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.
The dentistry profession has come a long way since I last had work done. The new trend is to show movies to patients under the drill. Not unlike inflight entertainment, the viewing selections are all somewhere between populist and benign. Does it matter if I watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop two before one?
The anxiety of having my old fillings fixed aside, a different type of anesthetized panic set in when I was shown my viewing options. Was I going to have to watch Pixels (2015) or computer-generated Smurfs flit about the screen while my molars got filled with resin? Cringing at the prospects, I spotted an escape, a title called “TV Cartoon Classics.” “I’ll take that,” I told the dental tech.
The tech stared at the card for an uncertain second and shuffled off. When she returned, she explained that she was unaware that they even had it. “TV Cartoon Classics”, I figured, was no doubt a bunch of public domain cartoons like Herman the Mouse. Over two separate weeks, and two separate visits, I watched all Max Fleischer’s Gabby cartoons (and a couple Hermans).
First appearing as the town crier in the 1939 feature Gulliver’s Travels, between 1940 and 1941 Gabby was given to Fleischer by Paramount to direct1. The odd reference to the Lilliputians aside, the Gabby series has little to do with Swift’s satire, with each cartoon following Gabby, a wisearce with a taste for wise apples, who gets involved in various jobs and activities which he claims to be an expert and proceeds to bungle.
In Fire Cheese (1941), where Gabby becomes a firefighter, flames dance on buildings, blow blazes into each others’ mouths, and lick up the walls in hot ladders. Gabby, meanwhile, proves to be about as useful as Keith Flint giving pointers to Adele. Two for the Zoo (1941), my personal favorite, has Gabby claiming to be an authority on the fictional rubberneck kango, an animal that is a melange of kangaroo, giraffe, and elephant. By the cartoon’s conclusion, Gabby is locked in a cage as potential lion food.
Besides dentists’ offices, a complete Gabby cartoon can also be watched in the first-person shooter video game The Darkness released in 2007. I’m not familiar with the game, but I like to think that Gabby is a favorite of the figure featured on the game’s cover art, a standin for The Downdward Spiral-era Trent Reznor2. I’m guessing, however, Gabby’s occurrence in the game has more to do with irony, entropy, and that which is anachronistic.
In this light, it is probably no great shock that the Gabby animations are all but forgotten. The cartoon is perhaps too quaint and European in its sensibilities. Yet Gabby’s character is relatable and humorous enough; equally the cartoon’s sophisticated animation still shines through the faded public domain prints widely available today. Given the choice between it and the mediocrity of the Paul Blarts of the world, I’d still take Gabby. Hell, I’d take it over The Darkness, too.
In 1955 Gabby was sold to U.M. & M. TV Corporation, which later became National Telefilm Associates, the logo of which appears at the front of many of the available versions of the cartoon today. Later the cartoon would ironically return to Paramount when it was sold to Viacom, the multinational media conglomerate, which today owns Paramount. While Gabby can be purchased on DVD, the cartoons are now in the public domain. ↩
This is a missed opportunity: it should have been a Keith Flint double on the cover. ↩
Kaneda and the Capsules arrive at a run down movie theatre hoping to score Valerian, only to discover that Valerian is a sci-fi flick. When they show up, it is debatable if one of them was aware of this and maybe wanted to actually see the movie. Heckling ensues, which quickly boils over into harassment of other theatre patrons and eventually edges into flatout violence and mayhem. This spectral visitant of Akria (1988) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) keeps rattling in my head. It may well be heresy to fantasize about the anime classic and the hot mess of Valerian in this way, but it’s been hard to shake.
Besson’s Valerian stands as the most expensive French film ever made, costing around $150 million. Its premise follows a McLuhan-like global village that harbors an atrocity at its heart which must be atoned for. Sin and redemption along with some of the more interesting facets of the film, like Rihanna’s Bubble, get lost in the pastel shit-show. My wife likened the movie to an advertisement for a douche… in space, flowery, still a douche, and utterly pointless. Alien princesses pirouetting by vagina conch shells… a lot of the conversation surrounding Valerian has proceeded in these cheeky terms.
No doubt Valerian is destined to provide comic fodder for some time to come, but it is worth remarking on the connections between it and Akira. The films each find roots in comic books that are not of the superhero variety. Though I’ve yet to read Valerian, I imagine that like Akira, the comic is best considered as a separate text rather than an adaptation. Each also stands out in its contemporary big-budget cinematic landscape: Valerian for its euro-trash splash and Akira for its techno-phantasmagoria. Most of all, neither makes a whole lot of sense. In both the plot is obscured: for Valerian it’s all a high kamp kick with Cara Delevingne’s Sergeant Laureline never bothering to break runway strut, while for Akira it’s almost with a relish, a nod to the punk ethos of its Capsules, who in the face of conformity, conspiracy, and corporate-militarism continue to exert their identies and could really give two flying fucks about plot.
Ritual, art, membership to a cabal of manly-men-boxing-fools in a brew pub — these have never been associations I’ve had with shaving. As Tim has already indicated, our dad gave us a pretty abridged shaving tutorial. Along with scant demonstration, he may have mentioned, “Try not to kill yourself.” Whether he did or did not impart this final kernel of wisdom, there was no follow-up lesson or even a check-in to see if we had garroted ourselves.
As a result, for pretty much all of my shaving-life, I have half-shaved at best. My father’s lack of teaching surely contributed to this, but so did the milieu of the ’90s. In the social circles I traveled then, there was no stigma associated with whatever you decided to do with your facial hair. By the end of the ’90s and the early ’00s, I was shaving maybe once a week. Eventually I found a decent beard trimmer and with it, my shaving became more erratic. Sometimes I had a beard, sometimes I had a shadow, sometimes I was clean shaven, sometimes I had an experimental look, but most of the time I had some amount of hair on my face. This was largely because in those instances when I was clean shaven, I would never continue to do so beyond a couple days because I’d either forget to keep up with it or I got razor rash.
Still, I do razor shave on occasion, and when I do, for nearly two decades it has been with a Mach3. As Tim has also duly noted, the Mach3 is really the bane of shaving. After it materialized in 1998, the facial hair horizon was forever leveled. It is as if no other razor had ever existed since or after. With it, razor cartridges were to forever be things that existed behind locked glass, and the only thing better than three blades was more blades.
About a year and a half ago, I decided to razor shave; accordingly I dug out my Mach3. Problematically, I had no idea which blades were old, new, or rusted. Because I don’t razor shave that often, this frequently happens to me, and when it does I inevitably just go out and buy all new blades. This time, however, out of spite for the Mach3, I decided to explore other options. This eventually led me to buying a safety razor. While this does potentially mark me as a hipster, after reading up on them, I decided that I shaved infrequently enough to invest in something as arcane as it was asinine.
Far too many years ago I started drawing a comic called MIFC and in a flurry of distraction and too much other shit going on lost track of it. This morning, while shirking work and listening to Kraftwerk and Monomer, I decided to start reposting it.
I have a folder on my desktop called “Write,” which for some time has become a repository for items I feel an inclination to return to.
In January, I started sifting through it. The 5 Stooges meet Frank Perdue was one document I found; a document I won’t be returning too ever again – that one’s on me Hollywood. The folder also has a bunch of pictures, some old, some new, half written poems, gifs of my dogs, a transcript of an off-color conversation between a friend and myself about starting a fanfiction podcast, a year old promo video for Goblin1, meditations on coffee, and a folder with MIFC comics in it.
MIFC is a multi-storyline comic set in the ’90s in Salisbury, Maryland. If the comic does continue, I’m sure Ocean City will make an appearance too.
Before leaving you with the first installment of MIFC, a friend of mine over at Theology Girl started blogging again. Her stuff is always humorously philosophical; if that is in your wheelhouse, be sure to visit her site. Also, I’ve submitted H.P. Thomcraft’s Game of Pawns to a couple of festivals (9 so far). Some I’ve never heard of, some I have. If anyone has any other suggestions of fests to check out, let me know. I like existential challenges.
In jail, wearing a policeman’s hat and slouching against the bars of the cell, his face – a man-child’s written with petulance, frustration, and defeat – is streaked with dirt and the remnants of blubbering. He’s absurd, cartoonish, but also ironic; the recent turn of events that have landed him in prison must be weighing on him. He had been offered to join the force after he saved a young girl from drowning, even though he had always been courageously reluctant. That helpful push into the lake from his fickle lover was really at the root of why he dove into being a hero.
“No matter how ironic a mullet is, it’s still a fucking mullet,” said my brother as the credits rolled for The Cabin in the Woods (2011), directed by Drew Goddard. And he is right, for The Cabin in the Woods is still just a horror movie that fails to come into its own because it gets buried under its own statement.
Co-written and produced by Josh Whedon, the film follows a group of friends who vacation for a weekend at a cabin in the woods. With more than a nod to the Evil Dead (1981), directed by Sam Raimi, the movie follows a group of friends who soon find themselves attacked by zombie-like creatures. The twist is that the zombies and evil dead are actually part of a larger conspiracy that designs conventional horror movie death-traps for the younger generation.