Why Pulp Revolution is Perfect Response to 24/7 Politics: Guest Post on Hollywood in Toto

Some of you might realize that politics has invaded all of your entertainment. Over on one of my favorite websites, Hollywood in Toto, I take a look at an antidote to the intrusion of heavy handed political messages in your fiction of choose: the Pulp Revolution.

Or #PulpRev, if you're hip:

Few people want to spend time with hectoring scolds in their everyday lives. But much of our arts have turned into moral crusaders telling you that, if you disagree with The Message then there must be something wrong with you.

Stories are methods of communication, but they should above all else be enjoyable.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, I have found such stories. There is a movement that does not care about writing message fiction. And what’s even more exciting is that it has no rules, no set guidelines or genre-definers, and most importantly, no political litmus test dictating what stories can and cannot contain.

It’s called the Pulp Revolution.

All that the Pulp Revolution—PulpRev for short—cares about is telling amazing stories based on timeless human principles. The purpose? Have fun without alienating half of its potential audience.

But what is the Pulp Revolution? To answer this, it’s helpful to talk about what it isn’t.

Read the whole thing at Hollywood in Toto. I've been a fan of Christian Toto since he was writing at Big Hollywood, and it's an honor to have written something for his excellent site.

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

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Reset: Chapter Four: Saturday, September 1, 2001 (1)

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“. . . mistake.”

Joe opened his eyes. Below him was not a cold tile floor, or even puffy white clouds, but bright green grass. A warm breeze tickled his neck. A fly buzzed in and out of his ear, contemplating whether it should land.

He was on his hands and knees, gasping for air like someone climbing out of an endless sea. For an absurd moment he thought he had grown extra fingers, but it was just double-vision, as though the shaking of The Machine had sent his eyeballs into permanent motion.

I can’t be dead, he thought, my head hurts too much.

Coughing rang out in front of him. It was Nick, lying spread-eagled on the ground, face towards the blue sky. The first thing Joe noticed was Nick’s hair, no longer short and conservatively styled but the wild jet-black mop he had when they were kids.

Joe tried to say something, but could only reply with a cough of his own. He had a brief second to catch his breath before his stomach lurched, expelling its contents onto the grass. When it was over, Joe felt better, like the Earth had regained its solidity.

Haltingly, he got to his feet. His vision returned to normal and he felt a bit stronger, though his knees shook like after a near-death experience.

Joe grabbed Nick by the arm; for some reason, Nick was wearing a black Nine Inch Nails t-shirt and a pair of green cargo shorts instead of his stylish navy-blue suit.

“Nick! Are you alright?!”

Nick groaned as Joe pulled him to his unsteady feet. He rested a hand on Joe’s shoulder, stooped down, and retched onto the grass, narrowly missing Joe’s shoes. They were a pair of black Chuck Taylors. Joe thought that was weird; what had happened to his Florsheims?

“Oh, wow.” Nick rubbed a forearm across his mouth. “That was gross.”

Joe looked around. Based on the soccer nets standing at each end of the grassy expanse, they must be at some kind of athletic field. Sure enough, a track circled them, its packed red dirt standing out against the green. On three sides were woods, on the fourth a hill leading up to a red brick building. “Are we . . . is that the Burns Center?”

Nick turned in a slow circle, his face slack with shock. At the end of his revolution Nick’s gaze darted towards Joe’s midsection. A smiled popped onto his face. “Your gut! Your gut, Joe! It’s gone!”

“My what?”

Nick laughed, boxing lightly at Joe’s flat stomach. “Your gut! Oh my God, Joe! It worked! It worked!” He laughed again, walking around with his arms raised like a triumphant boxer over his defeated foe.

When he stopped he straightened his back and rolled up his sleeve. “Look at my shoulder. Look at it!” He reached over to pull Joe’s up as well. “Yours too. Those lame tattoos we got are gone! This alone makes it all worthwhile!”

Sure enough, the scales of justice they had stupidly, and drunkenly, gotten inked on their shoulders after passing the bar exam were no longer emblazoned on their skin. “How did we get here? And your hair . . . Are we . . . are we dead, Nick?”

“It worked! Sanjay was right, the magnificent bastard! Don’t you get it? It worked!” Nick whooped, pumping his fist. “I’d say we’re more alive than ever!” He did a cartwheel on the grass, nearly kicking Joe in the face as he twirled through the air.

He landed, red-faced and huffing, and put his hands on Joe’s shoulders. “Remember freshmen orientation? Remember how we skipped it to toss the Frisbee around?”

“Freshman what? Like college?”

“Yes!”

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“That was years ago. Why are you. . .” But Joe stopped as his stomach turned to ice. He knew what came next.

Nick pointed to a yellow object in the grass. “There’s the Frisbee!

The realization crept up on Joe with the ruthless calm of a killer. He chose his words carefully, trying not to sound as crazy as he felt. “Are you saying we’re back in college?”

Nick gave him a shake. His eyes were fevered. Up close, Joe noticed that he had no wrinkles around his eyes and none of the stubble that permanently shaded his cheeks. “Think about it, Joe. The Machine was called the Chrono-Displacer. Think!

Joe opened a mouth gone dry, leaving his voice a rasping croak. “Are you saying that thing was a time machine?” Continue reading Reset: Chapter Four: Saturday, September 1, 2001 (1)”

Me and Harry: A Breakup

Dear Harry,

Listen: I’m done with you. Please know that it’s not you. And it’s not me.

It’s them.

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Let’s get this out of the way first: I know I’m writing a blog post to a fictional character. You are not real. That’s the thing: I know this!

But the others? The others seem to have been confused about this since time immemorial.

And especially since November 8, 2016.

It’s like a mass psychosis. In the event of a traumatic (if you’re a weak person with nothing in your life but politics who lets the outcome of an election literally make you crazy), certain people need something to hold on to. And in the absence of God, or family, or even sanity, they choose you.

And it’s not your fault. You seem like a pretty cool guy. Brave. Heroic. Willing to do the right thing, no matter the personal cost. Very admirable!

Here’s the thing: You’re not political. Hell, you’re not real, as we’ve already established. But if you were, you’d vote…

You’d vote for…

Um, actually, it’s impossible to tell from your books. There’s no politics in them! And that’s the great thing!

There are lessons, sure. Great lessons based on timeless human principles of bravery and heroism and self-sacrifice and all of that other corny, sincere stuff that has a distinctly, let’s say, right-leaning flavor to it.

But I digress. See, I don’t like politics. To me, it’s a necessary evil, one that a person needs to pay attention to, because it will pay attention to him, whether he likes it or not.

But I like fiction! Fantasy, sci-fi, classical literature, poetry…give me stories! And to the maximum extent possible, keep politics out of them!

And better yet, don’t read politics into stories when they aren’t there.

Your stories, Harry? Your stories have been  politicized to the point of parody, to the point beyond parody, to the point where the mere mention of your name pisses me off! And I counted myself a big fan of yours!

Without Hermoine blah blah blah.jpg

At least, I used to. Where to begin… Continue reading “Me and Harry: A Breakup”

A High Tolerance for Chaos: What I’ve Learned from Rejoining the World of Customer Service 

I got a second job, and it’s going along nicely. Sure, working after work, or on a weekend, isn’t nesesarily the first thing one wants to do. But the extra money is nice, as is the chance to just get out, meet some people, and hopefully learn something. 

In this case, about wine. 

But the return to the customer service industry has also proven to be educational on other matters besides the vino. For example, I’ve learned some things about myself and others.

You see, this past Friday and Saturday night, our point-of-sale computer system was out of commission. So all billing, taking payments, and accounting had to be done by hand.

In a historic downtown hotspot.

In the middle of summer.

On the two busiest nights of the week.

Like this, but sadly with less mustache.
Despite it all, we survived. And we survived with style. 

Here’s what stuck out to me from this brief return to the days of my youth when doing everything by hand would have just been considered normal.

We rely on machines way too much. A malfunctioning machine, in this case due to a quick lightning storm that rolled through town, made everyone panic like the sky was falling.

Well, not all of us. There was definitely a, shall we say, demographic difference in how people handled things, but I’ll get to that later. 

The thing is, the idea of having to do things manually seemed to abhorrent, not only to employees, but to the customers. From the looks of pity and soothing words we received, it was like we all lost loved ones.

It wasn’t that bad. Really. In fact, in some ways just writing things down was easier.

But this doesn’t bode well–and I’m really stretching things out here–but if there’s ever some global catastrophe, be it natural disaster or act of war, that knocks out our power grid, we are totally boned.  Continue reading “A High Tolerance for Chaos: What I’ve Learned from Rejoining the World of Customer Service “

Reset: Chapter Three: Now (3)

The lights blazed into life one after the other like dominos across the ceiling of the cavernous chamber, illuminating a massive, gleaming bulk. Joe blinked as details coalesced in the antiseptic glow.

Nick smiled with childlike glee. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Nick’s excitement was not contagious. Even in the light, Joe did not know what he was looking at. The thing before him seemed to grow from the floor, curves and flourishes coexisting with harsh right angles. It had a fluid, organic aspect that made Joe think of a metal flower sprouting from a computer. What looked like closed petals arose from its center, reaching halfway to the high ceiling.

“What is it?” said Joe.

“What do you mean, ‘what is it’? This is what we’ve been working on! Or the contract for, at least.”

“I know. But what is it?” Continue reading Reset: Chapter Three: Now (3)”

Lowering the Bar: What Is a “Good Father” in Current Year?

It irks me when someone tells me “Oh, you’re such a good father!” when they see me out and about with my son. 

Do I have your attention? Good. 

I’m know I’m not the first to notice this. And I know I won’t be the last. 

Why does this bother me so?

Because all I do either in public or in private is the parent my son. 

That’s it. Really. 

  • I pay attention and interact with him, and not my phone. 
  • I try to bring him with me everywhere I can just so we can hang out and maybe learn something. 
  • I use situations as lessons when appropriate. 
  • I discipline him when necessary. 
  • I try not to leave it up to my wife to do everything. 

And most importantly:

  • I love the little bugger, and I love him fiercely. 

In 2017, apparently, a man being a parent is all it takes to be considered a good father. 

The bar had been set so low by forces outside of our control, everyone’s perception is completely screwed up.

I hung out at the pool with my son over the weekend, chilling with a guy who also lives in the building and his two kids that he obviously loves. 

Does spending time with our kids make us “good fathers,” or just fathers?  Continue reading “Lowering the Bar: What Is a “Good Father” in Current Year?”

Reset: Chapter Two: Now (2)

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The cigarette almost fell from Joe’s open mouth. “You’re insane.”

The night was muggy. A summer rain had come and gone, leaving the air sticky and thick. Away from the office’s air-conditioned splendor, Joe’s back and armpits quickly slicked with sweat.

Nick exhaled a cloud of smoke in Joe’s face. “What do you mean, ‘insane’? Haven’t you been listening?”

“Yes, I’ve been listening. I don’t have much choice because you never stop talking. And that’s why I think you’re insane.”

“Then why don’t you listen?” Nick leaned forward and pressed his fingers against his temple.

“You’re ears are down there.”

“Who cares about my ears?! Never mind my ears! First my nose, and now you’re talking about my ears! What’s with you?!”

“I’m more worried about your brain, to be honest” said Joe. He dropped his cigarette and ground it under his heel. “I think, if you really want a second chance or whatever, you should quit working here, go work at the pizza place and forget this other stuff.”

“Go back to Lowell?” Nick waved a hand. “Forget it. I’m not talking about second chances. I’m talking about a do-over.”

“Which sounds like a second chance to me. But forget it, Nick. There’s no such thing.” Joe looked at his watch and groaned. “Let’s just get back to work. I, for one, don’t feel like losing my job. I’ve got bills to pay, after all.”

“Yeah, yours and Sandra’s.”

“That’s a low-blow,” said Joe.

“Maybe. But it’s true and you know it.” Nick took one last puff of his cigarette and put it out on the side of the building. “Come to the basement with me. Come on!”

“We’re not supposed to be down there, Nick! It’s maximum security. Top secret! And I sure as hell don’t have clearance.”

“Where are the guards?” asked Nick, hands in the air. “Where’s the security? Where are the guys with the guns?”

“It’s locked with a keycard!”

Nick pulled something from his pants pocket and waved it under Joe’s nose. “You mean this keycard?”

Annoyed, Joe waved Nick’s hand away. “What the hell?! When’d you become a thief?”

“Not a thief, Joe. I’m the ‘tech lawyer,’ remember? I work with those dudes a lot. Sanjay gave me a tour of The Machine so I’d understand it more when I review the contract. Plus, I’m actually interested in this kind of stuff.” Nick shrugged. “I guess he forgot to take his keycard back.”

“Right,” said Joe. He had to smile. Whoever had said that age mellows a man had never met Nick. “Forgot.”

“And I think you should see The Machine too so you know what the hell it is you’re reading about.”

“I know what I’m reading about.”

“Okay, smart guy,” said Nick. “What does The Machine do? That’s right–you don’t have a clue.”

“You didn’t give me a chance to answer,” said Joe, but his heart wasn’t in the protest.

“And I’m sure it would have been a brilliant answer, really dazzling, A-plus stuff. But we don’t have all night. Come on, let’s go. I’m telling you, you’ll thank me. I promise.”

“I doubt it,” said Joe. But he went. Continue reading Reset: Chapter Two: Now (2)”