Tuesday, September 27, 2011

None of This Ever Happened: A Serialized Story

So, I'm going to take a stab at a serialized story.  I think the first one draws a pretty decent picture of the basic premise.

            I was never a cynical man.  I think you should know that.  That isn’t to say I was an optimist, because I wasn’t.  But I wasn’t cynical.  I was however, totally and undeniably screwed.  The type of screwed where the most sensible choice is to go out in a blaze of glory.  In my case, this was literal. 
            In most stories, that would be the end.  The protagonist makes a grand final gesture before disappearing in a backdrop of explosions and electric guitar riffs.  But then there are times when, after the smoke has cleared and the ashes are swept away, the hero manages to cling on just long enough to be rescued.  In most stories, this is the happy ending.  In mine, this is just the beginning.
            When I woke up, battered and broken in a room I’d never seen before, I was asking myself a question.  “Why, when someone does something like argue doctrine or masturbate, it’s the devil’s work, but when a good man dies in a freak accident, it’s god’s work?  If the devil is powerful enough to influence the world, couldn’t he kill a good man?”  I’m not here to get all philosophical on you, it just happened to be what I was thinking when I woke up.  I then worked out the answer, which, since I’ve already asked the question, I’ll tell you.  It’s because we want to believe that there is evil, but we don’t want to think it can touch us.  We want to believe that bad things don’t happen to good people without a good reason.  That’s why we have Good and Evil, Yin and Yang, Chaos and Order.  Heaven and Hell.
            What do all of those have in common, besides being opposing forces that permeate the world?  I answered this one too.  There is a clear answer as to which one is better.  Even if you personally prefer Chaos, you know you’re supposed to choose Order.  Then I asked myself the most important question I had ever asked myself up to that point in my life.
            “What the hell am I thinking about?” I whispered aloud.
            The nurse sitting on the chair next to my bed sprang up.  I later learned that they never expected me to say anything ever again.  To this day, I’m still considered a scientific anomaly. 
            I passed out as the nurse ran into the hall to get my doctor.  Then I remembered my question.  And I remembered the answer. 
            There are two opposing forces in the universe, in a constant struggle for balance.  But it’s not Good and Evil or Yin and Yang.  It’s Inertia and Change.  Whether things stay as they are or transform, for better or worse.  It’s not as clear a decision as good and evil, but, trust me on this, those Inertia guys are assholes.  Then again, I’m not exactly unbiased, so feel free to make up your own mind.
             These two sides are at war.  I mean literally, at war.  They have their own home dimensions. (Dimensions isn’t exactly the right word, but science hasn’t progressed far enough to let me use the word I’d need to.)  It’s not uncommon for people to accidentally stumble into these realities (still not the right word, but maybe better), but most can’t comprehend what they see.  So the mind makes up a scenario, something that the brain can understand.  That’s how the bases became known as Heaven and Hell.
            Before you scoff and stop reading, let me assure you that this isn’t a story about God and the Devil, or of Angels and Demons.  That’s just what people thought they saw.  What they call heaven is actually the home reality of the aforementioned Inertia crowd.  The reason people remember it as peaceful is because it is.  In the sense that there is no movement.  There is no time.  A second lasts an eternity and an eternity flits by in an instant.  When the very atoms themselves have stopped, how do you wrap your head around that? 
            What many call Hell is the home base for Team Change.  The one thing people do get right is that it is hot there.  But with the amount of energy flowing through that place, it would have to be.  It is a world of supernovas, quasars, and neutrinos in thirty-two flavors.  Everything that is, ever will be, and never was, occupies the same space at the same time.  The human brain is like a computer, and most can’t process this amount of information.   They overheat and imagine agony.  This is what I saw after I crashed.  Not the Hell that most people would see, the Hell that would drive most people mad.  I saw it for what it was, and understood. 
            We’ve been fighting the Inertia for ages untold.  Well, not me personally.  I’ve only been involved for six years, starting with when I went down in a blaze of glory.  Normally, that’s the end of a story, but in this case – Wait.
            I’ve already told you that part.  I’d like to apologize, that happens every now and then.  With so many layers of reality to keep focus on, it’s easy to lose track of time.  Reality is a bit of a mindfuck that way.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This one's about politics

I was going to try to avoid talking about politics for as long as possible.  Apparently that's less than 24 hours for me.  Don't worry, I'm not one of those "the other side is all Commies/Racists" types.  I'm taking issue with a particular position by a specific politician, and will do so solely on the merits of the argument without bringing said politicians personal history or perspectives into account.
The specific issue I am referring to is a proposed change to the way federal government would work, as proposed by Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry.  In his book Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington he wrote the following:
"...allow Congress to override the Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, which risks increased politicization of judicial decisions, but also has the benefit of letting the people stop the Court from unilaterally deciding policy."
The way it's phrased here, it doesn't sound too bad.  It is suggested as a way to prevent the Supreme Court from having too much power.  However, if this idea were to come into effect, it would completely undo the system of checks and balances that has kept this nation great for centuries.  Why?  Quick question: Who decides if a law is unconstitutional?  Answer: The Supreme Court.
If this plan were to come to fruition, a Congress with a two-thirds majority in both houses by either party could pass any law, regardless of whether it's constitutional or not.  I don't think congress (even if it's controlled by the people I agree with) should have the ability to disregard the constitution.  
Furthermore, I don't think Perry is an idiot.  I disagree with him on many points more than this one.  But I don't think he's too stupid to see this.  And the fact that he would be willing to advocate this scares me.  I'm not saying that Perry himself scares me, so much as I am saying that a person running for president who would suggest a way for Congress to evade the constitution honestly frightens me.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Accidentally the Perfect Sequel

Sometimes there are movies that work perfectly as a sequel to a completely unrelated movie.  I say this because I found one today.  One where just a name change for the main character would have been enough so that the storyline from the first movie would play into the second seamlessly.  Where the main character has the same personality in both films.  I'm talking about The Freshman and Swimming with Sharks.
The Freshman (1990) stars Matthew Broderick and Marlon Brando.  Broderick is a naive, optimistic film student starting college.  Immediately upon arriving to college, he is robbed.  This leads him to meeting the robber's boss,  a mafioso played by Marlon Brando.  They like meta-humor in this movie, and have Broderick's character watch The Godfather in film class (not one of the scenes with Brando).  In addition, when he meets Brando, he says, "You look remarkably like..."
Anyway, Brando finds jobs for him to do, Brando's daughter falls in love with him, wacky hijinks ensue.  In the end, Broderick keeps his bright-eyed optimism, and Brando even says that he'll help Broderick find a job in the film business when he graduates.
Swimming with Sharks (1994) stars Frank Whaley and Kevin Spacey (in one of his best performances).  Frank Whaley is a naive, optimistic film school graduate who just got a job working as an assistant to one of the most powerful execs in Hollywood.  It's never explained how he got this job that "a thousand people would kill for."  And he has the same personality as Broderick in The Freshman.  But it's more than that.
This movie cuts back and forth between the naive, optimistic Whaley and the "finally snapped" Whaley.  The former trying to be the nice guy despite the constant abuse from his evil boss (Spacey).  This has some of the meta-godfather aspect in the previous movie, insofar that Whaley's the good guy amongst the bad guys who has to become a bad guy himself to survive.  The movie even ends with the door closing in front of him so he can "discuss business."


So what was the point of all this?  Just that I found an interesting connection in storylines between two very good films.  The Freshman is one of my favorite comedies of all time, with a clever story and they don't overdo it on the meta-humor.  It's a family appropriate film.  I only mention that because the other film isn't.
As I said earlier, Swimming with Sharks has one of Spacey's best roles (Buddy Ackerman) and that performance alone could carry the movie.  It's a bit dated, but that's easily ignored.  It does get very violent and Kevin Spacey swears like the boss in an R-rated comedy, but fortunately the movie doesn't try to rely on that.  If you can, see both movies.  And as a bonus, here's my favorite quote from Swimming with Sharks:
This is show business.  Punching below the belt is not only all right; It is rewarded.

My introduction

In case you're one of the five people that will visit this blog (and you're somehow you're not my mom) then I should probably introduce myself.  I'm Matthew Kahn.  I'm twenty and from Calabasas, California.  There are two reactions people will have had to that last sentence, so I'll address both.  The first: Calabasas is a suburb of Los Angeles and is in the San Fernando Valley.  It is the hottest part of the San Fernando Valley, which is itself the hottest part of L.A.  As to the second possible response: Yes, I know the Kardashians live in Calabasas.  But I'd like to pretend (just for a few minutes) that they don't.  If you want to read about the Kardashians, highlight their name and press Ctrl+W.
For those who don't like the Kardashians (or do, but have basic computer skills), let me tell you why I've decided to make a blog.  Why not?  I enjoy writing and I have an appreciation (i.e. obsession) with media, be it books, or movies, or theatre.  I have opinions on everything from internet culture to politics, and at my age, I am of course correct on all accounts.
So what you may expect to see in the future could be an eclectic mix of anecdotes, observations, links, and rants.  Something else you may find is that I suck at conclusions.