Logic and Proportion

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Liveblogging Listening to Clutch's Excellent Album Blast Tyrant, Coupled With a Job-Related Mental Meltdown

So it's been a rough time at work lately. Reorganization-related blues related to the return of past stress, possibly diabetes-related loss of ability to concentrate and form long-term memories (days blend together in a fuzzy streak in my memory, one with a deep red streak down the middle wearing my boss's head) combine to make life at this time... undesirable.

Mercury is the title of track #1 of Blast Tyrant. It's a rocking instrumental followed by a hymn to some Mythic Ones of Ancient Greece; Daedlus, Mercury, Diana, and the "Tongueless Muse of Time." Some half-deaf muse must have inspired this album, but the work is hopelessly, eclectically, enigmatic. Yet it hangs together.

I gave my boss notice today. I'd nerved myself to do it by telling three people- my dad, and some of the people I deal with professionally. My sister said my dad had freaked. Well, in retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut there and just told my boss. Because I'm thinking about staying now.

The Profits of Doom is a caustic barrage against mainstream religion: "A Caliph, Rabbi and a Bishop walk into a bar. One says to the other, hey now brother we haven't gotten very far!" Acerbic, head-banging fun.

I'd come to the decision to do it following the realization that some sets of duplicate paperwork that I'd put in the recycle bin were back on my desk, in the middle of a pile of things I needed to work on. My boss had said to me the other day that though he wasn't one to go through others' stuff, he'd noticed this pile of stuff in that lower tray right there from like several months ago.
"Well, its there because it's unfilable stuff- duplicates, things that don't match up, some of which is dated before I took this position," I tried to get across, rather gracelessly (I wasn't feeling well that day- my verbal skills were degenerate and my temper short).
"Well I want to see it filed before Friday," he replied, not catching my drift.

The Mob Goes Wild. This is the big one, boys. Call every law-enforcement agency in the book- this is an incitement to riot comparable to the Stone's Street Fighting Man. "Streets on fire!" barks Fallon. "The mob goes wild, wild, wild!" and "Twenty-one guns, a box made of pine, letter from the government sealed and signed, delivered Federal Express, on your mother's doorstep," make the polemicist's intent unmistakable. Pity we didn't listen sooner.

Just before that, he'd busted my balls about some dates in some of my correspondence. I have to present people with a list of things to do, you see, often including fixing every paint chip in a 5 bedroom Victorian house in the bad part of town, the ones that teem with children whose mothers are too economically or otherwise stressed to watch them. You can imagine this makes me popular with the landlords who voluntarily work with me. Sometimes I even make them paint the outside in the dead of winter.

Cypress Grove is a charming fantasia of modern day Maenads with redneck flair- they patrol the boundaries of their eponymous territory heavily armed in a "jacked-up Ford," carrying an assortment of menacing animals and black plastic bags. Fallon growls and barks through just short of three minutes of pure rock fury.

If they fail to do what i tell them to do, I take away their monthly subsidy. No one responds well to this.

Promoter (of Earthbound Causes). Wow. Just, wow. This song has everything Clutch- a great hook, clever wordplay, a catchy chorus, and enigmatic, though true, depth. A tale of how people use drugs to cause and cure insanity- "Cool down my temper, try to remember, what it was I wasn't to lose. And I probably could were if not for the beer and the broads and the broads and the booze!" and "No thank you, that's enough for me, Prozacly not what I need!"

Another of my top responsibilities is to ensure that the landlords who voluntarily cooperate with us continue to do so. 2+2=??

The Regulator is a hair-raising tale of a man plotting to kill his ex-lover. The title refers to a brand of antique clock- the kind with the visible pendulum, the kind that ticks away as he waits outside for the moment to strike. It's southern-fried vibe has an undeniable groove and intensity.

So I'd come to work to find the duplicate paperwork taken out of the recycling bin and kind of snapped. I kept it together in the office, but I was seething. I never confront people for doing this kind of thing- I just get even.

Worm Drink is a kind of sequel to The Mob Goes Wild (TMGW). The title character a military deserter, living the life of an alcoholic vagrant, fearing and despising the "snivelers" who chase him (the apellation is a conflation with "track sniffers"). Just as big an incitement as TMGW- "I'll march no longer, I'll fight no more... I'm done with war." A real gem in this strange crown.

My horoscope had said that I would play the prankster today. Unlike most pranksters though, I plotted serious consequences- the severing of ties between me and those who provide my living expenses in return for portions of my soul. I would quit- but I would do so with a slap in the face.

Army of Bono takes to task the alleged messianic tendencies of U2's frontman- "don't worry, it's just stigmata" with worries that we're going to hell in a handbasket- "when our world is over, children by the fire, raise their hands and pray that they may see a new messiah." Mocking a man's exaltations while worrying that he may not be up to the task ahead. Now you know- Clutch's lyrics can be great cynical fun.

But I did as well as I could in all respects that day. I put together a last-minute deal to get one tenant out of a bad unit in record time, and used the county nurse to pressure Bossman about an issue between us- should we really make those poor landlords paint in the winter? It doesn't make the tenant any safer. And it pisses everyone else off, and mightily.

Spleen Merchant is another anti-religious diatribe. If Christianity is about sharing the body of Christ, "pity the poor dumb fool who gets [his] bleeding spleen."

So Boss put down the phone, allowed how we might re-visit the issue since it seemed that everyone was against him, and I asked if I might have a couple more minutes of his time as I closed his office door.

(In the Wake Of) The Swollen Goat is the third in what I like to think of as the Worm Drink Trilogy. "Bury your treasure, burn your crops, black water rising and it ain't gonna stop!" The Blast Tyrant sails in search of The Worm Drink, wreaking havoc in far away lands. The lyrics evoke Blackwater, the band of mercenary contractors who were involved in so much havoc in Iraq. Probably not a coincidence, but a damn good riff.

"Is two weeks notice enough?" I asked. My eyes grew moist. This wasn't the way I wanted it to end, but I'd committed myself. It was principle, and dammit, I'm miserable in this job.

Weather Maker is a kind of funky short instrumental. Not bad, but filler.

He asked me to change my mind. He asked me for more time. Little more than a month ago he'd threatened to fire me for my last misadventure, he was disputing my plan to quit. I'd knew he was over in a barrel. Getting my replacement trained and up to speed was too much for him to contemplate, I guess. I'd believed it to be so, for many reasons.

Subtle Hustle rollicks and rolls- a great character sketch of a televangelist. "I got the heat in both feets! Snake handler's hands! Come back with slickness, and do it all again!" Fallon wraps up their unsavory ambitions thus- "I've got your number! I'll steal your thunder! I've got your mother's maiden name tattooed on my arm!"

I explained myself. I found dealing with these people difficult. My health was an issue, what with the diabetes and all. "I just read an article, it says diabetes messes with your short-term memory. Some days I'll do something with a document, or at least think I've done it- I can remember thinking about it- and I'll come back to find it somewhere else. I don't know if I'm losing it, or what."

Ghost is a masterpiece- another southern fried ballad dripping with erudition and (this time!) New Testament references- it's an almost Faulknerian tale a revenant, arising to find his erstwhile widow married to the grasping tax collector. Some of the greatest lyrics ever- "Have you heard the latest news? Lazarus is back from the dead, looking as one would expect- dripping with the waters of Sheol, babbling 'bout body and soul."

If he is the one going through my desk- and I'm sure he is- he didn't react. And the scary thing is that I'm not so sure anyone's going through my desk. I remember making decisions, but I don't remember acting. I'd had my reasons, and the truth seemed to serve them.

La Curandera is a letdown after Ghost. But what wouldn't be? Actual transcripts from the trial of a witch inspired the lyrics to this. Well, cool. Not too bad, really.

So now I'm thinking about whether to change my mind. "Nothing's written in stone yet," he said. My dad was apparently upset too. I'm not too badly positioned for underemployment (and this is what it would be at most.)

WYSIWYG is a driving instrumental, and the last track of the album. It has a heading-to-the-exits feel, but keeps your attention.

So here I am thinking- should I stay or should I go?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger, George

Posted first as a comment here:

I'm half fearing that if we attack Iran this year, it will be this week. I don't really have a rational reason for this fear. It's just that I'm flying to Philadelphia tomorrow for business, and bad things always seem to happen when I'm flying.

Last time I came through Philly, it was the end of Spring Break 2003, and my third trip to Germany. I sat in at the airport bar ordering wings as I watched video of a cavalry troop moving through the red-orange glow of a sandstorm into Southern Iraq; an omen of hubris and evil, I felt.

I'd been a cavalry soldier in the National Guard when I had flown to Germany the second time, in early September of 2001. Less than a week later, a cute German fraulein was trying her level best to convince me to seek asylum rather than go back to the military. I called the US, told the duty Sergeant that if he found me a ride to the fight (wherever and whenever that may be)I'd be there in a second.

The National Guard had thrown me the party that was my first trip to Germany. Two weeks of camping in near-freezing drizzled forests, lugging nearly a hundred pounds of waterlogged gear up and down the mud-slicked Bavarian hills, while back home Rehnquist and four others meddled in things they shouldn't. I was having my own version of fun taking on a Bradley fighting vehicle with a malfunctioning relic of the Vietnam war, the finest legal minds of the US were putting a bunch of malfunctioning Vietnam Chickenhawks into power.

It's funny; it's like that Jungian synchronicity. I can't think of a time I've flown that hasn't been troubled by disaster; at the beginning of my military experience, a Marine PFC flying to Japan as Oklahoma City smoked; from the mainland to Okinawa as the island was on virtual lockdown following the rape of an 11 year old girl.

Like the last, I am now flying nearer to the epicenter of trouble. If I'm in Philly and something goes down, I'll be in Washington in a couple of hours. I think it'll be pretty easy to get a ride. And I'd like to see all of you with me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Case of the Inexplicable Twins

There has been a number of unusual media obsessions over the past few years. The common theme of these cases is that they involve strenuous coverage of stories which many media critics consider unfit for more than a passing mention on national news shows. However, at least some of them share a deep thematic similarity with news stories which are embarrassing to political powers. The difference is who they involve. For instance, as Cindy Sheehan was camped outside George Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, demanding to meet with the President concerning the death of her son in Iraq, the mother of the missing teenage girl Natalee Holloway received obsessive coverage of her quest to force authorities in Aruba to work harder to find her daughter. Another, more timely story are the twin quests of Paris Hilton and Scooter Libby to stay out of jail. Paris was forced to serve part of her time in prison, despite the Sherriff’s decision to allow a term of house arrest in lieu of time in a cell. Libby, on the other hand, had yet to begin his sentence when the President commuted his jail time, with the public explanation that he found the sentence “excessive.”
These incidents may provoke an emotional and moral confusion, of which I sometimes wonder, “Is it intentional?” The story of a mother, seeking closure for a child’s death and her conviction that civil authorities have been negligent or callous in dealing with the situation; the story of a priviliged person, found guilty of a crime and sentenced to jailtime over strenuous objections; Sheehan vs. Holloway and Libby vs. Hilton present deep themeatic similarites. The question is, are there any more of these cases? Are the inexplicable ones, the ones that would not normally rise to the level of obsessional national media coverage, chosen by some conscious mechanism? Or is it an example of subconscious “me-too” behavior, or one-upsmanship among the media? Does this coincidence of stories detract from people’s understanding of the ones that have national import? Are they, intentionally or unintentionally, used as “relief valves” for outrage that may involve the political elites?

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Real Kings of Corruption and Bureauracracy

(At this time, this post is just semi-coherent ranting, a highway rambling to and fro regardless of terrain. I will do my best to edit its route and support its structure. I hope in the end the roadway will be far enough elevated for us to survey the lie of the land, and to realize that its seemingly illogical route had given us at least an unsurpassed tour of the entire region.)

Has anyone noticed what a bunch of crooks and fools nearly our entire ruling class seems to be? From clenching your ass so completely that the only way you could get off is by putting on some sort of wacky-assed mating dance in public bathrooms,, to being so jaw-droppingly delusional, to joining the bully who should rightly be afraid of you in beating the dorky kid in the cafeteria cause you'd rather be seen with a belligerent, half-crazed moron than hang with some weirdo.

But that's just in our Federal Government. That's just among an institution which was designed to be nearly powerless over its own citizens except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. You see, most of the guys who wrote the constitution had more understanding of history and human nature than your average television talking head, all right? So in no circumstances should you allow Fucking Charles Krauthammer's pure bullshit to sway your opinion on anything, no matter what's changed since 1776. We should at least honor their most elevated goal: Freedom of People from Arbitrary Governance.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I Can Has Valid Criticism?*

So when I created this blog, I realized that I probably wouldn't update it much. I just wanted some record of my thoughts to reference. I didn't think I had the energy for more. I was (and still am) devoting much of my limited writing energy and skill into a novel named Byzantion. Some friends lately inspired me to shift into a higher gear, however. I wrote up the beginnings of a synopsis, so I could have an overarching plan to bind together all of the scattered scenes I'd written so far. I realized that it would be beneficial to me, so I'll be posting some things here. One benefit I'd like to see is that SomeOne might comment on my humble prose offerings; but one danger I'd like to avoid is that SomeOne might steal my shit. You see, that guy Someone is an unreliable bastard. I'd rather put my trust in NoOne, who, I'm reliably assured, is my most reliable reader!**

So I'll start posting the synopsis, and maybe later some chapter fragments. If anyone stumbles across this lonely oasis, I hope you might be generous enough to leave a morsel of Valid Criticism for a starving man. (No Snark, though. It tastes rancid. It's made mostly out of shit, you know.***)


A lot of people in this country should feel as if their patriotism, their trust, and their hope have been abused for far too long by swindling third-rate magicians attempting to spin a fantasy of very few words. You’ve heard them all. They made a mask of them: Terrorist. Homeland. Freedom. Like Nylarthotep**** they summoned fearsome phantoms, and mushroom clouds bloomed in our minds. Then the mask slipped, and we saw what it hid: Fear. Lies. Death.

If you’re extremely unlucky, or a poor angry dupe thinking any radioactive material can be centrifuged in a bucket swung overhead, or that two mutually highly reactive liquids could be quickly mixed in the perfect proportion to explode with enough force to down a plane, you could be sent to a place where you learn some new words: Illegal Combatant. Waterboarding. Stress Positions. The prestidigitators of Ideas make also makea few disappear: First Amendment. Habeas Corpus.

That’s why I’m writing Byzantion. I want people to step outside the world they are so deeply attached to. I want them to see that as the tree is twisted, so grows the forest. And our individual ideas which make up our reality are twisted far too often for the benefit of a very few.

Byzantion takes us to the rarefied heights of a society which is twin to ours in such respects, but may seem utterly alien in others. It is an exploration of a world which might have been, as similar to ours as a stranger might resemble an acquaintance when seen from afar.
A vast, secret government project to conquer the problem of missed opportunities, Project Hermes utilizes the most revolutionary technology the near future has to offer in order to spy upon the enemies of the Third Roman Republic’s ruling Blue Party. John, nephew of one of the Party’s elite cadre, is chosen to head the project
Before photographs and video, you only had one chance to witness an event. No one knows what the Crucifixion looked like, for example, though is reproduced in paintings and carvings found worldwide. However, even with the near universal presence of cameras of the most advanced type, important events are often conducted with no record save the memory of participants and witnesses, often factually unreliable, eternally self-centered and unavoidably incomplete.
Hermes solves this problem by taking advantage of speed of light delay times. A spy satellite orbiting Jupiter and aimed at Earth might capture events which occurred an hour beforehand. Hermes’ maximum range is half a light year- they may record video of events that the Republic’s spies might not have been aware of for six months beforehand, i.e.: How did the band of terrorists enter the country several months ago? With whom did the traitor meet before his crime?
Though blind in one eye, John can see into the past itself. And as he finds out, hindsight isn’t always 20/20.

John Trabzeus is the son of George Trabzeus, one of the Republic’s greatest war heroes, and the nephew of one of Thaddeus Baradeus, one of its most powerful Senators. George is immortalized in movies and catchphrases as the bravest of the brave, a man betrayed by his own government and abandoned to death in the fall of the last of the Republic’s overseas possessions, Boston. His memory is carefully stoked by Theodora, his widow, with the aid of nationalist groups and her brother Thaddeus, who uses George’s memory to advance a paradoxical agenda of greed and idealism. Perhaps one is only a tool to serve the other, but which is which? Even Thaddeus doesn’t know.

John feels that his mother and Thad are exploiting his father’s memory, though he dares not confront them. As soon as he is able, he attempts to escape by joining the Army. John tells Theodora not to worry, that the Army will take care of him. She takes this poorly, and is still fuming when he calls her from his first leave following training to beg for her help. He has become stranded in Troy, the Republic’s version of Atlantic City, when he becomes involved in a crooked dice game and his wallet is stolen. He needs money to make it back to base in order to avoid the punishment for Unauthorized Absence (UA): a minimum of five lashes. Theodora refuses, turning his words back upon him: “You said they’d take care of you. So they’ll take care of you.”

Later, I'll post the rest of the synopsis and maybe some chapter fragements.

*Second strip from the bottom.
**Props to that clever fucker Odysseus, that joke's most literally a classic.
***I take the neo-con postition on Snarkers- preemptive war = preventative war. So I'll open hostilities for anyone who was about to snark, but decided to take the time to read the footnote (again, most likely my reliable audience, that righteous dude NoOne*: Thanks for the help, fucko!
****A mysterious, demonic sciento-magician in Lovecraft's short story of the same name. The narrator goes to see his performance, where he heckles Ny (as I like to call him) and is cursed to witness the accelerating decay of space-time, past the heat death of the universe, and the eternal, unbearable vista of 'the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods- the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nylarthotep."


Thursday, April 12, 2007

If they are all out to get you, you can still be paranoid

At the GSA presentation, the agency's chief, Lurita Alexis Doan, according to a witness, demanded of her employees, "How can we use GSA to help our candidates in the next election?" But when the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on March 28, Doan's short-term memory loss grew progressively worse as she spoke. "There were cookies on the table," she said. "I remember coming in late -- honestly, I don't even remember that." At a break, she ordered an assistant to remove her water glass, unaware that the microphone in front of her was still on. "I don't want them to have my fingerprints," she said. "They've got me totally paranoid!"

Hah! That's because the world is out to get you, fruitcake! We've determined that you're not fit for your position, based on things that someone testified, under oath, that you did. If you'd managed to at least mount a cogent defense, it may have inspired mercy. But sitting there and squirming like that, on the verge of flaking out ... It turns my stomach that you were in charge of a major government agency. So you'll have to sit still, child, as the grownups determine whether you should be prosecuted, or simply fired.

Seriously, someone put you in charge of important shit like the government's toilet paper supply? You're exactly what's wrong with the US.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Response to jaw-droppingly hypocritical article on NSC Site

"Instead of listening to the Democratic Party's extreme fringe, Sen. Reid should listen to the Generals who have made clear the consequences facing our military if Democrats in Congress continue to play politics instead of passing an emergency troops funding bill the President can sign."

– White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino, 4/3/07

So there you have it, folks. The White House has made it perfectly, crystal clear to everyone that playing politics shall forever their sole domain. The lesser co-equal branches of government should just keep their rubber stamps at hand and inked.