Friday, September 4, 2015
Michelangelo's St. Matthew.
He could have done better if he didn't have a patron.
You can see the story emerging, and until it is finished, it still looks great.
One thing I've learned about writing is to never hold back. If I feel a new story appearing, I'll focus on that for awhile. Then like a bear on a weekly circuit through neighborhood garbage cans, or Bobby Fischer playing dozens of chess games at a time, I'll move on to other stories already started.
I see beauty in unfinished stories. Some stories I specifically like left unfinished. I've had stories that sat beautifully unfinished for years which I eventually did finish and still found beautiful.
You'll probably be shocked--shocked, I say--to find I have almost no respect for the publishing business. But who are we kidding? In reality, I don't have any respect for the publishing business, and the reason for that is because it's bullshit. If the functionaries in the way had any goddam clue, they'd be doing it themselves. Almost everything that's ever been published is for shit, in fact. It ain't got that verve, it's not saying anything, the sentences are weak. Most of the crap pushed by the non-writer functionaries reads like Wal-Mart t-shirts to me. I don't ever sit around pining to be part of that. Because I never try to fit a preexisting market, my work is original, and fulfilling even unfinished.
Would that everyone had this freedom. Certainly the world would be a far better place if more people had the guts to create instead of standing hat in hand at some publishing Ellis Island packed with would-be writers screaming in squalor.
But no. It's a shitty world.
As the writer, it's my job to bury the shit of the world under the sheer incalculable tonnage of my stories, finished and unfinished. Those who wish to watch this process are encouraged to get some popcorn, perhaps a cold beverage, the better to enjoy the show. I pay my bills by the strength of my iron back. They'll have to pry my back from my cold dead fingers before I'll ever give it up, and that'll never happen because I'm too strong, too quick. Well, not always so quick at finishing stories, but that's because I'm so busy.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The senator had black eyes.
They were not figuratively black, as sometimes happens with misdeed. Nor were they the result of blows to the face. The eyes of Lucius Togagot were black, solid black, and had been since birth.
A nimble, lively child, Togagot delighted in tales of the Roman emperors, deeds of disregard done unto the bleating populace. "When I am a man," young Togagot said, great black eyes staring deep into space, "I will do as Nero did, and properly greet the people I meet by night."
His mother, a servant, died in childbirth. Years after, attendants present averred the child had in fact, by way of emergence, chewed through the mother's womb.
A more competitive kid no one ever saw. Lucius Togagot delighted in defeating children and adults alike in all manner of games. And in the rare event that he did not win, woe unto the victor. "My boy Lucius is destined for public service," his father brightly beamed.
For his thirteenth birthday Lucius received several street people under the pretense of offering shelter and watched enraptured while they were crucified. Using a bullwhip that had once belonged to Heinrich Himmler, his practiced diligence eventually left two of the bodies almost completely decapitated.
Lucius's life was carefully planned. Enrolled in the finest schools, he received the finest grades without ever once attending class, cracking a book, or even taking a test. His was a life too big to fail, failure being the only thing a Togagot could not easily afford.
The better to facilitate his career, certain advisers decided the best course for Lucius to take would be for him to wear dark wraparound glasses and repeatedly publicly affirm that he would never let his blindness slow him down in the service of his nation.
The family had old money ties, diversely spread, of course, leaning heavily into mining. Having helped fund every war since the dawn of the 19th Century, the Togagot family--originally pronounced with a silent "t"--owned majority stock in munitions factories, genetically-engineered food, and worldwide weather modification systems. They controlled the oil and the prisons, they owned patents on cancer-causing additives, they owned the software company that designed the voting booths for all of the major elections, They owned most of the television stations, more building in more cities than any of them knew.
After he was made senator, Lucius Togagot--adoringly called The Luscious One and Lucky Lu by all of the major media--having received information from beings which instruct and aid, cloaked himself in the guise of a commoner and went about among his subjects, ever mindful of his lifelong vow to emulate Nero.
Everywhere he looked, peasants, serfs, the miserable poor, inhuman wretches nauseating in their poor peasant misery. Not one worth a even so much as a dime. Lucius watched the creatures for as long as he was able. When he found one alone by itself in an alley, he moved in softly as close as he dared, then tore off his glasses as he rushed toward the frightened waste with an upraised knife and cried as he stabbed, "I am killing you! I am your senator, scum! trash! scum! I am your king and I killed you, I killed you!..."
Monday, August 31, 2015
It was how he said he wanted to be remembered, and typically understated.
When asked what artists he studied, Akira Kurosawa replied, “I study John Ford.”
Steven Spielberg says that before he makes a movie, he has to watch Ford’s 1956 classic Western The Searchers for inspiration.
In the documentary The American West of John Ford (1971), John Wayne says, “He doesn’t just point the camera, he paints a picture with it.”
The pictures he painted were often at odds with history. “Jack used history,” says Henry Fonda. “He didn’t feel he was married to it.”
A six-time Academy Award winner, Ford never won an Oscar for a Western. He made his first Western in 1917 at the age of twenty-two, a two-reeler starring himself. Notable among the 145 films he eventually directed, Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and My Darling Clementine (1946), all starring Henry Fonda. But it was his choice to give a young assistant prop man a chance on screen that changed history, for better or worse.
John Wayne (real name Marion Morrison) starred in his first Ford picture with Stagecoach (1939). This was Ford’s first talkie Western, and his first shot in Monument Valley. Located on the Arizona-Utah state line near Four Corners, the mesa-rich region is also called John Ford Country for the nine films he shot there.
The problem with Ford’s Westerns is the totally inaccurate and terrible depiction of Native Americans. It’s easier to appreciate Ford’s films because they’re more accessible than the overtly racist works of filmmaking pioneer D.W. Griffith, but the accessibility also eases the racism along. In later years he dismissed concerns with his films by saying, “But my best friend is Woody Strode.”
What would help is if we could all watch films sitting next to Martin Scorsese. For example, of The Searchers, Scorsese sees Ethan Edwards, the character played by John Wayne, as a “poet of hate” who “acts out the worst aspects of racism” when he shoots the eyes of a dead man so that, in accordance with the beliefs of his people, the man will never find paradise in the after-life. John Wayne liked the character so much, he named one of his kids after him.
According to Jimmy Stewart, who starred with John Wayne and Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), “For John Ford, there was no need for dialogue. The music said it all.”
“Ford had the best eye,” says director John Milius. “The visuals in John Ford movies have never been surpassed.”
To see why John Ford ranks with Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock as one of the most beloved and studied directors, check out She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), or The Quiet Man (1952).
Stewart Kirby writes for
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Four good reasons not to propound Intelligence Quotient tests:
Under 143+ PH.D.s wrongly has an apostrophe.
Under 164+ the composer's name is actually Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, not Amadeus W., and the composer pictured isn't Mozart, anyway. That's Beethoven.
Bobby Fischer's name has a "c" which they incorrectly omit, as well.
The fine print at the bottom says the source material is The New York Times.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Friedrich Nietzsche, you will doubtless be shocked to learn, did not die in late August of 1900, but in fact lived on a great many years afterwards.
Equally surprising, Nietzsche not only knew Nikola Tesla, he enlisted him in a mission to save the world. Together, they persuaded Harry Houdini to join. And then, in a twist of circumstances that no one could have foreseen, all three of them pulled Rasputin in, too.
Keep in mind, this was during the first few years of the 20th Century. Nietzsche was in his late fifties, but seemed much younger. He loved hiking in wooded mountains with great craggy peaks and sluiced himself in raging cataracts thundering icy rivers whenever possible. A chivalric man, creepily so, so stiff and formal was Nietzsche, even by Victorian standards, that he actually made people physically gag with masochistic displays, such as, "If the lady would be so good as to consider deigning to stride upon my back every few feet, it would be no trouble at all and only too much my pleasure to stretch myself out on the ground in front, thereby providing a dry and suitable surface upon which to tread, then crawl forward, lie down and do it again." Raised by women, Nietzsche had no idea how to deal with them, and with this excess energy he grew the mightiest mustache the world has ever known and assembled the world's foremost fighting team.
The idea of forming this elite corps grew in Nietzsche's mind as he stood in a room of his sister's house on display for paying customers to view. She had a great many racist friends, did Friedrich's sister Elisabeth, and they were busily discussing racist plans involving world domination, taking in the view of Herr Professor bedecked in his robes and staring into the vasty reaches of space and time oblivious, all-too-oblivious, of his true crystalline awareness.
Then as he did so often in the Franco-Prussian War, Nietzsche struck left and right with cured ham fists and slammed the bodies of his enemies about like an eagle with a serpent in its talons. "Ariadne!" he screamed, still recalling Cosima Wagner.
Routed, the racists which Nietzsche left conscious ran.
Turning to Elisabeth, who cowered wide-eyed in a corner sobbing, Nietzsche in a long white robe and pointing sternly said to his sister, "How dare you put me on display in this obscene manner, completely misrepresenting my life's work, and making me look awful! I am very, very disappointed in you! You never even read any of my books anyway--because you've always been too lazy!"
Whereupon Nietzsche allowed Elisabeth to tend to the wounded as he gathered up his things. Quietly walking in place late at night while others slept, visualizing hiking his favorite trails high in the Alps with perfect clarity, had not been for naught. In this manner and sundry other secret enterprises all of Nietzsche's muscles were hardened and honed for combat, not least of which his mind. So thoroughly did Nietzsche will himself his power, he stepped forth from his confines into the open air, free now to consider the information he had overheard...
Witness Nikola Tesla standing on a street corner in Prague produce a device from a briefcase, affix two clamps to the corner of a building, then flip a switch that causes the building to violently shake as though in an earthquake. See old men clad only in odd robes flee for their lives as Tesla packs up his device, straightens his cuff links, and continues on down the street.
Battling the New World Order in 1911
Friedrich Nietzsche: "No one ever understands my work. People twist it around, and get others to believe what they hear about it instead of reading it for themselves. Jesus, do you realize they think I'm anti-Semitic?"
Nikola Tesla: "What I despise? Edison. Do you have any idea what that filth has done? Do you?"
Harry Houdini: "People putting bird droppings in the key holes of my handcuffs make me want to kill them!"
Grigori Rasputin: "There are not enough women in the world. No, not enough for me. Also, and there is not enough beer. I said not enough beer!"
At some point:
Nietzsche must escape a straitjacket,
Tesla must partake in a drinking contest,
Houdini must create a magnetosphere-generated invention,
Rasputin must achieve groundbreaking philosophical insights.
This achievement likely leaves Rasputin nothing less than permanently stoned, and practically invulnerable.
Houdini flies around in the jet-pack of his device.
Tesla's drinking wins him the woman whom he secretly weds.
Nietzsche's escape from the straitjacket cures his insanity, and sends him off in Tesla's time machine.
Evil has a face...
The Overmen face one Aleister Crowley, who misread Nietzsche in his youth and thereby formed many of his amoral philosophies. Like Houdini, Crowley performs magic, but his is black magic--meaning Illuminati rituals. Like Rasputin, he's a hedonist--but in a bad way.
"You know, Sidney, a great many people...watching...out there...they do not realize that you and I are men of the world."
"Right you are, Peter! I see we are in agreement."
"Then perhaps you know as well how harrowing it must be to learn that the pickings, dating-wise, are so abysmally slim."
"Better and better, sir! Abysmal indeed. And now it is my turn to ask if you have any idea as to the cause of this egregious dearth of women in the redwoods?"
"I should say there seems to be an overabundance of skanks. Desperate, greedy women uninterested in...matters of the heart."
"Precisely, sir! But I perceive you do not know the cause, which makes me the only one in the whole wide sweet world who does. In the summer of 1936, a certain publishing tycoon, whose name I hardly need mention, and a contingent of fawning celebrities making merry on a pleasure cruise along the Northern California coast, found engines run afoul and submitted to explore the beckoning redwoods beyond while mechanics fixed the yacht. Or so they thought. Well sir, none among the roistering assemblage guessed that their host had in fact made a dark bargain with a force within the forest."
"Whatever do you mean?"
"I speak of an elder being with powers you can scarcely imagine. Blood was the payment that the demon demanded for the services it agreed to render, and I assure you sir, payment was made in full. I know this because I myself helped! With a speed which belied my great bulk, I ran and I grabbed as many celebrities as I could find and shoved them into the beast's jagged jaws, teeth like blood-streamed swords gnashing as it fed. And so you see sir, as a result, the land itself is cursed with the toxic by-product of that terrible and unclean exchange,"
"Sort of like trying to kill off algae in a pond, and then accidentally making the cats be sick."
"Aptly put, sir! An unintended side-effect, but potent, nonetheless."
"Then no one suspected this secret pact would lead to women having their minds be warped so that they hate love."
"And what did this deceptive publishing magnate receive for his treachery?"
"Would you believe sir, not one, not two, but three copper mines, and controlling interest of a pork farm?"
"This has been Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre explaining about the women around here."
"If you'd like to learn more about us, you can do that."
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
One time a few days ago I went over to a friend's. I had a reason to be there, and called first. I was told I could come on over.
So I got there and saw everybody was playing pool or watching it. Almost everybody had been drinking, and I started in, happy to do so.. I floated around, and talked to different people. One guy had a daughter in high school there as his designated driver, and gave me shitty eyes when in conversation I happened to mention Plumber's Crack.
"I will thank you to please never speak in this manner in the presence of my daughter!"
"Yeah, don't worry about it," I said, turning away, "I didn't invent it. Everybody knows about Plumber's Crack."
I noted the incident to a dude back inside at the pool table. He was pretty well stinko, as per usual. At one point he raised his arms having said what passed for a jest, I guess. I'm not sure why his arms were up, but it seemed fine at the time for me to place a friendly fist to his exposed midsection. I placed it there, and then gently pushed, with very minimal effort, and no force at all. It was a buddy gesture. Like a clap on the back. That's all. Oh, but he acted like I had struck him. And said so.
It was ridiculous. He looked like he was about to cry. Over nothing. He was shaking and screaming. "You wanna punch me? You wanna punch me?"
"Ease up, dude, simmer down. I didn't punch you. Jesus."
Thing is, he's kind of a smaller guy, and like I said, he was pretty well stinko. I don't know his personal history, but I suspect some sort of abuse because he really needed to act something out, that's for sure. After making a fuss he tore off in his truck. A guy with a wife and a kid, over nothing. That's what booze can do.
So then three of his buddies didn't like any of that, and started trying to stick up for him. The hotter they get, the colder I get. I didn't budge an inch. And when the pissiest one screamed for me to leave, and got up in my face, I just lifted my shades off my shirt, set 'em on the garbage can lid, and said, "I ain't goin' nowhere."
At this point it was about respect, and quite calmly and clearly I said so. Seeing how a woman's word kindly said I'm likely to abide, when one said, sincerely, "Everybody would respect you more if you'd just leave," I walked away with all the dignity in the world.
One thing that bothered me for a few days afterwards was that I really did think these guys were my friends. The other thing that still bothers me is knowing whatever bullshit story they told my buddy--he was down at the barbecue and probably saw very little if anything--it may well be sufficient in his eyes now to override all our years of being brothers.
All of which reminds me, yet again, yet again:
Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.