Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Late Night Surprise

Finally got the idea for the final story for AFTERDEAD 1.3: something I'm calling "Way Down In The Hole."

Yes, that's the song title of The Wire, watched via the collected tapes from the library. My favorite character is Bubbles. Dan likes Snoop; he says, "I like my psychopaths." The girl is scary good. Or maybe just scary.

Television has been iffy for me since about 1970. 1970-73, in the army, no TV. Then didn't even have a TV until about 1985. Then got one only for watching VHS tapes. Then watched some TV while working (Because of old back injuries, I don't draw at a drawing table; I write and draw while sitting on the couch, leaning back, with a surface on my lap) for about 5 years. Then, because of weird hours and poor reception, mostly very blurry PBS -- reception depending on leaf-load or wind speed -- and, late at night -- because that's about all there was -- ALL of Star Trek. And I had to tape all of Friends, whether new or reruns, for Dan, who was fond of it. Now we're back to the library tapes. With the occasional Mystery Science Theater at about two in the morning.

One of the best thing that ever came up on the screen was a late-night showing of commercials for collected pop music. '50's, '60's, 70's, 80's, 90's. But it wasn't the usual howling voiceover with snippets of songs; it was song after complete song -- played with films and videos of the original groups. Everybody I'd ever heard growing up, on the radio, was there for face-time. I finally got the see what Fly And The Family Stone looked like.

It went on for about two hours. Inadvertently, a late-night (early morning) commercial opportunity had become the most complete history of Rock and Motown I've ever seen. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of work done.

Oh, yes -- the AFTERDEAD story is Pfirsich getting shanghaied into a job he's not really happy with: rescuing members of a people he knew when he was alive who had to wait until the afterlife to learn empathy. Most of them start yelling "Nazi!" when they see him; as part of the job he has to wear the hat, mostly to torque them off.

Part of this story comes from recent NPR stories about American troops in Iraq. Repeatedly, they ask the locals if they're okay with having their homes invaded, answering questions about the number of male members in their household, or standing still while their eyelids are peeled back for a retinal scan. The locals always say they're fine with it.

All I can think of is the scene in The Searchers, after the raid on the village, where the two little white girls are clinging to one another and smiling desperately at their captors, silently begging not to be slaughtered, as they have seen their tribal family destroyed. I've seen this smile in films and photographs, of helpless people grinning hopefully at the captors who have their lives in their grips. It is NOT a sign of love or friendship.

Does NO one recognize The Prisoner Smile? If you don't believe me, how would you like to stand outside your house and have someone pull your eyeball open to decide whether or not you get to stay home?

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