Archive for February, 2011

Just Something I Sing To Pye Now And Then

The Romanian government, in its never-ending grub for money, first decided to tax the nation’s witches, fortune-tellers, and astrologers. Now it is contemplating fining them, too, whenever it is determined that their spells failed, or their prognostications did not move into the Real.

Romania is broke: the economy contracted by 7% in 2009, when the nation went into hock to the vampires of the International Monetary Fund for more than $27 billion. As I noted here, last autumn thousands of Romanians took to the streets to demand that the government rescind a 25 percent cut in all state employees’ salaries, and restore the “wage incentives” that constitute up to 60 percent of state workers’ incomes. In an attempt to placate these people, the government has vowed to funnel money collected from “tax evaders” into the depleted wage-incentive pool; creating more taxpayers—like witches, fortune-tellers, and astrologers—creates more tax-evaders.

The government’s “tax the spirit-finders” crusade followed new taxes earlier levied on fast food, the pittance old people receive in pensions, and even the allowances of children.

The Romanian witch tax, decreed in January, resulted in Outrage: multiple witches rained down curses on various and sundry government officials, employing such implements of destruction as dead dogs, the feces of cats, mandrake root, yeast, and black pepper. Jeebus knows what new assaults will besiege government toads if they actually follow through on this fining business.



Orwell Imposes Penance

I am writing as I promised, but can’t guarantee an even coherent letter, for a female downstairs is making the house uninhabitable by playing hymn-tunes on the piano, which, in combination with the rain outside & a dog yapping somewhere down the road, is rapidly qualifying me for the mental home.

I have spent a most dismal day, first in going to Church, then in reading the Sunday Times, which grows duller & duller, then in trying to write a poem which won’t go beyond the first stanza, then in reading through the rough draft of my novel, which depresses me horribly. I really don’t know which is the more stinking, the Sunday Times or the Observer. I go from one to the other like an invalid turning from side to side in bed & getting no comfort whichever way he turns. I thought the Observer would be a little less dull when Squire stopped infesting it, but they seem deliberately to seek out the dullest people they can get to review the dullest books. By the way, if you are by any chance wanting to impose a penance upon yourself, I should think you might try Hugh Walpole’s recent 800-page novel.

—George Orwell, letter to Brenda Salkeld, September 1932

Leis An T-Struth Bohr

To The Shores Of Tripoli

Muammar al-Gaddafi will not go gentle into that good night.

No one who knows anything about him, would ever have expected that he would.

Oriana Fallaci, who for years was the best journalist this world had, pretty much pronounced him, decades ago, a kook. During one of her several interviews with the Great Man, the Libyan potentate suddenly leapt to his feet and began maniacally shouting: “I am the gospel! I am the gospel! I am the gospel!”

“I had to quiet him down,” Fallaci told TV’s Charlie Rose, many years later, at around the time she was transforming into a crankified anti-Islamic jihadist.

Gaddafi is a sort of cross between a froot loop and a werewolf. He has been more or less allowed to roll like a loose cannon across the deck of this world for more than 40 years, solely because his nation is one of the most fertile petroleum-producing fields on the planet.

For decades the Soviets drank extremely heavily, and then went ahead and protected him. When there were no more Soviets, Gaddafi brooded darkly for a decade or so, then, post-9/11, bared to the Americans all the embarrassing details of his farcical “nuclear program,” which consisted of the functional equivalent of a brace of monkeys hooting over a block of uranium and some test tubes. His reward was forgiveness for his many real and perceived sins against the West—which in 1986 induced Ronald Racist Reagan to bomb unto death his four-year-old daughter—and the subsequent shoveling of vast sums of Western armaments and money his way in return for his oily crude.

When it came steam-engine time in North Africa, time for a lurch towards something approaching democracy—this time coming this month—it was inevitable that Gaddafi would be required to fall. But Gaddafi is not interested in falling. And so, he is killing his people.


“It Is Not A Significant Bullet”

Again the complaints that this site is too dour. This time the kvetching comes communicated in person, in ululations sounding from someone who is admittedly under serious assault by Mr. Ha-Ha. From embroilment in an endless ludicrous legal proceeding, like something out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, to an epidemic of medical miseries plaguing everyone this person knows or in some cases has even just seen, all is not well in his land. Something uplifting, comes his call. Something soothing. Something nice.

But, you know, what can I do? Life is dour. Take this morning, when I awoke to a flood. The young’un cat, who is flirting with developing into a hardened criminal, has taken to standing and lying and sitting and dancing and prancing on the fish tank, to determinedly fishing with his long monkey arms through the filter-enabling hole in the screen-top, to try to get at the plastic astral babies that bob around the sea serpent, the tank’s living and ever-growing occupant. This is a Non-Approved Activity, but the young’un cat doesn’t care. He does it anyway. And because of his wanton, criminal, repeated Non-Approved behavior, I discover this morning, the tank has begun to leak.

Of course the tank sits atop a bookshelf, and of course it has piddled water from all its new urethras onto some of my most precious books, including Herzog On Herzog, which is more or less like the Bible around here. That tome is now so soaked with water it weighs more than a car.

I am frantically fighting to save any survivors, inventing new curses in all languages, while the cat just sits there, with that amoral gaze they have: “What? I’m not to blame. Whatever it is, it’s your problem.”

And people wonder why God made opiates, and why all those with Good Sense seek them out and gobble great handfuls whenever they can.

Werner Herzog understands things like this. He was simply standing alongside a road in Los Angeles one day, giving an interview, when, For No Reason, he was shot in the stomach with an air rifle. Herzog being Herzog, he surveyed the damage, declared “it is not a significant bullet,” and proceeded with the interview.

When things occur that Bother Me, like this fish-tank book-massacre, I try to remember to ask myself: was I just shot in the stomach? If so, was it “a significant bullet”? If not, shouldn’t I just continue with the interview?

So that, this day, is what I will do. Meanwhile, and to meet the needs of those who wish things in this space to lighten up some, I offer Sparks, and their plea to “Lighten Up Morrissey.”

Can’t Trust That Clay

Sometimes your computer runs so criminally slow, for No Known Reason, that it forces the invention of new curse words. That is happening here now.

Is this, mayhaps, a Monday? Thought so.

When my daughter, the award-winning deviant, was young, I cursed in bursts of fake words approximating foreign languages, primarily German and Chinese, so as not to sear her ears. Now that she has grown and gone, I have reverted to cursing in English, and these days pretty much belong in the Navy.

So I am reading this blurt in Slate that claims that blogs, “once the alluring ingénue of the Internet scene,” have now degenerated into a sort of odoriferous mumbling bag lady, whom everybody avoids. Old people, when they’re not in the hospital, apparently still shuffle their walkers into blogs, in order “to share dieting stories, rant about politics, and celebrate their love of cats.” But people in their 20s now live wholly on Facebook, while those younger are beginning to complain that even Twitter “has too many words.” And so they flock to Tumblr, which is mostly pictures: “This is just images. Some people write some phrases or some quotes, but that’s it.”

I already knew this, whining about it during the course of a generalized jihad against the limitations of language here, posted just about this time last year. And really, who am I to complain, if that Alphabet Vs. The Goddess dude is right? And the written word really is just a patriarchal plot that has deformed all of our brains? And the Youngbloods truly are Saving Us, by abandoning readin’ and writin’, for pictures? As I observed in my anniversary post here, the wordpress stats show that a lot of folks sure do seem to ride into this place on the pictures. So, in the meantime, since nobody is reading anyway, why can’t I post to this blog complaints about how my computer is Making Life Difficult as I try to post to this blog?

So is Gumby a fit subject for a blog? Or he is more aptly approached on Facebook? While Twitting? Or Tumbling?

I connect Gumby with Mondays and the invention of new curse words prompted by computer constipation because of my brother. He was once joined to a lover who took a peculiar and actually quite violent dislike to various people, figments, and foods that she considered Totally Wrong. These included Mr. Magoo, Jimmy Stewart, and parsnips. The mere mention of Gumby sent her racing to the knife drawer, and if she had been the Khmer Rouge, anyone even remotely associated with a Gumby would have been sent to a Camp.

In honor of her obsession, my brother transformed the lyrics of the song “Monday, Monday” to “Gumby, Gumby.” His new and improved version contained such wisdompearls as:

gumby, gumby
can’t trust that clay

And so is explained, sort of, why I am posting a German-language version of “Monday, Monday” below.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled twits and tumbles.

Peasant Palate: So Heat Up The Soup John B

For a while there, out here in California, it seemed as if winter had given up and gone away. Early February saw a ridiculous run of riotously warm weather, with temperatures in the 70s, encouraging everybody—animal, vegetable, mineral—to crawl cautiously out of their holes.

Then winter snickered, and came swaggering back. And now it’s all rain, snow, sleet, hail, ice, biting bone-chilling gales. All day, every day.

Which means soup. Preparing soup, cooking soup, eating soup. Gazing glumly through the steam rising from soup, gazing glumly at the rain, snow, sleet, hail, ice, biting bone-chilling gales.

After 40 or 50 straight bowls of the thing, I burned out earlier this season on my Moon-Eye Jook. I then tarried briefly with hot-and-sour soup. But I have since abandoned Asia for the Mediterranean, cleaving to soups centering around cheese. I think I may have mentioned previously that here in my dotage I am increasingly retreating to the three essential food groups: heat, meat, cheese. Of late, at least in soups, I am hewing to the latter. Te gusta sopa? Then journey cross the “furthur.”


When I Worked

February 2011
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