Tuesday, 29 October 2013


So Shane Guthrie first appeared in my life when I was about 15, he a couple years older, as part of a teen writer's group. The first thing I heard of his was a poem that scanned both backwards. He had pieces that proposed a viewpoint one way, and an opposite viewpoint the other (Christian/Atheist being my favorite, natch). For the Filthy Jerry kickstarter, he demanded a forward/backwards piece from me. It's taken me this long to write it, with some false starts and scrapped efforts (I decided it didn't need to present opposing viewpoints, but should attempt some sort of sense) and I do some fiddling with the punctuation from one version to the next. But this is the first piece of this type I've completed.

Tasty! (maybe inspired by politics. Or not.)

Saintly ,again, disappearing into water.
Turning expectations, repasting billboards
All good deeds, all charity drives, all blessed returns.
Saintly, again, rewritten histories.
Bodies, bulldozers, cremations, buyoffs.
Pitchshifted. Rebeats. Chopped, screwed.
Again, Saintliness as moving goalposts.
Stories fit headlines. Splashed page full.
Halos glowing shinier, for flashbulbs.
Searching, a finished writeup, new review.
Again, bowing. Saved great act for last.
Last for act. Great. Saved, bowing again.
Review new writeup, finished a searching.
Flashbulbs for shinier glowing halos.
Full page splashed headlines fit stories.
Goalposts moving as Saintliness, again,
Screwed, chopped. Rebeats. Pitchshifted.
Buyoffs, cremations, bulldozers, bodies.
Histories rewritten again, Saintly.
Returns blessed all, drives charity all, deeds good all
Billboards repasting expectations, turning

Water into disappearing again, Saintly.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

When Whiskey Becomes Coffee--

or Five Useful Responses For The Navigation of Smallish Talk, a Follow Up.

When dealing with the sort of every day interactions I outlined in the last post, there are options. Say you don't want to stonewall someone, but because of circumstances, it's not appropriate or feasible to really get into it at the time (you're at work, they're at work, you're late for something, etc) there are still ways to avoid the bland sameness of "fineness." Here are five responses to the "how are you/what's new" querie that tend to kickstart a friendly banter, let people know you like and appreciate their presence, without rabbit trailing too much.

1) "Well, I'm on the right side of the ground. Everything else is gravy!" Grabbed this from crusty old dudes at the bar. It works better delivered by crusty old dudes, but even saying it as a half-joke has a weird way of re-enforcing a wider perspective.

2) "Kickin' ass and takin' names." This seems like a joke, but depending where you put the goalposts, this can always be true. Perhaps the kicking ass was winning the Lottery and the names you took were those who high-fived you afterwards. Or maybe it was getting out of bed and making coffee.

3) "Livin' the dream, man, livin' the dream." No matter who you're speaking to, it is always appropriate to refer to them as "man" when one is living the dream.

4) "Well, I'm at work, so you know. But, I have a job, so, hey." This is obviously most effective when you're actually at work.

5) "My family just died in a fire and I had to watch the Arsonists laughing eyes as I helplessly struggled against the flames. Nightly I hear his ruthless cackling and all around me seems confirmation that John Calvin was right; and endless hell of predestined torture awaits us all, and I am only futiley counting down the hours until the Bat King flies off with my soul into is torment-cave. But there's a new Italian place down the way and I hear they have a good happy hour. We should check it out."

Thursday, 24 October 2013

When Coffee Becomes Whiskey

and emotional entitlement in the name of sincerity.

There's a disturbing upward trend in the amount of espresso needed to be enthused about things. Function I can do just fine, but in work and relationships and finding new places to live and responding to the question "what's new?" ("increased hair loss!") there's a certain amount of enthusiasm that's wanted by the askers. Not just an "I'm-so-excited" sort of enthusiasm, but the more specific, emotionally subdued, but still intense sincerity of an answer. The sort of convincing that can deflect the follow up "are you REALLY fine" question, usually from old friends or people at the bar who especially pride themselves on being genuine and not phony.

and yes, sometimes you need a person to shake you out of auto-response, but the whole "people never say what they mean when you ask them how they are" meme, one passed down from generation to generation of sincere, artistic, caring people (who are just searching for SOME sort of human connection in this increasingly disconnected yar blargh ermpha hrmpha) fails to recognize a few basic things:
One is that sometimes people are actually fine. Not great, not awful, not particularly qualifiable, just, you know, alright. No one's died, no one's got a raise, the level of laid-getting remains steady as what it has been, the movie was decent.
Another is that if you are my friend and you trust me, after the first "wait, really? because you look sorta. . ." (which yes, annoying questions are a basic tenant of friendship) then respect the fact that, at the very least, I don't want to talk about it. And just as likely, I am telling the truth. If you think I am constantly lying about my emotional state at all times, then you have shitty taste in friends.
Aaannnnnnnnnnd, if you're a stranger, keep in mind that while every now and then an honest "you know, I've had a shitty day" is refreshing, you really want me to be fine. Or at least you don't want me to be all "Yeah, I'm not having a good day, but unless you're about to cut me a check for 200,000 and give me a full deep-tissue massage, there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it, kiddo."
It is important when dispatching ostensibly well meaning strangers that you call them "kiddo," especially if they're old and fought in a war.

All this relevants to the in-between-strangers-and-friends relationships that occur around moving, as I'm about to go do some paperwork on a spot I want to move into, and all the attendant lite schmooze that requires, and after four shots of espresso and an egg fried with spinach onto flattened bread, all I really want to do is take a swing.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Handover of former ventures

Is fully documented here, in an interview by Tom Mohrman at Wonder and Risk, where he talked at length with myself and Robert Kaye about life, poetry, evil, power, literature, and biscuits.