08
Mar 16

When the Cock Crows in the Post Office

When I was young I blurted pretty much any joke that occurred to me. I edit myself now. Yesterday I was in a post office and heard a cock crow thrice–no, I’m not joking. I was in line in the post office and a rooster crowed, loudly and clearly, over and over, and everyone was looking around trying to see where it came from. I thought it must be an odd, annoying ring tone. But no, it was explained–as the rooster went on and on–that one can ship birds, and someone was shipping a rooster, probably to someone planning to use it for breeding chickens, and it was in a special box. I thought about making jokes about cleaning up after the cock crows, and I did not. I thought about joking that the post office workers, oppressed by the Republicans, had to have a chicken farm in the back of the office to make ends meet. That would have annoyed people too–didn’t say it. Just pondered, First time I ever heard a rooster crowing in a post office, and is it a Biblical sign? Will someone again betray Jesus…here?

Other day I was in the Walgreen’s drugstore, surprised that someone was putting out bags of candy Easter eggs already. I looked at this hen-shaped little guy and wanted to say, “Maybe you should be clucking as you put those out.” I did not say it. Don’t want to hurt his feelings.

We have wild turkeys round here, making a gargling laughter sort of gobbling sound in our area, and two flew over the house–yes they can fly, not very high or far– a large male after a small female. The gobbling soon started again. I Dr Doolittled it, and told my wife the guy was saying, check out my plumage, let’s get down, girl, and the girl turkey was saying, I’m not getting pregnant this year, I’m going to relax and eat insects, and he said, come on baby, and she said, No, I’m not going to fall into that trap again–

My wife was not amused. I shouldn’t have tried that joke on her.


05
Mar 16

Review of DEADPOOL

Saw DEADPOOL tonight. The opening credits alone are worth the price of a ticket–they were hilarious. Produced by “some douchebag’…directed by an “overpaid tool” and so on…that made me laugh more than I have in a comedy in years. The movie made me laugh a lot–on purpose. It is so pop-cultural referential that you’ll laugh or smirk or elbow your friend twice as much as me if you get all the references, perhaps three times as much. But we got enough, and enjoyed the snarling snark-masterful humor and Ryan Reynolds’ delivery so much, we laughed and were entertained all through. Potty mouthed? You bet. R rated? Probably good reason.

Violent–oh my God. It’s written by people who seem not to take violence seriously…but I doubt that’s the case. We’re all so painfully aware that we’re (at best) living in an archipelago of little islands of relative peace in a world seething with violence and hatred. It’s not that we don’t take violence seriously–it’s that we have to laugh at it as a defense because we can see it, just over there…on the news. Or if you were in Boston or South Manhattan or San Benardino or Sandy Hook or Aurora Colorado or–pick your favorite American mass murder–you might’ve seen it up close and personal..

A strange amalgam of adult sophistication and adolescent humor, exquisite acting and slapstick, Deadpool is a movie that some people will see and dissect over and over. I myself–and I rarely do this–would like to see the script of it. Because I’m still processing one joke or irony when another is leaping at me.

Man is this ever *not* for everyone. And a lot of reviewers don’t get it. But it’s popular and to me it’s great satire–mocking everything superhero–and roaringly entertaining.

I can’t compare it to the comic it was adapted to, because I didn’t read that, but I think I *get* the character. Cool music too.

And by the way–all the talk about Deadpool supposedly being bisexual or pansexual gay-yearning or something? I don’t think so, not at all. Not in the movie version. He’s *joking* about it all the time. Well so does everyone. But this guy is not only very heterosexual, sorry, this is a very hetero movie. That’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing. But whoever started the pseudo-analytic “he’s bisexual” meme is full of crap. They should have a good bisexual Marvel superhero character. Maybe they do. But this ain’t it.

You know, if Quentin Tarantino made a superhero movie, it might be something like this. Though I think it’s more carefully made than his films (I do like his films). It’s influenced by them and maybe, as my wife observed, by the character Ash from the Evil Dead series…only Deadpool is more manic, smarter, and closer to the edge of crazy…

This is the first feature film by director Tim Miller–and he scored.


29
Feb 16

The Subconscious Mind is the Real Power of Politics

A worrying trend arising among young folk getting drawn to the Trump campaign–is not so unexpected. Essentially what’s going on is a psychological parallel to so-called *prosperity Christianity*: The superstitious idea that a magical mediator will somehow transmit money to you, and will protect you from harm. And…there are deeper drives taking over, here…

Some candidates will appeal to reason; but some, *especially Trump*, have the instinctive ability to appeal to the unconscious mind. For awhile, Romney had a similar appeal, for some. Trump chants, over and over: “Me–billions!” Both Trump and Romney symbolize gold, money, wealth, which is, in the minds of the entranced, the magic key to being liked, to being gainfully employed or simply free from financial worry. And it equates with power, which provides safety. I do not use the word *magic* lightly. *Magical thinking* (it’s an expression–no real thinking is involved) leads worried young people, anxious about their future in a highly competitive world, to fixate on a Trump or a Romney. Trump has more appeal to youth than Romney–he’s not a cold snob, like Romney; Trump is ejaculating energy, and adolescent brashness.

Romney doesn’t know the full magical chant. Magic only works in the psychological sense–but the subconscious mind is where real political power is.  Decrypted, Trump’s magic words are always the same:

“Danger is here but I am strength, winning strength! Enemies, outsiders, defeat them! We allies, insiders! Me–billions! I am Money! I am Gold! I am Power! Taking more power! More money! Gold! Sex! Gold! Sex! Rise, rise! Us! Them! Us! Them! Money protects! Gold! Freedom! Power! Money! Danger–stop danger! Strength, the strength to take! Gold! Trust! Trust Gold! Trust power! I have power! Gold! Me, billions! Behold…GOLD!” This is not satire–*I mean this literally*. This really truly is what he’s doing–without consciously thinking it through. He learned the chant long ago…

Us, them–yes that’s an appeal to unconscious racism. Threatened people, worried about their future, look for scapegoats; xenophobic instinct arises. They are afraid of the future–of poverty, of competition for money. “Us! Them! Me, Gold, Me, Behold, billions–behold, Gold!” These magic words protect against threats…the threats of not finding a job, even the threat of terrorism–which are real threats, real problems. But he doesn’t need real solutions. All he needs is to repeat the chant, over and over, convincingly. And the subconscious responds. The words shift a little but the import, the meaning, is always the same; the same litany couched in other terms:

“I am Money! I am Gold! I am Power! Taking more power! More money! Gold! Sex! Gold! Sex! Rise, rise! Us!  I have power, I have Gold! Gold protects! Me, billions! Behold…GOLD!”

Many people, those who have no real self knowledge, never question, when certain parts of their back-brains are stimulated. They simply follow the loudly bleating golden calf.

Follow the bleater.


24
Feb 16

A Giant Steel Claw; My Muslim Friends; A Sapsucker and a Salamander

Was startled last week when a giant mechanical claw reached out with an angry snatching motion, close by me, to clamp over a container of greenery and dumped its contents into its maw and crunched it up there. All true.

Of course, it was the robotic grabber of a big sanitation truck that picks up green waste; others come by for garbage and recyclables. Each one has a giant mechanical pincer– I’ve set cans out for them for years but never before had I seen the steel claw harvesting up close, ten feet away, nor seen how fiercely it grabbed the can. Maybe the operator did it that way to startle me for his own amusement. “Shoulda seen that one jump, Mort.”

I went to work in the sun on my steep hill of a back yard–a little shaken by the computerized mechanical fury of that grabbing arm. Painting a deck railing calmed me some and I heard the sound of our Afghani Muslim neighbors, going about their lives. The patriarch, a good-natured fellow, was working with his toddler grandchild nearby, singing to the pudgy little guy in Pashto, interposing English phrases now and then as the boy brought him things. “Oh, you bring me a pie, you are cook now! Yum, you are good cook!” The child’s Grandma was close by, on the phone to someone, speaking cheerily in Pashto. The language has a pleasant bubbling sound; I couldn’t understand her in any defined way, but I could tell by her rhythm and tone she was reassuring someone, telling a funny anecdote. After awhile it was time for Granddad’s prayers, and he never misses them, I hear him like clockwork, mid day, mid afternoon, sunset, later at night…a soothing sound, mysterious droning words resonating with respect, an even-tempered reverence…I feel good, hearing them; their talk, their prayers. The sounds of a kindly family, an inner life projected onto the outer world…

As I worked, I paused to watch a red-headed sapsucker tapping at a tree, working his way upward; some taps tentative probes, others more regular as he hit pay dirt, consuming sap and bugs along with them.

Yesterday I went to Orchard Supply where I chanced on an arboreal salamander hiding between two sacks of bark mulch. He was rusty-brown with white spots and bulgy black eyes. I was afraid for him there, so fished him out and cupped him in my hands and carried him through the store and out the front; I was uncomfortably aware that people were watching me walking out with something hidden cupped in my hands…I took him behind the store and released him through a bottom chain-link in the hurricane fence. Slippery little dude darted into the large weed filled vacant lot. Some salamanders can be toxic to the touch and he was a trifle slimy so I hurried to wash my hands but I felt absurdly good about this insignificant rescue…


05
Feb 16

Honest Reality Show Titles

Swamp Scum: Backwoods Crypto-Racist A-Holes Dying to Get Enough Reality Show Money to Get out of this Fucking Swamp

Logging Rednecks: Pretending to Have Fights They’re Not Really Having According to Scripts They Pretend They Don’t Have

Beverly Hills Dimwitted Greedy Narcissistic Wives: Pretending to Have Fights They’re Not Really Having According to Scripts They Pretend They Don’t Have

Bigfoot: The No Real Evidence

Ghost Scroungers: Several Cynical People Pretending Stuff is There That Isn’t

Duck Slaughter: Inbred Dynasty of Bigotry and Proud Ignorance

Humiliated Women: Gleeful Misogynist Producers Force Young Women to Abase Themselves for Wealthy Bachelors


04
Feb 16

Maiming a Player? That’s “just football”.

Watched a few minutes of NBC sports commentators talking about the coming Superbowl…what caught my attention as I was about to click past them was first one of them calmly acknowledging that it’s a common practice for players to target certain opposing players in a way that will seriously injure them, shatter their knees; that if you take them out of the game you instantly get paid extra for it, off the books, and everyone winks at you. That the drive to do this is stronger at the Superbowl. (Made me think of that very good science-fiction movie, Rollerball)…The other commentator said, Yes, every player knows that, and he added–”that’s just football.”

So maiming someone–quite possibly crippling them for life–is *just football*. And “that’s just football” excuses crippling a man. And of course it excuses causing concussive brain damage to a larger number of players…These were mainstream NBC commentators.

This procedure, this brutal, quite possibly crippling tacit tactic, has been discussed before. The New Orleans players engaged in it, in a precious Superbowl; there was a fleeting scandal. But now it’s casually talked about as a legitimate tactic. Because…”it’s just football”. Meanwhile this society is spending many, many millions on the Superbowl–to enrich a relative few–and indeed our government is spending millions protecting it. We should be so proud.


12
Jan 16

THE TERROR OF WINDOWS TEN

I was feeling dangerous. I was ready for some brinksmanship. Risk? Why not. I’ve always been a risk taker. But what should it be? Jumping a motorcycle between two high buildings? Juggling scorpions? Taking a weird new designer drug? No–I went a little crazier…I decided *to install Windows 10.*

People had warned about it, shook their heads grimly over the new OS. But I laugh at fear. And also I was bored with my computer set up. I surrendered to Microsoft’s plaintive entreaties that I download it…especially as it was offered free, if I downloaded now, for the life of the machine (they’re working their way into a fee system their new software, it’s a new model for such things).

I…did it. At the outset, they give you a set of apps to say yes to, and they advise you that it’s what’s best about Windows 10 etc. But most of the apps are based on your sharing heaps of preferences, browsing history, likes and dislikes etc, with them. Purchases, whatever. “You share with us and we’ll share the world.” Only to me–that’s intrusive and is likely to actually deny much of the world to me. They’ll notify, offer, show…and it’ll be based on my interests and biases and histories…and it’ll be a media echo chamber. Instead of offering the world they’ll filter it, really, in the long run. The the real risk here is that echo chamber…I want to explore the world without their prompting. And I don’t want to give them info on me needlessly, and I don’t want them looking over my shoulder, always breathing down my neck. So I bravely said NO to all that.. If you haven’t turned their intrusive stuff off, including their keystroke logger, go to Settings, then find Security and Advanced Security and turn all that stuff off. I also found a place to turn off their targeted Microsoft ads..Their “Siri” variant, Cortana (name from an imaginary female-seeming AI in Microsoft’s Halo game), also requires you to give her all your info before she can help you. You want her–you got to pay up, bruh. In data. . .So I said no to her pimp, too.

Alarmingly, after the OS was installed they warned me that a couple of my programs wouldn’t be working properly with their system–and one of them was a vital one for me: Final Draft, which is required by many production companies as a script formatter. I just used it for an animation script for Nick, and I used it for a spec horror script based on my story The Rubber Smile. I need it. But it turned out my Final Draft 8 still works FINE! It’s just that because of my preferences it’s not hooked up with “Windows Insider”; the app doesn’t get data from Final Draft so “Final Draft is not working properly”. This seems dishonest to me…All that matters is Final Draft IS actually working–and so is Windows 10. I’m all for its improved virus protection; my computer actually seems to be running a bit more rapidly now. Even facebook runs a bit better for me. So–I won. I jumped the motorcycle between softwares. I sneer…at fear.


07
Jan 16

The Character Under the Characterless Character

It’s intriguing–how the inner life of a person can be so rich, while their outer life might seem wizened and shabby…I was quite struck by something last night.

First I should tell you, I don’t often go to open mike poetry readings. They tend to make me wince (though there are good poets among those who are essentially vanity poets) and the hard chairs hurt my rump. I took my wife to a reading in San Francisco’s Haight last night because our friend Harry Scifres Robins was reading, and I had some of my new Weird Poetry along (written for ST Joshi’s SPECTRAL REALMS); Hal Robins always gives a fine performance. He recited classics including a favorite of mine by Thomas Hardy.

Most others read their own material, including a chunky older gentleman wearing a tall knit winter hat shaped like the cap of an ink pen. He mumbled–as so many do at these things; his intonation was especially feeble, and despite a microphone he was nearly inaudible. He had little outer affect of any kind. I pictured him talking to people out in the world, imagined their eyes glazing over as his general external blurriness smudged him out of their attention. Struggling to hear him, I made out a line here, a couplet there–several about love, and others evoking various sides of the human condition…and the words were strongly wrought, incisive, fairly original; his lines were the product of sharp observation, of compassion, and a genuinely poetic sensibility. But everything about his outer person and his manner was a blur, without distinction. His self expression seemed numbed. There was an incapacity for projecting to other people…

Thinking about it, I’m sorry I didn’t tell him that I liked his poetry; and I’m interested in the fact that *externally* he was a kind of caricature of the characterless; that he was the personification of blandness and poor speaking skills…I heard him say a few words offstage to others; it was the same–and their eyes glazed. . .and yet his poetry (when audible) reveals that his *inner life* is rich, energetic, vigorous…

And it reminds me that everyone we see has an outer life, and an inner life. And the inner life is another world entirely.


23
Dec 15

Everybody Must Get Schlonged

Be careful not to screw with Donald Trump or you might get SCHLONGED. He said that Hillary Clinton was “schlonged” in 2008, in the primaries, by Barack Obama. She lost the primary to Obama. She’s not a winner, see. She gets SCHLONGED. Unless you like getting SCHLONGED, and some do, you should be careful, in general, not to get SCHLONGED. You want to get SCHLONGED? I don’t think so. Hillary, he said, was “disgusting” because she had to go to the lady’s room, so they had to wait at the outset of the recent debate. Disgusting. So what’s going to happen? She could get SCHLONGED. I mean, please. You want a President who SCHLONGS–or one who gets SCHLONGED?

You could get SCHLONGED on this whole election thing, here. So be careful. Don’t get SCHLONGED. Although, as I said, some people may like getting…


13
Dec 15

My Sickness Diagnosed

These new fangled scientifistic physical men would have me believe that something called “micro-organisms” is the cause of my present illness, the underlying source of this catarrh, this inflammation of the sinuses and chest…What villainous flim-flammery! Are we now to believe in organisms one can’t even see? It stands to reason that no creature could live in such a state of minuteness, there being no room for internal organs. Where pray tell, would nature place the creature’s liver, or its spleen?

Good common medical sense, which I have aplenty–as indicated by the prominent phrenological bump of Cautiousness on the right side of my skull– attributes my catarrhic grippe to the falling damps, and an imbalance of humours. Indeed, an unsteadiness of the Four Temperaments can lead to a surfeit of yellow bile. A good bleeding, an application of chest blistering, thus producing laudable pus, together with the ingestion of ten drops of laudanum, would see me right I’m sure. I’ll soon be dancing a reel in the commons.