Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Pickle Riiiiick!

What? It's a screencap. Go buy a T-Shirt!

Morty: "I'm just trying to figure out why you would do this ... why anyone would do this?"

Pickle Rick: "The reason anyone would do this ...  if they could, which they can't, would be because they could, which they can't."

If S:3 E:3 works, it's because it couldn't, but it did because it could which it did. It's darker than a sewer and deeper than a mountain of rat entrails.

I once read a piece accusing Apocalypse Now of "having it both ways." The writer finger-wagged at Coppola for making an anti-war film that glorified war. While I suppose it's possible, (with nothing coming to mind at the moment) to make a war film with no war in it, or with no admirable moments of war, I was reminded of another favorite of mine, a film which tackled both the madness of war and the madness of tackling war in cinema: Richard Rush's The Stunt Man.

Eli Cross: We’re shaking a finger at them, Sam, and we shouldn’t. If we’ve anything to say it’s best to slip it in while they’re all laughing and crying and jerking off at all the sex and violence. We should do something outrageous.
Sam: Like what?
Eli Cross: Like catching an authentic stench of madness behind all that good clean fun.

That's what great popular art does. It slips it in. It has to have it both ways. That's how it works. That way those who would get it still get it, those who might not have gotten it might still get it, and those who will never get it still buy tickets and unwittingly support the message.

I don't know what film that critic was watching, but the idea of surfing while munitions were detonating all around didn't send me off to a recruiting office.

No, this isn't the only way. Yes, there can still be pure art, but the art that most people will see costs a bank load and if it's going to have an ROI and thrive then it needs the sex and violence as much as the message. It needs a mountain of rat entrails carved out by a pickle to display a twisted and hurtful family dynamic.

Pickle Rick, indeed.

Season 3, bro.

Bravo, Rick and Morty.

Oh yeah, and have you seen The Conversation?

We Can't Have Nice Things, Part (I've Lost Count)

Last night I enjoyed yet another episode of the funderful Star Trek Continues. Today I learned that I only get two more episodes due to ... shocker ... thoughtless, greedy dickholes. Yay.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I've Lost the Will to Write. Maybe It's Under the Couch?

I haven't written anything beyond a blog post in weeks. Sure, I've been busy. Even my recent vacation was packed with activity, but it's not like I haven't had any times when I could have fit in some writing.

It's not the time. It's a lack of motivation. For the first time in my writing life, I just don't want to write. I've had dry spells before, but I could always read, watch, or listen to something that inspired me, even if that something was my own stories or notes. Lately, I've been avoiding motivation and even when I have read or listened to something that would have kicked me in the rear I still have no desire to write.

Being a self-aware sort, I could tell you all of the reasons I've been down on writing lately. I won't list them here because it would just read silly. Let's just call it a lack of confidence, which feels ridiculous after the great feedback I received on one story in particular on the last round of beta reads. Irrational? Perhaps, but the feeling isn't going away, and I'm uncertain what can be done about it.

In the mean time, I'm enjoying the works of others and hoping to get past my doubts.

So, what's good? Well, on my trip I made it halfway through After the Saucers Landed by Douglas Lain. A Philip K. Dick Award nominee, it's like David Lynch directed the alien invasion show V from a script by Ratner's Star-era Don Delillo and Stardust Memories-era Woody Allen which was then novelized by Douglas Lain. Got it? It's weird, funny and filled to bursting with wry social commentary. I highly recommend it, as well as the Lain's great 2006 short story collection Last Week's Apocalypse.

My audiobook of choice recently has been Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's excellent Roadside Picnic, the source work for Andrei Tarkovsky's cinematic masterpiece Stalker. It's a great tale and I can't think of anyone who could do a better job of narrating Red Schuhart's tale of The Zone than the great Robert Forster.

Well, I suppose that's it for now. I wrote this to try and shake off my funk. I hope it works. It's like I've lost my oldest friend. If it does work, you'll be among the next to know.

Also, if you want to help a struggling author-type and you're planning to buy any of the works listed above, please purchase them through the links and click-through images I've provided above and put a few pennies into my Amazon Associate account at no additional cost to you. Thanks!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gone Fishin'

We’d walked 20 minutes in to find a spot away from the madness of Utah's Pioneer Day crowds who were crossing lines and fighting over the same stretches and bends of the river. All along the path and through heavy weeds grown thick after a season of rain, there was no one around but our party. Hip-deep in the waters of the Heber, we fished our private bend in peace all morning, surrounded by mountains and trees.

It was one of those outings when the few trout that were biting were spitting our hooks faster than we could set them.  We’d had other trips where we’d all pulled fish out in almost ludicrous numbers and others where we’d each caught three or four. This wasn’t one of those trips. A few hours in and none of us had landed a single fish.

My daughter was the first to keep one on the line. I was, as I always am, a proud dad as I watched her play out the fish. It was, by the curve of the rod and her effort, a good size. Gradually, she took the fight out of it. When she finally brought that German Brown to the net it was a good 17 inches and fat on worms delivered by the recent high water.

My nephew was next to bring one in. It wasn’t big or much of a fighter, but he was glad to have finally caught a fish that day.

Staring down the hour when we’d need to make that 20-minute walk back to the truck in order to hit the spa before our lunch date, I was still without a catch. It had been years since I’d gone home without having caught a single fish. We’d tried a lot of flies that morning, and I was using the one the others had caught their fish on, but nothing was happening for me.

The kids were breaking down their gear and draining their boots for the long walk back, and I was dropping a few last lines in to run out the clock. I’d been all along our private river that morning and had ended up right where I’d begun, at the bend on the inside of a bubble line. I was thinking to myself, “well, the kids had fun, and that’s the main thing” when my indicator took a plunge and then shot back up. I pulled my rod skyward, but there wasn’t any tension on the line.

The fly had been taken and spit out quickly. The fish had figured out that what it had bitten wasn’t a bug. I knew where the fish was, but could I catch it before we had to head back?

I whipped my line back and forth and then drifted it over the same spot. My indicator shot down and right back up again before I could pull up on my rod and set the hook. I prepared another drift.

At the exact same spot inside the bubble line, my indicator went down for the third time. I pulled my rod up toward the sky. This time I felt the fish on the other end of the line, heading toward the opposite bank. I stripped line to give it a run and then pulled it back in. I had a fighter on, and if I wasn’t careful the line was going to break, and that fish and my rig would be gone. I held it until my rod bent too far and then stripped out more line, letting it run and then brought it back in, swinging my rod toward the net, thinking I’d tired the fish out.

It took to the air. The Brown Trout glistened in the sun as it shot whole, twisting and turning, from the river.

“It’s going to spit,” I feared.

Down again and downstream, I could still feel its tension on the line. A little more line out. A little more line in. Swing the rod toward the net. More line in. Keep the indicator out of the water. More line in.


The female German Brown was a good size, but my daughter took the prize for the biggest catch of the day. Wading out of the river, I joined her and my nephew and prepared to walk back, our boots heavy with the waters of the Heber, to the waiting truck.

The kids had fun, as had I, and I didn’t have to talk about the one that got away.

Some folks say that fishing, even in its most elegant form, fly fishing, is cruel. Others disagree. While fishing isn't my only outdoor activity with my child, birdwatching, hiking, searching tide pools, and camping are among the others, it is the only one that directly involves another life. As fun as these outings can be, hours of standing in sunshine and rushing water surrounded by nature's sweet face, each time I find myself thinking of the life on the other end of the line. I wonder if "unfeeling pea-brain" is just a line that keeps me hooked on an activity that's inhumane.

Inhumane: a variant of inhuman and the opposite of humane. Let's consider that for a moment.

Down the fishin' hole I go.

By definition, humane, a variant of human, is "having or showing compassion or benevolence," "inflicting the minimum of pain," "intended to have a civilizing or refining effect on people." While it may be the most refined and civilized method of fishing, is fly fishing, or any fishing, humane? Is tricking another life into biting a hook, working it to the point of exhaustion and then finally killing or releasing it humane whether or not that life feels pain or will remember the incident within the hour? I have to wonder, and if it's a question is it humane to continue?

I'm not hunting elephants into extinction and smiling as I hold their severed tails in the air, but if fly fishing is cruel then am I not as bad as someone who would do such a thing? If I care enough to stop fly fishing altogether and just stick to hikes and watching birds with my little one, should I not also cease eating meat altogether? After all, there is nothing humane in meat production. Meat production is business and business is the bottom line, and there is nothing humane in the bottom line. What does it say that I've considered these things for decades and yet I persist?

It makes me human, not humane.

Humane is a variant of human, and we speak of being humane and yet the present and history of humanity is filled with slaughter and torture and cruelty. Funny that the word conveying our best desires is derived from the word that describes we who perpetrate or allow so much suffering. We are, in our intent toward cruelty, the worst of animals.

A story I'm finishing up for beta review centers on technology's increasing enablement of our cruelty to animals and how our disregard for other life perpetuates the sort of thinking that allows us to be comfortable being cruel to each other. We're better than we used to be, we tell ourselves, but I have to wonder if we're just letting ourselves off the hook.

Which brings me back to fishing. Most people who fish don't do it for food. They fish for sport. It's (hu)"man versus nature" they'll tell you. So is pulling the wings from a fly, but if I caught my child doing such a thing we'd have a long talk. I never would, of course, catch her committing such an act. There's not a cruel atom in her sweet body. Fishing, to her, is just something I've approved and that we've enjoyed since she was old enough to stand in a river.

Maybe it's time I had that talk with her. Maybe it's time that we all ask ourselves why we fear our part in nature so much that we must stand opposed to it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Was The Case

Why did this 'bot take the plunge? Monday, most likely.

In other news:

I'm saddened by the loss of George Romero, although he hadn't produced anything watchable in decades. Still, he is firmly in my top ten filmmakers and his "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead," and "Creepshow" among my treasured films. Here's a link to Edgar "Shaun of the Dead" Wright's tribute.

We also lost Martin Landau. From my childhood favorite "Mission Impossible" through, well, all of the films you know, Martin Landau was a part of my life and a great talent who will be missed.

In happier news, I finally have my two greatest wishes for "Dr. Who". 1) A female Doctor and 2) a new showrunner. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed Capaldi's Doctor, and Missy, I'd quit suffering Moffat's run a while back, and I'm hoping that the new showrunner can get me pulled back in. Or not. There's too much great television right now, although I'll always have a spot for a good trip with The Doctor.

Oh, and my mental hiatus has included binge watching Orphan Black. Love. It. So. Much.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Spirit Animal Says "Hey"

I've been busy and tired. I haven't even wanted to write in weeks, although I still get the odd idea to jot down. Like most, I have my moods. This one will pass, and I'll be back at it in the wee spare hours.

It hasn't been the heat. It's been the humidity. Ugh. Having the laptop on me is too much. I need a remote neural interface.