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Hollywood Fictions: Horace McCoy’s I Should Have Stayed Home

Midway through Horace McCoy’s[^1] 1938 Hollywood novel I Should Have Stayed Home, the novel’s protagonist Ralph Carston, a naïve Southerner, movie extra and aspiring Hollywood star, wakens to find a total stranger standing by his davenport. The man, who is still sobering up from a bender the previous evening, is Johnny Hill. Hill explains his drunkenness as the result of his celebration the evening prior having quit his job at Universal where he was a publicity agent. He then proceeds to provide a rather befuddled Carston with the evidence, which he reads from a movie column published from “that great reactionary journal” (McCoy 59) the Los Angeles Times.

‘The German Consul, incensed at the final scenes in The Road Back’ – that’s one of our big pictures – ‘incensed at the final scenes of The Road Back, showing German youngsters being drilled as soldiers, has induced Universal to revise the film’s ending. At the same time the studio will try to work in some more love interest.’ He took a few more sips of his coffee, looking at me. “That’s why I quit,” he said. “Wouldn’t you?” (59)

When Carston says he doesn’t understand why Hill quit, Hill elaborates that Hitler is brewing up another war, and because The Road Back insinuates as much, the German Consul has got his “bowels in an uproar” (59). Ironically however, Hill clarifies that it isn’t the politics of the situation he’s upset about but rather that the studio has let the German Consul “…tell ’em where to get off…none of these studios’ve any guts. They’re all yellow.” (59)

I Should Have Stayed Home (1938), by Horace McCoy
I Should Have Stayed Home (1938), by Horace McCoy

The conversation is cut short with the entrance of Mona Matthews, Carston’s roommate, who reveals she is the reason that Hill is there, having brought him home with her after a party the night before. As Carston gropes to understand Hill, Matthews humors him, already having heard his story twenty times; but for both characters in Hill’s world, politics and a righteous sense of artistic integrity are alien. Carston and Matthews are instead focused on the minutia of their situations and the realities of their own day-to-day existences of making ends meet, paying rent and surviving in Hollywood.

Continue reading Hollywood Fictions: Horace McCoy’s I Should Have Stayed Home

The Child in the Shopping Cart

It was one thing to become separated from a parent, but to be forgotten and closed in, that – that was another thing entirely.

To be left alone in a store…

Trapped in that abominable shopping cart – it is impossible to articulate the terror that wracked my sensitive child’s mind. Would my parent ever come back? Would I be locked away forever with the doors shuttered? Did the mannequins come to life like in the movies and children’s television TV shows? How would I know if they were friends or foes? Their blank faces had no answers; they only served as canvases mirroring my fears.

Of course, much to my relief, my parent came back.

The years passed and with them came adulthood. Yet, I could never shake the fear of being left alone in the store. My parents grew old and frail, and as their mortalities faded into death, this nightmare procured greater possession of my conscious.

And so a paralytic realization crept from dreaming to waking; I realized I had actually been left, but not by my parents – for they had been left too. We had all been deserted in a dying world. What I had apprehended, that they had not, was this very fact. More alarming was the realization that this fate was one that I could not forsake.

For I am still the child in the shopping cart.

My name is Monmouth West Sanderson. This is my tale.

Thom Yorke in a cart.
Thom Yorke in a cart.
A small Jarvis Cocker in cart.
A small Jarvis Cocker in cart.
Thom isn’t as small as Jarvis, but he can make his body quite compact when he wants to.
Thom isn’t as small as Jarvis, but he can make his body quite compact when he wants to.

Media as Translators

Translation, “How dare I get off Facebook.”

But there is this difference, that previous technologies were partial and fragmentary, and the electric is total and inclusive. And external consensus or conscience is now as necessary as private consciousness (McLuhan 86).
McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Edited by Terrence Gordon, Gingko Press, 2015.
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan

Film of ’17 & Happy ’18

This is not a top # list of movies for ’17, but my favorite recent film that I saw on the big screen (it’s flaws aside) was Colossal (which actually came out in ’16). The best viewing experience I had was seeing Vagabond on 35mm during the Olympia Film Festival. The best movie I took a photograph of while watching was Eyes Wide Shut. I hate dissolves as transitions, but I’m rethinking them now (the picture I took is below). The worst movie I saw was Valerian. Though, it was entertaining in an awful way. That translates to the possibility of me still buying it on Blu-ray and using it as a TV screensaver. You can read my reviews of Colossal and Valerian right here on Protozoic. Happy ’18.

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and a Dissolve
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and a Dissolve

Hazy Skies

Because of the forest fires on OR and WA, the light outside at 1:03 PM on 9.5.17 has an unnerving golden tone to it. It’s not apparent from the photo, but seeing it with my eyes, it feels far more ominous and alien than the eclipse.

Hazy Skies
Hazy Skies

Beef Stew with a Bite

The key to Beef Stew with a Bite is good bone beef broth. You can use the cheap stuff, but either making it yourself or coughing up some money to your local artisan broth maker results in a rich and most excellent stew. Pepper wise, you can use whatever you want, but I prefer 1 habanero1. This stew does bite, but it won’t offend most people. Additionally, if you aren’t feeding 6 people and are planning on freezing meals, the heat and flavors mellow over time; time is a secret ingredient. Let your stew mellow, man. If you want to dial it up, add 2 habaneros for Beef Stew that Punches You in the Mouth.


  • 2 to 3lbs. of beef chuck
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • 1 tablespoons of oil if needed
  • .25 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 large onion or 2 small chopped onions
  • 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 habanero diced (I leave the seeds in)
  • 1.5 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 cups beef bone broth
  • 1 to 2 cups of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • .5 teaspoon of dried thyme (about 1.5 teaspoons if fresh)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 4 large carrots cut into diagonal pieces
  • Rice or potatoes (to serve stew over)


  1. Dice the bacon into .5 inch pieces, and on a medium heat, fry it in a large soup pot or dutch oven until crisp. If the bacon is particularly lean, use a tablespoon or so of oil. Though it is less healthy than olive oil, I prefer vegetable oil for stew. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it and set it aside.

  2. Cut the beef chuck into 1 inch cubes. To taste, add the salt and pepper to the cubes and massage in. In small batches brown the beef, remove, and set aside. When browning the beef, try not to let the individual pieces touch each other. This step takes a bit of time, but it is worth doing right.

  3. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, habanero, and onion to the leftover beef juices and bacon grease in the pot. While stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, cook the mix until the onions start to turn clear or for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or 2 while stirring.

  4. Add the beef and sprinkle it with flour, stirring it until all the flour is absorbed.

  5. Add enough beef bone broth and water until the meat is covered. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and sugar.

  6. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on a low heat.

  7. Add carrots and cook for another hour.

  8. If you like your stew a bit more thick, make a slurry with corn starch or flour and add it to the stew.

  9. Serve over rice or potatoes.

And don’t forget, “Let it mellow, man.”

  1. While I like jalapeños and serranos, they result in a stew that is a shade greener in flavor.