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Sam Kinison died almost a million dollars in the hole. He stuck the IRS with $500K and a film company with another $200K for a shitty movie about an Eskimo. He stuck American Express with a $150K.

He was a pedal to the floor man. Despite the wildness, his death was a freak accident. He was going about 25 mile per hour when a truck barreled into him on the freeway. It was in the wrong lane. A shirtless teenager was driving. Kinison had been married for five days.

Kinison was my age when he died, 38. It wasn’t a rock n roll death. He had cleaned up a bit, but he wasn’t clean. He wasn’t at the top, but he was climbing back up. I guess you could say something about the timing of his death, Kinison did, his last words were said to sound like an argument with someone who wasn’t there. He asked “why now?” and said he didn’t want to die. He died on the side of the road with the kid who caused the wreck giving him CPR.

There were over 400 celebrities at his funeral. Many remarked he was such an original, he would always be remembered. But like us all, he will be forgotten. Just yesterday I was talking about him with a coworker who’s not even ten years younger than me. She had never head of Kinison. Celebrity is fickle and comedy, unlike music, doesn’t have a great shelf life.

The world will have every standing stone turned on its side before it’s done with all of us. The  sun will bathe our planet with radioactive fire on its own journey to the beyond. What will be left? Will some weird creature on a distant world even notice when all we have done is incinerated by the thing that gives pretty young people tans?

Like Sam, I don’t want to die either. But my joints and aches let me know I’m on the backend of this whole thing. I used to always be worried about figuring out something great to do before I die. But I think maybe I’ve found it in my small life with Mrs. Lott. I got to sit all morning reading books with one of our bad little dogs on my lap. I drove Mrs. Lott back from the airport last night and we laughed the whole ride home.

 

 

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Smith & Wesson .357 revolver. Number one on my shopping list.

My wife says I’m hard to shop for. That’s not true. The stuff I want is just expensive and even if I had the money to buy it, she wouldn’t approve of most of it. Other than books, I don’t really buy too much stuff. I replenish my wardrobe of black t-shirts, black Chuck Taylor’s, and Levi’s on Amazon periodically. I don’t collect junk. I don’t need much.

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Mrs. Lott hates cowboy boots and harness boots with a passion. I love these, but I can’t imagine I’d hear the end of it.

I would be quite pleased to have all the stuff pictured in this post. It’s not like I don’t like having things, I just prioritize not needing things. I kind of hate how trendy minimalism is. People act like it’s a damn virtue, but it’s not. I get away with it because I don’t have any real responsibilities or kids. I’m a little less earthquake secure than I’d like to be, but for day to day living, I’m fine.

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These Marlin rifles look great and are really fun to shoot.

My birthday’s coming up, so I might treat myself to something cool, like some new boots or a revolver. I haven’t bought anything much for myself other than a few $2000 pieces of cadaver tissue I had sewn into my grill. As weird as it sounds, I’m in the mood for some shopping.

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I don’t know why Mrs. Lott hates old trucks so much, but I love this one. 

I used to make these lists in my journals about stuff I’d buy if I was rich. It was usually some sort of guitar equipment or movie making gear. Which is weird, because I haven’t ever been too successful at either of those pursuits.

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Now that’s a knife for skull crushing. 

All this shit I’ve gathered pictures of could be used in a zombie apocalypse. None of it’s really super rich guy stuff. It’s more like reduce with taste kind of stuff. Even the cool truck isn’t really that pricey compared to a new SUV.

Ultimately, what I really want most is time to read and think. I’ve been hiding out for almost two weeks. Doing nothing but relaxing on the couch before and after work, going through books. It’s always a pleasure to read. I wish I could say the same for writing.

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Do you think it would be possible to write a great love story if you’ve never been in love? I don’t. You’d never get the anger right. And you’d never capture how it changes over the years and oscillates between ever softening and calcifying extremes.

I think the same must be true for horror. You’d have to know real fear to capture it. I think this is why so many scary movies fail. The writers aren’t afraid of zombies or alien probing or slasher families. They probably adore all those things, I know I do. When it comes time to realize terror in words or some other media, the creators call the macabre muse with too much tinkle in the eye, two much sneer and smirk. It all becomes a funhouse. Thrills without risks.

In the old days there was plenty to fear. Wolves. Mustard gas. Spider hatchlings. Famine riots. The big fears got forged into monsters. Godzilla is nuclear annihilation. Rosemary’s Baby  is consumer modernity. I wonder what millenials are afraid of? I haven’t a clue. I guess they might be concerned with terrorism or any of a million other violent ends. All the awful consumer research I read to stay a high-tuned marketing assassin says the youngsters crave meaning, in their lives, in their work.

If they crave meaning, maybe the fear is for there to be no meaning. And possibly the fear of erasure. Shallow, unmarked graves and blood feuds ending bloodlines might be terror inducing. Or to find it really is nothing out there in the universe. What a trip if there wasn’t. Think about the consequences of there being no meaning. If you knew it for certain, what would you do? Would you try to create meaning? Maybe this is the aim of all the old stories. The thousand years old tales of how unearthly creatures formed the earth. Theology is the shield to cosmic bleakness.

Imagine a world where everyone was acutely aware of the meaninglessness of their existences. I think it would descend into mayhem quickly. I’m sure there would be pockets of experimental kindness, but blood and sharp steel would be ubiquitous until someone managed to put on a robe and talk better than the rest of the primates.

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Scary Thoughts is a new podcast I’m working on with the philosophically inclined electronic musician Marc Kate.  Episode one is edited and in the can. It’s about the nostalgia horror Netflix show, Stranger Things. I’ve been sending a private link out to anyone who’s interested and the response has been positive so far.

I’ve talked about the show a few times on this blog and I’ll link to it here when it’s live on iTunes.

On the episode we talk about deep cut inspirations for the show, sequel possibilities, the possible economic influences for the rise of synthesizer scores, and what good horror should be doing.

One of the really fun parts about the show is getting to know Marc. I met him because he’s my wife’s friend’s husband. We’ve talked a few times over the years, but I think we might’ve only had one or two real conversations in person before we recorded. We connect on so many things, but we have really diverging political leanings and backgrounds. I would never be so dull as to describe it as a left/right sort of thing, though. Marc is a great musician, an experienced DJ with a taste for the dark, and a strong background in critical theory. I saw a post from his wife today that noted he marked Judith Butler‘s birthday in his calendar.

Butler is the head of the Rhetoric department at UC Berkeley (I have an undergraduate degree from it). All that gender theory stuff the alt-right is freaking out about? Butler is thick with it. I don’t know that I much understand it, but I’ve read a lot of her stuff. I actually read about half of one of her essays today (they are not easy). But I also watched four episodes of Duck Dynasty tonight and had a half hour conversation with my ex-cop neighbor about the best caliber pistols for stopping people from charging you (he likes the .40 just fine). So there’s some yin and yang there.

Of course I’d like to become a millionaire podcaster and get a job rewriting horror scripts from this thing, but I have pretty modest goals. I’d like to meet some people from around the world who like to think about movies and still keep it silly. And I’d like to one day get invited to a panel on horror at any sic-fi/comic convention. I’ve been going to those panels for years and I always thought I’d be good on one.

I remember one of my favorite panels at Dragon Con sometime in about 1994 (I was 15). It was called “Do Goths Read?” Caitlin R. Kieran and Poppy Z. Brite, two fairly popular writers from what people at the time called the splatterpunk scene, were on the panel. One of the speakers started with, “I think the answer is ‘yes’, right?” Everyone laughed and agreed. The rest of the conversation was about what writers they liked. On that day I discovered William S. Burroughs, David Lynch, and a few other classic transgressives.

I’m curious to see where we land in the horror podcast ecosystem. Thanks to Marc’s recording background our show already sounds great. A lot of new podcasts suffer from shitty sound editing early on, so this is a huge advantage. We’re sort of academic, but not rigorous at all. I’m about as likely to drop an F bomb as much as mobilize a half baked Lacanian reading for something. It’s sort of not-so-close-close-readings.

A lot of the horror podcasts are by real horror completists and fanboys/girls. They’re all horror all the time, catching everything new, and geeking out about industry news. I seriously love that stuff and listen to it all the time (I’ll out together a list on a future post, probably for scary thoughts.org). I want to explore things that other people aren’t talking about without being too contrarian. I’m hoping what I read and think about will be original enough for people to come back to it.

 

 

Sam Kinison

This week I’m reading a Sam Kinison biography written by his brother Bill. It’s called Brother Sam: The Short, Spectacular life of Sam KinisonIf you’re a huge Kinison fan it’s worth a read, but be warned, the writing isn’t great and you can hear an axe being ground in the background of nearly every chapter.

It’s understandable, though. Sam really put his brother through some shit and I imagine not too many siblings have gone from taking care of their brother when they were a fucked up poor nobody to taking care of them when when they were a fucked up rich somebody.

I adored Sam Kinison as a kid. The first time I saw him was on his famous HBO special and then a few years later I saw his over the top scene in Rodney Dangerfield’s comedic masterpiece Back to School. Early on I was just responding to his screaming and whatnot. These days I find his religious and marriage material even funnier than I did in the 80s.

The book is peppered with really funny, dark stories I hadn’t heard before. One time when he was preaching the Gospel at a small Chicago church, he pulled out a .38 pistol and put two rounds into the ceiling to inspire his flock to dig a little deeper. He was in a bar fight with Jim Carrey as his backup. And he was quite the fan of threesomes.

He was also in a pretty big scene in The Three Amigos, but it got cut and the footage was lost. He was also up for the role of Beetlejuice. Imagine how different that would’ve been. I imagine the scenes with Winona Rider would’ve been even weirder. 

The book also mentions one of the most interesting things about Sam. When he was very young, he was involved in an accident and received a fairly serious brain injury. After that, he was never the same. He was wilder and angrier.

His impulsiveness is legendary. He would blow $15K at a time buying headbands and silk shirts. He had fast cars. When he ate at restaurants he’d ask the server what their biggest tip ever was, then leave them double whatever the answer was. He was generous and burned through money at an alarming rate. His appetite for drugs and women were enormous.

I just watched his performance on the Dangerfield’s HBO special. It still holds up, even if the references to Dr. Ruth are a little dated. That sort of high energy coupled with a feral mind is incredible to watch even three decades later.

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A few years ago I wrote a paper about masculinity and the apocalypse for an honors thesis at UC Berkeley. The paper was called Iron John Connor. It took a swipe at corny mythopoetic mens’ groups and gave me an excuse to write about the Terminator franchise.

I haven’t looked at the paper in years and I don’t think I have a copy of it, but as I remember, the general thesis was that all depictions of the end of the world have a savior character that is not only a form of messiah, but must also be capable of doing a bunch of useful things. For example, Sarah Connor (originally played by Linda Hamilton) raises her son John to be an end times badass: computer hacking, weapons training, machine fixing, survivalism, etc. He will need all these skills because it is foretold he will lead the surviving humans against Skynet, the evil Artificial Intelligence responsible for sending Terminators to kill everyone.

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In the back of my mind was the idea that modern males were slipping in their “masculinity” because they didn’t know how to do useful things like strip machine guns and kickbox with cyborgs.

Today the apocalypse genre is bigger than ever and is in some ways influencing what we think “real men” should be able to do. Just look at The Walking Dead. The most effective characters on that show are badasses who know how to fight and do weird Macguyver-esque survivalist tricks. In the six or seven years since I wrote my paper (which I received an A+ on), there are more wilderness survival schools, tactical shooting academies, and MMA gyms than ever before. It’s never been easier to get your end times training on.

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It’s not just enough to fight robots, though. You have to be able rebuild society and that’s where all those hipster homesteading classes come in. Canning, curing, candle making, foraging, and brewing will all be in serious demand after the last intelligent machine is crushed in battle.

Which brings me to Duck Dynasty. Like a lot of people who haven’t watched the show before, I had some opinions about it. I thought it was going to be yet another piece of shit Hollywood Southsploitation. Somehow I got it into my head that I wanted to watch the show (I think because of a recent interest in hunting). What I found was a fairly routine scripted reality series, but with a very different kind of family.

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The Robertson clan is a very functional, loving family, filled with people who have amazingly aligned interests. One of those interests is murdering squirrels and ducks. Now, I’m basically a vegetarian most of the time, but I am in support of subsistence hunting, especially when it also contributes to land management. The Robertson’s have about 20,000 acres to call their own. Most of it will never be developed because they’re into wilderness and preservation.

Another thing these folks have in common is Jesus. They are all basically Bible thumpers and a lot of the criticism you’ll hear about them is related to Phil Robertson’s stern style of Christianity. He got into a bunch of trouble after a GQ interview came out where he discussed his bafflement at why any man wouldn’t prefer a vagina to another man’s butthole. I imagine my initial interest in these people could be tempered by a deeper dive into their beliefs, but for now, I will simply enjoy the show.

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In interviews the Robertson’s remark they believe the reason for the show’s popularity has something to do with a resurgent craving for more wholesome entertainment and more positive role models. I don’t know that’s wrong, but I don’t think it’s the full picture.

I think there’s a growing restlessness related to fear of apocalyptic situations and anxiety over the perception that we are in a  declining civilization. The Robertsons seem well insulated from the nightmares of our post-modern situation. They have a tight family and friend group that is completely capable of living off the land. They are heavily armed. They have a shared fate.

When I watch Duck Dynasty, I don’t see a bunch of rich rednecks doing dumb shit for the camera. I mean, it’s there and all. What I see is a tribe built to survive the end times. The rest of the world can burn and these people will be doing just fine as long as there’s birds to kill. termin

 

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Another UFC has come and gone. Although I would’ve preferred a Nate Diaz win, I think Conor McGregor certainly brought a great strategy and much improved performance. He did everything right and he would’ve put away any fighter with less mutant toughness.

I knew the decision would go to McGregor if it went all five rounds. Diaz ended up on top in the 5th, but I think McGregor definitely won the first two round and probably the fourth. He dropped Diaz a few times and shut down all takedown attempts, except the last one. The damage Mcgregor did to Diaz’s leg with powerful, unchecked kicks completely changed the dynamic of this fight. I wonder if Diaz will improve for the third fight as much as McGregor did for the second? I hope so, because the last fight will be incredible.

Honestly, as much as I’m on Team Diaz, this is the best outcome for fans. McGregor got the W, but I think Diaz gets the true W because he made it to the press conference, was hilarious, and vaped on a CBD pen live on the air while McGregor was in the hospital.

What does this fight have to do with advice? Look at McGregor. His loss to Diaz was a huge wakeup call. He did all the right shit to win. He brought in boxing and BJJ coaches. Rather than train for “any opponent” as he has claimed to do in the past, he worked on a strategy specific to Diaz. He invested money in his training, committed to deep work, and came out on top.

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On to the questions.

If you could master martial arts techniques or concepts, which would be your first three to master?

Broadly speaking, there are four martial arts people who follow professional fighting consider most effective: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Boxing, and Muay Thai (kickboxing). All of them give you options at different stages of a fight. If you’re the kind of person who needs to know how to handle yourself because of work or where you live, look for a decent Jiu-Jitsu academy with a few striking classes.

If I could only learn one of these, it would be Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I’ve trained in this martial art at different times over the years. I am really, really not very good at it, but the take downs and submissions you learn work great, especially if the fight goes to the ground.

I would choose Muay Thai over regular boxing for my second discipline because it involves hands and feet, plus it utilizes the clinch, which is extremely useful. Boxing and wrestling are both great. If you’re going down the rabbit hole and spending a lot of time developing these skills, you’ll probably eventually pick up some wrestling and boxing through BJJ and Muay Thai. I learned wrestling arm drags and sprawling at a BJJ gym and a jab and cross is universal.

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The person who asked this question meant it for specific techniques, though. If there were only three “moves” to learn, I’d want to know these: rear naked choke, jab, and double leg takedown. It’s kind of weird to think of it like that because the moves I’d pick are part of systems.

The rear naked choke is perfect for grabbing someone from behind and putting them to sleep. The victim doesn’t actually get hurt and you can control them very well from the position. Getting to the rear naked choke requires skill, unless you just sneak up on someone and grab them. A double leg takedown lets you bring the person to the ground, which is cool if you know something about ground fighting. If you don’t, you’ve just chosen to “wrassle.”

A jab is a great thing to have in your fighting toolbox. It’s simple to learn, you can do damage with it, but it’s really useful for keeping someone off of you. If you only worked on your jab and slipping punches, you’d probably do well against a normal untrained person of similar size.

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Is it alright to be controlling?

To children, yes. To adults, no.

What is one sentence you remind yourself of in order to stay positive?

There’s not really a mantra or anything I use. If I’m in a bummer mood I sometimes think about a story I read in Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums. In less developed parts of the world, disposing of human shit is a real problem. In some war ravaged cities in the Middle East, people live in buildings, but the plumbing doesn’t work anymore.

Many people in these places will shit in plastic bags, tie them off, and then throw them in the garbage. This is an ok solution until you have no garbage service. So what people do is take the bags and fling them up on rooftops. Sometimes the weight of the bags causes roofs to collapse. More than a few people have been relaxing in their home and then gotten crushed to death by a roof full of human shit.

If I’m having a trying day, I can always console myself with the fact that the odds are pretty slim I’m going to go out like that.

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What’s the best way to avoid negative energy?

Don’t read the news. Don’t talk about politics. Do what you say you’re going to do. Stay away from idiots.

How do you continue to be true to yourself when your choices make your family unhappy?

This is a question that’s hard to answer without knowing the specifics of the situation. I mean, sitting around smoking weed and watching Duck Dynasty is something I enjoy. It’s probably “true to me”, but I certainly would deserve any unkind feelings Mrs. Lott might have about the misspent time. So I resist that little diversion (most of the time).

But you might be up to some cool shit and your family might suck, too. In that case, I’d advise staying on course to meet your goals, while being zen level non-combative with those hater ass haters.

Here’s the bottom line: if your choices are working against someone in your family (like stealing money to buy drugs), then you ought to cut that shit out. If you’re trying to be more awesome, but you’re meeting resistance, just stay on target and push through it.

Why do people write advice blogs, and why do people read them?

Fuck if I know.

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