paths of glory

I’ve taken to watching old movies (Stanley Kubrick’s early work) and (an) old TV show (The Adventures Of Superman) and I’ve stumbled upon Paths Of Glory.

I think we’re all more familiar with Kubrick’s bigger works, but Paths Of Glory is, I think, where we first saw how brilliant he could be. I mean, Fear And Desire had hints, but it was amateurish, early stuff, done on the cheap. The Killing and Killer’s Kiss were… okay. Kind of generic noir, to be honest, other than maybe the fight in the mannequins. Heist movie was not his forte; there wasn’t enough philosophy behind it. He disavowed Fear And Desire, but it was my favourite of the pre-Paths Of Glory films.

An exploration of human psychology, even done with clumsy hands, is always interesting. Some of the best movies come from B movies; for sheer entertainment or from sheer gall; the audacity of a movie about aliens or swamp creatures or men with brains on the outside of their heads to really take a swipe at the human condition.

But Paths Of Glory might be one of the best commentaries on war ever depicted in a movie; revolutionary for its time. It’s nothing short of brilliant, and not just because they’ve managed to capture the fact that Kirk and Michael Douglas are the same person.

If you get a chance, watch it; for its time, the scene where they try to take the ant hill is an pulse-pounding depiction of the futility of trench warfare; the disjointed juxtaposition of these trenchmen versus their generals, sipping cognac and throwing parties, is tremendous.

It reminds me of what I always think whenever countries want to go to war and what I would say to any leader who asked.

You first.

Target: 400 words
Written: 277 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: If Chins Could Kill, Confessions Of A B Movie Actor, Bruce Campbell (funny thing, synchronicity, and the overlap of Kubrick and the Evil Dead)
Comics: Chrononauts 1-4
Music: Kick, INXS (one of my all time favourites)

the new dog and thunderstorms

They warned us she didn’t like storms, but the warning was largely that she’d hide under the covers.

Except… she’s under the covers most nights.

During a thunderstorm, she hyper-ventilates and jumps all over us, relentlessly, until we go downstairs.

She was from Texas originally, so my working theory is that she was in a tornado zone, so storms meant basement. The fosters’ bedroom was in the basement, so she just hid under the covers.

But on our second floor… well, that’s just too damn high.

Welcome to two hours of sleep, Empty. Lord knows you didn’t need that.

Target: 400 words
Written: 334 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle Laporte
Comics: Nailbiter Returns 10 (where's my Son of Nailbiter, damn it?)
Music: Kerplunk! Green Day

sorry about that

I know things got a little dark yesterday. Darker than they should after ten days of vacation.

Sometimes, excess food and booze can cause a depressive crash in me. Usually, if I have more than one or two on an evening or weekend, a couple of days later, I can feel the crash. It’s Tuesdays, usually, though Mondays aren’t better. If I do overindulge (or indulge at all in the case of alcohol), I usually feel pretty good by Thursday.

Bodies are weird, and even though I love a good beer, wine or cocktail, I’ve started wondering if I shouldn’t abstain for a while and see what it does for my mood, my motivation levels, my depression and my physical health.

Of course, that would run contrary to my self-destruction, but hey, what can you do?

Hasten the inevitable, probably.

Target: 400 words
Written: 365 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle Laporte
Comics: Nailbiter Returns 6-9
Music: KEROSENE HAT, Cracker (one of my favourite southern alternative albums ever, if not the top dog - fucking brilliant)

back to work

No rest for the weary. No breaks for the forlorn.

No quarter given to the depressed.

Life is a cruel motherfucker. Part of me wonders if I died when I was younger and this was my own personal hell, offering me chance after chance for happiness, but then inflicting such insecurity and depression to fuck them all up.

Life gives us joy only so we know the pain of taking it away (thanks, Kelly).

Life shows us joy so we know what we’re losing.

Target: 400 words
Written: 1030 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle Laporte
Comics: Nailbiter Returns 2-5
Music: Various non-album songs, Tragically Hip (my personal muses)


Well, we did it.

Despite the unending disembarkation syndrome (sea legs in your head), and a head-tattoo-ed right winger wearing a Grunt Style t-shirt with a smoking handgun and the word Aromatherapy on it, we made it home.

(Seriously, who wears a shirt like that on a plane? Or anywhere for that matter. Thanks you making us all wonder the whole trip if you were going to shoot up the joint. I noticed you had a “first trip to Disney” button attached to your backpack. What did you wear to the Magic Kingdom? A tank top that read Child Molester? Seriously though, I thought you neo-Nazi gun nuts hated the mouse right now?)

We are home, and our dogs and cats are ecstatic. I am ecstatic. Too many crowds. Too much togetherness.

I’m ready for a real vacation.

Target: 400 words
Written: 323 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle Laporte
Comics: Nailbiter 28-30, Nailbiter Returns 1
Music: Keepin' The Summer Alive, The Beach Boys (hey, we're back now, seemed apropos)

drinks with rednecks

I think it’s good to share a drink with the enemy sometimes.

See, the thing is that in the media, and particularly in social media, it becomes very, very easy to paint everyone with a particular brush. If you believe the right wingers on social media, all lefties are part of a millions-strong conspiracy to use fake science to push an agenda of… ending pandemics and climate change (it is unclear how we profit from these deceits), while using immigrants as fake voters to protect our ability to do so. Of course, if you listen to most right wing bloggers (and their bots/commenters), lefties are all pedophiles, and somehow, vaccinations and green energy helps with that? I’ve never understood the logic of what they think our motivations are. I’ll guarantee it’s not pedophilia, and there are an awful lot more headlines of right wingers getting busted for that stuff than there are drag queens and other lefty icons (Bill Clinton aside – sorry, Bill, but that’s fucked up and you should go down for it).

On the left, however, we tend to think of right wingers as hateful, uneducated, mindless boors, Nazis slavering over their chance to cleanse the population of all but straight, white males and their subservient women, but the truth is more complicated than that. If all you ever read is left-wing bloggers and newspapers, I’ve got news for you. You’re only seeing the worst of the worst there. If you’ve ever actually spent time with a southerner, for example, you’d know that despite their political views, most of them are pretty genial. They don’t spit racial slurs in the faces of minorities (although they will probably say it behind their back, in couched terms), and the majority of them, split off from the rhetoric, are actually quite nice. Even kind of fun. There’s a good natured, joshing camaraderie that’s a breath of fresh air when compared to the pearl clutching culture of non-offense and victim identity often experienced in my usual left wing circles. Despite the fact that I completely disagree with Trumpism and the politics of bigotry, I do agree with one thing: we’re too fucking precious here on the left.

Being offended is good, if it’s something really, truly to be offended by. But tiptoeing around everyone because we’re afraid of the constant threat of labelling and outrage, of possible cancellation, for even a perceived (not actual) slip? It’s a poor way to live, if only for our own mental health.

I miss the Nineties, when we young, grungy punks opted out, opposing bigotry and authoritarianism while declaring no topics off-limits, no subject too dirty. We all got to be fucked up in our own ways, but if we were being whiny little bitches about it, we got called out. If we weren’t, we got hugs and sympathy.

It’s good to eat shit every once in a while. It’s good to poke a hole in the old ego, the identity, especially if it’s one that disempowers us and makes life miserable for those around us.

Fucking have a drink. Have a laugh. Get off the high horse, and don’t engage the bullshit. Find common ground. Forget the stereotypes and take them as they are – imperfect representations of things that may or may not resemble them.

Because that’s the problem with stereotypes: at some point, you have to do with the actuality of the person or people you’re trying to stereotype. If you can drop the stereotype and find that common ground, all the bullshit goes away, and you can have a pretty decent time. You may not agree on everything; you may vehemently disagree on some things, but if you set the preconceived notions aside…

Well, shit. It’s almost like we’re all human.

Target: 400 words
Written: 227 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: Aesop's Fables
Comics: Nailbiter 24-27
Music: Katy Perry Essentials, Katy Perry (don't judge me, I love the tongue-in-cheek aspect.  I appreciate someone who doesn't take herself too seriously.)

return to the cape

I can’t lose the sea legs. Every time I sit down, my head feels like I’m still on the waves.

I am not looking forward to sleeping.

I am also looking forward to sleeping.

Is that a metaphor for life or what?

Target: 400 words
Written: 247 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle (so, so much to say about this fraud, but again, it's for a book idea)
Comics: Nailbiter 20-23
Music: Karma Police, Radiohead (I mean, these guys... not so much the later, more pretentious stuff, but everything up to OK Computer, right?)


It’s hot here. There is sun and sand and the water is a velvet blue that’s almost unreal.

Naturally, I’m thinking about death.

Well, an afterlife. I don’t believe in religion or God or any of that, though I won’t entirely rule out the possibility of a divine intelligence. I just don’t subscribe to anything specific. For me, anyone who claims to know the mind of God is full of shit; if it’s truly an omnipotent, all-powerful being, then our ability to understand it is equivalent to that of an amoeba grokking cutting edge physics.

Times a million.

Anyone who claims to know otherwise is trying to take your money or control you; that’s it, that’s all.

I know, logically, we decay and separate into atoms which then float out into the world and become part of the fabric of the universe around it (stardust!).

I would like to think our consciousness goes to another place, a new “heaven”, where I get to live out an entire life at each crossroads. Every decision that could have been, how would that have been. Every potential friend, potential lover. Every potential job. What if I took the time to become a botanist, a doctor, a sculptor, a mechanic, a ditch digger, a porn star?

What would it all be like?

Imagine getting to know, really, really know, the people that passed through your life, no matter how minutely. How that girl you saw crying on a bench from the bus window’s life went. What was she crying about? What if you had taken that chance? What if you had made that mistake? What if you did everything right?

You could live an infinite number of lifetimes; the joy isn’t in exploring what would have been different, but in really digging and discovering what was going on around you when it was the same, and how your perspective was coloured by or ignored it. It’s not about the sex you’d have with all those random hot passersby, but taking the time to really understand who they are, what they want, what their past was like, how they think, how they feel and how to connect so completely with them that growing together into something wonderful is inevitable.

It’s about opening up the entire world; in infinity forever. And once you know all you want to know, when you’re done learning, when there’s no more curiosity, then, you can step out the door.

Target: 400 words
Written: 602 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Comics: Nailbiter 16-19
Music: The Karate Kid (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Various (don't ask)

sea day

Why we’re taking a sea day in the Bahamas, when there’s a dozen ports we could easily go to… well, it’s just indicative of Carnival’s greed. Stick us out in the ocean with little to do but drink and gamble and most people will drink and gamble. I’m sure they’d justify it all kinds of different ways, and the cruise has been… okay… to this point.

The shows are cheesy, the lines are long and the cruise director’s Jim-Carrey-through-Alan-Cummings impression is more caricature than connecting, and begs the question, what day is this guy going to off himself? The level of self-loathing is palpable, despite the over-the-top attempt at wacky and upbeat cheerleader.

Seriously. Someone needs to do a wellness check on that guy. It’s not going to end well.

The nickel-and-diming is excessive. It’s quite clear from the moment you get on the boat that Carnival sees you only as a cow to be milked for cash, and nothing else. That’s quite off-putting, and would be somewhat acceptable if the quality of the onboard experience were its equal, but it’s all outdated and falling apart, the staff is, for the most part, pretty disengaged.

There are better cruise lines for sure (Viking’s river cruises are stellar), but so far, it is what we’ve made of it, and we’ve had a fair bit of “making of it”.

Personally, my udders hurt.

Target: 400 words
Written: 224 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Comics: Nailbiter 12-15
Music: Just For College, Radiohead (still, so good)


Bit of a whirlwind trip through Nassau today, but man, beautiful place. Beautiful port – if only they could spread that money out to the rest of the populace. Parts are gentrified, for sure, but the rest is crumbling, like many other Caribbean islands.

I do sometimes wonder if there isn’t a better option than capitalism. Communism, by its own violent history, has shown that it doesn’t really work – any system where there’s concentration of power in the hands of people who benefit from it is guaranteed to corrupt, no matter its other freedoms. Those who crave power will always find a pretext to keep it, even at the cost of other people’s lives and freedom.

I often wonder why the people do not speak with one voice and say, “Enough!”

But then, you meet real people, realize how they’ve been manipulated and deprived of resources, including education and the ability to think bigger and rationally, and you realize… they’ve no focus for their anger, which makes them easier for despots to control.

They are aimed like a weapon, or neutered like a pet.

Target: 400 words
Written: 282 words, novella: The Mungk

Read: The Power Of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Comics: Nailbiter 9-11, Nailbiter-Hack/Slash 1
Music: Just Can't Get Enough New Wave, Various (my jams)