Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Below is a list of my ten favorite movies featuring comic book heroes:
TOP TEN FAVORITE COMIC BOOK HEROES MOVIES
1. "The Avengers" (2012) - Joss Whedon directed this superb movie about a team of Marvel Comics heroes teaming together to battle an alien invasion.
2. "The Incredibles" (2004) - Brad Bird created one of the best Disney animated films about a family of superheroes living a quiet suburban life and forced to hide their powers, who are forced out of retirement to save the world.
3. "Spider-Man 2" (2004) - Tobey Maguire made his second appearance as Marvel Comic's web-slinger, who contemplates retirement while facing a new threat, Doctor Octavius in this first-rate sequel.
4. "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011) - Chris Evans made his first appearance as Steve Rogers aka Captain America, Marvel's first superhero who deals with the threat of a madman during World War II. Joe Johnston directed.
5. "Iron Man 2" (2010) - Robert Downey Jr. reprised his role as Tony Stark aka Iron Man. In this excellent sequel, Iron Man battles a "ghost" from his family's past and a professional threat. Jon Farveau directed.
6. "The Rocketeer" (1991) - Bill Campbell starred in this first-rate Disney adaptation of Dave Stevens' comic novel about a pilot who discovers a rocket pack and struggles to keep it out of the hands of Nazi pilots in 1938 Los Angeles. Joe Johnston directed.
7. "X2: X-Men United" (2003) - Bryan Singer directed this second and best X-MEN film about the X-Men's reluctant teaming with Erik Lensherr aka Magneto and friends to deal with the threat of a vengeful U.S. Army intelligence officer.
8. "Batman Begins" (2005) - Director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale teamed for the first time in my favorite BATMAN film about the origins of the Caped Crusader and his efforts to save Gotham City from a mysterious threat.
9. "Iron Man" (2008) - Robert Downey Jr. exploded on the scene as playboy millionaire in this origin tale about how the latter became costumed hero Iron Man. Jon Farveau directed.
10. "The Dark Knight" (2008) - Christopher Nolan directed Christian Bale in this well-made BATMAN movie about the Caped Crusader's conflict with the Joker. Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart co-starred.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Below are images from "ARGO", the new political thriller about the 1979-81 Iran Hostage Crisis, starring Ben Affleck. Also directed by him, the movie co-stars Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin:
"ARGO" (2012) Photo Gallery
Friday, October 26, 2012
"LAWLESS" (2012) Review
A Virginia-born writer named Matt Bondurant wrote a historical novel called "The Wettest County in the World" back in 2008. He based the novel on the exploits of his grandfather and two granduncles, who ran a massive moonshine operation during the later years of the Prohibition era, in the mountains of southwest Virginia. Four years later, a movie version of Bondurant's novel finally hit the movie screens at the end of the summer.
Renamed "LAWLESS", the movie began in 1931 in Franklin County, Virgina; where three brothers - Forest, Howard and Jack Bondurant - run a successful moonshine business with the help of their friend, Cricket Pate. The brothers use a bar as a front for their illegal activities. And not only do they provide well-made moonshine to the Franklin County locals, but also to gangsters like Floyd Banner of Chicago. Two people arrive in Franklin County that prove to have a major impact upon the lives the Bondurant brothers. The first to arrive is a Chicago dancer named Maggie Beauford, who is hired as a waitress for their bar and slowly becomes romantically involved with the oldest brother, Forest. Not long after Maggie's arrival, a Federal Special Deputy Charly Rakes arrives in Franklin County and demands that all county bootleggers - including the Bondurants - give him a cut of their profits. Although the other bootleggers surrender to Rakes' intimidation tactics and decide to give him a cut, Forest Bondurant refuses to do the same. Rakes and his men set out to intimidate and terrorize the Bondurants into giving him a cut of their profits. And when that fails, he decides to go after their distillery and destroy it.
Most of the story is told through the eyes of the youngest Bondurant - Jack. At the beginning of the story, Jack is an inexperienced and sometimes introverted young man, who is kept out of the family's shine business, aside from acting as a driver for their deliveries. When Rakes gives him a severe beating as a warning to the family, Forest chides Jack for being unable to defend himself. But after Forest is nearly killed by two of Rakes' men, Jack takes matters into his hands and sets with his friend Cricket to deliver a shipment of booze to Floyd Banner in Chicago. Jack returns with profit for the family and himself. But his newly discovered self confidence leads him to make mistakes that not only endanger his family's moonshine operation, but also the lives of Cricket and the girl he loves, a German-American Baptist named Bertha Mannix.
"LAWLESS" turned out to be a very entertaining movie for me. But before I discuss how much I enjoyed the movie, I have to talk about its flaws. I believe that "LAWLESS" had two major flaws. One, director John Hillcoat delivered an unevenly paced movie. The first third of the movie took its time in setting up both the characters and the story. In fact, the pacing was so slow that I was in danger of either falling asleep or losing interest in the movie. I have one last complaint and it deals with the movie's introduction of the Floyd Banner character. I found the introduction of the Banner character rather irrelevant and unnecessary. In the movie, Banner arrived in Franklin County to shoot a competitor, exchange a glance with Jack Bondurant and return to Chicago. I found the entire scene irrelevant and a skimpy excuse to introduce Gary Oldman into the film. Especially since the Floyd Banner role proved to be rather small and serve as nothing more than a plot device to increase Jack's role as a moonshiner.
But once the movie was set up, "LAWLESS" proved to be very satisfying and entertaining. One aspect of the film that I truly enjoyed was the manner in which it recaptured so many details of early Depression-era Appalachian South. Hillcoat did a marvelous job in allowing the movie to permeate with atmosphere. However, Hilcoat did not achieve this superb re-creation on his own. He received help from the likes of cinematogrpher Benoît Delhomme, whose photography of the western Georgia locations struck me as breathtaking; Gershon Ginsburg's beautiful art direction and Chris Kennedy's production designs. I was especially impressed by Margot Wilson's costume designs. For years, Hollywood seemed to have difficulty in re-creating accurate costumes for the early 1930. The movie industry has improved a great deal over the past decade or so. And this was especially apparent in how Wilson's costumes not only accurately reflect the movie's period setting, but also the character and social positions of the characters. An excellent example of this proved to be the costumes worn by Shia Labeouf. He began the movie wearing clean, yet tight fitting clothes - including pants that were obviously too short. During the movie's second half, his wardrobe not only improved, but also became decidedly more flashy, reflecting his personal success in the moonshine business.
Although I found screenwriter Nick Cave's introduction of the movie's character, setting and plot rather slow; I must admit that the movie's overall story proved to be well written. I wonder if many critics and moviegoers had suspected "LAWLESS" would end up as some dramatic version of "THE DUKES OF HAZZARD" with plenty of high-octane action and cliched Southern stock characters. Or that it would turned out to be some take on the founding of NASCAR. Thankfully, none of those scenarios came to fruition. "LAWLESS" proved to be an intelligent mixture of a well done family drama and crime saga. First of all, Cave's script not only explored the Bondurants' illegal activities and how it attracted the attention of the law, symbolized in the form of the corrupted Federal officer Charly Rakes. But it also explored the Bondurants themselves - the intimidating Forest, who had developed a reputation for evading death; the easy-going and hard-drinking Howard, who also possessed a hair triggered temper; and youngest brother Jack, whose inexperience, introverted nature and distaste for violence led him to be disregarded by his older brothers as a dependable participant in their moonshine business.
The producers and Hilcoat certainly picked the right actors to portray the Bondurant brothers. I hope that Shia Labeouf will finally shake off his reputation as a mere tool dominated by special effects in over-the-top action films. He did a superb job in slowly developing Jack Bondurant's character from the insecure and immature boy to someone with a lot more confidence. I believe that Forest Bondurant might prove to be one of my favorite roles that Tom Hardy has ever portrayed. He did a marvelous job projecting an intimidating and commanding aura in his character. The character attracted a bit of a in-joke that originated with a local myth that nothing or no one call kill him. It was good to see Jason Clarke again, whom I have not seen in a movie since 2009's "PUBLIC ENEMIES". He was great as the easy going, yet hard drinking middle brother Howard.
I noticed that Australian actress Mia Wasikowska received a higher billing in the movie's credits than Jessica Chastain. I am a bit surprised, considering that her role proved to be smaller. Mind you, I had no problems with her solid portrayal of Jack Bondurant's love, Bertha Minnix. But her performance and role seemed minor in compare to Chastain, who had the juicier role as Chicago showgirl-turned-waitress, Maggie Beauford. Chastain was superb as world weary dancer who left Chicago to escape its chaos and mindless violence, only to find herself in the middle of more chaos in the form of the Bondurants' feud with Charly Rakes. And I was especially impressed with one scene between her and Hardy, as she struggled to suppress news of the rape she had endured at the hands of Forest's attackers. Many critics claimed that Gary Oldman had chewed the scenery in his brief appearance as Chicago gangster Floyd Banner. Aside from one moment when he lost his temper with a subordinate, I found Oldman's performance rather subdued. And he did a pretty good job in his one major scene. I believe that many critics had managed to overlook Guy Pearce's over-the-top performance as Federal deputy, Charly Rakes. With his slicked back hair, shaved eyebrows, exaggerated body language and effiminate manner, Pearce radiated urban eccentricity at its extreme. Yet, for some reason, the performance worked, due to Pearce's ability to infuse a great deal of subtle menace within the exaggerated persona. The movie also benefited from some solid performances from the likes of Dane DeHaan, who portrayed Jack's best friend Cricket Pate; Bill Camp, who portrayed Franklin County's backbone, Sheriff Hodges; and Lew Temple as the morally questionable Deputy Henry Abshire.
I realize that "LAWLESS" is not perfect. I feel that the slow pace in the first third of the film and the unnecessary manner of the Floyd Banner character's introduction prevented it from being a truly first-rate movie. But thanks to Nick Cave's adaptation of Matt Bondurant's tale, solid direction and a superb cast led by Shia Labeouf and Tom Hardy, "LAWLESS" still managed to become a fascinating tale of family bonds during the last years of Prohibition . . . and one of my favorite movies of the past summer.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Below is a small article about an old dish from the medieval era called Turk's Head. Following the article is a recipe:
TURK'S HEAD PIE
I believe many would be surprised to learn that Turk's Head Pie is a basic meat dish made from leftover game meat. The origin of the dish's name is pleasant and a lot more complicated. Turk's Head Pie originated probably during the Crusades. European armies that fought during those wars - probably Norman - fed its soldiers by baking leftover game in pastry shells or crusts. These armies named the dish after their enemy - the Muslim soldiers that were known as "Turks". Judging by the simple recipe, the Europeans did not mean to be complimentary.
The oldest version of the Turk's Head pastry recipe can be found in an Anglonorman (Norman or French) manuscript from the 14th century. There is an even older recipe called "Teste de Turk" from an older Anglonorman manuscript dated 1290. However, this recipe is not a pasty. Instead, it calls for a pig's stomach stuffed with pork, chicken, saffron, eggs, bread and almonds before it is boiled.
The original recipe, which can be found in "Two Anglo-Norman culinary collections edited from British Library manuscripts Additional 32085 and Royal 12.C.xii": Speculum 61 (1986):
A sheet of dough, well filled(?): much in it, rabbits and birds, peeled dates steeped in honey, a lot of new cheese in it, cloves, cubebs, and sugar on top. Then a very generous layer of ground pistachio nuts, colour of the layer red, yellow and green. The head shall be black, dressed with hairs in the manner of a woman on a black dish, the face of a man on it.
Here is a more updated version of the recipe:
Turk's Head Pie
300 gram (2/3 pound) minced meat (pork or veal) (optional)
4 hindquarters of a wild rabbit (or one rabbit)
4 quails, or 2 partridges or pheasants
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cubeb (or black pepper with a little piment)
200 gram (1 1/4 cup) dates
200 gram (3/4 cup) young, fresh cheese (sheep, goat, cow)
200 gram (1 1/2 cup) pistachio's without shells
60 gram (2 Tbsp. or 1 fl.oz) honey
lard, suet or butter
dough for pasties
1 egg (optional)
Preparation in Advance
Fry the minced meat in lard, suet or butter.
Sprinkle rabbit and fowl with peper and salt. Heat lard, suet or butter in a large skillet, brown the meat quickly, then cover and simmer until it is done (about forty minutes). You can also roast the meat in the oven, baste regularly with the fat (suet, lard, butter). When it is done, let the meat cooluntil you can easily debone it. Cut into large chunks.
Steep the stoned dates five to ten minutes in honey that is heated with two tablespoons of water. Drain the dates, but keep the honeywater. Cut the dates in quarters.
Crumbe the cheese, or chop it.
Put everything in a bowl - minced meat, rabbit and fowl, spices, chees, dates, sugar and honeywater, mix well.
The crust - make a pasty dough, or use some ready-made if you really think you must. But making your own is more fun, and you get a special dough.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees (400 degrees Fahrenheit).
Take a springform or a pie dish that is large enough to contain the stuffing (that depends on how large your rabbit and fowl were, whether or not you added minced meat, or how much leftovers you had). Grease the form with butter and roll out your dough. Place the dough in the piedish. If you use a springform, it is best to assemble the pasty: first cut out the bottom out of a rolled sheet of dough and place that in the springform. Then cut a long strip of dough, a little broader than the springform is high, and cover the sides. Be sure to seal the side to the bottom sheet of dough by gently pressing the edges togehter. If you want to be sure, roll a thin strip of dough between your palms and press that against the edges. Let the dough that hangs over the top of the form be, you'll use that to seal the cover.
Scoop the stuffing into the dough, cover with pistachio nuts. Close the pasty or pie with another sheet of dough. Press the edges of the cover and the sides together and cut out a small hole or two to let the steam escape. You can incorporate these holes into your decoration (eyes, mouth).
Now the name of the pasty becomes clear - use leftover dough to decorate the cover with a 'Turk's head' or something else. Colouring and gilding is done after baking, but you can baste the dough with eggwhite (for a light glaze) or egg yolk (for a darker glaze).
Put the pasty or pie in the middle of the oven, bake for about forty minutes. Let cool five minutes after taking it from the oven befor demoulding.
To finish the decoration apply food colouring paste with a small brush, and gold leaf or silver leaf.
A pasty like this one can be served hot as well as cooled to room temperature. Cut the cover loose and lift it, and scoop out the stuffing. When eating the medieval way, you use your fingers to pick what you want, and eat it above your bread trencher.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Below is a gallery featuring photos from the 2004 version of William Makepeace Thackeray's epic novel, "VANITY FAIR". Directed by Mira Nair, the movie stars Reese Witherspoon and James Purefoy:
"VANITY FAIR" (2004) Photo Gallery
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
"GETTYSBURG" (1993) Review
In 1974, author Michael Shaara’s novel about the famous three-day battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was published. Titled ”The Killer Angels”, it told the story of the Gettysburg battle from the viewpoint of certain military leaders – Confederates James Longstreet, Robert E. Lee and Lewis Armistead and Union leaders John Buford and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The novel went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But despite this accolade, Shaara never really made any money from the novel. Nor did he live long enough to reap the benefits of his creation in the years to come – including the movie adaptation called ”GETTYSBURG”.
Released in the fall of 1993, ”GETTYSBURG” starred Tom Berenger as Longstreet, Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain, Sam Elliot as Buford Richard Jordan as Armistead, and Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee. The movie was directed by Ron Maxwell and produced by Ted Turner. And despite being over four hours long (the running time is officially four hours and fourteen minutes), managed to surprisingly maintain my interest without me falling asleep. And that is something that the 1939 Oscar winner, ”GONE WITH THE WIND” cannot boast. True, one could say that ”GETTYSBURG” is a movie filled with a great deal of combat in compare to Margaret Mitchell’s story, which featured no combat at all. But despite being a story about a famous battle, ”GETTYSBURG” featured a lot more narrative drama than it did combat action sequences. And yet, director Maxwell managed to keep the movie at a good pace – with the exception of one period in the story.
Ronald Maxwell had not only directed ”GETTYSBURG”, but also wrote the screen adaptation of Shaara’s novel. I must admit that Maxwell did a pretty good job in closely following the novel. Although there were times when I wish he had taken a few short cuts. Actually that time occurred in the series of conversations leading up to the final action sequence – namely Pickett’s Charge up Cemetery Ridge on the third day. It simply lasted too damn long. I had found Chamberlain’s discovery of his first sergeant’s death, Longstreet’s instructions to Pickett and the latter’s brigade commanders, and Longstreet’s gloomy prediction about the Charge dramatically satisfying. But honestly . . . I could have done without Armistead’s speech about Virginians to the English observer – Lieutenant Colonel Fremantle (James Lancaster), Armistead’s last conversation with Richard Garnett, Chamberlain’s conversation with Hancock and the sequence featuring the Confederate troops cheering Lee. It was only during this last act that the movie threatened to bore me.
There had been complaints that ”GETTYSBURG” had failed to make any allusions to the slavery issue. Well, whoever made those complaints had obviously failed to see the movie. Not only did Longstreet commented about the slavery issue to Fremantle – before the latter immediately changed the subject – but an encounter with a runaway slave led to an interesting conversation about race, slavery and bigotry between Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s First Sergeant Kilrain (Kevin Conway). There were other aspects of the movie that I had also enjoyed – Buford’s commentary about the importance of the Gettysburg location, the aforementioned Longstreet’s prediction about Pickett’s Charge and Lee’s ironic comments about being a military commander. And I also enjoyed some of the movie’s more comic moments – Chamberlain’s efforts to prevent his brother Tom (C. Thomas Howell) from being too informal in the presence of the 20th Maine men and the conversation between Pickett and his commanders about Darwinism.
But ”GETTYSBURG” is, first and foremost, a war movie about a specific battle. And like many other war movies, it is filled with battle sequences. On the whole, I found them pretty satisfactory. One must remember that this movie had been released at least five years before Spielberg’s World War II drama, ”SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”. Which meant one should not expect the battle scenes to be particularly detailed in its violence in the same manner as the 1998 movie. In other words, most of the battles seemed to feature a great deal of musket fire, explosions, and bodies either falling to the ground or being blown sky high – something one would see in television miniseries like ”NORTH AND SOUTH: BOOK II” or ”THE BLUE AND GRAY”. The most graphic scene I can recall occurred during a non-combatant scene that featured the field hospital filled with both bodies and body parts, where Longstreet visited one of his division commanders, John Bell Hood. However, I must commend at least two battle sequences. The actual charge up Cemetery Ridge had a great sweep, enhanced by Kees Van Oostrum’s photography from a helicopter. That effectiveness of that sweep was nearly ruined when the Confederate troops finally reached the Union position. There, the scene became nothing more than a confusing mess of both Union and Confederate troops merely shoving each other around. Too bad. Another memorable battle sequence featured Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s conflict with the 15th Alabama regiment on Little Round Top. The battle started in a generic manner as the two regiments exchanged musket fire. But once the 15th Alabama came across the 20th Maine’s position, the violence became rather detailed and spilled into hand-to-hand combat and short-range firing. I can even recall one Union soldier slamming the butt of his musket into the crotch of a Confederate. And the 20th Maine’s charge down Little Round Top turned out to be as exciting as the charge made by Pickett’s division up Cemetery Ridge.
But it was the cast that really impressed me – especially the performances of Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Richard Jordan, Kevin Conway, Stephen Lang and especially Jeff Daniels. Berenger did an excellent job of portraying the very human James “Pete” Longstreet, Lee’s ”Old Warhorse”. But his most poignant moment occurred when his Longstreet regretfully ordered Pickett to commence his charge without uttering a word. I was amazed at how the actor allowed Longstreet to age within seconds during this sequence. Martin Sheen portrayed Robert Lee beyond the historic icon as a brilliant, yet obviously flawed man. Both Conway and Lang gave vibrant performances as the Irish-born Buster Kilrain and George Pickett. Lewis Armistead turned out to be Richard Jordan’s last role and many have claimed that it was one of his best. I heartily agree. In fact, one of his finest moments on screen occurred when his Armistead rallied his troops up Cemetery Ridge by sticking his hat on his sword (which actually happened, by the way). Unfortunately, Jordan died of a brain tumor nearly three months before the movie’s theatrical release. For me, the heart and soul of ”GETTYSBURG” turned out to be Jeff Daniel’s masterful portrayal of the talented Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Not only did he managed to portray the Union leader as a flesh-and-blood human being, he also gave one of the best speeches – in which he attempted to convince the remnants of the mutinous 2nd Maine to join his regiment – on the silver screen. It seemed a shame that Daniels had never received an acting nomination or award for his performance.
I would not go as far to say that ”GETTYSBURG” is one of the best war movies ever made. Quite frankly, it is not. But it is one of the better Civil War movies I have ever seen. Not only did director/screenwriter Ronald Maxwell managed to adhere closely to Michael Shaara’s novel, but maintain a steady pace for a movie that turned out to be over four hours long. It presented its historical characters as human beings and not waxwork dummies that seemed prevalent in a good deal number of other Civil War movies. And more importantly, it provided a history lesson on one of the most famous battles during that particular period. I heartily recommend it.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Olivia materialized outside of Cirhan's apartment and heaved a sigh. Her teleportation spell had worked. The red-haired witch had considered entering via the front door. But the Marina District apartment building happened to be secured. Which meant acquiring the permission of the building's manager or landlord to enter the building. And Olivia did not want to alert anyone of Cirhan's death. At least for the sake of the Gimle Order.
After unlocking the door, Olivia opened it and found herself inside a neatly furnished apartment that seemed to be slightly devoid of any taste or personality. Judging by the sparse furniture and lack of décor, Cirhan had obviously viewed his stay in San Francisco as temporary.
Olivia stood in the middle of the living room and glanced around. She spotted a desk against the left wall and walked toward it. Ignoring the computer laptop situated on the desktop, Olivia began to search the drawers. She found nothing except a stack of computer CD disks, some pens and pencils in the side drawers and nothing in the middle one. Whatever material that Cirhan had been planning to hand over to Marbus must be hidden. Only where?
It took Olivia nearly fifteen minutes to search both the living room and the kitchen. Unfortunately, she came up empty-handed. Then she decided to try Cirhan's bedroom. The sight of the scorch mark on the bed briefly startled Olivia. It also confused her. Had her dream got the facts wrong? It looked as if the Gimle daemon had been incinerated, instead of having his heart crushed. Then again, Cirhan's killer could have incinerated his body . . . after crushing his heart. The real answer seemed destined to remain a mystery.
Again, Olivia came up empty after searching the room. She began to wonder if Cirhan had left the material inside his desk at work. If so, Marbus and his cronies from the Gimle Order will have to conduct the search. As she turned toward the door, it occurred to Olivia that she had not search underneath the bed. She fell to her knees for a quick search. She only found two pairs of shoes and nothing else. As she prepared to stand up, Olivia spotted something unusual about the bed frame's side rail. Someone – possibly Cirhan – had included what looked like a latch . . . to a drawer. She removed the latch and pulled back the drawer. Inside, she found a large yellow envelope.
Olivia removed the envelope and slid the drawer back into place. Then she sat on the bed to examine her prize. She found a collection of photographs and what looked like several documents inside the envelope. One of the documents looked like a demonic contract. Curious. Olivia returned the contents inside the envelope. She would have to wait until she returned home for a more thorough examination. Then she grabbed her prize and using a spell, teleported out of the apartment.
Entering the Turners' apartment building proved to be very easy for the red-haired warlock. She merely nodded at the doorman and made her way to the building's elevator bank. Once she entered one of the elevators with other tenants, the ride going up seemed to last forever. The elevator stopped at least two times before it finally arrived on the top floor.
The door opened and Olivia found herself in a small foyer, facing a pair of double doors. Doors that obviously belonged to the Turners' penthouse. Olivia removed a small, hooked lock pick from her tote bag. She inserted the tool into the door's lock. To her great frustration, the door remained locked. Again, she tried to unlock the penthouse door. And once more, nothing happened.
"Son-of-a-bitch!" the warlock cried angrily. Olivia threw the lock pick at the door. "Now, what in the hell am I supposed to do?"
A man's voice said, "Didn't work, huh?"
Olivia whirled around. A pair of yellow eyes appeared in front of the elevator. The eyes then turned black, as a human man materialized before her. "What the . . .?" She sighed. "You must be Klymus, Artemus' little peeping tom." Her eyes took in his human form. He stood at least 5'10" tall and possessed a slim, yet muscular body; along with very handsome Asian features. His cheekbones could easily slice through paper.
"I'm not little," the daemon shot back. "I'm at least two inches taller than you." His eyes swept over Olivia in a slightly lustful manner. "You know, you're prettier than the form you had used last night. Better curves."
A sigh left Olivia's mouth. "Oh, I see. You're just a Peeping Tom. What do you want?"
"I'm here to help. Artemus figured you would have difficulty getting into Belthazor's penthouse."
Now Olivia understood. "The Cole in this dimension has the lock warded against normal break-ins, as well as magical teleportation."
Klymus grinned. "You know, Belthazor. Paranoid is thy name. A warlock hired by Prax once tried to break in. Didn't work. Looks like you'll have to find another way to get inside."
Again, Olivia sighed. "Right. C'mon. Let's go." She turned away from the penthouse doors and walked toward the elevator. "I need to get a key either from Cole or the other Olivia. And something tells me that I'll need your help."
"Why take the elevator?" Klymus asked. "I can easily teleport us out of here." The daemon held out his hand with a smirk.
Olivia grabbed his hand . . . and squeezed it tightly. Klymus grimaced. "Ready," she said with a sweet smile. "My car is just downstairs, in front of the building. A dark blue Toyota Corolla."
The warlock and the daemon teleported out of the small foyer.
Eleanor's voice crackled over the intercom on Cole's desk. "You have a visitor, Mr. Turner." The half-daemon leaned back against his chair and sighed. Phoebe. It must be. After yesterday's encounter at Quake, she was bound to pop up sooner or later. His assistant continued, "It's your uncle, Mr. Farrell."
Marbus? This was a surprise. Cole sat up and replied, "Send him in, Eleanor." Less than a minute later, the chestnut-haired daemon entered Cole's office. "Was there something you had forgotten to tell me, earlier this morning?"
The daemon sat down in one of the chairs on the other side of Cole's desk. "Just wondering if you've heard from Olivia about Cirhan's flat." He paused and regarded his nephew with hopeful eyes. "Have you?"
"Sorry Marbus," Cole replied. "I did call Riggerio to see if he had any information about Cirhan's death. So far . . . nothing."
The older daemon sighed. "This matter is getting out of hand. Something has to be done about the Marbus Corporation. Or should I say, the Khorne Order? That bloody order has been a thorn in our side ever since it tried to get Frances and her sisters to kill me."
Rolling his eyes, Cole retorted, "Tell me Marbus, will you ever learn Phoebe's real name? Or are you going to call her Frances, forever?"
Marbus protested, "I cannot help getting her name wrong. She reminds me of a Frances I once knew. As for the Magan Corporation . . ."
"Sooner or later, they will have to make a move that will expose the Khorne Order's new leader," Cole commented. "Or . . . I'll just have to use a plan that will do the trick."
Again, the intercom buzzed. Eleanor's voice announced, "You have another visitor, Mr. Turner. It's your ex-wife."
"Great," Cole murmured sardonically. "Send her in,Eleanor."
Seconds passed before a determined looking Phoebe strode into the office. "Cole, I want to . . ." She paused at the sight of the Gimle Order daemon. "Oh. Marbus. Uh . . . hi."
"And how are you . . ." Marbus began.
Cole quickly murmured, "Phoebe."
"How are you . . . Phoebe, darling?" his uncle finished.
The Charmed One responded with a shy smile. "I'm fine. I heard about Cirhan. Sorry."
Marbus' countenance darkened slightly. "Yes, well it was unfortunate. I only wish I knew who had killed him."
"It was a her," Phoebe quickly added. Her face turned pink as the two daemons stared at her. "Piper and I saw him at P3, last night. He was with some woman."
Cole frowned. "Was she a redhead, by any chance? Only a shade darker than Olivia's hair?"
"Yeah," Phoebe slowly replied. "Only it was long and straight. Cirhan was completely into her." She paused to stare at Cole. "How did you know?"
"I . . . uh, I had a dream. About Cirhan's death."
Disbelief shone in Phoebe's dark eyes. "I don't believe this! You had a vision about Cirhan and I didn't? God, I must be feeling tense." She paused to glare at Cole. "Wait a minute! I know why. Holly McMillan."
"Time for me to go," Marbus announced.
Cole glared at his uncle. "Coward," he muttered under his breath.
Marbus strode toward the door. "Take care of yourself, lad," he cried. "He reached the door and turned to face the couple. "And it was nice seeing you again, Frances." He flashed a quick smile at Phoebe before making his escape.
Now alone, Cole and Phoebe faced each other with obvious discomfort. The half-daemon heaved a big sigh, as he reached for a file. "So . . . Phoebe, what can I do for you?"
"For a start, you can drop Holly McMillan as your client," Phoebe immediately replied.
Cole rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Sorry Phoebe, I cannot oblige you. Not unless I want to be disbarred."
Focusing his gaze upon his ex-wife, Cole patiently explained that no judge would allow him to be dismissed from the case, unless he had a very good reason. "And I don't think you want me to lie to the Courts," he added sarcastically.
Phoebe demanded, "Why did you accept the case in the first place?"
"Because I was ordered to . . . by the senior partners," Cole answered. "Understand? And as Holly's attorney, it's my duty to fight tooth and nail to get her exonerated."
"But she's guilty of murder!"
Cole opened his mouth to retort . . . until a thought came to him. "Did you have some kind of premonition about the McMillans?"
Phoebe shook her head. "No. But c'mon Cole! It's so obvious! Everyone knows she's guilty!"
Another heavy sigh left Cole's mouth. He should have known. Typical Halliwell behavior. Passing judgment before knowing all of the facts. The half-daemon felt a strong inclination to teleport his former wife out of his office. But he would have to explain Phoebe's disappearance to Eleanor. "I'm sorry Phoebe, but the justice system believes otherwise. Innocent until proven guilty. Or else Holly McMillan's ass would have been tossed into prison without a trial. Now unless you have some evidence that can help my client . . ." He stood up and strode toward the door. ". . . I think it's time for you to leave."
"Cole, you can't . . ."
In a hard voice, Cole added, "Phoebe, I'm trying to be nice. I do not want to be unpleasant."
Again, Phoebe's face turned pink. She let out a gust of breath and marched toward the door. "That's going to be a little difficult to avoid, don't you think?" she retorted, as she paused to glare at Cole. "Considering that you're about to help a killer go free."
"That's it." Cole grabbed Phoebe's arm. She gasped out loud, as he dragged her toward the door. "I think you've just outstayed your welcome." He opened the door.
Phoebe protested, "Cole! Wait! I just . . ."
Cole opened the door and barked to his assistant, "Eleanor, please make sure that Miss Halliwell leaves. And that I don't be disturbed, any further. Good day, Phoebe." He shoved his ex-wife out of his office.
"No! Cole! Something . . ."
Before Phoebe could finish, Cole slammed the door in her face. Peace. At last.
"That's going to be a little difficult to avoid, don't you think? Considering that you're about to help a killer go free."
The moment she uttered those words, Phoebe knew she had went too far. The cold anger in Cole's blue eyes made it that obvious.
"That's it," Cole growled. He grabbed Phoebe's arm and . . . the visions hit her. She saw Cole stretched out on a carpeted floor, while a female's hand shovedg a stiletto into his heart. She also saw a very astonished half-demon gasp before he died. The vision immediately shifted toward an image of headstone in a cemetery that read the following: "COLERIDGE BENJAMIN TURNER, January 19, 1969 – March 3, 2004. Beloved Husband and Son".
Cole added angrily, "I think you've just outstayed your welcome." He dragged her toward the door.
Realizing what she had done, Phoebe protested, "Cole! Wait! I just . . ."
Cole opened the door. "Eleanor!" he barked to his assistant. "Please make sure that Miss Halliwell leaves. And that I don't be disturbed, any further. Good day, Phoebe." He shoved the Charmed One out of his office.
Phoebe cried, "No! Cole! Something . . ." Before she could finish, her ex-husband slammed the door in her face. Phoebe reached for the doorknob and twisted it. Unfortunately, Cole had locked the door. "Cole! Open up! You're in . . ." Aware of Ms. Read's presence, she corrected herself. "I mean, I have to tell you something. Cole?"
"Miss Halliwell, the elevator is behind you," the paralegal coolly reminded Phoebe.
The younger woman rounded on the older one. "Look! I have something important to tell Cole. Please, let me in. Or at least tell him."
"Tell him what, Miss Halliwell?"
At that moment, Phoebe realized it would be useless to argue any further. "Never mind," she grumbled. "I'll . . . I'll talk to Cole, later." She turned on her heels and marched toward the elevator.
She had to find some way to warn Cole about his impending death. There was Olivia, but Phoebe dreaded the idea of a private conservation with her successor. Then again, if she could not warn Cole or Olivia, perhaps she could warn Paige. Hell, she had to warn somebody.
END OF CHAPTER 6