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I wrote me these suckers, too.


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What's new? Wussie: In Praise of Spineless Men now available in paperback! Our long national nightmare is over!

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October 5, 2014

Hey There





Left: Random internet girl providing reasonable facsimile of Neela Cubbage.
Right: The doomed


I had great plans to write about The Fappening and was seven hundred words into an incisive, funny take on the topic in my unique idiom before coming to grips with the fact that my take was neither incisive nor funny. Also, everything I wanted to say on the topic seemed sure to reveal me as impossibly old and sleazy and out of touch.

So now it’s Feed the Beast time again, blog-updating-wise, and I have bupkis...

* * *

When I was in the third year of high school, Neela Cubbage let me drive her home after we got off work at The Corner Kitchen one Thursday night, and proved amenable to my suggestion that we stop at the park and make out on the grass. To my surprise and delight, she also proved agreeable to my squeezing her enormous jubblies, albeit through her waitress uniform.

I can’t say that this incident sparked my obsession with Neela’s jubblies, since that obsession dated back to the dawn of said jubblies’ existence, but the tantalizing bytes of data gleaned from the Hillside Park Groping certainly thrust that obsession into a higher gear. So it was not at all surprising to find myself in the throes of a vivid dream a few weeks later wherein Neela was disrobing in front of me. But when she unfastened and slid off her bra, what tumbled forth was not jubblies but a pair of monstrous, hairy peckers. Neela laughed. I wanted to scream, but could only choke.

I’ve never confided that dream to anyone before, other than Doug Wartburg, who reacted with disgust and anger, as the telling of this dream instantly compromised his own ability to cheerfully contemplate Neela’s jubblies from that day forward.

Say, you don't suppose those big hairy peckers, showing up where highly anticipated jubblies were supposed to be, contain any symbolic meaning, do you? Like, some sort of repressed emotion or desire or... Nah...

Nah...

* * *

I don’t know, it’s just… I can’t get past the fact that they would willingly entrust their most intimate photos—photos that, surely they must have realized, would be sought after and prized by thousands of industrious hackers—to something called a “cloud.” Is that just me?

* * *

A few years after high school, there was a party out at the State Park on a cool autumn night at which Doug Wartburg overindulged, as was his wont, and slid down a muddy riverbank.

Around midnight, some friends kindly heaved him into the back of a pickup truck and dumped him at the Wartburg estate, a three-story Civil War-era home in the old part of Mortonville. Doug had the presence of mind to enter by way of the cellar, where he stripped off his mud-caked clothes and hosed himself off. Then he began the long, naked trudge to his room on the top floor.

Embers glowed invitingly in the fireplace on the main floor, inducing Doug to lie down on the carpet for a few minutes. Several hours later, a hideous nails-on-blackboard screech rousted him, and he awoke to find himself sprawled on his back, still naked, with a mammoth morning stiffy pointing directly at his mother, screaming down at him from a stairway landing.

She descended just long enough to order Doug to his feet and then chased him up the remaining two flights of stairs “with my pecker boingin’ up and down every step of the way,” he fondly recalled. Doug was the only man I ever knew who could incorporate his boner and his mother into a story without a jot of self-consciousness.

* * *

Sure, they’re victims. That’s undeniable. And you can’t help but empathize. I’ve got photos and facts that I wouldn’t want aired to the world. (Quite a statement from an author of four books consisting mostly of stories of his own ineptitude and jackassery, but yes, even I have stuff that I don’t want leaking out.) But there are different levels of victimhood. It’s not like that poor sportscaster lady who got filmed unknowingly through the peephole of her hotel room a few years back.

Say there’s a person who has her handbag snatched away in broad daylight in a normally quiet neighborhood because the zombie apocalypse has suddenly broken out, and another who loses her handbag because she left it unattended on her table at Starbucks while going to the restroom… Does that make any sense?

* * *

For a giddy nine months or so late in our college careers, Nielsen and I were housemates. I never pass up the opportunity to point out that we were evicted from two homes and one hotel during that period.

One cold, rainy day in early autumn we elected to cut classes and/or work and stay home all day huddling around the bong. At one point, we broke out Nielsen’s electric football set and managed to stick with something like an actual game—even using that damned awkward passer-gizmo—for a good ten minutes or so before we decided to crank the power all the way up and just watch the players skitter around the field like little plastic meth-heads.

Then, in one of his signature strokes of genius, Nielsen brought his lighter to bear. We provided the howls of agony as best we could while laughing our stoned heads off as player after player scrambled in circles, aflame and melting.

About three weeks later the squirrely bastard dropped out of school to start a house-painting business in another town, and told me so by leaving a note. He left me his waterbed, which was more trouble than it was worth.

* * *

When the world economy was shaken by those Scarlett Johansson selfies a while back, one did feel a tad skeevy about making use of them. There was a sense that a rumpled, half-asleep Scarlett just snapped a couple of awkward nudes for her hubby on the spur of the moment to console him over the lameness of his superhero vis-à-vis hers.

Jennifer Lawrence, in contrast… Oh, for crying out loud, Michael Bay could learn a thing or two about production values from the careful crafting that Jennifer Lawrence brings to her own nudes. It’s hard not to feel at ease viewing the fruits of so much labor. Indeed, seems downright rude to ignore them.

Or is that just me?

* * *

As roommates, we were great note-writers, Nielsen and I. “A life-form named John Fleischer wishes to have nonsexual contact with you,” I wrote him once to his great delight: evidently, there was something about this Fleischer—one of his superiors at work—that jibed especially well with “nonsexual contact.”

“Muggins, I shit long, brown, greasy ones in your peanut butter and mixed them in,” he countered a few days later.

Those were simpler times, before Ebola and Fappenings.






September 22, 2014

Off-Season TV Reviews





Lili Simmons in one of her over-dressed moments from Banshee.
OK, if this doesn't raise the hit count around here, then I'm just giving up..



Reader, how have you been? And how have you been coping with the recent paucity of posts on this site, coinciding, as it has, with the off-seasons of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones? Hard times, these.

Me, I’ve whiled away the summer months in book-editing mode. As evidence, I cite two new additions to the Josh Muggins family: the ebook version of Summer of Marv (heretofore available only as a paperback) and the paperback edition of Wussie: In Praise of Spineless Men, which should be on sale by the end of the month. As always, Kudos to Gary for re-working his own excellent covers to fit the new formats.

There was also fulfilling progress on the entirely new book, but we’re not going to get to a release in these waning days of my summer vacation from school. It will have to wait until the semester ends in February, I suppose. To do otherwise would risk flooding the market with Mugginsabilia. Think of the children.

So we have managed to stay fairly productive around here, which was good, because otherwise the aforementioned lack of The Walking Dead would have been that much harder to cope with. And I have to tell you, if I don’t see a bunch of moldy people eating another person’s face off soon, I may slip so far into withdrawal that I start eating my own. (After which, I could tell Mr. Spotswoode that yes, I have seen everything.)

While we stagger through this zombieless desert, I’ve been nibbling on a buffet of lesser fare, and will now give you my capsule reviews.


Banshee (Cinemax)

Concept: Ex-con tracks his old girlfriend to a lawless little Pennsylvania town, where he assumes the identity of the newly appointed sheriff after the luckless fellow conveniently drops dead in front of him, and then sets about keeping the peace via bone-crushing violence. And tits.

Where I’m at: End of Season 2

In case you didn’t know, Banshee is the new Spartacus, mainly in the sense that it offers a comparably high batting average in showing you the naked attributes of actresses whom, upon seeing for the first time, you find yourself thinking, “Hmm, I would very much like to see her naked attributes.” (Alas, no equivalent of Spartacus’s famed Arena Tits
TM.) Banshee ticks most of the other Spartacus boxes, too, including:

* Gladiator-ish combat.
“Sheriff Hood” dispatches the robbers who offed Sheriff Hood, an MMA prizefighter, a couple of locally notorious white trash thugs, and a motorcycle gang, and that’s just in the first five episodes. The violence isn’t as giddily graphic as that of Spartacus—I can recall only one measly decapitation. In Spartacus, you might have three before the opening theme finished.

* Miraculous recoveries from fatal wounds.
Again, there’s nothing in Banshee quite comparable to that time Spactacus’s frenemy Crixus was gutted like a fish by a psychotic giant and spurted out enough blood to flood the Overlook Hotel, but was cleared for a return to action six episodes later. But we are treated to a flashback of how Sheriff Hood developed his survival skills after a lethal beating in prison; to the heroine staggering out of the ICU to shoot her own father; and to that thoroughly shot father reemerging in fine fettle the following season.

* Cast catered by the International House of Nobodies
The male and female leads are from New Zealand and Croatia. The villains are a Danish guy playing a fallen Amish and a British guy playing a Ukranian.

Verdict: My go-to show when I’m up to my fourth beer and need mindless entertainment that’s sure to include tits.


Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Concept: Privileged white chick expands her cultural horizons, get funbags squeezed by strangers during a prison term for abetting drug trafficking.

Where I’m at: Middle of Season 2

As you might imagine, I’ve been a major enthusiast of the women-in-prison genre going back to the heyday of Linda Blair, so I was not about to be deterred from this show by the threat of having my consciousness raised. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to notice that, yes, I am gaining a broader perspective on demographics about which I had been woefully ignorant (transgender folks, for one), while these lessons are frequently sweetened by the aspects that drew me to the women’s prison setting in the first place.

Whereas Spartacus and Banshee tease you with fetching actresses (see photo above), Orange is the New Black surprises—and shames—the oversexed viewer by suddenly offering up the hooters of actresses that you never once fantasized about but who turn out to be remarkably hot once they wriggle out of those formless prison togs (c.f. toothless meth addict Pennsatucky, strutting tomboy Poussey), forcing you to analyze your prejudices in the midst of whacking off—which is not as easy as it sounds. And of course there is the notorious, steamy shower shared by star Taylor Schilling and (gasp!) Laura Prepon. Ball in your court, Mila Kunis.

Verdict: Some of the Season 2 episodes are starting to feel like a cavity search. The yearning among the guards and administrators to connect as friends, the Hispanic faction’s tenuous hold on the cafeteria franchise, the rivalry for control of the black market...these are among the especially tedious threads. More social enlightenment leavened with competing lesbians, please.


The Leftovers (HBO)

Concept: Three years after the unexplained disappearance of 2 percent of the world’s population (including Gary Busey and the Pope), residents of a small New York town cope by either moping around or joining a creepy silent cult.

Where I’m at: Halfway through Season 1

"Damon Lindelof as showrunner + HBO = A large Lost-like ensemble cast crammed with really hot actresses whom we’ll get to see naked for a change."

That formula was the lure that got me to bite on this one. So far, by my count, one floppy scrotum has constituted the sum total of Things We Couldn’t Have Seen on Lost. Jesus, Lindelof—at least Lost gave us wet chicks mud-wrestling.

Verdict: At this point, my interest is on life support and could be Raptured at any moment. The Leftovers is chucking just enough intriguing characters (the Asian-chick-obsessed Holy Wayne for one) and WTF moments (the stoning of a silent cult member and the government’s aggressive indifference to their persecution) to keep me chugging along. Hard to see my interest surviving once the zombies ride back into town, though.


Masters of Sex (Showtime)

Concept: Remember Masters and Johnson, the sex research pioneers? What if they and their colleagues and research subjects led soap-operish lives, and all got naked sometimes?

Where I’m at: Halfway through Season 2.

A few months ago, someone at either Slate or Salon began a review that I can no longer find by asserting something like “No one watches Masters of Sex for the sex.” Ahem. Excuse me, unknown writer whom I’m probably misquoting, but I beg to differ. The abundance of nudity and writhing was the primary fuel propelling me through the first season and well into the second.

This show shares with Banshee that compelling “You’ll get to see everyone naked sooner or later” vibe that will keep someone of my ilk tuning in. True, the estimable Caitlin FitzGerald—playing the frustrated Mrs. Masters—has yet to show us the goods, but I’m confident that peer pressure will wear her down. For Pete’s sake, even Allison Janney has bravely done her part.*

Apart from that trait, there is little else Banshee-like about Masters of Sex. It does, however, share the Sophomore Slump Syndrome of Orange is the New Black cited earlier. The writer I misquoted above was making the point that, to her thinking, it’s the characters and subplots that sustain the viewers, along with quality acting and writing (five Emmy noms) and period-piece prestige. And yes, some of the characters do stir one’s sympathy, notably the gay guy trapped in the Fifties (and in wedlock with Allison Janney) played by Beau Bridges. But…

Verdict: I take a hard line toward shows that front-load nudity into their early episodes to hook people like me (see my thoughts on Rome here) and then leave us flaccid for seasons on end. Tell me it isn’t so, Masters of Sex. Your characters are all hyped up about accumulating sexual data. I say you need to improve your BPE (boobs per episode) figure if you wish to continue to enjoy my custom.






* Muggins’ Law: It’s never a good thing when someone describes your nude scenes as “brave.”