The Living End

What a way to (not) make a living.

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Game of Thrones=Well-performed Donkey Show in Tijuana

Yeah, let the vitriol fly fanboys (and girls).  See, I still do this weird arcane thing at night.  No, not THAT weird, arcane thing.  That comes later.  I actually have these objects that I pay about $30.00 a piece for (because I believe in supporting authors, and think there IS a difference between “The Stand” and “My Adventure at Band Camp with Poems About Laurie” by HarryPotter99, for sale for .99 download).  These objects have PAPER (this stuff made of the denuded rain forest, which–when they run out of trees–I’m hoping they come grind up Oregon because I LIKE PAPER!!!) and hard covers, with cool artwork (unless you’re Michael Moorcock in the 1970’s).  I can sit it on my chest and turn the real PAPER pages, one by one as I read.  That’s right, I READ BOOKS.

And HBO has SLAUGHTERED my favorite series, by George R.R. Martin.

First I had to overlook that all of the Stark children are played by twenty-something actors.  Except the youngest two, who are still older than they are supposed to be. Westeros is apparently DIFFERENT in HBOland.  Then I had to overlook all these little fanboy virgins who spend so much time on the computer I’m not sure they even recall they make actual books you can buy.  Every Game of Thrones online discussion that exists is crawling with these idiots.  I have a game on my smartphone called Quiz Up, and its great fun to beat the stuffing out of players on the Game of Thrones (movie) topic.  It’s a whole different experience when you get on the Game of Thrones (literary) topic.  Because the questions are from the BOOK (remember: made of paper?)–not the HBO fiasco.  YES…the one that’s raking in billions, I know.  I could go on: about the changes in plot, the people of Essos looking (for the most part) completely unlike how they were described in the novels.  The fact that Catelyn Stark was MUCH more attractive (and younger) in the books.  No offense to the actor, but she’s well-past menopause.  Catelyn could have had more children.  The “beautification” of almost every character (even The Hound isn’t THAT ugly, and Tyrion’s nose is definitely NOT half gone), and a lot of added homosexuality.  I have NOT ONE THING against gays or lesbians.  Personally, I thought Brienne of Tarth was a closet-Butch no matter how much she “loved” Renly.  But GO BY THE BOOK, HBO. Don’t “gay” something up just to have a certain number of gay characters.  I think homosexual people should be outraged at being made a statistic in the same way African-Americans are: a token, put in by producers to keep everyone from burning a city down.  In the BOOK, sure there were HINTS that certain characters preferred listening to YMCA than fighting a dirty scumbag like Gregor Clegane.  But lets not get carried away with changing the AUTHORS words.

And how is it that it’s “cool” to like fantasy all of a sudden.  When I was in high school, us fantasy geeks were usually the subject of wedgies, swirlies, and straight-up ass kickings.  It’s SO cool now that even other writers (like Steve King) MENTION GRRM’s series in THEIR books.

But the thing that REALLY gets me is the amount of crap GRRM has taken from the ladies about “violence against women”.

I was just kidding about calling you ladies.  You are most definitely women, Hear Me Roar (just like the Lannisters).  I know how “ladies” upsets you guys…I mean gals.  Or whatEVER.  See, I can’t win.  When you play the PC game you always lose.

Women: Hear Me.

THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. GRRM is NOT (repeat) NOT a misogynist wimin-hater.  Just because women are getting chopped up, beaten, tortured, eaten, and raped DOES NOT mean he doesn’t LIKE YOU. It’s an IMAGINARY world (not real) and guess what: being set in a sort-of Medieval/Dark Ages world, that’s just how things WERE. Listen to the wisdom of the Queen of Thorns if you doubt me.  She knows the score.  Her husband managed to ride off a cliff while he was hawking.  There might be a lot of rapin’ but person-for-person, the men get killed ten times as often as the womenfolk.

In this IMAGINARY world, some women are crafty.  Some are intelligent.  Some are dull-witted.  Some use their bodies as weapons.  Some follow the Borgia example and use poison.  Even a few are bad ass fighters.  But this isn’t Xena, folks.  MOST women in a Dark Ages fantasy setting are going to be “the weaker sex” in most ways.  Physically most of all.  It DOESN’T have any hidden political agenda.  Trust me: I took Women’s Studies (yeah, go ahead and laugh) and I am all about the lad…errr…wimin.  TRUST ME! Women are getting cut up and beat because they did not have strongly enforceable domestic violence provisions in the laws of the land.

BUT IT’S NOT A REAL PLACE! Tonight, the season concluded with Bran meeting the Children of the Forest, who throw fireballs and DON’T look ANYTHING like I thought they would look.  And Brienne of Tarth kicked Sandor Clegane’s ass.  There’s one for the wimin.

But then they HAD to go and turn Tyrion’s murder of Shae into a “fair fight”…obviously giving in to the pressure GRRM has talked about himself.  Shae draws a knife and attacks Tyrion, so he basically “has to kill her”.  NO. HE KILLED THE BITCH. He was in love with her, and for the SECOND time in his life a whore (he thought) broke his heart, then testified against him, THEN crawled in bed with his daddy!  Now, in the REAL world I’d say Tyrion would be arrested, but it would be ruled a crime of passion–second degree murder at most, and probably manslaughter with a minimum sentence.  He just didn’t walk in there and kill her to the soundtrack of “Smack My Bitch Up”.

My point to all this: lighten up. And read a book.

If you want to protest ending domestic violence, DO IT IN THE REAL WORLD…where it can REALLY help.

 

GEORGE RR MARTIN IS A CYBORG!

Anytime I see one of my favorite writer’s name in the same sentence as “death” I have to take a peak.  After all (and I don’t mean to sound like a jackass) but I spent YEARS of my own life (and hundreds of dollars) trying to get through Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, only to have him die.

Well, now it seems HBO has turned George RR Martin–who says he longs for death–into a cyborg to complete his series.

This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while.  GEORGE IS A CYBORG!

 

A Serbian Film: Garbage Art

I’ve seen a L O T of what I call ‘garbage art’ in my day.  I’ve sat through some really horrible punk bands at the Metroplex in Atlanta.  I’ve performed in a pretty bad band myself (though we got better).  I’ve been to a lot of gallery openings and shows for artists (we used to play at a lot of these events, giving me unfettered access into the snobbery and dull wit at work in the art world).

And I’ve seen a lot of utter nonsense–be it art, film, or music–heralded as “genius” when it should have been heaved into the garbage.  Preferably shoved down deep in a dumpster, under moldy coffee grounds behind a Starbucks (where pseudo-intellectuals meet to impress each other with how many times they can fit the phrase “dystopian postmodernism” into conversation).

But the Internet allows pretty much anyone to do anything, film it, and upload it for mass consumption.  So it is online where most of the Garbage Art I have come across has wasted precious seconds I will one day wish I’d reserved for drooling.

I have seen a short piece of film from somewhere in Asia (though the “artist” was careful not to be too specific, lest her “critics”–the cops–were to drop by to chat about dystopian postmodernism at an inopportune time).  In this film a well-dressed young woman (presumably the artist, but who knows?) wearing high heels kills a small mouse by grinding it under the spike of her footwear.

Now, I’m not a member of PETA…and I myself killed a number of mice (without using heels) that had infiltrated my home one winter, mainly because I was in poor health and these were a species known to carry various nasty viruses.  Then I learned you could simply use peppermint oil and drive them away.  No killing necessary.  And my high heels didn’t get gummed up in mouse guts. None of my actions were artistic (unless you count that I had a canvas drying inside during one of my mice murders).

Also online, I have sat through the infamous “Two Girls, One Cup” incident.  For the three people who have never heard of this, I am not going to even describe it because that would give these “artists” MORE publicity.  Do yourself a mental health favor: DON’T try to find it online.  You will eventually come across it, and there are things you can’t “unsee” once you’ve seen them.  Let’s just say that the cup is NOT filled with champagne.

One might call either of these videos “performance art”.  Genesis P-Orridge may call it “tame” performance art”.  S/He may be right (sorry G–don’t know what you prefer).  Personally, I can’t see Genesis having much to say about either for various reasons, but this is not a piece of (or on, rather) Throbbing Gristle.

Finally: I wasted even more precious time (I could have watched a couple re-runs of “Full House” and gotten more “art”) on “A Serbian Film” which depicts (among other things) a newborn infant being raped.  Now, maybe Sting will record a song called “Do the Serbians Love Their Children Too?” and THAT might be art…though the answer, at least in this film, is CLEARLY “no”. No, they do NOT love their children.  And THAT was the most artistic thing I could think of to say about this hunk of garbage.

I DID waste a bit more time reading some critical responses to the film…which basically made me decide why bad art and those too stupid to make it (critics of bad art) are too good for the dumpster behind Starbucks.

P.S. WHY DID I WATCH ALL THIS? That’s the catch, isn’t it? This stuff goes viral (an excellent name for it) not because it is worthy of respect.  I can name a dozen “starving artists” (writers, filmmakers, photographers, etc.) that are REALLY TRYING to produce something of worth.  And really deserve attention.  Not all of it is stuff I like, by the way.  And though I suppose as an American I should add that “…Serbian” does not appear to use an actual infant for the rape (or I presume what passes for law enforcement in Serbia or wherever it was filmed would be around to talk about dystopian postmodernism with the filmmaker), it looks like they DO “use” an infant for part of the filming.  Which is pretty bad parenting considering the overall context of the film.  Even if it is a total animatronic kid (yeah, because Serbia is a hotbed of animatronic special effects, as we all know), my point is this: blah blah first amendment, blah blah right to blah your type of blah whether it is really art or just blah to the rest of us blahs.

I watched to see if it was hype.  Which makes me no better than someone who follows the Kardashians.  Worse, even. So bad art is art, in a way.  It is a reflection of us, like all art–and the worst in us.  Unfortunately, Mister Artist, I know that you know that I know that you know that you didn’t make your film to point this out.  Most of us can figure that puzzle out for ourselves.  And the rest think art is a picture a kitten hanging from a tree branch with the words: “Hang In There!” underneath.  Which is probably better art, sad to say, than any of the examples I’ve used in this blah.

 

What I Owe My Father

I owe my father more than just quitting.  I want to be a quitter.

I want to sink into that dark, heavy grease of depression and death: the tarry substance that lies in the night sky between stars; the space without life or oxygen or gravity that is as cold as Absolute Zero and eats feelings for breakfast, leaving you unburdened with things like grief and fear and the other fabrics of human emotion.

Before he died (in April of 2012; was that last week? A month or so ago? Something like that. I have lost all calendars and all my watches have slowly wound down and stopped tick-clicking their soothing song of mortality, but that seems a fair reckoning) he was constantly harassing me about writing posts for this blog; I didn’t even know he knew it existed for a long time.  He read the last (stupid; pathetic; churlish; childish) post, and he wanted more.  I had to take medical leave from my regular gig at the small town newspaper, and was (mostly) lying to friends and family about my progress on THE NOVEL. My dad didn’t care about the newspaper–other than what I wrote for it.  He knew the publisher for a first-rate bastard, and was uninterested in reading anything after I went on leave.  Occasionally he would read something one of my friends in Rainsville or Scottsboro (at our sister-papers) would pen.  But mostly he subsisted on what I (wasn’t) writing on this pathetic little blog.

The last thing I said to my father: “I think we should go a while without talking.”  It was after an argument.  I have no idea what it was about.  Isn’t that funny? Yeah.  Not really, I guess.  Except, God (whatever your conception of He, She, or It is) must have gotten a big laugh over those words.

Except I did sort of talk to my father.  He was to be cremated, but the funeral home generously provided a gurney and a small “visitation room” so my brother and I could have a little time to say goodbye to him.  So I saw him one last time.  I yelled at him.  “Why didn’t you go to the hospital?” Why. Why Why. I yelled, cried, screamed, laughed hysterically, whispered apologies, entreaties to God, promises and bargains I had no way of keeping (or even making).  God and my father were both silent.

“When are you going to write something else on your blog?” That was the last thing I can remember my father asking me.

It probably wasn’t the last thing he said to me.  But it’s all I’ve got.

And I owe him more than my silence.

So I guess I will try to talk more.  I know he’s not reading.  But maybe he is. What I know is often proven to be not as much as I think I do, so who can say? I owe him more than I can ever repay.  I wrote my first story when I was six or seven.  I wrote silly songs, chants, rituals to satisfy my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, liner notes for the tapes bands I was in put out, bad poetry, mediocre poetry, checks, bad checks, and the beginnings of several novels.

Oh, and articles and columns for 4 newspapers, two magazines, and a couple of ‘zines.

And I guess I’m writing posts for EVIL ROBOTS again.  Because I owe my father.  Big time.

Hope you’re out there somewhere, daddy.  I like to think you are in one of those bright, white stars, surrounded by all that cold black space.  I’ll try to stay out of the dark as long as I can.  I can’t make any promises, because we can’t shake on them.  But I’m trying.

Because I owe you.

I Wanna Be A Giggling Teenage Girl

Okay, so I don’t really want to be a giggling teenage girl. At least, not for any meaningful amount of time. But imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when science might let us “try on” different bodies. Is it so hard to believe? Making spare parts to order is still in its infancy, but it IS possible. And we already try on different personas for recreational (even therapeutic) reasons. Millions of people waste (or invest, depending on your point-of-view) much of their real life pretending to be someone else, online. Probably 75% of the “teenage girls” in chat rooms are bored, middle-aged guys. And there are even virtual spaces–like Second Life–where you can interact with other people doing the same exact thing. Who knows? You might even meet your soul mate, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Blah blah blah. Of course, creating an online avatar is a LOOOOOONNNNGGGG way from slipping on somebody else’s body or controlling another human being like a puppet. Plus, even if you could do this, there would be all kinds of legal and ethical arguments. I mean, what if you killed someone or robbed a bank while using another person’s body? I suppose the way to go would be to make up a body using your own genetic material as raw materials. In the wild, weird world of science fiction, both of these examples are well-used ideas. Cyberpunk demigod William Gibson envisioned a dystopian future where men and women rented out their flesh while their minds wandered through a fantasyland of simulated stimuli (Simstim for short). This sort of prostitution–where your body became a “meat puppet” for the sexual entertainment of others–was the background Gibson invented for his most sensual (and strong) female character: Molly Millions (aka Sally Shears). [If you want to get an idea of what this compelling character looked like (at least in my mind’s eye), think of Daryl Hannah’s Pris in the seminal cyberpunk film Blade Runner.]

So if you COULD…would you? Just to see what it’s like. Nobody’s saying you have to have sex using your temporary flesh playpen–though I’m sure 99.997% of sexual tourists renting another person’s body would be doing so for this specific reason. But it might be fun just to check things out from a different perspective. It’s a question I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion.

The Internet–which is, as everyone knows, mostly porn anyway–is also the home to the world’s greatest treasure trove of freaky-deakyness. A little searching brings up a medical clearinghouse of information on gender reassignment surgery. Now, that’s obviously taking things a bit too far for the casual tourist. I mean, that’s one of those things that can’t exactly be undone. But it is fascinating. So far, male to female reassignment has been the most aesthetically successful. Apparently it’s easier to cut things off than to make up new things using flesh as a kind of play dough. After viewing some examples of the results I was pretty amazed. But not amazed enough to pay tens of thousands of dollars to a surgeon to bobbitt my hobbit, so-to-speak. After all, I don’t want to be a woman. But I’m secure enough in my sexuality to not get all freaked out by thinking about it.

But if I could try on someone elses’s skin (preferrably not in the ancient Aztec manner, where priests would flay sacrificial victims and wear their skin around like a cloak), I’d want it to be either someone famous…or a giggling teenage girl.

As I write this post, using McDonald’s free wi-fi (since apparently Hugh’s Net technicians can’t provide even half-assed customer service), there is a table full of giggling teenage girls sitting across from me. Occasionally, one of them will stare at me, lean down and whisper conspiratorially to her friends, then all of them will break into paroxysms of giggles. Now, if this had happened to me as a teenager (which it did, quite frequently) I would have turned six shades of red. As a “responsible grown-up” (what a clever disguise), I like to try to embarass people who annoy me. It’s a game I rarely get to play with teen girls, because (as are almost all males aged 30-90) I’m invisible to them. I don’t exist (apparently), or maybe I don’t show up on their radar, I don’t really know what the deal is. So, grinning gleefully, I shout (it’s important to do this part as loudly as possible; and sure, people are gonna look at you kinda funny, and the management may ask you to leave. So what?): “Hey, girls!”

When they look up, I see gazelle-like wariness. No more giggles, girls? (“Like, oh my God, Meghan! I think that old man is, like, staring at us, or something. Is he, like, talking to us? Maybe he’s, like, one of those crazy homeless people who talk to themselves…oh MY God…”)

“Hey! Girls!” I yell in my reddest of redneck voices. “Ya’ll like Iron Maiden? Woo! IRON MAIDEN!! Man, that’s some good jams, right there! Ya’ll ever hear em do “Powerslave”? Now that there is rock! That’s rock and ROLL, the real deal, right there!” Then I air-guitar a few bars of a “Powerslave”/”The Trooper” medley for them. They are mortified. Too scared to move, too confused to remember how to giggle.

The manager, who I notice has both his ears pierced and is wearing what looks like large brass door knobs in them (this is probably not part of the official management dress code), is laughing hysterically, so I don’t have to worry about him calling the cops. I go back to typing on my laptop, feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.

So, I know what you may be thinking (well, besides “that guy is probably a danger to himself and/or others”): WHY would I want to be a giggling teenage girl–even for one minute?

Well, let me stress: it ain’t so I can text my BFF Dakota how much “like, my mom is SUCH a bitch, and you know Austin is maybe, like THE ONE I’d go all the way with, maybe, but I don’t know, because I think I really, really like Tyler, too, except that Mackenzie said SHE likes Tyler, and I’m not really, like, sure if she means MY Tyler–well, you know–or Jaden’s brother Tyler, who works at Baskin Robbins…yeah, the Tyler that we saw last weekend at Aeropostale, you are SUCH a ditz, my GOD…”

I mean, if you are going to try on the opposite sex like a nice pair of jeans, do you REALLY want to try on your mother or your second grade teacher? I figure the way to do it is pick a nice, healthy teenage girl, get in and out quick. No time for mood swings or cramps. Don’t wanna take any algebra test or see what a birth control pill tastes like. Maybe take a cruise around, see what it feels like to be that age again, to be at the height of your physical ripeness, with NO worries or responsibilities AT ALL…before the corruption of age, kids, a loveless marriage, maybe a few years on crystal meth, living in some trailer with a guy (not named Austin or Tyler or Jaden) who has shitty jailhouse tats (maybe “Nookie” or “Tool” across his knuckles) who occasionally passes out in the yard trying to find his keys (they’re in your truck, dipshit).

Ahhh. The springtime of youth.

So you think YOUR family is nutso…

Sometimes, when I get into a fight with another member of Clan Purvis (usually my brother or father), I think: “My God, I must have the craziest, most dysfunctional family on earth!” HAH! You better thank your lucky stars, the belly of Buddha, St. Whatshername, or the Great Goat of Gomorrah–whatever him or her you find holy–that you don’t have a family like my friend Melissa! Out of respect for her (and her children), I will leave out the last name(s) of those involved in this sordid tale, and slightly tweak the first names. But they live a few miles from Fort Payne in a charming little village we’ll call “Evesburg”.

Now, Melissa is a nurse. And from what I’ve seen, she’s not only competent, but a highly-skilled and genuinely caring member of that profession. She’s had some bad luck with members of my gender (possibly cosmically balanced-out by my bad luck with members of HER gender), but she’s come through scarred but smiling. She has 3 kids that are, well, kids. Imperfect (as are we all) but interesting.

Recently, I visited her home at a time of great crisis: her 13-year old son (who is a bright, good-natured kid with Asperger’s) had admitted that he’d been molested by a cousin living nearby. I imagine this is every parent’s worst nightmare. I remember how I felt when I discovered my girlfriend’s father (who I counted as a friend of mine, and with whom I had left my young son for brief periods during my 3-year long relationship with his daughter) was a pedophile who drugged and photographed his own youngest daughter and some of her friends.

The problem was, Melissa lives on family-owned property, and apparently her aunt Susanne and cousin Myshelle did not believe her son had been touched. They managed to convince Melissa’s grandfather that the incident not only DIDN’T happen, but was invented by the boy as an excuse to steal a go-kart and some toys from this 45-year old cousin who had–according to her son–held him down, removed some clothing, and fondled him.

The sick thing is (well, ONE of the sick things), this freakish man-child actually ADMITTED what he did…and Melissa’s family STILL didn’t believe her son! Not only that, but they threatened to put her and her children in the street if she dared to say anything! That’s when the story takes a turn into the Twilight Zone. Apparently, the hulking man-child who touched her son had purchased some toys to lure her son over to his house…including a go-kart that he couldn’t even get into. The creep’s elderly father and the offender give the kid the go-kart and some toys, and have the audacity to try to harass my friend at home and at work. The day I come up to her house, I have the misfortune to come up right as Melissa’s family is having a loud, public argument (in the front yard) with her oldest daughter’s boyfriend. Before you can say “My family is insane” I’m suddenly a part of the drama. Suddenly, the family is saying that the boyfriend, myself, and some other unnamed individuals are all members of the mafia, and we’ve somehow convinced Melissa’s autistic son to make up this  horrible story as some sort of “cover” in order to steal some toys. I guess we’re the toy mafia of northeast Alabama, now.

Now, OF COURSE there is more to the story. But if you really think about it, there is only ONE THING that matters: a child has been touched. And if your own FAMILY won’t believe and support you….well, let’s just say that my OWN family is looking much more supportive and “normal” by contrast.

I could blog a lot more about this subject, but it’s making me feel ill. I need to watch “The Sound of Music” or something else relentlessly happy to cleanse my soul before I think about this any further.

The moral to the story–if you can’t tell–is “maybe you really don’t have it so bad after all.”

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