You are a teleprompter.
The actress portraying the disgraced dictator crumbles to chalk.
Rainstreaks curl into the lips of a demon.
Overfed dogs swarm the plaza.
Insurance fraudsters singe the sailor’s epaulets.
The slowness of the snowmobiles is a problem.
The attorney-general suspects the ombudsman’s astrological inclinations.
The documentarian refuses the key to the city.
Several optimists discuss a news report about Japanese pessimism.
A butte awaits paving.
The killer announces the colour scheme of her next wrongdoing.
A tremendous tidal wave massages a blue whale.
Household telephones disappear at dawn.
Everyone murmurs in unison.
A junior employee issues a report on departmental commonalities.
It is erroneously assumed to be Sunday morning.
Sixteen cases of zinfandel fall from the rear loading bay without shattering.
His reputation suffers in ways he does not understand.
Undergraduate advisors at the University of Wisconsin enjoy the rare occasion of a casual drink.
A mysterious contagion slows production at a pulp and paper mill.
An unsuccessful novelist toes off his sneakers and initiates crunches on the cold cement floor.
Someone is waiting for the priest to confess.
There is no memorial service for the recently combusted.
No one forgets the old highway.
The editor-in-chief coughs and considers a return journey to Anchorage.
Popular exercises in the improvement of mood are proven to be based on false premises.
The brake pads have not been replaced as claimed.
Future zoning laws will not correct the wayward course of present seismological research.
None of the beavers’ dams survived the storm.
The toilet flushes on its own every second time you think of your dead wife.
A car is not a dream worth dreaming.
Splashes of girls’ tears freeze into icicles.
No forays end well.
A newly discovered asteroid is named after a physicist who falsified his credentials.
Very few attending remember the first sermon.
Two ambitious terrorists clink cups of brandy.
The sun sets on Brussels.
Money makes zebra hunters happy.
The comedienne wears a necklace of human fangs.
Your family insists on dressing unfashionably.
Homeowners aspire to be kings.
The men of ruined committees yawn into the night.
A corporation is that same strangely soothing bluish shade.
A young woman is the first to be slashed to death outside her dormitory.
Seasons pass in silence.
AM radio personalities achieve sentience in unexpected ways.
The libretto is agreed to be excessively melodramatic.
Your father whispers to you about his days a soccer linesman.
A buzzard must learn to squint before it can dine.
Racist doctors make terrible patients.
The debt service reserve account is inaccurately described in the report.
Sympathy is not an excuse.
Half the runners finish the race without registering their names.
Your favourite star supernovas yet again.
Breakfast is served just as the woman removes her leather veil.
NASA issues a statement meant to reassure.
Intangibility is shunned.
A large churning crowd erupts into the exact chaos many had feared.
The router will not be repaired.
The man’s kidnapper is identified as his identical twin.
Languages die like lame steeplechase champions.
When you quote shamed philosophers you insult the very idea of freedom.
The policemen regrets the gunplay and the friction and the ocean.
Past woes once again butcher all hope of relief.
There is nothing to be done about those ponies.
You are still saddled with desire and gloom.
The receptionist does not adjust her unadjustable headset.
An entire generation of gamblers must be familiarized with new and improved software platforms.
Dusky branches crackle and fall with the thrust of the smoke.
No ships will leave the dock until the shipping containers are accounted for in full.
A pregnant woman mispronounces the name of her unborn daughter.
The skull is neatly bisected and placed upon the desk.
Science has yet to explain the persistence of these pulsations.
The song that plays at your funeral features not one but three unnecessary modulations.
Epiphanies come and go.
There is no movie being made about the man who invented anguish.
Everyone here is suppressing a sigh.
The purifying fire is still going and going and going.
North America continues to shrink.
The referee is tormented by a nagging question about this latest dance craze.
Weasels would pay taxes if they could.
There is no turning back once you cross the coral reef.
A stack of faxes on a shelf is no replacement for the authentic autograph of a diamond miner.
The shopping mall still echoes with bazooka fire.
You have the blood of doves on your new gloves.
Questions remain about the security of the fallout shelter.
The guitar is tuned to simulate the pained wail of an orphaned dolphin.
Two hundred years pass before anyone knows what has happened.
The final earthquakes begin in the Tropic of Capricorn.
The elevator repair staff leaves the building for a long and leisurely lunch.
Final moments occur in the lower interiors of the new church.
Your sister stumbles down the plastic corridor in a drunken frenzy.
A bad dream is not necessarily a call to action.
A man with illegal urges opens a letter from a forgotten enemy.
There are no openings for left-handed piano players on the cruise ship circuit.
Gorgeousness is no match for pride in hideousness.
Red tide algal blooms devastate large sections of the ocean floor.
The herd of antelope successfully evades the lion.
Doctors suggest that those with concerns about their lungs should worry more about their brains.
The advice you gave that teenager was appalling and reckless.
The current reigning Miss America is the daughter of an alcoholic geneticist.
Hope is only a possibility for those who used the expensive shampoo.
Over that ridge there is a lake full of entrails.
After lunch the analysts will discuss the frightening implications of the most recent forecast.
Eighteen patients were lost in the swirl of the sandstorm.
A lizard refuses to move.
An unknown number of mysteries have yet to be unexplained.
All mail deliveries will be delayed pending the clearing of all that mud.
One of these three trunks contains an asp.
It will take a lifetime to correct all these errors.
The dying tycoon laments that he never saw the Pyramids of Egypt.
Holding on to the vagaries of youth can lead to a painful demise.
It is not the same geodesic dome everyone thought it was.
Most of the students are expect to fail miserably.
The fifty-year-old air conditioner is apparently working again.
Pastures often become shipyards with age.
The celebrity chef clenches his fists and swears he’ll turn his life around before winter.
This year the city again experienced its usual increase in hate crimes.
No one is more beloved than a motivational speaker who is past his prime.
Clinical depression has migrated from species to species for millennia.
The most shocking fable is the one about the children.
Your failures are no one’s problem but your own.
The construction lending portfolio is a mess.
There are three times as many Libras as Capricorns in the South Asian entertainment industry.
Alternative derivation of such a relation for disjoining pressure inculcates the stress tensor.
This is the first and last footnote he will ever compose.
Deep in the jungle there is a lake of platinum.
Theories are spreading about that strange cough.
The ten-year-old boy cries in terror at the prospect of finally meeting his father.
New Zealanders are not as superstitious as they used to be.
He does not enjoy watching baseball since the divorce.
A pattern is emerging among the civil wars.
Life as we know it resembles an ocean.
This is the last time you ever have sex.
The praying mantis is a horrible confessor.
The television will never ever be turned off.
There is a well of infinite depth somewhere in Maine.
In twenty-six hours the mayor will divulge his secrets.
A man who loves his wife dearly is nonetheless tempted by an attractive flight attendant.
Vulnerability is an illusion.
For every dead monk in Vietnam there are six schoolgirls yet to find righteousness.
The universities will be ranked by flammability.
This topiary garden has been overrun by neo-conservatives.
You are a burner of crosses.
The second cameraman has left his focus drift toward a large woman pacing at sidestage.
The icy soccer field resembles the surface of the moon.
Analyzing the characters of this romance novel reveals a lot about their Scientologist author.
Townsfolk become enraged at the fighter jets soaring overhead.
Wrecking balls soften in the midday gloom.
Geometry is not as persuasive as common taxonomy.
The junior sales representative refuses to abandon his workstation.
Not everyone loves beach volleyball.
There is something quivering in the last drips of the darkened waterfall.
Her anger is not something of which she is proud.
The divorce is not the real source of this controversy.
Bats overtake the butcher’s shop.
This is the sharpest knife ever sold over the radio.
One can live forever in a lopsided house and not even be aware of it.
Malibu is identified as the city with the least amount of mercy.
Two skiers collide in mid-air.
There is a housecat with a vendetta.
The syringe is mistaken for a drill.
The poem is noted for its lack of nuance.
The gears of the clock are clogged with arterial tissue.
Appendices are being included with the final dossier.
A television executive pitches an idea for a new program about heretical time travelers.
Your favourite hue of green indicates you are dying of acute anxiety.
The girl’s diary again bursts into flames.
The ride from Sacramento to Vancouver takes much longer than anticipated.
The father of a revolutionary is disconcerted by the Chicago Tribune.
Her clitoris reminds the assembly of something a madman might fear.
No one here demonstrates excellence.
Disappointment is the hallmark of these days.
Journalism by women is something the senior staff will need to discuss.
September is the perfect month for an invasion by sea.
That is not the digestible putty.
Two swimmers give severe nausea as their reason for exiting the competition.
Moths glide along the eaves.
Surviving a bitter breakup is not as difficult as completing a villanelle with a fractured sternum.
Boys are wearing hats in an outdated style.
The unknown factor turns out be an unpleasant truth.
The evacuation of the sisters will begin at noon sharp.
A fine glass of Knob Creek will soothe you more than the embrace of a nervous lover.
The administrative assistant celebrates her thirtieth birthday with a night of self-flagellation.
The sixth version of the proposal now includes an appeal to the council for propriety and focus.
She is understandably nervous about meeting her doppelganger at the amusement park later today.
There is nothing to be afraid about when it comes to that lynx.
The playwright is indebted to his dealer for giving him the Vicodin needed to complete the last scene.
Lions never retire.
A good day is a day free of being stalked.
He informs his mother that there will no longer be any reason for their weekly phone calls.
The entire stock of these nylons has depleted.
A child requests a lozenge for the very last time.
Midwifery is to be outlawed in most of Eastern Europe.
It has been a long time since anyone has broken up a cockfight.
No ex-governor has ever slept so well and for so long.
Headlights train across the site of last year’s duel.
An eighth cocktail is vastly superior to the first seven.
Hinterland violence is marring an otherwise clean season.
Suggestions that topicality has debased discourse are inherently untrue.
A retired pastor is being lauded by a local newsletter for his bravery.
Ribbons of fur fly away from the papercutter.
The Norwegian robot is surprisingly affordable and durable.
The official uniform of an aspirant torturer is the linen sport jacket.
The collateral for the loan consists of a rain-swept valley that has long been forgotten.
The paperboy worries that he has become addicted to the smell of wet ink.
Evidence of extraterrestrial life is discovered on a garbage-laden shipping barge in the South Pacific.
She will know when the cycle is complete.
All of these fires are all-consuming.
Boulders of quartz line the boardwalks of Aspen.
It is a foolhardy bid to grasp at straws that exist only in your imagination.
The way you hold that clarinet is an affront to those that have already mastered its techniques.
The true hero only emerges in the last moments of the epilogue.
The sequined masks hide only the cheeks of former attendees.
The computer programmer backs cautiously away from the sink.
Entire committees have formed and folded over discussions of the linear operator.
Only a true fanatic would indulge in behaviour such as this.
Tribesmen refuse to surrender their inline skates.
A devoted mother of three draws up plans to build an Ark.
No one ever lost money betting against Ecuadoran hornets.
Ponies string the shoreline.
Ambition stumps the overweight.
The agency’s downfall began with a strange ratings adjustment in February of that year, released without any obviously attributable context. To quote, excerpted: CSCD today confirms a rating of Stable on Direct BiContinental Intermediate Holdings LLP (DirectBi), based on Q3 results. DirectBi credit quality has been supported by strong operating characteristics of its subsidiary, Direct TriContinental LLP (DirectTri), largely driven by the relatively stable water-heater rental and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) business, accounting for the majority of available cash flow and servicing a portfolio of more than 1.3 million rental water heaters in the applicable service region. Maintenance capital expenditures reflect the cost of preserving the long-term operation of the existing water-heater assets. There is also concern that, in sustaining such viable, frugal long-term capital expenditures (capex), DirectBi may be violating sacred tenets cast to dispersal by the Supreme Dark Lord Satan, he so irresponsibly dubbed The Taunter, The Rival, The Shepherd of Waywardness, The Pommel of Guttings, The Inflammable Scoundrel, The Flowzy Flatterer, The Haunter of Corridors, The Sealant of Ages, The Wretch at Village’s End, and so forth; nonetheless, these maintenance expenditures remain stable and predictable, thereby reducing the volatility of free cash flows. As a result, CSCD views current operating risk as moderate, given the value proposition offered to customers, the high customer-retention rates and the non-cyclical nature represented in these Q3 results.
I could never buy a record by an ugly group. I just couldn’t.
If you want to cut your own throat, don’t come to me for a bandage.
A few months ago I submitted a proposal to the 33 1/3 music writing book series. This proposal was not really all that great. A worthy exercise, however, and an excuse to watch lots of great Youtube videos.
Here was the proposed chapter breakdown for a book on Duran Duran’s Seven and The Ragged Tiger (I also drafted a long-ish intro chapter that was all about Princess Diana and Frederic Jameson and a lot of bullshit that, understandably, failed to convince).
Introduction: “These Imperialist Wimps”
1. Birmingham Blahs: Lace, Rouge and The New Romantic
The Dawn of the Eighties – Art School Confidentials – Handsomeness – New Romanticism – Simon LeBon in the Age of The Effete – “Planet Earth” and The Cooling of Neofuturism
2. Rio and The Death Throes of British Colonialism
The Hurried Follow-Up – “The Second British Invasion” – Duran Duran Sexually Assaults America – Young Brits Yachting in Ceylon – “Hungry Like The Wolf”: LeBon Goes A-Hunting – From lace collars to leisure suits
3. Down and Out in Montserrat
“Is There Something I Should Know?” – Corporate Triumph and Tucked-In Ties – The Hasty Follow-Up – Failed Sessions and Stunted Development – The Fury of Andy Taylor – “Barely controlled hysteria, scratching beneath the surface” – The #1 Debut
4. Synthesizing The Sensual, or The Two-Fingered Virtuosity of Nick Rhodes
Digital Technology and The Refinement of Utopia – Effacing The Seventies and The Hazards of Technique – “Tiger Tiger” – Duran Duran: The Anti-Springsteen
5. “The Reflex”: Under The Influence of Nile Rodgers
The 12” Single: The Greatest Format Ever? – Rodgers, Remixes and Recycling – Cocaine and Supermodels – How John Taylor Really Slaps His Bass
6. MTV In The Year of Our Lord Nineteen Eighty-Four
“New Moon on Monday” – Fake Revolutions and Russel Mulcahy’s Delusions of Grandeur – Martha Quinn in Heat – Pouting On the Cover of Rolling Stone
7. “Of Crime and Passion”
Simon LeBon Makes Love to the Camera - Sobbing Teenagers – “Union of the Snake”: AIDS, Tantric Sex and Sadomasochism – The Death of The New Romantic and The Rise of The Foot-High Mullet
8. Arena, “Sing Blue Silver,” and The Seduction of The Masses
The Worst Concert Film Ever Made? – Digital Waterfalls – Barbarella Defaced
9. Whither The Wild Boys
The Boring Dystopian Vision of William Burroughs – The Power Station vs. Arcadia – “Cracks in The Pavement” – Roger Taylor Retreats to the Countryside – Andy Taylor Loses His Shit in LA
Conclusion(?): The Triumph of The Ragged Tiger
Notorious and The Dark Years – The Wedding Album: Warren Cuccurullo’s Big Moment – More Dark Years – The Inevitable Reunion – Simon LeBon Grows a Beard – Does Duran Duran Mean Anything?
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Somewhat recently I wrote my third-ever book review for HTML Giant (the first two were for now-defunct Eye a few years ago, and not anyone’s finest work). I’d just purchased Spencer’s book at a Coach House launch a few days before and was motivated to write about it by sheer what-the-hell. Yes, the review’s a tad overwrought, but I was going for something so gimme a fucking break.
In his much-cited 1993 essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, David Foster Wallace bemoans what he then saw as the rise of a mode of hyper-referential, pop/junk-culture-splattered fiction, one where “velocity and vividness—the wow—replace the literary hmm of actual development,” that in lieu of plot or character favours moods, the “antic anxiety, the over-stimulated stasis of too many choices and no chooser’s manual, irreverent brashness toward televisual reality,” and—like television or other similarly clipped fields of entertainment (Wallace, writing in the nineties, naturally focuses on TV, but his arguments are easily transposed to today’s even vaster glut) operate in images, rather than quaint notions of emotionality. In pursuit of surface realism, there is risk of forsaking heaviness, or timelessness, or truth.
As in every era, today’s crankers-out of culture face this squirrely dilemma of realism: just how far the boundaries of mundane contemporaneity can or should extend, and how useful any parameters therein might be delineated—that is, the question of how realism should be definedright now, and whether such a classification matters, or even exists. If an author adopts or mangles forms anchored explicitly in “today,” is such a thing inherently parodic, or just being true to the times? It is certainly possible to write fiction about Facebook (and, oh, it is done), but do we find this acceptable?
Spencer Gordon’s new short story collection Cosmo enthusiastically elbows its way into that mosh pit of a question with equal measures vigour and charm.
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(A few days ago I participated in a thing called WRITE CLUB here in Toronto — explanation here. I was assigned the topic of “Wild,” in opposition to “Tame.” I won my round; proceeds of my victory went to the OSPCA/Ontario Humane Society. Here’s what I read (hastily slapped together that day on an extended lunch break.))
It is widely assumed that the well-known 1967 anthem “Born to Be Wild” by the rock band Steppenwolf was conceived by John Kay, born Joachim Fritz Krauledat, road-dragged lead vocalist and he of a quintessentially leathery vibe.
However, the song was in fact composed by Oshawa native Dennis Eugene McCrohan, aka “Denny,” aka Dennis Edmonton, aka Mars Bonfire, while in the proto-Steppenwolf rock and roll group The Sparrows. Originally conceived as a ballad, a deeply personal attestation to the raptures of the open road and a celebration of the individual spirit, it was refashioned through Steppenwolf’s organ-driven thump for their debut LP into a rowdy populist hit, and a #1 single.
Mars Bonfire, while never a full member of Steppenwolf (though his brother, Gerald McCrohan, aka Jerry Edmonton, remained as the group’s drummer until 1972) enjoyed a limited degree of success in his own solo career, with a handful of solo albums evidently inspired by various strains of Aquarian mysticism; his only major success was 1971’s “Crystal Lady Dreamer (From Dimension Six),” which reached a respectable #19 on Billboard and led to Bonfire’s now-infamous awkward guest appearance on The Flip Wilson Show. Of particular influence on Bonfire’s conceptual lyricism was the text titled The Aquarian Age Gospel of Jesus, the Christ of the Piscean Age, published in 1908 by one Levi H. Dowling, a preacher from Bellville, Ohio. This account, concerning an eighteen-year span of Jesus’s early adult life largely undocumented in scripture, finds him on a spiritual quest to centers of wisdom throughout India, Tibet, Persia, Assyria, Greece, and Egypt. This vision of the true holy man as the traveller and pilgrim was one taken closely to heart by McCrohan, aka Bonfire, who migrated from Toronto in Los Angeles in the mid-sixties just in time to participate in the burgeoning of various New Age movements, finding at its epicenter of a young Hollywood artistic elite in Dennis Hopper, acclaimed actor and director, an inspiring mystic and also a lapsed Catholic.
When his self-admittedly tossed-off story about rapper DMX’s rumoured homosexuality morphed from a thing for a gossip web site into a lengthy piece that wound up in Details, his caché had evolved from mere aspiration to something actual and considerable.
Then the person on the line speaks. I know about you, it says in a deep, calm voice. Jovena asks again who this is. A pause, then the voice says: there’s evil in your soul. Evil. And even when that door behind you closes, another one opens. Jovena thinks she recognizes the voice, but no name or face comes to mind. She tells the person she will call the police. Ignoring this, the person says: there is that door, and behind that door, there is a room full of birds. That’s where I’ll be waiting. Click. A moment later she dials *69, but the caller’s identity can not be retrieved.
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I will soon be married. It will be a modest affair, compared to the scale of many mega-weddings, those maelstroms of stress and grandeur. But there will be vows; there will be a ceremony; I bought a new suit. My beloved wife-to-be now wears a ring, and in about a week I will wear one too.
My younger self would have scoffed. My younger self would have cursed my present, spongier, mid-thirties self. For in the rage and venom of the young dwells bizarre wisdom: it is truly good to be determined and fortress-like. It is, yes, a certain surrender to do that which is done, and has been done, and to follow customs, and to consult a committee of else when the self remains pure, strong, chiseled. My younger self envisioned a life of steely solitude interrupted by bouts of waywardness, thinking it better to wake up to no ass than the same ass every day, forever.
That younger self is in many respects right: boredom kills the soul. But a marriage is not a surrender to the humdrum, but rather an induction to wisdom, to growth, to an opening. It is a different sort of leap, and if the ass is good, then the ass will remain good.
The guards seize Zeke.
Punch him in the balls. But lightly. Don’t maim him, just make him feel he’s done something wrong. We need him away for a bit.
Rick, come on.
The guards punch Zeke lightly in the balls.
For many, the mountain that was Vovo seemed eternal and unassailable; for this colossus to weep foretold of doom. But beyond us, deeper than our hidden selves, were our nicknames, given to us by compatriots and ancestors and foes. Muncho. The Disaffecter. Hillbilly Greg. Downtown Saigon. Saskatoon. Hippocrates. CrawMaster. Void Guy. Ur-Princess. Smokester. Six Forty-Five. The Eskimo. S-Train. Pooch 2.0. MegaSteel. Bluey.
Old Scratch. The Mystifier, The Flatterer, The Opposer. Shaytān. The pseudepigraphical haunter of our dreams. As Vovo used to love to call it/him/them: The Thing That Flutters Like a Bat But Is Not a Bat. The Drowser at The End of the Bar. The Hundred-Browed Beast. The Cautionary Tale. The Brewer of All Despair, Our Guy of Air’s Power Who Worketh in The Children of Disobedience.
Regarding the controversy over Hickshaft’s nickname, we look to the etymological roots of the English word controversy, “to turn against,” which implies the red-cheeked denial of one’s own much-earned nickname. Why would an otherwise intelligent person dispute a nickname? Because that person has undoubtedly gone insane, and even all the comforts this soft world provides can’t lessen that blow, unless the awfulness can be renamed. Yama may be the God of Death, but that is only a nickname; the true death lies in the voided entry, in “N/A,” in nothingness.
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