Sports Betting Odds Explained | How To Read Betting Lines

Tales from Silver Oaks: ‘The Peaceful Hour’ - Part One

In all my years of working at radio stations I had never seen such a dump. The broadcast office was full of labelled boxes that dated back years, decades even, and empty paper coffee cups. I would of thought that the least Mr Jones could do before I took over the job was hire a cleaner. It took me several hours just to clear the dust which seemed like it had been settling for years and not just months. I did skim through the piles of boxes out of curiosity; financial reports, listenership records, overdue bills. Nothing interesting, unfortunately.
Silver Oaks radio tower had one of those big, ugly satellite antennas you saw in the old movies, especially the black and white ones. And it sat high above the town. The station still used wireless technology to send out its broadcasts, which was strange because I thought pretty much every radio was digital now. I was so used to working with digital like everyone else nowadays that it took me a while to even work out how to turn on the the damn thing. It made that old crackle sound – do you remember when you used to turn the dial, so it would tune into the right frequency? Annoying as fuck, right? If you think that took patience, imagine how I felt trying to get this piece of junk to tune in properly. But I figured it out eventually, after a couple of hard kicks to the wall and mumbled F-yous.
It wasn’t the most ideal situation, but I couldn’t turn my nose up at the opportunity. Not only did I have the perks of being the only broadcaster at SILVER OAKS 96.6, which mostly consisted of playing he same 80s songs throughout the day and a talk show at night, but I also got room and board chucked into the job for free. Now the room, if you could call it that, consisted of a single sized mattress on a bed frame of dented springs, a en suite bathroom – okay, actually it’s a cupboard with a toilet and the smallest shower cubicle I’ve ever seen. Besides that there was the usual bedroom fixtures squeezed into the room, making it hard to navigate of a morning after repeatedly stubbing my toe. But I didn’t need much else. My divorce had set me back by a lot, finance wise, so I would take what I could get with what little I actually had left.
Still, it’s not all bad. The view of the sleepy town of Silver Oaks was quite majestic to look at everyday. The tower was situated just behind the famous oaks and seeing the town light up at night was mesmerising to watch, especially for someone who didn’t grow up in a small town. I didn’t miss the city much at all and the townsfolk here seemed friendly enough. I really wanted to make it work, but the listenership for the station wasn’t the best which made me have my doubts about how permanent the job would really be. Even with the revival of the station being advertised in the local paper and through word of mouth, it wasn’t getting much attention. I knew that the radio had been ran by a man before me who had died in some freak accident – look, I don’t know the details and I didn’t really care to know. I never asked Mr Jones before accepting the job. I needed the money and a place to lay my head of a night. But one day in the town, this old demented man came out of nowhere whilst I was shopping. I was filling my cart with chips and beer to keep me going through the evening show that night – god knows I needed them with the absolute bullshit these people talked about. Anyway, more about that later – the old man was so… desperate and insistent. The moment he approached me I took a step back as the smell of stale urine filled my sinuses.
‘Get out of there whilst you still can!’ He yelled, startling the checkout staff and getting the attention of the other shoppers. Even for a radio host, I didn’t like being the centre of attention – I truly had a face for radio and I liked having a loud mouth with a hidden face. ‘He was killed you know – it was no accident! They covered it all up!’ He was pointing at the fellow eavesdroppers, who continued to stare on.
‘I-I’m sorry, I don’t-‘ I began, feeling quite embarrassed for him. Finally one of the staff members came to my rescue, I assumed he was the manager. Straight away he took the old man gently by the arm, starting to lead him towards the exit.
‘Come on, Ted,’ he said, ‘go home and get done rest.’ After the deranged old man was out the door, the manager came over to stress his apologies. ‘Don’t mind old Ted, he’s just a bit tired and can be erratic at times. He’s been like that since he lost his wife a few years back.’
‘I’m assuming he was talking about the previous radio host?’ I asked.
The manager sighed. ‘Terrible, terrible situation. You needn’t bother worrying about it.’
I could see the other shoppers and staff were still staring and listening in on our conversation, they all must of known what happened to him. A couple of them were nodding and whispering amongst themselves.
‘I’m er-sorry about making a scene. I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble.’
‘Not at all! Look your groceries are on me today - I’ll let the guys know,’ The Manager insisted before I could refuse. ‘Good luck with your show tonight. I’ll be listening in!’ And away he went.
So I guess I should explain the talk show - ‘The Peaceful Hour’. So The irony of the 11pm show is that it consists of the citizens of Silver Oaks calling in to voice their concerns, issues and anything else related to the town. Why they call it ‘The Peaceful Hour’? I don’t know. Because it’s mostly the townsfolk venting their frustrations about the most mundane things. So far I’ve had a woman who was furious about the tiny graffiti on the town cross not being removed despite her many visits and letters to the town council, then I had a man who owned a family-run drug store who was being buried into the ground by the arrival of a chain in town. He insisted everyone should protest outside the chain and stop shopping there, despite their cheaper prices. Oh, and how could I forget the call about the chickens that escaped multiple times from Goldmayer’s farm! Yes, apparently they were pecking the grass from Mrs Jackson’s lawn every other morning.
‘Uh-Huh…’ I uttered in bewilderment. ‘So have you tried talking to Mr Goldmayer about getting a stronger, more secure chicken coop?’
‘Talking?! I’ve damn near screamed at the man! You try talking to him!’ Mrs Jackson yelled. ‘Does it on purpose, knows I don’t like him and his damn farm!’
‘Uh-huh…’
It was a far cry from my previous talk show where I was conversing about real world issues and political injustice. I certainly wouldn’t say I ‘loved’ the job so far, not with the lack of material I was actually given permission to cover. It was no wonder the listenership was so low when the conversation was taking a turn to mild vandalism or escapee chickens…
Mr Jones – the owner of the station - wasn’t interested in my ideas to talk more about the bigger world outside of Silver Oaks. He said to me: ‘Silver Oaks is the big world to these people. The station and the newspaper are the only two outlets for these people to express their frustration and their feelings – let them talk. You’ll settle in just fine, kid.’ I wasn’t convinced by Mr Jones encouragement, I felt out of touch with the locals and didn’t have a clue about the town’s stance on certain things having spent little time in it, but I would give it a try.
I braced myself for another night of monotonous tales from an angered local. Snacks were on hand, and I’m not ashamed to say I’d already consumed two beers, with another cracked open just before I switched the ‘On Air’ sign on. Not great for third week in, but it numbed the future headache I would surely get from listening to petty crap for an hour. There was one caller on hold tonight, just like every other night so far. I hoped it wasn’t Mrs Jackson again. Please, not another night of chickens, I thought.
‘Good evening Silver Oaks, I’m your host Jacob Evans and you’re listening to ‘The Peaceful Hour’ on SILVER OAKS 96.6 where you, the citizens of Silver Oaks, lead the conversation. We already have a caller waiting on the line tonight.’
‘Hello?’ A crackled, distant voice said as I connected the call.
‘Hello, welcome to ‘The Peaceful Hour’. Please tell our listeners your name and what you want to get off your chest.’
‘Well, you can call me Sam...’
‘Okay, Sam. So what do you want to talk about tonight?’ I asked again, in a monotone register. There was a long pause, but I could hear his shallow breathing. ‘Sam, are you still with us?’
‘Yes,’ he said bluntly.
‘Okay, what do you want to talk about?’
‘I want to talk about the murders I’ve committed.’
I rolled my eyes. I didn’t expect it to happen here, but the burden of not screening callers before they’re broadcast is having to put up with prank calls. I decided to play along.
‘Uh-Huh. And what murders have you committed, Sam?’
‘Well, which one would you like me to start with?’
‘Take your pick!’ I said, followed by a pathetic laugh. I shook my head and took a huge swing of beer. At least it was an entertaining start to the evening.
‘Okay, how about I start with Dean Reagan?’
My phone suddenly lit up, it was a text from Mr Jones. As soon as I read his words, my childish mood went away just as quickly as it came… it read:
DO NOT HANG UP. I THINK HE’S SERIOUS!
‘Mr Evans, are you still there?’ Sam asked politely.
‘Y-Yeah. I’m here,’ I replied nervously, quickly diverting to my usual tone so he wouldn’t suspect something was off. Although, after Mr Jones text I was curious about only one thing. ‘So who is Dean Reagan? What did you do to him?’
There was a long silence.
‘He was the previous host for SILVER OAKS 96.6 and I killed him. Right there in that tower in-fact…’
This time the painful, prolonged silence was on my end of the broadcast. I was weighing up if this Sam fella really was serious, just like Mr Jones had said in his text. Because let’s be realistic, who admits to committing murder over the radio? This was obviously some scare tactic from the local teens who were clearly giving me my initiation prank call, ya know, a ‘Welcome to Silver Oaks, the last host who died was actually murdered – LOL.’ That’s what I was telling myself, and that’s how I would continue to stir the rest of this conversation as Mr Jones was still blowing up my phone with text messages telling me not to disconnect Sam’s call.
‘Really?’ I said. ‘I suppose I better sleep with one eye open then, huh?’
Sam chuckled as though we were two pals with a private joke between us. ‘Perhaps you should, I’m interested to know why you didn’t even know his name?’
‘Because I never asked,’ I said, ‘I was just told it was an accident and I never wanted to know anymore than that.’
Sam’s shallow breathing fuzzed into my earphones, the sound was actually quite annoying due to the crappy signal. ‘Yes, I’m sure everyone would tell you it was accident,’ he finally said, ‘but Silver Oaks know the truth and I’m here to tell it straight.’
I took a swig of my beer and quickly flashed through the multiple texts that Mr Jones had sent me. They kept coming through like a commentary to what was being said between Sam and I on the broadcast. The last one saying:
‘GO TO COMMERCIAL – CALL ME.’
‘Okay citizens of Silver Oaks, we’ll be back shortly with our…interesting conversation on local homicides with Sam. Sam, do you mind staying on the line?’
‘I’ll be here,’ he said flatly.
‘This is ‘The Peaceful Hour’ on SILVER OAKS 96.6 and I’m your host, Jacob Evans. Do not go anywhere. This is going to be one memorable show.’
As soon as I set the broadcast to commercial, I picked up my phone and called Mr Jones.
‘Well, this is the biggest pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard in my life,’ I said when he picked up, ‘I’ll give this guy credit, it’s certainly better than hearing about the quality of the vegetables at Goldmayer’s Sunday market stall.’
‘Look, Jacob there’s a-er-there’s something I forgot to mention,’ Mr Jones began, seeming jittery and nervous. ‘Now I don’t want you to think I didn’t tell you this to put you off the job, but this isn’t the first time er, ‘Sam’ has called in.’
I was confused. ‘Okay…’
‘Ya see, when Dean was host, God rest his soul, he would get calls from Sam quite often. They were innocent at first. But they started to take a dark turn.’
I was a little frustrated with how intense Mr Jones seemed, it was almost like no one in this town understood when someone was just playing a joke. A sick one, come to think of it, but a joke none-the-less.
‘Okay, so why didn’t Dean just disconnect his calls?’ I asked.
‘Well, it was good for the ratings and Dean – he-er got sucked into it, obsessed quite frankly,’ Mr Jones explained. ‘I don’t know how to describe it, but he wasn’t himself – at the end, I mean.’
‘Mr Jones, you can’t honestly tell me you think this Sam guy is serious? If he is, we shouldn’t be airing it for broadcast we should be contacting the police! Tracking his GPS. Anything to get the son-of-a-bitch behind bars!’
‘Sam never calls from the same number, and all the numbers cease to exist when they’re tracked. Dean tried. This Sam character, he’s smart. Look kid, just see what he comes out with. We may finally get the real story behind that ‘accident’ and it’ll do us some good for the ratings. It’s a win/win situation.’
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was absolute madness. ‘You seriously want me to have a conversation with a potential murderer who is at large? Are you insane?!’
‘I’ll make it worth your while, kid,’ Mr Jones was pleading with me, but there was also a sharpness to his voice. ‘You don’t really have much choice, do you?’
So that’s how it was. He knew my financial situation and that the divorce had severely drained me. ‘Fine.’
I hung up the phone and cracked open another beer. My buzz from drinking earlier had completely gone after speaking to Mr Jones. I couldn’t believe what I just agreed to. I still wasn’t entirely convinced that this person had committed murder, but I also wasn’t convinced I should carry on the call. I know I originally didn’t care to know anything about Dean Reagan, I mean, Christ! I didn’t know the man’s name until Sam mentioned it. It seemed not only sinister to even discuss a dead man, who may have been killed right here, right where I’m sitting, but not only that – his family. Did he even have family? Was he a loner, like me? Perhaps that’s why he took this shitty job. I downed the rest of my beer and placed my headset back on. I ignored the ‘NO SMOKING’ sign and I lit up a cigarette. A habit I couldn’t really afford, but it was only occasional. Lord knows I need needed one before I put the ‘ON AIR’ light back on.
‘Welcome back, Silver Oaks. I’m your host, Jacob Evans and you’re listening to ‘The Peaceful Hour’ on SILVER OAKS 96.6. Sam is still with us. Hi Sam.’
‘Hello, Jacob,’ Sam replied cheerfully. A little forced, actually.
‘So Sam, we’ve kept our listeners in suspense for long enough. How did you kill Dean Reagan?’
Sam laughed on the other end. ‘Do you not want to know WHY I killed him first?’
‘Sure, why not.’
‘He was different because he was an out-of-towner, which made him a good person to start off with, but he was dumb. Just like most of the people in this vile, decaying little town,’ Sam spat, and I was taken aback by the change in his voice; the venom. ‘Silver Oaks is a snake pit of liars, cheats and thieves. If you really knew the truth about this place, you wouldn’t of moved here Jacob.’
‘Uh-huh,’ I uttered, ‘and how does that justify Mr Reagan being murdered?’
‘Because I saved him from his lonely existence, I saved him from the people in this town. Silver Oaks may appear to be this quiet, idilic little place that is hidden from the rest of the world but that’s its biggest advantage. Silver Oaks is free from government, free from the rules of normal society – the people running this place know they can get away with so much. It drives me insane – has drove me insane!’
I shook my head in disbelief, taking in the last drag of my cigarette before extinguishing it. ‘So you think you ‘’saved’’ Dean Reagan by killing him? Is that what you’re saying?’
‘Yes, I am. If it wasn’t me it would have been one of those corrupt townsfolk or those—those…things that hide in the tall oaks just outside your tower, surely you’ve seen them?’ Sam asked.
‘No, I honestly haven’t any idea what you’re taking about…’ I said, really starting to sense how much of a nut job Sam really was.
‘Next time you drive into town, just look, you’ll see them. Or just look out your window later,’ Sam said dismissively. ‘Anyway, Dean needed to get out of this place, away from all of the scum...I know they’re all listening right now. But he had no way out. No one ever actually leaves Silver Oaks, ya know. Just try. I’ll bet you can’t.’
‘Sam, let’s just summarise for a moment here. You killed Dean Reagan to save him from the citizens of Silver Oaks because they’re all so corrupt and covering up these...these ‘’big’’ secrets?’
‘They got to him. They turned him. And they’ll turn you too!’ Sam was now erratic and hysterical. His earlier composure was completely gone.
‘Turned him into WHAT, Sam?’ I asked, feeling a little impatient with his scattered ramblings.
‘A citizen of Silver Oaks,’ he said calmly. ‘I have to go now, before they figure out who I am, I’ll call again tomorrow.’
The line disconnected, and I sat for a moment listening to the dial tone. I was trying to take in what I’d heard as I crossed my arms and processed what Sam said carefully. He was obviously a very mentally unwell man who needed help. Then I thought about Old Man Ted in the store earlier, he was blaming the townspeople for Dean’s death too. Sam, if that was his real name, sounded too young to be Old Man Ted. Perhaps there is a town conspiracy theory that bats from person to person, but so far I didn’t believe in it. And I still didn’t get any answers about Dean’s death.
‘Well, that was quite the conversation, wasn’t it? We’re going to take a short break but we’ll be back with your thoughts. I can’t wait to hear what you all thought of those accusations. You’re listening to ‘The Peaceful Hour’ on SILVER OAKS 96.6, with me your host, Jacob Evans. Don’t go anywhere.’
As soon as I went off air, I couldn’t help myself. I had to go and look out the window just like Sam had advised me to, knowing in the back of my head how fucking ridiculous it was. These ‘things’ he spoke of made me think of that Disney movie from when I was a kid, which was actually more like a horror movie: ‘The Watcher in the Woods’. God that movie scared the shit out of me as a child. I tried to imagine some weird being staring up at the tower every night - stalking me and watching my every move. Okay, so it was juvenile but it made me laugh out loud just thinking about it. But then I thought I saw…no it was just the wind, surely? The trees were shuffling at least, but I was convinced I saw a bright light flashing or glowing in the middle of the oaks. Perhaps it was just my imagination. I was interrupted from my trance by a phone call from Mr Jones.
‘Hello!’ I answered abruptly.
‘First of all, kid, I do the hanging up in future, you got that?’ He said. ‘Second of all, I need you to get more out of Sam tomorrow. This could really get the ratings going if we keep this up.’
God, the man had no shame if it meant that people were actually listening to his dire station. ‘Are you not worried that people will get pissed off that they’re being slandered by some raving lunatic?’
‘You let me worry about that, you just do the job you were hired to do. As I said, I’ll make it worth your while.’
I wondered if I should even ask the next question, because in my head I know it sounded ridiculous. ‘Mr Jones, what did he mean by ‘’those things that hide in the talk oaks’’?’
Mr Jones laughed. ‘Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a little urban legend?’
‘No, I’m just curious…’
‘Well, supposedly there’s these creatures, aliens, wolves - whatever version of the story is popular at the time – they live in the tall oaks. Just like every other town, it’s just a story.’
‘Do they glow?’ I asked, innocently.
‘What?’ Mr Jones replied a little confused.
‘The creatures?’ I asked. ‘Do they glow?’
‘Yeah, sure. Why not! I guess they could. Look just finish tonight’s show and think about what to ask Sam if he calls tomorrow. Sweet dreams, kid.’
Mr Jones hung up this time, and I took one last look outside the window. It was distant this time, but I’m sure I saw another flash of blue light. Jesus, I need to get a grip, I thought to myself as I took a step away from the window. Now, I’m not one to get spooked easily, especially now I’m in my mid-thirties, but something about all of this really made me feel a chill. Perhaps it was the controversy of talking about someone who died just for the benefit of getting local attention drawn to our broadcast. It felt like I was pushing this exploitive narrative and I hated that feeling. But after tonight, I don’t know…I just didn’t feel safe so I pushed a heavy wooden ottoman in front of the door and a couple of my unpacked boxes in front of the fire escape. God help me if there’s actually a fire, but it made me feel more secure. For the first time in my life I certainly felt vulnerable. There wasn’t long left of tonight’s show, and I only had one caller on hold. Hopefully they would offer some better insight into Dean’s ‘accident’ or ‘murder’, perhaps they’d tell they knew this Sam guy and that he’s taking absolute shit.
‘Welcome back to ‘The Peaceful Hour’ on SILVER OAKS 96.6, I’m your host Jacob Evans and tonight we’re talking about murder, or are we? I’d love to hear your thoughts caller. Tell our listeners at home your name and thoughts.’
‘I can understand what that young man is saying, I have been close to murdering those chickens for months now!’
Great. It was Mrs Jackson. ‘Uh. Huh…’ I mumbled, lighting up my second cigarette of that evening, feeling kind of grateful it was her, but at the same time wishing she would just murder the chickens so she’d stop talking about them.
‘Maybe I should kill Mr Goldmayer! He’s probably responsible for those things out in the oaks! I’ve seen them too, they glow at night and-‘
I cut Mrs Jackson off. ‘Excuse me, they glow, you say?’
‘As I was just saying,’ she said with annoyance, ‘they glow and it’s all because of him messing with those poor damn animals! Cross breeding and whatever the hell he does to them! I could do it you know, my husband taught me how to use a rifle!’
I leaned back in my chair and sighed. Even batshit Mrs Jackson sees things glowing in those oaks at night. Maybe I’m not imagining what I saw, or I’m just as crazy as the rest of them.
God, this town is more fucked up than I thought.
—————————————————————————
I felt wary about driving through the oaks after what I may or may not of seen the night before, even in broad daylight. I considered having my groceries delivered to the tower so I didn’t have to drive through them, but then again I didn’t exactly feel much better about sitting alone in the tower today either, so what difference would it make if I stayed in or went out? Maybe I should consider installing a camera outside the door so I can see—do you know what? No. It’s ridiculous! This whole thing is a joke! I’m a grown adult and I’m allowing myself to be spooked out by some stupid fairy story the crazy locals made up and I won’t submit to it. So in the end I just decided to drive into town like I usually would.
I’m embarrassed to admit I did go over the speed limit as I drove through the winding road down into Silver Oaks. No signs of ghouls, goblins, monsters or mutated farm animals so far, so I eventually eased back down to the speed limit before I passed Goldmayer’s Farm. It’s a good thing I did, because surprise, surprise, the chickens were on the run again. That’ll be Mrs Jackson calling in, furious about her property being vandalised by them, later on tonight’s show. Whilst I waited for the flock of chickens to cross the road, which obviously made me think of the oldest joke of all time, I studied them and noticed how unusual they were; size wise they were all pretty large. And they were all walking in perfect unison as if they were a row of ducks rather than chickens. Whilst I waited for them to cross, I took a good look over at Goldmayer’s Farm for the first time since I moved to Silver Oaks.
Exterior wise, it looked pretty run down with overgrown, pale long grass and there were no animals to be seen out front. It seemed like the type of place that if you were to knock on the door, you wouldn’t be surprised if Leatherface came charging out at you with a chainsaw. I could hear a faint drilling sound which I figured was coming from the huge red barn next to the farmhouse, and I wondered what on earth he could be doing in there. Mrs Jackson seemed to think he was abusing his animals and turning them into these supposed creature that occupy the oaks. IF that was true, I wanted to know how he would even do it. Seeing plenty of horror movies in my time provided me with the cliché ideas; probably some sort of injection or Victor Frankenstein invention maybe? My imagination was running wild, yet again, so I took one last look at the farm before driving off into Silver Oaks town centre. The drilling sound got louder as I drove away.
I guess I should talk a little about Silver Oaks town centre. It’s like most small towns. A lot of independent small businesses, the local newspaper office, well kept community gardens, a town monument, a church and a city hall. It was basic and had pretty much everything you’d expect a small town to have, but it was actually quite pretty to look at. The townsfolk were very polite and greeted you as you walked around running your errands, it still had a video store that people used quite frequently which I know seems strange now everyone streams on the internet. But I guess that was part of its charm, it was stuck in this time capsule. I never experienced anything like that when I lived in cities with everyone rushing around, the sound of heavy traffic as a constant background noise and people would sooner tell you to ‘fuck off’ than wish you a good morning. Being in the town certainly shook off any eerie feeling I had earlier that morning and made me appreciate what a nice day it was. It made me remember despite how deluded some of the people may be, the town itself wasn’t that bad.
I was walking around the grocery store with my cart when I was suddenly approached by a young guy, probably about mid-twenties, dressed kind of trendy. Trendier than most of the other younger guys around town anyway.
‘You’re the new radio host, right?’ He asked, both his hands resting in the pockets of his trousers.
‘I might be,’ I said, ‘who’s asking?’
He extended his hand, which I accepted. ‘Timothy Dandridge, reporter for The Silver Oaks Standard.’
‘Jacob Evans. How can I help you?’
He signalled for us to move out of the aisle into a quiet corner. It seemed very cloak and dagger, but I followed him anyway. ‘I was listening to your broadcast last night,’ he said. ‘Some er, pretty strange stuff, wouldn’t you agree?’
‘Oh you mean someone admitting to murdering my predecessor, talking about town conspiracy theories and creatures that live in the woods? Nope, pretty standard stuff,’ I said, joking. He only offered a slight smile at my attempt at humour. For a young guy he seemed pretty uptight.
‘Well, I wouldn’t use the word ‘standard’ to describe town. Silver Oaks is very…different in many ways. But I’m sure you’ve already figured that out, haven’t you?’
I studied Timothy’s blank expression, beginning to wonder if he thought any of those things that he heard on ‘The Peaceful Hour’ last night were really true. My gut instinct told me that even if he didn’t, he wouldn’t rule it out. ‘Until last night, I thought so. I guess I still do. I’m not entirely convinced this Sam guy knows what he’s saying, and I certainly don’t believe that weird creatures live in the oaks.’
‘But you seemed stunned when Mrs Jackson talked about the glowing?’ Timothy said, furrowing his brows with suspicion.
‘Because I thought it was crazy,’ I said. Half of me was telling the truth and the other half of me was keeping what I thought I saw to myself, especially from a reporter. Besides, I could of just been a flashlight or something. ‘I was a little out of my depth with last night’s conversation.’
Timothy sighed, and took a step closer to me, we were nearly touching cheeks when he whispered in my ear. ‘You’re out of your depth in general, Jacob. This place has had many strange incidents for years, and it’s hard to explain why. Dean Reagan’s death was just one of them. And Sam, he knows the truth. You have no idea what they did to Dean, he let this town consume him. I’d be careful that the same thing doesn’t happen to you.’
I took a step back. ‘Are you threatening me?’
Timothy shook his head. ‘No, I’m just giving you some friendly advice. I can be a real friend to you, not like all of these phoney, crazy bastards,’ he said signalling to the other people who were shopping, seemingly minding their own business, except for the occasional glance. ‘They may seem like nice, ordinary people, but when you’ve lived here long enough you learn that everyone in this town is hiding something. And don’t think they’re not watching you, because they are. They’re probably listening to us right now, they’re good at that, even when it looks like they aren’t.’
He tried to get in close again, so I took another step back. ‘Tell me why I should trust someone who condones murder?’
‘The person that Sam killed wasn’t Dean Reagan. Not anymore.’
I shook my head and grabbed my cart, ready to walk away. ‘That doesn’t even make any sense! He still killed a man. It’s wrong. It’s unlawful.’
‘Do you see the law here? In fact, do you really see Silver Oaks, or do you just see what you want to see?’ Timothy asked, withharrowing conviction. And I thought about his question. Sam already mentioned that there was no real law system in place. And when I considered it, there didn’t appear to be a Sheriff’s department or police station around. Maybe they dismantled the police? I know some places do that. I don’t know.
‘I just see a small town that is still clinging onto a tragedy. Despite whether Dean Reagan was really killed, or did die from an accident, it seems to have the people around here pretty riled up. Sam needs to turn himself into the authorities so the town can move on. Where is he anyway? WHO is he?’
‘No one knows were Sam is. But he’s in this town, somewhere. Hiding. No one ever really leaves Silver Oaks. No one really can.’
I nodded my head at Timothy’s delusional comment, the same comment Sam had made on ‘The Peaceful Hour’. ‘Okay, well it was nice meeting you!’ I said sarcastically as I steered off with my cart. But Timothy grabbed me by the arm before I could walk any further. I looked down, feeling my face flushing with fury. I was just about ready to brawl with this idiot.
‘Please, Jacob!’ He pleaded. ‘Just open your eyes a bit more. I’m not crazy, I’m just trying to help you. Can I come over to the tower later? There’s something I want you to hear. It might clarify a few things for you. Help you make sense of what I’m trying to tell you…away from prying eyes.’
I bit my bottom lip as I considered his proposal. I swiftly nudged his hand off my arm and walked away at a steady pace. ‘Eight O’Clock,’ I said with my back turned to him. ‘Don’t try anything stupid, I’m handy with a baseball bat.’ I lied.
After paying for my groceries, I packed them into my car and opened up the fresh pack of cigarettes I just bought. I ended up smoking the rest of the pack I had last night and this morning, and I know, I promised myself I wouldn’t smoke regularly again but desperate times and all that. I hadn’t smoked like this since my divorce but it was helping calm my nerves. I decided to lean against my bonnet taking in the sunshine, something I’d rarely seen since moving here and probably one of the things I missed about the city. Eventually the heat on the bonnet started to burn my ass after a while, so I decided to take a walk around town as I didn’t feel like going back to the tower straight away.
I still had something that Timothy said playing on my mind, about not really seeing Silver Oaks, and I had no idea what he meant until it dawned on me that since I had been here, I had not seen a single child or baby until today. They were school kids, all boys, in a grey uniform, all walking in perfection unison like the chickens I saw earlier. The strange thing about them was that even though they all had different hair colours, eye colours, different heights; they all looked the same facially. Close family members maybe? Cousins? Either that or one guy really was a very busy fella spreading his seeds around. But still, it was unusual.
Then I noticed that the church was actually boarded up, with an imprint on the front where the crucifix used to be. Come to think of it, the building looked very derelict, like it hadn’t been used in decades. There were birds sitting on top of the church roof, big birds, and they didn’t look like any species I’d seen before. It was hard to tell from this distance, but their eyes seemed to be bulging and their feathers were extremely long on their wings. If it wasn’t strange enough that there was still a video store here, like I mentioned earlier, the people who were going in there – which was quite a lot — weren’t coming out of there with DVD rentals. They were coming out with big duffle bags. What they had in them? I had no idea. Timothy was right, I never really SAW Silver Oaks. But now that I finally did, everything seemed off.
I drove back up to the tower, listening to the auto playlist I left on the broadcast whilst I was away. The car I bought after the divorce was old and slightly beat down, it didn’t have an AUX portal, so listening to SILVER OAKS 96.6 was my only option as I didn’t own any cassette tapes. Just before driving up the hill to the tower, I stopped again at Goldmayer’s Farm and the drilling sound from earlier had gone. There was now several cows chewing the long grass outside the red barn. Still no sign of Mr Goldmayer though, I’d never actually seen him any time I’d drove past the farm. Before I was about to drive off, just to my right I saw those chickens from earlier crossing the road back over to the farm — I assumed they were the same chickens anyway. Only…they were much bigger than they were when I saw them that morning and their mouths and breasts were covered in—oh God. It was blood. No question about it. What the fuck had they been eating? I didn’t wait for them to cross this time. I beeped my horn, making them jump frantically and revved my engine as I sped up the hill.
It all started to stir around in my head — all these thoughts, all these things I’d seen and heard. What the hell was going on in this crazy fucking place? Why hadn’t I noticed all these weird things before? What was with those chickens? Who or WHAT are those children? What the actual FUCK happened to Dean Reagan? And then just as I was about to make my turn up to the tower, this big blue light flashed in front of me. There was something behind it that I couldn’t quite see, it was huge and towered over the road. I swerved the car away from it, and pulled hard on the brakes, making my car screech as I pushed my foot on the brake as hard as I could. The car went flying forward, and I just missed one of the oak trees by a few centimetres. My heart pounded and I tried to control my heavy breathing, I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. I looked in the rear view mirror to see if that thing behind the light was still there, but there was nothing on the road except for my tire marks. I leaned my head on the stirring wheel for a moment and tried to calm down, listening to my breathing slowly decreasing and waited for my hands to stop shaking. After a few minutes, I reversed my car back onto the road and made my way up to the tower.
As soon as I got in, despite it being barely noon, I opened a beer and downed it in one go, then opened another. It helped to calm my nerves. Then I lit a cigarette and walked over to the window to look out at the oaks, it seemed calm and nothing out of the ordinary struck me. But all my doubts before had vanished…
There was something out there after all.
Next: Part Two
submitted by leeroyzombi to nosleep [link] [comments]

[Exotic Weaponsmith] pt.2

Author's note: Hey guys! Just based on the poll I'll probably end up writing at least one more chapter. If you like my writing and want more, feel free to check out my original fiction Snowstorm on RoyalRoad. Just promise me you won't tell them I'm writing fanfic instead of new chapters...
Anyway, this clocks in just under 5k words.
P.S: I know that Pirate is cool with fan art, but do we know how they feel about fanfics or...?
Pt. 1: https://www.reddit.com/WanderingInn/comments/fyb9d8/exotic_weaponsmith/
Original Fiction: https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/27224/snowstorm
***
On the floor of his chaotic workspace, Nick examined his latest flight of fancy. It was a steel recurve bow, based off of the takedown bow they made in season 5 of Forged in Fire. He thumbed the heron mark on the bow and just knew that his rendition eclipsed the TV show’s finalists’ in terms of power, accuracy, and overall craftsmanship. Hell, it was a far cry from the crude hunks of iron he was pounding into shape just a few months ago. But… there were a few drawbacks. It was a beast of weapon and made of steel.
The [Bowyer] he managed to corner had told him that steel would never make a good enough bow.
“Too heavy my ass,” Nick said, to himself. What was the point of people leveling and developing superhuman strength if they didn’t put it to work? Plain old human Mongols shot bows with a draw weight of something like 180 pounds. Surely these monster hunting adventurers could shoot some equally monstrous bows.
The words echoed in an empty room full of lonely weapons. There was no one there to hear him. Not that it was an unusual occurrence. Nick often went without customers or even visitors for days at a time. It was rare for people to wander into his shop.
Nick scowled at that thought. Thinking about it put him in a bad mood. So, he did what he usually did. He turned his attention back to his craft.
The steel bow was nearly 6 feet long unstrung. Nick had contemplated putting edges on it to make it into a bladed-staff/bow thing, but he decided against it. The risk that it would hurt its wielder was too high and a weapon that hurt its wielder was useless. He learned that the hard way more than once since he arrived here.
The steel was a folded pattern-weld, or a ‘Damascus Steel’ as they called it back home. It wasn’t true Damascus, but that art was lost and he was doing his best. The advantage of a pattern-weld was that the overlapping steel helped compensate for the minor impurities. He had tried making his own high-carbon ingots, but no matter how he tried he hadn't gotten the knack of it.
Life would be easier if he could find a way to recycle his failed experiments, but he was pretty sure that the quenching process did something or other to the grain of the metal. It made it so he couldn't melt it back down again. Maybe? He wasn't sure and didn't want to risk a lethal weapon failure.
Buying good steel to keep on forging was... it was just something he had to do. Each weapon sold afforded him a few more ingots, and food was overrated anyway. It felt necessary, kinda like the bow-string he had to buy for this bow.
He bought the bow-string from the dubious [Bowyer], but he made the arrows for his creation himself. It was important for a [Weaponsmith] to be able to make their weapons from start to finish. Nick had put more than his fair share of sweat and blood into learning the woodworking tricks he needed. That and [Advanced Craftsmanship].
At least for the arrows he agreed with the [Bowyer]. Despite the slight rifling that the fletching created, arrows undulated through the air instead of flying straight like a bolt or bullet. Steel wouldn’t work. However, he did address the archer’s paradox by shaping the bow more like the compound bows of modern Earth. This allowed him to make stiffer arrows instead of needing the arrow to bend around the bow itself to fly straight. He hoped it would aid in penetrating power. Thank you, Youtube.
Nick tried to string his creation, using the anvil, his entire bodyweight, and at least two separate Skills. He failed. The draw was too heavy for him. It was perfect. However, he needed someone to test it for him. He wasn’t worried about the quality of it, but he needed to know just how powerful it was. Penetrating power was the entire reason he had dedicated a week of his life to this weapon.
Last week, when Shaira stopped by for a chat, she mentioned the whole Adventurer’s Guild was buzzing about some wyvern bounty. It was way beyond a Bronze rank like her, which is what gave Nick the idea. He needed to break into the Silver and Gold ranked market, and badly. Each time he sold a weapon to a Bronze ranked adventurer he had to cut prices so much that he was practically giving them away for the cost of the materials. At first it was okay because he thought it would get his brand out there but…
The issue was that it was about more than just pursuing his dream of becoming a legendary [Blacksmith]. He needed the cash. Rent was due, he needed to eat at some point, and most importantly, he was running out of materials. No materials meant no weapons, and no weapons meant no levels.
Nick hated admitting this, but he craved the rush he felt each time he leveled up. Not to mention the reality bending abilities of Skills. It was so exciting. Hours and hours of his life went into testing the limits of each new Skill he got, usually by making something new. The pure potential he felt kept him up every night, dreaming of the next weapon he could create.
That, and he was still chasing the high of the Skill he got when he reached level 20 and became an [Exotic Weaponsmith]. Never had he felt so validated. It still amazed him each time his [Mark of the Heron Smith] appeared on one of his weapons. He only had three so far, but he would figure out how the Skill ticked one of these days.
If Earth had Classes and stuff, maybe Nick would have spent less time working a dead end job to pay for his hobbies and more time bettering himself. But it didn’t matter now. Hell, it was a blessing in disguise that he had wasted so much of his life escaping reality by binge watching TV, playing video games, and reading books. Without those inspirations, he might be begging for money on the streets instead of obsessively pouring his heart and soul into his latest hobby.
He might be begging for money soon anyway.
Nick set the bow down and looked around at the dozens of weapons he had built. He needed to something more than just make weapons. A few things actually. He needed to sell at least some of these to people who would actually use them, get someone to test his new bow, and find a way to convince Silver and Gold ranked Adventurers to buy his work.
A sudden thought struck him. With a jolt of inspired energy, he leapt to his feet and began to gather up a few of his more interesting weapons. He hoped Shaira would be at the Adventurer’s Guild today.
***
Shaira was having an awful day. An amazing month, but the worst day in recent memory.
It had been a month since she had gained her heron-marked zweihander from that eccentric [Weaponsmith] and it had been like a fantasy come true. Nick was a poor negotiator and she practically waltzed out of there with her dream blade for what felt like free. As a favor to him, she sent several of her fellow Bronze ranked adventurers his way, and even popped in herself to say hi every week or two.
But the true miracle was the levels. She was a level 15 [Warrior] now! And with TWO new Skills. [Weapon Proficiency: Two-handed Swords] and [Lesser Endurance] spoke to the endless hours she spent practicing and sparring with her new weapon. She was going to name him at some point, but she was stuck on what it should be. Henry the Heron Blade was… well it just wasn’t good, as much as she liked it. And something like ‘The Wyvern Cleaver’ seemed so childish, especially coming from a Bronze rank like her. Then there was-
“Shaira! I am your team leader, you have to focus when I talk to you,” Nyer said, all but growling. He looked every inch the ideal of a heroic human adventurer, even when mad. His shaggy brown hair, bright green eyes, and well-muscled physique didn’t hurt.
But Shaira was immune to his good looks and she snapped back with unrestrained anger.
“What do you want me to do?! The rats are dead, and we collected the bounty. What exactly is the issue here?”
They were trudging through the city with proof of said bounty in tow. Nyer had sent the rest of the team off to go cool down while he and Shaira ‘had a talk.’
“The issue is that ungainly sword of yours. Haven’t you been listening?”
“Really? Because it sounds like your issue is that I practically did today’s bounty by myself. It is not my fault if I am improving and the rest of you are-“
“That is IT! Dead gods, you are difficult,” Nyer said, causing Shaira to jerk back in surprise. He rarely cursed. “I promised the rest of the team I would talk to you first, but you are being impossible. We can’t make a formation with you waving that thing around and the rest of us can’t improve if you hog all the glory for yourself.”
Shaira had a sinking feeling of dread. She had felt this coming for days, which might be why she was being so confrontational. Still. It stung.
“So, what are you saying?” she said.
Nyer took a deep breath to calm himself. He was a good man, really. Level-headed, organized, and more than just handy with a spear. It was why he led their little band of intrepid adventurers. He stopped in the street and turned to her, looking deep into her eyes. His expression was not unkind.
“Look, we think you should find a new team. Like you said, you practically did today’s bounty by yourself. So, you should take the reward and…”
He trailed off as tears began to well in her eyes. She thought she would be stronger than this. He stepped closer and laid his free hand on her shoulder, the one without a massive sword propped against it. His other hand shifted to adjust his grip on the spear over his own shoulder. What a pair they made.
“Shaira,” he started, but paused. He gathered himself to try again. “Shaira, I like you. We all like you. But, I think that maybe that [Blacksmith] got into your head. Having a sword with a neat pattern and an etched heron isn’t going to make you a legend like Mars the Illusionist. You keep throwing yourself in over your head, trusting that sword to keep you alive but one of these days you are going to be surrounded and alone with your team too far away to watch your back. I cannot bear to be there to see it.”
Shaira sniffed and wiped at her eyes. There wasn’t much left to say. This was far from their first fight on the subject and everything he said were things that had been said before. She wasn’t ready yet though, if she ever would be.
Through blurry eyes she watched his trembling expression. This was hard for everyone involved. They all started this together. Just a bunch of kids with big dreams trying to make it as adventurers. Years later and they had weathered a few storms and too many losses. Nyer was the only one responsible enough to do what had to be done before it tore the team apart.
With the emotional weight of their history behind her, it was all Shaira could do to nod. She couldn’t delay her dreams because her team was growing slower than her, but it still wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t they meet her halfway?
They stood there in silence for several minutes before Shaira spoke again.
“Will you at least help me carry in the bounty?”
“Yeah, of course,” he said. She could hear the smile in his voice but couldn’t bring herself to look any longer. “Team or not, we are still friends. Just like when we were kids.”
“Yeah.”
What would her childhood self say if she knew that their best friend kicked her out of the adventuring team they founded because she was too selfish to bend on how she wanted to achieve her dream? She was glad she would never have to find out.
An hour later, Shaira found herself alone in the Adventurer’s Guild with a stiff drink and a pocket full of today’s bounty. She ran a whetstone down the wavy edges of her zweihander and wondered what she was going to do now. With her level of skill, she should be able to find a place on another Bronze team easy enough, but that wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted a challenge. No more rat-killing. But, where would she find a Silver team that would take her?
“Hey Shaira, I see you’re practicing playing with big swords again,” a man said as he helped himself to a seat at her table, taking a long swig of her drink. She looked up to glare the offender, ironically a Silver ranked adventurer. She would never join his team though. Not in a thousand years. “When are you going to give up and play with mine?”
“Not in the mood today, Krado.”
“Oh come on, beautiful,” Krado said, laughing. He was a big man with an equally big laugh. For months he had been making the Guild uncomfortable for her with his advances. She just wasn’t interested in in him, level 23 or no. “I am actually here to make you an offer.”
“I will not sleep with you, so stop asking.”
Krado grinned. Shaira saw no humor in it.
“Well, it is not exactly about that,” he said, leaning forward as if he was hoarding some great secret. “You see, I heard a little rumor that your team kicked you out. And I was thinking-“
Shaira stood up with an abrupt motion. Her chair clattered to the ground and the atmosphere of the Guild grew quiet as people turned to watch the spectacle. She spun and strode several paces before whipping around to level her beloved zweihander at Krado, holding the point of the seven pound blade steady with a single hand. [Lesser Strength] made the weight trivial to her.
“Dead gods, am I sick of you, Krado. The way I see it, you are Silver rank on boasting alone. Why don’t you spar with me to prove your worth?”
Krado half rose from his seat, his face flushing with rage. To his credit, he managed to not lose control after having his capability challenged in front of the entire Guild by a lowly Bronze adventurer.
“You do not want to do this,” he said. His deep voice rumbled with menace. “Take it back.”
If it was only her black mood, perhaps Shaira would have backed down. After all, Krado only ever asked. It was beyond aggravating, but at least he had never so much as touched her. But her mood was not all that was driving her. She had asked for a challenge and one had presented itself to her on a silver platter. Team or not, she still had a [Warrior’s] pride.
“No. Fight me.”
Krado, level 23 [Hammerer], stood the rest of the way up and reached for his weapon. He was as broad as any [Miner] who moved stone for a living, with his dark hair cropped short and several gnarled scars across his bare, muscular arms. Despite his abrasive personality, he was respected within the community.
The point of Shaira’s zweihander did not waver. He would be a fitting challenge indeed.
“Hey, hey,” a [Receptionist] said, rushing up to the two. “Take it outside.”
“Fine with me,” Shaira said. Her voice shook, but her will held fast. Win or lose, she needed this.
A few minutes later, they were in a cleared out space in the Guild’s training grounds. Around them, a small crowd was passing bets. Shaira thought she saw a few familiar faces. Regardless, she knew the odds were far from in her favor.
Across from her, Krado was in a heated argument with his team’s [Mage].
“I wield a hammer. [Blunt Weapons] is more in my favor than it is hers. I will be damned before I am accused of giving myself an advantage over a fledging with a sword almost twice her size.”
“Don’t be a proud fool, Krado! Even in the hands of a common [Worker], that thing could take off a limb with a lucky strike. At least wear armor.”
“My decision is final. I will not-“
Shaira stepped forward and cut in, her zweihander in hand.
“Blunt my blade. I am no [Laborer]. My weapon will break bone as easily as your hammer, even without an edge.”
Krado pulled up short, glaring daggers at the woman who stung his pride.
“So what do you propose?”
“Blunt my sword and we fight to incapacitation or surrender.”
Krado considered her proposal for a long moment before nodding in agreement. As the [Mage] began casting the spell, Shaira heard a familiar voice in the crowd.
“Excuse me, homie. Sorry, bro, coming through,” a tall, thin man with shaggy blonde hair said as he shouldered his way through the crowd toward Shaira. She recognized him immediately. Nick. He shifted the massive bundle on his back and called out to her. “Hey! Shaira. You got a minute?”
She cursed under her breath and tried to look away, but he had already seen her. He made his way over.
“Yo, I was wondering if you could help me test out this new bow I made since you’re super strong and all that,” he said, an oblivious grin on his face. “I can’t string it.”
The [Mage] had finished casting [Blunt Weapons], so Shaira grabbed Nick by the shoulder and pulled him away from Krado. She spoke to Nick in a furious whisper.
“Now is not a good time. I am putting my life on the line to fight a Silver ranked [Hammerer] and I don’t have time to play with whatever you have concocted in that shop of yours.”
Nick leaned past her to peer at Krado, who was limbering up with his warhammer. His expression faded from a cheerful grin to a thoughtful frown.
“Hmmm, Silver you say? And with a crowd?” Nick thought for a second, then his frown bloomed into a massive smile. “This is perfect! I’m glad I came.”
Shaira just stared at him, incredulous.
“What do you mean ‘perfect’?” She stopped mid rant as she caught herself yelling. Returning her voice to a furious whisper she did her best to explain the situation. “One bad break and I will never adventure again. How is this perfect?”
“Once you win, you can tell everyone you got your sword from me!” Nick didn’t even hesitate with his reply. It was as if her winning was already set in stone. “Since you beat a Silver ranked Adventurer with one of my weapons, that will mean I make weapons on that level, ya know?”
Shaira stared at him, a dumb expression on her face, but that didn’t stop him from voicing out the rest of his little fantasy.
“So, you hurry up and deal with this guy, then I need you to help me find an [Archer] or something with some sort of strength Skill. I’ve got this beast of a bow that I’m feeling really good about. It took me all week, but I forged it to kill wyverns and I think-“
She couldn’t take it anymore.
“Stop! Nick, just- Will you be quiet?”
“What? I-“
“You do not understand.” She enunciated each word like she was trying to drill them directly though his head. “Krado is a level 23 [Hammerer] on a Silver ranked team. He has eight levels and years of experience on me. There is no way I can beat him!”
Nick frowned. He leaned out to examine Krado once again.
“The big guy with the hammer, right?”
“Yes, what else would a [Hammerer] be using?”
Nick just shrugged.
“I don’t see what you’re so worked up about. That thing looks about four-ish feet long with a wooden shaft and all the weight in the head. The wavy blade of the your zweihander is designed to give you more surface area to cut through pike shafts as well as give you a little extra time to riposte when you parry.”
Shaira had sudden insight as to why she didn’t visit Nick that often. He was infuriating in his ignorance.
“He is strong and experienced, Nick.” She emphasized her words as much as she could without raising her voice once again.
“Totally,” Nick said, not missing a beat. “And when he swings that thing one handed, he’ll have more reach than you because you gotta remember that it is the length of the weapon plus the length of his arm. Then, if he chokes up on it, he can get inside your guard and go all close-combat.”
Shaira had a sudden sinking feeling. He was right. Nick continued on, not noticing her expression while he continued to examine Krado.
“You just gotta remember that a greatsword like the zweihander is designed to use its size and balance to control the space. That, and you need to be careful that your footwork is going with the momentum of the blade and not fighting against it.”
With that, Nick clapped Shaira on the shoulder, wished her good luck, and wandered off to find out who was taking bets. Somewhere during the conversation, Shaira’s black mood had evaporated and her anger had abandoned her. Now she was just a low-level [Warrior] facing a high level opponent with a weapon she had only been practicing with for a month. She almost gave up then and there.
But no. Her pride as a [Warrior] would not allow it. Besides, Nick was so confident in her. Maybe she could do it?
“Last chance to back out,” Krado said, striding forward to stand in the center of the training ground. He made a show of swinging the hammer in a way that showcased just how heavy it was. It was designed to send shockwaves of force through both armor and a monster’s natural defenses. “No one here will think you a [Coward].”
Shaira took a deep breath and considered that perhaps Nyer was right. She kept throwing herself in over her head and one of these days it would kill her. Not today though. Today she would win.
At least, that is what she told herself.
“They will know me to be a [Warrior], Krado,” she said, adjusting her grip on the zweihander’s long handle and stepping forward. The heron etched into the blade caught the light at that moment, helping her to harden her resolve. Someday she would be a legend and this was the first step.
“It is your body to break, Shaira,” Krado said, his disproval clear despite his verbal acceptance.
The [Receptionist] that urged them to take their quarrel outside stepped into the makeshift ring with them, clarifying the rules they had set for each other. To surrender or incapacitation. They both agreed. The [Receptionist] stepped back and shouted.
“Begin!”
Krado pulled his warhammer back to take a swing at her, but Shaira still had Nick’s words echoing in the back of his mind. She stepped forward, the tip of her blade leading the way. With the push and pull of both hands leveraging the length of her weapon, she flicked the tip toward Krado’s face.
Krado aborted his swing to parry her sword with the haft of his warhammer. It slid along the length of her blade, gouging a shallow groove into the wood, before catching on the parry hooks set above the cross guard. Shaira altered the angle of the blade, stepped forward, and lunged, using her longer weapon to her advantage.
Dancing away, Krado lashed out with his hammer in a single hand, just like Nick said he would. His reach was at least seven feet, easy. But Shaira was prepared. She stepped back, twisting her sword above her head to gain momentum. The head of the hammer passed in front of her with such force that the wind of its passing almost made her falter. But it didn’t. She stepped forward with a powerful slash, pressing her advantage. It felt like her zweihander was alive in her hands.
Like Nick said, she had to control the space.
***
Nick winced as Shaira missed having her ribcage crushed by mere inches. He knew almost nothing about sword fighting but that did not look good. Then again, Shaira seemed to be doing fine. He passed on what little he remembered from a few casual internet searches about using greatswords, but was far from an expert on the subject. This fight was making him nervous.
Their weapons clashed again and he felt a twinge of guilt. He really needed Shaira to win this, but that guy was so big and mean looking. If she got seriously injured he didn’t know what he would do. A large part of him was already regretting encouraging her, but he hadn’t known what else to do!
He had just done for Shaira what his dad did for him when he was worried. His dad would always show blind faith in his capabilities and that had always helped him… But this was a lot bigger deal than a baseball game.
Nick let out a breath as Shaira dodged a vicious swing and lashed out with a controlled cut in reply. It was all a chaotic mess to him, but he thought they seemed pretty evenly matched? At least she wasn’t over swinging. That was a big issue for people, right?
He covered one eye with his hand and massaged his temple as they went after each other. Shaira scored a glancing blow but it didn’t slow ole muscle head down even a little.
A few seconds later, Nick was watching with his head in both hands. Shaira was beating her opponent back by leveraging the pure size difference of their weapons, but Nick knew from his short apprenticeship under a kindly [Blacksmith], that a single active Skill could make all the difference. With an eight level advantage and a specialized Class, the odds of her opponent having at least one activated Skill was much higher than the chances of Shaira having one.
As if sensing his thoughts, ole muscle head wound back with his hammer like he was an all-star slugger winding up for a homerun. With a resounding cry of “[Hammer Blow!]” he took a swing at Shaira. Nick couldn’t watch. He had to look away.
There was sharp crack and Nick felt his stomach drop. This was it. His greed had gotten someone killed. Not just anyone, but someone wielding one of his [Mark of the Heron Smith] weapons. Hell, someone he considered a friend.
How was he going to build a legend now? It was over. He would sell his weapons for scrap and find some way to redeem himself. Maybe he could make one of those barbed whips that those weird monks used to lash themselves on Earth. That was who he was now.
“I surrender,” echoed out and Nick almost leapt for joy. She was alive! Thank god. He would have made a terrible monk.
Nick turned to take stock of the situation and felt like his eyes would burst out of his head. Shaira stood with her sword pressed against the big guy’s neck. She had a hand pressed to her side, but managed to keep the zweihander steady with just one hand. Nick had thought her overconfident when she said [Lesser Strength] would be enough for her to wield the thing. He had never been so happy to be wrong.
After a second, Nick put together what had happened. The big guy was only holding the bottom half of his hammer, the head had flown off on impact and hit Shaira in the ribs. That had to hurt.
Nick rushed forward to congratulate Shaira, amongst a chorus of groans as unlucky betters paid up.
“You did it!” He yelled. “And you’re okay! Bro, I was so worried.”
Shaira grimaced in pain.
“’Okay’ may be overstating it. I think I broke something.” Something seemed to dawn on her. “What do you mean you were worried? And why do you sound surprised that I won?”
Nick couldn’t see a scenario in which answering that question ended well for him. So, he didn’t.
“Yo, weren’t you going to tell everyone I made your sword?”
Shaira grimaced again, but Nick highly doubted it was another bout of pain. Not physical pain at least.
“I will, I will.” She assured him “If they ask.”
Nick let out a non-committal grunt in terms of a reply to that wishy-washy answer. Not that he was too mad about it, he did just enable her to do something stupid so he wasn’t exactly in the right here. Then, something caught his eye. There was someone here with a problem he was uniquely suited to solve.
“Don’t forget, I need you to help me find someone to test my bow for me. I’ll be right back,” he said, before turning to go catch a retreating Krado.
It took Shaira’s adrenaline addled mind a few seconds to catch up to what just happened. Nick’s voice rising over the murmuring of the crowd is what really drove it in.
“Hey, big guy! Can I interest you in a new weapon?”
Shaira’s grip on her zweihander tightened. Someone offered a healing potion and she took a deep swig. Then, she tested the edge of her zweihander to see if the [Blunt Weapons] spell had worn off yet. The [Mage] must have dispelled it as soon as the fight was over, because she cut her thumb. Her blood dripped down the flat of her sword, flowing into the etched heron on the side.
Shaira didn’t bother to wipe off, instead pushing through the crowd in the direction Nick went. She had yet to decide if she was going to kill Nick or not, but it was best to be prepared.
***
[Warrior Level 17!]
[Skill: Quick Footwork Obtained!]
[Skill: Heron Marked Learned!]
Shaira woke to intense pain in her wrist. She gasped and fumbled for a light to see what hurt so bad. There, on the inside of her right wrist was a blood-colored heron, the exact size and shape of the one etched into her sword. The pain faded fast, but she sat there for a long time, just staring at her wrist.
submitted by mcgregm to WanderingInn [link] [comments]

Let’s Not Be a Drama Queen About This: Recap of Before the 90 Days S04E07

Welcome to another recap of Before the 90 Days: The Season Where No One is Dating. First off, if you’re watching Geoffrey’s segment, your safe word is “orange”. If that doesn’t work, please lock yourself in a panic room and wait there until the Avengers arrive. If you hear one voice say, “No really, this is totally the Avengers” do not open the door. Or maybe just social-distance yourself from this whole fucking storyline, because we should not be observing this human stain.
Let’s turn our attention to prisoner of war Usman, busy filming a real life version of Get Out. You know it’s bad when the con artist seeking green card access to bolster a floundering hip hop career is the protagonist. I haven’t felt this awkward since last season of Vanderpump Rules when I was forced to defend James Kennedy. Anyway, Baby-Girl Lisa still hasn’t successfully harvested his essence to maintain control over the Dark Crystal, and Usman threatens to throw a wrench into her plans with a daring escape in the trunk of his friend’s car. Then he realizes he left his phone in the hotel room, and it’s got the lyrics to “Dabbing” on it, so he’s forced to return, to face Lisa losing the mind she never had.
She declares that he’s been absent for 30 minutes and she’s upset …which would have also been the case if he were gone for five minutes, or not at all, or if he went to the bathroom unsupervised, or put on his right shoe before his left one, or stood up too quickly or not fast enough. This time, Lisa’s argument is that she was “scared’ to be left alone (with producers in a hotel room). Annoyed with this never-ending wheel of complaint, Usman declares that he can’t win with her. Then BGL cuts him down with “Let’s not be a drama queen about this.” That’s right kids, all aboard the Gaslight Express, where the person reacting to the drama is the drama queen — not the person perpetually creating it. Would someone please take this man’s photo so he can restore his spirit to his body with the flash? GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!
She continues to stitch a verbal quilt of grievances, while noting how irrelevant Usman’s points are, and looking like she’s ready to start filming her episode of Intervention. Usman slowly realizes that Lisa is unlikely to have an adult conversation with his mother, let alone a respectful one, and he may not be able to salvage his Nigerian hip hop career, let alone forge one in the US of A. He goes outside and admits to the producers that he may have reached his breaking point, and would like to know if they have some kind of relocation program. This is not what Lisa expects from a prisoner, and she informs the producers that “the man who left here is not the man I abducted.”
Usman returns at 2AM to sit in an adjacent room and not talk to Lisa, making half of his wildest dreams come true. He lights up a hookah and considers how he has this “wonderful opportunity” to go to the states, and it might be too much to pretend to like Lisa long enough to get a green card. The producers ask him how he’s doing, and he says that anything he does is not enough, and before he can answer further BGL groans her way into the room.
“Nobody’s perfect. You need to make up your mind and make it up quick,” She declares, because that makes sense. He attempts to confront her, and states that he’s always respected her, and she insults him. And if it’s this bad in Nigeria, what’s it going to be like when she submerges him in preservative gel in the United States? “You’re very insecure about this relationship,” Lisa mumbles.
Usman says that yes, he is, that’s the truth. Then Lisa unfurls her scroll of half-assed excuses, including that the whole trip has been stressful, that there’s a five hour time difference, that she’s in this hotel room that bests the average Idaho haunt but is beneath her, and it’s a day of the week that ends in y, and he should know how she feels about that. Then she says she wants to “close it up” which is the closest Usman is going to get to an apology. For whatever reason, Usman decides that this will do, and later Lisa expresses concerns about returning to the US alone, and declares “ it will destroy both of us.” By this she means she’ll be forced to rework the plot into something that ends with her saucy finger, and will leak the unedited version of Usman’s “I Love You” video, because that’ll teach him.
Speaking of horror movies, let’s stop by Silence of the Lambs to visit Creepy Ed, who puts the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again. Rose has made the unfortunate mistake of returning to their shared hotel room, where he hands her a robe and tells her to take a bath, then forces champagne on her, and says he’s going to rub her feet. Note that he didn’t ask her if she was interested in any of these things. Ed considers this “showing how romantic he can be” while the rest of us call this “reasons to run out of the room with your shoes in your hand the minute he goes to the bathroom.” As she gets comfortable because he told her to, Big Nightmare declares he’s “staring at her feet and not her pajamas,” and I’m staring into the deep black abyss, hunting for a portal to escape this. Friends, this is it: the Most Cringe Scene in 90DF History. There’s not even any competition. This is the Citizen Kane of cringe.
“It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever its told,” Ed declares, with “Goodbye Horses” softly playing in the background.
“Please let me out,” Rose cries.
Since Rose is recoiling in a manner obvious to anyone who isn’t an incel, Ed seizes the opportunity to ask her for a kiss. She says on her cheek or the end of her fist after a wind up, whatever he prefers. He asks for “the middle” which she assumes means the forehead. He kisses her on the cheek, and then brow beats her into kissing him on the mouth. She gets it over with as quickly as possible, and Ed declares that it was “nice” and Jesus Christ, someone put a collar on this beast.
“Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me,” Ed explains (“Goodbye horses, I’m flying over you…”.)
“Is this called coercion in United States?” Rose asks.
“It puts the lotion in the fucking basket!”
The next morning it appears Rose has finally succumbed to his ridiculous advances, and seems cool with it. She declares a hatred for his under-the-bridge beard, and Ed notes that she has hairy legs, which he finds “gross,”and asks her to shave them to best match his blow-up doll ideal. This is rich coming from someone with a greasy mop of Clairol for Mayo dangling in his face. Soon I’ll kick off a GoFundMe to buy Rose a full-body merkin to insulate her lady flesh from Ed’s Rumpelstiltskin mitts. For now, she goes in for the shave and Ed ditches the beard, and I long for the Wookie days of yore.
Later he heads to Rose’s house to act like a goon around a larger audience. He takes a three hour cab ride to her village, where he is shocked to discover that the Philippines is like the Philippines. First he meets Rose’s son Prince, who initially seems confused, and then declares “daddy!” And embraces him. Big Ed isn’t sure how he feels about being a father again at 54, but he’s totally okay with dating a child. Ed is also uneasy about meeting Rose’s sister Maria, because she hit up Ed for cash. Once Maria meets Ed, she realizes she should have asked for more.
The family is waiting with a little surprise party, and Ed meets Rose’s other two sisters and a brother-in-law. When they ask what he thinks, he wants to know where the windows are, and if he should worry about getting rabies from wayward bats or cockroaches, because he’s heard both things are attracted to the scent of canola oil. Seriously: why can’t anyone on this show make a polite comment to the family except Angela? How hard is it to say, “Well I bet you have a great view of the stars!”
Rose’s family has a nice set of dishes arranged for dinner, including fish, chicken, rice, and the silky gravy of Ed’s back sweat. He asks for something to drink, while they marvel at the river running down his face, and we learn her father is running late because he’s busy at the pig farm, which also sounds suspiciously poor to Ed. When Father arrives he’s quiet, contemplating that his daughter is hoping to marry someone older than himself, who is pushing his food around his plate, and calling a chicken like a dog to feed it from the table. Rose’s father wants to know if Ed knows the difference between dinner and a dog, and then asks what Ed’s intentions are, other than getting on his damn nerves. Ed declares, “I want to get to know your daughter, no games.” Sure, Prince is already calling him “daddy,” but wouldn’t want to create strange expectations by suggesting marriage post-coitus, amirite?
Ed declares that now that he’s seen the depth of their poverty, he worries that he’s just a meal ticket to Rose, and not the man of her dreams, even though he’s after Rose for specific things himself. I mean, a lot of 19 year old women are just jonesing for a controlling, anxiety-riddled man who hasn’t had sex in 28 years to fulfill their hobbit kink, so he has a right to be choosey. It’s important for her to love him like Rose loved Jack in the Titanic, even if Ed can’t draw anything and would demand to be the only body on that floating door, and she’s the only person to consider him king of any world.
Meanwhile, Tom continues his crusade to come off as a sympathetic character by making sad eyes from his good angle for the camera. As he pieces together one of his predictably boring outfits, he says he hopes they can have a conversation and attack the problem and not the person, but admits that he doesn’t care about attacking the person if the person is Darcey and not himself.
He situates himself to await her arrival, while Darcey enters the joint with a Beyoncé track in her head, and dumps her 16 changes of clothing on an unsuspecting hostess who has questions. Then she struts. Her. Shit. This is officially the first time Darcey has donned an outfit that isn’t from her signature Midlife Crisis line, and that jumpsuit is the fuck-you jam, and I want it for my next dramatic public fight with a future ex. She greets him as “Thomas” and passes on the affectionate greeting in favor of a handshake, before settling in for some gold medal passive aggression.
Tom: I’m nervous. Because I’m full of shit.
Darcey: No need. It’s just me. That’s called constipation, Tom.
Tom: How was Malta? If I had talked to you sometime in the last six weeks, I might know the answer to this question.
Darcey: It was nice to spend it with Stace. Thank you for the birthday…text. You said you were going to call or video call, I waited that whole day…but it’s okay. I know you’re a dick.
Tom: What actually happened to us? I’m going to act like what happened isn’t me going balls deep in another chick and bragging about it on instagram.
Darcey: I don’t know, but you must not know about me, you must not know about me. Should I say it twice? That’s kinda weird. It sounded better in my head.
Hannibal Lector: Cut him on the bias, Clarice. Serve him with a nice Chianti.
Tom goes on to say that she “was” this lovely woman, but has very specific things she wants, and she’s really not there for him, because she’s preoccupied with selecting the right filters for her twirling face-angle shots on instagram. He insists that Darcey never lets him talk during the conversations they don’t have, while a waiter with bad timing regrets his water glass decisions, and knows his tip is going to be bullshit. Darcey’s not having it, and knows he’s rerouting the events of the last six months to be about her doing something wrong, so she wants to know what his secret is, and talks to him in a soothing voice that is WAY more terrifying than mad Darcey.
“What do you want to hear?” Tom asks, because he’s still determined to make this about how out of control and unreasonable Darcey is, what with her fancy wanting interaction and silly expectations that he wouldn’t start another relationship before breaking it off with her.
“Tell her she’s insecure,” Baby Girl Lisa advises.
Darcey says she knows about the other woman he’s been posing with in stilted thigh-grab photographs, and Tom says that he met this person three weeks ago, and her name is Shannon, and he was hoping to get some exit sex. Since that doesn’t seem to be working out, he goes with, “I met someone who loves me the way I want to be loved. In three weeks.” Then what the fuck are you doing there, dude? He says, “You had everything of me in your hands, and you didn’t see it. And it was hard to listen to the Jesse thing all the time, when I was busy thinking about other people I planned to bang.” Since this isn’t already ridiculous enough, he says he’s not her notion of love, and that he loves her like a sister he wants to have sex with. Darcey thinks about what this means for her and Stacey, while Tom says he wants to be her friend.
Darcey nixes that bullshit, and says she doesn’t want to be friends. Then Tom tells her to “try not to ruin the next” relationship, and it’s easier to get through this scene if you imagine Tom has a diseased ballsack for a chin, which isn’t far off. He lets Darcey pay for his coffee, and continues throwing his Chex Mix on the floor by saying it’s a weight off of him, and when Darcey tells him to enjoy his life, he responds, “I will now that you’re not in it.” That twice a year interaction was really bringing him down before.
Tom tells the producers that he showed up to see if anything was still there, and because he wanted to be on camera one more time, and because he wanted to have sex with Darcey’s smother-titties before returning to the safety of Shannon’s thigh. Darcey is over this shit, and is ready to watch the baseball bat video with Beyoncé is a yellow dress, breaking stuff.
It’s time to revisit the platonic romantic relationship of Erika and Stephanie. As she stated last week, Stephanie is “waiting” to have sex until she’s actually bisexual, so Erika should start checking out social-distancing hers and hers nursing homes right now. Erika got to know Stephanie as someone with a risqué, fun, and sexual online persona, and she incorrectly assumed that Stephanie would clue her in if her real self didn’t match that presentation. With this in mind, Erika is certain Steph will love her big date surprise: a little artsy neon-lit joint where the last Rockabilly chick in an updo coaches women through the wet wrap construction of boob molds! Is this a thing so one day they can look back fondly on the time their tits weren’t smacking against their knees, or to create a decorative dinner mint container? I want to surprise a friend who will hate me afterwards with this, or arrive with just my cat and wide eyes and my own set of decorative paints. Or maybe I will wake up my partner tomorrow by hovering over him with a jar of plaster while whispering, “it’s time to preserve me.”
Stephanie doesn’t like this because she is wrong, and this is her first time seeing her own breasts outside of the internet. So she sits there awkwardly while everyone has their guns out for a showdown at the double-d corral, wondering why the fuck Erika didn’t see fit to, you know, ask if she wanted to have her tits in the air. All snark aside, I’m siding with Stephanie on this one. Choosing to explore the wonders of titty molds is one thing; arriving at a surprise titty shakedown is another, especially when this doubles as the debut fondling experiment. Something tells me Erika was hoping this would lead to The Sex. This is very Ed of you, Erika. But your fried egg overalls are still amazing.
Anyway, Stephanie decides to play along, and shakes the boxes of medication out of her bra to brace for breast spackle. The other titty sisters preserving their boobage opt to engage, which they will soon regret, and they ask about their relationship, and whether one of them intends to relocate to keep their romance warm. Stephanie, who is pissed off enough that she’s looking for anything to inspire grenade lobbing at Erika, says that she doesn’t think it will last very long if they’re not in the same place. Erika reminds her that she’s a photographer, and already has weddings booked that she needs to complete before moving to another country. Plus, she hears there’s a great plague coming that will leave us all under house arrest indefinitely. Also: it’s day 2. Maybe slow down on a borderline ultimatum. Erika then expresses confusion that on one hand Stephanie is very eager for their relationship to be set in stone, and on the other doesn’t want to have sex with her when they’re working with a tight three-week timeline.
“Is this coercion?” Rosemarie asks.
“Sort of,” Erika reluctantly admits. “I’m hoping it won’t count because I’m bisexual.”
“Still creepy though, and I KNOW creepy,” Ed is there with the confirmation.
Later on they ready themselves for a date, which is really a set-up so Stephanie can interrogate Erika about having a dating app on her phone. Other people would, you know, ask about the app the minute it was spotted, but the cameras weren’t there and this storyline needs Stephanie’s extensions.
Stephanie kicks things off by stating her intentions to take Erika to a nice dinner, and gives Erika a cute tiara headband thing to wear on their date. Once they’ve settled into their table and the thought of romance has dared to enter Erika’s head, Stephanie brings up the “boobie papier mache” and thinks a lot of people get the wrong impression of her, based on what she’s shown and told them. Then Steph demands to know what’s up with the app, and if Erika’s dated anyone else in the four months they’ve been thousands of miles apart. Erika says that she hasn’t and isn’t, but keeps it going for the networking side of things, and by networking she means dicks and vaginas under glass, which are useful in event of emergency.
Stephanie asks if she’d be open to deleting it, so Erika does it, but is annoyed that Stephanie doesn’t trust her and this action is required, and she hasn’t even had any swindle cake yet. Stephanie says the app just makes her uncomfortable, to which an exasperated Erika declares, “Everything makes you uncomfortable!” She says that Steph sold herself as free spirited and then arrived operating with the assumption that presents grant her the right to control her. 87% of the 90DF cast is miffed by this suggestion, and so is Stephanie. Erika takes off Stephanie’s tiara mind control device and storms off, and we get a good look at the extension cords and a sad drain on the floor when they chase after Erika while Stephanie fake cries at the table.
For some reason the producers are still entertaining the Yolanda story, which features her unwavering commitment to displaying total ignorance of British accents, despite the ability to pull up a two minute video on Youtube that would clarify this madness. Yolanda’s daughter notes that Williams appears to have a Nigerian name, address, phone number, accent, and passport, and the caps lock text he sent her reading, “HI I’M NIGERIAN” is a little suspicious. Yolanda is flummoxed, because he lives in Manchester and looks like an underwear model, and why would anyone lie about that? No one is this stupid. Stop it, 90DF. This makes Nicole’s insistence that Azan isn’t already married look convincing. Are there no actual relationships in the queue?
Later, she spends a few days trying to get a hold of him, before she receives an email threatening to release nudes she sent Williams if she doesn’t send money. Kinda like the money Williams asked her to send so he could travel to Vegas. Yolanda thinks this might be part of a rogue hacking operation, scouring the internet for instagram accounts to delete. She needs him to be real so desperately, and I’d feel sorry for her if this wasn’t already outed as an act, and I suspect she made up the email address herself and sent the threat to stretch out her screen time. Have we seen any relationship with Williams up until this point? Other than a string of heart emojis?
Finally, we’ve got Avery and Ash. They’re prepping for a three day trip to the other side of Australia, which Avery doesn’t see as a vacation, because she’s here to get answers about Ash, and you can’t possibly learn about someone by whether or not you’re capable of having fun with them.
“I have an opinion about this,” Erika interjects.
Avery is suspicious because of the shady behavior of Ash’s brother, who at dinner didn’t seem to support Ash’s statement about how easy it would be to take his child away from his mother to live in another country, permanently. Determined to not fall into the dicksand, Avery intends to confront him. They drive down into the country and Avery marvels at the beauty, before they stop in a pretty spot to have a picnic with Ash’s flower shop commitments on full display.
Ash: Yes, I am hearing you, and I am seeing you, and I think it’s good that you have words.
Avery: You’re giving me a rehearsed response. I think you’re sugarcoating the complexities of bringing Taj to America with you. Your brother didn’t seem convinced this would be as easy as you said.
Ash: This is communication, and it is open and honest and from a heart-centered place. I am confident that we can reach a positive outcome in these endeavors, if we continue to co-exist on this plane.
Avery: For fuck’s sake, I get that you’re trying to be positive, but living on planet earth means we’ve got to shovel some shit every once in awhile. Give me a truth bomb.
Ash: I’m afraid the complexity of this will cause you to bail, since you’ve previously dumped my ass. Also, here is some more jargon to plow over that rare moment of honesty, and to speed past the notion of what my ex-wife might have actually said about all this.
Avery: I need to talk to your ex-wife.
Ash: Oh damn.
Next week, Ed is shocked to learn that he’ll be sharing a room with another 54 year-old when he flew in for 19, David walks around Ukraine yelling Lana’s name and putting up missing-person posters, Ash is afraid of his ex-wife talking in plain English to Avery, and Erika is slowly wilting in the face of Stephanie’s highly developed control issues that already dominate their sexless union. Oh, and Darcey is flummoxed as to why Tom had to see her in person to humiliate her on TV, but she’s glad she got to wear that sick outfit, and for fuck’s sake will someone who actually wants to be in an instagram relationship hit her up and work out a hashtag with her already? Fuck!
Thank you, Patreon supporters, my lovely quarantine companions!
submitted by fractalfay to 90dayfianceuncensored [link] [comments]

I'mma head out

a abandon ability able abortion about above abroad absence absolute absolutely absorb abuse academic accept access accident accompany accomplish according account accurate accuse achieve achievement acid acknowledge acquire across act action active activist activity actor actress actual actually ad adapt add addition additional address adequate adjust adjustment administration administrator admire admission admit adolescent adopt adult advance advanced advantage adventure advertising advice advise adviser advocate affair affect afford afraid African African-American after afternoon again against age agency agenda agent aggressive ago agree agreement agricultural ah ahead aid aide AIDS aim air aircraft airline airport album alcohol alive all alliance allow ally almost alone along already also alter alternative although always AM amazing American among amount analysis analyst analyze ancient and anger angle angry animal anniversary announce annual another answer anticipate anxiety any anybody anymore anyone anything anyway anywhere apart apartment apparent apparently appeal appear appearance apple application apply appoint appointment appreciate approach appropriate approval approve approximately Arab architect area argue argument arise arm armed army around arrange arrangement arrest arrival arrive art article artist artistic as Asian aside ask asleep aspect assault assert assess assessment asset assign assignment assist assistance assistant associate association assume assumption assure at athlete athletic atmosphere attach attack attempt attend attention attitude attorney attract attractive attribute audience author authority auto available average avoid award aware awareness away awful baby back background bad badly bag bake balance ball ban band bank bar barely barrel barrier base baseball basic basically basis basket basketball bathroom battery battle be beach bean bear beat beautiful beauty because become bed bedroom beer before begin beginning behavior behind being belief believe bell belong below belt bench bend beneath benefit beside besides best bet better between beyond Bible big bike bill billion bind biological bird birth birthday bit bite black blade blame blanket blind block blood blow blue board boat body bomb bombing bond bone book boom boot border born borrow boss both bother bottle bottom boundary bowl box boy boyfriend brain branch brand bread break breakfast breast breath breathe brick bridge brief briefly bright brilliant bring British broad broken brother brown brush buck budget build building bullet bunch burden burn bury bus business busy but butter button buy buyer by cabin cabinet cable cake calculate call camera camp campaign campus can Canadian cancer candidate cap capability capable capacity capital captain capture car carbon card care career careful carefully carrier carry case cash cast cat catch category Catholic cause ceiling celebrate celebration celebrity cell center central century CEO ceremony certain certainly chain chair chairman challenge chamber champion championship chance change changing channel chapter character characteristic characterize charge charity chart chase cheap check cheek cheese chef chemical chest chicken chief child childhood Chinese chip chocolate choice cholesterol choose Christian Christmas church cigarette circle circumstance cite citizen city civil civilian claim class classic classroom clean clear clearly client climate climb clinic clinical clock close closely closer clothes clothing cloud club clue cluster coach coal coalition coast coat code coffee cognitive cold collapse colleague collect collection collective college colonial color column combination combine come comedy comfort comfortable command commander comment commercial commission commit commitment committee common communicate communication community company compare comparison compete competition competitive competitor complain complaint complete completely complex complicated component compose composition comprehensive computer concentrate concentration concept concern concerned concert conclude conclusion concrete condition conduct conference confidence confident confirm conflict confront confusion Congress congressional connect connection consciousness consensus consequence conservative consider considerable consideration consist consistent constant constantly constitute constitutional construct construction consultant consume consumer consumption contact contain container contemporary content contest context continue continued contract contrast contribute contribution control controversial controversy convention conventional conversation convert conviction convince cook cookie cooking cool cooperation cop cope copy core corn corner corporate corporation correct correspondent cost cotton couch could council counselor count counter country county couple courage course court cousin cover coverage cow crack craft crash crazy cream create creation creative creature credit crew crime criminal crisis criteria critic critical criticism criticize crop cross crowd crucial cry cultural culture cup curious current currently curriculum custom customer cut cycle dad daily damage dance danger dangerous dare dark darkness data date daughter day dead deal dealer dear death debate debt decade decide decision deck declare decline decrease deep deeply deer defeat defend defendant defense defensive deficit define definitely definition degree delay deliver delivery demand democracy Democrat democratic demonstrate demonstration deny department depend dependent depending depict depression depth deputy derive describe description desert deserve design designer desire desk desperate despite destroy destruction detail detailed detect determine develop developing development device devote dialogue die diet differ difference different differently difficult difficulty dig digital dimension dining dinner direct direction directly director dirt dirty disability disagree disappear disaster discipline discourse discover discovery discrimination discuss discussion disease dish dismiss disorder display dispute distance distant distinct distinction distinguish distribute distribution district diverse diversity divide division divorce DNA do doctor document dog domestic dominant dominate door double doubt down downtown dozen draft drag drama dramatic dramatically draw drawing dream dress drink drive driver drop drug dry due during dust duty each eager ear early earn earnings earth ease easily east eastern easy eat economic economics economist economy edge edition editor educate education educational educator effect effective effectively efficiency efficient effort egg eight either elderly elect election electric electricity electronic element elementary eliminate elite else elsewhere e-mail embrace emerge emergency emission emotion emotional emphasis emphasize employ employee employer employment empty enable encounter encourage end enemy energy enforcement engage engine engineer engineering English enhance enjoy enormous enough ensure enter enterprise entertainment entire entirely entrance entry environment environmental episode equal equally equipment era error escape especially essay essential essentially establish establishment estate estimate etc ethics ethnic European evaluate evaluation even evening event eventually ever every everybody everyday everyone everything everywhere evidence evolution evolve exact exactly examination examine example exceed excellent except exception exchange exciting executive exercise exhibit exhibition exist existence existing expand expansion expect expectation expense expensive experience experiment expert explain explanation explode explore explosion expose exposure express expression extend extension extensive extent external extra extraordinary extreme extremely eye fabric face facility fact factor factory faculty fade fail failure fair fairly faith fall false familiar family famous fan fantasy far farm farmer fashion fast fat fate father fault favor favorite fear feature federal fee feed feel feeling fellow female fence few fewer fiber fiction field fifteen fifth fifty fight fighter fighting figure file fill film final finally finance financial find finding fine finger finish fire firm first fish fishing fit fitness five fix flag flame flat flavor flee flesh flight float floor flow flower fly focus folk follow following food foot football for force foreign forest forever forget form formal formation former formula forth fortune forward found foundation founder four fourth frame framework free freedom freeze French frequency frequent frequently fresh friend friendly friendship from front fruit frustration fuel full fully fun function fund fundamental funding funeral funny furniture furthermore future gain galaxy gallery game gang gap garage garden garlic gas gate gather gay gaze gear gender gene general generally generate generation genetic gentleman gently German gesture get ghost giant gift gifted girl girlfriend give given glad glance glass global glove go goal God gold golden golf good government governor grab grade gradually graduate grain grand grandfather grandmother grant grass grave gray great greatest green grocery ground group grow growing growth guarantee guard guess guest guide guideline guilty gun guy habit habitat hair half hall hand handful handle hang happen happy hard hardly hat hate have he head headline headquarters health healthy hear hearing heart heat heaven heavily heavy heel height helicopter hell hello help helpful her here heritage hero herself hey hi hide high highlight highly highway hill him himself hip hire his historian historic historical history hit hold hole holiday holy home homeless honest honey honor hope horizon horror horse hospital host hot hotel hour house household housing how however huge human humor hundred hungry hunter hunting hurt husband hypothesis I ice idea ideal identification identify identity ie if ignore ill illegal illness illustrate image imagination imagine immediate immediately immigrant immigration impact implement implication imply importance important impose impossible impress impression impressive improve improvement in incentive incident include including income incorporate increase increased increasing increasingly incredible indeed independence independent index Indian indicate indication individual industrial industry infant infection inflation influence inform information ingredient initial initially initiative injury inner innocent inquiry inside insight insist inspire install instance instead institution institutional instruction instructor instrument insurance intellectual intelligence intend intense intensity intention interaction interest interested interesting internal international Internet interpret interpretation intervention interview into introduce introduction invasion invest investigate investigation investigator investment investor invite involve involved involvement Iraqi Irish iron Islamic island Israeli issue it Italian item its itself jacket jail Japanese jet Jew Jewish job join joint joke journal journalist journey joy judge judgment juice jump junior jury just justice justify keep key kick kid kill killer killing kind king kiss kitchen knee knife knock know knowledge lab label labor laboratory lack lady lake land landscape language lap large largely last late later Latin latter laugh launch law lawn lawsuit lawyer lay layer lead leader leadership leading leaf league lean learn learning least leather leave left leg legacy legal legend legislation legitimate lemon length less lesson let letter level liberal library license lie life lifestyle lifetime lift light like likely limit limitation limited line link lip list listen literally literary literature little live living load loan local locate location lock long long-term look loose lose loss lost lot lots loud love lovely lover low lower luck lucky lunch lung machine mad magazine mail main mainly maintain maintenance major majority make maker makeup male mall man manage management manager manner manufacturer manufacturing many map margin mark market marketing marriage married marry mask mass massive master match material math matter may maybe mayor me meal mean meaning meanwhile measure measurement meat mechanism media medical medication medicine medium meet meeting member membership memory mental mention menu mere merely mess message metal meter method Mexican middle might military milk million mind mine minister minor minority minute miracle mirror miss missile mission mistake mix mixture mm-hmm mode model moderate modern modest mom moment money monitor month mood moon moral more moreover morning mortgage most mostly mother motion motivation motor mount mountain mouse mouth move movement movie Mr Mrs Ms much multiple murder muscle museum music musical musician Muslim must mutual my myself mystery myth naked name narrative narrow nation national native natural naturally nature near nearby nearly necessarily necessary neck need negative negotiate negotiation neighbor neighborhood neither nerve nervous net network never nevertheless new newly news newspaper next nice night nine no nobody nod noise nomination none nonetheless nor normal normally north northern nose not note nothing notice notion novel now nowhere n't nuclear number numerous nurse nut object objective obligation observation observe observer obtain obvious obviously occasion occasionally occupation occupy occur ocean odd odds of off offense offensive offer office officer official often oh oil ok okay old Olympic on once one ongoing onion online only onto open opening operate operating operation operator opinion opponent opportunity oppose opposite opposition option or orange order ordinary organic organization organize orientation origin original originally other others otherwise ought our ourselves out outcome outside oven over overall overcome overlook owe own owner pace pack package page pain painful paint painter painting pair pale Palestinian palm pan panel pant paper parent park parking part participant participate participation particular particularly partly partner partnership party pass passage passenger passion past patch path patient pattern pause pay payment PC peace peak peer penalty people pepper per perceive percentage perception perfect perfectly perform performance perhaps period permanent permission permit person personal personality personally personnel perspective persuade pet phase phenomenon philosophy phone photo photograph photographer phrase physical physically physician piano pick picture pie piece pile pilot pine pink pipe pitch place plan plane planet planning plant plastic plate platform play player please pleasure plenty plot plus PM pocket poem poet poetry point pole police policy political politically politician politics poll pollution pool poor pop popular population porch port portion portrait portray pose position positive possess possibility possible possibly post pot potato potential potentially pound pour poverty powder power powerful practical practice pray prayer precisely predict prefer preference pregnancy pregnant preparation prepare prescription presence present presentation preserve president presidential press pressure pretend pretty prevent previous previously price pride priest primarily primary prime principal principle print prior priority prison prisoner privacy private probably problem procedure proceed process produce producer product production profession professional professor profile profit program progress project prominent promise promote prompt proof proper properly property proportion proposal propose proposed prosecutor prospect protect protection protein protest proud prove provide provider province provision psychological psychologist psychology public publication publicly publish publisher pull punishment purchase pure purpose pursue push put qualify quality quarter quarterback question quick quickly quiet quietly quit quite quote race racial radical radio rail rain raise range rank rapid rapidly rare rarely rate rather rating ratio raw reach react reaction read reader reading ready real reality realize really reason reasonable recall receive recent recently recipe recognition recognize recommend recommendation record recording recover recovery recruit red reduce reduction refer reference reflect reflection reform refugee refuse regard regarding regardless regime region regional register regular regularly regulate regulation reinforce reject relate relation relationship relative relatively relax release relevant relief religion religious rely remain remaining remarkable remember remind remote remove repeat repeatedly replace reply report reporter represent representation representative Republican reputation request require requirement research researcher resemble reservation resident resist resistance resolution resolve resort resource respect respond respondent response responsibility responsible rest restaurant restore restriction result retain retire retirement return reveal revenue review revolution rhythm rice rich rid ride rifle right ring rise risk river road rock role roll romantic roof room root rope rose rough roughly round route routine row rub rule run running rural rush Russian sacred sad safe safety sake salad salary sale sales salt same sample sanction sand satellite satisfaction satisfy sauce save saving say scale scandal scared scenario scene schedule scheme scholar scholarship school science scientific scientist scope score scream screen script sea search season seat second secret secretary section sector secure security see seed seek seem segment seize select selection self sell Senate senator send senior sense sensitive sentence separate sequence series serious seriously serve service session set setting settle settlement seven several severe sex sexual shade shadow shake shall shape share sharp she sheet shelf shell shelter shift shine ship shirt shit shock shoe shoot shooting shop shopping shore short shortly shot should shoulder shout show shower shrug shut sick side sigh sight sign signal significance significant significantly silence silent silver similar similarly simple simply sin since sing singer single sink sir sister sit site situation six size ski skill skin sky slave sleep slice slide slight slightly slip slow slowly small smart smell smile smoke smooth snap snow so so-called soccer social society soft software soil solar soldier solid solution solve some somebody somehow someone something sometimes somewhat somewhere son song soon sophisticated sorry sort soul sound soup source south southern Soviet space Spanish speak speaker special specialist species specific specifically speech speed spend spending spin spirit spiritual split spokesman sport spot spread spring square squeeze stability stable staff stage stair stake stand standard standing star stare start state statement station statistics status stay steady steal steel step stick still stir stock stomach stone stop storage store storm story straight strange stranger strategic strategy stream street strength strengthen stress stretch strike string strip stroke strong strongly structure struggle student studio study stuff stupid style subject submit subsequent substance substantial succeed success successful successfully such sudden suddenly sue suffer sufficient sugar suggest suggestion suicide suit summer summit sun super supply support supporter suppose supposed Supreme sure surely surface surgery surprise surprised surprising surprisingly surround survey survival survive survivor suspect sustain swear sweep sweet swim swing switch symbol symptom system table tablespoon tactic tail take tale talent talk tall tank tap tape target task taste tax taxpayer tea teach teacher teaching team tear teaspoon technical technique technology teen teenager telephone telescope television tell temperature temporary ten tend tendency tennis tension tent term terms terrible territory terror terrorism terrorist test testify testimony testing text than thank thanks that the theater their them theme themselves then theory therapy there therefore these they thick thin thing think thinking third thirty this those though thought thousand threat threaten three throat through throughout throw thus ticket tie tight time tiny tip tire tired tissue title to tobacco today toe together tomato tomorrow tone tongue tonight too tool tooth top topic toss total totally touch tough tour tourist tournament toward towards tower town toy trace track trade tradition traditional traffic tragedy trail train training transfer transform transformation transition translate transportation travel treat treatment treaty tree tremendous trend trial tribe trick trip troop trouble truck true truly trust truth try tube tunnel turn TV twelve twenty twice twin two type typical typically ugly ultimate ultimately unable uncle under undergo understand understanding unfortunately uniform union unique unit United universal universe university unknown unless unlike unlikely until unusual up upon upper urban urge us use used useful user usual usually utility vacation valley valuable value variable variation variety various vary vast vegetable vehicle venture version versus very vessel veteran via victim victory video view viewer village violate violation violence violent virtually virtue virus visible vision visit visitor visual vital voice volume volunteer vote voter vs vulnerable wage wait wake walk wall wander want war warm warn warning wash waste watch water wave way we weak wealth wealthy weapon wear weather wedding week weekend weekly weigh weight welcome welfare well west western wet what whatever wheel when whenever where whereas whether which while whisper white who whole whom whose why wide widely widespread wife wild will willing win wind window wine wing winner winter wipe wire wisdom wise wish with withdraw within without witness woman wonder wonderful wood wooden word work worker working works workshop world worried worry worth would wound wrap write writer writing wrong yard yeah year yell yellow yes yesterday yet yield you young your yours yourself youth zone
submitted by TastyUdders to OneWordBan [link] [comments]

Let’s Not Be a Drama Queen About This: Recap of Before the 90 Days, S04E07

Welcome to another recap of Before the 90 Days: The Season Where No One is Dating. First off, if you’re watching Geoffrey’s segment, your safe word is “orange”. If that doesn’t work, please lock yourself in a panic room and wait there until the Avengers arrive. If you hear one voice say, “No really, this is totally the Avengers” do not open the door. Or maybe just social-distance yourself from this whole fucking storyline, because we should not be observing this human stain.
Let’s turn our attention to prisoner of war Usman, busy filming a real life version of Get Out. You know it’s bad when the con artist seeking green card access to bolster a floundering hip hop career is the protagonist. I haven’t felt this awkward since last season of Vanderpump Rules when I was forced to defend James Kennedy. Anyway, Baby-Girl Lisa still hasn’t successfully harvested his essence to maintain control over the Dark Crystal, and Usman threatens to throw a wrench into her plans with a daring escape in the trunk of his friend’s car. Then he realizes he left his phone in the hotel room, and it’s got the lyrics to “Dabbing” on it, so he’s forced to return, to face Lisa losing the mind she never had.
She declares that he’s been absent for 30 minutes and she’s upset …which would have also been the case if he were gone for five minutes, or not at all, or if he went to the bathroom unsupervised, or put on his right shoe before his left one, or stood up too quickly or not fast enough. This time, Lisa’s argument is that she was “scared’ to be left alone (with producers in a hotel room). Annoyed with this never-ending wheel of complaint, Usman declares that he can’t win with her. Then BGL cuts him down with “Let’s not be a drama queen about this.” That’s right kids, all aboard the Gaslight Express, where the person reacting to the drama is the drama queen — not the person perpetually creating it. Would someone please take this man’s photo so he can restore his spirit to his body with the flash? GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!
She continues to stitch a verbal quilt of grievances, while noting how irrelevant Usman’s points are, and looking like she’s ready to start filming her episode of Intervention. Usman slowly realizes that Lisa is unlikely to have an adult conversation with his mother, let alone a respectful one, and he may not be able to salvage his Nigerian hip hop career, let alone forge one in the US of A. He goes outside and admits to the producers that he may have reached his breaking point, and would like to know if they have some kind of relocation program. This is not what Lisa expects from a prisoner, and she informs the producers that “the man who left here is not the man I abducted.”
Usman returns at 2AM to sit in an adjacent room and not talk to Lisa, making half of his wildest dreams come true. He lights up a hookah and considers how he has this “wonderful opportunity” to go to the states, and it might be too much to pretend to like Lisa long enough to get a green card. The producers ask him how he’s doing, and he says that anything he does is not enough, and before he can answer further BGL groans her way into the room.
“Nobody’s perfect. You need to make up your mind and make it up quick,” She declares, because that makes sense. He attempts to confront her, and states that he’s always respected her, and she insults him. And if it’s this bad in Nigeria, what’s it going to be like when she submerges him in preservative gel in the United States? “You’re very insecure about this relationship,” Lisa mumbles.
Usman says that yes, he is, that’s the truth. Then Lisa unfurls her scroll of half-assed excuses, including that the whole trip has been stressful, that there’s a five hour time difference, that she’s in this hotel room that bests the average Idaho haunt but is beneath her, and it’s a day of the week that ends in y, and he should know how she feels about that. Then she says she wants to “close it up” which is the closest Usman is going to get to an apology. For whatever reason, Usman decides that this will do, and later Lisa expresses concerns about returning to the US alone, and declares “ it will destroy both of us.” By this she means she’ll be forced to rework the plot into something that ends with her saucy finger, and will leak the unedited version of Usman’s “I Love You” video, because that’ll teach him.
Speaking of horror movies, let’s stop by Silence of the Lambs to visit Creepy Ed, who puts the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again. Rose has made the unfortunate mistake of returning to their shared hotel room, where he hands her a robe and tells her to take a bath, then forces champagne on her, and says he’s going to rub her feet. Note that he didn’t ask her if she was interested in any of these things. Ed considers this “showing how romantic he can be” while the rest of us call this “reasons to run out of the room with your shoes in your hand the minute he goes to the bathroom.” As she gets comfortable because he told her to, Big Nightmare declares he’s “staring at her feet and not her pajamas,” and I’m staring into the deep black abyss, hunting for a portal to escape this. Friends, this is it: the Most Cringe Scene in 90DF History. There’s not even any competition. This is the Citizen Kane of cringe.
“It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever its told,” Ed declares, with “Goodbye Horses” softly playing in the background.
“Please let me out,” Rose cries.
Since Rose is recoiling in a manner obvious to anyone who isn’t an incel, Ed seizes the opportunity to ask her for a kiss. She says on her cheek or the end of her fist after a wind up, whatever he prefers. He asks for “the middle” which she assumes means the forehead. He kisses her on the cheek, and then brow beats her into kissing him on the mouth. She gets it over with as quickly as possible, and Ed declares that it was “nice” and Jesus Christ, someone put a collar on this beast.
“Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me,” Ed explains (“Goodbye horses, I’m flying over you…”.)
“Is this called coercion in United States?” Rose asks.
“It puts the lotion in the fucking basket!”
The next morning it appears Rose has finally succumbed to his ridiculous advances, and seems cool with it. She declares a hatred for his under-the-bridge beard, and Ed notes that she has hairy legs, which he finds “gross,”and asks her to shave them to best match his blow-up doll ideal. This is rich coming from someone with a greasy mop of Clairol for Mayo dangling in his face. Soon I’ll kick off a GoFundMe to buy Rose a full-body merkin to insulate her lady flesh from Ed’s Rumpelstiltskin mitts. For now, she goes in for the shave and Ed ditches the beard, and I long for the Wookie days of yore.
Later he heads to Rose’s house to act like a goon around a larger audience. He takes a three hour cab ride to her village, where he is shocked to discover that the Philippines is like the Philippines. First he meets Rose’s son Prince, who initially seems confused, and then declares “daddy!” And embraces him. Big Ed isn’t sure how he feels about being a father again at 54, but he’s totally okay with dating a child. Ed is also uneasy about meeting Rose’s sister Maria, because she hit up Ed for cash. Once Maria meets Ed, she realizes she should have asked for more.
The family is waiting with a little surprise party, and Ed meets Rose’s other two sisters and a brother-in-law. When they ask what he thinks, he wants to know where the windows are, and if he should worry about getting rabies from wayward bats or cockroaches, because he’s heard both things are attracted to the scent of canola oil. Seriously: why can’t anyone on this show make a polite comment to the family except Angela? How hard is it to say, “Well I bet you have a great view of the stars!”
Rose’s family has a nice set of dishes arranged for dinner, including fish, chicken, rice, and the silky gravy of Ed’s back sweat. He asks for something to drink, while they marvel at the river running down his face, and we learn her father is running late because he’s busy at the pig farm, which also sounds suspiciously poor to Ed. When Father arrives he’s quiet, contemplating that his daughter is hoping to marry someone older than himself, who is pushing his food around his plate, and calling a chicken like a dog to feed it from the table. Rose’s father wants to know if Ed knows the difference between dinner and a dog, and then asks what Ed’s intentions are, other than getting on his damn nerves. Ed declares, “I want to get to know your daughter, no games.” Sure, Prince is already calling him “daddy,” but wouldn’t want to create strange expectations by suggesting marriage post-coitus, amirite?
Ed declares that now that he’s seen the depth of their poverty, he worries that he’s just a meal ticket to Rose, and not the man of her dreams, even though he’s after Rose for specific things himself. It’s important for her to love him like Rose loved Jack in the Titanic, even if Ed can’t draw anything and would demand to be the only body on that floating door, and she’s the only person to consider him king of any world.
Meanwhile, Tom continues his crusade to come off as a sympathetic character by making sad eyes from his good angle for the camera. As he pieces together one of his predictably boring outfits, he says he hopes they can have a conversation and attack the problem and not the person, but admits that he doesn’t care about attacking the person if the person is Darcey and not himself.
He situates himself to await her arrival, while Darcey enters the joint with a Beyoncé track in her head, and dumps her 16 changes of clothing on an unsuspecting hostess who has questions. Then she struts. Her. Shit. This is officially the first time Darcey has donned an outfit that isn’t from her signature Midlife Crisis line, and that jumpsuit is the fuck-you jam, and I want it for my next dramatic public fight with a future ex. She greets him as “Thomas” and passes on the affectionate greeting in favor of a handshake, before settling in for some gold medal passive aggression.
Tom: I’m nervous. Because I’m full of shit.
Darcey: No need. It’s just me. That’s called constipation, Tom.
Tom: How was Malta? If I had talked to you sometime in the last six weeks, I might know the answer to this question.
Darcey: It was nice to spend it with Stace. Thank you for the birthday…text. You said you were going to call or video call, I waited that whole day…but it’s okay. I know you’re a dick.
Tom: What actually happened to us? I’m going to act like what happened isn’t me going balls deep in another chick and bragging about it on instagram.
Darcey: I don’t know, but you must not know about me, you must not know about me. Should I say it twice? That’s kinda weird. It sounded better in my head.
Hannibal Lector: Cut him on the bias, Clarice. Serve him with a nice Chianti.
Tom goes on to say that she “was” this lovely woman, but has very specific things she wants, and she’s really not there for him, because she’s preoccupied with selecting the right filters for her twirling face-angle shots on instagram. He insists that Darcey never lets him talk during the conversations they don’t have, while a waiter with bad timing regrets his water glass decisions, and knows his tip is going to be bullshit. Darcey’s not having it, and knows he’s rerouting the events of the last six months to be about her doing something wrong, so she wants to know what his secret is, and talks to him in a soothing voice that is WAY more terrifying than mad Darcey.
“What do you want to hear?” Tom asks, because he’s still determined to make this about how out of control and unreasonable Darcey is, what with her fancy wanting interaction and silly expectations that he wouldn’t start another relationship before breaking it off with her.
“Tell her she’s insecure,” Baby Girl Lisa advises.
Darcey says she knows about the other woman he’s been posing with in stilted thigh-grab photographs, and Tom says that he met this person three weeks ago, and her name is Shannon, and he was hoping to get some exit sex. Since that doesn’t seem to be working out, he goes with, “I met someone who loves me the way I want to be loved. In three weeks.” Then what the fuck are you doing there, dude? He says, “You had everything of me in your hands, and you didn’t see it. And it was hard to listen to the Jesse thing all the time, when I was busy thinking about other people I planned to bang.” Since this isn’t already ridiculous enough, he says he’s not her notion of love, and that he loves her like a sister he wants to have sex with. Darcey thinks about what this means for her and Stacey, while Tom says he wants to be her friend.
Darcey nixes that bullshit, and says she doesn’t want to be friends. Then Tom tells her to “try not to ruin the next” relationship, and it’s easier to get through this scene if you imagine Tom has a diseased ballsack for a chin, which isn’t far off. He lets Darcey pay for his coffee, and continues throwing his Chex Mix on the floor by saying it’s a weight off of him, and when Darcey tells him to enjoy his life, he responds, “I will now that you’re not in it.” That twice a year interaction was really bringing him down before.
Tom tells the producers that he showed up to see if anything was still there, and because he wanted to be on camera one more time, and because he wanted to have sex with Darcey’s smother-titties before returning to the safety of Shannon’s thigh. Darcey is over this shit, and is ready to watch the baseball bat video with Beyoncé is a yellow dress, breaking stuff.
It’s time to revisit the platonic romantic relationship of Erika and Stephanie. As she stated last week, Stephanie is “waiting” to have sex until she’s actually bisexual, so Erika should start checking out social-distancing hers and hers nursing homes right now. Erika got to know Stephanie as someone with a risqué, fun, and sexual online persona, and she incorrectly assumed that Stephanie would clue her in if her real self didn’t match that presentation. With this in mind, Erika is certain Steph will love her big date surprise: a little artsy neon-lit joint where the last Rockabilly chick in an updo coaches women through the wet wrap construction of boob molds! Is this a thing so one day they can look back fondly on the time their tits weren’t smacking against their knees, or to create a decorative dinner mint container? I want to surprise a friend who will hate me afterwards with this, or arrive with just my cat and wide eyes and my own set of decorative paints. Or maybe I will wake up my partner tomorrow by hovering over him with a jar of plaster while whispering, “it’s time to preserve me.”
Stephanie doesn’t like this because she is wrong, and this is her first time seeing her own breasts outside of the internet. So she sits there awkwardly while everyone has their guns out for a showdown at the double-d corral, wondering why the fuck Erika didn’t see fit to, you know, ask if she wanted to have her tits in the air. All snark aside, I’m siding with Stephanie on this one. Choosing to explore the wonders of titty molds is one thing; arriving at a surprise titty shakedown is another, especially when this doubles as the debut fondling experiment. Something tells me Erika was hoping this would lead to The Sex. This is very Ed of you, Erika. But your fried egg overalls are still amazing.
Anyway, Stephanie decides to play along, and shakes the boxes of medication out of her bra to brace for breast spackle. The other titty sisters preserving their boobage opt to engage, which they will soon regret, and they ask about their relationship, and whether one of them intends to relocate to keep their romance warm. Stephanie, who is pissed off enough that she’s looking for anything to inspire grenade lobbing at Erika, says that she doesn’t think it will last very long if they’re not in the same place. Erika reminds her that she’s a photographer, and already has weddings booked that she needs to complete before moving to another country. Plus, she hears there’s a great plague coming that will leave us all under house arrest indefinitely. Also: it’s day 2. Maybe slow down on a borderline ultimatum. Erika then expresses confusion that on one hand Stephanie is very eager for their relationship to be set in stone, and on the other doesn’t want to have sex with her when they’re working with a tight three-week timeline.
“Is this coercion?” Rosemarie asks.
“Sort of,” Erika reluctantly admits. “I’m hoping it won’t count because I’m bisexual.”
“Still creepy though, and I KNOW creepy,” Ed is there with the confirmation.
Later on they ready themselves for a date, which is really a set-up so Stephanie can interrogate Erika about having a dating app on her phone. Other people would, you know, ask about the app the minute it was spotted, but the cameras weren’t there and this storyline needs Stephanie’s extensions.
Stephanie kicks things off by stating her intentions to take Erika to a nice dinner, and gives Erika a cute tiara headband thing to wear on their date. Once they’ve settled into their table and the thought of romance has dared to enter Erika’s head, Stephanie brings up the “boobie papier mache” and thinks a lot of people get the wrong impression of her, based on what she’s shown and told them. Then Steph demands to know what’s up with the app, and if Erika’s dated anyone else in the four months they’ve been thousands of miles apart. Erika says that she hasn’t and isn’t, but keeps it going for the networking side of things, and by networking she means dicks and vaginas under glass, which are useful in event of emergency.
Stephanie asks if she’d be open to deleting it, so Erika does it, but is annoyed that Stephanie doesn’t trust her and this action is required, and she hasn’t even had any swindle cake yet. Stephanie says the app just makes her uncomfortable, to which an exasperated Erika declares, “Everything makes you uncomfortable!” She says that Steph sold herself as free spirited and then arrived operating with the assumption that presents grant her the right to control her. 87% of the 90DF cast is miffed by this suggestion, and so is Stephanie. Erika takes off Stephanie’s tiara mind control device and storms off, and we get a good look at the extension cords and a sad drain on the floor when they chase after Erika while Stephanie fake cries at the table.
For some reason the producers are still entertaining the Yolanda story, which features her unwavering commitment to displaying total ignorance of British accents, despite the ability to pull up a two minute video on Youtube that would clarify this madness. Yolanda’s daughter notes that Williams appears to have a Nigerian name, address, phone number, accent, and passport, and the caps lock text he sent her reading, “HI I’M NIGERIAN” is a little suspicious. Yolanda is flummoxed, because he lives in Manchester and looks like an underwear model, and why would anyone lie about that? No one is this stupid. Stop it, 90DF. This makes Nicole’s insistence that Azan isn’t already married look convincing. Are there no actual relationships in the queue?
Later, she spends a few days trying to get a hold of him, before she receives an email threatening to release nudes she sent Williams if she doesn’t send money. Kinda like the money Williams asked her to send so he could travel to Vegas. Yolanda thinks this might be part of a rogue hacking operation, scouring the internet for instagram accounts to delete. She needs him to be real so desperately, and I’d feel sorry for her if this wasn’t already outed as an act, and I suspect she made up the email address herself and sent the threat to stretch out her screen time. Have we seen any relationship with Williams up until this point? Other than a string of heart emojis?
Finally, we’ve got Avery and Ash. They’re prepping for a three day trip to the other side of Australia, which Avery doesn’t see as a vacation, because she’s here to get answers about Ash, and you can’t possibly learn about someone by whether or not you’re capable of having fun with them.
“I have an opinion about this,” Erika interjects.
Avery is suspicious because of the shady behavior of Ash’s brother, who at dinner didn’t seem to support Ash’s statement about how easy it would be to take his child away from his mother to live in another country, permanently. Determined to not fall into the dicksand, Avery intends to confront him. They drive down into the country and Avery marvels at the beauty, before they stop in a pretty spot to have a picnic with Ash’s flower shop commitments on full display.
Ash: Yes, I am hearing you, and I am seeing you, and I think it’s good that you have words.
Avery: You’re giving me a rehearsed response. I think you’re sugarcoating the complexities of bringing Taj to America with you. Your brother didn’t seem convinced this would be as easy as you said.
Ash: This is communication, and it is open and honest and from a heart-centered place. I am confident that we can reach a positive outcome in these endeavors, if we continue to co-exist on this plane.
Avery: For fuck’s sake, I get that you’re trying to be positive, but living on planet earth means we’ve got to shovel some shit every once in awhile. Give me a truth bomb.
Ash: I’m afraid the complexity of this will cause you to bail, since you’ve previously dumped my ass. Also, here is some more jargon to plow over that rare moment of honesty, and to speed past the notion of what my ex-wife might have actually said about all this.
Avery: I need to talk to your ex-wife.
Ash: Oh damn.
Next week, Ed is shocked to learn that he’ll be sharing a room with another 54 year-old when he flew in for 19, David walks around Ukraine yelling Lana’s name and putting up missing-person posters, Ash is afraid of his ex-wife talking in plain English to Avery, and Erika is slowly wilting in the face of Stephanie’s highly developed control issues that already dominate their sexless union. Oh, and Darcey is flummoxed as to why Tom had to see her in person to humiliate her on TV, but she’s glad she got to wear that sick outfit, and for fuck’s sake will someone who actually wants to be in an instagram relationship hit her up and work out a hashtag with her already? Fuck!
Thank you, Patreon supporters, my lovely quarantine companions!
submitted by fractalfay to 90DayFiance [link] [comments]

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - You Had To Be There

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: You Had To Be There

Warning: I’m going to be committing murder in this essay, as I will be explaining a joke and that inevitably kills them. However, this is for the further advancement of science, so I hope I will be forgiven.
If you want to start an argument, whisper, “Broadcast order is best” in a room of veteran anime fans. They’ll know what you mean. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Along with the franchise’s penchant for self-commentary and general disregard for the viewer's comfort, its lack of order is usually taken as evidence that it was done just to mess with our heads. And it was… with neurosurgical precision.
Haruhi S1 is the most delightfully clever series I have ever seen, a cleverness that I suspect springs from inspired necessity. Like many adaptations, the staff could only fit so much from the light novel source. While including the “Melancholy” volume was natural, being the introductory segment, it’s worth only six episodes of content. What to do with the other eight broadcast slots? Curiously, rather than utilizing “Sigh” (the next volume), the rest of the episodes are plucked from different volumes then inserted throughout[1] :
Broadcast = Chronological 1 = 11 (Adventures of Asahina Mikuru) 2 = 1 (Melancholy 1) 3 = 2 (Melancholy 2) 4 = 7 (Baseball) 5 = 3 (Melancholy 3) 6 = 9 (Island 1) 7 = 8 (Missing computer club prez) 8 = 10 (Island 2) 9 = 14 ("Final" episode) 10 = 4 (Melancholy 4) 11 = 13 (The Legend of the Nagato Heroes) 12 = 12 (School festival, concert) 13 = 5 (Melancholy 5) 14 = 6 (Melancholy 6)
This may seem random, but notice that despite all the jumping around, the six Melancholy episodes remain sequential, spaced throughout the season, with an emphasis on the beginning and end as we’d expect from a progressing plot. Furthermore, this unorthodox structure has a purpose, and that it is the “inspired” part of “inspired necessity.” Haruhi is a mystery, a mystery that guides an adapting, self-aware joke. If I had to describe its method it would be to create expectations, know that it’s created those expectations, know that we know that it’s created those expectations, show us that it knows that we know that it knows that it’s created those expectations… and then stay one step ahead to make it all work anyway. Allow me to enthusiastically demonstrate.

The Setup

1 = 11 (Adventures of Asahina Mikuru) 2 = 1 (Melancholy 1) 3 = 2 (Melancholy 2)
Nagato: “Suzumiya Haruhi and I are not ordinary humans.” Kyon: “I kind of knew that already.” Nagato: “That is not what I mean… In more common terminology, I would be classified as an alien.”
It was at this moment Kyon realized his understanding of the situation had gone seriously awry. As did we. This is not a conversation “either” of us thought was possible. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Starting at the beginning is what normally makes sense.
The Adventures of Asahina Mikuru is a prank, and a brilliant one at that. You may think I’m referring to its candid introduction of the cast, hiding everything by hiding nothing, all while thumbing its nose at us because we don’t yet know what we’re in for. That’s true and worth a chuckle later on; you might even have an inkling of this yourself as you watch it. If so, all the better, even. Like so many aspects of this show it can stand on its own as a gag, but it’s also the setup for a much bigger question:
What is Haruhi trying to do?
Sure, it might be funny to to subject us to a few minutes of this farce, but twenty-two minutes and seventeen seconds of it? This is so excessive that it demands an answer… we uncomfortably don’t have. What sort of series does this? What’s worse, everything about the episode is subtly contradictory. The poor cinematography belies an expert recreation of poor cinematography as filmed through a camcorder. We unthinkingly accept the glaring holes as part of its ridiculousness, yet our attention is directed relentlessly to discrepancies big and small as though we ought to be looking for consistent story. Then, oddly, when extremely unusual things do happen sometimes it explains them, sometimes it doesn’t. And what about the people? They’re all poor actors, so are we supposed to be bothered by their failure to live up to their roles or ignore that too? Like Kyon, our longsuffering representative in this misadventure, all we can do is keep trying explanations and hope they stick, unsure if it matters at all. By the time Suzumiya turns to address us at the end, not only has carefully watching not answered anything, it has actually left us less sure what is signal and what is noise.
Now having been mildly confused, mistreated, and mocked (you wanna tell me you didn’t catch yourself staring too?) the series begins “in earnest”: a standard case of a jaded, low-energy male protagonist being dragged around by an eccentric, hyperactive female who instigates wacky adventures for her and her merry friends, all the while peppering in obvious self-referential comments that make us smart for noticing them. Now it clicks into place. Haruhi is a comedy, one that is making fun of all the other series in the genre while being a joke itself. The opening movie was just a good, sharp kick in the shin to show off just how funny and different it is.
...except so far it’s not funny like it’s supposed to be. Sure Kyon keeps up his observations of the weirdos around him, observations that are our own but better said, but Suzumiya herself is legitimately awful to people. The light-hearted music plays and it fits all the tropes, but Asahina’s reaction to being groped and publicly humiliated is discomfitingly not that of a comedic side character. And what’s Nagato up to? Rather than being the bookishly shy-but-sweet girl she’s remained sitting in the corner, an unreadable lump with no personality in sight. If possible, everybody is playing their roles even worse than in the movie.
Moreover, strange things are afoot at the Circle K. It’s nothing we can take to court, but Suzumiya keeps getting her way in the oddest of situations. Random lots gives her the coveted back left corner, with Kyon in easy grabbing distance. Stereotypically the literature club is low on members, and the sole remaining occupant allows her to use the space despite being a patent hermit. She wants a timid, cutesy mascot, and not only does she locate a perfect specimen, Asahina even chooses to stay despite the mistreatment. Are these just contrivances of the genre or are we supposed to question what they mean (...and did she just read our thoughts)?
Which brings us at last back to Nagato’s apartment. When she tells Kyon that she’s an alien we’ve reached a critical mass of uncertainty. It’s not just that we don’t know whether she is telling the truth. That’s not the real suspense that has been building, although we’ve been given conflicting information on this too[2] . It’s that we don’t know whether we should be wondering it. Is it even possible? Aliens belong in certain shows, delusional high school girls in others. But what type are we in?
And Haruhi stares back at us through Nagato’s indecipherable face, playing it straight. It anticipated out first (mis)understanding (“That is not what I mean”) and it knows we want the answer as to what it’s up to. But as the episode ends, it’s not giving any more hints.

Payoffs and Playoffs

4 = 7 (Baseball) 5 = 3 (Melancholy 3)
Now time for baseball! This is… not what was expected. Although not entirely unexpected either, because if its earlier actions weren’t enough to convince us we can be pretty sure now Haruhi must be going for random nonsequitur. To not explain itself before moving on seems like just the sort of trick it would pull. It even keeps stringing us along with more strange coincidences, more indecipherable references, more cases of Nagato being weird-but-not-indisputably-alien-weird (which is a great visual gag, I might add)… but something is different.
Kyon: “Hey Nagato. Could you make it rain on the day of the game?”
Kyon, our faithful narrator, has changed his mind; he knows something we don’t. Or does he? Nagato immediately gives him a reason why she won’t do it, so maybe she’s just a dedicated roleplayer and he’s decided to humor her after their meeting. He knew she’d turn him down. ...maybe? We still can’t identify what a “tell” is in this show; how can we when it’s sending signals that are random, discomforting, and funny too? And it just keeps getting weirder, with references to the end of the world piling up and odd flashbacks that we cannot verify. Then the killing blow:
Nagato: “This [bat] has been modified with a boost in attribute data.”
With the ball flying far out over the field, we now have confirmation: there is something supernatural going on in this series. The rest of it could be explained away, but not this. But here’s the kicker:
“There’s a limit to ridiculousness.”
Haruhi knows it. It knew precisely up to the point that we would be doubtful and what kind of information we’d accept to make our decision. We didn’t figure it out; we were told. Haruhi played us, making us think our resolution with Nagato was on hold, only to pitch it to us here. Speaking of which….
We’re now returned to our regularly scheduled programming. The atmosphere, which before was merely suggestive, has become kaleidoscopic, the subtle hints exploding into a welter of visuals that let us know we’re not in Kansas anymore. But that’s the funny thing: we don’t need it. We’re already convinced. This is almost like Haruhi is rubbing it in our face that it was here the whole time and we didn’t bother to notice until now. It was also the moment when I fell in love with the series:
Nagato: “[Suzumiya] won’t take the data you feed her seriously.” Kyon: “You have a point.”
I had to pause the video and laugh until my jaw hurt. I know it’s quixotic to hope to convey comedy, but this was truly one of the most hilarious moments I have ever experienced in anime. In anything. Like all the gags in this show, it’s worth at least a chuckle on its own, a small denigration of Suzumiya’s nature that we can smugly agree with. But that’s the lesser portion. It’s the moment when this entire build up reflects back on itself holographically. A character, who is being told the truth but doesn’t accept it, is disparaging another who would do the same, while functioning as our stand-in, the audience who was skeptical about what Haruhi was telling us, in both cases because we “knew” what world we were in, caught in the act of confidently agreeing with his/our assessment of the foolishness of people who don’t listen to what they’re told. It is in that sudden snag, that snap of dissociation that proves not only that Kyon is an unreliable narrator, but that we are as well, that the waveform collapses in a moment of perfect comedic timing.

The Island: We Won’t Be Fooled Again

6 = 9 (Island 1) 7 = 8 (Missing computer club prez) 8 = 10 (Island 2)
With this "reveal" that we’re actually in a supernatural random-discomforting-comedy the first arc ends and the second begins. Yet curiously little was resolved. Nagato has demonstrated herself in the way we accept but the other two club members have been less forthcoming with evidence; it’s all and special circumstances for using powers. Are they really what they say they are? This series could really go either way, but they’re probably both special. Probably.
But the central issue is Suzumiya. Despite all the warnings and hints, we don’t actually know how to spot her powers at work. Apparently she’s omnipotent, but we have only the characters’ word to take for that. That’s fishy. It’s one thing to accept Nagato can bewitch sports equipment, it’s another that Suzumiya can destroy the universe because of a bad mood. And we have no way to prove that all these coincidences are actually Suzumiya’s fault, especially since things don’t always go her way. We need more data, and on cue is our mystery scenario:
Koizumi: “[Situations like this] only exist in the unrealistic world of storytelling.”
Haruhi isn’t going to insult our intelligence by trying to hide it a second time. It comes clean up front in an overstated self-referential dialogue: the only way these sorts of things happen is if they’re rigged. Come on, we can’t miss it; this is the confirmation we wanted, right? Even though it’s not quite what Suzumiya dreamed of, it’s close enough to her fantasy that it’s clear she’s the culprit. Besides, who else could summon a typhoon from clear skies?
The murder, however, was not expected. Sure there was mention of the apocalypse, but this has all been too flippant to take seriously; random and discomforting aren’t the same as dark. Haruhi wouldn’t kill somebody… would it? It’s the same conundrum as before with Nagato. We’re faced with a “confession” of sorts, with evidence leaning both ways, and as we wrack our brains we can’t quite convince ourselves after all its antics that Haruhi isn’t that sort of show. Maybe it’s just pretending to be dark. Maybe it’s not. Maybe Suzumiya will bring Keiichi back to life or rewrite time or… something. Who knows what she, or this show, can do, now that we’ve accepted her power. We’ll just have to find out next episode.

And now time for giant digital cave crickets! Not only is it the same problem as in episode three, it’s the same low-blow trick to yank us away from the action just at the height of the tension. But we know this song and dance (or, rather, maybe we do in retrospect; I didn’t know it at the time). The last “random” episode was informational, meaning this one likely is as well. So, what does this episode have to say?
Well, to put it briefly, it’s a mystery that is actually an engineered scenario. At first we assume it’s Suzumiya’s fault, because everything is, but as she points out: if she does everything then what’s the purpose of the rest of the cast? The real culprit is somebody else, somebody completely obvious in her driving of the events and in the middle of all the action, someone who had even taken the opportunity to deflect a bored god’s enthusiasm with the scent of the unknown. Just because it slightly involved Suzumiya’s powers, that wasn’t the real story (she was hellbent on pursuing her own wrong theory anyway; what an idiot).
I’m pretty sure I don’t have to spell out the obvious, since reading this far without having seen the series would be daft. Haruhi is taunting us. Just because the venue changed, the mystery never stopped; the indications are everywhere in this series, and it is even so kind as to repeatedly correct our key misunderstanding. Yet despite its valiant efforts, we’re more liable to be distracted by the crazy supernatural events, and so entirely reinforced in our faith that the murder scenario is supernatural too. No wonder Koizumi didn’t worry about Kyon catching his drift.
The island isn’t done with us, though. Not by a long shot. Having given us innumerable clues (again) Haruhi lets us try to put it together (again) while we nonetheless remain remarkably confident (again). Why do we fall for it (again)? Because, as always, we think we have the right answer. Or, rather, the right framework. The real secret here is Suzumiya’s powers, not these pedestrian goings on. We’ll spare a thought for the murderer, of course, but having established the ultimate cause in our minds we are not overly concerned about the details; gods, if they want to kill somebody, will find a way. What’s preoccupying us is how to make all these events make sense in our theory (and patronizing Suzumiya’s ignorance… again).
Again, everybody here knows the resolution, but I just wanted to remind how utterly delightful our own self-misleading can be. The only way we were fooled was if we obediently learned the wrong lesson from the first arc. Before we discounted signs of the supernatural because we didn’t think they fit; now that we know they fit, that’s all we could see. In fact, even when they didn’t fit we made them; did Suzumiya’s face really look like she was guilty? No, she was horrified and distraught, and told us outright that she didn’t actually think anything bad would happen. Haruhi would never kill somebody out of boredom. In spite of this, we chose her as the culprit because the evidence to the contrary was just too mundane to make note of in this supernatural random-discomforting-meta-comedy (and we don’t like her very much either).
Meanwhile, it was Suzumiya who assiduously paid attention to the facts in front of her, and who was able to realize she was in a three level mystery: that there was an “apparent” truth (normal island / murder), a “false” truth that acts as a red herring (supernatural island / accidental door murder), and a real truth hiding at the bottom (it was all a play with a purpose, just like we were told at the start). We’re the ones who can’t seem to solve the mysteries staring us in the face. Of course, it’d be too embarrassing to admit that, so we’ll retreat to reminding ourselves how annoyingly self-absorbed she still is, and that we weren’t that clueless (be honest, you said the same thing). Haruhi even lets us keep our dignity by pretending we were helpful. snerk
At this point I’m reminded of a short quip from a previous episode: if Haruhi can only throw straight, then eventually even a child would catch on. We knew Haruhi was trying to get a ball by us but accepted the soft-pitched, and painfully obvious, metacommentary anyway. That it had the confidence to even signal (loudly and repeatedly) before actually throwing a curveball means it thought we never had any hope of hitting it in the first place. We can gripe that it wasn’t clear, but what’s the point of a mystery if it tells you what the clues mean?
Oh, and since it knows we weren’t really paying attention, Haruhi will even give us one last hint: what about that unidentified shadow that led them toward the cave? We thought the mystery was over, but maybe that’s because we never grasped what it was about.

The Final Akanbe

9 = 14 ("Final" episode)
“The SOS Brigade keeps getting caught up in various incidents… Even so, we couldn’t possibly run into situations like that every single day.”
This is it, the final episode… of sorts. It begins before the OP with a tranquil atmosphere, looking forward to the coming winter while happily reminiscing about the past. It’s all so homey. Time for us to kick back, relax, and enjoy one last healing round with our favorite characters...
Yeah, right.
There is no way that this is all there is to the episode. “Unusually cold day”? What’s the setup this time? Is Suzumiya going to accidentally cause winter to come early? Or is it Asahina’s turn to do something sneaky and leave Kyon forlorn? As the OP ends our eyes are peeled for what’s going to jump out next. The camera thoughtfully obliges us: a wide-angle that keeps the whole room in view, missing nothing, followed by God’s-eye perspectives, letting us linger over every detail (taking bets you paused it at least once, probably on the card game). It drags on in eerie inaction until Kyon startles and looks up (does the sun mean something?!?), as though he had just remembered that an episode was supposed to happen. The regular music comfortingly begins to play and he narrates for us as he always has:
“It sure is nice and quiet when Haruhi isn’t around. But I guess it’s a little too quiet, huh? Now that I think about it, it’s already been half a year since I met everyone. We’ve sure been through a lot. Situations where Haruhi was the instigator and a few where she wasn’t. Well, most of them started when we were kicking back and relaxing in the clubroom like so only to be interrupted by her barging in…” SLAM
Remember those times where we weren’t sure if something was going on? Where we were misled by our own expectations, hung up on whether something supernatural was happening (or not), and so overlooked important details? Well, Haruhi Farm remembers; they were great. The series might act like nothing is up, but suspiciously on cue Suzumiya bursts in the door. Something is always up, no matter what the opening told us, and after missing twice we’re intent on not striking out with a third failure. Besides, with more than half the series complete we’re beginning to notice the cross-references and double-meanings. We’re getting it now.
And this is how the episode mocks us relentlessly for twenty minutes, because nothing happens.
Of course, this doesn’t stop us from trying to find it happening. Kyon pauses in his walk down the hill and we hold our breath… but it’s only to idly wonder what Suzumiya is doing. Koizumi’s tea has gotten cold, nothing more. But, wait, calling Asahina a mascot character is self-aware! It’s just enough to keep us going. Just enough to convince us to sit and listen to four minutes and twenty two seconds of inane radio chatter hoping to find relevance in the words. It even does it to us a second time, and we’re prepared to listen all over again… before Tsuruya interrupts. Then it checks if we’ll do it a third time. Yep, we will. And we think we’re rewarded for our persistence: Nagato finally stands up, validating our efforts… only for the screen to go black. We were waiting for nothing.
But really, we should have known this. Did we really think we’d see Asahina in the buff? No? How about again? And again? It doesn’t even seem to matter whether we know we’re being tricked, we’ll still fall for it at least three times (first arc, second arc, and now here). And to top it off, not only can Haruhi get us to do whatever it wants, we’ll even think ourselves clever when we’re forced to notice it.
In the last few minutes, though, something does happen: Suzumiya likes Kyon. We probably already guessed this given the previous indications, or at least the tropes; the manic pixie dream girl is legally required to like the male protagonist, and even if Suzumiya is more “manic” than “dream girl,” it’s still obvious that’s her role. We won’t begrudge the scene though; it’s nice to have solid confirmation of anything in this series, after all. But don’t hope for too much, because Suzumiya will be Suzumiya. Like the last football pulled out from in front of us as we go to kick, she prances away with the umbrella and ruins any romantic tension that might have existed. After the rest of this episode, the rest of this series, did we really expect anything else?
Strike three.

God Knows How Much She Tries

10 = 4 (Melancholy 4) 11 = 13 (The Legend of the Nagato Heroes) 12 = 12 (School festival, concert)
Before continuing, a brief recap is in order (everybody likes recap episodes, right?). Bemused by the first episode, we were left off balance and so open to questioning what this series was about. The first few episodes carefully maintained this uncertainty, counting on then cashing in our wariness. The island arc demonstrated that it didn’t matter if we were aware of it, we could still miss the obvious because we thought we already knew the answer. Having been fooled repeatedly, we accepted what the final episode “told” us without question: this series is absurd, Haruhi sticking its tongue out at us until the last second.
“Perhaps Suzumiya is feeling lovesick?”
As Ryoko speaks this line at the beginning of Melancholy 4, it seems a bit… unnecessary. Yes, of course, we already know this. We just saw it last episode; like any good tsundere, Suzumiya is humorously enamored to Kyon but almost pathologically unable to express her feelings. Watching her deny it while occasionally being caught in the act is part of the entertainment. But Haruhi likes commenting on itself, and we like noticing it, so why not?[3]
At this point in the essay, I hope the reader has some inkling that we’re being set up. Have been set up all along. We’ve been allowed to think we know Suzumiya: she’s a thoughtless, obnoxious character who, despite being putatively intelligent, is comically delusional. Her feelings for Kyon are just part of this silly contrivance. Similarly, we think we know Haruhi. Like its titular character, it has been, and will be, one big (absurdist supernatural random-discomforting-meta) joke, and as Suzumiya walks on stage in her now-familiar bunny suit we can only groan at what is coming. “What foolishness has she cooked up this time,” we murmur amongst ourselves. Meanwhile she works steadily, solemnly, ignoring us and making sure everything is ready, before beginning...

…!

It is the greatest, most heartfelt “prank” of the series: Suzumiya was a serious character all along. All it took was a disagreeable nature and funny appearances for us to not notice. We truly are bad at this. But now, like the beginning movie whose effect could not be faked without being followed through, there is no way to counterfeit the gorgeous animation or mistake the passion and personality of her song. Knowing so well how to toy with us, Haruhi knows how to prove itself too. The audience is stunned into silence, mouths hanging open in disbelief at having their expectations defied so spectacularly.
But what I find truly arresting, touching even, about this scene is how it encapsulates Suzumiya at her best, a reflection of her life hidden in plain sight. From the first moment she was on stage, relentlessly expressing herself at maximum volume even though people didn’t understand. It was always a failure of having the right context. People already “knew” what her behaviors meant, and interpreted her accordingly (sound familiar?). So even as she explains herself (“I run through [life] with a thirsting heart”), her frustrated regrets (“I’m sorry I… couldn’t even share your pain / You wouldn’t let me”) and her fondest dream-memory (“You were there, I was there, and everyone else had vanished”) the audience is none the wiser for it. Except one. Kyon, our stand-in, at last has the wits to stare dumbfounded at this remarkable girl he had missed all along.
When she is done, Suzumiya looks up as though waking from a trance, surprised to see everybody cheering. She was so absorbed by her own intensity she wasn’t even watching them. Now, even though they don’t understand, they do appreciate. She’s not used to being appreciated. An exhausted, joyous smile spreads across her face and she turns to the camera to let us know it. It’s the most tender expression she’s had all series. True she’s often grinning, but to see her like this it makes you realize that she’s not as often happy. This has been a window into her, a character that, like so many things, we didn’t pay attention to until we could no longer ignore.
Koizumi: “Suzumiya is quite good, isn’t she?”

The Disappointment of Haruhi Suzumiya

13 = 5 (Melancholy 5) 14 = 6 (Melancholy 6)
“Say… have you ever realized how insignificant your existence is on this planet? I have. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Suzumiya has fantastic back muscles. It isn’t apparent until you get a clear look at them, covered as they normally are by a school outfit. She has a good body, fit and taught like a strung bow, poised for action. She isn’t ashamed of it. But like so many things about her, it’s not quite the body people are looking for.
There are clues scattered throughout the series which only now become obvious. No matter the physical challenge, Suzumiya was there to meet it. Mentally it was the same. School isn’t an obstacle, she’s unusually perceptive, and her apparently-spontaneous schemes are actually quite well-planned and effective. If this were not enough, she possesses nearly unlimited energy, enough to run everybody else ragged, and a strong will to direct and utilize these impressive gifts. All of this was taken to be part of her caricature (what kind of show are we in again?) or covered by our own griping about her personality (because this was all about us), but the evidence was always there: Suzumiya is an exceptional human being in nearly every regard.
This is why she’s on the lookout for the unusual. She’s on a mission. Normal life and normal people leave her unfulfilled so she dreams of something more; that she jettisoned the supernatural club as fast as anything else proves it’s not conspiracies that she believes in (she’s too smart for that, ironically), it’s a more interesting world. People think she’s behind when in truth she’s lapped them.
And she never turned down a boyfriend. Suzumiya, against her fervent objections, is stuck being a healthy young female. She’s a bit of a romantic and is desperate to find that one person who will make her feel loved for being the vivacious, but tempestuous, girl that she is. She wants somebody to share her vision with more than she wants aliens, and keeps trying despite the unrelenting failures. Now she’s fallen for Kyon, the guy she dearly wishes to rely on, and doesn’t know what to do when he doesn’t reciprocate (“I’m sorry I… couldn’t even share your pain / You wouldn’t let me”). She’s scared he’ll let her down too[4] , afraid that he’ll never take her seriously, and angry when he expresses the self-satisfied mediocrity that causes her to disdain everybody else.
Disdain. This has been her greatest failing. Suzumiya is not unaware of how to be considerate, nor is she so lacking in self control that she cannot be civil when she wishes. It's that she chooses not to be, contemptuous of empty social norms, impatient with complacency, and scornful of how everybody has misunderstood her. In time she has come to value them not at all, becoming a disruptive and uncouth caricature of herself in the process. Suzumiya is genuinely eccentric, yes, but her own act has run away with her and although everything about her behavior radiates a denigration of humanity, Suzumiya is still begging for their appreciation and acceptance.
So as she stands up there after the concert, and the crowd is finally giving her the adulation she has secretly craved... Suzumiya apologizes. She shouldn't be up there, this was somebody else's concert, but in her rationalized selfishness she was willing to push them out of the way for the chance to prove herself anyway [5]. To see her unaware victims standing in the doorway later, come to thank and praise her, her eyes go wide and then she looks away in shame at how she has acted. As long as she felt painfully undervalued she could feel justified in returning the favor, but now the truth is forced: it's not just people's incomprehension that has caused her to be disliked. It has been her own unkindness as well, and maybe she should think on that. Then the last stinging line:
“We’re planning to put on one last concert. You should come and watch with your… (the girl turns questioningly to Kyon, then back to the camera pityingly)... friend.”
That the crowd still found her acceptable after all her apologies made her so happy she could cry. That the guy next to her, the one she just sang her heart out for, seems at best to tolerate her, means it yet went to waste. Suzumiya really is lonely and lovesick, and though not an easy person to be around her feelings are genuine. All of her is, to a fault. And in the background the series winks to let us know that we know it now too.
This is Suzumiya’s struggle of the final few episodes, then. Throughout the series she has frantically tried to get Kyon’s attention in her own stubborn, eccentric way, because that’s how she needs to be appreciated if it is to mean anything. Yet it doesn’t seem to be working; he doesn’t even seem aware, let alone interested. Her last hope is failing her. It’s why she even overcame her trepidation to talk to him earnestly at the railroad tracks. Haruhi isn’t using a faux-existential ramble to prove she’s special; we already know that. Nor is it an excuse for bad behavior. It is her beseeching Kyon to understand, that she knows what she’s doing and why, and an invitation to join her that she would extend to nobody else. The world was never threatened by her boredom, only by the ache that she would be alone in it.
The resolution, though, is happy, and the last reason I value the broadcast order as it is. While the future may foretell that nothing happens, it slips in the side door anyway. We were fooled by not being fooled. It ends up all along, the core of this story really was a romantic high school comedy, and at the conclusion we get our confession (of sorts) and kiss. Shame on us for doubting. And lest we think Haruhi would impishly steal that back to spite us, that moment of annoyed disbelief as Kyon falls out of bed and we fear it was all a dream, the last scene before the wrap-up is Suzumiya with a ponytail. She won’t face the camera; it’s still hard for her to compromise even a little like this, after all. But... it really does look good on her.
Conclusion in comments below
submitted by Suhkein to anime [link] [comments]

The over/under betting odds, or the totals, work differently for each sport. If the number is 42 in a football game and you bet the over, you would need 43 points total between the two teams. In baseball betting, it is the number of runs scored that sets the total. The UFC over/under betting odds are which round the fight will end. NCAA brackets and NFL point spreads are easy to understand, even for the casual investor. But baseball betting—like betting for hockey, NASCAR, and tennis, among other sports—is a bit more Betting line or odds used to determine the gambling margin between the favorite and underdog. Stake The money or collateral wagered on the outcome of a sporting event. Basic Strategy for Betting Moneylines. In sports betting, a moneyline bet is a wager on which team will win a game. Moneylines are the primary wagering option for hockey and baseball, while for basketball and football they are viewed as a secondary alternative to the point spread. What does "plus" and "minus" mean as a sports betting term?. Odds expressed in terms of money, with $100 being the standard. If the odds are minus (–), then that amount of money must be wagered

[index] [7848] [11085] [4020] [11599] [521] [6916] [3366] [5233] [15351] [10643]