Friday, April 22, 2011


What is the scariest film on the 1001 movie list? The Excorcist? Psycho? Halloween? Nightmare on Elm Street? There are many candidates, but there is only one movie that has struck such fear through my heart that I have avoided it for thirty years. But because I am trying to go through every type of movie on this blog, I am going to take a deep breath and watch the one movie that I have never quite been able to muster the courage to view before. I am talking about...Alain Resanis’ 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad.
Some viewers have found it the greatest work of art ever put on celluloid. Many others…many others have been driven to madness or have tried to burn down the theater in which it is shown. I can only hope I feel more of the former than the latter.

POLICE REPORT-This is Officer Krupke reporting, I have what may be a 11-45 and I need an 11-96, yes backup, a SWAT Team. We have a librarian on the roof, not of sound mind and..yes…yes…keeps yelling that he just saw something called Less Year at Merry Abandon or something. Irregardless, please send…wait the team is here. 10-4, Out.

The crack SWAT team emerges from their vehicle and trot to the bottom of the library’s front steps. They are equipped with bullhorns and begin to speak to the librarian (known as C) who is hanging precariously from the ledge of the top floor of the building.

Captain Renault: What a wonderful bibliotheca you have here C. Why don’t you come down now, mon ami?

C: (Yelling down): No, I’m too upset with what I have just seen. My entire sense of reality has become something I don’t recognize. Last Year at Marienbad (He struggles to get the very words out) has forever corrupted my sense of reason.

Corporal O’Reilly: Perhaps this will help. (He holds a copy of Cahiers du Cinema and starts to shake it)

C: No, It’s too late for any crash course in critical theory.

Lieutenant Dan: Don’t be that way. I’ll buy you a cup of joe and a Cuban and we can discuss the pros and cons of the auteur theory.

C: Are you trying to talk me down or make me jump? I don’t buy into that…At least I don’t think I do…You see, it’s made me so confused!

General Turgenson: Boy, you just can’t accept a solipsistic viewpoint. You just don’t have the guts to take the bull by the balls and be in control!

C: Why is that my responsibility? Isn’t that the filmmaker’s job?

Ensign Pulver: Come on! Aren’t you grown up enough to accept a modernist approach?

C: Don’t yell at me! (He puts his hands up to his ears) Everyone’s yelling at me!

Captain Picard: Maybe the whole reality of that world was based on an implementation of holographic image reality.

C: (He throws his hands down in disgust) Come on Patrick! That’s nonsense.

Private Benjamin: And what about the rape scene?

C: There was no rape scene, Goldie! It wasn't Straw Dogs! Trying to pinpoint a rape scene is just critical propaganda; it’s not the truth.

Colonel Jessup: You can’t handle the truth!

C: (Almost in tears now) You’re right. I know you’re right.

Captain Spaulding: Is Cubism somehow involved? It’s like the time I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.

C: (now laughing) That joke is still funny. I needed that.

Private Ryan: And you got to admit, the mise en scene was very impressive

C: (Sheepishly) Yeah, I guess

Warr Officer Paul Brenner: And it did start to grow on you after awhile. Admit it.

C: Well, maybe a little. The organ music seemed less frightening in the second part. And some of those visuals, I’ve got to admit they were pretty impressive.

Private Ryan: Mise en scenemise en scene

C: (Smiling) Yes, Mise en scene.

Private Benjamin: And the rape scene?

C: (Nodding acknowledgement) Yes, I guess it might have been a rape scene at that if you choose the right school of interpretation.

Captain Kurtz: And in my time I’ve certianly seen worse horrors.

C: Me too, Marlon. I just sat through Grease afterall!

(All laugh except Warr Officer Paul Brenner)

Officer Krupke: So you coming down, kid?

C: Yes, I’m coming down.

C crawls through the library window. He becomes temporarily enamored with his comeover in the reflection of the elevator mirror as he heads to the bottom floor. He makes his way down a seemingly endless corridor to the front door.

C hears the applause of the SWAT team as he descends the steps at entrance of the library. When he comes out, C notices the SWAT team members have become frozen in place.

C wonders if they are frozen in time as well, loses his train of thought, shrugs, and goes home.

Friday, April 15, 2011



(1989 That afternoon, If I Fell)
My first day in Las Vegas was a hot one. Of course, describing a day in the Nevada desert as hot is pretty much a given, but the excessive temperature didn’t bother me in the least. I was on such a high from being in such an exciting place. I tried to rest in my hotel room before going to the show that evening, but who could sleep here? Then I went to the Imperial Palace bar and had a couple of shots. But who could get drunk here? What a place! To paraphrase what Wilfred Brambell said in A Hard Day’s Night,”it was time to go parading…before it’s too late.”

I had flown in that morning and was hoping to meet my friend who was scheduled to arrive in town that afternoon. Of course, his traveling by car practically across the country made it difficult for him to judge his arrival time. But if he didn’t make it in time, I was going to the show without him.

My first real chance to see a Beatle in concert had been Paul McCartney during Wings Over America tour in 1976. I didn’t really get into the Beatles until shortly after that, so I was tad late there. Well, I wasn’t going to be late this time. This might be my only chance. This wasn’t Paul, but it was an ex-Beatle. This was Ringo. Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band.

(1989 That evening, Things We Said Today)
The temperature was cool inside the Aladdin Theater and was a welcome contrast to the dry Vegas night. I admit I was happy to get off the strip at that point. As I walked pass the roulette wheels and Blackjack tables, I shook my head. Already lost there this afternoon. They’d have to wait a couple more hours before getting any more donations from me.

I approached the booth in front of the theater and purchased my ticket. Thank God it wasn’t sold out, as it certainly could have been. That would have just been my luck, but fortunately I got there early. The theater itself was homier than I would have thought. It reminded me a little of Atlanta’s Fox Theater, only a little smaller. There were plenty of good seats available it seemed. This would be fine. I took a detour to the restroom and, you may not believe that I ran into none other than Mr. Billy Preston! I still pictured him as having that big afro he sported on the inside cover of the Let It Be album. But-no-that was yesterday. He smiled at me and we exchanged greetings as he passed.

I just talked to the fifth Beatle!

Pretty soon I was going to see the fourth.

I was anxious to get to my seat. Sorry my friend was going to miss it.

More people were finding their seats as I went back inside. I scurried to one a few rows back and close to the center. This would be fine. I looked to my left and saw no one sitting next to me. More elbow room.

I looked to my right.

I pause here for a moment to acknowledge that this was the first time I ever saw her.

I usually try to not be that obvious, but when I first gazed upon her, I felt like my eyes were popping out of my head as if I were in a 1940’s Warner Brothers cartoon. The wavy blonde hair, the sparkling eyes, the button nose and that smile. I was a dead man after seeing that smile. I was one seat away from her and since she had already noticed me staring at her, I really had no alternative but to go forward. I was desperately thinking of what to say, but before I could get anything out, she was the one that broke the ice.

“This is pretty exciting. Just think-One of the Beatles, live in concert!”

I smiled and nodded in her direction.

Say something to her, you moron! I said only to myself.

“I’d rather see Ringo than McCartney to tell you the truth,” she said.

“Me, too,” I finally managed to get out, hoping she didn’t notice the crack in my voice.

Me, too? My first line to this perfect creature was no better than me, too?

But it was a start…and I got better. I told her where I was from and how I got to this place, both physically and mentally.

She said she was from Indiana, had just broken up with her boyfriend and when she saw that Ringo was playing Las Vegas, she impulsively hopped a plane to fun city.

Her name was Michelle. She pronounced it Mee-chelle, just like the Beatles song. I thought she was just putting me on about the name. She took out her driver’s license and showed it to me. Michelle McGuire of Gary, Indiana. She was perfect no matter what her name was. Maybe not perfect in the since of being on the cover of a women’s fashion magazine, but perfect for me. This was it. This was the one. I had to put the right bait on my metaphorical fishing pole of love, cast my line and reel her in. If I failed, I’d only regret it for the rest of my life.

I wasn’t that great at small talk, so I decided to test her Beatles I. Q.

“What’s your favorite Beatles album,” I asked with that noticeable, at least I thought it was noticeable, awkward strain in my voice.

“Well if you are talking about British releases,” Mee-chelle said, “ I’d go with Rubber Soul. The American release has too many of the songs cut out. If I Needed Someone and Nowhere Man have got to be part of the musical mix. How about you?”

Hoo! Mee-chelle knew her Beatles. I should have guessed she’d pick the album with Michelle on it. I said Sgt. Pepper’s was my favorite. It was kind of a stock answer to the question, not as good as hers, but I decided to try again.

I opened my mouth, but she was a step ahead of me and asked me what my favorite Beatles movie was.

A Hard Day’s Night.” I said this like there could be no other answer.

“I really like Help,” she said.

Help?” I countered. “That was just a stoned romp. A James Bond sendup that doesn’t hold up today. It’s worth viewing to see The Beatles during that period, but it’s not on a level of A Hard Day’s Night.”

She didn’t say anything to my response. How stupid of me to criticize her choice! Was I trying to be Gene Shalit or was I trying to woo the woman of my dreams?

I kept going. What’s your favorite Paul McCartney album?

“That’s easy,” she said. Band on the Run. Listened to it at least a hundred times. You?

I hesitated. I would have said Band on the Run too. But I needed a different answer.

“Uh, Wild Life.” I blurted out.

Wild Life? Why did I say that? I hated that album! Why in God’s name did I say Wild Life? Was my psyche trying to sabotage me?

“Really?” she said. “The one with Mary Had a Little Lamb on it? “That’s a surprising answer.”

An uncomfortable moment of silence hung over us. Did saying the two words Wild Life forever kill my chances with Mee-chelle? I pictured myself on my deathbed at 100 and my last words being “Why did I say Wild Life?”

She broke the silence with that smile that made me feel like I was going to melt into my seat like a pack of M & M’s dropped on the pavement of the Las Vegas strip. “Ok, favorite John Lennon album.”

I was ready this time. “Plastic Ono Band. It’s so gut wrenching.”

“Too much of that primal scream goes a long way,” she said. “I’ll just be predictable and go with Imagine.”

I nodded. I think I won that round.

I was going to ask about her favorite George Harrison album, and come back with All Things Must Pass. But she beat me to the punch, “Favorite George album?”

Once again I blurted out. "The Concert for Bangladesh!" It wasn’t what I was planning to say, but wasn’t a bad answer.

“No, I’d go with All Things Must Pass, too much Dylan for my tastes on Bangladesh,” Mee-chelle said.

Not a Dylan fan. A potential issue down the road, but hardly a deal breaker.

I decided to just move on to the next question. “Ringo album?”

She cocked an eyebrow as she looked at me. We both said, “Ringo,” at the same time, indicating Ringo’s eponymously titled album from 1973. That one was a draw. A happy draw.

The lights at the Aladdin started to dim as the curtains parted. I tried to quickly ask her where she was staying. What if the concert went on and I lost her at the end. I pictured myself roaming from casino to casino yelling out, “Mee-chelle! Mee-chelle! Ma Belle.”

She couldn’t hear me as Clarence Clemons, Billy Preston, Dr. John, Nils Lofgren and others began to sing the chorus to It Don’t Come Easy. Then Ringo Starr, AKA Richard Starkey, bounded out on stage in an ostentatious manner that seemed most appropriate considering the city which we were in. I was thrilled to be seeing a Beatle in concert. But I was more thrilled when I felt Michelle’s hand slip into mine as the concert began. I hoped at that moment she would never let go.

Las Vegas, 1990
And I Love Her.

Mee-chelle and I returned to Las Vegas to a little chapel on the top floor of the Imperial Palace where she became my wife on the anniversary of the day we met.

Las Vegas, 1991
This Boy

We decided to spend our first anniversary in the town we met. We also wanted some together time before the upcoming event that we knew would change our lives forever. Needless to say, fate decided that Mee-chelle would go into labor prematurely and our baby boy, who we named John Paul, could always refer to Las Vegas, Nevada as his birthplace. And yes, we joked that the next one we had would be named George Ringo.

Las Vegas,1992
I Should Have Known Better

Our final trip together to Las Vegas was a less happy one. The marriage capital of the United States is also the divorce capital of the United States. Mee-chelle and I parted company before our union was even two years old.

Las Vegas,1993
A Hard Day’s Night
The rest of the story is rather sordid. It involves a lot of finger pointing, accusations and ended up with me running off with John Paul to, believe it or not, Las Vegas. Extradition papers. Me worrying about really having to do some serious jail time. The bitch telling all those lies…Sorry, I got carried away. Anyway, despite all that, when I think about Mee-chelle I still try to remember the good times. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go off parading before it’s too late.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Saturday morning

Here I was at Dragoncon, the number one science fiction and fantasy show in the South. I should have been in my element here. But something was wrong. I didn’t seem to be fitting in. I had been to Dragoncon before, but I guess it had been too many years ago. I was out of touch now. Were Magic Cards still popular? Was it all right to talk about Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the present tense? And what the hell was this show Firefly about? Would a reference to The Prisoner or Space 1999 make me seem like a hopeless anachronism? Of course, it shouldn’t. Even people that don’t fit in anywhere else could fit in here. You could believe in anything here. You could get your picture taken with almost anyone under the sun (at least for the low, low price of $25). But no, I wouldn’t pay for a photo. I might have considered having one taken with Jonathan Harris while he was still alive. And I might do it for Barbara Eden, who I’ve had a crush on since I was seven. Nah, that doesn’t feel quite right either. I don’t want to get my picture taken with anyone. I don’t even want to talk to anyone. What exactly is wrong with me? Don’t I see these scantily clad women dressed as extra terrestrials and superheroines? That should put a smile on my face. Maybe, but only momentarily. What about comic books? Is X-Men still popular? The comic I mean, not the movie. Is there even a discernable distinction? If there were, I wouldn’t know about it. Wait! Over there! It’s an authentic imitation alien gypsy inviting me to partake in a game on chance! Maybe I’ll go over there and…what am I saying? I believe it is time for a reassessment.

Saturday Evening
The waiter at Ciceroni’s wasn’t paying attention to me. It was frustrating. The whole day had been so damn frustrating. Now, all I wanted was another damn drink. No, what I really wanted was to fit in a way that wouldn’t look like I was trying to fit in. I needed to drown my sorrows. I felt despondent as I stared into my empty glass and shook my head.

Ryan James snapped his fingers in front of my face to get my attention. “Hey. Are you zoning out? What’s wrong with you anyway? For someone that’s been at Dragoncon all day, you don’t seem to be having a very good time.”

“No, I was having trouble feeling like I belong. I couldn’t find my niche, I guess.”

“Oh, bollocks,” Ryan replied.” You can’t find a place to fit in at a Science Fiction convention? I think we may have to exile you to the Island of Misfit Toys.”

I took a sip of my Pabst Blue Ribbon that our waiter had finally got around to bringing me. I was uncomfortable talking about myself at that moment and tried to change the subject. “So…what was the deal with Mike in that getup?”

“Mike Reimer? He was Gandalf from Lord of the Rings. A most impressive costume, I must say.”

“I know he was dressed as Gandalf. But why was he was going around to people reciting lines from Macbeth? Was he supposed to be Gandalf or Ian McKellan dressed as Gandalf playing Macbeth? I’m confused.”

“Stop thinking so much. He was in character and having a good time.” Ryan took a pipe out of his pocket and put it in his mouth.

“Oh, not the pipe. You don’t even smoke. And why don’t you ever wear a costume at these things?”

Ryan took a puff out of his tobaccoless pipe. “The pipe is all about image my friend. And as for a costume, I’m pretty happy in my own skin. I don’t have to dress up as a character from Babylon 5 to find contentment.”

“Is that why you talk with that fake English accent? You’re from lower Alabama,” I said, perhaps sounding harsher than I intended.

“Come on mate, you know I watch a lot of BBC,” Ryan said.

“Hmmm,” I said with a trace of envy in my grunt.

I took a bite of my linguini and dropped my fork before putting a hand to my stomach. “I should know better than to eat this stuff. Gives me indigestion.”

“Head on home, cowboy. Sounds like you need to regroup.” Ryan said. “You’ll have another crack at sleighing the dragon tomorrow.”

I tossed some money on the table and went back to my hotel room.

12:00 that night
Not only did my first day at Dragoncon not live up to expectations, but now I was tossing and turning with an upset stomach. I got up long enough to take some Nyquil on the stroke of midnight in the hopes it would knock me out. Before my eyelids closed, I could have sworn I witnessed a freaky red flash of light.

12:01 that night
I found myself at a long table in the middle of my den. How could I be in my home? I was in Atlanta, in my bed at the Marriott. I had to remind myself this was a dream. It didn’t need to have geographic logic.

I sat on a metal folding chair. Two empty chairs of identical design were on the opposite side. I had actual wooden chairs in my real den, not these uncomfortable metal eyesores. Once again, this was a dream, but obviously this was a dream without a competent interior decorator. But exactly what was it all supposed to mean? Was I to just sit here and wait for something to happen? As I was starting to get irritated at the uneventfulness of my situation, the room began to darken. I was actually glad that something was happening, but I didn’t know what to expect. Some unseen stringed instruments began playing; at least I thought it was string music of some kind. As I tilted my head to try to hear it a little better, an impressive masculine figure pushed his way through the door linking the den to the next room. He was camouflaged in the shadows as he approached the table. His dress was that of a savage, but as he slowly removed his gloves and took off his headgear, I saw his rugged face and long white hair. I realized this could only be one person.

It was Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek Two: The Wrath of Khan. I knew this character was also in the original Star Trek Season one episode called Space Seed. As I looked at him again, it was clear this was the older Khan, from Star Trek II. I could hardly believe it.

“Khan!” I stood and shouted. But this was not a shout of anger; this was a shout of happiness at meeting an icon.

He looked me over, with that distinctive Khan tilt of the head.

“I never forget a face, Mr…Librarian,” he said in his methodical, articulate voice.

I laughed. “Oh, Khan. Isn’t that the same thing you said to Mr. Chekhov in The Wrath of Khan? But you were also in season one of Star Trek. Chekhov didn’t join the crew until season two. How would you have known him like you said when he came to your planet in The Wrath of Khan?”

Khan gritted his teeth and gave me a menacing look in response, so I didn’t pursue this subject any further.

Despite my pleasure at his company, I wasn’t quite sure how to talk to him. Finally I blurted out, “So, Mr. Khan. Is you being here some kind of Kobayashi Maru test? You know, the no-win scenario?”

“I know nothing of that which you speak. I am the superior intellect, but that doesn’t mean I know everything,” he hissed.

I tried to make some small talk. “Okay, so…how was living on Ceti Alpha V?”

Khan sneered. “I was abandoned there by Jim Kirk. He left me marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet buried alive…alive… I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and around Perditions Flame before I give him up.”

I applauded. “That was awesome, Ricardo!” I said.

Khan reached over and grabbed me by my collar and lifted me over his head. He pulled me practically against his face as he spoke. “Don’t ever call me by that name again. I am Khan!”

I waved my hands in panic. “You’re Khan! You’re Khan!”

He placed me back in my chair and I took a deep breath.

“There is someone else I wish to bring out.” Khan said.

“Oh, from another movie I guess,” I said, regaining my equilibrium. “This is a Dragoncon dream, so it would have to be sci-fi to stay with the theme. Let’s see…give me a hint.”

Returnof the Jedi,” he said.

“Princess Leia in the gold bikini!” This was obviously wishful thinking on my part, but Khan shook his head.

“Well, it must be Jabba the Hut then. It would stay with the whole villains theme. Hope the door over there is big enough for him to slither through.”

“Wrong, again.”

I started thinking. “Return of the Jedi. Probably my favorite Star Wars movie, except for the part with the…Oh, no!” I said.

“Yes.” Khan replied.

“Please, no! Not an Ewok!”

At that moment a diminutive furry little creature bounded through the door jabbering incessantly before leaping onto Khan’s lap. He was dressed like Khan, or seemed to be, though his rags may have been a little more tattered.

Khan smiled as he ran his fingers through the baby Ewok’s head like he was a prized pet Pomeranian. My dream that had seemed so cool a moment ago had definitely taken a turn for the worse. What did it all mean?

I decided to try to make the most of it and offered my hand as a greeting to the Ewok.

“Grrrr” was the only response I got in return as he stuck a tiny spear at me in a defensive posture.

“He can feel your anger...Relax.” Khan said.

I nodded to Khan before turning to the Ewok. “Hey, little guy, you can put that weapon down. I…I just want to talk.” I said this, but if I had had trouble making small talk with Khan, I definitely was going to have trouble conversing in Ewokese.

“How are things on Endor?” was all I could get out.

The Ewok said something to me, but since I couldn’t understand him, I only managed an uncomfortable laugh.

He shrugged, jumped off Khan’s lap and headed out the door.

“I think you bored him, my friend.” Khan said.

“Oh, sorry I didn’t provide more entertainment for a character in my own dream.”

Khan laughed. “Well, I have to depart as well.” He stood up and put on his gloves.

“Since you brought that Ewok in here, could you at least give me the line before you go?”

Khan cleared his throat and pointed at me. “You mean, I…shall avenge…thee?”

“Oh, that’s good. But I think you know what I really mean.”

“All right. But only because I upset your precious sensibilities with my furry little friend.” He turned around and the entire room darkened. A single spotlight shone on the superior intellect as he turned back towards me. He spoke dramatically and emphatically.

To the last…I will grapple with thee.
From Hell’s heart… I stab at thee.
For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath…at thee!

The lights came on and I stood as I applauded. “Thank you Khan. That was downright inspirational! I’ll try to use what I’ve learned in this dream to make Dragoncon more enjoyable tomorrow.

Khan glanced my way before he left the room. “It’s not through yet, someone else wants to see you. Farewell.”

I tried to ask Khan a follow up question, but he was gone.

I was still in the dream. Well, This was anti-climatic, or so I thought.
Then I heard a loud clatter as a man came stumbling through the door. He was balding, looked to be in his forties and was wearing a slightly askew gray suit.

He sat across from me and appeared to be hoping for a response.

“Hello,” I said apprehensively.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” He said in what I thought might be an Australian accent.

“Uh…could you give me a hint? You look like you might be an insurance salesman of some kind?”

“Oh, please. But, that’s all right.” he said. “I get this all the time. Let me reintroduce myself to you. My name is Zac Hobson and I’m from the movie The Quiet Earth.”

He reached out to formally shake my hand.

“Yeah, I remember seeing The Quiet Earth. 1985, New Zealand movie, I think. At the Georgia Cinerama. Yeah. I confess I don’t remember much about the movie itself.”

Zac looked disappointed, but not surprised. “You know my friend, it’s a very well received film. I’m sorry we didn’t include any Wookies or Klingons to adhere themselves to your fragile memory banks. Please forgive us for dealing with real people.” He looked at his watch. “What do you know? Time for your dream to be over now. The effect is due to occur right about-.”

Before I could question Zac further I saw the red light again and the dream was indeed finished.

Sunday at Dragoncon
Here I was at Dragoncon, once again, walking down the aisles of vendors. But on this day, I felt differently than before. Some looked up at me from their crystal balls, video game screens or from hocking their sci-fi wares and some paid me little or no attention. But that was okay. I felt comfortable in my own skin, as Ryan had phrased it.

I was looking all over for Ryan. I couldn’t find him at first. I did hear the voice of Mike Reimer and went over to him. He was once again decked out in his Gandalf outfit. He was clearly in his element and didn’t even notice me at first.

“It is a tale told by an idiot,” Mike shouted to a couple that really seemed to be enjoying his performance. “Full of sound and fury, signifying…’ He hesitated as he finally took notice of me, but wouldn’t break character. He gave me a thumbs up before turning back to the couple and continuing. “Full of sound and fury signifying…nothing.” I heard him say, his voice fading as I continued down the aisles.

I went further until I saw an outstretched hand holding a familiar looking pipe while feverishly gesturing. As I approached Ryan, I noticed him talking to a couple of attractive young girls who looked like twins and were dressed as fairies. I think they were fairies. For all I know they were characters from some science fiction cable show or maybe they were just groupies of some kind. Maybe they were characters from Firefly, though I still wasn’t sure what that was. Whoever they were, they appeared to be engrossed in his conversation.

“You see, ladies,” Ryan said in his faux English accent right before he took a toke from his empty pipe. “You see, the Mighty Thor has Mjolingor the hammer. It gives him a special strength. A strength that would be too much for even Superman himself.”

“Wow!” one of the twins said

“I thought Superman could beat anybody!” The other one exclaimed, placing the palms of her hands against her cheeks in disbelief.

“What about that Captain American? Could he beat Superman?” the first twin asked.

Ryan chuckled, holding his pipe off to the side as he did so. “First of all, ladies. It’s Captain America. He really doesn’t have any special powers. He’s like you and me. He does have a shield made of adantium. That might give Superman a run from his money. You know, the substance that Wolverine’s bones are made of. Of course, if you have a DC character go against a Marvel character, the victor would probably depend on who they’re working for.”

Ryan laughed so ferociously at his own comment, that he had to hold his sides to brace himself. The girls laughed too.

“You know so much.” The second girl said.

“Well, I.-“ Ryan paused as he finally noticed me standing next to him..

He nodded his head before he spoke to me. “I’ve been wondering where you’ve been, old bean. Now tell me, why are you trying to impersonate an insurance salesman?”

The girls giggled at his comment.

And for the record, I was decked out in a gray suit and tie that resembled Zac Hobson’s outfit from The Quiet Earth.

“You like it?” I asked him. “I got it this morning from the Men’s Wear Outlet. It makes me feel…It makes me feel like I belong.”

He patted me on the back. “That’s wonderful ole boy. I knew you’d find your way. It wouldn’t have been the path I would have predicted for you, but it seems to suit you.”

“It does suit me. It really does. Well, my friend. And ladies. If you’ll excuse me, I want to see what’s out there.”

I started walking down the aisles again. I was feeling good. I was practically strutting. I waved to all in that caught my eye. But something was still missing. Then I thought of Mike and an inspiration took hold of me. I cleared my throat, raised my hands and began speaking. The words just came out and they came out loud and clear and with a dramatic flair if I do say so myself.

“How hard to believe in the common good, when every fiber of my being tells me that the awesome forces I have helped to create have been put in the hands of MADMEN!
Is it not fitting then that I be made President of This…Quiet…Earth?”

Some people looked a little disturbed at my outburst, but enough people clapped to make me feel appreciated. It was then I noticed a glow to my right. At closer inspection, it was a ghostly apparition of the trio of Khan, the Ewok and Zac Hobson. As they stared in my direction, I interpreted the silent smiles on their faces as a clear sign of their approval.