As you may know, I’m editing a collection of short stories to publish my first book this summer, entitled This Ain’t What You Rung For. Included toward the end is a smattering of the very short pieces I scribble during Journal Writing time in my Creative Writing class. Here is but one selection from that treasure trove. Watch for the book later in 2013 to explore a whole lot more!
There’s this guy, and he’s flappin’ his arms, and he goes: “Yes! terday I was flappin’ my dog’s arms!”
“What are you talking about?” asked the judge. The entire courtroom was peering at the guy with inflamed curiosity.
“You know,” he said, “my dog’s arms. He goes dancin’ the la bambaaa..” As he began to sing, the guy rose to his feet and sashayed around the courtroom. His lawyer sank her head into her hands.
The judge banged his gavel. “Mister President,” he said. “This is highly unorthodox.”
But the president couldn’t hear the judge. He was lost in his own tiny little world, a world of wood sprites and gumdrop munchkins, where ducks shoot grapes at hammers and all the world’s a big bathtub filled with tofu-based snack treats.
“Bailiff,” the judge said, “please escort the witness back to the stand.” But it was too late. The president was dancing right out the doors of the courtroom and disappeared into the hallway. The judge was about to declare a mistrial, when the doors suddenly slammed open once again, and there stood the president — with Marie Antoinette beside him!
All the spectators gasped in astonishment, then exploded with spontaneous applause. It was a great day for America. Marie Antoinette was a caveman.
I just spent a few minutes writing about why I disliked the memoir War is Boring, by David Axe with art by Matt Bors. I figured maybe other people would like to read it.
Mostly I found myself annoyed by the equanimity and detachment that the author presented toward places of incredible human suffering. Obviously a war correspondent becomes numb — as a matter of course — to the horrors of conflict. But it is this exact internal struggle that creates some of the best war reporting on the planet. (I’m thinking here of Robert Fisk, Amy Goodman, Allan Nairn, even Anderson Cooper.) I cannot recommend Joe Sacco enough for a superb example of a comics-artist war correspondent.
I have no problem with war correspondents putting their own emotions — even if I disagree with them — into a story. The author of War is Boring, on the other hand, seems to represent the worst traits of 21st-century US ennui: Everything is just a re-run or a big yawn. It reminds me of this scene from My Dinner With Andre. Alas, rather than wrestling with this boredom, or interrogating its sources or the dangers it presents, the author chooses to wallow in it.
As someone who has been deeply involved with human rights and international solidarity activism for nearly 20 years, I simply cannot sympathize with this view. There is so very much work we need to do to resist the constant needless suffering on the planet, and if the author believes that there’s nothing we can do to stop the sort of conflict he witnesses, then he is simply and factually wrong.
And as someone who has written four novels and a wide variety of stories, autobiographical pieces, and other materials, I am strongly annoyed by the solipsistic nature of his book. If war (and therefore his life) is so boring, why write a book about it? As Saul Williams said: “Are your tales of reality worth their sonic-laced discussions?” It seems like the author here just kinda wanted to write a book, and he figured he had enough material to make it happen, so why not?
But — again — what’s the point? What did he intend to illuminate about the nature of war (or war correspondence)? What does he want to say to his fellow humans about our condition on the planet? What is the intended takeaway? I consider it one of the rare few graphic novels that I seriously regret investing my time into.
My favorite bit is about the scene where Josh Brolin is chased by the dog.
J.C. It was a scary dog. It wasn’t a movie dog.
C.M. It was basically trained to kill people.
J.C. It was basically trained to kill people.
E.C. The trainer had this little neon-orange toy that he would show to the dog, and the dog would start slavering and get unbelievably agitated and would do anything to get the toy. So the dog would be restrained, and Josh, before each take, would show the dog that he had the toy, he’d put it in his pants and jump into the river …
Jason Gol!@%!er : About time, thanks, gobble gobeeehueeeeh
Jason Gol!@%!er : Where is our show? We demand it!
stulec52 : hey buddy, too busy playing PC games for a new podcast ??
Guest_4412 : Great syncast this week! About fifteen seconds in it sounded like you almost said :"synesthetic.". As a person who has synesthesia, I got very excited for half a moment. Oh, and thanks for the link to Philosophy Bites!
esp : Hey Bob good to hear from ya. I assume everything got worked out?
Bob : Hey Eric. Thanks for the hour of entertainment. You'll be happy to know your podcasts are not yet contrary to the values of the Sultanate of Oman. Maybe by next week...
esp : GEEZ! I'm supposed to be blazing through ME3 today, but instead I'm writing diatribes about politics.
BygoneApprentice : As a former student, I am thoroughly impressed.
Guest_752 : I like what you said about loyalty day. It seems to me Loyalty day is all about being a servant to the government, rather than the principal of liberty.
esp : Leave comments about the show, why dont'cha?
GH Rocker : wasson?
esp : Thank you for being my friends
esp : Yay people in the chatterbox
oldspicy : Hello!
Skulduggerer : ...on facebook chat
Skulduggerer : Been getting me some more Eric in my ears! Posted some interesting links from this side of the pond