The Singles Collection is Here!

What you’re looking at here is the standalone stories from Volumes 2, 3, and 4 of Unnamed Journal. These include some very weird tales and some hilarious pieces as well. We’ve got Kaiser Wilhelm yelling at his generals in “How I’m Pretty Sure World War I Started”. We’ve got a strange love affair with a scarecrow in “Lost in the Cold, Strange Pleasure of the Night”. And perhaps my favorite piece, a primordial bureaucracy harnessing the typing power of simians to create the boundaries of reality in “Infinite Monkey Union.”

It’s on the Shallow & Pedantic Patreon, available to all Patrons, for the next 10 days. If you’ve ever thought about subscribing, now’s the time. Subscriptions are $1/month at the basic level, $2/month for upper-tier (which gives you early access to podcasts and other things).

We’re also going to make it available for direct-sale on our Gumroad for $5 even, starting next week. Now might be a good time to pick up our most recent issue. Use the discount code “uj23” to get $1 off.

Click here to go to our Gumroad.

More Noise on Bandcamp – A New Duke Bike Rider EP

The ease of digital recording has made it fun to collaborate with yourself.

All of these were made on Garageband, which is to say, they’re me on Guitar and bass, with drum fills borrowed. The exception is the opener, “Do Another One, Dad” which was just a series of fills created with the AuxyPro app on my phone, then transferred to Soundcloud and then Bandcamp.

I’ll probably do more of these, as it encourages me to actually learn and practice my instruments. Let’s face it, practicing is boring, and I’m the sort that won’t do it unless there’s a goal to work towards. I realize these are basic, and not examples of great songwriting, but I had fun with them.

William Shatner, Red Letter Media, and What Everyone Gets Wrong About Fandom

Never meet your heroes.

I’ve mentioned Red Letter Media before. They’re a YouTube channel that discusses film in a serious way, but with lots of jokes – spoonfuls of sugar to make the medicine go down. They’re different from most cinema nerds on YouTube in that they’ve actually undergone the process of making movies themselves – schlocky B-movies, that they themselves do not take seriously. But they’ve done it. They have some understanding of what it involves, so they talk about the nuts and bolts, which for a layman is an education.

Their infamous 70-minute review of The Phantom Menace taught a whole generation why the prequels weren’t working. Yes, they’ve savaged the Disney films as well. They especially made fun of Rogue One, which is the one everyone seems to love. They’re fair-minded and upfront about their perspectives.

They also do a MST3K-ish panel discussion of bad movies, called Best of the Worst, and they’ve had other creatives on as guest stars. Schlock ninja filmmaker Len Kabasinski has been on a couple of times, as has comic artist Freddie Williams, screenwriter Max Landis (before he got cancelled), comedian Patton Oswalt, and Macaulay Culkin, who’s practically a regular at this point.

I mention all of this because they’re a growing brand that is gaining widespread awareness. They hit 1 million YouTube subscribers recently. People have heard of them. Now, two of the three RLM stakeholders (Mike Stoklasa, Jay Bauman, and Rich Evans) are big Star Trek fans (I’m not going to call them Trekkies, for reasons that will become clear later). They talk about Star Trek a lot. They’re critical of the Next Generation movies, but love the show. They have nuanced criticisms of the recent film reboots. They do not like the more recent Star Trek Series, such as Discovery and Picard. But they stood up for one of the least-liked Trek movies, the 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture – a movie I’ve been wont to dismiss as “two hours of blue stuff”.

These two trends explain why RLM fans may have gotten it into their heads that William Shatner might become a guest on their show. They never invited him, but it became a meme anyway. This is an important point I’m going to come back to later.

Now I’m going to let Mike and Jay explain what happened next:

If you don’t want to spare the 20 minutes, Shatner got tired of being bugged on Twitter by RLM fans to be on the show. He was polite at first, if a bit shakey on the definition of “podcast” (which is fine, as “podcast” has a shakey definition). Then he started being less polite, then he started casually dismissing the RLM crew, watching tiny snippets of their videos and picking nits. This being Twitter, the volume increased, until the RLM guys had to stop what they were actually doing to announce that this was all a tempest in a teapot and it should all go away. Mike ends with the words “Leave him alone, because I just can’t take Captain Kirk pulling up pictures of me on The Nerd Crew (a satirical show they do) set, and calling me a moron. I just can’t take it.”

That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t. That video came on Thursday, (July 23rd). Yesterday (July 27th), Shatner unloaded both barrels at the RLM guys with a Medium.com article called “The Toxic Empires of Egoligarchies“. If you’re having a hard time getting past the title, I’ll summarize it for you: Shatner didn’t watch the video, even though he used pieces of it, and brings in GamerGate and a host of screencaps to prove that… RLM sent its fans on Twitter to harass him.

In William Shatner’s mind, this is the only possible explanation. Three guys from Milwaukee have a zombie horde of fans that they can turn on and off like tap water. That’s how fandom works.

The absurdity of claiming, in the face of no evidence, in the face of all contrary evidence, that the RLM guys signaled their fans to harass Shatner staggers the imagination. The entire pretentious diatribe (truly an accomplishment for Medium, a platform that specializes in transmogrifying peoples’ shower thoughts into “essays”) has enough circular reasoning in it to flatten a trailer park.

William Shatner knows better than this. William Shatner has had to deal with his own fans being out of control. So has George Lucas. So has everybody who has a fandom. Fandoms (oh, I how I loathe that word) are not armies, sent out into the world like digital stosstruppen to do their master’s bidding. If they were, then Red Letter Media, which is based on fans being critical of product, couldn’t possibly exist. Fans are human beings, and act along the gradient of human behavior. Some of them will be monsters, and some saints.

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since I was small. I’ve never gone to a fan convention. I’ve never bought a lightsaber or any other Star Wars paraphanelia. The only T-Shirts I have were given to me as Father’s Day gifts. I sold my old box of Star Wars toys at a yard sale for $5. More to the point, I think people who do fill their house with junk and go to such conventions are spiritually depleted dorks. Am I still a fan?

Art is a worthy topic of discussion. That’s why I have articles about Star Wars on this blog. But art is meant to be enjoyed, considered, and critiqued, not worshipped. Liking something is not a substitute for an identity. The RLM guys get that, which is why I watch their YouTube channel.

But I would never bother an octogenarian actor on Twitter to be on their show. I don’t understand why anyone would. I think doing that is just brainless schoolyard trolling, of the kind that makes Twitter nothing more than a blood-pressure surge device. Anyone who bugged William Shatner about a YouTube channel he’s never heard of is a waste of a rational soul. There’s no reason for it; you didn’t achieve your goal, and you manufactured the phoniest kind of drama in a world that is filled with real-life, actual drama. You are shrieking gibbons flinging poop and bits of half-chewed berries at the gravestone of our culture.

Now ask me: am I still a fan?

Go ahead, ask me.

Shallow & Pedantic 4: We All Shine On

This went up on the Patreon last week for subscribers, and went up on iTunes and Spotify not long after. It a podcast in theme of earlier episodes: exploring the gulf between a novel and its film adapation (in this case, The Shining) and what it is that Horror does. There’s some loud mike action in the early part of the episode: we were recording through masks and Mike brought his a little too close. But that evens out after the first stinger.

Now would be a good time to repost that Patreon link. There’s a new issue of Unnamed Journal out this month, and the way to get it is to be a subscriber ($1 a month) or buy it direct from our Gumroad. More on this in the coming days.

The Blues is Number One

This is your periodic reminder that my ongoing music review Tumblr Every Damn CD, is well, ongoing…

In fact, I have a second Tumblr, Art Rises where I reblog art and stuff from this website gets posted.

The New Year For Unnamed Journal

Unnamed Journal has finished four volumes and is about to start its fifth. It’s gotten into a nice steady rhythm now. I enjoy the process of creating it. Short fiction and essays are always a challenge worth grappling with.

But it wouldn’t be UJ if we weren’t thinking about how we could improve it.  A couple of things have been under serious, two-beers-in discussion:

  1. Opening Up Submissions. We’ve been producing everything in-house so far, except for one or two outside-written pieces. We’re open to having a place for other people’s wierd fiction, driven snark, and long-form jokes.
  2. Charging for Subscriptions. There’s a point at which giving it away for free loses its luster. Producing a literary magazine and a podcast does take some work. So we’re looking at Patreon as a possible solution, as well as others.

I suspect that if we do one of these, we’ll probably do both, as they both kind of fulfill the need to grow UJ to the next level. But everything’s on the table at this point, including staying the current course of a quarterly free lit mag.

In the meantime, links to all our currently available issues is found on the UJ page on this blog.

Generations Are Arbitrary. Act Accordingly.

punk-band-generation-x
Members of this band were all Boomers.

The idea of generations, especially as Demographers use them, is overrated. I’ve said so before, I’ll likely go on saying it.

Being born at the same time as others gives you a set of shared cultural memories and not much else. Now, those shared cultural memories can be powerful, especially given the rate of pop culture decay, but they aren’t as determinative as people like to believe.

I have some more to say on this topic, over on Contena.com, which is a writer’s resource that’s added a blogging feature. I like to try out blogging features, so I penned Dead X.

The idea of “Generation X” was coined by the Canadian writer Douglas Coupland, and he was referring to people born around his time, the late fifties to early sixties, who came of age in the seventies. Too young to really be involved in the great Sixties upheaval, they lived in the immediate consequences of it. We would call these folk today “Late Boomers”.

Now, this is a provocative idea, if we were to apply the 15-year cycle that Democraphers are fond of using today. What if, instead of this:

  • Baby Boom: 1946-1964
  • Generation X: 1965-1980
  • Millenials: 1981-1995
  • Generation Z: 1996-2010
  • Generation Alpha: 2011-2025

We borrowed from Coupland’s original notion, and went with this:

  • Baby Boom: 1946-1960
  • Generation X: 1961-1975
  • Generation Y/Xennials: 1976-1990
  • Generation Z/Millenials: 1991-2005
  • Generation Alpha: 2006-2020

This setup has the virtue of a) recognizing that postwar birthrates started to decline in the early 60’s, when birth control became a reality, b) using the original conception of Generation X, c) moving the group called “Millenials” to those born around the actual Millenium, and d) giving the “Xennial” identity an actual demography.

Of course, it would shift myself from Generation X to Generation Y, but it would put me in the same Generation as my wife, so… I can live with it.

The link to Dead X on my Contena profile again, that you may Read the Whole Thing.

 

Wisdom from the Lord of Battles — Reblog from The Writer in Black

The Havamal is a collection of sayings attributed to Odin, Lord of Battles, Most Wise and Most High. Much of it is advice on wisdom. Some of what is said here is specific to the time and place of Medieval Scandinavia and needs to be considered with that in mind. But much of it if […]

via Wisdom from the Lord of Battles — The Writer in Black

Quotations on Fantasy Literature — charles french words reading and writing

As this is a good quote, I shamelessly reblog it.

(https://pixabay.com) “One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.” C. S. Lewis (https://en.wikipedia.org) “Fantasy fiction is essentially about the concept of power; great fantasy fiction is about people who find it at great cost or lose it tragically; mediocre fantasy fiction is about people who have it and never lose […]

via Quotations on Fantasy Literature — charles french words reading and writing