Monday, June 12, 2017

There was Hail In the Morning And I Swore I Perceived a Death Vortex in My Dreams But Oaths Ain't Magic.

I recall that scene in Deadwood where Wu, the town murder victim cleaner, affirms his alliance with Al Swearengen by cutting off his Chinese imperial braid and screaming "America!" while throwing the braid to his pigs along with the latest dead men. Why the scene occurred to me today out of all days in the past fifteen years I don't know; and I don't mean to proclaim any great doctrine on the merits of assimilation or lack thereof. It is enough to say for now that such a Fucking Epic conversion in Damascus is not what adapting to a new country actually is. And I would guess that the scene was written to intentionally mock the idea that it is or should be.

A few years back when Gangnam Style was big  Bill OReilly had a piece that looked at the song from a 'kids these days' angle, with some bullshit expert in nothing decrying that it was 'just a flashy video with words that don't mean anything' reflecting the shallowness or short attention spans of our times etc etc. But the words do of course mean something in the Korean language written by a Korean man for a Korean audience, and anyhow it would be indisputably beautiful if somebody did just go sqsaxdsfevfrgbkorhbthjkp over a standard 2010's pop beat and the song blew up. If some perverse validation makes you need to believe that society is on a one-way decline from a superior past then you'll have to look somewhere besides music for such validation. Because we all know full well that our ancestors wern't playing fucking Mozart at barn dances or weddings on their homemade violins. They were singing about getting drunk and getting laid same as forever.

I do not quite recall if the Stephen King story turned Schwarzenegger movie "Running Man" inspired the video game "Smash TV" or vice-versa though I think that the movie came first. The film is a somewhat plausible police-state dystopia where maybe a dozen convicts or so per week get killed in this bloodsport gameshow. Smash TV is more fantastic with you as the lone contestant armed with a photon gun or multi-barreled grenade launcher against five hundred mooks at a time with blackjacks pocket knives or bike chains. I would think that such a Gettysburg pile of dead every week for how ever many years would be unsustainable in even the worst totalitarian hell but who knows? In North Platte there was once an arcade where you paid five dollars at the door for hours of limitless gameplay with no need to keep pumping in quarters. I beat Smash TV in about an hour in a half with about twelve continues or so as I recall, or maybe far more. Then I lost at a game on the new Sega Genesis within a matter of minutes because I kept intentionally killing my friends. Contemporary video games are so hung up on giving some pretense of reason for violence like "I'll give you thirty gold pieces if you rescue my daughter from the stone lords but first you must see the Oracle for the Sword of something or another" but fuck all that shit Photon Gun, "gnew gnew gnew gnew gnew gnew gnew"

At about the same time that I was playing Smash TV I was also watching the Lonesome Dove miniseries and being fucking traumatized by that guy who was killed by So Many Snakes and other things as well. In the years that I've grown and aged since then I've come to love the Eastowood/Leone style revisionist westerns and more contemporary stories set in the west as well. But I cannot say that Lonesome Dove has much going for it and find it sad that Larry McMurtry is better known for that book and its sequels than for 'The Last Picture Show". The only way that Lonesome Dove could be called good is if McMurtry intended it as an exaggerated grimdark parody of the revisionist western which may after all be the case. That snake scene for example is based on an old American folk tale of someone who knew someone who heard that someone was killed by a hundred water moccasins except water moccasins do not live in packs. Getting bit by one would probably kill you in 1885 but getting dozens of bites having a quick spasm and being done within seconds like the rodents that the venom is intended for is not real thing.  Then there's the pattern of characters being poly-murdered; the man who gets shot, scalped, castrated then mercy-killed with another shot. The soddy settlers who are shot and killed then hanged and killed then burned and killed. A bit-role cowboy is killed by lightning that ricochets of a pair of longhorns. A Native American villian named Blue Duck is an impossibly potent magic menace in the Anton Chigurh vein until he just gets busted by a local cop off page.

This along with popular characters being killed off-page through jarringly arbitrary means in the sequels leads me to think that McMurtry did in fact intend a comedy here. I could get behind that, and I can also patriotically support the idea of the Great Plains having its own Odyssey in this Texas-to-Montana cattle drive. Except McMurtry takes what could only be called an imperial Texan whatever attitude towards the northern plains. He sets a large part of the tale in Ogallala and a nearby farm with no mention of North Platte, which had already surpassed Ogallala as the regional hub, or for that matter any mention of Paxton Big Springs etc which were also already founded by this time. He alters out history to the point of having Red Cloud himself attacking the Platte Valley itself a full twenty years after the railroad went through, just to kill off a secondary femme-fatalish woman and her lackey. I realize it's fiction but my mandatory k-12 history lessons would have been about nothing else ever if this had happen and if time-machine history-fucking is not what the story is than you can't fuck with the real world that hard alright?

My parents cat Bullseye has gone missing for several days. He may have gotten killed trying to cross the busy road to the tall grass by the railroad where the rabbits & rats he like to disembowel and eat alive are. Or he might have made it across and is now living quite comfortably through warm June nights with a full belly. Time reveals all in due course. Most good closing lines are pat lies. 

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