So, NBA Free Agency…

So, how about that free agency, huh? Well, the biggest piece’s move was an anti-climax with Paul George joining the Thunder. But everyone has said that that move is just a season long affair until the man known as PG-13 can go to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Warriors resigned Stephen Curry to a deal that’ll set him and his kids for life if the money’s managed well, Blake Griffin resigned with the Clippers to ease the pain of Chris Paul being traded to the Rockets, and Andre Iguodala is also staying in the Bay Area with a new deal as Kevin Durant waits to sign after taking a pay cut so this Warriors core intact so they can get another title.

What does this mean? Well, according to ESPN’s #NBARank, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are the only two players in the top 15 that hail from the Eastern Conference. The Western Conference is really top heavy. All the talent’s there, and if you’re a neutral fan without a team, it’ll probably be boring until the Finals where you wait to see if this Warriors team becomes a title closer to being called a dynasty. Are they? Well, as of the time is writing MGM is putting them at 10/17 odds to win it all. And since the season outlook is pretty predictable to some, let’s see the things worth paying attention to:

  • Will “The Process” amount to anything in Philadelphia?
  • Can Lonzo Ball be as good as advertised?
  • Can the Clippers FINALLY break through and give their fans a title that they feel this team can win? (As a Lakers fan, I hope not because it’ll be nothing but articles about a “changing of the guard” in The City of Angels). -__-

Short list, I know. So let’s talk about the notable free agents in 2018 (I’m not designating between restricted and unrestricted free agents):

  • Dwayne Wade
  • J.J. Redick
  • Chris Paul
  • Brook Lopez
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Tony Parker
  • Isiah Thomas

IIRC, LeBron has a player option for next season, so we have the potential to have 2010 free agency all over again. You excited? What does it mean that an offseason is more interesting than the actual season? I don’t know, but I just want to know if Jordan’s Bulls had any real challenges on their way to their titles.

And now, I must join my fellow Lakers fans in lamenting why we have made no moves and the fact that we have to deal with Lavar Ball. Magic Johnson better not be an executive like Phil Jackson.

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Getting Personal

See that picture? That’s me on my high school’s Senior Night after we beat our rival Palm Desert. Why am I showing you a picture of me as a high school senior? Because I think it’s relevant to this post.

Remember when I showed you the first paragraph of what I’m calling Welcome to Life in California? Well, the reason I’m doing it is because that story is based on something that I went through: moving to California from Virginia with my sister and my mother in 2002. I’m not going to say that everything that’ll go down in the final product is based on that move because it isn’t. I also won’t say WHEN the story takes place because I feel that if I put it to a specific date I’ll probably run the risk of limiting myself and I never considered myself to be the best when it comes to references or the technology of a specific era of time. So, there’s a sense of having some freedom to write. In addition, my experiences in those ten years is helping out a lot when it comes to writing things out; for example, I went to my high school’s website for help in figuring out how to write a scene and to see if there were any specifics I needed to mention.

And for the big thing: No, I probably won’t be “opening old wounds” or however the cliche goes. I don’t have the skill nor anything resembling intimate knowledge to justify putting that kind of stuff in. I will say that the fact that I’m doing something kind of personal and creating a story that the anime community would probably classify as “slice of life” means that it’s pretty easy to write and I can just knock it out of the park sooner rather than later and get it to editors and hopefully publish soon.

And then I can say something I never thought I think I’d do when I was in California.

Not having a job sucks

I’m not how much of a “first world problem” this is, but it’s something that eats at me all the freaking time: being unemployed is one of the worst things ever. Why does it suck? Mainly because I have no significant amount of money in my wallet, and any money that ever IS in my wallet goes away just as quickly as I get it, whether it’s my own fault by going out to get lunch or something or having to pay an Uber to get me to a place I need to be (which only reminds me about the fact that I need a driver’s license and I need to get one STAT), or whatever else, the fact I don’t have a regular source of income is something that just makes me feel like crap.

As for my writing, I may get a certain amount based on how much I write, or if I sell a certain amount of copies I publish (if and when I actually do publish), the the fact of the matter is that writing fiction is such a lottery that you must have the grace of God or some really amazing connections or some once in a lifetime talent to be able to make enough writing on money to make a living off of writing. And I’ll be the first to tell you I have none of those things. That doesn’t hurt me as much because I accepted the fact that it’s a lottery pretty early. Thanks, Wikipedia articles about famous creators!

However, the fact that I will most likely never make a killing in the writing business makes me feel like I need to get a real job now.

As a result, I spend my time applying to stuff on a regular basis. Let’s hope I don’t get too depressed.

What’s My Favorite Anime?

I haven’t really told this to anyone, but I’m an anime fan. I just love the out there worlds that they can create and when the good ones are good, they are REALLY FREAKING GOOD. It’s actually kind of hard to talk about what good anime really is unless you’re some kind of anime critic with a YouTube critic, which I’m not. However, I can tell you what my favorite anime of all time is. That particular title goes to Shinichiro Watanabe’s 2004 work Samurai Champloo. A year ago, I presented my case to the r/anime subreddit.  If you don’t want to go there and read the comments, I’ll put my case here,

If you read a lot of “Best/Greatest Anime of All Time” lists, Cowboy Bebop will surely be a regular fixture. But I’m not here to talk about Cowboy Bebop or how cool Spike Spiegel is or anything that can be summed up with “See you, Space Cowboy”. I’m here to talk about another anime directed by Shinichiro Wantanabe. An anime that is one of the only two anime that I have given a 10/10 on MyAnimeList. And my favorite anime of all time. I am talking about Samurai Champloo.

What’s This About?

The story takes place in Japan during the Edo period. The first episode introduces us to the three main characters: A wandering swordsman named Mugen, a ronin named Jin, and a waitress named Fuu. The setup is that Mugen and Jin meet at the tea house where Fuu works, and they get into a fight. In the process, a magistrate’s son is murdered and Fuu’s tea house is burned to the ground, resulting in Mugen and Jin being sentenced to death. However, the two are saved from death by Fuu. And Episode 1 ends with the setup of the anime: Fuu asks Mugen and Jin to accompany her to find a “samurai who smells of sunflowers”. And over the course of 26 episodes, we see their journey.

Why Should You See This?

You ever hear of the saying “It’s the journey, not the destination”? That’s one of the best ways I can describe this anime. Because the fun of watching this anime comes from seeing a Japan that isn’t like the one from history. We have a version of Edo-era Japan that has rap, graffiti taggers, and in Mugen, a swordsman that isn’t a swordsman that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before (at least I haven’t). Not only that, but you get to watch the development of the friendship between the three main characters on what’s basically an awesome road trip.

But let’s talk about what’s the strongest asset Samurai Champloo has going for it: THE MUSIC. This has one of the best scores I have heard in anything ever, not just in anime. The soundtrack was headed by the late Nujabes, who helps to bring the hip hop feel of Samurai Champloo to life. Music has always been one of the high points of any Shinichiro Wantanabe work, and this is no exception. And just like how jazz, blues, science fiction, and film noir mesh together seamlessly in Cowboy Bebop, we see hip hop and samurai mesh seamlessly here.

But don’t just take my word for it, here are some tracks:

The opening track, “Battlecry” by Nujabes featuring Shing02

The main ending track, “Shiki no Uta”, by Nujabes featuring Minmi

The ending track from the final episode, “San Francisco” by Midicronica Personal Note: listening to this while rewatching this solidified Samurai Champloo as my favorite anime of all time.

Where Can You Watch This?

Samurai Champloo can be watched both subbed and dubbed on Hulu, subbed and dubbed on Netflix (at the time of me writing this, Febuary 16th, 2016), and episodes can be bought on iTunes (though I can’t find any information regarding being subbed or dubbed on iTunes).

Samurai Champloo is my favorite anime of all time. And at the very least I hope you find this to be a great anime and a great title from a great director. It’s very rare that I come across something that I want to see again and again without getting tired, but this is one of those things. So if you want to see a great tale of swordsmen, a great tale of samurai, a great character driven journey, watch something with great music, or any combination of the aforementioned things, check out this anime. You’ll like what you find.

In the time I made that post to Reddit and now, I must sadly report that Samurai Champloo is no longer streaming on Netflix.com and is DVD only. It’s still on Hulu though, but Hulu has gone to the point where you HAVE to create an account and create a plan, so if you want to take that plunge, that’s up to you. The series can still be bought on iTunes.

Another thing I forgot to write originally is that in episode 12, there’s a recap of what’s happened in the show so far…and the final scene is so funny and unlike anything I’ve seen before that I’m not going to spoil it here.

What I WILL say is that Samurai Champloo is an amazing anime (it’s one of the few things I’ve given 10/10 on MyAnimeList) and everyone needs to see it. That’s when you know something is good: when you have to tell everyone to go see it.

So yeah, I’m an anime fan. And Samurai Champloo is my favorite anime

Back to Drexel

Yesterday, I went back to my alma mater of Drexel University for a meetup featuring the people in my major of Film & Video. It’s always great to go back to your old school and catch up. For starters, Drexel is still doing construction on its campus.


Secondly, some of my favorite food spots are there, like the halal cart that’s a great place for a college student to spend five dollars.

Also, there’s the Cheese E. Wagon, which features some of the best things you can do with cheese, from grilled cheese sandwiches to killer burgers.

And be sure to say hi to the owner Mike. And be sure to wish him luck in Arizona, as he aims to take on what he calls an emerging food truck scene.

As for Drexel itself, one of my old advisors moved on, and I need to find a way to contact him. Regarding the alumni, a lot of them are doing pretty well.some have work either through connections or chance (which is kind of normal for my field), and some are still trying to make a name for themselves, like me. I told them what I’m doing (such as this blog) and they’re actually really glad that I’m doing things. A lot of them thought I’m ahead of the game by having business cards. I’m not sure how big a deal it is to have business cards, but I’ll still carry them with me.

I’m not sure what else to say except this:

To Karin Kelly, who supported me an immeasurable amount,


To Gerry Hooper, who was one of the first to tell me I was a great writer and introduced me to Akira Kurosawa,

And everyone else that helped to make Drexel a great place for me to go to college: Thank you. I don’t think I can thank any of you enough.

So, my mom and I went to see Wonder Woman.

NOTE: WHILE THIS WON’T HAVE MAJOR SPOILERS, THERE WILL BE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE MOVIE. SO, IF YOU WANT TO SEE WONDER WOMAN, I RECOMMEND THAT YOU SEE THE MOVIE BEFORE READING THIS. IF YOU SAW THE MOVIE, I HOPE YOU ENJOY WHAT I HAVE TO SAY.

Ah, Wonder Woman. DC’s Finest Lady. I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a comics fan. I don’t read comics and I don’t get super excited for every comic book movie that comes out. But I’ve seen some. As for Wonder Woman, I’ve only ever seen the 2009 animated film and a few episodes of the 1970s show with Lynda Carter. But I know enough about them and their powers and their enemies thanks to pop culture, and this movie was one I was super excited for. And oh my God this was awesome. If you get to know me, it’s kind of rare that I get super excited that I want to see it either on opening night or in the days immediately after. And 2017’s Wonder Woman is one of those rare movies. I’m glad I had this hype, and I’m glad this movie delivered. Wonder Woman is a pretty cool hero, and people have been wanting her to get a solo movie for years. I can see why. This movie had great action, great characters, and surprisingly great comedy.

The best part was the chemistry between Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine). Whether it was in the scenes in London or on the battlefields of World War I, you can see that they have this unbreakable bond, and you can see it forged. My favorite scenes between them were when Wonder Woman was adjusting from Diana, Princess of Themyscira to her secret identity of Diana Prince. There are a lot of jokes and fish out of water scenarios that had me cracking up. I don’t want to give them away because when you see an amazing movie, I think that the best way that you can sell this movie is when somebody asks you about a particular thing, you can only respond with “I can’t tell you. You have to see it for yourself.” I’ve only seen bits and parts of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I’ve heard that Gal Gadot was the best part of that movie. With her own movie now, I can’t wait to see what Gal Gadot does in the future.

The other thing that really worked in this movie was surprisingly the World War I setting. And I think it was because of how naive Wonder Woman was when she left with Steve and how she grows throughout the movie and sees more, and I don’t think that naivete works as well as it does if there was a performance as good as Gadot’s. Let me explain: I’m a bit of a history fan in that I like to read and watch stuff about history. And when you immerse yourself in history as much as I have, you notice something: the two World Wars are great at explaining subtexts and bigger things, and works will take the chance to use them as a backdrop. World War II is great at showcasing the ultimate conflict of good versus evil and all the derivatives that come from that. World War I is great at showcasing the horrors of war, mostly in the forms of what a soldier sees on the battlefield, the suffering a soldier endures, how much it sucks to realize you’re stuck in a war where you don’t really know what you’re fighting for (which can be said is the subtext of stuff that showcases the Vietnam War, I’d say World War I takes away anything that could be considered subtlety), and how generals and officers in cushy positions just don’t care about how every second the war continues, they prolong the suffering of civilians and grunts on the front lines. And with Wonder Woman, the crux of the character development comes from learning that there are times when war isn’t as black and white as World War II movies make them out to be, and being exposed to the shades of gray. And I’m in my seat going between riffing it in my mind and thinking, “Oh dear God, please don’t let Diana learn about The Holocaust”.

The only gripe I have is minor, and that the action scenes reminded me a bit about Batman v. Superman, and from what I’ve heard and seen from that movie, that’s not a good sign. But that’s a nitpick because the fight scenes in this movie are freaking awesome. I really like Wonder Woman’s fighting style and the way they were shot really makes me think wielding a sword and shield is pretty badass. Here are the action scenes I loved the most, though you have to see the movie to truly appreciate them:

  • The fallout of Steve Trevor arriving in Themyscira.
  • Wonder Woman going over a trench into No Man’s Land.
  • Also, there’s a move where you jump on a shield and wreck everything. It’s done in this movie, and it has to be seen to be believed.

That’s all I have to say. Here’s my mom to share her thoughts. She was looking to this as much as I was, if not more so:

Growing up a Wonder Woman fan, I was very excited to see this movie.  I had my reservations about Gal Gadot being cast as my favorite superhero but she more than did an excellent job in this role.  She made the warrior princess come to life.

What I truly liked about this movie was that Wonder Woman was portrayed as a woman – strong, intelligent, confident, fearless but with a soft, vulnerable and innocent side.  She had to learn about herself, her strengths and to truly believe she was powerful.  

This well written, well directed and well-acted movie makes you face the truth about humanity, how painful the loss of innocence is and what the meaning of true love is.  Fighting for something bigger than you requires strength, courage and a mental toughness that not everyone has.  Wonder Woman was forced to grow up emotionally and learn the harsh realities of the world her mother tried to protect her from.  Like many young women, the first time facing the real world alone is scary, confusing and heartbreaking.  Wonder Woman is no different.

The refreshing part of the movie was that Steve wasn’t the punkish weakling that continually needed to be saved like in the 70’s series.  Instead, Chris Pine’s Steve tried to protect Wonder Woman and help her accept the reality of the world off her island while still allowing her to keep her hope for a better world without war.  Even Wonder Woman needs friends.  She had a motley crew of supporters but they had her back every step of the way.

The action scenes were great, the light comic relief scenes will make you chuckle and the cliche that love always wins is done in a not so sappy way.  

Still a Wonder Woman fan and can’t wait to see her in more movies!

Martin’s Mom

So there you have it. Two recommendations in one blog post. I’d honestly say that you will not be disappointed if you see Wonder Woman. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to the theme that Lynda Carter made famous.

 

 

 

Answers

WHAT? A sequel? Yeah, kind of. This takes place after Sirens, which I posted yesterday. This one I wrote in my senior year at Drexel. I wrote this for my Writing Fiction class.  Here’s the class description taken directly from Drexel’s online catalog:

“A creative writing workshop course focusing on fiction. Students read and write short stories. Students develop skills by creating complete fictional works and critiquing the work of other students. Emphasis placed on narrative structure, prose style, pacing, voice and tone, appropriate material, character, plot, description, dialogue, and editing.”

Anyway, this story was originally called A Night At The Bar when I wrote the first few paragraphs for my midterm in that class. The title Answers came when I wrote the rest. I explain it more in the Author’s Notes, and I’m going to leave the date at the end because it captures the spirit of that college student I had doing it for this class. As always, let me know what you think, especially if you want me to expand this further because I think this one has potential to actually be something bigger.

Answers

Steve rode his motorcycle down the dark night streets until he found the familiar turn in the road. And then when he turned right, he found it. The same overpass connecting the two buildings. The hues of the red lights that preceded tons of bars, shops and other…less than savory things. And one thing came to his mind: How long has he been gone, because it hadn’t changed at all. Instead, he just rode down until he found the bar. But this wasn’t just any bar. This was a bar that had posts of work of questionable legality, and just like many of the places in this neighborhood, there was always the prostitute willing to take you for a round…or whatever you wanted for the right price. Steve just walked to the door as he always did. Walking inside he made his way down the stairs to a lower door. And then he knocked.

got some scars to show for it. Be sure that we get your picture taken so your profile can be updated, okay?” “Okay,” Steve replied. And then, Steve’s eyebrow rose. “ What was that about a bombing? That’s news to me.” But then, Jeff was gone tending to another soul. Indeed, Steven had been out of the loop for a while. All that was needed from him was to be a getaway driver, and after a lot of things went south, Steve found himself on the ground writhing in pain and agony, shrapnel in his eye, and in the worst pain in his life as he saw his beloved car be stolen. He could feel he had gotten a raw deal, and he was going to pay for it with his life. The next few months were rehab, conversing with an android nurse called Sakura, and working at his friend’s restaurant to pay his medical bills. But he knew that if he wanted his burden of bills to be a thing of the past, he knew he had to do a job, so here he was. Plus, the thrill was too much to pass up. Putting the scotch and cigarettes on hold, Steve went into a room and got his pictures taken for a file that had the names, pictures, scars, and tattoos of anybody take a job from the establishment. And it was Steve’s turn to have his file updated. He had his picture taken different ways. Front, right side, left side. With his eye patch. Without his eye patch. With his shirt. Without his shirt, that showed all the scars from the bombing that were spread across his torso. When it was finally done, Steve was able to get to the bar and get a glass of scotch and a carton of cigarettes. Steve was contemplating with his scotch and was about to switch to the cigarettes, but then something caught his eye. A young blonde woman, blonde hair in a ponytail sporting a white shirt, a black skirt, and a black necktie to complete the look. And she was going to town on a punching bag, finishing with a powerful punch that saw her punch through the bag like it was nothing. And if Steve wasn’t mistaken, he saw what seemed like electrical sparks come from her gloves. The woman fiddled with her gloves and sat down next to Steve.

“Jeff, I punched a hole in your punching bag. Let me know how much I owe you for it.” The woman said. “Son of a bitch, Christina,” Jeff replied. “I take it your gloves are working perfectly. How wonderful.” “Watch the sarcasm.” Christina retorted. “It’s my goddamn bar. I’ll be the most sarcastic little shit if that’s the mood I want to be in!” Jeff responded. “Anything I can get you, ma’am?” “Not right now” Christina answered. And with that, Jeff was off. “You’re a new face. You look like you come from some high-end part of the city.” Steve extended his carton of cigarettes. “Name’s Steve. Want a smoke?” Christina smirked. “Sure. Why not?” She called on Jeff to give her a light. “Two questions. One, that your motorcycle out front? And two, what happened to your face that got it looking like that?”

“Well,” Steve began. “To start off, I got my face by having Nico’s literally blow up in front of me. My left eye had to be taken out because there was so much freaking debris in it, so the guys who worked on me took it out and gave me a prosthetic with a red pupil. And a cop gave me the eye patch as a “congrats for surviving” present or something. So excuse me for having scars that make my eye look like the sun. As for the scars on my right eye…it’s personal. We haven’t hit it off yet and as a result, I won’t tell you that story.” Steve finished his scotch. “As for the motorcycle, got it at a police auction. Knew I had to get it when I saw the attached sidecar. Looking at it, I saw that said sidecar had a compartment for storing stuff. Makes for a great place to keep a spare helmet for somebody who wants to join me on the road. Getting that thing was the only time I ever splurged since I left the hospital. What about you? And your gloves?”

gloves?” “Alright, Steve entertained.” Where did you get your gloves?”

“Karen Talley designed them,” Christina answered. “Did you ever hear of her?” Steve could only reply with a flat no. “She’s a great engineer. Used to work for a killer scientist, then he just left town. Now it’s just her and the android he built. Nice little thing. Goes by, uh, Sakura, I think? Can’t think of a reason for a name like that.”

Steve’s eyes lit up. “Sakura? That’s the nurse that took care of me. Do you know anything else about either of them? I’ll pay you for information if that’s what you want. But I only want information.” Christina sighed and let out a chuckle. “Fine.” She said, “My place? And maybe I can see your motorcycle?” Steve smiled. “I use the hidden compartment for a spare helmet and goggles,” Steve answered. And with that, Steve paid for his scotch and cigarettes, and he and Christina were gone. Jeff saw the two head out. “Pretty lucky for a guy that had nothing but a hospital bed a few months ago.” he thought.

The two made their way to Steve’s motorcycle. “Pretty nice ride,” Christina commented as she looked at the motorcycle. “If you hadn’t told me about the compartment in the sidecar, I never would have thought that this thing would be at a police auction.” “Yeah, my buddies I went to the auction with said that the thing was caught being used in drug running. Apparently, nobody expects the motorcycle with a sidecar.” Steve replied. Christina asked Steve to take her home. As Steve rode with Christina in tow, he saw the storefronts on the streets turn from greasy spoons and pawnshops and 24-hour bodegas to high-end boutiques and trendy bars with lines going at the door and restaurants with outdoor seating. The whole thing seemed rather surreal to Steve, and women eyeing his motorcycle as he waited at a red light only seemed to solidify that Steve was pretty much a fish out of water.

“So, Christina,” Steve inquired as the light turned green again. “Is it normally like this on the way to the West End?” “Is it like what?” Christina replied. “Do people around these parts normally balk at a guy with a motorcycle? I mean, I’ve never been around here, but it seems that I have all the eyes on me.” “Eh,” Christina answered. “There are nice and flashy cars all the time around these parts, and I don’t think you’re any different. If anything, they’re balking at the site of a sidecar, when normally a girl would be wrapping their arms around the badass biker in a ‘dating they bad boy your dad hates’ kind of way. But either way, you should be around here during the day if you want to see a touch of class. I can’t complain, some of these people pay pretty well.” Steve just sighed. “Don’t worry,” Christina said. “We’re almost at my place.” Steve rode on until he saw the outskirts of a park. The perimeter was scattered with restaurants and luxury condominiums and high-rise apartment buildings. Christina directed Steve to her building The Wharton. As Steve parked his motorcycle in front of the building, he found himself just mesmerized at the sight of the building, not noticing Christina put away the spare helmet and goggles in the sidecar’s compartment and he found himself face to face with a burly, hulking robot when he came back to reality. Further shocking Steve was the fact that there was four of the same model robot in a formation surrounding his motorcycle. “Don’t worry,” Christina assured him as she walked back outside. “They’re not going to hurt you. The Wharton has these things guard vehicles when it gets late, and they’ll disperse when you’re ready to leave. Unless you want to head to a parking garage, that is.” Steve just stared at the robot inspecting him as if the two were about to go into a fight. Steve adjusted his eye patch so his artificial eye and its red pupil could give an illusion of machine versus machine. “Did I mention that this service is free? And that there are cameras watching the entrance?” Christina added. “So there is, huh?” Steve replied. He readjusted his eye patch and patted the robot on the head and walked into the Wharton, following Christina into the elevator and into her dwelling Apartment Number 1017 and as soon as Christina said the words “make yourself comfortable” he was sitting on the couch, albeit gently as he didn’t want to disturb any of the high class that he found himself surrounded by.

“Would you like any refreshments?” Christina asked. “Just a water, I guess,” Steve answered. Christina came to the living room with a water bottle in hand and gave it to Steve. “So,” Steve said. “Tell me about this Karen Talley and this Sakura.” “Okay,” Christina began. “So, there’s this great scientist Dr. Haverford. He’s real great with robotics and whatnot and he’s made a fucking killing. He’s had Karen as his assistant for years.” Steve finished his water. “What about Sakura?” he asked. “Calm your balls, I’m getting there.” Christina retorted. “The thing is, everyone says that Sakura was his last major achievement. Because after he made Sakura, he just fell off the face of the Earth. Karen runs the lab now and she dedicates her time to taking care of robots and making prosthetics and just taking care of people’s robotic needs. Sakura helps sometimes, though, but you know she’s a nurse at…where did you stay?” “Dorsey Memorial,” Steve answered. “There you go. She’s a nurse at Dorsey Memorial Hospital.” “Hey, do you know if Karen is looking for this Dr. Haverford by any chance? Because you just said he disappeared after he built Sakura.” Christina thought for a moment. “Actually”, Christina answered. “I have something that can answer that question. I’ll be right back.” Christina left the couch and headed to a room in the apartment. When she returned, she had a poster and a manila envelope. At the top of the poster in big letters were the words MISSING: DR. CONRAD HAVERFORD. “Karen has been printing these out pretty frequently. I know that because it’s one of the jobs that always seem to find its place on the job board at every bar and club advertising. Must be some cops and detectives that aren’t scared to tangle with my kind of crowd, even if it’s just a way to get leads about things that leave them scratching their heads.” Steve looked at the poster, studying all its details, from the picture of Dr. Haverford to the bottom of the poster talking about the reward being offered for his safe return and/or information leading to said return. As Steve prepared to put the poster in the envelope, Christina snatched it away. “Hey! What’s the big idea?” Steve asked. “It’s a surprise,” Christina answered. “I don’t do it for everybody I give information to. I’ll do it for you because you seem pretty cool.” As Christina answered, her phone rang. “Hello?” she answered. “There’s a guest at the front desk for me? What is she wearing?” A brief moment of silence followed. “A trench coat? Stockings? Black high heels? Sounds like someone I’m expecting

As the elevator returned to the ground floor, Steve gave a small hello to the doorman and Christina’s guest before heading back to his motorcycle. He placed the envelope in the sidecar compartment, but on his helmet and goggles and rode off. He let out a sigh as his traditional sights of old apartments, neon beer signs, and the streetlights above convenience stores returned and adorned the streets. Steve slowed down as he reached Nutter Street, he turned left and slowed when he saw the shine that came from the Chinese restaurant that told him one thing: he had reached home. Steve turned left and stopped, pushing his motorcycle past the sidewalk and turned left into the alley behind his building and putting the kickstand down and opening the compartment to retrieve the envelope before putting his cover over it. “Perks of a police auction.” Steve thought. “They were nice enough to throw in a goddamn cover.” Steve walked out of the alley and walked into his building and trekked up the stairs and into his apartment. Looking at the place, he took in his dwellings and realized that there was pretty much no chance that he would live in as posh dwellings as Christina, even though he was pretty content with that knowledge. As he walked in he heard a meow and a rubbing at his feet. “Hey, Felix,” Steve said to the cat. “You definitely won’t believe who I met tonight.” Steve walked to the kitchen table, sat down and opened the envelope, followed by Felix who jumped onto the table from a chair. When Steve flipped the envelope and shook out its contents, out came the missing poster, along with some other papers. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the surprise that Christina had prepared was pictures of her in provocative attire and provocative scenarios. Along with the pictures came a note:

Steve,

You seem pretty interesting. If you go looking for Dr. Haverford, I wish you good luck. Thanks for the ride home, by the way. Consider these photos a way of repaying you. I’m here if you need some muscle…or a good night.

-Christina

After reading the note, Steve put his hand into the envelope to see if there was anything left Christina placed to surprise him with, and all he found was a card that had Christina’s phone number. “Check it out, Felix,” Steve said to his cat. “She’s really something, isn’t she?” Felix meowed and jumped off the table and walked away. Steve just sighed and put the pictures and card back in the envelope, took it and the poster to his room put the envelope in his dresser and pinned the poster to his wall with a thumbtack. As Steve looked at it, he contemplated. If he could find Dr. Haverford, he could be done with his medical bills for good. And maybe he could buy something nice for his place as well. Not as swanky as Christina’s or any place on the West End, but it would be something. And in the millions of thoughts that raced through his head, Steve thought if he started the search for Dr. Haverford, maybe there was a chance he could figure out how he wound up in the hospital all those months ago. That’s what Steve knew was involved in the location of Dr. Haverford: answers. Feeling good about all that had transpired in the last few hours, Steve finally got into bed and went to sleep. As Steve slept that night, he dreamed of the search for Dr. Haverford on his motorcycle.

The next morning, Steve was up bright and early with the rising sun. The first thing he did after taking a shower and putting food out for Felix was look at the poster. He saw the bottom of the poster and studied the address. As soon as he got the address down pat, he took the poster down, folded it, put it in his pocket, and headed off toward Karen’s lab. Once there, he saw the storefront that read HAVERFORD ROBOTICS and the balcony above featuring an American flag hanging from it. From that image, Steve figured that he had the right place. Before going any further, Steve went into his phone and dialed a number. “Hey, Bobby. Yeah, I’m going to be a little late coming in today. I just have some matters to attend to before I come in. I won’t take too long to come in.” And with that call, Steve only had one thing on his agenda to do: talk to Karen. He walked up to the door and knocked on it. When the door opened, he saw a redheaded woman sporting goggles and a lab coat. “We’re not open yet.” The woman said looking at her watch. “Come back in about three hours or so.” “Are you Karen Talley?” Steve asked. “I am,” Karen answered. “And I told you before, and I’ll tell you again, we’re not open yet.” “Sorry,” Steve replied before taking out the poster and unfolding it. “I just came to see if you had any information on Dr. Haverford I could use before I head off to look for him and bring him back.” Karen’s eyes widened and she took off her goggles. “So that’s the case, huh? I’ve heard some people reach out to me about him, but never come to the front door of my lab, which is right below my residential dwelling.” “Yeah, sorry if this is a bad time. I’ll come back later.” Before Steve could head off, however, he felt Karen grab his arm. “Come in. Come in. I can talk and give you some information.” And with that, Steve was pulled inside Haverford Robotics. Inside, there was a slew of projects, blueprints, and tools littered around, albeit in some form of order, like multiple states of organized chaos. Karen sat Steve down at a table, holding a picture of her and a man that he concluded was Dr. Haverford after looking at the photo and the missing poster.

“Dr. Haverford was my first major job in the field after I got out of college.” Karen began. “He was a really smart guy, a real man who liked to help people. I’ll admit he came a little eccentric and had some out there stuff.” Karen walked off to a wall and came back with some blueprints, unrolling a set before Steve. “Like these gloves he created. The idea was to just punch into a generator or a power circuit or some other appliance and the electricity will spread through the thing giving it power. I feel like he came up with the idea after watching a Happy Days marathon.” Steve chuckled at the story. “That actually makes a lot of sense once you think of it like that. Or at the very least, the idea that you could come up with an electric glove after watching Happy Days. “And then, all of a sudden he just disappears after getting a real lucrative job. He left a note. A note! Said the whole thing was hush-hush and classified, tells me to look after the lab in case he doesn’t call back, and after a few months, Sakura shows up at my door, and she has a note saying how to keep her at full power, that the doc had set everything up so that she will have a job at the hospital as a nurse, and telling me to look after her. I just want to know why he just skipped town and didn’t even freaking write. The least he could fucking do was write, for fuck’s sake! And I’m hoping that he turns up soon because if it turns out he’s kicked the bucket a long time again and the thing had been under wraps for whatever reason, that’ll be a fucking headache for me with all the legal hoopla. I mean, I can run this place by myself pretty well, but I have this gut feeling that he’s out there, and he’s still alive and kicking. I’m not ready to give up faith yet. I mean, maybe he’s doing something to make money to keep the lights on here, who knows?” Karen sighed. “But, at the end of the day, I can’t complain. Because all things considered, Sakura is a great android, and there isn’t anything or anyone like Sakura.”

“Did someone here ask for me?” Suddenly, a rather monotone yet feminine voice piqued the attention of Karen and Steve. The source of the voice was a five-foot tall woman. Or, as Steve and Karen knew, an android made to resemble a woman. She had a small smile on her face as if it was calculated to give the appropriate facial expression to make an impression on the people in the room she was entering.er mechanical mind granted her. “Oh. So you’re the Steve that Sakura was telling me about these past few months.” Karen said. “It’s nice to finally meet you and have a face to the name, and it seems that your appearance matches Sakura’s description.” “How are you doing yourself in the time since you were in the hospital?” Sakura asked. “I’m doing fine,” Steve answered. “My artificial eye is still scanning the names and vitals of people and the models and serial numbers of robots when I look at them with it.” “Ah,” Sakura noted. “It seems that must be a downside to the eye. If you were an android like myself, you would be able to process the information and have it stored in your memory banks in a matter of seconds. Instead, you have to do something to retain the information somehow. Your predicament seems rather unfortunate. But, as in the time of your rehabilitation, you do not seem to be reacting negatively to the situation once you realize the actual situation. But there one thing I do not understand, Steve. What are you doing here?” Sakura tightly embraced the poster and ran off with it. Karen walked off and returned with a new poster for Dr. Haverford. “You’re…you’re most likely not going to get that back, so here’s a new one for you. It’s got the same information and everything.” Karen said. “Like I said, I haven’t seen Dr. Haverford since he left on what I can only assume is some classified project and the last I heard from him was Sakura arriving here. I hope whatever he was doing wasn’t too shady. I mean, I know I sold those electric gloves I showed you to a bounty hunter. I’m not one to dive into crime. But I will tell you, if anyone tries to hurt me or Sakura, I will fight back.”prosthetic arm on a worktable in another room. “I’ll leave you to your work now. I got to get to work.” And with that Steve made his exit, hightailing it on his motorcycle to get to work.

The Hungry One Diner wasn’t the most luxurious diner, but to a lot of people, Steve includedwere twenty minutes you were late by, then we’d have to start talking. Also, next time I probably won’t be so lenient on you.” Bobby hit Steve on the top of his head with his fist. At least you called me and told me this might happen, so I can’t be too angry. But still, ten minutes. TEN MINUTES!” Steve couldn’t tell if Bobby was playfully being angry or was genuinely pissed, but judging by the way Bobby was talking, Steve guessed that the former was the more likely option. “How’d your morning go?” Bobby asked. “Pretty well,” Steve answered. “I just talked about this.” Steve pulled out the missing poster. “I was wondering if we could put it up on the wall because we have announcements about all the other stuff going on in the community. And in case something happens to me, I thought someone would try to go for this.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, “Bobby retorted. “What’s going on? Are you really telling me that you’re talking about jumping back into the game, man?” Bobby pulled Steve’s eye patch and watched as it snapped back to its place over Steve’s eye. “Do you remember what happened last time?” “Yes, I do,” Steve answered. And no offense, but being a cook won’t pay my medical bills as fast as a bounty would, man.” Bobby sighed. “You’re right about that, I just want you to have a place where you’re safe. But, I guess I have to assume that these underworld jobs are things that just keep calling back to you, I guess.” And with that, the conversation ended and Bobby and Steve went inside. As for the day that transpired? It seemed like things would be a normal, run of the mill day at The Hungry One. Bobby and Guy took care of the front of the front half of the restaurant, and Steve would kill it in the back half of the restaurant with the occasional assist from Guy when the occasional swamp of tickets hit, though that particular thing didn’t happen on this day. Instead, it was rather slow, with Steve being lucky enough to catch the occasional news update on TV. Steve had come up with a plan: work for about a month or two, make enough money that he could save for a trip of indefinite length, and head off to look for Dr. Haverford, and find him and bring him home or die trying. The rest of the day, Steve thought that he had a great, concrete, bulletproof plan, and he mused to himself all the things he felt he would need. However, Guy’s metallic voice would break his line of thinking. “Steven, you are needed in the dining room. I can take your place from here.” “Uh…sure. Thanks, Guy,” Steve responded. After making his way into the dining room, Steve stopped in place at what he saw. “Sakura, what are you doing here?” Sakura merely bowed her her head for a brief moment to greet Steve before she spoke. “You intend to go out and searching for my creator,” She said. “I intend to go out with you. Is it possible that we begin our departure and instigate our mission tomorrow?”

 

Author’s Note:

Oh man. It’s done. It’s finally done. With over 5,300 words written in just over 12 hours, writing pages 6 to 15 is probably my most laborious writing effort (or at least the one I had the longest time doing in a quite a while). Anyway, I decided to call this long thing Answers because that’s what seems to be the thing that’s being sought after in this thing. What do you guys think of that title? Does it fit? Do I suck at coming up with titles? The other things I had a bit of a hiccup with were Sakura’s lines if only because I wanted to capture that cold, calculating, monotone voice that’s usually associated with robots and androids. Also, I hope I did a good job in building a coherent narrative. I know that sounds weird, but I usually have the idea for the plot points in my head (with some visuals of the scene as well), and I come up with the dialogue as it comes into my head, and everything snowballs from that. I kind of feel like I’m making a manga in a way…if that makes any sense. Either way, tell me what you guys think. Also, thank you all for reading my story. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

-Martin White II

May 30th, 2016