December 11, 2020
A notification appears in a small box at the upper right corner of my computer screen
I am informed my daily average screen time — the time my computer is linked with the Internet — is seven hours, seven minutes.
I close the box.
It’s clear my fylgjurs are intoxicated and barely conscious, and have been since the day I was born. Perhaps from the time sperm collided with egg shortly after Dad leapt from the troop train at Denver’s Union Station in 1945 after two years away in the North Africa and Italian campaigns, and jumped Mom’s bones in the back seat of the taxi on the way home.
There’s no other explanation.
Damned drunken fylgjurs.
“Well, here comes Karl. We need to get to work but, first, let’s get blasted! Pass the mead.”
Really guys? Your sole task is to guide my every move, and you do this?
Freudians have mommies, Nords have fylgjurs.
Seems that, one way or the other, we’re screwed.
As I confront my consistently unhinged and unproductive condition I sulk, then the algorithm pushes me to greater depths.
Algo has joined my fylgjurs and decides that, in lieu of setting to work writing or painting, I will be won over by the athletic prowess and beauty of Angela Lee.
As a result, Algo sends me a stream of videos showing Angela as she systematically demolishes opponents in mixed martial arts fights.
Algo decides I will best appreciate clips of Angela’s most impressive high kick knockouts as well as contests in which she displays her uncanny ability to achieve a submission with a triangle choke, a guillotine, or an arm bar once she skillfully takes her hapless foe to the fluid-fouled mat.
I fix on the mat action, and concentrate my attention on the fighters’ feet. Considering they are used as weapons, most of the feet are unexpectedly attractive. Far more attractive than the feet of sandal-wearing liberals.
Often, when Angela dispatches her opponent, the unconscious woman’s legs spasm.
Following an act of unvarnished brutality, Angela removes her mouthpiece, grins, raises her hands high above her head, turns round in a circle and acknowledges her ecstatic fans. She is unmarked, she is beautiful. Every bit as beautiful as the actress in my favorite Denver mattress outlet TV ad. If I had the cash, I would own at least twelve mattresses.
Angela’s victims are often carried from the ring by medical attendants, or by minimum wage arena employees pretending to be medical attendants. There is always a great deal of blood and drool left in the octagon following a bout.
There is no pulling of hair, or scratching of faces allowed during a battle. This is only right. If it were otherwise, the matches would offer little more than the videos of drunken prostitutes attempting to kill each other in fights taking place in dark Vegas parking lots. (I watch several of these videos in order to set a solid base for comparison — a necessity for the competent cultural critic. I discover that few of the battling hookers wear underwear. All of the mixed martial artists wear undergarments. I’m not convinced this is necessary.)
I find greater meaning here: Angela, of Chinese origin, is cold-heartedly damaging opponents from both North and South America, vanquishing fighters from Southeast Asia, obliterating otherwise formidable battlers from Europe, many of them sturdy Germanic types with plentiful tattoos and formidable deltoids.
There’s a geopolitical power message imbedded in Angel’s MMA victories, and it doesn’t take a Harvard-trained mini Foucault to figure this out.
To heighten my awareness of that message, Algo appends one of Angela’s fight videos with a story from The Straits Time in Singapore about the Chinese government program attempting to create “Super Soldiers” via genetic manipulation, ruthless training from the cradle on, employment of the most advanced nutrition regimens and high-grade brainwashing techniques.
The asshole commies continue to send their stooge scientists-to-be to Cal Tech in order to master our equations and manipulate our soft drink formulae, and their hackers steal all our good ideas with no regard for our patent laws. Now, they’re working on super soldiers. Soon, they’ll surpass us and the Japanese when it comes to producing lifelike sex robots.
Pretty clear, isn’t it?
Watch Angela and it’s obvious that what the enlightened university geeks believe is true: Western “civilization” is corrupt and corroded, a cultural trash truck speeding to the junkyard of history, feeble male, white racist/misogynist hands gripping the wheel. There is no way we can successfully combat the cultural/economic onslaught. The empire is collapsing.
In victory, Angela looks like the kid who got a pony for her birthday.
And, her feet are magnificent.
I imagine she owns more than a few mattresses.
I need to have a few drinks with my fylgjurs.
December 15, 2020
A notification appears in a small box at the upper right corner of my computer screen
I am informed my daily average screen time — the time my computer is linked with the Internet — is seven hours, 20 minutes.
I close the box.
Christmas is near.
There is a herd of light-festooned facsimiles of reindeer propped up in a neighbor’s yard, the smallest with a glowing red nose, and the folks across the road have put a Santa hat on a wooden bear sculpture that sits at the side of their driveway.
The Santa hat will be removed on New Year’s Day; the reindeer will continue through April to brighten an intersection and pollute the night sky.
It is a meaningful season.
I begin my stint as a reporter in the legit news biz this time of year in the mid-80s, and one of my first assignments is to cover a much-advertised pre-Christmas whoop-dee-do at a local, decidedly other than Episcopalian Protestant church.
The brain trust at the church cobbles together an emotionally charged theatrical production that takes the faithful (and, in my case, a heathen) on a poorly paced, awkwardly acted, and overly long journey through the imagined life of Jesus beginning, of course, with my favorite part — a virgin birth.
The virgin birth is a critical element in the story; it gets things off to a ripping good start. Nothing tops mention of an impossible occurrence when it’s time to focus the attention of unanalytical minds.
Leda and The Swan, The Nephilim, Ganga and King Santanu, Aphrodite and Adonis, Mary and You Know Who. Why the hell not? You have to latch on to something if you flunked Science 100 back in high school, and your parents told you Jews, and more recently muslims, have caused all the world’s troubles.
At the end of the play, following the grim end to the protagonist’s earthly existence, the fully mature and I assume ascended/descended Jesus comes to center stage with facsimile bloodstains on his shroud and awkwardly painted wounds on hands and feet. Blood dribbles from beneath the crown of thorns, but not too much blood — these are not Catholics.
A single light illuminates Jesus from above, its source an incredibly powerful spotlight, as befits the occasion, otherworldly as it is. Ken, the bewigged and beshrouded plumbing section manager at the local hardware store, AKA The Lord, delivers a moving message to the congregation, replete with threatening overtones designed for anyone who doesn’t buy the line. Ken/Jesus reads the message from a set of 3×5 index cards. A good many of the members of the congregation weep uncontrollably.
Ken lifts his hand heavenward, toward the spotlight.
Jesus wears a wristwatch.
A cheap Timex.
I find this significant, and I include my thoughts on its meaning in my review of the play.
The publisher attends performances two nights running, and weeps uncontrollably each time. He removes my comments regarding the watch before the rest of the further-edited piece is printed. What began at 20 column inches is reduced to two paragraphs.
I absorb the first of many lessons about the legit news biz, and am reminded of a truth about organized religion of all kinds: It’s up to whoever has the money.
I don’t want to give the wrong impression, since I thoroughly enjoy cult antics, and have many friends and acquaintances who are members of cults: quasi-Marxist ideologues; Freemasons; QAnon devotees convinced a horde of Democrat baby eaters walk among us; the identity and purity police, and pronoun adjusters who haunt campuses, the arts, media, and the Internet seeking candidates for cancellation; flat earthers and antivaxxers; religious zealots drawn to the comfort of a communal mythology.
My latest cultist acquaintance is Cadence, a committed Jehovah’s Witness.
Cadence first appears on my doorstep a year or so ago in the company of another woman of considerable age. The duo asks if I want them to come in and discuss matters of the very greatest importance, matters concerning my soul.
I tell them no, that my soul is in the shop for repairs and I hesitate to discuss it when it isn’t present. It’s not polite.
They remain dour. Apparently no humor is allowed while on duty, and they are always on duty. They leave me with a paw filled with intriguing literature.
I love literature. I read The Watchtower and do my research.
About six months ago, Cadence begins to send similar materials through the mail. I’m not sure how she got my name, but the god of the Witnesses is said to work in mysterious ways. As do all gods, for that matter.
I’ll be frank: I’m desperate for attention. I’ll take any attention, any time, regardless of its quality or its source. As a result, I allow the Cadence experience to continue for six months, through nine missives.
Each letter is handwritten in block letters with what seems to me to be an Eberhard Faber Design Ebony Jet Black Extra Smooth 6325. Each begins with Cadence reviewing the fact she has “volunteered” to bring me some spectacular news. In the midst of the Covid situation, Cadence assures me the time is nigh when, as in Isaiah 33:24, “No resident will say I am sick.”
In the most recent letter, Cadence offers yet more encouraging news: the Witnesses have embraced information technology. It’s a big step for people who are deeply suspicious of gravity.
According to Cadence, I can visit the cult’s main website with no fear that data or tracking info is being collected. In an act of shocking familiarity, Cadence then includes her personal e-mail address. She is ready to help me … one on one.
Well, I think, this is a significant departure. We are connecting in a deep way. This could be the start of something big!
I send an e-mail.
“Thanks a heap for spending the time and energy needed to stay in contact, and many thanks, indeed, for your continued, deep concern regarding my spiritual life.
“The Bible references and quotes you provide are bracing and I have cross-checked many of them (the older and, thus, more dependable of the lot) using a well-thumbed copy of the Tanakh. Despite a few inadvertent wrong turns in translation that are hardly your doing, you never stoop to deceive when referring to Hebrew literature, I’ll give you that.
“I’m puzzled, however, by your concern for what you call my ‘soul,’ since it seems to me that any major transformation on my part will likely fail to bear fruit. You’ve met me at my doorstep. I think you would have sensed my alien nature, and reacted with alarm. I smelled the unmistakable scent of Dial antibacterial soap and sensed that you bathe daily, perhaps more than once per day. Any truth to that?
“I’m obviously a difficult project, and yet, you press on. The fuel of unmoored certainty is admirably powerful, though its continuous use surely damages some gaskets. This concerns me.
“Let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?
“I encounter a number of obstacles when considering your cult’s doctrine and rules. Please review my points and answer as best you can, at your leisure. Do not hesitate to be harsh, I can take it.
“First, I’m not partial to the ban on consuming alcoholic beverages, and I assume there is a similar ban concerning the use of other, more entertaining substances. There has to be — after all, if you folks reject alcohol and blood transfusions, what are you going to say about a hit or two of DMT enjoyed in the comfort of one’s own living room to the accompaniment of Guy Lombardo 78s? Is there any way to join the cult without abstaining from mood boosters and cheesy big band tunes? What are your thoughts about the oft ballyhooed palliative effects of vindaloo?
“I know you folks get together for a big hoo-ha now and then. What’s the deal? In a nutshell: what kind of fun is available at your three-day regional conventions, given the restrictions? There are only so many ways to discuss doorstep preaching techniques. Is there a chance you have dance- and music-free “sock hops” following your services, with an ice cream soda bar? Something to take the edge off? I assume internet porn is not an option when it comes to dealing with anxiety, correct? I searched PornHub and was unable to locate a Witness Milfs category.
“Second, the prohibition on dating before marriage, except when in the presence of a chaperone, would have destroyed my teen years. I can’t imagine foisting this scenario on any youngster in whom the sap rises and whose eyes glaze regularly. I have two grandsons, and both have experienced stirrings in their danger zones. I can’t imagine telling the oldest that he won’t be able to engage in some harmless foreplay without an adult being present. Talk about a buzz kill: him and his date outside the prom, cozied up in the front seat of the Landcruiser, trying to explore one another’s treasures while gramps sits behind them eating Funions and listening to right wing podcasts on his headphones. This clearly won’t work.
“Third: your cult seems to believe that only a small number of individuals will be able to rise to a fully graceful state, in that but 144,000 anointed Witnesses will join Jesus in ruling heaven, the universe, whatever. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems the chance of being tabbed as one of the exalted horde is pretty slim. Is it done via a lottery of sorts? Are the odds about the same as those for winning the Powerball drawing? I appreciate your cult’s rejection of the currently fashionable progressive ideal of equity of outcome, but if there’s little or no chance I can rise to the top solely by virtue of my talents and efforts as an artiste and a wit, why try in the first place? It doesn’t seem American to me.
“ Fourth: Why no windows in Kingdom Halls? And why no images or objects of veneration? The one thing I’ll say in defense of Catholics is that the objets d’art one encounters at The Vatican, in European churches and at crumbling monasteries in central Spain are pretty damned entertaining. How is aesthetic satisfaction to be achieved in a windowless, bare-walled sanctuary? Unless, of course, you indulge in lavish, erotic rituals you’ve not made known to the general public. Is this the case? If so, are there photos available?
“Fifth: What is the chance, should I succumb to the magic of your preaching and become a Witness, that I will be allowed to provide illustrations and commentary for The Watchtower? Not that it’s boring, but I know I can boost this pamphlet to a state where it appeals to the younger, “hipper” members of society — you know, the chaste, fresh ones without tattoos and piercings, those with a lifetime of devoted doorbell ringing ahead of them. Check this out with your superiors, and get back to me. Do you have superiors? Are they all males? Do they have more money than you? Do you Witness gals get together without the guys and discuss orgasms? Are Witness women allowed to have orgasms? One glance at Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa tells me the Catholics know of such things. How about you? Now that we are friends, we can communicate on a deeply personal level. Trust me.
“Please respond and let’s keep this dialogue going. It’s nice to have a clean pal with whom I can exchange ideas of paramount importance. There’s a good chance my soul will be returned from the shop one day soon, replacement parts installed and lubed, and I am sure we’ll have quite the time taking it out for a test drive. Just you and me, and a chaperone if need be. Stop by once the ice in my driveway melts. I’ll pack a picnic lunch.
“Until then, keep up the good work, bathe whenever you want, knock often, write soon.
“The Heathen Behind The Green Front Door.”