Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book Launch Party, Economic Boondoggle, The Joys of “Thor” and Actually Leaving the House on a Saturday Night

First, to get the book updates out of the way: After a series of cover-art related delays, “The Acme Employee Handbook” has a launch date! It will be released on December 14th, with a book launch party in Australia! If all works out as planned, I will be Skyping in to do a live reading. More details coming soon.

“Cheesehead” will be up at Fiction on the Web on Wednesday. I’ll post the link here when it’s live.

Being a rabid fan of storytelling and podcasts, and therefore storytelling podcasts, I recently stumbled across “Risk”, a show very similar to NPR’s The Moth, but with a darker bent. One of the stories really struck me. It was about a true mountain man who lived for many years in the extreme outback of Alaska, and survived by hunting, fishing, trapping and skinning. Money was useless to him—he truly lived completely off the land, and described a number of close calls that made me sweat with anxiety just hearing them. The whole time I was listening to his story, all I could think was that he was crazy. “You can’t live your life like that!” I kept silently shouting at him in my mind. “That’s absurd! We have civilization so that we don’t have to spend our entire lives focused on base survival! Stop being an idiot and move to a city where it’s safe for God’s sake!”

But the more I listened to his story, while sitting on the Metro on my way to my harried, civilized job in the metropolis, the more I was struck with the utter, arcane senselessness of the modern way of surviving. I go to a job to get “dollars” so I can then spend those dollars on units of nutrition, shelter and clothing. Mountain Man didn’t require an intercessory. He bypassed the middle man and went straight to the source. Our entire economic system is a huge scam, and because I’m completely useless outdoors and a total wimp with no aim, I have to participate in it if I’m to survive. What does it all mean? Isn’t there a better way? What am I doing with my life???!!! This seems all wrong suddenly--terribly, terribly wrong-- and I just want to move to Montana and homestead and live close to the earth and…oh, who am I kidding. I don’t know even know how to pluck a chicken. I’m doomed to a pale gray drone-like existence in the Great Machine. C'est la vie.

I, The One Who Never Leaveth the House on Weekends, went out not once, but twice on Saturday! Mr. Typist and I whiled away two hours of our lives at “Thor: The Dark World.” I don’t know how I have come so far from extreme film snobbery to genuine affection for the “Thor” movies, but damn, I love me some Thor! And it’s not just because Chris Hemsworth is total eye-candy, although that helps. I think it’s because I find comfort in the highly stylized look of the films, I like the mythology, and I love the push-pull relationship between chaotic, morally questionable Loki and his long-suffering, noble brother Thor. Loki is awesome. Loki exists in all of our lives in some way, shape, or form, fucking up our well-laid plans, bringing our moral strictures into question, and generally sowing bedlam where we most want order and stability. Without Loki, we would be complacent creatures. Our brains would have no flexibility, our hearts no mettle.

Then, I met some friends for dinner and drinks, and went to a concert at the Tractor Tavern—shamefully, the first time I have been to the Tractor despite having lived in this neighborhood for, oh, about 12 years now. I’d forgotten how powerful it can be to hear live music, to mind-meld with the sound and the audience’s energy. I had great time, and I didn’t fall asleep at 11:00 p.m. as I feared I would. See, I’m still young and vital! I went to a concert! I stayed awake! I even rocked out a little. In your face, 44!

Here’s who I saw perform: Amy Cook and Alejandro Escovedo!

--Kristen McHenry

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