Sunday, December 22, 2002

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

How Many Miles to Babylon?

Finished watching Babylon 5 DVD, first season, in self-indulgent marathon session. Had deliberately not watched it on the tube as I was a Star Trek fan and one space opera a time is enough. Damn it.

Having watched it, I realized how much time I had wasted watching STTNG.

Have always had core problems with Trek. Nutshelled:

It's a media-free universe. Except for one scene in one movie (where Kirk gets sucked out a hole into space — yay!) there are no reporters, news organizations or, for that matter, any future TV shows of any kind. Evidently, all these fuckers in the future do is play around in the holodeck. Writers went the way of blacksmiths.

The chuckleheads in the future all blindly support the Federation. There are no racist throwbacks on earth who say "fuck the aliens, fuck this intergalatic peace shit." There's no atavistic "Earth First" organization throwing sand into the Federation's gears and cogs.

Since it's a media-free universe, nobody ever seems to criticize the Federation. (Captain Kirk, in an apparent violation of the Prime Directive, destroyed the suicide booths on Whackoff-7. Critics are calling for his immediate ...) Nope. No sir. It's one big happy-happy Federation. No arguments here.

The notion of military tactics and strategy are on the level of the kid on the short bus playing checkers with chess pieces.

The aliens aren't really alien. Ohmygod, it's Q, the deus ex mechanae from beyond dimensions. Gimme a fucking break. There's NOTHING that feels really alien -- like the beings in Lem's Solaris or all of Lovecraft's eldritch nasties. All aliens in the Star Trek universe have two eyes, a mouth, two legs, etc. Basically, we're talking latex prosthetics.

Aside from not being alien, none of the aliens are better than us. The evolutionary ladder ends at humans. All the aliens we bump into are EXACTLY on our level. Any aliens above us conveniently disappear into another dimension. There's no sense of the galaxy as an ecosystem of intelligences — some much greater than ours.

And, assuming FTL is possible, you would also have to assume some of the intelligences would be OLDER than ours, and would have left the infrastructure of their FTL civilizations all over the place. Nah. Except for the occasional Guardian of Forever, the universe is made up of (A) Uninhabited planets (B) Savages with stone axes (B) Technological civilizations at EXACTLY the same level as earth.

This shit always bugged me. I always imagined writing sort-of an anti-Star Trek to address these points.

Stracinzky (or however you spell his damn name) did it.

Friday, August 2, 2002

Pattern Recognition


William Gibson's latest novel, Pattern Recognition, is finally out. He's done something I always wanted to do but never figured out how to do: write an SF novel set in the present as-it-is.

The angry young punk who wrote Neuromancer seems to have calmed down a bit. PR has its fair share of nasty people, but there's a humanistic glow around it. Gibson is starting to like his characters. You could even accuse him of having a heart. The Pynchon influence still shines like Byron the Bulb on every page.

The plot concerns Cayce Pollard, a woman with a talent for pattern recognition. Her brain knows if a logo is going to move the masses. The price she pays; certain mass marketing graphics give her panic attacks. Especially the Michelan Man.

She's hired to track down the mysterious author of the Footage, a film appearing in dribs and drabs on the Internet with no acknowledged author and expertly erased tracks. Along the way, Pollard tracks down the wheels-within-wheels of multilayered conspiracies that touch on the Russian mafia, product placement, social marketing and the death of her father in 9-11. The overall effect is an Alice in Wonderland tumble into deeper and deeper weirdness. The obvious Pynchon comparison here is The Crying of Lot 49.

The footage author turns out to be a young Russian filmmaker suffering brain damage from the bomb that killed her parents -- high-up figures in the Russian mob hierarchy. The code that hides the shattered author of this fragmented film seems based on a city grid at first; it turns out to be a schematic for the bomb. A haunting image for memory lost.

According to Gibson, we're going to stay lost. Get used to it.

The weirdness Pollard finds is the weirdness of the present, as unimaginable as any SF prognostication. 9-11 emerges as a singularity. After that event, the future becomes unimaginable. Science fiction, as we know it, is now a thing of the past.

Brilliant point, Mr. Gibson.

While we're on the subject, up yours.

Sunday, May 5, 2002

The Rashomon Affect

Stop me if you've heard this one...

But almost everybody in America has the wrong idea about Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.

The popular conception is: something happens in the woods -- woman gets raped, husband killed, maybe yes, maybe no, but sumpin. Every different witness has a different story. They've all got their own REALITY, see? Ain't no way to get to the truth of what "really" happened. No such thing as "really happened." What's true for you ain't true for me, yattayatta. That's not it.

The stories are different because most of the story-tellers are lying or leaving stuff out to make themselves look good. The movie is not saying that objective truth is unattainable. We actually hear what happens at the end -- if I remember correctly -- from the wood carver who stole the woman’s knife.

Kurosawa isn't asking the sophomoric question, "What's real?" He's asking (from what seems to me a Buddhist perspective) is compassion real? Are the outward forms of loyalty, fellow-feeling and mutual obligation we call "civilization" real? Or is "humanity" a fraudulent mask concealing an absolutely nihilistic bestiality -- a mask that gets removed when nobody's looking? When people say "I love you, I care, you're my friend," etc., is it all one big lie?

Those are the questions he cares about. That's the film.

And I know what you're saying ...

That’s just your point of view.

And, no, actually not. That's not just the way I see it.

It's what the film is actually saying.

And you're probably saying I'm wrong, right?

Right. Your indulgence in such blatant subjectivity aside, everybody objectively knows that Rashomon is all about the absolute subjectivity of our various points of view.

See, there’s this murder and four people see it entirely differently. That’s what’s so amazing and wonderful about Rashomon, is it proves that everyone lives in their own reality, their own private little movie, and nobody’s movie is anymore real than anyone else’s. As a famous director with a beard once said, “All of it’s true and none of it’s true.”

No, no, no, no, no. What everybody knows is wrong!

What this mobius strip of mutually consensual theorizing actually proves is if you approach something with a idea in your head of what it’s going to be in advance, that idea is what you’ll see, even if the actual reality in no way resembles the notion in your noggin.

Pretty ironic if you ask me.

Just for laughs, let's review the actual movie. Watch it again and get back to me, OK? I'll wait.

You back? Great.

The film starts with a lot of questions -- then gets to the big one.

The opening scene shows various gob-smacked characters in the ruins of the old Kyoto gate. Something bad has just happened -- a terrible civil war. They're trying to make sense of it. The destruction of civilization is the context and the subtext of their talk.

This is analogous to Taylor and Dr. Zaius having a philosophical discussion in the ruins of the Statue of Liberty at the end of The Planet of the Apes. The obvious parallel to the historical period of the movie is the post-World War II devastation that Japan had recently emerged from. The discussion of the movie takes place against the backdrop of that loss and that pain.

Against the ruined backdrop, the characters say stuff like, “I don’t understand it. I can’t believe it. How could this happen?” It's not a sophomoric discussion. It's what traumatized survivors say.

What's real? What's true? Can you trust people?

See, those are the kind of things people say after something like, say, the Columbine massacre or the 9-11 tragedy. When such people say “I can’t understand it,” they're not talking about an incomprehensible multiverse reality of disconnected subjectivities. They're not saying this that, in one point of view, Jason Klebold attacked his school with a Supersoaker or, in another point of view, the World Trade Center was destroyed by a giant, flying pickle. “I can’t understand it” means: “How can that shit go down? How could somebody do that? How could human beings possibly sink that low?"

Then we get to the big question.

The question Kurosawa wrestles with is not, contrary to popular opinion, the Socrates Junior question of “What is reality?” (Granted that may have been the question pursued by Akutogawa in the original short stories the movie was based on. But it seems to bore the crap out of Kurosawa.)

The question that interests Kurosawa: "Is the human soul worthy of faith?" A young monk asks the question at the start. (Strictly speaking, he says, "This time I may finally lose my faith in the human soul.") It's a statement of a possible loss of faith, so it's still an open question.

So, is the human soul worthy of faith?

The rest of the movie provides the answer in the form of four narratives of the same scene told by four different characters.

The issue isn't subjectivity vs. objectivity. The issue is lies vs. truths. Specifically, the question of whether our notion of "humanity" is a lie. People wear the mask of civilization. Out in the forest -- out of sight of their peers -- they're capable of monstrous acts. Are human beings really monsters? Are our tales of honor, courage, family devotion and love simply lies?

Look back at the narratives the various characters tell. They're either total lies -- or distorted by lies.

Tajomaru’s story. (The Bandit character, played by Mifune.) It’s a lie.

The Woman's story. A lie.

The Samurai/husband's story. Another lie.

The Wood-cutters story. The truth -- except for one lie of omission. He hides the fact he stole a valuable knife.

It’s human to lie.

I could pick apart each story, but let's stick with one -- the bandit, Mifune's character. Why does the Bandit lie?

He seems disturbed ... defensive.

He’s acting – power-playing. He's trying to make himself look good.

He projects a certain image of himself. He's a fearless force or nature – an anarchic law unto himself but within his own code (within that he’s true to himself)

It all starts because the Bandit wants the Woman – but he doesn’t simply bushwhack the couple; he tricks the guy. Cleverly, he tells the Samurai that he’s stumbled on an old tomb full of treasure in the woods. The Samurai lets his guard down and follows. Once in the deep forest, the Bandit gets the better of him, overpowers him and ties him up. This makes the Bandit look clever -- and makes the Samurai look dishonorable. He is, after all, attempting to rob a tomb. You can’t cheat an honest man as W.C. Fields once observed.

The Bandit doesn’t simply rape the Woman. That’s the original plan, of course, but she pulls a dagger on him. Surprise, surprise -- the Bandit's animal magnetism is so powerful that (in neat little bit of sexual symbolism) she suddenly wants him -- and drops the dagger. After that, the Bandit fights her husband, the Samurai. "Crossed swords 27 times." Husband put up a good fight.

It’s a fair fight, an honorable fight. The Bandit doesn’t just stab the guy while he’s sitting there all tied up; he releases him and gives the man his sword.

You see what this all adds up to?

It’s so ridiculously, thuddingly obvious I shouldn’t have to point it out -- but everything the Bandit says has the effect of putting himself in the best possible light. He’s a warrior, clever, fearless, honorable, irresistibly sexy, outside the laws of society and proud of it. The one thing he isn’t is a coward. (Later on, we find out he is. The Woodcutter saw the whole thing and the Bandit comes off badly.)

The distortion of the Bandit's proud narrative isn't a result of his subjectivity. It's not a different point of view.

He’s lying.

Look at the way Mifune plays the scene. Commentators have stupidly accused him of overacting. Of course he is. That's the point. Now that he’s caught and going to die, he wants to look good. He wants the world to remember him as a feral warrior, not a p-whipped coward. He’s lying to save face, putting on a good front, bullshitting for all he’s worth. The other characters do the same.

Dig?

The movie isn't saying, "We all live in our own subjective realities; what's true for you is not true for me." The movie is saying: "Everybody lies. If that's so, is our very notion of common humanity -- the basis of civilization -- a lie?"

No. We never know the truth. That's the point!

Wrong.

Despite the persistent urban legend, we actually know what happened in the forest.

The evidence is there, within the Bandit's segment alone. The truth about what went down (either in the real world or in his head) is no big mystery-shrouded, riddle-wrapped enigma. It is all so obvious, if you actually look at the movie that’s there minus the brainwashing of idiotic sheep critics bleating the received interpretation.

What is reality? Kurosawa couldn't care less.

Is the human soul worthy of faith? That's the big one. The one he cares about.

And, at the end of the movie, Kurosawa answers this question. The destitute Woodcutter decides to adopt a child abandoned on the Rashomon gate. The young monk says, "You have restored my faith in man." Clearly, that's the point of the movie. It brings tears to my eyes. Sophomoric discussions about reality and point of view don't.

That said, you have to see the movie objectively -- with your own eyes -- instead of seeing the movie you expect to see. To me, it's obvious. But the myth of Rashomon is so powerful, it drowns out the truth that's right in front of your eyes. So far, everyone I've talked to has rejected my interpretation.

I am a church of one.

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I want my NKVD

(to the tune of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing")

I want my, I want my NKVD
I want my, I want my NKVD

Russian mobster, look like a lobster
Got a Lubyanka mamma on the old Black Sea
That ain't freedom, look at how they screw you
It's freedom for nothin' cause nothing's free

That ain't freedom, look at how they screw you
Lemme tell ya, them guys ain't dumb
Sell your sister, like a transistor
Suitcase bomb, you can have some fun

{Refrain}
We stocking GUM with crates of fucking blue jeans
Designer label posteriors
We got to please these Euro tourists
We're working for the nomenklatura

Here comes the new boss
Just like the old boss
Lemme tell you, these guys are worse
A bullet in the brain can be an act of mercy
A brain that's full of pain is a lifetime curse

Look at them prestoopniks
That's the way you do it!
Brains just like a monkey's
They do what they do and don't know it's crime
That ain't freedom. That's the way they screw you
Papa Joe made the trains run on time

I want my, I want my NKVD
I want my, I want my NKVD

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Mulholland Drive, wrapped in plastic

Caught Mulholland Drive on DVD. It resembles Psycho, edited with a chainsaw.

Writing is hard. Jesus Christ, I know that.

It's one thing to write scenes and dialog. That's hard enough. But to make all those scenes and dialog somehow fit together, make you want to keep watching and add up to something? Well, Hitchcock could do it. David Lynch figured out you don't have to do it.

Just write a bunch of scenes and dialog.

And don't make them fit together.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Missing sketches

What follows is a partial list of missing comedy sketches, dates approximate. These were originally posted on various AOL message board and, later, in the free speech zone of ACLU's web site. Both entities cleaned house and deleted these files. The sketches still existed as word documents on my HP. Then, naturally, I had a hard drive crash. I backed the sketches up on a Zip disc, of course, but have now misplaced the !@#$ disc.

2002
I want my NKVD

2001

Tales of the FBI
The FBI ignores evidence of an Al Queda terrorist plot in its zeal to fight video piracy.

Johnson Jones, Private Dick
1930s slang and lots of bad puns.

Tomorrow is a Piece of Shit
James Bond's latest assignment takes him to various redneck junkyards, gas stations and shitty trailers in Atlanta. The latest Bond villain is a snuff-dipping fatass. The latest Bond woman is, too.

The Death Interview
The Grim Reaper promotes his new book on Late Night with David Letterman.

Crap-n-Poop
A massive store (a la Safeway) has a massively annoying jingle containing every possible marketing cliche. "There's so much more of what there's so much more of -- at your friendly neighborhood Crap-n-Poop!"

2000

Travel Advisory
A parody of a State Department travel advisory. The message: Most of the planet wants to kill us: stay home.

Gorilla Suit Jesus
Jesus, as a test of faith, returns a second time, not as a gorilla, but as a man in a gorilla suit. The Fundamentalist Christians, not expecting this, reject him. [Recovered]

Atlas Flushed
An Ayn Rand-style movie about John Crapper, the uncompromising inventor of the toilet.

The Legacy
The Skull and Bones Society (which resembles Animal House) conspire to make George W. Bush the President of the United States. He may be incompetent, but, like Flounder, he’s a legacy.

Mr. Large
A kingpin of crime rises from the gutter. Ultimately, he dies of old age.

What Really Happened to the Taco Bell Chihuahua
The Taco Bell Chihuahua (in an obvious homage to John K's Ren) eats genetically engineered StarLink corn, grows to enormous size (What ... ees .. happening to me?) and goes on a rampage.

1999

About a Doughboy
The Pillsbury Doughboy sees a shrink. He wants to be a Doughman. He’s sick of people poking him in the belly and expecting him to make that cute laugh. The shrink pokes him in the belly. He goes on a shooting rampage.

Monster on Trial
Perry Mason defends Godzilla for the crime of stomping Tokyo. There are 10 million witnesses. Godzilla is declared innocent.

The Yogi Bear Sutra
Capacious indeed is the intelligence of Yogi Bear, far surpassing the mental abilities of ordinary bears.

Conspiracy Fact
The secret rulers of the global financial system meet in their underground lair: Richie Rich, Rich Uncle Pennybags (aka the Monopoly Man), Daddy Warbucks, C. Montgomery Burns and the Monopoly Octopus. They agree to speed up the timetable for the destruction of the American Middle Class.

1998

War of the Worlds [Oct 30 1998]
A rant in honor of the 60th anniversary of the War of the World’s Broadcast. Complaint #1: The future is a cheat: no flying cars. Complaint #2: HG and Orson probably had it right. If there are aliens out there, they probably want to eat us. Why are we broadcasting our presence?

Teddy Bear's Picnic
The Teddy Bears turn out to be badass, Hells Angel biker-types. They don't appreciate their fucking picnic being disturbed.

When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling
An American-Irish family visits a charming Irish pub in Dublin filled with colorful characters. They leave with snapshots and memories. They return two hours later. It turns out the charming characters were all paid character actors. Now we see the bar's actual patrons: bitter, IRA thugs. Who beat the Americans savagely.

Clown College Reunion
Ronald McDonald appears at his Clown College reunion. The other clowns mock him for being a "corporate clown" and deride his fake magic.

1997
Necromarketing
Dirt Devil had the digitally reanimated corpse of Fred Astair dancing around with a vacuum cleaner. As long as we're going to turn the dead into corporate shills, who else could we dig up?

Titanic -- the God-proof boat!
In 1912, the White Star Line makes "God Himself couldn't sink her!" the tagline of their advertising campaign for the Titanic. It's God-proof, or your money back.

Rage against the Schween
The head of Schween Marketing reveals the giant machine at the heart of his factory spitting out Rage Against the Machine t-shirts, CDs and bumper stickers.

The Bob Marley Trial
Bob Marley is tried for shooting the Sheriff. He’s stoned out of his mind and his testimony makes no sense. “I did not shoot the Deputy.” What Deputy? Who said anything about a Deputy? [Earlier draft recovered]

An Immigrant's Story
A man comes to America from the old country in the early 1900s. He has a dream: selling hot, steaming turds from a pushcart. Anything is possible in America!

1996

Quentin Tarantino's Night Before Christmas
Santa and henchman stage an ultraviolent home invasion. (Written in collaboration with Kevin Dean)[Recovered]

English as a Second Language Theater
A beginning English speaker writes sketch comedy in which the punchline is always “Turds!”

Slingbladerunner

Carl chases replicants with his slingblade. Some folks call it a Kaiser blade.

Side Effects May Include
A new wonder drug has a long list of symptoms including Lycanthropy and "Scanners" syndrome.

Miss Oleo
Miss Oleo (a real psychic, as opposed to Miss Cleo) warns a woman that her murderous, ex-boyfriend stalker is in her apartment. She tells her where to stand and exactly when to bash the skillet over his head. [Around here somewhere]

The Real Psychic Network
Real psychics tell you your real future, which turns out to be horrible and depressing. For an extra fee, they tell you what you did in a past life, which is also horrible and depressing.

1995

Star Trek 90210
Twentysomething yuppie scum in space.

Republichrist
The new Republican Bible reimagines Jesus as a glad-handing, asshole businessman.

A Clockwork Gallery Walk

Alex and his droogs engage in art criticism.

Alex's Clockwork Oranges
Alex introduces his new breakfast cereal.

Son of Religion Incorporated
A grab-bag of jive religions: Jehovah's Prosecuting Attorneys, Seinfeldology, Harry Kirshners, Christian Mad Scientists and more.

Sex is Fun for Kids on Drugs
A lampoon of conservative perceptions of the evil, liberal media. Various hypothetical TV shows designed to destroy belief in God and sexual morality.

1994

Homerman
Homer Simpson attends a company picnic with his family. Suddenly, nobody knows who he is and Homer is on the run in a parody of Nowhere Man, the Prisoner, the Manchurian Candidate, and every other paranoid fantasy. A spec script for The Simpsons Halloween special. [Probably lost forever]

Beanie Babies
A Peter Lorre-like figure lives in terror of the Beanie Babies. Their little bellies are filled with beans. They're always following me! He meets a bad end.

Wo Fat Diet
Wo Fat of Hawaii Five-0 captures Detective McGarrett. He informs his old enemy that the People's Republic of China has, at last, defeated the decadent United States. Then he buries him beneath a mountain of cheap, crappy consumer products.

Acid Casualty Insurance
Acidheads running an insurance company grok the deep connections between life and death and math and stuff.

Nazi Track
A parody of the Nordic Track, this is an exercise machine for white supremacists involving goose-stepping and seig-heiling.

1993

The Flamemaster 3000
Kids love fire! Now, just in time for Christmas--a flame-thrower for kids! Use only as directed. (South Park did something pretty freaking similar. Not that I'm saying anything.) [Rewritten, which makes it hard to prove I thought of it first.]

Mr. Mercenary's Neighborhood
Mr. Rogers' replacement is a survivalist gun nut.

An Ugly Day in the Neighborhood
Mr. Rogers is insane. In our continuing Mr. Rogers saga, a cameraman witnesses him declaring himself the God of the Neighborhood of Makebelieve. Mr. Rogers captures the snooping cameraman, ties him up. The puppets hold a trial, verdict: death. The cameraman is rescued by Barney, who shoves Mr. Rogers down the toilet.

You Can Never Go Down the Drain
Mr. Rogers, graphically, reassures children that you can never get sucked into the toilet, kicking and screaming helplessly as the filthy waters choke you and the darkness closes in. Your parents didn't lie to you. No, of course not.

1992

Fight Stubborn Grunge with New! Instant Prozac
A drug company tests its new, fast-acting anti-depression medication on Nirvana and Pearl Jam. It works and ruins their music careers.

It's a Horrible Life
A corrupt businessman is ultimately responsible for destroying the hopes of the 1960s. The world would be a better place if he'd killed himself. Clarence the Angel points this out to him. (SNL did a similar skit featuring Newt Gingrich. Mine was first, damnit.)[Recovered]

Oh, Say, Could You Just Shut Up a Second?
Francis Scott Key rushes into Ft. McHenry where his friends have all been shot up after a night's long seige. Is the flag OK? All he can think about is the freaking flag. His friends are pissed.

Moonwalker: the Director's Cut
A re-edited version of Moonwalker in which the Joe Pesci character saves the children from pedophilic attentions of Michael Jackson.

1991

The Ballad of Slade Killgun
A serial killer's killing spree brings publicity and prosperity to a dirtbag town in the Old West. When he dies by accident, the townsfolk cover it up, stage copycat murders and keep the legend alive.

Believe in the Beans
The Magic Bean salesman sells Jack a new religion.

ASAP's Fairy Tales
A series of ridulously telegraphic fairy tales for busy parents with no patience.

Satan Claus
Santa emerges as an evil figure who dominates the world and uses children’s greed to turn them against their parents.[Recovered]


Mold Injected Plastic

The American Mold Injected Plastic Association throws away millions of dollars on an idiotic, nationwide "mold-injected plastic awareness" campaign. The advertising agency can't convince the President of the AMIPA that no one gives a crap about mold-injected plastic. It is, after all, his life.

1990
The Old Prospector
This character is truly a shit. He has a knack for predicting disasters. Everyone always ignores him. Then he dances around like a loon when the disaster happens saying "I told you so."

American Chainsaw Association
When chainsaws are outlawed, only outlaws will have chainsaws.

Monday, March 18, 2002

Missing scripts

Cartoon scripts, spec scripts and serials ...

Except for fragments, am also missing the following spec scripts. Most of these were written and posted in serial format on various websites.


Clinton, Clinton, I’ve been Thinking (1995-1999)
No story arc. Pretty much a bunch of surreal sketches about 1996 Presidential campaign, and the endless investigation that continued before, during and after. Ken Starr, Clinton, Monica Lewinski … it pretty much wrote itself. [partially recovered]

The following three scripts had a loose story continuity. I wrote them in serial form, then attempted to edit them down to something episodic and producible. Saw it as an animated cartoon, but could also have worked as live action.

THE BIG DAMN MEDIA SATIRE

Revenge of the Son of the Glass Teat (1995)
The world is disappearing up its own self-absorbed asshole. There’s a simple explanation: aliens are stealing our media. Their spaceship resembles an enormous glass teat. But Elvis and Bigfoot overcome the aliens, take control, return from space and set humanity free. At least for now.

Koreshan (1996)
Jack Getz is a single parent who lives with his two sons in the dilapidated family hotel he inherited in Florida. A cartoonist, his once promising career is on the skids. He’s been recently fired from Walt Disney Studios for putting suggestive images in Alladin. After that, his career has been a downward slide to progressively crappier ad agencies, print shops and huckster promotion firms. Salvation comes: a golden cash cow. Jack is hired by an emerging global media empire. The CEO is Mr. Haack -- a South African composite of Rupert Murdock and other media tycoons. Unknown to Jack, the aliens are using Haack's corporation as a front to launch their new product. Agents from the Okinawan independence movement tell him about the alien plot. They inform him that, instead of writing whiz-bang cartoons about cosmic battles, he actually has to fight one for a change. He thinks its bullcrap, until he takes their advice -- and discovers a vast underground network of tunnels left over from the last human civilization 20,000 years ago. The aliens have used us before. There's some kinda resolution, but I forget. Once again, Jack gets fired.

Me, Robomonkey (1997)
Haack releases the test version of the alien product -- User Generated Media -- a black box that the aliens plan to install in every human home. (An all-purpose, home entertainment center/replicator) Robomoney is the cute, helpful intelligent agent designed to make it easy for the humans to use the product -- just tell him what you want, and he grabs it for you! But Robomonkey escapes the virtual world and wreaks havoc in the real world, thereby derailing the aliens’ plans.

CHARACTERS
Ethan Haack -- the South African CEO of Haackworks Media. He resembles Sydney Greenstreet.
Jack Getz -- cartoonist, writer, loser. Basically, Jack is to me what Kilgore Trout is to Kurt Vonnegut.
Supermodel -- a model with superpowers. She's bitter about the loss of her native Hong Kong to the PRC.
Robomonkey -- an intelligent agent who escapes the alien's virtual world in a parody of "Altered States."
Highway Woman -- a mild-mannered woman who transforms into a Fury of Vengeance at the sight of a lack of courtesy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

True Stories of the FBI

TRUE STORIES OF THE FBI
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to “true stories of the FBI” featuring real actors pretending to be loosely-based composites of real agents and no cross-dressing. Ever. Tonight’s story: “NONE DARE CALL IT BOOTLEG.” We take you back in the summer of 2001. We’re deep inside the heart of the FBI’s Intelligence Analysis Division. As our story begins, an earnest, young rookie agent is just coming in from the field. He learns something. You will too.

AGENT JONES comes running in waving a file stuffed with papers.

JONES: Director! Director! You’re not going to believe…

DIRECTOR: (not recognizing him) And you are…?

JONES: Agent Jones.

DIRECTOR: (considering this – it doesn’t ring a bell) Jones. Jones? I don’t think I …

JONES: It’s been awhile, sir – six months, actually. I’ve been undercover – deep cover – but I think it’s finally paid off.

DIRECTOR: Refresh my memory.

JONES: I’ve infiltrated six different flight schools and …

DIRECTOR: (totally confused) Flight schools?

JONES: Yeah. What I found out was, they all contained disproportionate numbers of Middle Eastern nationals. Weird guys. Creepy-looking guys. Some approached me and attempted to rent crop dusters.

DIRECTOR: So…?

JONES: It adds up to terrorism, sir. A new kind of terrorism.

DIRECTOR: (scornfully) Terrorism? Six months undercover, and all you come up with is “terrorism” …? This is the FBI, Jones. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.

JONES: Like what?

DIRECTOR: Like video piracy, that’s what.

JONES: Video piracy?

DIRECTOR: Yeah. While you’re playing Junior G-Man, we reorganized the whole bureau. Today’s FBI is totally focused on video piracy.

JONES: You got to be kidding me.

DIRECTOR: I wish I was, Jones. It’s a crime wave. It’s big.

JONES: How big, sir?

DIRECTOR: International. We’re working with Interpol now. Terrorism’s just not priority.

JONES: (digesting this) Uh. Maybe it’s just me, sir, but …

DIRECTOR: Spit it out, Jones.

JONES: Shouldn’t international terrorism take priority to video piracy?

DIRECTOR: Is that what you think, Jones? Yeah, it figures. You would think that – snot-nosed academy punk. You want the headlines, the sexy assignments – “Terrorism”… “drugs” … “organized crime.” You think video piracy’s not important? Listen up, Jones. Let’s say we turn a blind eye, what happens then? They teach you that at the academy?

JONES: Uh … no.

DIRECTOR: No? No. I didn’t think so. Well they should, Jones. (tapping his forehead) Think Jones. Let’s play it your way. Let’s forget the bootleggers and go after the so-called “terrorists.” While you’re off hunting Carlos the Jackal, the pirates board and loot and have their way with Hollywood. What’s the harm? A few bootleg copies of “Zoolander,” a DVD rip of “Training Day.” What’s the harm you say?

JONES: I didn’t…

DIRECTOR: (cutting him off) I’ll tell you what the “harm” is, Jones. What happens to creative artists who don’t get fairly compensated for their intellectual property rights?

JONES: Sir ...

DIRECTOR: What happens when your local Blockbuster goes bust? Ever think about that? Barry Dillar’s out on the street – not to mention all the moms and dads at MCI and Sony with hungry mouths to feed. What happens to the studios, Jones? No subsidiary rights, no secondary income from video and DVD. They’re forced to cut back on production values – you know what that means? No more explosions for Jerry Bruckheimer. He starts doing chick flicks – lotsa talk, hugs and kisses, relationship stuff. Little Johnny grows up watching that, little Johnny grows up soft. And what about little Johnny? He can’t go down to Blockbuster anymore, let alone some Mom and Pop porno stand. Where’s he go? The street, that’s where. Back alley video. He comes home with third generation bootlegs full of scan lines, Jones. Scan lines and bad synch and bad audio to match. Johnny’s up in his room watching some knockoff of “Pretty Woman” that looks like a dirty car windshield on a rainy night ‘cause that’s all he can get. His eyes go bad, his ears go bad, and little Johnny grows up light in the loafers ‘cause he grew up watching chick flicks. Little Johnny, and all the little Johnnies across America. So America grows up soft. And before you can say “Me so horny,” the commies are drinking Starbucks in Seattle – Why? Because you’re worried about a few towelheads in cropdusters. That’s what happens if we play it your way.

JONES: I didn’t think, sir.

DIRECTOR: No. You didn’t. Ever notice that FBI warning at the end of every video?

JONES: Yeah.

DIRECTOR: Ever read it?

JONES: No.

DIRECTOR: Well you should Jones. Read it. Memorize it. Think about it. The FBI stands behind that warning. Don’t you ever forget it. (addressing audience)And that goes for you too, America. It’s time to just say “no” to copyright violation and turn in your friends. They’ll thank you for it. So will the FBI. Goodnight, America.

ANNOUNCER: This has been a “true story” taken directly from the video piracy files of the FBI. Any resemblance to persons, places or things represented in this teleplay is purely coincidental. All rights reserved.