| zompist | brunching
3-29-01 - Arachnot
"Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can..."
We were fed this line of bull long ago, and we swallowed it without question. TV never lies!
But does Spider-Man really do whatever a spider can? Does he really?
While Spider-Man may have the proportional strength, speed, and agility of a spider, and while he certainly has the ability to stick to walls (like pretty much every every other insect, I mean, it's hardly spider-exclusive), he falls short with some the other abilities of the common spider.
Now, everyone knows Spider-Man has something he calls his spider sense. This warns him of danger, so he can easily leap out of harm's way, and this ability appears in the comics as some wavy lines coming out of his head. This is not to be confused with "stinky-lines", which appear in comics as wavy lines as well. You easily can spot the difference between the two examples provided below:
Real spiders have a spider-sense too, but it doesn't warn them of danger, as a simple experiment involving a rolled-up magazine can demonstrate.
The only sense a spider has is an instinctive awareness of the best time to drop on you to provoke the funniest reaction. For instance, the spider that lives in my bathroom knows that anytime I'm sitting on the toilet, engrossed in the latest Nelson Demille paperback, it's an excellent time to drop onto my head. That way, he gets the frantic flailing, along with the added bonus of the pants-around-the-ankles stumbling.
Luckily, I keep magazines in the bathroom, too.
Senses aside, spiders have the ability to excrete silk webbing from their spinnerets, or "butts", something Spider-Man cannot do (thankfully). Sure, he shoots webbing, but it's from artificial web-shooters strapped onto his wrists. What do real spiders use webbing for?
They use it for trapping prey, as Spider-Man does. They use it to fashion webs, as spider man also does. And, they use it for transferring sperm, which Spider-Man thankfully does not. Although, really, what better deterrent could there be for a criminal? I think Doc Ock and the Vulture would hang up their arms and wings (respectively) if there was any chance that Spider-Man's webbing contained, uh... more goo than usual.
Another use for webbing is called "ballooning", wherein a spider will extend a strand of webbing from its bottom, and then use it to catch a breeze, sailing gracefully through the air to wherever the current takes it. Spider-man uses his webbing to travel, but instead swings from building to building, knowing full well that floating upside-down from a strand of webbing sticking out of his butt might not look so great on the front page of the Daily Bugle.
Finally, some spiders also shoot a clear, foul-smelling liquid from their hinders to discourage enemies.
Again, I think the criminal underworld, and the general public, is thankful Spider-Man is lacking in this department.
3-28-01 - Neon Leon
Today's Henchman of the Week has been modified from its original form. It has been formatted to fit your screen.
Henchman of the Week: Leon Kowalski
Featured In: Blade Runner (1982)
Specialty: Strong-arm stuff
Takes Coffee: Black, two sugars
Needs to Work On: Interview skills
Termination: Forced retirement
Temporary Assignment: It appears to be a typical interview, aside from the fact that on the desk is a whirring, breathing, futuristic contraption, and outside the window is a vast industrial wasteland, drenched with acid rain.
It's the year 2019, and Leon Kowalski is being interviewed by the Tyrell Corporation, which resides in a huge pyramid-shaped building that rises above the hellish landscape.
Temps, despite the fact that they may have several different jobs in the span of a year, only have to interview once, when they join their agency. Generally, that is. Some companies take it upon themselves to interview a temp as well, perhaps fearing (and rightly so) that the agency has been a bit lax in their screening procedures, although sometimes it's to ensure that they have hired a human and not an android.
Leon, a waste-disposal engineer (in the future, they still use politically correct terms), isn't overly bright to begin with, and appears nervous and twitchy during the interview. His anxiety is compounded by the machine on the desk, and by Holden, the condescending interviewer, who smokes huge, stinky-looking European cigarettes, uses Leon's name in every other sentence, and asks him questions about tortoises.
"Tortoise, what's that?" Leon asks.
"Know what a turtle is?" Holden says smugly.
The interview becomes even more strained when Holden asks Leon about his mother.
"My mother?" Leon replies. "Let me tell you about my mother."
Leon abruptly shoots Holden through the table with a concealed gun (Han Solo/Greedo style), driving Holden through a wall and into the next office. Leon then stands and pumps another round into him. The interview, clearly, is over (and, shit, it still went better than most of mine do).
As it turns out, Leon is no ordinary henchman. In fact, he's no ordinary man. He's what's known as a replicant, a synthetic human engineered for Off-world slave labor. Possessing superior strength and agility, replicants were the perfect drones for hazardous space exploration and colonization, but due to a bloody mutiny, they are now illegal on planet Earth. To guard against these replicants developing their own emotions (and labor unions, probably), they were engineered to only last four years. Talk about temporary.
A special unit of the police, called Blade Runners, are licensed to kill, or as they call it, retire, any trespassing replicants.
Holden was, in fact, one of these Blade Runners, and the machine he used on Leon was called a Voight-Kampff machine, designed to tell the "skin-jobs" (in the future, they still use racial slurs) from the humans. With Holden out of action ("He can breathe okay, as long as no one unplugs him"), a scowling cop named Rick Deckard takes over the case.
Leon and a handful of other replicants have arrived on Earth after hijacking a shuttle and killing everyone aboard in a thrilling sequence that no one bothered to capture on film. Leon's boss and fellow replicant, the Aryan-looking (and rather theatrical) Roy Batty, is intent on finding a solution to the replicants' lack of longevity, and believes the answer may lie within the Tyrell Corporation, the manufacturers of the synthetic humanoids. The replicants attempted to gain access, first by breaking in, then by acquiring jobs there, which led to Leon's interview.
Later, Leon wants to fetch some photographs he owns, but Deckard, who is poking around in Leon's apartment, prevents him from doing so. What would a replicant, an organism with no real past, want with photographs? Well, we all know how permanent employees like to plaster the walls of their cubicles with photos, and it seems Leon, in an effort to fit in better with humans, clearly wishes to do the same. Maybe he had some Dilbert comic strips, too.
Leon and Batty then pay a visit to Hannibal Chew, an engineer who creates synthetic eyes for replicants. In Chew's sub-zero lab, Leon shows his superhuman nature by sticking his hand into some ice-cream, then by ripping Chew's heated parka off. As Chew shivers, trembles, and spills his information, Leon places goopy synthetic eyes on Chew's shoulders and head, like any good henchman would do in a similar situation.
After Deckard retires (shoots twice in the back) a female replicant named Zhora, Leon catches up with him. He has some questions for Deckard, so he politely inquires about his age and potential duration while slapping Deckard around like a red-headed synthetic stepchild.
"Painful to live in fear, isn't it? Nothing is worse than having an itch you can never scratch," he informs Deckard, while cuffing him about, throwing him onto a car, punching a hole into the side of a truck, and grinning bitterly.
"Wake up!" he tells the groggy Deckard. "Time to die."
It is at that moment, ironically, that he is shot through the head by a woman named Rachel, who is, also ironically, a replicant (in the future, they have twice as much irony).
Performance Review: In his interview, Leon followed the cardinal rule: "Never let them see you sweat, but if they do see you sweat, never let them see the powerful futuristic handgun you have under the table." He fell into the old henchman trap, though: taunting and toying with the hero, instead of simply killing him quickly. The result: early retirement for Leon, and not so much as a gold watch to show for it.
Leon was played by Brion James, a well-known character actor who appeared in over one hundred films and television shows during his career. He died in 1999.
3-27-01 - SWM TEMP ISO JOB
The best part of any newspaper is the personal ads. Especially the "Missed Connections" section.
Missed Connections are written by people who have had a brief encounter with someone else, but never got their name or number and desperately want to get in touch with them. Here's one from SFWeekly:
Trader Sams Friday (3/2). You: tall, handsome, light colored hair. Me: dark brown hair, ponytail. We shared a great smile. Wish we could have met. EXT#143577
These always seem very unlikely to work, especially since most of them are even less descriptive and more vague than that one. Why, just look at these other ads I found in the same paper!
(NOTE: THESE NEXT ONES ARE NOT REAL ADS, BUT INSTEAD HIGHLY EXAGGERATED HUMOROUS FUNNY COMEDY ONES I MADE UP BECAUSE WILD EXAGGERATION MEANS FUNNY COMEDY HUMOR.)
Epcot Center: You: working in ticket booth, brown hair, freckles. Me: Tourist, black hair, bought four tickets. Remember? You told me to enjoy the park and smiled. I did and would love to tell you about it! EXT#10922
I Talked To You For An Hour (3/15) You had blonde hair, wore yellow skirt, you didn't say a word! Shy? You were standing outside the Oakland School for the Deaf and Blind. Would love to hear your story next time! EXT#14222
Oak Park Memorial Hospital (4/1/80). You: Newly born infant, pink, covered in slime. Me: Doctor who delivered you, brown hair, mask. You had nice eyes, figure you must be 21 by now. Drinks? EXT#10381
Taylor & Market (3/7). Me: The Taylor Street Strangler, You: Arresting officer. You pounded my groin with your billy club and maced me. Thought I sensed a connection during the Miranda rights (you have a great speaking voice!). Sorry I killed your partner and bit off part of your finger. Can we pick up where we left off? EXT#12293
The Kitchen (this morning). You: My wife of 43 years. Me: Your husband. We ate breakfast across from each other, caught your eye more than once! Wish I'd gotten your name. We're out of non-dairy creamer, can you bring some home? EXT#14555
Hyatt Hotel, New Years Eve. Me: CEO, sivler hair, Armani suiit, BMW. You: gorgouess brunete, quit beauteful. We kissed ay midnight and both flet the conectshun, we is meant to bee toegether! Cna't liv without you. I had my temp type up this ad as sooon as i g0t beck to the orffice! EXT#(fill in later/ also spellchck!)
3-26-01 - Enemy at the Gateway
(Diversions this week: Make Paul dance! It's silly and fun and requires Flash 5 and speakers. Also, can you stare down Sally? And nothing passes the time like anagrams! E-mail your friends with a list of anagrams of their names. They'll thank you for it. Links are on the sidebar, yo.)
If you're a regular reader, then you know it's been forever and a day (that day being last Friday) since I've posted a new Vision of the Future.
It's not that I don't enjoy doing them, it's just kind of a long process, involving:
1) Playing games on ColecoVision until the controller causes my hands to cramp up (about eleven seconds).
2) Getting the same games to work properly on my computer's ColecoVision emulator (about sixteen hours).
3) Taking approximately 400 screenshots while trying to capture an image that makes it appear as if one of the monsters is having sex with the game character.
4) Buying rabbits. A lot of rabbits.
5) Obtaining permission from Coleco to use trademarked names and images (*cough*).
6) Drinking beer until my nineteenth consecutive joke involving the word "Winky" seems perfectly justified.
7) Crying out at intervals "Is this all there is, Lord? IS THIS ALL THERE IS???"
8) Getting over the guilt of making fun of the shortcomings of a videogame created nineteen years ago.
9) Thinking up ten reasons why it takes me so long to do a new Vision of the Future.
10) Spending a few moments wishing that all the games could be Smurf Rescue.
Anyway, here's the new one! Click the picture below...
...and share my Vision.
All material © 2000 - 2001 by Christopher Livingston. Yeah. That'll hold up in court.