Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is it me?

Every writer knows this feeling, I think.

Staring at your work in progress, watching the cursor blink at you.


It almost seems to mock, doesn't it?

I'd been writing, white hot. Going like blazes-

-and suddenly I caught up to what I was writing.

It was a sudden stop, my stomach lurching inside of me.

Like thinking there's one more step to a staircase you're going down a little too fast, and stumbling.

Like that.

I was alone in the house. I'm always alone in the house, anymore. I have a roommate, but she's got a new girlfriend and is spending most of her time away.

No big deal.

Except, well, moments like this can make you aware of how alone you are, you know?

I was playing a little bit of music to make the little soft sounds of a house that settles less obvious.

Less intrusive.

Less... ominous.

The house is noisier when there's more than one person in it, but it's also a valid mental excuse for the noise. You're not so alert and aware of the noises, because there's a conceivable reason for them. They slip under your notice.

Alone, the house is louder.

Because it is just a house, and it is not supposed to make noise at all.

So I play soft music while I write in the dark reaches of the night, when I cannot sleep.

I don't sleep much, these days.


The sigh came from my left. It sounded, at first, like a dog sighing.

(I own no dog.)

I turned all the way around, spinning my office chair and blinking, owlish, in the dark room.

I knew there was nobody.

There was obviously nobody.

There was nobody but me.

I was either under caffeinated or over.

I tried to think back to my last cup of coffee, couldn't remember when it happened.

There was a cold and empty mug on my desk, and the last remains of my previous cup had dried in the bottom.

I got up to make another.

I have one of those ridiculous machines that take the little cups. Do you know the kind? My roommate bought it after the last coffee maker shat the bed. I'd rather have a more normal machine, but it seems silly to have two coffee makers.


They make lots of noise when they operate, a big huff at the end.

Normal noises.

I like my coffee sweet- lots of cream and lots of sugar. Coffee purists fuss at me over this, but fuck 'em.

(When I worked in an office, I considered getting a mug that said something to that effect. I decided it wasn't going to be worth the discussion with HR, but only just.)

I drank that cup straight off, just standing at the counter. Started another one, this one to take back to the office and sip at for a while.

More to have something to do with my hands while I stared at the fucking cursor than anything else, honestly, but the caffeine would help.


I took my cup of creamy coffee back to the office, sat in my chair.


I turned, again, looking around.

It sounded somewhere between animal and electrical, I guess. It could have been either. A human. I couldn't tell.


It was regular. It was such a neutral noise, it could have been any number of things.

A burst of static.

A rattle of a plastic bag on a fan.

But it still sounded like breathing, to me.


I cut the music.

I checked my roommate's desktop, to see if it was on and making weird noises, but it was off.

I opened the closet to see if there was anything in there.

(or anybody)

I stepped out of the office into the hall.

I couldn't hear the noise, anymore.

It was only in the office.


I went back in and sat back down and put on music again.

Turned the music up louder.

Tried to write.


I checked all the outlets in the room. Maybe it was an electrical noise of some kind.

I glanced at the covered window.

I tried to remember- was the window open, tonight?

It was nice and cool outside, the heat of the summer fading into the pleasant coolness of fall.

I may have opened the window at some point.

Or Ellie (the roommate) may have. She left a snickers bar on my desk the last time I slept.

(When was that?)

She might have.

But the curtains were heavy, and blocked all light out. And I wondered- is something on the other side?

An animal, maybe.


Or a person? Breathing into the screen would definitely make that noise, I realized.

heavy breathing.


I considered pulling the curtain away from the window.


I got the big flashlight- the heavy metal one that I have at least two of- and eased open the front door. I didn't turn it on, that's not it's purpose.

Not yet.

The flashlight was heavy in my hand.




I see well in the dark, but it wasn't needed.

The moon was full, silver moonlight reflecting off of dewy grass. Most people could see pretty well in this light.

I eased my way around the house, the cold metal of the flashlight warming in my hot hand.

There was nobody standing in the bushes outside of my window.

I sighed in relief.

(A real sigh.)


I turned the flashlight on, and saw no animals.

No animal eyeshine.

Nothing shuffling away.

The window was shut.

I switched the flashlight off. Looked up at the moon's silver face. The wind played on my face.



There was a dog barking in the distance.

I heard cars on the main road, passing.

The deep thrumming of a subwoofer in a car with the music cranked up.

Real noises.


I went back inside.

Shut and locked the front door.

Went back into the office.


I started to clean the office.

Straightened papers.

Cleared away some trash.




I remembered-

-I'd left the front door unlocked.

Shut, but unlocked.

My back was to it.

(Could someone have slipped in?)

I could feel the blinking cursor, in the back of my mind. Almost hear it, like the ticking of a metronome.


I had left the big, heavy flash light in the other room.

There was only my coffee mug on the desk.


(Did I drink the coffee?)

I picked up the empty mug.

The last of the coffee had dried in the bottom.

(What time is it?)

The mug was smooth and heavy and cold in my hands.

(How much time has passed?)

Not much of a weapon.

(How long has this been going on?)

I opened the closet door, sliding it quietly aside.

Nothing in the closet. A dresser full of junk, tucked away. A guitar neither of us played.


(What day is it?)

I checked the calender.

September 6? No, it's October. It's October, dammit.

(Isn't it?)

The internet was down. The calendar in the other room hasn't been changed since February or January

(I really shouldn't bother with paper calendars anymore).

I finished checking the house.

There was nobody.

There was nothing out of place.

Nothing with me.

Except the noise.


The noises.

In the office.



I went to stand in the office.

I couldn't figure out where the noises were coming from.


Every way I turned, it seemed that the noise was on my left.

I checked the calendar on my computer again.



Checked again.



(When was the last time I left the house? Really left the house?)


(When was the last time I saw my roommate?
When was the last time I went to the store?
Talked to someone on the phone?
How much coffee have I had?)


I closed my eyes.


Opened them.

I was standing in the kitchen, a cup of coffee in my hands.

I could taste black coffee in my mouth, hot and bitter.

I closed my eyes.

Opened them.

I was standing in the office, a half empty cup of coffee in my hands.

My tongue felt burnt, my throat raw. Like I'd been gulping it.

My mouth tasted like ashes. Cigarettes and coffee.

(I haven't smoked in years. Have I?)


The front door opened.

“Liz?” A man's voice, a voice I don't know.

The mug slipped from my fingers.

Hot coffee
on my bare feet

Who the fuck is Liz?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seasonal Post-Mortem Spectacular: Part 3

Spoilers for the following: The Blacklist, and fucking Hannibal.

The Blacklist:

Okay, so, I just don't know how I feel about this show right now. I was pretty disappointed in the finale. The season has had bigger, more interesting story arcs. I felt like the episode that started the season 1 hiatus was much better and had a more interesting plot line than the actual finale. The Blacklist also has a habit of killing off prominent female characters while only injuring the prominent male characters. (Here's a good link outlining that a little bit better.) One of the things I originally liked was that the show wasn't super white and male (I mean, it was, but not for tv), but that has been slowly whittled down over the length of season 1. I dunno, I'm going to end up watching Season 2 because my roommate is and I'm still vaguely interested, but I'm not really pumped for it. My feelings are a solid 'meh'.


Okay, lemme just get this out of the way: HOLY FUCKBALLS


This season of Hannibal has had some rough moments. I'm still upset over what happened to Beverly, I'm still unhappy that Fuller had Margot have sex with Will. I understand his reasons, I really do, but even with that context, I wish he hadn't gone about it the way that he had. I would say that the season had 'growing pains', and hopefully it's something that Fuller learned from and will endeavor to do better with, in the future. Since Fuller has been good about listening to fans and their reactions in the past, I feel confident about that.

That being said, the build up to reveal Abigail was amazing. I was, honestly, not surprised that she was still alive. They foreshadowed that with revealing that A: Miriam Lass was still alive, and B: by all the talk of fatherhood leading up to the final episode. One of the reasons that Hannibal tipped Mason Verger off to Margot's pregnancy was because of Abigail. He spoke of the teacup shattering, coming back together, and not only did we see the teacup come back together during that airing, but then Margot's pregnancy was terminated- Hannibal was literally making room in the world/Will's life for Abigail.

Also, I know people are mad that Abigail shoved Alana out of the window (I didn't realize it was her, at first, I thought Hannibal had done it, I had to review the footage) but it's possible she did it to keep Hannibal from doing something worse. I mean, if she shoves Dr. Bloom out of the window she might die, but her apparent injuries (at the end of the episode) are possibly the least serious. And it's better than watching Hannibal kill Dr. Bloom with his bare fucking hands.

In all honesty, I expected the season to end on this kind of note. I mean, at some point, Hannibal was going to gut Will Graham and flee, and Fuller seems to live by 'go big or go home', so this was a real emotional gutpunch of a finale. Though it ends with everything being awful (and betrayal from our queen Bedelia, how could you?) it's still a satisfying end to the Season 2 arc, and I look forward to season 3.

Though I will remind you guys to not believe anything Bryan Fuller says about who lives or dies next season because we all know that he fucking lies. He lied about Abigail being for real dead. He will lie about who will live going into next season. Do not trust the man.

Things of note about Season 2:

Early in the season, Dr. Bloom transforms into a flowing, liquid blackness. In the last episode, she is (symbolically) drowned in very similar black liquid. I don't know what it means, but man it looks cool. (Well, in the last episode it's symbolic of the taint she feels, but I don't know exactly how it's related to the earlier symbolism.)

Red Fred: Part of the reason the show ends the way it ends is that Hannibal smells Freddie Lounds on Will, and (therefore) knows that she is alive. In his mind, she appears with a red face- clay red. It could be a number of things, of course, the red could be related to her hair, or the scent she was wearing that triggered Hannibal's memory response, but my roommate Lirenth suggested that it might be in reference to a Roman Triumph, because the red face paint reminds her of that. As soon as I badger her into writing a blog post about it, I'll link it here. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Seasonal Post-Mortem Spectacular: Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

Spoilers for the following:

Agents of SHIELD


Okay I just wanna touch on this really quickly because I didn't even think I was going to talk about Castle in one of these and then the season finale happened and now I'm grumpy about it. (And no, it's not the cliffhanger, it's not EVEN the worse cliffhanger Castle has done.)

So, let's start with the single most irritating thing to me: there is no way that Beckett was secretly married and didn't find out during the background check that got her a job with the police department, much less the Attorney Fucking General. Having a husband but not disclosing it would have come up because it would have looked like she was trying to hide something from them.

The 'oh I didn't know I was married!' trope is a tired and artificial way of creating conflict, especially since Castle and Beckett's lives have plenty of fucking conflict goddamn.

Of course, this season also featured an episode that implied there was a time traveler so fuckin' whatever, I guess.

Agents of SHIELD:

Okay, so, this show was pretty rocky when it started out. I don't think anybody disagrees. I think everyone who stuck with it through the length of the show mostly did it because they wanted to know what the fuck happened to Coulson. (I mean, that's why I stuck it out through the bad bits.)

The big problem was that the key event that really turned the show around happened in a movie that didn't come out until the season was almost over. Shit didn't get really interesting until SHIELD blew up in their faces, basically.

I really enjoyed the season finale, not because it answered a lot of questions, but because it was incredibly cathartic and satisfying. The Fury ex Machina cranks pretty hard but I honestly have a hard time giving any shits.

The Destroyer weapon came back around to Coulson, Ward got only about half the ass-whupping he deserved (fingers crossed that the next person to get her hands on him is the Black Widow, because she heard he was talking shit) but I did clap and squeal with delight when May NAILGUNNED HIS FOOT TO THE DAMN FLOOR. The team's dynamics have shifted, they've been betrayed, they've been through hell, and I just want Coulson to pack the Destroyer gun forever more.

I do wonder, though, if this is one of those shows where you're going to tell people, "You know what? Just start watching at Season 2. Trust me."


What interests me about this season of Elementary is what we've seen Sherlock going through. He's faced some speed bumps in the road, and they're all about him losing people. He lost Irene/Moriarty at the end of season 1, of course, but he'd already lost her in the first place. This season has been about distancing (accidentally, mostly) Sherlock from the friends he's made. He's grown closer to his brother, only to have him ripped away at the end of the season. Joan is going to move out. One of Sherlock's only other friends died this season. We've heard of Miss Hudson, but we haven't seen her. We haven't seen Sherlock's sponsor, nor the young man he began to sponsor, except for that one episode (maybe another I'm not remembering, but they've been thin on the ground). Sherlock was built up in season 1, and season 2 has been about tearing all of that away again.

Joan isn't moving out to tear foundations away from Sherlock, she's moving out because she needs to separate her life from his. She doesn't quite realize how important Sherlock believes that she was to his process (if she had, she would have been working on getting him less dependent on her, I have no doubt). Mycroft twigs to it: Sherlock's afraid that he can't do the work without either Joan or drugs, and when he becomes certain she's going to move out his response is WELP I GUESS IT'S DRUGS THEN. It was carefully set up to show Sherlock's true downfall, playing off the false one at the end of season 1.

So here's what I suspect is going to happen next (this is based off what I know of the canon, and feel free to click away if you don't want to read guesses about next season):

Sherlock is going to fuck off to England, back to Baker Street. I mean, undoubtedly, he'll do some traveling and he may be in New York from time to time, but I suspect he's going to end up there, at least part of the time. Joan is going to either go back to being a sober companion or, and I find this a little more likely, get her medical license back. It's possible that one or the other (or both) will occasionally consult with the NYPD.

And either Joan will run into him while he's in New York and realize he is doing, like, all of the heroin, or Daddy Holmes will call her from England and be like "Pack a bag and grab your passport, you're going to fix my son again." Hijinks, naturally, ensue.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bethany's Big-Damn Season Post-Mortem Spectacular: Part 1

I wanted to say a few things about a lot of things that have ended seasons (and, in some cases, series) recently, and so I thought I would do a big post gathering all of my thoughts in one place. Spoilers follow for all of the shows listed.

How I Met Your Mother:

Yeah, yeah, I know everybody's put their two cents in on this one, and I've certainly bitched about it on Twitter, but I wanted to put my thoughts into longer form.

While I was completely enraged by the series finale, I was also not all that surprised. While it's frustrating, the show really has been leading up to this, and the sad fact is that the show always has centered around Ted, who I find to be an insufferable douchenozzle of the highest order. I always enjoyed the other characters MUCH more than Ted, so an ending that gives Ted everything he wants is going to not be satisfactory to those of us who wish to see him get slapped with a fish until he starts crying.

Still, I wish the last season had been handled differently. It's cruel to spend a whole season surrounding Robin and Barney's eventual wedding when their relationship ends in tatters three years later. Robin then, presumably, doesn't date again and completely ceases to hang out with her friends of 9 goddamn years, period. As a character, she is put on a shelf until Ted is ready for her, and that's completely fucking annoying. Both Robin and Barney lose years worth of character development in a few moments in the last season, and it's really upsetting for those of us who loved those characters and what they went through to get to where they started the final season.

But the show was so absolutely married to the concept of Ted only meeting Tracy at the very, very end of the series that they refused to introduce the two of them any earlier at all, and it really tied their hands with what they felt they could do with it. I don't think I would have felt quite so cheated if they had explored everyone's lives after Barney and Robin's marriage much more thoroughly, but it was not meant to be.

And Ted remains an asshat.

The Crazy Ones

I don't think I watched every single episode of this cancelled show, but I saw most of it. And I thought that it had it's moments, the whole cast was very funny and I felt that they all had good chemistry with each other.

Though I enjoyed it, the show was certainly uneven, at best. There were several episodes that I, personally, found cringe-worthy. The uneven tone is, undoubtedly, due to the unscriptable nature of Robin Williams' style of comedy. It seems like they were getting better towards the end of the season, but earlier on there were times when it all kinda fell flat.

Still, there were episodes that had me and my tv-watching roommate laughing so hard we had to pause and get our shit together.

My favorite line from the season was when Sydney asks her guy of the episode "Do you even like David Boreanaz?" in tones of scandalized betrayal. (It got even funnier when I read about how Sarah Michelle Gellar used to go eat on the Bones set with Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel because their craft service had better food, since the line was in reference to the characters watching Bones together. That joke had, like, three layers and I still laugh thinking about it.)

I can't say that I'm surprised the show got cancelled, but I do think that the show had legs and could have gone further. Still, it ended on a note that is satisfactory enough to leave be, and there are bound to be plenty of really funny cut scenes on the Blu Ray, should they release one.

Almost Human

I am still kinda sad about this show being cancelled, even though I had the feeling that was going to happen. It's a shame, because it is a show that I have always fucking wanted.

  • Police detective procedural in the future guys. 
  • Karl Urban being grouchy about everything (which is, honestly, the main reason to watch the Star Trek movies). 
  • Once, Karl Urban in guyliner.
  • And Michael Ealy as Dorian, who honestly replaced Data as my favorite fictional android. (Sorry, Data, I still <3 you.)
Also, props to the show for making a universe in which androids are not all white dudes (though the show was kinda shockingly white and dudely otherwise, which is disappointing).

One of the themes of the show was exploring the difference between straight up non-person robots (the MX) and Dorian, who clearly was a fully realized person with his own thoughts and feelings. After Kennex kicked his MX partner out of the car in the first episode, my roommate bet me that one MX model would die an episode, and though it didn't go quite that far it was pretty close. Partially because it was a good way to introduce violence without having a lot of human characters die, and partially to demonstrate the emotional difference between an MX getting completely destroyed and Dorian getting damaged.

It also showed a world where tech is both the enemy and the aid. Advanced forensic technology is met with advanced criminal tech in a bitter war. Class issues are touched upon (I have the feeling that they would have been worked in more in later seasons), like the 'chromes' who are genetically 'uplifted' kids, all of them the children of the rich. Or the final episode, where homeless victims are targeted by a serial killer.

It's a show that I think had a lot more to say, but with the kind of expense that went into it, I can see why they didn't want to keep doing it. I think it cries out for an eventual comic continuation, though, and I would eagerly read a graphic novel continuing in this universe. (Especially if we finally get Dorian rooming with Kennex, because I was teased about it and then it never happened you bastards.)

Also, I hope that Michael Ealy gets more work on anything, ever, because he is fantastic.

(Coming up in Part 2, whenever I get around to it: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hannibal, Elementary, The Blacklist.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Things I Like: Chef!

With the introduction of shows like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, British television has really begun to reach mainstream America in a way that it really hasn't, before. But PBS has been showing British TV for a long time, and there are some of us who've been interested in it since we were little. I watched Doctor Who when I was little, but we also watched other stuff. There was Monty Python (naturally), Are You Being Served, Black Adder, Mr. Bean, Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, Fawlty Towers, Waiting for God- a really huge variety of shows. I didn't really watch a lot of 'normal' television before I turned 12 or 13 (my brother and I watched the Simpsons for a few episodes, but Mom banned it), it was mostly these shows that I watched.

One of my all-time favorites, and one I don't hear a lot of people talk about, is Chef! (The name of the show is Chef!, I'm not being over-excited about it.)

The show revolves around Gareth Blackstock (played by Lenny Henry), Chef de Cuisine at La Chateau Anglais, and is either the best chef in England or the best chef in the world (depends on who you ask).

Gareth is very good at what he does, and gets furious when his kitchen doesn't meet his exceedingly high standards. He has no true people skills (when it comes to comforting someone going through a rough time or talking with customers about their meal, he's terrible) and is even worse at maintaining an even keel with his wife, relying on large romantic gestures to close the gap when he's fucked things up again.

I have heard that Gareth's character is based partially on Gordon Ramsay, but I haven't been able to find that substantiated anywhere, and so I can't say for certain. I can certainly see why people might say that, though, and there are definitely similarities. 

The true humor of the show comes from the contrast of Gareth, who reigns his kitchen with an iron whisk, being thrust into incredibly awkward situations. It's about seeing the fish both in and out of water.

There are only three characters that are consistent for the run of all three series (as it's a British show, series = seasons), Gareth Blackstock, his wife Janice, and Everton (a kitchen aid who grows into a talented chef under Blackstock's tutelage).

Series One:

Series One is mostly about Janice and Gareth selling their house and car so they can buy La Chateau, which was being terribly mismanaged, and their adventures in keeping La Chateau afloat. Everton, who went to school with Gareth long ago, wants to work under him because Everton wants to be a chef, but he knows nothing about cooking, so he is started as a kitchen menial. It is, without a doubt, the best series of the three, which is a little unfortunate. It culminates in the only Christmas episode in all three series.

Series Two:

Let's be clear: I really like the second series, too. It's not quite as good as series one, but it's still really good, and it ends in one of the best episodes in all three series. La Chateau is doing well, as a restaurant, though they are critically understaffed. They take on a new chef, who (it turns out) is an amazing chef, but also is an alcoholic who must be watched around the wine. He's also a sexist jackass. Everton, it becomes clear, has learned a lot under Gareth and really can cook. Much to Gareth's annoyance.

Series Three:

The problem with series three is that it, largely, takes place outside of the kitchen. People watch Chef! to see Gareth deal with his kitchen, but for the most part, it runs without him. Or he's far too depressed to do much more than show up and cook.

Janice leaves him (which is only surprising, honestly, in that it has taken so long). This series deals with the fallout from that. Everton's growth as a chef is pushed aside by a new character, an incredibly annoying American woman. Everton's relationship with Gareth also seems to have been retconned a bit- they act a lot more like old school chums than they ever did. In previous series, Everton and Gareth had attended school together, but only really kinda knew of each other. It's also possible that this wasn't retconned, but had just never been explored in previous seasons.

However, series three also resolves a lot of plot threads that have been laid down since series one, so if you're really involved with the characters, it's worth watching. (Honestly, meeting Everton's Auntie Clarice is worth the price of admission, in my opinion).

**Important Edit: just discovered that Chef! is available on Hulu Plus, for those of you that have it.