Archive for June, 2011

Some Thoughts on P.K. Dick’s VALIS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2011 by Jay Howard

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Dick wrote VALIS, it appears, as a kind of therapy.  He may have done his own exegesis in the process, but it has the feel of a detailed diary–laying bare the anxieties and cracks in personality that appear from thinking too hard while tripping on LSD.

Yet, there is a kind of coherence Dick is trying to put his finger on.  All the pieces of information, all the guesses as to meaning give the darnedest impression that he’s not making this up: he wants badly to understand these experiences–whether “true” or imagined, he cannot dismiss as unreal.  VALIS is an account of one man trying to make sense of his own madness–trying to deinterlace madness from a series of extra-temporal experiences.

How can we explain his determination to have his son examined despite the assurances of the pediatrician that his son was healthy only to find a lethal condition upon closer inspection?  The success in saving his son is but the first in a series of confirmations that the blinding pink light he experienced in March of 1974 not only happened, but was actually an influx of information that Dick’s brain spent many years unraveling.  Could all this be summed up as an internal physiological condition?  Crossed wires?  Yes.  That possibility is never ruled out, even by the strange synchronicities, the xenoglossia Dick experienced, the knowledge of his son’s lethal condition, basically all the public experiences.  However, we can neither rule out the existence of an interstellar machine pumping information in the form of dangerous, radioactive, pink light in an attempt to give us a path out of a maze of our own making.  Nor can we rule out the possibility that early Christian “cults,” especially the Gnostics, had access to knowledge and material “the plasmate,” by which they had found a way to side-step time itself and live on in eternity.  Nor is there reason to rule out the possibility that Dick was contacted by himself as a superterrestrial god–the lamination of all his selves through time simultaneously–that he created his own Buddha which at the appropriate moment in the current time system, contacted himself via a trans-temporal beam of information.  Nor can we even rule out that someone or something in the Dog Star system, something that resembles artificial intelligence on a scale we can’t even imagine, has been trying to steer us clear of harm and show us the way out of our cage of perception.

But I admit, I want these ulterior possibilities to be true.  I want them to be true more than I want to believe Dick just tripped too much on LSD.  There is an even richer story to be told by unraveling this mess of input.  But so many questions remain…  Why the Rosicrucians?  Why did he speak Greek?  What was the point of all the Christian mysticism?  Were there any extra-terrestrials from Sirius?  Why did he think the voice in his head was some kind of artificial intelligence?  How do the three-eyed people with claw hands figure into the bigger picture?  Was the point of their “ability to build” that they had a hand in the pyramids or other great, ancient structures?  Was he feeding into von Daniken’s “Chariots” idea, or was this a genuine experience unrelated to popular culture at the time?

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Notes on SyFy’s Almighty Thor

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2011 by Jay Howard

Opening scene Richard Greico plays Loki but no green jumpsuit with big yellow horns. Nope. Marvel’s Thor this is not. Loki, whose hard-living induced wrinkles betray his Eddie Money tapes on the ’83 ‘vette cracked leather buckets, cocaine binge with strippers named Courtney and Heather from Gainesville, FL.  Like Satan, six-times divorced, utterly despised, sustaining on Marlboro reds and corner store coffee. From “hell” he opens the earth and commences to kicking ass, throwing firebombs, incinerating hot chicks that can literally blow him, while three massive, agile stone dogs tear ass all over these people we’ve never seen or know anything about.

There’s something appealing to this opening. The writers may have intended us to see “evil” in Richard Greico’s character and “good” in the most vanilla sense in these village people, but the lack of depth plays both ways. Maybe those people deserved it. Maybe that dude has stress fractures on his personality because these people didn’t like his kind. Maybe it would be more interesting if they gave us some of his transformation.

The Odin character constantly reminds me of Kenny Rogers. The older brother can’t act his way out of a wet paper bag—but there is the slightest suggestion that, because the young Thor is told to stay behind “to finish the fight” (which is up to this point, the best line in this p.o.s.), while Odin and Baldamir exchange a pre-battle, fight-to-the-death oath, Odin and Baldamir must have killed other men together. Show those battles. Hint at them with a well-timed flashback. Make texture with that thread.

So the three jump into battle—despite Thor just being told moments ago to stay behind, they kill all three stone dogs. Thor kills one then passes out after killing it—maybe he got a face full of paw, but the dogs seemed to have forgotten to use their mouths and bite these mutherfuckers in half. Odin confirms with Baldamir they they have indeed lost Thor. They scratch their heads. From my perspective, Thor is about 20 feet from them laying down next to the dog he just sliced open, but these two, Father and Brother, family soldiers, the tightest bond before cockfighting, don’t seem concerned enough to call his name or maybe look around a little bit.

Odin and Loki yell each other’s names. It’s on. This is some goofy shit. Loki gets knocked down. Odin, or Viking Jesus, is definitely stronger, but Loki knocks him in his man nuggets with his crystal ball—speaking of cockfighting. It’s a streetfight. Odin has what appears to be an Aryan Nation prison tattoo on his right forearm. I wonder if we’ll see it again. And his beloved sons are nowhere to be seen. Wtf? If it were my brother getting beat up, no doubt I’d be fighting dirty. But not his two sons. Well, Baldamir at least. What’s Baldamir’s problem anyway? He doesn’t feel any urgency in finding Thor, nor does he see fit to step in and finish Loki—whose only motivation appears to be raw ambition fed by anger. Why wouldn’t you finish it?

Loki tricks Odinn into killing Baldamir, then he kills Odin. Oh jesus, Thor comes running over yelling “nooo..noooo”. It sounds pathetic and whiney. The girl who saves Thor from Loki has a Spanish accent. She’s hot, too. One of those stone dogs is still alive and tracking the two. O.k., they just jumped through a “portal” to … “a training camp protected by a powerful wizard” and they need to go to the secret tree of life to get the … oh, whatever. Loki already trashed the place. A bunch of obscure rules of play get established. None of it really matters as this will run into its afterschool message like a dumptruck into heard of cows. Something about a destroyed portal but they still have to get to the tree of life.

Thor can’t act either. She tries to comfort him WHILE HIS CASTLE BURNS that because there are flowers growing, “there is hope”. I just swallowed some of my own vomit.

They throw down the “hammer of invincibility” and run through yet another portal and end up in Detroit? This just took an unexpected turn. It’s actually a Disney movie now. Clean mugger brutalizing a girl. Thor fucks him up. They’re stronger—like this earth has different gravity. She has a lair in some L.A. warehouse filled with guns. A 5 minute tutorial and Thor now carries a 9mm. Loki finds his way over. He’s kinda psychic—picks up on their past actions like a bloodhound. Sticks his hand out and psychically examines the inside of her lair, sees something of value.

The pair are looking for the Tree of life. About 2 shots later, they’re in a hallway, feeling on a wall and “concentrating on a gateway”. Surprise, another portal opens to a rock tunnel. Beating. A heartbeat like a kettle drum. Tunnel leads to the tree of life. He (for some reason) “must do this alone”. Apparently he goes through another portal. It’s raining. He’s inside a castle, but with car parts hanging on the walls. He’s in a dual with a fully armored knight. Nice armor. No clear objective. No idea why they are fighting. The guy just came out of nowhere and started swinging. Thor cuts him down. Apparently three days is enough to make you a seasoned warrior. Maybe skill level increases with portal jumps.

At any rate, we’re so far beyond ridiculous, it’s just inexcusable that this ever got the green light. He approaches the Tree of Life—we hear Kenny Rogers speak again: “The hammer, Thor, it’s for you. TAKE IT!” Thor says some cheesy prayer about destruction from destruction and the FX guys get paid.

Thor and the Norse-Latina demi-god have a lovers’ spat about Loki. He’s right around the corner. They meet. Loki blows dirt in Thor’s eyes. She cuts his hand off. He grows it back but doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about getting the Hammer of Invincibility (hereon referred to as THOI) even though he sees Thor holding it.

Loki tries pulling a mind-trick on Thor—which seems to work until she takes 2 seconds to talk him out of it. Loki appears and disappears. Thor swings wildly, accidently knocking down a building. There’s a Honda CRV parked behind them as Thor swings and misses. She’s flattering him, so he goes in for the “you have my heart, blashsa (or whatever her name is)” She then counsels him on becoming the most powerful man in the universe. He does the bloodhound trick Loki did earlier.

Loki appears and asks politely for it. He pulls out his sword instead. Another renaissance festival demonstration, with some wires. Thor kicks his ass, takes his bone wand. Greico starts freaking out and promising there’s no Ragnarok and everything’s o.k. Then he disappears. Thor boasts how he’s killed Loki while wielding the bonestick. A trash truck takes a corner behind them while the camera man tries to shift the shot a few degrees. Fuck taking the shot over again. She warns about the evils of having that staff, but since Loki told him it holds the key to bringing back his brother and father, he won’t let it go.

She warns him to destroy it and makes him swear on his father’s blood that he won’t go anywhere while she goes somewhere—probably to get some cock. He summons Loki back while trying to get his family back. She shows up and pops several caps in Loki’s ass. One between the eyes. But Loki is “already dead” according to himself.

She reads young Thor the riot act. She could be his mom. That’s kinda hot in that California, fucked up way. Loki pulls two dogs out of the pavement and they commence to …

Thor and Latina Viking walk dwon another alley. She draws a circle on the painted brick. He looks ridiculous sauntering with that goofy caveman hammer wobbling beside him. LV makes him open a portal with the hammer then proclaims that he’s the greater god and she supplicates before him. He orders her to go through the portal—against her wishes. Loki shows up with a dog. They all commence to kicking ass—Loki versus Thor. LV versus a stone dog. Thor fires an uzi at Loki but pulls an A-Team and shits nothing. Loki does the exact same thing, but manages to hit Thor. LV kills the dog and then puts a sword through Loki’s mouth. They jump through a portal. Loki grabs LV’s ankle—despite the fact she went through first. Loki somehow reached past Thor to her. Loki pulls her back, taunts her, then almost kills her. Thor drinks a magic potion on his neck and opens the portal back—just enough time to say goodbye. But she’s really Loki in disguise. Two entirely different stone dogs splatter some decent folk against walls (one of the few nice touches on this). Apparently the CGI department switched mid-film and started from scratch. They probably didn’t give over the originals, or the files were incompatible or something…

So Thor is now stuck behind in Detroit, with Loki and at least two (new) stone dogs. He gets his ass pummeled into a wall by Loki (who now has THOI), and finds himself in the classic Jesus pose next to his supposedly dead new girlfriend/combat trainer. They’re having a heart-to-heart. He’s crying about how he failed. To her, then to his father. She calls him her king and is screen blowing him, verbally dry-humping him. Loki, who now sounds more like Richard Greico than he has up until now, taunts Thor. Thor talks some mythical trash to Loki. Loki’s like “check it” and opens the ground to hell, pulling down LV. Then he’s like, “Now I’m gonna wreck the Tree of Life. How you like them apples?” Then he shoves Thor down to what looks like Hawaiian lava flows. LV’s voice still trying to suck his metaphorical cock but she’s dead. The dogs make Detroit look like Detroit. Thor is playing with a ball of lava like a crystal ball. Loki opens a portal to the Tree of Life tunnel. It’s just one fucking thing after another.

Loki quickly dispenses of the knight in cool armor protecting the tree of life. Loki punches the tree’s button and everything dies. Don’t know what kind of sense that makes at all, at all, but everything begins rapid decay: earth, sea, the moon. But fear not, a portal will bring it all back, probably. Now shit’s going global: cities crumble. Even if they kill Loki now, it doesn’t look like there’s much hope for anyone for anything resembling a bright future. Media breaks in with global responses to the destruction.

We see the old stone dog facing off some airforce clowns. Greico raises his bonestaff and yells “RAGNAROK!” Shit starts ‘sploding. Hard. People are running, cars flipping violently like you see from hurricane videos. Then, from nowhere, Thor stands in front of Loki with a more prop-made hammer. Loki beat the shit outta the kid but doesn’t seem to do much to him. Now we see Thor’s muscles—he’s been eating his protein shakes. Loki knocks him through a couple buildings, into space. No amount of beating even makes him bleed. Thor comes back, gives Loki a lecture, then hits him so hard, Loki disintegrates and the dogs get scared and flee back into the ground. The Tree of Life just starts back up. No explanation. No reason. Apparently, the metal hammer of Thor is more powerful than THOI of his father. Now he faces the fates.

They try to degrade him, but he smashes their “carefully woven fabric” and they are none-too-happy about it. I like the final message—that we make our own fate. But damn, they could’ve just said that and saved me the agony of realizing how shallow the entertainment business is.

In the final analysis, this is just shallow Christianity dressed up as even shallower Norse mythology.  Kenny Rogers looks like Jesus–but since he’s the “Dad,” he’s obviously God.  The young Thor is then Jesus.  His brother–a narrative consequence of blending the two stories.  At any rate, the young Thor, a.k.a. Jesus, does battle with a powerful force from hell–one who appears to be commanding the daemons from the depths.  Surprise, surprise, Jesus wins!  Who would’ve guessed?

The Necessary Evil of Internet Dating

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2011 by Jay Howard

It’s not that I’m unable or unwilling to meet people in the real world–that happens, albeit occasionally. But the allure of an instant summary of a person makes me wish everyone had their profile handy to check upon meeting. It’s quick, it’s concise–I know whether our meeting will consist of baseball statistics or your kids intelligence level or if Jesus will enter the conversation. That’s useful information.

Some people are astonishingly bad at presenting themselves. One woman wrote her two sentence profile as if she was txting her bf n had 2 find short cut bt slping alone n rmance… ((::

Others just sound like whitefish and potatoes on whitebread, with mayonnaise. Yuk. Gross. and Boring. Who knows what I sound like–probably a wanna be intellectual trying too hard to sound like a catch. Hey, but at least I can spel.

Things Alex Jones says that Make Sense

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2011 by Jay Howard

Without a doubt, Alex Jones annoys the shit out of me.  He’s always come across as the paradigm windbag–literally yelling alarmist catchphrases with all the accusatory bluster of a kid watching a villain only he can see beat old ladies into bloody piles of meat.  But he’s right about a few things.  At least.  And he’s not trying to win a popularity contest.  Not trying to get elected.  Gotta respect that.  But it takes a kind of patience I find myself short on to really absorb one of his programs–take it all in before rejecting out-of-hand a number of dubious or simply new accounts of events that should ruffle feathers or send a shock to the system.  I admit, it’s easier to watch an episode of Fox & Friends with a trio of the most likable pieces of shit to get paid by Murdoch’s NEWSCORP megalith.

But it turns out, much of what Jones lays on the table, shocking as it may be, actually happened.  Some of it should bring people to the point of red-faced anger or poo-pants fear.  Indeed, it may be necessary to walk back a bit on the cut of Jones’ jib.  When The Matrix came out, I happened to be in France on some school trip, and to my surprise, Reeves could actually act–IF his voice was overdubbed and replaced with a more sober (less Bill & Ted, surf-bum curve).  His acting has been pigeonholed by his own verbal mannerisms, or my association with them.  Extracting Jones from his voice appears to have the same effect.  So without further ado, here are a couple of paragraphs from recent radio casts:

“Problem-reaction-solution has been used by regimes throughout history, from the Romans to the Nazis.  The government has goals it wants to achieve, but which wouldn’t be readily accepted by the peole, so it creates or expoits a problem and blames it on others.  The people react by asking the governemnt for help, willingly giving up their rights in exchange for what they think is safety.  The government then offers the solution that was planned long before the crisis ever began.  In this case, the problem is terrorism, the reaction is fear, and the solution is global war–and a police state at home.”

“[The predators in our government] have less empathy for the people they killed on 9/11 than you or I have for stepping on a cockroach.

“And they think because they’re ruthless, it gives them the right to rule over us.  That’s like cancer telling you, ‘Oh, look.   I’m elite.  I grow faster than other cells.  I’m taking over.  I’m ruthless.’  No, you’re killing the host you live in.  You’re destroying the body you were a part of.”

It at least gives one pause.

The Rapture… or We Gotta Get Outta This Place

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2011 by Jay Howard

So much of our culture depends on some pretty weak fairy tales. What amazing feats we could accomplish if all ridiculous religious tenets would evaporate–if “faith” was understood as an obstacle to comprehension. We could build a society to make all others pale in comparison. Taking the Pyramids as a cue, the vastness of the scope of human projects could stand as monuments to all sentient life for millions of years to come (provided these buildings/monuments/whatever are made of stone). At any rate, there’s no reason we couldn’t have maglev rails over the entire populated core of each continent. For starters…

But no.  We have to live in a culture dominated by what any child (not reared in the tradition) would call horsepucky.  What my cousin Trena would call “a load of shit.”  And because this load of shit informs our calendar, our beliefs, our behaviour, even the limits of shame and belonging, we have an unconscious obligation to act accordingly, and not question or turn our backs on the “holy”.  But at what cost?

Well, a lot of hungry people.  Remember when “world hunger” was the cause du jour of many celebrities and intellectuals?  Did we “fix” it?  Does everyone go to bed with a full stomach now?  Not even close.  If anything, the problem has escalated–and now we have a better understanding that the lack of food for some people is not a logistical problem.  It’s a political problem.  Food control is one of the most effective (and hence, common) means of population control.  People aren’t too keen on fighting a rebellion if they are guaranteed their daily ration.  And besides, you’re already hungry.  Never fight a revolution on an empty stomach.

Is religion to blame for all our problems?  Certainly not.  But just as certainly, it causes problems that would not exist without it.  So, in summary, I pray for The Rapture just as surely as you do.  And without an underlying irrationality forcing conformity in sexual positions and afterschool programs and the seriousness afforded mythological accounts of ancient revolutionaries, we could begin work on a new society of with a higher standard of living for everyone.  It’s possible.

Writing John Edwards Epitaph

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2011 by Jay Howard

The current narrative closes the lid on anything the man could ever become publicly. The man has lost all credibility. Rapists and murderers have more credibility than this guy, at the moment.

This can change in time, but there’s no guarantee.

Gotta say, it’s good timing for anyone who wants to limit the political competition for presidential nominees.  Seriously, you’ve got to be stupid–SERIOUSLY FUCKING STUPID–to think this just happened out of the blue just when everyone is gearing up for their political runs.  Come on.

It is clearly someone in Obama’s pocket.  Having said that, let me be even clearer: I doubt the President had this info up his sleeve–possible but not likely.  More likely, of the many, monied interests whom he has laid metric tonnes of wealth upon, at least one had the foresight to use this information to pay a debt or solidify a deal.  No doubt this scandal was influenced strategically.  It’s possible that’s all rubbish, but an honest look at the guy’s potential to shake up the democratic nomination makes him target number one for the status quo.  To believe Edwards or his friends/family/acquaintances/lover/whatever did NOT have a cloak & dagger encounter sometime prior to the events in question is to walk blindly in our world.

Just saying… great timing for the people who want to keep things the way they are.