06 December 2015

Knight Moves

Chivalry just means behaving as if one owned a horse. From the French chevalier, or horseman (knight). If you always move forward in an L-shape, that's a chivalric as you can get.

Image: Knight Moves

17 May 2014

Over Me (Com = Together)

Compassion compromises conviction. The com that begins both compromise and compassion means together, mutual, shared. A mutual promise to jointly bring an end to shared suffering. But if I hold the conviction that your suffering is the product of transgression, to share in that suffering is to share in your guilt. A line must be drawn. We cannot be together; we share nothing. We are not the same. Anyone touched by your suffering, sharing in your pain ceases to be like me. I fear that soon I will be alone.

21 October 2013

Boring Forever

Meaning is dependent on context. The larger something is the harder it is to find a context large enough to place it in so that it may be experienced meaningfully. The infinite is, therefore, intrinsically meaningless. Purpose, the antidote to boredom, is finite—it requires the possibility of completion. Forever is boring.

05 October 2013

(Not On) The Cards

Have a listen to my new song! It's sort of about my book club (also, coffee, playing and/or tarot cards, mass transit, and memoir writing).

Image: Facebook screenshot

Am            G        D
In the coffee house of cards
   C               Em
we tic off all the books we read
        C                Em
through hours we weren’t in our beds
Am                   D    G
paying the night our disregard
and the queen of cups our lucre

   Am              G       D
We wait to see the closing play
C                 Em
gathered together in our pack
    C                  Em
our author’s grip will break our backs
   Am            D       G
we fall into the discard tray
unmarked by an onlooker
I’d like to order coffee
      D       A       E
but I daren’t miss my train

I’d like to order my life
but my brain quakes with the strain
I’d like to order coffee
      D       A       E
but I daren’t miss my bus

I’d like to order my life
        G         A      B (E on repeat)
but not when it’s such a fuss

    Am      G     D
The TV saga of my life
C                   Em
scripts that aren’t yet begun
  C                Em
I can’t see how episode one
      Am            D       G
could find approval from my wife
I can’t see it on the cards

26 May 2013

Sherlock Holmes vs. Hercule Poirot

My response to a fun discussion prompt on the Draper Library Facebook page:

Facebook screenshot

Sherlock Holmes is more likely to settle on an incorrect solution. Holmes begins by thinking up all possible solutions to a problem and then goes out looking for clues that invalidate one of those solutions until only one possible solution remains. In the rare event of the actual solution not having occurred to him as a possibility, he can be completely wrong. Hercule Poirot slowly builds up a picture in his mind of all that has happened. He might fail to arrive at a solution, but he would be unlikely to endorse an erroneous one.

Poirot would be out of his depth if faced with a supervillain, such as Holmes's Moriarty, whose intelligence rivaled his own. Poirot tends to gather much of his data through conversations with suspects. A murderer aware of Poirot's methods would likely not find it too difficult to keep Poirot from the truth. Poirot probably wouldn't face up too well to physical peril, either: if Hercule Poirot tumbles over Reichenbach Falls, he's not coming back.

20 November 2012

The Laughter of Lucifer

Image: Christians warned not to say 'LOL'

Armed as I am with a working knowledge of Satanism gleaned from extensive study of British horror films of the 60s and 70s, I was immediately able to discern the spurious nature of the advice posted above. The traditional English Satanist ends a prayer with the words, "So mote it be," a somewhat archaic rendering into English of the Hebrew term "Amen." Satan has long encouraged his followers to commune with him in their native tongues, as God rarely takes the time to learn new languages and hasn't bothered with anything since He taught himself Latin two thousand years ago, hence the Catholic resistance to presenting Mass in any other language. Jesus, of course, speaks fluent English, as he lived there for a number of years with his wife, and there is a pool of angels that translates prayers from the various world languages so that God may answer them, but there is a lag time involved in the answering of any prayers not initially submitted in Hebrew, Arabic, or Latin. Particularly when dealing with time sensitive requests to the Almighty, such as those invocations required to complete an exorcism, it is advisable to present the requests in a form that will immediately be understood: thus, the coded admonition LOL has been spread across the internet to remind all true Christians that everyone should speak Latin (Loqui omnes Latine). The message above is an attempt by the forces of Satan to prevent the survival of the LOL warning online. If believers allow themselves to be fooled, Satan will be the one laughing out loud.

(Thanks to Shawn Bliss for bringing the image above to my attention.)

08 November 2012

The Undead in My Bed

Image: book cover art

We've been playing a lot of Plants vs. Zombies at my house lately. I've caught myself singing "There's a Zombie on Your Lawn" quietly to myself several times at work this week. And then I saw this book. And I started wondering how an erotic variation on the Plants vs. Zombies theme might play out.

Are the zombies intent on making use of other parts of my body and not just my brains? Do I cover my bed with dirty socks, piles of laundry, library books, sex toys, etc. to impede the progress of the undead? Perhaps there are zombie eating bacteria which can protect my body if I allow myself to come in contact with another carrier?

Sadly, I suspect this book contains no answers to these questions. Here's what the book's really about. Apparently one of the included novellas is entitled Shades of Gray. Everybody's using that title nowadays, occasionally even for stories outside the erotica genre. The current popularity of gray has given me another idea: a mutated version of mononucleosis is threatening to wipe out the human race and everyone in the world is having to refrain from kissing. Our heroine, a brilliant chemist, develops a metallic lipstick that allows her to safely kiss the infected and, in doing so, cure them. The story will be called "Monochrome."

The Undead in My Bed is available on Amazon.com (in case you think I make this stuff up). I mean, I do, but only some of it.

04 November 2012

Overlooking the Sea with a Victim of Sad Courage

I took my first trip in an airplane recently. Though it was slightly scary, I was a lot less frightened than I expected to be. I was able to look out the window at the ocean below with barely a twinge. As such, I have come to the conclusion that I am not so much terrified of heights as I am of edges.

On reflection, my reaction to bridges and steep mountain trails seems to run along more OCD-like lines: I suspect that I suffer from the unease that results from ignoring the compulsion to step over the edge.

11 May 2012

Browsing Brevard

Copies of The Complete Kama Sutra are available through the Cocoa Beach, Mims/Scottsmoor, Palm Bay and Titusville branches. Also up for grabs countywide: Fanny Hill, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Fear of Flying, Tropic of Cancer and Lolita.

So what makes Fifty Shades of Grey different?

“I think because those other books were written years ago and became classics because of the quality of the writing,” Schweinsberg said. “This is not a classic.”

—"Brevard libraries pull erotic best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey" by Britt Kennerly

I am glad to see that they stock the classics in Brevard. As badly as Schweinsberg comes off above, I'd have to agree that Fifty Shades is no Lolita. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to search the Brevard County catalog for Laura Reese. There are copies of both Panic Snap and Topping from Below in their system. Sure, both are still probably better written than Grey, but it's a close enough comparison to demonstrate conclusively that the librarians in Brevard are either hypocrites or simply make no effort whatsoever to ascertain what the books they buy are about before they put them on the shelves.

Screenshot of Brevard County Library's online catalog

Incidentally, I once bought a copy of Topping from Below off the book sale at my public library. I hollowed out the inside and tucked my wife's Christmas present inside the book, then I wrapped the book and put it under the tree. I saw a copy of Panic Snap on the sale cart just the other day.

05 April 2012

Certain Death Below

Graffiti above the freeway

Sometimes I ride the bus to work. To get to the bus stop, I have to cross a bridge over the freeway. I loathe it. My stomach feels as if I'm already falling and the phantom pain of impact spreads through my limbs as I quickly make my way toward solid space. A few feet to my right, on the other side of the flimsy-looking chain link fence that—if luck holds the fence will—might keep me from death if ever I were to stumble, a pipe-like structure runs parallel to my bridge. In the absolute dead center of that structure, some damn fool has managed to paint a purple tag. Is there some way it could have been painted from the bridge or did the tagger have to climb out there? It would be relatively simple, if foolhardy, to climb onto the edge of the structure, but about a third of the way to the center a semi-hexagonal barrier of barbed wire blocks further progress. There is an accompanying red tag far below the purple one, my mind insists; also, I am the tag. I suffer through the endless traffic crushing my bones to powder until the rains come and wash the stain away. I arrive on the other side of the bridge and proceed to the bus stop.

18 March 2012

The Science Behind the Syringe

Sen. Margaret Dayton, co-sponsor of the bill, said she was disappointed the governor hadn’t contacted her to discuss his concerns and said teaching children about contraception is comparable to telling kids not to do drugs, then showing them how to "mainline" heroin.

The Salt Lake Tribune, "Herbert vetoes sex-ed bill, says it constricts parental choice" written by Robert Gehrke and Lisa Schencker

Sex education is probably a good thing, but what our children really need to be taught is how to think properly. Obviously, Senator Dayton's assertion that combining a message about the benefits of abstinence until marriage with education about the use of contraception is akin to combining a message about the benefits of saying no to drugs with education about the use of various drug paraphernalia is way off the mark. When we encourage our children to say no to drugs, we do not mean that they should say no until they find a reputable dealer with whom to enter into an exclusive contract. If they are saying no properly, they will never need to know how to prepare to inject heroin into their veins; however, I do not suspect that an improved understanding of the science behind the syringe would significantly increase anyone's desire to indulge in narcotic oblivion.

Conversely, saying no to sex is not meant to be a lifelong thing. We expect our children to have sex (even if we may rather not spend too much time thinking about it—a feeling which, assuredly, is quite mutual). The goal is simply to ensure that the sex they engage in is safe: that they are protected from disease, unwanted pregnancy, and spiteful others (whether they be fellow mortals or avenging superbeings). There are, of course, different schools of thought concerning which methods of keeping sex safe are most effective (the biblical advice—1 Corinthians 7—is to ensure that anyone likely to succumb to sexual urges is safely married sooner rather than later; perhaps we could just have the kids in sex ed pair off boy-girl and have a priest visit the class) but it's foolish to ignore all but a single preferred approach; one is always better off with a larger arsenal of available tools. If one wished to educate children to protect themselves against attack by vampires, it might be sensible to focus on the protective power of the cross, but not to the point of neglecting to even mention the efficacy of strands of garlic or pounding a stake through the creature's heart.

Knowledge is the power our children need to protect themselves. It is vital not only that we trust them enough to allow them access to it, but that we train their brains to be able to contain it. They may grow up to be senators; we don't want them convincing themselves of ham-fisted analogies and forcing our grandchildren's lives to conform to them.

17 March 2012

What is it with Zombies and Brains?

We talk about it today as if it is some feat of magic, like holy water or a silver bullet, but why wouldn't destruction of the brain be the only way to annihilate these creatures? Isn't it the only way to annihilate us as well?

—Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

My book club is reading World War Z this month. I had a hard time getting into it, but I made some progress in it today. Anyway, the thought struck me, after I read the excerpt above, that if zombification were to be caused by some parasitic organism—rather than a virus (or mysterious alien ray, or what have you)—then the brain could be quite superfluous to requirements and the resulting zombie would likely be even harder to kill.

Some sort of semi-intelligent fungus that grew on the spinal cord and cut off life support to the brain could take over the body. Without the brain, I suspect the lurking mushroom would not be able see, hear, smell, or taste, but it could feel, being directly wired into the nervous system. If the body was no longer generating its own heat, the zombie could quite possibly detect the heat of living humans moving nearby.

Fire would be the only way to destroy this zombie; conveniently, it's not inconceivable that it would be attracted to it, not unlike a moth. A moth that will bite holes in more than just your sweater.

Additional reading: