6/24/2010

15+ Literary Mashups: What happens when you mash together works of classic literature?


Inspired by the latest trend in fiction, mashing together characters and plots from different genres,  I've tried my hand at mashing together works of classic literature.  I would definitely read some of these!
  1. Crime & Prejudice (Crime and Punishment + Pride and Prejudice).  Raskolnikov struggles mightily with guilt over the terrible things he has said about Elizabeth Bennett, but she forgives him after finding out he owns a really big estate in Siberia.
  2. Love in the Time of Oedipus the King (Love in the Time of Cholera + Oedipus the King).  In the end you find out Oedipus dreamed the whole thing.
  3. The Old Man and Moby Dick (The Old Man and the Sea + Moby Dick).  After 84 days of nothing, Santiago catches a really, really big fish.
  4. Gone With The Karazamovs (Gone with the Wind + Brothers Karazamov).  Rhett and Scarlett debate such weighty issues as God, free will, and morality, eventually resolving that in a world without God, everything - to include stealing your sister's beau, seducing your best friend's husband, and dancing with handsome strangers days after the death of your husband - is permitted.
  5. The Grapes of Wuthering Heights (Grapes of Wrath + Wuthering Heights).  Two classic tales of great depression in one.
  6. The Scarlet Letter of Courage. (The Scarlet Letter + The Red Badge of Courage).  Whether the A stands for Adultery or Ashamed, the ending remains just as unsatisfactory.
  7. A Farewell to Lolita (A Farewell to Arms + Lolita).  Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Humbert Humbert makes some bad choices and ends up being carted off to jail for statutory rape.
  8. Call of the Mockingbird (Call of the Wild + To Kill A Mockingbird). In which two great literary themes - "you shouldn't kill defenseless things" and "only the strong survive" - finally come together, culminating in an unforgettable final scene in which Boo Radley and his pet wolf lope off into the sunset.
  9. A Connecticut Yankee in 1984 (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court + 1984).  After a blow to the head, Hank Morgan (industrialist extraordinaire) time-travels to 1984 and finds himself right at home, establishing a power-sharing sharing agreement with Big Brother wherein they agree to use technology to inspire fear and obedience in the superstitious masses.
  10. Hamlet the Obscure (Hamlet + Jude the Obscure).  Poor Hamlet just wants to be left alone to become a scholar, but his scheming family has other plans.  (Ophelia comes to a bad end in this version too.)
  11. The Decline and Fall of Walden (The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire + Walden Pond).  Walden slips irrevocably into ruin as a result of Thoreau's lethargy towards current affairs brought on by his adoption of Enlightenment as the official state religion.
  12. On the Road with Faust (On the Road + Faust).  It's all fun and games until the devil shows up demanding his due. 
  13. Gulliver's Odyssey (Gulliver's Travels + The Odyssey).  This one's a natural!
  14. Thus Spoke Huckleberry Finn (Thus Spoke Zarathustra + The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).  In which Mark Twain's eponymous hero shares such gems of Buddhist wisdom as: "What's the use you learning to do right, when it's troublesome to do right and ain't no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same?" 
  15.  Waiting for Gatsby (Waiting for Godot + The Great Gatsby).  Everyone keeps partying but nothing ever actually happens.
  16. Portrait of the Artist as Frankenstein (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man + Frankenstein).  The novel traces the intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Frankenstein as he begins to question and rebel against the Catholic conventions in which he has been raised. Eventually he leaves for abroad to pursue his calling as an artist.
  17. Tess of Animal Farm (Tess of the D'Urbervilles + Animal Farm).  Pretty much the same plot as Tess of the D'Urbervilles, except all the major characters are represented by animals.  All of the male characters are pigs.
  18. Are You There, God? It's Me, Dracula. (Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret + Dracula).  As if being a teen wasn't hard enough.

6/05/2010

9 Theme Restaurants Waiting to Happen


I figure the 1980s was probably the height of the theme restaurant fad, but notice that plenty of novelty restaurants - The Rainforest Cafe, ESPN Zone, Hard Rock Cafe, Outbacks, Medieval Times, Hooters, Planet Hollywood, Mars 2021, etc. - are still doing a roaring business. 

Following are some novelty restaurant ideas that I think would be huge hits.  Anyone have any venture capital just sitting around?
  1. Piranhas.  With it's Amazonian decor, indiginous music soundtrack, and menu of exotic dishes (hippo burgers! curried caiman! leafcutter ant salad!), such a restaurant would be an instant hit.  And that's before the restaurant's primary novelty attraction: a big tank of piranhas.  Guests would be encouraged to dump their leftovers into the tank and watch the fish swarm to consume them.  It's the next big thing in recycling!
  2. Excaliburgers.  My foray into the fast food business.  Restaurants would have a "Knights of the Round Table" theme, complete with actual round tables, each with one "king" chair, padded in red velvet so as to hide the bloodstains generated by the hundreds of thousands of children that will immediately break out into fistfights over who gets to sit in them.  Want a scabbard of fries with that?
  3. Ringside.  My entry into the "sports bar" category.  Watch actual boxing matches from the comfort of your own ringside table, because nothing adds "savory" to food like spattering body fluids.  
  4. The Minuteman Diner.  A place for true American patriots to indulge in honest, American food like pizza, tacos, chili, lasagna, fried rice, and more.
  5. The Titanic Dining Room.  Everyone else has capitalized on this famous disaster: why not the restaurant industry?  Patrons would be treated to an evening of opulant dining in an exact replica of the Titanic dining room, ordering from menus matching those offered to Titanic guests during their (brief) cruise and listening to music of the era performed by a live orchestra.  To add even more verissimilitude, the sound system will pipe in actual (replicated) transmissions from the Titanic's fateful last day, so patrons can viscerally experience the drama of the event while relaxing over their deliciously chilled iceburg lettuce salads. 
  6. Northern Lights.  My foray into the coffee bar category.  The restaurants would be decorated to resemble northern hunting lodges, complete with snowshoes, endangered caribou antlers, cuddly polar bears pelts, and photos of baby seal hunts on the walls. But the real attraction would be overhead, as a laser display replicates the northern lights in all their eerie neon splendor.  Of course, laser displays require smoke upon which to project, so smoking would not merely be encouraged but actually required.  Oh - and all the drinks would be secretly laced with "5 Hour Energy."  I figure the combination of caffeine, nicotine, and 5 Hour Energy boost are sure to guaratee a devoted (and highly addicted) customer base.
  7. Hippyland.  Get your '60s on at this theme restaurant featuring groovy decor, an even groovier soundtrack, and a menu featuring such period favorites as Yellow Submarine Tuna Sandwiches, Psychadelic Salmon, and Magic Mushrooms.  All food served on genuine hemp tablewear, because it's recycleable, man.  Go ahead, give peas a chance.
  8. Custard's Last Stand.  The next big craze in ice cream (and political correctness) - egg custard served in cake cones shaped like pistol holsters.  The store would specialize in flavors inspired by Native American agriculture - pumpkin custard, sweet potato custard, etc.  Naturally, the decor would include artists' renditions of the fateful battle, because what could be more politically correct than celebrating one the few times Native Americans whooped the asses of their invaders? 
  9. Knockers.  Kind of a Hooters knock-off, but the large-breasted waitresses all wear pink outfits to express their support for breast cancer awareness.  Similarly, all the decor is pink, the table service is pink, and much of the food is pink.  Women who have actually suffered from breast cancer receive a complimentary slice of pink cake while the waitstaff gathers around the table to sing (with all the enthusiasm they usually bring to "Happy Birthday") "She's a Pink Warrior."  Hamburgers would be ordered by cup size rather than by weight in ounces ("I'm starving - better bring me a double-D!"), with mini "nippleburgers" available for the kids.   Naturally, 5% of each vastly overpriced meal would be donated to breast cancer charities. Finally, a restaurant with something to appeal to the whole family!

Movies Watched Backwards


Ever wondered what your favorite movie would look like if you watched it backwards?  Here are some of my favorites from a new perspective:
  1. Godzilla become a movie about a compassionate monster that emerges from the sea to rebuilds devastated communities, then returns to his watery home until humanity once again requires his services.
  2. 10 Little Indians/And Then There Were None becomes a story about a beautiful but desolate island that is gradually overrun by tourists.
  3. The Sound of Music becomes a story about a much-abused stepmother who makes the courageous decision to abandon her cold husband and cruel stepchildren in order to pursue her true vocation as a nun
  4. Miss Congeniality becomes a story about a former beauty queen who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as the result of an explosion at a pagaent, tragically sinking into despair, bitterness, and slovenliness.
  5. King Kong becomes the tale of a large ape who comes to regret his decadent lifestyle in the city and decides to return to a more peaceful existence on a beautiful tropical island.
  6. Sleeping Beauty becomes the tale of a prince who tragically kills the woman he loves by kissing her, until and ugly and much maligned witch brings her back to life.
  7. Zorro becomes a movie about a man who etches the letter 'N' into a variety of surfaces.  Oh, wait - that's if you watch it sideways.