Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sunday Scribbles XXXX

 It occasionally seems as though there is a crude inevitability about life. That Destiny, however dull its armour may be, is still ready for one more foray into the affairs of man.
I am blithering on about games.
Last night we saw the great man-grinding machine that is the All Blacks slowly disassemble the hopes and dreams of the plucky Welsh team. Wales is a tiny sub-nation that sits like a leek-flavoured pimple on the rump of the island that perfidious Albion claims as its own. It regularly offers up 15 men as sacrifical lambs: men who battle mightily, courageously, and futilely against the black-clad New Zealanders. Meanwhile the three blind spinners of fate have indifferently decided, with an iron will, that the Welshmen's courage and dreams must be vanquished and discarded. The red-clad dragons of Wales leave the field of battle mere husks of their former selves, while the New Zealanders grow more handsome, strong, and intelligent with every encounter.
So it must seem to the crofters in the valleys, boyo.
Meanwhile, the cowherds and shepherds, graziers and vintners, lawyers and criminals, ad-men and media monkeys of New Zealand are drooling over our new sporting heroes: the "Unbeaten" All Whites. We finally managed to send another team to the Football World Trophy, and they have acquitted themselves honourably. If a medal were to be struck, it would trumpet their triumph on the face-side: they did not lose a game. The obverse side of that coin, never to be seen or talked about, would bear the motif "they did not win a game, either."
There is talk of a parade. Perhaps someone will be employed to walk beside Ricky Herbert, the team coach, to occasionally whisper into his shell-likes "you are just a man."
Yes, the All Whites did well. They scored points. They scored goals. And they managed to hold three well-known countrys' vastly expensive and hugely talented teams to a draw. And we have celebrated, mighily, because the tele told us to.
What do I think of the All Whites' effort? Bloody amazing. I am thrilled.
Destiny wasn't satisfied with ball games, however. Last night Jenny and I went to visit with the splendid Chris and Lyndsay. Excellent French Onion soup, a delightfully rustic chicken, leek, and prune pie, followed by a thumpingly good chocolate mousse. Conversation at their table is always a delight, and they cunningly befuddled my senses with nacreous wines and various spiritous liquors so my famously rapier-sharp wit is blunted upon their bon mots. Eventually the conversation drifted to the subject of games, and Lyndsay produced a word game called, variously, Quiddle and Bloody Stupid Game. I seemed to be the only one to employ the latter name.
Quiddle is a cross between a card game and a word game, and is mighty fun.At one point Lyndsay rushed off to check How Much We're Winning By (All Blacks v Wales). It being my turn to deal, Christine and I mischeivously rigged his hand, making sure he had to worst selection of cards possible. Christine hid his properly dealt cards under a handy cushion. Lyndsay, when he returned, picked up his cards, and mighty was the merriment as we watched his dismay. We laughed and pointed, then confessed our chicanery, and gave him his properly dealt cards. What a marvellous jape!
Slapping my thighs with laughter, I then picked up my cards. It seems that we had, in fact, picked only the second-worst hand with which to deceive the redoubtable Lyndsay. The real all-time worst one was now clutched in my paw.
The three spinners of fate, in their dank cave at the centre of our dreams, guffawed.
I lost the Bloody Stupid Game by miles.
Reading: the last volume of the astonishing "Stranger in Paradise".
Listening To: Antony and the Johnsons, "I Am A Bird Now". Equally astonishing.
More "Paper Heroes":

Prester shuddered. He had seen so much. But nothing about this meeting had been hinted at.

The room erupted in noise. Anger, frustration, and fear swept the room, and Whistler leapt onto a table. Held his arms up, and bellowed “Quiet, you bastards! Quiet!”

The hubbub died down. All eyes returned to Blunt. Hopes, it now seemed, were now pinned on a man 500 years dead.

“We must all keep calm. This,” Blunt’s lip curled, “this Charles owes us all an explanation. Speak, and tell me why you brought us here from the peace of our graves.”

Whistler got down from the table, and went to Charles. Grabbing the man, he hoisted him up, and deposited him on the table. Charles looked down, a smile of appreciation on his lips. “My god,” he thought. “I like what we have done here. I like what we have made. But I can’t imagine that six will be enough.” He spoke up, the buzzing fussiness of his voice now replaced with a confident baritone.

“People. Gentlemen. You know who you are, you know who each other is. You know you all have number of things in common: you are all warriors. You are all heroes. You have all stood and fought on the side of the weak against the pitiless savageness of the strong and evil.

“And that is why we have brought you to us. We are weak. We have an enemy whom we have ignored and allowed to grow in strength, and our laws and customs make it impossible for us to take up arms against him. We fear now that we may all perish.

“We are many people, and our enemy is few. Yet we are helpless against him, against the evil which confronts us. You are our last hope. You are our only hope. Without you, we die.”

Cienwyn climbed up beside him, and took over the narrative. “For two centuries there has been peace in our world. Peace that you all struggled so valiantly to create. This world you find yourselves in is very much your creation. It is a world built on ideas. It was the notions of chivalry and hospitality from the days of Arthur that inspired England to become the mother of all democracies. It was people like you, Colonel Blunt, and you, Sergeant-Major Whistler, who helped build and preserve that democracy. It was you, Mister Grey, who fought in a bitter war which nearly destroyed the greatest democracy of all, that shining city on a hill they called the United States of America. You, John Prester, who was so cruelly treated by the country you loved, yet you continued striving and struggling to ennoble it. “

A roar came from the assembly. “And what of me?” bellowed the huge Cimmerian. “Hanno the Barbarian, they called call me. God Emperor, they called me. I trampled my enemies into the dust and heard the lamentations of their women. I care nothing for this Greek thing, this democracy. Pah! I spit on it!"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sunday Scribbles IXXXX

It seeems I can't blog and rehearse, so I am resigned to doing just the one blog per week until the production is over. I'd forgotten just how much fun doing live theatre is - and it helps to have a really competent cast about you. I do have concerns about a couple of the actors, but am reassured that all will be well on the night.
I am so happy to be a New Zealander. We noisily celebrate not winning a football game in South Africa, and then go all grumpy because we only beat a visiting Welsh rugby team by 30 points. The poor old All Blacks can't win. Well, they do win, constantly, but the nation's made up of Couch Coaches, all of whom know they could have got another 15 points out of what they see as being a very average team. Sigh.
A couple of months back I commented about a TV programme, some 20-odd years ago, making much of a stolen Ford Cortina. Now our media is banging on drearily about a few MPs spending a few hundred bucks on their Government credit card - and then paying the amount back before anyone found out about it. If that's the worst that can happen here, we're doing all right.
Mind you, I am not at all pleased that one MP booked up a bunch of porn on his card. I don't mind - as a taxpayer - paying for the odd Scotch and Soda, but I'm not at all comfortable paying for a man's orgasms. That is beyond tacky.
Have fun, one and all: I am going to read my lines again...
READING: "Strangers In Paradise" - a remarkable graphic novel series, written and drawn by Terry Moore. It's rare that a man can write about women this accurately and sympathetically.
LISTENING TO: Janis Ian, "Between The Lines". Great rainy Sunday morning music.
Time for more PAPER HEROES...

It was time to eat: time for the briefing.

Chapter Six.

5:00pm, Pacific Time, November 5th, 2386.

Charles raised his voice, encouraging all the Sleepers to eat and drink their fill. “This is the year 2386, gentlemen. But you’ll know that.” He can see in their eyes they do. He also detects puzzlement, mystification: they don’t know why they know what they know. Crayne has some idea, thinks Charles. All, then, is well. “There’s plenty of food and drink: your bodies need it. Especially water. You will be a little dehydrated. Please drink. Please help yourself.” He went and spoke quietly, urgently with Blunt, who shook his head, made a savage chopping motion with his hands. Charles spoke again, pleading. Crayne could see the dynamics in the room were changing: where all the power had been with the curious Charles, it was now shifting to the tall Rifleman. He smiled to himself: he could live with that. For the moment.

As the Sleepers went to the buffet tables, four more tables rose from the floor, with four chairs to each. Hanno filled two more plates, and sat and stuffed his mouth with ham. “Who’re you again?” he grunted.

“John Prester. Do you know what’s going on?”

“Crom! If only I did. Then I’d know who to kill!” The half-naked barbarian laughed, and shovelled more food into his mouth.

“Where did you die, John Prester?” asked the giant Cimmarion.

“Cambodia,” said John Prester. “Yes. At a monastery. I was laying gold leaf onto the Buddha. I think I fell. Yes. I fell. And you?”


“Yes. A jungle country. Gentle, and hot. Good for a man’s spirit.”

“Ah,” said Hanno. “This is not the first time I’ve died, you understand. I have known sorcerers who could do this sort of thing on a spare Moon Day. But I thought I was gone, this time! I was in the mountains, alone, and the Snow Gods caught me! Ha! Stupid!’ The big man laughed, spraying ham across the table.

“I’ve always thought you were more legend that reality,” said Prester.

The big man laughed again, drained a tumbler of water, and replied, “Some of my enemies thought the same. Until they died.” He slapped the table. “Eat! Drink! You’ll feel better.”

Charles turned from Blunt, then back again. Quite the little dance, thought Crayne. Blunt then shrugged his agreement, and clapped his hands for silence.

His voice, though low, carried to everyone in the room. Charles, Cienwyn, Adam, and Paulus stepped to the side of the room, crossed their arms, and listened.

“My name, as you know, is Andrew Blunt. My companion is Sean Whistler. Like you, we are dead, yet we are here. How this was done, I don’t yet know. Hanno – your gods would have been proud of this. Six dead men, all soldiers, warriors, brought together to some strange time. We have been given some knowledge and understanding of each other, and a little more to help us through these first hours. When we sleep we shall learn more. How this is to be done I do not know: our guardians assure me that it is so. I have been chosen to lead. We shall see. I do now know where I am being asked to lead you, or why.”

Prester was thunderstruck. Each passing second brought more memories, a cascade of memories and  knowledge he couldn’t understand, a waterfall of data, most of which made no sense to him. Could he have killed like that? His mind was flooded with blood, the steel, eruptions of violence, and shattered bodies. He also saw, somewhere in the mist of incarnadine fury, a smiling face. Vast, wide, calm. A Buddha. He also saw things strange and terrible: his country, that he had invested so much in, had become a synonym for terror. Drums of horror beat at him, mingled with pictures of hope. He saw the past, and couldn’t understand it. He had been given a glimpse of the future, and he was now living beyond that time. Where he stood now was a place of terror, of fear, of – but every time the emotions threatened to overcome him, he calmed down, and stood distant from it all. He thought of the heroin highs some of the kids in his platoon had sought, and which he had experimented with.

Prester shuddered. He had seen so much. But nothing about this meeting had been hinted at.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunday Scribbles XXXVIII

Rainy and grey Sunday mornings are perfect for reflection. The weather this morning, however, is very schizophrenic: periods of bright sunlights breaking up the heavy grey clouds and heavy rain squalls. This unsettled weather is making it difficult for me to successfully follow any continuous and coherent thought patterns.
That last glass of wine last night might also be a factor.
So, yes, it's been an odd morning. Shifty, moody, unpredictable. Unsettled. But a few thoughts have occurred.
You may recall that I told, a few weeks ago, of the woman who - as a teenager - had been stopped by German soldiers as she was ferrying weapons to a local Underground cell. She was saved, almost divinely, by a bomb that fell from a seemingly clear sky, and that killed the troops, while merely blowing her into an adjacent paddock.
I visited her last week. She was in agony. Her skin had werupted with a few dozen huge blisters. They hung from her arms and legs, saggiung drupes, filled with a clear, blood-red fluid. She even had a few on the soles of her feet, making walking a fearsome thought.
The dermatologist is intrigued, and had taken many phtographs, hoping for fame when he publishes his case-notes. One hopes that any acclaim will be more than skin deep, especially if he manages to affect a cure.
Mrs H says that if he does manage to successfully treat her condition, it "will be miraculous". It won't be, of course. God will have done nothing. In fact, if a kind and benevolent god were to exist, one who took a deep and personal interest in his flock, she'd never have contracted the disease that caused the blisters. So it won't be a miracle. It will merely be the work of a highly evolved monkey.
Mind you, when I consider the humble banana, I do consider the capriciousness of evolution. It  astonishes that vegetable matter has evolved so many astonishing ways of delivering its genes on to the next generation. One would think that after a few hundred million years plants would have settled down to a few hardy ways of starting the next generation off.
Food would then be boring, but at least it would grow and survive a little mnore successfully that it does.
I've just realised, of course, that I'm coming to some sort of aapproval for genetic engineering. Hmm. I will have to give this some more thought. Anyone have any food for that thought?
Reading: "Omega", by Jack McDevitt. Once again, I have discovered an excellent sci-fi writer. Incidentally - the "Directive 51" that I read a few weeks back was fun, but flawed: it was, it turned out, a right wing polemic. I don't know whether I approve or disapprove of fiction that has such a poltical agenda. Again - I'll have to think more about it.
Listening to: Jimi Hendrix, "Are You Experienced".
More "Paper Heroes":
Grey grinned, and held out his hand. “Shake, pardner. I don’t know whut’s going on here, but you and your two big friends look like you’re handy in a scrap, f’sure.”

Blunt shook the small man’s hand, and was surprised at the power in it. Not to small after all, thought Blunt. He remained uneasy. Nothing was as it should be, and everything it couldn’t be. He ran a finger across the wall’s surface: it was warm and glossy, and yielded to a thumbnail. It was made of no substance he had ever seen before. Whistler kept close to him, gazing about with child-like wonder.

Blunt knew that he was suffering from some form of shock. He could still hear the awful sound of the bayonet scraping his eye-socket and the back of his skull. A sudden wave of nausea hit him, making him sweat. He knuckled the perspiration away from his eyes, and wondered at the words Post-Traumatic Shock Syndrome. Words that made no sense, yet which he knew. Then, moments later, it was a concept he understood.  The nausea eased, and he bit at the roast chicken in his hand. He glanced again at Whistler, and the two other big men: Crayne and, what was it, Hanno? They all looked as though they had come from the same mould. Crayne and Whistler were equals in height and heft, while Hanno towered over them by a good half-head. All three were well muscled, although again Whistler appeared to be the softest of the three. Blunt knew, however, of the power that lay beneath Whistler’s protective layer of fat.

“It’s kept me warm on many a cold night in Portugal and Spain, so it has, and I’ll be adding to it as I enjoy my retirement as a gentleman horse trader and breeder. So I shall.”

Blunt smiled at the memory, and looked again at Charles. The man stood a little less than five and a half feet in height, was stooped, and very pale. His hair was unruly, black, and receding. His movements were quick and birdlike: he reminded Blunt of a hedge sparrow. No one spoke: the silence was broken only by the strange music that filtered through the walls.  Hanno and Whistler went to the table of food and, as any good soldier would, loaded platters with meats, bread, and baked vegetables. There were no tables to sit at, so they squatted, with their backs against the wall. Blunt suddenly felt thirsty. He seized a tankard of water, and drank deeply.

Three more people entered the room. It was Cienwyn and the two men who had stayed in the background. It was time to eat: time for the briefing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Mokopuna..

More drivelling and thinking on Thomas Paine. He wrote for us all, I think, when he penned tese words: "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
It goes without saying that he was banging on about the armed conflict the fledgling United States of America (a descriptive term he coined: it became a name not long afterwards) was waging against its oppressors, the British government and King.
But I have a grand-daughter and a grandson-by-proxy. It seems to me that I have a responsibility to ensure that they mature into a world that will nurture them, instead of a world that is poisoned by the greed and stink of growth, profiteering, sweatshop labour, slavery, and poverty.
When Obama asked the American people to work hard to rebuild their nation over the mistakes of his greedy predecessor's vileness, he was applauded. When he actually set out a a plan that would ask them to actually do something concrete and make a few trivial sacrifices, they turned their backs on him.
I've been watching "The Pacific", and reading the companion book. Sixty years is not a long time ago, yet I have to wonder if those people - the servicemen who went away to struggle and die for our freedom (an Idea, rather than a Thing) - would look at us and say that their sacrifices were actually worth it.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people died brutal deaths for the notion that their children's life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were worth their deaths.
And, inside a generation, we have spat on their graves.
The Old Testament tells how Moses led his people away from slavery, and toeward a promised land. In the middle of their long march (he must have been a lousy navigator) he climbed a mountain to commune with his god. Munching merrily on a magical herb, he enjoyed a quiet trip inside his own skull. By the time he came back, a little worse for wear, he found that his tribes had turned their backs on all he had worked so hard for, and were busy worshipping some other odd god. He went crook at them, and kicked them in the arse.
The bourgeousie and the working class have turned away from sacrifice, and toward excessive instant gratification. Each generation seems to compete with its predecessors in the effort to outdo them in consumerism. We have forgotten what it's like to look fore than two years ahead. Two months, I should say. We see our grandchildren, our mokopuna, and we neglect the fact that we have to fight for them today. Our arses need kicking.
"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
Listening to: "The Very Best of Otis Redding". Cool.
Reading: Kinky Friedman, "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch". The man is a genius.
Paper Heroes:

They let the firearms lie there. 
The group had followed Charles down a curving 50-metre corridor, before entering a wide, sprawling room. It had taken the three  newcomers a matter of moments to dress: Justin Grey, the small Texan, had dressed in expensive ranch-style clothes: denim trousers, black shirt, finely tooled boots, long yellow neckerchief, and black J. B. Stetson hat. Hanno had been satisfied with his more exotic garb: the thick leather jerkin, leather wrist-guards, thick silk purple trews held up by a broad belt, and animal fur boots. And John Prester, more prosaically, in a pair of baggy camo trousers, black tee-shirt, and combat boots.

Blunt noted with pleasure that this room had corners, and colours. Like the room he’d woken up in, though, this one had no windows to the outside world. Along the wall opposite the door they entered stood a bar, as yet unmanned, and a wide table laden with cold meats, salads, and breads. Another long table carried the weapons: Blunt and Whistler’s rifles and gun, four more swords, a fancy gun-belt that held two pistols, an enormous knife, a composite bow and quiver of arrows.. Blunt was dizzy with the new sensations: music that came from nowhere, strange paintings in the wall, this small, fussy man who had led them there. Blunt stopped at the food, picked up a chicken leg, and watched as the small cowboy buckled his own gun-belt on. The Texan stood, flexed his hands, then drew the pistols so quickly that Blunt blinked. He watched the small man repeat the performance, then turn away. Grey looked at him, and grinned.

“Well, Colonel, some things haven’t changed. But if these here Colts are mine, damned if you cain’t spit in my eye and call me a Yankee.”

“Yankee, eh? We called you Jonathans. But I do know of Yankees. I met a fine one once, in France: he saved my life.”

“Well, I never did hold with the notion that there weren’t any good Yankees. Yours was in France, so that made him better than most.” Grey grinned, and held out his hand. “Shake, pardner. I don’t know whut’s going on here, but you and your two big friends look like you’re handy in a scrap, f’sure.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

I've Been Saved. Hallelujah!

Rationalism and humanism are terrible. That is to say that they do inspire fear in the heart of a lazy man. (especially one like me).They are disciplines that require strength, patience, and courage.
If I were a religious man I would have some sort of spiritual nomnsense to fall back upon. But I'm not.
I've been reading about Thomas Paine, you see. He was a chap who did invoke his god in his writings, so I can't accuse him of being atheistic or agnostic. But he did call upon his fellow man to pull his finger out of the dyke, and to let the floodwaters of change sweep across a new land, to wash away the current ideologies, and to allow an Idea to take shape and form.
Paine wrote these words in the late 1700s: "These are times that try men's souls.The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly - 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value."
He was, of course, writing to inspire the soldiers and militia of the Continental Army that was attempting (and succeeding) to toss out a tyrannical form of government and replace it with a representative form. This was stunning radicalism (and treason) at the time: and his words hold true today.
Replace the idea of despotic government in his statement with the idea that we are all held in thrall to international financing. Easy credit has been extended to all of us, so we can whimsically fill our homes with all manner of stuff. "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly". Because electronic money has made purchasing stuff so easy, we seem to have lost all perspective about value.
We've sold our souls on the altar of easy credit. The commecials and advertisements bellow buy now, with 50 months free credit - just twenty short months after such irresponsible behaviour brought the world to its knees.
Our political and civic leaders have lost the courage of vision. The one person who has had the courage to ask his countrymen to make a sacrifice - Obama, at his inauguration - has been ignored and vilified by the political Right Wing for expecting others to share his vision of a rich future, in which each person cared for his neighbour.
I suggest we slow down, sniff the cowpats, plant a rose, and cut up our credit cards - no matter how "convenient" they make our lives. If we want something, make an individual sacrifice that will actually benefit the whole community: save for it. The banking system won't like you for it, of course, because they'll be paying you for the use of your money, instead of charging you at usurious rates for allowing you to use theirs.
Paine, Jefferson, Franklin, Lafayette, and latterly Obama have all called upon us to rebel against the greatest powers on earth: in the 18th century, the New Americans were rebelling against being ruled by a demented King who lived thousands of miles away on a rain-swept island. Obama has asked that we rebel against the modern financial sector: a much larger and more insidious hegemony, one that hides its power behind jingles and nifty slogans. The big banks submit to no border or government, and they rule with a cruel despotism that Machiavelli would have understood.
No bank has advertised itself as a savings organisation for many years. They've all become sources of easy credit instead. We have to ask ourselves why the banks no longer want us to save. the answer is easy: it doesn't suit the banks' purposes.
"Tyranny, like hell,is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder to conflict the more glorious the triumph." We have to stop doing what the banks want, and start doing what our fellow citizens need us to do: don't buy on credit. It'll end up costing you your soul. Save for what you want, get interest on your savings, then pay cash. The purchase will be all the sweeter for your patience and work.. and you won't be held in thrall to a power you didn't vote for.
Listening To: Leonard Cohen: "The Future". It seemed appropriate.
Reading: Um - Christopher Hitchens, "Thomas Paines' Rights of Man".
Paper Heroes:

There is a stunned silence. The small Texan’s face pales as he staggers with the shock; the huge barbarian growls.

“I thought so. I rather fancy that someone’s got something in mind for us. Something we haven’t volunteered for.” Thomas Crayne’s voice sounds mild: he face is savage.

“Bravo, bravo, well done.” The voice buzzes from the door, which has re-opened. Charles stands there. “Now if you’d all kindly get clothed, maybe you’d be kind enough to accompany me? I have a briefing, and no mind to postpone it.” His halting speech patterns have gone, to be replaced by a haughty tone, one accustomed to obedience.

Minutes later, he leads them, these six baffled, dead men, these warriors and heroes, these pale and scarred people, into a wide corridor, and on to their fate: a fate they had already felt sealed.

Chapter Five.

3:00pm, Pacific Time, November 5th, 2386.

Blunt held his sword up, and ran his eye down the edge. Memories, emotions rubbed against one another, and he felt his anger growing. It was a plain sword, nothing fancy. It had saved his life on countless occasions, and he had used it to kill more often than he cared to remember.

He knew it looked right. He could see the nick that the huge French chasseur had put into it with his sabre, before Blunt had twisted his blade and buried its point the soldier’s belly. The grip was worn where it should be worn, polished shiny with sweat and fear.

But it wasn’t the same weapon that Sean Whistler had made for him out of two other blades, when Blunt had been recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound. This sword was too light. It felt flimsy, as though there were no strength in it.

He slammed it into the scabbard at his side, picked up his bayonet, and sheathed that. His rifle was on the table, along with Whistler’s rifle and giant seven-barrelled siege gun, a weapon that could clear a room in a thunderclap of noise and lead. They let the firearms lie there.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sunday Scribbles XXXVII

The weather's all outside, which is a good thing on a day like today. Rain and wind: I'm glad I'm not working.
Synchronicity Saturday: Jenny had to work, so I got all domestic. When she came home I offered to make her a cup of coffee.. and made her exactly that. A cup of coffee. Not a mug - which has been our standard hot drink vessel since we met. She was surprised: because when she had been at work, she'd been thinking that it would be nice to drink from a cup. So it goes...
Today is our 12th wedding anniversary. Too poor to do anything celebratory, really - so we'll stay at home, and watch "The Lovely Bones".
I've never been married for 12 consecutive years before. There's comfort in treading new territory, and finding it benign.

Reading: Along with the Hitchens book, which I recommend to everyone, I'm also reading Douglas Reeman's "The Glory Boys". This is the second Reeman book I've read, and the man is a master of melancholy. His aching and world-weary tone is pitch-perfect.
Listening To: Blind Faith. English blues from the 1960s: john Mayall's second-best band. And his second-best is so much better than most others' first best....

More "Paper Heroes":
As one, all three fall to their knees, then huddle down, covering their ears, keeping their eyes tight shut, and their mouths open. Screaming.
The three sleeping figures now stir, and the sound and light snap off as though they had never been.

Blunt has a nosebleed, and mops at it with the loincloth. “It might have been advisable, perhaps, to follow their bloody lights,” he says.

“Perhaps,” murmurs Crayne. “Meanwhile, we have others come to join us. We can only hope they’re allies.”

The three men are on their feet now. Blunt, Whistler, and Crayne inspect them with interest. Even though the trio isn’t aware of it, their nanotech-assisted minds are starting to process data at ever-faster rates. There’s a majestically-built blue-eyed giant with yellow hair and a spectacular plaited moustache; a short man, well-muscled, but of indifferent features; and a wary looking man, long black hair loose, hanging to his shoulders. His chest has been mutilated at some stage: scars criss-cross it in a welter of forgotten pain.

Thomas Crayne spoke first. “Gentlemen: half an hour ago we were as you are now. We have a little idea of what’s happened, is happening, but I recommend you get dressed first. I imagine that’s your clothing over yonder.’

The giant blonde growls, and says, “By Crom, what is this?” He stops, and swipes at his tongue. “What is this that I say? These words are not mine! What tongue is this I speak?”

“If I’m not mistaken, my friend,” The Crusader grins, “your name is Hanno? Hanno of Cimmeria? Sometimes called the Barbarian?”

“Yes, yes, and Emperor God, and all that.” The man is worrying at his tongue.

Crayne continues. “I think we should postpone our questions for a while. There is a man named Charles who would like to meet with us.” He grins broadly. “I must say I never thought to find myself sharing the same time and space as Hanno. My name, by the way, is Thomas Crayne. My companions are Colonel Andrew Blunt and Sergeant Major Sean Whistler.”

There was some murmuring when Crayne announced his name, but only one person who reacted to Blunt and Whistler’s names. He remains silent, but turns a burning eye on them. It is the scarred man.

Blunt smiles, and extends a hand. “John Prester? I know of you. I wish I knew why, and how, but be that as it may. I am glad, indeed, to make your acquaintance.”

Prester says nothing, but extends his hand. Then he turns toward the clothing, and pads away.

“He a dangerous one, Sir,’ said Whistler.

“Almost as dangerous as you, Sar’ Major.”

The small, indiscriminate man reveals himself to be Justin Grey, and by his voice a Texan. “And just whut is going on here, Sir?” he asks.

Thomas Crayne thinks hard and fast, then replies.

“I think we’ve been brought against our will to a time and place not of our choosing,” replies Crayne. “My companions and I all have a vague memory of dying. Does this hold true for you as well?”

There is a stunned silence. The small Texan’s face pales as he staggers with the shock; the huge barbarian growls.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm Frightened...

There's a lot in this world to scare any rational human being. First up would be our Prime Minister, trying to sound sincere. After all the puffery and wounded feelings of the past week re the saleof Kiwibank, he's finally (so National Radio tells me) said that Kiwibank will never be sold as long as he's PM. This guy changes his mind as quickly as he reads the polls. The man is a prat, his cabinet is a bunch of prats, and that evil gnome he calls an ally is... well, an evil gnome. History will, I'm sure, grace Rodney (Skeletor) Hyde with a special approbium, but evil gnome will do for now.
The Israelis, meanwhile, find it convenient to maintain a steady plan of shitting into their own nest. I can understand that they don't want arms being introduced into the Gaza strip: how else will they continue with their barbarous subjugation of a people? But surely they must be able to find a way of differentiating between an AK57 and a can of baby formula. I'm pretty sure that I, with a little training, could tell the difference.
Speaking of which: the so-called flotilla of blockade-running ships. Why did they all stick together? All they did was present the Israeli Navy with one large target. If there was, say, fifty boats (I heard that figure once, but didn't hear a confirmation) then wouldn't it have made sense to scatter? Perhaps some may have made it through....
I saw a terrifying commercial on tele: falsies for bums. Once upon a time, last week, the eternal question was "does my bum look big in this?" Now, because men have always answered hom=nestly (yeah, right) women are buying padded knickers, to make their arses look bigger.
I was at a so-called "Rest Home" the other day, delivering bbooks, being Saint Library. I was in a corridor, and checking out which room I had to visit next. An old lady came out of her room and asked me if I knew the way to the dining room. They make these places as geographically impossible as, well, possible... so I told her I had no idea. I turned away, to do whatever the hell it was that I was doing, and I heard her say "I'm so frightened". And she was. It was the most chilling thing I've ever heard anyone utter.
I really don't want to get that old.
Reading: Christopher Hitchens, "Thomas Paine: The Rights of Man". We have no idea how fortunate we are to have been born into this period. We have no idea how rich and free we are. And it's all due to a few astonishing pople like Thomas Paine.
Listening To:  Kings of Leon, "Only By The Night". When I grow up, I wanna be a rock star.
Watching: The last episodes of "Lost". No, I haven't seen them yet, and I know it's supposed to be a real dismal effort, but I still have to see for myself.... sucker.
More "Paper Heroes":

.....Secondly sir: there’s some bloody funny business going on with them behind us: the other sleeping ones.”
“Paulus – stop the Activation!” snaps Cienwyn.

“Would do if I could do. But we were sure the first ones would be out of the room before the second Activation started. Stopping it will kill them, and we can’t do that. First rule, Cienwyn.”

The First Rule, taken from the Hippocratic Oath of so many centuries past: First, do no harm.

“Yes. Forgive me. Well.” Cienwyn leans back, and watches the activity. She makes the only decision she can. “Very well, close the door. Keep them in. Are all three awakening now?”

Adam answers, “All three: Grey, Prester, and Hanno.”

“Well, this could be interesting. Get Charles back. Let him know what’s going on.”

The three sleeping figures are now under the bright chromatic flickering, and the Crayne and his companions have to raise their hands to cover their eyes.

“Gentlemen, if you insist on staying in there, please turn your back to the light. It may damage your eyes permanently. The noise is going to become deafening, so cover your ears with your palms, and keep your mouths open. Do you understand? Cover your ears, and open your mouths.” Cienwyn’s warning is almost unnecessary: all three men are blinking back tears from the light. They turn as the strange window goes opaque again.

“What the hell’s going on, Crayne?” Blunt shouts. There’s anxiety in his voice, but it’s under control. Crayne is impressed by the Englishman and the big Irishman’s poise. The noise in the room has built up from the low hum of air-conditioning machines to a steady rumbling thunder.

“It’s my guess that they are like us: dead men, being revived, reawakened.”

“Oh, holy Mary, mother of God,” cries Whistler.

The light and sound plucks at their clothing, whips their hair about like frenzied snakes. As one, all three fall to their knees, then huddle down, covering their ears, keeping their eyes tight shut, and their mouths open. Screaming.