Sunday, November 27, 2022

Comic!: The Cosmic Counter!

In Fast Guy Slows Down, the protagonist regularly reads a comic book about The Cosmic Counter, so I decided to draw a Cosmic Counter comic.  Click on it to enlarge:

For more Cosmic Counter, read Fast Guy Slows Down!

Friday, November 25, 2022

What's Your Flow Setting, Baby? On Bandcamp!

 

I uploaded the new album to Bandcamp, so it is completely released.  Enjoy!

If you like your music physical, then listen to the Yeast? 7"!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

What's Your Flow Setting, Baby?

The new album is out!  It's a collection of songs I wrote from 1995 to 2014 that I still like to play (or did anyway while I was recording the album as a couple have dropped from the set subsequently).  As with Severe Platter Damage, I pretty much play everything, for better or worse.  The track list is as follows:

1. (I'm Going To) Youngstown (To Get Fucked Up) (2:27)
2. Canaries (2:09)
3. The Calling (3:27)
4. Hey, Honey! (3:13)
5. Why Honey Sings (2:00)
6. Mary Black Mary Black Mary Black (2:52)
7. A Kiss, A Cheek (2:06)
8. OH, Jeff (4 May 1970) (2:17)
9. Alger Hisses (2:33)
10. AM Radio Song (2:21)
11. Political Party B.Y.O.B. (2:57)
12. I Love The Library (1:50)
13. Smooth Jazz Riot (2:26)
14. A Song For Sonnenfeld (3:09) 

The liner notes can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1A6ogHof_y51wCv96yU3UFOI7YehcJwT_/view?usp=share_link

I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day to have gotten another album in.  If luck holds out, then I should have another next year.  I released all the tracks as singles earlier this year, but they sound nice in this order and arguably build to a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts.  I still have to get the Bandcamp version up, but you can check it out on Soundcloud (should be embedded above), Spotify (whose Wred Fright Radio continues to be fun), and many other places where digital music is available.

If you like your music physical, then listen to the Yeast? 7" 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Liner Notes For What's Your Flow Setting, Baby?

I finished the liner notes for the new album, What's Your Flow Setting, Baby?  They are at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1A6ogHof_y51wCv96yU3UFOI7YehcJwT_/view?usp=share_link.  The album will be released on Spotify and whatnot soon.  I'll throw up a more muted version on Bandcamp soon as well for those who think Tim by The Replacements is a good production job.  I will get the official Soundcloud playlist up soon as well, but you can do it yourself already here:  https://soundcloud.com/wredfright.  

Thanks to The Tinnitist for featuring "A Song For Sonnenfeld" on a recent playlist!

If you like your music physical, then listen to the Yeast? 7"!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Comic: I Hate Working With George

I got back into drawing comics this year because there didn't seem to be as many good ones around, so if I wanted to read more fun comics, it looked like I was going to have to make some of my own.

So I did.

Here's one of them.  Click on it to make it bigger.


For more Wred Fright fun, read my latest non-graphic novel, Fast Guy Slows Down!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Fun Pop Poetry!

My old Underground Literary Alliance buddy King Wenclas has a new zine out!  It's a collection of poetry he and Kathleen Crane edited.  It includes some poems by me that were previously published on New Pop Lit, along with a bunch of poems by others including another Underground Literary Alliance comrade, Emerson Dameron.  The production value is really nice.  Cool graphics and fancy paper, a far distance from the usual scruffy zines my stuff appears in, which usually look like someone made a tenth-generation photocopy that then got run over by a truck or two during a thunderstorm.  I just got it, so I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to digging into it!

For more Wred Fright writing, check out Fast Guy Slows Down!

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

drinkdrankdrunk: "Freaks And Geeks" by The Midnight Rider

forgive me, but i’ll have to go to the photo album for this paragraph--there were dozens of freaks and/or geeks that passed through the halls of shady state over the last 10 years, plus you know i’ve been to some parties . . . some of the faculty/staff on this list got fired in less than a year, and i’ve forgotten many of their names . . . i like lists though:  1) i could never forget big bubba beth--a 450 lb. hillbilly who stalked me for 2 years before she ultimately got fired for sexually harassing someone else . . . no doubt, i’m fat, but big bubba beth was obese and had absolutely no self-esteem . . . like if you’re big/blonde/badass, then i’m fine with that; however, big bubba beth was reading self-help books on her drive into work . . . big bubba beth also claimed to have been molested by an unnamed relative when she was a child (and i’m not saying that she wasn’t), but it strikes me in 2017 that 50% of the damaged girls that i’ve met have a go-to story to explain away their neuroses . . . it’s not like i didn’t feel her pain either--and when she brought a present to my office every week, it reminded me of all the times i had brought presents to unrequited loves (that ultimately didn’t deserve a second of my time/energy) . . . big bubba beth “accidentally” ran into me in the hall 3-4 times a week, and i caught her driving by my house over 50 times--and yes, i’ve done the same goddamn things to random cunts-whose-names-i-don’t-remember over 1000 times . . . big bubba beth would generally text me 20 times a day, and i would usually respond once that i was going to the gym . . . on two occasions, big bubba beth got drunk and started pounding on my door screaming that if i didn’t let her in that she was going to “toilet-paper my house”--i didn’t break character though and hid in my bedroom closet just like mama taught me . . . 2) i may have mentioned the director of the shady state writing center before in relation to dirt dick fucking her in a hot tub at that kalifornia resort at 3 a.m. . . . alicia was 24 and ready-to-fuck anything-that-moved, but that’s about the only good thing that i could say about her . . . she was pudgy, dumb-as-a-rock, and her moustache was thicker than mine . . . she also considered herself to be pansexual (before that term even came into vogue) . . . she flirted with me, but then again, alicia flirted with everyone--most of her stories entailed fucking students (male or female) and then having them stalk her to the point where she had to file a police report . . . she was supposed to come over to my house one night after the school play to smoke, but never showed--and in retrospect, that was a good thing . . . alicia volunteered to direct the theater department’s production of rent in 2010 and that ultimately proved to be her undoing . . . i never sat in on a dress rehearsal, but supposedly there was “foul language, nudity, and live sex acts onstage” and the powers-that-be at shady state shut the production down right before opening night . . . i think alicia assumed that since she was pansexual, she could do no wrong, but even kalifornia feared the negative publicity that would spring from that lawsuit . . . i don’t know the particulars, but soon after the collapse of the play, alicia accepted a position as “director of transgender studies” at a small college in wisconsin . . . alicia always fancied herself as a writer and the last i heard of her, one of her plays was being performed off-broadway and had been reviewed by the new york times--a wise man even wished her luck on facebook and told her that she was a great writer (of course, he hadn’t read her play, but it’s bougie hip in 2017 to celebrate the wonders-of-the-pansexual) . . . i obviously haven’t read her work either, but i’m sure it was about her sex life---and since alicia was dumb-as-a-rock, it stands to reason that her writing was of an inferior quality to what you’re reading right now--ahhh, but new york loves transsexuals a shitload more than it loves me . . . 3) two-face sounds like a batman villain and in many respects, she was . . . two-face taught business at shady state for 3 years until she read the handwriting on the wall and bugged out for a job as human resources director at a factory in moline . . . two-faced wasn’t “two-faced” per se (she was a narc 24-7), and the nickname came from the amount of makeup she wore and how she looked in the afternoons versus the mornings (much like the batman villain) . . . two-face was tall/skinny and appeared to be smoking hot if you had an early meeting with her, but by 2pm, the makeup had dissolved and you got her real/nasty pock-marked face . . . two-face was a born-again christian and tattled on everyone that came within 100 yards of her . . . her office was down the hall from mine and i would cancel my office hours the moment i heard her the clap of her high heels . . . assburgers wasn’t so lucky, and she turned him into the deans for inappropriate comments/sexual harassment on 3-4 occasions during my tenure . . . i don’t know how many of my colleagues two-face turned in over the years for inappropriate comments/sexual harassment, but the urban legend was that my dean would have his secretary stall her (by asking two-face questions about the bible) while he snuck out the back door to avoid having to listen to her crap . . . part of two-face’s attitude stemmed from the fact that her husband was the local fire chief--and being the fire chief of a small town in iowa is akin to being royalty here whereas being the fire chief of my hometown simply means that the person has too many misdemeanors to be the police chief . . . 4) best of the worst:  there was a chubby, bespectacled dude that shady state hired to edit the school newspaper back in 2007 . . . no one knew where he came from, and he never spoke--that is until a random friday in march when he stopped by my office to ask if i hated shady state as much as he did--for all i knew the dude was a corporate spy, so i kept my mouth shut . . . over the weekend, the dude trashed the newspaper office and stole all the computers/files, and no one ever knew why . . . i don’t even know if they prosecuted him; he simply disappeared . . . there was also a weird cat-lady from alabama (by way of india) who brought all 6 of her cats to the faculty retreat in illinois . . . i was lucky enough to have the hotel room next to her and wound up cat-sitting whenever she went to lunch . . . she was in the biology department, and i don’t know the details, but it seems that the cat-lady called in sick whenever one of her cats was “sick” . . . one of her cats died during the winter and then she stopped coming in at all . . . there was also a really fat biology professor who turned out to be pregnant--she had incredibly bad body odor, and i remember her wearing sweatpants to the faculty meetings . . . she taught from august until she gave birth in april and then disappeared as well . . . the last person the biology department hired (before the fall) was a ph.d. from harvard who was reputed to have written a series of hardcore/gay sci-fi novels despite the fact that he was married to a woman . . . the first semester he was here, the dude failed 14 of the 16 students in his biology 101 class, and the little z was obliged to monitor his spring classes lest the dude scream/throw everyone out of the classroom for being “iowa idiots” . . . the dude knew i was from virginia, and whenever he saw me in the hall, he wanted to discuss hee haw in as much detail as possible . . . in retrospect, he was the koolest fucker on this list

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.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

drinkdrankdrunk: "The Big Stink" by Joe Smith

 

It’s a dark night in a city that’s forgotten about its dictionaries.  But on the first floor of a two-story house in Laurellia, one man is trying to find meaning in a world awash in words:  Guy Verbose, Existential Lexicographic Investigator.

We were late for church, but for once it wasn’t my fault.  Today, A and M were the laggards, even though they had been warned the night before that we were going to 8:00 am Mass and then attending the pancake breakfast to say good-bye to Fr. Mark.  Obviously, they didn’t care.  Against my advice, A and M are following in my footsteps and becoming night owls, and on this morning we were all paying for it.

L, a morning person, is the outlier.  So, while the kids and I were quiet and prickly as we drove along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, she was gregarious and bubbly.

“Remember that podcast I was telling you about?  This Podcast Will Kill You?  They were talking about C-diff and how it can be treated with a fecal transplant,” she said.

L is somewhat new to podcasts, so whenever she finds one she likes, she brings it up in conversation—a lot.  I’ve been through this before.  First it was Smartest Guys In The Room, a podcast by my brother and a friend of his from high school.  Then there was Smartless, with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett.  Now it’s This Podcast Will Kill You, a show anchored by two grad students named Erin who, according to the show’s website, use it as a way to “share their love of epidemics and weird medical mysteries with the world,” all while “having a cocktail and chatting about pus and poop.”

L is a microbiologist, so the subject matter of This Podcast Will Kill You is right up her test tube.

“A what transplant?” I asked.  I clearly heard her say “fecal,” but was aghast.

“A fecal transplant,” she said gleefully.  She knew full well that I heard her and that the idea made my empty, early-morning stomach roil.  “That’s where they give you someone else’s poop.”

I was able to put that together on my own.  Nevertheless, L was right.  A fecal transplant, or in scientific terms, a “fecal microbiota transplantation,” refers to the administration of a solution of fecal matter from a healthy person into the intestinal tract of an unhealthy recipient.  The aim of the procedure is to change the composition of the recipient’s gut microbiome.  It is among the podcast hosts’ “all-time favorite medical interventions.”

In addition to conjuring disgusting mental images, fecal microbiota transplantation has been used to successfully treat recurring Clostridium difficile (or C-diff) infections, which have become a common problem in hospitals.  The bacterium is difficult to control in institutional settings and those who develop an infection typically have a hard time getting rid of it.

“Why do they give you poop?” asked M from the back seat.

“It must be a way for them to introduce good bacteria into your body, to help you fight the disease,” I said, flashing my superficial knowledge of human biology.  I hoped the kids would be impressed, but they gave no such indication.

“Yeah.  It’s a way to change someone’s microbiome,” L said.

I wasn’t sure the kids knew what a microbiome was.  Chances are the people who invented the procedure didn’t know either.  Fecal transplants date back to fourth century China, when physicians used it to treat of a variety of conditions including diarrhea, which is also gross.  Of course, just because the procedure appears in the historical record does not mean it’s common.  If it was, it likely wouldn’t have been the subject of the podcast.  Still, records from more recent times indicate that doctors have used fecal enemas to treat conditions like inflammation of the colon since 1958.

*           *          *

The word feces1 has been around much longer than the procedure.  Eric Partridge’s Origins:  A Short Etymological Dictionary Of Modern English (which isn’t short at all) traces the word back to the Latin terms faex, which purportedly refers to “wine-lees,” or “impure residues.”  The Chambers Dictionary Of Etymology also links feces to faex, but defines the Latin word as “sediment” or “dregs.”  As for the English usage of feces to mean excrement, Partridge says this is “of obscure origin.”  So does Chambers, but the latter says the use of feces to mean poop began around 1400, when the word appeared in a translation of Lanfranc’s Science Of Surgery.

*           *          *

“So, how do they give you the transplant?” I asked.  “They must have to insert it in your small intestine or something.  They couldn’t put it in your stomach.  That would make you sick.”

“I don’t know how they do it,” L said.  “I didn’t catch that. I just heard them talk about fecal transplants and I found it fascinating.  Don’t you think it’s fascinating?”

“I think it’s gross,” I replied.

A and M laughed.  Finally, I was getting through.

“Oh, there’s a driving school.” L said.

“What does that have to do with fecal transplants?  She doesn’t have her permit . . . or C-diff,” I said.

“That’s how everyone does it now.  You take a class right before you take the permit test so it’s all fresh in your mind.  We need to find a school where we can take the course.”

I groaned in dismay.

“Don’t you think it’s a good idea?”

“No, it makes sense.  I guess I’m just not ready to deal with her driving.  It’s all too much.”

L laughed.  I smiled.  It was the best I could do.  I was trying to be funny, but as the old saying goes, there’s a half-truth in every joke.  How was A, the little girl who was scared of the sharks in Finding Nemo, old enough to begin driving?  Too many years had gone by.  Too many changes were taking place.  It was too much.

Fr. Mark had been around for eight years, long enough for us become chummy with him, and contemplating his departure reminded me of just how long both he and our family have been hanging around.  When we first met him, A was eight.  Soon we’d be teaching her to drive, watching her graduate from high school, and sending her off to college.  Then she’d be off on her own.  Likewise, I was 42 when Fr. Mark first appeared behind the altar.  Now I’m 50 and have an AARP membership.  I don’t feel that old, but when I think about Fr. Mark’s tenure, recall the priests who said the Masses before him, and did the math, I’m reminded of how many years have passed by.  Where had the time gone?

“Don’t you want your daughter to drive?" asked L.

“I think I’d rather have the fecal transplant,” I said.

 _____________________________________

Notes:

1) Oddly, there is no entry for feces in The Oxford Dictionary Of Word Histories, the Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (Morris), or the Dictionary Of Word Origins (Ayto).  I guess the authors of these books found the inclusion of such a word in their texts to be beneath them.  Ha-ha.  Get it?  Beneath them?  Sorry . . .

Joe Smith is a longtime zinester who was a comrade in The Underground Literary Alliance.  He always has a cool new project in the pipeline, so check him out at https://www.butterlamb.org.  I am happy to feature his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Governor's Names On Highway Signs Update For 2022 Ohio Gubernatorial General Election

 

Oof, this looks like it will be a rough election for governor in Ohio.  On the one side, we have the incumbent, DeWine, who combines the worst of blue and red states.  He panicked over the virus like a blue state governor and then wanted to prove how tough he was when his fellow Republicans ridiculed him for being a wimp and so he did stuff like force women to bury their aborted fetuses.

Dreadful.

Unfortunately, 2022 seems like an election cycle unfavorable to Democrats, so we'll probably be stuck with this turkey for another 4 years.  In any case, his name is already on the highway signs, so at least the state's taxpayers will be spared another useless expense of changing highway signs that shouldn't exist in the first place.

For some background, please check out some earlier posts on the subject:  https://www.wredfright.com/2022/04/governors-names-on-highway-signs-update.html and https://www.wredfright.com/2020/05/governors-names-on-highway-signs-update.html, but basically it's a waste of taxpayer money to stick governors' names on highway signs (ditto for mayors sticking their names on city road signs, but at least there the expense is less since there aren't as many signs).  

Of course, the Democratic candidate could win.

Just kidding.  I mean technically, she's on the ballot, and she probably has more chance than the 4 write-in candidates do (at least, one of whom is having fun), but unless DeWine starts humping a Donald Trump blow-up doll in the middle of a kindergarten class while telling the kids they all should have been aborted and that Trump should have been impeached, he isn't going to alienate enough Republican voters to clear the way for Nan Whaley, the Democrat, to win.  Her chief hope was that the patriot pastor candidate, Niel Petersen, would siphon off enough conservative votes to screw DeWine over, but Petersen didn't make the ballot (neither did independent candidate F. Patrick Cunnane, who liked to tell voters how smart he was but then was dumb enough to vote as a Republican in the primary election and thus disqualify himself from the ballot as an independent).  And I don't know what happened to the usual Libertarian and Green candidates.  Those parties seem to have become inactive if not defunct.  In any case, Whaley may be even worse than DeWine, and that's saying something.  For example, in this interview, she thinks it's a great idea to require kids to get the useless and dangerous Covid vaccine in order to attend school.  Meanwhile, in countries that actually have politicians who use their brains instead of just repeating what Big Pharma representatives tell them to say such as Denmark, they're banning the vaccine for anyone under 50.  I'm going to go out on the proverbial limb here and note that Danish anatomy does not differ from American anatomy, yet Whaley and most other Democratic politicians want to jab first graders with a harmful substance.

Sigh.  So we're down to two dreadful candidates.  I don't think I'd vote for Whaley even if she came out against sticking her name on highway signs, so I guess I should start emailing those write-in candidates to see which one can skip the ego trip and save the taxpayers some money.  Since none of them will win, maybe we can get the legislature to just ban the governor's name on highway signs practice during their crazy lameduck session after the election.

For more fun with politics, please read my latest novel, Fast Guy Slows Down!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

New Recording!: "A Song For Sonnenfeld"

This was the last song I wrote for a couple of years.   Basically, I cobbled together some lines from scraps of songs and stitched together a new song.  I named it in honor of the poet Mark Sonnenfeld, who also tends to take random scraps of language (as well as music, other symbols, and art) and combines them into something shockingly new as a whole.  Musically, I sang and played the usual instruments.  I don't remember anything particularly weird on this recording.  I just played around with the mixing and dropped various instruments in different parts.  This is the last song of the new album, which should be out this fall.  Next year, I'll start recording the remainder of the set, filling in the gap from 2014 on.  Nothing was written until 2017, so really 2017 on.  So this might be the last audio track for the year unless I write a new song or two this fall.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for including "Smooth Jazz Riot" on a recent playlist!

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!

Monday, September 12, 2022

New Recording!: "Smooth Jazz Riot"

Some very nice people have awful taste in music, and some very nice music is just awful.  Smooth jazz comes to mind in both cases.  I wrote this song from the perspective of a smooth jazz fan who is tired of her or his favorite music being made fun of by all the music snobs such as myself.  I pictured a dental hygienist  happily grooving to the muzak in the background, and a patient making a snide comment like "If I listened to this stuff all day, it would drive me crazy" and then the hygienist having to restrain herself from poking the patient with a scaler.  Musically, it's the usual instrumentation, but for once I played clean guitar and I made extensive use of the preset drums on the keyboard. 

Thanks to The Tinnitist for including "I Love The Library" on a recent playlist!

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

New Recording!: "I Love The Library"

I wrote this song almost a decade ago now.  Shockingly, no library, public or otherwise, has used it as a theme song, but I still like it, so I rerecorded it.  It has the usual instrumentation, except I turn some pages of a book at the beginning and end.  

Thanks to The Tinnitist for including "New Hire's Tragic Disappearance" on a recent playlist!

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!

Monday, August 29, 2022

New Single!: New Hire's Tragic Disappearance

Finding a job can be challenging, but please don't follow the path of the character in this song.  Admittedly, after dealing with human resources boneheads for weeks on end, you might feel like killing someone, but, again, please refrain.  Instead, just rock out to this cautionary tale.  Musically, it reminds me of a Fall tune, but Mark E. Smith didn't seem to be as much a fan of crooning as I am.  The recording has the usual instrumentation, but I used a pair of brand new paintbrushes and a can of screws and nails for some of the percussion, which was fun.  Lyrics are below:

Ernie had trouble finding a job.
Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, he'd sob.
He'd just learned they'd hired someone named Tiffany.
As the bills piled up, he had himself an epiphany.

So sorry to hear about your
new hire's tragic disappearance.

Ernie decided to thin out the competition.
Now some of the other applicants have gone missing.
Well, Ernie managed to score himself a gig,
but the police found a grave, and they've started to dig.

Now Ernie's found himself a new vocation,
one from which there'll never be a vacation,
but at least he never has to worry about where his next meal's coming from,
and the prison kitchen makes better food than his mom.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for his support of "Run Of The Mill Punk Rock Song"!

For more Wred Fright music, listen to the Yeast? 7"!

Sunday, August 21, 2022

drinkdrankdrunk: "Service To The School" by The Midnight Rider

i’m going to my curriculum vitae for the next entry, and i fear it won’t be nearly as exciting as my road trip to illinois with the women of color . . . i believe i already described the inner workings of the shady state finish strong committee in an earlier paragraph--the committee was comprised of faculty/staff/students and was designed to raise campus morale after the announcement that the school would be closing . . . the chair of the committee was the chief human resources douche, and the lesbian nun was always arguing that we needed to better control the flow of free whipped cream to the students on national donut day . . . i spent the majority of my time hitting on the 21-year-old, virginal soccer goalie, but the other buffers managed to cockblock me at every turn . . . i only have one story from my time on the institutional effectiveness committee, but it’s a good one . . . what was the committee’s function?--i really don’t know . . . the committee itself was formed during a time when shady state was in the process of switching regional accreditors and every faculty member was obliged to be on as many committees as possible . . . i volunteered for this particular committee because a wise man told me that we wouldn’t do anything (and he was correct) . . . the committee was comprised of five online instructors from across the united states and me . . . i did, however, know the chair because she had worked her way up the ladder from local peon to vice president of marketing . . . how does a 23-year-old, business school graduate from western illinois become vice president of a major company in less than 3 years?--she wore a miniskirt to every meeting and encouraged the men in the audience to look for the wet spot . . . i don’t mean to imply that josey wasn’t a kool chick because she was--she could drink like a fish, and i smoked doobies with her on several occasions . . . she was hot-as-hell, and she used it to her advantage, and i spent the majority of my time at the meetings fantasizing about what she was wearing in kalifornia . . . did i mention that everyone else on the committee was female and that i usually called in from under the covers of my bed at home?--yeah, dude, i think you know where this is going . . . anyway, what was this committee’s function?--i think we were supposed to proofread reports from other committees and then make comments . . . i never proofread anything and hardly ever spoke other than to announce at the beginning of every meeting that it was “cold in iowa, and i wished i were in kalifornia” . . . at one particular meeting, some old crone had been rambling on for 7-8 minutes and stopped to ask josey a question--and there was no reply for over a minute and the old crone kept repeating: “josey? . . . josey? . . . are you there, josey?” . . . finally, after another 3-4 minutes, josey got on the line and apologized to the group for “having to go to the bathroom”--and i was immediately rock hard picturing josey with her panties around her ankles sitting on the toilet in kalifornia . . . i covered the speaker of the phone and just spunked all over myself as the other ladies on the committee giggled about josey having been in the bathroom . . . MY SPOO SHOT UP 10-12 INCHES INTO THE AIR AND TO THIS DAY, IT WAS THE MOST PRODUCTIVE THAT I’VE EVER BEEN AT A MEETING . . . i fear my other committee work is gonna be anti-climactic compared to what i accomplished during my time on the institutional effectiveness committee, but i might as well give you a rundown of the rest:  my experience with the communication committee was horrible, albeit boring . . . once again i was on a committee with 5 female, online instructors that i had never met . . . this time, however, i was already a lame duck (shady state had announced the campus closure in june, and my term began in july), and i was even more proud to do absolutely nothing . . . the committee’s main function was to write a corporate newsletter which almost always explained the function of the faculty senate . . . the nasty hags on the committee all still had their jobs and therefore did battle every month for who got the credit for doing the fluff piece on the asshole-of-the-month senator . . . they never asked me to do anything, but that didn’t stop some nasty/old cunt from oklahoma sarcastically exclaiming “way to be proactive” or “good job” at me every so often . . . my term expired early (when i lost my job in june 2016), and the fucking cunts sent out a corporate e-mail thanking me for my “exceptional service to the shady state community”--yeah, dude, and they say i’m the dumbass . . . i was on three english search committees . . . on the first, we hired this smoking-hot mfa from michigan who turned out to be batshit crazy . . . she would storm out of meetings, have screaming matches with the vice president, and quit in the middle of the semester right after signing her contract for the following year--more on her later . . . the second search committee wasn’t really a competition because we pushed through swede hansen’s ringer after the hot chick quit in may--we still got paid though . . . adrian adonis (the pretty boy who fucked his student) was the third new hire of my tenure . . . he wasn’t our first choice because at the end of his interview, he asked if he could “take students to the movies”, and dean hansen didn’t like that . . . i personally voted for another hot chick, but she was smart enough to decline our offer whereas adrian adonis immediately accepted . . . the handbook revision committee only met one time, but it was a nice resume-filler . . . at the time, swede hansen was the dean’s assistant and helped review the liberal arts faculty’s yearly assessments . . . the swede went over my responses and informed me that i wasn’t on the handbook revision committee--i reminded him that the committee only met once and that we sat across the table from each other, but he still didn’t believe me (and that was the moment when i came to realize that the swede was a piece-of-shit) . . . lawyers, police officers, and professional people from all over the community came to shady state in the winter of 2008 hoping to become adjunct faculty members . . . business was booming, and they all obviously wanted a piece of the corporate pie/payout . . . as part of the adjunct faculty interview committee, i would come in on the weekends and ask predetermined interview questions and then report back with my findings . . . when i told my dad what my duties entailed, he thought i was bullshitting him . . . i directed a play at the local middle school in spring 2009 as part of the shady state afterschool program--and while that might sound like fun, little kids don’t respect/listen to me at all (nor do i want them to) . . . the kids were always wild, and some housefrau was always in the corner watching everything i said/did . . . the play sucked too--it was a total failure, but i still got a plaque from the local chamber of commerce for community participation . . . the last item on my vita says that i was an “organizer/sponsor of the shady state computers-for-kids program” in the fall of 2006 (back-in-the-day before every employee fart was documented for assessment) . . . and while there certainly was a computers-for-kids program, it was part of my friend nootie’s job responsibilities at a school district in virginia . . . sometimes when i call him at work, i’ll tell his secretary that i’m “chris from the iowa computers-for-kids program”

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, August 15, 2022

New Single!: Run Of The Mill Punk Rock Song

I went and saw a friend of mine's band play this summer.  It was a punk show, and some touring bands were on the bill.  You could pick out whom they were because they were all wearing facemasks.  It's pretty obvious the masks don't work to prevent transmission of respiratory viruses at this point, no matter what the "experts" say, by just cross-referencing case rates and mask mandates, but at this point the people wearing them are doing some sort of hygiene theater/religious ritual, so logic need not apply.  The oddest thing of seeing punk rockers believe the government when it was clear the government was full of shit was that the punk rockers all took off the masks to perform.  So apparently, the punk rockers not only believe the government's nonsense, but they believe their own nonsense as well, thinking that maybe the virus will be polite and not infect them when they're playing as opposed to when they're off-stage walking around at the show.  Even if you believed masks worked, why would you take the mask off in the same social setting?  And, if you don't believe masks work, why would you wear one when no one was making you wear one?

It was baffling.  When I was younger, punk rockers, despite the occasional lunkhead among them, tended to be brighter types who critically thought and called authority figures on their jive.  Today's punk rockers appear to be pretty dumb and just parrot the views of authority figures if it's the right sort of authority figure.  If that's the state of the subculture, then maybe it's time for punks to go the way of the zoot-suiters and beatniks.

Musically, it's the usual guitar, bass as keyboard, vocals, and drums, with singing through a harmonica being the odd musical aspect this time.  It was fun making this song, but I miss the old days when punk rock was cool.  Oh, well, there's always the Pistol tv show . . .  

Lyrics are below:

The punk band brought their own muzzles.
That they think they're still rebellious is quite a puzzle.
When the subculture is a half-century old, maybe it's time for a new one of your own.
Instead, today's punks are like yesterday's hippies, and all they do is just bitch and moan.
They're always lecturing me about how I'm going to give them a disease
and questioning those who question authority and anyone who just does as they please.
Roll over G.G. Allin and tell The Ramones the news.
What passes for punk today is a real snooze.

It's a run of the mill punk rock song.
But we're still going to sing along.

Here's your colour by numbers songbook.
Here's some anarchist Mad Libs for lyrics--take a look.
Don't forget the hair dye and Democratic Party talking points.
You'll need something to yap about when you're bored drinking forties and smoking joints.
And make sure you don't miss the reunion tour.
There's only one original member left, but who's keeping score?
And remember to buy the limited edition debut album reissue on colored vinyl.
Maybe you can use it to fill in the space you used to have your spine in.

Trust fund kids impersonate the American working class,
and the oldies radio station now plays The Clash.
Teens wear t-shirts of bands that broke up before their parents were born,
and this hand-me-down pop culture gets ever more torn and worn.
I guess an upper middle-class white person has to look strange to survive in the inner city,
but, you know, underneath the nose ring and tattoos, you're almost pretty.
I think if you were in a real riot, girl, you wouldn't think it was so much fun.
The new wave is old now; it can barely walk, much less run.

Jello Biafra turned down money from Levi's, but he'll shill for Big Pharma for free.
At least Johnny Rotten still pisses the right people off by loving Trump, I see.
Hey, let's support senior citizens who want to act like they're 17.
Try to do something original, and you'll get treated like the punks did in the 1970s.
And even Black Flag couldn't afford the cost of gas today.
So let's not get in the van.  We'll watch a punk documentary on Netflix, at home we stay.
I don't know what the government's done since Vietnam and Watergate to become so trusted,
but punks supporting a shitty status quo just makes me disgusted.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for his support of "Political Party B.Y.O.B."!

For more Wred Fright music, listen to the Yeast? 7"!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

New Recording!: "Political Party B.Y.O.B."

This is one of the last songs I wrote before I stopped writing songs for a few years.  It's just about the silliness of politics.  It probably works better as a Woody Guthrie one guy with an acoustic guitar song, but I had fun adding drums and otherwise fleshing out this version.  It was in the set until recently, but finally got the boot because there were too many new songs I liked playing better.  Like any good politician though, I could see it worm its way back into office (i.e., the set) especially in election season.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for including "AM Radio Song" on a recent playlist!

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!

Friday, August 5, 2022

New Recording!: "AM Radio Song"

This is another old GoGoBots song that is still fun to play.  I worked the overnight shift at my local AM radio station years ago and developed a fondness for the strange mix of oldies and mellow new songs that the typical AM radio station used to play before the AM dial was devoured by talk radio.  I thought it would be fun to write my own version of an AM radio song, poppy in the music but with atypical, almost subversive lyrics.  I wrote about the Marxist concept of the surplus value, wherein a worker does not get the full value that her or his labor created because of course capitalism needs its share in order to get a return on capital.  The Marxists don't really know how to create a better system, but they certainly understand how capitalism works.  In short, no matter how much money you make at work, your boss or employer is always making more money from you and where does that money come from?  From not giving you the entire share of the wealth you've created.  You can call it exploitation, but it can also be considered the price of making money.  In the song, the singer is alienated but still needs to pay the bills, and the songs on the AM radio soothe away the pains of the workday.  For the rerecording, I added some keyboard, keyboard drums, and extra vocals to the usual vocals, guitar, bass as keyboard, and drums.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for including "Alger Hisses" on a recent playlist!

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!

Friday, July 29, 2022

New Recording!: "Alger Hisses"

This is another old GoGoBots tune.  I wrote it after buying Alger Hiss's autobiography at one of those discount bookstores that used to pop up in failing malls and strip malls before the mall or strip mall failed completely.  Hiss was an American bureaucrat who was accused of spying for The Soviet Union during the McCarthy Red Scare of the 1950s.  Hiss maintained his innocence, even when he was sent to prison.  The whole affair is filled with bizarre details such as hiding film rolls in a pumpkin.  It provided the fodder for this song.  Musically, it's the usual guitar, keyboard as bass, drums, vocals, and some fun hissing in the background.

Thanks to The Tinnitist for including "OH, Jeff (4 May 1970)" on a recent playlist!

 If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!      

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

New Recording!: "OH, Jeff (4 May 1970)"

"OH, Jeff (4 May 1970)" is an old GoGoBots tune.   I wrote it after reading and researching about the shootings at Kent State University in 1970.  One of the murdered college students was Jeff Miller, who was a rock drummer.   He'd be a senior citizen today if the Ohio National Guard hadn't murdered him.  Feeling some kinship to Miller, I wrote this song about him.  For this rerecording, I used the actual audio of the gunfire and played with some digital effects. The choruses sound kind of spooky as a result. Otherwise, it's the usual vocals, guitar, keyboard as bass, and drums. 

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!     

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

New Recording!: "A Kiss, A Cheek"

"A Kiss, A Cheek" is an old solo tune.  It first appeared on the Let's Get Killed vinyl compilation album, which was sort of the high water mark of the Kent, Ohio USA underground scene of the turn of the century, right before The Black Keys figured out how to make that approach to music palatable to classic rock radio and made a bunch of money doing so.  For this rerecording, I filled out the song with more sound than just vocals and guitar, though arguably it's the type of song that sounds best just with guitar and vocals.  Nevertheless, here's some whistling, keyboard as bass, accordion (or maybe just the keyboard doing a drone--I don't remember), and lots of drums.  Lyrically, the song is the same as ever, with the speaker (er, singer) being puzzled that people would have an all-powerful god, but then still think that god needed some help from them in the form of a sacrifice or something.  If your imaginary friend is all-powerful, then take a break, dude (and those atheists still wearing facemasks that do nothing to prevent the spread of viruses shouldn't feel much superior--you also believe in nonsense; science is a journey, not a destination).

A shoutout to The Tinnitist for including "Mary Black Mary Black Mary Black" on a recent playlist.  Thanks again!

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7", which has been patiently waiting for a spin on your turntable since 1994!    

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

drinkdrankdrunk: "Share Your Sparkle" by The Midnight Rider

it is january 2016, and i haven’t written anything since august 2015 . . . i realize that i ended the last paragraph by bragging about how easy my job is, but it’s kinda hard to enjoy your final year when one could be fired for failing to fill out a form or by not attending a corporate webinar--i guess that’s corporate america though . . . during the course of the fall semester, cashpoint laid off all non-essential personnel including the administrative assistants, financial aid staff, admissions staff, librarian, and postmistress . . . their modus operandi usually entailed a tuesday dinner followed by friday layoffs at 5pm pst (and this is iowa) . . . lil hitler (my boss’s secretary) and the sexy grandma (my friend) went in the last round, but lil hitler was so lost that she came into work for another 3 weeks before human resources finally had to tell her not to come in anymore . . . there were rumors of a faculty layoff in november (and i got in trouble for gossiping), but it would seem as if the final 30 professors will make it through until the end (along with roughly 280 students--down 700 from just three years ago) . . . you could say that the final 280 are ripe for the plucking, but that’s another story for another time (like this summer when i’ll have no job and no prospects other than going home and changing my parents’ diapers) . . . anyway, i took copious notes on our faculty workshop this week, so i might as well break it down for you . . . the vice president for academic affairs opened the meeting by announcing that cashpoint had been sold to a real estate company for 1.5 million . . . the vpaa then confessed that he had no idea who the mystery owners were or why the grounds were sold for roughly 18.5 million less than they were worth . . . he said that our offices would need to be cleaned out by the last day of may and that we should “focus on taking care of ourselves and each other” . . . i was itching to ask where i should dump my garbage after cashpoint folded, but i assumed that that would hurt some old lady’s feelings and i held my tongue . . . the public relations officer was next, and he announced that the mission of the finish strong committee (of which i am a member) was to “SHARE OUR SPARKLE until the end”--and his voice was cracking, and there were audible sighs from the crowd . . . the human resources officer was next, and she had some good news for us----the computer lady had gotten a job at a chiropractic office in davenport (good riddance for an ugly tattletale), and the sexy service learning chick had taken a job with a furniture company (she is sexy, but happily-married and a born-again christian, so who gives a shit) . . . for the next 45 minutes, the (cocky) athletic director argued with the born-again christian members of the biology department over make-up testing procedures for lame-duck athletes (whose sole purpose for being here in the spring is to play their respective sports one more season) . . . before the lunch break, the pr director asked me if i would organize a bags/cornhole tournament for the spring--of course i said “yes,” but i was thinking: “what a fine use for my phd” . . . after lunch, the career services lady gave a presentation entitled “backpacks to briefcases”--the suits in kalifornia want us to attend resume workshops in the spring where the faculty will be taught “dinner etiquette” and receive “fashion tutorials” along with other horseshit they think will help us get another job in academia--it was one part tedious and two parts embarrassing . . . after the career services lady (who is dumb-as-a-rock) announced that there would also be “mental health sessions,” lil’ frank burns chimed in that a “session of sexual harassment could be beneficial as well” . . . the faculty forum was next, and we spent roughly 30 minutes on who would replace the toner in the copy machines since all the administrative assistants had been fired--someone-in-the-back suggested that we throw them out the windows in may, but hot lips houlihan reminded the room that the copiers were now the property of the new owners . . . a member of the faculty welfare committee announced that the online adjuncts hated us because they were sure that the campus faculty were in line to steal their jobs . . . he also told a funny story about teaching online and sending his scheduler (the online official that assigns online instructors classes) a christmas card every year even though he hated her guts . . . over the past few months, cashpoint has offered the campus faculty the opportunity to train to teach online--the implication is that we would be hired on as full-time with benefits, but conventional wisdom is that for every one huckster who got a good teaching gig, there would be 100 others working for slave wages . . . roughly 75% of the professors in my college volunteered, but i obviously want to get the fuck out of here . . . the afternoon workshop (a.l.i.c.e training to prevent school shootings) was perhaps the most ridiculous of all, especially since the biggest criminal in the room was the head of campus security--lebrick is a sawed-off, little-prick-of-an-ex-soldier who was on his way to being kicked out of the marine corp for embezzling money from toys-for-tots (for buying, among other things, a purebred hunting dog) before he resigned his commission . . . he was also up-on-charges of sexual harassment for asking the women that he was supposed to be interviewing out on dates . . . like i don’t mind some of the older security guards (hell, we even have “mash” code names to track the deans), but listening to lebrick rattle off the names of school shooters made me realize what a fanboy-waste he truly was (and always remember that the lesson of reno 911 is that cops/criminals are essentially white trash) . . . anyway, after a slideshow of rent-a-cop pinups like adam lanza and seung-hui cho, lebrick broke the faculty into three groups, and we were sent to our respective rooms and told to prepare for an active shooter . . . my group consisted of 5 female professors and 2 male vietnam vets/professors and when the “lockdown” command came over the walkie-talkie, the two vets immediately removed their belts and lashed the ends to a table and to the front door . . . and then we waited for over an hour--there were bangs-at-the-door and cries-for-help, but the vietnam vets refused to let any of us move . . . i took out my iphone and tried to videotape the absurdity for posterity (or facebook), but there was ultimately nothing to videotape (except the granny panties of a 54-year-old ed professor) . . . i finally got on the walkie-talkie and announced that “sister butch was the active shooter and that everyone should remain calm” . . . the faculty was supposed to return to the classroom for a debriefing after the final “all clear” was announced, but i waited until orly (the near-sighted-security-guard-who-walks-with-a-limp) turned his back and snuck out through a girls’ dorm . . . in the old days, i would have tried to gank a pair of panties on my way out, but in the winter of my 49th year, i really just wanted to go home and sleep until spring

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, June 27, 2022

New Recording!: "Mary Black Mary Black Mary Black"

"Mary Black Mary Black Mary Black" is an old GoGoBots song and still fun to play. It's based on a common legend/prank for high schoolers or whatnot wherein one of them is dared to go into the bathroom alone and say the name of a local witch three times into the mirror.  They claim that if you do that, the witch will come out and scratch your face.   Well, you might scratch your face by bumping into something in the dark bathroom because you can't see, but nothing's going to come out of the mirror.  The legend seems to be some sort of projection of fear of any woman having agency in a patriarchal culture.  Team Fright also played this, and our buddies The Balomai Brothers sampled it for a song (I miss The BBs--maybe they'll pop up again some day).  It's been a staple of the solo set for years.  For this rerecording, I started with the drums instead of the guitar just to switch things up a bit.  The keyboard pipe organ sounded good for a spooky song, and it sounds like I had a bit of fun with the effects on the percussion and multiple vocals.  Otherwise, it's the usual vocals, drums, guitar, and keyboard as bass.  

A shoutout to The Tinnitist for including "Gang Of Foreigner" on a recent playlist.  Thanks again! 

If you want to hear more music, then listen to the first Yeast? 7"!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Monday, June 6, 2022

New Single!: Gang Of Foreigner

My dream radio station would be one where stuff like Foreigner was played right next to stuff like The Gang Of Four.  Just good tunes, regardless of the genre. This song was written in that spirit.  Thanks to Joe Biden for inspiring the first line.  Musically, it has the usual vocals (I played a lot with them), guitar, keyboard bass, and drums.  For the drums I played live drums and messed around with the keyboard preset drums.  The bit is the beginning is me beat-boxing and messing with some effects.  There is also some pipe organ in the background if you listen closely.

Lyrics are below:

Was Corn Pop a bad dude?
Please don't be so rude.
Better grow your own food.
And the government doesn't like your attitude.

But the pop song said love would last forever.

Classic rock zombies.
Subject to additional taxes and fees.
Don't be dumb and forget your smartkeys.
Hope you're doing well sleaze.
Stripmalls cutting down more trees.
Kurt Angle replaced both knees.
So afraid of a new disease,
they don't want you to say what you please.

And the friends in your head are the best friends ever!

Your social network is closed.
Genetically-modified cheery oats.
Spray the snitch with a hose.
Things aren't how you supposed.
The administration should be deposed.
I'd rather sniff a rose
then have a gun and kill my foes.
What if everybody just said no?

Thanks to The Tinnitist and Blind Hugo for their support of earlier songs!

For more Wred Fright music, listen to the Yeast? 7"!

And here's one last bonus Yeast?:

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Last Week For The Stack!

Last month on my Substack, I made fun of The View, hypocritical Democrats, golddiggers on dating apps, stupid yard signs, and Tim Ryan; drew a comic about buying Harvey Pekar an ice cream cone; and mourned my buddy Tim who I now realized died of Fauci.  If you missed all that or the earlier posts on The Stack, then I suggest you read them soon, as it will likely be deleted next week.  I am moving on to other projects and won't have time for it, and since there's nothing sadder than an unupdated website, it's closing time.  I had fun doing it, and I can see returning to Substack sometime as it's a cool platform.  Everything's free, and some will likely never be republished, so now's the time.

For more fun, please read my latest novel, Fast Guy Slows Down

And, for even more fun, here's some Yeast?:

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Excerpt From "Le Star" by James Nowlan

How does it really feel there under those lights in front of the camera?  Hot, uncomfortable, a bit like being on the stand as the witness to a heinous crime?  But they look happy and maybe they are.  Seems as though a lot of people dream of nothing but that and if you’ve gone through everything you have to go through to get there, get to this place where it is, that is the place that everyone is supposed to want to be, then you couldn’t admit to yourself that it wasn’t worth it; you’d have to force yourself to enjoy it or take whatever sort of substances necessary to help you to project a simulacra of joy.

The man on the stage, the halogens shining into his eyes so brightly that he could barely glimpse the audience, didn’t seem to need encouragement.  The expansiveness of his gestures and the extravagance of his facial expressions seemed to be desperately trying to seize the attention of a large studio audience and a continent-wide television public.  One could compare him to a desperate man lost at sea frantically signally at a passing ocean liner in the hope of at least one passenger remarking his flailing shouting form amongst the waves.  The strange color of his skin, a sort of boiled lobster red, might also bring to mind a shipwreck victim, but in his case this inflamed hue had been caused by various skin lightening and darkening agents that he had frequently resorted to in order to conform to the shade of ethnicity demanded by Internet announcers that he assiduously responded to, applying the bleaching cream or swallowing the suntan pills before even receiving an answer, believing that his very willingness to enter in the skin of the character would be felt by whomever it was that might be in charge of the casting and so increase his chances. His morphology contributed as much to the frantic image as his complexion.  Behind flabby jowls that trembled spasmodically an overly developed jaw was clenched.  Massively muscled arms hung alongside a belly that threatened to gush forth from the girdle that was holding it in check, evidence of serious hormonal imbalances provoked by years of abusing steroids that a studied eye would easily discern.

The language that he spoke, something like French or at least something that could be understood as such, in which lapses of grammar attempted to excuse themselves by misuse of argot added a fitting narration to the travesty of his appearance, a badly articulated commentary upon a ruined landscape that we would never wish to visit but might watch on the evening news fascinated by the devastation.  And like a hastily recruited native journalist he recounted a version of events that had more than a bit of bias.

“You don’t know me!  You don’t know what I’m capable of!  Me, I come from the street.  Bourgeois Bohemians like yourselves can’t understand.  I didn’t want to become a violent person; I was forced to.  I grew up amongst the chaos and had to learn to survive with it.  Most of my childhood friends killed someone or were killed by someone.  How many killers or murder victims do you know?  I’ve known too many, too many to ever become just a person like other persons, but by chance I’ve found this craft, acting, that has allowed me to channel my rage in another direction, so I won’t have to hurt anyone.”

This short speech finished, the lights dimmed and revealed that the speaker had been addressing an audience not at all equal to this dramatic revelation.  A group, who seemed to have been the sort who had spent to many years in college to be good for anything else, looked on.  A tall grimly thin individual in a black turtleneck sweater and beret who stood off to one side seemed to be in charge of things.  They looked away from the glare of Rudolph who was squinting against the light to discern their reaction and towards the man who had put him onstage.  Seeing him softly tap the tips of his fingers together in a gesture more like a children’s game than applause they imitated him.  This tiny sound was amplified by Rudolph’s ecstatic post performance revery into the first hint of an acclaim that would soon come thundering forth from a world that was not even capable of anticipating his greatness.  He began to clap as well, and the sound of his prodigious palms being driven together by his swollen biceps reverberated through the empty theatre where this sad conclusion of a pathetic acting seminar was happening.  He clapped louder and louder as if wanting to fill the seats with his enthusiasm quelling what little there was amongst the others who let their arms fall at their sides to watch him impassively as he gave himself an encore.  Glancing over at a monitor that happened to be set up he caught a glimpse of himself, a ludicrous figure with an undersized head thrust forward at the end of a large neck like a performing seal, and he fell silent, looking down at feet that shuffled back and forth trying to escape his embarrassed gaze.

To break this uncomfortable moment the professor stepped forward with a placating gesture, waving jazz hands trying to recapture the paltry energy that was even now dissipating he said, “Let’s do our motivational mantra.”  Robotically everyone made a circle that deformed as Rudolph approached, no one wanting to find themselves next to him holding his hand but at the same time wanting to hide their repugnance.  It even broke apart and came back together several times like a folk dance performed by foreigners ignorant of the social etiquette governing the exchange of partners but then the professor came like a native master and forced everyone into place and intoned by himself the first bar, which was then taken up by the others.

“Je serais riche, je serais célèbre, je serais aimé”, a refrain which caught the ears of some American tourists passing by on the street outside, following the itinerary of a trashy overmarketed best seller, and was taken to be the litany of an ancient cruelly depraved sect.  They stopped.  The garishly covered, overpriced, and flamboyantly written pulp thriller that was their murky guide to the city of light held psalmodical in their pudgy hands.  The tempo accelerated and chanting grew louder, “je serais riche, je serais célèbre, je serais aimé,” and they gazed at one another with bovine wonderment.  Not knowing what was being said they gave all sorts of arcane significance to these three short phrases, “I will be rich, I will be famous, I will be loved”, but if it might be translated for them would they recognize it as a sentiment having its origins in the same country as themselves or would they still refuse to accept its banality?  Inside, heedless now of any eavesdroppers of any language, the chant had taken on the throbbing intonation of a prop plane waiting to takeoff.

“JESERAISRICHEJESERAISCELEBREJESERAISAIMEJESERAISRICHEJESERAISCELEBREJESERAISAIMEJESERAISRICHEJESERAISCELEBREJESERAISAIMEJESERAISRICHEJESERAISCELEBREJE
SERAISAIME JESERAISRICHEJESERAISCELEBREJESERAISAIME”.

The low cultural tourists looked around themselves drugged by the strange energy emanating from the door.  The stone buildings blackened by pollution looked stained with evil and the press of passersby hurrying home to heat up a meal to eat before the evening news seemed animated by some awful force.  They hailed a taxi to flee to their familiar hotel room with the comfort of its mini-bar under a reassuring CNN voice and face beamed into the television by satellite.

In the dilapidated theatre that seldom hosted any more exciting performances or attracted a more enthralled crowd the departure of this audience was somehow sensed, and the bubble of the group’s enthusiasm burst to leave them looking blankly at each other.  Though they had all planned to go off somewhere together afterwards to discuss the months long course that had ended that night they couldn’t seem to conceive a strategy whereby the awkward presence of their cumbersome classmate could be avoided.  So, they hastily left with barely perceptible nods of farewell and the cartoonishly bloated principal player found himself alone with the director of the drama, whose last scene was now to be played to an empty theater.

Rudolph had been staring into the high seats with what he imagined was an expression of arrogant disdain in anticipation of being surely invited somewhere by the numerous admirers he was sure he had made.  So transfixed was he by the idea of the grandiose figure that he must have been making he didn’t even notice the departure of the other students until a harumph of the professor, who was curiously named Henri Ruisseau, brought his attention back to painful realization of his solitude.  But Henri at least seemed to be interested, he was certainly looking at Rudolph with an inquiring gaze and in anticipation of the flattering words that would soon be pronounced by the gazer he put his best attempt at a smile (he would have spent more time in front of the mirror practicing it but he wasn’t looking for smiling roles) onto his face.

But the lines that his instructor fed him were not at all what an extra with such a bit part merited “By the way you haven’t paid for the course yet.”

Since the script that he had already rehearsed in his head for several days, abundant praise and the offer of a role with persons more important than this teacher (the sort of person he been raised in contempt of), hadn’t been followed he was forced to improvise.  With an insolent tone he responded, “Well you know the welfare board they’re supposed to take care of that, you see this is part of my vocational rehabilitation.”

“The welfare board?” muttered the professor vaguely, as if it was an organism of an obscure faith whose beliefs he was unfamiliar with, “well I’ve heard nothing from them, never even heard that I should hear something from them. You see we’re showbusiness professionals not social workers.”

Rudolph was on the point of becoming threatening but this word “professional” gave him pause.  He had basically become a semi-professional welfare recipient because he had failed in his endeavors to become a professional of violent crime.  His failures in this domain shamed him still.  By an unusual series of events he had come or perhaps been encouraged to see the opportunity of portraying violent criminals who appeared much more successful in their violence and their criminality than he had ever been as a sort of compensation.  So, he was at a loss until looking around him he found inspiration.  “And you, mister professor, you think you’re a real professional here in your empty theater?”

Rudolph had expected either aggressive arrogance or cowed abasement in response but the professor, rather like a ninja in a martial arts film that the aspiring actor was very inspired by, seemed to cloud the thoughts of his opponent with a so sudden change of identity that it warped the spirit.  Pacing off in a circle, his hands held before him their fingers splayed in a frozen jest he intoned a murmur that recalled the mantra of the group.  “I was a professional, or what they call a professional because I knew the people that one has to know to be called a professional but something happened something too terrible to speak of, a sort of vengeance of the divine Dionysiac forces through my excess and now I’m condemned to perform paltry pieces of works to no audience.”

Rudolph gave him the contemptuous smirk that he held in reserve as the parting response to any who he felt held nothing more of interest to him and he strode away giving a kick to a stray chair that had the misfortune to find itself in his path.  He was going to slam the heavy door with no backward glance but for some reason believing that the professor must have been watching his departure with some disappointment he looked over his shoulder before slinging the door shut to see the professor standing in a ray of light that the sun had contrived to shine down upon him through a shutter that had been left open.  The darkly clad man appeared to be a disembodied head floating in space staring off into the void.

This vision continued to haunt Rudolph on his long train ride out to the housing project that he inhabited.  The faces on the commuters all seemed to know things that he would never understand.  He was relieved to finally get home and turn on his television, the most luxurious element in his home that he had only been able to buy when the social services department had accidentally sent him an extra check.  Its expensive light seemed to chase away the dreariness of his life and the squalor of his surroundings.  And as often happens the television was by chance tuned to a program that might have been made just for him.

The high-tech screen displayed the image of an industrial building from another age, the terrible teeth of its jagged roof biting its final morsels from a sky that it would soon no longer touch ever again, and the cheerfully designed title of the emission "Star Factory" that was to lead the postindustrial audience into a brighter future.  The robotized camera which was capturing this panned vertiginously down and to the right to reveal the host of the show who was actually having trouble hiding his distaste for the proceedings but the pained look upon his face would be interpreted as a sort of empathy by thousands of viewers more or less like Rudolph (but hopefully very few as like Rudolph as Rudolph was like Rudolph).  As the camera zoomed in, the assistant director cued him to speak, and he detached his lips which seemed stuck together with some invisible glutinous substance.  "Welcome dear viewers to a spectacle that will surely expand your vision of this world we all live in together".  The pursing of the lips and squinting of the eyes that was provoked by the idea of his being "together" with the filthy repugnant mass of mindlessly drooling spectators provoked for some reason a sort of infantile response similar to that many of them had felt when their parents stared down at them in their crib and they hesitated to change the channel.  A spectacle so perverse that a sane mind would find it more reasonable to go out in the street and start randomly shooting people than continue watching was to be presented for their edification.

Star Factory had been conceived by a strange cocktail of factors that had coalesced in divergent sundry and sordid locations to give birth to a strange hybrid: an industrial restructuring program and a top-rated TV show in one.  The bizarre liaisons that had led to such brutally banal product being put on the market (that ranged from perverse acts in cheap hotels and nightclub toilets to hushed discussions between highly paid corporate lawyers in corner offices) were known to few and better forgotten by everyone.  And now the unfortunate host (or rather fortunate considering his salary) was trying to peddle it to the public like a meth-whore back on the sidewalk after just having turned a quick trick.

As described in voice by him and artfully illustrated by a series of expertly edited images, the soon to be laid off workers of the sinister factory he was standing before had been presented a proposition that would open an undreamed-of world of opportunity for them.  Instead of continuing in their dreary repetitive tasks, they had been given the chance to become stars!  Yes, experts of the entertainment industry were now teaching them to sing and dance and they would soon be on stage before the world or at least the French television audience.  Those whom destiny had chosen to be stars would be propelled to the stratosphere, their image beamed by satellite around the world, not much mention was made of the fate of the rest but one would imagine a badly paid service job, limited health care, and a miserable life.

Some stray synapse (he had quite a few of these having had an eventful life and many of the events of it having been cerebral [not in the sense of intellectual but more of blunt trauma induced brain damage]) made his finger twitch upon the control button and switch to a news program that was being watched at the same time by his recently ex-drama teacher in his even dingier apartment in a rapidly gentrifying quarter of Paris.

Henri Ruisseau always watched the evening news in hope of hearing of something nasty business having happened to the well-known individuals that he had once frequented and he felt had betrayed him.  By some coincidence, or perhaps a tactic of counter programming the news was presenting the same scene as the entertainment program but from a slightly different perspective.  The aging factory where the improbable reality show was to take place looked even grimmer in the background behind the rusting spike-topped gates.  A ragtag group of sign waving protestors was assembled before these gates the color level settings in the video processing computer of the remote news van investing their faces with a ruddy hue which made them look as if they had been drinking more than they had been.  As the camera zoomed in on the leader of the group a technician cranked up the red level till the face on his monitor glowed and the union representative’s image almost bled into a blur as he started to speak.

“It’s all a hoax!  The winners of this competition were chosen in advance.  They didn’t know how to do their jobs but they were hired anyway.  Afterwards I caught them several times singing and dancing in the toilets.  I thought it was some sort of kinky stuff I’d never heard of.  When they announced this goofy restructuring program I knew right away what it was.  None of us who’s been really working at this factory for years has got any chance of becoming a 'STAR' anyway I think the idea of becoming a star is completely stupid they’re all a bunch of bisexual scientologists or something it’s probably being promoted by some kind of crypto-royalists to stupefy people to the point where they’ll accept anything.”

James Nowlan is the author of the novels Security, Killebrity, and Shock And Awe.  He is also a filmmaker, and I am quite happy to feature his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

And here's some bonus Yeast? for James and you!: