Episode 539: Chelsey Clammer!

Episode 539 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).

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This week, I catch up with longtime friend of the show, the brilliant creative nonfiction writer, Chelsey Clammer.

TEXT DISCUSSED


NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

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.

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Episode 539 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).

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #189: The Space of Hope

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #189 by Drew Barth

The Space of Hope

What’s Superman supposed to be today? A character as old as him would have hundreds of interpretations by hundreds of different creators—from a messianic figure who should let a busload of kids die to protect his identity to the guy taking his dog for a walk around the moon—and while there’s no perfect interpretation, there’s the ones that get the closest to something unique in comics. Many of those best stories are the ones that look back to look forward and give a glimpse into the world that raised Clark Kent into Superman. Superman: Space Age by Mark Russell, Michael and Laura Allred, and Dave Sharpe is one such story that shows us more of where Superman begins. And potentially ends.

Superman: Space Age takes us back to the 60s, of Clark Kent working on the farm in Smallville with Pa and Ma Kent as the threat of the Cold War continually looms. It’s a restless kind of Clark that wants to do something good. But he doesn’t yet know what that is yet as a brash action of his nearly causes the US and USSR to launch their nukes. And it’s here, on the precipice of accidentally fucking up the planet, that he begins his time with his other father, Jor-El, in the form of a hologram in the recently discovered Fortress of Solitude. We’re given a different interpretation then of how Clark became Superman. If the Kents were able to give him the moral compass that would point him toward good, then it’s Jor-El that gives him the tools for that goodness.

But what does that goodness and hope look like in the 60s through the lens of now? Is it naivete, or something else? As a writer, Russell has excelled at crafting these kinds of stories—either in The Flintstones or Exit, Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles—and while the 60s in comics were where were seeing the results of the comics code and the birth of the Silver Age, he’s able to take that kind of spirit and craft a story of two times. The simplicity of the stories and complications of the time, tied together in a medium that communicates those feelings as they were happening creates this feeling of nostalgia while keeping us fully aware of the time in which we’re reading.

Like pop albums, it feels like there needs to be a Superman story every five to ten years that draws us back to the basics and makes us reevaluate why we loved the medium and what we can do with the building blocks established decades earlier. Superman: Space Age is the kind of comic that makes us want the goodness and hope these comics are capable of producing. Russell, Allred, and Sharpe stare cynicism down until it slinks back into an olive drab metaphor and revels in what these kinds of heroic characters can give us: that hopeful pinnacle we all deserve, something that can’t be done quick, but must be done right. 

Get excited. Get good.

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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.

Episode 538: A Discussion of John Bois’s “17776” with Chelsea Alice!

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Episode 538 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).

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This week, the brilliant Chelsea Alice & I discuss John Bois’s postmodern masterpiece, “17776,” which is partially about what football will look like in the time of the singularity. Probably no other fiction has made such utility out of the resources and mechanics of the internet for a reading experience.

TEXTS Discussed



NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

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.

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Episode 538 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 #394: Puzzle

The Curator of Schlock #394 by Jeff Shuster

Puzzle

Sausage festival. 

I thanked the Orlando area vigilante known as the Revenging Manta for saving my life and wished him the best of luck in his battle with the criminal gang known as the Iguana Consortium. I figured I would track down the nearest Comfort Inn as my home, The Museum of Schlock, had been taken over by members of said gang. Then the hand of the Revenging Manta gripped my shoulder. 

“You’re not leaving,” he said. “There’s a delivery of fentanyl happening at 3 AM. Together, we will stop it.” — To be continued.

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This week’s giallo movie is 1974’s Puzzle from director Duccio Tessari. This movie was known in Italy as L’uomo senza memoria which translates to The Man Without a Memory. And that’s a fairly apt description as a man named Ted Walden (Luc Merenda) has lost his memory after a bad car accident. He’s seeing a therapist, Dr. Archibald T. Wildgate (Tom Felleghy). Ted’s trying to uncover who he is when the therapist introduces Ted to Phillip (Manfred Freyberger), the best friend he can’t remember.

Ted invites Phillip back to his apartment to get some answers about his former life, but Phillip just proceeds to punch him, calling him a “double crosser” and asking him to give up the amnesia act. A sniper’s bullet hits Phillip in the back, killing him instantly. Ted then receives a telegram telling him to meet his wife, Sara, in Portofino, Italy. Ted then hides Phillip’s body in the Murphy bed in his apartment. That body is going to be ripe in a few days. I’d hate to be the landlord who discovers that surprise.

Next, we’re introduced to Sara (Senta Berger), Ted’s beautiful American wife. She is a swimming instructor for boys at a recreation center. She’s friends with the boys’ coach, Daniel (Umberto Orsino), who may have a thing for her. Daniel is just a little too nice if you know what I mean. There’s a young street urchin named Luca that Sara has befriended. He likes to take pictures and shove other boys under when he’s trying to win a match. Sara lives a full life and even has a pet dog named Whiskey. She also keeps a chainsaw in her apartment. Perhaps she makes ice sculptures in her spare time.

Ted meets Sara at the train station at the appointed time in the telegram. He walks right past his wife, but a mysterious stranger points her out to him. She’s furious that he didn’t recognize her. Ted explains that he doesn’t know who he is and she says he’s a dirty rotten bastard. Also, Sara didn’t send the telegram. Ted becomes worried that some bad men set up their meeting.

Whiskey, the dog, is found with his throat slit on Sara’s bed. Who kills a dog? Some real sicko. Turns out the mysterious stranger Ted ran into the train station wants a string of white sausages. Rest assured these aren’t sausages, but tubes filled with pure heroin. Turns out Ted set up a drug deal and now his former partners want his cooperation to finish it. Trouble is Ted doesn’t remember anything about the white sausages or does he. Be sure to watch to get to a rather violent conclusion. You didn’t think the director would introduce a chainsaw early on if he didn’t intend to use it.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

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

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #188: Framing Goodbyes

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #188 by Drew Barth

Framing Goodbyes

How do we remember the ones we love? From the pictures and videos we have saved on our phones, there’s likely an idealized version of them we keep in our memories. Despite everything, when we scroll through those picture or videos, we see the best versions of them. And that’s the version we’d rather remember. And that’s where Tatsuki Fujimoto’s most recent one-shot, Goodbye, Eri, lays: in that intersection of the messy realities of the people we love and the versions of them we try to hold onto after they’re gone.

Goodbye, Eri is Yuta’s story. On his 12th birthday, his parents buy him a smartphone and his mom wants him to video her as much as possible before she dies of the illness she’s been suffering from. Yuta captures hundreds of hours, quickly filling up the phone’s memory and nearly filling his computer with videos of his mother. But the day of her passing, Yuta can’t bring himself to record those final moments. He runs away from the hospital. And it explodes. Or, rather, the hospital explodes in post-production as Yuta has cut these hundreds of hours of video into a movie for his classmates and ends it on his running away. His class is disgusted by this final moment—they lambaste him for turning his mother’s last moments into a cheap fantasy. Except Eri. She wants him to do the same for her, to record every moment of her life before her own illness kills her. 

The twist Fujimoto brings in to all of these recordings is the fiction Eri and Yuta’s mom want people to remember them by. Yuta’s dad took a video of his wife as she was dying and her final words were about how useless Yuta was. We see the other side of the videos that didn’t make it into the final cut—her abuse, her continually criticizing Yuta’s videos of her, her obsession with how these videos will make her look. It’s then less of a surprise that Yuta doesn’t want to film her at the end. He doesn’t want to confront her death, but then he also doesn’t want to give her the ending she wanted and chastised him over for months. For once, he can control the narrative of the moment. Eri does much of the same—removing her glasses and large retainer whenever they shoot video—but at least Yuta’s movie of her didn’t end in an exploding hospital.

Goodbye, Eri, coupled with his earlier one-shot in Look Back, demonstrate Fujimoto’s instinctive ability to understand human nature. We have these versions of those we love and try to keep them intact despite everything else. It’s why we keep so many photos and videos; why we always return to those for comfort and memories; why we can’t give that version of them up despite evidence to the contrary. Memories are fickle, but maybe the comfort we have in an idealized memory is better than the reality we don’t want to confront. 

Get excited. Get comfortable. 

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.

The Perfect Life #47: We’re All Mad Here

The Perfect Life #47 by Dr. Perfect

We’re All Mad Here

Dear Dr. Perfect,

Ever since I saw Bedlam (1946) when I was five, I dreamed of being committed to an asylum. A life free from the stress of how to live seemed like a utopian dream. This impression was later cemented when I was 13 and saw the character Samara in a Psychiatric Facility in the film The Ring (2002).

I’ve tried to self-commit many times, but I haven’t been able to get in. The screening process seems rigged. I feel like my luck is running out.  I can’t be happy without this.  What am I doing wrong in my application process?

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Dear Anonymous,

Our current psychiatric facilities, or what’s left of them, are highly exclusive. They used to throw just about anyone into a padded cell and administer electroshock therapy to children, but all of that’s changed. We’re now living in the age of self-medicated safe spaces and hypersensitive silliness. 

The classic 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest undoubtedly played a part in influencing public opinion against asylums, as did the Ken Kesey novel it was based on. Audiences wept after witnessing Jack Nicholson’s unjust lobotomy at the hands of the evil Nurse Ratched. Public opinion, lack of funding, and the de-stigmatization of mental illness then led to the closure of psychiatric facilities all around the country. Now we have people joyously defecating on sidewalks with impunity. 

I think we need more of these hospitals than ever. I’ve always found straightjackets to look oddly comforting.

Your dreams of being committed to an asylum are understandable. You’d get free medication, and plenty of time to update your social media.

I could benefit from a stay myself, locked away from society in a white robe and slippers. It would be a unique opportunity to finish my memoir, The Importance of Being Perfect. I also have various self-help books to ghost write.

The screening process is rigged against you. My advice would be to try harder. Garden variety crazy isn’t going to cut it. Have you read the latest American Psychiatric Association Manual of Mental Disorders? According to them, we’re all basket cases. 

Fear not, somewhere there’s a padded cell with your name on it. Try walking backwards wherever you go. Wear the same shirt every day. Shave your head and eyebrows. Make up your own language. Think big.

Don’t bring up politics, though. Give yourself a fighting chance.

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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 537: Michael Wheaton!

Episode 537 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 with the writer, publisher, and podcaster, Michael Wheaton.

NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

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 Michael Wheaton’s magazine and press, autofocus.

Check out Rachel Kolman’s farewell reading for her Kerouac Project of Orlando residency.

Next weekend, the Orange County Library in downtown Orlando will be holding a literary expo.

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Episode 537 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 #393: The Girl in Room 2A

The Curator of Schlock #393 by Jeff Shuster

The Girl in Room 2A

Beware of cults!

The Revenging Manta, the self-appointed defender of downtown Orlando, gave me the skinny on the horrific plans of the crime syndicate known as the Iguana Consortium. I can’t go fully into the details. Let’s just say it involved lollipops, fentanyl, a rubber dinosaur suit, and a ferris wheel. Evil was about to be unleashed on the unsuspecting citizens of Orlando. — To be continued.


 

This week’s movie is 1974’s The Girl in Room 2A from director William Rose. That name sounds suspect as the director of another fine Giallo from the land of Italy, but what do I know? Hmmmmm. The Italian name of this movie is La Casa della Paura. Let’s check the IMBD. What’s the name of the director? Carlo Campogalliani? I knew it! I knew It! Oh, wait. It looks like it’s just a movie with the same title that came out in 1921. William Rose it is!

What’s the plot of The Girl in Room 2A? A pretty young woman named Margaret Bradley (Daniela Giordano) is released from a woman’s prison or a rehab facility. I’m not sure which. Point is Margaret has a disturbing past. There’s a scene where she goes into why she was sent to prison in the first place, but I zoned out while she was talking. Maybe I was too distracted by the evil cult kidnapping young women and subjecting them to torture and death.

The movie begins with one such kidnapping. A young blonde woman is knocked unconscious and kidnapped only to later get stripped naked and bound. She does her best to escape the blades that keep trying to slice into her through the walls of the small room she’s tied up in. Eventually, a red caped figure donning a red ski mask unties the blonde woman and shoves her into one of the blades. The corpse of the young woman is then rolled off a cliff. I’m sure the police are quite baffled.

Turns out the young blonde woman stayed in the same room at the same halfway house that Margaret finds herself in. Upon entering her new apartment, Margaret lifts up a small rug to find blood seeping through the floorboards. Margaret finds a washcloth in her bathroom, mops up the blood, places the rug back, and goes about her business. I’m sorry, but if you see a giant swath of blood on the floor of your new residence, get the hell out of there!

In another scene, we get to know the cult a bit better. A Mr. Johnson (Frank Latimore) is doing research on the cult for a book he’s writing, but one of the cult leaders, a Mr. Dreese (Raf Vallone), ain’t having it. He tells Mr. Johnson he won’t allow his group to be exploited just to make Johnson a richer man. Dreese then locks him inside a room on one of the upper floors of the old manor house. Later, some cult members enter the room and force Mr. Johnson to burn his hands on a hot railing near a roaring fireplace.

The torture escalates from there. The guy in the red devil outfit starts stabbing Mr. Johnson with a poker. With nowhere to run, Mr. Johnson jumps out a window, falling to his death. The cult then sticks the corpse of Mr. Johnson in his car and sends it careening off a cliff. Funny enough, the car explodes before it hits the ground. It must have been a Ford Pinto. I can’t help, but think that getting forced to jump out a window by a sadomasochistic cult was just a typical Friday night in 1970s Italy. You can catch The Girl in Room 2A streaming for free on Tubi.


 

Photo by Leslie Salas.

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

Episode 536: Nona Willis Aronowitz!

Episode 536 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 with Nona Willis Aronowitz about sex, feminism, and many other things.

TEXT DISCUSSED

NOTES

Scribophile, the online writing group for serious writers

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.

On Saturday, August 13th at 7:30 PM, Rachel Kolman’s farewell reading will take place at the Kerouac Project of Orlando.

Closer to the end of the month, the Orange County Library in downtown Orlando will be holding a literary expo.

Episode 536 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 #392: Naked Girl Killed in the Park

The Curator of Schlock #392 by Jeff Shuster

Naked Girl Killed in the Park

Was she killed by the house on the edge of the park?

One doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Yes, I’m glad a crazed vigilante known as the Revenging Manta saved me from being beaten to death by a bunch of hooligans. Still, I was a little annoyed I had to foot the bill at the Waffle House. Why couldn’t we go dutch? He said ninjas don’t carry their wallets with them. That’s a load of bull. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but it’s not like I’m floating in cash either after traveling all around the United States and Canada with a kangaroo to take care of. — To be continued.


This week’s giallo masterpiece is 1972’s Naked Girl Killed in the Park from director Alfonso Brescia. This movie also goes by the title Girl Murdered in the Park. That’s what it’s called on Tubi anyway. The top review on the IMBD labels it as an “uninspiring and boring Giallo.” I don’t know. Giallo is like pizza. Even when it’s bad, it’s kind of good. Be forewarned though, the English dub track is badly in need of a remaster. You’ll be struggling to make out what the characters are saying around the hisses, pops, and static.

Our movie begins during the bombing of Berlin toward the end of WW2. A mother and her son are tied up while a Nazi officer rigs a plastic explosive with a timer. A young woman is with him who may be his girlfriend. She almost wants to interfere, but the man takes her with him, leaving the mother and son to a horrible fate. Fast forward to a 1972 Germany where an old man is found exiting a funhouse ride with a bullet in his head. 


The man is Johannes Wanterberger, a wealthy German business man fled to Brazil after the war due to him being a Nazi.  He returned to Germany after he had made his fortune with his lovely wife and two daughters. It also seems that Johannes took out a one millions dollar life insurance policy a couple of hours before he was murdered. The insurance company sends one of their investigators, a handsome young man named Chris Buyer (Robert Hoffman), to investigate the family for foul play. 

This sounds like the plot of last week’s movie, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail. As I watched, I wondered if the murderer would turn out to be the insurance investigator like in last week’s movie. Crap! Spoilers! Sorry! Anyway, Chris poses as a newspaper reporter and seduces Catherine (Pilar Velázquez), the youngest member of the Wanterberger clan. She’s beautiful, but has a weak heart. Unlike her sister, Barbara (Patrizia Adiutori), who is a constant flirt with Chris. I think the mom also makes a pass at him.

Anyway, it turns out Chris is young boy from the Berlin bombing scene at the beginning of the movie. Chris is the illegitimate son of Johannes Wantenberger. His mom must have shielded him from the blast of that plastic explosive and he’s been planning revenge on Johannes Wanternberger all his life. This means that part of his revenge meant sleeping with Wanternberger’s daughters. This means Chris had sex with his half-sisters. I think I’ll stop writing now.

Photo by Leslie Salas

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