Dunkleosteus was the largest fish the world had ever known. And she was beautiful.
I read about this giant thing from the early days of the world courtesy of the Discovery Channel and suddenly it dawned on me how to make the original tale of Orsonsharktopus make sense. I hadn’t nailed down the first of four films, I had only described it as “general mayhem.” But now all the exposition fits right into place.
Dunkleosteus was the love interest for Orsonsharktopus once upon a time, see, but Dunkleosteus was a beast of the planet Earth, whereas Orsonsharktopus is immortal.
They were lovers in the Devonian Period, and when Dunkleosteus went extinct along with the rest of her species, Orsonsharktopus lost the greatest love he would ever know. His heart was broken beyond repair. Over the eons, he grew bitter and cynical, but maintained a low profile so he could stew in his misery for all time without being bothered.
Skip ahead to present day. The Santa Bertha Aquarium (yes, our fictional town is called Santa Bertha, and it is located on the southern-central coast of California) has received some fossils to display as a new attraction: Dunkleosteus…
I can totally see this working. The first portion of the first Orsonsharktopus film can be like the first part of “Up,” where we feel all sad for Orsonsharktopus after Dunkleosteus goes extinct, and we sort of sympathize as he roams the oceans for eons, getting progressively lonelier and meaner.
And then he sees the advertisements for the Dunkleosteus fossils at the Santa Bertha Aquarium, and goes to find her. And when he finds out the love of his life has NOT returned to him, but in fact is being used as some cheap tourism gimmick, he is even more pissed off than ever.
I’m sure you can guess what comes next. General mayhem. Only now it’s personal, and much more passionate. It all turns into a monster action flick, with screaming crowds and mindlessly large quantities of human deaths. And in the end, our scientist heroes save the town and freeze him in carbonite.
And there, frozen in carbonite, and placed alongside his eternal love inside the aquarium, is our final image of Orsonsharktopus.
Do yourself a favor and read this article. It’s completely bad-ass. Some biomechanical researcher has been studying sharks’ tails and how they operate.
What’s so bad-ass about some nature scientist’s findings, you say? Well, I’ll tell you. Firstly: rainbow water swirls. Secondly: when you study the biomechanics of biological sharks, this leads directly to mechanical sharks. In otherwords, sharkdroids. It’s a shark. It’s a droid. It’s a robotic goddamn shark.
And I was searching for the perfect epic foe to battle Orsonsharktopus for one final sequel in Japan. It’s so obvious to me now. A GIANT ROBOTIC SHARK WITH THE HEAD AND MIND OF BRENT SPINER. Orsonsharktopus vs. Sharkdroid. It’s perfect.
Movember has been a strange experience; I’m not learning as much as I would have liked about men’s health issues, but I am learning a few disturbing things about myself. More on that later. What’s on my mind right now is a gaping hole in all our lives, and it affects both men and women.
Mustachioed sharks, it occurs to me, are sorely lacking in our culture’s literary & cinematic cannon.
In previous posts I have described my intention to write a series of screenplays involving a monster that’s part shark, part octopus, and part Orson Welles. If we go with the Orson Welles from “The Stranger” we get the mustache. This solves the problem of having NO mustachioed sharks, but it doesn’t make mustachioed sharks a widely-accepted and normal phenomenon. We must go further.
Therefore, in light of this gaping inadequacy, I hereby declare on behalf of all Americans a desire — nay, a need — for a remake of the classic movie “Jaws” but with a mustache on the shark this time around.
OHMYGOD you guys I’ve done it. I’ve created the general plotlines for four, count ‘em, four sci-fi monster movies. I learned a new word, tetralogy, which is like trilogy, except there are four parts. Intentionally. Not like a trilogy plus one, like four parts that make the entire arc. AND NOW I MUST CREATE ONE. I will use the vehicle of Orsonsharktopus for this endeavor.
I’ve already described the first sequel, Orsonsharktopus vs. Hydraheston, but the original will be just Orsonsharktopus. It’ll be your general mayhem-type movie where scientists try to get the local government NOT to use nuclear weapons to fight a massive monster that’s terrorizing the town, which makes them unpopular with the townsfolk, but they devise a way to trap the monster in carbonite (like Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back). It’ll be very pro-scientist, pro-environment, and pro-underdog. And we will introduce Orsonsharktopus to the world.
The first sequel, Orsonsharktopus vs. Hydraheston, gets into issues of freedom of speech and press, and again carries a pro-environment slant. The end scene, the big fight between the two monsters, takes place partly on a giant mass of floating garbage with some seriously explosive toxic waste. What I didn’t mention before is that the giant explosion that kills Hydraheston also deafens our plucky reporter.
The third installment, Orsonsharktopus vs. Barry Manilodon, again features the now-deaf reporter. He sings entire neighborhoods to sleep, and then eats them, whole buildings at a time. It is not long after he shows up that the entire town falls asleep and becomes little more than snacks for Barry Manilodon waiting to be eaten.
The reporter, because she is now deaf, is still wide awake. But she cannot wake anybody up, the giant shark’s spell is too powerful. She spends a few scenes alone, trying to survive in a nearly-surreal environment in the middle of the night.
Eventually she meets up with the scientists, one of which is sleepwalking and the other is awake because he is an unfeeling android and therefore cannot be lulled to sleep by adult contemporary music. They figure out how to communicate with the sleepwalking scientist and together get the answers they need. They hatch a plan to set a massive underwater “broadcast” of Barry Manilodon’s song, and then use themselves as human bait to get him to sing out again. With his music being sent to all corners of the ocean, it takes very little time for Orsonsharktopus to arrive. Orsonsharktopus hates Barry Manilodon, and immediately they have a giant fight. Despite Barry Manilodon’s superior size, Orsonsharktopus prevails by pulling off his feathered mullet, thus allowing his brains to leak out and eventually die. As Orsonsharktopus prepares to take over the town again, the scientists send off a small rocket playing adult contemporary music into the Pacific Ocean, and Orsonsharktopus gives chase, never to return. The town and its people are safe.
This movie gets less into socio-political issues, but maintains a strong theme of deaf feminine heroism, which totally gets the pro-underdog vote.
The fourth and final film will take place mostly in Japan, when Orsonsharktopus shows up in Tokyo and has to fight…I dunno. Another monster. It’ll work like this: Japanese scientists note a disturbance in ocean activity, but Japanese government officials pay no heed (typical). They reach out to the scientists from Santa Bertha, who travel to Japan to help investigate. While there, Orosonsharktopus attacks Tokyo and causes a breach in their hydrogen-energy plant, immediately polluting ocean with sci-fi goodness. This causes Orsonsharktopus to grow in size, strength, and meanness, and also awakens something else…they fight, and as they fight, the Japanese & American scientists work with the Japanese Coast Guard to destroy both by using, ironically, a nuclear missile.
I think I’ll ask around on Facebook for suggestions here on what kind of monster to create. I’m thinking something blowfish-esque, but am wide open to all ideas…
Search engine optimization takes a while, and to be honest, I don’t have a content strategy. Which is fine, because I also don’t have anything to sell at this time. Really, what’s happening is that I’m blathering on like an idiot and hoping to repeat myself often enough to get the search engines to point to me for certain keywords. Keywords like Sharkblog.
I’m already at the top of the search results for “Bil Gaines.” I’m pretty confident in that one. Google is constantly coming up with sneaky new ways to “tailor” their search results to be more “in tune” what what they think I “want” (see Google Is People?) but I have a feeling that by now almost anybody who searches for my name will find my website.*
Thanks to Google Analytics, I now know that more people have come to my website by searching “HydraHeston” than by searching “Bil Gaines.” That’s pretty awesome. It means my content strategy is working.
*If you want a video that encapsulates both my growing paranoia and simultaneous illicit love of Google into one convenient and well-constructed argument (complete with engaging slideshow), I recommend Eli Pariser’s TED talk:
I have a lot of thoughts on this topic, and perhaps I can expand on them in another post down the line, but this video sums it up succinctly. I really am considering purchasing his book, but first I’d have to finish the “I, Robot” series and then I’d have to get over my distaste for hardcover books.
By the way, public service announcement: Shark Week starts on July 31. I feel like I want to do something special for the occasion, but I’m not sure what. I will have a baby by then, perhaps I’ll celebrate Shark Week by dressing her up as a shark. It’ll be good for father-daughter bonding. Also, it’s good for children to have nightmares. I read that somewhere.
Various stolen ideas have paved the way for a screenplay I’m tentatively calling “OrsonSharktopus vs. HydraHeston” and it’s exactly what you think it is.
OrsonSharktopus is a mythical beast, not only because a shark with the tentacles of an octopus and the head of Orson Welles is not (yet) a physical possibility, but also because “OrsonSharktopus vs. HydraHeston” will play out as the sequel to an as-yet-unwritten screenplay.
That’s right: I’m skipping the original (just “OrsonSharktopus”) and going straight for the match-up between a seemingly equal yet wildly different creature.
HydraHeston is basically a seven-headed sea monster, and each head is Charlton Heston. Advantages to having seven different heads of Charlton Heston include multiple beard/mustache/baby face configurations and fourteen rifle-scope-keen eyeballs. OrsonSharktopus has only two eyes and one mustache, but it does have eight bitchin’ tentacles.
The dialogue’s going to have to be as hard-boiled as I can make it. Style will play an important role. As will wooden acting, if I have anything to say about it.
I cooked up a basic synopsis while doing laundry this weekend. Here is what I wrote down:
Setting: beach town
Idyllic, except when something goes wrong
People are completely ill-equipped to deal with adversity
Mayor up for reelection
will do anything to get reelected
— Clings to power like it’s fucking air or something; massive fear of losing power.
— Cares more about election results than actual townspeople
Wants to have election day on the beach, with a barbeque
— will produce higher turnout
— will also sort of “bribe” townspeople to vote for him
— Willing to risk lives to have elections on beach
Journalists in love
Work together as a team
Have to hide marriage from mayor (and everybody else) in order to continue working as a team
Are very close to the mayor
Man journalist is very reserved and cautious
Lady journalist is totally balls-to-the-wall troublemaker, a la Lois Lane (but less annoying).
Scientists with a common guilty past
Living with guilt of creating OrsonSharktopus and not destroying the monster
Reach out to journalists when Mayor won’t return phone calls
— Mysterious note to journalists
— Meeting in dark cafe prior to showing them the lab with OrsonSharktopus
Tell journalists about OrsonSharktopus with their promise they won’t publish findings
— Only way they were able to stop OrsonSharktopus was to freeze it in Carbonite
— Tell journalists best way to stop HydraHeston is to freeze it in Carbonite
These two were some of the main characters in the original “OrsonSharktopus”
Old Pirate General
Mayor uses this guy to head all military-type operations
— Retired, but gets pulled out of retirement from time to time.
— No one is really sure if he was a pirate or a general, but he certainly knows what he’s doing…
He wears an eye patch and has lots of tattoos, including a battleship across his chest and anchors on his forearms.
HydraHeston terrorizes the town. The journalists implore the mayor to close the beach, but he refuses because of the elections. He forbids the journalists to publish any news about HydraHeston, so they instead publish an article about how the mayor won’t close the beach because of the election barebeque; they fill the article with innuendo about how the mayor is willing to risk innocent lives and is also willing to censor the newspapers. The enraged mayor gets the two journalists assigned to an out-of-town assignment, but just as they are about to board a plane, they receive a mysterious note with a meeting request and promise of info re: HydraHeston…they decide to meet the scientists and stay in town to get the full scoop on the creature.
The journalists learn from the scientists of a possible way to stop HydraHeston, a plan that worked before…when they captured and froze OrsonShaktopus in Carbonite. When the journailists present this plan to the right parties, i.e. the mayor and the pirate general, they give it a try. Unfortunately, HydraHeston is just a little too bad-ass and the plan to freeze it in Carbonite totally doesn’t work. The journalists go back to the scientists for more ideas, but all they can come up with is to release OrsonSharktopus into the water to fight HydraHeston. They debate the consequences of releasing OrsonSharktopus, but the mayor shows up and orders it to be done…far away from the beach. He charges them to find a way to draw HydraHeston out, away from the beach, where they could release OrsonSharktopus to fight it and kill it.
The plan is in motion: the scientists will take the frozen OrsonSharktopus in a boat out to a floating mass of garbage in the ocean, and the journalists will fly with the old pirate general in a chopper, throwing steaks along the way to lure the beast out. Once near the floating mass, the chopper will land (on the garbage), the scientists will row to shore (of the garbage), and once together they will detonate explosives on the boat, sinking it, allowing the Carbonite to release the monster OrsonSharktopus. Once released, the humans will all board the chopper and fly away. The only snag comes as they are luring HydraHeston; somehow, the beast takes a piece of garbage and manages to throw it at the chopper. It hits the chopper so hard, one of the journalists falls out onto the garbage. She survives the fall, but is now lost on the garbage mass. What’s worse, HydraHeston has figured out how to climb on dry land (garbage); it chases her and she evades to the best of her abilities. The scientists detonate the explosives, starting the process to release OrsonSharktopus, but there’s no telling what will happen while HydraHeston is on land…as the journalist falls off a cliff of garbage into the water, it looks like all is lost — and as HydraHeston seems about to gobble her up by leaping into the water, OrsonSharktopus catches it. There is a humongous fight scene between the two mythical beasts as the humans scramble to help the journalist and get everyone back to the chopper. They nearly get caught up in the fight as the mass of garbage gets torn apart by the titans, but they eventually make it back to the chopper and escape. Flying away, they can see that OrsonSharktopus has killed HydraHeston, but then swam away…As they get back to dry land, they tell the voting public about OrsonSharktopus and demand that the mayor be held accountable for his actions.
I’m hoping to live near the beach when we move out to California (whenever that will be). I trust any town on the beach could be considered “idyllic” and will be great for research purposes while writing this screenplay. Also, great for surfing. And terrifying, because of the threat of massive sea monster attacks.
Obviously, this is preliminary. If anybody has any thoughts on story and/or characters, please let me know. I’ll be happy to take all comments into consideration. I’m good like that.
Otherwise, it’s all systems go on a full-length screenplay.
…And by “all systems go” I mean I’ll get to it in my spare time.