The Jackalope and Eugene Riley… are They Related?


This amusing creature and such things of myths and legends always interested me…a big part of writing fiction is making up shit, which is part of the fun…The Jackalope has a small, yet significant part in my novel Drinking from the Fishbowl (which is closer than ever to being done.) I found this postcard when I was out West once a very long time ago, but darn it, I can’t lay my hands on it as I’ve squirreled it away somewhere in my treasure-trove of crap that I’ve collected over the years, so I Googled it and found a picture of it on an amusing website that included the greatest hits of legendary creatures like Bigfoot and Nessie:

Not meaning to get your hopes up (or down if you don’t dig Bigfoot) the book isn’t about any of them, but it is about dreams and realities, and the mythology that is invented about people who become “rich and famous.”

Eugene Riley originates from a place where the mythological Jackalope has been rumored to leap around in mountain meadows…he is on a life journey in which the reality of his dreams isn’t what he had expected, he is a successful actor and filmmaker, goodness yes, he seems to have the golden touch…and yet, no, he has plenty of stumbles along the way that are less than glamorous. The talented young man is determined to follow his dreams and make them happen, and has overcome the obstacles that get in the way, and from time to time as he progresses into his career from a finds himself in good company with the Jackalope. The media makes up stories about him throughout his career in Hollywood, the truth mixes with lies and the lies become a bizarre “truth” that the inquiring minds want to know…when in reality, Eugene is an ordinary fellow, he’s really an introvert, but a few tips from a flask or hits from a joint smooths the rough spots and he’s good to go. When seen in person without the make up, the costumes, the lighting, the dramatic camera angles, and of course, good editing, he’s not as tall as you think, and his eyes, although they are blue, they are not really that blue, and his real hair is unruly dirty blond curls. The Hollywood media machine is riddled with rumors about him, some of the most outrageous things are typical fodder (who is he dating, who is he dumping, look who he’s been caught in a love nest with while he’s married to wife #whatever, is that baby his baby, is his wife going to leave him, did he beat his wife, he’s a drug addict, he’s a drunk, is he going to rehab, he’s out of rehab, did he have a relapse, oops he did it again, did he just die in a fiery car crash, did he get kidnapped by aliens, where is he now, is Bat-Boy his big brother? Seriously…if you spend any time in the grocery store line, you know the drill, this shit is crazy.) The fabricated “royalty” that grace the glossy covers of magazines are a cultural fascination that flows between fairy tale and comic-tragedy, it’s so bizarre.

Why on earth would I want to write about this… because I wanted to explore the emotional side of the person living with this burden. How does a man voted “The Sexiest Man Alive” feel about it? How does the actor who doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Actor feel about it? How does he feel when the film he’s directed gets the “Two Thumbs Up” and wins Best Picture? There is a real person riding that Hollywood wild horse. Living with all the ridiculous rumors about his private life swirling around in print (and feels compelled to call his mom, Grace Riley in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and his best friend, Georgia Sullivan in New York City to tell them to ignore it, he’s alive and well.) His reality is this, he just happens to have a really cool job doing something that he loves. People fall in love with an image that he projects, a character, a fiction. It’s a fickle life, and he’s very aware that the ride can end at any time. Does he wait for it to throw him off, or does he stop the horse, get down, and walk away on his own.

Eugene Riley is a Jackalope.


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