Ice Friday: James Jones “Thin Red Line”

The stark World War II prose of James Jones in The Thin Red Line remind us of what happens to the psyche when everything else is stripped away:

He heard the soft “shu-u-” of the mortar shell for perhaps half a second. There was not even time to connect it with himself or frighten him, before there was a huge sunburst roaring of an explosion almost on top of him, then black blank darkness. He had a vague impression that someone screamed but did not know it was himself. As if seeing dark film shown with insufficient illumination, he had a misty picture of someone other than himself  half-scrambling, rolling down the slope. Then nothing. Dead? Are we, that other one is I? am he? img_4553“Am I hit? Am I hit?”

“Yes,” Train mumbled. “Y-you are.” He also stuttered. “In the head.”

“Am I?” Fife looked at his hands and found them completely covered with the wet red. He understood now that peculiar red haze. Then terror blossomed all through him like ballooning great fungus, making his heart kick and his eyes go faint.

Donald Trump: Doom’s Harbinger

That so many people supported Trump’s hateful message is horrifying, a reminder that we are no further than the Germans a hundred years ago.

Hitler: In the course of my life I have very often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it. Today I will once more be a prophet.

TrumpThey laughed at me when I said to bomb the ISIS controlled oil fields. Now they are not laughing and doing what I said.trump1HitlerAs Fuehrer of the German people and Chancellor of the Reich, I can thank God at this moment that he has so wonderfully blessed us in our hard struggle for what is our right.

TrumpWe need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. We need — we need somebody — we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.Hitler2Hitler: The war against Russia will be such that it cannot be conducted in a knightly fashion. This struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be conducted with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting harshness.

TrumpAnd the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families. When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives; don’t kid yourself. But they say they don’t care about their lives. You have to take out their families. trump2HitlerLet the nation know that its existence—which depends on its internal order and security—cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone!

Trump (To security staff, regarding protesters): Throw them out! Throw them out into the cold! No coats! Confiscate their coats!TrumpBrownShirts

This populist wave of ignorance demonstrates that, like everything, humanity is doomed to sink inevitably back into the abyss.

(*Reblogged from mcphedranbadside.com, February 1, 2016)

Why are you always on your phone?

Why are you always on your phone?

(No response)

Why are you always on your phone?

What?

Why are you always on your phone?

I’m not.

emilo-perezYou’re on your phone right now.

You’re the one who’s always on your phone.

You’re on your phone right now.

Not like you.

Like me?

Like you.

Always on your phone.

Have you seen this?

What?

This post?

Which one?

It’s funny.20150325_183719

What?

So true.

What?

I don’t believe it.

This story about those girls.

Oh, that.

Incredible.

I posted about that.

Ice Friday: Lightfoot’s “The Watchman’s Gone”

Gordon Lightfoot, Canada’s singer-songwriter laureate, conveys the weight of mortality in a few lines from The Watchman’s Gone:
There’s a train down at the station
It’s come to carry my bones awayimg_4624
If I wait for the right moment
You can bet I’ll climb aboard unseen
I’ve done it before
I know I can do it in my sleep

Thank You For Your Fucking Patience

There will be a delay of 90 minutes. We apologize for the delay. 

We have an update on the delay. We are experiencing technical difficulties. It is now three hours. Thank you for your patience.20140711_181020Can I have a water please?

There is no service until we reach cruising altitude. Thank you for flying Delta. 

Just a water.

We have begun our descent. Please replace all tray tables and put your seats in the upright position.

Is there any water? 20141130_073127We apologize, but we will not be able to land. We will go to our alternate destination, which is also our departure point. Please remain in your seat while the seatbelt light is illuminated..

Is it possible to have a water?20141130_073403

Please replace all tray tables and put your seats in the upright position. Anyone making connections should report to the gate agent. 

Connections? From where we left?

We will remain at the gate until we have clearance to return to our destination. We do apologize and thank you for flying Air Canada.

Is there any…?20141130_073401

The crew has exceeded the maximum shift hours permitted. We will have to debark here.

Is there…?

Any questions should be directed to the call center. However they will not be able to take your calls until the flight cancellation is processed.

How long…?

Thank you for flying People’s Express.20161031_004419

 

Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion”: WTF is with Sci-Fi?

Dan Simmons’ epic novel Hyperion is a Hugo Award winner, highly praised in the science fiction world and evidence of why I cannot read anymore of the genre. hyperionSci-fi should lend itself to dynamic narratives, to worlds beyond our repetitively predictable laws, but instead becomes mired in the same dreadful aspects: unimaginative writing, flat characters, ill-thought plot and unbelievably stupid words put together in the guise of world-building.

The second law of writing (after Keep It Simple Stupid) would have to be Never begin with “It was a dark and stormy night”. 20151003_070935_resizedAnd yet Simmons opens: Bruise black clouds silhouetted a forest of giant gymnosperms while stratocumulus towered nine kilometers high in the violent sky. Lightning rippled along the horizon. (3) 

Simmons’ protagonist, The Consul, is singularly bland: (He) turned and dropped into the cushions…nodded and absently raised the scotch to his lips…went to pour another scotch…went outside to lean on the railing…the only sentient being on an unnamed world. (4-6) Sentient? Really?20150301_141816The story jolts forward, Chaucerien style, with each of the seven characters debating whether to share their back-stories:

“Those in favor of telling our tales?”

“I wouldn’t miss this little farce for a month in the orgasm baths at Shote.”

“I think it’s stupid,” said Brawne Lamia.

“The ayes have it. Who wants to start?”

(It’s a shame that they agreed; otherwise Hyperion would have been 400 pages lighter.)

They arrive on the planet Hyperion where the innkeeper informs them: “No food. No wine. No ale.” (113) And yet…a page later: Somehow Leweski had managed to send up a tankard of beer and a basket of bread and cold beef. (114) foodTruth is, the comically bad narrative often acts as a relief against a backdrop of nonsensical babble: If the fleet did construct a farcaster in time and the Hegemony committed the total resources of FORCE to defending Hyperion, the Worldweb ran the terrible risk of suffering an Ouster attack….yeah, and on.