Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Program

We are the Program. We have hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly episodes, and not all of them are enjoyable to watch. Some are sad, some are funny, some are tragic, and some, well some are just plain awful. We don't try to entertain, but if we do that is an added bonus. There is a set number of us, but sometimes the actors change, however the character remains the same. We are all, whether we like it or not, interconnected, and we rely on each other quite a lot. We have a limited amount of resources, and a varied degree of intellect, but we are doing our best. Well, at least that what we like to think. We like to think we are doing our best, but sometimes our best just isn't either our best, or good enough.

When our best isn't our best is where the Program loses focus (much like this blog post will soon), and an unfocused Program is a dangerous Program. We need direction, some of crave direction, but some of us don't take direction well. We are a team, but it is hard to notice it unless you pay strict attention, and you are paying strict attention aren't you? Most of the time if you anger one of us, you anger us all, and sometimes our (collective) anger is awful to behold. The Program (despite several attempts to make us) does not play nice. We don't have to, we are the Program. We aren't nice, and we don't really care too much if you are nice to us. Just be aware we have long memories, memories that go back into the mists of time, when the buffalo were still plenty upon the Plains, and we do not have to forgive, because we certainly won't forget.

The Program is defined by its members, and its members are sometimes defined by the Program. It is all very circular, and sometimes quite confusing, but the Program remains immutable. It was here before you, me, or your dear old gran, and will be here after you, me, and your lovely grandchildren have become food for worms. It is just that simple, the Program will never, ever, be canceled. Poor ratings, or lack of commercial sponsorship will not stop the Program. It might retool, it might come under new direction, but it will not stop. Sometimes the Programs takes you, grinds you up into small, bloody, bits that even your mother would have trouble recognizing, and spits you out. You will not be mourned, or remembered by the Program.

Do not attempt to understand the Program, for the Program does not even understand itself. You would be better off attempting to bail the ocean out with a spoon. The Program is ever math, science, historical, and religious problem that has no solution all rolled up into one tight, little bundle. The Program sometimes resembles a Monad, and there is a post on this blog that explains Monads, feel free to it up, and hopefully you will get the idea. If not, well, the Program doesn't care. The Program doesn't care about you, or me or about anyone in particular, and it certainly doesn't care what you think about it. It doesn't have to, it's the Program. What are you in comparison? To the Program, nothing. Once you sort that bit of good news out, and it will take some sorting, you might get a modicum of understanding of or from the Program. Until you do, the Program will roll over you like Patton's Third Army rolled into Germany. Move if you can, but be prepared to be flattened if you don't move quickly enough.

The Program has its lighter moments, but to get to see THOSE episodes you must be invited. It is an invitation only event when the Program 'lets its hair down', and if you are lucky enough to see it, you will enjoy it. The Program will make sure of that, all you need to do is to sit back, and enjoy the ride. That is if you are lucky enough to see it, the Program does not issue invitations lightly, and you would do well not to ignore that invitation. The Program can, and does on occasion hold a grudge. Much like an Albanian cherishes a blood feud, the Program loves holding a good grudge. Grudges are one thing the Program does very well. The Program has its moments of internecine violence, and sometimes those can be quite ugly, but remember this it will always present an united front to any outsiders, even if it is been racked unto death by inner turmoil.

Do not try to take advantage of the Program, and the Program will not take advantage of you. The Program tries, very hard, to be fair, but be warned fair is almost always a relative term. Fair to you is not always going to be fair to the Program, and the Program knows that, and all sorts of other things that you would be appalled that it knows. The Program possess a great deal of collective knowledge, and is also the home of some very serious individual brilliance, it is a dangerous combination. The Program is not unbeatable, or infallible, but it does not claim to be, it does not have to be, it is the Program. Try it, play it, and maybe even beat it, the Program will be there bright and early tomorrow waiting for a rematch, will you?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


I know you, I know you almost as well as you know yourself. I know your habits, you made the mistake of telling me your hopes and dreams, and I have them locked away in my mind, saving them for a 'rainy day.' I know your favourite colour, I know your favourite food. I know that you don't like green peppers, and that you think sushi is disgusting. I know where you've 'buried the bodies,' and I know what you're afraid of. I know the songs that you listen to the most on itunes, and the songs that make you cry. I even turned you on to a few of those songs. I know where you bank, where you buy your shoes, and where you buy your fruit. I know you like honey crisp apples, and not granny smith apples. I know your bra size, your shoe size, and your dress size. I know what length of pants you wear, and what brand of soap you use. I know that you're right handed, and in what country your grandparents where born. I know all of this, and I haven't had to google you, hire a private investigator, or go out of my way to collect any of this information.

I know what languages you speak, and that you are bad at math. I know your mother's maiden name, and if I tried hard enough (but I won't because its creepy) I could probably break your password(s). I know your natural hair colour (even if you don't), and I know the author you read the most, and the one you want to be like (and I know they aren't the same writer). I know where you keep the bottle of vodka that you sometimes need a nip of 'just to get through the day.' I know your birthday, your anniversary (of a lot of things), and the name of the first boy, and girl you kissed. I know what kind of car you drive, and I know how many times you've had surgery. I could probably continue for another twenty pages, but I think you get the point.

I know all of these things, because you've told them to me. Each and every one of these little nuggets you gave to me like an oyster opening wide for the pearl diver that is intent upon removing its treasure. And they are treasures, you know, each of these little tidbits that I have gleaned from you, about you are priceless bit of information. Information that helps me 'know' you, know how you are, how you were, and how you are going to be. That's right, I can predict you, if you were a racehorse, and I could bet on you, I would never have to work again. I can predict your behaviour with amazing clarity, regularity, and accuracy. I say this only because it is true, I am not bragging nor am I demeaning you in any way. I think it is fantastic that I know what you are going to say before you say it, and not for the world would I want you to hold back from saying it.

In the course of our time together you've told me all of these things, and more. While we were inhabiting smoky bars, or walking down crowded city streets, while we were passing the time on a subway ride in Tirana, while boarding a plane in Rome, as we were being mugged in Budapest, or when we were lost in Paris. During all of these times, and more, your hopes, dreams, and fears poured out of you like water out of a punctured gallon jug, and all the while I was there taking them all in, and making a mental checklist that I hoped I would never have to use against you.

I also know you hate suspense, and surprises, and you like to be 'the smartest person in the room.' I know you are way too smart for your own good, and more clever than you let on. I know you think that there is a 'twist in this tale,' and that at some point the tone of this epic is going to change for the worse. I know you can't stand not knowing things, and it is one of your most endearing qualities (up to a certain point). However, I know you, I know you too well, and I know that what will make you the maddest (and therefore, make me the happiest) is letting you ponder all of these things I know about you, and as you lie there in your bed alone, if you are alone, wonder what I am going to do with all of this awful, awful knowledge. For rest assured, I am sitting somewhere, somewhere we both know, somewhere far, far away from you, or any of your numerous minions that are bent upon my destruction. Some safe place from where I can, with impunity, tell you all of these things I know.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


The creature above, who appears to be giving the camera his version of 'the finger, is a three toed sloth. I suppose that might just be his/her version of the finger, if you only have three fingers/toes who's to say what is the proper way to express your feeling about having your picture taken by some meddlesome jackass with a camera.

Truth is, I don't like having my picture taken either, which is one of the two things I share with the above animal. The second thing is 'sloth' the animal above, for good or bad, has become a synonym for being a lazy bastard. I am not too familiar with the habits of the fellow above, he might be industrious but just slow. However, I am not industrious, nor slow, I am just plain lazy. Which, in many ways, is a terrible, terrible shame. In my previous post, I expressed my amazement that Krudy was about to churn out 17 pages a day of wonderful writing. In the week or so since I wrote that post, I have been thinking about that amazement, and have come to the conclusion that the number is not as amazing as I first believed.

The quantity is still pretty high, and the quality remains miles ahead of anything I could ever put on paper, but I figure that Krudy had a couple of very important advantages, (besides massive amounts of actual talent, which I do not possess). One of those, and perhaps the most important of them, was motivation. Krudy lived by his pen (for the most part at least, sometimes he lived by gambling, and off of admiring women), I live by having an actual job/career which requires my physical presence in my cube, a certain number of hours a week. Those hours either passed by actually doing work, or whiled away wishing I was somewhere, anywhere, else in the world, have a tendency to cut into my writing time.

This previous shackle on my time, also prevents me from living the dissolute live style that Krudy lived. I am doing my dead level best to live the libertine life, but my alarm jolts me awake at 6 a.m. every weekday. That has a chilling effect on my desire to stay out until dawn, drinking myself stupid, and telling my companions 'to come back, and talk some more.' Most of my companions are also gainfully employed, and would not be out drinking until dawn if I paid them, and that is something I am not quite prepared to do. I don't know how much of his output Krudy churned out during those long nights abusing his body with booze, but I suspect that even if he wasn't physically writing down his brilliant words, he was thinking them. I also suspect, that a great deal of his 'material' was found in whichever den of iniquity he was inhabiting.

The relatively few hours I spend in my own dens of iniquity do provide me with a great deal of material as well, though I have yet to learn the 'write this shit down before you get to drunk to remember rule'. There have been any number of blog posts, and 'characters' that have flitted through my life, and my imagination that have been lost to time because of my lack of ambition. Not that I would be able to do them justice, but at least the material would contribute to the 17 page quota that I should be able to meet. Even though I am forced by my economic obligations, and my lack of courage to just throw it all over, run off to Europe, and write or starve, this does not fully exonerate my lack of output.

The second advantage Krudy possess over me is actually more of a disadvantage to me as opposed to an advantage to him. Krudy did not have ESPN, FOX Soccer Channel, Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of other external time wasters to distract him from his main task of writing. I am sure that he would have dealt with these distractions better than I do, but the fact that they are they is a huge problem for me. Clearly, being a lazy bastard, I can plop my ass down on my couch for hours, and watch American football, futbol, or women's curling without having a single thought worth writing down in my head. It is something that I despair of, but have been unable to control for quite some time.

Common sense tells me I should take the leap, cut the cable, and then just see if I can manage to increase my 'output'. Reality tells me that would last a week before I went crazy from boredom, or just starting spending even more time at a pub that has a Television. This advantage/disadvantage is entirely a product of my time, but it is something that I should be able to overcome. If, as I mentioned before, I wasn't such a lazy bastard. Since I am a lazy bastard, and I also don't take my writing particularly seriously, I am unable to break out of this vicious circle, and 'create' a blog post in a very sporadic fashion. These two issues aren't solely responsible for my lack of output, there is the argument to be made (and it is quite valid) that since I have not spoken aloud to another human being in two whole days, I should have loads, and loads of time on my hands in which to write something down. It is a very valid argument, and one which I have no valid rebuttal except to reiterate that I am a lazy, lazy bastard.

I am not as lucky, or as good a gambler as he was, nor do I have an army of admiring ladies to offer me financial support (amongst other things), but that is no excuse for being a sloth, and I am sure Krudy had his own set of outside distractions that may have lowered his production. I also suspect that, if he were alive, he would tell me to 'quit fucking whining, and get busy writing, or just give it up altogether.' Of course, he would tell me that in Hungarian, and I would probably look at him like he was as mad as a March hare, but in any language the point would be made. The good news is, if there is any good news to be found here, is that I have somehow managed to have turned being lazy into quite a lengthy blog post. I am not sure, since I am an American, but I am willing to believe that this fits the definition of irony.

Monday, November 01, 2010


I know, I know, this looks like some hero post part deux, and in some ways it is. The fellow above is one Gyula Krudy, and he is one of the best writers I have EVER read in my life. If you only read one (more) book this year, make it 'Sunflower' by Krudy. It is good enough to make you want want to weep. It is one of his few works that have been translated from the original Hungarian to English, and it worth whatever amount you pay for it. He writes so well that I have considered learning Hungarian just so I could read more of his works. He is quite simply that good, and you won't regret reading him.

If you do regret reading 'Sunflower' then I fear for the state of your soul, providing you have a soul. The book is so good that it doesn't even really have a plot (Krudy wasn't big on plots), and you don't even care. The writing, the characters, and the stories are so good that a lack of an overall plot is hardly noticed at all. Krudy was remarkable, he wrote his first articles for a local newspaper at the age of 16! 16, and published try that on for size. His father wasn't impressed, and attempted to get young Krudy to get some schooling, and learn a trade. That kind of life didn't appeal to him overmuch, so he ran off to Budapest to become a poet.

He didn't become a poet in the strictest sense of the word, but some of his sentences are mind numbingly good. I lack the words to explain to you how good he is, and I can only hope you find out for yourself. It might help to know a few little tidbits about him before you read him, those I can provide because they require very little imagination or writing skill. Feel free to Google him if you wish, because my few tidbits are just that, tidbits, and will not do him justice.

First thing is that he was a drunk, a true drinker's drinker. A man who drank country wine out of a carafe, but a man that few ever saw drunk. He was a nocturnal animal, and vice ridden. His biggest three were wine, woman, and gambling. He loved cards and horses, and with it came to his vices he always chose outsiders. In this way, we are very much alike, I love a good long shot at the track, and I love a good flake in the world of women. I wish I would have inherited 1/10th of his talent instead of 100% of his vices, but I guess the fates were against me. He was the guy who would keep your drunk ass out to dawn, and when you tried to sneak off, he would stop you and tell you to 'come back and talk some more.' And you would because he was Krudy, and you didn't deny him that type of request. He was quite the ladies man, and had a wife and children which he treated shamefully. I doubt he would be overly popular in today's PC world, but this was Budapest in the early 2oth century, and he wasn't overly criticized for his behaviour.

He would tell the numerous ladies in his life that 'he needed to be alone.' That he 'needed solitude' in order to conjure up the wonderful stories that were lying just under the conscious part of his mind. Perhaps the drink, and the solitude gave birth to all those lovely stories he wrote. The admiration I have for his talent is immense, and is made all the greater by the fact that he set himself a quota of 17 pages a DAY! He would write his 17 pages in whatever pub he was drinking on credit, get a cab to the nearest newspaper that would buy them, turn them in to the editor (without corrections) to be published, get his stipend for the pages, and go back to the pub. If only I could do that, just the once.

Times sort of passed him by, but he didn't quit writing, nor did he quit drinking or playing the ponies. He came to a bit of a sad end, one that would be worthy of writing a story about. Which a fellow author (Sandor Marai) did, and published it as a book (which has yet to be translated into English), all he left besides some of the greatest literature in the world, was some shabby clothes, an incomplete pack of cards, some books, and some racing forms that were years out of date. It was a 'good death', it was our kind of death.