Wednesday, March 28, 2012


You are to be congratulated, you are a LOT smarter than I thought you were, though I never really thought you were the swiftest horse in the stable so that is not saying a whole lot, but you surprised me. I am not a man who likes surprises, but you knew that, and I am sure that finding out you surprised me makes this little 'victory' of yours even sweeter. And it is sweet isn't it? However, maybe you are not that smart after all, maybe you are just clever. And clever isn't quite the same as smart. Clever is an attempt to convince people you are smart, or smarter than you are, and clever sometimes takes so very much effort. It is like the expression 'close enough for government work' meaning let us do this, and hope that no one inspects the finished product too terribly closely.

Though you've been passing those types of inspections all your life haven't you? Maybe you are more than clever after all, but I am not so sure. You do seem to know an awful lot of things about an awful lot of things, and you are keen to downplay any sort of above average intelligence. That is until someone or something makes you mad, then you trot out all that wicked cleverness/intelligence and point it at the offending target like some sort of intelligence cannon, intent upon blasting the offender back into the intelligence stone age. It is sometimes a sight to see, you carving some, what is to your eyes an offensive idiot, up like a xmas goose. You take a special pride in being a son of a bitch to them, and try your best to make them not 're-offend'. All without realizing, or maybe you do realize and just don't care, what a complete bastard it makes you appear to be. Who gave, or gives you the right to judge other people's intelligence? When you are 'passing' as it where.

And you are 'passing', you know. What is worse is you know that I know you are 'passing.' Which I am sure, and I hope, makes you furious. You see I am not a government inspector, and I don't get paid to approve things with just a passing glance. I might not be wicked smart like you are rumored to be, and I am not a deep thinker, but I can spot a fake a mile away, and well you are a fake.  You might be a well turned out fake, but a fake you are nonetheless. It isn't a war crime to be a fake, but I would imagine it is a very scary experience. Going out in public, or worse sitting at home in private wondering everyday if someone (other than your loyal follower me) is going to find out that you are a fake and denounce you.

Of course, I won't denounce you, I can't, not after your latest 'triumph.' Not after the latest trick you've pulled off, it might not have been your best, but it was certainly in the top five, maybe even top three. It is a trick that does make me stand back and whistle with admiration at how you managed to pull it off without anyone (except of course me, the sad clown) noticing all the smoke and mirrors you used to make it work. To denounce you after that act of deception would just be cruel, like drawing eyebrows on the Mona Lisa. It might not have been perfect, but to 'expose' it would be like ruining a work of art, and I love art even if I can't draw something. 

In fact, the more I admire your latest act of fooling the world, the more I think maybe you aren't really a fake after all, and the ironic part of it all is I don't think you realize it. You have been a fake for so long, and you hide so much of yourself behind a impregnable veil of self-loathing that I think you've begin to believe your own lie.  I truly think that you are intelligence, but aren't smart enough to figure that out for yourself, and I understand it is a bit of an paradox, but you are full of those aren't you?  Perhaps if you stopped trying so hard, and so well to convince other people you are smart, and just let them past that wall you've erected around yourself, you might find that you are actually as intelligent as a lot of people (you think you've fooled) think you are.

Hopefully, if you 'allow' that to happen you can stop wasting the talent that whatever being rules this big, empty universe has granted you to some good use. Instead of blasting people with your intelligence when they disturb the balance of your life, you will accept that your balance isn't the ultimate balance. That you, in spite of your overwhelming belief to the contrary, are not the center of the world. There are seven billion people on this planet, and I am fairly certain that somewhere, some of them could profit from your intelligence (other than you of course). If you turn that lighthouse of your intelligence on, instead of hiding it behind the fog of cleverness, then I would actually be proud to call you a friend, rather than just be proud of how you've fooled all of the friends you do possess.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Toy Solider

I have been accused, both lately, and multiple times in my past, of hating children. I guess my general misanthropy does extend to the children of the world, but I do not hate them more so than I dislike humankind in general. After all, to quote Henry Blake, I am a former child myself. Not that I can remember my childhood, except for a couple of events, one which I am about to relate, is mostly a blank. Either it was a rather boring time, or I have blacked it mostly out for some deep, dark reason that the wolf that raised me isn't sharing with me.

Truth is that I don't really understand children. They are a complete mystery to me, and why anyone wants to have them also is a bit of a puzzler. I guess they somehow, someway make our live complete?  I always thought that it was incumbent upon me to make my life 'complete' after all it is my life. No one else should have to complete it for me. That is perhaps the underlying problem with my lack of a desire to procreate.  Children are like a free radical, they go off in all sorts of unexpected directions (especially in crowded stores), and I suppose they take our lives in unexpected directions as well. I am, and never really have been a fan of the unexpected, or maybe (at this is very possible) I am just a coward. 

These little replicas of ourselves demand a lot of time, money, and attention, and I am quite sure I am not up to the task. I am the son of a bad father, and one of the few things I have an almost undying faith in is that I would be a second generation bad father. It is a fear that is quite debilitating, and makes me impossible to plan a future with, and makes me want to sail away for Singapore. Many a relationship has founded upon the rock of my childish (pun intended) fear of becoming a father as shitty as my own. I understand that by realizing what a crap father I had, I should be able to recognize the mistakes he made with me, and not repeat them, but as I said most of my childhood is a blank, and just because I realize his mistakes does not mean that I would not be condemned to repeat them. 

One part of my childhood that isn't a blank, that came back to me just recently, and quite unexpectedly is the following cautionary tale. I was about 9 years old, and had recently been given a toy solider. The details of who gave me this gift, and why it became my absolute favourite toy are a bit hazy. I just remember that I LOVED that fucking toy solider. I don't think it was anything that any other child would consider special. This was so long ago that it was just a simple toy solider, no bells or whistles. It did not come fully loaded with an RPG that could launch from a distance, nor did it have a jeep, or any other accessory. It was simple a toy soldier. As I said children are a mystery, it is a mystery to me to this day why I liked that damn toy soldier so much, but I did.

However, after several weeks of adoring this toy soldier, I (for reasons that escaped me then as they do now) took it out one fine day to the local 'creek' and upon calm reflection, or at least as much calm reflection a 9 year old can muster, threw it into the muddy waters of that creek.  It landed with a plop, and sank without a trace. It was a toy soldier, not a toy sailor, and I guess it just couldn't swim. As I stood there on that bridge being asked the 'why the hell did you just do that' question by my relatives, I realized that perhaps I had made a mistake, and I really did not want to be without my toy soldier. However, he was gone and lost forever, and the watery grave to which I had consigned him was not going to release him back to me.

When this little event of my childhood came flooding back to me the other day, I knew pretty immediately what my past was trying to tell my present. It is not a overly good story, and I have told it in my usual vague, poor way. However, it seems that even at the tender age of nine I was my own worst enemy, throwing away the best things in my life, either in a fit of pique, or in some twisted attempt to make myself less dependent upon other people or things.  Now here I am some 32 years later, and still throwing away the best things in my life. It is both incredibly stupid, and incredibly sad. More so stupid I (and I am sure others) would say. I suppose it just shows that I have learned so very little from the age of nine. Because when I throw something away, I generally do it in a way that does not allow for retrieval.

At nine that is childish, after all I was a child, children do that kind of stuff. At my current age it is still childish, and unforgivable. In the 32 intervening years since that day when my toy soldier took his last, fatal swim, I have learned so very much, and so very little all at the same time. There is no moral to this story, and I don't think that as sad as I am writing it, I am able to provide a pithy, snappy ending. I am sorry that so many things had to end the way of the toy soldier, and even more sad that at least one more thing will probably end the same way, but that is a story for another day. For today's purposes, let us just pause and give a moment's silence for the death of a brave man/toy soldier. He didn't deserve his fate, at the hands of a fickle 9 year old version of me, but he was brave until the end. Here is hoping that we all are.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Me and Rube Goldberg

A couple of days ago, in a fit of goofiness, I purchased, on the cheap, a Rube Goldberg machine. It is quite the machine, and has taken me the majority of two days to assemble. If you don't know what a Rube Goldberg machine is, there are many very informative websites that can explain it much better than I can. Mostly, these website use drawings, and I can not draw for shit. Never have been able to draw, never will be able to draw. Therefore, the explanation will have to be fully provided by someone else. I will just give you the highlights, this machine is designed to perform a simple task (it doesn't matter what that task is) in the most elaborate, complex way possible. Using as many convoluted steps that are barely connected, as possible.

In many ways, my life is a Rube Goldberg machine writ large. I like the complex, and sometimes I get a little carried away, and ahead of myself when I am having, what to me, is a brilliant idea. Therefore, I figured I needed to purchase a Goldberg machine in order to see if perhaps it would somehow make the arc of my life easier to ascertain.  It is an unwieldy bastard, and that is a trait we have in common, which I figured is a good sign. However, being unwieldy and complex might be a lot of fun from the outside, but from the inside it is a right pain in the ass, this I was, much to my dismay, to discover when I tried to assemble my wonderful new toy.

I am not the most practical of mechanical men, I understand the theory behind 'righty tighty, lefty loosey' but that is as far as I usually get. The theory is sound, my application of the theory generally dissolves into me trying to figure out what is left to the screw, as opposed as left to me, and then begins to take in the rotation of the Earth upon is axis. Which generally leads to a LOT of swearing, and me throwing the offending tool/item into/unto something or just away.  Why I thought that I would every possess the ability to put together a Rube Goldberg machine boggles the imagination. But, here I was trying my very best, which is to say failing miserably.

I thought I had it all sorted out, I even had the drawing to compare it too, and the finished product, and my assembly looked identical. Looked identical, but there was (and still is as I type this) some fundamental, hard to see, difference. Which lead to me doing two things, one,almost killing my fool self when I turned it on for the first time, and two almost burning down my entire apartment complex.  After a few moments of sheer terror at my near death experience, and a few more moments of swearing, I decided (why I don't know) to attempt to 'fix' the problem. Not, in hindsight, a particularly good idea.

I, it would appear, am not overly adept at fixing certain things. Rube Goldberg machines are one of those things that I cannot, for the life of me, seem to fix. I understand the theory, I am able to see the pattern, 'do the math' and have a solid grounding of what is supposed to happen. The theory behind the machine is not a great mystery, but I seem to possess a remarkable ability to put together things with an important part missing. It almost works, I can tell it wants to work, it is struggling to work like a fat man struggles to breath after eating too many 'fat man pancakes', but it just cannot get every part of itself going in the same direction at the same time. And that is pretty fucking critical to the working of anything, especially a Rube Goldberg machine.

I have spent quite some time, thought (and I like to believe I am a fairly solid thinker), and energy trying to fix this infernal machine. This device that I thought that, while being so very, very complex was going to make my life 'complete' as it were, has turned into an absolute stone the crows disaster. This was not mentioned in the manual at all, but the true tragic part of this tale is that Rube Goldberg machines are a 'buyer beware' kind of deal. They do not come with a money back guarantee, and they are very difficult to find replacement parts for, you know in case you, in a fit of blind rage, took a hammer to one of its core components.

Of course, after that blind rage wears off, and you look around at your newly wrecked Rube Goldberg machine, is when you start to feel remorse, and quite sad.  It was an once in a lifetime type of machine, and your dumb, arrogant, childish, fearful, ass took a hammer to its core, and shattered it into pieces that all the King's horses, and all the King's men cannot seem to put together again. Je suis desole.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Mountains of Mourne

"I know this will come as a shock to you, and I doubt you will believe me, but she was a gold digger." "We all knew it, but I'm the only one who has decided to tell you, that's what you get for getting me drunk on a random Tuesday."

Those (un)kind words, were uttered in my direction fairly recently, and have caused a bit of an upheaval in my life. They led me to thinking, which is almost always a dangerous thing, about their veracity.  It was not a pleasant thinking trip, and I would not recommend it to anyone else. It required a lot of thought, and a lot of thought is (mostly) beyond my overtaxed brain now days. But when I set out to determine whether or not I am a sap or not, I generally try to marshal my thoughts like a Panzer division, and have them roll over any doubts that may exist.

As I sat there in that bar alone (my companion had given up the ghost already),  drinking yet another (one too many) beers, I begin to seriously consider her comment. It was not said out of any malice towards the other person, after all she barely knew the person in question, and it was not said to make me feel like a fool, though it did manage to accomplish that feat quite nicely. I rarely either need any help, or particularly care to be made to either appear foolish, or to feel like a fool. Therefore, this comment left a rather bitter taste in my mouth, that, sadly to say, even the multiple beers I consumed after its pronouncement were unable to wash away.

The thinking that it lead to was, for the most part, unpleasant. I got to balancing the 'costs' of the relationship of which she was speaking of, and I begin to realize that perhaps she was correct.  I've never really considered such an idea before, and it was quite an eye opener when I began to do the math. Math, never one of my stronger suits, led me to the inevitable conclusion that perhaps people could see me as a bit of a gold mine. While still being a prole, and living in an absolute dump of an apartment, I do receive, what to many would be considered a fairly decent salary (of course, I earn every damn penny of it).

Of course that salary comes with a cost, that cost being the massive amounts of student loan/credit card debit that the classical education that I like to (wrongly) claim that I possess. I went to a LOT of school, and I owe a LOT of money to a lot of people. I don't really want for anything, but I am not going to retire to the south of France anytime soon, or probably ever. It is possible for a certain tier of people to consider me 'well off' though that adjective is not one I would use to describe me, well fed springs to mind. 

If I had any politics whatsoever I would probably be considered leaning slightly to the left, a long line of rabble rousting exists in my thinking, and I am not a fan of the 'right'.  Therefore, in several of my relationships there has been a (sometimes unspoken) rule that follows the 'from each according to their ability to pay, to each according to their need' type of arrangement. Mostly, it worked, and since I was the larger purse in the pot, I paid somewhat more than my share. Which, to me, is fair. I do not come from money, and subscribe to the theory that you can't take it with you, so spend it while you can (my heirs, if I ever produce any, will be sorely disappointed). 

That disappointment is, I figure, something similar to the one I experienced when I logically concluded that my companion of the evening was correct, I had been 'gold dug' as it were. I haven't the faintest idea as to why really, and I certainly felt an idiot for not seeing it sooner, but there it was in the number so hastily scribbled on numerous bar napkins. Proof that my idiocy knows no bounds, and has a fairly high price tag. Sadly for the digger, and I suppose my one saving grace is the fact that really, and truly I am not a gold mine in either a financial or personal way. I am a bit of a wreck, and I will (as mentioned before) more than likely die poor (and alone if certain people are to be believed). I suppose that makes me feel a little bit better to realize that even if I do sparkle a bit like real gold, what I really and truly am under that shiny surface is simply fool's gold. 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A tour

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well this saves me three thousand (give or take) words, explaining the uselessness of the world's worst xmas gift. It is, as I mentioned before, going on a tour. Next stop Miami.