ELEVEN ELECTRIC LIES, cover illustration by the author
Before we continue with the current serial, I’d like to mention that my latest round-up of stories is available in a new printed edition, available today via the presses of Lulu. If you still like books, or know somebody else who still likes books, or just like supporting independent publishing by putting money in the pockets of the artists you enjoy, please consider ordering a copy or two of Eleven Electric Lies: Collected Stories Volume III.
Meanwhile, here’s the third installment of The Seventh Rule…
Without needless preamble, here is the second installment of my freshest serial, delivered in seven short parts: The Seventh Rule...
The Seventh Rule, a web serial by Cheeseburger Brown; illustration by the author
Today we begin new a piece, The Seventh Rule, a serialized story delivered in seven short parts.
In a break from my usual method of electronic publishing, the complete story will be available on my main site and in various eBook-friendly formats only after the last chapter has gone live via blogging/RSS. In part this is because reader Anders Hovmöller has generously created a python script that automatically discovers and converts new stories posted to my main site and I don’t want to foul the process by posting incomplete works; mostly, however, this is because formatting all the HTML pages for a chapter-by-chapter delivery is a nuissance because, unlike most denizens of the twenty-first century, I still code my pages by hand.
While we’re chatting, I should probably also mention that I’ve been invited to appear as a guest at the Toronto Comic Con, March 18 – 20, at the Direct Energy Centre. Special thanks go to Stephen Shamus for making this happen. If you’re geographically proximate I hope you’ll consider dropping by to say hello, or to offer vicious spit-flecked criticism, or whatever.
And now, without further ado, the first installment of The Seventh Rule…
Against all previous precedent I’d like to present a product review.
This is not a paid review. It’s not even a particularly competent review. But if you’re at all interested in what might possess an otherwise sane person to buy into a ridiculous and expensive electronics fad and then live with it for six months, read on.
Let me tell you about this:
Laird Drive straddled the border between districts. To the east were houses, and to the west were the square grey mountains of abandoned factories falling slowly to ruin. Laird had once been a major thoroughfare but became a byway back when town was subsumed by city, long before I was born.
In a middling-decrepit upstairs commercial space overlooking this demoted drive was the Dick Jones School of Art. I attended the institution twice weekly from pre-pubescence until university.
An art gallery opening is not an event that includes the opening of an art gallery.*
* This is a purposeful trick to keep the uninitiated baffled. Using familiar English words against their meaning is a tool characteristic of both totalitarianism and artsy pretention alike. Consider:
“I attended a gallery opening last night.”
“Oh? Where’s the new gallery?”
“Tell me, darling: is this innocence of yours confined to the purely visual arts, or do you also clap between movements?”
Instead, an art gallery opening is the launch of a new exhibit within a previously established gallery.**
** I don’t know what they say when they actually do want to open a brand-new exhibition space for reals, but I would expect the term to be misleading. In art, language is used to obfuscate rather than reveal. Consider:
“What are these seemingly random brush strokes with bits of rubbish glued over them supposed to mean?”
“Let yourself deinculcate; Fluxus escapes the fixity of ‘meaning.”
It is categorically impossible to discuss the subject of television consumption without sounding like a dick.
Let’s have that understood from the start.
Even the gentlest of opinions can come off sounding like arrogant pronouncements. Even the most sensitive framing can strike some people as if it were the foaming screed from a self-righteous vegetarian or fitness enthusiast or Biblical literalist: holier than thou.
So let’s you and I be understood on this and related points now, at the outset, and spare ourselves confusion or accusations later on. 1) I’m really not as much of a dick as talking about television might make me seem; and 2) it is not my contention that I am particularly holier than anyone. Not even you. Thou. Whatever.
With that said, our subject today is the ongoing consumption of television as a lifestyle choice. That is, weighing the value of frequent and regular television watching rather than the value of any particular piece of specific programming. This is about flow, not show.
Our exploration of such will be somewhat meandering but roughly sectioned as follows: history and definitions of the medium, my rationale for rejecting the medium, and finally the personal and social consequences of that rejection.
If that sounds too dry and academic for your reading tastes, please consider that I promise to throw in a few fart jokes here and there to keep things lively.
I have writer’s block, so I’m just going to tell you some random stories from life in order to keep myself limber in the event that my muse one day returns. Ready? Today’s theme concerns moments of intersection between vice and innocence.
Sometimes Pepsi lurks where you least suspect it.
Certainly, one can expect a modicum of Pepsi to find its way into convenience store coolers and the bellies of vending robots. To be sure, it is no surprise to have it offered as an apologetic substitution after having ordered Coca-Cola in a restaurant. Pepsi’s blue banners can be seen ballyhooing their sponsorship of everything from cricket matches to university dining halls.
But in my life I have also seen Pepsi positioned as pay, as payola, and even as a possible font of propaganda and dubious dietary science in its latest attempt to reach the new generation — this time by hijacking a trusted corner of the blogging world.
I, journeyman, await the judgment of the guild. Am I master or fool?
The dogs prowl the perimeter. I pour a glass of rye. I check my watch again: how many hours removed is the west coast? If I’m sitting in a stationary building on Thursday in spring during a waxing moon, am I two hours ahead or three? Are we saving the daylight now, or were we doing it last winter? What is the relative velocity of California?
* * *
My skill is zed.
Our guild has no formal body, only a loose association of masters. There is no crest or seal or fundraising jamboree. If I pass my journeymanship I will gain no additional letters after my name. There is no recognition but trust.
But that’s worth something. Because zed is hot, my friend, very very hot. Zed is putting gas in my car, and oatmeal in my children. Zed pays the tax man. Zed helps me get ahead.
Why hasn’t my thigh rung? It’s almost nine.
They can put a man on Pandora but they can’t call me back on time.
I mean, shit.