Saturday, November 3, 2018

My last political rant on Twitter:

My last political rant on Twitter: It surprises me to say, as an independent, that I hope #Elections2018 go in the Democrats' favor. I don't believe in their party, but it's the natural evolution of the USA to become a globalized progressive capitalist society. Trump is wrong.

I think populism is always a short-term experiment. Democrats are not socialists. Not at all. Never will be. But I think, overall, their way is the future and the American culture of yesterday will stay in yesterday. That's where the past belongs.

Capitalism is the best way to unify Americans, that is after all, what Americans are: capitalists. Republicans are old world capitalists, fixated on old laws and racist ideologies. Democrats are new age capitalists, focused on green technology and Big Brother censorship...

But green technology is what will keep the world going for another 200 years so it's better to err on the side of caution. Our only long-term hope is someday leave the earth and colonize other planets.

Logically, the only way to save earth is a worldwide government.

There is no good or evil, just youth vs. old dinosaurs, as always. Youth always wins...for better or worse, it always wins. Good and evil are speechwriter's words. Take a look at how we Good Americans treat animals and tell me how "we" are "noble creatures."

I've never approved of imperialism, still don't. But imperialism is a human flaw that will continue to thrive as long as humans exist. Everyone thinks of a Utopian society but no one has ever actualized it, not in millions of years of human history.

I like socialism, but it's it's a fantasy, a novel plot, nothing more. Every socialist experiment falls off the scale with capitalism, communism or centrism. All we as humans understand is power, (old world monarchies, religion) and now, the merchants who keep economies running.

We're still stuck in a Utopian-wannabe culture that still worships people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Zuckerberg and you @jack.  We can never grow as socialists as long as merchants steer the ship.

But capitalism is what works for now.

Ultimately, I'm proud of millennial culture. #MeToo, #PCCulture and #racialequality #LGBTQ rights - these are all wonderful things.  They have taken some wrong turns, sure, but they are going to shape a better future.

Finally...I do admit, I still wonder in the back of my mind if Trump was a CIA experiment to get millennials interested in politics. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Network (1976)

One of my favorite films is considered a masterpiece of 1976. I first watched it as a teenager and even back then I knew this was one to be studied.
This is how all writers should write, at least if they have an ear for comedy and drama.
"Network" was more than just a dramedy, however. It was a satire and a bit of a psychological horror because of the inhumane way it treated its characters, as well as its schizoid-like deconstruction of the human experience.
Howard Beale was the mad prophet, a fun scenery-chewing role to play, by the late Peter Finch, but the real terror of the movie comes from William Holden and Faye Dunaway who inhabited their characters (Max Schumacher and Diana Christensen) with such horrid detachment from all humanity.
Perhaps the deepest thought in Network (a film with so many direct parallels to the culture Modern American has created that it's less a satire and more of a prophecy) is the idea that the news, as well as the dehumanizing approach news producers take to such dark material, makes people insane.
This was certainly the thought emphasized by journalists who directly attributed inspiration of the movie to Christine Chubbuck, who committed suicide on live television a few years prior.
However, in a later interview with Paddy Chayefsky, he stated that Christine did not inspire the fact, the idea came from the experience of going behind the scenes of a news network and seeing the amorality of what they do to sell stories and get bigger ratings.
That's what inspired Network - the idea that so much dehumanizing language and emotional detachment from life drives one mad.
The movie is all the more appealing nowadays because of the "fake news" war going on between the Right and the Left.
What immediately drew me to it as a young man, was that screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky received just as much attention - if not more - as director Sydney Lumet for writing the satirical script. That was huge for the 1970s and even quite the milestone today, where it seems only writer-directors get any credit as visionaries.
And just to end this on a demoralizing note, you know what movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1976?
That's right, you can write something so brilliant only to someday be outvoted by Sylvester Stallone's biceps.

Girly, - Musmy Nanny, Sonny and Girly

#Girly is one of those rare cinema gems that denies you a gut reaction and leaves you in a state of perpetual confusion...until days later when you realize you've actually seen something new and groundbreaking.
Not so much traditional horror as it is psychological horror, an unnerving experience in which you're held hostage by a family that is sociopathic, if not as traditionally violent as the Sawyer / Leatherface family.
The movie was initially looked over because of sheer "indifference" - it wasn't a slasher movie or a thriller. It was very low budget.
I wasn't sure what to think of it when I first saw it, except to label it as a that critically analyzed UK politics and culture of the 1969 era.
But even today, it's relevant in the sense that it is still a great study in psychosis. It was a pioneer of the psychological horror genre, as well as a political satire.
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover was a similar film, except that it felt like an absurd and artsy narrative, compared to "Girly", which actually resembled a more traditional horror format. Which is why, I suppose, it's still considered a horror flick. (Just barely)

Raining Cats & Dogs

Raining Cats & Dogs was originally published at Subversify magazine in 2009 and then compiled into an ebook in 2017.
It was slightly ahead of its time, since it took about ten years for filmmakers to explore the idea of an "all dog cast" and a canine stream of consciousness, NOT for children but for adults. Most notably Wes Anderson and the Isle of Dogs, which I haven't seen yet, but might sometime soon. I gather his film will be very different from mine, since mine was written in the spirit of Animal Farm and not a survivalist adventure flick.
I devised the idea of an all-dog murder mystery after being repulsed by the writing business and of course, suffering from a multi-year writer's block. (I finished my last new book in 2005 and took a long break)
It was very loosely based on The Brothers Kamarazov and explored concepts of religion, family and depression from a dog's point of view.
It was a predecessor to The End of the Magical Kingdom for its satirical themes (funny but also disturbing), and according to my writing style, in that it was violent, lustful and dark in subject matter, even while being rather absurd in theme.
I don't think it was the best work I've done, but it was the blueprint for writing superior works like The Saint of Science later on.

Little Big Man

My mother once told me that Little Big Man was one of her favorite movies. I remember her saying that the 1960s were a very cynical decade but that the 1970s cinema seemed to get back its heart.
When I first saw Little Big Man I remember scoffing at it--what the filmmakers thought it was supposed to be. A drama? A comedy? A satire of history? Something self important or not important at all? Perhaps I didn't appreciate it back then, but what I take from the movie now is that it's a shady version of the truth--like all history is--and it's as funny and disturbing as real life can be.
The movie tells the story of Jack Crabb (played subtly brilliant by a young Dustin Hoffman), a white man who grew up with American Indians and then later joined the white culture of late 1800s America. His unique upbringing allowed him to move back and forth into two different worlds, two different extreme cultures. Both cultures had altogether different values but the same apparent life dissatisfaction, not to mention an unreserved hatred of one another.
Not only did I personally relate to the protagonist's strange dilemma but I also saw it as a metaphor for the different perspectives we are arbitrarily born into in life. Everything we take for granted, everything we believe but haven't actually learned. Perhaps the film, like the novel it was based on, is a testament to neutrality, pacifism and non-violent resistance. It may well be the antithesis of most 1970s films, which were hard anti-establishment and pro-Democratic.
Little Big Man was actually one of the very first films to depict Native American sympathetically since in years past conservative filmmakers painted them as "savages". But somehow, as I watched the story of Jack Crabb come and go, as uneventful in the stream of time as it was truly unique to behold, I couldn't help but wonder if it truly is the definitive post-patriotic meditational experiment.
In an age of Right vs Left war that never really ends, isn't the only winner the one who lives to tell the story of the bloodshed?

Flowers in the Attic

I list V.C. Andrew's Flowers in the Attic as an inspiration for The End of the Magical Kingdom. Although I obviously don't write incest, I saw the movie as a teen and found it quite disturbing. I still remember images and moments in the film all these years later, even though I haven't seen it in 30 years.
I never read the books. But the conflict in the film, between parent and child, was interesting to me. It was exploring the concept of parental love gone cold. It's something that happens frequently in the animal world and yet it can happen in the human world too. What causes it? God knows, but stories of it happening, whether dramatized or when we read about it on Facebook viral news, are always morbidly fascinating.
This is what makes the film a particularly effective psychological horror.

The Mike Pence Rule

I personally don't believe in this rule.
But I can see why a person, especially in the political arena, may find it necessary to institute an arbitrary rule like this to gain immunity.
If it's well known among a man's peers that he never spends time alone with another woman, it may be a protection against false allegations that hypothetically could turn up later on.
Is it misogynistic? No, at worst, it's evidence of paranoia. But in Pence's case, and in many men's case, it may be paranoia that's actually supported by his spouse.
I know many women who would take offense at knowing their husband is meeting anyone else "alone". Is it possessiveness or mistrust? Maybe...but that's the negotiation between husband and wife. None of our business.
If my own intuition was to tell me, "Don't be alone with this person! Something is off..." I would listen to my instincts, regardless of how politically incorrect it seems. Regardless of whose feelings it hurts.
I being a writer have the luxury of not having to meet with anyone. I have the option to say no (and usually do because meeting with people drains me lol) Pence doesn't have the option to be a recluse.
Self-preservation is always more important than the appearance of being an all-trusting paragon of virtue.
While there is plenty of reason to dislike Pence, this is not one of them.

Centrism Sucks

The very idea of #centrism bothers me. The idea of compromise seems to provoke anyone who believes in a cause or supports what they feel is the "moral" decision.
But the more I study history and observe politics, or simply admit what is human nature, it is quite likely that society is built on compromise. Modern society is built on the notion that two polarized sides will either fight to the death, or compromise somewhere. Minimizing violence requires compromise. Human beings are the ones who ultimately decide whether they feel like killing or dying, or if they just want to let something go.
I as a semi-radical , a journalist and a creative writer, I despise the idea of #compromise or centrism because it feels like a moral failure.
Looking in on the outside, I know that the 1% wealthy elite will never acquiesce completely and history shows they never have. Religion, monarchies, always found a way to tolerate prosperous families because in some indirect way, it benefits them as well.
So while we may see globalism coming a mile away, and decry it as a victory solely for merchants, it is ultimately a compromise that society will always be willing to make. Such is human nature, because at some point, the endless bloodshed does eventually make us wonder what we're really fighting about.
Realizing that the art of compromise and centrism is crucial to world peace, is perhaps what causes many idealists like myself to lose interest in politics. The realization that our views are too absurd, too ambitious to be doable in one generation, is demoralizing.
This is the golden age for mediators, marketers and philanthropists who see great victory in selling out and can materially profit from winning one battle at a time.


Dogville might not be my personal favorite, but I wouldn't argue with anyone who said it it's the best movie ever made.
It combined everything I love about the theater with everything great about independent and foreign films.
I have forgotten most of the movies I've watched over the past years but I still remember the first time I watched Dogville and the second time I watched it, with my parents, who were scandalized but of course very enthralled with the allegorical subject matter. They were yelling by the end of the movie, very into it. That says a lot about the film's gripping pathos. Hard to watch for multiple reasons, but it earns its climax - psychological horror unparalleled.
I've often heard people accuse #LarsVonTrier of being misogynistic. Honestly, I don't know...the only films I've seen were Dogville, #Melancholia(sort of anticlimactic), #AntiChrist (visceral, powerful imagery like a David Lynch film but with even more sexualized violence), and the sequel to Dogville which was fairly ridiculous and hardly worth remembering the name of. I actually found his last feature, #Nymphomaniac to be surprisingly feminist in its final act.
I don't know much about the director personally and his films are hit and miss, so I don't know if Lars is the internet's public enemy #1 or not.
I know Dogville is the definitive Anti-American film. An allegory so deep most of the cast didn't even get the joke.
It's very long and minimalist but it's very much anti-imperialist America, which is why I liked it. It's classified as an international film since Lars is Danish, the production companies are multiple countries, and the cast is British / American. The movie got pretty savage reviews by the US media, mostly decrying the fact that it was vitriolic, anti-American and bitter. That was one of my coming-of-age moments when I realized most critics don't know what they're talking about. Since when is passion in art a bad thing?
Few films, outside of the torture porn genre, will fill you with as much righteous fury as Dogville. The film is an exceptional allegory for mankind's gross sins against his own people. As much as we would all like to believe that the film is about man's suffering and the injustice of mob mentality, there is one important point we're all missing. This is about your country! Dogville is the harshest criticism of American values I've ever seen and that is strictly because of its allegorical simplicity and PG-rated content that still feels horrific somehow.
Dogville is a triumph of manic depressive, prejudicial rage. I think Dogville is a movie that disillusions you and brings you to a new level of consciousness. Like Kubrick, another influence of mine, I think Lars' voice, his distrust of humanity, is a strong voice in my head I have yet to shake.


I have always been tornado-phobic.
The deadly Tornado is a childhood phobia I took with me into adulthood.
Last night's tornado warning got me thinking about why certain people have this phobia, when statistically speaking, tornadoes are rare killers of human beings.
Is it the element of surprise or perhaps the gruesome details reported in these rare instances of tornado fatalities?
In my case, I believe my phobia comes from the tornado being closely tied in with my ego/id.
Humankind has historically and superstitiously attributed "Acts of God" to divine judgment against sinful humankind. While most of us have outgrown this concept (very few theists even believe this anymore, given the growing evidence that humankind is the one tampering with the weather) it still struck me as a very potent symbol for man's volatile relationship with heaven.
In my first novel Attempted Rapture, I used the tornado as a motif for divine judgment against errant humankind, namely the #antihero Hal Persill who was an allegorical character representing human arrogance.
That he meets two psychotic antagonists in the book is a symbol for demonic entities influencing humankind and corrupting perfection, or more specifically, the perception of "perfection", which in Hal's case was Satanic pride.
In the last chapter, Jaded Sapphira, we learn that the tornado was actually a Freudian symbol of the Hell we create ourselves by the decisions we make.
While I am proud of Attempted Rapture and did get a glowing review from author #RichardFulgham, (one of my three favorite living authors) I do feel as if Attempted Rapture is a difficult read and hard to understand for readers unfamiliar with biblical allusions, which are prevalent in the book (The prodigal son, Madam Folly and Lady Wisdom, The Genesis Flood).
Someday, I may try to market it again, but preferably after I make some noise with The End of the Magical Kingdom.
The End of the Magical Kingdom is a similar book in theory, especially with the Acts of God theme (the Red Moon, the Zombie Rising) except that it is a bit more mainstream and easier to read, given the numerous political and pop culture references.
I recommend it as a gateway drug book into my style of writing, which is "tragic parody." Then Raining Cats and Dogs, then Attempted Rapture, and then Cry on Cue (if you really doesn't make much sense)
But I still do think about Attempted Rapture every time I hear sirens.

A short parable

Once upon a time, there lived a fun, loving, passionate and compassionate prince who was fair and very sure of “Happily Ever After.”   ...