MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE – CHERNABOG

chernabogI’m almost done with this Disney villain nonsense. Almost. For the most part, Disney villains aren’t too shabby: they kill and steal and dog the shit outta people for some of the most mundane, mindless reasons. They commit wholeheartedly to their cause even if it means poisoning a girl for being pretty or trying to kill puppies or tying rockets to talking toys. Disney villains exponentially raise the value of villains because, for all the foul stuff they do, they do it in children’s movies. They are foul for the kids.

And if Disney villains commit, I can commit to bringing them to you. Here’s how deep my commitment goes: I HATE Fantasia. Seriously. I tried to watch it like 4 times and kept quitting a few minutes in because it was lousy. But when I decided to do a run on Disney villains, I got a list from Disney enthusiasts who said I HAD to cover Chernabog and, you guessed it, his ass is in Fantasia.

So fine, I’ll watch it. In fact, I love you wicked little readers so much, I even watched Fantasia 2000. Yep with the Butterflies of Good and Evil and dancing hippos and the Spring fairy thing and Mount St. Helens erupting (which was kinda cool). I saw Mickey and the damn brooms and Donald Duck on Noah’s Ark. And I finally saw Chernabog, the devil thing at the end of Fantasia. Boooo!

And he’s supposed to be one of the top Disney villains? He has like 4 minutes of screen time! No words, he doesn’t go anywhere, he doesn’t do much! What’s the big deal? Sure, watching him burn his own people was fun and I guess in 1940 it was deep but I was raised watching Darth Vader kill his own people through the TV. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me.

With each of my posts I try to give you at least 500 words. I don’t have that many. Instead I’m going with the age-old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Here’s my official opinion of Chernabog:

Not Impressed

I was not impressed.

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE – RANDALL BOGGS

RandallRandall Boggs is an ass. And he’s today’s Disney villain.

You know, I was gonna let you bask in the afterglow of Maleficent’s dragony evil. I was just gonna skip tonight because when I looked at my list of outstanding Disney villains, I realized that I didn’t recognize those MFs. And that means I have to watch some sorry-ass Disney movie to figure out the hell Sykes is. And I HATED The Hunchback of Notre Dame! And Pocahontas. And Fantasia. What this means is I am hedging on the last thing my kids watched and that leads me to Monsters Inc. and to Randall. The ass.

To be fair, all the monsters in Monsters Inc. are asses. You know the story (if you don’t, it sucks to be you, cuz I’m gonna ruin it): the monsters here are the monsters under your bed or in your closet and their job is scaring the cowboy shit outta your young ass because it powers their economy. While the premise is actually pretty cool, these bastards have been ruining nookie night for parents for years so they could watch some shitty ass movie on Monster HBO. I think I’m bitter. Anyway, cute lil Boo follows Sully the Monster back into the Monster’s world, hi jinx ensue, yada yada yada and they found out that the laughter a child—the sweet, innocent laughter of a little child—was ten times more powerful than their tears.

Sweet, isn’t it?

But what would this sweet little tale be without an antagonist? For Monsters Inc., we have Randall Boggs, a jackass chameleon with invisibility powers. You know, Disney villains do often commit horrible atrocities for the wildest of reasons—the Evil Queen thought Snow White was too pretty; Lady Tremaine thinks her busted ass daughters are secretly beautiful; Captain Hook likes little boys. Randall wants to be the Top Scarer at the energy company. This MF has been terrorizing a little girl for a while (per his f’d up job) and decides to kidnap her. This is already foul but Boo is like 3 years old. Kid is traumatized. The plan is to kidnap a little girl and terrify her permanently to extract her scream and power the city so he can be the Top Fucking Scarer.

Seriously.

You know, I like villains. I even like Disney movies. But these aren’t always the cool little movies with the breezy music and the family friendly themes. They’re really animated case studies in some sort of mental ailment. Randall has ambition, sure, but does anybody else take issue with a story that centers around emotionally abusing a 3-year-old? At least Scar fucked with Simba so he could be king. Randall and Mr. Waternoose—hell, everybody in the entire movie—are engaged in an enterprise that traumatizes kids just to turn on the light. It’s funny, yeah, but it’s fucked up.

Truth be told, Randall isn’t actually a bad guy. I mean he’s an ass for kidnapping a child so he could win an award (that genuinely is fucked up) but he’s just working on his career. He’s just a product of a society that’s literally built on terrifying kids. I don’t know why this one bugs me—probably because it’s that it’s packaged as this funny, kid-friendly, feel-good thing and I know that’s crap.

Anyway, that’s my word. Gimme your thoughts on this one and I’ll catch you tomorrow!

MAYHEM OF THE MOUSE – MALEFICENT

DI told you I’d be back…provided the stomach flu decided to release its grip on me. Well, today was solid food day—the first day since Sunday that everything I ate stayed where it belonged. Earned a couple pounds back too. I’m not gaining weight though: I’m retaining food. Yay!!

To add to the frivolity, my email reminded me that today Rocky the WonderDog celebrates his 467th birthday (seriously, he’s been with us for 2 years but I think he was Jesus’s dog. He’s old.)

Anyway, as long as we’re celebrating birthdays, how about a gift? How about some villains? I said I’d bring back the Disney villains and we start with one of the oldest: Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.

Now, I am not a Sleeping Beauty fan. Not at all. Among the lame Disney movies I’ve seen, I always this one was up right near the top, just below Bambi and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Some of that is age, some of it is true lameness. But after watching, I have to reconsider. Check it out.

The movie starts out like any other Once Upon a Timer, all singing birds and trumpets and prancing horses and whatever. The perfect queen and her perfect husband are celebrating the birth of their perfect daughter and the whole kingdom is present and enraptured and I want to gag. And THEN the fairies come and bless the child with beauty and a good voice and some other shit—sewing ability or something. If the fairies wouldn’t have come, would the child have grown hooked and sounding like Danny DeVito? I wonder…

Anyway, the fairies come and make lil Aurora’s perfect life perfecter, right? And this is in the first 20 minutes (because the credits are like 12 minutes long). Where can this movie go?

Then Maleficent shows up and it gets all Real Housewives of Disney.

This chick is so pissed that she didn’t GET INVITED to the baby shower or whatever, she decides her gift is the child is live to be 16, prick her finger and die. WHAT?? What kind of shit is that? I leave you off the guest list and you kill my kid? And then she leaves! And that’s the movie!! The king don’t send his soldiers after her, the fairies ain’t shit—there are three of them and they can’t undo Maleficent’s spell, they can only put the girl in a coma. Boooo!

Then the movie gets boring. The fairies take Aurora from her parents like Child Protective Services. She learns to sing one song and then sing to the freaking birds. Then the girl sees Prince Phillip in the woods and falls in love because they know the same song, there’s a bunch of bullshit about whether the dress should be pink or blue and then Aurora falls asleep.

OK as villains go, you gotta give ol girl her credit. You wanna talk about a social slight? This chick didn’t get an invite so she kills the princess (or tries to). What would have happened if her chicken dinner didn’t sit right? Or if you skip her birthday party? Or don’t buy her Girl scout cookies? The whole kingdom lives in fear so they do NOTHING. Nothing! When the prince tries to free her, Maleficent captures him and his horse, then puts up like 100 yards of thorn bushes at a castle all the way across town.

I gotta take a moment to talk about the sheer meanness of Disney villains. I’ve spoken about Cruella DeVille wanting to kill puppies so she can wear them, right? That’s fucked up. Or the Evil Queen trying to kill Snow White because she was prettier. But how do you kill a child because you didn’t get invited to the party? I mean Damn. And, as an aside, I do have to mention the foulness of the fairies: rather than let the king and queen and townspeople know Aurora might be dead, they just put everybody to sleep. What kind of shit is that?

Your girl is mean, petty, powerful, feared and actually wants nothing from the protagonist. Maleficent doesn’t give a damn about Aurora. She doesn’t. She just didn’t get invited. Think about that. This is a whole movie where the villain is completely unphased by the hero. It’s not even Aurora’s movie; it’s Philip’s. They shouldn’t have called the movie Sleeping Beauty; it’s more like an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

And if that’s not foul enough, Maleficent can turn into a dragon. A dragon?

I think she just won Disney.

Back At It…Sorta

So I’m finally back at it. Kinda. I know, I know, you missed me. Hell, I missed me. And I’ve been a little busy: in these last few days I had a business trip and applied to grad school. You heard right: I. Applied. To. Graduate. School. See, I glanced at a calendar and realized that I have EXACTLY 24 days until I turn 40. Forty? When the hell did I get to 40?

Godammit.

Anyway, something said I should grow up a little bit and up my professional game. So I applied for a Masters of Science in Human-Centered Design and Engineering program, which is a formal way saying I’m trying to get a degree to be the dude who makes it easier for you to do what you do online. I think the University of Washington’s title is better. Provided everything goes well, I’ll learning some new stuff this fall. Fingers crossed.

And, for the second year in a row, I began my weight loss endeavors in earnest. This year though, I said to hell with exercise and P90X and all that bullshit. I decided to try a fool-proof, quick acting weight loss solution: the stomach flu. Yes folks, I’ve already lost 6 pounds and strengthened my core at the same time! I think I dropped 2 dress sizes in 36 hours! Not only that, I was energy-efficient too: my high fever allowed my wife to keep her coffee hot on my belly while the kids roasted marshmallows on my forehead. In addition to the expected side-effects, the high fever gave me some super-spectacular delusions: I apparently told my wife I couldn’t get up because I didn’t have the letter R to spell REACH (don’t ask).

In the midst of my fever-induced haze, I realized haven’t given you what you really come here for: villains. So I have a plan to fix all that. I’m gonna finish what I started, and together we’re going to get to that 100 villain threshold. First with Mayhem of the Mouse—I still have some leftover Disney-inspired baddies to review before I finish that series. Then we get back into the remainder of the Festival of Fiendishness—I have dozens of villains from comic books, movies, literature to go over before we’re all done.

And, provided my stomach gives up its war against food, all that starts tomorrow. Sorry so short, folks, but my weight loss plan demands my attention.

 

See ya!

Hey 2012! You Can Kick Rocks!

2013-Wallpaper-HD-10Kick Rocks! So long! Don’t let the door hit ya! Yep, this was my sentiment going into the New Year. Considering how the last couple months have been here on the ranch, I was more than happy to say Happy Trails to the last 366 days (you did remember last year was a Leap Year, right?) We do that: tend to focus on the last thing, on the most recent image or feeling or tone. Our proximity to current events makes us forget the bigger picture.

I started this year poking fingers at myself (and rocking Hello Kitty earphones) and ended it pointing fingers at someone else (and having a grand old time doing it). Along the way, though, this blog moved from a self-help soliloquy on how to make it in this world and write about it to a comedy-laced exploration of villainy and all its repercussions. In that process, I’ve learned that I’m a lot of things: I have a Superman-complex, I hate limits, and still I have an unresolved disdain for a certain stuffed animatronic bear.

I’m working on that.

So let’s look back over the year. Last December, I laid out a list of goals I wanted to achieve over the course of 2012, both as an author and as a publisher:

Author Goals

  • Write a blog post every other day
  • Complete 2 book reviews a month
  • Participate in 1 Blog Tour in 2012
  • Complete 1 script through ScriptFrenzy
  • Complete 1 novel by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Publishing Goals

  • Sell 10,000 copies of The Road to Hell (90% digital 10% hard copy)
  • Obtain 10 reviews
  • Obtain 5 author quotes
  • Sign 2 additional authors
  • Publish 2 books (1 novel, 1 anthology) through Sanford House Press

Looking at these, I’m trying to figure what in the world I was smoking. I also had a job to keep, a family to lead, pounds to lose, a dog to walk. These were lofty, aggressive goals to be sure and some of them I hit, some I glanced off, and some I just whiffed entirely. Let’s look at the rundown:

  • Write a blog post every other day. Well (in my Ronald Reagan voice) I came pretty close—140 posts in 2012. That comes out to about a post every 2 ½ days. I can live with that.
  • 2 book reviews per month. The Boy saw me reading a book the other day and actually said, “You can read?” Let’s just say I missed this one. By a mile.
  • Participate in 1 blog tour in 2012. Hey! Wouldja look at that! I was a part of 3 blog tours in 2012. Maybe that will offset the lack of reviews. Maybe…
  • Complete 1 Script through ScriptFrenzy. Huh? See what had happened was…do I get bonus points for them closing down ScriptFrenzy entirely? Miss.
  • Complete 1 novel through NaNoWriMo. I’m gonna take a “Kinda” on this one. I’ve been working on my new novel, Come Hell or High Water, all year and officially crossed the 50,000 word mark last week. But a bunch of stuff got in the way and the whole thing got delayed.

So looking at my personal writing goals, I’d have to give myself a solid C, maybe a C-. Nothing spectacular but I’m just ahead of the curve. I gotta do better though.

On the publishing front, it’s about the same, maybe a bit better. I think I’d give myself a B-:

  • Sell 10,000 copies of The Road to Hell. Yeah, that shit didn’t happen. I knew this was ambitious. I didn’t know how utterly damn difficult it would be. It’s actually laughable. At this rate, we’ll have another president and be 2 years into their term by the time I hit this target. Gotta change strategies.
  • Obtain 10 reviews. Nailed it!
  • Obtain 5 author quotes. I had a good run this year on publication thing and getting author interest in my work was pretty easy…and prolific. 100% on this one too.
  • Sign 2 additional authors. I had an opportunity to work with a couple authors and help develop their work. No one’s there yet and I ended up focusing on my own stuff instead.
  • Publish 2 books (a novel & an anthology). So it didn’t happen in 2012. It will in 2013. The goal was to have Come Hell or High Water done by now. Things happened. I can say it will be done in early 2013 well…come Hell or high water. And the anthology? This was an idea that hit me in the middle of the year: once I hit 100 villains, I’ll pull it together into Crooked Letterz’ Big Book of Villainy Volume 1. I’d love to hear what you think about this one.

All in all, 2012 was more than okay for me on a literary front. I did alright, I guess. Without specifics (I’m still working on those), I’ll simply resolve to do better. Be stronger. Faster. Become world’s first bionic…author? Yeah, something like that.

Actually I did better than alright. Sure, my own metrics leave a lot to be desired but I found something I didn’t plan on when I wrote those. I found my calling. My voice. My brand. Something that’s a part of me now. That puts me in a different place than I was a year ago. I think I’m better off as a result.

The latter part of the year made me re-evaluate what I thought was important. Made me refocus my attention on what—and who—is closest to me. I still have goals and they’re still relatively the same. I haven’t stopped being that achievement-oriented person I’ve always been. But life doesn’t really give a shit about your hard metrics, your targets and goals. Life lives. It breathes. It throws monkey-wrenches in your plans and confounds your expectations and fucks up what you meant to do. Life is sick kids and ill spouses and aging dogs. It’s sleepless nights and amazing movies and unbridled laughter and inconsolable sadness.

It’s what is important.

It makes for fantastic storytelling. And, no matter what, it’ll make for a fantastic 2013.

Oh yeah, remember those 60 pounds? Well, 10 of them are gone. It ain’t perfect but it’s a start. I’ll take it.