Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Thigh and I

There's this guy I know, he's ten feet tall, he's got a flying machine. Where it's not bars it's cogs; where it's not cogs, it's wheels. He flies to Mars, and comes down splashing in a huge ocean. Now can you explain that, I say to him, how the red planet has water and you find it. Man, he says, it's like magic, I was looking for gold; now, if I was looking for water...
But hey, he's got a speed machine, a real hot rod, and he races with the devil. Not hight stakes, no souls on the line; the devil says he has enough to be getting on with, and this guy he wouldn't know what to do with a soul if he got one — he's only got an eye for machines. But the devil, sure he plays dirty, and this guys ends up all smashed in a hospital. And what isn't broken is bent; what isn't bent is still breathing. And he says he's invented a machine that can distil the human spirit. And I laugh, there's no market for that sort of stuff these days. But when the guy gets out from hospital he makes this drink that everyone wants to buy. It makes them feel good, but they don't know why. It starts seventeen wars, three rebellions and many heart attacks — I think we all know that too much of a good thing isn't good for anyone.
The guy gets out of drinks, of course, because they don't move. And he builds an ocean liner, and sails off into the sunset. When he comes to this lovely desert island he slips off his ship onto the sand and stretches out in the sun. So he's asleep when the cannibal tribe come and tie him up, and he's all boiling up when he wakes. Well, he says to these cannibals, have some of this to drink with your meal.
And they drink the human spirit and now cannibals rule the earth, which has solved a lot of problems, though a lot of folks find it hard to take that the President wears a bone through his nose.
Meanwhile I am living at the top of a fifty-storey skyscraper with a whole city laid out beneath me. My only possession is the thigh bone of my mechanical friend, which talks to me and sings me lullabies. We sleep together in a lovely, silk-sheets waterbed, and every morning I take him for a good long walk in the park, by the huge cauldron where they cook political prisoners these days.
And on a starry night when I see a light flashing in the sky I know another guy is off to Mars to look for water, and when he comes back he'll be the man with the most gold on a planet where the currency is stones with holes.
And my pet thigh bone will croon me a lullaby and encourage me to take a long draught of the human spirit, and get in my speed machine, built to his specs, and then the pair of us will take on the devil, and burn that sucker right to hell.

DR c1990

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Anna bella

she whispers like water
over the rocks of the dreams
that are scattered
a change in the weather
and like a river
she is flowing
opening up like a flower.

What secrets do you have?
I wanna know.
What worlds do you live in?
I really wanna know.
where will we go
when everywhere we've been
is dancing around us
a carnival of ghosts
hopeless and lonely
I wanna know you
and I want you to know me.

a terminal ballet
we move in flounces
talking but
saying nothing
saying nothing
but still talking.

DR 1990.

Electron beam

waking in a world where a million rays float by
the sun is in my eyes
I watch it spinning turning wheeling
everything flows
everything flashes by.

dancing on the razor wire of life
nothing as real as it seems
you see the dream
I see the dream that
lies behind the dream

you know you have wings
you know you can swim
you know that the world never ends
it can never begin

you know nothing
that doesn't have a name
everything that changes
ultimately stays the same.

living in a world where a million worlds collide
this is a world of stars
suffering in a sun of silence
nothing moves
planets passing by

DR 1990.

Virtual particles

you and I
have been friends
since before
the beginning of time
we do not know each other.
we walk beneath
the stars of dancing symmetry
and all we perceive
the waves upon the sea.
we have come far
to remain the same
to hold onto what
must change,
we must come and go thus
each our wandering sun
never cold
never warm
never to move at all.

DR 1990

Riot of colour

Ugly as sin
And sin is beautiful,
Like a little igrl
In a pink dress,
You know what she'll grow to be
A big girl just like me.

No rose-coloured glasses
But I still can't see
If I was a colour
Which would it be?

You're turning on the clocks
Just to measure
How much time
We could have together,
I fear
you'll live in me forever.

your skin's so fragile
and will get old
Burning now
But every fire grows cold
even stars burn to shells
You're hotter than a thousand hells

I'll remember
what you look like
I'll set it down on paper
In a riot of colour
and remember you at your best,

A little girl
In a lovely pink dress.

DR 1986.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I am skipping stones across the water. Some go further than others. The cold of the sand is seeping through my trousers. I want to go home but I have to wait for my ride.

I hope she is coming back for me. I know I am hard to misunderstand but does a good heart count for nothing?

It is growing dark and the dampness of an autumn evening is settling in. I don't know whether I should wait any longer.

But if I start walking home, will she see me on the road or drive straight past?

If she is not coming back, I am better off walking. If I don't set off soon, it will be very dark and the roads are not lit.

There is a moment when the person leaves you, just a moment, when you would pay all you have to be able to touch them on the shoulder and say, no, really, forget all that and start at this point.

I am brushing down my trousers. I don't hear a car. I begin to walk away from the sea.


There is a point of stillness, a time when the focus is intense enough to dissolve my being, removing intention. I am no longer feeling her shoulders. I have become the intensity of the stroke.

I have mentioned this before.

But it's something I often think about. I can't rationalise it. I couldn't do it, couldn't induce it. I used to meditate when I was a child and could remove myself from the current but if I try the same thing now, the stillness is filled by the onrush of things I already spend too much time thinking about.

Massage is not like sex because the involvement in sex is for me, and detachment in good massage is for them.

Or is it? I think it is for them because it is not the thing I am trying to achieve. It certainly doesn't happen on each occasion -- only when breath and stroke align, when the muscles of the client are relaxed, their skin is soft enough not to distract me and the ambience is not disrupted by the outside.

It's incredible how rarely you can create that feeling.

But the attachment in sex is enjoyable. Losing control -- the commonality between the two -- is enjoyable. In other ways, losing control can be so painful, so disturbing of life and its enjoyment, but to cease to be is sweet.

When you touch someone, perhaps you are kissing them, if a moment comes when you stop thinking when you are doing, and you are only doing, you can find cessation. You can still the turbulence and feel pure and whole.

Sometimes, but only rarely, when I am dandling Zenita on my knee, and all my thought is directed into her smile, her laugh...

I don't ask myself why I want it to stop. I just want it to stop.

Sometimes, Mrs Zen suggests that I should take drugs. She thinks I have something treatable. Unless they find a cure for the human condition though, drugs will never be anything but a way to bludgeon feeling, and take half what you are with it, and I want to be what I am almost as much as I want feeling to stop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Like cats their claws dirty as night's only as
dirty as you want it to be
choke me
c'mon angel wrap your head around me
I can see thru your eyes how stupid I look
That any word is good enough so long as it's not love and if I pray
I'll say a little prayer for you.

Choose a sentiment I've got plenty I'm a
sentimental guy
kill me
hang me up on spikes
c'mon angel trip the lights
for me
Put me up on wires
c'mon angel do it for me
Lift me up
Higher & higher & higher
I go as high as I go and when I do
I'll say a little curse on you.

DR c1990

A man in your bed

Theres a knife in your back — rusting like
the love is gone sour — Theres no way to
go back —
Theres no fear of attack
Only fear of the sweating fear
Theres nobody here — No one I know
Theres a knife in your back — No one took
your place — No one holding your hand
Theres nothing to understand.

The lights are dimming —
they're out —
No more coins for the meter.
Tonight the cars are all stopped
Tonight the whsipers are stilled,
Theres a knife in your back
One step and youre killed —

No longer you're killed,

DR 1988

Monday, April 18, 2005

Dear Fool

To me, rejection slips are always saying:

Dear Fool

The very notion that you were fuckwitted enough to think we'd want to publish your bilge has kept us laughing this week. And not just the whole office. We told everyone down the pub too. And they went home and told their wives. If you ever come to Clerkenwell, the entire suburb will be rocking with laughter at your presumption. Small children will pelt you with stones and women will make snide comments about your penis. Even the dogs will show their contempt by mobbing you and pissing on your leg. Which is attached to an ugly contemptible body, housing a brain that it would be charitable to describe as fifth-rate.

You're not even worth telling to fuck off. That's why we used a form letter. Everyone else gets tips. You got the paper I wiped my arse with.

Yours sincerely


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Loving the alien

It is better to be a lover than the beloved. A lover can choose to be disappointed but the beloved is doomed to disappoint. Lovers can build expectations but all the beloved can expect is the dwindling and extinction of the love. The beloved has a burden, something to lose. The lover is giving a gift that they can take back, without warning, without reason.

I want to be loved with the same uncomplicated, unforced love I love with. I am undemanding, unimposing. Love for me is an unstoppable expression that wells from the part of me I would never change for any price. I do not believe I will ever find that love. I do not know whether it is a foolish, romantic notion that it even exists because it runs entirely counter to what I know about people and how they are. But I like foolish, romantic notions anyhow.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Waiting for the sirens' call

As it is, when it was is my favourite song. There's no good reason. It's just another New Order song, but I never tire of it.

It sounds like the exhilaration I sometimes feel. It sounds like a person has taken flight and although they are not in control of their wings, they do not want to land. It sounds like success.

Waiting for the sirens' call was not made by New Order. They got someone else in to do it. They hired some session musos and said, Take the piss. They asked someone to make turgid, workaday music that doesn't thrill me.

It hurts that someone I love has so cruelly let me down.


I do not make a great fanatic because I am not a good follower. Being a follower means accepting everything. Following a thing, an ism, a creed, means swallowing a belief whole. But I have too many questions for that. I could not be a communist. Although I feel Marx was right that history is largely about economic struggle between different classes, he wasn't clear on why. He also was short on ideas about how the state would wither away.

I don't believe states are in the business of withering.

Neither could I be an anarchist. I think people *should be able to* self-organise. They should be able to find a way to love and respect each other enough to create a world that is fair to all.

But they don't. It is far too implausible for me to espouse it as a cause. An endpoint of a revolution, maybe, a tool for change, definitely, a way of thinking, only if you can ignore that people are people.


Songs sometimes become attached to people for me. If I care about you at all, you probably have a song. For Zenella, for instance, it is Vapour trail. No reason. It just makes me think of her. It feels like aspiration to me.

I feel clumsy with words today, this week. Not a good thing for an editor. I have been unwell, a stomach bug, and I have been suffering from headaches. It's a poor excuse but editing involves concentrating. I am thinking that the people I work for won't send me any more work. It's not rational. They rate me. I'm doing a fucking poor job though. I didn't notice that there were no figures for chapter 7. It wasn't a huge big deal but it's part of what I do.

I hate doing it. I'd like to do something I'd actually be good at. A manuscript doctor maybe. But who would pay me to do that?

I am not whining. The sound you hear is my fingers' scrabbling on the metal as I slide down the chute.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Me and Billy

I am here with the Associates' cover of Heart of glass and everything's okay. It's like pulling down the shades. I shut it all out and I'm here with Billy, whispering in my ear.

There are a thousand Billys in the mirrorball. He pretends I am not a husband and father as he puts his tongue in my ear; I pretend he is not dead, broken by depression.

I do not know who will clean up the nightclub when we are gone and I don't care. But someone will, someone will.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


A shell within a shell within a shell
if you find him on a lonely beach
do not tell
that you found a shell within a shell within a shell
If you peel him
hoping to reveal him
uncovering a pearl
Will you feel him
trying to conceal him
with another whorl?
A boy within a boy within a man
if you found him in your plans
do not tell
that you found a boy within the boy within the man,
they will not understand.

If you hurt him
grind him up
desert him
he will curl and cry
If you hold him
snatch him up
and love him
he will fade and die.

A question mark curled within the word
if you answered
you ask, has he heard
but questions are shells like chalk and grit
he left without a word.


Carnival of the Vanities #134 years in the making... or felt like it

Here's Carnival of the Vanities #134. My sack of goodies is positively groaning (regular readers will know that's often the case at Zen Manors).

Okay, I did think about a clever format. Really. And what I came up with was exactly the same post I do whenever I round up sites I've visited: a rambling discourse that is much more enjoyable for me than anyone fool enough to read the whole thing. And no pictures. It's so backward round here, it's like mediaeval times. But with computers. There's no clever arrangement of the posts, either. Not even section headings. They're in the order of receipt.

If you can't say Father Luke is your friend, you're missing a blessing. He's my hip priest kamerad, a sobered-up Bukowski with a heart. Hi, It's Miguel is a beautifully judged vignette. Send him comments that say "Write something longer, Father, so we can enjoy you more".

Modern forms of entertainment have not yet reached Durham NC, so they make their own. melinama at Pratie Place had to make her own cartoons as a kid, using a mutoscope, they were that poor. If you think a mutoscope sounds like something Captain Kirk would use to find aliens with, you need to check out her pics.

Often when a person is arrested for a particularly heinous crime, the media interviews his or her neighbours. "He was so quiet. You never would have thought." Why the media bothers is beyond me; this approach never actually gives an insight into what it is like to have the horrible live among us, to be touched by them, to love them, to know them as something other than the crime they go on to commit. But this stunning piece does and richly so: veined with big themes: murder, betrayal, hatred and love. Chris at Creek Running North shines a light into a dark place and anyone who reads this is bettered for it.

Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels does what it says on the tin. Mark thinks you will have a better life if you accept that two thousand years ago a man was hideously tortured because the omipotent, omniscient creator doesn't like that you covet your neighbour's ass. Mike expresses distaste for the pious hypocrites who use religion as a means to an end – going to church to gain the benefits rather than because they truly believe in the tenets of the religion. This is very apt in times when people use God's name to justify the ungodly ends they are chasing – the vicious demagogues currently conning our American friends have never understood that the proscription on taking God's name in vain does not just mean that one shouldn't swear oaths but that one should not use him as a tool. God would not, for instance, want a person to be fought over for 15 years when their life had ended. He is not a life fetishist, as the Bushistas like to make out. He is fond of death. Why else make your life last only three score years and ten and your death the rest of time?

Adam Gurri at Sophistpundit thinks that some commentators are too dismissive of other points of view. As I've said elsewhere, this is a peculiarly American point of view: that everyone should be listened too because it's fair. I share his belief that dogmatism is a bad thing and, of course, I believe that without doubt, learning is impossible. But some people are just plain wrong. "Just plain wrong" means that their beliefs are *so far* from mine that I can't reconcile them; their axioms are different from mine and sufficiently so that I cannot give their views credence. There won't ever be a middle ground between their and my views because the disagreement is too basic. I feel that way about many on the right in the US (which, because I'm a European, is the far right for me -- Americans forget that their political spectrum is considerably rightshifted from ours). They have an axiomatic belief, for instance, that the individual is what matters. I believe that individuals are nothing without their families, their societies, their people. It informs everything I believe in every area of politics, and where, say, Ann Coulter differs from that, I cannot agree with her without changing the very axioms of my belief. And why should I? She simply does not make appeal to a thinking person. She never has a persuasive argument. Demagogues rarely do because they are not seeking to convince the thinking, who are in any case vastly outnumbered by the sheeple.

Barry Welford at BPWrap - A Different Point Of View presents The Long Tail Principle. Well, that's what he says but he didn't say what the principle actually was or discuss it (he's a businessman so I was guessing it would be something along the lines of "make shitloads of money by selling people something they don't need but can be conned into wanting and fuck the consequences"). He did point to Wikipedia's page on the long tail though. It's very interesting. The principle is that if you add together the sales of not very popular things they actually outweigh the sales of very popular things, even though the latter individually sell a great deal. So if you don't have to stock the unpopular things, you can make a great deal of money out of them. More excitingly, as Wikipedia points out, this implies that small businesses that fill niches can in time overcome the big-box businesses because even though each is small they can gain a greater market share than the big boys (work out for yourself why).

Steve Pavlina at Steve Pavlina's Blog discusses levels of consciousness. No, he doesn't mean Saturday night at my house. He means different levels of consciousness that a person can attain. I don't like this simplistic view of how we are, because let's face it, you can run through several of these levels in the course of an evening with JD or a couple of bottles of cab sav (or even an evening of contemplation if that's what you like to do – I have my doubts you'll get beyond "stupor" if you just like to watch the telly though). Still, I'm not knocking it. Whatever gets you where you want to go. Steve is at least trying to make something of himself.

Brat at Six Ways to Say Goodbye always has her own way of getting the point across. Here's Brat on bird flu. Admit it, you laughed.

Keith at Sortapundit is mad and he's not going to take it any more. He asks whether a cameraman who films the insurgents in Iraq isn't as bad as the insurgents themselves. Well no, Keith, your point is entirely bogus. Sorry to have to say it. Here's why. Our side has journos "embedded". They ride with the marines, they go on patrol, blah blah. So basically you're saying that the goose's sauce is no good for the gander. Okay, yes, the marines are on "our" side. But news is supposed not to be partial, right? The Bushistas have been able to kill thousands of thirdworlders largely because the press has not shown the truth. They retain support because the news has been onesided. Keith thinks it will save lives to show only one side of the story. Keith's wrong. On a broader note, our "free" press is not free if it is required to restrain itself. Is "victory" in Iraq worth surrendering our freedoms for? (Irony meter on, Keith.)

Not satisfied with being shot when they venture overseas, Americans like to shoot each other. Zendo Deb at TFS Magnum sure likes the notion. She is angry that those filthy liberals think the law is something to be respected. Apparently, this old geezer was arrested for concealing a weapon, which he used to shoot and kill an assailant. Deb asks what the old man should have done. Well, Deb, he should have just given the kids his money and rung the coppers. So he loses his wallet. Never mind. Get the criminal compensation board to pay him back what he lost. Don't have one? You would if you were a liberal. Human lives will never be worth as little as the contents of your wallet, Deb, not in any place Dr Zen has even the smallest say. I don't care who does the shooting, you or the mugger. The old guy should get life for murder, pure and simple, and idiots like you should cool your boots and learn what really has value in this life.

Dymphna at ShrinkWrapped talks about family values. His approach is interesting: he suggests that to become good parents we should use the image of a perfect family as a template for our parenting. Personally, I think this is the fast lane to disaster. Dymphna thinks most "good enough" parents are close enough to the model to keep dissonance to a minimum, but I think most parents are just not good enough, and setting an "ideal" makes the distance seem ever greater between their poor best and what they really ought to be doing. The notion that there are any such thing as an "ideal" family and "ideal" values to match is the root of a lot of pain in this world and a motor for the worst kind of demagoguery, as regressive hypocrites hold others up to standards they have no intentions themselves of meeting. But hey, he's got the real doctorate, so give him a read and see what you think.

Gaijin Biker at Riding Sun didn't like the Pulitzer-winning photographs. He is rather unhappy that there are no photos of heroic Americans. He asks whether the famous picture of the marines' raising the flag on Iwo Jima would win today. Surprisingly, I find I sympathise with Gaijin Biker. The invasion of Iraq was a Bad Thing. Those in power lied to us and continue to lie. But does that mean we should lie back? I have no sympathy for soldiers. I think you need to be a special kind of arsehole to join the army – whose purpose is to kill and maim other people, let's not forget – and I'm not afraid to say so (not for me the ridiculous kneejerk promilitarism that all Americans must show unless they want to be accused of being a "traitor"). But they have had triumphs. They have been brave. They have been cheered as well as abused. Why honour those who hate them? They are also killers, many of them. As with so many things in this life, it is not black and white and neither should be our depiction of it.

Mark A. Rayner at the Skwib assures me he's not a Yank. Apparently, he's a Canadian. Dude, colour me ignorant, but I've always thought that was just a moose or two away from Yank. You all sound the same (except for that cute "aboat" thing you do) and you all think beer should look and taste like piss mixed with lemonade. Only kidding! And so is Mark, with the tale of Leonard's toenails. As a man with toenails that could scare children myself, I very much enjoyed this piece of whimsy.

Tom at Anatomy of Melancholy is my idea of a very good writer, able to convey a depth of thought many would struggle to think, let alone write. His thoughts on a blind cat in his Greek garden make this post a personal favourite. Sorry, gushing a bit, but I'm a fan of reflective, observational bloggetry and this is it at its best.

Dying is much in the news recently. Everyone's had their rant about it. Most of us have very strong feelings: mine are in part fuelled by watching a beloved grandfather die in desperation from lung cancer. I would have dearly wished to give him his desire to die easy. His life was over. No amount of prating about the sanctity of life would bring him back. Anthony at Rant of the Loon has different views to me on many things, and on this thing in particular, but this simple, gentle post struck a chord with me. It's not brand new but I think it should be read. And do yourself a favour and read the one previous too (because Looney doesn't use page to a post you can see it underneath this one). Looney captures the simplicity of love and the complexity of grief.

Tom the Pooklekufr at hamstermotor thinks fuck the poor. Tom is not poor. If he was, or felt himself in danger of becoming poor, he'd be all for a government that protected the poor as well as the rich. As is so often the case, Tom's "fisking" of progressive ideas is simplistic. Tom says of Roosevelt: 'His concept of rights was one of "positive rights," or the idea that my right to property must be "gained" at the expense of your own property. In the 19th century, you'd be gutted like a catfish for saying something that evil.' Get the fishknife out, Tom, because that is exactly right. Five-sixths of the world is scrabbling in the dirt so that you have the property you are so keen on having protected. It's not quite a zero-sum game but if we had had a level playing field, you guys would be fucked. Keeping it not level is what your protecting your rights amounts to. Anyway, why waste time on this nonsense? If you're a regressive rightist, you'll agree with every word. If you are a humanist or, erm, think, you'll recognise it straight off the bat as the same old antihuman bollocks.

Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World is taking on Google's patent application. It's weighty stuff but Wayne has a reputation among the business blognoscenti, I believe, for crisp writing about the rather dull subject of search engine optimisation (hey, I'm number one on the big G for "yeah whatever", number two without the quotes, you can't teach me nuffink), and on this evidence, it's deserved. He's going to be going into detail in future posts (which is cunning, because it should snare readers!) and that'll be worth keeping up with.

Andy at The Charlotte Capitalist is not a fan of Rick Warren. He "fisks" The purpose-driven life in eight (fairly short) parts. I've never been a great fan of "fisking" because I'm a great fan of Robert Fisk, whose intellect and acuity dwarf those of most, if not all, of his detractors. And I wasn't totally convinced that Warren was any more than grazed by Andy's onslaught. You need to punch him with reasoning, Andy, not slap him like a girl. Next time get the robot chick to do it.

Buckley F Williams at The Nose on Your Face is much amused by the appointment by the UN of Sandy Berger as an adviser. I'd have been a lot more amused if Buckley hadn't used a racist stereotype to rip the piss out of Kofi Annan, a man of enormous dignitas and grace.

Ashish has a niti (for those who lack Sanskrit, a vision, strategy) that he is revealing to the world in a series of blogposts. He submitted two of them: one that shows that anarcho-capitalism is unsustainable and one about India as a superpower. Anish, Hobbes answered your first question 300 or so years ago with much the same conclusion you come to. Read Leviathan. As for your second post, I think you need to take care not to read too much into blather about "strategic partnership". India is likely to rise in power alongside China, and possibly Russia. All three will contest dwindling oil resources with the US and will likely joust for power in several theatres. Pakistan is an irrelevance in this context, except as a counterweight to India's aspirations. India will make about as good a "partner" for the US as Russia did in the last century. However, its rise is some way off while China's is already happening, so the neocons are talking India up. Expect Pakistan to become a focus of attention for the US as time goes on though.

Alex Withrow uses About Damn Time to rant about whatever he feels like. He's been doing a lot of ranting recently. Grrr, haircare products, hooray, a pig he dissected in biology class, which, it seems, had a colourful history. He also sent me a post about John Titor but the link was fucked. Pity, it's a fantastic story. Check out the Titor site instead.

Jay at The Zero Boss is best known for hosting the Blogging for Books competition (if you are in the blogboondocks and don't know what that is, check his site out and find out, you'll like it). He also writes very funny posts, including this one, to which I can only say CRACK THE BOX, JAY!

The Glittering Eye turns his gaze on to China's environment, which is in a poor state and poses a threat to the world. It's a good post, which is distinguished by the inanity of its commenters: one thinks democracy is the answer – riiiight! because only commies pollute. Another slags off Kyoto (yes, Kyoto is not perfect but it's symbolic – it says we will try to do something – it's step one, not the end of the road). Another thinks China is "ripe for a break-up" (but what into exactly? And how do you propose to break it up?). Another thinks communists can't succeed at capitalism (he's never heard of Mr Putin, clearly).

Asbestos Dust at the imaginatively named Asbestos Dust doesn't mince his words. No, he grinds them. He pastes them. He slams them, he dunks them. He gives them the battering of their life. He makes them beg for mercy. Dust is a real man. He writes real man's posts. This one is about shopping trolleys. But it's not some pussy nonsense about how the wheels go wonky. Oh no!

Jerry Hall once said a woman should be a goddess in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom, or something similar, and who am I to argue? I don't know whether PJ at Bouquet Garni can do whore (although she is hot enough to burn the unwary) but she sure is a goddess in the kitchen, as she proves with... well, not this disaster. Not the best advertisement for her cookbook, so if you like to eat, allow me to recommend it to you in the strongest terms.

Mustang 23 is an officer and a gentleman. He's spending his days ridding the world of Iraqi citizens. When he's not doing that, he's amusing us by poking fun at Southerners. Ah me, if only the world could be changed by gentle humour...

Superhawk at Right Wing Nut House is, you guessed it, a rightwing nut. He wrote something about Canadian political corruption – a subject so interesting that it had me making shadow puppets rather than read it. I now know that you can make a moose if you use both hands.

Nick Schweitzer at the The World According to Nick writes about how the US government's social security proposals are all about choice. When I tell you that Nick doesn't know that investing in the government is just as much investing in the "economy" as investing in Micro$oft or GM, you'll understand that his argument is not too sophisticated. Who would I rather trust with my investments? The government or John Q. Fillmepockets, a dealer who would flog you shares in dogshit if he thought he could con you into buying it? Yes, Nick, it's all about choice, and a great one it is too.

Watcher of Weasels watches weasels. No, not the furry, sharptoothed rodent-type things. Judging by this post on the differences between libertarians and conservatives, what he watches is rightwing politics. No shortage of weasels there.

This Blog is Full of Crap is a title that shows refreshing honesty. I won't link the post: just make up your own racist shit that shows absolutely no imagination.

John Beck at INCITE is obsessed with Kofi Annan. He is desperate for Annan to resign. Yes, because of the oil-for-food thing. (*kof* Don't mention the war. You know, the illegal invasion of Iraq that Annan condemned and the UN refused to support, and, as a consequence, your nation has tried furiously to undermine both ever since.) No, John doesn't think that the corruption in Iraq is reason for Bush to resign (even though it went on "under his nose"). Yes, John thinks that it's funny to call other countries' leaders "kleptocrats" but not his own, even though his best mate ran Enron, his VP's company has made millions out of "rebuilding" Iraq and "swindling" the army. *sigh* Well, it was this or a long, equally ill-informed screed about Terri Schiavo, apparently, so I suppose I should be thankful.

Thank the lord for La Shawn. I've blogged about La Shawn before actually (although I can't remember the post name or when, so I can't link to it, sorry), and I like her. Why am I thanking the lord? Because she is not whinging about the UN or libertarians or nasty Europeans who don't like regressive right bastids. No, none of that, she's whinging about other bloggers. I have to say though, La Shawn, that I'm not really in agreement over trackbacks. You might write on the same topic but not reference the other post so a link to it is not really needed. But I suppose it doesn't hurt to put "La Shawn also wrote about this" if you're tracking back. Otherwise, La Shawn is, as ever, smack on the money.

Mark Olson at Pseudo-Polymath has had an expensive education and is not afraid to get it out in public. He compares the Delian League with modern-day geopolitics. Not sure what today's Delian League is (clearly America has to be Athens). I'm not sure that if you were to conquer the world that would end fighting though, unless your superstate were prepared to be truly repressive and go to any lengths to maintain its monopoly on force (lengths that would mean surveilling every part of the earth, spending a huge amount of money on your secret police – not the cosy peacekeeping force Mark imagines, I'm afraid, and having the willingness to destroy opponents before they were able even to look like competitors).

Rob Bernard has a great love of baseball, the game Americans like because they can't understand cricket. Me, I can explain what a googly is and one day will at great length in a post, so I have little interest in juiced-up rounders. Still, for those who do, Rob's post about opening day will doubtless thrill.

Brian at Musings from Brian J. Noggle has spotted a cunning plan on the part of a local council. Before anyone's had the idea of putting up windfarms in their county, they've prepared the tax on them. That's the spirit, boys, encourage innovation!

Beatrix Kiddo at Multiple Mentality joins the parade of intolerance towards naughty pharmacists who won't dispense birth control pills. Round here, if someone won't fill your script, you take it to a different chemist. They prefer laws about this kind of thing in the States though.

Carpe Bonum says he wants an argument not abuse. He scoffs at the gays who have slammed somebody called Feinstein for saying that progress in gay marriage has been too fast. You want an argument against that? Are you a fucking dimwit, dude? Several countries have legislation giving equal rights to gays, some even allowing marriage, and you dinosaurs are debating whether to constitute your nation on the basis of denying them, and you think that's going too fast! The reason you get abuse and not an argument is that your POV just leaves nonAmericans (and many Americans too, of course) dumbfounded. Here's why ultimately: it's absolutely no concern of yours or anyone else's whether your nextdoor neighbours are married, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

John Bambenek likes to rave about things such as filibusters. John thinks the Democrats should be made to do one for the 24 hours. Dude, they'll just wind up Ted Kennedy and let him go.

Jon Hyman at Dodgeblogium blogs about an attack on an MP who was commemorating a V2 raid that killed many Jewish Eastenders. Jon decides the best way to fight antiSemitism is with, erm, antiSemitism. So long as you are having a go at the right Semites, it's okay, apparently. Ho hum.

I'm a regular reader of Pharyngula and for me, it's up there as one of the great blogs. PZ Myers is a voice of reason in a world occasionally mad, a staunch defender of science and what it means to us. But this essay about the depth of our shared human experience is something else. Bloggetry of a level far beyond the mundane stuff that fills this carnival. A post to be proud of. A piece of compelling beauty. Read it! If this doesn't get the hairs on the back of your neck erect, you're beyond help.

Elisson has almost the longest sidebar in history. Clicking his links would take you weeks. Reading his post about Tommy for father and child will only take a few minutes.

Eric at Classical Values wants the culture war to be ended by restoring "classical values". I'm guessing he doesn't include a frank enjoyment of pederasty among those values. He posts something about Walter Cronkite being either a righty or a lefty. I wasn't sure which. Eric can be thankful I applied no quality control to this carnival.

Nick Genes at Blogborygmi takes the piss out of taking the piss. No, really. Learn how Nick was pissed. What a pisser! Am I getting it, Nick?

Charles Hill at dustbury.com notes that Norfolk county council have deprecated the use of "Old Testament" for the part of the Bible of that name, because it makes it sound out of date. No! Fancy, the history and mores of a people written 2000 years ago might have dated? Charles's solution? A contest to rename the testament. I've already taken "The good, the bad and the smitten", you'll have to try again.

mr snitch (or crazy ass nigga Snitch as he's known to his mum) sho is pimpin' his ride. Or something. He has a bizzle in his bonizzle about the word bling, which he insists is oh-to-tha-kizzle. Check it, mah man!

Ferdinand claims to be a Conservative Cat. I've always thought of cats as libertarians, their belief in cutthroat individualism the reason they are not known for their civilisations but need Mommy to open the tin for them. The cat discusses an idea arising from a book called Economic wargames, which someone posited in the comments to something he wrote about subsidies causing inflation (I know, you don't have to tell me, but there's nothing in the rules that says posts have to be standalone). Dude, anyone who "socialises" medicine would be best advised to learn what a price cap is, hey? You completely forgot that us liberals defy the "law" of supply and demand by regulating the market, so even if you were right, we would be able to fix the problem you invented.

John at Discriminations is a student of, you guessed it, discrimination. In his post, he discusses Bob Laird and affirmative action. If I read John right, he is against any sort of discrimination. I think of it like a race. People like John claim that none of the runners should be handicapped, because it isn't fair. They ignore that the race is not waiting to be started but is in progress, and some runners have got many yards ahead of the others. Become colourblind means, in these circumstances, pretend it is coincidental that most of the runners in dark jerseys are yards behind the guys in light jerseys. It's not a million miles from there to Hey, the guys in light jerseys must just be better runners, and must deserve their lead (we can ignore that the guys in dark jerseys were shackled for much of the race and have hurdles in their lanes that are missing from the guys in light jerseys' lanes and that some of the guys in light jerseys seem to be riding bicycles or are even being carried by some guys in a nice shade of purple). Don't let's even start on the guys in pink.

Vik Rubenfeld has The Big Picture. And the picture he paints is of poor, oppressed settlers in Gaza. It's the mystery of the age, he suggests, why they should be forced to move. I have a lot of sympathy for the settlers. They are just pawns and yes, they are going to suffer for someone else's big idea. But Vik, Vik, do you not see how "The homes of the Israelis are to be turned over to the very terrorists who were killing them, for those terrorists to live in" is... well, do you know, it just confirms the prejudices on both sides: people who agree with you will shake their heads and go, the horror! Those on the other will think it is more Zionist bullshit. The truth is, Vik, that most, nearly all, of both sides – Jew and Arab – in Israel–Palestine are ordinary folk living ordinary lives, or trying to. Very few are terrorists or extremists of any kind. Those very few make very many suffer, including the settlers who are losing their homes (and, too, those Arabs who have lost theirs).

Amba at Ambivablog proves those who think that blogs are just wanking wrong. No, what she does is wanking about wanking. And if I go on any more, I'll be wanking about wanking about wanking.

John Ray and I have met before. He Godwinned me but not before I called him a clueless cunt. If I'd known he was a Brisbanite, I probably wouldn't have. It would go without saying. Still, there's plenty of lebensraum for clueless cunts in this carnival, so here's John, suggesting some of his posts you might like to read. You might find them provocative, if you're in need of working yourself into a froth.

Mad Kane sounds like my kind of Saturday night! Woohah! Erm, sorry about that. She's actually a talented songstress/humourist/whatsit, and her Tom DeLay song will only be a disappointment to those who see his name and yodel.

Bussorah has some Wicked Thoughts about Blogger. Let's face it, anyone who uses Blogger has had the odd moment with them. He/she has got to the bottom of the recent Blogger outage. It's all to do with cookies, apparently. People! The only person we accept cookies from is our grandma. We clear?

Jack at The People's Republic of Seabrook thinks people in shops should be nice to him. He's provided some rules for shop assistant types. Something tells me Jack's never worked in a shop. Yes, Jack, you dropped $2800, and Gallery Furniture missed out, but guess what? The people who work for GF don't get even a cent of that anyway. They don't care. It's a lesson for us all to digest: wage slaves have no reason to care.

How often do you have sex? asks Thorney on Taken In Hand. How often do you think old people have sex? More often than I have hot dinners, if Thorney is anything to go by, the old goat.

Coyote Blog has an interesting, if spectacularly wrong idea. He argues that nations are wealthy not because they have resources but because they have freedom of the mind. (Why would he want to believe that? Well, of course because the States has abundant natural resources, and Americans fear that their wealth might not owe to their exceptional nature but to their luck at being born in a rich country.) He offers the Netherlands (small, few resources) and Russia (beeeeg, many resources) as proof. But Coyote, as all regressives must, has ignored the facts that don't fit the theory. Access to resources is the key. The Netherlands is a maritime nation, a hub of European trade throughout the centuries, which grew rich first by trading in goods that it did not produce but was a handy transshipment point for and then essentially by plundering high-value goods from the third world; Russia is a huge continental nation, whose resources are mostly a very long way from its trading centres. Holland had Rotterdam – a junction between the Rhine and the North Sea in effect – and Amsterdam, on the doorstep of the rich trading towns of northern Europe; Russia had Murmansk, iced in for much of the year, and a long sail from anywhere it could trade with, and the Black Sea ports, which it not only had to fight for but which are also a long way from its population and trading centres. But how much simpler it is to insist that the Dutch became rich because they were free to think of cool ways to exploit their position than that their becoming rich was entirely inevitable, and how much more appealing to people who believe that Manifest Destiny is a law of nature rather than a political creed. That's not to say that the mind played no part, just that it is only one piece in a much bigger puzzle.

Sick of the election months ago? Pietro at The SmarterCop isn't. Pietro takes issue with an analysis of the election that shows that Kerry had the advantage of geography. Pietro says it was clear Kerry did not have an advantage because Bush won his states by a broader margin than Kerry won his. Dur. Pietro, that was actually the point! He had an advantage in that he didn't need to do as well as Bush to win – but he failed to, erm, take advantage of the advantage.

Ed Adkins at the imaginatively named edadkins.com is a man of strong opinions and, I wouldn't be surprised, strong drink. He fiercely berates Tom Green for "sucking". A lot. I once saw Tom Green on the Comedy Channel. I would rather smash my face through the loungeroom window than do it again.

If, like me, you thought snakeheads were Chinese human traffickers, you are in need of further education. John Moore at Useful Fools (shouldn't that be idiots?) explains that it is a not much loved but curious fish that needs to be protected before it is gone. However, snakeheads are not natives and are disruptive to the local ecology. Perhaps John just doesn't like other fish much!

Bhutan. The name conjures up magic, doesn't it? Mist over mountains, snows melting into fast streams, the crisp air, crushing repression. Erm. Will Franklin at WILLisms ponders the chances for democratic reforms in Bhutan. Will is sceptical but given that Bhutan is like the black sheep in a flock of not exactly whiter than white nations, any step forward is worth encouraging. Enjoy the scary, not entirely PC, pun he makes out of Wangchuk, too.

Pundit Guy wrote something about Lutherans and gays. Sorry man, by this point I'd ceased to have the will to live, let alone care about their problems. Absolutely no reflection on the post!

That's it. Thanks to everyone who submitted. It's been a genuine pleasure to be exposed to the breadth of intelligence, wit and good writing that fills the blogosphere.

Errors and omissions to the usual address, where you'll possibly be roundly ignored, depending on whether you are sweet or sour. Next week's carnival is at Conservative Dialysis, who will probably be nicer to you regressive types. Best of luck to Nick!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pumpkin men

I am thinking of Lamorna. The picture is dim. I don't have a very good visual memory and yet I don't like to use photos as a reminder. I prefer the hazy unreality of what a place might be like.

I am thinking of walking down to the beach with S. We are walking hand in hand, friends not lovers, compatriots of the heart who can feel together without feeling becoming corrupted by a touch. I do not know what S looks like but it doesn't matter. I am not thinking of a person beside me but of the feel of a hand in mine.

We are lying on the sand. The first stars are shining out of the velvet black sky. The only sound is the surf and our breathing. I am saying, You're not real. I made you entirely out of a few words, and yet, now I have you, I don't want you to let go of my hand. She is saying, You know this is one of those posts you should keep to yourself and not publish.

I am saying, Yes but if I knew when to talk and when to shut up, I would be a different being, perhaps the one that walks with you when you visit the beach with him.


In the night the hoons' brakes howl as they cut through the dark nights. The roads are near to empty; they only pose a danger to themselves.

I am looking at the boys and girls on top of Mount Gravatt. I am thinking, their lives are not going to bring them much, periods when they are part of the ten per cent, lowpaid jobs, a vague sense that the promises made by ads and Channel 9's vacuous programming are not being kept.

The question is not why are they risking their worthless lives in high-speed chases, which give them only a momentary thrill, but why aren't I?


I never think for one instant that S might like to feel my hand too. I imagine she is tolerating me, allowing me to be there.

Have I always felt like that? Was there ever a time when I believed someone who told me I was valuable?


There is a man who throws pumpkins at cars. He is operating in Mt Gravatt and surrounding suburbs. He only throws them late at night at the weekend.

I am a little jealous of the pumpkin man.

But what impels him? Does he hate his fellows so much that all he can think to do is damage their cars (a well-hurled pumpkin can cause severe damage to a car, you know)? Does he do it just to touch them, to affect them?

I imagine a lonely man. A man with plenty of friends but without the ability to articulate to them how he feels. I am almost the opposite. I am jealous of the pumpkin man.

The paradox is that he would be jealous, too, were he to read about me in the Southern Star.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The perfect girl

true that she would find me where I hiding was weeping and learn of all the secrets I been keeping true that she would take me shake me make me blind so one day I will see my own two hands waving in front of me saying and shouting and singing yeah this is the way this is the way that our love grows you have the things that are good and now I know.

the only things I lack are things to call my own even my secret dreams I have to borrow and the dances I dance are all danced before me and the things that I say are hopeless and angry all said before me but I will always have what you give me whenever you find me take shake and blind me even if what's yet to come I saw it all behind me I can still feel it flying all round me

in the perfect world the perfect girl would still find me.

DR 1990.

Fluent bodies

I want a million dead babies
what you say is crazy and what I say
theres mould in the kindest face you pull
theres venom in the kindest word you say
you want to touch me you want to fuck me
get down on the floor and I dont respect you
Ill fuck you up the ass
drive over you with a car
theres a snake in your body and you dont know what the fuck youre saying
theres a concrete avenue and a big fucking power station
theres an aircraft and the skies are busy
cant talk now Im having dinner
theres an aeroplane and the reconstruction of everything I know

I want a television
the continuing warfare soiling the room
I dont understand what you want anymore
someone has got nails eating up the rice paddies
and someone is throwing napalm all over
all over all over if this is the game show Ill take manhattan
her breasts in my hands
the widest cunt in the western world you said
the widest cunt is the western world I was watching the mirror show me
to be falling all over the floor
I want to revise my feelings about it

someones nuclear weapons are boiling on my skin
and so what if I dont care about your problems
theres a lot of shit all over your hands
you take off your head and your life is vermin
you take off your clothes and swallow down hard
I dont believe you had a baby and I dont believe in love for you
I eat your life and Ill fuck you till you bleed
this is not rage I said this is human sentiment
all my fluid yours goodbye.

DR 1990.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Roll up, roll up!

Next weekish (okay, April 13 to be accurate) I'm hosting Carnival of the Vanities, a showcase for bloggetry. This is the mother of all carnivals, which, if you just aren't quite the blogger about town you think you are and need to be told, are collections of posts that bloggers want the world to see. I'll accept nominations at drzen1 AT gmail DOT com. Your own work or anyone else's that you think really should have a wider audience, I don't mind, but it must be bloggetry, not some bollocks from your favourite newspaper. Everyone is welcome on a strictly nondiscriminatory basis, although I will be ferociously rude about you if you are a/ a dumb rightwing regressive Yank, b/ a dumb Yank, c/ a Yank, d/ illiterate. Only kidding! There are usually too many posts for anything more than the most cursory comments and I am feeling positive towards Americans since they gave the thumbs down to Terri Schiavo (not that I have anything against Ms Schiavo but their common sense in preferring sanity to "principle" is to be lauded).

The deadline has now passed. Any further submissions, I'll forward to next week's host Conservative Dialysis

At Tweed Heads

I'm late, says Mrs Zen.
Okay, don't panic, I say.

But already I am thinking, would I kill my unborn child?

It would have been easy five years ago but now I know it could be a little Zenella, an embryo Zenita, a Naughtyman in waiting. It would have been easy but isn't it harder now?

Engage your rationality, I'm telling myself. Remind yourself of the difficulty. It's just a minor thing now.

One I wanted; two was a stretch; three is already a burden that I struggle to throw my arms around. I know I love them but I didn't choose them.

Well, you can love a lot of things you didn't choose. I didn't choose England but I write in a language made for expression, so broad and rich that even the Greeks cannot match it.

I do not lose any sleep over it. I am too numb for it to move me. More than anything, I hate numbness, but I am feeling blanketed in it.

Do I hate it though? Wouldn't I welcome it if it were all there were?

Looking out over Greenmount Beach, I am thinking that none of this is of any consequence. A tide could come and sweep them all away, and me too. I am afraid of oblivion because I can't help thinking there should be a reward. But what for, I have no idea. We don't seem like things that deserve rewarding but we are only doing what our genes tell us.

I see in the paper that an Essex man has been made into fireworks. He liked watching TV and going on caravan holidays.

I have been trying to think what is wrong with that.

One line on the test. Mrs Zen is still late but there is only one line on the test.


As we are packing up the cars to go to Tweed Heads, we see T's mother. T is Zenella's new best friend. T has been very excited about her new baby. T's mother showed us the scans.

They were nuchal scans. They didn't do them when she was pregnant with T's older sister, also T. T's mother is telling us that, and we know there are dots to be joined up. T's older sister has Down's syndrome. She is a charming kid but you know that she is a huge burden on T's mother.

None of us wish for that. None of us want it. We shouldn't assume any right to judge those who have it and don't want it.

We are not sure why T's mother terminated the pregnancy. T says the baby only had one arm, or we think that's what she's saying. T's mother was not enthusiastic about the pregnancy. She was tired and sick.


There are fish jumping in Boyd's Bay. You could mistake their leaping for exuberance. It's just what they do though, night after night. Perhaps they avoid doing it during the day because they do not want the pelicans to have an easy mark. I am not even curious.

I am frightened of oblivion but I am allowing myself to die.

I like watching TV and I am staying in a cabin.

Bats fight it out in the bushes. They don't even notice us standing by the water. We are on the wrong scale for them to care about and we don't eat bats.

The stars are filling the sky slowly, one by one as the night grows darker.