Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"The Violinist"

There was nothing unusual about my day until it happened, it was the same torturous existence that it always was. The same mundane cloud of things happening that I've started to despise more and more as the days progressed. My children had started hating me due to me working "so much". I tried explaining them that working 8 hours a day is normal and that I spend a great deal of time with them but they wouldn't listen, just disrespected me with tomfoolery. None of this was enough to push me over the edge of depression. I was never a depressed person as I considered myself quite the optimist.

One day though I found out that my husband had been cheating on me with a high school student. Not knowing how to react properly to that my first thought was going to a motel with a few of my belongings, wanting to start a new life away from the poison that was my family.

But I didn't want to. This was by no means about me making a bold statement, it was about giving up.

It's true, I had given up on life.

Being in that room surrounded by nothing but bare necessities it wasn't hard to notice when the TV turned on by itself. I thought that maybe I had sat on the remote but such was not the case.

On the TV there was a woman playing the violin with a fiery passion. It sounded nice at first, even relaxing. The tone quickly switched however into a sound that I cannot even describe.

And I felt it all at once.

I felt how my life had no meaning anymore.

I felt my defeat.

My apathy for life.

"Number 13"

Some people collected stamps, others collected coins. Greg collected VHS tapes. That was his passion. He scoured eBay and Amazon, he browsed used bookstores and garage sales. He specialized in movies that had never been transferred to DVD. He had Wim Wender's director's cut of Until the End of the World. He had the 75th Anniversary restoration of Erich von Stroheim's Greed. He had Orson Welles' Ghost Story.
He was visiting one of his usual used bookstores when he came across a VHS tape simply labeled Number 13. The proprietor didn't know what was on it, but offered to sell it for a dollar. Greg accepted. When he brought it home, however, and began to play it, he noticed with surprise that the title card listed the director as "Alfred Hitchcock."

He realized that this was the Holy Grail of lost films: the very first Hitchcock film. The funding for it had run out; production had shut down the set and all the scenes that had been shot were supposed to have been destroyed, melted down for their silver nitrate. But someone must have found them and later converted them to VHS. Why they didn't come forward, he had no idea.

He sat down and, with excited anticipation, began to watch the film. The plot was ostensibly about the low-income residents of a building in London, but Greg soon realized that the plot didn't really make any sense. People appeared and disappeared randomly, sets changed, dialogue referred to events that never happened. These scenes had been preserved, but they were just random scenes.

He wondered how many scenes had been preserved. Certainly not many. The scenes began to get weirder and weirder. Cats started to appear in the building, but nobody commented on why they were there. They appeared on staircases and bookshelves. One quick scene had the main actress surrounded by six cats. She looked terrified. The cats themselves looked somewhat strange, though Greg couldn't put his finger as to why. In the next scene, the actress and the actor playing her husband were eating dinner, with no cats around. Still, Greg noticed that they both looked nervous and kept glancing towards the camera.

And then finally Greg came to the last scene. It took place in the same room where the cats had surrounded the main actress. Now, there seemed to be dozens and dozens of cats on the ground. They looked dead. Alfred Hitchcock himself walked onto the set, winding around the corpses of each cat, carrying a large gas can. He carefully tipped the can and poured the gasoline around the entire set, making sure not to leave any surface untouched.

Greg watched, enraptured, as Hitchcock pulled out a lighter and then looked directly into the camera. He said something, but there was no sound, so Greg couldn't make it out. Then he flicked on the lighter and dropped it on the set, then walked away as it burned. The set burned and the tape ended.

Greg quickly rewound the tape and watched Hitchcock talking again and tried to see what he was saying. He rewound again and again, until finally he figured it out:

"No one must watch it. Burn it all."

Greg wondered why Hitchcock had ordered the entire set burned. And, if he was willing to destroy the set, why hadn't he destroyed all copies of the film? Had someone just taken off with these scenes before he could destroy them? As Greg got up, he felt something brush his leg and jumped. He quickly looked down.

It was just a cat. Only a cat.

It purred as he petted it. He rewound the tape and wondered how it had gotten in. He was sure he hadn't left the door open.

"Butterfly Valley"

Butterfly Valley was originally a bright and cheerful show. Originally the first and most popular show created by Heykids studios, it was an animated cartoon about a pair of twins, Rose and Petunia, who were able to go to a world inhabited by fairies who turn into butterflies. This land was ruled by Princess Butterfly, a powerful princess. However, King Boogieman, the king of the Troll Kingdom, wished desperately to marry Princess Butterfly.

Here's where the controversy started. At trhe end of Season two, Princess Butterfly was engaged to a warlock named Frank, but it turned out he wanted to use Princess Butterfliy's powers to take over the world. The only way to prevent this was for Princess Butterfly to marry someone of royal blood: King Boogieman.

Many parents immediately saw King Boogieman's success in marrying the Princess as teaching children that evil can triumph, a very undesirable children's lesson. Despite this, he animators were able to curb the controversy by having King Boogieman visibly reform in season three. So for a while things were fine.

Then came season four.

During season three, Butterfly Valley's popularity declined because of competition from a show about a girl and some pirates, produced by the same company. The creators of Butterfly Valley mistakenly believed the rival show's popularity came from their dark tone, and made season four dark to try and compete, creating dark episodes with disturbing creatures and imagery.

That was their huge mistake. Many of the episodes in season four were banned. On top of that, Heykids had been creating some other controversial shows as well, and Butterfly Valley had been their least controversial show, and their biggest moneymaker.

Butterfly Valley's change in tone did the company in, as it's popularity plummetted. Realizing their mistake, they tried to return to their cheerful atmosphere in season five, but only two episodes were made of season five, because of lack of funding.

Now reruns are played on only one known station, and the show has been almost forgotten.

For details, one may look at the Butterfly Valley Wiki, which is currently under construction.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"You Bet Your Life"

csshhhhhhhhhh "-come to You Bet Your Life. And here he is: the one, the only-" csshhhhhhhhhhhh "-you're a teacher? Well, you know what they say: those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach-" csshhhhhhhhhhh "-now if you say the Secret Word then-" cssshhhhhhhhhh "-you're on a streak and speaking of streaking-" csshhhhhhh "-well, there, you've said it, the Secret Word. It was 'help.' That's all you had to say. And you prize is-" csssshhhhhh "-the pain is momentary-" cssshhhhh "-we'll be back next week with more You Bet Your Life!"