The walking dead videogame: interactive storytelling.

(This movie shows three key scenes.. if you do not like spoilers you should not watch after the first scene has ended. There is a red walking dead sign dividing the first and second scene.)

I was fortunate that I did not buy the video-game the walking dead. I was somewhat suspicious about it actually being a game, so I decided to find out what kind of game it  before buying it. You see, the maker of the game, tell-tale games. made and makes click adventures. Click adventures are the kind of games where you have to click on objects in the game to combine them so they can be used to make the game proceed. It is not my kind of game. In fact ever since  I played Zork way back I stopped playing those kind. I vaguely recall that I had to do something with a piece of string and a clay brick to open some kind of doorway. I think the piece of wire was meant to go into the clay, then the clay was made into a brick and the brick with string attached had to be put in a wall to open a secret door.

The walking dead game was exactly the kind of ‘game’ I expected it to be. So based on that conclusion it would not be very interesting for me. However I became fascinated by the game movies that one guy called the rad brad had made. I followed him playing this game from start to finish.  And it was clearly not a game but rather an interactive movie. The whole story line did progress along the same path regardless of what options the player choose.  Most of the options available were more to give the story a slightly different feel then make for a dramatic different game or create an complete different conclusion.

The game might be disappointing for people who want to play a game that gave them the option to make decisions that had important repercussions. However as a story it captured me even though it had it’s weak moments.

I was wondering what actually made the story work for me and after some pondering I figured that the most  crucial thing in the game is the relation between the main character Lee and  the little girl Clementine. Lee acts as Clementine’s replacement dad. It is therefore that I made a small movie showing two crucial moments in the game…the one where Lee and Clementine meet and the one were they part.  In addition it also shows you how the game ends.. So that is three scenes.

In addition to the central relationship in the story I have to name the voice acting as a impressive. The fact that the game makers stick to a simple story line seems to work well and most of the characters are believable people that you can identify with, care about, understand, suffer or perhaps even hate.  Unlike many characters is other movies and games where nobody really cares about them because they are not believable people. Lee, for instance, is the kind of guy I liked from the start as being a former teacher. Clementine is a kind of kid that you like.

Because I like pictures above typed text, let me go through some of the movie scenes and comment on a few scenes that makes this video game/movie stand out.

The walking dead opens with the skyline of Atlanta

The walking dead opens with the skyline of Atlanta and it is a link between the television series, comic and the game. That way people will know the setting. In a later post I will comment further on the interaction of thoughts, feels and the use of language and imagery to invoke stories. Above the picture   somehow I thought it read “A brand new day.” Note the beautiful blue sky and the sunny setting.  Interestingly.. while this is the skyline of Atlanta we do no go to it.. the story takes us away from it. In this manner a possible conflict can be avoided. Bye bye Atlanta.

The conversation between Lee and the cop.

The conversation between Lee and the cop is done partly via the rear view mirror. This way we can follow their expressions. It also underscores the relation between the two and will aid in setting up the scene where they have the accident. Note that setting is still pleasant. There will be message on the radio and police cars driving towards Atlanta. We know what is going to happen.

After the police car hits a zombie, it slips, crashes through this rail and ends up at the bottom of this slope.

After the police car hits a roaming zombie, it slips, crashes through this rail and ends up at the bottom of this slope. While this is a very unlikely occurrence (those rails can stop trucks) this makes for a very engaging shot from above. Note the corpse of the cop in the right top corner and the trails of blood that runs from the car to him. The shades and dark lights create for an ominous scene. The sunny happy mood has been replaced by gloom and creepy shadows. It is a cool way to make a picture. The look from above to below zooms out give an overview and also makes everything remote. Note that the darkness is on the edges. It creeps in from all sides.

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A shot from the car through the cracked window.. the dead cop catches the attention. To make us focus he is in the light and the rest is dark, with the darkness being at the edge of the picture.

Again the above shot is almost like a painting.. which perhaps it is. The low quality of the graphics is used to the advantage by changing it all into a more comic kind of style. I suspect it was a way how the makers had to deal with a technical limitation, yet kept the whole in style and interesting. Incidentally.. the original comic is done in black and white which is probably a way to save cost on having to color the pictures

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When Lee gets out the car he looks around and reaches down.. this gives the maker the change to create this upward shot where the light of the sky turns Lee into a silhouette. The sky is a sickly yellow.
Lee finds out that the cop is dead but still moving. It lunges for Lee. Lee crawls backwards until his escape is blocked by the car. This is just prior to him picking up the shotgun and killing the now zombie-cop. The camera is set at an angle and we look down upon Lee. This supports the feeling of fear, strangeness and confusion.
Lee escapes zombies that have been alerted by the gun shot by climbing over a fence.

After escaping from the zombies Lee finds himseft on the grounds of this suburban home. The shot is zoomed out which show us he is completely alone.. his shouting made me cringe. This will be used several times during the game. Someone shouting in an otherwise silent place. Did you notice the eerie yellow sky and gloom? In the distance it almost looks like there are yellow vapors rising from the ground.

Lee enters the nearby home.

When Lee enters the nearby house he moves from out of the light into the darkness. Again creating an eerie atmosphere. This is the home where he meets Clementine. As you can see this whole setup is deliberately. In the previous pictures it is dark as if the evening has fallen. Then the scene is changed to an eerie sick yellow color. Here the color outside is almost golden, while inside darkness is hiding unknown dangers.

The central working element in the game is the relation between Lee and Clementine.

The central working element in the game is the relation between Lee and Clementine. While the art could be better and is not that original as some people claim – it resembles that of other games and movies(Borderlands spring to mind) – the use of expressions and the voice acting coupled to the images make the story work. In fact it works better than many movies with real people.

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Lee crouches down and talks to Clementine. His fatherly caring attitude towards the frail girl shows him to be a gentle person. We care for this person because he cares for Clementine.
This is perhaps one of the most telling shots.. Lee taking Clementine by the hand to brave the unknown dangers of this zombie plagued world.
Another classic scene.
At the beginning of the game Lee meets Kenny.. the relation between Lee and Kenny is another important one in the game. Kenny is the other dad.. and his relation to his wife and his son is a mirror of that which Lee and Clementine have. Note that we will never see a scene in which Kenny talks to Clementine. His looks is that from a country guy or mechanic. This is a working class man(as opposed to Lee, who is a teacher.)
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Kenny’s wife Katjaa and their son Duck. Duck is an obnoxious brawny kid and almost the opposite of Clementine. As such he functions as a kind of lightning rod.
This is Lilly who leads the group of survivors that Lee and Clementine join.

Lilly is the leader who continuously struggles with her role. I am not sure how other people feel about her, but I think she was wrongly treated in the story line. She was obviously put in a role she felt uncomfortable with and she tried to do her best in a bad situation. Nobody, not even Lee, actually volunteers to take over her leadership role, yet she is keenly aware of unvoiced (imagined?) criticisms towards her own short comings. She has to make though decisions and at one moment during the game she makes Lee, who is the main potential challenge to her leadership, even if he does not want to, choose whom to feed. The makers of the game do something harsh towards her halfway into the series although  it is not out of character. This act makes her flee the group and thus leave the story.. although there is possibility she might return in  future episodes.

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Lilly’s father is an overbearing bitter person. His appearance supports this very well. He has a broken nose and a jutting jaw like he is some kind of street fighter (bully?).. It is also hinted at that he is a racist which explains his hostility towards Lee. At some point he warns Lee off to keep his hand away from his daughter, thus adding a sexual undercurrent to his dislike for Lee,
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This is Ben, like other characters in the story he seems to be in the game to supply the story with someone who can be written off at some point during the tale so that we keep being aware of how dangerous this world is.
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Molly appears in the last episode of the game and she as fast in as she is out. Without her wanting to she almost causes the group of survivors to be overwhelmed by zombies. She is a resource full athletic girl and one of the few people that survive. It is almost in her nature to survive.
Chuck, another survivor that has a small role in the story. His role seems mostly to make Lee aware that the world has changed forever and he needs to learn Clementine some basic things like.. firing a handgun. Skill we in a normal society would not want to teach to our children. His is the wise guy… even though he is portrayed as a hobo.
This picture invokes a strange scene. The group sits near a abandoned train out in the open. Chuck is playing music. It is explained before that the place is secluded and protected, yet with all the roaming zombies around one wonders why there is not one single guard.. on the top of train for instance?

As a story element the above scene creates a placid scene. The sky is blue and it almost looks like they are sitting around a campfire as if on holiday. Not even someone on guard. Which might be a deliberate move. A guard would spoil this ideal camping picture.  Note that nobody seems to change clothes throughout the game, except for Kenny, who switches t-shirts..

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Another set of picture that show the interaction between Lee and Clementine. He explains her that she has to cut her hair because zombies could grab it. Later Lee learns her to shoot.

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The group enters the city of Savannah. The place of hope. Note the sunny colors..
While zombies are a constant threat in the background the game does not overdo it. It uses them appropriately. In this scene the previously empty streets of Savannah are suddenly filled with zombies because Molly uses bells to lure them away. She is however unaware of the group of survivors entering the town. As consequence she lures the zombies right towards them. From a technical angle this image shows the limits of the game as well. The avatars have been lightened but they do not match up to the surrounding lighting and they cast no shadows where other things do. As such they almost look like they have been cut out and pasted into the scene.

Another use of colors in the above two scenes. When the group enters the city of Savannah.. the scene is set as if it is a nice summers day.. when the zombies arrive.. the colors are turned to dark and threatening. It is one of the ways to underscore the mood…

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The game at various moments shows us empty streets that are suddenly filled with zombies. It is one of these weaker features in the story. Why would zombies linger in the houses to sudden erupt into the street? Because it is story wise more exciting and.. it is probably also a limitation of the game.

Note the sky above this scene.. bad things are about to happen….

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During one of the moments in the game a hunting party send out by the group finds three other survivors.

This scene is cast in an almost pleasant like forest view. In this case the dark threatening colors are no used.. because the sunray that shines into the clearing makes for a nice contrast with the next scene.. The light guides our view towards the center..

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One has been caught in a trap while zombies close with the group they frantically try to release the trapped survivor.

Zombies shamble towards the group…

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There are tough moments in the game like these where you have to choose whom to feed. Curiously enough the whole food issue is never mentioned again.
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More issues.. this girl is about to be overwhelmed by zombies.. your can choose to kill her or hope she makes it, but it is obvious from the situation that she has not a shadow of chance to get out alive.

The above scene with the dark clouds that seem threatening is the stage for this little drama.. you have to either see her killed by the zombies or you have kill her yourself. Watching this scene gives me a sad shocked feeling. I know what is going to happen.. You can see she must have been through a rough time with her being dirty… she almost looks like a zombie at this point, and you can see the desperation on her face. He looking as a zombie creates this feel that she has been in the pit.. tries to escape.. Lee and Kenny are near.. yet within sight of salvation they can not help her..and only kill her quickly to spare her an agonizing death…

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More tough choices. The camera is set low so that it show the kid in the middle and the gun in the foreground.

This camera is set low.. so we are at eye level with the kid.. the two grown-ups loom over the dead kid.. It is a classic scene of a vulnerable kid being at the mercy of two strong grown-ups.. The gun illustrates this to a point.. If we did not know from the story-line this might be even interpreted in another way. This is one of the things about a story.. like a house it is made up out of smaller parts that give it context and meaning.. Context and meaning that could be changed by changing the constituent parts of the story.

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Tough moments like these abound.. you can choose to rescue Ben or not. There is a reason you might want to drop him.. which is why the choice is not easy.

The camera shot is marvelous: the one hand holding Ben, the zombies roaming below and climbing the stairs. The darkness creeps in from all sides.. again.

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Almost at the very end we discover what happened to the Clementine’s parents.

This last scenes are done in a stark dark color. We are in the pit of darkness…

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Halfway during the story the group find this train blocking the road.
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The survivors get the train to work. It brings them to Savannah where they hope to escape by boat.

This is the scene of Savannah just before the group enters the town..They travel towards the sun.. the bringer of light, warmth and hope.

Yellow dust hangs over this scene and obscures the zombies.. suggesting there are a lot of them. If you look closer you will see that there are not that many there..
Lee hangs out of the train.. the group barely escaped this horde of zombies. You could swap the zombies for any other kind of pursuit.. it is the classic.. we got away! scene.
One of the final scenes…It could be dusk or dawn..but the landscape signifies a change of state. Considering it was dark before.. this must be dawn..

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

nightmare copy

“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.

Signs of life: the last voyage

The last voyage
The last voyage

She caught my attention because she was so there: standing tall with her arms folded in front of her chest and her defiant gaze that seemed to say to everyone around her: ‘I dare you, I dare you  to say something about it, I  dare you to assume; dare to conclude, to judge’.

He was wearing shades, a black jacket on blue jeans and a big brown leather bag that made him lean sideways.  He was next to her, but also behind her at the same time. Like he neither wanted to be next to her nor following her, while she didn’t want him to be either and certainly not in front of her. So she paced with long steps to keep ahead of him and he had to keep up dragging his heavy load. A reluctant chase.

Suddenly she halted a few meters further on the platform, making him stop as well after a minimum exchange of words. The bag thudded on the concrete. I  imagined it  to be bursting with voluminous books containing hundreds of pages made out of frail paper filled with miniscule lines. Like a pocket bible. Books filled with all the words they would ever need, but would never say to each other if they could help it. Words that would no longer see the light of day.

He turned towards a bicycle shop that was at one side of the raised platform and a few meters lower. He lifted the shades to put them on the top of his head and then put his hands in his pockets to stare at the rows upon rows of cycles inside the shop.

She looked the other way, with her back to the shop and staring at nothing in particular because she was mostly focused on looking away from him. Her arms were still folded in front of her chest.

When the train stopped she moved towards the doors  without giving him one look. He put on his shades, lifted the bag and followed her. When the doors opened they both stepped inside at the same time. Just before she was inside she stopped for a brief moment and gave me this intense gaze. There was a bit of defiance in it, but also – deeper – a sense of resignation. A resignation about  having to put up with someone you want to be miles away from, but you had to be with for this one trip. Just for this one last trip.

 

Mei

Mei was in a shemale bar.

Mei is the name I give to my little sister. I could have thought of a better name than Mei, but I decided to call her like that because we agreed to hide her real name and I wanted to show somehow that she is my little sister. So I looked up what little sister was in Chinese and it was Mei Mei. Mei sounded like an apt name, because in Dutch it is the month May, which is the month in which nature blossoms. A joyful month therefore. And little sister is much like that.

So Mei was in a shemale bar.

She is like that: she visits places we read about, but never go to. Mei is easy in many ways, especially in accepting other people’s habits. Unless those habits hurt people. Mei doesn’t like it when people get hurt.

Shemales are a curious group of people, mostly because  people tend to confuse them with transgenders. To explain something about them, I have to tell what I think a shemale is. I accept the fact that many people might not agree with me.

Shemales are men who behave and look like women and often have had surgery that made them more female. For instance: they have often breasts. However they always retain their manly bits.

Transgenders are people who want to be the other gender. Sometimes transgenders look like shemales because they are  physically in transition, but that is usually a temporary and unwanted state of affairs.

Shemales want to a be in that in between state.

 

So Mei was in a shemale bar looking at some of the shemales dancing on the poles. Mei doesn’t get excited about people dancing on poles, but she likes to talk and pole dancers have to chat to their customers as part of their job description so the chatting was easy and free of charge..

There were also a few other customers in the bar.. One who expressed that she had some trouble with her computer. Her name was Isa and Mei offered to help her, because Mei knows a few things about computers. She doesn’t want to let people know that, because she finds it boring and before you know it people think you are a computer expert.

With Mei’s help they got the problem sorted and then they chatted about other things like:  ‘‘where are you from?’ , ‘what do you do?’  and ‘would you like to dance?’

Mei likes to dance so she said yes and they danced, chatted, kissed, cuddled and did things that people who are attracted to each other do.  And much to Mei’s surprise Isa was actually a shemale.  You could say Mei was falling in love and Isa seemed to be falling in love with her.. Soon they discovered that hours had passed and they were planning to find a place to live together and have kids. And all of this in just one night.

The next day Mei woke up elated. She was sure she would see Isa again soon, although they had not talked to about meeting each other the next day. She knew a small place that she might be able to rent. It was a very small tropical island that was just enough for two people to live upon. She knew of it’s existence because her older sister had rented it once.

Mei visited the place and although it was not available, there was another small island that was.. She decided against renting it at once because she wanted to know  if Isa liked it.

While Mei was really happy, she also felt doubt creep in. And when she thought some more about it, she realized that she would be required to give up her whole happy-go-lucky lifestyle she had led the past few years. Mei decided that Isa and she needed to know each other better before she rushed into a long term commitment.

Mei send Isa an enthusiastic mail telling her that she had found a place and that she hoped all was well with Isa and ended the mail telling Isa that Mei loved her.

After a few days Mei had not received an answer from Isa. In fact she had heard nothing from Isa at all.

Now Mei became worried and she decided to go to her old sister Nali for advice. Unfortunately  Nali was not the right person to ask, because she had been in a bad relation and mostly because the other in that relation did not keep her appointments. Nali remembered days of herself waiting for hours on her date to appear, sometimes she waited in vain. So Nali advised Mei to stop the relation before it even started if Isa did not bothered to answer Mei.

A few days later Mei got an answer from Isa. Isa wrote that she was busy due to the holidays(it was around Christmas) and would come and see Mei three days later. That was all she said,

Mei felt hurt. Isa had not answered her for almost a whole week and when she had done so the answer was very business-like. Now she was getting second thoughts.. She was going to give up her life for someone who apparently was not as enthusiastic as Mei thought she was. This made Mei write Isa an angry mail saying that the moment was passed and she was already seeing someone else, because she assumed Isa had lost interest in her by  not answering her first mail within a week.

Mei never got a reply from Isa on that mail. Mei did not dwell too much on what had happened though. She felt sad for a few days, but unlike her older sister Nali she was not one that would hide herself from the world and grief in silence. Instead she went into town to party and soon forgot what had happened.

A year later Mei was looking through her mail to find a mail from a friend when she found a mail from Isa. It had been send half a year after they had met and somehow she had missed it.. It was a very short mail. Isa asked if Mei wanted to be friends again and she ended with a please.

It made Mei feel sad -actually it gave her tears-  that she had missed the mail from Isa and thus had not been able to reply to her. In hindsight she felt that she should have given Isa at least the chance to explain herself. So Mei decided to answer the half year old mail and tell her she would be happy to be friends again.

Until this day Mei never received an answer.

Mei told me this and I wrote it down.I don’t know why I did other than that I found it a sad tale that might have had another ending. Perhaps also because I very much like my little sister.

 

Little sister, part 1

The red of dusk flowed into my room and  streamed over his almost naked body.The light came in from the only window in the room. It was facing the door I had entered.

The walls, now mostly  hidden in shades, seemed to be made out of large stone slabs which had been painted with a broken white. Somehow I got the feeling I was inside the room of a cottage or farm. There was a dark wooden table with a small lamp and a telephone to my left, a tall mirror on the left hand wall, a chair in front of me made of shining metal tubes and dark leather, a large dark wooden closet against the right hand wall.

In front of me was a bed with him on it. I now saw that his manly features were hidden by a towel strategically draped over his loins. I  barely glanced at him and then walked to the mirror, put down two shopping bags i held in my hands and then the shoulder bag. I looked into the mirror to see who I was.

The best way to describe myself was starting from below and then go up. I was wearing high heels with a leopard pattern. The heels made me my legs look long and fragile as if I was going to break an ankle if I miss stepped. I wore a short sheath skirt with the same leopard pattern as  the heels had and above the skirt I was wearing a wide loose pink shirt with a cross stitched on the front in the same type of leopard pattern.The sleeves reached over the palms of my hands. All my fingers had long nails and golden rings; the little fingers having even two. I had a necklace made out of oblong shaped pieces of wood and gold.. My face was riddled with what looked like piercings, although I suspected they were not. There were two round ones, the size of a small coin just below either side of the end of my lips. There were several around my mouth,  on my nose and on the bridge of my nose and two very small coin shaped ones on my brows. I had two ear pieces made up from the same wood and metal as my necklace. My hair was short, but long on top. The area around the neck and lower part of my head was shaven upwards and colored in with red and black. The top hair was dyed blond and brushed to the right side of my head.

The man on the bed did not say anything. He was laying on one side. His upper body held upright with the aid of his arm. His eyes, brown I expected, followed me about, he was expecting something, but with not with a nervous expression, rather it was a calm expression.

When I sat down in the chair the leather creaked a little. Sitting there I Iooked at him, letting my gaze meander over his body. He was deeply tanned, but not too much, healthy, but not too muscled. Shaven. Curly hair, not too long. I expected him to be a mulatto, but his features were mostly hidden by the glow from the sun.

Although I suspect I would not have needed to, I did put my a finger to my lips telling him to remain silent. I saw that my nails had not only long but painted black with leopard patterned crosses on them.

We sat there for a few minutes, while I kept my face blank and he kept his face expressionless as well. I wonder if I was sexually stunted, because I did not feel any excitement.

I took the telephone from the desk and called reception.

“How may I help you, miss Coba?”

“If I am correct there is a woman sitting in the lobby who has the following description. She has long brown hair and is dressed in a simple black silk gown. She is wearing simply golden jewelry.  She is tanned, caucasian and has either brown or blue eyes.”

“There is indeed someone like that in the lobby.”

“Tell her she can come up.”

“I will.”

A few minutes later she arrived. I had in the meantime removed my heels.

She glanced at me, then passed me by quickly and joined the man on the bed.

There they had the interaction that was called making love. They were passionate and fiery. I watched for some time, then left before they reached their climax.

Silly laws 1: moose

Alaskan laws:

It is considered an offense to push a live moose out of a moving airplane.

It is considered an offense to feed alcoholic beverages to a moose.

Moose may not be viewed from an airplane

“Hey!”

Raine grabbed the side of her chair.  She made a sudden sideway motion, then felt herself  drop a dozen feet.  Her stomach followed a bit too late with the rest of her body. She felt nauseated.

There was a loud bleating from the back of the plane mixed with some shouts from the other passengers.

Raine worked her way toward the flightdeck, assisted by a sudden nosedive of the plane. She fell against the door, smashing her nose. Then the plane pulled up she almost fell backwards again, but she grabbed the door handle, thus opening the door. There was red on the handle.

“What the hell is wrong.” Raine shouted through the high pitch sound of an engine. There were lamps flashing on the panels.

“We lost one engine.”  Latimer, their pilot said with clenched teeth. He was fighting the yoke as if he I he was in a bullfight.

“We’re crashing?”

“Nah. The ride is just a bit more bumpy.” Latimer grunted. “It can fly one one engine.”

“Planning on an emergency landing?”

“We got nowhere to put her down here, “  he pointed towards the mountains, trees and water, “ And if we hit something at this speed, we will be torn to shreds. Need to lose some weight!”

“You mean as in throwing something of the plane?”

“Yeah.”

“Mervin!” Raine roared.

“Here!” Came from the back.

“One of the engines has had it. We need to lighten this thing.. Anything we can get rid off?”

“Let me, see.. We got the combat gear.”

“We need those and that is expensive stuff. Something else?”

“We got these crates of beer. Two of them” Mervin said. His voice suggested he was not thrilled at the idea of losing the beer.

“The crates?” Raine said to the pilot, “ Five of them, that would be around 60 pounds I guess.”

“We need lose more.”

“There is the moose.”  Mervin shouted, “It is big.”

“The moose?” Raine and Latimer eyed each other.

“Yeah… we could.. well. We could push it from the plane.”

“You’re mad. The poor thing.” Raine said, “ Can’t we crash the plane in the river?”

“I can’t say what will happen when I do.” Latimer said.”But I figure if we drop the moose into a river it will be ok. The water will break it’s fall. There is the Nowita River coming up.” He pointed forward.

Raine cursed.”We get rid of the moose then. Say when.”

She struggled through the plane to the cargo hold. She and Mervin then buckled up their safety cords and opened the back of the plane.  They saw fir trees rushing past underneath them. The moose moaned loudly.

They removed the gate of the cage holding the moose and started to pull the animal backward towards the exit. The moose had enlarged eyes that shifted rapidly. It  braced itself and it refused to budge.

“Dammit. Can you pull up so it drops out?” Raine shouted. Underneath her she could see the river appear.

“I could give it a slight boost. But the engine will overheat!”

The plane suddenly pulled up, but the moose had locked itself tight in the cage.

“We need make it let go.”  Raine said.

“Maybe we can drop it with the cage.” Mervin mused

“It would drown.”

“Hmm..” Mervin said and looked at the crates. “We could start with losing the crates. Pitty, II could use a beer. Sometimes gives you good ideas.”

“That is it.”  Raine said, “Grab some bottles.”

Mervin got her some beer.

Raine removed the cap of one beer by using the other one and then pushed it into the mouth of the moose. The frightened animal first refused to drink, but then it started to drink.

Mervin grinned..

“Get more.” Raine said.

It took both crates before the animal let go. It waddled towards the open bay door. Then the  pilot shouted a warnin. The planes engine suddenly roared loudly and the plane pulled up. Mervin grabbed something, but Raine dropped together with the moose from the plane. Her safety line  arrested her fall. Dangling underneath the plane she saw the truss bridge  that had forced the pilot pull up the plane, a small village  and the moose arcing towards the bridge. It missed the bridge and plunged into the river. The shockwave caused a group of canoes to topple over and spill the paddlers and the contents into the river. Despite her precarious position Raine could not help but laugh at the ludicrous sight.

After Mervin had pulled her in, the plane labored it’s way towards the nearest airport.

There they were arrested.

“What for?? Nobody was harmed.” Raine excalimed.

“Yeah.. we had to do it.” Latimer said, “Otherwise we would have crashed.”

“That moose of yours. You know what it did?”

They shook their heads.

“It swam ashore, then lumbered into the village, wrecking property, broke into the local store, ravaged the interior before falling asleep. There are reasons we have laws against feeding mooses alcohol!” The policeman growled.

Bohemian Eclectic Gallery 2: Tess Falworth

The next artist I like to mention work from is called Tess Falworth. She makes pictures using Second Life and adds little stories to them.  The above painting has great lighting.  The picture is a talking one breathing a mood of solitude and wandering.

All Who Wander by Tess Falworth

I search because I need to know..
because I need to feel the earth at my feet,
the sand that cascades through my fingers..
I search for the infinite, the real, the surreal.. the beyond and the void.
I search for meaning in the sunset… knowing that I am but singularity in the web
and my thread may be cut when I least expect it, but until then, I will search with an open heart and open soul.

Sweetness by Tess Fallworth

 there are but a few moments in between..
the sweetness of surrender
and the triumph of temptation…

Nude don’t do much for me. I know that some people find them fascinating, I don’t exactly see why. However I am not against them either. This one somehow caught my gaze. I have a hard time to tell why. I is a combination of the pose, the way the two ladies are standing, the hand and the gag.   I like the way the light is used. There is a story there that wants to be told.

Bohemian Eclectic Gallery  in sl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Uthers%20Tarn/64/234/27

(Note : BEG is located on an adult sim and exhibits some adult related imagery)

Also published  at my weebly website: http://meritcoba.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/bohemian-eclectic-gallery-2-tess-falworth.html

Notice: the above pictures and quoted texts(those in italics) are copyrighted by Tess Falworth and used here to showcase her art.

Bohemian Eclectic Gallery: The rape of liberty by Meryll Panthar

One of the things I like about Second Life is that people show their works there. I try to have  a look at them whenever possible to learn about making imagery. One day I ran into the Bohemian Eclectic Gallery (BEG For Short). This gallery interested me because it showed a wide diversity of pictures all made in or with the aid of second life. Since I use Second Life to make my pictures, this of course interested me.
I normally don’t review art as I don’t want to end up in some kind of pointless discussion. However I wanted to post a few paintings here and discuss them because these paintings have a kind of story behind them.
For me that makes such paintings interesting, because I am interested in combining images with stories.

The rape of liberty by Meryll Panthar

The first picture is called The rape of liberty made by Meryll Panthar. I send a mail to Merryl Panthar as I think an arists should at least have an idea of what I am writing about them.  She pointed out that I made an error by laying blame with deviantart (for which I am sorry). The blame goes to Koinup. The story is that Koinup seemed to have one day decided to ban male nudes while at the same time allowing female nudes. As an act of protest she made the above picture.  It was made in three hours. Not bad 😛

Personally I think the above image is not all that shocking either. I can imagine a much more deviant ways of representing a rape.

The interesting thing for me is that it is made with Second Life and smartly avoids to be called a total nude because crucial parts are covered. I like the way it is made and the feeling about the painting. It also reminds me that there is a certain breed of people in the world who like ‘power’ for it’s own sake and these people strive to get  positions where they can exercise power. They of course will defend their behavior by pointing  out that rules (we all made) have to be followed (the way they want it). But you know what they really are when they do so with an overwhelming sense of glee or self-righteousness.  And don’t think that people who like power are automatically opposed to liberty. In fact people who like power might  be the greatest supporters of liberty, because they don’t really care for what cause power is used as long as it is exercised: exercised by them.

The interesting about this picture is also that it shows a few limitations of Second Life. The cloth is going through avatar, the avatar is a 3d design made by Linden and has certain unnatural aspects, such as the shoulders. In addition the part where the legs join the body has a clear line where you would expect the flesh to fold or crumple.

The lighting combined with the shadows is well done and makes for half the mood. The other is the little rusty bloody look.

For more Meryll Phantar:

http://www.koinup.com/MeryllPanthar/

http://meryllpanthar.deviantart.com/

Link to the gallery in Second life(note: the sim is Adult rated)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Uthers%20Tarn/64/234/27

Notice: the above picture is copyrighted by Meryll Panthar and used here to showcase her art.

Signs of life 4: Fuzz

“No!”  Meena, the eldest of the two daughters said with an indignant expression on her face  when her parents proposed to go to the market fair.

Eve, the youngest, fell into an uncomfortable silence squeezing a plushie against her chest. She did not dare to go against her older sisters opinion, yet she feared her mother’s displeasure equally. She withdrew into the only direction she could: into herself.

“We never go to anything that we like. We always have to go to these boring things you like.” Meena continued waving her frail hand about,  ”I am not going and that is final!”

Harry, the father, tried to reason with her, but she was not going to listen: hormones and peer pressure were much more important for the budding teen than whatever considered arguments parents brought to bear.

Jane, the mother, then played the power card. “We all go and that is final!”

Meena grabbed her hand-held, stomped upstairs and closed the door of her room with such an audible bang that even the neighbors heard it. Everyone got that message. Then she started to whatsap all her friends that parents were the worst creatures in the universe by far and her parents were the vilest of the bunch.

Jane then shouted up the stairs that Meena should come down this instance or she would be facing a week of extra chores. Eve started to pout her lips and Harry began to tell Jane that maybe they should reconsider this fair business.

“See, even father doesn’t want to go!” Meena shouted, she triumphantly rubbed the words into her mothers face.

“I didn’t mean that!” Harry said, hearing how his words were being twisted into arguments for the defence.

“What then do you mean?”  Jane said. She felt slightly backstabbed by her husband but also knew that her eldest was twisting the knife on purpose. At the same time she saw her youngest discomfort and she grabbed Eve’s hand.
Harry smiled disarmingly at his wife. Meena had walked halfway down the stairs not wanting to give in to her mother, but also not wanting to face a week of extra chores. She looked down on the scene with her arms folded in front of her chest.

Purr the cat sat in front of the door that led to the garden. She mewed at it and glanced at them to see if they would notice. Purr was certain that door would open sooner or later, and if it didn’t  she would lie down on her cushion on the couch. From that vantage point  she would then stare at them with an expression that seemed to say: what on earth are you all doing?