What you give is what you get

I read that scientists have found under the permafrost in a disused barbershop in Rangeley the hair of a Mr. Wigan Pier. They have been able to synthesize a genome-size chunk of his DNA to develop it into a whole animal.

At this point, the scientists are being a bit vague, but from data decoded by the new generation of DNA sequencing machines, they think they have a relative to Neanderthal man.

Since science isn’t an exact science and the DNA in Mr. Pier’s hair is heavily contaminated by Brylcreem and the highlighted curls of a Dotty Bashmachkin, the scientists are not prepared to equivocally admit they can make an appointment for the new Mr. Pier for a short back and sides.

They have announced, however, that he’s undergone a shave and is looking more and more like the extinct species of  human with a receding forehead and prominent brow ridges from ice-age Europe between 120,000–35,000 years ago.

Mr. Pier’s last living relative, Larrup “Fossil” Pier, is quoted as being thrilled to find out he’s related to Neanderthal man instead of a bunch of losers who shot nightcrawlers. He also added that before today he thought science as being only 10,000 years old and is glad to know that scientists rotate around theories and not the other way round.

Wigan Pier’s dead dog was quoted as saying the apocalypse is near at hand and that creationism is alive and well with the earthworms.

Until Wigan Pier’s DNA is able to withstand three cups of coffee, the scientists are keeping a watchful eye on him at an undisclosed address somewhere at 32 Brigg Lane, Presque Isle. Mr. Pier has also responded well to the appearance of a large club that was presented to him by the town’s selectmen.

There has been no statement issued from Mr. Wigan Pier at this point, and the scientists have speculated that, in fact, it might take a millennium before he actually utters a thing.

Otherwise the regenerated hair from Rangeley is in perfect health. Although it is reported that Mr. Pier is bemused by the size of his sexual organ since he’d gone into the barber’s to get a trim.

Let loose the dogs of war

It seems I need a bruiser to accompany me on my afternoon strolls.

I was set upon by two wild curs. Mixed breeds with devil eyes. Go by the names of Sassafras and Bishoprick.

I was minding my own business, whistling some refrain from “Pretty Young Things” when the two misfits mauled me.

The smallest, a puppy — but don’t let that earn your sympathy, he was the biggest brute and aptly named Bishoprick — clamped his milk teeth on my fingerless glove and tore it off. His mate, a solid looking canine who you might imagine likes nothing better than to stretch out before a fire and get tickled, locked my trousers in his frothing jaws and yanked like I was a bunny.

I screamed. I called out my friend’s name, who usually walks with me, in vain.

The whelp capered about with my glove in his mouth while his abettor tugged on my trews, preventing me from snatching my glove back. And it’s a bitterly cold day out. I needed that mitten.

So I’m dragging the one mutt while pursuing the other.

And the owner’s in the ditch, scooping up shit in a plastic bag and squelching it between her fingers.

I call out like a good-natured Tony Blair, “Excuse me, I think your pups think I’m a play thing.”

To which the owner replies, “Yes, they like men. Especially Bishoprick. I’m not sure why. His mother was a bitch who’d take a bite out of any man who was more hen than cock.”

As she dilly-dallied along the path, thick with leaves and my spittle, I noticed a stick. With some effort, and a tear in my trousers, I bent to scoop it up.

Now, I’m ashamed to say this, but I, well… I started to hit the owner with it. Just little taps, mind you. But it did the trick.

The mutts thought I was playing. So now they turned their attention to their owner.

Now to say my action didn’t incur her wrath would be like saying that Guy Ritchie fondling another woman’s bodice wouldn’t infuriate Madonna.

The woman went berserk. She grabbed Bishoprick by his scruff and beat the dog biscuits out of him. He whimpered, dropped my glove, and peed on my shoe.

Next she kicked Sassafras, man’s best friend, to within an inch of his loyalty.

I swear she was foaming at the mouth.

I nabbed my glove, straightened my trousers, and scarpered.

The flippin’ point

I have just learnt there are two kinds of journalists: those who start out with an obvious subject and find something interesting to say about it, and those who go in search of topics that are way outside normal experience. Malcolm Gladwell, author of the viral bestsellers The Tipping Point and Blink, and now Outlier, is of the former. Which is to say in a dilettante’s lexicon, he’s states the flippin’ obvious and then cleverly makes you think he, as well as you, have had a new thought when in fact what’s been captured is zeitgeist.

I, too, can play that game. Let me expound.

Geniuses such as Einstein didn’t rise from nothing. Fact: they were once children with mothers and fathers.

Look through this list of writers and see if you can spot the anomaly? Dylan Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Dylan Thomas, and Dylan Thomas.

You probably missed it, so let me point it out to you. Fact: writers who are boozers can be as successful as boozers who are writers.

And Gladwell has written this about those who succeed over those that go to weed: “It is only by asking how much they sucked on the nipple as a baby that we can understand the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

Didn’t Freud come up with a similar theory but with potty training and cigars?

What’s with this pop theorist, behaviouralist? Just because he has a knack for bringing to the most overworked subjects an element of intellectual surprise doesn’t mean that the rabbit that’s pulled from the magician’s hat is more likely to succeed than the wild rabbit that’s dragged from its burrow by the poacher’s terrier. The trick is whether the gregarious, plant-eating mammal procreates or not.

What is it that makes Gladwell so damn successful? Is it all to do with the fact that he’s an interdisciplinary cross-dresser and that then makes him a metrosexual, across-town vehicle for discourse?

I was caned as a student by my headmaster and that’s what makes me such a good verbal acrobat. I’m also good with creativity. But very bad about studying. I’m also good when it comes time for my sadist hour.

My parents helped, too. My mum liked to shout and curse. Sometimes I got a hot welt and liver and onions. My dad liked to look disappointed. So shattered, in fact, I always thought he had some secret illness. He didn’t. It was me.

If I met Gladwell, I’d ask him this: “My failures are based on which of the following? The bloke in the cape or my rabbit who drowned in the pond?”

The case of the missing liberal

Scene: Court room. A young, though looking his age, Welshman stands dazed in the criminal pie that he’s just popped out of. The judge, a dreaded man, is wearing the latest democratic wig and his gavel is ready to be liberally hammered in bipartisan knocks.

Judge: You have been accused on 389 counts of the 270 needed to have willfully subverted the course of justice by freely admitting to having sexual intercourse with many liberal-minded individuals. In fact, and this is verbatim, in your testimony you said ‘I think it would be fair to say that I’ve had sex with the vast majority of liberals who gripped America by its groin.’ Do you deny this?

Defendant: I think I might have overstated a bit. I was excited, you know, and it is difficult to recall now what happened in the carnal act. All I can say for certain is that half of the registered voters did cry out liberally that I had a mandate.

Judge: Do you swear that you have never, or ever, so long as I wear this itchy wig, claim to know the exact number of virgins you have taken to your free-thinking bosom as being in fact the largest constituents to ever fondle your member. And let me remind you young man, you are under oath here, as well as under the false pretext of owning a used condom that runs off ethanol.

Defendant: I will admit that my trousers might have been a bit too tight. But, your honour, it was not the amount of sex but the quality of it that counts. And I can say that a vast majority of the electorate were aroused to a passion that has never before been seen but at an orgy.

Judge: Even so, your blatant use of the ‘L’ word and your titillating of the facts, and your salacious and often graphic description of the mass of people being sexually liberated by your tongue is a gross and clearly unpatriotic use of the first amendment and Kama Sutra. And so I’m afraid I have to find you guilty on all counts. I sentence you to 4 years of a Democratic president, which I might reduce to 2 if you promise to stay away from his wife. But, and I can’t but stress this, you will have to keep such lewd behaviour in your pants, not trousers, this is America, until you have learnt that raunchy republicanism is still alive and well. This very court has been overrun with cases of abuse to target-practice deer, that have had photocopied faces of Sarah Palin stuck to their heads, sodomized in the pursuit of liberty, freedom, and the right to tinker with a woman’s reproductive organs.

Defendant: I can reform! I can change. Yes I can, Yes I can. Please. Put me under surveillance. Tap my phones. Take away my constitutional rights. Make me wear a condom. But please, don’t take away my right to procreate with the left or the right.

Judge: My judgment is final. Send him home with a couple of uncivil and disobedient Republican tarts and let’s see how contrite he really is.

Exeunt defendant screaming and crying. The judge removes his shoe and lights up a reefer.

Hard tack to self

“I believe it would be a bad day for a writer if he could say, ‘I know exactly what I’m doing,’ and I am wary of making statements about my work. If I have any abiding allegiance in my writing it is to the power of the imagination.” Graham Swift

I’m in Swift’s margin (I’m the squiggle with grand ideas) about not knowing exactly what I’m doing when it comes to writing. I know well-enough the craft of stringing a sentence along, but when I write, so much of the story is trickling from the imagination. It’s as if I’m holding my literary tongue out and my imagination is squeezing the taste of the narrative on it for me to savor the story. I never work with a full-fledged idea of what the story is. I have a vague, tenebrous idea. I know most of the characters, setting, plot twists, themes, shape and structure, but I’m still half-blind. The only time my entire sight returns is when it’s finished. But even then, I’m not happy putting a stamp of complete understanding to it.

There’s this book,The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge, that I want to read. Basically the book, through neuroscience, is proving what sages and men of wisdom have known for centuries: that the brain can be re-wired, that it’s not a piece of hardware but an ever up-dating Web of juicy potential. The book argues that the best thing for the brain is a steady supply of new challenges that demand complete focus. The worst thing for the brain is doing the same stuff all the time.

I’ve also must get to get my hands on Chabon’s Maps and Legends.

Plus Viktor Pelevin’s The Sacred Book of Werewolves. There’s just something about a 2,000-year-old werefox who is able to transform into a beautiful nymphet that I can’t resist.

Why is my cri de coeur always “So many books to read!”

I need an android. Not to polish my Jag or make illicit engagements with high-class hookers or purchase my Bond Street shirts. I need one to carry my books and nudge me into action. And he could also, of course, come to work for me.

The metaphysical beauty of a ruined abstraction

I sometimes suffer from an inchoate ambition to express everything in the world at once.

I like Charlie Kaufman — Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich. His new movie, Synecdoche, New York, looks fab. Kaufman believes in a life of the mind and that’s why I’m waving to him as he sadly takes off with his solipsism in the face of public scorn. You could call him a poster boy for postmodernism and a bright buckle off Jean Baudrillard’s fancy shoes, but even without the “precession of simulacra,” Kaufman can make a movie that gets us thinking. But that’s not too hard in an industry where talking dogs, the orgy of violence, feel-good blockbusters, and next-door neighbor humor dominates.

We are living in a time of paucity of wit and satire and the life of the mind.

It’s all easy gropes, grisly beheadings, Jane and Dick intellects, bland experiences, milksop music, adult babies with a mother fixation, glamour emotions, lipstick truths, and the fornication of the idiot over the amour of the poet.

I think if you asked the average man if he’d rather shag the washerwoman or fuck the marquess, he’d produce an anvil.

If you asked the same man if he’d rather read a book or squelch around in the same ignorance, he’d produce a pitchfork and shout for your burning.

If you asked the same man if he’d watch a movie that stimulated his whole being or shut down everything but the groin, he’d produce a vibrator.

If you asked the same man if he could name just one tree, flower, distant planet or guess the next American Idol, he’d produce something made in China and call it homespun ingenuity.

If you asked the same man about life, love, death, he’d talk to you about money, fear, and hate. Then he’d produce an atom bomb.

The seldom seen kid

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Saw a fox last night as I drove home. Sleek beauty. Made me think of Hughes’ thought fox and the hot stink of cunning.

He just glided across the moon-streaked road, dry leaves kicked up into wizened swirls as he ambled from one dark side to the other. I slowed the car and caught his bright eyes turn toward me and then he was gone.

I sat in the idling car for a bit, feeling night closing in, clouds sniffing around the moon, and somewhere a fox, deep in his own trot, seeking a young turkey or a little mouse to pass the evening with.