Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: Chad Kultgen - Men Women & Children (Spoilers!)

Written just before The Average American Marriage, Chad Kultgen's Men Women & Children explores the lives of not only a couple of high school students, but it also explores the lives of their parents and is for the most part a book about life at it's core. Chad's book doesn't beat around the bushes, it's exactly what you'd expect from human existence and reads so true to the nature of human living that you'd think that somewhere in America, these people are real and he's merely asked them for their biographies. Compared to AMM and it's sequel, this novel is exponentially thick and takes a little more time to get through. It took me about a month's time to fully finish the novel and that was just due to it's length. At first I thought that the book might have been too long and drawn out until I cam to the realization that the character development effects the outcome of each of these young people and their parents in the book's denouement.

The book reads as a sort of grown-up soap opera, something that should be made for television and pitched to HBO. I very much found myself interested in Tim Mooney's betrayal of football for the popular MMO, World Of Warcraft and additionally due to a Noam Chomsky documentary (of which I haven't seen) called Manufacturing Content. He began to realize life as insignificant, that nothing really mattered - until he met Brandy Beltmeyer. Brandy's story is not at all far-fetched, she's the typical "my mother's overprotective so I have all of this pent-up sexual frustration and the urge to rebel by dressing up goth and making up an alternate personality" kind of gal that you might have run into in high school. I remember those types. At any rate, Brandy's mother Patricia is one of the many things wrong with our society; one of those women who watches talk shows that are directly catered to her and soaks up every piece of pseudo-knowledge, for example the online predator threat which reads out to her as "My child's in danger! My child's in danger!" so she forms a group called PATI or Parents Against The Internet which I do understand the purpose of, yet she's far too out of her gourd to run such a group seriously. Most of the other parents involved didn't really seem to be all that worried about their teenager's internet usage, at least not as much as Patricia. As a matter of fact, this is where Kent Mooney (Chris's father) meets up with Dawn Clint for the first time, a woman who might be able to make him forget about his wife (who in all actuality seems to have been caged while she was with him and is now a free spirit under the mysterious Greg Cherry) even though Dawn is secretly operating a website which displays provocative images of her teen daughter Hannah for a bevy of perverts who have been paying untold sums of money to see what in a nutshell is soft-core child pornography. Despite the fact that none of the images show anything too racy, the site is still far too much for the reality show that her daughter signs up for and is almost accepted onto.

These are just a few of the many stories that intertwine into what I would consider a natural observation of our human society. Yet there is still more to this story, as it involves the sexual relations of Chris Truby and Hannah Clint showcasing her disapproval with Chris's learned fetishism from the internet (is it really nature or environment?)  which seems to kill their sex life, but the pressure that amounts from having sex before high school is far too great for her to not oblige these perverse sexual experiments. Allison Doss is another story worth mentioning, as she exposes the real-life culture of people who literally stand for anorexia and bulimia and support it. This isn't anything Chad came up with out of the blue, just type it into Google and you'll find the results of the search to be all too real. Models do starve themselves - it was just recently released in the news that some have been eating tissue and there are always new ways to stay thin appearing on the horizon, so I don't expect this to change as long as people desire for these cosmetic ideals. It was in all reality, quite sick to see how she would access these blogs and forums getting praise for her slow emaciation as her eventual switch from anorexia to bulimia occurs later in the book. Then of course there's Don Truby and Rachel Truby; Chris's unaware parents who are too busy cheating on each other to notice that their son is having sex with Hannah Clint in all sorts of obtuse ways. Rachel discovers the real affair site and Don discovers a site called (which I'm not sure if this one is real or not)  which has reviews and information, as well as pictures of prostitutes. Rachel finds a black man who goes by the name of Secretluvur and Don finds a woman who resembles the porn star he's been excited with (Stoya) in the form of Angelique Ice.

However, the truth of the matter is that all of these things that seem so obtuse and surreal actually exist. Just as Danny Vance (which I admittedly skipped through most of the football portions, not being that familiar with the game itself even though the beginning of WD1 was about BH2 and the football players who were injecting it) and his relationship with Brooke Benton, which wound up in accidental miscarriage. These are real things that happen to people, some of them you and I know. But if there's anything I will take out of this novel, it's the fact that it mentions this generation as the very first "internet generation" in that every moment of life will be displayed on the internet. Who runs the internet? Corporations. Who controls our Facebook pages when we die? You guessed it. Corporations.

But that isn't going to stop us, as we are the first age of people completely connected in all respects. Men Women & Children is most definitely the kind of book that a future civilization could pick up just to examine how we once lived. Even if it is a work of fiction, the topics presented in this book are starkly true and it's full of everything that none of us would ever want to believe or recognize as being factual... but like a car crash, it's impossible to turn away from this novel and it's no holds barred approach to human civilization in the current century.

I recommend Men Women & Children, but exercise a sharp word of caution: Be aware that what you're about to read is not for the faint of heart. This one's even rougher than The Average American Marriage!

Rating: A great read at 9/10! One of the most interesting books I've ever read by far.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With Cleo Barker Of The Will's Downfall Saga!

An Interview With Cleo Barker Of The Will's Downfall Saga

By Charles Lindberger (Noted Interviewer)

Interviewer: Hello.

Cleo: Hey, how are you? You'll um... have to excuse me. I'm just so excited to be able to talk to my fans! (Bites lip.)

I: It's understandable. So, what can you tell us about the third and final chapter of the series?

Cleo: Well, I really don't know. I haven't been there yet. Everything's been kept on a hush - hush basis. I only get a few pages at a time.

I: Pages, as in a movie script?

Cleo: Kinda sorta. You see, I'm in another dimension.

I: Another dimension?

Cleo: Yeah. I don't want to bore you with all the details. All I know, is that when I get a few pages of the novel, I'm supposed to go act them out.

I: Why?

Cleo: Because that's my job. I'm a literary character. But that doesn't mean that I don't exist. I mean, I've got to be alive in some form if I'm talking to you right now.

I: Makes sense, I guess. But does that mean that the whale from Moby Dick, or even Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower might very well be alive and kicking in some world out there beyond our understanding?

Cleo: How should I know? You make it seem as if I've got him on speed dial or something, and I tell you - that is most definitely not the case.

I: I apologize. What can you tell me about Will?

Cleo: Well, besides the fact that he's a right bloody asshole most of the time; he's a decent father. Doesn't bring the hammer down enough, I've always assumed that men were the hammer in a relationship - but it seems that times have changed.

I: How are the children?

Cleo: You'll never know. The last thing we need is more paparazzo's running about the place taking more bloody pictures.

I: Wow. I never expected to hear anything like that.

Cleo: What can I say? One in million. Rare as red tootsie rolls, I guess.

I: What? Red tootsie rolls aren't that rare, you can get them in a bag with several other colors...

Cleo: Who's being interviewed? You, or me?

I: Sorry. What can you tell us about something called, "Beyond Human?" I apologize if this is an important question, but inquiring minds want to know.

Cleo: Certainly. Beyond Human is a sort of drug, let's call it an "unlocker of hidden potential." But the problem is that people aren't able to process it. The original version made me what I am today - truly superhuman.

(She lights one of her fingers on fire with just a thought, to prove her point. Remarkable!)

Cleo: But the version that they made later was something of an offshoot - it was turning people into monsters. Vicious monsters, ugly ones at that. They always market it at malls, where people still seem to gather; despite the boom of online shopping.

I: Do you shop online?

Cleo: I'm human, so yes. And it's IRREVELANT whether or not I shop online. Caps denote the fact that I'm getting IRRITATED.

I: You work at an occult shop in Los Angeles. Sticks and Stones, right?

Cleo: Yes. That's the name of the shop. What do you want to know about it? Are you here to tell me that I'm heading to hell? Well, I've BEEN THERE before and I didn't fucking care much for it.

I: No, not by any means. But have you ever had any...

Cleo: Run-in's? You do mean people that try to purport their faith on me, right? Of course. But do you know what I tell them in return? I say to them one simple phrase that has always proven effective: "To each, their own."

I: That's all you'll say on the subject?

Cleo: I don't believe there's anything I need to add to that subject. We each have our different ideas of life, whether we choose to worship one god, twenty gods, four hundred gods, or none at all. This is our choice as human beings. I've simply chosen mine.

I: Word is that your husband's an atheist.

Cleo: He likes to refer to himself as a "scientist" even though he probably couldn't discern the difference between a hypothesis and hypotenuse.

I: What's a...?

Cleo: A hypotenuse is the longest side of a right triangle. A hypothesis is an "educated guess." Which means that you have at least some sort of information to back up that guess. Instead of saying, "the sky is blue because it is", you say "Is the sky blue because of the atmospheric pressure, or because of the electromagnetism in the air?" Which neither of these factors actually govern the color of the sky, I'm just rattling off of the top of my head.

I: You certainly know your science. It surprises me that someone who would declare themselves a witch, would also know a great deal about something which doesn't necessarily consider magic a true "force."

Cleo: I see your point - but I believe that science and the occult (the unknown for all sakes and purposes here) go hand in hand when you combine them together. You see, quantum physicists are just now finding out what people who study the occult and metaphysics have known for years:

A. There is an unknown energy that "moves" things. It can be controlled.

B. That energy connects everything to everything else by the use of tiny strings that are smaller than the smallest particle. They're calling it "Super String Theory."

C. If we all tapped into that energy and would come to realize it's significance - the world would be a much better place. The chair that I'm sitting in doesn't look like it's connected to me, but the energy that I share with that chair is what connects me to it. If for some reason my energy was different than that of the chair, then the chair would probably reject me and I would not be able to sit in it. Which would be pretty funny, I'd imagine. A chair that you couldn't sit in. What awful irony! (She laughs.)

Cleo: Everything that we create, is real. There's an energy to back it up. Belief makes ideas stronger and molds that creation energy. Perhaps that's where I came from. My creator thought me up and I became a mold of that creation energy. But I'm sure that even my creator was created by another creative force and was molded by the same energy.

I: My brain hurts.

Cleo: What's the matter? No big bowl of Wheaties for breakfast? It's the breakfast of champions, so they say. But that's a load of hogwash. Full of sugar, just like other cereals.

I: Can you tell me about the photo shoots?

Cleo: Sure. They were done in my living room while Will was at work. The children were also still in school. I'm not going to model with my family around - at least not in my own bloody house! Anyway, we just did a couple of them, really nothing to get too excited about. This witch is fully clothed in each one of them. Sorry boys! If you want to undress me; you'll have to marry me first!

I: Will's already done that.

Cleo: Exactly my point. So the shoots were done tastefully. Oh, I'll admit to a frightening bit of sauce in one or two of the shots - but if I can't at least flaunt it, then what's the use in going to the gym?

I: I hear that you workout heavily, more than most women.

Cleo: Yes. A strong mind needs a strong body. My arms might be a tad bit large than most females, but at least I can carry or pick up something when it needs to be done. Those grocery bags don't get any lighter, and whatever ignoramus's idea it was to make women that are skinny and dainty attractive - well, he needs to be knocked in the head a few times!

I: I hear you're a fan of professional female bodybuilding. Tell me about that.

Cleo: Well, that's back to the strong body that I was talking about. Men are taught to be strong, with their sharp minds and stout bodies; but women are forced to be silent and small, and weak. Female bodybuilders possess the idea that strong women can also be beautiful and smart. That women in general can also be strong and smart.

I: Do you think you'll ever compete?

Cleo: If I put all of my time into it. Maybe one day, but for now all that's important is keeping the shop running and taking care of my family. I'm afraid that if I spent too much time at the gym and shoving down supplements, I wouldn't have time for the people in my life.

I: I see. Finally, where do you see yourself in twenty years?

Cleo: I've read the script, and it doesn't look good. Hopefully, I'll still be alive at the end of the series.

I: Well, thank you for your answers.

Cleo: Thank you for having me! :D

(Due to technical difficulties, the photo shoot pics have been removed. Sorry!)