A Lament about Dogs, Warriors and Brothers

In a prior article, I made mention of an anime that was influential in my late-adolescence. The title was The Hakkenden: Legend of the Dog Warriors, and it was based on a series of Japanese books written in the late 1700s. The story chronicled the do-gooder exploits of eight spiritual brothers destined to bring their grandfather’s samurai clan back to greatness. Of course, I’m skating over some important aspects of the plot in that brief description. (Chiefly, the reason they were called “dog” warriors. Look it up, it’s weird.)

Point being, though I never read the source material, the anime fueled my own imagination in a profound way. Some years later, I concocted an idea that modernized the old feudal tale. I envisioned a supernatural crime drama centering around young men tied to different organized mafia factions. Instead of eight, however, I opted for four, and each were spiritually tied to one another by pieces of a mystical crucifix gifted to them by their foster mother.

Said foster mother ended up the victim of a crime syndicate raid, and the four lads vow revenge. One of the centerpieces I imagined was a climactic shootout in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. That and a priest with two sawed-off shotguns showing up. (It was the 90s. Bullet ballets were still cool.)

I even had the perfect title for this little opus – Cursed Lament.

I shelved the idea for several years, as was my M.O. back in the day. No one would dare do an idea like that, I thought. Most Hollywood types had never even heard of Hakkenden. Then, in 2005, this happened.

The premise to Four Brothers was near-identical to the adaptation I had in mind. Four foster brothers – each from different backgrounds – vow revenge on a crime lord for the death of their foster mother. What were the friggin’ odds?! I was pissed.

Distraught, I permanently shelved Cursed Lament and ignored any inkling to watch Four Brothers. The desire to still nagged me over the next half-decade, though. Until a month ago…

I noticed the flick finally showed up on Netflix Streaming. Now, I had no excuse for avoiding it, save for…well…responsibility. One uneventful night, I gave in and queued it up, all the while dreading the possibilities. A part of me held out hope that it didn’t tread on my Cursed idea.

And you know what? It didn’t. Boy, didn’t it?!

The story for the film was an absolute mess from the get-go. For one thing, there didn’t appear to be any emotional connection between the brothers. No fault of the actors involved, but rather the script. I got very little sense that there was a real bond between any of them. On top of that, no real character depth was present . No emotion wept from the screen, either.

Only the moment when the foster mother died at the beginning of the film exuded any hint of gravitas. The rest played out like a typical crime caper. Cursing and bloodletting abound. At the end of it…I was relieved.

My vision for a Mafioso Hakkenden was intact. No Lament necessary.

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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 Musings 5 Comments

I BofA’d Your Netflix in Thailand

A typical Thursday night – for me, anyway – goes like this: (1) Get off work at 11PM. (2) If plans weren’t made, head home. (3) Get out of monkey suit/work uniform. (4) Feed cat. (5) Binge on the Internet ‘til some ungodly hour in the morning. It’s not an ideal or healthy routine, but it’s something…for now.

I decided to throw a wrench in that cycle by adding an old friend to the mix – Netflix. In the Before Time – when movies and streaming were still one option – I was an avid devourer. Nowadays, I leeched off of other people’s Netflix whims. What I missed was a steady supply of anime and Bollywood musicals a mere keystroke away. So, I rejoined via a 30-day free trial.

And that’s where the trouble began.

The day after a night of streaming anime, my cell phone buzzed me awake. At 10AM. I didn’t get to sleep until 7AM. The interruption of slumber was unappreciated. It was from Bank of America, or rather…their fraud department. My account had been locked out due to some recent suspicious activity.

After a two-hour power nap, I logged onto the BofA website to see what they were talking about. Lo and behold, it was locked out. Every time I tried to access my account info, it asked me to click on some fraud website for details. It was all mighty cloak-and-dagger, kinda suspicious, and extra cheesy.

Sidenote: Some of you may be wondering why I even have a Bank of America account. The reason is this – it wasn’t my choice. It’s a credit card I’ve had since college. Before being a BofA card, it was MBNA. Of course, after the ’08 ecomonic crash, that company was gobbled up by the precariously-footed financial giant. Hence the reason why I have no choice but to bank with them. Unlike some of the horror stories, though, I really haven’t had too many problems with them. Well, until recently.

I finally broke down and called the shadowy BofA “fraud protection” number. A perky woman (and, for once, not outsourced Indian) answered. She explained that the suspicious activity on my card was listed as a Netflix charge. Wait…that didn’t sound right. How could my card be charged if I was doing a free trial? Some quizzing on mine and her part ensued to verify the account, then said card was reactivated. However, the website access remained locked.

The next night, I called the regular customer service number to find out why the online option was unavailable to me. They confirmed that my account was indeed active but had no explanation for the website lock. Any attempt to address it couldn’t be made until regular business hours. On Monday. Lastly, the customer service rep informed me that Netflix had tried to charge my card, not once, but three times. Three simultaneous attempts at authorization led to the transaction being labeled as “suspicious”. I could understand that. Why would a “free” trial require three attempted authorizations?!

Groaning, I called Netflix. The barely-pubescent teller confirmed that there were, indeed, three attempted authorizations on my card. Two of them were for – get this – ZERO dollars. The last was for two dollars MORE than what a standard monthly fee was for streaming content. Pube-teller reassured me that the auth-attempt would fall off after two business days. So…by Tuesday.

And all while this was happening, I received an emergency notification from Google saying my e-mail had been compromised. Someone tried to access it. In Thailand.

What have I learned?

Absolutely nothing. After finishing this post, I’m going back to watching anime on Netflix streaming – all the while munching on BofA-bought Taco Bell while keeping my Gmail open. I have a routine to uphold, after all.

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Sunday, October 16th, 2011 Musings 3 Comments

I work for tea money.


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