So we says to the guy...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SCENE 1: the fact of the matter?

Here at Jeff and Ross Industries we have come to realize that we have written ourselves into a corner so to speak. So far we’ve stuck to one formula that we know very well: Writing about our booze-riddled adventures. While it is only expected that the two of us continue what we know best, we find that there are a number of troubles we will have to face while traveling along this same path. It will eventually lead us to greater poverty than we currently find ourselves in and the price of human livers on the black market is outrageous these days. I could save up now for one as Ross’s Christmas present, but knowing his stinginess, he’d probably reciprocate my gift with a liver that had once belonged to an 80-year-old sailor who had a broken heart and a hankering for the Bangkok night life. Another writing challenge we face is keeping our material fresh. We don’t want to be like those aging rocks stars that don’t realize they’ve been releasing the exact same filth since the beginning of their downhill career. Finally, there’s the issue of the both of us being plagued with the restraints of full-time work, so our daily routines are really nothing noteworthy.
I have come up with a solution that will solve all our problems. I think we should turn to the loving embrace of fiction. That’s right, fiction. Being aspiring journalists, Ross and I have been brought up to deal with nothing but the coldhearted truth. Sure this is a noble cause, but sometimes I find writing non-fiction kind of like using two pieces of bread to make a sandwich, as opposed to using two pop-tarts; it’s just not as good. Also, the term “non-fiction” is just such a negative connotation. Think about it: “non” “fiction.” It might as well be called “not-enough-fiction.”

It’s true that Ross and Jeff Industries has indeed reached something of an impasse of late, but I wholeheartedly disagree that bastardizing the creative art of writing with elements of fiction is the only option. This organization was built with a solid foundation—sandstone blocks of principle held together by the cement of morality and the gravel of idealism…we even started work on a picket fence whittled from the dreams of a better world for all—and now you want to burn down our precious sanctuary to make way for a superhighway of lies. Do you really want to be an arsonist, Jeff?
I see your point about the making of sandwiches with pop-tarts. I see it and I don’t like it one bit. I want reimbursement for groceries in full, but that’s a separate issue. So you have your sandwich filler, which is, oh I dunno, like peanut butter, gravy and lint, if I know you as well as I think I do. Now, where bread would strengthen your teeth and bones, not to mention help you see in the dark (though I’m not sure I’d like that much…I’ve seen you standing over my bed, watching me sleep), pop-tarts might kill you. You could choke on the wee coloured bits on top or get the whole thing wedged in your esophagus sideways, but an arguably less immediate yet no less perilous danger is that you get hooked on the sugary goodness. That, my friend, is a slope more slippery than our bathroom floor on those occasions you get caught short. Do you really want to be an addict, Jeff?

I will now conduct an experiment to demonstrate my point. Here is a typical routine in our daily fiction-less lives:

Open scene:

Jeff walks in the flat after a long day’s work. He goes to the kitchen and throws on a pot of hardy chili. He then takes it to the living room, where he meets Ross who’s busy reading the dictionary. The both of them greet each other with nods of acknowledgement and proceed to turn on the TV. For the rest of the evening, they watch some infomercial about this crazy thing that will cook eggs in less than five minutes; I think it’s a frying pan or something.
Soon enough one bowl of chili for Jeff turns into 17. He begins to feel dizzy. His eyes roll to the back of his head and the next thing he knows, he wakes up face down on the carpet. Sitting up, he looks behind him where Ross is still sitting on the couch watching TV.
Without averting his gaze from the screen Ross says, “Must have been some good eats.”

“How long have I been out?” Jeff asks.
“Doesn’t matter. I rolled you over, so you were safe.”
Jeff smiles, “Now that’s what pals are for.”

End Scene.

I can only think of one word that can sum up that entire episode, and that’s BORING! You need real conflict to make something truly compelling. Now lets jazz-a-size that fable with a little thing called “fiction.”

Open Scene:

Jeff walks in the flat after a long day’s work. He goes to the kitchen and throws on a pot of hardy chili. He hears Ross in the living room watching TV.
From the kitchen Jeff calls over, “What are you watching? Is there a soccer game on?” Only after hearing a glass bottle being broken over the side of the coffee table does Jeff realize the mistake he’s made.
Ross comes into the kitchen wielding the shattered stub of his Irn-Bru. “It’s called football, you scallywag!”
The both of them stand there facing each other for what seems like an eternity of pure tension. While Ross usually does take offense to Jeff’s ignorance, this reaction seems far too drastic for Ross’s character. He’s also not one known for the use of such profanity. Jeff realizes that he needs to find a peaceful way to get out of this situation as quickly as possible.
Looking over to the stove, then back to Ross, Jeff says calmly, “Ok, let’s take it easy… Now listen, I just need to stir the pot or the bottom will burn.” Slowly stretching his arm over to his pot of chili, Jeff goes for the handle. Quickly he throws its searing hot and delicious contents towards Ross’s head. His scream fills the room as bean and make-up fly from his face. Once Ross lowers his hands, Jeff sees that he is now sporting the most sinister moustache that had been ever so cleverly disguised. Upon further inspection, Jeff realizes that this was not in fact his friend, Ross Lockhart who stood before him, but his old arch-nemesis, Gabriel McGusto. Jeff curses under his breath as he realizes that his days serving in the Royal Canadian Junior Cadets have finally come back to haunt him.
“Where’s Ross? What have you done with him?” Just as Jeff makes his demands, the closet door bursts opens revealing the real Ross tied-up on the floor.
The real Ross yells across to Jeff. “I find this quandary far atypical of most of our habitual per diem!”
“Now’s not the time, Ross. I’ll get us out of this.” Jeff reassures his friend. Turning back to his enemy, Jeff propositions, “Well Gabe, we can make this hard or difficult.”
Thinking back to all those years studying the Karate Kid saga, Jeff recalls one of the finer moves that is renowned for solving the most difficult problems and then some. Taking out his set of house keys, Jeff holds them out and proceeds to jingle them with his right hand. Jeff distracts his enemy with the shiny object just long enough to use his left leg to perform a dropkick so powerful that it sends the both of them to the floor, writhing in pain.

End scene.

Brilliant! I don’t know about you, but I was captivated. Can you now see the powers of conflict in the realm of fiction?

All the blood, sweat, tears and numerous other bodily fluids that were lovingly forced down the throat of our nurtured creation, our very own hybrid mongrel offspring; the water breaking all over our nice sofa that we now offer overnighting guests, the agonizing contractions that almost became too much labour and made us consider throwing in the soiled towel and, of course, the perpetual screams of your night terrors that I only wish were metaphorical; all this will be for naught if we choose the path of fiction. Do you really want to be a baby-killer, Jeff?
Let me illustrate the dangers of fiction by way of example. A peculiar and off-putting young boy…let’s call him Jeff for the time being…thought it might be fun to worry his neighbours by claiming there was a wolf roaming near his herd of sheep. Now it’s not important what Jeff did with the sheep late at night when no one was looking, but what is important was that his trickery paid off and he got great kicks when the neighbours rushed out to his aid time after time. Of course, when a wolf did actually appear one night when Jeff was alone with his sheep, no one believed him when he shouted for help. And so on that fateful night, the wolf devoured all the sheep, dressed himself up in sheep’s clothing, blew down Jeff’s house and ate his grandmother. I forget the moral of the story, but the point is that lies are lies no matter how much you cake them in wee coloured bits or wool or something. Do you really want to get blown by a cross-dressing wolf just before he eats your grandmother, Jeff?

There’s only one way we can solve this little conundrum, Ross, and that is taking it to the streets. No, I’m not talking about a knife duel… even though I’d cut ya good. I’m speaking of asking what the fans think. So I call upon my faithful to support my cause by telling me your thoughts in the comments section.

Your faithful, is it? And when have I ever used the word “scallywag”? I’ve got a broken Irn-Bru bottle with your name on it right here if you wanna go, princess, and if I didn’t have to get to bed early to get up and earn money for groceries you’ll immediately devour, I’d have a lot more to say on the matter. Soon, my friend…soon.