the kudzu review: a live studio audience

More shameless self-promotion! A variation on A Hatred of Clubbing That Transcends Generations, now named A Live Studio Audience has found a home in the virtual pages of the inaugural edition of The Kudzu Review.

Commence celebratory dancing in the streets now.

This is how I both celebrate and mourn.

douglas, the commune christmas tree

Douglas, The Commune Christmas Tree. He’s a happy little fellow with a red star.

my mum, the superhero

A short list of reasons why my mum is a superhero. In no particular order.

She wears a Batsuit.

I once nicknamed her housecoat “The Batsuit” in an attempt to mock her. (It had to do with certain resemblances to the Schumacher/Clooney batnipples.) Like any person full of win, Mum turned this around on her would-be bully and now we ALL call it “The Batsuit.” She even put “New Batsuit” on her Christmas list.

Her costume does vary at times.

She cultivates a well-groomed alter ego.

Mum’s the life of the party, Bruce Wayne-style. She’s also got a ton of hobbies and career choices that seem to be perfect cover stories for someone who secretly lives the life of a crime-fighter. Travel Agent = Easy Excuse for Travelling to Exotic Locales in Search of Scum and Villainy. Wine Taster = Senses Well-Honed to Perfection for Sniffing Out Trouble. Dental Assistant = Imagine What You Can Fashion Those Sadistic Tools Into. Curling = Something About a “Clean Sweep.”

Subtlety is not always the key to blending into society.

She has a Fortress of Solitude.

Only she calls it “The Princess Room.” It’s where she keeps her yoga CDs, aromatherapy stuff, and all the family albums. You don’t mess with her down time. But Superman had to fly around the world to reach his little sanctuary. He would be gone for a long time, letting crime run rampant in Metropolis while he was off sleeping in an ice cave,* but Mum just needs a quick twenty minutes after a long day at work and then she’s back in the thick of the fray: re-energized and ready to kick ass.

We all have different ways to relax.

She rules a fear-based regime.

Just like Batman crafts the persona of the Dark Knight as so to inflict fear into the hearts of the criminals of Gotham City, Mum ruled my childhood home with the stern veneer of a ruthless vigilante. After school, but before she got home from work, Disney Afternoon would pop on the television in a fit of rebellious glee. The seediness of our after-school existence was apparent: dishes in the sink, shoes scattered about the hall, backpacks dropped in the middle of the floor. All of it: evidence of the brutality of the underworld. But lo! Suddenly, there would come a noise! The car in the drive: the tires, the engine, the slamming of the door. It struck a terror into our hearts just as deep as any Batsignal or glib one-liner from a web-slinger. Without her even lifting a finger, harmony was restored once more.

We have ways of making you talk.

She’s a marvel of medical science.

She scoffs at doctors and other so-called medical professionals. “Gall bladder? Bah. Don’t need it! Come on, world, what else’ve you got?!” She’s never met a tranq dart capable of taking her down nor a canister of tear gas that could quell her rage. She can write her own damn prescriptions, thankyouverymuch. I’m fairly certain she has the ability to stop time, Zack Morris-style. That’s the only thing I can think of that would explain her uncanny ability to multi-task (as well as all the tiny details she somehow knows about my private life).

SHE may have survived the procedure, but that doesn't mean the medical team did.

She has a sidekick.

He’s called my dad. He’s kind of Robin/Alfred/Lois Lane/Nick Fury all rolled into one. If Mum told him to, I bet he’d even wear the tights and carry the Bat Shark Repellant.

Even superheros have Hawaiian shirt day.

Global TV owes her a printer.

This is actually why I decided to make this list. I got a call from her today while I was at work. Apparently, her expert pub quiz skills were put to good use this morning and she won a printer from Global TV. “Great!” Mum said to the lady who called her, “I don’t have a printer!” “Okay,” the lady replied, “I’ll email you the details and you just need to print it off and mail it in.” “But wait,” Mum challenged, “I just said I don’t have a printer.” And then Global TV vanished in a puff of logic.

Her attempts to save the world from ME may have failed, but at least she gets an annual Mother's Day gift out of it.

She raised me.

That takes balls.

_____________

*Or whatever the crap he did in there. I don’t really know. I never read Superman when I was a kid.

for christmas one year I got a jem doll and middle-class guilt

This is the story of How I Learned to Start Worrying and Hate Class Differences. I’m pretty sure most of why I grew up to appreciate Marx is encapsulated in this tiny little nugget of childhood.

This is the second time I’ve had to write this post (as I’ve already grumbled about). Whenever such a thing happens, I try to be all self-help sentimental about it and tell myself that this simply means it will be better the second time around.

That’s probably not true. I’m pretty sure I struck gold before. This is just cheap brass in comparison.

Anyway.

If you were female and under the age of ten in the late eighties, you may remember a cartoon called Jem and the Holograms. The entire show was basically one half-hour-long toy advert. It told the story of plucky, young music producer, Jerrica Benton, who moonlights as plucky, young, pink-haired rock star, Jem. An entrepreneurial music producer and a rock star. No matter who you were in the eighties, rebel or yuppie, one of these careers greatly appealed to you.

This was also pre-Spice Girls/Hannah Montana, but post-glam rock, so I’m pretty sure Jem was just a female Ziggy Stardust.

Apparently, this is a small child's idea of a feminist utopia.

This show basically treated rock stars as superheroes. They have secret identities. They wear flashing tights. They have magic jewellery. Green Lantern had a ring; Jem has a snazzy pair of earrings which are “able to project holograms around her and [she] uses this ability throughout the series to avoid danger and provide special effects for the performances of her group.”*

Because, let’s face it, you have this amazing “holographic technology” but, rather than use it to fight crime or do something useful, you use it to put on an awesome stage show. I mean, get a fog machine or something.

There are also villains. With their own secret identities. And some of them are after the holographic technology. Some are just rival bands. My favourite were The Misfits, even though they begged a horrible comparison to the real Misfits, which I’m sure left many disappointed upon subsequent trips to Sam the Recordman or wherever else you bought your cassette tapes in 1987.

Not the same band.

One Christmas, my list of demands to the fat man was topped by a Jem doll.

THIS was my Red Rider BB Gun.

Since this was the late eighties, Mum was doing her Christmas shopping at K-Mart and had to drag me along. I shouldn’t have, but I peeked into the shopping cart. Lo and behold, what did I see but Jem. In all her pink-cardboard-boxed glory.

“Mummy,” I asked, “Who is that for? Is that for… me?”

“No,” Mum scoffed, “Remember that box we saw by the door when we came in?”

“Yeah….”

“Well, that box is for people to donate toys to all the little girls and boys whose parents are too poor to get them any presents for Christmas.”

“Oh. Okay.”

My mind was blown.

Keep in mind, I was only about four or five. I was too young to appreciate the subtleties of things like class distinctions and tax brackets. My understanding of rich versus poor had been determined solely by Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim.

Shown: a four-year-old's idea of poverty

The only people I recognized in my life that I could clearly label “poor” were homeless people, who seemed to me then as exclusively male and middle-aged. I didn’t realise that, in real life, children could be poor. The idea that there were kids who didn’t get Christmas presents caused my world to immediately grow four times in size, just like the Grinch’s heart.

That the Jem doll would go to one of these poor children seemed perfectly reasonable. Still unaware of my parent’s own fiscal limitations, I felt guilty that we weren’t buying all the toys in K-Mart to donate to these kids.

But, come Christmas morning, I indeed found the Jem doll beneath the tree.

Despite my initial elation at receiving my most-desired gift, I looked to Mum, a desperate tear in my eye. “I thought this was for the poor kids.”

“Oh,” she lied again, “It was. This one is from Santa.”

“Oh. Okay!”

But dramatic irony is a solid fist of fury. Of course the day would come when I would learn that *SPOILER ALERT* Santa was not real.

I don’t remember how old I was when I realised this, but I do remember that I suddenly felt a great sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What was this strange, unpleasant sensation? What happened to my secure sense of self? What was this feeling?

It was the first time I’d ever experienced middle-class guilt. It never really went away.

________

* Thanks, Wikipedia!

an explanation for the increased activity

So I’ve finished another novel.

It’s not about Pirates in Space. In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite.

It’s about two step-siblings who start an affair after the death of their younger brother (who narrates the story).

Very strange turn to take, I know.

Anyway, the first draft of the manuscript is done. I’m now reading and editing and devoting the next few months of my life to catching up on other projects that aren’t novels. Including film. And reading books. And having a social life.

I'm so happy, I could sit in bed all day and cry! Wait, that's what I did BEFORE...

I started work on this one at the beginning of September, so it’s been a short gestation period, but it kind of took over my creative life. Perhaps it was necessary to do something quiet and character-driven following a space opera.

I guess it’s the same for actors.

Anyway.

This is also why I’ve not really followed up on publication with pirates in space. In which direction do I want to aim my career? Genre or literary?

(first world problems)

I don’t know. But this does mean that I should be blogging more.

Unless the muse should grab me by the balls again.

way to out-hipster the hipsters, fox news

Much has already been discussed about Fox News calling The Muppets Communists, and that sound you may have heard was a billion people’s jaws dropping to the floor with a resounding “Whaaa….aaaaat?”

The headline “Are Liberals trying to brainwash your children against capitalism?” might seem like too much, but then when they proclaim that the liberal bias lies with the new villain being an oil tycoon (as if this is something that has never been done before), you groan with a sudden, deeper despair for humanity than you’ve ever, ever had.

Well, they did sneak him back in to the country in an armoured train, right? Right?!

An oil tycoon as a villain? That’s where you draw the line, Fox News? I’m pretty sure that on Hollywood’s List of Most-Unsympathetic-Villains-Ever, “Oil Tycoons” are second only to “Nazis.”

Now, the utter absurdity of Fox News is something one could rant about endlessly, but I would rather like to think of the detrimental effect this will have on comedy, especially Satire.

I suppose Jim Henson DID have a personality cult.

Satire is easily my most favourite brand of comedy. You can satirize almost anything on any level. It is what makes comedy transcend. It makes comedy an art.

So with this whole Muppetista scandal, the guy I feel really bad for is Stephen Colbert and other satirists like him whose entire bits are focused on the aforementioned utter absurdity of outlets and institutions like Fox News.

I mean, what can they do now? They’re screwed.

But so does this douche.

It reminds me of a discussion my roommates and I had about all the hipsters moving into our neighbourhood in the last year or so. We were no longer the resident over-educated/under-employed twenty-somethings.

We thought about how one might “out-hipster” the hipsters.

I suggested that the only way was to be ironic, ironically.

But how far does it go? How far can one fall down the rabbit hole? What if Being Ironic, Ironically catches on with the skinny jeans crowd? Can you even Be Ironic, Ironically, Ironically?

Definitely looks like Soviet Realism to me.

It’s like holding up a mirror to a mirror and watching it spin-off into infinity, the diminishing returns disappearing off into the distance. Before long, you’ve looped back around and the only way to truly be ironic is to be just absolutely sincere.

So, this is my theory:

As stupid as this whole “Miss Piggy Must Be Stalin” makes Fox News look, I fear this may actually have been their intent. They’ve “out-hipstered” the hipsters. They’ve been just SO utterly absurd that they’ve rendered themselves Beyond Satirization.

Which one is Bill O'Reilly?

So now the Fourth Estate is useless.

Yes, Fox News, The Communists HAVE won.

hungry, hungry internet

So I wrote a wonderful (trust me) post about this Jem doll that I got one Christmas in my wee years. However, the Internet, hungry little beast it is, ate it. No idea what happened.

The internet did to my post what this monkey is doing to this dog.

Later, I shall endeavour to recreate the magic. But, for now, a little taste…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmYU4CeuZQ0

try and try again, universe

Apparently, The Universe read my post yesterday and, following my profound revelation that ‘it’s the little things that make me happy,’ decided to turn those Little Things against me.

Such an endeavour, Universe, such a valiant endeavour.

It seems The Universe has discovered a way to militarize The Little Things and they are now mobilizing.

How does one turn pay-day against a civil servant? Only by taxing the Be-Jesus out of your overtime pay! Hey, Universe, that money already made its way into my holiday budget. Now someone in my family is getting one less silk-screened kitten sweatshirt this Christmas and it’s all your fault.

Thanks, Universe. That was a nice little Fuck you for the holidays.

"I'm The Universe and I'm here to fuck your shit up."

At first I felt ripped off (and still kinda do), but then I suddenly felt like a selfish brat for complaining about my #firstworldproblems.

It’s not like the strife of a Canadian government employee having to pay an extra dose of income tax whilst enjoying all the benefits of healthcare and highways is sure to elicit sympathy. Also, I’m pretty sure I was a socialist once upon a time. Now I’m firing off angry emails and gossiping in a bitchy tone of voice. That’s the bureaucratic equivalent of flaming pitchforks and a mob chant. I want my money, dangnabbit.

Wow. Now that I think about it, I’m come a long way from what I always dreamed I would be by the time I reached twenty-eight.

Thanks, Universe. It’s no easy feat to turn pay-day into an existential, navel-gazing crisis.

Okay, maybe you will crush me, Universe.

It guess it wasn’t that hard after all.