Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hitting the Mark: Carried Away

   A few months ago I wrote a piece on the video for Passion Pit's song Take a Walk. I talked about how it just was not quite as good as it could have been. This time around I'd like to take a look at the video for their song Carried Away. I think its a fantastic portrayal of the ebbs and flows of a relationship. Throughout the video there are abrupt and smooth cuts that shift the viewer's perspective from the good times to the bad to the crazy to the silly and everywhere in between. The editing combined with the special effects and typography at the end are able to illustrate the chaotic whirlwind that can be a relationship.

   I think the underlying theme in both the lyrics of the song and the video is that sometimes we say things we don't mean and sometimes we overreact when loved ones say hurtful things. At the end of the day though, you have to remember why you love each other no matter who many crazy things were said or done; in the end everything will be alright.

Passion Pit
Carried Away

directed by Ben Brewer and Alex Brewer

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pull the Thread

Pull the thread
out from the sweater
let it all unravel

its time
    to to to-
its time
    to to to-
to let go

When we were young
when we were old
oh, the world turned

Pull the thread
out from the story
let it all unravel

its time
   to to to
its time
   to to to
get free

Go see a movie
in the theater alone,
let the shadows
in the dark
be your friends tonight

Pull the thread
go ahead,
its time tonight

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beware of Dog

   She walked determinedly through the darkened woods, the ground covered with fallen leaves. Checking her compass from time to time to make sure she was still headed North by North West. In these woods there was need to be cautious even more so than in other forests. It was said that a mad sorcerer lived out here. That the sorcerer had once been a kindly man who had his heart broken by a princess in the Eastern Kingdoms was hearsay, but it made for a good bedtime story.

 She sighed, hopefully the traps would not be too difficult to get by this time. A short while ago she had passed a large sign hammered into the ground, the sign read simply "Beware of Dog". The letters were written large with some sort of red paint that seemed to be still dripping years after the paint had dried. It looked a bit like fresh blood -- enchanted to look that way, but that would just be trying too hard for effect she thought. Why didn't the sign say "dogs" pluralized? There were roving bands of dogs, but they mostly kept to themselves if the humans entered the woods.

  Maybe one of the dogs had been driven from the pack for one reason or another. On cue a mangy dog the size of a boar burst out of the underbrush, leaping at her. With rapid movements she swung her staff, hitting the dog in mid-leap. Undeterred the dog shook itself and ran toward her, feinted right, then as she brought her guard to that side, the dog sent his whole weight into her legs from the other direction. She fell to the leaf strewn ground, staff knocked away. The monstrous dog pinioned her arms and sat himself down onto her torso; effectively immobilizing the rest of her body. He snarled with his fangs bared menacingly and without warning gave her face a great lick. He stayed there looking into her eyes, whining expectantly.

    "Fine, you win.", She said, "Are you happy? Now get off me Paulsen, you mangy, over-sized flea ridden son of a bitch."

  The dog gingerly stepped off and trotted behind a nearby tree giddily. From the other side of the tree came not a dog, but a large man with a spotty beard and patches gone from the top of his head. He looked, for want of a better word, a bit crazy. Nevertheless he approached the grumbling young woman on the ground and extended his arm to help her up. She thought about swatting his hand away, but did not, realizing she was only being a sore loser. She took his out stretched hand and let herself get pulled to her feet, lifted as if she weighed no more than a feather. The crazed, patchy man who seemed to be known as Paulsen then embraced her in a tight bear hug. "Angela! Its been far too long. I was starting to think I wasn't going to see a friendly face again. Come we should head towards my cabin, you know there are more dangerous things than you or I in these woods ... much as I like to play."

   They walked nearly in silence, the sound of their footsteps deadened by the layers of fallen, mushed leaves. Somewhere an owl was screeching and hooting intermittently as he opened his great eyes to the impending nightfall.  Ahead of the motley pair a shabby cabin appeared out of the night, looking more abandoned than not. Paulsen muttered under his breath and waved his left hand slightly as they neared. By degrees the cabin looked less shabby, there even seemed to be a trace of a path leading up to the door which looked far more substantial and welcoming than it had moments before. Inside a fire was already roaring in the hearth. Beside the hearth there were two full walls lined with scrolls and tomes and various knick-knacks. There was also a simple kitchen area with a small table, and two easy chairs and a bed tucked away in a nook.

  "So you're a shape shifter now? When did that start?", the words bursting out from Angela's lips once they were safely in the cabin, their unspoken agreement of silence lifted.

 He laughed and shrugged, "I had the idea one night. I had been up drinking Versuth wine, substituting the ershon berries with crushed snails. In my haze I recalled I had a long forgotten book of shifting charms. I thought to myself, being a dog at times out here will have to be less lonely than a man. Plus its a great way to stay in shape and scare kids who come out this way for a romantic evening. You should see them, one minute they're enthralled by their desire and locking lips, the next its terror and everyone running aimlessly."

  "And the patchiness of your beard, is that deliberate then? Or are you going bald oddly?"

"Ha! Yes, that's part of the scaring bit. I'll get us some sandwiches, I expect you haven't eaten much in the past few days.", she grumbled a thank you as he sliced meat expertly onto wheat bread. He returned to the table with sandwiches and a jug of wine. "No snails in this one, I promise. I think the patchiness goes towards making me look more feral when I'm a dog, wouldn't you say? Also it is more than a bit challenging to give oneself a decent hair cut, even aided by magic. Now what about you, I assume you didn't come here just for my sandwiches."

  Angela took a few bites of her sandwich, and sipped the wine, noticing it didn't have any slimy overtones. She unbuttoned her leather hunting jacket slightly, the room had begun to be warmed by the fire. "One of the Estinvile twin kings died a fortnight ago. His surviving brother isn't sure if he can continue along as ruler without his twin. There have always been joint rulers of that sector of the realm. Always. Through the ages each pair has brought balance, but now there is only one.", She sighed, "Its really quite troublesome. The surviving brother called me into his quarters a week ago. He was in the bed, under the covers, apparently still grieving in his strange way. He told me, didn't ask if I was busy, just told me that I was to travel South, to somewhere known as Aytifur. He was good enough to give me a detailed list of instructions of what to bring back and do while I'm there, but nothing at all on what to expect so far as the environment goes, nor precisely how to get there. I mean I know I'm a gifted ranger and all, but a bit more than a name could help.
          "So I came here first. I figured you might know something about what's out there, or at the very least have a map. Can you believe it? He didn't even give me a bloody map?"

"Drink some wine, it'll soothe your nerves. The good king didn't even elect to send traveling companions with you?"

   She blushed, "No, I requested to travel alone."

"I see.", Paulsen munched his bread thoughtfully, "Good news is I do have a map for you ... somewhere. If I remember right, Aytifur shouldn't be too much trouble, its a land of tepid swamps. The biggest threat is ice wyrms; they roost there in the spring. We should be well enough past the season for that not to be a problem. Just to be safe, I'll pack you some quick acting thermal spells, they'll render you temporarily invisible to the wyrms since they hunt by temperature. Ah here's the map, and here's where the bad news comes: it looks like it'll be a bit of a hike from here since you've come so far West. There's no straight forward way to get there really, so in the end I guess it doesn't matter. Best we can do is try to get you a route there without crossing too many mountain ranges."

  They ate in silence for a time. She was tired from traveling. He was unused to talking due to his seclusion. In his head Paulsen was planning a route for Angela that would be both fast and somewhat safe. Angela broke the silence first, asking, "If the ice wyrms are there, how big are they exactly?"

"That depends. Some are about the size of a field ox, while otheres can get as big as this cabin. They mostly keep to themselves though. Just like you and I."

  Angela tried to picture a creature that large. She tried again, but something so big just wasn't going to fit in her head. They each lapsed back into silence, like anchored ships being covered by a thick fog. They were together and that knowledge was good enough.

   When they had finished eating and Paulsen had cleared their plates away, Angela folded herself into one of the chairs by the fire and drew her coat over herself as a blanket. She asked him if he still had the book of legends and warm tales. The one with the bards of Sasafil and the whispering oak. The one that he had read to her as she lay in bed many years before, back when the castle was a different place.

 Paulsen smiled and took the book of legends and warm tales from the wall of scrolls and tomes. He read to her one of the stories about the bards of Sasafil. The bards were four men who traveled the lands from town to town playing sweet songs of love and valor and heartache. They were not rich men, but they were well loved by the towns they frequented and they had each other for company on the road. What most people did not know was that the bards were spies, observing politics of the lands, trading secrets with thieves, vagabonds, and princes. These men were not heroes, though they were witty and resourceful and knew when to run.

  By the end of the tale Angela had long since fallen asleep. Paulsen lit his pipe and tottered around the cabin comparing maps, drawing lines, and read what lore he could take to be fact. He packed her the spells he had promised and supplies he knew she would need. He shook his head, it was more than likely a foolhardy quest, but she was capable. He knew she would come out fine besides a new scar or two. And everyone knew good scars led to good tales at the taverns. On top of her rucksack he left her a note that read "Good luck, happy hunting. - yours always, Paulsen"

  In the morning he awoke to find her already gone, a slight scent of cinnamon in the air the only evidence she had been there at all. Paulsen rubbed his eyes sleepily, then shot to the door to look out. No, she was long gone. He had forgotten about the bog bears. Oh well, she'd find out soon enough. With that he trotted out into the daylight as a patchy dog, ready to chase squirrels until lunch time.

                                            (click here for part 2)