Mundane Musings & Narcissistic Reveries|
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|Wednesday, July 1st, 2009|
|Family Troubles and eBay Auction
The less-than-prodigal blogger returns, hoping this doesn't sound like spam. Sorry I've not posted here in many strange eons, but Facebook takes up the majority of my online time these days.
Last Winter, my father underwent an operation to amputate his left leg. Back in the 90s, he'd undergone a femoral graft to shore up that artery and the doctors at the V.A. hospital told him it would only last for 10-15 years and that, when it failed, he'd probably lose the limb. Sure enough, 12 years later, that's what happened. Fortunately, there have been no major complications from the amputation, and Physical Therapists at the V.A. Hospital in Johnson City, TN, have been working with him to get him ready for a prosthetic, although that progress has been slowed by the more recent operation he underwent to remove his left kidney.
Unfortunately, once he became a uniped, his landlord became a douchebag, refusing to make a wheelchair ramp for the unit, or more outrageously, to put up a handicapped parking sign in front of it! His reasoning? "I don't want to encourage other handicapped retirees to move in." Or at least that's what he allegedly said to my stepmother.
The bastard is apparently within his rights, as the Fair Housing Act only applies to multi-user dwellings that had their first use after 1991, and dad's apartment complex has operated continually since the 50s. I wanted to at least publicize his landlord's behavior, with the hopes of shaming him into relenting, but Dad and my stepmother want to move out. They've lived there for 18 years, but don't want to stay on with such a bastard as their landlord. Can't say I blame them.
But moving out takes money, and they're on fixed incomes and I can only send them so much at a time. So I'm holding an eBay auction of what may be the rarest and most collectible item I own.
Back in the 80s, I wrote CRAZY CREATIVE WRITING: STORY STARTERS AND WORD BANKS for Carson-Dellosa, a local publisher of educational workbook. "Story starters" are the beginnings of simple short stories, each accompanied by a "Word Bank" of possible words to use in completing the story on the blank lines under the opening paragraph. My book contained 30 of these, and was aimed at teachers of grades 1-4.
In the 90s, when I was going to a lot of SF and fantasy conventions and working on my first novel, I asked various writers I'd met to complete stories in the book, just like they were kids in an elementary school classroom. Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z. Brite, Kelly Link, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Rachel Manija Brown, Rain Graves, Phillip Nutman and others complied.
Here's Neil's contribution (with some of it blocked off for the eBay auction, so that I'm not giving away the entire story).
At the time, a couple of contributors teased me about how I was pestering them into helping create a unique and potentially very valuable collectible. I knew that was true, but I was mainly doing it as a lark, and over the years since then, I've felt guilty about trying to sell it, not so much because it has huge sentimental value but because it seemed like a mercenary response to their friendly generosity.
However, in lieu of my parents' circumstances, I've changed my mind. When I asked Neil if he thought this was mercenary of me, he replied no, not at all, "it's not like you're going to use the money to buy edible kittens or something." I've been smiling at that phrase ever since.
So I just listed it on eBay. Neil, Poppy and Caitlin have agreed to publicize it on their blogs. The item # is 280364723261
Here's the auction
And yes, I know I misspelled my own damn name, leaving out an "l" in McDowell! Poppy kindly pointed this out to me, no doubt snickering to herself as she did so. It will have to stand, as I don't seem to be able to edit an item's description while the auction is active.
Wish me luck. I'm not posting here because I think this blog is widely read that it will get me any more bids, but so I'll have a link that I can point other people in the SF, fantasy and horror communities at, so they'll learn the story behind the auction and perhaps pass on information about it.
|Thursday, October 26th, 2006|
|If anyone wants a 36"x36" print of the Catastrophic Abcedarium
They're $15 each, including postage and handling, via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. For locals(i.e., those I can give the prints to in person), they're $10 each. I've actually sold a few since the art show on Tate Street, so I thought I'd try to market it more vigorously (see my previous post if you don't know what the Catastrophic Abcedarium is).
|Monday, October 16th, 2006|
|The Catastrophic Abcedarium: An Homage to Edward Gorey
Here's a piece that I recently created for a local art show. The show, which unfortunately was cancelled at the last minute (goddamit), was meant to be part of the annual Eccentrik Festival in Raleigh, NC, and the theme of this year's festival was "Natural and Environmental Disaster." Since I suspected everybody else was going to be uber-solemn, I decided to have some fun.( The Catastrophic AbcedariumCollapse )
|Sunday, May 28th, 2006|
|50,000 predators? I don't think so!
NPR's On the Media, which I'm listening to here at work, raises an objection that I'd already thought of to the widely-cited claim (heard, for instance, on early episodes of Dateline NBC's To Catch a Predator) that there are an estimated 50,000 sexual predators online at any one time. This is eerily familiar to anyone who remembers the Missing Children scare of the mid-80s or the Satanic Child Sacrifice hysteria from the end of that decade. Back then, it was claimed that "over 50,000" children were abducted every year and this figure came from the FBI, prompting the Bureau to release a statement that, no, only 300-400 children went missing each year, and the bulk of those were either teenaged runaways or kids abducted by estranged parents rather than predatory strangers (who only accounted for less than 100 cases in 1985, for instance). Then, egged-on by sleazy media pimps like Geraldo Rivera, a bunch of rightwing loonies started making the claim that infants were being "harvested" in "baby farms" and sacrified by "Satanic cults" to the tune of -- you guessed it -- "over 50,000 a year." The FBI objected that this was twice the average annual murder rate and that no infant mass graves or "secret incinerators" had ever been discovered, but it wasn't until it was revealed that most of the women who claimed to have been "breeders" for the "Internationl Satanic conspiracy" were either former mental patients or (then) currently in therapy that the hysteria died out.
Now we're being told that there are huge numbers of predators lurking online, waiting to entrap innocent children on MySpace or similar services. And how many of these predators are there? You guessed it, "over 50,000." The fear mongers really like that figure, don't they?
|Wednesday, May 24th, 2006|
|Monday, May 1st, 2006|
I used to think I didn't want to be buried.
Harvest my organs, scatter my ashes,
or donate my preserved flesh
for the practice of unpracticed hands
that wield their scalpels like the uncertain fingers
of piano students feeling out Concerto Number 2.
It seemed the ultimate egotism
to make some grassy plot forever me.
I still don't want the funeral, the formaldehyde,
the hermetic brass and plastic and concrete
sealing me in with my bacteria.
But it would be good to have a place
where you could come years later,
not to weep or mourn,
but just to say "I love you"
before you walked back
to your life outside the gates.
|Monday, April 24th, 2006|
|Birthday tally so far
THE PINKY VIOLENCE COLLECTION DVD boxed set from Keri. 1970s live-action Japanese girl-gang goodness. The set includes DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS, GIRL BOSS GUERILLA, CRIMINAL WOMAN: KILLING MELODY and the sublimely titled TERRIFYING GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL. Keri may well have replaced Kelly Link and Gavin Grant as the Person Who Gives the Most Awesome Gifts of Anyone I Know. What's really amazing is that she's only 20.
Flowers, a cherry pie, a maple man, sushi bandaids, and a honey-baked ham from Luva, which prompted my co-worker Pete to say "a woman gave you flowers AND meat AND she's a babe? You need to marry her!" (As I said to him, what with the heinous divorce she's going through, Luu is hardly in a mood to marry anyone, and if she was, she could do a lot better than me).
More memory for this iBook, from Rob.
Stephen Fry's MAKING HISTORY and MANHUNT: THE SEARCH FOR LINCOLN'S KILLER, from my parents.
|Entrances to Hell
I'm really impressed by this site, despite the evident need for a spell-checker. For some reason it reminds me of the Museum of Jurassic Technology (a real place in LA that Rachel introduced me to). Maybe it's time for a Hugo or Nebula award for best website.( Entrances to HellCollapse )
|Monday, March 27th, 2006|
|Wednesday, February 8th, 2006|
|A free (or at least reasonably priced) man.
The "misdemeanor stalking" case that a scumbag habitual felon crackhead named Willie Brooks brought against me (for taking his photo and putting it on a flyer with the highlights of his criminal history from the NC Dept. of Corrections website) was finally dismissed. My lawyer, Eric, who in the past had been so incompetent as to get me slapped with a Failure to Appear (and yes, I'm still pissed), finally proved to be worth more than what I'm paying him (which is nothing, especially since he screwed up last November!). Before the judge ever entered the courtroom, he walked up to the D.A. (something I couldn't have done -- if I hadn't had a lawyer, I wouldn't have been able to talk to her until my case appeared before the judge) and said "this is clearly a bullshit charge brought against my client by a habitual felon with a record a mile long." The D.A. looked at a copy of the flyer that started this whole mess, looked over the charges against me, and said "yes, it clearly is. Your client is free to go. May I keep a copy of this flyer, in case I ever end prosecuting Mr. Brooks for anything?"
A couple of days later, Eric called me to say that D.A. was filing the case as being against "John Doe," so that I won't have to get an expungement to keep it from showing up on a Criminal Records backbround check.
As for Willie, nobody has seen him in several months, although the UNCG cops have a string of warrants on him. One local officer, who has made it his personal crusade to arrest Willie whenever he can, suspects he's gone to Florida, as he also has a long criminal history there. Several people have opined that my flyers were instrumental in driving him out of our neighborhood. Rather than giving him money and letting him sleep on their porches, people started calling the cops whenever they saw him on private property. And when they heard that he'd brought charges against me (and that he'd assaulted at least one of their regular female customers), the Sicilian-Italians who own New York Pizza told him that they ever saw him pan-handling on the street outside their place again, he was a dead man. I should probably feel bad about that, but I don't. It wouldn't even bother me too much to discover that he'd been permanently disapeared by them.
|Wednesday, January 18th, 2006|
|Ideas for new faux exploitation movie poster?
As a couple of you know, for the last couple of years I've created a faux exploitation movie poster for a local coffeeshop's annual Coffee Art Show. Every time I've done this, the establishment's owner has ended up buying my illustration for permanent display.
My first one was this:http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/Poster.jpg
Yes, all the women in it pretty much looked like that (I used photoshop to trim love handles and hips, but not to enhance anything else) and no, none were strippers or surgically enhanced (the Nordic blonde in black is my favorite bartender, while the one kicking me in the head is my masseusse and the fiancee of the bar's owner).
Here's the one I did last year, which was a rush job and less satisfying, although my friend Lucy was a terrific model:http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/Espressorella.jpg
This year, I have another terrific model in the darkly luminous Luva, whose 1960s Euro Goddess looks I want to put to good use (although I'll have to photoshop out her Elvis tattoo). No, she's not a stripper or model either, but instead manages a small record label, and incredibly, is a 30-something single mother of two kids.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/424896215_l.jpghttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/374895456_l.jpghttp://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/281014640_l.jpg
What I'm trying to decide upon is a concept. Right now, I'm waffling between two:
70s Sexploitation. THE SWINGING BARRISTA. "Her cups runneth over with steaming hot desire!" Imagine Luva wearing nothing but white boots and a coffee shop apron.
60s Euro Horror. "Luva Latte is . . . THE BLOOD-SPLATTERED BARRISTA!" "She served steaming hot desire to the java-junkies of hipsville, then drained the jolt-juice from their caffeinated veins!"
Suggestions? Other ideas?
|Sunday, January 15th, 2006|
|Letter I just submitted to the Greensboro News and Record
I'm bemused by Susie Barnes’ hysteria over columnist Leonard Pitts' defense of Brokeback Mountain (Jan. 16). Not only does Ms. Barnes claim psychic powers when she declares that Pitts only likes the film because he’s "desensitized himself” (beware those who say they know the “true” motives of their opponents), but she has a very selective moral stomach.
WHy is Ms. Barnes not decrying the top-grossing HOSTEL? Is Man-Sex on the Open Range REALLY more "disgusting" than torture-as-entertainment? What about cannibalism? I don't recall America’s Ayatollahs making a big to-do about the award-winning SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (hey, I liked it, too, but I'm not a chest-thumping moralist). One is hard-pressed to find Biblical support for the claim that homosexuality is worse than heterosexual adultery (let's not get into more obscure sins like worshipping graven images or eating shellfish), yet the latter is integral to the romance novels and soaps that conservative Middle America adores while the latter produces cries of "unclean, unclean!" The moral watchdogs seem more willing to wax wroth about the offenses they can't imagine themselves committing than those their communities and congregations engage in every day. How safe and easy for them that must be.
|Saturday, December 10th, 2005|
|Christmas Cards for Sale!
Hey, anyone want to buy a box of genuine 100% Ian McDowell Xmas cards for your friends and loved ones?
The box contains an assortment of 24 cards, with four of each:
This one, my most notorious and tasteless:http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/Joy.gif
This one, with the accompanying caption "He knows when you are sleeping"http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v414/ianmcd/Santa.jpg
Another spooky Santa one (thumbnail available upon request), with the accompanying poem "In the hollow of the night / when you are cold and numb / you lie abed and pray to Christ / that the Thing in Red won't come / but there's a heavy rooftop tread, and then a moment's pause / before you hear, on chimney stone / the scrape of Santa's claws"
And finally, three cards that contain complete Christmas stories, "The Greatest Gift," "The Kindly Children" and "Christmas with the Count".
All with matching envelopes for only $20. I'd charge even less, but if I'm going to be selling these things rather than just giving a few out to friends, I'm kind of obligated to pay Kinko's for the prints (or at least, if not obligated, don't want to make myself vulnerable to being fired), albeit at my discount.
If I particularly like you, or think you're really hot, I'll include some of my notorious Dead Baby Wrapping paper at no extra charge.
Paypal accepted. Serious inquiries only.
|Saturday, December 3rd, 2005|
|SEX AND FURY
Panik House has released this 1973 film by Norifumi Suzuki as part of their "Pinky Violence" collection. The intense, gorgeous and curvy Reiko Ike (who previously rose to stardom in the Sukeban or "Girl Boss" series) plays Ocho, a gambler and pickpocket in Meiji era Tokyo. When Ocho helps an anarchist fleeing from some thugs, she encounters the three villains who murdered her father when she was a little girl. Nudity and arterial spray ensue, all stylishly filmed and scored to oddly hypnotic psychidelic Euro-lounge music. Ocho's vengeance trail brings her into conflict with the beautiful blonde gaijin spy Christina (Christina Lindberg, star of the notorious THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE, aka THEY CALL HER ONE-EYE), an army of Yakuza thugs and a gang of switchblade-wielding nuns.
I would say that, when the killer nuns popped up, I realized I was watching a genuine masterpiece of exploitation cinema, but that had already become obvious in the first ten minutes. You know how many samurai and yakuza movies feature a one-against-many battle in the snow, with the blood of the hero or heroine's attackers forming abstract patterns in the white void? Tarantino, of course, paid homage to this genre staple in the confrotation between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu at the end of the first KILL BILL.
That happens here and the scene is as beautifully filmed as any I've seen. It's also the only one in which the heroine (who'd originally been surprised while batheing in one of those vintage Japanese hot tubs) dispatches thirty assailants while COMPLETELY NAKED. Yep, from then on I knew I was watching a work of cinematic genius.
Reiko Ike doesn't use a katana was well as Toshiro Mifune, Shintaro Katsu, Tomasaburo Wakiyama, Sonny Chiba or Hiriyoki Sanada do. But then, neither did the great Meiko Kaiji, the magnetic star of the LADY SNOWBLOOD and FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION series (who can be heard singing on the KILL BILL soundtrack). The only Japanese cinematic swordswoman who could compare to her male peers was Yukari Oshimi and she had to relocate to Hong Kong before she could show off her martial skill (admittedly, I've not seen any of the cute and formidable Etsuko "Sue" Shiomi's period films, so I don't know if she used weapons as well as she used her fists and feet in SISTER STREETFIGHTER). But Ms. Ike is very good at projecting animalistic fury, and her nude fight scene is almost as impressive for its utterly unself-conscious poise and ferocity as it is for her spectacular form.
|KING KONG is "Evolutionist Propaganda"?
I posted this in the kinkoids_unite
forum last week:
Yesterday this corpulent, red-faced guy in overalls thanked me for giving him good customer service, "unlike those so-and-sos at Best Buy!" As I was ringing him up, I idly asked what his problem had been there.
"They were really rude when I went to return the KING KONG DVD I got for my kids, especially when I told them why I was returning it."
Having worked in a video store many strange aeons ago and knowing how ignorant most customers were about release dates, I guessed that he had returned it because it was an old movie and not Peter Jackson's upcoming remake, but nope, it turned out that he'd been aware he was buying the original. At least, sort of.
"I took it back because it had dinosaurs in it! I don't want my kids seeing any evolutionist propaganda. I know Hollywood liberals have put dinosuars in the new King Kong movie that's coming out, but I'm sure there weren't any dinosaurs in the original when I first saw it. I think them Hollywood liberals used computers to put them in the DVD just to brainwash kids!"
I could have tried to tell him that KING KONG has always had dinosaurs in it, but I wanted him out of the store so I could go back to checking my e-mail, so I just nodded gravely and gave him his change. It's not like he was the kind of person who could be swayed by facts or reason.
Jonathan Lethem sums up the season better than my own short-shorts do (damn the man). Representative quote:
"We all tremble in the grasp of Christmas. It is unsafe and unfair. We should not have to endure it. There should be a single Christmas, held at a previously agreed location, by a family of actors. It could be broadcast, safely mediated by the information handlers. Christmas ought to be enacted by astronauts, on the moon, or deep under the sea."http://jonathanlethem.com/holidays.html
I see that one Howard Hallis has beaten me to the punch -- I'd been planning to make an imitation Jack T. Chick tract celebrating Cthulhu for some time, but his is better (and captures the Chick schtick more accurately) than mine would have been. Chick's lawyers quickly made him take it down, but I found a copy in this blog:http://esr.ibiblio.org/index.php?p=135
Other stuff: The Greensboro News and Record apparently isn't going to run my review of Kelly Link's MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS until after the New Year, saying they won't have any money in their budget to pay me until then. Feh. They've apparently had the money to run a review of Orson Scott Card's MAGIC STREET, which I know for a fact was assigned to another writer after they assigned Kelly's book to me. I'd actually been masochistic enough to ask to review that one, too, since I'd been irked by something Card had recently said in his Rhinoceros Times column and I was hoping MAGIC STREET would give me a chance to mention the sadism so prevalent in his work (I'm hardly one to object to sadism, but it's irksome coming such a pulpit-pounding moralist).
I finally bought rachelmanija
's wonderful ALL THE FISHES COME HOME TO ROOST at Borders (where it was shelved in History and Sociology/General Asian History). I feel like a poltroon for having waited so long to buy it, especially since she thanks me in the introduction. I need to buy another copy and send it to Sunshine and Jeremy in Mexico (or rather, to the diplomatic drop box in Texas, so I can use my FedEx discount) for their Christmas present.
|Saturday, November 26th, 2005|
|Friday, November 25th, 2005|