As Reader’s Digest has been known to recount, laughter can be the best medicine. Laughter is a ready stress-buster. In fact, without a few laughs, the atmosphere feels oppressive and distressing.
Melodrama. Ivan Reitman comedies. Trailer Park Boys. Inappropriately inane emotional notes. Noisy songs that ignore rules of composition. Underwhelmed artists. Films with blissful dialogue.
Ridiculous Internet trends (the hive mind). Obscure Twitter highlights. The excesses of the most fortunate, who have strayed into bad taste. Beautiful, happy cats.
Stephen Malkmus. The Netflix original Flaked.
YouTube humour. The notes of sarcasm that Mutahar of someordinarygamers hits. Riverdale plot threads. Alex Meyers’ critiques of Riverdale. (Almost anything for young adults Alex Meyers likes to despise).
Unnecessary reboots. Well-highlighted irony in cinema. My best friend’s best moments. Being confronted by my own origins. “Postmodernist” or “meta” formula-breaking.
Jerry Seinfeld. Charlie Sheen. My brother sometimes gives me a laugh. His children have been known to give me a chuckle. My sister’s toddler is dear.
Bending reality to the will of the masses. TikTok comedians. What mainstream news opts to single out when the subject matter isn’t too grim nor necessary to be reported. Certain books on the market, whether inordinately silly accounts of common obstacles or cheerfully oblivious celebrity opuses. Faking spectacle to hold on to celebrity status.
Social turbulence. Sometimes optimism in the face of distressing evidence requires a sense of humour in the wake of steep inclines. The last laugh.
Steadfast resolve to succeed. Motivation messages for Generation Z champs. Productivity cult nonsense. Promises of the four-day workweek.
Tim Ferriss. Mark Manson. Bad decisions by Mark Zuckerberg. Really cool, grim scenarios. Characterizations in videogame cut scenes.
Hayden Christensen’s shift to the Dark Side of the Force. Lucasfilm decision-making. The decision to make superhero films unnecessarily dark. What passes for fantasy in the realm of three-act cinema.
The last 3 posts I published had more energy to them, I suppose, than what I had previously been trying. I did that by taking a post I’d been editing and breaking it into three parts. The anticipation for readers that there was more to come helped with the posts, I think.
Also, I used original photos for the posts, which are more interesting than stock photos, although I also enjoy selecting those, or photos saved from Google Images, if I want, in specific cases, to illustrate a film, for example. Here I am going to show fifteen original photos with copy. I am also including a story I’ve written. If you find the post agreeable, you’re welcome to like it, to comment, or to follow.
My mother taking my arm at a family wedding. It was the wedding of a sibling
I think my mother underestimates the satisfaction that I gain from my lifestyle. I think in this photo she is feeling self-conscious because she knows she is being photographed and we are trying to look nice. If she looks like regrets have occurred to her, and she didn’t say anything about it, I don’t know if that is what she was experiencing, if it is me that is causing remorse.
I remember looking through the shelves of the children’s section of the branch of the library where I most frequently got my books, as a kid. That library isn’t there anymore. As a child, I sometimes thought it would be great to grow up and be the kind of person that might write books and get them sent into libraries everywhere.
As it turned out, there is a lot of competition to be that kind of thing. What I positively didn’t anticipate was the popularity of Internet in the nineteen nineties going forward into the future.
With the invention of social media in the early 2000s, and in particular the gold rush on ebooks in the 2010s on Twitter, there is no reason I couldn’t have turned my hand to trying that kind of thing. Hindsight, as it’s said, is 20/20.
Today I renewed a five dollar donation to Wikipedia. While five dollars doesn’t sound like a lot, if enoug readers do that kind of thing it can make a world of difference. I felt good making the donation.
My father peering at the floor space that we intend to complete. Concerns about the strength of the floor of the church, my dad Peter mostly single-handedly rolled back the interior, you might put it, and found himself challenged by the handiwork might best suit the building’s needs. I’m meaning the church that for years maintained a congregation of the devout.
When we took on the operation at Maple Lawn Cemetery, my fathers seemed convinced that the building would fall in upon itself if we didn’t attempt repairs. The church had disbanded in the year 2006. While appearing nice from the outside, the building houses junk now, although it provides us with shelter when we are there in cold weather.
When I was in college, I learned the definition of the word amortization, costs incurred when necessities of a business go to seed. This is certainly an instance of amortization.
Completing a calculation in the field of Louth United Church
The riding mower in the photo is the first we one we had, which lasted several years. Although my dad is in the background, what I think he is doing, looking at the photo, is looking at his phone. The sign behind him, next to the tree is the sign that once indicated that you are at Louth United Church.
My dad does things like measuring the lengths of cemetery plots so that families that own adjacent plots of land in the cemetery get their fair measure among the graves that have already been laid. I don’t know what occurred to him that I took this photo, but from the distance I am away from him, I think he must be checking his phone. We aren’t heavy into the phone arena at Maple Lawn. I do a lot of my social media and things of that nature on a desktop, decreasing functionality but also working with a fair handicap.
Many of the people I interact with on the Internet are elderly and sometimes lack some of the same insight I have into social media in 2021. It is funny, as, in the 2000s, I wasn’t adequately trained to get the work I wanted, when even people who landed office seats thanks to their good looks had, perhaps, less understanding of getting the job done than I have in my own right. Life isn’t fair in that regard.
I think of that when I consider my mother’s consternation for my lifestyle. While I believe she would prefer that I work a straight job, I don’t know how to convince her that what I do is right for me.
From the inside, a look at a window as night comes to take the light
Once Dad and I handled an afternoon funeral that ran so long, that afterward, it was turning to night by the time we wrapped things up. It was spooky. Both Dad and I felt it.
Inside the church, where I’d never yet been after nightfall, and have not been since, I though to take a photo of one of the windows in the twilight.
This is a photo I edited, two photos actually, one a photo of the church and cemetery in the snow, in wintertime, and one a picture of the sign, inserted into the picture as a whole. I thought it produced a neat visual effect.
A rowboat abandoned in the creek back behind the cemetery
My father pointed this out to me one day years ago. Someone dragged a rowboat, I presume, into the creek at the bottom of the hill behind the cemetery. I take it it was probably intended as landscape art, ingenius, I suppose, if laborious.
A book of photographs illustrating cemeteries
This was a Christmas gift from my mother several years ago. I also have a calendar beneath it, in the photo, and an old photo of a girlfriend’s bedroom, which I held onto from when that girlfriend gave it to me. You can see she was a creative soul.
Righting a headstone
More ingenuity, my father here has devised a contraption to get an old headstone upright. He has a mind for invention.
The street where I live
I took this photo to illustrate where I live, along with a caption I inserted that is meant to be a little cheeky and a little funny. I like how this photo turned out.
The interior of Louth United Church
Unfortunately, the interior of Louth United Church looks a little like this. Our repairs have never been completed. Occasionally I press my father for an idea of what will happen in the future, but he has never told me.
The strange globes of light in the air I can’t identify for certain, but I am not above the speculation that they could be informing the supernatural.
At home in my apartment, I took this selfie, which is blurry but not too bad, I don’t think. I have a look of intensity on my face which I have seen on myself in other photos of me.
A selfie with a Batman cap
I am channelling my inner cartoonist, you might say. This is a selfie which I coloured blue. I have a dopey smile on my face, and I am holding my face with my hand.
I think my idea is that it is a “night” selfie. That I am wearing the Batman insignia on my cap gave me the idea that I was in the act of being a creature of the night, like a vampire.
The Louth United Church sign after a car drove it.
We never found out who was responsible. When I made it known on Facebook, a few voices of outrage sounded at once. It was a lesson for me to watch the tone of what I project in a Facebook post.
We’ve never done the repair to the sign, so in a sense the damage became permanent.
My dad checking the lay-out of the cemetery
Dad here is looking for a specific grave, I think. You can see the back of the church in the background of the photo. That’s frost on the grass, if you didn’t know it is cold.
The colour tones of this photo have a pretty aesthetic to them, I think.
Digging a grave for a casket
If ever we need to dig a grave for a casket, my father rents a backho and handles the dig himself. I was on hand this time, too, and decided to take a photo of the action, although with the glow of the sunlight on him, and the distance from the camera, the image of my dad is out of focus.
Having put together here a sample of my photography, I thought I would go the extra mile and give you a draft of what my fiction can be like. It is only part of the story but I do have a complete draft that I am a little unwilling to post for free in the event that I could actually make something of the story. It is one of a few stories that I have written.
Having heard warnings but shaken them off, the main character refuses to heed the warnings and signs when they learn of the dark lord that steadily grows in power that seeks to consume all in their path.
“One for the books,” Jake Sullivan thought, “made the first bus for a change.” The bus rolled toward him where he was waiting at the stop half a block up from where he lived, Jake feeling glad that he had made the effort to get downstairs and to align him in the path of showing up at the office. He worked for Cryptodel, it was even kind of a choice job, in the sense that he did a lot of what he wanted and that there was a video game arcade around the corner among the magazine retailer and the laundromat. Jake was in his twenties and had held the job as a designer for two years, since finishing college and beginning his career in computers. Jake worked a lot, but that arcade grabbed his attention time and time again. It got purely mesmerizing for Jake when he started to win at whatever particular game he was playing at the moment when he was in there. Jake seldom put much distance between himself and computers, but he did like to forget about the hustle and frequently put himself in recreational visits to the arcade. The escape kept him happy.
The game Jake liked to play at the moment was Vanish into thin air, and it scrolled horizontally and Jake could see he was among rocks and vines beneath an expansive sky. He was jumping and running. Blinking occasionally, as he coolly manipulated the game environment with the joystick, Jake suddenly saw in front of him an unusual-looking tree, gnarled and knotted, and as weird as anything else he was interacting with inside the game.
How do I make that vanish? Jake wondered as he came nearer. The tree was odd because of its incongruency with the other plant growth in the game, Jake could tell from his experience in the simulated game environment. There hadn’t been other trees looking like this one, and it indicated to him that this tree was likely special, being one of a kind and therefore significant. Jake expected to find a treasure chest beneath it. Suddenly the image of a hand appeared between him and the tree. Jake was amused.
The hand clenched, forming a fist, and then pointed, and Jake was startled. Instead of pointing at Jake’s avatar inside the game, the hand from the tree was pointing outward from the game to exactly where Jake was standing on the arcade floor, where he was comfortable and relaxed. The techie who had drawn the hand had done it in the sweeping curves of vector graphics, to be a shape in the game that was clearly representing an organic hand. How do I get inside the treasure chest? Jake wondered.
“Jump now,” Jake’s instincts told him, and his avatar rose into the air. The hand of the enemy opened then, palm up, and snatched Jake from out of the air. Jake thumped the game trying to get his alter-ego free, and it retreated, the vector-rendered 3D environment scrolling as Jake cheered mentally, his character free from its opponent’s grasp.
Jake blinked as his game icon steadied itself on the ground, only partially under his control, he felt. Bonus round? thought Jake. Light flashed about the video screen before Jake and it became visible what was opposing the character on the screen. It was tall walls of stone and a single source of light in the air, a flame in the air, guiding forward to where the bony humanoid had retreated to and the focus of Jake’s concentration. Jake began to proceed to the cave floor. Was there a “boss” near indicating progress had been made in the level? Friend or foe? Jake wondered.
Let’s make it foe, Jake reflected briefly, readying his high-power fireballs, levelled-up and sorcerous weaponry Jake had at his disposal. He looked at how he would explore the cave, when suddenly an instinct occurred to him that he hadn’t previously known was coming. What was that? Briefly adjusting his consciousness as his gaze scanned momentarily the arcade, he saw the sunlight behind her in the door peaked like a shaded window, the game in front of him asking him to fight briefly lost to him. He reevaluated what he was doing. “I was ahead that round,” Jake lamented out loud.
A cell phone ringing. A girl’s voice speaking cutting through the hubbub in the arcade.
Jake’s attention returned to the illumination of the game he favoured once more, asking him to play a reset round. He didn’t quite feel like jumping back into it. The girl he’d seen was on the phone.
“Spaceship,” Jake’s unconscious said to him. Was that sight real? Wait, he thought.
She was at the controls of a game twelve feet away, her attention completely intent, by all standards, on the game she wanted to play. She knew videogame action. There was something urgent about her intentions, something that clued to Jake that there was something different about this individual, something saying to him internally to pay attention.
The energy in the arcade was usually palpable, like a group of mostly aimless young men mulling about looking at games, sometimes with girlfriends among them, sometimes not. Jake seldom took much of an interest in what the others were doing, anyway, and he always had to leave before too long to get back to Cryptodel. This one was a little different. It was obvious, anyway, that despite whoever she was on the phone with, she was by herself, in a game arcade. The other factor Jake was aware of was how naturally controlling the game came to her. He was impressed, taking an almost childish interest in her.
Jake’s attention was diverted and he thought of leaving the arcade. An unusually pretty girl or not, he had work to do. With only a shade of reluctance, he stepped away from the game and strode outside, where the sunlight illuminated his vision the way only afternoon sunlight does, when the day has begun to go and, work notwithstanding, ultimately evening will come and the day will resolve as it always days.
It was fifteen yards to the office building of Cryptodel, a two-storey building completely occupied by the computer vendor. Inside Jake got on the lift and rose to the second floor, got out and walked down the hallway to the door to his office. Inside it was quiet as always and still, unlike the bustle that he’d mostly ignored in the street outside. He sat down at his desk, his computer blinking to life as he commanded it to boot. Information signals silently bouncing back and forth in the computer, it became as alive as a tool like that does and he opened a browser, waiting to resume his work. A notification window opened in the bottom right corner of the monitor for the computer and his attention briefly turned to that, as it was an odd message that reminded him, a touch, of the game he’d been enjoying playing.
“If you can get to your loved ones, it is highly advisable to take measures as though under a state of emergency.” A photograph of the heavens above was invisible with the odd message, where among the blue and white a NASA-looking vessel appeared to be kind of hanging in orbit, an irregularly oblong design with pyramid-shaped wings extended at either side of it.
“There’s… a spaceship? In the sky?” Jake looked more astutely at the computer notification, talking out loud to himself.
He opened his computer telephone software and selected Leo as the recipient, his friend. Six rings and the call was diverted to message-recording. “Stay safe, bro,” Jake said. “I’m in the office but I’ll call you back.”
Another quick call out and he got his wonderful girlfriend, Rosalie. “Hello?” she said breathlessly.
Rosalie was beautiful. Whenever he was near her, he felt inspired in a way different than working for Cryptodel inspired him. Rosalie was brunette, buxom and tasteful. She had more than her share of tech insight, which Jake loved about her, and her brown eyes when she looked at him spoke to him on the level of being soulful. He really was in love with her. They got along great with each other and when Rosalie spoke to him, he felt a rush that was better than just about anything else he had going on for him. He enjoyed his work, it was true, and he put in a lot of hours at it, but the time he had to be with her when the two of them were free and together, was some of the best times of his life. He felt like she was a very good part of his life.
“You know what’s happening?” Like Leo’s, it was voicemail. Jake wondered where’d she got to.
“This can’t be for real,” Jake said.
Outside in the street running past the Cryptodel office, the day was oddly quiet. Even the arcade, where often a pack of kids would be hanging out given the chance to play some choice videogames, was mostly quiet. Jake wasn’t aware of the locale any longer, but the girl coming out this minute might have continued to interest him, dedication to Rosalie or not. She was staring at her phone. Somebody had linked her into the news broadcast.
Another invasion… she was idly aware. If she’d cared more, she probably wouldn’t be alone. Ezezzud, the newcomer to Earth said his planet’s name was. Sounded grim. She needed something and she didn’t know what. Bicycling away, she felt oddly mixed up, as though something had intersected with her and she hadn’t bothered to notice. It wasn’t this business with the interplanetary visitor. Something in her instincts was talking to her. What was it saying?
Components, she decided. That’s what she had coming to her, fingers crossed. Might as well give it a go, she was thinking. You never knew what to expect.
Suddenly a male voice filled the air. “Sullivan,” said the voice. Was it from the computer?
“I am riding a Variable Atmospheric Light Bomber, with effectiveness so complex that experimentation is required to fulfill its capabilities. Your planet, Earth, will be at the mercy of a rapid assault of high-intensity if you refuse to assemble the hardware I need. I assure you this will be of relatively minimal trouble to you if you agree to cooperate with my wishes. The alternative is death for you and for every species of organism on this planet.”
Jake was emotionally and intellectually stunned by the threat he was hearing, and in Jake’s life he rarely gave up without a fight. “What is this all about?” he managed to ask.
“It is in your hands, Sullivan,” intoned the voice. It continued. “To bring to me what I need. You are in a rather unique position, among your kind, to have access to a very specific facility, that will give me back comprehensive control over my ship–and return to me the power to return home. If you want your planet to continue to exist, you must bring me the computer function you know as Hound Rippersnapper,” the voice finished, not without an impact.
In this case, the impact was the sound of rapid car-honking from down in the street, not an unusual sound. Hound Rippersnapper, Jake reflected. That’s April’s AR design. Cryptodel had at least a few advances in progress when it came to consumer computing. April was another programmer working at Cryptodel. As with any female in a male-dominated profession, April had to work hard to compete with the boys, and she did. She always went the extra mile at all times to make sure her work was as good as anything that her co-workers were doing. Hound Rippersnapper was her concept for an augmented-reality framework whose main facility was to be on top of an organization scheme for office environments which permitted layers of data to be explored and accessed through an AR infrastructure making working with data much more pliable than the functional apps that were more typical of what the Cryptodel bunch were working with. What would an alien creature want with something as relatively mundane as that? It must believe Hound Rippersnapper would give it restored power to the bomber spacecraft.
“What will you do with that?” Jake asked.
“I will use it to forward-drive, Jake,” the voice said. “To leave your skies and return to my own galaxy. Otherwise, there will be…” A pause permitted Jake’s attention to shift. “…Consequences.”
“No more than a half-hour, Neal, I mean it.” Something was occurring to Jake that made him think of more down-to-earth business than the conversation he was having with this… –alien monster? Was this for real?
“Just band me for a half-hour of access to her lab and I’ll be out of here before you know it.”
“There is no need for threats,” Jake said out loud, suddenly subdued. “I can get you Hound Rippersnapper. It’s still in the test stages, you understand. A brilliant design. Let me just get April on the phone and maybe I can explain to her what I need, putting Hound Rippersnapper into your hands. If that’s what you want…” Jake finished up by saying.
“With that strategy, I anticipate resistance,” said Degub.
“What? Resistance? No, April will understand. I know her.”
“You must do things a different way.”
“A different way? I can’t just stroll into April’s workstation, and put Hound Rippersnapper in my pocket and walk out. I need her sign-off.”
“There will be no sign-off,” said Degub. “You must act as catpurse in this matter. You must steal Hound Rippersnapper for me and bring it here for me to recoordinate.”
“Recoordinate? Okay, I’ll just get a key pass from our security office and go in quietly and get it. I can do that.” The offices at Cryptodel were protected by remote security officers who could look in to see when and where doors were unlocked and by who.
“Good,” Degub intoned. “Don’t let me down, Sullivan. The fate of your planet is on your shoulders.”
“I thought that’s what that was,” Jake quipped. “Let me get somebody from our security team. Don’t worry about a thing. And please, try not to detonate any bombs in our solar system. You’ll have an army of government if I know a thing or two about bureaucracy. It just won’t be pretty.”
“Get me Hound Rippersnapper,” Degub said.
Under the circumstances–Degub claiming he would spare Planet Earth in exchange for Hound Rippersnapper–Jake was starting to feel worked up. It wasn’t that different from playing Bomber in the arcade, he told himself. Degub had been persuasive, though. It wasn’t just the threat of complete planetary destruction that had Jake worried, it was the fact that Jake personally was chosen to take care of this.
In another neighbourhood in the city, in Phat City Café, a certain arcadehead sat and ate her soup. There was something different than what she normally felt playing at the arcade. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it…
On the phone with Cryptodel’s security agency, Jake got a person in no time. That’s what they paid them for. It was Neal, who Jake didn’t know personally but understood the protocols established to keep Cryptodel’s offices secure.
“Neal, how are you?” Jake asked. “Keeping tabs?”
“Well, yes, Jake. Everything all right?”
“Yes and no, Neal, yes and no. It’s April, Neal. She asked me to grab something from her station.”
“Let me just call there and see if anyone answers.”
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure she’s there. She just asked me if I would come by and get what she needs.”
“Let’s see, Jake, I’ll just give her a ring.” Jake could tell Neal wasn’t aware of the situation.
“To tell you the truth, Neal, I was kind of hoping to surprise her. I didn’t want to come back here but something occurred to me that I can put with her pet project that might just sell it to upper management and make it a go.”
“Really?” Neal crowed. “Upper management. Now, what do you know?”
Neal must like her, Jake thought. “It sure would help her out, Neal, and you know she could use a home team advantage. Budgeting, you know.”
“Well, I know, Jake, but I”m not really sure… I mean, I haven’t had any advance warning that April was even making a pitch. It’s not like she’s said anything.”
“Well, she is and she has, Neal, to me. It isn’t nice being turned down when your heart’s in it, eh, Neal? And you know, if I could work some magic, it could make a real impact on her future here at Cryptodel.”
“I always did like that April,” Neal said. “Sure would be nice if she was planning on sticking around.”
“She is real nice, I know, Neal. Just think about it. I mean, I just need the key pass to her lab and if I could get in there… Well, then, who knows what the future might hold? I could drop a friendly remark.”
“Well, tell you what, Jake, why don’t I just put a time-sensitive access code on your key pass that will band into her security lock. You can get in and out of there as long as the access code is active. How much you think you’ll be up there?”
“No more than a half-hour, Neal, I mean it. Just band me for a half-hour of access to her station and I’ll be out of here again before you know it.”
“I always did like that April,” said Neal. “Sure, I can do this for you, Jake, just give me your membership ID for your keycard and I’ll put on an access code override.”
“I appreciate it,” Jake said, “I appreciate it more than you know.”
Diagnostics for Jake’s keycard complete, it was now authorized for an hour of access to April’s lab, having the understanding, between Jake and Neal, that Jake was doing April a favour for the company.
Keycard ready, Jake made his way to the lift which would take him up to where the engineering staff at Cryptodel had their workstations. Jake was counting on access to Hound Rippersnapper.
The software was at the other end of the floor, in April’s station, he reflected. Making his way to her door, Jake swiped his card for access and the door to her station opened.
In Cryptodel, the laboratories, which number two, were secured with excellent keycard technology. Both “operators” of the keycard system had specific accesses to different parts of the building, and as April was the other senior technician at Cryptodel she had private access to her station, which meant that Jake was not supposed to be there at all. He tried not to think that Planet Earth could be on the verge of major trouble, but that seemed to be the case and if he wanted to avert the threat of destruction, he needed to get in April’s lab and get Hound Rippersnapper.
He tried a knock in case April was there. The resulting silence told him she was not. “Spacecraft troubles,” Jake said to himself, not wondering if Degub was listening. “I’m going in there.”
Inside April’s work quarters, the room was neat and clean, around the perimeter of which were a number of computer components and, apart from those, sink, door to the bathroom, and desk. Hound Rippersnapper was the name of the design April had come up with the end result in mind of providing a comprehensive VR organizational structure for office managers to better structure their employees. Jake knew April was ambitious, and that she was working so hard on this project to climb the corporate ladder at Cryptodel. Jake didn’t envy the hard work she did for the company, but frequently had lunch with her at Phat City and found her charming. She was also well-liked at Cryptodel.
Her Hound Rippersnapper was the VR facsimile of a spreadsheet or a database, depending on what application you required. Jake knew from past conversations with April that the beta version was finished. And he knew from what Degub had instructed him that he needed to take Hound Rippersnapper, as it were, to the stars.
The heroine mistakenly burns the evidence, believing it to be the forgery.
Looking around the lab, Jake could see which was the master of the systems working there and he sat down on the chair at her desk, where April sat to do her most focused of work. “I got to make this quick,” Jake said. He logged in. An outpouring of letters and numbers ran across the monitor that was central to April’s station. Jake himself was really quite a good programmer, and he knew a little about circumventing digital security, in addition to busting ass at the arcade where’d been playing earlier.
If his presence in April’s computer was detected, Jake could get into trouble. It was a possibility Jake would get caught, but there was a chance he wouldn’t. He was hoping for the latter eventuality.
Jake was thinking solely about what he had to do. He manipulated April’s computer files with relative ease, understanding intuitively what to do, as he knew April was as good a programmer as he was, although he didn’t like to admit it. He needed to transfer Hound Rippersnapper to a flashdrive, so that he could provide it to the alien for its spacecraft, and optimistically, spare the Earth from Degub’s threat of destruction. Hound Rippersnapper began to write to the flash drive in the node, and Jake tried to relax as he grappled mentally with the severity of the objective he was undertaking.