The Curious Adventures of Lord Buckethead

Buckethead

1977, SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND

A three-wheeled Reliant Robin races down the pot-holed roads of Sheffield, England. Police chase after the black Reliant, barely staying upright with each clunking pothole it hits.

“We’ve got the Reliant in sight, over.” The cops close in for a pit maneuver, the cruiser strikes the reliant, sending it tumbling end over end until the heaping clunk of metal rests aside a sign post.

The cops surround the smoldering wreck, closing in on the drivers side when a BEAM OF LIGHT blinds them. A man emerges from the three-wheeler, his face bloodied and disfigured. In his hand, a relic, which emits the light and a HIGH PITCH. The man gathers his strength to speak, “here I have the power which shall defeat the Tories once and for all!”

In an instant, he vanishes. The cops look around at each other in shock…

…The same bright light fades to reveal an operating table. Several aliens, an evolved fungus of sorts, crowd around a surgical bay where the man from the reliant accident is being encased in a black suit. Finally, the alien leading the surgery, King Alienfungus the Sixth lifts a giant black cylindrical helmet– he speaks in clicks and grunts, when translated, “we anoint you Lord Buckethead, leader of the Gremloids, we return you to the year Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Seven to challenge Lord Thatcher, leader of the Conservative Cthulu Party.”

1987, SHEFFIELD.

A light streaks across the sky, a black reliant robin with jet engines activates its reverse thrusters, coming to a landing in the middle of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. A match comes to a halt as the reliant lands. Lord Buckethead emerges, “fear not fellow men and women of the North, I have come to defeat Lord Thatcher.” The stunned silence is broken as a single can of beer bounces off his helmet. More soon follow.

“Get the fuck off the pitch you bucket muppet!” A rotund supporter shouts from the stands. More BOOs ensue.

“The Gremloids are on the working class side!” Lord Buckethead is determined to win over the crowd, when the lead official walks over and gives him a red card. Stunned, Lord Buckethead head butts the official and quickly enters the Reliant. Fans and players give him the chase.

The black reliant quickly rolls over on exit from the stands, flipping several times over before coming to rest in a pile of trash left over from the strike. With a mob of football fans at his heels, Buckethead rights the reliant before continuing along. More beer cans pelt the rear of the Reliant, when finally he activates jet thrust. The car quickly winds up on its two rear wheels and vanishes.

PLANET GREMLOID.

King Alienfungus the Sixth surveys General Election results. “141 votes, that’s it,” the leader clicks and grunts. He’s visibly upset, apparent even in his alien features. “Cthulhu wins again.”

“Your Leader, we can still convince Madonna to move to England and fake a British accent. She could win more votes, sir.” His footman seems convinced.

1992, ANOTHER FAILED ELECTION

A female servant enters the King’s quarters with a pink Milton Bradley dream phone. Pop music plays from its speakers. “King Alienfungus, it’s for you.”

Buckethead sits in a pub, on his pink dream phone. “King, I am sorry to disappoint we lost against John Major– but my sources say we can expect the second coming of Lord Thatcher in 2017.”

Across the pub, the bartender watches the Lord in his black costume. From a functional telephone of his own, “yes — there’s some loon in a bucket talking to aliens on a toy phone. Send the constable at once.”

A police chase ensues as the local authorities chase Buckethead in his black Reliant, and sure as shit, it is pitted and the rocket Reliant goes off the road and into a pond… and sinks.

LONDON, 2017.

Tourists gather round to watch a streak in the sky, it’s the black Reliant!

“See there Bradley, you said we could go on holiday in Australia the moment Reliants could fly!” Bradley’s middle aged wife beams with happiness before her less than pleased husband.

The Reliant lands atop the Tower of London. Buckethead exits. “Here, here, I am Lord Buckethead, sent by the Gremloids to lead the Party of Gremloid to defeat the agents of Cthulu in the General Election of 2017.”

“He’s a knight,” one tourist notes in Italian.

“What century is his armor from,” beckons another in Chinese.

Later, at a pub, Lord Buckethead takes a seat before a bartender. “Can I see a menu please?” The bartender points to a sign, No Helmets Indoors. “Ah you see I was horribly disfigured in a Reliant accident in 1977.”

The bartender rolls up his trousers to reveal a peg leg. “Me too, crashed into a van in 1976. First round’s on me.”

The press go wild as Buckethead announces his candidacy officially. “Lord Buckethead, where is your title from?” One journalist points a microphone at his helmet.

“It is inherited by ancient fungal aliens who started all life on earth.”

The press are eager to get clickbait headlines, so what the heck– “how can we contact these aliens,” asks a blogger.

“Do you have a Dream Phone,” Buckethead asks.

“A Dream Phone?”

“Yes, the toy phone from the early 90s is actually an intergalactic communication device– er never mind.” Buckethead makes his way toward his Rocket Reliant.

“If you win, will you get a car with four wheels?”

Buckethead turns around, “the Reliant is the people’s car. Not ever.” He gets in and blasts off, leaving thousands of frenzied reporters in the dust.

PLANET GREMLOID

King Alienfungus the Sixth is very old, he’s grown more spores and his gelatin body has thickened. He watches as Buckethead takes the stage to the left of Theresa May, who concedes the election to Labour. “Finally, we have defeated Cthulu and all its agents with a record 150 votes taken from the Tories in Maidenhead.”

Waiting on a train station platform, Buckethead contacts Alienfungus on his Dream Phone, “thank you for believing in me when no one else would.” No response on the other end. “Alienfungus?” A train pulls up, passengers stare at Buckethead on his toy phone as they walk by. “Alien fungus?!”

****

Eyelids open slowly, revealing a basement. The Dream Phone game is open. A Super Nintendo sits in the corner on a TV with dial switches. A 1990 World Cup Poster. Some moldy edibles by a man in black’s side, the black bucket helmet too. The man rolls over, comes to. He manages a grimace despite his slightly disgusted face as he turns on the television to hear: “Labour Shock in 2017 General Election.”

He turns it off, goes back to his Lord Buckethead helmet. “ay that was one hell of a forty year trip.”

END

 

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Making the Creator King Again is Vital to Saving Film

I remember when Titanic came out in 1997, it was everywhere – on billboards, rehashed through several documentaries, on popcorn tubs, on MTV, on the news, on posters, shirts, the word on every teen girls mouth – it was the event of the year. People became obsessed with Titanic – including myself as a kid, I once knew how many rivets were in the ship. You couldn’t get away from it, or that cheesy Celine Dion song. It was a completely dominant force of popular culture and remained the highest grossing film until Avatar in 2009.

Now in today’s Hollywood, everything is hyped to such a grand scale that nothing has staying power. If everything is big, loud and explosive then nothing stands out. The sort of fanfare once reserved for movies like Titanic is now expected of films on a monthly basis. If a tent pole film doesn’t make a billion dollars it’s somehow not good enough. As studios tear through their IP war chests, exhausting all properties to the point of arriving at Bay Watch and Pirates 5, they have finally lost the trust of American audiences. I feel we truly are headed toward rock bottom.

At the same time television has seen a renaissance. A huge reason for that is creative control. Once upon a time studios used to make mid budget films from original scripts. In the 90s it seemed like the spec sales would never stop. Studios would use their big expensive blockbusters to fund these smaller properties hoping enough of them would become hits to remain in the black (thus the term tent pole for blockbusters).

Today fewer and fewer specs are being sold. Studios are no longer stand alone businesses as much as they are part of larger conglomerates. These conglomerates don’t just want movies – they want theme park rides, toys, accessories. They want every film to be just like Titanic was in 1997 where people would literally buy White Star Line napkins and talks of building another Titanic was a serious consideration. Conglomerates want studios to be less about filmmaking and more about brand-making.

The ultimate problem for movies is that TV offers the creativity that modern moviemaking no longer allows. Marketing and non filmmakers hold too much weight in script considerations and story decisions. The movie writer today is a gun for hire to bring marketable IP to life, and is less so a unique creative force. While independent films and Oscar bait still gets made, even those cinematic gems are few and far between relative to a decade ago. Or, they’re being made entirely outside the studio system.

The American public is loosing faith in Hollywood films. At a time where TV couldn’t be better and show runners are almost as popular as some of the actors in their shows – the public couldn’t be bothered to shell out $15 for a mediocre movie. It’s time to make the creator king again. It’s time for creatives to get back some control in the movie making process. Until that happens, people will continue to reject stale Hollywood IP for increasingly better content on the smaller screen.

Hollywood on the Spectrum

It takes a certain kind of person to really flourish in this industry; someone very social, tenacious, a fearless hustler who also plays a good game. In many ways it does come down to luck for all. There are certain ways to increase those odds, and then there are ways in which you can also shrink them. It very much comes down to who you are. I am someone who, albeit is of Mensa intelligence, lacks the same social intelligence — I am someone on the autistic spectrum.

Autism, including Aspergers (which I was diagnosed with at 12) is a developmental delay. Contrary to popular misconception it is not a mental illness nor is it associated with mental illness. It is however linked to social stuntedness, a lack of self awareness, contextualizing things in black and white –and often shyness as a result. It is also linked to higher IQ, greater empathy and therefore less inclination to act in a morally unscrupulous manner. People with Aspergers are very loyal to those they care about and are not the sort of people to stab someone in the back.

In an industry where being an extroverted hustler and social savant is critical to success, people who lack that combination of traits stand a lesser chance at success. This is not to say that someone on the spectrum is not a possible combination of all those things; however there are a few notable ways in which someone on the spectrum would struggle in Hollywood. So allow me to go into some detail.

1. Taking Things in Black and White

People on the spectrum are not very good with social nuance. So much of this industry relies on coded messages and meanings. When life is defined in black and white, the grey in which Hollywood operates can be very difficult to navigate. This breeds frustration since all people like myself and others with Apsergers want is a clear answer (see the ongoing saga with myself and a former mentor). Rarely is this given, and it easily turns into a feeling of frustration when we are given codes or signs we cannot interpret. We wind up spinning our wheels on dead opportunities or wasting time on long shots. A social person with a strong perceptiveness would probably move on more quickly and rebound, whereas it’s easier for us on the spectrum to get stuck still looking for answers which will never come. Especially so when it’s what we want most.

2. Charlie Hustle

Ever watch ‘Better Call Saul’? Jimmy McGill’s nickname is Charlie Hustle. He started in the mail room and eventually rises to the rank of attorney through hard work, social cunning and strong perception. His ability to feel out situations where he could ascertain an opportunity or advantage allowed for great success — not to mention his personable nature.

The same skills are required for success in Hollywood. You will eat crow in low paying positions with the only way up the same skill set Jimmy had. Just to find those mailroom positions is often difficult enough on its own! This is not to say people with Apsergers lack hustle – not at all. We work just as hard but often require more guidance or mentorship at the outset of our careers. We lack the same level of natural perception and social cunning that might make us take risk or sniff out that ‘new position’ which may not yet be available. We work hard but constantly second guess ourselves and are unlikely to pick up a phone without encouragement — good luck finding that in the mailroom! Without a good mentor, it’s very easy to wind up lost and directionless navigating a complex industry.

3. Oversharing & Blunt Talk

So much of this business is about having a certain personality. Part of that is being really level-headed, positive and not oversharing. People on the spectrum tend to lack a filter that comes natural to others. Sometimes this leads people to conclude someone on the spectrum is too blunt. We’re usually too honest for our own good. Especially when we’re frustrated, or doubting ourselves — we take to Twitter, blogs or just vent to others because we desire to be understood and seek empathy. This could come across as emotionally unstable or weak (i.e why would someone say that?). We’re not emotionally unstable, but we are sensitive (weakness in this field). This industry requires thick skin and an understanding of when to say a white lie or avoid how one is really feeling. You gotta sell that confidence and that smile – you’re happy to be here! People on the spectrum are honest and morally inclined. To lie, be phony, talk shit or just play a good game of bullshit is not in our nature. We are more likely to despise it.

4. Adherence to Meritocracy

Those on the spectrum tend to have very high IQs. They usually know they’re very smart and so for someone who is morally inclined and intelligent it is hard to settle for the world of nepotism, favors and brokered deals which place intelligence and potential after ‘the right cultural fit.’ It is hard to watch ‘the right fit’ win over the best qualified, or the person with most potential. Hollywood is not a meritocracy. This is probably the most annoying thing to those on the spectrum because of their moral inclination and very black or white sense of fairness and justice. It’s why people on the spectrum tend to flock toward industries which are more meritocratic like the hard sciences. There one’s intelligence and capability is more important. Not so in Hollywood, you could be average and capable with the right personality and win over the person who may be brilliant but not be ‘the right fit.’
While many with Aspergers are writers, directors and musicians, not many are screenwriters; probably because writing novels is an introverted process whereas writing scripts is collaborative. You have to deal with that junior exec’s notes; someone who got the job from their aunt. Being a director or musician, one is in charge of the creative process (and the directors I refer to here aren’t the Yes men working for studios, but in the Indie world). You must have incredible social aptitude to be a good screenwriter – not just a good writer.

Conclusion.

All of these examples may not apply. In some cases none apply. However in most cases a combination of those difficulties can make it extremely difficult to break into the coveted film industry with autism/Aspergers. While many on the spectrum are very creative and capable, they are often deemed not the right fit. It’s easy to fall trap to social stuntedness. The most one can do is be self aware of these limitations and try to fight them (it’s what I do every day). I won’t say it’s not hard — it’s a constant struggle where for others the pursuit is more effortless. I am a well of potential crashing up against the walls. While I will never use my Apsergers as an excuse, certainly not for my failures, I will also not deny that it does occasionally play a part. I am my own worst enemy, and I must conquer myself before I can the industry beyond.

Head in the Clouds

What do you want to do?

Such a simple, yet loaded question. Some know the answer right away. Others spend a lifetime trying to answer it. For me, I know exactly what I want to do – the trouble is it’s not an easy thing to do at all.

I often try and distract myself from my jealousy of friends who made bank in computer science. They have an abundance of both opportunity and money. I got angry when a friend said that because he works for a certain tech company he could live anywhere, including Paris. In fact, he told me he was considering it. It was like a slap across the face because it was him bragging that he could get what I most want…

What do I want to do? I want to be a writer and live in Paris.

Hahahahahahahaha

Ok now that you’re done laughing at me, allow me to finish. I get this is a pipe dream. But only I’m stubborn and tenacious enough to try and squeeze through that pipe. In two and a half weeks I will take my life savings to LA to begin to try and accomplish that dream. Continue to write, get any job in the industry – we all start somewhere.

The truth is I know exactly what I want but no idea how to get there. I guess none of us really do. There is no strategy guide for life. There is no how-to. Not having the answers is frustrating. Within that frustration is the torment that comes from imagining having the answers – the day dreams of living in Paris. Oh and the day dreams of working for the man I call Paris.

I’ve worked hard getting the experience I need to take this next step. Two days back from my favorite place in the world and I feel a shadow of myself. I’ve lost all momentum. I’ve stared at the same point in my script for a half an hour before returning to relive my videos of Paris again. I’ve spent so many minutes thinking of working for Paris too that I just wish it were reality. It’s completely counter-productive.

I have my head so firmly stuck in the clouds I can’t focus on how to actually make my day dreams my daily reality.

What do I want to do? I know exactly what I want to do. I may not get there but I’ll spend a life time trying… if only I could get my head out of the clouds, maybe I’ll get back to Paris, maybe to work for Paris, to write this script… to make my dreams a reality or something close to it.

The truth is, what is life if there is nothing grand to aspire to? The only one who can make your dreams a reality is you – so it’s time to get to work.

Brought to You By

originally a short script. Adapted as a short story format.

A Long Island Shopping Mall. The mall is crowded with shoppers meandering aimlessly through the labyrinth of stores, ads and fatty food carts. On one corner just before the elevator that takes you to more of the same is a fantasy bookstore, THE TREASURE CHEST.
It’s a relic from yesteryear when people still clamored for the latest fantasy fiction in physical form and so unsurprisingly the store is offering a “BLOWOUT, EVERYTHING MUST GO” sale ahead of its permanent closure.

Inside, Terry, a 30-something bookish young lady works the cash register. Only a few patrons wait in line, with one lady adamant about her interpretation of the stores signage. “It says everything must go, shouldn’t that apply to the Fabulous Four comics too? I want to see a manager!”

Terry calm as ever, “I am the manager, and I’m sorry but we don’t set those prices.” She points to a display table. “That is the table that applies to the comics and fantasy novels on sale.”

Not having it, “you really need to change your sign then, because this is false advertising, I’m not paying 10 Blipcoins for that when I can watch 15 ads and get it on Amazon for free!” The lady leaves in a huff, immediately on her phone – to complain most likely.

James, the other clerk on shift gives Terry a look that implies this is the regular interaction they’ve come to expect from today’s customers. “Pretty soon, we’re just gonna barter with each other for Blipcoins or ad-hours to redistribute for our very survival.”

Terry is half-joking, “your cynicism depresses me… I’m leaving for break, be back in fifteen.”

The pizza place is the least crowded line compared to all the cheaper chain eateries. As Terry waits in line, an overly enthusiastic man approaches her with an unsolicited pitch. “Hey there, do you have a moment to talk about women’s health issues?”

Terry is visibly annoyed, “no, I’m actually on break.”

Pleading, “it’ll only take a minute!”

Adamant, “I only have ten of those left…”

The man frowns, walks away to find another woman to prod. Terry lines up her phone under the scanner to pay. The zit-faced pizza boy speaks up, “I can save you an extra blipcoin if you watch two ads?”

Almost exhausted by the intrusion at this point, “no thanks.”

Terry finds a seat next to a family of four, the kids treat the food court like the playground. The parents keep to their phones. Terry leans back, working her own phone. A new text pops up from Allison, “I can’t believe he died! OMG.” The link is jumbled into a sketchy bit link format, not revealing its site name. She clicks it anyways.

On screen, an ad page half loads before spitting out a video ad on top of it. An extremely obnoxious Muscle Head of a man starts shouting before a cheesy parking lot background of a  family-style restaurant:

BIMBOS!
Do you like big boobs? Do you like hot wings? Do you like beer? Of course you do! So come on down to
BIMBOS!
Wednesday night is dumb blonde trivia night, the guy with the dumbest girlfriend gets free-refills
ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
BIMBOS! It’s fun to be dumb!

The ad closes out to reveal a three sentence long paragraph about the death of former internet sensation, Grumpy Face cat: “Meme celebrity, GRUMPY FACE is dead. Sources say the cat died of natural causes. Check back for more updates!”

The kids smash a chair to the ground. People look up from their smart phones, then return to business as usual. Terry scrolls down to read the comments section even though she knows better, reading them in her head…

NANCY67 (V.O.)
I made 6,700 blip coin and two hundred ad hours in one week with this amazing work at home trick! CLICK CLICK CLICK NOW !!!!

Terry takes a sip from her soda, more comments…

PATRIOTBOB (V.O.)
This is what happens in Democrat America, we care more about dead cats than dead patriots fighting illegal immigrants on our border! Your dumb!

CONCERNEDCITIZEN101 (V.O.)
*you’re

PATRIOTBOB (V.O.)
*you’re Gay.

Terry closes out the phone screen when an alert pops up: “Break Over In Five Minutes” — She gets up throws her plate in the trashcan, which is also covered in several ADS…
KEEP AMERICA GREEN, AMERICANS FOR CLEAN COAL, AMERICANS FOR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, RECYCLE YOUR OLD JUNK.

The sanitized off-white corridor is so saturated with ads, it’s a wonder any of them actually makes an impression. A wireless stand catches Terry’s attention: “NEW IFruit IN STOCK!!!” A mass of people are on line for it. Two adult men argue over who was in line first… “I slept in my car last night, you’re just gonna cut me?!”

Terry reaches the safety of THE TREASURE CHEST, empty but for a single Chinese man in his 40s. “Hi do you work here?”

“I do, how can I help you?”

“I’d like to buy your entire inventory, how many Blipcoins?”

Terry stares at the man, wondering if he’s joking. “I’d have to consult the owner on that…”

“Can you? Oh that’d be so great, in China, where I am from, people will pay five times the price online for American comics and merchandise.”

Later on, Terry sits in an empty store except for a few remaining fantasy novels and old stuffed animals of Pikaman, a Japanese anime animal popular over ten years ago.

James is back from his break too, “so do we just close up shop now since China bought our whole inventory?”

Wishing it weren’t so, “we still have the Castle Invader series and a few plushies for sale, so we’re still stuck here until 6.”

“Great… A Game of Palaces knock off and two more hours of work. Plus we’re gonna be stuck here for Ad-Blitz.” James slumps even deeper into his cynicism.

Terry dusts off some shelves with a paper towel, the towel also has an ad: Get 50% Off Wings At Bimbos By Presenting This Towel. “What if I cleaned up dog shit with this towel, you think they would accept the coupon?”

Snapping out of it, “their wings taste like dog shit anyways, so probably.” James laughs at his own bad joke when a  YOUNG BOY enters, looking around bewildered at the absence of stuff.

“Hi do you have The Fabulous Four comic?”

“Uh I think we just sold them all to a 40 year old dude.” James can’t believe it himself.

“What about the Star Saga action figure set?” The boy isn’t going anywhere just yet.

“Also sold to a 40 year old dude. Sorry little man.” The boy frowns, walks out — when IT hits.

Out in the Mall corridor, A CARNIVAL SIREN fills the halls and several DRONES fill the halls air raid style. Several people try and run for the bathroom, as the drones drop ad-barriers in front of them —

The ad-barrier blurts out: “Watch this ad before you pee, or insert 10 Blipcoin to skip.”
One man happily complies, while a woman punches another barrier, which forces it to replay the ad — “Replay ad selected, three more ads will now show before admission to restroom.”

Caught off guard, “fuck — it’s ad blitz! Quick, make for the back room, maybe we can get out of it again.” Before they can move, an overly bubbly AD-DRONE enters the threshold of the store.

“50 Blipcoin to skip ad-blitz today, OR 10,000 to avoid ad-blitz for the rest of the month.”

Terry is furious, “what kind of shake down is this?! We already paid our ad-blitz fees!”

“I’m sorry, did you say replay ad?” Resistance is futile.

“No, I said we already paid the 10,000!”

“Now playing, 10,000 ads.” The ad-drone gears up for the long haul. Ads shoot out like rapid gun fire… Terry looks at James, they both nod — and split quick.

The two make a mad dash through a cacophony of THOUSANDS OF ADS playing all at once — Ads for paper towels, floor cleaner, classic rock tunes plastered over car commercials, kids toys, adult toys, movie trailers — James chimes in, “I don’t know why we can’t just go back to the model of paying actual rent to the owner of Smithson Malls, this ad-blitz crap is insane!”

The two round a corner when Terry slams into an AD-DRONE. “Featherweight is the leading brand in feminine hygiene –” Terry punches the drone out of the way, continues toward AN EXIT…

“We’re almost there!” Four Ad-Drones surround James in a glass box —

“I can’t get out of it, it’s a three-dimensional video ad!”

“Please wait 30 seconds before continuing to exit.”

Hopeless, “just leave without me, it’s OK! I have ad-block!”

Terry makes it out, THE BUZZ of ad-blitz can be heard from inside, it’s a lifeboat perspective of the sinking Titanic. Thirty seconds of running and Terry begins to wonder whether James has made it out, turning back toward the door from the parking lot, distant screams mixing with anxiety drug ads… “Come on James, use the ad block.”  Terry waits, fixated on the doors, but nothing.

Back in the mall nearest the exit, a pile of drones towers all the way to the ceiling, blinking and repeating their moniker: “Illegal contraband detected. Ad-Block forbidden…” There’s no sign of James, or anyone in the immediate area. The Drones moniker and beeping FADE TO….

A suburban living room. Terry sits on the couch, a worried expression on her face as she watches the local news. Several pop up ads appear over the INTRO THEME, before falling away to reveal the Anchor Desk. In the usual melodramatic anchor voice, “Ad-Blitz has claimed another four lives, bringing the death toll to 146 during the controversial programs operation in American Shopping Malls.”

The Broadcast is interrupted by a COMMERCIAL, abruptly — A legal ad: “Have you or your loved one by assaulted by ad-drones?”

Terry tries muting the television, a prompt appears: “mute not available during this program.”

“FUCK IT ALL TO HELL!” Terry picks up the television, ripping the chord from the wall, and SMASHES the TV. Her mother rushes in…

“Do you realize how many ads I’m going to have to watch to replace that TV?!”

“Maybe if we actually went back to paying for things in physical currency instead of watching ads people wouldn’t die!”

Like this is reasonable, her mother retorts, “it’s cheaper, Terry. Blipcoin is hard to come by these days.”

“You don’t find it even remotely disturbing that only the wealthy Silicon Valley elites who program the Blipcoins on their servers can afford to avoid ad-blitz?” Check mate.

“They spent their entire lives programming currency, redistribution of Blipcoin is socialist nonsense, I didn’t raise you to think like that.”

“Sometimes I’d rather live on a deserted island…” Terry thinks about this for a moment…

****

A beautiful land of palm trees, foliage-laden mountains and white-pearl sand in a oasis of tropical blue water. Terry has found herself in a makeshift hammock, beside a camp fire roasting wild meat. She rolls over to see: A SHINY OBJECT on the shoreline. She squints, but can’t quite make it out, so she decides to walk toward it…

A calm island breeze mixes with the rhythmic motion of crashing waves, waves which have washed ashore: A BOTTLE. Terry picks it up, it’s a bottle of BUDWASTED, she notices something blinking inside — when dread overcomes her, she CHUCKS the bottle but it’s too late!

An AD-DRONE escapes the confines of the bottle. “Please insert 50 Blipcoin to pass ads, or watch two ads to drink your next two BUSWASTED absolutely free!”

Terry falls to her knees… “NOOOOOOOOOO!”

END

New Capitalism

Earlier this morning I came across a provocative headline for a Forbes article on Facebook — “If It Doesn’t Change, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity by 2050.”

Meant to illicit clicks, it did its job. I read through the article but found myself somewhat perplexed by its conclusion – that we must adopt “new capitalism.”

What is this ‘new capitalism’ you might ask? Quite simply, what the author unintentionally advocated for was Marxism. While he used examples of start-up culture to illustrate the idea of labor owning the means of their production – it is not Silicon Valley who founded this economic philosophy. Unfortunately, here in America we’ve been sold a bad bill of goods about democratic socialism and its underlying Marxist philosophy because our schools have long indoctrinated us against anything but capitalism.

The Red Menace, communism, The Soviet Union – a bastion of evil, horrible living conditions and a people abused by autocratic rulers. It is a place where your neighbor might be ratting you out to the spies. The buildings all look the same and so too do the cities as a result. Planned cities, cities like Chernobyl, a crumbling relic of planed living shrouded in a toxic cloud of atomic dust. Big giant nuclear bombs and missile parades celebrating pure lust of power – of global domination and where America and capitalism and freedom is the enemy! The Domino Theory and the end of the world as we know it. Most importantly, where Marxism is the root of all this evil.

This is how American school kids are taught about Marxism. Any word tangentially associated with this great evil – the USSR – is by proxy considered anti-American and evil. So to discuss the actual merits of Labor owning the means of production (you know, real Marxism) is a complete non-starter. You can’t even broach the topic with most people born before 1985, and many after too.

That is because they live and have lived many generations in an America where they were taught by Boomers afraid of the red menace to fear communism and that socialism was a bridge to said evil. They believed and continue to believe and educate our kids that Capitalism will set you free – that it is a system which offers choice and prosperity. Communism these educators say offers no such choice, it is anti-freedom – or more specifically it is anti-American.

The education system in America is designed to intentionally obfuscate and propagandize corporate capital and consumption. It is designed to protect the status quo and keep you mindlessly strolling through shopping malls. So instead of a debate between two economic theories – one where labor owns the means of production (Marxism), the other where capital owns the labor class (Capitalism) – we get a Cowboy versus Indian story of good versus evil. And as a result, John Wayne is considered an American hero while writers trying to organize for better workers rights were blackballed from an entire industry.

So beyond this good versus evil nonsense taught in our schools what does Marxism, or rather “New Capitalism” look like?

It looks like Germany, where the board of companies like Mercedes are split 50-50 between the workers and the owners. It is in start-up culture, and companies like Google, where workers participate in profit sharing agreements so as to own a piece of the company themselves. It is in Italy, Germany and Nordic nations where in order to become CEO, you don’t graduate with an MBA and nab the job but work in every facet of the company as a worker beforehand. Workers owning the means of production mean that robber barons and titans of industry can’t screw them over because they can block that from happening because they own the means of their production instead of it being owned exclusively by the capital class.

On the government side of this equation, It is in Western European nations like France which has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. While they pay higher taxes, they pay less than we do out of pocket for superior care. In fact we pay more out of pocket for life’s necessities than Europeans do — but we don’t call it a tax. Although it should be treated as such, only we pay our tax to aloof corporate overlords instead of benevolent government.

What else is provided by said taxes?  University is subsidized – in many cases free – and only the brightest attend. For those where college isn’t an option, they train via trade schools and educate their kids in high school better than many American colleges do. They invest in science and research. They have state of the art facilities like CERN. Arts and letters are supported versus looked down upon as a waste of time. Many European high school students are better educated and more well rounded than Americans with bachelors degrees!

Americans have been sold a lie. Ask yourself why you can’t afford your healthcare premium/deductibles? Capitalism. Ask yourself why you can’t send your kid to the college of their dreams without incurring massive debt? Capitalism. Ask yourself why you can’t afford to buy a home when your parents could years ago? Capitalism. Ask why your wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and you can barely afford to feed your family? Capitalism.

Capitalism is socialism for the rich. It is the massive theft of Labor redistributed to the capital class at the expense of your economic well being. It is a system of freedom and choice, but only if you have lots of capital. Capitalism has an end stage, and that stage is upon us now – where only the rich have choice and opportunity. You have people making off with the whole damn pie while we are left fighting over the crumbs!

The only reason this is possible in America is because people still see socialism as a dirty word – associated with the USSR. They have been indoctrinated since childhood by a school system that sought to lie to them. A system which told them if they worked hard and did a good job, they’d be able to live the American dream. They lied.

But it’s not too late. We can have an honest debate about the merits of empowering labor, as Marx advocated – but only if we first get rid of the propaganda in our education, entertainment and political landscape. This will be a tough fight, but it is an essential one to have. Let’s go out there and fight for “New capitalism” – since socialism is such a dirty word.

A Political Fiction (The Conclusion)

This is fiction. It is purely for entertainment purposes only and any likeness to actual events or persons is purely coincidental. 

Read Part II here

PART III

A sole camera points at the empty chair behind the desk in the Oval Office. Beside it, the President paces back and forth before his advisor.

“Millions voted for me. They voted for me to take a hard line approach. I did a good job!” It is not so much of a statement, but a self congratulatory remark. The president continues undeterred, “I am not going to resign at the first threat of force – not just yet.”

His advisor smiles, ‘go on’ his face suggests.

“I am not going down without a fight.” The president barges out of the Oval Office. “Get this camera outta here. Get it out!”

In the press pool, reporters anxiously await the press secretary. A nervous chatter develops when the Secretary enters the stage. Everyone goes silent as he grabs the microphone.

“The President and his Vice President will resign at 4PM this evening.” He walks off immediately thereafter – leaving a million questions unanswered. The media go into a frenzy.

On the Whitehouse lawn, international and national press cover the developing story with shock. An NBC anchor breaks the story first, “the President and his Vice President are both planning to resign at 4PM. It is revealed to us by sources close to the matter that the Speaker of the House will be tapped to take his place.”

Out at sea, the broadcast reaches the Sino naval offense. An officer relays the news to the admiral. In Mandarin, “they say he is stepping down.”

A long pause as the admiral stares out at the water crashing against his lead destroyers bow. “Maintain course. This man is a slippery snake. I will believe it when I see it myself.” His officer bows and leaves.

3PM, the West Wing. The President has shored himself up in an undisclosed location within the West Wing along with his advisor. The President is furiously typing at a computer terminal, he finishes.

“One down.” The President prints out his memo on official Executive Order letterhead.

His advisor chimes in, “this takes us out of NATO and cuts all funds to the UN.”

“Excellent.” The President signs and begins typing a new letter. “The next one is to cut all trade with China.”

Later on in the Oval Office, the camera remains positioned in front of the desk. The Vice President and his officials have gathered. It’s now 3:55.

“Mr. Vice President, have you heard from the President?” A senior official grows worried.

“No sir I have not. I have not spoken to him in two days.” The room reacts in shock.

Before anyone can say anything, the President enters with a stack of bound papers. “I am ready.”

News stations broadcast the address worldwide. He begins, “my fellow Americans, I am agreeing to step down for the good of this nation and to avoid further escalation with China and other enemies.”

Protests erupt in cheers. Cars honk across America. Celebration begins as if it is the end of world war from coast to coast as the news pours in.

On the ship, the Admiral gives order to halt further progress. A horn blasts. He gives orders to his officers, “halt progress and call off the advance. Await further instructions on prisoners. We will return them to the next administration… with a message.”

Meanwhile the President continues, “I deeply apologize for my social media being maliciously hacked. But I will not apologize for trying to make us more safe. That is why I have drafted several executive orders in my final hours…”

SEVERAL DAYS LATER.

The new president sits at his unelected desk. Phone calls pour in. “Yes I understand, but I plan to govern much differently from my predecessor.” Dial tone. He turns to his new advisor, “so we’re shut out of NATO, the UN, several countries have brought sanctions against us including some of our allies and China will no longer trade with us or buy our debt and Russian troops have built up a military presence on their western border with Europe.” He catches his breath. “He’s completely fucked us.”

Thousands of miles away in the Kremlin, the Russian president swings open the doors to his office. The former president enters alone. “Welcome to Russia my friend. You’ve done my country a great service.” The former president sits. The Chinese-looking hackers from the train car are seated at the bar in plain clothes. “These are my friends who helped with the twitter account – Kazakh-Chinese agents, all former KGB.” The former president nods to them.

“So what about my assets, my debt is forgiven as well?” The former president is almost intimidated by the Russian leader, who reacts with a wry smile.

“All gone my friend. We will harbor you here to protect you from prosecution and look forward to hosting your enterprise. It will prove very popular here in Russia. You’re a true hero.” The Premier walks to the bar. “Lets have a drink.” He pours himself the last of the bottle. “It appears we’ve run out.” He motions to the former KGB agent to fill a glass from a new bottle. “My own family recipe.”

The former President cheers, takes a shot. “This is terrific, thank you.” Behind him two guards appear. He grows feint.

“Please escort our friend to his new home. And do make him feel comfortable.” He tries to resist but the poison is too powerful, he’s asleep almost immediately. The Premier turns to his comrades, “advance the troops on the Western front. It is time to reunite the Satellite Republics.”

END

Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power” – James Madison, Federalist Papers, 1788

A Political Fiction (Part II)

This is for entertainment purposes only. It is not based on any credible threat or Intel. It does not advocate treason or sedition. It is fiction and any coincidence, people or events portrayed in this story are also fictitious.

Read Part I here

PART II – On the Brink of War

The generals come to terms with what they have just heard. He’s their president, they are to obey his orders as commander in chief. Yet their faces ask a question they won’t dare pose aloud “what if he is wrong?”

The senior most general, head of Defense chimes in, “sir I’m not sure we have the man power you need. We’re spread thin at the moment. Most of our fleet is patrolling the waters off Iran in the Gulf, not to mention off Africa and around the Middle East.”

“Then scramble what we do have. We won’t be met with our pants down.” The president abruptly gets up. “Find me a working twitter account.”

“Sir might a speech to the nation be better suited at this fragile moment in time?” His staffer gets out of his way as the President swiftly exits the situation room.

News crews gather around the island of Oahu in Hawaii. All cover the same story. We focus on CNN, “I’m here live from Oahu where several credible sources at the Pentagon are saying there is a large Chinese naval presence offshore. Are we headed to war?”

Another crew covers the concurrent narrative of the presidents personal Twitter, “the latest message is tweeted in Chinese traditional characters, when translated reads ‘America is no longer the world’s greatest super power.'”

At the White House, the President emerges from the situation room to his lower level staffers surprise. They watch the news unfold on several TV monitors.

“Turn it off! Turn it off. It’s fake news, turn it off.” Embarrassed for him, they comply. All stand around waiting for orders. He doesn’t say another word. Suddenly his advisor emerges from the room too, grabbing his shoulder.

“Are you just gonna let those career assholes run the show? This is your time to lead! Get back in there, I’ll have your back.” The president gets the jolt of energy he needs. They head back down.

The president re-enters the situation room as camera footage shows naval cruisers preparing to meet the Sino forces. “Give me updates, now.” The president speaks with forceful confidence as he takes a seat at the head of the table.

“Sir we have activated our entire Pacific fleet, mobilized from Pearl Harbor with backup forces on alert in San Diego. We will approach by air first without firing. We have already scrambled Navy jets to issue said fly over.” The general eyes the President as if to expect a retort.

“Good.” He sits, almost too comfortable. “What is the status of my Twitter?”

The two generals eye each other – their faces suggest ‘how do we tell him?’ The head of Defense steps forward and clears his throat. “Mr. President…”

A long pause. Too long of a pause. “What, what is it?” The president grows impatient.

“Mr. President the Chinese have asked that you resign the office of the presidency, along with your Vice President due to violating Chinese territory in Taiwan.”

He throws a tantrum, banging his fists on the table. “I will not bow down to these thugs! We will win this war. Taiwan isn’t theirs. The whole world knows that! If I have to build hotels up and down Taiwan I fucking will!”

The general continues unfazed by the outburst, “sir that’s not all. They said failure to comply with this request will result in escalation. You have five hours to comply.”

His advisor chimes in, outraged, “we don’t negotiate with terrorists. This man was democratically elected!”

A lower ranked general chimes in, “they’re not terrorists, they’re a nation state. There are people rioting in our streets across the country demanding you step down and a Republican congress ready to impeach. We risk war with a nation of three billion people and likely no allies to help.”

“You’re fired.” He says it with almost a grin. But the general doesn’t move. “I said you’re fired!”

The head general tries to restore order, “sir, respectfully, I think you need to take a page from the Nixon administration and consider what is best for the country.”

News footage shows massive protests across the nation. Fires, and Black Bloc mobs setting storefronts ablaze all over the nation. Sirens, and first responders overwhelmed. Protesters chanting for impeachment. It’s 1968 all over again, as the national guard is activated in response.

With the drumming of protests and the slow burning fire not far off in the distance, we catch site of a familiar rail yard. In the background is Washington DC. Just past the entrance to the rail yard, the refrigerated rail car. The agents have been operating out of DC the whole time.

Inside the men make their final preparations. They rig the train car with timed mines. The senior Intel officer bows, “it’s time.” They swiftly gather laptops and anything with traceable evidence and flee.

Guards spot them exiting this time, and a chase ensues. The dogs are let out ahead of them. The men reach the exit as the guards pull their weapons and aim down sights. Target locked. Finger on trigger. A massive sound.

Just as the guards approach the train car, it explodes killing them instantly! The agents continue on foot, with the dogs still in pursuit. Finally, the German Shepard takes down the slowest agent. The senior agent stops, turns to the dogs. He raises a handgun… instead of shooting the dogs, he shoots the agent in the head and continues. A black Mercedes sprinter van opens its doors for him. He jumps in. Smoldering wreckage in its wake.

The cockpit of a naval fighter jet. Several jets in tow in a V formation. Our pilot makes out the lead cruiser in the Sino naval command. “Got them in sight over.” The jets make a low altitude pass over the boats bow. Two hover in place.

Several Chinese officers cheer at its sight, ready for a fight, fists in air. The jets begin a broadcast. “You are entering US Waters, turn around now. You are entering US Waters, this can be construed as an act of war.” On the captains deck, the admiral smiles. He gives signal for the horns to be blared again. Then he gives another signal, “lock on target.”

In the situation room, things grow tense. His head of defense hangs up the phone. “That’s a no from France, a no from all of NATO actually. Even the U.K. says it will only cautiously watch the situation right now. Most cited your desire to defund NATO as reason.”

“What about Russia,” the president asks almost dumbfounded. “If our so called allies won’t help, let’s see if they will.”

“Also a no due to sanctions, we tried.” The president shrinks in his chair as the general tells him this. Perhaps the lowest blow of them all, his face can’t help but show incredible disappointment, heartache even.

“These are our allies!” The advisor is outraged. “This is why NATO is obsolete, they pay nothing and won’t come to our defense!”

A staffer enters. “We have word from the UN, almost the entire body is willing to take this up in special session and call for the resignation of the US President to ensure restoration of peace.”

“I don’t answer to the UN, I don’t answer to anyone!” The president is furious now. “Who is using my twitter? I will sue them for defamation and criminal hacking.”

“Sir, perhaps you will answer to us. Step aside or millions may needlessly die in conflict.” The president almost seems to not be listening. A phone rings, cutting through the tension. It is the emergency phone, he puts it on speaker.

“Sir, two of our naval planes were shot down. The pilots have been taken hostage.” The general slowly hangs up in disbelief and turns to his president.

“Do what is right for your country and resign, sir.”

“You’re all fired.” The president won’t back down, yet his voice seems weak if only for the first time. Nobody moves. “I said you’re fired. You’re fired!” He remains seated in his chair with his arms crossed, obstinent and determined like a child in the grocery store aisle who refuses to put the pop tarts back. He looks small, helpless. Even his advisor seems unsure of him now. Never has he seemed so weak in his life.

The advisor gets up. “Sir, let’s go.” The two exit the room. The five hours are up.

On the Chinese destroyer, the admiral is aware of the time as well. “No response. Set course for San Francisco.”

A Political Fiction (Part I)

The following is pure fiction intended for entertainment purposes only. It is not based on any empirical evidence or based upon any credible threat, foreign or domestic. 

PART I

A rail yard in an undisclosed location, two masked figures in black move decisively in the dusk toward a refrigerated train car. German Shepards bark in the distance, we catch first glimpse of a guard tower to the East. Flash lights appear beneath other cars, guards footsteps approaching fast. One masked figure tries to key into the rail car from outside. The keys remain red, the code is no good. The other man pushes him out of the way, tries another combination. It works, just as the German Shepard’s and guards round the corner – to a dead end.

Inside the train car is a state of the art computer terminal with servers and several monitors. Two Chinese men meet them. One, clearly senior in rank, steps forward and speaks in Mandarin, “did you bring it?” The man removes a brief case from a black backpack with a nervous nod.

Washington DC. A red carpet gala awaits this years new Congressional leadership. Media gathers, photographing and interviewing several politicians in line for the black tie event.

In an undisclosed location, the President lays out a choice of bold red ties before returning to his cellphone. He is distracted by several messages. He can’t help but begin to reply to them. A knock — a secret service officer enters.

“We depart on Marine One in ten minutes.” The president gives him a curt nod before returning to his phone.

The messages appear to come from Twitter, indicating that a password change has been requested. He pauses, when another message comes in.

“If you believe this message was sent in err, please reenter your old password and hit send.” The president pauses. A knock catches him off guard as he types in a series of characters and hits send. Two secret service agents enter this time.

“Sir we have reason to believe you may have received an unauthorized text message.”

“No only from Twitter. Everything is fine.”

“Sir, your phone is not secure we need –”

“You said I could continue to tweet. Everything is fine, I’ll turn the phone off. Is Marine One ready?”

The two men aren’t going to fight it any more. They hold the door for him.

Meanwhile, in the rail car… The two masked men have settled in before monitors. The brief case has been converted into an encrypted radio device. One of the senior men step in to use it.

In Mandarin, “Project Shaolin underway.”

At the other end of a radio, a naval officer hangs up the receiver. He gives order to sound the horn.

Beside them are several hundred naval vessels, including aircraft carriers. They all turn up their engines and begin to head in the same direction.

At the red carpet gala, the president exits his limo with several secret service agents building a wall around him ahead of gathering media. Lights flash as cameras capture the presidents arrival. Reporters throw questions at him from all angles.

“Mr. President, many say your ramping up in rhetoric with regards to China is inappropriate.”

“Look – we’re going to put America first. I really don’t care if the Chinese are offended. Next questions.”

A friendlier face catches his attention.

“How are you dear, you look terrific.”

“Oh thank you. Um, Mr. President, can you please explain a tweet sent by you exclaiming we will defend ourselves against any Chinese attacks?”

“I’m sorry can you read me this tweet?”

“‘China is weak. We will defend any attacks with the full force of our SUPERIOR military’ — what does this mean, has there been a threat of attack?”

The President grows pale, silent. His detail rushes him inside. The media erupt in pandemonium. “Mr. President!”

A situation room has been set up. Several military officers in uniform, and the presidents heavyset advisor in an ill fitting suit and crooked tie.

“When was this tweet sent?” A senior official asks.

“I never sent it.” The president is stoic, almost unfazed.

“Sir, it was time stamped fifteen minutes ago.” A military officer looks at the President. “We’ll need your phone sir.”

A staffer enters, hysterical. “We’re locked out, we can’t get into his account!”

Another military officer enters. “I have word from the pentagon. A large Chinese naval presence has been spotted 3000km off Hawaii. We sent a spy plane out. There’s close to 100 vessels, possibly 250,000 men.”

The advisor speaks up, “then bomb them. Why are we sending out spy planes when we should be sending out destroyers!?”

The officer retorts bluntly, “you have no experience to make that call. War with the Chinese is a loosing proposition — Mr. President?”

A long pause. “They got my twitter password. I thought the text was from Twitter.” The room goes silent. Several officers then look at one another. Finally, “scramble all available ships and blockade our borders.”

Read Part II

The Regressive Left

Progressives hate Trump so much, many are willing to believe almost anything negative written or said about him. As these unsubstantiated rumors wind up in the mainstream press, it does the anti-Trump movement and progressive movement beyond it serious lasting damage.

Case in point a popular rumor grasped on to just these past few days: Blackstone Group is wholly owned by Russian billionaires, and Trump owes them a significant sum of money. Ergo, because Trump owes Russians money via the Blackstone Group, Russia had a vested interest in hacking Trump’s rivals.

Except, Blackstone Group isn’t owned by Russian billionaires, nor are there any Russians in ownership positions. In fact, Blackstone Group doesn’t even have a major Russian portfolio due to risks associated with the country. The firm pulled out of all Russian investments in September 2014, a full year before Trump even announced his candidacy. While Trump does have a relationship with Blackstone, so do most New Yorkers in the real estate sector. Blackstone has the largest portfolio of New York real estate on record.

So how did such an obviously false rumor wind up in Mediaite and other major left-leaning blogs and opinion commentator appearances? It seems to have been spammed all over the Internet first.

A quick google search of the exact phrase “Blackstone wholly owned by Russian billionaires” reveals approximately three pages of results! Possibly more, but I figured three pages of the exact same 500+ word comment were enough evidence to prove my theory of comment spam. In fact, the same comment appears on numerous media sites’ comment sections – from Variety to MSNBC. Most notably, a top comment on Donald Trump’s official Facebook page.

You can see the Facebook comment here: img_6085

It is so long and rambling a comment, a single screen shot could not capture it all. I am not sure who started this comment, as all are posted within a short time frame of one another. It could be human, or bot. It’s possible that it is the same person behind the spam, or just guilable people passing along the rumor. What is clear is that it is a completely unsubstantiated rumor not supported by any facts.

Since the fallout of Russian meddling in our election process, progressives have lost their ability to reason. Many trusted media outlets’ opinion sections (and even beyond editorials) are beginning to read like a rant from Alex Jones. Jones, a notable conservative conspiracy theorist, is well known for his emotional tirades and nonsensical rants on his website and numerous documentaries. He is so passionate about his beliefs that he will print and say almost anything with little to no peer reviewed research or legitimate sources provided. Progressives have long criticized him and eventually sought to ignore him altogether since he clearly lacked any credibility.

Now progressives are engaging in the same behavior. They will print or say almost anything that is negative about Trump. Progressives are so worried about Donald Trump, they will stop at nothing to undermine him. They have lost all reasoning ability – reposting Facebook comments as political theory. There is a sense of hysteria on the Left right now and much like the hysteria of Alex Jones, it has the ability to seriously undermine credibility.

Donald Trump is a very flawed man and an even more seriously flawed politician. It is not hard to act within the bounds of professionalism and journalistic integrity when criticizing this man and his dangerous incoming administration. Lets not stoop to the level of Alex Jones and the numerous opinionated fake news propaganda pieces that helped to elect Trump. Someone has to be the adult in the room, and right now there doesn’t appear to be one.