Saturday, May 1, 2010


Searching the book rack at a nearby satellite location of the giant merchant chain founded by the Retail Sage from Bentonville I discovered a disturbing notion. The world has gone dark. Given my love for the written word, I never pass a collection of written material that I do not stop and peruse the offerings. This is what I term an “Artist Date.” I first began this pastime as a part of a writing curriculum I participate in that has been most beneficial in my pursuit of fame and fortune as an outlet of written insight or, depending on the given moment, gobbledygook.

It has taken me many places, this distraction, and I find much comfort in it. I will admit that I probably would do better if I chased literature at an actual book store, but I find myself miserly in the dispersal of funds as well as lazy. There are no electric carts available in Barnes and Noble to ride and I, in my advancing infirmity, do not stand or walk as well as in years gone by. Besides, it is spring and the advent of scantily clad members of the fairer sex abounds. I can chase more women at Wal-Mart with the least amount of rejection or effort. Not that there is hope in me of catching anything, I have been, woefully, outdistanced by the fairer sex for many years now.

Disgusting chauvinism aside, I noticed a trend in the literature available that disturbed me greatly. The cosmos has apparently been taken hostage by legions of vampires and zombies. There is also a multitude of diabolical schemes and conspiracies being perpetrated on the One True Church by secret societies and cabals wishing to enslave or enchain the true believers of Jesus Christ. Volume upon volume of demonic conspiracies, founded in ancient writings or eliciting from practices of all sorts of arcane organizations have engulfed the literary world as well as the cinematic arts. I peruse the DVD racks as well as the book shelves only to find gritty, gruesome, and gory tales that adulate the horrific, and idolize the shedding of blood.

The books my students revere all have dark tones to there narratives. We recently took a field trip to that bastion of literature with no electric conveyances for the purpose of increasing our school library. Books on the military arts and the treatises on the art of war (not Sun Tsu) now fill our shelves. During a recent absence of mine these young future captains of industry were shown an end-of-times film that is currently popular. It was apparently not possible for them to view the film in its entirety, and they wanted me to show them the remainder of the movie. I did not have it as it was a rental that had to be returned, and received much derision from the future members of Time magazines list of the top 100 most influential people. I fielded numerous questions on the authenticity of the prediction that gave foundation to the script of the teleplay. When I attempted to teach a lesson on historical predictors of the future (Nostradamus, et al) I received even more scorn for my efforts. I finally had to plead ignorance of said matters and move on to the much maligned scheduled lesson on Earth Day.

I can not fully scorn this trend, it is a fact that the well read instigator of this blog had his foundation in comic books. So much so that he suffered a broken wrist one time while attempting to practice the art of flying because his cousin had informed him that he would grow up to be Superman. I recognize the draw of fantasy, and revel in the imagination of the young. I do take umbrage with the content. In my time villains were much more intelligent. Lex Luthor (not the charlatan that is portrayed on “Smallvile”) had vast intelligence. Criminal masterminds actually had minds. I yearn for the diabolical ingenuity of Doctor Moriarty, or the alliterative capabilities of the Riddler.

I seek the mesmeric abilities of Count Dracula and not the pseudo intellectual claptrap that speaks of differing powers and abilities then that envisaged by that Irish dramatist of much import, Bram Stoker. Twilight be dammed! Give me Igor or Van Helsing any day. Body snatching and a good old fashioned stake in the heart in place of the walking dead going to algebra class is what the true nature of a horror story should be.

My preferences aside, it is a curiosity of where this proclivity for the Dark Side comes from. My kids are not of an age where they could appreciate the nuances of the dynamic between Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or the universally HOT (particularly in the slave outfit) Princess Leia. Bela Legosi is just two strange words that no one knows the meaning to, and entrance into the Fortress of Solitude was impossible unless you could perambulate your way around the huge freaking key.
The lone venue I find in current fictional culture is those animated features that find their way to the Big Screen. Walt Disney is still alive, Pixar is amazing, and Shrek rules! Hope springs eternal! The salvation of mankind can be found in these gigantanormous cartoons.

This still does not give relief in my vexation with the publishing world. I find a great amount of women holding place on bestseller lists, and that is encouraging. The originators of bestseller lists seem to be open to narrowing the gender gap, or is it the content? I wonder if there are really that many police detectives, coroners, private investigators, F.B.I agents, C.I.A. operatives, or Navy S.E.A.L’s out there who are actually women. I wonder why the world has demonized the Muslim world in, well, both fiction and everywhere else. Maybe that is because believers of Allah have a tendency to be the guilty parties in many atrocities. What happened to demon bikers, where is La Cosa Nostra, and what of my beloved heritage…the IRA? Who is there to replaced the Knight in Slightly Tarnished Armor that John D. MacDonald detailed in his should-have-been-honored books. Where is the next generation of Steinbeck’s, Hemingway’s, or Pearl S. Buck’s? I wonder who laments the loss of Robert Heinlen? I wonder if there are answers for my questions, or if there is anyone reading who has the first idea of what I write?

Perhaps it is that yearning for things past feels nostalgic and comfortable, or a need to move my fingers across the keys, but I do believe that I can get past the umbrage I take with today’s genre noir. Or maybe it is the hope that some one will heed the message that I send today and want to publish that amazing fiction locked deep in the vault of my desktop computer. Hope does spring eternal, as does the alternative which is certainly just around the corner…in the cast they select for the next installment of the Twilight series.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I experienced a most somber moment this week. I arranged for my own funeral. I have no diagnoses requiring said action. There exists no expectation, or epistemological evidence, or even any factual elucidation informing me that I will be departing this mortal coil in the foreseeable future. I simply took some direction from God, and got about the business of dealing with the inevitable. I glanced into bathroom mirror and, after asking God what his desire for the handsome visage staring out from the mystical realm that exists within all said devices, discovered the requisite impetus to begin the process of dealing with both the inevitable march of time and the certainty that my time in this reality is… impermanent

This perhaps might have been provoked by a rendezvous with yet another purveyor of Hippocratic dogma. Presence at the headquarters of a variety of aficionado’s within the jurisdiction of the curative arts has become a paramount concern in the preparation of my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual schedule of events. Long gone are the days when I could look out either the fore or aft egress of that bastion of banality which is my domicile and choose direction of travel based on the foolishness of the free, or the desire of the dimwitted. Engaging the motorized stallion I have possession of (not, unfortunately, ownership given the balance on loan agreement) to begin the process of imbibing massive amounts of fossil fuel cocktails is not the joy it once was. I have to do battle with the healthcare industry much too often for this scribes liking. Hence, the sovereignty of the open road is devalued by the brief jaunts to this healer or that medicine show maven. This is a particularly wretched state of affairs for a free thinker such as me to find himself in.

Once more digression abounds. Onward we must go to find the justification for this encyclical. In the midst of this seemingly depressing duty there came a jewel and a gift. One I wish to share with those who find themselves enraptured and held hostage to the ramblings of this tired old pain in the ass.
I met with an insurance salesman at a local eatery to negotiate the disposition of my mortal remains. It had been my intention to sit in a local café to conduct said business, only to find the establishment closed. At 3:00 PM. I live in a state that has but one star, and where the drinking of coffee at a café was a God given right in days gone by. I learned this after relocating from a more frigid environ located in the northeastern section of this great land of ours. 3:00 PM was coffee time down at the café much as 4:00 PM is tea time for those citizens of the empire that never experiences nightfall. I found myself at a self service pizza joint with particularly agonizing wooden seating that aggravated my recent (about an hour prior to this morbid meeting of the minds) diagnosis of Bursitis.

The gentleman I met was of a sort that is in a rather distinct minority within the world of legalized gaming that is the insurance industry. He travels to his clients instead of working over the phone or within cyberspace. A memory arises from my misspent youth of a gentleman that would come to my Dear Sainted Mother’s kitchen and drink coffee with her and collect the weekly or monthly premium on some sort of insurance. At least I think that was what he was doing. My sweet Deifiúr might correct that inconsistency in my memory, but probably not. She is content to let her kid brother enjoy his senility. Much as this gentleman before me is content to travel to his clients.

We conducted our commerce and, after many signatures and writing of checks, I was assured that my passing onto the Great Reward would not be a burden to my friends and family. We were concluding our trade and engaging in the small talk that people do when he asked me what I do for a living. This began a conversation on the merits of being employed in a profession that gives aid and comfort to our fellow man, and the great rewards we each have received. He then looked at me and asked if he could ask me a personal question. Here it comes I thought. “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?”

Fortunately he did not, given the color of my hair and the obvious display of orthopedic distress, call me “son.” He looked at me as a coiled rattlesnake peers at a threat. I answered in the appropriate manner. I do believe Jesus to be the originator and focus of my metaphysical well being. Probably not in an equivalent scope as the fine Christian gentleman before me does, but to the extent that it is His face I wish to encounter once St. Peter bestows upon me access to the wonders contained behind the Pearly Gates.

My beliefs exist in a different realm from the average, run-of-the-mill Christian. I am Roman Catholic due to the impossibility of ever escaping the One True Religion (I am, after all, as Irish as Patty’s pig). The state of that church and the monumental scandal it is now experiencing has created a situation that prevents me, mentally, spiritually, and moralistically from participation. I have studied the precepts of many religions, and spiritualities in a search for the One to believe in, and found Jesus Christ to be that One. I incorporate other rituals in my daily quest for enlightenment, and feel quite comfortable with my personal brand of theology. Part of this theological dogma I practice is the acceptance of the beliefs of others. This might be the influence of the Twelve Step program I am a passionate member of, or it is the lessons at my Dear Sainted Mother’s knee having to do with the equality of all beings. Wherever it comes from, I listen to others thoughts on God. Mother Dear always taught me to be a gentleman.

My compatriot in the business of my demise tells me of a part of the Old Testament that has helped him greatly. He gives me the reference and simply tells me that he repeats the prayer several times daily, and it gives him great peace. End of story. He did not invite me to dinner, or Sunday and Wednesday services at the church he attends. He simply gave me the prayer and sent me on my way. I will do the same for you, my faithful readers. 1 Chronicles 4:10.