Follow my continued adventures at

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Journalism is over

MSNBC, we know how dedicated you are to your craft now:

First, may it be said that the prankster is my new hero, whoever he may be. I salute you, sir!

The "journalist," whose actual name is apparently Krystal Ball, is the reason that every untrained 14-year-old with a smartphone is now just as important to the dissemination of information as well paid and, apparently, equally untrained professional journalists. See the smug, bitchy demeanor Ball displays in the still above? She looks that way both BEFORE and AFTER she gets pranked; classic resting bitch face (a disease whose victims I'd feel a lot worse for if it weren't for its near 100% comorbidity with Actual Bitch Syndrome). How can you be that baseline dissatisfied with being privileged, useless, and overcompensated?

But let's not harp TOO much on her unsavory personality: how about we concentrate on the uselessness? The caller, whose credentials the interns in the basement apparently failed to verify, regales her on a live MSNBC broadcast with his "eyewitness account" of the Ukrainian plane shooting incident: "It appeeeears," he says, sounding every inch the military expert, "that the plane was shot down by a blast of wind from Howard Stern's ass."

She is clearly not listening, as she asks a follow-up question of sorts:

"So it would appear that the plane was shot down... can you tell us anything more from your military training, what sort of missile system that may have been coming from?"

If you've ever apprenticed in or studied journalism in any way, shape, or form, this is (or used to be, or damn well should be) the first thing you're told: LISTEN! Sure, on TV you've got all the responses recorded, but how are you going to ask the best follow-up questions if you're tuning out everything the interviewee says?

The prankster conveys this more succinctly, god bless him:

"Well, you're a dumbass, aren't you?"

It finally vaguely dawns on her, as though through a thick haze of California smog, that things haven't quite gone according to protocol: "I'm sorry, sir? ... All right, we're going to take a quick break and we'll be back with all the latest next."

The latest what? The latest vetting mistake from your interns who can afford not to be paid at 20 years of age? The latest interview you're going to eyebrow-pluckedly sleep your way through until someone blatantly calls the fact that you aren't paying attention to your job?

Somebody call me when meritocracy is finally invented.

For the moment, dear citizen journalists: You know what you need to do to tell a story? You need to find out the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Then tell us, clearly. There. You are now a better journalist than anyone on television.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Brain health vs. reality

The problem with being open to new information and trying to figure out what's really going on and engaging with reality and whatnot is that the lack of righteousness-related rewards to the brain coupled with the crappy nature of reality is really quite depressing.

As is the Internet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Fur Coats: Musicians are as Fucked as We Are

I'm going to make an educated guess: if you're reading this blog, you probably read a lot, since you're reading even the ghetto-looking blogs that are tucked into the corners where Google barely deigns to tread. So my second wild guess, voracious reader, is that the chances are good that you write things.

Or maybe you've given up on writing things, or you have very, very murderously given up on writing things, because you figured out too long ago that you're always going to have a day job as well, so you might as well just play video games or read or go to the bar after you get home. The statistics alone hate you: even if you were living in a dream world where only one in a million people wanted to write a book—if only!—that would still mean you'd have 7,000 people to compete with for roughly a hundred slots in the public consciousness, if we're being really generous to the public consciousness. And 90 of those slots are already reserved for rich and famous people's children, and 5 of the remaining slots are predestined for token "gritty" people who still grew up in NYC. And how many writers from our time will be remembered on an immortal scale? Can you name ten playwright contemporaries of William Shakespeare?

Only a mutated mongrel breed of idiot masochist refuses to give up on this stupid venture. And even if you haven't given up, you're probably still bitter about your day job.

Well, not that this is supposed to make you feel better, but indeed there is some perspective and perhaps camaraderie to be found in this fact: We're not alone. Musicians, also, are pretty fucked.

Take Marc Ruvolo, currently of the ridiculous and beautiful Chicago band The Fur Coats. Not that any punk rocker who isn't on antipsychotics seriously thinks he's going to get famous, but Marc Ruvolo has been in punk bands since the beginning of time, and he's still looking for a day job as we speak. And I am anti-that. I don't care if not suffering through the sludge will detract from his "material"; Ruvolo's even older than I am and I've got more than enough shitty material, thanks. I think I'd like some classy material now.

His last day job was owning the Bucket 'o' Blood books horror fiction store, which, incidentally, was the ONLY VENUE IN CHICAGO that had the balls to give me a reading when my novel NVSQVAM came out in 2011. (Quimby's quit being "edgy" in about 2003, and now will only admit weirdos if they're grandfathered in.) When I asked for the reading and then met him, I about self-defecated when I realized who I was talking to: the lead singer from No Empathy.

It was all I could do not to gurgle in his face: "DUDE, SHOULDN'T YOU BE DEAD?"

No Empathy began in freaking 1983. I was ordering records from Johann's Face Records, Ruvolo's other hopeless business, before I was old enough to buy beer. I've been drinking beer long enough to be bored of it! (And he's been drinking beer long enough to be dead of it ten times over.)

Can't say I'm bored by Ruvolo's continuing to rock his ass off, however. I know, punk rock is used up and over and three chords and, and, you know what? You're kind of an unimaginative shit. There's something about that bashing, trashy beat that never gets old, as long as you keep not giving a good goddamn about what people think of you, and you keep writing amusing fuckitall lyrics like:

"Please accept my apology for barfing in your car / I probably didn't need those last shots .... I went into the bathroom / Looked in the mirror / and saw myself for what I really am: / Goddamn! Goddamn! Goddamn I'm a handsome man!"

That's from the Fur Coats's new album, The League of Extraordinary Octopuses. If you're not amused maybe you have to hear the chords: When the narrator "Looked in the mirror" and saw himself for what he really was, the guitar goes for a serious, emo progression ... and then when he kinda says "bah!" to the idea of introspection, the music bounces back into goofy pop punk. Ruvolo has been doing this forever, as I said, and he's really, really good at using and abusing the subtleties of every single trope. Yes, I said punk rock had subtleties. Or rather, it can. Think of Mickey Rourke's acting. There are little winks and blinks inside his thrashing around, little extra plates he's juggling that a kid trying to just thrash around in imitation of him would never give you.

Last year Marc quit running the bookstore. It was great being able to buy sic-fi from his well curated stock, but I understand; I can't imagine all the bullshit that must go on when you stand there trying to sell stuff in Logan Square all day (I love you, punk rock, but you pick up righteous freeloaders like a Swiffer for dirtbags). He sold the store last summer, took off on tour, and came back to... I dunno, maybe he'll finally make enough money selling records to NOT go back in the cube this time. It would destroy the thesis of this post, but believe me, "it" is more than welcome to prove me wrong.

"Raise your tiny fist and take a poke at the world," as Ruvolo says in the song I remember pogoing my ass off to last year before the album came out. If you're a kid wondering what Gen X ever saw in that punk rock stuff, try starting with the Fur Coats. I'm not saying I don't like rawk with synthesizers—lots of good punk rock has synths, come to think of it—I'm just saying, if you're good enough, you can sometimes get away without a lot of frills. Oh, and kindly stuff that auto tune thing up your fundament.

(Note: Marc also does art, like the nonplussed octopus on the T-shirt he made to support The League of Extraordinary Octopuses. I got one, because I'm a better person than you are, and also I am good at spending money wisely: it's 15 bucks BUT the fine print sez you get a download of the album thrown in! I guess that's the way of the world now: to get people to buy your actual album you have to throw it in as a side perk of buying the fashion merch.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

I may live to regret saying this...

... but if you want to annoy yourself with another example of screaming mommy privilege, friend me on Facebook. This thread captures all of breeder entitlement's greatest hits, leaping in a single bound from calling people conservatives to calling them Nazis to refusing to continue the conversation because someone else JUST WON'T ADMIT THEY'RE WRONG... and then I get invited to don a burqa and die, which is actually kind of original.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fun stuff, part 1

Just finished an interview with Andy Nowicki, author of The Doctor and the Heretic and Other Stories, available from my publishing empire NOW in the form of a Kindle ebook, print paperback to come within 24 hours... glee!

Got a bit of a breather in the schedule now, which I hope to use for a review of Marc Ruvolo's latest album with The Fur Coats... look for it here in the next couple of days. And check out Andy's book...

Friday, July 4, 2014

Great news from my publishing empire!!!

In just a couple of days, you can buy a nicely priced reprint of Andy Nowicki's THE DOCTOR AND THE HERETIC AND OTHER STORIES from my pirate imprint, Hopeless Books Uninc.!

I'm as excited as a White House lawyer in a missile silo full of cheap poontang.