Posts Tagged ‘Tron’

Robocop’s Strawberry Socialism

For the majority of you out there who have been wondering how Cousin Frank would read a story to a 3-year-old, your prayers have been answered. It is nothing short of epic. Cousin Frank, we miss you every day.

Bumper Cars with a Legend

To begin, I must apologize for such a lengthy absence. I have been pursuing means to boost my resume and to finish the dissertation early (which results in a pretty penny saved). In all honesty, little of note has transpired in recent months that has merited attention… until about seven weeks ago.

Cousin Frank, the legend himself, ventured across the Atlantic to spend a week with our family. In terms of Franktitude, this visit was relatively uneventful (i.e. no near-death experiences on a 600-foot cliff or falling off a bicycle in the path of an 18-wheeler). One gloriously bright day, we clambered out from behind our red door and the oppressive weight of grey that had sealed us indoors for months, determined to give Nottingham the benefit of experiencing Frank and vice versa. The best (and perhaps only) attraction within reasonable distance of our home is a massive property called Wollaton Park. The locale has acres upon acres of open lawns, free-roaming deer, a lake, a historic hall, and, on certain weekends and school holidays, a carnival.

Frank and I found ourselves near the top of a hill gazing down into the valley at painfully gaudy fabrics constructed into tents and awnings, seizure-inducing, flashing lights, poorly-crafted prizes that virtually deteriorate when (or if) the gamemaster begrudgingly puts one into your hands, and a fleet of ice cream trucks. Abandoning my wife and our friend, Laura, to watch the child, we found ourselves quickly at the base of the hill, wandering between the various stalls with increasingly disappointed looks on our faces. As we turned back towards our companions, we began to search desperately for any activity that might contribute towards financially, nearly placing our heavy coins into the grubby hands of the giant slide minder. Yet reason won the day and we turned away from the sackcloth and pink and yellow lengths of metal. It seemed, however, that fate had spun us too far. For we were not facing our family uphill, but rather a mauve-colored arena, full of miniature cars and spewing exhaust from the generator that apparently powered it. Bumper cars.

The only known photo of the legend from his time in Nottingham. No longer in grainy, unclear black and white- he exists!

Cousin Frank and I casually made our way over to the enclosure, not wanting to appear desperate. We asked the gentleman (though there was nothing gentle about him) the rate for hiring his restricted automobiles. When he responded £3 per person, I began to turn toward my family again, but was stopped by a hand that firmly grasped my shoulder from below. Frank was already dropping £6 into the hand of the salesman, one coin at a time, and saying to me, “Let’s enjoy ourselves. This one is on me.” I should have known from the way that the coins fell in slow motion, as though he was paying our fee to Charon, that there was something sinister afoot. But I thought to myself instead, “Free bumper cars!

This electrical car mechanic assigned us to our respective vehicles, while two other pairs of people joined us and shared cars with each other. I looped the “seatbelt,” which amounted to little more than a sharp-edged, loose-fitting noose, over my neck and waited for the buzz of electricity to signal Frank’s demise. As our cars began to glide across the flat surface of the track, we all ignored the “one-way” sign posted on the eastern pillar and began driving erratically, hoping for maximum speed to proceed a collision.

I noted that not all seemed right as Frank paid the ride owner and cackled maniacally. It turned out that after I reached maximum speed and cousin Frank sat helpless against the edge or a few other cars, the vehicle I had received opted to slow down dramatically and suddenly send me in the opposite direction. No amount of steering or stomping on the accelerator would remedy the situation. The vehicle tended to right itself only after Frank collided into me with cataclysmic force and shrieked with delight as an egregious inferno blazed in his eyes. In several crashes, the seatbelt “saved” me by nearly severing my head and drawing the blood to the surface of my skin in a neat little line that ran along my neck and down my chest.  It appeared as though Frank had mollified the carnival gods and rode on the wave of their favor. He had cleverly guided us toward this activity, feigning disinterest in the revelry and acting as though the bumper cars were something “we may as well do” because we had walked “so far.” Frank had an axe to grind, as it turned out. For he was suffused with rage that I had told so many stories in which he was the subject of hilarity.

But, you see, when Cousin Frank went with us to a playground in Nottingham, he got stuck on a merry go round (or “roundabout”). After observing me pushing Langston and wife in a large swing together on which they were able to lay down, Frank desired to partake in the relaxing activity. Behind us, he found a dish-shaped merry go round composed of stacked metal rings and climbed inside.

A fairly close representation of the cone that ensnared Frank.

Proving to be decidedly less comfortable than he imagined, Frank attempted to climb out, but found the effort near impossible. Hearing the groans of struggle close at hand, I turned to watch him and capitalized on my opportunity.

I ran to the merry go round and, as he reached out a hand believing I had come to his aid, I grasped the top metal ring and began to spin the contraption as quickly as possible. Initially, Frank responded to my energetic whirling with, “No thanks. We’re not doing that.” Within seconds, as the cone approached maximum speed, his pitch modulated significantly and he shifted from the declarative to the imperative. In shrill, girlish tones, he shrieked, “Help! Bethany, save me! Save me, Bethany!” Wife responded by laughing near to the point retching and Langston lay their on his back, enjoying the swing and ignoring his relative.

We watched Frank as he attempted to climb out of the cone, but centrifugal force consistently threw him from side to side. Eventually, the device slowed to a stop and Frank managed to toss a leg over the edge of the rim, using gravity to drag his body out of the dangerous playground equipment. He staggered at an angle across a large swathe of grass before collapsing to the ground and giving the fluid in his ears time to settle.

As I sat in my bumper car, speeding aimlessly backwards and gazing at Frank as he repeatedly crashed into my side and foamed at the mouth, I realized that this vendetta had nothing to do with what I had done in the past, but with what I had recounted to others. For example, while Frank stayed in our house, he frequently enjoyed showers- as you do. I neglected to mention, however, that if one happens to turn on a faucet (tap- or whatever you Brits call it) while another is showering, the shower instantly goes cold to prevent from burning the showerer/showeree.

One evening, therefore, while Frank rinsed off, I set my nine-month-old on the floor, strolled over to the kitchen sink, and turned on the water ever so briefly. After hearing the change in water pressure upstairs, I laughed to myself and shut the water off, but was surprised to hear a giggle from elsewhere in the room and close to the floor. Langston stared up with a wide, toothless smile as though he was saying, “That’s right, Dad. Do it again. We shall freeze him out of the shower and there will be much laughter.” Not wanting to disappoint my son, I flicked the water on and off seven or so more times. Yet, I never told Frank of this shower-related phenomenon.

In the middle of our bumper car excursion, I suddenly realized that there are no carnival gods, and though my vehicle clearly suffered a curse in some capacity, I struck out at Cousin Frank. The first blow nearly ended the relationship between his arm and shoulder socket. Fortunately for us, the bumper car regulator let us drive for nearly 20 minutes before he made us stop. Frank and I drove like maniacs, attacking each other and the pathetic couples in the other two cars- who cares if they were children?

Though many an awesome t-bone was frustrated by my reversing vehicle, I saw to it that Frank left with minor whiplash and he reminded me how delicately my head sits upon my shoulders. As the electricity fizzled out, we stepped from our cars out into the sunset-stained lawn, laughed at the weeping children, and set our minds on ale.

Two Tales of a Cousin Nearly Lost: Part Two

Heimdall the Barbarian

Our well-rested heroes found themselves no worse for wear following the evening’s disruptions. Had there been any dark evil in the city of Dubh Linn, it had vanished since the arrival of the cousins. Therefore, the two gathered their belongings and ventured West, having sensed in their dense, indestructible bones that their enemy had fled in that direction.

Bounding across the land, Heimdall and Andreas eventually found themselves in the city of Corcaigh. The city yielded no evil, but the filthy river that ran through the locale was enough to send them away in a hurry.

In that same day, they happened upon Castle Blarney and began scouring the grounds, weapons in hand. Hearing the laughs of nearby travelers, they followed the noise beyond the hex’s cave to the inner halls of the castle itself. It seemed that many had gathered here to kiss an infamous stone in the wall of the structure near to the very top. Intrigued, Andreas followed his cousin up a staircase into the sunlight. They inquired with a peasant waiting in line as to the meaning of such stone molestation. This farmer responded with trembling voice, “It is said to give one the gift of eloquence in speech, fine sirs.”

The cousins glanced at each other for a moment with looks of bewilderment, and then broke out in uproarious laughter. “Imagine,” said Andreas, “that we should ever need a gift that we already so perfectly possess!” They laughed near to the point of retching, then pushed their way through the line, wiped their posteriors on the stone, and jumped from the height of the castle back to the castle garden. Satisfied at having found no evil here as well, Andreas turned to his cousin and said, “Come Heimdall, let us go.”

But something did not seem right with Heimdall. He appeared frozen in time. Then, with his brow furrowed and eyes squinted, he awkwardly threw up a pointing finger at the son of Donald and said, “You’re the one who needs to do the going…”

Apparently finished, he stood there with finger frozen in midair and a look of expectation on his face. They stood with the small distance between them for some time before Andreas broke the silence. “I’m not sure what you’re trying to do, cousin, but I assure you that you are doing it incorrectly- perhaps another time? As for now, let us be off.” Dejected, Heimdall’s finger retracted and he nodded in assent, mumbling to himself, or perhaps Jimmy, “Dang…”

From Blarney they ventured to Cill Airne and managed to procure two velocipedes. It soon became apparent that no evil resided in the town, so they mounted their contraptions and headed into the dark forest close at hand. The foul stench of wickedness laced the air faintly as they travelled. They increased the speed of their hunt with great fervor, convinced that their unknown enemy was within their grasp. The pair rushed pass monoliths, falls, lakes, and all variety of creatures in pursuit of this nemesis. Having taken the lead because of his acute perception of evil, Andreas followed the path with fixed determination. As they came near to a highway, Andreas noted the faintest whiff of depravity, and veered suddenly to his left onto a rarely used dirt path. He shouted back to Jakob, “I sense the need to pursue this course.” Certain that he had heard the agreement of Heimdall, Andreas followed the path for a furlong. Yet when he did not hear the familiar sound of earth crushing beneath the weight of his cousin, he stopped on the side of his route and faced the road he had just taken. The hero had vanished in the foliage.

Andreas waited several moments before turning his locomotive means around. Before he could begin pedaling, however, faint creaks and heavy breathing broke through the tree line.

Heimdall lumbered around a distant oak, covered in scrapes and bruises, and pedaling with some difficulty. In shock, Andreas asked, “What happened?!?”

With a gasping huff Heimdall responded, “Jimmy fell down!”

Relieved to see his cousin no worse for wear, Andreas laughed for a minute before returning to the path before them.

As they rode back toward the town, they began to consider whether Heimdall’s stumble might have been the work of an evil force attempting to hinder their progress. Upon reentering Cill Airne, they took note of the gatekeeper, who stared intently at them and seemed to be gesturing for them to join him in the shadows on the side of the road. The cousins glanced at each other, nodded in agreement, and veered from the main path into an alley.

The gatekeeper was a wrinkled old man, bent over with the weight of time. Before they could even ask him his reason for impeding their journey, the man sputtered, “Beware the wizard who endangers your path; a mystical man known for his power to control the lightning of Thor. He has claimed this island as his own and regards you as trespassers on his territory. If you pursue this journey further, it will end with the loss of life…”

The cousins stared with interest at this weathered man, then responded together, “Yes, the wizard’s life.” They laughed together and thanked the man for his fortuitous insight. Surprised at their lightheartedness regarding the matter, he volunteered more information, including the advice that they venture north to the highest seaside cliffs on the south of the isle. Taking their leave of the gatekeeper, they returned to their inn and bedded down for the night.

Early the next morning they began their journey to the cliffs known as Mhothair. The journey lasted the entire day, however, as they went from town to town seeking accommodation. Only when they had reached the bottom of the cliffs on the northern side, were they able to find an inn in the town of Doolin. The place had little more to offer than a bed in which to sleep and a lonely ass wandering around in the solitude of his enclosure in the middle of the town.

Early in the morning, the duo set out for the cliffs- a perilous journey that put them on the edge of the earth with waves crashing hundreds of feet below. Having spent more time in the mountains than his flat-landed cousin, Andreas quickly found himself leading the way, bounding from rock to rock. He carried on this way for some distance until he took note of a groan from behind.

“Dude can we wait up a second?!” bellowed Heimdall. “I twisted my ankle and it hurts real bad. I think it might be broken.”

Somewhat irritated, Andreas apologized and walked back to his cousin. Jakob Freyr sat on a stone, holding his knee with both hands in order to suspend his foot in midair. He began to slowly rotate it in circles. “Sssss… no, I can move it, so it can’t be broken. Maybe it’s sprained…” Heimdall muttered as he winced in pan. It appeared that they were on the right track, as the wizard began his attack on the lower appendages of this great hero. Nevertheless, Heimdall recovered and they found themselves on the path again.

A short time later, Andreas felt slightly ashamed at not having been more sympathetic to his cousin. So, he turned his head in the direction of Heimdall and asked over his shoulder, “How is your ankle, cousin?”

Heimdall responded, “Well it is a bit sore, but I th… HUAHWOAHOWLUHAOH!” Andreas turned quickly to watch his cousin tumble down a small hill and come to rest in a little clearing, sitting upright with legs directly out in front of him. A bit disoriented, but without any permanent damage, Heimdall cautiously rose to his feet and proceeded forward.

Inexplicably, the wizard’s magic suddenly changed him into the dress of a magpie, no doubt aimed at humiliating him.

“Everything would be fine if I could keep the ground from moving under m… HUDDAHHIYAHOOOLAOW!” he shrieked as he tripped and fell down the next hill, this time landing perilously close to the edge.

He sat there with his legs dangling over the cliff and noted, “I would be fine if I could simply stop falling.” Andreas helped him to his feet and, enjoying this trip substantially more, he continued to lead the way to the pinnacle of the heights.

They followed the precipice for a mile before they came to the end of the natural trail. It seemed that a local farmer wanted his fence to run to the very edge of the island, so that he could maximize the size of his land. Several yards from the edge, however, this same farmer had provided a small stoop that led over his fence for foot-bound travelers. Standing on the stoop, Andreas lifted his mighty leg over the fence, planted it firmly on the ground on the far side, and then brought his other leg over as well. He then took a few steps in the direction of their goal.

As he trudged forward several steps, the son of Donald realized that something was amiss. Was it the air? The grass? Something had registered in his subconscious that he could not quite articulate.

Then it came to him: the fence! He turned around in time to see his mighty cousin at the barrier, giving it a looking over. Being shorter in stature, Heimdall could not simply step over like his cousin. So, before Andreas could utter a word of warning, Jakob Freyr stretched out his hands and firmly grasped the steel cable before him in order to push it down. Unbeknownst to our hero, the wizard had concentrated all of his wicked power into this implement.

Don’t touch it! It’s a trap!

Heimdall felt the surge of lightning course through his body into his torso. Quickly, he released the fence and clutched his hands to his chest, shouting, “Holy crap!”

Yet, he winced in pain only momentarily and speedily regained his composure. It seems that this wizard had not taken into account the might of this warrior, and it would prove to be his undoing.

Heimdall carefully stepped over the fence, and rejoined his cousin on their path. Within the hour they found themselves at the topmost reaches of the cliffs. A lone tower stood there, guarding the coast and bidding the sun farewell every evening. The pair sensed the waning power of evil from within, so they hastily drew their weapons and destroyed the door with a heavy-handed blow.

As they stepped inside, they found a feeble old man cloaked in gray lying on the floor. His face bore the signature of time in a preponderance of wrinkles and his hair likewise with the absence of pigment. He seemed repulsed at their appearance, yet he gathered enough strength to raise his left hand and point at the mighty Heimdall. “You have destroyed me,” he said in a faint, raspy voice. “I vested all of my magical energy into one final trap: the fence. Using a deep and powerful magic known descriptively as ‘electronic,’ I put my very self into the trap, expecting that you should die and I should absorb your life-force…” He wheezed and coughed for several minutes.

After gathering his strength again, he whispered, “but my plan has failed and you have absorbed my power, my very life. You have become more powerful than ever, and shall, therefore, no longer be known by a name of your past might. From this moment forward, you shall forever be regarded as ‘Tron!’”