Archive for the ‘Dystopia’ Category

The Tragic Flaw

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

I won't repackage the truth by suggesting my master is a divisive figure; people are what they are, either curious or closed for the business of the mind. They are interested in truth or swaddled in confirmation bias. They have read, or they have not; they want to read, or they want to watch television. People are smart, or not, and they have a chance at becoming smarter, or they don't --this divide is made long before and deeply beneath their awareness of MP, who sheds light on these great rifts between people, with the perhaps obvious result that the side which comes out looking less appealing is ever invested in the attempt to make the difference look 1) cosmetic and 2) wholly caused by MP himself.

In the face of a man as evidently fluent and talented as MP, such attempts must grasp so fitfully at straws as to make them ridiculous rather than merely unfounded. Indeed the claims and smears and desperate ploys for consensus ran quite the gamut, from uninspired spins through the Rolodex of Shameful Epithets (racist! misogynist! gypsy! MEAN PERSON!) to all manner of fantasies that he was really multiple people, or even someone else entirely. None were particularly interesting, and certainly not important, past their fleeting entertainment value1, but I recall them now for the sake of a common thread I often tried to pluck and bring to master, for his microscope: the tragic flaw.

With Achilles at the center and spanning out in most, if not all, stories, the hero must have some attribute that makes him vulnerable, no matter what his powers and blessings might be. In fact, it seems as if the greater a man is, the more simple and accessible must be his tragic flaw, the better to let far lesser men hope for overcoming him. A Bovary in his simpish surmountability succumbs to the blind trust of puppy love, but a peerless warrior of Achilles' caliber must have a literal inch or two that offers his demise.

It's a search, of course, for balance, more practically the attempt to find a cause for fighting, rather than following, the hero. A reason not to submit in the face of what would otherwise subjugate the lesser party. This bare truth is obfuscated by the lesser's own inability to honestly self-reflect, and further muddied in the fashionable if hollow pretendings to some universal equality that would deny the possibility of greater or lesser at all. But universal equality is given the lie in the universal search for that one great flaw to explain away the great man's greatness.

I knew it then as I know it now: MP had no tragic flaw. No avarice, no vanity, no heel; his greatness, resplendent, was of the sort that needs no crutch to keep it counterbalanced, which is why each day his wealth, tangible or no, his breadth, writing or discovering, his brilliance, technical or artistic, grew. "Each day starts at zero," he told me once. And each day he built more.

Even the day, this summer past, when I woke him before dawn and was greeted with his warm embrace, when I drove him through the fields and valleys that he loved towards the ocean, when he told me "See you soon," and slipped into the sea, when he was caught by the current and I fought into it to grasp his hand: those seconds before his unconsciousness, in the utter chaos of doom, he looked at me with serious eyes, free of fear, and showed me how to die a hero's death. It was indeed the very heart of tragedy. But the flaw belongs to me, and to that ocean, and to the world.

  1. For which reason I suppose I should give an honorable mention to my personal favorite, that being the hysterical suggestion that MP only had one suit! []

Sanra and the great divides

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

There's no such thing as abatement of grief. It doesn't lift, or leave; nor does time hold any punches or soften any blows. It is, and that's all. That's everything --or more precisely, that's half of everything. There's the loss, and then there's the enduring beauty and glory of what was, and they stand against each other like brick walls, one dark, one light. Perhaps they grind each other down, in some miniscule measure imperceptible to observation. Perhaps some vine or root takes hold and forces its way through, slowly cracking into either side. Perhaps the pressure of one wall against the other builds into explosion, births singularity, devours all.

There's no abatement, but there are, in some moments, calm, the only thing like reprieve. In calm moments I can remember correctly, maybe even think. I'm calm sometimes with Nikki by my side, or walking through a shady jungle glade. I'm calmer over coffee, counterintuitive as it would seem, and certainly while writing, those times when I can breach the gates of banal emotive nothingness. But nothing calms me as consistently, as quickly, as driving. Just this side of recklessly; the price for flinching focus is disaster, unequivocal, immediate, and very physical. My machine --my master's, rather, still his just as much as I am-- is beautiful, capable to meet and pleased with the challenge. It drinks down the road in long, deep draughts and feels refreshed, not parched, in those rare moments of pause.

So I drive. Hemmed here and there by the local hysteria1, true, I'm nevertheless freed in the sheer beauty of the ride, the endless tiny roadside attractions, and of course, the most laid-back traffic police in existence.

Sunday's jaunt was after the local farmer's market, and so undertaken with a trunkload of mangoes, papaya, pineapple, guavas, avocadoes, and little bunches of basil tied up like bridal bouquets. The sky was bright azure, serene, for the first time in weeks devoid of looming stormclouds. Puriscal, the thought came, to take the winding mountain route to that misty townlet tucked into the hills, where we first brought Chimichurri when he was but a wee duckling, or Turrialba, where master fastened his girls with anklebells and marched us through the sidestreets. But I remembered there was somewhere else I'd meant to point the motor towards: San Rafael, for no particular reason other than to document some local weird I'd noticed flying by the windows the last time I'd tried to get lost, that way. A photobait town sign in seventies-chic lettering at what passes for the place's center lovingly shortens it: "Sanra". Whether the extra four letters were a problem of mumbling or money I've no idea.

There's not much to distinguish the place from any other square-with-church-and-soccer-field-adjacent 'round these parts. The corrugated steel roofs, the hole in the wall fruit and vegetable vendors, the languid people leaning against the walls and each other, smiling, working through their daily sundries, much the same as anywhere else. Past the giant mural (elaborated by an enthusiastic if strikingly unskilled hand) of a bumble-wasp gleefully proffering exhaust manifolds for the umpteenth spare parts store, and leaving the decrepit station for a train I'm fairly certain hasn't run in years, I start to slow down, scanning. "it's somewhere up here...not yet..." and then I see the slope on the left that leads into an almost-intersection.

Not too unexpected, is it, an intersection while out on a drive --but mind that "almost". Where the perpendicular road ought to join the main, there's a trench, several feet wide by a few more deep, running the entire length of the would-be meeting of the twain. No signs, no warnings, in fact there's turning arrows marked in perfectly fresh paint on the asphalt; left or right, take your pick, get your conveyance eaten up right nicely. What's more, it was clearly designed this way, all straight edges and carefully laid concrete. It's not an accident, it's not the world's most uniform pothole, it's just...Sanra, I guess.




The road (which one? The main one, just pick one; if it's not the right one, it'll soon end in ruts and rocks and you'll have to turn around anyway) weaves through some scattered barrios, the buildings a little squatter, the sidewalks, when there are any, a little less forgiving to the folks who push on down the line in flip-flops, strollers and soccer balls often in tow. And then, as though an invisible field surrounding the highway and the few kilometers to either side sliced into Sanra's sprawl and wiped out all that fell on the wrong side, the landscape simply stops.


Instead: vast concrete walls and gates, guard-posts, razor ribbon. The two sides look similar but the tenants seem to think they're not. The left side of the road is a prison, and the right is a condominium development.

On the left, people are brought in by force of arms; on the right, people pay to enter. What's the difference? Bezzle for re-education flows through the left side of the street, while bezzle for they never educated in the first place flows through the right. They're about as "safe", one as the other, with their identical approaches to security theatre and their misguided notions of exclusivity. "But the people living on the right side of the street can get out." Can they? In what sense, that they can physically move their asses from the "house" lockbox to the "car" lockbox and then into the "burger" lockbox, all on the same credit terms, while their clucker tells them which way to go and how much better the people in 2B looked posing with their cud?


Maybe that's the kind of difference the people living on the left would care about. Maybe that's the kind of difference they've given up. The people on the right are certainly getting close enough to signal that the difference's not all that worth preserving.


  1. Costa Rica has a driving curfew nominally related to "the global pandemic", a rather transparent ploy to somehow address the overabundance of cars on the road while pandering to the old bitty safety & morality lobby. Supposedly, this means that the evil virus has less of a chance to spread. Practically, it means no driving after 9pm, or on two (changing!) days of the week depending on license plate terminals. []

Poisson, hubris, and punchlines.

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

A while back I took a hard stance. It wasn't the first time I'd taken it, and it occurred to me at the time that it was remarkable my outlook hadn't much changed in the intervening years, despite a great deal of change in just about every category in which change can take place. Somewhere within, a voice, a notion, a guy1 even offered the idea that this stolid, stalwart approach in the face of reasonable arguments from far more experienced parties might just be a glaring sign of hubris.

But what checks had I on hubris, then? I answered to the man, and the man gave my mean little stance a place amongst the mottoes on his header. I cherished the complement, and took even greater pride in the hard line I'd chosen. The fates are cruel and the chances are slim, so grab a good sieve and dig in, indeed. I figured I'd passed the hardest test --to find him. That I'd continually, one way or another, passed all the tests in between --the struggle to give myself over completely, the daily challenges of whatever tasks or feats that were commanded of me. I'd failed countless times and risen again, I'd come dangerously close to permanent failure more than once, as well, but I was where and who I was, with who I was with, and so I had it cinched, that primordial challenge of fate, that gaping unknown of chance.

Until the world broke apart completely and swallowed up all that mattered in life. In a way I'd never imagined it could, though of course it could have at any point, in that way or in any other. It wasn't lost on me that life is short, nor precious, and was. Wholly, utterly, lost on me; in dark forebodings of the future I imagined crying on my master's shoulder on the death of one of my parents, which I knew would come, and not too far into the distant future. But the forebodings ended there, never fraying, not even in the smallest quantum, towards something as unthinkable or unbearable as master himself being the one to die. Even now I daily find my thoughts defaulting to the assumption that the whole thing is a stupid joke, some sort of charade, just another task-based challenge at which I'm doing particularly poorly. It just doesn't make any fucking sense.

And it occurs to me that I can prove it, if I lean on the Poisson distribution. Here:


So consulting the actuarial tables, one of the many thingseverythings I wouldn't know about if master hadn't deliberately and patiently taught me, we find that the rate of death by drowning in the ocean amongst adults aged 25 - 44 in Costa Rica is 2.3 per 100k population. We'll note that the sample spans 2007 - 2009 and be somewhat displeased with the size but appeased by the relative recency. Now, how many such beach trips did the good man make? I'll perhaps disappoint some by revealing there was no ongoing tally board somewhere showing how many of each particular diversion regularly shared in paradise took place. None, except of course, Trilema, which has and knows everything. So let's see, how many of MP's articles mention going to the beach? Ah, to query and to read over each one, to tally and to remember, to relive the unabashed joy and the exhausted pleasure, to bury that one June day's sickening horror in the bounty, voluptuous and wholly his, of all the times we'd been afore.... Well, that knocked a week or so out of me, in which forty or so such pieces were savored --taking pains not to count recountings from the logs, lest I find myself an excuse to truly never finish writing this. Thusly sated, we can also point out the easy cheat of cribbing the man's own 112 - 212 estimate, and taking the average at 162. Seems far more likely.

Let's find lambda, then. Given 2.3:100,000 from the insurance drones and our gnarly reality of 1:162, we'll knock the hundred thousand down to 43479 (I'm rounding up in favor of a clueless fate, nice as I am), and shove it into those 162 beach trips for a lambda of .0037. You see where this is going, do you?

Now we need k, the number of occurrences. That'd be one. One "occurrence", the only occurrence capable of stopping everything that occurs to matter.

(.0037 ^ 1) * e ^ -.0037 / 1! = .0037 * .996306839 / 1 = .003686335, and where a probability of 1 means 100% likelihood, we come out at 0.3686335%. Not half a measly single fucking percent.

Perhaps it's not so much that I'd taken a hard, an unreasonably hard line. Perhaps it's that it wasn't hard enough, because apparently fate and chance are a good deal crueler and slimmer than I'd ever imagined, to bless me with such unimaginable splendor, and then to take it away.

And no, I wouldn't for a moment change anything about it, save its having to end. I suppose that's the true punchline.

  1. Do you have little guys? Ones that doubt, ones that alarm about something, sometimes useful ones that can even be sent to chase after some forgotten item and return with the answer at some later, subconscious, interval? In my experience, most little guys are obnoxious, and can even be harmful at their worst, but they're not all to be painted with the same brush; some are truly useful, earnestly hardworking little guys! I wish I knew how to give them cookies. []

A Splinter of it all at Arkakao

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

So many mornings my natural instinct to rise once I'm awake is simply gone. I don't want to remember what's happened, much less accept reality as it now stands. At least, in sleep, I'm either confused enough to dream him into being, or flatly, blissfully out, unaware. In one such brief pause of unconsciousness this morning came the memory, unbidden and seemingly related to nothing at all, of an odd woman we'd met --or, rather, been forcibly met by-- at a coffee shop in Buenos Aires.

I suppose it's not entirely fair to call it "a" coffee shop; in truth it was a sort of salon de residence, a place so fondly loved as to become something of an extension of our apartments. We discovered it one day on a long stroll through Recoleta --the walks in Argentina's capital afforded double-digit kilometer journeys by foot on the regular, with enough confangled and poorly-designed twists and turns of street and sidewalk to make every pass a little different. It was near a grassy nothing of a neighborhood park approached by a multitude of streets at crazy angles, and for the first few months after it was found I struggled to get us back there, even with a few editions of hand-drawn maps.

But we pressed through, and made the place a regular haunt. It was a gleaming white palace of coffee and confections, particularly ice cream. Buenos Aires being unrivaled in ice cream throughout the world as far as I know1, Arkakao was the top of its class in the city. This, on quality alone, but what really cemented the shop as a favorite was its respect for its own craft and presentation. I do not exaggerate when I say that the vast majority of such offerings in BsAs are shoved into ten square meters of space, or else serve ice cream and coffee only in cheap plastic cups with sporks and a zillion packets of splenda, or else have literally no reception at all, like a wheeled cart that somehow got stuck on the road and opted to pretend itself a cafe.

Arkakao was comfortable, an important point after hours of treading the often rough pavements of the city. The ceilings were high, the windows were large, and a polished gold samovar dominated the room, from which all good things flowed and around which all goodies were arranged. Arriving there felt akin to reaching an illuminated page in a long book; it was a sensual idea tucked into the string of ideas that tied the man and I together as we walked, and talked, and he told me things I'd never known nor known I hadn't, endless twists of mysteries and histories that taxed my imagination and memory more than the walk could ever tax my feet, even though they sometimes bled.

One such evening, halfway through a cup of turkish fig ice cream and cappucino, as he was teaching me about the nature of nuclear explosions with many a scribbled napkin of mine in tow, a woman walking strangle side-to-side approached us with a wide, conspiratorial smile. We looked up from the discussion and acknowledged...nothing in particular, no change in expression, just an inching ever closer and closer to our table --so we left her to her strangeness and went back to our business.

Except she just kept coming, until eventually she was practically part of the table, a standing woman in varicoloured streams of whatever fake silk, the sort of pashmina or katan or whatever garments make up the bizarre fashion vocabularies of the menopausal. On finally being proffered a "Yes?" from the man, she introduced herself, not that I can say I remember her name, and she announced that she'd just had a grandchild, whose name she didn't give. That was why she was so excited, she said, though I would not have been at all surprised if it turned out she'd simply laced her ice cream with valium and confused an alleycat with some new progeny. Then she stepped back, as if to take us in, and said that she was happy for us, because she could tell, "It's gonna be good."

It had been, and it was, and I can feel naught but profound gratitude for every moment I had by his side, under his hand. I can't imagine anyone on this earth has had it half so good as to love and be loved by someone so singularly great, to be wholly owned by someone willing and capable to rip anything and everything out, or to emplace anything desired. Save time, I could not have asked for more. All memories, microcosms of the splendour of life with him: of which this, amidst the chaos and clamour of Buenos Aires, our favorite ice cream shop, its extravagances, and its fortune-telling extrovert, is but one of the uncountable many.

  1. And while perhaps not exhaustively, I do know. []

An Attempt at the Life & Times

Monday, August 30th, 2021

What life, what times, ridiculous concepts in the context of all-consuming death. And yet, things do occur; somehow, ignorant of their own meaninglessness, items, beings, happenstances still have, and take, place. Sometimes I notice, sometimes I cannot. Often I feel gratitude for what remains. Often I spite myself for feeling anything but thickest fog and deepest black. Meanwhile, MP had ordered a new camera some time back, and I can't spite myself for feeling how incensed he'd be if it were left unused, just as I'm sure he'd be incensed if I demurred from the resistance of the medium1 and left this space blank, so long as I breathe.

Let's pretend, then, together, to care about something outside the scope of oblivion:


Some begonias. Artfully shoving their viny forearms into the faces of the hydrangeas I actually planted, these begonias came as though from nowhere, never having been chosen, planted, or even much tended to. But on they bloom.


Coffee plantation lookout, from the (higher) coffee plantation lookout. Not that one needs look out for coffee here; it's everywhere! But if it's neatly rowed, it gets noticed. And if it gets noticed, it gets a lookout. And if the lookout's particularly nice, it gets a lookout of its own. And if....


Hibiscus Exemplaris


There was a scratching, one night. In the wee hours of the morning, before the terrible dawn. A sort of scratch-writhing, as though a spiked golf ball were tossing itself about under my desk. I isolated the sound to this computer chassis box, took the box outside, and waited until morning, when the Bimbo suggested it was maybe, perhaps, a newly-hatched gecko?

Plausible! So I rushed out, opened the box carefully, anticipating rewards of cutitude and adorablosity...


...but it was merely another participant in the great beetle show, digging his way down, rather'n up, for some god-forsaken reason unknown outside of beetlekind.


Bush interprets burning.


And the many feets wish you a swing, a toecurl, and a pleasant evening, inasmuch as such can be had. It's neither clear nor comfortable in this truest post-apocalypse the earth ever dreamed up. But so it goes, apparently.

  1. The anchor link here is perhaps not the most relevant use of the "resistance of the medium" term of art as found on Trilema, but I'm anchoring it there anyhow in a fit of appreciation for that specific piece. Find me anyone else on this earth, past or present, or even fucking fictional if you like, why not, with half as much courage and initiative as Mircea Popescu to ask intelligent questions and follow them through all the way to the end, no matter how daunting, no matter how disappointing, time and time again. With the graciousness to then document it all, thoroughly, reasonably, openly. Often enough, in multiple instances, suited sufficiently to different minds and contexts to allow absorption by just about anyone willing, regardless of whatever learning disabilities've been baked into their heads. Not with an agenda, not to satisfy some bias or persuade some audience, but because that's the thing to do. Zero fucking bucks passed. []

The Sand Dollar

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

The temperature dials are still set to twenty-two degrees. I wake, breathe, falter, hold in the chaos as though it were filling some invisible but palpable bladder, always on the verge of bursting. I water the flowers --the new and the old, the ones that knew your appreciation and the ones that, like strangers, do not. I force myself to talk to people. The fact comes out of me like water pouring from my mouth: hello, my name is Hannah, my Master just died. In one way or another, everyone knows who I am talking about. Everyone takes a little step back, and puts some platitude between us, though I don't know what else I'd expect. Nothing. Nothing changes.

Nothing changes, and yet everything has. The temperature dials in the car still sit at their appointed twenty-two degrees, but now and then, as if in mechanical refusal to accept reality, the car won't start. I wake, and breathe, and forge, and falter, but beneath the surface of action there is storm, not calm; more questions than absolution. You, Master, are life. How can a single thing dare to go on living?

Some months ago, a stretch of time measured hilariously past when time has, for anything that matters, stopped, we went to the beach. The same beach, one of many times at that same beach, and after seeming ages of that dance with death in the waves, we went for a walk on solid ground. The tide was out, yielding a glistening path on the shore in which tiny geometric rivulets of water coursed to or from the sea, reflecting all the while the peach and dust rose tones of the approaching dusk. Master bent over and picked up a sand dollar: perfect, pristine white, entirely intact, a holy relic for they who search the surf for natural treasures. He'd found so many, and my fellow slave too; but this one he gave to me, and told me to safeguard it. I'd broken the last such specimen in my fist while unthinkingly catching some tossed trinket with the other, some time past, a little shattered testament of my own motor confusions.

I brought it home safely and we talked of how to maybe make a necklace or some other decoration of it. I placed it on my boudoir bureau, on a little purple velvet cloth passed down from my dead grandfather, next to friendly rocks and knick-knacks, the egret statuette where sit my rings, small oil bottles, a cup holding various brushes. And there it sat, for months, until....

I brushed my hair one morning, and replacing the instrument in its woven cup, let go, not fast enough to catch it falling back out and onto the velvet cloth, its tip directly against the sand dollar. As though it had been shot, as though some sniper had expertly found its very center and triggered true, the holy relic broke into thousands of pieces, shards and dust, chunks and granules, irretrivably other than what it had been. I swore at myself and made a fair fuss. Master saw the misfortune and soothed me, let me not think too much of it, though each new time I saw its pieces or picked up my brush I felt a little loss.

I felt a little loss, and then, not much later, came the largest one, the largest loss possible, greater than myself, and all else, by such orders of magnitude I shudder at the mere contemplation: him. I see my life in the ruined sand dollar: irretrievably other than what it had been, recognizable perhaps in pieces but undeniably broken. At the worst of times, I imagine I see him in the ruin, too; but he is as far from shattered as he ever was. His deeds still sing their strength and glory, far past the bounds of my memory and beyond, into the world that somehow dares to keep on spinning --perhaps a mere homage, perhaps no more than medium to bear the testimony of difference: then, when he deigned to walk it, and now, when he does not.

Droning down

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021

Fear seems a ridiculous concept, and yet I do: fear reality returning to the plastic facsimile it was before we met. I listen to the droning on of the people I've asked to fill my ears with their droning, an attempt to drown out the terrible quiet. The sudden quiet in the absence of your voice, joyous, deliberate. I listen to the droning on and find remarkable how little there is to care about. How little there always was. With you, next to you, under you, everything was interesting --all things, capable of being considered. Discarded quickly, perhaps, or shrugged away, but still a thing under the sun of your gaze, even if for a fleeting moment. I suppose the consideration for all perdures, but the algorithm that's different; the thing itself was examined before, and now, it's the relation to you, or more often, the lack thereof, that's under the lens.

What can I say about someone else's vague story of a house, or the wind, or a mood, some inconsequential scrap, except for what it might've been in your hands? What can I care for anything but where it might have lived in the annals of your life? Nothing means anything without you in it, and so I am so grateful for your presence in everything, everywhere. The exuberance, the willingness of you made all things yours, and so they remain. I realize they, and I, and life itself, cannot return to what they were, and so I need not fear it --but missing the energy you brought to every moment, we are all less vivid. And I long to be washed away.

A few steps.

Friday, August 6th, 2021

Things fall apart, the poet said, before there was what to fall, before the deliverance from sloth and ignorance, homogeneous ruin.

I remember the early days; the miles walked, desperate to keep up with him. His steps, like letters on a rolling printing press, wrote in sidewalk echo the narratives that poured forth from his mouth, his hands, as the world passed beneath his feet. The soft sound of his footfalls stopped now here to smell some roses, now there to point out some crack in the familiar world, a shoddy roof, an accomplished ant trail. Or the toes would turn to me and I would stand before the reprimand; for not knowing my basics, for speaking out of turn; or he'd kiss me with his eyes lit up and open, all space beyond a foot from us receeding into nothing, never, what and wherever.

Across four continents I walked with, for, because of him. His walks made me become myself, because my self was forced into shape in the space between his strides, in the striving to match his pace, the will to follow his lead, in the perception of how beautiful any, every step with him could be. In palaces and through favelas, to tango and manele, noon and midnight, asphalt and jungle, sand and stone, we walked.

I am but one of many, I know, who learned to walk with him. Who learned a deeper love, or, rather, were left with no choice but to learn a deeper love of him through distances in time and space spent covering the world, real and abstract. My odometer gave up long ago, but the memories, I hold still, and know in other hearts and minds who knows how far away fundamentally similar if inescapably distinct memories float on, full of him. There is nothing in the world I should like better than another walk with the man. To walk forever, into the end, together.

Or just once more. Just one more walk.

Null jokes

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

"Schtrap in 'cause my humor's about to get dark!"

Also known as "these aren't even real jokes!" and "I don't know what part of Australia you'd have to be from to imagine 'null' rhymes in any way with hoe, moe, or joe.".


"Do you feel like everything special about you has just been taken away?"
"What? No. Do you?"
"Because it's like you're in this schpear--"
"This what?!"
"Wtf is a schpear! How do you figure you're not special when you're coming up with shit like 'schpear'?!"
"Because you and master are the only ones who would even notice that. It's like if a tree falls down in no one to hear--"
"I challenge you to actually say what you mean there."
"It's like if a tree falls down in a forest, but there's no one around to hear it. Does it still make a sound?"
"Well done."
"Thank you. What do I get."
"I dunno, what do you want? I gave away my last marble1 to he who deserved it, so..."
"Fuck. I don't want anything."
"I can give you not anything."
"Sounds good. Goes along with the rest of how I feel."


'Cause I mean, the box that they put the urn in --if it has a little door with a handle and everything, shouldn't it also have like...a window? They lined it with some wallpaper stuff, why not put in a couch? Some lighting?


I keep telling people about our tuna thing2, and they think it's really weird."

"Oh really? I told my parents, and they didn't seem to think it was strange at all."
"Probably because they're hippies."
"What would you tell your parents we're eating in order to make them think it was a normal dinner? Spaghettios and velveeta?"
"Velveeta shells & cheese."
"Why, so you can throw up and die at the same time?"


"Can I ply you with some cashews?"
(sad face, shrug, head shake) "But I think I'll have a cookie later. If that's okay."
"Sure." (places dish of cashews on knee) "...if you can get yourself a cookie while being my nut stand."
"I'm used to being your nut stand."


"Hey how's that supposed grief catacomb thing progress, you know, like 'denial, anger, fear, guilt, err...'?"
"I don't know, I never really paid attention to all of that, it made me so mad."
"Well so then I guess at least we know what stage you're stuck in."
"Fuck you, man."


(On a walk.)
"Wasn't there a bakery or some other landmark we used here?"
"I think so --maybe a pet store or...yeah, a bakery. Maybe a pet bakery?"
"Oh no!"
"No, like a bakery for pets, although I understand why you'd take the other interpretation right now."

  1. We'd developed, over the past year or so, a sort of marble-based betting system. See, it's fun to bet with those you love, but in the context of a master/slave relationship...what are you going to bet with, exactly? So I gifted master a painted box full of marbles over christmas, and thus the pool was started. It's perhaps not shocking that I never amassed anything warranting the name of trove, or even clutch really...and in the end, after a particularly embarrassing geographical confusion and something involving Jessica Lange, I was left with just one. I put it in his pocket afore the body was laid to rest. Whether it be trinket or currency now is left for the living to guess. []
  2. I've been calling it tuna weirderole myself. It's a strange thing, living amongst gourmand cabinets fully-stocked, with the ability to make just about anything you'd want, don't want anything. Not to cook, not to eat, just...bleh. But if we don't eat, we can't think, and shit starts breaking pretty quickly, so in comes tuna weirderole: divella tricolore, canned tuna in water, avocado, plain yogurt, celery seed. []

The Comedian

Friday, July 16th, 2021

The Comedian1 asks for a lot of credit upfront, as for instance in the unspecificity of the title, or the conceptual "has been" television personality that nevertheless never was; in the same way it's incredulous that I'm apparently typing out a2 Trilema-style film review, it's incredulous this gang of movie graybeards attempts to pass off its in-the-biz buddy-buddy elbowing in 2020s shitpaper as authentic.

Believe, it asks, in marginal motifs, in the sacred love between cellared New York comedy clubs and sixties Chicago jazz. Believe that the craft in the hands of the crafter never dies, believe that honesty is still valued not to mention noticed among the herds, believe nobody really buys into the old boys institution, believe. You could, too, were it not shoved down the throat in fits of anachronism to make the whole thing more palatable to modern audiences. Part of that force feeding is the cuckification of every potential male character in the film: the lead's quite literally removed from his own procreation, Keitel's stunted tough guy's all threat and no follow-through3, even the president of the erstwhile friar club's revealed to be a bit of man-gauze thrown over a sad display of stolen jokes and self-doubt.

And then, well...then there's Leslie Mann's borderline sleeve, which would come across as an excellent rendition of that particular psychological presentation if it weren't the case that's all the woman ever portrays, but exactly. An entitled, unassailable foil for the incompetent man: the incompetent woman who'll just do things anyway, the process making her more pretentious instead of more reflective and humble, as it would in any sane head.

Toss this salad with another pass of Devito shoeing his lookalike daughter into the cast for no apparent reason, a smattering of (real! hardworking! believe!!1!) stand-ups that safely covers every single stand-up cliche in the book4, and --actually no, that about covers it.

We watched this thing with a bottle of wine while attempting to somehow take something like a break from the harem's constant screaming, crying, attempting to focus, pulling of hairs, &c, which is perhaps too much to ask of any film the harem can stand to watch right now (if it's not transparent, I mean: bad ones, or at least, ones that hadn't yet made it to the good list, or the so bad it's good list, or in any case would just immediately plunge us into the memory of the last time we watched it with Master and...). So it goes with The Comedian, though I suspect it'd fare little better in a previous, still functioning, still breathable, world.

  1. 2016, by Taylor Hackford, with Robert De Niro, Danny Devito, Harvey Keitel, Leslie Mann. []
  2. Aspirantly. Aspiringly? []
  3. He's got a Vin Diesel clone in tow to make sure the lock stays on nice and snugly. []
  4. Asian guy: "So my parents are from Taiwan, they immigrated to Texas before I was born. I think immigration is incredible, I mean, the notion of moving to an entirely foreign country so that your kid has better opportunities, and then your kid becomes a stand-up comedian." The gay guy does stupid neck pantomimes, the black guy does a flat white cop impersonation, the jewish woman harps on older jewish women...the predictability is about on the level of elementary school fire drills, otherwise notated as the furthest possible distance from comedy. []