Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spiraling into the darkness

 So there you are, on the verge of writing something sardonic, possibly even lighthearted, about the whacky holiday season and then the good old USA once again raises its warped collective pysche, determined to inflict more horror and brutality upon itself. The mass killing extravaganza underway seems to occur once a week now (because, if nothing else, we Americans recognize the importance of staying on schedule), the latest one in Connecticut far beyond what anyone with even a smidgen of humanity can conceive, let alone somehow process. How is it possible, even within the twisted, fucked up recesses of a diseased brain, to decide upon murdering children?

Right on cue - after the shopping mall killings, but prior to the murder rampage in Ct. - the right wing moron battalion, armed with the usual semi-automatic platitudes, hit the news channels in defense of firearms. These people, some of whom we have to assume are not hopelessly retarded, are still capable of reminding us that 'guns don't kill people, people kill people,' with a straight face.
(the use of this particular cliche, in my opinion, should result in a mandatory one year jail sentence)
I even heard one of these assholes say that assault weapons were not the issue because, in lieu of a just squeeze the trigger and wipe out your entire extended family in less time than it takes to say Merry Christmas automatic rifle, a person bent of mass murder will simply use explosives or biological weapons.  Yeah, or maybe they'll just cobble together a nuclear bomb in the basement. 
Another favorite of the gun lobby lackeys is to drag out the second amendment which, in case you didn't know, was actually written in the blood of Jesus, rendering it sacrosanct and inviolable, apparently, until the end of time. God forbid that 200 plus years of social change (i.e. mutation) might lead one to question the continued relevancy of allowing the militia (i.e. nut cases) to bear arms.

So now we're going to be hearing about how this little prick living in upper middle class suburban Connecticut with all the creature comforts was troubled, how he had problems, which provoked him to crawl out from beneath the slimy rock of his self-important psychosis and start killing kids. Oh please! You have problems, deal with them. Take some responsibility for your own pathetic existence.  His mommy, it seems, handled things by giving him guns to play with, teaching him how to shoot.  Talk about responsible parenting.
Only in America, the self-proclaimed greatest country on Earth, is this stuff happening. What does that say about the 'Land of the Free?'  Too much freedom, far too little insight into how to use it in creative, life-affirming ways?

And while it may be justified for long-winded religious leaders to comfort the grieving parents by reminding them that their lost children are in heaven with God, let's face it ... if there was a God, wouldn't this have been the ideal time for Him to hop off his solipsistic high horse and intervene? A single, well-aimed lightening bolt to the head of this monster before he was able to get into the school would have gone a long way towards renewing my faith.

Anyway, it appears that Christmas this year is among the casualties of the season's insane violence.
We'll try again next year, assuming any of us are still around to celebrate.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Neanderthals Don't Shop

Sad to say, but based on the available evidence the human species is most likely doomed. We're all going down fast, to the tune of 7 billion skulls screaming with senseless, self-involved noise. Observing human behavior can be a real bummer ( a sixties term recently experiencing a kind of renaissance), and trying to isolate oneself from it isn't all that easy. Sure, you can stay indoors with the curtains closed, unplug the phone, turn the flat screen into a postmodern hotplate; the weirdness still somehow finds a way to creep in. It sneaks up and grabs hold while you're sitting there staring at the wall, humming a mantra taught to you by an alcoholic Buddhist priest with an affinity for Playboy pinups and ping pong. There is no escape.

So how bad is it, really?
Consider that average human intelligence is in decline; inversely proportional, as it turns out, to the average increase in human body mass. Basically, the more you eat the less you know.
Primary causes of intelligence deterioration: TV and organized religion.  Those who spend their time watching religious TV are obviously at greatest risk. Sitting on a couch somewhere in Kentucky, a bag of chips and a can of coke within chubby arm reach, watching the Reverend Billy Joe Bombast proselytize Jesus for profit. Ever try shouting Hallelujah! with a mouthful of potato chips? It ain't pretty.
 Goodbye brains.

But it even gets worse.
Probably my own fault for watching the apparently interminable number of news broadcasts on the sheer shopping savagery associated with 'Black Friday'; appropriately named, by the way, as it's apparently the perfect medium for bringing out the darkest aspects of human nature. I mean, people beating each other senseless to save 30 bucks on a thousand roll super jumbo pack of toilet paper (made in China, needless to say)? Any wonder no alien race has yet seen fit to contact us? Assuming of course that after picking up a latent transmission of Leave It To Beaver from 1957 an extraterrestrial species would even be inclined to make the 100 light year trip (for those interested in the unfathomable distances of interstellar space, one light year is equal to 9 trillion 500 billion kilometers).  A long drive no matter how you slice it.

All of which possibly explains why I'm feeling suddenly nostalgic for that neglected, often misunderstood sub-genus of so called modern humans, the Neanderthals.
And no, I do not refer to the large, hairy guy with the narrow forehead and highly questionable bathing habits you once agreed to date (hey, you were in a dark place, readily conducive to acts of masochism and self-loathing). The Neanderthals were a hearty band of tough bastards who managed to not only survive but thrive for 250,000 years, a large portion of which was serious ice age. By comparison, the dubious human experiment is a mere 50,000 years old. The Neanderthals had bigger brains than we do, inflicted zero damage on the environment and, according to certain interpretations of the geological record, generally formed orderly lines outside caves; the reasons for which are not entirely clear, but some sort of Paleolithic Super Sale cannot be entirely ruled out.
Unfortunately, the Neanderthal ran into early human Cro-Magnon and subsequently went extinct, quite likely from human germs their immune systems couldn't tolerate. (Flash forward to the 16th Century, the Spanish Conquistadors come ashore in the New World and similarly wipe out entire native Indian populations.)

Too bad, really.  How cool would it be if the Neanderthal had somehow survived and were with us still; assuming, of course, they were able to deal with the whole "don't wear fur" thing. They could have their own continent, Antarctica, for example; live in stylish ice caves and, when absolutely necessary, shop online for Eddie Bauer down jackets. They could work as tour guides for humans visiting the South Pole.

Human tourist: "So hey, Neanderthal guy, I really want to see the ice. You got any of that around here?"

Like I said, smaller brains.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Hail To The Chief

A collective sigh of relief. Obama wins re-election and in the eyes of the world the USA redeems itself. There is still a glimmer of hope. Tea Party efforts for a constitutional amendment to ban intelligence and imagination have failed miserably. Dour-faced Republican strategists must accept  blame for their inability to anesthetize enough of the electorate with mindless propaganda to ensure a Romney victory. Privately, they curse the evil east and west coasts, fantasizing the possibility of somehow physically separating these areas from the heartland, turning the country into the bright red blob that God originally intended.

Speaking of which, even Evangelicals are taking heat for not making enough of an impact at the polls. No big surprise, considering the choice was between a shallow, flip-flopping, closet-moderate Mormon and a smart, black, gay rights-supporting closet-Socialist. One Christian "think" tank (emphasis here on the blatant use of euphemism) has been floating the notion that roving bands of atheists breaking into Born Again households on election eve and shackling occupants to 100 pound Bibles at least partially explains the low voter turn out.

But poor, deluded Mitt. One has the sense that he actually believed he would win, that blathering vaguely and exclusively about the economy was enough, that the American people would simply forget about all the other equally important issues, that a man willing to abandon whatever real principles he might have once had in order to pander to the lowest common denominator of strident conservative imbecility could actually become President.

Election highlights:  One certainly has to be having the opportunity to watch those two pasty-white, jowl-jiggling, ego-bloated, right-wing ideologue dough boys - of course, I refer to Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove - gagging on their own bombast. Newt on CNN pontificating that not only would Romney get the electoral victory, but a 'significant' electoral victory. Karl - fondly remembered as the man who cobbled together George Bush from used parts in his weekend hobby shop - in total denial at the election's outcome, muttering on air that obviously the entire population of Ohio had somehow been secretly replaced by demonic democratic operatives.

Karl:  Who the hell leaked it that minorities can actually participate in the democratic process?
Newt: What are you complaining about? I actually have to walk around in this body. My wife insists on wearing a blindfold before she'll even consider ... well, you know.
Karl:  Yeah, women. The ultimate betrayers, if you ask me. Giving them the vote was a Big Mistake.
Newt: Couldn't agree more. The last woman I trusted was my mother, and only because she never left the kitchen.
Karl:  Remember when the only world that mattered was male and white, when the ability to lie well still counted for something, when whatever wacky, right-wing nonsense we dreamed up was taken as holy gospel?
Newt:  Don't be too down, Karl. We'll just hide out under our rocks for another four years and try it again.
Karl: Damn straight, Newt.

One sad note: Michelle Bachmann, Tea Party pin-up girl, a woman who in unguarded moments, usually during one of her delusional rants, resembles nothing so much as a whinnying horse, was narrowly re-elected.

Can't win em all, I guess.



Monday, October 15, 2012

As the baseball season winds down, baby season kicks in with a vengeance

What is it that guys talk about? Assuming guys actually talk to each other and not just mumble incoherently, attempting, for reasons cultural anthropologists are at a loss to explain, to imitate their hominid ancestors, grunts over beers in a bar somewhere, Patti Smith on the sound system reminding guys why they're so often hopeless dicks, some girl sitting in the corner savoring a mostly incomprehensible novel by Kathy Acker, in which men are brutally deconstructed at near the speed of light, their true natures as callous, unfeeling, grunting morons revealed.

Typical Guy A:  "So, like, how's it going?"
Typical Guy B:  Grunts, gulps beer noisily, assumes deadpanned expression.
T. G. A: "How's, uh, you know, what's her name?"
T. G. B: Sucks in air, rolls eyes. "She stopped talking to me about a week ago."
T. G. A: "Bummer. Hey, what do you think that chick over in the corner is giggling about?"
T. G. B: "Who the fuck knows? Maybe she just metaphorically offed her boyfriend."
T. G. A: No clue what that means, but grunts and nods head, because in the usually deluded haze of male discourse some sense of mutual understanding appears to matter. "Anyway, did you see the game last night?"

And there it is, the way through the wilderness, the one topic to successfully navigate the maze of damaged male ego, elevating the conversation to a level where something at least simulating rational dialogue can occur.  The game.  Baseball.
You don't even have to be interested baseball, or know anything about it to have the conversation. Baseball is mostly intuitive; it neutralizes typical male obstinacy, facilitates an easy suspension of disbelief, while promoting a vaguely satisfying sense of camaraderie. 

So the revised conversation goes something like this:
"Anyway, did you see the game last night?"
"Need you even ask?"
"How about that ninth inning?"
"Amazing! Cabrera does it again, huh?"
"I'm telling you, the guy is incredible."

(Note: Even if you haven't watched the game, invoking the name Cabrera is a safe bet, owing to the fact that there are like 47 guys named Cabrera currently playing in the Majors. Chances are there's at least one of them playing in every game on any given day. There are also 28 guys named Josh, making it not only a good second choice, but also lending an air of first name familiarity that will no doubt impress your friends.)

And this is how it should be, smooth, precise, emotionally non-threatening. In a perfect world all male conversations would be about baseball.  But then most of know through bitter experience what buying into the 'perfect world' scenario generally leads to.
Occasionally guys go off the reservation, a tiny, seahorse-shaped wrench is tossed into the works, baseball fades into mere background noise and all of a sudden all they can talk about is babies. You think maybe it's a virus, or something they ate, that it'll pass, but it doesn't. They've boarded the baby boat and there's no turning back. You want to talk playoffs, they want to talk sonograms; you've got tickets to a game, they'd love to go but they're flying to somewhere in the former Soviet Union to buy diapers in bulk (hey, it could happen); you grunt, growl primordially, they goo-goo, gaga; in desperation, you start reading Kathy Acker, they're busy studying the New Father's Survival Guide. 

"So, an actual, real-life baby, huh?"
"As in miniscule quasi-human who miraculously appears one day and then runs roughshod over your life for the next twenty years."
"I can hardly wait."
"A baby, lest we forget, who can't even pick up a bat, let alone hit for a decent average."
"Great, isn't it?"
"Wait a minute. If you're going to be a Daddy, that means I'm ..."
"Ah, the penny drops."
"But ..."
"Welcome to the brave new world, Grandpa."
"Shit, I've got to sit down, get my breathing under control."
"What about the game?"
"The what now..?


Friday, October 5, 2012

Disconcertingly Random Bits of Questionable Data

The fear of hearing disembodied voices in his head is one of the reasons he never answers the phone.

"She said she was thinking about going back to the planet from which she came, but she changed the subject whenever alien abduction came up."

Turns out the presumed barrier between the mind and the so-called external world is actually a porous membrane. Impossible to tell if something is simply being observed or imaginatively conjured, or if it even makes a difference.  UFO encounters are a good example of this.

Say there's this guy and his girlfriend and they're camping one early summer on a very large lake in northern Canada and not particularly satisfied with the standard definition of reality at the moment they decide to take some LSD 25 (aka Orange Sunshine, the connoisseur's  psychotropic of choice) and then some unknown time later they have a very 'real', exquisitely palpable, terrifyingly close up and personal run in with multiple, apparently alien spacecraft.
Are they hallucinating? Manifesting irrational forces from a temporarily shared unconscious? Projecting unresolved emotional issues towards their parents, from whom they feel alienated?  And then suppose it turns out there are two other people camping nearby who, while not actually having visually witnessed the event, confirm that the 'terrible noise' of it woke them and, they frankly admit, scared the bloody hell out of them. How do we explain that?

"The past is a schizophrenic ghost who refuses to move on."     

Another guy, at random, heading into the shower, ostensibly to do the things people normally do in the shower, except he suddenly slips out of the showering moment and starts having crazy flashbacks, stray memories of things that may or may not have happened, becoming intensely focused on seemingly insignificant events from a remote past which can no longer be verified, standing there under the water for twenty minutes and suddenly realizing he has no idea what he's washed, if he's washed, what it even means to wash.
Have you washed?
Have I what? 
And then it's like, wait a minute, washed or not, who am I?
It's not just the re-experiencing of past events, but multiple variations of these events; a single word, perhaps, which either was or was not said at precisely the right or wrong moment, that shifted the event, the experience and subsequent memory of it, from outcome A to outcome B. And we're somehow convinced that both occurred. Furthermore, we suspect that outcomes C, D, E, F, etc., as unimaginable as they may be, also occurred.
This, of course, corresponds to the 'Multiple Worlds' hypothesis in physics, by which the quirky, out of time, multiple reality of the quantum world is extrapolated onto the macro-world of people, planets, trees, cats, dogs, etc.  The thinking being that if electrons can do it, why can't we?

So anytime a choice is made and A occurs, all possible variations of A simultaneously occur.

Example: There's this girl (or guy) you're attracted to, but you never talk to her and regret it for the rest of your life; you do talk to her and she sneers contemptuously at you and walks away; you talk to her and fall instantly in love; you talk to her, go back to her place and she tries to kill you; you don't talk to her, but begin stalking her and eventually try to kill her; you don't talk to her and she ends up marrying your best friend; you talk to her, end up in bed with her and discover she's actually a guy, or, worse case scenario, an alien guy pretending to be a human girl. 

 Talk about things you might later dwell upon in the shower.
At the very least, it certainly renders irrelevant the concept of 'making the right choice.'

"Anything is theoretically possible, so be careful. The next time you walk through a door you could find yourself standing on the moon."

Somewhat more likely, there's a one in a million chance of being struck by lightning (in any given year) In the same time frame, there's a one in seven billion chance of being struck by a meteor.
With approximately 7 billion people on the planet, we can logically infer that within the next year one of us is going to have a spectacularly unusual and, considering the average meteor whistles in through the atmosphere at 30 kilometers per second, extremely bad day.

I thought losing my job, wife, house and dog all in the same week was as bad as it could possibly get. Then the poor bastard next door gets hit by a fucking meteor. Really helped put things in perspective.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A candid conversation with the Buddha, or at least some guy claiming to be ...

I recently ran into the "Buddha" in a downtown subway station, proving once again, I suppose, that anything can happen anywhere and at anytime, which probably makes a strong case for never leaving the house. The following are excerpts from our conversation, a good deal of which unfortunately was incomprehensible, owing to the "Buddha's" apparently tenuous mental state.

* I'm not quite sure how to address you. Mister Buddha, just Buddha, Your Holiness ..?
* My friends usually call me Bud.
* Uh, okay.  So Bud, are you sure about this, you being the Buddha, I mean, because you look like a homeless person and you are pushing a shopping cart, although, admittedly, it is empty.
* A fairly succinct statement on the illusory desire for material possessions, don't you think? Also I'm out of work and pretty much broke.
* Though I can't help noticing that you do have a smartphone.
* My one material concession. To tell the truth, I'm addicted to twitter. Do you tweet?
* I can't bring myself to engage in an activity that is described by such an inanely ridiculous word.
* Hung up on language, are we?
* Isn't language important? How else can we employ new metaphors to creatively reinvent the world?
* Does the phrase 'sounding like a pretentious dickhead' do anything for you?
* Uh ...
* 'Language is a virus from outer space.' Bill Burroughs said that.
* Well he would have known, I suppose.
* No doubt you're familiar with the all too often quoted empty cliche ...
* Life begins at sixty?  All you need is love?  It takes one to know one?
* All good, but I was referring to the one that says, 'If while on the path, or in this case within a dingy underground tunnel, you happen to meet the Buddha, kill him.'
* Implying the fallacy of an external deity, God is within us, we are all the God we need, blah blah, blah.
* So what are you waiting for?
* You know, I would, except I'm not sure how readily the cops who discover me standing over your lifeless body are going to buy into the whole 'I symbolically killed the Buddha' thing. Besides, if I kill you I'll be standing here talking to myself.
* I do it all the time.
* Why am I not surprised?
* Fine. So what do you want to talk about?
* How about politics?
* (The Buddha yawns, possibly farts)
* What's your take on the Republicans?
* (The Buddha's expression suggests disgust) It's like watching TV between seasons. Nothing but reruns. You've seen it all before but you're so bored you sit there and watch it anyway. You recall Einstein's definition of an insane person?
* Anyone who believes that E could possibly equal MC squared? I mean, come on!
* No. Doing the same old thing over and over, each time expecting a different result. Hey, did you hear the one about the Zen hen?
* Sorry, what?
* Zen hen.
* Uh, it crossed the road in order not to get to the other side?
* Nice try. Actually, it did and it didn't, cross the road, that is. A bit like Schrodinger's cat.
* Could we possibly stay on track?
* Your mind is deplorably linear.
* Mitt Romney.
* Stunningly vacuous. So lacking in substance it's a miracle he just doesn't float away. But there's always hope, I guess.
* Paul Ryan.
* Never trust a man with a concave face and no lips.  He recently told a fairly rabid crowd in Ohio that he was proud to be a deer hunting Catholic. Why, I wonder, do these politicians feel they have to pander to the morons who continue to feel justified in murdering animals for sport? Of course the Catholics have always had a weird fascination with blood, haven't they?
* Mitt Romney claims to be a Mormon.
* I always get the Mormons confused with the Jehovah's Witnesses.
* The Jehovah's just show up at your front door, the Mormons generally call first.
* Not that having several wives would necessarily be a bad thing.
* Obviously you've never been married.
* (The Buddha grunts) What really bothers me is the constant God drivel spewing from the mouths of these politicos. Any politician who claims to believe in God is either lying or just plain stupid.
* So basically Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.
* Right, but Newt, being married to an aging Barbie Doll, has the edge.
* Clearly you'll be voting for Obama in November.
* Assuming I'm not disenfranchised by some devious last minute election law manipulation. At the very least, with the Affordable Health Care law I'm able to buy my medication.
* Anti-psychotics?
* High blood pressure and an enlarged prostate, if you must know.
* Well, I should probably be going, not to mention that it smells really bad down here.
* Yeah, that's most likely me.
* Any final thoughts, Bud?
* How about a joke? How would you describe a schizophrenic Zen Buddhist?  Someone who is at two with the universe.
* Not funny.
* Okay, how about this one?  Why don't Buddhists vacuum in the corners?  Because they have no attachments.
* That's it, I'm out of here.
* Hey, don't hold your breath waiting for enlightenment............ 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The mentally ill respond ... well, sort of

According to statistical evidence meticulously accumulated by serious, professional people, presumably in their right minds, upwards of 70% of the world's population suffers from some form of mental illness. If so - and I for one would have guessed a higher number on this - doesn't it suggest that 'sanity' should now be considered a type of psychopathology requiring the immediate attention of the mental health community?

 "Bring to me a man who is sane and I will attempt to cure him." (C Jung)

  "Some people never go crazy, What truly horrible lives they must live." (C Bukowski)

Of course, the distinction must be made between crazy and crazy.  A guy who quits his fabulously corrupt and high-paying job on Wall Street, moves to Rome and spends all his time creating pornographic graffiti on the walls of the Vatican is probably crazy; the woman in Texas (for some reason this sort of thing always seems to happen in Texas) who drowns her three kids in the bathtub because God told her to do it is the other kind of crazy; i.e. psychotic, dangerously deranged and a lot more than just a little stupid. These, by the way, are the people who generally vote.
The first type generally develops a huge following on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, followed by a lucrative book deal.
The second type is acquitted by a jury of her peers because, well, if God said so, He must have had his God almighty and who are we to question them reasons.

No doubt you're thinking this would be the ideal time to raise the - to my mind at least - obvious point that religious belief (any genre) is a clear cut form of mental illness, the greatest threat, in fact, to continued human evolution since the Biblical flood. But I'll resist the temptation, at least temporarily.

"That Noah's Ark must have been one big motherfucking boat, pardon my French, to be able to hold two of each kind of Dinosaur."  (Tour guide at the Creationist Museum somewhere in rural Kentucky)

I can recall a time when mental illness still had a sort of exotic, mysterious appeal. Like being crazy was not only cool, but it could also get you out of having to go to school.  Growing up there was a gigantic mental hospital right in our neighborhood. Creedmore State, it was called. Even the name sent chills.  I remember my mother saying to me, "Go ahead, keep acting crazy to get out of school and we'll be forced to send you over to Creedmore."  I almost wanted to go.

Back then a person could claim to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder and be proud of it, be proud of it, be proud of it. Now the most we can hope for is a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Syndrome. Whose identity isn't dissociated? Trying to get through life without occasionally dissociating will definitely drive you nuts.
Likewise, there used to be Manic/Depressives. Not only were these people really interesting about 50% of the time, they were great fun to date. Manics tended to be wild in bed; Depressives didn't really care if you never called.
Nowadays we're saddled with the dubious distinction of being Bipolar (yawn!), which, let's face it, sounds more like a global weather situation than a legitimate mental problem.

"Of all the things I've lost in my life, I miss my mind the most."  (Anonymous)

What's really scary - I mean aside from people believing in a God who would sanction the murder of children - is that recent advances in medical science and technology now make it possible to pinpoint aberrant areas of the brain which, it is claimed, cause people to do the sick, disgusting, psychopathic things they all too frequently do. In essence this is the "My brain made me do it" legal defense, and lawyers are salivating over it like a pack of famished coyotes honing in on a cattle carcass.
My brain made me do it.  Uh ..?

"If only there was something in your head to control the things you say and do."  (Chandler Bing)

The implication here is that pedophiles, rapists, serial killers, animal abusers, litterbugs, Republicans 
 (sorry, that just slipped out, possibly through a dissociated crack) etc. can no longer be held entirely responsible for their actions because, you know, their crazy brains made them do it.

'Their crazy brains, right?'
'How about the sheer stupidity you're displaying in buying into this pile of crap?'
'Hey, here's a printout of my latest functional MRI. Read it and weep, pal.'
'If this isn't a blatant and disturbing example of the current cultural paradigm of personal non-responsibility in all things, I don't know what is.'
'Okay, that's just your brain talking now.'

"People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does."  (M Foucault)

"Once structuralism went the way of the giant sea turtle we decided to deconstruct what was left, ended up turning the world into a vast debris field of meaning-less signs and symbols, about which we tried to wax self-reflexive and mostly ironic, asserting that once language was allowed to fully reinvent itself the tyrannical era of objective reality would come crashing down, except no one was paying attention and who the fuck were we kidding anyway? Strictly speaking we had all gone insane, but we insisted on continuing to refer to it as philosophy."  (Anonymous)  

 "Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink."   (C Bukowski)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You don't have to be a lunatic to love baseball ...

... although neither does it particularly hurt.

As a kid I was effectively brainwashed (aka culturally conditioned) into loving baseball.
The basic message was: "Hey, you're an American kid. Either you play baseball or you end up robbing convenience stores. Any questions?"
"Yeah, what's a convenience store?"
"Okay, do you want to ask stupid questions and possibly spend your formative years behind bars, or do you want to play ball?"
So we played ball and, as advertised, it was a fairly effective way of sublimating and refocusing our naturally aggressive tendencies, mediating them into a socially approved form of adolescent energy expenditure. Perhaps more importantly, it began the process of teaching us how to cope with boredom.
Because, let's be honest, baseball is boring.   Or is it?  (more on this later)

Little League was the next logical step, wearing actual uniforms, playing on actual ball fields. I excelled at every aspect of the game ... except one.  Couldn't hit. Couldn't even buy one, and this was back in the days when bribing an opposing pitcher or even an umpire was still relatively affordable. Somewhere along the way I developed what turned out to be the highly unproductive habit of turning my head sharply to right just as the pitcher released the ball. Not sure why exactly, but I may have been laboring under the ludicrously false assumption that by not seeing the ball, there was less of a chance of being hit by it.

Note:  There is an extant law on New York's books making it illegal to throw a ball at someone's head for fun. Intent, apparently, is everything. Remove the concept of fun from the equation and you can throw fastballs at somebody's noggin with complete impunity.

High school baseball came next, at least for a day, just long enough to step into the batting cage and demonstrate my ability to put wood to cowhide covered sphere. Afterwards the coach took me aside and rather tactfully suggested baseball might not be my optimal choice for a school sport.
"But coach, I don't want to end up in jail!"
He uttered something about my swing being criminal enough to qualify, then recommended track and field.

Which reminds me of a guy I knew in college who, believing he was an impeccable speller, applied for a part-time job as a proofreader in a law firm. Part of the interview was a spelling test, 30 words, read out loud by this female interviewer, who it was pretty clear really didn't give a shit one way or the other. Spelled 27 of the words incorrectly (or, on the upside, got 3 right), prompting said interviewer to intimate that a career in legal proofreading was pretty much out of the question.
"But how are your math skills?" she inquired.
"Sure, go ahead, rub it in."
Okay, that wasn't some guy I knew, it was me. One more example of a deluded past of which, on balance, I'm fairly proud.

So anyway, baseball.  What's the appeal?  People watching a major league game for the first time - and by people I mostly mean foreigner types, who generally don't have a clue to begin with - are likely to comment that it doesn't look all that difficult. A group of men dressed in costumes stand around on a field, for the most part barely moving, while some guy with a stick tries to hit a smallish white ball, and then run in a highly predictable pattern, making sure to touch as many white cushions as possible.

Okay, first of all weird, what-planet-are-you-from-anyway guy, they're not called cushions!

Consider the average major league player standing in the batter's box attempting to get a hit off an average major league pitcher. Assume the pitcher has an average speed fastball of, say, 90 mph.
Such a pitch is traveling at 130 feet per second. The distance from pitcher to batter is approximately 66 feet. Hence the batter has approximately half a second to evaluate the pitch and decide whether or not to swing.
Just writing that forced my head to turn sharply to the right.

Note: The average life expectancy of a baseball during a game is 6. 3 pitches. 

What attracts me to baseball is that, unlike the other major American sports, it's not time-constrained; it is off the clock, under no pressure to adhere to a schedule, to accomplish some goal within a specified time frame. You can have a game on in the background, glance at it occasionally, perhaps take the dog for a walk, have a nap, discuss TV viewing options with your partner (i.e. Oh God, not baseball again!), without having to worry about what may or may not be happening. The length of any particular baseball game is indeterminate, the eventual outcome secondary to the out-of-time experience of just being in the game, either as spectator or player.

From a modernist perspective, espousing the point of view that the absence of constant, high-speed distraction within predetermined, preferably brief, pockets of time is existentially intolerable, baseball can certainly be construed as boring. The paradoxical insight that baseball - baseball as anti-modernist or, dare I say it, postmodernist sport - provides is that only when nothing appears to be happening does the story begin to get interesting.

So there it is. Baseball is the great, atypical, postmodern American pastime. Reason enough, I'd say, for a lunatic to love the game.  Batter up ...


Friday, August 10, 2012

To the point of madness driven by like a billion cicadas right outside the window

Dial any number at random:

Right about twilight it's like living next door to an insane asylum for insects.

.... Cut to the streets of Pyongyang, where the remaining one million North Korean kids not in the advanced stages of starvation are singing in unison at the top of their little lungs - their little brainwashed brains vibrating along in perfect party pitch - an apparently endless song about the Great, Pure, Dear, Demented (oops!), Dashing, Darling, Deformed (again, oops!), Divine Leader. He's actually a small rather plump boy who still likes playing with his collection of Barbie Dolls, but who, to his credit, is not completely oblivious to the fact that the hats worn by the contingent of centenarian military commanders who follow him around like a pack of living mummies are ridiculously too big for their little old man heads.

Kim Jung Un had one of those microphone mishaps recently, following a truly inspirational, albeit extremely brief, speech on North Korean freedom and prosperity, thought the mic was turned off, was overhead saying, "Really man, what the fuck is up with those stupid hats?"

Hey, these things happen. Mitt Romney, campaigning in the deep dark south, was overhead quizzing one of his aids if the quasi-humanoid mask that he wears (apparently, when he takes the mask off his head disappears, and there just isn't any way that a headless Mormon is going to get elected President) was showing signs of melting under the scorching Mississippi sun. The aid reassured him by pointing out that the 37 people in the audience, all bussed in from a nearby mental hospital, believed they were listening to a speech by Newt Gingrich.
(Lest we forget, Newt was the man who promised to build state of the art mental health facilities on the moon.  As far as campaign slogans go, "Send all the loonies to the moonie!" is not bad at all.)  

.... Cut to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (remake # 2) in which all the alien-possessed humans get together and emit a loud, high-pitched screech whenever they sniff out a person who has not yet been ideologically podded.
Note: Body Snatchers #4 will be filmed almost entirely in North Korea, as a documentary, no less. (additional footage courtesy of the upcoming Republican National Convention)

Note: Living mummies are an actual thing, although not mummies that are still living, rather people (presumably) who make a conscious decision to become a mummy, and then die and do so. This was popular in Japan for awhile, old men, fed up with being old, apparently, would head off to a cave somewhere, eat tree bark while meditating on the horrific yen/dollar exchange rate and slowly mummify. One can still run across these mummified remains in remote areas, although nowadays the majority of living mummies are members of the Japanese Parliament.

I read recently that North Korean athletes who win Olympic medals are rewarded with refrigerators. 
Which, let's face it, is the perfect gift to give someone living in a country with no food and an iffy at best electrical power grid.

One possible solution for the N.K. problem: Turn the country over to the Disney people. If anyone has a knack for making money out of mindless misery, they do. When you think about it, the whole crazy place is already a defacto theme park. Investment and overhead would be minimal.
Call it 'Disney Dark.'   Because, kids, even in the magical land of make believe, things ain't always a fun-filled barrel of monkeys.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Is God Really Nothing More Than A Mere ...Particle?

A belated hats off to the brainiac physics geeks at CERN's LHC (Large Hadron Collider) for their recent discovery of the Higgs particle, a.k.a. the Higgs Boson. (A boson, for those interested, is a subset of the elementary particle maelstrom distinguished by the fact that many of them can occupy a single quantum state. Think of the entire population of a medium size city fitting comfortably into a single Japanese compact. Sounds like a state of quantum hell on earth, unless of course you happen to be a boson.)

*See related article: Can a person actually be a boson, and vice versa?

*Also of interest, a question proffered by Harold Doorkjam of Bismarck, North Dakota:  "If the Higgs can only exist for a billionth of a second at Earthly low energy levels, is it really fair to go on blaming moronic, mean-spirited white men with guns for the wanton slaughter of the great North American Boson herds during the 19th Century?"

Thanks for that, Harold, and the best of luck in your continuing efforts to get that high school equivalency diploma.

Anyway, using enough energy to keep the lights on in Topeka, Kansas for a year, the CERN nerds apparently got a single Higgs to appear for a full billionth of a second. Which in wacky theoretical physics world is actually quite a long time. Interestingly and coincidentally enough, in a follow-up survey the people of Topeka were asked whether they would be willing to live in darkness for a year if it ensured the discovery of the Higgs. A whopping 67% answered in the affirmative. How is this even possible, you're probably asking. It's Kansas, after all; quasi-Bible belt, fundamentalist swarming, ain't gone Democrat since 64. That Kansas. Quantum Mechanics, as far as most Kansans are concerned, are small people, most likely from third world nations, who work on the engines of foreign cars.

So what goes? Are the people of Topeka actually capable of juggling Born Again, End of Days, Creationist fervor and the complex, highly abstract concepts of theoretical physics? Well, not exactly.  Turns out that the devious, left-wing elitists who made the survey referred to the Higgs by its colloquial designation, namely, the God particle.  It may even have been insinuated that during that glorious one billionth of a second the face of Jesus was clearly visible on the particle's front flap (note: sub-atomic particles generally do not possess flaps)  Call it manipulation, call it bold-face lying, call it politics as usual. After all, continued public support for further funding does matter.

Not that this story has a particularly happy ending. Apparently a number of Muslim clerics got wind of the face of Jesus story and are now demanding - based on worldwide religious demographics - that the face of the Prophet Muhammad must appear on the Higgs' 'flap' 21.5% of the time. The situation is further complicated by the fact that certain extremist Islamic factions, most notably the Taliban, have already outlawed the existence - theoretical or otherwise - of all sub-atomic particles, claiming them to be nothing more than yet another example of insidious Western propaganda. Muslim girls suspected of cohabiting with bosons, quarks, or even random electrons are subject to death by stoning.
(By comparison, men suspected of the same crime are forced to face the awful humiliation of having their beards trimmed in public by a Hindu barber.) Take that, so-called double standard!

*Of related interest:  In Israel, Romney declares that, as President, he will do whatever it takes to keep the God particle out of the hands of terrorists.

So what, if anything, have we learned?  The God particle is real, the source of matter's mass has been confirmed, Rick Santorum now claims to have discovered a reference to the boson in the Bible and will name his next kid Higgs, and even as we figure out the incredible mysteries of the Universe stupidity continues to run rampant here on planet Earth.
If nothing else, this blog is the living proof of that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bad News, I'm Afraid

The Greek philosopher Philoteradactyl reportedly said: "For everything under the sun there is an associated fear, and none greater than the haunting fear of our own being."
Mind you, this was like 2000 years before the discovery of psychology and the subsequent pouring out of all the creepy/scary stuff percolating in the human mind. Freud, of course, intervened in this tidal wave of terror, reducing its terrible impact by reminding us that all our fears are reducible to one preoccupying fear: namely, the fear of our parents engaging in sex. Ugh! and Yuck!
Anyway, the question remains, what exactly is there to be afraid of?  Well, everything, apparently. Not only does virtually everything provoke fear, but every fear has a name. Which is probably a good thing, because what's scarier than a fear to which we cannot assign a label? All therapists, by the way, are required to commit to memory the names of all fears before being given a license to practice.

A few of my favorites:
Ambulophobia / the fear of walking;  might this explain why so many people strenuously resist even this simplest form of exercise, or why I continually see legions of old people out on the street, trapped, apparently, in some sort of suspended animation?
Anablephobia / the fear of looking up; a recent survey asked Japanese high school students when the last time was they had looked at the sky. 70% responded that they had no memory of ever having done so.  Mnemophobia (the fear of memories) notwithstanding, we may now understand why.
Barophobia / the fear of gravity;  this one is serious, fundamental you might even say, gravity being one of the four basic forces sustaining the universe. Take away gravity and we're all just goo rapidly flying off into the void. Maybe it's the fact that gravity is not so much a thing pulling us down, as a warp in space/time constantly pushing on us like an obsessive bully.
Phronemophobia / the fear of thinking;  weird, right? Although it does go a long way to explain the continued existence of conservative Republicans.
Sinophobia / the fear of Chinese people;  hey, with 1.2 billion of them on the planet, 100 million of the nouveau affluent ones expected to travel abroad within the next two years, this is not so much a fear as basic common sense.
Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia / perhaps no surprise, the fear of long words; you don't actually have to be phobic to be afraid of this word. The implied irony for long word phobics is that learning the name of their fear is most likely only going to make their condition worse.

Everyone is familiar with the famous F.D.R. quote: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
What most people don't know is that this is an expurgated version of the actual quote,
"We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and there are, as it turns out, a shitload of them."

Have a favorite fear of your own?  Please let me know.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Moral Dilemma of Ratting out a Weasel

Update on animal sightings:

1: Speculation has been running wild that the weasels in the attic may not be weasels at all, but some other rodent family format, possibly in the guise of weasels. This courtesy of Mister Watanabe, the house fixer guy, who was called in to provide an expert assessment on what exactly has been running around in the attic all night.
I myself, by the way, am holding firm on the opinion that there's nothing in the attic more exotic than mice.
Mice, he informs me, with a quasi-dismissive laugh, could not possibly be producing the noise levels you claim to be hearing.
They could if they're up there jumping off miniature trampolines, I tell him, or playing some sort of full contact sport.
Home owners are often in denial when it comes to slender meat-eating mammals in their attics, he says.
Hold on a second. Weasels eat meat?
Who really knows anything about weasels?
Ask someone what a weasel looks like and he'll probably describe the creepy guy working at his office.
Would you go so far as to characterize this person as a slender, meat-eating mammal?
Come to think of it ... hey, do you know him?

2: A couple of black bears strolled out of the nearby woods the other day - woods that have been officially bear-free for the past 50 years or so. In response, the city office mobilized a team of bureaucrats, who descended on the scene with clipboards in hand and proceeded to stand at the base of the mountain taking copious notes. No bear sightings since, so we might presume that this bizarre behavior worked, although two of the bureaucrats did go missing, possibly captured by the bears.

Note 1:  I informed Watanabe in no uncertain terms that in the process of eviction no harm should befall the weasels.
Not to worry, he tells me. We intend to lure them out with colorful brochures depicting much more luxurious attics, a few of them right here in this neighborhood.

Note 2: According to Mister Watanabe, not only are there bears in the nearby woods, but also monkeys.
Any chance the mammals in the attic are not weasels, but monkeys, I ask him?
That same - who is this totally out of touch with the actual world person - laugh.
How would a monkey get into your attic? he asks.
No idea, I say. How would a weasel?
How would a weasel what?

Note 3:  Just a question.  Is anyone actually reading this blog?  There's no shame in leaving a comment, you know? No long term shame, at any rate. Do it anonymously. The more ludicrous the better. Remember, this is blog dedicated to fiction, implying that you don't even have to exist in order to have something to say.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How many kittens can fit on the head of a deranged Zen monk?

So let's say there's this girl, at least I still think of her as a girl, even though she's actually a young woman, although, technically speaking, a young woman is also a girl, I mean all women are girls, there's no way around that, irrespective of age, even if she's, let's say, 87 years old, you still might be inclined to say, assuming, of course, that you knew her well enough, "Hey old girl, how's everything?" Okay, you're probably thinking, who would ever say that to someone's granny? Old girl? Sounds positively ageist. Point taken. Unless, of course, you're a Brit. The Brits say this sort of thing all the time and no one seems to mind. They could even substitute 'old cow' for 'old girl' and totally get away with it. Term of endearment and all that, although 'smelly old cow' might be pushing it just a tad.

Anyway, so there this girl. Turns out she's been living in England, for like a long time, and decides she's had just about enough of it. Nothing against the Brits, mind you, it's just that she was sitting around her rather gloomy flat one day, counting teabags, and had this fearful future vision of being awakened one morning by some pale, withered old geezer with a peck on the cheek and a 'Good morning, old cow."
She started packing that very evening, just prior to breaking up with her originally charming, now rapidly degenerating boyfriend, and made the smart, courageous decision to move to California.
Sort of a no-brainer, you're thinking. I mean why go on living in England when you can live in California? What you sacrifice in correct English grammar usage you make up in much, much better weather. Mention 30 days of uninterrupted sunshine to a Brit and they'll conclude you've most likely been recently kicked in the head by a soccer hooligan.
"You should get yourself to an infirmary without delay, old girl."

Anyway, this girl: she actually does it and moves to California. Very cool! Only problem is that she can't take her cat (while in England she has apparently turned into a 'cat person')  As terrific as life on the mythical west coast is, she can't stop feeling guilty about the cat, only exacerbated by the fact that she left the cat with the ex-boyfriend, who is now threatening via e-mail to have the cat turned into a stylishly fury hat and then selling it on e-bay. What else can she do? She decides to return to England, pick up the cat and take it to her mother's place in France, at least for the short term, until she can make arrangements to smuggle the cat into the States. Her mother agrees, albeit reluctantly, citing such possible pitfalls as the language barrier (British cats are notoriously monolingual), the difficult to acquire taste of French cat food and the fact that her dog will almost certainly murder the cat the first chance it gets.

She reasons that no worthwhile endeavor is ever entirely risk free, and besides, what the cat doesn't know in advance ...
She books a flight from London to Paris. She makes preparations, including the purchase of a very small, claw-resistant bilingual dictionary.
Then, as is so often the case, absurdity strikes.
Mere hours before the scheduled departure she is notified by the airline that her request to 'travel with cat' has been denied. Reason offered: there are already too many cats on the plane and, unfortunately, the 'Romney Option' - strapping the cat outside the plane to the top of the fuselage - has been suspended at least until after the U.S. Presidential elections.

Leaving one to ponder, I suppose, what exactly 'already too many cats on the plane' means?
First of all, how many cats could there possibly be on any given flight between London and Paris?
Is there some undisclosed official quota for cats on a plane?
Consider for a moment the size of an airplane compared to the size of an average cat.
The Airbus A380 could hold like a million of them. The entire cat population of England could be easily transported to France in a couple of days. Doing so might even serve the French right.

"Not to worry, old cow. I'm not stealing your cat, merely sending it on holiday to the Continent."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reject me if you will, but publish my novel

The vast majority of fiction writers, both actual and imaginary, have had to cope with the ineluctable, unequivocal, occasionally debilitating reality of rejection at the hands of literary agents. The old saying circulating around would-be writer's bars, usually late at night, after enough alcohol has been consumed to cauterize even the most glaring psychic wounds, is that if you're not rejected a lot - read as, A LOT - you can never fully appreciate the dedication, perseverance, intestinal grit and sheer masochistic obsessiveness required to eventually see your work in published book form.
Granted, the writers who say this have generally been rejected A LOT.

Literary agents, for those of you not familiar with the species, represent a kind of collective interface (some would say impenetrable barrier) between the writing and publishing worlds. They tend to be extremely picky, relentlessly subjective (i.e. arbitrarily fickle) and rarely amenable to clever counter-argument - a bit like children, but with a great deal more power. The agent interface is more accurately viewed as a very small aperture through which you must accurately project your manuscript in order to reach the promised land of barely mediocre book sales. Aim, needless to say, is critical. 

In all fairness, however, agents do not have it particularly easy. The average literary agency receives an enormous number of submissions; one agent confided to me that her agency gets "like a million a month." (Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration) Still, considering this sort of submission submersion, it's not so surprising that agents will typically spend no more than 30 seconds reading and evaluating the book proposal you've spent two agonizing weeks composing. A proposal, lest we forget, based on a novel it took you a year to write.
Does this seem fair, you may be inclined to ask?

Notwithstanding the fact that there is very little fair about life on Earth, even less within the publishing industry, try putting yourself in an agent's shoes. They might as well be working in a landfill for all the garbage that gets dumped on them every day. The simple, heartless truth of the matter is that the vast majority of people submitting book proposals can't write. They have no business even trying.  Despite utopian claims by fuzzy-minded utilitarians, we do not live in a world where everyone can do everything. Writing fiction is not the same as learning to ride a bicycle. And it's not as if agents don't warn the writing public upfront. Check out any literary agency website. Their current rejection rate is the first thing you notice, posted in bold face, sometimes flashing, highlighted by quivering lightening bolts, or skulls and crossbones. For "friendlier" agencies, the rejection percentage is usually around 95%. The more hardline, no nonsense pros proudly proclaim a rate of 99.9%. And yet hordes of would be novelists remain adamant that they undoubtedly belong in this one-tenth-of-one-percent elite. How hard can it be, they ask? It's just about words, sticking them into sentences, right? I know how to do that. 

Is it any wonder that literary agents are forced to pursue their profession with what can only be described as ruthless, totalitarian-like efficiency, that agency shredders are running 24 hours a day? But let's assume for the moment that the seemingly impossible does happen; something about your proposal causes a single neuron in an agent's brain to momentarily flicker. She may also experience a sub-sonic humming in one ear. You have passed the first hurdle and are due an actual reply.
Most likely something along the lines of ... "I am vaguely intrigued, in a clearly minimalist sort of way, by your proposal. Please send me the first 15 sentences of your manuscript."

And you're thinking ... huh? 15 sentences, did she say?  Your manuscript, after all, is 437 pages long. How can the sheer lugubrious brilliance of it be comprehended in a mere 15 sentences? In human terms, of course, it can't be. But these are literary agents. They have transcended the general human condition of befuddled indecisiveness, possess intuitive insight rivaling that of a Zen master, instantly know things with a quirky, eerie confidence that most of us can only fantasize about.

A real life example may suffice:  After submitting a proposal for a novel, I received a reply asking to see the first 2 pages of the manuscript. A short time after sending my 2 pages, I got an e-mail from the agent in question, stating that while she thought the book had potential, she was somewhat dismayed by my apparent inability to convey any sense of depth regarding the main character. Who is he really, she wanted to know? What makes him tick? ( true story)
I, of course, wrote back thanking her for her cogent comments - as a rule, agents don't do this - but also couldn't refrain from asking what seemed like the obvious question: "Are you willing to at least concede the possibility that the intricate and mysterious depths of my main character might be revealed somewhere beyond page 2?"

Still waiting on an answer to that.....

Friday, May 18, 2012

My dog don't read no books...

Glancing back at my previous, coincidentally also my first, posting on this blog, it occurs to me that it may have been something less than an auspicious beginning. And not because it is for the most part haphazardly written gibberish, or that it refers to an obscure fictional event conspicuously unrelated to the everyday concerns of the average hypothetical blog reader (assuming such a person exists and that his/her concerns can ever be known). The issue here, it seems, is figuring out how to connect; as we all live within our own fictional worlds, discovering common ground can be a serious challenge. If we're willing to concede that the world is exclusively as it is perceived, and that no two person's perceptions of any single event can ever be identical, then the entire notion of commonality is very likely an illusion. 

A case can certainly be made that the whole point of fiction is to remind us that there is no such thing as a shared perceptual experience. Fiction is the admission of our inherent existential isolation. It's also a fairly pleasurable way to explore this uncomfortable reality; clearly better than, say, being hit by a bus in Shanghai and having to lie there suffering in the street for an hour while half a million Chinese walk by ignoring you. Once we accept the probability that we're on our own, we can relax, cuddle up with a dense, disconcerting, hopefully deranged novel and begin the task of re-imagining ourselves and, for the more ambitious, the world.

Those who claim to want fictional characters they can relate to on a deep and profound level - i.e. characters who will somehow validate their own muddled emotional/intellectual states - belong reading somewhere in the 19th Century; reader remnants of the Enlightenment, which, lets face it, wasn't particularly enlightening, considering the amount of darkness that continues to pervade the planet.  I personally prefer my characters to be abrasive, alienating and blatantly shallow.
"There is no depth!" shouts the postmodern coal miner trapped a mile underground.
There are only obscure, shifting surfaces, quantum field states within which nothing exactly is and and anything can in theory be.

And yeah, yeah, we all get the idea that nature, the universe, is a vast interconnected web. You burp in New York, a star in the Cygnus Constellation twitches and some guy in Cape Town gets a migraine. Cosmic cause and effect in the no-time zone. You want to buy into this with all your heart, but then you try having a conversation with the guy across the street and it doesn't take long to realize that his quivering, mutating brain is light years - perceptually speaking - from yours. You might be able to reach an uneasy consensus on the weather, but beyond that you're forced to conclude he's a totally witless psycho on a mission to annoy the crap out of you. His wife, you can't help noticing, appears to be in a perpetual state of seeing ghosts. He ices the cake on your accelerating sense of impending doom by admitting that he supports the Tea Party because he is an avid tea drinker, and is confident that with enough Tea Party candidates in office the price of tea will surely go down.

At the very least you're forced to consider the possibility of multiple universes.
Or that you would like the guy a lot more if he was a character in a novel.

But getting back to the original point:
This blog purports to be purely fictional.
Only through the fictional act can the non-existent soul be redeemed.
The best fiction writers (and readers) are monsters at heart; phantoms, beyond desperation, a bit like serial killers, but with a better sense of humor.
The best language is employed as a weapon; the optimal result a bullet-ridden insight into the possibilities of a disturbed mind.
Realistic prose is an oxymoron.
The most interesting fiction cares less about describing the world, more about convincing the reader there is no world to be described.
Random, seemingly gratuitous sex scenes are more important in a novel than a consistently believable plot.
True suspense in fiction always occurs on the level of the single sentence.
Fictionists are by definition fictitious. They assemble/disassemble fictive versions of themselves with the ease of a skilled schizophrenic; they are generally transparent and mostly insubstantial, which explains why people are continually trying to walk through them.
Welcome to the void / part 2...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Implied Risks of Multifaceted Communication Within The Void / Part 1

I was just talking with A who was at the same time talking on line with B and C. B was simultaneously chatting with the parents (D) of A's boyfriend (E) telling A everything E had told D about A. C, also talking with B, immediately informed his girlfriend (F) what E had said - via D - about A. He then informed both A and B that F had expressed interest of an indeterminate nature about this, suggesting that D's assessment of E's comments concerning A, further filtered through B, were perhaps less than entirely accurate. C relayed this to A and, somewhat inadvertently, to B, who subsequently waxed indignant to A, C and D; her natural, god-given ability to repeat everything she hears verbatim and certainly without any trace of editorial license is apparently above reproach.
This, we are forced to conclude, is precisely what B would say under the circumstances.
(It should also be noted that, caught up in the conversational moment, C blurted out the gist of this ongoing online adventure to an elderly Chinese woman busy sweeping the street just outside his apartment. The Chinese woman spat once, tugged at her not insignificant chin hair and, apparently missing the point entirely, replied in her native bark ... "Crazy stupid westerners don't even eat dogs.")

So much for the already fuzzy concept of cross-cultural communication.
It is fairly common knowledge, particularly among techno-nincompoops, that each time a piece of information is repeated the content of said information is gradually deformed.
A case in point, E's original information to D about A:
"She is a really cool chick with big blue eyes and a terrific sense of humor"
Becomes over time, "She's an excessively chilly barnyard animal with bulging new eyeballs and an horrific fear of tumors."
The mutated version, while no less interesting than the original, is hardly something we would expect a boy to tell his parents about his new girlfriend.
Interestingly, as the original version of this collective communicative act mutates its way around the planet,  it is eventually told to G, a distant friend of A, who immediately informs A of what some anonymous boy E told his parents D about this girl A he's interested in.
At this point the original content appears thus:
"She's a compulsively frigid hen-like creature with bulbous Bulgarian bedsores and an iffy fascination with East Timor."
A, needless to say, has no idea what G is talking about, assumes she is just making stuff up, or has stopped taking her medication, and decides then and there to have no more to do with the girl....