I once attended a writer’s meetup which slowly devolved into a relationships-complaining meetup. The writers there happened to be having relationship problems so we talked about them. After sitting and listening to the kinds of problems they were having with their relationships, I started to notice a pattern--people were getting into bad relationships that I thought were avoidable. And while most everyone claimed to be able to see the problems with their partners, still remained involved for some reason.
As I listened to these people talking about their awful relationships, a lot of things went through my mind. Chief among them: are these people staying in bad relationships out of scarcity or what? Scarcity is when someone believes they have limited dating options such that they inadvertently behave in a way that actually does limit their dating options. They turn the opposite sex off, in other words.
MORE LIKE THEM THAN YOU REALIZE
If the people at the meetup were describing their partners accurately, I was amazed how they were able to maintain a relationship at all. I heard the term “narcissistic” used more than once to describe them. A narcissist needs constant attention. It seems some narcissists believe everyone is like them as well because will give you undo praise and attention if you let them. Unfortunately, this priase and attention must be repaid in full. If you have confidence you don’t need or want their praise though.
If you find yourself continually being drawn into these little dramas, then you should look in the mirror because you’re probably more like them than you realize.
Inspiration & Belief
While science has all but replace the dark arts of antiquity like alchemy and witchcraft, we here at Dark Arts Publishing still believe the name has relevance. And that a new, and different, kind of modern-age dark arts still exists but that yet lie dormant in the hearts of unique men.
To practice this new order of Dark Arts, one must properly cultivate their cynicism of the modern world. And as an important first step, must understand that cynicism lies somewhere below paranoia but above trusting; is not Nihilism but rather closer to distain; and often begins as a nagging feeling you sometimes get when, and after meeting new people for the first time, soon find you dislike them a great deal.
Opinion There are five possible ways of dealing with the harsh realities of life. They are: alcohol and/or drugs (prescription or otherwise), melodrama (bullshit, really), ignorance, religious practice, and our personal favorite,—writing.
Writing offers a special kind of release that doesn't necessarily involve drugs but that allows the author to place the drama where it belongs: on the printed page.
Our main focus is on publishing books and stories that satirize and, often, criticize culture and human behavior. Submissions can be anywhere from biographical nonfiction to complete bullshit.
Problems with the name
We here at Dark Arts realize that, by calling our company Dark Arts, it may be confused with publishers that publish fantasy and/or other supernatural themes. And while we’re not opposed to publishing in those genres, we recommend your work at least be somewhat critical of human nature, groups of people, and (hopefully) all other ethnicities from that of your own for whatever genre you're writing in.
“The knight rode up to the hitching post in front of the old village tavern. A wishing well nearby had an odd smell to it. A sign out front read: ‘curb your horse’. But the sign must have gone unheeded because there were huge piles of shit everywhere and on the grass too. Suspecting elves were to blame, the knight tries to apprise the tavern manager of the of the situation but the manager ignores him because he'd been placed under a spell by wicked elves ...”
Extended core value
Another foundational principle here at Dark Arts is that we will literally do anything for money. In fact, we just recently published a series of legal disclaimers because the law firm paid us a good chunk of change to do it. Below is an excerpt.
"Proper use and handling instructions of the "Shake weight" must be adhered to at all times. Avoiding physical harm to "person" or "persons" or damages to the Shake Weight itself, is the sole responsibility of the owner. Common hazards to watch out for are: (1) punching one’s self in the face after losing control of the Shake Weight because you misused the Shake Weight. (2) possible sexual arousal achieved by men close by with the potential of them raping you because you used the Shake Weight in a provocative manor. [A "provocative manor" may consist of using the Shake Weight as per the instructions on the back of the Shake Weight].
If the user in question accidentally sits on the Shake Weight, do not panic. Simply relax your sphincter and depress the emergency shutoff button on the bottom of the Shake Weight [...]"
Thank you for your interest in Dark Art Publishing
If you’ve moved around as much as I have, you know how difficult it can be to find a new barber or hair stylist. I’ve probably moved at least 7 times over the course of my life and each time I struggle with this same problem. And while there’s plenty of technology and other things around I’m sure could help me out, I never usually think about it until it’s basically too late and I’m now looking like Don Henley circa 1972.
I recently moved again and found myself in this situation one Saturday. Luckily, I had woken up extra early so theoretically had plenty of time to find a place, make an appointment or even get a walk-in spot. But instead of prioritizing, I procrastinated until nearly 12PM. Finally I stopped what I was doing long enough to notice how my thick growth and massive hair sideburns started making me look like some bad Elvis impersonator. So I shut my computer and decided to get dressed.
CORPORATE CHOP SHOP
At about 1:00PM I began making my way over to Supercuts. I didn’t really want to go to Supercuts. But at this late hour, I didn’t feel I had a choice. The quality at these franchises is barely suitable for kids let alone adults that perhaps care about their appearance. I had gone to this store before. And while I was happy with my haircut at the time, it was during off-peak hours. Not that I’m all that fussy about my hair anyway. And so long as the cut is reasonably even, and absent of visible tuffs of hair sticking out anywhere, I’m generally okay with it.
The time I’d gone previously was in the middle of the week and in the middle of the day when they were slow. Otherwise they probably would have rotated me out inside of five minutes, paying little to no attention to the long sprouts of golden hair jutting from my ear lobes like some kind of wild, grassy meadow.
I walked in and the girl at the desk took my name. I stood for a minute in the waiting area. But suddenly changed my mind after noticing a line of kids coming towards me with haircuts that looked like a blind person did them.
LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED
My only option now was to try and find a local, independently-owned hairdresser. But first I was hungry so got something to eat at Panera Bread. After eating, I started driving around town looking for something. I knew there were a few high-end-looking places close by to where I lived—walking distance really—but never went in to avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation requiring me to immediately leave after hearing the price for a man’s haircut. I didn’t want to pay more than 20 dollars for a haircut. Why should I pay more? I think 20 bucks is more than fair for what I wanted.
I finally convinced myself to stop at a joint that had a barber’s poll out front. But when I got inside the girl greeting me said I needed to sign up for a membership. A membership? Where were the old men cutting hair since WWII and using straight-razors to shave the backs of other old guy’s necks? Not here apparently. The deal was, for 38 dollars a month, I got one haircut and discounts on manicures, pedicures and other spa treatments. Just based on this story so far you can probably imagine what happened next.
JIM LONGS UNISEX SALON
As I got back into my car again, I recalled seeing a few places on the main drag near Morris Avenue. So I hightailed over there. A small place on the corner looked promising but when I got inside, no one spoke English. What were the odds of me getting what I wanted out of this place?
Back in my car again, I pulled into the parking lot of an establishment with a sign out front that read: “Jim longs unisex salon”. As fantastic a name as that sounded on the outside, wasn’t nearly as exciting on the inside for some reason. But it looked inexpensive and approachable so I decided to give it a try. Upon entering I saw all the barbers were busy with customers already. And with at least 4 other people still waiting, I figured I’d be there for a while. As it turned out, one of the customers was actually a barber. He saw me walk in and immediately ushered me over to his hair station.
WHERE WERE HIS CUSTOMERS?
There were three other customers waiting before me. So why wasn’t he servicing them, I wondered? But I stopped trying to answer this question after he'd adjusted the height of my chair and laid a hospital gown over my body. He then finished his preparation by wrapping my neck with toilet paper. He asked how I wanted my hair cut and I told him: “a number 3 on the sides and short with the scissors on top, please”.
DON’T JUDGE A BOOK
He went over to his station, opened a drawer and started going through it. It appeared he didn’t know where anything was because he was messing about like he didn’t know where anything was. It took him a minute to find what he was looking for but after that everything was fine. Actually, it wasn’t fine at all because none of the clipping heads fit the electric razor he had and he seemed genuinely confused by this.
At about this time I was starting to take more of an interest of the inside of his drawer anyway. It was pretty disgusting actually, with hair and filth everywhere and looking like it hadn’t been cleaned in a week. After witnessing the filthy drawer, I started to get nervous. And the more he fiddled with his equipment the more I suspected that he didn’t know what the hell he was doing. One would think that a man of his age and experience would have all the ancient, barber wisdom necessary to cut hair with the same ease that most people can turn a door knob. I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover. At least I knew then why none of the other customers were letting him cut their hair. Would you let a disgusting slob that couldn’t even manage to affix a number three clipper to the head of a razor cut your hair?
Finally I had seen enough. I threw the barbers robe from my body, yanked the toilet paper off my neck, got up and told the guy: “actually, I changed my mind”. I felt a little bad when his head slumped slightly and he replied “are you sure?” I’d never been so sure about something in my entire life, actually. I existed quickly and didn’t look back.
Figuring I had just avoided a potentially brutal, imprecise butchering and a severe case of head lice, I felt relieved.
HOME SWEET HOMEAt this point I’d pretty much exhausted any or all salons or haircutting places that didn’t require an appointment, I did the only thing I could think of to do: drove all the way to my home Town of Berkeley Heights and paid 28 dollars at Hair Art.
Here’s a health tip for all you gym rats that have limited time during the week: start going to the gym on your lunch break. I started going during lunch a few months ago and ever since have had more energy during the day than ever before. Of course, I had to join another gym near where I work for convenience, but it was totally worth the 20 extra bucks a month. One way to look at it is: what would you rather pay, 20 bucks a month or thousands in medical bills when something really serious happens because you let yourself go?
In addition to the workouts, I’ve stopped drinking coffee in the afternoon and, because I’m drinking lemon water as a substitute, haven’t had a craving for junk food before I leave work. I think lemon juice is an appetite suppressor along with aiding in digestion.
I try to make the most of my workout, so I don’t half-ass in there and I break a real sweat; as real, or more real, than even after work. Working out at lunch forces you to shorten your routine or, at least, go through it really fast which makes it more intense. But Instead of feeling tired and worn out, you will feel energized for the rest of the day.
When you first start going, you’ll probably feel hunger pains right around lunch. This is perfectly normal of course. But you can ignore those; because they will soon subside just as air is hitting your body on the way to the car.
Workouts suffer in the evening because, whether you realize it or not, you have less energy. Conversely, between the hours of 12 and 2 is when you’re at peak energy levels; and will have plenty left in the tank for the second half of the work day and beyond.
It may feel strange at first breaking your usual routine of sitting in the lunch room eating a cold turkey sandwich with no mayo but you’ll feel pretty fantastic if you can make this your new routine. So while familiarity is comfortable, and part of healthy living actually, it can also be stifling if too inflexible.
Since I started exercising at lunch, I've had to modify my work out for brevity. I used to use heavy weights and it would take a while to go through everything because I needed to rest between sets. But now I do a more intense, CrossFit-style regimen without much rest in between. Including: singlehanded strap pulls from the floor with a kettle bell in one hand, pushups, burpees or platform jumps, shoulder presses and, lastly, lat pulldowns on the machine. I do this circuit 3 times and I’m done. It may not sound like much, but if you do it fast enough, you’ll feel the burn.
Another benefit of this type of kinetic training over heavy weights is: the pain from the Bursitis in my elbow has subsided somewhat. There’s still swelling that probably won’t go away until I get it drained, but I can deal with an ugly, distended elbow for a while.
Okay so maybe you don’t have Bursitis. But if you don’t want to get it, or other injuries, stay clear of really heavy weights. I’m not saying stay away from free weights altogether; just make sure you mix it up.
Now when I get home from work, going to the gym is a pleasant option—yes I still go after work sometimes actually. But for those dreading the possibility of having to suck out an hour of your evening, this idea is for you.
A Ghost Story is, in a word, excellent.
I liked this film. I liked it so much in fact, I'm not going to disrespect it by give away the plot. So they’ll be no spoilers here.
There’s plenty of symbolism in this film that needs to be examined further. But without going into any detail, there were a couple scenes, in particular, that jumped out at me as being highly political. While difficult to say exactly what the director meant to imply without asking him, I have my opinion. But I won’t reveal that here because that would be giving away too much of the plot. So see the film and judge it for yourself.
Apart from any hidden meaning I thought the film may or may not have had, it evolved rather nicely from a simple love story to something much grander without losing the simplicity of the original story. So even though the film jumps around a little, you still feel the presents, pardon the expression, of a basic story of loss.
Ghost Story keeps you focused on the basics of what's important to the film--love, life, loss, the afterlife, and god perhaps without sounding preachy.
I was lucky, in that, I had the entire theater to myself since, presumably, everyone else went to see Dunkirk, which I’ve heard is great by the way. So if there was ever a time to cry in a theater, that was the time. Luckily for me, I don't do such things in public even if there's no public to be found. Augh! I guess I was in the mood for something different than a war movie that night and made the last-minute decision at the ticket booth.
One thing I’ve realized about love stories is, if done right, it doesn’t take many scenes to give the audience a sense of deep love between characters. The people that go to see these films definitely want to feel that connection. But it takes good direction and acting to give it to them. And I feel the director and actors definitely delivered on that here.
It’s a slow moving movie but probably the perfect length at just about an hour and a half so it doesn't feel drawn out and boring. Basically, the film appropriately gives you your sadness fix and then you get to go home.
I think anyone that enjoys a good non-traditional love story will like this film.
Since finishing my memoir The Other Side of town, the amount of writing I’ve been doing hasn’t decreased and in fact remains about the same. A word to aspiring authors: the writing doesn’t end after you’ve typed “the end” on the final page of your book. There are blog entries, media kits, countless tweets, Facebook posts just so you can get 10 people to visit your website or Amazon page. To date I’ve probably written 5 bios and maybe 4 book summaries to this end.
While writing one of my many book summaries, it occurred to me that, to the kids today, the 80’s were like the 50’s were to my generation.
The Channel you watch when You Only have basic cable
A couple days ago I turned on the television and an episode of The A-Team was on TV Land. Watching that show, I felt really old because the show now felt really old—the colors looked dull and the script felt canned in comparison with modern TV dramas.
My grandmother used to watch The A-Team with me as a kid. But she didn’t seem to mind the repetitive nature of the show and, coming from black and white I suppose, any color at all was probably a vast improvement. The fact that my grandmother also accepted the fact that thousands of rounds of ammunition were being fired but no one was being killed shows her ability to suspend disbelief.
The Show You Watch When you've lost the Remote
After the A-Team was over, I started to watch Bonanza next just to see how a 1950's show stacked up. I’ll be honest, and except for it being a western, the two shows felt equally old. Bonanza did have better writing than the A-team, I’ll admit. But even with its superior plot and dialog, I doubt I would have been able to sit through a whole episode as kid—the pace of the old western would have been far too slow for my young self I reckon.
No One Wants to Read a List of My Favorite Shows
In the book, I edited out any and all mention of television shows I used to watch because, in reality, who the hell wants to read about that stuff anyway? But thinking about it now, I believe the 80’s ushered in a whole new wave of empowered women on television after noticing how men started looking particularly stupid just as women’s station seemed to be markedly improved.
Back then Married with Children was the only show featuring a bumbling husband while today it’s every commercial and sitcom that’s broadcasted. Wow! Now I'm really dating myself. I still laugh at how, in his defeated state, Al Bundy gave money to the dog.
I think some of my fondest memories of television were when Rascals Comedy Hour aired on cable. I was pretty young, but my father basically looked the other way and let me watch even while Dice and Kinison cursed up a storm. Comedy has definitely changed as well. And I doubt for the better either. Just ask Chris Rock how many college campuses he plays now verses how many he used to play. And Rock is considered a contemporary too!
I remember watching Bob Nelson for the first time and thinking his act depicting a football team was hilarious. I doubt comedians can do anything like that act anymore. Or if they did, perhaps no one would laugh.