Build Your Own Mythology

I flew across country last weekend and filled part of the time in the air watching (or attempting to watch) two blockbuster movies: Wonder Woman and The Accountant. I’d been holding out on these for the simple reason that I rarely see any movies and if I do I see them on a small screen. Both of these movies are about mythology but it was shocking to me how little effort was made by the Wonder Woman people, especially when compared to The Accountant people, who went way overboard in their efforts. It was like Ben Affleck watched John Wick and said, I want that! Make me that! Whereas in Wonder Women it was like, hey, what if we kill off Zeus and no one gives as shit, we just mention it in passing. Lazy-ass writing drives me up a wall. Meanwhile The Accountant is so full of … mythology it’s kind of sick. He’s Severely Autistic! He’s Military! His Dad’s a Bully! Martial Arts Training, with Asian Masters! He’s in Prison! He can Shoot Like Nobody’s Business! Hits Melons from a Mile Away! He’s Awesome at Math because did you forget he’s Severely Autistic! And he’s Awkward with Women! He Works for The Mob! He’s an International Sensation! He’s Got Principles (all of a sudden)!

All in all, two hilarious movies for all the wrong reasons.

Some of my favorite shows lately are converging on the theme of Alternate Realities, a.k.a. Parallel Universes. We’ve seen this in Twin Peaks The Return (where the ending is clearly an intro to yet another universe), in Man in the High Castle, where season three promises a Nazi invasion of a parallel universe, and Mr. Robot as well, where White Rose is apparently intent on breaking through to his doppelgänger in some other universe so they can merge personalities and whatnot, and Angela thinks that in this other universe Evil Corp did not kill her mother with cancer. Good luck to all of them, I say. I wonder how much of this trend is due to the emergent split personality of America, fostered deliberately by Fox News and now broken through by the whole Trump madness, where it seems we are all occupying two completely different realities simultaneously.

I thought of this at the JFK airport last weekend when our gate – #11 in Terminal #7 – did not actually exist. There was an #11A and a #12, and the signage at #12 informed us that our flight had already departed – two hours from now.  For a moment it seemed possible to switch timelines and I hoped, for that moment, to take my family with me to the other universe where who-the-hell-knows-who’s-in-charge but at least not the particular monster currently inhabiting ours and poisoning the general thought-o-sphere with his fart-joke-foreign-policy and incipient racist genocide. But it turned out that JFK is just a shitty airport.

In the end, The Accountant is pretty much John Wick and Wonder Woman is pretty much Super Man and retreads still get you cash on the barrelhead. Scientists and science fiction writers may wish and wish real hard for a parallel universe to come cracking through the atmosphere, but my money is on No, Not Happening, Sorry.

Might as well build your own mythology – just please don’t make Athena your high maintenance girlfriend!

 

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Fragments from Books that Don’t Exist #100: Crosswalk of the Damned

CrosswalkOfTheDamned

Big Wrong stepped up to the plate and confessed he didn’t know how to fucking meditate. The friendly churchgoers at Our Lady of the Stop Sign didn’t take too kindly to his utterance.
“This here’s not for bad words,” Old Olga said, jabbing in his general direction with one of her gigantic lime green knitting needles.
“It’s nothing for confession, neither,” added Gloria B. while munching on a breath mint.
“Let the man speak his mind,” Little Wrong shouted from his pew way back in the back. “If a man’s got a need to confess then let him the fuck unload his weary mind.”
This was too much for Old Olga, who jumped up from her specially reserved bench up front and waved both needles towards the back of the room.
“I’ve had enough of the both of you,” she yelled. “Every week it’s the same gosh darn thing. Bad words, bad feelings, talking too much, saying too little, I don’t know why you even bother coming in here.”
“Mandatory sentencing,” Big Wrong said from his perch behind the pulpit.
“Yeah, we got to,” Little Wrong shouted from the back.
Old Olga shook her head and sat back down, once again considering her options. She could switch up churches once again. There was an Our Lady of the Telephone Pole right down the block. She’d heard good things. Or maybe she could check out M’Lady of the Beaker. They were serving until eleven and had a decent jukebox. One thing was for sure. She’d had enough of these jokers here. No respect. No piety. Don’t even know how to fucking meditate.

Renegade Cover Art

Thanks to a blog post by my friend and much-admired writer Michael Graeme, I went back to look at some of the books I’d posted ages ago on the (rather dodgy)website Free-Ebooks.net (tip, you can self-publish there for free as long as you side-step their efforts to get your money). There I was surprised to find they had created and posted all-new covers for several of my books. I’m not complaining. It’s a pretty obscure site that never generated much interest in my stories . I just find it fairly hilarious. Here are some of their attempts:

 

My favorite is probably Secret Sidewalk (perhaps because it is my personal favorite of all my books) though it captures nothing at all of the content. Snapdragon Alley is not so bad either.

Really Bad Fan Fiction #7: Orphan Black

“Oy,” Sarah cried, “anyone seen my DNA? I know I left it lying around here somewhere. I’m pretty sure it was on a platter. Hey, what about you, monkey? Did you take my DNA?”

“Really, mom?” Kira was sulking on the couch, trying to hide behind a few large pillows. “I HAVE your DNA, at least some of it, but I didn’t TAKE your DNA. Sheesh. I’m so sick of your darn genome.”

“Now, now,” Felix scolded from behind the easel where he was busily painting nude portraits of his sisters, “don’t be a silly ragamuffin. Everybody knows that DNA is something your cells have, and you. are. not. your. cells. Am I right?”

“I lost my cellphone, too,” Sarah shouted from the bathroom, where she was turning out the cabinets looking for anything whatsoever she might have misplaced. Meanwhile, somebody started banging on the big metal door and Felix sighed and glanced over at Kira, fully intending for her to get the hint and go over and pull out the stupid screwdriver, but Kira wasn’t having any of it.

“I don’t wanna,” she pouted.

“Oh, all right,” Felix said. He carried his brush and paints along with him as he sauntered towards the door, ass out of his chaps.

“Who is it?” he called out.

“Bunch of bad guys,” came a gruff voice from the other side. “We’re here to grab the little girl, kick the bratty bitch in the head and stuff some wadded up rags in your own pretty mouth hole.”

“In that case, please go away,” Felix replied with a smile, and with a toss of his head indicated to his sister and niece that they should fly out through the window on a wire, race down the alley where no one was standing lookout, and hop into the BMW waiting at the corner where Art, as timely as ever, was waiting in the driver’s seat.

“Looks like rain,” Art said gruffly. “They won’t be able to follow us now, unless they patched into your nose ring with one of those bluetooth DNA trackers.”

“Blimey,” Sarah slapped herself in the forehead. “That’s where I left it. My DNA was right here on my face the whole time!”

Really Bad Fan Fiction #6: Planet of the Apes

Some time in the future a chimp family – father Bobo, mother Baba, and their twin babies, Bubu and Bebe – are sitting near a stream where it empties into the ocean somewhere in the North-Central California coast. There are plenty of salmon and rainbow trout in the stream, and massive flocks of quail, seagulls and pelicans flying overhead, so many they nearly blot out the sky at times. Further down along the beach a grizzly bear is walking away after having grabbed its fill of fish for one sunny afternoon. The chimps have been shelling clams, using solid chiseled iron bars for leverage. It’s a warm day and a slight sea breeze makes for nearly perfect conditions. Baby Bubu wants to hear a story, so his mother picks him up and seats him on her lap and starts to tell of the time before the Great Crumbling, before the forest and the grasses came to overwhelm the ruins of What Had Been Left Behind.

“Even now,” Baba says, “you might sometimes come across pieces of rock so straight and so smooth and so lined up together it’s almost a miracle that such shapes can exist in nature. Not to mention the pairs of metal bars with sticky black rocks around them that go on for days and days and no one can find the end of them! Who knows how such marvels came to be, for we never see anything like them coming into being now.”

“Don’t fill their heads with foolishness,” her husband scolds. “Everybody knows the chimps of old had ways and means, but all that knowledge was lost in one of the great fires that took away all the books.”

“Books!” baby Bebe shouted, lifting her arms up high in the air, prompting her proud papa to pick her up. She wanted to sit on a lap too.

“In this world,” Baba continued, ignoring her husband, “there are endless mysteries. Our friends to the North tell of mountains spitting up rocks on fire! They tell us of boiling lakes of mud surrounded by ice and snow, of mountains so high you can never see their peaks because they keep them hidden in the clouds. Also, right out here in the sea before us there are creatures down below the waves so big that all of us together could easily fit on top of their tails. Sometimes in the summer you can see them splashing just off shore.”

“It is a beautiful world,” Bobo agreed, bouncing the little one on his knee, “and we are lucky to have it just as it is.”

 

Where are all the new last names?

There has been a remarkable slowdown in the propagation of new last names over the past several generations. While hardly anyone these days is a carter or a smith, there are millions who go by that appellation as casually as if they were. In the meantime, as new occupations have superseded the old at a tremendous rate, the last name industry has not even tried to catch up. Some may attribute this to a neoliberal globalist conspiracy to mire the working peoples of the world in old familiar categories, to keep them blinded to new realities as it were, suppressing the consciousness of real identities while reifying the old and antiquated to mythical status. Where are the Josephine Programmers or Madeleine Techwritersdotters of today? Where are the Johnny Truckers, the Harold Baggers, the Elizabeth Receptionists? This entire era has been whitewashed, with genuine labor obfuscated and erased from he chronicles of history. It will take an organized campaign of committed peoples of the language-speaking world to rectify this terrible tragedy. Who will begin? Who will take a stand? Who will change their name to correspond with their actual place in today’s corrupt and bigoted marketplace? It will take some brave souls, heroic partisans, stepping into the breach to preserve and protect the dignity of labor in this time and for all time.

amen.

Really Bad Fan Fiction #5: Doctor Who

Despite millions of years of having been everywhere, seen everything, and repeatedly fought ALL THREE kinds of bad guys that have ever existed, the Doctor is still not bored and is ready for yet another new adventure. Today’s Doctor is a cross-dressing Yorbik Tall Sloth and looks dashing in its furry green sludge vest and matching purple pantaloons. The Doctor has infiltrated a garage band intent on ruining the neighbor’s’ peaceful Sunday afternoon leaf-blowing activities. The band is making soothing sounds from axe-handles, whipsaws and pipe bombs. The vocals are provided by a glistening sea nypmh named Marla who whispers rapidly about claustrophobic shipmates and and their all-too-human biscuits. The neighbors are form-free Pescadillions who nevertheless manage to summon their inner demons in the shape of, you guessed it, DALEKS, who come streaming over the backyard fences making shrill beeping noises and blurting out threats involving fruitcakes and chocolate moose. Or mousse. Meese?

The Doctor thrills into action, dropping his banjo and picking up his brand new automatic toothbrush holder which coincidentally vibrates to the lower echelons of cosmic background radiation, instantiating a horde of rather sticky elephant mobiles, enough to temporarily confuse the DALEKS and make them spin around until they fall down and plead for mercy. The elephant mobiles by this time have turned into ice cream statues and are dripping messily all over everyone, including the Doctor’s new companion, a glyph from Leeds called Pancake Marmalade Jones. PMJ has a cellphone which serves no purpose in this episode, but is a flash-forward to some other episode in which something else happens, leading to other and more things to come.

Now there are blinking lights and a bit of fog and the the leaves that the neighbors had been blowing have become twenty-foot high weaponized mannequins with light green eyes reminiscent of a certain super-model-music-legend. These plastical forms are walking around like classic Frankenstein monsters and bumping into one another. Every time a pair collide another black hole rips through a galaxy, and if this continues for another two minutes and forty seconds without commercial break it will mean the death of the universe itself as illegal sub-atomic particles start misbehaving and cleaning out the pantry until there are no honeycombs left. Fortunately the Doctor has not forgotten the two five-syllable words required to immediately return the creatures to their proper forms as dead tree accessories cluttering up the pavement. Those words cannot be repeated because we forgot to turn on the captions and have no idea what the Doctor said. But believe me, it all happened just in the nick of time.