Elevator Pitches of the Damned

 

Elevator Pitches, Book Proposals, Hollywood, Literary Agents, fiction

Your host, in his unfortunate “Inspector Clouseau Period”

 

Justice League of Hollywood

By day they ply their exalted trade as thespians on the world stage, embodying the hopes and dreams of their legions of fans. But when the sound stages go dark and the catering packs up, a select few of the Hollywood elite, endowed with otherworldly powers beyond the ken of common folk, take to the night streets of Hollywood and Beverly Hills (or around the world, as location shooting permits), righting wrongs and battling the forces of evil. George Clooney is Synergio, master of the ancient art of strategic personal branding and wielder of the Knowing Smirk. Gwyneth Paltrow is Hype, able to raise or lower the Q rating of any person on earth, using only the super-kinetic powers of her mind. Taylor Kitsch is Unsealio, capable of opening all manner of  balky condiment jars, child-safe prescription containers and molded plastic anti-theft packaging, with only his bare hands. Blake Lively is Beardra, who, with her all-powerful Penumbra of Femininity, is able to provide even the most transparently gay action-movie hunks with plausible heterosexual romantic cover. Together with Zooey Deschanel as Sophistra, Elf Queen of the Elegant #Humblebrag, this alliance of A-list celebrity superstars faces its greatest challenge when an Iranian terrorist splinter cell, financed by the Saudi royal family, attempts to hijack the western world’s stockpiles of Botox and human growth hormone. Will the Justice League of Hollywood triumph? Or will the world’s unrealistic standards of beauty be compromised?

 

A Race Against Time

See, there’s this guy, he’s a physicist, but way out there on the cosmological fringe, tinkering with theories of special and general relativity, gravitational singularities and such, I won’t get into it except to say it’s totally possible and involves theories of space-time dilation, but anyway, he invents a Time Machine. But the thing is, it turns out that the world’s history is basically hundreds and hundreds of millions of years of not that much, you know? I mean, virtually all of it is inaccessible to the Time Traveler because the atmosphere is mostly CO2, or there’s inland seas or glaciers popping up everywhere. Even if you get a patch of land going, a frigging passing dragonfly is the major event of the week. Human history is a fraction of an eyeblink in time, and even most of that is pretty much empty grass fields of nothing, with occasionally a couple of people sitting on a log, smoking stinky pipes and complaining about the food. It doesn’t take the physicist long to discover that all of human civilization on earth amounts to about 6,000 years, give or take, then a rapid die-off followed by umpteen million years of more seas and glaciers, a handful of inconsequential rodents, then a long, gradually increasing aridity and increase of temperature until the earth is engulfed by the dying sun. So anyway, the physicist eventually moves the Time Machine out to the garage, puts a tarp over it, and takes a tenured job in the physics department at UC Santa Barbara. Continue reading

The Vampire Squid Speaks

So it turns out that there are two kinds of vampire squids.

There’s the vampire squid that “is wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” and there’s the vampire squid that does the same thing while also taunting you with outright lies and insults.

Henry J. Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and former US Secretary of the Treasury, is the second kind of vampire squid. His Eminence stepped down from the clouds briefly to speak with the the NY Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin about the real cause of our now double-dipping Great Recession. His take?

“Many of the Western democracies — including the U.S. — have a problem that voters want benefits they don’t want to pay for,” Mr. Paulson said.

Thanks for the heads-up, Henry!
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The Curious Case of Tiki Barber

There is something about Tiki Barber that resists connection, something that just won’t be loved.

On a Sunday night in September of last year, the New York Giants welcomed 30 players, coaches, and executives into the new Giants Ring of Honor in New Meadowlands Stadium. The fans cheered lustily for the great and the obscure alike, including Lawrence Taylor, who had recently been charged with felony statutory rape, the outcome of a sordid Holiday Inn encounter between Taylor, a vicious pimp, and an underage girl. But the same crowd booed Tiki Barber.

In June of this year, Plaxico Burress, a gifted wide receiver notorious for missing team meetings and sitting out practices to nurse vague injuries, was released from prison after serving eighteen months on a concealed weapons charge. A number of his teammates—including Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck—appealed to management to bring him back. When Tiki Barber announced his intentions to return to football for the 2011 season, no former teammate vouched for him. A couple went out of their way to deride him in interviews.
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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

It’s been so long since I’ve listened to radio that most of the preset buttons on my car radio are set to rock stations that no longer exist. Lately, though, I’ve been revisiting the airwaves, listening to 94.7 FM Family Radio on the way home from my sunset runs along the Jersey shore.

 

More often than not, the sound I hear when I tune in is that of pages being turned. The page turner is 89-year-old Harold Camping and he’s seeking out a Bible verse cited by a caller to Camping’s nightly call-in show, “Open Forum.” Each caller is allowed one question about a verse in the Bible, which Camping answers in a dry, dignified, unhurried monotone. When his answer is concluded, Camping says “Thank you for your call to Open Forum,” and another caller comes on the line.

 
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Kevin Smith Vs. The World

Sundance Film Festival 2011 is winding down and the big news isn’t about any breakout critics’ darling or big acquisition. The buzz is all about Red State, a movie that received mixed reviews at best and didn’t earn a distribution deal at all.

To be specific, the buzz isn’t so much about Red State, an uneasy mix of horror film and political/religious diatribe, as it is about the film’s director, Kevin Smith. Has Kevin Smith gone too far this time with his fake auction stunt? Is his decision to self-distribute his new film via a whistlestop nationwide tour of personal appearances a viable model for film distribution in the social-media era? Has Kevin Smith burned his bridges? Why is he biting the indie distribution hand that has fed him for years?

The truth, of course, is that Kevin Smith is just doing what he always does. Turning chicken feathers into chicken salad. This is the genius of Kevin Smith.
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Ferrell vs. Pitt

The movie poster at left is an excellent indicator of the degree to which Hollywood has its head stuck up its own ass.

As a father of a ten-year-old and a seven-year-old, I see a lot of big-budget Hollywood cartoons. Sometimes, as is the case with the recent “Despicable Me,” I have to see them twice. It was during the second trip to “Despicable Me” that I saw this poster for “MegaMind.”

Take a look at the poster and tell me what’s wrong with it. No, go ahead. Take a minute. If you’re a parent of young children, it didn’t take you more than a second.

My kids don’t give a rat’s ass who “Ferrell” and “Pitt” are. They care about mad scientists and plucky heroines in trouble and superheroes with weird powers. They care about earnest sponges with a can-do spirit and whiz-bang gadget inventors. They like explosions and narrow escapes.
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Detours To Nowhere

The militia news stories come more and more frequently now. The latest one, out of Michigan, introduces a new extremist revolutionary buzzword to the lexicon, Hutaree, but otherwise serves up the usual sad characters and settings.

Underemployed men wearing US Army surplus camouflage, target-shooting and practicing “military maneuvers” in the woods. Single-wide trailers jury-rigged together with plywood and sheet metal. Yards full of cast-off furniture, car parts, and underfed pets. Kids pulled out of school for the purposes of “home schooling.” Men and women with too much time on their hands, too much misdirected rage.

I often wonder how these people can afford to stock up so liberally (if I might use the term) on munitions. I mean, I don’t know about you, but after I pay the month’s bills—the cable, the phone, the mortgage, the credit cards, the electricity—there’s hardly any money left for grenades or extra clips of ammunition for the M16 assault rifle. Some people can stretch a paycheck, I guess.
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The New Art of Conspicuous Plagiarism

Here at the EZED, we’re probably not as familiar with emerging literary trends as we should be. As much as we try to stay current with this year’s faked memoirs, collaborative “open source” novels, and posthumous novels assembled from dead Nobel Prize-winning authors’ index cards, we still often find ourselves behind the curve. So imagine our surprise and delight as we discovered this week that plagiarism, once widely denigrated, has now been rehabilitated and repositioned as a genuine literary art form.

Seventeen-year-old German author Helene Hegemann has been earning a lot of praise lately for her novel “Axolotl Roadkill,” a tale of a pretty young German girl’s scandalous adventures on the Berlin nightclub scene. What’s that you say? Standard sex-and-drugs nihilist confessional fare, thinly veiled as fiction and sold on the basis of the comely author’s jacket photo?

Hardly!
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Big robots. They’re big.

Whew. Feeling a little lazy today. I was running on the treadmill at the gym and I noticed there’s quite a bit of excitement over a Uruguayan man who uploaded a $300 home-produced video short to YouTube. It’s a CGI thing called “Panic Attack,” and it’s about big alien robots trampling a big city.

Everyone in Hollywood is slapping their foreheads in disbelief and wondering aloud, “Why didn’t WE think of that? A CGI thing about big robots trampling a big city?” Sam Raimi’s Mandate Pictures seems to have beaten everyone else to the punch by Fedexing the “Panic Attack” creator a check for $30 million.

Forbes Magazine says that “Panic Attack” is J.J. Abrams’ “Cloverfield” meets “Transformers.”
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Heroes at Home

There was an ad on TV during a break in Thursday night’s NFL game. A man identified as Ty Pennington was addressing the audience directly, making a charity pitch for disadvantaged families. I wasn’t really following the message, but something in it—some disconnect between the images and the words—kept drawing my attention. Here’s what the man was saying:

“I want to tell you a story about a little girl. A little girl who’s going to wake up on Christmas morning and her daddy won’t be there. But will Christmas be there? Will she have a warm jacket to wear? Will she have shoes that fit? Or even a toy?”

And it took me a while to realize that the narrator wasn’t talking about victims of a disaster or orphans in some distant, impoverished country. This Ty Pennington was talking about the children of active-service military personnel. The missing daddy was in Afghanistan. It was an ad for a Sears charity program called the “Heroes at Home Wish Registry.” Viewers were being encouraged to send gift cards to the children of military personnel.
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