Padme and Anakin Love

Samael: Chapter Three, Page Seven

            “Samael.” He couldn’t see any harm in telling her.  Only a very small handful of people knew that name, and anyway, she didn’t know his face.  The best she could offer to the police right now was a voice ID. 

            And what if she did go to the police?  Leroy could have any case thrown out, couldn’t he?  Well, up until he inevitably got taken down for corruption, but that would be long in the future.  Those corruption investigations took forever, and right now no one even suspected him as far as Samael knew.

            “Fucking pretentious name, isn’t it?” asked Latoya, cocking her head and letting her hair slide over one shoulder.  She was very pretty.

            Samael laughed.  “It really is.”  She wasn’t going to the police.  This girl's life was as, if not more, messed up than his own.  Any idiot could lie and pretend they wouldn’t go tattling, but to be as calm as Latoya was, she had to be someone who didn’t want police attention.

            Samael was fascinated.  He’d met an insane idealist, Leroy, and an insane cynic, Sensei Barrie, but this was something new.

***

            Shiloh’s Best was all class, a high-end evening lounge with three famously beautiful bartenders and couches that probably cost as much as Samael’s whole apartment.  The lights were dimmed and soft music played, relaxing the clientele.

            It seemed Latoya was either a trusted regular or a big spender, because she secured a comfy VIP room and let Samael in through the window.  Good thing; he wasn’t taking off his mask, but would attract too much attention walking through the main room. 

            The VIP room was a miniature version of the main lounge.  A glass table surrounded by plush white chairs were in the center, while vases of flowers and avant-garde paintings were placed artfully around to hide the speakers that music poured from.  They were betrayed as being fake by their lack of scent, and so the room was left smelling curiously blank.

            Latoya said, “I like this place.  Sometimes I bring my higher-class clients here for a drink—they’ve got great service.”

            Samael smirked.  “Do I strike you as high class?”

            “No, but you’re not one of my clients, either.” She poured him his second shot for the evening before throwing back her sixth.

Yuu dead

Movie review: Hanna



Hanna is the fairy tale of…Hanna (Saoirse Ronan), a 15-year-old whose father Erik (Gerard Butler) has raised her alone in the woods, which isn’t creepy at all. He’s trained her to kill from birth for her protection, as powerful CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) is out to kill them both. Escaping from the woods when Wiegler finds them, Hanna and her father separate. Hanna must find her father and kill Wiegler before her life is cut very short.

Full review here at JournalStone.
Said Smoke

Samael: Chapter Three, Page Six

            She was sitting casually on top of a dumpster, leaning back against the brick wall and smoking a cigarette.  She showed only annoyance at the gun pointed towards her belly.

            “You want to get that thing out of my face?” she said, and he was so astonished that he did so.

            She had smooth cocoa skin and smooth black hair held out of her face with a clip.  She wore a tacky fur coat, heels high enough to make Samael wince, and something so skimpy underneath that it was barely visible beyond the coat bottom.  She made no move to run away, and showed no sign of being disturbed by what she’d just seen.  Then again, if her profession was what he thought it was looking at those clothes, it was entirely possible that she saw worse every day.

            Samael was unused to feeling so awkward.  He had become very good at what he did over the past couple of years, and had never faced a situation like this.  If he’d been caught by a screaming fan girl or a frightened passerby he would have just threatened them into silence…but he had a feeling that wouldn’t work with this girl.  So if he didn’t plan on killing her, what could he do?

            “What’s your name?” he asked her, standing up.  He did not holster the gun.

            She raised an eyebrow and stubbed her cigarette out on the dumpster lid.  “Why do you give a shit?”

            “I’m trying to decide whether or not to kill you,” he said honestly.

            She rolled her eyes and readjusted her position, getting more comfortable.  “You don’t tell someone when you’re thinking of killing them, stupid.  That gives them a chance to run away.”

            “Yeah, you look like you’re right on the verge of bolting,” said Samael.  “This doesn’t bother you?” He gestured to the dead body on the ground.

            “Should it?” she asked.

            “A girl as pretty as you shouldn’t be so cold hearted.”

            “When are you living?  Nineteen-fucking-sixty?”

            Sameal snickered in spite of himself.  It was a pretty dumb thing to say.  “I suppose it would be stupid to ask if you’re thinking of going to the police, too, since you could just lie.”

            The girl grinned and said simply, “I’m Latoya.  What’s your name?”

Yuu dead

Samael: Chapter Three, Page Five

“Goodamn fucking punks, what do they think they’re doing slashing somebody’s tires like we don’t have to pay for them!”

            John L. Woods turned the corner, and Samael had him.

            The throat was a soft place on a human body, but Samael could still feel the impact of stabbing John L. Woods in the neck all the way up to his shoulder.  He always got irritated when he read about someone sliding a knife into another person’s body.  Didn’t those authors know that there was muscle and bone and cartilage in there?  What did they think a body was made of?

            But the usual rush of adrenaline as he felt a life fade at his hands gave him strength.  Samael pulled John L. Woods’s body close to his own and dragged him further back into the shadows.  He couldn’t scream with his throat obstructed as it was, but if he struggled enough he might break free and alert others in the restaurant.  It was amazing how even the weakest person became strong when their lives were at risk.

            Samael held determinedly to his prey as his struggles grew weaker and his movements more sluggish.  Slowly, he let John L. Woods fall to the ground and pulled his washizaki free with a jerk.  It was while he was cleaning it that he heard a female voice say: “Wow.  That was pretty quick.”

            Tunnel vision is a term usually used to describe men at war.  Psychologists found that when men were in the heat of battle, they became so focused on their targets that they lost all ability to sense what was going on around them.  It was ridiculously easy to sneak up on such an affected soldier, even from the side.

            Though Samael had indeed had tunnel vision before, it had never been a problem, because he’d never had a target who he’d had to kill in a public place.  But now, as he whirled around, grabbing his gun from where it rested in his belt, he saw a young woman staring right at John L. Woods’s prone body…very young.  If she was legal he’d eat his mask.

            Shit.  He didn’t want to kill some poor, unrelated kid.

Jibrielle from Angel Sanctuary

Samael: Chapter Three, Page Four

            John L. Woods was almost always on Jin Craig’s premises or alone in his heavily secured condominium.  He had no social life, no family and no hobbies.

            However, he did seem to have a love for chili dogs at Bob’s Dog Palace.  At least twice a week he’d stop in to get an order of two chili dogs and fries.  As there was no drive-through window, he had to go inside to get them.

            Samael had waited for the perfect moment.  In the first week John L. Woods had sent men to pick his food up, and in the second he had gone into the restaurant and left again too quickly for Samael to do anything.

            On the Wednesday that Samael finally killed him, John L. Woods finally had time at 9:30 p.m. to sit down in one of Bob’s red plastic booths and enjoy his meal.  He did not notice Samael slashing the tires on his car as he ate. 

            There was a pay phone on the side of Bob’s that Samael waited beside, his washizaki drawn and hidden up the sleeve of his black coat.  He knew John L. Woods would have to use it to call for help, because his cell phone had been stolen yesterday and Bob’s had a policy against letting customers use the phone inside.

            Samael’s clothing had changed slightly in the two years that had passed between his first kill and now.  The dark, loose jeans were the same as before, but a dark coat had been added to hide the washizaki more effectively and he wore shoes with very soft rubber soles so no one could hear him coming.  Sensei Barrie had given him a black half-mask, (“You can’t breathe in those goddamn full-face ones”) and he’d dyed his hair black to blend in with the darkness.

            The half-mask was beautiful, though the workmanship wasn’t visible in the dark.  Samael and Michael both found that they enjoyed carving symbols into the soft wood, everything from Chinese characters to Egyptian hieroglyphs to pictures Michael had seen on book covers at work.  Soon Michael had begun to buy more masks, and then planks of wood to carve from scratch, but the one from Sensei Barrie was his favorite. 

            Loud footsteps and swearing alerted Samael that John L. Woods was coming his way.

Takarazuka Romeo and Juliet

Dorama review: Second Virgin



No spoilers.

*

Love stories usually bore me to tears. Love triangles, doubly so. But there are rare exceptions, when characters are interesting enough to sustain a romance-driven plot.

Nakamura Rui (Suzuki Kyoka) married at eighteen, gave birth at nineteen, realized she hated domesticity, and abandoned husband and son to devote herself to her publishing career. Now forty-five, she hides her loneliness, and the shame of a bum son (Ayano Go) surviving with the aid of a sugar momma (YOU), behind a tough facade. She falls in love again for the first time since her divorce with Ko, a married man her son's age.

Suzuki Ko (Hasegawa Hiroki) is a self-described "goal-oriented" businessman who was never interested in romance because all his passion was directed towards work. Falling ass-over-teakettle in love with Rui, he focuses on her in the same single-minded way with little regard for anything else--such as his wife.

Suzuki Marie (Kyoko Fukada), Ko's wife, is a spoiled girl with little understanding of life outside her tiny domestic sphere. Under great pressure from her parents to provide a grandchild, she heaps more and more pressure on Ko, growing angrier and angrier as he pulls away.

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*

Watch Second Virgin with English subtitles here.

Click here for more TV and dorama reviews.
Ric shooting from X-Factor 207

Samael: Chapter Three, Page Three

John L. Woods was arguably the best lawyer in Shiloh.  He had begun practicing criminal law right after graduation and rose through the ranks of his firm so quickly that it boggled the minds of his superiors.

            It wasn’t five years before the prestigious Simone and Roberts Et All Law Firm became Simone, Roberts and Woods Et All.  It was less than five years after that that John L. Woods separated from Simone and Roberts, as he was too ambitious to be one of a group, however highly regarded that group was.

            He was recruited by Jin Craig right after his separation.  She had just emerged from under her father’s wing and was astounding the business world with the gains she had begun to make in just months.  John L. Woods was as impressed as anybody; he sensed that here was someone who would appreciate his talents.           

            She did, and he had never grown bored working for her.  She would hand a legal issue over to him and leave him in charge of it without meddling or criticism. 

            But most exciting of all was the way Jin and her pharmaceutical company hand a hand in both legitimate and black market business.  Every day was a new challenge for him: On Monday he might be facing down a man who claimed that Jin’s medicines had poisoned him, and by Friday he’d been rooting around in the legal history of one of Jin’s underworld competitors to keep them from becoming a problem.  Not at all concerned with how his work affected people, John L. Woods thought only in terms of new challenges to engage his mind.

            Samael had been following him for nearly a month.  He had been forced to learn quickly that his first kill over two years ago had been the exception rather than the rule; it was very rare that an exact time could be given for him to strike at.  This was the longest he’d ever had to trail a target, however, and he might well have given up if John L. Woods wasn’t so close to Jin Craig.  His death would make her legally vulnerable, for though she had other good lawyers John L. Woods was a once in a lifetime genius.

            Samael was amazed to realize how patient he could be when he needed to.  His hate burned slowly inside of him and Jin Craig’s image in the back of his mind gave him the strength to do anything.  Even when Leroy called him to take out a target that had nothing to do with Jin Craig, Samael didn’t complain.  He viewed it as a job he had to do in order to move on to better, more desirable work and got it over with.

            That patience always paid off.  Now, after twenty-six days of hanging around street corners, studying John L. Woods’s schedule and going through silly wigs and disguises, Samael finally had his target alone.

Rogue and Gambit from "The End"

Movie review: The Princess and the Frog

No spoilers.

*

I saw this one in theaters two years ago and judged it so-so. Watching it again, I don't know why. It's great.

Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a poor waitress in 1920's New Orleans, dreams of opening her own restaurant. Her father (Terrence Howard) shared that dream, but never realized it before his death; Tiana works every minute to save up. Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) is a fun-loving, carefree dude whose family, sick of seeing him make nothing of his life, cut him off. Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), a rich daddy's girl, dreams of marrying a prince. Great: Charlotte will marry Naveen and achieve her dream, Naveen will be rolling in riches again, and with their patronage Tiana can open her restaurant.

Then the Shadow Man (the incomparable Keith David) steps in, wanting Charlotte's money for himself. Before a single night is through, Tiana and Naveen will meet jazz-loving crocodiles and romantic fireflies (Michael Leon-Wooley and Jim Cummings respectively), explore the deep bayou, and hopefully find voodoo priestess Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis) in time to save themselves and Charlotte--and before they fall in love, which could ruin their futures.

The Princess and the Frog is a Disney Princess movie. It is romance, happy endings, beautiful visuals, silly humor with talking animals, and family values. But it had great unique bits: the 1920s came alive through both visuals and music. Also: yay on hiring good voices instead of famous people, because the acting was perfect. Double yay on a prince who isn't perfect. Naveen was the first Disney Prince who didn't bore me. We've come a long way from flat princesses who rely on their looks to marry boring princes, and thank God for that!

*

Back to the Master List of movie reviews.
Maa-chan's Inada-hime

Samael: Chapter Three, Page Two

Once or twice, Samael came across them at night. Putting an end to one of his targets would also result in saving their lives. Sensible ones ran away from him as quickly as possible, but there were those who had stars pop into their eyes as they squealed about how grateful they were and how they’d do anything to pay him back…Jesus Christ on a stick, what did they expect him to do then, marry them?

To be fair, not all women were so shallow. Sensei Barrie seemed to have real affection for him that wasn’t romantic in nature. And her behavior towards him hadn’t changed one jot after he’d taken out his first target, or his second, or his third. Though he became colder and more withdrawn, she teased him in exactly the same way she had on the first night he’d stepped into her dojo. With her he could be himself, and as a result Michael began to look forward to his time training in her dojo more than his time in the bookstore being hounded by overly-made up, giggling sycophants.

And yet that time in the dojo was confusing for him. Without making a conscious decision to do so, Michael had begun thinking of “Samael” as a totally different person who just happened to share his body. Samael did a job once or twice a month and then…went away, letting Michael return to himself.

But it was Michael who enjoyed Sensei Barrie’s company, but she called him Samael. Whenever she did a wave of confusion would pass through Michael’s heart. He disliked it immensely, but what could be done about it? He couldn’t very well tell her his real name any more than she could tell him hers. That was against the rules.

More and more, it began to make him sad.
Padme with Pearls

Book review: Smut by Gil Reavill



The book's full title is actually Smut: A Sex-Industry Insider (and Concerned Father) Says Enough is Enough. Mr. Reavill spent his youth writing/editing porno rags, then married and had a daughter, and is now nervous about how full of sex everything she sees is.

Smut started off well. Mr. Reavill began with interesting stories about the rise of porn, how today it permeates mass-media in a way it didn't when he started working. He also had some challenging narratives about vile people within the porn industry, pointing out that the First Amendment is not something certain lowlifes care about, but a wall they hide behind so they can stuff their greedy gullets without consequence.

Unfortunately, Smut lost credit when Mr. Reavill went into a tirade in part two. Setting aside statistics, facts, and reasonable arguments, he ranted about everything from Will & Grace to Howard Stern. Somewhere in the middle he inserted that sure, South Park was funny, before sneering that the creators were trying to appear more sophisticated and less middle-class than they were through South Park's humor. Putting aside what a low blow that was, and that he had no evidence, what did Mr. Reavill's suspicions about elitism in South Park have to do with porn?

Too bad, because the well-written parts of this book are good indeed, thought-provoking yet readable. But people who oppose Mr. Reavill, or even interested readers who flip through the book and get to the rants first while skimming, will all-too-easily dismiss Smut's virtues due to its vices.

I recommend the first part of this book to anyone interested in quick pop-culture reads, but don't take it too seriously once you hit part two.

*

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