Podcasting Commentary

Podcasting. Fuck! What the shit is that? Goddamn those internet pricks piss me off with their pussy little innovations. Who the fuck do they think they’re kidding? Podcasting, my aching nuts. The internet has two uses: free music and titties. Anything else is limpwristed bullshit. “But it’s radio on the internet,” I hear you fuckin NPR bitches crying. You stupid sacks of shit, we already have fucking radio. It’s on the goddamn radio. Radio on the fucking radio, who’d have fucking though, huh? Shit, this is just like when you fucking people tried to put tv on the fucking internet with your pussy-ass “webisodes.” What in the name of Jesus H. Christ’s holy throbbing cock is a webisode? It’s a shitty fucking tv show on the goddamn internet. If I wanted to watch shitty tv, I’ll just watch the fucking BBC, thank you very damn much.

You fucking hipsters. You’ll buy into anything as long as it’s fucking digital. Well while you pricks listen to fucking “Best of Slate Magazine,” I’ll be looking at titties.

The sun never sets on those who ride into it.

Back when I worked at the video store, I would start every morning the same way. As I performed my morning duties I would watch Richard O’Brien’s Shock Treatment. The oft-forgotten follow up to Rocky Horror, Shock Treatment was largely rejected by Rocky fans as being “too bad.”

I love this fuckin’ film. I must have seen it three hundred times. The movie is pretty gawdawful, but it actually has a lot going for it. It embraces the spirit of nonsense fully and unapologetically. It fabricates an internal logic that aaalmost makes sense. And the music is terribly catchy.

Watching this movie every day for a year trained me to associate the start of the day with the Denton Anthem (I am not one of those who find the emotive form of presentation to be overly manipulative). I have been bemoaning the lack of a Shock Treatment DVD for years, but thanks to some cosmic fluke, the soundtrack was released on CD years ago, and I now own it.

For the past several years, my mornings have been incomplete. Empty. But now I can start each day right, with the Shock Treatment soundtrack album.

Maxwell Flint and The Westwood Case – Chapter 1

My name is Maxwell Flint, and I am a hard man of letters.

For some, the American Dream is a family and a home. For some it is bedding 739 beautiful women within a set span of time. I endeavor to live a life of spectacle, and I endeavor to never work very hard. To me, the American Dream is elusive. As a hard man of letters, I am chasing it, and if I ever find it, I’ll rip out its fucking throat.

I was in high school when I discovered the works of Hunter S. Thompson, Doctor of Journalism. It changed my life. I suddenly realized that I could jot down a bunch of half-assed shit and call it journalism. I knew that I had found my calling.

It was in the course of compiling material for The Great American Road Novel that I came to discover The Secret of the Westwood Estate. Amongst select circles The Westwood Estate is something of a phantom, spoken of in hushed whispers. No two accounts seem to be the same, but what all accounts agreed upon is that the Westwood Estate is the greatest unclaimed fortune since the unclaimed estate of noted pirate Sir Francis Drake. At least, that’s what Alice had told me.

During the period of which I first became entangled in the silky web of The Westwood Case, I was killing time in Canton, Ohio. My car had been temporarily impounded, so I found myself making bed in the dumpster behind the blood bank. When I was rousted from my sleep the night in question, I expected to be hauled down to the police station yet again. Instead, I blearily faced Alice for the first time.

The woman staring down at me was not quite an attractive woman. She was slightly too scrawny, her eyes were slightly too far apart and it was obvious her parent’s weren’t able to afford braces when she was younger. Nonetheless, she carried herself with the confidence one associates with a woman who knows without question that she is utterly beautiful.

“Maxwell Flint?” she inquired.

“Some call me that,” I said as I scrambled to my feet.

“Word around town is that you’re a hard man of letters.” It appeared my reputation was spreading.

“Indeed, I am.” I pulled myself out of my dumpster with a reasonable amount of grace. “What can I do for you?”

“My name is Alice. I was told that you have a reputation for not immediately dismissing things as being too stupid.”

It was around this time that I began to feel like the hard-boiled private dick, approached in his office by the sultry dame. Except in this case, I wasn’t a private dick, my office was a dumpster filled with used needles, and this dame wasn’t particularly sultry.

The thing about the dames who show up at private dicks’ offices is that they’re always lying. The story they feed the guy is always a tall tale designed to mislead the gumshoe in some fashion. I knew I was being played. This Alice chick thought I was some sort of gullible dupe.

“I think you may have been misinformed. I’ve found plenty of stupidity during my travels. May I ask why you find yourself searching for writers in alleyways in the middle of the night? Have you an emergency piece of journalism that needs writing?”

She gave me a satisfied smile, “As a matter of fact, I do. I am embroiled in a complicated battle of wits against formidable opponents, but I have every intention on winning, seeing as the stakes are a multi-million dollar inheritance. I need someone to accompany me across the country, chronicling the details of my quest. I’ll pay one hundred dollars a day, plus lodging. The job would begin immediately.”

The other thing about those lying dames is that the guy being played always take their case. Who was I to break such a hallowed tradition?

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Maxwell Flint and The Westwood Case – Chapter 1

My name is Maxwell Flint, and I am a hard man of letters.

For some, the American Dream is a family and a home. For some it is bedding 739 beautiful women within a set span of time. I endeavor to live a life of spectacle, and I endeavor to never work very hard. To me, the American Dream is elusive. As a hard man of letters, I am chasing it, and if I ever find it, I’ll rip out its fucking throat.

I was in high school when I discovered the works of Hunter S. Thompson, Doctor of Journalism. It changed my life. I suddenly realized that I could jot down a bunch of half-assed shit and call it journalism. I knew that I had found my calling.

It was in the course of compiling material for The Great American Road Novel that I came to discover The Secret of the Westwood Estate. Amongst select circles The Westwood Estate is something of a phantom, spoken of in hushed whispers. No two accounts seem to be the same, but what all accounts agreed upon is that the Westwood Estate is the greatest unclaimed fortune since the unclaimed estate of noted pirate Sir Francis Drake. At least, that’s what Alice had told me.

At the time I first became entangled in the silky web of The Westwood Case, I was killing time in Canton, Ohio. My car had been temporarily impounded, so I found myself making bed in the dumpster behind the blood bank. When I was rousted from my sleep the night in question, I expected to be hauled down to the police station yet again. Instead, I blearily faced Alice for the first time.

The woman staring down at me was not quite an attractive woman. She was slightly too scrawny, her eyes were slightly too far apart and it was obvious her parent’s weren’t able to afford braces when she was younger. Nonetheless, she carried herself with the confidence of one who is utterly beautiful.

“Maxwell Flint?” she enquired.

“Some call me that,” I said as I scrambled to my feet.

“Word around town is that you’re a hard man of letters.” It appeared my reputation was spreading.

“Indeed, I am.” I pulled myself out of my dumpster with a reasonable amount of grace. “What can I do for you?”

“My name is Alice. I was told that you have a reputation for not immediately dismissing as being too stupid.”

It was around this time that I began to feel like the hard-boiled private dick, approached in his office by the sultry dame. Except in this case, I wasn’t a private dick, my office was a dumpster filled with used needles, and this dame wasn’t particularly sultry.

The thing about the dames who show up at private dicks’ offices is that they’re always lying. The story they feed the guy is always a tall tale designed to mislead the gumshoe in some fashion. I knew I was being played. This Alice chick thought I was some sort of gullible dupe.

“I think you may have been misinformed. I’ve found plenty of stupidity during my travels. May I ask why you find yourself searching for writers in alleyways in the middle of the night? Have you an emergency piece of journalism that needs writing?”

She gave me a satisfied smile, “As a matter of fact, I do. I am embroiled in a complicated battle of wits against formidable opponents, but I have every intention on winning, seeing as the stakes are a multi-million dollar inheritance. I need someone to accompany me across the country, chronicling the details of my quest. I’ll pay one hundred dollars a day, plus lodging. The job would begin immediately.”

The other thing about those lying dames is that the guy being played always take their case. Who was I to break such a hallowed tradition?

If it weren’t for clearance sales, I wouldn’t own hardbacks

I’m back from a four-day turkey bender, and am reminded that working to make a lower middle-class living is teh suxor.

Meanwhile, my comic shop had a massive clearance sale, so I picked up a shitload of Alan Moore’s ABC comics. I’ve been immersed in these books all weekend. Man, comics don’t get better than Alan Moore.

If I ever spend a day getting high and reading comics, I’ll be sure to read Promethea on that day. The book is barely more than Alan Moore having a long, abstract conversation with himself about magic, which would probably be too dense, dry, and nutty to read if it weren’t for the art. Most of the book takes place in non-physical planes of existence, and J. H. Williams III provides some of the most beautiful and poetic visuals to ever grace a comic book. This book is not for everybody, but it is done very, very well.

On the other end of the spectrum is Tom Strong, aka Alan Moore does Doc Savage. This is Gee whiz comics of the first order. One story features Cowboys fighting giant ants in space. When people talk about “mad, beautiful ideas” this is what they mean.

America’s Best Comics, indeed!

Magic

The second time I met Domenic Squire was at one of Hsu’s parties. This was shortly after Billie and I had broken up. I was heading toward the patio, when Squire swooped down upon me. He was cradling a forty of malt liquor in his left arm and a beautiful young girl his right.

He seemed excited to be displeased to see me.  “Oh, it’s the art critic. This is my student, Chrissy. Chrissy, I’ve forgotten the art critic’s name.” Chrissy looked completely enthralled by Squire. I’d guess her to be about sixteen.

“I’m Craig,” I told the girl. “He’s teaching you poetry?”

“No,” she bubbled. “He’s going to teach me magic!”

Squire said, “Yeah. Lesson one is that it’s doubly magical in the ass.”

Chrissy’s face froze for a few long seconds. She finally muttered, “Fucker,” before running away, tears trailing down her face.

Squire winked at me and said, “Now, that’s magic.”

That was the first and last time I ever punched anybody in the face.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Magic

The second time I met Domenic Squire was at one of Hsu’s parties. This was shortly after Billie and I had broken up. I was heading toward the patio, when Squire swooped down upon me. He was cradling a forty of malt liquor in his left arm and a beautiful girl his right.

“Oh, it’s the art critic. This is my student, Chrissy. Chrissy, I’ve forgotten the art critic’s name.” Chrissy looked completely enthralled by Squire. She looked to be about sixteen.

“I’m Craig,” I told the girl. “He’s teaching you poetry?”

“No,” she bubbled. “He’s going to teach me magic!”

Squire said, “Yeah. Lesson one is that it’s doubly magical in the ass!”

Chrissy’s face froze for a few long seconds. She finally muttered, “Fucker,” before running away, tears trailing down her face.

Squire winked at me and said, “Now, that’s magic!”

That was the first and last time I ever punched anybody in the face.

Justice. Vengeance. Arseface.

Goddamn, I miss Preacher. Have you read it? Written by Garth Ennis, and illustrated by Steve Dillon, it was funny, juvenile, violent, heartfelt, thoughtful, and way, way over the top. It was, in it’s day, the best comic book in the market.

After Preacher wrapped up (with perhaps the best ending I’ve ever read), Transmetropolitan was there to fill the role of wacked-out gown-up serial novel masterpiece. But Transmet has been finished for years and it’s been years since I’ve had that one comic. The one that I look forward to ever month, the one I can point my non-comics reading friends towards, the one that couldn’t be done in any other medium. At this point, I have my doubts that there will ever be another one.

To love comics is to hate comics.

I don’t know what my THACO is.

When I was in high school, me and my fellow D&D playing friends had a conversation once where we discussed what character class everyone we knew would be. One of my friends said “Well, it’s obvious what class Isaac would be,” and everyone nodded sagely. It wasn’t obvious to me.

If I was a Barbarian, you’d tell me, right?

Rick

Rick didn’t feel like he was part of the world. It sounded strange in his head, but the thought was there, nonetheless. It felt as though he were the only solid thing. The rest of the world passed around him, without affecting him. It was as if he was a rock and the world were a river, flowing past him.

In the past year, much had flowed past him. Charlotte had flowed past, as Rick thought any sane woman should. Most of his friends were long gone, and it was probably a minor miracle that he still held his job. The only person who still tried to be in his life was his brother, Charlie.

Rick saw Charlie try to connect with him, try to be a good friend. Rick knew how hard he was making it, how hurt Charlie was. He didn’t care.  At least, he didn’t care enough to change his behavior.

Rick spent his spare time walking around the city. He would look at the buildings and trains and cars. He liked the rain and he like the trains. He had given his car to Charlie. He didn’t need it. He walked everywhere now.

He was dimly aware that he was depressed or in shock or some such. He didn’t care, such was the nature of the condition. He did idly wonder what had caused it and if it would ever change.

He no longer felt that his actions had consequences, because he didn’t care what happened. He had trouble focusing on the rare occasions that people would try to hold conversations with him.

And then he met a spunky girl who was smart and funny and pretty and didn’t play by society’s rules. The two of them quickly formed a bond and he helped him relearn how to enjoy life.

The End

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

Rick

Rick didn’t feel like he was part of the world. It sounded strange in his head, but the thought was there, nonetheless. It felt as though he were the only solid thing. The rest of the world passed around him, without affecting him. It was as if he was a rock and the world were a river, flowing past him.

In the past year, much had flowed past him. Charlotte had flowed past, as Rick thought any sane woman should. Most of his friends were long gone, and it was probably a minor miracle that he still held his job. The only person who still tried to be in his life was his brother, Charlie.

Rick saw Charlie try to connect with him, try to be a good friend. Rick knew how hard he was making it, how hurt Charlie was. He didn’t care, at least, he didn’t care enough to change his behavior.

Rick spent his spare time walking around the city. He would look at the buildings and trains and cars. He liked the rain and he like the trains. He had given his car to Charlie. He didn’t need it. He walked everywhere now.

He was dimly aware that he was depressed or in shock or some such. He didn’t care, such was the nature of the condition. He did idly wonder what had caused it and if it would ever change.

He no longer felt that his actions had consequences, because he didn’t care what happened. He had trouble focusing on the rare occasions that people would try to hold conversations with him.

And then he met a spunky girl who was smart and funny and pretty and didn’t play by society’s rules. The two of them quickly formed a bond and he helped him relearn how to enjoy life.

The End

Such a thing as “too awesome?”

If we take it as a given that set A = {Robots, Ninjas, Dinosaurs, Zombies, Monkeys, Pretty Girls and Pirates} contains 90% of the awesomeness in the world, does it not follow that any serious work of fiction, or indeed, of non-fiction, need only to contain one element of set A, if not all elements of said set in order to attain awesomeness? And if the mere inclusion of an element of Set A automatically grants awesomeness to a work, and if the elements of set A are common, easily accessible knowledge, does it not follow that anyone striving to achieve awesomeness, can and will?

This line of thinking, I fear has led to a cultural environment overrun with awesomeness. This, I feel, is unhealthy for our culture, because, to paraphrase Brad Bird, stating ‘everything is awesome’ is just another way of stating ‘nothing is.’ This surfeit of awesomeness runs contrary to the properties of rarity inherent to any working definition of awesomeness. It seems foregone that a preponderance of works containing awesomeness leads to a devaluation of the value of awesomeness.

So my question is this: Do these forces lead to an overall drop in the value of awesomeness, or does the relative value of elements containing awesomeness not found in set A (such as rock music and gun battles inside of helicopters) increase in response?

Back and forth. Forever.

I watch a fair number of independent movies, by which I mean movies distributed by either Miramax or Sony Classic Pictures. There’s this movie I’ve seen, wherein an ensemble of desperately lonely, damaged eccentrics try to connect with others. Have you seen it? Me, You, and Everyone We Know is, I am pleased to say, not that movie.

After years of Todd Solondz, Wes Anderson, and P. T. Anderson, I’ve come to expect a requisite amount of painful awkwardness and pitiable losers in my indie ensemble flick. When this film was flagged as rated R for “strong sexual content involving children,” I assumed I could expected a standard array of despair, desperation, and discomfort. Miranda July, the film’s director completely floored me by producing a sweet, rambling movie about people you end up really liking.

This is a movie about lonely losers trying to connect, but the focus is on the connections, not on the lonliness. The characters consistently avoid the clichés, never fall into standard kooky behavior, aren’t pitiable, and when you think you know where things are heading, they surprise you.

I heartily recommend this movie. It is funny, tender, and beautiful. I am excited to see what July makes next.

“Everything is True, Even False Things”

When I discovered the internet, back in ‘96, it was the most magical thing I had ever found. My impression of the ‘net was that it was a big clubhouse for geeks. Commerce had not yet spoiled thing by making it useful. The best utility on the web in these wooly days was the ability to wave to invisible cats.
I had stumbled upon a sprawling virtual community populated by people as dorky as I. The culture was founded in philosophy, math, and jokes, of the esoteric, absurd, and bad varieties. In those days, everyone on the internet was a college student, or so it felt like. Much like college, the internet was a safe bubble, housing a utopia of internal logic, given formed by a large concentration of knowledge mixed with a small dose of practicality.
These were good days. I was a young ‘un in high school, and this was my first real exposure to other geeks. For the first time I was encountering other people who read Vonnegut, and watched Babylon 5, and thought math was funny. And amonst this lot, there were lots of Discordians.
If you don’t know, Discordianism is either a joke masquerading as a religion, or a religion masquerading as a joke. It encourages absurdism, libertarianism, freethinking and irreverence. Borrowing heavily from Taoism and Greek mythology, the one-sentence summary of Discordian philosophy would be, “Rather than valuing order as more virtuous than chaos, society should value creativity over destruction.”

Discordianism and myself turned out to make a very close match. For several years I identified myself as a Discordian, half in jest, but half not. My Discordian sect overran my high school’s Bible study group, leading to some great afternoons of high weirdness. I spread the word of five. And I belived in Eris.
Time passed, and I drifted away from the bubble in which I had found these memes. I stopped calling myself a Discordian and started calling myself an Atheist. The world started to make me angry, not amused. There isn’t enough unreality in my diet these days. I’ve become a grownup. This is my ongoing conflict. This is the Curse of Greyface.
At any rate, I was giddy with glee the other day, when I rediscovered this treasure: http://www.kbuxton.com/discordia/discordianquotes.html A thirty-seven page list of unatributed, context stripped Discordian quotes.
There is a lot of funny stuff in there, but the real joy is reading the whole list, en masse, letting one absurd non sequitor spill into another. They blur together and form a latticework of amused, dorky weirdness. It captures and nails to the wall the essence of what it was like to be weird and on the internet in the mid-nineties. It is, simply put, beautiful.

Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.

“Everything is True, Even False Things”

When I discovered the internet, back in ’96, it was the most magical thing I had ever found. My impression of the ‘net was that it was a big clubhouse for geeks. Commerce had not yet despoiled it, by making it useful. The best utility on the web in these wooly days was the ability to wave to invisible cats.
I had stumbled upon a sprawling virtual community populated by people as dorky as I. The culture was founded in philosophy, math, and jokes, of the esoteric, absurd, and bad varieties. In those days, everyone on the internet was a college student, or so it felt like. Much like college, the internet was a safe bubble, housing a utopia of internal logic, given formed by a large concentration of knowledge mixed with a small dose of practicality.
These were good days. I was a young ‘un in high school, and this was my first real exposure to other geeks. For the first time I was encountering other people who read Vonnegut, and watched Babylon 5, and thought math was funny. And amonst this lot, there were lots of Discordians.
If you don’t know, Discordianism is either a joke masquerading as a religion, or a religion masquerading as a joke. It encourages absurdism, libertarianism, freethinking and irreverence. Borrowing heavily from Taoism and Greek mythology, the one sentence summary of Discordian philosophy would be, “Rather than valuing order as more virtuous than chaos, society should value creativity over destruction.”

Discordianism and myself turned out to be a very close match. For several years I identified myself as a Discordian, half in jest, but half not. My Discordian sect overran my high school’s Bible study group, leading to some great afternoons of high weirdness. I spread the word of five. And I belived in Eris.
Time passed, and I drifted away from the bubble in which I had found these memes. I stopped calling myself a Discordian and started calling myself an Atheist. The world started to make me angry, not amused. There isn’t enough unreality in my diet these days. I’ve become a grownup. This is my ongoing conflict. This is the Curse of Greyface.
At any rate, I was giddy with glee the other day, when I rediscovered this treasure: http://www.kbuxton.com/discordia/discordianquotes.html A thirty-seven page list of unatributed, context stripped Discordian quotes.
There is a lot of funny stuff in there, but the real joy is reading the whole list, en masse, letting one absurd non sequitor spill into another. They blur together and form a latticework of amused, dorky weirdness. It captures and nails to the wall the essence of what it was like to be weird and on the internet in the mid-nineties. It is, simply put, beautiful.