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2 February, 2014

I'm fond of stories that basically take the world around us and twist it in some way. There's just something really cool about it or maybe it just feeds into the whole notion of more things in heaven and earth than dreamed of in philosophy. Sure, we've got a pretty good idea of the shape of things what with science and all of that. Yay, science. But, wouldn't it just be cool if. So, yeah, there's something very escapist and exciting about imagining things being other than what they are in some way or other. Just to pick at one example, the X-Files was a hit for more than one reason, and it's really hard to escape from vampire shows, superhero movies and assorted whatnot these days.

Now, having said all of that, there is one big problem with movies and television shows, comic books and novels, that attempt to twist the world just a little bit, and that problem is the fact we have twisted the real world in some way or other while trying to ignore how that twist would actually affect the real world. I mean, once you've got that twist in there, you've basically said goodbye to the real world, but you still kind-of want it to be the real world or almost the real world.

It kind-of defeats the whole escapist dream that the real world really is more interesting than what we see around us if the twist actually causes the world to be too different. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dragons lobbying congress and holding rallies and whatnot would get noticed, I'm sure. Also, hard to ignore all the news stories about how—say—Fresno was burned to the ground because their sacrificial offering to the local fire-breathing lizard turned out to be slightly less than technically a virgin or whatever. Then, you've got to check the local news for updates as all of Wyoming and Utah are on high alert because Lord Ragnishthok the Black is feeling particularly cranky today and there's a 70% chance he'll be flying around looking for random people to charbroil. Nothing like that in real life.

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29 November, 2013

The Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary show, The Day of the Doctor, was good. Entertaining. Oh, spoilers, d'uh. And, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before how the term spoilers just grates against my skin, but that is neither here nor there so I'll get on with it already.

Doctor Who has been around for rather a long time and has built up quite a bit of baggage. This baggage had a lot to do with why the show was canceled round about the twenty-sixth year mark, as I understand it. The show just kind-of collapsed under its own weight, as it had a rather hard time attracting anybody who wasn't already a die-hard fan. Nobody in management wanted to take it seriously. Blah blah blah.

This left the revival in a bit of a quandary. They had to figure out what to do with all the baggage, and the producers of the revival had three basic options, I figure. First, they could just flat out ignore all of the history and baggage that the show had built up. Second, they could overtly wipe the slate clean with same grand gesture or statement or other. Third, they could dive head-first into the great stinking mess and very likely produce a show that absolutely nobody wanted to watch just throwing terms and facts around and generally behaving as if anybody and everybody watching knew the intricate details and didn't need a primer or anything. Sink or swim, and all of that.

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27 October, 2013

I always remember being told the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as being about split personalities to the point that Dr. Jekyll wouldn't even know what Mr. Hyde had been up to. Even if there was a certain amount of awareness, it always still involved losing control. Mr. Hyde would take over, and there was nothing Dr. Jekyll could do about it. Even when he liked it, he had no control. Kind-of like a drug induced rush, I guess. Dr. Jekyll had to have his fix and damn the consequences. Now, I suppose a lot of these slight differences simply come out of the fact that lots of different people have played with the story and the idea. There have lots of different essays and adaptations and whatnot. The consistently important detail was that Dr Jekyll gave up control to this other person living in his head called Mr. Hyde.

So, imagine my shock and surprise when I actually read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the very first thing I discovered was just how little the formula did. It changed his appearance. That's it. Full-stop. It changed Dr. Jekyll's flipping appearance. None of this split personality jazz. It simply wasn't there. The closest the story got was from Dr. Jekyll's own notes in which he described distilling his dark side or however exactly he put it. I don't have a copy of the story right in front of me. But, here's the thing about those notes, they were very clearly the work of an unreliable narrator.

The formula changed Dr. Jekyll's appearance, which was allowing him to live out his darkest fantasies without fear of scandal because nobody could prove it was him. It was that other guy. That disguise. Allowing Dr. Jekyll to hide in plain sight. Yeah, that's right. We're in pun territory. Not only did the formula allow Dr. Jekyll to hide his more exotic impulses but it also literally changed his hide. So, yeah, Mr. Hyde is hiding Dr. Jekyll while also saving Dr. Jekyll's hide.

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1 September, 2013

Blade Runner is one of those movies I liked when I was younger. I mean I used to watch it all the time when it was on cable, and it seemed to be on all the time. Don't know how that happened. It was just on, and I would watch it. Found it fascinating or something. And, it was the old voice-over narration version. It was pan-and-scan, too, but everything was pan-and-scan back in those days. Didn't matter. It was on, and I would watch it. Alternate versions didn't exist yet. In fact, the first time I ever saw Blade Runner in a movie theater was when the first alternate version did the rounds. I used to love this movie. Can't stand it now. Blade Runner is long and boring and pretentious as hell. Don't know what I used to see in it. Don't understand what happened. Age makes fools of us all or something.

Anyway, back in the day when I loved that movie, I hunted down the book, which was easy at the time. The publisher had conveniently produced an edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep that had the words Blade Runner emblazoned across the cover. The actual title of the book having been relegated to a tiny italic footnote, which I found vaguely interesting but otherwise didn't care. Never got past the first chapter. No, really, I tried to read it. I really did, but it was just so freaking different from the movie. And just to point this out to anybody who might be interested, it is not one of Philip K. Dick's better books.

I did finally get through it. Years later, I finally did, and it wasn't that old movie tie-in paperback with Harrison Ford and Sean Young and whoever else on the cover. It was a trade paperback of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Blade Runner was nowhere to be seen. Now, I'm trying to remember if this was about the time the first alternate edit of the movie had come out, but that's hardly important. I think I finally read Do Androids Dream before that, but doesn't really matter, as I said.

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4 August, 2013

I noticed something while working on my silly little adaptation of Macbeth. Something kind-of fundamental to the story. Well, the first thing I learned by looking at Wikipedia of all things was that Macbeth was not an original story to Shakespeare. The play itself was an adaptation. Quite possibly based on historical events. At the very least, it was based on well known stories about guys killing other guys for the purpose of becoming king or whatever. What fascinated me the most was that it wasn't always a secret. The guy killing the other guy said he did it because the other guy was crap as leader or something. I'm being vague on details for no good reason. Not the point of this little writing jag.

Anyway, the thing I noticed was Macbeth had no problem killing. It's what everybody says. Macbeth is about a guy who doesn't want to kill another guy but is talked into it by his wife. Once he kills the other guy, Macbeth gets all bloodthirsty and goes on a wild and wacky murder spree. Oh, and while Macbeth is dancing around in the blood and entrails of his many assorted victims, his wife is slowly losing her marbles. Sure, she may have thought this killing thing sounded like a good idea at the time and was all for slaying the other guy if it meant her guy would become king, but she just couldn't deal with it when actually faced with the fact that murder had been committed.

So all as part of reading the play a couple of times over while figuring out if I could make an adaptation of Macbeth work, I noticed that Macbeth did not have a problem with killing. The play started with Macbeth killing quite a few guys, in fact. It was how he wound up so close in line to the throne in the first place. The play started with a rebellion. The rebels were even kicking ass until Macbeth got involved. Macbeth and Banquo between the two of them killed more than their fair share of people, but it was okay because they only killed naughty people who rebelled against the king.

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