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


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.