Thursday, March 12, 2015

God Dammit.

Just...god dammit.

He was too good to die. He was too goddamned good to suffer and die like this, losing everything that made him a genius bit by bit with still so much to say. He was the best writer I've ever read--and I say this as someone with a classical education, someone who's read Shakespeare and Miller and Brecht and Faulkner and Hemingway and Austen and any number of Great Authors you would care to name. He was that good. He was better. He was the best satirist since Jonathan Swift--and I don't mean "best" in the sense of funniest or wittiest, although he was that too. He was the best because he understood humanity and he understood people, the vast mass of us and the individuals, and his satire illuminated the human condition and made you a better person for reading it.

He taught me an infinite amount about the craft of writing, simply by reading him. Every book was a masterclass on the art of plotting, the art of storytelling. But more than that, he taught me the art of having something to say--his books were driven by passion, by a deep and abiding belief that you could use art to illuminate the injustices of the world, both great and small, and that illuminating them went some small way to curing them. Not enough, never enough--he knew that, which was why he kept writing right up until the end, but it was better than nothing.

His writing may never get the respect it deserves. It's fantasy, and it's funny fantasy at that, and the arbiters of quality have never really been comfortable with the idea of humor being as important as everything else in the human experience. But he deserves all the respect in the world. I never met him, but goddammit, he's the kind of man you have to mourn simply because he was the best ever and we will never see anyone his like again, and to lose him is to see the world diminished. I'm crying right now while I write this and I don't care.

And because I will never have the skill with words that he did, and I will never be able to eulogize him the way he deserves, just...goddammit.

Monday, March 02, 2015

How Has This Never Been a Series, DC?

I was thinking last night about shows set in prisons, like "Oz" and "Prison Break" and "Orange Is the New Black", and it popped into my head so quickly that I spent the next fifteen or so minutes checking to confirm that it had never been done simply because it seemed so obvious: 'Arkham Asylum'.

I mean, of course they've done things set in Arkham. Grant Morrison did the classic Arkham story, but there've been tons of mini-series and one-shots about the history of the iconic mental institution where all of Batman's villains are kept, and the video game is a classic as well. But they've never done an ongoing series, and they've never done a series that focused on Batman's enemies. It seems to me like this is just a natural, perfect extension of DC's current focus on damaged protagonists and anti-heroes and grimdark, but it's one that has the potential to actually be done well. A regular series, set in Arkham, with the Batman villains as the protagonists as they try to survive life in the worst prison in the world.

You have so many interesting characters to play with. The Penguin, who somehow contrives to get locked up in Arkham despite having no apparent mental health issues, and who no doubt maneuvers and manipulates the other inmates to get what he wants. The Joker, a terrifying force for chaos who even the staff fears. The Mad Hatter, a seemingly gentle soul in his own way but one with terrifying depths. The Riddler, an unpredictable and manic prisoner who sees everything but gives out his secrets sparingly. The Scarecrow, who takes the role of psychologist with his own cellmates. Harley Quinn, a former staffer who wound up going too deep into her understanding of madness and has no way back out. There's a huge ensemble cast with built-in name recognition and fanbases, and you can rotate the cast as needed because they'd be constantly escaping to appear in the next Batman story. (You could even show the escapes.)

I'd have to brush up on my prison dramas if I wanted to write this, but it seems like such an easy win for DC that I honestly don't understand how they haven't done it already. It'd be the best elements of a crime drama mixed with a horror story, all featuring the most famous villains in the world. A no-brainer like this should at least get a trial, dangit! Who's with me?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This Started to Sound More and More Like Fanfic as I Wrote It

I don't know if you're aware of this, but we are just a year or so away from the 20th anniversary of the Daily Show. Now, obviously the series is very much in the public eye right now, what with Jon Stewart's impending retirement, but I've been brainstorming some ideas for how to keep the buzz going for the big 2-0. To wit:

1) Bring back the old hosts. Tell me that it wouldn't be absolutely thrilling to have a big twentieth anniversary special where Craig Kilborn and Jon Stewart team up with the new host to tackle a really big news story that none of them could handle alone. There'd be tremendous potential for comedy there, as the three hosts bickered amusingly about whose style was best suited to the situation, along with some witty meta-commentary on how the show has changed over the years. (Maybe have Kilborn deliver a quip like, "You've redecorated, I don't like it"? I'm just blue-skying here.)

Maybe even, for extra dramatic effect, we could find out about a "lost" season of the series, where a comedy legend was the anchorperson? I bet they could get Bill Murray. He'd absolutely kill with the way he kept suggesting that the "new boys" were too young to do proper comedy. Of course, in order to be big enough to bring all four hosts together, you'd need...

2) Returning villains! Really, one of the things that 'The Daily Show' has always been famous for is the monsters. Now, obviously you can't bring back some of the really monstrous villains--Saddam Hussein and Moammar Khadaffi are dead, for example. But there are still a lot of good B-list villains to choose from. Dick Cheney's still out there, and George W. Bush has been laying low for a long while. Ken Starr hasn't been seen in almost fifteen years, and a lot of us still have fond memories of his time on the show. We could see a huge gathering of these classic baddies, led by maybe Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck? It'd be really exciting, especially if they...

3) Incorporate the spin-offs. After all, if it's the kind of crisis that forces all the incarnations of the series to work together, it's got to be big enough for the Host's old allies to return. Picture them standing side by side, Jon Stewart and Craig Kilborn and Bill Murray and (host to be named later), overmatched against the Fox News anchors, when all of a sudden Stephen Colbert shows up! And just behind him is Jon Oliver and Larry Wilmore, and Steve Carell! All the Classic Series correspondents, teaming up with the new blood to help out the Host of the Daily Show in his...er, their...hour of need. It would be breathtaking.

And then the Brigadier could show up! ...okay. Maybe not.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why It's Going to Be Hard For the Republicans to Avoid Jeb Bush

Even though we're almost two full years away from the next Presidential election, we've already got Republicans jockeying for position in their party's not-even-close-to-happening primary season. The reasons for this are many--24-hour news networks start talking about the next election for the same reason that the NFL Network starts talking about the draft five minutes after the Superbowl ends, the sheer amount of money required these days means that you have to have your donors lined up months before actually campaigning, but a big part of it this time out is that Barack Obama isn't running again for fiddly legal reasons, and so these guys think they have a chance of winning. (Say what you will, but Obama was not a candidate that the Republican party wanted to tackle.)

So that means that there's a very crowded field, because a lot of these guys have been waiting a long time for their shot. Which means that each candidate needs to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, and that means they need to start campaigning early. So we've got Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker and Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie and Rand Paul and Rick Perry (did I miss any?) all trying to make headlines for themselves by visiting the primary states early and often and getting to know everybody there, and declarating their opinions all over the news like a cat marking his territory (except that you can probably distill something useful out of cat piss). And it's becoming clear to everyone concerned and most observers that Jeb Bush is slowly turning into the frontrunner.

This means, of course, that the knives are coming out for him. Because if there's one thing it's tough to be in a race this long, it's the wire-to-wire frontrunner. The earlier you emerge from the pack, the longer the other players have to drag you down. So we're already getting a lot of speeches from all concerned about how Jeb Bush is insufficiently right-wing, how he doesn't understand what motivates the modern Republican base, how he may in some way shape or form have expressed empathy for another human being in his past...you know, deal-breakers. Basically, the rest of the field is going hard at Jeb Bush, and they probably won't stop.

But in this case, I'm not sure if it's going to matter, any more than it did for Mitt Romney. Because right now, the Lovecraftian Horror Show That Is the 2016 Republican Nomination Contest (TM) has a field that consists of a bunch of head-trauma patients and Jeb Bush. And, like with Mitt Romney, we're dealing with elementary game theory here--Jeb Bush has pretty much the entire non-head-trauma vote locked up, and while that's a depressingly small percentage of the Republican vote, the head-trauma vote is split between lots of candidates. And if Jeb Bush has twenty percent of the vote, but the eight other guys only have ten percent each, he wins.

Now, if some of the other guys dropped out, then it would spell trouble for Jeb. But each of the other guys know that if they stick with it and let everyone else drop out instead, they'll get all of the head-trauma vote and beat Jeb. Which means that none of them will drop out, which means that Jeb will keep trucking along with his twenty percent, and eventually take the nomination right out from under the noses of all those "true" conservatives who would make much more entertaining horror shows in the general election.

I don't think any of this matters, because I think that America wants to see another Bush in office like Germany wants to see a Chip Hitler candidacy, and Bush is the most electable out of the Lovecraftian Horror Show That Is the 2016 Republican Nomination Contest (TM). By far. But I do think that the coming primaries are going to be some of the most vicious and nasty infighting you'll see in a long time...and coming from the Republicans, that means something.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

OK, Just One More...

If you have a dirt-floor basement where you keep your dancing plants, is it a Groot cellar?

Friday, February 06, 2015

And the Hits Just Keep On Coming!

Did you hear about the mathematician who sold a new line of shoes called "Contrapositives"?

They were just Converses turned inside out.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Today's Thing I Should Be Ashamed Of

I want to createa a pulp pastiche hero named, "Bick Pentameter", and every time he announce himself to an audience there would be a long debate about why he's not speaking in Shakespearean verse.