Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The Best Movie Trailer You’ll Never SEE

Black screen. Somber and sober music plays.

In classy, wispy font, the following materializes on screen:

“From the producer of BLACK HAWK DOWN”

These words fade out. After a second, they are replaced by:

“And from the writer of ROCKY”

These words, too, fade out. After a second, they are replaced by:

“And from the Governor of CALIFORNIA.”

As these words fade,
the somber music swells in an orchestral imitation of a guitar riff,
though we must not sully the trailer with actual guitars.
Splash the title logo in style that reminds us of MGM.


And in much smaller font, where the “TM” would normally appear,
simply write:

“You’re Welcome.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Black Knight > King Arthur

This was originally a joke to amuse a friend on the ride from the train station. At her insistence, I’ve transcribed it for posterity. I figure it’s at least as accurate as a SyFy TV Show.

So my favorite story of King Arthur pertains to the Black Knight. I don’t know if you’ve heard it – I first read it in an illustrated kid’s book that was hardly canon, and I’ve probably embellished it since.

King Arthur was king. Sword from the Stone? Merlin being all Gandalf? All these knights bowing to the crown? Okay, so good times in Camelot.

But! This one knight out in the wilderness refused to surrender his territory. He wore jet black armor, flew no standard, and absolutely spanked any loyalists who came to give him crap.

And Arthur’s like, “Well if I’m going to be king, I’ve got to smack a bitch.”

He saddled up and rode for the wilderness, and Merlin came along because Arthur was probably hosed. Arthur rides up, waves the Sword from the Stone, and goes, “Let’s do this!”

The Black Knight will “do this” all day long. He trots out in his huge set of black armor, gets in Arthur’s face, questions his parentage and leadership and probably the divine right of kings. A real democrat, that Black Knight.

Because they’re a couple of dudes with a couple of swords, they decide to fight it out. Bad news: Black Knight is really frickin’ good. Like, the real deal. He’s parrying, he’s knocking Arthur on his ass, he splits his helm, and cuts him up like he wants leftovers for sandwiches tonight. He even shatters the Sword from the Stone, leaving Arthur unarmed and probably wetting himself.

The Black Knight rears up for the kill, but the sun hits his eyes. It’s by sheer luck that Arthur gets the broken sword up, and sinks the shard into a weak spot in the Black Knight’s knee padding. It’s an instant gusher, and the Black Knight staggers off bitching about flesh wounds.

Merlin’s like, “Yo, whatever, time out,” and drags the Glorious King of All England right the hell out of there and to a shack in woods. This is a really good shack, run by a really good nurse. And that nurse is all crushing on Arthur, and soothes all his wounds, and maybe wants to do more, but the king is having none of it. It doesn’t matter that Merlin saved his butt, or that he took the Black Knight to a draw, or that the wilderness nurse is totally into him. He’s terminally depressed.

Merlin gets a little plan. He smacks the Glorious King of All England upside the head, points to the lake and says, “Walk it off.”

Arthur walks over to the lake. In the lake is this amazing godly-nature-nun. And she’s like, “Hey!”

And Arthur’s like, “Eh, I shouldn’t be alive.”

And she’s like, “It beats the alternatives. Get a job.”

“I’ve got a job, but I’m unworthy of it.”

“Get a girlfriend.”

“I’ve got one, and she’s really hot, and I don’t know her name.”

“Oh for the love of God,” she says, “take a sword and go away.”

And she throws a sword at him, and it’s really sweet, with a really sweet blade and a really sweet scabbard. It’s, like, the Excalibur of swords, which is probably why they called it that.

Merlin sneaks up behind Arthur, hugs his shoulders and says, “You should give that Black Knight another shot.”

Arthur’s rocky, but he’s healed and thinks if he punks the Black Knight then maybe he’ll prove he deserves the crown. He rides to the battle field, and the nurse from that shack meets him, and says she won’t let him fight alone. He says they should go steady. She says she’s Guinevere. We all act surprised.

So the Black Knight did not have a magic girlfriend who healed him. He hobbles out in his armor, goes, “Let’s play.”

They fight it out, and it goes way better for Arthur this time. The Black Knight’s still nimble, but all his blows deflected off Arthur’s armor. Finally Arthur chops through the sucker’s sword and knocks him on his ass. At swordpoint, he gets the Black Knight to surrender.

“You should run with my round table,” Arthur decrees.

Black Knight defers. “I don’t roll like that. I’ll be your man in the wilderness. I’ll lay the law down out here.”

Arthur doesn’t turn that down. He goes to celebrate, showing off his sweet Excalibur to Merlin. He says how he thinks it could cut through anything on earth.

“You think that’s cool?” Merlin asks, rhetorically. Being the wise man archetype, he only ever asked things rhetorically. “The sheathe makes you invincible.”

This hits Arthur right in the gut. Of course he won: he was an invulnerable kid in his prime beating on an injured middle-aged hermit. He’s about to turn around and confess to the Black Knight when Merlin grabs his collar.

“Art, check yourself,” the wise man instructs. “King’s got to do some hairy shit. Now the hairiest shit’s been done and all that’s left is finding Lady G an apartment in Camelot. Let’s bounce.”

The book never said what changed Arthur’s mind. Maybe it was fatigue of fighting, the lust to rule, or PTSD from what by all accounts was a legendary ass-kicking. All I know is that ever since I was a kid, I always liked the Black Knight better than King Arthur. He got screwed.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The 10 Most-Watched Movies of All Time

I was reading Time Magazine this week and came across an interesting chart in Richard Corliss’s column, “Truly Titanic” (April 16, Page 66-67). After analyzing what movies had earned the most money (they’re all recent, and not all of them terribly good), he listed “The Real Top 10,” those ten movies that had sold the most tickets in North American box office history. Better even than a Real Dollar chart, it plots just how many times someone paid to see the film.

  1. Gone with the Wind (1939) – 202,000,000
  2. Star Wars (1977) – 178,100,000
  3. The Sound of Music (1965) – 142,200,000
  4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – 141,900,000
  5. The Ten Commandments (1956) – 131,000,000
  6. Titanic (1997) – 128,300,000
  7. Jaws (1975) – 128,100,000
  8. Doctor Zhivago (1965) – 124,100,000
  9. The Exorcist (1973) – 110,600,000
  10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) – 109,000,000
If you have the data for world-wide most-ticketed movies, please share. But if I’d seen this data before, it had certainly not struck me. Does it strike you?

Effin' RomComs, right?
Firstly, five of these movies feature female leads. Arguably Titanic is split between two leads, the romantic couple, but I’d include it, while Snow White, Exorcist, Sound of Music and Gone with the Wind are inarguable. This rises against the traditional claim that people won’t go see movies with female stars. Every so often we get an exception, like Kill Bill, but they seldom start trends in the mainstream studios. Here, five of the top-attended movies are stories about women. There’s a spark of hope that you could get at some real change from here, even if you then had to acknowledge that one of your modern box-office queens is Twilight.

The second thing that caught me is it features two Horror movies. As a fanatic, it made my chest swell. I would not have guessed The Exorcist would be so big, not that it lacks all the necessary triggers, nor that it lacks a vast tail of cultural infamy. Jaws, on the other hand, I always expect to pop up on these sorts of charts. Ahh, Horror more mainstream than Saw.

The third and perhaps weirdest thing is that Snow White is the Disney flick to hit the list. That was his first feature film. Traditionally name-value creators and franchises build across their lifetimes, or at least crest further in. This goes not just for film (Nolan’s Dark Knight trounces the gross of Memento), novels (Stephen King didn’t even make big bestseller lists until Dead Zone) and videogames (Mass Effect 3 is just the most recent sequel to set the record in sales for its franchise). Walt Disney’s work was spectacular, though, and you might see this as an Avatar-like phenomenon, where people wanted to see 3D for the first time more than they ever wanted to see it again.
This man made some money.

What everyone takes away from this is that despite Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace and Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon grossing over a billion bucks a-piece, fewer people have actually gone to see them than the classics. The present population is bigger, arguably people have more time, and some movies certainly become flashpoints for their year, yet since E.T. in 1982, people have only really gone to theatres to see Titanic in numbers that rival the all-time draws.

Are we split up into niche-films that have polarized most film-going habits? Does this make us sad, because our blockbusters don’t reach as many people? Does that vindicate people who think modern movies stink? Does it spur us content-creators to try harder?

I don’t know, but even though I’m not in film, I’d really love to know what it means to my fellow artists.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Safe House, Green House – for Icy Sedgwick

It is two dozen miles north by northwest of Gotham, and five miles of overgrown dirt road from the nearest pavement. There are a total of six houses in the entire area, though only two that the state acknowledges as legally habitable.

Google Earth barely recognizes it. The town doesn’t get postal service or internet. On the best day only one cell company gets one bar of coverage, if you’re standing on top of the tallest boughs. The trees have gotten a lot taller in the last few years; a little taller with each of her four visits.

The people who live in those inhabitable houses think she’s the witch of this region and tend to her needs to appease her wrath. They strew fresh soil around her hard and upkeep the walls even when their own cave in. The Ivy House must be maintained, or the plants she leaves behind will eat them. They cannot warn outsiders, for they will not make it through the woods. Half their clothes were picked from static branches, with blotches of blood or spats of hair left from the people torn out of them. They know what awaits disobedience.

She sees this as the perfect hiding spot for breakouts from Arkham. Her house has sheltered her on six separate escapes. He has never caught her here, and it has swallowed a dozen detectives and masked crime fighters. No one else can make it to the Ivy House, and she never stays too long. She doesn’t want to spoil a good thing. She’ll only stay there a day, drinking sunshine, and then a night, to make some horrific appearance for the locals. It’s her form of upkeep.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Warded Man

I'm trying out the Teaser Tuesday game this week. Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly blog hop hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. This week I'm reading Peter V. Brett's The Warded Man (Del Rey Books), which so far seems entirely worth evangelizing. My mini-excerpt hails from Page 97:

"Elona sat on the chair's arm,
laughing and leaning in,
her hand on his shoulder.

Leesha wished
she were a flame demon,
so she could spit fire on them."


I think we've all been there, right?

Everyone is welcome to Teaser Tuesday. The rules are as simple as:
• Grab your current book
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Avoid spoilers! Don't give too much away or you'll ruin it for the very people you're suggesting it to.
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: Against Hemingway

There’s a popular quote about writing from Ernest Hemingway:

There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and

For some he remains a literary role model. So blunt; so honest; so uncompromising. His work bleeds the self they think he was. He produced a popular metafictional character. And because he produced some worthwhile words, people see him as a reason to drink and write, to dwell without checks or balances, and so-on.

I wish to bring something to his fans’ attention:

Ernest Hemingway is dead.
He blew out his brains with a shotgun.
They did not publish the wallpaper he bled on.

Please bleed responsibly. Getting help is substantially more important than fetishizing grit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bathroom Monologue: The People You Meet in Hell

"The girl whose glasses you mocked in third grade. The first person you ever beat in a fight. The first person who ever beat you in a fight. Every lover you cheated on. The sickly grandmother you never visited. Everyone you ever cut off in traffic, and the homeless people you stepped over, and the orphans who starved waiting for your call. They all remember, and they're waiting."
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