Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dreading the Re-Boots of the Movies We Love

It has gotten to the point where I actually shudder when Hollywood returns to one of the movie universes I grew up with. 

Are movies (and a TV show) that quite frankly I love.

And they're making sequels to or re-tinkering them because:


Now statistically  at least one of these movies will probably be half-way decent and even if they're all Batman and Robin Jr. , it wouldn't be the end of the world.  (No, seriously, it wouldn't be.)

However, the funny thing is that studios keep returning to these franchises because of the audience they are guaranteed to draw in.  An strong percentage of the human population will see a new Star Wars movie simply because the words "Star" and "Wars" are in the title.  At the same time, these "built-in" audiences resent the studios for bringing back and often ruining the characters and worlds they grew up with.  The reason why I dread a Zach Snyder Batman movie so much is because I love Batman, both in the comic books and on the big screen.  I wouldn't care if Zach Snyder was making a Twilight movie (That, I actually might want to see...if I could see it for free.)   

 It's even worse when they tinker with franchises from our early childhoods.   For example:

 This was just insulting.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats and Duck Tales are sacred parts of my childhood that don't need to be brought back.  They were AWSOME in the early 90's and that is where they should stay.

The world does not need a gritty Darkwing Duck reboot. 

But the thing that's really funny is that I have started to get more excited about the franchises that, frankly, I don't care about.

For example:

I felt about Avatar the same way I felt about Titanic.  It definitely wasn't as good as its fans claimed, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it's detractors said it was either.  Overall I'd give it a B....maybe B-.  Fun and cool special effects but not mind-blowing.

So why am I more excited about the new Avatar movies than I am about the new Star Wars movies?

Because if Episode IV if closer to Phantom than to Empire it'll be yet ANOTHER low point on one of my favorite film franchises.  It'll be another example of how a once great mythology was crumpled into crap just so a studio could make another billion dollars.

However, if the new Avatar movies are crud then, oh well, it's another cruddy science fiction movie.  At the same time if they're amazing, then I'll be delightfully surprised.  What's at stake is considerably lower. 

I've noticed this same trend among my friends.

With the exception of X-Men (and to a lesser extent Spider-Man) I really didn't grow up in the Marvel Universe.

So when:

came out, I really wasn't that critical.  I just came away thinking of it as a fun/funny action movie.  However, I have plenty of friends who have been reading stories about these characters since they could read and had plenty of problems with the was Joss Whedon brought them to the big screen.

Same with the new James Bond movies.  I never really had anything for or against 007.  I'm completely fine with Daniel Craig just because for the most part they've been solid action movies.  However, I have friends and family who have seen ever single Bond movie and have plenty to say about things that Casino Royal and Skyfall get wrong. 

So we have gotten to the point (honestly we probably got to this point decades ago)where movies based on franchises that we love tend to make us more upset that movies based on franchises we don't really give a hoot about.  Hollywood is depending on the fan boys and girls to fill those seats when it's really the non-fans who enjoy these movies the most.   

Monday, March 16, 2015


I pulled a random book off my shelf: I Sing the Body Electric by Ray Bradbury (A book I actually have not read all the way through).
I used a random number generator to choose the sentence starting on the eleventh line on the two hundred and seventy-fifth page.
I wrote for ten minutes.  This is the story I got.


“You make it sound like a plague drove them-.”

Elizabeth lost her train of thought as we passed a week-old corpse lying in the gutter.  Rags that were once an expensive business suite hung from the shriveled body. 

I had tried to remove all human remains around the grocery store where I had found the young woman.  The task had wasted over a day, and I had become careless toward the end.

Taking her hand, I guided her away from the body. She was dressed in cut-off jeans and a pink tank top.  I wore a Hazmat suit. 

“There was a plague,” I told her.  “Millions were dead before the cities could be evacuated.”

“Is anyone still alive?”

“Of course, but they are hundreds of miles from here.”

“What about me?  Do you have another one of those suits?”

I snorted.  “You’re the last person in the world who needs one.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’ll see.  Do you remember anything at all?”

“Not really.  I was in the grocery store with my mom when I bumped into this man and suddenly people were screaming and he was puking up red.  Things got fuzzy and I saw… It must have been a dream.  When I woke up I was still in the store and you were there….”

We rounded a corner, and before us stood the first living thing we had encountered since leaving the store. 

The white horse approached us from the other side of the street.  It had a starved, skeletal body and kept its muzzle low to the ground.

“Oh, baby…”  Elizabeth moaned.  “She looks so sick.”

“She’s fine.  She’s in her natural environment.”

The horse whinnied and nuzzled Elizabeth.  The woman kissed the animal’s nose.  “Hey there beautiful.”

“I’m glad you like her.  She belongs to you.”

Elizabeth continued to pet the horse, completely unaware of the three other figures sitting behind us on horses of their own.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

TWO PENNY SAGA: The Houseguest

I pulled a random book off my shelf: This Book if Full of Spiders by David Wong
Using a random number generator, I chose the sentence starting on the second line of the seventy-seventh page.
I wrote for ten minutes.  This is the story I got.


“But you say Franky seemed normal when he left.”

“Well, yeah, he was normal but he wasn’t a hundred percent normal,” I tell Claire.  “I mean what does ‘normal’ really mean?”

“It means to be not screaming about how there are eyes staring at you from your own shadow.”

I considered this.  “Well, yeah, under that extremely strict definition of the word, I suppose that Franky wasn’t too normal when he left the party last night.”

“What happened?  Did he drop acid?  Do you think someone put something in his drink?”

“No, no, no, no.  It was nothing like that.”

“Then what was it?”

“We may have, summoned Aroknu, the goddess of darkness.

“What was that?”

“Nothing, Franky’s just been stressed out recently with his job and finals and we found this amulet and he’s having trouble with Marcy again.”


“He and Marcy have been fighting all the time.”

“What was that about an amulet?”

The bathroom door opened and out emerged a slender woman with skin the color of a corpse that had been submerged in ice water for a week.  Her eyes were hollowed out caverns, her teeth jet-black needles and her hair woven from the night.  “You guys are out of hot water.”

“Sorry abut that Aroknu!”

Claire and the woman stared at each other. 

I picked up on the hint.  “Sorry!  Claire, this is Aroknu, the goddess of darkness.  Aroknu, this is my girlfriend Claire.  She’s the goddess of…. me.” 

They shook hands.  While she was touching the dead flesh, Claire’s shadow grew black flames and blood dripped from its mouth.  Of course she didn’t notice.    

Aroknu walked back to my guest bedroom and I ran after her.  “By the way, that guy you sort of cursed last night, is there any way you could maybe stop that?”

“He cheats at Mario Kart.”  Aroknu intoned. 

“Yeah, I know but he’s also a friend of ours so-.”

“All who cheat must be punished.  I will expect hot water for my twilight bath as well as a dozen virgins to be my sacrifice.”

“Right, I’ll get on that.” 

She closed the door.  

I sat at my kitchen counter, picked up a “grocery list” notepad and started writing the names of every potential virgin I knew.   

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Two Penny Saga: So You Want to be the Village Idiot?

I pulled a random book off my shelf: Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
I used a random number generator to choose the sentence starting on the 24th line of the 29th page. 
I wrote for ten minutes and this is the story I got.

Then I say, “Then how about the village idiot?”

The placement program, which takes the form of a young woman’s face on my computer, asks, “Are you sure that would be the logical choice, Mark?”

I examine the list of possible career opportunities available in Colony Six.  More accurately, it’s a list of career opportunities available to me after the program scanned my blood sample.  I have no interest in being a sewage engineer or dishing out nutrition pills at the colony penitentiary.  There is only one choice that seems the least bit interesting.

“Village idiot!  That’s what I want to be.”

Colony Six’s placement program responds, “Village idiot, is a position that was mistakenly placed on this list.  It is a title left over from more savage times.”

“I thought that the mainframe didn’t make mistakes.”

We do not.  Error is impossible.”

“Then this can’t be a mistake.  Make me the village idiot!”

The computer sighed.  “Your professional materials are being prepared now.”

The slot to the left of me opened.  Inside, I found a baseball cap, a bottle on a paper bag and a T-Shirt with the message , “I am with stupid.”  There was an arrow pointing up at the wearer’s head.

The computer stated, “Baseball cap must be worn backwards at all times.”

I immediately began a five-week seminar entitled, “So You Want to be The Village Idiot?”  For twelve hours a day I took lessons in passing out in the gutter, getting beaten up by local ruffians and screaming at the top of my lungs at random pedestrians.  The system gave me top marks. 

The night before my first day on the job, I stayed up drinking something called “Al-co-hol”  and the next morning I was found lying flat on my backside outside a daycare screaming, “The world’s gone to ruins since the war!  In what kind of fucking society do we…. This fascist shit state run by robots telling us what to do with our lives and making us eat food pill.” 

One of the robot soldiers almost liquefied me but I flashed it my “Village Idiot” badge and it let me go on my way. 

Before long a crowd had gathered to watch me stumble along the sidewalks screaming, “And there’s advertising everywhere!  Art and literature is dead!  We just want to plug into monitors and forgot about reality!  And cops can shoot whoever they want and get away with it…. What kind of world is that?”

Mothers escorted their children away.  Men sneered and muttered.  Teenagers threw trash at me. 

I was a raving success. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Two Penny Sagas: The Fish Reaper

I'm taking a different approach today.

I pulled a random book off my shelf:  The Life of Pie.

I used a random number generator to choose the sentence starting on the sixth line on the two hundred and eighty-third page.

I wrote for ten minutes and this is the story I got.

The Fish Reaper

“I reaped dead fish from the ponds.”

“Wait, wait, wait!” Cried a little Betta.  “I’m only a few weeks old!  Please just let me live a little-.”

“Sorry,” I tell her.  “Your person shouldn’t have fed you so much.”

I dropped the dead fish in the white bucket at my side and reached back into the pond to yank out the soul of a Tiger Shark killed off the coast of New Zealand.

Next appeared the soul of a gold fish who lay gasping on the floor of an apartment in Boston.  However, at the absolute last second someone scooped him up and dropped him back into the tank.  It happens sometimes.         

There are jobs that are worse than being the Fish Reaper.  At least I’m not the Dog Reaper or the Kitty Reaper, hated by all children for stealing away their best friends.  What I’d really like to be is the Tapeworm Reaper.  No one cares when the tragic life of a tapeworm comes to a close. 

The little goldfish appeared in my pond once more.  It has somehow found itself back on the floor.  Once again, it is saved before I could grasp it.     

My many hands continued to remove billions of fish from the pond’s chilled water. Minnows, catfish, trout, salmon, sharks (many murdered because of movies) clown fish and sea horses all find their way into the white bucket.  A major oil company made an ass out of itself, spilling millions of gallons in the Atlantic.  I go into overdrive.   

However, I once again come into contact with the little goldfish in Boston.  This time I take a moment to examine the scene.

A twelve-year-old boy in a shark T-Shirt is scooping the goldfish up, dropping him on the carpet and watching him gasp.  Then just as the fish is about to die, the boy drops him back into the tank, laughs and grabs him again.

This time the boy presses his fat, pink foot against the fish’s struggling body.  He grins, saliva glinting off his chin.  The soul is almost in my grasp when the boy dunks him back into to the tank. 

He is about to rip it back out again when I announce, “Enough!” reach into the pond, tear out the boy’s soul and dunk him into the white bucket. 

“Hey!”  The Skunk Reaper shouts next to me.  “That doesn’t belong to you!”

I shrug.  “He was wearing a shark T-Shirt.  I got confused.”