Well here we are. 2014 is here. The future has finally arrived. If our predictions from the mid-80’s had been correct, you would have been reading this blog via hijacked pirate signals broadcast from a cave made of polished skulls and bones that litter the landscape in the wake of mankind’s near total obliteration at the hands of the machines. Assuming, of course, Skynet really did become self-aware in 1997 and Judgment Day proceeded as planned. If not, then I suppose you might instead be taking a break from your job tracking down and killing replicants, receiving this transmission in glowing green 26 point Helvetica font on the screen of your factory-second hover car outside the Bradbury Apartments in New Japan. Or perhaps you would be piecing together a rudimentary receiving device using bloated CRT screens, circuit boards from decommissioned Pleasure-Bots, and discarded hologram files buried beneath a foot of ash in a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Unfortunately, our predictions from the cocaine-laden heyday of the 80’s were really no more accurate than those 30 years earlier, though the Cold War era fears of mankind destroying itself because of ideological differences remains just as plausible now as it did then. No, we’re not living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland dodging hiding from radioactive flesh-eating mutants. There are no hover cars or time machines. No phased plasma rifles in the 40-watt range. And tragically, no Pleasure-Bots.
Here’s what I think 2014 has in store for us:
Adult Entertainment: Much like the ill-fated youth in Logan’s Run, a generation of porn stars will reach the ripe old age of 29 and after having taken one final money shot to the eye, will face the most challenging dilemma of their lives: (a) continue to make mainstream adult films for a narrower audience featuring “mature women,” (b) branch out into more niche areas (e.g., dwarf porn), (c) venture into heretofore unexplored fetishistic realms (e.g., thalidomide babies), or (d) get a real job [see below].
Sports: At least four cities will lose controlling interest in their professional sports teams. Arguably the most controversial will be the hostile takeover of the Seattle Seahawks by a group of aggressive lobbyists for adorable pet videos on YouTube. Massive bribery allegations will shadow the renaming ceremony of CenturyLink Field to “Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdome” in late October. Other less scandalous but equally devastating changes include Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The home of the Crimson Tide will become the “Bustin’ Loose Bail Bonds Stadium.” Green Bay’s Lambeau Field will change its name to the “Piggly Wiggly Cottage Cheese Special Arena” and Candlestick Park in San Francisco will be christened the “Haight-Ashbury/Consumer Electronics Show Alternative Lifestyle Bowl.”
Popular Culture: Tattoo parlors nationwide will see a rise in the number of requests by single mothers for designs bearing the refrigerator artwork of their preschool-aged children. Justin Bieber will be raped by a service emu during a community service concert for psychiatric inpatients at Camarillo State Mental Hospital in California.
Automotive Technology: There will be two major advances in the automotive field from overseas. In early 2014, a team engineers from Mercedes Benz will develop a lightweight electrolytic fusion generator capable of converting any liquid into energy. Unfortunately, this will result in global traffic jams and an astronomical spike in road rage homicides and car crashes as travelers encounter gridlock while attempting to cross entire continents using little more than the sheen of sweat from a cooked bratwurst to fuel their vehicles. Japan will rise to the occasion later in the year, using Honda’s flagship plant in Saitama, Japan will introduce their revolutionary new “Inflate-A-Mate” air bags. Spokesman Ko Katayama will describe the protective measures as “porn person inspired love mates of air and plastic for super companions when crash condition occur.”
Politics – A rash of mass shootings in the south and mid-west will result in a further relaxation of gun laws in five states. Arizona, Vermont, Kentucky, and Georgia will enact sweeping legislation repealing all remaining regulations regarding firearms and Texas will enact ESSB 4452, which will require all legal residents above the age of neonate to have an assault rifle surgically attached to their dominant arm. Oregon will legalize heroin.
Personal Goals: As for me, I am not so out of touch with reality that I don’t recognize the need for greater personal growth and in that vein I would like to make the following resolutions related to my career: (1) I will make an effort to use more professional language in my psychological evaluations and not rely so heavily on the use of profanity and emoticons; (2) I will contribute more to office potlucks than individual packets of Arby’s Sauce and cocktail straws; and (3) I will try not to remember not to write “Suck It” in the subject line when responding to emails from attorneys requesting psychological testing on their clients.
So that’s it. All in all I think in the next twelve months we will continue its younger sibling’s work of slowly but surely eroding what remains of our collective sanity, but I remain cautiously optimistic that there will be some bright spots along the way. A few welcome respites from the steady stream of lunacy that has come to define the modern age. Hell, maybe we’ll even be privileged enough to experience something that might benefit all of humanity. Who knows? Maybe this will be the year Japan finally starts working on those damn Pleasure-Bots.
So this is how the next chapter in my life starts.
I’ve been working on this project off and on for about the last 15 years – more off than on, to be truthful – but it’s been present for over a third of my life in some form or another It started when I was in the clinical psychology program at the University of Texas at Austin. A fellow graduate student named Nina and I would periodically come up with haikus during seminars or those god-awful brown bag lunches we were forced to attend during our first two years of indentured servitude. Nina’s interests were in neuropsychological testing and she would periodically slide me a piece of paper with something like this written on it:
sneaks along white matter tracts
a thief in the night
I had no idea what it meant but I smiled because she was so damn smart and I could tell she was just tickled pink by it. Mine tended to be a bit more crass:
Dad’s fists shoved inside
his shiny new wood-chipper
“Merry Christmas, Mom!”
Or something equally arcane. Nina would look at it and smile, but at the time I don’t think she necessarily thought it was as funny as I did. Not that my Dad was abusive. Far from it, he was terrific. But something about the thought of some wife-beating husband watching his mitts reduced to a syrupy mess of powdered bone fragments and fine red particulate as they spewed from the chute of a trailer-mounted Brush Bandit 200 in a thick mist over a calm, snow-blanketed landscape to the horror of foraging squirrels struck me as downright comical.
At any rate, I came up with a new one every once in a while but didn’t really produce anything of substance during my time in grad school. Other than the cartoons I did under a pseudonym that got me in trouble with the Center for Students With Disabilities – but that is another story.
It wasn’t until I did my post-doctoral work that I really started to narrow my focus to criminal psychology. It started in Ohio where I completed my internship/residency. I worked in an unassuming brick building in downtown Toledo (“The Left Armpit of the Contiguous United States”) and my patients consisted primarily of post-release offenders who were required to take part in mental health treatment as a condition of their supervision or parole.
As a general rule, these were not happy folks and they would rather be doing anything other than seeing a shrink in training to address problems they didn’t want to admit they had. But since I was the new kid on the block, those were the clients I inherited. Oh, and the low-functioning sex offender group. That was fun. Let’s not forget them. All that and I got paid just shy of $800 a month with an agreement to not seek outside employment. Needless to say, this was not how I had imagined my life as a psychologist would begin.
However, some good did come out of my time in Ohio. For one thing, I was introduced to the world of forensic psychology in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. I worked on several of my most memorable cases there including “The Real Estate Developer Who Tried To Make His Wife’s Murder Look Like A Car Accident Despite The Fact That She Had Clearly Been Dead For At Least A Week When The Ambulance Showed Up” and “The Truck Driver Who Made A Snuff Film Of His Daughter’s Death From His Bedroom Closet And Then Blamed It On His Wife Even Though He Could Be Heard Masturbating In The Background.” More on these later, but for now the important point is that I had no real training up to that point in how to approach situations like these. Not clinically. Not rationally. Not emotionally.
And it was from seeing this very dark side of human behavior that PsyKu was ultimately born. The act of distilling these experiences into three lines and seventeen syllables imposed some structure on the chaos, absurdity, cruelty, and foreignness of the stories I encountered and eventually helped me (I think) to better understand them.
This book started off as little more than a collection of a few dozen scraps of paper that I shoved in my sock drawer with the intention of more formally compiling one day. Gum wrappers, cocktail napkins, returned checks, matchbook covers. None of them were safe from my desperate attempts to translate my thoughts into a coherent 5-7-5 syllable structure that contained some reference to the seasons.
And so over the years I came up with hundreds (maybe thousands) of these little nuggets. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them were just terrible when I looked at them objectively. What I had thought was insightful and clever when I first thought of them frequently made me groan out loud when I read them a couple of days later. But I kept at it, largely because writing continued to be therapeutic for me and it had the added bonus of being cheaper than vodka.
I was fortunate enough to work with several truly inspirational people. Andrew Wood is an absolutely incredible artist with a decidedly warped view of the world who agreed to put his particularly dark talents to work by turning some of the haikus into drawings. Allison M. Dickson, an established horror and fantasy writer and dear friend, was a constant source of advice, encouragement, and editorial support. Red Williamson, of Newspin Photography, was invaluable in helping me to conceptualize a business and marketing plan for the book and fueling my desire to keep writing. And Sekhmet Press publisher Jennifer L. Greene, who took a chance on me and brought PsyKu under her label.
Thank you to all of you and to everyone who has encouraged me to pursue this project. I hope it lives up to your expectations.
Solomon Archer, Ph. D.