Haven’t We Seen this One Before?

Work and play aren’t opposites, far from it. Here’s a story about how it’s sometimes hard to see the difference between a task and a pastime.

On the recent Memorial Day weekend, my “honey-do” list included fetching our fluffy puppy from the groomer; he’d been overdue for his seasonal trim. Walk-ins flooded the salon because Fido needed to look his best for the backyard barbecue. In the waiting room, I flipped through the day-old newspaper weekend section where I noticed that Saw VI was showing at the second run theaters. (Golly, however had I failed to catch Saw I-V?) Do movie producers, the princes of the “creative class,” really run out of ideas so easily? I went back to drumming my fingers.

It was clear I was going to be cooling my jets for some time, so I helped myself to the courtesy pen that the heartworm pill company had so thoughtfully provided and begged from the receptionist a notepad picturing a dapper Schnauzer under the motto “We cut your Mutts!” Having admired the anonymous scribblers who could pack a 97-minute experience into one sentence, I thought I’d try my hand at inventing fake movie listings.

Since we’re thinking about play and work, here I should confess that my day job sometimes has me writing labels for exhibits—short grabby sentences packed with information. In their way, exhibit labels aren’t so far from movie listings. But hang on before you start thinking what a drudge this guy must be, here’s the playful part, I made this a game by following one rule: each of these new films would be a sequel to two different movies—a hybrid.

In the time it took to present Charlie the Dog, shorn to the skin and looking both lamb-like and sheepish (haircuts embarrass this one), under the heading “Double Sequels” I’d managed to scribble out half-a-dozen titles for comedies, action flicks, science-fiction movies, and costume dramas.

  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Max. A group of comedians seeks a buried treasure in post-apocalypse Australia.
  • Around the World in Eighty Subs. Zany American and Soviet submarine commanders compete to win a prize for circumnavigating the globe underwater.
  • Planet of the Abes. A laboratory chimp’s space capsule lands on a parallel earth where Abraham Lincoln and his clone are co-presidents of Israel.
  • Arsenic and Old Mace. An aging detective falls in love with the sisters who euthanized his ex-partner.
  • Please Don’t Eat Miss Daisy. An efficiency expert hires a driver who was raised by bears.
  • The Nutty Successor. A magician brews a potion that makes him look exactly like the king’s dashing half-brother.

Could any of these be worse than Saw VII?

Arsenic and Old Lace Mad World

Of course I had some fun drawing up the list, and some more fun pretending to cast the films with my favorite actors. (Jeff Goldblum would make a great Abe Lincoln.) Since I am not an actor, I won’t be casting myself in these films sure to become American classics (ahem), but since the list now appears on the museum’s Web site as part of this blog, I will be checking with my finance office to see if I should add the hour spent on this to my timesheet. See, at the end of the day there isn’t such a difference between work and play.