Saturday, May 14, 2022

A little something for the weekend?


This morning, instead of a movie review, I’d like to toss out a question for serious discussion.

Okay, you really want a movie review? Here’s a quick one. Rambo: Last Blood: AVOID. Netflix served this up on our recommended because you watched list and by doing so proved that either Netflix hates us or their recommendation algorithm is seriously screwed up. There is no reason to watch this movie—unless you really hate Mexicans and long to watch a fat, bloated, old Sylvester Stallone kill lots of Mexicans in a third-act “explicit yet strangely cartoonish orgy of violence” that looks like it was lifted straight out of an M-rated video game. This is the movie that asks the question: If I was a 20-something-year-old Mexican narco-terrorist hunting for a 75-year-old gringo in a warren of tunnels, and suddenly the sound system began blasting out The Doors’ Five to One, would I think:

a.) Ooh, this is scary, it’s like I’m suddenly in Apocalypse Now and I’m getting totally psyched out!


b.) Dammit, Gramps has overdosed on Geritol and taken out his hearing aids again. Let’s hope he at least still has his Depends on.

John Wayne could pull off the “weary old gunfighter reluctantly coming out of retirement to fight one last battle” shtick. Sylvester Stallone is no John Wayne.  


So, back to the question I wanted to discuss. While reviewing movies is fun and easy, and movie reviews seem to draw a lot of eyeballs, Stupefying Stories has always been about stories, and the people who tell them. As we refine our focus, publishing movie reviews seem a bit… off-mission. 

For a long time we had a feature on this site called SHOWCASE, in which we published stories that for one reason or another didn’t fit into the context of the magazine but that were too good to ignore. For example:

SHOWCASE: “The Very Last Time I Will Ever Have Sex with a Tree,” by Nathan Cromwell

How, you might wonder, did I end up in a public park with my pants around my ankles and my—er, parts—pinched inside a tree? Long story short, I met a brunette at Retox, she was hot and I was tipsy, and I didn’t check her I.D. Even sober I hate asking a woman to prove she’s real: choose the right moment, it’s awkward; choose the wrong moment, it can scotch the whole deal; and if you choose no moment, you can end up imprisoned by a tree.

Three years ago, according to the most popular theory, the rise of science and the decline in respect for religion pulled modern beliefs back just enough to let the older ones peep through again—not anything big, like gods, but an occasional pixie, goblin, sylph…or dryad. At first these beings terrified and delighted everyone, but after the novelty wore off they became nuisances. And vice-versa: a troll might settle under a bridge, ready to harass passers-over the next morning, only to wake up inside a full-blown homeless encampment and rounded up in a NIMBY-powered police sweep. After a while the mythicals blended, somewhat, into modern life, but you can’t take the tale out of the fairy, if you get me. Even disguised, something irresistible in an idealized, belief-animated figment hurries a man’s pulse.

How would you feel if we were to drop the movie reviews, and instead go back to running a SHOWCASE story or two every Saturday morning? 

The lines are open. I’d like to hear your opinion. 


P.S. One of the features of the new site design is that over in the right column, if you click the [Tags] tab, you'll see all the labels we've ever applied to posts. There's a lot of cruft and clutter there and we need to do some serious cleanup and reorg, but if you select the "Showcase" tag, you'll find all the stories we're published on this site under the SHOWCASE aegis.

There are a lot of good stories there. Check them out. For example, every spring, right about this time, I get the urge to re-read “Bootleg Bees,” by Laura Jane Swanson.