Episode 474: Nat Segaloff and Thomas Warming!

Episode 474 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).

In this week’s show, I talk to Nat Segaloff and Thomas Warming about writing for and about Hollywood.

Nat Segaloff photographed by J.B. Lahmani.

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 474 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 #356: Dead or Alive: Finale

The Curator of Schlock #356 by Jeff Shuster

Dead or Alive: Finale

This one don’t make no sense.

I met a swarthy gentleman at a bar called The Grizzled Grizzly near the Canadian border. His name is Jacque Baptiste and he says he’ll get me across the Canadian border if I’ll have Edwige, my kangaroo companion, compete in a street fight. Now I’m sure there’s an ethical dilemma here, but I also have those poor people in Saskatchewan to think about. Sometimes you have to make the hard choices.

Tonight’s Arrow Home Video release is 2002’s Dead or Alive: Final from director Takashi Miike. I don’t know if I can call it a film as it was shot on digital video. Arrow Video issued a statement that they cleaned it up as best they could, but this movie was shot in standard definition and standard definition ain’t high definition.

This movie takes place in the city of Yokohama in the year 2346. That’s the far future! There’s even this weird blimp flying over the city that looks like a flying fish or dragon. We never see it again, but it’s one of those wow effects that’s supposed to suspend my disbelief that this is Yokohama in the year 2346.

This is a bad future. The mayor of Yokohama forces all of the citizens to take birth control pills in an effort to not repeat the mistakes of the past. You see, there was a cataclysmic war that nearly destroyed civilization. I guess by preventing people from having children, you can prevent future wars from happening as there will no longer be anyone to actually carry them out. Still, some pesky citizens still insist on procreating.

A resistance has formed for those that still want to have babies. And it is up to the police to stop this resistance. Leading the charge against them is Officer Takeshi Honda (Riki Takeuchi). Helping the resistance is a rogue replicant named Ryō (Show Aikawa). What is a replicant you may ask? It’s a robot created before the great cataclysm. They are very sophisticated and can pass for regular people except they have super powers. For instance, Ryō can catch a speeding bullet in his hands and send it flying back to his opponent.

Later, we learn that Officer Honda is also a replicant. So are his beautiful wife and young son. His whole life has been a lie. We get a huge showdown between Honda and Ryō and get treated to some flashbacks of the first two Dead or Alive movies. And then the two replicants morph into a huge robot that resembles a part of the male anatomy that I won’t mention here. I think the idea is that they will confront the mayor, but the movie just kind of ends.

I can’t figure out if I’m suffering from an extreme form of culture shock or if Takashi Miike is just that weird a dude. I hear he’s currently in charge of a TV show about magical school girls so I guess he’s gone the family-friendly route. The Arrow Blu-rays are chock full of special features including commentary tracks by critic Tom Men. He’s from Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Okay. That’s all I’ve got. Time to dunk my head in a bathtub full of ice water and scream.


Photo by Leslie Salas

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

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #124: Banned

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #124: Banned

I mentioned last week how important it is to have stories from different points in history that, in the west, are relatively unknown. There are a wealth of stories around the world from different points of time that end up buried under our own history. But comics are helping to illuminate those parts of the past. As Henry Kiyama shone a light on the experiences of Japanese immigrants in San Francisco at the turn of the century, more recent creators like Kim Hyun Sook, Ko Hyung-Ju, and Ryan Estrada present to us Banned Book Club and its look at living under a military regime in 1980s South Korea. 

Centered on Kim Hyun Sook’s personal experience in the early 80s, we’re given not only a look at how things were in South Korea at the time, we’re also given Sook’s own growth from her time entering college to now. In the beginning, Sook was relatively neutral—not exactly on the side of the students protesting the president, but not against them either. This is, of course, before she’s invited to a book club that reads various pieces of literature that have been banned by the ruling regime. This one moment would go on to shape the rest of Sook’s life as the book club leads to “movie nights” showing foreign news reports of what has really been happening in South Korea, university newspapers that act as a front to a more secret newspaper, and clubs that help organize protests and disseminating information to other colleges.

Sook, Estrada, and Huyng-Ju’s work on Banned Book Club is also something that we can be immediately connected to.It’s one of the reasons that graphic memoirs of these stories are so important—not only do we as an audience have that more visceral connection to the story, but it opens up that potential audience to a much wider group. There is an accessibility with comics as its interplay of images and words can lead to a greater understanding of the story. Everything in Banned Book Club, from its depiction of protests past and current to how Sook herself navigated through this time despite the potential for danger, helps to draw the reader in as we empathize more fully with their struggles. And this is what the comic does so well with its story—while these are old struggles under different circumstances, they’re struggles we can still connect to in a modern context.

History is a strange thing, but luckily we have comics like Banned Book Club to show us more of what we don’t know about the past. Going into this graphic memoir, I knew very little about South Korea in the 80s, less so the machinations of its ruling regime and the effort of its citizens to stand against it. It’s why these stories matter as much as they do—without that ability to connect and empathize with people, we simply don’t see their struggles.

Get excited. Get together.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

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 Perfect Life #16: Rockford Filing

The Perfect Life #16 by Dr. Perfect

Rockford Filing

Dear Dr. Perfect,

What is your favorite episode of “The Rockford Files?” I need to know for my dissertation in American Studies.

Gratefully,

Dissertating from the Midwest

——————————–

Dear Dissertator,

I’m surprised that I don’t get more letters about The Rockford Files. My favorite episode would have to be when Rockford was hot on the case of the Grim Reaper, a slasher terrorizing the streets of NYC.

Sorry, that’s the wrong 70’s detective drama. I was thinking of “Kojak.” I meant to reference the thrilling caper involving the disappearance of a wealthy socialite on the eve of her wedding. In “Lover’s Beware,” all signs point to a jealous ex who also happens to be the Governor’s son. No, that was an episode of Columbo!

Understand that I was raised on so many of these shows, they sometimes overlap. In addition to The Rockford Files, Kojak, and Columbo, we had Hawaii Five-O, Cagney and Lacey, Remington Steele, Magnum P.I., Murder She Wrote, and several others. Who can forget the disheveled Peter Falk, or the thickness of Tom Selleck’s mustache? The seventies and eighties were classic television. Back then, we had one TV, three networks, and lots of crack cocaine.

My grandmother was a big fan of Murder She Wrote and would often have it on when family visited. She even wrote her own fan fiction teleplays and asked for my feedback. In reading them, I think she missed the point of the show. Angela Lansbury’s character, mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher, doesn’t actually commit the murders herself; she solves them. My grandmother’s stories always centered around the Fletcher character killing all of those who wronged her and then writing about it. There was the landlord, the loud neighbor, the rude parking attendant, and even her coach potato husband before Fletcher was “widowed.” My grandmother described her reimagining as intentional and said that the series would fare much better if Fletcher was revealed to be the murderer at the end of each episode.

Maybe she was right.

Robert Urich himself came to me in a dream, fresh from his success as the titular P.I. in Spenser: For Hire, and told me that no detective show was better than Mannix. I told him that I must have missed that show because it didn’t ring a bell. Urich then said, “Well, what about Charlie’s Angels?” I asked, “Are they detectives or what?” I always thought they were secret agents. That’s when his alpaca took out a chainsaw.

Thanks to your letter, I’m now consumed with TV detective nostalgia. All the various theme songs, old hair styles, plaid suits, and freeze frame credits are coming back to me. I’ll need to walk this off. The answer to your questions lies somewhere between the episode about the jewel thief or the one about the insurance fraudster. Did Rockford ride a horse, or am I thinking of Maverick?


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

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #31

The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #31

Transcribed by a reluctant DMETRI KAKMI

23 May 2021

Because I am a style icon and the most startlingly beautiful proud binary cis-man in the known universe, I am often asked for diet and beauty tips, especially by freaks and aliens. And the occasional dictator. The following questionnaire was completed for the planet Upsilon Andromedae’s version of Vogue magazine, Tshoerveuamntyi. All beauty products mentioned are tested on humans and within the price range of the normal every-day reader.

What I’m loving right now—I’m obsessed with skin dehydration, so I’m excited to see what impact Voila Glow Suction Complex (voila.com, $50,000), a new ingestible serum made from babies aborted during a full moon at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, will have on my skin. It’s such a clever idea.

Beauty icon— North Koran dictator Kim Jung-un has such classic spare elegance that looks effortless. Loving the flat-top hair. Very Grace Jones.

The rule I live by— I practice a little-known version of Tibetan Buddhism invented by a radical Muslim cleric in Deer Park, Melbourne, and the following holy script has always resonated with me: ‘You are a sack of shit. Keep that in mind next time I come by.’

Top self-care tip—Don’t wear sunscreen, especially if you live in Australia. Cancer and liver spots add to your allure. Add a couple of drops of good quality oil of wild boar to your moisturiser when you need it. Dehydrated skin is sexy skin.

Top tip for halitosis—Consuming a tin of sardines mixed with garlic, harzer cheese, stinky tofu and durian will keep the world well and truly at bay. Perfect for drawing attention to yourself!

Must have product—Melan from Chernobyl 130 Pigment Control (glowbeauty.com, $300,000) is a brilliant, affordable formula not only for that glow-in-the-dark look but also for a great finish. It gets me a lot of comments every time I wear it.

Favorite color—I love the calmness and openness of puce, but my favorite color for nails is chartreuse for its daring, seductive, sexy wearability.

Never leave the house without—Dragomir Lip Glow Oil (selina.com, $650,000). It feels like a treatment but leaves slight sheen and a perfect tint — magic!

On a Plate:

7.45 am. Homemade bircher muesli (soaked overnight in the blood of tortured Uighurs), macadamia soaked in jus of Goliath beetles with raspberries, mango, and manuka honey, plus seasonal fruit picked just for me by les enfants dans Afrique. Plus a smoothie made from the tears of abandoned teenage mothers, with a probiotic.

9.10 am. A triple-shot vodka Affogato, one of my many vices!

Noon. Leftovers from dinner—any endangered fish and veggie stir fry with glass noodles, topped with peanut butter miso, fried shallots and Kewpie mayonnaise.

6 pm. A chicken curry sent to me directly from Covid-infected India because I believe in supporting the sick and needy. I add onions, spinach, and grated sweet potato from the Himalayas and I serve it with roti, tomato, spring onion, mango chutney and extra virgin peanut oil pressed by Chinese communists on labor camps.

10 pm. Organic cacao des Incas passed through the digestive tract of an ancient Peruvian princess. The perfect nightcap.

Helpful dietary hint: I recommend adding plenty of salt to everything you eat, even desserts. High salt intake results in fluctuations in the inner ear fluid pressure and will increase your symptoms, giving you that delightful wonky Beatrice Dalle look from her generation-defining role in Betty Blue.

The above dietary advice comes with a caveat. Since I do not actually consume anything other than gin and cigarettes, I prepare all of the above and then toss it out the window to the homeless gathered beneath my exclusive penthouse, like so many ravenous zombies in a post-apocalyptic film. I am, as you see, very socially minded. Diversity and inclusivity are second nature pour moi.

Oh, Banu, peel me a goji berry, there’s good fellow.

Moi privilégié? Non, non, non…

À bientôt, mes amies.


The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker and a Greek bear wrestler. He is currently stateless and lives on gin and cigarettes.

Dmetri Kakmi is the author of Mother Land (shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia), and the editor of When We Were Young. His latest book is The Door and Other Uncanny Tales. He does not endorse the Sozzled Scribbler’s views.

Episode 473: A Discussion of Tom Waits’s Swordfishtrombones with Stephen McClurg!

Episode 473 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).

In this week’s show, I bring music blogger Stephen McClurg aboard as we talk about one of the most transformative, dramatic, atmospheric, strange, American pastoral phantasmagorical musical albums of all time, Tom Waits’s Swordfishtrombones (1983).

TEXTS DISCUSSED


Episode 473 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 #355: Dead or Alive 2

The Curator of Schlock #355 by Jeff Shuster

Dead or Alive 2: Birds

Gas shortage! Gas shortage! Everyone’s losing their shit over the gas shortage. I still have to figure out a way to get across the Canadian border with my unvaccinated self and my kangaroo compadre. Still, I lucked out. I found a gas station with plenty of diesel so I filled up about six Hefty trash bags to the brim and tied them up as best I could. They’re in the truck with the canning equipment. They should last me as I drive around aimlessly trying to figure out my next step.

This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 2000’s Dead or Alive 2: Birds from director Takashi Miike. If you were hoping for a direct followup to Miike’s Dead or Alive, you’ll be disappointed, especially since the last movie ended with what looked like a world-ending disaster.  No, Dead or Alive 2: Birds is a standalone story. The only thing it has in common with Dead or Alive is its stars, Riki Takeuchi and Show Aikawa.

Okay. This seems to start out as another one of those Yakuza versus Triad deals. A low level assassin named Miyuki gets hired to assassinate an officer in a Triad gang…or was it a Yakuza gang? Same difference. As Miyuki sets up the shot, another assassin named Shuuichi kills his target. Miyuki still collects the money and runs before they figure out he wasn’t the actual assassin.

Miyuki takes a boat ride and gobbles down a noodle bowl while reminiscing about his childhood. Seems that he and his friends always saved the tofu at the bottom of the bowl for last. They would eat the tofu quickly at the count of three. Maybe it’s around then that he figures out that Shuu was his close childhood friend from the orphanage they grew up in. The two assassins meet each other again and they decide to take a trip to the island where they grew up. They visit the orphanage and stay with another mutual friend, Kohei and his pregnant wife.

And then the two assassins decide to help out with a children’s play for the locals. What? The play is about a lion in the jungle that subsists on chocolate and bananas. The lion runs into other animals, but there’s an eccentric tortoise that threatens the harmony of the group. I thought I was watching a movie about hardcore assassins and now I’m being subjected to some bad community theater.

Interspersed with segments from the children’s play are violent gang slayings in the newly unfolding war between the Yakuza and the Triads. Oh, and I think it’s revealed that Miyuki and Shuu aren’t really human. I think they’re either extraterrestrials or fallen angels. You see, feathered wings keep poking out of their back. They also make a point of sharing their assassination fees to help impoverished people in Africa. I guess that’s a sort of moral justification. If you kill criminals for money, but then use that money to help out the poor and oppressed, is it really evil? I think I’m getting a headache just thinking about the moral complications. That or it’s the gas fumes. Maybe a cigarette will calm me down. Where did I put my lighter?


Photo by Leslie Salas.

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

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #123: Looking Through History

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #123 by Drew Barth

Looking Through History

The true start of comics and graphic novels is a contentious subject. Depending on who you ask, the idea of the graphic novel didn’t until begin until 1978 with Will Eisner’s A Contract with God. Others would contend it can go back as far as 1828 with The Adventures of Obidiah Oldbuck by Rodolphe Töpffer or some of the woodcut work in the 1920s. Even still, if we’re talking about comics in the form we recognize today—panels arranged chronologically with dialog in bubbles—one of the first examples of what could be called a “graphic novel” actually came about in 1931 as a graphic memoir. This is where The Four Immigrants Manga by Henry (Yoshitaka) Kiyama, and translated in 1998 by Frederick L. Schodt, comes into comics history.

Written over a period of twenty years, The Four Immigrants Mangachronicles Kiyama’s experience as an immigrant in San Francisco at the turn of the previous century. Following four Japanese immigrants who have taken on American names—Henry, Charlie, Frank, and Fred—we see much of their lives over the course of twenty years. While the Henry of the story is Henry Kiyama the writer, the bulk of the story instead follows Charlie through much of his life. Between day laboring and acting as house servants, we’re given an intimate look at Japanese immigrant life at the turn of the century. Much of what we see here is either pulled from Kiyama’s own experience, experiences of his friends at the time, or the stories he would hear from others.

Besides being a twenty-year look at the Japanese immigrant experience in the early 1900s, Kiyama also provides a snapshot of comics culture in the US at the time. One of this main goals in creating this manga was to emulate American styles of comics—most notably newspaper comic strips. From the left-to-right panel and word order to the usage of speech bubbles, Kiyama created a series of comic pages that encapsulated American comics, along with their caricatures and prejudices, at the time. And that these pages stretch from the turn of the century through prohibition, World War I, and the San Francisco earthquake allows us to see how Kiyama’s life as an immigrant had evolved through the decades, or, rather, how little things would still change for him at the time.

As I had mentioned in a previous article going over The Swamp by Yoshiharu Tsuge, there are pockets of comics the world over that tell a comic history that has nearly been lost to us over the decades. The Four Immigrants Manga might have gone untranslated for many more decades if Schodt hadn’t remembered seeing the volume at a university library in the 80s. These kinds of deep dives into libraries have become more and more necessary as comics grows as a medium—the stories still hidden in obscure catalogs are just waiting for someone to come by and rewrite what we know about the history of comics.

Get excited. Get historical.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

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 Perfect Life #15: The Snyder-verse and Virility

The Perfect Life #15 by Dr. Perfect

The Snyder-verse and Virility

Dear Dr. Perfect,

Why won’t more people realize that Zack Snyder’s vision was vindicated with the Snyder cut of Justice League? Has there ever been a better 4-hour movie? When will Kevin Feige hire Snyder to direct all the new Avengers films? And when will Snyder be given his own Star Wars trilogy? When will Hollywood realize that every movie would be better if directed by Zack Snyder? And when will my erection go down.

Sincerely,

Someone who is not Zack Snyder, I promise

——————————–

Dear Anonymous,

I think we both know that you are probably Zack Snyder. I don’t have the energy to argue with Hollywood directors. You have unleashed a litany of questions as seemingly indulgent and overblown as any of Snyder’s forays into comic book moviemaking. I’m no movie critic, but enough is enough.

When I first heard people reference MCU or DCEU, I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. My ten-year-old nephew then informed me that it stands for Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe. This allows for an unending assembly line of big-budget superhero franchises for generations to come. We could all be so lucky. They’re never going to stop making these movies. The nerds have taken over. They run our social media big tech monopolies and just about every facet of entertainment left out there. They’ve been waiting for this moment since their first middle school wedgie, and now we’re all going to pay.

 The last movie I saw in theaters was 2019’s Cats. I confused Andrew Lloyd Webber with Steven Sondheim, costing me two and a half hours I’ll never get back. This so-called musical was one purrfect steaming turd that should have been buried in its own litter box for good. Take that, Cats.

We grow older, time moves faster, and before we know it, we’re elderly and infirm. Most of us become wiser, and it’s never too late to reach for our dreams. The baby boomers, of which I am a part of, have taught this lesson, along with how to destroy society over a matter of decades. We’ve come a long way since the roaring fifties, screeching sixties, and sloppy seventies, and it’ll soon be time to pass the torch onto the next schlubs we’ve saddled with massive national debt.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League makes Sergio Leone’s extended cut of “Once Upon a Time in America” seem about the length of a Seinfeld episode. Fortunately, I was able to stream Justice League in the comfort of my own bomb shelter using my Mom’s HBO Max account. She doesn’t have an issue with it, and neither should you. It took me nearly a millennium to finish, given my busy schedule of life advice and general heroism, but I finally saw every actor working in Hollywood today in the same movie. This speaks to Snyder’s innate ability to stuff a flick with more plot, CGI, and slow-motion overkill than necessary.

For instance, in 2009, I caught a matinee showing of Watchmen, half expecting a lighthearted action romp. The biggest gripe I have with Snyder’s pretentious pseudo-intellectual movie is the use of the most clichéd classic rock songs in the most clichéd manner possible. Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” coupled over a time montage? Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence” played over a funeral procession scene? Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” playing during a sex scene? And let us not forget the gratuitous use of Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” cover for a loose connection to men who watch or something. New rule for filmmakers: you’re not permitted to use any song that was already played in Forrest Gump.

300 wasn’t worth all the hype, either.

For these reasons and more, Zack Snyder is the perfect choice to direct all the new Avengers films. He’d make a wonderful addition to the next Star Wars Trilogy as well, because frankly, I’ve had enough of J.J. Spielberg’s feverish hackery. Marvel and DC should combine as one under the watchful eye of our Disney overlords, fresh from purchasing Warner Bros. Only then can we start getting the Snyder films we deserve.

Most multimillion-dollar Hollywood films these days are the result of committees. These suits know the score and how to mine the well of nostalgic fanfare for audiences young and old, except that they mostly don’t. Snyder has a bright future ahead. I’d compliment him more if only he’d considered the spec script I tossed over the gate of his Pasadena mansion three years ago. I was optimistic. My story was about a time-traveling advice columnist superhero assassin on assignment in Russia during the Cold War. I have yet to hear back from him, and until I do, Snyder is dead to me.

And go to the ER, Anonymous.


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 472: Spencer Huffman!

Episode 472 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).

In this week’s show, I talk to the spring 2021 resident of The Kerouac Project of Orlando, playwright Spencer Huffman.

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 472 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).