Episode 439: Chuck Palahniuk!

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Episode 439 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).

On this week’s show, I talk to novelist Chuck Palahniuk about The Invention of Sound, Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different, Adjustment Day, the 18-month rule, how to stay productive, how to keep invested in the work, the genius of Ira Levin, the value of mentors, and how to remix Invisible Monsters.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

NOTESScribophile

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.

Check out Episode 332, when Vanessa Blakeslee and I discussed Chuck’s Stranger Than Fiction.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 439 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 #325: Blood Feast

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The Curator of Schlock #325 by Jeff Shuster

Blood Feast

Herschell Gordon Lewis. The man. The myth. The Legend. 

The food has been off in this place ever since Jervis made those sloppy Joes. He said it was a special ground meat blend, but I’ve never tasted meat like that in my life. And I never noticed any authorities showing up to retrieve Indigo’s body. When I sleep at night, it feels like someone is in the room with me, watching me. Sometimes I want to get in my car and hightail it, but then I remember I abandoned my car in the Florida Everglades.

schlock mansion

Tonight’s movie is 1963’s Blood Feast from director Herschell Gordon Lewis. This is a wet one, folks. I don’t know. I guess one director got fed up with all the restrictions imposed by the Hays Code and went hog wild. Apparently, vomit bags were provided to theater goers at screenings. Oh, and Lewis wrote a novelization to coincide with the release of the movie should any of you readerly types want to seek it out.

Blood Feast begins with a suburban housewife listening to a Miami news report about how there’s a homicidal maniac on the loose. The reporter says that women should not go out alone at night. Good thing the housewife is staying in for a bath and not going outside, right? Not really because the killer breaks into her house and kills her in the bath by stabbing her in the eye. The killer then severs and bags up her leg before he leaves.

This is sick movie! I don’t want to watch body parts being hacked off in full color. Maybe it’s the fact that this movie was made in the early 60s which is throwing off my sensibilities. I expect this crap from my 70s movies and not during a time when Americans were clean cut and respectable. We get two inept police detectives who don’t really get any closer to solving this case with each gruesome murder.

The guy going around murdering women is named Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold). He runs a local grocery store and has written a book on bizarre Egyptian cults of the ancient world. One such cult worshipped the goddess Ishtar and that worshipping demanded the preparation of a “blood feast.” Basically, it’s just an excuse for cannibalism. And he’s preparing this blood feast at a party hosted by, naturally, wealthy socialite Dorothy Fremont.

I guess Fuad has to get different body parts from different women. He’ll get a brain from one and a heart from another. One vicious attack revolved around him removing a woman’s tongue, and we get to watch her bleed to death. I can only think such feats had never been attempted before on film. And maybe they should never have been attempted again.

That’s all I got to say about Blood Feast. I’m sure that in a couple of years I’ll have worse judgement and will fervently recommend this film to friends and family.

To my future self, please don’t.

That’s all for now.


Photo by Leslie Salas.

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

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #89: A Legacy in Ink

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Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #89 by Drew Barth

A Legacy in Ink

Like a Kirby comic, you know exactly when you pick up a Kubert comic: direct storytelling and an expansive setting. These two qualities have become so ingrained in the language of comics since the 70s that it’s no wonder that The Kubert School exists as a location to be trained in comics and illustration. Joe Kubert began this style, Andy and Adam Kubert continued, and now Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd build upon this legacy with their new series from Image, Inkblot.

Inkblot#1 establishes itself as a modern take on classic comic fantasy from the 60s and 70s. Steeped in the tradition of magic, mystery, and realms that hearken back to Norse mythology, Inkblot also seems modern, thanks to a magical cat who brings ennui and mischief in a way only an internet saturated audience can really appreciate. The cat magically appears and causes chaos, much like my own cat. The story centers on The Seeker, the unnamed sibling of the founders of magic, who chronicles her family’s adventures through the seven realms. When a bundle of spells and a pot of ink are knocked off her table, a little cat of magic and ink is born, immediately ripping up papers and opening portals in The Seeker’s library.

All of these older fantasy trappings make Inkblot such a fun comic compared to some contemporary fantasy series. Kubert and Gladd are bursting with story throughout this sprint of a twenty-page first issue. But they know not to try to jam as much as possible in the beginning—they give themselves the room to keep expanding while dropping bits of world building and story in off-hand moments of dialogue. Our main character only briefly mentions that she’s thousands of years old and the information is told in passing in such a way that I’m now waiting for the later arc explaining how her and her siblings have become living gods of magic.

I haven’t been this excited for a fantasy comic since DIE last year.

Inkblotis a piece of a wider, generational comic legacy. Emma Kubert builds from the work of her grandfather and expands on it.

Get excited. Get that cat.


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 438: A Discussion of Children of Men, with Michael Wheaton!

Episode 438 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).

On this episode, I talk to writer Michael Wheaton about Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film, Children of Men, while I wait in vain for my ears to stop ringing.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

NOTES

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.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 438 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 #324: Bloody Birthday

The Curator of Schlock $324 by Jeff Shuster

Bloody Birthday

Bad Seed times three. 

Indigo didn’t show up for our Thursday night checkers game. My housemate was nowhere to be found. I started searching the property and found his dead body tucked behind the tool shed. Too puncture marks were on his neck and I can’t help, but think that it must have been some kind of animal attack. Maybe one of those Florida panthers got him. Jervis said he’d contact the authorities and they’d take care of the body. Creepy business. Maybe I should make plans to leave, but Jervis is making Sloppy Joes this weekend. I love me some Sloppy Joes.

schlock mansion

But what I don’t like is children. Yeah, I didn’t like children when I was a child and I certainly don’t like them now that I’m a man of distinction. Children are the main focus of tonight’s feature film, 1981’s Bloody Birthday from director Ed Hunt. The movie begins with three children being delivered at a hospital during a solar eclipse, two boys and a girl. And I guess if your born right at the point of an eclipse, you’re a bad seed.

Fast forward ten years and we have a trio of miserable ten-year-olds whose idea of fun is murdering people and getting away with it. These are Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), a blonde girl, Steven (Andy Freeman), a blond boy, and Curtis (Billy Jayne), a four-eyed little shit that I want to smack every time I see him on screen. They’re all little shits and I can only think that getting killed by them would be one of the humiliating experiences imaginable. If I have to go, let me die by that hands of a Cropsy or a Michael Myers, not this trio of despicable brats!

Their first victims are a couple of horny teenagers who thought it was a good idea to make out in an open grave. The adolescent girl gets strangled with a jump rope and the adolescent boy gets his head bashed in with a shovel. Then the children throw dirt over the grave. This doesn’t stop the town Sheriff from uncovering the bodies and determining that a killer is on the loose. And wouldn’t you know it, Sheriff Brody is Debbie’s dad.

This doesn’t stop our little Debbie from orchestrating the demise of her own father. She leaves a skateboard on the back steps to her house, but her dad just steps over it. That’s okay since Steven is at the ready to bash his brains in with a baseball bat. Curtis also gets in on the murder game by using the Sheriff’s revolver on his super strict grammar school teacher, Ms. Davis (Susan Strasberg). You see, young Curtis had a replica of a revolver that he switched out for the real thing.

The heroine of this movie is Joyce Russell (Lori Lethin), a high school senior with aspirations of becoming an investigative reporter. I think she first becomes suspicious of the bad seeds when Curtis and Stephen lock her younger brother, Timmy (K. C. Martel), in an old refrigerator at the junkyard. A night of babysitting gone to hell removes all shadow of a doubt that these kids are killers, but Joyce doesn’t kill them. She manages to subdue them in time for cops to arrive. What a disappointment. I was hoping to see Curtis get decapitated or set on fire. I wonder if there was a sequel.


Photo by Leslie Salas.

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

 

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #87: Looking At What’s There

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #87 by Drew Barth

Looking At What’s There

Abstraction is one of the key components of comics. Nothing we see on the page is real—we only ever see a representation of reality through an artist interpreting it. Comics are interesting since they can play with this abstraction and interpretation in ways many other visual mediums cannot. Seeing abstraction done well, however, is still rather rare. That’s why it’s refreshing to see works like Creation by Sylvia Nickerson and Cowboyby Rikke Villadsen. What these two creators do is work with the abstract in multiple ways—either with a new mother watching a city slowly being swallowed by gentrification or with the absurdity of cowboy masculinity.

What both comics do so well, though, is work with the idea of abstraction to almost absurd degrees. With Creation, Nickerson rarely draws detailed people. Instead, she opts for outlines of people that interact with beautifully laid out backgrounds and environments. What matters throughout her story of her and her newly born son is their environment—how they interact with and move through it. Creation presents us with the idea of the act of creation in the city of Hamilton, a place filled with toxic waste and smog, while working with the creation of human life. It is in the way Nickerson presents herself and her son as these abstract outlines that makes for a closer, more personal look at trying to create in a place that is slowly losing itself. We always see Nickerson as herself, but we can see just a little more of ourselves as well.

Rikke Villadsen’s Cowboy, on the other hand, works in a different kind of abstraction. While our characters all have names and faces, they’re caricatures rather than actual people. What Villadsen does so well throughout this comic is taking the expected and presenting it in an unexpected way. We expect gunslingers, bar fights, and heroism in cowboy literature. Instead we have these caricatures of cowboy media presented in a way that highlights the ridiculousness of their existence. And when one of them is killed, their mantle is flipped and taken by a woman who witnesses the murder. She steals a horse and rides out of her small town to become the cowboy that she believes she could be before dying. And the cowboy whose horse she stole? His role becomes hers—the woman watching cowboys from a window and wishing she could do something more.

The medium works the best when it’s representing what’s in front of us in the way the artist views the world. Creators like Nickerson and Villadsen are important in comics since their visions are clear—their works create a deeper understanding of the world in a way that only they can represent.

Get excited. Get abstract.


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 Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #17

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #17

Transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI

15 September 2020

Hello, logophiles! It’s me, Mr Sozzled, your intrepid reporter from the borders of insanity, ringing in from a cave in the Khyber Pass.

You guessed it. I was run out of Australia—yet again—by imbeciles after my last daring column, which apparently encouraged the killing of ‘Woke’ people. When all I was going was putting out the garbage.

My amanuensis, Demented something-or-other, is with me. Can’t pronounce his surname even when I’m drunk, which is most of the time.

He’s here to help me compile my dictionary. It’s called The Dictionary of a Gadfly. Do you like the title? It’s a reference to Socrates’s gadfly ethnics.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Look it up, you ignoramus.

According to Plato, Socrates pointed out that dissent, like the gadfly, is easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who are irritating could be high. ‘If you kill a man like me,’ Socrates said, ‘you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me’, because his role was that of a gadfly, ‘to sting people and whip them into a fury, in the service of truth.’

Given that Socrates is in Hades (but you never know with Greeks; they live long) I will be your modern-day gadfly. Don’t whip out the Mortein yet. Hear me out first and make up your own mind.

—Okay, Damascus, are you ready with your Olivetti typewriter?

—It’s Dmetri. Not Demented, not Damascus. Dmetri!

—Yeah, yeah, whatever. One dago name is the same as another.

—Prig. And can I please have an Air Mac or something more modern?

—There’s nothing wrong with a typewriter. Your fingers need the exercise. Besides, there’s no electricity in this cave. I think Barack Obama slept here.

—You mean Osama Bin Laden.

—I know what I mean. Now type. The first word in my world-famous dictionary is:

ABUSE —Nowadays everyone has been ‘abused’, even if it was a half-hearted pinch on the arse, or a wolf whistle, thirty-five years ago. Apparently, they were so traumatised they never got over it. This feeds into the cult of victimhood and second-wave feminism’s belief that women are frail things in need of protection.

—You can’t say that.

—Why not?

—Because people will be offended.

—Who gives a rat’s? Last time I looked I still lived in a democracy.

—Pakistan ain’t no democracy.

—Yeah, yeah. Second word:

AMERICA—A basket case filled with serial killers, televangelists, rapists, racists, pornographers, drug lords, waiters who want to be actors, and reality TV stars who want to rule the world. On the brink of collapse. Even so it insists on being called the land of the free, without a hint of irony.

—I feel sick.

—What is it now? Did the chapati you had for breakfast disagree with your delicate stomach?

—If people read this, we will be trapped in Pakistan forever.

—I can think of worst places.

—Oh, yeah, where?

—Wellington. Third word:

BEAUTY—A male construct invented to oppress women. Where that leaves beautiful men, I don’t know.

—That’s better. No one can be offended by that.

—That’s what you think. Fourth word:

BLACKFACE—Further proof that white people want to be black.

—Oh, god! I want the day off. I really don’t feel well.

—Be quiet. Youre lucky you have a job. Fifth word:

CANCEL CULTURE—Practiced by shrieking harpies online who have taken a page out of Stalin and Mao’s respective books.

—Yep, migraine coming on.

—Next:

COCK—An instrument of oppression. Women fear it, straight men brandish it, and gays worship it.

—I like that one.

—You would, you poof.

—So are you.

—No, I’m not. I’m a pessimist. Next:

DONALD TRUMP—Absurdism and Dadaism in the White House.

—Hey, these are getting better.

—Told you. Next:

FEMALE SEXUALITY—Look but dont touch. Better yet dont even look.

—You jumped the E’s.

—Shut up. Next:

GAYS—Unnatural, despite the fact that heterosexuals continue to produce them. Must be accepted, unless you’re in the United Arab Emirates, in which case you toss them off a minaret to see if they float. If they hit the ground, they are not gay. If they float, they are gay because all gays are light on their feet.

—Oh god, my headache is coming back.

—Next:

GENDER NON-CONFORMING— A boring heterosexual who wants a slice of the queer pie so that he/she/they can appear unique and interesting.

—Keep ‘em innocuous, just like that.

—Next:

JAPAN—A retiring country that makes the world feel guilty about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while never talking about the Nanjing massacres, prisoner of war camps, the Unit 731 experiments, cannibalism, and other atrocities in Asia Pacific during WWII.

—You can’t say that!

—Why not?

—Because they will set Sadako on us.

—Coward. Next:

MIA FARROW—A nut job who adopts children and screws them up, using techniques she learned in Rosemary’s Baby.

—Even I can’t argue with that one.

—Coming right up:

MUSLIMS—Fly airplanes that don’t land and love dressing up as Daleks.

—Do I need to remind you we are guests of the Taliban?

—They’ve got a sense of humour. Next:

WHITE PRIVILEGE—No such thing. A racist fabrication…

—That’s it. You’ve gone too far this time. I resign. I’m going to offer myself as a concubine to the first warlord I encounter. They can use my Khyber Pass all they like. But I am not going to facilitate your insane rants any more. Goodbye.

—Come back, you wretch. You can’t survive without me. Besides, no one wants to pluck your old cherry—even out here, where they’re all desperate. Come back, I tell you.

 À bientôt, mes amies.


The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker (his father) and a Greek bear wrestler (his mother). He has lived in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently stateless. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and nine packets of Gauloises cigarettes a day.

Dmetri Kakmi is a writer and editor. His first book, Mother Land, was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premiers Literary Awards in Australia, and his new book, The Door, will be released in September 2020.

Episode 437: Steve Davenport

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Episode 437 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Steve Davenport

On this episode, I talk to poet Steve Davenport about poetry, collaboration, the body, and many other things.

TEXT DISCUSSED


NOTES

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.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 437 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #323: Hotel

The Curator of Schlock #323 by Jeff Shuster

Hotel

I am so confused.

Okay. Things have gotten a bit strange around this old manor house somewhere in the state of Florida.

schlock mansion

Celestial went missing for a couple of days and then shows up in the middle of the night, pale as can be. Now she sleeps all day and only comes out at dusk. Her eating habits are peculiar too. Celestial keeps drinking some kind special V-8 toast Jervis procures from a health store. Oh, well. Jervis is making shrimp scampi tonight. It will be in a lemon-butter sauce. He said the grocers were all out of garlic.

Tonight’s movie is 2001’s Hotel from director Mike Figgis. What’s Hotel about? I don’t know that it’s about anything. The movie begins at a hotel in Venice, Italy. The actor John Malcovich enters the hotel and registers under the name Omar Johnson, but we all know it’s John Malcovich. He partakes in a shared meal with creepy hotel staff and the hotel tour guide played by creepy Julian Sands. The tour guide asks John Malcovich, “What’s the difference between a duck?” A plate of fresh meat is shared between them and from the cured legs and hands hanging in the kitchen, I can only come to the realization that it’s human meat. I don’t know if the hotel staff are vampires or cannibals or some other creature of the night. I don’t know that it matters much as the movie isn’t really focused on this.

Hotel is centered around a crew of filmmakers shooting an adaptation of John Webster’s The Duchess ofMalfi, dogme 95 style. Apparently, this was a revolutionary style of movie making championed by Lars von Trier back in 1995. It involves handheld camera work, no sets, no lighting, etc. So the director of this Duchess of Malfi adaption, an intense Welsh man named Trent Stoken (Rhys Ifans), insists on shooting the Duchess of Malfi in modern day Venice with all the tourists and pigeons flying about while the cast delivers Elizabethan English in period clothing. And it’s all shot on digital video which has not stood the test of time and looks ghastly on any modern television. But maybe that’s the whole point. The entire production reeks of Pretention, by Dior.

David Schwimmer plays Jonathan Danderfine, one of the producers The Duchess of Malfi (retitled Malfi), who has the creepy hotel staff attempt an assassination on Stoken with a silencer pistol. The assassination attempt puts Stoken in a vegetative coma allowing Danderfine to take over the directing of Malfi and put his artistic spin on it. I also think he has the hots for Saffron Burrows, who plays the titular Duchess of Malfi. Much of this is being seen through the lens of a documentary being shot about the making of Malfi, which is where Salma Hayek enters in the fray.Hayek plays Charlee Boux, an extremely obnoxious MTV-style journalist from Mexico whose catchphrase is “Hello!” because I think she hosts a show in Mexico called Hello. She keeps asking to speak to the writer of Malfi, John Webster, not knowing he’s been dead for over 400 years.

Later, Charlee Boux gets into a nasty fight with Danderfine’s good friend Kawika (Lucy Liu). If you ever wanted to see Salma Hayek and Lucy Liu get into a vicious cat fight, then this in the movie for you. Did I mention that Burt Reynolds makes an appearance?

I probably should have led with that.


Photo by Leslie Salas

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

Episode 436: Alex Miller!

Episode 436 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

On this episode, personal essayist Alex Miller and I talk about the intimate power of the personal essay, pitches, politics, and universities in NYC.

Essays by Alex Miller

NOTES

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.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 436 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcasts, stitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).