Thursday, March 31, 2011

Beware of Bears

The poor, obstinate fish that is about to meet his 'maker' is a salmon. Someone thinks that salmon would make a good blog topic, and so here I am trying my best to make salmon interesting. I do consider the salmon a particulary stubborn fish. They swim upstream to return to the pool of their birth, and swim alone. Unlike the tuna, salmon are not caught in giant nets while swimming in schools like a bunch of plebs. The tuna isn't that hard to catch, get yourself a good boat, some rubber boots, a big ass net, and a sonar, and boom! There you are a tuna fisherman. Well, there might be a bit more to it, but you get the general idea.

Salmon spawn in freshwater, live most of their lives in seawater, then return home (upstream) to spawn, and die. That is if they manage to make it past those tricky sons of bitches known as bears. Bears just have to sit there in a nice pool of cool water, mouth agape, and wait for food to jump in their general direction. I am sure it isn't that easy for the bear, and they probably would tear me from limb to limb for thinking so, but still it looks like the predator wins this round. 

Perhaps there are more clever enemies of salmon out there in the deep, blue sea that make your average bear seem small in comparsion, I don't know, I don't fish. Never have fished, and never will fish. In this analogy I am on the side of the salmon. Swimming upstream, just trying to get a little loving, have a couple thousand of small fry, and die a happy death.  Not that complicated, and not that much to ask for, but it sure seems to be a lot more difficult that you would think. It is ok to be stubborn, and swim against the stream/tide (it is a bit like walking against the karma wheel), but at some point the game is no longer worth the candle.

And you know this, as a fish, that those stinking, tricky, bears are there waiting for your tasty ass to make one bad leap, and become their dinner, but you can't help what/who you are. You can't (successfully at least) fight against what is fundamentally your nature (or fight nature for that matter, you won't win).  But that is the point, you won't win, the bear will eventually win, that what bears do, win. It might take them a couple of years but they win cause thier bears, and you, well you are just a stubborn, dumb fucking salmon.


The still photo above is from the movie The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman. It is a lovely movie, and even though it wasn’t made in this century, I still highly recommend you watching it. The reason for this post (other than the topic that was posed to me as a challenge) is chess. It is a wonder game, that can be used as all sorts of analogies, and while very complex has rules that can be understood fairly quickly if you pay attention. Chess is a bit like life, the rules are fairly simple, but it is the interaction of difference pieces, within those rules that have a tendency to make things a bit complex. The use of chess in The Seventh Seal drives the plot, and without a little knowledge of the plot of the movie, the plot of this post is wasted. But, since the title of the blog is all about my wasted breath, I figure one more possibly wasted post wouldn’t hurt.

The fellow on the right is Antionus Block (played quite well by Max von Sydow), and he is about the engage the lovely gentleman on the left (i.e. Death) in a chess match for his life. Clearly, the result is already decided Block is just buying time to try to get home from his travels aboard (he had been on Crusade) to see his wife and child before the endgame. Throughout the film Death cheats, posing as a priest to take Block’s confession, during which Block confesses his chess strategy to beat Death. Death is a tricky bastard and only reveals his true self after Block has given away his strategy. Near the end Block intentionally knocks over the pieces hoping to put off his fate, and save a family of young friends from Death. Claiming he does not remember where the pieces where positioned, Block hopes to avoid being mated. Death replies that he remembers where the pieces were, and begins to reconstruct the game. However, and this is where there is some disagreement amongst film historians, there is a theory that Death cheats with his reconstruction. Either he cheats, or has a remarkable memory for a chess board, regardless of which, Block is mated on the next move, and is sent off to “Dance with Death.”

Clearly, this is what we are all doing everyday, playing chess with Death. Maybe not quite as obviously as our hero Block, but regardless the pieces have been chosen, and it is our move. The wisdom of that move requires a lot of thought, and people have been playing chess, and trying to cheat death for a LONG time. Ever heard of Paul Morphy, Jose Raul Capablanca, or Emanuel Lasker? They were all Grandmasters of chess, guys who are whizs at the massive number of combinations on a chess board, but each of them ended the same way, dead. Remember all the stories of people surviving crashes, etc that should have killed them? We say they “cheated death.” Well remember Death cheats back, so before you use the French-Indian defense or the English opening think very carefully, your next move might end in mate.

Monday, March 28, 2011


This is a post for you, about you, and because of you. You know who you are, and you know what you do to me. You are the sole reason that I eschewed another night of drinking, so I could sit down in this coffin I call my apartment, and write this post for/to/about you. I hope that makes you happy, and I hope it makes you sad. I doubt it will make you either, because you don't read this blog anymore, or at least I don't think you do. You wouldn't tell me if you did, and I certainly learned long ago not to ask you questions I don't already know the answer to. 

You enjoyed giving me answers I wasn't expecting, and I loved and hated you for it. You know I don't like surprises, so you would go out of your way to surprise me as often as possible. It drove me mad, but I suspect that was the point.  I wanted to know everything about you, and I found out quite a lot, but not all. You never told anyone the whole story, no you preferred to share a bit of your stories with several of us, enjoying being the only one who knew all the details of the plot. And your life, even when seen from a distance, had several plots. You were the only one who knew the whole plot, and I don't think that was very fair to the rest of us.

Not that you give, or ever gave, a shit about being fair. You were one of the most unfair people I ever met.  Yet you could do the most complicated favour for people, think nothing of it, and ask nothing in return.  How you managed to be both unfair and generous is a mystery that I will never solve. In fact, you are a mystery I will never solve, not for lack of trying mind you, but for a fundamental lack of intelligence. You are much smarter than I ever will be, or aspire to be for that matter. Your kind of intelligence must be frightening to possess. I wouldn't know because I am not that smart, and you did a fairly good job of hiding (for the most part) how super-intelligent you really are. 

It was that intelligence that is one of your most endearing qualities, and that makes you an insufferable asshole.  Not that you care or cared what I, or anyone else thinks of you. You are your own judge and jury, and I am just beginning to realize how sweet that is. It is the world's revenge upon you. The world you give a shit less about, gets to sit back and watch you attempt to live up to your own expectations, knowing full well you will never be able to.  That gives me great joy, and I hope you know that.  I could never, ever in my wildest, spite-filled moments damage you as much as you have damaged yourself.  I am, when I am in a good mood, sorry for that, but I also think you deserve all the bad things you do to yourself. 

You still make me furious, sad, and extremely happy on any given day that I have the pleasure/misfortune to spend with you.  I still spend time with you, even if it is only in my head, and I recall the awful things you would say to me, about me, and in front of me with amazing clarity.  For that I should thank you, and I should tell you to burn in hell, but I know that I won't do either. It wouldn't do any good even if I tried. Your opinion of me mattered so much that it hurt, and yet I found myself jealous of you in the strangest of ways. When you weren't around I wondered what you were doing, but sometimes when you were around, I wanted you to be on the moon as far away from me as you could get.  I sometimes think of you as carrot cake, an abomination that should not exist in nature, and yet here you are, a living, breathing, insult to that idea. 

I wonder why we became, how we remain, and why we will always be 'friends.' To give you up would cause me either the greatest pain in my life or would cause be to suddenly becomes the happiest rodeo clown this side of the Mississippi. However, I guess I will never know, because I have no intention of giving you up, and I fairly certain that you, even though you won't admit it, like having me around. Who doesn't like a slave/foil/partner in crime to have around for festive occasions? And so, here we are in this crazy life together, for we are together even if not physically, and we will remain that way. Because we are both to stubborn or too stupid, I am not sure which, to realize that we probably aren't that good for each other. For in spite of your solitary nature, I think you need someone like me around. Someone who spends all this time thinking about you enough to write this epic length blog post about/to you, even though I know you will never read it. I think I hate you. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Have you ever been convinced that you are missing something? Something so simple that you have the suspicion that if a passing 4 year old child were to look at your situation, they could solve it with about three words. And the problem, the awful feeling in the pit of your stomach is that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that somewhere at some time  you've known what it is you are missing, and just can't put it together. It might be something as simple as plugging in a cord into the right slot, or remembering someones favourite food, but you KNOW it is important.

So important, in fact, that you've been racking your tiny, little brain for a solution for almost a week, and you, to your despair, realize that instead of getting closer to a solution, you are, in fact, losing ground. You are getting so confused by over-thinking the problem, that the problem, once so very, very simple, has taken on a life of its own. It is now like the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Sitting there in the corner waiting for you to give it attention, because it is not in a mood to go away anytime soon. And as problems go, it isn't something vague that only someone like Thomas Aquinas would be required to solve, but something as plain as the nose on your face. Remember that 4 year old? It hasn't gotten so bad that you are actively trying to find someone with a 4 year old child so that you can bounce the problem off of the child, and hope that 'from the mouths of babe' wisdom will flow.

The other side to this problem is that your mind, who people think is fairly sharp, is as empty as the ocean pictured above. If your  mind could be projected onto a computer or TV screen that is the picture that would be on screen, coupled with the lapping of the waves as the only sound. Clearly mental activity has ceased, and you can't seem to kick start it do matter how hard you try. You sit down with the intention of 'getting your shit' together, and solving this problem that has so vexed you, and suddenly something shiny distracts you, and you are suddenly gazing into the middle distance, slack jawed, and mouth agape like the village idiot.  And, you don't think you're the village idiot, but the inability to solve (or in many ways even spot) this problem has shaken your faith in your intelligence.

It is that intelligence that you've prided yourself on through all of the other problems you have faced in your life. That intelligence that people remark upon as being one of your greatest assets. Since you are a fairly rotten person otherwise, it is that intelligence that people keep you around for. And here it is abandoning you like a rat leaving a sinking ship. It has disappeared like a puff of smoke on a windy day, and you are left confused as to when, or if, it will return. All you know, as you sit there in your ocean of emptiness is that you aren't really a strong swimmer.

Monday, March 07, 2011


You see us, a group of anywhere from 3-8 people with a fair mixture of males and females, out at a bar, and you see a group of 'friends.' I mean, after all, we seem to be having a fairly jovial time of it, and who goes out to have those type of times if not with friends? Look closely at the group, and ponder really hard on each individual. Because a group is made up of individuals, and is very rarely larger than the sum of its parts. Which one in the group is 'the leader?' Is there a leader? There might not be a clear leader, but there will surely be the ones recognized as followers. The alpha dog may just be the subtle leader type that doesn't like to show off their leadership ability, and therefore it might be hard to spot them.

But, take a step back and listen to (without being too nosy) what the members of this group are saying, and if you're a clever fellow you might even want to listen to what they are NOT saying. A much harder task, but if you're good at it you can learn a lot.  You might even learn a few things that the majority of the people don't even know.  That is of course, if you are good, and you give a shit enough to pay attention. Which are two big hurdles to clear, but you are good right? And, you don't have anywhere else to be or you wouldn't be getting piss drunk on a Monday night in a bar right?

You might even learn a life's lesson, because life lessons are tricky like that.  They show up when you least expect them, and sometime smash you over the head when you are least expecting it. As you focus on this band of brothers what do you see? The one that talks to loud? The one that laughs too much? The tall one, the short one, the fat one, or the skinny one?  Maybe there isn't a each one of those types, or maybe one of them is more than one type. You don't know, and you don't really care because you are a stranger to them. Other that the tall one that bumps into things they aren't really a remarkable group, but you are stranded in this joint with them, so you might as well try out some of your powers of observation. 

And you have those types of powers, powers of observation that would make Sherlock Holmes proud, and you quickly focus on the one just to the left of the centre. The one who seems to be doing their fair share of talking, but one that (despite his jolly appearance) makes you just a bit nervous. This person seems to be 'one of the group,' but you know better. You've seen this type before, in fact he reminds you of someone you used to know. You've seen this before, this person is the friendless one, the one that is, ever so slightly, out of focus.  Sure they are here surrounded by people in a bar, and these other people seem to know this person, and they are talking to this person like friends talk to each other. They even seem to be sharing the occasional joke, and have even had a couple of shots together like friends.

But, and there is always a but, you know better. You've spotted the friendless one, the one you know is going to one day be in a bar, like this one, alone and bitter. The one who is going to be the person at the bar, talking to know one while getting blotto, and making other people wonder why they are there alone all the time. The one who, with any doubt in your mind, has only a small clue as to the bleakness of their future. The one, that even though you know is a total asshole, makes you want to go up to them and say some words of consolation or warning, in the vain hope that you can provide them a life line. It won't work, you know this from experience, and you know you won't try, because it really isn't any of your business.  This poor fool has to learn, like most fools, the hard way. Even if you told them, they would probably just tell you to 'fuck off and die.' Which would be fair enough, after all, you don't know this person, and this person doesn't know you. Why should they listen to some total stranger attempt to give them some 'insight' into their future?

And, besides you aren't a charity. Why would you give some total asshole advice on how they are going to end up alone, and bitter one day if they don't change their ways. Let them sort that out if they have the brains, and if they don't well then too bad for them. They will get what they deserve (as most people usually do), and will have to deal with the consequences of their actions. In the zero sum game that is life, it is just exactly what should happen to them, and you are not going to 'save the world' one asshole at a time. Mainly though the reason you don't attempt to rescue this person is because five, ten, or fifteen years ago, no one bothered to try to save you, which is why you are drinking alone in the first place, and misery loves company.