Give Me Fire

The air outside has a slight chill to it.  No trace of a breeze.  The sky is just starting to brighten.  It's about 5:17 in the morning.  Friday.  I'm outside taking in the silence, coffee cup in hand.  I haven't turned on the cell phone or the computer.  I haven't done any of my usual morning rituals other than the coffee.  I'm just taking in the silence, thinking of how I would so very much like to live in a world without the sounds of cars, planes and people whining about Obama or how excited they are to see Green Lantern.

A truck goes by on its way to Safeway.  I hear this truck almost every day.  The illusion is destroyed.  Time to go inside and take a shower, boot up Pinhead and my cell and try to get some writing done before I go to my job.  I encounter an e-mail from a female friend telling me she likes when I run pictures of women with weapons.  Here's a throat-slitting one for you, from The Road Warrior, a great film that has yet to be matched in pure spectacle.

A line from the e-mail catches my eye.  "You're always fun to read when you write something when you're angry."  It's an awkward sentence at best, but I get the meaning behind it.  I've been told that before.  Anger inspires greatness, I guess.  Give me fire, right?

There's plenty to be angry about these days.  Politicians who make better speed bumps than legislators.  A capitalistic world that seems dangerously ignorant of the path it is taking when it comes to the environment.  Libya.  The attacks on unions.  The debt ceiling.  People who claim every earthquake is yet another sign that 2012 is real.  The list goes on and on.

I've been fairly silent on most of these things lately.  It's not that I don't care about them.  I do.  I just have this "sit back and wait" attitude because I get this funny feeling that some of this shit is going to bite people in the ass, and that actually cracks me up a bit.  (In all fairness, I have been encouraging people who believe in 2012 to give up their jobs and possessions.  I figure if they fall for prophecies they'll fall for anything and why not speed up their extinction.)  I do take some perverse pleasure in people being made to pay for their follies.  Schadenfreude.  Beautiful word from a beautiful language.

I'm sure the anger will return, and knowing me it'll be back in no time flat.  Today, though, I don't have the energy for it.  Lack of sleep and some nasty allergies have taken the piss out of me.  Bitterness and sarcasm, my allies, will be back in full force in the very near future.  Until they return, however, I'll be satisfied by mere observation.


Choking on a Telephone Line

I bought a new phone.  That's really not what I wanted to write about.  What I wanted to write about, I won't out of respect for the people involved.  All I'll say is that the lives of two very dear friends have changed, and all I could think about while talking to the one half of the couple was that line in one of Rollins' songs.  "Life will not break your heart/It will crush it."

Instead I'll write of the phone.

I'm not a huge fan of cell phones, smart phones or "your little vibrating friend in your pocket" (you know what I mean, ladies).  They cause distractions while driving, interrupt work, give assholes an inflated sense of self at the movies and in restaurants.  They have their uses, however, and one of those is uses is to send topless pictures of yourself to some guy who will inevitably post them on some website he thinks you'll never see (and you won't).

They're also good for when your car breaks down.

I needed a new one.  My cell phone battery wouldn't hold a charge for a call, and I couldn't receive topless pictures.  Now, I could buy a new battery, and I tried.  I went everywhere, including that little kiosk in the mall run by some woman from an Eastern European country.  Nothing.  They no longer make batteries for my rotary dial cell phone.

I called my provider to find out if I could stay on the same plan.  He informed me I could if I bought a certain phone, so I set out to find that phone.  That phone, it should be noted, has been discontinued.  So not only was my cell phone old, but so was my plan.  So old, in fact, that the only phone it would work on was old.

Which leads me to the Rumor Touch.  This phone, which sounds like a strange, arty porn film, was the only one whose price didn't cause my testicles to pull up inside my stomach. As the box assured me, though, I could do just about everything with it.  Everything except get my provider to activate the fucking thing.

The sales clerk offered to do it at the store, but I had no time for such nonsense.  I proudly declared I'd "do it at home, mofo."  And I tried.  I tried doing it online.  I got an error message for all my troubles telling me to call the provider.  So I did.  After navigating through a phone tree system that would cause Columbus to get lost, I learned that the service center was closed (apparently there are some giant companies that don't operate a 24 hour service center these days) and that I should try to activate my phone on the web.  It was almost like I was stuck in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure written by an obsessive compulsive crack addict.

I tried the web again ... and it worked!  Shit the bed!  Well, at least it looked like it worked.  I could place a call, take a call, and messaging has been sporadic ... I think (my peeps don't always respond in a timely manner, yo).  I took a picture.  That worked.  I haven't tried to go on Facebook or receive a picture yet, but I expect no problems.

So I have a new phone.  A Rumor Touch, which fits my lifestyle of touching things and vibrating.  The best part?  I can get those topless pictures ... I just hope my mother, who has recently discovered the joys of texting and sending pictures through the phone, doesn't accidentally send me one of those.  If she does, I'll make it her contact picture and show all my friends.

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Family and Other Threats to a Child's Health

Recently, McKinleyville, CA was shocked by a crime. A woman is found wandering around naked with abrasions.  She is incoherent.  Doesn't know how she got to where she was or why she was naked.  (This is actually not the first time something like this has happened in the area, by the way.  The rest of the story is new for our region, however.)  The police suspect she has a child, but there is no child with her.  They found the woman's vehicle, and they found items that appeared to have been tossed out of it over a ten mile stretch, including items belonging to a child.

Police begin searching for the woman's daughter.  The woman is of little help at first, but then memories start coming back.  Soon the two-year-old girl is found, dead in a river.  Her mother drowned her.  Obviously, this is disturbing.  Jump forward to this weekend.

I'm with my daughter as she preps to march in a parade.  I'm marching with her.  Another parent is at the meeting place with her daughter.  Eventually the mother says, "I'm going to go off to find a vantage point for the parade.  Can she just stay here with you?"

I didn't say "no," though I was stunned a mother would just leave her daughter with me, a stranger.  Oh, the mother never bothered to get my cell phone number ... or my name.  She had known me all of twenty minutes and had said all of eight sentences to me before she got the wonderful idea to leave her child in my possession.  My daughter thought it was strange, and I had to assure her that I would never leave her with a stranger like that.

Am I wrong in finding this odd?

I'm not one to abuse a child.  This woman didn't know that, however.  She didn't know my name, where I lived, anything.  Suppose I had done something to her kid?  What would she tell the police?  "I left her at the flagpole, officer, with some guy.  No, I don't know his name or his number or where he lives.  I can give you a description.  Middle-aged, white, shaved head, goatee."  That's the description of just about every white criminal out there.  That would be fun for the cops trying to figure that one out.

Strangers are obviously a threat to children.  I think we tend to ignore that family is a huge threat, too.  They are an even more insidious threat because your family is supposed to keep you safe.  When the people you trust with your life and safety turn on you it's terrifying.

The McKinleyville woman who drowned her child has mental problems.  It's not an excuse for doing the crime; it's the reason.  I feel for the child's family,  but I have no sympathy for the mother.  People can question what happened and why all they want, but it doesn't change the outcome one damn bit.  The woman at the parade was lucky (as was her daughter) that I'm not a pedophile or murderer.  She took a chance, though.  A huge chance.  She trusted the safety of what should be the love of her life with someone she had zero clue about.  All for a good seat at the parade.  If that isn't the definition of reckless, I don't know what the word means.  I just hope her kid questions her about that someday.  I'd like to know what answer the mom would give.  To me, there is no justifying it.  There's only apologizing and being thankful her little girl didn't end  in a bad way, too.  What are people thinking?


The Dying Light

As I write this, I'm sitting in a recliner by my window.  The sun is going down.  A few stray birds are out in the tree making noise.  Every once in a while I vehicle drives by, tires hissing on the road.  I've just spent the past hour or so working on the cannibal manuscript, getting it ready for Kindle.  The two short stories on there sell, not a lot, but they sell.  I think the novel will do better.

I had music playing while I edited it.  Old blues.  Very old blues.  It didn't totally fit the story, but the songs can be creepy, and that did fit the vibe.  Old country music would've been better, but I don't exactly have that sitting around.

The novel was with a publisher for quite some time. In the end, it was with it for too long, and I yanked it.  A six month wait time had grown into a year, and when I put it on Kindle I not only eliminate the middleman, but I'm also free to continue to shop it around, which I may do depending on sales.  Selling a few thousand copies will be splendid.  Even a few hundred will cause me to celebrate.  Sell enough, and I'll be able to focus on the writing one hundred percent.  No, Kindle is not ideal (especially since I don't own one and have no desire to change that), but it does make the work available, which is the main goal.

The light outside continues to die.  My back, thanks to a run-in with the recycling container, is screaming at me for a hot soak, which I think should happen.  I want to forge on, though.  Get this novel up and available.  I'm finding it hard to concentrate, though, as my back is at a pain level of twelve and feels quite unlike its normal pain, which has become a hard friend over the past decade or so.

Maybe I'll soak soon.  Water as hot as humanly tolerable.  Jets on.  Muscles fighting to relax.  I'm at a good scene, however.  A scene where a legless man describes just what type of hell my protagonist is in for.  It's one of my favor encounters in the story.  It was also the part I had the hardest time writing.  Maybe I'll mull it over as my skin turns lobster red.  Or maybe I'll just press on ... and hope I can get out of bed in the morning.

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Abattoir: The World as Religion's Slaughterhouse

I long ago stopped arguing religion.  I put it into my personal dustbin and decided that debating the merits of organized religion was up there with debating the reality of Stephen King's Christine.  In other words: utterly pointless.  Fact won't change fate, and after a while I had no interest in trying.  I actually don't care about people's faith or lack of it.  Religion bothers me, however, when it starts to become policy.  When laws are made around religion, and groups are ostracized (or worse), is right when religion needs to be debated and dragged kicking and screaming into the era of rational thought and logical laws and policies.

Recently, some geriatric preacher predicted the end of the world in a proclamation that was like porno for believers.  He had predicted it something like four times before, and the last time the prediction didn't come true he claimed he had messed up the dates.  When the world didn't end on 5/21/11 he rationalized it away with the same lack of logic.  All well and good, except people slashed their kids throats, jumped from buildings and quit jobs and left families because some AARP reject said the end was here.

It's a claim that's been made time and time again.  The end is nigh.  On X date the world will end.  A book tells us so.  A vision tells us so.  Some guy in a bad suit said it, so it must be true.  Honestly, I don't care if people believe this crap.  Some guy jumps off a building because of the random mumblings of someone he doesn't even know, well, the world is probably better off without him.  Kids getting their throats slit is horrible and tragic, but since we, as a society, has agreed that such a strong faith is a reasonable thing .... How can you expect any less?

When people have faith (a belief) in something they can't prove exists, you run into these situations.  I think faith can be a powerful thing.  It does lead to good sometimes.  It gets people through hard times.  It also makes them susceptible to behavior that is utterly insane to the rational-minded.  You believe one crazy thing, you'll easily fall for another, and once you are lock-step in the psychotic swirl, you accept the values of that swirl all the more readily.  You believe in God, you start to believe you can be punished for certain thoughts or behavior.  You start to believe that, you start to believe a society can be punished.  You start to believe that, and then you start to believe you don't want to be around for that punishment.  You start to believe that, and slitting your kid's throat so that they won't have to around for it, either, seems humane.  That is logical, and it makes perfect sense ... if you follow a flawed path.  It won't happen to everyone (not everyone is a leader, but the majority of the population are followers and even apologists), but it happens to enough people.  Faith leaves the door open, and anything can get in.  Just ask the followers of Charles Manson.  They were nuts, right?  How does that differ from any other religion?  The amount of bloodshed?  Check your history.  The fact that they were hippies?  Check your idols.  The fact that Manson said the end was coming and tried to hasten it along?  Yeah, religion never did that.

Again, I avoid arguing religion.  I don't care that people have faith.  I'm actually happy that a lot of people do.  It keeps some of the rabble under control.  If the faith turns their lives into their own personal abattoir, then that's fine with me, too.  If it allows them to build houses in Mexico, that's just as good.  Once it starts to invade my life, though, I start to take it a little personally.

Come October, the new end of the world, we'll probably see much the same thing.  The creepy old preacher from Poltergeist 2 will be spouting his nonsense.  The people who fell for it last time will fall for it again.  More people will quit their jobs.  More people will deplete their savings.  And more moms will slit the throats of their young.  It's all pretty harmless, right?  Yeah.  Until they get their hands on some nerve gas and decide to speed things along ...

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