The Twilight Zone – Season 2 Episode 29 – The Obsolete Man

The Twilight Zone has become one of those pop culture phenomenon that has well surpassed its original expectations. Started in the early 60’s as an anthology show that would explore sci-fi, fantasy, horror and mash those together each week, it has lived on into movies, multiple revivals, and numerous similar shows.

The Twilight Zone has always been one of my favorite shows. Each episode a different story and each story unique and interesting. Most were thought provoking and warranted discussion. You couldn’t watch an episode without seeing some reflection and meaning of life. Sure, it may have been about aliens visiting, but their actions spotlighted humans – our strengths and our foibles.

One episode has great meaning for today’s author. It is set in a futuristic society where people are eliminated when they become obsolete. What determines if you are obsolete? Why a council, of course.

Now, our society has seen many professions become obsolete. I don’t take my transportation to a blacksmith to get shoed. I don’t call the operator to connect me to the other party I wish to speak to. I no longer wave to the caboose man as the train chugs by. Many professions have disappeared, but we haven’t taken it to extremes of killing anyone with that now obsolete skill.

This episode deals with one man’s who is now obsolete. His profession? Librarian. They want to get rid of him because being a librarian is a useless skill in this futuristic world.

here’s a snippet:

“… no purpose here, no meaning.”

“I am a human being.”

“You’re a librarian, Mr. Wordsworth.”

Note the spot on name. 🙂 Anyway, this man is fighting for his life because books and librarians have no meaning in their future culture. This was written 60 years ago. And I feel once again, books and librarians appear to be in trouble.

People don’t have time for books. Books take too much to read. Why spend the time when you can easily read 20 posts in a couple minutes. But I ask – what enriches your life the most? Does the next meme really make your life better?

Now, I realize that people do find enjoyment in posts and posts connect people in ways that books may not. But, posts are also quickly slurped down and just as quickly forgotten. There isn’t the connection that is felt when reading about your favorite characters.

When I read Dragonlance, I was wounded when Flint died. How could such a thing happen. In the story, Tasslehoff is affected – something unheard of in a Kender – and I knew what he went through.

What about the horror Danny felt when his father chased him with the roque mallet? The hotel had been toying with him for months, but the feeling of fear leapt from the page to the point I can still feel it decades later.

These feelings and memories aren’t part of the quick post. True, there may be more posts and you can read more each day, but I believe we are missing out on a great joy of life we get when we spend time with the long form written word.

Science fiction has regularly pointed out problems in our society. One of my favorite examples is the original Star Trek episode “Let that be your last battlefield.” Again, this story if from the 60’s.

The Enterprise crew beams aboard someone that stole a shuttle. This person is completely black on one side of their body and completely white on the other side of their body. Shortly, they beam another individual aboard who appears to be identical. Oh no. True, this person is also white on one side and black on another, but they are opposite sides. To the crew, these two people seem to be the same, yet to them, they are completely different. In the end – the two beings hate each other so much that they find their planet destroyed itself because of that hate.

Hm, sounds like this story could have been written in 2020, don’t you think? Or do you not see the very un-subtle point? That is the joy of sci-fi.

Back to our librarian stuck in the Twilight Zone. I won’t give it away, but let’s say that he uses words from a book to make his point. You should watch the episode.

While we’re talking Twilight Zone, check out Season 1 Episode 8 – Time Enough at Last. Wouldn’t we all like to have more than enough time to read everything we’ve always wanted?


Call me Scrooge

Every year at Christmas, I try to read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Not only is it a ghost story, but it’s a great message and has a meaning that I think we all understand. The change and redemption of someone. It’s a fantastic book that lets you travel to an older time, a London that no longer exists, when times were different and the people had different lives than ours today.

I was thinking, though, of how it’s been warped in our culture. When we know someone that doesn’t celebrate Christmas or is grumpy about the holiday season or they are tight with their money – we call them a Scrooge.

That’s a grave injustice to the wonderful story that Mr. Dickens wrote. The only part that people focus on is the beginning and how Scrooge was to start with. Our view of the story gets a bit skewed that way.

It should be an honor to be called Scrooge. This man was so set in his ways and his thinking that he didn’t realize what he was missing or how he was making not only his own life but other’s lives miserable. But someone saw something deep down in Scrooge’s soul and gave him a chance to make amends, to enrich his own life and the lives of those around him.

For his part, Scrooge wasn’t so far gone that he ignored it or refused to change. He saw what he had become and how he could do things differently. He saw how much he affected other’s lives and could choose to make them better instead of worse.

And he made that difference. He made that change with himself and thereby he changed the world around him. He made other people’s lives better.

There is a bit at the end that I think is super-important and something that is very relevant to today. This is from the end:

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this , for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed that was quite enough or him.”

That could have been written today. So, please, if you feel like it, call me Scrooge. I would be honored.

Events Misc

Justice League movie – story fail

Have you seen the Justice League movie? If you haven’t, it’s pretty good, you should check it out. It’s supposed to be DC’s answer to the Marvel multi-movie universe. That’s a whole different discussion and not what I want to bring up today.

In the movie, Batman gathers Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg to take on this threat to the world. The climax of the movie sees the team battling flying, demon insects while trying to stop the big, bad guy. OK, so far, so good. (Warning: there’s a bit of spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go see it before reading.)

When this big, bad guy shows up, another dimension starts intruding on our world. Essentially a portal opens up and the demon bugs come out and the portal is getting bigger. When the portal opened, it was right in the middle of this town. Of course, most of the people, being smart, bug (ha ha) out and get away as fast as they can. That is, except for one family.

This guy boards up his windows to keep the bugs out and he’s ready to fight with his shotgun. His little girl, the star of this little scene, is scared and hiding under the table. After listening to the bugs slam into their house, she decides to crawl over to a cabinet. Reaching inside she pulls out — bug spay! I loved it. This little girl isn’t going to be afraid, she will fight the bugs and gets the best weapon she can think of.

Fast forward: The Justice League shows up and is fighting the bugs. The father, realizing he can’t fight them, takes the opportunity to skeddaddle. He loads the family up in the pickup truck and gets out. Except it isn’t that easy. The portal is getting bigger and about the engulf their truck and the bugs are swarming and will be attacking the family, and the little girl, riding in the back. Of course, there are superheroes to save the day, and the Flash uses his super speed to move the truck, and family, far down the road out of danger.

Right here is the missed opportunity. Flash tells them bye, and leaves. Ugh, ball dropped. Here’s what really should have happened. As he’s about to leave, the little girl tugs his sleeve and hands him the bug spray.

That’s it. Nothing super big or spectacular, but it’s exactly what was needed. They had this whole arc with the little girl and her family. They are trapped and she’s afraid, yet she decides to fight back and does what she can. Now, there are super people that will take care of things, yet, she wants to help and gives him her can of bug spray. She doesn’t need it. Regardless of the abilities they have, she is helping him and giving him the only thing she can, not only as thanks but because she knows they will need all the help they can get.

Even better would have been as the Flash is running around, he actually gets attacked by a group of bugs and pulls out the bug spray and blasts them, causing them to all fly away, maybe some fly into trees or buildings or whatever. He then smiles and looks at the can. That, to me, would have been perfect and was really missed. They could have finished that little sub-plot very well but left it go and it feels missed.

Wait, there could have been one more thing. End of credit scene, the Flash visits the family and gives the girl a new bottle of bug spray. Yeah, that would have been great.

Did you see the movie? Did you like it? Do you think they should have done what I said? Just curious. Thanks.


Martin & James Misc

Ramblings like Stephen King

One of the writers I have read a lot of is Stephen King. Starting about age 10, I have read almost everything he has written. The Shining is one of my favorite books of all time.

One reason for Mr. King’s popularity may be his comfortable, aw-shucks tone at times. He especially brings this out in the bits he writes before the stories. I remember this in Night Shift, the bit of insight into the actual author. Who they are, how they think, and why the hell are you writing this weird stuff?!

I decided to do this also. I want to get to know my readers – or constant reader as Mr. King affectionately refers to them. Even with my short stories, I’ve started doing this. While they might not be up to Mr. King’s standards, I hope they provide some insight and let us be a bit closer.

Below is what I wrote for my first Martin & James story:

Hello and welcome one and all,

I am truly humbled and grateful that you are reading this story, the third one in the Martin & James series. I am glad the stories have brought some enjoyment and pleasure.
When I originally got it through my head that I really did want to write, I had an idea. Then, I sat on it and let the idea ‘evolve’ in my mind. Looking back now, I think it was more a matter of being afraid – afraid I couldn’t actually write and afraid that no one would want to read it. The fact that you are reading the third Martin & James story tells me that someone enjoys this. That’s totally mind blowing to me. Boom. Again, I am completely humbled and grateful.
I hope, that as you read through this story, that you enjoy it and find a bit of an escape from whatever your stresses are for the day. I hope that you want to read more, to learn more about the masked man they chased or learn more about the agency and other agents. Maybe you are questioning why they have a kid with a field agent – which is totally weird.
Well, the story you are about to read, does not answer all of those questions. That is the other thing that originally popped into my head when I wanted to write. I had never written a full length novel and didn’t have the confidence that I could do that. I did want to write, but if I got discouraged while writing my first novel, I would stop and never know if I really could do it. I’m probably not the only one that has ever felt that way.
To solve that dilemma, I decided to write short stories. This thought came from my love of the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. Not that he consciously thought about writing short stories that just captured a slice, or an adventure, in Conan’s life. He was writing for what he had at the time – magazine’s that would publish short stories. The way Howard did it was to just write various stories about Conan in different stages of his life. There wasn’t really a thought to make a full life history or to even connect them, it was just stories. I loved that.
So that’s where I was, wanting to write stories but not sure I could. I decided to write a series of adventures about my main character and idea for the world. I did a couple, talked with some people, wrote some more, etc. Finally, I found someone that helped me out and encouraged me to stop with the individual stories and write a book. By that time, I felt that maybe I could.
OK, that’s not the whole story, but I will regale you with more at some other time. Since I took my main idea and went the full novel route, I still wanted to get some action adventure stories that were a bunch of stories loosely connected. My stepson, who is a very active dreamer, started telling me about some of his dreams, and that’s the final piece I needed.
So here we are. Action stories about a duo fighting the forces that want to destroy the world. They have some connection, and more of that will come out in time, but they are just fun reads. That’s my hope and desire.
With that said, I won’t hold you up any longer from finding out about this crazed weatherman and how Martin and James, maybe, defeat him.