If you’re reading this that means I am still, in fact, alive. I haven’t posted much in the last month because November(1) but I have been reading some good stuff or rather more accurately what I’ve read has been about as good as a bag of mix nuts: about half the total are peanuts and the rest are unique and really nice. If The Bootlegger was a pedestrian peanut (I’ll be fair, it was consistently good but nothing exciting or surprising), The Rum Diary was a strange shaped and richly flavoured Brazil nut.
The Rum Diary’s narrative focuses on a young American journalist, Paul Kemp, on assignment in Puerto Rico’s capital city San Juan. Kemp is worried, or in a martyr type way, romanticizes, about the notion of being “over the hill” whilst living a wet and transient existence traveling the world over as a “vagrant journalist”.
[Vagrant journalists] were professionally deviant, but they had a few things in common. They depended, mostly from habit, on newspapers and magazines for the bulk of their income; their lives were geared to long chances and sudden movement; and they claimed no allegiance to any flag and valued no currency but luck and good contacts.
The book opens with some background to the narrative, outlining the steady success of an ex-jockey named named Al who opened a bar out of his backyard called (wait for it…) “Al’s Backyard”.
“At first he served nothing but beer, at twenty cents a bottle, and rum, at a dime a shot or fifteen cents with ice. After several months he began serving hamburgers, which he made himself.
Al’s backyard will serve as one of the main stages for the drama of the news staff to unfold as it serves as a place for, as it seems, almost exclusively the cast of characters working at the Daily News, the American news paper. Having the introduction chapter outline the humble history of this establishment, one which was there before the characters and maybe also before the Daily News, helps to establish a couple of themes which become prominent through the story: the primary theme being one of establishing the sense that despite the characters feelings, they and their actions are ultimately insignificant because the world they’re operating in is older and better connected then they are and the more subtle theme that authentic work is much less likely to get you beaten, killed, or become an accessory to murder.
As I’ve mentioned there are many motifs that could be explored in this novel, one of particular interest to me is the relationship of the dog, the character Moberg, and the Puerto Rican children in the narrative, but what stuck with me was the dynamic between Yeamon, Kemp, and Sala.
All manner of men came to work for the News: everything from wild young Turks who wanted to rip the world in half and star all over again — to tired, beer-bellied old hacks who wanted nothing more than to live our their days in peace before a bunch of lunatics ripped the world in half.
Yeamon is the young Turk whilst Sala is the beer-bellied hack which leaves Kemp in a grey “teetering on the edge of over the hill” area thematically and literally, being between the ages of the young Yeamon and the over 40 Sala.
This is an interesting technique of building Kemp’s character by contrasting him with two other characters who represent a possible past and a possible future. This definition by contrast emphasizes Kemp’s journey of self exploration which gives a cathartic context of absolution to a seemingly unusual scene towards the end of the book depicting Kemp throwing him self into the surf and letting himself be washed ashore.
“The surf was high and I felt a combination of fear and eagerness as I took off my clothes and walked towards it. In the backlash of a huge wave I plunged in and let it suck me out to sea. Moments later I was hurtling back toward the beach on top of a long white breaker that carried me along like a torpedo. Then it spun me around like a dead fish and slammed me on the sand so hard that my back was raw for days afterwards.” 192-3
The significance of this scene seems to be that Kemp desires to transcend the trappings of an idealized past and seeming inevitability of beer fueled burn out via an impromptu performance of a cleansing ritual traditionally preformed in June called “La Noche de San Juan”
On the island of Puerto Rico, which had been named San Juan Bautista, after the saint, by Christopher Columbus, a night-long celebration, called “La Noche de San Juan” is held. After sunset, people travel to a beach or any accessible body of water (e.g. river, lake or even bathtub) and, at midnight, fall backwards into it three, seven or twelve times. This is done to cleanse the body from bad luck and give good luck for the following year. wiki
There’s so much more to this book that I haven’t time to explore but I implore you to get a copy of The Rum Diary and see what speaks to you.
Life has been very good but busy for me and I am not sure if I can commit to a regular posting schedule for a while. I’m in the process of moving and my job in in a transitional period also (both improvements) but because of this, I haven’t had much time left over for non-work/non-home stuff. The next post will be a comic, maybe the next few honestly.
Remember the girl holding Fin’s hand in the Friday the 13th Special? Let me present the newest character in the cast: Lady Sugar Skull – sweet as she is strange but no less deadly. I have a story arc staring her and Fin in one of the dark and secretive corners of the OBOP multiverse coming up in a few months. I’m going somewhere with the “Count Rubber’s Keep” arc (I’m assured by the voice in my head that gives me all my ideas), which will tie into the next story arc (which I’m keeping under golden-flaky layers [hint] because spoilers) which will have a rather grim [hint] and dramatic climax leading directly into the Lady Sugar Skull arc. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen after the Lady Sugar Skull arc but I do know Fin won’t be quite the same afterwards.
Hope everyone who has date night tonight doesn’t encounter commutation mishaps unless they’re awkward AND funny.
My Monday posting will be tentative because I’m getting some stuff sorted out around the hose and I’m trying to get some personal shit. Nothing overly exciting but it’s been time exhausting. No complaints but nothing to write about either. I’m about to finish The Rum Diary by the last great hero in American Journalism Hunter S Thompson and I believe that will be the next book I write about. The novel has hit a lot of personal chords and I feel like I’ll have some interesting things to say about it. I have also been listening to Streetlight Manifesto’s album The Hands that Thieve on near constant repeat the last few weeks and I may write something about that one of these Mondays as it’s a piece that has similarly captured a particular zeitgeist in my life that should has been the ticket for some entertaining trains of thought.
Will be back eventually (probably “somewhat sooner” than “way later”),
Soz I haven’t posted in a bit. Life has been intense the last couple of weeks and on top of it I have sensed going into year 2 that OBOP has a little bit lost direction and as I’ve mentioned before, I do not have the time nor energy to keep producing 3.5 posts a week and a drawing on top of my new job and everything else.
I will write more about the changes in a later post but what I can say is that the schedule will revert back to twice a week (usually) keeping Mystery Monday and Funny Friday. The focus of Monday’s Mystery will be more closely related to something literary or linguistic (but this still allows for the flexibility of writing about music and non-book literature because it’s still gotta be mysterious, yo!) and Funny Fridays will continue on mostly as usual but with a stronger canonical/continuing story line. I plan to make a new section, since the comics fall into two catagories: “typical Funny Friday comic” non-canonical/for the pun and “The Adventures of Fin and Louie” canonical/forwarding the story.
Anyway today’s comic was inspired by my galpal who has this phrase she uses for when you like finish someone’s thought or know what they’re thinking before they do, “…like thoughts falling from the sky” which because my brain is strange and scary place I immediately thought about how terrifying that could be if the thoughts were rain drops and the brains were heavy clouds it’d make a…Brainstorm
Sorry for the late posting. Monday was a struggle after a busy holiday weekend, Tuesday was busy with work, but here I am today bright eyed and bushy eyebrows!
Welcome to my first installment of the experimental series of profiles on rising St Louis stars and artisans. This week we’re featuring the equally talented and beautiful Lucien Storm. Without further ado, let me introduce this weeks guest:
Lucien Storm greets me at the door of his home, located in Ferguson, a small city inside St Louis North County. Storm stands tall, or at least tall to me, with out a sense of inflation, “Welcome to Storm’s Hollow”.
Entering Storm’s Hollow is an experience I won’t soon forget, the anteroom serves as a hub for the rest of the labyrinthine. A mural of a tree climbs up the right angled stairs, straight ahead through a door frame I can see a table which appears to have a gigantic body shrouded laying on top, however despite my curiosity and anxiety (both stemming from a mounting sense of excitement) Lucien directs me to the left through a door way into a room straight out of my dreams: book shelves (filled with books and just books) from floor to ceiling, a fireplace, exposed ceiling allowing the century old wood to show off how well it’s aged, a Ouija board and some faux candles “float” (fishing line from the ceiling) above a coffee table which sat in between two lush period appropriate wooden chairs the style where the apolstery is attached by patina penny coloured studs. Storm’s Hollow is one of most home feeling places I’ve ever entered, which as Mr. Storm explains to me is the purpose of his Hollow: a safe place for friends, family, and community.
“Storm’s Hollow is our home, but isn’t just a home. It’s a space for crafting, hosting, a community center for the pagan/alternative community, and fire and burlesque performance troupes.” Mr Storm explain. The primary fire and burlesque troupe that takes refuge in Storm’s Hollow is a cooperative called Hidden Flame. Hidden Flame will be performing at the Lantern Festival 4th and 5th of November in Eureka MO.
However Storm’s Hollow is more than just a community center and gathering place for makers and performers. Lucien Storm shared with me a glimpse into the future of his vision, something I’m calling “Storm’s Hollow 2.0”, “What I would like to eventually expand into is building an earthship home (an eco-home built into the earth from re and up cycled products).” From there he plans to expand into offering classes to other people seeking to build their own earthship and learn more ecological living, and then long term he would like to build an eco-friendly community of earthships somewhere near the St Louis area.
Tune in Friday for the weekly funny! This week is inspired by my mystery guest from Friday the 13th comic…
Happy Halloween from us at Offbeat Onpoint! Have a safe and wonderful holiday.
I’m making a Halloween present for my favourite little dude. What do you think? I’m pretty happy with how the wooden handle texture looks on the axe personally but what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below or share if you liked.
FYI I will be taking Monday off but I will be posting my first St Louis Shines interview with an incredibly interesting and entertaining man, Lucian Storm. Check back in on Halloween for the full interview.
Sometimes I get ideas. Some are kinda strange whilst others are largely ambitious (okay, MOST of my ideas are largely ambitious) and sometimes I get ideas as if they were placed in my head rather than being an original idea of my own, when this happens my friend likes to say that “thoughts are falling from the sky”. I had one of these ideas a few months ago, it was a few episode pitches for the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. For those of you who are not aware of the premise of this 12 season behemoth (how?) it can be summed up in one sentence “What if you had 4 immature narcissist sociopaths own and run a bar in Philadelphia.” The results are, as those who are familiar with the show, hilarious and extremely not safe for work.
What’s to follow is probably the most vulgar and/or NSFW content I’ve posted here on OBOP but I just finished my 12th notebook(1) and looking back I ran across these and realised that with my experience with screenwriting (none) and experience level (I don’t wanna talk about it) that I’ve probably exhausted my ability to see these ideas to fruition. However the reason I’m sharing these ideas is because I really hope that someone steals these ideas and makes these episodes happen. Probably won’t work out that way, but these made me laugh.
**WARNING: NSFW CONTENT BELOW**
Lost? Catch up on the story so far with these comics:
I plan to rework the site a bit soon to reflect the changes in posting schedules and frequencies which will include a central location for The Adventures of Fin and Louie. I’ll probably title it some thing kinda stupidly self-referential like “The story so far…”
Tune in Monday for the weekly Mystery!
I hope everyone had as good of a holiday weekend as I had (I consider Friday the 13th to to be a holiday and a decidedly not-unlucky day). After a weekend full of psychobilly and general excitement, I figured given that something equally creepy would be in good style. I have been reading The Bootlegger by John E. Hallwas and had ambitious plans to have it finished by Thursday last week and be ready to review today…however as it’s a good book (BONUS MINI BOOK PREVIEW) it’s about as dry as a wrung rag: it’s not dripping with excitement but it’ll do. What was also adding to the lack of dampness were the other 3 books I was nibbling on the side, Storm Front being one(1) that, like the other books I’ve read in the Dresden Files series have been, ends up being too good to just nibble on(2) (I seriously feel like trying to nurse a Dresden Files novel is like, for me, trying to eat a soft oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, my favourite cookie for anyone taking notes, in no less than 200 bites: I’m not a strong enough man for that).
(NOTE: My friend Brad Evans, same guy who originally recommended the Dresden Files to me in the first place, wrote a great post on the graphic novel omnibus that covers the first three books of the Dresden Files (including Storm Front, obv) which can be read here: “spoiler free book review dresden files graphic novel omnibus one”)
Storm Front begins the Dresden Files, a hard boiled detective noir style story series, which follows a fellow who’s yellow pages advert reads:
Harry Dresden – Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable rates. No Love potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
The series falls squarely in the urban fantasy sub genre being set in an okay middle American city called Chicago(3), which this series as a whole plays as an interesting counter part to a similar series (also urban fantasy, also a detective/action series) I read called Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter which is set in St Louis which I may revisit at some point.
The novel opens as one would expect a detective noir story to open: “Hard Luck Harry” sitting in his office killing time whilst waiting for work to come in when something disrupts his waiting
“I heard the mailman approach my office door, half an hour earlier than usual.”
-Storm Front, 1
Which sets an interesting president for use of common tropes for the rest of the novel which, despite how that sounds, is a really “good-interesting” thing.
I do like to complain about over used tropes in books(4) mostly because the fact that a motif becomes a trope is because it works however for it to continue to work in an interesting manour one has to make interesting use of said trope(5) and that’s something Butcher excels with in this first book.
Storm Front follows the format of a good detective novel: the A-story explores Harry Dresden’s “day life” as a consultant to the CPD Special Investigations unit investigating the mysterious and brutal death of a couple whilst the B-story explores Harry’s “night life” as a private eye on the case of a missing husband. The character line up is classically balanced with a “good cop, bad cop” duo, a few femme fatales, and a healthy number of potential threats and suspects that intertwine both the A and B stories.
I cannot recommend this book enough, nor can I write much more without spoilers, so with that if you haven’t read this book or any Dresden Files book (they are all in a continuous story line but each book works pretty well standing alone) I encourage you to to treat your self to an excellent read.
Tune in Friday continuing The Adventures of Fin and Louie.
As I mentioned earlier this week there are some really excellent bands putting on shows this weekend and in celebration of Friday the 13th I made a comic for the band playing tonight with an extra surprise…
If you see me out tonight or tomorrow night, feel free to say “hi” (it’d help if you explained where you recognise me from, just sayin’).
Tune in Monday for the weekly Mystery (I think it might be a book review, but there’s the mystery: WHAT BOOK?!)