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How I Would Have (re)Written the New Ghostbusters Movie

Act One

We begin 20-25 years after the events of the first GB in New York with Egon Spangler’s protegé, Holtzmann. She is a dedicated scientist working with Abby on studying paranormal phenomenon in Spangler’s labs in New York. Spangler retired and has not been seen since he left for an archaeological site overseas which had some relation to the Gozer incident.

Abby and Holtzmann are fired from the labs after their latest experiment brings about a ghost to speak to, but fails to re-establish the paranormal as an ongoing threat, and Holtzmann’s machine to measure PKE causes severe and costly damage to the lab’s equipment. Without jobs, Abby seeks out her friend, Erin, who is up for tenure. Erin refuses to help them because an association with them might cost her her tenure. Abby brings up that they were on the verge of breakthrough that might get Erin the acknowledgement she’s been seeking since her branding as Ghost Girl. Erin gets them to leave by promising that if they can bring empirical data, she will help, but not join them.

Abby visits Ray’s Occult books, and Ray hands over some books and equipment that Spangler left with him that indicates another major phenomenon is about to hit and PKE is being stored up somewhere which is causing an explosive buildup. Abby and Holtzmann follow a lead that allows them to trap a ghost, but barely.

With some empirical measurements in hand, Abby and Holtzmann return to Erin. Erin tells her skeptical boss to shove it, and joins Abby and Holtzmann, but without funding, they can’t get off the ground. Abby sells her stock and mortgages her home to get them into business. They hire the dumb receptionist, Erin crushes on him, and they all make fun of her for loving an idiot, but at least he works cheap. They are called in to a real emergency when the first of one major ghost trap fails and releases a ghost in a populated area, where Janine works. Using Egon’s notes, Holtzmann and Abby make some new ghost-catching equipment. They’re never sure whether Holtzmann’s stuff will work or kill them, but they manage to capture the ghost and the renewed interest in the Ghostbusters gets them on TV, etc. There is some concern as to whether these new Ghostbusters have what it takes, but it is not aimed at them being women.

Act Two

At the site of the first ghost they trapped, an old Ghostbusters trap is found (or a replica) and is returned to Venkman, who returns it to the girls in a brief scene where he says he never wanted to be involved anyway; maybe he does his typical scam-artist bit and hits on the girls and they all think it’s gross. It seems that someone had contained the ghost, but it had broken free. They investigate the site and run into Rowan trying to recover the trap, and dismiss him as an awkward janitor.

The Ghostbusters continue to have trouble as suddenly the PKE booms again, for reasons they can’t figure out. They have great monetary and popular success, and hire on Patty at her insistence after interacting with her in the subway, where she discovers another one of the traps, and identifies Rowan. Rowan is following his plan from the movie, only rather than breaking ghosts out, he had been hiding traps at the locations in order to open them all at once, which he has now done. Rowan frames the Ghostbusters, having used the traps they sent, by talking to the Dean at MIT and convincing him of their complicity in trying to create their own success by freeing the ghosts. The Ghostbusters are arrested.

Act Three

While in jail, the Ghostbusters discover the ley line problem by cross-referencing books that Dana Barrett sneaks into their cell; not being a ghostbuster and thus not suspicious, Dana had been convinced by Ray to get them the books. Meanwhile, Rowan commits suicide to open the final portal, bringing a building to collapse. National Guard and police armed with ghost-busting equipment provided by the old franchise have been unable to make a dent in the swirling vortex. Winston arrives, having taken a job at the mayor’s office and having just heard about them, and brings the girls before the mayor. The old franchise is all in the room, but Ray, Venkman, and Winston all agree that the new franchise has all the proper equipment and ability and should be the ones to handle it. Dana Barrett, however, decides to join them.

The new Ghostbusters, plus Dana, suit up and go to stop Rowan. Insecurities about Holtzmann’s equipment force Erin and Abby to fight about who is in charge, but Patty’s knowledge of the history of the building means that there are structural elements that they can take advantage of, to disable the portal. While fighting ghosts to set Holtzmann’s mega traps around the portal, they have several moments of needing to rely upon each other, as the traps continue to burst open from the extent of the activity. Eventually, it is determined that the containment field on the Ecto-1 needs to be dropped into the portal in order to stop it, so someone has to drive it in. Abby agrees to do it, since she feels guilty about having messed up Erin’s life, but while they are talking it over, Holtzmann remote-rigs the car to drive itself in.

When the portal explodes, it flows into Rowan’s corpse who becomes the big bad at the end. In order to stop the massive ghost, they have to cross the streams, which results in total protonic reversal. Holtzmann’s theory is that since the original franchise didn’t die, neither will they.

Ending possibility 1 (sci-fi bummer?):

Erin’s pack shorts and she dies, becomes a real “ghost girl” and helps from the other side. Thus the Ghostbusters have a ghost partner from then on.

Ending possibility 2 (homage bummer, but my favorite):

Erin’s pack shorts, but we see Egon on “the other side,” holding the pack together. He smiles, and disappears into the void as everything returns to normal.

Ending possibility 3:

Erin’s pack shorts, Abby leaps in to help her. There is a mighty explosion and the earth swallows them. Dana, Patty, and Holtzmann look about ready to give up, when Abby and Erin climb up out of the earth, having been saved from the fall by Holtzmann’s megatrap not quite completely consuming a marshmallowy creature of mammoth proportions.

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Journal prompt: What are your best character traits?

In an effort to get myself on my own side, I decided on this journal prompt. Recently, I had a friend visit me, and we discussed into the night our feelings on becoming official experts in our craft. She is stronger-willed than I am, and thus more self-confident (or perhaps vice versa). She has no qualms about putting people in their place when they step over the line. Her skills are greater than mine, which she admits helps with that feeling, but she also gave reverence to my own considerable abilities in the field.

I continued to mull it over, hoping that I would find some way to feel more secure, as I sometimes do, in the 20-plus year journey that has led me to this place, even when so many are willing to dismiss the craft as inessential, or even silly. Even I can recognize that, which makes it very difficult to find any solace there.

One thing I settled on, however, was the notion that I did all this while mastering several other disciplines; that is, in the time it took me to become a recognized expert in the several different weapon styles in the stage combat organizations to which I belong, I also graduated summa cum laude with a degree in literary analysis, earned candidacy as an Equity-level actor, and learned several different coding languages for web and mobile applications. I also wrote a board game, filmed and edited a short film, and enriched my abilities in music and dance. I directed (for payment) several shows at rather large houses, and I became an expert in the performance of the First Folio Unrehearsed Shakespeare style. In short, I have grown.

My best traits are my willingness to take on new challenges with an open mind and heart, and never to dismiss a person out of hand. I give everyone many chances to earn my respect, and even when they have lost it, I welcome in them the desire to make amends. I am forgiving of others, if not myself, and I am a person on whom my friends and colleagues can reply. I am discerning in my taste and steadfast in my core beliefs, but willing to take on new information and tolerant of others (at least, most of the time; no one’s perfect).

So, when my therapist insists that I think of myself as a good person, a person of value, I will try henceforth not to categorize that as disingenuous, equitable, or compulsory, but as his assessment as a professional, even if his job is to build my self-esteem. Somewhere inside me, I know I am of value, or I would long since have ended my own life. I will continue to give more than I take, and hope that my contributions continue to be worthy.

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I can’t seem to motivate myself to write here, but I want to nonetheless; therefore, I’ll compile a simple list to get myself started, or at least finished.

Ten things that happened while I was away:

  1. I created some excellent, short pieces of fight choreography, one or two of which particularly pleased me.
  2. I worked with mostly non-union actors who all, nevertheless, stayed true to the work on an a compressed schedule.
  3. I confirmed that some actors in the union exhibit poise onstage and off, but many simply reap the benefits of the genetic lottery.
  4. I learned about myself in my time alone, mostly that I might prefer solitude to the company of others.
  5. The cast bonded over physical training; I may attempt to enact such a policy on my actors in my next show.
  6. The director taught me much, but above all, I learned more humility: my vision is not unique, though it is strong.
  7. Meeting a famous person left me starstruck, but talking to him reminded me quickly to see people as humans, as trees in the Ram Dass sense.
  8. I charmed people when I decided to be charming, and alienated them by isolating myself.
  9. I treated my work a bit too much like work and forgot to find joy. The schedule may have contributed to that, as may have my unwillingness to open up to people.
  10. I completed a piece of art at a company that will likely increase my reputation. Maybe that will allow me to feel more confident.
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I will defend you whether or not I am armed, but some people don’t have the choices and fortune I do. For example, a paraplegic man in a wheelchair.

Those who want to carry firearms should be subject to more stringent rules, however, if they intend to carry a weapon that makes it so simple to be lethal. The people I know who carry firearms understand the rules, and live by them, so this shouldn’t be difficult for them. But why should we not create a negative incentive for those who do not live a life worthy of the privilege?

Is it a fundamental human right to own a weapon, particularly a firearm? That is the actual question at stake. It is certainly a fundamental right that a living being should be allowed to live free from harm.

We don’t extend this right to most animals or plants; should that enter into our discussion here?

We don’t create a world where we are free from disease, the infringement of that one basic right by bacteria, viruses, and problematic genetic. Do bacteria have the right to live free from harm?

We don’t seem to understand that ISIL is now fighting the way America did against the British, the way all freedom fighters assault a larger, more technologically advanced enemy who seems bent on their destruction. Should we allow ISIL the right to live free from harm?

Should I carry a gun so that I can fire on an assailant? Is it the only way to stop them? Isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure?

Is this a question of escalation? That is, once we know people are armed, will there have to be a new way for criminals to assert their dominance over such a population?

Is is true, really true, that a mentally ill individual (not a criminal for whom the gains are reasonable) will get a gun no matter what they have to do? I could legally buy a gun to kill myself in those moments of doubt, but I don’t. My reason? It’s too much of a hassle. Anecdotal.

It’s a complicated topic, obviously.

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No one would have blamed Heath for wanting the bauble. It sat with delicate weight on the pedestal and gleamed with inviting indifference. Although it flashed light onto his face whenever he moved near it, this was true of most treasure. Treasure attracts the senses. This tiny happiness for which he had searched bore all the signature traits of sin. He coveted it, he lusted for it, he wanted, badly, to steal it from its owner. With his artful, almost poetic sophistry, he even argued himself into believing that it wanted to be stolen — nay, freed — from its comfortable pillow, nestled in an embrace of sunlight from above.

“I would wear this trinket proudly,” he thought, “I would make sure everyone saw it. I would even share it, if it wanted to be shared. People could take turns wearing it, so long as they returned it by the end of the day, so I could spend my nights in adoration. I would never tire of gazing at it, of caressing it.”

As his fingers extended to touch the facade of the bauble, however, a deep sadness suddenly made him feel heavy. Heavy and weak. How many such objects had he touched in the past? How many had he stolen? Yet, here he stood, with child-like petulance, ready for another. He remembered then, the trophy case he had built, foggy now with dust each time he walked past it. And there, on the mantle, the clock he had built. Intricate gears which represented infinite care, its housing etched with carved grooves and careless gashes. In the yellow glow of his home, he heard its soothing, reliable tick.

The bauble fairly hummed now, chirping delight as his fingers tickled its gemmed surface, shivering under his breath.

He stepped back from the pedestal and the walls of the room warped and wobbled. He felt ill, and he began to dig the pads of his fingers into his temples, tearing his own flesh with funereal purpose. As his vision blurred from pain and the red wash of blood making a dire concoction with his tears, he could hear the chime of the hour.

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Take a break

Stories of great men, apocryphal or otherwise, depict them as being singularly committed to their goals. Lest we create idols of them, however, the story then changes to their support system, typically their wives. In these stories, the wives are constantly grounding them in reality, asking them to relax for a moment, which then allows them greater perspective and leads to their greatest breakthroughs.

Similarly, when I entrench myself in my work, my satisfaction increases. I cannot equate myself with these great men, because I allow myself distraction too frequently. Validation arrives too late in the case of work, which kills my spirit in the form of impatience. When people want release from their obligations, I cannot understand it. If one cares enough to commit themselves to the completion of a work, then how can one take any satisfaction in the release from the pursuit of its completion, if not perfection? Late nights, frustration, starvation, weight gain, loss of friendship: any of these casualties become necessary under the burden of creation, because what else even exists?

Supporting characters obviously earn their place in history, but if I must ascend to feel worthy…

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The Percival

It was an indomitable ship, from the look of it. Big, strong timbers for masts and the bent-beams of the hull had such flexibility that the strain of their fibers bowing to the wave-cutting shape of the prow made them look defiant and unbeaten.

In the water, it bobbed slower than the slap of the waves, as if considering. When each crew member took a step in, The Percival barely rocked. Gliding out into the sea, it split the water in two, and sent sprays high and away from the sails. Even the sun left no marks in its rich, red sides.

Below decks lived a painter, who cared for the ship. Much of the time, the painter knew that the ship would be strong enough not to need him. He would spend months at a time laying in his hammock, painting little scenes and caricatures of people he knew, or even some he had never met. When he felt it was needed, he would come out and give some attention to the outside of the ship to keep it in reasonable condition. He spent more time on the little paintings in his quarters below deck than on the ship.

“This is such a strong ship,” he said to himself, and others who would listen, “Surely, people will see that it is strong, which is all a ship needs to be. Then, they will come inside to see my paintings.”

Many years went by. The painter became more and more impatient. Sometimes, he would purposefully let the ship fall into disrepair and neglect. But, no one came then, either. Sometimes, he would spend extra time painting the exterior of the ship, almost enough to make it as beautiful as the other ships, whose painters spent so much time on them.

“After all,” he thought, “the ship still is a ship. It’s been painted enough. And, it’s such a strong ship. Surely, people will see that it is strong and that is what a ship should be. Now, that it has a fresh coat of lovely paint, they will want to come in and see my paintings.”

But no one came.

Eventually, the painter grew tired of painting, and left all the scenes and caricatures curl from their frames. Even if people had come to see the paintings then, they were dusty and peeling and their edges were rough. They were not the paintings anymore.

The Percival was still strong, even after many years. It creaked more now, but it still split waves, and dared the sun. Many crews would sail it, but when they went below decks, they would hear a howling they could never quite identify. Occasionally, they would find a curious painting lying on the ship’s floors, but a nervous and thin man would come from the darkness to snatch it away. When they would go back above decks, sometimes they could hear him say, “It’s a ship. It’s a strong ship, and that’s all it needs to be.”

And the sailors would nod and agree and sail on.

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Try the Pen

I have been encouraged by my therapist to write more. In our sessions, I often mention this journal because I think, despite many rambling unedited passages, I come to some lovely little turns of phrase that sum up difficult feelings. Today’s session revolved around the concept of authority, and how I’ve always understood its necessity and butt heads with those who don’t. Not dictatorship, not authoritarianism, just authority.

Eventually, the buck must stop. Where you lay that burden, you must also invest your trust. Representative democracy in America has become a site of lax accountability with maximum power, as authority no longer requires trust, but the same looks-driven awe that we grant our entertainers. Perhaps it is only nostalgia, but I seem to remember a time when people became handsome or beautiful by way of their talent, and were not suddenly granted a status of talented merely for being beautiful. Models and actors were dumb until otherwise noted, not seen as members of some cultural elite who knew better than our leaders.

I am glad that Obama is handsome and hip, because I believe he had great things in mind for the country many of which came true. I am halfway onboard with his drone policy, but only halfway. It seems more humane, and we cannot fall victim to the fallacy of slippery slope when it comes to privacy and totalitarianism. He is a good leader, and with whatever places I might criticize, I grant that he took on the burden of leadership as bests he could, unlike say Bush, who was not a leader, but won his presidency — if we accept that there were no voter conspiracies — based on a sort of snuggly harmlessness in the face of a world which then seemed to be on the mend.

Authority is not granted me despite my track record NOR my obvious genetic tendencies toward leadership. I am tall, hale, and strong. I am tactful, clear-eyed, and efficient. So, where the disconnect? Must I be a tyrant to be heard?

Thus, the pen. After all, no one can hold any authority over my writing, and I may be able to express myself best in this environment, whatever self-doubt may linger. I am already a shut-in, so bonus points there. I have a degree in the subject. I have been called a natural storyteller. I even hold awards, however far out of date, for my writing.

I have been making a sincere attempt to write more for my own mental health, and my ability to exert self-discipline has grown in recent years. Writing it may have to be.

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Not ok.


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Fight like me

It’s good to know that I’m good at what I do. I spent the evening with B&B’s R&J, teaching a number of knife fights, and some unarmed. Plenty of good actors there, and lots to love in that group.

I wish I could do more things like that, but really, I think it’s time I got out of the game.

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