Sunday, March 31, 2013

Second Chance

“Easter is very important to me. It’s a second chance.”—Reba McEntire

I was doing my weekly shopping trek through the neighborhood yesterday when I spotted a cat in a local real estate office taking in the afternoon sun.

This feline was really loving the rays. He—or she--sat on the other side of a glass door in the sphinx position with his eyes closed and his mind completely focused on savoring this bright spring day like it was a boatload of fresh tuna.

Now there’s someone who really appreciates the little things in life, I thought as I lugged my groceries down Fifth Avenue.

Today is Easter Sunday, a day when we should appreciate all the beautiful things in life both big and small. I’ve been in something of a funk for the last week so this is a good time to renew and reclaim everything I hold dear.

I felt like I was in a rut with my writing and I got so low that I seriously thought about ditching the whole fiction writing fantasy.

Given my age and lack of success thus far I was having a hard time convincing myself that it was worth the effort to writing anything outside of a shopping list. What’s the point of all this work when I’ve got so little to show for it?

Then I remembered that the last time I was in this treacherous state of mind I had written a commandment to myself in my journal: You have not earned the right to quit!

To be honest, I’ve never done the starving artist routine. I’ve never lived in a hovel while working on my masterpiece, never sacrificed whole sections of my life the way some artists and writers have done over the centuries. I’ve always had one foot safely placed in the workday world while I toiled away at my craft in my free time.

If I’m going to surrender my dreams so easily, I probably have no business dreaming in the first place.

Action is the best way to beat a bad attitude, so I searched online for small publishing houses that might be interested in new talent.

I found an outfit in California that was—glory hallelujah!-- accepting manuscripts from writers without agents.

Perfect, I thought, I’ll shoot them an email.

But there was one problem. These people actually want prospective authors to snail mail a hard copy of their manuscript out to the left coast. Funny, I could’ve sworn the 19th Century was over…

Sign, Sealed, Delivered

I haven’t mailed out my work in years and I dreaded the dreary process of printing out labels and letters and hauling the thing down to the post office where I’d stand in line—as opposed to being online—and then wrestle with some allegedly civil servant about how I should send my package.

Fortunately I had a print-out of the manuscript from a previous sale attempt that had gone nowhere and I decided to apply myself to getting the damn thing together.

This turned out to be a swift pain in the hindquarters. I’m computer hopeless, so I had to put my printer in a headlock before I got all the necessary materials ready to go. But I did it.

I can’t afford to blow a week day afternoon at the post office, so I went to a local UPS store on Saturday and entrusted my work to a delightful young saleswoman behind the counter.

She found the perfect-sized box and when I placed my massive manuscript inside the cardboard accommodations her eyes widened in astonishment.

“You wrote a book?” she asked excitedly.

“Why, yes,” I responded, as if I knocked out novels every week. “It’s a crime novel. I’m from Brooklyn and I’m half-Italian so I guess that’s no surprise. Wish me luck.”

We chatted some more and then I paid my bill, thanked the young lady for her help, and made for the door. I was just about to step out into the world when she called out to me.

“Good luck!”

Oh, my goodness, the two words were enough to lift me straight up into the air. And it felt gratifying to do something about my situation instead of just complaining all the time.

I know the odds of getting published or produced are stacked decidedly against me and that there’s a very good chance this company in California will politely tell me to use my manuscript for a doorstop. There’s nothing I can do about that.

All I can do is keep writing, sending stuff out, and praying that someone out there will finally say yes.

The only time you earn the right to quit is when you quit breathing.

I worked out onto the street with a renewed sense of purpose. I had my confidence back and I felt happier than a cat sitting in the sun.

Happy Easter.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rant Farm

I was standing on Broadway near Rector Street on Thursday night waiting for an overdue bus when I heard someone shouting.

Hostile voices are such a part of life in New York that you need a pretty severe set of pipes to get anyone’s attention and whoever was behind this particular commotion had wind power to spare.

It took a few seconds for the gibberish to gel into language, but all at once the words came into sudden and brutal clarity.

“Fuck you!”

This might be a traffic dispute. The streets downtown are chronically congested and rush hour in this town could easily provide the backdrop for a French Connection reboot.

Or maybe two losers had bumped into each other on the sidewalk and were now pathetically standing their ground in a nose-to-nose effort to prove who was the bigger idiot. I’ve seen this kind of thing before and I would gladly award them both the top prize.

Whatever it was, I thought, it’ll blow over in a few seconds and we’ll return to our regularly scheduled cacophony.

“Fuck you!”

Then again, I might be wrong.

The yelling was getting louder; the offending party was getting closer. Given my foul mood, the voice could have been coming from my mind.

I was physically tired and emotionally drained and I just wanted to get the hell home. My bus, however, had apparently decided to go to Brooklyn via Toronto and so I stood with an ever-growing chorus line of irate people watching every conceivable type of motorized transport pass by except the one we wanted to see.

“Fuck you!”

Yes, exactly.

The shouting was extremely loud and incredibly close now and I thought the perpetrator might be a deranged homeless man in rags defiantly shaking his bag of cans at a heartless world.

However, when I looked across the street at the source of the swearing I saw a clean-shaven middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie and a tan overcoat. He smiled broadly as he waved at the people on the street.

“Fuck you!” He cheerily shouted. “Fuck you!”

Hold on a minute. Ranting rejects are supposed to dress the part—torn clothing, wild hair, a body in serious need of a diligent delousing. This man did not begin to fit the profile.

He looked like he could have held a respectable position at any one of the thousands of companies in the vicinity. But he sure didn’t sound that way.

“Fuck you!”

And he appeared to be so happy. He wasn’t doing the enraged loner shtick, none of the Travis Bickle “you-talking-to-me” madness. He grinned and waved like a politician greeting his constituents on Election Day.

“Fuck you!”

Is This Straitjacket Taken?

He didn’t seem drunk or high, or particularly dangerous. But that’s easy for me to say since I was safely positioned on the other side of Broadway. I noticed that anyone who came in contact with the cursing man gave him a wide berth.

History has taught us that some of the vilest villains in creation were once considered harmless—until the shooting started.

This man’s mind might have just freshly snapped. Maybe he had gotten laid off from his job after decades of loyal service and decided to share his displeasure with the world.

Perhaps he had misplaced his medication. Or it could be that the psychos are dressing better lately because, as we all know, every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharped dress loon.

The guy disappeared down the street, happily hurling F-bombs like they were Mardi Gras beads, and I went back to hyperextending my neck in hopes of spotting my bus.

Just another day in New York, I thought. Whatever his story was, that nutbag was out of my life. But I had called that one wrong.

My bus showed up, but it was so full of people that I decided to wait for the next one. The weather wasn’t too harsh and I absolutely refuse to pay six bucks for a stand-up commute. After all this misery, I deserve to sit down for the ride home.

And then I heard a familiar voice.

“Fuck you!”

I looked across the street and there he was again, coming up Broadway, the Obscene Machine himself, making a return engagement. He was like a duck in a shooting gallery or a soldier on patrol, merrily swearing at one and all.

I’m sure this man is a tortured soul with a whole closet full of problems, but he looked strangely liberated as he casually crushed society’s rules of behavior.

The last I saw of the foul-mouthed fellow he was briskly heading uptown. I was hoping he would run into my bus driver and give him a piece of my mind.

When the second bus finally arrived, I managed to get a seat and I even half-heartedly offered it to a woman who was standing right over me.

I have to confess here and now that I was fervently praying to all the commuting deities that she wouldn’t take me up on my pathetic proposal and she must have seen the fear in my eyes.

“No, that’s okay,” she said. “I sit down all day.”

So do I, lady, but that didn’t stop me from nailing my rear end to the first available chair.

It turned out this woman knew the bus driver and he told her that everything was fouled up because an earlier bus had gotten into an accident.

“Was anyone hurt?” the woman earnestly inquired.

“No,” the driver replied. “But you’re the first person who asked me that. Everybody else just complains that there’s no seats.”

I sunk deeper into the cushion I had so desperately craved. Was I such a terrible person for wanting to get home at a decent hour and ride in relative comfort?

I like to think that I have nothing in common with that ranting man on Broadway, but sometimes I look at myself and I see how angry and impatient I get and I have to wonder. There’s nothing liberating about rage. It is a heavy, fearsome chain that comes straight out of your mind.

And that’s how you’ll end up if you don’t get your anger in check—out of your mind. Then you’ll be the one waltzing down the street, terrorizing tired office workers with crazed cries of “fuck you!

That’s one bus I don’t want to ride.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

E Pluribus Shoot ‘Em

When I was a kid I remember playing a game with my friends that we called “hide-and-gun-seek.”

It was similar to the traditional children's game, only we were all packing toy guns and when we found whoever was “it” we filled him full of imaginary bullets.

At that time it seemed perfectly normal to pretend to kill each other. Toy guns were some of my favorite Christmas and birthday gifts when I was growing up. Of course, back then when we pulled the trigger nobody actually died.

Things are different now. Kids commit mass murder on their computers and the gunfire out on the streets is all too real.

The non-stop slaughter is giving me nightmares—literally. I actually dreamed the other night that I was in the middle of a mass shooting.

Given the number of shootings and the ever-increasing body count, it’s a wonder I don’t have bullet-filled dreams every night.

Nearly 2,500 people have died in America in gun-related incidents since the since the Sandy Hook massacre in December, according to the Huffington Post.

One of the latest atrocities happened in Georgia on Friday when two teenagers jumped a woman and her 13-month old son and demanded money.

“Do you want me to kill your baby?” the young gunman reportedly said before shooting the child in the head.

In my nightmare, I had gone to a school gymnasium in some unknown location to attend a memorial event for—irony alert—victims of an earlier mass shooting. Even my nightmares have nightmares.

The room was filled with people and as I stood there I heard some kind of commotion coming from the other side of the gym. I looked over and saw an African-American man in a wheelchair holding a gun on two police officers.

The cops had their hands straight up in the air and they were motionless, like statues. I remember thinking why can’t they do something? The guy’s in a wheelchair, for Christ’s sake, one of you should be able to grab him.

But the cops didn’t move, didn’t even blink. And then the man in the wheelchair started firing.

I heard people screaming and I tried to find cover, but I was stranded in the middle of this vast room.

Target Practice

I was actually hiding behind other people to keep from getting killed. I hated myself for my cowardice, but I didn’t want to die.

Bodies were hitting the floor, the gunman kept shooting and shooting and I had nowhere to run. That's when I woke up.

Psychiatrists say that you play every role in your dreams. So if you have a nightmare where you’re being chased by a monster, you are not just yourself; you are also the monster.

That would mean that not only was I a potential target in my nightmare, but the helpless cops, the other victims, and even the wheelchair-bound gunman.

I’m trying to decipher the meaning of the all this, particularly the figure in the wheelchair. I’ve had trouble with my back and maybe this, combined with my various emotional issues, sparked my subconscious to take away my legs.

I don’t know why the killer was black, when in reality the majority of mass shooters are white. I suppose this detail leaves me open to accusations of racism, but I can only tell what happened in the dream. If you think this makes me a bigot, there’s not much I can do to stop you.

I have to confess that there is a very dark part of my being that wants to get a gun of my own, so that when the lead starts flying in a movie theater, a shopping mall, or a high school gymnasium, I’ll have something like a fighting chance.

The realist in me knows that I probably shouldn’t own a gun. My problems with anger and depression could lead to one kind of disaster or another.

A handgun wouldn’t do much good against these monstrous assault rifles that seem so popular lately and do we want to live in a world where each and every person is carrying a gun?

The NRA says that more guns will make us safer, but it sounds to me like we’re lighting matches in a fireworks factory. Soon or later something is going to go off.

I feel like I and all of my loved ones are sitting ducks waiting for my bad dream to turn into harsh reality.

We’re all living in a nightmare, only we can’t wake up.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Show Down Below

I’ve become something of a transit snob lately.

After years of suffering through the roar and the filth of the subways, I decided that riding the express bus is the only way to commute.

Instead being shoved and abused by the crush of humanity for a grueling subterranean trip, I now travel above ground, sit in a comfortable chair and watch the world roll by my window.

It’s more expensive, but I’ve decided that I’m worth it; and, more importantly I’ve grown accustomed to riding to work in relative comfort, while avoiding the subway’s vermin, religious psychos, and panoply of plagues that would make a germ warfare specialist scream.

Riding the bus is civilized, comfortable, and you don’t have to deal with all that railroad riff-raff. I’ve gotten such an attitude that I can easily picture myself wearing a top hat and monocle as I cruise through town. Oh, I say, Dudley, try not to hit too many potholes!

I had a doctor’s appointment on Friday near Union Square, which was only a short distance from my office in lower Manhattan. However, in order to get there I would have to travel by--eww!—subway.

I wasn’t sure if I could do this. The subway is dark and noisy and it’s filled with rats and bedbugs and freaks, oh my!

I descended the steps at the Cortland Street station and tried to blend in with the crowd. I wondered if people would be able to tell that I was slumming and confront me right there on the platform. So you thought you were too good for us, eh?

No one seemed to notice me and as I got on the uptown R train I realized that there’s one thing the subways have that you can’t get on the express bus: entertainment. And I got a full revue on Friday, like the Ed Sullivan Show on wheels.

The show started with the conductor making an ominous announcement over the PA system.
“Ladies and gentleman,” he intone, “there are two groups of people on this train who want your money…”

Really? And who exactly wants my money? Are we talking about aluminum siding salesmen or Jesse James-style bandits with kerchiefs over their faces?

Right Here On Our Stage...

Whoever they were, they’d have to line up behind the IRS and the cable company to get the remaining crumbs of my paycheck.

While the conductor was giving his spiel, a trio of break-dancers entered the car.

“He makes us sound like criminals,” said a young woman who seemed be the group’s leader.
“We don’t care about money, we just want to perform and bridge the gap between cultures. If you want to give us money, fine.”

The group proceeded to put on a spirited, athletic show in this tight little spot right in front of me. They spun around on the floor, popped their limbs in robotic movements, and the young woman finished off with a twirling finale on the pole inches from my head.

I understand the conductor’s concern, but young dancers are the least of my worries when I ride the subway. Aggressive panhandlers, yes, but these people were actually doing something as opposed to just putting their hands out or shaking a cup under my nose.

I threw a dollar into their bucket and as they walked by the conductor announced that Union Square—my stop—was coming up next.

That’s strange, I thought, I could’ve sworn we just left Prince Street, and even I still remember that the next stop is--

“I’m sorry,” the conductor quickly corrected himself. “Eighth Street will be the next stop. My bad.”

“Did you hear him?” the young woman crowed to one of her partners. “He said ‘my bad’!”

“He should pay attention to his job.”

The break-dancers moved on, but the show wasn’t over. The second they exited from one end of the car, a group of older African American men came in through the opposite end and started singing “My Girl.”

I’ve seen their guys before and they’re pretty good, certainly worth another dollar.

This was quite a ride. Break-dancing, Motown singers-- perhaps a ventriloquist or a few animal acts would be coming my way. But my stop came up and I had to get off the train, which was just as well, since I running out of singles.

I got through the doctor’s appointment and grabbed the express bus at 13th Street. It must’ve been the start of the driver’s run because there were no other people on board. I had the entire bus to myself, or at least until the next stop.

I took a seat by the window and resumed my superior attitude. Imaginary top hat and monocle firmly in place, I looked out at the teeming masses as they muddled through the streets. Home, Dudley, and be quick about it!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tres Misérables

If Victor Hugo was right when he said “it is by suffering that human beings become angels” then somebody owes me a deluxe set of wings.

My tragic tale begins in Los Angeles where my sister and I were visiting our Uncle Joe and his wife. One rainy afternoon we decided to go to a local theater and take in a showing of “Les Misérables."

I am a movie fanatic, but I have not gone to the theater in ages as I am fed up with the losers who pollute the multiplexes with their churlish behavior. If I want to see baboons behaving badly I’ll go to the zoo.

But for some reason I felt hopeful this time out. Maybe my streak of cinematic bad luck had finally come to an end and I would actually sit amongst well-bred humans for a change.

I had never seen “Les Misérables” during its lengthy Broadway run, and since the film was up for several Academy Awards, here was a chance to see what all the excitement was about.

Things went smoothly at first. In fact, it looked for the longest time like the four of us would actually have the theater to ourselves.

Then people started to slowly trickle in. It would’ve been nice to have a private screening, of course, but that’s a little too much to ask—even for a misanthrope like yours truly. And how bad could it possibly get with such a small audience?

Well, I was about to find out…

The insanity started off slowly. As the house lights dimmed, the only obnoxious noises came from the seemingly endless stream of coming attractions for movies that I wouldn’t watch if I were doing twenty-to-life at San Quentin.

Loud, stupid, and pointless appeared to be the three things all of these films had in common.

The movie finally started and I was honestly glad I was seeing it in a theater. “Les Misérables” looks great on the big screen. I loved the music, the sets, and the characters and I was really getting into the story of oppression, poverty, and redemption that is both beautiful and timeless.

Unfortunately nobody explained that to the schmucks sitting around us.

I started hearing voices floating out of the darkness, the nonstop chatter of idiots who have absolutely nothing to say.

Then some dumbass with a smartphone started taking pictures. Presumably he was shooting photos of the screen, though why I don’t know. Perhaps he wanted the Internet to know that, hey, look, I’m at the movies!

All I can tell you is that periodically the flash would go off and completely ruin whatever scene we were watching.

I Dreamed A Dream...

This was beyond distracting. After the Aurora movie massacre, bursts of bright light in a dark theater are the last thing in the world I want to see.

Is it the machines that make people so stupid? The I-phones, the I-pads and the I-don’t-know-what-else that makes people so insensitive to those around them?

Seeing a movie with an intelligent, respectful audience can be a great experience, but unfortunately, it seems like it is also an impossible one.

And this is such a great story. If only these throwbacks in the theater could see that world of “Les Miserables” is sadly not that far from our own.

You may be asking yourself why didn’t I complain. How come I didn’t give these vulgar louts a piece of my mind, put them in their place and give them what for?

Why? Because I’m gutless, that’s why. Because I don’t want to start a scene, I’d rather not get punched or stabbed by some psycho, and I can’t seem to speak up for myself, so I just end up fuming in silence.

And I don’t know if it would’ve done much good even if I had opened my yap.

This kind of behavior just continues the running theme of our society where I see people acting in some abominable fashion and I think to myself—you have to be told not to do that? You didn’t know that it was wrong to do whatever the hell it is you’re doing?

By the time the movie was over I was ready to storm the barricades myself. I was so angry that I refused to throw out my empty soda cup, an act of passive aggressive idiocy for which my sister rightly chided me.

But I had to do something. I could not let this atrocity go unanswered. I was not going to pay good money for this kind of abuse.

So I marched up to the young man sitting behind the ticket counter and told him to fetch the manager.

“What is this about?” he rightfully asked.

“It’s about a terrible experience we just had in his theater,” I said in a tone that was way out of line.

The manager quickly came out to see us, I tried to calm down and explain why I was so furious. But even as I spoke I had to wonder what could this man do about the two-legged vermin that infested his cinema. He’s a theater manager, not an animal trainer.

We got our money back, I apologized for my outburst—I hate cowards who abuse the hired help just because they can—and we got the hell out of there. I felt some slight sense of satisfaction in getting the refund, but I would’ve greatly preferred seeing the damn movie in peace.

This experience has piqued my interest in the classic novel and increased my contempt for the movie-going public.

I doubt I’ll be going to the cinema anytime soon but in the meantime, I bought a copy of Les Misérables to read, ordered the movie’s soundtrack from Amazon, booked the DVD on my Netflix wish list and I thinking of flying to Paris to visit Victor Hugo’s grave.

Vive la France!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Brilliant Disguise

“We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”-- Andre Berthiaume

My mother always had this fascination with masks.

Whenever we went to the Brooklyn Museum, she always made sure to visit the African mask collection. She loved ceramics and she made masks out of clay, one of which I managed to keep when we cleaned out our parents’ house nearly two years ago.

Unfortunately, like a lot of the things I took out of that place, I had no idea what I had done with the mask after I moved into my new apartment. It could be in any one of several boxes, I thought, and most likely buried beneath a ton of other stuff.

I got to thinking about that mask after I attended a Lunar New Year celebration at the Huntington Library, one of my favorite sites in the L.A. area.

My sister, my cousin and I looked over the list of events, which included music, martial arts and gymnastics, and something called "bian lian" or face changing.

I had no idea what this was and, to be honest, I wasn’t particularly interested—I really wanted to see the kung fu dudes—but the face changing demonstration was close by and just about to start, so I figured, what the hell?

What the hell indeed. Bian lian is an ancient Chinese dramatic art where the performers change brightly colored masks in rapid-fire succession. The artist, Wei Qi Zhong, put on a show that was somewhere between dance and magic, which is a good place to be.

He came out wearing one exotic mask and it seemed like every time he made a move, he was wearing a completely different and equally outlandish disguise.

At one point he merely looked over his shoulder and turned back to the audience to reveal yet another mask. I don’t know how he did it and what’s more, I don’t want to know.

All Shall Not Be Revealed

In this hyper-connected age of instant and predominantly useless information it’s nice to have a little mystery in your life. And nothing on the Internet or television will ever match the excitement of a live performance.

The show lasted about five minutes with the artist gradually revealing more and more of his face until we all saw what he really looked like. It was exhilarating.

I only wish my mom could have been there because I know she would’ve had a great time, given her love for masks.

And that’s when I started thinking about the mask she had made so many years ago. What had I done with it?

My apartment isn’t that big and I knew it had to be around some place. I set aside some time one afternoon and vowed I’d keep looking until I found it.

Then I looked down on my bureau and there was the mask, looking back at me.

I must have unpacked it when I first moved in and since the mask is nearly the same shade of brown as my bureau, it just sort of blended in with its surroundings.

A chill went through me when I held that mask and thought of my mother’s hands taking a lump of clay and bringing it to vibrant life.

It felt strange touching the back, feeling the indentations she had made with her fingers. It was like I was holding her hand.

My mother was a housewife with four children to take care of, but she had a creative side as well and she revealed a very important part of herself by making this mask.

I moved my mother’s mask out to a white table in my living room where it can be easily seen by anyone who comes to my home.

And when they do, I will proudly say that my mother made that.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Winter's Tone

This was a day that only soup could heal.

Winter will not go without a fight and the grumpy old man proved that point today by dumping a few inches of snow on our fair city just to show us all who’s still in charge.

I was equally ornery, though, and elected not to wear my boots. I had worn them once already this week in response to what turned out to be a false alarm, so I decided that I wouldn’t clunk around the office all day again in those clodhoppers despite the obvious presence of snow right outside my door.

I spent a good part of the day at work in damp socks thinking about my lonely boots sitting in a closet back home with nothing to do.

Snow always looks great when you’re inside. I loved being outside in the snow when I was a kid, but that fascination has faded with age.

I got a nice, warm view of the inclement weather during a meeting at my supervisor’s office this morning.

I looked down Broadway and saw everything slowing down, as the snow forced this place of ceaseless noise and endless activity to become as still as a country lane.

There was a flash coming from inside the bowels of the MTA construction project across the street and I looked over for a quick peek.

A welder was fusing two various parts of the vast structure together and the only sign of his presence were the sudden bursts of sparks flaring up in the dark interior. I couldn’t help thinking how different this person’s life was from mine.

I worked inside an office all day in front of a computer while this man—or woman--works outside in all kinds of weather wielding fire.

Almost Done

His ancestors erected the structure I inhabit most days of the week and now he’s helping add another piece to this city’s constantly changing landscape.

I’ve got so little in common with him and yet I felt I could reach out across the street and shake his hand.

I stayed in the office all day and the only exercise I got was climbing the stairs to the next floor to use the men’s room. One of the toilets backed up in my usual place and gallons of unsavory water spread out over the floor.

It looked like the building had been torpedoed by a phantom U-boat, and I had to fight the urge to shout, “women and children first!”

The sun decided to make a late day appearance just to give us some hope that spring would soon be here. But I still wasn’t free of the dampness.

When I got sat down on the bus for the ride home I discovered all too late that the seat was soaking wet.

Even though the precipitation had ceased outside, water was somehow leaking into the bus and the only thing slowing it down was a balled up paper towel that was quickly turning to pulp.

I forgot about my boots and started thinking of a scuba suit. Too bad that welder wasn’t around. I could’ve gotten him to fix the leak.

We’re supposed to get warmer weather for the next week, but I suspect we’re not quite down with winter yet. It’s all right, though. I know we will be soon enough.

Now it’s time for soup.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Stalk of the Town

Once upon a time I thought Hollywood didn’t know jack about fairy tales.

You’re talking to someone who suffered through “Snow White and the Huntsman” and stared in dyspeptic disbelief at the commercials for the extraordinary rendition of “Hansel and Gretel.”

Jack the Giant Slayer,” which debuted as this weekend’s top film, continues the trend of updating fairy tales.

I won’t comment on a film I haven’t seen, but earlier attempts at modernizing these classics only managed to magically turn our most beloved children’s stories into stinking heaps of dragon dung.

To be fair, there are respectable names attached to “Jack the Giant Slayer.” The movie is directed by Bryan Singer, the filmmaker who gave us “The Usual Suspects,” one of my all-time favorites, and the cast includes Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, and Bill Nighy.

That's several tons of talent right there and I hope the film uses them well.

The Village Voice said this new jack movie has “a sure sense of pacing and knows when to make a graceful exit.” However, the New York Daily News declared that the film was “big and loud and so bland it kinda feels like we’ve been sold a bill of goods.”

I used to think that fairy tales didn’t need to be modernized, updated, rebooted, reinterpreted or reinvented. Leave them the hell alone, I always thought. They’ve been around so long for a reason.

Here’s an idea: write something original. Shakespeare based several of his plays on earlier works, but he had one huge advantage over today’s screenwriters—he was Shakespeare.

Who's Been Shooting With My Gun?

But after looking at all the money being spent on these cranked up classics, I’ve decided I deserve my own pot of gold.

I’m going to tap into my inner ogre, cast my own spurious spell over “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and give this tired old tale a reboot right in the keester.

Ladies, gentlemen, and elves, I give you “Goldie—Locked and Loaded.”

In this version, adorable little Goldilocks has been mutated into Goldie, a gun-toting kung fu expert with an obnoxious knack for breaking into houses, a strong hankering for porridge, and a serious case of narcolepsy.

Goldie will go toe-to-paw with a clan of bad news bears who ate her parents and turned her into an avenging orphan.

The climax will be a stunning splatter fest with Goldie displaying both her marksmanship and her martial arts skills.

See Goldie jump through the air in slow motion while firing two .45s. Watch in amazement as all three bears pull the same stunt. Shake your head in disgust when, despite all those bullets, nobody hits a goddamn thing.

After knocking off Bloody Mama Bear and “Babyface” Bear, Goldie will finally square off against the big guy, the Poppa di tutti Poppa, for a bone-cracking duel to the death.

Goldie will get scratched up, of course—she is fighting a bear after all—but she’ll clobber the ursine usurper with a super slow flying spin kick that’ll crack Poppa’s skull like a week-old pumpkin.

The film will close with Goldie and some handsome boy toy having a very happy ending on a bearskin rug.

That’ll be $3 million, please.