I’ve been off the program for two weeks. Not exercising. Eating like shit. Staying up too late. Letting too much stress in. Smoking too much dope. Not stretching. Ignoring invitations to do physical activities.
It hasn’t all been a lazy loss though. I’ve been crushing through research for episode 2 of Scary Thoughts. I’ve been writing more than ever. My day job is heating up like it always does in the last half of the year.
I wish I knew why I always have so much trouble balancing health and fitness with intellectual and creative pursuits. When I’m working out a lot, I usually feel totally blown out and all I want to do is sleep. From what I’ve read, most writers don’t do much beyond walking. Sure, there are exceptions, but from what I’ve experienced, really heavy workout loads don’t seem to be very conducive to creativity. I could be wrong; I could just be blown out from all the nonsense I’ve been up to.
Interestingly enough, as soon as I started adding a lot of fat back into my diet, I started feeling overly tired again. When I was rocking high carb, low fat, mostly fruit meals, my energy levels were noticeably higher. I recovered faster and I slept better. I was also a lot leaner.
I wish it wasn’t the case, but my body is giving me pretty clear signals that the boring ass, austere vegan diet I was on was really working. I’m going to dial it back in, drop the fat and see if I notice a big difference.
I just finished reading Sebastian Junger’s Tribe. It’s about soldiers returning home, PTSD, and life in various war zones. He brings up something I’ve heard repeated in other books about catastrophes: that people tend to reliably help others when bad shit happens, even when that person isn’t a part of their immediate in-group.
We saw this play out all last week in Baton Rouge, a place the media tells us is about to explode into police inflamed racial violence. The flooding there is bad as it gets without needing to build a zoo sized boat. But people were not squared off with AR-15s and machetes fighting over bottled water and gasoline. They came to each others’ aid and, for the most part, did the right thing.
The Cajun Navy, an autonomous volunteer rescue crew of citizens with small boats, mobilized quickly and rescued any and all who needed rescuing. People from all races came together and helped each other. My old friend Mike Couste and a bunch of his fellow cooks from New Orleans have been spending their time and money to cook good hot meals for people who lost everything.
It happens over and over again that disaster brings out the best in people. Which got me thinking. Wouldn’t a more realistic zombie apocalypse show people getting super serious about helping each other and thrashing the undead? If typhoons and hurricanes and other assorted mishaps have demonstrated anything, it’s that humans know how to cowboy the fuck up when necessary.
When they start rebuilding society and electing leaders? Well, that’s a different story.
There’s not much to say by way of intro this week. I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, like always. Like always, they will probably amount to nothing. But it’s a good thing to keep trying. If you don’t, you’ll get nowhere.
On to the questions.
We’re hosting a dinner party for our in-laws and only have spoons. What do we do?!
Reevaluate your life decisions. If you still only have spoons, you better make some chili or ice cream sundaes you damn weirdo.
So, like, what’s the deal with healing crystals?
Oh fuck. Where do I even begin? I guess I’ll start with the most important thing to know. They don’t do shit on their own.
That said, I’ve always had something of a soft spot for crazy hippy girls, so I’m not against this nonsense. I just don’t think it works, except maybe aesthetically and psychologically. If they help you relax during a guided meditation or whatever, I guess go for it. But they aren’t going to cure anything.
Should I embrace my boyfriend’s new mustache? I kind of love it.
Here is the mustache in question. It was grown by Handsome-ass Pat Collins.
I think Pat looks like goth Ned Flanders. I support this look and think you should to.
If you could call yourself five years ago and had 30 seconds, what would you say?
I’d give myself as many Powerball numbers and Superbowl results I could rattle off in 30 seconds. And then hope no butterfly effect nonsense destroyed the world.
Is there a movie with a message that you completely misunderstood?
Not that I can think of. But I did realize I completely misremembered the end of Walt Disney’s The Fox and the Hound. For some reason I recalled the hound being killed accidentally by the hunter, with the fox going to live a lonely life in the woods.
What is the biggest scam you’ve ever seen?
A few years ago I had one of those shitty manual labor jobs you can get without a high school diploma. It was for a concert venue. Union trucks would dump concert equipment off on a loading dock. Scrubs like myself would push it inside where union riggers would install it.
None of the people that did my job were unionized. I asked some of the union guys how I could get in a union and they completely ignored me, offering zero help. Workers united, right?
Anyway, even the nobodies like me got a day’s pay and the option to sit in the cheap seats and watch whatever show we were putting on. Except once. Televangelist Benny Hinn had a “no crew allowed” rule on his appearance at the UNO Lakefront Arena. With the amount of trailer park blasphemy my co-workers committed setting the stage up, I guess I have to see his point.
His stage was super weird. It had four A/C units on it to keep the stage extra cold. I’ve never heard of anyone doing this before. He had a truck full of collection buckets. I remember loading it to the front of the stage and knowing what they were immediately. I couldn’t believe how many of them there were. There were more blinding lights aimed at the audience than the stage I can only imagine this all had some sort of mind control effect on the crowd.
Anyway, these dudes are the worst. They fly into a town, preach, collect money, and leave. Now let’s be clear here, I’m not anti-church or preaching or any of that. But I think all churches should be deeply rooted in a their city and held accountable for performing work that has a direct benefit to the community it exists in. I find the concept of multi-national tax free churches to be completely abhorrent.
If you take a dollar in Oakland. It should stay in Oakland. Same for any church or any city. There’s nothing worse than a slick pastor with a diamond ring.
What is the craziest thing you have ever said to your boss, with or without getting fired?
Typically I like to stay off my boss’ radar. I can be counted on for complete honesty, but in my experience, it’s not that great to be super familiar with people over you (there are some exceptions). Do your work and go home.
There’s a real answer to this question though. One night I took some acid at about 2am, thinking it would peak early and I’d be able to hold down a 6am shift at the coffee shop I worked. This was not a great plan. LSD is unpredictable and I experienced no effects until almost the moment I punched the clock. I actually thought I had gotten beat on the acid and bought fake shit. Oh how I wish that was the case.
I spent the next 30 minutes doing 5 minutes worth of putting chairs outside the cafe. It was a total mess. Tables all over. Chairs every which way. I came clean with my shift manager and she put me on a simple task, grinding coffee. It got pretty much everywhere because I just started grinding beans without the filter underneath to catch them.
I excused myself from duty and walked home. When I got in the door, the phone was ringing. I picked it up and my boss, the legendary Jerry Ropollo, was on the other line.
“Buddy, where are you. It’s Saturday. I need you.”
“I’ve been poisoned Jerry.”
“What? Poisoned by who?”
“I poisoned me. It was a mistake. I was hoping I’d be dead, but I made it, and now I’m super high.”
“We’ve all been there buddy. Just come back in and I won’t fire you.”
By the time I got back to the cafe, there was a deep line. I was still high as shit, but able to hold down washing dishes and clearing tables. For some reason all currency looked the same to me, so I couldn’t operate the register. By the time my shift ended I had a third wind and spent the rest of the day drinking Miller High Life on the porch.
Summer in New Orleans was magick back then.
How should I handle it if my ex gets involved with a new woman?
Hey, I have a mean streak and I understand hatred and vengeance, but you shouldn’t even be thinking about your ex unless you have kids with them. They got a new woman? So the fuck what? Even a dog’s asshole gets a little sunshine from time to time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scary Thoughtsis 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.