Ten Twists on Well-Known Titles

Some books/movies would be interesting if they were rewritten about completely different things. Here is what some classics well-know stories could have been about if the title had been just a few letters different. In no particular order:

1. Count of Monte Crisco: concerns the same titular character as Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale of revenge, but documents his hairdresser’s struggle to deal with the Count’s prison-learned habit of slicking his hair with vegetable shortening. Also describes his hairdresser’s despair at removing eight years accumulation of fat from Edmond Dante’s hair follicles. Philosophical monograph.

2. A Tail of Two Cities: a Frenchman discovers that he is being followed whenever he visits two major cities and only those two major cities. His tail has squeaky shoes. But why? Footsteps. Echoing Footsteps grow nearer and nearer. Detective Thriller.

3. Tim: Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, but cuts out the boring parts and adds more spy stuff. Twist: Tim is the Llama, an eccentric schizophrenic master spy. Suspense. Thriller.

4. Package to India: Tells the story of a parcel’s journey from the British mail service and through the Indian postal system. Likely more interesting and slightly more fulfilling than E. M. Forester’s classic novel on religion, equality, and justice in colonial India. Informational pamphlet.

5. Fat and Furious: Teenager is infuriated when he is refused admission to police officer training academy after failing a physical fitness exam. He steals cars and blows things up. Action Adventure.

6. Clear and Pleasant Danger: Jack Ryan smiles more. Spy Thriller.

7. Moles: Adaptation of the novel by Louis Sachar. By freak accident, a teenage boy uncovers a plot by the mole people to create so many sinkholes that the ground is destabilized and entire cities collapse. He is enslaved in the mole tunnels where he meets a boy descended from the man who helped his ancestor defeat the mole people the last time they tried this. Unfortunately, that boy’s ancestor did not get a congressional medal of honor (nobody did) and he cursed our teen’s ancestor’s family line with having an abnormal number of facial moles and acne. To regain his dignity, our teen must defeat the mole people and get a congressional medal of honor for his young friend. Teen Adventure.

8. Fellowship of the Bling: It is the 90s. Freddie Baggens is given a necklace with the smallest bling ever. His friends think it’s hideous. Also, he goes on an unpleasant drug trip whenever he wears it. They go on a cross-country trip to Yellowstone to destroy it in the most epic way possible, which, since it’s the 90s, involves unrealistic CGI volcanoes. Campy Classic.

9. Less Miserable’s: Jean Valjean is imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. However, after he is given parole, Inspector Javert, motivated by a desire to see the maximum amount of justice done, opts to investigate child abuse, prisoners’ human rights violations, and underground revolutionary rings instead of ex-cons who steal small change. As a result, the people of France are less miserable. Moralistic Novel.

10. Encouragement: In the wake of Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and….Four comes a groundbreaking novel about a girl whose parents encourage her unique personality. The government doesn’t try to kill her, and as a result, she does not seek solace in questionable friendships or overthrow the government, but instead pursues art and science. Teen Fiction/Philosophy.

Bonus: 11. Mad Max: Furry Road: Max is angry because his cat sheds a lot. To prove the point, he takes his cat on a road trip to place cat hair end-to-end across the entire continental United States. Not everyone appreciates this. There are lots of car and foot chases, flying fur, and sneezing. Documentary.

I’m collecting ideas for an eventual second edition of this list.


The Way to Wal*mart

Siri tried to assassinate me last weekend. Perhaps it wasn’t Siri; perhaps it was Miri, her evil and conniving older sister, who haunts the depths of GPS systems with a District of Columbia street map, and a list of all the one-way streets in America.

My family recently got our first GPS system. Naturally, we packed it into the trunk. At some point, driving from Richmond to Atlanta, my father decided that he had a desperate need of lunch meat and chips. Since we were in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t seen a Wal*mart sign for the last fifteen minutes, we brought the GPS out, and searched for Wal*mart. There was one 5.6 miles away. (See, we were really in the middle of nowhere.) My brother selected it. “Calculating….” Miri mused. “Turn right NOW!” Passing an exit, my mother screeched to a halt, bounced over the dividing reflectors and onto the exit ramp. “Where now?” “Turn right in 0.2 miles.” Miri said sweetly. She proceeded to guide us to another highway, down several back roads, and after a half hour finally found a Wal*mart

But first we had to get into Wal*mart. “Turn right, now.” said Miri. “What, where?” asked Mom. “Turn right, now.” reminded Miri. “NOW!” she insisted with enthusiasm worthy of a Wal*mart publicist. “That’s where it is!” my mother exclaimed as she passed the turnoff. “Recalculating….” Miri sulked. My mother finally turned. “Turn right in 0.1 miles” said Miri. “I’m not sure we need instructions for getting into the parking lot.” “You never know,” replied Dad.

We were lucky to find our chips. Miri had delivered us to the central chip-buying location in South Carolina at the height of the Superbowl madness. “If you ever wondered what Wal*mart would look like after a crazed mob went through it,” my brother said, “This is it.” “I’m not sure the mob has left yet,” I replied.

After Miri realized that we were not bound to follow any of her directions, and that Wal*mart had not killed us she sulkily directed us back to the highway. This time it took us a mere five minutes to arrive on the highway. While I am grateful that Miri deigned to show us the way back from Wal*mart that we could not have otherwise found, I am conscious that on our own, we could not possibly found such a circuitous way to Wal*mart.

Tupperware: A Phantom Menace

A new menace to the world order has come to my attention. Even in the most ordered democracies, the presence of just one of these agents introduces entropy and initiates a swift downfall into chaos. Even now, it lurks unsuspected in our homes. This phantom menace? Tupperware.

Like most people, I find Tupperware to be a convenient way to store and transport leftovers. Few people consider that it both contributes to obesity, propagates waste, and encourages people the likes of Martha Stewart.

  • The ability to transport food encourages people to do so to ridiculous extremes. It is true that these people could buy vending machine chips for lunch instead of bringing a sandwich with them, but then, lunch is an unsustainable added expense, a privilege, and the vending machine economy is stimulated. So I say, support your local vendors especially if you live on a campus almost entirely supported by restaurant and vending machine revenue.
  • The availability of storage encourages people to make too much food. But we all know what happens to leftovers in the back of the refrigerator. They evolve and make evil plans against the nostrils of all mankind until someone notices and squelches the revolution with a trash bag.
  • All those partial matched sets of Tupperware came from somewhere. The chief culprits are people the likes of Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray, who endorse the containers after they have been designed and manufactured. I sincerely doubt Betty Crocker personally examined your sandwich box. Will you trust your BLT to someone who sells their opinions on sandwich boxes so freely? I thought not.
Then there are the practical disadvantages of Tupperware. These include their inability to actually stack like normal dishes, to actually store food, and to reduce dirty dishes.
  • No matter how many times you buy a matched set of Tupperware and throw out the rest, in a few weeks you will always find that the containers no longer fit into that neat little box and have spread throughout the entire cupboard–especially if you let someone else do the dishes. (Why are there so many different shapes of containers?) Only half of the original set will still be there; and the only lids left will belong to the lost containers. In addition, someone will have the brilliant idea that they can reuse a cottage cheese container. Moreover, someone else will have found another piece in the car that you haven’t seen since you left college, and then there will be that other piece someone left at a potluck and moved away….


    Can no one stack them right?

  • Tupperware lids are tricky things. Nine times out of ten, they don’t fit on the containers they’re actually supposed to fit on, unless that is, you have ten strong men and a trained monkey. The other ten percent of the time, they are obviously too loose, and you can throw them out. But the lids leak. They don’t always leak, or else that could be discovered while washing dishes. They leak the day one packs chili and has a major essay in one’s bag. Devious things.
  • I’m not sure whether Tupperware was actually meant to reduce dirty dishes, or just make the fridge easier to pack. Considering that dirty containers are created every time one uses Tupperware, I tend to doubt the first. Considering that once the food is in the Tupperware, it becomes invisible, either because of the cloaking field surrounding all normal Tupperware, or because one only opens it because one thought that the re-purposed margarine container actually had margarine in it, I also doubt that it’s worth it to put these things in the refrigerator in the first place.
So I ask you, fair readers: Is it worth it? One must ask whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous food storage. Or to take arms against a sea of lids, and by opposing boycott them. And speaking of slings and arrows, I should finish preparing for my physics test. Adieu.

An Epic Quest

I got my brother a brown driver’s cap for Christmas, like the Ralph Lauren version pictured, only a third the price, from Target. It was perfect. On Christmas morning, we discovered that it was several sizes too small. Big heads run in the family. I checked the Target website, but the only size listed was M/L. But the cap was just too perfect. We had to find a replacement. My brother braved five Wal-Mart and one Kohl’s with us, and my brother is no hipster. We found nothing. We persevered to the mall. After tearing my mother away from the shinies in the JC Penney housewares section, we toured Aeropostale, Gap, and several other places of the like before the fellowship met its greatest trial yet.

I believe my brother fully realized the peril he risked when we entered the Abercrombie and Fitch store. It was shrouded by very professional looking black shades, but I choked upon entering. Someone had axe bombed the place, and nobody had bothered to clear it up. The dim interior was painted black, partitions had been erected, reminiscent of the maze of the minotaur, and large pictures of bare masculine chests covered the wall. Worse, preppy, rhythmic music was blasting from some unseen source. I wasn’t sure I could find my way out before I was smothered in the scent. I was reminded of the Mines of Moria. “We cannot get out. The end comes, and then, drums, drums in the deep.”

By the time we stumbled into the open, we had decided that a specialty hat shop might be more in our line. We discovered one, Hat Shack, and entered. The shelves were lined with baseball hats, but they had driver’s caps. Black driver’s caps. Failure. We limped home, and I consulted the Target website a second time. The hat was gone. The page was  purged. We decided to try the store one last time, if only to return the ill-fated hat. There, in the darkest corner of the hat shelf in the back of the store, we found it. One hat to rule them all. L/XL. We were victorious. I began to wonder why I hadn’t checked there first to begin with. I realize that probably had something to do with the one size listed on the website, and only three similar hats on the shelves.

The quest is completed, but some nights I lie awake wondering what could have been. Could I have found my own hat had I looked? And then I remember the darkened corridors of Abercrombie and Fitch, turn over with a shudder, and find sleep at last.

New Years 2012

Not only will I build abs of steel, I will save the world! Again...and again...and again...

I don’t go in for big showy resolutions because I don’t believe a year can be evaluated in light of an aspiration born out of cheerful optimism. No one really cures cancer by publishing their first book on building abs of steel in forty days. Unless, of course, that person features in infomercials for the teeth whitening properties of acacia berry and lowering one’s car insurance with one ridiculously easy old trick originally used to make dermatologists everywhere hate you. Wow. That guy in the infomercials is like Superman.

The other problem with New Years resolutions is that even if I can keep them, they are an insufficient meter stick for the rest of the year. “So yeah, I dropped out of college to have more time to train for a marathon. I won the scholarship prize on the marathon, but, you know, then I wasn’t in college.” Or maybe the reverse. “I graduated from college with honors but I never worked up the courage to donate blood.” (Eventually I’ll get up the guts to do that.)

Yet another problem with resolutions is the unpredictable ways in which people change during the year. I’m braver and more responsible than I was last year. (Take my word on this.) Sometimes it’s a sign of growth to be unable to fulfill one’s goals. This time last year, I could fill up two pages with vague idealistic garbage on what I was going to do with my life. Now I’m smart enough to know that specifics are better, even if I have no idea of how I’m going to get there or what exactly these rogue interests in magnetism, quantum mechanics, florescence, crystallography, and optics have to do with curing cancer.

Sometimes, even though the year feels like a defeat, you’ve got to remember that even victorious soldiers stumble back to their camp and fall asleep. We’re not beaten yet, only exhausted. (And we defeated the first half of basic physics. Yay!) The great thing about college? You get to start over every six months.

(Another problem with resolutions is that sometimes success is hard to gauge. You got fit, but how fit? I’m going to join the club. This year, I will be more positive.)