Tag Archives: Recycling!

100 Cop Shows

There is no limit to what can be turned into a police procedural now, from Sleepy Hollow to Minority Report to an upcoming Oliver Twist procedural series, and that’s not even going into Dick Wolf’s ever-expanding Chicago universe.  So I’ve taken the liberty of writing up 100 episodes (exactly enough to go into syndication!) of my own Cop Show.  You’re welcome, CBS.

  1. Alan Smirk is a loose cannon who gets the job done in his own way, and Douglas Gambull is a cop who obeys all the rules.  Their worlds collide when Captain Louis Stevenson of the NYPD ask them to become partners!  Will these two be able to reconcile their differences and capture a Jewel Thief?
  2. Yes they will.
  3. Gambull and Smirk attempt to diffuse a hostage situation where one of the hostages… IS GAMBULL’S DAUGHTER! Will they succeed?  Will Gambull be able to tell his daughter that he’s sorry for not coming to her ballet performance last night because he was too busy filing papers? Again: Yes. Yes they will.
  4. Leo “The War Piece” Tolstoy, a notorious criminal and mob boss, goes head-to-head with Gambull and Smirk when their on the case of a murdered shop-owner who refused to pay protection money.  Tolstoy avoids getting into jail this time, but Smirk makes a vow to catch him one of these days.
  5. Captain Stevenson has to work with his least favorite person in the world: Fire Commissioner Oliver Stevenson, his half-brother, when a serial arsonist’s attacks turn deadly.  Gambull and Smirk are put on the case, but they better not screw it up or it’s the Captain’s ass on the line!
  6. Incriminating evidence has been taken from police lockup, and Smirk is the prime suspect!  SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t Smirk.
  7. Smirk may have just had his heart stolen when he tracks down Victoria Smiles, a beautiful con artist who’s newest mark is guest star famous restauranteur Guy Fieri. It looks like this will be a case that’ll take a “Big Bite” out of New York!  Because Guy Fieri has a show called “Guy’s Big Bite”. It’s about burgers?  Yeah, it’s probably about burgers.
  8. Gambull and Smirk are shocked when Captain Stevenson is implicated in planting a gun on a black man shot dead, specifically because the dead man was Gambull’s childhood friend.  Also, Gambull is black.  We should have said that before.  But when new evidence surfaces, Gambull finds out that maybe he didn’t know his friend as well as he though.  And when even more new evidence surfaces, Gambull and Smirk realize that they don’t know Captain Stevenson as well as they thought. And when even MORE new evidence surfaces Gambull and Smirk realize that maybe they don’t even know… THEMSELVES.
  9. Gambull and Smirk have to protect a Russian Diplomat who’s head is marked for DEATH.
  10. Gambull and Smirk have to solve a case where the prime suspect… IS A TALKING DOG!
  11. Gambull and Smirk run into Smiles again, only this time she claims to be the next victim of dreaded Laserdisc Killer who leaves a single Laserdisc clue at all of his crime scenes.  Though the Laserdisc killer hasn’t been seen since 2001 and was presumably caught and sitting on a life sentence in Sing Sing.  Smirk, Smiles, and Gambull race against the clock to figure out this puzzle and save a potentially innocent life!
  12. Gambull and Smirk search for a murderer at one of Gambull’s daughter’s dance performances.
  13. Gambull and Smirk sort out fact from science fiction when they go to a robotics convention to look for a terrorist.
  14. Gambull and Smirk realize that there may just be more to New York state senator Mike Reinald than meets the eye.  One of those things is that he’s a murderer.  Another one is that he hates the New York Yankees.
  15. Tables are turned when Gambull becomes obsessed with tracking down the person who shot and killed his wife, so obsessed that he doesn’t even file the correct “obsessed cop” paperwork!  Smirk has to tighten up his own cannon to keep Gambull from going over the edge.  SURPRISE TWIST: GAMBULL’S WIFE WAS NEVER SHOT!
  16. Gambull and Smirk have to rely on the help of an eccentric IT worker when a hacker threatens to shut down New York City’s power grid!
  17. “The War Piece” returns!  This time Tolstoy’s been running an illegal boxing ring, and the worst part is that it looks like Captain Stevenson might just be involved!
  18. A death at a steel mill causes Smirk to go undercover!
  19. Gambull and Smirk think that a well-known newspaper journalist’s death by jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge may not have been an accident!  You’ll never guess, though, who the evidence points to being the murderer!
  20. Captain Louis Stevenson was the murderer from the last episode. He sets the entire NYPD against Gambull and Smirk as they try and prove it.
  21. In the thrilling conclusion to the two-part season finale, Gambull and Smirk go up against the two foes who have been secretly pulling their strings all this time: Stevenson and Tolstoy!  But the deeper our two cop friends go the more they realize that Stevenson and Tolstoy were only the lackeys for the true criminal mastermind: returning guest star famous restauranteur Guy Fieri!
  22. As Season 2 premiers and the dust from Season one clears, Gambull and Smirk have quit the NYPD and moved to the sunny shores of Los Angeles to become private eyes!  Their past immediately comes back to haunt them when the DVD Slayer, son of the deadly Laserdisc Killer, returns and is out for blood against his old foes: Gambull and Smirk.  Will they be able to catch the DVD Slayer this time?  Will their past as gritty New York cops keep coming back to haunt them?  Has Guy Fieri’s reign of terror truly ended?  Will Gambull be able to live without doing paperwork?
  23. Mostly no.  Except that their past as gritty New York cops will continuously come back to haunt them.
  24. What at first seems like just another string of race-related murders becomes something much more deadly when Gambull and Smirk team up with a helicopter pilot to solve… THE CASE OF THE BIRDS EYE.
  25. Detective Guitierrez of the LAPD comes to Gambull and Smirk for their help: He’s afraid that a corrupt cop may be about to incite another round of race riots at a fundraising ice cream social, and that corrupt cop has a familiar name: Stevenson!  SPOILER ALERT: Stevenson is guilty, but of no relation to the former Police Captain Louis Stevenson.  Gambull and Smirk have to learn that people can have the same last name.
  26. Gambull and Smirk find out just how strange the world is when their prime suspect has been dead for 50 years!
  27. Fact becomes fiction when Gambull and Smirk go to the set of CORRUPT, a movie based on their adventures last year to find out that the actor who is playing Captain Stevenson has been shot dead, and all evidence points to Smirk!
  28. Gambull and Smirk investigate a string of robberies at a Hollywood Hotel, only to run into a familiar face: Victoria Smiles!
  29. The owner of Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is shot down in a drive-by shooting.  As Gambull and Smirk Dive in, they realize that this may be the fiery work of their deadliest foe: Returning guest star famed restauranteur Guy Fieri!
  30. Gambull and Smirk head out to Martha’s Vineyard for a weekend of wine… AND MURDER.
  31. Gambull and Smirk go see a movie at Mann’s Chinese Theater for a night of silver screens… AND SILVER SCREAMS.
  32. Detective Guitierrez comes to Gambull and Smirk for help in tracking down a group of bank robbers before they rob a shipment of Iranian gold and incite international conflict!
  33. Smirk wakes up to a terrifying discovery: A DVD.  He thinks this could only be the work of the DVD Slayer, Gambull thinks he’s overreacting.  Will this break up our dynamic duo? No. Will the DVD Slayer return? Yes.
  34. Smirk has to face his overwhelming fear of Dinosaurs when a body is found at the LaBrea Tar Pits.
  35. A former cop is killed after he eats an avocado, and Gambull and Smirk are put on… THE CASE OF THE HASS-LER!
  36. Hank David “The Walden of West Los Angeles” Thoreau, a notorious LA gangster, has his sights put on Gambull and Smirk after he is released from prison.  The reason? HE’S THE COUSIN OF LEO “THE WAR PIECE” TOLSTOY!
  37. While hiding out from “The Walden of West Los Angeles”, Gambull and Smirk recount their favorite memories of working together.
  38. Detective Guitierrez needs Gambull and Smirk’s help in tracking down a magician who’s disappearing act seems real!
  39. As temperatures rise so do racial tensions in LA as a death ignites hatred against a poor Latino family on the outskirts of Santa Monica.  Evidence points to Luis, the youngest, but Gambull knows for a fact that Luis is innocent as he was playing basketball with him at the time and also he knows that Luis is a good kid!  Also also, Gambull is Latino.  that should have been said earlier.  Anyhoo, it turns out the mayor of LA is corrupt.
  40. An investigation into a birthday party where all the guests were beaten to death leads Gambull and Smirk to think that the crime may have been drug-related, and you’ll never guess WHO is the leader of the drug ring.  SPOILER ALERT: It’s returning guest star famed restauranteur Guy Fieri!
  41. Guy Fieri’s Burger Bombs have been set all around LA, and Gambull, Smirk, and Guitierrez have to race against the clock to make sure they don’t explode!  Meanwhile, Fieri has nefarious plans for that empty LA Mayor’s seat.
  42. Gambull and Smirk have to protect mayor-elect former Detective Guitierrez from being assassinated by none other than Hank David “The Walden of West Los Angeles” Thoreau (which would, by LA law, mean that he’d take over as Mayor).  Meanwhile, Victoria Smiles gets in over her head trying to implicate Guy Fieri in conspiracy to commit murder.  As this season draws to a close, you’ll never guess who dies in the action!  Spoiler Alert: It’s Gambull!
  43. Season 3 begins with Smirk at his most loose-canon-y as he’s on the war path to track down Guy Fieri across the US.  Gambull is dead… or so he thinks!  In truth, Gambull’s body was sent to a secret NASA facility in Miami where his brain is being put into a ROBOT!  Smirk finds this out and meets up with his old partner in Miami, where they join the Miami Experimental Crimes Unit!
  44. Uh Oh Spaghetti-O!  The DVD slayer is back! Gambul1 uses his new-found robot vision to look into the DVD code to try and catch the slayer before he kills his next victim,  but will he get too far into the Slayer’s head only to become the next DVD Slayer?  No. No he won’t.
  45. G4mbull sees a murder take place with his x-ray eyes, but no one believes him when the victim is seen walking around unharmed the next day!  Could G4mbull’s new robot brain be fallible, or is there a crazy conspiracy at foot?
  46. 6ambull, Smirk, and the people at MECU go up against their greatest foe yet: A super-intelligent dolphin who’s trained to kill!
  47. A hot Miami nightclub gets even hotter when it’s burnt down.  Gamb0ll and Smirk are shocked to learn that the nightclub’s owner was MECU head Shellonius Monk’s Brother!  Now- more than ever- they have to track down the arsonist!
  48. Gam8ull is rushed to MECU with a nail in his eye!  While Gerhardt the Robot Scientist works on repairs, Smirk and Monk look at the video footage of the past day when a worker at the Villa Vicaya was found murdered with a nail gun!
  49. The Miami Dolphins need the help of MECU, as it seems like their best players are getting murdered one-by-one by a crazed Atlanta Falcons fan!  It’s a good thing Gambu11’s a robot, because otherwise this could end up bad!
  50. G4mbu1l and Smirk rush back to where this all started: New York, when their old, corrupt Police captain Louis Stevenson is let out of prison early!  Stevenson’s got his sights on getting revenge against G4mbu1l and Smirk, and he’s got a secret weapon to help him out: a prototype police robot that issues the death penalty… FOR EVERYTHING!
  51. The thrilling conclusion to the return to New York!  Robots fighting Robots!  People fighting People!  The New York Knicks playing the Miami Heat! That’s right: NOW IT’S PERSONAL!
  52. 6a3bull realizes that being a robot is really hard when his body is taken over by a hacker and forced to rob a bank!  Smirk and the rest of MECU have to out-hack the hacker or else Smirk will have to kill his best friend!
  53. Gam80ll and Smirk’s vacation in the Everglades turns deadly when they have to track down an evil oil baron who’s trying to build an illegal oil rig!
  54. Gamb011 and Smirk have to figure out truth from fiction when a string of murders take place in real life that are shockingly similar to those carried out in a video game!
  55. The DVD Slayer walks into MECU: We have to work together, there’s a DVD Copy killer out there!  6am8u1l and Smrik, along with tech genius Gerhardt, look through the past few days and realize it’s true: There’s a Copy Killer on the loose!
  56. G43b0ll and Smirk are put on duty safeguarding punk rocker Jimmy Stabbbs, who is the star witness for the prosecution in the trial of notorious Miami gangster Walt “The Shepard” Raleigh who has put a hit on Stabbbs’ head.
  57. Smirk has to solve a case alone when an evil Building inspector locks the rest of the MECU team inside the Spacedome while 6a3b0ll is having his brain re-nutrialized.
  58. 643bul1 and Smirk are going to Disneyworld!  Only this isn’t for fun, it’s to solve… A MURDER!
  59. Gam8011 and Smirk have to dive into the weird world of competitive MMORPGs when computer genius of MECU Gerhardt goes missing.
  60. G4m8011’s computer brain starts to put together some odd puzzle pieces that never quite fit: The DVD Copy killer, evil dolphins, The Miami Heat playing in New York when they should have had a home game that day.  All evidence points to a singular mastermind at work: Famed restauranteur Guy Fieri!
  61. With Guy Fieri in town for a Famous Restauranteur Conference, Smirk sees his chance to finally take revenge against the gruesome griller.  But 64m8011 thinks otherwise, especially when he’s visited by a mysterious source with ties to the Restauranteur underground: Guest Star Alton Brown!
  62. A Restaurant Conspiracy is unveiled: by working with the Sovereign Dolphin nation and the Secret Evil Government of Cuba, restaurants will take over the US and trap everyone in a soviet hell!  It’s up to G438011, Smirk, Victoria Smiles, and our friends at MECU to stop this from becoming a terrifying reality!
  63. Guest Star Alton Brown leads the march against Guy Fieri and his evil Pastabots as 6438011, Smirk, Smiles, and MECU race to solve a series of nefarious puzzles, or else risk Miami falling into the sea! You’ll never guess how the season ends, so I’ll tell you: Smirk is shot! BY 6438011!
  64. 6438011 is recommissioned for a new assignment: Search for the twisted mastermind who left a newborn baby in duffel bag!  Meanwhile, returning guest star famed restauranteur Guy Fieri begins to plot his escape from Guantanamo Bay, and Smirk wakes up in a University of Chicago laboratory where they’ve done the seemingly impossible: Bring back both Smirk and Smiles… only now they’re the same person!  That’s right, now 6438011 has to figure out how to work with his new partner who’s a woman! Can this robot figure out how to make it work?
  65. Yes. Yes it can. It is a robot. It can do literally anything.
  66. An old case becomes shockingly relevant as the DVD Slayer is transferred to the Cook County Jail as per the request of his kindly old Grandfather.  Only this Grandfather may in fact be Chicago’s most ruthless of unsolved killers: The Betamax Basher!
  67. 6438011 and the new Victoria Smirk adjust to their new life in Chicago as they’re once again gritty street cops, and also as they’re now roommates! They’re about to find that the only thing worse than Chicago crime, is living together!  Also Chicago traffic in festival season is God awful. It’s just terrible.
  68. Victoria Smirk has to put her new life to the test when she gets a new assignment: In the Chicago Vice department!  It’s here where she first meets the next in a long line of dastardly gangsters: Eddy “King of the Urban Jungle” Burroughs.  Meanwhile, 6438011 find out the hard streets of Chicago are even harder for a NASA robot.
  69. 6438011 and Smirk’s worlds collide when they encounter… MURDER AT THE BEAN.
  70. The King of the Urban Jungle is trying to spread his gang business into another Chicago Gangster’s territory.  Burroughs sends his best hitman to take out this rival gang, along with none other than Victoria Smirk!  Meanwhile, 6438011 tries to remember what a hot dog is.
  71. Tech Genius Gerhardt from MECU moves to Chicago to join the elite crime force, and just in time too because 6438011 has run out of batteries WHILE PURSUING A KILLER!
  72.  6438011 is away testifying in court, and so Gritty Chicago Police Chief Stephano Roix asks for Smirk and Gerhardt to team up with his best cop, a gritty Chicago street kid named U, to track down a group of thieves who stole $40K worth of gold and are on their way to the National Bank of China- Chicago Branch! Then things get weird.  U finds a dead clown, which Gerhardt is able to identify.  Meanwhile, Roix finds out that all of the thieves have been killed except for one who Smirk takes into protective custody.  Using the fingerprints of the dead clown, U is able to find the gold.  Only Gerhardt then realizes that it’s not gold they’ve found… BUT CHOCOLATE!  Eventually they solve the crime, and 6438011 comes back to a round of applause.
  73. 6438011 and Smirk are on one of their few days off when they get trapped inside a haunted house and have to solve a decades old murder, or else become victims themselves!
  74. Gerhardt, doing routine maintenance on 6438011, mistakenly erases all of 6438011’s memory!  To make matters worse, old foe Louis Stevenson is in Chicago and out for blood- literally!
  75. A casual day of gang activity at the aquarium turns deadly when Smirk comes face to face with THE DOLPHIN!
  76. Special Guest Star Rahm Emanuel asks to the Elite Crime Unit’s help when he gives a speech at the University of Chicago.  Things turn deadly, though, when Emanuel is struck with a deadly virus that could spread through Chicago like a fire, and Gerhardt and Doctor Cassandra Frankenstein race to find a cure.  Oh, Gerhardt’s been having a romantic subplot this whole time.  He and Dr. Frankenstein kiss at the end of the episode. Spoiler alert.
  77. It’s a triple format threat when the Laserdisc Killer, the DVD Slayer, and the Betamax Basher all escape from prison, join forces, and attack their two greatest foes: 6438011 and Smirk.  Only one group will survive the night, and it’ll probably be the series’ protagonists!
  78. Smirk finds herself trapped on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan with Eddy “King of the Urban Jungle” Burroughs, and what’s worse: She’s starting to think that maybe he’s not evil! Meanwhile, 6438011 tries to remember what pizza is.
  79. A murder occurs where you’d least suspect it: at an active crime scene!  What’s worse? SMIRK’S FINGERPRINTS ARE EVERYWHERE!  Has Smirk turned to the dark side?  Has 6438011 completely lost its humanity?  Will Gerhardt and Frankenstein be Chicago’s newest “it” couple? WHAT’S INSIDE GRITTY POLICE CHIEF ROIX’S DESK?! These questions will be answered…
  80. But not in this episode!  Here, The life of Gerhardt’s mentor and brilliant computer person Toby Turring hangs in the balance when the heart he needs for a transplant is stolen!  Putting everything on hold, they track down the heart.  It turns out it was satanists!
  81. 6438011 confronts Smirk about the fingerprints, and it turns out that Smirk may have turned to the dark side, but that she didn’t kill the person.  Instead her hands were used for latex casts.  Gerhardt tells 6438011 the terrible truth: It is no longer human, and basically just a toaster that solves crimes.  643 would cry if it had emotions. Frankenstein talks to Gerhardt: They are so madly in love that Chicago has awarded them the honor of being the “it” couple.  They now have keys to the city.  Using these keys to the city, they break into Gritty Police Chief Roix’s desk and find a conspiracy that goes straight to the source: The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair!
  82. Smirk is faced with a difficult choice: Get promoted from Vice and become a gritty Chicago detective, or get promoted in the gang world and become The Queen of the Urban Jungle.  Meanwhile, 643 meets a nice chess-playing robot.
  83. 643 and Smirk race against time to stop the city’s water supply from being poisoned in… THE WATER TOWER CRISIS!
  84. A holiday party turns deadly when GPC Roix, Gerhardt, Frankenstein, Smirk, 643, and U get trapped in the Willis tower by The King of the Urban Jungle.  Meanwhile 643 gets a strange message… from returning guest star Alton Brown!  Could the restaurant conspiracy be afoot again?!
  85. In this cliffhanger of a season finale, Smirk reveals that she’s been working as a double agent for the past five episodes and has- indeed- turned to the dark side of crime.  GPC Roix reveals that all the trouble with Satanists and vampires and killer clowns all has one nefarious goal: To bring Chicago into Hell, and the reason he knows this? HE WAS GRANTED IMMORTALITY AT THE 1893 CHICAGO WORLD’S FAIR! Also, Gerhardt and Frankenstein have a fight!  Will they continue to be an “it” couple? Has smirk been lost to Crime?  Will she kill 643? Will 643 ever go into a swimming pool again? Will Hell come to Chicago?
  86. In order: Yes. No. Not really. Yes, and it’s a bad idea. Yes, but then they all fix it.
  87. The dust of THE CONFLUENCE fades.  Smirk has blood and oil on her hands and knows she has to redeem herself.  GPC Roix gave up his life to close the gates of Hell.  Gerhardt and Frankenstein are a really cute couple, even if they’re now a talking dog and an amorphous blob that shoots lasers out of her eyes (respectively).  643 is gone.  Oh, and to make matters worse? THEY’VE GONE BACK IN TIME!
  88. Smirk, Gerhardt, and Frankenstein investigate a murder-arson case while continuing to deal with the aftermath of 643’s death.  Oh, and who could this mysterious murderer-arsonist in 1803 Chicago be?  Why none other than the WAX CYLINDER STABBER who’s a distant relative of the Betamax Basher and, by extension, the DVD Slayer!  Will killing this murderer-arsonist alter the timeline?
  89. Yes, but our fearsome foursome doesn’t care.  Oh, and they’re a foursome now because 643 has returned as the ghost of a robot who insists on being called Doug.
  90. The Wild West is about to get a lot more wilder, as Doug, Smirk, Gerhardt, and Frankenstein find themselves involved in a train robbery!
  91. A killer in a small Swedish village in 1974 gets the attention of The Time Brigade in their Foreversphere.  While investigating, Gerhardt realizes that the killer’s next victim could be… HIS MOTHER!
  92. The Foreversphere gets invaded by a swarm of Time-Bees, which bring out the best and worst memories of all members of the Time Brigade.
  93. 1968: New York City. On these mean streets a killer walks, taking whatever he wants and blowing up buildings.  It’s up to Doug and Smirk (Gerhardt and Frankenstein are off on their honeymoon) to catch this monster before it’s too late.  But do these gritty New York Cops turned Los Angeles Private Investigators turned Miami Special Ops turned gritty Chicago cops turned Time warriors have what it takes to investigate on the gritty streets of New York?  Yes. They do. They now travel through time, finding a killer is remarkably easy for them to do.
  94. Trapped together in a Grain elevator, Smirk apologizes to Doug for getting him killed all those times. And for betraying everyone to a crazed gangster.
  95. Gerhardt the Talking Dog is elected president in the future year 2042, or at least that’s what it seems like.  Only as Frankenstein, Smirk, and Doug investigate further they realize that this future may be more dire than they thought.  It’s more dire because of robot dolphins. They kill people and eat their skin.
  96. The Time Brigade find themselves trapped in a deadly torture maze in Ancient Rome and subjected to the mad whims of none other than Caligula!
  97. The Time Brigade find themselves in 2027, and what’s more they’re face-to-face with their older selves! Gerhardt and Frankenstein have gotten a divorce in this future, Smirk went to prison for her crimes but secretly works with the FBI, and Doug is the Sheriff of a small Virginia town where nothing ever happens until a string of bizarre murders with otherworldly ties rolls in.  Our heroes now must put aside their differences to solve the greatest mystery of all: Friendship. Oh, and at the end of the episode the Foreversphere crashes into Victorian England.
  98. With present Doug dead in the Future (who knew a Robot Ghost could be killed?) and Future Doug alive in the present which is actually the past, Gerhardt no longer being able to talk but just being a regular dog, and Frankenstein lost forever to the streams of time, it’s all up to Victoria Smirk to solve THE CASE OF THE FOGGY STRANGLER.
  99. Smirk and Future Doug- along with their new friend Sherlock Holmes- find themselves in a conundrum: They witness the beginnings of the restaurant conspiracy that has been a thorn in their sides for far too long.  What’s more?  The Cult of the Illeterati’s leader is none other than a distant relative of the DVD Slayer!  And you’ll never guess who’s in the center of all of this knotted mess of time-crime: Returning Guest Star Famous Restauranteur Guy Fieri!
  100. Hell. Time. Crime. Greed. Love. Friendship. Grit. Restaurants. Dolphins. Robots. It’s been one heck of a ride for our two detectives Gambull and Smirk.  But now it all comes to an end.  Now it’s the two of them up against Guy Fieri at the End/Beginning of the Universe.  SPOILER ALERT: Guy Fieri is reduced to simmering blob of hair product, for he can never truly be killed, and Doug decides to keep him as a pet alongside the dog Gerhardt.  Doug moves to Virginia where he settles in and continues in his timeline as a small-town sheriff in over his head.  As for Victoria Smirk? She’s having adventures with the love of her life: Sherlock Holmes in the new spinoff series: Baskerville.

I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical

Let’s have a conversation!

Okay!

YOU.

No, YOU.

Okay… me.

For those of you who are following the journey of The Tape, the above was Andrew’s summation of what this “conversation” has been.  For those who have followed my analyses of the past entries, you know that for the most part I’ve been seeing them as a way of visualizing the internet itself.  Well, that is until “Missing“.  With Missing we started a new conversation, marked both by the overwhelming honesty of it and how deeply personal the film was to Andrew.  This was also marked because the old tape, the one with “I Got the Poops” to “Powerful Magics” on it that was inscribed with wacky magical runes and everything was destroyed.

This new conversation took me by surprise.  I had planned for a lot of thing in between Powerful Magics and Missing, but I hadn’t planned on that.  I hadn’t planned on something personal.  How would I respond?  Clearly a lot of the more wacky ideas I had come up with wouldn’t work, clearly I couldn’t just mirror and refract like I did before.  So then how?  By making something personal.

Before you watch the video below, I must warn you that it’s deeply personal and explicit.  For those of you who wish to watch my films and be interested in my genre explorations and digital experimentation that’s perfect and wonderful, but this is not a video for you.  This is a video for anyone who wants to truly know more about me as a human. You may continue at your own choosing and your own risk.


I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I don’t like talking about myself, and the very idea that you’ve just watched half an hour that’s all about me is something that a part of me finds disgusting.  However to respond any other way but personally would be to disregard Missing, and it would be to disregard Andrew.  That was something I didn’t want.  But IDTAM:TM is more than a simple need to reply to a video that one person will see.  This correspondence, though presumably just between Andrew and I, has always been open and these videos are always available for anyone to see.  So why make a video that I find deeply uncomfortable and whose subject matter deeply bothers me if I know it will be seen?  1) I’m not 100% sure this will be seen; and 2) Because I need to say this.  I needed to make this video.  Now that it’s released I’m not going to lie and say that I’m Okay, but I feel like I can start moving forward.

So now, let’s move into looking at what this film is.  And it’s a bit of a mess.  I have hours and hours of footage related to this project on my computer, enough to probably make an entirely different movie about an entirely different subject matter.  Going into the reply I knew that I’d answer Andrew’s plea for “The Truth”, but for me there’s a reason I don’t like telling the whole truth: It’s painful.  It’s painful because the Truth, so much as it exists (and one of the things I’ve been coming to realize is that truth is something very ill-defined), is that as difficult as these past years have been for Andrew they’ve also been difficult for me.  Going back to CSF, graduating, working several minimum-wage jobs, getting shouted at and demeaned by 12 year-olds — things haven’t been going my way.  I don’t know if this is “true” or “false”, or rather I’m not sure how much of this is out of my control and how much of this is my own attitude towards events that have happened.   So life is messy. Life is complicated. Life is sad,  Life is something I haven’t really ever been prepared for.

So naturally I’ve been thinking about ending life.  This was the truth.  This was what I would look at. This would be my Self-Portrait.

So why the mess?  Part of this is the problem presented in the film itself: I’m tasked with replying to a film, so if I throw out everything about the previous entries and the means of communication that we’ve set up then I wouldn’t be replying to it.  But If I were to just copy the structure of Missing then I wouldn’t be staying true and I would lose the point.  It was a damned if I do, Damned if I don’t scenario, and as always when I come the clearing with two paths I decided to take the road never traveled and make my own.  I decided to do both.  After all, this is a Self-Portrait, and one of the things I can tell you about me, the true me, is that I’m a self-contradictory mess.  There are plenty of nods to “Missing” in this piece, from the very opening mirror (I had a better sync up where my face was exactly half of Andrew’s, but I think it came at the wrong part of the song? Maybe the camera ran out of batteries?), to the shot of Andrew walking around alone with headphones in, to the cinematic montage of exploration, to the very idea of having personal log entries scattered throughout.  This was a reply to Missing.  It’s also a companion piece to Powerful Magics.  Look at it this way: If Powerful Magics is the Great and Powerful Oz, then IDTAM:TM is the Man Behind the Curtain.  Powerful Magics was about, among other things, putting on a show and showing off expertise and- perhaps one of the main things- magic.  IDTAM:TM Mirrors a lot of the segmented nature and jumping around that Powerful Magics did, hell it even has a musical breakdown in the middle of it and an experimental deconstruction.  You can even go all the way back to the first pair of videos in this correspondence for references in IDTAM:TM with the reintroduction of Pokemon and Disney films into the discussion.  There are plenty of cosmetic and structural references to the prior pieces all over IDTAM:TM, to the point where it can very well be argued that I did nothing but remix and regurgitate everything that came before.  Gimmicks abound in this piece.

It’s also one of the most outwardly honest and open pieces I’ve made and probably ever will make.  It’s a half-hour straight of a straightforward discussion of my insecurities as a filmmaker and a person and how those insecurities came to be.  It’s a discussion of the idea of friendship and connection and how it has been a topic of pain for me, especially in these past few years.  This film is where we finally confront the 800 pound gorilla that has always been looming around this discussion (at least for me), which is the closing of CSF and how exactly that effected me, in the short and long term.  The Closing of CSF is something I’m still working through, and it’s not because of the loss of the school.  It’s the loss of friendship I experienced as a side-effect of it.  It’s the painful reality that we all have to face sooner or later: People move on; and for me it seems like people move on a lot more often.  The point of this film is also to explore why this betrayal hit me so hard: because I’ve never felt like I belong in this world, even though by all accounts I should.  To tell the story of my isolation, the school closing, it’s reverberations to this day I had to skip over a few decades worth of explanations as to my actions.  But again, this is meant to be a portrait, not a biography.  But in terms of leading to the climax: my thoughts of suicide and finally going on mood stabilizing medication, the story is very linear and paced out rather well.

But this is also a self-portrait, shaped by individual style and how I see the world.  It’s a world of chaos.  A world where dominoes are carefully set up then stomped on and destroyed, falling in ever more complex patterns.  Mine is a world where I am the video game villain, the mastermind who has little motivation for wanting to ruin everything except for “Thing just didn’t work out”.  Mine is a world where reality can be ripped apart, and throughout the piece the moments of data bending, of sync errors, of dead pixels and duplicating images, they all come together in these moments of stylistic flourish.  They’re also all very deliberate.  True, the sync errors were a constant problem I ran into when exporting this project, but it was something that I could and did fix if needed.  But the dissonance between sound and picture and the removal experienced by the blinks to grey are there to communicate the delicate chaos of our world: One error and we blink to grey.  One blip of code and suddenly what you see as life and what you experience (hear) as life are out of sync, and you do what you can to fix it.  Every moment of pixellation and of bending also serve this point: peeling away layers and exposing these images for the conglomeration of RGB that they are.

Finally, we come to the Jellyfish.  This was come of the most beautiful footage I ever shot, and there’s always an otherworldly elegance to the Jellyfish.  Elegance, danger, and mystery all combine in the nature of the jellyfish in their movement, their sting, and their biology.  They are an ancient creature which has survived through millennia lacking the one organ that I feel defines life: The brain.  So do the jellyfish here represent stupidity, mystery, timelessness, beauty, reaction, survival, or danger?  It’s all that and more depending on where the footage is used and how it’s used, and yes this openness is very much planned.So with all this conflicting structure and conflicting ideas it’s no wonder that the final piece is a mess, and that’s okay.  It’s okay because I think in the end it accomplished all I wanted it to, mainly showing what these six years or so have been like for me in between Powerful Magics and IDTAM:TM.  Because these past few years have been messy.  But I’m starting to be okay with that, and putting this together was a big part in getting here.


So that’s that.  Look forward to a bit of a write-up on how exactly I went about crafting a package for this piece, and I promise that will be a bit closer to my usual analysis of form and how to incorporate references to prior packages and pieces in a meaningful way.  I may also do one final write-up on the state of The Journey of the Tape up until this point.

If you’re interested in Andrew’s thoughts on this piece, I will link to it HERE when it goes live.

As a closing remark, though, I can’t help but feel Andrew got his summation of our conversation wrong.  He’s been ignoring context and a lot of space around the pieces.  Here’s how it’s felt to me:

Are You Okay? (I Got the Poops)

Yeah, Sure! (In Fridge)

Well, Good. Things looked a bit bleak there. (Happy Birthday, Murderer!)

Of Course I’m Okay.  Maybe you’re not Okay! (Powerful Magics)

You’re right. I don’t think I am. (Missing)

Well neither am I.  Sorry. (I Don’t Talk About Music: The Musical)

 

I’m Tired and My Head Hurts

Here’s a seldom seen one from my time in Boulder.  Part of that is because I’ve never thought very highly of it, part of it is because it’s completely made up of copyrighted material that I don’t necessarily want to break the copyright on. At any rate, it’s a “Film Essay” that I made about the themes of loneliness and alienation in “Meshes of the Afternoon”, “The Cool World”, “Ornette: Made in America”, and “Jeanne Dielmann 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles”.  Let’s take a look at it and see if I’m right about it being sort of boring:

I’m Tired and My Head Hurts from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

No I’m not.  The disjointed nature of the film not only helps keep something like this interesting (I had never heard of film essays before, since then I’ve seen a few and so I know it’s a thing and something that could be sort of neat), but it also helps convey a lot of the ideas on these films and how they can connect visually and metaphorically in a scattered but understandable approach.  Outside of the realm of Video Essay, though, I also think that if nothing else this is a good study on alienation through information, as I included so many layers of video, audio, and text, that it overwhelms the viewer when they can’t keep up with everything (plus, the minute in complete blackness is a nice touch).  So in the end, I suppose I learned today that one of the films I had previously thought was pointless is actually sort of nice.  What did you learn today?

Bishops Castle 8-24-12

Here’s another Data Bend. It’s still interesting to see the glitch effects and variations in color, but there’s something missing to make this all click into place.  I feel like these would be better suited as a type of projection piece wherein the viewer would be immersed in this world, rather than watching it on a tiny YouTube window.  The other problem is that as the video gets more and more compressed from Final Cut to a usable mp4 then to YouTube a lot of the Effects that I found most fascinating and a lot of the digital texture gets lost.  Give it a watch and let me know what you guys think.

Next time I may try exporting this as HD all the way through, and I may try and see what I can do with color replacement and the like (Those grey blocks, though brief, can be distracting).  Fortunately these are works in progress, and you get to be along for the ride!

“Space Laser” best photos 9-N-4!

As we’re all aware, I was recently back in Sioux City Iowa at the Western Iowa Technical Community College to make a movie (Much like I did last year when we made “Write-In 2012“).  This time we shot a short sci-fi piece about Trash and Spiders and Laser beams.  It was a lot of fun, and it’ll take a while to get everything edited together.  In the meantime, though, here are some stills from set to quell the curiosity that would otherwise consume and kill you.

Featuring Jim Westcott as "Space Demon" Mangus DeTriade!

Chris Risdall, Camera Assistant

Fun Fact about shooting this film was that we shot in the server room at WITCC, which means that all of the wires that are going in and out of the shots are actually all of the internet for the entire school!  It was an exciting location that proved to be a bit tricky to block in (I had only seen photos of it before getting onto set, and the room was simultaneously bigger and smaller than I had thought) and we had to have a member of the IT department watching us the entire time to make sure we didn’t unplug anything.

Jason Lees in Cinema 19N4!

Front projection of a ship computer in 19N4!

I was also glad to finally work with the immortal Jim Westcott for this project.  If any of you have seen the work of Andrew Gingerich you’d most know Jim as Roger Deerborn in “Third Party ’08”, but he’s also been on the sets of “A Serious Man”. “Sweet Land”, and many independent features in the Minneapolis area.  Jim was a pleasure to work with, as were our other two actors Matthew Hubert and Aundrea Marcoe.

Matt Hubert and Aundrea Marcoe as Skarsgaard and Steelpepper, respectively

The Immortal Jim Westcott

No Cash Value

During my junior year of college in my design class I was tasked with making a poster, there were a few stipulations, but overall I had free reign to make a poster on whatever I chose.  So, I decided to turn my gaze to the Ministry of Playwriting, a writing group I headed up in high school that still occasionally met.  We were talking about releasing a book of some of the more coherent writing warm-ups and short scripts we made, and I decided that when this theoretical book was published we’d have a theoretical reading from that book.  So, here’s the process behind the creation of the very real poster to all of these theories.

Firstly, I decided that I wanted to hand make this poster, mostly because one of the signature styles of the Ministry was it roughness and its unpolished nature.  Many of our warm ups featured instantly incorporating something into a script regardless of whether or not it would fit (resulting in multiple bus crashes and giant squids int he middle of emotional dramas).  I also decided that it would be interesting to create the poster on top of script pages from our write-ups, after all this was a reading from the Ministry of Playwriting, why wouldn’t our poster highlight our writing?

The first very rough draft of "No Cash Value"

This first poster has a few issues.  FIrst, I was originally thinking about using hand made stamps to create the type on the poster.  Well, I found out that firstly almost every letter stamp I made would come out backwards (and I was all out of stamp foam), and second I found out that all of the stamp type would come out almost entirely illegible.  Also, for the general format of the post I wanted to invoke both mid-century modern but also the work of Tandori Yokoo.  Unfortuantely during critiques I found that going for an almost direct translation resulted in the conveyance of the idea of “No Japan”, which is nowhere near anything I believe.  So, I decided to take what worked from this design, scrap the rest, and come up with something entirely new from scratch.

THe second try at the No Cash Value poster
A quick note, these posters were actually large rectangles, but when combining all of the image files together in Photoshop it gave me these strange parallelograms.

Okay, now we were getting somewhere. I had settled on to a way to incorporate the zero sign without conveying anything terrible, and that was what would be described as the Squid.  It’s actually meant to convey both a zero and an explosion (One of The Ministry’s earliest motto’s was “If at first you don’t succeed: Explosion”. Needless to say, we weren’t very good writers at the beginning). Also it’s meant to be a squid, as that became our de facto mascot (see also the Ministry of Playwriting coat of arms at the top corner of the poster).  Aside from the Squid tying everything together, we also had a great cluster at the top that conveyed information in a visually interesting and simple manner.  The only thing I needed to work on for the next round was the lower half of the post (everything beneath the Squid looks like chaos, and not in the playful way I wanted. Instead in the ugly, “I don’t know what I’m doing” way), and I still needed to work on the color palette a bit.

The Final Design for the "No Cash Value" poster

So there’s the final design.  It mostly works, although after looking at this poster fairly regularly for the past few years, I can say that the title “No Cash Value” still isn’t reading as a title, and that the treatment of the repeating “May 16 2010”, although interesting and worth exploration, didn’t come out as well as it could have. The 7:00 MST came out fantastically, and I finally found a way to incorporate the magazine photo cutouts while also incorporating them into the overall piece well.  Further, I finally found a great color palette.  So, an overall success I suppose.

VATAS: Erpisode 7

Now we’re improving a bit and getting back into the sweet spot of a VATAS episode: In Erpisode 7 we have a simple task that’s rather boring (It was recycling day, the second most exciting day behind laundry day), which has been chopped up and interspersed with stranger segments (like me eating paper, singing a song about recycling and failure, and the constant refrain of “Recycling!”).  It’s still a bit tedious, but it’s an improvement over the previous two episodes.

VATAS 7 on YouTube

Despite the tedium of Number 7’s recycling sequence (I feel like it could have been pared down, and that this could have been an excellent 6 and a half minute episode rather than 7 and a half), there is much more confidence in this episode and what it’s doing (and I think the previous two rather unremarkable episodes helped me get that confidence).  There’s also a sense of unraveling beneath Number 7 that I rather enjoy, and come Episode 8 we’ll see why. Also, I think the one-liner of the episode (“This is a hat rack. This is MY hat rack”) worked a bit better than it has in the past (although I think my favorite one-liner is still “The Tie was FAKE”), and some more intelligence in what to cut and how to streamline an episode is beginning to form.  In short, Erpisode 7 is a solid improvement, I think, and an important episode (Among 3 and 4 in it’s way of showing the growth of the VATAS experience).

We’re going to be coming up to the three big VATAS nuggets next, so come back in about a week for Deadisode 8.  Or, you can watch them all on Vimeo. As always, it’s completely up to you.