Monday, October 11, 2021

Living In Joe Biden's America

*Your washing machine breaks, so you have to order a new one, but there is a one-month back order before it can be delivered, so you have to go to the laundromat in the meantime, where you go and the change machine isn't working because there is a shortage of coins in the U.S. so you have to go home and go back the next day once you scrape up enough coins around the house.

*The government wants to give your five-year-old a vaccine (even though his risk of dying from the disease is lower than his risk of getting hit by lightning) that countries such as Iceland have banned.  You wonder how American anatomy is different than Icelandic anatomy, then you realize that it's just American politics is bought by Big Pharma.

*The school district makes your five-year-old wear a mask, which is actually progress because last year when they panicked they just closed the schools entirely.  Meanwhile, virus rates rise and fall regardless of mask mandates (showing they don't matter, so they should be dropped).

*The library makes you wear a mask to go inside, which is actually progress because last year when they panicked they just closed the library entirely.  It was optional, but when social pressure didn't work, they just mandated it again.

*Your car is approaching 200,000 miles and rather than put more money into it, you decide to buy a new one, but there are no new cars to buy because the supply chain is broken and there is a computer chip shortage due to the virus panic.  When a car does show up, the dealers want to change 5 grand above MSRP due to "market fluctuation".  You decide to just take the bus, where they require you to wear a mask that does little to nothing to prevent disease but makes public health officials feel that they can do something about something they cannot.

*You work remotely but you have to either get a rushed vaccine whose long-term health effects are unknown or you have to stick a Q-tip up your nose twice a week to prove you don't have the virus, even though the tests are notoriously buggy with false negatives and false positives and you are never near any coworkers or customers whom you might theoretically infect.  Or you can quit, which just contributes to the staffing issues plaguing the economy.

*You have to take a flight, but your flight gets canceled because the president is trying to force airline workers to get the vaccine, so they just keep calling off work to protest.

*Your elderly parents get hungry on a long car trip and want to stop for a snack, but the fast food restaurants all close early due to staffing shortages or only have the drive-thrus open and the lines are too long.

*Your elderly parents watch the network news which just promotes the party line on the virus panic, regardless of facts, punctuated by commercial after commercial for Big Pharma products, terrifying them.

*Your elderly parents get the vaccine and then you have to take them to the emergency room for blood clots and swelling.  The emergency room is short-staffed because vaccine mandates have caused some health care workers to quit.  Some of their friends die or get serious illnesses such as a form of blood cancer after getting the vaccine.

*The president nearly falls down the stairs of Air Force one because he can't see his feet because he is wearing a mask.

*You drive through suburban and rural areas and see "Trump 2024" signs, as well as signs and flags wanting to have sex with the president, though they mean that figuratively.

*Real problems in the country go unaddressed as the politicians spend their time fighting over a virus that is a manageable medical issue and would have been on page 28 of The New York Times in 1969.

*People who are vaccinated get sick and die from the virus, yet when people get mad, they seem to get mad at people who don't want the vaccine, but if you are vaccinated and supposedly protected from a disease, how does anyone else's vaccination status actually affect you?

*Democrats give up the logical stronghold of "pro-choice" and declare that people can be told what to do with their bodies, then don't understand why the pro-life side of the abortion debate starts gaining headway and why they can't see that there's a difference (because there isn't).

*Everything in the grocery store and everywhere else costs more or else comes in smaller containers (when it's in stock at all) due to inflation picking up because of all the free money sloshing around the economy, so the money in your hard-earned savings now is now worth less.

*The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices doesn't do what the President wants, so the CDC Director follows the politics and overrules them, then tells everyone they should follow the science.

*Media pundits and politicians tell you incorrect things, then accuse anyone who corrects them of spreading misinformation and try to get that person censored, fired, and so forth.

*The Republican Party was on the edge of extinction, but now it looks like they will return to power for an entire generation and do all sorts of dumb things like force women who had abortions to bury their fetuses because they are right on one issue and The Democrats can't admit they were wrong on it and keep doubling down on it instead.

*You post a complaint about how living in the country seems like living the final days of the Soviet Union, complete with the corporate media serving the role of Pravda, but Big Tech censors it since leaders don't like to be told when they are wrong, and will even double down on mistakes and kill people rather than admit they were wrong and finally do the right things.

Welcome to living in Joe Biden's America, where everything is a pain in the ass.  Trump is a con artist, but it's enough to make one nostalgic . . .

If you need to laugh, so you don't cry, then please read Edna's Employment Agency.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

New Song!: "History Of Our Home"

This song was inspired by having places reoccur in my dreams. Some of them were places that I had lived, while others were not, but it was interesting that I had a bit of dream geography to return to each night. It got me thinking about how we internalize the external and carry around memories of places where we lived.  The lyrics are below.  It's the same deal as always.  If you like a song, then feel free to cover it if you're in a band or whatnot.  I love to hear covers of my songs, so please let me know about your version.  If you start making money, then send me a check/we can work out a deal.  Similarly, if you want to use a song for your Youtube video or whatnot, then just let me know.  It's usually fine by me unless it's a commercial product or whatnot (and then it's likely fine as well--I just want my cut).  Find out first though.  Write me at wredfright ATATAT yahoo DOTT com.

Dandelions are growing in the front yard.
In the backyard is buried a cat.
When we moved in, we found a slide projector in the basement with some slides from the '70s, how about that?
Grandma's got a painting of a flower hanging in the hall.
In a doorway, there are some smudged pencil marks.  They were a growth chart; how the kid's grown tall.

The history of our home is written on the walls of our hearts.

In the living room is the beat-up yellow chair my wife always complained about.
It's still here, but she's long gone.
In the kitchen, there isn't an inch of counter space that Grandpa hasn't put something on.
Over the driveway, the neighbor's mulberry tree grows.
Don't park under the branches unless you want your car to have a purple stain.
I gather the berries and make pies, so I don't cut them down or complain.

Some places reoccur in my dreams.
Night after night, I walk their halls and climb their stairs.
Though I haven't lived in them for years, it's nice to know that inside they are still there.
We change the places where we live, but in return the places change us.
A place can be abandoned or demolished, but inside us it can be as it once was.

Written October 2021
Recorded October 2021

Want more Wred Fright music?  Order the Yeast? 7" here!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cuyahoga County's Creepiest City?

Cleveland Magazine often includes bonus magazines, usually puff pieces for area industry and municipalities.  A recent one is for Independence, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio USA.  Usually, these are pretty boring reads, basically press releases for the city as it tries to compete against others for residents, businesses, and so forth.

As an aside, my gut instinct is that these magazines seldom accomplish little aside from wasting some taxpayer dollars and employing a few writers and graphic designers briefly.  I didn't know much about Independence other than they don't like homeless people, so I suppose the magazine was informative.

Anyway, I found it surprising that Independence brags about being a surveillance camera police state basically.  Apparently, they've ringed the town with security cameras and license plate readers and run everyone's license plate through a national crime database.  What's not astounding is that they're doing this.  Plenty of other cities do this as well, a practice that does raise civil liberty issues (for an overview, check out https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/automatic-license-plate-readers-legal-status-and-policy-recommendations).  What's astounding is that the city, instead of keeping their 1984-style creepiness on the down low, tries to use it as a selling point to attract businesses and residents to the city.  Maybe there are people out there who are comforted by the fact that the police will know every time they go to the grocery store, but I am not one of them.  Despite the recovery of stolen cars trumpeted in the article, I suspect this is overall a waste of money that provides a patina of security rather than the real thing.  While the police and their computers are busy scanning every car on the road, criminals are probably busy stealing and switching license plates before they pass through town to commit another crime.

But if you really want to live in a dystopian, panopticon suburb, then this may be the place for you!

For more fun with surveillance society, check out my novel Blog Love Omega Glee!

Friday, October 1, 2021

What Happened To The ACLU? What Happened To American Liberalism?

 

I got a letter asking for money from me from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  I have been a member of the ACLU for years, but I ripped up the contents of the letter, stuffed them in the envelope, wrote the above message on the back of the envelope, and mailed it back to them.

With luck, they'll get the hint and take me off their mailing list, or, better yet, reconsider their cowardly and erroneous support for vaccine mandates.  I was aghast when I read the following Glenn Greenwald article:  "The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics".  I actually went and checked it out myself, and yes, after years of defending people and their rights to make their own healthcare decisions, the ACLU seems to be so scared of SARS Jr. that they abandoned their principles in the manner that Greenwald describes

You can argue that the ACLU themselves are not the writers of the article, only a pair of their senior lawyers, but it's fairly clear that supporting vaccine mandates is a de facto position now of the organization, as the following article explains:  "Why the ACLU Flip-Flopped on Vaccine Mandates".  In the past, the organization seemed to stick to their civil liberty principles regardless of how unpopular their lawsuits and campaigns were at the time.  You can see a timeline of the ACLU's fine work here:  "The Successes of the American Civil Liberties Union".  They supported Communists, African-Americans, abortionists, pornographers, Nazis, and other minorities from the tyranny of popular opinion.

That's why it is so disappointing to see the ACLU now play the role of the bully, seemingly only because their staff members are scared of a virus that, while annoying and even deadly, clearly is not The Black Plague.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Black Plague, here's a primer:  https://www.history.com/topics/middle-ages/black-death.  Basically, in 5 years, it killed a third of Europe.

Now that's a pandemic.

SARS Jr. (I call COVID-19 SARS-Jr. because that's basically what it is:  "The Naming System Behind SARS-CoV-2"), by contrast, doesn't seem to be making the same dent in world population.  In 2020, world population was estimated at 7,794,798,739.  Now, it's estimated at 7,896,921,101 and counting (you can follow the fun at https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/#pastfuture).

So the virus is nasty, but there are more people on earth in 2021 than there were last year, so it's not that nasty that we need to abandon all sense and principle, and I am not sure if anything is worth abandoning sense and principle.  Panics, and this is a panic, usually end badly.  We're already seeing the effects with people fighting among one another, blaming one another for illnesses and deaths (guess what, it's a virus that's responsible, and not one another--OK, if you're a conspiracy theorist, you can blame Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszek, Fort Detrick, The Wuhan Institute Of Virology, and everyone else who likes to fund and conduct gain of function research in coronaviruses:  "Rep. Roy Demands Pelosi Open Investigations On COVID Origins").  We've all seen nasty sideeffects from the attempts to stop the spread of the virus, whether medically, economically, and personally.

One of them is now the ACLU losing all sense.  As Alex Berenson has bravely reported (they threw him off Twitter because the facts, studies, and observations he notes do not fit the party line), the Sars Jr. vaccines are not as effective as people hoped they would be and they have harmful sideeffects and consequences.  Given that situation, it's odd that there is such a push to get everyone vaccinated.  If Biden and the others pushing vaccine mandates thought the vaccines worked, why would they care so much about others making different health decisions as the vaccinated would have nothing to fear from anyone unvaccinated?  Even Noam Chomsky, historically a smart guy, can't seem to grasp this point.  Greenwald again had an excellent article about this entitled:  "An NBA Star and New York's Governor Show That Liberal COVID Discourse is Devoid of Science".

Liberals are all concerned for the moment about protecting the right to choose when it comes to abortion, and I'm with them; that's a big decision about one's own body and it should be left to the individual whose body is in question.  But the same goes for the vaccine.  I guess when it comes to killing babies it's "my body, my choice", but for anything else, it's "my body, Biden's choice, ACLU's choice, your governor's choice, your school board's choice, and so on and so forth").   

Which brings me to my second point:  what happened to liberalism?  What happened to the ACLU seems to have happened to liberals across the board.  For example, I got a fundraising email from Democratic Congressional Representative Tim Ryan, who is running for Senate in Ohio.  He discloses that he is fully vaccinated but he has the virus.  Rather than blame Big Pharma for making a rushed, crappy product and Big Media and Big Government for foisting it on him, he writes, "And I’m grateful to have the protection of a safe and effective vaccine that's kept my case fairly mild."

I guess Ryan is trying not to get me to give his campaign money by writing something as stupid as that.  Ryan is young for a politician (48 years or so) and seemingly healthy (he does yoga and whatnot), so he would likely have had a mild case of the virus even if he didn't have the vaccine.  Like most nasty viruses, it hits the old and sick the hardest.  And guess what, no one is going to live forever anyway.  If the virus doesn't get me when I am old and weak, then something else will.  I just hope I don't have to live in misery because public health officials and politicians want to go on power trips trying to do something about something they are powerless to do anything about.  Viruses spread.  At this point, the genie is not going back in the bottle.  All they can do is make other aspects of life miserable.  In the past, this virus would have been kept to a manageable medical matter and not something that is causing so much collateral damage in other aspects of life.  Today, our leaders are morons, so we get two years and counting of dumbness.

As a warning to liberals, you're opening the door to con artist Trump's return and Republicans taking over Congress.  They're wrong on nearly every other issue, but this is the issue that currently affects everyone's lives most directly, and you're on the wrong side of it.  Don't get involved.  If people want to get the vaccine, then let them get the vaccine.  If they want to wear masks, then let them wear masks.  But don't force people to do things that have been demonstrated to not work, despite every little doctor and politician on the news claiming the opposite (makes me wonder if these people know how to do math and logic because the virus keeps going regardless of these efforts, even in localities with very different approaches to things).  When you shove unwanted medicine down a population's throat, they're going to eventually shove something back that you don't want.  This article on Biden's growing unpopularity is probably just the top of the roll down the hill:  "Biden's Slide With Key Voters: Momentary Blip or Danger Sign?".  It's not too late for liberals and the ACLU to gather some courage and go back and find their principles.  2022 and 2024 are still a ways away.  Biden should have just declared victory over the virus early on and moved on.  Now it's his problem and not Trump's.  Banning people for expressing dissident views doesn't exactly help your side's credibility (the ACLU has been fairly silent on these big tech free speech issues as well, leaving it to The Republicans, who a generation ago wanted to censor information about sexuality); it's like you're just conceding the debate by trying to stifle the other side (along those lines, I was particularly disturbed by Elizabeth Warren's attempt to pressure Amazon to censor Berenson's books because Berenson's stuff seems to hold up; unlike most of the other American reporters who read press releases and lack critical thinking skills--watch the network nightly news and count how many Big Pharma commercials air for fun--when I factcheck Berenson his analysis bears out).  Even if Berenson were dead wrong, it's not for Warren to pick what I or anyone else can read.  She can stick to picking her own reading.

But since she's opened the door to having others pick what one reads, then I suggest she start rereading The Bill Of Rights she swore to uphold.  Apparently, she needs some remediation there.  

And so does the ACLU. 

New James Nowlan Film!

 

One of my favorite contemporary novelists, James Nowlan, also makes films.  The previous one was about a sadistic game show host who captured a number of people to force them into a reality show competition in which most wouldn't survive.  It was in French, a language which I do not understand very well, but I still dug it (I think I eventually saw a version with English subtitles).  His latest film is a short, and it's in English (mostly anyway).  Check it out if you get a chance; it's more fun than most of the latest stuff being hyped on tv, movies, and streaming services.

For more Nowlan, check out The Underground Literary Alliance anthology!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

drinkdrankdrunk: "Iowa Party Report" by The Midnight Rider

i’m 48 and live in the middle-of-nowhere, so don’t expect this paragraph to be a pittsburgh rave with a topless rubdown rooms and a dude in a bunny suit giving out free bumps of special k (aka horse tranquilizers) . . . this is also where i live/used to work and a smart dog doesn’t shit where he eats . . . the cubs just won the world series, so a dental hygienist party bus might be a good place to start . . . i’m pretty popular at my dentist’s office--i’ve gone to a couple plays with my (married) dentist and the hygienists follow me around the office like i’m charles manson . . . there was even a day when i put on scrubs and they gave me a dental tool and i pretended to operate on an unsuspecting assburger’s g (who is a patient at the same office) . . . a couple years ago, hygienist d (who is a huge stoner) came into the room and asked if i wanted to ride on the office party bus to the cubs’ game the following weekend . . . she said the receptionist at the front desk was going too, and i knew j because she used to be the athletic department secretary at shady state (before she got fired for complaining to the lesbian vice president that the lesbian athletic director was having an affair with the lesbian softball coach--who just happened to be a’s sister) . . . i had never been to wrigley field before, so i immediately said yes . . . i guess i should also mention that the majority of professional sporting events that i have attended over the years have either been in washington, dc (where everyone talks on their cell phones and leaves early) or cleveland (where everyone complains about the price of the tickets, parking, and food) . . . i was hoping that chicago would be a good, ole-fashioned drunken orgy, and i certainly wasn’t disappointed . . . i didn’t necessarily know what the people on the bus would be like, so i made the decision to be low profile (and for me that’s pain pills and bloody marys) . . . when i arrived, a section of lumpy rednecks were already half-drunk and singing “cubs gonna win today” . . . j waved me over to my seat and immediately pulled a giant white baggie out of her bag--for a second i thought she had a fucking kilo of cocaine, but it turned out to be white russians that she planned to sneak into the game with her . . . after about 45 minutes, the bus driver pulled over and got on the loudspeaker to announce that “if anyone else grabbed a woman on the way to the bathroom” that he was gonna kick them off the bus and they’d have to walk home--and then the food fight started . . . the redneck behind me knew that i was a professor, so every time he threw food towards the front of the bus he would “accidentally” elbow me in the back-of-the-head and say “sorry, professor” . . . some dude with a harelip threw up in the aisle, and another dude asked me if i wanted to buy weed (which i did a few days later in a grocery store parking lot because i really didn’t want the fucker to know where i lived) . . . wrigleyville was nuts as well . . . we went to a bar called the cubbyhole both before/after the game, and there were people passed out on the floor both times . . . did the cubs win the game?--how the fuck would i know?; i was just as hammered as they were . . . on the way home, d-the-hygienist got in a screaming match with her redneck husband for the bus to hear . . . d would scream: “tell ‘em why we can’t get pregnant” and her husband would yell back even louder: “you married up and i married down”--to the point where d started punching him in the face until her friends pulled her off . . . and then it was over . . . i’ve never been to another cubs game and i don’t think i want to--the dental hygienist bus was everything i’d hoped for and more . . . other memorable parties?--well, there was the “bluetick coonhound graduation party” at this redneck girl’s parents’ house on the mississippi river . . . j2 had been a student in my technical writing class--she had big tits and liked to drive 4-wheelers, but that’s all i really knew about her when she invited me to her graduation party . . . it was way out in the country, and you had to drive down a dirt road for the last 3-4 miles until you hit the river . . . her parents’ house wasn’t that impressive, but i could see some weird taj mahal looking structure peeking out from behind . . . it turns out that her parents bred bluetick coonhounds for a living, and the fucking dog house was nicer than the main house . . . there were also more dogs at the party than people . . . there were kegs, horseshoe pits, and a hot/little redhead from the track team that had been in my film class whom i chased all night (i didn’t know it at the time, but a2 was already pregnant by some blockhead on the track team) . . . towards the end of the night (and after smoking a lot of weed with current/former students), we wound up playing hide 'n' seek in a graveyard that paralleled the river . . . i kept trying to “catch” a2, but she would always scream uncomfortably (almost as if i were hurting the baby or some shit) . . . by the end of the evening, i had scaled a fence and was sleeping in a pen between two (rather smelly) bluetick coonhounds--it kinda reminded me of a virginia field party when i was 16 . . . next up: before i ever hooked up with a, i got invited to a party at her house by the 300-lb baseball coach (who was her roommate along with a’s sister) . . . as my luck would have it, a wasn’t even there that night because she had to work (and obviously i wanted to hang out with her over the baseball coach or the posse of butch lesbians who were always trying to have sex with her sister) . . . i arrived after midnight in the middle of a driving thunderstorm . . . the party was supposed to be in the backyard, but because of the rain, it had mostly moved onto the long/extended back porch . . . after a few minutes, i realized that the baseball coach and i were the only men at the party . . . after a few more minutes, i realized that every female in attendance was a lesbian (and soaking wet) . . . and when lesbians are drunk/wet, they start giggling and removing articles of clothing . . . and as the baseball coach and i concentrated on talking about hunting or fishing, i noticed more-and-more bare lesbian breasts on the porch . . . soon there were squeals of delight as two chunky soft ballers started scissoring each other in a dark corner of the porch . . . i think they all still had their pants on, but a scissoring frenzy had begun with a’s lookalike sister smack dab in the middle of the pile . . . the baseball coach and i focused even harder on “baseball”, but dear lord, it’s hard not to stare/drool when the 2008 lesbian olympics are taking place at your feet . . . i waited around until 2 a.m., but i don’t think a ever came home that night . . . the baseball coach and i never spoke of the lesbian olympics again and he never invited me to another party . . . i think a’s sister saw me staring at her out of the corner of her eye (and on top of the pile), and it didn’t bother her in the least . . . the final party entry has to do with a rock n’ roll fantasy of mine: partying with a rockstar . . . rock n’ roll shows are few and far between in central iowa, so i was stoked when old student l asked if i wanted to see np with him and another kid (who looks like rocky from the rocky horror picture show) in rock island . . . we picked up a quarter of weed on the way, but no one remembered to bring a bowl . . . we stopped at a quickie mart for rolling papers, and i rolled them (rather poorly) on the dashboard . . . it was a small club in rock island, and i didn’t necessarily believe that we’d get to go backstage to party with np . . . l has since become the guitar tech for the o, and he thought we had a pretty good chance . . . the show itself was kickass, and i noticed that l went outside a couple times to smoke with the np tech guy . . . after the show was over, l came over and asked if we wanted to go backstage to party with b and r . . . the joints that i had rolled had been in my pocket all evening, and i told l that i wasn’t sure if they would light . . . he said, no worries:  that if all else failed that we’d smoke out of a can (and i thought to myself: there’s no way that the lead singer of np is gonna smoke weed with me out of a can) . . . when we got upstairs, r (who has been married to b for over 15 years) noticed how good-looking rocky was and immediately scuttled him off to another room . . . i tried to make small talk with b about professional wrestling and his southern roots, but b mainly just wanted to do some drugs . . . the ratty joints weren’t working, so l poked some holes in a beer can and we were indeed smoking weed out of a can with the lead singer of np . . . i don’t remember much of what b said but he reminded me a bit of my friend mt (the lead singer of cleveland’s kth) . . . b was obviously exhausted from the show/the road, and it seemed as if there was someplace he’d rather be . . . most strangers would be intrigued to smoke weed out of a can with a long-haired english professor and his even longer-haired student, but rockstar b’s brain had already checked out and was on the road to omaha 

The Midnight Rider prefers to remain mysterious.  You could visit his website, but he won't say where it is.  You could read his books, but he won't say what they are.  You could email him, but I'm pretty sure spam@gofuckyourself.gov is not a real email address.  In a world where everyone is repping their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, sex tapes, line of clothing, new microbrew, virus panic vaccine status, and overall brand, I find that refreshing.  I am happy to have the Rider ride on drinkdrankdrunk.

Monday, September 6, 2021

New Wred Fright Album!

So I took the tracks I've been rerecording over the past year and turned them into an album.  I called it Severe Platter Damage because they are kind of noisy.  It's also a bit of a joke because the songs are older, and severe platter damage is a term used in data recovery to describe the worst possible condition a hard drive can be in and still be at least partially recoverable.  I think the tracks work well together, and I tried to sequence them in a way that works.  I thought about mastering the tracks so the volume was more even, but I kind of liked the wild and varied nature of the original recordings, so I let them be.  It also fits the spirit of the album title.  I'm not sure if Soundcloud will let you download the tracks from the playlist, but they are all available individually there as well, so you can download them and make a MP3 playlist if you wanted to.  I'm also open to anyone reviewing the album (please just send me a link so I can see what you think).  I doubt this will be pressed on vinyl, but you're welcome to burn a copy on cd for yourself if you want to or copy it onto cassette if you're into the whole retro thing.  For vinyl, a record company would have to step up as I am still selling copies of a record I pressed in 1994, so that's enough for me (I was sold out of them, but then a friend found a small treasure trove of them in his closet).  I'll probably start another album of songs next year, but for now it's time to turn back to writing.  I'd be fine with playing a show or two, but these days everyone has to show their health records to get into a concert or something, and I just think that's creepy, so I don't think it's likely I'll get invited to play anywhere anytime soon, or ever again.  I only play guitar and sing when I play, so it wouldn't sound like the album anyway, and I don't see myself getting a backing band anytime soon, or ever as well.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the album/playlist and have fun rocking out to it.  It certainly doesn't sound like much else around these days, but given what passes for music these days, people may not like that.  Maybe you will though.

To hear more music, get the Yeast? 7".

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

"Earful" Video!

 

This may be the last video for a while as I need to turn my attention to other matters.  Don't worry though as more music is coming, and more videos down the line.  This one was fun to make, though I couldn't persuade my dad to appear in it with his hearing aid ear.  Well, maybe another time.  Of course, ears are the motif, along with speaking.  I like the bees and flowers shot here.  I saw a really cool lightning bug/bee insect (a lightning bug and a yellowjacket had sex maybe and had a baby?  I don't know, but that's what the thing looked like), but it was after I was done with the video, so I didn't record it (fortunately, this guy did:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe21MD1vtns), so I'm not the only one who's seen this crazy bug (if you know what it is, please drop a line).

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

New Recording!: "Earful"

This song is probably more identified with The GoGoBots, but I wrote it while in Yeast? and Yeast? recorded it.  After this one, we'll be firmly in The Hot Glue Guns (protoGoGoBots) and GoGoBots era.  I think I wrote it about a friendship which was decaying but then turned it into more of a portrait of a romantic relationship decaying.  It wasn't autobiographical as I was quite happy with the romantic relationship I was in at the time, but it did become a bit prophetic that way eventually.  Initially, the chorus was "Why do you tell me things I don't want to hear?" but that seemed too whiny, so I reversed the pronouns by the time The GoGoBots played it, and that is how it has stayed over the years (of course, just like nearly anytime someone tells you that it's them and not you, they're generally fibbing; it's usually you).  For the recording, I didn't screw up and have to dedicate two tracks to an instrument, so I celebrated by having two weird instruments.  For the first, I used a pipe organ drone underneath the singing, and for the second, I did some background vocals by yelling them across the room at the microphone (an earful, you know).  The recording came out pretty well.  It has the usual background hum from using a cheap Radio Shack microphone circa 1999, but I always liked bands such as Pavement and Guided By Voices, so a little extra noise doesn't bother me.  Maybe someday, I'll shell out for a good microphone.  I might take some of these rerecorded tracks and put them together for an album of sorts.  I think there's enough tracks I like now and which seem to go together.  I doubt I'll do vinyl; it'll probably just be a Soundcloud playlist or something, but it will be fun to make a collection of them and debate different track orders and stuff.  Anyway, hope you enjoy listening and as I did recording.

To hear more music, get the Dick Bennett ep.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

"Bebopped" Video!

 

For a song based on a dream, I wanted to use some dreamlike images, so this is a strange video.  There are cat buddies, Miles Davis albums, Lego projectors, barber poles, crickets, a Philip Larkin essay, and more oddities.  I almost got a shot of a coyote, but he or she was camerashy and slipped off into the woods before I could get any good footage.  The weird bug is a stink bug.  Very cute, but apparently a pain for a garden, so I had to deport him to the woods and away from the mulberry tree.  

On another note, it looks like Google ended their Google Reader feed.  I can still get to individual blogs, but it no longer displays the latest posts in one handy feed.  Some of the blogs I follow haven't posted in years, so it's no great loss, but I did enjoy keeping up with the more consistent blogs I followed.  I will try to stop by once in a while.  Please do the same if you got hit by the same bit of "progress".  Google's free, so I can't much complain, but the Internet seems to be getting a little crappier with all the censorship and spying lately and the progress which isn't progress (for example, I gave up selling on Amazon because it wasn't worth the hassle when I could just sell on eBay and elsewhere without having to constantly contact customer service and go around with them for days just to list a book for sale--and the only reason I used Amazon was that I could list the books quickly in the past.  It seemed as if they were trying to shake out the smaller sellers by design, though they claimed they were just trying to improve the selling experience--I guess giving both buyers and sellers fewer choices is an improvement when one wears monopoly glasses).  At this rate, I may just end up going offline and doing zines again (assuming the post office still exists by then).  Ha!  With luck, the Internet will spin itself a better Web again because it used to be really great before it got all Big Brother creepy. 

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

New Recording!: "Bebopped"

I guess I wrote this while Yeast? was still a band, but I always associate it with the GoGoBots because I don't think Yeast? ever played it.  If I remember correctly, I had a dream that I was playing in Miles Davis's band, which you can probably guess doesn't go real well.  I must have read an article about Davis that evening or something where, later in his career, he got mad if players played in the bebop style.  For the weird instrument, I used the horn setting on the keyboard and "blew" some notes somewhat randomly through the song. Without a real bass, I had the guitar play the bassline in a surf guitar way, and used the bass on the keyboard to emphasize certain notes.  The drumming sounds a bit mad.  I do like that blasted out drum sound (The Flaming Lips seem to also at times, so I am not alone in that).  For the break, I channel a Pussy Galore take on "Love Supreme" by John Coltrane.  I had fun rerecording this.  It's not a song that I play often, but it's enjoyable when I do.

And I do like that bebop shit!

To hear more music, get the Dick Bennett ep.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

"Penny Dreadful" Video!

 
The broken camcorder finally proved too temperamental to work with, so I shot the footage on the good old digital camera.  The results are probably better overall, but the zoom action is not quite so smooth.  It fit the rhythm here of the song, so it works here.  Since the song is about a kid who likes to read science fiction, I shot footage of my kiddo, comics books, and a Stephen King novel (the sci-fi purists, now grunting that I used the term "sci-fi" will have to forgive me for not shooting stacks of Isaac Asimov novels instead, but I didn't have any on hand).  For the other footage, nature seemed to volunteer this time between the rainbow and the lightning bugs.  As always, making the video was fun.  Hope you enjoy it as well!

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

New Recording!: "Penny Dreadful"

Well, we're finally through the Dick Bennett ep, and we're about done with Yeast? in general.  I was surprised this song, "Penny Dreadful", was written earlier than I remembered it.  I don't know if Yeast? ever played it.  There was a whole slew of songs at the end of Yeast? that never got anywhere.  I'd bring them in, and Dave would dislike them and put country beats on them, and we'd just give up and play "Generic Smokes" or some Big Black covers instead.  Most of those songs ended up not being so great, so Dave was probably on to something, but if this was among them, then we definitely missed out on something here.  Instead, The GoGoBots picked it up.  In fact, I think it's the first track on the Noise Prescription cd.  It's about a kid growing up and liking to read science fiction.  A penny dreadful is more associated with a lurid true crime story (they cost a penny at one point), but the term spread a bit to encompass all of pulp fiction, including science-fiction.  Speaking of which, I recently went to a pulp fiction convention to hang out with my pal Mark Justice.  I had never been to one before, but it was interesting.  It reminded me a lot of a comic book convention before cosplay became such a large part of it.  It was mainly dealers with copies of Conan paperbacks and other pulp stuff, including some of the original pulp magazines.  Prices weren't bad, though of course the rarer items were expensive.  I bought a collection of fiction inspired by the work of cartoonist Fletcher Hanks.  The stacks of Stephen King and James Bond novels, among other objects there, reminded me of my adolescence, and did make me want to pick up my Stephen King bibliography from where I left off in 1988 or so (I have periodically checked in on his work with the odd novel or two over the years, but he's so prolific, he probably has two dozen novels that I have never read).  Anyway, genre fiction of the pulp type fits in well with this song.  Musically, I just used some pennies for odd sound effects while in the background my son had fun with a toy microphone.  Other than that, it's the usual guitar, vox, keyboard as bass, and percussion.  It looks like the next few songs are those of The GoGoBots, though Yeast? did at least one of them before breaking up.  

To hear more music, get the Dick Bennett ep

Thursday, June 24, 2021

"Warm Fuzz" Video!

 

I had some leftover footage from the "Big Daddy Pane" video, so I saved it for this final song/video from The Dick Bennett ep.  I also added footage of warm fuzzy things like my guitar amp, my cat, and a blanket.  My work buddy Mariah is an actress, so she was gracious enough to appear in the video and also shoot the footage of me with the blanket on my head.  As usual, the video was fun to make!  Not bad for still getting by with a broken camcorder!

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

New Recording!: "Warm Fuzz"

Since I recorded the other three songs from the Dick Bennett ep by Yeast?, I figured I might as well do them all.  I like "Warm Fuzz", but it is not a song I play often.  If I remember correctly, it ended up on that first Yeast? 7" because Damon, our bass player, championed it and it was short so it would round out the ep nicely for the remaining space available.  For this recording, I used the pipe organ keyboard, which I am becoming more and more fond of it, and some Malcolm McLarenesque whispery spoken background vocals (like the wacky stuff he did on The Great Rock And Roll Swindle soundtrack by The Sex Pistols).  I was happy enough with the results that I think I am going to record a couple of more tracks and then make a little album out of these rerecordings of the early songs.  The tracks do sound nice together.  You can get a feel for this by listening to them in order on my Soundcloud page, though I doubt that will be the final arrangement of the tracks, as some songs benefit from being next to other songs.  As for "Warm Fuzz", it is a simple song about wanting to get to sleep, though one can also interpret it sexually as well.  The "Say hello to never" line in the song is a reference to The Velvet Underground  as they use that line in "After Hours".  Ben And Jerry's ice cream was not as well-known back in the early 1990s, but it, like a warm blanket, can be very soothing (and, no, sadly they have never paid me for giving them a shoutout, not even a free ice cream cone, but on the upside, they also never complained about their ice cream being linked with a scruffy punk band).  And, speaking of punk, I was listening to the Peter Laughner box set recently and started thinking about the top ten punk scenes of the 1970s (clearly, there are times when I need better things to do).  I concluded the following:

1) Detroit/Ann Arbor, Michigan USA:  It seemed like Iggy Pop was ultimately dang near responsible for everything, but the MC5 and others also lit the flame with protopunk.

2) NYC, USA:  CBGB is well-known for birthing such classic punk rock as The Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith, and more, but the city also spawned a lot of proto-punk from The Velvets to The New York Dolls.  Most people would probably choose this as #1, but Iggy And The Stooges's influence, even here, made me go with Detroit (and rankings like this are just silly fun anyway).

3) London, England, U.K.:  Iggy hung out here (Raw Power), and there was also the link between The New York Dolls and Malcolm McLaren that proved important in birthing The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, and all the rest of what seemed to be the biggest punk scene in the 1970s.

4) Los Angeles, California, USA:  I was always puzzled why L.A. developed such a great punk scene, and then I remembered that Iggy was there for a couple of years in the early 1970s.  I read a book about this scene and was amazed that it was even more vibrant then I suspected from X to The Dickies to Black Flag.

5) San Francisco, California, USA:  This was the puzzler.  There is no direct link to Iggy here.  The best I can figure is that The Dils moved up to San Fran from L.A. and S.F. has always been weird anyway, so it didn't take much to fuel a great scene with bands such as The Dead Kennedys and Flipper.

6) Cleveland/Akron/Kent, Ohio USA:  Somewhat forgotten, but this was a great scene from Devo to The Dead Boys to Pere Ubu to The Cramps, and many more.  Even the lesser known bands like The Pagans were pretty great.  A lot of them eventually split town (Chrissie Hynde went to London, Devo to L.A., and The Dead Boys to NYC, for example).  The proximity to Detroit no doubt helped, but NYC bands often played their earliest out of town gigs in Cleveland (for example, Television), helping to develop this scene.

7) Manchester, England, U.K.:  The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall, and many more great bands came from here.  This seemed to be the first city the London bands played outside London (for example, The Sex Pistols), so they no doubt spread the music there.  Once inspired, Manchester took it from there (and, beyond the 1970s, to The Smiths to The Happy Mondays to Oasis, and so on).

8) Sydney, Australia:  The furthest flung of the great early punk scenes, this outpost in the Southern Hemisphere produced some great music.  It seemed to somewhat stem from a guy moving from Detroit who was a big Stooges fan, Deniz Tek, who formed Radio Birdman.  He found fertile soil apparently resulting in bands such as The Saints (originally from Brisbane but they moved to Sydney), Midnight Oil, and even INXS (heck, you could make an argument for AC/DC being somewhat punk if you wanted to as The Sydney scene seemed to have a diversity of sonic approaches akin to the CBGB bands in NYC, though arguably the best Australian punk band, The Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party, was from Melbourne).  You could also argue that Tek just poured gasoline on the fire, but whatever happened, it made for some notable music.

9) Washington, DC USA:  Bad Brains is probably the only band really cooking in the 1970s (Minor Threat would emerge in the early 1980s, though their predecessor The Teen Idles were active in 1979), but the seeds for the whole Dischord scene that would prove to be very influential on subsequent punk were already sown then (would Black Flag be as remembered as fondly if they had never stopped by D.C. and picked up Henry Rollins for their singer?).  

and 10) Anyplace, Anywhere:  Yeah, yeah, you can make arguments for Minneapolis, Paris, Belfast/Londonderry, Austin, Chicago, Boston, and so on to rank on this list instead of one of the scenes listed, but they're all here because punk rock was an idea in the 1970s (now it's kind of a cliche and dumb, but then it was a refreshing response to the excesses of the 1960s politically and culturally as well as a semi-sane response to growing up in a post-Vietnam War, post-Watergate, stagflation, fifteen minutes away from a nuclear apocalypse, etc. world) that took root whenever even one person in a small town decided to do it yourself, and the best local punk scene in the 1970s, like any scene, was always the local one that one was involved in directly.

Anyway, Peter Laughner's dead and it's time to bed, hoping that some more great music is just around the corner because it sure feels like 1975 again lately.  

To hear the original version of "Warm Fuzz", get the Dick Bennett ep

Sunday, June 6, 2021

"Big Daddy Pane" Video!

 

Since the camcorder is on the fritz, this video was a bit more challenging to make, but I still had a good time making it; I hope that you have fun watching it also!  Like the last two videos, this song is from the Dick Bennett 7", so the record makes an appearance.  I don't normally play "Warm Fuzz", the remaining song from the 7", but since I have rerecorded the other three, I might as well go for a full sweep and rerecord it next.  The many birds in this video was accidental, but it does relate to jailbirds and wanting to fly free out of a cage, I suppose.  If you want to make a Spotify playlist out of Yeast?, John Cougar Mellencamp, and Big Daddy Kane after watching this video, then please invite me to your next dance party as you sound like fun!  

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Fashion Plant!

 

The Russo Brothers were holding a film festival, and I had a free Friday night, so I made a video about the secret life of a houseplant.  There were 700 or so entries (you can watch some on their Twitter account).  This probably ranked #699 (#700 was probably somebody uploading the wrong video), but it makes me laugh.  Maybe it will make you laugh also.

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

New Recording!: "Big Daddy Pane"

Another one of the songs on the first Yeast? gets rerecorded here.  I like the pipe organ sound on my vintage Yamaha keyboard, so I used that here.  I have told the story behind the song before, so I won't recap it here.  It's a fun song to play, maybe more fun than a song about male anal rape in prison should be.  I had to buy a pair of wireless gaming headphones for a gig I had (they overcharged for them, which was typical of that crazy place), and they have become useful during recording, which makes me less bitter about the employer price-gouging (on a sidenote, if your employer tries to offload the cost of your work materials on you, just try to find another job).  I kind of like the microphone sound on them as well, but I didn't use that mic here.  The drums get overloaded at times here, but I like the sound of them.  This is more tuneful than a lot of my songs.  It's fun to hum and whistle.

To hear the original version of "Big Daddy Pane", get the Dick Bennett ep.

Friday, May 14, 2021

"Generic Smokes" Video!

 

Rather than just follow the lyrics with images (though you can find that here as well, albeit more disjointed than usual), I turned the video into a silent film/story.  It can be read at the surface level as a tale of teen angst, much like the song, or as a satire of such, unlike the song.  I don't smoke, but, fortunately, my buddy John was nice enough to let me film his cigarettes.  The cheap camcorder I usually use for the videos is on the fritz, so this video is more lo-fi and freaky than usual.  I guess I'll keep using it until it breaks completely, but it could make for some strange videos coming up.  I always find it amusing what YouTube picks for the thumbnail pictures, and this time it looks like my Lamb's Ear made the cut (they are really soft--strange to have a furry plant). 

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Friday, May 7, 2021

New Recording!: "Generic Smokes"

This is another of the songs on the first Yeast? 7". It's about a bored teenager who is thinking about killing herself one minute and then what color she should paint her nails the next (really, it should be a woman singing it, but you get stuck with me). Being only two chords, it's a lot of fun to play. For this version, I jammed out a little bit at the end, so if you want the garage rock version, then stop listening in the middle when the singing stops. I recorded an even longer version, but it started heading into Led Zeppelin The Song Remains The Same territory, and I had to pull the plug on that.  This version is a nice compromise between the short, tight version that ends when the lyrics do, and the crazy jamout the song can become.  I Vince Neiled it and doubletracked the vocals (apparently, the Motley Crue recordings were actually collages of dozens of takes, taking the best from each; fortunately, I didn't get that crazy).  For the weird instrument, I was going to use a tin whistle, but it didn't sound good, so I utilized it as a percussion instrument instead (it's that trebly metal sound); I don't recommend that as the whistle is now considerably bent, but it did make for a nice percussion sound.  

To hear the original version of "Generic Smokes", get the Dick Bennett ep.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

"Johnson Wants To Rant" Video!

Since the song is on the first Yeast? 7", I put the record in the video.   There is something hypnotic about a record spinning.  That record is on clear vinyl, so it looks especially cool in motion.  I followed the lyrics a bit as usual, but when the dancing Easter Bunny decoration is out on display I could not resist including it for a fun visual.  It's a little early for a summer beer, but I bought a six-pack of Red Stripe anyway, so that pale lager has to substitute for a pale ale in the video.  The shiny circle is actually the moon.  It looked cool that night, and with a cheap camcorder, everything gets impressionistic.  The chase scene is my son and I playing tag.  His new Hot Wheels track also makes a guest appearance.  Again, I can't resist a good visual.  My hands also make a couple of appearances here, but, no, I am not crafting a demo reel for being a hand model (feel free to send any hand modeling offers my way though).  The midget squirrel (I don't know if a squirrel and chipmunk mated or what happened) makes an appearance for the visual (he lives in a tree in my backyard); he's pretty cute.  The plants are this year's garden starting inside as babies.  Ending with the snow scene is just me making use of the overshot unused footage from the "Firm, The" video.  It was a cool shot, so I used it here.

For more fun, read Edna's Employment Agency!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

New Recording!: "Johnson Wants to Rant"

This is one of the songs on the first Yeast? 7".  Dave and Damon helped flesh it out.  Our original guitarist, Chris, disappeared before that recording session, so I don't think he contributed anything to the song.   Stripping down to a power trio and being the sole guitarist was interesting.  I guess now I've stripped down even more to just one band member for this rerecording.   For the weird instrument, I added a bit of accordion to the choruses (something the original lacked, but singing and playing guitar was enough of a challenge back then).  The song itself is about a frustrated young fellow who has trouble expressing himself.   There are probably even more of those these days even with all the social media blather.  I read a statistic recently that something like over a quarter of young men under 30 weren't having sex, which, assuming survey respondents were reporting accurately and were representative of the general population, is pretty darn weird.  I remember reading something years ago about how the Palestinians retired a terrorist cell by helping the young men get laid more regularly (probably by marrying them off).  I suppose sexual frustration could make one tense and ready to explode like a bomb, but the song involves a bit more than that as the protagonist feels put upon and oppressed/repressed by a number of factors.  I don't know if the "talking cure" cures everything, but people generally feel healthier when they can get feelings and ideas out by talking about them and feeling like they can express themselves freely (even though many of us don't want to hear it).  The reference to The Black Whale is a reference to a dive bar in New Castle, Pennsylvania USA that was probably on its last legs back when I wrote the song.  It was not a place I frequented as a dive bar in New Castle is probably among the grimmest places anywhere, but I liked the name.  I always hoped it was a play on Herman Melville's Moby Dick and its white whale.  I can picture Captain Ahab just giving up on the whole thing and going to have a beer instead in some hopeless place.  He might corner some fellow creature of despair and talk his ear off about the one who got away.

To hear the original version of "Johnson", get the Dick Bennett ep.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Yip!*: U.S. Right To Know!

It's spring, so unfortunately some of my neighbors are falling for the chemlawn ads and dumping unnecessary chemicals on their lawns, basically paying to poison themselves and then probably wondering years later why they developed cancer.  Well, I hope in the future that more people wise up that natural lawns with dandelions, clover, and other nice edible plants are better than the sterile, industrial green lawn.  To help that consciousness raising, it's nice to know that an organization such as U.S. Right To Know exists.  They investigate environmental, food, and health issues such as the recent rash of lawsuits surrounding Monsanto's Roundup being linked to lymphoma (meanwhile, I still see ads for the product in the postal mail store ads and neighbors walking around spraying it, seemingly unaware of the well-documented idiocy of using glyphosate). They've also been covering another nasty weedkiller called paraquat, which seems to be linked to Parkinson's disease.  Please, people, just pull or dig out any plants you don't like.  Don't poison the soil, yourself, or others spraying and applying these toxins.

*Yips! are good things!  So is my latest novel, Edna's Employment Agency!

Monday, April 12, 2021

drinkdrankdrunk: "Excerpts From Fragments Of Samantha" by Christopher Johnston

Fragment: January

The night that I left, the wind was blowing.  It was really high up in the trees.  Wafting the limbs up and down.  I guess they were waving goodbye.  The snow falling, toppling in waves from the hidden sky, wound and stitched its way into and through the branches, wrapping them with a mantle of lace.

Like my grandmother’s tatting, the stars and snowflakes she gently crafted for our Christmas tree.  I loved them as a child.  We always knew what the box contained underneath the burgundy aluminum foil paper she preferred, and the little red ribbons and bows.  The card she deftly drew, usually featuring Santa or a mischievous, colorful elf, maybe even Rudolph blinking, bigger than the other reindeer, waiting patiently below our chimney!  But I didn’t realize until a few years after she died what an enduring gift she had given each of us.  For our trees.  That box was among the few I had secretly stashed in my trunk the night before I drove away, sped dangerously along slippery, switchback streets into whatever twisted future I would have.

Anyway, I knew I had to get going before he woke up, saw me gone, felt me … missing … physically.  I had check out months ago mentally, emotionally, spiritually-–in every way but bodily-–the  mistake that kept me there longer than I should have remained.  Months and months.  But I had to watch this beautiful symphony play before me at least for a little while.  Soaring to accompany my exit through the white curtains.  Ha!  So I stood there in the dark.  Motionless in the midst of all the movement.  Inhaling the fresh winter night.  Drinking in the chilled breeze.  Listening to the river running under the ice, whispering “Farewell! Remember me!” as it passed.  I still will always love that place.  That brief time.  Relegated to memory concise but quick.  Perhaps fleeting, but I don’t know yet.  I’m still young.  Yes?  Ha!

Fragment: Coffee Lovers

They both lean in close.  Over the table.  Over their steaming coffee mugs.  She smiles.  Broadly.  Lifts her cup to her mouth but lets her fingers touch her cheek as the mug dangles under her smile.  Or maybe the wee glass mug of dirty espresso.  Dirty chai.  Something dirty.  Her eyes and his look down at their fingers.  Interlaced.  As if they were the first two humans to touch.  And not in anger or aggression.  The first to love.  No one else has experienced this.  Ever.  No.  One.  Because they are no longer two.

Let me switch pronouns now.  Pull myself out of the distance.  I pulled my hair up. Back.  Scrunchied it in that cute, sweet, come-hitherish way only I do.  I looked into his eyes.  I thought there was nothing more magical than the coffee foam heart pulsing, steaming in the decaf mochas between us.  How could there be?  How could there be?

We lifted our interwoven fingers in unison.  Palms pushing into one another, melting into one extended limb.  We lock foreheads.  We lock eyes.  We lock lips.  No key, I think.  There is no key to unlock--Suddenly, something flies into my eye.  A mother and her screaming toddler spawn follow directly behind the squishy frog toy she had thrown into my face.

Liam dissolves into laughter.  I rub his wrist, massage his forearm, kiss his flexing fingers, but something had changed.  Bliss had been baby bashed.  I got up to get a drink from the iced water urn, knowing every man’s eye in the shop lasers in on my ass, in my tight little skirt, the supple white lines of my stocking-laced thighs interrupted solely by the black lines rising from my buff new riding boots he had given me my for my birthday.

Well, every man’s eyes but Liam’s.  He was focused on the other little “darling.”  Entrancing his eyes with her chewed-up sippy cup, wailing to the stamped-tin-ceilinged heavens.  Apparently, he desires a new kind of screamer.

I sit.  I look into my mug.  The heart starts whirling in blinding circles, morphing through a disturbing evolution, from wobbly heart … to tornado … to baby cradle … to flat tire … to Hangman’s Tree … to withered leaves swirling away from a cracked and spalling tombstone … I can just make out a decaf epitaph:  Here lies the latte, er, late Samantha’s slightly used and battered body, her heaved heart, her suffocated soul …

(starts to sing from Joe Bonamassa song “Drive”) “Put on an old blues song … Let all my troubles be gone …”

Fragment: Dancing Shadows/Bad Woman Blues

I saw her shadow first.  Limber, large and looming.  On a garden wall.

Yes, I met the dancer’s dark silhouette before I met the dancer.  Her well-proportioned contours were greatly exaggerated in height–-a couple stories tall, almost to the roof of the courtyard-–but still graceful.  Flowing.  I couldn’t see her at first because it was so packed.  I ended up behind some trees and shrubbery, entranced for a few moments before I could get a glimpse of the body casting the haunting shadow.  I’d been enticed into the garden from the lobby by this seductive shadow through the French doors.  The Spanish guitar music wafting in was equally enchanting.  Enough to make me set down my mango daiquiri and plate of harissa and walnut-stuffed baby eggplant.

Yeah, the hot chili pepper paste was hot, but a dancer doing a pas de deux with her shadow in an early autumn garden was hotter.  Phew!  I am not susceptible to hypnosis, but I was mesmerized.  The scents in the air, the trickling water in the fountain, the jangling notes on a 12-string acoustic guitar …

After her shadow came to rest, after the line of admirers all got to squeeze her hand or hug her supple shoulders, I got up the nerve to introduce myself.

Concerned about her health, her shape, her top-form athleticism, she let me buy her a virgin daiquiri.  Fortunately, that was the only virgin in the room.  The filthy rich arts patron who paid for the party invited her to stay in his suite in the hotel for the weekend-–without being filthy enough to invite himself to stay with her.  Doubly fortunate:  Her hunky, hirsute, and swarthy Argentinean guitarist and his wife, freakily figure-eighting an almost nonexistent black chiffon and lace cocktail dress, were staying in an Airbnb downtown.  So, she–-Marissa--invited me to join her in this vintage palatial joint built in the 'burbs back in the '20s.

That night I fell into bed with a beguiling shadow dancer.

Emmmm, M definitely put the cherry on my chocolate cake.

Yeah, I woke up singing.  “Good girls always lose. I got the bad woman, bad woman, bad, bad, bad woman blues …”

                        SAMANTHA laughs heartily.

Fragment: An Seabhac

I feel like a squirrel being eaten inside out by a hawk, my father said.  This all came rushing back to me as I sat outside Becca’s house in Shaker Heights.  It was late fall.  Brisk and breezy.  She asked me to meet a guy from Dominion to get her gas shut off.  She’d sold the house.  She and her husband Russ had moved to San Diego.  They hadn’t been able to sell it, so it was being foreclosed.  They didn’t care, I guess.  I could never do that.  Anyway, the guy was two hours late.  I had to leave the engine running to stay warm.  Bounced around on the radio.  I should have brought a book, but I didn’t think it would take this long.

Bored.  Bored.  Bored.  After a while, I made it to extremely bored.  A circling hawk, wings outstretched as it pinioned on the wind, caught my eye.  It was beautiful to watch.  It had air supremacy.  Then I watched the mailman.  Then I watched a landscaping truck pull up.  Three guys jumped out, deployed their riding mowers, weed wackers, leaf blowers.  Excitement.

Then I saw the hawk again.  This time it meant business.  It wasn’t just circling.  It was fully employed in tracking some poor little creature.  It dove behind a house.  Then it came whipping back toward the street, close to the ground, with something not so little in its mouth.  Jesus.  A squirrel.  I didn’t think they ate anything that big, but the hawk was huge.

It landed in front of a brick bungalow across the street.  Right in front of their porch.  Had the family exited their front door, they would have achieved new levels of grossness, I’m sure.  I was sooo ewww disgusted, and I was several houses away.  How quickly my hawk-watching devolved from airy beauty to brutal death.  One of those Discovery Channel programs about shark feeding habits that you can’t take your eyes off of.

The poor little squirrel had no chance.  My hope was that it died quickly.  Those talons holding it down while it briefly squirmed in the hawks heartless clutches.  Ripping the squirrel’s stomach open with its butcher’s hook beak, tearing out its little guts, gobbling them down.  Ugh.

Then it reminded me of what my dad had told me, there in the hospital.  Between the stomach cancer and the surgeries.  How the prodding, poking, pulling, all the procedures made him feel like he was lying helpless in a field being picked apart by a hawk.  I started to cry.  Thankfully, someone at the house backed out of their driveway, and the hawk flew away.  I didn’t envy whoever found the poor, damned squirrel first, disemboweled.  Blech!

(beat) An irony seeker are ye?  My dad’s family in Ireland called him “An seabhac.”  The hawk.

Thanks, gas man.  You useless, late motherfucker.

Christopher Johnston is a playwright and journalist from Shaker Heights, Ohio USA.  I am quite happy to feature his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

"Spring Comes To El-Rio Beach" Video!

I would have liked to have made this video at the real El-Rio Beach, but I was busy and didn't have a day to drive there, film, and drive back, so this will have to do.  It was fun to make the video, as always.  Mostly nature shots here since following the lyrics for the shots would have been challenging for this one.

Edna's Employment Agency is my latest novel.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

An Interview With Mark Justice: Author Of Death's Head!

Mark Justice's latest novel is Death's Head:  The Eye Of Samedi.  I was lucky enough to read an advance copy, and you can find a quote from me on the back cover.  I caught up with Mark over the weekend and conducted a short interview.

1) What attracted you to writing pulp fiction?

I grew up reading it. My first comics were The Phantom and Flash Gordon.  I got them the day I was born, and I loved reading them over and over again.  Our newspaper carried both The Phantom and Flash Gordon daily strips, so I read those, too.  I fell in love with the quick pace, the outlandish premises--which seem entirely real--like dinosaurs roaming with The Phantom and fighting pirates.  It's terrific fun.  I also admired some of the pulp writers and how much output they had.  Walter Gibson wrote a book a month for like 20 years.  That is staggering.  I kind of wanted to see if I could do something like that, so I set a goal to write Death's Head in a month.  And I did.

2) Wow!  That is really fast!  I read a book called The Pulp Jungle once, by a former pulp writer, and I was astounded by how quickly the pulp writers wrote, so you are right in line with them.  The setting of Death's Head is in the pulp heyday of the early 20th Century.  What led you to set it during that time?

Death's Head is my homage to The Phantom, which takes place in the 1930s, so I wanted to create a little of that feel.  It's a good time because it's on the tail end of a sense of mystery about the world.  The Phantom I grew up with was high adventure.  Setting Death's Head in Haiti and Cauchemar--the fictitious island I created for the story--allowed me to capture a sense of that high adventure and jungle setting while making it my own.

3) You also make good use of the culture in Haiti in the book.  What interested you in Haitian mythology?

I grew up watching movies like I Walked With A Zombie and White Zombie, so there was a lot of voodoo and zombies, which I absolutely love.  That fascination with the crossover of religion and the supernatural still fascinates me.  When I knew I was going to incorporate these elements into DH, I wanted to make sure I had it right and that I wrote about voodoo and Haiti respectfully.  I spent weeks researching voodoo, Haitian history and mythology, zombies, as much as I could.  As any writer will tell you, the research is done so you know what you're writing, but it shouldn't feel like research, you know?  I really wanted to show proper reverence for the Loa and the whole spiritual realm, so besides research, I listened to an awful lot of voodoo music, which I found utterly captivating.

4) The mythological aspect of the book is one of my favorite aspects of the book.  I also enjoyed the use of radio technology, creating a mix of ancient and modern, perfect for conflict in a pulp storyline.  The book also is a mix of high adventure and humor.  How did you balance the two approaches?

I think it came down with trying to make sure everything was period correct, first and foremost, for as much of the actual objects and history as possible.  The weapons, radio, the type of ammo belts they wore, the events with U.S. involvement in the 1920s and up through 1934 when we left.  All of that was researched to be accurate as possible.  The Devil is in the details, as they say, so if you have the details correct, you establish that sense of reality, or at least plausibility.  Once that is established, you can let your imagination run wild because the foundation is grounded in something real. As far as humor goes, my original intent was to make the book very comic booky. Some of the first lines I had DH speaking were utterly campy.  Then, well, Doctor Sardon. He's just such an over-the-top villain.  He's actually my favorite character.  The more I wrote and thought, the darker and more serious the story came, with the horror elements becoming prominent.  When I researched the Loa, I found that they each have their own personalities.  There are dozens of Loa.  Samedi is death personified, but he's also very lewd and funny, loves telling broad jokes.  I knew then that I could keep some of that humor I originally had and bring it through Samedi, and what was great was that it was also very respectful of him as an entity.  I tried to write him as authentically as I could.  He's just a funny kind of spirit, which worked out great for me.

5) It certainly did.  It seems like it could be the start of a series.  What's next for Death's Head?  And Mark Justice?

It was my intention all along to make it a series.  Whether it's a short series, like three or four books, or an ongoing thing that I could still be writing in twenty years, is still wide open.  I do know that Doctor Sardon has big plans, and DH is going to find himself in more adventures on a larger scale.  With a villainous organization like the one he's against, you can't just finish the story in one fell swoop now, can you?  And Mark Justice ... I'm writing the next book in my Season's Change cozy mystery series.  I hope to have that out by summer.  I'm also doing novel adaptations of my three movies I made with my movie production company, Cyclops Movies.  I thought, hey, I have tons of absolutely brilliant dialogue sitting around doing nothing.  How about novelizing my movie scripts?  Why not?  Haha!  90% of the books are already written, so it's just a matter of tossing in some goofy narrative and bringing it together.  So I will have those three out this year.  Lastly, I have a Gothic horror anthology I'm hoping will be out by Christmas.  A series of connected short stories that all form a larger story arc.  I'd started this idea ages ago and never did anything with it, so I'm kicking myself in the butt and getting in my DONE pile this year.  For 2022, I have a sci-fi/horror novel planned and either another movie with Cyclops Movies or perhaps the 2nd book in my Gauge Black trilogy.  Grim, violent, splatter western.  That's about as far out as I can realistically plan, but I am also working on a large fantasy book--perhaps a trilogy--don't all fantasy novels have to be trilogies?  This one is a monster. It will take me a few years of planning and researching before I feel remotely like tackling it.  It'll be my Dune.  Haha!

If you still need something new to read after reading Mark's new book, then be sure to check out his other books.  And, of course, don't forget my latest, Edna's Employment Agency.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Literary Fan Magazine #3 Out!


King Wenclas has revived his Literary Fan Magazine zine!  The last issue came out probably in the 2000s, so this is a welcome return.  It's glossier this time around, and the design is less cut and paste and more pop art, but it's the same fun gossip of the literary world, though he's a little kinder to mainstream literati this time around.  It's always nice to see a good zine return after a long absence.  I got to be part of it as well, as announced a few weeks back on the blog.  My contribution is on page 13, an installment of "What Wred's Reading".  In this column, I write about The Longman Anthology Of British Literature.  I had to stick to 500 words or I would have said more.  It's a big book, even though the volume I was reading dealt only with the 20th Century.  Anyway, the new issue of LFM has much more to offer than just me, but I had a lot of fun collaborating with the King again!

If you've already read LFM and need some more fun, then please read Edna's Employment Agency!

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Read An Ebook Week!

 

Hey, it's Read An Ebook Week!  For me, that's every week, but if for you, it's not, then this is your week to join the fun!  I love print, but ebooks are great also (and they weigh less to boot).  And some books don't have print editions available, so they're only available electronically.  Some times, the eversions of print books are cheaper than their print counterparts.  I also find it nice when I get caught somewhere without the print book I'm currently reading, which I tend to take most places, but don't bring into the grocery store, for example, so when I'm caught in line waiting there or a place like that, I bust out the ebook I'm reading on my cell phone and use the time to read.  Anyway, to celebrate all things ebook this week, Smashwords is having a sale, including on 3 of my novels:  Blog Love Omega GleeFrequently Asked Questions About Being Dead, and Edna's Employment Agency.  Grab 'em at a discount while you can and celebrate Read An Ebook Week with me!