We’ll always have Waterworld

This weekend, we attended the 4th annual Spell Check, a fundraiser for LatchisArts, with our dear friend Janet who visited from Pennsylvania. It was a great evening’s entertainment… where the Harry Potter-themed team actually got to use their wands with the word ‘stupefy’ and zap the other team into stupificity.

The show was emcee’d by Tom Bodett, of Motel 6 commercial and NPR fame (not to mention the author of a whole bunch of books). Unfortunately, caught up in the moment, the bright lights, the roars of the crowd, he made humorous, even deprecating, reference to a certain movie, and I felt compelled to contact him and voice my displeasure. I mean, people are constantly spouting off to someone about something that bothers them, whether it be nuclear waste or Ann Romney’s career choices. This is my issue, and now it’s my time, and Tom Bodett is my gateway public figure.

Our e-mail exchange follows.


Hello Mr. Bodett,
My name is John Carter. Really, it is.
My wife and I have listened to you on Wait, Wait, for years, and we really enjoyed your performance at the Spelling Bee last night… but I did want to write and ask you to reconsider the John Carter movie jokes.
I’ve loved those John Carter of Mars books more or less forever, even though they are terrible. Now the movie comes along, and finally, in the full flower of my middle age, I get this big-budget moment. Disney invited me to a special screening and gave me t-shirts and trading cards. My consulting clients all got a kick out of it… “oh, yeah, like the movie.” My moldy old comic books jumped up in value. Life was good in ways that only a very very large marketing campaign can make it good. As a famous person yourself, of course you’re used to this kind of thing, but I’ll tell you as a newbie to the whole name recognition thing: it was fun. Then the movie came out, and the pre-release hype turned to tepid endorsements, then the reviews got downright hostile (disaster, fiasco, epic fail), and all of a sudden my namesake is being blamed for hundreds of millions of lost dollars. Imagine the disappointment, if you can.
On behalf of the hundreds of John Carters currently hanging their heads in embarrassed shame, please retire the references to “us” even sooner than you otherwise might. I’m confident that won’d be difficult, as there are soooo many other stiff, humorless, overacted space epics out there. 
With warm regards, and looking forward to next year’s Spelling Bee,
John Carter


Just so you know, that was my first John Carter movie joke, and it will be my last, I promise.   I never even saw the thing, anyway.
I know – a little bit – how you feel.  I was hanging around in Hawaii quite a bit while they were making Waterworld with Kevin Costner.  Some friends of mine got into the film as extras and stunt guys and were hanging around with Costner off set, so I had all this great buzz-by-association and was really looking forward to the movie – which turned out to be the John Carter of the 90’s and replaced Heaven’s Gate as the most expensive and critically abused film of all time.   Sorry you had to get your turn in that barrel.   And sorry I piled on.  But don’t worry, another 20 or 30 years and people will forget all about it.   I feel worst for Taylor Kitsch, who I thought was brilliant in Friday Night Lights.  He deserved a better film debut, for sure.  So did all you John Carters.
Thanks for the kind words about SpellCheck.  We’ll see how the reviews are…
My best,

The very fact that Tom Bodett lives close enough to host this thing is pretty awesome… just exactly the right kind of celebrity for the right kind of town. The generosity of his response to my feigned offense and his empathy with my unfeigned disappointment are blessings of the kind we are coming to expect around here. Thank you, Tom, and I’ll rest easier knowing that we’ll always have Waterworld.

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