A Few Good Lines

It’s nearly quarter to 1AM and the boys are arguing in the other room about what late night game to play: Call of Duty or the Zombie game within Call of Duty. A four-player limit finds me the fifth wheel, and I bow out to play some Starcraft.  Kevin is sleeping behind me, having passed out hours earlier.  Every half-hour he mumbles incoherent curses in his sleep, a sign my roommate’s sleeping peaceful (the boy is never happy unless he’s not), rousing himself as Ryan begins his recital in the other room.  I do not know what prompts it, perhaps the excitement for digital battle, the click of electronic triggers, the tinkling of bullets on 3-D landscapes.  His voice begins low, gradually crescendo-ing into a rebel shout, a call to arms for humans against the inhuman, a love-letter to the battle-borne and bullet-ridden:

“Good evening,” he begins. ” In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation.”

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This Little Job of Mine

The first day of our Disney vacation (as appose to our ‘road trip vacation,’ ‘St. Augustine vacation’ or ‘cabernet-induced vacation’) found Tropical Storm Debbie hovering over our resort like a large fly buzzing a particularly spacious picnic.  Other families may feel flummoxed by the gloomy weather, bolting themselves inside until the sun should emerge to chase away the gloom to some other, less entertaining state . . . like Ohio, but the Murphey clan does not shrink from natural calamities.  We simply bought a quiver of over-priced Disney umbrellas and trod to the local cinema . . . like men! Continue reading

A Warning

Suddenly Shannon dived across the driving wheel, grabbing the switch for the Explorer’s high beams.  The oncoming Lincoln Towncar and its senior pilot, soaring down the highway nearly ten miles below the speed limit, were well-warned of the speed trap on the far side of the reservoir.  My brother seemed pleased with his stealth attack — despite the fact that I nearly lost control of the car.  He had won.  I had lost.

“We’re thirty feet from the cop car, dude,” I screamed.   “A red and blue flashing atop hill, visible for half-a-mile.  Why flash my own lights?  It’s like pointing out the obvious.” Continue reading

Snow Recovery Plan

We stand at the edge of a storm, the third in the last week, predicted to unload another six inches of snow overnight.  Like prison bars, the icicles stretch far outside the windows down to the lower drifts, which swollen with the piles deposited from the roof consumes much of the view of the back porch and my lil’ sister if she should venture outside.   The blizzards of the last few weeks were efficient tyrants, burying all of the driveway, several of vehicles,  and most of the house, locking its occupants inside together for a week.  And still it continues to fall.  After only a few days, the kids grew tired of the house walls and the blank empty landscape outside.  Pining for girlfriends and jobs, the boys race outside with snow shovel and plow as soon as the last flakes fell, eager for the return of status quo.

The Prison Bars

The Prison Bars

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My Brother Mike Is A Jackass

by Shannon Murphey

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but my brother, Mike, who styles himself here on this blog as Murph is really in truth a jackass.  It’s truly funny how nowadays essential information like this can be hidden or deleted among the wires and all the other ego-pandering junk on the internet.  By the end of the year, after reading this drivel, he might have you believing himself to be Mother Theresa or Spiderman, but trust me, in reality he wouldn’t stretch out a finger to help anyone, much less a half-dead Indian orphan or the even pope.  Nor can he shoot webs out his wrists.  He’s just a jackass.

Just last week he refused to help me clean out the kitty-litter, claiming he is allergic to the cats and ran from the room sneezing in that melodramatic way of his.  I was stuck with the job, while he snuck downstairs to play COD or Puzzle Quest.  Then for Christmas, while everyone else got cool T-shirts that read “Double Tap” or “Zombie Killer” with shotguns in place of the ‘L’s,’ that jackass got me an “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt with the arrow pointing up.  Hahaha.  Everyone got a big kick out of that one.  Just you wait Mike.  I’ll beat you down so hard, your legs will come shooting out your ears.  Who’ll look stupid then, huh?  I’ll give you hint: the correct answer lies between the letters ‘T’ and ‘V,’  you jackass.

Today was the final straw, that loser who never had a girlfriend, not even ONE while I’ve had at least a dozen (how does that make you feel, ya queer?), had the nerve to talk trash after I beat him in Mario Tennis on the Wii.  He won a single match and you would have thought he was Andre Agasi or something.  Hey, jackass, swinging the Wii-mote doesn’t make you an athlete.  If you work up a sweat from pulling your fat rear from the Lazy Boy and flapping your arms, then you should try walking up the stairs every once in a while.  When you get to the top, I’ll throw on my steel-toed boots and show you my impression of Gerard Butler in 300.

This is Sparta, ya Jackass!

Now some of you family counselors or psychiatrists might argue about family dynamics or some other hippie-shrink bullcrap that Oprah shovels out every afternoon. You want family dynamics?  Charley Keaton’s brother taught him how to skin deer when he was twelve.  Kevin Kramer’s bro taught him how to build a potato gun when he was six.  The guys would spend their summer nights laughing, driving around the neighborhood, skinning animals they’d hit while launching taters at tractor trailers.  Havin’ a frickin’ awesome time like brothers are supposed to do.  The only thing Mike taught me was growing up to be an outta-work bum blows chunks.  If he ever learned how to build a potato gun, he’d probably use it on himself.  Death by starchy french fry is more than you deserve, ya jackass.

Just last weekend, I was minding my own business, shooting Nerf arrows at my sister until she cried, when that hobbit-wannabe walked in barefoot and suggested I go read a book.  Yeah right, Frodo Gamgee, why don’t you go get yourself a real job like a construction worker or kickboxer instead of playing boy-toy and apple-polisher to old Will Shakespeare.  I may never bury Caeser or Horatio but I will bury you one day beneath your library.  As a kindness, I might open War and Peace to your favorite page before lighting it on fire and dropping it on your stupid face.  How’s that for sound and fury, ya jackass?

On second thought, maybe I’ve gone too far, said too much.  You’re not such a bad guy.  We’ve had lots of good times together, right?  Remember that time I brought my girlfriend home for dinner and you brought out those old photos of me as a kid, grinning in curls, bows, and blue skirts Mom made me wear for Halloween?  Hahaha . . . and then you posted them on Facebook for the world to see.  Ah, good times.  So many . . . good times.  You know, I think about her now and then as the pain wells in my chest, her laughter nearly ripping my heart in two, but family trumps girlfriends, right?  Of course.  And when I’m done with trumping you with this shovel, the only photogenic spot left on your body will be your pale hairy ass, ya jackass.

“Friday I’m in Love”

Geekdom is crimping CAT-6 cables at eleven o’clock on a Friday night, discussing romance stories with your younger brother only to realize that most your suggested reading involve mutants, Spiderman, and young adult literature by Lloyd Alexander.  After heartily recommending the Black Cauldron for the sixth or seventh time, Shannon stole up to his room with a copy of Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham, leaving me to pen this short post and consider shooting gargoyles online or returning to my collection of fairy tales by George MacDonald.

Geekdom is congratulating each other for defeating Bowser in Super Mario Wii, accompanied by loud cheering, high-fives, and several cycles of “You Da Man!” and “No, you da man!” with your baby sister and her best friend.

Geekdom is finding yourself inspired after several minutes staring at anime figurines unsheathing claymores on your VCR, while Bob and Bing croon Dorothy in Morocco on your television screen. You run upstairs for a cup of chocolate milk before Abbot and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.

Geekdom is knowing how lame this must sound to most people and realizing in one instance that you don’t really care.  You dip another cookie into your milk as Costello runs screaming from the room.

A Game of Life or Death

Lately I’ve been Puzzle Quest-ing for my health, jumping on the treadmill whenever I want to game.  Possessing one of those mediocre minds that becomes bored quite easily, in order to exercise efficiently for any length of time requires a distraction, some outlet for my mind as my body goes about the business of toning itself.  Movies or the morning’s SportsCenter typically satisfies most folks, but in this case predictable plots haunt most of the cable HBOs.  And sports just bore me, thus reminding me of my legs, the sweat, and that gnawing pain in my lungs.

The difficulty in this activity of course is finding the right game, as all do not apply themselves well to the constant motion and noise associated with cardio-exercise.  Castlevania: Symphony of the Night worked quite well as did other 2-D platformers.  Story-based RPGs found me jumping off the treadmill in order to listen to dialogue.  Initiating the intricate commands of Street Fighter or fast-paced headshots of Call of Duty while your body (literally) is in motion left me crippled, dying from zombie bites or roundhouse fireball to the face.  Duct-taping the Rock Band drums to the adjacent bookcase, I nearly stabbed myself with the sticks.

PuzzleQuest requires little in the way of ‘game learning:’ no intricate controls, combos, or plot-driven cyphers to memorize.  Players match jewels, skulls, and coins and use the collected matches to hurl spells at zombies, ogres, and minotaurs.  The thrill in itself is simple: the cascading gems chime out bonus points, extra turns, and created weaponry.  Control in hand, I could run for hours and never notice what had so completely distracted my lower half, while my thumb successfully cast bolt lightning and saved the world.

My motivations for exercise requires some explanation.  Outside the obvious drive to remain healthy and mobile, reducing the fate of one day donning pants fashioned from sizable circus tents, I fear an abscess of sloth might reduce or stymie my desire to write effectively.  That’s one excuse at any rate.  The primary drive is purely competitive in nature: as Dasad strives everyday to run, leap, and even doggie-paddle during his free time, training for various club sports and other sweat-inducing activities, I dare not let that bum get too fit, too fast.  He might actually acquire the energy and quickness to beat me in Tekken, and that I can never allow.

Lately my friend has joined that special clique of Americans that run marathons and jogs in the wee hours of the day in tight shorts.  You might notice him or one of his brethren racing along the shoulder at three in the morning or seven o’clock at night, florescent tags stapled to their Speedos, faces flush with sweat and exhaustion.  I often wonder what runners consider while retracing their respective trails every morning.  Don’t they get bored after a while?  I’d be sorely tempted after fifteen minutes to find myself something new, pausing on a park bench to consider the scenery, the stars, or the scents wafting from the corner Starbucks.  Indeed I cannot criticize their focus, but certainly my ADD would not be able to suffer the repetitious movements, the struggle against muscle and fat, the absence of meaningful words scattered among the neighborhood woodlands.

For what purpose, I ask you?  Why do we pay the monthly fees for gyms, the twenty-first century equivalent of a torture chamber?  Health of course is the obvious answer, forever linked with suffering and physical pain.  The digital realm and the computer, a god in its own right, demands the daily sacrifice of time, energy, and those size 36 pants you’ve kept since college.  Unlike our ancestors, we work not to survive.  The dinosaurs are extinct; Nature’s predators are stored away in zoo or protected by countless government edicts; even Maryland deer bounce off the sides of our Excursion as we cruise up the road to the grocer’s for milk.  The Wild is conquered.  We run not to survive another day, but to avoid fusing with our sofas.

Thus, with the snow building outside and my mind now fully awake, my body creaks and groans, demanding exercise.  I shall grab my shoes and hop on the treadmill, controller in hand.  Until they begin cloning dinosaurs, this is the best I can do.