No overarching theme today, just a few random bits and bobs that are on my mind. Hooray for Tuesday!
I’m on Day Three of The Week of Single Daddery, and it’s going great. It took less than 12 hours of my wife being gone before I stepped in a pile of warm dogshit in my hallway, left there by a dog that had been let outside less than half an hour previously. It was early in the morning and I was barefoot. Because of course I was. Last night, my not-quite-seven-year-old son took a shit that was, I swear I am not exaggerating, the size of my fist in our main bathroom. I heard him flush but did not realize at the time that the shit was too big to flush, and we have one of those toilets that claims to be able to pass a couple dozen golf balls without trouble. I had to cut that fucking piece of shit up with a plastic knife this morning to get it to flush, and it was actually kinda difficult to saw through. My wife can come home anytime she wants.
Also, he wet the bed the night before last. Parenting in general has just been wonderful lately.
I watched Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special, Nanette, last night. It is getting more and more true that the reason to subscribe to Netflix is their original programming, guys. If you read me on a regular basis you have probably seen recommendations for this special in the same places I have, and let me echo them: this is an important piece of work, and you should absolutely make sure to watch it. I’m not going to talk about it in much detail because I kind of wish I had gone in blind, and if you’re able to watch this special without knowing anything other than Luther Siler says I need to watch this, please go do so.
So this just happened:
I signed up for an all-day training for NewJob tomorrow, and I’ve already seen several signs that I’m not going to enjoy it very much. On the one hand, it’s a $100 stipend, and I just found out when my first paycheck is going to be and the end of August and the beginning of September are gonna be scary, and on the other hand I have other things I would rather be doing tomorrow and it’s not like that $100 is going to come early. I got an email yesterday about a two-hour pre-workshop homework thing they want me to do. I have shit to do today. I’m not super interested in two hours of homework, especially for a pedagogical technique that as near as I can tell will not work at all with kids who won’t do homework. I am tempted to show up without doing any of mine and asking the trainer what she thinks should be done about me. Or I could just cancel. Who knows?
I spent most of yesterday rereading the early manuscript for Sunlight. What I have written is actually pretty damn good, I think. And I’m getting closer and closer to getting the overarching plot issues sorted out so that I can avoid Middle Book Syndrome. It’s coming! I swear! Eventually!
I beat Dark Souls Remastered a few weeks ago, and have been replaying through Bloodborne since then. I’m doing a lot better than the first time I played through; I never managed to beat Martyr Logarius on my first playthrough and I clobbered his ass on my first try this time. I’m up to the second to last boss, who beat me several times yesterday. I’ll get him today, dammit, then it’s on to another shot at either 2 or 3, neither of which have I beaten. I love this series, but it took several games before I actually got halfway good at it.
I had a free consultation at a local LASIK clinic this morning. LASIK is way less expensive than I had thought, and it turns out I’m a more or less perfect candidate for it. I’m broke as hell right now, mind you, but I think this is something that is probably on my agenda for next summer. Time to start socking money away.
More later, maybe, if I come up with anything else I want to talk about today.
A quick programming note: my wife is in Boston all week for a work thing; I drove her to the train station at midnight last night, so while I am technically on vacation for a week once my shift ends at 6 tonight, I’m also on solo daddy duty all next week and I have a couple of full-day training things for my new job, plus at least one other life-related excursion for each day next week. So I’m gonna be kind of busy! I’ll be using my spare time to work on Book Stuff but it’s gonna be an interesting week and there may not be a ton of time for bloggery.
Which means a 2000-word post every day, obviously.
Anyway. I’m on Warren Ellis’ newsletter, and he pointed out this little indie-published (!!!) novel called Crooked God Machine, and I’m tempted to just quote his entire brief review because he’s Warren Ellis and he’s better at this than me but instead I’ll just link to it. At any rate, the review doesn’t need to be complicated: in some ways this book is one of the most fucked-up things I’ve ever read in a deliciously good way; it’s about a world that is ending but is not in any hurry to do so, and what growing up in a world like that is like, and God yelling from you inside of a television, and people deliberately turning themselves into brain-spider zombies so that they don’t have to deal with their own existence any longer– the sales pitch for the brain-spiders is literally you don’t have to experience the next ten years. The writing is uniformly gorgeous throughout– Autumn Christian wrote this between the ages of 19 and 21, which is unbelievable– this is A Confederacy of Dunces-level Evil Young Genius writing going on here. If you are a fan of dark and really creepy horror I recommend it unreservedly. If you aren’t, be aware that the subject matter is deeply fucked up throughout– a dead infant gets fed to a monster in a swamp at one point, and the monster torments the main character for the rest of the book, and that’s just that one thing, so maybe assume a trigger warning? Ellis calls it “young, raw work” in his review and he’s absolutely right– there is a certain immaturity here, and it’s very clearly the product of a preternaturally talented young person who is very, very angry with the world she has been handed, and that’s something you probably need to be aware of about it, but it’s definitely worth reading and is gonna stick with me for a while.
That said. I bought this book in print because I try to buy everything in print, and also honestly the cover is compelling as hell and I wanted it on my shelf. Notice how the title on the cover omits the definite article? The name of the book is The Crooked God Machine, according to everything on Amazon and everything inside the book. It is perhaps a sign of how carefully the print manuscript is edited that the book gets the title wrong on the cover. You will look at this and know immediately that it is an indy title, unfortunately– everything from the print size to the font choices to little things like chapters starting on the left-hand page once in a while screams that this was put together by someone who 1) had no experience in book design and 2) did not take the time to carefully look through the books in their possession and pay careful attention. It is also, unfortunately, riddled with the types of errors you get when you are depending on spellcheck as your primary source of editing– in other words, there are next to no misspelled words, but there are lots of errors– nearly every chapter– of omitted words, autocorrecty sorts of errors where the word used is a real word so spellcheck won’t catch it but it is nonetheless completely the wrong word, and sentences where some editing took place but the editing itself introduced a second error that didn’t get caught.
I have seen from reviews that the ebook is not prone to this, but the print version will drive you crazy if you are the type to notice this. It’s still absolutely worth reading but it cost the book a star in my Goodreads review because indie authors have to be better than this. Then again, Warren fucking Ellis reviewed her book positively so maybe what the hell do I know. Warren Ellis sure as hell isn’t reading The Benevolence Archives, right?
Before I get started with the swearing and the fuck-thising, a bit of context: my son, who I have thought many very unkind things about today that I will not repeat in this space, decided to come in and wake my wife and I up at four o’clock in the fucking morning because he wanted to sleep in our bed with us. There was no particular reason for this; he woke up in his bed and decided he wanted to be in ours instead, so he woke both of us up.
This was perhaps not reacted to as compassionately as it should have been and he was dispatched back to his own bed. I never got back to sleep, meaning that it’s currently 9:20 in the morning, I’m a quarter of the way through my morning coffee, and I have been awake for almost five and a half fucking hours.
It is already not going to be a good day.
Have you ever hated a song so much that you memorized it out of pure spite? I’m going to assume that you have and that this is not an experience unique to me. I have a number of Taylor Swift songs that I have completely memorized, and the main reason I have them memorized is that I hate them. Similarly, a song which I have just learned is called Friends by a pair of idiots named Anne-Marie and Marshmello. Marshmello apparently regularly appears in public with a fucking bucket on his head.
This fucking song ran through my head for hours last night while I was trying to get back to sleep. While it was running through my head, I was mentally composing this blog post, which I’ve been trying to avoid writing since I first heard this fucking song eighteen thousand years ago. Or maybe it’s just a few weeks; fuck, I don’t know.
Point is I almost got up and wrote this at 4:30 in the fucking morning because I realized sleep was not happening and at least maybe I could get something done.
So I initially wasn’t even going to write about the first reason why I hate this song: the godawful fucking obnoxious accent that Anne-Marie is putting on. I generally don’t like making fun of people for the way they sound or talk, but now that I’ve seen a picture of white-ass blonde-ass whitey-white Anne-Marie? Fuck you, that’s an affectation, and when she says so doan you looka me wif dat look in yo eye, or tries to spell “friends” and slurs it so badly that it comes out as effar aiyee endee ezzsh, to the point where I wasn’t actually sure she was spelling it right until she bothers to enunciate later in the song the first time I heard it, she is absolutely just being an asshole. No goddamn white girl grows up sounding like this in the UK. She’s doing it on purpose. Fuck her.
Now let’s talk about the friend zone. And let me be clear here: this is something that I absolutely fell prey to when I was younger and stupider. The difference is that now that I’m grown I know better, and I’m not super keen on letting current younger men get away with the same horseshit that I did when I was a kid. Y’all need to be better, goddammit. Men need to improve, and one of the first things we need to do is to let go of this stupid fucking idea that there are any women anywhere who owe us anything. And that, ultimately, is what the so-called “friend zone” is about. It’s about feeling entitled to women and their bodies and feeling like it’s okay to just hang around being unwelcome until they, I dunno, realize that they’re actually attracted to us after all instead of the men they’re dating (men, for the record, who they are attracted to) and fall into our arms.
Nah. This is bullshit. The friend zone is bullshit. And if you’re being this asshole, stop. If you think you’re in love with someone, you tell her rather than hanging around like a fucking angry puppy, and if she says no, that’s your answer and you fuck off. You decide what level of relationship you’re able to have with that person, whoever she is, and if your Deep Feelings are just Too Serious to maintain an actual friendship, and not a fake sham of a friendship where you’re constantly looking for a fucking moment of weakness so you can get your stupid dick wet?
You fuck off. And you stay fucked off.
My coffee’s gone, by the way.
All that said, there’s some other shit going on in this song that probably needs to be addressed, and at this point I’m addressing women. Lemme copy-paste some lyrics here, in more-or-less conventional English rather than the bullshit-ass white girl’s fake urban accent she’s putting on:
You say you love me, I say you crazy We’re nothing more than friends You’re not my lover, more like a brother I known you since we were like ten, yeah
…and, see, it’s at this point where I go back to not wanting to write this, because there’s a point at which I’m punching down. If you are not already aware of this, you should be: the thing men are most afraid of in relationships is that they will be rejected by women. The thing women are most afraid of in relationships is that they will be killed by men. So I can’t act like it’s all fine and good to say things like you need to stop humoring these assholes when not humoring the assholes might result in the assholes turning violent. But can we maybe not treat relationships like this like they’re family? Because given the rest of the song, I really don’t get describing this person as “more like a brother.” The order of relationships here goes dating –> friendship –> family. Your friends are, or at least should be, more important than whoever you’re fucking at the moment. And your family, at least ideally (I am aware that families can be toxic, obviously) should be more important than your friends. This is one of the things that never made any sense to me– the “just” in “just friends.” Friends is better.
Have you got no shame? You looking insane Turning up at my door It’s two in the morning, the rain is pouring Haven’t we been here before?
Don’t mess it up, talking that shit Only gonna push me away, that’s it! Have you got no shame? You looking insane Here we go again
So don’t go look at me with that look in your eye You really ain’t going away without a fight You can’t be reasoned with, I’m done being polite I’ve told you one, two, three, four, five, six thousand times
I think it needs to be made clearer, to young women in particular, precisely the demographic that this top-40 pop song is targeted to, that this is not how friends behave. And I say that as someone who has spent a career working with adolescents and has had a couple of classes that were composed entirely of girls in that time. Songs that take behavior like this and phrase it as how friends act are not helping.
None of this shit is how friends behave. None of this shit is normal. And if someone in your life is acting this way, that is not the behavior of someone who is your friend. That is the behavior of a stalker. This person is dangerous. He is not your friend and this is not normal. And maybe the most fucked-up thing about this song is that it’s portraying legitimately crazy behavior as something that your “friends” do. And I am telling you if you don’t already know that there are far too many young women who do not know this is fucked up because we have normalized male entitlement so fucking much in this culture.
Men, boys, stop fucking being like this. And again I’m not in a position to get all high-and-mighty about how women should behave when they have a legitimate showing-up-at-two-AM crazy fucker in their lives, but hey how about we don’t write songs about how those people are our friends? Because fuck the hell out of that idea. It’s bullshit and this song is bullshit and I hate it and I don’t want to hear it any more.
Especially at four o’clock in the fucking morning when all I want to do is sleep.
I officially restarted my career as an educator today, with a leadership team meeting at my new school. I’d only really ever been in one small part of the building before, so I took a while and wandered around, trying to get a feel for the place.
We, uh, may have a roach problem. It was one of the first things my new boss said to me when I walked in. She’s kinda horrified, so there’s gonna be all sorts of exterminators out between now and school starting. I’m fully aware that every old building this size has some roaches but I saw two of them that were both over an inch long while I was there and that’s gonna be a problem.
That’s all I’ve got to complain about, though. You can usually identify the bad seed in any group of educators within a couple of minutes of the start of a meeting, and as far as I know there wasn’t one, which is pretty damn exciting. Everyone seems really dedicated and hyped about the school year starting, and it got infectious fast. I just wish I had a better handle on what my actual job is going to be like on a day-to-day basis, but that’ll come sooner or later.
I also had a moment about halfway through the meeting where I realized that it looks like the places where I disagree with my new boss about things all seem to be places where she has more faith in the kids than I do. I don’t know that I’m going to unpack that any more than pointing it out, at least right now, but it was an interesting thing to take note of.
I haven’t sold a book on Amazon since a day or two after I got back from Indy Pop Con, which was an embarrassingly long time ago. Somebody out there has to be looking for something to read, right? My books are inexpensive and delicious, check ’em out!