Curtain Call

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”… Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

When I think back on 2011, with its many vicissitudes, my mind always strays inevitably to the opening lines of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. 2011 was a year of many contradictions for me and truth be told, the greatest contradiction I found was within myself.

I have always been something of a hodge-podge of characteristics, none of which is truly me and yet I am greater than the sum of my constituent disjointed, contradictitng parts. In no year has this been more obvious than 2011, for I leave this year even more disjointed than before but somehow at peace with myself for I have come to terms with what I am. But that is, as they say, not really why we are here.

Seeing as how 2010 was such a dismal year for me, I am extremely glad that 2011 did not even nearly meet the poor standard set by its predecessor. However, it did make several attempts. On the other hand the year was full of blessings for me and I would be the worst sort of fool not to count them. 2011…

It was the best of times.

I fell in love this year… and I had quite a number of lovely people fall in love with me. There were lots of great moments many of which I will never forget.

It was the worst of times.

The person I fell in love with did not feel the same way about me… and I did not feel the same about the others that loved me. Sadly. Sometimes I wish I did. There was an emotional pipeline spill for a while.

It was the age of wisdom

I learned a lot of new things in a very short time and collected another certificate. A Distiction from Imperial College to match my First class degree from Ife. The two certificates will look good next to each other I suppose. Some more pieces of paper to tell me how smart I am supposed to be.

It was the age of foolishness

My poor memory is gradually becoming more and more of an issue. But I’m glad my ability to reason remained undiminished. Also, I finally realized that I will never know as much as I am expected to. Or want to. This is something no piece of paper can tell me but I have learned to accept as fact.

It was the epoch of belief

I realized that I do believe in God more than I would care to admit. I am very reluctant to talk about faith because I like to pretend to be a man of strict logic. But when the chips were down, I know whom I call to for help.

It was the epoch of incredulity

I can count on my fingers, the number of times I went to church this year. I am constantly amazed at the ability of people to twist religion for their own agendas. Sadly, I have no faith left in most of the religious structures of the world as they currently exist. I chose instead to focus on charity.

It was the season of Light

I made many new friends, learned many new things, travelled to many new places, had several new experiences, opened my self up more than I ever had. Made many new friends, the light that helped me navigate my way through the year.

It was the season of Darkness

I realized that my brothers are probably the only real family I can trust completely. The rest of my family is an emotional minefield of love and hidden agendas that I am not eager to navigate.

It was the spring of hope

I spent many days this year hoping for many things, some of which I eventually received and I am extremely grateful for. Some of which I am still waiting for…

It was the winter of despair

Was it really? No it wasn’t. No it fucking wasn’t. Because I never really lost hope. I felt overwhelmed. Sad. Angry. Frustrated. Stressed. But I never sank into despair and I doubt I ever will. You see, 2011 tried to break me. Where Death and Desolation tried and failed the previous year, Stress and Uncertainty tried their hand. The troubles at home (my elder brother is an unbelievably strong young man who had to deal with issues that would have broken men double his age) combined with the cruel, constant and consistent stress of labors imposed on me by Imperial college combined with the ups and downs of my emotions all conspired to break me. But they failed. And I’m not just writing this to make this seem like a story with a happy ending… those that know me, know what I mean. I’ve gotten most of what I wanted out of the year and set myself up perfectly for 2012, and even though I will spend most of the year working my ass off, it will be worth it. For that, I am glad.

Perhaps you will allow me to share something of a testimony (God has done a lot of things for me in my life and I’ve developed a habit of taking them for granted, I should stop. Since I wont be giving this testimony within the four walls of any church any time soon, I will do that here)

I applied for an Internship with a Fortune 500 company over the summer for my MSc project, submitted my CV and after all was said and done, I didn’t get selected. Disappointment. However, they sent emails to everyone that was not selected informing them that they would be processed for any open job opportunities. I didn’t get that email. Disappointment. I decided to be decisive and send my CV again with a hope and a prayer, requesting to be considered. I was. I got an email back informing me that the email address I had on my original CV was wrong and that was the reason I had been excluded from everything so far. Stupid. Lord knows how many companies I applied to with the wrong email address. Sigh. I eventually got called for a series of interviews and at the end of the process, not only did I get the job, I was the only one from my university that they hired which in itself was something of a wonder. And oh, the lady that spotted the email inconsistency will be my direct boss when I resume work and is also good friends with my former project supervisor. I see you, God. I see you. Thank you.

I’m glad for the life I have and the people that were part of it this year. I would mention your names if I were any less of a secretive person. But the truth is you already know yourselves. You especially. I thank God for you guys even though I cannot for the life of me understand what manner of madness makes you want to be friends with me. I’m glad for the music, the words, the equations, my brothers, the fortran codes, the stories, the movies, the breasts, the vodka, the friends, the suffering and the sun.

So out with the old and in with the new, for, to paraphrase the closing lines of the same classic book by Charles Dickens’

 “It is a far, far better thing that I will do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better year that I go to than I have ever known”

My 2011 movie roundup

As far as I am concerned, in the world of movies, 2011 is remarkable only for being so remarkably unremarkable. There were very few movies released this year that were worth the ticket price and running time but gladly, there were some. Let’s begin.

This year, more than ever before, Hollywood took the 3-D gimmick from an interesting and fun way to enhance the cinema experience and over flogged it until it became an annoying distraction. There were so many movies that looked good on screen but lacked coherent plot, character development or even bloody basic common sense.  The worst offender under this category was undoubtedly Transformers 3-D: The Dark Side of the moon where Michael Bay managed to ruin a plot premise with great potential and ended up producing a cornucopia of noise, light and bland one-liners. Another prime offender in the look-good-but-make-little-or-no-sense category was Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. In trying to be philosophical and produce something ‘cool’, he quite simply lost the bloody plot and gave us a barely-watchable 2 hour sequence of pretty imagery without conveying any sensible story along the way.

Beauty without brains was not the only plague upon Hollywood this year. There were a slew of sequels and remakes that failed to live up their originals (Ironically, some of the best movies this year were also sequels/remakes, but we’ll get to that later). I could not bring myself to watch the latest instalment of the Caucasian girl’s Bestiality vs. Necrophilia eternal struggle that is Twilight: Breaking Dawn but apparently it is one of the most poorly critically reviewed in the series. I’m not surprised. Based on the first instalments which I watched, I suppose it’s just more of what the fans have shown they want:  uneven storytelling, maudlin dialog and horribly one-dimensional acting with the occasional removal of shirts.

If the poster told the truth...

Conan the Barbarian was just a daft and unnecessary remake of the original Schwarzenegger movie. Although the original was not a triumph of cinema, it did have decent acting and managed to convey a sense of danger and adventure that this version lacks. To be fair, it begins decently enough; the first 20minutes or so are quite watchable but in the end it all devolves into meaning drivel more like a music video than an action adventure movie. Also in the sequel/remake offender list Scream 4 (help). Wes Craven could not inject new life into his own horror-movie-based-on-horror-movies sub genre. It was not entertaining in any way. I also didn’t bother seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie or the Three Musketeers remake. I could spot the mediocrity from a mile away. And err.. while I’m on the topic…. Spy Kids 4-D?! Seriously? Robert Rodriguez? Seriously? Why are you doing this to me? *sigh*And there was another Big Momma movie? Someone please stop Martin Lawrence.

ALSO! Can someone please beg Nicolas Cage to stop making movies? It’s just embarrassing now. If that fails can we organize an intervention to have him released from the calabash he is currently languishing in?

Thankfully, not all sequels/remakes were terrible. Some were actually quite decent and some were actually a joy to watch. In the ‘Decent’ category, there was The Hangover Part II (which quite honestly was just a re-hash of the first movie but still buckets of fun to watch), Kung Fu Panda 2, Paranormal Activity 3 and Fast 5. In the joy to watch category: X-men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the apes (ROTPOTA). When I first saw the preview for ROTPOTA, I laughed my head off thinking it would be another sequel/3-D debacle. I was wrong: spectacularly so. With a brilliant plot, some skilful directing – managing to balance the drama, action and romantic aspects near-perfectly and a tour-de force performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, the movie managed to hold me spellbound from start to finish. In the same vein, X-men: First Class managed to balance the action and drama quite well. I didn’t like the CGI in some places and some characters seemed extraneous but in the end, the movie ended up being highly entertaining especially with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s acting skill.

Immortals was one of the most anticipated movies of the later part of the year and although it was not a bad movie, it was quite disappointing. It looked beautiful and the fight scenes were epic but the movie is no 300. It seemed to lack a soul (probably because the story didn’t really make sense and doesn’t conform to any of the actual Greek myths of Theseus). That and the half-believable acting by its leads ensured the movie never lived up to the hype. Another movie that did not live up to its hype was Super 8. When you have J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg collaborate on a movie, you expect awesomeness to ensue. What we got instead was ‘not bad’. The best part of this movie to me was the train crash. Limitless on the other hand, was one of the most engaging action-thrillers released this year. The ending was a bit of a let-down but that takes away little from the greatness of the movie.

There were a few decent straightforward action movies as well. The mechanic was probably one of the best examples and is better, in my opinion, than the highly entertaining but ultimately predictable and cliché Colombiana. In Time, Justin Timberlake’s latest foray into acting was the epitome of mediocrity. Insidous was probably the scariest movie released this year which says everything that needs to be said about the Horror genre in 2011. Hanna, the story of a child assassin played to perfection by Saoirse Ronan was a movie I loved but a lot of people I spoke to about it complained about the choppy editing and drawn out action scenes. I guess I see their point but it’s still a very good movie.  Drive was a surprisingly violent action-drama that was quite interesting but perhaps could have been a bit more so in the hands of a better director. Ryan Gosling did put in an excellent performance.  Speaking of Ryan Gosling…

Crazy. Stupid. Love.  A movie that managed to escape the doldrums of stereotypical romantic comedy hell by combining at least 3 stereotypes and intertwining them skilfully and then populating the scenes with good actors. Surely one of the years better movies. Probably the most interesting racial drama of the year, The Help was a good movie by every standard. An interesting screenplay that managed to not lose itself in the major events of the period in which it was set. I especially like the ‘eating shit’ part of the story but I feel it glossed over some of the more touchy issues as though it was trying not to be depressing but in so doing, lost the potential for great drama in my opinion.

One of my joys this year was Red State. I was completely unprepared for this furiously directed Drama-Comedy-Horror-Thriller-Action hybrid with supernatural, political and philosophical undertones. With one of the most original stories and probably the most unpredictable ending of any movie this year, it was thoroughly engaging for me. Another engaging, unpredictable movie I saw was Super. This off-kilter story of a mentally unstable man, who decides to become superhero after being touched by the hand of God, is simultaneously funny and shocking. Melancholia, like all Lars von Triers movies is controversial and divides audiences. I enjoyed some parts of the movie, was confounded by some parts and completely hated some others. When all was said and done and the movie was finished, I was glad I saw it. It is certainly a unique work and contains what is probably Kirsten Dunst’s best acting role to date.

When it came to superhero movies, it was a hit-and-miss year I’ve already mentioned what I thought the biggest hit was. The biggest miss was unquestionably Green Lantern. When people call you from across the Atlantic to warn you not to watch a movie, you HAVE to take them seriously. I cannot review it because I could not bring myself to watch such an offence to the cinema, but Google reviews and you will see testimony from victims that did. Captain America and Thor were decent entries that were not as great as The Dark Knight or Iron man, but were good movies in their own right and set things up quite nicely for the Avengers movie next year.

If this year will be remembered for anything, it will be the continuous onslaught of politically incorrect, raunchy comedies. There were so many of them, one would be tempted to think that there was a Buy-one-get-one-free promo on raunchy comedy scripts in Hollywood. The Hangover Part II, The Change Up, Your Highness, Hall Pass, Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher, 30 minutes or Less but in my opinion, the most balanced, original and best of the lot was Bridesmaids. There were laughs to go round for everyone and I think Melisa McCarthy injected a dose of ridiculousness that was hard not to laugh at. The best thing about the movie was that it had more coherence than all the others aforementioned – every scene in the movie was relevant.

Oh! While we are talking about comedies, I wonder why we had to watch the same movie twice this year. No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits were basically the same thing. Ok…fine, Friends With Benefits was a much better movie but still…too predictable and cliché to be remarkable. Tower Heist was surprisingly entertaining though not remarkable either. Probably my worst cinema experience this year, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a critically acclaimed thriller that failed to thrill me in any way. Tricked by the preview, I went in accompanied by friends, expecting to see a few intense action scenes along with a brilliant, complicated plot with some superb acting. We got a lot of the latter but the former never came. It was basically a lot of men talking and looking severe. Great for the Oscar committee, bad for me.

If only the poster had been more honest

There was no action and consequently, no thrills. We ended up walking out before the movie ended. I’m sure if I had seen the movie on my own in my bed with glass of whiskey, I would have a different opinion but in a cinema? No good sir, the movie was a snooze fest. The Debt on the other hand was an expertly crafted thriller about a botched Mossad attempt to capture a Nazi and the ensuing cover-up. Brilliantly directed by John Madden, this was surely my favourite thriller of the year by far.

Other movies I should mention include: the ludicrous Johnny English Reborn, the slightly above average The Eagle, the decent Source Code, the interesting Adjustment Bureau, and the engaging fight-fest Warrior. There are a few other good movies that were released this year that I have not reviewed here, mostly because I haven’t seen them as at the time of writing or because they were, like the rest of the year, decent but unremarkable. The bad ones I tried to stay away from.

I have selected my top 10 movies of 2011. Feel free to share your thoughts and perhaps, your own top 10

1. Rise of the planet of the apes

2. Red State

3. Limitless

4. Bridesmaids

5. The Debt

6. Xmen: First Class

7. Super

8.  Crazy. Stupid. Love

9. The Help

10. 13 Assassins

Editors Notes: 

Those of you that know me may know that I’m  a huge movie lover. I wrote this review for myself and will share it on TheNakedConvos. Its my opinion and is meant to you thinking about the movies you loved this year. Maybe we can learn from each other. Share

(P.S.: Did you notice how I managed not to mention the name of the Hairy Potted Ogbanje Child movie? You did? Good. it’s intentional, let’s keep it that way. Thank you)

A Preview

Coming soon…

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There is a house that is not a house in the middle of nowhere, just a stone’s throw from everywhere and within walking distance from the imagination of a wise man. It is a sprawling construct that occupies no space and towers into the colourless skies above the realm that is not. It manifests as an octagon to those eyes that can see it, with a tower at each corner and one at the centre.

Behind this house there is a garden. This garden is occupied for the most part by a maze; only it is not really a maze for there are many entrances and many exits which are all the same. Those who can see enough of the garden at once know that the maze is but one entity, one tree – the tree of life. All mortals walk paths in this garden and are forced to choose, not once but a multitude of times as the paths fork, spiral, branch, reconnect and diverge. They walk under the scorching sun in the pitch black pathways of the garden, trudging forward with nothing but a lantern of hope to guide them and they leave nothing but footprints in the soil beneath their feet. There are always entities walking in this garden, most are mortal, some are not. Walking, from the night before creation till the day after the end of time and even beyond for the garden is more expansive than existence. The owner of the house is the tender of the garden and his name is Destiny.

Destiny is the first son of time and knows all her secrets. To those who can see him, he manifests as a long haired dirty old man, draped in grey robes and walking barefoot. His worn robe sweeps the mud and soil along the pathways as he walks through the garden, his garden. Destiny sees all paths, knows the outcome of all walks and observes the entities that wander through his carefully tended garden, trying to unravel his secrets. But Destiny would never tell anyone his secrets. Destiny keeps his secrets, for silence was the price of knowledge and absolute knowledge required absolute silence.

Destiny tends the garden of forking ways in which all – all that is, and all will be, and all that are not yet – choose their paths. He clears the paths that the preordained may occur as it was intended to occur. He has no path of his own. He makes no decisions. He has no choices. He does not encounter forking ways and does not select paths of discernment. His way is laid out, drawn for him by the Creator through endless eternity. Told to him by his mother.  Defined from the beginning of beginnings to the end of ends.

As Destiny walks through his garden at a time which is simultaneously today, yesterday and tomorrow he stops as he must in the spot where he should and watches as a wilted flower falls from a branch on the tree of the life which he has never pruned before. Destiny knows this branch well and knows what he must now do. He must call another family meeting… for one of them must die.

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A supernatural tale of things that be not as though they were. Inspired by the echoes of the gong first beaten by Neil Gaiman. Written in collaboration with six others. Keep an eye on what Afro Says 

The Game

How could the purest and most unlikely of loves beget Armageddon? How could the creator and overseer of the universe have let it happen? It is unfathomable; an abyss of reasoning that reveals no light. And yet, it has occurred.

I am sorry, I ramble.

My name is Michael and I have served at the helm of the Adelphi since the first fall. We, the Adelphi, are warrior angels. When Lucifer first challenged His authority, it was we who stared him down. We were the ones that fought him and his band of rebels to the edge of Celestia and threw them off the cliffs of Tiali into the pit of Hades. Ironic then, that it would be one of us that eventually undid the order we had fought so hard to establish and maintain.

He said it was love, the fool. Angels do not fall in love. They fall from grace and into the Pit of Disinheritance as everlasting penance. But it seems the two falls are one and the same. His name was Jardia, a being of valour, and he was the most senior guard on this side of the Eternity gate. You see, the eternity gate was the only pathway through which Lucifer could enter Celestia on those rare occasions when he was summoned to give account of himself. His cunning is limitless and as such, he was always subjected to a rigorous search.

It was on one such visit that he came with her; the demon-whore that stole Jardia’s loyalty. He claimed that they never spoke, that it must have been some sort of divine conspiracy; the mad love that overtook both of them the instant they laid eyes upon each other.

They hid in the caves of Tiali to lay with each other and somehow managed to return undetected. The implosion of Guaitar’s third moon was the only physical manifestation of their forbidden act. I know He saw it, yet kept silent, as He was wont to whenever events of cataclysmic proportions played out. Eventually, Jardia was summoned. When queried, he confessed and even professed his undying love for the whore.

I ordered the Adelphi to cast out their fallen brother but He stayed their hands. He told Jardia that the demon, Krtja was with child. He informed Jardia that Lucifer, fearing for his Kingdom, had decided to destroy Krtja and her unborn spawn by absorbing their essence. Jardia demanded to have his Love delivered from the hands of Morningstar. Demanded! from the Lord of hosts, creator of all that is seen and imagined. His faculty had obviously taken leave of him but the Lord looked past his impudence and simply said the words I would never forget: “I will not save her, but you may try. Go to the eternity gate and attempt her salvation. But know this. Once you cross it, the Kingdom of heaven shall be closed to you for eternity” I listened in shock and horror, itching to slay Jardia where he stood and let Lucifer do the same to Krtja and their hell spawn. I was restrained only by a lack of directive from the Throne.

Jardia agreed to this and crossed the Eternity gate to save his love and her unborn. He was greeted by an army of demons at the gates of hell. We watched from on high, expecting him to be shredded to pieces within moments, but he was possessed by love and fought like one of the Seraphim. I had not seen another fight so powerfully and passionately since the war preceding the fall of Lucifer.

His wings never ceased moving as he went about in a blur, slaying all who stood in his way. His white form was soon buried underneath the fragments of demon souls as rage overtook him. I wondered silently at the power this love seemed to give him. Perhaps this emotion could have been channelled to further the ends of Heaven.He persisted in slaying hell’s army, cutting a path to the centre where Lucifer sat on his throne, Krtja beneath his feet. After what seemed like an eternity of tireless, endless slaughter, Jardia stood before Lucifer in silent challenge. Lucifer offered Jardia “a more excellent” way; fight him for Krtja and the throne of hell. Jardia accepted. It was madness. I knew not why Lucifer made such a proclamation, for there was evidently no trickery in it, but I guessed it was just to drive Jardia to the edge of his rage and do something foolish. Jardia engaged Lucifer and lost his left arm instantly.

The fool.

Lucifer never fought fair. This I had learned the hard way at the battle of Tiali; the lightening scar on my left wing stands as eternal testament. But Jardia learned faster than I did, he had to. With his pain dulled by love, Jardia set upon the Morning Star in a ferocious attack. His strength of purpose of evident by the fervour with which he joined battle with the Morning star. The scales were suddenly tipped in Jardia’s favour when the pregnant and captive krtja broke free of her binds in a violent rage and joined the fray. Lucifer would have destroyed any two celestial creatures in fair duel, but these two were fuelled by a passion that had never been witnessed in Celestia and a rage that the fires of hell could not contend with. After a drawn out display of savagery and bravery from warring parties, Lucifer succumbed eventually to Jardia’s flaming blade. He was vaporized in a display of fire, blood and light as the Angels observed in shock.

*

When the time was fulfilled, we bore witness from Celestia as they birthed their abomination. I sensed its power and knew I had to destroy it before maturity set upon it. Yet, my hand was stayed. Jardia and Krtja named their seed Asifer and spoke boastfully of how he would become more powerful than the Almighty. I could take no more, this latest insolence finally clouded my senses and I disobeyed Him. I called six of my most trusted Adelphi Seraphim and snuck through the eternity gate into Sheoul.

Through the network of demon sentries and tormented souls, we went undetected, until we reached the subterranean chamber where the demon-child slumbered.

Before we could begin the procedure of slaying it, its mother happened upon us. Muriel was the youngest of us and the most impulsive, when the demon set upon us recklessly, he slew her without thinking. Her death-cry roused the attention of an elite advance guard and the child was spared as we had to flee.

I spent time awaiting reprisal from Jardia or admonition from the Lord but neither came and eventually, I began to forget the matter. Then came the time when I was roused from a meditation by Muriel, now my second-in-command in the Adelphi reporting a disturbance at the Eternity gate. My interest was piqued instantly, for it had been long since anything of note happened there. It had even been sealed on order from the Almighty. Jardia had not stepped foot into heaven all this while, and his realm was all but forgotten.

Fifty of us arrived at the gate to the sight of the slain gate-keepers. The gate to Celestia lay in a wreck, but that what was not drew our attention. Standing in front of the destroyed portal was Jardia, and beside him was the most beautiful and glorious creation I had ever seen.

Asifer, his son.

He was a being of pure light. Nine wings surrounded his great form…and his face…his face was like…like…His face.

It was obvious this wasn’t a courtesy visit, for in Asifer’s hand was a sword that had been bloodied by contact with the gate-keepers. The Adelphi not given to negotiation and as such, we instantly made ready for battle as we went into formation. From behind Asifer came a torrent of Hell’s soldiers, the elite…and battle was joined. Muriel, unthinkingly went straight for Asifer even while I considered the measure of his power, and was cut down with a speed and violence which I can hither to not fathom. His beheaded body was flung in my direction, a sign of contempt.

Our hands were full with the slaying of Hell’s elite warriors, while Asifer and father Jardia flew ostensibly in the direction of the Throne-room. I thought to myself “surely He will strike them down himself for their insolence”. My attention was again drawn to my adversaries, for more soldiers kept joining the battle on both sides, for Alchemel the crier had sounded his gold trumpet. This was War.

The memory of that battle brings dread upon me for it turned out more furious than the battle after Lucifer’s fall. Finally, when we had slain enough of the enemy to give ourselves chance to head towards the Throne-room, we did so in urgency. Wonderment was our lot.

The Throne Room was covered in darkness. This had never been so since I became a transient being. The Almighty was not upon his throne; Asifer was, while Jardia stood beside him with a defiant smile.

For the first time since my creation, I knew fear. The unfathomable had occurred: He was not on his throne and I did not feel His presence. I shouted orders to the valiant Orieni to take half the forces and defend the entrance while I and the rest of the Adelphi elite stayed to do battle with Asifer and his father.

We proceeded, swords aflame, to form a semi-circle and gradually approach the throne, the usurper, Asifer, our target. He remained seated, his father by his side, until we had him at the centre of our advance and then he rose with a great authority and engaged us. His ease of movement and sheer strength was astounding. The battle was most furious. The child was surely a greater adversary than Lucifer had ever been and if we were any fewer in number or less practised in our formation; he would surely have slain us all. Thinking back now, I realized it was not his intention to bring us to our end, for it was within his power. After all, he had dethroned…Him

The speed and power with which he fought was unlike any other in Celestia and more intense than I had seen Jardia wield against Lucifer. It was the manner in which I imagined the Great one himself would engage an enemy. After what seemed to be an age of struggling to hold our ground and keep our lives, defending ourselves from the onslaught, Jardia moved for the first time since the engagement, raising his hand and shouting

“Enough!”

Asifer paused mid-swing, launched into the air in a flurry and returned to the throne. I simmered within myself, wishing that He would return and put this insolent demon-spawn in his place. I knew I could not do it on my own and deep within me I feared He was truly gone, fallen at the hands of this thing.

And then Jardia spoke the words that established the peace as it is now “You know all is lost, Michael, you know as I know that my vengeance is complete”. Muriel, who slew my queen, has been seen to and He has been destroyed. Now, I have all of creation in my authority but I do not want it. I shall yield to you Michael. Take this throne and keep your Celestia. I no longer call it home. I shall return home to Sheoul with my son and reign there. Do not interfere in our matters, we administer as we see fit. The old order shall continue as best it can, for I see no reasonable alternative. The damned shall continue to be punished, as the just are rewarded. We shall continue eternity as it was set in motion to be”

My mind circled around something he said

”…He has been destroyed.” How was that even possible? He was the Beginning and the End

As the words took leave of Jardia’s mouth, I ruminated on them and knew in that instant that he spoke the truth and his words seemed to be the only path of reason in this inextricably convoluted maze of madness that we had found ourselves. I looked at the child, Asifer, still seated on HIS throne as I spoke the words.

“Let us make truce…”

And that is how I came to sit uneasily on this throne, overseeing the affairs of Celestia while Jardia sits comfortably on a throne of his own, overseeing the underworld with his son by his side, as I once stood beside the Lord. Every moment of time available to me is spent trying to understand the sequence of events that led to this state of affairs and often, I think back to the words Jardia first uttered when He was summoned to give account of himself after his tryst with the demon-whore.

“It must have been a divine conspiracy”

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OBLIVION

The image of Michael upon the throne faded as He gestured with his hand. Satisfaction settled upon his features. A new order shall begin here, in this darkness that is Oblivion. Chaos shall reign once again, and from it, order shall manifest. But first, they must draw conclusions about this latest adventure, they must draw conclusion, even for the seventh time.

“A good show you put up during your Fall, Lucifer. If I didn’t know better, I would have believed you really wanted to oust me from that Heaven”.

“Ah, well you did not exactly create idiots. My strength of purpose could not risk being doubted by the Adelphi. It was a close one there at the end too. Jardia wouldn’t cease talk of a divine conspiracy. Good thing that Michael is completely loyal”

“Yes,” said the first “it would have been quite awkward, after six Universes, to have a creation suddenly divine the Truth”

“So what is next?”

“Well. We still have all eternity brother. We ARE eternity.”

“Perhaps we could have a universe where I actually win? Being a rebel is tiring you know, having to give all those rebellious speeches in that weird language”, he sighed, “so any exciting new variable this time around?”

“Oh yes, I’ve been wanting to see how making the angels reproduce with the humans would play out. It will be essentially the same universe as before, but the humans will become more “in the picture”. I predict this shall be exciting to observe”

“ah, once more order shall be made manifest from the Chaos that is at the beginning of all things”, he stared at his brother, ”Let us get to it”

*****************************************

…And He said, Let there be light.

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Editors Note: 

This story was born of an idea I had after reading the graphic novel ‘Preacher’. I co-wrote it with @Ekwem who is also a fan of the graphic novel. It was originally posted on his blog earlier this year. Some would say it is blasphemous. I beg to differ. It is fiction and should be enjoyed thus. 

Three Cheers for Pain and Poetry

I Dream of Earthquakes

When I am stressed I dream of earthquakes.

These earthquakes usually happen in my room.

Everytime I try to escape them but I never succeed.

So maybe being awake is better than being asleep.

Or is it? No, it isn’t. NO IT ISN’T!

I also experience earthquakes when I am awake.

Everytime I try to escape them but I never succeed

These ones are far worse than my dream earthquakes.

They take the form of envious eyes, evil hearts, fake smiles,

fear, cold stares, confusion, madness, missed deadlines,

guilty memories not laid to rest,

ghosts tormenting my imagination, painful words, phobia,

diseases of the mind, darkness, voices dancing in my head,

violence, loneliness, lost legacies.

So I fight an endless raging battle. No, two endless raging battles

One battle in the mind, one outside it. The world persecutes me.

Dad said ‘choose your battles’ but how could I choose this time?

These battles, these afflictions were forced on me.

I was chosen for this but not given a choice.

There’s not even one ‘kiss from a rose’ to ease the pain.

So these sobs turn into angry screams.

I scream, I wail, I call, I plead, I pray, I wait

But no one hears me because their ears are blocked by selfishness.

To them, success is all that matters

I hoped my psychiatrist would hear my desperate screams

But I guess he was too distracted by his own problems

O death, where is thy sting so I can be saved by it?

O grave, where is thy victory? Redeem me!

When I am stressed I dream of earthquakes and it’s painful

But my pain has become my paradise; a necessary evil

An escape from the far more painful experience of being awake.

**************************************************************************************************************

The Dancer

Step after step, sweat flowing

Heart pounding, gyrating to the beat

Left, right, centre, backwards, forwards

All around heads nodding to the beat

Clapping to the rhythm, feet tapping

The audience would scream for an encore

Didn’t they always? They want more

Nobody understood, the truth always out of their grasp

He had understood, he had grasped the truth

He was gone, why remember him

Remember that night of intensity

Nothing like it ever again

Gone like all the rest

They always left, everybody

Once the pain reared its head, each ran

The demons chased them away

No happiness for this dancer

Riding out the last couple of chords

This was it, it was here,

the pain became fierce

Here the anger became fire

Head up, teeth bared, tears always there

It was at the end now, tears flowing

Step after step, sweat flowing

Here was the end of the dance

Encore! Encore! Encore!

****************************************************************************************************

Self Love

Everybody says ‘love your self’

Nobody sees how hard it is

How much pain suffocates the body

Never really looking behind the white teeth and the flirtation

Beyond the laughter and the chirpy attitude

Its so much easier to love another

To devote everything to another

Heart, soul and spirit is theirs

Loving oneself requires so much

Opening jars and jars of tears

Upturning buckets of pain

Soul searching, finding one’s true self

Things so hard, things impossible

Courage to fight for another is abundant

Happiness at others achievements overflowing

‘Be happy for yourself’ they say

Happy about what?

Standing in front of a mirror

Taunts and jeers remembered

Stupid, Ugly, Whore, Skinny, Bitch…

anger and tears eagerly looking for release

Where can happiness be found?

How do you find peace when all your being is at war?

When will a smile be real?

From the soul, complete, in your eyes

Happiness, so far away, such a rarity, such a treasure

Letting go? Why is it so damn hard?

Happiness! Why so fucking elusive?

*************************************************************************************************************************

Editors Note:

These three poems were written by ladies who wish to remain anonymous. Kindly leave a comment for them. 

Brethren, ye are not Kanye of the West

(and even if you are you probably shouldnt be… so much)

Kanye Omari West #Boss

I refer to him as a regular guy gone awesome. He is immensely talented and hardworking, of that, there is also no doubt. It is evident from the sheer quantity and quality of material he has put out in what has been a relatively short career so far. He is no Adonis, his face is not one known to make ladies swoon and wet themselves with lust but it isn’t hard to look at either. Some would even say he is quite handsome but I know nothing of these things.

Sidebar: As far as male hotness goes, there are only two numbers on my scale: Normal and hideous. If you are not hideous, then you are normal. I know the ladies will be doing YIMU for me right now but I’ll see your YIMU and raise you a YIMU in 3D with Dolby surround sound. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it

Kanye has overcome what many would consider a trying situation (his parents got divorced when he was three) to become arguably the most successful and versatile artists in the music business today. He is creative, deep and intellectual. Abundant evidence of this can be found in his styles and lyrics. And oh, yes his is quite rich. He’s ranked third in Forbes’ Hip hop rich list, second only to the Baba Agba’s of the business JayZ and Diddy and ahead of some othe Egbons’ in the game Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre as well as the apparently now omnipresent evil spirit of Hip Hop – Lil Wayne.

Sidebar: Is it just me or does it seems like Lil Wayne is featured on every song out from the last two years? I could have sworn I heard him drop a verse on Vic-O’s Enigma. Nigga be appearing everywhere. Anyway, we must thank God for small mercies. At least it’s not Wacka Flocka Flame or Soulja boy.

Anyway, quite simply put, Kanye West is one of us, just awesome-r. But despite being one of the most talented people in the business today, sadly, he suffers from a mutant strain of an illness that has plagued members of the human race (especially the men) for a long time and is spreading at an alarming rate.

Its symptoms are in no particular order: Delusions of awesomeness, excessive swelling of the ego, unwarranted paranoia, a constant sense of persecution and the feeling that “niggas can’t tell you nothing”.  Kanye seems to be the celebrity flag bearer of the new strain of the disease. Although it is by no means an epidemic, it is spreading with every passing day. I will call it Kanye-ism. And yes, it is named after Kanye West.  Sweetness. I named a disease.

Sidebar: Isnt that just clever of me! Kanye-ism/Kanye West? That just pure creativity! Can I get a fistbump in the house? An Amen? Something?… Wait, what is this? The dictionary already came up with a name for it: Obnoxiousness. Hold up, hell no dawg! Why the dictionary gotta go steal my shine yo? 😥 Webster aint nothing but a hater. Y’all can’t tell me nuthin’. Its Kanye-ism yo! Obnoxiousness is white man’s hate speech.

Sadly, a lot of young men these days have latched onto this persona and walk around thinking that this is normal acceptable behavior. Obnoxiousness Kanye-ism is not normal behavior. It is disgusting and stupid.

For example, it’s in the nature hip hop business to brag about yourself but Kanye takes bragging to a whole other level. His lyrics are full of statements alluding to his perceived sense of self awesomeness. So far, no real problem. There is nothing wrong with thinking you are the best out there but to storm out of the building when others don’t agree with you is just downright childish and inane. There are a multitude of other examples but…

Sidebar: I don’t need to bring up the various mic-snatching incidents and ‘Kanyegate’ again do I? I’d much rather not. Suffice it to say that even Barrack Obama thought he was and I quote “…a jackass” for that.  Google it if you have to.

KanyeGate according to Shakespeare

And then there’s the bitterness towards his ex and the insults, subs and songs to and about her. That just reeks of obnoxiousness and pettiness. There’s no evidence (that I know of) to show she did anything to wrong him except refuse to be neglected when he decided to focus on his album and ignore her. I’m sure in the Kaniverse*, she should have stayed like a good planet and revolved around him because well…he is Kanye.

Sidebar: I’m not much of a gossip so this is the limit of my knowledge of their relationship issues. Feel free to correct me. And no, I do not consider trawling trough gossip sites to be ‘research’.

But of course, Kanye being Kanye, he gets away with it because he is a regular guy, only more awesome. And we all know that awesomeness beats normal behavior every day of the week and twice on Sundays. One hugely successful album, a series of features on hit songs and a collaboration with Jay-Z later, all his sins have been more or less washed away. Regular humans usually do not get away with these things so easily. Try it. At your next company Christmas party when they are about to give an award to the employee of the year, pull a Kanye and snatch the mic from your CEO and say something like

‘Yo, Chief Adedokun, imma let you finish but Uchechi is the best employee of all time’. See how long it takes HR to type your sack letter. I guarantee a record.

And of course, there are the innocent people who were caught in the wake of Kanye’s Ego passing by. Some were really hurt by all his ridiculous outbursts and tirades. Those he accused of being racists, that poor singing Tailor girl, his former business partner…I’m sure there are more. In my opinion, once your ego begins to have a negative impact on other people’s lives, it’s gotten too big.

I leave charred remains in my wake. I'm a boss

I don’t want to turn this into a Kanye bashing exercise because, well because I really like Kanye and all that jazz so here is a short emergency kit to help prevent Kanye-ism

  1. Be just confident enough to feel good about yourself but not so much that you make others feel bad about themselves. They will resent you for it and you may never be forgiven except…well…except you are Kanye.
  2. Don’t keep telling people how rich and important you are, they should already know. And if they don’t, then they should be able to tell…Besides, you are not Kanye. Everybody already knows Kanye.
  3. Not everybody is a Hater. Some people are genuinely trying to correct you…everybody could do with some improvement and correction…well maybe except Kanye.
  4. Avoid publicly insisting that you are better than anyone else, it just makes you look kind of pathetic since..well… since you are not Kanye.
  5. Never ever refer to yourself as being persecuted by the media or any other imaginary enemies. Even if you are, just deal with them and don’t make noise about it. Don’t randomly accuse people of trying to marginalize or swindle you. It makes you seem like a paranoid idiot and you lose respect…well…unless you are Kanye.
  6. Don’t speak evil of people you were once in love with unless they have genuinely wronged you. By genuinely wronged, I mean done something so terrible that you feel compelled to warn others about it. Breaking up with you for any of your flaws or actions does not qualify. Mutually agreed separation for any reason also doesn’t count.  It’s petty and childish…even if you are Kanye.
  7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Just don’t. It makes you seem kinda like a doushebag (jackass according to Obama)…even if you are Kanye.
  8. Calm down. You are not that important. You are most assuredly not Jesus….yes…even you Kanye.
  9. Don’t brag about how good you are in bed or how many people you have had carnal knowledge of. Let them do that for you. Well, unless you are Kanye. Then you can just make a song about it  (By the way, Kanye, abeg make song about how good the sex with Amber Rose is na, the pictures of her ‘rosegarden’ are just delectable! Can’t believe you let that fresh ’garden’ get away yo! That riff-raff Wiz is now hitting that? Damn…)
  10. Don’t dress like you just rediscovered the joys of poster color. Kanye gets away with it because he is Kanye. You on the other hand are being judged.

Before the Voltrons unite and instigate Jihad against me, I would have you all know that I am a huge Kanye West fan.  A huge fan. A ginormous fan. A “Bitch-I-will-cut- you-if- you-touch-my-‘My dark twisted fantasy’-CD” type of fan. I love his music. So this is not anti-Kanye propaganda. It’s a simple appeal to my fellow men (And some women) to dial back on the obnoxious behavior. Actions speak louder than words. You may indeed be rich, intelligent, good-looking, incredibly talented and all round generally awesome but that’s no reason to rub it in everyone’s faces and act as though your opinion is worth more than theirs and you deserve better than everyone else. You are not the only awesome person out there. Besides, there is a little thing called hubris. You would do well to fear it…even if you are Kanye Omari West.

The ego has landed.

Editors Note:

I originally wrote this for TheNakedConvos at the request of @thetoolsman. He edited it and the edit was posted there. This is the full original draft I wrote before the edit. Consider it a directors cut of sorts. I hope you enjoyed it. 

Au bord de l’existence

(At the edge of existence)
Standing at the edge of my life, peering over the cliffs of existence
Unsure where I would take up eternal residence
Meaningless nothing or endless bliss, perhaps pain everlasting
At least I could smile for the fragments of my humanity I had retrieved
I made my peace. Apologized to the people I had hurt and despised.
Some laughed, some rejoiced at my perceived senility, some actually cried.
But it mattered not, It was for me, my soul was weary with the burden of a thousand sins.
I had finally let go. I could no longer hold on to all the regret.
Regret for the golden jubilee that should have been marked with celebration
But was laced with so much pain my soul shook in convulsion
Mistakes of years past staring back at me in the mirror
When did love and beauty degenerate into such horror?
I know I hurt the ones I love,
And I had to right my wrongs no matter what happened
Wrong decisions that set me on a path of self-destruction
Like the decision to do whatever it took to rise above my peers
Shouldering responsibilities beyond what was possible, in spite of the tears
And so I forsook my many blessings to pursue the mirage of more
Faith made me move mountains,wisdom made me stronger
Opportunities in the midst of distress made me tougher
A worthy sacrifice of pleasure, to secure a legacy of achievements in torrents
Desperately trying to hold on to the success I had once shared with a family
The family she gave me…
She whose inner beauty money could not buy
Flesh of my flesh, I had worn my heart on my sleeves and sold it for the charm of an angel
The romance of youth in love fused with dreams woven from a spell
Never had I felt such passion that overshadowed early years of mistakes
Reproduction was necessary, raising our offspring was fraught with agony
The vices of a first son brought back painful memories
A broken home displayed the shards mirrored by my broken heart
What really did tear us apart?
And so my thoughts made me weary, as I walked along memory lane
past my inner mind’s city streets, dim-lit, they were so shadowed with grief
I shook with tears when I recalled the early days of youth
The challenges of life dealing me blow after blow, ever so rough
My tears mixed with my dreams, an elixir with a bittersweet taste
But it made me strong with a confidence that little could shake
I was once a naïve young man looking forward to a life of pure bliss
I had a plan for my life, a map, drawn with ink of good intentions
I had mapped out a plan of action, a map with an unknown destination
Yet with every obstruction, came small deviations
And still I carried on, wondering what indeed lay yonder?
The teenage years had been filled with confusion and wonder
The mysteries of my own body and others I did ponder
Drawn to explore everything by a strange and powerful curiosity
Constantly trying to live responsibly when irresponsibly called to me so sweetly
The will to succeed, to please those who mattered, to live a good life
wrestled daily with the consuming fires of lust, the green fangs of envy
The germinating seeds of careless character planted early
As then confused, soon to be consolidated
But there was then no consolidation in the mind of a child
the harbinger of both sorrow and joy.
The seeds that would yield a harvest of emotions for me were sown early.
The seemingly benign acts of parents that lived fearfully
The rod and the staff that did not comfort me but dealt harsh retribution
for every perceived transgression.
At least I was not alone then…
I was surrounded by friends with whom I shared the joys of discovery
We stole kisses from girls, Morsels of meat from pots.
Learnt to reason, absorb information and thoughts.
Such benign beginnings, I remember when we played together, smiling.
But into this world we each came alone
Escaping from the ocean that did not drown
Breaking the chain that did not bind
Coming to seek that which we did not know how to find.
Alone we came.
Alone I came.
And now, alone, empty-handed and naked,
Liberated from the weight of my world, I must return.
And so I stand here smiling, at the edge of my life
waiting to fall off the cliffs of existence.
*********************************************************************************************************************************************
Editors Note:
This poem was written by myself and @awizzi for the amazing Decades project on Afro says to me. It was meant to capture stages of a mans life as seen from the end in order to complement the style of the stories. We hope it did.