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Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).

Help Me Raise Money For Suicide Awareness & Get Free Stuff!

That's me and Mike to the left, circa 1999. Mike was one of my first friends I ever had, very much raised as a brother to me. He lost his life to suicide nearly five years ago now, and while you learn to deal with loss as time goes on, it never really goes away — you're left with questions and loss and one big hole that will never ever get refilled. That's part of the reason that I'm so sensitive and vocal about mental health (aside from own struggles); because I know what that suffering is like on all sides, and I don't think anyone else should ever have to experience those things.

I had other friends who'd lost loved ones to suicide, but Mike's death was really the first time I was forced to deal with losing someone so directly close to me, and especially in such a way. Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with loss, I've gotten my fair of share of practice in these last five years, and Mike's wasn't the only one of those that could have (maybe, possibly) been helped, or stopped.

I could go on and on about this, but since suicide has recently been in the public eye, I've decided to do something different. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts walkathon fundraisers every year to raise money for research, education, and outreach programs about suicide. The Out of Darkness walk (as it's called) in my hometown is not just for Mike, but it is taking place right around the anniversary of his passing. I want to raise some money for the walk, in the hope that even though its too late to save my friends, it might make a difference in someone else's life, so that they don't have to suffer the same.

So here's the deal: I've put together a sweet little package of music and eBooks, all various things that I've created, and they can all be yours with a donation of any amount to the Hamden, CT Out of Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Society Prevention (Go Team Mikey).

All you have to do is click here to make your donation, and the download should start right away! (It's a pretty hefty ZIP file, because all the music is uncompressed)

Thanks in advance for your support. It means more to people than you realize, and I hope you enjoy your little rewards. Here's what you'll get:

eBooks:

  • Fixing a Hole, a one-act play about two friends and a hole at the end of the world. Mike lived for theatre, and shortly his death, I wrote this as a kind of elegy to him, and a reflection on our relationship.
  • EndProgram.txt, a darkly comedic (or maybe just sad) short story about the death of a robot. Originally written and conceived in the 5th week of the Clarion Writer's Workshop under the guidance of Kelly Link and Karen Joy Fowler. 

Music:

  • If You Really Want To Hear About It, the unreleased EP from my college band the Roland High Life. Six tracks, plus two bonus b-sides. Track 2, "Your Last Fall" was written before Mike's passing...but listening to it now, it feels frighteningly prescient.
  • Three new cover songs recorded especially for this occasion:
    • "The 59 Sound" by the Gaslight Anthem, changed to "The 69 Sound" in honor of the recording of Mike's beloved "Let It Be";
    • "I Was Meant For The Stage" by The Decemberists, one of Mike's favorite bands, this song could just have easily been written from his point of view, especially given how he had committed his life to theatre. At the reception following his funeral, some of Mike's friends played a haunting video of him singing this song at karaoke (my parents actually thought it was a song he had written). Recording this was the first time I've listened to this song since then;
    • and "You Were Cool" by the Mountain Goats, an unreleased track, with a few lyrical changes, as John's protagonist lives in his version of the song (also Mike wasn't really known for wearing high heels back in high school, although I did think about changing it to something like "stalking down the concrete hallways / in your tight jeans / back in high school," but then I didn't). Still, the lyrics remind me a lot of Mike growing up, and what I wish I could say to him now.


Jeff Mangum + John Malkovich = NEUTRAL MALKOVICH HOTEL

My friend Jeremy is one of the most wickedly funny people I know. His previous venture White Bored Funnies provided me with endlessly entertaining stick fingers for several years, and now he's outdone himself once again with one of those stupidly brilliant ideas that you hate yourself for not thinking of first (that is, if you're the kind of person with a similar sense of humor and taste of music as me).

Enter: NEUTRAL MALKOVICH HOTEL, my new favorite meme. Neutral Milk Hotel lyrics superimposed over screenshots from John Malkovich movies. It's like The Diaries of Anne Frank meets Being John Malkovich. It's everything I've ever wanted. 

He'll be adding more as he goes on, I'm sure, but you can check out the Neutral Malkovich Hotel tumblr right now for all your carrot flower needs.

That Is A Damn Fine Ice Bucket Challenge

I've mostly stayed out of the whole ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon, mostly because I'm ambivalent — it's clearly successful in raising awareness (although I don't know how much money it's actually raised, or how important that awareness is in the grand scheme), but I can also be a bit contrary and resistant to jumping on band wagons. (Mostly I just don't care to pour a bucket of ice water on my head or to offer some cleverly deconstruction of this voyeuristic online ritual, so I've resigned myself to leaving it alone, but I don't begrudge anyone who does choose to participate)

That being said, my friend Jason shared this link with me on Facebook, and it was just too good not to share. One of the earliest bonding experiences that Jason and I had as roommates back in 2008 involved David Lynch and a creepy dude Kristoff who had a lisp, an Asian fetish, and a weak stomach, so this felt particularly appropriate.

Also Vladimir Putin. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Dear Star-Lord: Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?

Continuing my apparently never-ending coverage of Guardians of the Galaxy for Tor.com, this week's article suggests some theories about the identity of Star-Lord's mysterious absent father, as alluded to at the end of the film (oops, sorry, spoilers). Check it out, and share your thoughts in the comments below!

Oh, and also, there's this:

You're welcome.

Joe Strummer's Original Handwritten Lyrics For "London Calling"

The late Joe Strummer would have been 62 years old today, and probably just as pissed off at the world as he ever was. To celebrate, here are his original handwritten lyrics for "London Calling."

The future's still unwritten, boyo.

The future's still unwritten, boyo.

And as a little added bonus, here's the Joe Strummer version of "London Calling" from the 2003 Grammy Awards, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello, and pretty much everyone else ever.

Why Men Shouldn't Be Allowed To Vote

Who says women's rights activists don't have a sense of humor? Judging from this satirical piece from 1915, posted on Twitter by iRevolt, suffragettes knew how to make a good joke.

Writer, poet, activist and general badass Alice Duer Miller outlines five (obviously tongue-in-cheek) reasons why men should not be afforded the right to vote. These reasons include the fact that "men are too emotional to vote" and "because a man's place is in the army." The piece was published in Duer Miller's 1915 book of satirical poetry, "Are Women People?" based off of her New York Tribune column.

Re-mixing the Awesome GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Mix

We all know I'm a sucker for a good remix / mashup, and in addition to appealing to the Vonnegut fan in me, DJ Kilgorian Tralfamadore has put together this sweet mashup version of the complete Guardians of the Galaxy "Awesome Mix #1" (which is also apparently the #1 album in America right now? Weird).

(Admittedly, some of the grooves are a little sloppy — but I'm pretty sure he pulled off my second-favorite off-beat sampling of "I Want You Back" after "Jump" by Kriss Kross)

Listen below, or you can also download the individual tracks legally on SoundCloud (hooray for Creative Commons remix rights!). There's also an infinite video loop of Dancing Baby Groot that you can watch because let's be honest, that's the cutest thing that any of us have seen in a while.

Infographic: the 30-Year Evolution of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Bleeding Cool shared this great look at how the Ninja Turtles have evolved over the years, from a parody of Frank Miller's gritty ninja noir obsessions to a kids' TV show to a....whatever the hell Michael Bay to them. 

(sadly, this chart does not include the ill-fated Star Trek Ninja Turtles line...)

To All The Pagliaccis of the World: You Are Not Alone and You Are Stronger Than You Know

I saw a lot of people sharing this monologue on social media, in light of the news of Robin Williams' passing. I thought I'd post the original pages, in case there's anyone out there who still doesn't get the joke.

Mr. Williams clearly had a profound effect on the lives of many people, and of course his death is tragic. But before you start thinking or talking about how that loss affects you personally, please consider the struggles of those like him who are suffering inside and don't know where to go for help. If you've ever lost a loved one to suicide, then you know how hard it is to keep going after that — dealing with all the questions that constantly flow through your head. If you yourself have ever dealt with depression on any level, then you know what that's like. If you haven't experienced either thing, well, then consider yourself lucky. No one should have to deal with that — but unfortunately, many of us do.

I'll leave you now with an excerpt from Matt Fraction's tumblr. Matt is a comic book writer that I often enjoy, and last October, someone asked him:

Sorry to put this on you but I have an honest question about depression an suicide. Isn't it completely possible for it to be a alternative for someone. Can't there be someone out there who genuinely is tired and doesn't want to continue. I know there is beauty and wonderful things in this world. There are things to look forward to. There will be more pain but also more laughter. But what if I'm not interested?

To which Mr. Fraction replied:

well… well first off, i’d say, seek professional help immediately. because i am wildly unqualified to answer your question with anything but experience. and first off, my experience says, if you are in such a deep and dark place where you say things like this to total strangers on the internet, you need to be in contact with someone that can help you start to heal.

second, i’d say… you’re wrong. i’d say the things any of us don’t know, especially about tomorrow, could blanket every grain of sand on every beach of the world with bullshit. And to simply assume you are done tomorrow because you are done today is a mistake. a factual mistake, an error, a critical miscalculation.

[...]

And i’d say — i’d say i felt that way before too, and i was wrong.

And then i’d tell you something i don’t even think my wife knows. this happend years before we met — shit, more than a decade — and it’s not   the first time i came close to suicide was on a thanksgiving night. i’d eaten well and then as the house shut down i went into the bathroom, drew a bath as hot as i could manage to stand, and climbed into the tub with a razor  blade.

As i started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, i stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?

And i was tired. I sounded like you, that i knew there’d be ups again and downs but i was just so fucking TIRED i couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this… this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my shit in all the time was just exhausting.

I wondered, then — well, is there anything you’re curious about. Anything you want to see play out. And i thought of a comic i was reading and i’d not figured out the end of the current storyline. And i realized I had curiosity. And that was the hook i’d hang my hat on. that by wanting to see how something played out I wasn’t really ready. That little sprout of a thing poking up through all that black earth kept me around a little longer.

I realized then that it had been so long since i’d laughed. I was numbed out and shut down and just… i missed laughing. maybe if i laughed a little i could get moving again. so i’d wait for my comic to conclude, try to find a few laughs, and then reevaluate.

So I’m in the bathtub and i got this real sharp-ass razor, right? And i look down and there’s all my bits floating in the water like they do and i thought okay, let’s get funny and i got to work.

I shaved off exactly half my pubic hair vertically. The end result was a ‘fro of pubes that looked like a Chia Pet that only half-worked. I started to laugh as I did it. And every time i’d piss, looking down made me laugh. 

Because JESUS what a nightmare.

Shortly thereafter I got very heavily into Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. Way less chafing and way more funny.

jesus. i was still in high school at the time. dig if you will a picture of the chubby weirdo that was always giggling at his dick in the bathroom. that was me.

And then I guess I’d tell you about Dave, who did the same thing as me a few years later, only DIDN’T have my hilarious Chia Dick strategy in mind and got the razor in and up. And as he started to bleed out “Brown Eyed Girl” came on the radio and he realized he’d never get to hear that again so, in a bloody comedy of errors — I swear to god this is true — he got out of the tub, tried to get dressed the best he could, went downstairs calling for help only to find his family gone, went out to his car, and drove to doug’s house only to find doug not home and so, then, finally, he blacked out from blood loss sitting there in his car, playing a van morrison CD on repeat, until, by luck, Doug’s mom came home and found him. 

Fucking Van Morrison, y’know?

A song, a comic, something dumb, something small. From that seed can come everything else, I swear to god.

I guess last I’d say… I’d say that, look — if you reached out to me for an answer, than I have to reach back out to you and insist you hear it.  Because it means, what, you know me? My work? You read my stuff and thought, well, fuck, if anyone would know why I shouldn’t end my life, if anyone alive is QUALIFIED TO SAVE ME it’s the guy that had britney spears punch a bear? okay — okay, then, so as THAT GUY I’m saying: Get help. Now, today, tonight, whenever — get to a phone and find a doctor that can try to help you heal, that can try to recolorize your world again, that can help you start caring again. All you need is that one tiny thing, that speck, that little grain of sand. the World Series, AVENGERS 2, Tina Fey’s new show, the first issue of PRETTY DEADLY, some slice of the world you’ve never seen, some drink you love, who the fuck will love your dog like you do if you’re gone, what if jabrams KILLS it on the new STAR WARS, the hell are you doing for Halloween, you ever feed a dolphin with your bare hand? because i have and I am fucking telling you IT IS A THING TO EXPERIENCE and oh god WHAT FUCKING FONT WILL STARBUCKS USE ON THE CHRISTMAS DRINK SLEEVES THIS YEAR — i don’t care what or how dumb but i promise you somewhere in your life is that one fleck of dust that can help start you on the road back. That’s all it takes. One fucking mote, drifting through your head. 

And because you asked me I am answering you because i know, motherfucker, i know, i know, i know the hole you are fucking in because I was there myself and if you look hard you can still see my writing on those walls and if you stare long enough i swear to god it’s pointing to up

If you're hurting, or know someone who is, please seek help. Please don't be afraid to talk about it. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or find the solidarity of community at To Write Love on Her Arms, or just talk to someone, anyone.

You are not alone. You are so much stronger than you know.