Haiku Review: iZombie (S3E5)

Credit: iZombie Wiki

Dominance guides them

As memories fade to black

In a world on edge

iZombie continues to be one of my favorite, if not my favorite, show on TV. The acting is top notch as always. Rose McIver is wonderful again, taking on yet another personality with ease. Robert Buckley is sadness personified. Malcolm Goodwin remains powerfully stoic and humorous and somber as he deals with how much his life has changed and been affected by Team Z. (Also, I loved yet another GoT reference.) A great episode that portends even greater things in the future. 

Perd Hapley is a Dimension-Traveling Alien

will-the-real-perd-hapley-please-stand-up-2-26474-1428472335-14_dblbigIf you’re like me, then you have a strong and abiding love for Parks & Recreation. I can admit that it is one of my favorite comedies in recent memory, due in large part to the brilliant casting and writing. And Ron Swanson, always Ron Swanson.

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However, I came to an interesting realization the other day: Perd Hapley is a dimension-travelling alien observer who is clearly the most powerful being in the shared TV universe. For eagle-eyed fans, you will notice that Jay Jackson, the actor who plays Perd, has a penchant for reading the news on your favorite TV show.

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What you never noticed though, his how closely he likes to stay to danger and intrigue. Much like the Observers from Fringe, I think that Jay Jackson has created a kind of shape-shifting constant character that is not unlike Stan Lee in every MCU movie.

Starting in 2007, Jackson has played a report or news anchor no less than 14 times, including:

Bones (TV Series)
Scandal (TV Series)
The Catch (TV Series)
Supergirl (TV Series)
Pretty Little Liars (TV Series)
Parks and Recreation (TV Series)
Revenge (TV Series)
Battleship (Movie)
Fred: The Show (TV Series)
Body of Proof (TV Series)
The Mentalist (TV Series)
Fast Five (Movie)
The Closer (TV Series)
Dexter (TV Series)

Now, perhaps you can say that he has been typecast as a reporter/news anchor or even that Jay Jackson likes playing these parts. However, I like to think that a casting agent, writer, producer, director, or even Jackson himself is purposely creating one of the greatest easter eggs in all of TV history.

So, the next time you are watching a TV show and they cut to a reporter in the field or an anchor delivering the news, don’t be surprised if it is Perd Hapley looking back at you.

Preview of Sixth Prime

Preorder the book by clicking on the cover above. I’ve decided to release an unedited preview of the first novel in my new series for your enjoyment. Please comment, share, and follow.

 

The Curious Case of Ale Euclid

Canvases lined the walls. Smudged and erratic strokes revealed a quiet genius encumbered by a great sadness. The open space in which the somber artist brooded appeared larger than it was. Ale Euclid suffered from a tendency to check out from his surroundings, imbuing his personal experiences with a special kind of significance felt only by those who wrote the story of their lives with broad strokes of emotional connection.

Outside the darkness of the light-filled metropolis ebbed and flowed like the lapping shores of the island on which it sprawled. The bustling world around him not only satisfied the collectivistic yearning of his gregariousness, but also allowed him to disappear from the crowd behind closed doors, playing to the reserved sensibilities of an artist in the midst of a storm of conflicting and contrasting ideals. Ale had few friends except for a small circle of fellow painters and artists who populated the Inked District of the remote island of Nyan, the largest of the Tranquil Isles.

Euclid placed a special emphasis on the aesthetics and ambiance of his surroundings, which made island life amidst the peaceful, harmonious culture of Nyan the ideal backdrop for his inspiration.

The outer door of his loft beeped rhythmically, a sliver of light infecting the purposeful darkness of his studio. Ale did not move, instead remaining motionless. His gaze was intently fixed on an almost-finished piece he called Constancy, a magnificent representation of the universe reduced to darkness and light battling toward an inevitable end.

Yet, it remained unfinished.

Footsteps crossed the room, approaching the disheveled figure with a splattered brush in hand. “Ale? Are you not ready?”

Ale thought of himself as a quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind friend. He tried to enjoy the present moment, paying special attention to the joy around him. However, he went to great lengths to carve out his own place, an undisturbed mental and physical space where his art could take form. The intrusion, though expected, made him prickle slightly in irritation.

“Mian, you’re early.” He continued to look at his work.

Long and thin like Ale, Mian had gorgeous dark hair that she pulled back into a tight, attractive bun, framing her symmetrical features. The musculature of her legs rippled beneath her thin dress as she shifted her weight from one leg to another. “They are already setting up. Some potential buyers have started to trickle in.”

He sighed. Ale desired only for space and time, much like all of the celestial beings decaying on a molecular level throughout the universe. However, he had made a commitment to Mian, and to the rich of the Inked District, to display his artwork so it could be probed and critiqued, purchased and traded.

“I don’t wish to argue, Mian.”

“You’ll find no argument from me, Ale.” She stepped closer to Constancy and pressed a hand to her chest. “This is so evocative. It makes me feel so alone, yet embraced by it.”

Ale stepped forward and applied a single stroke at the center of the canvas, a brush of crimson in the swirling darkness. With a sigh, he stepped away from the painting and pulled a burgundy jacket from a skeletal chair tagged with splotches of color. “This is the last one. We can be social now.”

Mian smiled and grabbed the edges of the painting carefully.

Ale placed a hand on hers. “Not this one.”

She looked at him. “Then why did we wait for you to finish it?”

He walked ahead of her. “I didn’t say it was finished.”

 

THE AEROPOSTLE GALLERY was lit in such a way that every imperfection would be revealed; as such, the women in attendance painted away their flaws, so their masks of make-up would appear unbroken beneath the harsh luminance. Harsh and bright in places, it also cast shadows where the lighting was less concentrated, less intense.

Ale held the door open for Mian.

Mian nodded, her features tight as she did so.

Whitewashed features marred by campy paint identified the elite of Nyan, those who would be willing to part with resources for art as a means of solidifying their place in the hierarchy. Some clapped as Euclid entered; others raised a sparkling drink that cost more than the wages of four helium miners on the many moons of Sedecim.

Ale dipped his head.

He moved through the crowd, shaking hands and making small talk, mostly about the state of art in the Inked District and his future projects. Euclid had begun to make a name for himself in Nyan; there was talk he would receive a special commission from the Commonwealth. He avoided talk of the simmering conflict between the Commonwealth and the Sovereignty.

As he gestured toward a gargantuan canvas that depicted a range of colors in an orderly and algorithmic fashion, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. Red eyes, flittering in and out of focus, watched him from the shadows.

It gave him pause.

His mouth open, Ale stared back at the red eyes, not realizing he had stopped mid-sentence in his explanation until one of the waxen elite of Nyan cleared his throat.

“Pardon me, where was I?” asked Ale.

A man with a well-oiled mustache and a single line of azure hair traced back over old skin looked at Ale with dull brown eyes before speaking. The hard syllables of his speech were hindered by his uneven teeth. “This painting. Why is it so organized? Is art no meant to convey the liberation and lack of inhibition of the soul?”

Ale dreaded this part of being an artist, pontificating at length about his process. In many ways, it was his worst nightmare: having to listen to rude people criticize his personal choices, as well as his art, for prolonged periods of time. None of them seemed to understand how connected he was to his work.

“Art is expression, but expression need not be disorganized. I find my inspiration in the orderliness of the universe.”

Another movement caught his attention from the shadows. A long coat dusted the edges of the darkness, making a kaleidoscope of fractals similar to rubbing one’s eyes too hard.

Another clearing of the throat: this time from the angular and painted clown that hung on the man’s arm. “I find this piece so…dull. Don’t you, honey?” she said, batting her absurdly large fake eyelashes as if to accent her ignorance.

Ale collected himself, not wishing to create conflict despite her snide attitude. “It is meant to be simple; dull might be a consequence for people who lack a certain kind of imagination when they try to experience the work.”

The man snorted and the woman moved on, her attention drawn to an aesthetically pleasing member of the wait-staff with pants that were far too tight. Ale smiled weakly as they moved on, and Mian moved in close, handing him a stout glass of amber-colored liquid.

“You should have brought down the unfinished painting. I think even this crowd would have appreciated the surrealism of it.”

Ale nodded, but remained quiet, contemplative.

He continued to stare into the darkness of the room’s corner, past the crowds of wealthy huddled around splattered paint upon canvas. Part of him knew that the Constancy piece was something different. It was not so much that he had painted the Void, but more that something compelled him to create the abstraction. While Mian saw randomness and surrealism, Ale felt different.

Order prevailed.

 

THE CROWD HAD DISPERSED and the night waned before Ale retired to his loft. Mian offered to keep him company, the insinuation not lost on him. He declined, content to sit before the painting, gazing into the Void.

Sitting there before his latest (and possibly greatest) creation, he realized that for the first time in his life he felt a connection to something he had created. Too often, he viewed his work as derivative and insufficient to sustain a livelihood. This, of course, was more the result of a deflated sense of self than the reality of his bank account; his paintings sold for some of the highest prices on the entire planet of Tertius.

Nyan bustled just beyond his window, but the loft remained whisper-quiet. Ale stood and approached the painting, touching the darkness at the center. A strange sensation overwhelmed him, a familiarity that he had felt once before in his life.

As if in a trance, he walked toward the double glass doors that led to the balcony that overlooked the city. A warm wind caressed his face as he ran his fingers over a small table to his right. Taking a deep breath, he gripped the balcony and slipped into introspection. Ale saw art as compassion, and an exercise in mindfulness. A peaceful being at heart, he lacked the conviction to be an activist; yet, he saw mindfulness as the means to live a more compassionate and loving life.

Looking up into the night sky, observing his relative insignificance in the context of the universe, Ale felt a connection to the great abyss spread out before him. It was not a theology per se, but rather a sense of interconnectedness that transcended the biology of his existence. Ale only considered himself close to a few people, most of those related by blood had been causalities of the conflict between the Commonwealth and the Sovereignty; those who had not been taken in battle had been consumed by the violence and difficulty of the blocs of Tertius.

When Ale looked into the vast consciousness of time and space, he felt alone yet connected to his fellow interstellar travelers. When he listened deeply to the cosmos, he could feel the suffering and the cries of those who desired compassion in the face of such horror; this was his way of doing good in the world, he listened despite the sadness it brought him.

A few sirens wailed in the distance filling the tranquil and prosperous streets of Nyan with discord; its well-manicured parks and ecological preserves spoke of an environmental awareness hidden behind an ego that desperately wished to be noticed for its efforts. Ale despised their superficiality, the falseness with which they showed their care for the sentient creatures of the planet when so much of Tertius was covered in mega-blocs, vast pollution-filled slums where the wealthy and personally unaccountable placed the poor and unwanted under the guise of enlightened welfare.

This exact point of contention drove a galactic conflict between warring ideologies, a question of whether the rich and powerful had the right to impose political freedom in a particular way; one side  saw freedom through an aggressive capitalism, while the other saw it in a robust social state.

Ale sighed, irritation creeping across his arm like thousands of small insects just beneath his skin. He couldn’t understand such a radical need for others to define personal freedom; it was in each and every moment, in everyday mindfulness of why people made decisions.

With a sigh, he walked back inside and across the loft, and then behind a partitioned area complete with a bathtub and a sink. Ale tapped a mirror just above the sink. It fragmented into millions of individual pixels. He pressed his fingers against them and they dissipated revealing a cabinet.

A small dark box beckoned him.

Disappearing into himself was as much a part of him as his art; reaching out, he grasped the box. Ale turned it over in his hands, thinking about the painting and wondering whether he wished to make the journey that awaited him within the container.

Ale opened the box, revealing a small stack of wafer-sized sheets. Touching his index finger to the top of the pile, he exhaled. The slightest of touches activated the cocktail of hallucinogens imbued in the slip. His hand began to shake, addiction and anticipation stealing his autonomy.

Closing his eyes, he wiped his finger against the stack, taking a single sheet with it. Ale licked his lips and then placed the slip under his tongue and closed his mouth with a moan. He knew from experience that he only had about twenty minutes until the Euphorium took effect.

He felt the exquisite warmth as it dissolved.

Leaving the makeshift washroom, he took a few short steps and plopped down onto a comfortable chair he had purchased for this precise occasion. It articulated at the base, turning him so that he could see the series of unfinished canvases that depicted various stages of a mathematical void, layers of darkness that brimmed with a divine kind of logic.

Time slowed, and each breath felt like it would last forever. Ale felt his somberness sink into a vast ocean of despair; the moment before already felt like a lifetime ago. Euclid had taken this trip enough times, even in a desperate state, to know that unpredictability was the name of the game. He chose to embrace the exploration of the darkness in his unfinished work, the algorithm that called out to him.

A word filled his mind: constant.

The Constant.

Religion did not appeal to Ale. Insight into the universe that could only be afforded by the Euphorium was what he sought. Awareness at the expense of vivid hallucinations was a fair trade.

The paintings changed; darkness became geometric shapes that pulled from the canvases and danced through the air. The walls breathed and the colors sung, joining the blackness in front of Euclid. He could smell the center of the universe; it reeked of sulfur and bile.

Ale Euclid disappeared and become one with the ego of the universe, with the being called The Great Darkness That Came Before. The room disappeared and became only the vast cosmic canvas on which all of life and darkness and nothingness was painted. It was here that the real painter existed, the true artist.

Form became figure, a vast mass that pulsed and slumbered.

The ego called Ale drifted into the bulkhead of the cosmos.

 

HOURS PASSED AND THE DRUG-FUELED journey subsided; Ale returned. Sitting there in his chair, he felt the lethargy in his limbs. They felt heavy. His mind crawled slowly. Turning his head, he peered around his loft.

A figure stood stoic.

Ale smiled. It felt strange on his face. “Hello?”

The figure remained impassive.

“Who’s there?” Ale placed his feet on the ground, and immediately recoiled. Cold spikes jabbed him; his legs had fallen asleep. Gripping the cushion rests, Ale pushed himself into a more rigid seated posture. He squinted his eyes as he tried to make out his mysterious visitor.

Licking his lips, he moved around his tongue, trying to generate some saliva. His voice was hoarse as he spoke again. “What do you want?”

The figure moved quickly then. Bridging the distance between them, he grabbed Ale by the shirt and lifted him into the air with ease. Euclid reached his hands out weakly, grasping and struggling, but to no avail.

The dark-garbed assailant threw Ale across the room.

The artist’s wrist shattered as he collided with the floor. He felt his stomach tighten and he vomited in his mouth as he tried to push himself up with his uninjured hand.

The dark-garbed shadow picked up the artist again and struck him across the face.

Ale felt his teeth clatter in his mouth. His mind swam as he sailed through the air and crashed through the partition to his washroom, splintering the divider into thousands of metallic pieces that spread across the ground like grains of rice.

Ale tried to stand, the pain in his face and hand making the numbness in his legs dissipate. Using his good hand he managed to raise himself up to a seated position against the tub. The assailant grabbed Ale’s good hand and bent his fingers back, breaking them easily.

Euclid screamed away whatever euphoria lingered. His screams became whimpers as the assailant crouched beside him. “Take anything you want.” Ale tried desperately to flex his hands.

Up close, Euclid saw that his attacker wore black wrappings that hid any distinguishing features. He reached out with his useless hands to touch the wrappings, but the shadow batted them away with one hand and used the other to grab the back of Ale’s head and slam it against the tub.

Euclid’s head bobbed as he dribbled blood and teeth. He groaned as the assassin lifted him once more and turned toward the large bay windows that reflected the skyline of Nyan.

With a grunt, the assassin threw Euclid toward the window.

Ale landed hard, feeling his ribs break beneath his fall.

Looking across the floor of his loft, he saw another figure. It looked familiar; a long cloak dusted the hardwood floors. Red eyes watched from the darkness. Ale reached out, his broken fingers unable to respond to his wishes.

The assassin lifted Ale for the last time.

Euclid saw the figure take shape as he felt the cool air of the night and the small pebbles of the protective glass break around his back. Staring up into the sky, he closed his eyes and embraced what came next.

Fifteen remained.

 

You can purchase Sixth Prime at:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENLPOVG

A New Condition

The world is in crisis.

We have been lied to.

Each of us deceived by those who we thought would protect us. Conditioning has placed us where we are. Conditioning is what will free us once more. There is much about the world around us that we cannot understand for what it is; interconnected parts working for each other against the best interests of humanity. Like lambs to the slaughter, we were shown our roles. We did not fight for what we believed, nor did we conform to what they wished.

We succumbed to the will of perceived inevitability.

I think that we are avoiding the most obvious point of it all. It is not whether it is happening because we started it. The thing that we must remember is that we can do something about it. What we know and believe is little more than what we were told to believe; the wealth of our knowledge is little more than what has been told to us. The nations of this world are divided by walls and barriers that are not physical, but instead ideological and financial. We are not creatures of evil or apathy, but instead we are taught and engrained throughout our lives to behave this way, adhering and following the antediluvian archetypes of centuries and empires past.

What can be offered is not a panacea.

What can be offered is to help find the value in living and the love in what is all around you. These times that face us are powerful and sorrowful, for each day defines the next. A change does not appear before our eyes, but is instead the earnest incremental struggle of ideals and beliefs that will change the world.

It has been said that one human being cannot change the world. This creates a false dichotomy insofar that we have been made to believe that either our actions can change the world, or they cannot. This is not the way of things. We may change, for good or bad, when we lift up (and are lifted up by) our brothers and sisters.

The world is sick.

Humanity is ailing.

We have hunger, famine, disease, and widespread violence the world over. Consuming the resources of this one planet, we do so at such a rate that we will collapse beneath the weight of our own refuse before our time. If we are to survive, then we must fight to stay. We must believe that this world is worth having, and prove that we deserve to occupy this planet.

Some have deferred responsibility, saying that the world will do what it must and technology will catch up. But how can technology match our consumption and destruction pace for pace, if all of our monetary resources are being funneled into that consumption and destruction? All of us are responsible for what we do, how we behave, and the lives we live.

We as a species face such a need for survival. No longer can we look at the plights of the world through rose-colored glasses, or from atop our distant steeples. We must accept responsibility for the actions of the nations in which we live. Though we did not deprive a village of their resources, our constant demand for new things has driven industry to knock on the doors of nations the world over for resources.

It is time to stand up and say no more.

Caring about other people needs to be trendy.

Not because being eco-friendly and caring about your fello human is popular amongst the rich and the famous, but because it can and will save the world. None of us are perfect. Nothing is expected of us in this life except what we are willing to give. But, we must not be afraid to give.

We are a community whether we wish to believe it or otherwise. Even if you strand yourself in the farthest reaches of the world, your existence is dependent upon the creation and distribution of consumer goods that you will need in order to survive. We are an interconnected world. We have this one world and we have to prove that we belong here. I have heard (from loved ones and mentors alike) that we cannot be responsible for what is happening to his world; that we are too insignificant to make an impact.

But this feels like an excuse.

As is such with much of life, we want to be responsible when it is in our best interest. When what we have done appears as a black mark upon who we are, then we decide we can  no longer influence events. People wish to judge others actions, but not be judged on what they do. They wish to say whatever comes to their minds, critiquing and attacking others, but not to be held responsible for the insufferable, illogical discourse that marks their opinions and doubts.

It would appear that empathy is a forgotten emotion.

Creating a system in which the blame falls on the individual despite the nature of the system has become the standard. We think that every person is capable of overcoming circumstances; that advantages are not awarded by birth and affluence. Pop culture has ingrained in us that if we think positively about something, if we dare to dream, then we can influence our future.

But this strikes me as logically incongruent.

And it should sound problematic to the world.

This type of belief blames those who do not rise above their circumstances. There is a passive nature to this time of admonition, hidden behind a beautiful possibility. I ask: is this truly the nature of the world? If you believe something, then doors will open for you? I think the outliers and exceptions have become the norm. We expect that if we try hard, then we will be rewarded.

What of those afflicted with famine and victims of genocide forced into refugee camps the world over? What of rape victims? What of children abused? What of people killed because of the color of their skin? Did these people not wish hard enough? Did they not direct their thoughts in the proper direction to find hope? Certainly I have outlined only the horrors of the world, but we cannot turn a blind eye upon these sores on the back of humanity.

We have to stand up for those who have no voice.

Have we become a nation that hears, but does not listen? Have we become a nation that speaks, but says nothing? Some of my peers, as well as those a generation older, fear assisting those less fortunate; that by giving to them, the will to achieve will be broken. That somehow helping those that cannot help themselves will erode the fabric of who we are.

Is this true?

I am not suggesting that we bankrupt ourselves to help others, but as Peter Singer has suggested, we should give enough so that the least well-off can rise to a level that could be considered basic. When there are children starving in countries where what we pay for a gallon of gas could feed them for a day, I have to question whether sacrificing some of the comfort and affluence so others may simply live should not be mandatory.

We have been tricked into believing something that is not true.

They told us that there is a right way and a wrong way. They said there are Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, pro-war or against war. All around us the constructs of our society dictate endless false dichotomies that force us to choose one over the other without examining the rationality, or possibility, of something that we cannot perceive.

I sometimes try to think of a world that is so unlike this one. The mantra that there is no better place to live, or that we are number one, simply makes me sad. Who wants to be number one in a world where there is so much suffering and sadness? In America, there is immunity to the horrors and travesties of the world. We are insulated from the world that surrounds us.

We rally behind demagogues, partisan rhetoricians who care more about the game of being elected than demanding excellence and change of policy. They have become so assimilated into the culture of domination and conditioning that their campaigning rhetoric is little more than a clever game of chess with words. They dance and shuffle with issues that should matter, but know that the hot button issues (the ones we have been conditioned to care about) should have well-articulated and formulated opinions.

The world does not change because power is assumed. One person can direct the world in a positive direction, but the capacity for change is within each of us. The ability to radically alter our circumstances is in the belief that we are equal, that we can help each other. Leaving those deemed as unworthy to fend in a world that rewards selfishness and shuns those less fortunate prepares us for failure.

I fear that when the times do not regulate themselves quickly enough, that change does not happen with the turn of a phrase or the passing of a single day, that some will be quick to demonize. One person can lead. One person can inspire. But it takes a nation to change. It takes a world to see.

There are times in history we look back upon when reading, or taught in a classroom, that we shudder at the humanitarian violations of a government and the apathy of the people at its base. We wonder to ourselves how a nation loses its moral compass.

Apathy.

Compliance.

Comfort and Conformity.

Ponder the world as it is. Take it in and really think about it. Talk about it amongst your friends and family and encourage intellectual discourse. Find your own answers. Seek out information. Do not be satisfied with the status quo or the regurgitated material that you see on every news channel. Fight against the propaganda and lip service of news that is created for you. Remember that you have the power to change your mind.

People may tell you what to think, but you decide whether or not you will believe what is being feed to you is truth, or if you will search for something that might be difficult. Some may try to convince you that questioning the good life is wrong, or that what you have read is wrong.

There is nothing wrong with disbelief, it encourages discovery.

Do not be afraid to be proven wrong, or to prove something wrong. These are the issues I grapple with every day. These are issues that I think autonomous beings of the free world must talk about. It would be intellectually dishonest of us as thinking beings to not analyze the impact of who we are on the world. We need to demand change, to stand with others instead of standing apart.

A new condition must prevail.