Friday, August 29, 2008

Top 10 Wishes

So you are walking down the beach and you see a strange looking bottle. You pick it up and uncork it to find that a rather large genie is standing before you. To show you his gratitude the genie will grant you 1 (count em 1) wish. He mentioned how the 3 wishes thing was blown up by the media and it was never really the case. Now to put a twist on it, a 2nd genie comes out of the bottle and says he will give you your wish as well. Wow! you think, 2 X the wishes (I wish you would beat me 1/2 to death with that stick...if you don't know the joke, send me a comment, it's worth a retell) The catch with the 2nd wish is this is how the genie WANTS to grant it to you.

So to get this straight. wish 1 is the wish the way you want it. Wish 2 is the same wish but the way the genie wants to give it to you. Rules of wishes. We've all heard these before, but lets go over them one more time if you aren't a Disney Fan. 1. You can't alter someone else's will (make others fall in love with you, do something they don't want to do etc). 2. You can't wish for more wishes you greedy so and so. One wish is more than anyone gets so be satisfied with it. 3. No bringing back people from the dead (there is some lee way on killing them).

Here we go!

10. Money - Duh. The genie is so tired of this wish, he's thinking of just showing up with a couple of gold bricks to cuff you up side your head with. Money money money. Everyone wishes for it. You know I do. The funny thing is, If I look at how much I make and what I have now, I've already got more than 95% of the people on the planet. The Genie is probably disgusted. So if the wish is money, depending on how you wished it, The Good genie would give you a bank account with endless 0's in it's balance. The bad genie (thanks monkeys paw!) will kill a close wealthy relative so you can collect the money, or put you in a horrible disfiguring accident that leaves you without the use of your arms and legs but receiving an impossibly huge settlement from all the oil companies and Martha Stewart (it was a really bad accident).

9. Security - This is what we are really asking for when we ask for money. What we really want is security. I would love to know my job is always there for me, or my family will always be safe etc. Who needs money if you have security. Of course the mean Genie will just kill you because the dead fear nothing. If by Genie rules he's not allowed to kill you, he will probably just poof you a large handgun and a conceal carry permit. The good genie has a bigger problem. How do I give you ultimate security? Probably make you immortal, but that wasn't the wish. The good genie would be left with telling you that any genuine fear you have will be immediately taken care of on a case by case basis. Depending on how fearless you are already this wish may end up being a moot point because a lot of people make their own security.

8. Youth - Of course if you are young, you don't know the value of this wish. As you age everything about you gets older except your brain. Your brain still thinks of you at around 20 or so. This is why you'll see so many middle aged men incur sports related injuries at their 25 year High School Reunion. The good genie would of course give you your 20ish body that you would have to explain to all of your currently middle aged friends. The bad genie would likely have an island full of really old ugly people and tell you that as long as you stay on that island you will be 20 years old, but if you leave you'll look worse than a picture of Dorian Grey.

7. Immortality - This is a little different than Youth. People that wish for this are wishing to not have to worry about things like disease and dying but will be stuck at the age they are at. You might be able to get a dismemberment rider in there to say that you also will not lose any appendages and everything will work properly throughout the eons. Of course if you have watched Highlander at all, you know that being immortal means that you must get used to the idea that all of your friends and family will die. The good genie will give you the immortality you seek and you will be impervious to death and disease. The bad genie will think about it for a while and then put you in a coma to be maintained by medical science indefinitely. Not what you asked for exactly, but it makes him snicker.

6. Beauty/Charisma. Tired of being the ugly bag of bones you are? Want those model looks that God didn't grace you with? Just tap that wish and it's all yours. Wait a minute. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? So if you are looking for ultimate beauty either you would have to change in appearance to match the ideal of whoever is beholding you, or you would have to become a universal definition of beauty (look it up in the dictionary, picture of you). The good genie just makes it easy and makes you the most beautiful/handsome person you could possibly be and nobody would deny it. The bad genie would just send you to church where everyone would tell you you looked great.

5. The destruction of your enemy - Hold on there cowboy! no wishing against the will of someone else! OH!!! you don't want to directly affect them, just everything around them...hmmmm...So you don't care how well off you are, you just want to make sure that jerk suffers. really have some anger issues don't you. Well, if that's what you want to blow your wish on, I guess we can do it. So your enemies fields are salted, their animals are starved to death, they can't find a good job. The Bad Genie would make it easy and just make your boss managed by you and call it good.

4. I want to give my brother 3 wishes - Very noble indeed, but you remember proviso number 2 above. NO WISHING FOR MORE WISHES!!! Oh, I guess you wouldn't be getting the wishes hmmm. You trust your brother with more wishes than you got? But you figure that your brother would give you what you wish for and he could have 2 wishes left over, that was more than you got. Good genie doesn't like it, but he wanders off to your brother and comes back 3 minutes later. His wife looks like a million bucks, All his credit cards are paid off, but not his house because he needs the tax write off, and he has a magic box that continually makes fresh krispy kreme doughnuts. Your brother wasn't really that bright. The bad genie would just turn you into a genie so you could be in charge of fulfilling your dopey brothers wishes.

3. Eat whatever you want to without gaining weight - I include this because I've heard it so many times. "I wish I could eat whatever I wanted to and it wouldn't go to my (place where your weight goes)." The dieters first wish is to not feel the ill effects of their gluttony. The good genie would just make it so your stomach would only absorb the exact amount of calories that you need and the rest of the food just disappears (maybe to the plate of a very hungry family that could make use of the wishes better than you). The bad genie of course will just make it so you can't walk anywhere, you must wind sprint. after 2 weeks, you'll burn every calorie you ever had.

2. I could do real magic - I remember hoping for something along these lines when I was a kid. when I grew older I scaled down this fruitless wish to the desire to move things with my mind (Telekinesis). Now I would just like to perform a good card trick without my kids telling me where I put the card I hid. The good genie would just give you mental power over all the elements (that should cover it). Of course if you really had this power, you would want to show it off and then you would be the target of nearly every government, but if you could keep it a secret then you would be ok. But then what's the point of doing real magic? The bad genie would once again turn you into a genie and then grumble about the grass being greener as you smoke into your bottle waiting for some other sad sack to pick you up.

1. Lucky - I have wished this many times myself. When the light of good fortune smiles right next to you, you lament your luck. Why can't I be lucky like so and so. I've been right next to a person that has seen a royal flush come up on their draw poker machine. I've seen people win lots of money/prizes and wondered why when I need some luck, the exact opposite happens to me. Well I'm sure a part of it is that I treat lucky events in my life as though they just should have happened so I don't appreciate them. Good genie makes you the best Yahtzee player in recorded history. Bad genie puts you on the planet and then hits it with a meteor to find you the only person left alive. Wow, that was lucky.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Top 10 Characteristics of good bad guys

I love the movies. Not any more than anyone else I suppose, but I love them anyway. They boil down complex human emotion to it's elemental level. A great movie is one that has a simple message that doesn't deviate from that message, but maintains an interesting story line around that message.

One of the biggest difficulties in making a good story is making a good bad guy. Great bad guys in our recent past include but are definitely not limited to Satan, Darth Vader, Cardinal Richelieu, Megatron ( Transformers, not the one from the movies, I would point you in the direction of the Beast Wars series to see them at their best) and more recently Heath Ledgers Joker (Mark Hamil of Star Wars fame did a GREAT job with the Joker in the Batman animated series and shouldn't be forgotten). We know we like the bad guys, but why do we like them? Maybe because they represent us if we had enough guts. Or maybe because they prove our point for us without making us work for it. Or maybe we just like seeing the bad come out and play once in a while. To this end...

Good bad guys are...

10. Men of action - Much like heroes, villains are men of action. They DO things. This sounds stupidly simple, but look at it this way. How many of you have neighbors that would be bad guys if they would just get off of their lazy kiesters and do something. The better part of potential bad guys lie dormant in trailer parks right now with their beer hats and their nachos waiting for the perfect time to strike. If they only cared.

9. Astonishingly poor judges of character - Bad guys make a habit of employing people dumber than they are. This is for two reasons. True villains think that since they are men of action, they are smart. The don't like to be shown they are not the smartest by hiring someone smarter than they are. They also don't want the next bad guy in line to have their seat, so they want to make sure they have underlings they can keep a thumb on. These criterion seriously limit your field of choices vis a vis a potential right hand man.

8. Above average intelligence - The baddies were the guys that never did homework, never studied, never put in an ounce of effort and averaged a B. The reason Bad guys didn't get straight A's is because it wasn't within their character flaws. There is an exception for the Bad guy that has the 'they never appreciated me' origin. Those bad guys got straight A's and nobody noticed or cared because their parents always wanted them to be in the clergy and didn't care about academia (tool of the devil). Please don't think that good guys must be stupid or some such nonsense, I'm just saying that a good bad guy needs smarts.

7. Extremely high in ego - A good bad guy really believes that they are somehow endowed with some kind of chromosomal enhancement that makes them better than everyone else. They usually don't believe they are better because of something they did, but rather that God or nature has given them advantages that the rest of man kind simply can not hope to even understand much less equal. They don't blame you for your lack of superiority, but they are far too important to the future of mankind to allow you to hinder them with your obvious flaws.

6. A finely developed sense of humor/irony - Irony is usually lost on heros and yet we as regular humans love it. We love seeing the little patterns in life and ascribing meaning to them. Now once in a while we will see humor in a hero to be sure, but the best lines are usually the bad guys. 'Pray I don't alter the deal any further', 'No, I expect you to DIE Mr. Bond'. Bad guys love irony because they are an integral part of it and irony is usually what makes a bad guy 'cool'. Without the bad guys, there is less irony and therefore less to appreciate about life.

5. Have a sense that most people are beneath their contempt - A really good bad guy views other human beings as tools to be used to his ultimate aims. Bad guys only have attachments to other humans in that they serve to cover their weaknesses, show off their strengths or assist them in their goals. Apart from that, they are not at all interested in anything that the rest of humanity has to offer. Unless of course they admire other great achievers in history, but all of them are already dead.

4. Are masters of manipulation - A really good bad guy can get the rest of the bad guy world to follow him and believe they are doing themselves a favor in doing so. Often they can get the good guy to use their misplaced sense of morality to put themselves in a pickle without having to do much. The good bad guy can do this because they know your weaknesses better than you do. The good guy always represents the absolute of good which is fairly easy to overcome with the gray of not SO bad. It is the Devil himself that claims to ensnare the hearts of men with 99 Truths and 1 lie.

3. Surprisingly short sighted - Even the best of bad guys fail because they just don't see the big picture. The biggest reason for this is that moral equivalence and manipulation require a loss of perspective big enough to let it make sense to the weak minded. Since the bad guy has to put themselves into this lack of perspective, they also lose the sense of what is best in the long run. what else is typified by short term gains for long term losses...let me think...

2. believe that force is usually necessary - Bad guys don't have enough time to be bogged down by things like democratic process and checks and balances. They want you to start living their model of better life now. So they will circumvent every method of governance possible for their greater good. Great phrases like 'if you wanna make an omelet you gotta break some eggs', and 'In the end you'll see I'm doing this for your own good' are made by the printing press of this ideology.

1. A deep seeded sense of misery - A good bad guy is constantly searching for a happiness/contentment that can not be found through bad guy means. The always feel like they are lacking just a little bit and search for what will fill the void. Obviously absolute power would be the ticket. Ask any 6 year old what would make them happiest and aside for all the ice cream they can eat and their birthday every day, 'Everyone has to do what I say' will show up high on the list. Of course we all know that happiness is not something to be gained but rather a state of mind. Truly happy people are simply happy with small regard to their circumstance. Truly happy people enjoy the journey more than the destination. Miserable people are made more miserable by the fact that the end of their quest does not quench their insatiable fire.

Any resemblance of these traits to humans that you know is purely coincidental...or is it...hmmmmm.