FESTIVAL OF FEINDISHNESS: BARNABAS COLLINS

Boo ProductionsA little bit ago, when I was consistently writing my blog and working my book and supplying you with much needed hits to feed your villainy addiction, I solicited input for who my next villain should be. My good friend, Miss Melodee, read what I said about Lestat the Vampire and suggested I tackle one of her personal favorites: Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows.

So I will. And I’m going to owe my friend a hearty apology too.

I don’t know much about Dark Shadows. I remember it was a show that I clicked past when it was on TV in the late 70s/early 80s while trying to find my next episode of Silver Spoons—I loved that Ricky Schroeder and his in-house model train. Or maybe I flipped past it on my way to Friday Night Videos (yes, I’m hitting you with all the old stuff!) Either way, I never watched the show. So when Melodee suggested it and my wife said, “Oh yeah, I remember that!” I decided to give it a try.

And folks I genuinely tried to give this a fair shake. But boooooooo!! This ranks among some of the lousiest things I have seen. Seriously. And I’ve seen some raggedy shit: Escape From LA, Wings, TJ Hooker, my son’s 5th grade choir concert where they sang Rhythm Is Gonna Get You—poorly. I have a high tolerance for poor cinema but DAMN!

Before I go too far, I should probably introduce our subject for the evening: Barnabas Collins. From what I could surmise from the show and the movie, Barnabas was a well-to-do English guy come to the New World to exploit it. He fell in love with a woman, much to the chagrin of his housekeeper (who was a lot less Mrs. Garrett and a whole lot more of the red-haired chick from American Horror Story—go ahead and look her up, I’ll wait). Anyway, the housekeeper loves Barnabas from afar while Barnabas loves some girl same Josette. But instead of spitting in his coffee or refusing to give him turn down service or whatever, the housekeeper becomes a witch, murders his whole family and drives Josette to jump off a cliff.

Did you read that?

Your girl was so caught up with Barnabas that she learned dark magic to kill everything and everyone he loved. Oh yeah, then she cursed him to be a vampire so he’d have to live forever without the one he loved the most.

This is fucked up! That meant I was intrigued. I got my popcorn, some red Kool Aid and was ready to dive in. Now I had high hopes: Dark Shadows has had two television series since the 60s and was a just released as a major motion picture. But I was fair, went straight to the source material and tried to watch original series on Netflix. Guys, that shit lasted 17 minutes. I got as far as some dude looking entirely too old to be arguing with his dad about where he’d been and then he was digging in a mausoleum for God-knows-what and I threw that shit out my Instant Queue. Didn’t make any damn sense. This isn’t…I thought…it just sucked. Maybe I’d have better luck with the movie.

Now I really couldn’t go wrong: this movie is starring Johnny “Sparra!” Depp and Michelle Pfieffer’s sexy tail (she’ll always be CatWoman to me). Directed by Tim Burton. It even had Hit Girl from Kick Ass. This had to be awesome, right? And look at the material. Short of watching Johnny eat a bunch of people at a construction site, this was the most inane piece of drivel I’ve seen in a LONG time and I watch Maury on the regular. This is an actual line from the movie, “Mom, I’m a werewolf, no need to make a big deal about it. Woof.” She actually said Woof.

I sat through this garbage because I said I would. Because I swore there had to be something redeeming about it. I mean this was 2 hours I can NEVER get back just so I could watch Johnny Depp yell at the TV, kill a bunch of hippies, and fight with a witch who got killed by a chandelier? And if you thought I spoiled the movie, that would be supposing there was something worthwhile to see. I’m going to find some TJ Hooker

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Fine…I’m Listening

big-ear3This has been an interesting week. I’ve been having these conversations that are pushing me to step my game up. To respect that I’m grown.

I took my little Honey Badger to archery this week. Now you might be thinking, “Dude, the Honey Badger don’t care. You think giving her a weapon is a good idea?” Fair point. And when I said that to her, she gave me her Most Interesting Man in the World speech: “Dad, I know I don’t always listen but, when I do, it’s because someone might die. I won’t shoot anybody.” I think that’s as good as it gets.

Anyway, I sign the little monster up, take her to the class and she gets a brief set of instructions, a safety kit (that remains in the plastic bag), and gets fitted for a bow. Now, the woman leading the class is braver than anyone I know: there are 8 kids in the class, one of them is so young I swear he got breast milk on his breath, another is going through Ritalin withdrawal, and this chick is outfitting them with live weapons. But that’s beside the point: kids get their bows and arrows, learn some whistle commands and they set balloons on the targets. Teacher blows the whistle and my girl becomes Katniss! POW! Balloon pops on the first shot. Lil Man is right behind her: he can’t form a complete sentence but he is Hawkeye on the range.

Still, I’m proud of my girl and on the way home, she asks me why I didn’t sign up to take the class too. Aside from it being for kids, I say that I just really wanted her to have the opportunity to learn stuff I never did. To do the things I never had a chance to. I tell her I’m trying to raise adventurers and explorers, that I never want her to be scared of life. Then she says, “Well, now why don’t you do the things you always wanted to? You can do them now, can’t you?”

You can do them now. What can I say to that? Nothing, right? So I said the only thing I could: “You know, you’re right.”

I hate when they’re right.

Yesterday, I decided to hang out with The Boy. He’s been a bundle of bad decisions and bad grades and is stuck in a cycle of fuckitness (yes, it is a real word—ask any other parent). Still, for all my frustrations at his 13-year-old bullshit, I can’t be all bad cop. There has to be a safe place for him to land, even when he’s making it harder for himself.

I called myself spending quality time. He called it trying to school me on the basketball court. My body called it a bad idea. Folks, I am a whopping 5’6”, 5’7” in my Nikes. The Boy is already taller than me and plays on local teams, during recess, and when he’s on punishment. Which means he gets to play a lot. The last time I played basketball, I was trying to seduce my wife by shooting free throws in the Magic Johnson game at Dave & Busters. Before that, I needed to pass so I could graduate. From high school.

I’m huffing and puffing, chasing his young ass across the concrete, feeling my heart pounding in my chest and getting that “I’m too hot, I think I might throw up, geez I feel light-headed” feeling. I call a time out. Again. He looks at me while I’m panting and says, “You need to workout more. Maybe twice a week at the Y.” I wanted to cuss him out, tell him his young, no ball-hair-having-ass can shut the hell up but I can’t even breathe and am wishing I brought my inhaler to the freaking court. Perhaps the kid is right.

Godammit.

Which brings me to my last conversation. You may recall, I have this job that I call my Day Job Dragon. I tussle with it, embrace it, curse at it, but continue to show up every damn day because I really like heat and health insurance. One of the things on my List of Things To Do At 40 is to get a promotion. I just want to be recognized for what I do. What I hadn’t really realized is that a promotion, an advancement to do the same thing, was a sort of professional insanity. Yeah, recognition is great but if it’s really just the same thing with more stress and more money, is it worth it? What excited me about the idea of a promotion was that it represented a change.

That’s what I really needed. A change.

So, on Friday, I slayed my dragon. I quit my job. Oh I still have that nagging addiction to food, shelter, heat and lights. And my kids constantly let me know they’re hungry. But how I meet those needs changes. Because The Boy told me there are some things I should do to take care of me. Because a little girl told me I can do the things I want to do now. Because it’s taken me 40 years to figure out what’s important.

Now things get fun…

Getting My Vader On

darth vaderHey there friends and foes! Welcome back to Crooked Letterz—the blog for your most villainous desires, now new and improved for the Grown and Sexy set. It’s March and that means a few things: the sad closing of my 40th birthday extravaganza (yes, it was the extended dance remix birthday), college basketball tournaments, and another hearty helping of villainy goodness.

I know I’ve been away too long—aww baby don’t be like that, come back lemme explain: I was incarcerated committed out of fucks to give on hiatus for a little while, trying to get my head together. You know at the end of Star Wars how Darth Vader is about to blow Luke Skywalker’s shit out the sky then Han Solo rolls in with his Millennium Falcon sending Vader flipping in space and giving Luke the greenlight to blow the Death Star up? And you know how then in The Empire Strikes Back Vader comes back raw, choking MFs through the TV and cutting off people’s hands and freezing them and shit? I’m right in the middle of those two movies: things were clicking along and then The Boy shows up with his little teenage X-wing drama bullshit, the Day Job Dragon swooped in its Millennium Falcon, the Honey Badger was roaring like Chewbacca, I cool missed two book deadlines, and the next thing I knew I was spinning in space watching all my shit blow up.

Godammit.

Now the movies don’t tell you how Vader went from overseeing the largest intelligence snafu in Empire history (losing the stolen plans), letting his high-value prisoner escape cuz he fucking with some old man and allowing some punk farm boy blow up his Death Star to the shiny helmeted cat talking about “You have failed me for the last time,” and snatching Han Solo’s gun away from across the room. He even ended up with his own theme music.

I like to imagine Vader in some distant bar, maybe a strip club even, sucking down cheap drinks, trying to get the smell of smoke and stripper glitter out his cape, wondering how he sunk so low. He was the most fearsome cat in the galaxy and then some punk without hair on his balls comes along and fucks everything up? You gotta think Darth Vader is second-guessing himself hard, right? I mean, he spent years hunting down and killing the coldest folks in the galaxy, sending the last ones standing to the desert and the jungle—alone—and a girl with CinnaBons on her head outwitted him? A man in a vest ENTIRELY too short for his body and his walking dog got the drop on him?

And at some point, after Cinnamon and Paisley gave him his last lap dance, Vader had to finally look around and get his Richard Pryor on: “I’m Darth MF Vader! I ain’t even got no daddy: the Force made me! They said I’m the Chosen One! I’m gonna find the MFs who did this shit and MAKE THEM PAY!” And pimp walked out the club. Next time you see him, he’s sending his fleet to Antarctica and choking people for coming out of hyperspace too soon.

The point here is there is only so low anyone of us can go before we have to get up and choke out our misery. For me, that means getting on the ball with my book and my blog, taming that damn Day Job Dragon, and making the Boy as miserable as possible.

In the meantime, here are a couple Muppet NewsFlashes for you. First, some of you may be wondering what the hell is going on with my second novel. I have a release date for ya! Earth Day is Monday, April 22—I’m gonna let my girl Terra Harmony release her final book in the Akasha series and let you celebrate the planet before Lucifer gets about the business of tearing it up. That means Come Hell or High Water drops on Tuesday, April 23! Second, you probably wanna know where this blog is going. Back to the villains! We’re done with the Disney villains (for now) and will be rolling out a new slate of baddies for ya! That starts tomorrow!

That’s my word! The March Madness villain series kicks off tomorrow with Barnabas, the vampire from Dark Shadows!