Uh-oh, he's ranting.

Fire engines have been roaring all night, the louder the better. The roar helps scoot cars out of the way, so it's a good roar and I wouldn't complain, except holy crap. It's like the 1906 quake happened an hour ago. Is the whole city ablaze? Fire trucks have shaken my street seven times this morning and the sun isn’t even up yet.

Uh-oh, he’s ranting.

If the window was closed I could’ve slept all night, but the window must never be closed. That’s one of the annoying idiosyncrasies of this tiny room in the rez hotel. It’s an old building, with water radiators for heat, and I always have my radiator off because who needs heat? The hot-water pipes for all the building’s radiators are in one of my walls, and you’d be uncomfortable leaning on that wall. It's literally warm to the touch, and it keeps the room hot enough to roast this turkey — me — when the window isn’t open, so the window is almost always open. Even when the Blue Angels made me close the window last weekend, it could only stay closed for half an hour before the room became unbearably hot and humid. If I'd closed the window this morning to blot out the fire trucks, I still couldn’t have slept — the room would be a sweaty steambath.

Still, this rez hotel is better than my previous rez hotel, where the window had been painted shut in the 1930s and wouldn’t budge, and ugly crack whores rented rooms by the hour, and you’d see used hypodermics floating in the communal john, and the rats chewed into any food that wasn’t canned, and insane tenants screamed at imaginary enemies, and the landlord spoke maybe ten words of English and four of them were “don’t give a damn.” One day maybe I’ll tell you about that place.

♦ ♦ ♦

a while back I read a good review of a zine called chaos, so i sent pathetic life in trade for a sample copy. when chaos came, i liked it. it was a nice stream-of-consciousness read with playful punctuation — no capital letters allowed. well-written, though, so i sent the next two issues of my zine to keep the trade going.

got another chaos a few days a
go, and it baffled me when i o
pened it, so i put the zine as
ide and waited for a better mo
od. this morning, in the oppos
ite of a better mood, i sprawl
ed out on the bed and tried re
ading it again, and it’s frust
rating. words have been sliced
open at the end of every line,
an experiment i guess, sacrifi
cing the language for the layo
ut. it’s chaotic on purpose to
match the title.
i'm giving yo
u one paragraph as a taste, bu
if you could read a whole zi
ne like this you have more pat
ience than i.

Of course, zines are often full of typos, and that’s part of the charm. There will doubtless be several typos in this issue of Pathetic Life, but they’re not on purpose. Doing a whole zine of intentionally broken words, so reading it requires decoding it, well, that’s just annoying.

Uh-oh, he’s ranting again.

I write this pathetic zine to communicate with others about whatever’s on my mind, which often isn’t much, but at least I'm trying. It wouldn’t occur to me to obfuscate the message on purpose, and then charge you $3 for the obfuscation.

That's what Joel Epanouri, the man behind Chaos zine, is doing, and what's most annoying is that Joel is a good writer. He's screwing with his writing on purpose, and I just don't get it. 

Have fun doing whatever you’re doing, Joel, and please drop me a note when the experiment is over. Until then, though, we’re finished trading.

♦ ♦ ♦

I checked my messages, and Mom called again, and simply said, “Please call me.”

My reply would be “Please bite me,” if I was tough enough to say that to my mother. Whatever’s going on, whoever’s dead or has cancer and Mom wants to tell me about it, frickin’ tell me about it. I don’t have a phone, but I have a phone number, you can call any time day or night and it’ll take a message of unlimited length. Talk your heart out, Mom. 

But nope. She calls and calls and all she says is, “Please call me.” And when I call her, the phone rings and rings, and if I'm lucky and the answering machine is on I can say again, “I called.”

♦ ♦ ♦

Like Julia Child no doubt harbors a secret hankering for TV dinners, I crave a certain genre of junk movies — action movies, especially with Arnold Schwarzenegger. A good action movie shouldn’t be taken seriously, and Arnold really can’t be taken seriously, so they’re two great tastes that taste great together. 

Trotted two blocks to the St Francis for True Lies, but it was a double feature so first I sat through Timecop, with Jean-Claude Van Damme. He’s a discount Schwarzenegger. I like science fiction and the movie is about time travel so I thought I’d like it, but it was only so-so.

First off, Mia Sara is in it — from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — but she's barely in it, and she deserves better than to play The Woman Who Dies and sets the story in motion.

And I might be wrong, but wasn’t Van Damme actually a kick-boxing star before he became a movie star? If so, why are the fight scenes so uninteresting here? They're mostly quick cuts stitched together by the film’s editors, like this:

Swinging fist, cut. 

Falling man, cut. 

Bloodied lip with angry sneer, cut. 

Another swinging fist, cut. 

Repeat repeat repeat, until the fight is over.

It’s all transparently phony. Go see a Jackie Chan movie and learn what a long shot can accomplish.

The director, Peter Hyams, has been a disappointment since Capricorn One, a nifty little anti-sci-fi flick from fifteen years ago that remains the high point of his career.

James Cameron, on the other hand, knows how to make a movie. The Abyss is the only flick he’s made that left me cold, and he repaired the damage with his re-released director’s cut of The Abyss last year, which was much, much better. And he made True Lies.

True Lies is no masterpiece, but it’s better than Jean-Claude Van Damme. Essentially a domestic comedy inflated to Schwarzenegger size, it’s completely preposterous — something about a rogue American spy with an Austrian accent who appropriates or hijacks any and every espionage tool there is, to keep his philandering wife faithful and his annoying daughter virginal. 

It’s all indicative of someone’s screwed-up ideas of what makes a man a man, but that’s an argument for someone who gives a shit. Me, I enjoy mindless action movies, and True Lies was especially mindless, and I enjoyed it.

From Pathetic Life #5
Sunday, October 16, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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  1. >The director, Peter Hyams, has been a disappointment since Capricorn One, a nifty little anti-sci-fi flick from fifteen years ago that remains the high point of his career.

    Hyams has done one other GREAT movie, IMO, The Star Chamber. Look it up. He also directed The Relic, a solid action movie based on a solid book.

    1. Looks like The Relic came after you wrote this. And weirdly, at some point after this, I'm 99% sure we saw the awful Schwarzenegger movie End Of Days together, which he also directed.

    2. End of Days was indeed you and me, up the escalator at the St Francis. I ate a giant bag of licorice whips, and a second giant bag of Red Vines. You brought a sack of Wendy's, I think, and beer. Some guy was snoring near the front, and we saw mice running around between the seats.

      I have never heard of The Relic. I'll add it to my list.

      The Star Chamber was one of Michael Douglas's uncomfortable dramas in the 1990s, as I recall, and I saw it, but I don't recall it.

  2. It was probably Taco Bell, not Wendys, simply because Taco Bell was cheaper. 25 years ago, you could get their cheap stuff for like 79 cents each. I don't remember the mice between the seats, though I know it happened. I remember rats running along the bottom of the screen, though not necessarily that particular showing.

  3. > It’s all indicative of someone’s screwed-up ideas of what makes a man a man, but that’s an argument for someone who gives a shit.

    That made me laugh. I def remember some handringing when True Lies came out, a list of all the ways it was inappropriate and I’m glad you don’t play that game.

    1. I remember several movies that were protested, with picketers saying you shouldn't see it because blah blah blah... Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Last Temptation of Christ, Passion of Christ, Dogma ... but I can't think of any in recent years.

      Have the nannies given up on protecting us from wrong thinking? Or have I stopped noticing nincompoop news?


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