that Hundertwasser is getting to be more popular. And thus high art becomes popular art and thus becomes part of every day live.   And perhaps that is the greatest tribute? Who wouldn’t want his art depicted on a shawl?  At least there is not one straight line in it so Hundertwasser can be happy.

 

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Since I am not much of a fan off Hundertwasser I end this post with one more example of the work from Schuiten. Enjoy!

Benoît-Peeters-©-F-S-Sto

Henry and Kristl dwell on Dune(2000)

“So that was Dune.” Henry said with a wry smile. Halfway through the movie they had started a game of backgammon and followed the series in a half hearted way. Then they had enjoyed a Chinese- Indonesian take out diner. Kristl had suggested to order it as it was her time to cook and she had given up on cooking some years ago because she her interpretation of a meal seemed to differ from the tastes of others.
Kristl nodded.
“It was funny. I mean it almost looked like the movie of Lynch, but with lesser actors, lame dialog and fake landscapes. It was funny but because there is already a movie the series seems a bit superfluous.”

“Yes.. it is.” Kristl said.

“But we watched it.” Henry said.

“Some movies are very nice as background imagery. You just can follow the whole thing even if you fail to see parts of it. Dune is like that.” Kristl nodded.

“So what is this?” Henry pointed at a white plastic container.

“It is called babi pangang. Just eat it. I’ll mention what was in it after wards.”

“Not something like monkey flesh or insect bodies?” Henry shuddered.

“No, it’s mundane.” Kristl shook her head.

“Anyway, what was your favorite scene?” Henry asked.

“Not so much a scene.. more I found the clothes the princess was dressed in pretty. She had the proper figure for these fashion dresses. Same with the emperor. So it’s not a particular scene, but more how they were dressed.”

“Strange to hear that from you. I would not have figured looks were something that interested you.” Henry looked Kristl up and down. What he saw was a woman in her mid forties wearing fade jeans trouser, heavy combat boots and a leather jacket that resembled one of those that were the fashion in the eights. Kristl, so Henry thought, has never gone beyond the punk of the eighties.. Fashion wise she was frozen or retro, because everything became retro after a while.

“The fact I look like left over punker from the eighties, does not mean I have no eye for beauty and fashion. I can not wear it, but I can enjoy looking at it.” Kristl laughed, “But what was your memorable scene?”

“The moment the Harkonnen baron was poisoned by that little girl. It was funny to see the surprised look on his face.” Henry laughed and then made gargled sounds.

“It is interesting you mention a girl doing that. Because I was not really impressed with the story and specifically with the role of women in the movie.”

“Ah. Not impressed means usually that you were offended.”

“That is a good description. The women in the movie have about two roles. Women either are helpless creatures good for breeding or they are backstabbing schemers not above sleeping with someone just to gain an advancement.“

“Ah.”

“So, no I was not impressed by the whole. But how did you like the story, Henry?” Kristl said
“It was okay, nothing remarkable. I liked the idea of the spice. If I am correct that spice is important because space travel over vast distances at great speed can only be accomplished by using spice because it allows you to see into the future. That is something I remember. It is actually not really mentioned in that series, only that without it you can’t travel in space. What do you think?”

“I think that if the story of the books resembles that of the movie in general outlook then it is a tacky badly written story. Let’s take the overall idea: there is an emperor that for reasons unknown puts the noble house Atreides in charge of the single most important planet in the universe, yet he fears the growing influence of those same Atreides to the point that he helps the Harkonnen in regaining the planet through bloody murder and open warfare. What is even more surprising is that the influence and respect that the Atreides have among the houses seems not to translate itself into any noticeable form of power.

And then this whole Harkonnen plot is visibly condoned by the emperor and secretly supported by him, but that does not seem to have any repercussion for him or for the Harkonnen.
Everything is contrived and would not work in reality. And while I can accept a certainly liberty for a story, it remains reality that determines what is likely to work or not. Fantasy, however pushed it its limits, is limited by reality.”

“But everything is just unbelievable. The good guys are very good and the bad guys are very bad. And then these fremen are so nonsensical with their system of killing each other of to establish a ruler. It is utter nonsense because no system like that can work. There has never been a society like that because such a society would rip itself apart and the fact that someone is good in fighting does not mean that he(it is always a he) is also good in making decisions or in any other skill that you require to lead a community. Therefore it is overall a badly written nonsensical story.”

“Hmm.. Lucky it is just a story.” Henry said

“Yes, it is.”

“And this series is just superfluous?”

“Yes, you can watch the movie instead.. it is a lot shorter and better acted and so on and as nonsensical as this series. “

“Hah”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142032/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

Signs of Life: affluence

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“I used to get off the train here.”  She nodded her head towards the platform. She was sitting on one of the folding chairs that were fixed to the side of the train wagon. She had asked to sit down, because she said she was  wobbly in the morning. I could imagine she was as she was a very tall and slender girl walking on heels that made her even frailer. Her ankles seemed almost too thin to handle the stress her body put on them. .

“Oh.. not anymore? It did not go well?” Her companion said. She was a much smaller and more broader girl in build. She had long black hair that fell over her shoulders, glasses with a thick frame and a pink knitted cap. She was standing and holding to a pole to keep her steady against the movement of the train.

“I did finish the internship, but I was glad to leave.. it wasn’t a fun job.”

“Because of the patients?”

“More the work environment. I didn’t get any proper guidance. The school just told me to go there and I had to join in without any proper supervision or introduction. They were too busy because they were too short on people. “

“Must have been hard then.”

“It was, but mostly because they seldom told me what to expect. I think they couldn’t even because anything could happen at any time of the day. No day is the same in psychiatric healthcare…”

“I bet.”

“..Some could be nice at one moment and cruel the next. Depressive silent at one time and screaming their heads off at another. ”

“It is probably much easier where I work.. Elderly people are much easier to handle.”

“Yeah, unless they are demented. They can be as unpredictable as those inmates of the psychiatric hospital. Even to each other. There was once this fight we had to intervene. One wanted to escape all the time and one day she was screaming from a window. One of the others came and hit her. They started to fight. Slapping and scratching each other. A catfight.. “ She laughed.

“Sad though. Did nobody intervene?”

“We did, but it took some time before we knew what was going on because we just don’t have enough people to do all the work. Like we don’t even have time to help them shower or bathe every day.. Some even get angry at that. Calling us names. Hitting us.”

“Oh my.”

“Yeah, awful. I wish it was otherwise.”

“It is the same with us.. not enough people to get everything done. Like they fired a lot of the kitchen staff to save costs. Now people get basic meals..Very basic.” She seemed to shuddered at the thought.

“It is the same where I work now. I work with homeless people. There is just enough money for a basic meal. We focus on keeping the rooms clean, but they need new paint and a lot needs to be fixed or replaced. The television broke down the other week, so we invent games or other activities for them to do so they can socialize a bit.”

“You’ll have to do whatever you can do.”

The tall girl nodded.

“So any idea where you are going to work when you finished school?”

“I think I’ll try working with mentally disabled people. They can be selfish and nasty, but they are also very sweet at the time and funny. And I seem to get along with them well. And what about you?”

“I haven’t yet decided for myself. There is a need everywhere, but never enough money. ”

For some time they were silent. The movement of the train shaking us about.  Everyone retreated into their own shells, thinking their own thoughts or listening to their own music with their private headsets in the morning train that would transfer them from the reality of home to the reality of work or school.

“I wonder if there has been a time when it was different.” I wanted to remark.

Was there a time when there were enough people and there was enough money for everyone. I couldn’t recall such a time and I was twice their age.  It is strange considering we have now seven billion people on this planet and this is probably the most affluent period in the history of the world. Yet it seems that after the eighties everything went downhill?

Perhaps I should ask my mother?

She would need that help soon enough.

Avatars: Sunny

I once had an avatar  in Second Life called Sunny. She was often black skinned. I deleted her a while ago, but because of changes in my life I recreated her.

I would not have really made a post about this picture, but I wanted to just talk a bit about it because I managed more or less to capture her being as wanted to.

Sunny was probably the most sweetest of my avatars. This needs a bit of explanation because most people have not like me had different avatars with different personalities.

I have had various one’s because I felt a desire to find out what works or works not. Merit is my most driven avatar and most opinionated. As such rubs people the wrong way, which is almost an inevitable consequence of being brash and opinionated. Sunny was probably the opposite, not so much in not having an opinion, but in the way she expressed them. Because she never forced her opinions on others.

Anyway.. I wanted to capture her on a picture and these are the pictures and I think I succeeded well. There is however a slightly difference. Sunny would never had the tattoos. That is something very Merit like.

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Merit-sunny-2 copy