March 24, 2012

Thrice #4 Is Up

I am so very proud of this collaboration I can't explain it. The writers and artists come shining through. This is the one I'm sending out to reviews. Go see. I absolutely promise you will love it, quite simply. Thrice Fiction #4

EDIT TO ADD:I should say this issue is rather a kind of homecoming for me. Larry Oberc, who did my artwork for the old Fiction Review back in the 90's, has contributed his artwork, at one point appearing beside a piece by John M Bennett, and there are two bits from the inimitable and quite daunting mIEKAL aND. This represents a return of part of the crew from those days all in one place again. & I can't tell you what a head rush it is to see three of my old friends from the "writer thing" summoning up their old powers one more time.

March 16, 2012

Dumptruck Unloading My Head Again

I was made to putter, and do small things. Big issues confuse me. Big plans scare me. I need quiet ideas and time alone. I don't like being around angry people anymore. I can't correct everybody and everything. I'm wrong about too much myself. I want to make sure I never do things that will make me cringe with guilt about later. I have too many of those pangs popping up for no good reason as it is, out of the blue.

Looking back, I find there are quite a lot of people with whom I ended up on the shit list. I'm sure there are good reasons for that, but I'm suspicious that I ended up on some lists because I wouldn't conform or be the underestimated person they thought I should be. But I don't want to be on anybody's shit list anymore. It's true that, little by little, people I've had disagreements with are either dying, or their sons have become junkies, or some other karma has taken them down. But that's not because of justice. It's just because their luck was bad. In a minute I could have ended up the same. We all die. All our sons become junkies.

I'm having a small crisis of faith. I still think there's a "God," but I have no idea what it is. I don't believe there is any such thing as a "holy book." Not from any faith. I find it odd that people get more upset that their book is burned than their children are slaughtered. I am suspicious of any human who tells me God gave him a book. I think they are deluded. And it doesn't matter if it is a Christian delusion or a Muslim one. I can't keep suspending this disbelief. And the Catholic church bulletins I make every week for a living are particularly insulting. St. Olaf pray for us. It's bullshit.

And yet I want to believe there is some kind of justice. Like God is that thing that knows you aren't guilty, or knows what the real story was - or what your story was. And you can count on that. Somebody's on your side. Like when I was a little boy, and I was in the schoolyard, and the big kid had been teasing and pushing around that little girl until she was in tears. And I walked up to him and socked him in the chin and - looking up at him - told him to knock it off. And he ran to the nun who punished me, and wouldn't hear my side, and had him tell my parents, who also wouldn't listen. That's when it started you know. Radical politics, I mean. I was in second grade and discovered that grown-ups can be wrong. Therefore that authority can be wrong. Therefore who are they crappin'? The rest was the 60's. What do you expect?

It took me 40 years to figure that out; this sense of justice, which is a good cover to hide how selfish I really am. Selfish and sometimes pretty useless. You'd be surprised how quiet I can be in a crowd. A good party going on, and I keep quiet because the chances are pretty good I'll be the one saying the one stupid thing. So I sit there until something gets me angry. Then I make a plan. Devious. Sometimes petty. Sometimes I sound so full of myself I make myself sick. But I know it didn't start that way, in my head.

I want to make our kitchen garden bigger. I want to go back and take more cooking lessons. Go to Quaker meeting on Sunday and find a quiet center and never miss a Sunday no matter what God actually turns out to be. I wasn't made for big noises. Large groups. 4 is comfortable, 6 is the boundary. I orchestrate and shrink from the music. No one wants to stay up until 4 and just talk. Everybody expects something witty or something.

But I was made to putter. And do small things.

March 07, 2012

Can't Say Nothing

Lucky you, I'm still on regular hours and just awoke. The real overtime starts this Friday so I'm still on normal hours. And because of this I find it impossible to not make a mention of some of the latest goings-on with Anonymous. Lucky you, like I said.

It's Anonymous, whatever that is, that informs most of my outlook these days and - if pushed - I suppose if I had to declare a "party affiliation" these would be the guys I'd probably slide in next to. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, to me it's all the same mush. Relics of the past, to be perfectly frank. So I happily take on new symbols and metaphors - mostly in response to the stasis of modern politics and all the petty nonsense that defines it these days. Or perhaps has always defined it.

The fact of the matter is that, no, I'm not part of Anonymous. This is true mostly because you know who I am. Plus I don't have the mad internet skilz needed to do raids and the kind of civil actions Anonymous is known for. In fact the only direct dealing I've ever had with it is directed at the Church of Scientology's fraud and abuse. And, because the "church" knows me and I never signed onto anything without using my real name, what I'm actually a part of is a subtext known as "Project Chanology." What developed after, or along with, that project went on to Wikileaks, skirting around the Iranian internet blocks, the Arab Spring and, finally, the Occupy movement. Anonymous, or at least people who have some sort of nebulous connection to Anonymous, had a hand in all of that. The DNA can be traced back to the "leaderless group." They've also helped me track down a long lost classmate, but that's neither here nor there.

Anonymous has also battled neo-Nazis, child molesters, and evil neighbors of dying little girls. You should really read this short history to get an idea about the group. And, in that article, you will also see negative stuff. And that right there is the point.

The single most important thing people need to remember is something that runs counter-intuitive to standard analysis. The fact is that anybody can claim to be "Anonymous," and anybody basically has.

I've no doubt that the recent arrests of "hackers" that operated under the Anonymous banner are, in fact, targeted actual regulars within the group. But, like Islam, if you want to view the whole thing as a monument or a monolith you'd be way off track.

When my involvement with Chanology started to taper off, the demands of real life and the pursuit of long neglected dreams taking over, the only thing for sure I could say about the group was that there was - and so far as I can tell still is - a lively debate about internet activity. Denial of Service attacks, website content altered to say embarrassing or opposite views than those intended, are believed by some to be a legitimate tactic in the culture wars. Others think them counter-productive. That's not something that will be resolved soon, because there is no leader. There is the "hive-mind" (Read "on the internet" definition) and there is individual action.

So the recent arrests of people alleged to be part of Anonymous (which, laughably, could be anyone who claimed it whether they did anything or not) did get my attention.

There's a pretty well-informed article here at the Chicago Tribune today, which I strongly recommend you take five minutes to read - if nothing else than because it is one of the more cogent explanations from the "outside" as I've seen in a while. But the thing you have to remember is that what constitutes a "member" of Anonymous ("member of Anonymous" being a term which in and of itself is virtually meaningless) is wide open. You'd be surprised to learn who is part of it or supports it. If you think it's hackers on steroids operating from Mommy's basement you'd be believing exactly what "Anonymous" wants you to believe. The actual participants come from every walk of life. From professionals to people with well-known names. Don't laugh at that.

Laugh at this instead.

Anyway is this the end of Anonymous? Everybody scared off now?


March 05, 2012

Where I'll Be

What starts now is my period of wage slavery at the hands of good church-going Catholics everywhere who only show up on Easter and Christmas. They have a name for that kind of attender but I can't remember what it is. Anyway I owe my income to these folks because for those two holidays we have to put in a ton of overtime making 50% more bulletins than we normally do for all 1722 churches we handle around the country. So I may not be around much as of tomorrow all the way up to Easter. In the meantime I've posted a picture of a pretty little Spanish woman who was part of the anarchist militias in 1937.

Hey I found out today that Rush Limbaugh's show is put on by Clear Channel, and that the company that has Clear Channel in their portfolio is something called Bain Capital. So see? Who says Governor Romney doesn't have conservative credentials? He owns - oh alright used to own - a piece of ol' cyst butt. Seems as though Rush, the voice and conscience of the GOP, is having a little trouble these days. But he'll weather the storm. Losing a few sponsors with so many on the waiting list is not a big deal. There are plenty of companies looking to sell products to conservatives and Republicans. Burial plots. Gout remedies. Viagra. Happy pills. Nazi collectables. Nude photos of Ayn Rand. Phone numbers of available little boys for fun and profit. Bibles. Investment property in Utah. That kind of thing.

Funny if you characterize black people by some stereotype you lose your radio job, but do it to a woman and nothing happens.

To be any part of the Republican Party these days I guess you have to be real crabby. It seems to be their cultural trait nowadays. Angry white guys unite!

I'm hoping and praying for, and willing to actually send money to, Senator Santorum's campaign. I have a driving need to see him carry the GOP banner this fall. Since there will end up being virtually no difference between Governor Romney and President Obama the potential for entertainment this campaign seems very low. We need Senator Santorum now!

I see also where the Speechdollars (it's a word I made up to label the money given by faceless PACS who can now spend unlimited funds on lies and treachery and be protected by the 1st Amendment, meaning that their speech is freer than your speech simply because you can't afford to broadcast your lies like they can broadcast theirs) have been being spent by the millions already just among the Republicans. There's a robocall going around Ohio right now telling people they can "Vote for Santorum and American values or vote for homosexuality and Romney." Wow. Just... wow. I hope you members of the GOP reading this right now are proud of yourselves.


So anyway sorry to say you won't be seeing much of my happy happy thoughts for a while. No doubt the conservatives among you are quite satisfied with that. But in the meantime you can always visit my official website that went online a while ago.

Also, get ready for issue #4 of Thrice. I saw some of the first "rushes" from dave2 this weekend and it's so good it will rot your liver. We're guessing it'll be out by the 18th. I may be back for a little while before then. Who knows.

Hey, my old magazine got listed at Read/Write (formerly the Underground Library) in Chicago. Here's our page.

Oh and here's Charlize. Darken her hair and sling a rifle over her shoulder and she could almost be part of the militia. Hmmm...

March 02, 2012

Keep Going Boyz, Yer Doin Fine

Well looks like the effort by the Obama administration to take away your guns never happened. Oh wait... they're waiting until after the second term so that they don't have to answer to the electorate right? Yeah I get it. Nice going boys.

Rush Limbaugh has now weighed in on the contraceptive argument, styling a propenent who testified about the issue a "slut."*** Nice going boys.

A sheriff in Arizona, Areola or whatever his name is - best known for his support for child molesters and stiff anti-immigration laws (which would have disallowed his own olive-skinned ancestors no doubt) - is back in the news about President Obama's birth certificate. Oh yes, we're still on this case. Of course trying to prove he is "the outsider" - a Marxist Muslim born in Kenya who supports domestic terrorism and wants to take away your guns - has nothing to do with him being black. Oh hell no. It's about the policies. Nice going boys.

Rick Santorum doesn't like the idea that there shouldn't be an established religion. He believes, much like bin Laden or Jerry Falwell, that religious principles should rule the governing of the country. JFK's inauguration speech - the foundation of neoconservatism btw, makes him want to throw up a little in his mouth. Nice going boys.

The faceless guys who have their fingers on the controls of the GOP, whose only purpose this year is to destroy the influence of the Tea Party and get things back to normal in their party, are doing everything they can to lose the upcoming Presidential election. Just in case you may have been wondering exactly why it is the candidates up for the GOP nomination are such gut-wrenching losers.

And the rank and file conservatives - you know, the angry gun guys sitting at their kitchen table who are looking for any Great White Hope they can possibly find - are doing their level best to justify going along with any one of them. Cuz that's the extent of their intellectual curiosity. Nice going boys. You just handed the election to Obama.

Hope you're happy with that.


***I see where Catholics might have to offer insurance that provides their employees with contraceptives. And this is a big issue with them because if you're a Catholic the only real birth control you're supposed to use is the "rhythm method." It doesn't matter that prestigious Catholic institutions like Georgetown University have been offering this for years, or that it is estimated that almost 90% of Catholic women have basically told the child abusers and child abuser enablers in the Catholic hierarchy to get lost on this issue, this is a problem of deep moral concern.

All of a sudden. In an election year. Oh hai.

You know, I print and process bulletins for Catholic churches all over the country every week. And all I can say is that before I had this job I felt Catholics - because I was raised as one - were mostly decent, regular people. I still feel that way. Some of my best friends are Catholics. Lol. I have to say though, reading it first hand, that the venom coming from some of the churches (Obama, that putrid liar, quisling Catholics who use contraceptives, blah blah blah) is downright offensive. On the level of private conscience, I have nothing but respect for my Catholic friends. But priests, from now on, shall be addressed only by their first names, since I can no longer recognize the title they bestow on themselves.