It’s quite interesting to see how the premise for any book, movie or TV show is endemic. The above example of Breaking Bad is a classic, and especially funny given the current furore over affordable health care in the USA. But there are plenty of others.
Sherlock Holmes is a classic example. Imagine a drug addicted, genius, arsehole detective in the modern age where drugs are illegal. Yep: Sherlock and the Hounds of B-Block. Also, before anyone says House, think about how long House would have spent in malpractice suits.
Robinson Crusoe would be pretty difficult to see happening in this day and age. Sure, Tom Hanks tried to convince us that modern people could be lost on an island and survive by their wits and a bunch of FedEx packages. But with modern tracking methods, mapping and the fact that no-one travels by boat now-a-days, Robinson Crusoe would be Bear Grylls or Survivor.
Huckleberry Finn is the tale of a young boy running away with his adult slave. That just wouldn’t happen these days. Now it isn’t that slaves don’t exist anymore (they do), nor the idea of run-aways. A young boy going missing in the USA with a grown man, sounds like an episode of Without a Trace.
The test of a premise really is to see if it would work anywhere else, any-time else. If it doesn’t work anywhere or any-when else, then it is interesting. If it can be transposed, how interesting was the premise to begin with?
A while back I wrote a post on how sharks aren’t the deadly monsters attacking people all the time that we think they are. Now I’m not suggesting that we all go and hug sharks, they only like to be touched by cleaning fish, nor that we jump in to swim with them, they play tag far too roughly for delicate humans. What I’m suggesting is that we really need to start worrying about stuff that is actually a concern rather than stuff that is just wild gesticulations in front of a camera for ratings.
So here is a list of things that kill more people than sharks annually:
The other night I was watching the Fast and Furious 6, which is a great story about how The Rock is proving you don’t need CGI for the next Hulk movie. With the announcement and post-credits scene showing they are making Fast and Furious 7, I thought it was worth re-capping the series so far.
1) The Fast and The Furious
This first instalment is pretty much Point Break with cars.
2) 2 Fast, 2 Furious
Also known as The Curious Case of the Missing Vin Diesel.
3) The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Who are these people? Why are they driving sideways? Where are Paul and Vin?
4) Fast and Furious: Career Booster
After realising that people still like seeing cars at the movies but are only so-so about Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s other films, it was time to film some car porn with the original cast.
5) Fast 5: Bicep Showdown
The Rock and Vin Diesel spend two hours showing off their gym time.
6) Fast and Furious 6: The Rock and some cars
The Rock dwarfs everyone on screen and no-one can see the cars clearly.
7) Fast and Furious 7: Back to Tokyo*
We quickly forget that Paul Walker has been a main cast member of the series as Jason Statham, Tony Jaa, Rhonda Rousey, Vin Diesel and The Rock beat the crap out of each other near some cars.
8) Fast and Furious 8: Reasonably Priced Car
Having realised that with all the protein and creatine the stars have been eating they can no longer afford fancy cars, Vin’s crew now rebuild some small hybrid cars to make them capable of a 20 second quarter mile.
9) Fast and Reasonably Furious 9: Repossession
Despite having downgraded to cheaper vehicles, the sheer weight of the bloated continuation of the series leads to the repo-men arriving and taking all the cars. When Vin and his crew confront the repo-men, the repo’s say “This is what we do.”
10) Fast and Not Really Furious 10: Nursing Home Drift
Now confined to wheelchairs and with rapidly deflating biceps, Vin’s crew trick out some wheelchairs and mobility scooters to pass the time between naps.
Update: According to my news feed, Paul Walker died in a car crash after a charity event at age 40. I’ve written before about Paul Walker seeming like a nice bloke who seems to have made it in films by being a decent guy and not because of acting ability. My comments above about the next Fast and Furious movie suddenly take on a new light, so I just hope the next instalment honours Paul’s involvement in the franchise (it was that initial screen chemistry between Paul and Vin that made the first movie a success). I’d already felt the franchise was drifting away from Paul as the main character, hence the joke about the massive ensemble cast above, so let’s hope they do something cool to honour him.
Radio and Wedding DJs like to dedicate songs, but rarely do they get past the “This one goes out to all the ladies.” or “This one’s for all the lovers.” It seems odd to me that DJs don’t mix it up a bit and play some songs for more specific groups of people. For example:
This one is for everyone who loves kids.
Michael Jackson – Beat It – because Michael Jackson loved kids too.
This one is for anyone at home playing with rope.
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – because rope lovers identify with the Joy Division front man.
This one is for those who are having a good day.
Dimmu Borgir – Burn In Hell (Twisted Sister cover) – because a DJ is never having a good day.
This one is for everyone arguing on the comments of Youtube.
Jackson 5 – ABC – because clearly no one commenting there have learnt them.
This one is for everyone driving slow.
The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love – because you aren’t buying love on the street.
This one is for the Westboro Baptist Church.
AC/DC – Highway to Hell – because that is exactly where this church belongs.
This one is for all the politicians.
Guns ‘n’ Roses – Get in the Ring – seriously, one round, no holds barred, no tap outs.
Let’s face it, a large chunk of literature and non-fiction sales are nothing to do with people reading and everything to do with being seen to read. It was no surprise to early e-reader adopters that the romance and erotica genres took off as people on the bus to work could now read the stuff they wanted to without being judged. The Guardian posted this survey of readers (although I can’t find the source) listing off everyone’s favourite reading cred books, you know, the ones you claim to have read but fell asleep at page 2.
A recent survey of 2,000 people suggests that the majority of people pretend to have read classic books in order to appear more intelligent, with more than half of those polled displaying unread books on their shelves and 3% slipping a highbrow cover on books they’d rather not be seen reading in public.
The books most likely to be lied about are, naturally, the books most often filmed, talked about and studied in school (some of the respondents must have been lying since GCSE onwards). Are any of them in your pretend-I’ve-read/never-finished pile, or do you save your literary fibbing for Finnegans Wake and Infinite Jest? Share your guilty secrets below.
1) 1984 by George Orwell (26%) I have actually read this classic. I read it because Animal Farm was one of the only books I had to read in English Lit class that I actually enjoyed (I’m not counting plays, you’re not meant to read plays, you’re meant to see them performed!!!). I enjoyed it, but I can see how people would battle to read this one.
2) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (19%) Haven’t read this one and have no intention of trying. People always talk about battling through it in small chunks because it is such an important and blah blah blah book. If it was really important it wouldn’t have been so boring as to necessitate reading it in small chunks.
3) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (18%) I watched the old black and white film, does that count?
4) The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (15%) I’ve read this many times and hated it every single time. Each time I’ve re-read it I’ve done so because I felt I was too young and/or stupid to get it, so I must re-read it because I’m so much older and smarter now. Although, John Green did manage to convince me of its literary merits via Crash Course Literature, not that I’ll bother revisiting this novel.
5) A Passage to India by EM Forster (12%) I can honestly say I’ve never heard of this book.
6) Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (11%) I’ve read it, but I will admit that I did so only after seeing the first movie. I really enjoyed the book, but it was long and waffly and I can see why others wouldn’t actually finish it. I will also say that I started reading The Hobbit when I was in school and then realised that life was worth living and stopped.
7) To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee (10%) Okay, I’m guilty of this one. It is on my TBR pile. I have it on Kindle and DTB.
8) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (8%) See #2
9) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (8%) I’m going to read the zombie version.
10) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (5%) If there is a zombie version of this I may read it.
Have you ever suffered from this? I often have this problem with names, especially those from a Dravidian or Sino-Tibetan base. The earliest word I can remember reading but not knowing how to pronounce was acknowledge and its derivatives. It was a favourite verb of WE Johns in his Biggles books, using it instead of said in dialogue. I know, acknowledge is phonetic so there shouldn’t have been a problem, but I was young and my dictionary was very small.
It isn’t just reality TV, it is quite a bit of TV programming that is killing books and, thus, us.
Think about the worst book you’ve ever read. Now remember that, with few exceptions, the movie is always worse than the book. Now think about the best programming on TV being movies and high calibre drama shows. So what I’m insinuating is that the best programs on TV are inferior to just about any book.
For every half-hour wasted watching bad TV, that is 5-10% of a decent novel that you’ll never get to read. Scary, isn’t it!
NB: If people are interested I might write about my favourite TV shows, because not all TV sucks.
I still think that the best bookends are other books. Our bookshelves are actually two layers deep, and that isn’t accounting for the two boxes of young adult books that are sitting in a cupboard because they don’t fit on any shelves.
Word limits are a funny thing. I’ve never had a problem being succinct, in fact I can be too brief in my writing. Yet other writers are known for sitting down with editors to cull half their manuscript. There are other writers still that should have sat down with an editor and culled half their manuscript and saved the readers all that page skipping.
This is one of the reasons to like Twitter. It forces you to practice creating a thought or sentence in a manner that may be foreign. For example, the complex phrase:
I disagree with your supposition as it is currently unsupported by any evidence, either presented by yourself or in the scientific literature, thus there is no way you can sway my position.
Can be replaced with:
This says everything that is needed and doesn’t dance around the topic. Conversely the reply to this can be shortened from:
Whilst you are allowed to disagree with me, my opinion still stands. I cannot provide a summary of the relevant scientific literature at this time, but this is information that is readily understood and referenced in the literature. Thus I will endevour to provide a few examples when I am able to, but in the meantime I’d invite you to read further on the topic, as I suspect that you will agree with me once you have.
Can be replaced with:
Well screw you and the horse you road up on.
The trick is to start with what your key points are and not overuse exposition to explain those points. The 140 character limit can help with this a lot.
In the meantime, if you aren’t a fan of See Mike Draw, I suggest you become one now.