Flashback: A Short Biography

So here it is, the post that started it all. It was originally published in early August of 2021.

As the new year approaches, I just want to reflect on how I’ve changed as a person and as a writer. Which really isn’t a whole lot when you think about it.

So onto 2023! Have a Happy New Years and thank you to everyone who has followed me on this journey.

I love you 😘

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day.

They say you can’t count your chickens before they hatch.

They say you can’t shit where you eat.

They say I should seek therapy because everyone’s worried about me.

They say I have a drinking problem and that I shouldn’t mix downers with downers.

They say I have crippling debt and that I am months away from homelessness 

Hi I’m James. And maybe they’re right. What do I know? Well let me tell you a little about myself.

I was born outside of a Denny’s in Scottsbluff, Nebraska in either late 1979 or 1981 depending on who you believe. I attended Norhwestern on an athletic scholarship, but was suspended for PED usage, and, in the words of the university, “cockfighting”. 

So I hit the road. I hit up every strip club and drug den from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. I learned a lot about myself on that trip. I learned that sometimes growing up means putting your pants on one leg at a time. Sometimes it’s about changing your pants. Sometimes your pants just aren’t long enough and you accidentally expose your wiener.

But the most important thing in life is this: show up to court on time and pay all of your fines.

So I actually know quite a lot. And if you stick around, you might learn something too.

So stay tuned my friends….

Jack Hardcock: The Legend Continues (Part XI)

“Layla, wait! I love you!” I yelled as I chased her out of the strip club and into the parking lot. As she frantically dug through her purse to find her keys, I pulled out the taser.

“Don’t make me use this,” I warned her. I inched closer towards her as she swiftly opened the door to her vehicle.

“Stay the fuck away from me!” Layla screamed. Then she swung around and nailed me in the stomach with a pair of brass knuckles. I dropped the taser as I fell to the ground.

Layla then squealed her tires as she attempted to back out of her parking space. But standing behind the vehicle was Donovan McNabb. “Layla!” he shouted.

She slammed on the brakes and put the car in park. “Donovan?! I could have killed you!” she screamed through the window. Then she stepped out of the vehicle to confront her ex-boyfriend.

“Donovan, goddamnit!” Layla shouted, “how the hell did you find me?”

“Nevermind that!” he replied, “I was worried sick about you after you ran out on me!”

Layla slowly rubbed her fingers through her hair as she tried to find the words. “I’m sorry I did that,” she replied, “I just didn’t have the courage to tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Donovan asked, “That it was over?”

Layla began to stutter. “I…I don’t know,” she said, “Donovan, I just don’t know who I am, okay? When I’m here, I want to be there. And when I’m there I want to be here. I just needed time away.”

“You could have said so!” he said.

Before Layla could answer, a squad car pulled into the lot. The police officer slowly rolled up and shined his bright light into our faces. I climbed to my feet as I was still struggling to catch my breath.

“Everything’s alright, officer,” I said, “no need for the law. Thank you for your service and blue lives matter.”

The officer slowly opened the door and stepped out of the vehicle. I couldn’t see his face as I was still blinded by the light. Then I heard a faint laugh.

“Well well well, Jack Hardcock found Layla Huffington,” the officer said. Then he stepped in front of the light and his face was plain as day.

It was Peter Tucker.

“Peter, I don’t have time for your theatrics,” I said, “let me get Layla and we’ll get the fuck out of California.”

“You know Jack, I was thinking…,” Peter replied, “I could save the taxpayers a lot of money by just killing you right here.”

“Look, how many times do you want me to say I’m sorry for killing your favorite porno director?”

“Dillon J Dudenburg was his name, Goddamnit!” Peter yelled as he pointed his 9mm at my head.

“Whatever. You can’t kill me. There’s too many witnesses. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life in prison for murder and impersonating a police officer?”

“I’m in the FBI. I AM THE LAW.”

“Peter,” Donovan interrupted, “Jack saved my life. I will be forever grateful for that. So if you’re gonna kill Jack Hardcock, you’ll have to kill me too.”

Peter thought for a moment, nodded, then turned the gun on Donovan. He pulled the trigger and a bullet landed square in his chest.

Layla screamed as her ex-boyfriend fell to the ground. That provided enough of a distraction for me to grab the taser gun and fire it towards Peter. The hooks grabbed ahold of him and he began to spaz out. Yet that wasn’t enough to bring him to the ground.

“I’ll get you next time, JACK HARDCOCK,” Peter yelled. While volts were still discharging through his body, Peter pulled off each of the hooks like they weren’t shit, then he slowly walked back to the police car and drove away.

Layla was holding a dying Donovan in her arms. There was no stopping the bleeding. As he was drawing his last breath, he grabbed me by the arm. “You were right, Jack,” he said.

“About what, Donovan?”

“There is an afterlife. I see it now.”

“Do you see Jesus?”

“I don’t see Jesus,” he explained, “but I do see Satan. Oh shit…”

Those were Donovan’s last words.

TO BE CONTINUED…

The 90s Reevaluated

Sorry, still sick so here’s another phoned in post.

Pierce Brosnan has been blowing up my news feed for whatever reason. I guess he’s playing some superhero or whatever, but I don’t watch that stuff. Unfortunately this has created a lot of (likely clickbait) opinion pieces that reevaluate his James Bond tenure.

I’ve always placed Goldeneye in the top 5 Bond films, which is where most 007 fans have historically placed it. But there’s a massive drop off with Brosnan’s other three films. The consensus is that while Brosnan could have been a great James Bond, his movies were either mediocre or terrible.

Or, I should say, this WAS the consensus during the Daniel Craig era.

Now that Craig’s moody and brooding Bond is dead and gone, perceptions on Brosnan’s portrayal have shifted. Craig’s 007 matched the times while Brosnan’s seemed clownish by comparison.

But after two years of a pandemic, record high inflation, and superhero movies flooding the theaters, audiences seem primed for a more tongue in cheek James Bond. So the Daniel Craig era is looking more passé by the second.

People are looking to return to a simpler time. And the most (relatively) simpler times in recent memory is the 1990s. At least this is my best explanation for why Pierce Brosnan is undergoing a micro-renaissance.

As a side note, the Star Trek: Next Generation films (which were also released in 90s) are being reevaluated. This is probably due to the cast returning for the final season of Picard. So Generations, released in 1994 and which infamously killed the original Captain Kirk, is being discussed again.

Why I bring this up is because a fourth “Kelvin era” Trek film, starring Chris Pine as nu-Captain Kirk, has stalled for probably the 10,000th time (thank god). While that (hopefully) means we won’t ever see Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as McCoy again, that does NOT mean we won’t see Pine as Kirk again.

Why?

Because as any Trek fan can tell you, while Shatner’s Kirk was killed in Generations, technically his existence is preserved in some “ribbon” that floats around in space where time doesn’t mean anything blah blah blah. And this “ribbon” hasn’t been mentioned in Star Trek since.

So you can see where I’m going with this: when another Trek film makes it to the streaming services sometime this decade, the original Captain Kirk will be pulled out of this ribbon to be played not by William Shatner but by, you guessed it, Chris Pine.

Anyways, enjoy the 2020s, aka the 90s Reloaded.

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!

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

Rectuma, monsturd, and deadbeat at dawn

This was a STRONG week on Tubi. Right when I was about to give up (not just on Tubi, but on life in general) I got slapped across the face with three BANGERS.

Rectuma (2003)

This is why I say it takes a couple of decades after a film’s release before it can be properly critiqued. Audiences were probably pissed when they saw this in 2003. They probably discarded it as just another lame attempt at South Park-style humor, which many attempted, unsuccessfully, to emulate. But now, nearly 20 years later, Rectuma’s stupidity can be fully appreciated.

Just in case you forgot, I’ve taken a LOT of drugs. And as a result, my memory is nearly shot. So if you want an accurate plot summary, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But best I can recall, the story is about some schlubby dude who gets raped by a frog in Mexico and then he gets nuclear rods shoved up his rectum thus causing his ass to grow massive in size before it starts attacking LA. Plus his wife is trying to kill him.

In 2003, I was fully steeped in this low-brow, offensive, toilet humor (still kinda am, tbh). That was practically internet culture in those days. So watching this movie was like a walk down memory lane.

People forget, there was a time when “politically incorrect” humor (before it got relabeled as “anti-woke” humor 🤢) oddly lacked any political dimension whatsoever. Everyone laughed at it because it was after 9/11 and we all thought we would die soon anyway. Stuff like Rectuma was supposed to distract us from that horrible fact.

So to appreciate this movie, one must see it as an artifact of very early 21st Century life. It should be shown in colleges and history classes across the globe.

Monsturd (2003)

Both Monsturd and Rectuma were released in 2003 and were both seemingly filmed in Butte County, California. So I’m assuming there was some overlap in the productions of these two movies.

I don’t think Monsturd is quite of the same caliber as Rectuma, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. The plot is simple: a gigantic, living turd -created by a mad scientist- terrorizes the citizens of a small community, and it’s up to the sheriff’s department to stop it.

Despite being the lesser of the two films, like peanut butter and chocolate, this goes well with Rectuma.

Deadbeat At Dawn (1988)

I saved the best for last. Outside of one Ouija Board scene, this really isn’t a “horror” film. But I’m glad, that in Tubi’s infinite wisdom, they recommended it.

Filmed on the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio, Deadbeat At Dawn is about one man’s revenge against rival gang members for killing his girlfriend. The final confrontation at a train station is simultaneously amateurish and utterly fucking brutal…and it concludes in the most satisfying way: the bad guy gets his throat ripped out (this was released a year before Road House, btw).

The violence in Deadbeat At Dawn is delightfully absurd, but the highlight of the movie is when, in his darkest hour, our hero goes from getting drunk to snorting coke to shooting up heroin before finally dropping acid. Self-destruction never looked more hilarious.

This is definitely one of the great underrated action films of the 80s.

*******

Hey! You!

Have you ever taken a long, painful shit and didn’t have anything to read? Or have you ever sat in a jail cell overnight (because you had one too many drinks and made a fool of yourself at Applebee’s, of course) and thought “if I only had something strange and unusual to read while I wait to make bail”?

Well this wouldn’t be a problem for you if you’ve ever ordered from Dead Star Press, dummy!

https://deadstarpress.com/shop/

So get the latest from Joseph D. Newcomer and numerous talented authors. And while you’re at it, you can look like a dope motherfucker by purchasing one of these badass T-shirts:

Use my promo code BM5 at checkout to get 5% off your purchase. That’s BM5, as in Beau Montana 5 OR Badass Motherfucker 5.

So get in loser! We’re making the world weird again!

Dead Star Press

Jack hardcock:Christian detective (part iii)

I unlocked the door to 12th story apartment overlooking downtown Cleveland. I threw down my keys and coat then turned on the light.

The local gangster, Gregg Poppovich, was pointing a gun at me. “What do you want with Art McGarth, Jack?” he asked as he lifted a stogie to his mouth.

“I’m investigating his death, Gregg,” I said. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

“Of course not,” he replied, “I just didn’t want you pointing the finger at me.”

“Now why would I want to do something like that?” I asked while I studied him over.

Gregg laughed and put the pistol away in his holster. “I didn’t suppose you did,” he said, “you’re too smart for that.”

“But you must know something. Or else you wouldn’t have broken into my apartment.”

He laughed some more. “Of course,” he said, “that’s why I’m paying you a visit. It’s neither organized crime nor police corruption. There’s a madman loose out there, Jack. I don’t know much more than you, but watch your back.”

“Thanks for your concern, Gregg. But I have the Lord’s protection. Besides, why kill McGarth? He must have had some connections.”

“Not McGarth,” Gregg said, “but the two prostitutes. They’re disappearing all over the city. I’m telling you, Jack, it’s a Jack the Ripper kind of situation.”

“A serial killer?” I laughed, “in a city like Cleveland? Never heard of such a thing.”

“I’m not crazy, Jack. I don’t believe in that silly God of yours, but I do believe in the Devil. And he’s here in this city. So you better watch yourself.”

“I’ll pray on it,” I said, “and I’ll pray for you and your Salvation. May the Lord guide you towards the Light.”

Gregg left and I took a shit. All that scotch and nicotine was running through me. I absolutely destroyed that toilet.

When I walked out of the bathroom, Sally was lying on the bed. “Jesus Christ, Jack!” she said while puffing on a cigarette, “someone light a match!”

I closed the door and loosened my tie. “You shouldn’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” I said. “What are you doing here? I should really change the locks to this place.”

“Just paying you a visit,” she replied while hiking up her skirt to expose her gorgeous legs. “Have you found out anything about Art McGarth? Seeing as we’re both investigating his death.”

“His murder appears to have been collateral damage,” I said. “Other than that, I know nothing.”

“Are you sure?” Sally asked as she unbuttoned her blouse.

“Sally, I don’t know what you’re expecting to happen here. You know I don’t know what to do with a woman. I’ve never had sex!”

“I could show you,” she said as she lowered her shirt to expose her shoulders.

“No thanks,” I replied, “I don’t believe in sex before marriage. Now please leave.”

After she left, I straightened out the bed, loaded one round into the revolver of my .38, spun it, pointed it at my head, and pulled the trigger.

Nothing.

“Thank you, Lord, for always watching out for me,” I prayed. Then I went to bed.

I always sleep better after a game of Russian Roulette.

paris tx

There are few scenes in the history of film that hit me harder than the Super 8 sequence in Paris, Texas.

Rarely do films like this get made. Especially now. Not without a dose of heavy handed social commentary and violence.

That’s not the case with Paris, Texas. It’s subject is simple: one man’s inability to face his problems. All of this juxtaposed against the vast American landscape that’s both empty and crowded…dead and alive. Wim Wenders’ vision of America is embodied by the character Travis, played by the enigmatic Harry Dean Stanton.

The first time I watched this, it was almost like a religious experience. I was 10 or 11 years old and stayed up late while watching cable to see some tities. Fortunately, nothing was on Cinemax so I switched over to HBO. Paris, Texas was playing.

I don’t know why I kept watching it (probably because you see some Aurore Clement side boob), but next thing I know, I was fully engrossed in the story. It was the first movie where, when it ended, I didn’t know what hit me.

It was probably at that moment when it occurred to me: THIS is why people love movies.

Some people hate Paris, Texas. Some say it’s too slow. Some don’t like Travis because he abandoned his family.

I personally like movies that take their time. And if you don’t like Travis’ decisions, it’s not like the movie presents him as mensch.

In fact, Travis…along with his wife Jane…are presented as two VERY troubled people. From the perspective of Travis, he had to leave at the end because he was utterly broken. I would go as far as to say that Travis’ entire existence consists of (unintentionally) ruining people’s lives.

This film is not only about Travis trying to reunite his wife and child (Hunter), but it’s also about ruining the lives of his brother Walt and his wife Anne who took custody of Hunter during his disappearance.

Another heartbreaking scene is when Anne fails to convince Travis and Hunter to return home, and she goes to lie down in Hunter’s bed. Even though Hunter wasn’t her actual son, she was still attached to him. And that’s the last scene Anne is in, never to be mentioned again.

But Wenders’ direction mixes realism with a childlike perspective (which resembles Travis’ emotional state) quite well. So, I think, that permits me to have a pessimistic interpretation of the ending: there was no way that Jane would maintain custody of Hunter, and Hunter would return to Walt and Anne with a better sense of his “real” family, which would likely cause further damage to everyone involved. Meanwhile, Travis, once again, ran away from it all.

Is my interpretation correct? I dunno. But that’s how art works.

So do yourself a favor: stay up late one night and watch Paris, Texas.

mr. bright side

As we settle into the Cold War II and the ever present threat of nuclear war, it’s time to look at the silver lining: we might get better movies.

One thing I miss from the first Cold War is character study films of the 1970s. They should make more movies that look into the depraved lives of ordinary people in an uncritical manner. I’m sure they still make em but they’re probably shit.

Jack Nicholson was the king of these movies back in the day. Perhaps the best example being Five Easy Pieces.

I’ve decided to get back to my roots and start building up my Criterion Collection. So I recently purchased Five Easy Pieces along with Paris, Texas (The only time I saw Paris, Texas when I stayed up late and watched HBO when I was 10 years old. It blew me the fuck away. I had a weird childhood).

When you have a toddler running around that gets PISSED if you watch anything other than Blippi, it’s hard to find time to watch these movies. But I got far enough into Five Easy Pieces to watch one of my favorite scenes in film history: Sally Strothers’ random heartbreaking monologue on being forsaken by God.

The essay pamphlet that accompanies the Five Easy Pieces blu ray is pretty good. Apparently this early 70s state of being, where everyone’s fucked-upness was a given…and people talked while others listened…is an existence that’s no longer.

So it’s refreshing to look back at a time that was no less deranged, but far less judgmental.