Hesaves Productions

Welcome to Hesaves Productions, the official place to find the musings, rantings and works of fiction by Jonathan Moy.  Please come back soon as exciting things are on their way.

Why You Should See Vienna Teng with Me: Part III

November 20th is two weeks away, and that gives me little time to convince you to see  Vienna Teng with me.  So this week, I'll throw a curve ball at you in my convincing tactics.  You should see Vienna Teng with me because of Alex Wong.

Alex Wong, you say?  The dancer?  No, not that Alex Wong.   The Alex Wong I have in mind is Vienna' drummer, the producer on her album "Inland Territory," and singer/song writer in his own right.  If you were an observant little bee, you would have noticed a few weeks ago that he co-wrote "The Breaking Light" with Vienna.  Anyways, he's opening for her on the 20th, and I shall present you with a very nice song of his.

The Fighter  (after clicking the link, choose the track, naturally)

I'll be the first to admit that Alex doesn't have one of those amazing voices that will render you speechless, but it's still very pleasant.  As well, his songwriting is very much in the same vein as Vienna's, and that's something I absolutely appreciate.  So this song, "The Fighter" is not to be confused with similarly named songs from The Fray, Gym Class Heroes or Bon Jovi.  However, the title itself invokes a very familiar theme to songs -- getting knocked down and fighting to get back up.  In our American society, it's a very admirable trait because that's usually the point of view of the underdog.

The thought reminds me of an apparent Japanese proverb, "Fall down seven times and get up eight times."  Resilience is a virtue, and this video is what comes to mind when I hear that.  In any good story, you have the protagonist take a dark turn or run into adversity in the second act.  By the third act, there's the hero's triumphant return.  Think "Star Wars" and where Luke is at the end of "Empire" and where he is in "Return of the Jedi."

Despite all those preconceived notions of what it means to be a fighter and what it means to not give up....continue being strong, what I love about this song is the fact that it flips that idea on its head.  What if the fighter is resisting something that's good, like a relationship?  That's something that's powerful.  We can build all these walls to protect ourselves when the best thing can be to just surrender to the scary thing that looms over us -- in a good way.  And that's a beautiful idea to me.  Come and see Alex and Vienna with me. 


Why You Should See Vienna Teng With Me: Part II

Okay, so on November 20th, Vienna Teng is finally returning to Seattle to support her new album.  So that gives me about three weeks to convince you why it is in your best interest to see Vienna Teng with me.  Last week, we covered a very comforting song in The Breaking Light.  Today, we will go with sad songs because they are, indeed, my favorite.  In case I wasn't clear last time, the link will be in the title of the song in the header.


This is VT at her best.  Thematically, the song is about a break up, and that subject has been covered a million times a million through the history of song and story.  What Vienna does best though is to drape that theme in metaphor and beautiful imagery to give you something you don't expect.  In the case of this song, it's looking at the state of a relationship after the break up and comparing it to the flat endlessness of the landscape of Kansas.  "Our cities of clouds" and "our house of cards" -- these are the dreams and history that's built up in a relationship and then so jarringly laid flat on the table like Kansas. 

Yet the biggest reason why I love this song is because even though it is a sad song, it doesn't go the emo route of trying to show you the hurt or finding someone to blame.  As she says, "It's not regret, Just an unexpected accounting of debts, Only now called, No it's not regret, Just a remembrance is all, Of how close we had come."  In a sense, it is a sad song in the most clinical sense -- it's a haunting lament of what had happened without trying to get back to where they were.

This is why you should see Vienna Teng with me.  The music is beautiful, and although it's a sad song, you aren't punched in the face with the raw emotion of sadness, bitterness or anger.   It's just the blessed numbness of what is and what was. 



Why You Should See Vienna Teng With Me: Part I

Okay, so on November 20th, Vienna Teng is finally returning to Seattle to support her new album.  Last week, I posted my very pretentious blog about what I like about music, and at the very pinnacle of that list is VT.  (Yes, I will be trademarking that clearly original and inventive nickname quite soon.)  I'm going to try to convince you why you should see Vienna Teng with me. 

  1. First, she's awesome. 
  2. Second, there's no lip syncing or prerecorded bits at all.  It's actually quite fascinating how she uses a looper in imaginative and unique ways for her live shows.
  3. Third, the show is only $23 bucks before dumb servicing fees.  That's like a half or a third of your normal mainstream concerts and is three times better and funnier. 
  4. Fourth, clearly you would enjoy my company. 

How you aren't convinced by those four very important points is beyond me.  By the way, you can find the link for tickets to the show here.  However, if you are still not thoroughly convinced of the double rainbowness of this event, let me further pontificate.  For the next couple or gazillion weeks, I'll feature a Vienna Teng song that I feel might be able to swing you to my side.  The first one is The Breaking Light  off of her new album, Aims.  

The Breaking Light

You can find out about the origin of the song here, so I won't bother to recap that.  Needless to say, it's a song about being lost and finding your way back to where you belong.  I won't be like those pompous English lit nerds on songmeanings.com that try to give you their interpretation of what the song is about and pretend that anyone's interpretation is the right one.  Sorry, but I don't believe in relativism.  The author's intent of the song is what the song means.  However, how the song makes you feel is quite another story. 

And what I will tell you about The Breaking Light is that it makes me feel safe.  No matter how crappy the situation is around you, there is a thread that will lead you back home.  Whatever that thread is .... love from your friends, family and significant other .... love from your Savior .... love for your country .... I think that it's important to have that in your life.  You need that safety net, that call that steers you to the right place -- especially in these uncertain times. 

It's hard for our graduates to find a job in the fields they've prepared for.  It's hard to find love.  It's hard for us to want to provide for our families but not sure how to do it.  It's hard for us to be sure that the path we are on is the right one.  It's hard for us to do the right thing when the wrong thing is easier and has less "inconveniences."  It's hard to pursue your dreams and keep going once you get knocked on your butt.

So remember your way back home.  There is something, someone, ... Someone ... that sets you back on the right track.  My favorite part of this song is at 2.26 when that instrumental shows up.  There's something about it that gives me a sense of wonder and hope.  It tells me that there's still somewhere I need to be even though this rut I might be in now has me running in place.  Don't lose heart no matter how bad it looks, how bad it feels.  There is always hope as long as you know where to look.


I Hate the Bands You Like

So if you know me at all, you quickly come to realize that I hate a lot of stuff.  Whether it be food, music, TV shows, movies, books, people or whatever, I can be very opinionated, and that's the understatement of the year.   This is absolutely why I had to buy this shirt.

I'd like to quantify that hate, however.  First of all, especially when it comes to people, I don't truly hate them like wishing them harm or death.  (For example, I don't wish bad things on Dwight Howard.  I just don't want him to have success in his career.  Of course, this is now muddled by the fact that he's with Houston right now, and I wish all the success for Jeremy Lin.)  In general, when I say I hate something, I simply think that it is overrated or simply not good.  Perhaps I'm maturing to the point that I try not to deride anyone who likes the thing.  As well, I try my best to have a reason why I don't like things and have undergone a lot of suffering in order to be justified in my opinion.

For example, I forced myself to read the first Twilight  book.  I torture myself with listening to Selena Gomez and Ke$ha on the radio in the car.  I rolled my eyes through three episodes each of Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.  I literally try to experience things and inflict emotional scars on myself for the sake of science. 

However, I've come to realize that people like what they like, and for the most part, who am I to mock someone for their tastes?  (I can still look condescendingly down at them silently, right?)  People have different reasons for liking different things, even if it baffles me to no end.  One thing I don't want to be is that irrational hater that brings other people down by being negative all the time.  (Not there yet, but I'm trying), and a few steps in that direction is the aforementioned making sure I know what I hate things and having things that I like.  No one wants to meet that guy that hates everything and likes nothing.  That's annoying and pretentious. 

So let's talk about something I like -- music.  Again, I understand that taste is subjective, but I won't be THAT guy that says, "OMG, how have you not heard of band x, and why don't like you like band x?"  I like the things that I like, and I'll always encourage other people to like the things I like as well.  However, I will not be offended if you don't like it.  My tastes are usually different and non-mainstream for the most part.  But let's talk about this. 

The most important thing about songs for me is what the song is trying to say.  As a creative person, the story in things is most interesting to me.  The songs and artists I like should be speaking about things worthwhile in the human experience.  Love, love lost, stepping away from a bad situation into freedom, finding out who you are......these are the types of things that have a message and makes you feel something.  A lot of times, there's a narrative going in the story that really impacts me.  I never understood frivolous songs about partying, spouting how great you are or just having a good time.  If that's your bag of tea, more power to you, but I find that pointless.  Counter point, for these reasons, I should like country music, but I really don't.  There are limits to the type of music I can bear, and country doesn't do it for me.

I love the piano and a female voice.  I seriously think that's my weakness.  There are still some male voices that I like, but in general, female voice is preferable.

Sad songs over happy songs.  I don't know what it is about happy songs that I cannot stand, for the most part.  I guess part of it is that I resent happiness.  I find it boring.  Before you go and accuse me of being emo, I'd like to tell you that it's not true.  When I think of emo, I think of the type of person that seeks out sadness and frustration, and relatively blames the reason for the source of that sadness or anger on someone else.  I'm more of an introspective type of person where the sadness ought to be self-inflicted or even if someone else is the cause, there isn't a lot of bitterness.  Sadness is just more interesting.  I suppose many people might count hopeful songs as happy songs, but I figure it's more like sad songs that look towards the possibility of happiness.  Happy songs really start in a place of happiness and are usually very cringe-inducing in terms of creativity of craft.

The music and beats of a song are secondary.  Like I said, there are some formats I just can't get over -- like country, but what the songs is about is more important than the music itself.  The music can absolutely enhance a song, but if the lyrics are repetitive or meaningless, that's usually a strike.  There are exception, however.  From time to time, there are songs that either repetitive or nonsensical, but the sheer awesomeness of the music overshadows the negatives.

Songs, for the most part, need lyrics and words.  Unfortunately, this rules out classical music and jazz for the most part.  I usually need context for songs, and lyrics are verbal indicators for that context usually.  From time to time, there are some soundtracks and such that are so bonded with imagery from a movie that I have a sentimental attachment for those instrumentals, but usually I have a hard time focusing on music without lyrics.  It's not that I hate classical music, but I don't prefer it. 

I generally prefer singer/songwriters.  I don't know what it is, but when I know that the singer of a song generally writes all their own music/songs, that pleases me.  There is a stigma when you have someone else write your songs that makes that singer seem more artificial and factory made in my eyes.  That person is not a true artist to me. 

For the love of all that is decent and lovely in the world, stop covering other people's songs.  Unless your version is somehow better than the original, and usually it's not, don't do it.  I'm trying not to look at everyone of you on Youtube, but again, this goes along with the previous point. 

So hopefully that wasn't TOO pretentious.  Again, I realize that my tastes are simply that, my tastes, and I realize that they aren't mainstream.  I'll live with that.  So, now you've seen the things that I like in my music.  Why do you like the things you like?  I'd like to hear why.


Can We Live Without The Violence in Football?

You may have noticed the biggest controversy going in the National Football League isn't regarding the "screw job" the replacement refs did on the Packers last year on Monday Night Football, (spoiler, still not the worst call in the world), but rather on the effects of concussions on the brains of people playing football.  It's a lot of scary stuff out there about the effects of concussions, and with the speed and strength of the athletes in today's game, it's almost a certainty on any given Sunday a player or two will have a concussion

If you are unfamiliar with the topic, you can find articles like this one at Grantland or the source of the article, a book called League of Denial,  upon which a documentary by the same name is the reason concussions and football are a hot read this week.  This book/documentary paints the NFL as the mustache twirling bad guys who are refusing to admit that concussion can have long term health impacts all in the name of PR and saving money on lawsuits and such even though they allegedly covered up that fact.  I'm not going to go into that, though generally I would think that my distrust for Big Business/Corporations would fit this point of view.  However, that's a story for another time.

What I wonder, in light of all this new information, is how I feel about football.  American football, or gridiron football, is absolutely the number one sport in America by a far margin.  (Sorry, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer and curling.)  It's a multi-billion dollar business to be sure with all the hardcore fandom, gambling, fantasy football and everything.  I love football, and some of my only earliest memories as a kid were rooting for the New York Giants in the 80's.  But the cat is out of the bag, and there are several example of former players suffering health and mental problems because they played football in a hardnosed era before anyone knew about concussions.  You were more likely told to walk it off and keep playing.  The image of Willis Reed coming back into the Knicks game is the iconic symbol of what it means to play hurt and play tough. 

But we know better now.  Especially when it comes to the matters of the brain, we need to be more careful, and because of those truths, should we be allowing our kids to be playing football?  Should we still be vociferously supporting the NFL product if indeed they have been as negligent as has been reported?  Those are tough questions at least for me because of my stances on other things. 

I refuse to pay for a Seattle Mariners'  on principal because they backdoored approval for Safeco Field when the voters decided they did not want to fund the stadium.  I boycotted the Madden football video game franchise because they got exclusive licensing for the NFL and therefore created a monopoly.  I voice my displeasure about college sports and how hypocritical it is that they make so much money off the student-athletes and then don't take care of them in terms of keeping them accountable for their education or letting them make even a little bit of money for their talents. 

But this issue with the NFL is different.  I love the NFL, and I don't yet know how to practically integrate what I know now with how I feel.  Should I start boycotting the NFL until they 'fess up to their cover ups?  Should I let them off the hook because the athletes know what they are getting into and signed up for it?  Does it make me a hypocrite when I cheer for the big hits?  That's a lot of things to figure out, and yet it has to start somewhere, right?   

For sure, there has been an effort to make the sport safer like this program that teaches kids how to tackle properly so they don't get themselves into vulnerable positions.  College, high school and youth football has made more of an effort to use safer mouth guards and helmets, but a big influence will come from the professional athletes who still resists some of these changes because the safer equipment doesn't look as cool.  Obviously there's a lot of work to go around in terms of making football safe enough to the point were it's not going to be looked upon by future generations as bloody gladiator games. 

But again, what is my part in all of this?  What can I do?  I'm not sure yet, but as GI Joe taught us, "Knowing is half the battle."  But that still leaves half of something else to do. 


EPC: Victim of Fate

This is the first installment of an infrequent series I'll be doing from time to time called "Emo Poetry Corner."  I will share sad thoughts with you in an attempt to make you sad as well.  Of course, I say this tongue-in-cheek because the sad things are only a smaller part of the whole picture, but I feel it's important to express those thoughts regardless.  This one I wrote almost five years to the day.  Enjoy!

Victim of Fate


The stars were aligned in array,

I thought I could see the way.

The path to possible friendship –

Possibly more if the cards came out right.

That was all I dreamt for –

A chance to be the one for her.

I thought I could beat the odds,

And lift this curse I’m under.


Plan for love as you may.

Rely on hope to carry the day.

Wait for your white knight or princess.

Fly high your banner of expectations.

In the end it doesn’t matter –

Fate is cruel to those who depend on destiny.


I thought my time had come,

But everything fell apart.

Just like that the dice was taken

From my hand before it was thrown.

The chance came and gone.

It vanished into thin air.

The unraveling took its toll,

And now there’s nowhere to go.


Plan for love as you may.

Rely on hope to carry the day.

Wait for your white knight or princess.

Fly high your banner of expectations.

In the end it doesn’t matter –

Fate is cruel to those who depend on destiny.


I’m told to make my own luck.

They say the hammer I hold’s

The only one forging my future.

The world’s owned by the bold,

And I should stop being afraid.

But their point’s wasted on me

Cause in the end, I’m fate’s slave

Bound to repeat this over and over.


Plan for love as you may.

Rely on hope to carry the day.

Wait for your white knight or princess.

Fly high your banner of expectations.

In the end it doesn’t matter –

Fate is cruel to those who depend on destiny.



Model Minority or Vocal Minority

So last week, I subjected myself to the horror that was the pilot of "Dads."  Besides the usual lack of humor from a multi-cam show (my pet peeve, sorry), one of the biggest controversies about the show is the claim of racism.  You can find such articles on the internet regarding this issue such as here.  You can find similar critiques of "Two Broke Girls" and their treatment of their Chinese and Russian characters many places. 

Good for Media Action Network for Asian Americans to at least send a letter to Fox executives and the show runners of "Dads" to point out the issues, but they were promptly dismissed under the freedom of expression or whatever else excuse they could find.  So in my viewing of the pilot of "Dads," yes, the usual Asian stereotypes are on full display.  The Asian actress has to dress up like a provocative Sailor Moon to doing the stereotypical schoolgirl giggle among other things.  The close of the show even gave us a two minute long running joke about small Asian guy genitalia. 

So before anyone starts accusing me of being a prude (well, I might be kinda, but not really), the biggest issue I have with "Dads" and their attempt of using Asian things for humor is that the gags aren't even funny.  It's straight up lazy stereotyping without any effort to go to the next level as if it's funny that "hahahah" Asian guys have small packages or "hahahaha" Chinese guys are so pervy.  It's really old and unoriginal.  There are plenty of examples of people using jokes about race in a funny but slightly more responsible way, but it's apparently easy to just go for the low hanging fruit.

So here's the question I have.  Why is it so easy to pick on the Asians when it's basically politically incorrect to go after other minorities.  I think we know the answer.  It's because Asians are the model minority.  Now, that word can be super-charged politically, but let me note the way I want to use it as being very apolitical.  Despite the efforts of such groups as Good for Media Action Network for Asian Americans, it's been my experience and the experience of others I've talked to that we are more likely to brush off racism and keep our heads down.  Don't rock the boat and keep being the best you can be.  That's a good thing, right? 

In some ways, yes, but clearly there are disadvantages to that strategy if we are going to keep getting picked on by such unoriginal story tellers like the creators of "Dads," "Two Broke Girls," or any other TV show that finds it easier to work only on the stereotypes.  Some food for thought -- who are the most well known Asian-American actors working in Hollywood besides Jon Cho?  Character actors like Ken Jeong and James Hong don't count. 

Whereas we take a beating and keep going, the more vocal minorities have definitely made some inroads in politics and entertainment.  No one would dare use blackface anymore and the F-word is not a four letter word anymore.  It's a three letter word. 

In the end, I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is.  In some sense, there is some dignity in suffer affronts lightly, but when is enough enough?  As well, sometimes when I see the things other minority groups complain about, I don't feel sympathy towards the things they are railing about.  There has to be a middle ground somewhere, but I wish I knew where it was.  What we do know is that racism is still alive and well in America in 2013.  And it probably will be around forever in some form.  There isn't a Star Trek happy utopia ending, because as humans, we don't like different things usually.  However, there has to be a way where we ignore our first instincts and let logic override our intuition.  This is what has made America great in the past -- our diversity.  We have to find a way to respect each other, even if the alarm bells go off in our head.  As for the humor, for the love of Pete, work harder, people.  I understand humor is about finding the difference in people, but don't be lazy.


Fall 2013 New TV Show Recommendations

So it's that wonderful time of the year again where optimism frolics gracefully through the flower bed.  The fall season of TV is starting, and all the networks trot out their shiniest, newest shows, hoping for the next Lost, Friends or even Becker.  "Oh no," you might be thinking, "I am totally unprepared for the 2013 fall TV season, and I don't know what's good."

Do not fear, nameless citizen.  I'm here to let you know the top five new TV shows starting this fall that I'm excited for.  A couple caveats --- the things I tend to like are a bit ....  ummm... not quite popular.  In fact, I gravitate towards the critically acclaimed and lowest watched shows like Community, Dollhouse and Happy Endings.  However, just because it's low rated doesn't mean it's not good.  That just means the rest of America has bad tastes.  *cough*  The other thing to realize that you will not find multi-cam shows on my list because I have an intense hatred for those type of shows and laugh tracks that instruct you in the spots where you should be laughing.  The 1980's called, and they want their tube TV's back.  I will try to not go any more negative than that just because I'm trying to be a slightly less cynical person.  We will see if I break that promise by the end of this blog.  I will link a trailer in the show title.  Cue the fanfare, and here we go.

5. Enlisted - Premieres September 26th on Fox. 

This seems to be your military version of the Bad News Bears with the eccentric underdog team going up against the vastly superior mega-team.  Add a dash of Geoff Stults who I loved from "The Finder" and Keith David from everything awesome (except  "The Cape"), and I'm excited for this show.  No doubt sarcasm and "The Office" styled pranks on the other team are forthcoming!

 4. Trophy Wife - Premieres September 24th on ABC.

I really don't know why, but I'm pumped for this show.  Granted I haven't seen Malin Akerman in much besides "Watchmen," but her comedic performance looks credible in this trailer.  Add in Ryan Lee from such great things as "Super 8" and "Breaking Bad" and an Asian kid actor by the name of Albert Tsai that does not seem constrained by the manacles of having to be the Asian sterotype, and I'm all in, baby! 

3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Premiered September 17th on Fox.

To be fair, my perception of Andy Samberg diminished greatly due to the terribleness that was "Hot Rod."  (SNL is very hit and miss in generall, so I can't give him a passing grade on the digital shorts he does on that show)  But with Mike Schur and others people from "Parks & Rec" that are involved in this project, I think that B99 has a lot of potential to be funny.  Terry Crews and Andre Braugher from "Last Resort?"  I think I can stand Andy Samberg for those two fine thespians.

 2. Almost Human - Premieres November 4th on Fox.

So I had to put at least one sci-fi show on this list, and "Almost Human" is that show.  Everyone's favorite Karl Urban and "Flash Foward's" Michael Ealy are the odd couple cop pairing, except that one of them is a robot!  The philosophical debate about what it means to be human and what makes us tick seems to be an on-going tension in the show, and I'm ready for that.  Plus....Karl Urban.

1. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D - premieres September 24th.

Seriously, how could this not be number one on my list?  AoS is executive produced by Joss "Bow Before Me" Whedon, and the show runners are the esteemed Jed Whedon and Maurisa Tancharoen who helped created "Doll House" and "Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog."  Yes and yes!  I'm always happy to see Ming-Na working and my current celebrity crush, Chloe Bennet from "Nashville" is on this show.  Oh, and Agent Coulson!  Seriously, who needs Thor and Captain America?

That's all for this week.  Let me know what you are excited to watch this fall. 


9/11 - Why We Should Remember

No doubt you’ve heard what today is – the twelfth observance of 9/11.  People have remembered it in very different ways.  The first being the very common reaction of recognizing and dwelling upon the people who lost their lives on that day either as a victim or as a hero and the subsequent servicemen who gave up their lives in the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts.  Some will resent the war that followed 9/11 and rail against the perceived unjustness of that war.  Quite a lot of people will go on with this day, 9/11/2013, as if it were any other day. 

This last reaction is usually the one that is encouraged and extolled over the years.  “Don’t be afraid.”  “Continue living your life or else the terrorists win.”  “Show them that we will not be frightened out of our way life.”  In some ways, I do agree with that mentality because yes, going on with your life is the biggest raspberry you can give to those who would wish harm upon our country.  However, too often I see that this way of thinking leads to a numbness of the heart.

I don’t know about you, but on that day in 2011, I felt a lot of emotions seeing the terrible images of what happened on that day and witnessing the bravery of those who counted the lives of others more important than their own.  It evoked both tears and admiration from me.  It is said about Americans that we hate each other until we have a common enemy or purpose to unite against, and it was on full display on that day. 

I cannot think of a day that we were as supportive and caring towards each other than on that Tuesday or in the days following it.  Perhaps it was because we were personally affected by the tragedy because we knew people who died in the attacks or knew of people who knew people.  Perhaps it was because we were faced with mortality in a way we never expected – a terrorist attack on our home soil.  Any which way, we felt things that we have not felt in a long time and sought for answers to questions we placed on the backburner.  Much like New Year’s Eve but on a grander scale, I do believe many of us made resolutions that day to change our lives. 

Love our families more. 

Seek out God. 

Be kinder to strangers. 

Help your neighbor out more.

Call our moms more often.

Turn around our lives that have been stuck in a rut.

These are all good things to resolve, but much like every January 2nd or perhaps February 1st, we promptly give up on our resolutions because we forget about the conviction upon what we vowed those things.  I believe this manifested itself even twelve years later when we think about all the things we felt on that day.  Perhaps we are embarrassed about how vulnerable we felt or just felt like it was time to move on with our lives.  I disagree.  9/11 was a wakeup call to us to seek answers to the questions that haunt us at night and to become the person we know we ought to be. 

My encouragement to you is to not forget 9/11.  Not in a bitter or cynical way, but in a hopeful way.  In the responses we had twelve years ago, God was trying to tell us to open our eyes, and it would be a shame if we shut them again because we have forgotten about what that day evoked just to get on with our lives.  Remember. 


Honor We Choose: Winter Part III

I wanted to share a short story I wrote when I was still in college.  I think it's one of the best short stories I've written even though it can be very cliche and tell-y rather than show-y.  Nevertheless, I'm proud of it as one of my earliest works, and it's always interesting to revisit where you've been in the past.  Here's the final part.  Enjoy.

Winter had come. The snow fell to the ground, purifying everything with its forgiving white blanket. The quietness of the land gave an illusion of peace and security. The bare tree looked like skeletons, stripped of all life. The cold, bitter winds blew in every direction, whipping Akira's face. Although all the predators had gone into hibernation, there was still one predator that concerned him.

The shogun was surrounded by five retainers with Akira by the shogun's side. All were on horseback, slowly riding on the path. The snow this winter had been heavy, and huge walls of packed snow ten foot tall ran parallel on each side of the path. From his black horse, Shogun Hibiki saw the concern in Akira's eyes, "Something on your mind, Ayukawa?"

"My lord, he’s out there. Waiting for the best opportunity to strike."

The shogun laughed, "I assume you are referring to Morimoto."

"My lord, Morimoto is not a threat that should be ignored. He is still extremely dangerous. In fact, I think this trip to Wana is a bad idea. We are wide open to any surprise attacks, and we do not have enough retainers to defend a serious attack."

Shogun Hibiki waved his hand, brushing off Akira's words, "If that traitor Morimoto was so bent on killing me, I would already be with my ancestors. I have not heeded his threats and am still alive to talk about it. It has already been three months. For all we know, Morimoto is good as dead."

"My lord, I think you are unwise in your conclusion....."

"Enough!" the shogun interrupted, "I have heard enough of your nagging."

"Yes, my lord."

"I want you and the others to go on ahead to Wana and prepare the villagers for my arrival. I will be greeted with the respect and fear I deserve."

"My lord....."

"Ayukawa, obey your shogun! I will keep Tsukinai with me for protection. His swordsmanship will be sufficient to defend me from any threats. Understood."

"Yes, my lord." Akira motioned to the other riders to go to Wana. The three other retainers galloped off into the distance. Akira looked at the shogun, "Please do not take my insolence the wrong way, my lord. I am only concerned for your safety. Please allow me to stay by your side."

The shogun nodded his head, "Very well, Ayukawa. Do note that if you were anyone else besides my head retainer, I would have run you through by now."

"Yes, my lord." The trio trodded down the path, heading towards Wana. Suddenly, Akira heard the twang of a string. Mere seconds later, an arrow plunged into his horse’s leg, causing the horse to throw Akira before he could react. He landed on the ground, dazed.

Tsukinai, reacting to the arrow, drew his katana. The shogun mirrored his action. A masked figure dressed in white slid down the snow embankment and landed on the path.

"Who dares threaten the shogun?" demanded Tsukinai. The white-clad figure pulled off his mask and revealed his face.

"Morimoto," the shogun said emotionlessly.

"You have not heeded my words, Hibiki. I pray that you have had sufficient time to prepare for eternal damnation." Satoru drew his katana as Tsukinai galloped towards him. As Tsukinai drew closer, Satoru jumped at a tree and rebounded off it at the charging enemy. As their katanas clashed, Satoru quickly spun and decapitated Tsukinai before he had a chance to parry the blow. His headless body slumped to the ground, and a pool of blood contaminated the pure snow with its crimson hue.

The shogun just stared at Satoru. "I am impressed, you disabled both of my retainers effortlessly. I have heard reports of a bandit who has stolen from my treasury. I can now only assume that this ronin standing before me is that thief."

"You are correct. All that money has been given back to their rightful owners--the villagers. Though you rule over this land, you do not own it. You have not protected the people the same way as your ancestors. I tell you the truth; the souls of all the men, women, and children you have put to death cry out for your blood to be spilt. They will be avenged."

The shogun's eyes bore into the eyes of Satoru, "The people are nothing but my servants. The ancestors were fools for not using their resources to rule over the land. Your ideal of a shogun is nothing but a myth told to amuse little children. Tell me, Morimoto. Do you think you can defeat me? There is a reason why I became shogun. No one can defeat me. I have destroyed all those foolish enough to oppose me. Surely you have known that in the short time you served as my head retainer. Let us also not forget your hand in the murder of these ‘innocent’ people that you are avenging."

Satoru just shook his head, "You are wrong. Though I have done the villagers wrong, I have trying to make up for those deaths by become their champion. The villagers have forgiven me and embraced me."

The shogun said haughtily, "Is that so? Come, ‘champion of the people,’ I will personally hang your bloody head on top of my palace to show everyone how futile it is to oppose me."

Sprawled on the ground, Akira tried to recover from his fall and looked in the shogun's direction. Seeing that Satoru and Shogun Hibiki were charging at each other, he jumped to his feet and rushed to aid his shogun. He ran erratically, still dazed.

Satoru leapt at the shogun, parried his blow, and kicked his horse, breaking its leg. As the horse fell in the snow, the shogun jumped off the horse and landed opposite Satoru. A dizzy Akira fell to the ground but scrambled to his feet. "My lord!"

The shogun swung his katana in an arch, intending to separate Satoru’s arm from his body. Satoru deftly blocked the blow and reached behind his back. Shogun Hibiki lunged to impale Satoru, but he easily dodged the blow and swung his arm from behind his back and plunged a dagger into the shogun's throat--Karumi's dagger. Shogun Hibiki fell to the ground, gasping for air.

Satoru stood over him, "Indeed your swordsmanship was formidable, but the gods favor those who protect the weak."

Seeing his shogun felled, Akira cleared his head in determination and charged at Satoru, shouting at the top of his lungs. Satoru instinctively raised his katana as Akira's blade swooped down, threatening to cut him in half. Quickly, Satoru’s dagger was at Akira’s throat. He looked into Akira’s eyes that were filled with hate and fear.

Satoru tightened his trembling grip on the dagger. "Farewell, old friend." However, as his grip tightened, he felt the scar press against the hilt of the dagger. Satoru paused for a second, "No, I cannot do this, Ayukawa-kun." He quickly pushed Akira to the ground and jumped on Tsukinai’s horse, galloping away. Akira gasped for air. His soul was a wrist flick away from joining his ancestors. Noticing that the shogun was no longer struggling, he chased after Satoru. He chased to avenge his dead master.

Satoru slowed down to wipe the blood from his katana and dagger on the horse’s saddle. His mission of vengeance was complete. He sheathed his weapons and urged the horse to go faster. Leading his pursuer by a good 100 yards, Satoru had almost reached his escape route. "This was too easy, Ayukawa-kun. I expected more of a challenge from you." Reaching a wooden bridge suspended by ropes, Satoru then noticed forty riders coming towards him. Satoru cursed. He hadn't expected reinforcement to be right behind the shogun. He quickly cut the ropes holding up the bridge, stranding the riders on the other side. But it was inevitable--he had to face Akira. Satoru drew his katana, waiting for Akira's approach. Akira came and stopped twenty feet from him.

Satoru said to him, "Hibiki was an unjust ruler who abused the people. Why do you not understand? He deserved to die."

Akira dismounted his horse, "You are correct. Shogun Hibiki was not as virtuous as he seemed, but he was my master. The lord's words are the law, and I must avenge his death." Akira drew his katana.

No longer did two men stand there, ten paces from each other. Unlike the other times they sparred, this time it would be all out. No quarter would be given, and both would swing at each other hard--as hard as two young boys wielding sticks and giving each other dark, purple bruises."

As they circled each other, Akira inquired, "Why did you kill Tsukinai? Was not Shogun Habiki's blood enough?"

"Tsukinai accompanied me on some of the tasks I completed for Hibiki. He enjoyed killing those people, raping villagers, and other horrid things. It was clear he was not only acting under the orders of the ‘lord protectorate, Hibiki.’ I had no other choice. Please tell me. Why do you avenge this monster, Ayukawa-kun?" asked Satoru.

"No matter what the shogun asks, I am vowed to serve him faithfully."

"There will come a day when the shogun you serve will push you beyond your limits. I have heard of how you have shed innocent blood in the name of the shogun. Do the cries of those people echo in your head? Do they prick your conscience?"

Akira bellowed, "The shogun's commands are the law."

Satoru solemnly said, "Has your loyalty to some idealized abstract of some perfect shogun drowned out your conscience? Do you not care that because of you, fathers have lost their sons, young girls have been cast out of their villages for having illegitimate children, and a son have to watch his elderly father die of hunger because the shogun needs a new silk robe for some pointless, unimportant occasion? What has gotten into you, friend? Perhaps someday you will understand."

They pounced fiercely at each other like two lions. Satoru swung his katana at Akira who blocked the blow and tried to kick Satoru. Satoru shrugged the kick away with his free hand and leapt back. Akira slashed at Satoru's head, but Satoru simply ducked and foot sweeped him. Akira fell hard to the ground but managed to roll out of striking distance. Charging again, Akira took a wide swing at Satoru to sever his torso from his legs. He simply jumped straight up in the air, and as Akira's blade missed badly, Satoru planted his feet in Akira’s face.

Akira fell back, blinded by pain and snow. When he recovered, he saw Satoru looking at him, relaxed and ready for another attack. By this time, Akira was breathing hard. With the remaining energy left in him, Akira yelled as he charged at Satoru for one last time. The blow arched down at Satoru who barely blocked it with his katana. Satoru whipped out Karumi's knife and once again, pressed it up to Akira’s throat.  Akira closed his eyes, prepared to meet his ancestors.

The knife pressed against his throat as a trickle of blood leaked down his neck. The scar again. Satoru hesitated. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen. Akira had run him through with his katana.

Akira said, "Your mistake, Morimoto." Satoru dropped the dagger and katana in pain. He looked into Akira's cold eyes filled with hate. Putting both of his hands over Akira's hand and katana, he forced the katana across his abdomen and pulled it upward. Clenching his teeth, Satoru collapsed on the ground as Akira knelt by his side. Akira pulled his katana out of Satoru and dropped it on the ground. Satoru's trembling hand grabbed Akira's hand; two slash scars touching each other. Satoru reached into his pouch with his other hand.

Many different emotions arose in Akira. One part of him felt relieved for avenging the Shogun's death, but the other part betrayed his loyalty to the Shogun Hibiki. The scar on his palm reminded him of an oath he made as a child to his best friend. His one true friend. And he had betrayed him. What had he done? No, his loyalty to the shogun must preside over any other. That's what he was told. The shogun's command are law.

In a soft voice, Satoru whispered slowly, "Next time I meet you, Karumi and I.....will welcome you."

A tear dropped to Satoru’s cheek. "Farewell, sonkei tomodachi," Akira said as Satoru’s grip relaxed, "Farewell......Morimoto-kun." Akira looked at what Satoru had retrieved from his pouch. It was a gold rod.


Satoru's body along with the gold rod and his katana as his mourning partners were cast out to sea in a small boat on fire. Clutching Karumi's dagger, Akira watched as the boat aimlessly drifted out to sea and slowly sank. He didn't know what to think. What could he do? There was only one thing he could do--the thing that he was taught all his life. Although Satoru's death was tragic, life went on. Is not the ocean greater than anything else?  The waves of the endless sea could not be stopped. This is what he would do.


"My lord, what is your request?" Akira knelt before the new shogun, Hibiki Sahiro. A week had passed since Satoru’s death.

"Ayukawa, are you loyal to your shogun?"

"Yes, my lord. What is your bidding?"

Sahiro chuckled, "I want you to bring your wife to my bedchambers tomorrow night."

Akira closed his eyes and clenched his fist, "I understand, my lord." As he left the throne, the deep laughter of the shogun rang in his ears. Closing the sliding door behind him, he heard a strange sound. At first it sounded like a baby's cry, but the noise slowly increased in volume until it became unbearable. He sunk to his knees, hearing hundreds of voices wailing. The cries tore into his soul, leaving him a sobbing mass on the ground.

The next morning, the bodies of Akira and his wife were found embracing each other. Karumi's dagger and Akira's katana were stained with their blood.

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