05 March 2008

How to be Chuck E Cheese...

When I was 16 years old I couldn't wait to get a "real job". A job that'd earn me enough to afford the good life. During my first job hunt, I applied all over town at various stores, restaurants and businesses. One job sticks out in my mind. The job had me thinking,

"They want to pay someone to do that?! It's not even work. I can show up, do the job and make dollars. Too easy, and they've gotta hire me cuz I'm so awesome".

The job I am referring to was working as a mascot for Red Robin. Long story short, I didn't get the job and instead found myself cleaning bathrooms at the local KOA campground. These memories filled my head as I watched the following Chuck E Cheese mascot training video from the 80's. As I viewed it I imagined being a teenaged pimple-faced rookie being escorted to a secret mascot training facility to learn the ways of the Cheese.

"Chuck E Cheese: A Guide For Your Walk-Around Character" Training Video

17 December 2007

R.I.P. Roland Reiter

Chapter 5 "Trial & Terror"

Leroi was charged with three counts of homicide. The sheriff and prosecution convinced the jury that Gayle had been having an affair. Her secret lover was hiding in the barn when Leroi had arrived home early from work. When "Mr Lover" tried to sneak away Leroi caught him crossing the yard. Leroi confronted the man in the yard, Gayle standing close by apologizing for what she'd done. In a fit of rage Leroi proceeded to shoot and kill the man, Gayle and Roland. All this was utter fabrication but the jury ate it up much easier than Leroi's psychotic account of "the man who wouldn't die!".

The sheriff covered up the fact that Roland hadn't even been shot by paying off the Coroner and quickly having his grandson's body cremated. The sheriff had never liked Leroi and knew none of this would have happened if Gayle hadn't run off and got hitched to him.

After being sentenced, Leroi was sent to prison. Where he rotted for three years until one day when he received a letter. A letter that filled Leroi with surprise and hope.

It read...

"Dear Mr Reiter,

Allow me to introduce myself, My name is Victor Manning. I am a defense attorney. Recently I came across your case by a fellow C.A.N. member. My attention was caught when I read of your testimony of the circumstances of your wife and sons' deaths. You have my deepest sympathies for your loss. I believe I may be of assistance to you in helping you regain your freedom from the confines of prison. Please keep an open mind as you read the rest of this letter Mr Reiter.

I am a member of a newly found organization known as C.A.N. (Citizens Against Necros). Our goal is to spread the word of a new threat to our society. The threat of zombies. I truly believe your family was attacked by a zombie. With your permission I will do all that is in my power to prove to the world that you are not guilty of the murder of your wife and son. The only thing I believe you have committed is Necrocide (the killing of an undead individual). As there are no laws against such a thing and you were clearly only defending your family, I believe I can prove your innocence. My services as a Necrocidal Defense Attorney come to you free of either charge or future obligation. Please write me back with an answer as soon as you are able.

Sincerely, Victor Manning"

R.I.P. Roland Reiter

Chapter 4 "Paige Climbs Oak"

Statement of Leroi Reiter

I was helping my wife, Gayle, get dinner ready when I heard my daughter, Paige, screaming for help in the yard. I ran outside to see what was the matter and saw her being followed by a man staggering behind her. I bolted into the house and grabbed my shotgun and returned to the yard as quickly as I could. By this time the man was halfway across the yard to the house from the barn. I called out for him to stop. He didn't respond and kept limping towards the house after Paige. Gayle ran out to grab Paige. I asked Paige where Roland, my son, was. She was screaming in Gayle's arms unable to speak coherently, but she kept pointing towards the chicken coop.

I yelled at the staggering man once again to stop then shot him in the chest. He fell to the ground motionless and I ran to the chicken coop where I saw Roland lying face-down on the ground. Roland's head was bleeding badly and he didn't respond to me yelling at him asking what was wrong. I rolled him over and saw his face was smashed in and nose gushing blood. Then I heard Gayle screaming. I quickly picked Roland up, he wasn't breathing, and ran back to the front yard carrying him and my shotgun.

When I got to the yard I found Gayle struggling with the man I had just shot. Paige was standing nearby crying. The man was biting Gayle's shoulder. I dropped Roland and ran up to the man, trying to pry him off my wife. I got him loose and threw him to the ground. He began getting up again and I shot him once more in the chest at pointblank range. Gayle ran to me and hugged me. I was turned to look at Roland on the ground and the man was biting my son's leg. I ran over to him and tried to pull him off. Paige ran to and climbed the oak tree. Gayle ran over to help me pull the man off Roland. I shot the man twice more. The last shot was to his face, his head blew wide open. I didn't realize Gayle was immediately behind the man and she was shot in the chest by the same slug.

The man never moved again and Gayle was on the ground bleeding badly from her chest. I ran to the house and called 911 for an ambulance and police. I tried to call Paige down from the tree but she wouldn't climb down. By the time the ambulance arrived Gayle was dead.

I tried to explain to Deputy Skinner what had happened. He said I was talking crazy and arrested me. Skinner called the sheriff. The sheriff arrived and took Paige.

I am not crazy. I was just trying to protect my family. Protect them from a man who didn't die until after I'd shot him three times in the chest and once in the head with 12 gauge slugs.

R.I.P. Roland Reiter

Chapter 3 "Smoking Oven"

A patch bearing the Seal of the Talcum County Sheriff's Department decorated the shoulder of Deputy Jack Skinner's uniform. A uniform he had aspired his whole life to wear. He wore it now with a sense of duty and pride. The patch hung pristine and heavily starched, the rest of the uniform hung on his body stained in sticky scarlet blood.

Deputy Skinner stood in front of the sink in the Reiter family's kitchen. Mindlessly he turned on the faucet and reached for the bar of soap. Jack nearly scrubbed his hands raw trying to rid his palms of the blood of the Sheriff's daughter and grandson. Shock still gripped him as he stared dazed through the kitchen window at the flashing lights of his squad car in the driveway. The smell of burning bread shook him from his trance. He turned to see a light cloud of smoke escaping from the oven. He quickly skipped over to the oven and turned off the heat. An inspection of the oven's interior revealed a dozen burnt dinner rolls smouldering in a pan on the oven rack.

Leroi sat in the back of the squad car numbly unaware of the handcuffs cutting into his wrists. An ambulance had just left his driveway, carrying with it the lifeless bodies of his wife , son and a stranger. Before that a blue pickup truck driven by his father-in-law had departed with Paige. Leroi's exposed chest and unbuttoned flannel were soaked in crimson caked blood. His right index finger twitched slightly every few moments, besides this movement he sat stalk still. His eyes glazed with shock and disbelief.

After double checking evidence, a Mossberg 500A pump shotgun & four spent 12 gauge slug cartridges, he'd stored in his trunk Jack climbed into the driver's seat silently and headed towards the Sheriff's Station. Gravel crunching under Goodyears the only interruption of silence.

Leroi found himself standing in front of a camera holding a placard. Booked for three counts of homicide he was led to his first of many cells. With an empty stomach he drifted off to restless and dreamless sleep.

03 December 2007

R.I.P. Roland Reiter

Chapter 2 "Chase The Hen"

Leroi sat leaning over the side of his bed lacing up his boots. His hair was still damp from a rushed shower. Off work, muscles aching of a productive day at work, belly growling in anticipation of Gayle's delicious cooking. Flannel shirt still unbuttoned, he left their bedroom to help his wife set the table.

Gayle bustled about the kitchen juggling the evening meal's fixings. Frying chicken, peeling potatoes, baking rolls, boiling gravy. The aroma of the much needed feast greeted his nostrils as he entered the room. Without word he opened a cupboard and piled his hands with plates and glasses. After setting them down on the dinner table he returned to the kitchen to plant a slobbery smooch on his wife's cheek. She squealed, saying how the wet kiss was gross, dinner was almost ready and to call in the kids from their playing in the yard to wash up. Secretly, Gayle loved her husbands after work post-shower kisses, but she loved letting him get a rise out of her. She loved him dearly.

Leroi and Gayle met at a 4th of July BBQ hosted by Talcum County Sheriff, Ed Taylor, Gayle's father. Leroi had recently been discharged from active duty in the US Army and was in the area visiting his widowed grandmother. Besides Granny, Leroi didn't know a soul at the BBQ. Bored out of his skull he decided to enter the gunnysack race. The race was intended for children only and a few of the deputies' wives raised a stink about Leroi entering. Sitting near the flock of bickering wives was Gayle. Upon hearing the fuss this poor stranger had caused she too decided to race as well. They stood shoulder to shoulder staring at each other as the youngsters assembled on the starting line. BANG! The starter pistol rang out and a mob of sugar-crazed juveniles hopped madly towards the finish. Leroi followed closely behind Gayle, giving her the lead and letting her beat him. After ditching his gunnysack Leroi introduced himself. The two of them clicked immediately and rumors of Gayle's rebellious new boyfriend soon became the hot topic of discussion of local quilting circles.

Gayle's parents hadn't approved of Leroi from day one. Though he worked hard at his construction job and treated everybody respectfully, winning her parents' favor seemed a goal unreachable. Gayle was constantly reminded of how she could do better. After dating for nearly a year, the Leroi & Gayle eloped in secret. This only added to the discord between Leroi and his In-Laws.

A year after stating their marital vows, Gayle gave birth to a son, Roland. Two years later Roland's sister Paige arrived. Leroi worked hard to provide for his family. With the help of a VA loan and scant inheritance left by his deceased grandmother, they were able to buy a small farm outside of town. The same farm where they raised their two children. The same two children who presently were engaged in a frantic game of Chase The Hen. The aging hen clucking and racing about the yard as Roland and Paige sprinted close behind in hot pursuit.

Paige ran around a towering oak tree in an attempt to cut off the hen. Paying more attention to her big brother waving a plastic sword at the chicken than what lay in her path, she tripped on a root scuffing her knee mildly. She sat down and watched with disgust as her brother and the hen passed her and rounded the side of the chicken coop out of sight. As she stood panting for breath the sound of Roland's hunt ceased suddenly. For a moment she giggled to herself imagining Roland having a similar spill, his ending in face plant into chicken poop. Her chortling stopped as abruptly as it had begun when she heard a loud "THUD!" come from the chicken coop. Within a few seconds she had reached the chicken coop.

Paige's eyes were wide with terror as she dashed towards the farm house. "Rolly's hurt, Daddy HEEEEEEELP!", she cried out in a blood-curdling scream.

R.I.P. Roland Reiter

Chapter 1 "Prison"

Wet slippers again. His cell floor always flooded when it rained heavily. The stench of unseen mold growing in the ducts overhead made Leroi Reiter's stomach desire to empty it's meager contents into his combination sink/commode.

Wet slippers again. Leroi remembered a prized pair of march-worn combat boots from his Army days. How comfortably they clung to his feet. Broken in, shaped permanently to his very sole. He let his mind wander for a minute, flashing back to being awakened in the middle of the night by a Drill Sergeant for a surprise formation that ended after four hours of standing at attention in ice cold springtime Kentucky rain. Another soldier had sneaked two cookies back from the chow hall and the Drills wanted to toss the barracks to ensure no other Privates had broken the No Food In Barracks Order. By the time Private Reiter was able to get back to his locker his boots were sopping wet and in dire need of a good shining. His feet aching with cold.

Wet slippers again. "Well at least my feet are dry", Leroi mumbled to himself sarcastically as he snapped back to the present. He sat on the edge of his prison cot and reached down, lifting the slippers to give them a drier home atop the seat of his chair.

Even more than dry footwear and a floor free of standing water, Leroi missed his family. He knew he'd never see his wife or son again, but he yearned to be able to watch his young daughter grow up. She was now seven years old, living with his in-laws. He wrote her every week. In the three lonely years since his sentencing Leroi hadn't received a single letter from her or them. He had a pretty good idea of what they thought of him and what sort of bullshit lies they must be feeding his precious little Paige. An angry fist struck the bare cement of cell wall as he hung his head hopelessly. Tears joined the slowly growing puddle under his cot.

"I love you Paige. One day you'll know and understand this. One day I'll get out of this pit and make you the happiest girl in the World. I know you miss Roland & Mama as much as I do.
I did what I had to do that day and thank God you survived." Only tear-soaked hands heard his sobbed words.

25 November 2007

Forgotten Formats

HD-DVD, Blueray are among the latest forms of cinematic media available to the public. These discs offer crystal clear video resolution & audio quality to those willing to break their piggy banks for the opportunity to purchase them. The wallet pilfering doesn't stop with the legal acquisition of individual titles by any means though. One must also invest in the proper disc players and TV sets in order to make viewing of these movies a reality. Initial investments easily amounting to a few months wages for the average household.

I mourn the ever-fading lives of: 8mm & 16mm reels of film, Betamax & VHS video cassettes, and Laserdiscs. More and more I hear others saying to discard these treasures and "upgrade" ( an all too popular and oh-so-vile word) to the newest, fanciest, trendiest counterparts. To this I cry, "RAWG!"

Irritation, nausea, perturbia, bogglement. These are emotions which well up within me whenever I hear a spoiled child complaining of having to watch a black & white cartoon or a snobby adult forced to watch a popular classic "with lines in it". In the World's quest for perfection the appreciation of the very ability to enjoy the magic of a moving picture seems to have all but disappeared.

Everyone critiques the movies they watch. This is only human and its product is the shaping and molding of future feature films. One's tastes in genres may vary greatly from others. Criticism & Preference cannot be avoided. But to deny one's chance to enjoy a movie simply because it isn't being viewed in the highest quality possible is preposterous!

The shelves of thousands of flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores and public libraries lie in wait to be relieved of millions of titles. A working color television set, used VCR and dozen video tapes can easily be bought for less than the price of a new Poo-ray disc alone. Lose your snobbishness, take a stroll down memory lane and save the big bucks for that Build-It-Yourself-Submarine/Helicopter Kit you've always wanted.