Thursday, July 09, 2009

July 4, 2049: The Days

This is an entry into this week's Friday Challenge, which can be found
here. The challenge: Look back from the year 2049, and figure out what's being celebrated on July 4.

"Grampa! Grampa! Did you see the fireworks?"

The old man bent down, and handily scooped up his youngest grandson. "You bet I did. Were they good?"

"They were cool!" The boy hopped down, and ran off to get munchies. "Gramma! Gramma!"

"Pop," James said, "Jim's got a report coming up. July 4 essay. He's got all the ancient history in there, but the tutor wants him to cover the Days, too. Think you can help him out?"

"I'd be glad to. Where's he at?"

"Stuffing his face, where else...?"

An hour later, a well-fed child and his equally well-fed grandfather sat across from each other in the big overstuffed chairs by the fireplace. A video fire burned on the overlay screen, for the cheery appearance without the heat. The screen would roll down into the floor in winter when the heat would be welcome.

"So, your dad wants me to tell you about the Days, is that it?"

"Yeah. I know from my reading that the people got tired of the government, but they don't go into much detail..." The boy's voice faded off.

"I'm not surprised," the man said. "History books have a bad habit of expecting you to already know some things and glossing over some others. Tell me what you know so far."

"Well...after 2000, the government was getting big and scary--not like now, when the whole government is a hundred people. Some people were actually afraid of the government."

"And with good reason," Grampa added. "Here's what happened. After 2000, the government decided it was going to get a lot bigger a lot faster. They kept people afraid as much as they could. That way, people would be too busy being afraid to notice how big the government got--and the people who complained, well, then they could just say 'we need this to protect you.' But everyone was afraid, and everyone was upset with the government, and all it took to set off the Days was a spark."

Jim grabbed his notepad and stylus, and started taking notes furiously. The notepad would grab an audio capture, of course, but he was highlighting the important parts.

"The men in charge of the government started passing lots and lots of new laws. 'You're not allowed to own this,' they would say. 'You're not allowed to eat that.' They kept taking more and more power from the people and kept it for themselves, and the people were so afraid that they just sorta went along with it. Even when the government said 'no one is allowed to own guns,' most of the people grumbled and complained and went along with it. It just wasn't big enough to set off the spark."

"Well, something must have set it off," the boy asked, glancing up from his pad.

"You'd be surprised what sparks things sometimes," he said. "And that's probably why it got left out of your history book. The spark that set off the Days...was a television show. National Idol, where people would compete to see who was the best singer. That year, right from the beginning, everyone knew it was either going to be Nikto, or Barada, right from the beginning.

"When it came down to the finale, one of the judges was out sick--and the vote was a tie. I mean, two judges each in the studio, AND the call-in voting from around the country was dead even, too. They did a recount, and came up with a tie. It became this national feud--you were either for Nikto, or you were for Barada. There was a no-ties-allowed clause in the Idol contract, and the show couldn't figure out how to break the tie."

Grampa let out a huge sigh. "Lots of people wanted to give it to Barada. He was this black kid from the East Coast, single father with a cute little kid at home. But just as many thought that Nikto should win, because she was an Asian from California. The feud went on long enough that the government decided to step in."

"It was a TV show, Grampa. What does the government have to do with TV?"

"Good point, and you already understand. See, there was this one Senator who was running for election that year. In one of his speeches, he said something about 'passing a law that gives the Idol win to Barada, where it should be.' As he was getting ready to leave, his microphone was turned back on accidentally, and the audience heard him mumble something about "bumpkins and rubes" under his breath. People started talking, and before you knew it, someone had posted to Youtube where he had given the same speech the day before--rooting for Nikto!"

"He didn't care what the people really wanted?"

"That's right. Government doesn't care what people want. The people in government just want more power." Grampa sat back in his chair with a smile. "Anyway, that was the spark. People who normally sat around watching TV suddenly sat up and realized that their government didn't care a whit about what they wanted, or thought, or needed. Enough people finally woke up. The government tried to quiet things down, but they didn't understand what they were dealing with. They still thought they were dealing with a National Idol feud, and tried to get the two into the Supreme Court to settle things. But that only made things worse, because a hundred thousand protestors gathered outside complaining about how the government was trying to meddle with things they shouldn't. And once enough people realized that that's all government does, well, everyone sorta...quit listening to the government. There were...riots. The government tried to call out the military, but a bunch of the soldiers agreed with the people and not the government.

"Finally, things started quieting down when a new president was in charge. He at least understood what the people were upset about, and he set out to repeal a bunch of the laws that had everyone mad. And when enough people called for a new Constitutional Convention, we got a new government. One Senator per state, one representative per 10 million people, only specific things the government can pass laws about, and any law can be vetoed by a national referendum vote among the people."

"My instructor says this will only hold back the government for a few years, they'll find ways around it."

Grampa chuckled. "You've got a good teacher. Yes, governments always find ways around their limits."

"So...what happened to Barada and Nikto?"

"They agreed to split the difference. Barada took the official win and the prize money, Nikto got the recording contract, they both retired with more money than they could ever spend."

"Thanks, Grampa! I think I've got everything I need now."

Friday, July 03, 2009

Three Movie Trailers

Please note that this is NOT an entry into the Friday Challenge, which can be found Here. Due to the demons of Otogu (that's "other things of greater urgency"), this entry is well over twelve hours past the deadline, so it is not eligible for this week's Challenge. However...that's not an excuse to not share it.

Trailer One:

Camera pans across Italian countryside, with voice-over, " fair Verona, where we lay our scene, two star-crossed lovers..."

Sunset, with camera pausing on Italian village. Sunset. Fade to black. Text: "The legendary love story, retold..."

Fade in on brick wall. Voice-over screams. Blood sprays across the wall.

Text: "...with a modern twist."

Juliet is in the tub in her chambers, with bubbles all around. She's speaking to the nurse, behind her, across the room and over her shoulder. The nurse has her back to both Juliet and the camera.

Juliet: ad-libbing, and ending with ", how do you know when it really is love?"

While she talks, the camera pans across the room, and the nurse's face slowly drifts into focus in the mirror. She has a zombie face, with steel gray eyes and skin missing, and she's gnawing on a woman's severed hand.

Cut to: Swordfight, Romeo vs. Tybalt. Romeo lops off Tybalt's arm.

Romeo: "Tybalt, how many times do I have to kill you?"

Cut to: Juliet, trying to get away from the zombies. She appears cornered, swinging a torch.

Juliet: "Where the hell are you, Romeo?!?"

Black screen with text: Megan Fox as Juliet

Cut to: Romeo and Juliet vs. Zombie. Juliet chops off the head of a zombie while Romeo stares open-mouthed.

Juliet: "What, you think I'm just going to stand around and be eaten waiting for you to finally show up and rescue me?

Black screen with text: Nicholas Brendan as Romeo

Cut to: Romeo and Juliet on the run from zombies, pausing to catch their breath.

Romeo: "One hell of a first date, huh?"

Black screen with text: Michael Clarke Duncan as Tybalt

Cut to: Big terrifying zombie face smile.

Black screen with text: And featuring Bruce Campbell as the King of the Zombies

A film by Quentin Tarantino

Romeo and Juliet and Zombies

Trailer Two:

Black screen with text: Prophecy and Ambition are a bad combination, but when you add in zombies...

Cut to: Macbeth's chambers.

Lady Macbeth: "I'd have done it myself, if he hadn't looked so much like my father while he slept."

Macbeth walks in, blood on his hands.

Macbeth: "It's done."

Lady Macbeth stares in terror as a dark figure comes stumbling into the room behind Macbeth.

Cut to: Macbeth with the Witches

Witch: "You shall be King, until the very dead of Birnam do rise and march on Dunsinane."

Cut to: Zombies crawling out of the ground, working their way towards the castle.

Cut to: Macbeth, on a balcony. Camera rises behind him so the audience can see what he sees--thousands of zombies like a scene from Lord of the Rings moving in his direction.

Cut to: Lackey reporting Lady Macbeth's death.

Lackey: "Highness! Lady Macbeth has killed hers--"

The rest of the line is cut off as Zombie Lady Macbeth rips the lackey's head off.

Black screen with text: Jack Black, as Macbeth

Cut to: Macbeth vs Macduff

Macbeth: "How many times do I have to kill you, Macduff?" Plunges his sword through Macduff's chest and out the back.

Black screen with text: Gwyneth Paltrow as Lady Macbeth

Cut to: Zombie Lady Macbeth

Zombie grin close-up, while she licks blood and gore from her fingers.

Black screen with text: And Bruce Campbell as the King of the Zombies

A film by Don Coscarelli

Macbeth versus the Undead

Trailer Three:

Camera pans across flowers, with voiceover: "A new version of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew."

Quick scenes, each a few seconds long, depicting scenes from the play.

--"Bianca can't wed until Katherine does."
--Petruchio boasting that he can tame her.
--Petruchio blowing a trumpet over Kate's bed.
--Petruchio, ripping an incredibly expensive dress off of Kate's body.

Cut to: Petruchio, at the end of the play, declaring that he has completely tamed Kate.

Petruchio: "We'll each send a messenger for our wives, and whichever bride arrives first will win the wager."

Camera follows Kate as she walks up behind Petruchio. The other wedding guests see her and run in horror. Petruchio starts talking before he turns around.

Petruchio: "How many times do I have to--"

Petruchio screams in terror as the zombie Kate attacks him.

Black screen with text: Hayden Panattiere as Bianca

Cut to: Bianca, looking at the camera with her head tilted to one side and a bright and cheerful smile on her face. With it is a smear of blood, and blood is trickling out of her mouth.

Black screen with text: Jennifer Aniston as Kate

Cut to: Kate, zombie, with an evil grin on her face, shaking a severed hand at the camera.

Black screen with text: and Bruce Campbell as Petruchio

Cut to: Petruchio screaming in terror as Kate bites his hand off.

Black screen with text: A film by Ron Howard

The Taming of the Zombie

Shakespeare...And Zombies

Coming next summer