Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why I'm Not Allowed to Make Big-Budget Hollywood Films

I want to make a movie.

Basically, I want a film where a Centaur in a near-future Detroit goes to work for the police force.

Part man, part horse, all cop.

I’ll be running it film noir style, when he starts out investigating the murder of a particle physicist, killed shortly before the activation of his new, clean-energy producing centaur-fuge, but as the story progresses he’ll be drawn deeper into a world-spanning conspiracy, as what seems at first to be a simple murder investigation quickly spirals beyond his control, and he realizes that he’s discovered the crime of the centaur-ey.

Meanwhile, his parents, two tradition-minded centaurs, who still live in the forest, hunt with bows, and help adventurers briefly in the third act, disapprove strongly of his choice to become a cop in Neo-Detroit, and much will be made of the friction between our lead and his father. This conflict will be the emotional centaur of our story.

But don’t worry, I won’t be overly centaur-mental with how I handle it.

I’m in talks with Antony Hopkins, as I’m confident he’ll give a centaur-de-force performance in my little film. He always does. I’m not sure, however, if I’ll be using him as the father, or as the chief of police under which our lead works. The chief will be an older, wiser, Obi-Wan-style figure in our lead’s life, who helps him find the answers he needs to resolve both the case AND his friction with his family.

Sort of a mentor-centaur.

It will also feature an original soundtrack by Pat Cenitar.

Will this movie be successful? Who can say? Financially I would imagine not. Artistically? Also unlikely, I imagine it’ll be centorture to watch.

Still, if you judge a film by its ability to make me laugh my head off, I think this one will do quite well…

NEXT WEEK: I want to make a movie about a blind, retired army colonel, who hires a lady centaur to take care of him over the Thanksgiving weekend. I’ll call it: Centaur a Woman.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Backstage

By Christopher Munroe

I lost the award.

Sorry, that was unclear. I realized upon saying it that I could have phrased it better. I’ll try again.

I didn’t win the award.

This should be no surprise, as I wasn’t nominated for the award, or indeed any award. I’m only present at this award show to present the award to whoever happened to win the award at this award show.

That was awkward. Sorry, I’m nervous.

Anyway, a bunch of the award presenters went drinking last night, and we brought the awards. Jagermeister was involved, and…


Help me break it to Johnny Depp?

Friday, August 24, 2012

How I Found Religion

It was, all things considered, a pretty good set.

Which shouldn’t have surprised me, I’m a pretty good comedian. I’m not amazing, but I’m funny, and I can kill at a local club easily enough. Could probably middle for somebody funnier than myself too, were I inclined to live in hotels in small towns nobody’d ever heard of whilst doing it. I’ve clocked a bunch of practice on stage from various gigs, improv, musical theater, other standup clubs, so all in all yeah, there should have been nothing surprising about the fact that I did pretty well.

I was, nonetheless, surprised, because I’d been seriously thrown off my game by a gentleman sitting at the back of the house as I took to the stage, and I’d worried for a moment or two if I’d be able to get it back in time for my fifteen minutes.

He didn’t DO anything to throw me off my game, I suppose. He was just… off-putting, somehow. Distracting.

He was huge, for starters. The size of two men, broad and strong looking, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn he was taller than me by a good six inches. I’m hardly tiny myself, but there was no comparison. Also: I’ve never seen a guy actually go out in a toga. I mean, drunken frat-style house parties I’ve seen guys in makeshift togas, but his was no bed-sheet, it was a full-on toga, and this was no house party. It wasn’t even House Party II.

So: Three-hundred-plus pounds of imposing presence clad in a toga, sitting at the back of the room as I hit the stage to do my set. Yeah, I was thrown off my game.

Still, I’m a performer, and while I can be thrown off my game no amount of batshit-crazy at the back of any room is going to KEEP me off it, so I launched into my set.

I compared myself to Jesus Christ (unfavorably), I accused newborn babies of being racist, and I closed with jokes about the genocide in Darfur. I got laughs, I made people profoundly uncomfortable, overall it was, like I said, a pretty good set.

By the end, I’d nearly completely forgotten about the weird giant dude sitting at the back of the club. By the time I hit the bar for my first drink of the evening, I was feeling pretty good about the night.

However, before my drink could arrive, a huge hand was placed upon my shoulder and I was spun around to face the giant, weird dude. Or to “chest” him, I suppose, since I was right about the height difference. He was easily seven-four. Maybe taller.

“Greetings!” His voice boomed, and I was shocked by how loud he was. He cut through the club’s sound system like it was nothing. “Your comedy has pleased me greatly this night, and I extend my hand to you in congratulations!”

He extended his hand to me. In congratulations, I suppose. Intimidated, but always willing to be told how entertaining I am, I took it, realizing as I did how much larger than my own hand it was.

“Erm, thanks.” I responded. “I had a great time up there. Glad you liked it too.”

“Oh, I did. You have done me proud.”

It sounded off, in a way I couldn’t quite place. “Done you proud?” I asked, hoping for clarification.

“Yes, proud indeed! Allow me to introduce myself, I am Dionysus, the ancient God of drink, and of song, and of laughter and madness. And, while temples to my honor no longer exist upon this mortal plain, I am everywhere that drink flows freely and men exchange japes and barbs! Your comedy this night has done me a fitting tribute, and it only seemed fitting that I congratulate you personally!”

I have no idea what it was, maybe the twinkle in his eye, maybe the timber of his voice, maybe the fact that I was slowly growing to realize that I appeared to be the only one in the club who could actually SEE this man, but I believed him. This was, perhaps, a survival strategy my subconscious kicked into play to stop me going mad.

After all, either the ancient Greek God Dionysus was congratulating me for a fifteen-minute standup set at a small, local club, OR I was losing my mind. And like I said, I do love being told how entertaining I am. Sometimes, things happen in this life that you can’t explain. And when they do, you just gotta roll with them.

“Well thanks!” I responded, beaming. “Heady praise, considering who it’s coming from.”

“Indeed it is, my small friend, indeed it is. And I too would “tap” Zooey Deschanel. Now, drink with me!”

It sounded more like a commandment than an offer, but what could I do? I do sing, I do drink, and I do jape. I’ve been called insane more than once, both affectionately and in anger. Were ever a deity purpose built for my lifestyle, it was the one standing before me. How could I deny the request?

“A jug of Keith’s, barkeep” I called out in my best old-timey prospector voice, “And two shots of Jagermeister!”

And that’s all of that night I can remember, so I assume that, in terms of the “drinking” and “madness” portions of the evening, that first snowflake turned into a blizzard.

But I will tell you one other thing.

When I woke up the next morning, I had no hangover. At all. My apartment was fairly trashed, as though I’d tripped over every single piece of furniture in a drunken stupor over the course of the night, and the remains of a failed attempt at cooking 4am eggs stained the bottom of a frying pan in the kitchen, but my head was clear, my stomach was settled and I felt absolutely fine. Better than fine, in fact. I felt like I could take on the world. Energized, both physically and creatively.

I wound up spending most of the day finishing a short story I’d been tooling around and writing a good ten minutes of new material about how the city of Winnipeg uses the souls of the damned as an alternative energy source for my next standup club night. And as I did, I realized: I’d not just been congratulated on a set well executed, I’d been granted a great boon. Freedom from hangovers. Days of creativity to follow nights of debauchery for the rest of my life, and no more to have to choose one over the other.

He was a relatively minor deity, even back in ancient Greek times, but you’ve really got to hand it to Dionysus.

He knows how to take care of his people.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: The Bet

The Bet
By Christopher Munroe

I’ve made a bet with a demon. We’ll be playing the fiddle shortly.

I admit, this isn’t the best idea I’ve had. Nonetheless, it’s how I’ll be spending my day.

Should I beat this demon, I’ll receive a fiddle made of gold. Pure, sparkling gold. Gold of the finest quality, it’s a beautiful instrument.

Should I lose, the demon gets a fiddle made of gold from me, which I won in a bet with a previous demon, a few years ago.

We’d plaid Magic: The Gathering for that bet.

I’m very good at Magic: The Gathering.

Fiddle? Not so much.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


“Honey, we need to talk.”

“You’re quite right, we very much do. We need to talk. But more than that, we need to write, we need to sing, communication is basically the most fundamentally important activity we, as humans, undertake. It’s been said that our opposable thumbs are what separates us from the beasts, but they really aren’t. Plenty of primates have thumbs. What separates us from the beasts is our ability to communicate with one another, to conceptualize on an abstract level, to make complex plans and, working together, to make those plans a reality. You raise a point both subtle and prescient, my darling. We do need to talk. Everyone does. But how often to we stop to really reflect properly upon this underlying truth of the human condition. Thank you. Thank you, you truly have given me a lot to think about on this day…”

“No, you’re misunderstanding me. I suspect you’re deliberately misunderstanding me. What I meant is: I need to talk to you here, now. This isn’t working out between us, I want to break up with you.”

“Yeah, I know. I was just seeing how much of your time I could waste before you got around to saying it.”

Monday, August 13, 2012

An Essay: Watching Dark Knight Rises

As you may well know, Kat and I, like everyone else in the world, recently went to see Dark Knight Rises. I’d have written this earlier, but couldn’t, as I only saw it Thursday last due to my longstanding policy of waiting to see movies with Batman in them until I could see them in IMAX.

Totally worth it, by the way. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

You see, the couple sitting behind Kat and I talked the whole way through the first part of the film, and for a good long while that was unbearably irritating. The one who’d clearly not been in charge of choosing the film, a woman in her late thirties, maybe early forties, kept asking inane questions about what was going on in the movie. Things she should have known, and for a while it took me completely out of the moment. Kat, also, was annoyed by this, because this is annoying in an objective way. You don’t just talk the whole way through a movie, especially a movie where tickets are $19 due to the IMAX nature of the theater, and ESPECIALLY when the movie features Batman. It’s natural we’d be bothered by it.

However, I never got around to politely but firmly requesting her silence that I might enjoy a movie I’d waited years to see, because soon something happened that changed my view of the situation entirely.

During one of the early scenes with Alfred, the woman behind us turned to her date and asked “Is that his father?”

And that’s the moment I realized: This woman had never experienced Batman until that moment.

It wasn’t a simple case of her coming to the film franchise late, she’d literally never had a Batman experience of any kind before that moment. She’d missed the cartoon, she knew nothing of the comics, she’d somehow managed not to see seven major blockbuster Hollywood films of varying qualities. She was too young for the ‘60s television series, no doubt, but it still plays in reruns now and again. And yet, somehow, she’d managed to navigate somewhere near four decades of life without ever having been exposed to Batman in any meaningful way.

Perhaps this isn’t the case, but if you can think of a better explanation for the fact that she honestly didn’t know that Bruce Wayne was an orphan, I’d love to hear it.

And with that, my annoyance dissipated, replaced by a cauldron of more complex emotions. I did still want to enjoy the film, of course, but also I was fascinated by what was happening one row back. I was bearing witness to a fully-grown human being, being exposed to Batman for the first time in her life. I was jealous, in a way, of the sense of wonder now available to her, wonder that she’d never known to that point and which I, obsessed with the character as I am, can only distantly recall. I was deeply, deeply glad for her, obviously, because she was finding, late or not, something amazing about our culture, and I wondered if, coming to it later in life than anyone I’d ever met, she’d be able to take the same kind of joy in Batman that I’d spent a lifetime cultivating.

For the record: She absolutely was able. By halfway through the film she’d stopped asking questions regarding what was going on and was simply letting the experience wash over her, drinking in as much as she could of it while it was happening and trusting that she could fill in the gaps in her knowledge at some later date. Which is correct, I think, as far as approaching a movie like that goes. And at that point I was glad that she’d done this at one of the Nolan Batman films, rather than at one of the Schumacher ones. She’d never heard of Batman, only to stumble into one of the most perfect examples of the form available for public consumption.

A point with which she seemed to agree, as I overheard her asking the gentleman who’d brought her to watch the DVD’s of the other two films in the trilogy with her at some point as they were leaving the theater.

My point? Merely this: I saw Dark Knight Rises on Thursday, and it was awesome, but more importantly, I learned what kind of geek I am, because no matter how irritating the chatter behind me got, I was overcome with joy to hear it. Joy at witnessing somebody coming with fresh eyes, untainted by prior knowledge of the franchise, to experience something I care very deeply about and, having seen it, coming to understand what it is I love about Batman. And that made the annoyance I felt completely worthwhile, in my opinion, because I am, it turns out, the kind of geek that wants to share his love of culture with the world, and who believes that sharing Batman is the REAL joy of loving him in the first place.

Dark Knight Rises was, in short, awesome. A breathtaking piece of filmmaking that I want to see again at least once before it leaves the big screen. An immensely satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that only grows in importance in my mind with the passage of time. But the real show I saw Thursday last was taking place right behind me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Nothing

By Christopher Munroe

Hello, my name’s Heinrich and this is Klaus. We’d like, if we may, to discuss nothing with you, because whatever you might believe in, rest assured, nothing is nearer and dearer to our hearts.

When you’re at your lowest ebb, and everything seems darkest, nothing can help you.

Where you think you’ve lost hope, nothing can save you!

Nothing matters, my friend. Nothing matters.

What? We can’t come in?

You haven’t time? We understand, though nothing is more important than what you’re doing right now.

Still: May we leave you with a copy of the book Nausea, by Jean-Paul Sartre?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again

Everyone uses the expression, but nobody remembers where it came from. It passes between generations with nary a thought to its origin.

Nobody remembers those initial trading ships, returning to port only to find no port left to return to. Where once had been a mighty island city-state was nothing but endless ocean.

Nobody remembers their sorrow upon realizing their home was, somehow, gone from this earth, miles beneath the sea, or remembers their resolve not to let this break them as they set out to build new lives.

Nobody remembers, or everyone does.

After all, everyone uses their expression.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weekly Prompt Story: Fairness

By Chris Munroe


Where does fairness become relevant?

Nobody ever said life was fair.

Nasty? Sure, life’s that. Brutish? Absolutely. Short? Oh yes, far too short. Doesn’t seem short at first, but as you live you realize it’s shorter than any man can reasonably bear.

But fair? No. It’s unreasonable to even hope it might be. I’ve no idea who’s been filling your head with such nonsense. Fairness…

Oh, I said life was fair? When did I say that?


Oh, yeah, I vaguely recall that.

I lied.

People lie sometimes, get over it.

After all, nobody ever said life was fair. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

No Heroic Measures

The fire rages within the building, and alarms sound around me as I make my way, coughing into my sleeve, out into the street.

She’s still in there.

I couldn’t find her, the smoke had been too thick, and as I scan the street in front of the apartment that we share, that we shared, the dark premonition I’d had while staggering down the stairs is proven to be true. She hadn’t made her own way out, she is still somewhere within the building.

Maybe she’s passed out on the floor of our apartment, maybe in the hall, maybe she made it as far as the stairwell, but at some point the smoke in the air must’ve overcome her, because she never made it to the exit, and never will. Not under her own power, at least.

For a moment, I’m close to being overcome myself. The love I’ve felt for her in the years we’ve been together, the laughter and the tears of a lifetime, the infatuation I felt the moment I met her years before, infatuation I to this day haven’t gotten all the way over, nearly prove too strong, and I’m tempted to rush back inside. To find her. To bring her to safety.

But then I remember.

I remember the meetings we’d had with lawyers, after hearing the horror stories about the people in comas, hooked to machines that do their breathing for them, never to think again in a way anyone would understand the term, kept as vegetables for years, for decades, against their will long after “will” ceased to be a meaningful phrase with regard to them.

I remember the two of us, writing our living wills together, discussing what sort of care we’d want in the event that the worst should happen to either one of us.

And I remember how adamant she was, that no heroic measures be taken to revive her, or to prolong her life.

No heroic measures.

What measure, I wonder, could be more heroic than rushing back into a burning building to bring her, unconscious but alive, out into the safety of the street?

So I turn my back on the whole horrific scene, blink back tears and leave her behind to burn.

It’s difficult, to be sure. Doing it damn near kills me, but in my heart I know it’s the right thing to do.

It’s what she would have wanted, after all.

I won’t go back inside for her. And when the firefighters finally arrive, I’ll do my best to stop them from going in too.

It’s the least I can do to honor her wishes, and do justice to her memory…