Sunday, May 31, 2015

Imperial Ascendant

It was certainly a triumphant day for the Imperial forces. 

Not only had we managed to infiltrate the main rebel base on Naboo, we had successfully decimated their pitiful forces and captured most of their recalcitrant local leaders. One of whom was rumoured to be part of the fabled Jedi knights of lore, though I sincerely doubted that grandiose claim. After all Order 66, and the subsequent inquisitions, had sufficiently wiped out the last remnants of those pretentious watchdogs from the Old Republic.

Even those left who had run into hiding would be far too old to be of much use these days. So why had I been dragged out of my comfortable bed in Theed to attend the interrogation of said Jedi Knight? As the Special Imperial Agent appointed to the Monarch of Naboo, theoretically I was supposed to portray the glorified emissary fostering better ties between the newly crowned Queen and the Empire. In reality however, I served the Imperial Security Bureau to rightfully influence the decision-making of the puppet Queen - lest she also fall prey to the rebellious notions of the previous much lamented Queen Apailana.  

Perhaps they might have called on Darth Sade to handle the questioning but few would survive his more sadistic methods of coercion. 

Or even worse, they could have brought in his ruthless apprentice Katrah. If Darth Katrah had been by his side when the rebel base had been attacked, no doubt she would have viciously slaughtered even the handful of rebels we had left. Who could forget her depraved massacre of the Gungan outpost where she had strung up the ill-fated survivors over a fire to roast slowly and painfully. Persistent rumours that she had devoured the charred flesh of the vanquished after were still whispered in a horrified hush around the civilized halls of Naboo. 

Since Katrah hadn't seen any harm in regaling me with that atrocious fact - and had initially compared their flesh to the more gristly ones of the barbecued Mon Calamari, I could readily confirm it. No doubt she had seen the growing horror in my expression marking me as no ally of the predatory Sith. 

It was one of the reasons I had made sure she would remain off-planet during the initial strike on the rebel base. Not that I had any love for the boorish Gungans - or the even more tedious Mon Calamari - but we needed useful information about the rebels after all, and having the entire rebel crew apportioned as a carnivorous buffet would serve more as an encumbrance.

Not exactly the usual role-playing games associated with the Star Wars franchise.

Think my friends Sober Sam and Kitty Kat would much rather be in the thick black robes of the Sith. 

But then again, I doubt I would have fit in all that well with the oh-so-noble aspirations of the fledgling Rebellion. Something tells me I'd probably do better in the aristo-bureaucratic ranks of the stern authoritarian Empire instead; maybe an aspiring male Twi'lek looking out for his own unscrupulous gain in the Imperial Security Bureau?

Unfortunately not all my friends are into dramatic narration. True to their staid engineering calling, most of them generally want to succeed in their appointed mission, exterminate their enemies and achieve their specific goals. Roll dice, kill the baddies and win basically. Something entirely more malleable freestyle and purposefully vague in terms of team objectives like the pen-and-paper roleplaying games, replete with emphasis on non-combative roleplay and creating stories by exploring small towns, talking to the burly barskeep and flirting with the more attractive non-player characters (NPCs), definitely isn't in their gaming repertoire.

Don't even ask the about creating a character's background. Of course something tells me my somber, goal-oriented niece isn't all that big on spinning stories either. Future engineer perhaps?

So far our few experimental turns at pen-and-paper role playing goes something like this.

Paul : So there is a lone bandit standing in front of the den? 
Gamemaster : Yes, and he's smoking a joint.
Paul : I would approach him and try to charm him into telling me more. Maybe score a joint from him. Hope he's cute.
Gamemaster : Interesting approach but you have plenty of charm and presence. Roll the dice. 
Paul : Sure. 
Gamemaster : Looks like you just might make it. So the bandit smiles and talks to you - 
Madison : What's with all the talking! Let's get on with the battle. I'll just punch him.  
Sam : Let me throw my sword at his damned face. 
Paul : He was about to tell me something!
Madison : Let's storm the den and kill everyone!

So obviously there isn't much chance of continuing the story with most of the NPCs stabbed repeatedly with sabers. Makes me miss my role-playing schooldays of playing vengeful priests and slutty assassins in the most demented imbroglios ever.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shawn Sparks Tindr

Never trust first impressions.

Especially those garnered second-hand from an outsider who might or might not have a personal bias that coloured their initial impression. I certainly never do. In fact I make it a point to give fledgling acquaintances second or even third chances before I summarily dismiss them from thought and memory.

Or at least from my tight circle of friends.

For instance, Stalwart Shawn who we've started seeing more often these days. Even before we actually met the poor fellow, there have been endlessly persistent rumours about his apparent douchebag qualities. Apparently gathered from some of Shawn's careless off-hand remarks on several pertinent current world issues.

Baby, you can drive my car. 

Having been similarly tarred and feathered back in school. I certainly knew how that felt. Though I'll readily admit my well earned reputation as school bitch was far from fabricated! Even Mad Madison had gotten quite the unsavoury notoriety after her less than cordial breakup but we soon had that all cleared up!

So we had to know for certain.

As it turns out, Stalwart Shawn reminds me a little of my ISO. Same brash jock affability coupled with that subtle hint of rich boy arrogance. More cocky Reggie Mantle than boy-next-door Archie Andrews which would explain the less than favourable first impression earlier.

And also explains his fatal charm with women - well he's quite easy on the eyes too - though it doesn't seem to have sparked a Tindr here yet.

Paul : Surely you can find someone on Tindr. 
Shawn : Yeah right! 
Paul : Why not!
Shawn : Come over and take a look at my Tindr. 
Paul : Is that a proposition? 
Shawn : Let's start with the Tindr first. 
Paul : Alright. 
Shawn : Keep your expectations low yeah. 
Paul : There's no one around. There's only you. 
Shawn : Precisely. So now you understand how hard it is to find straight hookups here. 
Paul : Guess over here they don't have to rely on phone apps. They can just hook up at a bar. 

Turns out when it comes to getting off, it isn't quite as efficient as Grindr.

Unfortunately for the straight boys, it's not as easy relying on heterosocial apps to find someone here on this side of the Big Puddle. Either everyone on this side is a relentlessly straight-laced prude - or they are already busy hooking up at the dozens of seedy bars here. Since tawdry extramarital affairs are surprisingly commonplace here, I tend to favour the second theory.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Religion of Gymbots

Perhaps mere gymbots would be the wrong classification for them. You know the sort - you probably know one of them - those athletic, outdoorsy buddies who are desperately into running, hiking, climbing etc. Invariably waking themselves up early on the odd weekend for a fun marathon or scubadiving competition.

For them, it's practically a religion with clear and definite tenets. Yeah these active-lifestyle zealots aren't quite the same sort as you and I. In fact they don't even speak the same language.

Then again they could certainly try to convert me!

Evidenced by the time Stalwart Shane started up a conversation with Mad Madison after they compared gym schedules, with each other and also with their other robust compatriots. Don't think it would take very long before Madison finds herself converted.

Shawn : I try to head to the gym as much as I can. 
Madison : Certainly shows. You're looking great too!
Shawn : That's nothing. My friend can squat almost 110 kg and she's a tiny little thing. 
Madison : That sounds amazing. I can only do maybe half of that! 
Shawn : You should see her benchpress! 
Madison : She must be really fit. 
Shawn : Take a look. 
Madison : Great quads! You should see my friend. He joins the Ironman competitions all the time. I'm thinking of taking part one day. 

They were well and truly awed. I tried my best to follow but honestly I really didn't see the point. Might have blacked out for a moment as well but I managed to catch the final bits of their conversation as they talked about eating clean. Obviously one of the major tenets of their religion which is Thou Shall Eat Clean.

For me, eating clean is getting the dirt off my edible food.

Doubt heading to the gym would be in my fun schedule ever. If not for the ever-present fear of the impending heart attack, I doubt I would even bother. So you can already imagine what I think about getting up at some ungodly hour of the morning during a weekend just to sweat ten miles for a dinky brass medal. Endorphin rush, seriously? Sense of accomplishment, really?

Obviously it's going to take a lot more to convert me. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bear With?

Like I said last week, our Grizzlylocks has quite a few friends. Make that a literal pack. Not that it bothers me like it does Diffident David who finds himself irrationally jealous at times - though he might not care to admit it. The problem for us comes with trying to decide who actually knows.

When we first met Grizzlylocks some time ago, his irrepressible flamboyance pinged even our rusty gay-dars. Only the ever-present beard left us in slight doubt of his homosexuality though all that was all put firmly to rest when we heard Grizz attempt a reasonable impression of gay icon Judy Garland with her now infamous Trolley Song.

Clang clang clang went our gaydar indeed. Since that particular discovery, Grizz has lost no time in emphasizing his pronounced gayness, ringing out with merry showtunes and enthusiastically tapdancing at almost every opportunity. Letting his freak flag fly as it were.

However what might seem patently obvious to us is often quite downright murky to some. In fact according to a mightily insistent Grizz, most of his friends are still in the dark about his sexuality. Which is all fine by us since coming out is totally a personal decision.

Only thing is it's really hard to keep track of who knows.

And who doesn't.

Paul : Wait, lemme look at the list again.
Kat : So we think Jeremy knows.
Paul : But his wife doesn't. Jake doesn't know either.
Kat : Neither does Joe. 

Especially since Grizz doesn't seem to be hiding in the closet in the least. Talk of hot boys and gay porn randomly pepper his everyday conversation with very little restriction which leaves us all wondering how anyone else could possibly miss the obvious signs. Sometimes we don't know whether to continue with the shockingly eye-opening discussion or help him cover up the obvious cracks in his increasingly opaque closet.

Even his far from circumspect beard finds it hard to keep up!

Friend : Waitaminute, why are you watching gay porn? 
Grizz : Umm...
Paul : He meant lesbian porn of course. 
Friend : Oh. 

Grizz : You must watch Cucumber and Banana!
Friend : Wait, why are you watching a gay-oriented show so enthusiastically? Are you trying to tell us something?
Paul : Well obviously he likes food-themed shows as well. 
Friend : Oh. 

And that's the very least of his Freudian slips. Are we seriously pretending that his bewilderingly oblivious friends don't know at all?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Our Madison Avenue

Ever since the Roaring Twenties, Madison Avenue in New York has become almost synonymous with the American advertising industry, even serving as the inspirational backdrop for the oh-so-chic Mad Men. Even today, it's not difficult to picture beautifully appointed fashionistas flicking through Tindr with their perfectly manicured nails as they browse through the many posh boutiques and stores along this historical avenue searching for that perfect outfit.

But that's way on the far side of the globe. Here on our side of the Big Pond, our very own Madison is decidedly more ... casual.

Or at least our Mad Madison is. Fashion-wise anyhow. Her very own inimitably laidback beachwear style which she customarily defends quite vehemently with the all-too-general catch-all 'It's comfortable!'. Sure I could expound all day about purchasing fashionable workwear that still manages to provide reasonable comfort but I doubt it would lend on receptive ears.

Hmm. Perhaps I could reserve comment? 

Well at least till today when a chance meeting at a cafe with four tart young things in tees and thongs left her with a bit of sour instead. These girls were entirely reminiscent of the heinous Little Miss Socialistas I once spied on back in the city - except on this side of the Big Pond, these tart young things dressed up in rumpled tees and ratty shorts straight out of the laundry basket.

No doubt extremely exorbitant and shockingly branded but on them it could have been less than bargain basement goods. And that goes for the unfortunate Phillip Lim handbag carelessly drooping from one of the Miss Casualistas as well.

There's casual street chic. And then there's sloppy hobo wear. And for the first time, I wasn't the only one doing the venomous judging. Well, at least not much.

Madison : Oh dear, do I actually dress like them? Am I that bad? Paul?
Paul : ....
Madison : Paul?
Paul : ....
Madison : Trust me, your silence isn't helping.
Paul : I was hoping that was rhetorical. Let me take a moment, why not pose that question to Kat first?
Madison : Kat? Do I dress like them? 
Kat : .....
Madison : How about you, Sam? 
Sam : ....
Madison : OMG.

Coming from Madison who's all about casual chic, that's not exactly complimentary. All in the intonation. Since none of her all-too-judgemental friends could muster up a decently innocuous reply, it wasn't long before Madison let out a disheartened wail that grew ever louder when the Miss Casualistas started striking poses and snapping selfies.

Madison : Dressed like that? 
Paul : Well they probably always dress like that. 
Madison : I don't wear that, do I? 
Paul : You do know she has the same tee-shirt you're wearing now? 
Madison : Noooo......

Seriously, dress up people. Who are you dressing down for?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Allura Returns to Deceive

I've always been a tad cynical.

The more outwardly saintly a person appears, the more suspicious I get. Smiley Sunday Samaritans toting portable Bibles and brollies make me wonder if they're hiding rotting corpses in their backyard. Righteous bearded clerics in their heavy robes ranting about the greatness of their religion only has me checking whether there's an armed Uzi and a heavily pregnant tween hidden behind them.

These are the ones I always keep an eye out for.

Just like the seemingly righteous Princess Allura - who has finally crawled out of the darkest depths after making her disappearance nearly ten years ago. Unsurprising since she basically killed off everyone she knew including her poor hapless fiancee. Just because.

Apparently though bad pennies keep turning up since the murderous princess from the game Trapt has made a return in Deception IV : Blood Ties. Though she now goes by the even more deceitful name of Laegrinna.

The inconsequential change of name certainly doesn't make her any less wickedly vicious. Though she might play the innocent victim all dolled up in a frilly lil dress, don't be fooled by her gentle placidity - seeing as she can barely physically defend herself - for she lays the most horribly sadistic traps known to man.

Or woman.

Not even pretty-boy looks are enough to save her unfortunate enemies. If she had little qualms eviscerating her much lamented fiancee, I doubt any of the others would fare better.

Trust me, not a ride you want to be taking anytime soon. 

This girl is a monster.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Straight Men Don't Get Pashminas

Ever since we've met him, Diffident David has always adamantly maintained that he passes for 'straight'.

Whatever the hell that means.

Much to his consternation, we usually reiterate repeatedly that a neat freak obsession with perfectly mussed-up hair and meticulously folded sleeves - coupled with that teensy bit of a swish sway when he flounces - reads as totally, utterly stereotypically gay. Blinding neon pink flashing sign patently obvious to anyone watching, short of the seriously visually impaired.

Of course he doesn't see it. Much like Mercurial Marshall before him who's practically gay enough for a dancing pride parade of shirtless go-go boys to drift by whenever he sashays by - and yet fervently insists that he's desperately hush hush discreet at work.

No one knows? Seriously?

The boys doth protest too much, methinks. Isn't it odd that the stereotypically gayest boys always think that their glass closets are impenetrable to others? Despite desperately trying to cover up your sexual proclivities with a lowered baritone and a macho strut, trust me - especially the boys working in the hospitals - the nurses always know. At least the more perceptive ones. Some of the doctors would know as well, after all we spend half our lives observing human behaviour and the peculiar nuances thereof.

Maybe if I walk really, really slow, no one would know!

Which is something our David is still living in dread of. Though something tells me he doesn't need to worry any longer.

David : I got a gift from the nurses the other day. 
Paul : That's nice of them. 
David : Take a look. 
Paul : Wait, that's a pashmina. 
David : Oh, is that what they call it? 
Paul : That's a pashmina. 
David : Yes?
Paul : They know you're gay. 
David : What?!

Really? A pashmina.

Don't get me wrong, I love silky soft pashminas and have used them as scarves as well. In fact Charming Calvin spends hours just rearranging his scarves into dozens of fashionable permutations whenever we're in a temperate country.

But really, when was the last time you heard of any man - even a gay man - receiving a faintly feminine pashmina for a parting gift?

Yes, truly cosmopolitan metrosexuals could pull it off quite easily with savoir faire - but a pashmina in a soft lavender paisley? With short tassels? Over here in a our steadfastly conservative nation, it would ring a dozen bells of homosuspicion!

Friday, May 01, 2015

Dangerously Devout Duennas

Though I dub their quarters a domicile, the more appropriate name for the Draconian Domicile for the Dogmatic Duennas would be a cloistered convent. Lest you wonder how the three highly individualistic duennas came together - seeing as how they have so very little in common from Yoga Ysabel to Sober Sophia, they actually share a single terrifyingly doctrinal religion that governs every single minutiae of their everyday lives.


Excuse the bold letterings but each time they reverently mention the word, it's truly strikingly ... emboldened for want of a better word. For the trio of zealous duennas, Christianity isn't just a mere religion but an entire all-encompassing way of life!

As they spoke so fervently of their religion, I felt as if I'd stumbled into my old college days when the entire Christian Fellowship would come over to strum the communal guitar and sing devotional hymns in my room! For some inexplicably divine reason, my roommates always turned out to be the head of the fellowship which obviously drew the entire flock to my room. Much to my dismay. It's one thing to discuss religion with my newly anointed roommate in the late evenings - and quite another to have a dozen devout apostles in a room chanting verses and sharing weepy testimonies till the wee hours of the morning.

The First Communion? 

So you can imagine my growing horror when Marvellous Mabel started her spiel. For weeks I had been wondering why none of the young fellows in town had managed to draw their feminine attention. It suddenly dawned on me then that the problem with the eligible bachelors in town wasn't their diverse personalities but their opposing religious beliefs.

Mabel : First and foremost, he must be Christian. 
Paul : Any denomination will do? 
Mabel : Yes. 
Paul : So Catholic boys are alright? 
Mabel : Catholics aren't Christians!
Paul : What?! 
Mabel : They just aren't. 
Paul : We'll get back to that shocking issue later - but really that's your first criteria? To be Christian? 
Mabel : I believe we should share similar beliefs, views and goals in life. So if he's already Christian, it would simplify matters. After all 'be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers -'
Paul : Madre de Dios.

Oh dear God.

Faith is wonderful indeed but when it becomes far too rigidly exclusionary, that can be a problem. Rather than preaching tolerance and unifying humankind, faith then draws the diving line with the faithful Us against the non-believers Them. Even amongst the faithful Us, there starts to be minor divisions between those who are seen to be holier and those who aren't. The Holier-Than-Thou Syndrome?

Of course like I said this isn't my first time faced with such religious dogmatism so I told Mabel this.

Paul : Imagine if Jesus were in a room. Do you think he would say you must only marry another Christian? 
Mabel : Yes. 
Paul : I think you better read the Bible again.