Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Luckiest Girl Alive (2022)

Really didn't know what to expect of this film, and the trailer on Netflix had a scene that had very little to do with the rest of the movie, so frankly, I thought it was going to be a story about a little rich girl and how tough it is to be a little rich girl.

But boy was I wrong!

The main plot of the story, as it unfolds is tension enough: in short, an early-30s career-driven woman determined to make it into the upper class - both through marriage and by hard work - has to come face to face with her tragic past (a school shooting where, it turns out, she knew the mass murderer).

Don't want to give too much away, because this is definitely a film worth watching, but an additional plus for this film is that while the character COULD be cliched, or one-dimensional, they are not.  Not one in here (including the mass shooter) is entirely one thing or another.  Nobody is wholly sympathetic of completely despotic.  Everyone has some redeeming qualities and some deep flaws.

Especially the part of the fiancé - it would have been easy to make him the jerk that she's better off without (she IS the main character, of course, we're supposed to be on her side, right?) but yes, while we do come down on her side, he does have some good observations at times.  And the sadness is that his timing was off on the communication.

In a time in which it is rare for movies truly to surprise us, this one does a very good job of providing believable, multi-faceted characters.

It seems wrong to call this an "enjoyable" film, because the themes are dark and harsh (not only the mass shooting, but there is also rape and a cover-up), but even with the darkness, "enjoyable" is probably the best descriptor.  



Luckiest Girl Alive (film).jpg 

How Mila Kunis helped shape a new ending for 'Luckiest Girl Alive' movie |

Friday, December 23, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Woman King (2022)

I liked The Woman King because it didn't shy away from African involvement in the African slave trade.   My wife panned me for even saying that, thinking I was being a White Apologist.  

However, I'm not. Chattel Slavery was morally wrong, ultimately economically unsustainable, and has had detrimental effects extending into our modern world; as such, there is really no good that ever came from this practice, other than that the people who are alive today were born as a direct result of this forced migration.  Yes, what I am saying is that people like Viola Davis and my wife and myself would not be alive today had that migration not happened.  Had forced Chattel Slavery not moved everyone around, every single person in the continents would not be here.  Different people would be in our place.

How can you say that? you ask.  Oh you meanie! That's like trying to say it was OK because it had a benefit!

No it's not.  It's merely stating a fact.  Without putting any emotional weight on it - and that's what the Woman King tries to do, at least with the King of the Dahomey.  Viola Davis's Nanisca tries to show King Ghezo that there is an economic alternative to their tribe's involvement in the slave trade.  King Ghezo doesn't care about morality of the practice one way or another: he just wants to build an empire.  If he can do that by selling other tribes captured in battle or by making palm oil, he'll do whatever makes more economic sense.  



The Woman King' To Have An India Wide Release On This Date - GoodTimes:  Lifestyle, Food, Travel, Fashion, Weddings, Bollywood, Tech, Videos & Photos


 ... Nawi, while well played and engaging, rather fell flat for me as a character because she was, at the heart of it all, simply another archetype of the "Maverick Rebel Individualist" who "goes her own way" and "does her own things" and "defies convention" and blah blah blah turns out that she is successful in everything she does that breaks the rules.  That's tired, pat, and boring.  

And yes, her being the daughter that Nanisca gave away 19 years before, well, you could see that coming from a mile away.

However, the most interesting character study in this film is the interaction between Nawi and Izoge

'The Woman King' Digital Release Coming Soon

Izoge as the trainer of the Nawi the young warrior is the Big Sister that Nawi needs to navigate this new world, and also becomes the mother figure that Nanisca never could be.  Their scenes are character gold - my only fear was that they would fall into the current trope of making them lesbian lovers (you know, to get the LGBTQ crowd on board with support of the film) but fortunately that did not happen 

oh no!  now you're anti LGBTQ as well!  you say.  Nooo... I'm just against tropes in movies.

Like the trope of the mulatto (Oh my mother was Dahomey so I'm Dahomey too, even though my daddy was white and I'm Brazilian) who could have loved Nawi but in the end had to let her go so that they both could be free.  


The Woman King Cast and Character Guide: Who Plays Who?


Lastly, the lack of bloodletting in the fight scenes made it seem like a made-for-Netflix movie ... or an installment of Black Panther MCU.  This kept it from the grittiness that it actually could have had.  But then, do we really want to see an African female version of 300?   Maybe the movie wouldn't have looked as slick as a graphic novel, but it would have been nice to have seen this movie look more like "Beast of No Nation" which was so hard hitting that you had to have your eyes closed through half of it, but which seemed to take a true look at Africa, how it is now, and how it, too, is still dealing with the sins of the past.

Last two points: Viola Davis does come across as Annalise Keating in African warrior garb.  She even has the same "strong woman dealing with inner demons" story arc.  So if you like her in this movie and haven't seen the series "How to Get Away With Murder" go watch all six seasons.  You are in for a treat.

And Thuso Mbedu's scene of grief over Izoge's death is one of the BEST grief scenes I've seen in film.  Her pain is heartfelt, sincere, the tone was perfect.  It suddenly turned what was a bland movie into art.  If the rest of the film's actors had been able to achieve that amount of emotional intensity, then this would have been a film no one could miss.  


Postscript: the Comments on this article show how we are unable to separate our modern day emotions from the Chattel Slavery of the past...


Thursday, December 22, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Loving Adults (2022)

Could somebody PLEASE stop making all these movies where the guys are cheating and the woman finds out about it by looking at the dude's cell phone?  Every single movie, the moment someone mentions that, suddenly my wife is like, "gimme your phone.  what's the passcode?  what are your text messages?  who are you texting?  lemme see your email, your IG, your contacts, your phone calls" 

... and I'm just like, "can we PLEASE just watch the damn movie?"

Loving Adults (2022) – Review | Netflix Thriller | Heaven of Horror

for what it's worth, a decent watch, with some interesting twists, but SPOILER ALERT!!









There is no way such a suspicious, murderous, intelligent, cunning woman would have ever allowed any of the precipitous events to unfold anyway.   In short, the guy never in his life would have been able to have even started an affair, much less have it go on for six months without his wife knowing about it.  Even though there was a line about how she was so wrapped up in their son's illness and he was just now getting cured, even that is not believable.  She'd been caring for the boy for decades, and even though it is a full time job, having such a sharp mind, she would have known her husband was going to have an affair even before HE knew he would, and she would have curtailed it.

So, that actually is a detriment to the movie for me.

I did like the bit at the end, in which the frame story (the police detective talking to his daughter on a lunch date) turns out to be the detective relaying this story to his daughter on her wedding day.  I mean, what kind of dad tells a story about a married couple committing murders and entrapping each other tells that to his daughter on her wedding day?!

Come to think of it ... as a dad myself, if I were a police detective, yeah, I'd probably give my daughter the cautionary tale as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: Jared and Elon with the Saudis


Super hilarious is that millions of mouth-breathers think that Elon is FOR "Freedom of Speech"

In Spanish, there is a saying, "Dime con quien andes, y te digo quien eres."

"Tell me who you hang with, and I'll tell you who you are."

Monday, December 19, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: The Post-Truth World is Messi

Argentina wins the World Cup and Messi goes out a hero, and, of course, suddenly on social media there is speculation that the whole thing was somehow fixed by the Saudis, and I'm left thinking it's no wonder we're in a post-truth world.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Matrix for Christmas

The report came out today that consumer spending was down for the month of November, so all the stock markets went down as investors get skittish, which basically shows you that if YOU ARE NOT BUYING SHIT, THEN RICH PEOPLE FREAK THE FUCK OUT!!!

We know this.  We have grown up with this.  We have lived with this all our lives: the simple fact is that each individual American exists solely for the purpose to consume.  

We buy buy buy what they sell sell sell ... and when we don't buy THEY have a conniption fit.

Every aspect of our existence is geared toward this consumer economy.

The Matrix hit it on the head: we exist to feed their them while we live in a fantasy world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: A Few Quotes for your Daily Devotional

 "Death, they say, acquits us of all obligations. "
— Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without. "
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"The truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even murder, with the truth."
— Alfred Adler

"The greatest menace to our civilization today is the conflict between giant organized systems of self-righteousness."
— Herbert Butterfield

Overheard at the Counter: Insomnia at Least Churned the Creative Juices

Things thought of between 12:11 am and 4:30am


    Shooting blanks into a barren womb
    The only thing we’re making here is love

    How is 2022 treating you?
    Slightly better than 20 and 21 … how about you?

    Two couplets gazed into each other’s eyes
    and asked, “Are double-minded people always Geminis?”



He called himself the #promptmaster.
    (With the hashtag)
    He threw prompts onto Twitter like food into a fishbowl
    and all the little writers nibbled, and they wrote

    and they wrote, and he savored their glorious words,
    fed upon their prose, and the more he feasted,
    the thinner they grew;

    and when they started to die off and flake away,
he created new prompts,
    looking for newer, fresher, more hearty

    Martin scrolled through her TL
    looking for clues: a streetsign in the background
    of a selfie, or a comment about the weather (he
    cross-referenced with local reports), a name drop
    of a restaurant she’d been,

    until one day, he found where she lived.

    So, he got himself ready to meet her.

    Stuffing his duffel bag, he said to himself,
    I’m not some snivelling soyboy.
She’ll learn not to call ME “Incel.”
    She’ll learn not to block all my accounts
    and most important,
    she’s gonna learn what love is!

    The Long and Winding Road
    The percussion is a piledriver.   Metallic clanging.  Hammer on anvil.
    Pauses at the beginnings of new verses can have wind sounds and/or risers.
    Acoustic guitar, played hard.
    Vocals like Tom Waits
    Perhaps a distorted bass guitar, perhaps just a few chords on meaty electric
    toward the later verses, a little snap of a mandolin, just to give that tiny bright offset
    The main version of this song is syrupy, and all covers have been wishy washy.  
Making it like a Tom Waits song will give it some real grit!


    Me [waking up at 1:18am]: No worries, I’ll be back to sleep in five …
My Insomnia: Hello there!  Glad to see you’re up!  Hey, remember that offhand snark you made to the VP of Sales yesterday?  Let’s go over all the ways that’s gonna come back to bite you in the ass!

    Me: Fuck you.

Insomnia: More like ‘You’re fucked!’  … because you also have that big project you haven’t even started and year end is in like, what? TWO WEEKS!  Better strap yourself in, pal.  It’s gonna be a looong night!

All the other things that were on my mind were just thoughts about work and what I need to do today.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Rohatsu, December 8, 2022

 “It is Bodhi Day today!  Happy Rohatsu!” Paolo grinned.

“You remembered!” Helena smiled back at the screen.  “And you’re off today too, right?  L'Immacolata Concezione?”

“Yeah, everything’s closed today,” he said.  “My grandmother wants me to take her to Mass.”  He rolled his eyes.  “I think she’s the last one in all Italy who still goes!”

Helena laughed.  “Traditions can be good, they can be healthy and give focus.”

“The only traditions I follow are my friends watching the World Cup Quarter Finals tomorrow.  If Netherlands wins, I’ll probably call you crying, and if Argentina wins, we’ll all call you screaming how much we love you and miss you!”

Helena said, “All of you will probably be too drunk by that time to work your phones!”

Paolo agreed, “E posible, sí… So, how are things in Nebraska?”

“Cold,” she said, “But I’m brewing some tea, home-grown chamomile and some anise that Claire sent.  And … of course, some panettone”

“UGH!  Not that shit they sell in America!”

“Well, if I were in Milano with you guys, then I could buy fresh from the corner bakery, now couldn’t I?”

“You can always come back any time, mi amore!”

“I will … someday,” Helena said, even though she knew that “someday” often remains forever elusive, somewhere in a distant, merely possible, future.

“Cazzo,” Paolo said, “Sorry, that’s my grandmother calling.  I need to go.  Call you later, OK?”

“OK,” Helena said.  “Ciao!”


And Paolo was gone.  And like each time of him being gone, with each phone call becoming more increasingly brief, he always seemed like a kite, flying higher and higher in the air, and she kept letting out more line, until that kite was completely obscured by clouds.

But, that is the way of many things, she thought, and so she took a sip of tea, tucked her feet underneath her on the couch.  Her cat came and curled up beside her.  She picked up the book she’d been trying to find the time to read (Idle Hands, by Cassondra Windwalker), and as she turned the page, she wondered if, 

at this specific moment, 
on this specific day, 

if this feeling of quiet, gentle absence, 
is shared by Yoko Ono.






Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Overheard at Booth 1: The One Who Puts on His Armor Should Not Boast Like the One Who Takes It Off

While I know it's cool these days to make fun of the Bible, last night a preacher gave a passage that's pretty badass:

    And the King of Israel said, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes     it off.’”

    - 1 Kings 20:11


The sermon was about boasting, and the pastor was talking about the people who talk about "OH I'm going to do this and OH I'm going to do all this wonderful stuff and OH people are going to be amazed at all the stuff I'll do!"

Essentially, stop bragging when you've got nothing to brag about.  Don't talk about what you are going to do... DO IT.  Then, once it's done, you can talk about it, critique it, test it to see if it was a success or not.

The guy going out to the battle shouldn't say he's going to win the battle.  The guy who has come back from the battle, alive and still strong enough to take off his armor, that's the guy who gets to tell the story.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: A Man and Wife and the Cliffs of Moher

A man and his wife take a vacation to Ireland.  They go to the Cliffs of Moher, magnificent and austere cliffs that stretch for miles and gaze out into the broad, wild waters of the North Atlantic.  Standing on the very edge, they peer straight down – a sheer drop of 3,000 feet.

The man stretches his arm at the view and says, “Ireland, babe!  Did you ever think we’d make it?”

“It’s absolutely beautiful!” he wife replies.

“And hey, you know how you’ve been wanting to redo the kitchen?   Well … you’re looking at it!  Surprise!”

The next day, the Irish Times reports that another body had been found at the bottom of the Cliffs of Moher – another apparent suicide.

The wife reads the article, smiles to herself, folds the paper and places it carefully into her bag, and then pulls out her ticket to board the plane back to the States.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Overheard at the Counter: Jet Blue (Two Demos)

 Jet Blue

An hour late board and I’m never getting home
Jet Blue
It’s not for you
Jet Blue
It’s not for me or you.

This station’s utter chaos
There’s no plane at the gate
When it comes they’ll have to clean
They always make us wait
Jet Blue
It’s not for you
Jet Blue
It’s not for me or you.

Some guy in the corner
He don’t know what to do
The airline sent his luggage
All the way to Katmandu
Jet Blue
It’s not for you
Jet Blue
It’s not for me or you.

They said that we’d be boarding two hours ago
Jet Blue
It’s not for you
Jet Blue
It’s not for me or you.

Another hour gone I’m never getting home
Jet Blue
It’s not for you
Jet Blue
It’s not for me or you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Lucky and Otis - Pirates or Ninjas?

Otis Redwing: Pirates or Ninjas?

Lucky Moran: For what?

Otis: Just saw it online, someone asking which one is cooler: Pirates or Ninjas.

Lucky: Pirates of course!

Otis: Why "of course"?

Lucky: 'Cuz no one ever sang sea shanties about ninjas!

Otis:  Sure they did ... you just couldn't hear 'em!

Lucky: Ohhhhh good one!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Overheard at the Counter: American Pie (November 8, 2022)


A long long time ago, I can still remember
How Democracy used to make me smile
And I knew that every few years
I could vote for or against my peers 
And they would be in office only for awhile 

But this November has made me shiver
With every post on IG and Twitter
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about this Fascist Pride
But something touched me deep inside
The day Democracy died

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Lexus to the Nexus
But the Nexus was dry
Some good old boys were eatin’ burgers and fries
Singing, "This'll be the day that it dies
This will be the day that it dies”

Does your front yard sign say LOVE IS LOVE
Or do you proclaim faith in God above?
If the Bible tells you so
Do you carry a gun with your Cross?
Do  you think Springsteen’s still the Boss
Or just another Libtard so and so?

Well I know that we’re all in love with sin
We just disagree on which we like to enter in
We both put up our fists
Wishing the Other didn’t exist

Well as a centrist, I was stuck
With a rainbow sticker on my pickup truck
But I knew that we were completely fucked
The day Democracy died


Well for eight years we had Barack O
Which made all the Republicans say Oh hell NO!
And that helped them gain unity
The Electoral College installed the Orange Clown
Our institutions started crumbling down
And walls went up between you and me

Now the Lizard look down at the border
And took away babies from their mothers  
Which the Clown thought was fun
He said, “Lookit those babies run!”

And while the clown sent love notes to Lil Kim
Impeachement shadows lurked over him
Pastors prayed for the Seraphim
To usher the day Democracy died


Then a little bug from Wuhan flew
across the world, killed a million or two
Everyone around the globe was falling fast
The Clown didn’t know what to do
“Wear a mask?  Well it’s up to you!
Drink some bleach and shine a light up your ass!”

Now 2020 ended with perfect sight
We thought we’d stopped the wrong of the Right
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

'Cause the losers tried to take the field
Because the Clown refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day Democracy died?

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Watched my Lexus change its sexes
But its sexes was bi
Some good old boys were eatin’ burgers and fries
Singing, "This'll be the day that it dies
This will be the day that it dies”

Now out in Arizona there's a crazy Lake
Who says she won’t concede the race
And vows that the Clown will run again
And in Georgia a Walker’s gonna go far,
This mentally bifurcated football star
Gonna give the Reds a touchdown in the end

Now the Wizard sold magic weight loss pills
Now the’s the cure for Conservative Ills
Even though he was late
In moving to the state

And as the votes were contested into the night
And we all were blinded by the Right
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day Democracy died


I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
She said her pronouns were them and they
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
Store was closed, cuz everything’s in the cloud, anywayyyyy

And in the schools, the children scream
As the bullets fly and the rifles gleam.
So many words are spoken
The church bells are just tokens

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They said, “Good luck, fools, ‘cuz your country’s toast”
The day Democracy died


Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Poem of the Day "Thoughts on When We Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil"

Thoughts on When We Shuffle Off this Mortal Coil

broken bottle
empty pockets
fingers around the last throw of the dice
time to check out of the casino
neon lights sputtering in a few spots
we all get up as one
and lumber sluggish toward the door.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Under the Sun

Under the Sun
Eccelsiastes 1:3-11

[Tempo slow – NOT lugubrious, but subdued]

Verso 1
Am7                         D
There’s nothing new under the sun
Am7                          D
What’s there to do has all been done
Am7                             D
And all your working through this life
Am7                           D
Will never truly satisfy

       Am7         Em    G    D    
The sun also rises the sun also sets
               Am7    Em    G    
And the world never forgets
           Am7     Em                          G         D    
What happens tomorrow happened yesterday
        Am7    Em    G    
The same as it goes on today

Verso 2
Am7                             D
The wind blows south and to the north
Am7                             D
Around and around and back and forth
Am7            D
All the streams flow to the sea
Am7                D
And return eventually


Puente [tempo slight increase – breezy]
G                     D            Am            C
Generations come and generations go and the Earth just keeps on spinnin’
G                     D            Am            C
Generations come and generations go and the Earth just keeps on spinnin’
G               D               Am            C
Around and around and around and around and around and around and around and a

[musical rest – percussion comes in with a festive beat]

Part 2
Hebrews 13:8
       Am7              D             Am7               D
The Lord is the same yesterday and today and forever and ever and ever
       Am7        D              Am7                 D
The Lord is the same today and tomorrow and forever and ever and ever            
       Am7              D             Am7               D
The Lord is the same yesterday and today and forever and ever and ever
       Am7        D              Am7              D
The Lord is the same today and tomorrow and forever and ever A-men
Am7            D
        Hal-le    LUUUU-IA



[NOTE: This was the first draft.  The music for the chorus has since been completely re-written.]

Written for Agradacida

Monday, October 24, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: The Marriage

Heard on the radio today that 70% of all the food made by the big manufacturers - Heinz, Kraft - are unhealthy.

That's what I've been telling you for years but you never listen, this is what my sister has been telling me, that all the food companies are married to Big Pharma.  They make food, we get sick, Big Pharma gets rich off of medicine.  You should stop buying that cheese you always buy, because it has calcium, you need to train your taste buds to eat more crema and non-cheese products, it's like that water that you always buy, that bottled water, it has calcium in it.  Why does it have to have calcium?  Calcium rots the bones, that's why all the old people can't move and are so stiff, because they have too much calcium.  I see these doctors from Spain, they say to stop taking calcium, because it's just hardening all our organs from the inside.

I was just thinking maybe we should buy more fresh vegetables.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Email from a Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Hey, sis!

Me again ... still nothing, but I'm just going to keep emailing you, hoping that you'll get these and reply.  Got no one else to write to any more.  No one that I'd want to anyway.  Mom and Dad are gone.  Grandad's - well, he's Grandad.  Don't know if you're still not talking to Aunt Maeve and Uncle John, and our cousins, yeah, you remember all that went on.

Shit, when I actually write it down, it does kinda seem like I'm the odd one out.  Hell, haven't even spoken to YOU in fifteen years, so maybe you are just ignoring me.  I can totally understand that.  Well, if you're getting these, even if you don't respond, at least you'll know what's going on with me and maybe that'll help.  At least, I think it helps me to write these emails to you.

For example: this castle.  OK, I've been here a month now, and I swear, this castle actually plays tricks on me.  I think I know where everything this is, and then I find myself in different rooms that I don't expect to find myself in.  It's like I will walk through a door that I know should open into the Library and then suddenly find myself in a bedroom, or go toward the kitchen and wind up in the Library.  Doesn't happen ALL the time, maybe once every other day, but enough to be noticeable.  It almost feels like the castle is having a bit of fun at my expense.  

One embarrassing moment was when I was wanting to go into the study and somehow found myself in the downstairs bathroom, and there's Essex, sitting on the toilet, in full gear (by gear, I mean, he walks around in leather straps, bottomless chaps, studded collar, the full outfit.  Don't know if I've told you that) and so you can imagine what it looks like when he looks up from his copy of "SPANK HARD" magazine and shouts, "ARE YOU HERE FOR YOUR GOLDEN SHOWER?  I STILL HAVE ENOUGH TO SHOWER YOU WITH SUCH DROPLETS OF SUNSHINE THAT YOU WILL FEEL WARMTH AND LOVE!" and I'm like, "Uh, no sorry, dude, wrong room" and I shut that door SO FAST and got the hell out of there.  I still don't know if he's joking or not ... but I'm scared to find out!  

And I haven't told you much about Vasiliya, the maid.  There was one time I was wanting to get something out of the pantry, and for some reason found myself in the Library, which has these beautiful bay windows, and there was Vasiliya, and I don't know how to describe it, but it looked like she was STRETCHED all the way to the top of the window, with a duster, dusting the corners.  As though her torso was stretched ... like the guy from the Fantastic Four or Plastic Man.  And then, it was like she heard me walk in and suddenly, she was normal height again.  In a snap!  Split-second.  Happened so fast that I'm not sure I even saw it right, as though it was maybe a trick of the light.   

And today, when I actually was intending to go to the Library, I wound up in the study, and there was Lara, the Baroness, on the floor against with some riding boots and fishnet stockings, and then the Baron was sitting on a chair, and he was holding a pair of six-inch stilettoes, dangling off one finger, as though he was enticing her with them, but she just seemed to want to lie on the floor looking at her boots, and he was wanting her to put on the shoes.   And they were both bathed in light from the open window and it was a - a quiet scene, I guess you would say.  To me, they seemed to be moving slowly, if at all, and the shadows made it look like a Caravaggio painting.

Then they both looked at me and smiled in a strange way, as though I had walked in on something intimate that they wanted me to be a part of.  As though they, and the castle, had brought me into this room, at this moment, and at the other rooms at THOSE moments, to ... I don't know ... to SHOW me this.  All this.   As thought the Castle is slowly TRUSTING me more, or maybe ... testing me to see how much I can absorb.

Sis, I suppose I am writing all this to you because you are the only person I know who would really understand this.  You have always been really up on this kind of stuff.  You should probably be here instead of me.  You'd know how to process all this.

Well, so this is me again, sending out this plea that if you get this and have any sort of advice for your little brother about all this, please shoot me those nuggets of wisdom!  Until then, I'll keep writing, because at the very least, it helps me get everything organized in my head.

Until next time,


Overheard at Table 4: Overheard from the Boss's Office

"Dawn is the light of the fire"

... I heard my boss say that from his office down the hall yesterday.   And I still don't know what it means

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Smoking Dream

Had a dream last night that my son was smoking ... in my room!  Those long thin brown cigarettes.

Told him not to smoke in the house.

He told me I should quit smoking too.

I looked down at my hand, and there was a cigarette, half-gone, ash arching off the middle of the cigarette.  Instead of being smoke-free for over twenty years, turns out, I'd never stopped.  

Friday, October 14, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Email from a Castle in the Scottish Highlands - Mad Carnival


Dear Marj,

Haven't heard back from you, but haven't gotten any notification that your email address is undeliverable, so I'll just follow up with another email because I really want to tell you about the Mad Carnival, which was unbelievable!

Like I said, I hadn't seen much of the local village when I was passing through to come up here, but yes, it is absolutely the quaint village that you'd expect, with the two story buildings made of sand-colored stone as well as greys, with red brick chimneys from every roof top and spires of several churches peeking upward from the middle of them.  Just like something out of a postcard or what you would expect from late Medieval times.   Absolutely beautiful in its charm - although I guess that only we Americans find that charming.  Everybody else here seems to think it's just normal day-to-day run-of-the-mill town, which I suppose for them it is.  

But when you come from a place where buildings made in the 1970s are considered "ancient architecture" and the cities tear down 20 year old buildings to make way for something brand new that will just be torn down again in 20years, having something that's been up since the time Knights roamed the lands, that's amazing!

The Mad Carnival had set up in the town square, a conjunction of about three rows of buildings that meet in what seems to be the geographical center of town, which appears to be a bit of a dip from the hills around it, that become mountains that overlook it.  There is a river that flows nearby, underneath stone bridges that have probably seen invading Vikings as well as English and French and maybe even Roman troops. (I'll need to read more about it)

But as for the Mad Carnival, it was a freakshow on crack! such beautiful crazy characters all around, in steampunk costumes and renfair jumpsuits, top hats and ribbons and bows and skirts and swords and pirate boots and all sorts of delicious insanity.  It reminded me so much of the Halloween Hayrides you and I used to go on in Middleton Falls.

Strange thing happened near sundown. we were walking past the hatchet throwing and the woman on the spinning wheel, and the Ring-the-Bell, and then suddenly this Flame Thrower guy spits fire directly at the Baron!  Must have been an accident, but I kid you not, it seemed like the guy actually turned and shot it directly in his direction.  I just saw these flames going all up and down his arm and it looked like it covered his torso and his face, and then the next second, the Baron is just patting the flames off his coat.  Just patting them out with his hand!  

And the flame thrower guy was all apologies and "beg yer pardon, suh!" and all that, and the Baron was superchill and just said, "Think nothing of it," and walked on, but I'm thinking, "He just got covered in FIRE!"  But we just walked on like nothing happened, except that the Baroness looked back once at the guy and seemed to mutter something under her breath, but I couldn't catch what it was.

And that wasn't the only thing.  Later on, there was this lady who came up to me while I was buying some legs of lamb for the family.  Had to keep asking her to repeat herself because she was speaking low and I couldn't really understand her accent, it was so thick, and finally, I could make out that she was asking me if I really was the butler for the family and I said that yes, I was.  And she said, "Mind yourself in that castle, strange happenings in that place, strange happenings, mind you." and it was the way she said it. "Strange happenings" - making the first word into two syllables and undulating the second word, it really just stuck in my brain, because in a second, she was gone, just as though she had been swallowed up by the crowd.

And when I got back to the rest with the Legs of Lamb, Essex takes one look and bellows out "THIS MEAT IS NOT AS TENDER AS MY MEAT!  THIS MEAT SHOULD BE BEATEN THE WAY I BEAT MY MEAT!" and so I figured the lady had probably heard him when he comes to the village to get supplies and stuff for the kitchen.  Essex, man, gotta love that guy!

But you know, now that I think of it, as we left that night, we walked back past the stall where the fire thrower was, and I didn't see him there, but there was a giant charred spot on the ground, right in the center, and that kinda looked a little strange to me.  Probably nothing, but I looked at the Baroness, Lara, and I saw her looking at the spot, too, and then she smiled, and then she turned those big brown eyes to me, and for a moment, I stopped.  Locked eyes with her, and she smiled, and then it seemed like time slowed down and her lips began to move, as though she was going to say something, 

and then, I don't remember what happened between that time and the time we got back to the house.  Weird.  

But maybe I'd just had a bit too much to drink.  But now, I've gotten all the stuff in from the cars, and everything is put away and I'm finishing up this email to you and then I'll have a few minutes of reading before bed, and tomorrow, I'll be at it again.

Still can't believe that I am a Butler in a Castle.  

Marj, Sis, please please PLEASE write back as soon as you can, let me know that you are still out there.


Love you!


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Overheard at Booth 3: Email from a Castle in the Scottish Highlands


My dear Marjorie,
Yer Vajesty
and all those other names I used to call you when we were kids!
My darling SISTER!  How the hell are you!
OK, I know it’s been a while.  A loooong while, and I have to confess that it’s been so long that I’ve lost your phone number.  Don’t even know how I remembered this email address but I hope you still check your email and that I remembered the address correctly (I’ll find out if it gets kicked back as “undeliverable”) – Also, I ditched my phone.  Weird story, I know, like “who does that?” but it was a small price to pay for this new gig I have as a butler in this most incredibly mind-blowingly beautiful castle! 


 It belongs to a Baron named Baron Necro Brandeis and his wife Lara.  Answered an ad on a site called, a guy named PJ hooked me up with them.  A short phone interview and their only request was that I ditch my cell phone and live IN the castle and I was on the next plane to Scotland!

I have to admit, it was a bit weird at first.  Castles are definitely colder than you’d imagine, even with tapestries on the walls.  And I still have to get the hang of the bells in each room.  There’s a series of ringers throughout the castle, and depending on which room you’re in, depends on what bells chime.   That lets me know what room I need to go to in order to see who needs what.

The Baroness is a hoot!  Sometimes I’ll hear the bell and go to whatever room she’s in and she’ll just be lying there on the floor in some skirt and boots – different kind of boots each time, like riding boots, thigh-high boots, go-go boots, and she’ll say things like, “Oh will you help me up, darling!  I seem have fallen.  But first, take a photo and post it to my IG”  (the family are the only ones who have phones).  I know she’s just teasing …

 … and don’t worry Marj!  I’m a lot different now and I don’t get in trouble like I used to!  I learned my lesson from a valet gig I had at the Triple M (Montreal Murderbilia Museum) (but that’s a story for another time!)  Like I said, at 50, I’ve slowed down a bit in that department.  You’d be proud of me!

But not the cook!  Gotta tell you about Essex.  That’s his nickname.  He’s had his name legally changed to Sex Slave, but we all just call him “Essex” for short.  What a guy!  The other night, I was hungry so I went downstairs to make a sandwich, and he comes out and says, “THE SANDWICH WILL TASTE EVEN BETTER WITH MY PENIS IN YOUR MOUTH!” and I’m like “Dude, I only want a sandwich”

… Essex always talks in this HUGE BOMBSTIC voice, it’s hilarious. But he made the BEST sandwich!  Tuna, with little pimentos and this stuff that looked like cilantro. 

Tonight at dinner, he started off the first course with soup, cream of potato, and the Baron commented on the flavor, and Essex says, “YOU ARE SAVOURING THE FLAVOUR OF MY SEMEN!” and without missing a beat, the Baron says, “I can tell that you’re staying hydrated and are eating a lot of lentils.”

The family, they have a daughter and a son, but I don’t see them much around the house.  As far as the other staff, there’s Vasiliya, who likes to dress up as a French maid (even though I think she’s Finnish), and there’s the chauffeur/boatman/groundskeeper named Fionn. 

I’d like to tell you more about them, but I need to go make a list of things to buy from the village.  The Baron has invited all to go down tomorrow for something called the Mad Carnival.  Don’t know exactly what it is (I didn’t get to see much of the village when I came through to take this job two weeks ago), so I don’t know if we will stand out or fit right in.

Like I said, the semi-electricity stuff is weird.  As I said, only the family has phones, but I’ve got a laptop in my room to conduct business, and while there IS electricity here, the lights come on when Lara, the Baroness, speaks aloud one of her poems.  Yes … when she speaks in poems, stuff HAPPENS!

Like I said, so much to tell you, but I really have to make this list:  Essex wants a boatload of stuff from town, stuff like leeks, capers, and even though I’ve heard the term before, I need to find out exactly what the hell are “Ben Wa Balls” (can’t wait to Google THAT!) 😊

OK, Sis, again, I sure hope this is your email address and I hope you write back soon and I hope that everything is OK and that you haven’t buried your fourth husband under a pile of molten rock!  (You know I’m only half-kidding, right?) 😊

Until you write me,
Your little brother,

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Defenestration for the Nation!

 Defenestration for the Nation!

Defenestration for the new nation
Release the population from their isolation

Defenestration for the transformation
Fresh configuration for civilization

Defenestration for the new nation
It’s a declaration of our liberation

Defenestration for democratization
Our reclamation of normalization

Heave ‘em out
Heave ‘em out
Heave ‘em out the window

Heave ‘em out
Heave ‘em out
Look at them go!

And we’ll watch them

flyyyyyyyy away
(and we’ll watch them)
flyyy, flyyy away

And we’ll watch them 
diiiiiieee today

then we’ll



Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Overheard at Booth 3: El Salvador or Out of Doors

She arched her neck to peer around him in the booth.

"What?" he said.

"That man just said, 'El Salvador'!"

"Uhh ... I think he really said, 'They're left out of doors.'"

"Oh," she said.  "Must be thinking about my country. Must be on my mind."

"Told you I found tickets for only $400 in January, we can go then if you want."

"You keep saying  you can't get off work."

"I'll make it work."

"You always say that but then you go and you just complain that you're not at work."

"If I do that next time, then just leave me out of doors."

Monday, October 10, 2022

Overheard at Booth 1: Medicine Train

Heard a song today and this Blues song came into my head.

It's about drug addiction.  It's not that subtle.  But then, while the Blues is metaphorical, it ain't subtle!


One thing I tell you mama 
tell you what we gotta do
One thing I tell you mama
tell you what we gotta do
We gotta get off this Medicine Train
This ain’t good for me or you.

Well this Medicine Train
it’s roaring on down the track
Well this Medicine Train
It’s racing on down the track.
We stay on this train, mama,
You know we ain’t never coming back

When we bought our ticket
Medicine train looked so fine
When we bought two tickets mama
Medicine train looked so fine.
But we getting sicker, mama,
the further we go down that line.

One thing I tell you mama 
tell you what we gotta do
One thing I tell you mama
tell you what we gotta do
We gotta get off this Medicine Train
It’s gonna kill both me and you.

Gotta get off this Medicine Train
Gonna kill me and it’s gonna kill you.



Sunday, October 9, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Little Drummer Boy

Ohmigawd at the ultrasound, this little guy would just not stop kicking!  And turning around and over - he's a dancer.  I mean, he's a SALSA dancer!  The nurse was saying, "Hold still, little guy, I need to get your heartbeat!" and he's just acting like his dad, like he's got his own drum kit in there and he's just drummin' away!

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Not Even Ireland ...

Lucky Moran: I kid you not, once upon a time, we'd go to hotel rooms and hump like bunnies.  Don't know why that, now in our fifties, we go on vacation - a getaway, just the two of us - and all she wants to do is sleep.

Otis Redwing: Maybe you wore her out.  Heh heh,

Lucky: I know when you're being sarcastic, dude.  I'm serious here, this is a serious situation!  She's all like, 'You need to romance me' ... and I'm like, 'Baby!  I took you to IRELAND!  Hotel right on the LAKE!  $500 a night!  and that's not romancing you?'

Otis: You're saying not even in a five-star?

Lucky: Not even in a five-star!  I was all like, 'I'm gonna go get showered' and she's like, 'Fine, but it won't do you any good.  I'm a QUEEN!  Tonight, I don't have to spread my legs for NOBODY if I don't want to and I don't want to!'

Otis: Oh man, I feel for you, I really do.

Lucky: Yeah, so she's asleep in 10 minutes, so I just chugged down everything in the mini-bar.

Otis: Turning a $500 a night into a $650 a night.

Lucky: You got that right.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Overheard at Booth 3: A Scene from This Year's Mad Carnival


Luis stepped around behind the white painted hot dog stand and found himself off the Midway, by the back wall of the pavilion.  Immediately, he was shocked by how dark and silent this place was.  Only two feet from the action and the hustlebustle, he crooked his neck and he could see the lights in the distance but it suddenly seemed miles away, not just a few footsteps.

A movement, a brushing of shadows, against the nearby wall drew his attention again.  "Anybody there?" he asked, even though he didn't know why he asked.

A form emerged from the shadow, and split at the top into two shadow forms, one shadow against the wall and the other turning to look at Luis to say, "Move along, kid, we're busy."

The other shadow giggled, "Why not let him watch?"

Luis saw then what he thought were two sets of eyes, from each of the forms, glow bright white, hot ... then turn red.  From somewhere far behind him, he heard the roaring screams of delight from the cars of the swift dip of the roller coaster.

The other shadow then leaned forward and sunk her fangs into the outstretched wrist. Blood sprayed in four directions in a spray and the shadow from opened his mouth to catch a few splatters of his own blood on his own tongue, which lapped at the air, forked and darting like a serpent.

Luis screamed.  He screamed like the roller coaster screams, rising and dipping and distant and present.  He turned and ran back toward the hot dog stand, the midway, the laughter and screams and the lights and other people's dreams.

The other shadow pressed the other again against the wall.  "Kids," he said.

"Gets 'em every time," she said.  Then she took his open-veined wrist and drew it to her hungry lips and they became one shadow again.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: Notes for This Year's Mad Carnival

Oct 4
#MadCarnival #MadVerse

Stop spinning.
Slow your breath.
Heart pound in your chest.
Take a moment
Reach out your hand
Touch the glass.
You've been here so long
with these
Tangible illusions of other you's.

Madhouse mirrors.

Which grotesque reflection
will escape to the Midway?
#MadCarnival #MadVerse #TheMidway

Incipient Dreams
spawned by
Moonlit Madness

foretell the approach
of demonic gladness -

that must be why
every eye
I spy
passing by

glows red
like blood, shed
from the living
Something's coming.

You're just being paranoid.

No, it's been tracking us since Detroit.


Maybe, but it feels different. Angry.



I always told you to choose your food wisely.  Noone that has a family.  How safe are we here at #MadCarnival?

Not very.
Oct 2
#MadVerse #MadCarnival

Lost in the midway
Headspin lights
Brights and tickets,
One shot one try!
Everyone's a winner!
Balloon darts never hit
And this stench of
Rancid hoydogcheese
and cottoncandy nightmares
and what's that screaming
from the Tilt-A-Whirl?

Step right up guys and dolls and falls of every spring summer and winter, you'll begin ter
see the light
just right, get tight
ly packed inside to
to see what Nature tries
to hide,
what you are about to see,
can't be un-seen but don't
scream, don't you
Oct 5
Midway at the #MadCarnival - a small booth sandwiched between the Petting Zoo and the Ring Toss.  Manned by a balding septuagenarian chewing on an old cigar, it's chock full of crates of old albums.  I pull one out trepidly, to find this cover of an old childhood nightmare:





Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: A Story of What Happens When We Tell Our Children They Can Be Anything They Want to Be

Lauren told her daughter, Madison, that she could be anything she wanted.

"Anything?" asked Madison.

"Yes," Lauren said.

"I want to be YOU!" said Madison.

SO, that is how Madison showed up one morning at Carruthers Tools and Dyes, an eight-year-old girl in slacks and blouse, marched into the back office and took her seat at the desk of the head of HR.

The VP of Finance asked her what she was doing and shouldn't her mom be with her.

"Nope!" Madison said, "She's at home in time-out because she wouldn't finish her breakfast this morning."

"But," the VP said, "why are you here?"

"I am the Vice President of Human Resources," said Madison proudly.  "I am Mommy!"

"Uhh, I think we'd better call your mommy."

"She told me about you. You're a meanie.  You're fired!"

"You can't fire me!"

"Pack your stuff and go, meanie weenie jelly beanie!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Overheard at Booth 4: Water for Corona

When my wife came down with COVID, I decided that I was gonna prevent it by staying hydrated.

What the ...

Yeah!  I said to myself I'm gonna drink so much water it'll be coming out of every pore!

Isn't that called "sweating"

You know what I mean.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Overheard at Table 4: Defenestrate Me

They walked into the hotel room, 5th floor, view of the city.  Eagerly, he began to strip: belt, shoes, shirt, pants.

As he turned, she was already in the leather suit, tight taut against all the curvaceous augmentations.   "Payment up front, Mr ... Smith" she purred.

He slapped the bills on the table.  He said, "OK, now, give it to me."

"Say it," she said.  "You have to say it, you nasty boy!"

"I wanna be defenestrated.  DEFENESTRATE ME!"

So she did.

On his way down, it suddenly crossed his mind that he really didn't know what that word meant.

Now he does.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Overheard at Table 2: COVID and the Water

Wife's got COVID but I keep testing negative.  I think it's the water.


Yeah, I keep drinking water.  So much water.  Keeps the system running.  I swear I'm just going to keep drinking water until it comes out of every pore!

Isn't that called "sweating"

You know what I mean.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Overread at Table 1: Today's Prompts


#EverydayErotica280 955 Broad

My wife still remembers age 16,
when her older sister
made fun of her broad shoulders.

"You look like a quarterback"

She's never worn a sleeveless dress since.

Ah! but those broad shoulders,
allow that tiny woman
to hold my body
so close
so tight.

#haikuhorrorprompt 434 Haunting

Amazing, really,
what a little haunting will do:
delicious madness.



#horrorprompt 866 Note

Grandpa forbade anyone to touch the piano.
Made in 1794, covered almost always by a thick blanket.

But, one day, he was in the garden, and I lifted the lid & snuck my hand to the keyboard, just one note, I thought, just one...

and in response

they came


Friday, September 30, 2022

Overheardt at Table 3: Going to Work Feelin' Bad Blues

Are you sure you want to go to work today?

I've got so much to do.

But you're still all coughy and sneezy and you really should take another day to rest and get to feeling better.

There's some projects that are getting critical and I really have to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Well ... I know I can't stop you from going, but just please, know that you can come home whenever you want to.

Well, jeezus, I'm just going to work, it's not like I'm leaving you or anything!

71,638 Two Coffee Mugs Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Overheard at Booth 4: Notes for "Mags"

[end of book one]

two shots.  one, then two.

a dog barks in the distance.

Mags slumps against the blue metal dumpster.

man stuffs the gun back into his belt and says, "fucking stupid slutwhore cunt" and turns to walk away.

"Hey, fucker!" Mags says, hand to her side, blood spilling from between her fingers, "I'm not stupid!"

MAGS! MAGS!  are you OK? 

"What an asshole," Mags says.

MAGS! Stay with me!

"ass ... hole" and suddenly it is very cold.

[that's where book one ends]

[book two]


I awake in a hospital room and the first thing I notice is that my right wrist is handcuffed to the bed, because I want to scratch my eye because it itches and suddenly I'm jerking this clanging metal against metal, so I scratch with my left hand because that one is still free.

Light is coming through the window and it's hella bright.  Can somebody shut the curtains or something? and I don't know for a second or two if I'm speaking that or just thinking that, but it seems like someone heard me because there is someone at my side now, can't really focus on the form but it has that feeling of a female body, the fleshly belly pressing close against me, there is a warmth to the female body, especially those who've had children recently, it's very, very comforting.

But this person isn't saying anything, aren't they supposed to ask me how I'm feeling or hold up fingers or something like that, but the voice I hear now is someone behind them, "Do you know your name?" it says, and yeah, it's a woman, but it's obvious that she hasn't had any kids ... or else she drowned them in some fucking river or something.

"What?" I say.  Gee. That's a brilliant comeback.

"Do you know your name?" it asks again, and then it, steps to the side of the comforting belly (which I will now say is the nurse) and holy shit, yeah, it's a cop.  Definitely a cop.

"Yes I know my name," I say.

"What is it?"

"Don't you already know?"

A man behind her says, "She might still be under."

"I'm not a hundred about that."  Then, to me again, "Please tell us your name."

"Charlotte," I say.  "Charlotte the harlot.  Like the Iron Maiden song."

Then, finally, someone draws a curtain ...


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Overheard at Booth 2: Serving in the Church

C: Why did you tell Becky we're back.

M: I didn't.

C: How did she know, then?

M: I don't know how she knows.  She's the pastor's wife, maybe she's got some sort of special Holy Spirit tracking device or something.

C: Don't give people dates of our trips.  We just got back and I just want to decompress and I need to clean my car and go get groceries this weekend and Kaci's just moved into her new apartment and she wants us to come see it and I need to get the stuff to continue renovating the kitchen and Becky's wanting me to help set up for the church's 5th anniversary.

M: Just tell her you can't.

C: I can't do that!  Don't you know how that'll LOOK?!  That's why I told you not to tell them when we were getting back from vacation.

M: Again ... I didn't tell them,

C: Well, if you'd just told them we'd be gone until October, I wouldn't have to be roped into this thing at church.


Later that morning, when M opened up the daily Bible devotional on his phone, the verse of the day:

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, 'Here am I; send me.'"  - Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah 6:8 Vinyl Decal - PatchOps

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Monday, September 26, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Head Banging

Used to smash my fist into the side of my head whenever I was under a lot of pressure, you know.  I realized years later that this kind of self-harm is a coping technique.  Yeah, an unhealthy one, I know.

Started in high school - or maybe earlier, who knows, but high school is where I remember it - being embarrassed or pissed off about something, I'd bash the back of my head against a brick wall until I saw stars.  Once, I slumped down to the floor.

Worst time was when my girlfriend was suing me for paternity.  On the payphone, with her telling me how she's gonna "get me for everything" I just started bashing the phone against my head until blood flowing down around my ear.  Went to the bathroom of my work and passed on on the floor.

But usually, throughout the years, I would just take my right and pound it against my right temple whenever I was angry, or hurt, or scared, or under a lot of pressure.  Usually it would be some argument where I just felt like shit and there was no way out and no resolution.  I always had this thing about automatically feeling guilty whenever anybody accused me of anything, even if I knew it wasn't true.  Weird, it's like just for someone to accuse me of something somehow makes it the truth.   Like, if my wife says she thinks I'm cheating, I suddenly feel like I AM cheating.  Stuff like that, arguments from stuff like that, would eventually get me to go into the bathroom and just bash my head with my fist.

It usually did cause some sort of relief.  Release.  There's probably a physiological explanation, I don't know, but it always helped release the stress.  Even though I somehow knew it wouldn't be good for me in the long term.

I haven't hit myself in years.  Over a decade.  Seems like getting older is softening the urge for bashing my own fist against my head.  But sometimes ... most of the time, the spot above and in front of my right ear, just behind and above my right eye, right where the hairline is, that spot hurts.  I will touch it with my fingertips and it will feel tender, just as though as if I had just hit it, at that moment.  But I haven't hit it in years.  But it's still tender.  No other part of my body feels like that.  

It's as thought THAT pain, even though broken, is somehow permanent, now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: Isaiah 6:8

 This is an obscenity.

US Army Soldier With Bible Verse of Isaiah 6:8. Digital - Etsy

Isaiah 6:8, in context, was God preparing Isaiah to go out and tell the people that they MUST TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS AND COME BACK TO THE LORD.

American soldiers are sent to kill people.

You can dress it up all you want: Stopping further aggression, halting evil, saving lives that otherwise would be killed, blah blah blah, fact is - they are sent to blow shit up and kill human beings, human beings that God loves.  Period.

To conflate human aggression for a human command, supported by human laws, with a mission from the Creator of All and Everything is blasphemy, pure and simple.

Let us not mince words: It is blasphemy.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: Hell is a Carnival

Of course people no longer fear Hell.

Hell has been presented as a carnival, a county fair, a penny arcade, a casino, a festival of lights and sounds and cotton candy and Ferris wheels and Tilt-a-Whirls.

Unfortunately for those who want it, Hell is the flip-side of that.  Hell is when the fair has all closed down and everyone else has gone home, and the lights have been turned out and you have been left on the Midway, lying face down in your own vomit and blood, soaked to the skin in the puddle streams of other people's piss and shit.

And there is no one there to hold your hand.  No one there, ever, to check on you.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Overheard at Booth 3: Grumpy People at the Grocery Store

Last night I had to run out and get coffee, because we realized we were out and knew there wouldn't be any coffee in the morning, so I'm at the grocery store at 9:30 at night, and something just hits me, 'this is great!' I thought, 'I'm out, walking freely, at night, in the dark, buying coffee.'

That's a real blessing!  So many people in the world, even in some places here in America, do not go out after dark.  There are streets where you just do not go.  And coffee is a commodity!  So many people can't afford coffee.  So many people can't just go out and buy what they want to whenever they want to.

And then I saw the faces of the people in the grocery store and I dunno but everyone just looks so GRUMPY.  They all looked miserable, having to be here, getting what they needed.  I wanted to tell them, 'Look people, there are not gangs or armies in the streets, no guards in shotguns in front of the doors, we are all out here AT NIGHT, buying what we want!'

I mean, even the scrawny hippy-lookin' 20-somethings who look like they don't have a penny between them, have a big bag of cat food slung over one arm and a case of Fanta in the other.

This IS freedom ... right there, at a grocery store at 9:30 at night.  And NOBODY seemed to recognize that.

Just ... I dunno.  Just seems like we should all be a bit more grateful.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: New Harvest Christian Fellowship

Awoke this morning to the KHCB airing Dr Ed Young from Second Baptist Church, as it does every Sunday, and, it being September 11, the Pastor was as usual making any person with the slightest link to public services, such as emergency services but particularly those of LAW AND ORDER, stand up and be recognized.  While I myself honor true service and recognize the sacrifice, such displays easily veer off into worship of the police force without ever considering their abuses of power, and I was glad that I no longer attend that megachurch.

We tried a new church in Pearland today: New Harvest Christian Fellowship.

Very friendly - most of the congregants knew that we were new, and about five or six of them took the time to welcome us without making us feel pressured, which is a very good way to have the congregation recognize newcomers.   The music was OK - the lead vocalist had a great voice: rich, powerful, one that could sing any genre of music.  Her keyboard skills were passable, as was the rest of the group.  Which is how I personally prefer music ministry: everyone having just enough talent to help the congregation prepare to receive the Message but none so talented that they outshine each other and thus risk absorbing people's attention on their particular musicianship rather than worshiping God.

The sermon was very logically laid out, with good quotes primarily from the New Testament.

Sermon title "Who's Your Daddy?"

It started off with an assertion that before 1840, the government supplied all people's needs (which is not in any way true) but that was the only factual error I could perceive in the sermon.  This comment did, of course, go hand-in-hand with the American church's anti-government stance.

The Pastor also mentioned rising crime.  That came close to fear-mongering.

However, these were to lay the groundwork for the main point, which is that there is nothing to be trusted in this world, as all these realities are the cause of Satan's work in a fallen world for the sole purpose of keeping believers from resting in full security in Jesus Christ.

Relevant passages quoted are as follows:

1 John 2:15-17

Psalm 27

2 Corinthians 4:4 - the god of this world has blinded society

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Hebrew word PATEI means to deceive, entice, persuade, allure

... and here he mentioned the quote that grates on my ear, "If My people who are called by My Name ..."

and the pastor again stated that drugs, alcohol, abortions, alternate lifestyles, etc - are all "out of control"  ... this argument puts forth a Strawman Fallacy that there was somehow a "more peaceful and Religious past" that, if we all just worship Jesus, will be reclaimed again.  

Yes, it is true that, if everyone were a true Follower of Christ, there would be no war.  This is because each human being would always provide for every other human being, and then everyone would be provided for.  Sadly, though, in the American church, the argument is: if everyone lived like the old 1950s TV fantasy show "Father Knows Best" then everyone would know their place in society and stop making Christians (i.e. White Americans) feel uncomfortable.

Other passages: John 17:15-17 - Jesus' prayer for His followers is not that they should be taken to Heaven too soon, but that they should be left on Earth, albeit equipped to do the work of the Father.

Romans 12:2 - do not conform to this world

Galatians 1:2-5

James 4:4

2 Corinthians 5:17

1 John 2:15-17 (the pastor opened with this, and closed with this)

The Pastor had a very good analogy of a submarine, which is able to withstand the pressures of the deep because it has corresponding, offsetting pressure inside.  The equalization of internal and external pressure allows the hull to remain intact.   The World, like the Ocean, will try to pull the believer down into the depths, increasing the pressure to conform.  If the believer will read the Bible, they will have corresponding pressure (i.e. strength) to withstand the external pressures of the world.

This is sound doctrine and supported by Biblical principals. However, again, it begs the question of the Believer's interaction with the world.  If we truly believe that we have salvation and have access to the Creator of All Things, then why are we still listening to sermons that make us sound like we are wringing our hands and saying, "Oh why oh why does the world not let us worship Christ?"

If we truly believe what we say we believe, we would worship Christ openly EVEN IF to say His name would get us shot in the throat.   Ergo, the question is not that the world is making us conform, but that we are so weak in the faith that we are allowing ourselves to be conformed.

Such sermons (and current belief threads in the American Church) are overly focused on "the big bad world is so mean" and not forcing believers to look deep within themselves and confront the intrinsic weakness of their faith.














Saturday, September 10, 2022

Overheard at Booth 3: Life and the Stifles

"Is life not a hundred times too short to stifle ourselves?" - Friedrich Nietzsche

Billy: What's he mean by that?

Joe: Life's too short to drink bad wine?

Jim: My grandmother had that as a fridge magnet.

Bob: Classy grandma.

Billy: So basically it's, "Life's short: go for the gusto."

Joe: Get all you can!

Jim: Comer menos, coger más!

Bob: Sure it's been used to be an encouragement for self-fulfillment, but what about those who use it as an excuse to run over others?

Billy: Stifle others to unbridle ourselves?

Joe: As in Corporate CEOs?

Jim: Sure.  But anybody, I guess.

Bob: Maybe if we just stick to the positive and not dwell on the negative.

Billy: Yeah, Life's too short.

Joe: A hundred times.

Jim: And stifling.



Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, September 9, 2022

Overheard at Booth 1: The Chest

The Chest

I was only about eight or nine years old when my mother disappeared.  I remember the day was full of rain, but the sea was strangely calm, as though somehow, finally, satisfied.

My mother, my father, and I lived in a small house atop a high cliff wall, in the front of which was a small clearing leading to deep woods through which my father would leave each day to go down to the village to work as a fisherman.  Each day he would arrive home and my mother and I would greet him at the door.

On this day, only I was there to greet him at the door.  I remember he said nothing to me, merely pushed past and went immediately into their bedroom.  When he emerged a moment later, he left through the back of the house and spent the rest of the evening on the cliff, staring at the sea.

I had already seen what he had found.  The chest had been opened.  The chest, a large, heavy wooden chest, so thick that several men would be needed to lift it, had always been stationed at the foot of my parents' bed, like an altar.  That chest, until this day, had always been closed, locked with a heavy iron lock.

Today, the lock was on the floor, the lid of the chest was flung open, and the inside was empty, except for a faint, lingering smell of the sea.

I don't know if my father had known that, for as long as I could remember, my mother had been trying to open that chest.  Many was the day when I would return home from school, or come in from playing in the clearing or the woods, to find her kneeling before that chest, attempting to open the iron lock with a hair pin, or her own fingernails.

At times she would look at me with an impish smile, a smile that made the golden flecks of her green eyes sparkle slightly in the dim light of the afternoon.   Often, though, she would merely wear a face of sad resignation.  Occasionally, when the sea seemed particularly wild on a given day, she would herself seem angry, almost to the point of fury.

On such days, I would go back out to the woods to play.

Usually though, she would make us some mulberry tea, which she would sweeten with honey.  I do not recall if she ever said it in words, but somehow I knew that the honey in the mulberry tea was a secret just for the two of us, just like my seeing her trying the lock was a secret that remained between my mother and myself.

On this particular day, long before my father had come home, I had come in from the woods to find the faint impression of odd shaped footprints upon the floor, from my parents' room to the back of the house.  When I peered into the room, that was when I had seen the lid open, and strange hairs scattered in odd places along the floor.  

I had followed the footprints to the back of the house, where, at the edge of the cliff, I had seen a creature, a creature that looked so very much like a seal, standing and gazing down at the sea.

The creature had sensed my approach, and I remember the head slowly turning, and looking at me with large green eyes.  Eyes that sparkled with flecks of gold.

Then, it dove from the cliff and by the time I got to the edge, I looked down but could not find any trace of the creature in the sea far below.

Neither could my father, who stood on that spot, in the rain, until the night grew dark and cold, until finally, he returned to the house.

And even though it was near midnight, he began to make some mulberry tea, for both himself and me.

He even mixed some honey into the tea, but I knew before taking the first sip, that it would never again taste as sweet as hers.


[NOTE: this story is based on the Irish legend of the Silkie, a seal-like creature who turns into a beautiful woman when on land.  Legend has it that men who take Silkies for wives often hide and lock away their seal skins, preventing them from returning to the sea.

[I have always wondered what it would be like for such a creature to have children, human children, and what would it be like for a creature to want to return to its natural existence.  How powerful is the call of our original natures, anyway?  Is it stronger than the call of motherhood?]

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Overheard at Table 1: The Queen is Dead

The Queen of England died today.  And of course, there will be two songs that everyone will be playing (and rightly so!) and so I shall play them here as well, but there is also one other that is not as well known that also should be played.  They are, as follows:

The Smiths - The Queen is Dead

The Queen Is Dead - Wikipedia

Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen

God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols song) - Wikipedia

Robyn Hitchcock - The Veins of the Queen

Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians – Veins of the Queen Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Overheard at Table 3: Co-Ed Dorms

Woke up to hearing Pastor Erwin Lutzer talking about how bad it is "these days" that co-ed dorms led some girl to sin.  He was saying she was a Christian and he said he was a Christian and he was pressuring her to have sex and she says they prayed and then they committed fornication. 

Sounds like most college days.

Absolutely!  Look, I know it's a sin, and I know what the Lord intended, and what's ultimately best, but what really galls me is these pastors acting like this is something new.

Co-ed dorms ain't new.

The sermon was probably from the 80s.  Don't know.  But regardless, he mentioned how "these days" there is so much immorality.  Look, I read once that in the 1700s in the Colonies, most first born babies were born 6 months after the wedding.  

Gee, didn't know pregnancies were so quick then.

That's because the girl had missed her period and THEN they got married!

I know.  I was KIDDING.

Oh, sorry.  Just get so worked up.

Well, you shouldn't.  I mean, it's just the birds and the bees.  That's how we all got here.

Just bugs me when pastors act like fornication is just something that "oh my GAWD what has the world become, we all used to be SO PURE and angelic in the mythical 50s!"