But Can You Fish Them Weedless?

There was a time when rather than leading the hermit-like existence that I strive to enjoy today, I wanted intimacy and companionship (“Lord, what fools these mortals be.”) And part of that drive towards intimacy and companionship was the desire to experiment sexually within the boundaries of an intimate relationship. Since I am by nature a very curious individual, I am always looking to engage my intellect. This intellectual curiosity of mine found sex toys fascinating: not so much in a sexual way, but more in the same way that I find fishing lures and plastic model kits fascinating.
purple wormI see all the pretty boxes, and shiny, vibrating colorful things that are designed to entice one to buy. What can I say? It’s the Irish gyppo blood in me ‒ the magpie gene. And the parallel between sex toys and fishing lures is quite apropos since a lot of the sex toys on view look like, and probably smell like, some of the bass lures I’ve seen, and often purchased through the years. In fact, I wonder if anyone has ever landed a 10lb bass on a vibrating, shiny purple, grape scented soft dildo with a pair of treble hooks attached: a new form of buzz bomb, perhaps.

At that time, I was a complete rube when it came to sex toys. Up until then I had never owned one. In fact, I had never even touched one. I had been, very briefly, into a sex toy shop and as most who read my blog would know was completely overwhelmed into a Hugh Grantish stammering manner. Therefore, the answer had to be where all answers seem to be: on-line. I just set the fingers to do the walking through the disinfonet and surveyed the results. And, I imagine, just like fishing lures, 99.99999999999% of the toys are designed to capture the buyers fancy and funds rather than just capture the moment.

cap gunThe on-line site I went onto divided men’s toys into 5 classes: cock rings, pumps, plugs, realistic vaginas, and blow-up dolls. Since I was still in self-exploration mode, I figured that I could discount penis extensions and cock rings. (I did sneak a peek at the cock rings and decided that I could put most of them in the same class as plastic worms for bass fishing.) Some of the cock rings even looked like the little red pellet caps that went into my genuine Wild West sheriff’s revolver that I got with my cowboy set when I was seven years old. (The site had arse-less chaps too.)

Then I noticed that dildos and vibrators were deemed as women’s sex toys, and not listed with the items listed above; which is understandable.  So I took a long hard look at penis pumps. What I was looking at looked suspiciously like my electric cookie shooter with the motor reversed. I found myself looking for the little cookie shapers to fit on the end to make valentine sugar cookies for all of the ladies out there. Another pump that I looked at would have worked very well for cleaning out the gravel in my fish tanks. And of course there is the Austin Powers Genuine Swedish Penis Pump connotation that they now have to live down. So, I decided that something more was needed.

plant number 7I went to the “realistic” vaginas section and perused the assortment of high quality Hong Kong, and Shanghai, made merchandise that looked nothing like any real vagina I had ever seen. Of course I have never had sex with a plastic mannequin (however I suppose the ex-wife (sex on Saturdays only, if you please) qualifies).  Products from The Glorious People’s Heroes of the Revolution Plastic Pussy Plant #7 such as The Sally the Slut, Candylicious and Luscious Lips all sounded interesting if I was buying ice cream, with sprinkles of course, but hardly satisfying. And then there was the Cherry Twat.

Now I suppose that would be really satisfying if it was a pastry rather than a sex toy. “Yes waiter, I would like a double latte and one of those rather plump and tasty looking cherry twats over there, please”. To be honest, I think a set of chattering teeth from a joke shop could probably do as good a job as what I was looking at. The chattering teeth would definitely provide better oral stimulation than the ex-missus managed.

blow up dollAll that was left to peruse were the blow up dolls. Now these looked like fun. These looked like real fun. But they really did not look like sexy fun. What would be fun would be to take one of these up to the tubing area at Ski Bowl on Mt. Hood. You could grasp a titty in each hand and mount the doll much like a Suzuki 750 and ride the powder all the way down the slope. I would recommend a helmet ‒ no point in going all Sonny Bono while doing this.

I checked out several other sites to no avail. Everything was packaged very nicely and always featured words like “realistic’, “genuine” and “like real”. If anything, the packages would provide better masturbatory material than the product itself. Overall, I would have to say that toy shopping was a big disappointment. Much like when I go fishing, I think I am going to have to stay with live bait.

live bait

Vinyl, Cassettes & CDs: But No 8 Tracks (Yet)

Once again, I have been listening to a lot of music lately: especially in album form rather than a mish-mash of individual songs. Some music is just meant to be experienced that way.

 

abbey road

The Beatles – Abbey Road

This is worth listening to just for the medley of songs on “side 2” (yes folks, us olde time type folks used to have turn the album over to play half of the music) and has some great Beatles songs like “Golden Slumbers”, “Polythene Pam” and “The End”. Side 2 also featured George Harrison’s beautiful “Here Comes The Sun” as the first track.

Not to be outdone, Side 1 closes with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” with its multiple sections using different time structures and even featuring a bossanova style guitar riff. Featuring Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden” and McCartney’s “Oh Darling” as well, the album really hinted at where the four musicians were going musically in the time now known as “Post Beatles”.

 

blind faith

Blind Faith – Blind Faith

My parents were at the famed 1969 free concert in Hyde Park since my dad was a huge fan of Ginger Baker and he was the drummer for Blind Faith. Toss in Steve Winwood (seemingly just after he hit puberty) and Eric Clapton when he was at his creative peak and this was the greatest one shot band of all time. “Presence of the Lord” and “Can’t Find My Way Home” are classic FM radio staples for the simple reason that they are great pieces of music.

 

mer de noms

A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms

First of all, let me say that I am in the clique that thinks that Maynard is a genius, throw in the fact that I love Paz Lenchantin and Billy Howerdel and it is a given that I would love this. As much as I love Tool (again go back to Maynard is a genius) and Puscifer (ditto) I love A Perfect Circle just a little more due the accessibility of the band and its music.

“Judith” is a piece of guitar heaven with its soaring slide work and staccato vocals laid over a percussive bass line. It is brilliant stuff.

 

the wall

Pink Floyd – The Wall

I have been hearing this a lot on KGON lately and I have also been listening to the album a lot at home. It is just a brilliant trip through the mind of Roger Waters. It also has some of the most brilliantly conceived (and megalomaniacal) music ever laid down on tape. Although this is Roger Waters’ masterpiece, his estrangement of the rest of the band led, I believe, to David Gilmour playing the best guitar of his career as he worked to steal the album from under the nose of Roger Waters: creative tension indeed.

To this day “Run Like Hell” is the most awe-inspiring, and frightening, live song I have ever seen performed as Roger Waters got the entire crowd to march in place and perform the crossed fore-arm / clenched fist fascistic salute that was in the movie… This has to be listened to from start to finish to get the complete impact of what is going on in this album.

 

bridge

Simon And Garfunkle – Bridge Over Troubled Water

The title track was to my youth what “Wind Beneath My Wings” is to my daughters’ youth: a cringe worthy staple for any sad event that needed to be celebrated at a school assembly. I believe that the version played by the school recorder band was the worst cover I ever heard, but there were others, I was so traumatized by this that it was years before I went back and listed to the album and now I listen to it all of the time: even the title track.

 

turn blue

The Black Keys – Turn Blue

This is one of the few real gems that has been released in 2014 (a year to henceforth be known as the year without music). It took me a week to go beyond listening to just the opening track, “Weight Of Love”, as I was so starved of musical nutrition). This is an album of good garage band psychedelic music that would not be on this list if there had been better output from other bands and artists this year.

 

quadrophenia

The Who – Quadrophenia

I have stated before that “Love Reign O’er Me” is one of the greatest rock songs of all time. But Quadrophenia also has amazing pieces of music like “5:15” with its swinging brass section and “The Real Me”. But really, like The Wall, it has to be listened to from start to finish to appreciate what Pete Townshend really accomplished. To understand the what and the why of Pete Townsend’s creation is probably beyond the ken of us mere mortals.

 

outlandos

The Police – Outlandos D’Amour

In the late ‘70s, my granddad used to send me “care packages” when I first came to America of “Shoot” magazine and whatever singles were at the top of the British charts. One of the first 45s that I got was from some new band called the Police and it was “Can’t Stand Losing You”. I was hooked the moment I heard it and it really changed how I viewed and played the guitar.

And of course, this is the album with “Roxanne” on it. Bass, drums and a guitar never worked so well together as when the three virtuoso who hated each other played together. This album was released a year before The Wall was released by Pink Floyd: such amazingly diverse music from an indifferent time.

 

parachutes

Coldplay – Parachutes

I have been listening to this just because I have been so underwhelmed by Coldplay’s latest offerings. It seems strange to now reflect on just how much I love this album as well as A Rush Of Blood To The Head and X & Y. Once upon a time they were a great band. Then it all went wrong when they became pop stars.

“Yellow” has always been a staple of their live set list and is a great song highlighting what the band could do. But it was the first three tracks on the album that really turned me on to Coldplay and “Spies” is one of my absolute favourite songs of all time.

 

fair warning

Van Halen – Fair Warning

For some reason this album got stuck into regular rotation the other weekend at KGON and I was in the truck listening to such Van Halen classics as “Mean Street”, “Unchained” and “So This Is Love?” Combine the rampant ego of David Lee Roth and the over the top guitar work of Eddie and you get this.

The back story on the album is that this was the beginning of the end for Van Halen with DLR as he wanted to go more pop and Eddie wanted to go heavier – Eddie won on Fair Warning.

Big-Arse Dinosaur Alert

“Diane, we have breaking news ….. It seems the employees of a creationist dinosaur park in Cabazon, California are holding off the authorities in an armed stand-off. As you can see from Chopper One, there are snipers situated in the head of the T-Rex that are preventing the FBI and ATF from breaching.”

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While not a reality as of yet, let me assure you that, oh yes, this could one day come to pass. And after what I saw and sensed at the time, that day may not be that far off. Any similarities in this situation to the Branch Davidian assault in Waco are purely intentional.

Recently I came across some photographs of my trip to the Cabazon Dinosaur Park and it brought back memories of my adventures there. But before we get too carried away here, let me take you back to shortly before my entire belief system, you know the one that I have, the one that says “hey, it’s all good” came under a heavy barrage of 155mm “what the fuck” shells. My mum is heavily involved in this adventure from several years ago and is the one who originally said “ooh, it would be ever so nice to and visit the dinosaur park”. Many things begin with an “ever so” in her world – how they end up is usually rather interesting.

bronto2

Anyhoo … I was visiting and after doing all kinds of work in the garden (yard would be an inadequate name for what my mum has) and also working on the house, it was decided to give mummy’s little soldier a treat. Now I would have been most happy with an ice cream or a happy meal, but nothing but the best for Mrs. F’s number one son. And since Sunny Jim was already planning to go and shop for some new clothes at the Ralph Lauren outlet store just down the street, she thought that going to the Dinosaur “Museum” just down the road from the outlet mall would be suitable recompense for all of my efforts this week.

So after my buying assorted and sundry Polo items that were either blue with white stripes, or white with blue stripes, off to the Dinosaur Park we went. I was giddy with anticipation. And after several misadventures at a roundabout (you would think that an English driver could do better) and noting that, contrary to my aunts assertion, my mother could not handle freeway driving anymore (she seemed to be doing just fine at 85mph) we pulled into the parking lot.

bronto

I was immediately confronted by a giant brontosaurus that seemed to be about the same size as the one that Fred Flintstone used to pilot for Mr. Slate: yabba dabba doo. This concrete behemoth was the only thing besides my mother’s car in the parking lot. Immediately I was thinking that maybe this was the Jurassic equivalent of “The World’s Largest Ball Of String”: currently residing in Branson, Missouri; Darwin, Minnesota; Cawker City, Kansas; Valleyview, Texas; (oh, but it was so much more than that …)

The brontosaurus doubled as a gift shop but when we went inside, everything was locked up and nobody was manning the fort; so to speak. We wandered (it was well over 90 degrees already) around in search of the ticket office. All the while we were searching, there was an equally behemoth (and I mean truly fuckin’ hoooooooooooooge) tyrannosaurus rex staring over the fence. (An interesting placement and interpretation of the beastie,” I remember thinking at the time.)

trex

After trudging past all of the empty parking spaces we came to a rather ramshackle ramp that had a, to be polite, rather bogus looking display next to it. “Oooh look, dinosaurs,” said the Duchess, “this is going to be good.” Immediately the camera came out and pictures were taken from angles that only Fellini or Polanski could appreciate. At the top of the ramp was an equally ramshackle hut with an open window. It looked like the tea shack at Vicarage Road football ground where Watford plays: arguably the worst stadium ever to grace the Premier League in England.

Above the window was a hand-made sign reading “TiCKets” written in multi-colored Sharpie. Ignoring the immediate impulse to order a “pie ‘n’ a bevy” I settled for two tickets to enter and view the “attractions”. The price of admission was $5. We chose to just say “no” to the options of “digging for fossils” in the sand box or panning for treasure. Both of us thought that digging in the world’s largest litter box would be more likely to yield “kitty roca” rather than a trilobite.

entrance

So, lighter by $10 since I paid for my mum’s ticket as well, we entered the little shack. Immediately I noticed that things were not as they seem. Taking up half of the shack was a dinosaur display with an itty-bitty, teensy-weensy, historical misnomer. There was a Crusader in the display with the dinosaurs. Now, I haven’t had a history class in several decades, but I do remember that the Crusades were fought in Palestine ‒ not Jurassic Park. But since there were only two teenagers working inside the shack, I just decided to let it go and keep looking around. Sometimes, though, you just have to cut your losses. And sometimes, your mother just wanders around looking at stuff going “Oooh, that’s ever so nice.” So rather than bursting her bubble, and by now it was become awfully sodding difficult, I just stifled my urge to start laughing out loud and kept on looking around.

And even though I was staying at my mum’s rather than a Holiday Inn Express, my spidey senses were on full alert and the huge sign saying “Don’t swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution” was also a clue that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Meanwhile, mum was busy looking at all the little dinosaur models and not noticing that each little plastic figure had an equally little label reading “Don’t swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution.”

cabazon

By now, I was beginning to sweat (from trying to contain the sarcasm) and starting to glance around with a vague unease: that sense of being out of balance. I was also noticing that there were a lot of security cameras and signs pertaining to the cameras. Everywhere I looked, there were signs pertaining to Genesis having all of the answers: hey, Peter Gabriel was a pretty righteous dude, but I don’t really see him as the new Messiah. The Duchess had managed to touch and eyeball everything in the wooden shack by this time and so we ventured back out to the heat to see what other revisionist wonders were to be found.

I was not disappointed as I was able to find my very good friend, Sir Crusades-a-lot, busy fighting off a herd of velociraptors. Next to the diorama was a signboard alluding to the fact that dragons of yore were actually dinosaurs with a Jones for virgins chained to rocks (I added the virgins bit). At this point, my mum was beginning to smell a rat. We wandered over to the next display which featured a triceratops. The triceratops is a cool dinosaur. In fact, it is one of the coolest dinosaurs with its three horns. And in the display with the very cool triceratops was an equally cool lion and, I suppose, a lamb that was being as cool as a lamb can be.

crusader

These three cool animals were all lying down together that, rather than giving off an aura of cool cubed, totally evaporated into a miasma of mixed metaphors which left me slack jawed and drooling just a little. I believe that this was actually the desired effect. Next to the display was another sign board telling how the dinosaurs were also taken on board the ark and looked after by Noah, his missus, and all the little Noahlings. The reason that we have the vast Diaspora of fossils was that flood scattered the remains of all dinosaurs that did not go up the ramp two-by-two. After all, dinosaurs were created on the sixth day along with the lions and the lambs and humans.

There was a moment of epiphany for my mum at that point. “Oooh, I think that there is something funny going on here!” my mother (under)stated, “is this one of those compound things that you see on the news?” My answer was a simple and terse “yep”. And then we wandered down to check out the giant, massive, huge tyrannosaurus that overlooked the property. This was a massive concrete structure that overlooked the surrounding area: and the whole time we are approaching it I am thinking that a 50 cal machine gun would dominate all avenues of approach if mounted at the opening in the head of the dinosaur. Everything was giving off a Jim Jones vibe.

sniper

And the vibe carried over to the displays inside the t-rex. Everything had a National Enquirer / The Sun feel to it as it screamed “Darwin was a wanker” in the most hyperbolic ways possible. (And the other signs read “smile, you are on camera”.) My mum was ready to leave at this point. And we were still the only people, other than Muffy and Buffy, the Kool-Aid swigging teenagers that were “on duty”, so to speak. We wandered back up the hill, and my mum took some more photographs of the various and sundry displays. On our way back down through the nearly deserted parking lot, we ran into another group of intrepid tourists in search of the front door. (Remember that when designing a good location to defend, a difficult approach to the front gate is very, very important.) When the lady asked my mum if it was any good, my mother looked her in the eye and stated “it was very interesting.”

I did not dare make eye contact with her until we were out of earshot because I was going to really start laughing, and so was she, if I looked at her. Once the other rubes were gone, my mum looked at me and said “well, I never …. “ and then she did what she should have done earlier and took me to Burger King and bought me a cheeseburger and an ice cream.

“War Is Delightful To Those Who Have Not Experienced It.”

Erasmus of Rotterdam
15th/16th century Dutch humanist and theologian

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The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corpse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O’er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam’s misty light
And the lanthorn dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollow’d his narrow bed
And smooth’d down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o’er his head,
And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they’ll talk of the spirit that’s gone,
And o’er his cold ashes upbraid him–
But little he’ll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
The foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But we left him alone with his glory.

Charles Wolfe (Peninsular War)

Sir John Moore
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Every year here, Banned Book Week is “celebrated” at my library and to commemorate this event, I usually read one of my favourite novels of all time, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. This is a novel, released just as World War II was beginning, that tells the story of a World War I soldier physically destroyed by an artillery shell but left with a complete mind. It was sensationally, and brilliantly, recreated by Metallica as their song “One” and used footage from the 1971 movie in the video.

Dalton Trumbo was, most famously, one of the “Hollywood Ten”, blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee of Senator McCarthy. But this was not necessarily the reason that the book has been banned all over the country. It is more of a case that this novel deals with the reality of war as seen by combatants: stark and without heroism. And the plight of John Bonham (not the Led Zeppelin drummer) is suddenly very relevant given the current state of modern battlefield trauma care resulting in the survival of horrifically wounded combatants who would previously died on the field of battle.

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Drummer Hodge

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined – just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around;
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the Drummer never knew –
Fresh from his Wessex home –
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge forever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellation reign
His stars eternally.

Thomas Hardy (Boer War)

Boer War

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If there is anything that was promised by Barack Obama, it was the end of the Iraq war and then the end of the war in Afghanistan: something that that has just about come to pass. From personal observation, family observations and recollections, historical study, and even economic study, it is pretty obvious that all one war does is set the table for the next war.

There have been family members fighting in the Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer, Spanish-American, WWI and WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Falklands, Northern Ireland, Iraq I and II, and the Afghanistan war. This does not even begin to include “police actions” in places like Aden, Kenya, Panama and Somalia.

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Anthem For The Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
– Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
– The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen (World War I – “The Great War”

somme

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Hell, there was a Neuville who landed with William the Conqueror and fought against the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. And in all probability, given the rather cantankerous nature of the Scottish (or at that time Pictish) side of the family, there were ancestors stripping naked and painting themselves blue in order to terrify Fred the Roman and convince him to fuck off back over Hadrian’s Wall into the known world.

I come from a family that is much entwined in the military of both the US and the UK. My sister has even been decorated for bravery for actions in Iraq as has her USMC husband. My grandfathers were both awarded medals for conspicuous gallantry in World War II. My great-grandfather won medals at the Somme and the Marne. I consider myself to be pro-military but anti-war. The next generation is already in the navy and looking to go get some.

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Suicide In The Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon (World War I – “The War To End All Wars”)

marne

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I have no doubt that if I had stayed in the UK, I would have ignored the wishes of my mother to go to London School of Economics in order to become a Capitalist Pig and would have enlisted in the army: probably the paras, since there is a lot of family history there. And if possible, I would have gone into 7 SAS as well. This is another regiment with family members defending the crown, doing great deeds (and some rather dark deeds too ‒ it is the SAS after all) and bleeding for Queen and Country. I would have fought in the Falklands alongside several other boys who I went to high school with.

But talking to the people who have been there, and done that, so to speak, there is nothing heroic about war other than surviving it intact in mind, body and spirit. And from listening to my great granddad, granddads, godfather, brother-in-law, sister, best friend, etc. nobody can return with all three intact.
Something has to be sacrificed. Something is sacrificed.

There is no greater good in a war: even stopping someone like Hitler. Genocide can happen anywhere, at anytime, and using military force is just like stepping on a balloon. It disappears from one place and emerges somewhere else. Humans, en masse, lack humanity.

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How To Kill

Under the parabola of a ball,
a child turning into a man,
I looked into the air too long.
The ball fell in my hand, it sang
in the closed fist: Open Open
Behold a gift designed to kill.

Now in my dial of glass appears
the soldier who is going to die.
He smiles, and moves about in ways
his mother knows, habits of his.
The wires touch his face: I cry
NOW. Death, like a familiar, hears

and look, has made a man of dust
of a man of flesh. This sorcery
I do. Being damned, I am amused
to see the centre of love diffused
and the wave of love travel into vacancy.
How easy it is to make a ghost.

The weightless mosquito touches
her tiny shadow on the stone,
and with how like, how infinite
a lightness, man and shadow meet.
They fuse. A shadow is a man
when the mosquito death approaches.

Keith Douglas (World War II ‒ the war after “The War To End All Wars”

dday

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Wars create martyrs, who create myths, which lead to further wars. Events in Iraq will linger for fifty to one hundred years: minimum. A castrated Iraq has led to an invigorated Iran. An invigorated Iran is leading to an even more paranoid Israel. A paranoid Israel is even more intolerant of the nations around it. The nations around Israel are seeing themselves as threatened. Iran is using that threat to galvanize an Islamic awakening. An Islamic awakening makes Israel even more paranoid ……..

And in the middle of this seething cauldron of paranoia, hatred and religious intolerance are the US and British forces. The best place for them to be is anywhere but in middle of a religious, nationalist and tribal whirlpool. This is an area that was racked with wars when Genesis was being recorded (not the eponymous album, but the first book of the Old Testament) on clay tablets. Nothing much has changed in the intervening millennia.

And probably, several millennia into the future (should humans survive so long), there will still be wars fought in that area. It is the cradle of civilization. Civilization equates to governments. Governments raise armies to protect themselves. Armies need to be “entertained” so that, like a fighting pit bull, they do not turn on their handlers (think Rome’s Praetorian Guard). This has been a pattern since Assyria ruled the world…..

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No Heroes

There were no heroes here
Amongst the men who tramped through
Rutted, quaking moor,
Or crawled, cat-silent,
Over skittering scree
To prove the way.

No heroes fought the blazing fires
Which sucked the very blood from
Ship and man alike.
Or braved knife cold
Without a thought
To save a life.

No heroes they, but ones who loved
Sweet life and children’s laugh,
And dreamt of home
When war allowed.
They were but men.

David Morgan (Falkland Islands)

port stanley

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Throughout the years, war has been glamorized. It was glamorized by many of its biggest detractors as a self-protective device. The soldiers who fought the battles told the stories in a self-deprecating and self-effacing manner in order to obscure what the sights, and sounds, and smells of war did to them. And in doing so, they have perpetuated the myths that “there is a certain nobility in war”. But authors like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon stood up and gave the soldiers another voice: and theirs is a voice that needs to be heard and heeded.

The same great-grandfather who told amazing tales of charging across no-man’s land also cried himself to sleep for the next fifty years. My grandfather who survived Dunquerque and Sicily and Normandy died at a relatively young age from the way that training troops to go and die ravaged his psyche. My brother-in-law has spent three tours in Iraq and has PTSD and even my sister is not sure of quite what he has seen and done. My godfather walks around armed to the teeth in England (legally) because he has so many bounties on his head as a result of the things (very bad things) he did in Northern Ireland for the SAS.

There is no glory in these things. There is honor in upholding an oath to defend and protect either the Constitution or the Crown. But that honor should not be taken advantage of by a self-serving government.

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Kill Me A Son

God looked down and said
Kill me a son
But when one son was dead
The killing wasn’t done

The killing went on
And more sons came
Some said it was wrong
But more were still slain

Why did we make war?
To that place in the East
WMDs for sure
The devil’s had his feast

Gregory Robert Samuels (Iraq)

iraq

All Done Up Like The Dog’s Dinner

You know you’re getting old and stodgy when your daughter’s dog looks better in his Sunday best than you do in yours ….

Roland2

Of course it could be worse – we could be mistaken for each other.  As long as, I don’t develope jowls like those I should be alright.

Go West Young Man

As surprising and as fulfilling and as terrifying and as wonderful as my life has been, I always take time out to remember landing in America.  It was 36 years ago today that I came through immigration at Sea-Tac.  The rest, as they say, is history.

LMF

Feival

“We’re All Goin’ On A Summer Holiday”

“No more workin’ for a week or two

Fun and laughter on a summer holiday

No more worries for me or you

For a week or two”

(From the imagination of the most brilliant band of all time:  Cliff Richard and the Shadows)

Much like mes amies, les Francais, I, your Beloved, and Revered, Leader, decided to reward myself with the month of August off on vacation.  This was to be spent in joyous celebration of my pending 50th birthday (perhaps your Beloved, and Revered, Leader will be granted a stamp commemorating this momentous event too) and also just because it sounded like one fine fuckin’ idea.

So knackered out from a lifetime of working for The Man, since even I, your Beloved, and Revered, Leader, answer to someone, I packed up for a summer vacation of travelling incognito rather than as a part of a royal progress through the kingdom.  In other words I travelled on my own dime, on my own time. First off was a trip to visit the dowager Mrs. Beloved, and Revered, Leader, aka “mum”, in Palm Springs where as Number One Son I was tasked with laying garden paths and creating a rose garden.  It was all very hot and sweaty and at the end it all looked good.

postage stamp

Then it was off to the UK to visit the vast number of friends from Comprehensive School that turn fifty either in September or October.  Evidently the winter of 1962 was exceedingly cold and as a result of either the extreme weather, or inferior socialist condoms, (don’t laugh but the word “accident” has been heard uttered several time relative to my conception) there are a great many of us.

Part of the trip was to make a pilgrimage to White Hart Lane and pay homage to the Beloved, and Revered, Leader’s favourite football team Tottenham Hotspur.  There is not time or space to mention all of the suffering that your Beloved, and Revered, Leader has undergone at the hands of Spurs over the years nor can I mention what I would really have liked to do to the board of directors at various times during each and every season since I was seven involving a line, a wall and a firing squad.

Spurs

However what was most disturbing was the footwear of the Spurs players:  soccer cleats in Lurid Pink, Cerise, Tangerine and Mello Yello.  It seems that for the past ten years, black cleats are too old school.  They are just too boring.  In my day … no, that just sounds like I am a cranky 50-year-old has-been waiting for someone to ask about the soccer career of your Beloved, and Revered, Leader.

But I will say that I wore black cleats and I wore black indoor football shoes (and still do, as your Beloved, and Revered, Leader rocks the “Old Skool” Sambas).  Any player who thought to play with the players I played with would need to have world-class skills to match any vivid colour football boots they chose to wear.

Messi

Your Beloved, and Revered, Leader has no issue if players as talented as Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi choose to wear football boots in colours that are usually only seen on salmon lures.  But the right to spice up your life needs to be earned.

Perhaps it should be like a medieval guild and apprentices only get black boots, white logos and black laces, journeyman players get coloured logos, a craftsman can add coloured laces and only a master craftsman can wear something so lurid that even a stripper says “fuck off, that’s just too flashy”.  I wore Lotto boots that were black with orange and blue logos and orange laces and that would be appropriate for the caliber of player that I was at the level I was playing.

Lotto

But most of all, it pisses off your Beloved, and Revered, Leader simply because the pretty colours do not match the rest of the football kit and this offends me and really triggers my OCD.  It is like wearing black socks and brown sandals – but I, your Beloved, and Revered, Leader, have turned 50 now so this is alright (at least according to my father’s fashion tastes).  But the young players in the EPL do not have this excuse on which to fall back.

And the real question that your Beloved, and Revered, Leader would want to ask is, truth be told, do the football boots clash with the club kit, or is it the club kit that is clashing with the overly decorative, visually alarming, high paying shoes from a sponsoring entity such as Nike or Adidas or Puma or Lotto or Diadora.  Perhaps your Beloved, and Revered, Leader has been wrong in his thinking and the tail is wagging the dog!

happy stalin

Bollocks!  I am your Beloved, and Revered, Leader!  I am infallible (and now I am 50 too).