The holidays are here. Time to buy presents for your friends who read books. I got all your needs met. Let's start with a double-shot of Tech Noir. Switchblade Magazine came up with this project and ended up with an overflow of great stories. Editor Scotch Rutherford split the stories into two camps and sent one over to Pulp Modern. The result is the best thing since Marvel Team Up. You need both issues. If you're an Alec Cizak fan (and, by the way, thanks if you are!), you need both issues. I put together the editorial talent responsible for the PM issue and I have a story called "Post-Biological Stress Disorder" in the Switchblade edition. Get them both. Read them. And review them.
If you didn't get the memo, ABC Group Documentation published a collection of my horror stories (weird fiction is the more appropriate term, but outside of the pulp fiction community, few people know that term) called Lake Count Incidents. It's gotten great reviews so far. It's worth reading, trust me. It has some adult material, but nothing gratuitous.
If you missed Pulp Modern, Volume Two, Issue Four, shame on you. Both PM issues released this year were fully illustrated. Folks are picking up on the fact that this is a stellar issue. Buy it. Read it. Review it.
I also had short stories in Tough 2 and Switchblade #11. These two journals
have taken over as the premiere crime fiction journals of the contemporary age. As a side note, the original All Due Respect blog is making a comeback thanks to Chris Rhatigan and David Nemeth. That means there will be three solid markets for crime fiction writers (and they all pay).
Remember: You could spend your hard-earned Christmas money on corporate-approved fiction that takes NO chances. You could read the same thing, manufactured over and over again, just given a slightly different title and a slightly different cover, and feel safe and comfortable because you know there won't be any surprises, won't be anything that challenges the worldview the corporate media has pounded into your head and convinced you reflects your actual opinions and experiences...OR, you can read something that will remind you you're alive because it will shock you, offend you, rock you right out of your safe space and send your pulse into hyper-drive. Independent fiction like the journals mentioned here are the last gasp of free expression. No other medium is working as hard to challenge the status quo. And if art doesn't challenge the status quo, what the fuck is the point?
If you haven't checked out the submission guidelines at the Uncle B. Publications website, you may not be aware I am editing a charity anthology titled NAPTOWN NOIR. The proceeds will go to the Indiana Literacy Association. It is my belief that nothing liberates like literacy. With few exceptions, I can't think of a more important social cause.
For those who don't know, Naptown is the nickname jazz artists gave to Indianapolis in the 1930s and 40s, when America's music still ruled the world. Indianapolis was a major stopover between the South and Chicago. Near what is now MLK and Indiana Avenue, a thriving jazz scene existed during this period. All the greats stopped in Indy and played there. As the country turned its back on jazz in favor of the more simplistic rock and roll sounds hustled to the youth, the jazz scene in Indy, and the rest of the country, for that matter, died down. By the way, Indy does have a wonderful jazz club today near Broad Ripple. It's called the Jazz Kitchen and I suggest a visit should you spend any time in Indianapolis.
So, what am I looking for? I am not interested in stories filled with gratuitous violence, sex, or foul language. It's not that there isn't a place for such things in crime fiction, this just happens to not be such a place. Remember the old James Cain novellas, how he flew very adult topics in just under the radar? That's what I'd like to see. I am not interested in mysteries, whodunnits, or police procedurals. I am looking for CRIME FICTION. Think Jim Thompson or Elmore Leonard. I am also not looking for stories beating readers over the head with some sort of message (even if I myself am often guilty of doing so!).
Finally, there must be an Indianapolis element of the story that demonstrates the writers knows Indy well. You don't have to be from Indianapolis, but you certainly need to study the town and its history. I will spot a Chicago or L.A. story 'fixed' to sound like a Naptown story from a mile away. Do your homework.
I look forward to reading submissions as they arrive.
The special edition of Pulp Modern, Tech Noir, is now available on Kindle from Amazon. Don't forget to buy the companion issue from Switchblade (it started as a Switchblade project that Pulp Modern eventually got involved with). The Pulp Modern issue features unbelievable art by Ran Scott and, as always, outstanding art direction by Richard Krauss.
As previously mentioned, Lake County Incidents is available in both print and kindle editions. This is my contribution to the great line of horror anthologies that influence me, including Dark Forces, King's Night Shift, Bierce's Can Such Things Be?, and Campbell's Alone with the Horrors (contains some of the scariest f'ing stories ever written). Most of the stories in this book were written after Scott Parker shamed me a bit on social media, saying he'd never written anything that couldn't appear on television. I took that as a challenge to write stories that pack the same punch my noir stories do, only without the excessive profanity you'll find in my crime fiction. I like the idea of flying challenging ideas under the radar like that. This is a book meant to be enjoyed by anyone from about 14 to 104 years old.
Some of you may have noticed an announcement regarding Uncle B. Publications moving into the field of book publishing. Here are some projects lined up for the next year or so:
David Cranmer and I have been discussing putting together a single volume of all the Drifter Detective novellas and stories. Look for that to be one of the first non-Pulp Modern releases from Uncle B.
I'm working on a collection of novellas with a couple of other writers from Los Angeles. Don't want to give too much away, but my contribution to that volume could never be shown on television...
I will be putting together a Naptown Noir anthology of crime stories that take place in my hometown, Indianapolis. Proceeds will go to an Indiana literacy charity.
I will also be putting together two rock and roll anthologies -- one will be a collection of stories inspired by the music of David Bowie. The other will be called Now There Was a Story!, in which the songs on the Johnny Cash album, Now There Was Song!, are turned into stories. Those will also be charity volumes, the charities as of yet to be determined.
If any of these anthology projects sound interesting to you, contact me and we'll talk further.
William Wallace was a big supporter of my work. I contributed a story to the charity anthology Deadlines: A Tribute Anthology called "Las Vegas Foot Massage." There are many familiar names in this anthology (if you're down with the underground, that is). It's sitting there on Amazon with no reviews and that's truly criminal. Open your wallet for a good cause, read the book, and leave a review.
I'm pleased to have my flash fiction piece "Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaires" at Flash Fiction Offensive. Thanks to Jesse, Beau, Jim, and Mick (and anyone else involved) for keeping that site running.
First of all, in case you missed the news, Pulp Modern has returned:
Despite the best efforts of the feds and corporate publishing stooges to prevent it from happening, Pulp Modern returns with a vengeance. Featuring brand new fiction by Rex Weiner, Russell Thayer, C.W. Blackwell, Albert Tucher, Matthew X. Gomez, Scott Forbes Crawford, Adam S. Furman, Adam S. House, and S. Craig Renfroe Jr. Issue four marks a return to Pulp Modern's roots with original illustrations by Ran Scott, Alfred Klosterman, Dan W. Taylor, Rick McCollum, and Brian Buniak. The stories begin with a wild L.A. trip courtesy Rex Weiner, the man responsible for Ford Fairlane, and travel the gamut of crime before shifting to sword and sorcery, science fiction, and closing with a pair of brutal rural horror stories. Get a glimpse of the future of genre fiction, get a copy of the latest edition of Pulp Modern. Edited, as always, by Alec Cizak and designed by Richard Krauss and featuring the cartooning genius of Bob Vojtko.
As if today weren't awesome enough, here's the big cover reveal for my collection of horror stories, Lake County Incidents, to be released real soon by ABC Group Documentation:
Summer's here and the time is right for readin' in the streets!
Remember to read and review these books on Amazon so this fucking movement gets to where it needs to be!
I've got some nice publishing notices I'll reveal more about in the near future. I've also got a collection of weird fiction coming soon called Lake County Incidents. The stories take place in three small towns I invented that sit in northern Indiana, just below Gary. Should be here just in time for your summer reading pleasure (and nightmares).
I've been working for nearly a year and a half on the final book in the accidental trilogy that started with Down on the Street and continued with Breaking Glass. Not sure why the last book has taken so long, but the good news is I finished the rough draft and will begin with the wonderful work of revising it when summer starts.
One of the things I do to keep my writing skills sharp is write flash fiction pieces that force me to consider what's actually important in a story. I just had a piece published over at Flash Fiction Offensive called "Progress." I feel it's the kind of story that would have given Hitchcock a nice chuckle. Many thanks to Jesse, Beau, and Jim, the editors at FFO, for making sure this excellent venue continues. There are certain places I will always enjoy sending work to, and FFO is one of them.
Shouldn't take you but a second to read and if you've got what uptight, polite society calls a sick sense of humor, you should enjoy it.
Been a long time. For those of you desperate to know what's going on in the life of a super-duper underground writer, here's an update:
December, 2018: Due to work reasons, had to move from Montana back to Florida. Packed up everything into a U-haul trailer and drove with my (then) girlfriend across the country, experiencing a delightful variety of dangerous road conditions. It was quite an adventure. I was grateful not to be alone for the journey.
Just before heading to my hometown, Indianapolis, for Christmas, I got word that a woman helping me search for my biological parents had tracked down my biological father. Quite astounding. I met him and two of my step-sisters while in Indy. Very amazing to meet my genetic tribe.
Shortly after returning to Florida (on Valentine's Day, to be exact), I proposed to my girlfriend on the beach and she said yes. We got married fourteen days later.
As for writing and publishing, at some point here my collection of macabre stories, Lake County Incidents, should be available from ABC Group Documentation.
Richard Krauss and I continue making improvements to Pulp Modern. The next issue is being slowly built, month by month, with single-day submission windows. We're working with a few artists to bring original artwork to the journal. If you haven't been around to visit Pulp Modern lately, now's the time to correct that. Issue four should be available in the summer.
I'm putting the finishing touches on the rough draft to the final book in the "Unholy Trilogy," this time featuring the title of a song from my favorite Lou Reed-associated work, the unbelievable Velvet Underground record Loaded (hipsters probably hate this record, I think it's fucking brilliant. Not one bad song from beginning to end. The older I get, the closer that record inches to the number one spot on my Top 10 Records of All Time list). Unlike Breaking Glass, this book is a bit of a return to the hardboiled style of Down on the Street. It's got some Magical Realism going on and, thanks to Bob Kraft's Excellent Adventures at a Florida massage parlor, has become rather topical. It probably won't be available for at least another year, though.
I'll have some short story and flash fiction publication announcements to make soon. In April, for instance, I'll be at Flash Fiction Offensive with a nasty little piece called "Progress."
After a long battle with createspace, Pulp Modern Volume Two Issue Three is finally available in print. Maybe I'm paranoid (i.e., Having all the facts, according to the late William Burroughs), but it's awful strange an issue that begins with a plea for people to understand and defend freedom of speech would not only get harassed by the gatekeepers at createspace and amazon, but would, out of the blue, warrant the IRS to suddenly look into my taxes. I make about 11,000 dollars a year (thanks, higher education!). I'm living in extreme poverty. Why the fuck is the IRS wasting your tax dollars looking into mine? It's because our corporate overlords are scared shitless of free speech. If they can convince the status quo that free speech is some nefarious right wing practice, they can do what they want to the masses without fear of criticism or, more importantly, retaliation.
Just a reminder -- my novel BREAKING GLASS is now available. Twice it's been compared to work by Hubert Selby Jr. While it is a bit depressing, my accidental sense of humor, hopefully, will help you get through the book (and, in an odd way, I think the book is uplifting -- no matter what you may think of the end, it does represent a positive, empowering change in the life of the protagonist, Down on the Street's Chelsea Farmer).
Your chance to see/hear me live is coming up in several places. I'll be reading at Shakespeare and Co. this coming Wednesday at 7pm. Scotch Rutherford, the man responsible forSwitchblade magazine, tells me he's set up a reading I'll be participating in a reading on September 27 in Los Angeles at the Fremont library branch (which is perfect -- when I still lived in L.A., I was able to read the bulk of Jim Thompson's books because the L.A. library system is amazing). And, if you haven't seen the ads for it, I'll be hosting a Noir @ the Bar in Missoula on October 11.
Well, it's been a long journey, but Breaking Glass is now available for sale. The book picks up a year after the events of Down on the Street, following the journey of Chelsea Farmer as she attempts to climb out of hell and take control of her own life. It takes place during the summer of 2016, in the heat of that awful election, which constantly lurks in the background of Chelsea's world.
Breaking Glass is the third full-on novel I've written and the first to actually be published. I wrote it during the first half of 2017 and finished it just before the #metoo movement started, which was a happy accident (well, not happy for anyone groped, fondled, or otherwise abused by powerful people).
I hope you buy, read, and review the book. Even if you don't like it, still review it and tell people what you didn't like about it (there's been some talk lately about negative reviews -- every writer knows what's wrong with his or her work, so if the reviewer is honest and is pointing out genuine problems with a book, there's no reason anyone should be upset with a negative review).
In the meantime, take a look at my story over at Tough.
Been a long time. Here's some shit you may need to know to keep up with your Alec Cizak fandom:
Sad news from the Freedom of Speech front -- Some of you may know I host a radio show called Drive-in Radio on Tuesday nights on a college station in Missoula. Well, I started a talk show for Friday mornings in the beginning of this year. I co-hosted the show with my girlfriend and another DJ who hosts a punk rock show on Friday nights. We talked about politics and popular culture and learned very quickly that for every possible thing you can say on the radio, there's at least one moron out there who will get offended by it. The show was stalked by self-righteous indignation junkies from the beginning and finally, a few weeks ago, the outrage addicts won the battle and the students in charge of the radio station banned the morning show. Ironically, the show that compelled them to go ahead and trample our First Amendment rights was a show about...wait for it...wait for it... Freedom of Speech! You can't make this stuff up, folks!
In better news, Breaking Glass, my first full-fledged novel to be actually published is coming very soon (probably late July / early August). Breaking Glass tells the story of what happened to Chelsea Farmer after her ordeal in Down on the Street. Please spread the word, read the book, and leave a review at Amazon.
Pulp Modern, volume two, issue three, should be available by the beginning of July.
If you can't wait to get your Alec Cizak fix, you may check out the following journals, which recently published short stories of mine:
Switchblade Magazine, which is quickly filling the void left by the absent Thuglit, published a very nasty story of mine called "Nasty Habits." This story deals with a subject most journals won't go near. That's, of course, what makes the underground scene so vital. Buy the journal. Read it. Review it.
Just this week, Horror Bites, a journal available on kindle only, published a weird fiction story of mine called "Broke." Buy it. Read it. Review it.
In the coming months I'll have a story at EconoClash Review and a few other places.
ALSO: ABC Group Documentation will publish a collection of my weird fiction later this year called Lake County Incidents. If you like your horror refined and thought-provoking, this one'll be your huckleberry!
Grant Jerkins is what a literary writer should be: An alchemist of empathy. The short stories in this collection introduce us to characters we know exist all around us, and, in some cases, characters who reflect exactly who WE are. There's the woman embarrassed by having to pay for groceries with her EBT card, parents dealing with the horror of a child in danger of dying from disease, a quiet pervert whose inability to communicate in a "normal" manner turns him (I assume it's a him) into a stalker, a wife who discovers her husband is cheating in a most oddball manner, and a husband dealing with a wife who hoards remarkably useless things. This is not middle-class literary fiction, this is not naval-gazing. The people who populate Grant's stories are, in spite of their very human construction, dealing with situations that border on (and sometimes surpass) extraordinary situations. This is why these stories work--the human element is there, and so is that tiny step beyond reality, into fiction, required to make a short story worth reading. I made my way through this collection rather quickly because, like all good writers, Grant has taken the time to craft readable prose and stories capable of holding the reader's interest. This isn't a book you read before bedtime, it's not going to put you to sleep. This is a book you read to remind yourself that, while we are all born alone and we will all die alone, in the meantime, we are all, in one way or another, suffering, and this single fact should be the one thing that brings us together. It doesn't, of course. Humans, while capable of tremendous beauty, are basically idiots. Books like A Scholar of Pain, however, grant (no pun intended) us a brief reprieve, where we're reminded our squabbles with our neighbors, ultimately, mean nothing.
Just taking stock of how someone who works from home could possibly have stress. Here's what's going on with the work I do to satisfy my great existential fear that life is meaningless:
Just finished the rough draft of Breaking Glass, the followup to Down on the Street. It's a delightful, epic novel about Chelsea Farmer and how she tries to get out of the life of a junkie. If all goes as planned, it should be published in early summer, 2018.
I've been asked to adapt Down on the Street for the screen. So, in the evenings, I work, beat-by-beat, on making this most status quo-unfriendly novella screen-ready. It's a neat little challenge, to say the least.
I'm doing the NaNo thing, writing a rough draft of a novel. I still haven't revised the rough draft I wrote last November, but, what the hell. This year, I'm writing something lurking halfway between dystopian science fiction and magical realism (I fucking HATE that term). I had to do something radically different from Breaking Glass. Both books are depressing, but dystopian fiction is depressing in a light, whimsical manner.
And, of course, amidst all this, I am working with Richard Krauss to produce another issue of Pulp Modern. By the way, I'm planning on changing the guidelines a bit for the next issue, so keep an eye out on that. I'm working to makePulp Modern a publication that will allow writers published in it to apply for membership to the various writer's associations. That should give you a hint as to what changes you'll be seeing in the guidelines.
Well, that's my November! Sounds like I need a hobby!
No, I'm not going to lecture you about patriotism. I'm not going to browbeat you about "social justice." It's time to stop watching the NFL for other, better reasons.
Last night, on a Thursday Night game, the Baltimore Ravens shutout the Miami Dolphins, 40-0. This comes a few days after Week Seven, in which there were three shutouts on the same day. I've never seen this in my entire life. The nice thing about the NFL, traditionally, is that it represented the very best players in the game. Thus, even teams that couldn't be considered good could generally compete because the talent level was, roughly, the same. This year, we've seen the usual failure of the Browns to field a decent team, but we've also watched teams normally capable of competing fall well into the gutter, including my hometown Indianapolis Colts (they were shutout this last weekend for the first time since the 1980s, which is amazing, considering early 1990s Colts were amongst the very worst teams ever fielded). This is boring stuff. This is Ohio State vs. Akron-level boring. I expect that sort of nonsense in the early weeks of the college game. Once college teams get into conference play, however, the games become infinitely more competitive and fascinating (for a nice example, catch a replay of last night's Oregon State v. Stanford game).
Bad play is not enough of a reason to stop watching NFL football, however. It has been acknowledged that NFL referees have descended to depths of incompetence astonishing even for...NFL referees. As a Colts fan, I endured many seasons of watching NFL referees decide games against the Colts on blatantly bad calls. In Indy, we recognized this as payback for "stealing" Baltimore's team. The refs were old dogs from the NFL's glory days, the 1960s and 1970s. For an excellent example of what I'm talking about, find a copy of the 1996 contest between the Colts and the hapless San Diego Chargers. You will witness cosmic levels of incompetence as you watch the referees hand the game to the Chargers. Instant Replay was supposed to 'correct' the many mistakes made by the officials. It's done nothing but add to the downtime in the game (which defeats the purpose of putting a ball control offense on the field) and allow referees to make the same bad decision twice.
The real reason, however, NFL football has to go is, of course, the issue of CTE. CTE is not a conspiracy theory. Research the science and you will see it's a legitimate condition and it explains the violent, erratic behavior of football players during and after their careers in the NFL. The unfortunate fact of the matter is: Professional football cannot be played the way it's SUPPOSED to be played AND maintain the safety of the players. People watch professional football to see grown men who have turned themselves into weapons attempt to destroy each other. Yes, it goes back to Rome, and yes, it satisfies some deep, human need to witness brutal violence in a safe environment (safe for the audience, that is). I'm no mamby-pamby "SJW," I'm not here to ruin anyone's good time. The simple fact of the matter is, the human brain cannot be protected in a way that preserves the purity of the sport. I suspect our global, corporate slave masters are aware of this, hence, the obvious push for Americans to suddenly have an urge to watch soccer, the way the rest of the world does. But we can resist this. We have a sport here that's exciting in its own way and, for the most part, doesn't ask its participants to sacrifice their mental health for a paycheck.
That sport is called baseball. We used to call it America's Game. Football took over as our military-industrial complex became our primary export and the need to glorify violence as part of the American character became necessary. But We the People are better than that. Anyone who watched Game 2 of this year's World Series is aware that baseball is capable of providing more breathtaking suspense than even the best football games.
Football is very important to me. When I sobered up in the end of 1996, I had developed an obsession with football that replaced my previous, unhealthy obsessions. It got me through the darkest years of my life. Training myself to stop watching it will be difficult. I cannot, however, in good conscience, derive entertainment watching young men sacrifice their future mental health (current, in some cases), no matter how much they're paid in return for it. It will be just as difficult for the rest of the country to leave the sport. But we don't really have a choice. If we are to become a nation that values humans over profit, we must abandon this barbaric sport.
In addition to movies on Friday nights, when I was a kid, Butler University would often have a specialized series of movies on Sunday nights. When I first discovered what my family and I called "the free movies" at Butler, I was in the fourth grade. In the spring semester of that year, Butler ran a James Bond series on Sunday nights. For a 10 year old boy, this was pretty damn close to heaven. They showed the majority of the Connery films and a few with Roger Moore. I grew up with an appreciation of the James Bond movies as, first and foremost, FUN. No matter who played Bond, as long as the film was enjoyable, it passed the basic test. Now, I've been lectured about how different those movies were from the books. I don't give a shit. Books and movies are separate mediums. Let me go through my track record with the Daniel Craig Bond movies:
Casino Royale: Fell asleep halfway through it.
Quantum of Solace: Fell asleep, literally, within ten minutes.
Skyfall: Managed to make it through the entire thing. Was thoroughly disgusted by its attempt to be a Chris Nolan movie.
Spectre: Refuse to watch it.
What a sad, woeful day it is I decide I'm not going to watch a James Bond movie. I endured the 80s and 90s Bonds. I should be able to endure this Bond. But I can't. The filmmakers have done what so many filmmakers have done with older properties that were once fun, dare I say, cheesy good times. Popcorn movies, if you will. They've decided the only way to keep them "relevant" is to make them "serious." And seriousness, in the universe of James Bond movies, is not allowed.
Well, wouldn't you know it...
A few weeks ago I began reading articles on the Internet about how the Kingsman movies are "conservative fantasies." Needless to say, I was intrigued by the very thought of a major Hollywood film somehow getting past the dragons at the gates without a feel-good, "politically correct," rainbow brigade message to further indoctrinate the masses. I had to see what the hell a conservative movie actually looks like! So I used my AMC membership to plop down five bucks on a Tuesday afternoon and watched the Kingsman movie currently in theaters. As with a lot of movies today, it was difficult not to be swept up by the spectacle. Hollywood puts all its money in the flash and bang of its product these days. One thing became rather obvious as soon as the movie got going: It is most certainly not conservative. I doubt I'll remember much of it in a year from now, but I can tell you the one thing it has going for it that the current James Bond movies do not: It is a fun movie. Pure, stupid fun. Exactly what I look for in an action movie.
I rented the first movie this weekend and it reinforced my opinion that the Kingsman movies have replaced the James Bond movies with respect to fun, goofy spy films. They're a little bit more hardcore than the classic Bond films, but that should be expected. The flippant attitude these movies have for polite society is refreshing. I hope to see this series continue and, hopefully, the producers of the James Bond films will either learn a lesson and go back to making fun Bond movies, or, simply, put the series to rest, once and for all.
I remember the first time I saw Blade Runner. It was shortly after its theatrical run, at Butler University, on a Friday night. My dad and I watched it. I was in the fifth grade. My head kind of spun afterwards. The level of atmosphere created had somehow made me drunk. I thought about it quite a bit. Later that school year, when my dad bought our first VHS player, I tried like crazy to rent Blade Runner and watch it again. It was always checked out and the wait list was forever. Contrary to what many contend, Blade Runner was a hit as soon as it was released on video. Over the years, I would look for it every time I went to the video store and it would always be checked out. It wasn't until my sophomore year of high school that I just happened to be renting something else and noticed the damn movie was finally in. I rented it and watched it for a second time. That was the viewing that absolutely blew my mind. I hooked up our (then) two VHS recorders and copied the tape. I wore out my copy of that movie over the next few years, watching it in various environments (and states of mind) and always being mesmerized. To say that it was influential in my development as an artist of several trades is an understatement. The first feature film based on a script I wrote, the god-awful Mr. Id, takes place almost entirely at night. It's a contemporary film noir. It's obviously directly influenced by Blade Runner (don't bother watching it; the profits go to the producer and he still owes many people who worked on the film money and he refuses to pay them; also, as stated, it's god-awful).
So now we have Blade Runner 2049. What I had, up until very recently, predicted would be just another Hollywood cash grab in the wake of Tinsel Town's complete lack of originality has turned out to be an enjoyable film with one plot element I really, really don't like.
The movie moves at a thoughtful pace. That right there should win it some awards for bravery. Whereas the typical modern Hollywood film has bulldozed its way into the second act by about minute five or six, 2049 really takes its time. And that's okay. The filmmakers have created a world we don't mind loitering in while the characters work their way through the plot in a meticulous manner. I was reminded of 1970s science fiction. And that's a good thing. The environment in 2049 is a little different than the original film. The original film feels very boxed in. Despite the magnificence of the buildings looking down on the masses of people, Ridley Scott managed to make it very claustrophobic. The new movie does the opposite. There are places to go in this film. Different landscapes entirely. It's like a video game with all the levels unlocked. That gives the movie a broader, more epic scope. I just happened to go to the theater for a showing on the "Big D" screen, which meant a massive screen and a sound system that literally shook the seats. It was impossible not to be in awe of the effort put into the film. Once the mystery gets going, I was rooting for the movie to come up with something spectacular in the third act.
Here's where the spoiler comes in: Hampton Fancher, who wrote one of the original drafts of the original film (and also Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven), returned as screenwriter on 2049. You can tell, too. The film's most poignant moments have little to do with the actual plot. There are wonderful lines of dialogue such as, "Sometimes to love someone, you gotta be a stranger." But Fancher, or someone else, does something a little odd toward the end of the film. The Big Reveal, when we learn the protagonist is not the lost child of Deckard and Rachel, the movie borrows directly from The Dark Knight Rises. Now, this may just be my own problem, but I was very disappointed that this is where they took the film. The build up to the reveal was so magnificent, I wanted that reveal to be something I (or anyone else) would never have though of.
So there it is. My sole complaint about the movie. Overall, it's a very immersive 2 hours and 43 minutes and you could do a hell of a lot worse. Is it the masterpiece some are claiming? No, it's not. Is it the boring cash grab cynics are calling it? Not by a long shot. It's a good, entertaining, sometimes thought-provoking popcorn movie with images you will probably think about long after it's over.
Surely you've experienced this: You're discussing something of importance to you and someone in the group, at the table, whatever, jumps in with a stream-of-consciousness contribution designed to derail and redirect the conversation. Example:
Me: It's time for liberals and conservatives to get back to a spiritual understanding of the First Amendment.
Jaggoff: You know what I'd like a spiritual understanding of? Beer. It's time we got back to a spiritual understanding of beer!
Conversation suddenly becomes about beer...
Okay, so maybe my example exposes my bias against booze. Hopefully, you get the point, regardless. It is NOT cool to change the subject of a conversation before the conversation has properly played itself out (I believe George Costanza had a similar complaint on Seinfeld; and if you haven't figured out George Costanza is ALL of our "ids" properly expressed, you haven't been paying attention). But why do people derail the conversation in the first place? I have a few theories:
1. They're dumb. Dumb people cannot stand a conversation that wades into water higher than an inch. The moment they sense a conversation is going somewhere they can't handle, they derail it. Observe, if you will, a dolt like Jimmy Kimmel the moment someone brings up something as challenging as, say, reading. He'll make a joke about his own illiteracy and change the topic. He's not the first TV moron to do that. Jay Leno, who's actually an intelligent person when he's not in front of a camera, used to do the same thing. Notice, if you will, how few authors actually appear on Kimmel's show (compared to, say, David Letterman, who had both a Hoosier intellect and sense of humor and therefore was not threatened by the likes of Hunter Thompson or even Stephen King).
2. They disagree with what's being said and, rather than argue the point from their perspectives, find it's safer to simply change the subject. These people are fucking cowards and should have been drown at birth. There's nothing wrong with disagreement. Disagreement should be talked out. Even the goofy dumbasses who still spew murderous Marxist Theory agree there should be thesis and antithesis in any dialogue.
3. They disagree with the topic and they're too dumb to explain why. This, of course, combines the first two topic derailers and, in actuality, probably explains ninety percent of the topic derailment that occurs in conversation.
We need to get back to conversations that have a purpose. Constantly changing the subject when the subject is an uncomfortable one will leave us in an intellectual tar pit and, like the dinosaurs, we will eventually die out because of it.
Oh my brothers and sisters, they're everywhere: People who think it's okay to finish your sentence for you.
Where the fuck did this come from?
When I speak, I take my time. I make sure the words I choose will do the best possible job of articulating what it is I'm trying to communicate. That means there are, occasionally, pauses. These pauses are not an invitation for someone else to jump in and interrupt. I am not playing Mad-Lib (or whatever the hell that game is called). I am taking my time to make sure I say exactly what I mean to say.
And it is, of course, during those pauses that the dreaded sentence finishers of the world leap in and attempt to complete others thoughts for them.
And here's the rub:
Sentence finishers, in my experience, NEVER complete my sentences correctly. In fact, they are often spectacularly off target. Perhaps this is what makes the sentence finishers I've encountered especially annoying. Here's an example:
Me: I was thinking about...
SF: Buying new tires for your car?
Me: ...looking for a translating job in Botswana.
That's the most common thing you'll hear a sentence finisher say--"Oh." And you'd think the sentence finisher might learn the first or second time he or she has to say "Oh" and feel foolish for posing as a mindreader (and for anyone who says, Well, sometimes you can predict what someone's going to say, realize this: Anyone who is that predictable isn't worth talking to).
The most notorious sentence finisher in my life is a woman I've known since we were both small children. I'll refer to her only as KJ in order to avoid any possible lawsuits. When we were kids, KJ referred to me as her "little brother." She had no siblings of her own and I was the oldest sibling in my own house (and, at the time, had no sisters), so I went along with it. This allowed me to have one safe, platonic relationship with a female and I attempted to use this relationship to glean information about women in general. But KJ, I learned over time, was not an ordinary female. The advice she gave me with respect to women was awful and cost me more than a few dates and relationships with women I really liked. KJ never moved out of her mother's house and she is now a middle-aged spinster whose impressions of the world are manufactured entirely by the garbage she sees on television. She has also, for reasons I couldn't begin to comprehend, blossomed into a hardcore sentence finisher. Most people in my family will no longer hang out with her for a number of reasons. One of the main ones, I suspect, is that KJ has NEVER, NOT ONCE IN HER LIFE, correctly finished anyone else's sentence.
There, I had to get that off my chest. Don't try to finish my fucking sentences. Be patient and wait for me to finish my thoughts on my own. You'll be rewarded, I promise, with something much more interesting than you could possibly predict in a split second.
So I am going to edit a charity anthology of short stories called NAPTOWN NOIR. The stories will take place in my hometown, Indianapolis, Indiana. Anything dark. No detectives or mystery-solving stuff. The profits will go to the Indiana Literacy Association. The anthology will be released through Down & Out Books. That's all the info I have at the moment. If you have a story that takes place in Indianapolis that you think would be appropriate, let me know and we'll discuss it.
Alec Cizak is a writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. His most recent novel, Breaking Glass, is available from ABC Group Documentation. He is the editor of the fiction journal, Pulp Modern.
Mr. Cizak's first collection of weird fiction/horror stories. Available now from ABC Group Documentation.
Follow Chelsea Farmer's journey out of hell!
DOWN ON THE STREET
Mr. Cizak's tender novella about a cabbie who decides to become a pimp
The most prophetic book ever written!
Mr. Cizak's classic collection of crime stories from the Golden Age of the online pulp fiction movement
Between Juarez and El Paso
Mr. Cizak's contribution to the Drifter Detective series.
The very BEST pulp fiction by the very BEST contemporary writers.