- Decimate the environment
- Trigger World War III
- Spend outside of our means (most of us, at least)
- Experience Armageddon
- Destroy each other, for the most part
I certainly look forward to what the New Year will bring. And I hope we can continue not to do these things in 2014. You better believe that Gnostic Bent will be there when news happens—and I’ll be bringing it to you as long as this old body permits.
Have a very happy—and safe—New Year’s, everybody! Catch you on the flip side of the year that was!
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?
In just a few days, jolly old Santa Claus will begin his annual gift-giving journey to bring happiness to all the children of the world. The hustle-and-bustle of holiday shopping will magically transform into toys, delicious food and priceless time with family and friends. Yes, Christmas will help bring to an end another tumultuous—yet wonderful—year and will help usher in a new one. And though I’m not nearly as excited as I was as a child, I can say that I’m looking forward to it.
December 25th is an amazing day, to be sure, but it also got me thinking about today, the under-appreciated December 23rd. You see, of all the days leading up to Christmas, I believe that December 23rd gets the least love of them all. By now, people are so excited for “The Big Day” that they’re in a state of panic to finish all their last-minute shopping, wrap their presents and prepare for all the cooking to come. They rarely stop to appreciate the wonder that is December 23rd—a time when dreams still live and the wishes of Christmas haven’t been dashed by poor gift choices or… perish the thought… FRUITCAKE! Yuck!
Yet somehow, December 23rd—the so-called “tenth day of Christmas”—still got stuck with “ten lords a leaping” in that famous holiday song. What in the crap does that even mean? I’m sorry, but even ten “maids a milking” or “swans a swimming” would have been better than a bunch of royals with ADHD.
In an effort to right this terrible wrong and to show December 23rd the respect it so clearly deserves, I am proud to present some interesting facts and other tidbits about this important date—if you’re not too busy with your Christmas chores to check them out, I mean:
- 1783: George Washington resigns as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland.
- 1805: The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, Joseph Smith, is born in Sharon, Vermont.
- 1913: President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act into law and creates the Federal Reserve System.
- 1941: America gets its collective butt kicked as the Imperial Japanese Army occupies Wake Island after 15 days of fighting.
- 1946: Soap opera queen Susan Lucci is born in Scarsdale, New York.
- 1948: I can’t help showing some love for my boy Jack Ham, former linebacker for my Pittsburgh Steelers, who celebrates a birthday today. Hope it’s a good one, Jack!
- 1951: An NFL championship game is televised nationally for the first time as the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cleveland Browns 24-17.
- 1954: J. Hartwell Harrison and Joseph Murray perform the first successful kidney transplant.
- 1963: Former NFL quarterback and current San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is born in Toledo, Ohio.
- 1970: The North Tower of the World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the world at more than 1,300 feet. It would be destroyed 31 years later during the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
- 1972: The Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Oakland Raiders 13-7 following the “Immaculate Reception” by Franco Harris, who caught a deflected pass and ran it in for the winning touchdown! Go Steelers!
- 1972: The survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 are rescued after 73 days in the Andes—they resort to cannibalism to survive and are later featured in the 1993 film Alive.
- 1973: The soap opera “Young and the Restless” premieres on television, much to the chagrin of husbands everywhere. And no, I don’t watch soaps myself, even though this is the second time I’ve mentioned them here… strange.
- 1982: American actor Jack Webb—best known for his role as Sergeant Joe Friday on the radio and television series Dragnet—passes away from a heart attack at age 62.
- 1996: Four female priests are ordained in Jamaica, the first in the 330-year history of the Anglican Church.
- 1997: Terry Nichols is found guilty of manslaughter in the Oklahoma City bombing.
- 2000: Beloved American actor and “little person” Billy Barty dies of heart failure at age 76.
A lot has happened on December 23rd, don’t you think? And since there are still a few hours of daylight left, who knows what the immediate future will bring?
Happy almost Christmas, everybody!
Female superheroes never get the respect they deserve.
Honestly, their primary purpose has always been as comic book “eye candy,” put there to appeal to the prepubescent teens and random nerds who form the target demographic. Before you start cursing me for referring to people this way, though, please understand that I am a comic book nerd from way back. I have boxes and boxes of them and wait anxiously for the release of every superhero movie, so I feel uniquely qualified to represent this imaginative—and sometimes pimply—population.
But I digress.
Lady heroes deserve to be praised for being more than just pretty faces and gorgeous bodies—which I assure you most all of them possess. Sure, some superheroes have earned their own comic book titles—like She-Hulk and Wonder Woman—but it isn’t the same. Somehow when you read those comics, you can almost feel their intended purpose: to pull in the few female comic book nerds out there and once again to convince horny little geeks to buy comics filled with their favorite sexy lady heroes.
I’m still waiting to see a title featuring a tough, no-nonsense lady hero who won’t take crap from anyone and kicks enough ass to attract readers from both genders. And who knows? A comic like this may already exist. I’ve been out of the comic buying game for a while, so I confess to being rather ignorant of the current trends.
Yes, female superheroes deserve much more than what they’ve been given—which is little more than admiration based solely on their physical attributes. And I wish I could say this article was designed to break that pattern and to spark a conversation about gender equality in the comic book business, but sadly, this is not the case.
I am a comic book nerd—to some degree—but I am also a heterosexual male who grew up eyeballing the same female superheroes who struggle for relevance today. I guess you could say this is my own “horny little geek” coming out… so sue me.
By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. –New King James Version
Granted, the passage is a little wordy and repetitive—I can’t imagine there were many editors around in Biblical times—but today, I plan to follow God’s example and relax.
I know what you’re thinking, of course: this guy doesn’t even believe in God!
While that may be true to some extent—atheists are the ones who don’t believe in God, and I’m agnostic—the fact is that I know a good idea when I hear one. In higher education terms, this would qualify as a “best practice,” and I am all about using what works.
And today, relaxation is near the top of that list.
Using the word “near” was intentional because, sadly, I have some work to complete before I can chill like God on the Sabbath. Tomorrow is another school day and I have a class to teach on Tuesday, which means I have some notes to take, some Internet research to complete and a lesson plan to create—I could also check my students’ mid-term grades, but why ruin a perfectly good Sunday? Fortunately, I’m giving a test later this week, so only one lesson plan is needed. And even though one lesson plan should be a breeze to put together, the truth is that I simply don’t feel like working.
Call me lazy, if you will, but you may as well call God lazy since he did it, too! Of course, He created the universe, the world and everything in it; I’m just talking about a lesson plan for one freshman-level course at a small, private college in North Carolina. There is a slight difference, but why split hairs? We all play the hand we’re dealt, right?
About the only energy I have left, though, could easily be channeled into something God would likely disapprove of: Grand Theft Auto 5! I haven’t played it as much as I could have, mind you, but I can feel its claws sinking deeper and deeper into me every time I immerse myself in it. And I would be lying if I said it wasn’t calling my name right now.
Thankfully, I’ve managed to ignore its call all morning, opting instead to do some house work, run some errands and complete some other mundane, domestic tasks. Things are starting to level out now, which means school work is next. As soon as I finish writing this, my nose will be in a book and the next three hours will fade into history.
Unless I give in to temptation, convince myself that I have more self-control than I actually do and try to play a short session of GTA V, that is. Thirty minutes to an hour of game time couldn’t do serious damage to my work time, could it—considering it’s still pretty early in the day?
Ironic that one of the things I urge my students to avoid at all costs—procrastination—is the very thing I find myself in the throes of right now. Life certainly has a way of coming full circle…
Originally published on December 4, 2012. It’s a little morbid, but that’s kind of hard to prevent when your subject is death!
When you think of death, and trust me when I say this is something I try to avoid in most cases, it is often difficult to equate it with anything but morbidity and depression. However, the Grim Reaper obviously has a sense of humor and I personally feel it’s healthy to explore the lighter, more hilarious side of our ultimate demise. I am obviously not alone as people all over the internet have explored the lighter side of death in endless forums. Nevertheless, I would like to throw my hat into the ring and remind everyone that even in the most grim circumstances, there is some “funny” to be found.
Let’s start with that final announcement that comes when you push up daisies: the obituary. Here are some of my favorites from around the web:
“Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.”
“He was born in a log cabin… and was circumcised with his dad’s pocketknife.”
“Mike wanted it known that he died as a result of being stubborn, refusing to follow doctors’ orders and raising hell for more than six decades. He enjoyed booze, guns, cars and younger women until the day he died.”
“Loren… passed away of complications from MS and heartbreaking disappointment caused by the Kansas City Chiefs football team.”
“He was a connoisseur of root beer and bacon, searching far and wide for varieties he had yet to try.”
“When his family was asked what they remembered about Fred, they fondly recalled how Fred never peed in the shower—on purpose. [He] sadly was deprived of his final wish, which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a double date to include his wife, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to crash an ACLU cocktail party.”
“Louis bought the farm, having lived more than twice as long as he had expected and probably three or four times as long as he deserved. Lou was a daredevil: his last words were ‘Watch this!’”
“Her regular emails to family were often unintentionally hilarious as her typing was spotty and her typos were legendary. She was a difficult mother and a horrendous mother-in-law. She will STILL be missed.”
“In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully asked that donations be sent to the American Cancer Society or to the campaign of whoever is running against President Barack Obama in 2012.”
Even more entertaining are some of the gravestones people select to adorn their final resting places. Check out this gallery of some of the more strange, funny and bizarre ones to be found:
In the film Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a special interest television news reporter who longs for the lead anchor job, which is eventually given to his nemesis, Evan Baxter (played expertly by Steve Carell, I might add). Dissatisfied with his life, Bruce complains to God once too often and is suddenly visited by the Almighty himself, who endows Bruce with his powers and sets him loose on Buffalo, New York.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that Bruce soon realizes the error of his ways and comes to appreciate the Lord. His life suddenly has meaning and by the end, he starts to appreciate the little things, including Jennifer Aniston, who plays his girlfriend.
Personally, I wouldn’t have any trouble appreciating Jennifer Aniston, so that’s the one plot point I never connected with. It certainly didn’t prevent my enjoyment of the film, though, because I watch it nearly every time it’s on television.
The sequel to Bruce Almighty focuses on Evan Baxter, Bruce’s one-time foil who now finds himself elected to Congress. In this film, God contacts Evan and tells him he must build an ark to prepare for the coming flood. Evan initially resists, but gives in once animals start following him around and his physical appearance suddenly transforms into Noah—complete with a beard that can’t be trimmed and flowing robes that replace any outfit Evan attempts to change into.
The message in Evan Almighty is, of course, that one man can make a difference and change—or even save—the world. Again, this is a movie I catch myself watching any time I come across it while channel surfing. It never ceases to entertain me, and I have loved Steve Carell since his first appearance on “The Office” all those years ago.
The movie idea that I have is kind of in the same vein as these two films, albeit with slightly more drama and more serious undertones. Yes, there will be comedic elements throughout and a thoughtful message will be delivered by the end, but my movie will lean more towards the dramatic side of the coin, at least in its final act.
Bruce had God’s powers and Evan built an ark. For my film—the working title of which is Come Again (as I’m sure you gathered from the title of this post)—the religious, Biblical event will be… wait for it… the SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST!
You think that might get people talking?
I’ll be honest. All I have so far are some general ideas, a few character possibilities and some tentative scenes in mind. Nothing about this idea has been fleshed out, despite it being locked in my head for a number of years. I can’t remember when it originated—perhaps as early as 1988, when The Last Temptation of Christ was released, or as late as The Passion of the Christ in 2004—but one or both of these films played their part and inspired me.
I’ve just been lazy in actually dealing with it, which is why I’m sharing it with you today, dear readers. I’m hoping that YOU will provide the insight I need to get this idea off the ground after first determining whether you feel it’s worthy of my attention at all. Yes, I’m asking a lot, but you have always been up to the task and I have no reason to believe this will be any different. Thanks again for being so willing to help.
Before I begin, let me first offer this brief disclaimer: I am not and would never profess to be an expert in the subjects of religion and spirituality. As my blog title indicates—sort of—I am agnostic and do not practice any specific religion. I have studied world religions before—both in college and recreationally, to satisfy my own interests—but certainly hold no academic degrees in these fields. Please excuse any discrepancies you find between my own fictional story and Biblical accounts. Instead, do me a “solid” and point them out by leaving some comments. The more accurate my depiction can be, the better, after all.
That being said, here is the basic premise of Come Again. Please excuse me if some of this drifts into the stream of consciousness, pun intended.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. –Matthew 24:36, NIV
As I understand it—and given my limited knowledge of the Bible—the Second Coming is when Jesus Christ comes down from Heaven to take true believers and the penitent upstairs while everyone else burns down below. Granted, this is a very rough interpretation, but it covers the basics.
Consider this, though: What if God took a different approach and instead had his Son “reborn” into a human body? This would allow Jesus a firsthand view of the human experience and, in turn, allow for a more informed judgment of mankind later. By living as a human—in this case one who isn’t born with the knowledge of who he really is—Jesus can experience what we experience and feel what we feel. He can truly understand.
What came to mind next was the question of Jesus’ rebirth. The first time around was immaculate—Mary just turned up pregnant and the father turned out to be The Big Man himself. This time, though, I feel like it could go one of two ways. First, the birth could again be immaculate, only this time it’s because his mother is a whore and can’t remember who she may have been with at the time of his conception. Not knowing in this way equates to having no father at all.
The second approach would be to give Jesus both a mother and a father. Yes, God is his real dad, but he would also have a human father in his life. And since he doesn’t realize he’s the Second Coming—at least not until later in the film—this man would actually be his father, and he would love him accordingly.
Personally, I like the second option because it gives Jesus an even deeper, more fulfilling human experience. Would you agree?
Okay, let’s assume that Jesus is reborn and give him a name. I have toiled over what to call this person and tried desperately to find a name that hinted at something Biblical. The working name I’ll use for now is pretty obvious: Jay. Yes, I could also call him J.C., but I have a friend with that name and as much as I hate to say it, he ain’t no Jesus. He’s close, but those shoes are too big for his tiny feet to fill, believe me.
Of course, I did come up with some more creative names, I think. One was Lee—being short for Galilee—and I even toyed with the notion of calling him Nezra—a play on the word Nazareth. With no intention of sounding racist, this name seemed a little black to me since the only Nezras I’ve ever known have been black. It might not be a bad idea to make him black since some believe Jesus may have actually been black. Odds are he had more of an olive complexion, but who knows for sure. This would certainly add some controversy, but that’s not really what I’m after, so why go down that road?
I did consider naming the main character Beth for Bethlehem, but that would also require a change in gender. Granted, this could add a layer to the film and intensify Jesus’ human experience—having to deal with new genitalia and more attention from guys on top of everything else—but I have no idea how I’d write that one. A female partner would help since my depictions of females have always been lacking. Hell, I don’t understand women myself, much less how to write realistic women into my screenplays!
Back to Jay.
Jay is born and lives his life as any human boy would. Maybe he has a home with loving parents or a broken home with a negligent father, who knows. I haven’t really gotten that far yet. We can assume that regardless of his upbringing, Jay is a genuinely good person with a kind heart—he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, for His sake. As such, perhaps he volunteers at a soup kitchen, helps others as a social worker or simply lends a hand to anyone in need. Jay is a nice guy and, whenever possible, he is always looking out for his fellow man.
I kind of envision Jay as an activist… one of those people who are sick and tired of everything that’s wrong in the world and willing to take action while others do nothing. Unfortunately, his activism comes at a cost when it interferes with—and eventually terminates—his actual career and even his relationship with his girlfriend. Jay is on a downward spiral, but somehow manages to “keep the faith”—in more of a spiritual than religious way—and that’s when it happens.
He starts to catch glimpses of who he truly is.
At this point, my ideas get a little hazy and disjointed. I have no idea where the whole “judgment of humanity” plot line will lead—which is basically the entire third act, I imagine—but I do have some scene ideas involving Jay’s awakening. The first comes in his bathroom just after taking a shower.
Jay is standing in his bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. His hair is wet and water is still dripping off of him as he stands there admiring himself in the small mirror over the sink. Steam still fills the room as Jay decides to check a different mirror: the full-length one behind the bathroom door.
The long mirror is fogged up, so Jay uses his still damp hand to wipe it clear. Just as he does, he notices a rather disturbing reflection that sends him leaping backwards in shock, nearly into the shower curtain and tub behind him. He slowly rises to his feet, never once taking his eyes off the reflection in front of him.
Standing there is Jesus Christ, complete with robes, sandals and that trademark beard. Even more, it isn’t some image of Jesus, like one you might see in a Sunday school book; it’s him made to look like Jesus.
Unable to believe his eyes, Jay immediately slaps himself across the face, shakes his head vigorously and checks the mirror again. This time the reflection is his own: a half-naked man dripping wet with a towel wrapped around his waist. Jay sighs with relief at what he thinks must be some kind of hallucination and just before the scene cuts, his towel accidentally falls to the ground.
That’s the first potential scene I came up with, but the second would come a short time later. By this point, Jay’s had some strange experiences that lead him to believe he might be Jesus reborn, but he still hasn’t accepted the fact completely. Maybe he decides to visit a friend—someone more religious who might be able to help—or to do some other as-yet-determined task, but this scene takes place in his car.
Jay is driving along, minding his own business and sipping from a bottle of water he just bought at a convenience store. Perhaps the soundtrack from Jesus Christ Superstar is playing, he’s typing out a text message on his cell phone or something else is distracting him, but Jay doesn’t realize he’s picked up speed.
A highway patrolman passing by him notices, though, and moments later Jay is pulled over to the side of the road. He knows a speeding ticket is coming his way and despite being a grown man, still finds himself nervous. To calm his anxiety—as the officer slowly approaches his car—Jay takes a few deep breaths and one more swallow from his water bottle. He kicks the bottle back, takes a few big slugs with his eyes closed and then opens his eyes to a damning realization: the water in the bottle is now red because he turned it into wine!
Try explaining that one to a cop with purple teeth and an open bottle of wine in your hand!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I have. Granted, there are some other ideas floating through my mind—and I haven’t really devoted the proper time to this idea yet—but for now, that’s everything.
So my questions for you, dear reader, are as follows: Do you think this is an idea worth pursuing? Does it seem like a film you and others would want to see? Or is it total crap and a complete waste of time?
Remember that I am not easily offended—if you manage to offend me at all, which is hard to do—and I welcome any constructive criticism, feedback or suggestions you are willing to offer. Please use the comments section and understand that anyone who attacks me for religious reasons—because using Jesus and the Bible in a fictional story is sacrilegious or something—will have their comments removed since nothing here is intended to mock Christianity or those who follow it. To them I say simply, “Lighten up.”
And who knows? I may even toss in a poll to make responding even easier. Either way, thanks for reading about my latest Big Idea despite its excessive length and my rather verbose approach. Creativity just gets me worked up, you know?
Peace out, peeps. And be good to each other.
It is no secret that when it comes to the undead, no one is a bigger fan than me. And few undead thrill me more than those mindless, lumbering walkers with a perpetual case of the munchies: zombies.
If a film features zombies, then I have either seen it, heard about it or soon plan to see it. No matter how terrible the cast, the acting, the plot or even the special effects, I can find something enjoyable in any zombie movie because hey, I freaking love zombies. And yes, I am a die-hard follower of The Walking Dead, arguably the best show on television at this moment in time.
As a TWD fan, I often find myself creating subplots and characters for future episodes of the show, as if I had Robert Kirkman’s ear and he would actually incorporate them into his mega-hit on AMC. With the new season still months away, this allows me to reenter the world I miss so much—to ease the zombie withdrawal I experienced when my weekly fix disappeared for the summer.
My most recent idea centers on a character. And believe me when I say that none of this has been explored on the Internet or anywhere else, for that matter. As such, any similarity to the idea of another is incidental… not to mention a damn shame since I thought this was original!
I’m kidding, of course.
The Walking Dead character I imagine is a zombie hunter—henceforth known as ZH. Yes, while other survivors scramble for food and supplies, quarrel over territory and do their best to avoid becoming a Hungry Man meal for zombies, this guy goes where the undead roam and takes out as many as possible. It’s almost as if he has some kind of vendetta to fulfill—some inner demon to satisfy that compels him to “kill” walkers and twitchers.
Initially, the ZH’s back story went something like this:
ZH is a stable and happy young man with loving parents, a good head on his shoulders and lots of opportunities. His father—a research scientist for some unknown branch of the government (he has never been allowed to say)—is an excellent provider and a great dad, but he often works long hours and ZH can sometimes go for days at a time without so much as a sighting. Nevertheless, the two are close and always cherish their time together.
Just after ZH’s eighteenth birthday, that “quality time” with his father suddenly increases. Instead of being absent for most of the day, his father stays home, does a little work on his computer and then finds his son for what he calls “data transference”—the passing of knowledge from father to son. They adjourn to some quiet corner of the expansive home or venture out to the guest house—occasionally they scamper into the woods—and there the lessons begin.
From his father, ZH learns philosophy, religion, art, science, technology, martial arts, weaponry, survival and a host of other subjects and skills. This goes on for months and ZH isn’t sure why, but his dad seems desperate—as if he only has a limited amount of time to complete his teachings before it all ends. One day he finally summons the courage to ask his father about it and, unfortunately, regrets it a moment later.
His father tells him that his lab was developing a weaponized virus meant to cause temporary paralysis, only something went horribly wrong. Tests on chimps revealed that the virus (Z-48) attacks the nervous system, causes death within minutes and then reanimates the corpse. And when they return, the “undead” are no longer kind, gentle or loving; they are vicious, violent and bloodthirsty… basically zombies.
According to his dad, this weapon could turn entire populations into the walking dead (wink wink) and he wanted no part of it. He made arrangements to work from home until he could be reassigned, but decided he should spend this time teaching his son… preparing him for what was to come.
Sadly, his father’s health deteriorates rapidly in the coming weeks and despite their best efforts, ZH and his mother can only watch him wither away and die. They sit at his bedside as he takes his final breath, and then he is gone. Mom leans over to kiss his head one last time and that’s when it happens: dad suddenly comes to life and attacks mom!
Before ZH knows what’s happening, his mother is lying on the ground—bleeding out from a huge gash in her neck—and zombie daddy is heading his way. Without even thinking, he grabs a stoker from the fireplace in his parents’ bedroom and runs it through his father’s head, dropping him immediately. ZH pulls out the stoker just as his mother leaps to her feet and comes after him. It hurts him to do it, but he impales her skull with the stoker, too.
His family is dead, victims of a deadly weapon intentionally used against them (someone was trying to shut his father up)… and now it’s time for revenge!
Unfortunately, the Z-48 virus wipes out everyone at the lab where his father once worked, so ZH decides to unleash hell on those he views as the now-defunct government’s minions: the zombies.
And so the Zombie Hunter is born. At least that’s the basic idea.
Then I started thinking about my favorite comic book hero as a child, teen and even now: the one-and-only Dark Knight, the Batman. Combine him with the Zombie Hunter and what do you get?
Actually, it should be Zombie Hunter Batman, but why split hairs?
On the one hand, you have Bruce Wayne. Orphaned at a young age when his parents are gunned down during a robbery, he devotes his life to fighting crime and uses his fortune to support his efforts. He even had a sidekick for a while there—Dick Grayson’s Robin, who eventually became Nightwing.
Sorry. That’s the comic book nerd coming out in me.
On the other hand, you have ZH. Orphaned at a slightly later age when he’s forced to kill his own zombie-infected family, ZH uses his knowledge and training to destroy the undead and to return normalcy to the world. Hell, he could even have a younger brother or sister as a sidekick.
I envision Zombie Batman still having some kind of hideout, only one far less advanced in terms of technology—power is hard to come by in a zombie apocalypse, after all. It would be secure and hidden, of course, and there could still be some power to speak of. I once had an idea for a kind of water wheel—like the ones used for hydroelectric power long ago—only this one would lie flat and serve as more of a pen. Metal bars would run like spokes from the center to the edges, but the gaps in between would be filled with zombies. Drop in some bait—like a live person seated behind Plexiglas or some other fresh, unreachable meat—and those zombies will turn the wheel until they decompose. The kinetic energy could funnel into a generator and charge battery cells to power ZH’s equipment, lights and other amenities.
And when the old zombies wear out, just throw in some fresh ones and you’ll have power for weeks. It could work.
Rather than hunting down criminals, Zombie Batman hunts zombies. But what if I went a different direction with this? Could I pitch a similar idea to the comic book Big Boys: Marvel and DC Comics?
Think of it in terms of the classic Marvel title, What if?
What if Batman had to face a zombie apocalypse and ultimately kill those he once swore to protect?
What if the Hulk or Superman became zombies? Who could stop them?
What if the Spider-Man was infected and used his webs to subdue victims?
The possibilities are endless. And if “what if” scenarios aren’t your bag, why not a crossover mini-series between DC and Marvel that addresses the zombie apocalypse? I’m not sure if it has ever been done, but zombies are huge right now and I know something like this would work. Now if I can only find a way to cash in on it…
Let me know what you think about these ideas! Leave a comment and share your opinion! Thanks!
Have you ever had an idea that you knew was good—that you were certain could produce a windfall of cash if marketed correctly—but that you never pursued? Better yet, have you ever seen your good idea brought to life by someone who enjoyed the success you so clearly deserved, but were too lazy to seek?
I won’t assume we have all experienced this, but I suspect it’s a pretty common situation for those who classify themselves as creative—writers, actors, artists and the like. Unfortunately, it has happened to me more times than I can count, most notably after graduate school.
As part of my master’s thesis, I wrote a feature film script entitled Human Rites and successfully defended it before a panel of esteemed academics. Given that I was such a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino at the time—Pulp Fiction remains one of my favorite films—my script was classic film noir and focused on a former criminal who decided to fly right and leave his shady past behind him, only to be pulled back into “the business” by a friend in need. And as you might imagine, things don’t go very smoothly and take a dark turn towards the end.
It’s film noir, after all. What do you expect?
The story was nothing groundbreaking—as many writers say, every story worth telling has likely already been told. So I suspected my own film was little more than an amalgam of all the crime dramas I had seen in my life. Nevertheless—and despite some weak dialogue (which was never my strong suit)—my professors enjoyed it and saw potential in my idea. One even said he would pay to see it on The Big Screen someday and, honestly, it seemed completely possible at the time.
Call it the idealism of youth, but I was certain that some production company would jump at the chance to make my movie. They would option the screenplay for hundreds of thousands of dollars, fly me out as a consultant on the set, invite me to walk the red carpet at its eventual premiere and relish in the fact I had just been added to their stable of artists. Offers would start rolling in—I would have my choice of which to pursue, of course—and my bank account would swell so much that family members I never met would start coming out of the woodwork to mooch off of me. There would be appearances on late-night talk shows, product endorsements—“Try 5-hour energy, the only boost I need to create the next summer blockbuster”—and maybe even a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live.
It was going to be great!
Sadly, things didn’t work out quite as I had planned. Life got in the way and before I knew it, my idea was little more than an afterthought… a story printed and stored in the university library, but one unlikely to ever see the light of day. Could it have been an entertaining and even lucrative film? I certainly thought so, but this would remain a huge “what if” for years to come.
The film centers on Mike McDermott, an illegal poker player who loses his bankroll, leaves the underworld to pursue a law degree and soon finds himself “rounding” again to help Lester “Worm” Murphy, a childhood friend recently released from prison who still owes a lot of money to the wrong people. Much like my main character in Human Rites, Mike resists at first, but reluctantly agrees to help his friend and sinks back into the seedy world of illegal poker. The only difference is that in Mike’s case, it works. He makes the money needed to pay off Worm’s debt, drops out of law school and heads for Las Vegas to compete in the World Series of Poker’s main event.
My own film ends in disaster, but that’s not really the point.
The real point of fact is that aside from the addition of poker—which was becoming increasingly popular prior to the release of Rounders—the happy ending and some minor plot differences, my screenplay was essentially the same. Granted, the script written by David Levien and Brian Koppelman may have been better technically—especially with regard to dialogue—but the fundamental plots were nearly identical. And since someone in Hollywood gave the “green light” to Rounders, it stands to reason that the same approval could have been granted to my script, provided I had the contacts needed to get it into the right hands and actually got off my ass to get it done.
So instead of working with actors I absolutely love—Matt Damon and Edward Norton are two of my favorites—and raking in more than $12 million worldwide, I got nothing. And the screenplay I spent so much time and effort creating still lies dormant on that library shelf, waiting patiently for someone to discover and appreciate it more than I did.
Given how depressing this experience was, I always told myself I would never miss an opportunity like this again. The only problem is that for every bright idea I have, I discover that someone else had it first. I suppose that’s one of the dangers of the Internet since people can access nearly every idea with only a few keystrokes. Nevertheless, this will not stop me from developing even more ideas and hopefully doing more with them than I did with Human Rites. To aid in this endeavor—and to ensure my ideas are as original as they can (and should) be—I decided to start a new column on Gnostic Bent: The Big Idea.
Here’s how it works.
Whenever an idea comes to mind—whether it’s for a blog post, television series, film, short story or any other genre—I will refrain from Internet research—which almost always shoots my ideas down—and instead share it here with you, dear readers. What you get will be the raw thoughts of an idea in limbo, the foundation upon which the story—if unique and interesting—may eventually be built. If it sounds familiar or worse, if it seems like a huge waste of time, I am hoping you will comment to let me know and to offer feedback, criticism and suggestions. Hell, I may even toss in a poll for readers less apt to post comments or more interested in clicking boxes than typing words. You never know.
Although this format relies heavily on reader participation—and I can find value in any comments people feel like sharing—it also allows me to get ideas down before they drift out of my mind and never return. I can also use this as a means of documenting my ideas in case anyone tries to steal them later. Would this hold up in a court of law? I doubt it, but at least it’s something, right? And if enough people respond positively to an idea to make it viable, I will of course protect it using more official means—submitting it as a treatment to the Writer’s Guild, for instance. I just need to make sure it’s worthy first, and that’s where you come in, dear reader.
It is YOU who will get the proverbial—and creative—ball rolling. And I want to say thank you in advance to anyone kind enough to share their thoughts and opinions. They will be appreciated and utilized, I assure you.
This brings me to my first BIG IDEA, which came to me last night as I was heating up some macaroni and cheese for dinner. Once it was ready, the microwave beeped three times to let me know. A split second later, I heard an identical beeping coming from some other part of the house—the same succession of three beeps in essentially the same tone. I knew this was simply a coincidence and that someone on television must also be heating up food, but it got me thinking.
What if the sound was coming from a parallel universe that for some reason was now accessible from my current reality?
I envisioned another version of myself standing in the kitchen of some alternate universe, heating up food for dinner just as I was doing in my world. Almost everything about this other dimension would be similar to my own—I would look the same, act the same and experience similar challenges—but there would be some key differences to set it apart. For instance, where I struggle to pay bills and make ends meet in this life, my alternate self would be blessed with enormous wealth and would have fewer financial worries in his. My failures would be his successes, my losses his gains.
I have to say that this idea intrigued me. And I immediately thought about how this might “play out” on film.
Imagine a main character whose life is coming unraveled at the seams. His girlfriend dumped him, he lost his job and nearly everything he knows is turning to crap. To make matters worse—and to isolate him even more from his fellow humans—he has also started hearing voices and other strange sounds that no one else can hear. Needless to say, those closest to him believe that he’s losing his mind, even though this is definitely not the case.
Our hero—who I’ll refer to as Jim until I can think of something better—soon realizes that the voice in his head is his own. And I’m not talking about the inner voice that we all possess, either. This one is distinct and different, which Jim knows because the messages it conveys refer to things he has never experienced in his life… often things he wishes he could experience had his life choices been better: wealth, beautiful women, professional success, stardom… the list goes on.
Eventually—and after being alienated from nearly everyone in his life—Jim discovers the source of the mysterious voice and other unexplained sounds. For whatever reason, a small rip formed in the space-time continuum and opened the door to an alternate reality, a new dimension to parallel Jim’s current reality. What’s more, Jim can access this “other world” through a worm hole that suddenly appeared in the back of his bedroom closet.
Did you catch the reference to C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? The wormhole doesn’t have to be in the closet, necessarily, but it seemed like a nice touch. Kind of an homage to one of my favorite childhood authors, if you will.
At any rate, Jim reluctantly decides to enter this parallel universe and that’s when things really get crazy. I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but the obvious plot points are there: Jim meets his other self, who isn’t all he’s cracked up to be; there is a dark side to this alternate reality, one that will forever change Jim and his perspective; Jim discovers that even success can come at a price and relishes the fact that while his life decisions may not have been great, they were certainly better than those made by his parallel self; and so on, and so forth.
Granted, some of these seem rather canned and overused, so some tweaking will be needed before I can truly get this idea off the ground. It does seem promising, though, at least to me. Again, I haven’t looked around to see how many other films feature such a premise, but I’m sure they are out there. Like any writer, my ideas spring from a well filled with the works of past and contemporary artists: actors, writers, producers, painters, directors, screenwriters and anyone else involved in the creative process that inspires me. As such, I sometimes generate ideas I believe to be original, but that end up belonging to someone else. Either that or I incorporate elements of their work into my own, kind of like the C.S. Lewis thing a few paragraphs ago.
Whatever the case may be, I sincerely hope this idea is original and has the potential I think it has. Of course, that is not for me to decide; it’s for YOU to judge. If you think this idea has merit and that I should expend energy on developing it further—or even if you don’t—please consider posting a comment to let me know. I also welcome suggestions, criticism—as long as it’s warranted, of course—and any other feedback you’re willing to provide. Nothing is off-limits and since I rarely—if ever—get offended, pulling punches or sugar-coating things will not be necessary. I would rather you be honest and direct than pretend what I have here is worth more than it actually is. After all, this is the only way to grow and improve, right?
And please, please, please… three “pleases” should be enough… let me know if you have EVER heard an idea like this, read a story similar to this one or seen a film that features this same basic premise. Before I devote myself to fleshing out this idea, I would like to know that it’s at least original and unique for the most part. If every story has already been told, then all I need to do is find an interesting way to tell it differently.
With your help, I may be able to do just that. Thanks for reading and hopefully participating in this little blog experiment. And please be on the lookout for the next Big Idea, which I hope will come as I’m preparing dinner tonight!
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: blogging can be a real pain in the ass.
Any writer can tell you how hard inspiration can be to come by, but that’s only half the battle. The other half comes in the very act of sitting down to punch the keys, push the pencil or… actually, that’s probably it. Nevertheless, writing in any medium is not an easy task. Sure, some people will tell you it’s an art—and in some ways, it probably is (or at least used to be)—but writing is also work, and damn hard work at that.
Is it as tough as controlling air traffic, roofing a house in the middle of summer or serving aboard a commercial fishing vessel? Of course not, but it’s in the same ball park.
And pain is pain no matter how you slice it.
What makes blogging so challenging—and yes, blogging is writing, despite what its critics might say—is also what makes it so rewarding. The moment you press that “publish” button to send your latest post into cyberspace, you are out there. Within seconds, the piece you just spent hours, days or even months toiling over, struggling with and cursing—if you’re anything like me, that is—could be resting comfortably on the computer monitor of some unknown reader halfway around the world. And if that person is so inclined, you may even receive a comment—almost instantaneous feedback from someone you never met, but who you immediately respect because—face it—they were intelligent enough to read your work.
And the opinions of readers with such impeccable taste are always welcomed and valued.
It also helps that, in my experience, people who take the time to comment are generally worthy of respect. There are exceptions, of course—spammers, would-be politicians, holier-than-thou hypocrites and other colorful characters, all of whom I have inherent skill in pissing off—but most commenting readers state their case, share their thoughts and return that respect without being unfair, unreasonable or… to be perfectly honest… mean.
A couple of mean comments hurt my feelings, but then I realized I was a grown man with functioning testicles and cursed myself for being so hypersensitive.
The truth is that even the worst comments—the ones that strike deep, point out a flaw or accuse me of something I never intended or imagined—have value. Imagine if a writer’s work received nothing but glowing compliments and kudos despite its shortcomings or—put mildly—its general suckiness. Would they ever improve or learn the true nature of their talent, or lack thereof? Hell no. Personally, I would rather someone lay into me so long as they identify problems with my writing I can correct, ideas I haven’t thought through enough or information I ignored or overlooked.
Constructive criticism is good, after all. And it’s what makes blogging and writing so similar, but also so different.
Long before computers—back when all I could write on was paper or a piece of shit Brother word processor with a tiny, discolored screen—I could expose my innermost thoughts because at the end of the day, I knew no one else was ever likely to read my work. Sure, I would share a little here and there with family and close friends—usually those rare stories or articles I deemed worthy of being shared (and I am and have always been my own worst critic)—but that was the extent of it. And since that Brother died long ago in a storage unit flooded during a hurricane—along with my old journals and other assorted scribblings—it turned out that I was right. No one would ever see them; Mother Nature made sure of that.
These days—and thanks to the wonderful people at WordPress, who offer free blogs with tons of great features to writers like me—I create something and no longer hide it in some dresser drawer or personal storage facility. I hit “publish” and set it loose on the world. I know this because of one of those great WP features I just mentioned: statistics.
Providing statistical data for customers is nothing new—and I have never been one for the numbers anyway—but tracking my WP blog statistics for the past year has been both interesting and enlightening. Information like the number of visitors to my blog, their total views of my posts and the number of people following my blog is nice, but my favorite data is the less conventional stuff—specifically the search engine terms that led readers to my site and the views of my work by country.
Take yesterday, for instance.
On July 24, 2013, I published an article entitled “Eat Fresh? Yeah, Right” about a jackass Subway employee in Ohio who rolled his penis across some bread dough and posted pictures of it online. It went live in the late morning and by day’s end had accumulated some 50 or 60 views. Granted, it wasn’t at the top of the list—some older posts continue to interest readers more, for some reason—but it was a respectable performance. Since it could have been better, though, I decided to investigate further. And I started with search engine terms.
What were readers Googling and Binging to bring them to Gnostic Bent? Was there some pattern or discernible “method to their madness,” maybe something I could use later for my own blog benefit?
Sadly, the answer to that second question might be no. You be the judge, though. Here are the top search engine terms that led readers to me yesterday: jennifer lawrence nipple, conjoined twins nude, kim kardashian sex, free sex videos and jodi arias ass.
There is a discernible pattern, to be sure, but it would only be helpful if I intended to write a sex blog rather than a simple personal one. Since that isn’t likely to happen any time soon—or ever—I prefer to read through some of the zanier search terms just for shits-and-giggles. Here is a sampling of yesterday’s more humorous selections: boys wiener hanging out of pants, do all women suck it in, sucks being female, kate middleton boob, sunbathing birthday cake, teens skinny dipping, childbirth, acid cow camel, penis size does matter, sexy star trek, princess of mars nude, anal examination and bigfoot dead.
In retrospect, those search terms don’t seem very flattering and give a weird impression of my blog. “Anal examination” will lead you here? It simply isn’t possible! Nevertheless, I included only the handful of search terms interesting enough to share. The majority of them were tame, run-of-the-mill and, honestly, quite boring. Believe me.
Regardless of what brings readers to my blog—even if it’s the royal, milk-filled boobs of Catherine, new mom and the Duchess of Cambridge—I am more fascinated by the places from which they come. And thanks once again to WordPress—they aren’t paying me to write this, I assure you—I can track the total views of my posts in every country around the globe. If what their colorful map shows is accurate, then at least one person in almost every country on Earth has viewed my work. Maybe they mistakenly found it and immediately surfed away. Maybe a child accidentally discovered it and hit the “follow this blog” button repeatedly as if it were a game. Who knows? The fact that it is even possible astounds me.
Consider yesterday’s statistics in the “views by country” category, if you will.
I’m obviously an American. So naturally, most of my views come from the United States. And yesterday was no exception—the U.S. pulled in nearly three times as many views as the number two country, New Zealand. Following the leaders were Latvia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Slovakia, France, Indonesia, Australia, Sweden, Hungary and Greece.
Greece! It blows my mind to think that someone there read something I wrote. And since I had two views from there, it’s easier to convince myself at least one of them was valid. The opposite could also be true, I suppose—that two different people in that beautiful country read my work—but I’m kind of jaded and pessimistic where my writing is concerned. It’s a defense mechanism to protect against negativity, rejection and harsh criticism. I’m pretty sure most writers employ it at one time or another.
As if this wasn’t enough, a quick look at my all-time summaries showed hundreds of countries where views were logged, some of which I never heard of before—and I apologize in advance if this offends anyone from the mysterious nations I mention: St. Kitts and Nevis? Lesotho? Guernsey? Jersey? Brunel Darussalam? I have no idea where any of these places are—a few of them sound vaguely familiar—but I salute them nonetheless. And the thought of readers being there—wherever there is—blows my mind even more.
That seems to happen a lot since I first set up my WordPress blog. And despite all its challenges, its pain and its blood, sweat and tears, blogging is awesome and is definitely worth it. Granted, I don’t have a monetized blog raking in advertising revenue or peddling e-books or Amway products, but that’s fine by me. I see blogging more for the writing and less for the business anyway.
There’s time for monetizing later, but first you need a product worth selling. A product people want or, better yet, need.
I’m not ready for that because right now, blogging is a pleasure. And you know what they say about mixing business with pleasure, right? I can’t remember exactly how it goes. I just know that it’s never a good idea.
So thank you WordPress and, most importantly, thank you READERS for making my first year or so of blogging such a delight. I appreciate your time, comments and friendships—yes, I have made some pretty good friends this way—so here’s to another great year of pressing words in the blogosphere!
I hope to see you there!
This article was originally published on July 13, 2012 and didn’t get much play—you can find the original HERE. However, given all the talk of excessive heat, climate change and natural disasters lately, I figured what the hell? Toss it out there again and see if it strikes a nerve with readers the second time around. It was pretty fun to write—being sarcastic and stupid is a hoot, which is why I do it so often—so I hope you enjoy it. And please remember to do the OPPOSITE of everything you read here. I’m sure that will be obvious in a moment, but it makes me feel better to say it… um, write it, I mean.
Everyone talks about how to save the Earth. They stress the importance of recycling, planting trees, controlling waste and a host of other things that, if practiced by everyone, could return the planet to a healthier state. Of course, I’m not an environmentalist and only seem to “go green” when I have a cold, but all this talk about saving the Earth got me thinking.
What can we do to speed up Earth’s destruction?
Here are some ways you can contribute to Mother Nature’s ultimate demise.
Forget about recycling
Humans use and consume all sorts of different products, from foodstuffs and beverages to plastics and other manufactured materials. The next time you find yourself with waste that could be recycled, why not simply toss it in the trash instead? It’s much more convenient than crushing cans, breaking down cardboard boxes and hauling cumbersome recycling containers to the curb every week. And isn’t life supposed to be as convenient as possible?
Grow your local landfill
If you do toss out all your waste—including those plastic bottles—then an added bonus will be significant growth in your local landfill. And bigger is always better, right? Furthermore, the crap you send to the landfill contains toxins that over time will break down and produce methane gas, another pollutant that attacks our environment and kills wildlife. Talk about two birds with one stone.
Smoke them if you got them
Cigarettes, cigars and pipes all contribute to air pollution and may even infect other humans who inhale their toxic fumes. If your quest is to destroy the Earth, then I suggest smoking as much as possible. However, be careful not to smoke too close to your fellow humans. The more people who remain on the Earth, the faster we’ll be able to destroy it.
Take up hunting and fishing
The things we do to pollute the planet can be extremely harmful to the world’s wildlife. Streams and rivers full of medical waste kill fish and other organisms. Oil spills bathe birds and other marine life in thick, sweet goo. But somehow most of these species manage to survive and even thrive. To prevent this from happening, why not take up hunting or fishing as a hobby? Grab that shotgun, venture into the forest and start plugging every creature you see. Or take your favorite fishing rod to a nearby river and pull as many fish out as possible. And when you’re done, don’t bother bringing any of the carcasses home. Just leave them where they are so the methane produced from their decomposition will contribute to the air pollution I described earlier.
Trees be gone
As human populations grow, so does the need for more space. High-rise apartment buildings and other vertical structures are fine, but the forests provide even more room for us to spread out horizontally. Taking down as many trees as possible not only provides fuel for heat—along with all the pollutants you create from burning it—but also plenty of materials for building new homes. Those squirrels and deer can find another place to live. And while killing all those plants won’t cause too much soil erosion, I’m sure we can find ways to improve that, too.
Practice unsafe sex
Using condoms, birth control pills and other contraceptives are recommended by many health professionals. Unfortunately, most of what these do is control pregnancy, which certainly doesn’t help when it comes to destroying the planet. What we need are more people, so put these things aside and start banging each other as often as you can… the natural way. With any luck, your one-night stand, girlfriend or wife will start shooting out kids like a Pez dispenser. The more, the merrier!
Trade that deodorant stick for a can
Aerosols provide another great tool for harming the Earth, more specifically the ozone layer. Scientists found a hole in the atmosphere above Antarctica some time ago, but we don’t hear as much about it today. This might be the result of some improvement in the stratosphere, which is totally unacceptable. We can reverse this trend by using aerosols as often as possible, preferably outdoors. And by all means, don’t be stingy. Spray those things as much as you can and I promise you that our goal will be much easier to accomplish!
Even though you might be going around the corner—close enough to walk—why not drive instead? It’s much more convenient and the perks—like air conditioners, cup holders and satellite radios—make it a lot more enjoyable than pounding the pavement. Just be sure to avoid hybrid vehicles and, if possible, use the oldest car you can find, preferably something built before 1980. I also recommend less frequent oil changes because car exhaust is another great way to contribute to air pollution. And by no means should you ever carpool with others!
Green is good, but not always
When it comes to cold hard cash, then green is definitely good. In terms of saving the environment, however, this is something to be avoided at all costs. People may try to convince you to change your polluting ways, or you may encounter green websites while surfing the Internet, but don’t acknowledge them. All they want to do is sell you something—in this case environmentalism—so dodge them like crazy. Focus on collecting as much green money as possible and then spend it on something more practical, like a used car from the 1970s or some chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in those aerosol cans I referenced.
Spread the word
Whenever you get the chance to share some of this advice with others, do it. They may be resistant or even angry at first, but be persistent. And if you ever encounter someone speaking about environmental issues that contradict these ideas, find a way to interrupt or distract them. I find that asking a lot of meaningless or misleading questions works, but you might even try heckling. After all, we don’t need them trying to convince people to save the planet, do we?
By now, you should have everything you need to get started down the path to Earth’s destruction. And I hope you’re already doing some of the things mentioned here. It’s never too late to start and, working together, I am confident we can make this happen. When it comes to environmental issues, I find apathy to be a wonderful approach and one that is practiced by millions of people around the world. Join us if you feel like belonging to something larger than yourself. We’re very easy to find.