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 In the meantime, as new occupations have superseded the old at a tremendous rate, the last name industry has not even tried to catch up.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.

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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.

Really Bad Fan Fiction #4: Sherlock Holmes

“I say, Holmes,” I said to my good friend Mister Sherlock Holmes one rainy winter evening. “Isn’t it remarkable how the sun never actually sets and yet it does set, every night.”

“Not at all,” replied that astute observer of all things everywhere. “It’s not in the least remarkable, which makes me wonder why indeed you bothered to remark upon it at all. What is truly remarkable, however, is that damnable woman!”

“A woman you say?” I pricked up my ears, for whenever Holmes mentioned a woman, it usually meant THAT woman.

“The new cleaning lady,” he continued, biting down hard upon his pipe. “Every time she comes she opens up all the kitchen cupboards and never closes a single one. I find myself continually banging my noggin upon those dratted cupboard doors. I have half a mind to show HER the door and let it hit her where the good lord split her.”

“It is what it is,” I replied. “But considering we hardly pay the poor creature, it’s a wonder she ever returns at all.”

“We pay fair market wages,” Holmes scoffed. “If she wants more than a penny a week she should damn well ask for it. But what bothers me is why. Why won’t she close a single cupboard door? There’s something afoot, I fear. Some fiendish plot, I swear.”

“Maybe she likes messing with your head,” I grumbled softly so as not to disturb my dear friend, who was by now knee deep in one of his precocious studies, keenly perusing his unique collection of moth-wing dust.

“And she leaves the tea bags on the sink,” he growled, now becoming increasingly incensed. “What kind of foul vagabond leaves their bloody tea bags on the sink! It’s enough to drive a man to drugs.”

“As if you needed an excuse,” I said. “But there you have it. I shall call this one The Case of the Bloody Tea Bag. People will love it. I can shove any old crap at them as long as it has your name on it.”

Really Bad Fan Fiction #3: Star Trek

(These are the voyages of the star ship Enterprise, its continuing mission to mansplain where no man has splained before)

Captain’s Log, star date 7-13-2017: While orbiting the planet Spüller2000, the crew of the Enterprise noticed a tribe of native peoples gathered around a stream where it spülled into the ocean. Some of the people appeared to be reaching into the water as if to grab fish and were coming up empty-handed.

Captain Kirk: My God, look how incompetent those poor primitive people are! Can we stand by and let them starve to death? Surely we, with our vast stores of intelligence and experience, can lend them a helping hand in their hour of need?

Science Officer Spock: They do appear to be struggling, Captain. However I feel it is my duty to remind you that the Prime Directive …

Captain Kirk: Dammit Spock. To hell with the Prime Directive! When have we EVER been known to honor that shit! Point me to one episode, one single instance where we refrained from interfering and minded our own damn business because of a stupid ideal from some late twentieth century screenwriter!

Lt. Uhuru: Excuse me, Captain, but I think those are children we are looking at, and I think they are merely playing a sort of splashing game.

Captain Kirk: Children? I thought they were pygmies! OK computer, calculate the ages and mental capacity of those images upon the screen, and tell me what they’re thinking!

Computer: I’m sorry. I am not able to do that yet, but I am still learning.

Captain Kirk (grumbling): Who the fuck thought this computer product was ready to launch? Where’s the fucking quality control?

Science Office Spock: According to the data banks, quality control approved the release of this computer product. Corporate management told them it was necessary in order for Q3 goals to align with stockholder expectations.

Captain Kirk: Well, anyway, load up the photon torpedoes just in case we have to waste those meddling kids.

Really Bad Fan Fiction #2: Harry Potter

Harry, Ron and Hermione decided to go to America. They were sick of meat pies and chips and they’d also had enough of the whole wizards versus muggles rigamarole. They wanted to go where everyone had been created equal and endowed by their Creator. The first thing they did after landing at JFK and taking a cab through Queens was to get on a train to see the Real America. They somehow ended up in Racine, Wisconsin and got out to look around. Harry, Ron and Hermione were immediately impressed by the plethora of Dairy Queens and Chick-Fil-A’s available to the common bystander. The flavors, artificial or not, were much to their liking. It seemed like magic. You could order anything you wanted any time you wanted. There were even breakfast sandwiches at midnight.

Harry, Ron and Hermione got a room at a decent Best Western that even had a hot tub. That night while watching the local news they saw a story about a young woman who’d been stopped by the police for a broken tail light and had ended up beaten to death by them because she had been identified as black. Harry, Ron and Hermione didn’t understand. Hermione took it upon herself to look further into the matter, and discovered that even right there where they were, in far Northern America, the city had been deliberately segregated for generations, and quite a number of laws and regulations had their origins in a deep-seated racism.

“Looks like they have their own version of wizards and muggles,” she told the lads, “only here the powers aren’t special, they’re just rigged.” The next day Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to investigate the truth of the matter, each in their own way. When they got back together at an Outback Steak House for lunch, Ron got on Hermione’s last nerve by endlessly repeating “Bernie would have won” in response to everything she said. Hermione considered casting a silencio spell on her chum, but decided instead on a rather more simple “fuck you, Ron”. This curse reminded Harry that they were not too far from Lake Huron and suggested they go on a field trip there. “After all,” he said, “when they say ‘America the Beautiful’, they don’t necessarily mean its historical institutions. It’s the land more than anything else that is truly exceptional.”

 

Really Bad Fan Fiction #1: Spiderman

Peter Parker, the young superhero slash photographer, was out with his camera wandering around the truly shit parts of the city. He visited a homeless encampment under the freeway and, inspired by the works of Dorothea Lange, took a number of heart-rending photos of some unfortunates who live there. They were dizzy from hunger and dirty from outdoor living, and there was nothing that Peter Parker or Spiderman could really do for them. He could shoot webs from his wrists and that would be of no help whatsoever. He could swing from pillar to post all day long beneath that filthy iron superstructure and not one single rag would turn to even a hint of far-off riches. Peter Parker took his camera and his photos back to the Daily Bugle where he showed them to his tyrannical editor, Mr. Jameson. Jameson took a healthy bite out of his cigar and growled, “get the fuck out of my office you little pipsqueak, and don’t ever try to sell me this kind of stupid sentimental sob story ever again. No one really gives a fuck about these homeless people. They are no one’s priority, not now and not ever. Now go out there and find me some awesome shots of Spiderman kicking some bad guy’s ass. That’s what the people want.” Parker left the office feeling low and later confided his feelings to his girlfriend Mary Jane, but she was also kind of grossed out by the pictures. “I don’t even want to know”, she said. Mary Jane was just like everybody else. She was the girl next , and she was you too, and you know it. Peter Parker decided right then and there to renounce violence and crime-fighting forever. If I can’t help people who really need help, he thought, why should I go around supporting the police state, which can and does get along just fine without me? I might as well get a real job.

I gave it my all. Now I want my all back.

I thought I had a great idea last night, in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping. I tend to narrate in my dreams, and in this dream I was not only narrating the dream but deciding that this was a kind of narrating that I could carry over into the waking life, and that it would work quite well. The idea was to write just the beginning, the middle, and the end of a story. With huge gaps in between. So it would be like the first five minutes of a movie, then a five minute scene an hour into it, and then a bit of the ending as well. I might have had this idea because of a movie I watched last night before bed, a pretty terrible American remake of a pretty good Argentine move (The Secret in their Eyes). There were only a handful of good scenes, so why not just write those, and the hell with the rest of it?

So tonight I sat down and thought I’d give it a whirl. Nope. Nothing came of it. Some ideas are just bad ideas.

Here are some other bad ideas: a story is like a roommate. You want a roommate, and at first you think, ok, this could work out, but pretty soon that roommate starts to drive you crazy. They are always in your home! They have their own agenda. They want what they want, not what you want. Pretty soon you’d give anything to get rid of that roommate. So you hurry up and finish the story. At least I do. Usually two or three weeks is all I can take. It’s also why my story’s endings tend to suck, because I just cannot wait to be done with them. Get them out of the house. Throw them onto the internet so they can’t complain. What do you want? I gave you to the world! Frickin’ lousy roommate, get out of my head.

I could do all those “fragments from books that don’t exist” because they were more like one-night stands. I was only allowed to spend up to an hour on each one, including both the cover art and the writing. But even that became tiresome after 99 of them. I couldn’t even do one more to make it an even hundred. That was six months of doing, at a clip of three or four a week. Enough was enough.

But now I’m looking for another set of improvisational/performance-type fiction. Short and sweet little beasts that won’t hang around and pester me with their arcs and clingy need for development and resolution. I don’t want characters inhabiting my home. I want them to merely visit for a brief spell, and then go away.

Maybe I’ll chop up the dream idea, and instead of writing a beginning AND a middle AND  an ending, I could just pick whichever one I felt like doing, and do that.

One of my favorite books is “If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler”, in which Italo Calvino writes the first chapter of ten different books, all in a row. It’s quite a feat.

Stanislaw Lem’s “A Perfect Vacuum” is a collection of reviews of books that don’t exist. Loved that one too.

And then there is ‘The Museum of the Novel of Eterna’, by Macedonio Fernandez, which begins with dozens of hilarious prefaces. My own book ‘Macedonia’ was a tribute to that.

A lot of people hate meta. A lot of people are also Republicans. You can’t worry about things like “a lot of people”.

I still want roommates, but very very temporary ones. So I’ll come up with something. Even if I have to stick it out for two or three weeks. It’s usually worth it.