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GOOD IS HARD Prologue: “The Neckers”

March 11, 2012

While I will admit that there *is* one woman in this world I find lovelier than Norma Shearer, there has never been, to my mind, a lovelier lady to grace the silver screen.

This clip from Hollywood Revue of 1929 is, as the Log Lady says in her introduction to the pilot episode of Twin Peaks, “the one leading to the many.” This clip is the one.

Teenage Wasteland

October 10, 2011
Originally intended as a photo riff on the Cinematic Titanic forum.

In support of the OCCUPY WALL STREET movement, the following takes place not in the traditional environs of CSI’s Las Vegas, but in CSI:NY’s New York City.

This is the city. New York, New York. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps.

A thousand songs have been written about this town. Some of them good. Some of them not so good.

New York is the recording capital of the world, with hundreds of labels, and thousands of artists, generating millions of dollars in record sales each fiscal quarter.

Every genre is represented here. From rock to pop. Classical to jazz. Even some country.

Popular these days is a music style known as rap. Most of it is harmless, dealing with subject matter typical of most popular music: Youthful rebellion. Identity within peer groups. Wanting to “pull up tough“, because one noticed “that butt was stuffed“.

But some of it deals with subject matter of a much more insidious and depraved nature:
Drug use. Murder. Caucasians pretending to be black.

When that happens, I go to work.


EXT. – CENTRAL PARK – DAY

A grey, foggy day in New York City’s Central Park. We see a grassy area of the park cordoned off by yellow police tape, in the middle of which lies the dead and bloodied body of a teenage boy curled up in the foetal position.

Outside the perimeter of the tape, a group of elderly ladies stand being guarded by several uniformed officers.

A black SUV pulls up and Detective MAC TAYLOR and Sergeant DANNY MESSER emerge and approach Detective DON FLACK who lifts the crime tape to admit them, talking as he leads them to the victim’s corpse.

FLACK
Single male DB. Aged 19. Been dead roughly
half an hour. Multiple blunt force trauma
to the entire body, but, if I had to hazard a
guess, I’d say that the hit to the back of the head
was the C.O.D.

We see a gruesome close-up shot of the victim’s head wound, brain matter clinging to the hair.

TAYLOR
The body’s in a protective posture. He
was just trying to survive

FLACK
…I’ve arrested your vic here several
times myself. The guy was a real sleaze.
Name of William Pyrite. Calls
himself “A-Bill”, as in “ready, willing,
and a-bill”. He’s got a laundry list of
priors, including possession, assault,
burglary, and felony menacing of
a female volunteer at the
food bank

MESSER
Classy

FLACK
Your suspects are this group of ladies
from the “Magyar idősek otthonában“,
whatever the hell that is, in Bridgeport,
Connecticut. They chartered a bus
into the city for the day and were having
lunch here in the park when they ran
into our man in the foetal position here.
Their stories vary a bit, but the gist of it
is he convinced the group of them to take
a picture with him posing as the
“Békés Street Gurlz”…that’s “gurlz” with a
U and a Z…they did so, and then he
told them, quote, “You all my bitchez.”
…That’s “bitchez” with a Z…unquote.

TAYLOR
I see

FLACK
…They didn’t understand the jargon…

TAYLOR
It’s reprehensible jargon.

FLACK
Hey, you’re preaching to the choir
here, Mac. Anyway, they thought
he was actually calling them bitches, and…

MESSER
Boom

FLACK
The eye witness…

He gestures at a bespectacled man standing with a uniformed officer by a squad car parked on the bike path twenty yards away.

FLACK (CONT.)
…saw a single assailant beating Mr Pyrite,
but the description matches every one of
the suspects, and he was unable to narrow
it down.

Danny approaches the huddled group of elderly women standing under guard.

MESSER
So, any of you Day Trippers want to ‘fess up so’s
the rest of ya can go, hanh? We know it was one
of yous. Don’t think we won’t figure out
which one. It might take us so long to find
out… but we’ll find out.

Flack and Taylor walk to the squad car on the bike path. The Witness now lies on his stomach across the hood of the car, chin resting on his hands, and a cigar betwixt his teeth

TAYLOR
Could you tell us what you saw

WITNESS
Well, I was eating my lunch on the grassy
knoll there by the statue…

Messer hears this as he walks up, looks in the direction indicated, and sees no statue

MESSER
Statue?

WITNESS
Gesundheit!

TAYLOR
What statue?

WITNESS
Maybe it wasn’t a statue. It may have
been President Bush re-enacting his
response to the flooding in New Orleans…
Anyway, I was sitting there
eating my lunch when my ears
were assaulted by the sound of
a beating…or vice versa.
It was savage! Inhuman!!! The clubbing
went on and on!…Reminded me of
Paris Hilton for some reason…
I haven’t seen such inhumanity since
the Tea Party convention…

MESSER
C’mon, Mac. This guy’s just goofin’ with us.

WITNESS
I never goof! Unless you count the time
I tuned into Fox News expecting
honest journalism…

TAYLOR
Can you give us a description of the
assailant? Was it a man or a woman?

WITNESS
Of course!

Mac glares.

WITNESS (CONT.)
It was a woman.

TAYLOR
What colour hair did she have?

WITNESS
I couldn’t tell. She was wearing
a snood.

MESSER
A snood? What’s a snood?

WITNESS
Not much. What’s snood with you?

TAYLOR
A snood is a hairnet, Danny.

MESSER
None of the suspects were wearing hairnets.

WITNESS
Well, No snood’s good snoods, they say…

TAYLOR
You couldn’t see her hair colour because of the
snood?

WITNESS
She was also wearing a babushka

TAYLOR
And what colour was her babushka?

WITNESS
(turning his head demurely to the side)
A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell…

MESSER
Mac, I’m gonna kill this guy

TAYLOR
What about her clothes? What was she wearing?
A skirt? Pants? A dress?

WITNESS
1492 Columbus Circle. Apartment 9-A

TAYLOR
Did you see what kind of shoes she was
wearing?

WITNESS
I assume they were crepe soled shoes on
account of the way she battered him

TAYLOR
Okay. What did she attack him with?

WITNESS
Ferocity.

TAYLOR
I mean, what kind of instrument?

WITNESS
I don’t think it was an instrument, but he did taiko
brutal hit to the pipe-organ…

TAYLOR
Sir…

WITNESS
A walking stick.

TAYLOR
A walking stick?

WITNESS
Yes, sir. T’was a CANE slew A-Bill!

The policemen look to the group of suspects, all but one of whom is leaning on a cane. The teetering woman sees them all looking at her and jerks her head accusingly at the woman standing to her right.

WITNESS (CONT.)
Look, I’ve told you fellows all I know.
If I knew any more, I’d tell you… And if I
knew Annie Coulter, I wouldn’t.

Exhibit A

June 13, 2011

Being an excerpt from the Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis of Wesley Stamper by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition

“IS THAT A PISTIL IN YOUR PLANTER, OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME?”

Item: That the accused did post a photograph to his so-called “blog”.

Item: That said photograph did appeal to the prurient interest.

Item: That the accused did inscribe a so-called “humorous” caption beneath said photograph.

Item: That said caption did wilfully disregard the welfare of the reader by utilising a pun most egregious, which did besmirch not only the mind of the reader but the very sanctity of the English language itself.

Per Elementum Ad Elementa Ad Vertisement

April 8, 2011

Naturally, we are all well acquainted with the Aphorisms of Urbigerus. We all heard them read to us in the nurseries of our infancy. We all learned them by heart when we were schoolchildren. Who among us didn’t, at some point, find him or herself gazing longingly out the window at their friends frolicking in the sunshine while he or she was inside at a desk transcribing the subset of 31 aphorisms from the Circulatum minus Urbigeranum? (And who among us didn’t get a stern talking to from their parents or teachers for snickering at the use of the word “Astrums” in aphorism XXVI ! )

One hears the familiar words being expressed daily in popular song, sees them emblazoned on placards held proudly aloft at American football matches when the home team creates a touchdown, and sees them bringing a much needed smile to the faces of those stuck in traffic jams when espied upon bumper stickers.

“I had a heck of a time finding people who couldn’t recite the Aphorismi Urbigerani,” confided comedian Jay Leno when speaking of a particularly memorable “Jaywalking” segment he’d recorded for the late night talk show, “The Tonight Show”, which he hosts.

One even sees the engravings which accompanied the aphorisms being commercialised and used to sell laundry detergent or motorised vehicles on television, but I’ve recently come across an early, and rather rare, German translation of the text featuring some, admittedly, rather primitive audio-optoscopic illustrations by a 17th century  Saxon artist which caused me to see these well known aphorisms in a new light.

I give below some examples for comparison.

First, two engravings from the standard Henry Faithorne edition of 1690:


VI. When we call all these Operations ours, they are not all to be understood according to the common Operations of the Sophisters of Metals: but ours are really to transfigure our Subject, yet conserving its Nature, Quality, and Property.


XXXVIII. The above-mention’d Spiritus Mundi is yet a great Menstruum in extracting of Tinctures out of Metals, Minerals, Animals, and Vegetables, and in performing great things in the Art volatilizing all fix’d Bodies


And, here, three audio-optoscopic illustrations from the Bayern München edition of 1689:


XXIII. Our Mercury is call’d the Mercury of the Philosophers, because it is a Subject, which is not to be found ready prepar’d to our hand : for it must of necessity be made by our Philosophical Preparations, out of the first Chaos, and although it is Artificial, yet it is naturally prepar’d, Nature, which is imitated in the Preparation of it, contributing likewise thereunto.


LXVIII. Although we use our Mercury simplex in the Extraction of its own Soul out of its Body, and for the Clarification of the latter; yet, since it is a philosophical and perpetual Menstruum, it loses nothing of its connatural Prerogatives, nor does in the least diminish in Quantity, being our true Alkahest, as Paracelsus is pleas’d to call it.


XLV. To understand aright, how out of this our Chaos we are to form our Philosophical Microcosm, we must first of necessity rightly comprehend the great Mystery and Proceeding in the Creation of the Macrocosm: it being extremely necessary to imitate and use the very same Method in the Creation of our little one, that the Creator of all things has used in the Formation of the great one.

It is my hope that the preceding was of some interest to the honoured adepts and well-wishers of the noble Hermetic Art.

Qui Quoi Où Êtes-Vous?

January 8, 2011

Samuel Beckett once wrote “In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness.” And, while nobody really knows what that abysmal drunkard Mr Beckett was on about, in the landscape of forensic science, precision is key  And so it is, also, that precision is the watchword of the television script writer. Extraneous, unnecessary, or even redundant information is “from its mother’s womb untimely ripped”, as it were, and scattered to the four winds “like so many nickels and dimes”… Hmm, perhaps that could have been said better. Whatever the case, what I’m trying to say is: television script writers need to be concise. When they aren’t, scenes get excised, man. Scenes get cut.

This, O nobly-born, is one of those scenes.

INT. – HOTEL ROOM – DAY

We see CAPTAIN BRASS standing in the middle of an upscale hotel room, his head tilting slowly from side to side like a puzzled puppy in curiosity.

A CLEANING WOMAN sits moaning in a chair by the door under the watchful eye of a uniformed officer.

GIL GRISSOM enters carrying his heavy kit and approaches Brass who is too enraptured to notice his presence.

GRISSOM
What’s the story?

Brass allows himself an additional moment of admiration before snapping back to business.

We see what he’s been looking at. On the bed, the corpses of a naked man and woman. The man lying on his back; the woman kneeling, knees planted on either side of the man’s head, her cheek pressed against the wall which holds her upright.

BRASS
We’ve got a positive I.D. on the
female, name of Sunny Chiang. The
room is registered to her. We’re still
working on I.D.ing the male;
his driver’s licence was an obvious
fake. They were discovered by the
cleaning woman…

He looks at his notes for the name.

BRASS (CONT.)
…one Lucinda Sagrado…or
Consagrado…there seems to be some
difficulty getting her name out of
her…

He jerks a thumb at the woman in the chair who gives a look of surprise at Brass’ gesture, then speaks, becoming increasingly agitated.

CLEANING WOMAN
¡No, no sagrado—consagrado!
¡Yo nunca daño a nadie! ¡Consagrado!
¡Consagrado!

BRASS
Ma’am…

She leaps from her chair and runs shrieking out the door, passing CATHERINE WILLOWS who is on her way in.

The uniformed officer who was guarding the woman stands dumbfounded and Brass has to point toward the door before it sinks in that he should initiate pursuit.

WILLOWS
I haven’t seen a woman run from a
room like that since Carrot Top
left town.

She looks at the corpses.

WILLOWS (CONT.)
What do we have here?

BRASS
Well, no signs of violence. The
lady’s purse and the guy’s wallet
are accounted for; and it appears
from their position that these two
died simultaneously.

WILLOWS
“Simultaneously”. Considerate
fella.

GRISSOM
(Catching Willows’ drift)
The French have a colloquialism for
orgasms: “La Petite Mort”. The
little death.

BRASS
Yeah? What’s their colloquialism
for “irrelevant information”?

Grissom looks hurt.

BRASS (CONT.)
Anyway, it looks like they ran into
Petite Mort’s ugly cousin Big Morty
during their trip around the sixty-
nine stations of the Kisokaido.
Cause unknown.

GRISSOM
That’s not sixty-nine.

Brass gives him an impatient look.

BRASS
What?

GRISSOM
That’s not sixty-nine.

BRASS
I know it’s not sixty-nine, Cochise.
Trust me, I know sixty-nine.

Grissom and Willows both grimace at the unwelcome mental image.

GRISSOM
Then why…?

BRASS
This is CBS. If it ain’t
missionary, it’s kinky. You think
all those biddies watching this
show just ’cause it comes on after
“Murder, She Wrote” know what sixty-
nine is? It’s shorthand for kinky.
That’s all they know. That’s all
they want to know.

GRISSOM
I think “Murder, She Wrote” went
off the air twenty years ago.

BRASS
What are you trying to say, Gil?

Grissom shrugs.

Catherine walks to the bed, bends, and peers under the female corpse’s slightly upturned rear which she illuminates with her penlight.

WILLOWS
Full lividity; suggests a T.O.D.
sometime last evening.

BRASS
And here I thought the trip to
visit the in-laws for the holidays
was a long ride.

He pauses, then looks to the ceiling waiting for the theme music to kick in. It does not.

Judging by Grissom and Willows’ befuddled reaction to the line, this lack of theme music comes as no surprise to them.

Grissom clears his throat.

GRISSOM
It appears this fellow liked his
sex Sunny side up.

Obviously, no theme music. Brass and Willows stare blankly.

GRISSOM (CONT.)
…because her name is Sunny, see?

BRASS
Really, Gil?

GRISSOM
Oh, fucking bite me, Brass! It’s
better than yours.

BRASS
Horseshit! Yours is just some cliché
you heard somewhere else and
repackaged to suit the situation!

GRISSOM
Where? Where do you think I heard
it?

BRASS
I don’t know exactly, but it
definitely has a ring of
familiarity about it.

GRISSOM
“A ring of familiarity”?

BRASS
Certainly a lack of originality.

WILLOWS
Enough, girls! I’ve got it.
Her name was Sunny and she
“set” on his face.

Brass and Grissom weigh this statement for a moment and then reluctantly nod their approval. The three of them stand waiting for the theme music. The silence becomes awkward, and then, just as Brass is about to speak, the theme music blasts.

No, seriously, who are you?

June 8, 2009

It’s Monday. That means it’s time once again to dip into the Bag O’ Rejected CSI Teasers

Int-Machine Shop-Day

We see GIL GRISSOM entering the dimly lit Machine Shop, a blast of Nevada sun from behind him rendering him little more than a silhouette to those inside. He approaches an industrial press around which CAPTAIN BRASS and several uniformed officers have gathered.

The lower half of a female torso clad in a grey smock protrudes from betwixt the plates of the press, feet still on the ground as if waiting for the top half of the body to straighten up from its bent over position and resume its daily activities.

Brass notices Grissom’s presence.

BRASS
You ever see The Fly?

 

GRISSOM
The original? Yes.
I skipped the remake. Geena Davis is a whore.

 

BRASS
Vic’s name is Esperanza Escobar. She worked here
for seven years as a cleaning woman. Has her
own set of keys to the shop. The last person to
see her was the shift supervisor,
Franklin Stewart. Says he left last night
at 9:00 p.m. right after she arrived.

 

We see  but do not hear from across the shop a distraught looking Franklin Stewart telling his story to the uniformed officers.

Grissom shines his flashlight on the puddle of blood on the shop floor and follows the trail back up to the lower torso.

 

GRISSOM
The English translation of the name Esperanza is Hope.

 

BRASS
Yeah, well I think we can say that Esperanza’s hopes were crushed

 

Editor’s Note: The venomous and frankly anachronistic dig at Geena Davis was particularly puzzling to this reader.

Who ARE you?

June 5, 2009

(Originally meant for Twitter, the following couldn’t quite fit in under the 140 character limit)

Sometimes the hectic schedule of a television scriptwriter gets to be a bit overwhelming, and, in the mad rush to get a usable draft out to the production team, the quality of the writing can suffer, necessitating revisions that leave some scenes on the cutting room floor before they are ever filmed.

Here, for your enjoyment, is one such scene from television’s “most watched” drama, CSI

Ext.-Sidewalk-Night

We see a dead body in a pool of blood sprawled on the sidewalk outside a tall hotel. GIL GRISSOM kneels over the corpse, shining his flashlight into the unresponsive eyes. CAPTAIN BRASS approaches from behind Grissom, reading aloud the notes he’d just scribbled into his pad.

BRASS
Vic’s name is Charles Farrow. Had a room
on the 8th floor of the hotel here. Eyewitnesses on
street level saw him and, quote, “a shadowy figure”
on his balcony shouting down at his girlfriend,
one Autumn Jameson, who was standing just about
where I’m standing. According to them, he was begging
miss Jones not to leave him right before he
went over the railing.

 

Grissom looks up to the 8th floor balcony.

 

GRISSOM
Her name was Autumn… and he fell for her.

 

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