Reviews From The Chesterfield

Ghost in the Shell

Directed by Rupert Sanders

Based on the manga by Shirow Masamune

In the near future, the cyberneticly enhanced super-soldier known as The Major (Scarlett Johansson), along with her team, Public Security Section 9, wages war against the world’s most dangerous criminals and terrorists.  Hanka Robotics, the company that built The Major’s cybernetic body, also holds the secret to her true identity, a secret that could destroy the company, and they are willing to go to any and all lengths to protect it, even if it means killing anyone who gets in their way.

This is a visually spectacular film, Production Designer Jan Roelfs and his team nailed Shirow’s cyberpunk esthetic perfectly from the brightly coloured garishness of Newport City’s holographic advertisements that seem to adorn every skyscraper, to the look of the vehicles, and right down to the details on the cyborgs themselves whether it be an eye, a leg or a finger, the details are astounding.  As a longtime fan of the original work, this live-action re-imagining is everything one could hope for.  This film however, more resembles the 1995 anime film by Mamoru Oshii more so than the original manga.  Gone is The Major’s “girlishness” and quirky sense of humour, and the tachikomas (Ai mini-tank mecha) are nowhere to be seen, but that’s okay because the 1995 film is an anime masterpiece and required viewing for anyone who calls themselves a fan of Japanese entertainment.  If you’re going to borrow, it’s okay to borrow from the best.  That's not to say the film is without humour, its just not the same kind of humour found in the manga.  

Scarlett Johansson is mesmerizing as The Major, playing the part with a commanding physicality, when she enters a room, she owns it.  I don’t know what kind of work out regimen she was on for the film, but she looks leaner, and more muscular than she has in previous flicks, more a force to be reckoned with, and in this film she very much is.  Takeshi Kitano plays Aramaki, the Chief of Section 9, with a calculated brooding that simmers just below the surface for most of the film before finally exploding to the surface in the third act as he shows just how bad-ass the 70 year old actor can still be.  Pilou Asbaek who plays Batou, and the rest of the cast give solid performances, even if most of them are given very little to do on screen, but what would you expect, this flick is meant to be The Major’s story.  I’m sure if there were to be a sequel or two the other members of Section 9 would have the time to be fleshed out a little more, but since that isn’t going to happen…

Ghost in the Shell is a good movie, competently directed, well paced, enjoyable actioner, with a fantastic soundtrack, and a story that’s just different enough from the original source material to offer a few surprises for longtime fans.  Unfortunately I cannot help to reflect that by now the modern movie-going audience has seen most of this before.  Since the release of Shirow’s manga in 1993 there have been many TV shows and movies that have at the very least been influenced by the work, if not in some cases downright ripped off Ghost in the Shell’s core ideas.  Maybe if the film had come out in the late 1990s or early 2000s before flicks like The Matrix could preemptively steal its thunder it could have found a wider audience?  And herein is the problem: the audience.  Generation X anime/manga otaku like me have been flocking to this film, but we are few and far between these days.  Millennial fans, who make up the vast majority of anime/manga otaku today, are notoriously cheap individuals who find no value in paying for entertainment, and would much rather steal it through illegal downloads.  So if a slick, well produced film like Ghost in the Shell will not get them out of their parent’s basements to spend $15 to see it then they really have no right to complain when Hollywood passes on something they might actually be interested in watching; a crappy live-action Naruto film for instance.

Ghost in the Shell gets FOUR hacked Geisha-bots out of FIVE.


Reviews From the Chesterfield

No Dropping Out: Back to School at 35

(35 sai no Kokosei)

Directed by Noriyoshi Sakuma, Seiichi Nagumo, and Maki Nishino

Originally Broadcast between April 13 – June 22, 2013 on NTV in Japan

The term “High School is Hell” has been tossed around since time immemorial, but apparently this has never been truer these days than it is in Japan.  This 11-episode television drama centres around 35 year-old drop out Baba Ayako (Yonekura Ryoko) who mysteriously returns to high school and ends up changing the culture of the school administration and influencing the lives of the students.  The drama deals with the darker realities of Japanese high school, like bullying, the pressure to succeed, abuse, and teen suicide in ways that no North American drama could ever hope to.

I stumbled upon this programme recently on Crunchyroll and decided to give it a shot, and am glad I did, as it gave me insight into the darker side of Japanese culture that a lot of their films and television shows rarely touch on.  Only once in a blue moon does one come across a TV show that is unafraid to peel back the layers and expose real societal problems in any more than just a superficial way.  The only other one that comes to my mind is Kyoto Broadcasting’s superb 26-episode anime adaptation of Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s darkly humorous novel, Welcome to the NHK.   The material can be strong meat at times, and the actors are asked to dig deep to dark emotional places, and do they succeed?  I say admirably.   That’s not so say it’s all dour, and gloomy, the show has its share of humour as well from slap-sticky moments with the teachers, to the funny repartee between Baba-san and her friends eating lunch on the school roof.
So, if you dig a well written, well preformed sometimes humorous drama, and you love all things Nihon, check out No Dropping Out: Back to School at 35.



Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Lost Missions

The final completed episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (previously released on Netflix) are finally available on blu-ray in a two-disc set: The Lost Missions.
The set includes 13 episodes of what was supposed to be a full 22 episode season, and as nice as it is to at last have all 121 episodes of the series on blu, the overall story itself has left more than a few unanswered questions, and plotlines left dangling.

The Lost Missions gives us 4 story arcs of varying quality, including a terrific 4 part story about the origins of “Order 66” that even manages to touch on the morality of creating what is essentially a “slave race” to fight in a war in a way the prequel trilogy never did.  Next up is yet another yawn-inducing 3 parter about banking regulations, a humorous 2 part Jar-Jar/ Mace Windu team-up, and finally an utterly fantastic 4 parter that at last solves the mystery of Jedi Master Sifo Dyas, and gives some deeper insight into Yoda, and the very nature of The force itself.

This being a Disney release, the video quality is nothing short of phenomenal, and is noticeably better than previous season blu-ray releases.  This is due to Disney’s use of a higher average bit rate than the previous Warner releases of seasons 1-5.

The audio presentation, on the other hand… well lets just say Disney cheaped out on us.  Instead of the usual lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround track we’ve gotten used to from seasons 3-5 blu-ray releases, Disney gives us a somewhat less hearty, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track.  It’s decent, just not the bombastic awesomesauce we’ve come to expect from The Clone Wars.

Extras are few, and a little disappointing really.  After six seasons, 121 episodes, and literally hundreds of hours of behind the scenes material “in the can” we only get an anaemic 16 minute documentary?  Three words: Not. Good.  Enough.  The highlight of the extras is a set of “story reels” for the unfinished 4 part “Utapau arc” consisting of full audio and pre-viz animatics.  A shame Disney didn’t allow Filoni and crew to finish these, as this story is pretty damn good.  Conspicuous in it’s absence is any mention of the “Son of Dathomir” 4 part Darth Maul arc that made it to script and design stage before Disney put the kybosh on the programme.  It would have been nice to have the scripts and designs available as a special feature, but alas it was not to be.  I never thought I’d say this, but in the case of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, cancellation came far, far too soon…

An up and down set of episodes, lack of meaty extras, and a lossy audio track means Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Lost Missions can only get a 3.5 out of 5.

At the time of this writing I am in the beginnings (chronological episode 21, “Mystery of a Thousand Moons”) of a complete Clone Wars viewing marathon, watching every episode of the award winning series in Chronological Order from “Cat and Mouse” to “Sacrifice.”  When finished, I will post a complete series retrospective where I’ll give my thoughts, and feelings on the series as a whole, as well as comparisons to Disney’s new Star Wars: Rebels series.  21 episodes and 1 movie down, 100 episodes to go!



It is Time of Game!

Star Wars Commander

Disney Interactive
IOS, Android

The fall has come again and that means it’s gamer season, so I thought I’d do a short review of the latest mobile platform Star Wars game from Disney Interactive: Star Wars Commander.
In this Free To Play game you choose to play the Rebel Alliance, or the Evil Galactic Empire in what amounts to a Command and Conquer style RTS (real time strategy) game where you build bases, command troops and vehicular assets to attack and defend through missions and special campaigns.  Sounds great right?  In fact, this is the game I’ve been waiting for since I played the first Command and Conquer game on the PC back in 1995!  Imagine my thrill as I loaded the game on to my iPad and heard the music, sound effects, and voices (sort of, they’re sound alikes, but whatever) of my favourite vehicles and characters from the Original Trilogy rendered with a lovingly stylish and original way.

Then I played the game. 

To say Star Wars Commander is a disappointment would be a colossal understatement.  This game is a result of what I believe is the epitome of what is wrong with the video game industry these days: The Freemium Model.  For the one person in the universe still unfamiliar with the term I will explain.  One downloads the game for free, then in order to actually progress in any kind of meaningful and satisfying way within the game, you have to shell out Real World Cash for virtual in game premium currency to buy upgrades for your troops, vehicles, base, and the like.  If I had a choice, I would rather have paid $5 or $10 bucks up front for a game like this just to not be constantly harangued to plunk down cash to move forward.  The problem is that developers like Disney Interactive don’t seem to understand that gamers don’t mind spending good money on games that give us a good experience.  The overwhelming majority of us don’t mind paying $60 for a console game that, even if the first few levels contain some grinding, we still get the satisfaction of achievements, or trophies, and a fun, entertaining gaming experience.  Shitty freemium games like Star Wars Commander mercilessly steal your precious time, the battery power from your devices and offer nothing in return; no satisfaction, no entertainment, and no fun.


The sights and sounds of the Star Wars universe in a Command and Conquer style RTS.

Stylish, and original look for classic star wars characters and vehicles.


Star Wars Commander requires that you be hooked up to the internet in order to play. 

In order to save your progress, you must register through Facebook.

You do not have to choice to accept or deny who plays with you and as a result are constantly having your base destroyed and looted by random, higher-level players.

Freemium.  If you want to win, you have to pay.

You have zero control over troops when attacking, or how your turrets target when defending.  Once you start a battle, the AI just randomly does what it wants.

IN the end Star Wars Commander, and freemium games like it, are nothing more than a colossal waste of time and battery power.  It’s a shame really because the Star Wars characters, and universe as a whole, deserve a far better game than this.

1 out of 5




Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Russell Crowe plays the titular character, a 600-year-old “action-hero" of a madman with delusional visions of the end of the world, by way of a massive flood caused by rainstorms and all the springs of the great deep bursting forth.  According the conversations with the creator that he has in his dreams, only he and his family are worthy of being saved as only they among EVERY HUMAN ON EARTH are “righteous in this generation.”  So he builds a HUGE 750ft long boat from magically appearing cypress trees and prepares to fill it with mating pairs of EVERY ANIMAL, BIRD, and BUG on Earth, and with the help of seraphim shaped like rock golems, defend the ark against the evil cannibalistic humans led by Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) that wish to take the boat from him.

Ok, firstly the story of Noah in the so-called Old Testament is pretty short, pretty sketchy, lacking in any real detail and rife with contradiction.  It makes specious, even ridiculous claims that are by all logic and good sense, absolutely impossible.  It’s not history, it’s utter fantasy.  This movie is also fantasy.  But who cares!  If Aronofsky wanted to make a movie based on the biblical account, it would be a very short movie indeed, so some “padding out” was certainly required of the source material.

Yeah, so… where to begin… apparently this ancient civilization of humans has quite a modern sensibility to them.  Their clothes, though roughspun, are quite well tailored, and they also seemed to have quite a wide knowledge of metallurgy to create not only fabulous swords, daggers and spear-tips, but also welder masks, shopping carts, machinery of some kind, and oh yeah rocket launchers.  Yes rocket launchers.  I shit you not.

It does have a few good ideas however, like how Noah and his wife (Jennifer Connelly) figure out how to “drug” the animals and put them into a state of hibernation for the voyage, is a good way to explain away the obvious problem with the biblical story of how does one feed so many animals for the year or so that they reside in the ark.  It also makes sense that there would be some people (The army led by Tabul-Cain) that would find Noah, and attempt to escape the deluge with him either through cooperation, or by force.  And with the exception of a few moments of scenery chewing, and over-acting, the performances are solid, and the flick is shot beautifully thanks to the work of director of photography Matthew Libatique.

Aronofski’s flick, in its attempt to be all things to all people ends up missing the mark on all fronts.  It not only alienates Christians and Jews by dismissing their mythology as nothing more than magical fantasy, but also by making a movie that in the end amounts to nothing more than a mediocre actioner, Aronofski alienates movie fans in general.  Honestly, if I wanted to watch an overly long senseless action flick with wall-to-wall CGI, I would have watched Transformers: Age of Extinction.  It’s a bit of a shame that this wasn’t a better film because I absolutely loved Aronofski’s The Wrestler, and enjoyed his hauntingly beautiful Black Swan, and wonder if there wasn’t some studio interference in the making of Noah.

The good news is, now that Paramount has the “rock monster” digital assets, maybe they’ll let William Shatner borrow them to so he can finally “fix” his ending to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier!

1.5 out of 5


Thoughts on Star Wars Rebels

The recent pictures from New York Toy Fair have given us a glimpse of what some of the characters and space ships will look like when the new Star Wars animated series finally premieres in the fall of 2014, so I decided to give some of my thoughts on what we may or may not get out of this show.

What The Fans Want:
A five season story arc that begins some ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith that involves Han Solo and Chewbacca in the early days of their friendship, smuggling, roaming the galaxy, meeting all manner of interesting creatures, getting in adventures and sometimes having to deal with various Imperial Entanglements.  Also having run-ins with bounty hunters like Boba Fett, and other smugglers, space pirates, and baddies.  The overall arc borrows from the Brian Daly books but isn’t a slave to them, and leaves off with Han and Chewie on Tatooine in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

What We Will Probably Get:
Obi-wan teams up with a young, pre-teen Jedi who was in hiding during Order 66, an alien sidekick of some kind, a wacky droid and a female Twilek (because Dave Filoni seems to love Twileks so much), as they travel the galaxy tracking down and rescuing the literally hundreds of Jedi that escaped The Purge.  At the same time Mon Mothma and her small group of rebel senators bemoan Palpatine’s New Order, but do nothing about it because the Rebel Alliance doesn’t actually win any battles against the Empire until right before A New Hope.   The overall story arc will most likely never be realized because Disney has an appalling track record with animated TV of late, and will most likely cancel the series after one season.

This doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to seeing what the show is about and what direction it goes, but lets just say I’m not holding my breath for the 100 episodes of awesome sauce that it could be if it was about the adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, but who knows, we might just get pleasantly surprised.


Lond Ho Adventures

Lond Ho Adventures One Shot: Pantophobia

“My fakking head is killing me!  You guys got any Aspirin?”

Paco Villa Lobos rubbed his forehead with a tanned, paint stained hand as he stepped in from the deck and settled down on the end of the gigantic, puffy, black and tan coloured chesterfield in flat 1401 of London House apartments.  It was warm in the flat, a little too warm for June, Hunter thought, as a light breeze blew in from the open patio door, causing the plastic duck’s head wrapped in six-pack can rings that hung from the chandelier to spin lazily.  Mia Jones and her friend Charlize Townsend were still finishing their cigarettes outside so Bill decided to say nothing about Paco once again leaving the goddamn patio door wide open.  Seasons by Chris Cornell was playing on the Sanyo CD player that Hunter had recently wired into Bill’s full sized, Kenwood component stereo system, and the flat had a bit of a “pre-party” vibe to it.

“We don’t have any Aspirin.  Deal with it.”  Bill instead grumbled.

Kelli was sitting on the chesterfield, uncomfortably close to Hunter, who was just finishing tying up his 14 hole Doc Martens, in preparation for a night out at The Underground.  Hunter stood up and flopped over into his huge, caramel-coloured leather chair, as Kelli continued her story.

“Anyways, so we were out having a picnic, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken at our place in cottage country,”

Hunter interrupted, “What does that mean?  ‘Cottage country?’”

Kelli sighed, she was sure she had explained about her family’s cottage out at Muskoka before, and was pretty sure he was just interrupting for the sake of hearing his own voice.  Before she could continue however, Mia stepped into the room, with Charlize right behind, sliding the patio door shut.  This was the first time Hunter and Bill had met Charlize, and she was about as unlike Mia as one could get.  She was a full head shorter, had bleached blonde hair with the roots showing, had spotty, blotchy skin that she covered with a generous amount of foundation, and wore plastic rimmed cat’s eye glasses without lenses.  Her dress sense was also quite different, where Mia preferred the "punk rock" look of pleated tartan skirts, t-shirts, and Doc Martens, Charlize dressed in tight collared button down shirts and wore long, flowing skirts.  Hunter couldn’t be sure if he found her attractive or not, but the night was young.  Bill disliked her from the get-go, but couldn’t have said why.  But then, Bill pretty much disliked everyone.  He claimed it was just a "feeling" he had.

“Hunter, sweetheart, Cottage country is the summer holiday spot for a lot of people in southern Ontario.  My parents rented a place out there a couple of times when I was young actually.”  Mia said, picking up the half-finished bottle of Banff Ice Vodka from the heavy gauge cardboard computer box that was currently serving as a coffee table, and took a swig.

This seemed to annoy Bill, “Jesus Mia, we do have glasses in the kitchen!”

Mia dismissed the comment, “Relax Billy, I don’t have cooties.”

Bill almost said something about how much he disliked being called ‘Billy’ but bit his tongue instead.  Out of all of Hunter’s friends, he actually liked Mia, and didn’t feel like arguing with her.

Kelli was losing the room, and felt she needed to get attention back to her if she was going to finish her story.  This always happened when Mia was around, with her long legs, and bright red hair and striking good looks, she tended to dominate not only the room, but the conversation as well upon entering it, and Kelli hated her for it.

“Anyways!”  She said a little too loudly, “I was telling a story here!  Anyways, so we are eating outside on the picnic table, in front of my family’s place in Muskoka, and it was summer so there were a LOT of bees and hornets buzzing about.  Oh yeah, did I mention we were eating Kentucky Fried Chicken?”

“YES!”  Hunter, Bill and Paco grumbled at the same time, exasperated.  It seemed to them Kelli had been telling this story for hours.  Really it was only about fifteen minutes, but she had been interrupted several times…

Mia went to the tiny kitchen area and started going through the cabinets, looking for a glass, “Where do you keep your glasses?”

Hunter took the opportunity to jump up, “I’ll show you!”

Before Hunter was out of the room, Mia’s friend Charlize was across the room and taking over the huge leather chair.  This was her first night at flat 1401, and she had not yet been informed of all the rules of the apartment yet.

“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you!”  Warned Bill.

Charlize jerked her head towards Bill, “Pardon?  What do you mean?  Is it not safe?”

Kelli was fuming at yet another interruption to her story, as the music changed to Dyslexic Heart by Paul Westerberg.

Bill chuckled, “Safe?  Well I suppose that all depends on your definition of the term.”

Kelli jumped in during the pause in conversation, “So we were eating chicken, and my sister was peeling the skin off,”

Paco spoke, “Oh, but the skin is the best part!  All those herbs and spices!”

“I KNOW!”  Said Kelli, delighted that at least one person was interested in what she had to say, “So she was peeling the skin off and piling it next to her plate when this HUGE hornet, or wasp or something flew down,”

Charlize interrupted, “What was it?  A hornet or a wasp?  My mother is an entomologist, and there really is quite a difference between the two.”  She said, adjusting her fake eyeglasses.

Beyond annoyed, Kelli stared at her for a second, seething.  Fuck her and her dark roots and stupid fake glasses!  This is my story!  She rolled her eyes behind her own, real green-coloured cat’s eye glasses.  “A hornet then.”

This seemed to satisfy Charlize, “Okay, go on,” she nodded.

Kelli raised an eyebrow, “Thanks.  Anyways, a huge HORNET, flew down and snatched up a piece of chicken skin and flew off with it!  How crazy is that?”

Battle of Evermore started playing on the stereo, and Kelli squealed, “Oh!  This is Heart isn’t it?  You know those two are distant cousins of mine!”

Bill looked confused, “I think you’re mistaken girlie,” he said grabbing the empty CD case from the table, “Yeah, see,” he handed the jewel case to Kelli, “it says The Lovemongers, not Heart.”

Kelli read the back of the case, “Oh well no matter, they’re still my cousins.”

“Well, my aunts are doctors.”  Charlize said.

“They’re the same fakking group you morons!  Heart, and the Loffmongers are Ann and Nancy Wilson!”  Paco grumbled at the room.

Just then, Mia and Hunter were returning from the kitchen, “We brought some glasses and some Coke for the voddy, and – oh my gods you’re in the chair!”  Mia said, amused.  She had known Hunter for a while, and had visited Lond Ho many times, so she knew what was coming.  She sat down on the chesterfield between Bill and Paco and started to pour herself a drink.  She briefly wished she had some popcorn for the show.

Charlize looked up at Hunter, who was grinning like an idiot, “Okay then Hunter, what’s the story with the chair?  Someone didn’t die in it or something did they?”

Hunter sat beside her on the thick, rectangular arm of the oversized chair, “Nothing so mundane.  Actually it’s not so much a story as an apartment rule, if you sit in the chair, you have to sleep with the person that sat in it last.  And in this case, that person was me.  Sorry, but I don’t make the rules.”  Yes he did.

Charlize seemed to think about it for a second before answering, “Do you find this approach usually works?”

“All the time.”  It didn’t.  Not one time.

“Because I haven’t slept with a man for a couple of years now.”

Hunter was curious now, “You’re gay?”

She shook her head, “No, but I’m in a place in my life where I prefer women.  I still like men though.”

“So you’re bi?”

“I really don’t like labels.”


“Here Hunter, this ought to sharpen you up a bit for the evening’s festivities!”  Mia said, handing him a glass she just mixed with equal parts vodka and Coke.

Hunter stood up, and hesitated, “Uh, could you just put it on the table sweetheart, I uh…”

Bill rolled his eyes, “He doesn’t like being handed things.  It can get pretty ridiculous.”

“And your enochlophobia isn’t?”  Hunter shot back.

“At least it’s a real condition!”

She placed the drink on the table for him, smiling,  “I never would have pegged you for a nut-job Hunter!  You learn something new every day!”

Charlize spoke up, “My aunts are doctors and I don’t think that ‘nut-job’ is the approved scientific term for Hunter’s peccadilloes.”

“Are we going out or what?”  Kelli wanted to know.

Charlize continued, “Speaking of hornets, I remember a time when I was out visiting my aunts (did I mention they were doctors?) out at their cabin on  Hornby Island and we had a HUGE hornet problem.  Thousands of them in many nests all over the property.  It got so bad that summer that in the end I had to don a bee suit and destroy all the nests with a can of brake fluid spray.”

Kelly looked over at Charlize, who was going through her bag, looking for her cigarettes.  Did that dyed blonde bitch just try to one-up my story?  “Well unless we’re going out, I’m going home!”

Mia said, “Kelli sweetie, it’s only ten past nine!  We’re not leaving ‘till at least ten-thirty!  Otherwise we’d be too early!”

Kelli was pissed off, she looked around the room, Hunter was sipping his drink and reading a magazine, Bill was fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket, Paco was moaning about his headache, and Charlize had found her lighter, but not her smokes.  The only person paying her any attention was Mia, and she was just being patronizing!  “Okay bye then!”  She turned on a heel, and stepped out the door, slamming it behind her.  Mother Love Bone was singing Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns as she stomped down the hall towards the lifts.

Hunter looked up from the copy of Starlog he was flipping through, “What was that about?”

Bill put a cigarette in his mouth, “Who knows?  I’m going for a smoke, anyone else want to come?”

Charlize said, “I will, if I can find my cigarettes.”  She dug through her bag some more.  

Paco was holding his head in his hands and moaning, “I’m not going out tonight with this fakking headache!  I need some Aspirin!”

Hunter frowned, he didn’t want to lose another member of their party, then it struck him; he did have something in his shaving kit, it wasn’t Aspirin, but would probably do.  He jumped up and in two steps was in the bathroom.

“Where’s he going?”  Charlize said to no one in particular.

Bill shrugged, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.  Come on, you can bum one off me.”

Hunter pulled his black leather shaving kit out from under the sink and dumped it out, among the shavers, several combs of various sizes and colours, (how did I get so many combs?), a travel toothbrush, and other detritus, were six two-packs of something called NonSpirin™, a cheap Aspirin knock off that Hunter had liberated from the first aid kit at work.

“Found them!”  Hunter announced, dropping the packets in a pile on the cardboard table.

“Ah!  Thank you sir!”  Paco said, relieved.  He began pouring himself a drink to take the pills with.

Bill and Charlize came back in from their smoke break, Bill sliding the screen door shut.

Paco tore open two packets of NonSpirin and downed the contents quickly with the vodka and Coke he just finished mixing.

Charlize sat back in the huge leather chair and watched as Paco opened another packet of pain relievers.  “How bads your headache?”

Paco looked up and swallowed another NonSpirin and voddy, “Shitty,” he said.

“You know, my aunts are doctors and I really don’t think you should be taking pain relievers with alcohol.”

“Well whoopdefakkingdo!”

“Hunter, can I talk to you for a second?”  Mia stood up from the chesterfield and smoothed out her short blue and green tartan skirt.


“Can we go in your room?”

“Yeah,” Hunter stood up, and finished his drink, following Mia into his bedroom.  She closed the door behind him.

“What’s up kid?”

“Lets sit down.”

They sat down on the edge of Hunter’s small, rickety bed.

Mia began, “So you remember my fiancĂ© Dave?  Come on don’t roll your eyes!  Well he’s coming with me to the Con this year.  He really digs sci-fi and anime like we do and I thought it would be nice if you guys spent some time together.”

This stung Hunter a little.  Months ago he and Mia had agreed to go to the Con-Version Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention together, and now here she was wanting to bring an extra guy!  Even if it was her fiancĂ©, and his relationship with Mia had never been anything but platonic, it still hurt a bit.

He shrugged, “Ah well, what are ya gonna do eh?”

“You’re okay with it?”

“Of course.  How could I not be?”

“Ah thanks Hunter, that’s swell of you!”  She gave him a kiss on the cheek and stood up to leave.

“That was it?”

“That was it.  I just wanted to axe you if it was okay.”

Hunter got up and they stepped back in to the main room, Nearly Lost You by the Screaming Trees was just ending on the stereo.

Paco was leaning back, stretched out on the giant chesterfield, snoring.

“What’s up with him?”  Hunter wanted to know.

Bill grumbled, “I dunno, he took, like six of those fucking NonSpirins then said he was feeling tired, he kicked me off the sofa and fell asleep!”

“Okay.  So we wanna get going or what?  All that cheap, shitty Underground draught isn’t gonna drink itself!”

“Yeah, lets get going,” Mia said pulling on her short waisted leather jacket and grabbing her undersized Hello Kitty "tin lunch box" purse.

“Okay,”  Charlize stood up and went to fetch her shoes from by the door.

“You coming Bill?”

“You guys go ahead, I’m not leaving Paco here alone in a NonSpirin coma, you guys go.  I’ll catch up later.”

“You sure?”  Hunter hesitated by the door.

“Course I am!  Get going!”  Bill said, switching the stereo off and the TV on.

“Come on Hunter!”  Mia shifted impatiently from one foot to the other.

“Okay, well later!”  Hunter stepped into the main hall and shut the door to flat 1401.

Hunter, Mia and Charlize stood waiting at the elevator bank.  The call button was lit up.  Hunter pushed it again five or six more times.

The bell went off and the doors slid open before the elevator car had fully levelled itself with the floor.  The trio entered the empty lift and Mia pushed the Lobby button, then the close door button, apparently unaware that the button was disconnected.

Apropos of nothing, Charlize spoke, “Okay, Hunter I will sleep with you, but only if Mia watches.”

Hunter grinned and looked hopefully to Mia, “Really?”

Mia shook her head, “Not.  Fucking.  Happening.”

Hunter’s face fell, “Curses!!  Foiled again!”  He mumbled like the baddie in a Scooby Doo cartoon.

Charlize shrugged, “Oh well,” as the lift shook, and jerked to a stop at the lobby.

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