As someone whose brain constantly cranks out ideas, I have a lot of terrible ideas. But amid all the piles of lame dust, there occasionally sit some nuggets of goodness. A lot of times, those ideas are as doomed to die as the bad ideas that fueled their existence. This blog is a dumping ground for some of those good ideas. (You can decide if "good" is good, or if it means "not great.")
• In kindergarten, I created my own entire line of Transformer knockoffs. They were based on real toys I owned (and sometimes real Transformers) and I expanded the line over the next couple of years. Most of the names made no sense, such as Electictwo (the leader who transformed into a red station wagon). Other good guys included Poweracer, Crumbasher (aka Loosecrack), Bluebumble (a blue Beetle), Whirlwind (a knockoff of the real Whirl), Tank-Pong, Blackout, Executioner (a skateboard with that name I called a "Gigantic Vehicle") Tiretread, Karlengine (a butterfly; my mom made up that one) and Digitron (a clock radio — seriously — that actually had that as its name). Bad guys included Loudmotor (a 1983 Ford Fairlane — hush) and the Flower Girls, a group of robot-sized women based on girls on the playground who had girl germs. There were many, many others.
One, however, sticks out in my mind as being uniquely somewhat serviceable. In my imaginary movie, like the real Transformers movie, some robots get reformed into new ones. Tank-Pong became Defender, for example. Bluebumble became a funny car. His name? Laugh Track. Get it?
• In high school, I ran track. And as I so often do, I came up with a movie idea. It was called "Track & Dead." It was about the school's star runner, who drops dead right before crossing the finish line. Because it takes place in the Ghost version of the afterlife, he notices he's dead only after he sails through the finish line and doesn't break it. Then he turns and realizes he's dead. But all is not lost. For one thing, he can still move objects and even drive his car (in a memorable scene whose context I never quite figured out). For the rest of the film, he tries to convince the team of his continued presence so they can win state. (This was before The 6th Man, by the way.) In the two sequels — of course there are sequels — he follows his best running buddy to college, and the buddy learns to pretend he's on his cell phone when talking to his spirit friend. In the third one, the ghost is in Antarctica for some reason (probably because he's still wearing his singlet and that would be funny).
The good idea from this one arises when the freshly dead protagonist spies a track legend, maybe Jesse Owens, standing alone in the bleachers. Our hero approaches him and asks him why they see no other spirits around. Jesse says that they go to the afterlife and that he doesn't know what's there. The runner is scared of the uncertain and wants to stay on Earth. So Jesse tells him:
"Just keep breathing. Inhale, exhale. You don't have to do it when you're dead. It can be a burden. But it's a good burden. It keeps you alive, even in death. It keeps you going in death as certainly as in life. If you've got unfinished business here, keep breathing. Always."
• At seven, I dreamed up the idea of cable radio. Lots of specialized stations at your fingertips. I never worked out the logistics of attaching a cable to your car. Fortunately, the XM satellite people picked up where my research left off.
• When I was 9, I dreamed up a sequel to Robocop where Robocop would have graffiti spray-painted on him and would be chopped to pieces. His LED display would also be a different color. Much of this inspiration came directly from Short Circuit 2. And it all made it into Robocop 2 a year later. I was wrong about one thing: in my version, Robocop got forcibly hooked on "drug water," which made society absolutely crazy at the cost of its hopes and dreams. In the real version, the drug is Nuke and it's a human cop who's addicted.
• I once had a dream about a sequel to Spice World where the bus blows up in the first shot and they have to find new Spice Girls, leading to all-new zany hijinks. OK, that idea wasn't so good.
• I think there should be a football league where, once per half, a team can throw two forward passes in a single play. Think of the strategy involved, not to mention how it would keep cornerbacks and safeties on their toes. Though I suspect there'd be some ambiguous rulings and it would swiftly go the way of New Coke and Qwikster.
• Glenn Beck should work the midnight shift at a fully automated dubstep radio station in rural Manitoba. My best idea yet.
• In fourth grade, I designed a car called the Slike 73,000 (an upgrade to the Slike 72,000, which was remote-controlled) that had unreal brake power. Basically, easing off the accelerator pedal was the same as a typical application of the brake, and the brake pedal boosted the stopping power. I hear this is a real technology now. As for a real car looking like a giant, majestic eagle, well, not so much.
• I considered having a public-access TV show when I was a teenager. The good idea was that I didn't do it. But if you're thinking of using the UB40 song "Chronic" for your own show's theme song, don't. I called it 19 years ago and there's still hope for me yet.