Fireside Chat #2 (Fall ’05)


Recent research has shown that mad cow disease in the UK may have been caused by human remains in the cows’ feed. That means that people can eat cows, people can eat people (though it is not recommended by most clergy, police officers and dieticians) and cows can even eat cows, but cows cannot eat people and people cannot eat cows that eat people. Simple enough.

The research inspired me to begin work on a film called “The Cows That Eat So Many People,” kind of a horror/romantic comedy about a herd of evolved talking cows that decide to stop grazing (“Grass?” says one witty cow, “More like gross!”) and eat people instead. In the end, the townspeople defeat the cows by tipping them all over and mankind is saved. But then, on the DVD, there will be an alternate ending, because…

Everybody loves alternate endings.

There’s something so fascinating about watching a movie on DVD through to the end and then being able to plow through the special features and find out “what if it all turned out differently?” Ooh, differently. Usually the alternate ending is something really horrific where the main character dies. That’s what happens in “28 Days Later,” “The Butterfly Effect,” “Boiler Room” and probably on “Titanic: Special Edition,” which is coming soon to a Blockbuster near you.

In the same tradition, my movie will feature an alternate ending just like the original except for that Bovarre, the French-accent leader of the cows will dramatically rise from where he was tipped, sneak up behind the muscular protagonist and bite him in the neck. The protagonist gasps and falls to the ground, there’s a close-up on Bovarre’s quivering eye, then fade to black. Maybe toss a “The End?” onto the screen for good measure.

Now, as I mentioned last week, sometime around late July of this summer I up and forgot how to read. I made a pretty solid case for justifying my illiteracy, but I got some angry letters saying, “Get out of my school, No-Read” and the like, which really hurt my feelings. One person even sent me a list of difficult words, like “paradigm,” just to mock me.

So in the interest of self-defense, I offer this cop-out: We’d all read a lot more if books if the author packaged them with extras. Give us some scenes that you loved but took out for the sake of momentum! Give us italicized commentary throughout your book like, “What I was trying to do with the crow in this scene was to symbolize death. Everybody did a super job with this chapter. Just a super job.” Give us trivia and some bios! Give us music videos! Give us animated scene selection somehow!

Most, importantly, give us alternate endings. There was a time when one really good ending was enough to cut it, but we, like Bovarre and his renegade cow army, are evolving. If writers don’t change their game plan, the rest of us will be so evolved that we’ll all forget how to read.

Take that, LeVar Burton.


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