Monday, April 29, 2013

National Honesty Day... Yeah, That's the Ticket

Tomorrow is National Honesty Day. I was generally unaware of what National Honesty Day was, and I found it by randomly clicking around one day while I was “writing this blog” and got stuck on what to write. While searching around for Wonder Years Trivia (because life would be better if we could have Daniel Stern narrating the important moments of our lives) I stumbled upon National Honesty Day.

    NHD (Because while I like to drive up my word count, I don’t want to keep typing “National Honesty Day.”) was created in 1990 to either highlight the way we tell lies in our lives, or by a writer to sell more books. Because I’m not going to go all cynical, I’m going to hope for the first one. (although I’ll be honest with you, the stretch between Easter and Mother’s Day is a long one for Hallmark. NHD would be the perfect way to bridge that gap, and it would be a great way to sell their “I’m seeing someone else” cards, which should be doing better the day after Valentine’s Day.)

    I bring up NHD not because I’m a habitual liar (although if you ask me, you’ll never look fat in those pants) but because too often we lie to ourselves. We lie every day. We tell little lies to get out of work, to try to get out of that speeding ticket, or to government that we are not building a robot army, those are just spare parts. As detrimental as those lies can be to others and our relationships, it’s the little lies we tell to ourselves that can really hurt us. And I’m not trying to get you out of telling the truth in your daily life. But while honesty can be the best policy sometimes, sometimes it’s unnecessary. And today’s post is about looking inward, damnit. You have to read the deep, meaningful ones to get to the funny ones!

    Too often, we find comfort in those little lies we tell ourselves, or the really big one. The really big lie that we tell ourselves too often tend to be “I’m Happy.” We look at ourselves and we say, “I’m happy with the way things are” then we go back to whatever it is we’re doing that is in actuality, making us remarkably unhappy. I know. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Putting myself into situations where I lie to myself and wish myself happy. When in reality, I’m just convincing myself that things are going fine.

    Which is why I’m going to take this opportunity to embrace the idea of honesty day. Not to the extreme. I know there’s a radical honesty movement out there, and I think too often people just use that as excuse to be jerks. But I think we can take this opportunity to embrace tomorrow a bit. We can take this opportunity to sort of say, “Hey... there’s something I’m not being honest about...” and then change it. Stop lying to ourselves.

    I’m issuing this challenge to Bad Shakespeare readers: be honest tomorrow, about something that you previously had not been honest about before. And I don’t mean, “It was me. I was the one who cancelled Star Trek.” or “I totally didn’t steal that last line from an episode of the Simpsons.” I mean something that will change your life, and either correct it in a fundamental way, or something that will spin it into a new direction. Admit to yourself that something is wrong, and then do something to change it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Joss Whedon: The Patron Saint of Summer Movie Season

    This is the last Friday in April.

    For a lot of people, it’s that... the last Friday in April. It’s a reminder that soon we won’t be able to say how cute the April Showers are that bring May flowers, but instead will be complaining about Monsoon like thunderstorms and oppressive, oppressive heat. Of course, I live in an area that was once a swamp, and every year Mother Nature likes to remind us that even though we built a giant city on top of it, she’s going to wallop us with enough humidity that there’s a real fear of drowning as you walk to your car in the morning.

    That was a dark point. Moving on.

    It’s the last Friday in April, which means the next Friday will be in May. And the first Friday in May is the first Friday of... Summer movie season. Yes, Summer movie season. We’ve eaten the broccoli that is prestige season and made us better movie viewers, we’ve suffered through the junk food that is January to April, and now we get to view some of the greatest movies that Hollywood has to offer. Yes, it will involve reboots, sequels, sequels to reboots... but they’re all going to be enjoyable. Summer movie season is a magic time when the cool air inside the theater helps you forget your troubles, and let’s you truly experience a man putting on a suit of armor and fighting crime, three friends who just don’t know any better and manage to  get hung over a third time, and a version of a Shakespeare play directed by Joss Whedon. (the patron saint of Summer Move Season.)

    I personally can’t wait for Summer Movie Season. I look forward to it from September until April. Yes, I’ll go to the movies during that time. I’ve even see some great movies during that time, and I’ll enjoy them. But there’s something different about Summer Movie Season. I can’t explain it. I have a movie buddy that I work with, and we try to find which movies we want to see. We even trade off who picks the movie which week. (Although he still has six picks left because he counts the Oscar Movie Showcase as 9 of my picks in a row. I think he’s cheating.)

    Anyway, to prepare, I think it’s important that we all take a minute, and say a prayer for a fantastic Summer Movie Season. I hope you all bow your heads with me.

    Our Whedon.
    Who art in Hollywood.
    Buffy be thy creation.
    Protect us from the bad sequels.
    The bad remakes
    and the bad sequels of remakes.
    May the new Star Trek live up to the hype
    Protect Iron Man and the Hangover from being Ewoked
    By a third act.
    Man of Steel will make us forget Brandon Routh
    And let’s see what Fast Six has to bring.
    and whatever the Great Gatsby is.
    May your remake of Much Ado About Nothing
    Be so great they’ll bring back Firefly on the spot
    Protect Will Smith’s box office dominance
    As he gambles into the dark M. Night
    Let’s watch as Pixar does another sequel
    And let them find their way again
    We thank thee for Giant Robots fighting Giant Monsters
    As it should be
    We are also grateful for At World’s End
    And Simon Pegg
    Let the popcorn be delicious
    and the nachos be... nachoy? I guess
    And bring back Angel for a proper ending.

    Amen.

    Okay, everyone. Let’s say a few more Our Josses, at least one Hail Will Smith, and we’ll meet back here next week as Iron Man 3 kicks off our Summer Movie Season!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yep. Kal-El Cage. I'm not Making that Up.

It’s April, which means of course it’s Birthday Season for two very important people that influence this blog. The first, of course, is William Shakespeare, who is 449 years young today! And if William Shakespeare were alive today, what would he be most famous for?
                If you answered Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, or Othello, you’d be wrong. No, if William Shakespeare was alive today, he’d be famous for being the oldest man in the world. Just a little birthday humor. Sorry, blog writing is a lonely place. I find humor in it where I can.
                Of course, we don’t know what day William Shakespeare was actually born, but all records indicate that he was baptized on April 26th , so most people celebrate the Bard’s birthday on April 23rd, which was yesterday at this point. And as this blog loves to remind people on his birthday, yes, William Shakespeare existed, and yes, even though he stole the plot of just about every play he ever wrote, he did write his own plays. If he were alive today, other than the whole “being the oldest man” thing, William Shakespeare also probably would have given us several variations on Die Hard, including probably Olympus Has Fallen because he’d like to work with Gerard Butler more than Tatum Channing. But this is all speculation, we only know for a fact that William Shakespeare enjoyed working with Bruce Willis.
                Happy 449th, Mr. Shakespeare.
                The second birthday I’d like to celebrate has to do with a date that occurred last week on April 18th. That was the 75 Anniversary of the launch of Action Comics #1. Action Comics #1 featured the first appearance of Superhero Icon, Superman. Red trunks, giant “S” on his chest and all. And I’ve decided that this year, we’re going to celebrate.
                And we’re going to celebrate not just because there’s a new Superman movie, Man of Steel coming out. We’re going to celebrate because it’s important to think about legacies. Now, I just got done thinking about William Shakespeare… a man who’s legacy is pretty much etched in stone until someone discovers, The Tale of William Madison, Fool of Venice and discovers that Adam Sandler was, in fact, a Shakespearean actor. But Superman is different. Whereas William Shakespeare spends much of his time being accused of being fictional, Superman is fictional. But he’s been an inspiration to many, including myself.
                I’ve written in the past about the idea of superheroes and how they can affect us, and how every culture has had its tales of extraordinary people who do extraordinary things and we look up to them, from Hercules to Zeus to Odin to Brad Pitt. So Superman is in a long line of outsiders who simply want to make this adopted world something better.
                Superman was always important to me. He was the outsider who could do anything, but it wasn’t just that he could do anything, it was that he could do anything but chose to help. Superman is a conscious effort to make things better because he can. And yes, the character has been re-interpreted and made sad, and made a bad guy…. But he’s also a guy filled with boundless optimism that things can get better. He keeps throwing Lex Luthor in prison because he genuinely believes that Lex can be a better person and help humanity. He doesn’t spend 24/7 as Superman because he doesn’t think the world needs him the whole time. Look, I may not be able to knock planets out of the sky with my heat vision, but I can hope, and I can hope for the world to be a better place. Superman is an ideal. It’s something we can all aspire to, even if it’s a little thing for a couple of minutes.
                Enough smarm. Let’s keep things light on this Bad Shakespeare celebratory post.
                So, let’s take a minute to say Happy Birthday as well to Superman… a creation that has inspired millions, including one Nicolas Cage to name his son after you. And not after your human name, either. After your Kryptonian Name.
               

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bad Shakespeare's Fairytale Weddings

*Please note, that yes, I did get the idea from this post from something a friend of mine posted on Facebook. I respond to this by pointing out two things: 1) Shakespeare stole literally everything he ever wrote. 2) Good writers write, great writers steal. Plus, I’m going to make it funny.

    It’s April, which means the weather is getting nice, and the young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. Or something along those lines. And with love, usually comes marriage. And with marriage comes wedding crashers. But before wedding crashers, there has to come a wedding. That’s why I’m happy to announce Bad Shakespeare’s Fairytale wedding packages.

    -Red Riding Hood Package. This is just the primary packages that Bad Shakespeare has to offer. The basic package comes complete with castle, swords for the groomsmen, and singing birds that will dress the bride. There is an optional wolf attack following the ceremony.

    -Snow White Package. This comes with everything in the Red Riding Hood Package, but instead of a wolf an evil queen comes in, curses everyone in attendance, and will take two bridesmaids hostage. Dwarf Groomsmen will be extra.

    -Deluxe Snow White Package. By going with the Deluxe Package, we can offer you a wolf attack and a week before the marriage the evil queen will poison the bride, but just with a small sleeping agent that can be broken with true love’s kiss. (And the antidote, delivered into her system in enough time to allow her wake up in time.) A glass coffin is included, but I’m afraid with the package you will have to pay extra if you want the forest animals to escort the groom to the church.

    -Peter Pan Package. Pirates. What will make things better than evil wolves? Pirates. In this package, you will save your bridge to be just as she is about to walk the plank. Fairy companion is extra.

    -Evil Queen Package. Want to try it a fairy tale from the other end? This special package includes the kidnapping of a Prince and an evil wedding. What does an evil wedding involve, you may ask? Well, lots of black dresses and pointy helmets. You’ll get your own minions to boss around for the duration of the wedding. Please note that the minions will not assist you world domination. Also, this package will end with the Prince escaping and foiling your evil wedding plans.

    -Deluxe Evil Queen Package. The minions in this package will assist you in casting evil spells for world domination. Also there will be no Prince foiling here.

    -Dragon Package. Dragons. Lots of dragons. 44% more Dragons than other, lesser fairytale packages.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Very Special Record Day Post: Now with 100% more References to David Bowie

This all began as most conversations begin these days - on Facebook. I posted something about Billy Joel on my friend Anita's FB page (in response to a conversation we had while out at karaoke the night before) that was not particularly complimentary. Bad Shakespeare (or Michael as some of you know him) was shocked. It was as if in my post I had admitted to not liking puppies or happiness. I happen to love puppies and happiness but I don't like Billy Joel.

And so in honor of Record Store Day, Bad Shakespeare and I decided that we would settle this discussion musically. We would each prepare our Top Ten Life Changing Songs list and respond to the other person's list. For the record (ha!), this is one of the hardest lists I have ever had to make. I felt like I was hurting other songs' feelings by not putting them on the list
Head on over to the Island (http://theislandofmisfittoyseag.blogspot.com/) to find see Bad Shakespeare’s list and my response.

Bad Shakespeare: Thank you Erin. Or TIOMT, as I will call you. No... no I’m going to stick with Erin. Because that's your name. I'm glad we get this opportunity, because even if we may disagree over one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time (and your feelings on puppies, which we may have to discuss at some point.), I think it's important that we have the discussion. Music is important. Music drives our life. No one reading this can point to a song or a poem that didn't change their life in some profound way. I throw poem in there because music is poetry, and my list focused mostly on the words. As Erin mentioned, make sure you go over to her blog to see my list, and to read her response. Anyway, I've rambled on enough. Let's take a look at what Erin has to say about the songs that changed her life...

                                         Erin’s Top Ten Life Changing Songs

1. Rock N Roll Suicide by David Bowie. This is one of my favorite songs of all time. I’d like it to be played at my funeral, not because it’s sad but because it’s insanely comforting. We’re not alone and David Bowie will always be there for us all.



BS: You know, it's always hard to argue with David Bowie. It really is. No, I'm afraid to really argue with him. He's not only King of the Goblins, but he's also the leader of the Guild of Calamitous Intent! No, I enjoy David Bowie, and I really like this song. It is sad and comforting and a good "walking the streets while contemplating life" song. I can understand why it's on this list. Even if David Bowie still freaks me out.

2. Kick Out the Jams by MC5. MC5 was one of the most political punk bands to come out of Detroit. I was floored the first time I heard this song. I went through a bit of a hippie phase before I got into punk and this was the song that changed it for me. It wasn’t all peace and flowers – it was explosive and loud. I wanted to live in the percussion of this song.

BS: You didn't really "switch" from hippie to punk with this song so much as punch it in the face, spit on it a few times, and then go dance with punk after hippie's bought you drinks all night. Love it.

3. Venus in Furs by The Velvet Underground. I went through a Warhol phase at some point and that’s when I started listening to the Velvet Underground (and I really liked it when Nico was with the band). I didn’t realize rock music could sound like this. Listen to the guitar and the viola together – it’s perfect. John Cale and Lou Reed are amazing musicians and I remember thinking “what just happened?” after I heard this the first time. And I wanted to hear lots more.

BS: I enjoy The Velvet Underground. They're trippy and deep and so many other things I could spend a blog post on them alone. I think everyone should be required to listen to them in literature classes in high school. This isn't just the first time rock could sound like this... this is the first time I think I ANYTHING could sound like this. Ever. It's amazing.

4. Gimme Danger by The Stooges. I love punk music – it’s aggressive, political, and playful all at the same time. People have a misconception that it’s just shouting and loud guitars. For me, this song is about the power of good writing in an aggressive genre. It’s like the guitars are daring you to love Iggy. I love the phrase “kiss me like the ocean breeze” – so not punk but it totally fits. This song led me directly to Nick Cave and I’m grateful for that.

BS: Ah, Iggy Pop. The thing with Iggy Pop and the Stooges (despite the fact that Iggy Pop may be the greatest name on the planet, and the name of my future son) is that they were punk in the way they played their music, but they'd always throw you for a loop in their music. Gimme Danger is the type of song you want to blast while you're wheeling down the road in your hot rod with your girl by your side (in a 1950's movie apparently... get it together Bad Shakespeare, you've got guests today) but when you're alone, you're going to pay attention to those lyrics. And they're going to blow your mind.

5. Thirteen by Big Star. Despite my punk rock tendencies, I’m a big, sappy love song kind of girl. Isn’t this what love is like? It reminds me of passing notes in class. This song has my favorite lyric of all time in: “Won't you tell me what you're thinking of? Would you be an outlaw for my love? If it's so, well, let me know, if it's no, well I can go” – crushes me every time I hear it. I’ve said it on the Island, if a guy seriously sang this to me, I would marry him.

BS: Ah, Erin. You big softie. You hit us with some great punk songs, then you show us a great love song. I've never heard this one before, but you're right, it's extremely beautiful.  No further comment is going to be needed on this one, because I'm hoping you're not mocking Vienna too much right.

6. Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos. This was the first CD I ever bought and there are lots of really great songs on it; this is the last song on the album. I’m glad I had to wait until the end to hear it for the first time. Tori Amos is an interesting voice in music – she’s playful, artful, religious, and not particularly shy about anything. This song is so complex and full of imagery. I thought she was a total punk with a piano. Tori Amos is the reason I became a feminist.

BS: I'm so torn on Tori Amos, because she was always an artist I wanted to love, but one I never really got because everything she does sounds so sad. Also, I had an ex that swore by everything that came out of Tori Amos' piano, so I got to hear a lot of it.

This is a good time to take a quick break and talk about music's impact in life, while we're discussing life-changing songs. I'll never forget that the day that things really started to go bad with me and this ex (whom I loved), it started over Tori Amos. I swear on a stack of Billy Joel albums the following story is true. One day, this ex of mine started blasting a bunch of Tori Amos songs on repeat. We were working on a few things at her apartment at the time, so I didn't think anything about this. It's like "hey, you like the album. Good for you." And I continued working on whatever it was I was working on. I think I was putting up a shelf of something.



Then, things went south, quick. I started getting screamed at because I didn't ask her why she was listening to Tori Amos on repeat so much. I don't mean a cold shoulder, I mean "you just hit my car after knocking the groceries out of my hands" screaming. I mean turning it up to 11. (And I land the Spinal Tap reference. I just won record store day.) She was listening to Tori Amos because she was sad, and wanted to talk. Apparently I didn't pick up on the psychic vibes given out by a Tori Amos CD. To this day, I can't even hear the name Tori Amos without thinking about that entire sequence, and about how that day was the beginning of the end. You may be great, Ms. Amos, but I'm only associating you with a bad relationship that ended badly, but at the same time fueled many of my characters in things I write. So I guess it says something about the circle of life, and how we all have moments that are bad, and we take what we can from them.

Or just the bad memory of the time I dated that crazy chick. Your call, readers.

7. Because the Night by Patti Smith. I don’t even know where to start with this song. This is a classic love song and I wanted someone to sing it to me when I was a teenager (and in my 20s and now). Patti Smith was the first musician I ever wanted to be and it’s because of this song. I saw her live for the first time in December and it was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

BS: You can't mess with the classics, and you can't mess with Patti Smith. I feel in putting in a love song as classic as this one, you've BS proofed at least one response on this list as something I can't argue with. Well played, Erin... well played....

8. How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths. My older brother introduced me to The Cure. I took it one step further and started listening to The Smiths. Johnny Marr is an awesome guitar player and Morrissey is just Morrissey. It starts with “I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar” and ends with lyrics about being on your own and wanting to die (literally for Morrissey, figuratively for me). If this doesn’t describe high school, I’m not entirely sure what does.

BS: Interesting pick. I don't know that I'd pick this as a great song of theirs, but at the same time, it's a list of songs that changed our lives, not a list of songs that are really, really good. (Although I'd hope they would be the same. At least good to us.) You can't argue with the fact that they are awesome at what they do. I can see how this would speak to a high school student. Not like today's music with their autotune and their Justin Biebers. Before I go onto the next one I'm going to go outside and shake my fist at a cloud.

9. Tipitina by Professor Longhair. When I was growing up in Louisiana, I had little to no concept of all the great music that existed around me. I went to Jazz Fest as a child but didn’t fully appreciate the music until I was older. I love the piano – how can you not? Mostly it’s just ‘Fess bringing the funk and soul into your life. And we all need funk and soul in our lives – that’s what New Orleans music has taught me. Any time I listen to this song I’m immediately transported to a bar in New Orleans.


BS: Ok, before, I had at least a passing reference to the people on your list, even if i haven't heard the song. "Professor Longhair?" Now you're just messing with me.


Ok, I'll play your game. I took a quick listen, and this is an interesting song. And I do like that this is tied to your memories of Jazzfest. I've been to Jazzfest, and what impressed me the most, other than a bunch of musicians were able to perform in a city that manages to have 100% humidity 11 months out of the year, was the fact that you could walk away from one band and just as you got out of range to hear them, you'd start to hear another. I can see being dragged into Professor Longhair's magical musical journey. I can also see that I'm happy I went with "Bad Shakespeare" as opposed to searching for "Professor Longhair."

Seriously, you'd better not be making fun of Vienna right now.

10. Fell In Love With A Girl by The White Stripes. I have an affection for The White Stripes for a lot of reasons and I will talk about all of their albums for hours if permitted. I had gotten very bored with rock music until The White Stripes came along. They renewed my faith in rock and roll. I must have listened to this song a hundred times when I first got this album. There’s beauty in a song under that’s less than two minutes long and nails it completely. 

BS: Have you ever seen a movie called Coffee and Cigarettes? It's a weird movie, and Jack White and his sister are in it. Jack White builds a Tesla Coil, and hilarity ensues. (Bill Murray also serves the Wu-Tang Clan at a diner.)  I can't see them without thinking that. Again, we have something that's difficult for me to argue with: The White Stripes rule. They brought back a sound that was missing for years. And Jack White may be one of the most talented artists to come around in a while. This is a song that manages to pull off a great song, but nails everything that's great about the band in under two minutes. This is another one that should be required listening for literature students.

I hope you all enjoyed this. Now put down your computers, look up your local record shop (there aren't many left) and go out and support them. Then come back here and read back through the Bad Shakespeare and Misfit Toys Archives.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spoiler Alert: This Post Contains No Mention of Nicolas Cage

Spoiler Alert: you’re all driving me crazy.

    We once again have come upon Summer Movie Season, the Holiest Time of the year for a Young Bad Shakespeare, as we askew the sun and delve deep into the heart of a darkened, air conditioned movie theater and go to see our heroes on the big screen. Whether it’s Tony Stark saving the world solo as Iron Man, or Captain Kirk doing  Captain Kirk things, or Superman returning to us in a movie that won’t break our hearts (Damn you, Brandon Routh) summer movie season is now upon us. Let us all rejoice and break out the extra big tubs of popcorn in celebration.

    That being said, everyone needs to calm down with the spoiler alerts. People have been acting lately like spoilers, any spoilers (including movie trailers, which are legally obligated to show you the best parts, turning even the stupidest Adam Sandler comedy into, hey... I want to see that) are personally coming into their house, stealing their kittens, and feeding them to an evil dragon I’ve just named the Spoilerator. He’s big and instead of breathing fire he breaths the name of the villain in the new Star Trek movie, or the twist ending of After Earth where it turns out the movie may not suck. He’s evil, that one.

    But really, people you’re going to far with trying to avoid the “shocking twist” which really isn’t that shocking.

    The most annoying came in the form of a “shocking twist!” of a movie I wanted to see, but missed in the theaters called The Loneliest Planet. It was about a couple that went on a hike, then something twisty happened, an no reviewer on the planet could spoil it because your enjoyment of the movie would then be robbed and fed to the Spilerator and your future children would then have to live with the shame that you were “spoiled” by the “shocking twist!” that occurred in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. I’m going to ruin it here. The couple is threatened by a gunman, then the man hides behind the woman. The rest of the movie is her dealing with his cowardice. I hate to break it to everyone, that’s not a spoiler, that’s the plot of the movie.

    We’ve gotten to the point where people debate how trailers, which often are the best part of the movie experience sometimes, are obviously spoilers because they show scenes from it, and they want to stay spoiler-free. You’re not staying spoiler-free, you’re being ridiculous. You’re not watching the thing that tells you what the movie will be about. Yes, sometimes it tells you too much. Most of the time, it just tells you that this part will be explody, and this actor is in it.

    The funny thing is, sometimes spoilers become iconic. Such is the case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was the Fight Club of it’s day. Originally, back when the internet was a bunch of people meeting at a bar and discussing what they read, no one knew about the shocking ending where it turned out they were the same person. (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not Tyler Durden and the narrator, although I guess that counts as a spoiler, too. And technically the same spoiler, I guess.) The shower scene in Psycho was once a huge spoiler, and trailers for the movie begged you to get there on time as to not ruin it for you and everyone. (Fun fact: before then people would just show up to the movies any time, like rude people do now. This helped to set movie times. LEARNING!)

    Basically, this is an impassioned plea from everyone to please calm down about spoilers. Also, if you manage to see Iron Man before me, please don’t ruin the end credit tag that leads into Avengers 2.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pantsless Ducks with Rage Issues

It’s Tax Day! It’s the day when all slackers rush to get their taxes done, all the people who didn’t want to get them done are all smug, and occasionally one of the smug people gets punched by a slacker. I don’t condone any of this, except if you can do it once or twice for my amusement, and I get to sit in a throne and be fed grapes. But then I’m reminded I’m not a Roman Emperor, and this is unlikely to happen.

    Why pay taxes? Well, as Donald Duck might tell you in old World War 2 Propaganda films, it’s to help us fight Nazis. And as Dave Barry might tell you in one of his books, its to pay for some of the best entertainment the planet has to offer, then proceed to show you how the US Government is little more than an episode of Three’s Company, and everything hinges on fooling Mr. Furley. And as I might realize, I should probably learn more about how our government works from more than brilliant formerly syndicated columnists and pantsless ducks with rage issues.

    Now, while I don’t know much about the history of government, I can make plenty of stuff up. Taxes were first invented way back in Biblical Times, probably around the time that Noah realized he was stuck on a giant floating ship with a bunch of freeloading animals who were eating his food (and possibly each other) and decided that enough was enough, and that those slacker unicorns were going to have to pay with something, so they gave away their horns. And that’s how zebras were created.

    Paying taxes can also cause a lot of stress, possibly because the current US Tax code is slightly less complicated than the interweaving plot of A Song of Ice and Fire, although without all the Dragons. (unless you happen to own a dragon, in which case you should see subsection 7, paragraph 12, which coincidentally was written by George R.R. Martin.) The important thing to remember is to take a few minutes to calm yourself before going on a rage, and remember that this isn’t Monopoly. You can’t flip the board over and declare yourself the winner.

    I also realize that taxes are a touchy subject. From what I can tell, one group wants another group to pay less, while another group wants another group to pay less. As I don’t care much about politics, right now I want to support the group that wants the group I’m in to pay less. I’m not sure who that is. Whoever it is, you know you’ve got my support! Go, politics!
 
   I also know there’s a whole group of people who don’t think they have to pay any taxes. It should be noted that William Shakespeare was one of those people. Yeah, apparently the Bard was a notorious Tax Cheat. The dude had a rap sheet, and was wanted on Tax Evasion charges in Bishopsgate. So when you're being audited, point out that the greatest playwright in the world didn't pay his taxes: Why should you?

    Regardless, as you stand in line at either the tax place getting your taxes done, or as you stand in line at the Post Office, thus justifying their existence until the day before Mother’s Day where you suddenly take an interest in overnight shipping and Saturday Delivery, just remember that you’re paying your taxes because of reasons, and that you won’t have to worry about them again until the morning of April 14, 2014.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

One Year Later...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and enemies, Dr. Who fans and people who don’t like cool sci-fi shows about time traveling aliens and thus don’t like fun... welcome to either the last post of Bad Shakespeare’s first year, or the first post of Bad Shakespeare’s second year. It’s all about perspective. Either way, welcome to this post. For those of you just joining us, welcome. For those of you that stuck with it for the year, thank you.

    It’s tempting on birthdays, anniversaries, or just in general anything that we use to mark the passage of time, to look back. I’ve fallen into this trap plenty of times. The thing is, looking back isn’t always healthy, particularly if you’ve had a year like mine. While there has been some good, there has been some bad, and I find myself back closer to square one than I would like. Which sucks, because square one is really the only numbered square we like to talk about. Most setbacks don’t take us back to Park Place, or Reading Railroad, and there’s rarely a chance at the community chest. Plus, I promised all of you that this was not going to be a downer. This is a celebratory post! I’ve stuck with this blog for over a year and over 150 posts! I get more views now in four days than I did the entire first two months that Bad Shakespeare existed. That’s something to celebrate.

    So rather than dwell on what I’ve already talked about, let’s start talking about the future! (That line is so much better if you read it in Doc Brown’s voice. “Marty, we’re talking about the future!”) And I don’t just mean a future filled with evil wizard overlords who pul us all into human zoos and circuses so we can perform our mortal tricks for their amusement. I’m not even talking about the future of me, where I’m planning on being a teacher, and possibly Spider-man, if I could get just one radioactive spider to live long enough to bite me.

    No, ladies and gents... I’m talking about the future of.. Bad Shakespeare.

    For you see, I recently went out to Godaddy.com, which I noticed because it has all the commercials which either exploit women, or feature hot chicks (perspective, people.) and I made a little purchase. You all are reading a post by the man who now owns Badshakespeare.com. No one, not even the people who sold it to me, could believe that it was for sale. But it is. I own it.

    Right now, it’s little more than a collection of screens letting you know that someone has purchased it. The plan is by December, to move badshakespeare.blogspot.com to it’s new home at Badshakespeare.com.

    “But wait,” you’re saying, “a whole website dedicated to nothing more than your blog? You’re mad! MAD I TELL YOU! Isn’t that a lot of money for just someone who wants to blog about being a teacher?”

    I appreciate the compliment in saying that I’m as crazy as Tesla after a few too many cocktails.

    “We didn’t say that, we just said you were crazy.”

    Meh. I take compliments where I can find them. You’re right, I’m not dedicating Badshakespeare.com to just my blog, which while amusing isn’t amusing enough to carry everyone’s attention. My plan is to bring in other aspiring writers, and set up other blogs, and hopefully serialized stories, and other opportunities. You see, this year I’ve also attempted to make the leap into doing more writing, submitting my stuff. It just hasn’t taken. So i want to use Badshakespeare.com as an opportunity for aspiring writers to get their stuff out there. I’m starting with this blog, and a serialized story I’ve been working on for about 10 years now, but never did anything with. I may have some more people on board after some meetings.

    “That sounds groovy. What about me?”

    This is still in it’s early planning stages right now. When I can open it up, people can submit their work, we’ll go over it, and eventually I hope that Bad Shakespeare can be a voice for aspiring writers.

    But again, let me stress, this is being planned right now. We’ll eventually get to it, and you can follow this progress on the blog while I do it. But I’m very excited about this prospect right now.

    “Wow.”

    I know. It’s exciting isn’t it?

    The other, equally as exciting announcement involves my logo. My logo was created a year ago by my talented mother, Maria Hock, who has supported me a lot. And it’s a cool logo. Which is why we’ve been working on getting the logo on a shirt, which should be available on Cafepress.com by the end of the month! Wear your Bad Shakespeare pride on your body, on your mugs, or on your head!

    What else does the future hold? I certainly hope it involves benevolent robot servants and a type of cheeseburger that helps you lose weight. But, who knows? The future is a fickle place. But I do know you can help by sharing the Bad Shakespeare Blog with your friends. You can help by continuing to read.  You can help by liking Bad Shakespeare on Facebook. (And eventually all the other social media Bad Shakespeare is about to be on.) And you can help by commenting, and keep the support coming.

    This post is getting long, but I really wanted to thank each and every one of you for your support this year. Blogging is something new for me. But I enjoy writing. And I’ve enjoyed your feedback. You’ve helped me through the darker times, and I’m glad that you’ve been there to enjoy the happy times. I’m glad you were there to share all the Nicolas Cage and Star Wars references. And of course there’s the fact that I’m a toddler, and if you find something funny I’m going to keep doing it. But thank you. All of you from the bottom of my Shakespeare-like goatee.

    That’s a wrap on year one. Let’s go kick year two in the head.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Time-Traveler's Lament

                Sometimes as a writing warmup, I write whatever stupid thing i feel like writing because it makes me laugh. It's not always "good" but it's a warmup, and i don't stifle myself during the warmup. This one turned out kind of funny, so I saved it to post today, on the fourth day of Anniversaganza. Enjoy!

                Jim and Brenda slowly opened their eyes. As much as they wanted to watch the trip in front of them, the bright flash was too much, and they had to shield them. Just as technician Ted had predicted. They called him Tech Ted. However, Tech Ted’s name was Bob, but somewhere along the line Brenda had referred to him as Tech Ted, and it stuck. The debate was on whether she was joking or she had forgotten his real name.
                Once their eyes adjusted, they began to examine their surroundings. It looked as if the time machine had worked. Brenda and Jim were no longer staring at the cold metal confines of their laboratory in 2015, they were now on a very important date.
                “We did it!” Brenda said excitedly, “we’re here! We get to watch a piece of history!!”
                Jim held up his hand and fiddled with the watch Tech Ted had given him before he left, “Tech Ted,” he said into the device, “Can you hear us?”
                A disappointed voice came over the watch, “it worked?”
                “You tell us. When are we?” he said, emphasizing the “when” as he practiced many times.
                Tech Ted let out an audible sigh, “The date is November 19th 1863 and you’re currently at the Soldier’s National Cemetery. Enjoy the Address.”
                “Which address?” Brenda said, grabbing Jim’s arm.
                “The Gettysburg Address,” Tech Ted replied, wondering if he’d be arrested for kidnapping or murder if he didn’t press the sequence of buttons to get them home. “I’m out.”
                Brenda and Jim looked at each other gleefully, then slowly walked through a set of trees and towards a grassy hill. The air smelled… different. It certainly hadn’t been saturated with chemicals. They were so excited they didn’t notice they were being stared at by just about everyone who noticed that their clothes were just slightly out of style, and extremely clean.
                “I can’t believe we did it!” Jim said, “we managed to time travel!”
                “We’re going to get a Nobel for this!”
                “Forget Nobel, they’ll name countries after us!”
                “Fame… fortune… we can go anywhen in the world we want!” Brenda hadn’t rehearsed hers as long as Jim had, but was proud of it nonetheless.
As the pair continued to the spot where Lincoln would be giving his address, Jim couldn’t help but pull out his phone to take one quick picture. Brenda helped him glance around conspiratorially and he quickly snapped a few shots, the last one setting off the flash. After a moment of panic looking, they figured no one had seen.
“That was close,” Brenda said, “You can’t do anything to disrupt the time stream!” she said the last part because it sounded cool in movies.
“I know, I just couldn’t resist,” Jim replied. “It’s just something for posterity. History will want to know about our trip!”
“Jim!” Brenda hissed.
“They’ll remember you, too, I’m sure,” Jim replied, admiring the photos on his phone.
“NO, JIM, LOOK!” Brenda hissed again, pulling Jim’s arm.
That was when Jim saw him. A tall black man, wearing a dirty Union uniform standing next to them, staring angrily at Jim’s phone.
“Let me handle this,” Jim replied, “sir, we are not witches. I did not steal your soul with my magic glowing device. No, sir, this is science.”
“I know it’s science you moron. If you’re going to mess up and bring out a cell phone into 1963, you should at least do it more subtly,” the man said, pulling the phone out of Jim’s hand. “Wait, what’s this? You’re from 2015?”
“Yes,” Brenda shook her head.
“No, way! Dude, I’m from 2012. My name’s Marcus,” he held out his hand.
“Time travel was invented in 2012?” Brenda said.
“Yeah, I’m a scientist for a small company in Idaho that was working on it as part of DoD research. We found a way to do it with Jet Engines. How about you?” Marcus replied.
Brenda and Jim stared at each other.
“We used solar energy,” Brenda said shakily.
“Aw, man, we tried that but couldn’t stabilize it. Hold on,” Marcus turned to a blonde woman in a large hoop skirt, “Katie! Katie, guess what? These guys are from 2015!”
Katie walked over, “Time travel was invented in 2012, and then again in 2015? Now you’re just trying to make me feel bad.”
“When are you from?” Brenda said, the time travel pun novelty now wearing off.
“2020. Most of humanity was taken over by the robots, so I tried to escape to the past to prevent it. Killing Lincoln is the only way to do that.”
Jim and Brenda stared at her in horror. Marcus and Katie started laughing.
“She tells everyone that,” Marcus said, covering his mouth.
“Yeah. Actually some friends of mine and I are back here for Spring Break. We’re all history majors so we get extra credit for coming back and watching.”
She gestured over to a large group of young people, easily in college. Most of them had half-assed their way into a costume, and at least four of them were taking video with their cell phones. Even in the past, some things never changed.
“what… about… the time stream?” Jim said.
“What about it?” Katie replied. She started skipping over to her friends.
“There were only like, four people at the original Gettysburg Address,” Marcus said, “People were bored of political speeches even back then.”
Jim looked out at the large group of people, “So then…”
“Yep.”
“How many of them are from before 2015?” Brenda asked.
“I think 1975 is the earliest, but I’m fairly certain that one was an accident,” Marcus replied. “Hey, I have to go, I’m going to miss my favorite part!”
“Favorite part? Like you saw on a Holo-recording or something” Brenda said hopefully.
“Naw, I’ve been back to see this, like, four times. I’m waiting for myself over there.” Sure enough, four other Marcuses were standing there, waiting to be joined by the fifth. He started to walk over. “But you’re more than welcome to join us.”
Jim sighed and started to slowly turn around. Brenda put her arm around him. They started to make their way back to the coordinates to be picked up by Tech Ted, unaware that he’d decided that he had enough abuse, and they could learn to enjoy a few extra hours in the past. As they walked, there was a bright flash of light, and a man in full Victorian garb stood in front of them.
“Greetings, world of the future!” the man said, “I’m Cornelius, I’ve travelled from 1833!”
“Shut up,” Jim replied.
“Hmph.” Cornelius replied, “Is everyone in the future so rude?”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mark Twain's Version of Star Wars Would Have Been Awesome.

Welcome to Day Three of the Bad Shakespeare Anniversaganza!

    Back when I started these posts, I had intended to simply chronicle my adventures as I study to be a teacher, or possibly Spider-man. Hundreds of radioactive spider-bites later, I’ve decided on the latter.

    Your little behind the scenes fact is that when I started writing Bad Shakespeare, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it. Yes, I wanted to somewhat cover my journey. It’s a pretty well done journey, and despite setbacks, it’s a standard journey. I’m taking the same classes as everyone else, etc.  But studying to be a teacher isn’t easy. You have to relearn a lot, and then you have to learn even more about why you’re relearning everything. Remember every time you asked, “When am I going to use this?” Well, if you’re going to be a teacher, that’s when you have to learn this.
   
    Or a time traveler who’s job it is to place these important lessons of literature into the minds of the people who are supposed to write them. That’s a very important job. If you get that job, see if you can fit at least one Star Wars reference into something written by Mark Twain. I bet if he had lived, he would have loved Star Wars. But those two jobs, that’s when you’ll have to use what you’ve learned in High School.

    But what I’m learning (other than Mark Twain would have written an awesome version of Star Wars) is that this journey is unique to me. I don’t know that I could have really appreciated this if I hadn’t been writing it down, and hadn’t been taking this journey with all of you, my readers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Down with Failure. Up with Cow and Boy!

   
Welcome to post number two for this week’s Bad Shakespeare First Birthday Anniversaganza.

    I talk a lot about failure on this blog. More than I’d like, because I want to be a positive force for getting back on that horse and riding it over the cliff again, because I seem to have an unlimited number of horses. I also have spoken before about a great love of mine, the twisted (now web-based) comic “Cow and Boy” which now resides as www.cowandboy.com. You should be reading it. In fact, if you’re not reading it now, the robots have already won.

    I bring this up because “Cow and Boy” needs help again. As a newly minted, newly started web comic, it needs an influx of readers. A few weeks ago, Mark Leiknes was promoting his new book “Back When We Were Bloopy” which is the bloopiest collection of comics ever, and he noted that he didn’t get as many orders as he hoped, and was going to have to cut back on the number of times “Cow and Boy” was published. It made me disappointed to see. The comic is funny, it’s pretty original, and it’s creator didn’t die centuries ago only to have newspapers constantly airing reruns and slapping “classic” on the page. So why aren’t more people reading it?

    Probably because it is original, and originality scares people. People want the familiar. They want a cat to hate Mondays despite the fact that he doesn’t have a job. They want that football to be pulled away. They don’t necessarily want a kid to be hit in the head with a cat-copter so much.

    Anyway, as someone who is going through a failing streak right now, I can empathize with Mr. Leiknes. It sucks to see something you love go down the tubes. So, Today’s mini-post in keeping with the Anniversganza, and things I love or have learned, I’m directing to you once again to www.cowandboy.com, and to get the word out so more eyeballs get onto that page, and we can start getting more adventures of Cow and her buddy Billy.

    Tell’em Michael sent you. It won’t mean anything. And I have no affiliation with them. In fact their really isn’t anyone there to tell. Just go read it, and try not to laugh.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Roger Ebert was my Yoda

Welcome, everyone to Bad Shakespeare’s Anniversaganza Week. All week, I’m going to be blogging smaller posts that, in addition to leading up to Saturday’s big announcement, really gets to the heart of what Bad Shakespeare is all about, and helps with some life lessons. Strap in, afix your jaw to the “stunned silence” position, and prepare to be amazed.

    For today’s post, I’m going to spend a moment to eulogize the great Roger Ebert. I’m the one billionth person to do this, so I’m not going to cover any different or great ground in doing this. I want to talk about the personal reason I feel Roger Ebert is one of the greatest men in the world, aside from the fact that he found the best excuse ever to not have to review the sixth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise.

    Roger Ebert loved movies.

    You got that, movie critics of today? Roger Ebert loved movies. He was unabashedly a movie fan. And you know what? That’s what we need in life. Too often movie reviewers (and reviewers of every kind) look for the great new prestige piece. We wouldn’t understand why this movie is great, as we are the commoners, while them with their fancy film degrees understand art. I remember people being up in arms when one of my favorite websites, the Onion’s AV Club, gave A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas a great review. Their response was along the lines of “It wasn’t Citizen Kane. But it did make us laugh. And that’s what it set out to do.” Because they enjoyed the movie. This also happened when Slate.com reviewed Les Miserables and chose a reviewer that started their review with "I don't like musicals." Then you've told us all you need to know about your opinion right there: you're taking yourself too seriously.

    Roger Ebert very famously panned the movie North, a disaster of such Cagian proportions it forced it’s actors Elijah Wood and Bruce Willis to never act again, and derailed what could have been the promising film career of Scarlett Johansson. (citation needed.)  The writer, Alan Zweibel, was on a talk show a few years ago, and pulled out the review that he keeps with him. Because he understood. Roger Ebert wasn’t trashing the movie coming from some high and mighty role. He was doing it from a movie fan’s perspective, and he just didn’t enjoy the movie. (Alan Zweibel would go on to write a book I reviewed for Bad Shakespeare, and one of the reasons I enjoyed it was the fact that it really seemed like Alan Zweibel enjoyed writing it.)

    Why is all this important? Because Roger Ebert wasn’t full of himself. He understood what he did. He watched and reviewed movies. He did something all of us need to do: enjoy things for what they are. Not everything is “the best.” Sometimes, something is good because we like it. Sometimes, we should enjoy ourselves, and not take anything too seriously.

    So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to my Russell Crowe albums, which I enjoy.

    So we bid adieu to Mr. Ebert as he goes to Heaven to review God’s personal movies, including “The Flood” which I’m sure Mr. Ebert would say that it started ok, but it went on a little too long. And I hope that I’m there when the conclave of movie reviewers visits the former Mann’s Chinese Theatre to elect the next Siskel and Ebert. They’ll send an intern out with a thumbs one once they are done.

Friday, April 5, 2013

I'm Han Soloing the Situation Until It's Been Nic Caged

So, I failed again.
                I’m starting too many blog posts like that. “Failing again.” If you haven’t guessed it, my absence from blogging was a result of me taking the Praxis 2 and failing again. It’s the last test I need to finish my schooling. It’s the last test I need before I can become a student teacher and eventually a teacher. It’s the last test that I have to take before everything is said and done and I’m on the career path I set out to do a few years ago. And every time I fail it, I feel like crawling under a smaller and smaller rock until there’s no Michael left.
                Why can’t I pass it?
                But you don’t come here to read self pity. You come here to read about my journey to be a teacher and occasional comedy bits like Les Miserables 3: The Color of Dis Bear which features both Zombie Javert and Zombie Valjean putting aside their differences to save Paris from a rampaging bear army that Marius has inadvertently set loose. Coming to theaters soon.
                I’ve got two stories about failure, and how to deal with it, and what my attitude is on this. The first one is from one of my very good friends, we’ll call him Jake (because that’s his name and since he’s not in witness protection I’ll assume I can use it), often tells me about someone else who was in a major bind, and how he dealt with it. I’m not clever enough to have thought of it this way, so I’m totally stealing it from him. He likes to tell the story of a man that had it rough. After having a price put on his head by bounty hunters, he goes to help some people and they’re attacked. He’s out of friends. He finally ends up visiting a friend of his, only to find out he’s been sold out. Now, Han Solo knows that his blaster will do nothing against Darth Vader at this point, but even after everything he’s been through… giant space worms, bounties on his head, his best friend selling him out… he doesn’t give up. He pulls out his blaster and gets off three good shots before Darth Vader pulls his blaster away.
                The moral of the story is, other than the fact that Han Solo will always rule, is that he kept fighting, even when he was at his lowest and he knew he couldn’t win.
                The other is a story very near and dear to my heart. It’s from a television show called American Dad and it features my favorite actor. It was a one off joke, but they introduce the theory of Nic Caging the situation. Ah, Nicolas Cage. The insanest insane man that has ever worked Hollywood, a town famous for it’s insanity. Nicolas Cage. The theory goes like this: Nicolas Cage has done a million different movies. Go find a genre, Nicolas Cage has done it. Have they all been hits? Not by a long shot. Many of them end up in the discount bin or are rarely, if ever seen. Has that stopped him? Never. That’s what Nic Caging the situation is. It’s standing tall, and throwing every last thing against the wall with the hope that one day, something is going to land.
                So, I’m still not sure which one of those is better… just keep Nic Caging it, or to Han Solo the situation. It would be so much easier if Han Solo had been played by Nicolas Cage, but I guess I can play it that way in my mind. I’m not going to devolve into self pity, which is why this post is at the end of the week rather than the woe-is-me at the start of the week. We’re doing this now because I’m so totally going to continue to Han Solo this situation until it’s Nic Caged. That’s just the way I role.
                On another note, faithful readers… we’re nearing one year since I’ve started this little adventure. We’re over 150 posts. Pay attention to some cool stuff coming up, as next week we celebrate the one year anniversary of Bad Shakespeare!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Les Miserables 2: Javert's Revenge. This time, it's Personal.

One of the best aspects of my current job is the fact that I work with some crazy people who tend to help nurture my crazier side. I’m still working hard to become a teacher, but if I can’t be a teacher right now, I’m glad I have a good work environment with people who help me realize that yes, I’m pretty crazy, but crazy with friends is creative. What follows is based on a conversation we had one day at work. Special thanks to Kim, Tyler, John, and Beppe for contributing and encouraging the following blog post.

Many movies came out this past year... One of the greatest was of course, Les Miserables. That’s right, the timeless tale of redemption and music that won Anne Hathaway her first Oscar (After she was snubbed for The Princess Diaries 2) was not only a hit, it was also nominated for Best Picture but lost to the a movie directed by Reindeer Games star Ben Affleck. But there’s hope. This is Hollywood. There’s always hope... as we work on the sequel. Today we are going to talk about our pitch for Les Miserables 2: Javert’s Revenge.

Zombies are in now, so naturally this movie opens with Javert, having just killed himself to spite Valjean’s gift of his life (listen folks, there’s committing to your blood feud, and then there’s Javerting your blood feud). Javert, his hatred and lust for justice so deep, he actually returns from the depths of hell to bring about justice on the Earth. The opening scene is a watery zombie-hand reaching from the watery depths of Hell itself as Zombie-Javert removes himself from the river where he killed himself.

Zombie-Javert then goes on a rampage, not just killing all those involved with the barricade, but also taking his own special brand of street justice to even the smallest infraction. Litter? Zombie-Javert will find you. Murder? Zombie-Javert will have none of that? Steal a loaf of bread? You’ve just awaked Zombie-Javert’s lust for true vengeance!

While this is happening, of course, Marius and Cosette are raising their baby daughter, Fantine, of course named after Cosette’s mother. Marius can’t help but feel that they are constantly being watched... and of course they are by Zombie-Javert and his lust for blood. In fact I’m sure one scene will musically involve Cosette insisting that everything will be fine as lightning strikes and we see just the outline of Russell Crowe in the shadow, waiting to pounce.

The Thenardiers of course are still around, selling trinkets that will deflect zombies from your house. Naturally, they end up working for Zombie-Javert, as they always back the winner.

Now, I’m not sure how this happened, but somewhere along the line our group saw something online that was a picture of Marius standing next to a bear with the line “Black.. the color of dis bear” as the caption. So, while Zombie-Javert is stalking the young couple, waiting for Valjean to reappear, we decided that Marius was going to be raising an army of bears for protection. It will all make sense once we have the musical number/training montage. Everything makes sense in the montage.

Naturally, all this Zombie-Javert killing raises the interest of Jean Valjean, who can’t sit idly by... or you know, deadly by, while all this killing is going on, so he comes back as a zombie as well, only a zombie as a force for good. I envision this scene well, as a young child is on the street, hungry, and a baker walks by, scoffing at the young child. Just as he looks up, post-scoff, a zombified hand reaches up and grabs a single loaf of bread... and hands it to the child. It’s Zombie-Valjean. He’s come to rush through the streets of Paris, striving to put right what Zombie-Javert has put wrong. It’s an extremely emotional scene, as the Zombie-Valjean will attempt to cry, but can’t... he’s just unable. He’s a zombie. Tom Hanks taught us there’s no crying in zombiehood.

This leads to a reprise of the wonderful musical number “Confrontation” only this time it’s Zombie-Javert vs. Zombie Valjean. Also, Marius’ army of bears vs. The Thenardiers, which admittedly would be a much shorter number, and mostly consist of bears roaring and Thenardier-screaming, but set to the jaunty tune of “Master of the House.”

Of course there will be a happy ending to it all, with Zombie-Valjean and Marius taking down Zombie-Javert, but only after he kidnaps Baby Fantine and Cosette, and a thrilling horse chase occurs through the rain-soaked streets of Paris, set to a hot pop song of the day and performed by onlookers. Many fruit stands will be ruined, that’s for sure.

That’s as far as we got with the story. There’s some talk of a rogue bear escaping Marius’ bear-army and wreaking havoc, thus setting up a third movie and thus completing a trilogy, and as we know any movie worth making is worth making as a trilogy.  Zombies are hot right now, so we’re pretty sure we can convince most of the cast to return, (What’s Russell Crowe doing right now that’s so important?) except for Anne Hathaway who’s probably a big star right now and too busy eying Princess Diaries 3 to consider coming back to reprise her role. But that’s why I didn’t include her, and if we need her for a flashback there are expensive computers that will allow us to digitally insert her into the action.

But as far as stories go, Hollywood, call us. We have your next big hit right here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Benjamin Franklin: American Prankster

    Today is April 1st... also known as April Fool’s Day.

    Now, I’m a bit of a troublemaker. In fact, one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was from a professor who described me as someone who worked well within the spirit of the law, not necessarily the letter. Greatest compliment I’ve ever received. I also may have played the occasional prank from time to time. After all, a good pranking helps lighten the mood, when done correctly.

    The history of April Fool’s Day is shrouded in mystery. Many believed it was first started during caveman times when one caveman would cover another one in antelope blood then leave him out in the saber-tooth tiger fields. Oh, the laughs they must’ve had.

    That being said, many people expect me to do something today because I am that troublemaker, and because I do so enjoy lightening the mood. But no. I will not stoop to pulling any pranks today. It’s April Fool’s Day! Everyone is playing a prank today, some of them bad. In fact, most of them bad. Good pranks take time. They take finesse. They take planning and execution. For every The Office related putting office supplies in Jello and covering a desk with post it notes, there’s a good one like slowly dismantling someone’s cubical every night and making it half an inch smaller.

    However, the greatest practical joke of all time was played by perhaps one of the greatest practical jokers of all time: Benjamin Franklin. That’s right. The Benjamin Franklin who ran newspapers, wanted us all to worship the turkey, and negotiated peace that made this country what it is. But I love this story, and I had to share it with all of you.

    So, back in the day Benjamin Franklin had an Almanac. This helped predict the weather, helped farmers decide when to plant crops... and had a rival. The rival Almanac writer was named Titan Leeds, because back then Almanacs were the hotness and warranted rivalries.

    One day, Benjamin Franklin for reasons unknown, maybe because he was drunk or stoned off his ass, decided that he wanted to up ante in the rivalry, and predicted that on a specific day, Titan Leeds was going to die. Now, I’m sure at this point Titan Leeds read the almanac, had a good laugh, and went about his business. I’m sure he had a bigger laugh when that day passed, and obviously Titan Leeds didn’t die. (Apparently Benjamin Franklin wasn’t willing to kill for a joke.) So, what do you think happened next? Do you think Ben

Printed a retraction?
Let it go, and tired to make better product?
or...
Convinced everyone that Titan Leeds did die, and that the person claiming to be Titan Leeds was an imposter?

This is Benjamin Freakin’ Franklin, who once tied a key to a kite to prove a point. The answer is obviously C.

That’s right, Benjamin Franklin convinced everyone that Titan Leeds died. This didn’t sit well with the real Titan Leeds, who was very much alive, and very much losing readers who now believed that he wasn’t the real Titan Leeds, because Benjamin Franklin was an elder statesman that everyone needed to listen to.

It gets better. Once Titan Leeds died, almost penniless, several years later, do you think Benjamin Franklin  came clean? Nope. Ol’ Benny then thanked the imposter for finally giving up on the charade and allowing everyone to live happily ever after. Because Benjamin Franklin was the man.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t mess with Benjamin Franklin.