the matrix

It occurred to me a week or two ago that I’d never actually seen The Matrix. I love the Wachowskis, but that’s from their Netflix Sense8 series, which carried wonderful messages about commonality, understanding, love and kindness.

The Matrix was something I hated by proxy. When it came out, I had to listen to way too many dudebros (including one particularly obnoxious one named Jeff) who went on and on and on about the core concept of living in a non-existent reality, and as a result, I went, well, I’m not watching that. It’s like you people have never read any science fiction before – or read fucking Alice In Wonderland. Heard of Plato.

Every single one of them wanted to be Neo, to feed that Messiah complex, that only they and they alone were special, they and a handful of others, and they most special of all. Oh, and they get the girl in latex with the nice you-know-whats who’s kind of a badass (but still, submissive to them).

Anyway, somehow, after that initial decision not to go watch it fifty times in the theatre with the rest of the dudebros, I somehow avoided it for the next twenty-four years.

I finally watched it, and as a sci-fi action, it’s okay, though the effects are a little cheesy in the nowadays. If you want good hard action, John Wick and Atomic Blonde are better options. The plot holes and things that didn’t make sense were a bit much. You want to break free of the predetermined role, get out into the Matrix, where you’re immediately called “the One” and put on a pre-determined path? How does that break you free of determinism? Of “Fate”?

The religious aspects are a bit much for me. Anyway, cheesecake popcorn filler, as far as I’m concerned, thus validating my dismissal of all the dudebros who’ve never bothered to pick up a Philip K. Dick novel or actually read Lewis Carroll. If The Matrix blew your mind, I bet you also believed that the Fast & Furious movies have plots, or that Moulin Rouge was actual art, and not just pretentious drivel trying to disguise itself as cleverness.

Thus ends Misanthrope Monday and its first genuine rant.

Target: 1200 words
Written: 3033 words, comic: Bike #1

blockbusters 2

I’m going to eat a little crow. We watched Top Gun: Maverick last night and while not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, utterly formulaic. I could predict what was going to happen ten moves before it even thought about happening.

I heard someone refer to it as middle-aged man porn. As a middle-aged man, but not one who gives a flying fuck about all the hoo-rah military bullshit, I agree.

You can practically see a bunch of overweight militia cosplayers grabbing their nuts and tiny little penises and roaring, with one hand held up in a fist, before furiously masturbating to the sound of jet engines and snappy military radio talk. I’m sure they followed that up by logging onto Truth Social and ranting about Muslims, women and queers, before checking their AR-16 collection is still intact (you know, for home security).

We rewatched the first one last year and I found it one of worst examples of toxic masculinity I’ve seen in a film. This is a movie for man-children, same as the Fast & Furious movies. No depth, no intelligence, just that false sheen of cocksuredness, and the ridiculous nut flex of some seriously over-the-hill men who can’t let go of the idea that might is right.

Target: 1100 words
Written: 1128 words, novella: The Mungk


I know it’s not cool for me to say as a grown-up grunge, punk and alternative kid, but I love a good blockbuster.

The thing is, to me, sneering at the popular is only useful as long as the popular is actual tripe. The fact of something’s popularity is absolutely no indicator of quality, but it’s also not entirely a reliable indicator of a lack thereof either.

Breathing is popular, and I think there’d be few people who believe breathing is bad. Chocolate – popular. Fucking wonderful.

There are great bands, great movies, great games and shows and books that are wonderful. The Shining is a huge selling book – and it was amazing. I love a good Marvel movie.

The fact is, it doesn’t have be high art. It can follow the hero’s journey or a standard plot. The trick is to do it well, don’t pander too much and take the time to develop the characters and situations.

Not all popular things are bad, and not all unpopular things are instantly cool. Sometimes, they’re unpopular for a reason.

Anyway, I liked Avatar: The Way Of Water, same as the original, and even though I understand James Cameron is kind of a prick, I, for one, really appreciate his environmentalism, and his willingness to think big.

Anyway, if that makes me uncool, so be it. I also like Local H, Lou Reed and Modest Mouse. I read obscure indy comics and classics by Jules Verne and Farley Mowat. I think stoicism is cool. Elizabeth Bear.

I’ve heard just about every Who and Rolling Stones song a hundred times. Same for the Beatles. Same for Nirvana, Green Day, NOFX and Bad Religion. The Hip are my religion, right next to Taoism.

My point is, limiting oneself by how popular or “cool” something is is limiting how you see it, leaving you judging it through the lens of what’s being told to you about, instead of its actual value. Ignore the size of the thing; try and enjoy it for what it is. If it’s shit, it will let you know.

Target: 1100 words
Written: 503 words, novella: The Mungk

lost in space

There are certain shows and stories that, for whatever reason, hit me so hard that the endorphin spot in my brain explodes in a shower of “holy shit”.

Lost In Space, the Netflix version, did that for me. I felt like the writers really understand the concept of put your characters in danger and keep them there. The tension was palpable, right from the start. The magnetized aliens, Penny and Dr. Smith in the box, Judy in the water, it goes on and on. Terrifically done.

One of the best series I’ve seen in this new “golden age” of television. Beginning to end. Great characterization, well done weaving all the threads together, good mix of tension, humour and conflict.

I like when a story really sucks me in. Like the way you can feel the Alabama sticky in Jasons Aaron and Latour’s Southern Bastards or the chill vibe of Dazed And Confused. There’s a reason I don’t limit myself to certain genres. It’s all about experience and empathy, and that can be found in stories about elves or stories about football. It can live in a love story or a revenge kick.

Creating closer connections and greater understanding (or at least, having a good time trying) is the whole point of art. Exploration. Understanding. Joy in the thing, even if it’s insanely dark.

As always, the day I decide to up my target is the day I miss it. I hope I’m retired in twenty years so these ever increasing targets don’t grow out of my reach.

Target: 1100 words
Written: 764 words, novella: The Mungk

three little birds

Music plays a big role in synchronicity in my life. The right song at the right time – like Bjork’s Undo yesterday when I was on the verge of a meltdown, or Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds this morning when I’m overwhelmed with all the things I have yet to do today – can be life-altering.

There’s a reason I like to build playlists around the things I write – the connection to the song allows me to understand my characters and their circumstances in greater depth, or even ridiculousness. It lightens the mood (or deepens it, depending).

I think I missed a calling creating soundtracks for movies, or as a director. Tough to say. I’m not sure I can deal with the Hollywood machines. As much as I might enjoy the art industry, it’s populated with some ridiculous individuals, and in my growing age, I’m finding myself far less tolerant of other people’s bullshit.

Politics and art may have to do without me. Perhaps I can carve my own niche and ignore them all.

Target: 700 words
Written: 538 words, novella: The Mungk


Criticism is weird here. I’ve long maintained that in any forum I might run, I would not censor, but as I see the way free speech is manipulated by those who would use it to sow dissent and spread misinformation, I start to see some value in minimizing voices that would lie or demean.

Free speech, after all, isn’t total and doesn’t free anyone of consequences. That’s the part these right wingers forget: you can say what you want, sure, but that’s as far as the right goes. It doesn’t mean anyone has to listen, and it doesn’t mean they need to provide you with a platform, or that there won’t be consequences for the things you say.

On the other hand, I find the left-leaning outrage machine can often create its own chilling effect. Those in defense of a cause can often fail to see nuance or see offense where none is intended and dog pile on. That can make many people unwilling to engage or say anything, which is the same as speech suppression. In all things, we should endeavour to listen first and react only after we’ve taken the full picture into account.

A good example to me is Tomb Raider. The Angelina Jolie movies weren’t great movies, definitely a product of the late 90s, early 2000s “extreme”, but to me, the character was played far more true than the 2018 version. However, any criticism of the 2018 movie, no matter how poor, went out of its way to praise Alicia Vikander, who played the character well, I suppose. The problem was that the character wasn’t Lara Croft. Lara is independent, confident, a daredevil. She doesn’t whimper or cower in the face of adversity. She is intelligent and skilled.

Vikander’s version spends most of the movie behaving like a scared rabbit. She’s lacking in skill and other than a penchant for solving puzzles, she doesn’t demonstrate anything more than mildly above average intelligence. She plays the role like she’s in a horror movie, as though we’d transported some 1970s final girl into an Indiana Jones movie. The movie itself isn’t that bad, and Vikander’s performance is solid for what it is.

The problem is that it has no connection to the character she’s intended to portray, beyond some hamfisted plot insertions and name drops. The movie itself actually suffers from being given the Tomb Raider name; had it kept the plot and been stripped of Croft family, it might actually have played quite well. But because the inevitable comparison to the source material and the already well defined version by Jolie, all we get is a Lara Croft stripped of strength, wit and courage. She’s not a badass; she’s a wimp who gets very, very lucky.

Of course, any and all criticism of Vikander’s portrayal movie was chalked up to misogyny, as though all we wanted was some Pamela Anderson-busted chick in hotpants. And truly, there were undoubtedly people whose only real complaint was that Lara Croft had been stripped of her most noticeable asset(s). Fuck those people. To me, that’s a problem easily overcome by a strong performance and a good script.

The much bigger and far less misogynist problem is that they didn’t just drop Lara’s most prominent (again, easily ignored by a strong performance) physical attribute. They also stripped her of intelligence, courage, confidence, wit and the self-assured and almost playful sense of rebellious independence fans of the character have come to know. It felt like a watered down rehash of Evie in V For Vendetta, but with none of the redemptive emergence of strength. And again, if the character being played had not been Lara Croft, it’s a performance to be praised, for a character developed entirely on her own without the stigma of prior history. You wouldn’t play Romeo as a dude too aloof to get caught up by some girl; you don’t play a rebellious, tomb raiding daredevil as a simpering little girl being pushed around by men. It would be acceptable if it were being played as an early, unmolded version of the character; in that case though, we should see flashes of the woman she would become. This feels like a totally different person, matched in name alone.

The reviews for the movie naturally fell into two camps: those of the beta cuck boys stuck in their basement lamenting over the fact that Lara doesn’t look like a porn star (which is what they really want – someone to ogle through some action shots) and those who wanted to pan the whole damn thing but were so worried about being labelled misogynist for disliking Vikander’s portrayal that they went overboard the other way to cover their tracks, panning everything but her. (See also Ghostbusters: Answer The Call, which is a completely run-of-the-mill comedy, not special, not terrible, had its moments, but if you read the favourable reviews, it was the single greatest female-led comedy of all time and anyone who said otherwise was a woman hating monster).

Shrug. To me, the endgame should be getting away from the outrage machine and the talking out my ass/lying and twisting things to suit my narrative regime. Both are chilling and discourage quality conversation.

To me, praise and criticism are earned, not automatic. Praise should be garnered for what you did well; criticism is an opportunity to re-evaluate. If you did something truly horrible, well, you’re going to suffer through some shit. Your best bet is to try and understand why, learn what you can from it and move the fuck on.

Target: 700 words
Written: 873 words, novella: The Mungk

pounding heart

It’s too much. All the extras. The work stuff. The family stuff. The internal existential crisis stuff.

All I wanted to do was write and read. Have some peace and fucking quiet. Some good music. A couple of beers or a nice glass of wine, maybe an old fashioned, done up right.

I want time alone with my family, relaxing. I want Saturdays around the pool and Sundays at the theatre.

I want quiet mornings. I want a workday that ends at a particular time, not “you’re salaried, so whenever”.

Every morning, I wake with palpitations. Every. Single. Morning.

I have so much left to do, but at this rate, they’re going to kill me first.

Target: 500 words
Written: 721 words, novella: The Mungk

perfect casting

I don’t know why, but it occurs to me that sometimes, casting is everything, and the right face in the right place at the right time can mean everything.

See Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod or Milla Jovovich as Leeloo in The Fifth Element, Johnny Depp as either Captain Jack Sparrow or Hunter S. Thompson or Lori Petty as Tank Girl. Bruce Campbell as Elvis in Bubba Ho-Tep – which if you haven’t seen, is fucking brilliant. B-movie transcendence. Ozzie Davis is wonderful as well. The casting director for Gotham deserved an award.

The movie doesn’t even have to be great; sometimes, a perfect performance by a perfectly casted performer is enough to hold our attention rapt.

I often picture the stories I write translated into film or television, and wonder who might be absolute perfection. Sometimes, I wonder if I was meant to write films, not books. TV, not comics. Maybe both.

Target: 500 words
Written: 417 words, novella: The Mungk


So tired. Did it to myself again. Too much food. Too much drink. Too busy. Stayed out late watching Dr. Strange (loved it, by the way. Loved the little Raimi touches).

On the plus side, I’m way ahead of schedule on the Mungk. This draft is going very quickly, and though I’m spending smaller swaths of daylight (and nightlight) writing, it’s coming together quite nicely. I’m sure there will be more touch-ups, but if everything stays on track, I might be ready to release this bad boy into the wild by the time we go see Cursed Child at the end of June. Or not.

Bully for me. I could still use sleep.

Target: 500 words
Written: 2296 words, novella: The Mungk

i’m too old for this shit

No one seems to know what I’m referencing when I say this anymore. Apparently, with the discovery that Mel Gibson is a bigoted asshole, my generation has forgotten all about Lethal Weapon, and the younger generation has decided it’s not worth it.

Fair enough. I do still love Danny Glover. Who wouldn’t?

But seriously. I had to climb a two story ladder today and really, fuck that. I don’t really have a fear of heights (not being able to move is my bugaboo), but I am overweight and wear slippery shoes. Plus, it’s well over thirty degrees Celsius and I’m a sweater. Sweaty hands and metal rungs do not friendly bedfellows make.

I’m definitely too old for this shit.

(cue toilet explosion)

Target: 500 words
Written: 365 words, novella: The Mungk