The Daughter of Necessity, or Why I returned

My domain–which, by the way I still keep alive through sheer dint of will–isn’t quite the hot mess I hoped it would be. Simply put, it’s just a mess. Nothing hot about it. Maybe I can find an intern or family member who will put some energy into maintaining it, but I’ve got enough on my plate to keep my head spinning.

All plate- and head-spinning references aside, I have, by necessity, returned to WordPress. Gather.com is a joke of its former self, and I lost pretty much everything I ever posted there when I still could access it. So where am I gonna post my new, hot messes?

Right here. TBD. Stay tuned.

Death by a Million Cuts

Felicity grabbed the pillow from her bed with both hands. Her three-year old mind reeled with fantasies of how wonderful it will all be with this mewling, rocking infant put out of the way. She knew that she was Granny Fae’s favorite. This…thing…had to go. It was all about survival since mom had gone. Granny carped about how evil mom had been, how much this…thing…resembled her, how much of a burden it was to deal with two grandchildren instead of caring for her son and Felicity. So, she knew in her soul that she was doing everyone a favor. That’s what mattered.

The only purpose Felicity had right now was putting this beast out of everyone’s misery. How quiet and peaceful all will be once this horrid abomination was dead. Yes. Felicity would always be the golden child, the one who could do no wrong. She’d be a hero, like Superman ridding the world of Lex Luthor once and for all.

She peered to the left of the crib, sensing that no one would discover her as she performed her righteous deed. She saw the rounded head of the abomination, the one that dared to be called her “sister.” With pillow firmly grasped between two small yet perfect hands, Felicity covered the face of the beast that sprang from her cursed mother. It was a merciful act, really. This thing had no right to have been born. It took in all Felicity’s air, stole her milk, and grabbed all the attention from her as it filled its smelly, foul diaper. Just five more minutes, and all would be well.

Granny Fae walked from the kitchen to the hall, wondering what in tarnation could lead to such quiet. She had been sweeping the kitchen floor with her broom, moving onto the hallway near the nursery. She caught a glimpse of her elder granddaughter hunched over the baby’s crib. “What the hell?!?” she thought as she got closer. Suddenly, her instincts caved in once she realized what was happening.

“No!!!” she screamed at Felicity as she started to chase the girl off, broom swinging wildly at her. After Felicity fled in panic, Granny Fae walked over to the crib and removed the pillow from over the sweet infant’s face. “There, there. Everything’s gonna be fine. I’ll smack that sister of yours and teach her some manners.”

Without bothering to pick the flustered infant up, she ran to the living room in search of the older sister. Granny Fae dropped the broom, grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her over to the couch, the girl’s torso firmly bent over her knee. Holding her left hand over her head, she administered several blows to Felicity’s rump.

“This…is…what…you…get…for…trying…to…kill…your…sister!”

Instead of crying, Felicity was resolute. She was doing everyone a favor. Why was she being punished. It wasn’t fair! After ruminating on her personal tragedy, she began to cry. Maybe if she pretended to be sorry, Granny Fae would stop hitting her bottom. But the blows kept coming. “And this is for crying, you spoiled brat!” Five more minutes of spanking followed until Felicity no longer had the urge to cry.

There were two valuable lessons that Felicity took from this. Lesson one: don’t ever appear weak when being punished by Granny Fae. Lesson two: no more overtly killing of that thing pretending to be her sister. She would just wound the beast instead. She was unaware of the saying, “death by a thousand cuts,” but she knew in a feral way that this had to be done…only more so…in order to survive.

©2016 Cynthia McGarvie

All Rights Reserved.

The Phenomenologist Interviews a Homeless Woman on the Streets

I first became homeless after losing to some bitch who kicked me and my toddler out of the house she was renting. I probably had no business trying to raise a son by myself without any help from my useless family or absent friends, but who the fuck cares about that? I never really had any real friends. Let’s be honest about it. I’m a loveless shit and fuck the world, okay? That’s just the vodka in me talking. It’s not like my family ever gave two shits about me. That’s not pity. That’s the goddamned truth.

The reality is I’m better off homeless. Let’s forget the three times I was raped, okay? That shit happens to every woman. Don’t say it doesn’t. Even married women are raped by their husbands. I was raped by total fucking strangers who never got punished because no one gives two shits about a homeless woman. Now that I can’t have children, who the fuck cares? I’m not having sex anyway, not consensually. I’m too fucking ugly. That’s honesty for you. No one wants to hear it, but it’s the truth.

I just have to figure out where the hell I’m going to sleep at night. My own sister doesn’t give a shit about me. She never really did. If she did, she would have opened up her goddamned home to me. But she won’t. I’m garbage to her. That’s all I am to anyone.

The only man who ever wanted to marry me molested his own stepchildren, then lied about it to me before he knocked me up. Once he caught me, ensnared in matrimony, he told me the unexpurgated truth about the wretched deeds he did. Because wives can’t testify against their husbands. Well, he got caught anyway. I divorced him when he was rotting in jail, the bastard. They took my child away…once again. After he mentally tortured me and made me crazy, the county took away my daughter for her safety. It’s not like I haven’t lived through that nightmare before. “Hatch ‘em and snatch ‘em”…that’s the motto of social services.

So I’ve been raped, and I’ve been forced into marrying a slimeball. What else has happened to me? Oh, I’ve been spat upon and mocked. That happens to a lot of us homeless. “Get a job!” they yell at us. Like anyone in their right mind would ever hire us. That’s a laugh. We’re the garbage people. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. All I ever wanted was to be loved. Like that’s ever going to happen. No one will ever love a woman with ugly teeth. I mean, look at them! They’re not like your perfect teeth. You’ll go far, you will. No one will ever turn you down for a job.

Here’s a secret about my life: I gain a little only to have a lot taken away from me. It really is a blessing that I can’t have children anymore. Had my tubes tied when the no-good hebephile went to prison. Had my daughter taken soon after that. No one really helped me keep her. She’s gone. Better off forgotten, since she’s with her foster family. Better off without me, that’s for sure. I’m useless. Always have been, always will be. I can’t even believe the good Lord let me be born. He must be a sadist who loves seeing people suffer. Not that good of a Lord, now is he?

Now, I don’t really hate myself. I came pre-hated. My mother never loved me, or she wouldn’t have abandoned me to the poor graces of my grandmother. I’d have been better off raised by wolves. I can’t blame my mother for looking after herself first. My sister did the same thing, leaving me to that dying thing who claimed to raise me. I mean, who wouldn’t abandon me? Everyone else has.

Now, I do appreciate the warm dinner you gave me in exchange for this interview. I really do. I can say anything and you won’t judge. You just keep recording me on that fancy pen of yours—yes, I know all about that. I once tried to become a doctoral student, back when I was full of myself. I know all about phenomenology. I’m a case study. I know that. Here’s some advice for you: never become poor and ugly, if you can help it. I know I’ll never see you again, so I’m glad for this moment of being appreciated, if only as a subject for your research.

Most likely, I’ll freeze up on some sidewalk, urinating on my own corpse. I’ll be a stark reminder to all ugly women to kill themselves before they end up like me. I mean, look at my teeth! They’re grey and useless. Only the beautiful will survive in this world. That’s how ugly the world has become. You can count on it.

Now, I can’t even remember why I even started talking to you. Who the fuck cares, anyway? I’ll only live to see if I survive another day. Life’s lottery, that’s what it is. Life’s fucking lottery that is only won by the thin and beautiful. Sorry about that. I was never much of a communicator. I always told things as they were, and no one gives a fuck about that. My grandmother cursed like a sailor, and she had none of her teeth. I used to have a picture of her as a young lady, and her original teeth were as crooked as her heart. Anyway, once Winter hits, I’ll be done for. No one will shed a tear for me, but at least you’ll have my words to relate in your doctoral thesis. That is, if you even care to share what I have to say with the world. I’m just an anonymous subject, signifying nothing.

Look, I know you had to get IRB review for this. Since I’m a ‘vulnerable subject’ and all. Vulnerable my ass! No one gives a fuck about me, okay? If I was so fucking vulnerable, I’d be protected like one of those endangered species. But I’m only a worthless hag to the world. One look at me, and the last thing anyone thinks of is employable person. I had to quit grad school because no one thought I was expert enough to do anything. I could have made something of myself, but no. Because I never came from privilege, I don’t matter.

Now, look. I’m not berating you because of my bad luck. Go on to your fancy school graduation and be an important someone. Benefit from my words. I’m glad to be of help to someone. It’s not as if you’re trying to rise above your station or anything. We’re all fated based upon the circumstances of our birth. I was born miserably, and I’ll die the same way. You can count on that. You with your perfect teeth and your perfect family, crowing about you perfect grades. I’ll just be a footnote in your research.

Me? I’m resigned to my fate. You just sit there, pretending that what I say doesn’t register. You’re a phenomenologist. Nothing I say will phase you. You’ll just parrot it out and get published, and become someone important. You do that. I don’t envy your fortune. You were blessed. Never forget that. I tried to do what you’re doing, and I fell flat. Become an expert on my experience. At least I’ll be worth something to someone. You got past your IRB review, and that’s something to celebrate. I know I’m more than what you bargained for, but that’s just the way I am. Count your blessings, child. You’ll never end up like me.

©2016 Cynthia McGarvie

All Rights Reserved.

My review of the Make Donald Drumpf Again hat

Originally submitted at HBO

A hat, specially designed to be worn on the head, as a reminder of the real Donald Drumpf. All hats are being sold at cost, because we know nothing would irritate him more than someone choosing not to make a profit. Due to, um, unexpected ludicrous demand, our #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain hats may be del…

 

My New Favorite Hat!

By Cynth the Poet from Salinas, CA on 4/26/2016
5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Pros: Durable, Attractive Design, Comfortable

Best Uses: Sports, Beach, Daytime, Casual Wear

Describe Yourself: Comfort-oriented, Practical

Was this a gift?: No

I’ve already bragged about my purchase on Facebook, Twitter, and…that’s pretty much it for now. But this hat makes me feel great again! How’s that for an endorsement? I can’t wear it to work, obviously, but if I want to draw attention to myself and maybe start a discussion on why I am wearing this particular hat, it’s perfect!

This is me wearing the hat, of course.

Snapshot_20160425_3

 

Tags: Picture of Product, Using Product

(legalese)

Ghost Apocalypse – a fable

Michigan Avenue seethed, boiling, nearly erupting with the hiss of expiring manholes. Normally, in non-emergency situations, it merely hummed with traffic and human progress. Not since the 1990s has there been such a scare that very nearly came to pass. Only this time, it did. Not a nuclear holocaust, as we feared in the past, but an electronic one. Resonance cannons had been perfected on a massive scale, and no one could have imagined the horrors they emitted. The brains of passersby evaporated, heads exploded, and decapitated corpses lined the streets until they eroded. The same happened inside homes. Even I expired horrifically under the pressure. Even those presumably safe in bunkers were likewise destroyed by the maddening boom. Only one nation developed these weapons, so they remained relatively unscathed. The rest of the world, crushed under the burden of perpetual debt, remained victimized by the threat of lopsided war. War set in the favor of the most advantaged aggressor.

They justified it as a ‘war against terrorism’ despite the fact that they blackmailed everyone to do their bidding after a beloved corporate leader took the helm. He had charisma, spoke his mind, and won the hearts and minds of those who couldn’t stand his opponent for any number of valid reasons. I lived in one of the first nations to feel this leader’s wrath. The Georgian people, we had our problems. Life was imperfect, as it was everywhere. It was different with us, though. We still wanted to go by the ways of Marx and Lenin long after the former Soviet Union embraced the organized crime element of Capitalism. They, too, fell after threatening to develop their own sound weapons. The carnage was instantaneous, and the dominant world power only wanted more carnage.

Well, some of them did. Part of the freedom of no longer having a body is that travel becomes instantaneous. I could move between the spaces and even inhabit the minds of some people. That’s how it works, to be honest. I never thought it was possible, but it is so. Thought and being require no body—only animate life requires a permanent home. You would be surprised just how many of us there have been over the lifespan of humanity. Although many of us can inhabit the same space, we feel rather crowded, especially since the War for Domination began.

It wasn’t only the large-scale weapons that were developed in this singular arms race. Resonance guns and rifles were created for simple, directed crowd control. When a mass movement of protest erupted after my small nation-state was ‘depopulated,’ each person who filled the front ranks of the marches were de-popped. Once their heads were rent into splinters, everyone fled. It was a simple way to keep the populace quiet. I watched in horror, a mute witness to this barbarous crowd control. It was then that I began to find out why people in this prosperous, yet somehow not fully prosperous, nation felt. Were they just too afraid, or did they feel a pleasure at the de-popping of the Leader’s harshest critics?

The only person I could find was a teenager, whose parents feared that her diagnosed bipolar would cycle so out of control that her utterances would make them all targets. Lucy tended to speak a truth that no one else would dare to say aloud, so she was given heavy doses of psychotropic drugs to keep her quiet. When that didn’t work, her parents immobilized her and duct-taped her mouth shut under doctor’s orders. She was fed through an IV, also under doctor’s orders. So I began communicating with her. She became a prisoner of her parents’ fear, so she welcomed the company.

“Why do my parents treat me like trash?”

“They are afraid of death. I know because I am one of the dead.”

“Why can’t I see you? Were you de-popped?”

“Yes.”

“Did it hurt?” her thoughts asked.

“For an instant, it did. But there is no pain now.”

“I wish my parents would just kill me. They’ve done much worse than that, keeping me here against my will.”

“Everyone is a prisoner now. Your prison is just more obvious.”

“I guess you’re right. Why did they have to duct-tape my mouth shut? And my arms and legs as well?”

“Perhaps they thought you would rip off the tape on your mouth and remove the IV from your arms.”

“My butt hurts. No one bothers to put ointment on it anymore.”

“It must be awful.”

“Oh, god. Yes it is! Thank you for understanding.” Her thoughts paused. “What is your name?”

“It seems that I have forgotten that. Maybe I will remember in time. I haven’t been inside a brain in years.”

“Has it been years? I have no idea what day it is, or even what the time is now.”

I pondered without sharing. To be a prisoner, tortured by such wanton abuse out of parental fear…is this the oppression that my own parents fought against before their nation was free from Russian servitude? The irony of freedom, followed by de-popping, hurt my soul. Yes, even a body-less soul can feel a type of discomfort. It feels like electrical tingling more than anything, the same feeling that fear creates in the body. Or maybe I was feeling her fear. My energy was beginning to phase into her signal that it felt so hard to tell each other apart.

“Are they all like this? The parents of children, I mean?”

“I don’t know. I imagine they are, to some extent.” Her thoughts stopped for a moment. “Are there a lot of ghosts around?”

“Human life has been going on even before history was first written down. So, yes. We are more numerous now than ever before.”

“How many people have died in the war?”

“Nearly fifty million, I think.”

“That’s a lot of ghosts. I wish a ghost would invade our Leader and turn his thoughts around.”

“I think he’s being possessed by an evil spirit. But fear is a type of evil spirit, isn’t it?”

“That makes sense, but then again I’m crazy. Everyone tells me that.”

“So why do you make more sense than anyone else?”

“I don’t know. I wish I could understand why.”

“Why what?”

“Why any of this has happened to me. All I did was say that I didn’t like how the Leader spoke.”

“My parents told me stories about what it was like under the Soviet Union. Your story sounds very familiar in that way.”

“I just want to be free. I want to eat food, drink water, move around, read stories…” She began to cry. It was the only thing she was free to do besides sleep.

“I will tell you a story. Would you like that?”

“Yes, please! I would love a story now!”

“Very well. I believe that the best stories begin with ‘Once upon a time.’ Is that so?”

“The very best stories begin that way.”

“Okay, then. Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess locked in a dungeon by an evil sorcerer. He kept the people afraid and under his spell so that they could do his bidding.”

“I don’t like how this story begins.”

“It gets better. All such stories begin with a problem. Don’t you want to know how this ends?”

“Is it a happy ending?”

“Yes. A very happy ending. But it gets a bit worse before that happens.”

“I understand.”

“So the people, under this sorcerer’s thrall, did unspeakable things to their children to keep them quiet. They cut out their children’s tongues so they wouldn’t say harsh things about the sorcerer. They cut off their children’s feet so they wouldn’t run away from home. They cut off their children’s hands so they wouldn’t create any writing critical of the sorcerer or his ways. The princess could hear the wailing of children being silenced, but could hear no more. Word reached her as a form of torture; knowing what befell those who were as young or younger than she was grieved her heart.

“’Whatever I am enduring, it is worse for others!’ she quietly moaned. She knew that she had to escape, but how? Then, one of the servant girls came up to her to bring her daily meal, a bowl of tasteless soup and a crust of dry bread. The girl, who could be her twin, asked the princess if there was anything else she needed. She was so new to her tasks that she was unaware of the strict edicts concerning the threatened state of the princess.

“’There is one thing you can do for me,’ said the princess. ‘You can switch clothes with me and take my place. Your princess commands this of you!’

 

“Not wanting to upset a member of the royal family, the servant did as she was told. This was the one chance that the princess hoped for: freedom. She needed to escape this torment and find out a way to topple the sorcerer. It was then that…”

The bound-and-gagged Lucy fell asleep in the middle of the story. I sighed as only ghosts could do: it emitted as a soundless wail. But telling her this story gave me some hope of my own. I began to form a plan, but it would take other ghosts to come together in order to stop this mad Leader in his tracks before other nations and nation-states fell victim to his plans of domination. I left Lucy and signaled as many of us as I could. All were summoned. It was an instantaneous response, and I began to share my plan. They immediately understood. Some were filled with vengeance, but I warned them against lashing out by causing bodily harm. Our job was to scare, not rend asunder, those who held life so cheaply in their hands.

The national capitol had been moved to New York, residing in this Leader’s mansion. It was ornate, as gaudy as any dictator’s palace. Those with a mind towards violence were instructed to only destroy things, not people. This would, I reasoned, cause enough of a fright. I would occupy this Leader’s mind with images of the horrors that he created, the crimes against innocents that he ordered be carried out in his name.

“Am I going mad?” he screamed at no one.

“You were mad from the start,” I told him.

“I’m hearing voices!”

“You’re hearing your guilt and the cries of the slaughtered innocents.”

“What is all that crashing?”

“Your property is being destroyed by those whom you had de-popped.”

“I have to stop this now!” He reached for an antique revolver.

“No! You must not die! You must change things for the better!”

“I can’t live like this! I can’t be insane! I must not be!”

With that, I am sad to say, he eliminated himself by placing the revolver into his mouth and pulling the trigger. I didn’t want him to die. I wanted him to choose to make things right. I didn’t want yet another ghost in our midst.

“Was that me? Was that what I became?”

“Yes, it was. But now you’re one of us.”

“Somehow, I never really believed in ghosts.”

“Some never do until they become one. It’s just the way things are.”

“Why didn’t I find some clarity before so many died in my name?”

“I don’t know. I certainly don’t know how this mess will be fixed, nor by whom.”

But it did eventually get fixed. Those who had instilled themselves into power abandoned their positions for fear of being accused of murdering their leader for political gain. It was a clear-cut suicide, by all accounts. People stopped believing their cultural insanity. Parents, including Lucy’s, repented of their crimes and freed their children. Lucy was once more free to eat, and a year of physical therapy restored the use of her limbs. A leader emerged who began policies that benefited all the people, not just a few. I guess this is a happy ending, but not really. It’s not so much an ending as it is a new beginning. We know not how things will go on from here. Even after democratic rule is completely restored, there is no way to determine if it will last. Not one dead person will come back to life, but others will be born. There is already movement to restore those nations that were de-popped during the dark times.

 

As for me and the ghost legion, many are finally feeling rest. Some of us have even crossed over into a reprocessing center. Well, more like a reincarnation center. We will find a home in the new life that will be born into this world. Not so for me. There is a punishment for those souls that cause, even coincidentally, harm to a living being. This is as I feared, but it is a fair punishment nonetheless. Even describing it would be against the rules, but you are free to draw your own conclusions.

©2016 by Cynthia McGarvie

All Rights Reserved by copyright holder.

Some idiot is trying to dox me

Today, I received the following email from some idiot waiting for his mom to heat up his Toaster Strudel:

——– Forwarded Message ——–
Subject: Aiden recommends – I will leak your identity
From: sharingservices@aol.com
Reply-To: 914_myzara@telnor.net
To: cynthia@xxxxxxx.com, cynthia@graphicsignificance.com, cynthia@xxxxxxx.com
Unfortunately your data was leaked in the recent hacking of the Patreon web site and I now have your information. I have your tax id, tax forms, SSN, DOB, Name, Address, Credit card details and more sensitive data. Now, I can go ahead and leak your details online which would damage your credit score like hell and would create a lot of problems for you.

If you would like to prevent me from doing this then you need to send 1 bitcoin to the following BTC address.

Bitcoin Address:
1QAQTyhCzAfvp8uLpneBNamWTNRR1hx9Cp

You can buy bitcoins using online exchanges easily. The bitcoin address is unique to you. Sending bitcoin takes take, so you better get started right now, you have 48 hours in total.

Okay, first off you moron: I have a fraud alert in place, so nobody is going to pull anything on me. Secondly, shit for brains, I don’t do bitcoin and I never will. So why don’t you slink off to your hidey hole in Galt’s Gulch and let the grownups be in charge?

BTW, Nimrod, I alerted the FBI to your shenanigans. They have the bitcoin address. So what if you hid behind a non-traceable email account? They’ll find your ass and press charges if you do so much as breathe one tiny gasp. How do you like them apples?

P.S.: I see you’re trying to blackmail two other individuals with the same first name. I hid those email addresses out of sheer conscience, something you never did possess. Did it hurt when some girl turned you down when you asked her to the prom? Well, cyberterrorism will get you a nice ‘boyfriend’ in the slammer. Don’t drop the soap, you weasel!

 

Sex-differences and ‘domestic violence murders’*

*intimate partner homicides What could we do if we wanted to hide the reality of men’s violence against women? Firstly, we might have  a ‘gender neutral’ definition of domestic violence.  Maybe lik…

Source: Sex-differences and ‘domestic violence murders’*

We can’t be ignoring the facts about domestic violence.

Dealing with Random Racist Bullshit

I hope this doesn’t end up as part of a series. It’s just that something very weird happened the last time I went to a McDonalds. Yeah, I probably should stop eating in such places, but it’s where the non-elite eat. I’m a people person from time to time, but there are just some people out there who really make my brain twitch. I’ll cut to the chase and share what I posted on a regional Craigslist “Missed Connections” board:

saved for posterity

I’ll copy and paste the original text because pictures can be hella small online:

To the man standing behind me at the Monterey McDonald’s soda machine

Dear Racist Enema Bag,

I never had the chance to publicly upbraid you…oh, wait…I’ll use small words so you’ll be sure to understand me. You dumbass! I made an innocent remark about the soda syrup splashed against the back of the serving part of the Coca Cola machine. “I’d hate to be the one to have to clean that up,” I said to you. But here’s the thing: I was not speaking in some racist code because there happened to be a Black gentleman in front of me. No. You thought I was just as racist as you and inferred what I did not imply. Oh, wait. Here I go using big, fancy words again. I’ll dumb this down so you’ll get my message. I never even wanted to use racist code words. You made that up because of your own racist thoughts. You made that dumb-ass look that racists always use when they hear what they think are coded words.

You suck at being human. Take your smarmy thoughts and place them in the trash can where they belong. I grew up around overt racists who never hid their ignorance under fancy codes. I grew up in Texas, and I did everything I could to distance myself from their stupidity. You twisted my innocent remarks to resemble that armband you probably wear at your “secret society” meetings. You made me want to throw up my Big Mac as soon as I realized what actually happened. Because I didn’t grow up around people who used coded racist language, I didn’t realize until too late. If I wasn’t a lady, I would have slapped your face right then and there and scolded you for even thinking that I shared your toxic viewpoint.

Next time you see me, get the hell out of my face before I throw up into yours.

Sincerely,

Cindy

I was a little unprepared for what was to follow. These are actual responses taken from my gmail inbox. The innocent have had their online identities protected. The guilty, not so much. I’ve added my personal commentary right below the images.

reply1

That was nice…and unexpected.

reply2

Much obliged!

reply3

*you’re…even worse.

reply4

Thanks! 😀

reply5

I’m available for children’s parties, too.

reply6

De nada.

reply7

I live to serve.

reply8

Uh…okay. Thank you for your interesting comment.

I won’t say that this was an outpouring. I only posted my “Missed Connections” entry last night. While I’m not exactly down for random sex, I wouldn’t mind some stimulating conversation with like-minded individuals.

 

 

Several Days Late, but Right on the Money

I am, of course, referring to my previous post of how a certain someone-someone who portrayed my favorite dead author (i.e., DFW) would not have the odds in his favor come Oscar™ night. Turns out, I was smarter than the average bear about that one. How’s that for psychic, Boo Boo? Not only did Jason Segel NOT get so much as a nomination for Best Actor, but Bryan Cranston did. I was right (at least about the nominations) on two counts. I didn’t exactly predict all the nominees, but I predicted accurately one who didn’t and one who did garner a nomination. If Cranston does win [as I continue to predict], I will be asking James Randi for that million dollars in the form of a cashier’s check. I know no one in Hollywood. I have zero clout. I’m not even a professional psychic. But a prediction is a prediction. All it takes is one. I suck at numbers (dyscalculia is a bitch, baby), so that whole ‘winning the lottery through prediction’ just wouldn’t work for me. I don’t need Powerball money. I just need “pay off all my debts” money.  (N.B.: the only edit I did to that earlier post was done to correct a tiny error I made about Michael Keaton and his role in Birdman. He was merely nominated but did not win. Which is more than I can say for Mr. Segel.)

No other edits were made. My mom’s still alive, so I can’t exactly swear on her grave. But I am willing to sign a notarized document saying that the only edit I made to that post was the addition of “[almost].” I will go to any banking institution of Mr. Randi’s choosing to notarize the proper statement, providing I don’t have to drive all the way to another part of the state or country to do so. If he wants to witness it, he can pay for a round-trip Greyhound bus ticket for me so he verify that I am signing this in front of a complete stranger who has the proper Notary Public qualifications. Yes. I’m putting my mouth where his money is. This is an official announcement that I am going to go for that million dollar prize to prove that my prediction is accurate. I have no clout. I realize this could jinx it (and me), but who cares? I’m just stoked that I predicted something so earth shakingly accurate in the first place.

I’m not exactly counting my money yet. Anything can happen in the space of a month, but there’s no way I could influence this contest. So, once more, and with feeling…I predict that Bryan Cranston will win Best Actor for Trumbo. And that, as they say, is a wrap. To be on the up-and-up, I will not bet Vegas money on this. That would be unethical. I could be quiet about this whole thing and just go bet cash money on this, but I’m tapped out. I’m a paycheck-to-paycheck kind of gal. That’s how I’ve rolled all my life, with the exception of taking out student loans with which, ethically speaking, I can’t gamble one penny. I gain nothing from going for this prize. I stand to lose everything, including my self-efficacy. When someone already has nothing to lose, then that’s even better as far as I’m concerned.

How John Belushi (Vicariously) Saved My Life

Obviously, the late John Belushi went into the ozone decades ago. But when he was still alive and performing on SNL, he did one skit that ended up saving my life due to the cultural influence it had on my peers. Whatever inspired his performance notwithstanding, he ended up being instructive in teaching others how to save the lives of choking victims. How this helped me is something I will always appreciate.

Here’s the low-down:

I was with a small group of people, and we were sitting in the apartment of two of them and we were eating pizza and laughing about something. I hadn’t learned the only rule about eating and laughing: don’t do it, not even once. My first time doing so almost became my last moment on Earth. I was choking. As in not able to talk, cough, or breathe. I gave the supposedly Universal Sign for Choking, which turned out to be not that universal.

first-aid-for-choking-200x300

The More You Know…

Of course, these alleged friends of mine didn’t know shit. I gave this sign until I nearly passed out from lack of oxygen. I knew that I was going to die right then and there, but with my last cognitive heuristic impulse I remembered this skit from SNL (and please, NBC, since you didn’t bother to host this video on your own website, leave this poor YouTuber alone because Fair Use).

 

Elizabeth Taylor interview with Bill Murray

What I did was mimic John Belushi’s self-performance of the Heimlich Maneuver, which still is a hell of a lot better than slapping someone on the back–and for most people, complications are extremely rare. I’ve had people try both on me, and anyone who tried to slap my back while I was almost choking had to Heimlich me just to undo the damage they caused.

How to Give the Heimlich Maneuver

While not perfect, it’s still be best thing we have out there short of direct EMT intervention.  Not only did the Heimlich Maneuver save my life during the early 1980s, but having John Belushi perform it on SNL in his impression of Ms. Taylor years earlier created awareness within the doped-out dregs of my generation to such an extent that at least two of those dregs were able to realize I was choking even after the Universal Sign for Choking failed to alert them of my plight.

On DFW, Jason Segel, and the Displacement of Memory

From all accounts, Jason Segel’s decision to portray David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour can be framed in terms best described through a specific video. Well, this specific video, to be quite candid about it. By all theories and scientific research, he certainly would have a clear shot at an Academy Award nomination. Given the fact that he will still be under the age of 40 when voting commences, his long-shot chances will depend greatly on his competition. BTW, the paper by Pardoe and Simonton (2008) that I linked to has the sort of stats that would have likely impressed DFW. I base that on having actually read the footnotes to Infinite Jest, specifically footnote #123 in which Pemulis describes/dictates the rules of Eschaton to Hal Incandenza.

Oscar-baiting

Having confirmed this initial sense through Segel’s personal description of how he prepared for the role of DFW, one can clearly affirm with all certainty that Segel’s intention is two-fold: 1) Win the Oscar™ for Best Actor in a Lead Role and 2) cash in on the subsequent heft in negotiated salary for subsequent motion picture work. Yes, this ascribes all forms of cynicism to said intentions, but we are talking about Hollywood. It would be futile to require benefit of the doubt for any person with motion picture aspirations regarding such a career move. In the case of DFW, his portrayal would meet all qualifications for Oscar™ Potential. Actual person who once lived? Check. Famous author? Check. History of mental illness? Checkmate.

Danielle Friedman does a stellar job in highlighting the pivotal role that mental illness has played in last year’s Academy Award nominations, noting that Michael Keaton (who [almost] won Oscar gold big-time for portraying the darker side of Adam West– in fictional form of course–in Birdman) portrays a fictional character (may I continue to stress the fictional nature of said character until my dying breath leaves me) dealing with a major psychiatric disability. This win for the portrayal of a fictional character loosely based on a real actor who once played a caped crusader…sorry…THE Caped Crusader…is certainly stretching the biopic component of the fool-proof formula for winning Best Actor. There have also been exceptions to the must-be-over-40 trend that Film Theory suggests in their video (that first link will take you there, I assure you). Exceptions test the rules, and in many cases support them as well.

The greatest variables facing Segel in his hopes of landing a golden statuette have yet to be determined, but will no doubt depend greatly upon his potential competition. There’s a biopic about Edward Snowden set for release on Christmas Day starring none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the lead character. It’s not easy to compete against a film with such a stealth booking date. It could also be difficult to compete with Tom Hardy doing a literal double-take as the British Mobster Kings of the UK, Reggie and Ron Kray. Identical twins with antisocial personality disorder? Impressive, to say the least. Mobster movies tend to be a big hit (no pun intended…really) among Academy moguls.

I’m going to make a wild prediction so far ahead of time that it will defy even Mr. Randi’s psychic ability challenge. I’m thinking that Bryan Cranston will win Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Dalton Trumbo in a biopic slated for release this November. There’s no way I could say I’ve seen this movie in advance. I don’t even know anyone from Hollywood. There’s not even a trailer released for this one, but we’re talking the lead actor from Breaking Bad playing a blacklisted Hollywood writer who had to craft screenplays credited to a front just to eke out a living. The AMPAS is still growling about its honorary Oscar™ to Elia Kazan in 1999, a director who basically ratted out several ‘fellow travelers’ before the HUAC. Hollywood may want to make nice with its past and honor a talented actor over the age of 40 in one fell swoop. Hope I don’t jinx this one, but no one cares what I think about such matters.

The Displacement of Memory

I’m going to be quite blunt about this next statement. My biggest fear about The End of the Tour is that it will quite possibly end up on this list of 5 Real People Who Got Screwed by Famous Movies Based on Them. Yes, that is a fear. I hope it is completely unwarranted, but even so…I think I’ll wait until I get to stream this DFW biopic on Netflix. Why? I personally cannot claim any type of intimacy with the man as he lived. I’m more or less aware of him by his books and actual video footage of his interviews. I won’t doubt that Jason Segel can claim the same level of familiarity. But my hesitancy is based on the reality that the David Foster Wallace Literary Trust has not exactly been ecstatic about this movie. I can’t say I can blame either Karen Green or Bonnie Nadel concerning this, as they have fond memories of DFW. As his widow and literary agent, respectively, they have a right to feel trepidations about having some manqué offer his services as a temporary golem. Wow. That sounds incredibly morbid and judgmental, doesn’t it? Actually, I thought I was being Freudian.

After all, it was Sigmund Freud who developed the concept of displacement effect with regard to memory. Without getting too technical, this theory may explain why there is a deep and abiding need for associates and loved ones most familiar with DFW to avoid The End of the Tour as if it were some plague-carrying rodent. To quote:

Displacement effects theory states that the human mind has a defense mechanism which involuntarily displaces the effects from an individual or anything which are felt unacceptable to another situation which the mind distinguished more acceptable. This unconscious activity which occurs in the mind finds a satisfying alternative to the basic objective and is basically done to relieve stress and other tensions.

Normally, this effect would only relate to kicking the shit out of a whipped dog in order to avoid beating the shit out of an irksome child, but there’s a role for displacement within what’s known as Cultivation Theory as well. This second theory was the subject of a fairly obscure DFW essay, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction.” In this essay, DFW notes the increasingly contaminating effect of television viewing on fiction writing, specifically within the realm of metafiction. If you to choose to read it, take special note of the brief excerpt from Don DeLillo’s White Noise at the top of page 189 (no, you won’t have to read nearly 200 pages of text…it’s one essay from within an academic journal, so you’re pretty much only going to have to go to the 35th page of text to find it). Do yourself a favor and don’t skim to it. It’s an amazing essay, and a good introduction to DFW’s non-fiction prose.

So I’m going to postulate that there may be a valid concern expressed by those who knew DFW best that a combination of displacement effect and cultivation theory would warp their time-warped memories of him into a soupy mixture. Not only that, but memories of accurate photographic images of DFW may end up being mentally replaced by those of David Segel cosplaying DFW. (Wow, another scathing comment based on gut reactions to images!) I’m going to be honest. Even though I’ve not met either of these men, I’ve begun to feel the effects of said displacement/cultivation. When I try to picture DFW, I accidentally see Segel in his costume.

This is bad news. Very bad news, indeed.

I hate to be the one to confirm it through anecdotal evidence, but those promotional stills of Segel-as-DFW have started to invade my short-term visual memory. In all honesty, I’ve only been aware of the fact that DFW once existed years after he ‘demapped.’ I wish I could say that sometime, during my wanton past, I may have accidentally crossed paths with him. The reality is that I cannot substantiate how my memories of isolated incidents have become enmeshed in wild fantasies on what-might-have-been-but-probably-never-came-to-be.

The point I’m making is this: human memory is a fragile thing. As DFW noted in his unfinished novel, The Pale King, the reconstruction of a memory can be reshaped and altered with disquieting ease. From what I’ve begun to understand about the man-as-he-was, this also explained much in the way of his perceptions. The ability to warp memory, which gave him strength as a fiction writer, apparently debilitated him as a human being, the pain of which became too fierce for him to bear. Again, this is a warped understanding based upon second-hand accounts and not from any personal interaction apart from reading his work. I’m not an expert, and I’m certainly not one to claim familiarity with the man.

Unlike Jason Segel, I do not want to ‘block out’ the concerns of those who knew and loved DFW: his family, which includes his widow, Karen Green. They have a right to be concerned enough to distance themselves from something that has the potential to distance them from fond, albeit bittersweet, memories of a human being who once was part of their lives. One of the risks of portraying someone who has not yet been dead an entire decade comes in the form of memory warping–a point echoed starkly in Glenn Kenny’s essay in The Guardian (UK).

I can understand now why Mark Twain wanted his autobiography sealed for one hundred years after his death. His concern for loved ones was so deep that he wished to spare them any acrimony or heartache by revealing family secrets. Not every writer has that luxury. While filmic depictions of DFW cannot be helped, there comes a sense of foreboding that the simulacrum will gain more meaning than the actuality that it replicates.

And I do not mean to imply any type of false parallelism between a Great Man’s autobiography and some hackneyed indie film. I merely wish to state, as someone with a great deal of respect for both the writings and fragile humanity of David Foster Wallace, that he deserves better than the filmic equivalent of fanfic ‘shipping. He deserves better than what he seems to have received from long-distance admirers–and I include myself in that category. I will trust whatever dismay friends and family members express over the hero worship surrounding the work of a writer who left us far too soon over the sound of a million fanboys’ fists puncturing the air.

Not only does DFW deserve better than false idol worship, but we deserve better as well.