Archive for February, 2006

Death Of A Character

February 24, 2006

A character I created in 1990 died recently. I’m not certain if ‘died’ is the correct term. It’s a little hard to talk about, because in every sense except the important one she still exists to me. Her name was Stace Carmichael, and she was a character in two novels in progress of mine. In one novel as a baby, and the other as an adult.

I will call my books BOOK 1 and BOOK 2 to avoid people stealing the titles before they are published. BOOK 2 was a ensemble originally, and Stace was one of the characters, but over time the story got trimmed down more and more until it only featured two characters directly, and Stace was not one of them. It didn’t bother me. Her story would be told elsewhere, I figured. BOOK 1 takes place in late 1973 when Stace was a baby, and just this week I realized that my one main problem with the story, without realizing it, was Stace’s plotline. It seemed to weigh the story down, and turn it into soap opera, which is the LAST thing I wanted. After much consideration and deliberation I decided to cut Stace out of the book. Vivian, her mother in the story, has no child. Stace now ceases to exist.

True, I could still use the name Stace, and the same basic character personality in another story, but it wouldn’t be the same. Obviously you don’t know what I’m talking about fully, and I wouldn’t be able to go into all the details here, but Vivian being her mother and what Vivian does was always a HUGE part of what Stace was, and what she came to be. Without Vivian being her mother, she simply is not Stace Carmichael, no matter how I may attempt to deceive myself.

She is gone, and yet she lives on inside my head. To me, she isn’t really dead at all. I can consult her whenever I choose, converse with her when I like, write stories which still figure in that old timeline for my own amusement, but for all intents and purposes she is gone. Deceased.

And strangely, I mourn for her. She feels both alive and dead like Schrodinger’s Cat.

Stace Carmichael, 1990-2006

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There Are No Words Except:

February 23, 2006

I will remember.

How To Identify A Greyface

February 16, 2006

I awoke in the hospital following a severe beating. Evangelism and Discordianism do not mix well, a fact I had not yet discovered in those early days of my Lessons in Baloney, as a result I had taken to the streets to spread the word of the Sacred Chao only to be met with fists in response. These are violent times. All times are violent times. I tried to take heart in the fact that ‘Eris’ literally translated to ‘strife’, which I was becoming intimately acquainted with, so in some sense the beatings must have a positive effect. My cheeks and jaw, however, did not agree. Also,I knew that my reason for being in the hospital was to learn about the dreaded Greyfaces, so I was somewhat optimistic.

It was after one of these instances that I woke up in the hospital next to a broken egg which spoke. “Howdy-do” it said, raising a thin weak arm in salute.

“Great Googly Moogly” I said.

“Nope.” the egg said. “Great Humpty Dumpty.”

“Jeez, you don’t look good.” I said, which was perhaps rude, but also true. He was in several pieces; in fact one eye peered at me from a fragment, and the other eye on a completely different piece seemed to pay close attention to a nearby nurse’s hind quarters.

“I feel even better,” he said with glee.

“Why are you in here?” I asked.

“Ha!” the egg cried. “What a ridiculously easy riddle, you must be some sort of maroon. I am in here because this is where I am, of course. How stupid.”

“I meant to say, what caused you to be broken into pieces?”

“If that’s what you meant to say, then why didn’t you say it?”

“I thought I had.” I replied.

“You remembered yourself saying what you thought you said? or you had intended to say what you thought you said but something else completely different came out? or you think someone deliberately changed your words mid-sentence to convey a completely different idea? or you’re just a maroon?”

I considered for a few moments.

“Well?” he asked. “Which is it?”

“I thought that what I asked implied the question I meant to ask.”

“Ohhhh,” the egg laughed. “Implication. Verbal molestation.”

This seemed to end the conversation, and the egg simply lay on the stretcher, one eye following the nurse, and the other blinking now and then. I waited for a few minutes to see whether he was lost in thought and was planning to answer, or whether the conversation was indeed over.

It seemed the conversation was over, but I still wanted to know how he had been broken. I had ideas, but I wanted the story from him.

“Well?” I asked finally.

The eye looked back at me. “That’s not much of a riddle.” he said. “nice sporting chance you gave me.”

“But, I -“

“Wait wait, let me think for a moment.” he said. “All right, bananas.”

” What about bananas?”

“That’s my answer.”

“You’re answer to WHAT?”

“To your terrible riddle. Really, you didn’t give me much to go on. I think my answer was rather clever, though, didn’t you? Nobody would guess bananas just from a single word – well, would they? Gosh I’m good. Was it correct? Was bananas the answer?”

“No bananas wasn’t the fucking answer! I hadn’t even asked you a question yet you silly little shit.”

“Of course you had. You really are stupid. You asked “Well?” which by all accounts is the worst riddle I’ve ever heard in my entire life but still I was respectful enough to venture an answer based on the meagre information given. And as I said, I think my answer was rather clever. Bananas. Imagine. Nobody would guess that. Fantastic.”

“Listen.” I said. “All I wanted to know is what caused you to be broken into so many pieces. It is not such a difficult question.”

“No, it isn’t.” he said. “It’s not overly interesting either, when you think about it. After all, I already know the answer.”

“Well, what IS it?”

“Bananas!” the egg blurted. “What about that time? Was that the right answer? Oh I am so good at these.”

“Forget it.” I said, turning away from him. “I already know how you broke anyway, everyone knows that.”

“Yet, you still asked. You silly silly man.”

“Look,” I said. “The whole point of this story was to teach me about the Greyfaces. Weren’t you paying attention in the opening paragraph?”

“I rarely read exposition.” he yawned. “I mostly scan the text looking for my name.”

“Well, that is what this story was supposed to be about, greyfaces, and instead you have nattered on about riddles and bananas and whatever else meaningless bullshit you’ve been blabbering uselessly about. This has been a complete and utter waste of time so far, thank you very much.”

“You are most welcome.” Humpty said with a wink. At least I think it was a wink, the piece with the other eye had shifted away from my view. “This lesson about Greyfaces has been most enlightening.”

“No it has not. Nobody has learned anything about Greyfaces thanks to you. This has been a huge waste of time.”

“But we got to meet such a wonderful example of Greyfacedness, and all have a good chuckle at how dull and tedious he is, oh I disagree I think this has been loads of fun, and so educational. Except for that riddle of yours, that was dreadful.”

I got up on one elbow and looked over at the mass of pieces on the other stretcher. “What Greyface have we met?” I asked.

“Why you, you silly silly man.” he laughed. “You have been nothing but serious, clinical and humourless since I met you. I’ve never seen such a wonderful example of a Greyface. I couldn’t have done better myself. And I’m rather good. Bravo.”

“Me?!” I rolled onto my back again. Was it possible I could be a greyface? Was I so serious? Was I clinical? Was I humourless? Had I learned nothing? Staring up at the ceiling I began to think about the aspects of greyfaces and how -at the very leat- I could watch for these tendencies in myself more easily now that I could identify them, and just as I was wondering whether my clinical thinking about identifying and eradicating these elements in myself was rather greyfaced in its own way the ceiling above me crashed open and a charred person fell to the ground between Humpty and myself.

“Great Googly Moogly!” I screamed.

“Nope.” the egg said. “Great Humpty Dumpty.”

The charred person stood up and looked at me. “Great Googly Moogly!” he shouted.

“Nope.” the egg said. “Great Humpty Dumpty.”

“You’re ME!” the charred person exclaimed, and I finally noticed that the voice sounded familiar. “I already went through all this!” he, or I, shouted, looking around at Humpty and the hospital. “but, you were me then!” he added.

“I’m just me.” I said.

“I am me and me and me and me and me and me.” Humpty giggled.

Just as I was about to ask the other me why I was so charred and burnt a man in a grey suit and sunglasses came marching down the hall toward the three of us. As he approached us he flashed a shiny gold badge. “Officer Serious, Continuity Officer. You are in direct violation of standard fiction laws.”

“What?” I asked, although I’m not certain which one of me asked to be perfectly honest.

“Two Baron von Hooplas is in direct violation of code 2323 in the fiction law books, go look it up if you don’t believe me.” as he spoke he grabbed hold of the gurney I was on, and began to push it.

“But wait, why is this-” I started to ask.

“If the two Baron von Hooplas both had some reason for being present, such as a clone being made, or a reflection stepping from a mirror it would get through on a technicality, but this is in direct violation. I’m sorry, one of you must go.” he said, and began to wheel me down the hall away from me and Humpty Dumpty.

“Toodles!” Humpty called, waving a thin arm.

“But wait!” I called out to Mr. Serious. “I was the original Baron von Hoopla in the story!”

As he tapped a wall and a panel slid aside opening into a dimly lit lounge, he muttered: “That’s what they all say, bub.”

He pushed me inside and I saw four people already sitting around in the gloom. “Let me introduce you to your new friends. Might as well get acquainted, you’re going to be here for a while . . . this is Ambrose Bierce, Lord Bathurst, Amelia Earheart, and the grown Lindburgh Baby. Get cozy. So long, suckers.”

Mr. Serious walked out, shutting the panel behind him. I looked around at the others in the room. Ambrose smiled, and said “Do you play Go Fish?”

More Eris At Work

February 15, 2006

The British Sun is reporting that a director is looking to star Paris Hilton in the Mother Theresa Story, as the famous nun herself. Need I say more?

The No-Prize

February 12, 2006

Anyone who read Marvel comics in the 1970s and 1980s is familiar with the concept of the No-Prize. In a nutshell the No-Prize was a fictitious award handed out to fans who noticed mistakes in the stories, but instead of admitting them as mistakes created clever reason why it wasn’t really a mistake at all.

An example might be Wolverine in an X-Men comic being drawn in the middle of a fight pounding someone without his claws, when in the panels before and after his claws had been extended. A suitable answer worthy of the No-Prize would have been that Wolverine’s claws periodically become dulled and need to be retracted and popped out again to regain sharpness.

Intelligent? No. Possible? Perhaps.

All around us these days you will find people answering No-Prizes without even getting an empty envelope in the mail for their troubles.

—–Fundie X-tians are foiled by dinosaur bones when believing the world to be only 6000 years old? No problem! Jews buried the bones in the 1920s!

—–Government documents about Roswell show that it was indeed bits and pieces of a top secret weather balloon aren’t as fun as believing in crashed UFO’s? No problem! The government forged the documents!

—–Someone crashed a couple planes into some big buildings, but we don’t know who? Forget it! It was Saddam, and he has WOMD!

I propose that Discordians revive the tradition of the No-Prize and send them out to all the people who use specious reasoning to satiate themselves.

Emotion: Intellect’s Retarded Little Brother

February 10, 2006

Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary. ~Mark Twain

The emotions aren’t always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action. ~William James

You are, of course, a robot. Don’t bother denying it. If you weren’t, you would have complete control of your entire body at all times, both physical aspects and mental. But, you do not. You are governed to varying degrees by a strange group we call ‘Emotions’.

These emotions sit inside your skull watching everything you do and edit the information before processing it through your brain. No information reaches you unaltered.

For this reason all intelligence you receive from the outside world is skewed in some direction away from what we often refer to as ‘objective truth’. The old adage ‘garbage in, garbage out’ is especially relevant in this situation, and because of this skewed view we always react to situations in a slightly off-kilter manner; some more inaccurately than others, but none are immune.

“Is there any hope of eradicating this disease and becoming like Vulcans?” I hear you ask. Probably not. In fact, I don’t think I would want to live in a world completely devoid of emotions. Complete lack of emotion is just as dangerous as being completely controlled by emotion.

“So what can we do?” I hear you ask. Become aware of your emotions. Observe your emotions and how they manipulate you. Go out and get in an argument. Get into a fist fight. See how you react when a fist comes into contact with your jaw. Were you able to think clearly afterwards?

The more you observe your emotions and become familiar with them the easier it will be to identify them in a hostile situation. Once you are keenly aware of your emotions it is much easier to observe them with something close to objectivity. Once you can observe the emotions with something close to objectivity it will be much harder for them to completely take over your mind and become blinded by them.

Interview With Eris

February 7, 2006

BARON VON HOOPLA: I am very happy to be interviewing today the Goddess of Chaos, Confusion, Calamity, and dinky cars: Eris Nancy Discordia. Welcome, Eris.

ERIS NANCY DISCORDIA: Thanks, Hoops.

BVH: Eris, doing my research I found that there weren’t really a lot of ancient legends which depicted you. In fact, I could only find two. Why do you think that was?

END: I could put the blame on Athena or Aphrodite, but we all know the real blame goes on Pan. He got all the gods and goddesses to convince the Greeks that my stories were too fascinating and witty, so they destroyed all copies. Eventually only a couple Bazooka Joe comics were left discarded in Dionysus’s temple which depicted the two legends now available.

BVH: Seriously?

END: Nope.

BVH: Ah, right. Ok, do you think it has anything to do with Gregory Hill and Kerry Thornley’s idea that the Greeks had a warped idea of what Discord is?

END: No, they knew exactly what Discord was; they just didn’t like it.

BVH: Seriously?

END: Maybe.

BVH: Ok. There is a lot of arguing with modern Discordians as to whether or not what you are currently representing is true Discordianism. Some think that modern Discordianism is all clowns and roller-coasters instead of violence and bloodshed and rioting. Which is true?

END: You’re still caught up on true? The problem is that you all think there is a difference. Comedy is Discordianism because it is discordant. Comedy ruffles feathers. And besides, all the other stuff which you describe as violence and bloodshed is always funny to someone. I see no better symbol for Discordianism than a roller-coaster derailing.

BVH: What about the enormous disasters which have been plaguing the world in the last few years?

END: What about them?

BVH: Well, I see a lot of Discordians reacting to the disasters in a rather negative way . . . it seems almost like a lot of them forget that the disasters are pretty much Discord in action.

END: What do you expect? A party?

BVH: No, but it seems strange to me that people who consider themselves followers of Discord being upset or surprised by these disasters.

END: People will always be dismayed by large displays of Discord, if only because humans are naturally adverse to change of any sort. I see no reason why a so-called Discordian should embrace disasters; acknowledging that they are natural and necessary is much more than most others ever do.

BVH: Many consider the central lesson of the Principia Discordia to be that we are truly free; but there are some who seem to take this lesson as permission to act like a completely selfish prick, do you regret that lesson now?

END: First, it wasn’t my lesson; it was Mal2’s filtered through Greg Hill’s brain. I just gave Mal2 the idea. At any rate, those who take the lesson as permission to be a selfish prick are at best being lazy, and at worst being intentionally deceptive. The freedom is freedom from your standard conventions. For example, paper is a reality, would you agree?

BVH: Yes.

END: And printing presses are a reality. BUT, and here is the important part, money is a social fiction. You are enslaved by money only if you choose to be.

BVH: But, isn’t the only way not to be enslaved by money to be homeless or to move to a deserted island.

END: That is not for me to say. That’s where the freedom enters into the picture. You are only repressed by your own mind.

BVH: What acts of Discord are you most proud of?

END: When frozen shit from airplanes falls from the sky to crush people. It’s lowbrow, but it gives me fits of giggles.

BVH: And what pisses you off most?

END: The depiction of me on the television show Xena. I’m still thinking of a really good vindictive way to smite the people who created and worked on that show. Look forward to the ‘Curse Of Xena’ soon.

BVH: Speaking of Xena, that reminds me of Hercules, which reminds me of the only other legend I could find about you, it concerned a conversation you had with Heracles. It seems that you offered him to travel down your path and lead a life of strife and struggle, or he could go down the path of Sloth and lead an easy and lazy life. He picked the path of Eris. Why do you think that is?

END: You already know the answer to that question.

BVH: True. Well, I thank you for the opportunity to let me ask you these questions. Anything else you want to add before we finish?

END: I just wanted to say hi to Athena and Aphrodite, and ask them to ponder how many followers they still have these days.

BVH: There you have it folks, Eris Nancy Discordia, still petty after all these years.

Over A Cartoon?

February 6, 2006

So, over the weekend a cartoon incited hundreds of people to go berserk and riot.

Sounds like Eris at work to me.

The Nightmare Never Ends

February 1, 2006

On a day just like today, except that it was a Wednesday, a man named Oxo awoke from a nightmare to realize that the nightmare is never fully awoken from. He rolled onto his side, pulled the rough green blanket over his head, and tried to recall what he had been dreaming about.

He recalled vaguely that in his dream the world was filled to the brim with simpering idiots who held high-paying jobs in delicate positions, he recalled that people nattered endlessly to one another on a small glowing box, although all were nattering and none were listening. He recalled that children were popping out of Coke machines into plastic diapers where they were whisked away by people who plopped them in front of another glowing box. The glowing box showed the kids how to be polite; how to do what they are told; taught that difference was good, despite the fact that they were shown the opposite day in and day out.

Oxo recalled that in the dream he was required to go out into the cold every single day, stick his arm into something like a coffee machine to have his precious bodily fluids extracted, bled into a tube which shot up to feed the spindly-legged tall ones upstairs, who sucked the sweet nectar from long grey straws while adjusting the small black nattering rectangles on their ears.

Oxo recalled that one of the only relief from this terror was a large room where people would group together to watch flickering images of cyborgs imitating their own movements. The cyborgs had been like them at some point, but had been, piece-by-piece, dismantled and replaced with polished rice teeth, shiny orange skin, glazed yellow hair, hollow empty eyes, and even less soul. As they walked out of these gatherings small tabloid pamphlets were thrust into their hands to give them intimate details about what the cyborgs ate, drank, slept with, talked about, thought about . . . all with the constant insinuation that the cyborgs are better than you, why can’t you be more like the cyborgs?

Other than the gathering rooms the only relief was a tiny pill which blurred the world and made things seem very far away and dreamy. The pill was very popular with people, and it made people easier to deal with, yet the pill was actually banned. People had to hide in alleys and scratch at doors in the night to gain access to the pill. Oxo knew why, too, he knew that the only way to keep the people pliable was by keeping them afraid, so they kept the pill banned to keep the fear, but also kept the pill easily accessible to keep the people in line.

Oxo let out a long, defeated breath, then pulled himself up to look out the curtains at the world below. The mustard curtains parted revealing the brittle ridiculous world below, and at once Oxo knew; he had not awakened.