WhachooTalkinBoutWedneday: Bigger Things

I know it ain’t Tuesday. I know I didn’t give you anything on Friday either. I know, if you follow my other blog, Falling From Grace, I haven’t dropped anything in a couple weeks. I have a reason: I have bigger things to focus on.

And that’s what we get to talk about today.

One of the most popular series of the posts on this blog was about a couple of jackasses from Tennessee who decided to dog the shit out of my wife…and then defraud a bunch of little girls. You might remember them. You also might remember I said I wouldn’t do another post about them—and I’m not—because they have real charges and they have kids and things were getting serious for them. So I won’t talk about how they are the dumbest criminals ever. I won’t talk about how your girl went on a Disney cruise while under bond, without the bond company’s permission and now it looks like she’s fleeing. I won’t discuss your boy not only being unable to retain an attorney (after 2 continuances), but also being detained (read arrested—again) for non-payment of child support for another child. I won’t talk about how he went into court yesterday bullshittin about his lack of attorney and ended up getting transported from Franklin to Memphis by a fugitive task force.

And while this is funny…

John2

…seriously, you can forward any correspondence to his current address at 201 Poplar, the Shelby County jail in Memphis—it has a sad side too. There are real victims in this: children and single mothers and dancers and agents.

There are bigger things to consider.

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary. I’d love to say the 4 years of marriage and the 5 years that preceded it were magic. Yeah, that would be a damn lie. Have they been easy? Hell no! Have they been worth it? Hell yes! In those 9 years, I’ve moved across country, tried to be a parent to two kids I didn’t create, tried to be a good husband to a woman who’s seen the darker sides of life. I’ve tried to build myself as a man, a professional, and an author. I’ve watched friends come and go, had some family members stand by me and others shit on my relationship. I’ve been embraced by my kids and played to the curb by them on the same day.

What I’ve learned over the last 9 years is it’s the bigger things that matter. Marriages don’t work on their own. Children don’t become positive, contributing members of society by themselves. We don’t realize our potential and become the people we’re meant to be through osmosis. My friends in Tennessee, on all sides of this equation, are working to be where they are. They are working to avoid their responsibilities, working to get over on someone else…or working to make sure a child flourishes in spite of who her father is.

The last 9 years have been work—and today, on our anniversary, we’re working now. Last night, I spent the evening counseling my daughter on how to handle her first note from a boy, talking with my son’s girlfriend about how to approach the teenage pregnancy of a classmate, working with my wife on how to get out of debt and finally buy a house. It’s work.

The bigger things always are.

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND: DAMIEN THORN aka THE ANTICHRIST

RemakeDamienI haven’t made a big deal of it but it’s October. If you follow this blog—and we both know you do—you know that October means my wife has 31 damn days of unfettered access to the TV, movies, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, Pookie and Nem’s Video Rental and Lingerie Emporium to showcase her love of scary movies. Since I’ve never really been a fan of horror flicks, I’ve generally called this month Ballstober—the 31 days where I tighten up that sphincter and watch whatever she puts on TV.

And as much shit as I talk about my disdain for these travesties of cinema, there are a couple that I dig, like The Thing and Alien. And there are some that traumatized me as a kid like the Amityville Horror or The Exorcist. And then there’s The Omen series.  That’s some whole other shit.

The Omen is a trilogy of movies that chronicle the birth and rise to power of the Anti-Christ in the guise of Damien Thorn. And for the record, I’m talking about the original movies with Gregory Peck and Lee Rennick, not the one with Julia Stiles (I keep waiting for the black dude from Save The Last Dance to jump in) and Sabretooth from the Wolverine movie. And I don’t usually give spoilers but I’m gonna ruin this shit.

I’m gonna assume you know the deal: Mr. and Mrs. Thorn (I don’t remember their real names) have a beautiful baby boy under some “interesting” circumstances and then decide to name him Damien—which means “y’all fixin to die” in Common Sense. Things are alright until creepy shit starts to happen: at my man’s second or third birthday party, the maid hangs herself AT THE PARTY! There are kids and shit, cake and clowns, and this chick jumps out the window with a bedsheet around her neck, talking about “It’s all for you!” That ain’t all. Animals, like zoo animals, REALLY don’t like little man. Really don’t like him. Big, black rotweilers just show up. And so does Mia Farrow (but that might be the new one)—whatever, then a creepy new housekeeper shows up and she buys a dog that doesn’t like Mr. Thorn. Oh, and then they try to take the boy to church and he completely loses his shit.

Shenanigans ensue, the boy kills his mama, priests get involved and try to warn Mr. Thorn. A reporter starts looking into who Damien is. Come to find out the Thorns’ real baby died, Mr. Thorn steals another child whose mama happens to be a jackal (yes, I said jackal), and my man has to kill the boy with some special Ginsu knives. Old Mr. Thorn doesn’t believe this supernatural nonsense until someone says, “Yeah, well the boy has to have a mark on him. You know that Mark of the Beast? That 666? Gotta be on the kid somewhere.” And, after cutting away some hair in the middle of the night, there it is.

Let me pause right here. I was sooooo engrossed in this movie as a kid that I got up right then, went into the bathroom to see if I had the that 666 in my own scalp. And, truth be told, I’ve checked the Honey Badger too. Twice. I’m still not wholly convinced. Anyway, the plan to kill the boy goes wrong, Mr. Thorn gets shot by the police and Damien’s smiling, sadistic little ass goes to live with his aunt and uncle.

That’s just the first movie. In that movie, Damien was really just along for the ride. He was too young to do anything so there were significant agents (i.e. dogs, ravens, cranes that cut people’s heads off) operating on his behalf. In the second movie, though, my man comes into his own: he discovers who and what he is and embraces it. This one is actually my favorite but there is one image that will live with me forever.

See, I’m from Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes. Truth is, it’s more like 15,000 lakes. And not all of them are marked. We always knew winter had truly arrived when the news reported some idiot snowmobiling over an unmarked lake before it was cold enough, falling in, and freezing/drowning. It was one of those PSAs you just come to know because of where you live. As a result, I’ve always been a little scared of lakes in the winter (THIS, and the fact that I am a Black man, are why I never go ice-fishing and never learned how to ice-skate). In Damien: The Omen II, there is a scene where this guy falls through the ice during a hockey game and they watch him die. It’s FUCKED UP! Once Damien decided he was comfortable being the Anti-Christ (he did have a moment of doubt), he killed his cousin by crushing his brain by looking at him and set his aunt and uncle on fire.

By the time we get to The Omen III: The Final Conflict, Damien is running for president. And winning. In fear of the Second Coming of Christ, my man has all the boys in England born on a certain date killed, slaughters a group of priests and uses a small boy as a human shield. It isn’t until he calls Jesus out personally that Damien is finally stopped. This movie bothered me so bad I didn’t want to watch Jurassic Park because Sam Neill was in it.

And this wasn’t helping…

When the Jews return to Zion

And a comet rips the sky

And the Holy Roman Empire rises,

Then you and I must die.

From the eternal sea he rises,

Creating armies on either shore,

Turning man against his brother

‘Til man exists no more.

That’s it! Provided I get over this sinus infection, I’ll catch you Tuesday.

MONDAY NIGHT FIEND – WALTER WHITE/HEISENBERG

WaltYou know, I kinda forgot about you. It wasn’t on purp—wait, come back! Aw baby, don’t be like that. Listen—would ya listen? So I had all the best intentions of giving you a Friday Night Fiend ON FRIDAY. I did, really. But life came in and said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Instead, I got the Day Job Dragon biting my ass and won’t let go, a sick Honey Badger (who now sounds like a slow-motion dolphin), a wife with 102 degree fever wanting to put her hot ass feet on me, the Damn Dog believing that muddy footprints make fantastic interior décor, and then The Boy got fucking suspended.

I even started writing it, then I got sidetracked, then, when I finally realized that I never posted anything, I got a case of the Fuck-Its.

But here I am! All yours! And you knew this was coming, Pete.

There is no way I could bid farewell to one of the finest cinematic renditions of a good man’s descent into inhumanity and not have anything to say about it. That ain’t me. I talk about the gray area that lives in each of us, the one that vacillates between good and evil. And I said vacillate—SAT word, people! Plus, I want the hits. I’m selfish. Sue me. So your first October Friday Night—err, Monday Night—Fiend is the chemistry teacher turned meth-making mastermind, Walter White.

And cuz I’m not a total ass, I’m gonna actually give you a spoiler alert. Hey dippy, if you don’t want Breaking Bad ruined, stop reading blogs that feature the main character AFTER the conclusion has aired. Do like the rest of us did and watch it all on Netflix in like a week and catch up.

Now that that’s out the way, let me say this: I dig this dude. It’s not because Walt’s cool (he’s not), it’s because he thought he was. Every step of the way, throughout his entire descent, he thought he was doing the right thing. Well, the wrong thing, but for the right reasons. And we thought so too. Look at him: he’s a high school chemistry teacher who’s seen his better years, and ideas, pass him by. He works part time at a car wash, getting screamed on by the Russian dude who owns it. And then comes home to his pregnant wife and disabled kid. Walt’s a good guy, doing what he’s supposed to do, being the husband and father he’s supposed to be, and life hands him a terminal cancer diagnosis.

That’s how the show starts.

Where else can Walt go? He’s gonna die and you and I know that teachers in the good ol’ US of A aren’t paid enough to take care of themselves, much less handle cancer and chemo and medical bills and pregnancy and college. Walt’s stuck between a rock and hard place and his hard place has a due date, right? Walt has a life expectancy and it’s about 2 years.

So what does Walt do? What any 50-year-old with terminal cancer, $8,000 and a working knowledge of chemistry would do: start a meth lab. Isn’t that your retirement strategy? No? Not one of the options for your 401K? But here’s the thing: he’s good at it. He’s not just good at cooking meth (and he’s REALLY good at cooking meth), he’s good at running meth empires. He’s also good at poisoning kids, lying to his wife, robbing trains, driving his car into people, misleading (and later threatening) his DEA brother-in-law (that “tread lightly” shit was AWESOME!), killing 9 inmates in prison in 2 fucking minutes, watching heroin addicts die, and committing the greatest murder in TV history:

Gus

There will be hundreds of thousands of words written on Walter White and his descent into darkness. There will those who will say that Walter White was always Heisenberg, that he found his true self. Of course, that somebody would be Walter White himself: “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. It was the only time I felt alive.”

For me, the awesome thing about Walter White is that he’s each and every one of us. And for those of you saying, “I would never”—shaddup! Shut up! Yes, you would. We all would. That was the thing about Walter White: his motives, at least in the beginning, were pure. He just wanted to leave something behind for his family after he was gone. Hate his methods but you can’t argue his motive. And how many of us have contemplated something less than savory because it gave our children a leg up? You know you’ve given that English a better Christmas gift than necessary so your son might fucking pass (maybe that’s me). You know you’ve volunteered for shit you could care less about doing so your daughter could be with the right crowd. Whether it’s one additional deduction on your 1040 form or adding a zero to that Goodwill receipt for that old computer and those dirty sneakers, we’ve all taken some “liberties” to get where we need to go.

This got longer than intended. We loved Walt because he expressed the duality of who we all are, at base. Criminal activity aside, we all have different sides to ourselves and need to indulge them to feel alive. To feel complete. Walt embraced the man he was “supposed” to be and it damn near killed him. Being Heisenberg gave him a second lease on life. His own life. And that was worth watching.

Catch ya next time!

Whachootalkinbout Wednesday – Hey You Know What We Could Do?

Guess what day it iiiiisssss! Guess what day it is! MikeMikeMikeMikeMike…you know what day it is. It is not Tuesday (yes, I am aware). But it is Hump Day and that has to count for something. And, as an aside, I cannot be the only person who thinks Denzel is voicing that camel, am I? I keep waiting for him to say something about sending people to Pelican Bay.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be talking about something—anything—and I choose (like this is the Hunger Games) 7 little words that changed my life: Hey, you know what we could do?

When I was a kid, my brother would promise the most exhilarating and potentially painful adventures with these simple words. It didn’t matter what it was: sliding down the steps in laundry baskets (they tip forward and you bust your face), riding down the sledding hill on the backs on Tonka trucks (it was AWESOME!), making a tape recorded news show full of farts and blaming it on my sister, selling peeks in Playboy magazines to neighborhood kids (that was wholly his idea—I just took the money). Didn’t matter what it was. Didn’t matter that it would inevitably end in Band-Aids and butt whippings. Whatever it was, with those 7 little words, I was down.

When he figured out how to make 3000 juniors from 9 different schools in the Twin Cities skip school and come to Lake Nokomis for a pizza party DURING STANDARDIZED TESTING because “it wasn’t fair seniors got a skip day and juniors didn’t,” my brother took You Know What We Could Do to another level. The St. Paul Police tried to arrest my mother for contributing to the delinquency of 3000 minors. The Catholic school we attended for one semester tried to expel all three of us. His last words, right before my mother tried to shake his teeth out his head, was “I did something you couldn’t do. You should be applauding my ingenuity.”

I did something you couldn’t do. You should be applauding my ingenuity.

Bold words from a 16-year-old, huh? At the time, I didn’t get what he was trying to do. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t just fall in line, do what other people would do, adhere to the rules set before him. Stop trying to turn the world on its head. But that was then.

Writers are encouraged beaten over the head trained to ask What If questions. What if your 200-pound Saint Bernard got rabies? What if your parents got shot in front of you and you became a symbol of revenge for a crime-ridden city? What if a rich woman and young, broke artist fell in love on a doomed oceanliner? That’s what writers do. We take the things we all know and love and turn it on its head. We take life, add What If, and mix. That’s what we’re supposed to do.

My brother taught me to do something different.

My brother taught me to think completely outside the box. To approach every story saying “Hey, you know what we could do?” Tell the story of the war in Heaven from the Devil’s point of view. Examine morality from the perspective of the ones whose hands should be the cleanest. Take a slave, give her god-like power, and drop her in Harlem. In the 60s. Or in the post-9/11 Middle East.

That’s what we could do.

These days, my brother is an engineer, which means he gets paid to say Hey You Know What We Could Do and figure out how to make it happen. And since he hasn’t gotten fired, I assume he’s good at it. These days I write stories completely from left field. Because I can. Because my brother inspired me to.

And I am applauding his ingenuity. Love ya, B!

That’s the deal. Catch ya Friday!

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND – MISOGYNY

no girls allowed 1What’s crackin everybody! It’s your favorite villain-loving, miscreant-embracing host getting the party started this Friday night with a SAT vocabulary word. Party over here, whut whut!

Now misogyny is a downer word replete with a downer definition: the hatred or dislike of women or girls. I’m not talking about the kindergartner “I don’t yike guls so I hitted her” approach. I’m thinking something a bit more pervasive and more institutional…and wholly unintentional. I know you’re like “Damn, Chris. It’s Friday, I love girls, and you are really fucking up my vibe.” I get it. Let me put it in comic book terms.

A couple of years ago, DC Comics and Warner Bros put out an absolutely horrible superhero flick called Green Lantern. This was at the height of the superhero craze: Heath Ledger had earned a posthumous Oscar for playing the Joker in the Dark Knight, Robert Downey Jr. had been Iron Man twice, and Marvel was one year away from pulling together the Avengers into the 3rd highest grossing film of all time. You might remember Green Lantern (if you saw it, I ‘m sorry—the support group meets on Wednesdays at the Y): it had Ryan Reynolds as Ryan Reynolds in a snug CGI suit, a villain with the largest head on film (and it pulsated), Dora-level special effects, and it made about $14 at the box office. It was a shit movie and this is from somebody who likes shit movies.

But this isn’t about Green Lantern. This is about the trailer for the Green Lantern.

I took the Honey Badger to see one of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies—whichever one had fucking Alvin doing the Castaway on a deserted island after falling off a cruise ship. As an aside, talking chipmunks or not, once they were off the ship, fuck the damn rodents and their high ass voices—I would have taken the money and run. Anyway, as we’re waiting for the movie the start, we get to see this wonderful trailer:

The trailer was better than the movie. Trust me. But as we watch the trailer and I start to get hopeful about Green Lantern (I kinda like the character but don’t tell nobody), the Honey Badger says, loud as day, “How come it can’t ever be a girl that saves the world?”

And some of the women in the theater clapped.

But I didn’t have an answer for that. I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know what to tell her. I watch movies with her and I see her fall in love with Bella Swan—a girl stuck in a horribly abusive and controlling relationship, who refuses to act EVER, and simply lets everything happen around her. I see Katniss Everdeen start a revolution but be mired in a love triangle. SHE STARTED A REVOLUTION!! Fuck Peta! She’s changing the world. (BTW I haven’t read the books—maybe there’s more, I don’t know). I see Hermione play second fiddle to Harry’s Jesus Christ and Ron’s redheaded idiocy when she is CLEARLY the smartest, most prepared player in the game. How the fuck did Ron survive those 7 years at Hogwarts and how the hell did his broke ass pull Hermione Granger?

And, as much as I love her, I see Scarlett Johannson get played to the curb in 2 different movies. If there was a pretty perfect portrayal of a female superhero in the movies, it’s Johannson’s Black Widow. This woman infiltrated Stark Enterprises and got Tony Stark back to work, she hacked Ivan Danko’s Russian computer system and rebooted Don Cheadle’s suit AFTER beating the cowboy shit outta like 6 dudes. She took a backhand from the Hulk—THE HULK who fought Thor, a demigod—then got up and socked the shit out of Hawkeye before she dove into battle with 2 guns and a taser. There were no romantic entanglements, she was nonplussed about all these people with their amazing powers, and held her own in the Battle of New York. Oh yeah, and she outsmarted Loki (the God of Mischief) and shut his shit down.

But she isn’t considered an Avenger. They only count Cap, Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor as Avengers. She doesn’t get equal billing. She’s a token. Marvel actually removed the other female founding member of the team because…well, I actually don’t have an answer for that.

And that’s bullshit. And my daughter knows it.

A couple weeks ago, I made Canada my Friday Night Fiend. You might remember that one. A friend of mine, my villainous partner in crime, writer ED Martin, added a comment about how independent women should be my next villain. She has a point. What are TV and film studios so afraid of? The portrayals of women in cinema have a massive impact on who our daughters and sisters and nieces decide to be. Who they believe they can be. How do I convince my daughter to be less Bella and more Hermione when she’s ridiculed for her intellect and eschewed for her preparation? How do I encourage her to start revolutions like Katniss and be independent like Natasha Romanov when the world is more concerned with her love life than her capabilities? When she’ll never get the credit she deserves?

I’m gonna end this little diatribe with the most important female superheroine who, for the dumbest of reasons, cannot get ANY cinematic love: Wonder Woman. It is an absolute travesty that, in 2013, after Hillary Clinton garnered 16 million votes and led the most viable campaign for a female president in history, Wonder Woman cannot find a place on film. Or TV. Or her own cartoon. Do you know why? She’s “tricky.” That is the actual reason.

“We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now. I think one of the biggest challenges at the company is getting that right on any size screen. The reasons why are probably pretty subjective: She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium? What you do in TV has to be different than what you do in features. She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.”

Tricky. Tough. Hard. So fuck it, right? By the way, it was the female president of DC Comics who gave us that quote.

I’ve paid for shitty Superman, Batman, Green Lantern (well, I didn’t pay for that piece of shit), X-Men, Star Wars, and Spiderman movies. Jackass is a SERIES. You saw Bill and Ted just like me. And Gremlins 2. And any of the Child’s Play movies. Jason Vorhees has like 57 shit movies. My point is someone is greenlighting these bullshit movies and you cannot say a guy who stalks you in your dreams or a retarded kid who lives at the bottom of the lake and cannot die or a group of idiots who film themselves hurting themselves makes more sense than Wonder Woman.

So there you have it: Friday Night Misogyny courtesy of superhero movies. I’m gonna leave you with this tweet about Marvel’s response to DC’s “Wonder Woman is tricky” comment. I thought it was just funny:

brett white Marvel:DC See ya Tuesday!

Whatchootalkinbout Tuesday! 99 Days…

Party people in the place to be! What’s crackin?! It’s Tuesday and that means I’m talking. Yes I know I missed the last couple of Tuesdays (and you missed the last couple weeks of spontaneous commentary)—yeah yeah yeah, I know. Why you bringin up ol shit? I’m here now and I got stuff to talk about.

If you are one of the fortunate 328 friends of mine of Facebook, you saw me post something about a 30 year old ninja and some thought-provoking questions about the remaining 99 days of 2013. For those of you who didn’t make the cut, here’s the background: I follow a blog by Izzy the 30 Year Old Ninja (yes, that’s really the name) and it’s by a guy who woke up one day, decided he really wanted to be a ninja, packed his shit, and moved to Japan. Giggle if you want to, my man said he wanted to be Batman and is learning how to do it. His point is simple: if there is something you want to be or do in life, stop bullshittin, get off your ass and do it. He does say this in a much more Tony Robbins-ish manner but you get the gist of it. And what you can say? This dude is not rich, he’s not an actor or an activist—he’s a pasty, slightly out-of-shape white dude who wants to be awesome.

Can’t blame him for that, can you?

Anyway, when you join his site he sends you emails. Most of them, admittedly, I delete (I am OCD about alerts on my phone and most email alerts come between midnight and 5am—if you want me to read your email, send it after 7am. Just sayin). But today, it caught me. It simply said, “You Have 99 Days…” Title got me curious, I clicked it and was given this breezy little story about how Izzy (the ninja) called his sister yesterday and told her she had 100 days left in the year. Then he decided the share that info with the rest of us, but waited a day so we only had 99. Ass. But there are these questions he asks that bothered me:

  • What results do you want to get over the next 99 days?
  • What sacrifices will you make to get these results?
  • If something is going to stop you, what will it be?

Those are real questions. Like the real, deep kind of questions. The ones that make you be honest with yourself, about what you’re doing and what you’re not doing. Shit. And everybody I shared them with had the same response that I did: I don’t freaking know—which is code for “I really wasn’t prepared for you to ask that question and now you’re making me be honest with me, and I wasn’t ready for that.” Yeah, neither was I.

Now before I delve into what my answers are, I have to say that if this blog post runs into Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, I’m gonna do you guys like Cartman: Screw you guys, I’m going home! I’ve been looking forward to this show since they announced it and some wannabe ninja who’s soft in the middle ain’t gonna ruin it for me.

So, question by question (heavy sigh), here goes:

What results do you want to get over the next 99 days?

I am admittedly bullshitting on this latest novel. Seriously bullshitting. My first draft left PLENTY to be desired. Inconsistent character arcs, unclear objectives, a rushed ending, unrealistic romance (yes, ROMANCE people! I’m multifaceted). The challenge of this novel is different than anything else I’ve ever written. And it matters more to me. It cements the fact that I am a writer, a real author, capable of telling more than one story. Able to handle the production end of this business. It’s a “you can do it!” moment for me and I’m scared of failing. So my results I want to get over the next 99 days are to finish Come Hell or High Water as best as I possibly can.

What sacrifices will you make to get these results?

Apparently sleep is the greatest sacrifice I have to make. That and time with my family. They understand, sure, but that makes it that much more imperative for the book to be as good as possible. It has to be worth it. But more than anything, I have to sacrifice my own fear. I have to accept that I was given this story for a reason, that I was “chosen”—either by the story or something greater—because I have to tell it. And it’ll be good. I have to trust that.

If something is going to stop you, what will it be?

Me. Honestly, the biggest impediment to my own success in this endeavor is me. My fear. My lack of faith in my own abilities. My nonsensical fear of success (that’s fodder for another post). It’s nothing external, barring the cost for editing and my cover and turning my masterpiece into epub and Kindle files—the barriers to success are internal. And I have to deal with that.

There you have it folks. There’s my soul on the page or screen or whatever, exposed, “like a nerve” (I’m still in Avengers/Agents of SHIELD mode). And lucky you, I finished this with 21 minutes to spare.

That’s the deal. Answer those questions yourself, either in the comments or in the mirror.

See ya Friday!

FRIDAY NIGHT/SATURDAY NIGHT MF—Whatever, I’m talking about SYLAR

SylarContrary to popular belief, I can actually tell time. I know it’s not Friday night. I know it’s not Saturday morning. I had good intentions and wrote the vast majority of this before 10am. I had lofty goals today and they started with getting my blog back on track. I got sidetracked by a Honey Badger. Let’s just chalk it up to shenanigans.

Anyway, let’s get it!

In the mid-2000s, long before she was the bitchy teen drama queen who showed a geeky, nerdy kid the night of his life in I Love You, Beth Cooper, before she tried to kill Neve Campbell in Scream 4 (umm…spoiler alert?), before she played Carrie Underwood in Nashville, Hayden Panetierre was a cheerleader. A cheerleader who couldn’t die. You remember that whispered “Save the cheerleader, save the world” shit, don’t you? That’s from a TV show about regular people who get superpowers and the organization that tracks them down. No, not Agents of SHIELD (though it’s the SAME shit). I’m talking about Heroes.

Now I dug Heroes—well the first 2 seasons of it. It had some good shit—the indestructible cheerleader, the time-traveling, teleporting Japanese dude, the politician who could secretly fly, the shadowy organization trying to kill them. And it had some misses—we had a whole season when Hiro didn’t have powers? Boo! And what was up with Ali Larter’s character? First she was a split personality, single-mom hulk-thing, then she’s a clone? What happened to the black chick who could copy moves she saw, learned karate watching TV, and was kicking ass in Popeye’s Chicken? And Matt Parkman as a telepathic police man was no Professor X. But one place it excelled was with its first and main villain, Sylar.

Before he was the Gimp on American Horror Story or Mr. Spock in the lens flare-laden Star Trek reboot, Zachary Quinto was Gabriel Gray, a quiet, introverted watch repairman longing to be something greater. Did you read that? Quiet, introverted? That means “quiet, kept to himself” which is THE profile for all serial killers in the US. What Gabriel Gray was blessed with, or cursed with, was the heightened ability to figure out how things worked. They called it intuitive aptitude. And when people started developing powers, what did Gabriel Gray figure out? How to take them. By eating their brains. AND HE WAS FINE WITH THAT!

So he changed his name and starting tracking people down, ripping their skulls open and stealing their powers.

What kind of shit?

That, my friends is awesomeness. As a comic book reader I know a little something about people taking other people’s powers. Rogue from the X-Men (you know her as Sookie from True Blood), takes people’s powers through physical contact. But that was only temporary. It wears off eventually. They even dealt with it on Heroes: Peter, who is really the main character, would mimic powers from people he was standing next to. And again, his shit is temporary. But Sylar, he could take your powers from you permanently by taking the part of your brain where they lived. And eat it.

And they put this shit on network TV.

What you ended up with was a super-powered serial killer who only tracked down other super-powered people. And he had a method to his madness: he killed a telekinetic to get telekinesis, killed a shape shifter, then a guy who could forsee the future. When the precognition told Sylar he would cause an explosion that would kill thousands, he killed a guy who could go nuclear and stole his power. Oh yeah, and he killed his mom too.

Sylar went though a series of changes in his pursuit of ultimate power: he tried to kill the cheerleader (fuck saving the world, huh?), got stuck in Parkman’s chubby mind, had his own mind erased and replaced with Peter’s brother, even tried to be a hero—until he learned that his father killed his real mother and had the same powers, and psychopathic problems, that he did.

In the end, I loved this dude because he was methodically horrible. Sylar literally took his opponents apart and made himself stronger while doing it. Bloody and vicious but cool and collected, it was like watching Dexter Meets the X-Men every week at 9pm. And he did it all for the most human of reasons: to feel special.

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND (kinda) – SYLAR

Once again, it’s Friday night. Once again I have missed my Tuesday post. Once again I am tired. But it’s not Canada’s fault. Not this time. Not directly. I think I have Canada Fallout Disease. CFD is a condition where the things you went to Canada for, the things that caused you to risk your limbs walking the 2000 miles from your plane to present your passport—those things follow you back home. Like ghosts. Or scabies.

CFD makes you tired and irritable and crave distinctly American products that are horrible for you, like Skyline chili dogs and the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich from Burger King (This wass a bad idea to begin with made worse by having them both on the same day. Do NOT do it! Trust me!) Then there’s the Boy, my arch-nemesis, back to his usual shenanigans. At present I am exploring Washington’s Child Protective Services website to see what exactly I can get away with. Seriously. (hmmm, lead pipes are out. Dammit.) In short, it’s been a long week and though I have a fantastic villain to explore—seriously, do you guys remember Sylar from Heroes? He was AWESOME!—but I have to cover him tomorrow. I’m too tired to do him justice tonight.

So we’ll have a Saturday Morning MF instead of a Friday Night Fiend.

Catch ya tomorrow!

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND: CANADA

Canadian-Flag-300x200Yeah, I said it. Out loud. Your Friday Night Fiend, your Friday the 13th master of malevolence is that maple-syrup-filled, hockey-loving, fireball of national passive aggression directly to our north: Canada.

But first, let me step back. I’m tired. Real tired. Like I spent a not so sexy week doing not so sexy work in a nation that has a not so sexy Queen Elizabeth on the money, only to go through customs TWICE, have my flight canceled, re-routed to another city (which had me on traveling for the last 7 hours) and then these knuckleheads to lose my bag (which I still do not have)—I’m THAT tired. And grumpy. So I’m gonna be cursing A LOT. And it’s Canada’s fault.

And yes, I know I missed Tuesday–I was busy. Thanks for the reminder.

Now let me say this, because my blog is insanely popular and this little tirade is likely to cause an international incident, Canada is a cool, clean place, full of friendly people who love their syrup, their beer, their hockey, and the metric system. They’re good, earnest people who seem to sincerely enjoy life. Canadians are the world’s nice guys: they don’t cause any trouble, they’re always there to help, they have lovely uniforms for their police force—they’re global Kramers.

But they pissed me off.

It starts with customs. Now I don’t begrudge Canada: you wanna protect the sanctity of your nation? I get it. You’re tired of being called America’s Ballcap? Fine. You wanna be your own people. You have little brother’s syndrome. I understand. I am a little brother. But come on man, it’s us! Y’all know us. What’s with this “show me your passport, why are you here” shit? Largest undefended border on the planet, the ones who gave you Starbucks (which you guys LOVE) and Coca Cola and all your planes—you know us! But what do you do? You give us Michael J Fox (who probably can make a mean martini—you know he can. I bet he can shake the hell out of that drink. Is that wrong? I’m going to hell for that, aren’t I?), Justin Beiber, and Drake. And, as an aside—for real, Drake? You’re from Toronto, dude. You ain’t thuggin in clean ass Toronto. Toronto ain’t Detroit—you can’t be hard, wearing Blue Jays and Maple Leafs jerseys. We’re trying to bomb Syria for using chemical weapons; you’re trying to make it illegal for public workers to wear religious dress on the job. You ain’t hard. Shut the fuck up.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, customs. Truth is, it’s not customs that pisses me off. It’s the goddamn walk TO customs. Have you ever been to Canada? Ever? Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter what airport you fly into inside of Canada, the walk from your plane to where you present your passport is the LONGEST FUCKING WALK EVER! They ought to have those people passing out water and energy bars like at marathons. There are people on death row who would rather take the walk to the electric chair than have to walk in any Canadian airport to present their passport. It’s long as hell. And then when you finally get up there, out of breath and sweaty and hot and shit, they ask you one simple question: “What brings you to Canada?” You know what? I fucking forgot during the ten-mile hike from my goddamn plane! But I’m fucking here now, I’m obviously committed, just let me in, man! I think they land in the US and actually make you walk across the border.

And don’t get stuck in the airport. God forbid you have to charge something. My damn phone has 6% power because you asses have 110 volt electricity and my technology doesn’t appreciate it. And you know fucking well I gotta charge my shit! I didn’t see any low-energy iPhones. Oh! That reminds me! Muthafucking ROAMING! WHAT THE FUCK? Its 2013, godammit! We’re a global society, interconnected by technology, faster travel, and interdependent economies—we’re closer than ever and you’re still hitting me with fucking roaming charges? For real? I thought roaming went out with actually getting charged for long distance. And how the fuck do I have to pay for roaming in fucking Canada? It’s Canada. You wanna hit me for roaming because I crossed an ocean? Fine. I’m on another continent? Whatever. But Canada? That’s like charging me to make calls because I crossed the street. What the fuck is that?

You know what, I’m gonna take my grumpy ass to bed. Hopefully my airline will call and tell me they found my bag. Hopefully my feet will shrink back to their regular size after walking across God’s green earth to show you my passport. Hopefully the Canadians will forgive my rant and let me back into their country.

Catch you Tuesday!

FRIDAY NIGHT FIEND – GENERAL ZOD (I know, I know, we did it already)

ZodHey hey hey friends and foes, welcome back to another does of your weekly villainy.  Can you hear that? Can you? Mr. Anderson! That is the sound of regularity. OK fine, so it doesn’t sound like Agent Smith from The Matrix but it does sound like the posting schedule is working. And that is a good thing.

Today is Friday and that means it’s time for your Friday Night Fiend (Fiend Fiend Fiend…) Last week, we looked at the first of our previously Crooked-ized villains who had been rebooted and dove into the JJ Abrams version of Khan from Star Trek Into Darkness. This week, we hit the other dastardly do-over with Zod from Man of Steel awesomeness.

And I am biased. I LOVED this cat!

Well…loved is pretty strong. I LIKED him. A lot.

We’ve looked at Zod before. In the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman: The Movie and Superman II masterpieces, we are introduced to a Hammer pants and deep-V Zod played by a Pimp Named Slick Back AKA Terrance Stamp (if you watch the Boondocks, you know how funny that is). He’d been caught by the Kryptonians for the crimes of sedition, trapped in a couple hula hoops and sent off to live in a Romper Room pane of glass with this threat, “You will bow down before me! Both you, and one day, your heirs!” Not bad. He gave us some fantastic lines that I still use everyday like “Why do you say these things to me, when you know I will kill you for it?” (my kids love it!) and, of course, “Kneel before Zod!”

But beyond the revenge thing, there really wasn’t more to Zod. He actually got bored in the movie. After he beat the cowboy shit out of Superman, what was the plan? Boom, one dimensional character.

Then they made Man of Steel.

This Zod was on some other shit. Entirely other shit. Not just world domination shit, but he was on a world-building, people-saving bent. The first time we saw Michael Shannon as Zod he walked in the door bucking people. Shutting down the studio. “On whose authority,” they said. “Mine.” Pew pew and people started to die. He killed a council member, launched a coup and killed Jor-El in 20 minutes—the first 20 minutes of the movie. He tried to kill a baby (Kal-El), spit on people, threatened Supes’ mama (twice) and when he said “I WILL FIND HIM!” you knew that MF was serious.

And then he found him. Best Hide And Seek Player EVER. Across the entire universe, Zod found his man, showed up and threatened a whole planet. Then, once he had Superman, he told him the truth, told him he was gonna kill 7 billion human beings, told Kal-El a) he better pick a side; and b) that he killed his daddy, and then threatened his mom for the second time. He had his folks tear up a small town then got busy terraforming planet Earth with this lovely little exchange:

Jor-El: You’re talking about genocide.

Zod: Yes. And I’m debating its merits with a ghost.

I mean, Damn. And when everything was lost, when he realized he didn’t have any people, Zod decided he was going to just kill every single person on Earth. By hand. He learned Supes’ powers, learned how to fly—he beat the shit out of Superman and made him commit the one atrocity that prevented Man of Steel from being a billion dollar movie.

As a character, Zod has always been an issue for Superman. I’ve kind of delineated his role in the comics already and I think this version strikes much closer to the original intent. Zod has always made Superman choose between being a Kryptonian or being a human—this was no different. What I loved was you actually saw Zod snap. Not that his terraforming-kill-the-humans plan wasn’t already fucked up; you actually saw him lose his rationale for everything he ever did. What started as an imperative to save the remains of his dying race—a noble sentiment for Zod—became full circle to a revenge story in the end. And you saw Zod lose his shit on screen.

It was awesome.

That’s my word! I’ll swing back on Tuesday for more crooked nonsense.

Out!