I hate you and I fear you but I hold open the door

Gollum’s horse-deer came sliding to a stop about ten yards away from us.  It didn’t seem to be well suited for riding, it was more like when a little kid rides a dog.  Or when Johnny Depp rides a capybara into the pool at Kiefer Sutherland’s house.  He (the spindly dude not the furry horse) seemed more curious about us than afraid, but he wasn’t going to be coming any closer either.  His clothing looked like it was burlap or canvas or something coarse like that.  His feet were all gnarled and bloated so much I’m not sure you could have gotten a normal shoe or a boot over it – ironically it looked like the “boot” print we found earlier was some kind of sandal that he had attached to his foot like a horseshoe.

He had a pouch/pocket with a tool of some kind sitting in it, I wouldn’t call it a knife, it was more like a sharpened rock.  What it looked like was one of those things you see in a museum in the Neanderthal exhibit, a scraper I guess they call them.  I don’t know if it was intended to be a weapon but he kept his hand close to it most of the time.  Every few moments he touched the “handle” like you see someone patting their wallet to make sure it’s there.   

He wasn’t as hard to understand as the traders but it was still a struggle.  He mumbled, combined, contracted, and truncated words seemingly at random.  I swear that he kept asking us if we were men, which makes absolutely no sense.  Martialla?  Maybe.  If you just caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of your eye she’s mannish enough that you might make that mistake until you looked right at her. Which you wouldn’t because you’d be looking at me.  Because there is no way anyone would ever think I was a dude.  I was number thirty-seven on Maxim’s hot one hundred last year!  I guess everyone on that list is dead so I suppose I’m number one now.  Which is nice for me.   Number one baby!

After that I’m ninety percent sure that he asked us if we were cars.  After a lot of back and forth and pantomime we determined that he does know what a car is, same as us, but it was too hard to figure out what he was trying to ask about them.  We asked if there were still cars or how he knows about them and he looked at us like a dog looks at an answering machine when it hears its master’s voice coming from it.  This communication problem is going to get really old really fast.  The one thing we did understand is when he asked us why we had masks on.  We told him it was because of the air and he sniffed a bit and then shrugged.  I don’t know why exactly, but seeing such a normal human gesture like that almost made me cry.  It was a gesture that wasn’t like we were in a post-apocalyptic hellhole, it was more like I had just asked someone what time the Scorpion King was playing and they didn’t know.   

I asked him about the guy with the potato head that killed the trader and he got all bent out of shape.  I think what he said was that lumpy is one of the invincible and that’s why he (spindly not lumpy) was out there – scouting for his village to see how far Mr. Potatohead and his potatohead friends had come into their valley.  He didn’t seem jazzed about them being so close.  We tried to ascertain what he meant exactly by “invincible” but that was lost in translation.  Or maybe he was just too agitated to pay attention.  He wanted us to come back to his village so we could tell “Kway” what we had seen.   

Following him seemed like a bad idea, but it was also the reason we were out there.  The only choices we have now are likely going to be bad ones.  We agreed to go with him and he turned his animal, which is more the size of a pony than a horse or a deer close up, and we followed.  Its tail wasn’t really like that of a horse or a deer, it was more like a short lion tail – smooth and then a big puff of hair like a horse’s mane at the end.  

Martialla looked over at me “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” 

“Almost never.” 

“Maybe we were asleep for a lot longer than a hundred years.  I mean what the hell is this animal?  It would take millions of years for a new species to evolve!” 

I frowned “Who the hell knows?  Maybe when they blew up the Coca-Cola bottling plant all the chemicals got in the water and that sped up the evolutionary process.  Like what happened to Joker in the Batman.” 

She stared at me “I don’t even know how to respond to that statement.” 

As we trailing along behind him our new friend chattered away over his shoulder, mostly about how he wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers and how brave he was for doing so.  Seems like he might be a kid.  It’s hard to tell based on his appearance but he acts like a kid.  Although would you send a kid out to scout for lumpy-headed murderers?  You might if you didn’t like him too much.  We passed through an area of tall grass and I could hear something moving parallel to us.  I caught sight several times of some mean looking dog.  Our guide didn’t seem concerned in the least though, he said that we were too big to be attacked by “daws”.   

As we got closer to the lake, we noticed that the plumes of smoke we had seen from the hills were coming from there too.  Eventually we saw some villages.  And by villages I guess I mean ramshackle collections of huts clustered around very rickety looking docks out into the greasy water.  The huts had some scraps of metal and tattered plastic in them, but they were mostly made up of sticks and mud it seemed like.  I’m not sure what good they would even do.  Being in a mud house during the rain seems worse than just being rained on.

The lake stank like it was a chemical factory or something.  Dead fish or toxic waste, that you expect in a lake smell, but this was like an oil refinery.  I felt like I might puke at any moment – which would really suck when you have a mask on.  Sure, I have no idea what an oil refinery smells like, but this is what I assume it smells like.  From a distance, the water looked murky and gross but up close it looked like a tar pit mixed with vinaigrette mixed with a trout smoothie.   

Our arrival caused quite a stir.  The tiny dirty people poking the water with long sticks all ran out at us like it was a Viking raid.  Our guide, who may have told us his name somewhere in his gibberish, rode forward, presumably to calm them down, and was promptly yanked off his animal and tossed to the ground like a sack of dirt. 

The yanker looked like the only one of the bunch to top five feet and was looking marginally less scrawny, while being no less dirty.  He had a bunch of rags wrapped about his head and his stick looked more like an actual spear instead of just a long pointed pole – clearly a leader.  I can’t articulate the difference between a pointy stick and a spear but you know it when you see it.  He used said spear to poke at our new friend with the non-pointy end and bark at him as he lay on the ground arguing with him. 

Martialla looked over at me “Should we do something?” 

“The bossman is clearly not happy to see us, I feel like intervening would make things worse.”  I looked around at the compost heap of a village “I’m not sure if I should feel relieved or insulted that they don’t want us here.” 

I need you and I want you cause I know you from before

We came to a point where the brush cleared out enough to give us a good view of the surrounding area from on high.  We saw a low sprawling complex that Martialla thought might be the Sierra Army Depot. An army depot seemed to me like the kind of place we would want to check out, but Martialla said that if there was anything there, it would have been looted a long time ago.  She sure has a lot more opinions now than she did back in the real world.  I went along with it, because why not?  There may not have been anything there regardless since Martialla said that she thought that it was a facility where the EPA made sure the government decommissioned military explosives in an ecologically friendly way.  Who knew that was a thing? 

I pointed at a low sludgy-looking body of water in a vaguely ragged W shape “I don’t remember any big lakes around here, have we traveled farther than I think?” 

Martialla shook her head “No we haven’t gone far, but things are bound to be different after a hundred years.  Topography changes a lot more than you think.” 

“It has NOT been a hundred years.” 

She looked over at me “Why do you refuse to believe that?” 

“Mostly because I don’t want it to be true.  But if you want logic, there’s no way that facility could have survived a hundred years without anyone around doing maintenance.  Things don’t last long, as you keep telling me.”  I gestured. “Not even the landscape it seems.” 

“Lasting a long time is kind of what it was designed for.  Plus we don’t know what happened Ela, maybe people were living there until a few years ago.  What do you reckon?  Head for the disturbingly dirty-looking water?  Or that?” She lifted her chin in the direct of a curl of smoke lower down the hills. “Or keep on the trail?” 

“As long as the trail is going vaguely in the same direction as both of them, we might as well stay on it.” 

The trail wound down in a switchback until the vegetation petered out and tipping plants gave way to slipping rocks.  Scree I think they call that.  At that point there was no real trail anymore.  Which left us standing there with no real direction.  We both looked around for a while, I think we were both waiting for the other one to say something.  I was about to suggest turning towards the water (without having a good understanding of where it was) when I spotted movement crashing our way through the brush overland.

There had been a disturbing lack of animal life.  There were a few bugs, but not enough.  Not that I love bugs but you know what I mean.  You walk through the wilderness, tons of bugs should be jumping on you.  I didn’t see or hear a single bird either.  It was unsettling.  As long as there are plants, and there are tons of those, there should be an ecosystem right?  Little critters eating the plants and bigger critters to eat them.  It was a surprising relief just to see something else besides us that was alive (besides plants, I know plants are alive, I’m not an idiot).

I pointed it out to Martialla “Is that a horse?”

She put her hand up to her mask to peer “I’d say a deer maybe, except with no neck.  I think it belongs to someone, whatever it is.”

“Why do you say that?”

“It has cloth on its hooves.”

I squinted through my dusty mask and saw that it did have some kind of coarse sacks on its legs “Oh yeah, why would you do that?  To muffle the noise of hoofbeats?  Is it a stealth horse like a stealth bomber?”

“Uh, I guess if you don’t have horseshoes maybe you’d do that?”

“How do you think they ever came up with horseshoes anyway?  Who figured that it would be fine to put nails in a horse’s foot?  And how did they get that first horse to go along with that program?  How many people were kicked to death before they got that right?”

“They probably tried it with a dead horse first.”

“After beating it?”

Before she could answer (if she was going to) we saw the presumed rider of the beast clamber over a boulder into view.  It moved slowly and spindly-ly like one of those rain forest frogs you see on the TV very slowly walking up and down trees instead of hopping around like a normal frog.  I guess it was a person but it looked more like that Gollum monster from the Lord of the Rings.  Only with clothes on.  And let me tell you, if there was anyone who should have been wearing a shirt in those movies it was Gollum. 

Martialla whispered to me “Now, we don’t want to spook him . . .”

I lifted my mask enough to cup my hands “Hey you!”

He was startled.  To put it mildly.  His reaction was like he had never heard a noise before.  It was like what I imagine someone would do back in the old days of the electric chair when they threw the switch.  After he was done freaking out he jumped on his deer-horse (no saddle) and it looked like he was going to gallop away but instead he came racing at us at what I would call a breakneck speed. 

Martialla sighed “Good job not spooking him.”

“Hey, it worked didn’t it?”

She drew one of the guns “Remains to be seen.”

OOC – Rat-shack update

I just mowed the lawn and a rabbit just sat there in the grass staring at me. Even when I came at it with the mower it wouldn’t move. It did eventually run away but it was like it knew. Like it was saying “You can’t even handle a mouse. I’m a hundred times bigger than a mouse. You can’t do shit to me.”

I’ve lost the respect of the animal kingdom. Soon voles will be slapping me around and taking my lunch money. I need to break bad with the animals to get back some respect. Maybe I should move to Japan and join a whaling crew.

Remember that episode of the X-Files where the guy who speaks German for no reason and is giving women lobotomies with an ice pick screams at a captive Scully (actually the demons he thinks are controlling her) “I AM ON TO YOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!” It was like that.

I rewatched the X-Files fairly recently I had forgotten how many episodes were Scully gets kidnapped and Mulder has to save her.

OOC – Letters from the rat-shack

Remember on the Simpsons when Art Spiegelman put on a mask to fight crime and boldly declared “Maus is in the house!”  I do. 

Remember the episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where the gang (minus Charlie) is trying to catch a rat but instead they end up huffing gas and watching Tom and Jerry cartoons?  I do.  Sometimes in Tom and Jerry they would bring in a dog character to abuse Jerry as well.  I wonder what its name was. 

Last week when I was doing some yard work a mouse sneaked in the back door.  I put out some humane traps which appear to be useless.  Friday I built a bucket trap and twice now the mouse has triggered it without falling in the bucket.  Either it’s a very acrobatic mouse or I need a wider bucket. 

Friday morning I saw it peeking at me from behind the bookcase.  Which would have been cute if I didn’t hate it.  Which I do.

My old blog had about a thousand followers.  And a lot of them actually read it (sometimes).  If I asked them for mouse advice there would have been a lot of it and most of it would have been annoying.  Is it mansplaining when it’s two men or is that only man on woman action?  Must be the latter because otherwise that’s just being a jerkstore right? 

I suppose when you’re giving advice, you have to assume the person you’re talking to is an idiot.

Case and point I saw some reviews where people were giving 1-star ratings of a mousetrap and they’d post a video to show how crappy it was and instead they weren’t using it right – of course the mouse walked right out, you had the top open GGGyellow856!  How did you think it was going to do anything like that?  It was a good reminder that product reviews are largely pointless (like humane traps).

I’m not asking for advice now either but I shouldn’t say to myself that it’s because no one reads this blog because a couple people do read it.  Thanks couple people.   There’s a new episode of Heels tonight.  I’m excited about that.  Maybe the mouse and I can watch it together while it gives me the hanta virus. 

PS – It is a mouse and not rat, that’s just a “funny” title. If there was a rat in here I’d burn the house to the ground.

OOC – Bonus buffooneries

WordPress is 42% of the internet I hear.  Of that 42%, 80% is reviewing (mostly complaining) about Marvel movies.  Never let it be said that I don’t conform.  Since a couple new Marvel movies have come out lately, Longtail Turtle and I had to update our rankings.  I figured I’d compare and throw in the rankings from Rotten Tomatoes as well.

Iron Man

My rank – 13

LTT rank – 9

Tomato rank – 2

We’re pretty close to each other but off the norm.  It’s a good movie for sure but I’m shocked that it’s reckoned the second best Marvel movie.  It’s pretty good for the first two acts.  The ending is a strong “meh”.  There’s something about two robots punching each other that doesn’t do much for me.  And why introduce the 10 Rings and then not have them be the end villain? 

Incredible Hulk

My rank – 22

LTT rank – 22 (yay, the same!)

Tomato rank – 24

No one likes this one.  It’s not terrible, it’s just not good.  I’m not sure the Hulk is a good character for storytelling.  I loved the Hulk as a kid probably for the same reason a lot of kids go through a dinosaur phase – when you have no power of anything it’s fun to think about a giant beast that smashes everything.  What would a good Hulk movie be?  Two hours of Hulk smashing shit?  I’m not sure you can do anything with the Hulk.  When he’s Bruce Banner his whole thing is not turning into the Hulk, which is what we want.  And when he’s the Hulk, nothing is a threat to him. 

Iron man 2

My rank – 7

LTT rank – 5

Tomato rank – 23

Whoa.  I knew people didn’t love this movie but the general public says it’s almost as bad as Thor Dark World?  That’s bonkers to me.  There’s another robot fight at the end, which is lame, but other than that what’s so bad about this movie?  Hammer is entertaining and I like Vanko as an enemy.  Sidenote LTT hates the Pepper Potts character.  I guess she is only there to be Tony’s love interest but as far as love interest characters go, I think she’s good.


My rank – 24

LTT rank – 23

Tomato rank – 21

Alignment here, this movie is lame.  Another one without a real antagonist.  Seems like they were real coy with having villains in these early movies.  I wonder why.  But then Thor doesn’t really have any classic enemies other than Loki.  Although in my mind Enchantress is Thor’s archnemesis, maybe because I read the wrong comics.  I can see why they don’t do anything with her though since she’s a magic trickster just like Loki.  Samesies!

Captain American – The First Avenger

My rank – 21

LTT rank – 7

Tomato rank – 18

This movie is okay before Steve gets the Super-Soldier serum, and the scene right after it is great.  Then it’s weak.  Also, how long was that montage supposed to be?  It seemed like Captain America was in WW2 for like a week but was it supposed to be longer?  Is there even a montage?  Am I remembering that right?  Red Skull was disappointing. 

THE Avengers

My rank – 16

LTT rank – 6

Tomato rank – 8

The actual title of this movie is Marvel’s The Avengers, I wonder if that’s because of the Uma Thurman Avengers movie.  I guess I’m on the outside on this one.  This movie was just kind of blah for me.  The opening scene is pretty cool and then it’s you know, whatever.  The Chitari are lame, the “double-cross” of SHIELD making weapons is lame, Coulson dying to bring them together is lame. 

It’s not fair to judge like this but I will anyway, after the rest of the movies came out this one makes no sense.  Thanos gave Loki the Mind Stone so he could go to earth and get the Space Stone?  Why would he do that?  Were all his loyal minions busy?  Why would he trust Loki?  Also he just saw Captain Marvel blow up an entire Kree warfleet, what did he think some lame-os on hoverboards were going to accomplish?  The space whales were cool.

Iron Man 3

My rank – 11

LTT rank – 19

Tomato rank – 19

I think people were pretty mad about the Mandarin fake out.  That was probably one twist too many.  Also it was kind of a throwaway of AIM.  Maybe this would have been better if it was just “we’re AIM and we’re doing AIM shit” without the fake terrorist threat.  Also I can’t remember now, what was the point of that?  So they could sell Extremis?  I think you could have sold that just fine without a fake terror threat.  If it worked.  I guess this movie is kind of a mess, but I liked the Tony without a suit stuff and the kid was funny.

Thor The Dark World

My rank – 24

LTT rank – 25

Tomato rank – 25

Yeah, that’s right, I say there’s a Marvel movie worse than this one.  What I find interesting is that no one seems to remember what actually happened in this movie but they still hate it.  Several people have told me that have no memory of the plot.  I remember that some red stuff goes into Natalie Sportsman and that red stuff is one of the Infinity Stones.  And there are Dark Elfs. 

TV Loki told me that this movie is where Loki accidentally (?) kills his adopted momma.  Which seems important.  I wonder what a good Thor movie would be.  Something with Beta Ray Bill probably.

Captain America The Winter Soldier

My rank – 2

LTT rank – 8

Tomato rank – 9

I like that this is in the top 10 but I clearly enjoy it more than most.  I’ll admit that “oh, it turns out SHIELD was HYDRA all along” is kind of lame but otherwise it’s fantastic.  The only thing that would have made it better is if Nick Fury had really died.  But no one dies in comic book land.  Sidenote I was reading some old comics the other day and as always happens I was surprised to see a white Nick Fury.  Sam Jackson has become Nick Fury so hard that’s all I can think of.  Sorry David Hasselhoff.  I would have liked to have seen them sneak the Hoff into a SHIELD part somewhere.

Guardians of the Galaxy

My rank – 1

LTT rank – 2

Tomato rank – 5

This movie made me feel like when I saw Star Wars for the first time.  It was awesome and it made me feel awesome.  If you want to nitpick you can, some of Peter’s quips make no sense since he left earth when he was a kid, and the “we’re family now even though we’ve known each other for 2 days” thing isn’t super strong, but it’s great anyway.  I hate 3D but one of the many times I saw this in the theater I went to see it in 3D because I wanted glowing Groot spores all around me.  Wonderful.

Avengers Age of Ultron

My rank – 5

LTT rank – 20

Tomato rank – 22

Another big WHOA.  I didn’t think people disliked this movie this much.  It’s worse than Thor?  I know people didn’t like the opening scene which is weird to be because it’s the only time the Avengers are really doing Avengers stuff.  It made me feel like they went on all kinds of adventures we didn’t see in the movies.  I really liked Ultron as a villain. 

What didn’t people like about it?  I’ve heard that people don’t like it when heroes fight big hordes of robots because they want real people to get slaughtered by the hundreds by the good guys.  I will say that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are kind of pointless.  Would people like it more without them?  Maybe Iron Man 3 should have been Iron Man against AIM and the twins who are totally not Magneto’s kids because they don’t have the rights.  Except now they do?  So maybe they are?


My rank – 20

LTT rank – 17

Tomato rank – 16

It takes me a minute to remember what happened in this movie.  Yellowjacket.  What did Pym want his technology to be used for it not military murder?  What are the practical applications of shrinking?  Fantastic Voyage surgery?  Exterminators that go into the walls with lasers instead of having to use poison?  Because of when I was into comics the Wasp and Ant-Man are founding members of the Avengers and the newfangled version where they’re just people hanging around is weird.  Paul Rudd is likeable of course but it’s all pretty mediocre. 

Captain America Civil War

My rank – 17

LTT rank – 21

Tomato rank – 10

Huh, I guess people at large liked this a lot more than we did.  I’m not sure why it wasn’t Avengers Civil War.  I guess Spider-Man showing up was a cool.  It’s hard for me not to think that Cap isn’t being unreasonable in this movie, which is not how I like to think of Captain American being.  The Avengers should be above the law and do whatever they want?  That doesn’t sound right.  And the whole thing with Bucky killing Howard Stark doesn’t do much for me.  For that matter the whole Baron Zemo thing doesn’t work for me. 

Doctor Strange

My rank – 10

LTT rank – 15

Tomato rank – 12

Dormammu I’ve come to bargain.  Is Mordo ever going to show up again?  I hope so.  One time in the comics Blade and Dr. Strange teamed up to cast a spell to kill all vampires.  But then the spell was reversed.  There’s a Dr. Strange action figure that comes with a big battle axe, you know because of all the times Dr. Strange attacks people with an axe.  This movie was good.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

My rank – 25

LTT rank – 24

Tomato rank – 14

This movie is garbage and I hate it.  Rocket is a super asshole for no reason.  Drax is FUCKING ANNOYING the entire movie.  All the Ravager stuff is stupid.  All the dad stuff is literally groan inducing.  Ego the Living Planet is dumb.  They set up Adam Warlock, aka the guy who beats Thanos for the Infinity Stones, and then did nothing with him.  Mantis is okay. 

Do I judge this movie too harshly because I loved the first one and I was so excited for this one and I never get excited and then they threw this turd in my face?  Probably.  Still I cannot fathom that many people this this is a middle of the pack Marvel movie. 

Spider-Man Homecoming

My rank – 6

LTT rank – 13

Tomato rank – 6

Donald Glover has a funny bit in his stand-up special about when there was some talk about him being Spider-Man.  I’m not a huge Spider-Man fan in general but this movie is perfect for Spider-Man.  The only thing I don’t like about it is when Peter is all “school is for losers, I’m a superhero!”  That doesn’t seem very Peter Parkery to me.  I love that they didn’t waste our time with an origin story.  I love that Vulture is actually cool for once. 

Thor Ragnarok

My rank – 4

LTT rank – 3

Tomato rank – 4

Alignment, this movie will Ragnarok your face off.  I asked how you could make a good Thor movie before, and a good Hulk movie, I guess the answer is make Plane Hulk into a movie and then replace the Silver Surfer with Thor.  Although I am bummed that they didn’t do the bit from the comic where Iron Man and Dr. Strange shot Hulk into space because they were sick of his bullshit.  I suppose that would have been too cold for the MCU.  It would have been cool if they spent less time on Asgard and instead had another gladiator fight or two with some other Marvel characters but you can’t have everything.

Black Panther

My rank – 14

LTT rank – 12

Tomato rank – 1

Major WHOA.  The world at large says this is the best Marvel movie?  It was fine.  Killmonger was cool.  Throwing in Klaw and then killing him seemed kind of pointless.  The guy from Fargo seemed totally pointless.  All in all not a lot happened in this movie.  The last scene was cool where Killmonger choses to die. 

Avengers Infinity War

My rank – 3

LTT rank – 10

Tomato rank – 15

This is shocking to me.  The general populace says there are 14 Marvel movies better than Infinity War?  This movie kicks ass.  Stuff happens!  People die (temporarily)!  Am I supposed to believe that the lame original recipe Avengers was better than this?   And Civil War?  And Ant-Man + WASP?  This is crazy.  Infinity War is great.  I still watch it sometimes. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp

My rank – 18

LTT rank – 14

Tomato rank – 13

It’s better than Ant-Man.  There are some funny parts.  The guy from Justified is there and he’s basically playing Hammer from Iron Man 2 so that’s fun.  Ghost is there for some reason.  Do they cure her at the end?  Maybe.  They rescue the original Wasp from Quantumtown I remember that.  The best part is the point credit scene where Paul Rudd is in the Quantum Realm and everyone else gets dusted and you’re like “oh man, how is he gonna get out of this one?!”

Captain Marvel

My rank – 9

LTT rank – 16

Tomato rank – 20

I throw out LTT’s score for this one because she thinks Alison Brie runs like a mutant and it’s all she can see.  I remember when this movie came out lots of people were real mad because a girl was a superhero and girls are gross.  I really liked it.  The Skrull being not the bad guys was a fun twist.  Not sure about it in the long run.  I would have liked a little something in the dialog to explain why there are pink and blue Kree.  For that matter I would have liked to see more super Kree.  I listened to a podcast where some non-woman haters really tore this movie apart so I guess lots of people didn’t like it.

Avengers Endgame

My rank – 15

LTT rank – 1

Tomato rank – 3

The fact that most people say this is one of the best Marvel movies freaks my funk.  I understand that there’s no stakes in any of the Marvel movies, but this is the one where I can’t even pretend anything is on the line.  Of course they’re going to defeat Thanos and of course they’re going to bring everyone back to life.  Not only that but they already have the ultimate plot cheating device in the infinity gauntlet and then they throw in TIME TRAVEL on top?  Why not just have Superman show up and make the world spin backwards while you’re at it? 

The one scene where Steve is all messed up and then everyone shows up to help him is cool, but then it’s followed by a 40 minute CGI barf-fest.  And then Thanos is all like “I’ll just destroy all life this time” because of reasons?  Two Nebulas is cool, but that’s about it.  And that Ronin stuff with Clint?  Utterly pointless.

Spider-Man Far From Home

My rank – 19

LTT rank – 18

Tomato rank – 11

It’s fine.  Since “everyone” knows that Mysterio is a bad guy it would have been cool if he actually was a hero from another dimension.  Also it would have been cool if they illusions he made to defeat and look like a hero weren’t lame elementals.  Meh.

Black Widow

My rank – 8

LTT rank – 4

Tomato rank – 17

People were mad about this one because not only was the main character a gross girl but there were other girls in it!  And Taskmaster was a girl!  They were real upset about that.  I guess the good news for them is that Scar-Jo has been excommunicated from the MCU so Black Widow may really be dead for real.  J/K, they’ll recast her.  Do you think they added in the first part just because of the Americans?  I kind of do. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

My rank – 12

LTT rank – 11

Tomato rank – 7

Pretty good.  For me it didn’t really do anything to resolve the fake Mandarin 10 Rings thing.  Also the rings themselves weren’t like I remember from the comic.  I remember really thinking the Mandarin was cool as a kid but apparently he’s a hugely racist caricature so I guess I’m a monster.  Tag-along Awkwafina character comedy relief didn’t do much for me, I would have ditched her and given more time to the sister and her criminal shenanigans.  Much like with Thor arena I would have liked to have seen a couple other Marvel character fights.  Maybe I just want to see Enter the Dragon with super people? 

The end of laughter and soft lies

Remember that movie Caddyshack 2?  Of course you don’t remember it because you never saw it because you’re a post-civilization marauder who doesn’t know what movies are.  But I’ve decided to write this like I’m speaking to people from my time because otherwise what am I going to say?  And I can’t not write this because people need to hear my courageous story.   

The question is moot anyway because no one remembers Caddyshack 2 because it was horrible.  It’s the poster child for crappy sequels.  The only good thing about it is the Kenny Loggins song “Nobody’s Fool” which I wanted to include a cover of as a B-side on my album Louder than Words, which I would like to point out sold better than J-Lo’s On the 6 domestically.  I was supposed to play a Ty Webb type character in a Caddyshack rip-off called Two Putts (the poster had two golf balls together that kind of looked like a butt, which makes no sense for a variety of reasons) but Jay Mohr pulled out of the lead role so he could be in Mafia! and without the “star power” of Jay Mohr, the financing fell through.  I wonder how many lives could have been saved with the millions of dollars spent on movies that don’t end up getting made.  Probably a lot. I mean they’re all dead now anyway.  So I guess it’s fine. 

Anyway the closest thing to anything approaching humor in Caddyshack 2 is when the guy from Ghostbusters gets snakebit in the ass and he asks the guy from National Lampoon Vacation movies to suck the venom out of said ass and Clark Griswold says “Is there any money in it?” which is almost mildly funny.   It’s very close to being mildly funny.

We haven’t been here very long, but so far I have to say I am not enjoying this post-apocalyptic hellscape.  It’s hot, and I means balls hot.  That soggy hoggish variety of hot where it’s like you’re getting slapped with a piece of wet ham repeatedly even when you’re not.  Which would be bad enough if I wasn’t marching through a tangle of nettle-y plants but also I’m doing that.  I’ve heard people with bad knees say that walking down an incline is worse than going up, which sounded like nonsense to me before but now I get it.  I feel like I have shin splints so bad I’ll never get unsplinted.  There seems to be literally no flat ground, it’s all roots and rocks and plants and shit.  I would seriously just like to take three steps without slipping and or tripping.   

But what really sucks is that food we got from the ratlike traders is sitting like a rock in my belly.  No, not a rock, more like a sea urchin, with the spines you know?  One that’s still alive and is trying to poke its way to freedom.  Slowly, relentlessly, Andy Dufresne poking its way through my belly.  I feel like I’m all twisted up inside.  If this is what food is like here, I’ll be dead soon.  Which would maybe be a relief at this point.  Did you know that until modern times, for every soldier that died in battle, seven shit themselves to death?  Literally I mean, on account of they had dysentery.  Point is, I was doing my business when I got Caddyshacked – a fucking snake bit me on the ass.   

Martialla said that she doesn’t think it’s venomous.  She didn’t see the snake that got me but she said the bite shape is that of a non-venomous snake, being U-shaped instead of two-hole vampire shaped. She also said that it doesn’t really matter anyway because there’s nothing we could do about it if it was venomous.  She said that that old cowboy tale of cutting the wound and sucking out the poison is pure nonsense.  The poison is in your bloodstream instantly, it’s like pee in a pool, there’s no getting it out.  So if it was venomous, either I’ll survive it on my own or I won’t.  Cheery huh?   

My left cheek has swollen up to Jennifer Lopez proportions but if Martialla is to be believed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s venomous, she said that a barracuda bit her on the arm once and it swelled up like crazy.  Sounds like the real issue is making sure that the wound doesn’t get infected.  She said what we could really use is some alcohol.   

She doesn’t know how right she is about that. 

I was so focused on limping along with my half-Lopezed butt and my twisted gut that I bumped into Martialla without realizing that she had stopped.  The not-road had led us to a path – like a real path – through the foliage.  I said that it could be an animal path but she pointed to what was clearly a shoeprint.  More like a moccasin print, but you know what I mean.   

We both looked at each other.  Decision time.  Do we want to avoid where other people are or seek them out?  Do we rely on the kindness of strangers or keep to ourselves?  Neither seems to offer very good odds of staying alive for long.   

I gestured vaguely “You need to make the call on this one Mar, I’m falling apart over here, I kind of want to die right now.  I don’t think my judgement can be trusted at the moment.” 

She looked down both avenues of the path for a long time “Just like when you decided to be in Cobra Two.” 

“Look, that film got really screwed up in editing.” 

Martialla decided that we should follow the trail.  Wasn’t much of a decision really, it’s not like we’re going to find a patch of land and start farming. Unless we can find someone to interact with, we’re not going to last long.  Traveling on the path was much easier (that’s why people make them you know) but it was still a struggle for me.  At one point Martialla pointed out hoof prints on the trail which really lifted my spirits.  Sure, riding a horse isn’t great for a snake-swollen buttocks but it would be nice to let someone else do the work.   

We stopped to rest and even though my guts felt like twisting barbed wire, Martialla told me to eat some of the energy bars.  I wonder what would happen to me if I tried to live just on energy bars.  Die of malnourishment, I suppose.  I don’t know if I nodded off or passed out (there’s a difference right?) but when I came around for a second, I thought that Martialla had left me there.  Not only left but that she had taken all the supplies too.  That was easily the most terrified second of my life.  But she was there dragging me to my feet by the straps of my backpack. 

I looked at her sweatily “I suppose this is the part where I should tell you to take the supplies and go on alone, leaving me to die.” 

She snorted “No chance of that eh?  I’m pretty sure you told me one time if you were ever on life support and your estate ran out of money, I should start running drugs to keep you alive.” 

I smiled wanly “How else are you going to make serious money?  Not as a high-class escort right?” 

She chuckled “You know I’m your stunt double right?  Whenever you make a comment about my looks, you’re actually putting yourself down as well.” 

Stunt double Mar, stunt double, not body double, very important difference.” 

“I suppose that’s why I wasn’t in your softcore porn movies.” 

“School of Hard Knockers is not softcore porn!  There was less nudity per minute in School of Hard Knockers than there was in Revenge of the Nerds.  So are you saying that Revenge of the Nerds is softcore porn?!  Because if that’s what you’re saying you’ve gone completely insane!”

It hurts to set you free

Remember the opening scene in Star Wars when all the guys in beige pants and giant helmets hug the walls in that hallway and fight the Stormtroopers when they breach the wall?  Is that the only scene in those movies where the stormtroopers actually hit anyone?  Imperial marksmanship really took a nosedive after that initial victory.  Of course, shooting at main characters will do that to your aim.  Plot armor is hard to negotiate.  I had an idea once for a movie where a James Bond minion-type figures out that he’s in a genre movie and instead of going after the protagonist and dying, he sidesteps the situation and runs off.  I don’t know what happens then though, so it’s not much of an idea. 

Maybe Martialla and I should have taken cover at the end of the hallway and stood our ground.  There’s no cover for anyone coming in that way.  Maybe we should have tried to pick them off as they came through like Stormtroopers coming through a hole in the side of a ship.  Or maybe that would have been a terrible idea.  Two handguns against an assault rifle?  I’m no tactician, not even an armchair one, but that may not have been a winning move even with cover.  Plus who knows how many more men they had above?   They could have flanked us and come in the back way (if you know what I mean).

We already had all the supplies ready to move anyway, so what would we have been fighting for?  The facility itself.  Maybe leaving was the worst mistake we’ll ever make.  Maybe control of a facility that still has working geothermal power is the most valuable thing in this new world.  I’m not sure what we could have done with it, but maybe someone else could.  Then again even if that was true, what are the odds that if it was valuable that we could have kept control of it with just the two of us anyway?  Once the word got out, someone would have taken it away right? 

One thing that I am sure of, there’s plenty of free time to second guess yourself after the world ends.  We didn’t try to fight.  We went out the back of the facility to the employee parking lot and slid/fell down the hill to what used to be a road.  Attached to the back of the facility was a shed/garage thing sheltering an overgrown truck of some kind that Martialla later said was a “unimog”.  I wanted to check it out but she waved me away.  Even if it still ran, any fuel would have been long gone she said, making it a giant ugly useless slab of metal.

There was a steep little road out of the employee parking that I think used to connect to Rock Creek Road and take you to the El Dorado Freeway.  I think.  I don’t know this area well.  And it doesn’t really matter because the road was completely overgrown.  The “road” was a bed of little leafy plants and twisty vines.  Kudzu?  Is there Kudzu in California?  You could only tell where the road was because there weren’t trees there, I mean there were, but not big ones anyway.  In amongst the nettles and twisted roots we found chunks of pavement, and by found I mean tripped over, but not a lot.  What happened?  What makes pavement disintegrate?  I mean time conquers all but rocks last thousands of years right?   

My instinct was to cut south cross-country since the road was useless but Martialla said that we should stick to the road.  She asked how we would stay headed south without any landmarks.  Plus she said because of all the vegetation covering the ground, it would be easy to walk into a defile or crevasse without a road to follow.  I have no idea if she knows what she’s talking about but I didn’t fight her on it.  What difference could it make when you have no destination?  Might as well follow the road.   

I thought I was in pretty good shape.  I’m an actress right?  I have to look a certain way.  I’m no iron(wo)man triathlete or anything but I’m out there getting it done.  Monday, fifty hanging ab raises, fifty rope crunches, fifty incline sit ups with a forty-five-pound plate, repeat with thirty-five reps, repeat again with twenty-one reps.  Tuesday, ninety-minute cardio dance class.  Wednesday, hot yoga.  Thursday, spin class.  Friday, same as Monday.  It’s just that easy!  I mean that plus starving yourself.  I haven’t had a piece of bread since I was eleven. 

I now comprehend the difference between being in shape and being in condition.  I played a boxer’s wife in a TV show once (No Mickey don’t do it, you got a family!  If you go out there tonight don’t bother coming home!  I’m taking the kids to my sister’s) and the real boxer technical advisor dude on the set told me about how being in condition is a full-time proposition so you don’t do it all the time.  The eight weeks before a fight it’s all you do, you’re either sleeping or training.  If you’re in shape, you’re a man waiting for a beating.  You need to be in condition to fight.

Not to mention which, I don’t normally work out with a filter mask and a heavy awkward backpack pushing my way through dense foliage that is seven thousand percent made of burrs.  So that didn’t help.  Maybe I need a more practical workout routine.  An hour in and I was sopping with sweat like a fat senator being grilled about an intern in open court.  Another fun issue is that the air is filled with dirt.

Like literally.  You sweat and then all this dusty crap in the air sticks to you and quickly you feel like you’re covered in expired peanut butter (don’t ask how I know what that feels like).  I couldn’t imagine doing it all day.  And how far did we get really?  Maybe two miles?  That mask was a nightmare, but taking it off was even worse.  Neither of us ever really stopped coughing after that first time we wandered outside without them and got a snootful of the future.  The air is like that of a poorly ventilated woodshop.  I mean I guess, I’ve never been in a woodshop.  Without the mask you can actually feel the particles hitting your tongue and throat.   

After the fifth or sixth time Martialla told me to be careful after I stumbled, I snapped at her and she pointed out something that I should have known.  Turn your ankle on a hidden chunk of pavement or a root or whatever and there’s a decent chance I could die out here.  This is the state of nature.  What happens when a gazelle hurts its little hoof?  There’s no gazelle hospital.  Maybe if it’s really lucky it heals on its own but most likely it gets eaten by a mountain gorilla coming out of the mists to smash its little antelope head in.  Sad, but true.   

I need to adjust everything I do, I can’t operate like I did before.  It’s just me and Martialla and whatever we have on us.  There’s nothing else. 

Applied Cryogenics West – where it all begins again for the first time forever

Since I updated the site the map section has been blank for a while, but it’s still the most visited page on the site. The main thing I’ve learned from this blog is that people LOVE maps. I don’t really get it. I hate when my RPG group cries for maps all the time. Does everything have to be exactly nailed down 100% all the time? Does it? Oh, it does? My mistake.

In a desperate land

After the traders scurried off, Martialla and I sat around in the hallway for a couple hours not really doing anything.  We had been all primed and ready to head out to explore (sort of) and then just like that the wind was taken out of our sails.  For no exact reason.  It’s like when you get up early and you get dressed to go to the gym and you’re raring to go and then just as your hand touches the doorknob to leave, suddenly you think “I don’t want to do this”.  I guess the reality of the situation was sinking in.  The end of the world and all that.

You know in the movies when the aliens are invading or the zombies come out of the ground or the Ebola monkeys are on the loose and there’s the one character who immediately jumps out the window (or whatever) and kills themselves?  And you’re like “whoa dude, can you wait five minutes to see how things are going before you commit seppuku?”  I kind of get it now.  When something this enormous is staring you in the face, there’s a wave of helplessness that passes over you.  Jumping off that bridge I suppose is a way of making what happens (death) your choice.  But once that wave passes you’re just kind of . . . there.   

We half-heartedly started talking about venturing out to explore again and essentially took turns saying why we should and then providing excuses why we should wait until tomorrow.  We were commenting lackadaisically that we should have had the traders draw us a map of the area when we saw some shadows through the dirty glass.  It’s fun how you can snap from a variety of bored malaise to being terrified to your bones in zero seconds.  One moment you’re wondering if you even want to go on and the next moment you’re very much thinking about how you want to be super alive.  Deadly threats have an interesting effect huh?  It’s counterintuitive but I suppose we should have propped the doors open so we could see who was coming.   

I really wanted to tell Martialla to go first and I would cover her, I wanted it more than I wanted that role in The Mummy Returns.  And I wanted to be in The Mummy Returns a lot.  I can’t play Egyptian?  I got news for you, casting director Joanna Colbert, Patricia Velásquez ain’t from Egypt either.  But that would have made no sense since Martialla is the shooter and I’m the talker.  I should be proud of myself for not asking her because she probably would have done it even though it’s illogical.  She takes this bodyguard shtick pretty seriously.  Even I feel most bodyguard contracts have an out clause in case of world-ending events. 

Do you ever have that thing where being scared of something makes you reckless instead of cautious?  I get that every now and then.   It’s not a good trait.  I should work on that.  No reason to let the end of the world get in the way of self-improvement.  I decided that the best thing to do was to yank the door open and shout “What the hell do you want?”  On the other side, the small filthy men with bad skin, bad teeth, and an even worse odor scattered like rats.  Actually more like armadillos.  I was on Conan once and the zoo lady brought an armadillo.  Those animal segments on talk shows are death.  I blame Carson for that.  Yeah, I said it.  The poor little thing just ran around and around in a circle.  If it could speak, I imagine it would have been saying “oh dear, oh dear, oh dear”.  They were more like that than rats.  Rats are more self-assured.  When they run they’re hissing at you, the rat equivalent of flipping the bird.  They’ll be back.

The first three traders had returned with friends.  Because of the difficulty communicating with them, I’m not sure if they thought we asked them to do that or were just taking it upon themselves or what they were thinking.  Once they stopped freaking out over me startling them, they were excited to show us more junk, but before I could politely decline, there was a second commotion up top where their wagons were.  There was some too-fast for me to understand talking and then some shouting.  The guys down the ramp seemed to be torn between running back up to protect their trash wagons and trying to dash into the building for cover.  I saw them eyeballing my gun like maybe it was worth the risk to charge at me. 

Before they could decide, a few more of the traders came marching down with a couple other guys herding them.  The newcomers were bigger, although I doubt any of them were over five six, and they were wearing some kind of pants that looked like a camouflage pattern with the colors all wrong – hibiscus on a pastel yellow.  I don’t know where you’re going to hide with that scheme unless it’s on a Rose Bowl parade float.  They would have looked totally ridiculous if they hadn’t been carrying guns but they were, so they were merely mostly ridiculous looking.  Two of them had what kind of looked like big long flare guns to me.  Martialla later called them “cut-down lever action rifles” but how can a rifle have a barrel that’s only eight inches long?  Regardless, Martialla assured me they wouldn’t fire flares, assuming they fired at all. They looked to me like something the juvie kids would make in metalshop. 

But the third guy had something else altogether.  I’ve seen enough action movies to know an AK-47 when I see one (Martialla’s note, it was an AK-101).  I guess those things do last forever.  I almost had a studio convinced to let me play a terrorist in some dumb plane hijacking movie.  I thought it would be interesting to have a woman terrorist, but they decided in the end that wouldn’t be cool with foreign audiences.  I guess they thought people in those countries wouldn’t mind being portrayed as terrorists much as long as it’s a male actor in the stereotype, I mean role.   

AK certainly seemed to be in charge.  Was he in charge because he had the best gun or did he have the best gun because he was in charge?  Or was it because of his potato head?  You see, this fellow’s forehead was all lump and bumpy like he had tubers growing that hadn’t broken out from under the skin yet.  It was like a crappy alien makeup design from Star Trek or some other sci-fi show like that, only even lazier than usual because they weren’t symmetric or matching or anything.  Other than having a forehead full of tumors, he looked less scabby and unhealthy than the traders were.   

He glanced at us and then spoke to the traders in a fast-clipped way that I couldn’t follow at all.  I was about to speak up when he put the tip of his rifle against one of the trader’s chests and casually blew him away.  Like he was reaching for a beer out of a cooler.  No big deal, just killing a guy. 

For a moment I thought the pain I was feeling was just in my head, like from the shock you know, but when I saw the blood, I realized that the bullet had gone through that poor sap and hit me right on the front point of my hip bone.  It didn’t have enough force left to penetrate, but it was like taking a bad spill when your bike smacks into a tree.    

I don’t know about the other two, but his gun sure as hell worked.