Astro-Zombies

I gotta post something to bump my last post, since it has a song in my head that I’d rather not be experiencing right now.  Different people have different “palate cleansing” songs.  My bf’s mom uses Ode to Joy.  I’ve found Astro-Zombies by The Misfits is pretty good for me, but not 100% effective.  I think the more familiar I am with the earworm du jour, the easier it is to come right back.  This most recent one I haven’t heard in literal decades, but back when it was new?  Probably listened to it dozens of times.

What do you use to help dislodge and unwelcome song from your brainpiece?

GodDAMMIT Dreampost

Content Warnings:  Suicide, Vomit, Drowning, Trump

 

Picture this.  It’s a medium overcast day on a shore somewhere in New Jersey or New York, with a view of the city skyline in the background.  Maybe it’s a slightly woolly golf course or a nature reserve of some kind but it looks like The Mere of Dead Men from Lord of the Rings.

Trump has called a strange press conference with few people present, and it is being filmed from a high angle – a helicopter perhaps.  But something is wrong.

The people above the water are frantic, trying to help or trying to flee.  Below the water’s surface, a few senatorial looking men in suits are clearly already dead.  Trump himself is eight feet deep, chugging from a whiskey bottle.  He lets it go and a cloud of yellow vomit puffs out of his mouth before he stops moving.

Having been filmed live, even if news channels have hesitation to show the footage, Trump’s moment has close-cropped animated gifs popping up all over the internet.  People are bewildered but kind of euphoric, some are celebrating.  Hey, I don’t live in Kansas.

I can’t believe it, though I want to.  I run here and there, test the boundaries of reality, slap my face, ask everyone I see, look at every TV or computer screen.  Everything is telling me it’s real.

Before I fell asleep last night I started coughing, so I put in a cough drop.  I had woken up briefly some time before dawn and not knowing what to do with the dregs of the drop in my mouth, I pressed it between my right ring finger and pinky.  The flesh was sticky there, which I noted and also conspired to make me believe I was awake, that it was real.

When I finally did wake up, well, you know what world you live in.  My fingers were sticky from the cough drop.  That piece of shit-ler is still alive somewhere.

But man, for one shining, drawn-out moment in my heart…

 

 

Stand Out as a Writer

The last few years I’ve been exposed to a lot more amateur writing than I have since college (over fifteen years ago).  I’m seeing common mistakes, and if the larger pool of amateurs age 20-40 are anything like these kids, might be that a huge amount of your competition for getting published is likewise disadvantaged.  What are they doing wrong?  They avoid writing the highest moments of tension and conflict.

Their plots might have a central conflict, sometimes a person may confront somebody else, a person may take some sort of action, but anything that would make a scene genuinely tense or the outcome of a conflict at all uncertain?  They’re afraid to write it.  They write circles around it but never show it.  I imagine it’s because those moments are emotionally uncomfortable and they’re too timid to face those emotions.

An example:  A story is present tense and begins with a person riding a bus to see her ailing mother.  She sees a lake and remembers her childhood there.  The story cuts to her at a rest stop recovering from barfing.  Why did she barf?  Now the present tense story has her remembering that – on this very bus ride – she got a call that her mother died.  Not only did the author avoid writing an emotionally intense moment, they had to do a time skip in a present tense story.  It felt very weird.  They didn’t even write about the moment of barfing, like that would have been too much.  We start a bus ride, reminisce, then cut back to the present and have skipped the only emotionally significant event in the story and its fallout.

Another example:  A story begins with the hero tending bar.  Some guys come in, connected with her shady past, and start bullying her.  Will she slip up and reveal who she is, starting a gun fight?  No, her boss makes an excuse for her and she bails.  Now as she leaves, she’s remembering a time in her shady past when collateral damage from a shootout led to her arguing with her squad and going solo.  Cool, but what’s more tense?  Bawling out your boss for bad tactics, or the shootout itself, where innocent bystanders died at the barrel of your own gun?

OK, but there’s two moments of tension in example two – the bullying and the boss-bawling, right?  No.  Both conflicts were fully one-sided.  There was never a question she’d submit to the bullying.  It was her plan from the first minute – didn’t want to reveal herself.  And when she’s yelling at her boss, self-righteously barking and waving a gun in his face?  He’s just solemnly kneeling there, saying “I know, I suck.”  If there’s an argument, if there’s a fight, if there’s any moment that would be made more exciting by uncertainty, it’s avoided.

And of course the most exciting event mentioned in the story went wholly undescribed – the shootout that precipitated her rebellion and desertion.  If you’re thinking back to a traumatic event in your life like a car crash or fight, do you remember the traumatic moment, or what the paramedics said afterward?  Scratch that – you might remember the paramedics more strongly.  But what would make for a more exciting story?  Would Return of the Jedi be better if they skipped Vader dying and Luke just said it happened after the fact, at the ewok party?

Part of this is a lack of confidence as an author, one can surmise, but another part might come from the conventions of fanfic.  If somebody wants to write around the canon, they aren’t making the key events themselves happen.  They only write interstitial moments.  Between this scene and that from an episode of Muscular Monster Hunting Bros, these guys totally held hands.  That’s what they’re writing.

It sometimes feels like hand-holding would be more emotionally heavy duty than these kids can handle.  So if you want to stand out from maybe half the young writers out there?  Simply make things happen in your story and actually describe them happening.  You just might clear the slush pile from a reader’s sense of relief at witnessing that lost bit of courage from days of yore.

Dreampost – Way of the Samurai

Random stuff from my dreams this morning.  My artist friends had been complaining about this supervillain guy stealing their stuff and corrupting their files.  I think he was called The Spoiler or The Leech (yes I know there are comic book characters with those names) and he was a fit but smallish guy in a yellow outfit.  I had an art job to do for my brother and his wife who had a Japanese / Polynesian -themed  webcomic (not real).  The Spoiler messed up my files and we got in a fight.

He was very wimpy.  I beat him extremely badly.  In my mind I was trying to teach him a lesson with pain, not necessarily cripple him for life.  I left him on the landing of stairs outside my apartment.  Later I overheard some neighbor ladies talking shit about him and one randomly mentioned he’s only eight years old.  Yes, he has the body of an adult, but is actually a child.  I’m like WTF I wouldn’t have done that if I’d known.

I go to check on him.  Somebody had dragged him down the stairs and left him by the bushes like garbage they wanted out of their way but wasn’t their responsibility.  He was paralyzed in a position like imitating a dead cockroach, green foam around his mouth, but his eyes worked and he looked at me as I approached.  I said I’d go call an ambulance.

Back in my apartment the dream suddenly became hyper-detailed and realistic as if I was awake.  Two young ladies (blonde, one with short hair, not too glamorous) were there talking about their D&D game and how they were waiting for the DM to get back.  I was like, BS, this is a dream, I’m not your Dungeon Master.  There were cupcakes on the table and I tried one, to test the dream.  Tasted a bit bland but like a fairly convincing coffee buttercream.

I had to go back outside and there was a handsome nine foot tall black guy with a twelve foot long samurai sword.  He was unnaturally tall but realistically proportioned, wrapped up in voluminous blue robes like Marvel’s “Cloak” or a mysterious Mœbius comic character.  I knew he was there to chop off my head.

He went to do it but I interrupted him like, no man, don’t.  This is a dream and I know that, but it’s all realistic and I don’t want to experience what it’s like to be decapitated.  He was disappointed and tried to convince me to accept my fate.  I ran up onto the apartment stairwell.  He was like, “Where are you going?,” and I was like, “In here were you can’t swing that big sword.”

To prove a point he went past me into the stairwell (I backed down into the parking lot) and started rushing up and down the stairs unnaturally fast, waving the sword.  The stairwell began to slide endlessly down in place, an infinite supply of stairwell replacing it so he never ran out of stairs to use for his display.  I took the opportunity to force myself to wake up.  Wasn’t very easy, wasn’t terribly hard.

Sometimes when I first wake up I feel so comfortable and free from pain that it’s tempting to lay in bed forever.  This was one of those mornings, which makes me wonder if that painlessness is tied to some specific stage of sleep being interrupted.  Also at some point in the dream DL Hughley was being very upset that these guys filming a college commercial thought he should go back to school to learn how to polish his podcast.

No Win

Content Warning: Despairing Rhetoric re: Politics, COVID, Environmentalism.

Fighting antivax beliefs, and indeed reactionary thought as a whole, feels like dealing with an insurgency.  There is just no good solution at this point.  (Government crackdown on facebook’s fascist bullshit algorithms in 2015 might have helped, but there’s no political will to make that happen even now.)  You’ll never win the hearts and minds of people deluded into feeling like brave defenders of an invaded homeland, any effort to force compliance will just lead to more terrorist reprisal.  We’ve already had a taste of that, in destruction of medicine, in obstruction of vax sites, and in many cases of physical assault all across the country.

Given all that, how does one adjust to this new world of biological gods and ideological monsters?  Knowing what endemic COVID looks like will be a good start for that discussion.  Funny to think if I live to my seventies or nineties I could be killed slowly and painfully, asphyxiated and brain damaged by a disease that could have been strangled in its infancy two years ago.  By funny, I mean all rethuglican fucks please eat shit and die ASAP, it’s the least you can do for us.

No, no, Satan.  Calm down.  These are human beings, this is humanity.  The same humanity that supports Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro, that has LGBT Jamaicans assaulted every day, living in vacant lots and scrounging garbage to eat, that packs megachurch pews to fund murderous hate around the globe, that scapegoats anybody and everybody to pursue short-term political and financial gain while ensuring the extinction of your species.  You have no choice but to live with these people, or to die.  They are here to stay, for as long as humanity continues to exist.

I don’t know.  We can just keep having these conversations, every day until we die.  Very tiring.

 

 

“You Can’t Hear Me Knocking” Sucks

You know that song by the Stones where on the chorus it sounds like Mick is shouting “Gimme nummy-nummies!”  I always forget the majority of that song’s runtime sounds like worse Santana.  Like instrumentally a very generic Santana song, but with half the guitar presence.  Strange call, guys.  I guess sometimes you don’t have an idea for where to go with your song and got an LP to fill.  “You Can’t Hear Me Knocking” sucks.

Lately the first five hours or so of my Fridays are spent drifting in and out of consciousness listening to music and recovering from general sleep deprivation and stress.  Not a bad time but easy to feel guilty about it, heh.  Happy Friday binches!

The Moment Passed

I was perusing an artifact from about thirteen, fourteen years ago?  A strange work of art made in collaboration with another guy while we were working a job that gave us time to do things with our hands.  There’s a kind of intensity to it that boggles my mind – so much work went into this thing, so much creativity.  Makes me wonder – was that it?  The apex of my life, from which all else is downhill?  If so, that was a rather shameful waste of an entire human existence.  It is fundamentally not good.

Well, another year is dawning soon, and with that another opportunity to prove to myself that I can still make good stuff happen.  2022, Hell save us.

If You Hail Satan, Come Correct

Woof.  I wanted to like The Satanic Temple and Lucien Greaves, but I randomly came across the real scoop on what low-down fash-friendly piles of shit they really are.  Representing myself as satanic, I feel the need to address this, and while I’m at it, help fix some of the harm they are doing in the world.

To start with, I need to make clear that I do not believe every member of TST is fascist or a scumbag.  Some just haven’t gotten the facts yet, and some who have feel too invested to acknowledge the truth.  To those of you who are good people, I hope you work things out.

But I also hope you can realize you don’t need TST and can represent Satan in your own ways.  There is absolutely nothing stopping you from walking away from TST en masse and starting your own Satanism.  Maybe it starts small, a facebook group or a twitter account, but it can turn into something just as big and certainly better.

 

Eugenics and Nazi Friendliness

I was ill-informed and had little idea that modern satanists were so cozy with antisemitism and nazism until I fell down this unfortunate rabbit hole.  What in the name of Hell is the point of rejecting Christ only to wallow in the shit ideals of his worst fanboys?

Lucien Greaves has made some half-assed apologies for antisemitic comments made on a radio show in 2003 as that came to light recently, and in the narrow context of that clip one could think of his comments as being more antitheist than antisemitic – he was saying jewish religious belief is his problem and jewish blood is not, in disagreement with the hosts of the radio show he was on.

But broaden that context just a little bit more, and things look much worse.  Why did he not rebuke the whole proceedings when his pals on the show went full sieg heil?  Why didn’t he bail?  Because he knew they were nazis going in, and he was OK with that.

The show itself was the “Might Is Right 24-Hour Radio Special” in honor of a new printing of racist / antisemitic book “Might is Right” – and Greaves (as “Doug Mesner”) was invited because he illustrated the book.  Whatever terms or qualifiers he’s used for it (he had a site called “dysgenics” as late as 2018), Greaves has wholeheartedly endorsed eugenics on many occasions.  As recently as the founding of The Satanic Temple ten years after his appearance on that show, he was willingly associating with and involving the sieg heiling host of that very broadcast.

(Quick aside – the event hosts may or may not have identified as nazis and they didn’t actually say “sieg heil” but I don’t give an earthly shit about distinguishing between flavors of antisemite and the finer points of their ideologies.  Another guest on the show was prominent KKK figure Tom Metzger – in a segment of the show Greaves (Doug Misicko in the transcript) happily participated in.  Y’all are nazis; eat shit and die at your soonest convenience, thanks.)

(Aside Deux – because this is an atheist blog network and the “thought leaders” of modern atheism seem to think some nice guy version of eugenics, as a concept, can be salvaged for good, I should emphasize that ain’t true.  I’m not up to linkspamming support of that point, but feeling tempted to give nazi ideas an inch of your mental bandwidth should give you great pause.)

Anyone who would oppose the hypocrisies and injustices of cultural christianity has to decide for theirself what they will propose in the wake of christianity’s defeat.  Because you’re not going to defeat xtianity at large, of course (only they can do that to themselves lol), but you are going to win some hearts and minds away from the pews and pulpits.  What are you giving them in exchange for what they’ve given up?

For some opposing xtianity is enough, like dictionary atheists who are iconoclasts without a care.  LaVey was in the pitiful thrall of Ayn Rand and his satanic bible owes its soul to her “objectivism.”  His Church of Satan and the satanic movement generally from that point on carried those values of cruelty and greed forward.  This was the movement from which Greaves emerged, only differing in that he was more fully atheistic than his predecessors.  Or maybe just more ableist.  From what I’ve seen, ableism was always his biggest hobbyhorse.

OK, greed as a value does seem to oppose the charity spoken of by Jesus, so satanic, right?  Wrong.  If we were just going to oppose xtianity as described in the bible, maybe.  But I don’t give a fuck about that.  I want to oppose xtianity as it is practiced in my culture, and all the harm it does – most of which is fueled by greed.  If you’re not doing that – fighting for the ability of people to enjoy life, fighting oppression – what’s the fucking point?

In their stances on gay rights and reproductive rights and religious freedom, The Satanic Temple has lured in thousands of progressive people – taken their time and money.  But was this truly deserved?  The organization is rotten at its core for the same reason the gnu atheist movement was: the founders centered ableism, the ability to feel superior to the “stupid” xtians, which is just about the quickest path to eugenics and nazism.

To this day, there are high ups within TST that have a history of consorting with nazi clowns like Mike Cernovich and Milo Yiannapolis.  TST have gone on record as being anti-antifa, and you know what you get when those antis zero out.

 

Reproductive Rights People Hate Them

Just because anti-abortion scumbags have had a great deal of success lately does not mean that the defenders of reproductive health have been failing at their jobs, only that fascists have been achieving horrific victories across the board.  But The Satanic Temple has opted to use that messaging to suck up activist dollars – to claim “We must accept the fact that traditional efforts to protect reproductive rights have failed.”

And what are they doing with the pro-abortion activist dollars?  They’re acting like $cientology in the way they veer between saying they’re a religion and denying that depending on what’s most advantageous in a given financial or legal situation, and not being at all transparent about where the money goes.

 

SLAPP Suit

All these issues and more led some Satanists in my part of the country to rebel, to make public critique of the organization.  The law protects criticism of religious organizations, but they’re still suing for business harm – a business when it suits them, a religion when it doesn’t.  The apostates are just regular people facing tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses they can’t afford.  It’s a SLAPP suit working as intended, and you can see why I might find that something worth fighting against.

Support the Queer Satanic Apostasy.  Help defend them against the SLAPP suit.

 

Full Disclosure:

TST and FtB have both employed the same lawyer in free speech cases, a man who is a strong partisan on that issue, but easy to find very negative articles about.  That lawyer is specifically named as one of the reasons for dissenters leaving TST.  Due to our prior relationship with him, I will not be addressing that one specific issue here and prefer it not be discussed in this space, except to say I understand and very much sympathize with those concerns.

Dreams, Superheroes, Trans Biz

Content Warnings – mild internalized transphobia of the subconscious, pop culture-influenced ableism, boring dream stuff.

I remembered a dream when I woke up this morning, which doesn’t always happen.  I suppose I’d been thinking about TV shows I wasn’t current with as I went to bed last night, including The Flash.  The Flash has spent a lot of time with heavy duty villains making everybody lose hope and mope all season long, which is funny for something that was ostensibly more lighthearted than The Arrow.  Anyway, the most recent plot also has super-gaslighting and super-mental illness stuff going on, say about that what you will, and it influenced my dream.

To streamline the language I’m going to write this as if I’m certain of what happened in the dream, where I am not.  My memory of it is not perfect, but “or maybe this” after every line really kills reading comprehension.  Proceeding thus,

I was waiting for somebody to run an errand and to kill time I was told it was OK to bum around the abandoned insane asylum for ghosts.  I was the Reverse Flash, but not in total arch-nemesis mode, just chilling with the heroes awkwardly, but for the moment I was alone.  The asylum was empty and boring – no “environmental storytelling” to thrill – so I bailed.  The people I was waiting for caught up to me and we went for a stroll through a grotty run-down zoo that had nothing but unhealthy-looking birds.

I was with Cecile and some other random characters from the show and we were getting bad vibes from the birds but trying to ignore it, eating our potato chips.  During the conversation somebody mentioned The Flash having a weird relationship with gender, relating somehow to his superpowers.  A spooky old lady passed by us and we were like, ooh spooky.  We noticed the birds were being cruel to each other – not caring for chicks, squabbling over food, and so on.  The Flash met up with us and said he’d do something about the depressing bird park, and took off again.

Everybody went their separate ways and the dream went to some hapless random guy (also me?) walking the park.  He came to a fake looking cemetery with weirdos in bad samurai costumes, and talking to someone on his phone described them as “Rorouni Kenshin cosplayers.”  Turns out they were spooky Japanese ghosts, causing the park’s bad vibes with their “died-in-a-war” attitude.  They pursue and murder the random guy.

Back to me, el Reverse Flash.  I’m in the filthy bird park and I notice it still has alarming vibes.  I see a spoonbill ignoring its chick, and its bill is malformed into weird grubby strips at the end.  I run into the future because that’s something speed boyz can do on The Flash.  The park is looking nicer, I guess Flash made good on his promise.

The place has more people, more food, but there’s still a crusty edge there.  The Flash had traveled back in time and bought the park and devoted years of his life to offsetting the harm the birds were doing to each other, never knowing it was from the samurai ghosts, and he went insane.  He’d also transitioned and become… the spooky old lady from before.

Now I was the Flash, old ladying around the place and feeding colorful popcorn to my pretties.  Caw caw.