THE NUCLEAR FAMILY
Originally published on 3/21/14
“The Incredibles 2: The Nuclear Family” picks up five years after the events in the first film. All a little older and consumed with their own lives, the Incredibles are all headed in different directions. Mr. Incredible owns and operates his own franchise of cross-fit gyms with very minimalist workout routines like throwing cars, bridge cable training, and more. He’s become a guru to other super heroes looking to get super fit. Elastigirl spends a lot of her time flying her planes and has grown distant from her husband. Violet is a senior in high school and has fallen in with the bad crowd because of her ability to turn invisible and steal test answers from the teachers. Dash is a freshman in high school and is extremely popular because of his speed and good looks. A definite thrill junkie, he spends a lot of time going out at night and fighting crime much to the chagrin of his parents. The news stations refer to him as The Fast. Jack Jack is in Kindergarten and is slowly learning to harness his powers.
Enter The Nuclear Family! Dr. Nicholas Nuclear, a geneticist who discovered how to turn on dormant chromosomes. In a fit of genius (or madness?) Dr. Nuclear altered his entire family to give them powers and improve their lives. His wife, Nancy, unlocked a masterful use of hand eye coordination. Their son high school senior Nick “The Nuke” Nuclear gained the ability to fire plasma from his hands. Nina, their freshman daughter, learned how to change shapes and appearances. And the youngest Nuclear, daughter Noomi, became the smartest six year old… ever.
Who are the Nuclears really? Will the Incredibles’ marriage survive? What’s up with Dash’s new obsession with beating the bad guys, Jack Jack’s new abilities, and Violet’s new diamond necklace? Where is Frozone?
Originally published on 2/8/14
The swamp held many secrets, Yoda among them. He recognized those mysteries from the second his small escape pod landed on the desolate planet of Dagobah. The little creature sat silent on the shore of the swamp. All around him, the natural chaos of animal and plant life danced in a never ceasing pattern. Since arriving on the planet 19 years before, Yoda had fallen in line with the pattern.
His green hands, cracked and bruised, swayed out over the water. Yoda spent most of his days deep in mediation with the Living Force.
Different is the Living Force, he thought, reminiscing on the vast understanding he’d gained during his years of self imposed exile. Yoda discovered that the Force was deeper than Light and Dark. There was also Living and Dying. Living Force grew, Dying Force destroyed. The Jedi, in all of their wisdom, never fully understood the Force.
Their need for order, as much as the Sith’s need for chaos, clouded their judgment. Their reasoning that Midi-Chlorians dictated an individual’s connection to the Force was misguided. Their dissociation with love was in error and their desire to protect the galaxy was incorrect. There was no good or bad. No Jedi or Sith. There was only living and dying. Growth and decay. Beginning and end. Dagobah was full of both.
Yoda exhaled deeply, traveling further into congress with the binding nature of the Galaxy. Here on Dagobah, the force was so thick around him he could walk upon it as if it were solid ground. He stepped out and shifted his slight frame onto a pocket of energy that bounced gently yet sustained his weight. Now in the late stages of his life, the old Jedi Master relied on the Force for most of his movement.
He let his fingers reach out toward a gathering of rocks and called for them to join him. He sensed the Force leave his hand, surround the rocks, and lift them off the swamp shore. The 900 year old being flicked his wrist and sent the rocks in different directions. He then brought his hands together and floated back to a cross legged position.
Why do you still train, a viperous voice said from his subconscious. Your failure has ruined everything you ever knew.
Yoda shook the thought away. Long had he pondered the arrogance of the Jedi and all of the problems it had caused the Galaxy. Long had he known they should have never established the temple on Coruscant… so far away from the Living Force. These regrets did him no good now.
Suddenly, a loud crash tore him out of his meditation. Yoda’s eye shot open, dilating quickly. The Force found his cane and brought it to his hand. Sensing the direction of the crash, he ran across the swamp on bubbles of Force energy until he reached the other side.
The forest ahead of him was dense with thick green branches and moss covered trunks. Yoda slid the cane into his robe over his shoulder and leapt onto the nearest log, digging his claws on his feet and hands into it. Memories of his childhood washed over him. He’d been young once, headstrong and defiant. The Force was abundant on his home world, but there was debate on the merits of using it. Most elders refused to explore it calling it witchcraft, an abomination and perversion. Yoda and his closest allies revolted against the establishment there and were close to upheaving the entire society, when the Living Force first called out to him.
It began as a low murmur in the back of his mind, telling him to move on from his home planet. Some things weren’t worth disrupting. Some places needed to stay the way they were. Some truths should remain truths from a certain point of view. The Living Force beckoned him to something bigger, something more important than changing a small planet on the outskirts of the Galaxy. Yoda was pulled to play a larger role for the Force.
To Coruscant he went, becoming a Padawan at an older age than the Jedi Council deemed appropriate. Yoda continued his life living by the Code of the Jedi and therefore considered the influence of the Living Force less in order to serve them. And so for almost a millennia, he shut out the low murmur in the back of his mind and trusted the Council in all matters.
Yoda heard a series of metallic beeps and whirls and knew it at once to be an astromech droid. He ducked under some low hanging branches and saw a Starfighter stuck in the swamp. A humanoid, in an orange and white flightsuit hopped out of the ship into the water. The radical change to his world filled Yoda’s mind with memories. The war, the clones, Sidious.
Immediately, he thought of that last battle against the Sith Lord. A twinge of anger wanted to grow in his gut, but Yoda had mastered that emotion 700 years before and paid it no mind now. He knew Sidious would fall, just like all the others who craved power. Power consumed itself. Eventually, the Dark Lord would die. Either by Vader’s hand or the Children of Skywalker. He knew it, The Living Force told him so.
But for now, Yoda felt the Force calling him toward the new mystery of a weary traveler and his astromech droid.
THE FLORIDA FOUNTAIN
Originally posted on 1/15/13
Rupert Remington III had never been so sick… and that was saying something. Ever since the blue blooded oil tycoon turned 65 his health had been kept up by machines. Resperators, ventilators, dehydrators. Remington’s fortune kept him going, until the morning the machines weren’t enough.
“Rupie, sweetie,” Marjorie, his fifth wife, called from the bottom of the marble staircase. “Time for your water aerobics.”
Remington’s palatial and well tended estate was considered by most to be the largest privately owned property in Florida. Remington made sure of it. The only problem with owning a place that massive was when something needed to be said, you weren’t always able to be heard saying it. You could be alone in the house or just alone in one room and not know the difference. So when Marjorie yelled for Rupert and didn’t get a response she wasn’t alarmed. She could’ve called him, but Rupie hated mobiles. So Margie just shrugged, sipped her Mai Tai, and went back to the pool not knowing he was going to need more medical attention than machine’s could provide.
Moon Bird didn’t think of herself as a hippie, though she most certainly was one. Her husband, Bill “Hulbutta” Haney was one too. Bill’s folks were both full blooded Seminole. In fact his dad was well known for spending his formative years as the voice of the Seminole nation. He protected the Everglades with his life saying they meant more to his people than any amount of money or reservation in Oklahoma ever would. He’d refused to leave when the government came. He staged sit ins, held interviews with the press, and did the things you’d expect from a stalwart, empowered leader.
These actions drew the attention of hippies and activists. Enter Shelley Baker, a young idealist from Wichita, Kansas. Shelley packed up her things then moved herself and her 21 years of perspective to Florida to join Bill’s father and the cause for Seminole freedom.
She met Bill at the same time, changed her name to Moon Bird, for reasons beyond anyone’s understanding, and became a part of the Haney Tribe. She was tall, blond, and seemingly a bit of a ditz. She also cared more about the Everglades than Bill. To get him motivated, she started calling him Halbutta, because it was the name of a legendary chief of the tribe. Bill didn’t care much for the name, but he did care for Shelley.
He also cared about the Everglades more than Shelley thought he did, but he let her think otherwise, because that’s what men do. They downplay everything. Especially anything pertaining to matters of the heart. So Bill suggested a lot of things in passing to Shelley with the hopes she’d pick up on it and do something about it. Their non-profit preservation company, “Everglades Forever” had been his idea, but he planted the seed over dinner one night. Half a bottle of wine later and Shelley “Moon Bird” Baker – Haney had laid out an amazing business plan to save her adopted promised land.
A plan that only needed an angel investor or a billionaire seeking immortality who would give a billion dollars to anyone who could find him the Fountain of Youth.
Ted first heard about the Fountain Contest from his mother. He’d worked a double at Electronics Surplus and didn’t want to hear about her day. Being 28 and still living at home did have its perks, but having to listen to his 60 year old mom complain about his laziness wasn’t one of them. So when he walked in quickly with the plastic bag of five hard shell and five soft shell tacos, he made his way to the fridge for a beer without saying hello to her.
“Teddy you have to come in and watch the news,” she yelled from the living room.
“I don’t want to ma,” he said.
“I didn’t say you should come in here. I said you have to come in here.”
Ted did the thing he did best. He sighed, slammed the door to the fridge holding a bottle between his knuckles, and moved into the shag carpeted living room.
His mom laid on the couch in her night gown. The flat screen TV on the wall framed a nightly newscast. The anchor, a blond haired woman, had a huge smile on her face that didn’t look at all professional. Next to her was a picture of a super old looking dude.
Without talking she turned up the TV.
“After several calls to confirm the legitimacy of this story, Channel 9 can confirm that Remington’s contest is in fact real and not a scam,” said the grinning male newscaster. “For the latest we’re going to our very own, Regina Fernandez who is outside the Remington Estate in Sarasota. Regina,what’s happening down there.”
“Give me the gist.” Ted said, growing impatient.
She muted the TV and looked at him for the first time.
“This billionaire is dying of cancer and he’ll give anyone who finds him the fountain of youth a billion dollars.”
Ted scratched his head covered with brown hair and considered this for one point five seconds.
Ted turned to leave the living room and to get to the business of eating tacos and killing zombies in his bedroom.
“A billion dollars, Theodore,” she said as he left. “Think what you could do that kind of money. The contest starts on Monday.”
“Can’t do it,” he said, not stopping on his way down the hallway. “Got an open shift on Monday.”
He closed his door behind him.
Sue knew her son couldn’t stand many more chemo treatments. Diagnosed with Leukemia, Little Max was a brave boy, but even brave boys have limits.
In the hospital while he was sleeping, Sue read an article in the newspaper that first made her mad and then gave her hope. Remington’s billion could save her son. Little Max had a chance. With a billion dollars, he would have no limits.
Chester Newsome was far richer than anyone else he knew. So when he heard about old man Remington’s strange billion dollar contest he wasn’t swayed by the money. He was swayed by the thought of the water.
Newsome ran Pure Spring Bottling. A fortune 500, his company sold plastic bottles of H2O all over the world. What if that two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen could make people younger? They’d buy more plastic bottles full of it. They’d buy so much, Chester Newsome would be a house hold name. He’d have a golden pool full of magic water.
Ok, so maybe he was swayed by the money.
So they all started the search. There were millions in fact who went looking for the Fountain of Youth.
The dead beat dude and his mom.
The single mother and her child with Leukemia.
The hippie wife and Seminole husband.
The millionaire bottler looking to be a billionaire bottler.
And more. Many more.
News outlets followed the pandemonium. Mobile cities sprang up overnight. Fights broke out. It was madness in Florida… more madness than usual.
Until somebody actually found it and then the world stopped.
It turned out the Fountain of Youth. That mysterious cascade of blessed water. That reservoir of revitalization. That wellspring found by Ponce De Leon wasn’t buried deep in the everglades. It wasn’t hidden in a cave off the coast of Cocoa Beach. It wasn’t even in St. Augustine.
It was in Mary Elizabeth Loomis’s backyared. A retired schoolteacher from New Jersey, Marjorie had known about the rejuvenating properties of her fountain since relocating from Trenton in 1987. She’d been selling the stuff to octogenereans for years and wasn’t about to give it all up without a fight. It turned out that the water didn’t make you look younger, but most certainly made you feel it.
Coincidentally, Mary had stockpiled quite the arsenal of firearms and ex-military types to use them. She announced her claim of the fountain to prevent bloodshed, but bloodshed could not be prevented.
On the 5th day of November, the Fountain War of Minneola began. Everybody showed up too. The U.S. Army demanding the fountain was property of the United States. The Spanish Army declaring they deserved ownership, because one of their most famous explorer’s found it first. And of course, there were all of the mercenaries who all collectively laid siege to Mrs. Loomis’s cozy retirement home.
Her forces kept the others in a stand off, until her favorite gardener Luis got shot in the neck by a soldier of fortune from Ecuador named Pablo Rizon. A ex-military contractor, Pablo had been hired by Pure Spring bottling the night before and had only meant to fire a warning shot above Luis’s head.
The paramedics got to Luis in time, but the whole ordeal pissed Mary off something fierce. She ordered her hired hands to focus their fire on Pure Spring and that’s when things got really bad. Stray bullets hit the US and Spanish armies and they had no choice, but to open fire on everyone else.
Mary got clipped in the shoulder. Pablo, the Ecuadorian gun for hire took two to the belly, and the Fountain War was over 21 minutes after it began.
Shortly thereafter, the US army occupied the grounds. The Spanish apologized profusely and called for diplomats from the UN to smooth things over. Pure Spring’s publicist got out in front of the bad publicity and claimed the whole thing was a promotional stunt for their new 100% biodegradable plastic canteen hence all of the military presence in a retirement community. Marjorie recovered from her wound. Pablo didn’t.
Rupert Remington III died at 11:42 the following morning.