July 16, 2024

There was an assassination attempt over the weekend, and now everyone is trying to figure out why. Maybe Thomas Matthew Crooks knew pure evil when he saw it?

Probably not. More likely this is the result of brain worms of some kind. As we all know, the worms want RFK Jr. to be president. That would be why they ordered the shooting and why, if you opened up the head of Joe Biden right now, you would most likely find a mass of wriggling larvae. (Sorry, Joe. Love ya buddy.)

Possibly the worms have our best interests at heart. Bobby K. may be insane but he seems unlikely to usher in the Fourth Reich, which is seeming more and more imminent with every day that passes.

I could be wrong. I really, really want to be wrong. Somebody tell me I’m wrong.

Reading Report, June 2024

Books Acquired:
The Rachel Papers, Martin Amis
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Philip K. Dick
The Wonder Effect, C.M. Kornbluth & Frederik Pohl

Progress Made:
Shogun, James Clavell
The Black Count, Tom Reiss
White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day, Richie Unterberger

Books Finished:
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Philip K. Dick
Star Trek: Log Two, Alan Dean Foster

Browsing in Eureka Books one day I came across a first-edition paperback of Philip K. Dick’s The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, his last book, vintage 1983. It was going for a mere $5 so I snapped it up despite already having a later edition of the book at home. Or so I thought — upon perusing the PKD shelf I found no such thing, though I’m pretty sure I owned it at some point.

Suddenly it became urgent that I read the book, so I did. It’s quit linear and coherent by Dick standards, told entirely from a single point of view — that of Angel Archer, daughter-in-law of the title character. Timothy Archer, an Episcopal bishop, is a brilliant, learned, and beloved man who is also completely out of touch with reality.

Only after writing the last sentence did I realize that that expression rests on the presupposition that there is a reality, one we can all agree on. And of course questioning reality was Phil’s whole thing, no less so in Transmigration, where Archer — a passionate if rather exasperating seeker after truth — keeps finding the ground shifting beneath him.

As the novel begins, Archer has just begun to suspect — based on newly uncovered archaeological evidence — that Jesus was a fraud. This seed of doubt seems to undermine his entire world, gradually consuming his son, his lover, and finally himself. Only Angel, a beacon of relative sanity among the swirling madness, is left to bear witness.

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Supremes to Democracy: Drop Dead

Yesterday we learned that Splash Brother Klay Thompson would be leaving the Warriors to play in Dallas, and it was not even the worst news of the day. That’s just basketball, after all.

On the week of Independence Day this country took another long stride down the dark path to authoritarianism when the Supreme Court ruled, in effect, that a president can’t be prosecuted for anything he does while in office. Yes, they left the door open for some semi-official or nonofficial acts to be prosecuted; but that fact that nothing considered “official” can be used even as evidence seems to allow only a very, very narrow window for accountability.

One of the TV talking heads said that somewhere Richard Nixon was smiling, but I think not. I think Tricky wishes he could have had a lapdog Supreme Court like this in his day. He not only would have finished his term but pulled some kind of Jan. 6-style shenanigans to keep himself in office indefinitely. His jarred head might still be running the country today.[footote]And in the scheme of things, that might not be so bad.[/footote]

Well, there’s one silver lining: Joe Biden is now free to declare the Former Guy a threat to national security and have Seal Team Six take him out. No jury will ever convict him.

A Clown in the Moonlight

It’s hard to find the words to describe how depressing last night’s presidential debate was.

For the record, I like Joe Biden. I think he’s been a good president and is fundamentally a decent man. I don’t mind that he’s 81 years old — what I mind is that he looked like a deer in the headlights for the entire 90 minutes, struggling to complete a sentence while his opponent glibly and confidently spouted an endless stream of lies.

That man — the orange one, don’t make me say his name — cannot become president again. I can’t take it.

It’s not just what he’ll do — which is bad enough, and who can even say how bad it will actually be — but what he represents. He’s tapped into the darkness of the American soul in a way that feels almost occult. It’s a bit hard to conceive of him as a maleficent mage, given what a fucking goofball he is, with the bronzer and the hair and the long ties. But then again, as Lon Chaney said, there’s nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.

What really scares me is how many of my fellow citizens are willing to jump on that train to hell. As Kris Kristofferson said, don’t you know he’s the devil? Don’t you know he doesn’t keep his deals?

At this point the question may be moot. It is entirely likely that the darkness, once unleashed, will survive even his demise — which, I keep reminding myself, can come at any time. He is also very old! He eats junk food and doesn’t exercise! His life is very stressful! How long before the Stark Fist of Removal comes for him?

What a happy thought! And look, the sun has broken through the clouds. Time to go out and cheer the hell up. In truth I already feel a bit better for having vented a bit. Live long and prosper, people.

Bands I’ve Seen (updated, 2024)

The last time I updated this I wrote:

The way Cecil does this, with the names of the bands along the left side of his blog and thus easily updatable, is probably smarter. This way I’m going to have to post a new list every year or two for the rest of my damn life.

That was 14 years ago. A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since then, a lot of shows have been attended, a lot of brain cells have died.

But this seems like a good time to revisit it as I have no tickets to anything upcoming in hand, and nothing much of interest on the radar. (This is a particularly bad summer for live music. I mean… Limp Bizkit is back!) Since I had some tinnitus earlier this year, it seems like a reasonable time to take a break and live a little in the past.

I’m sure to miss a few things due to the brain damage — especially since ticket stubs are no longer a thing — but I’ll do my best.

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Reading Report, May 2024

Books Acquired:
Shogun, James Clavell
Americana, Don DeLillo

Progress Made:
White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day, Richie Unterberger

Books Finished:
Star Trek: Log One, Alan Dean Foster
Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

Reading sci-fi is funny sometimes. Alan Dean Foster’s Star Trek: Log One begins like this:

Veil of stars.

Veil of crystal.

On the small viewscreen the image of the Milky Way glittered like powdered sugar fused to black velvet.

Here in the privacy of the captain’s cabin on board the Enterprise, James T. Kirk had at fingertip’s call all the computerized resources of an expanding, organized galactic Federation in taped and microfilmed form.

That’s right, “microfilmed.” I guess it’s easy to look back now and say it should have been obvious even then that everything would be digital long before the 23rd century. (I probably didn’t know that in 1974, but I was 7.)

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous on the face of it that a starship would be carrying microfilm? But you come across these kinds of anachronisms everywhere in science fiction — which I guess just points up one of the truisms about the genre, that it’s really about the time it’s written in, not the time it depicts.

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Year of the Scavenger, Side 2

Why do people want Big Brother? It’s a complex question but the simple answer is: Freedom is hard. It’s a question that has to be answered every hour of every day. Many of us would rather have someone else decide.

I get it. And if that’s your choice, you have a right to it, I guess. The problem comes when a certain group tries to give freedom away for the rest of us. (Of course we can’t even agree, anymore, on what freedom is exactly; that’s a whole other conversation for another time.) Lately the fascist-adjacent rhetoric emanating from the campaign of the Convicted Felon Who Shall Not Be Named — and being embraced by what seems like a flabbergasting percentage of the populace — has been giving me the heebie-jeebies.

America: Please don’t. I’m begging here.

But why am I telling you this? Every reader of this blog is a smart, sensible, good-looking person. Here’s some Bowie for you.

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Johnny the Cat, 2005–2024

His most recent boudoir photo. A handsome boy to the end.

There will now be a brief mourning break following the departure of my cat Johnny, who at 19 was roughly the same age as this blog, for the Western lands. This is sad, not tragic — he had a good long run and enjoyed his time. But he will be missed. I’ll be back with more of my nonsense in a day or two.

Year of the Scavenger, Side 1

Today, I am informed, is the 50th anniversary of the release of Diamond Dogs. A great album — or more accurately, an album with some great stuff on it.

I always thought some dubious choices were made in terms of track listing and sequencing, so a few years ago I made my own version. I sent it to a couple people but I don’t think they paid attention, not that there’s any reason they should have.

This seems like the right moment to dig it out. You’ll notice that it starts and ends (almost) the same as the original album, because those were absolutely 100% the right choices. In between things are added, subtracted, and rearranged. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for “Rebel Rebel” — the single version was OK, but it never belonged on the album. I will die on this hill.)

Here’s Side 1. We’ll get to Side 2 in a little bit.

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Question for the Beloved Readers

One of my ongoing projects is to clean up the older parts of this blog (fixing broken links, etc.). That’s how I came across this, written 18 years ago:

So here’s what I want, what I really really want: a computer program that will let you feed in the name of a song and the name of an artist, process for a few seconds, then spit out a believable cover version. For instance, I would like to hear Tom Waits doing “Joy to the World” (the Three Dog Night song, not the Christmas carol — can’t you just hear him croaking out “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”?), or Frank Sinatra singing the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.” I would pay real money to hear the Sisters of Mercy covering “You’re So Vain” or the Pixies’ version of “I’m So Tired.” In fact, I would probably have the Pixies do the whole White Album, just to hear what it sounded like.

(Here’s a link to the original post. Some of you reading this shared ideas back then.)

With the advent of AI, this is now most likely possible. And yet I hesitate to go there, sensing the presence of an infinite rabbit hole from which I might never emerge.

Your thoughts?