“Well, first you need to collect the menses rags of a seven-hundred-year-old witch. Then, you need to stitch them up inside of a dead goat’s urinary bladder on a full moon’s night. From then on, it gets a bit unpleasant.” – from The Cobbler of Buttercup, Based on a True Story, in Rusty Nails and Broken Glass
So, it’s been a while, huh? Blogging remains low on the to do list, but I’ve been drawn out of my cave by the return of bizarro author S.C. Hayden, whose earlier work, American Idol, I glowingly reviewed here, back in May of ’11. Hayden sent me a review copy of his new anthology, Rusty Nails and Broken Glass, a collection of short stories. This was perfect, considering how much of my time lately is spent reading things that could hardly be called “fun” or even “entertaining”, and the short story format really gave me the time to look at it in dribs and drabs, as my schedule allowed.
How to describe it? It’s kinda hard. Reviews often use the word macabre to describe works like this. I think it’s an apt description. The stories vary in the extent of how much they depart from reality as we know it, ranging from the “Holy shit, this is messed up!” variation as seen in the book’s opener, She’s My Everything, where a guy goes for a one-night stand and ends up lovingly taking care of the creature pictured on the book’s cover above, to more conventional (as in “still in this universe”) fare, such as in A Bucket of Laughs, a revenge tale that goes horribly, unforseeably wrong. Revenge, or more specifically, the theme of people getting their comeuppance, is a theme that permeated many of the stories in this tome. And who doesn’t like to see that (well, I could think of a few people, but the hell with them)? When combined with some of the more oddball stuff, such as in The Box, a rather creepy tale about a mysterious, horrifying (and one might say, interdimensional?) carnival attraction, it started to occur to me that this book kind of reads like a collection of some of the best of the old E.C. comic books, such as Vault of Horror and Tales From the Crypt. If someone ever decided to make another Creepshow movie, they’d have plenty of top-notch source material to work with, here (and a heck of a lot better than what was in Creepshow 2, for that matter). Where else can you read about dominatrixes, sadistic, medieval, multicolored elves, and perpetually-changing magic poo that looks like John Lennon, Fidel Castro, and Jesus, all in one place? (there’s your one-liner for the book, S.C.)
Hayden often gets lumped into the bizarro fiction genre, a rather diverse style with varying qualities that can sometimes be enormously twisted and entertaining, and at other times, rather confusing and a bit too surrealistic (for my tastes, at least). None of the latter here. Strange as the stories may be, the reader doesn’t ever get lost in any surrealism. Hayden’s good like that – you never get the sense you don’t know what’s going on, even though you’re quite often thrown for a very good loop and surprise. So it’s a very accessible book, and the short-story format makes for some great summer reading, too. Get it. Seriously.
Me, not this deer that my brother found when ice fishing on the Waterbury Reservoir today.
I ain’t lying… I’ve thought about hangin’ it up here. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans, and all that. But I’ll get it going again. Had a lot of stuff happen since the last time we all chatted.
I got home from a late night band rehearsal and was feeling rather festive, and the moon is rather bright tonight, so I grabbed a beer and Krusty dog and decided to go for a late night walk. I’m right across the street from a dirt road that goes through Vermont’s second largest state park, so why the hell not?
Winter is just beginning here, the air is rather crisp and I can hear an occasional late-night cow bellowing in the distance. I was reading the news a while ago, and there was a lot on the development of some GOPers talking about breaking Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.
All I could think about was why should we give a shit about some stupid pledge that some dumbasses gave to one guy? Seriously, Beltway Bubble People? This is a problem for anyone but Republican politicians? Please explain.
There’s an excellent, must-read bit over at Der Spiegel today, a very sober analysis of the decline of American Exceptionalism:
But today’s crisis is far more comprehensive, extending to the social, political and spiritual realms. The worst thing about it is that the country still refuses to engage in any debate over the reasons for its decline. It seems as if many Americans today no longer want to talk about how they can strengthen their union. Criticism is seen as a betrayal of America’s greatness.
Americans don’t do self-reflection very well. We just love slogans and politicians who tell us how great we are, just like the Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons – an utter dolt whose whole persona is a bunch of contrived superiority.
That, and oh yeah, teabaggers.
Good one in the Times about how the Godidiots got their asses reamed in the election. It’s basically an overview of how the American Taliban is in decline, but for me, the money quote, the one that says it all (and in their braindead moral absolutism, they will not learn from) is:
“It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,” he said. “An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.”
That won’t stop ‘em from trying, of course, but it’s nice to read, regardless.
Yeah, I’m still here. I’ve been avoiding the constant election blogging, mostly due to time constraints, as well as a desire for my own sanity. I am sure Ron Paul is still going to pull it off.
But seriously, I’m pretty sure Obama’s going to win Certainly not because he is a fantastic president – he isn’t, although it’s amazing he has survived the insane teabaggery and detached reality that now personifies the radical right. It’s because Romney is so much of a blatant dick that all of the spin in the world can’t hide it.
Now, of course, being a dick is an asset within the GOP. Their platform, their people, their apparatus, it’s all based on being as much of a dick as humanly possible, and thus, appealing to the most dickish people in the country. But I don’t think that’s enough to get him over the top. It was easier for Bush, namely because a lot of people could relate to the moronic nature of the guy, but now that most Americans have finally cleaned the shit out of their 9-11 diapers, the fear factor is not what it used to be, outside of the mouthbreather GOP base.
I think what’s galling me is on my own side, there’s still a certain contingency of the BUT DRONES AND WALL STREET crowd. Which, in some sort of twisted logic, comes down to “there’s no difference between the two.” I don’t disagree with the drones/Wall Street criticism. But there’s so much more than that.
What a blind, superficial (and condescending when they accuse anyone with a bit more nuanced perspective as being just another tool for the system), and frankly, stupid conclusion. Supreme Court. War with Iran. War on Women, Gays, the Poor and Not-White People. And more than anything else, for me, is Romney does and has to pander to the most dickish, anti-intellectual segment of the population (what we would have called “Palinesque” a few years ago), as that’s really the only way the GOP has any shot at anything. Unacceptable. Period. Even Chomsky realizes this.
One does not have to be “for” drones, Wall Street or any of that other stuff to simply realize there are two choices. No, Anderson, Stein, Goode, and Johnson have no chance in hell of anything, of even moving the dialogue at this point, so get over yourself. I’m voting against Romney – that’s the way I’m looking at it. Sure, some of you will respond with the “how cynical-lesser-of-two-evils-blah-blah-DRONES-blah-voting-is-not-ever-going-to-change-anything”, but kindly shut the fuck up, shove that sentiment up your purist ass and spare me. I’ve heard it all before, and I even agree with a lot of it. Elections DO matter. They may not in the sense of bringing on the radical changes that I’d like to see, but consider how, for example, we probably wouldn’t had to deal with 9-11 (and the resulting wars and stupidity) had we had a president that took the memos seriously and wasn’t worried more about prosecuting pornographers and bong salesmen.
I’m certainly not dismissing the anarchist arguments about the importance of organizing; I most certainly agree and support those actions to the fullest. But this doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and this election will have consequences, as they all do. I’m going to close with that great article by Charles Pierce that’s making the rounds, it sums it up quite nicely for me:
It is vitally important that the Republican party be kept away from as much power as possible until the party regains its senses again. It is not just important to the advance of progressive goals, thought it is. It is not just important to maintain the modicum of social justice that it has taken eighty years to build into the institutions of our government, though it is. It is important, too, that that you vote for one of these men based on whom else, exactly, he owes. Who is it that’s going to come with the fiddler to collect when you get what you’ve bargained for?
Barack Obama owes more than I’d like him to owe to the Wall Street crowd. He probably at this point owes a little more than I’d like him to owe to the military. The rest he owes to the millions of people who elected him in 2008 — especially to those people whose enthusiasm I neither shared nor really understood — and he will owe them even more if they come out and pull his chestnuts out of the fire for him this time around. He may sell them out — and, yes, I understand if you wanted to add “again” to that statement — but they are not likely to revenge themselves against the country if he does and, even if they decided to, they don’t have the power to do much but yell at the right buildings.
On the other hand, Willard Romney owes even more to the Wall Street crowd, and he owes even more to the military, but he also owes everything he is politically to the snake-handlers and the Bible-bangers, to the Creationist morons and to the people who stalk doctors and glue their heads to the clinic doors, to the reckless plutocrats and to the vote-suppressors, to the Randian fantasts and libertarian fakers, to the closeted and not-so-closeted racists who have been so empowered by the party that has given them a home, to the enemies of science and to the enemies of reason, to the devil’s bargain of obvious tactical deceit and to the devil’s honoraria of dark, anonymous money, and, ultimately, to those shadowy places in himself wherein Romney sold out who he might actually be to his overweening ambition. It is a fearsome bill to come due for any man, let alone one as mendaciously malleable as the Republican nominee. Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.
Indeed. Shit or get off the pot.
Considering that nobody really gives a shit about Sarah Palin anymore, the new recipient of the Dumbest Fucking Person on the Planet Award goes to Congressman Allen West, for his latest word salad:
My statement to the United Nations would have been, “The future does not belong to those who attack our Embassies and Consulates and kill our Ambassadors. The Angel of Death in the form of an American Bald Eagle will visit you and wreak havoc and destruction upon your existence.”
Who can top that? Rep. Steve King? Michele Bachmann? Rush Limbaugh? That’s a hard act to follow.