Archive for Bullshit

The Inner Swine Guide to Ignorance Episode 8

By | August 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

(This originally appeared in Brutarian Quarterly #54; for a while I wrote a column there about ignorance in general and my ignorance in specific. It was a lot of fun and I figure I’ll post them here now and again.)

BROMANCE IS REAL

BROMANCE IS REAL

Episode Eight: Ignorance for the Win!

My wife teaches me things every day, alleviating the huge welter of my ignorance little by little. Admittedly, most of this education concerns my many, many failings, but hell, ignorance of something is ignorance, and through her violent and painful lessons I emerge a smarter—and slightly anemic—man.

Sometimes, though, these lessons are a little more general, if no less painful. Like, for example, the following recent example:

ME: Wha? Where am I?
THE DUCHESS: On the couch. Watching TV.
ME: Wha? What is. . .what is that?
THE DUCHESS: This is a television show called Bromance.
ME: . . .I wish now I could have remained ignorant of this show.
THE DUCHESS: Too late! HEY! Keep those eyes open or I break out the clamps.
ME: Yes’m.

Bromance was a show on MTV starring Brody Jenner, son of former Olympic star and current plastic surgery victim Bruce Jenner. The show was all about Brody trying to choose a new best friend. The reasons why he needs a new best friend and why we’re imagined to care are difficult to explain if you aren’t forced to watch this sort of terrible, terrible TV show in the first place, but, sadly, I now know all about Mr. Jenner and his awful show. I am, sadly, no longer ignorant about Bromance. Pray for me.

Of course, you never know—this unwanted knowledge of Bromance might come in handy. Bizarre and impossible as it might sound at first blush, you have to remember the fact that none of us know what’s coming—there are no spoilers in life. So who can say that Bromance might not someday save my life? No one can say, that’s who. As far as any of you can prove, knowledge of Bromance could certainly save my life someday.

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The Real Reason “Halt & Catch Fire” Sucked

By | August 15, 2014 | 1 Comments
This poster is much better than the actual show.

This poster is much better than the actual show.

So, if you were one of the very small number of people who watched Halt and Catch Fire on AMC this summer (possible reasons for your interest include being fascinated by 1980s-era computer technology and hacking [that would be my excuse] or possibly a fascination with bad television [also, strangely, me]), you likely share my reaction to the Season One Finale: A disgusted shrug. Put succinctly: This show was awful.

Also, the Whitest Show Ever Produced (and I watch Mad Men, y’all). But mainly: Awful.

It was, however, awful in a curious way. Yes, the writing was slipshod, the show reached for ridiculous dramatic moments far too often and failed to pull them off, and for some reason thought simply giving a character a “mysterious backstory” and then immediately revealing it to be a shallow and poorly conceived …. non-moment was somehow deconstructive or brilliant. Sure, stipulated.

The real reason this show sucked? It was too real. Halt and Catch Fire was the realest fucking show on television.

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The Age of Antagonism

By | August 13, 2014 | 3 Comments
Mr. Pratt Will See Himself Now

Mr. Pratt Will See Himself Now

Hey, have you heard about this new movie Guardians of the Galaxy and its breakout (human) star, Chris Pratt? Who’s getting a lot of press because he’s charming and funny and quite good in the film?

Someone out there wants you to know he’s a douche. Specifically, Tracy Clark-Flory over at Salon.com in this stunningly awful piece (do me a favor and don’t click on that link). In it, Tracy admonishes our praise for Pratt because he’s been “acting douchier than ever before.”

Now, I’m all for deflating Hollywood egos and frankly I don’t give a shit if anyone likes Chris Pratt or not, but this is a prime example of the new Age of Antagonism that our click-baiting culture has immersed us in. The way it works is simple: Take something simple and generally agreed upon in the sane world (e.g., Chris Pratt is charming and entertaining) and write something that walks up to that generally-accepted idea and shits all over it. For no other reason than to sop up the traffic that such ‘controversy’ will generate.

If you read Tracy’s piece on Salon, you’ll note her examples of “douchier” behavior are all based on the fact that he lost some weight, started working out, and seems proud and excited about his new physique and the acting opportunities it gives him. There’s also a vague and poorly-worded glance at sexism and how women are treated differently when they lose weight, but mainly her argument is that Chris Pratt posted a shirtless selfie and thus sucks.

Does Tracy really believe this? Who knows, or cares. I doubt Tracy knows, or cares. The point is simply to get a lot of Chris Pratt’s fans to share that article far and wide with disgusted and outraged commentary, and keep those sweet, sweet clicks coming in.

That Thing You Like Actually Sucks CLICK HERE TO SLAP ME IN THE FACE

This shit is becoming more and more common. How many times have you seen a headline that is so obviously wrong and stupid you couldn’t wait to give the author a piece of your mind? You just got used, friendo.

It’s all about the clicks, and if you can’t get those clicks by writing something interesting, why not get them by trolling everyone, because that’s what this shit is. If this was 1977 someone would be writing the STAR WARS IS SHIT AND YOU ARE FOOLS FOR LIKING IT post right now, dreaming of the explosion in their Google Analytics. It’s trolling, pure and simple, except on a slightly more sophisticated scale than simply posting something profane on a message board and running away. And instead of feeding the trolls with attention, we are literally feeding them with advertising money earned from the ad impressions they’re getting off the traffic.

Sigh. Nothing illegal about this of course. I guess what offends me really is the insincerity. Which – me complaining about insincerity – is ironic in many, many ways. I’d like to starve this particular breed of troll, though, because, frankly, it wastes my time.

Categories: Bullshit

My GISHWHES Entry

By | August 11, 2014 | 2 Comments
Elopus

Elopus

As you may be aware, there was a Scavenger Hunt last week in which the participants were tasked, in part, with getting a published Sci Fi author to write them a story of no more than 140 words and including the Queen of England, Misha Collins (actor), and the GISHWHES mascot the Elopus (shown here).

Strangely, I’ve read there was some controversy over this as authors complained that they were being harassed about writing free things, when everyone knows that authors must demand pennies per word for every single thing they write because we are professionals, damn it. Huh. I was asked by one team, and was happy to do it. If I’d been asked by dozens, maybe I would have balked.

Anyways, here’s my entry, which was kind of fun to bang out in ten minutes and send via Facebook to the PearatroopersLovesBuccaneers team.

You Could Not Have Been More Wrong

by Jeff Somers

Dmitri, I am sorry.”

Call me Misha.”

The fat old man in his too-tight vest was sweating. Misha thought back: Blue light, shattered glass. His Great-Great Grandfather, Dorr, in a brass and velvet time machine, controlled by a Comptograph.

Come,” the old man had shouted, punching keys. “Let me show you something wonderful! First, we must pick up my friend Victoria.”

Now they hovered in a void. Upon their arrival in this nothingness the Queen had let out a Scream and died.

Floating: An elephant’s head, tentacles sprouting from it, huge. The tentacles reaching towards them, the mouth open and so dark.

It was to be beautiful,” the old man wept.

Misha noted that his tanner had stained the fluffy white hotel bathrobe. “You could not have been more wrong.”

THE END

American Wedding Confidential: Will The Real Best Man Please Stand Up?

By | August 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
Out Now. BUY IT.

Out Now. BUY IT.

Celebrating the publication of my darkly humorous novella The Ruiner (out now from Damnation Books at Amazon and B&N), I thought I’d repost this essay I once wrote for the zine.

In which I learn the explosive force of love.

About year ago this Thursday my old friend Emil got married and asked me to be his best man. Emil’s a good friend of The Inner Swine Inner Circle (TISIC) in general, and there was some resentment, jealousy, and harsh words concerning my elevation to Best Man status. There were also isolated incidents of violence. Eventually, Emil managed to cool tempers and remind the rest of TISIC that they were, above all else, contractually obligated to me in perpetuity. After that impassioned speech the members of TISIC retreated to their various abodes to scan the fine print of their contracts, only to return in much more manageable moods.

The Best Man has a lot of duties in the modern wedding. Whereas in the good old days he was merely a responsible member of the groom’s clan who vouched for the groom’s sanity, financial solvency, and lack of venereal diseases, these days the Best Man has lots to do: organize a bachelor party (I’m told it was a humdinger; personally I don’t remember much after that fifth body shot off of Lola the Stripper’s washboard stomach), deliver the viciously hungover groom to the actual wedding the next day (Emil still had his Emergency Room ID bracelet on), manage not to vomit during the ceremony, and then, finally, and most importantly, make a speech at the reception.

The Best Man’s Speech is supposed to accomplish a few minor but cherished conventions: it’s supposed to compliment the groom, his choice of bride, and form a verbal bridge between the carefree days of the groom’s prior friendships and the more complex but equally rewarding years of mature friendship to come. In other words, the Best Man’s job is to reassure the groom’s buddies that they will indeed see him from time to time despite the nag he’s chaining himself to, and to reassure the groom that his buddies will always be there to say mean things about his wife in private if he needs them to.

I worked very hard on my speech in the ambulance, riding with Emil to the ER after the bachelor party had taken a dramatic turn. The transcript which follows is taken from the wedding video, and more accurately reflects what was actually said than the scrawled speech written on cocktail napkins in the ambulance. I think I accomplished the goals of the Best Man’s Speech admirably:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family, I’ve known Emil for sixteen years. When we met back in prison we didn’t like each other very much; he always wanted to pitch and I never let him. Being cellmates gave us time to get to know each other and by the time our parole hearing came up I was proud to stand next to him, hold his hand, and testify that we had each found Jesus and would dedicate our lives to upholding the laws of the land if we were released.

“In short, I’ve known Emil long and well. And in many ways, most of which I don’t wish to discuss here.
Over the years Emil and I have gone through a great many things and we’ve always supported each other: when my dog Skippy died, Emil was there to help me through it, tenderly digging a grave for poor Skippy and getting me drunk later that night before we traced the plate number of the car that hit Skippy and set it on fire, in revenge.

“When I became addicted to Internet Porn a few years ago, alienating my friends and family, losing my job, ending up at one point getting busted for public lewdness in The @ Café in New York City, Emil was the one who came to my apartment one July evening, knocked me cold and kidnapped me. Emil kept me in a cold, dark basement for six months, deprogramming me. To this day whenever I see a computer keyboard I shake and vomit helplessly. While this has caused me difficulty and unpopularity at work, it saved me: if not for Emil and the vicious torture he put me through in that basement, I would be in some asylum somewhere, trying to log onto from a pay phone.

“Emil has always been there for me, and I am pleased to be here for him today, the day he marries Petra.

“In the four and a half days I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Petra, I’ve realized that Emil’s life was but an empty and meaningless melange of sex, drugs, and progressive jazz music. In less than a week, she has become not only a dear friend of mine, but a dear friend of all the members of The Inner Swine Inner Circle, The Inner Swine being the magazine I publish which I really think you all ought to read and purchase subscriptions, because you see that large black guy in the back standing with several dozen men in fatigues? That’s Ken [REDACTED] and he’s going to be waiting for you after the reception, and all I can say is that he’s much nicer to people who have subscriptions than to anyone else, and I can also say that I have less and less influence over him every day.

“What? All right, all right, Emil, Jesus, calm the fuck down, okay?

“Anyway, as I was saying, Petra has not only redeemed Emil from his obvious descent into damnation and syphilitic degeneration, but she has entered and improved the lives of all of us. She’s a rare and delicate flower of womanhood, she’s a compassionate and beautiful creature who’s….energy and….emotion….and….and….ladies and gentlemen, I love her. Petra, I love you.

“I cannot stand here and pretend that everything is okay, while I am dying inside! Petra, I’ve been dying inside all these past few days! Ever since Tuesday night I’ve been tortured by my love for you, while you marry this troll, this monster, this syphilitic mistake masquerading as a man! Oh, the stories I could tell you! Emil, the whoremonger! Emil the petty thief! The man he killed in Mexico! The drugs he dealt to little kids while on work release! The Kiddie Porn! Oh, Petra, you’re making a mistake!

“Ladies and gentlemen, keep that madman away from me! Excuse me….pardon me….Ken! Help! Ladies and gentlemen, I beseech you! Petra! Petra!”

(At this point the audio becomes garbled as many voices intrude and the action on-screen gets a little hectic. Occasionally you can here me shouting “Not the face!” but I don’t think technically that’s part of the speech. At this point I felt the explosive power of love, and it certainly beat the shit out of me)

I often wonder what became of Emil and Petra. I suspect he still communicates with other members of TISIC, but none of the bastards will admit it, and the court order prevents me from finding out for myself. If anyone has heard of Emil and Petra’s whereabouts, please contact me. There’s money in it for you.

Mrs. Muse: My Wife Thinks She is a Rich Vein of Material

By | July 21, 2014 | 1 Comments

This article originally appeared in The Inner Swine Volume 15, Issue 3/4, Winter 2009.

My Main Reference Material

My Main Reference Material

“You should write about this.”

I hear this phrase pretty often, usually when I am complaining about something The Duchess is making me do, like watching terrible reality television or following her from store to store in an endless shopping mall. My hell, I am convinced, will be an infinite shopping mall filled with women’s clothing stores. I used to think my hell would involve dried up beer taps and indoor league football, but now I am older and wiser and the ways of the universe are clearer to me.

At first, early in our relationship, she only used The Line when she truly believed that what she was putting me through was Inner Swine material—like most people, she thought at first that being mentioned in my zine would be kind of cool. Everyone gets quickly disabused of that notion, trust me, and it wasn’t long before she demanded her name be obscured in all issues so no one might Google her and discover her secret shame: That she is married to: Me.

Nowadays, The Line has a new function for The Duchess: She uses it as a way to justify any activity, no matter how torturous I find it. No matter how horrified I am at the turn my life has taken, I am assured that it’s all right because I can write an article about it.

The Marathon Man

Now, my wife is a fascinating, intelligent, feisty girl who is endlessly entertaining, and if I did not live in abject fear of being punished by her (she is stronger, faster, and in better shape than I ever will be; she runs marathons and works out and eats healthy—I drink gallons of booze and the last time my heart rate went up I was watching a baseball game and almost had a stroke) her antics and adventures would make admirable material for this zine.

This is a compliment. The more interesting you are, the more likely you will eventually be in this zine, albeit sometimes obscured.

Since this zine is primarily about me, I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine what this says about my healthy and possibly delusional self-image.

However, this is getting out of hand when she starts justifying just about any mistreatment of her husband with the assurance that someday I will be able to use it as material for this zine. I make shit up for this zine; I don’t need material. I can walk to the grocery store, buy a loaf of bread and walk home, and make that entire experience into an article for this zine. Actually, I don’t even have to leave the house; I can just sit on the couch and stare at a wall and six months later there’s an article in this zine called Staring at the Wall: I Am Old and Dulled by Liquor which will be just six pages of me insulting myself in clever ways. See how this works? No actual experiences needed. It’s like Sir Laurence Olivier said to Dustin Hoffman on the set of The Marathon Man when Hoffman showed up to film a torture scene looking like hell because he’d stayed up 48 hours straight in order to be suitably exhausted for the scene: “My dear boy, have you tried acting?”

WAYS THE DUCHESS USES “THE LINE” TO JUSTIFY CRUELTY

1. Bad Television. I’ve complained before about the quality of the television programming The Duchess enjoys. I don’t mind sharing a little TV time now and then, and the fact that she favors shows I don’t much care for is just the way things are—she doesn’t like most of my choices, so it’s fair. But there are some shows that are just so terrible, so awesome in their terribleness, that I try to wriggle out of my husbandly duties to watch them.
And then she hits me with The Line, suggesting that I should watch Two and a Half Men and then write about how horrible it is. And it is. Horrible. It is.

2. Shopping. I’ve already defined my new vision of hell for you. Believe me, I get to live it every now and then, and my wife actually apologizes to me whenever she lures me into a store these days. Then, after apologizing, she suggests that my many sufferings at her hands in the retail world would be perfect fodder for an Inner Swine article. Do you see what I’m up against? I’ve taken to carrying a flask with me everywhere just in case it turns out we’re not going to the local Beerfest as promised, but instead to a sample sale.

3. Travel. My childish aversion to exploring the world is famed, and I’m sure some folks feel badly for The Duchess in that she has to beg and plead to get me to leave the comfort of my own house. Whenever I find myself in some godforsaken part of the world, going rapidly broke and—adding insult to injury—usually being led into some sort of foreign mall in order to purchase shoes, The Line is invariably tossed out as an impromptu justification for my treatment.

You can see, I’m sure, why it is that I drink. When any kind of horrifying shit can be justified as comedy material, you’re doomed.

Of course, The Duchess only wields this power in order to educate and improve me—and, actually, since I am now using all of these experiences to create content for this zine, I suppose, in the end, she’d been right all along.

Categories: Bullshit, The Inner Swine

Announcing the Mystery Box Giveaway

By | July 14, 2014 | 3 Comments

Kids, you may not know this, but as a published author it sometimes seems like you’re paid in free copies of your own books (sometimes literally: I received 1/3rd of my advance for my first novel Lifers literally as a bunch of free books). Then, sometimes, a publisher goes out of business or lets a book go out of print and then offers to sell you your own book stock for some ridiculous price, like a quarter a book, and so you buy approximately 500,000 of them because you can’t sleep at night thinking of your precious books being mulched.

End result? I have a lot of books that I wrote sitting around here. So, let’s give some away, want to? Here’s how it will work:

EVERY WEDNESDAY for the time being, I will send out a Tweet that says “Book Giveaway” (just those two words). The FIRST person to respond to that tweet will win a Mystery Box of books. It’s that simple. I’ll DM you for your address, and in a few days you get a Mystery Box of books.

What’s in the mystery box? IT IS A MYSTERY. It could be one book or five, and lord knows what the books will actually be. All that you can know is that they are all by me, and I’ll sign them, and there might be bookmarks and such included. I cannot even guarantee they will be in English, as I have a surprising number of German-language Avery Cates books lying around.

But you can’t choose which books to get and therefore you may be bitterly disappointed when you receive your Mystery Box and be moved to come to New Jersey and burn my house down. Which is fine, as it would be free publicity as I am filmed in front of my burning house holding five cats with tears streaming down my face. I believe that would be a recipe for INSTANT PITY BOOK SALES, so have at it.

That’s it. The Mystery Book Tweet could happen at any time between the hours of 8AM and 6PM EST on Wednesdays, until I announce the end of this thing I am doing. Good luck!

Briefing for a Descent into Freelance

By | July 9, 2014 | 6 Comments
This is why I drink.

This is why I drink.

ONE of the reasons I kind of hate doing “writerly” events is the repetition of small talk effect: You wind up making the same small talk with other writers and non-writers alike. I’ve had a variation on the following conversation roughly one billion times (some of the following may only have occurred in my head):

OTHER: So, are you published?

ME: Don’t you KNOW who I AM? I will smite thee with this old manual typewriter I carry everywhere!

OTHER: Cool, cool. Is writing, like, your full time job?

ME: I’m not wearing any pants. Do I look like a man who has income?

In other words, all these conversations quickly establish that the other person has never heard of me (indicating my book sales) and then requires of me some sort of financial disclosure.

Up until a few years ago I was one of the Day Job Writers, just like 99.9% of all of us. I wrote and was published (pretty well) but I had a day job. Then in 2012 my day job and I had a disagreement and we decided to see other people. The disagreement, I think, had something to do with the fact that I last paid conscious attention to my Day Job in 2009, but at least I wasn’t the guy who got fired from my company because he sat in on a conference call with his webcam accidentally switched on while wearing no shirt. True story.

But I digress.

After breaking up with my day job I hurriedly called my agent to ask whether I had coincidentally gotten rich in the last few hours. Being informed that this did not happen, I knew I needed to replace my day job revenues somehow, or my wife The Duchess was going to ask me to leave the premises. She’s old school, you see, and thinks men should have jobs. No matter how often I’ve explained to her that I am a Modern Beta Male who is 100% okay with being supported by his wife, she just boxes my ears and shoves a classifieds section into my hands.

BUT! I had a bold idea. The only skill I have ever demonstrated in my whole life, the only thing I can actually say I am good at, is writing. In fact, the list of things I am not good at is pretty much infinitely long. The list of things I am good at has, at most, five things, and four of them are curious physical abnormalities I’ve never been able to monetize. So I said, I could write freelance.

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Reasons Why You Should Join the WANGP Street Team

By | June 1, 2014 | 33 Comments
Street Team

Street Team

SO, on October 7, 2014, the world will change forever. Well, not really. What’s actually going to happen is my next novel, We Are Not Good People, will be released. Whether or not I spend 2015 dancing on street corners for nickels or ordering rounds of drinks for strangers as I blaze, briefly, in alcoholic splendor before doctors arrive to harvest my ruined body for parts, depends entirely on what happens in the bookstores and online venues in the days and weeks afterwards.

In the past, with the Avery Cates novels, I organized a Street Team (organized may be a strong word here) to help with promotion, and we had a lot of fun, so I’m doing the same, gathering blackguards and bravos from around the world to help make it seem like a passably good idea to spend money on my book. And I want you to join the Street Team. It will be ever so much fun.

We have a forum: http://wearenotgoodpeople.freeforums.net/

The book has a website: www.wearenotgoodpeople.com

I understand your hesitation. I am a notably unreliable author who is easily distracted by glasses of booze and things like videos of kittens acting surprised. So, here are

REASONS TO BE ON THE WANGP STREET TEAM

  1. You love me. You may not realize it, but you do.
  2. You fear me and know if my writering career goes south I will start showing up at your door, begging for a couch to sleep on.
  3. There will be swag — free books, signed things, T-shirts, bookmarks, anything else we cook up to give away or what have you, Street Team members will get first dibs. In the past every member got a T-shirt or a hat and some other stuff just for being awesome.
  4. Meet new people! Who are not me pretending to be other people just to make my Street Team seem huge and imposing, promise.
  5. All Street Team members pat and present earn the Right of Cocktails, which means they can march up to me at any time under any circumstances and, once they’ve identified themselves, demand that I buy them a drink, and I will.
  6. Did I mention the swag?
  7. The forum is there to exchange ideas and suggestions, so if you’ve ever wanted to humiliate and destroy me publicly (and who hasn’t) here is your chance. Why not suggest I dress up in a pig outfit and dance on your lawn? Because if everyone on the Street Team votes for it, I will totally do that.
  8. The abbreviation of We Are Not Good People is WANGP, so you get to throw around the word “Wang” a lot and no one can complain.

    The Pork Avenger (Artist's Conception)

    The Pork Avenger (Artist’s Conception)

  9. Someday, when they decide to make a documentary about me (most probably because I snap mentally in 2016 and start showing up in public in a pig outfit and dancing, eventually becoming known as The Pork Avenger) they will totally come to interview you about it.
  10. Because I am dancing for right now, even though you can’t see it. And also weeping. How can you be so cruel?

So there you have it. There’s no official sign up or anything — just participate. Send me your contact info via email or message, let me know you’re interested, join the forum and say hello and suggest things. What can you suggest? Well, anything:

  • If you know of a bookstore that would love to have me come read, let me know.
  • Ideas for swag or giveaways
  • Ideas for digital graphics that I could create and distribute
  • Forums or other sites that people could post on
  • Ways to tweet and post about the books (or my other books), write reviews, or otherwise spread the word

Or, just lurk until something gets suggested that appeals to you. Literally, anything you want to do is appreciated and I’ll be extremely grateful for.

Onward! I’ve just discovered I will have to have my Pork Avenger outfit let out a little. I’m … not a young man any more.

X Men: Days of Future Past

By | May 29, 2014 | 3 Comments
Kitty Pride Indeed

Kitty Pride Indeed

Let’s say you have a time machine. What would you change? Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you would go back in time and buy me a drink that one time when you refused to buy me a drink because I kept mispronouncing your name and then braying like a donkey, clearly implying that I knew I was mispronouncing your name. But looking back you realize I deserved that drink, and because I was sober I went on a rampage of writing novels and you hate to see me successful, so you figure: I’ll go back and buy him a drink and he’ll get drunk and step in front of a bus and die.

Don’t worry. It’s a common desire. I get that a lot.

So, you acquire a time machine via Dark Arts or Black Ops or what have you. How do you go about putting this plan into motion? Do you

A. Set the controls for the evening we were together, walk into the place just as Past You heads for the bathroom, and do the deed? or

B. Set the controls for the day I was conceived and totally cock-block my Dad? or

C. Set the controls for a week earlier and spend your time moving objects and leaving notes for friends and family, subtly arranging them like pieces on a board to ensure that Past You doesn’t make it to the bar that evening so you can impersonate yourself, and then put more work hours into making certain that my favorite liquor is stocked behind the bar, and then even more work into several side projects, including releasing a dangerous gorilla from the zoo to terrorize the neighborhood so the bar won’t be too crowded, except I have a deadly fear of gorillas and so now Past Me isn’t coming to the bar, and you have to reveal yourself to Past You and team up to kidnap me and literally pour booze down my throat, accidentally burning down Hoboken, NJ in the process?

If you chose “C,” you may be Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, or Matthew Vaughn, the people who wrote X-Men: Days of Future Past. SPOILERS HO.

Sweet Jesus, I’m an Asshole

So, time travel movies tend to be ridiculous. Here’s a Pro Tip: Time Travel is not magic. It’s not supposed to be magic, at least – it’s supposed to be a manipulation of a measurable aspect of our physical world. As a result, they should have what we professional thinkers call “internal logic.” The rest of the world calls this making any damn sense.

XMDOFP Makes a valiant attempt to make some damn sense. The method of time travel is the typical mumbo-jumbo, but at least avoids someone actually building a time machine in favor of mental gymnastics, which has a nice simplicity to it, in my opinion. The basic premise is this: In 1973 Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinates a scientist/industrialist, setting in motion a present-day where the world has been destroyed by “Sentinels” that hunt anyone with even a single mutant gene. On the verge of being exterminated, the final remaining mutants gather to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, whose arms and chest are a special effect that made me doubt my sexual orientation) back to his body in 1973 to stop her. To do so, they decide he must find Professor X (Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy) and Magneto (Ian McKellan/Michale Fassbender) to persuade her not to kill her target.

So, let’s run this through the insanity machine: On the one hand, you have the entire world destroyed an enslaved by horrible Sentinels. Weighed against that is the single mutant who causes the chain reaction in the first place. Solution: Kill Mystique, preferably a few years before 1973. Film over within ten minutes, the rest of the running time is Jackman doing one-handed push-ups while the rest of the cast cheers.

But no, they decide that despite the fact that the entire world destroyed an enslaved by horrible Sentinels Mystique, the woman who unknowingly caused this awful future, is far too important to kill. So they decide to spend a few days trying to track her down and convince her to not exact vengeance on this man. And for some reason, for some unknowable reason, they send Wolverine back to just a few days before her terrible act.

Wait. Why?

You are sending him back in time. For fuck’s sake, send him a few months back, give him some room to operate. Okay, to be fair, the implication is that he’s only back in his 1973 body for as long as Kitty Pride is actively manipulating him with her mutant powers, so the idea that she could do that for months is probably crazy. Except of course that she does do it for several days, because in 1973 Wolverine travels around quite a bit, and a lot of plot happens, and so we must assume Kitty pride knelt there holding her hands over Wolverine’s head for two, maybe four days. Without eating or drinking. Or bathroom breaks. Sure. Why not.

Okay! So maybe they had to send him back with just days to spare. Stipulated. I may have been drunk while watching this movie anyway. But! Here is the next complicating factor: Despite having just a few days to accomplish this goal, they spend a great deal of time breaking young Magneto out of his plastic prison. Because Old Magneto, despite knowing for a fact that he was a complete asshole back in 1973, insisted he would be necessary to convince Mystique. Which proves to be completely untrue, and it doesn’t matter anyway because Magneto immediately begins acting like the complete asshole he was in 1973.

In other words, if Old Magneto had said: Hey, listen, I was kind of a jerk back then and probably wouldn’t help you, better leave me out of it, the movie’s forty minutes long and the rest of the running time is spent giving Halle Berry a reason to be in the movie in the first place.

Man, I’m not, you know, Magneto-old. He appears to be 40 in 1973, so that makes Sir Ian McKellan 80 years old, which is … about right. In 1973 I was 2. But I can remember, for example, what kind of jerkass I was when I was 18. If you time-traveled back to when I was 18 and asked me to do anything that inconvenienced me in the least, I would yawn and pretend to be asleep. I know this. So if we were hatching plans to save the world that involved time-traveling back to me at 18 and getting my help, I would raise my hand and say guys – bad idea. I was kind of an asshole back then.

You know, instead of producing a plot thread that exists solely to expand the story to an appropriate film-length.

We won’t even get into the fact that Wolverine drowns, except doesn’t, and then magically wakes up in a shiny new future with no memory of the previous 40 years … for some unknowable reason. The metaphysics in this movie? not so hot. Sure, the movie’s fun. It also takes itself a little too seriously, and has an enormous number of continuity problems just with the other films. But Quicksilver was fun. I love that guy.

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