Naked Farmers of the Apocalypse

June, thou art far too hot, you crusty polyp.

So, here’s the opening to a novel of mine that might see the light of day eventually. Who knows. I do not. Gingerly tiptoeing away from THAT TOPIC RIGHT NOW.

NFOTA showcases young Candle who finds a newborn baby beside the Malheur River, near Vale, Oregon. She takes it home to her grandmother and hijinks ensue when the grandmother decides the baby was sent by God to give her a second chance at, well, everything.

from NAKED FARMERS OF THE APOCALYPSE, Chapter One–River Bank Kinda Rank:

     Candle Santiago let the smell of the Malheur River soak into her nostrils. Fetid rotting carp and soft rotting cottonwood branches. She moved closer to the stank little river, sniffing back a snootful of snot. Her allergies had come back for a visit. Springtime had come to Malheur County like a sullen bride walking down an aisle covered with dog shit. Candle waited for Tiff to show up; they would smoke a joint Tiff would steal from her mom’s new boyfriend, Mike. It’s good stuff, Tiff had promised. If I let Mike touch my titties, he gives me a joint. It’s totally worth it. Considering that Mike was over forty and Tiff was way under eighteen, no, it really was not. But Candle had her own problems and Tiff seemed fine with an old pervert slapping her tiny boobs or whatever he did.

     Something caught Candle’s attention. A splash. A faint little cry. Some animal caught in the act of drowning. Candle walked toward the heavy brush. There, a grungy pink bundle and yes, a tiny human hand extending from it. A baby. She bent over the filthy blanket full of a tiny child, which looked like a small wrinkled monkey. “Hey, what the hell.” A glance about but it seemed the baby had just been left there. Like that Moses baby in the Bible her grandmother loved to read. He floated down the Nile and the Pharaoh’s daughter scooped him right the bibbidy up. Except this baby didn’t look clean and cared for. It looked like shit. There was blood and goop on it. It didn’t seem hurt. Fresh born? Jesus on toast, as her dad liked to say, which made her grandmother lower her truly caterpillar-like eyebrows and mutter about Mother Mary, forgive my son. Candle picked the baby up and then nearly dropped it. It wiggled and went stiff and wiggled some more, and then sobbed. She had never held a real baby before. Her sister, Doreen, was a lesbian. Dora had told the entire family, at Christmas not two years before, that she wasn’t having no fucking kids, ever. Candle, then ten or so, had been too young to trust with Aunt Irina‘s brand new baby girl. Nobody was allowed to hold the little freak, who had been born with only one arm. There was also something messed up inside and everyone had acted real sad when Kaitlyn had died in the night. Just one of those things, Esme Santiago had moaned out. Just one of those things. Candle’s mother, Cris, had not been there. She had been down in Pasadena or Thousand Oaks by then. Now and then she sent post cards to Candle. I live here now, one had said, with a picture of something pretty on the front. As Cris did not have any money, Candle assumed she lived in a shithole and took the buses to get around.

     “I got it…what the fuck is that? Oh em gee, it’s a baby,” Tiff came up behind Candle, wearing her favorite pair of sweat pants, stamped with the Florida Gators and already holding out that joint, which she put behind her big ear. Tiff would have been somewhat pretty if only God hadn’t given her giant elephant ears. Tiff also had a strong stench of pot. But her mother had plants. Candle really didn’t pay attention to all that pot talk; it bored her into tears. “Whatcha doing with a baby?”

     “I found it. What do we do with it? Cops? Hospital? It looks real young,” Candle let Tiff peek at the dirty, squirmy little life.

from the Malheur Enterprise. Malheur River

Drops of the Sky

DROPS OF THE SKY

I eat drops of the sky like candy

made in the ovens of

the gods.

That road before me

leads me to saviors

made of stones and

tangled grasses…

saviors who will offer me

a star-scarred night;

a careless gift

to enjoy

like a broken porcelain cup

full of dandelion wine.

Jinxy

Oh….kay. Am wishing on stars and selling my soul to the devil at the crossroads at midnight. Cause. Why not. It can’t hurt and it might help.

Got through the second round of [bleep] and am WAITING OH MY LORDY DO YOU IDIOTS THINK I AM PATIENT OR SOMETHING? Just tell me. Ugh!

Tom Petty, you were right. The waiting is the hardest part.

It’s my b-day tomorrow. I’m old. Considering getting myself some Midori and watching movies all day. I have a trip coming up so don’t need to chance the local wilderness on a Friday, with the crazed shithouse rats that live around here and near here all competing for a spot in their vans down by one of the rivers.

I did manage to write this week. Got Army of Flamingos polished up and sent forth into that weird novella territory. I didn’t number the pages but I don’t normally do that for a book-length anything. I hope in the NINE FREAKING MONTHS or that one eternity later, from Spongebob, that it doesn’t detract from the wonderment of my tale. It did say nine months to respond. But. There are a shit ton of submissions to read. I get it. I get it!

My garden has some splendid spots. My tomato plant is a BEAST. I love it! I don’t even like tomatoes. But. I can do things with fresh ones. And can freeze them handy enough. Punkins are percolating. Peppers are peppering along. Flowers are preparing to bloom. I’ve been drying my sage and oregano, need to tackle the cilantro. As in dry it or figure out how to preserve it.

So yes. I have books out. On Amazon and elsewhere. Aftermath: Boise, Idaho is a sentient zombies fun romp. The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane is sort of Doomsday meets Mad Max meets a Judi Dench and her friends movie meets the Brothers Grimm. As in their uncensored tales, with cannibals and mothers beating on their dead children to make them behave and…uh huh. Make me a happy birthday person and pick one or the other or both up. Read them on your Kindle and leave me a review! Yay!

Jinx

I know there’s no such thing as jinxes. I know this. My brain know it. The rest of me, eh, no so much. I am always wary of speaking or writing of something before it happens. Like a job interview. Do not tell anyone or even admit you have one before the interview. Otherwise, IT WILL GO BADLY.

Anyone else have this one? You don’t talk about something important or just ordinary [like a job interview] before you get the results or it will GO BADLY.

Anyway! Yes, I have a job interview or rather, a process to get to a job. A series of steps, as it were. I’m on step two. If I get through [this next task], it’s on to other steps. Hurray. The good thing is: I can do this job from home. I don’t have to deal with anything but equipment going nutty. Or a bad internet connection that day. As the internet works most days here, not really concerned that way. My computer works fairly well. I can even hook cameras and headsets up without much trouble. Go me! Normally I am such a Luddite. But it’s just plugging stuff into the USB ports, so…yeah. I can totally do that. I am the master of plugging stuff into USB ports. You betcha.

I’ve tried this before, what sort of job I’m trying to land now. I failed so miserably at it. Ugh! Could not get the equipment to work. But this time, I am ready, more or less. I’m being vague because of the whole jinx thing.

I have books out. Aftermath: Boise, Idaho deals with sentient zombies and our intrepid, pragmatic heroine, Hannah. The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane pits three elderly, but thoroughly fabulous sisters, each in their own way, against a beat-up cannibal bikers. The Werewolves limp into what’s left of Fallon, Nevada, after their own epic showdown with a rival gang, the Glitterbugs. But wait, there’s a third gang of law and order church ladies looking to restore everything called the Snitty Ratballs. There’s also a lion roaming around, double and triple crosses and alliances formed to fight a common foe!

I had a lot of fun writing both of those. I tried to balance between the absurd, the comedic and the horrible. I think I did okay. Both are available on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

Carnivale!

HBO’s Carnivale

June! 2021 already feels eight miles long, if ya catch my driftwood. Geez. Alrighty.

     I have been rewatching an HBO series from the early 2000’s called Carnivale, about a showdown between good and evil played by the chosen ones of God and the Devil. At least, that’s what I garnered from it the first time around and pretty much this time, too. It’s all set against the Great Depression, pre-WWII, post WWI, the ‘war to end all wars’. It ran two seasons. 24 episodes. Very well done, quality stuff here.

It featured Clancy Brown and Amy Madigan as a squirrelly brother and sister team, where he’s Brother Justin and she’s the alleged submissive elderly spinster takes care of the house and does a lot of church work drone. Of course, we get intimations early on that Brother Justin ain’t the godly sort, that he might be working for the Other Team. We also find out the sister ain’t so, uh, yeah. No spoilers if you haven’t found this odd little gem of a series yet.

Tommy Dolan, Iris Crowe and her brother, Justin Crowe. Robert Knepper, Amy Madigan and Clancy Brown.

Of course, the carnival itself. Colorful characters! Freaks but no geeks. That’s where a man or woman eats a living creature, usually a chicken, as an audience watches. It’s just as gross, heartless and terrible as it sounds and yes, actually took place. We have the family of whores and chooch dancers! Boy howdy, does mama Rita Sue, Cynthia Ettinger, have the goods. She’s actually fleshy, earthy and exudes real actual sexuality—a sort of Marilyn Monroe type twenty years before MM was a thing. Maybe she’s a Mae West-ian type? Okay! She’s also one of my faves from this show. Stumpy, her hubbie and father of their two dancing daughters, is also a fave. He’s walking a knife edge between wanting to keep on feeding himself and his family and walking away from what he clearly thinks is emasculating him in the eyes of everyone. And it’s fascinating to watch all the dynamics at play in this family, which faces a tragedy pretty early on.

There’s also the snake dancer, played by the fantastic Adrienne Barbeau. There’s a bearded lady, who’s in cahoots and in bed with the blind seer, Dr. Lodtz. Who’s a treacherous bastard in the manner of Littlefinger from Game of Bones, er, Thrones. But oddly, lacking the real charm that Littlefinger had and the subtleness that so underlined one of the archvillains of King’s Landing.

Suffice it to say, there’s a great cast here with some truly fun parts. And hoooo boy howdy, is a lot of that just enjoyable to watch. Carnival folk struggling to make ends meet during the Dust Bowl years. That would have been a great series. Just real people fighting and scrapping to fill the kitty each night they got the whole shebang set up in some field or outside a town.

Sigh.

Now, I am not against all the magic-mystical-religious overtones in Carnivale. Because they’re graphic, sexual, ghastly, bloody, beautiful, strange and at times head-scratching.

So now let me go over the lead character, Ben Hawkins as played by Nick Stahl and one of the featured females, Sophie, as played by Clea Duvall. As they seem to be one and the same character.

Thoroughly unlikable shits that get chance after chance after chance for some reason. I mean, after a while, shouldn’t people listen to Ben Hawkins telling them to leave him alone and, well, leave him alone? Or figure out that Sophie isn’t likely to feel anything for you, Jonesy but a contempt? Move on, Jones! Jesus Christ, move on. It’s also a creepy relationship, as Jonesy is a grown man in his thirties who played with Sophie when she was a kid yet…mmm. Now he’s hitting on her and wanting to get in her panties. She’s it for him, as he confessed to our resident lady with a lot of gentlemen callers. Why?? Sophie, as written, has no redeemable qualities and is pretty much a lesbian. She showed more want and desire for Libby, daughter of Mae West-ian earth mama, than she had ever displayed for lovesick Jones.

Now, Ben is allegedly the hero here. The reluctant savior type, as he’s called by Samson, the little person who’s second in command. Samson takes orders from Management, who seems invisible and might be God? Mm. Management tells Samson that Ben is important, they have to take him with them. This is after we see Ben not save his own mother with his magic healing powers. He’s a gruff, ungrateful, thoroughly repellent character as written and played. Is this deliberate? Are we supposed to warm up to ole Ben? Cause. Yikes. I had this same problem first time I watched this. I grew impatient and then numb to whatever Ben was going through or had to do or was forced to do or whatever. Fuck off, Ben. I kept wondering why these savvy carnie folk didn’t shuck him like a bad oyster already. So what if he’s the savior-chosen whatever. So? Apparently this same fight has been waged since ever. It’s not like it’s unique. Drop Ben like a bad habit, Carnivale denizens!

To me, if Ben and Sophie had been culled early, I’d not have missed them. I was far more interested in the life of a circus performer set against such a harsh backdrop. Sure, you can throw in some magic and whatever, but oh my God, make the main character a bit more rounded than LEAVE ME ALONE I’M SUFFERING HERE. Fuck me running. I started to root for Brother Justin, played almost note-perfect by Brown, to win at whatever game this was. Blow the whole world up, you crazy bastard! Totally Team Justin here. I also wanted Sophie to meet her end so Jonesy could move on, steal Rita Sue from Stumpy and…yeah.

All in all, it’s a pretty good watch if you’re up for it. You might like Sophie and Ben more than I do and hey, that’s fine. I just found them both so utterly repellent on every level. Be warned, it’s HBO so there’s nudity, cussing, rape, violence, drug use, a scene where rabbits are beat to death and some other assorted stuff and things that might not be your cup of dust. Get it? Dust Bowl? Cup of dust??

This has been my brief, hasty take on Carnivale.

Some of the Carnivale crew from the HBO two-season series. Sophie and Ben are dead center.