The Perfect Life #42

The Perfect Life #42 by Dr. Perfect

Dear Dr. Perfect,

My foot fetish is in constant battle with my foul odor revulsion. How to reconcile the two?

Scentcerely,

Janice

————————–

Hello, Janice,

I’ll set aside my pastrami on rye to address your concerns. Fetishes are precarious pastimes, filled with strange and new wonders. Some people seek solace through fun runs or consumerism. Others, such as yourself, focus on feet, the only appendage we keep stifled within cotton socks and penny loafers.

The free-spirited among us dismiss such conventions and proudly display bunions and whatnot through flip-flops or other non-shoe related footwear. I can respect their audaciousness, while being simultaneously irritated. I didn’t ask to see your feet, but that’s what passes for normalcy nowadays.

The “free foot” brigade do have a point, however. What about the ground we walk on makes us so adverse to its elements? For instance, we associate “the floor” as a dirty-rotten cesspool of germs, a haven of biological terrors. To drop a corndog and resume eating it often results in sudden dismissal from polite society. Are we being overly sensitive?

Obviously, we need shoes. Even flip-flop types understand this. We can’t all be hippies or Hobbits, and God forbid you walk barefoot in the dog park. Feet can, in fact, be quite tantalizing if you’re weird enough. We’ve all been consigned to the thankless task of performing a foot massage to our significant other and/or shady Hollywood executive.

Sometimes it can be more dignifying than the standard coerced back rub.

On the importance of being a foot-fetish connoisseur, I would refer you to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Within this cautionary tale of sensual fulfillment lies all the perspective you need in pursuit of gratification. The foot odor you may or may not experience in your travels remains a constant reminder of the cautionary limitations of hedonism, complicated by our astute sense of smell.

There might be a way to combine foot fetishes and the inevitable odors to follow, but it’s not that simple. Reach a compromise that equates your love of feet with the acceptance of their role as havens for blisters and to jam. I could rest easy never seeing another person’s foot again, but that’s my own hang up. I’m working on it.

Without feet, we’d miss out on crucial recreational activities like dancing, hopscotch, and walking across hot coals. I once had a college roommate with tremendous foot odor. After an entire semester, I learned to look past his anomaly and accept him for the degenerate drunk he was. An array of messy liquor bottles all over the room helped conceal the smell.

Sometimes the best answer is right under our noses. It’s mind over matter. Consider feet as the testament to your lofty desires, smells and all. For further insight, check out Daniel Day-Lewis in the classic feel-good film, My Left Foot.


Dr. Perfect has slung advice across the globe for the last two decades due to his dedication to the uplift of the human condition.

Episode 526: Rochelle Hurt!

Episode 526 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.


In this week’s episode, I talk to poet Rochelle Hurt about her latest book, The J Girls: A Reality Show.

Rochelle Hurt Author Photo

Photo by Emily Smith.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

NOTES

ScribophileTDO 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.


Episode 526 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.

The Curator of Schlock #384: Night Train Murders

The Curator of Schlock #384 by Jeff Shuster

Night Train Murders

Yes, revenge is a good thing. 

I was getting manhandled by a gang of hooligans in the husk of a building that was once The Museum of Schlock. Their leader was a punk with a mohawk who claimed to be the new curator of this establishment. One of the hooligans asked this usurper what was to be done with me.

“Rub him out,” the curator said. Something blunt hit the back of my head and all went dark. — To be continued.


This week’s movie is 1975’s Night Train Murders from director Aido Lado. The movie went by other titles such as Last Stop on the Night Train, Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, and The New House on the Left. That last title is significant as it is similar to a well-known American horror exploitation movie from director Wes Craven called The Last House on the Left, a movie so notorious that an audience member once demanded that the projectionist shut off the movie. This movie made its way overseas where it must have made a huge impression on several Italian producers.

The Night Train Murders begins with two malcontents named Blackie (Flavio Bucci) and Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi) running amok in Munich, slashing a woman’s fur coat and mugging a man dressed as Santa Clause in full view of everyone. Meanwhile, two teenage girls named Margaret (Irene Miracle) and Lisa (Laura D’Angelo) are busy trying to catch a train from Germany to Italy to stay with family over the Christmas holidays.

The train is very crowded with some passengers having to stand during the journey with some passengers complaining that they paid for a seat and can’t sit down. Maybe that’s because there are some extra passengers, stowaways named Blackie and Curley.

The two malcontents bum cigarettes off the girls and get their help in evading the ticket man as he checks each passengers tickets and passports, A mysterious blonde woman (Macha Méril) has an encounter with Blackie in the train’s bathroom and they do things in that bathroom that I can’t discuss on a family blog. Oh, and Curley is a drug addict, shooting up heroin and getting into fights with the train attendants. The train is held over in Austria as the authorities investigate a bomb threat. Margaret and Lisa leave the train for another one that will take them directly to Italy. They get a train compartment all to themselves, but their peace and quiet is eventually interrupted by the sound of Curley’s harmonica.

The blonde woman and two malcontents force their way into the compartment and bad things happen to the two girls resulting in Lisa’s death. Margaret tries to escape from the train, but dies on impact when she hits the ground outside. Blackie, Curly, and the blonde get rid of Lisa’s body and any other evidence the girls were on the train. If you think that’s the end of the movie, you’d be wrong.

Let’s just say there’s going to be a run in with Lisa’s parents and some sweet revenge is coming. I was watching an interview on the Blu-ray where one of the screenwriters remarked that he drove members of the audience for this picture to drink. I’ve got three more of these movies to get through this month. Hopefully, Jim Beam won’t be my best friend by the end of it.


Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #177: Tied Together

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #177 by Drew Barth

Tied Together

 wrote last week about the Jurassic League and the ways in which those designs and characters reminded me of toy tie-ins from the 90s. And that just led me to the Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat, Bang! Kill Tour and how that tie-in series reminded me of the animated Batman series from the 90s as well. What Tee Franklin, Max Sarin, Erich Owen, Marissa Louise, and Taylor Esposito made starts as bridge between the second and third season of the Harley Quinn animated series, but we’re also given one of the most in-depth character studies of Poison Ivy and her relationships in comics.

From its first page, The Eat, Bang! Kill Tour is season two-and-a-half of the Harley Quinn animated series. We’re starting right at the car chase between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy and Commissioner Gordon and the entire Gotham City Police Department the second season ended on and immediately into the fallout from Poison Ivy and Kite-Man’s botched wedding. Even if this is a Harley Quinn series, this is a story about Poison Ivy and everything that has been mentally following her throughout the animated series. We see the doubts, regrets, and ultimate acceptance of herself all the while her and Harley drive from Gotham to Blüdhaven to Detroit and annoy any hero or villain in their vicinity. And while Gordon tries to drag them back to Gothamn.

What makes The Eat, Bang! Kill Tour work, though, is the efforts from Franklin, Sarin, Owen, Louise, and Esposito. The whole series feels less like a tie-in for a cartoon than a love letter for every single character we see. But no more so than for Poison Ivy. While this is Harley’s series, this is Ivy’s story. As we’re going directly from the animated series, we get a bit of Ivy’s internal struggles with her insecurities and the doubts about whether or not she’s made the right choice in staying with Harley, but that becomes the main through-line of this comic. Her growth from the continual doubt or the ways in which she lashes out as a result of those doubts only lets that eventual moment of self acceptance shine all the brighter. And that all of this is her pushing herself to do them with Harley, that this isn’t a journey to take alone, really helps to make that point of self-acceptance stick.

If The Eat, Bang! Kill Tour does anything, it makes me want that third season of Harley Quinn to come even sooner. But as a comic that ties into the series, this one does something many don’t and that’s it helps to really expand the world and the characters of the series. It isn’t simply another episode or something that slots in-between adventures, it’s a continuation, and the rest of the animated series will pick up from that point. And I do really hope that all of the character work we saw in this comic series will follow into its animated counterparts.

Get excited. Get tied.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

The Perfect Life #41

The Perfect Life #41 by Dr. Perfect

Dr. Perfect,

I’m upset that none of the “Missed Connections” on Craigslist are about me. What’s the point of smiling at every person I see and nod seductively if they’re not even going to reach out?

Signed,

Lonely Online

————————–

 Dear Lonely Online,

I scour Craigslist too, for used furniture.

Though my deluxe domicile is the height of opulence, I’m always on the hunt for a good deal. My father had a nose for it, and I’d like to think he passed it down. He’d haggle with anyone anywhere.

“Half off?” he’d say to the clueless stocker at the A&P. “Is that supposed to tickle my fancy? How about you knock off another seventy-five cents?”

“Sir, are you going to buy those Corn Flakes, or can I put them back on the shelf?”

It was always an adventure with my old man.

If I was slighted in such a way by a “missed connection” forum, I’d first contact my local representative. They work for us, right? Naturally, some low-level staffer would take the reins of the issue, only to quietly drop the matter altogether. Some democracy.

My next step would be to seek the advice from the best columnist in town. What I’m trying to say is that you’ve come to the right place. We empathize with readers here, which is something my editor tells me is required in my field. Some might slander you as a loser. Others would tell you to not dwell over such nonsense and enjoy your life before it inevitably ends one day.

Furthermore, you might recall dreams and aspirations from the starlight of your youth that have yet to materialize. But I won’t dwell on any of that. There will be no denigration of your character in this space, a perfect space, for shunned souls awaiting fulfillment through simple twists of fate.

Just because your perceived connection wasn’t officiated through craigslist, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And you should take comfort in the fact that most supposed “connections” largely go unnoticed and unanswered. It’s a matter of probability. You can’t blame people for trying, though. Odds are, that girl or guy you saw in the Walgreen’s check-out aisle might just follow-up on an anonymous forum the same way I might be given a syndicated talk show.

Most people out and about just want to be left alone, but don’t let that dissuade you. Somewhere, someone is just as desperately lovesick, and those are odds you can bet on, or my name isn’t Dr. Perfect. Coincidentally, I just booked a flight to Vegas. Papa’s gotta buy a new pair of Crocs, about two hundred pairs if I’m lucky.

I’ve always wanted to live in one of those modernist octagon-shaped houses in the California Hills. You’ve seen the in the movies, I’m sure. I’d put an extravagant fish tank in my bedroom right next to the waterbed.

I hope that clarifies your concerns. Now get out there and keep nodding!


Dr. Perfect has slung advice across the globe for the last two decades due to his dedication to the uplift of the human condition.

Episode 525: Brynne Rebele-Henry!

Episode 525 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.


In this week’s episode, I talk to Brynne Rebele-Henry about divinity, sexuality, and historical imagination in her extraordinary latest collection of verse, Prelude.

TEXT DISCUSSED

NOTES

ScribophileTDO 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 Greg Proops and Jennifer Canaga reading 19 pages from the Q&A chapter, known as Ithaca section, for Shakespeare and Company’s Ulysses podcast.Learn all about what happens when Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus hang out in the middle of the night.


Episode 525 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.

The Curator of Schlock #383: CQ

Tags

,

The Curator of Schlock #383 by Jeff Shuster

CQ

Roman Coppola’s love letter to cinema.

“Unhand me,” I said as two hooligans grabbed my arms and forced me to my knees. “I’m the curator of this museum.”

The punk with the mohawk leaped down off the severed concrete head of Charles Bronson, the centerpiece of the once grand Museum of Schlock. He swayed over to me like this was his domain as his goons murmured under their breath. He raised a dirty index finger to his lips, sushing me. The punk then smiled with a silver grill and said, “I’m the curator.”


This week’s movie is 2001’s CQ from director Roman Coppola. This is one of those movies within a movie within a movie movies. We start with a young, aspiring filmmaker named Paul Ballard (Jeremy Davies) living in Paris in 1969. He’s making a documentary about his daily life. The movie is shot in black and white and resembles David Holzman’s Diary, a staple for anyone who took a history of documentary film class in college. Paul lives with his French girlfriend, Marlene (Elodie Bouchez), and his constant obsession over his daily life documentary annoys her to no end.

Paul also has a day job editing a futuristic spy movie named Codename: Dragonfly, a kind of Barbarella-meets-Modesty Blaise vehicle. The movie stars the stunningly beautiful Valentine (Angela Lindvall) as Dragonfly. Gérard Depardieu plays Andrezej, the director of Code Name: Dragonfly who spotted Valentine at a political rally and became obsessed with making the movie about revolution. Andrezej talks about subverting audience expectations and how this movie’s ending is really a beginning.

Andrezej’s creative excesses infuriate producer Enzo (Giancarlo Giannini), a caricature of Dino De Laurentiis. Enzo screams that Andrezej has made an action picture with no action and no ending. He fires Andrezej on the spot. This is not well received as Andrezej calls Enzo a fascist and tries to break the door down to get back into the screening room. Enzo shuts down the production down and fires the staff only to restart the picture and rehire some of the staff including Paul as editor.

Enzo’s new replacement director is Felix DeMarco (Jason Schwartzman), an American director of gothic horror movies, currently directing a vampire picture which I think is titled Blood from Satan’s Tomb. He’s all on board with the project and Enzo wants him to fix the ending. Felix employs Paul to make a trailer for Code Name: Dragonfly and Valentine stops by the studio for an ADR session. Paul becomes infatuated with Valentine after meeting her in person for the first time.

Paul’s continued work on his documentary along with his new responsibilities on Code Name: Dragonfly puts a strain on his relationship with Marlene. This pressure increases after Felix bows out of the project and Enzo selects Paul as the new director. Paul needs to come up with that new ending and I think he’s torn between a crowd pleaser or something more faithful to Andrezej’s original vision. CQ is a love letter to the European escapist cinema of the late 1960s. It’s a shame Roman Coppola hasn’t directed more feature films. This one is a gem.


Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #176: With Jurassic Chomping Action!

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #176 by Drew Barth

With Jurassic Chomping Action!

Comics are, above all, a medium for telling stories. And sometimes the best kinds of stories are catharsis—we need to feel a release from what we’ve become accustomed to. Jurassic League is one such kind of catharsis. Taking familiar characters that are confined to some kind of canon and allowing creators like Juan Gedeon, Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, and Ferran Delgado to transform them into something akin to a mid-90s action figure line gives a reader that deep-soul chuckle that we need while slipping into the comfort of dinosaur superheroes.

Jurassic League is kind of what it promises on the tin: the Justice League with a jurassic bend to it. The Bat Walker patrols the outskirts of Growltham City for the Jokerzard; Wonderdon begins her journey from the island of Trimyscira; the alien Supersaur helps the human citizens of Metraaaghpolis build their burgeoning community. It’s a distilled version of each familiar character, but one that cuts to the heart of their stories: the brooding vigilante, the protector from a mythical land, the alien raised by a kindly couple. But there is already an undercurrent of something larger happening as Jokerzard, Blackmantasaurus, Giganta, and Brontozarro are performing their own duties of not simply tormenting people, but collecting them for some unknown purpose. As a first issue, it’s establishing those essential threads and rules of the world that we’ll follow along and unfold over the next five issues.

The bright boldness of Jurassic League already shows its promise as not just a strange multiversal spin-off, but as this cathartic comic. Many superhero stories are hampered by canon, and re-launches and reboots only seem to complicate those issues further. Gedeon, Johnson, Spicer, and Delgado have instead distilled these familiar origins into something eccentric yet accessible.  Its weirdness is comforting. It is the most fun I would ever have playing with action figures as a child in the 90s. And yet it isn’t trying to rely on nostalgia for that comfort. As a series so far, Jurassic League is wholly unique but enough sinew of the familiar remains. What is left allows us to revel. We can get lost in this new interpretation and sink into the kinetic art style that lets us just sit with the loud weirdness of the story for those few moments. It’s like wrapping yourself in a neon green and yellow Jurassic Park comforter on a cold night.

These odd Elseworld series are necessary in these long-running comic universes. The stories can’t always be tertiary colors and high drama. There needs to be a release to make that drama really work. And as superhero comics are the kind of medium that thrives on these stories occurring simultaneously while reading every week, this spot of primary colored absurdity gives readers a chance to unclench their jaws and enjoy comics. And as things in the world are only getting more strenuous, it’s nice to have that romping moment of comfort.

Get excited. Get prehistoric.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331, 485, & 510) resides in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 524: Yeoh Jo-Ann!

Episode 524 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.

In this week’s episode, I talk to Yeoh Jo-Ann, the spring 2022 resident of the Kerouac Project of Orlando, about her novel, Impractical Uses of Cake, proper otter behavior, the role of agency in happiness, cat envy, teaching Shakespeare to teenagers, and the small ways teachers entertain themselves every day.

Yeoh Jo-Ann

Yeoh Jo-Ann reads from a work-in-progress at The Kerouac Project of Orlando.

TEXT DISCUSSED

NOTES

ScribophileTDO 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.

Watch Yeoh Jo-Ann’s reading at the end of her Kerouac Project residency.


Episode 524 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on iTunes, or right click here to download.

The Curator of Schlock #382: Dark Crimes

The Curator of Schlock #382 by Jeff Shuster

Dark Crimes

Jim Carrey tries the darkly dramatic. 

A punk with a mohawk sat perched upon the concrete head of Charles Bronson in the ransacked building that was once the Museum of Schlock. I gave him a hard stare, but he paid me no mind, sticking two fingers in his mouth and whistling. About a dozen hooligans came forth, pipes and baseball bats in their hands. Some of them were wearing the 70s sports jackets I had on display for the movie Nightmare City. I paid six figures for those props! — To be continued.


This week’s movie is 2018’s Dark Crimes from director Alexandros Avranas. It currently holds a critics score of zero percent, but what do critics know? I can make my own decisions about which movies I watch. Looks like the audience rating twenty-nine percent. What does the herd know? The Wikipedia plot synopsis consists of four sentences, making me think that no one out there cares enough to write a detailed synopsis of this movie. And I am, of course, a professional.

Dark Crimes has a running time of 92 minutes which is good. I remember reading Screenwriting: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field many years ago. In it, Syd Field commented on the difference between American movie length versus European movie length. American movies tended to run at about two hours back in the 1970s while the European movies of that era run an hour and a half. I’ve heard it said that the average attention span of a human being is an hour and a half, so perhaps the European filmmakers were right.

I also remember an Ebert & Roeper episode where Richard Roeper bemoaned the length of modern movies. Roger Ebert stated that no good movie is too long and no bad movie is too short. At the time I was on Roeper’s side because I hated how Hollywood kept pushing movies well past the two hour mark. I groan at the prospect of watching the latest Batman movie because it’s nearly three hours long. Whither, editing?

Still, Roger Ebert had a point. At 92 minutes, Dark Crimes is still one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen!

Jim Carrey plays a Polish police inspector named Tadek. We first see him brushing dead hairs out of his scruffy beard before joining his family for some breakfast. He has bacon and eggs as his wife and daughter stare at him dispassionately. We learn that Tadek was benched for a desk job after some disastrous case. Anyway, a friend in the department gives him a new case to work on, the strangulation of a businessman that was left unsolved.

His investigations lead him to suspect a writer named Kozlov (Marton Csokas), a pretentious creep that makes wild proclamations to an eager press about there being no such thing as truth. Kozlov likes to write about grotesque, underground S&M clubs where the patrons get to indulge their abusive side. Tadek gets drawn into this sick world and before the movie is over, he’ll have lost everything, agape in despair, just as Jim Carrey should be.

There’s even a scene where Tadek finds the corpse of his dead mother with a twisted expression on her face. She died alone in her apartment after Tadek promised her she wouldn’t die alone.

Good times!

Skip it! Skip it! Skip it!


Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.