The Curator of Schlock #310: The Black Hole

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The Curator of Schlock #310 by Jeff Shuster

The Black Hole

It’s not the worst thing ever made. 

Have I ever covered a Disney movie on this blog? I don’t remember. I know I’ve screamed about TRON enough times, but didn’t review that one. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing about the loathsome animated Robin Hood, but I can’t bring myself to watch it again. I know there are some of you out who do love that movie. Try watching it when you’re not hopped up on goofballs. Anyway, I needed another science fiction spectacular from the age that followed the release of the original Star Wars so get ready for Disney’s The Black Hole.

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1979’s The Black Hole from director Gary Nelson is not a Star Wars rip off. In fact, I suspect this movie would have reached the silver screen regardless of Star Wars. What we get with this production is a kind of Irwin Allen disaster movie meets 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The movie begins with a sumptuous score from the great John Barry, so at least our ears are in for a treat. And then we lay eyes on the majestic, yet foreboding black hole, a decent special effect considering the production team couldn’t get Industrial Light & Magic to lend a hand.

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And the movie features a great cast of 70s motion picture regulars. We have the crew of the USS Palomino, a spacefaring vessel made up of Captain Dan Holland (Robert Forster), Lieutenant Charlie Pizer (Joseph Bottoms), Dr. Alex Durant (Anthony Perkins), journalist Harry Booth (Ernest Borgnine), Dr. Kate McCrae (Yvette Mimieux), and a robot named Vincent (voiced by Roddy McDowell). They go investigate the USS Cygnus, which had gone missing twenty years earlier. Somehow they ship emits a gravity field that prevents it from getting sucked into the black hole. Don’t ask me how this done. I read that Neil deGrasse Tyson was not too impressed with the science on display in this motion picture.

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The crew of the Palomino boards the Cygnus and is greeted by a scary looking robot named Maximillian, this hulking red giant with a glowing red eye and propellers for hands. Unpleasant robots run the whole ship from robed, silver faced drones to bug-faced soldiers. This is not a good place to be, but the crew needs to repair their ship before they can take off again. The solitary human being on the Cygnus crew is the ship’s captain, Dr. Hans Reinhardt (Maximillian Schell). I get a real Captain Nemo vibe off of this guy. He’s a mad genius who wants to fly the Cygnus through the black hole and see what’s on the other side.

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Captain Holland asks Dr. Schell what happened to the crew, and he says they left the ship a long time ago. Dr. Schell prefers his robots to people anyway. Dr. Durant admires the genius of Dr. Schell, but the rest of the Palomino crew doesn’t trust him. There are some shocking surprises in store, but I’ll let you experience them on your own. The Black Hole is not a perfect movie, but I was awfully impressed by the set design. The Cygnus is a cathedral of death in the middle of space and might be the creepiest spaceship I’ve ever seen. In fact, The Black Hole might be the closest thing to horror movie Disney has ever produced.


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #58: Let’s Not Forget Old City Blues

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #58 by Drew Barth

Let’s Not Forget Old City Blues

Fantastic new graphic novels and comics come out every week—so much coming out that some things end up not being as revered as they should have been. There are graphic novels and comic series still sitting on my shelf that I come back to every few months to remember how good they still are after all these years. One such graphic novel is the first volume of Old City Blues by Giannis Milonogiannis, released in 2011.

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From the outset, Old City Blues wears its influences on its sleeve—Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell most notably. Beginning in the sprawling metropolis of New Athens in 2048, cyborgs are being murdered at random. Solano, a special police division detective, heads up the investigation. Milonogiannis spirals the story into the corporate intrigue, piloted mecha, and the general dystopia of the world he has created. And as familiar as some of these themessound, his direct storytelling and wonderfully kinetic pen and ink art renders Neo Athens bas more than the sum of its influences.

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The example images included in this article are only from the first volume released in 2011 in a larger format hardback. The second volume, released in 2013, was released in a paperback volume closer to the size of a traditional manga. The third volume is still ongoing, but not in print—Milonogiannis has instead moved everything online. From the Old City Blues website, the entire series can be read: volumes one, two, and the still in-progress three.

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As Old City Blues closes in on a decade since its initial release, it is still one of the most relevant comics coming out. From its environmentally dystopian setting to its musings on robotics and personhood to the ways in which the series has adapted to different release formats, Milonogiannis has created a series that will last well into the rest of the century. If there is a series worth remembering, it’s Old City Blues.

Get excited. The future is coming.


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Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #4

The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #4

As transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

19 February 2020

Melania Trump rang. She and I go back a long way—since her modelling days in Milan. We share ways to annoy the extra-sensitive left-wing media. I’m her go-to man for fashion tips (you can blame me for the disastrous African wardrobes) and I even posed her for the famous photo shoot in Max, but not the vulgar one in GQ.

‘Hang on, Mel,’ I said. ‘I’m watching something important on TV.’

 

‘What is more importan than speaking to First Lady of United States?’ the famous voice intoned in her first ever polysyllabic sentence.

‘Which Australian singer makes it to Eurovision Song Contest.’

‘Vincent Bueno.’

‘Australian, not Austrian.’

‘But Australia is not in Europe.’

‘Geographically they’re not, mentally they are.’

‘Which is why they have problem.’ The astute political commentator was definitely breaking new ground with long sentences that night. ‘When they accept they are sixtieth state of the United States they have no problem.’

‘The U.S. has fifty states.’

‘Sixty,’ Melania repeated in a steely voice. ‘Israel, Iraq, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Argentina, Nicaragua—‘

‘I get your point,’ I interrupted. ‘What do you want?’

I put the television on silent, sipped my martini, and waited, one eye on the tele, as a lower class of Australian says.

Things have been testy between Melania and myself since she married the Master of the Combover. I do no approve of him or his children. Far too bargain basement for my tastes. But I accept that, as a devoted wife, Melania’s loyalties lie with her millions. In my opinion, a savvy girl like her could have done better. Putin, for instance, or Lukashenko in Belarus. Even the startlingly beautiful Angela Merkel was after her at one stage.

‘I am rinking to tell you Donal is not getting him peached,’ Melania breathed.

‘Pardon, I didn’t quite catch that.’

Melania’s English is not good at the best of times, and I had a bit to drink.

‘I say, Donal not him peached.’

‘Oh, I see. Donald is not going to be impeached.’

‘Thaz what I say.’

‘He’s been acquitted, has he? That must come as a surprise to no one. Except the Democrats.’

‘Thaz right, Donal is acquittal and I am invite you to celebration party at the Rococo Palace.’

That’s what the Trumps call the White House after the post-Obama combover. I mean makeover.

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‘That’ll be nice,’ I said. ‘I haven’t been to the White… I mean the Rococo Palace since Bill docked cigar with intern.’

‘What about George Bush?’

‘Bill didn’t fuck George Bush with a cigar. Hillary drew the line at that.’

‘Silly. I meant didn’t Bushes invite you to White House.’

Without knowing it, Melania had strayed into a minefield. I needed to scald the old wind pipes with another martini before I answered.

‘George might be hanging out with Ellen Degenerate now, but he didn’t want to be seen with Uranians when he was president,’ I uttered after a good quaff.

A brief silence before Melania said, ’I didn’t know you were from another planetarium.’ Her voice was filled with awe.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. ‘Nein, mein liebchen,’ I said. ‘That’s an old fashioned way of saying homosexual.’

Longer silence this time. ‘I didn’t know you were gay.’

‘I dip my wick in occasionally.’

‘God does not like to see such things,’ Melania intoned, her Catholicism bubbling to the surface.

‘Then he shouldn’t watch.’

Melania laughed. ‘You are so cheeky. What about Obamas? Didn’t they invited you?’

‘The Obamas wouldn’t have a bar of me.’

‘Why not? You are so nice.’

‘I sided with Grace Jones when she said Barack could not be trusted because his eyes were too close together.’

Melania laughed again. No doubt her pen was poised at the other end, ready to note any new and startling revelation. It was all going in her autobiography, Becoming Melania Trump: wife, mother, first lady, fashion icon, inspiration to blue-collar workers everywhere. So I thought I’d give her something to write about.

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‘Besides,’ I added, nonchalant, ‘Michelle won’t let me near her husband.’

‘Why?’

‘Barack and I were an item at Harvard Law School. Grace Jones was right. You can’t trust him. Gave me herpes.’

There was an audible gasp. I could almost hear Melania’s Aurora Diamante Fountain Pen fly over the offical Rococo Palace notepad.

‘Ugh,’ she said when she finished scribbling. ‘Michelle is so creepy. She left traces of her good taste all over the place. It has taken me ages to get rid of it.’

Suddenly, there was an explosion of activity on the television. Glitter flew everywhere.

‘Hold on,’ I said to Melania. ‘I think they’re announcing the Australian entrant to Eurovision.’

I turned up the volume on the TV. My voice was flat when I returned to Melania seconds later.

‘Who won?’ she said.

‘Some blue-haired clown called Montaigne.’

‘Oh, I tried to read his essays once,’ Melania said. ‘They were all me me me. We threw them out with Barack’s other first editions.’

‘All right,’ I said, deflated after the Eurovision announcement and in need of another drink. ‘I’ll see you at the party.’

‘Make sure you come. There’s surprise special guest.’

‘Who?’

‘Nancy Pelosi.’

‘What?’

‘She’s coming to eat humble peach pie in front of everyone. I send Airforce One to collect you.’

‘That’s rather extravagant, isn’t it?’

‘Don’t worry, the American people pay for it.’

And there you have it, reader. A peek behind the scummy plastic shower curtain of current world politics.

Until next we meet. Cheerio!


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The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker and a Greek bear wrestler. Of no fixed abode, he has subsisted in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently hiding out in Melbourne. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and four packets of Dunhill cigarettes a day.

His mortified amanuensis, Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. The fictionalised memoir Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia. He edited the children’s anthology When We Were Young. His new book The Door and other Uncanny Tales will be released in May 2020.

Episode 406: Amy Watkins!

Episode 406 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

This week, I talk to my friend and colleague Amy Watkins about becoming more systematic about submitting work, and about conceiving of book-length projects of poetry.

Amy Watkins

TEXTS DISCUSSED

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NOTES

  • This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

Tree with Shen Te and Shui Ta

The Good Person of Setzuan.

  • If you are in Orlando on February 29, come to the Typewriters and Jazz Write-in from 1-3 PM being held at Jack Kerouac’s old residence (from when On the Road came out).

Episode 406 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

The Curator of Schlock #309: Galaxina

The Curator of Schlock #309 by Jeff Shuster

Galaxina

Is this worse than Casino Royale?

Happy Valentine’s Day. Well, happy Valentine’s Day to everyone else, but me. Beatrice broke up with me about six months ago, complained that I didn’t have a five-year plan. I don’t even know what that means. Maybe I made her watch Howard the Duckone too many times. And I maybe I showed up to our anniversary dinner in a duck costume, but that’s neither here nor there.  Whatever. I’m fine being a bachelor once again…I’m so lonely…

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Hey, don’t worry about it. I’ve got a sexy sci-fi film I’d like to recommend to you tonight and by recommend, I mean the exact opposite of recommend. It’s 1980’s Galaxina from director William Sachs. The first thing I decided to do was check to see if William Sachs was involved with Casino Royale, the disastrous James Bond parody from 1967. He was not, but Galaxina is almost as bad as Casino Royale. Film critic Richard Roeper once said that the most offensive thing a comedy could be is to not be funny.

Galaxina is not funny.

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The main draw of this motion picture is Dorothy Stratton, 1980’s Playboy Playmate of the Year, starring as Galaxina, an intergalactic police android. Dorothy Stratton could have been the Marilyn Monroe of the 1980s, but her life was tragically cut short. I do feel sorry for her and those who had high hopes for her stardom, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give this movie a pass. Anyway, Galaxina makes up one member of the crew of the police spaceship Infinity.  She is joined by the moronic Captain Cornelius Butt (Avery Schreiber), manly Sgt. Thor (Stephen Macht), druggie space cowboy Pvt. Buzz (J.D. Hinton), a Confucius impersonator named Sam (Tad Horino), a bat like creature named Maurice (Lionel Mark Smith), and a rock eating alien named Rock-Eater (voiced by Herb Kaplowitz).

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Rock-Eater says he eats rocks because it’s how he “gets his rocks off.” This joke is told maybe two or three times in this movie. It wasn’t funny the first time. The movie plays itself off like a parody of Star Trek and Star Wars. You get a brothel filled with aliens instead of a cantina. Captain Butts puts a paper bag over the head of one of the bird-faced prostitutes before taking her upstairs. Ha ha? You get a restaurant that has human meat on the menu. The specialty is “chilled lady fingers.” Ha ha. The barkeep has pointy ears and is named Mr. Spot. Ha ha. You get a gang of bikers who worship their god Harley-David-Son. Ha ha.

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Yeah, it’s not funny. I like a good comedy. I’ve probably watched Beverly Hills Cop at least fifty times. You can make a great parody of Star Trek and Star Wars. Galaxy Quest and Spaceballs proved that. Just skip Galaxina. That’s two for two this month. Next week is Disney’s The Black Hole. I could use some cheering up. Disney knows how to deliver those happily ever endings, right?


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #57: The Upshot of Things

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #57 by Drew Barth

The Upshot of Things

In the past few years, the number of new comic publishers has exploded to levels not seen since the 90s. Publishers like Aftershock, Vault, Ahoy, Boom!, Black Mask, and a host of others have changed the landscape of monthly comics. Each publisher has its own unique voice and feel to its stories as well as a distinct image and style their comics on the shelf maintain. Back in 2018, another new studio was founded by former Marvel comics officers Axel Alonso and Bill Jemas. The pair, with Jon Miller, began AWA Studios and from there began the comic publisher Upshot Comics.

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What makes Upshot as a publisher so interesting right now is two things: 1) They haven’t even released a single issue yet and 2) There is already a large selection of their work already out in the world.

Just a few months ago during New York Comic Con, Upshot Now #0 came out, highlighting many of the new stories coming from Upshot across 2020—even including nearly the entire first issue of their flagship book, The Resistance by J. Micheal Straczynski and Mike Deodato, among others. Some of the upcoming releases only had a couple pages, enough to make me want to read that first issue.

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Upshot Now is a statement book—it is black and white newsprint filled with nothing but comics, covers, and that’s it.

When I was first given a copy of this book, I didn’t know what Upshot was and even after finishing, I still wasn’t completely sure since the only explanation was a quick letter from Axel Alonso at the end of the book. That just made me more curious. Where did this publisher come from? Why were they putting out these books? Why were names like J. Michael Straczynski, Margaret Stohl, Garth Ennis, and Benjamin Percy attached to create all new series? The book was a mystery object, but the snapshot of the upcoming comics inside was still solid. Books like The Resistance, Hotell, Year Zero, and Old Haunts don’t look like any other book on monthly shelves and this is before I’m even able to see them all in color.

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There is a distinct brazenness in how mum Upshot Now is about the publisher. They’re letting the comics speak for the company itself. We’re a month out from the first issue of their first series, The Resistance.

Get excited. There’s always something new.


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Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 405: Corwin Moore!

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Episode 405 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

This week, I talk to my friend Corwin Moore, who is a comic and comedy writer.

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Our proposed topic of discussion was the greatness of Richard Pryor, which we cover at length in a conversation that took many turns.

NOTES

  • This episode is sponsored by the excellent people at Scribophile.

Scribophile

TDO Listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

  • If I said that Superman III wasn’t bad, I may have been quite wrong.
  • Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame Cover


Episode 405 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing.)

The Curator of Schlock #308: The Shape of Things to Come

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The Curator of Schlock #308 by Jeff Shuster

H.G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come

Is this a lost TV pilot?

Hey nerds! That sci-fi crap is real big right now. We just wrapped up another Star Wars trilogy, Jean-Luc Picard is back in the saddle, and Doctor Who is as nonsensical as ever. You geeks must be in hog heaven right now. We at the Museum of Schlock are here to please, and this month is filled with some galaxy hopping classics. In other words, we’re showcasing some Star Wars wannabes. Enjoy.

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Tonight’s movie is 1979’s H.G. Wells’ The Shape of Things to Come from director George McCowan. I never read the novel, but I have it on good authority that this is a faithful adaptation. The backdrop for the movie is a colony on the Moon called New Washington. Humans evacuated the Earth after some robots ran amok and caused a massive nuclear war. I’m sure it can all be traced back to that Tony Robbins interview with Sophia the Robot. Anyway, they terraformed the moon and built a knockoff of EPCOT Center. In fact, I think I saw a duplicate of Spaceship Earth through one of the windows of an office building.

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Okay. So there’s a plot here … somewhere. Oh, we have an extra-evil Jack Palance as the villainous Omus, the Robot Master of Delta 3. You know he’s evil because he dons a purple cape. The citizens of New Washington get an anti-radiation drug from the planet, Delta 3, but Omus reprogrammed all of the robots to obey him and booted Nikki (Carol Lynley), the leader of Delta 3, from power. Omus wants robots to take over the moon because they’re better than people or some such nonsense.

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One thing I can’t get over about this motion picture is how cheap everything looks. You Doctor Who fans should feel right at home. All the robots in this movie are boxy and have Slinky arms they wave around menacingly. Some rooms have those swooshing doors like you see on Star Trek, but other rooms have regular doors that swing open. There’s no consistency. I guess most of the budget went to the Starstreak, the interstellar vessel that will carry our heroes to Delta 3 to stop Omus.

Right. Plot. Some would-be heroes decide to take the Starstreak, the moon colony’s defense vessel, to travel to Delta 3 and capture Omus. We’ve got Dr. John Caball, the science advisor to the moon colony, John, his handsome son, and Kim Smedley, the foxy daughter of the moon colony leader, Senator Smedley. Don’t be expecting any romance between John and Kim as there’s no chemistry between them. Dr. Caball does get some radiation poisoning so you get see him writhe in pain every so often, which is more funny to see than it should be.

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Speaking of funny, there’s a robot companion with their group named Sparks. He’s a good Robot who can teleport instantaneously to any place that he needs to be. This prevents the robot from having to walk wherever he needs to go. I’m sure the actor in the suit was happy for that. What else? Omus melts Dr. Caball’s brain with a sparkly disco ball. Oh, and Omus ends up blowing up the entire planet. John, Kim, Nikki, and Sparks manage to escape, but didn’t they basically fail in their mission? Where is the moon colony going to get their anti-radiation drug from? I guess everyone on the moon colony is going to die from radiation poisoning.

Yeah, maybe skip this one.


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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #56: The Comic Nebula

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #56 by Drew Barth

The Comic Nebula

I mentioned last week how Nextwavewas unique due to its theme song, so what can we do with a graphic novel that includes a tiny vinyl record that can accompany a reading? Quite a lot, actually, as John Pham’s J+K has shown us.

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J+K is the most unique graphic novel I have ever seen or read. From its pages, we have the story of Jay and Kay—two friends living together in a world of oddity and spectacular color. But hidden among the book’s covers are the other materials—a full issue of Cool magazine with subscription inserts and a pull-out poster, baseball cards, an ad for the local mall, a poster for the video game Dance Warrior, and a vinyl single for the band Gaseous Nebula. These materials assist in creating a sense of place within the world of J+K, and take this book from a graphic novel to a box of culture from another dimension.

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As an illustrator, Pham utterly disarms throughout J+K’s stylebright, colorful, and the kind of cartoons that recalls Peanutsand Hanna-Barbera. The world Jay and Kay live in mirrors our own in its veneer of simplicity hiding a dimension of emotional, dramatic depth.

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In a world filled with sapient back acne, bookstores with shelves larger than many buildings, and characters whose faces are primarily eggs, there is a sense throughout that feels fantastical until the world comes crashing down upon the reader. J+K is one of the best graphic novels due to how it uses that complete world to build up characters who make us feel their joy, sadness, and nostalgia so effortlessly. Get excited. Build a world.


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Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #3

The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #3

As transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

2 February 2020

Summer time in Melbourne means one thing: Fire!

Oh, all right, it means the Melbourne Open. As it happens I went to the Rod Laver Arena with the former Prince Harry to watch the scrumptious Serena Williams play opposite a child from the country that gave you the coronavirus.

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Now that Harry’s cachet has crumbled, we sat with the great unwashed in the Reserved Seating area. At one point during the game former tennis great Margaret Court stood up in the Corporate Seating area and, apropos of nothing, shouted, Homosexuality is lust for flesh,before storming off to jeers from more former tennis greats, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.

Harry chortled at the madness of it all and went to the toilets to relieve the former royal bladder. He came back minutes later, looking shaken.

Whats the matter?I said.

Nothing,he replied, settling beside me with a sausage roll.

But I could tell he was upset.

Did one of Margarets homosexualists stick his engorged penis through a glory hole in the cubicle wall?I cried, horrified that a blue blood should witness such an outrage against good taste.

No,Harry replied, shaking his head. There was a queue at the gentsso I went to the new gender neutral toilets instead.

I shuddered, fearing the worst. And?

And who do you think was standing next to me at the urinal?’

Im sure I cant guess,I said, picturing all manner of lurid happenings.

Margaret Court.

Margaret Court, the greatest tennis player of all time and now pastor for a Pentecostal church in Perth?I cried yet again. At a urinal?

One and the same,Harry replied.

Harry, youve had too much to drink.’

He had been hitting the grog since leaving behind royal life and becoming a mere mortal, silly lad. Try as I might, I was not able to dissuade him from the absurd decision. It seems Harry is under the thumb of his American cancan dancer or whatever his wife does when she is not destroying the House of Windsor.

Nowhere near as drunk as you, old piss pot,snapped Harry.

But my dear boy,I said, still unable to believe my ears. Margaret Court. Surely youre mistaken.

Apparently shes transitioning.

Transitioning? To what?I yelled yet again. This was all too much for me without the aid of a martini and a Hanky-panky chaser.

Not to what, but to whom.

Harry, dont keep me in suspenders, please?

To Israel Folau.

Well, you could have knocked me down with the pages of Leviticus. I know it is fashionable nowadays to be fluid in all aspects of life, but the idea of a Caucasian sourpuss turning into a dimwitted Tongan ex-rugby player who loves gays so much he condemns them to hellfire was too much even for me.

What about the real Folau?I ventured.

Hes turning into Margaret Court.

Sign of the times!I said, resigned to the malleabilities of the age.

We were saved from further contemplation of Roman perversities by the delicious Serena Williams. Being on friendly terms with Harry’s pole dancer or whatever the gutter snipe does when she is not demolishing palaces, Serena sauntered over to say hello to the man formerly known as Prince. Harry rose to his feet.

Yo, darlin,the goddess cried, looking surprisingly refreshed after her trouncing.

Knowing I am no fan of Harry’s cha-cha girl, Serena did not acknowledge me in the slightest. Nonetheless, I was happy to sit back and bathe in the nearness of the goddesss presence, even if she did lose to the Chinese. The celebrities exchanged pleasantries while standing in front of me—me breathing in Serenas musk and swooning.

Harry asked if Serena enjoyed the Australian summer.

Its tough playing tennis in Melbourne this year,the mighty lady sighed, flinging herself atop me with such force it right near knocked the wind out of me.

You may not be aware of this, but Serena is extra-Rubenesque and I am but a slip of a fellow, subsisting on alcohol and cigarettes. I disappeared entirely beneath the voluptuous avalanche. Content to be thus utilised by the great woman, I kept my peace.

Why is it difficult?asked Harry, trying not to laugh at my predicament.

Theyve got machines pumping smoke onto the courts. Its like uh nightclub out there.

Thats the bush fires,I managed from beneath an allure of flesh. The countrys burning while youre playing ball.

Serena looked around with fake perplexity. Did you hear somethin?’ she said to Harry. Is someone else with us?

Cruel minx!

Harry shrugged, not wanting to ruin my good time. Serena pressed down on me with greater force and added, And I was thrown out of the womens bathroom because they thought I was a panther. Had to use the gender neutral bathrooms and I saw—‘

Margaret Court,jumped in Harry.

That unbeatable old cunt,’ Serena grumbled.

Speaking of which,I said, as Harry’s wife tripped over.

Serena shrieked and leaped off me as if I had jabbed her in the jamboree.

Sorry,’ she said, looking back at me. Didnt know you was there. You blend in with the bleachers.

The pleasures all mine, dear lady,’ I told her.

In the end our gang stayed at the stadium to watch Rod Laver present Margaret Court with a replica of the Australian Open women’s trophy in honor of her vast achievements in hitting a ball over a net. The ‘crazy aunt’, as John McEnroe calls Court, was ‘recognised,’ but not celebrated because she offended homosexualists by quoting a three-thousand year old Judean fairy story at them. The problem was no one knew if the Margaret Court they were paying tribute to was the real Margaret Court or if she was Israel Folau pretending to be Margaret Court. Both excel at making cats bums with their lips and looking as if they were weaned on pickles.

Those two need a good shag,’ Harry quipped.

Words of a great philosopher.

Until next we meet. Cheerio!


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The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker and a Greek bear wrestler. Of no fixed abode, he has subsisted in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently hiding out in Melbourne. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and four packets of Dunhill cigarettes a day.

His mortified amanuensis, Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. The fictionalised memoir Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia. He edited the children’s anthology When We Were Young. His new book The Door and other Uncanny Tales will be released in May 2020.