February 2018 Update (archived)

In the perpetual fumble to figure out what exactly to do with this space, I’m electing this month to share a partial list of recent motivating factors, starting with:

1. This picture of Trump not understanding how to shake hands.

I’ll forego the obvious humor embedded in this moment of fundamental confusion—all too reminiscent of a golden retriever whose been tricked—to focus instead on something about accidental empathy and self-identification. Because as much as I hate this bag of shit, it occurs to me that a lot of my characters could easy be caught in a similar circumstance, baffled by their mistakes and blind to where their knowledge fails (Coleman being maybe the prime example). Which might be a perfect way of describing both the lion’s share of my narrators and our current president: perplexed by their failures and too-often unsuspecting of their ignorance.

So what’s the difference between my imaginary boobs and this very real moron? Claims of likeability could be made (as awful as his life gets, Coleman never strays too far from charming), but I don’t know if that really matters. Partly because writing likeable characters is like preparing Bolognaise (pleasing to consume but unchallenging in production), but also because, back when Trump was just a celebrity buffoon with no real power or control over others’ lives, he was somehow fun to observe. A cartoon whose antics took place in the real world. The scummy friend you somehow can’t help enjoying being around.

No, the major difference between Trump and Coleman resides almost entirely in the amount of power and control they each possess. Coleman has never succeeded at anything (or anyway, much of anything), and no one’s ever been very interested in helping him out or supporting him. He’d likely squander that assistance anyway. Where Trump has clutched hold of every opportunity that’s ever come his way, Coleman lets everything slip through his fingers without even the consideration of regret, let alone chances lost.

So: what would it look like if one of my characters actually succeeded at something in a big way? What if one of these boobs suddenly had some power, over themselves and over the world?

2. Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas.

Late in the film, a mother and child are reunited. They see each other and say some unimportant words, then do the obvious thing: they hug. And as they hug, in a gesture so natural and stripped of motivation as to maybe be unscripted, the child turns his fingers into scissors to snip off his mother’s hair, clok-clok-cloking his tongue for each nick. A small action that reveals more about the character (and the moment) than any line of dialog. The gravity of reunion only goes so far. It’s fun to do fun things. And you don’t try to play with someone you’re mad at for running away.

3. These lines from Tess Gallagher’s “My Unopened Life.”

Hadn’t I done well enough with the life
I’d seized, sure as a cat with
its mouthful of bird, bird with its
belly full of worm, worm like an acrobat of darkness
keeping its moist nose to the earth, soaring
perpetually into darkness without so much as
the obvious question: why all this darkness?
And even in the belly of the bird: why
only darkness?

4. Colin Stetson’s “All This I Do for Glory.”

In a body of work boldly marked by a very masculine kind of might, what makes this song stand out is its singular sensuality. Sure, it’s more a Matthew Barney kind of sensuality than, say, Prince’s. Which is to say: primal, and maybe not entirely safe. Yet it’s also rare to see exhibited so keenly the measured swaying hips of a hunter, someone capable of killing demonstrating a tenderness that has nothing to do with weakness.

As always, thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for  ignoring the tremendous tear in the seat of my pants. If you are a current  Patreon subscriber, thank you for the future promise of new pants. And if you are not a current Patreon subscriber, please feel free and welcome to join the new pants party and help make my lower-half presentable again. And if your view of  the future looks too unsteady for any kind of subscription, consider making a one-time donation and get the equivalent rewards for one month.