Shit Just Got Real

I think I’ve looked at 50 or so villains since I started this series in April. We’re talking movie villains, TV villains, comic book and soap opera and Disney villains. And in that review, I’ve found the dastardliest villain of them is…waiting.

In the movies, that feeling of suspense, that “edge of your seat, I know something’s out there” sensation is what gave us 4 (count em 4) Paranormal Activity movies and the most fucked up scene in Seven (you know what I’m talking about, with the evergreen air fresheners, the dude with the one arm) In real life, it equates to the pretty girl’s ability to avoid that creepy dude at the club, the time between when your boss says “I need to speak with you for a minute” and the pink slip, or waiting for doctor’s appointments. Or test results. Or surgery.

You know what they say, “it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.” Well, here at the ranch, somebody got hurt. Or is hurting. Honest Abe moment: my wife is ill, facing those medical issues only major surgery can cure. She’s scared but trying to wear the brave face—poorly; I’m scared but wearing the brave face masterfully; my kids are afraid that either their mother is going to die on the table (she won’t) or she won’t be same afterwards (I hope they’re wrong). In short, none of us are 100%.

So what does that have to do with you? It all comes down to love and responsibility. I love you all—each and every one of my wicked little readers. I love that you indulge my flights of fancy, that you let me bask in the darkness of my subjects, that you put up with my twisted sense of humor. We have a bond, you and I: I write the songs that make the whole world sing; you sing along. Okay, well, I stole that from Barry Manilow but you get my point. And I believe I have a responsibility to you too. I know you’ve come to depend on your frequent doses of villainy goodness. I know you’re a hype. As your pusher, I have a responsibility to supply your needs.

But the one I love is my responsibility.

I gotta make sure she’s good because I’m no good without her. It doesn’t work without her. And while our life revolves around tests and appointments, insurance approvals and schedules, hand-wringing and meltdowns—and so much fucking waiting! The waiting, man, that’s what kills you—I’ll be around. Not as frequent as I should be. Not as often as I want to be. But, like Superman says, “I’m always around.”

I’m not going dark (that would be wrong) but infrequent is the name of the game. So please, cut me some slack. Give me some room. Bear with me. It’s not you, it’s me. I just need some space. Whatever works, that’s what we’ll go with.

Seriously, hang tight. Things will be better soon. Promise.

C

PS: I am fully aware my stuff pales in the face of Hurricane Sandy ravaging the East Coast. I know my place in the universe.

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE MAD, MAD WEEKEND #2: YZMA #mayhemofthemouse

Your girl’s weight loss plan is a little extreme, wouldn’t you say? Yzma is the fourth and final villain in today’s lengthy episode of the Mad, Mad Weekend Part TWO (part two!) or, as it is affectionately referred to here, “Godammit, I’m so far behind!”

As Disney movies go, I kinda liked this one. It had some funny moments, David Spade was…well David Spade and Kronk (you either know him as Puddy from Seinfeld or the Tick in The Tick or Joe from Family Guy) was dumb as all hell. But this isn’t as much about the movie as it is about the villain and we are focusing on Yzma, extreme workout enthusiast and advisor to the emperor in the Emperor’s New Groove.

Yzma has a pretty basic and predictable story arc: the Emperor (Spade) is a certifiable dumbass and Yzma thinks she can do better. She sets a plan in motion that will kill the Kuzco and drop her neatly into the seat of power. There is one problem: execution.

Like far too many villains in Disney flicks, the main antagonist who believes they can rule an empire or Mount Olympus or whatever suffers from shitty-ass staffing (and yes, I know that my compound curse word is ridiculous). She chooses an absolute moron (Kronk) to handle the delicate task of killing Kuzco. How does this work out? Instead of the Emperor dropping dead from poison, Kronk dilutes the liquid and Kuzco turns into a llama. A fucking llama? Yzma is a chemist; like she has THE quintessential chemistry set (which is pretty high-tech for something from the Aztec Empire) and can’t concoct a poison strong enough to kill someone from one sip? Not only that, what potion has a side effect that turns someone into a horse-size bunny rabbit?

Well, now Kronk can’t bring himself to kill a talking llama so he saves the guy he was going to kill. So the rest of the movie is spent with Yzma and Kronk running around, trying to kill a talking llama. Now I have a couple notes. First, Yzma tried to kill Kuzco so she could run the empire, right? Who the hell is running the empire while my man is an oversized goat and they’re chasing him? Second, I’m an Obama fan but if the president were somehow turned into a talking llama, my vote’s in play. (I’m going to let you imagine an Obama-Llama debating Mitt Romney). Third, how good of an emperor was Kuzco at all? He’s lazy, doesn’t particularly care about the poorest of his folks, and we NEVER see him emperor-ing. Would he have been that much of a loss?

I get Yzma’s overall desire for power. That makes sense. I don’t understand her ineffectiveness: she can’t kill David Spade and I promise you, the number of people who can’t kill David Spade is horribly low. She’s more like a Scooby Doo villain who would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that meddling llama.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new helping of villainy goodness. Catch ya later!

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE MAD, MAD WEEKEND #2: SHERE KHAN #mayhemofthemouse

As I go through this process of enumerating awesome Disney villains, I realize how many Disney movies I either never saw or simply didn’t like. The Jungle Book falls into the latter. I ain’t like this one.

The Jungle Book is based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories and tells the story of Mowgli, an abandoned boy raised in an Indian jungle by wolves. Now, I’m not going to even focus on similarities between the Jungle Book and Tarzan; I think they’re two different ideas and two very different stories that both begin with a human baby raised in an exceptionally hostile environment by a group of animals. That’s about it.

In the Jungle Book movie, Mowgli has wolves for brothers, a bear for a friend (there are bears in the jungle? Seriously?), and a black panther as a mentor. I mean, who doesn’t? Besides, this isn’t about Mowgli; this is about the awesome villain of the story, the tiger, Shere Khan.

I automatically like anybody whose name is Khan, and Shere Khan is as sexy as Ricardo Montalban. My man is truly a force to be reckoned with: he moves around the jungle as its resident monarch, is fearless (except for a couple things, which we’ll talk about soon), and is immune to the effects of the only other predator in the movie. Shere Khan is kinda raw.

Let’s break this one down a little. Yes, the jungle is scared of Shere Khan, and they should be. Have you ever seen a tiger? I know we like to think lions are awesome and best predators but check out tigers. They hunt alone (lions don’t), they swim proficiently (lions don’t, at least not often), and have a long and storied history of eating people. Tigers are no joke. The animals in the Jungle Book are not only scared of Shere Khan because of what he is, but they’re also scared FOR Mowgli because they know he’ll be a hot pocket if Shere Khan catches him.

Shere Khan has two real and rational fears: guns and fire. The only things that will kill him. He hates Mowgli because the boy represents both things Shere Khan fears. This idea makes you look at the tiger a little differently: he has a reason for his villainy. He actually has a couple. First, the law of the jungle is a survival of the fittest. That a bunch of wolves took in a human baby and a bear and a panther protect violates that order. When Baloo tries to protect Mowgli, Shere Khan damn near kills him for it. Second, human beings are the authors of the destruction of their environments and the wholesale slaughter of tigers worldwide. Shere Khan has a reason to be mad.

Like Magneto and Hades, Shere Khan has a rationale for what he does. Mowgli, by his very nature, represents a real threat to the social and physical order of the jungle. The protagonist of the story is the real villain, no matter how Kipling or Disney spin it. Shere Khan is doing what tigers do, being what tigers are. That he tries to kill both Mowgli and the animals that protect him is not only warranted, it’s expected. It’s right.

We have one more villain to go out in Day One of the Mad, Mad Weekend: Yzma, from The Emperor’s New Groove.

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE MAD, MAD WEEKEND #2: SYNDROME

We’ve all wanted to be superheroes. Yep, even me. I know I have this rugged exterior and a love for supervillains, but the truth is, on the inside, I wanted be able to fly, block bullets, and save the day. And have a theme song. And a costume. Yeah, an awesome costume.

That secret desire that we all share is the same desire bubbling in the soul of our next villain: Syndrome from The Incredibles.

Little Buddy Pine had a hero once. His hero was an awesome, crime-fighting bundle of muscle named Mr. Incredible. Mr. Incredible stood up for the little guy, had a cool car but he worked alone. And when Buddy realized he wasn’t endowed with the same gifts at Robert Parr (that’s Mr. Incredible’s secret identity), little Buddy Pine built his own powers: he gave himself the ability to fly just so he could hang out with his hero.

You have a tear, don’t you?

In an age where The Avengers can become the third highest grossing film ever and my kids can don Iron Man, Black Widow and Loki costumes for Halloween, little Buddy Pine’s dream isn’t too shabby. Matter of fact, Robert Downey, Jr’s fantastic return to cinematic brilliance is based on the same idea: Tony Stark didn’t have any powers, so he gave himself some. We just saw Christian Bale get his bat-ass whipped by Bane this summer—he doesn’t have powers. Buddy Pine’s just a kid with a dream—a normal dream—who gets played to the curb by his hero.

This is where things take a sinister turn. Mr. Incredible says 3 words that change everything: “I work alone.” Now, in the movie, when Incredible calls Buddy “Skippy,” I was rollin! But you can’t help but feel a little bad for Buddy. Here’s what nobody thought would happen: Buddy Pine would get smart enough to exact his own revenge.

Buddy becomes Syndrome, a supervillain. Now, on the surface, this is okay. In the world of The Incredibles, there are plenty of villains. But none of them seemed to be murderous ones. Buddy took his exclusion to the left. He dons his suit, uses the new powers he has, and starts killing superheroes.

What? And this is a kids’ movie?

Yep. Syndrome not only lures heroes to their doom, he builds on what he learns. My man uses the scientific method to systematically kill heroes and upgrade his weaponry. He makes buttloads of money in the process, buys an island, builds a secret lair. Then tracks down Supers who exist in a witness protection program. Are you tracking this? This is a kid, a twenty-something who gets played to the left by his hero and goes on a super-serial killing spree that compromises a federal witness protection program. One dude? Seriously? And then he kidnaps and tries to kill Mr. Incredible’s ENTIRE family? Even the kids? Even the baby?

I did mention this is a children’s movie, right?

I’m no fan of sidekicks and certainly not the sidekick poster boy, Robin. I actually giggled a little bit when the Joker laid into him with that crowbar. But it never dawned on me that Robin might get sick and tired of being Batman’s bitch and going on a killing spree against the entire Justice League. And be effective. Hadn’t really thought about that, had you?

This is what makes Syndrome pretty freaking awesome: until his emotions got in the way and he made it horrible personal between him and Mr. Incredible, he accomplished something awesome. Syndrome not only declared war on Supers, not only killed them in a pretty effective campaign, he evened the playing field. About his plan to sell his inventions to the world, he said, “When everyone’s Super, no one will be.” Syndrome became the Steve Jobs of supervillains.

But wait, there’s more in the Mad, Mad Weekend! Next is Shere Khan!

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE MAD, MAD WEEKEND #2: QUEEN OF HEARTS #mayhemofthemouse

Life can take you on some interesting twists and turns if you let it—and sometimes that’s the whole point of a really good story. The problem is, on this journey, you can run into some horrible things: a Day Job, that really pretty woman who’s really a dude, or a homicidal queen with a habit of decapitating her detractors.

This is the second Mad, Mad Weekend or, as I like to call it, CATCH UP TIME! Life continues to throw us curveballs here on the ranch but we’re gonna work through it. The first malevolent miscreant is only one of the horrible things living in Wonderland: the Queen of Hearts.

In the animated film, we first meet the Queen of Hearts when Alice strolls into the garden and sees living playing cards painting white roses red because they planted the wrong colored ones. The Queen, being the level-headed monarch she is, orders their heads cut off. I get the aesthetics but even Martha Stewart is like, “Damn, that’s a little extreme.” Have you ever screwed up at work? Ever forgotten the cover sheets on your TPS reports? Ever had your boss decide the penalty should be you lose your head?

Now I’ve never necessarily been an Alice in Wonderland fan: there’s too much crazy shit going on for me. A cat that grins and disappears. A cryptic, hookah-smoking caterpillar. Un-Birthdays with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. The late ass White Rabbit. Getting bigger and smaller and potions and cakes and everything. This looks like the ramblings of an author on acid. Even with the new movie, I got the mouse that thinks it’s a warrior, a talking dog, still the fucking cat, Professor Snape as the damn caterpillar, crazy ass Johnny Depp, something called a Jabberwocky, and Helena Bonham Carter’s big ass head—which was funny though. They just don’t work for me.

But the Queen of Hearts does. Now inevitably some die-hard Disney fan or some bored librarian is going to cite me for not knowing that the cinematic renditions of the Queen of Hearts is really an amalgamation (amalgamation—take that Masters’ degree) of the Red Queen, the true Queen of Hearts and the Duchess of Something (I really forgot). But that doesn’t matter, this is about Disney villains and Disney gave us a “fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant” (those are Alice’s words, by the way). The Queen holds Wonderland in the palm of her hand by the icy grip of fear: everyone who crosses her—for anything—is in danger of losing their noggin. She’s not a take prisoners kind of gal. She wants what she wants when she wants it and she absolutely gets results.

Whether you appreciate her full-bodied foulness or water-headedness, the Queen of Hearts is 100% mean. She punks EVERYBODY! She has a lil ass husband hat she dogs. She decapitates anybody who looks at her sideways. She wants to kill Alice because she thinks Alice tripped her. Alice is a kid, by the way, she’s a little girl. The Queen wants to cut her head off. Look, in the end, the Queen of Hearts is the person we all secretly wish we could be: tell me you haven’t, for a split second, wishes something horrible on that jackass who cut you off or that manager who keeps calling you into dumbass meetings or DMRH. When you’re the Queen of Hearts, that MF gets cut short. The Queen of Hearts makes it happen.

And…scene! The Mad, Mad Weekend (Part II) continues with Syndrome!

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE DAY IDK: GASTON #mayhemofthemouse

Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast fame, is our vicar of villainy in this episode and presents himself as the preeminent male in Belle’s little provincial town. But, you know, you can only be so hard with a ponytail. It’s even harder if that ponytail has a bow on it. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Chris, Steven Seagall was RAW!” Yeah, I saw him beat a man up with a dish towel and a cue ball too but have you seen Stevie lately? Looking like a stuffed sausage in his sheriff’s outfit? Yeah, not so sexy, now, huh?

Gaston is a thick-necked jackass (so much so he even sings about it). He’s good-looking but not terribly smart, overly-confident but probably over-compensating, and cannot stand that the one woman he wants is the one he can’t have. He’s the dude you KNOW is gonna get killed in the horror movie. You know who I’m talking about: the loud-mouthed bully, jag-off with the expensive car and turned up collar. What’s his name? Blaine? Zack? He deserves a knife through the skull…

There was this movie a while ago, She’s All That, where a pre-Scooby-Doo Freddie Prinze Jr. makes a bet to turn the geeky girl at the high school into a prom queen. Instead of it going into Carrie territory, it becomes a heart-warming teen romance bullshit story. This is the same shit. Gaston thinks he can make Belle into something fitting for a man of his stature (even with the ponytail) so he dogs her every step. More than likely, someone told Gaston that girls who read are secretly freaky (there is some truth to that sexy librarian idea—you know I’m right). But then Gaston finds out Belle is with the Beast and decides to off his competition.

Here is where Gaston moves into the Grade A Chump category. Remember when I said he wasn’t too bright? My man decides a) the best way to win Belle’s heart is to imprison her father and kill her boyfriend; and b) takes on a guy the ENTIRE TOWN calls The Beast. Folks, you know the Beast can roar, right? Like the WHOLE TOWN has heard his animalistic sounds. You also know there are wolves and the castle is haunted and shit? Somehow Gaston manages to convince the entire town to rush the Beast’s castle.

It doesn’t end well. For anybody. I don’t know about you, but fighting haunted shit is not in my job description, with or without the torches and pitchforks. Fuck that. Dressers don’t bleed; clocks don’t bruise. I do. When the candlestick is fighting back, we should reconsider our plan. But they stick with it. And they LOSE! But Gaston is a bitch: he shanks the Beast in the back after the Beast saves him. And then the Beast kicks him off the top of the tower. Gaston go BOOM!

I’m not Gaston fan (can you tell?) He’s a dick, plain and simple and his entire motivation is that he wants what he cannot have. That’s it. He wants Belle, can’t have her, and ends up dead as a result. This is stupid and, frankly, a bit stalkerish. Booo.

We’re gonna do doubles today (for real) and next in the Mayhem is ol Big Head herself, the Queen of Hearts.

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE – MAD, MAD WEEKEND Part II: DAVY JONES #mayhemofthemouse

Pirates again? Aw, mom! Yeah yeah yeah, I’m pressing this pirates theme one more time—honestly, this is the last one. Promise. But it’s the best one. Part 2 in the Mad, Mad Weekend is ol’ Squid-face himself, Davy Jones.

In nautical lore, few folks are more feared, and more ambiguous, than Davy Jones. I don’t know what the basis of the fear is or what’s in his locker: I always assumed you’d be trapped in there with old socks, incomplete assignments and dirty gym clothes. But whatever it was, it’s enough to terrify sailors for a couple hundred years. In the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Davy Jones and his ship, the Flying Dutchman (not the same thing as on Spongebob, youngins) is a terrifyingly real entity to be reckoned with.

When we first see Davy Jones and his octopus-clad face, he is giving sailors from a destroyed ship a choice: death or 100 years on the Dutchman—and then death, I guess. Right off the bat, we see the Davy Jones is a little deeper than most other characters in the POTC movies: life and death are pretty clear ideas but Davy Jones appears to be the captain of everything in between.

That my man has an octopus for a face, a crab claw for a hand, one missing leg and a thick Scottish accent (along with that FANTASTIC hat!) is one thing. That he cut out his own heart is something else entirely. You know what I’m talking about, right? To be the captain of the Flying Dutchman, to act as that ferryman between life and death on the seven seas, means he gets to live forever but he can come on land for one day every 10 years. Dave is in love with the goddess of the sea, Calypso, and, on his one day on land, your girl doesn’t show. No call, no letter, nothing. Just doesn’t show. So Davy cuts out his own heart and locks it in a chest.

What??

Remember back in middle school, or maybe highschool for you late bloomers, passing that “Do you like me?” note with the Yes or No checkboxes? Remember the minutes or hours or days before you ever heard back? Remember how that felt? That’s limbo. Now multiply that by like a million and you get how my man felt standing on the beach, broad smile, flowers, champagne, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Nothing. Your girl NEVER shows. EVER.

She ain’t even sorry. We actually get to see her pseudo-apology on screen, talking about, “That’s just my nature.” Grinning and shit. You know this wasn’t the first time, right? It’s bad enough she stood him up for his one day on land but you know his response wasn’t based on that one time—“It’s like the fifth time, Caly. What the fuck?” So he does what any quasi-immortal, purgatory-granting, goddess-loving, heartbroken individual would do: he sells her out to the Brethren Court of the pirates and teaches them how to bind her to a human form. Bet you’ll show up next time, huh?

Davy Jones is more than a giant squid-controlling, raggedy ship sailing villain: he’s a heartbroken soul with immense power. His personal tragedy is both his greatest source of power and his Achilles heel. And watching the aftermath of his unrequited love play out on the big screen is damn fine cinema.

Part III is coming! Next is Gaston!