Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
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Fallout 4

In spite of a great start, lots of helpful suggestions, and tons of encouraging words and feedback, it’s safe to call the Kickstarter. As I write this, there are 34 hours to go, and we are nowhere near our goal. Barring a miracle — and we all know Jesus won’t intervene, due to Starbucks pissing him off with their DISRESPECTFUL COFFEE CUPS — the campaign is as good as over.

We will not hit our goal.

The series will not happen.

And yet, I’m proud. I’m happy. And I’m enormously grateful.

We set our sights on something, we worked toward it, and we did our best to make it happen. If it didn’t happen…well, that’s disappointing, sure. But we — myself in particular — learned a lot from the experience. And while we didn’t raise the funds we needed, every dollar that was pledged means the world to me.

Honestly. Every single dollar. If you pledged, thank you. Deeply and truly, thank you.

If you didn’t?

Thank you, too. Because I know you at least considered it, however briefly. You clicked the Kickstarter link, read a bit about it, maybe watched the video…and determined it wasn’t for you. You weren’t interested. You, as Mr. Burns once observed so wisely, would be happier with the dollar.

And I’m no less grateful for that. I’m thankful to those who thought about it and decided to pledge, and I’m thankful to those who thought about it and decided not to.

From the kind words we received — and one offer I was sadly unable to accept — I know that there is an audience for a series like this. I’ve failed to find that audience, but that’s okay. We come out of this wiser, more prepared for next time, with a better idea of what people want, how to get it to them, and who those people are.

This has been a big learning experience for me. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks who had been eagerly following the campaign and talking to me regularly about it have quieted down in the past few days, as the realization sets in that the goal won’t be met. I assume this is because they expect me to be sad or upset in some way. And…sure, I am. But sadness isn’t what I’m feeling primarily.

I’m feeling gratitude to everyone who pledged, chose not to pledge, shared the link, offered their feedback, shared their thoughts, wished us luck, expressed their excitement, or even just listened politely while I bleated on and on about this project that didn’t interest them.

I love you guys. And I’m proud of the little community we’ve built up here. The world — the internet in particular — is full of negativity. For the support that I’ve gotten from you guys — now, in the past, presumably in the future — I cannot express my gratitude enough.

You’re good people. You’re great readers. You’re a community I wouldn’t trade for anything. And I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather fail in front of.

I’ll write more, I’m sure, but for now…I think that’s all I’ve got in me. I’ll leave you with the message I sent to each of the other authors involved with the project. “It’s not failure,” I wanted them to know…

…even if it’s not exactly a success. At this point I think it’s safe to call the Kickstarter. And I accept for full responsibility for not managing it as effectively as I was convinced I could. I tried many things…a few of which panned out, but none of which hit the way I needed them to hit.

It’s been a learning experience, for sure. If that were all it was, I’d feel fine about it. But I do want to take a moment to thank all of you for your help, your patience, your drive, and your enthusiasm for a project that didn’t quite get off the ground. Of course I wish I had more to show for my efforts, but, mainly, I wish there were more to show for yours.

I don’t see this is a failure in itself. With better management I think something like this could work extraordinarily well. Those who did pledge obviously saw something in the project, and in your titles specifically. People out there wanted to read what you had to say. People out there looked at your summaries and thought, “That sounds great. I want to own that book. I want to help to make this happen.”

It’s not that there aren’t enough people out there to make this happen, or that not enough people wanted to read what you had to say. It’s that I (not we) failed to reach enough of those people.

In my estimation, there’s no stronger team of writers than the ones who are getting this email. I wish I had better news for them, but as great a start as we got off to (and it was legitimately great), I was unable to maintain that momentum. And I apologize.

I’ll be in touch with all of you, for sure. I’m not going anywhere, and I’d still love to work with each of you in some capacity. This project, for all the love and excitement behind it, just wasn’t the one that would work out. Maybe in the future we can give it another go, or come together to produce something even better.

But whatever it is, whatever it turns out to be, and whenever it happens, I’ll be sure that I can make use of your time more effectively.

It’s not a failure; it’s just something that didn’t happen. And things don’t happen all the time.

Here’s to the stuff that eventually does.

David Black
Over the next few days, we’ll be turning the spotlight over to the authors featured in the Arts in Entertainment series. This is your chance to meet them and get a sense of exactly why you’ll want to read their books. As of right now we are just over 25% funding, but we still have a ways to go! Every dollar helps make a great series a reality, so please support the Kickstarter today to help it come to life. Here’s David Black to tell you about his book on Pulp’s album This is Hardcore, and to give you a taste of just how great a series this will be.

What made you decide to pitch to this project?

I like Phil. I like the cut of his jibe. He has good jib, but he has better jibe. When Phil has an idea that isn’t ALF-related, you really want to be a part of it. I was attracted to the project in part initially by what he didn’t want. He wasn’t looking for people to write for a perceived market. Neither was he concerned with something being particularly popular or zeitgeisty. As someone who has never been fashionable, this struck me as a very refreshing attitude. He just wanted people to write about what they love. “Write about what you know” has become a very well-worn cliché, but how often do you get to write about what you love?

How quickly did you decide on your subject?

Really, really quickly. Then, I second guessed myself and came up with three more potential ideas and pitched two of them, all the while hoping against hope that Phil would choose This is Hardcore over the others. Ultimately, Phil asked me which one I wanted to write and there was no contest.

What was it about your subject that stood out to you?

I’m not sure if This is Hardcore is my favourite Pulp album, because such things change daily, but in many ways it is their most significant album to me. It’s the first Pulp album I bought on release and crucially it came out when I was sixteen. My associations with the album are tied up with that part of my life. This book is as much about being sixteen as it is about 69 minutes and 49 seconds of the best post-Britpop art rock ever heard.

Pulp have a long and tortured history with many different line-ups and record labels, so despite the fact that this is their sixth studio album, there is an argument for saying this is their Difficult Second Album.

Every time I listen to the album, I’m reminded of what could have been. A parallel reality in which the album was lauded, applauded and rewarded. Its singles all went top ten, its cultural significance was assured and the Spice Girls all bled to death in a debtor’s prison.

What do you hope a reader will take away from your book?

That something which struggles to find its audience in the broader sense can still be hugely important to the individual. I’m hoping that people who liked This is Hardcore will join my rallying cry calling for its reappraisal. I’m hoping that those who didn’t enjoy it upon release are willing to give it another chance. I want those that have never heard it to give it try.

Your book in seven words:

Come share this golden age with me.

Nathan Rabin

Over the next few days, we’ll be turning the spotlight over to the authors featured in the Arts in Entertainment series. This is your chance to meet them and get a sense of exactly why you’ll want to read their books. As of right now we are just over 25% funding, but we still have a ways to go! Every dollar helps make a great series a reality, so please support the Kickstarter today to help it come to life. Here’s Nathan Rabin to tell you about his book on I’m Still Here, and to give you a taste of just how great a series this will be.

What made you decide to pitch to this project?

After I finished You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me I had one goal in mind: to write a book that would be even more grotesquely self-indulgent and personal, and appeal to an even tinier niche audience than You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me, my non-best-selling, non-award winning book about Phish, Insane Clown Posse and my 37th nervous breakdown. Since the beginning of my career, I have strived to make all of my writing all about me. It’s been an uphill struggle, given the public’s intense disinterest in my life, both personal and professional, but I have somehow managed to publish two memoirs (2009’s The Big Rewind and 2013’s You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me) intersecting my perpetually downward spiraling brain and the weird-ass pop culture that obsesses me. So I jumped at the opportunity to really delve deep into a movie that I think is one of the most important and insightful and relevant movies of the past decade, and a movie whose shadowy, murky depths haven’t really been explored.

How quickly did you decide on your subject?

Surprisingly quickly. Maybe it was because I was in a particularly vulnerable state when I first saw I’m Still Here — pinballing around the country following Phish in the summer of 2011 and trying to write a book I was half-convinced would be the death of me, or at least spell the end of my career — but the movie resonated with me in a way few films (or other pieces of pop culture, for that matter) have. I related to it on an only unhealthy level, and I see this book as being something of a follow-up or companion piece to You Don’t Know Me, that explores the same set of experiences from a different angle and with even more candor than before.

What was it about your subject that stood out to you?

This is a film that combines just about all of my obsessions in one bizarre, tricky little box full of dynamite: hip hop, celebrity, drugs, sex, madness, ego, celebrity, comedy, post-modernism, anti-comedy, method acting, David Letterman, Diddy, the purposeful and deliberate blurring of fact and fiction and much more. It’s a film that Phoenix seemingly made only to satisfy his wandering, erratic muse but it also feels custom-made for my particular brand of unconscionably personal, broad-view criticism.

What do you hope a reader will take away from your book?

At the very least, I’d like readers to come away with a renewed appreciation for the film and for the audacity Phoenix has shown throwing himself into such a tricky, bizarre and all-consuming project. Phoenix has always been a favorite of mine but I think with I’m Still Here he transcended being a mere actor convincingly saying other people’s lines and became something greater and stranger, a bona fide pop icon, perhaps the closest thing we have to Marlon Brando.

Your book in seven words:

Letting Joaquin Phoenix’s Madness Run With Mine

Futurama

Before I leave on vacation I like to post a little “Behave yourselves!” notice. Not that you don’t…it’s just that I won’t be around for a week to monitor posts, so try not to get angry at each other. If you do get mad at someone, track them down in real life and beat them up so we can keep Noiseless Chatter civil!

Also, if you notice any spam while I’m gone, trust me; I’ll clean it up the moment I get back. Don’t respond to it, please, because that makes it more difficult to delete after the fact.

So far, so similar-to-every-vacation-message-I’ve-ever-posted.

But that changes here! Because I’m not going to apologize for the lack of content; I’ve got loads of stuff locked and loaded, so stick around and enjoy! That includes new ALF reviews and the conclusion to Trilogy of Terror on Halloween, with a look at The World’s End.

It also includes Arts in Entertainment author spotlights, so check those out, and please pledge to make this series a reality and get copies of these books for yourself. The Kickstarter is right here, and we still have a long way to go. Every single dollar helps, but for just a little bit more you can make out with a book or two as well. Thank you to everyone who has pledged…please help us make this a reality. Time is running out!

Speaking of Arts in Entertainment, we’ve added a potential seventh title as a stretch goal: journalist, game reviewer, and all-around great man Cody Muzio will be writing about the legendary SNES port of Street Fighter II. The best part: if we hit the stretch goal, everyone who pledges for the full-series subscription ($35 or above) will receive this book as well; they won’t pay anything more for the seventh book. It’s a way to make a great deal even better.

You can read more about that title on the Kickstarter page, and pledge as well. Remember, you don’t get charged a dime unless we are fully funded, and not until November 15 at the soonest. So if you’re waiting for payday…don’t! Pledge what you can to help the series come to life, and you won’t be charged until and unless it does.

And, finally, my destination: sunny, silvery, gaudy Las Vegas! If I hit it big, rest assured I’ll pull down the Kickstarter and finance the thing myself. Of course, I only allow myself one pull on the nickel slots, so let’s not bank on that, exactly.

One of the things I’ll be doing in Vegas is shooting host segments for this year’s third-annual Xmas Bash!!! Stay tuned for more details on that; we’ll be picking dates and times soon.

Once again, you’ll have an opportunity to donate directly to The Trevor Project. Once again, it won’t be mandatory, but I hope you’ll consider doing so. It’s a charity that’s dear to my heart, and if we can turn a night of hilariously bad television and brilliantly funny commentary into something positive for an organization that does so much for those who feel like they have nowhere else to turn…well, frankly, that would mean the world to me.

So I’ll be back, little ones. And you’ll be missed. Enjoy the place while I’m away, and replace any of the booze you drank with tap water. I’ll never notice!

Zachary Kaplan

Over the next few days, we’ll be turning the spotlight over to the authors featured in the Arts in Entertainment series. This is your chance to meet them and get a sense of exactly why you’ll want to read their books. As of right now we are just over 25% funding, but we still have a ways to go! Every dollar helps make a great series a reality, so please support the Kickstarter today to help it come to life. Here’s Zachary Kaplan to tell you about his book on Synecdoche, New York, and to give you a taste of just how great a series this will be.

What made you decide to pitch to this project?

When I signed on to the project, I had no idea the path my life would take. Synecdoche, New York had always meant a lot to me. I’d always been a diehard fan of Charlie Kaufman’s work; his sense of humor and unique style seemed to meld a bleak, anxiety-prone outlook with a sense of pushing through the morass, of achieving a true, genuine happiness. When I saw Synecdoche for the first time, I bawled through most of it — in part because I had recently lost my grandfather. When I saw it a second time, I was struck by how my opinion of the film’s message differed so greatly from my friend’s; I saw something of a cautionary tale, the idea of caring too much about what other people think dooming oneself to perish at the foot of an impossible ideal, so stop caring and live for yourself. She saw a damning condemnation of others, an upsetting rejection of the outside world. This dichotomy intrigued me, and these thoughts in general inspired me to take the opportunity to write at length about what had become one of my favorite films.

Then, after signing up for the project, my mother committed suicide. And every idea in the film, every message, every scene became a statement about life, death and grief; specifically, my life, her death and the grief of myself and my family. The film became a statement about what suicide is, what life is, what death is, and everything in it seemed to eerily apply to my situation. I recognized that I was not thinking completely rationally — that’s what grief is, after all. But I felt intimately connected to the film through this process.

I hope that by channeling this grief through the film, I will be able to understand my mother and her suicide, to help myself regain the optimism that this terrible event shattered, and to speak to others who have gone through situations like mine in a way that could help them understand their own grief and pain. And perhaps I’d help prevent a few suicides in doing so, in being brutally honest about this process and how I reached this point. It’s this brutality that attracted me to the movie — the raw, unfiltered look at what life is, what death is, and why we go on. It’s this brutality that once gave me a renewed optimism just as it shook my friend in a negative way. And it’s this brutality that I must channel if I hope to continue as a part of this world and get stronger as I go. Because in the wake of a suicide, you see the rawness of the world as it really is. And there is only one way forward: through it.

How quickly did you decide on your subject?

It took me perhaps a week of mulling over different movies and such that I could write about before I decided on Synecdoche. I have no idea how I picked such an apt film for my situation, but there it is.

What was it about your subject that stood out to you?

If I could see a film and feel uplifted while my friend could see the same film and feel incredibly depressed, I knew that there was something complex there worth exploring. It touched me in ways that I had yet to fully understand, and it resonated with my worldview in a way that few things do.

What do you hope a reader will take away from your book?

I hope that when someone reads my book, they will be able to view the world in a way that helps them get meaning out of it in the way that I get meaning out of it. As an atheist, I must turn to the stark reality of life itself to find the optimism needed to get me through the dark times. And with times as dark as they are now, I feel like I can fully pull out the meaning behind my perspective a way that I never could before. This film resonates so deeply with this perspective that I can think of no greater tool to guide me through the darkness. If you could call my struggle a test of my faith, then I’d see this film as my Bible.

I know there are others out there like me. I know that there are others whose worldviews, atheistic or otherwise, can work as a double-edged sword the way that mine does. I know that there are others who see the world as I do, and who will hopefully gain perspective that I have gained and will continue to gain as I complete this work. I hope that I come out on the other end a more complete person, and that others can use my book as a guide to help themselves do so as well. A tome for those who can only see the world in a stark, bleak light, and how that light doesn’t have to be so stark or bleak. And I hope very much that it helps those who are considering suicide. I hope that it helps them realize that there is a point to staying here with us, in the living world. I hope to show my readers the beauty in the sadness. I hope to save lives.

Your book in seven words:

Excavating grief in search of life’s essence.

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