Friday, October 28, 2016

Story (ies) Time

I have been told, by people who would know and have no reason to lie to me, that when they read this dross that I befoul the internet with, that they can hear my voice in their head while they read it. I took, and continue to take this as a huge compliment. Not that I want to be inside anybody's head but my own (and even then sometimes I wish I could exit stage left from it), but that they know me well enough to let me take over the narrative voice that they (and we all) carry around with us. Hopefully, in your head there is only one voice providing the background narration to your life. If there are more than one, then perhaps professional help might be in order.

That narrative voice is important, it might tell you to remember to buy onions for the fantastic soup that you have planned for dinner, or it might tell you to go up to that girl and give it a shot.  Either way it should be your voice doing the narration. A madder than a March hare German philosopher by the name of Schopenhauer claimed that in all of human history there were only about 25 books that people should read. His theory was that when you read a book, you allow the author of that book to take over your narrative voice, and in part your way of thinking, That is a very over simple way to put it, but Schopenhauer was a fucking genius, and me, well not so much. It is that theory of his that I always think about when people tell me that they can hear my voice when they read me. It is a little scary, and a little bit of an ego boost, and gods know I need an ego boost (that ladies and gentlemen is what is otherwise known as sarcasm).

It is also a great responsibility to know that my vast readership of 4, maybe 5 allow me the privilege of taking over the controls, even if it is just for a little while. I don't even have to promise not to break anything. I try to at least entertain these people because of the trust they place in me should not be either abused or misplaced. I am quite certain that I fail more often than I succeed, but I hope at least that the successes are enough to keep my place in their heads. The stories I tell, even as poorly as I tell them, are designed to keep people entertained. I know I can't compete with the multitude of cat videos on YouTube, but I give it my best shot. I understand the occasional attempt to send a cat into space is much more of a draw on one's attention that the ramblings of a semi-literate, mostly drunk, fool with too much time on his hands, but seriously how many cats have to die (never too many) before we realize that jet packs strapped to their backs are a bad idea?

And it is those ramblings, those stories told with (mostly) good intentions that are the point of this blog. There is a fundamental difference between MY story, and my STORY. The former is mine, something that happened in the drudgery that passed for my real life, and with the name changed to protect the guilty, the innocent, and the damned, I relate to the best of my ability. That narration is easy, it follows the semi-logical lines of the actual real life event. Some embellishment is bound to take place, but in the general outline the story is true, or at least true enough to pass muster.  On occasion the story may wander off into semi-fiction, and that can sometimes be attributed to either a faulty memory brought on by took much alcohol, or a desire to spice the story up a bit to make sure people are still paying attention. The MY part of it is the important point. It didn't happen to my mate R______ who is probably under surveillance by all sorts of law enforcement groups (and probably the IRA as well), or my other mate N____, who is dodgy as fuck, or to Ladislaw, who is probably currently waking up and trying to focus blurry vision on the note I left that reads "you were brilliant, not-Alison says hello lover."

The second part is if something is my STORY. Meaning it is made up out of mostly whole cloth. A figment of my imagination, and I do have an imagination. Something that has almost next to nothing in common with the day to day drudgery that masquerades as my real life.  It is something that I try to make original, but struggle with that idea because I wonder if anything is ever truly original. It doesn't star any of my dodgy or not so dodgy (although they are much fewer in number) friends. The setting is not the shit hole town I presently occupy, nor are the names going to be the same (if I bother with names at all).  It is a STORY plain and simple. No real hidden meaning, because I am not that clever, and usually no moral because I am not particularly moral.  These types of stories are truly designed to exercise my imagination, and see if maybe I can move to Paris and slowly starve to death while living the Eric Blair dream of my childhood.

I am no great shakes at writing either type of the above dramas, and I am acutely aware of that shortcoming. It is a painful one to realize, but at least I don't delude myself into thinking I am the second coming of Charles Baudelaire.  However, a recent event has lead me to re-think my (limited) ability. I clearly came to this writing thing late in life, but then again so did Raymond Chandler. Age is not exactly as limiting to writing as it is to playing football, either the American kind or the real kind the rest of the world plays. That event was the reading of another person's attempt to tell a story. I was not exactly the intended audience for the story, nor do I expect the person particularly values my opinion(s) either about literature or anything else. Which is perfect because I don't value their opinion either. It is a relationship based upon mutual indifference with a dash of distaste. It is quite lovely in its own special way.

I obtained my copy of the story this person was trying to tell, and was appalled at the poor quality of the writing. At first glance, I thought that I had missed the first page because the opening paragraph (which is generally important) made no actual sense. I soon realized that wasn't the case, and they had started the story with an very awkward beginning. Awkward beginning are fine if you eventually grow out of them, like your teenage years. Sadly this story did not achieve that desired result. It started somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and proceeded to get worse.  The actual writing, I hesitate to sully the word style by calling it such, seemed to be written by a 12 year old. It was so bad, that I remarked that if a college professor of mine had read it, he would have written "shouldn't this be written in crayon?" at the top of the page next to the giant F and the "poor even for you" that generally graced papers that displeased him. It was abysmal.

That sin was bad enough to warrant this person being shipped to at least the fifth circle of Dante's hell, but it was then compounded even further by the content. Sometimes poor style can be salvaged by good content, it is a bit like the Ugly Duckling child's tale. Sure, the duck is bloody ugly but with a little polish it can be turned into something beautiful, or it possesses an inner beauty that shines through the not so pretty packaging.  This missive compounded poor style with the additional sin of poor content. The content had potential, much in the same way I used to have potential before I settled into the middling career with dodgy friends while living in a shit hole apartment that I currently occupy. It was potential that was sadly so far gone that it was never going to be realized. The poor style and the poor content were finally joined in the "poor" trifecta by the story trying to be something that it was not.  It was told as a "MY story" type of story, but it lacked the one key component that was required. It was full of outright lies.

Not that lying is a hanging offense, as far as I am concerned if you are going to lie you should lie with some degree of aplomb, and a fair amount of extravagance. However, this story was not a blog post, or the opening pages of the great American novel. Its purpose need not concern us here, but it was something that the MY was important to. This person, whom I can not allow myself to call a friend, had mixed up the MY story with the my STORY.  They had told, quite poorly, a STORY something that had not happened to them, but maybe to one of their dodgy friends (if they have friends, dodgy or otherwise).  Or maybe it had happened to some random stranger, and they overheard that person telling the tale of woe and regret on the bus. Making matters worse was the story was really supposed to be true, it wasn't a loan application or anything like that, but it was written in a context and to a group that you really shouldn't lie to (like the IRA).

It boggled my imagination that this person would believe that any right thinking human being would consider their story to be anything but absolute junk. I am not enough of a friend to this person to tell them, gently or otherwise, that what they wrote is donkey shit. We are all a bit touchy about our writing, and I didn't want to come across as just plain mean, but I was truly appalled. Both as a reader, and as, using the term very broadly, a writer. It takes a lot of courage to write certain things down and place them in front of the "world", but it takes a different kind of courage (maybe a more gentle courage) to tell someone who has tried to write a story, that the story is shit, needs to be completely trashed and rewritten, and that you really expected better from them (especially if the qualifications they brag about in the story are true). I can only hope that somewhere, someone (other than me of course) has provided this service for this person. My other hope is that somewhere, someone will do the same for me when I commit the same sin. I only hope they are gentle when they do it. 














Thursday, October 20, 2016

Upon Ponder Rock

Recent developments in this farce that passes for my life have led me to begin to wear an ass groove into Ponder Rock. Some of these developments are lovely, some are awful, and some are awfully lovely. The exact details of all these developments need not detain us here, they are exactly one person's business, and that person isn't in the mood to detail them to the world, at least not yet. When or if that times comes, it may give rise to a whole series of blog posts. Then again, it may very well not. Only time will tell.

This post was meant to written down (it was already "written" in my head) yesterday, but the combination of poor computer service, and an overall shitty day led it to being postponed by twenty-four hours. Some of it may have leaked out of the fragile eggshell brain of mine, and been lost to the mists of history, but I will try to get the majority of it on paper. It is a common and frequent failing of mine that I have a tendency to spin the beginning of a post in my head, and then either suffer an attack of laziness and don't bother trundling my fat ass to the computer to write it down, or forgetting the damn thing before I am able to make it to a computer. I fear this post may suffer from both of those maladies.

Ponder Rock is not an actual place. There is no large boulder like area with the words Ponder Rock chiseled into the side denoting that here is the place you've been looking for to sort out all the mysteries of the universe, or to try to sort out where all those socks go when they don't survive the holocaust of the dryer. Of course it would be nice to have a specific place overlooking some bucolic setting that eased the mind into the ruminative state necessary for one to figure out their life, and their loves and all the shit in between, but I am not sure it's possible. After all, my Ponder Rock, and your Ponder Rock might not be in the same spot, For me Ponder Rock, if it were an actual rock, would probably be beside some large body of water. I am not sure exactly why this is so, but bodies of water set me to thinking. Perhaps in some previous life I was a sailor (with the sad handicap of being unable to swim), and that is bleeding over into my present consciousness. Other people might have a phobia of wide, open spaces, and place their Ponder Rock somewhere completely different. Some place where they feel at ease, I suspect Ponder Rock, and the toilet get confused quite often. But hey, as long as the thinking takes place, who am I to criticize the location?

In my wanderings, both recent and in the past, I have found several Ponder Rocks. The key to my personal Ponder Rock is a lack of other people. I find them (people) distracting (especially tall girls, but that a different story), and therefore quite an impediment to any sort of serious thinking.  And for me at least Ponder Rock is the place for serious thinking. It is not the place to finally sort out the paper or plastic dilemma that haunts all at the grocery store check out line. No, Ponder Rock while not exactly an exhaustible resource should be reserved for the more thorny problems that plague us. Superman vs Batman is a good thing to sort on the toilet, deciding whether to tell your boss that you've been sleeping with his/her daughter/son is something that may need sorting out on Ponder Rock.  One can contemplate the general mysteries of the universe whilst stuck in traffic in Pigeon Forge (and you will be stuck in traffic in Pigeon Forge), but for a detailed, try to solve the mystery of her think, you need to hie thyself off to Ponder Rock usually sans her.

Not that you are trying to exclude anyone, it is just somethings need to be worked out alone before they are shared with the world. The world might not quite be ready for your jet packs for cats idea, and the cats of the world surely aren't, so it is best to spend some quality Ponder Rock time sorting out the mechanics of it all before you shoot your brave cat through the new cute girl neighbor's window that you are trying to impress with your cleverness. Cleverness is grand, cleverness while standing over yet another corpse of a catonaut is a whole different explanation entirely.  Not that Ponder Rock is as serious as some Yale professor in his study, you can attempt to sort out the perplexing problem of why all of the running backs on your fantasy football team seem cursed with the inability to get out of the bathtub without pulling a hamstring, or you can try to solve the Rubik's cube you brought along for moments just like this. The decision is up to you, after all, it is your Ponder Rock.

Not being a physical place, and sometimes also being a bit of a pain in the ass, Ponder Rock(s) do, on occasion, come to you. You might be walking along minding your own business keeping an eye out for any descending space junk trying to kill you, but not thinking overmuch about anything in particular, when Ponder Rock jumps up like a prairie dog, pokes its head out, and asks some serious life altering question.  It can be quite the awkward moment when you try to explain to some other person that you've been struck with an idea, and their presence needs to quickly become their absence. Depending on the person, the response can vary, and sometimes they are not exactly pleased that you've requested they put on their goddamn pants and exit stage left as quickly as they can manage.

The cloud of mystery that surrounds my own personal Ponder Rock is not exactly the point of this post, but we can at times get lost in the forest and miss the actual trees while writing. The recent developments that have led me to frequent Ponder Rock like a drunk frequents his local, are probably going to be life altering. It has yet to be determined if the alteration will be for the good or the bad, but it will certainly change things in my world. Like playing a game of cat and mouse with your own personal Gestapo, it sets the heart to racing, and the palms to sweating. It makes you wonder what or who is around the next corner, and think that maybe you actually should call your mother and tell her you love her before it is too late, either for her, or for you.  It is not for the faint of heart, or the weak of character, and because other human beings are involved it is going to require telling quite a few half-truths, truths masquerading as lies, and downright lies. Some of these things may be told to people who deserve better, but some of them will be told to the Gestapo, and you have not lived a complete life until you lie to the Gestapo, and have them believe you. It is a wonderful, liberating experience.

Until these recent developments, I would have adhered to the idea that Ponder Rock only has seating for one. It is your Ponder Rock, and therefore it only needs room for you (and maybe a place to set your beer), but I have recently been converted to a new theory. As usual for me, it seems my original theory was flawed, and it took someone else to point that out to me. I am not even sure they realize that they did it, and that is the genius of the whole thing. They were, in many ways, the reason I was occupying Ponder Rock like the Nazis did Austria, I needed the room. That room, as it turns out was needed for reasons that I did not understand at the time. It is room for them on Ponder Rock, for the collective thinking that needs to take place. A solo Ponder Rock is a wonderful thing, it is something you can possess all by yourself, a place to tell the world to go fuck itself while you think in beautiful isolation, It is also, a selfish thing, a thing that once you realize is beautiful, but isolated, needs to be refurbished. After all, two heads are better than one, as they (whomever they are) say, and rocks come in many shapes, styles, and sizes. Eventually Ponder Rock(s) to continue to evolve, and to help you evolve need to be built for two.  
















Monday, September 19, 2016

Dream, Part2

So Grand Inquisitor and I have a number of interests in common... blondes, old movies, cake... but we don't usually share dreams. Friday seems to have been an exception to that rule however because that night I also dreamed I went to a wedding.

My plus-one and I came in the side door and looked around. It was a big, fancy wedding. The kind that smells like flowers and lemon polish and a big empty church. The kind where young men stand awkardly at the back and ask "bride's side or groom's side?" The kind where you hope the free drinks and tiny fancy food at the reception make up for sitting through a homily about putting God at the center of a marriage. At this wedding in my dream, the groom stood in the back of the church in a dark tuxedo, looking like he'd just robbed a bank and was looking for the door. If ever a man looked liked he could use a friend, it was that groom, and I felt moved by pity.  Rather than just finding a seat immediately, I decided to go be supportive. My mother would have told me to mind my own business, but I couldnt just leave him like that. And in a small way, I had the nagging suspicion that GI was my business.  Touching Not-Allison's arm and pointing at my goal, I led the way across the church in his direction. She shrugged apathetically and tagged along.

Now his version credits me with more sarcasm and wit than my dream included and I think what I said was something like, "Hello friend, this is some wedding!" without much follow up. I didn't much know how to ask all the questions that seemed to be running through my head without seeming rude. "What the hell are you thinking?' and "Have you lost your goddamn mind?" being the top two candidates. I wondered if maybe, given the bride's obvious wealth, he'd finally had enough of a meager paycheck and an apartment that is most kindly described as modest. Maybe he's just in it for the money. There's nothing wrong with that, if it were true. In fact it's much less crazy than most of the reasons people get married. But GI doesnt strike me as the materialistic type, and he hadn't mentioned wanting to move out of his apartment, so I had my doubts. But my own confusion and curiosity wasn't why I wanted to talk to GI.

He looked like he was in truly desperate straits and replied only in monosylables. "Yep. Right. Seems like."  Conversation flagged a bit as we stood awkwardly-- him confused and me sympathetic but out of ideas. But I was determined to stay where I was in case I could be helpful, and if not, at least I'd have a court-side seat to his downfall.   I could see Not-Allison getting restless, scanning the crowd for more interesting company. She had on a new dress for the occasion and wanted to find a more appreciative audience than the two of us, I gathered. She checked her phone a couple of times and then gestured vaguely at the door, where a tall guy with fancy hair was looking for a seat near the back. I waved her off, and turned my full attention to GI. But just as I started to ask him, as gently as possible, to explain himself and this circus of a wedding, the music started. All I could do then was smile weakly at him and I made my way to my own seat seat... trying to enjoy flowers and the pretty music and not dwell on GI's imminent and questionable life choices.

But in the way of many dreams, my friend was saved by a shifting of the scene. The wedding suddenly became a courtroom and GI drifted from the lead role to that of a spectator. Not-Allison  made her way to the front and began making her argument... but it shifted shifted from a summary of the merits of the legal case and to an explanation of her own merits instead. The crowd watched her as she walked back and forth and nodded its agreement. Knowing the content of that lecture could be lengthy, I began to head for the door. I looked for GI on my way out, to see how he was faring after his narrow escape. I saw him in the front corner of the church, looking cheerful again and talking to a woman I did not recognize. She was wearing white, however, and was very pretty. She even had very bright red hair. The bride, I thought, and woke up with a jerk and a laugh. How nice for him.

Friday, September 16, 2016

I do? Maybe? Sort of

This post is sponsored by the raging cold that I've had for a week, and the NyQuil and Advil PM that I have been consuming like mad in order to combat it (mostly unsuccessfully). They bring us this lovely dream, and all its weirdness, which is cheap at twice the price.

It appears that today I am getting married, which comes as a bit of a shock to me, but here I am all dressed up in my sacrificial tuxedo waiting for my bride to be to come and join me in the joys of (my second) marriage. The first one didn't end so well, and I am idly pondering why I chose to make the same mistake twice, but it appears that the day of the nuptials is upon us, and that pondering might be a bit tardy in the making.

For reasons passing understanding, not only am I getting married again, but I am having a HUGE wedding, something that may require the Pope to officiate because it is so huge. The social event of the season it seems. I am not sure why I would ever be a part of such a circus, but here I am. The head clown in this circus of silliness that is about to see me hitch my wagon to some new star in the galaxy of doom that has been my life up until now.  I am sure she is a lovely woman, because after all, I have wonderful taste in women, don't I? I have through some careful listening to the myriad of party guests, learned my blushing bride's name. Which I would guess is a plus, it will certainly make saying the vows a bit easier if I don't have to pause, and introduce myself to her in order to learn the name I need to insert in those vows. Her name is J______, a name that carries it own dark past in my life, and one that I am not exactly pleased that she has. But, I suppose it's a bit too late now to renew my own previous vow of swearing off J____'s. After all, it would be just a bit awkward to explain to what appears to be half the free world in attendance that I can't marry this woman because of her first name. A cleft chin, now that is a reason to call the whole thing off, but her name? That is unlikely to elicit the sympathy of the crowd.

The good news, if there is to be any good news, is that she doesn't appear to be any of the J____'s of my previous acquaintance. The bad news, of which there will be more to come, is that it seems that I've no idea who she actually is, and what she looks like. It would seem that the dream is just a bit light on those details. Details that would normally put the whole ceremony in doubt, unless I was someone like Henry VIII seeking any brood mare that could produce me a male heir to the throne, and willing to marry someone based off a portrait painted by some fellow with exceedingly poor vision, and a much broader view of what constitutes female beauty (see Anne of Cleaves if you dare).


Perhaps the size of the crowd is down to the fact that I have in the past sworn very loudly, both sober and drunk, and to anyone that would listen (and to quite a few who didn't want to hear it) that I would never, ever, ever get married again. Maybe half of the group that are here are just attending out of a sense of glee, to watch me eat a whole lot of crow at the wedding feast while they have their choice of the chicken or beef.  Knowing the mob of people that I loosely define as "my friends" I am fairly certain that is the reason they have put on actual pants, and sobered up enough to show up to this ceremony. That and the free booze that all weddings promise to entice people to come, and watch some damn fool make the same mistake twice.

Being the fool in question, I am not exactly sure how to feel about all of this pomp. Popular opinion should suggest that I should be happy as a clam in mud, and all that. After all, this is supposed to be a joyous event, a union of two people madly in love (with each other no less) who are joining their separate lives into one with the intention of it lasting until one keels over, or one kills the other in a fit of rage about whose turn it is to take out the trash. Everyone certainly seems in a festive mood, as I circulate among the million of guests which seems to include everybody I have know or ever met even in passing. Who is that guy? Did we once ride the same elevator together? Well come to the wedding buddy, we are mates for life. Who is that woman? Did I order a book from her? Wasn't it about beekeeping? Come to the wedding, sweetie you'll love it, no there won't be any honey from the non-existence hives of bees that I don't keep, sorry about that, but have a drink, and mingle.

I can only surmise that my bride to be must come from wealth, because the amount of coin that her parental units have spent on this soiree would probably pay off my student loans, and I owe a whole LOT of students lots. Perhaps I have taken the sage of advice of "marrying once for love, and once for money", and have decided my bride's bank account outweighs her poorly chosen first name? This seems like something I might decide to do, since I am a bit of a bastard and all, but I still wonder about the actual looks of the money cow I have decided to milk. Is she possessed of a harelip and a lisp? Is she Orca fat? Not that I am a slim fellow myself, so that complaint seems a bit of the pot calling the kettle black. I suppose there is a chance that is just an average, normal, wholesome, toothy girl that loves her mother, and me in equal parts, and thinks that marrying me is a good idea. Who am I to disabuse her of such a notion?

This is a dream, and there are a lot of other issues going on during this wedding dream bit that make little to no sense. Those details are mostly lost to the haze of the NyQuil, and really need not concern us here, but realize that dreams, like real life, don't always follow an exact linear path to their logical (or fantastical) conclusion. A some point a penguin made an appearance, I am not sure if it was from me reading too much Bloom County, or an allegory to me in a tuxedo. Either way it didn't really advance the "plot" of the dream, and I discounted it then, as I do now. These meanderings of penguins and strangers things did consume some dream time, time I could have spent trying to figure out who in the actual fuck I was marrying, but I don't get to control the dream. The dream controls you, and you are merely watching your life unfold in front of you, like watching a three penny opera on the silver screen from the cheap seats in the back. Enjoy the show, maybe snag a bag of popcorn, and hope for a happy ending.

Since everyone in the world that I had ever met was at the wedding it was only a matter of time before I spotted them. Ladislaw and Not Allison together, arm in arm, and dressed to the nines. Ladislaw with a knowing smirk, and Not Allison looking ever so slightly disappointed in me. I knew the reason for the smirk, the disappointment was more of a mystery.  Ladislaw, as usual, was quicker off the mark, and bid me a hearty hello, and well met with a broad wink, and a jovial punch to the shoulder. "Well, done GI, judging by the coin spent on this funeral, it seems you are quite the catch after all".  "If we" and here Ladislaw put an arm around Not Allison's shoulder, "had known that, maybe we would have had a bit more fun in the time you allowed us, right sweetie"?  Not Allison, not exactly amused by Ladislaw's comment only offered a small, trying to be polite smile, and stated "well, I hope J____ makes you happy, or at least as happy as a miserable sod such as yourself can be".  That last bit stung a bit, I really didn't think Not Allison had that kind of venom in her, must be hanging out with Ladislaw too much I figured, "Oh, I suspect that if she doesn't, I will still find a way to be happy regardless." Not the most stellar of endorsements regarding my bride, but in my defense, I was having real trouble recalling anything about her looks, her personality, or her ability to make me, or anyone else, happy.

The hour of death for my (second) bachelorhood was quickly approaching, and I didn't think that I was quite ready to say goodbye to it, but time waits for no man, and it certainly seems to pass quicker when something dreadful may be approaching.  Not Allison had wandered off, but Ladislaw remained by my side like a priest waiting for a prisoner's final confession. One of Ladislaw's more decent qualities is the ability to exude calmness, even if the world is falling to shit around them, Ladislaw will appear to be as unconcerned as someone on a Sunday stroll in the park. It was a gift, and at this juncture it was one that I wish they could share with me. However, I was not to be so lucky, and as the odd noise that seemed to be the death knell of my singleness begin to sound, I was stuck by that oddness. Shouldn't it be music of some variety, or maybe bells? The noise that the wedding of my century seemed to have picked was an odd clunk followed by a beep, beep, beep. That's when I noticed two things, a very fleeting glimpse of J____ my bride to be, and the alarm clock that was making the beeping noise that jolted me awake just in the nick of time. Perhaps it had anticipated the "does anyone have any objection to these two people be married" question, thus saving Ladislaw, and perhaps Not Allison the trouble. 










Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jumble

I have been told that I write well, a fantasy that I don't actually subscribe to, and that ability must make the inside of my mind a wonderfully horrible place. The latter part of that statement I can attest to. The inside of my mind can be both horrible and wonderful, usually the horrible just shades matters, and I write dross that would only do a slightly intellectually challenged 4th grader proud.  That is, for the most part, entirely my fault. These words that I put down "on paper" are my own. Formed and fashioned in the factory of my own limited intellect.  On occasion I quote from my betters, and my writing improves, but in the main these horrible blog posts are my own to take blame (or more rarely, credit) for.

Perhaps the biggest problem that my mind, and therefore my writing face, other than a lack of imagination and talent, is the fact that it is very jumbled inside of there. There are random thoughts, or lines from some book, song, or poem that I hear and immediately begin to weave a few lines around that should, if I were to apply myself, turn into a blog post. There are piles of them, there are blog posts to keep me busy writing away for the next six months, if I only had the willpower to write them down, and flesh them out.  There are situations that I encounter almost daily that could, with some application, turn into lovely stories, or at least lovely for someone like me.

It is very difficult for me to separate my "real" life from the things that I write down in this blog. Not every blog post has a real life inspiration, after all I do have an imagination, but a fair amount of them are usually, however obliquely, about someone I know, or something I saw or did.  It is a very personal failing of mine that I mostly lack the imagination to make this separation. The real, day to day, life I live isn't at all exciting. It mostly consists of me hoping to be somewhere else, or for it to be either earlier or later in the day, or (mostly) for me to want to take a nap. I am tired of the everyday routine and want a life of romantic adventure, but sadly the rent is due, and the bills have to be paid, and wandering off to Mexico in search of lost treasure doesn't seem feasible to a fellow in my situation. I have inhabited many bars in my time on the planet and I have yet to meet some leggy, blonde Femme Fatale that needs rescuing from some brute, and will sweep me off into some Casablanca type adventure where I get to dodge secret police, and make witty wise cracks in the face of danger, and find my fortune in unmarked 100 dollar bills.

 My adventures are much more mundane like trying to walk in the park without being run over by some dipshit playing Pokemon while driving their car in some intimation of Mr. MacGoo.  Sure it is dangerous, but the only remarks I get to make as I dodge out of the way, are not exactly Bogart like in their wittiness. Comments about their mothers fornicating with turtles of the same sex might sound clever, but to the dipshit driving off they aren't even a blip on their idiot radar. Most of the time they don't even see how close they have come to taking away my mother's pride and joy, i.e. me. If that isn't enough adventure for me, then there is always the weekly drive to Kroger that usually leads to at least three near death experiences. James Bond just has to worry about Odd Job and his lethal hat. Try dodging a distracted Granny in a 1997 Cadillac at 8:30 in the morning. That, my friend, takes skill.

 These fantastic car dodging adventures are sandwiched around having a real job. A job that I don't feel that I am particularly good at, but which remains necessary in order to keep me in beer money. The fact that the job makes me want to drink, and thus require more beer money is just an added bit of (American) irony. This job does take up a fair portion of my day, and it is not something that throws romantic adventure my way on a daily basis. Body and soul do need to be kept together, and unless I've some rich dowager aunt that has escaped discovery, and that wishes to make me her sole heir to some oil baron like estate, this job will be the means to keep body and soul together for quite a while longer. In theory, I should just forget escaping to the Anti-podes to become some god-king to unwashed savage natives, and get better at my job. Give it more of my time, more effort, maybe pay someone to shout slogans at me whilst I wander around the halls of my office in order to encourage me to be the best at this job anyone can be.

In theory that is what I should do, but it seems that if I were going to do that, I would have done it by now, and not wait for some random day in hot as balls August to make this major, life changing decision. In reality, what is more likely to happen is that I will continue to sleep walk through the majority of my days, and try to figure out some dodgy way to make a fortune, steal a leggy blonde, and run off to the south of France, where she would probably leave me for the cabana boy. But, at least I'd have a pool, so I'd have that going for me.  The real reality, the one that I am going to attempt to actually bring to fruition is one where I actually give this blog the attention it needs. The title, which made sense at the beginning before I wandered off on a tangent, is about the jumble of ideas wandering around in my head that never somehow manage to make it to print.

This is a very personal failing of mine, and with each unwritten idea it gets worse. There is a post on bridges that I have mostly written twice, and forgotten three times. There is the 2nd part/half of Fortress around you heart, that must needs be committed to paper. There is the ongoing saga of Ladislaw, and not Allison that I need to explore within the bounds of the confidentiality agreement that certain people insisted upon me signing. There is the further story of what happened when someone kicked open the door numbered 6, and what happened on the inside of that flea infested place that lead to even more trouble for everyone involved, well except for the dead guy.  All of these and a few more, need to be unjumbled (see a new word), sorted out, and written down for all the grammar Nazis of the world to correct. Gives them something to do. Helps distract them from their own miserable existence, and gives them a sense of both purpose and superiority. Watch this space, but do so with the caveat that I have been trying to do these things for almost a year. However, hope spring eternal, and who knows maybe the romantic adventure is more fun to write than to live. One can only hope. 















Friday, July 29, 2016

Secrets and Lies

So this post was originally supposed to be an alternative version of the threesome “how I really met Grand Inquisitor” story. It was going to be charming and witty and have a great twist at the end that turned the whole thing on his head. But I never could think of anything remotely entertaining much less clever and so gave up on the idea. But it started me thinking about the nature of fiction, which is a theme I intend to revisit from time to time. Many great stories are made up, in that the events they describe never took place. But they must be true at the heart of the story or they make no sense and, worse, no one cares. What I mean by that is that the people in every story must be motivated by true feelings that we can all identify with, even if they are fighting dragons or having great sex or doing magic spells at the time. We see ourselves in the characters that way and can laugh and cry and cast magic spells with them to our own heart’s delight. That’s what makes for a good story, in my book (Get it? Book!!) anyway… but what is fiction but a complex lie written down, anyway? Is that what it is?

We all tell lies. Some are necessary if we want to live politely with other people. “Of course your hair looks fine.” or “What an adorable baby!” are harmless enough. Others are slightly more dangerous…”I’d love to join your book club” is not quite as bad as “No, I’m sure you are right...he’s not cheating on you, he just has to work late.” These minor departures from the truth are accepted as unavoidable evils in civil society. We figure they actually improve our relationships rather than harming them and we’re probably right. The one person I ever knew who refused to follow these social niceties was truly terrible to be around. The unfiltered truth is not something any of us are conditioned for. The danger we face is in deciding where to draw that line.

“What she doesn't know wont hurt her.” We all know the phrase and in many ways it is true. Lies can spare other people the pain or anger of finding out something that they wouldn’t like. It seems a kind and merciful thing to do. The problem is that lies eat away at the foundation of friendship or love like a river running underground. And then one day, you take a step and find yourself plunged into a hole that you didn’t see and that is bigger than you ever imagined.

Unlike lies, I maintain that secrets can be maintained without spreading corruption beyond their boundaries. Secrets are thrust upon us sometimes without our signing up for them. Friends tell us things we didn't ever want to know and ask us not to tell. And we keep their secrets if we choose, or we don’t. But problems arise when secrets lead to lies…and the more central a secret is to the heart of a relationship, the more likely that becomes.

After years of living a life in which I’ve probably told more lies than any person should, I've come to a painful conclusion... Lies hurt the teller of them more than the listener. The more lies we tell and the more often we repeat them, the more distance we place between ourselves and the people we lie to. Brick by brick by brick. Lie by lie. We build a bridge away from people. And I’ve yet to learn whether we can cross back over it after we’ve built it. I’m certainly old enough to have learned this lesson earlier, and possibly I’m not very bright, but it seemed worth mentioning to anyone unlucky enough to have read this far. And the bright spot is that it’s a simple (if not an easy) problem to avoid. Telling the truth seems to build foundations quickly and build them strong even in unexpected places. People we haven’t known very long seem to become essential to survival when they know the truth about us. And the more truths we tell the stronger that bond is. Like a rope thrown to a drowning man, the truth can pull us to dry land.

I was hoping that by the time I'd gotten this far, I'd have figured out how to tie this all back in with what makes for good storytelling. I’m not sure i have except for this… that, whether that truth be a real event or a real emotion or even just a real idea, only a story with truth as the foundation is worth telling. I will take a quote from one of my very favorite movies to end with... "Playwrights teach us nothing about love. They make it pretty, they make it comical, or they make it lust, but they cannot make it true." And just like the character in the movie, I think playwrights, book authors, poets, and yes, the odd blogger or two can occasionally come up with the truth. It's just a little more difficult than many of us had hoped.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rousse

There are blondes and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points, except perhaps the metallic ones who are as blond as a Zulu under the bleach and as to disposition as soft as a sidewalk. There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you are glad you found out about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or Lucrezia’s poison vial.
 

There is the soft and willing and alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pal and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review.
 

There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She is very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading The Waste Land or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Proven├žal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindemith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also. That makes two of them.
 

And lastly there is the gorgeous show piece who will outlast three kingpin racketeers and then marry a couple of millionaires at a million a head and end up with a pale rose villa at Cap Antibes, an Alfa-Romeo town car complete with pilot and co-pilot, and a stable of shopworn aristocrats, all of whom she will treat with the affectionate absent-mindedness of an elderly duke saying goodnight to his butler.

There are gingers and there are gingers, and they are few and far between, only about 1-2%  of the population, and we can't really count the male ones, because ginger men mostly look like circus freaks.  If you are lucky enough to like gingers, you should live in either Ireland or Scotland those two countries have the highest percentage of redheads per capita than anywhere else in the world. We don't count the bottled one, because like the pigment they place in their hair to become a ginger, they will fade as quickly as they came. Like a small shooting star, blazing across your sky for the briefest of moments, and only leaving behind a small, slightly dazzling after image upon your pupils.

There is the bold, and brassy redhead, hair burnt orange, and visible from space if you pay enough attention. The ones you see from around a corner, because their hair pushes out an aura in front of them that is almost physical in nature. The ones that laugh just a bit too loudly, and take up just a bit too much attention from their set of admirers to allow you to do anything but dislike them with the intensity of a pulsar. They know they are bold, they know they are brassy, and dare you to do fuck all about it. They usually should be avoided if you value your feelings. However, they do not really steal your soul,they just borrow it for a while, and then return it slightly worse for wear.

There is the deep, burgundy redhead with the eyes that glitter even though they are not gold. The type that make you think of Sunday walks in the park, and even the briefest thought of pushing a stroller along on that walk. The type you want so very much to trust with all the secrets that the brassy redhead would break you apart with, the type that never need to raise their voice in order to be heard. The ones that can just merely with a wave of a hand make you do what they think needs to be done. The solid, sexy type that makes you want to get, and actually keep a job. They will steal your soul, and if you are lucky keep it. If you are unlucky they will steal your soul, shatter it, but do you the small mercy of putting most it back together again before they sail out of your life like the Spanish Armada with much more important things to do.

There is the auburn redhead, which isn't really red at all, but a different shade of brown trying to pass itself off as the genuine article. They usually possess light coloured eyes that are able to share a ton of experiences with you with just a brief glance. They are a poorer cousin of the burgundy redheads, maybe you want to take a Sunday walk with them, but you soon realize the walk has no real destination, and no deeper meaning. It is just a walk. Pleasant enough, and maybe healthy, but eventually you are going to have to turn around and head back from whence you started, and they are unlikely to come with you.  

There is the occasional redhead that can actually tan, and posses darker eyes. Some sort of genetic pot luck that took a little bit of material from blonds, gingers, and brunettes and tried to make it seem natural.  It's not, and that is important to remember redheads shouldn't be dark, it lessens the effect, like putting an under powered engine in a fancy sports car. Generally, these gingers should be avoided, after all if your walking in the garden of ginger delights, then you should go for the real deal, not some cross-breed that lacks the true refinement of a real ginger. They aren't really the soul stealing types these doppelgangers of real gingers. They understand, most of them, their place on the genetic food chain, and only a rare few of them ever really get ideas above their station. You can take them home to mother, but mother isn't going to fully approve.

And just like blondes, there are the showpiece redheads. The ones who's hair is just simply RED, not auburn, not orange, not burgundy or any other shade, but just simply red. They walk into a room and heads that shouldn't turn and stayed turned just a moment too long for their respective dates to be happy about it. They crave attention and usually receive it in spades. They are universally the tall ones, because tall girls are distracting, and tall really RED heads are as fascinating as watching the inner working of a well made Swiss watch tick away the time until you can see them again. Redheads don't go grey, and this type of red head will defy that Swiss watch and all the time it ticks away, and stay as bold as brass for more years that you will be able to remember in your dotage. They are the ones that give all the other redheads the yardstick by which they are defined. They are soul stealing, but you don't mind. In fact, you generally hand over your soul to them lock, stock, and barrel in the (vain) hopes they will be kind. Most of them aren't. They can get souls such as yours by the dozen like a clutch of bananas at the local fresh market. Therefore, which is it extremely difficult to do, they really, and truly should be avoided. Admire them from afar, but admire them nonetheless.

One part of the above post was written by me, and the other part by a pretty famous author. I sent the part written by this author to two different people as an example of, in my opinion, great writing. I did not tell them who had written it when I sent it, just sent it to be read. They both asked me if it was "a new blog post" of mine. It seems they thought that I had written it. At first, I thought it was a lark, a joke to attempt to stroke my ego, but after telling them who had actually written it, they both said that it still sounded like something I would write. I was flattered very much by this, and therefore attempted to write my own view in reply. One is mine, one is Raymond Chandler from "The Long Goodbye." I figure that most people will be able to tell the difference, one is good, one is shite, and we all know which is which.

 M. Chandler's first novel was published when he was 50 years old, an age that I am quickly approaching. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. If I can pass off to at least two people, neither of which are retarded, both of which have opinions that I generally value, then maybe it is time to turn to a blank page, and start filling the hours with something other than empty words, and thoughts.  If only.