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. 







Wednesday, July 06, 2016

There goes my Hero

You are dead asleep, safely tucked away in your bed, alone as usual, but the reason for that is not the reason(s) that I am here, and are a different story entirely. Alone, or accompanied by some random hussy you've convinced to share your bed, neither matters to me. I am here for you. You toss and turn, mutter some nonsense under your breath as I take over your subconscious, but that is normal it happens to everyone. I try to take control gently, most of the time, but now and then, you lot either resist me, or are assholes that I care less about being gentle with when I take control. You are a bit of an asshole, but your resistance is not particularly strong tonight, and I gently force it to crumble in front of only a modicum of my power. After all, you admire me, I am a hero to you, why ruin the love fest by running over you like a Panzer division? At least not unless you force me to, then well, then, you take your chances just like the rest of them.


As I mentioned I am your hero, a title you bestowed upon me and 365 other people throughout time and space. Some of are 'real' people, some of us are fictional characters, some of us are animals, and at least one of us is a number. You picked fairly decent range of heroes from all sorts of places and all sorts of times, and given your relative limited imagination, I am slightly impressed. Not that it matters, I can assume the guise of any of those 366 people or things that you put on your hero pedestal(s). Though I choose not to pick the number or the horse, because that would make communication a little more difficult. Not that I have to speak aloud or your language to communicate with you, after all I am mucking about in your mind. You don't get to talk, and I don't really need to speak aloud to make myself understood. But, I figure a talking horse, or number would make this take over just a little too weird for you to take seriously. 


And it is time you took something seriously, even if it is a visitation in the middle of the night from a hero of yours that may or may not really exist. But to you, and for as long as I want to (tonight at least) I exist. Therefore, I am going to make myself at home in this train wreck you call a mind, and dispense with a few home truths that you need to, but don't want to hear. They are nothing you don't really already know. After all, you are, for your age group and time period, a fairly clever fellow when you apply yourself. Obviously, the problem is you rarely apply yourself, and a couple of people left some serious self-doubt in your mind for you to carry around with you as you wander through your day to day existence. That makes it difficult for you, but no more difficult than it is for a lot of other of your kind. At least you have the sense to realize the self-doubt isn't true, but not quite enough sense to dispel it, and be the clever fellow the world sometimes needs you to be. Which is, in many ways, a true pity, but something that need not detain us at this time.


The main home truth that I've been elected by our various guises to impart to you is pretty simple. We aren't heroes, either yours or anyone else's. Most of us don't give two shits for our place in history, and we don't care that you think we are worthy of, or even need, your idolatry. You've never met any of us, and we agree with your statement that one shouldn't meet your heroes. There is very little chance that you and any of us would get along. Most of us would find you an annoying little shit, and you would probably be appalled at some of our lesser publicized life decisions. But, fuck you, we didn't ask your opinion, and if we did, we would give it to you in terms which even you could understand. These ivory tower like pedestals that you've constructed for us, aren't suited for the vast majority of us. Certainly a couple of us were very close to being saints, but we are your heroes, and you are not the saint worshipping type.


In order to qualify for the dubious distinction of being one of your heroes, you judged us. Mostly for the good, but we didn't ask for your judgment. In fact, most of us could care less about you, or what you think. We are (almost) all dead, or fictional, and are past caring what someone, anyone, you think.  You look up to us like some star struck teenage girl going ape shit over the Beatles (which we notice are absent from your list, a fact that pleases most of us), and we are not amused.  Granted we are a talented lot, we went down in history for (mostly good) reason, and we understand how people could fall into the trap of admiring us overmuch. However, like the song says, we are mostly ordinary, there are a few of us that would dispute that, but in the main, we are ordinary. Not so much greater than you could be, if you tried. Which of course you seem to be incapable of doing.


You use the hero worship of us to attempt to explain away your own failings. And you have failings, lots of them, a string of failures that would make a particularly clumsy inventor proud. However your multitude of failures is, and this is the point you miss so very badly, not anymore lengthy than the average person in your world. You at least like to think that you stand out at something, even if that something is failing. Certainly you do a fine job of failing, and you seem remarkably prone to making the same mistake(s) over and over again, but none of your failures are particularly remarkable in their scope. This is a lesson, or an idea that you need to wrap your fragile, eggshell mind around, and move on with your life. Being defined by your failures isn't noble, it won't win you any friends, and won't make you cool.


Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of this blog, granted it is mostly dross, and needs an editor in the worst possible way, but it is still something of an accomplishment. Not many of the people in your life would ever think you were capable of such dedication. This is as close to praise as you are going to get from us. Maybe it will help, maybe it won't, we don't particularly care. What we care about is ourselves. We care that by making us your heroes, by hiding behind our achievements, and accomplishments, you are stunting (we think on purpose) your own growth. You aren't getting any younger lad, and at some point you are going to have to come out from behind our skirts, and become your own man. We would like for this to happen sooner rather than later. We wouldn't have bothered hijacking your mind if we didn't think that maybe you may be made of sterner stuff than you think.


We are well are aware of the mess you've gotten yourself into at present. It is a fine mess, and you did a fantastic job of dropping yourself into it. You have (we know) scoured our collective pasts looking for one of us that had been in the same situation as you are now, in the vain hope that we would provide you guidance. Quite a few of have been in very similar situations as you are now, but you just haven't figured out which ones. Your current situation, while not as bad as you think, is a bit dodgy, and it is yours and yours alone. You are the one that needs to sort it out, and relying on one or more of us isn't going to help. We are (for the most part) of a different time, a different set of social mores guided or constrained us, and we each reacted in matter most suited to our personality. You didn't need our lines to get into this situation (or at least not many of them, we suspect you poached a few, we do mainly approve), and we don't believe that any of our lines can help you get out of it. If that is want you want to do, and we suspect you don't.


Quite simply, we are going to pay you back your blind faith and worship of us with a little bit of the same for you. As a group (though the vote was close between the "he will be fine" camp and the "he will fuck this up in an explosive manner" camp) we think you can do this. We have decided that you need to be your own hero, and take your current situation as a defining moment in your life. Something that people might actually remember YOU for doing, for better or worse.  We have determined to have a little faith in you, after all, you did have enough sense to pick each and every one of us as heroes, and while that annoys us to some degree, it is still a bit flattering. We are not immune to flattery, but don't get carried away. We are not gods (or at least most of us, some of us are almost convinced they are), and we are almost all dead. That doesn't really matter as the few living ones wouldn't deign to speak to you anyway.


Dawn is about to break, and that alarm clock sitting on your bedside table is about to jolt you awake, and send you off to whatever tasks the world has set before you. However, the world can wait, our task is more important, our task which is now your task is to be your own hero. There are, much to your and our shock, a few people who actually think you can do it. One or two of them have enough sense that you should believe them. We think you can, and since we are your heroes, you should listen to us. If only for the fact that if you don't we will be back in your dreams, and our return visits will be less than pleasant. Bon chance. 










































Thursday, June 09, 2016

L'idiot

Suppose you are an idiot, and then let's give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose you aren't a drooling in the corner of the mental ward throwing feces at the attendant type of idiot, or the knuckle dragging, mouth breathing type of idiot. Let's also suppose that you aren't the idiot savant type either, with some insane type of skill that allows you to count all the jellybeans in a jar with just a moments glance. No, you are the average, run of the mill type of idiot. The type of idiot you complain about when one of them cuts you off in traffic, or the type that makes you wonder how they got themselves dressed, out the door, and to work in the morning without the aid of some gentle, loving, caregiver.  You are just an average idiot, with an average idiot's problems. Problems that may entail all or parts of things like rent, work, school, kids, accidentally sexting your boss at 3 a.m., donuts, elephants, your fear of flying, your fear of elephants flying, all sorts of problems that beset the average idiot on a day to day basis. Some of them are real, some are them are part of the idiot's overactive imagination, and quite a few are caused by the idiot themselves.

The word itself doesn't really do any damage, after all it's just a word. Derived from some long, hard to pronounce Greek word (like a lot of words are) meaning person lacking professional skill, private, or one's own. Different meanings all from the same little innocent word. None of those meanings are quite like the meaning we attach to the word today, and none are particularly mean spirited. "Lacking professional skill" could be a bit mean, but it could also just mean that no one has properly trained you (yet) in your job as horse masturbater. The saying "practice makes perfect" could very well move you out of the idiot category into someone who can get a horse off  with a steamy glance, and a naughty word whispered in his ear.  Private or one's own might have to do with somethings that are best not spoken aloud at all those fancy parties your wife makes you go to "because that's what people do, not just sit at home and plot the death of all of their co-workers in a large, but accidental fire." It was Latin, and I assume those tricky bastards, the Romans, that changed the definition to mean "an uneducated or ignorant" person. Again, not necessarily a mean spirited word, I am uneducated as to speaking Swedish, it's not that I am stupid (which is actually probably true) it is just that I've never been exposed to the language enough to fill that gap in my education. I do know the word for awful, and I know how to say I love you in Swedish. Which, in theory, may be the same thing, but that's not the reason we are here today.

It wasn't until the 19th century that the word idiot started to take on the negative meaning that we apply to it today. Shockingly enough we owe that to doctors, one of the many crimes for which all doctors, except maybe Dr. Who, will have to answer for when the end of the world comes, and makes all men even, and not the gods that doctors think they are.  Idiot became to mean someone with a mental age of less than three years old. A rather low bar for people to get over, but I suppose there is a group of people to which the act of just putting on pants remains a bridge too far, and not as an act of civil disobedience against the tyranny of pants. After the doctors decided to put a negative spin on the word, lawyers, not to be outdone in the asshole Olympics, decided to add the word to the penal code. However, being the kinder, gentler type, lawyers cut the idiots of the world a break, and classified them as one of six types of people that were unable to commit crimes. We (lawyers) also decided that a further crime idiots couldn't commit was to vote, and we took away that right as well. Which, given the current choice of candidates for the highest office in the land, is probably quite a favour. Idiots shouldn't be allowed to help elect idiots, that would queer the whole system.

The author to which is blog is dedicated, wrote an entire, lengthy book called "The Idiot" in which his main character's idiocy is not his mental age of less than three, or an IQ of under 30, but based upon his honesty, kindness, and humility. Perhaps that was a gentler use of the word, but if an idiot is defined by those words, then the world needs a whole lot more idiots, and a whole lot fewer doctors, and lawyers.  Nietzsche went so far as to describe Jesus as an idiot because of his aversion to the material world, Wonder how that conversation worked out if the Christian view of the after life is correct, but that is Nietzsche's problem.

Let's step away from the evolution of the word, and get back to our average idiot, and their problem(s). Let's also narrow the field down a bit, and put before this particular idiot, a particular problem that doesn't involved Dumbo throwing exploding donuts at him at 3 in morning. No, our idiot's problem is much more mundane, and much more complicated. How it is possible to be more complicated than exploding donut throwing elephants is an accomplishment, but nevertheless it is. Our idiot's problem is not one of kindness, honesty, or humility. Very rarely are any of those words applied, in seriousness, to our idiot. Like most idiots, our idiot has his own unique way of looking at the world. Or at least he likes to think so, originality is a very hard thing to accomplish, and creativity is sometimes merely a matter of being able to successfully hide your sources.

 Our idiot knows this, he has an IQ over 30 and a mental age slightly over 3, therefore is not the medical definition of the word, he is also quite capable of committing, and has in fact, planned several crimes for which he would serve a whole heap of jail time, therefore he is not the legal definition of the word either.  He knows that his problems in general, and this problem in particular is not original to him. He is fairly convinced that somewhere in an alternate universe, where the Vikings are four time Super Bowl champions, a nearly exact copy of him is sitting at their keyboard typing a very different, and probably more successful story. At least he hopes it is a nearly exact copy, he hopes for the sake of the other him, that he (the other him) has navigated the minefield of their duplicate existence better than he has. It is probably a forlorn hope, but it is a hope nonetheless.

That bit of hope coupled with just a modicum of self-awareness, is the one thing that may just take our idiot to the upper echelon on the scale of idiots. He's not out of the idiot forest yet, but he can at least see the edge. Not that it does him a whole lot of good. That hope is being slowly dismantled like a warehouse in what has become some newly developed posh district of town. It has outlived its usefulness, and needs to make way for the realities of the more modern world. The self-awareness foundation remains, and therein lies the rub, our idiot is just smart (using the term very loosely) enough to understand he is an idiot, and moreover, not equipped to solve his problem(s). The paradox of this sad tale of woe and misunderstanding is that the idiot knows this, he knows he can't solve the problem, partly because he is a large part of the problem, partly because he's an idiot, and partly because other, outside forces beyond his limited control are the other part of the problem.

However, the tragedy of the idiot is that he is the only person on this rock, in this version of his universe(s) that could, with the help of a miracle or three, solve the problem. It must needs doing, and he realizes this, he pounds himself with that thought daily. But, he is an idiot, and sending an idiot to fix the problem that the idiot was a large part in creating seems to be an exercise in futility that would make Sisyphus proud. However, the band aid that is the idiot has to be applied to the gunshot wound(s) that are his problem(s) in the, probably vain, attempt to staunch the bleeding. Otherwise, the rock (from the myth of Sisyphus) wins, and that is a universe/fate/future that our idiot isn't sure that he can bear. 






Friday, June 03, 2016

Bon matin, Je suis Henrik

Ok, I'm awake that's a good start, I appear to be alive though my head is screaming at me that I am at least close to a near death experience. However, I do not appear to be at home, which is a bit disorienting. I am in a bed, just not my bed, also a bit of a puzzler. As I try to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of the last 12 hours, I notice that not only am I not in my bed, but I seem to have a companion in the bed I am occupying. Until my eyes gain the focus that my mind seems to lack, all they are is a vague, womanly shaped lump on the far size of, what I can only assume, is their bed. Think! idiot. Think! You went to the bar, no surprise there, you got drunk, again no shock, you saw a girl? You talked to a girl? You went home with a girl? These last three items on the list of my evenings "to do list" seem a bit hazy. Surely the memories exist, it is just a matter of finding the right neural pathway, kicking it open, and accessing them. Hopefully, before my companion wakes up, and starts asking what, I can only assume will be, some very embarrassing questions.

"Live a life of sin," he says," life is no fun in a boring office pushing paper and people around from one inbox to the other" he says. Fine, It seems I attempted to follow that advice a little too vigorously last night, and am now about to pay for the wages of my sin. And as the morning light begins to limp into the room of the girl I don't remember, would probably like to forget, but happen to be lying next to, those wages seem a bit on the high side, and I am not sure I am going to be able to pay them, not all at once at least. A small groan escapes my lips as I shift myself slightly further away from my latest playmate, and a returning moan/snore/grunt emanates from her in reply. She probably has a name, she probably told you her name, and she is sure as fuck probably expecting you to have remembered that name, pity that you don't. It is probably going to cause a few awkward moments of conversation before she hurls insults at you, and then you, out of the door. Susan? Ann? Katie? Jane? no, no, no, and no. Maybe Allison? Allison's a common enough name right? Right, it's Allison. Peering over to look at her, I see blond hair, and a not unpleasing shape, that's encouraging, but blond? I'm not much of a fan of blonds even drunk GI knows this, is this a way of adding some flavour to our life of sin? The bastard should be here to sort his mess out for himself, but no I had to wake up sober. Pity that.

Well, she looks a bit like an Allison (with two L's), whatever Allison's are supposed to look like, therefore we will go with Allison, unless of course I can somehow extract myself from her bed, and her house (located gods know where), figure out how I got here, and how I'm getting home, without waking her up. Hmm, all that seems a bit unlikely, and would require the luck of the entire fucking Republic of Ireland. Pity that I'm also not Irish. Luck, which may or may not have gotten me into this mess, has probably left the building, and forgot to take me with it in its hasty departure. The good news, if there is to be any good news, is that sleeping in my contacts has at least left me able to see, the bad news is I think my eyeballs may fall out from the experience. If you can see, you can find your pants right? If you can find your pants, you can make a quick and dignified exit right? Let's hope Allison is a deep sleeper, or still drunk. Either one will serve.

She seems to be deeply drooling the drool of what will soon become remorse, into some brightly coloured pillow of will become the pillow of regret, and fortune favours the brave, this seems a good time to collect my wits, and my clothes and get the hell out of here. Quietly, and quickly, for the this isn't the first time I've gotten dressed in the dark, I find the majority of my clothes, enough to pass as decent if not respectable, and start trying to navigate the maze of the house that I need to escape from, and sharply.  Allison, or whatever her name is, groans a couple of times, and shifts a little too much for my comfort, like a woman coming dangerously close to waking all the way up, and expecting me to be by her side in some happy state of mutual bliss, rather than the bounder standing next to her bed with his shoes in his hand, ready to hare it the fuck out of there like some thief that just nicked the good silver, and is headed towards the nearest pawn shop in hopes of a payday that will fund a lovely day at the races.

"Back to sleep, Allison" I coo reassuringly, like some parent trying to coax a baby with the colic to calm down, and let me get some bleeding sleep as well. Thank fuck it seems to have worked, she rolls back over and nestles deeper into the bed, and seems to be asleep for the duration, or at least the duration I need to get out of here. Out of the bedroom down the hall, a longing look at the bathroom because I have to piss like a rushing racehorse, but can't risk all that noise.  Wait, what the hell was that noise? Stop, take a listen, and a deep breath. Figment of your over active imagination old boy, no noise coming from the bedroom. Allison is sleeping the sleep of the dead, or the dead drunk, whichever either one is to my advantage. Wait, godsdamit, that was a noise, it's coming from some other room. Jesus, does Allison have a roommate, or a child, or maybe it's just a dog. That's it a dog, she seemed the type to have a dog.

Laughing at my own overly developed sense of paranoia, I continue my stealthy escape from this sticky situation, and head for what I hope is the back door, a person in my position should leave by the back door, show some respect after all.  Back doors are my type of fellow's friend, and I eventually figure out which direction to head, and hear more noise. Fuck me that was no dog, unless Allison possesses a dog that can sing, in which case awesome, but highly unlikely. This has to be a roommate right? Not a child, please jesus not a child, that will be way too difficult to explain, or not some elderly aunt that came over to cook her a surprise breakfast, also very tricky to explain to her who I am, why I am here, why I am leaving with my shoes in my hand, and why I don't like my eggs over easy.

It dawns upon my, not quite fully functioning, brain that I am now trapped. Trapped between "the devil" that is Allison and her bed, and the "deep, blue sea" that is the unknown person in the kitchen blocking my access to the back door. Back doors love them some kitchens.  Ignoring the "better the devil you know, than the one you don't" theory, I attempt to redirect my escape route to the front door, knowing that my odds of success have been drastically reduced. Still hope springs eternal right? Stranger thinks have happened, I mean they made 7 Fast and Furious films right?

Sadly, the little luck I had retained from last night decided, at this unfortunate moment, to run out, and not take me with it. For that was the moment that the occupier of the kitchen, the singer of morning songs came around the corner coffee mug in one hand and wearing nothing but their mortal sins for cover. "Jesus Christ!  Ladislaw!!! What in the ever loving fuck are you doing here? What the hell happened last night, I thought you had climbed out of a tart's bed and wasn't returning?" Before Ladislaw, looking very bemused could reply, Allison (which as it turns out that not her actual name) came around from the other corner, and said "well, hello lovers, glorious morning isn't it? Oh, excuse my rudeness Ladislaw this is Henrik (pointing at me)." Henrik, this is Ladislaw."

Ladislaw, that glorious bastard, stuck out their hand and with a wink as broad as the Mississippi River said "Damn glad to meet your Henrik, I'm afraid that I had rather forgotten your name in all the confusion, and err stuff last night." And that is how not Allison, to this day, thinks I first met Ladislaw. It certainly wasn't, but that is a tale for another time. So much for waking up with no one to answer to, and nothing to apologize for.








Wednesday, June 01, 2016

St. Christopher is Lost

I was given a specific assignment for my next blog post, and I appreciated that since my last one was mostly about how difficult it is currently for me to come up with ideas. Thankfully this assignment was more of a vague question and less of a demand for an exegesis, so you'll all be spared my less than brilliant literary analysis.

"Now I lost my St Christopher, now that I've kissed her."

The Inquisitor takes a more optimistic view of this line than I do. St Christopher is indeed the patron saint of travelers (as well as of poor mortals suffering from a toothache as well, but that's a subject for another day...). Inquisitor likes to think that the poet doesn't need the St Christopher any more because he has found someone to take its place. But the poet of the song didn't abandon his St Christopher or it lay aside, he lost it. Its not tucked safely in the top drawer of his desk. It is lost.  Which leads me to believe that he too is now lost. If the St Christopher was protection during his travels, then he no longer has it and is adrift on the tide. Being lost, as Inquisitor says, has its own kind of reckless appeal. There is a great deal to be learned and experienced when one is lost.  It is the stuff of fantasy... to get in your car, leave your life behind, and drive as far as you can go. New people to meet, sights to see, food to eat.  The desire for those things is one that most of us don't lose, in fact it seems to get stronger with age.

However, I have spent a great amount of time actually lost. Like, I took a wrong turn on the way to a place I've been seventy-five times and now I'm in Mississippi, lost. My sense of direction is bad enough as to be almost a disability. GPS directions on the iPhone have been an absolute life saver for me, not to mention salvaging my dignity from the scrap-heap of having to call my father repeatedly and try to tell him where I am so he can talk me through getting home. So, unfortunately, I know all too well what getting lost feels like.

The difference is that Inquisitor is lost on a solitary and exciting adventure. He is lost on purpose and with a purpose.  I'm usually lost and therefore late to wherever I'm supposed to be and panicked because someone (my mother or my friend or my child) is going to be upset about that. Lost, for me, brings no adventures and no lessons... It brings stress and anger and too many gray hairs. So I envy Inquisitor his ability to get lost and embrace it.

And maybe that is why I read that line so differently. Our poet has kissed the girl and been spun out into space by it. And it is a Romantic (Capitol R) idea that she may take the place of his St Christopher and now anchor him to earth. But that sort of cataclysm holds no appeal for me. I see only that his former anchor is gone and he is lost... And all of the accompanying stress and anger and gray hair that go with it. More than likely this girl is nothing special and will leave the poet high and dry when someone with a steady paycheck comes along. Then he'll be, without her and without his St Christopher, well and truly screwed.

The line is beautiful and heartbreaking, like most of my favorite poems. But in life, unlike in poetry, I prefer to turn on my GPS and not take the wrong turns. Wrong turns do tend to lead us to tarts' beds on occasion, and as I have climbed out of one in order to write this, I'm going to stay out.

You and I

I suppose I should start with an apology for drowning, it seems odd to have to do, but for reasons that I somewhat understand, you seem to be holding a grudge against me for drowning. Trust me, when I slipped into the W____ River that night 19 years ago, I had no intention of drowning. It was not a suicide, it was a lark, a spur of the moment decision that tragically turned into the last decision I ever made. I drowned that night in Memphis, and it took nearly 5 days for my body to be found. I took my voice, and my talent out of the world, but it was by accident. We live in a culture that kills artists, it wants them to die, people that talk poetically are devalued, and while culture didn't kill me that night, the river did, it was bound to happen sooner rather than later.  Therefore, I apologize for drowning, I hope that you accept this letter as a mea culpa, and as our 'last goodbye.'


I was an artist, and I carried a light that you refused to carry yourself. You admired me and you let it stifle your art. We all do it, I did it, and you will do it again with someone else, but your art, while not music like mine, is still art. You let me carry the light that you were afraid to carry yourself. But, I drowned, and now it is up to you to pick up that light, and maybe carry for yourself. If you are lucky, and I hope to fuck you are, then you might even carry (if only a little way) for other people as well. Be the inspiration you wanted me to continue to be, you are still alive, and can do it much easier than I can. There are people who tell you regularly that you are a writer, you scoff, and pretend you're not, and maybe you believe that deep down in your soul. People tell you that it must be a terrible place inside your mind, and I get that. I understand that it really is a terribly confusing place inside there. There are these half-formed ideas screaming at you like backbench members of British Parliament trying to shout down the Prime Minister's speech that they disagree with. These ideas aren't arguing with you, they aren't fighting with you, they are pleading with you, "write me DOWN, godsdamnit.."

I understand you try, you do what you think is your best, when we both know you could do far, far better. You let the critic's stones and arrows wound you too deeply, and retreat into sullen silence, and refuse to write. By doing that you let them win, they silence you, and the light you need to be carrying is extinguished. Here's a little quote that explains it much better than I could, not that you didn't already know this, but sometimes we all need reminding of the obvious.

 "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

 It is like abusive parent, that adore the oldest child, but give them the worst of their behavior, be prepared to get it, accept it, and move on. It is one price you are going to have to pay, if you want to express yourself poetically, and try to create art.  It is not the only one, there will be others, and you will have to pay them as well. Maybe, all your art is just a dream your soul is having in order to reach out to other people in order to communicate with them from a safe distance. You are going to have to close that distance, and get close to a few of those people, and it's going to hurt. They are going to love you, adore you, and then condemn you, but never truly understand you, and that's fine. That is called living, and you have to do it, because I can't, I drowned.

Don't stay with me under these waves tonight, the river that took my life is mere miles from where you live right now. The city that was the last stop on the tour of my life, is where you are living yours. I just happened to get there about 6 years earlier than you did, you walk the same streets I did.  You have, I am certain, taken the time to find the places that you know I hung out, to visit, and ponder, in your anger, why I am not around to carry that light for you anymore. Don't give yourself up to the desperate trend of hero worship. I was no hero, and neither are you. But you can try to be, and maybe you will be to someone like I seem to be for you. More than likely, you won't ever be as "famous" as I was, and that's ok, you don't really want to be. You don't create mass art, you create personal art, don't want to be famous without content, that is as awful as awful can be. You don't use your physical voice, but you still have one. People have told you that when they read you, that they can hear your voice like you are talking to them, that my friend, is a quality to be admired, and exploited. If you are in their head, then you are halfway into their hearts.

Don't let those slings and arrows wound you too deeply, that you reach for that gun. There will be someone who finally loves you for real, when you are out of fuel and understanding, unfreeze your heart, and go get her. She won't just dawdle there in the middle distance waiting for you to get your shit together. She will be worth having, but you have to not be afraid. You might die a little in your art, and that's fine, art is, in many ways, dying in a very public, very poetic way. You will climb into an empty bed far, far too many nights, but those lonely nights will be worth it, they will teach you the value of the nights that she climbs into bed with you, if you are lucky. You will create many an artistic moment with her. Spend nights making love, stripping your ego down, expressing yourself wordlessly, collaborating on a moment that is inspirational in a way you can never imagine.

Pay the cost for the life of sin that your art (in many ways) forces you to lead. Good stories, like good songs, rarely come from working some office job for the majority of your adult life whilst shuffling paper, and people from one inbox to another. Don't let the fact that the rent is due deter you from living the live you art is going to demand of you. It is a demand, and it is a price you are going to have to pay, whether you like it or not. The rent, in the grand scheme of things, isn't.  You are certainly going to have to keep body and soul together, but don't sacrifice one for the benefit of the other. Of course, this is easy for me to say/write, for two reasons. One, I'm dead, I've felt the soil falling over my head and the cares of this mortal coil are no longer of any concern to me, Secondly, I had talent, and the guts to try to live by it. I am not so sure you do, and that, dream brother, is your tragedy to live, I am sorry for you and for it, but there is fuck all I can do about it. Even were I alive, and I know you really wish I was, we would have never crossed paths. Therefore, any help I could have provided you would have been minimal at best. This is, at the end of the day, your burden you are going to have to bear it.

As you stand there in the half light looking out upon the river that took my life, I hope you understand that you will never happen unless you choose to happen. Let the sea (river) take me again, say your last goodbye to me, let go of the resentment you have at me dying, go kiss her out of desire, not consolation, and carry the light I dropped in front of you. It must needs doing, and I can only hope you choose to do it. The risk is worth the reward, and when you die, and trust me you will, and it will be much too soon, someone like you might just look back upon your (wasted) life as well spent, look down at the light that you have dropped, pick it up, and carry it forward for you, for me, for all of us looking for a state of grace in our art.  

your dream brother,

JB














Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lost, one Saint Christopher

Now I lost my Saint Christopher now that I've kissed her

My musical tastes were once described by someone who knew them well at the time, as being of two types, death music and hate music. I am not exactly sure they aren't the same, but after some careful consideration, I figure that assessment was pretty close to the mark.  I like to think my tastes have, unlike me, matured over the years, but they probably haven't. I would maybe tweak the variety to add "thinking music" but that probably still falls into the former two types as well.

The above quote is from a song called Tom Traubert's Blues by a fellow by the name of Tom Waits. It is a lovely song, and you should give it several listens, it's imagery will make you wish you had one hundredth the talent of M. Waits. I lack even that much talent, but I can still appreciate the song, and the story it is telling with such amazing power. My collaborator, Ladislaw, from what I have been able to tell during our brief time as collaborators, has musical tastes that border on the awful.. I did not like the idea of attempting to impose my own taste upon them, but some times people need saving from themselves.

One of the first songs I recommended to Ladislaw was Tom Traubert's Blues or as they know it Waltzing Matilda (it's other title), they loved it (as if I would recommend a bad song), and we've had several listens to it since. I explained that I had a favorite line in the song, what that line was, and how one day I should write something expanding on it. Well, that has never happened, and it may or may not ever happen, but the theory is sound. Ladislaw chose the above quote from the song as their favorite line, and this post is a small, terrible tale about what that meant.

I am a card carrying cynic, and a bit of a brooder by nature. I have been called gloomy by a few people, the few people that actually know me, and I figure that they would have a pretty good idea. It has has been said of me that "he doesn't like a lot of people, but those he likes, he likes." A pretty good summing up of my view on the world. Trust is a very valuable commodity, and I do not trade in it particularly well or often. However, once you obtain it (like some sort of knighthood) it is pretty much yours, barring some unforeseen disaster, for life. It is not given lightly, nor should it be received lightly. It is just the way I operate in the world.  The "truthful slander" of pessimist has been hurled at me by quite a few people, and in the main, I don't believe it was intended to be a compliment. I am a huge (not just in size) fan of Arthur Schopenhauer. Herr Schopenhauer is not for the faint of heart, and one of the things he is known for is the idea of "cosmic pessimism." It seemed brilliant when I first read about it decades ago, and nothing in the intervening years has happened to change my opinion of it. I will leave it up to the curious among you to Google it at your leisure, if you so choose, if not well then you are just reinforcing the theory. It need not detain us here.

Since we had nothing of any real importance to do, Ladislaw, and I discussed what that line meant. I am of the opinion that since St. Christopher is, among other things, the patron saint of travelers, that the fellow in the song lost his St. Christopher after kissing "her' because he has found love right in front of him, and no longer needs to wander. Wandering is a lovely thing, and I have been known to take a good, solid wander from time to time. Some times in the hope of finding something, some times in the hopes of just getting lost. Being lost is, in many ways, both a terrifying, and wonderful experience. Terrifying in the sense that, you've no clue where in the universe you are, and no real idea how to get back to where you think you belong. If you belong anywhere at all.  Being lost is a lot harder to do in this day and age, but I highly recommend it. Get lost, but do it properly, by that I mean get really fucking lost, get lost at night, get lost at night in a rainstorm, and get lost at night, in a rainstorm, in a shitty part of town. You will, if you are sober enough to form the thought, start to think that being lost isn't exactly what you had planned in the first place, and you might even want your mother, or at least some other warm, welcoming companion.

However, being lost can be, if done correctly, a wonderful experience. Lost can be freedom. If done properly, lost is the lovely state of having no one to answer to, and nothing to apologize for. No one knows (or likely cares) where you are, and no one will come looking for you to add the weight of the world to your wandering shoulders. Lost is a very personal thing, and you can choose how lost you want to be. Do you want to be lost to the entire world, or just a portion of it? You can with the push of a few buttons give your location to whomever you chose, or at least a general idea of where you think you are. Your last known whereabouts given to the right person, can be a lovely starting point to a wonderful, shared, and exciting time.  Or, do you just want to be lost to a certain group of people? Your boss, your annoying as fuck co-workers, the bank, the student loan people, wives or husband (your own or other people's), crazy ex-girl or boy friends who stalk you even whilst saying they hate you, or that group of clowns that beat you up in grade school. There are an infinite number of groups or people that you prefer to think of you as lost.

The word planet comes from some impossible to pronounce or type Greek word that loosely translates as "wandering star." I like to think of all of us as wandering stars, and it is upon our wander through the universe of life that we encounter other wandering stars. Some we like, most we probably don't, some we have to try to avoid collision with, and some that we attempt to wander in the same direction as for as long as possible. It is your wander, it is your Saint Christopher, and hopefully (if you are very, very lucky) you get to lose your Saint Christopher after you kiss her (or him), and get to wander a lot less for a while (maybe a good long while, but nothing is written in stone). Enjoy that wander, but remember you are, in many terrifying and wonderful ways still lost.

P.S.   I was going to expound upon Ladislaw's theory, as told to me, about their favorite line, but decided to let them do it for themselves. After all, it is their theory, and they are quite capable of writing it themselves. Therefore, Ladislaw, when you climb out of whatever tart's bed you are warming for the nonce, and get sober enough to form what passes, for you, coherent thought, you are now welcome to write your reply. I am sure our vast readership awaits with bated (not wasted) breath.