Midnight Prayers

Dollar Store Novels for Free

Month: April, 2013

Day Eighty-Four: Jason Collins

There isn’t much more to be written that hasn’t already been put so perfectly to page by the man himself.  In a tremendously moving personal essay appearing in the next issue of Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins didn’t just depart into the uncharted territory of being an openly gay athlete in a major professional league, he also managed to channel the right tone for a discussion of sexuality in sport to finally formally find traction.  For all the courage it took to write this article, it is the way Mr. Collins wrote it that may be his biggest accomplishment, remaining both honest and hopeful, managing to represent both the struggle and the beauty of his journey, and reminding us gently that love is love, brothers are brothers, and basketball is just that: basketball.

“Everyone is terrified of the unknown, but most of us don’t want to return to a time when minorities were openly discriminated against. I’m impressed with the straight pro athletes who have spoken up so far — Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo. The more people who speak out, the better, gay or straight. It starts with President Obama’s mentioning the 1969 Stonewall riots, which launched the gay rights movement, during his second inaugural address. And it extends to the grade-school teacher who encourages her students to accept the things that make us different.”

Day Eighty-Three: Some Towns are Shadows, Fading in the Rain

7:30: Wake up

 

The sheets are wet.  Again.  I didn’t piss the bed, well not quite.  It’s sweat, which is one part urine, one part water, and, in this case, all parts fear.  So, in a way, I did piss the bed.  Just not in the way my little brother Tommy used to when we were growing up.  “If I have something to drink, I’ll wet the bed.”  He slept on the top bunk.

Waking up to soaking sheets wasn’t new.  It was comforting.

The sun invades my bedroom through two wall length windows to my right.  I haven’t gotten around to buying curtains yet.  I know better than to turn towards the sun.  Instead, I face the white wall opposite the windows.  The sunlight projects a shadow there.  The image is enormous compared to the real thing.  It isn’t a reflection, but not quite a lie.

The shadow on the wall begins to shift.  The lump on the bed stirs, changing form.  It travels across the wall and towards the doorway.

Not a reflection, but not quite a lie.

 

7:40: Review Schedule

 

The schedule for the day is posted on the refrigerator.  The black lump stands against the wall beside me while I read how my day will hopefully play out.  Each minute is accounted for.

Dr. Lewis suggested the schedule to me.  He said it would keep me focused.  It would keep me out of my own head.  It would, eventually, keep my sheets dry.

“Being alone in your head is a very dangerous place to be,” he would say, “Always stay focused on completing a task.  Live every minute with a singular devoted purpose.  Have a goal for that minute, and constantly work to achieve each of those goals.  Don’t settle for anything less than a full day of perfect minutes.  Then move onto seconds.”

I haven’t even perfected hours.

 

7:50: Breakfast

 

I eat the same meal everyday: ham, mushroom, and Swiss cheese omelet accompanied by two slices of lightly burnt, heavily buttered toast and one glass of orange juice.  Fresh squeezed.  It’s more time consuming that way.  I’ve learned to use as much time as possible on each task, to take the long road.  This is why I grow my own oranges instead of buying a carton.  Self-sufficiency kills time.

Unaccounted for time is the biggest danger.  I have to stay out of my own head.  This is the only thing I’m sure of.  Dr. Lewis told me to make a schedule.

The black lump mimics me.

It’s free to follow me along the unbroken white walls in my house.  Dr. Lewis doesn’t know about the lump from my bed.  Dr. Lewis does know about my dreams.  He does know about my journal, another suggestion, where I write down my dreams.  Or, as he puts it, my “visions”.  Write them down when they’re clear in my mind, right after I wake up.

I didn’t write down last night’s vision.  It didn’t fit into my schedule.  Breakfast is first.  It’s always first.  I have to make a few changes so I can have some time to write.  I should take time away from showering.  Five minutes.  Dr. Lewis told me that one day I could put all my writings into a book.  Make some money off my condition.

Exploit my madness; this could be my method.

Dr. Lewis said that all great artists were mad and that great novels were the offspring of insanity and talent.  Vonnegut had seen war.  Fitzgerald had seen wealth.

I had seen murder.

Once as a bystander, but now as the executioner.  The villain.

When the light is gone, and the black lump disappeared, I dream in murder, a new victim every night.  I’m the one silencing their screams.  I’m the one watching their eyes roll back from this life and into their head.  There is no pattern to my murders, Dr. Lewis says, only the fact that I am the one committing them remains the same.  Each victim is different.  Faces from a crowd.  An extra from the movies I’m no longer permitted to watch.

Dr. Lewis isn’t right about everything, though, because I haven’t told him everything.  I never told him about the warmth that spreads beneath my skin, holding me, when I watch them fight to keep their lives.  I didn’t mention the feeling that I could change the future, that I could control and shape the world.  Most people spend their entire lives trying to make a difference.  I had already achieved that, if only in my head.

I am giving these people a personalized Judgment Day.  Everyone is the center of his or her own universe, and I’m ending each one, destroying it completely within minutes.  Dr. Lewis says people always remember others for their final moments, that there is something special in those fleeting seconds.  I’m giving them these moments.  I give their lives meaning, briefly.

But there’s a monster in there, hidden.  Something that knows God laughs at our plans and wants him to look at what it has done and weep.  I don’t know if they deserve it.  I’m not sure it would matter.  There is a monster in my head, hidden.

Dr. Lewis wants to keep me out of my head.  He told me to always stay focused.

 

8:10: Write

Last night’s victim was an older man.  He slept alone, didn’t scream too much.  It was almost as if he was expecting me, even hoping I would come.  His eyes were full with tears, but he never cried.   He didn’t even try to escape.

In my head I could manipulate the world however I felt.  I could deny a man his future, a chance to see his grandkids grow up.  If he had any.  In my head I wasn’t a God, but not quite a human.

When he stopped breathing, I woke up, suddenly outside my head.  My sheets were soaking.

 

8:40: Mow the Lawn

 

I had told Dr. Lewis about the murders but lied about how I felt during them.  This kept him calm.  If he knew the truth, he would begin to worry again.  It would be just like our first sessions together.  He used to think I was going to start living out my dreams.  After a while, his fears wore down.

My hands aren’t strong enough to do it anyway, to kill someone.  I haven’t told Dr. Lewis, but I’ve never really had that kind of strength as long as I can remember.  I remember hunting with my dad.  I remember missing the deer, shooting the ground directly in front of it.  I remember the force of the shot knocking me back and getting pulled up, “Son, you’re going out a youngster, but coming home a hunter.”  He was wrong.

But I had to stay focused.

.

The bed lump stalks me while I mow the lawn.  It’s pushing a stroller across the freshly-cut grass.  All the houses in my development are white.  I cut in straight lines.  I’m not hard to lose.

 

9:10: Visit Elaine

 

Elaine isn’t a person.  Well, not anymore.  A person is consciousness and thought.  We think therefore we are.  She doesn’t think therefore she isn’t.  She can’t be again.

Elaine was murdered.  Now leaves fall and decay above here.  Her name is the only memorial, a monument of what once was.

I kneel in front of the rotting wooden cross that hides beneath the trees in our backyard.  My backyard.  I stopped bringing her flowers years ago.  They would always die too.  I’d only brought her name.

Elaine, when she still existed, asked to be buried back here so that she wouldn’t be in a cemetery. She wanted to embrace her transformation.  She didn’t even want a marker.  I broke that promise.  I need to know where her body is, where she doesn’t exist.  I hold her name and her words.  “Wouldn’t it be lovely if we were old?  We’d have survived all this.”  All I can remember are her eyes, how you could tell she was alive just looking at them.

I was Butch Cassidy.

I run my hands through the grass she’s helping grow.  Even after death she remained nurturing.  She was nurturing.  She is nurturing.  She always will be nurturing.  But under my knees there is also a memorial to the power of murder, same as the power in my head.

Dr. Lewis has theories.  That’s all he has.  No facts.  No diagnosis.  Just theories.  Theories he uses to help me understand my condition.  The most interesting of these theories is that I developed this condition to cope with my wife’s murder.  He says I want the world to feel how I felt.  I want to take away someone that other people care about.  Not revenge, but not quite malice.

 

9:30: Clean the House

 

The schedule is thrown off again.  I spent more than the allotted twenty minutes visiting Elaine’s memorial.  It’s almost time for my meeting with Dr. Lewis.  Before that, I have to clean the house.

Vacuum, sweep, dust, and wipe everything down.  The house looks exactly as it did before.  Exactly as it has since I moved in.  Since Elaine and I moved in.

 

10:00: Meet With Dr. Lewis

 

Dr. Lewis is always on time, and I’m never ready.  When the doorbell rings, the bed lump runs after me while I finish putting my supplies away.  If anything is out of place, Dr. Lewis will think I’m not following my schedule, and I would have to start on medication again.  When I first met Dr. Lewis, he had me heavily medicated.  He slowly weaned me off, seeing if my “visions” got any worse.  They didn’t.

I finally answer the door, and Dr. Lewis smiles at me and asks if I’m ready for him.  “Certainly,” I barely get out.  I had been behind on my schedule, but I made up time nicely.  Still, I’m nervous.

“Becoming unfocused again?” Dr. Lewis asks, but I know he’s only feigning suspicion.  He knows this whole concept of time management is difficult for me.  It’s the reason that I could never hold a full-time job.  I’m still living off Elaine’s life insurance.  Dr. Lewis handles that for me, but he promised that I would be fit to work soon.  I just need to prove I can handle it first.

“I took some extra time to write down my dreams this morning.  I wanted to make sure it was all there.  So you could find a pattern.”

We sit on the two white couches in my living room.  He speaks calmly,   “Thank you, you know that’s very helpful, but I’m afraid finding a pattern is becoming more and more difficult.  In every dream, you seem to be going after a person from a different race, social class, and gender.  This is only going off the writings you have given me.  If you could note all of your surroundings in the dreams a little more clearly, maybe the settings could form a pattern.”

I’m a detective in my own crime.

“Would you like some tea, Dr. Lewis?”

“No, thank you.  I just came from Mr. Francois’s house and had more than my fill of tea.  Can we begin?  My son has a soccer game at 4, and I still have to see a few more patients, some that require much longer visits.”

“Please, go right ahead.”

He pulls out a pad and paper and a folder with my name on it.  “Okay.  Other than your dream last night, have you had any other visions today?  Any at all?  Even for a split second?”

“No,” I lie.  He writes this down.

“Have you heard any voices or heard any screaming?  Anything instructing you?  Scaring you?”

I lie again, “No.”  He writes that down.

“Have you had any hallucinations?  Have you seen any people who aren’t actually there?”

This time I don’t lie, “No.”  He writes that down.

“Can you read to me what you have written down about last night’s vision?”

I tell him about the old man, the empty bed, and the tears.  He takes notes and shuffles through his papers while I talk.  I’m distracted.  I look out my window, staring just below the sun.  When I finish, he closes the folder and puts his pad inside.  He stands up.  His work here is done.

“It seems like you’re doing very well, and I’m encouraged by your progress.  Daytime visions are down to zero.  You’re sticking to the schedule.  You should be very pleased with these results.”

“I am.”

Dr. Lewis heads towards the front door.  “Until next time…”

“Wait,” I interrupt him.  I never interrupt him.  It’s a sign of aggression, which is not a good thing to indicate I am capable of.  “You said… I mean, I remember we talked about me returning to work.  When I was doing… I’m doing better.”

“So we did,” Dr. Lewis advances calmly.  “I think it would be best if we gave it another few weeks, see if the visions stay in your dreams.  You’ve made a lot of progress, so it’s not all bad news.  We’ll look into some working options in a couple weeks.  How does that sound?”

“How does it sound?”  My face fills with blood, and that heat, and Dr. Lewis steps in front of the window, into the sunlight.  I can only see where he isn’t.  I stand up.

“You should stay seated,” Dr. Lewis warns.  “I understand you’re upset, but you don’t want to regress.  Show me you can suppress this.  If you want to work again, you have to suppress this anger.”

“I’m going to be angry if there’s something to be angry about,” I snarl, reaching down to launch my teacup across the room.  Its brown contents sweep down the wall, recklessly rolling onto the floor. “I’ve been hiding for years!  You’ve been hiding.  You’ve been hiding me.”  The volume has been turned up.  It’s all in my ears: the birds, the old pipes, but no cars.  There were never any cars.

“Thoughts of anger are as guilty as actions.  You know that.  One leads to the other.”

“But I haven’t done anything!  I’ve never hurt anyone!  You act as if I didn’t hire you.  I asked for your help.  What if I don’t need it anymore?  Would you even tell me?”  I walk towards Dr. Lewis.  I feel like I’m on strings, as if someone is pulling me forward.  I’m just trying to keep up.  My right hand is firm and steady, clenched in a tight fist.

“You never asked for my help,” Dr. Lewis says, still lost in the sunlight.  “Not you. “

“I did.  I remember I did.  That number… 555-9818.  I called you.  That day plays in my head a lot, like a movie reel.  Over and over.”

“You don’t have a telephone,” Dr. Lewis words fade out.  Suddenly I’m in a different house.  It’s all brick.  I’m walking down a dark hallway towards the sound of screaming.  A woman is screaming.  Then I run towards a closed door, surrounded in light escaping through the space between door and frame.  I lower my shoulder, launching myself at it.  The door is thrown from its hinges.  I look up at a woman, still screaming, on the bed.  She’s holding a phone but only screams.  I can hear a faint voice on the other end, so I knock it away.

She looks familiar.

I put my hands on her throat, crushing her will.  I am powerful.  And then: the apocalypse.  She stops moving.  She’s not breathing.  Another universe brought to an end.

I stand up to admire the ruins.  I try to put a name to the lifeless, familiar face, to recognize someone.  Then there’s the trigger.  The face I couldn’t picture even though I try everyday.

Elaine.

The walls fall around me, coming down and leaving me, alone, with her, in darkness.  I cry.  I’m without the visions now.  I don’t want to see anymore.  Then I’m gone.

 

10:25: Water the Garden

I wake up.  Dr. Lewis is next to me.  Well not Dr. Lewis.  What once was Dr. Lewis.  The memorial to Dr. Lewis.  He still has my handprints burned into his neck.  The ground around us is still warm.  I hold his name.

His folder is open, its contents spilled over the floor beside his body.  I reach over and grab a stack.  There are pictures.  All of them faces from my dreams.  Not drawings, but pictures.  Photographs.  Dr. Lewis’s handwriting is beside them.  I had been identifying victims.  My victims.  My real victims, not just in my head.  It was all a confession.

And then there are the movies, the memories.  The hunting and the words.  Elaine’s hair.  Tommy.  They’re all there on paper in titles I knew I could have recognized before, that I had recognized once.  But not now.  I couldn’t know them.  It didn’t work that way.

I see the front door.  It’s locked.  I lower my shoulder, launching myself.  Nothing.  I keep going.  I feel my shoulder dislocate.  The pain is sudden, but the door finally gives way.

I stumble out onto the sidewalk and into the pure sunlight, falling forward towards the entrance to the development.  I haven’t been outside these walls in three years, maybe more.  For the first time I wish the world could be just these houses, just this block.  I know I can’t leave, but this isn’t about leaving.  It never was.

A woman wearing a white coat, same as Dr. Lewis, is walking on the other side of the street.  She seems to know me.  I don’t recognize her.  She just watches me.  Frozen.

10:35: Laundry

 

I reach the entrance.  I’ve never thought of it as an exit before.  The gate is open.  I’m a little let down.  Freedom is never an open gate.  But this isn’t freedom.

I cross the threshold and something under my skin starts to pulse, beginning in my head then spreading throughout.  Electricity. It rattles everything, and I fall to the pavement, finally noticing a city in the distance smothered in light.   There’s no control anymore, no free will.  I fall out of history.

Then another trigger.  One more vision.  And it becomes reality.  A new history.  I dream therefore I remember.  Therefore, I always was.

 

10:45: Self Examination

 

The sunlight diminishes above me.  My sky fades out.  Then everything slows.  My breath.  My heart.

This is my decision.  I was given a choice, and I made this one.  I never wore a wedding ring.  I always knew this, but the light had been too bright.

The bed lump lies motionless beside me on the pavement.  I stop breathing.  My heart stops.  It all stops.  Everything is over.

Dr. Lewis created the shadows.  Not reflections, but not quite lies.

Day Eighty-Two: An Excerpt and Requiem for “Swimming Pools (Drank)”

Because there is so much to read, listen to, and watch at any given beat of the national culture’s pulse, this distillation process becomes a something of a necessity in order to keep up.  It is needed to tell us what songs to listen to rather than what albums, even creating terms such as “Single” to do this.  We interact with Eminem through his fits of celebrity-focused rage rather than being confronted with the fact that those types of songs are just part of his deliberately fractured lyrical psyche.  More troublingly, similar losses of context can distort the meaning of a song or simply lose it all together.  There is no better example of this than rapper Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 single “Swimming Pools (Drank)”.  The ninth song on the young Compton native’s magnum opus good kid, m.A.A.d city, “Swimming Pools” presents Kendrick Lamar’s mostly autobiographical narrator reflecting on the casual alcoholism that plagued his personal narrative.  The jaded verses are distinctly offset with a gaudy, bombastic hook that is injected with the very attitudes Lamar is actively rejecting.  Despite this brilliant dichotomy, the song was sold on hook alone, and became a radio mainstay[1].  The version played on the radio, which was also the version marketed as the “Single”, cut short the final moments of Kendrick’s own narration where the hook becomes distorted and overrun by a throbbing baseline and musings on why his girlfriend is unconscious.  This is the distillation process at its most dangerous: when it robs the artist of creative intent.


[1] Not to mention its frequent appearances on the basement binge-drinking playlists of confused college students.

Day Eighty-One: A Facebook History of a Proposed Mighty Ducks Reboot

In the wake of Patton Oswalt’s unreal Star Wars Fillibuster, I thought it was time to put this Facebook conversation/Reboot pitch that took place in March of last year.  In one post and 44 comments, my brother, sister, and I worked through the rough outline of the best possible reboot Disney has to offer: D4: The Mighty Ducks.  What follows is that Facebook conversation, mostly unedited.  I’d like to put this forward as an official application for the three of us to get a multiple-movie deal with Disney to continue the inspiring legacy of Gordon Bombay and his team.  The initial post was inspired by a YouTube video that featured the “Top 10 Players Playing out of Position”.  The video featured the coach of a hockey team suiting up and finishing the game with his team.  This is where it went from there:

My Initial Post on My Brother’s Wall

So #1 unreal that they leave out Roy Oswalt in Left Field or Valdez pitching… but #2 go to 2:07 when you, and Patricia Noonan (sister, tagged in post), will see my plot idea for Mighty Ducks 4. Bear with me on this one… So, Gordon Bombay starts a new NHL franchise and instead of going the usual route of building the team by drafting young talent and signing a handful seasoned veterens who will bring them along, Bombay opts to rollerblade around the country and blow his duck whistle. The Ducks re-unite under a new name (because they already named a pro-team after them…).

We can discuss all the other important plot points later (Goldberg (who does have a first name apparently… it’s Greg) will definitely own a cheesesteak shop in Philly, though, and the bash brothers will be imprisoned but get a pardon to play because, c’mon, it’s a Disney movie). So the New Ducks (still haven’t come up with a franchise name… would it be based in Minnesota? OH WAIT, Bombay buys the Minnesota wild, cleans house (except for a few quirky players who, presumably, are foreign and play into their respective stereotypes as well as Team Jamaica did in D2) and brings in his own team (except Banks, they’ll have to trade for him because I assume he is already on an NHL team) to start over) initially get completely demolished by the competition (who should the complete dick team be?) but somehow Goldberg gets back into shape and they start winning, make the playoffs, and are now playing for the Stanley Cup.

(side note, Charlie needs another personal crisis in this movie: I’m thinking a completely crippling heroin addiction, but we can work on that.)

In the Stanley Cup Finals, they take their rivals to a game 7 only to have Banks, their best player and top goal scorer by this point in the movie, go down before the inevitable game deciding overtime (unfortunately, there are no shootouts in the NHL playoffs…). The team is unbelievably exhausted as they have already overcome a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles (but they handled them with ease, cause c’mon this is a Disney Movie), so Gordon sees no other option but to go back to the locker room and suit up. He puts on the pair of skates Hans left him before he died (in an unmarked box that Gordon comes across at the beginning of the movie that has a note inside saying something prophetic and Norwegian (or Swedish… where is he from again?)).

Once he returns to the ice, Gordon is instantly back to his old ways and intercepts a pass in stride going the other way. He strides towards the opposing goal. As he does this, scenes of his blown Pee-Wee championship penalty shot are inter-spliced. He puts a quadruple deke on the goalie causing the tender to fall (in the direction Bombay is headed, this would be easier to describe in person… too bad). Bombay is now in slow-motion and is seemingly about to blow another game-winning opportunity when the camera angle changes to behind to goal and reveals a flying V behind him (lead by Charles).

He drops the puck off to his captain who finishes the play. Game over. Minnesota Wild (I decided the idea I laid out above works best) win the Stanley Cup. Cue celebration and Charlie’s mom (pretty sure she actually does not have a name) looking absolutely insane and telling Charlie to, “Go have fun… but no heroin.” Charlie (laughing): “Okay, mom.” Charlie’s mom: “Seriously, Charlie, no heroin.”

Final scene shows the Ducks (now The Wild) celebrating and singing some Queen songs when Gordon gets a call from the President. He tells Gordon that China is putting together the best hockey team to ever be assembled. They are basically unbeatable, and the next olympics aren’t too far away. The president asks Gordon if he will coach the US Olympic team. Gordon: “On one condition.” President: “Anything you want.” Gordon (grinning at the camera): “I get to pick my team.” End movie.

When should we start writing this?

The Comments:

Patricia: Um…the answer is we should start writing this immediately. Except Bombay and Charlie’s mom HAVE to get together finally…and I love that D5 is going to be a world showdown against China. Do we get Kenny Wu? Also after the 2nd period in the final game Bombay has to give them their old duck jerseys…I mean, they can’t win it all if they’re wearing something they can’t quack about…

Patricia: And then D6 or D7 can be their children…Gee and Connie’s Kid…Julie the Cat and that Russian (Editor’s note: Gunner Stahl was from Iceland.  Where everything is Green.  Not Russia, that was Miracle, but proceed…) dude’s little goalie child…I can see it now…

Patricia: Oh…and the stakes in D5 v. China have to be a bit higher than the Olympics…it has to be like the fate of the Western world or something rests on Charlie and friends’ shoulders

Me: Love the jersey idea… need those old school green ones with the wack ass duck on them. Also, Charlie’s heroin addiction will be cause for Gordon and Charlie’s mom to get back into contact (the rest will play out from there). Kenny Wu will clearly play for the Ducks, but that will be a major D5 plot line. And it will be so much higher stakes than the Olympics… they have already won the olympics (yeah it was the junior olympics, but c’mon this is a disney movie). A loss would somehow lead to all out nuclear war… or something. We’ll have to work that all out.

Patricia: Nuclear war. Exactly. You read my mind.

Patricia: And yes, it would be their actual jerseys from PeeWee

Patricia: Bombay has saved them all these years

Patricia: Also – Charlie’s mom’s name is Casey. Come on.

Me: Charlie’s mom’s name sounds pretty made up to me… Pretty sure that’s a lie. But what will Russ Thompson wear? He wasn’t on the original Ducks

Me: that goes for all the other D2 additions

Brendan Hankowsky (Friend and D4 Admirer): this is pure gold

Me (quoting a sidebar Facebook conversation): Patricia: i’ll have to think about the jersey thing
yeah, maybe they could get a hybrid jersey: the same design as the classic jerseys with Minnesota Wild colors
Me: Hans’s brother makes them
Patricia: hmmm
yeah that could work
i feel like the old one’s need to come back
like they make them out of the old fabric or some crazy shit
combine the fabrics from all their old jerseys into a tapestry that speaks to how much they’ve been through as a team
combines old and new together
Me: wait i got it… so i assume Aberman has come out of the closet at this point right?
like he is openly gay
and in his pre-reunion life
he was a fashion designer
(this is a disney movie, stereotypes are a must)
and his addition to the team (other than absurd comments on the bench and shitty playing) is making the jerseys you just laid out above
Patricia: the fabric collage?
i love it

TJ Bray (Noted Hater, Roommate, 2nd Team All-Ivy, 0 Masters Wins): and to think this only took you 3 hours to write. who says screen writing has to be hard.

Me: maybe 3 hours to type… it took me a lifetime to write

Me: http://content.sportslogos.net/logos/1/1/full/a4hkgumewp7vx0xjfejsfheeu.gif

This is the original logo… We could do something with that

John Noonan (arriving late, which is kind of his thing): W-O-W

John (trying to make up for being late): A few adds – The team they face in the Stanley Cup will be the Black Hawks who have changed their jerseys to resemble the Hawks from the original D1 movie and their coach absolutely is Jack Reilly (Gordon’s pee wee coach and the coach who illegally had Banksy playing for him), and the owner is Mr. Ducksworth (guy who fires Bombay from law firm in D1). Wow that’s good.

John: The bash brothers can’t get released from prison that isn’t insane enough. Here’s what will happen: they see the press conference of Bombay bringing the ducks together for a run at the Stanley Cup on ESPN on the tiny prison TV as they mop the prison mess hall floor. They both simultaneously look at one another and give smirks that say “we know what we have to do”…
Cue intense heavy metal music and a montage of them recruiting Russ Tyler’s brother and the rest of his LA gang who are now all incarcerated in the same jail as the bash brothers (adding another racial aspect as well, win-win). The LA gang lead by Russ’ brother conducts an epic prison riot that helps the bash brothers get all the way to the prison gate.
At the gate they encounter the captain from Eden Hall Academy and his side-kick, who are now prison guards. The bash brothers literally ‘drop the gloves’ (they were wearing work gloves while mopping) and together fight their way to freedom.

John: Banks definitely gets hurt before game 7, and his injury you ask? – Concussions.
Before the game he promises Bombay he can play as he did with his wrist injury. Instead of telling him to rotate the stick in his hand Gordon simply tells Banks to look into a small keychain flashlight, which he is unable to do and then gets a raging head ache and collapses.

Due to this being at least his 27th concussion they ship him to the hospital and tell him he literally could die if he tries to play. The team visits him before the game – another hurdle for the them to rally around. The term “cake eater” must be said during this hospital scene.

John: With the uniforms – Averman definitely comes out of the closet and takes on the stereotypical gay character roll. During the 2nd period of game 7 he slips away from the bench and goes back to the locker room (no one notices because he is a terrible hockey player and he doesn’t get much ice time).
When the team walks into the locker room, they see the jerseys – mainly purple (I see some purple in the original logo, fabric TBD)- hanging on their lockers. The jerseys also have duck wings sewn on them.
The camera rotates to reveal Averman and Mr. Tibbles (dressed similar to how you would expect Elton John to look) who has also finally come out even though we all knew it the whole time. The two are sitting behind a sewing machine finishing one last jersey – Gordon’s.

Patricia: Um the prison break scene may be the best thing I’ve ever heard. Sticks. Gloves. Shirt. Banks totally watches the final game in the hospital alone…and somehow knows exactly when to quack – when the other ducks are quacking in the locker room we cut to him quacking in his hospital room. We also cut to prison in which all previous helpful (to escape) inmates are quacking as well…emotionally the prison guards also join in – perhaps finally seeing the light.

John: Finally – I don’t think there could be a better ending to any movie. Ever. I got chills when I read that. Kenny Wu will undoubtedly be the star of the Chinese National team, no question. Their whole thing is they all are converted figure skaters and play a brand of hockey never before seen.

Only thing I would change with the ending is that as Gordon is on the phone with the president (played by Julie the Cat….?? Female President from Alaska…? – I know she’s from Maine, but close enough.) Gordon turns to see Kenny Wu standing in the corner of the locker room and Kenny says “herrro Gordon”, and then Gordon turns back and then says your last lines – Gordon: “On one condition.” President: “Anything you want.” Gordon (grinning at the camera): “I get to pick my team.” End movie.

Patricia: That is amazing. Gunner Sthal is the “First Man” to President Gaffney. And yes, best ending ever.

Me: Wait ok, love the Blackhawks being the dick team, and their organization should look like this – Owner: Ducksworth; GM: Wolf Stansson (or he could be a player, leaving room for Maria (of “Iceland is green, and Greenland is ice” fame) to be the GM (I feel like she needs to suffer more for being the absolute worst in D2). Coach is clearly Reilly.

Second, I think roller blades should be involved in the prison escape. Maybe they have built a ramp and comically jump the fence? Then join up with Charlie who has undoubtedly already started rollerblading around the country to find his teammates (who are all doing their respective jobs… Averman is designing clothes, Goldberg is making cheesesteaks, and Luis Mendoza is a Formula 100 driver or something (he still can’t really stop).

I love Julie the Cat being the president… she won’t make an appearance in the entire movie until the end (Goldberg HAS to be the goalie… I think we all know that). It’s kind of like Dean Portman in D3. Just when you are pissed that he hasn’t yet made an appearance, he enters in absurd fashion and steals the movie.

Me: I like the Banks concussion thing, but we have to make sure it doesn’t resemble Varsity Blues too much. And his hospital scene can’t be too similar to Remember the Titans.

Me: And Kenny was a spy all along… he uses all the information he has put together over the years to stop the Ducks and their shenanigans.

Me: Also, for D5, some banter between President Gaffney and her first man has to include “Should have gone stick side, honey” (TJ gets an assist on this one)(Editors note: TJ did not redeem himself for his earlier transgressions with this suggestion)

Me: Wait one more addition to the last scene, Gordon: “On one condition, I get to pick me team.” President Gaffney (after the screen goes black): “Quack, quack, quack, Mr. Bombay.” End movie

John: hahahaha, this gets better with each idea/post/edit/addition. Great assist to TJ, welcome to the creative team.

Me: The bash brothers definitely have to meet Dan Carcillo and ask for his autograph or fight him or something. There has to be a scene like that

Me: how should the movie open? I’m thinking with a flashback of Hans (yes the actor who plays him is still alive) talking to Gordon saying something like, “You choose to leave the game, but the game will never leave you.” These words are voiced over shots around Gordon’s new house which contains framed jerseys from all the movies as well as his gold medal. And it ends on a picture of him and the Ducks. Title appears below the picture: “D4: The Mighty Ducks”

Patricia: Well I like that opening…but I think you’re forgetting that Gordon has to be in a dark place of some sort as well

Me: it is charlie this time who is in the dark place, Gordon has to enter the darkness with him. this will be the next scene

Me: and quote, “You may choose to leave the game, but the game will never leave you.”

Me: Wait, who will the announcer be? Will it be the kid from D3 doing play by play with Paul Kariya doing color commentary?

Me: And I just realized Jesse Hall is not in D3… he has to come back in this movie. He has to be the one who says “cake eater” in the hospital scene

Me: Wait did we overlook something… how old is Julie “The Cat”? Is she even eligible to be President? Or are we just going with the whole “it’s a disney movie, f*** you” approach?

Me: Ok… this is a sign: http://www.colombedujour.com/tag/whitehouse-garden/

John: Opening is solid, like the overly dramatic entrance.

John: I too pictured Jesse Hall as the “cake eater” line deliverer, touche. Speaking of the Hall’s, the father needs to make an appearance in D4. His “is this what I spend my overtime pay for?” line cut deep in D1 and he needs to return to deliver some soul-searching type line 3 films later.

John: The I didn’t think of those scenes at the hospital and Varsity Blues. I was more thinking of Sidney Crosby/Eric Lindros concussion issues and just dramatic Ducks typicalness with the hospital scene. We will modify that…
Maybe the wrist injury never fully healed and it is coming back to haunt him.

John: I think the “its a Disney f*** you approach” to the presidential age limit is the way to go. We could have someone in the move question this and have Dwayne respond “if you don’t like our president, why don’t you giiiittttt outttttt”

John: While we are on Dwayne – as Bombay is roller blading cross country rounding up the Ducks he rolls into Texas and approaches a huge stadium. There are bright lights, thousands of screaming fans, kids with cotton candy, popcorn and all kinds of fried food on sticks. An epic rodeo is taking place; the best of the best are competing…
The Camera trails a top tier bull rider who, from the back, looks like Dwayne. The rider holds on for [insert good time here, who the hell knows how long is good to ride a bull] and when the rider falls off, the camera reveals that this man is in fact not Dwayne.
At that moment Dwayne jumps out of a wooden barrel in full RODEO CLOWN attire and distracts the bull from the actual rider. The bull chases Dwayne causes him to desperately leap over the fence. He rolls over out of breath and in pain from the fall and upon turning over sees Gordon standing over him. Gordon grins at him and nods his head as if to say “yeah quack attack is back.”

Day Eighty: The Front Bottoms and Sledding Into Abstraction

There was a hill, growing up, that my I used to go sledding on all the time with my family.  Whenever there was enough snow, we’d wait until it was dark out, when all the other kids had to go home, and we’d ask our dad take us over to the elementary school that the hill supported.  We had this old toboggan we’d always bring that sat three people semi-comfortably and could pick up a frightening amount of speed if you got scared by those kinds of things.  I don’t think any of us did.

The hill itself had two humps on it.  The first one gave you speed.  It was right at the top, and it would shoot you out in a way that once you were going, you had no way to stop.  There was no failsafe, no emergency exit.  No matter what, you were going to end up at the bottom of the hill.

The second hump was different, it had some kind of power, something that we couldn’t really understand at that point in our lives.  The second hump got you off the ground, lifted you up and smashed every rule that was around you.  You were the air, the clouds, you were your sister and your brother, your father, you were anything and everything but yourself.  When you hit that bump, you existed in some nebulous place beyond complete lucidity.

I’ve written at length already about The Front Bottoms, a band that is the indefinable accumulation of all the music you should be listening to, but I’ve never been quite able to put my finger on what exactly it is about them that is so magnetizing.  Recently the band released the first single from their upcoming album.  The song is called “Twin Size Mattress”, and it contains all the elements of a great Front Bottoms song.  The song also exists, as all Front Bottoms songs do, in those hard to touch places, the moments after you hit the second bump on that hill and the imprecise and ephemeral emotions that consume them.  This is what is so magnetizing about them: their ability to distill those types of moments and places that are otherwise lost to abstractions.  With all that said, there hasn’t been a more beautiful song put to record this year:

This is for the lions living in the wiry broke down frames of my friends bodies/When the flood water comes, it ain’t gonna be clear/It’s gonna look like mud/But I will help you swim/I will help you swim/I’m gonna help you swim

Day Seventy-Nine: rose, 1956

This song’s more of a photograph, stained with tear-laced fingerprints.  Something you can just spend days with, extrapolating the life behind the image.

Day Seventy-Eight: Boston.

I woke up today with a moderate to severe hangover, the lingering residue of an unforgettable, yet somewhat forgotten, Masters weekend.  I gave my brother a call once I felt coherent to discuss what had unfolded on Sunday: the playoff holes, the matching shots, the close-calls and surreal breaks.  We both came back to one image, though, the one of Angel Cabrera giving Adam Scott a thumbs up after a particularly unreal shot on the second playoff hole.  During a moment built on unfathomable stakes, this was a sign of the human element of sports, of sincere gratitude for the gift of competition.

Then, today, there were two explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon, and with them came the unraveling of my most personal relation to sports, the ensuing scene obscuring the image I’d been so struck by the day before.  It felt like the cornerstone to my very existence had been removed, and I felt like toppling.  Sports had always been my failsafe, my raft when the storm seemed unweatherable, and this was mostly because everyone I knew felt the same way.  If there was one absolute truth in my life, it’s that sports redeemed us and carried us from the depths.  It did this constantly, whether in little victories or miracles, sports were there to remind us what exactly it means to be human, an accurate measure of both physical and unifying immensity, where respect was implied but not always explicit.  Even when there wasn’t a team, there was still brotherhood.

But then I saw the runners working alongside response workers, pulling debris off the wounded.  I heard the stories of people who crossed the finish line but weren’t done, running to the nearest hospital to give blood.  Today someone or some group went looking for fear and only found courage.  They set out to destroy something beautiful but only exposed themselves to the true power of sport.

So the marathon will be run again, and again, and many more times after that.  And each time it will be a monument to remind us that hate is cowardly, that there’s strength in a thumbs up, and that miracles aren’t religious; they’re only human.

Day Seventy-Seven: Kurt Vile

I’m not sure if it’s ever happened, if anyone has ever actually gone missing inside of their iTunes library.  I’m sure it happened with a few record players, some Springsteen yarns detaching people from time and pulling them into the passenger’s seat.  It might’ve even happened when My Bloody Valentine made the gap between human and instrument seem both gulfing and infinitesimal, as if Kevin Shields had gone so far in both directions that they met on the other side.  There has to be a few disappearances that could be explained by this phenomenon.  I can’t be the first.

But if you see my face on a milk carton, question Kurt Vile first.  His new album, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, is probably to blame.  Buy it, but be sure to leave a note.

Day Seventy-Six: “So that we may be satisfied…”: An Alternate Sindbad Journey to Serve as a Prologue

Friends, of all the voyages I have spoke, of all the adventures I have admitted to and survived, of everything I have told you, there is one story that stands above all, as the most peculiar but wondrous of my life.  I have spoken of my past of both ease and contentment, that of which I found at home, yet I have failed to mention to you the reason for my travels and restlessness in an otherwise state of prosperous comfort.  In short, I have failed in relating to you my primary journey, that which took place before all of the other voyages I have chronicled for you.

It is this journey, one that was a stroke of luck rather than one sought out purposefully, that came about when I lived in a mercantile stasis.  I have told you of my heedlessness and the excesses in which I was known to indulge.  It was during this time, amidst the companionship of those I knew to be friends, that I found myself headed out to sea, talked into an excursion towards islands rumored to possess the most beautiful of women, the most elegant of clothes, the finest of foods, and the most delightful of drinks.

The ship was crewed by our ignorance, with our captain barely having a week at sea to his name.  We traveled with the wind and had little say, as it was resolved, in where we headed.  This is, of course, how we came to land on the island that possesses no name.

From a distance, the island seemed like calm horizon, unbroken by land or waves, not even a mirage was set against the harrowing sun.  It was not until we were upon it, the hull of our ship scraping its jagged shores, that the island came into view.  It was almost as if the dry land had risen from the sea to capture us and leave our boat crippled in its grasp.  I was thrown from the deck and, upon meeting the ground with the corner of my crown, was left to drift off into a blank sleep for a few hours.

When I came back to life, I was being carried through a forest that held no sound besides our own and whose trees bore no fruit.  I realized quickly that there were more in our group, who I assumed to be natives, and a quick glance at one face caused me to fall once again into the same blank sleep.

When I awoke once more, and for the last time on that island, I found myself in a clearing, one that was not built by men but occurred naturally, as if God had intended the forest only for protection from everything outside.  Within the large clearing there sat hundreds of natives in the shade, all of them without clothing, softly meditating, their eyes closed, hiding all humanity behind tightly clenched eyelids.  I was trying to make out what prayer they were whispering to themselves when a voice rose behind me.  “You are awake?”

I turned to find in full view a standing native, fully clothed and eyes wide open.  His skin, and I am assuming, of course, based on the authority in his voice, that this native was in fact a man, was transparent in the sunlight, displaying the red and blue streaks usually buried in secrecy.  His face was without definition.  Though he did possess eyes, a nose, a mouth, and ears, they did not sit in the same shapely form that regularly distinguishes men in appearance.  To me, this native was a crudely rendered creation, something left unfinished by God, not meant to walk the earth yet.  I said a silent prayer for him, though I was quick in doing so.

“I am,” I finally replied.

“You must come with me.  It is to our great fortune that you and your friends have found us today.  You must follow.”  The native walked out of the sun and into the shade, his skin once again concealing what was underneath.  As we walked through the jungle, neither of us spoke, though I suffered many questions.  When we had walked for hours, seemingly on a winding, curved path, the native pointed to a crudely fashioned door sprouting from the dirt and proposed I open it.

“What lies behind it?” I questioned, unsure of his motives.

“You must open.  I cannot speak it until you enter.”

I must admit, at this point in my life, I had yet to shed my naïve skin, like a young snake before it is blessed with fangs, so I opened the door and stepped through, the world tilting as I did so, causing me to stand parallel to the sky.  As I entered, the room in front of me opened up into a massive library with each wall covered in books bound by gold.  I will not lie here in saying that this was the most magnificent room I had ever set foot in, its plain setting sharply contrasted by the splendor of its contents.  For the first time, I felt my heart trying to break free from my chest, to soak up all that lay in front of me.  Further down the rows of book, I spotted my friends, standing with their own native guides and marveling at the wonderful sight.

“What is this?” I asked, walking towards the gathering of those as awestruck as I.

“It is our collection,” the native spoke clearer, though his voice remained without character.  “This room holds the story of every man and woman who ever lived and will ever live.  These pages hold wars, loves, deaths, betrayals, tragedies, triumphs, and what’s better is that they are all true, each of them happened at a certain time or place, and are still happening now.”

“So you are the writers?  All your people, you travel and write these stories?”

“Of course not, have you noticed that we do not own ships or even paper?  We own nothing.  The island provides us with these stories, it holds onto them, and we are just its keepers…” I cut off the native to embrace my friends, all of us reveling in the majestic library.

“Let us find your stories,” one native hurried, his voice sounding identical to the one I had spoken with.  All the others nodded in agreement.

“Sure,” our ship’s captain spoke, “if this place is what you say it is, then show us.”

“What are your names?” another native asked, his hand beginning to run along the spines of the varying sized books.  Each of the men handed over their names without question, but I felt a curiosity over these exchanges, so I gave my father’s name instead, wondering what exactly the books would contain.  After they received our names, the natives rushed off in different directions, attempting to locate each man’s individual collection of stories.  The natives returned in varying speeds but refused to oblige us in opening the books until all had been found.

Once the group of natives finally converged, they approached each man whose book they held and began to read from it, starting with birth, and continuing on through every event that followed.  As they told the stories, I found it peculiar that they spoke using “I” rather than “you”, and the story began to sound like their own.

The native who had located my father’s book spoke as my father, his voice beginning to resemble the one I recall from being a boy as the story progressed.  Soon his face, the nothingness of it, began to re-form itself, taking on defined features that at first appeared as if through fog but soon became unmistakable.  As the native reached the end of the story, after what felt like days of uninterrupted speech, though I never felt tired, I looked around the room, and saw the other natives molding themselves as well, scars appearing where there were none before, a life forming behind their eyes that each had never possessed before this moment.  When the stories reached the current moment, the one we inhabited, my friends fell to the floor, their bodies pale and decaying, while the natives stood over them, identical in all ways to the men that lay at their feet.

The native holding my father’s book did not realize my deceit until he reached the end, and he came to rest as my father had, in my arms, only the body I held was further decayed than I had remembered.  It looked as if I had pulled him directly from the ground, and I dropped the corpse in horror.

The rest of the room, the reflections of my friends, craned their necks to witness me standing in the wake of all the events.  “He fell onto me,” I said nervously, their eyes piercing my cover.

“Don’t worry, you’ll forget this soon,” the native who had assumed the appearance of my captain spoke.  “We all will.  That’s how it works.”

“When will we forget?” I forced out, my throat tense.

“Once we depart from here, the island, once we’re headed to assume these lives, the ones that were not earned by the men at our feet, we will begin to forget, these images dissolving like sand in the ocean.  Soon all our memories before this will only be dreams, nothing more.  They won’t burden us in the light of day.”

I had caught onto the charade, but I wanted to know more, so I played on a lie, “I have already lost most of these memories,” I started.  “What has happened to these men that lie dead?”

“We’ve eaten them,” the new captain said.

“Then how are they here still, in full form, without pieces missing from their bodies?”

“We haven’t eaten as they eat.  We’ve eaten them as we must, the only way we can satisfy our hunger.  Unlike them, for most of our lives, we are not guided by hunger.  Instead, we live in calm prayer, allowing God His due, yet He instills in us, when He decides, a hunger that is unlike any human feeling.  It is deeper, more invasive, and can torment us for years.  But then God blesses us with those He feels don’t deserve their lives, who disrespect this hunger, and live in excess.  So he sends them here, to this island, and we must become them, consume their stories, so that we may be satisfied.”

With that, we threw the bodies over our shoulders, and rushed from the library.  Outside, the sun had not moved from the sky despite the days we had spent inside.  We carried the bodies to the darkest corner of the forest, which was filled with the decaying corpses of thousands, and dropped them amongst the dead.  At this point, I had accepted these natives as my friends, and we gathered to pray one final native prayer over the dead.

A man must labor hard to scale the heights,

And to seek greatness must spend sleepless nights,

And to find pearls must plunge into the sea

And so attains good fortune eminent be.

For he who seeks success without labor

Wastes all his life in a futile endeavor.[1]

 

As we sailed across the sea, back towards my old home I would eventually struggle to recognize, the men no longer spoke as natives, but began to sing and be merry as the men I had left port with.  Under my breath, I repeated the natives’ prayer.  It would never leave my head.


[1] Haddawy, 6

Day Seventy-Five: Nathan for You

The best show on the air right now is Comedy Central’s Nathan for You.  In the show’s fifth episode, creator and star Nathan Fielder successfully pulled back the sanitizing curtain of reality TV to give us all the stuff that’s usually edited out.  Masking his sarcasm in sincerity, Mr. Fielder was a revelation, embodying the complicated and confused relationship we all have (or most of us have) with shows like The Bachelor, that false feeling of superiority we gain by watching these surreal experiences packaged as “real”, setting out to prove that nothing on TV is ever presented without a great deal of post-production tinkering (including, of course, his own show).

By creating a fake reality show within a pseudo-reality show, Mr. Fielder seems to have successfully created the genre of post-modern reality television, a genre that, if it ever catches on, will mark the complete evisceration of institutions like his muse, The Bachelor. The show’s conceit may limit its growth, but right now everything is burning bright enough for none of that to matter.  Don’t miss it.