Friday, May 18, 2018

A Little Bit of Luck


In honor of Deadpool 2 coming out today, I thought I’d talk a bit about Domino, who’s power is ‘luck.’ Specifically, how do you figure that out?

There are a handful of luck-powered heroes in the Marvel universe: Longshot, Black Cat, and Domino. At least, those are the ones I can think of off-hand. There might be some c-list villains or something floating around in the errata.

Longshot is a mutant (originally an alien) who is lucky as long as his motives are pure. This seems a bit tricky to define. Rescuing a kitten from a burning building is probably ‘pure.’ Rescuing a kitten from a burning building instead of rescuing, oh . . . say, a little old lady, maybe not. Pushing a politician into a burning building might also count as pure.

Black Cat is an on-again, off-again romantic interest of Spider Man. She is unusual in that she gives good luck to her allies and bad luck to her enemies. In addition, in the tradition of most comics, she is staggeringly good-looking. Which means that Peter Parker is dating Mary Jane (a model) in normal mode while being pursued by Black Cat as Spider Man. Not bad for a ‘nerdy’ science kid.

Anyway, back to Domino. She can make things happen in her favor by wanting them to, which is kind of interesting. If she has no knowledge an attack is coming, such as a hippo falling on her from out of the clear blue sky, she can’t do anything to stop it. However, if she does, then she can use her power to make the hippo miss or to cause some sort of trampoline carrying semi-truck mishap which bounces the hippo away. Regardless, it’s probably not going to be a good day for the hippo.

Why she just hasn’t walked into a casino, played one spin on the ’10 Million Dollar’ slot machine, and retired is beyond me.

NOTE: All of these definitions and such are at the whim of the writer. And you know how those guys are.

Which brings me to my next point: how do you figure out your power is luck? Shooting lasers from your eyes or being super-strong are pretty obvious. Invulnerability, though one might soil themselves the first time they figure it out, is also straight-forward.

Luck, however, can take so many possible forms that any sort of testing for it would be flawed. What if you’re only lucky in life-or-death situations? Would you want to attempt a test that will actually kill you if you’re wrong? You could only be lucky in regards to potted plants. No fern, no matter what condition, will ever die if its in your bedroom. You might be amazingly lucky, but only when wearing a red hat or affecting people wearing red hats.

It’s such a weirdly specific, yet vaguely defined ability. Yet, in Domino’s case, it seems to work for her.

Lucky that.

Cheers,
-Jason

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Law of Character Conservation


In a bit of a break today, I’m going to talk about one of my personal observations on writing/characters: the Law of Character Conservation.

It goes like this: You’re watching a tv show and the handsome detective hero is pursuing a serial killer, because that’s what tv detectives do. He is aided by his trusty female computer-geek partner, who for reasons of fiction, is in love with him and they’ll flirt a lot, because of course they will. Now, you know that the computer nerd grew up on a farm in a small town and had a hard life, etc. etc. backstory, etc.

Then, in the twist end of the season finale, you find out that the serial killer is the nerd’s long-lost brother!

This is an example of the Law of Character Conservation. In essence, because we already know the backstory of the computer geek, we ALSO know the backstory of her serial killer brother. In essence, the show then doesn’t have to explain who he is and where he comes from. That’s already been accomplished. All they have to do is explain why he’s a serial killer and it’s done. They have just used the same backstory for both characters and thus, Conserved a Character.

NOTE: Is it wrong that I keep wanting to type ‘serial killer’ as ‘cereal killer?’

You tend to see this most often on tv shows, where they have a limited budget and run time, so they can get to the exciting parts (the detective fighting the serial killer) faster, rather than spending an entire episode on backstory. Movies and books tend not to do it as much.

Now, it’s not an absolute. New characters with new backstories and no relation to the current cast will and do appear, it’s just that once you notice how often this is used, you’ll start to see it all over the place.

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a brother or sibling to an established character. It can be a college buddy or former boyfriend/girlfriend or their next-door neighbor. They just need to have some connection.

‘But wait!’ some of you are saying. ‘Isn’t this because it’s more shocking and/or surprising to have the killer/victim/whatever be related to an existing character and not because of your weird little law?’

To which I say: maybe at first. Maybe when tv shows were a new thing it was surprising to have the killer be the brother or the babysitter or something, but does that really surprise anyone anymore? I think it’s actually more surprising nowadays to have a completely unrelated killer/whatever.

Anyway, once you get used to spotting this, it’s a great way to annoy/impress your friends and family by going ‘oh, I bet it’s his sister’s best-friend’s former babysitter’ right off the bat and then being right.

Cheers,
-Jason

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Scooby Don't


There is a trend in entertainment lately, as in like the last five or so years, to remake old shows and movies and make them ‘dark’ and ‘edgy.’ This can certainly work, but lately I feel like they’ve been really plumbing the depths to try and find old shows to bring ‘up-to-date,’ so to speak.

Therefore, since everyone else is doing it, I figured I’d give it a shot.

So, here’s my take on a new, dark, gritty, Scooby-Doo.

NOTE: I am aware that the Venture Brothers did a riff on this a number of years ago.

The basic premise of the show stays the same: the gang travels around the country in the Mystery Machine, solving a variety of crimes involving old people pretending to be ghosts and monsters, actual ghosts, actual monsters, and a wide variety of criminals, some of whom are also ghosts and/or monsters.

Here’s the updated characters.

Velma – A scientist turned paranormal researcher, she left her lucrative job to investigate the paranormal, bringing her expertise and fondness for explosives with her.
Catchphrase: ‘Jinkies,’ said low and menacingly, as something explodes.

Shaggy – An ex-biker with copious tattoos, a pair of .357s, and a penchant for straight whiskey. The last of the Devil’s Dozen, his whole gang was wiped out by a werewolf and now he rides with a silver bullet always at the ready.
Catchprase – ‘Zoinks’ – said when he’s about to shoot something in the face.

Scooby – The mascot of the Devil’s Dozen, he survived the massacre and accompanies Shaggy, looking for revenge against the werewolf.

Daphne – A psychic, Daphne tries to use her abilities to help people and protect the world from paranormal threats, using her abilities to summon hordes of undead and bring peace to lost souls. An eyepatch covers a dead eye, which can see beyond the veil.
Favorite Color: Purple

Fred – Fred is exactly like his original cartoon character is always horrified by the things his companions say and do. He constantly tries to escape, but the others always catch him, but interpret his frequent attempts to flee as a running gag.
Catch-phrase – ‘Aaaaagh!’ – uttered whenever anything happens.

A sample scene:

Shaggy – Taking aim at a ghoul. “I hate ghouls!”

Fred – “Stop!” He runs in front of Shaggy and grabs the ghoul, pulling off the mask. “It’s just old man Henderson!”

Old Man Henderson – “The money would have been mine, if not for y-“

Shaggy - “Zoinks” - shoots Old Man Henderson. 

Fred – “Aaaaaaaagh!”

Daphne peers at the corpse. “He’s not dead yet. I can fix that.”

Fred – “Aaaaaaaagh!”

Velma – “I’ll just blow up the house. They’ll never find the body.”

Fred – “Aaaaaaaagh!”

Scooby starts to gnaw on Old Man Henderson’s leg.

Fred – “What are you maniacs doing? He was just an old man!”

Shaggy – “He shouldn’ta f***ed with the Scooby Gang. C’mon, drinks’re on me!”

The others cheer as Velma sets up a bomb. They all walk away, Shaggy dragging Fred.

Velma – “Jinkies!” She activates a switch.

The house blows up.

I will accept my Emmy now.

Cheers,
-Jason