Excerpts from Bernie

Excerpts from “Bernie and the Deconstruction,” Mark B. Goldman, published December 2016

(from Chapter 4)

Bernie sat at the console in the closet in the back of Sean’s store, numb, bleary, and wondering. The cursor flashed at him idiotically, an intermittent mocking smirk. Window? Door? Gate? Gate. It’s always a gate, right?

RUN GATE

He typed, feeling like a thick-pimpled geek in a filmschool Tron.

RUN GATE NOT RECOGNIZED

It spat.

OPEN GATE

He tapped.

OPEN GATE NOT RECOGNIZED

It flashed.

EXECUTE

He entered.

EXECUTE NOT RECOGNIZED

It dithered.

He stopped his fist inches short of the screen and instead smashed the wall in frustration. Then a flash of desperate inspiration. Or was it inspired desperation?

GATE

He pressed the keys triumphantly, hoping his confidence helped.

GATE COMMAND OPERAND MISSING

He writhed in discovery. Operand! Operand?

GATE RUN

He typed.

GATE COMMAND OPERAND NOT RECOGNIZED

It replied.

GATE OPEN

He pounded.

GATE COMMAND OPERAND NOT RECOGNIZED

It blinked.

FUCK YOU

He cursed.

FUCK YOU NOT RECOGNIZED

It dumbly answered.

He was seconds from giving up when, on a whim, he typed:

GATERUN

There was a noticeably longer delay, then:

RANDOM OR SET?

“Flaming shitholes!” Bernie yelped and jumped up in elation. He paced, three steps each way in the closet of a room, wondering what next. Then, before he could change his mind again, he sat and entered:

RANDOM

Nothing happened.

He leaned back in frustration, and then noticed something on the steel wall. A color began to form and spread out from the center. A second of panic flew through him, as he envisioned the gate spreading beyond the door, devouring everything in its path until reality was history. He exhaled slowly as the spreading color stopped as it reached the edges of the panel, and a black center formed on the shimmering surface.

(from Chapter 13)

Spinning, silent orbs of Golgothian grandeur rush past him, the grays and the dark-hued demons in them flashing by, melting into each other. Fiery skies and damaged screams ravage his senses, and he prays for waking. But this world is real. He lifts his head, robbed of resonance like the shell-shocked. Eyes red-rivered and flesh pinked by the heat of marching flames, he heaves up, bones and skin creaking like a dried-out catamaran. He launches himself along the wisp of trail he feels, the air aflame like he’s sucking on a welding torch. He lurches, realizing if his goal is too far his mind will go. It is going. The ground shifts under his feet, and suddenly his feet are above his head, but he’s still running. Downhill? Uphill? More orbs rush past him, gothic, gargoyle, fates and woe, doom howling. He falls into an opening in the side of a mountain made of flesh. He sees the veins and sweat on the walls as he enters the living hall, but his mind is numbing. Burned shoes scraping, he stumbles along the vapor trail of her. He trips and his hand encounters the wall with a plop, and the pores open. Bile pushes from them at his touch, and a shrill wail builds. It keens around him, and then dies just as he presses his palms on his ears. He shakes his head in disgust at the slime he just transferred from his hand to his head. As he thrashes, his other hand encounters the other wall, and the process repeats. Moron! He rights himself, relatively, and lurches on. The heat is less, his breath burns less in here. But the floor crawls, the walls ripple; it is alive. He feels Sonja’s trail, a sinewy ribbon on the periphery of his consciousness. He follows, desperate to leave this mad world behind.

Welcome

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Lines Written While Standing in the Center of the Sun

It was a vague sensation the first time I died. A distantly throbbing, bulbous pulsation enveloped my consciousness, such as it was. There was no pain, no wonder, just a languid curiosity. There was no tunnel that ended in a divine, bright white light. There was no spinning above my wracked and sweaty carcass, my consciousness looking down at the staring shell. It was a glide more than a floating, a flowing movement, and spinning within it, a quiet sensation of familiarity. Objectively, I probably should have been wondering why I wasn’t more interested in everything. This was, after all, death, the end, the curse of mortality, the deep and dark secret at the end of all that I knew, the ultimate mystery. I had shadowy hints of other entities, lumps of consciousness separate from mine, passing around me in a tortuous dimness. It was the sensation you feel if you are walking in the dark in a cave and you feel a breeze, and though you can’t see it, you know there’s an opening there beside you. How these were other consciousnesses I cannot say, nor would you understand if I could. So I will tell you more and hope that your skepticism does not infect your interest.

The fourth time that I died was the closest to the popular conception of death. I rose up above my fading body and saw the people standing around me. I called to them, exerting every ounce of energy residing in my now insubstantial lungs, but all I could produce was a whisper. I floated in sadness until I felt a tugging, a pulling, and I began to drift like a vague cloud of gas in a room where a vent is suddenly opened, sucked toward the opening. I was shooting down a tunnel, black as the pits of oblivion, darker than any night ever had a right to be. Voices babbled around me. Then a light, blurry, mightily distant, began to show itself. I was racing “towards the light.” It grew brighter, brighter, blurring, blinding, erupting, until in a blinding flash I found myself floating in a white void. There was naught else, just my own awareness and the endless white, the white of doves, the crests of the ocean, the blank of paper uninspired, the pure fluff of unsullied cloud, of soft, new cotton, of imagined and angelic innocence. I had no body to look at, nothing to entertain my senses, which were so used to being over stimulated that this deprivation was like a cement block slammed into my head.

How many times have I lived and died since then? How many bodies have I inhabited, planets walked, skies flown, or seas sailed? How many different methods of dying and disparate states of death have I experienced? These numbers, I suppose, now matter about as much as the difference between life and death, which seems so all-encompassing when I walk alive in the world. The white-hot drill bit in the soft underbelly of my otherwise languorous and serene consciousness is the fact that it is accepted so complacently by all of us, but you and I and the impossible billions before and after us. The routine movement of the cycle seeks to rub out the questions whispering shyly in my mind, but they are feeding on themselves. We die, and we die again. More and more, until it is so unremarkable as to be laughable, as when we are living, we mouth moronic inanities about the Earth’s weather. Hot enough for ya, today, Phil? And that’s it. In life, we have no idea that we have already lived, once, twice, a thousand times, and in death, it’s a fact of….death? And why am I so remarkable that I can recognize that this is, indeed, odd, while no one else does?

The distracted vagabonds in this crepuscular necroverse are not the starry-eyed companions of paradise that I envisioned in the Judeo-Christian-influenced constructs of heaven I nurtured in life. In which life, you may ask? Well, the first one, I guess. I meet other souls/spirits/entities along the way, searching for those who were close to me in life, but I can’t find them. When I can establish a rapport with one, instead of the super-awareness and omniscience you would expect, these are shades, reflections, uninterested in questions of existence and the where of the what and the how of the why that we are. We don’t talk in the conventional sense, but they communicate to me the gists of “leave it alone” and “What? That never occurred to me. How strange.” They look at me the same way that myopic zealots look at you when you express doubt in the constructs of their morality.

I suppose I might come closer to finding the spirits (for lack of a better term) of those that I may have originally loved if I remembered them, but their impressions have long since faded as I move on through lives, unwilling to form relationships because of the hopelessness that any indulgence in love offered.

I am shunted into a new life as an infant, and I hardly know myself, and cannot think clearly, but gradually as my shell learns and grows, my spirit stirs and the newest me gets impressions of doom and desolation, turning later childhood and adolescence into a brooding and unpleasant span. When I am living I do not know for sure that I have lived and died, but I suspect. Former lives intrude their shades upon the current life, causing confusion, dysfunction, and occasional madness. They leave me with just enough of an impression that I know that I have lived before, as when you’ve dreamed a massive, complicated dream and now can’t remember the vaguest thing about it beyond that fact that you had a massive, complicated dream. There was this undulating castle with a bridge of glass and roses and Jennifer was there, and Max, and Jimmie, and Dawn, and my great-grandfather like he looks in the old, yellowed pictures, and my gramma with her smells of Thyme, Lavender, and Wintergreen, and the bridge turned into a massive scroll with flowing script shining in liquid gold, and I cleared my throat to read from it, but then it turned into Latin – no, it was French… was it a scroll? no, wait there was no castle, it was a mountain… no, there wasn’t anyone there… I mean… that was a really great dream…

I have instinctive feelings not to indulge myself in emotions, attachments, hope. By the time I am an adult, I have analyzed these feelings thoroughly and have come to the conclusion that I have lived before, and even have an inkling of the hopelessness of life and the despair of death. Most take my morose disposition and bleary movements as indication of mental illness or instability, and that may be so. But if being more aware of the state of reality than others makes me ill, what does that make them? Oh, to be unaware of the pinprick hintings of death in early life, and of the full-blown blasts of purposelessness that hit me head-on later in life. Ignorance would be more than bliss, it would be pure and uncorrupted utopia.

But these flashes of remembrance of lives fade in and out of my awareness like the click-clack and throb of a train on its rails. Into the tunnels under insubstantial mountains of welcomed darkness and weighty dimness, out into the shattering light of realization once again. Is there any question I have not pondered? Should I not know by now if there is such a thing as a Creator, and if have I been singled out for an eternity of torment? Or is this just a fantasy of self-importance and is it the lot of all humanity, and other creatures besides? But I have learned next to nothing, scarcely more than I knew in my numerous lives. It is ironic that man’s ingrained fear of death should be so stunningly justified, but in a completely different way than he had ever imagined. No gnashing, fiery demons or nine circles of the abyss here. No mocking fallen angel to apply whips of fire to the figurative backs of our pleading souls for eternity. Worse, for that would at least be interesting, perhaps. I look back at some of the feelings that I can remember from my original life with the closest thing to amusement that I can muster. I once believed, in contrast to most people at the time, that there was no God, no soul, and no afterlife. Though every fiber of my being cried out against it, logic dictated that oblivion must follow awareness, and so I sought to accept this against all the teachings, fictions, suppositions, and philosophies of the uncounted generations before me.

How I wish I had been correct.

Since I have found no indication otherwise, I am inclined to believe that for some inexplicable reason I am the only one, or one of the few, to recognize this constant reincarnation, this circle of cursed sentience, and I recognize that most of the time now, I am mad. This is why I believe my visions fade and return, and awareness dims and focuses. The times that I can think clearly, as now, and try to communicate with other entities, indicates to me that I have some gift or curse of higher awareness with which my mind was not designed to cope. I have become aware of my surroundings, which usually become clear after whatever different version of the state of death I experience fades. I can sense the skies, the stars, the planets, the ether, the drifting bodies of sub-celestial flotsam. I can sense the gases, the solids, the liquids; the matter and antimatter; the bright firing of solar power and the brooding void of dark energy; the photons, ions, atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, bosons, strings, and dots of miniscule existence. I can sense the presence of uncounted parallel planes of existence, intersecting this one at innumerable points, trillions dying and flashing into existence every instant.

But I have become aware of something else.

I can sense an end, beckoning, offering the desperate bliss of nonexistence. I rage, silent in my mind, my soul, my spirit, or whatever it is of me that is my essence in which I am locked, I rage to find this peace. I seethe with need for obsolescence. Through the gibbering haze of my madness I glimpse a tendril of surcease from suffering.

As a people, a mass of souls, pithy and swarming gnats on the surface of an existence annoyed, we return to the roots from which we were spawned. Life moves full circle. The movements of creation impinge upon my writhing consciousness. We circle the Earth which circles the Sun the tyrant of our Solar System which circles the center of our galaxy (black hole devouring messenger of obliteration or dictator of nascence?) which circles the clusters and superclusters and ultimately some center of universal creation… supernovae are sparks and pulsars are playthings, quantum mechanics a math for the blind…My key is the Sun. I flow (physically?) toward the massive burning sphere of hydrogen fire circling and erupting in a torment of heat in the focus of our simple system. The sensation of peace is coming from it. Yes. I sense it. The Sun will destroy me. Peace of a burning. Peace of an ending. There is an unannounced logic that dictates to me that if I return to the Sun, I will merge with the essence of my creation, as it in turn will return to its essence billions of year hence. But time and the years have no meaning now. Nothing has any meaning, no movement, no concept, no impression, nothing. Nothing but obsolescence.

 

I

will

chase

merge

burn

die

again

cease

fall

peace.

 

I (stand) here in the center of the sun and I (personality/essence/spirit/soul/ impression) melt in pure ecstasy into nothing. I am released from the torment of existence. My legacy, these unwritten lines, burned into stellar dust-motes, shall float disembodied through the ether until and if another like me discovers them.

 

Think of me and believe (briefly) that you are not alone in the unquenchable solitude of the Megaverse.

 

2005-2017, Copyright © Mark B. Goldman

Writing About Being Wrong

I’ve never really seriously taken into consideration that I might, someday, write a non-fiction book. Humor, perhaps. But a screed/diatribe/exposition on one subject? I don’t think I’d have the patience – or expertise enough in one subject – for that. But I’m close to changing my mind. The subject? Why and how I just changed my mind. OPINION.

Since you have to have a “BOLD TITLE: Followed by a colon and some quip or pithy summary,” I think I’ll call it “WRONG! OR AM I?: How Hard it is to Change your Opinion… Or is it?”

I guess I could work on that. I heard a snippet from a podcast, probably “The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe,” remarking upon how when you confront people about an instance in which they changed their minds about something, they say, “Sure!” but when you ask for an example, they say, “Uh… uh.. hold on.” Nothing comes immediately to mind. But eventually, they think of something. Any mature and reasonable human can eventually call to mind a subject on which they changed their opinion.

But why is it difficult to recall that right away? Because it’s a process. If you can recall an issue in which you reversed yourself, it’s highly unlikely you can think of that ONE MOMENT in which you suddenly decided, “OK, I guess tomatos are fruit,” or “I give up, I guess Pluto’s not really a real planet.” No. It’s a gradual process. You learn and you evolve over time. Facts and evidence chip away at your opinion. You may have a moment someday, when you haven’t thought of something in a while, and realize that your mind has changed on it. But the revelation didn’t occur all at once – the realization may have, but the actual reversal didn’t.

But I have to delve deeper. Why does it take so much for us to change our minds? Presupposing, of course, that the issue is not borderline or personal. Say it’s something that is obvious to most people; there is overwhelming evidence, and it’s in front of us every day. I’ll go for the obvious, Climate Change. Why do so many insist on its lack of existence when there is no way they are right? Do they know it and they just cannot humble themselves and accept the evidence? Or is it merely a cynical stance that supports their broader political ethos?

Take the internet, the main place we see gatherings of opinion these days. It’s such an immediate medium. You can’t possibly convince someone with an opposing viewpoint to come over to your side. At least not quickly enough to satisfy anyone. Ideas have to seep in over time by osmosis, percolate, and soften the hard edges of a person’s opinion. The concrete fortress of people’s opinions have to be made malleable over time, until (what are hopefully) facts can wedge their way in.

Look at your friends on Facebook. Can you remember anyone convincing anyone else of anything substantive? And the pointless, childish, futile insult-fests in the comment sections of articles and blog posts. How much effort at one-up-manship and needless rage happens in dark rooms across America and the world, with anonymous people verbally abusing each other? And for what? Fun? For some people, it’s fun, I suppose. It’s hard to account for taste sometimes.

Why is it so difficult to say “OK, I guess I was wrong?” Well, I believe it’s a combination of things. Pride in being right. Fear of embarrasment in admitting error. Sheepishness in validating the fact that you’re not the smartest one on every subject. But it’s deeper than just that, I think. On a fundamental level, if we are proven wrong about something, do we believe that the person or people who proved us wrong are BETTER than us? Smarter, more tolerant, more insightful? Or, depending on our level of personal insecurity, that they are perceived by others to be superior to us? It’s an interesting question. Or maybe it’s not. Hell, I could be wrong.

I’ve been wrong before. It just took me a long time to figure it out.

Fates Warning – Darkness in a Different Light

I grew up in Germany as an army brat and reveled in metal, mainstream and underground. I have no idea when or where or why I picked up Night On Bröcken but I vaguely remember nights of candles in my basement room, worshipping at the altar of Damnation and the others. That album was in regular rotation for me, along with others like Powerslave, Hail to England, Ride the Lightning, Battle Cry, Honour and Blood, among many others. I somehow missed the next two FWs and picked them up again at No Exit before college. I could write volumes on that stellar work alone, but how perfect were Silent Cries and Daylight Dreamers (along with unhealthy doses of Operation:Mindcrime) for your typical angst-ridden teenage metalhead? Thunderous riffing, pounding drums, intelligent lyrics, wailing singing, interludes of quiet grace… perfect recipes for a rebellious teen introvert who had no idea what he wanted to be.

I still don’t, but I know that FW replaced Maiden as my all-time favorites back in the early 90s and have remained there ever since.

(I left Spectre and Awaken alone until the late 80s/early 90s, consuming them like the delicious morsels I knew they would be…)

Perfect Symmetry became my favorite. After that, though I didn’t much care for the more commercial direction, I understood it, and eventually understood the mastery of Parallels. Inside Out is one that I did not like at all at the time, but grew to love, though I still rank it toward the bottom of their work.

A Pleasant Shade of Gray destroyed my expectations. Each time, it seemed, I heard one of my bands coming out with a concept album, I groaned. Mindcrime, Seventh Son, now this. Each time I was pleasantly surprised, even blown away. This time? Destroyed. In a good way. You need patience to realize how much of a masterpiece APSoG is, and if you don’t yet know it, I won’t be able to convince you.

Disconnected and FWX were by comparison disappointing, but how can you live up to APSoG? Again, both works have grown on me.

And now, Darkness in a Different Light. All in all, like every new FW I can remember, I was at first unimpressed, even disappointed. But like all of them, it grows if you give it a chance. The layers reveal themselves slowly, and you understand how they compose songs that are complicated and display meticulous musicianship without being flashy or sacrificing feel. The typical beautiful, understated flourishes, the celebration of melancholy peppered with lifelines of hope, the unexpected turns and twists, the unconventional melodies, all that’s here. The old nihilistic/fatalistic tendencies are tempered a bit by hopeful musings, but as I age and mellow, that doesn’t bother me as much as it once might have.

I still don’t think it’s a masterpiece. But I think it’s impressive. And I could change my mind.

One Thousand Fires. I like the acoustic going on under the heavy riffs. At first, I didn’t care much for the chorus; it was sort of… jarring.

There’s a lot of the same vibe that went into Arch/Matheos here, I think. What I love most about the song is the riff that starts at 5:18. It’s so Jim. A poster on the FW Google Group I subscribe to was dead-on about what Bobby brings to the mix. His bass drums are perfect; in fact they fit so perfectly they don’t jump out at you. Does that make sense? He’s a bit heavy on the cymbals, though.

Firefly. Though this song is growing on me, I still think it’s one of the weakest and most formulaic. The structure reminds me of Engine – not that I didn’t like Engine. I just found it to fit more into the straight-out “Hard Rock” category, as opposed to “Progressive Metal.”

Desire. I like this song. The echo or delay was annoying at first, but it works into the OSI-type riff nicely. 2:29 brings me back to Engine again, and then 2:48 gives me more of a Redemption flavor, then back to the FW/OSI thing.

Falling. I was totally nonplussed by this tune at first. But I started to like it, even though it’s so odd for them. Change and progression and experimentation are why their fans love these guys, no? That’s why I learned long ago to give new albums many listens. As opposed to a Godsmack album I listened to a couple of years ago. One listen and I couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.

I Am. Again, a dissonant and incongruous chorus hurts an otherwise great song for me.

Lighthouse. I like the despairing tone of this, often belied by its lyrics. Again, back to the Google Group: someone was contrasting Aresti’s tendency of leaving a little hope in his themes, whilst Matheos is pretty dark. This is a nice mix of both. Dark and despairing, but built around a theme of hope.

Into the Black. I hate to say that this is my favorite on the album, since it was the first released and it’s the catchiest, and I don’t like getting drawn in by hooks. But this one sticks in my head the most and I find myself singing along to it instantly.

Kneel and Obey. When encountering something new, it’s natural for us to compare to things known. I used to rail against that, but it’s how we work as humans.First I thought of A/M and On the Fence, with the eastern-ish guitar tone (or whatever that is). The ponderous riff reminded me of Solitude Aeturnus, a doom metal band I’ve enjoyed from time to time. Ray comes off sounding like a bit like Layne Staley here, slow and dissonant and gloomy.

O Chloroform. I love this song except for, again, the refrain, which I feel is weakly worded. Glad Ray himself said he didn’t know what the hell Kevin Moore was writing about, because I can’t tell either…

And Yet It Moves. After the pretty intro, that part reminds me right away of A/M. I’m not sure about the comparisons to “Still Remains,” I have to go back and revisit it – it was never one of my favorites. Strikes me as odd that they’re using “Still Remains” it as an encore. Most bands would use their most popular tunes at the end; in FW’s case, I guess, “Point of View,” “Through Different Eyes,” and “Eye to Eye.” But, again, the hell with convention, who needs it?

I love this song, although I still don’t totally get the complete change in tone at 9:04. I mean, I like it, but it seems like a different song for a while, almost out of APSoG (pt. IX?).

Firefly (Extended). Better than the regular version, but generally the same opinion.

Falling Further. Like the version on the album proper, I was bemused by this one. It sounds like a (slightly more sophisticated) 80s hair metal tune. I had the same reaction when I listened to Dream Theater’s new one and heard “The Looking Glass.” But after a few listens, you know what? This song is fun! I admit that while cringing at Poison and Dokken and Extreme images that flash through my head. Well, another thing I’ve learned as I age – if you like something, fess up to it, even it seems not to fit into your persona or reputation. That’s why I shall now confess my love for the music of Bananarama.

Just kidding.

All praises to Jim and Ray and the guys for a release worth the wait. I only wish they could get the acclaim they deserve!

(Update) I have since seen them on the tour for this album, and the show was ridiculous. In the best way possible.

 

Thoughts on the 2014 World Cup

  • Muticulturalism rules: When you have two black half-brothers named Boateng, one who plays for Ghana and the other for Germany. When I see a US national team member, a black dude with dreads, speaking English with a German accent. When among the Gonzalezes and Rodriguezes of a Central American team, there’s a “Campbell.” OK, so most of the guys’ names on the Balkan teams still end in “-ic.” It’s still a work in progress. But I dig it.
  • It must really chap the old Germans’ lederhosen – you know, the old bigots complaining at their Stammtisches – to know that their foremost strikers are, well, two Poles and a Turk.
  • I hate Ronaldo. I don’t like Ronaldo. Please don’t make me like Ronaldo. (http://sportbild.bild.de/fussball-wm/2014/fussball/geschichte-hinter-ronaldos-narben-frisur-36501386.sport.html)
  • Luis Suarez should join up with Mike Tyson and form a support group for those who have an irresistible appetite for manflesh.
  • Sure, I love Germany, and I want them to win it all. But it’s about time for someone besides them and Brazil, Argentina, and Italy to win. I say the Netherlands. Come on, give them a break, they live in a country with 30 people that’s below sea level. And they had to send most of them to Brazil to play soccer. They’ve come in second three times!
  • Is it me or does Alexi Lalas seem to have contempt for every other analyst? He works through it, but, initially, man, relax.
  • How do so many people from so many countries afford to show up to the world cup? No matter where it is, really? You’d think that at the prices they must be charging for airfare, hotels, etc., that only the elites could go. But you see the same face-painted, bare-chested, dare I say, “blue collar” madness that you might at any NFL game. Somehow, soccer rules.
  • That guy’s knee hit you in the thigh. Why are you grabbing your face?
  • I remember playing (American) football, and when it was my turn to come out, loping casually off the field. And the coach screaming at me, “Get your ass moving, Goldman! Why should we have to wait for you?” So when I see these Pro players casually striding off the pitch, wasting precious seconds, and no one is protesting, I wonder. The clock’s running, man.
  • But man, those little dudes can move quickly. When they want to.
  • Never do I remember seeing such a myriad of inked skin. Some of these teams are tatted up and down. Arms, stomachs, chests, necks, even faces. Not being a tattoo guy, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m getting old and inevitably old-fashioned; seeing multimillionaires running around looking like gang members or rock starts is odd to me. I realize a bunch of ink doesn’t make you a low-life; I have friends with tattoos. I guess I just don’t get the attraction of permanently marking your skin…
  • Hairdos. Chileans with Mohawks. Belgians with Afros. There are more hairdos at the world cup than at a Milan fashion extravaganza. Some women would kill for some of that hair. When you see a guy with “normal” hair, you have to point it out. “Look, that guy has normal hair! What the hell’s wrong with him?”
  • There’s a guy on the Brazil team named Hulk. Hulk say no handball. Hulk angry. Hulk never flop.
  • Sportsmanship. One of my absolute favorite things about the whole spectacle is seeing players getting along with players from the other team. Sure, often they’re on the same club team together. But seeing a Japanese player and a Colombian player grin and hug each other before a game bodes well for the world. Even if they DO both play for Dortmund or ManU.
  • Diving/flopping/falling. One of my least favorite things about Le Fusbol. OK, the absolute WORST thing. And one of the things that has always made me a non-fan of the South American teams, particularly Brazil and Argentina. The flop left, they flop right. Another player taps them lightly and they flip a somersault and hurt themselves far more landing than whatever the other player did. Then they writhe around, crying soliloquies of pain, histrionic like a wordless Olivier. They finally get up and limp like they have a shattered femur. Then, miraculously, two minutes later, they’re sprinting like a Jamaican track star. Must be their training.To be fair, I’ve seen a few flops by my favorite teams, too. I still don’t like it. I know you’re trying to win a foul, an advantage for your team, perhaps at a critical moment. But it feels dirty. In fact, I’ll even call it, yes, a wussy move. I’ll go out on a limb and say that if you’re an adult male, and you’re crying and acting like you’re hurt when you’re not, then you’re a big, fat, whining wuss. Get over yourself, you big baby. Stand up and play the damned game.
  • And what a game it is.

Create a file from a directory list

To create a text file listing the contents of the directory, navigate to the desired folder in a command prompt and type:

dir /on /b /s >list.txt

The /on orders the lists by alphabetical name, the /b makes it only list the filename, and the /s includes subdirectories files in the list.

(Courtesy 0f http://liveslick.com/2007/10/18/make-a-directory-list-with-the-command-prompt-in-seconds/)

 

Rant In Passing: Hatequake

Ongoing hatred, as much as it is human, eats at the spirit, does it not? I have found as I age that it is easier to analyze the hatred, find its roots, and try to laugh at the people that cause it. Laugh at them for their ineptness in life, their walled-in narcissism as they crash through the world, flailing about in helpless attempts at relevance. And laugh at them knowing that, if they even make it that far, they will sit old and decrepit, eaten away by the bile of their selfishness and mania, and stew in a pool of dementia and insignificance.

All that said, a good bout of angst and animus is also healthy. We are not Vulcans.

Revolt Like an Egyptian

I am gloomy. Murky. Dismal in thought, often. “Mark the Dark” I’ve been called. Despite holding on to the shreds of youthful idealism, I revile the human race. I stand on the rim and loathe and laugh at it from without. On good days, I disdain and disparage people. On bad days, I despise them. They bathe in a toxic cauldron of hatred, violence, jealousy, ignorance, and cruelty. They claim to be the most intelligent entities spawned by evolution on this earth. Often, then, I question the direction and speed of evolution.

I’m not a joiner. But I can’t help being a member of the human race. I was born that way. I don’t hold out much hope for us. Whether it will end for us in a holocaust of fire and fallout, or starvation and disease on the heels of overpopulation, I can’t foresee. But though I have fanciful science fiction story ideas about humans thousands and millions of years hence, I don’t see us surviving long enough to even leave our solar system.

But Egypt has given me renewed hope. I never would have believed this could happen, especially in the mideast, where religious zealotry and intolerance is legion.  This organic, social-media-managed uprising had its desired effect through the perserverance of people who had had enough of tyranny. There was no dynamic leader, no cult of personality to inspire the masses to overthrow their despot. The fact that hundreds of thousands of people can come together, essentially leaderless, and agree to protest without violence in the face of violence, and not give in to mob rule when they’re attacked, to stand up Ghandi-like for their future and the future of their children; if that doesn’t rekindle hope for humanity, what can?

I pray (so to speak) that their righteously ousted government doesn’t lead to another manifestation of tyranny.

In Tribute to RJD

From correspondence years ago… seemed an appropriate tribute.


From: MG
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
To: VB

I think “Hoochie Koochie Lady” and “Never More” will make it onto the Dio mix – I’ve been groovin’ to the other 2 albums, but naught can stand next to the other material. According to Wikipedia, he’s 66! Wha?


From: VB
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
To: MG

Yes, those two songs are the best. Actually, “Never More” has always been my favorite Elf track. It sounds similar to the “jam” part in Floyd’s “Echoes”.

Yeah, a big mystery surrounding Dio’s actual age. I think he is actually 5,293 years old and remained youthful because he long ago entered the Mystifying Wood and found the Enchanted Tree where he slew the Frog Wizard and took his Magical Golden Ring. Or some shit.


From: MG
Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008
To: VB

He also took a holy dive into the enchanted waters of the invisible Lake, flew the golden dragon over the rainbow at midnight, looked into the evil eyes of the spider-beast, had a gypsy dream in which he danced with the rock ‘n’ roll angel in the land of milk and honey before the gates of babylon, and sped (at night) to the wizard’s tower from which he stole the Elf-Sceptre from the Big black shape and then…


From: VB
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008
To: MG

..he jumped (from a ladder) onto the back of his trusty warhorse, Murray, and, as he saw a rainbow rising, he galloped through the misty morning, through widing roads and treacherous passes of the Forbidden Forest towards Castle Magica where he was to sample poorly made ale and the juice of grapes (evil or da wine) but even with much haste he arrived tardy and was the last in line. By the time Dio made it to the front, they said it was over.


From: MG
Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008
To: VB

Then at the front he met a snake charmer from the sixteenth century, who had come forward in a time machine. She was a fortune-telling woman who claimed to have run with the wolves (unlocked) and seen the devil cry. She was born on a silver mountain and lived among the night people. He asked if she was a mistress of insanity, and she said, “Listen to the shadow of the wind, boy – we’re all stars.” He grew fearful and flew away breathlessly. After he dropped Murray off at a stable, he walked to a weird freeway where he saw some wrathful robots passing by. He crossed it and came to a lake where another lady lived, and though she was beauteous, her aspect was evil. She said, “You have a sacred heart, strong warrior, but I bid you leave me.” He thought to charm her with guile, and said “But I’m hungry for a little bit of heaven!” She stood up and shouted, “Eat your heart out!” He grew wroth and drew himself up to his full height. Four foot three. He announced petulantly, “I am the King of Rock n’ Roll! Never More shall you taunt me, you Hoochie Koochie Bitch!” Then he slipped away and followed the southern cross, muttering something about “damned country girls.”