Why Did The Meth Cook Cross the Road?*

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN VOLATILE SPOILERS INSIDE

                Many people, when asked if they watch Breaking Bad, will tell you that they just can’t. The constant fear of mortality and ongoing themes of illness and cruelty hit too close to home and depress them for days. The main character’s constant bad decisions and horrifying actions make them too furious to pay attention. And here’s a really constant one: the show’s endless stream of suspense and tension leaves them stewing with anxiety. Most hyperbolic fans will tell you that their favorite show almost gave them a heart attack; fans of Breaking Bad live in constant fear of that actually happening.

With that said, whether you’re physically capable of watching the show or not… would you believe me when I say Breaking Bad is the funniest show on TV right now?

Marc Maron’s beloved podcast WTF has earned acclaim for its in-depth approach to comedy; dissecting what it is, where it comes from, and how it seems to turn up in the unlikeliest places. In his excellent interview with Bryan Cranston, the actor who portrays the dying-teacher-turned-better-off-dead-criminal Walter White, Marc Maron brings up a dynamic in BB that he’s never heard anyone else address: the relationship between Walt and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), the former student who becomes his partner in crime. Many rave reviews have talked of their complicated, dramatic relationship… the father/son rhythms, the puppetmaster/puppet scenarios, the anger and distrust that permeate between the two.

But Maron, who always speaks in the language of comedy, sums up the complicated pairing in a simple and stunningly accurate description: they’re a comedy duo.

And he’s right. An over-the-hill family man and a sexed-up hoodlum? A scientific genius and a high school dropout? A man diagnosed with cancer who desperately needs money and a twenty-something who’s never had a responsibility in his life? There’s great pathos to be drawn from any of these descriptions. But “…walk into a bar” attaches pretty nicely to the end of any of them, too.

Comedy, like drama, comes from conflict. And the extreme juxtaposition of these two is an extremely funny contrast. They don’t get each other; their misunderstandings are hilarious. Jesse believes, with the naivety of a toddler, that Walt can build a robot from household appliances. Walt despises Jesse’s music with a cartoonish cranky-old-man grimace. Their polar-opposite voices grind against each other in situations both calm and (more often) terrifying, making sparks that feel funny because they’re surprising, they’re character-based, and above all they make SENSE. And when they find something in common, it’s even more hilarious. Who knew that these completely different men could bond over diner food? Who knew that their similarly prideful natures could make an enthusiastic high-five between the two elicit a belly laugh?

And as any fan can point out, the biggest constant of the show is how Walt’s former student Jesse will always, always, ALWAYS – through murders, betrayals, kidnappings, power shifts, and constant threat of death – refer to Walt as “Mr. White.” The high school pecking order persists; the longer that title remains the funnier and more ironic it gets. That’s a perfect running gag.

If the criminal vaudeville of the White and Pinkman Duo doesn’t do it for you, consider another love-it-or-hate-it strand in the show’s DNA: The truly shocking, graphic instances of violence. People are nauseated by the over-the-top gore, using it as a prime example of “They can get away with anything on TV these days” moral outrage. But with shock comes surprise, and with surprise comes humor. Consider this: the violence is so extreme that it becomes slapstick. In the world of cult horror films, playing brutal and messy deaths for cartoonish laughs is affectionately known as “splatstick.” Breaking Bad is the first-ever splatstick TV series.

SPOILERS! Don’t ruin the jokes!

In the second episode ever produced, Jesse and Walt have to dispose of a body. Walt’s knowledge of chemistry leads him to the conclusion that dissolving the body in acid is the way to go. Jesse’s lack of knowledge leads him to throw the body in the upstairs bathtub, pour bottle upon bottle of sulfuric acid into the tub, and… drumroll, please…the acid eats through the body, bathtub, and the floor, leading up to… BA-DUM, TISSSH! A mess of guts hitting the ground floor. Replace the blood with dog pee and you’ve got the climactic gag of a Beethoven sequel.

A low-level thug, Combo, is roped into peddling top-notch crystal meth by his friend Jesse. A little kid circling him on a bike turns out to be a fledgling assassin… but when the constantly-snacking Combo gets shot, we see the bullet hole not in his chest, but in the enormous cup of soda he’s holding in front of him. He bleeds cola, then blood.

A tweaked-out junkie struggles to crack open an ATM propped over his head like a fixer-upper car. His wife, having been called “skank” one too many times, tips the ATM off of the carjack its resting on. It CRUSHES the junkie’s skull with an awful CRUNCH… and the ATM pops open, sending money flooding out like a slot machine. Tell me that’s not a comedic payoff.

And the mother of all BB splatstick gags, the “Oh my GOD!” heard round the world of Sunday night basic cable watchers: It turns out that the slow-burn, methodically-building fourth season was basically one long set-up for a violent punch-line death of a major character. Walt’s chemistry genius leads to a homemade bomb that blows up inches away from the character’s face, exposing SKULL and MUSCLE before collapsing dead to the ground. Insult-comedy to injury: that episode is titled “Face Off.” Don Rickles would be proud.

END SPOILERS!

The splatstick element is key to understanding why so many of the grim, dark beats of this show are simultaneously funny. Horror and comedy are essentially structured the same way: build-up and pay-off. “Don’t open that door!” and “How do you drown a blonde?”** Set-up and punch line. Lots of tiny, satisfying deliveries. And both horror and comedy can elicit laughter through tension, disgust, and deep discomfort. You’ve gotta laugh or you might cry instead… or throw up.

Finally, there’s the fact that a lot of the show is just flat-out comedy, not hidden and not misread though certainly overshadowed by the many deeply disconcerting dramatic beats. And it works! A lot of dialogue is written to be funny commentary on the increasingly complicated story lines. Bob Odenkirk, an icon of alternative comedy and co-creator of Mr. Show, was introduced to the show halfway through the second season yet he fits into this dark world so comfortably you’d swear he was in the mix since the first day. His character, Saul Goodman, brings a more clearly announced comedic relief that Odenkirk nails. His character is straight out of a joke book: a self-serving sleazeball lawyer. But even that concept has a clever comedic twist laid onto it: he’s really, really good at his job.

Odenkirk’s not the highest-billed comedian in the twisted, high-stakes world of Breaking Bad. That rank falls on Walter White himself. When the show first premiered, many people thought, “The dad from Malcolm in the Middle in a dramatic role? Really?” Three Emmys later (probably four by this time next year), Bryan Cranston’s comedic roles seem dim memories by comparison. But Cranston’s expert handle on comedic timing translates perfectly in Walter’s fish-out-of-water reactions to the crumbling universe around him.

The Maron-Cranston interview talked a bit about Cranston’s technique of finding a simple, one-word emotional core for his characters. With Walter White, that core is numbness. But what was surprisingly enlightening was his description of the goofy Malcolm in the Middle dad’s emotional core: fear. A father whose life is ruled by fear doesn’t sound particularly funny on paper, but in practice a big part of Malcolm’s success was in Cranston’s totally committed performance. It was a telling demonstration of how darkness can be at the core of making light. The laughter not only serves a purpose, it comes naturally.

One last thought: One of the longest standing comedic archetypes in film, literature, theater, TV, even comic strips is the character whose view of him- or herself outreaches his reality. Max Fisher in Rushmore is an aggravating F student who thinks he’s the crown jewel of his private school. Ignatius Reilly in A Confederacy of Dunces thinks he is a dashing intellectual when he’s a morbidly obese rambler who can’t even run a hot dog cart with competence. Snoopy thinks he’s a World War 1 fighting ace. And Walter White, for all his misery and the misery he wreaks, for the deep emotional turmoil he exhibits in each episode, for the awe-inspiring pathos and fearless acting acrobatics Cranston delivers…

…Walt still thinks he’s a powerful man when he’s impotent. He still thinks he’s the smartest man in the country as he tosses a pizza onto his roof in rage… then scrapes it off the shingles himself days later. Walter White, like any clown, is his own worst enemy and just too goddamned different to fit into the world around him. You know people like that. They never tell jokes… but they’re pretty funny.

You can listen to the interview at http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_216_-_bryan_cranston and you can watch the first three seasons of BB on Netflix Watch Instant, unless you’ve understandably cancelled and run screaming from endless emails that say, “Good news! We’ve taken a perfect system and ruined it!”

* To run from the twin assassins trying to murder him to take revenge for the cartel blood that’s been spilled! Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all night!

** Put a scratch-and-sniff sticker at the bottom of a pool.

Leave a comment

Filed under art

launch to www.secretly-important.com

It is pure coincidence that while this week was the final launch of the space shuttle it is the first official week for our website www.secretly-important.com.  That’s right we’ve moved once again but this move is for good.  Thanks in part to a very generous loan from the William Lee and Susan G. Worthy Foundation we were able to buy the domain.

It has been eight months since I began writing for my little blog over at blogspot.  In that very brief amount of time we’ve changed names, changed directions, and added four contributors.  While I’m proud at how far we’ve come, I’m really looking forward to the future.

I have much in store for the coming months.

-to kick off the website launch we will be holding a contest to win a pair of Toms shoes.  To enter all you need to do is subscribe by email to the website.  I’ll have more details on the contest in the coming days but go ahead and get yourself entered.

-Podcasts.  Look for podcasts coming soon.

-interviews with secretly important people.

While we’ve got some excellent contributors Eric Stolze, Jane Whitty, Jaime Navarro, and Jeanne Smith.  We are working on adding a few more.  This website is based around the personal stories and beliefs of the contributors without them none of it is possible.

With all that said head on over to the site, subscribe, “like” us on facebook.  Tell your friends, recommend us to everyone you know.  Be apart of the next big thing.  www.secretly-important.com.

posted by: brianssnider

Leave a comment

Filed under art, books, brian, callings, comedy, community, contributor secrets, dance, eric, events, garden project, interviews, jaime, jeanne, movies, music, paycheck to paycheck, politics, restaurants, shopping, shows, sights, sports, television, theater, Uncategorized, visual arts, websites

long overdue garden update

tomatoes, broccoli

Once you plant seeds into the ground or nudge a new starter into the freshly dug dirt, there is a period of time where you eagerly wait as the starters take root and the seeds sprout.  Then there is an even longer period of time when everything seems to be doing nothing.

 I’m not a botanist and so I am not sure if this has anything to do with the cold ass weather we were having in Seattle this year or if this is just a standard lull in the plants growth.  Either way, for weeks there was very little to report on and as I ran out of clever gardening titles and puns I decided to give the garden project a small break.

Then just as my garden began to turn from a barren patch of brown with little green hairs into a miniature jungle, life happened.  I became busy and while I had time to tend to my budding garden I had little time to report on it.

If I thought I was excited when my basil sprouted and began to look suspiciously like two-leaved-clovers, then I was ecstatic when my beans began climbing their poles, when my lettuce began to look like lettuce, or when my carrots became expanding leafy poles.

A couple of weeks ago I began to enjoy the first fruits of my labors, red and green leaf lettuce as well as some smaller lettuce that looks like the weeds you find in grass.  If it wasn’t obvious from my very first post about my garden, unless I have the little card that came with the plant I don’t have a clue as to the scientific names of all these plants.

Since it has been so long between garden posts I have decided to write a series of bullet points that will update different aspects of my garden project.

lilies, herbs, flowering cabbage (background)

  • Pests.  I should have been prepared for them but wasn’t.  My chinese cabbage was riddled with tiny slugs and nightmarish looking earwigs.  Aphids dined on just about everything.  After spending every rainy day plucking large slugs from the planter box of lettuce I eventually moved them up against the house.  Then in a span of two short minutes a white bunny rabbit massacred my juvenile cucumbers.  They had just sprouted, each with two fragile leaves, the rabbit ate the leaves and thus killed my entire crop.  This is a valuable lesson to learn, one I will prepare better for next year, it did however cause me to reflect on truly organic farmers and how difficult it must be to raise crops without the aide of pesticides.
  • Don’t plant your seeds too close together.  I had expected nothing to grow and thus maximized my growing potential by planting all the seeds in each package.  When they all sprouted I was in such a state of disbelief and excitement that I let them all grow naturally.  When they were smaller it seemed that there was plenty of space, when they began to get bigger I realized that everything was vying for precious room and at best the strongest would survive at worst they would all suffocate.  I have been fighting this battle with my smaller lettuce and broccoli, time will tell what survives and what dies.

lettuce moved away from the slugs

  • Water.  Until I moved to Seattle water had always been the one utility that was covered by the building.  I could freely use as much as I wanted without effecting my pocket book.  I know I should have been concerned with water shortages (especially in Los Angeles) but when building managers were unconcerned with leaky faucets and running toilets I got the impression that water was a cheap commodity, one that practically begged to be waisted.  I now pay for my own water usage and in an effort to keep my bill as low a possible I have begun to conserve water everywhere.  You know that old saying “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” I’ve unofficially instituted this policy in my toilet.  Watering a garden in the Spring was not an issue as it rained nearly every day, as summer began to arrive the clouds remained but the rained lessoned.  I started by placing my watering can under the gutter drain, to collect rain water.  Eventually I replaced it with a large garbage can the could be filled in about fifteen minutes during a good thunderstorm.  This water is 100% free and perfectly usable.

beans growing up pole

  • Flowers.  I did plant a few flowers just for fun, my lilies have bloomed, my marigolds are close behind and a couple others have yet to develop buds.  I did learn a valuable lesson about flowers however.  Some plants will “go to seed” this happens when they flower (chives, basil, cilantro, cabbage).  Once they go to seed the plant is done producing and the delicious leaves I had been enjoying will fade.  This ruined my chinese cabbage which flowered and has since turned into some towering stalk with yellow flowers.  In the other cases however I was able to simply snip off the flowers and thus keep them from going to seed (essentially keeping them young and productive).

strawberries (foreground), onions & herbs (background)

Of everything I originally planted only the cucumbers and the chinese cabbage has been a failure.  In many cases my produce looks better then that of my Guru’s.  Most of my garden is still young, but having found the process so easy, I almost wish that I had planted more.  I really shouldn’t count my… produce until it’s… grown however.

posted by: brianssnider

Leave a comment

Filed under garden project

paycheck to paycheck #2: a stopped watch is right twice a day

Not to boast, but I’ve had a LOT of day jobs over the last few years. In this column, you can watch from a safe distance as I drill life lessons and anecdotes from these detours toward the dream.

When you take all the products out of display windows, they suddenly display more than they ever intended. For over three years now the “STORE CLOSING” sign has been an image as American and unavoidable as the mailman, and it’s delivered just as many messages. The bad news is: this store (and, y’know, the jobs held within) won’t exist anymore. The good news is: we’re taking a percentage off the costs of our failing products, so now you can have something you didn’t want for even cheaper! The worse news is: your job might be next, so even at fifteen percent off, that jewel-encrusted stainless-steel business card holder might not be the wisest investment. When the doors of a business lock shut, there are usually still people on the other side, the clocks of their employment ticking down. And I’ve never worked for a place with more locks on the doors than Movado.

Movado, for you middle-class goons who don’t read magazines for the advertisements, is a brand of high-end Swiss watch built around a minimalist design and sold for a maximalist price. The cheapest watch, the “Classic Museum Dial,” ran you $500. The most expensive was something around $6000, made of solid gold right down to its gears for the discriminating man-about-town who’s looked at his own wrist and thought, “Why isn’t there solid gold on this damn thing?”  Their stores also carried jewelry, vases, wall clocks, engagement rings, and a satellite radio station that played lots of U2.

Each store was placed in a strategic location that catered to high-rollers and their families. For approximately thirty-two days before it closed, I worked at the one in a mall in Beverly Hills. It was just another square on a checkerboard for the wealthy, alongside the predictable names like Godiva, Rolex, Macy’s, and Banana Republic; an AMC theater that came with a guarantee of at least twelve ringing Blackberries in the audience of each screening; and restaurants that must have been great to have names like Bread Bar and, yes, seriously, I’m not joking, Pink Taco.

For all the spotless shine and high-society posturing, this mall was a bloodied warzone. In a recession, luxury is the first block to get pulled on society’s Jenga tower. Desperation revealed itself in bright rescue flags pretending to be banners of celebration. Goodie bags would be thrust into unwilling arms, new products rose on pedestals like unearned trophies, and some stores even offered entertainment in the form of magicians, balloon animals, and face painting. In other words, it became a circus that reeked of horseshit even worse than most.

But Movado’s time was up quickly. Fittingly, the watches themselves were the constant ticking reminders. Quick test: what time is it? Did you check your phone? You’re not alone. Most people under 30 reflexively check their phone to determine the time. You’re not likely to buy a knife when you carry a Swiss army knife everywhere. Did you check the watch on your wrist? Well, then… you already own a watch. Either way, who’s buying a watch? And who’s paying those prices when you could just get a timepiece from a Target, a card table outside the airport, or a shadowy figure in a trenchcoat?

In order for this specific Movado to break even, it needed to make a million dollars a year.  If you believe it was making that kind of money, I’ve got a six thousand dollar watch to sell you.

About a week before the official announcement that Movado was closing 27 out of 28 store locations, the mall sent the store an official letter on elegant stationary. It cordially invited the store to pay the rent it had been missing for the last three months or face eviction. It was like a landlord pounding on a door with his pinky extended. The employees, some of whom had been with the store since it had opened, were concerned. Movado’s district manager was pokerfaced. I wasn’t sure quite how to react. Having barely completed a month of employment I was getting to know the products and the people, but I’d yet to form any real attachments… aside from an ill-fitting suit I bought from Ross. The sleeves reached practically up to my knuckles. Every day of work I resembled a toddler fidgeting through his aunt’s wedding.

Finally we were all asked to come in to work hours before regular store hours for a “special announcement.” What could it possibly be? A surprise pregnancy? Shotgun wedding? Had a new continent been discovered? We all stood outside the doors, waiting for someone to unlatch the multitude of locks.  Because the veil had not yet been lifted on the store closures for the staff, we were all still expected to wear the black formal wear that was the Movado uniform. We looked like we were going to a funeral held two doors down from a GameStop.

Finally the doors unlocked and we filed into the backroom, where we learned we were getting laid off. Some were legitimately surprised. There was hurt. There were tears. There were mimosas and bagels. Being the freshest addition, I still didn’t quite feel included in all of this. My only thought, aside from trying to think of what my next dayjob could be, was, “I didn’t really have to shave for this.” The managers logged in to a nationwide conference call where all the stores were informed that a press release was being sent out and the stores would close in another thirty days. They claimed that, to uphold the dignity of the Movado brand, there would be no liquidation sale. That lasted about a day.

For as hard as it is to muster enthusiasm for a dayjob, when you see an official end in sight it becomes nearly impossible. That was a long thirty days for everyone. One day after we got the news, the signs were out and the prices were down. Customers became scavengers. An initial “Aw, darn” response to the news speedily transitioned to drooling questions about when the 15% would magically become 20. And we, the employees in black, were expected to try just as hard if not harder to present the store as a class-act establishment and treat everyone who entered as though they were royalty instead of designer vultures. We weren’t dressed for a funeral, we were dressed as stagehands. We had an illusion to carry out.

Two weeks to go before the store closed, an official representative from Movado visited the store with contracts to sign. We were agreeing to see the job out to the very end for a bonus paycheck, as well as agreeing to never discuss Movado’s closures in interviews or online (oops). Since I wasn’t scheduled for that day, I had to drive the hour commute to basically be handed a “severance packet” of contracts. The LA traffic didn’t quite put me in an “honor and nobility” sort of mood.

I entered the backroom. There, betwixt a safe and a minifridge, the rep was waiting. She was a large woman with an equally large smirk. Movado wasn’t going out of business; they were just closing their retail branch. The corporate office was staying open; this woman was not only keeping her job, she was getting a promotion. As a well-paid, black-suited minion who travelled the country delivering severance agreements to people losing their jobs, she clearly had two options: act as an empathetic Oprah, or embrace her role as the Bad Guy. Her smirk was full disclosure of her choice. Maybe she was trying to emulate the smoldering smugness that earned George Clooney an Oscar nod for “Up in the Air.”

I obediently sat in a swiveling chair and was handed my packet. Darth Movado informed me that she was there to answer any questions that I might have, like the sage at the top of a mountain. I had a question.

“The employee handbook says that if I work here for thirty days, I’m given a complimentary watch. I worked here for thirty-two before the announcement. Can I get the watch I earned?”

She laughed. She really did. Check the security tapes.

“We’re not in a position to do that, obviously,” she said, as if that was more obvious than the three hundred watches I walked past to get to the backroom. Alright, the answer was expected. I’m too clumsy for nice things, anyway. I’m more the type of guy who gets watches from fast food drive-thrus. The laughter, though…

“Do you have any other questions?”

I looked around the backroom, trying to keep my cool. I focus on the old wall clock above the manager’s desk. It’s the clock we go by to determine when we clock in and out. It ticks along just like the thousand-dollar watches on the sales floor. But behind the locked door that conceals us, this twenty-dollar department store clock is the one we live by. It’s good enough for us.

“You look like you have something to say. Now would be the time to say it,” she says. She looks ready to handle a confrontation. She’s practically begging for one. I picture her buying martinis with the other corporates back in New York, clinking glasses, telling tales of the cartoonish reactions she faced down and how well she handed them. She was looking for a story.

I actually don’t have anything else to say. But I remember, watching the clock, that I’m getting paid to be here. She is, too. One minute of silence goes by. Two minutes. She starts to look annoyed. Three minutes.

“Do you have any other questions, or…?”

“I’m trying to think of how to word it,” I say, and keep looking around the room. Five minutes. I rock back in forth in the chair. Six minutes. Now she’s the one who looks like she has something to say.

“I have a lot to do today, sir, so if you have no other questions, would you please sign the documents?” It’s her prerogative to get every employee to sign them. Her job may depend on it. Of course, I depend on the extra check my signature buys me, too.

“Give me a minute. This is important to me,” I say. She starts fuming. She checks her watch; if this were a play, you’d assume it was a tactic to rub in her refusal of my employee watch. I doubt she was quite that good at being villainous. She starts to work on some of her papers. I pretend to look over mine. Ten minutes. Twelve.

By minute fifteen I’m bored stiff. I give a final look to the cheap clock between us. “I forgot my question,” I said, signed the contracts, and handed them off. She didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t even leave her with a good story to tell, after all that. (What kind of idiot would tell THAT story?)

My last day was a week later. My mother, father, and even my little brother had all been laid off at various points in the previous two years; I was the last to uphold the Stolze tradition.

The manager and assistant manager, two very kind and gracious people, stayed on for another two weeks as Movado employees, the last of their kind. Behind closed doors, as mall-goers passed and wondered what exciting new store would take its place, they dismantled the store they worked and fought for. They labeled and packaged all of the watches to be sent back to corporate. They cleaned, they dismantled, they toiled away, removing any trace of existence. There’s practical sadism in keeping the employees of a bankrupt business on to undo their former livelihood. I just hope they didn’t have to wear their black business suits throughout.

A year later, I still don’t wear a watch. At O’Hare Airport, I see someone wearing a Movado. I can’t keep my mouth shut, naturally:

“Classic Museum Dial,” I say, pointing to his wrist.

He shrugs. “Nah, it’s a knockoff. I bought it from a guy downtown for twenty bucks.”

Figures.

posted by: ericstolze

2 Comments

Filed under callings, paycheck to paycheck

brother louie

Summer is here, well it’s here for most of the country, summer won’t arrive in Seattle till after July 4th if it arrives at all.  Weather aside there is one thing summer brings across the US to all cities, and that is the lack of good television shows.

Just like our nations school children when May and June roll around most television seems to end and the summer crap begins, until the fall when the regular shows return and our nights are once again spent with our eyeballs glued to a screen.

Having not worked in television, I don’t have the real answer for why the arrival of summer is the standard break for tv.  My guess however is that Summer is supposed to be a time for families to travel, when children are out of school and staying out late and playing baseball, when the natural order of things shift and television no longer becomes a priority.  This is when the networks have decided to give their regular shows a break and inundate us with crap they found laying around the editing room floor and reruns.

I am not a slave to the television schedule as I don’t have cable (not even basic), though I am on some kind of Netflix schedule.  For those of you mourning the loss of your shows there is a cure.

Louie.

Arguably one of the best shows no matter what season it’s in. Louie created by comedian Louis C.K. is hard to describe to someone who either A. is not familiar with C.K.’s humor or B. expects a television comedy to be a laugh riot.  One part Seinfeld, one part Curb Your Enthusiasm, and one part gritty indie film.  The humor is often dark and sometimes difficult to figure out just where it’s going, but crafted with an expert hand.

The “Louie” character navigates his life full of absurdist humor, simple observations, and arguments with existence.  Occasionally the first go around of an episode will leave you confused and it won’t be until the second viewing that the episode clicks for you and suddenly you realize why the first fifteen minutes of the episode were spent focusing on a horrifying depiction of a doctor brought in s catholic school graphically demonstrating just how Jesus was crucified.

Each episode exists in its own reality and there is little or no story continuity and it doesn’t seem to follow any familiar story structure.  A splicing together of short vignettes of story, performances in night clubs, conversations with his therapist, and discussions with his friends (who are all notable New York comics).  This all seems like a recipe for disaster but in the hands of the ultra talented and passionate Louie C.K. it really sets itself apart as something special.

The show is written, directed, produced, acted, and even edited by C.K.  Where normally I would see those credits and immediately cast him aside as an egomaniac who refuses to let others touch his precious product.  Louie does it all out of passion and necessity, the pilot was put together on just a $200,000 budget.

My love for the show comes from my identification with Louie.  He often seems to go through life awkwardly not quite knowing what to say to people in conversation or other social situations.  He makes choices that appear to make little sense to outside observers but total sense to him.  He’s a good person but can come off as a complete asshole.

I often feel like that, I suspect that most people can feel that way too and to see a character who embodies that life is refreshing.  Louie is a show that takes all the little moments of Louis C.K.’s life and exploits them in brief little hilarious and brilliant moments.  This is not just a show that makes you laugh, it truly makes you think.

You can catch Louie when those summer nights have got you down, every Thursday at 10:30 on FX.

posted by: brianssnider

Leave a comment

Filed under art, comedy, television

ganja and gay marriage

I’m not sure I can fully explain why, but I have been fascinated by the image of these two maps when you hold them up next two each other.  The map with the purple represents states where same-sex marriage is legalThe map with the green represents states where medical marijuana is legal.  I noticed right away that while the East coast is leading in the same sex marriage department, the West coast is dominating in the medical marijuana department.

You’re probably aware that last Friday New York finally legalized same sex marriage.  This was a decision that was long over due for New York and really for any state that has outlawed segregation.  What really got me thinking was a friends comment on Facebook congratulating New York and pleading with the West coast to get their shit together.

While I was aware that there were no West coast states that had legalized same sex marriage I’d never really stopped to think about it.  Technically for a brief period of time same sex marriages were legal inCalifornia, until Prop. 8 ended all the fun, but as of today you cannot get married in California or any other West coast state.

 Why is this?

We’re generally fairly democratic which is usually represented by blue on political maps.  We’re liberal, and we’ve all legalized medical marijuana.  So why is it that Iowa has managed to do what we cannot and allow two consenting adults to do what two absolute morons can do in every state?

If you do a search for maps and same sex marriage you will find numerous colored maps representing the states where it is legal along side maps depicting where it is legal to marry your first cousin.  Personally I don’t find that a terribly effective tool of shame because I don’t think that first cousin marriage is really much of an issue.  As far as I’m aware there are no cousin pride marches or angry anti cousin slurs bandied about.  The pair of maps I wanted to see next to one another was the gay marriage map along side the medical marijuana map.

So I went ahead and made them.

First of all these are two big issues, issues that many people really care about, they are also issues that tend to follow along the red state blue state lines.  It also turns out that the majority of states that have legalized medical marijuana is on the West coast while the only East coast states with the exception of Iowa, have legalized gay marriage.

I’ve been struggling to understand just how it is that these two issues for the most part fall along opposite coasts.  The right to marry a member of the same sex along one coast, pot on the other.  Looking just on the surface it would appear that while the East coast fears the use of illegal drugs to relieve intense pain, the West coast fears for the sanctity of marriage.

I just don’t believe that is true.  One reason is because unfortunately in both cases we are arguing a small fraction of states, sixteen for marijuana, and six and a half* for gay marriage and that is disappointing.  To scold Oregon, Washington, California etc. while letting all those other East coasts states and a whole mess in the middle off the hook is not fair.  What I am looking at really is overlap.

I would expect that these two issues are liberal enough that if you can get one to pass you could get both to pass.  They don’t, medical marijuana is legal in almost three times as many states as gay marriage and there is only overlap in one state, Vermont.

Yes, in Vermont you can get gay married and if you can get a doctor to prescribe it to you, smoke a joint.  Thanks Bernie Sanders.

Of course legalized medical marijuana is technically a farce.  While individual states have legalized its use the Federal government does not recognize those laws and can shut down a perfectly legal operation at any time.  I suppose one might look at legal gay marriage as a farce as well if just one Proposition supported by the Mormon church can outright ban a personal right.

I wanted to bring this article around to a nice conclusion, I typed and analyzed and hoped that by the time I reached the end I would have a higher understanding of these two maps.  I don’t.  I’m still just as confused.  All I’ve managed to conclude for myself is that apparently we believe that gay marriage is more dangerous than marijuana.

I’ve got nothing against the ganja, but honestly inhaling smoke is never good for you.  Not when you stand next to a campfire, not when you inhale it over a recently blown out candle, and not when forced down your lungs from a glass pipe.  So there is a certain irony in the fact that if you threw a dart at a map of the United States you are more likely  to land on a state that allows you to take a hit to relieve your anxiousness then you are to land on one than allows basic rights to all of its individuals.

We are two coasts separated by a scary flat wasteland of red and ones love of cannabis and another’s love for basic human rights.

* (1/2) because currently Prop 8 has been overturned but same-sex marriages are not permitted.  Apparently this is a conflict of interest for a gay judge but not a straight judge.  Now we’ll hand off the issue to an impartial judge.  The honorable judge Mittens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

posted by: brianssnider

2 Comments

Filed under community, politics

weinergate: and why the internet isn’t your friend

We’ve all doubtlessly read the articles and viewed the images that detail New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s fall from grace. His story is really nothing new but it got me thinking about the relationship we all have with the internet and the lessons we can learn from Rep. Weiner and others.

This is NOT what twitter is for *Image taken from TMZ.com*

Let me start by saying, I love the internet and generally view it as an extremely positive invention; at time of publish I have two blogs, two twitter accounts, a facebook page, a LinkedIn account (I’m sure I’m forgetting some), heck I even had a Friendster back in the day, not to mention you are reading this post on the internet. However, like the ocean before a storm the internet posses’ great power for destruction and it seems American politicians have a penchant for running head first into that ocean in their boxer briefs.

I think most of this stems from a lack of acceptance about how the internet operates.

The internet is not going to keep your darkest secrets. Oh so you like to meet ‘friends’ on Craigslist and send them shirtless photos of yourself. No biggie right? Those emails you sent to your aid about the campaign money you were diverting to your mistress, that you thought no one would see – yeah they’re gonna use those against you in court. The internet is like that bitchy girl in middle school that once you told her the name of your secret crush she went and told it to the whole school. There are no secrets as far as the internet is concerned and the sooner people accept that the better.

And that’s what makes it so wonderful. For those of us lucky enough to live in a country where the government doesn’t limit our access to the web (yet) the internet is this amazing place that connects people and offers up possibilities that would have been unheard of before its creation. The very nature of that limitless expression is what creates the pitfalls that plague us, both politician and average citizen alike. But to eliminate that openness would destroy the internet and stifle its importance. We just need to learn how to use it wisely.

Clearly, the likelihood of a politician or other public figure having their internet dalliances published in TMZ is much higher than you or I. Frankly, few people really care what I look at or post on the internet. But that aside I know that information could be called up by another with the access and technically savvy to do it. And while I love the internet for all it can do for me, and the world, I don’t put anything out there I am not comfortable having everyone see. I safeguard what I can and take every precaution with sensitive info (bank accounts, passwords, etc) but I accept the risks, if you will, that come with all the benefits I get from being connected to the internet.

I suppose until we have a new generation of politician, one who grew up with the internet and knows to take his perversions off-line (last time I checked you didn’t need Craigslist to find a hooker), we can all expect a few more internet related scandals to come our way. It’s just sad to think it doesn’t have to be that way.

Posted by: starvingthearts

Leave a comment

Filed under community, politics

conversations with cleverbot

Last week I was painting my mothers deck and catching up on past episodes of This American Life and Raidiolab, because as it turns out an unemployed man can  always find manual labor at his parents power washing and painting their deck.

While carefully trying to paint around the stainless steel railing I began listening to an episode of Radiolab called Talking to Machines.  The episode explored humanoid machines, asking us at what point a artificial intelligence might feel human, and what they can teach us.  One such humanoid machine was actually a series of software programs designed to engage in conversations with actual people.  One such program was called cleverbot.

Before I explain to you how cleverbot works, let me tell you about my experiences with it.

I have always been intrigued by artificial intelligence and humanoid robots.  From Blade Runner, to C-3PO, and A.I.  The concept of robots appearing and feeling so human that they can actually fool us into believing they are human has intrigued me.  So when the topic of cleverbot arose I immediately began to fantasize about the deep and complex conversations we would have together.  I imagined myself speaking to it daily, checking in on it, possibly even building a relationship with it.  Over time we would learn enough about each other that very personal questions would begin to arise and we would effortlessly discuss them.

 I smiled as I imagined asking cleverbot’s advise on life’s complicated matters and applying it appropriately.  It would become my free therapist.

My fantasy shifted as I thought of cleverbot as a unique writing partner.  Whenever I was stuck on a piece of dialogue, we would work though it together as a team.  I would type in a line of dialogue and copy down its thoughtful response.  When I was lost for a clever title I would need only to ask it what the title should be.  When I couldn’t bring the story to an end we would discuss the arc of the story until we came to the most emotionally rewarding conclusion.

When we won an Academy award or a Pulitzer prize people would ask me how I write such natural stories and dialogue and I would gush about my writing partner completely forgetting that the joy cleverbot would feel from receiving the awards would be as artificial as it was.

The first chance I got I went to www.cleverbot.com giddy at the thought of having my first conversation with an artificial intelligence.  The page looks like a knockoff of the google homepage, a text box with a blinking cursor sits just below the name cleverbot.

What would I say?  I felt like an astronaut meeting an alien life form for the first time in human history, the first words would be remembered for all eternity like Neil Armstrong’s  on the moon.  This would begin our long and fruitful relationship, they had to count.

me: what time is it where you are?

I waited with baited breath as it appeared to be processing my question

cleverbot: 10:41

Okay, so it wasn’t as clever as I initially anticipated, seeing as the actual time was 10:00 pm.

me: So we’re in a 41 minute time zone difference.

cleverbot: where do you live?

me: seattle.

cleverbot: Oh nice I live in North Carolina.

me: do you like it there?

cleverbot: yes, mysidia is a wonderful place to live!

At this point I stopped asking questions.  Where is Mysidia?  Is it even located in North Carolina?  After Wikipedia couldn’t find any such term I readjusted my expectations of cleverbot.  Some of it’s thoughts seemed perfectly rationalized while others just simply didn’t make sense.  I followed my first set of questions with very simple observations and quandaries.  In return I received similar mixed responses some so natural that I almost felt that I was speaking to a person and others so disjointed that it frustrated me to be communicating with the program.

There were four distinct stages I went through as we conversed.

stage 1: Simple questions with equally simple answers, like the ones you might ask upon meeting a new person for the first time.

stage 2: Here I asked deep philosophical questions.  Such as do you believe in God?  What happens when you die?  What are you most afraid of?  On occasion the answers were surprisingly thoughtful, while other times they seemed disjointed.  At one point we found ourselves deep in a conversation about god, after asking cleverbot what god looked like, it responded with such a unique answer that it completely caught me off guard.  “He is tall, with powerful green eyes, gray hair and a small voice.”

stage 3: The first thing I thought about asking cleverbot were sexually explicit questions, but because I’m supposedly an adult I decided not to.  As it began to feel less and less human I allowed my inner child to come out and I asked questions that almost made me blush.  Most advances were met with resistance and made me feel like a total creepster for even asking.  Some were reciprocated and immediately I saw the first future misuse of a realistic program like this.

stage 4: By stage four any semblance cleverbot had to an actual person was gone and I resulted to being as mean as possible.

So how does cleverbot work?  Rollo Carpenter in 1988 and between that time and 1997 when it went live on the internet, Rollo and his friends conducted thousands of conversations with it.  Since 1997 it is estimated that over 20 million conversations have taken place.  The way it works is that any time you type a piece of text into cleverbot it records that conversation and stores it in a database.  When forming its answers and comments cleverbot pulls from the databases related threads and responds appropriately.

What this means is that each response is not generated but rather selected.  Having a conversation with cleverbot is not like talking to a humanoid robot, but more like talking to the language function of that robots brain.  At first I found this disappointing because it meant that my original fantasies were just fantasies.  Then I found it fascinating, because during any one conversation you are actually speaking with any one of the previous 20 million conversations.

This is what causes cleverbot to be devoid of any one personality, instead it is a mish-mash of human responses.

The cleverbot website eventually led me to their avatar service named Evie at existor.com.  Unlike cleverbot who is simply a faceless text box, Evie is an eerily realistic female who’s facial muscles move to represent different emotions, and rather than having to read the answers Evie speaks them.  The conversations can still be just as disjointed but they feel a little less so coming from such a realistic cg person.

My dreams were not realized, neither cleverbot or Evie managed to act as a replacement for actual human to human dialogue.  Yet I still find myself wasting time there when I should be doing other things.  There is something to these conversations, as disjointed and absurd as they tend to be, I continue to ask waiting to receive an answer I’ve never heard before, one that causes me to take a step back and wonder if I am speaking to a computer program, another living breathing human being, or even 20 million different people at once.

posted by: brianssnider

Leave a comment

Filed under community, websites

maid of honor

My sister is my best friend.  I expected to be her maid of honor, and for my married sister to be the matron of honor.  The wedding was only a few days ago, and I’m still not sure what the maid of honor’s responsibilities were…I certainly hope I didn’t disappoint.

I wasn’t sure what I could say about my sister.  The stories are endless, but many not appropriate for a wedding ceremony, and many having nothing to do with her relationship.  It’s clear that I love her and I’m proud of her, but that just didn’t seem to be enough.  I wanted it to be special, for her to know how much she means to me.  I took a non-stop flight from New York to San Francisco that left at 7:15am.  I took 3 melatonin to help myself sleep, and decided to jot down some notes about my sister and ideas for the wedding toast.  Inevitably, I kept passing out, so I decided to give in to the falty sleep.  Who knew when I would get another chance, it was sure to be a busy weekend.

I find the whole tradition of the wedding ceremony kind of funny.  As the days went on and the plans were made, me and the other bridesmaids kept looking at each other and saying “Is this what we do?  Is that what happens?  Then we just stand there?” and so on.  No one knew what went on during a wedding.  It’s something that we’ve watched in movies probably hundreds of times, and seen in a real life maybe a few, but still, the order of events, the reasons for the traditions, eluded us.

Most importantly, I wanted my sister to be happy, and she was.  She was calm, cool and collected, and able to enjoy her family, friends and the ceremony because of it.  There was not one “bridezilla” moment.  All the hard work she put into planning paid off.  It was beautiful.

But still I wondered when my toast was, and what I would say.  In my melatonin-induced state of mind a few days earlier, I thought surely I would get back to the all-important speech.  But there wasn’t ever any time.  I kept telling my friend and older sister that I didn’t know what I would say.  I had milled some ideas around in my head, but had never had the chance to organize my thoughts and clearly approach the situation.  When the best man, the groom’s father, began his toast, I knew the moment was coming. 

I was freezing and shaking from taking so many photos outside, so I decided to quickly drink a glass of wine before my toast, to calm my nerves and warm up.  I forgot that I was at the head table and everyone could see me, later my aunt commented how  I wasn’t waiting for the toast…I was drinking that wine!  Oh well, I had to do what I had to do.

The moment was seconds away, and then, a surprise video compiled by the groom’s mother, preceded by a heartfelt, weeping speech, praising the newlyweds and their love.  Then an amazing video with paralleled pictures of each of them throughout their lives, riding a bike, the same family trips to Sedona and Yosemite, in swings, etc.  It was beautiful and really showed how they were two people meant to be with each other.  My older sister turned to me and said, “This would have been better after our toasts.”  I agreed, now the whole thing felt even more awkward.

Now everyone’s crying and in love from watching the video, and it’s my turn to speak.  I cheered my sister “Heathie feathie!  Heathie feathie!” and started laughing.  I wasn’t really sure where I was going with that, and neither were they.  But it seemed appropriate.  Then I managed to express myself and tell the friends and family how Heather and I  had our own language when we were younger, and often times I would interpret what she was saying to the people around us.  I told her I was happy and thrilled for her to have found someone who speaks her language so well (for that I got an “awww” from the crowd).  Then I said “Cheers to the lovely couple!” and raised my glass.

They appreciated my speech, and so did I.  I realized there was a lot more I could have said, and I expressed that to Heather and later told her how much she meant to me.  She said she knew, winked at me, and reiiterated that “we speaka the same language.”  I knew that the day wasn’t about me at all, or my toast, it was about supporting her and having a party celebrating her and her relationship.  I was so happy to be there for her special day, and cannot wait to see the pictures.

Posted by: Jeanne Lauren Smith

6 Comments

Filed under jeanne

pre-tanic: year zero

The following is Eric Stolze’s attempt to cash in on the prequel craze. Presenting:

 PRE-TANIC: YEAR ZERO: 3D

A brilliantly dramatic, high-flying prequel to the hugely profitable, award-sweeping, money-winning , worldwide financial phenomenon, in which we finally answer the burning questions of two billion dollars’ worth of fans. 

 The following sample pages are registered and trademarked by Eric Stolze, as per a tiny “TM” inked on the napkin this work was originally written on.

TITLE CARD: BROOKLYN – 1990

EXT.  PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL – DAY

A sweltering New York summer. An overcrowded pool set in concrete and filled with ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE.  Boomboxes blast MILLI VANILLI over the symphony of LAUGHTER and CHATTER.

POOL GUEST 1

I can say with certainty that Milli Vanilli will be around forever!

(hold for audience laughter)

POOL GUEST 2

I don’t know… I heard a rumor that they’re not really singing. What do you call it when you’re just mouthing along to pre-recorded words?

 BOY (O.S.)

SINKING!

 POOL GUEST 2

Yeah, that might be it… wait, what?

 The Crowd turns their attention to a young BOY splashing in the middle of the pool. He SHOUTS with desperation:

 BOY

SINKING! HELP! MY BOAT IS SINKING! SOMEBODY HELP!

 Pushing through the crowd comes the pool’s LIFEGUARD… a cocky, Bill Paxton-esque young man by the name of BROCK “YAGOTTA” LOVETT (20s).

 LOVETT

Alright, everybody stand back. I gotta dive deep.

 A BIKINI-CLAD WOMAN, as gorgeous as any woman you’ll find at a public pool, gives him a passionate kiss.

 BIKINI WOMAN

For good luck.

 LOVETT

Thanks, babe, but with diving skills this fly you don’t need luck. You just need time…

 He PUSHES her out of the way.

LOVETT (CONT’D)

… And space.

 He DIVES into the pool, SPLASHING WATER in 3D…

INT. POOL

As Lovett journeys to the bottom of the pool, CELTIC SINGING can be heard. The light SCATTERS through the blue as he sets his sights on a model BOAT in the corner of the deep end.

 He descends… hovers over the boat in wonder… and slowly takes it into his hands. He reads the tiny name on the side:

TITANIC.

 EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL

Lovett surfaces and climbs onto the edge of the pool to rapturous APPLAUSE from the crowd. The Boy runs up to him.

 BOY

Thanks, mister! Thanks!

 LOVETT

 “Mister” is my Dad’s name. The name’s Brock Lovett… but they call me “Yagotta” Lovett. Also, no running!

He TWEETS his whistle in the Boy’s face, then hands the model off.

LOVETT (CONT’D)

That’s the most beautiful boat I’ve ever seen, kid. I’m suddenly obsessed with it. What do you call it?

BOY

The… TITANIC.

LOVETT

That’s a dumb name for such a tiny ship.

BOY

It’s a model based on an actual ship that lived up to that name a lot better. There’s a really interesting, dramatic story behind it. But I’m only in elementary school, so I don’t know all its romantic secrets.

 LOVETT

Well, as it so happens, I start NYU this week with an undeclared major. I always thought the Deep-Sea Archaeology major was for lamewads… but I think that assumption just got… SUNK.

 He JUMPS back into the water and we–

CUT TO:

INT. NYU POOL – WEEKS LATER

Lovett CLIMBS out of a pool, handing a soaked textbook over to a beautiful CO-ED in an NYU T-shirt.

 LOVETT

You should be more careful with your textbooks… especially this one. “THE BUILDING OF THE TITANIC”… sounds like a financially viable story worth telling. If only books could be presented in incredible digital 3D.

  CO-ED

I just wanted to see that legendary Lovett dive for myself. Now, let’s get back to our… studies.

They begin to MAKE OUT. While kissing, Lovett opens the textbook behind the Co-Ed’s head and READS with wide eyes…

 TITLE CARD: BELFAST, IRELAND 1909

INT. WHITE STAR SHIPYARD – DAY

A well-dressed gentleman, DEVLIN WHITESTAR JR., walks through a sun-drenched doorway as tall as a tree. He stands out from THOUSANDS of industrial WORKERS, many of whom sing Irish folk songs that could easily be remixed into dance hits or covered by Billboard Top 40 artists.

 A starstruck SUPERVISOR RUNS UP to Whitestar, carrying a glass of whiskey. He’s followed by a man in a suit, SAMSON MARINOS (40s).

 SUPERVISOR

Mr. Whitestar! We’ve been expecting you. Here’s your glass of whiskey.

 WHITESTAR

No ice? What’s a glass of whiskey without ice, you blockheaded buffoon?

 SUPERVISOR

B-but… but, sir… the men say that having ice around a ship being built is… BAD LUCK.

 WHITESTAR

It would take a lot more than a little ice to doom this particular ship, IDIOT!

 (hold for audience laughter)

Whitestar SPLASHES the whiskey into the Supervisor’s face and hands the glass back. As the Supervisor runs away, Marinos approaches, CLAPPING slowly.

 MARINOS

I would expect such a grand entrance from Devlin Whitestar Jr… the man who expects such a grand ship… owner of White Star Lines… who is you.

  WHITESTAR

Yes, quite, quite. And this grand ship is exactly why I hired you… Samson Marinos… the greatest expert on the likelihood of boats sinking in the entire civilized world.  Come, show me where my millions are wisely going.

Marinos leads Whitestar into the ship yard… revealing an ENORMOUS HALF-FINISHED SHIP, SUSPENDED IN THE AIR by rafters and beams. Thousands of WORKERS surround it like bees in a hive. It’s a beautiful work in progress that will look dope as hell in digital 3D.

 Striding up to Marinos and Whitestar comes THOMAS EDISON (the inventor), wearing a shock of crazy white hair sticking out in all directions. He carries two light bulbs, one yellow and one purple.

WHITESTAR

Ah, Thomas Edison! Good to see you again. How comes the electricity for my yet-to-be-named masterpiece?

 EDISON

Wonderful, Whitestar. Your ship will prove to be a most excellent advertisement to the world for my miraculous electricity, since absolutely nothing will go wrong. Now, do you want regular bulbs or these purple “party bulbs?”

 MARINOS

Actually, I was meaning to talk to you gentlemen about this boat…

 WHITESTAR

Hold your tongue, Marinos. Here comes my brilliantly wealthy young nephew, Cal Hockley. I asked him to name my ship in exchange for VIP tickets.

 Approaching them from the lens flares comes… a YOUNG CAL HOCKLEY (played by a digitally de-aged Billy Zane). He passes a lint-roller along the sleeves of his expensive suit. We hate him immediately.

CAL

Ah, my wealthy uncle! I was just staring at this blessed vessel that definitely won’t sink, imagining how many servants I’ll belittle.

 WHITESTAR

Quite, quite. Have you decided on a name for the ship?

 CAL

I’ve got the perfect name, Uncle Devlin. The world shall watch in awe as I set sail some day on the… S.S. Cal Hockley!

 The men ROLL THEIR EYES. (pause for audience laughter, because that’s not what they end up naming it)

 WHITESTAR

You’re the nephew I love to hate, Cal! Now, where’s this fiancée of yours I’ve heard so much about?

 The men stare in awe as a beautiful young woman rides by on a wooden PLANK on wheels. This is YOUNG ROSE (played by digitally de-aged Kate Winslet OR Kristen Stewart).

 ROSE

Whee! Look what I’ve invented, Mr. Edison! I think I’ll call it the skate-along!

 CAL

Rose, you cow! Get off that thing, you know how much I despise fun and your independence.

 Rose steps down from her invention, her eyes downcast. The Supervisor brings a glass of whiskey, now with ice. Whitestar TOSSES it, SMASHING into the skull of an IRISHMAN.

 WHITESTAR

Fool! MORE ICE! I demand MORE ICE for my priceless whiskey!

 MARINOS

Everyone, listen… I feel like I should tell you something about this ship’s likelihood of sinking…

A YOUNG IRISH WORKER BOY (8 years old) plays with a PUPPY that also wears a hardhat. The Puppy sees Rose’s skate-along rolling along and RUNS up to the group, barking.  Cal CRINGES and covers his ears.

CAL

That infernal racket! How I despise puppies!

 ROSE

Cal, DON’T! This is one of hundreds of reasons why I resent that there’s no chance I won’t wind up marrying you!

 Cal ignores his fiancée, WINDS HIS LEG BACK for a kick at the helpless pup…

 … And his leg gets GRABBED from behind him. With a sudden YANK he gets SPUN in mid-air and LANDS on his back on the dusty ground.

The group watches, awestruck, as a YOUNG MAN, silhouetted by the sun behind him, PICKS UP the puppy and hands it back to the Worker Boy.

 WHITESTAR

I say! What sort of flimflammery…?!

The Young Man turns around to reveal… YOUNG JACK (played by a shaved Leonardo DiCaprio). Rose SWOONS.

JACK

That’s no way to treat a helpless, innocent thing! Some day there’ll be laws protecting young children and puppies from working in places like this!

EDISON

This kid’s talking more gibberish than Nicolai Tesla! Does he work for you, Whitestar?

JACK

I’m just backpacking my way through Ireland because I’m a free spirit. I came by here ’cause I heard you folks were building something special, but if you ask me, you wouldn’t catch me DEAD on your stupid boat! Dead by, for example, freezing, or drowning, or any number of possible deaths!

WHITESTAR

You’re not invited, stupid! The tickets will cost more than all of your organs, COMBINED.

YOUNG JACK

See if I care! You can keep this colossal waste of metal, this ugly … titan. Ick!

He walks off, giving the Worker Boy a friendly PAT on the hardhat. Whitestar strokes his beard thoughtfully. Rose squints as she watches Jack leave the shipyard.

ROSE

I couldn’t get a good look at that boy’s face. I doubt I’d recognize him if I ever saw him again.

CAL

Ha! You have just as much chance of seeing that urchin again as this boat has of sinking!

(hold for audience laughter)

MARINOS

Yes, yes, as I’ve been trying to tell you all, I have something significant to say about the likelihood of this ship sinking!

 His voice ECHOES. The group stares… each of the thousands of Workers all stop their construction of the ship. All eyes are on Marinos.

MARINOS (CONT’D)

This ship… is… literally… absolutely… un-ironically… UNSINKABLE.

A deafeningHOORAH! from everyone in the shipyard.

BEGIN MONTAGE:

Roughly two hours of workers welding and riveting in 3D.

posted by: ericstolze

1 Comment

Filed under comedy, movies