Episode #504: Zaina Arafat!

Episode 504 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 today’s show, I speak with fiction writer Zaina Arafat about love, identity, sarcasm, and their complications for storytelling.

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.

Today’s presentation was done in cooperation with Miami Book Fair.

Here is the official statement from the Association of Writing Programs about Purdue’s beleaguered English Department.

The Kerouac Project of Orlando opens for applications in January.


Episode 504 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 #384: Schlock

The Curator of Schlock #384 by Jeff Shuster

Schlock

Now that’s a movie title!

I was stumbling around the town of Mooseville in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan searching for my lost kangaroo, Edwige. I made my way to the festival in the town square, some kind Canadian Thanksgiving celebration. The whole scene reminded me of something out of The Wicker Man, everyone wearing moose masks and moose leggings over their jeans. The revelry stopped when a horn blew in the distance. — To be continued.


Tonight’s Arrow Home Video release is 1973’s Schlock from director John Landis. What! What? A movie called Schlock! How can this be? Well, it just is. This movie is a bit of comedy gem as it features an ape named Schlock running rampant in a suburban neighborhood. What more can you ask for in a movie?

What’s the plot? Police are dumbfounded when piles of dead bodies turn up. A Detective Sgt. Wino (Saul Kahan) has no idea what he’s doing and admits so freely to a reporter named Joe Putzman (Eric Allison). The bodies are gathered up in Hefty trash bags and, naturally, a contest is held. Viewers are asked to guess the number of dead bodies in those plastic bags. The closest to the actual number will receive a free chicken dinner from the Colonel!

Some teenagers investigate an underground cave and get attacked by Schlock, an ape-like creature which is just John Landis in an ape suit, but who cares? The gorilla suit is one of the greatest Hollywood inventions. Why do you need an actual gorilla when you can have an actor in a gorilla suit? I should buy a gorilla suit. I could go around town wreaking as much havoc as I want and no one would blame me.

Putzman interviews Professor Shlibovitz (Emile Hamaty), a prehistoricologist. He rambles on about a prehistoric ape creature that existed eons ago. This interview is happening while Schlock emerges right into frame. Shlibovitz goes to explore the cave while Putzman interviews Schlock. Somehow Putzman doesn’t see Schlock as a killer ape. That assessment changes when Schlock rips his arm off.

Schlock busts into a trailer and eats an entire chocolate cake while washing it all down with a carton of milk. He breaks into a convenience store when he sees they sell bananas. Schlock accosts a local hippies soon after. I think my favorite scene in the movie is when Schlock sits down next to a blind piano player and starts bopping his head to the rock ’n’ roll tune. There’s another funny scene where Schlock is in a movie theater and tall people keep sitting down in front of him, blocking his view.

Did I mention there’s a love story in this movie? Schlock falls hard for a young blind woman named Mindy (Eliza Roberts) who mistakes him for a dog before she gets her eyesight back. Long story short, the situation evolves into a King Kong scenario with Schlock holding her captive above a department store. The movie promises a sequel, Son of Schlock, before the end credits roll, but sadly, such a movie never materialized. Anyway, check out Schlock if you need some joyous humor in your life. Happy New Year!


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 #155: Exploration

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #155 by Drew Barth

Exploration

How often can we link the exploration of the ancient with contemporary modes of entertainment? It’s on this field that we find a new series, Buckhead by Shobo, George Kambadais, and Jim Campbell. Placed at the intersection of archaeology, video games, African mythology, and conspiracies, Buckhead takes a small town and builds up a story being trapped in unexpected ways.

Toba Adekunle’s dad disappeared on an archaeological trip—zapped into an artifact in a hidden temple and hasn’t been seen since. Toba’s mom, a fellow archaeologist, moved them from Nigeria to the small town of Buckhead in Washington state. Toba is, of course, the new kid at his school and is already tired of the smallness of his new town. But while the town itself is small in population, it’s city-sized in its mysteries. Everyone Toba has met has a small tattoo just below the base of their neck. His new friend can’t see the large abandoned building on their walk to school. At night, people simply stand and stare at nothing while in their homes. The janitor’s closet in his new school has a massive computer with a game based on African myths—and also a character that looks a lot like his disappeared dad.

Between the town of Buckhead and the strange video game Toba found in his school, the theme of being trapped runs through this story. Even the cover has a slow incursion of chains coming for our main characters. But Shobo, Kambadias, and Campbell are subtle through this first issue. It’s like stepping into a trap that you’re too deep in to before you notice the door closing behind you. And the trap itself goes beyond the physical. Toba is coming from Nigeria to a small town in another country where all but three other people mispronounce. But he’s still much too young to go off on his own, so he has to stay in a place that doesn’t know or understand him. It’s also a place that he doesn’t know or understand either—the mystery of it locking him in place while he tries to figure out why people suddenly freeze or why his dad is in a video game.

What’s most arresting about Buckhead’s first issue is its last page. Like any good first issue, we’re given the kind of cliffhanger that makes us want to flip through the past few pages to see if there were any hints that look obvious in hindsight. We want more now. We want to see these mysteries unfurl. We want to see if Toba really is trapped in his current circumstance or if the situation of the last page will open this world up more than we had thought possible.

Get excited. Get exploring.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) 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 Perfect Life #30: Rescuing a Clinging Vine

The Perfect Life #30 by Dr. Perfect

Rescuing a Clinging Vine

Dear Dr. Perfect,

Ever since my cat was hit by a car, my separation anxiety is so bad that I follow my husband everywhere. I don’t want to miss a single moment of our life together; it’s all so fleeting.

I know this is disgusting, but I won’t let him go to the bathroom alone.

Please, help me overcome this fear. I am literally and figuratively suffocating.

Sincerely,

A loving, clinging vine

———————————–

Dear Nutcase,

I sympathize with your plight, having lost my own feisty feline some years ago. He too was struck by a car, while driving, no less.  He was the last pet I ever owned, excluding the 57 zebra fish.

When we lose something special, we can feel lost and afraid. This happened to me the other night when I realized I was out of brandy. I usually dip into the reserve stock when guests are over for cards or fundraisers or Eyes Wide Shut Tuesdays. One evening, I found my liquor cabinet absolutely empty, with only a dusty old bottle of Sauvignon Blanc I had completely forgot about. My guests were displeased, but not as much as I was.

What are boundaries, anyway? A girlfriend of mine insisted on using the toilet every time I was in the shower. I found such conduct weird, invasive, and annoying, but not deal-breakers. The relationship didn’t work but not for lack of trying. I expected from her the same things I expect from myself: absolute perfection.

Your husband may tire of your apparent clinginess, but don’t let that dissuade you. Life is fleeting. You could die tomorrow without warning, leaving behind a legacy of unfinished manuscripts and a closet full of Hummel figurines nobody cares about. (My boxes of Venezuelan vinyl records, however, will always hold value).

Accept the inevitability of death and the things that are beyond your control. Place a pillow over your husband’s face while he’s sleeping. After ten-seconds, remove the pillow. You’ll find that he’s alive and well and awake and scared. Ask him his opinion about vasectomies while you’re at it.

Attempt to do things on your own. Attend a coleslaw wrestling tournament. Only then, can you feel comfortable outside the dependency you’ve created. That is transcendence.

Perhaps the greatest co-dependency in modern history involves cell phones. Your unsanitary attachment to your husband and violation of boundaries seems normal compared to cellphone abuse. I promptly lock my phone into a safe when I get home at the end of a long, perfect day. This discipline has afforded me more time to focus on my passions, like canning and preserving food. I am so happy.

Where were we?

Don’t follow your husband into the bathroom. Just sit outside the door, breathing heavily until he returns. That should help with panic attacks.

I’d offer more compromises, but I just got a call from a famous actor, seeking advice. Apparently, he proposed to the woman he left for another woman after their relationship fell through. Why does he assume anyone will want him?


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 503: 3 Poets on Geography, Intimacy, and Dislocation

Episode 503 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 today’s show, you’ll hear the “Geography, Intimacy, and Dislocation” poetry panel I moderated this year for Miami Book Fair: The three poets reading and discussing their work are Raymond Antrobus,

Raymond Antrobus by Suki Dhanda.

Carlie Hoffman,

& Tiana Nobile.

Tiana Nobile by Zoe Cuneo.

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.

Today’s presentation was done in cooperation with Miami Book Fair.

Here is the official statement from the Association of Writing Programs about Purdue’s beleaguered English Department.

The Kerouac Project of Orlando opens for applications in January.


Episode 503 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 #383: A Pistol for Ringo

The Curator of Schlock #383 by Jeff Shuster

A Pistol for Ringo

And Ringo was his name-o

Larry had just revealed to me that Mooseville (a small town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan) celebrates Canadian Thanksgiving by eating roast Marsupial, of which the species kangaroo is a member. I tore away from him toward a festival I could hear in the distance. I had to see for myself if Edwige, my kangaroo companion, was being served as the main course  to these barbarians. — To be continued.


Merry Christmas to all of you out in the blogosphere. Tonight’s movie marks the end of my spaghetti western selection for this year, but I will be fulfilling a promise I had made to myself on July 8th of 2016. I had just watched a little western called The Return of Ringo and meant to review A Pistol for Ringo the following week. Well, I guess five years later I am now fulfilling that promise. Looks like Arrow Home Video released a Ringo twofer on Blu-ray, so let’s boogie.

1965’s A Pistol for Ringo was directed by Duccio Tessari and stars Montgomery Wood as Ringo, a gunslinger that also goes by the name of Angel Face. I guess they call him Angel Face because he’s so good looking. Anyway, Ringo gets arrested for shooting some malcontents that were tailing him. Sheriff Ben (George Martin) hopes the judge will stick it to Ringo so he’s less trigger happy. This mustn’t take place in Texas because I heard all you needed back in the day was to tell a Texan sheriff that the man you shot “needed killing.” And that would be good enough the sheriff.

A group of Mexican bandits led by a rotund man named Sancho (Fernando Sancho) rob a bank and shoot up the town. Seriously, none of the local cowboys can seem to get a shot off, each taking a bullet before their hands reach their holsters. The bandits escape, but Sheriff Ben and his posse are in close pursuit. Sancho’s gang then finds a ranch to hold up in and warns the sheriff that he’ll be sending out a dead ranch hand every dawn and dusk until his gang is allowed to escape with the money.

The ranch is owned by a Major Clyde (Antonio Casas), a rather wealthy land baron. He lives on the estate with his lovely daughter, Ruby (Hally Hammond), who herself is engaged to Sheriff Ben. They were getting ready to celebrate the Christmas holidays, but their new houseguests are a rather rude bunch of individuals with all of the drinking and shooting and what not. Major Clyde has taken a shine to Sancho’s sexy girlfriend, Delores (Nieves Navarro), and starts romancing her as any silver fox would.

Ringo offers his services to the bank and Sheriff Ben. Ringo will infiltrate the gang in exchange thirty percent of the money retrieved. The bank figures seventy percent of something is better than zero percent of nothing and thus the scam begins. Ringo is seen by the bandits to be narrowly escaping Sheriff Ben’s wrath. Ringo tells Sancho that if he gives him forty percent of the take, he has a surefire plan for the gang to escape. Just whose side is Ringo on anyway? You’ll have to watch and find out.


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 #154: Wondrous History

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #154 by Drew Barth

Wondrous History

I have, in the past, talked at length about how DC’s Black Label has been a refreshing take on many of their characters—akin to early 90s Vertigo-before-it-was-called-Vertigo comics. Works like Wonder Woman: Dead Earth by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer or The Other History of the DC Universe by John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Alex Dos Diaz, Andrea Cucchi, and Jose Villarrubia have shown just what these more expansive works can do with their pages. Wonder Woman: Historia by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, Hi-Fi, Arif Prianto, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Clayton Cowles, however, isn’t just taking advantage of this larger format. They’ve instead opted to treat each spread as a canvas to showcase what comic art can really accomplish.

Wonder Woman: Historia is a modified history of what we know about The Amazons. We know Themyscira. We know Hippolyta. We don’t know the actual origins of either of them. Where did this island come from? How did it become the haven that it is in canon? Where did Hippolyta even begin? To answer any of those, we’re given an origin story. The goddesses Hestia, Artemis, Demeter, Hecate, Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera have seen the atrocities committed by men against women and have demanded an end to men. The gods of Olympus, as per usual, scoff at the idea and essentially shoo the goddesses away. The goddesses meet again, sans Hera, to create something new. From this meeting, the  Amazon Tribes arise. And from here as well, he meet Hippolyta, but not as the leader of the Amazons just yet.

Wonder Woman: Historia is a conversation between DeConnick and Jimenez on the nature of comics themselves. What can you do with these pages? The Black Label allows for the story to expand with the page size, so why not fill every single inch of this visual medium with something that engrosses the reader so completely that they emerge from the other side with spots in their eyes? As a creative team, DeConnick, Jimenez, Hi-Fi, Prianto, Fajardo Jr., and Cowles are working with this space in much the same way that teams were during their runs on Wednesday Comics years ago, but there is a lushness in these pages that I’ve yet to see in many other comics. And it isn’t art for the sake of it—if this is a history of one of the oldest societies in DC canon, it should be given the reverence of an illuminated manuscript.

I can’t overstate the experience of sitting down and reading Wonder Woman: Historia as a piece of comic art. The vastness of the page and the sheer beauty of the art brings to mind walking through a guided tour of an ancient art museum. There is a continual feeling of the historic on every page—that what you’re reading is important, as though it were chiseled in stone as the last vestige of something ancient. Right now, there’s really nothing else like it in comics.

Get excited. Get historic.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) 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 Perfect Life #29

The Perfect Life #29 by Dr. Perfect

Dearest Doctor Perfect,

Let me start by admitting my faults: I’m a kleptomaniac and I’m not ashamed. More like . . . inconvenienced. The holiday season is usually my busiest. I like to think of myself as the reverse Santa Clause.  I make a ton of money by stealing packages off doorsteps and reselling the shit. But these new doorbells, man! Now everyone has a fucking camera on their porch. How am I supposed to make a living? How am I supposed to take my kids on our annual ski trip?

I thought technology was supposed to help people.

Advice?

Happiest Holidays to you and yours,

KleptoClause

————————-

Dear KleptoClause,

You’ve reached an interesting dilemma. Cameras are on doorbells, traffic lights, street corners, store entrances, and even in dressing rooms. I regularly do a clean sweep when I get home, just to ensure the place isn’t bugged.

You picked an inopportune time to indulge in doorstep theft. Behind every doorbell camera is a wary shut-in who hasn’t left their home since the start of the pandemic. Most of them are armed, so choose your packages wisely. Of course, you could steal goods right off the shelf of any corner store in a crime-ridden American city, but where’s the fun in that?

You live for the hunt, and I admire such tenacity.

Perhaps your brazen kleptomania is rooted in a wanton embrace of consumerism.

You feel entitled to the gifts because they’re sitting outside in the open. You’re the kid who filched all the sweets from the foolhardy “take one” basket during Halloween. Blame society for producing so many marks.

Or maybe, like most of us, you’re desperately compensating for your own procrastination. That’s why you’re supposed to steal early. Cyber Monday usually offers the best time. Simply dress up as a Jehovah’s Witness, ring the camera bell, and gently abscond with the package. Remember that for next year.

You’ve got a lot to work out, my klepto friend. Take things in stride and look at your current circumstance as a warning. Ditch the doorstop thievery and move into racketeering or whatnot. Does anyone do that anymore? I guess I’m just old school.

Happy Holidays!


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 502: David Morgan O’Connor!

Episode 502 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).

Ehsan Emad & David Morgan O’Connor on the porch of the Kerouac Project of Orlando.

On today’s show, I talk to the poet David Morgan O’Connor, who was the 2021 fall resident at the Kerouac Project of Orlando.

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.

Here is the official statement from the Association of Writing Programs about Purdue’s beleaguered English Department.

The Kerouac Project of Orlando opens for applications in January.


Episode 502 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 #382: Texas, Adios

The Curator of Schlock #382 by Jeff Shuster

Texas, Adios

Goodbye Texas!

Larry and I had dug our way out of a prison in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. We made our way back into the town of Mooseville. I thought we should lay low, but Larry insisted it was okay. The townsfolk would be too busy in the town square feasting and drinking as it was Canadian Thanksgiving. I had asked him if Canadians eat turkey like we do in the states.

“Some do,” Larry said. “But the residents of this town tend to go for more exotic fare. They eat roast marsupial.” — To be continued.


This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 1966’s Texas, Adios from director Ferdinando Baldi. Hey, this is the same director as Django, Prepare a Coffin. This is not a Django movie, but it was known as Django 2 in some territories. Perhaps, this is because Texas, Adios stars none other than Franco Nero in the lead role.

Nero plays Texas sheriff Burt Sullivan, a lawman who fights for justice, but has a dark past he must contend with. Burt Sullivan also has a younger brother named Jim, a plucky young man eager for adventure. Wikipedia says that even though this western was made in Italy, Texas, Adios plays out like a traditional American western rather than the much grittier spaghetti westerns of the time. Well, I don’t know what movie they were watching, but Texas, Adios is one of the more depressing movies I’ve seen in recent years. No singing cowboys in this one.

I suppose things are fine in Texas, but Sullivan wants to head down to Mexico to catch Cisco Delgado, the criminal who murdered his father when he was just a boy. Jim tags along and they cross the border. Maybe the Texas we were seeing was the stuff of classic Hollywood westerns, but the Mexico we see in this movie is a horrorscape littered with bodies.

One of the first things we see are the Mexican authorities gunning down some peasants one by one. The town drunk cackles as each of these men gets popped. This is a bad place, but Burt Sullivan is determined to track down Cisco Delgado by bribing every no-good thug and harlot he can find. The closer Burt gets, the more likely he’s to run into Delgado’s men who like to spend their time shooting men and kidnapping pretty women.

Eventually, Delgado’s men capture the Sullivans and bring them before Cisco Delgado, who decides to spare their lives. He even throws a party in honor of Jim Sullivan. As it turns out, Jim Sullivan is his son. Yeah, old Cisco had his way with Burt’s mom right after killing his dad. Naturally, Jim doesn’t take too kindly to this revelation, but I guess that’s what happens when you learn that the man who killed your father is actually your biological father. That reminds me of another movie that will be unmentioned on this blog.

Anyway, it all leads to a very depressing finale in which nobody really gets what they and any justice that wins out feels hollow. Well, if you’re looking to get more depressed during the holidays, check out Texas, Adios!


Photo by Leslie Salas