This Is Reasonable

So much of the outcome of laws depend on the term ‘reasonable’. But why should my fate be determined by someone else’s ‘reason’ with which I may vigorously disagree and which stems from a limited point of view. What is ‘reasonable’ lies in the minds of those that reason… like ‘beauty’, it is purely subjective. This ‘standard’ is no standard at all. Any law based on this ‘standard’ was never meant to be enforced.

Novel Beginning: You Can’t Ride A Dead Horse

CHAPTER ONE

The horse was dead.  This was certain.  Dr. Slaughter felt for a pulse again, moving stethoscope here and there, mostly for effect.  He knew the obvious.  Rigor mortis had set in already.  His arrival was all theatrics.

“I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do Phil,” he said, with just the right tinge of seriousness and resolve in his voice.

“Well, I guess I kind of figured,” Phil said.  “But, how the heck do you think he got into the living room?”

Dr. Slaughter shook his head. “Beats me.  Someone must’ve let him in through the garage, though you’d think there would be hoof-prints in the carpet and your hallways there, even there around the kitchen area – they aren’t but so big.”

Phil scratched at his beard a bit.  “Yeah – that’s what I was thinking.”

The two men stood a second just staring at the animal that lay there on the wall-to-wall carpeting, just shy of touching the couch.  The coffee table was nowhere to be found.

“Well, if there’s anything else I can do for you, you know where to find me,” the doctor said.  The two men shook hands in a kind of perfunctory fashion.  Then, Dr. Slaughter gingerly stepped around the horse’s carcass with just the right amount of authority and tact, and let himself out the back door.

How this thousand-pound beast could end up in his living room was more than perplexing to Phil.  For one, it wasn’t even his horse.  He didn’t even know anyone who owned a horse.  In fact, he had never even been ‘in the saddle’.  Sure, his daughter (Phyllis, about the be introduced in a moment) had taken a ride on a miniature pony or whatever they call those things at the Annual State Fair once, but that was it.  Something completely and utterly insane had happened here but really the mystery of it all was so befuddling all Phil could think was calling the local glue factory to see if they had someone who could just take the thing away.  How this completely and utterly insane thing happened was mostly irrelevant at this stage – not to Phyllis, however.

“How did it happen Daddy?  How did the horse die?”  Phyllis, age six, had been watching the whole time.  When Dr. Slaughter had come in and examined the horse, she was there right alongside, making sure everything went smoothly.  She petted the horse’s coat and felt it’s soft, brown fur.  She was there even when Phil had turned on the kitchen light and noticed something rather larger than should be lying in his living room.

“Well, honey, Daddy doesn’t know, but we’re going to need to get him out of here so we can watch our cartoons on the TV, so be a dear and fetch me that yellow pages over by the phone in the kitchen.”

Phyllis happily obliged.

“Can I ride him?”  Phyllis asked with yellow pages in hand, a book that was almost as big as she was.

“Well, honey, Daddy doesn’t think anyone can ride a dead horse.  What about you?”

“No.  Probably not.”  Phyllis said.

“I think you’re right,” Phil said.

Note:  this novel beginning was inspired by the quote by author Carl T. Smith, regarding the beginnings of novels, “I don’t think you have to have a dead horse in the living room on the first page, but maybe you may need one that’s pretty sick.”

Seal of Approval

This blog has won the coveted Seal of Approval from the “United Bloggers of the Blogosphere” and thus has been rated AAA as a blog of cultural and political significance.

Thank you UBB. It looks like my check finally cleared.

Our Mini-Totalitarian Society

What’s great about what we have is that anyone with enough gumption can establish a mini empire and Lord over a group of people. What fun to have the power to tell others what to do at whim! And they say slavery is dead in America. Pish-tosh!

All you need is enough Capital and you can have slaves you don’t even need to house. Some call them ‘exempt employees’. Sure they can leave at any time, but really, can they? I think we have successfully labeled the runaway slaves ‘job hoppers’ and squelched their pay sufficiently.

It’s a wonderful system… a new feudalism, really. They own nothing but we call them ‘home owners’. Home is where the heart is, right? As long as we pipe the moving pictures into their eye sockets and keep them otherwise entertained or, better still, drugged, all is well.

The Other

Right, and he didn’t even make a long story short

every piece seemed to fall into place

wars and rumors of wars

what’s left then? I didn’t even get enough to eat

Honey, could you come here

where was he?

His eyes were closed

well, you could’ve told me that’s where you put them

you’d think that these people would’ve learned by now

talking like he’s some kind of DJ King like some kind of superfly whatever they call it

Whatever happened to him?

…floating through the atmostphere

if you bite me again, you’re going upstairs

for some reason, no, that’s not right… I thought we were supposed to come in on the left

The Beast

Familiar glow of the monitor and I’m surrounded by clothes stacked, unfolded, in laundry baskets.  Utility room, computer room, spare bedroom all describe the uses of this particular space.

I am a little chilly, my bare body though covered by a layer of male hair in many places, still is not immune, so I pull a sweatshirt from a nearby pile and enjoy the fabric against my skin.  I am still bare from the waist down, but not so chilly now.

It is 7:21 a.m. on a Saturday.  My wife is still sleeping.  She sleeps soundly in the master bedroom across the hall.  We are on the second floor of a two-story town house.

I am a writer.  I don’t do this professionally, but when I ask myself who I am, what I am, I am first a person, next a writer.  All other identifying traits fall after this–gender, profession, marital status, family tree.  These are secondary.

The chief problem of being a writer is learning the patience that is required to actually write.  With patience comes the perserverance to write despite whatever other distractions hit.  There are a million tentacles and the beast is so large that you cannot see its entire bulk due to the curvature of the earth (and the fact that it’s a metaphor), and all these tentacles grip and grasp every part of you.  They pull you, suck you in until the writer in you has been devoured.  But it happens little by little, so that you tell yourself it’s not too bad.   You still recognize some of the writer left and you still have those lingering ideas, though you feel less and less like putting them into action.  Then years go by and you realize that there is only a shred of the writer left and that the only way to recover is to pursue the beast and win back the pieces of you that have already been stolen away.  But the beast is so large, so all-consuming that you realize there is no way to win back the shreds of the writer that have been torn bit by bit over many years.  So, there is only one solution and it is terrible, horrifying.  You must sacrifice the rest of the writer and yourself to the beast, throw yourself into its gaping jaws.  Once inside the beast, collect the shreds of the writer, piece them together like a patchwork quilt and bail out of the metaphor altogether.

The truth is – a writer is born and can never die.  The beast can suck away all it wants, but the unending energy of the writer’s soul can feed the beast without being destroyed.  The writer tames the beast and takes it as his pet.

One Half

to the left, a little to the left–there – ahhh!

in our time?  I don’t really think it’s possible

and now they get back together and it seems like it’s just all for money

freedom is not about what you do, but how you think

that’s funny — I thought I left it right there

He said that he wanted to tell you me about a “business opportunity”

she’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes

He was just lying there in the bathroom, maybe asleep

right there in the basement

we’re out of scotch tape again

in all my years I’ve never seen someone look out of both eyes at once

did you see…?

It’s strange when so many people can get together and all they do is just stare

birds, and trees, and leopards, and elephants, and there’s one–I thought I saw it

um, yeah, I guess it is

Rediscovery Corner: Monaco’s ‘Music For Pleasure’

If you like any kind of dance music, Monaco’s ‘Music for Pleasure’ will easily fit in well with your collection.  It’s a well-paced album with varying shades of disco rock that explores the complexities of modern relationships–of love and loss, of attraction and revulsion.  ‘Happy Angst’ just might sum it up fairly well.  From the incessantly listenable “What Do You Want From Me?”, an international hit, to the intentional ‘alternative rock’ of “buzz gum” that features flavors of beatles-esque breaks (complete with caliope and brass), this album has a little bit of everything.  But to really understand this album, it helps to know some history. (No, not the War of 1812).

Close your eyes (I promise I won’t hurt you).  Slip back to 1977, to a lousy club somewhere in Manchester, England. It’s the age of disco, but instead of cheesy strings and a dance beat, some bloke is screaming his arse off into the mic and another is playing the guitar like it’s the first time he’s picked up the thing. The group is billed as ‘the Sex Pistols’.  A loud buzz remains in your ears long after the show is over.  Your name is Peter Hook (“Hooky” to your mates).  You’re with a couple of lads by the names of Ian Curtis and Barney (Bernard Albrecht, later changed to Bernard Sumner).  After the noise dies down, you pick up a bass guitar (Barney beat you to the electric), find a drummer and who cares if you don’t know how to play?  If those Pistols can do it, who can’t?

Influenced by the the Brian Eno/ David Bowie composition “Warszawa,” you name the band “Warsaw.” You record a demo, lose a drummer, find a new drummer in Ian’s friend Stephen Morris.  Then there’s all this talk of another band called “Warsaw Pact” that’s getting more publicity than you are. So what? You change you name to Joy Division.  You sign a record deal and success in Britain follows.

But Ian, your lead singer, has been having problems.  Frequent epileptic seizures and black-outs onstage lead to serious depression.  On the cusp of plans to conquer America, on Sunday, May 18th, 1980, Ian is found dead, an apparent suicide.

What now?

The demise of Joy Division and its re-birth as New Order (with Gillian Gilbert) is well known, among those who have followed either band.  For the casual music listener, the story may be new.  But chances are good that you, or someone you knew in college, own a copy of New Order’s “Substance”, a source text for the history of pre-electronica, international techno-pop.  New Order’s 12″ dance single for Blue Monday is the best selling dance single of all time, and their song “Bizarre Love Triangle” has been remade in the nineties and still remains on the alternative rock play-list.  And Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ albums have just recently re-entered the UK charts upon the unexpected success of the band’s box set ‘Heart & Soul’.

But the tragedy-turned-triumph that became New Order has been inactive since their Republic album (1990) spawned four international singles including “Regret”, “Ruined in a Day”, “World (The Price of Love)”, and “Spooky.” Then there was their obligatory greatest hits album, ‘(the best of) New Order’, for casual fans; and for those die-hards out there, ‘(the rest of) New Order’.  But those Manchester natives, weened on punk music, who popularized a brand of music influencing a whole new wave of musicians, including Robert Smith (of the Cure), haven’t rested on their musical laurels. They are, in fact, planning a new album to be recorded sometime at the end of this year.

Meanwhile, side projects abound.  Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris have married, started a family and formed, literally, “the Other Two,” composing a variety of music for British television and releasing the album “the Other Two and You” (1993). Bernard Sumner teamed up with Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) to form the band Electronic (with part-time collaborators Neil Tennant & Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys). This “super-group” recorded 1991’s self-titled release, which met with international success, along with 1997’s follow-up called ‘Raise the Pressure.’ Meanwhile, Peter Hook’s post-New Order project, ‘Revenge’ (dubbed a ‘greasy, rock ‘n roll monster’ by some, entirely unlike the sterility of New Order) released several recordings (the ‘92 EP ‘Gun World Porn’ and their sole album ‘One True Passion’) that never quite hit it off.

Enter Monaco.  No, not the country.  The band (from the opening sentence–remember?). I picked up a copy of Monaco’s “Music for Pleasure” at a used record store, along with “Pet Shop Boys Discography”.  Monaco is Peter Hook with former tape op guy Dave Potts.  Potts worked in a record store, putting up New Order displays during the band’s British heyday, and later worked in Hook’s studio.  From his vocal style, you can tell Potts practiced Bernard Sumner’s smooth delivery and the sound-alike quality has not escaped the attention of critics.  But there’s a chemistry here–between the mentor and student; between this product of the disco age & the punk movement and this product of sixties classic rock & the 90’s indie-dance interface that makes this more than a New Order wannabe album.  Potts’ mere influence as a fan brings a freshness and enthusiasm to Hook’s music that goes beyond the often sterile core of New Order.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first thing I noticed when I picked up Monaco’s “Music for Pleasure” was that Peter Saville, the graphic designer noted for Joy Division’s austere album covers, and New Order’s uncomplicated artwork, switches style to something more human.  Instead of distorted photos in black-in-white or depressive white lettering on matte grey, this album cover’s predominant color is blood red.  It features a couple of vaguely European-looking women in slinky dresses, one looking bored and seated in the corner, the other in the foreground looking straight at the camera through dark sunglasses, both occupying a room in a kind of neo-space-age bachelor pad.  Sunlight pours in from the sky-light.  A plant hangs in the corner.  And I began to wonder if this isn’t someone’s actual house, not some make-believe, show-biz set.  Then I realized that these women looked like actual women, not stunning, drop-dead gorgeous models.  Then I opened the CD’s jewel-case, pulled out the sleeve and found that the cover is only part of a fairly long fold-out mural revealing a veiled bookshelf; a young, black-booted, long-haired grunge rocker guy looking contemplative; a rack full of crystal, a cabinet of dishes, and other domesticities, including a naked guy (!?) in the kitchen scratching his ankle while loading/unloading the dishwasher–go figure–and a seated figure in the background who looks as if he is practicing conducting an orchestra.  I began to think there must be a lot more to this album then meets the eye…

…and ear.  While Music for Pleasure has a definitive New Order feel, with Hook’s distinctive bass lines and David Potts’ Bernard Sumner sound-alike vocals, there is a thoughtful intensity and an emotional balance here that’s missing in the works of both Joy Division and New Order.  In interviews, Hook has mentioned early influences to include the bass playing on old Temptations albums and that kind of informed, musical depth is evident. The skilled use of layered vocal tracks and overdubs bring out the conflicting emotions in these song rather than acting as mere backdrop gimmick, as is usually the case with most techno-oriented songs.

One song that owes it’s lyrical content to the punk tradition is “Under the Stars,” a anthem-esque new wave guitar song featuring the chorus ‘so let the violence begin/if we can fight than we can win’.  My first thought was that they had written a theme song for NHL hockey.  But the fatalistic verses show a darker trend that stems directly from the punk aesthetic.  But most of the music on this album owes more to the electronic era.  The last track “Sedona”, in fact, is a seven-minute instrumental that combines melodic electronic composition with shades of industrial elements.

One exception is “Blue”, a simple, surprisingly acoustic guitar song that conveys a hopeful realism, but does so with lyrical clunkers that distract from both the meaning of the song and a potentially interesting juxtaposition between it and the track that follows–the over nine-minute long techno/disco opus “Junk”.  Lines such as “when I’m down and can’t get up/and I’ve just run out of luck” would play off well if performed tongue-in-cheek, but come across as unintentionally comedic when sung dolefully against the folksy background of this song’s gently strumming guitars.  Then again maybe it is a joke.  I don’t know.  But fortunately, being the weakest song on the album, “Blue” is also the shortest, at two-and-a-half minutes.  Fortunately too, gems such as the moody “Billy Bones” and my own favorite, the disco bonanza called “Sweet Lips” more than make up for any flaws in Monaco’s freshman effort.

Ironically, though it was born from the punk tradition, ‘Music for Pleasure’ showcases elements far closer to the 1970’s disco and Beatles-eque pop that punk rebelled against.  But instead of the self-absorbed vacuity of disco and the soulless, detached throbbing of techno music, this album presents soul-searching songs that roll together bubble‑gum techno‑pop with the yearning optimism of mature, modern relationships and straight-ahead guitar rock.  If you’ve never even heard of Joy Division or cared to listen to New Order, this album will still strike you as a refreshing collection of songs that actually entertain in a creative way.

Oh, I’m sorry.  You can open your eyes now.

shopping exercise

one-half banana peppers

cow-tongue tastes like denser liver

set a deadline for identifying an outlet

so there is monetary gain

get off sodas drink more water

also – rice and veggies

no meat and exercise

Big Government

The government thinks it can tell us where we can build a business or who can drive a car or whether we can build a new house on a piece of land we bought. There is so much the government does to stick their nose in everyone’s business. I cannot buy anything without giving a portion of my money to the government. People cannot even paint their house the color they choose because the government prohibits it. Yeah, people don’t have to choose to live somewhere where these restrictions exist, but that goes for everyone, doesn’t it? If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

Thank You Arizona

We finally see the inherent white supremacy underlying the GOP. Good luck in the future since you have none. For those in Arizona, you should be thanking people for coming to your pathetic state. Yay! We’re stupid! Yay!

Wasted Effort

Hating others takes energy. The effort put into it is a tragic waste. But, the best effort you can do against those that hate you is to constantly make them angry, so they are stirred up and spinning their wheels while you run circles around them. You are more powerful and can completely avoid their wrath, but they will boil in their own bile. KEEP STIRRING THE POT. They will waste their time and accomplish little positive for themselves and constantly think that there must be something they can do to destroy you. Your best defense is knowing that there really isn’t. They will exhaust themselves while you go about enjoying your life. Do not laugh at them. Treat them as nothing.