The gutless world of McSweeney’s

This is a weak bit of satire. There are no laughs to be had in this piece, merely a few wheezy hee-hee-hee’s. It’s lazy imitation Chandler.  And it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

If you’re going to satirize something, finish it. Go all the fucking way. But that’s not the McSweeney’s/Dave Eggers way, is it? Their version of irony apologizes for itself as it mocks. It doesn’t mock hard. It giggles at itself, mouth hidden behind both hands. It risks nothing and shows us nothing.

If you’re going to be a satirist, you had better be ready not to be liked. But the McSweeney’s bunch all want your smiles and your hugs. They want to share their pecan sandies with you over a glass of lemonade.

This kind of satire changes nothing, sheds light on nothing, because it doesn’t take sides. It isn’t even on the sidelines. It hides beneath the bleachers and whispers, “Are you my special friend? I’ll tell you a joke, but it’s not a good joke and I’m so sorry if it offends you and please won’t you like me anyway?”

Mr. Mike with Knife
Michael O’Donoghue should rise up out of his grave and beat them all to death with a shovel.
So, hmm. How to end this diatribe? Oh, right: Fuck you, McSweeney’s.

On David Lynch’s Art Not Being David Lynch Enough

Six-men-getting-sick-featureSo David Lynch has an art exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. And Ken Johnson at the New York Times has accused it of not being “Lynchian” enough. I’ll let you read more of the argument over at Dangerous Minds:

David Lynch not being Lynchian enough according to New York Times | Dangerous Minds.

My first thought on seeing the headline was “oh shit, that new Twin Peaks is gonna suck.”  But then I read half of the art at the show is stuff he did before he was even a filmmaker.  And looking at the walk-through on youtube makes me think the art critic is full of shit.  Then I remembered all critics are full of shit.  (And I’m a critic too, and so am I.)

Anyway, check out the aforementioned YouTube link.  And for fuck’s sake, if you’re east of the Mississippi, go to this thing; it closes in January.

King Dong and Moron Movies

Do you remember Moron Movies? They were short little 8mm movies that Johnny Carson showed back in the 80s.  Len Cella was the one-man shop that directed, filmed, narrated, and acted in all of these little capsules of absurdism, stuff like Jello Makes A Lousy Doorstop. Just the titles alone were hilarious, like An Exercise to Prevent Fat Ears and Hitler In First Grade.

The Moron Movies were a perfect example of a brief blip of absurdism in the 80s, a time when things like The Far Side and Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts were hilarious capsules of surrealist humor. (I know Deep Thoughts was shown on SNL in the 90s, but it all came from National Lampoon in the 80s.) Cella’s work was the great granddaddy of some of the funny stuff we see on YouTube or Vine, much like how Handey’s work is a direct precursor to some of the best twitter humor.  The Moron Movies are also an amazing demonstration of the DIY ethic, because Cella was banging these things out in his house on a cheap 8mm camera, without any help, and then mailing them off to Carson.

There is an (unfortunately named) documentary short from a couple of years ago called King Dong.  (Be careful of what you click when you search for that.)  It’s on YouTube now, and is worth the 20-some minutes to watch it.  There’s also an old VHS tape that I remember finding at Blockbuster in college and watching at three in the morning, and part of that has also surfaced on YouTube.  It’s all incredibly dated, which makes it perfect.

Johnny Rotten

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. I prefer my truth to be unsullied by facts. But another autobiography by John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten, the hero of my youth)? Count me in! The Guardian has a review ready for your perusal.

What was the home life like, Johnny?

His mother, he says, suffered several miscarriages: “It’s quite a thing to carry a bucket of miscarriage – and you can see the little fingers and things in it – and have to flush it all down the outdoor toilet.”

Any other traumatic experiences?

The most moving passages in the book describe how, at seven, he contracted meningitis (from rats), endured a long coma, and lost most of his memory. “I hadn’t forgotten how to read, yet I couldn’t talk – language was gone,” he says. When his parents came to take him home from hospital, nurses and doctors “told me that they were my mum and dad, and I had to believe them”.

More at the Guardian.

Let the Pynchon deluge begin

Is Thomas Pynchon a recluse?  Is it a myth that Thomas Pynchon is a recluse? Is it a myth that it is a myth that Thomas Pynchon is a recluse? Is it a myth that it is a myth that it is a myth that Thomas Pynchon is a recluse? Is it a myth that it is a myth that it is a myth that it is a myth that Thomas Pynchon is a recluse?

Expect more articles as we get closer to the release of IV right before Christmas, but here’s a new one over at Vice:

Thomas Pynchon and the Myth of the Reclusive Author.

Coming next week: my article on how Is it a myth that it is a myth that it is a myth that it is a myth that it is a myth that Thomas Pynchon is a recluse.

Namedrop-A-Rama

If I had a nickel for every 1980′s/1990′s vintage literary name DARCEY STEINKE drops in this remembrance about BARRY HANNAH, I’d be as wealthy as STEPHEN KING by the end of the article.

Reminds me of the time I was hanging out with LLOYD BRIDGES on the set of Sea Hunt, when JACK WEBB came by to complain about the noise coming from the set of Have Gun Will Travel. GENE RODDENBERRY shouted, “I love you, Lloyd!” and said that he wanted to cast him in a new show he was writing that was tentatively called Wagon Train in Space. We all laughed when a young JEFF BRIDGES performed a little jig…

The Collectors by Nathaniel Tower

All my friends have their own unique methods of tracking the chicks they’ve banged. This one guy, we call him “Pubes,” tapes a lock of each woman’s pubic hair to the wall behind his dresser. He’s got a whole color wheel of pubes back there. Red, black, blonde, brown, gray. If it’s a suitable color for pubic hair, he’s got it in his collection. Hell, he’s even got a rainbow pube lock that looks like he got it straight from one of those clown wigs. We’re not positive he didn’t.

“Pubes” usually trims their pubes right after sex, when the hair is a bit sticky and matted down. He says it helps with the preservation. Sometimes he tapes them up while the woman is still watching. “What are you doing?” she’ll ask. “Preserving,” he says.

If a chick’s got a shaved pussy, he tells her to come back when she’s hit puberty. Surprisingly, most of them come back. Actually, that’s the only time any of his women come back.

This other guy, we call him “Moist Mike,” takes panties from his girls. He keeps them in the top drawer of his dresser. He’s not picky about the type. Thongs, lacey things, bikini briefs, edible ones, split crotches. He even has a pair of XXL white cotton panties that look like they’d fit a bloated beluga whale.

“Moist Mike” says the key to panty collecting is getting them nice and wet before he pulls them off. He likes to rub a chick’s panties really hard before removing them. It traps in that horny vag scent, he says. Usually he gets up from his bed and puts the panties in the drawer before he even bothers to fuck the woman. That’s when they’re the most vulnerable and least likely to say no.

He’s really particular about how the panties are arranged, and he won’t let anyone else open the drawer. On lonely nights, “Moist Mike” opens the dresser, takes a big whiff, and jerks off into a napkin. I’m pretty sure he saves all his semen catchers in another drawer. It’s not like he has much else to put in that big ass dresser.

And me? I collect toenails. I keep them in a jar on my nightstand so I can stare at them while I bang a chick. It helps me get off faster. Every morning I reach inside and fondle the broken shards of toe. It’s the perfect antidote for my morning wood.

It’s a pretty kick ass collection. I keep them in an old pickle jar–slices, not gherkins or spears–that I didn’t really rinse out, which helps prevent fungus from spreading. I have all kinds of colors. A lot more than “Pubes” has taped to his wall or “Moist Mike” has arranged in his drawer, that’s for sure. The orange ones are my favorite. I keep a few extra bottles of nail polish lying around the room in case I don’t like the girl’s color. As soon as she orgasms, I dive under the sheets and start chewing on her toes. They always think I’m going to lick their crotch or some gross shit like that.

Most of the time, a few hard bites will yield something that’s jar-worthy. Other times, I chew until I get the whole nail off. Most of the girls don’t fuss about it too much. I almost always use a numbing agent before I start nibbling. Occasionally, a woman will kick me in the face, but it’s more reflex than anything else.

Last night this woman had magenta toes. That’s right. Fucking magenta. I thought for a minute I was in love. After chomping on her delicious tootsies, the damn jar is almost full. I don’t really want to start another one, so I might go through my collection and get rid of the ones I don’t like that much anymore. The crescent moon shaped nails sort of give me the creeps when I’m rubbing them on my body. It’s going to be hard to get rid of any though. They each have their own charm.

My dad kept dozens of pickle jars full of nails and screws and other shit in his garage. That’s where I got the idea. He loved building shit, but I never really had a knack for anything handy.

I think my old man would be proud if he could see my collection now.

Nathaniel Tower is a former English teacher who now spends his days at a computer. When not at work, he writes fiction and manages the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. If he’s not writing or editing, he’s either spending time with his wife and daughter, listening to records, or going for long runs while juggling. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Million Writers Award. His first collection of short fiction, “Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands,” was released in 2014 by Martian Lit. Visit him at nathanieltower.wordpress.com