Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Castle: Once Upon A Time In The West

by Michael Seese

Another winner! 

"Once Upon A Time In The West" is not to be forgotten, lost to the pages of history, or... OK, I think I've beaten that horse to death. 

I know in the past I've said that some of the episodes where most of the action takes place outside of NYC seem to be "lacking" because I see the city as a character. But in this case, the Diamond Back was a character all its own.

Picky aside: if someone poisoned you, would your dying words be the place the murder was committed, or THE PERSON WHO POISONED YOU?? It sure would have made the show a lot shorter. 


Another picky aside: the fact that the victim was from New York, and keeled over in New York is irrelevant. She was murdered in Arizona.

Final picky aside: Beckett seemed awfully cavalier about discussing the case (via cell phone with the boys back in the City) out in public.

One of the joys in this episode came from losing count of all the Western movie cliches and homages:

- The gun-spinning hotshot. (Followed by Beckett's look of amazement, and Castle's proclamation, "I want to be him when I grow up.")
- Castle's saloon entrance. (And the doors swinging back on him. I completely saw it coming.)
- The burning Bonanza map.
- The rolling tumbleweed.
- The bartender's google-eyed slow descent behind the bar when the gunfight was imminent.
- The gay cowboy neighbor. OK, that was new.

And lines everywhere.

Lanie: "I haven't hard a carb in months, just in case I had to put that damn dress back on."

Castle: "We got married, Mrs. Castle."
Beckett: "We certainly did, Mr. Beckett."

Castle: "I have three theories."
Beckett: "And I'm sure that none of them will be a waste of my time."

Esposito: "You still suck."

(Also, I loved how Captain Gates smacked Espo and Ryan down, calling them "school girls," if memory serves.)

Beckett: "This is so not our honeymoon."


Castle: "We approach this like writers."
Beckett: "So we procrastinate and make stuff up?"


Castle: "Of course I want to go after the gold. It's gold!"

A great look: the dour faces of Lanie, Ryan, and Espo (in contrast to the elation of Martha and Alexis) when Caskett made the announcement.

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I thought the Yavapai elder was a great character.


Oh, and...

Applause for the continuity editors, who remembered to put a scar on Beckett's chest at the end.

Whew! What did I miss?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flash! Friday: "Falling From Grace"

by Michael Seese

Cross your fingers. It's Flash! Friday time. I'm optimistic. But then I always am. This week, we had to include a famous author, and work this picture.





















Parental advisory: There is an F-bomb in the story. Without further ado, "Falling From Grace."




Some monkeys you just can’t get off your back. (And here, in Singapore, some monkeys you can’t get off your balcony.)

Come on, little fella,” I said, easing him down from the railing, my intended launching point. No sense in accidentally taking him with me. My soul is saddled with enough collateral damage.

The psychologists sang hymns of “addictive personality.” The doctors read the scripture of “chemical imbalance.” Fuck them all. It’s none of those. It’s who, what I am. Lord knows I’ve tried like the dickens to end it.

Drugs.

Shock treatments.

Straight-up withdrawal.

Nothing works.

Happy people are often described as addicted to life. Let me say, it’s no picnic. Being “addicted” to life. To living, that is.

Each time, on my way down, I ask God to end this curse. This crippled immortality. He says I must “cure myself.”

But I need His help. He needs to give me back my wings. Or let me fall.


Please let me know what you think. 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Finish That Thought: Contortions

by Michael Seese

I'll spoil the surprise. Between the time I wrote and posted this blog entry, I learned that I won.

YAAAY!

Back to my regularly scheduled entry....

This week's "Finish That Thought" asked us to build upon the sentence, "How did you get in [there]?" And the SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge was "include a strange addiction AND the names of at least two games (but not as games)."


“How did you get in there?” As a professional contortionist, I get asked that a lot. The truth is, contortionism (which is not a word, but should be) is a lot like life. More often than not, getting into the box isn’t the challenge. Getting out of it is.

“What are the qualifications?” others ask. Loose ligaments. Oily skin. Anti-claustrophobia. And a sense of humor. Maybe the latter isn’t a requirement. But it sure helps.

Think about it. Consider the inherent absurdity of the profession. Looking at an impossibly small and unforgiving contained volume, and thinking, Yeah, I can fit in there. As a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Extraordinarily Nimble Daredevils, I’ve spent a lifetime getting into and (so far, always) out of some tight squeezes. The strangest? A vacuum cleaner. OK, so, it was an industrial model. But still... And yes, Steve Martin got that one from me.

Quick joke: What’s a contortionist’s favorite movie? Twister! Another quick joke: What’s a contortionist’s favorite rock band? Twisted Sister! On a roll, so: Favorite food? Pretzels! I know. They suck. They’d never fly on Fallon. One more: Favorite car? Mercedes Bends! But it’s not like I have a monopoly on bad humor.

A third question I get asked a lot is, “Why?” Sometimes I wonder myself. The pay isn’t great, though I do appreciate the flexible hours, especially as a single…

What’s that expression? “If I weren’t laughing I’d be crying.”

Well, I should be crying. But I can’t. Not right now.

For right now, I’m wedged inside of a safe deposit box, with a flashlight clenched between my teeth, trying to jimmy the lock from the inside.

Back to question number 3. “Why?”

Because they insisted that I do it. They said it would be the perfect crime. Rent a safe deposit box. (Thankfully, the largest one at the bank.) Right around closing time, two people go into the room. And only one comes out. The other one uses her unique skill set to hide away in one of the cold metal coffins. Wait a few hours, until the cleaning crew has left. Emerge. Start drilling out the locks of others. Collect as much loot as possible. Climb back in. Then wait until morning.

When I woke up today, I had no intention of starting a second career as a criminal.

But if some very determined, very dangerous men kidnapped your daughter, you too would bend over backwards to save her. And that’s no joke.

 
What do you think of "Contortions?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Castle: "The Time of Our Lives"

by Michael Seese

I never thought I would TXT-SPK in a Castle review, but...

OMG!

What an episode that was!

And not just because ...

SPOILERS! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

... they got married. Personally, I'm basically neutral to that story arc; you knew it was going to happen eventually. To be honest, I'm just glad no one got shot or blowed up at the wedding. 


Quick aside: I was hoping that Castle would say to Alexis something like, "Do me a favor. Don't ever dye your hair."

To start, I think the writers really like coming up with clever segues from the murder to the "Caskett" domestic life. This time, it was knife slashing toward the hand, then another one bisecting the cantaloupe.

Reflecting on "The Time of Our Lives," I think one thing that must really be tough for any alternate-reality episode (of any show) is having the actors act like they don't know each other. Yes, they're professional. But still, Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, et al have been working together for seven-plus years now.

I lost count of how many references to alternate histories were tossed about in the first five minutes. Most notable, both Castle:

"Your old FBI squeeze? You're so lucky I came along and saved you from that life."
"It's like It's a Wonderful Life. Every time your phone rings, a victim gets their wings."

I thought that Nathan Fillion the actor did a great job playing the confusion morphing into recognition, starting with the way he felt his pockets, looking for the artifact after the explosion.

My favorite was:

Beckett: "I've only known you for a day. But it seems a lot longer."
Castle: "I have that effect on people."

Some of the other great lines:

Castle: "Come on! I would never sing 'Let It Go' as a duet."

Castle: "That is awful."
Martha: "Exactly what the critics said."

Beckett: "I expected you to be on your best behavior."
Castle: "Actually, this is my best behavior."

Castle: "I hate this world."

I also jotted down a few nice comic touches:

- Castle's worst mug shot EVER.
- The way he stealthed around the precinct.
- The entire Chelsea scene. (It would be great if she appears in a future episode, and Castle snaps his fingers as if to say, "Don't I know you...")

And a nice touching... um... touch:

When Beckett admitted that she had met Castle at a book signing, and he said, "You never told me that."

Finally, the looks:

- Castle's cocked eyebrow at Esposito's "We were just stuck in traffic" explanation.

- Beckett's glare at Castle after she realized he had brought her to that sports bar in order to catch the perp. "The bitch set me up," said my wife.

One last thing: Did anyone else notice that in the opening scene (so, obviously pre-alternate-reality) the kitchen cabinets looked "different?"

What are YOUR thoughts on "The Time of Our Lives?"


Monday, November 10, 2014

Indies Flash! Letting Go

by Michael Seese

First things first: my latest story for Janet Reid's flash fiction was named a finalist. It didn't take the prize, but I did think the winner was a pretty good tale.

And it's Monday, so it must be Indies Unlimited. Here is the photo of the week.























This was a funny one to write. The verbal cue talked about a "trans-harmonic camera." I decided to go with something like that. But it seemed as though my "brain-writing" efforts only generated about 100 words. But I sat down to type, and out came about 240. Voila! "Letting Go."

 

I hate these newfangled digital cameras. About the only good thing I can say about them is that when I take a picture of my thumb, I know it right away, which allows me to delete it and take another. Of my thumb, that is.

In fact, so pervasive was my photographic futility that it became a running joke around the house.

How can you tell it’s winter?”
Because Dad’s pictures show his glove, instead of his finger.”

For my entire life I’d had aspirations of being a great photographer. Unfortunately, now, I’m forced to admit that anyone associating my name with the name Adams would choose the creepy / kooky / mysterious / spooky television show family (not to mention upwards of a hundred others) before the great Ansel.

But hovering there on the periphery, seeing my family happy again, I wanted to capture the moment. Though try as I might, I could not get a clear picture. And for once in my... life, I needed to.

Damn!” I muttered. “Why can’t I get this thing to focus?”

Because you’re on a different plane,” came the answer from no one, from nowhere.

But I need to. I want to remember them the way they are. I want to remember.”

Of course you do. Everyone does. But it’s against the rules. You’re not supposed to remember them exactly. Your memory is supposed to fade. It’s how you let go.

But I don’t want to. I want… Who are those people?”


Kind of fun... yes / no?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Flash Fiction: "Undercurrents"

By Michael Seese

As I mentioned when I posted my most recent Flash! Friday, I needed to turn my attention to the latest Janet Reid contest.

Our mission was to use the words

long
beach
sand
bill
max

Originally, I wanted to try using them all as names. Long and Beach as surnames, then Bill, Max, and Sandy. (The Janet rules say you can "expand" words like that.)  But nothing was coming. 

With time running out, I pondered, pondered, pondered, and came up with "Undercurrents."



I have so many good memories of this place. Building sandcastles with my brothers. Chasing seagulls. My Dad’s white nose. Sometimes, seeing dolphins dancing above the waves. And eating ice cream ALL DAY LONG!

So many good memories.

And one horrible memory. Hearing my Mom’s screams when she looked out into the ocean and saw that Bill and Max were gone.

We come back to this beach every year. I think my parents hope they’ll see them again.

Why don’t they? I wonder.

I do.

I tell them. But they don’t believe me.

Maybe when they’re in heaven,” Max says.


What do you think... a winner or no?

Now, on to Indies Unlimited....

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Flash! Friday: Long Train Running Away

by Michael Seese

Another creepy entry from me for Flash! Friday. This week's winner in "Finish That Thought" used a second-person POV. (And I've used it once before, in a short story.) So I thought I would try it here, as that perspective can be quite effective.

We needed to work off this picture.


















But we've been encouraged to think outside the box and not use the photo literally. So here is "Long Train Running Away."


You look at the train cascading away into infinity and have only one thought. Escape. Escape from life, from this life. Escape from the future, the future you dread, but whose script already has been penned. In blood.

You look at your past. Town to town to town. Mistake to mistake to mistake. You wish you could get on the right track. But that train derailed long ago.

You look at the gallery of faces radiant, expectant. They beam like suns. You see only an eclipse. Look happy. They came to see a wedding, not a funeral. They’ll see a funeral soon enough.

You look at your maid of honoryour latest maid of honorwith your face of detachment as she gathers your ironically white train and gushes, "You look beautiful." Perhaps, some day, her too.

You look at your next victim, blissfully naive on this, the happiest day of his life, and tell him, “I do.”



Brrrrrr! Agree?

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to write 100 words for Janet Reid.