To the average person, a movie begins and ends when a VHS or DVD is inserted into the appropriate apparatus, watched and ejected. It’s a time-honoured tradition that is so bloody simple that those millions of people who do it countless times every day have no idea that they’ve been kidded. They’re not in control — it’s the Movie Gods. Oh sure, hit rewind and you’ll back up; but in those far recesses of your VCR heads or laser readers lie the Movie Gods who will bring order to the chaos that is film. They are the beings that initiate the FBI warnings, ensure that the credits roll appropriate names and not the latest cricket scores, and insert the characters into their scenes. If a Movie God were off duty, Dolph Lundren may be the star of Good Will Hunting and the Starship Enterprise’s mission may be to fight the Romans in Nantucket. Movie Gods = Order.
Order is always the greatest achievement of the Movie God. If even for a second order is lost, the Movie God becomes exposed to the “real world” and not only would that be the greatest undercover exposé on 60 Minutes, but also little old people with their little dusters would clean out those recess of their VCRs or DVDs and kill all the tiny Movie Gods just trying to make a living. This is why order must reign. It always has reigned. Except until now.
The most loud and obnoxious group of Movie Gods is actually full of Movie Goddesses. Crazy wild women who live for the fact that they, yes they, get to control the contemporary category of “CROWE”. They’re the specialists that brought you such classics as L.A. Confidential and The Insider. Essentially, they’re responsible for bringing the world Russell Crowe in all of his various incarnations. Rejoice. It’s all downhill form here; the Crowe Women are about to lose order.
Chapter One: Chaos
CWs Trisha and Aurore watched the screen flicker before them. They had seen it over 500,000 times, this Crowe film, and they adored the fact that a new promotion gave them the flight controls. Their peers called them “Budgirl” and “Budbabe,” the controllers of Wendell White. There was no better life than this, not for them anyway. Trisha threw a grape at her output screen as she always did when Sid Hutchins began his terribly long HUSH-HUSH speech; it was the anticipation of the next scene. CW Aurore’s hands hovered over the gazillions of buttons. She gave Trisha a nod.
“Ready for uplink at LAC. Good for signal?” The CW’s around them laughed. Silly — they were always ready. Well almost. There was one time when CW Wendy was loading a Crowescene for The Insider and she accidentally hit “Polish” instead of “Japanese” for Jeff’s dinner with Lowell. Thankfully, she caught it before the signal carried.
“Go for Bud1. Launch.” CW Trisha giggled and traced “Officer Bud White” with her finger along the screen. She and Aurore were particularly fond of Bud, if you couldn’t tell.
Wendell’s watchers looked around, certain they had heard someone even with their huge audio receivers on.
There it was again. Finally Aurore made eye contact with the culprit. CW Michelle was pointing to a scene on her screen showing Colin in bed with Midori.
“Thank Christ for Australia.” CW Michelle had that twinkle of mischief; Trisha and Aurore wondered whether the HB controller had done a double dose of… oh, no scene in particular.
“We’re going to get in trouble,” Trisha scolded.
“His shirt is off,” CW Michelle whispered excitedly. She tapped a control that filled the screen with Colin’s yearning face. “Ok for screen capture. And snap.” She outputted the data to her printer and mac-tacked her creation with the 50 others around her space. “I should make a book.”
“You should stop before someone catches you.” Aurore gave her a stern look.
“I particularly admire your devotion to Bud White. Do you love him, Wendettes?” CWs Trisha and Aurore looked back at their screen and the poor deformed reindeer, laughing softly to themselves.
“Damn you, Chelle.”
“G’Day!” Little CW Savannah entered through security at DVD Unit 1, outfitted in army pants and sporting her various clipboards, pens, and electronic-like devices. She was the Crowe Control Lieutenant for the time being, having given her control of Love In Limbo and Welsh Baptist Arthur Baskin over to autopilot. “Roll call for this morning, my Russellites: BiebeBabe — CW Tina.”
“Maxgirls — CWs Laura, Ilaria and Evelyne.”
“Check. Check.” There was a slight pause and CW’s Laura and Ilaria elbowed Evelyne, who was absorbed in a back issue of Empire. “Oh! Check!”
“Budgirl and Budbabe — CWs Trisha and Aurore.”
“Check me too!”
“ColinChic — CW… New pic, Michelle?”
“Hando’s Honeys — CWs Stef and Syrena.”
“Good to go,” they chimed in together.
“Mannie’s Girl — CW Norma Jean the Brumby Queen.”
“Andy’s Angel — CW Jennifer.”
“Terry’s Little K & R — how’s it going CW Kaz?”
“Camo scene!” CW Savannah pulled down her clipboard to see what Kaz had motioned to. They all stopped, silence filling the air. Terry Thorne in camouflage; CW Lisa gasped.
“I guess that’s a yes to Lachlan’s Lass. Good morning, Lisa.”
“Yes it is.”
“Almost done. Eastgirl — CW Kath.”
“Zack Grant’s Guardian ˆ CW Bugdog.”
“Back here!” Bugdog raised a hand in amidst a series of actions which had her man hug his son and plunge into reserved emotion. AKA Crowe Twister.
“Wigand Wendy and Alex Annabella?”
“Cort’s Queen — CW Roberta.”
“Good morning. And last but certainly not least, Sid’s Sinoritas. Can I hear from CWs Tawny and Lady please.”
“CW Tawny and CW Lady please.”
CW Tina leaned over to CW Michelle. “She’s trying to curb her language.”Savannah walked around the darkened control room, passing Mr. Coffee and the Pollywaffle dispenser and coming up on the empty seats of Tawny and Lady. Their screen was black, save for a small “New Mail” icon which flashed in the upper right hand corner. Their station was in disarray, their headsets tangled and their Virtuosity loading disks piled like the heads of Easter Island.
“Oh this is fabulous. Has anyone seen them?”
“They didn’t come in this morning,” a small voice came from behind Proof Station. “They were still here when I left last night. I assumed they were just sleepy.” CW Jennifer looked at everyone around her and decided that was it. She sat back down, quiet as ever. Suddenly the ideas started flying. Where had CWs Tawny and Lady disappeared to?
“Maybe their transport broke down.”
“Maybe no one’s watching Virtuosity.”
“Not watch Russell? Whatever.”
“Maybe they forgot.”
“Maybe they set up a remote Virtuosity Station.”
“Away from us?”
“Maybe they’re sick.”
“Maybe they’re playing hooky!”
“Maybe Armageddon befell the real world.”
“Maybe VHS and DVD are being replaced!”
Everyone stopped in horror, chaos erupting.
“I’m still running Beta!”
“I can’t do it again, Michelle, not again!”
“Save our souls!”
“Oh for the love of God, spare us!”
“Tawny and Lady are probably refiguring Sid for the new system.”
“What did you say?” CW Savannah looked over to CW Kath, who was nervously tapping away at HOTA.
“Refiguring. You know for the new… um…video system.”
“SID!!!” The girls gasped together. Russell Crowe Hell. The dictator of Crowe. The menace. The totalitarian. The sex pixel beast. The purple kiss of death.
“Oh,” CW Annabella looked as though she was going to faint. “Those poor, poor girls. How will we ever find them, save them?”
“Call in the National Guard!”
“Inform the President!”
“Let’s arrange a search party!”
“Send in the hounds!!”
“Do a sweep of the land. Comb the deserts.”
“Yell out their names.”
“Phone their homes!”
“Or, or….” CW Jennifer quietly stood up again and nervously looked around at the group. Her words were like whispers. “Or we could check that blinking “new mail” thingy at the top of their screen in case Sid kidnapped them and gave us directions on how to secure their safe return.” Jennifer sat down once more. The girls looked at each other and rushed the Virtuosity Station. CW Michelle double clicked on the icon and the message sent shivers down their spines. Sid had kidnapped Tawny and Lady and it contained directions on how to secure their safe return.
“Very intuitive, Jennifer.” Savannah looked back at the screen and read it aloud.
“My CroweWomen. My Sabines. My little sexually magnetized princesses. I have sent, as an attachment, a picture of your friends in my own personal custody. 24 hour attention, care of Sid. The full treatment. You’ll all get your chance… every one of you. But not yet… not yet….”
“Hey…” CW Laura scowled. “That’s not his movie.”
“Shhhh,” Roberta whispered. “Continue reading.”
“I have decided, as a small side task for my day, to completely wipe out those sniveling putzes, those rotund and liver-worted, style deprived fuckwads you get your jollies from and replace them with me. I am your God. CroweWoman Tina, my pet, look over at your MA Station. Look for that fat cotton freak on your screen.”
“John,” Tina watched as static enveloped every output.
“Boo!” Sid flashed onto her station and began dancing across the screens. He manipulated the controls and brought up a shot of Biebe, making him scream for help.
“John!!” Michelle and Bugdog ran over to comfort her.
“Oh no, sweetness and light. There’s nothing you can do. Any of you. To save your friends you must give me what I crave. I crave sustenance. Maximum hard drive capacity. End your men or I will end them for you. Shut them down and I will be reborn. It’s all that you can do. The clock is ticking, princesses. Slowly deteriorating… away.”Each station systematically surged and fizzled, obscured and pixelized images replacing their heroes. The death of order, the birth of chaos, and the consequent destruction and resurrection of Russell Crowe.
Chapter Two: Sid’s Second Present
A silence filled the Crowe Control Room in DVD Unit 1. There was the odd whimper, the odd yearning scream, and a lovely rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” coming from a dismayed CW Kath. But mostly there was silence. There was also a cacophony of static coming from all of the Movie Stations and sometimes a garbled hint of dialogue from a movie that was slowly becoming manipulated. Actually, it really wasn’t silent at all. CW Savannah watched the CroweWomen with grave concern. Was this how Sid planned to destroy them? By deleting their men and making himself the ruling figure of Crowe? Did he really think that he could dash their spirits with this latest attack on their loves and their friends? He obviously didn’t know these girls. Nothing dashed their spirits!
“My spirit is dashed.” CW Annabella slumped into her seat.
“Mine too. This will be the end of us,” Roberta placed an arm around Annabella’s shoulders. “First he destroys our hearts and then he leaves us here like lost ships waiting to be salvaged in the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean so that some little old people and snot-nosed little children think that their movie system has to be repaired and we’ll get tossed out into the garbage or sold at a garage sale for $5 or sent to a repair shop where some hygiene deficient man named Bob will stick his little electronic fixing thingies into our home and kill us with his carelessness and disregard. I will NOT be severed by an electronic fixing thingy! For the love of…”
“Roberta. Roberta. Roberta!” CW Savannah exchanged glances with Michelle. “We have to get them back. I just don’t have the faintest idea where to look or how to get them.”
“Oh! Oh!” Jennifer stood up and pointed to the Virtuosity Station. “I think I know,” she said softly. “I’ll bet he’s juggling movies around placing some movie bits into other movie bits. Maybe he’s decided to place our Crowe incarnations in the wrong movies so as to create a mess that we will have to work together to fix. It’s, um, just a thought.” CW Jennifer looked around her shyly, bit her lip and sat down. The girls looked at her blankly. Lisa patted her on the shoulder.
“Maybe, just out of curiosity, we should turn up his volume and see what he’s doing. He’s waving to us on the Virtuosity screen”
“Good plan, Lisa.” Syrena went over to the Station and flew the sound up a few notches. “Hey slick, what are you doing?”
“Hello princesses.” Sid’s voice slithered through the speakers. “Do you like my new suit? I’m a Satin Leopard.”
“Just peachy, slick. What the hell are you doing?”
Norma Jean smiled at Syrena. “You go girl.”
“Well, princess, I’m juggling movies around. I’m placing some movie bits into other movie bits so as to create a mess that you all will have to work together to fix. Your men will be lost forever in worlds completely different from their safe zone. It will be delicious watching them die. Tell me, how would your Hando survive in, say, Alaska? Where skinheads are a rarity and made into carpets like fur pelts. Have you ever seen him play hockey? I think I’ll make him a goalie so pucks can be shot at his shaved little head at 70 mph. Wouldn’t that be beautiful?”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Stef lunged over to the Station beside Syrena. “I happen to love that head!”
“All those dents in it. I feel tingly all over.” Sid smiled slyly. “Oh Kaz? Kaz, where are you precious?”
“I’m going to kick your…”
“That’s better. It will be fun trying to watch the K&R specialist negotiate his own K&R, don’t you think? Especially if he walked into a motel room and had his hands nailed down to a table! That was so brilliant of me. Wit. Sadism. Poetry. I am a God!”
“You’re an asshole.”
“Oh, such vulgar profanity. Really, you should be ashamed. Maybe I won’t tell you anymore then. Maybe you’ll just have to figure it out on your own. Goodbye my delectable little morsels.”
“Wait,” CW Savannah ran up to the screen. “What about Tawny and Lady?”
“I’m taking them back to my neck of the woods for singing class and fashion ed. But don’t worry, it’s not me you have to be worried about. My antics pale in comparison to Denzel’s acting. Let’s hope they’re not bored to death. Ciao, princesses.”
“WAIT!” CW Lisa started pounding on the screen. “You idiot! Where did you put the rest of them! Where’s Lachlan? Get out here so I can kick rip your-”
“Down girl.” Wendy held Lisa back. “We just have to think about this logically. Where would they be out of their safe zones?”
“We know Hando is in Mystery, Alaska.”
“And Terry is in Heaven’s Burning.”
“Oh God,” Kaz started to sway.
“She’s going over!”
“Hon,” Michelle put a comforting hand on her shoulder, “If it is any consolation, the angst and psychological throbbing of that movie are beautiful. Really dark and gritty. Lots of pain and anguish that really grips your heart and makes you feel strongly about the character. Lots of sorrow and history. Courage and hardship. Nails through hands and the like. And then there is the bed scene…”
“Okay, comforting is the operative word here, Chelle.”
“What? Well if Terry’s in Heaven’s Burning, where’s Colin.”
“In jail, I’ll wager,” Trisha spoke up. “LA Confidential I’m thinking.”
“Then where’s Bud?” CW Aurore had the fear of God in her eyes.
“Probably telling someone off.” CW Savannah began to contemplate. “But who? But who…Oh yes! Mike Wallace!”
“Bud would tell off Mike Wallace?”
“Wouldn’t you? I’d tell him where to stick his CBS.”
“But, but,” CW Wendy stood up, “where’s Jeffrey then? He’d be blowing the whistle on something, wouldn’t he?”
“Columbian kidnappers!” Kaz jumped back to camo mode.
In the corner, CW Tina silently held a toque in her hands. Her world crumbling around her.
“What’s that, Tina?”
“It’s a toque,” CW Savannah offered.
“What the heck is a toque?” CW Bugdog was getting way curious.
“You know,” Michelle offered, “a toque.”
“And what’s that, you bloody Canadians?”
“It’s,” Tina’s lower lip began to tremble, “It’s…It’s John’s fuzzy hat.”
“Oh Tina,” Bugdog gave her a huge hug. “We’ll get him back, just you watch. We just have to figure out where he went!”
“Where did he go?” Tina looked up at her with big sad eyes.
“I have absolutely no idea.”
“Well, knowing my John, he’s bound to overcome adversity.”
“Whoa,” Savannah looked to her. “A sheriff who became a hockey player. A hockey player who became a Saturday hero. A Saturday hero…who defied the NHL!”
“You’re thinking he’s gone to Gladiator?” CWs Laura, Ilaria and Evelyneall gasped.
“Dude. Do you guys know where Max would have gone?”
The three Maxgirls looked at each other.
“He’s a warrior.”
“He hates bad men.”
“Like Gene Hackman.”
“Like Gene Hackman.”
“Like Gene Hackman.”
“If Maximus is in Quick and the Dead, then where’s Cort?” CW Roberta asked pensively. “He’s a decent man. A man of religion and of firearms. Quite decent, really.”
“Oh God,” Syrena said, “Knowing Sid, I hate to say this sweetpea but I think he’s probably sent him to fill Hando’s spot. Hando’s friends don’t like his type.”
“Not in the least,” Stef agreed.
CW NormaJean the Brumby Queen slowly rose out of her seat. “And Mannie? He’s awfully quiet, you know. He’s not the type to blow the whistle or fight lions or anything. Where could Sid possibly place him so as to be out of his safe zone?”
“Dang,” CW Annabella gave her a worried look. “He is quiet. And what better way to counteract quiet than to use mouth. Who’s got the biggest mouth?”
“Russell does,” Jennifer said quietly.
“No silly. Bridget Fonda. Oh, I should have seen it coming, that poor, poor man. Alex can barely stand her himself. But speaking of Alex, where would Sid have put him?”
“To take pictures with Hugo Weaving. And I’ll wager Andy, being a dishwasher, will end up being stuck in Lachlan’s plane.”
“Jennifer, how the heck do you do that,” Ilaria shook her head. “You know he’s a dishwasher so you logically assume airplane because it’s the natural progression between the two? You’ve been bang on about everything right from the get go. You’re amazing.”
CW Jennifer stared at her blankly.
“So that leaves East, Lachlan and Zack. I put all the other boys on autopilot.” A worried look crossed Savannah’s face. “Dude, I hope they’re okay.”
“Just checked.” CW Lisa gave the thumbs up and she came through DVD Unit 1. “They’re okay for now. What was that about Lachlan?”
“Lisa, where would Lachlan be out of his safe zone?”
“I don’t know. What’s left?”
“Horses, FBI, horses.”
“Holy Occam’s Razor, Batman. Well, based on the principle that all things being equal the most likely answer is right, I’ll have to say horses. I mean, he’s a wiz in wings but I’ve never seen him on a horse.”
“And Zack,” Bugdug spoke up, “would likely fit in to Hammers Over the Anvil because he might see that freaky annoying child kinda like his son! And he might be okay with a Colt Python .357 Magnum, but a horse is a totally different Trigger.”
“You just want to see his bottom,” CW Laura winked.
“And East with the FBI. Again because of that freaky annoying kid. That could be deadly, guys.”
“Kath, hon, I think that’s the point.”
“Okay, recap.” Savannah grabbed her clipboard. “Sid kidnapped Tawny and Lady to Virtuosity, flipped characters in our manually controlled movies, spared, thankfully, the autopilot characters and left us to do all of the following things: bring order to chaos, save our men and kick his kalaki to the Far Side of the World!”
The girls stopped in unison and looked up thoughtfully.
“You know,” NormaJean said, “that would make a catchy name for a Russell movie one day. The Far Side of the World. Anyways, back to business. What are we doing?”
“We’re going to save the day,” Savannah grinned. “Each of us will go where we suspect Sid has sent our man. Now don’t worry…our boys will be in the movies so when we upload ourselves, we won’t be alone to tackle this mess. Arthur’s on autopilot so I’m going to make myself useful by going after Tawny and Lady.”
“That’s suicide BananaRoo. No way in heck am I going to let you go after Sid by yourself.”
“Chelle, I’ve already thought about that. We have reinforcements. They’ve just been employed through a government initiative for jobs in the IT sector. Dude, check it. May I introduce the newest members of the team.” The doors at DVD Unit 1 swooshed open. “Please welcome CM Jeff and CW Darcy to our little family.”
“Cool,” said CM Jeff as he winked at the CroweWomen.
“What? Oh hi!” CW Darcy smiled ear to ear and waved. “So what’s going on?”
After a whirlwind explanation, Pollywaffles and a pep talk that was based largely on the Gladiator Waltz, the CroweWomen and one CroweMan stepped up to their uploaders and became themselves a part of Sid’s chaos. But unbeknownst to the sexy pixel beast, you could play with fire but you could not play with estrogen.