mall crawlin

I probably haven’t been to a mall since 2019. Other than grocery stores, I rarely ever do in person shopping. I’d venture to guess that malls and department stores have been on the downward trend since at least the Great Recession (but I really don’t know because I do zero research here).

Many will blame the pandemic for this trend, but honestly, the glory days of mall shopping were numbered the moment someone first purchased something online.

That’s just facts.

It’s no big deal to me. I’ve never enjoyed shopping and I hate leaving the house. Therefore online shopping works for me.

So thank you, Jeff Bezos! You might be a member of a billionaire class that puts our democracy at risk, but at least you made my life easier 🥰

Everything goes through paradigm shifts…both big and small…from the way we eat things, to technology, to the way governments work, to even ECONOMIES. So is ‘capitalism’ to blame for the decline in malls? Yes (conversely, I presume, capitalism is what brought us malls to begin with. So “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”). But even without capitalism, the world changes. And it’s foolish to believe that there was a time when it never changed, or that it’s even possible for such a world to exist.

NEVERTHELESS, I can empathize with those that were attached to mall culture. It ain’t easy watching something you love go to trash (believe me, I know. I’m a Star Trek fan). And that’s probably why there are countless accounts on Instagram that are documenting it’s decline.

Dead malls are everywhere. But they leave behind an interesting glimpse into the past. Memories were made there; they are architectural exhibits of a specific time and place. So malls are a part of history.

Unfortunately, probably because of their size alone, many malls are being demolished to make room for the next great innovation in capitalism. And the next innovation will be beloved by the next generation, but this innovation will face the same fate as all the other innovations before.

And so it goes.

I would share some of the photos from these various Insta accounts I follow, but people get a little touchy when you share something that doesn’t belong to you. So here’s a small list:

@deadmallcrawl

@rayoutthere

@mallchitecture

@ruralretail

These are the four that I could look at for hours and hours. There’s just something hauntingly beautiful about decaying public spaces. 🤷‍♂️

****

And speaking of death, it’s Halloween time!

So STOP reading my blog, and stop on over at Dead Star Press and save 31% off your next purchase!

“Untitled” (Part VI)

“You don’t have to wear a condom, Eric,” Patricia said after getting rammed into next Tuesday. “I’m 60 years old. I’ve had a hysterectomy. I won’t be getting pregnant anytime soon.”

“I know that,” replied Eric (actually he had never heard the word hysterectomy), “I only wear one to to numb the feeling a bit. Because of that spinal injury, a slight change in weather makes me bust my pants. Besides, it’s still good protection from STDs”

“Yeah, with you, I’m DEFINITELY not worried about that,” Patricia said.

After their romantic pillow talk, Patricia sat up nude in bed and pulled out a pint of vodka. “Care for some?” she asked Eric.

“No thanks, that stuff dulls the senses,” he replied. “I have to be in tip top shape when I go live for Fortnite.”

“You know that shit’s for babies, right?”

“I ain’t a baby! I’m 33!”

“Whatever dude,” Patricia said as she pounded the pint, “do you even have a job?”

“What’s the point?!” screamed Eric. “The government’s just gonna tax half my check anyway! Besides, are you ever SOBER?”

“How fucking dare you!”

Passion was instantly reignited in the pair as they flung their naked bodies at one another in a frenzied, sexual fury. “You’re a sick, pathetic, loser!” Patricia orgasmically screamed. “And you’re a drunken spinster!” replied an equally euphoric Eric. Finally this inexplicable fervor came to an explosive climax and the two laid in bed, covered from head to toe in each other’s bodily fluids.

It was a disgusting sight.

“What just happened?” Patricia asked as she tried to catch her breath.

Eric had no answer.

Then, after several moments, a still befuddled Eric sat up. “I gotta get to the Xbox,” he said, then climbed out of bed.

Patricia just laid there in her own sweat, unable to make sense of anything. Then, while lost in her thoughts, there was a knock on the front door. She threw on her robe and took a quick glance in the mirror before rushing down stairs.

“What does this jackass want?” Patricia thought to herself. Then her jaw dropped when she opened the door.

“Hello Mom,” the visitor said.

TO BE CONTINUED…

“Untitled” (part v)

Patricia put down her cocktail and slammed her hands on the table. “Goddamnit!” she yelled, “Who the hell is knocking on my door?!”

She swung the front door open to find Eric just standing around with his mouth agape like a fool. “Oh it’s you,” Patricia said, “I just woke up! What kind of jackass knocks on my door at this hour?!”

Eric looked at his watch. “It’s 2:30 pm,” he replied.

“You’re goddamn right it is! What the hell do you want?”

“Mom kicked me out of the house. I’m just gonna crash here.”

“Huh? What?!” exclaimed Patricia. She then leaned forward and barfed all over potted plants on the front porch.

“If this is a bad time, I can come back later,” said Eric.

“No no,” Patricia replied while wiping vomit from her mouth, “come inside, we’ll work this out.”

She was afraid Eric was going to return after he informed her of his feelings. Despite being 30 years old, he seemed to innocent in the ways of the world; she didn’t want him reading too much into their sexual encounter.

“Look,” she explained, “it was a mistake to give you that handjob. As a trained doctor, that was unprofessional of me. But I had to determine if your spinal injuries would cause you to have unprovoked ejaculation!”

“Oh god, I think you were right,” Eric squealed as he busted in his pants. “This has been happening all week!”

Patricia shook her head. “I’m sorry if you feel like you were taken advantage of,” she said.

“Taken advantage of?” he replied. “No woman has ever touched me that way. That was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Patricia was puzzled. “You mean…”

“Oh sure, sure. I’ve DEFINITELY had sex before,” Eric explained, “but a visit to the truck stop glory hole in Rockford, IL just ain’t the same thing, ya know?” Eric put down the Xbox he was hauling around and ran his fingers through his hair. “Patricia, I’ve always been an angry man,” he said as he struggled to find the right words, “but something inside me has changed. I don’t know if it was you crashing into me with your car, or holding me captive for two weeks while I recovered, your attempt at bribery, or the aforementioned handjob. But I feel like I’ve become a better person since meeting you.”

Patricia exhaled as she considered her response. Eric was handsome in his own slobbish way, she thought. She didn’t know if it was the combination of Xanax, Ambien, and alcohol flowing through her, but she was slightly moved by his little speech. Yet the truth was, just as Eric was deprived sexually, she was deprived of any emotional connection.

Plus, there was lingering guilt from the car crash.

“Alright,” Patricia said, “you can stay here. Just…”

“…anything Patricia! I’ll do anything!” happily cried Eric.

“…just stay away from my booze.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

“Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament” by Jonathan Bernier

New Testament scholarship has plenty of quacks. Not only from Christian apologists who argue that everything in the Bible is literal and true, but also from atheists who argue that Paul pulled the entirety of Christianity and Jesus out of his ass. Some argue that there’s no harm in arguing for such outrageous claims (which usually rely on mere conjecture) but that’s simply bad scholarship.

And bad scholarship is just that: bad scholarship. (And honestly, atheists, of which I consider myself, should know better)

Unfortunately there’s just too many holes in New Testament history, and given the nature of its study, it’s understandable that people are going to have some strong opinions. Moreover, new evidence is few and far in between, so scholars sometimes let their imaginations run wild with what scant data there is.

Nevertheless, MOST academics, ranging from the secular to the devoutly fundamental, can agree on a few things: 1st Thessalonians is probably the first Pauline epistle (likely written in 52AD) and the Gospel of Mark is the oldest gospel (likely written just after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD). In fact, I’d argue, from the perspective of academia, these dates could almost be deemed ironclad.

Few, if any, from the hardline atheist side (especially the “mythicist” school) would move these dates forward, largely to put as much distance between the (“alleged”) death of Jesus and the first written accounts. In fact, from this perspective, only the most ardent apologist would attempt to do so.

Then there’s Jonathon Bernier’s Rethinking the Dates of the New Testament.

The book was released this year, so I don’t know what it’s academic reception is. But a few armchair scholars are already labeling it a work of apologetics. And that’s a bit too harsh, in my opinion.

Nevertheless, when one pushes the dates of the gospels up by nearly 30 years, it should raise a few eyebrows. Much of this argument hinges on the dates of Luke (and by extension, the Book of Acts), which is largely agreed to be the last synoptic gospel written. I agree with Bernier that the “we” passages in Acts have been a difficult thing for scholars to explain, especially if we want to date Luke/Acts post 90AD. Additionally, Bernier makes a compelling (although not fully convincing) argument that the ending to Acts wouldn’t quite make sense to readers had it been completed sometime after Paul’s death.

Yes, Bernier is a professor at a theology school attached to the University of Toronto (but honestly, those are the only places you can find a job teaching about history of early Christianity and the New Testament). But he certainly doesn’t rely on “apologetics” to make his arguments. You may not find it compelling, but I think the importance of Bernier’s work is to highlight that an earlier dating for the New Testament is not entirely unfounded.

This book may not be a “paradigm shift” in New Testament studies, but the author does ask important questions and the knee jerk reaction shouldn’t be to label it apologetics.

Besides, doubt in god and Christianity shouldn’t hinge on Jesus’s existence or the dating of the New Testament. That’s a weird argument to make. So atheists, particularly ones like myself who can appreciate the New Testament for its historical and (at times) artistic value (as opposed to misusing it by believing it to be some holy document), should be open to reading Jonathon Bernier’s work.

All good things…

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. -Paul of Tarsus

In all sincerity, in his review of Picard Season 2, Mike Stoklasa nearly moved me to tears when he discussed his realization that Star Trek really was dead, comparing his journey to the that of the boys in Stand By Me (which coincidentally starred Wil Wheaton). His journey of grief led him to face the realities of life, put away childish things, and blossom into a man (who subjects his friends to shitty movies and laughs at old people for a living).

After the disaster that was Season 1 of Picard, I figured that the powers that be…the writers, producers, Paramount+…would have corrected course and made a proper send off for the legendary cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Then the trailer above dropped.

And I’ll admit: my heart absolutely sank to my feet. Patrick Stewart will no longer be alone in his debasement for the upcoming season. Now the entire cast of TNG will be along for this pitiful, disgusting ride.

I could go on ripping this trailer to shreds, but I won’t. You know why? Because someone…a LOT of someones…LOVE this show. When the Star Wars prequels arrived, they were derided by the entire fan base. But they made a FUCK TON of money. So I knew in my heart, despite me hating the SHIT out of the prequels, there’s gonna be a whole generation that will love them.

And honestly, good for them. It’s the next generation of fans that these long-established franchises are aiming at. I could spend the rest of my life being angry at what these new producers have done to my beloved Star Trek. But I’ve been on the ride long enough.

It’s not the way I would have liked to have seen my favorite character go out, but he was a hero of my childhood. And it’s time to put childish things away.

Farewell TNG

***

But you know what I WON’T put away…or even put DOWN:

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“Untitled” (part iv)

“I fucking hate you,” Eric’s mom informed him. “You disappear for two weeks without letting me know where you were! How disrespectful of you, you piece of shit!”

“Mom, put down the booze and listen!” Eric replied. “Like I said, I got drunk at a bar, walked home, got HIT by a drunk driver, she nursed me back to health, and now we’re in love. Are you fucking stupid?”

“That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!”

“There’s nothing crazy about it at all. It happens everyday!”

Eric’s mom shook her head. “Your father would be disappointed in you if he were still alive.”

“He is still alive. He just lives in Indiana!”

“Get out!” she screamed. “You’re not welcome back in this house. You’ve been nothing but a burden to me. You sleep all day, you do nothing but clog the toilet and play Xbox. And I’ve even caught you wearing my underwear! You’re a disgusting pervert!”

“Ma, I’m a man goddamnit! A MAN!“ Eric shouted. “And as the man of this household, I will not be addressed in that tone! I’m a proud libertarian and I believe in working for everything I’ve got! You’re not kicking me out! I’m unplugging my Xbox and LEAVING!”

Eric yanked the plug out of the wall, kicked the door open, and stomped his way over to Don Lemon’s house a block away. He pounded on the door until Don’s pregnant wife, Stacy, answered.

“Don’s not here, sweetheart,” she said to him.

“Oh that’s okay, I’m just gonna play Xbox and crash in your basement for awhile. Don will be cool with it.”

“Uhh, I don’t think so,” she replied as she tried to block him from entering. “Don and I have to discuss this first.”

“Darling,” Eric said, “with all due respect, Don is the man of the house and I’ve known him longer than you. So please, step aside and let a grown ass man play some goddamn Minecraft!”

Right then, Don Lemon pulled up in his 4-cylinder Honda CR-V. “Don, can you believe this shit?” Eric said to him, “your wife won’t let me through the door. Who does she think she is?”

A puzzled Don looked over to Stacy. “What’s going on here?” he asked her.

“Eric wants to….”

“Let me explain, Don,” Eric interrupted, “Ma was being a bitch, so I told her to fuck off. I came over here to crash for awhile until I can talk my girlfriend into letting me move in with her. It’s not a big deal!”

“Your girlfriend? Move in? I don’t understand…”

“Yeah, my girlfriend dude, I told you! She’s like 60 years old, but still pretty hot, you know what I’m saying? Plus she’s rich. Anyways, I’m trying not to make things weird because we’ve only known each other for two weeks, so it’s probably too early to move in together. So I’m just gonna stay in your basement until enough time passes and I can move in with her. It’s quite simple.”

“I don’t think so, Eric,” Don replied, “Stacy’s due at any moment and we’ve got enough going on in this household…”

“I see, I see…,” Eric nodded, “so I guess our friendship means nothing to you. I should have known. Stacy’s totally domesticated you. You’ll never be Enkidu to my Gilgamesh, Robin to my Batman, or Spock to my Kirk. Oh well! A real man must forge his own path anyway.”

Eric straightened himself up, ran fingers through his hair, and with the Xbox in hand, he started marching proudly down the street. Then he stopped in his tracks. “Can you drive me to my girlfriends?” he asked Don.

TO BE CONTINUED…

deadpool

I pride myself on having watched most of Clint Eastwood’s films. Yet for some reason, I’ve avoided watching The Dead Pool, which was the final installment for the great Dirty Harry franchise, for the longest time.

Until last night.

And it made me wonder why they didn’t make another Dirty Harry movie. Clearly Eastwood was going out on top of his game. Maybe at the spry age of 92, Clint will pull out .44 Magnum and terrorize the streets of San Francisco once more. But until then, we’re left with The Dead Pool, co-starring the delightful Patricia Clarkson and a ponytailed Liam Neeson.

Now Buddy Van Horn does a pretty solid job here. You’re probably wondering ‘who the fuck is Buddy Van Horn?’ And the answer is simple: he was a stunt man who Clint Eastwood inexplicably chose to direct this picture. But he handles the romance between Harry Callahan and Patricia Clarkson, who is 30 years Eastwood’s junior, with a particular delicacy. It’s very easy to understand why a young, attractive, and ambitious journalist would fall for a crabby, old San Francisco cop that everyone is trying to kill.

Not only is Liam Neeson particularly Irish in this picture, we’re also treated to an early performance from Jim Carrey, who, though on the screen for only five minutes, poorly lip synchs to Guns N’Roses and overacts his way through a drug overdose.

Now if Clint Eastwood is good at one thing, it’s engaging in sensitive cultural issues, especially regarding Asian-Americans (see Gran Torino). For this installment, Harry Callahan is paired with Evan C. Kim, an actor born to Korean immigrants, this time playing a Chinese-American. The shootout in a Chinatown restaurant is superbly handled as Callahan fires away after reading from a fortune cookie.

So how does this picture stack up to other San Francisco based action flicks? Pretty good. Especially if you’ve ever wondered how the chase from Bullitt would have looked if it featured a remote controlled toy car. 👍

“untitled” (part iii: another disgusting sex scene 😔)

“I’ve seen a million penises,” Patricia informed Eric. “I’m a trained doctor, remember? I just need to examine your pelvis to see if it’s fully healed for fuck’s sake!”

“But I’ve always had male doctors,” Eric replied. “If a female doctor looks at my junk, I might, uhh..”

“Get a boner?” Patricia asked. “Who gives a fuck? I’m just gonna lower your underwear and feel around a little.”

Eric laid in bed quietly as Patricia lowered his piss-stained tighty-whities. Despite flooding his mind with unpleasant thoughts, blood raged through his veins on down to his nether regions. Patricia focused diligently on her duties while her wrist and elbows occasionally brushed up against his pathetic, throbbing erection.

The two didn’t say a word for the duration of the examination. Patricia came to the conclusion that Eric did indeed make a full recovery and then looked back at his helplessly average wang. “Do you ever wash this thing?” she asked, “Jesus Christ.”

“Uhhh….,” Eric was at a loss for words while Patricia studied his appendage. Already four sheets to the wind, Patricia removed her rubber gloves and gripped Eric’s schlong. “Sometimes after pelvic and spinal injuries,” Patricia explained, “male patients can experience ejaculatory problems.”

After two, no more than three strokes, Eric busted all over Patricia’s hand and guest bed. “Hmm,” Patricia wondered aloud as she gazed upon her jizz stained hand, “based on the lack of stimulus applied to the glans, you may experience involuntary ejaculation from here on out.”

Patricia stood up to wash her hands while Eric remained laid out in a state of post-orgasmic euphoria. After drying her hands, she wrote out a seven figure check. “I hope this covers everything,” she said as she laid the check down on Eric’s bare chest while his arms were sprawled out, “I’m sorry for hitting you with my car. But you are fully healed. You’re free to leave whenever you wish.”

Eric came to his senses, pulled up his nasty ass underwear, and proceeded to dress. Patricia went back downstairs to pour herself a stiff drink. Eric joined her minutes later.

“These last few days,” he explained, “have been some of the best days of my life.”

“The hell are you talking about?” Patricia asked. “You’ve been bed-ridden for two weeks!”

“I know, I know,” Eric replied. He then lifted up the seven figure check, ripped it up, and let the shreds fall to the floor. “But damn it, Patricia,” he continued, “I think I’m falling for you.”

“Uhhh….”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Frasier unleashed

Great news everyone!

Not only is Blade Runner getting a TV show, Paramount+ has rebooted the greatest show from the 90s: Frasier.

https://deadline.com/2022/10/frasier-sequel-series-kelsey-grammer-series-greenlight-paramount-plus-1235134390/amp/

Details are scant, but it appears that this new iteration will take place in Toronto, where Paramount+ studios are conveniently located. But to be honest guys, I’m not too thrilled about the direction of this show.

For example, in the pilot episode, we learn that Frasier Crane was “canceled” from his Seattle radio program for dropping racial slurs on air IN ADDITION to facing numerous sexual harassment allegations from Roz Doyle which Frasier attributes to his relapsed alcoholism. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jordan Peterson has been cast to play himself as he advocates for Frasier’s employment as a professor at the University of Toronto. Since David Hyde Pierce will not be returning as a series regular, Peterson will be stepping in as Frasier’s sidekick. The two will, presumably, share colorful banter regarding Freudian vs Jungian schools of psychology as they lament cancel culture on college campuses.

Another strange decision from Paramount+ is the casting of Slavoj Zizek, again playing himself, for frequent guest appearances. Not much is known about this role, but it is presumed that Zizek will serve as Peterson’s arch nemesis by interfering in his numerous failed romantic relationships (i.e. by cockblocking him).

Kelsey Grammer will serve as executive producer and head writer.

I’m left scratching my head on why Paramount+ greenlit this project. Frasier is a beloved show. It’s just an odd decision from Grammer to make his most famous character a rabid 9-11 Truther. Perhaps Paramount should go back to the drawing board on this one.

That’s just my two cents

“untitled” (part II)

“Sorry about shattering both your legs, pelvis, 14 ribs, and rupturing your brain,” Patricia told Eric, “but I couldn’t take you to the hospital. I hope you understand. That would work out best for both of us: I wouldn’t get fired and you wouldn’t accumulate massive medical debt. But I’m rich, so I will pay you a lot of money to keep your mouth shut.”

“Yeah, no I agree,” Eric replied as he sipped on his tea. Patricia spent the previous few days nursing him back to health in her own home. “I don’t trust doctors anyway,” he continued, “I just hope you cauterized the head wound to facilitate a full cognitive recovery.”

Patricia shook her head. “I’m sorry but you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a trained physician.”

Eric was stunned. It never occurred to his half witted (and heavily damaged) brain that a woman could be more knowledgeable than him. “B-b-but, I thought you were a banker!” he stuttered.

Patricia rubbed her temples. “It’s a long story,” she explained. “I have an MD and an MBA. The important thing is that I’m fully capable of healing you.” She then stood up at his bedside and slipped on a robe. “You should lie in bed for the next few days,” she continued, “don’t over exert yourself. I’ll compensate you for all your lost wages.”

“Shiiiit,” Eric said, “I’m making more money in this bed than I’ve ever made in my life. But my family’s gonna wonder where I’ve been. My mom’s probably gonna kick me out of the house for going missing.”

“Just make up something. Besides, aren’t you 33 years old? Why are you still living with your mom?”

“Living on my own? In this economy?! Yeah right!”

“Anyways!” Patricia said. “I’m going to work. Please stay in bed. And if you need anything, I’m at your mercy.”

Eric watched Patricia leave the guest room and close the door behind her. “Maybe I have a milf fetish,” he thought as he whiffed her lingering scent. The thought of her examining his body easily aroused him.

Meanwhile, Patricia returned to work after a week of tending to Eric’s needs. “So who’s the lucky fella?” the President and CEO of Fifth National Bank, Harvey Whinestine, asked as she walked into her office.

“Pardon?” she replied, fearing her secret has been discovered.

Harvey laughed. “I just figured you escaped to the Caribbean with one of your boy toys. I didn’t think we’d see you again.”

“Oh,” Patricia said, drawing a sigh of relief. “I’m sorry, I’ve been sick all week. I’ll get with Debra and we’ll get caught up on everything.”

Harvey stepped into her office and shut the door. “I do hope everything is alright,” he said. “If you ever need anything…”

“Harvey, I’m fine,” she interrupted. “I haven’t had a drink in two months. There’s no urge. You have nothing to worry about.”

Harvey shook his head. “I’m glad you’re hanging in there, kiddo,” he said. “Take all the time you need to get caught up.”

But Patricia instantly started answering emails after Harvey left the room. She opened the top drawer to her desk to find a notepad. Then she paused when she noticed what was inside: tucked away under a bunch of papers was a picture of her son.

“I’m sorry Carson,” she said to the photograph.

Her hands began to shake uncontrollably as she closed the blinds to her office window.

TO BE CONTINUED…