Ruffling through some of my old writings

I wrote the following on Tuesday, March 02, 2004.  I was going through some old writings and found it entertaining.

Life always finds a way of amusing itself at my expense.

I’m staying at a friend’s place at the moment, and it is lasting a few more days than I expected.  So, I needed to pick up some supplies.  Smokes, Mtn Dew, and a shirt.  Ah yes, a cheesy overpriced t-shirt from a skate shop.  Didn’t care for the logo, but a shirt is a shirt.

Since I was there, and had nothing else to do, I decided to go see Lord of the Rings, the third episode.  It started at 8:00.   It was 6:38 at that moment.  Damn.  Well, picked up the shirt and the smokes.  Dew I wanted cold, so I could wait until the movie was over and pick it up at a convience store.  6:53.  Still had an hour to kill.  Damn.  Well, food was sounding good and there was a nice Chinese place at the lower level of the strip mall.  Beijing Moon.  Good stuff.

Ordered beef Lo Mein and a pizza roll.  Finished both and was having a relaxing tea, as I toyed with the few remaining noodles of the lo mein.  Hunting for any hidden beef remains that may or may not have existed.  Pop pop.  9mm semi auto.  From working with the M9 in the Army, I knew what a 9mm sounded like.  Crack.  Probably a .38, a revolver at any rate.  Low caliber.

I remember continuing to sip on the nice tea, even as some glass flew into the booth in front of me.  I was the only customer in the place, and two cute young ladies were behind the counter. After the shooting stopped, I motioned for them to stay still and stay down.  Despite using Army hand signals, they got the idea.

Outside, several people were running in different ways.  One was limping towards the beer distributor.

I went in, told the ladies to call the cops and some paramedics.  Waited a few moments to make sure no bullets flew again.

At the beer distributor, the guy that was shot was on the ground.  He wore a grey shirt, so the oxygenated blood showed up very clearly.  Single entrance wound, left hip.  Meant the bullet was still in him.  Blood was not shooting out, so it’s unlikely a major vein or artery was hit.  Of course, lucky for everyone, a brand new cotton t-shirt makes a wonderful pressure bandage.  I got a bystander hold the shirt down and keep pressure.  Cops rolled in very quickly, I identified myself as a medic.  Partially true, everyone in the Army is given some medical training.  I went through a combat lifesaver course myself.  Close enough under the situation.

I kept the victim talking.  He meantioned his stomach hurt.  There was a funny lump underneath his sternum.  Yep.  9mm.  Right under the skin, foot and half perhaps from the entrance wound.  Not anything to do but keep pressure on the entrance wound and wait for the paramedics.  Put my jacket under his head to make him more comfy.  Minor bleeding by his left ear.  Because the gunshots were so close, my guess is either powder burns, or he fell and scrapped himself up.  Couldn’t tell.  Superficial anyways.  Probably stung tho.

Paramedics eventually showed up, tho.  I helped prep the IV bag.  Not that hard.  You stick the bag with the non-needle end of the line, run some saline through to clear out the air.  Turned the drip off and handed it over to the medic.  He stuck the guy, as I held the bag.  Eventually the rest of the medics brought in the stretcher, and took him off my hands.

I went outside and lit up.  The cop asked me firmly to wait inside the beer distributor.  Not normally a problem, but I didn’t want to put out my smoke.  Cops questioned me, took my info, then released me.  A reporter from Chan 8 was onhand, of course.  Out of politeness, I provided some loose details on the shooting.  She commented on my hair, and asked if I was military.  I meantioned I was just getting back from overseas.  The look I gave the camera guy as he was setting up was enough to let him know how much I would be pleased with talking on tape.  As I said, they were polite, so I was polite.

7:54.  Six minutes to get to Lord of the Rings.  Good timing.  The movie was alright, all and all.

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Just saw Quarantine with some friends… Quick overview? Movie was actually half decent, but the characters are dumb as a box of bricks.

This entire rant is basically a spoiler, but it really doesn’t matter too much.

It was shot handheld, which I normally hate. It’s no longer clever. Cloverfield vastly overdid it, making plenty of people nauseous. I could try to be clever, and claim it was a tossup between the characters themselves or the shaky camera that made people want to puke. But anyways, back to this movie. The camera work was just bumpy enough to remind you it was handheld, but not every five seconds nor in an excessive manner. Pretty well done, actually. As I can recall, there was no background music. It’s a subtle thing, but I think it helped set the viewer on edge if you heard various backgrounds sounds rather than creepy music.

The movie starts off with a reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) following LA fire fighters around for a night. Pretty plausible, and the intro gets you using and liking the main characters. One could say the intro was slow, but it worked quite well for character background without being too obvious.

The firefighters get a call, and the crew goes to an apartment building. The building has an interesting layout, and looks like it was rather nice when it was built in the ’50’s but has gone downhill since. Firefighters knock down the door to see a very pale old lady with blood all over her and drooling quite profusely. Ah, zombie, alien parasite or evil disease. My bet’s on zombie!

Well, after biting a couple folks, and getting shot twice, she’s down. Not a zombie. Dang it. I had $1 riding on zombie. The officer put one round in the shoulder, and the second center of mass. If evil looking, shuffling, biting, pale, blood laden, drooling hag ripped a chunk of my partner’s neck out, I’d personally be putting at least one round through the brain. Just to be sure.

Up till this point, all was more or less tactically sound. But after your partner has his neck ripped out by evil looking hag, everything starts going downhill.

At this point, everyone seems to still be possessing some degree of intelligence, because they more or less unanimously say “**** this, I’m out of here!” Wise and prudent. Unless of course, the US Army is in the middle of sealing you in and politely asking you to remain inside for a bit. When half a dozen M4’s are aimed at you by soldiers in MOPP gear, suddenly evil zombie looking hags seem preferable. No gloves, shame on them, someone’s training NCO forgot a class on FM 3-3!

WTF Moment 1 : Ok, there’s a dead cop on the lobby floor. Is ANYONE going to grab his 92 series Beretta and spare mags? No? Sigh…

WTF Moment 2 : Let’s grab everyone in the building and throw them into the lobby with two bodies. Another extremely obviously sick and drooling lady found? Let’s bring her on down as well! That’s the ticket. Because having someone’s neck ripped out isn’t blatant enough.

A handy vet acting as a doc pronounces it to likely be some kind of rabies. Ok, somewhat plausible. More plausible than zombies, so sure. Why not.

Two “CDC” guys come in. One with an M4, the other with an M9 in a thigh holster. Obviously not CDC, most likely USAMRIID but maybe they want to keep a low profile. Alleged CDC guys start doing their investigation, and get eaten. Talk about realism, they depict US government competency absolutely perfectly. Everyone runs away. Which would be normally a good idea, except:

WTF Moment 3 : They secure their only doctor, an M4 and an M9 in a room with infected. But, alas, their brilliant containment neglects the glass windows on the room.

Ok, if you were secured in a building with rabies infected Californians surrounded by a fair chunk of the US Army, would you run away from a single infected half dead dude with tons of broken bones, or beat the dude to death with ANYTHING within arms reach in order to secure weapons and a medical guy?

So all of the lights are out… They do make use of the light on the camera for illumination. WHY THE HELL AREN’T THEY MAKING TORCHES OR LOOKING FOR FLASHLIGHTS? Fire hazard or not, if I’m locked in a building with more rabid drooling Californians than an Al Gore rally, I’m NOT going to go running around in the dark, unarmed.

Now everyone starts dying in very short order. It’s hard to keep track, but soon enough everyone is turned except one firefighter and the reporters. The firefighter is the only person in the entire film who bothers using an improvised weapon, a sledgehammer. So they start running around the building. Then the firefighter dies. Then the camera light dies. Intelligently, the camera guy switches it to night vision mode. Then tries to hide from an infected.

WTF Moment 4 : If you can see and the other guy can’t, uh… Attack? Maybe? No?

Ok, both die. The end.

In fairness, most of the WTF’s happen in a relatively smooth fashion that is unfortunately very believable. No one stops to think at any point. People don’t adjust to their environment. No one really does any planning whatsoever. No one actually looks at their terrain and makes judgments based on it. No one bothers to kill anyone obviously infected before they turn. No one shows more survival instinct than a drunken lemming on quaaludes.

The film’s worth renting. Probably not worth buying. It’s entertaining in a “let’s watch stupid people die” kind of way. It’s a decent reminder that sometimes it’s worth taking a second to think things over.

If I was in such a situation?  The second you get the fact that it’s some kind of virus transmitted through biting or whatnot:  Don’t group everyone together, kill all of the pets, tell people to lock themselves in their apartments, tell everyone to get some kind of improvised weapon, and have whoever is armed patrol the common areas to shoot anything infected.

I’d really like to see a horror movie some day where the characters have a degree of common sense.  Dog Soldiers is the only one I can recall. The rest? Idiots banging on Darwin’s door screaming “Let me in!”

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