Saturday, July 07, 2018

Birthing Day

Today is my birthday, or my anniversary, or whatever days that mark the creation of something such as me. I am sure that I share this birthing day/anniversary with a lot of people, places, or things, but that doesn't concern me overmuch. My creator, such as he is, is snoring away in the next room cuddled up to some playmate that isn't quite Nichole Kidman, but given his lack of money, talent, and good looks is quite the catch for him. He won't be awake for another hour or so, and when he wakes up it will just be to see his football team lose a match that he knows they are going to lose, but refuses to accept it. I call him my creator, because I was his idea. I was inspired by a buddy of his that is long since faded into the mists of history. My creator is the major contributor to me, he asked some lay about friend of his to help, but that friend is even lazier than my creator, and has managed a minimal of content. No shame in it, it is just a bit of a disappointment.

The major flaw, and he has a lot of them, of my creator in relation to me, is one of neglect. If I were an actual child rather than an idea, he would have the Department of Children Services called on him, and I would be taken away and given to a "nice" family who would love me and give me the attention I deserve. But as I am just an idea, not a child, I will languish here, content with the indifferent attention granted to me on the rare occasion my creator feels the need to stop by with his "brilliant" ideas. They are few and far between, but I guess I shouldn't complain too much. He does the best he can (or so he says) with the limited talent he has (on that point we can both agree).  All of his failings are not his fault, he sometimes thinks of quite exciting and clever things for me, but the demands of his "real" job, and sleep (sleep being the culprit most often) get in his way of writing them down. I'm aware of many a solid contribution to me that have disappeared in proverbial smoke because he passed out from life before he could put it in writing.

He lies there in his empty bed (well not at the moment but more empty than not), and composes lines that sometimes make him cry, and thinks to himself "I need to remember this, this is actually good." But, sleep claims him, and the idea, such as it was, is lost to history. Sometimes,. when he is very, very lucky, he will remember it and manage to overcome his inertia to contribute it to me. It is rare, but it has happened. The idea for me to take control today was his, he even managed a couple of lovely sentences to contribute, but then got distracted by his playmate, and forgot them. Such is the fool I have to suffer.

I am 12 today, 12 years of struggle for ideas to write down, struggle to remember them long enough to write down, struggle with the grammar Nazis that correct every little mistake made (and he makes a lot of them, here and everywhere) while not bothering to read the content for the sake of its own worth, struggle to keep the everydayness of it all out of here, and the struggle not to slander anyone that would be of a disposition to sue him back into the stone age. There are at present, several story lines in his actual life that would make for lovely stories, but sadly or thankfully, depending on your point of view, he lacks either the talent or the courage to put them here for the world to see and decipher. He isn't the greatest wordsmith in the world by any stretch of the imagination, and sometimes he likes to use the word "cunt" a bit too much, but after so much neglect, one sometimes hopes for any type of attention, even if it isn't exactly Proust.

Another failing of his, is that he has read Proust, and a whole slew of others that are actual wordsmiths, people that made their actual living by their pen, and are on the shelves of any bookstore worthy of the name. He tends to overlook the "50 Shades of Grey" type of books, books that were seemingly written by, and for a audience of mouth breathing, knuckle dragging, cavemen that only recently began to comprehend that fire is, in fact, hot, and focuses instead on the classics as his standard by which he measures himself. That standard, impossibly high for most writers, is the one which he wishes he could obtain, and when (unsurprisingly) he fails, considers what he wrote for me to be "dross" one of his favourite words. 

I suppose that, as yet unmet, standard does keep a lot of shit off my pages, but I am pretty sure that it keeps somethings that are by the actual standards by which he should be measured, quite worthy of a read or two.  A few people, some of which have opinions that he values, have told him that he is, in fact, a writer, and a good one at that. He usually shrugs off those comments, and has his own ideas as to the motive behind them. He is more than likely wrong, but there is a stubborn streak in him, that you may have noticed if you have ever been around him for longer that 45 seconds, and he mainly refuses to accept these compliments.

However, for better or worse, he does put me "out there" for the world to see, and pick apart or praise depending on the person, and I would suppose in today's world where everyone is offended by everything, that takes some measure of courage, or stupidity, sometimes the two are easily mistaken.  This anniversary of my birth will, like many others, have its share of disappointments, and its moments of grief, but there are signs for a positive future for my creator. Time, that tricky thing, passes only in one direction, forward, and the disappointments or grief suffered or yet to be suffered, have in them the germination of ideas that he can use to provide me with more content. He is of the opinion, and others share it, that his best writing, using the term very broadly indeed, happens when he is sad. He has, on occasion, tried to write whilst happy, and sometimes it has worked, but in the main, sadness seems to equal creativity for him.

Much like my creator manages in 95% of the additions he adds to me, I have forgotten several themes that I wanted to address in this post. I suppose that is to be expected as I am not really anything more than the sum of his parts, but it is still a bit of a disappointment, this post didn't turn out as expected, and some of the best lines slipped out of our collective consciousness before I could get the piece of shit computer that we use for our writing to actually work. A lot of swear words and anger can take the place of pretty, creative, butterfly like sentences in an hour of IT work for which I/he are ill equipped to perform. I will bid my massive readership of 4, maybe 5 adieu for now, safe in the knowledge that this anniversary, for me at least, will not be my last.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Birth of a despot

As some of you know, and maybe even a few of you care, 40 some odd years ago yesterday, I was brought into this world kicking and screaming by the wolf that raised me. I was clearly there at the end of the process, but my memory is a bit hazy about the actual details. I have been able to piece together a couple of them, and will just make up the rest.

I was "delivered" into the world by a fellow named Dr. Smith, the man who was to give me the first, and perhaps only slap (this one on the ass) that I didn't deserve. The many slaps after that first one, I for the most part, brought upon myself. Three major things stand out about the circumstances of my birth. One is that I was born with a club foot, meaning that my right foot instead of being parallel to my left foot/leg was pretty much perpendicular to it. This required without my knowledge at least two surgeries to fix (maybe three but the details of those are lost to history), and I still have the scars to prove it.  These surgeries were mostly successful, and by that I mean I can walk with only a slight hitch in my giddy up, and don't have to use a cane or anything. Though a cane at my current age might actually be a godsend. During the time of these surgeries I was in the process of learning to walk, and I learned to amble whilst I was wearing a cast. I guess it may have slowed me down from running out into traffic, but it might be the reason for the aforementioned hitch. I have been told, since I have no recollection of the event, that I somehow managed to kick one of the casts off my leg during this process. Some might say that was my first act of rebellion in a lifetime full of them.

Secondly, I was born two weeks late. I contend that this is likely the best decision I ever made, the fact that I didn't really make it or that if I did it was before I could form coherent thoughts also may say quite a bit about me. My theory is that at some level I realized that I had it made in the womb. After all, I had a bum wheel, and realized that the whole walking thing was both going to be more difficult for me than others, and that it is, at its core, a shitty way of getting around in the world.  I also believe that I realized that being carried around everywhere I went was a grand idea, and in addition to that I was having food delivered to me at my command. Sort of like a very early version of UberEats without needing a cell phone. Granted the menu was pretty limited, but what did I care? I didn't know at the time what type of food I disliked (fried chicken, green peppers to name a couple).

Thirdly, (and this directly relates to number two) is that I weighed a whopping 10 pounds, 7 ounces when I was birthed. I was a fat baby that turned into a fat child, and then a fat teenager, and finally a fat adult. I made early attempts to blame the wolf that raised me for this, as she is a stout woman, and I also blamed my metabolism which allows me to walk past a donut and gain five pounds (eating it would add another 3), but the real truth is that I am just a fat, lazy cunt that doesn't like to exercise, and likes to eat like a horse. However, being tubby coupled with a bit of a funny walk, did lead to me being bullied a lot at school. My early years were not exactly pleasant because of it, and in today's millennial world I could probably sue the school back into the stone age. Fat kids get bullied a lot, and the only real solution is not become a former fat kid, a solution that is easier said than done. Being chubby and bullied also leads to a retardation of one's social skills. The ability to make friends (even with other social misfits) is stunted, and usually you just end up reading a literal shit ton of books. This is how I handled being a fat kid.

The town in which I was born is M____, T*.  It was, at the time, a town of about 7800 people, and it was a shithole then and is a shithole now. Sadly, it was the "big" town in the county in which I was born, raised, and educated, that should give you a clue as to the wilderness it which I spent my formative years. Socially awkward, economically challenged, and physically stout is no way to go through life. Formative year birthday parties did not include 15 of my closest friends (since I had like only 2 friends), a clown, or a cake. They were not ignored, but weren't exactly an occasion. They were just a day in the life, not a school day, so I got to be unbullied, but that was a small mercy for the isolation of having no actual friends living within miles of me.

The other problem I faced became apparent to me only years later, that problem was the wolf that raised me had decided to have the progeny of an absolute asshole. The man that nature would have me call Father (but not Dad, that's a big difference) was a drunken dickhead, which I guess proves the theory that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I didn't like him, and I don't mourn his death which happened several years ago. The world, such as it is, is a better place now that he is no longer around.  For reasons passing understanding the wolf that raised me stayed married to this dickhead until his demise. Perhaps she took the whole "death till we part" thing a bit more literally than the rest of it, or perhaps she thought he had a trust fund stashed somewhere that would make her wealthy when he croaked (he didn't), or maybe she stayed together "for the children", and by the time we were grown just lack the intestinal fortitude to leave him, or maybe she had to stay with him because his salary, small as it was, was the only way to keep my fat ass fed. I've never asked her, and I doubt that I ever will, mainly because I do not think she would tell me the truth (another inherited trait).

Much like an actual wolf cub, as a child of a fractured household I was able to sense that fracture, and had to eventually pick a side. Children (in my opinion, I don't have any of the little buggers myself) are like animals in the way they can sense discord, and cake. I had an unique ability to figure out when "mommy and daddy" (terms I did not use) were fighting, and an equally unique ability to find cake. The shit show of my parent's marriage led me to the considered, and firmly held belief that "staying for the kids" is a sure fire way to fuck up your children. They will be forced to pick a side in the uncivil war raging in front of them, and either side they pick will be wrong. It isn't a Morton's  Fork or a Hobson's choice, it is merely a dilemma that has no right answer.  However, I recognize that this is a very personal opinion of mine, and I try (not always with success) to not foist that opinion upon other people. It is difficult because this is, in fact, a core opinion of mine, and I have precious few core opinions. Lacking both children, and a wife (had one, lost one) I understand that I might not be the best "life coach."

I also share a birthday with a fellow named Eric Blair, whom we all know better as George Orwell. My claim to fame, which doesn't really exist, will always pale in comparison. I have repeatedly said that the literary father of this blog is Dostoevsky, after all that is where my nom de plume is taken from.  However, recently I have become slightly disabused of this notion, and am beginning to wonder if perhaps this blog has two other "fathers" or at least kindly uncles. Those being Orwell, and Baudelaire. A bit of a stretch, and probably a bit of an insult to those two lovely fellows, but as one ages (which is what birthdays do to you) one evolves at least in theory. I don't think I will ever lose the love of Dostoevsky that I had as a youth, and Ivan Karamazov remains a "hero" of mine, but as time passes (and that's what time does, pass) the clarion call of Dostoevsky becomes harder and harder to hear. Maybe literary influences are like other relationships over a period of years you grown apart from them, or maybe I am just giving myself way too much credit, which is the more likely of those two scenarios. 

Therefore, as the years pass and you realize like Lt. Colonel Nicholson in "The Bridge on the River Kwai" that you are nearer the end than the beginning, you begin to look back at your life and wonder if your being here made any real difference at all. That if your existence had never been actualized would the world in general be one jot better or worse. Then you begin to wonder that even with your existence coming into being (which is, in fact, the case) has it made the world better or worse? Have you affected anybodies life in anyway. You like to hope that you have, you may, if you are not an actual villain, hope you've affected many people in nothing but positive ways, and that you are universally loved. That latter bit is unlikely, but it is a pleasant enough thing to hope for, even if it is pretty much impossible to achieve.  

Of course the circumstances of one's birth, and the short (or long) straw that life gives you need not be dispositive of your life. After all, at some point you get the option to throw off the shackles that childhood placed upon you and start becoming the person you want yourself to be. Sometimes that may require running back to the wolf that raised you and asking lots of tough questions, or sometimes it might mean cutting the cord from that period of your life, and reinventing yourself as something other that the sum of the parts life handed you. Becoming your own version of Frankenstein's monster is always an option, just be careful in the cutting.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Your burden, you bear it

My name is unimportant or rather it was until I turned him in to the Third Section. Now, my name is on some very incriminating documents that he, and the circle of friends that will soon be arrested with him, will read, and (hopefully) be slightly surprised that I am the one responsible for their downfall. Strictly speaking, that isn't true they are responsible for their own fate, just like the rest of us. Their little "insurgency" and the circle of people who were involved knew the risks they were taking when they started to take them. I don't feel sorry for them, nor do I bemoan their fate(s). They broke several rules of the conspiracy game, the main one being don't get too big too fast, the other critical one is to vet the people you are letting into your circle very, very, closely.

Conspiracies of the type this lot were planning are not meant to be fast growing like the bamboo plant. Too much, too soon and mistakes are bound to be made, and if you are the one making these mistakes the price is very, very high. If they were French, we would ship them off to Devil's Island, and France would be done with them. If they were Irish, we would transport them to Van Diemen's Land, and move on to the next group of wild eyed revolutionaries that need to be suppressed. But they aren't they are not getting shipped via boat anywhere, they will have to trudge thousands of kilometers to the Artic wasteland that the Motherland has deemed suitable as the world's largest open air prison. That, if they are lucky, will be their fate. The facts, as I reported them to the Third Section, are far from all being gathered, and it is my humble opinion that the majority of them will be stood up against a very convenient public wall and shot. An example to others as the saying goes.

As another saying goes, "that is them problem, not a me problem" my problems the ones that led me to turning my coat, and taking the sovereign's coin to send foolish (but brave) men to their cruel fates, are a bit more mundane. I am not, despite how this looks, a bad person. I am not, despite the number of times I've been called it, a cunt. Not that I am some angel either, I don't help little old ladies across the street, and I don't love my mother as much as I perhaps should. I am somewhere in the half light between do gooder, and absolute bastard, the half light that, in my opinion, bathes the majority of the world's population. A boy's got to pay the rent, and food is, on occasion, a nice thing to have, and the Third Section (those light blued uniformed bastards) know this, it is one of their main tools of recruitment, the other being people who just like to get other people in trouble, and don't care if the rumors they tell the Third Section have any basis in truth whatsoever.

Therein lies the difference, I took the state's coin because I needed the money. Don't for a second think I enjoyed it. Becoming a company man is not a pleasant experience, and I do not recommend it. However, I do not recommend starving to death either it is also an unpleasant experience, which is why I chose not to do it. My other defense is that they were actually guilty. Their plan to overthrow the regime, free the peasants, and start a New Order, while naive and destined to be a glorious failure, was still treason. This is something that I fear history will forget when it comes to be written, and I will be (unfairly in my view) be condemned to either its dustbin, or to a special place in its hall of villains. I am also fairly certain, that since at least one member of this group is a very bright literary fellow that he will make a defense that will be eloquent enough to throw some doubt on my reports of his treason. That is why you take good notes, and write things down. You might have a memory that borders on total recall, but you aren't going to live forever, nor are you going to always be around when your name is being mentioned as a lying, cheating bastard that probably doesn't love his mother.

As I write these words, they are somewhere in some dark, and dank prison cell trying to sort out how the actual fuck this happened to them. They have little to no clue as to how careless they were, and no idea who "betrayed" them. They will see it as a betrayal, they will curse my name (when they find it out) and damn me forever in their letter, diaries,and memories, if they survive to create any of them. That is risk I have to assume, and come to grips with once I became an informer. It is a dirty business, and you have to do some dirty things in the process, but again a boy's got to pay the rent. I am not so naive to think that the Third Section is done with me. After all, I got them their men, and that is what those bastards want. They don't care how, they aren't overmuch worried as to why, they just want results, and the day I stop providing them results, is the day that I either go back to starving, or the day I find myself in a cell of my own. It is the informer's curse be useful, or we will find a use for you, i.e. make an example of you for the encouragement of others.

It will soon become a fine line. I console myself with the fact that this particular group of fools was actually committing treason, and I take my coin not with pleasure, but with the knowledge that I did a job that needed doing, and I did it well. But what of next time? Treason doesn't, in spite of what the suspicious bastards in Third Section think, grow on trees. Certainly, this lot weren't the first group to want to rebel against the crown, and be cut down for it, nor will they be the last. But, are there really that many groups like them festering in our fair land? If there are not then perhaps.... (nice try Third Section, but I am not so foolish as to write down my "treasonous" thoughts). The enduring problem is that eventually I am going to outlive my usefulness to the Third Section, and will probably then starve, but at least the wolf is kept from the door for the nonce.

I can only imagine the terror, surprise and finally anger when the group of people I have turned in read the warrants and the reports with my name attached. A sense of betrayal will certainly sink in, and perhaps, if any of them survive, I may have to spend some time in the future looking over my shoulder for one of them bent on revenge. Luckily for me, the sentence(s) they are facing involve either them not being a problem for anyone ever again, or at least not for a very long time. The best they can hope for is exile to the wasteland that provides its own set of challenges to survival. Disease, neglect, and a less than sturdy constitution may take care of several, if not all of them. Still, I will do periodic checks on them (if they aren't shot) to make sure that I am not wandering down the street one day and walk "accidentally" into a knife that has "my name on it" fifteen or sixteen times.

For now, I will try to obscure my tracks, go back to being some relatively unknown nobody, and see if perhaps there is life after one turns one's coat. I certainly hope so, the good news, if there is any good news, is the turning of my coat is not going to be broadcast in the daily papers. That would defeat the purpose of the Third Section.. They will splash the lurid details of the "major conspiracy" that threatened the "very core of our government" and all the other buzz words that will make citizens feel safe in their beds. Those citizens don't have to know the more mundane details, that this group of people were so idealistic in their thinking that their "master plan" could  not have toppled a house of cards.

However, they will spend their time, if they are not shot, in the House of the Dead, and I will continue to be useful to the Third Section until am I not, then I may join them or I may sail away to Singapore in the hopes of finding a new life one far, far from the maddening crowd. However, until that day arrives one must just wait and hope. 


Friday, April 20, 2018

The Two Masons

This is the story of two masons, their names for the purpose of this story are Pierre and Jacques those aren't their real names, and they may not actually be real people. That's for me to know, and for you not to worry about. Your job, if you choose it, is to read, and hopefully enjoy, the story of the Two Masons.

This story starts simply enough with two masons. Bricklayers to the common folk of the world, but they prefer the term mason. It's like saying something is "organic". If you hire a bricklayer you get them cheap, if you hire a mason, you've stepped up a class to impress the neighborhood, and you get the privilege of paying an additional fee. The Johnson's next door need to learn their place, so you hired a mason to do your work, not some low class "brickie" that talks in a funny accent.

Pierre and Jacques did their living, working, breeding, and dying in the same city. A city of moderate size, big enough to accommodate a fair number of masons without being so small that they continually got in each other's way.  It was a city that provided its own set of challenges, it had its toffs who thought that a certain percentage of the population just didn't exist, and if they did exist it was only to serve them in some fashion. It had it pretentious section populated with people who thought the toffs were only there to give them money while they slummed around and "found themselves". It also had it slums, the areas where the people whom the toffs didn't like to think existed struggled to exist. A large(r) part of this particular town than the city fathers would like to admit at fancy dinner parties, but again that's what cities are, good, bad, and ugly.

Each of them had their niche, a set of jobs that they preferred to do, for the most part Jacques worked in the dirtier, less beautiful part of the city. He did good work, and had a considerable number of customers. His theory was that squalid has it own sort of beauty that just needs a little more attention to become breathtaking. He was fond of saying "that any damn fool can make the cathedral of Florence look good, it takes talent to make a stone tower glow".  Maybe he was right, or maybe he was just lazy, or just not quite good enough for the toffs of the city to hire. Either way he made his living with some aplomb, and even had the occasional success that surprised his colleagues and critics (who were generally the same group of people).  He was fond of heights, repeatedly saying that "things always look different from higher up". However, given the part of town, and the types of commissions he usually took, he didn't get to indulge his fondness for heights overmuch. I suppose "a boy's got to pay the rent" was his main theory when it came to his work.

Pierre preferred the toffs, the people who had disposable income that he liked for them to dispose into his pockets. He wasn't exactly the "pretty people's mason" but he was one that at least they used frequently enough to know his first name. He was clever enough to know that most pretty people are fickle, and they liked options. After all, what's the point of having all that money, if you don't have options?  Not a fan of any particular style, Pierre, would build anything pretty much anywhere, if the money was right, and the mood struck him.  He had his moods, did our Pierre, and sometimes he would retreat from his work like Napoleon retreating from the Russian winter of 1812. Rarely did these "retreats" last very long. Pierre liked the work, and the work generally liked him. Because he got bored easily, he liked to have multiple projects going at once. Based upon the theory that "the more the merrier".

Our two masons knew each other, but not particularly well. They worked, drank, and played in different circles, and their paths crossed only occasionally.  They rarely, if ever, bid on the same job. Jacques wasn't good at talking to the toffs, being the first mason in his family, and the offspring of a bricklayer while Pierre was "as smooth as goose shit on glass" and knew when the toffs were vulnerable to his sales pitch, and was an expert in timing and tailoring his pitch to that vulnerability. Neighbors across the street put up some ostentatious piece of frivolity that is throwing shade  (in both a literal and figurative sense)upon your grand estate? Then call Pierre, he can soothe your wounded pride, and help you build something equally frivolous, and maybe even at half the price if you want it enough.

Pierre preferred to work during the summer months the "hot" time of year when the brickwork was pliable and soft and easier to mold. "Heat is a wonderful thing, it increases the ardor, and allows for some truly eye pleasing works of art" he would say.  Jacques, by contrast, preferred the wintertime. "It might be wicked cold, and the brickwork might be a little moody, but who doesn't like a bit of a challenge now and then?" would be his reply when asked why he liked working in the cold. Cold was something he perceived as a challenge an hurdle to overcome in his own fashion, and in his own time.

They both had their successes and they both had their failures. Buildings that stood the test of time, crafted with what passed for love for these two that are still visible in their fair city today even if the mason has moved on to different projects. Nothing that rivaled the work of Brunelleschi, after all he was an engineer and a genius with a flair that our masons were either unwilling or unable to match. If you want a dome call Brunelleschi, if you want an orangery or a stone tower call Jacques, or if you are a toff call Pierre. Of the two, Jacques knew the limits of his talent more clearly, and perhaps that was his problem the self doubt about his limits sometimes kept him from understanding that his mark was lower than the actually talent limit he possessed. Pierre knew no limits. His was a confidence born of both success, and a unshakable self belief that would allow him to attempt almost any project that could hold his wandering interest. It's not that Jacques didn't wander, he possessed a great deal of wanderlust in his own right, it was just his field of wandering was limited by his doubting his own talent.

They had their failures as well, projects that could never get past the foundational stage, projects that after the stone had been dressed, it just refused to come together into anything that any self-respecting (and they both possessed a great deal of self-respect) mason would attempt to build. Dressed stone, the type used in ashlar masonry was a particular weakness with them both. They both preferred the rougher hew of an undressed bit of masonry the type used in rubble masonry, claiming that it was an easier medium in which to work.  Jacques was much more into rubble masonry because he claimed the requirement of regular courses stifled his creativity. 

They weren't rivals and they weren't exactly friends. They knew of each other, and of each other's work but rarely did their paths cross either professionally or personally.  Except on the rare occasion, when a local builder who wasn't a toff or a prole needed a bit of work "done" (as the saying goes). The building itself was complete, but there was some recent expansion that hadn't gone quite to plan, and the builder found themselves with the sudden, unexpected need of a new mason. Sadly, (as it turned out later) Jacques didn't notice the fine cracks that were showing in the facade of the building, and being a mostly honest type told the builder "everything is grand, don't ruin a good thing by complicating the brickwork already in place".  Pierre, being more of a chancer, and perhaps a bit more perceptive explained to the builder the flaws in the building, but at first decided that the repairs were either beneath him, or that he didn't have the proper feeling of the builder's plan to make the building "up to code" again. 

Eventually, Pierre convinced the builder that the cracks were slightly more serious than they actually were, and obtained the commission to make the building "right as rain".  He managed it just, and for a while all was right in the world at least for the builder and Pierre. Jacques, ass out of the commission was at first a bit put out, but eventually started to work on his own grand tower for some towering queen that most people were unable to know. Both of our "heroes" loved stone because of its smoothness Jacques because it was cold, Pierre because of its earthly smell. Neither were above the task of picking pebbles out of a drain, but neither ever claimed they were themselves stones.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


"I suppose you know why you are here" she asked with just enough sarcasm in her voice to trigger what was probably the wrong reply. "I figured you were going to tell me which of the myriad of reasons is the cause of my presence in front of you."  That did not please them, because as I looked further into the corners of the proverbial "corner office/throne room" I saw that quite a gathering had been assembled to give me the latest "dressing down" in a lifetime full of them.

One of the non-throne occupants sighed and said, "I told you not to be a jackass, why wouldn't you listen to me?"  No reply that I could think of would much help that comment, so I decided to keep my mouth shut, for once. Keeping one's mouth shut is an art and a science, and can be very hard to do for someone with a willful disposition.  "Well?" the throne asked, "Care to tell us why you are here?"

I shrugged and replied carefully "again, I figured you would tell me, after all your spies, and we all know you have them, and who they are by the way, would have briefed you on whatever reason you needed to frog march me in here." A small, but still hard to notice unless you were paying attention, and my life is built upon paying attention so I noticed, hint of surprise flickered in the throne's eyes at my statement about her spies and people knowing their identity. "If you're going to create spies, or turn people against each other it is best to be a bit more subtle. I understand the iron fist in the velvet glove approach, but that is about ruling, not about being a spymaster."

While undeniable true, that statement did not win me any friends among the group assembled. The good news, if there was any good news, is that I already knew that I didn't have any friends in that group, so I hadn't really lost anything. "I mean other than dressing them up in leather trench coats, giving them a fedora, a sneer, and maybe a scar or two, could you have been more obvious in your choice(s) of spies?" You are not, I hate to break the news to you, Felix Dzerzhinsky (my favorite Bolshevik, by the way), and this little group of yours isn't the Cheka, and your power is not as limitless as you'd like to think." I figured since I had been unceremoniously dragged into this "meeting" I had might as well get my money's worth. Once you're in enough trouble, you reach a point of diminishing returns as to the punishment you can receive, I had reached that point.  

However, that little speech, while sounding quite pretty to me, was not particularly well received by my audience. Did I mention keeping one's mouth shut being an art and a science? I can't draw a stick figure properly, and most of the science I know is that the atomic number of Carbon is 6.  Perhaps my classical education wasn't as classical as I had previously thought.  "Well since you don't care to articulate the actual reason you are here, let's just talk in generalities shall we?"  

"It's your party boss, I am just the guest of honour."  That, at least produced a laugh from somewhere behind me, had more of my fan club filed in while I was ruining my career with my smart mouth? "Some honour" I heard someone say with a chuckle, and recognized the voice as another one of "them".  Jesus they had brought out the entire line up of bigwigs for this dressing down. Like the British using the entire Royal Navy to "show the flag" to some banana republic that needed a little show of might to be brought to heel. It seemed a bit of overkill to me, but it wasn't my party, it was more like my funeral, and I didn't even get to pick the music.  

The throne began to speak, and I realized it wasn't going to be pleasant, and since no cookies had been provided to take the edge off of unpleasant, I held up a hand to forestall the "list of your sins" speech from getting into top gear. "I already know what you're going to say. I have my spies as well you know." Here, I stopped (a dramatic pause if there ever was one), and took a long slow look around the room. Not because any of these cunts were my spies, but it never hurts to spread doubt among one's enemies. Let them ponder that bit of impossible news for a second or two, maybe they were a bit like the Bolsheviks, and after so many years "in power" they would start to turn on each other and devour themselves.  

Not that they would mind you, they weren't quite the power mad bastards that Stalin and his cronies were, but it was worth a small prayer to the gods that it might happen.  "You will be even sadder to know a few things about my spies" I said with just enough conviction in my voice to convince me that I actually did have spies (which wasn't exactly true by the textbook definition of the term, but luckily for me this lot hadn't look at a textbook in over a quarter of a century).  "First, you don't know who they are, they aren't the obvious people you would think, if you bother to think about it at all. Two, I don't have to pay them, nor can I offer them any reward for good information, or punishment for bad information. Thirdly, unlike your lot, they are loyal. Fourth, and this is just my personal opinion, they are smarter than your group, which makes it quite entertaining for me."  That little speech did NOT go over well, but by this juncture, I was beyond caring about the eventual, obvious outcome of this meeting. I had endured a long day, and I just wanted a beer or ice cream, or maybe a ice cream beer float.  

"Well that was certainly a wonderful speech," I heard from behind me, "Anything else you'd like to rally the troops with there, Churchill?" This came from the throne's version of Molotov, the plodder in the group that somehow managed to achieve a high position to the amazement of everyone, up to and including themselves. It was a bit clever for them, and I figured that another one of "them" had provided the quote to "Molotov" in order to keep from speaking themselves. "No, I figure that most of Churchill's wisdom would be lost in this situation, and besides I have not dusted off any of his speeches in a while. So you can go ahead and set my punishment now, though with your lack of imagination I know the choices execution or exile."  

That drew a oddly disturbing smirk from the throne, and when the throne smirks it cannot be anything but bad news to the person at which the smirk is aimed.  "No, genius we've decided against either one of those option, though there were a couple of us that spoke quite vehemently for the former, but they eventually came around to the majority view." I arched an eyebrow in question as to what these mad bastards could have concocted as a third way of punishing me. They were not known for their imagination.  "It took us a while, but we figured out the best way to, in your words "punish" you was quite simple." She leaned forward tenting her hands (a la Monty Burns) and said with pure joy, "We are going to promote you."

You unbelievable, magnificent bastards ....

Friday, September 01, 2017

Les Loups

Almost five months since last writing anything for this blog is inexcusable. There have been subjects that needed addressing, but I found myself beset with a lassitude that was too hard to overcome in order to make that happen. It is not something to be proud of, the habit of not writing can be just as easy to fall into (and to break) as any other bad habit, but we should at least give it a try. After all, I (and my layabout co-author, Ladislaw) already possess enough bad habits between us to keep a clinic, a whorehouse, a bar, and a team of psychologists busy for years to come, there is no need to add any more bad habits to the list.

Seventy-eight years ago today, some very, very bad people did something very bad to their next door neighbors and in the doing of that caused a whole lot of other people to get involved. The neighborhood had seen this disaster coming, but they just couldn't be arsed to do anything of substance about it. Every time the bad, bad people did something bad (as bad people are wont to do) the rest of the 'hood just make excuses for them, or believed the bad people's lies when they proclaimed (this lot were great at proclaiming) that they were very sorry, and that it wouldn't happen again. The neighborhood, being the trusting sort, and being distracted by what was happening in their own houses (after all the laundry isn't going to do itself, now is it?) took the bad people at their word.

Of course, "the word" of bad people (and a lot of the times any people) is generally as useless as a white crayon, but I guess "not so bad" people tend to look for the best in everyone no matter how bad those people have shown themselves to be. This is, from what I've been told, a form of optimism, something that I have never been accused of possessing. The very, very bad people got away with a few transgressions before today, seventy-eight years ago, they got just a little bit too greedy and "crossed the Rubicon" that the not so bad people had told them was the last straw. In their defense, even though they are really impossible to defend, the very, very bad people had every reason to expect that the not so bad people would react as they had before, which was to waggle an admonishing finger at them, and ask them "not to do it again."

One of the problems with very, very bad people is their word is shit. They didn't get to be very,very bad people by being honest, open, and straight with other people. They lie, they cheat, and they don't follow the conventional rules of polite society it is what makes them both hard to comprehend, and hard to deal with in any setting. They just quite simple do not care about anything other than themselves and their agenda. If you are in their way, they will steamroll you, if you have something they want, or think they need, they will just simply take it from you (if you persist in trying to keep it), and they don't care if they have to crush you like a bug in the process. They may start out using words as weapons, and you can reply in kind, but they aren't afraid to quickly progress from words to real weapons, and you have to understand that while you may be loathe to respond in kind, it will eventually become necessary to your continued survival as a viable person.

All of that leads us to (what we hope) is the main point of this post. Words as weapons, and how far you can take that particular idea. In the past week two people whom I consider to be "bad people" (they haven't progressed to very, very bad yet) told two other people that I know (they are closer to the "good people" category but are still not without their flaws), that they (the bad people) "always had their (the good people's) back."  A simple enough idea, and if true a wonderful thing to say. Both of these bad people might have even have meant it (I wasn't there to judge the sincerity of their words). This isn't the McCarthy hearing, and I am not being asked to "name names" and I am not going to.

 Hearing of both of these proclamations of undying fealty of friendship, and knowing all of the parties involved, I began to wonder about their veracity. Since neither of them were made to me (me and the proclaim(ers) aren't that close), my thoughts on the subject were merely (for the most part) an academic exercise.  They are beautiful words to say, and to hear, and if true a sign of some sort of enduring friendship that will stand the test(s) and  strains of time. The problem with the declaration is the word "always'. There is a theory that "always" and "never" should not be added to those types of statements, based upon the theory that it is rather predicative of future events that you (the declarant) have little to no control over. External events such as war, famine, plague, or getting a new job in a new city as a wringer of chicken's necks are hard to predict, and even harder to control.

Those external events cannot be accounted for because they don't exist yet, you can try to plan for things that don't exist, but most of us aren't that clever. To come up with a plan to combat a problem or an enemy yet to be determined is the work of genius. Schopenhauer said that "talent hits a target that others can't hit, genius hits a target that others can't see. Pretty fair assessment of this situation. Knowing all the parties involved (both the speakers and the listeners), I can assure you there is no genius in this lot, there is talent sure, but no genius.  If those beautiful words had been spoken in a vacuum then perhaps their lofty goal might be attainable, but they weren't they were spoken in the real world to real people by a couple of people that could be labeled as "lying cunts'.

Much like the very, very bad people of seventy-eight years ago our speakers have some massive flaws. We all do, and that is not what the major problem with this story is, if they were perfect (which one of them is pretty sure he is), then we wouldn't be able to stand to be around them.  Flaws are not fatal until they begin to poison the bloodstream of the friendship with diseases just as jealousy, betrayal, and greed. Those types of issues crop up in a lot of our relationships and they are very rarely signs that things are going swimmingly.  In two of the three proclamations of "always having your back" those beautiful words are not beautiful that are, in fact, weapons.

It is probably expecting too much of the speakers of those words (they both said it to the same person) to have them even realize they are using those words as anything other than what they seem to be on their face. Beautiful words of undying loyalty to another human being they purport to deeply care for. But again, that tricky little word "always" comes into play. Though now we are talking about internal problems. Not that your garbage can has been stolen by the very, very bad neighbors, but issues that are internal to the relationship between the speaker and the listener. The kinds of things you (both speakers) can control. Things like how you treat the other person, both in a crowd, and when you are alone with them.  They may be different for a various number of reasons, but you should both understand and agree to that set of rules.

The weapon those words picked from the selection of injury dealing items in every one's relationship armory is guilt. A dangerous one to be sure, and one wielded far too often, and with the usual brutal results. The knout of guilt is something that can flay more than the skin off a relationship it can cut through to the bone, and leave more than external scars.  Guilt can deceive, it can make the listener start to doubt their own judgement, make them believe a fable that the speaker is spinning in order to distract attention from their own lack of character. Keep the listener guessing, keep them doubting their own judgement, and the next thing you know you are controlling their emotions. Which is the major goal of guilt in the first place. Keep them terrified, Keep them from trusting themselves make them trust you, and get a concession from that first concession of doubt you can start to change the narrative to you being the injured party not the lying, grasping cunt you really are.

After pounding away with the knout of guilt, our speakers both decided to reach for the battle axe of jealousy. As if the knout wasn't enough to break some one's spirit. The battle axe of guilt was especially appropriate in both of these cases for reasons that are easily sussed out, but best not written down. Both used it with abandon, both meant it with malice, but one of them had a decided advantage over the other. Again details are not important, it is the fact that the axe was added to the knout in order to control the listener's feelings, to make the listener doubt. Doubt, like fear, is the mind killer, and once you have them doubting, you can, like the very, very bad people mentioned above start to get away with more and more egregious actions.

Finally, at least for our purposes today, the speaker can't really "always" have the listeners back. There will come a time when a "me" or "them" decision has to be made. The wolves will be at the door, and no matter how much they may have actually meant that declaration of loyalty, they will leave the other person to the wolves. It is just basic survival technique, we aren't talking about the self sacrifice that a mother will undertake to keep her child alive, we are talking about non-lethal situations where the speaker will throw the listener to the wolves because it becomes apparent that the speaker will benefit from it more than "having the back" of the other person. The realization that the speaker will leave the listener to the wolves will eventually dawn upon the listener, and like the "good" people above they will have to, in order to survive, stand up to the both the wolves and the person "always having their back" the pity of the situation is that more often than not they are actually one and the same person.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thor's Hammer

In the legend, the comic and the movie(s), Thor the God of Thunder has a hammer that only he can lift. He even says that anyone that can lift it can rule Asgard in his place. All of his fellow super-heroes try and fail to lift it, as he knew they would. There is only one Thor, and it is his hammer made for him alone. It is his right and duty to wield it. We all have our own version of Thor's Hammer, something that only we can "wield" or do, or something that is ours alone. It might be be a burden, it might be a privilege, it might be a duty, or it might be a right. More than likely it is, if you keep it long enough, all of the above at some point in your life. The point is that it is yours, and you don't have to share it if you don't want to, and even if you do share it, you can really divest yourself of being its sole proprietor.

This blog, which I have been shamefully neglecting, is, for today's purpose, my own small version of Thor's Hammer. Clearly, sometime near the beginning of the year I "downed tools" and stopped writing.  It was an act of pure, unadulterated laziness for which I am duly ashamed. It is also an act which I am going to try to remedy. I still suffer from a lack of actual writing talent, but that deficiency never stopped me before, and I should not allow it to stop me now. A lack of material is not to blame, there exists enough of that in my day to day life to keep me at this keyboard for years to come. Be it the rumors swirling like autumn leaves around my workplace (some of which I am the subject of, some of which I gleefully start or embellish, and some of which I am the keeper of), or the continued failure of my relationships and sports teams (to which there seems no end), or the pure insanity of the group of people that I chose to call my friends. All of those sources are fields of gold for material to write about, and with the proper name changing, and the occasional artistic license could be worked into something that could be considered entertaining.

I have attempted to share this blog (my hammer) with Ladislaw, but that ne'er do well is off living a life that would make Caligula proud, and has, it seems, also downed tools. I can't blame Ladislaw for the work stoppage. Keeping the tarts happy, holding down a semi-full time job, and managing to be a constant source of irritation to so many people must be exhausting. I shouldn't expect regular contributions to this blog to be particularly high on the list of things Ladislaw is concerned with doing. That isn't anyone fault exactly, Ladislaw has a hammer of considerable weight to drag around that takes up a considerable amount of time and effort. Fair play to him. She has, in the past, graciously allowed me to help with his hammer, but it remains her burden alone. That is a story for another day, and if Ladislaw can be arsed to do it, maybe he can tell it. Those details need not detain us here.

During the Viking Age, the age that we associate most with our buddy Thor, His hammer, forged with a slightly too short handle by dwarfs tricked into the making of it by Loki, became a symbol of the old gods, a rebellion against the Christianity that was becoming more prevalent in Scandinavia. The hammer became a sort of "anti-cross" to people who resisted that change and clung to the old ways (we fear change, so we can understand this entirely).  Without trying to sound like too much of a pretentious prick, this blog is my own (poor) version of an anti-cross. It wasn't exactly started as an act of rebellion, but it has developed into one over the years. It is my own small rebellion against the everydayness that Sarte and Camus explained, lamented, and eventually rebelled against. I do it poorly, and I understand that in many ways it is futile, but sometimes it is the act itself that is important regardless of the chances of success or the certainty of failure. It must needs doing, and I am the one that needs to be doing it.

Unlike Mjolnir (the name of Thor's hammer), this blog isn't capable of leveling mountains, and it certainly does miss more than it hits. It is not going to create thunderstorms which will make my many devious enemies cower in terror in the dirty, smelly hovel in which they live. It is not designed for that purpose, though it would be bloody nice if it could make thunderstorms happen, I love me some thunderstorms. But no, the more mundane, and more un-godlike task of this blog is not to be a burden, not to be something that I have put down, and now can't pick up again. Its task, its purpose, and its goals are to entertain. Mostly it is to entertain me, if it happens to provide other people with some sort of entertainment that is grand as well. I waver between hoping that it does, and not give a shit if it doesn't.

Either way, the point of this (if there is one) is that the work stoppage must come to an end, and if my loyal readership of four, maybe five people are still out there, I hope they will rejoice (though that might be asking just a bit too much) at the news.  If, by some small chance, the subsequent blog posts (of which I hope to write soon) entertain them, then that is a bonus. And if by some further miracle, Ladislaw manages to crawl out of whatever tart's bed they are warming, and crawls back to the keyboard to contribute, well their assistance in picking up this hammer will not be unappreciated.  Here's hoping.

 P.S. this post was written on a Thursday for a reason, it is Thor's day, now go forth and bring the thunder down upon your enemies.