Monthly Archives: November 2011

If You Didn’t Think I Was Pretentious Enough – XIII

Something else from the vaults as long as I’m dusting off relics, that most angst-ridden of expressions, the poem/song. Also, if you ever needed proof that I am a truly irredeemable nerd you need seek no further. To these ends I give you the following.

XIII

For summers of steel, and winters lean
I fought for Caesar, and the bloody thirteen
Across the land, through storm and sand
Graves unmarked, but our hearts in Rome
I fought in Asia, and I fought in Gaul
Goths and Celts, I’ve fought them all
Franks and Vandals, beneath my sandals
Now the war is over, but I can’t go home!

Jupiter Optimus and blood-stained Mars
The honor is yours and the glory is ours
Never a doubt that I would do it again
But glory alone doesn’t feed my kin

I was promised a farm, with rich black earth
A free man’s dream, the harvest and hearth
I lost my hand, to a Parthian sword
But then all I got, was a kindly word
I did my tour, put in my time
Too many o’my brothers, heard Elysium’s chime
I honored the standard, I held the line
Now all I want, is what they said was mine!

Jupiter Optimus and blood-stained Mars
The honor is yours and the glory is ours
Never a doubt that I would do it again
But glory alone doesn’t feed my kin

Now could I stand, beside my band
Against our home, against sacred Rome
We’ll be damned for our scars, for crossing our stars
But we’ll defy our fate, and we’ll carry that weight!

Jupiter Optimus and blood-stained Mars
The honor is yours and the glory is ours
Never a doubt that I would do it again
But glory alone doesn’t feed my kin

For blood red summers, and winters cruel
We fought for the banner, our strength to rule
Across the world, our standard unfurled
But now our wars are over, and we’re all coming home!

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Some Proper Writing

Since one of the purposes behind this whole exercise was to put out some of my writing, and since I’m already slacking off on the schedule I promised to keep, here’s an extra update. It’s a very short, largely out-of-context fiction piece I put together some time ago on an old forum. It probably won’t make a lot of sense, but I’m proud of it.

Have to keep moving, have to keep running. If only the ground would stop trying to crawl away from me. Nothing makes sense at this point, its all become some weird parody. I’m not laughing though. I’m gasping, trying to breathe, sweating bullets, washed out like a junkie. Coming off the pills, all those goddamned pills I quaffed like fucking candy. The detox might kill me before they do, or before this thing inside me does. Inoperable. Second opinions, third opinions, fourth opinions. “Inoperable.” Even if I wasn’t too weak for surgery they say it’s grown too fast, they’d never get it all at this point. It’s just going to keep on growing like some necrotic new organ, hemorrhaging its shit into my system. Its building up there, whatever weird shit it was that thing produced. It’s slowly changing my body chemistry. I smell different than I used to. That’s not good. Sooner or later it’s going to reach toxic levels and my body will reject it and then I’ll die. Simple as that.

They aren’t finished with me yet, though. The certitude of that is like a weight in the pit of my soul. Its only a matter of time. They’re going to want it back, and they’re going to want it before I have the chance to keel over somewhere where they can’t find me. If I let those bastards cut on me again though, there’s no reason why they won’t just dig their shit out and leave me bleeding on the table. So I run, for as long as I can.

Have to keep moving. Can’t sleep, they never do. Bad dreams anyway. Passing the ninety hour mark soon. Everything is taking on this surreal comic-book quality and I can’t tell what I’m really seeing anymore. Graffiti on the walls start narrating my thoughts. Down every dark alley I see an operating theater, an abattoir, where men with lawyers’ suits and surgeons’ tools are taking me to pieces, grinding my bones for a poultice.

At the end of the alley I see him. Tall and thin, yet somehow filling the space he occupies from one wall to the other. It’s his posture that gives him away, a certain killer comfort in the way he carries himself. He’s the one. I can’t even be sure I haven’t just conjured him out of my nightmares, but before I know it he’s going for it and one way or the other I have to react. Normally I’ve got reflexes that could catch a bullet, but I’m so shaky and strung out that I can barely stay ahead of him. His knife makes it home and I feel serrated teeth ripping into my flesh. He’s playing for keeps. The merchandise is what matters here. His movements are a blur, and I don’t know if that’s because of him or me. I can’t keep on top of him for long, I’m too tired. I have to even the playing field.

On more time I jab the nasty angry knot of scars to use the implant. Pain radiates out from it in typhoon waves but I can feel it working. He tries to get a hold on me and I throw him off like a rag doll. I make a couple shots to his ribs and I’m sure I feel one of them buckle. I throw a haymaker that would take his head off but he turns and I miss. Too slow, too clumsy, too tired. His knife takes another chunk out of me. I’m starting to lose blood. A desperate jab puts him back on his heels, but I can’t seize the initiative. I can’t get enough air. Feels like I’m breathing water, gargling with every breath. I can taste something welling up in the back of my throat, choking me. It’s foul, like bile, and I can feel it filling my throat and lungs, drowning me in the open air.

He lunges for me again. I kick him in the groin but it only slows him down. I feel the blade sink deep into my shoulder, grinding my teeth when it scrapes against the bone. His momentum carries me down, landing hard on the concrete and coughing up something vile. He recoils from it instinctively, giving me an opening to grab my hands around his throat. I’m giving everything I’ve got into crushing this fucker’s larynx, but he isn’t quitting yet. He pulls the knife out of my shoulder, taking gore with it, and jams it straight down into my abdomen. It burns like nobody’s business, even more when he twists it. I can feel the strength leaving my arms, loosening around his neck, and I can taste blood mingling with the bile in my mouth. I wonder idly if I’d rather be killed by Anthony Head or Jude Law.

The shit you think about when your heart stops beating…

CASE FILE : VILDER, WILSON : FINAL ENTRY

Confirmation of termination reported at 0208 EST by [REDACTED]. Agent unable to conduct postmortem debriefing and reclamation on site owing to injuries sustained while facilitating termination. After securing site, Agent forced to seek immediate medical attention for injuries, Rapid Response Retrieval called in to acquire subject. However, upon arrival recorded at 0235 Retrieval could not locate the subject on site. Investigation unable to determine at this time how subject was moved nor how site perimeter was breached. Misidentification of subject as deceased possible but unlikely, given Agent’s impeccable credentials. Current recommendation to close out subject’s company file at this time and to open new file in event that subject somehow resurfaces.

Final note: Subject did not pick up last paycheck; please forward matter to human resources and payroll.

CLOSE FILE

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James Deen: Intersections in Male Body Image and Gender Typed Recreation… and also Porn

I’ve noticed a couple of articles floating around the zeitgeist recently.  They involve porn.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/11/17/porn_that_women_like_why_does_it_make_men_so_uncomfortable_.html

http://www.good.is/post/what-women-want

The subject of their discussion is rising porn actor James Deen and his growing appeal among female viewers, a heretofore largely inaccessible and untapped audience. Something touched on in the articles is the ambivalent-to-negative reaction towards both Deen and his female fans from the male majority pornography audience.

The articles want to lay blame for this with strains of latent homophobia stemming from a legitimately attractive male porn lead and with feeling threatened by the frequent chemistry he has with his female partners. I’m not going to say that either of these conclusions are wrong, in fact I believe they are likely onto something there. I wish however to present my own thesis, one which I believe may be more salient. Male body image and self-loathing.

Yes, its a thing. We will deny it. We don’t like talking about it. It exists, though. Men obsess just as much over things like physical appearance and weight as women do, we’re just not ‘supposed’ to. In a way, I’ve found this tends to make us even more neurotic about it, because we don’t have the same kind of approved outlet for this frustration. Now, its certainly true that women tend to have much more negative body image stimulus bombarding them than men do in our everyday media. There is however one section of media enjoyed by most men, some frequently, some casually, some only occasionally, that does greater damage to our body image and self-esteem than I think most of us would like to admit. That is, of course, pornography. The male performers in most mainstream porn are described best in the article as a parade of “…neck chains, frosted tips, unreasonable biceps, [and] tribal tattoos.” It is suggested in the article that this is an expression of industry misconceptions  “…that women want everything big—’Big arms. Big abs. Big dicks.’” I would argue though that would only hold true if the porn industry were actually marketing itself towards a female clientele, and would not account for the kinds of negative response James Deen has received from the male porn fan-base. Given porn’s disproportionate audience, I would argue that these are casting choices made with their male viewers very much in mind.

The body types these actors represent are caricatures of masculinity, part alpha-male, part bad-boy, part metro-sexual, all reflected in a fun-house mirror. The twisted Adam to their partner’s plastic parody of Eve. The articles assert that this is to provide  a kind of prop, a tabula rasa onto which the male viewer may project himself. I won’t say this is wrong, but I will further assert that when we project ourselves onto that form, we also project that form onto our expectations. We can deride the leathery, ill-proportioned corpus we see on the screen, and yet we unconsciously refer to it as a norm representative of sexual prowess. How does this cognitive dissonance occur? The same way it occurs when a woman talks about how much she hates the unrealistic figures on supermodels and then bites her lip over a couple of pounds on the bathroom scale. James Deen’s popularity ought to be empowering to the everyman, yet he is threatening because he undermines our expectations and forces us to question our own self-loathing.

The matter of negative response to Deen’s growing female fan-base is something of another question. Some of this is certainly due to uneasiness with female expressions of sexuality. When men take an active role in their sex-lives they tend to be socially rewarded, whereas when women do the same they are more often stigmatized. However, I tend towards a less  cited reason for this reaction against female porn viewership. There is a conceit within our pop culture that when a woman expresses interest in or knowledge of a traditionally “male” bailiwick, that the typical male response is slavering adoration (I’m looking at you, Big Bang Theory). In my experience though, female interest or knowledge in these areas has tended to be met more often with condescension and dismissal. If one looks at the question historically, attempts by women to gain entrance into more typically male areas of life (drinking establishments, academics, the workforce) have been met with suspicion and hostility. This also holds true in areas of traditionally male recreation such as sports and modern nerd culture. Female fans of James Deen are women at last crossing that final frontier of largely male pastimes, and a certain amount of backlash is all but inevitable.

Now, to try “I’m feeling lucky” on Google…

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Hunting Buffaloes in Bat Country

Well, The Rum Diary has now come and gone from theaters with much the speed and ambiguity that one might have predicted for a film of its type. Much talked about and yet simultaneously largely ignored. One thing it has done though is deliver a speedball to the cult following of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. There will be another time when I devote words to dissecting, inspecting, and injecting the ins and outs of that particular following, but at this port of call my intent is to retrospectively review a less examined expression of the same.

Where The Buffalo Roam is a 1980 film which starred Bill Murray portraying Hunter Thompson. It is presented as a collection of vignettes based on episodes from Thompson’s life and writing (which in his Gonzo style are almost impossible to extricate from one another), particularly his relationship with attorney-activist Oscar Zeta Acosta, here styled as Carl Lazlo and played by Peter Boyle. It is also the first attempt at putting Thompson’s work to celluloid.

It is difficult to look at this film solely as an independent work. That is, the temptation is omnipresent to draw comparison with the later Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which has become something of a cultural touchstone and a kind of Thompson film canon. I have tried from a couple of angles to tackle this without referencing the other movie, but the fact is that F&L casts such a long shadow as to make it nearly impossible.

Buffalo‘s prototype status is apparent in a couple of ways. First, its drug use is noticeably more subdued, both in emphasis and execution. It still occurs, and often, but it is referenced less directly. The effects of the drug use in the film are also illustrated almost totally through Murray’s mannerisms and body language, as opposed to the phototropic holocaust presented us in Fear and Loathing. That film shares with its antecedent a problem of highly disjointed narrative, but whereas F&L could always lean on the aforementioned drug use distorting the narrator’s perceptions, Buffalo can only lay blame with a hastily glued together screenplay and a generalized lack of pacing. While its certainly entertaining to watch Murray’s performance as Thompson (which I’ll talk more about later) as he meanders from scene to scene, sowing mayhem in his wake, after a while you start to wonder when a plot is going to emerge. Then the end credits roll and you realize that that was it. The only character with much of a proper arc is Lazlo, and it occurs almost entirely off-screen. The frequent use of Neil Young’s quavering rendition of the title song gets distracting, and while I’m pretty sure I get what they were going for with it (reinforcing the theme of the “freaks” being more properly American than the flag waving men in suits), I feel they could have found a less obtrusive way to communicate it.

Another area where its hard to avoid making comparisons is in the actual portrayal of the Thompson persona. Johnny Depp has all but staked out the role in the collective consciousness of our generation, having now performed it twice (three times if you count his frequent readings in the Thompson documentary Gonzo) and being an actor with more anchors in  contemporary pop culture. Bill Murray can’t help but seem a little dated, a representative of our parents’ comedy. He’s funny, but you’d be hard pressed to call him “hip.” As such, he may seem miscast in the role, or at least in the role as we have come to envision it. Admittedly, he does have a bit of a problem keeping himself in the Thompson character, tending to slide back into the Murray-isms and stock beats we’re all familiar with. When he gets it though, he fucking nails it. Depp eloquates very well Thompson’s unique written voice, a boon in the narration driven Fear and Loathing, but Murray (barely 30 at the time) almost perfectly captures the muttering, rambling, exasperating  style of the real life Thompson.

Is Where the Buffalo Roam some kind of lost classic? No.  Is it an underappreciated film with a unique vision that’s worth 96 minutes of your time? I would say yes.

Now, to do something about those damn bats…

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Opening Credits Roll

Testing. Testing. Is this thing on? Oh, right. Okay, here we go.

Lets call me Walker. Its not much of an internet handle, but it does good duty as a descriptor. I walk. Places.

I should think that isn’t why you’re here though, whoever “you” are. I hope that maybe you’re here to gander at my writing on various and disparate subjects of interest to me, which the notion is that this blog should showcase. I should be up front with the fact that Walker is a curmudgeonly luddite with a petrifying fear of new media, so I can’t promise much razzle dazzle on these musings until I’ve properly learned the ropes of this subversive new digital publishing thing.

Who is Walker? Well aside from being a guy who sometimes talks in the third person for no real reason, the eventual Interpol dossier on me will likely list that I embarked on my career of futile pedantry and part-time supervillainy as a recent college grad bereft of meaningful direction and adrift on a sea of information overload. Part extended writing exercise, part living resume, part sluice for the radioactive waste that occasionally seeps from my brain. In essence, a “blog.”

Now, to arms comrades!

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