Tuesday, May 2, 2017

GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS #260: THE NEW NORMAL

"How do you define normal?" --Fox Mulder, THE X-FILES


Very good question, Agent Mulder. To my knowledge there is no such thing as normal. There is a perception of normal, usually fed to us by sitcoms and commercials, but that shit just doesn't happen in real life. The human experience is too varied and wide to ever define normal. But there is "a" normal subjective to each and every one of us. In the normal course of my day, I go to work, grumble about my commute, read, write, drink, go to bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day. That's "my" normal. Your mileage may vary.


My grandfather passed away, and that changed my normal. He was my father figure. He raised me as his own. He was there to offer advice and to teach me things and so on and so forth. Now there is a vacuum in my life, and it has thrown everything up into the whirlwind. That's what my recent breakdown was truly about.


I remember that Gramps always got on my back about putting my city sticker on my car. All. The. Time. He would even do it for me, which I let him do because it seemed to bring him some small piece of pleasure, and who was I to take that away from him? When he started losing it, when he started not being able to get around so well, I had to deny him. I put the sticker on myself because, goddammit, I'm a grown man. I know how to do this. He taught me over and over how to do it, and I could do it in my sleep. Of course, I had to PROVE to him that I did it by bringing back the husk of the old sticker. But, well, you know.


I just put the new city sticker on my car. The first time without Gramps in the world. I thought about him as I put it on, though.


And now I seek my new normal. Some of the stuff is the same. Others, different. I have an enlarged liver, so I no longer drink to get to sleep. I have anti-anxiety/depression pills I take now. In case you were wondering which of the side effects I got on that roulette wheel, it's impotence. I haven't had an orgasm in weeks. That sucks, but I guess it's better than the others, like spontaneous ejaculation, herpes and whatever else they said.


Part of taking those pills is going to a therapist. I guess it helps. I think the pills help better.


I haven't been able to write for months now. Nothing new, anyway. I recently finished efforts on bringing a WIP back from the grave. A wise friend of mine pointed out that that's what I'm doing with myself. He also pointed out that most people write to create better worlds than the one they live in, and he told me that I write to create worlds even worse, but where I have control over everything. There's a lot to be said for that. Like I said, he's a wise friend.


But I've had a few projects on my backburner, and I'm just going to have to crack into them. Move forward instead of wallowing in my misery.


My therapist said that depression is in the past, and anxiety is in the future. I see the wisdom in that. Maybe now that the one event that made me most nervous has finally happened--the death of my grandfather--maybe I can move it into the backseat of depression and on out, vanishing into the rearview mirror where it will only sneak up on me every once in a while instead of constantly.


But I still have Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to bring me comfort. Just watched the season four premiere, and it was one of the best episodes of Star Trek ever.


The new normal. Easing in. Caring about myself again. Realizing that maybe I'm not as doomed as I thought.


A funny thing happened at my grandfather's funeral. I was there with my family, waiting for my brothers in Crystal Lake to show up. They were late, and it turned out that they'd sprung a coolant leak, just barely making it to the funeral home. When the service was over, and we were heading out for the burial, I looked at the trail of coolant they'd left. It went from the opening of the parking lot to where they'd parked. They split up between my other brother and me.


After the burial we had a wonderful lunch at a pizza place I'd never heard of down the road from the cemetery. They were wondering what the hell they were going to do about the car. I suggested getting a sealant from an auto parts store, pouring it in the coolant reservoir and then putting more coolant in.


Let me state for the record that I am not a cars kind of guy. I can change a tire (just so long as it's not with one of those skimpy little jacks that come with the car), I can change oil and I can do some basic stuff, but this kind of advice from me was unheard of. But it worked. Why?


I remember the same thing happening to my grandparents' old Cavalier. That's how Gramps fixed the problem. Even after all these years his teachings came back to me like he'd just imparted them yesterday.


Gramps is gone, but he lives through me. He is still a part of my new normal.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

R.I.P. John Kopoulos, aka My grandfather

My grandfather just passed away. For those who remember from my Goodnight, Fuckers columns, he was my hero. He's been suffering for about two years, and now he has finally found the release of death. He hasn't been able to act on his own for he last few months. The last few days he has not been able to communicate. And now he's gone.


Everything good in me was put there by my grandfather. He was my only true father figure. I owe him everything good in me.


He passed away while I was taking a nap. My grandmother woke me up to tell me the bad news. I rushed downstairs to see him. His eyes were slightly open, but there was nothing in them. I sat by his side, holding his rapidly cooling his hand, staring into his blank eyes, hoping to see something of himself in them, never succeeding.


I hope that I lived up to your expectations. I love you forever and ever. I'm going to cry myself to sleep now.


Goodnight, Gramps. I hope to see you again on the other side, if there is another side. Thank you for saving me from Hell.


1927-2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

BOOKS FOR SALE

Whoo-boy. Looks like I'm not going to be able to pay all my bills this month. I have a substantial tax return coming soon, but it's not going to be in time. So . . . time for a book sale! Have you ever considered buying one of my books, but you've never gone through with it? Now's the time! I'm offering this sale for the rest of April. You're never going to beat these prices, so now's the time to jump in. Here's what I've got:

-STRIP: 2 copies, $10 each

-TALES OF QUESTIONABLE TASTE: 3 copies, $8 each

-DONG OF FRANKENSTEIN: 5 copies, $5 each

-ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! BRAIN BANG!: 2 copies, $8 each

-STRANGE FUCKING STORIES: 1 copy, $8


If you live close enough to me for hand delivery, that's cool. Otherwise there may be a shipping fee. I'll have to find out what that is and get back to you. If you see something you like, please let me know. Thanks!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS #259: THE SWAMPS OF BOLINGBROOK AND DARIEN

To be read to this song.


I don't go out to drink much anymore. It's just cheaper to drink at home or at a friend's home. Tonight I had plans to go out to my stomping grounds in Bolingbrook, to Tailgaters. But in going out there it brought back a lot of memories. A lot of memories I'm not quite comfortable with talking about here. Not yet, at least.


I loved a woman who lived down there. I would drive out there on a regular basis. She and I would go next door to a hole in the wall where they made White Russians with whipped cream. Sometimes we went to Tailgaters, but it was closer to go to the hole in the wall. I don't want to think about it too much.


I was early in getting to the bar tonight, so I stopped by her old place, just to relive some memories. It was difficult because everything looked different. Some buildings were gone. A lot of trees were gone. The apartments all had balconies now. The only thing that looked the same was the creek that ran through the area.


I saw the place where so much love and lunacy happened, but it looked nothing like it should have. I drove away having relived nothing. To top it all off the hole in the wall was gone. I think there's a salon there now. It was too dark to tell.


So I went out. I got drunk with my friends. I saw a great band knock out some great covers. I got plastered. It was fun, but as I got ready to hit the road I realized that it just wasn't the same. I think I might have outgrown the whole thing. I'm not sure.


I drove back through the swamps of Bolingbrook and Darien, the air chilly and the soft glow of alien lights drifting and fading throughout the empty space. The rotten husks of forgotten homes. The vast spaces where nature still reigned.


I thought about everything I went through with my friend and her daughter. Everything looked so different that I was certain that our ghosts no long roamed there, coloring the space we used to exist. Instead there is nothing. Nothing to remember us. No one will ever know about what happened within those walls except those who remember. And when we're gone, then we're nothing.


Youth fades and is gone.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS #258: WOLVERINE

It all started when I was in my junior year of high school. I was hanging out on the roof of an apartment complex with Rob Tannahill, who went on to become my partner on The Cocaine! Bros. He said that I should grow sideburns. That would make me look cool. I was doubtful, but I listened to him. Sure enough, he was right. I'm a plain lookin' guy, and the sideburns made me a bit more appealing to look at.


But it slowly grew out of control. It got to the point that when my senior year pictures for the yearbook were taken, I looked like Wolverine. Yeah, this is a shitty photo, but it's fucking old, so yeah. Here we go:





Yeah.


I'm probably going to see LOGAN tomorrow. He was not an inspiration for my looks back in high school, no matter how contrary that might seem. Rob was the guy who did it, not Logan. But I really like the way Wolverine is portrayed by Hugh Jackman. I understand why comics fans hate it, but I don't care. I don't like X-Men comics. The movies are the way to go.


PS: My nickname was Elvis. I can see that, but in my opinion, I needed a little less conversation, a little more action, so . . .

Thursday, March 2, 2017

GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS #257: THE REASON WHY

This is the 257th installment of GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS. What have I been doing with this? Sometimes I wonder, myself. How did it keep going so long? What is the purpose? How did this become a pattern in my life?


Well, it hasn't been much of a pattern lately. I'm fucking depressed as all hell. My square job is slowly killing me. I like the people I work with. I love the way we interact. The job is OK, too, with the exception of Wednesday night. The commute, though, is destroying my will to live. When I first got the job I found myself making a choice when I got home: write or work out? Can't have both. I chose write for a long time, but I haven't been getting good stuff lately. It's gotten to the point where I choose neither. The only writing I'm getting done these days is my work on the Zimventures, and that's a fucking joke. Besides, they are already written. I'm just changing them. Improving (I hope) them. I get home from work. I shower the day away. And I lose myself in fast food, booze and TV shows. And then I go to bed. And I go to bed so late that it's not worth writing a GF post because no one will read it.


This started when I was inspired by Warren Ellis and Brian Keene. They wrote something the very instant they got out of bed and posted it for the world to see. I love that writing exercise, except I am a very cranky son of a bitch when I wake up. I am not suitable for words when I'm fresh from slumber. My solution: GF is going to be the very last thing I do before I go to bed every night (hence the title). I think it has worked out pretty well. For the most part.


As I get older I think more about GF and its purpose. Now I consider it more of a diary than anything else. But . . . I've been thinking about my own mortality recently. I don't think I'm long for this world. It's not just my bad habits. Maybe it's paranoid, but I feel like I'm being hunted very slowly. Not by anything physical, of course. Just hunted by my own impending death. Maybe it has to do with the fact that next year I'm going to be 40. I thought I'd already had my midlife crisis back in my twenties. I don't know.


But I think the purpose of GF is more than just a diary. I think it's an accounting of my memories. An accounting of who I am for any archaeologist who gives a shit. I'm reading T.C. Boyle's The Inner Circle. I've always been fascinated by Alfred Kinsey. I would have loved to give up my sexual history to him personally. To have been a "friend of the research."


Instead I'm going to give up my history to you all, for whatever it might be worth.


Here's a memory for you. I have been writing every since I was a child. When I was in seventh grade my English teacher--who I had an enormous crush on--had a project for the class. She said that we were going to all write a book together, and it was to be the life story of a human being. Each of us would write a chapter.


I still have a copy of this book. It's really about twenty pages of photocopied text with an occasional picture. Maybe I have the only extant copy. Who knows? But it's in the pile of stuff with POOR BASTARDS AND RICH FUCKS and that issue of SHROUD I was in, etc.


Luck of the draw: I got the final chapter. My teacher was very aware of my personal trauma, and she said that if I wanted another chapter, she could reassign it. No, I told her. I really wanted the final chapter. Why?


I helped create the guy. His career. His loves and his hates. I even gave him his first name: Montgomery. Even back then I was a huge Star Trek guy, and I named him after Scotty. I knew all about him before the other students even had a chance to delve into his character.


Why did I want the last chapter? I've never told this to anyone before. I don't know why. I don't see anything wrong with it. It just reaffirms how I've always felt about beloved characters. But here it is. Confession time.


I wanted the last chapter because I wanted the honor of killing him.


To those of you who read my fiction, this will probably make a ton of sense.


This is me. This is who I've always been. If you want my history, it is here in all the GFs I've ever written. If you wanted to piece together who I am, this is what you need to read.


Of course, I'm assuming anyone gives a shit. But maybe, just maybe, some archaeologist will discover the internet long after we've all perished. Maybe that scientist will try to piece together who we were. Maybe they can even turn the internet back on and find my mad ramblings here.


This is all data, no matter how silly or stupid it might be. And I hope I can contribute to the charts of whoever comes next.


Goodnight, fuckers.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

GOODNIGHT, FUCKERS #256: MAD'S MAKE YOUR OWN WALKING DEAD EPISODE

For those of you who missed MAD MAGAZINE #542, one of the features was MAD'S MAKE YOUR OWN WALKING DEAD EPISODE. I love shit like this. Jonathan Bresman is the genius behind this one. I thought I'd post how my episode would go based on his wonderful chart. Ready? Here we go!


Our story begins . . .


Daryl uses advice picked up from SHARK TANK to fight the man-child charm of Aziz Ansari. Chaos erupts until everyone recognizes that they completely forgot to DVR the TV Land Icon awards. Meanwhile, Negan hatches a plan to change the way America cleans its gutters while at the same time stocking up on Glade plug-in refills just as tragedy bears down in the guise of an F. Murray  Abraham sexting scandal.


The end.


Thank you, everyone, for indulging my idiocy. If you have the chart (posting it here would probably be a copyright infringement), please feel free to post your own version in the comments below.