Monday, December 1, 2014

Publish or Perish

... though the two are certainly not mutually exclusive.

While no clear cut statistics are presently available, there is ample anecdotal evidence to suggest that the process of getting a book published can be fatal to writers.  Time alone is frequently a critical factor.

Typical Agent Guidelines:  "Response time on initial query: six to eight months; on a partial or full manuscript: three to eleven years."

*In all fairness, literary agents have also been known to pass away while considering a writer's submission. Which of course leaves the writer wondering if his or her writing was in any way directly causative of the agent's demise. Hard to perform at your best when you're constantly worrying about who your writing might kill next.

** Note:  If the worst happens and reading your novel kills the agent reading it, it's probably not a good idea to resubmit to another agent in the same agency.

"Hi. My novel apparently gave your colleague a fatal brain aneurysm, but I'm wondering if you'd like to take a crack at it?"

Mentioning the potential lethality of your book to another agency, however, might very well get your foot in the door, so to speak.

Other not-easy-to-swallow-literary-agency-factoids:

Most U.S. agencies continue to employ the standard disclaimer:  We receive several hundred submissions a week, so be patient. Also don't be surprised if you never hear back from us in this lifetime.

So figure a couple of thousand agencies operating at any given time, each getting several hundred submissions a week. Do the math, come up with a conservative estimate of ten million submissions a year. And you're thinking wait a minute, the vast majority of the planet's population are semi-illiterate dumbbells, so who the hell is writing all these books?  Are these the same people who can't sing, yet feel justified auditioning for American Idol?

Or you may hear this from an agent:

"Absolutely loved your query, was up all night reading it - actually I read it 137 times - but unfortunately, after near-infinite soul searching, am forced to conclude that your project is not a good fit for my current list."

And, of course, one of our personal favorites:  

"Don't be discouraged by this rejection. The publishing industry is entirely, overwhelmingly - some might say pathologically - subjective."

Which is a blatant lie, or possibly an inside joke. The publishing industry is actually a monolithic object. Perusing a random selection of literary websites we discover that the object most sought after by an overwhelming majority of agents is something called YA  NA. Which leaves us then having to figure out what YA  NA might be. It could be the name of a Chinese ping pong player, or possibly a Chinese panda, but that would only be relevant if the Chinese had somehow secretly taken over the US publishing business.

In which case the absolute best thing you could be at this moment in time is a Chinese female writer, willing to toe the party line for a profit, but not above the occasional dissident-sounding paragraph, with a penchant for historical, family-oriented romance fiction (no incest, please), as long as no one actually takes off any clothes and all kissing occurs with mouths closed.

Turns out YA NA actually means Young Adult / New Adult, referring to teenagers and people in their early twenties.  So basically you can be a YA or a NA, but not both. Although there are a large number of NAs who continue to behave like YAs.
 Still, one cannot resist the obvious question:  When was the last time any of us have witnessed anyone in either of these age brackets reading a book? 

The equally obvious answer:  YAs and NAs do not read, but they do shop, often compulsively.  As with their  OA (older adult) counterparts, the thrill is in the buying of the thing, not so much the having and / or using of it.

 This also explains why, for example, an 850 page tome on the Franco-Prussian War can become an instant N.Y. Times Bestseller.

I absolutely have to have this thing.

It's called a book, and you will never read it.

So ... what's your point?

It further explains why I'm currently working on a Dystopian Paranormal YA Romance about two fifteen-year-old Chinese junior high school students whose budding love for each other is only overshadowed by their desire to reconnect with the extraterrestrial parents who abandoned them at birth on planet Earth.  



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Girl with Gun

Long assumed lost to the ravages of fading time, misplaced memory and mainstream publishing indifference, the final manuscript of the late, great, obscurely brilliant and clinically insane writer, Henry Hank Clatterbuck, has recently been excavated in, of all improbable places, an outdoor flea market in Ulaanbaatar. As an homage to Hank, the first tattered chapter is offered below.
Bang, Bang, Honey Pie
(part 1)

Gaze, if you will, upon this exquisite piece of weaponry, the man is saying, his thick, rubbery-looking lips almost blowing a kiss on the word weaponry. Pay particular attention to the cold forged steel, he says, stroking the long barrel with his stubby fingers, like he might start sex moaning any minute. Does look cold, I have to admit. Wouldn't want to be touching it in the middle of winter.
The sort of firearm that defines a man, he goes on. Who he is, why he is. Cuts right through all the sentimental crap of the confused male identity whiners and their politically correct hangers on.

I'm standing there with Skimmer, who's technically my Dad, but I've always called him Skimmer. Dad just lacks realism. Not that I doubt it was actually his seed that intervened in some convoluted fashion with my Momma's egg. No way around that incontrovertible fact. Just that he's the sort of man you can't exactly imagine as a Dad. More like a big, moody, unpredictable baby. Not that I don't sort of like him. He's got his occasional good qualities, although good may be a stretch, and definitely don't stand around thinking you can count on them in a crisis.

Care to hold it, the guy asks Skimmer.
Skimmer sure does. He grabs it by its pretty pearly-looking handle and does that judging-something's-value-by-its-heft thing. Looks like he's shaking hands, or exercising his puny arm muscles.
Go ahead, the guy urges. Smell it.
Skimmer raises the gun to his nostrils and takes a long serious sniff. Closes his eyes, seems to be enjoying the odor, although I'm wondering how something made of cold forged steel can smell at all.
Now tell me, the guy says, his face all pink and puffy with pride or something. What does that say to you?

Skimmer has to think about this for a minute and then says, Uh, clarity.
The guy looks only half pleased, but says, Yeah, that's a good one. Anything else?
Well, Skimmer says, glancing around like he's hoping angels will suddenly appear and whisper the correct answer to him. Freedom?
There you go, the guy smiles, showing plenty of less than beautiful looking teeth.

There he goes where? I'm wondering. I am familiar with the concept of freedom. It's what people are always whining about the federal government stealing, also what Momma claims she has none of, owing to the unfortunate circumstance of being married to a man like Skimmer. But how a gun says freedom, I can't figure, although judging by the grunts of approval from all the men standing nearby, I may be the only one.
One giant of a guy with a big bald head and scary tattoos up and down both arms slaps Skimmer on the back, shouts, “Right on, my brother.
Skimmer seems pleased that he's all of a sudden so popular. Generally people tend to avoid him like a disease.
Yeah, Skimmer says, she's a real little beauty, isn't she?

For a stupid instant I think he may be talking about me, you know, like being an actual human Dad, making an announcement to the thick-necked multitudes that some things – i.e. his darling daughter – are a lot cuter and more interesting than some dumb gun. No such luck. The way Skimmer's caressing the thing, his eyes going all moist, like he's just met the one and only true love of his life, it's pretty clear that in the shriveled up universe he inhabits, I barely exist. 

Hello! Remember me?
Skimmer makes a move to hand the little beauty, which by the way is anything but little, back to the guy behind the counter, but you can tell his heart's not in it. He's like a guy who can't make up his mind, knows he should, but would prefer to just stand here forever, to the end of time, doing nothing.
Maybe the little lady would like to hold it, the guy says to Skimmer, who stares at the guy like he's suddenly speaking Chinese. Huh? he says.

The guy uses his eyes – eyes, I notice, that are starting to look a lot like the eyes of a snake, the kind you sort of think might be smiling, but turns out it's just doing what it does with its mouth right before it bites you – to steer Skimmer's bewildered brain over and down to where guess who is standing.

Oh! Skimmer says, like he's just figured out some big mystery that's been tormenting him his whole, stupid life. How about it, Honey Pie, he says. Wanna hold the gun?

In case you're wondering, no, Honey Pie's not my real name. It's just what Skimmer calls me when he's in a good mood, or when we're in public and he wants to come off looking like he's some sort of nearly normal person. Meanwhile, why would I wanna? I'd much rather be holding a hotdog, or maybe a puppy. I shake my head in what I hope will be a definitive fashion.

Never too young to start, missy, snake eyes says, leaning over the counter towards me, at least as far as his big jelly belly will tolerate.

No thanks, I say. Guns are bad things, I say. They maim and kill on a fairly regular basis.
Talk about the deadly silence of outer space. A hush falls over the entire place like a giant mute tidal wave. I'm guessing if looks could kill, I'd be a goner. Skimmer appears like his head might explode.

Just an opinion, I shout. It's called free speech, in case your dumb brains are wondering.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Trust None Of What You Hear, Less Of What You See **

It's all happening right there before your eyes, but you don't see a thing. You went blind thirty seconds ago from the sheer dull dumbness of it all. Where's all the beauty gone, you howl into the mirror - not that you had any idea you were standing in front of one. Ah, but then do not fail to discriminate between appearance and Reality, you remind yourself; how things seem as opposed to how they actually are ...  unless, of course, how they really are is simply how they seem. Why assume otherwise? Your perception, as limited as it may be, is all you've got.

Hey, that's some scary shit. I mean, there must be a better answer. Dark matter, for example? Don't that count for something?

Yes, all that dark matter in your head no doubt explains why you're such a dim-witted idiot.

Today's Joke Section

Two schizophrenics run into each other on the street.
Schizo one says, "Hey, who the hell are all you people?"
Schizo two says, "Terrific, I'm hearing those damn voices again."

Why did the Radical Nominalist cross the road?
Because doing so demonstrated absolutely nothing.
(Wait a minute, is that funny? I don't get it.)

Why can't you believe anything elementary particles tell you?
 Because they make up everything.

Enough! My perception of you is rapidly deteriorating.

In any case, worrying about how things appear is pretty much passe, at least on certain news networks, which now speak exclusively in terms of optics.
As in: What, in your opinion, are the optics of the current situation? One might also speak of optical implications, of which, apparently, there are many.

Things no longer appear, they have varying degrees of optical relevance. An ugly person is now referred to as optically challenged. Not being able to see eye to eye is simply a matter of optical divergence. The gorgeous girl who just started working at the local convenience store is someone you optically obsess over. You're spending a ton of money on worthless crap in order to maximize optical opportunity.

Finally, you work up the nerve to speak to her:

"I'm smitten by your optics and would very much enjoy some form of ocular contact with you. Does that strike you as something you might be optically open to?"
At which point she punches you in the eye, screaming, "Stay the hell away from me, you freak."

An optical illusion, by the way, remains an optical illusion. An optical delusion, on the other hand, suggests an egregious misuse - either intentional or as a function of genetic defect, of the prevailing optics.

To sum up:

What we see is all there is. Our near-compulsive inability to actually see it goes a long way to explain the ongoing tragedy of the human condition.

** From a Bruce Springsteen song. Name the song and win an all expenses paid trip to the upcoming, semi-annual Bloggers Conclave in Mogadishu..


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fragments of the Day, Courtesy of CrazyWorld.Com

We've got individuals on top of buildings.
People on buildings?
That's correct.

They were screaming and yelling for help.
The people?
We believe so.

You've been out in the crowds looking for um, right?
We don't know what we're facing.
Are the criminally insane involved?
On the top of buildings, you mean?
Is that where they are?

What's the big deal about fuck, anyway?

Ex: A brief dialogue utilizing fuck...

Yeah, what the fuck?
Who the fuck knows?
Whatever, man. It's fucked up.
I don't even fucking care anymore.
Fuck it!

I think before we even think about it, first things first.
What even is it, in their eyes?
They told me, we all he got.
What do you make of that, fact?
I'm not gonna second guess.

The healing can't begin while we're still picking at the scab.
It used to be they could stand in one spot.
It was demonstrable at that point.
Well, it's out of our hands now.

So what if you're lucky enough to be on TV?

You can call someone a crazy son-of-a-bitch; cannot call someone a crazy fuck.
Bastard, okay; Shithead, not okay.
Last thoughts, Chuck, then we gotta go.
Fuck you! And my name's not Chuck.

*If you're super lucky enough to be in a movie:  you can call someone a motherfucker just before shooting him in the head, but ladies, you better make sure you're wearing a bra when you do it.

uh, the more uh, of uh, them the uh, better
explain what you mean
people is in over their head, is all
are you suggesting that multiple individuals are sharing a single head?
a mysterious woman Josie is all of a sudden reading a script
she didn't use the F-word, did she?
still no reason to shoot the bitch

(wait a minute, can he say bitch on the air?)

I'm in angst every day.

Sometimes you see images like, this..............

Friday, July 25, 2014

Life Imitates Art, Badly...

Maybe it's the weather. People generally get dumber in the heat. Dumber than what, though? You keep thinking the explosion of global stupidity can't get any worse, that there has to be a point of saturation, beyond which it becomes impossible to be surprised by all the stupid things people are constantly doing.

But then maybe it's not so much the sheer idiocy at play, as the blatant lack of originality displayed by the idiotic doers.

As Hank the homeless idiot-savant says, "If you want to act like a moron all the time, that's fine. But it don't mean you can't infuse a little creativity into the process."

Wait a minute, Hank. Did you just use the word infuse?

"Employed it, actually."

Try to remain focused. You're drifting off point like some brain-damaged bug.

Anyway, the latest dumb trend in crazy-trendy America is the leaving-the-kids-in the-car-in- superheated-parking-lots thing. Seriously, cliche anyone?  The kid-in-the-car season kicked off with that guy in Texas or Alabama, one of those low I.Q. States, who "forgot" his kid was in the back seat for 8 hours while he went into work, came out a couple of times to sex-text with some junior high school girl, and never noticed the boiling baby. It was a terrible accident, he claims. A terrible cliche, at any rate.

First of all, the guy looks dumb, the kind of guy who's so dumb he thinks he's smart. He marries the quasi-perky/on the verge of dumpy-looking girl next door, who also isn't too bright, and the very first thing they do is have a kid, only to discover (yikes!) having a kid ain't easy. It tends to fuck up your life in ways you never (lacking the capacity) imagined.  This is especially true, of course, when you're a self-involved asshole. But come on, credit where credit is due. While busy researching ways to get rid of a kid and make it appear accidental, he also found time to sexually exploit minors online.

Hey man, it's called multitasking!

This is a guy who never should have been allowed to have kids in the first place. Maybe it's society's fault for not preventing him from doing so.

Not willing to be outdone, some woman in Arizona, or maybe Nebraska, left not only her kid in the scorching car while she had her hair done, but also the dog. Mindlessly heinous to be sure, but not entirely lacking in originality. 

When questioned by police, the woman said,  "Yes, I'm obviously stupid enough to leave a kid in a hot car while I get a perm, which by the way I desperately needed,  but I think I safely avoided the cliche by adding the dog."

Then there's the recent story of a 16 year old girl who, while at a party, was drugged and sexually assaulted, her attackers videotaping the entire thing, then promptly putting it online, where it immediately received more than a million 'likes.'

Yeah, cool, man!

Adding significantly to the imbecile factor, one of the boys responsible was quoted as saying,
"Hey, that chick is now officially famous. If anything, she should be thanking us."

As appalling as this is, and notwithstanding the extremely warped sense of social media displayed, I'm sure I saw the exact same episode on Law and Order S.V.U. a couple of years ago. I know I've seen the baby-in-the-car episode.

So what's real and what isn't? Can we even continue to use the word 'real' with a straight face? Is 'reality' really the ultimate cliche?  Is life merely the ongoing reenactment of bad TV? 
Do we (no, don't go there!) even exist?

I'll be outside, sitting in the car, thinking about it.....


Friday, June 27, 2014

Tit For Tat

So there you are, more or less, the latest version of yourself, meticulously constructed under, let's face it, less than ideal circumstances, the possibility of appearing an actual person increasingly more a strain than a pastime.  The big question: Who are you?

There ought to be a book you can read to figure it out - Figuring Out If You Actually Exist, And Why That Might Matter.

There should be someone you can ask:

"Hey man, can you see me?"
"Whoa! Who said that?"
"Come on. Tell me something about myself, reassure me."
"Okay, you're the coolest fake human I know."
"So, you do know me."
"Uh, the usual deal is in play? Fifty bucks, no questions asked?"
"Yeah, sure."
"I so know you, man. In fact, knowing you barely covers it. I mean, I KNOW YOU! Put it this way, I comprehend you. I grasp the nature of you. I ..."
"Fifty's my absolute limit."
"In that case, I'll see ya - wouldn't want to be ya."
"I heard that."

Okay, so you're paying people for positive feedback. Is that so wrong? Approbation is a commodity, like anything else. You could ask your friends, except you don't have any. No, that's not exactly true. You have friends, even sort of like a few of them. It's no big mystery that most of them are morons, but these are people at least willing to talk with you. Okay, 'willing to' may be a stretch. People tend to be nicer than they normally would be when they suspect you might be carrying a gun; a.k.a. packing heat; going heavy; etc.

Is that a Glock in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
Neither. It's a Beretta. And I'm pretty sure the safety is off.


So this guy is driving along a highway somewhere in Sweden. Why would he do that, you ask? Who knows? Guys do stuff. This time of year in Sweden it's light for like 22 hours a day, the sun in the sky resembling a screaming skull that refuses to go away. You tend to run out of sensible things to do. Sleep is pretty much out of the question, and you can only stay drunk for so long before people start to notice. They're drunk too, of course, but not dumb enough to get in a car and drive on a highway.

Anyway, he's driving and sees this road sign, a sign on a highway, apparently they have those in Sweden, too, although naturally you would expect them to be written in Swedish.  This one, however, was not. And it's not like the Swedes to joke around with road signs. Lighthearted highway high jinks in general is not a feature of the Scandinavian agenda. Basic rule of thumb: Don't make stuff up while you're driving.

Get to the sign already.
Right. Sorry.

The sign.  It read:  "Tom Tits Experiment."  Only that.  No other explanation.  No "Please refer to your driver's handbook for further instructions."

Wait a minute, did you just see that sign?
I did, but I'm pretending I didn't. The sun is playing tricks, that's all.
We should definitely go back and investigate.
Are you insane?
Uh ...
No, don't answer that. Are you at least going heavy?
So I may have put on a few kilos. There's no reason to taunt me with it.
A gun! Are you carrying your gun?
Where do you think we are, L.A.?

What does it mean?  The logical inference is that someone named Tom (not even a Swedish name, interestingly enough) is performing some sort of experiment on tits, which sounds illegal, not to mention more than a little creepy.

Tom:  "Unlike most men, content to sit back and passively obsess over tits, I've taken my obsession to the next level, practical experimentation."

Unless Tom's surname is Tits; equally bizarre, if for different reasons. A man named Tom Tits is performing some unknown experiment somewhere in Sweden, the mere fact of which somehow warrants a road sign.

The obvious conclusion is that Sweden may be a stranger place than we originally thought, although we are all aware of the pitfalls of jumping hastily to conclusions. We'd like to hear from Tom directly on this, or from anyone who knows Tom, perhaps a former girlfriend who bailed as soon as the weird experiments started.  Contact us. Anonymity guaranteed.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Narcissists' Dilemma

Many of us assumed (desperately hoped) that the Twitter debacle, the deluge of idiotic and banal tweets, in 30 words or less, would be as bad as it got - the bottom of the social media barrel, as it were. No such luck.

"I'm not sure why, but just saying the word tweet makes me hate myself, even more than I normally do."

In his new book, The Social Media Disease, Dr. Wilburt Humpies refers to social media phenomena as a bottomless pit of potential self-abuse and destruction.  Any mass-participatory social system, according to Humpies, rapidly seeks the lowest common denominator; judgment, awareness and overall intelligence rapidly plummet, resulting in a disturbing collective stupidity, all the more worrisome because this blatant dumbness is generally misperceived as trendy coolness.

"I have 25,000 followers on Twitter. Unfortunately, they're all morons."

So you might inquire, what could possibly be more appalling than a billion people sending out speculative tweets on the actual dimensions of Kim Kardashian's ass?  (Hint: it's smaller than a planet)

How about a 'Selfie' of Kim Kardashian's ass?

Got a face?  Got an ass?  Got a camera?  The entire population of Earth is apparently dying to see it.

"I usually spend 4 hours a day doing selfies. I guess it could be considered obsessive - I mean, my boyfriend left me, claimed he couldn't compete with my phone - but how else would I know I exist?"

No question that the selfie is the narcissist's ultimate wet dream. After all, it's all about me anyway, and now my face is here to prove it. A recent study conducted by the Institute of Secretive Psychology concluded that 80% of the U.S. population now displays clear cut narcissistic tendencies. Further analysis determined that 79.8% of those had absolutely no right to do so.

What's the difference between a solipsist and a narcissist?
The solipsist says, 'Only the Self is real.'
The narcissist says,  'Correction. Only my self is real.'

Fortunately, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel of mindless self-involvement. Much like nature itself, irony will always find a way.

Professor Linden Henkel, at the Litchfield Connecticut Community College, has been investigating social media, some might say obsessive-compulsively - even while admitting to spending a not infinitesimal amount of time surfing porn sites - and has uncovered a fascinating by-product of the self-photo craze.

 Memory loss

"The obsessive concern with controlling and projecting self image - via the so-called selfie - onto social media unquestioningly results in a kind of mental impairment; specifically a deterioration of identity, accompanied by a gradual loss of ability to recognize oneself."

Have to love it, right?

  I don't exactly know who this is in the photo, but whoever it is, he keeps jumping in front of my camera whenever I try to take a picture of myself.

Sending you my latest selfie. If by any chance you recognize me, please let me know who I am.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jupiter Roars, Mars Can't Sleep

So yeah, it's like, uh, like a, you know, a roar, or a howl, or a scream, or a hum, that's it, a hum, but nothing like no ordinary hum, like humming along with a song on the radio, remember radio, people used to listen to them, radios I mean, and hum along, only now the whole thing is out of control, a disaster, most likely lethal in the long term, meanwhile driving a person to the brink of bloody madness.

That woman drove her husband to an early grave.
Yes, but at least she didn't force him to walk.

The situation with schizophrenics is a fundamental inability to contain themselves within their own skins.  The desire, often experienced as unremitting terror, call it a tendency with extremely rigid guidelines, is to be transposed out of one's own head, beyond self, into a state nothingness, where at least it is relatively quiet.

So, she asked me, what are your future goals?
Have none, I told her.
That's so sad, she said, her eyes peering directly through me, gazing off into space where, presumably, her own future goals hovered, bathed in golden light, still out of reach, but nonetheless inevitable.
Back in those days, of course, one could claim to be 'living in the moment' with a straight face, without first having to explain the concept of intentional self-obliteration. Nowadays everyone is living in the moment with one eye trained on the clock. So maybe this particular moment didn't quite work out - on the other hand I haven't had a single suicidal thought in the past 30 seconds - but I maintain exceedingly high expectations for the next moment, in which, it goes without saying, I will be exclusively living.

But what about the future?
Don't make me laugh.
No goals?
My only goal, in the moment, needless to say, is to terminate this conversation with you as soon as possible.

After I got a Masters degree in Philosophy, this guy I knew, though didn't particularly like, made one of those incredulous faces - the sort one might make after being informed by someone that they were regularly abducted by aliens - asking with minimally disguised contempt, "What are you going to do with that?"

My clever retort:  "The more important question, from my perspective at any rate, is what will it do with me?"

Not a whole lot, as it's turned out, except for providing me with an ever-increasing fuzzy frame of reference within which to display a fairly unsophisticated grasp of irony. But then again, the sheer hopeless impracticality of it continues to resonate.

So, your future goal is ..?
Uh, a life of hopeless impracticality.
Oh My God, that's soooooo sad!
And of course to obtain an advanced degree in philosophy.
Okay, now you're just being redundant.
Go to hell, loser!

So yeah, like I was saying, it comes on at night, this sound, rattling around in my head, a buzzing, screeching, vibrating racket. At first I thought I was losing my hearing, then that I was losing my mind, but now I'm convinced it's coming from out there, tearing holes in the sky, seeping through the walls, an inexplicable phenomenon that, for reasons beyond all human knowing, has targeted ..... me. 

I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so o tired, my mind is on the blink...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Temporaily Lost, But Not Entirely Forgotten

Based (however loosely) on a true story....

A spate of disappearances recently; planes, planets, hope, my car keys...  The latest version of things eerily vanishing involves four young women who on a whim hiked into the Yosemite wilderness in the middle of the night and haven't been seen since.

Yeah, it was either four women or eight, reports vary, self-proclaimed eyewitnesses keep changing their stories. One theory is that the four women were actually four pairs of identical twins, that it was some sort of twin thing, like a pact or something, although local law enforcement officials are actively playing down the whole twin angle.

At his daily media briefing, Sheriff Mort Stetson was fairly adamant:  "At this point in the investigation there is no credible evidence to support the twins hypothesis. Until otherwise indicated, our official position is that this is nothing more than a malicious rumor generated on social media, its sole intention to fuel conspiracy fringe hysteria. Now I'll take a few questions."

"Excuse me, Sheriff, but is there any possibility the four sets of twins are actually two sets of quadruplets?"

"Did you not hear what I just said?"

"Any credence to the report that search teams have been operating in the wrong area of the park?"

"Based on credible intelligence, we were initially concentrating out efforts in the eastern section of the park, although it now appears that the hikers may have mysteriously changed course, retracing their tracks and then inexplicably turning north. We are admittedly baffled by this, but suspect that, if true, some sort of illicit drug use may very well be involved.

"Has terrorism been ruled out, Sheriff?"

"At this point nothing has been ruled out entirely, although if one or more of these girls is a terrorist, we're more or less stumped as to what their objective might be. I mean, what are they going to do, blow up a tree?"

"Could you comment on Chinese involvement in the search effort?"

"As one of the missing women may be of Chinese ancestry,  however remotely, and as two of the women currently live in San Francisco's Chinatown, the Chinese government felt justified in inserting itself into the investigation. Chinese satellite imagery, however, depicting what appears to be a large circus tent on fire and several confused elephants roaming aimlessly about the nearby forest, has been for the most part discounted. I have been assured that there are no circuses currently operating in Yosemite, nor is any sub-species of elephant indigenous to northern California."

"Isn't it possible, Sheriff, that a herd of elephants escaped undetected from a local zoo?"

About as likely as you scoring over 75 on a standardized I.Q. test. "I'm certainly no expert on elephants, but I think we can all agree that subtly and subterfuge are not exactly two of their strong suits."

"Is it conceivable these apparent elephants are actually other animals cleverly disguised as elephants, or possibly dinosaurs?"

"Okay, I won't answer that, for reasons which should be painfully obvious, but I will take one more question."

"How seriously are you entertaining the suggestion that these women are suffering from some form of collective fugue state?"

"We have consulted with several psychologists on the fugue phenomenon, who inform us that in certain high stress situations, often involving spatial/temporal disorientation, it can be infectious. We therefore have to consider it, although frankly we are hoping this is not the case. If these girls have gone fugue, they could be all the way into Oregon by now. On a more positive note, I can tell you that one of the women was apparently fitted with a microchip locator implant sometime prior to this reckless hiking fiasco. Once activated, this locator gives off a steady ping, inaudible to the human ear, but easily detected by the various highly sophisticated technology we are currently employing.  The downside on this is that while the ping is inaudible to humans, it is highly audible to wolves, bears and other natural predators."

"How about elephants?"

"I believe my position on answering any further elephant-related questions has been clearly established."

"So what your saying is that these women might be killed and at least partially eaten by the time they're found."

"Regrettably, yes, but let's not lose sight of the most important issue here. We will find them. Dead or alive, their loved ones deserve closure."

"Oh, what a load of crap!"

"Okay, who said that? The elephant guy?"



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Of Simulacrums, Strange Attractors & Scandinavian Coffee Klatsches

Heading presumably north, the shift in air texture more or less a giveaway, but the compass needle is acting up, no more than a jittery approximation of direction. The poles are in flux, possibly contemplating some dramatic rearrangement, the prophesied reversal perhaps, happens every 450,000  years or so, lucky us to be here for it this time around.

One of the many consequences of a major magnetic repositioning is likely to be a dramatic rise in confusion. The simple act of pointing north will become a challenge, a vague though palpable uneasiness will no doubt grip the human population, a kind of global disorientation that will have people walking into walls, attempting to stand on their heads and, for a not insignificant number of people, a descent into full blown madness. 

So basically no discernible difference.  Aside from the fact that we can no longer refer to the Australians as being 'down under.' They would now be 'up over,' as ridiculous as that sounds. And yes, there is the off chance that a magnetic flip would wipe out all life on Earth, and yet we are compelled to ask ourselves, if our entire species was eradicated from the planet in, say, the next 30 seconds, would anyone really notice?

Hey, did you feel that? What the heck just happened?
What are you talking about? I didn't feel anything?
You don't feel like your skin is suddenly melting from non-deflected solar radiation?
I have absolutely no idea what that would feel like, so how would I know?
In any case, you might want to take a peak in the mirror, which by the way appears to be hanging upside down, not to mention pulsating in a way I can only describe as decidedly ominous.
Are you completely insane?
Now that you mention it...

Meanwhile the magnetosphere sighs, the Northern Lights have been turned off in an effort to conserve energy and Jupiter roars. As it usually does, Not so much because it cares, more because it doesn't. Damn distant gas giant!

A woman writes in to an online advise column, asking:
"What exactly is a strange attractor, and is it at all possible that I am one? Admittedly, I am no stranger to the occasional bout of strangeness, and the men I seem to attract are, well, let's just say they tend to give a whole new meaning to the concept of strange. I've also been told that I use the expression, 'Wow, that's so strange' way too often."

 Regrettably, with the exception of a few scientist types who think chaos is cool and in general behave quite strangely themselves (you may have even dated one of them), no one actually knows what a strange attractor is. Suffice it to report that ...

Strange attractors can take an infinite number of different forms, all fractal in nature and demonstrating infinite self-similarity.   Say what now?

You might also want to consider that computer simulations of strange attractors are invariably quite beautiful.  So why not start thinking of yourself as this year's viral version of a fractal beauty pageant winner and while you're at it begin upgrading your standards vis-a-vis the male of the species.

Or simply do what I've done, head north (south actually) to Scandinavia, the new down under, for an out of this world cup of coffee.  Sit back, savor a giant mug and wait for the lights to be turned on again. You probably won't even realize that the climate now resembles Argentina.



Thursday, February 27, 2014

Twilight Of The Headshrinkers


Excerpted from Confessions of a Rogue Psychotherapist, by Desmond Darling.

Case Study # 37 

Sitting across from me is my three o’clock, Sandra Levy, a brooding, enigmatic Jewess with raven hair, volatile green eyes and a body literally demanding some form of ungodly worship. A raging physical beauty with a seriously disturbed mind. Classic case of dissociative personality is my best guess, brought on, no doubt, by an early childhood trauma.
Psycho-therapeutic Note: When in doubt, always blame an early childhood trauma. It sounds compelling and, as few people have any actual memories of early childhood, there is little chance of being challenged on it.
As usual, Sandra is wearing next to nothing; a wispy, see-though blouse, sans-bra, a shiny, oh so short, artificial snakeskin miniskirt and, making an educated guess here, no underpants. She has her hair done up like the Bride of Frankenstein, minus the white streaks, her lips a shade of indigo reminiscent of the fluid emitted by certain species of exotic jellyfish when aroused. I’m not sure whether to hammer a stake through her heart, or make wild, lethal love to her in an giant fish tank.
  Somehow I restrain myself from doing either.
“So, Sandra,” I say. “How are we today?”
"You, then. How are you today?"
“How do you think I am?” she wants to know, sounding annoyed. “I saw her again this morning, following me, as usual.”
“And by her you mean...?”
“Me, of course. That psycho bitch!”
Lest we lose sight of the elusive thread here, Sandra believes that whenever she leaves her apartment she is being followed by herself. Not merely someone who looks exactly like her, but she herself, following her. On rare occasions there is more than one of herself following her.
“And how did that make you feel?”
“What kind of dumb fucking question is that? How do you think it made me feel?”
“It helps to say the words, Sandra.”
“Okay," Sandra snarls, "Let's see. Upset, pissed off, stressed out, depressed, enraged, sad, murderous, ill, revolted, angry, dead inside, horny...”
Wow, that's a lot of stuff. Maybe I should be taking notes, cause all I can remember is ...
“So, horny, huh?"
“Uh, yes, one of the many emotions I was experiencing.”
“Go on.”
“She followed me into my favorite clothing shop. Everything I tried on, she tried on the same thing, only she looked better. A lot better, actually.”
"Which prompted you to ..?"
"Start screaming, naturally."
"Somewhat reasonable under the circumstances."
"Not how the security guard saw it. He threw me out of the store." 
"Well, you were screaming."
“She was screaming, too. He didn’t throw her out. If that's not a blatant of some kind of discrimination, I don't know what is.”
"What did you do next?"
"The only thing I could do. I accosted the blind guy selling pencils outside the train station, dragged him into the nearest restroom and had sex with him."
"Bet he never saw that coming."
"Nothing.  And was she - and by she I of course mean you - there while you were ..."
"No, she never follows me when I'm having sex."
"If only you could be having sex all the time, problem solved."
"Believe me, Doctor, I am trying."
"And how did this rather sordid sexual encounter with the visually impaired pencil seller cause you to feel?"
"Again with the feelings?"
"Trust me, why don't you?"
Sandra's expression confirms that trust is not something I should be expecting anytime soon. She issues a lengthy, exasperated sigh, at the end of which ... "soiled, depraved, vaguely satisfied, nauseous, hungry, existentially challenged, promiscuous, dull, dizzy, disappointed, horny..."

"Still horny?"

"Pretty much always." 

“Okay, Sandra, let's approach this from a different angle. Contrary to all available evidence, you're not hopelessly insane. What you are is a twin. You have a long-lost, identical twin sister, of whom, for reasons embedded in your unique psychopathology, you have repressed all conscious memory. She, in an effort to reestablish a relationship with you, her sister, but wary of your reaction, and no doubt constrained by her own challenging mental typography, has no recourse but to surreptitiously follow you."

“I have a twin brother, Doctor.”

 “Your brother is a twin? Really? Any chance of triplets?” 

 “I can only hope you’re joking." 

“Hey, a little levity never hurts. In fact, I think that if you could begin to appreciate the comical

 nature of your situation, vis-a-vis yourself who follows you, you might start to feel a lot better.”

“But what’s comical about being followed by yourself?” 
“The question, Sandra, is what’s not comical about it?”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pass the Prozac, Pray to Jesus, Pull the Damn Plug

"One is hard pressed to make the case that the world is not continuing along its plodding though seemingly ineluctable path towards the precipitous brink of ... if not outright doom, then at least a chronic state of ultra- absurdity."

Even a cursory glance at any day's 'news' suggests that the above is more than merely an exercise in glib fatalism.

*Global stupidity levels are up (way up, actually). People are also becoming fatter and uglier at an alarming rate. One respected futurist predicts that by the year 2080 it will be extremely difficult to find anyone on the planet who is not fat, dumb and bad-looking.

"There will be exceptions, of course, but these slim smart attractive people will be considered dangerous anomalies, evolutionary hybrids, and will most likely be ostracized, possibly exiled to remote polar regions."

*A photo secretly smuggled out of North Korea shows Great Leader, Kim Jung (chubby boy) Un, attending an apres mass execution party dressed as Minnie Mouse. Whether the extremely tall Donald Duck in the background is in fact Dennis Rodman cannot be independently verified.

"Kim has never made any attempt to conceal his love for all things Disney. He envisions an exotic merger between the Hermit Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom, which he has tentatively decided will be called the Maggot Kingdom."

 *Justin Dweeber, or whatever his name is, now has 40 million twitter followers.
 Not sure what that means, but imagine it describes a situation in which vast multitudes of female tweenies stare mindlessly at their cell phones all day long in breathless prepubescent anticipation of their favorite pop poodle boy tweeting something insipidly inspiring to their mostly incomprehensible lives.

#no talent but somehow keep getting away with it // eating pizza with pet monkey/a.k.a. bodyguard Bruno. Cripes! No napkins. Gonna smoke some hash tag (ha ha) later / maybe get busted in Boston. How Cool Me Is!

*Leading story on CNN:  "The growing threat of toothpaste tube terrorism."

What will these evildoers think of next?  It is apparently possible to blow up an airplane or, say, an Olympic venue with a single economy size tube. Somewhat ironically, the average terrorist rarely if ever brushes after meals.

CNN:  "So how concerned should the general public be?"

Anti-terrorist expert:  "Well, people should not necessarily begin fearing their toothpaste. We do however advise that toothpaste should not be left unattended, particularly in places where terrorist types are known to congregate."

*Mental health experts from 173 countries have convened at a secret location (these people take paranoia quite seriously) for their annual psycho-therapeutic conclave.

Reports one British psychiatrist, "It's a bloody madhouse but, the occasional delusional episode aside, we are making progress."

Perhaps the most disconcerting revelation thus far: 80% of the world's population now suffers from some form of depression.

"We are essentially a depressive planet, trapped in mindless cultural constructs, vaguely aware that the erosion of an authentic individual identity is the sine qua non for the rampant cannibalistic consumerism upon which the Capitalist paradigm thrives, but helpless to do anything about it."

More troubling, at least from the therapists' point of view, is the prospect of the worldwide depression rate hitting 100%, thereby rendering the very concept of depression as a mental disorder effectively moot. Basically, if everyone is crazy then, by definition, no one is. Not much money to be made offering treatment for a nonexistent illness.

As one therapist put it, "Shit, now I'm depressed."

*Once again - and not terribly surprising - Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have been voted the most religious states in the good old U.S.A.  Coincidentally, these states also lead the nation in high school dropout rates, obesity and gun ownership.

What does this suggest?  That in Mississippi one is as likely to be randomly shot by a disgruntled fat person in a church as by a deranged psychopath in a shopping mall.

*And finally football / U.S. style.
At last week's supremely boring Superbowl game, the Coca Cola company ran a commercial in which the American anthem was sung by foreign people in a variety of languages.
(I've heard that the Lithuanian version was especially moving)

Completely missing the subtle message that the emerging global culture is strictly corporate in nature - so prepare yourself to be conquered and consumed - thousands of angry American morons - sorry! - patriots took to - what else? - twitter to denounce the beverage giant.

One tweet in particular not only nicely sums up this situation, but also reflects just how essential the mindless application of social media has become in our lives.

"fuck outa here you communist liquid!"


Friday, January 24, 2014

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

Yes, dear reader, the results are in and they are not particularly good. Apparently we are all aging,  at least according to the experts, many of whom have been studying the phenomenon for so long, and are as a result so old themselves, that a certain amount of skepticism regarding their data is unavoidable.

Nevertheless, the aging process, also referred to as Personal Entropy Affliction (P.E.A. for those of us generally too short of breath to actually say Personal Entropy Affliction) is by and large incontestable.

As we may recall, all systems move inexorably towards a state of maximum disorder. And while this may be fortuitous on cosmic scales, as it enables temporary pockets of life to pop into being, on the human scale there is pretty much a zero upside. The arrow of time, in other words, is the friend of no man.

Noted Gerontologist Mindy Middlemarch focuses her research on what she refers to as the 'two-pronged assault' on the human life form.

Prong one concerns the gradual, though persistent and, to be perfectly honest, irreversible breakdown of the physical body. Things start to hurt, stop working or, in some cases, simply fall off. There is also the unpleasant tendency for things to mysteriously turn into other things, for which teams of specialists are standing by to provide names.

 A normal human head, for example, can over time take on the appearance of a lumpy, discolored root vegetable.

78 year old man:  So, Doc, can you tell me what the hell's going on here?
Highly trained specialist:  The explanation is fairly complex, quite likely beyond what your current intellectual status will allow you to fully grasp.
Man:  Still, I'd like to hear it.
Specialist:  Well, if you insist. You're suffering from an aging-related phenomenon, the precise medical term for which is Potato Head Syndrome.
Man:  Oh dear God!  Can it be treated?
Specialist: Afraid not.
Man: So what's my prognosis?
Specialist: Hard to predict. You may remain a potato, or progress to the engorged turnip stage, or, in the most extreme case, you could end up resembling a rotting pumpkin.
Man: That's terrible!
Specialist:  True, but look on the bright side. You'll be a big, scary hit come Halloween.

Prong two deals with the deterioration of mental faculties, or as Dr. Middlemarch graciously  characterizes it, the metamorphosis of the mature mind. "Old people don't necessarily lose their minds," she says. "Rather they undergo a critical divergence with temporal reality, what I like to call acute memory displacement, frequently accompanied by a slipping out of sync with current cultural paradigms."

Say what?

Take, for example, the curious case of John P., an 86 year old living in the more or less exact epicenter of the memory-impaired Mid-West. John can recall in exquisite, some might say excruciating, detail the first time he kissed a girl, some 70 years earlier - the contours of her face,
her aroma, skin condition (two tiny pimples on her chin), the tensile adaptability of her lips,
the torque of her trembling hips  (T = r x F), the formulation of her tongue (reluctantly inserted into his mouth for precisely 2.7 seconds), the color of her bra (pale blue, glimpsed furtively while her eyes were closed), the sound she emitted during the kiss (a high-pitched, almost squeaky moan), etc. 

What John cannot recall is which of his five dresser drawers contain his underwear.

Even curiouser is John's apparent disdain for the laws of probability. Statistically speaking, on at least one of every five days, based entirely on random choice, John should be able to put on a clean pair of boxers.

According to Agnes, his wife of 66 years, John has now gone 137 days without the benefit of clean undergarments.  "The situation has become fairly desperate," she tells us.  "He's gotten a lot more stubborn in his old age, refusing to look in any more than one drawer per day, and of course he always gets it wrong. I pretty much have to hold my nose whenever we're in the same room."

When asked to comment on Agnes' assertion,  John says,  "I have no idea who this woman is, but I'm pretty sure she's been stealing my underwear."

*Shown a faded photo of his elementary school class, John was able to correctly name 29 of the 32 students.  However, when handed a framed photo of himself and Agnes on a recent vacation to Orlando, Florida, and given three chances to identify it correctly, his answers were ...
  a) a Biblical artifact   b) a one-way mirror   c) a piece of fruit.

I don't know about you, but I'm really starting to like this guy.

Next time:  How millions of elderly Japanese attempt to stave off dementia by driving  automobiles at unbelievably slow speeds, and the extent to which this practice is responsible for the alarming increase in depression, high blood pressure, heart palpitations and sudden brain aneurisms in the younger Japanese driving population.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fractally Divergent Fiction From The Northern Tier

Here at the Flatulent - sorry! - Fictional Dog headquarters in - if what appears to be going on outside is any indication - I'm guessing Siberia, we're positively giddy to announce the launch of the ...

 2014 F. D. Short Fiction Contest

We've already had at least a couple of people express vaguely ambivalent interest.  One person (presumably), who claims to have chemically self-induced a comatose state in order to avoid having to deal with the "exhaustive and ultimately dehumanizing" frivolities of the holiday season, is eager to write about the experience. Although, as by presumed person's own admission, there is ... "like zero recollection" of said experience, we are somewhat dubious that the minimum 25 word requirement can be met.

Which is a pity because, if you're anything like me, you're dying to know just how dumb and/or twisted a presumed person has to be to choose a coma over spending a few hours with the family.
 Then again ...

A woman living in an area of the U.S. currently in the grim grasp of appallingly frigid weather conditions has submitted a story entitled (possibly) "The Morning My Eyeballs Froze" Unfortunately the sheer volume of blurry typos in this otherwise gripping saga renders it inappropriate for publication, even for a blog which promotes itself as alternative, radically predisposed and mostly immune to mockery.

The first sentence of the story should suffice to make the required point:  

"Duh withermam sayed oon Teebee dat tit wus 90 bellows ouchsighed, bud thuse porple allweeze exaggurrut, I onery waantud to git thr stupoid noisepooper, fur Gawd's saakee."

(Clearly, attempting to type with frozen eyeballs is not without its challenges. But a definite A for effort.

  Furthermore, we are willing to speculate that the most likely object of her quest was a newspaper, although it cannot be entirely discounted that a noisepooper is an actual thing that someone might consider risking an icy death to acquire.)

*Note:  While there are no implacable restrictions on content, it should be kept in mind that, all indications to the contrary, A Fictional Dog is a family oriented blog. Accordingly, entrants should proceed with sensitivity, bearing in mind the time-honored advisory,  sleek artistry over gross banality.

Erotic entries are, of course, welcome, sex being the topic that most of us keep reading stuff all the time in the hope of happening upon. But again, a certain amount of self-imposed discretion goes a long way.

For example:  Last year's entry,  Coitus With A Reality TV Co-Star, was a scintillating, irony-soaked romp, both a sexy, social critique and a good old fashioned screw-fest.

On the other hand, All You Bitches Is Crazy Whores, was little more than a muddled, misogynist rant, neither relevant nor sexy, about as stimulating as a speech by Michelle Bachman.

So Get Busy Writing!

All entries should be between 25 and 78 words.

Winners to be announced on the Spring Equinox.

Once again, the first place winner will find him or herself on a flight (economy class) to Pyongyang, where he or she will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of playing a game of one-on-one basketball with none other than Kim Jung Un.

The pudgy Kim is apparently incapable of jumping, but reportedly has a killer underhand foul shot.

*A word of caution:  Last year's contest winner won the basketball game at the buzzer with a highly improbable 30 foot bank shot. He has neither been seen nor heard from since.