Saturday, October 25, 2014

A (semi-)Recent Publication & My Answers to the Proust Questionnaire

Hello; 2 Things:

1) This is a bit late, but earlier this month (Oct. 3), I had two poems published in Bluestockings Magazine's recent issue, which was in collaboration with Nudity in the Upspace.You can read the entire, beautiful issue here (hint: my poems, "not that that would be, nor has been, difficult to find" and "[untitled] for @Aurist" are on pages 19 and 36, respectively).


2) A few days ago, I took the Proust Questionnaire, courtesy of Fawzy Zablah, who is a fantastic writer and great person. He very kindly posted my replies on his blog, which you can read right here. Fawzy's written a great book, "Rarity of the Century," and he was so gracious as to invite me to answer these thought-provoking questions, popularized by French author Marcel Proust.

Okay, that's basically it for now. Thanks!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cruisin to the Finish Line: Acceleration - Pt Cruiser USA

PT Cruiser USA has written another hilarious book with "Cruisin to the Finish Line: Acceleration;" but this time, we are given more personal flourishes of her life as her popularity has increased. While this third book is still written in her boisterous voice, "Acceleration" is like a combination of her first and second books, "Speed Secrets" and "Ambitions of a Rider," respectively. Beginning with a few short pieces, which serve to establish her unique and distinct brand (bizarre real life happenings, love of hot R&B/soul/hip hop men, being a car, and working in a retail store that seems to have been plucked from a sitcom plot), PT Cruiser USA's "Acceleration" takes the reader into greater detail of her life and some real life, personal experiences, both at work and with friends outside of work.

In terms of her brand, I will admit I rolled my eyes when she once again had a list of hot guys. For an instant, I became indignant and felt like, 'Is she really going to have this same list a third time, but just a little bit different??' Yes; yes, she did. But this indignation was short-lived because I accepted the fact that she had included the list a third time. After all, she has staked her personal brand as being a lover of VH1 Soul and the men who are artists within that world, so was I really surprised about this? No, not really. And while I still don't "love" the fact that she has included basically the same list in all three of her books, I enjoy that she's staying true to herself, if and only if because: from book to book, this list, while basically the same, has changed, if ever so slightly, which implies progress of a sort. Or, another way to put it: PT Cruiser USA does not take this list lightly; on the contrary, PT Cruiser USA takes her list of hot men VERY seriously, so much so that she is willing to update and change the list and inform us of those changes.

One very nice, new addition to this third book was the inclusion of four "Car Facts" scattered throughout. The first of these appears immediately after "List of Hot Guys with Additional Hot Guys Added in Bold," which was incredibly refreshing after having gotten through a list I've read several times before. But more importantly, these "Car Facts" seemed to be sort of like the "What Things Mean" chapter at the end of her first book, "Speed Secrets." In that chapter, she explained the meanings and origins of some of the phrases she continually tweets. But with the four "Car Facts," PT Cruiser USA has spaced these little tidbits out, which interestingly divides the book up. It is akin to when a long poem is followed by a short poem, or when a long, run-on sentence is followed by a short, snappy sentence(-fragment). As such, the placements of the four "Car Facts" were timely breaths of fresh air.

"Hangover" was fucking hilarious! While I'm sure it was a horrible experience for PT Cruiser USA, I was thankful she shared this story with us. I read the first half of "Acceleration" (in which this chapter is included) in the breakroom at my work and laughed aloud several times during this story. Some of the guys who work in the produce department looked over at me, but I didn't care because PT Cruiser USA's story was too 'on point'. I mean, getting drunk from maybe about half of one beer and then being hungover, but having that hangover triggered by Bruno Mars on the radio at work...utterly hilarious! I also felt connected to her when she got a nosebleed on her way home, as I myself used to be prone to nosebleeds and, thus, understand the awkwardness of having to deal with a nosebleed in public. Her comedic timing in the telling of this tale was handled well and I also liked the car allusions she made towards the end of the chapter (because, of course, she's a car *beep*).

I was also interested to see that there is a greater emphasis on dates and times in this third book, which is important. PT Cruiser USA has always said she aspires to be internet famous and Twitter famous. Since the launch of her Twitter account and the release of her books, PT Cruiser USA's fame has increased. But what is a celebrity without a fame-timeline? Indeed, increased popularity will lead to more happenings both online and irl, which means she will relay these stories to us via Twitter and, possibly, future books, which will in turn continue to promote her fame and popularity. (It's the circle of Fame.) Thus, the emphasis on dates and times in this book functions as a way to track her heightening popularity, as well as revealing maturity and development within her as an internet celebrity/humorous storyteller. And while on the subject of development as a storyteller, I will quickly note that PT Cruiser USA's use of punctuation has improved, often (correctly) for heightened dramatic/comedic effect. Lastly, on the subject of popularity, I liked that PT Cruiser USA included a list of people from Twitter she hopes to meet, which shows further aspirations. But, very interestingly, she included notable alt lit-personality Heiko Julien in the list; in fact, he's the second on the list, which means, apart from Miguel, Heiko Julien is/was probably one of the first people to come to PT Cruiser USA's mind when she began to conceive of this list. And I say it is very interesting because PT Cruiser USA is, I suppose, a member of "weird twitter," which is like the Twitter-cousin of alt lit, which is a little like a bastard descendent of indie lit, a realm out of which both PT Cruiser USA's and Heiko Julien's books originate. So, I guess it seemed to me like when one artistic person gives a nod of recognition to another artistic person in the same sort of way that Stanley Kubrick gave a nod to David Lynch when Kubrick made the entire cast and crew of "The Shining" watch Lynch's "Eraserhead" on the first day of production and then told them, "I want ["The Shining"] to feel like ["Eraserhead"]." Or something...

Some of my favorite passages in "Acceleration" involve things that happen while PT Cruiser USA is at work; notably, whenever PT Cruiser USA interacts with Maria, the dumb manager, the Pygmy UPS Guy, stupid customers, and/or The Diva, which is, to me, a new addition to the cavalcade of sitcom-like characters who make regular appearances in PT Cruiser USA's life via capitalistically-informed economic institutions/places of business. That is, I often see tweets about these people, but it's hilarious to get more information and longer stories about them in chapters. However, The Diva is an exception: I hadn't known that The Diva was a person because I, personally, had never seen mentions of The Diva in tweets/other books. Nevertheless, The Diva's chapter made her, in my mind, fit right in with the bizarre world of PT Cruiser USA's workplace. Additionally, in her previous two books, PT Cruiser USA has seldom mentioned customers, but that's not the case with "Acceleration." Several sections/stories involve or are directly concerned about customer interaction, which I liked very much. Working in customer service as I myself do, I often deal with the ignorance/flat-out bizarreness of customers, so I felt solidarity with PT Cruiser USA when she relayed encounters with certain customers, such as the customer from the "Chingy" story.

One section I took a bit of issue with was "Dumb Manager *part 2*," particularly since I read this book after the Janey Smith/Stephen Trull and peterbd "We're Fucked!" controversy. While there are issues from that, I speak mainly about the controversy behind using real peoples' names in works of art without asking for their consent. Although PT Cruiser USA does not use the name of her "dumb manager," she does take real Facebook status updates posted by her "dumb manager" and puts those status updates in her book. Now, I can only assume this, but I'd be willing to bet that PT Cruiser USA did not ask and, thus, did not receive explicit permission to use those status updates. Of course, for the sake of art, all things are permissible, but people were hurt by the release of "We're Fucked!", so this is an important issue to consider. In PT Cruiser USA's case, there may be the possibility of a similar situation: someone could get hurt. Or maybe not: probably the "dumb manager" will never know about or read this book. Or, if she does, maybe the "dumb manager" is so dumb, she would actually like the fact that she's been included in PT Cruiser USA's book and not 'get' that she's sort of being poked fun at. Who knows? But at the same time, this book was written and released June 9, 2014 (lol, 69!), months before the "We're Fucked!" scandal occurred (as well as the other subsequent scandals late Sept./early Oct.), so the blurred lines of consent were probably nowhere near anyone's first thoughts. But now, I wonder: where do the lines of consent and artistic expression lie? Is it true, as I just sarcastically implied, that all things are permissible for the sake of art, or must we re-evaluate our notions of artistic expression and non-artist-persons' consent to be used for the artist's art? I don't have answers, but I can hope that anyone who reads this review will give consideration to these questions.

Now in the opposite case, PT Cruiser USA includes a story about @ashleyjizzzdale involving a dildo and an unexpected/scary trip to the emergency room. This is an extremely personal story, which happened to ashleyjizzzdale, but since PT Cruiser USA and ashleyjizzzdale are friends, both online and irl, one can probably correctly assume that this incredibly personal experience was given permission to be relayed in "Acceleration." In fact, the story itself, while stylized like a PT Cruiser USA story, seems to be written in a slightly different tone and, I believe, was actually written by ashleyjizzzdale herself. Whether or not this true, the point remains: explicit permission was given from ashleyjizzzdale to PT Cruiser USA to include this story in "Acceleration"--was, possibly, penned by the person to whom it occurred: ashleyjizzzdale. As such, an interesting work of art was created, and *not* weakened from having been granted consent.

Part of what I like about PT Cruiser USA's books so much is that we're given a deeper perspective on her life and the characters who populate that life. One such character, who I have seen mentioned in her Twitter feed but knew next to nothing about, was the Pygmy UPS Guy. After reading the chapter devoted to him, I now have a greater context for who he is and what he is like, so that now I can be "in on the joke" whenever she tweets about him. However, there is a little bit of uncomfortableness about her description of his physical appearance. When she describes his appearance, there is almost an implied negative-jokey approach to it. I'm not saying she does, in fact, joke about his physical appearance because, in fact, she does not. But she begins her description of the Pygmy UPS Guy with his physical appearance because his physical stature is necessary to know in order to see the humor in the sort of personality he has, which is bro-like and over-confident, male ego-centric. His personality, while humorous on it's own, is made, I suppose, more laughable when one understands his physicality. So, the best way to think of him, I'd say, is as a swaggering braggart, but short in stature, which gives him a bit of a Napoleon complex, which is pretty funny.

There are more Maria shenanigans, more retail happenings, and more school stories, all of which humorously show PT Cruiser USA's ability to neutrally exist and observe the chaos and quirkiness of the world around her. Sharing these bizarre occurrences on Twitter and more deeply in her books, PT Cruiser USA shows us a car's perspective in a human's world. Humans can be forgetful, can lack common sense, can be rather stupid at times; PT Cruiser USA, on the other hand (as a car), is level-headed and observant, documenting these people and their actions. But not all people fit into these stereotypes. Some humans are good and/or friends with PT Cruiser USA, notably those listed in the book's last chapter, "top 10 people to follow on Twitter," which functions as both a shout out to those ten people and shows us examples of people who are good, kind, and deserving of special attention in the exact opposite ways as PT Cruiser USA's retail coworkers, her grade school school bus driver, and Keyshia Cole. I would highly recommend buying and reading "Cruisin to the Finish Line: Acceleration" because it shows us that there are good people and bad people through the eyes of a car. And with that being said: "BYE GOING!"