The Doors of Ice and Fire

Okay, hear me out.  I’m throwing this blog together without giving it much thought, because, well…I just have to make sure I’m not completely crazy.  Or, you know…more crazy than I already believe myself to be.

I was listening to some tunes recently.  In particular, a bunch of songs on my Spotify playlist of Vietnam War-era songs.  Anyway, the Doors classic “The End” comes on.  If you aren’t familiar with it, well…okay, here’s a YouTube link with the lyrics (which, as it turns out, might be helpful for what’s to come.)

I’m sitting here listening to this thing and a really strange, and seemingly far-fetched theory starts to manifest itself, and it’s so nutzo that I can’t shake it.  So indulge me as I explain my latest crackpot fan theory.  Ready?  Here it goes.

The lyrics to The End at least partially influenced the story of George R.R. Martin’s epic “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, which many of you know as the book version of “Game of Thrones” (the very popular HBO series.)

No, really.

So without any further forethought (I’m seriously doing this before I over-think it and think better of it) here are the lyrics to Jim Morrison’s epic song and how it relates to GRRM’s epic tale.  I’ve made my notes in red.


This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes…again
(The coming of Winter and the White Walkers)
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand
In a…desperate land
(The Stranger represents death and the unknown in pantheon of The Seven. He leads the Dead into the underworld)
Lost in a Roman…wilderness of pain
And all the children are insane
All the children are insane
Waiting for the summer rain, yeah
(Children of the Forest? Waiting for the Summer Rain that will come after the long winter.)
There’s danger on the edge of town
Ride the King’s highway, baby
Weird scenes inside the gold mine
Ride the highway west, baby
(The Kingsway. Also, “The Gold Mine” could be Casterly Rock)
Ride the snake, ride the snake
To the lake, the ancient lake, baby
The snake is long, seven miles
Ride the snake…he’s old, and his skin is cold
(Snake=Dragon. A lake called “The Womb of the World” lies near Vaes Dothrak. Vaes Dothrak translates to “City of Riders”)
The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the rest
(Westeros)
The blue bus is callin’ us
The blue bus is callin’ us
Driver, where you taken’ us
(Possibly the Blue Graces, the Blue Winter Rose of Winterfell, The Blue Bard, or even Daario Naharis, who sports a three-pronged beard dyed blue in the novels.  Also ‘Daario Naharis’ almost sounds like ‘blue bus’ if you’re ridiculously stoned, I suppose.)
The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
(The assassins who serve the Many Faced God in the House of Black and White)
He went into the room where his sister lived, and…then
(Jaime and Cersei Lannister? Or is this Tyrion’s POV?)
he Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door…and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
(Tyrion again?)
Mother…I want to…fuck you
(Sweetrobin in the Vale? Or a reference to the Mother of Dragons?)
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
C’mon baby, take a chance with us
And meet me at the back of the blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
On a blue bus
Doin’ a blue rock
C’mon, yeah
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
(Jaime releasing Tyrion, or Dany and her dragons?  Theon and Jeyne/Sansa?)
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end
(And now his watch is ended.)

Brotherhood Without Bass  (See, some of you will totally get that)

Brotherhood Without Bass (See, some of you will totally get that)

Well, it’s fun, anyway, to think that way back when George was first contemplating a new fantasy world in which to set his masterpiece, maybe he smoked an enormous bowl and listened to The End.  Hell, maybe he tripped acid and watched Apocalypse Now.  We’ll never know for sure.  Or maybe he’ll explain it all in the afterward to the last book in this series. HA!!  GOTCHA!  THERE WON’T BE A FINAL BOOK!  HAHA! HAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!

Oh, now I’m sad.

Waiting With Motia.

“What’s with the yellow glasses?” I was curious. Motia didn’t wear specs as a general rule, but she was sporting these sporty little numbers with sleek, black frames and yellow-tinted lenses.

“Glare, stupid.” She spat. Her head didn’t turn my way in the slightest. She kept staring out the glassless window, and I knew her eyes were sweeping the horizon and everything between it and us. Looking for nothing in particular except maybe movement. A shadow flitting between cacti or from gorse to sage. It was still that pre-dawn dusk, and I couldn’t imagine what sort of glare she was talkin’ about, since the world was shades of purple, slowly in places becoming more periwinkle and rose.

“Where’s that goddam Indian?” she muttered, taking a bite from her protein bar. All we’d had to live on since Outworld, it seemed. Oat-and-nut bars with some sort of grain, like maybe quinoa, baked into crumbly rectangles. Them and stale water. How the hell does water go stale? Maybe that’s not the way to describe it, but that’s the word that pops into my head when I think about those aluminum cylinders with the thick rims and screw-off caps that never seemed to want to screw back on correctly.

And then her gun was in her hand. It always happened so fast. One minute she’d be talking and laughing, snorting out her nose with mirth, and then BAM! Her face went blank, like someone had hit a reset button and you noticed her pistol was up and ready, the action pulled back so everyone knew it was ‘go time.’ And if you didn’t know that, you were sure to have it explained to you with a sudden explosion of gunshots and smoke and the sound of tables crashing onto their sides for cover and sometimes the sounds of yells or screams that were always someone else’s. Motia didn’t yell. She just went to work. Thanks the gods, too, because she’d already saved my bacon more times than I could count.

This time she stood there, looking at nothing. Listening. And then I heard it, too. The baritone rumble and crackle of a V-twin engine and motorcycle tires on a dirt and gravel road. This was good news or bad, because whoever was riding our way didn’t give a good godsdamn who knew they were coming.

The engine stopped. We waited. The sun was on its way up now, and the big front window to the old, long-abandoned deli now opened upon a stunning landscape of gold, brown, and red with a high, clear, hard blue canopy. I listened for footsteps in the dirt and heard nothing. But Motia did. She gave me the time-tested “Shh” motion with a finger to her pursed lips and slid noiselessly to the side entrance. Her tactical position was such that the door’d hide her if it swung open. I stood there like an idiot before her angry eye told me to make myself scarce. But I was too late to move. There was nowhere to go. Then I heard it…a voice that sounded as warm as good whisky and yet thin as smoke whispered “Moe-TEE-yaaa…”

I surprised myself just then. My pistol had found its way to the sweaty palm of my right hand and was in the process of coming up, up slowly, it seemed, too slow, agonizingly slow…in reality it couldn’t have been more than half a second, but I knew it wasn’t fast enough. Not in this reality or any other. Didn’t matter anyway, as Motia’s arm knocked my hand skyward, my aim towards the grimy, grease-covered ceiling tiles and away from the tall, thin, brown-skinned man that stood just on the other side of the open storefront window.

“For FUCK’S SAKE, Pappu. You’re the only human in ten worlds that can do that!” Motia had already holstered her sidearm and was wiping perspiration from her brow. Pappu laughed his crazy old man laugh. I say ‘old man’ but let’s be honest, nobody knows how many centuries Pappu (or Papuulu or Papunu or P-Smoke or any number of names people have given him) has stalked the universes, most recently astride his vintage Indian motorbike which was, I suspect, chosen to be deliberately ironic. From what I’d observed, Pappu was always maintaining at least a dozen inside jokes (which often ended up being part of some elaborate long con he was running) but it was hard to tell. The fact that his best pal and confidante was an old Navajo called Sicheii (I say ‘called’ rather than ‘named’ because no one except maybe Pap knew his real name) added to his love of deliberate puns. Seriously, two “Indians” running around on Indians. I guess that shit’s hilarious if you’re an ancient mystic or something.

“But I let you hear me! Look, I’m even wearing sandals!” He lifted a bony leg that could’ve passed for a mangrove branch to display what looked like a brand new multi-colored rubber flip-flop, one that could’ve easily been purchased (or stolen) from any Dollar General.

“Jesus, Pappu. Trim your toenails. That shit’s nasty,” Motia chided as she helped him step over the sill into our makeshift redoubt.

“Jesus doesn’t care of man’s old toenails. You should see his! Like black scales! No, he care uh-uh no. But enough foot language. You come with me now.”

And just as soon as he had both feet on the dirty grey-green floor, he stepped nimbly back out the window and into the desert. Motia sighed.

“Whelp, I guess that’s why we drug our asses out here, huh?” And she smiled. I hadn’t seen that in a while. It was really, really nice. White and bright and confident, like she knew everything was going to be okay.

“You’re the boss,” I replied, checking that my pistol was secured in its holster. Then I followed the others, over the sill that still bore a few crumbled pebbles of old greenish-blue safety glass, into the dust and growing daylight of the Big Empty.

Trying New Things

You’ll notice some changes to the ol’ site, and you’ll probably notice more going forward. For starters, a new theme and a new layout.  This theme (one of WordPress’s many free layouts) is sort of a throwback to the original blog design, but with some stylistic nods to my most recent effort.  Considering this is only the third theme change for my blog in almost four years, I suppose that’s something.

“But why change?” you moan.  “I like the old page, with literally all of your blog posts easy to see at once!” you cry like a little baby.  “Please give me an orgasm!  It’s been so long, and you’re nowhere near as good as you were when we first married!  I’m leaving you for a goalie” you screech like my wife.  Well, there are several reasons, thank you very much.

For starters, some readers plain didn’t like the old design.  Said it was confusing.  Yes, you could scroll down and down and down and down to find that Big Bang Theory blog I did in 2011 (that thing STILL gets views) but there was no archive feature, no calendar.  It was sort of browsing through a bunch of old back issues of magazines to find that story you wanted.

Also, the old format didn’t allow me to showcase two things I love very much: myself and my friends’ blogs.  I love me.  I love me so much that I often have physical relations with myself.  You can now see my Tweets (EVERY ONE OF THEM IS HILARIOUS!) and my Facebook page (EVERYTHING IS STOLEN FROM REDDIT!) on the right-hand side.  But over on the left, beneath the latest and archive blog posts, you’ll see my blogroll is once again visible.  This is a list of some fine blogs, many of which are updated a lot more often than this one.  You’ll find comedy blogs, entertainment blogs, blogs about roller derby and poetry and comics and heartbreak and pie.  I encourage you to check them all out.  I know some very talented motherfuckers, and you should get to know them as well.

I'll be completely honest, I just wanted to see how photos displayed on the new page.  Oh, and there are spiders everywhere on this blog.  Sleep tight.

I’ll be completely honest, I just wanted to see how photos displayed on the new page. Oh, and there are spiders everywhere on this blog. Sleep tight.

That’s it for now.  I have to research some product info for a big commercial thingy.  But take a look round and let me know what you like and don’t like about the new layout.  Maybe I’m not done yet.  Maybe we need some curtains and laminate flooring.  Maybe it’s just fine.  Ashley Motia will tell me to my face.  Yes sirree bob, she will.  Lawd yes. But you can leave a comment below.  Just as good.

Thanks for reading.

How Not to Lose Your Leg

What follows is a sort of journal, a record of the strange little adventure I’ve been going through of late.  See, I had a wee procedure to fix an old problem, and it’s become…well, it’s been a bit of an odyssey.  Please enjoy (although I’d warn those with weaker constitutions to maybe skip this one.  Y’been told.)  Without further ado, here are the five things I’ve learned about knee surgery.

  1. The sooner you see the doctor, the better

My knee troubles began when I was a young 20-something. I was hit from behind playing ice hockey. My right knee went out sideways, rather than back along the hinge as nature intended. It hurt quite a bit, but I just wrapped it in an ACE bandage, iced it, etc. I was young and probably under-insured. Mostly, though, I didn’t want to bother. “Probably nothing” I told myself. That is, until I started having discomfort. It felt at times like I needed the joint to ‘pop.’ You know how sometimes it feels good to crack your knuckles or your back? Like that. Sort of a dull ache and stiffness. I would sometimes lie on the floor and have a friend pull my leg out from my body until I felt (and sometimes heard) a gentle crack. Then I felt better for a while. As I aged, it started turning into an ‘old man knee’ which would react negatively to the weather changes and such. I discovered that the older I got, the more pain I’d experience after playing hockey, paintball, or soccer. Sometimes I could barely make it up the stairs. Two procedures, and a scary infection later, I wish I’d gone to the doctor right away. Might’ve been expensive, but would’ve saved time and money in the long run.

And a lot of waiting.  And selfie-taking, natch.

And a lot of waiting. And selfie-taking, natch.

  1. Your body is a crazy, autonomous, self-protection machine

The main problem was that a bit of scar tissue from my initial injury (or perhaps a bit of bone or tendon) had broken free inside the flesh within my knee. My body decided to encapsulate it in a cyst. The cyst grew over time, until it became the size of a peach pit. This, more than anything, was the cause of most of my discomfort. Imagine having a Lemonhead candy in your knee, only it’s wrapped in layers of raw bacon and wet tissue paper. Gross, yes. But that’s what your body does to protect itself. It’s akin to an oyster creating a pearl around a grain of sand, if the oyster was a fan of David Lynch films. This bodily reaction is all well and good, until it gets in the way of flexing your knee or pushes down on your patellar tendon or expands and contracts in response to barometric pressure. Then it becomes troublesome. And, jumping ahead a bit, it turns out that for years I harbored a sub-dermal infection in the knee after my first procedure. (SURPRISE! It’s MRSA! Seriously, this could’ve ended up with me doing a great Long John Silver cosplay.) This infection stayed trapped in the knee cavity for years. In other words, my body basically threw up a force field around the nastiness, keeping it from spreading throughout my body…until we inadvertently released the monster.

"Heeeeeeere, monster!  C'mon out, buddy!" (And yes, that's me on the table.  I spared you the rest of the pics.)

“Heeeeeeere, monster! C’mon out, buddy!” (And yes, that’s me on the table. I spared you the rest of the pics.)

  1. Even nurses get grossed out

My first outpatient procedure was almost ten years ago. They went in and, unable to remove the entire cyst, sort of cut it down a bit. Trimmed the proverbial hedge. The problem was that the sutured wound became infected. They took out the stitches and gave me topical antibiotic cream and antibiotic pills. Should’ve cleared it right up. It didn’t. WARNING: we’re now getting to the part where you weak-stomached types might want to skip ahead. When the wound finally healed, it left a little ‘vent’ of sorts. This was disgusting, as now and then enough fluid would build up inside the joint that it would express itself. On one hand, it meant that the juice in my knee never reached critical, painful levels…but it also meant that it never truly healed, and had the added annoyance of being irritating and embarrassing. I’d stand up from kneeling to tie my kids’ shoes and there’s be a wet spot on my knee. Yuck. And the cyst was still in there, so when I did get down on my knees, at just the right angle, it was like having a marble sewn inside your pants leg right at the knee. Awkward and unpleasant. Finally, I’d had enough and went to my current doctor, who also specializes in sport medicine. He went in and basically performed the same procedure that I’d had before. Sewed me back up. And, you guessed it: more infection. The knee had been swollen and sort of red for a few days, and I was getting concerned. Then my shin got sort of pink. Finally, the Monday after my procedure (I’d gone in the previous Thursday) I awoke to find my knee a bloody mess. Literally, I’d ruptured, and spilled blood out of my dressing and down my leg. When I went to clean it up and re-dress, with every small bit of pressure I put on the wound, fresh blood poured out. It was like my knee was a water balloon full of blood, water, and pus. I called the doc, and he got me in fairly quickly. Opened me up, flushed out all the nastiness with saline, swabbed it, and packed the wound with medicated gauze. Here’s how that works: he opens a jar containing the gauze. The strip is about 1/4 to ½ of an inch wide and a foot or so long. He takes the forceps and slowly crams it all into the wound. Then he covers it with dry gauze padding, wraps it with more gauze, and puts an ACE bandage over all of it. One of the two nurses that have assisted every time I’ve been to the doctor has told me how hard it is to keep her breakfast down during my visits, first the cutting-out of the mass and cyst (the stuff looked like chewed-up watermelon bubble gum as he pulled more and more out) and then the stuffing of the raw, open hole in my knee with gauze. I, on the other hand, found it fascinating to watch. I had my phone in my hand at one point, and he asked “taking a video?” I told him that I was Tweeting, but damn if that wasn’t a good idea. But it was too late by that point. The good stuff was over.

Afterwards, I thought "Huh.  Hope I didn't interfere with some guy's heart monitor or something..."

Afterwards, I thought “Huh. Hope I didn’t interfere with some guy’s heart monitor or something…”

  1. The pain actually isn’t the worst part…

The most difficult hurdle of this whole situation has been my feeling of helplessness and immobility. The healing process mandates that I keep my leg as straight as possible at all times…even during sleep. You know how difficult that is? Do you realize how many times a night you instinctively pull your knees up, fetal-style? I also have the tendency to cross my legs under one another, like a figure-four. Every time I’d start to move too much, I’d wake myself up in alarm. It makes for restless nights. And maybe it’s the stress or it’s the antibiotics, but I’ve had some interesting dreams. Stress dreams about my knee exploding or blood soaking through the sheets, enough so that I wake up and have to feel the wrapping to make sure all is well. The doctor also told me to keep weight off the knee, and recommended a cane. “Not only does it help keep the weight off, it forces you to keep your leg straight.” Great. But fucking cumbersome. Have you ever tried to get a laptop bag, cane, and cup of coffee out of your car while keeping your leg as straight as possible? It’s like a hilarious one-man game of Twister. And stairs? Fuck stairs, man. But then there’s the whole ‘propping my leg on a chair at work.’ My job primarily involves sitting at a desk, looking at a monitor. No problem. But when you have to torque your upper body almost 90 degrees to accommodate your gimp leg, it gets old really fast. And showering? Good luck. You’re told to keep your dressings dry. Holding a leg out of the shower doesn’t help that much, as water tends to run all the way down your body no matter whether it hits your head or your torso, following gravity and the surface tension of your skin; water doesn’t give a shit if there’s some gauze and tape in the way, it just wants to flow down. I’ve taken to encasing the knee in Saran Wrap, holding it out (basically standing on one leg) and hoping for the best. And your muscles do strange things. Because I am working so hard to keep my right leg straight while walking and sitting, it’s like I’m constantly flexing it. (Try this: stick your leg out in front of you, keeping it as straight as possible. Good. Now, hold it like that all day.) The downside is that when you do get a chance to relax, you sometimes have cramps. Like, bad ones in the arch of your foot. Or maybe just twitchy spasms in your thigh. And the other (left, in my case) leg sometimes feels like it’s carrying around most of your (in my case) 197 pounds all by itself. So when you ask it to go up the stairs once more, it sometimes says “No. No more. Let’s stay right here.” Hard to argue, Mr. Leg. I didn’t really need to go to the bathroom anyway.

Got my Netflix...got my Depends on...I'm good to go!

Got my Netflix…got my Depends on…I’m good to go!

  1. …but there is quite a bit of pain, too

Ain’t gonna lie. There were some really excruciating moments in this little adventure. The initial procedure a few weeks ago was no fun; yes, I received a shot to numb the knee to begin with. But even that part sucks. They stick a needle waaaaaay deep into the place where he’s gonna do the cuttin’. And then he adjusts locations and sticks you again. Doesn’t take long, but damn, it’ll take your breath away that first time he jabs you. And here’s a fun little tidbit about me: I apparently have a very high tolerance for painkillers, especially lidocaine and novocaine. This means that after the doctor numbed me and started cutting, he had to administer more shots. Every time he’d go to expand the incision, starting at about an inch and then going wider to get at more of the pulp, I’d feel it. He’d stop and dose me again. Tedious. But the really bad part came when, after my first infection-solving gauze-pack, I went in to have the gauze replaced. Watching him pull a foot of bloody bandage out of my knee like a flesh-and-blood tape dispenser was surreal, but more uncomfortable than painful. Replacing the gauze with new, fresh stuff, however…ouch. He started shoving some in and saw me flinch. “Want me to numb it?” he asked. “Nah, just do it. Go.” So we’re clear: this means that I was able to feel everything as he grabbed my skin with a pair of pincers and then slowly, inch by inch, fed a strip of medicine-infused cloth through the red maw below my kneecap and into the cavity within.

You’re gritting your teeth right now, aren’t you? Yeah. That’s pretty much all you can do. Stare at the ceiling, grip the edges of the table tightly, and clench that jaw. But there’s good news. The pain afterwards is minimal. No ongoing sharp pains. And the times when I do feel a twinge or ache, I simply pop a couple of Advil. So no super-powered painkillers or narcotics. No danger of becoming Greg House.

Now it’s just a waiting game. Waiting for this thing to heal. Every time the doc or I change dressings, we remove a bit more of the stuffing. And day-by-day, the wound starts to close and heal. The antibiotics seem to have cleared up the infection. No more MRSA. (I’ll keep taking the pills, though, until the damn thing is fully healed.) Yet, I know that there’s still work to be done. My right leg is going to have to learn how to bend at the knee, slowly and gently stretching the new skin and scar tissue. Plus, there’s sure to be a bit of muscle atrophy (although my left leg should be able to do single-leg squats by now, as much work as it’s doing.) But after all is said and done, I should be right as rain by the end of the summer.

Just in time for hockey season.

When Bad Guys Were P*ssies.

Maybe it was 9/11, you know? Like, maybe the horror and shock of that day forced us to ‘grow up’ for better or worse. We got tougher, a bit more wary and jaded. I don’t know. Maybe it was something else; Western Culture catching up a tiny bit with our European brethren, psychologically speaking. Whatever the case, the fact remains that back in the 80’s and early-90’s, we were soft, pink, mewling little kittens. 2015 us could wipe the floor with 1988 us.  Fact.

Here’s what led me down this particular path of discovery.  Recently I was doing an image search for actor Lee Tergesen.  I’d considered putting together another “That One Guy” blog, with a slight difference in focus:  I’d concentrate on one particular actor. Perhaps make a series of such posts, one for each iconic character actor. Lee is one of those guys who’s been in a lot of films and TV shows, usually sort of disappearing into his role, which is what makes him such a great actor.  The same guy who played Tobias Beecher on HBO’s prison drama ‘Oz’ also played one of Wayne and Garth’s metalhead buddies, thrashing along to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before appearing as Evan ‘Scribe’ Wright in ‘Generation: Kill’ and so on and so forth.  Anyway, one of his earliest roles was that of Rosie in ‘Point Break.’

Rosie was the archetypical scary biker tough guy.  Bodhi’s muscle, in a very real sense. (Note to self: consider a blog entry that examines how Bodhi, Utah, and Rosie were all manifestations of the Super-Ego, Ego, and Id.) Rosie was frightening, and supposedly capable of gutting someone with nary a concern other than trying to avoid getting any ‘on his shoes.’  I remember seeing the film when I was not quite twenty years old and thinking he was fairly intimidating. Rosie wasn’t a surfer, he was ostensibly some sort of biker.  An outsider, even among the outsiders. He was a savage, and hey, remember that scene at the bonfire?  Remember?  The others are out surfing at night, but Rosie is back on the beach, drinking, and spitting booze onto the fire, making it flare up.  Remember?  I wonder what sort of wickedly potent, liver-pounding rot-gut booze he was slugging?

Wait…seriously?  He’s drinking…

KICK THAT FIRE, ROSIE!  YEAH!  KICK IT!  KICK IT AGAIN!

KICK THAT FIRE, ROSIE! YEAH! KICK IT! KICK IT AGAIN!

CORONA?!  Are you fucking kidding me? A beer?! I mean, don’t get me wrong: beer is great. And Corona is easily one of the top-fifty beers from Mexico. But, c’mon. Rosie is a terrifying monster in bike leathers. He should be drinking moonshine or whiskey…maybe 151…ANYTHING approaching 100 proof. Beer? BEER THAT ONLY TASTES GOOD WITH A STINKIN’ LIME IN IT?! Might as well have been a Zima. (Actually, Zima was a malt liquor beverage with a higher alcohol content than most beers, so it would have been MORE manly.)  A kid that had never actually (up to that point) been to an illegal beach bonfire or nearly incinerated a friend while spitting and igniting grain alcohol and other things that maybe I should stop talking about right now might have been impressed with Rosie.  Shit, I was.  Now I realize he’d get his ass kicked in any place outside of Malibu.  Perhaps his ending was the most realistic part of the film.  It happens off-screen, but Utah tells Bodhi that Rosie apparently got knifed to death in Mexico.  What if that was Rosie’s first trip outside of his home county?  He thinks he’s a tough guy, orders a Corona ‘straight up’ and the Mexicans beat the living shit out of him with bottles of Pacifico and Modelo.

So, R.I.P Rosie and his tough-guy image. I sat there thinking about him, and my mind flashed on another badass that maybe wasn’t. Bennett.  The bad guy from ‘Commando.’ the actor’s name is Vernon Wells, and yes, I could do an entire ‘That One Guy’ on him.  The dude’s appeared in everything from ‘The Power Rangers’ to ‘Innerspace’ and has no fewer than twenty-one projects due to be released this year alone. But the role you will probably remember him from was from the iconic Mad Max sequel, ‘The Road Warrior.’  He played a character named Wez and holy shitballs, was he scary.

Even the Kurgan would turn tail and run from all that crazy.

Even the Kurgan would turn tail and run from all that crazy.

Wells would go on to almost exactly replicate that performance as a party-crashing biker/euphemism in ‘Weird Science.’  Again, an impressively crazy, wild-eyed psychopath on a motorcycle.  Jesus, I almost crapped my pants just thinking about him.

When the guy from 'The Hills Have Eyes' is your sidekick, you are officially a bad-ass.

When the guy from ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ is your sidekick, you are officially a bad-ass.

So when you learn that Vernon Wells is playing the nemesis in an Arnold Schwarzenegger action-adventure flick, you think “AW, YISSS!!  MOTHER FUCKING BAD-ASSERY!” and then you get to the theater and see…

Hey, nice tactical sweater-vest!

Hey, nice tactical sweater-vest!

Freddie Mercury?!  What the actual fuck, man?  What happened?  Is that vest made of old pop-tops or just nasty grey yarn that his grandma didn’t want, because seriously, who wants an olive-grey tea cozy?  Nobody, that’s who. Good call, grandma. While I’m talking about relatives, Bennett looks more like your weird uncle Gary that collects Thomas the Tank Engine stuff even though he doesn’t have any kids.  Maybe that’s more unsettling.  Could the makers of Commando been deliberately trying to give off that pedophile subtext?  After all, the main point of the ‘plot’ is that Arnold’s daughter has been kidnapped…were the studio types making a statement?  A subtle, veiled threat to the virtue and physical well-being of the girl in order to make moviegoers even more uneasy?

"Hey, kids...wanna see my Percy?"

“Hey, kids…wanna see my Percy?”

Or had Wells simply let himself go between roles?  Like, the casting director didn’t request an up-to-date headshot, and when Wells rolled up to his trailer on the first day of shooting, the director was all “Well…huh.  Fuck it, we’re on a schedule people.  Keep the mustache.  We’re rolling in five.”  Occam’s Razor makes that seem like the more likely scenario.  Either way, though, you’re never truly convinced that this doughy, sweater-vested, Bob’s Burgers cosplay guy is going to be able to physically match up with Arnold’s character.  They may as well have cast Kevin Spacey as the bad guy, although holy shit: Kevin Spacey in a mustache would be a GREAT Bob’s Burgers cosplay.

A really smug Bob 'Keyser' Belcher.

A really smug Bob ‘Keyser’ Belcher.

The point is, we were seemingly much more easily intimidated back in the day.  I won’t even get into how the Friday the 13th movies look so dated compared to modern horror films and television.  Seriously, the Jason Vorhees flicks remind me of old 50’s Martian invasion movies.  But initially, they were terrifying enough to spawn a generation’s worth of sequels.  I guess that’s sort of comforting.  The things that scare us often turn out to be not so bad after all.  Laughable, even.  (Gene Simmons used to terrify people.  Let that sink in for a second.) There’s a lesson there somewhere.  Sleep tight, America.

Saying Goodbye With a Crappy Movie

You can’t go home again. It’s a tired expression, but damn it if Netflix doesn’t bring it into relevance with alarming regularity. Case in point:

Something sad but hopeful happened a few weeks back. The world lost the great Leonard Nimoy. He was many things, a poet, director, artist, singer (well, okay) but his most enduring legacy will be the character he developed and perfected, the incredible Mr. Spock. (Spock lives, forever and ever.)

Although perhaps he COULD make up his Vulcan mind...

Although perhaps he COULD make up his Vulcan mind…

So there I was, sad that he was gone, but overjoyed for the human race that the man existed at all, and boy had he lived a great life. Nimoy exemplified The American Dream: the son of Jewish immigrants rises to Hollywood immortality. But I was still selfishly sad. I needed closure. To say my goodbye, it would have been easy to just pull up Wrath of Khan, for obvious reasons. Instead, I decided to go back and feel, as Carol Marcus would say “Young, as when the world was new.” I ran to Netflix and watched a flick I hadn’t seen in its entirety for well over twenty years. The original 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I remembered it being one of my least favorite episodes of the series, and I also remembered having a bit of buyer’s remorse after seeing the film in the cinema with my mom and brother. We’d had the option of seeing Disney’s The Black Hole and opted for Trek instead. Keep in mind that we kids had already been blown away by Star Wars two summers previous, so it was going to take an awful lot to impress us. I think my brother might have dozed off during STTMP. Maybe it was me. I’m sure someone was snoring. Fast-forward to many years later and Star Trek the Motion Picture’s appearance on one of the cable movie channels. I watched it with a more discerning eye, a little more seasoned. I remember thinking that it wasn’t terrible, but still not great. Plus, I really appreciated the late Persis Khambatta. Mmmm-hmmmm!

"Stand back, Jim. I'm not sure how big this thing gets."

“Stand back, Jim. I’m not sure how big this thing gets.”

So that brings us to now. I hadn’t seen the film all the way through since that cable experience in my early-20’s. I sat through the entire thing on my couch, and…wow, is it bad. I mean, really bad. I’ve heard (but not yet researched) that the original plan was to make a revamped Star Trek television series, but after Star Wars made such mad dough, suddenly every studio wanted a big space epic. As a result, what should’ve been maybe a one-hour TV pilot became over two-hours of…well…mainly the bridge of the Enterprise.

You could literally re-enact 97% of the movie with this one playset.

You could literally re-enact 97% of the movie with this one playset.

Seriously, there’s a long (TOO long) exterior shot as Scotty and Kirk fly out to the newly-overhauled and refitted NCC-1701 and it’s nice, for about forty-five seconds.  Then it’s “Oooo, there’s the old gal! She looks so silvery! And look! They’ve added 1957 Bel Air wings to ‘er!” Afterwards, it’s mainly the bridge and a few corridor shots. And for some reason (perhaps to distance it from the primer-colored uniforms of the original series) they opted for a de-saturated color palette. Everything is grey or shades of flesh-colored fabric. It’s really quite bad. The only saving grace is the incredibly sharp grey-and-white dress uniform that Admiral Kirk wears in his early scenes.

All the poon.  James T. Kirk got ALL the poon.  In the galaxy.  All of it.  There ain't none left.

All the poon. James T. Kirk got ALL the poon. In the galaxy. All of it. There ain’t none left.

Those uni’s were sharp enough to get re-cast in the J.J. Abrams reboots. Classy duds. Especially compared to Kirk’s weird, too-snug, short-sleeved white tunic that looks like it belongs on Mr. Clean or a tropical cabana boy. Bizarre.

"My God, Jim!  He just used the same photo twice in the same blog!"

“My God, Jim! He just used the same photo twice in the same blog!”

But the stuff that really looks cheap are the matte paintings. Gods be good, but I’d swear most of them looked like they’d been borrowed from Forbidden Planet. Don’t get me wrong: Forbidden Planet is one of the all-time great science-fiction films and one of my personal favorites…but Jesus, man. We’d just seen Tatooine and the Death Star. You can’t come at us with eight-color acrylic industrial landscapes and expect us to take you seriously.

Seriously, is this like a Colorforms playset?

Seriously, is this like a Colorforms playset?

But for all the lackluster elements to the damned flick, it did boast a huge check mark in the plus column: that wonderful score, repurposed years later for Star Trek: The Next Generation. A word about that Jerry Goldsmith composition. It really is at its best when they use the largo version, slowed a bit, a more rolling pace. It’s actually a movement entitled “The Enterprise.” It sounds nautical. Grand. Somewhat melancholy. Lovely. (It gets really familiar around 1:37)

Even though TRUE Star Trek fans know that THIS is what we think of when we think of Star Trek movies…James Horner’s brilliant and enduring Wrath of Khan stuff.

Then again, Michael Giacchino’s “Enterprising Young Men” has been also been a smashing success…

(Not to self:  do an entire blog about sci-fi musical scores.)

I guess in closing I’d say that it’s sort of a miracle, to me, that the studio even decided to go ahead with a sequel. It really was a make-or break proposition. When you think about it, STTMP was one of the earliest examples of a Hollywood reboot. New ship, new uniforms, new Klingons, new score. Consider that the production budget was (according to Box Office Mojo) around $35 million dollars. Joss Whedon’s Serenity had a budget of $39 million, and Star Trek Into Darkness cost $185 million…but adjusted for inflation, that first Trek would’ve had a budget of over $112 million dollars. Sort of right in the middle of the big sci-fi epic production costs. So when it earned just shy of twelve million dollars (less than half the cost to produce) on opening weekend, well…I imagine that some folks at Paramount likely shit their collective pants. The good news is that the film went on to earn $85 million, so the studio ended up doubling their money and then some. Thus was a franchise born. And now, here we are 36 years later, in the midst of another cinematic reboot. New cast, new ship, new Klingons.

A new Spock.

You really can’t go home again…but that’s fine. Because its so much fun to wonder what’s out there…thattaway…

The Unified Space Epic Theory

What if, true believers, what if?  What if instead of the lackluster Alien sequels that we were saddled with (beginning with Alien3) we got a more Starship Troopers-style invasion pic? Just imagine a full-on war, here on Earth: Colonial Marines in grand, pitched, shoot-em-up battles with hordes of xenomophs. It would’ve been quite a spectacle, and would’ve looked sickeningly gorgeous in CG. Those big piles of zombies in World War Z? Imagine thousands of leaping, skittering aliens; tails thrashing, secondary mandibles biting, and now and then one gets blown to bits and soldiers get showered with acid. The utter chaos of it all, the thrill, the terror, the underlying message about the futility of war…it could’ve been great. Would humanity survive? Or would the alien menace simply overwhelm the stalwart armies of mankind? A pity that we’ll never get to see how such a dramatic and potentially tragic conclusion would’ve played out.

 

Unless we already have.

 

What if the post-alien fate of humanity has already been told via two different sci-fi television series and a classic film? I will now present to you a tale which I believe to be a completely plausible multi-level saga. Follow along. Be patient, because this shit gets good. Good and deep, just like shit gets sometimes. Yeah. Okay. I didn’t need to actually type that. Okay. Good. Moving on.

 

Our story begins on Earth. Either Ellen Ripley or another one of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation drones manages to deliver a few viable xenomorphs to our fair planet. And as they do, the damned things get loose. They run amok and cause a great deal of trouble for the humans that are still here on this rock.

Like, SERIOUS trouble.

Like, SERIOUS trouble.

 

Still here?” Did you read that correctly? Yes. Yes, you did. This brings us to our first Easter egg. You may have heard the fan theory about how the Weyland-Yutani corporation (the Alien franchise) exists in the same world as the Tyrell Corporation (Blade Runner.) Most of it is simply fanboy conjecture, but then Ridley Scott chimes in and basically confirms in an interview that the heads of those two mega-companies did indeed know one another. Interesting.

 

Okay, sorry. Focus. In Blade Runner, most people with the means to do so have gone “off world.” Those that remain on our spent husk of a planet deal with smog, pollution, constant drizzle and greyscale everything. Now, notice we never see much of Earth in any of the Alien movies? Ripley lives in what might be tenement housing, or even a block of company-made dormitories. Maybe the world outside is the same bleak cityscape whose streets guys like Deckard patrol. Of course, we humans aren’t the only sentient beings that inhabit future-Earth. There are the skin-jobs. Replicants made by the Tyrell Corporation, and equally-lifelike synthetics produced by Weyland-Yutani.

 

Still with me? Okay.

 

So, the aliens go nuts and are on the verge of wiping out what’s left of humanity, or at least the shreds still clinging to our turd of a planet. So the rest of the humans take off. Get out of Dodge. Split. And who do they leave behind?

 

The robots. Replicants. Artificial persons.

I don't...oh, jesus.  Did I miss the last shuttle off-world?  Fuck.

I don’t…oh, jesus. Did I miss the last shuttle off-world? Fuck.

 

Those thinking machines of various mechanical and genetically engineered construction stave off the aliens until the rest of us can get off-world. Just maybe everyone is getting off-world because of the alien invasion. Whatever the case, the plan is to let the aliens run out of human hosts and die, so that mankind can return and resume our civilization. (Think WALL-E only much darker.) Only it doesn’t work out that way. The bio-mechanical xenomorphs, as we’ve seen in the sequels, can adapt to whatever host organisms are present in any given environment. Perhaps even bio-engineered skin-jobs. Eventually, the aliens are just too numerous. The replicants are faced with one final option: take off and nuke the site from orbit. And by “site” I mean THE WHOLE DAMNED PLANET.

 

I’d imagine it would come down to some sort of group decision, maybe a cadre of inner-circle synthetics who finally made the call. And what if one of them was modeled after the son of corporation founder and head genius Eldon Tyrell? Maybe he has a similar name. And maybe over the centuries that followed mankind’s exodus, the spelling of the last name changed (much like Shawn, Sean, or Shaun. Emory and Emery. The various Mac and Mc spellings of Scots and Irish surnames.)

 

Yes, Eldon Tyrell’s legacy is Galen Tyrol. One of The Five. The Five sentient mechanical beings who at one point were more human than human, even capable of sexual reproduction. The Five that nuked our planet in order to finally destroy the alien menace.

But you've gotta admit: kick-ass shirt, you gods-damned toaster!

But you’ve gotta admit: kick-ass shirt, you gods-damned toaster!

 

And what of humanity? Of course, most ended up living on Kobol or Caprica. But another group, the REAL “lost tribe” found their way to another system (or systems.) There, as on Earth, the monolithic corporations seized power. There, like on Earth, the rich were able to live life flush with the latest technology. Others, not so much.

 

In fact, some folks keep using the old tech of Earth That Was. For example, this anti-aircraft gun…made by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

See that logo?  Top center? Keep in mind, this is Mal Reynolds' gun from the battle of Serenity Valley.

See that logo? Top center? Keep in mind, this is Mal Reynolds’ gun from the battle of Serenity Valley.

 

All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.

 

ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE:

 

There’s a very Asian feel to Deckard’s Blade Runner city. Much like the preponderance of Chinese influence in the world of Firefly. And when Anders becomes the “hybrid” in BSG, the walls show cascading symbols that seem to be either Chinese or Japanese in nature. And maybe Kara Thrace isn’t painting the Eye of Jupiter in this piece…

Sidebar: she is NEVER getting her deposit back.

Sidebar: she is NEVER getting her deposit back.

…but rather this…

 

 

That's Chinese for FRAKKIN' TOASTERS!!

That’s Chinese for FRAKKIN’ TOASTERS!!

 

 

Kara Thrace.  No power in the ‘Verse can stop her. And finally…FINALLY…while there are several toy spaceships that make an appearance during a shadow-puppet theater show in the Firefly episode “Heart of Gold” (like, is that the Enterprise at the top?) the circled ship could be a Colonial Viper, yes?

Also pictured: at least one of your mom's dildos.  ZING!

Also pictured: at least one of your mom’s dildos. ZING!

 

 

Okay, maybe a stretch. However, in the original Battlestar Galactica re-imagined mini-series, the following ship does a fly-by outside the doctor’s window there in Caprica City. Huh. Wouldja look at that?

 

 

Or, again...one of your mom's dildos.

Or, again…one of your mom’s dildos.

 

IN CONCLUSION:

 

There will be folks that pick this apart and do some sort of timeline reckoning and poke numerous holes in my theory. Fine. It’s just silly fan stuff, and that’s one of the wonderful things about the sci-fi community; the endless debates and comparisons. Bottom line: it’s all good. Literally. There are some wonderful stories and grand mythology out there. Dig in and enjoy ‘em all. And expand upon them! This sort of conversation could go on forever! Was the Predator that came to earth in the near-future Los Angeles here to hunt Aliens? Were they already present? Perhaps they actually began life here on Earth! Bio-engineered by Weyland-Yutani and shipped off-world to incubate on another planet, another system, far enough away to pose no danger to mankind.

Pictured: deleted scene from Alien VS Predator

Pictured: deleted scene from Alien VS Predator

Was the rainy, grey nature of our planet in Blade Runner the result of some last-ditch effort to terraform our own homeworld after it was ruined by pollution and greenhouse emissions? Is that why it looks so much like Acheron/LV426? Constant drizzle and gloom? In an alternate timeline, did a synthetic (sorry, artificial person) begin Star Fleet, because Commander Data? Is Earth an offshoot (lost colony) from some race in Star Wars? And did THESE GUYS…

Very good.  Now turn to your right.

Very good. Now turn to your right.

Inspire THIS GUY?!?!

HOORAY, TOASTERS!

HOORAY, TOASTERS!

This has all happened before, this will all happen again. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

 

 

My head hurts. G’night, all.