(Kudos if you get the reference.)
(Kudos if you get the reference.)
When I was a lad, I used the family video camera to make all sorts of crazy movies. I wanted to be the next George Lucas or Steven Spielberg.
Naturally, being a young boy, my preferred genre was action/adventure. My main stylistic influences were Star Wars, The Terminator, and the James Bond movies. (Yes, I know I had no business seeing those so young, but there it is.)
I had several long-running series that I added to whenever I could get the camera and a new tape. (For readers under the age of 25: tapes were something that we used back then to record data.)
There was the “James Monkey” series–a collaboration between me and a friend which starred us as members of an elite secret agent team led by a toy monkey, whom we dubbed “James” for the parallel with James Bond.
Then there was the “Secret Agent Boy” series, which starred just me as an elite secret agent who operated alone, against enemies who were either invisible or strongly resembled plastic Halloween skeletons. (I was an only child.)
But my most elaborate series was a convoluted stop-motion epic I made using pretty much all of my action figures and other toys. It was a franchise crossover-laden multiverse, involving figures from Star Wars, The Terminator, Metal Gear Solid, Pokémon and many other random figures I had, led by the unlikely duo of Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm, from the Richard Scarry Busytown series.
(Some background: Huckle and Lowly were my favorite characters as a little kid. Naturally, I read all the books and then asked my Dad to make up new stories involving them. Dad’s stories were typically a darker take on the Richard Scarry canon–for example, one involved Huckle and Lowly running away to join the French Foreign Legion.)
The point here is, if you were wondering at what point in my life I first started creating weird fiction, the answer is “pretty early”. In fact, looking back, I realize nothing I’ve written as an adult is half as weird as some of the stuff I dreamed up when I was 10 years old.
Anyway, the reason I bring all of this up is that the other day I happened to find an old box with DVDs of my movies. Most of them are too long and too incoherent to post in full, but I found a few sections that I thought I’d share for your amusement.
The first is a car chase scene. If you can’t tell–and I’ll be very surprised if you can–what’s supposed to be going on is that a bad guy shoots out the tires on our heroes’ car, causing it to flip over and skid off a ramp–but not before it crashes into said bad guy.
I was so proud of those special effects when I was a kid. Hours of work for a few seconds of absurdly incomprehensible screen time.
The second clip is the opening title sequence to the same movie. (I’ve blurred the credits to avoid embarrassing any family members.) It’s called “Dr. Maybe”, because all my movie titles were parodies of Bond film titles. Also, to explain the first title card: the Buhwumbabumbas were another invention of my Dad’s–a warlike species of aliens who would frequently invade Earth to steal our supplies of their most prized commodity: baked beans.
Once again, this is probably totally mystifying to anyone who isn’t me. It’s supposed to depict the Buhwumbabumba ship landing on Earth. How I ever thought it actually conveyed that is beyond me.
One thing I am still proud of is that musical score. Composed by me–a person with no musical talent or training whatsoever–using my electronic keyboard. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it holds up pretty well.
You’re going along in life, a typical, liberaltarian American millennial, enjoying a materially comfortable life with your friends, who are of every gender, religion, race, sexual orientation and ethnic background. It all seems quite nice.
And then you come to find out that, all of sudden, the Presidency has fallen into the hands of a nasty, misogynistic liar who despises you and all your friends, and who means to ruin the culture you grew up in, all on the pretext of “bringing back the coal jobs”.
“Well, now, that’s quite the caterpillar in my buttermilk,” you say. “What manner of devilry hath wrought this state of affairs?”
For a detailed explanation, see here. But the short answer is, it’s a thing called the Electoral College.
“That’s about the meanest trick I ever heard of,” you cry. “Can’t the Congress do something about this horrible chicanery?”
No, they can’t. Because the problem with the Electoral College is directly tied to the problem with Congress: apportionment of seats has caused both to favor one party. They have systematically designed the system to work for very specific voting blocs.
“Well, none of this sounds like it would stand up in a court of law,” you reply (rather exasperatedly). “I believe I’m going to fight this all the way!”
Good luck with that. Because the outfit running Congress has also stacked the Court in their favor, even violating the spirit of the Constitution to do so. So, even if you somehow get your case to the Supreme Court, don’t count on winning it.
“Has the world gone mad?” you ask in frustration. “I was raised to believe that liberal values had won out all across the developed world, and that racism, misogyny and robber barons were all relics of a bygone era.”
Yes–we were all told that. But as it turns out, liberalism only really controlled one branch of government–the so-called “fourth estate”. And that doesn’t get you as much you might think.
“It all sounds hopeless when you put it like that! They control all the levers of power; and all we have are our social media accounts and some safety pins. What can we do to dig ourselves out of this?”
“Yes,” you exclaim, filled at once with gallant liberal élan. “Let’s go for that!”
–but the problem with that is that to redraw the districts, you need to have political power, and to gain political power…
“…you need to redraw the districts,” you finish, in a defeated monotone, realizing the depth of our plight. “Then it really is impossible, isn’t it?”
No. It’s not impossible.
“Really?” Your ears perk up at this. “I thought you were just now trying to convince me that it was.”
No, no–we just need to think outside the box, that’s all. After all, what are Congressional districts? Are they, once drawn by a given party, henceforth and forevermore ordained to be in favor of that party even unto eternity?
“That’s a pretty highfalutin way of putting it,” you answer, a bit annoyed. “But even so, I can tell you that the answer’s ‘no’.”
Right! Congressional districts are just lines on a map. So just because they are drawn around a specific area…
“…doesn’t mean that the people living in that area have to stay there forever!” you say slowly.
Correct again! You are a sharp one, you know that?
(“Why, thank you,” you reply.)
Here, look at this map of the margins of victory by county in the 2016 Presidential election. Look at all those giant blue columns towering over everything.
“Great Scott! Look at all those surplus blue votes in California!”
I know, right? So my thought is: what if we simply transferred some of those extra blue votes into the red areas?
“You mean… people living in liberal cities should move out into the hinterlands, and cancel out all the redistricting and apportionment shenanigans?”
You ask this cautiously, because you are understandably skeptical that such a crazy idea could ever work. After all, isn’t it awfully difficult for people living in the city to just pack up and move out into the countryside? How will they get jobs and housing?
Good question. Maybe just moving to smaller cities would do the trick, though. Even the cities in the heartland have some liberal enclaves. The local politicians there may be sympathetic to bringing in more liberals. That seems like a promising place to start.
“Look,” you say, striking a more realistic tone. “This all sounds great on paper, but do you really think it can happen? Can we really save America just by moving to different cities?”
Maybe. I’m not saying it’s guaranteed. And certain… interested parties are already passing laws to make it difficult to vote for people who have just moved to a new state. So, it’s by no means a sure thing.
But, at the same time… can you think of a better plan?
Read more details here.
It’s been a long time since I checked the spam comments folder to see what sort of hilarity is in there. Let’s see what we’ve got…
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“People really does a lot more than visitors’ expectations. Many thanks with regard to render these types of valuable, trustworthy, edifying as well as trendy applying for grants this issue to help Kate.”
This mixture of the generic spam and the oddly specific ending is a little unsettling. I hope whatever Kate needed wasn’t serious.
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Keep me informed.
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your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any?
Please let me recognize so that I could subscribe. Thanks.”
Never grasp the rss on a first date.
“The most clear career selection as a graduate of a Masters
in Hospitality Management degree would be to take on a management function in the hospitality sector.”
Actually, this may not be spam. It could be my old college career advisor. Their advice was about as useful.
“Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However
I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t
understand the reason why I cannot subscribe to it.
Is there anybody having identical RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond?
I dunno… I hear Kate has some problem. Could be related to grasping her RSS.
“It’s remarkable to visit this web page and reading the
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also eager of getting familiarity.”
Look, I believe in taking it slow.
“Frequently also endowed using a positive, outgoing character. Double Virgo: Aug 23 – June 1 With a powerful need to repeatedly check specifics – this double Virgin basically enjoys the constant search for brilliance. To others they often times seem to be in constant action. An incredibly realistic, but bold form Virgo. Relatively of a social climber, they logically operate their approach up any hierarchy they’ve their views fixed on. Virgo + Taurus: Sept 13 – September 22 Consequently they tend to worry significantly less than one other two decantes. Functional to the primary and not one to be lured into routes of fancy. Dual Libra: June 23 – Oct 2 An energetic social existence of some type is crucial for this decante. A sense of justice is inborn, they have minor patience for those that donot follow the guidelines of the terrain. It is a cooler sort Libra, there is more emphasis placed on creating the intelligence. A liking for bigger events is present. Being a part of a bunch or membership can also be important for them. An extremely chatty Libra decante indeed. People skills are highly developed, acquiring buddies is straightforward for this 1. This sort includes a sturdy requirement for a spoken outlet. Dual Scorpio: Oct 24 – Nov 2 Able to determine other’s celebrities in a heartbeat.”
I’m a Leo, so this is of no use to me. Perhaps it will help Kate.
“You won’t eel any cravings forr an extenred time and you will be capawble to avoid any etra calories.
Don’t try to find it in a single “magic” pill contrived by modern medicine.”
I won’t. Certainly not after what happened to Kate.
By now, you all have probably heard about the huge screw-up at last night’s Academy Awards. Due to a mix-up with the envelopes, they accidentally read the wrong film title and said the Best Picture award went to La La Land when in fact it went to Moonlight.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t make the show’s producers and the firm involved with managing the envelopes look like idiots. It totally does. They appear utterly incompetent. I don’t understand how such a mistake could even be possible.
But that doesn’t really matter. Because as stupid as it makes them look, it was also fascinating to watch.
If done competently, an award show is boring. Somebody gets presented with an award, comes on stage, thanks everyone they know, leaves the stage, and then the process repeats. Dull stuff.
It might be interesting if there were more uncertainty about the winners beforehand, but thanks to the internet, people usually have a pretty good read on who or what is going to win. (For example, everyone knew going in that the winner of Best Picture would be either La La Land or Moonlight.) Plus,most people only care about a few categories–acting, directing and picture. The rest are just filler as far as most viewers are concerned.
But seeing this was dramatic. It was interesting to see the La La Land people get so excited, only to have to give the award to the Moonlight people. “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”, as they say, in the space of a few minutes.
And then there was the fun of gradually piecing together just how they botched this so badly. It was a mystery thriller, full of intrigue–what did Warren Beatty know, and when did he know it?
Now people will want to watch the Oscars more than ever. They will want to see if there is going to be another ridiculous mistake. It’s even better because of the precise nature of the mistake–that it was only rectified after the erroneously-named winners were making their speeches. From now on, people who saw this show will think, “Yeah, they said X won, but I remember La La Land in 2017! Who’s to say that some producer won’t come running in to change it?”
This mess made the Oscars interesting again. Now everyone is going to wonder who really won. And that makes for a more compelling viewing experience, which in turn means higher ratings, which in turn means more ad money.
As the saying goes, that’s showbiz!
I posted an excerpt from this last year. Lately, another bit of it has been running through my head. It was my G&S-ified depiction of the scene where Palpatine declares himself Emperor, set to the tune of Ludwig’s song, “A Monarch Who Boasts Intellectual Graces” from The Grand Duke. (Note that throughout, “republican” and “democratic” are used in the general sense of political concepts, not the present-day parties in our own galaxy.)
Oh, the Chancellor who uses emergency powers
Will gain, if he’s smart, a good deal of support.
He can speak to opponents without getting glowers
And won’t have any need to lie or distort–
You know, I am sure, in these perilous hours,
That though a sep’ratist danger still towers
And threatens this Senate of ours,
I know of a plan that will make ‘em abort!
Oh! My motto is “safety;” I’m not a daredevil,
And while I rule here, we will all be secure.
With a powerful Emp’ror, who’s quite on the level,
Republican principle may long endure!
Oh! His motto etc.
When rule democratic simply fails to succeed;
And Congressional meetings are just a mess–
An Emperor clearly’s the thing that you need
To at once set ev’rything right in Congress!
With no more long meetings progress to impede,
Improvements extreme we can make with all speed,
It’s easy to do, and I will do the deed—
It’s done! And here’s to our having continued success!
Oh! Our Galaxy nearly had gone to the Devil,
But I thankfully happened to know of a cure–
With a powerful etc.
Oh! Our Galaxy etc.
Against my better judgment, I’ve posted an amusing (?) little trifle: it’s an attempted parody of High Fantasy that I wrote when I was 15 years old. I found it the other day while looking through some of my old projects that I had set aside.
Nothing is stranger than revisiting something you did a long time ago. People change over time, and so it can feel as if you are reading a brand-new author. If I were a third-party, I would be quite baffled to find that the person who wrote this absurdity also wrote this. And now I am forced to confront the fact that not only did the same person write it, but in each case, I was the perpetrator.
Effectively, I might as well be a completely different person than the stuck-up teenager who first sat down to write thinking he’d be the new P.G. Wodehouse or W.S. Gilbert. And yet, presumably that teenager is still stored somewhere in my brain, although try as I might, I sometimes have difficulty summoning him to explain what he was thinking.
Anyway, that’s all a tangent. Here is “The King”, or “What I Thought Was Funny At The Time”. Enjoy!
I stole this idea from Barb Knowles who got it from Paul who got the idea from Aaron who stole it from Jess. (Whew! It all reminds me of the Tom Lehrer song “I got it from Agnes”–quite possibly the dirtiest song ever written without using a single off-color word. But I digress.)