Thomas Ligotti

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Thomas Ligotti is my kind of guy, sorta.  He always expects the worst.  He spends all his time worrying about how he’s going to suffer and die and expects that everyone else is just the same, except some of us are better at fooling ourselves about the outcome.  That makes him mad.  He thinks all the folks that don’t worry about dying and suffering are deceiving themselves and just distracting themselves with ideas of afterlives or just having a good time, you know, trying not to think about it.  And he’s right, but these other folks are a whole lot happier than he is.  Now we can see the real problem, sorta.

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Ligotti has a big head, a really big head and that’s why he thinks about all these dreary things all the time instead of watching television or playing golf.  He’s always talking about how consciousness and self awareness are a tragedy and a curse on humankind; a crappy adaptation that evolution sneaked in there.  The thing he forgets is most people are really unconscious most of the time anyway, even when they’re not sleeping; they’re clueless about this kind of stuff, so why does he want to remind them and take them into his pity party?  Leave them alone with their fairy tale lives.  Don’t bring ’em down.  Don’t rain on their parade.  Not enough hobbies I guess.  Not enough television.  Not enough high speed internet downloading those “short films.”

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Well what’s Ligotti’s answer?  Don’t have any kids.  That’s it.  What, you say?  That makes him feel better about things?  Yeah, his basic argument is that by having kids we doom all the future generations to the suffering and death we have so we shouldn’t have any:  antinatalism they call it.  Let the species die out.  Well if Ligotti had any kids he wouldn’t be worrying about his great grandbaby’s suffering, he’d be worrying about his own suffering trying to deal with his own kids, getting them through college and boyfriends, etc.  I bet his parents suffered plenty with him.  Forget about future generation’s suffering.  Besides his kids would be the kind that would suffer because all the bullies would rag them about their egghead dad.

I think his problem maybe is really low testosterone and therefore low sperm count.  He isn’t gettin’ it on enough.  Only those coffin chicks would even consider hangin’ out with him he’s so dreary and down.  He needs to jerk it more too, take some of the tension and pressure off it.  He can’t have kids so he wants us to join him.  Sour grapes.

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Ligotti writes a horror story about once every decade or so, when he isn’t feeling sorry for himself and the rest of us.  They’re pretty good, but enigmatic.  Now I don’t expect you to understand a word like that, nor a story like that, because you are correctly spending your time feeling good and not worrying about future generation’s suffering or how the joke’s on us.  Stay away from funerals.  Hide the razorblades.

Sure, we’re all going to step off the pier sometime, but why waste any time thinking about that?  Remember I told you to always expect the worst, so now that that’s over let’s move on to feelin’ good.

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I’ve given you all the prescription you need in this blog to quit thinking about that dirt nap:  TV, NCIS, loud music, giant monster movies, malt liquor.  So, mix up some cocktails and turn on the wide screen to some NCIS and put a Chuck Berry record on that stereo set ’cause we’re goin’ out with a buzz in our heads and a smile on our faces.

What’s so bad about feelin’ good for the rest of your miserable little life?

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Walpurgisnacht

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When we used to live in the Borgo Pass Walpurgisnacht was way more important than All Hallows Eve.  Children would come from all over the countryside for the unwrapped sweets and plum brandy we would give out.  You better have a lot of both otherwise your house would burn down, your cat would die, or your firstborn would disappear, but it was all in good fun. Talk about your tricks or treats!

candy-tampering-chThen we moved to the United States for the economic opportunity.  Jobs other than chauffeur were scarce in the Borgo Pass so if you didn’t have your drivers license you were pretty much screwed.  Even if you did have a license getting a taxi through the Pass was a pretty treacherous undertaking.  Then there were the European wars, a boom and a bust for us at the same time with so many corpses all around but still no jobs.

Trick_or_treat_by_RadojavorAnyway the day before yesterday a whole bunch of kids showed up at the old schloss here and demanded treats.  Well the brandy ran out in a few minutes and the leftover candy from Walpurgisnacht last April didn’t last long either.  We had eaten most of it ourselves.  On top of that I couldn’t find a needle or razor blade in the whole house.  We had some Vicodin around but you wouldn’t want to give that to little kids, it might hurt them and think about the parents that just steal their kids’ candy.

walpurgisnacht2To make a short story longer, last April we had the whole house decked out with booby traps for Walpurgisnacht and we were ready with our unwrapped sweets and cakes.  I’d laid in a good supply of razor blades and Mama had a whole pin cushion of needles just waiting for the little darlings.  I also had literally a barrel of slivovitz shipped in from the old country.  Well guess what happened?  Nobody came.  Nobody used the knocker.  Nobody rang the bell.  You would think people were dead or afraid of us.

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When we carefully asked around people said that nobody made a big deal about Walpurgisnacht in the United States; stupid Halloween was the macabre holiday.  This is simply ridiculous.  This was hard to believe.  When the children surprised us on Halloween many didn’t dress as corpses or revenants at all.  Some dressed as so-called super heroes and princesses!  I didn’t see a single sword, razor, or dagger.  What’s up with that?  America is a very strange place.

Well somebody told me about something called a “trunk or treat” which is some sort of alternative to the Halloween “trick or treat” experience.  It must be trick or treat for lazy people, and heaven knows there are too many of them around.  The other big difference is you invite children to the trunk or treat event not wait for them to just show up.  This got me to thinking, why not host a trunk or treat at the old château on Walpurgisnacht next April 30!

walpurgisnachtI know it is a long time to wait but we sleep most of the winter anyway so that makes the time fly.  A benefit is the candy is super cheap around Walpurgisnacht, unlike Halloween, Christmas, or St. Valentine’s Day.  The dollar stores are the best place to buy.  In the US there still is the problem of most of the candy being individually wrapped, unlike Eastern Europe, so getting the wrappers back on the candy, so many individual pieces, is a real pain but still worth the effort.

Dookie

?????????????????????When did it become a big deal to pick up dog crap?  When I was a kid nobody picked up dog poop, never, anywhere.    Nobody gave a crap, so to speak.  You just got a shovel and flung whatever ended up in your piece of God’s little acre into the street or in the hedgerow.  No big deal, good fertilizer.  Nobody went berserk if a person walking a dog left a crap in your yard.  After all we just looked after each other;  I put some in your yard and you put some in mine and we’re all cool.  If I didn’t have a dog, no big deal, after all I wasn’t actually picking it up like they do now.

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Civilization

One thing that was different is we lived in a civilized world years ago unlike suburbs and cities today.  We had sidewalks.  Everyplace had sidewalks not just the rich neighborhoods and they were on both sides of the street.  Even houses without driveways had sidewalks.  Big cities, little cities, suburbs you name it all had sidewalks.  The only place that didn’t have sidewalks was when you got out into the rural areas and nobody cares if a dog craps next to a cornfield.

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Doin’ the Business

Generally dogs only took a dump and peed on the easement especially since that’s where the trees and fire hydrants were.  As long as you later walked on the sidewalk and not on the easement between the sidewalk and curb you were immune from stepping in doggie-do.  Now all the housing developments are cheap, cheap, cheap and nobody has zoning laws anymore so there aren’t any sidewalks in newer places and therefore no easements.

Still what’s the big deal?  I think arguments about unsanitariness are bogus.  Once Fido blows corn in the park the grass in that general vicinity is now a no fly zone even if the turd gets removed.  Personally I like the missiles above ground since now I can see where the no fly zone is.  I have no idea if I’m sitting in Spot’s toidy if there aren’t any warning signs.

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Well what about the sewers?  What about them?  Aren’t they for, well, sewage.  Oh you mean the storm sewers.  They drain into creeks and lakes and rivers.  So?  Everything else does too.  Listen in the good ol’ days there were a lot of buffalo, wolf, coyote, dear, raccoon leavings washing into the creek so what’s a little more dog doo?  You want to swim in that river!  Whoa, are you putting e. coli on the menu?  Even before Fido relieved himself there was still all that “natural” dookie we talked about in the pond plus whatever sewage washed in from the streets and highways and yards after the last storm even without some dog feces.  What about that?  Not to mention that Junior just let go as soon as you dipped him in that “clean” lake.  I just don’t swim in anything but a chlorinated pool because I’m civilized not like you cave dwellers that wanna play Tom Sawyer in the Mississippi.

So I don’t care if your dog craps in my yard even if I don’t own a dog (and never will, I hate dogs), but I’m not telling you where I live either…

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Queer Bait

This is another serious rant so you may as well move on right now.  Besides it’s gonna piss most of you off, so just go now, your already miserable day will be more blissful for it.

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This should really wind them up.  My entries on abortion and gun control got a little excitement going on here.  People take things so seriously and I feel sorry for them because life isn’t really all that serious an affair.  Life is easy.  Maximize leisure time.  Hang out more with people you care for.  Help somebody everyday.  I ate, I didn’t get rained on, I slept okay, the rest is what is called luxury.  Get as much luxury as you can unless it means the guy next to you doesn’t eat, or gets rained on, or doesn’t have a place to sleep, then we have a problem with you and me having too much luxury and we should spread it around more than a little bit.

I call this little rant “Queer Bait” but it probably should be called “Homophobe Bait,” but that isn’t going to grab as many search hits which they say is soooooo important.

gay rainbow flagWhat’s the deal with Gay Rights?  I mean why is it an issue at all?  Just treat homosexuals like people, game over.  I live in the South and I see a lot of people getting all worked up about excluding gay people from doing what they want to do.  Why?  Do we come over to your house and tell you not to play “pony girl” or “cop and French maid” or beat your kids.  I didn’t think so, so leave people alone to do what they want.

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In the first place being gay isn’t some lifestyle choice any more than red hair is a lifestyle choice.  People are just born with a different groove and find love in different places than we straights do, and I say love is so hard to find these days that anywhere you can find it is practically a miracle and should be celebrated.  To say it is an edgy lifestyle choice is to be ignorant of the facts.

gay-marriageA lot of straight dudes say they can’t stand seeing gays holding hands in public or kissing.  Now me, I’m not particularly fond of watching anyone trade saliva in any public context, but just avert your gaze, you certainly don’t have to watch what you don’t like.  These same bigots tend to be the ones who don’t mind a little fake lesbian girl-on-girl action on Skinemax so hypocrisy is definitely the word for that day.

What is actually the threat to straight males from homosexuals?  Do they think it’s contagious.  Do they think someone is going to pork them in the locker room?  What if a gay man did ask you if you were straight or gay?  Shouldn’t you be flattered?

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Gay marriage is actually one of the most sensible things.  After all gay marriage rarely results in any progeny and is an excellent outlet for all the unwanted children in this world.  Unbelievably the same people who oppose abortion are largely the same ones who oppose gay rights and gay marriage and gay adoption.  Go figure.

The conventional family argument is largely an anachronism today and a poor excuse to oppose gay rights.  At least 50% of hetero marriages end in divorce often with children involved and I think out of wedlock births are approaching the same number and growing, so a conventional monogamous long term straight family is in the minority nowadays.  I think we should encourage any kind of stable relationships of the monogamous long term kind, gay or straight.  I would bet, but don’t have the statistics to prove it (you know how lazy I am), that gay marriages result in a greater percentage of lasting long term relationships than heterosexual matrimony does.

So I say be an activist if you can but at least lay off and be cool about it.  Hope you have a Gay day!

Physical Fitness

imageBy now you’ve probably started to model your life around this blog. That’s what I’m here for. Between my Grandfather and myself, we know pretty much everything there is to know, so relying on this blog when making big life decisions is a good thing for you to do. That’s what I’m here for. Ooops, already said that. Well you know what they say about repetition being the…

132_oval_decalLet’s now turn our weary heads to look at something I’ve begun to notice: those little oval stickers on cars that say “13.2” or “26.4.” It’s a secret code between a secret society of fitness nuts that we, the slovenly, are not supposed to know. Except they really do want us to figure this out so we can ask them: “When did you run your last half-marathon?” or something like that. For some stupid reason these people put this magic number on their car or t-shirt and we are supposed to be clever enough to break their code and realize that 13.2 is how many miles are in a half-marathon. So what? Why didn’t they just put a sticker on their car that said “Ask me about how I ran my last half-marathon?” No, I’m supposed to play dumb and say: “Hey, What’s that 13.2 sticker for?”

First, yours truly has zero interest in your current jag of ego-stretching self-torture that you like to call fitness. Second, I know nothing about it. I don’t know or want to know anything about your shoes, your special running shorts, your iPhone running app, your running social network, your training regimen. Remember you are talking to someone who has zero interest already in spectator sports where they actually keep score, so watching, hearing, thinking about a little thing like running faster has no appeal; especially listening to your self-torture sagas, isn’t on today’s to-do list.

I used to try to run. Actually ran a few races but I found I hated it. I have some physical debilities which we won’t go into here that makes running a pretty painful and unrewarding experience anyway. Let’s call it a physical limitation. That got me thinking about exercise and physical fitness in general.

Exercise is always painful. It is always harder to do than not do, as Hamlet or Yoda would say. I mean what’s so bad about being lazy? Why are we so crazy about exercise? We take the idea of a pleasant walk hither and yon to some extreme painful sweating, pounding, breathing, agonizing speed obsession. There you have it. “I can run a Marathon just like some Greek messenger with a Post-it Note did a coupla thousand years ago.” Big deal! They didn’t have cell phones back then so this was pretty much the only form of speedy communication. Pick up the phone! Why do we imitate this poor sucker who probably had to do this or he wasn’t getting any dinner?

It makes me feel better…

What? You felt better while you were trying to come up that steep hill at 10 mph than you would have if you had been sitting with me having a few watching Spongebob Squarepants? I don’t think so. Oh you meant afterwards, like when you puke your gravy at the finish line and have to drink only Gatorade for two days straight to get rid of that headache and the trots. That feelin’ better. I tell you what, I feel a little winded when I get up to get another cold one from the fridge, so why don’t you put on those fancy shoes you just bought and get me a brew and then we’ll both be feelin’ a whole lot better.

SpongeBob_main_charactersSo now we have established the universal rule that all exercise that’s going to be “good” for you is also going to be painful and boring while you are doing it.

Our next hurdle:

You’ll live longer…

Yeah, so you can torture yourself with more marathons. Here I introduce the science of the “life extension equation.” The principle is simple: exercise effort time (feelin’ bad time) has to be less than life extension time for exercise to be a net gain in life. So, say I run a marathon in four hours (what is a reasonable time? doesn’t matter just for example), if my life is extended by only four more hours I want my money back. See 4 hours of pain = four hours longer life is the game breaker. If I can’t at least get more life extension than time I’ve spent in exercise hell then I’m a loser.

Well this is easy, sure you’re gonna get more than four hours of life back for running that marathon (versus Spongebob + Beer). Now wait a minute. The devil is in the details. How do we define the feelin’ bad time, the torture time? Is it only the actual exercise time, or is it something else? Maybe we should include the training time, or the warmup time, or the time it took to drive, fly, bike to the event. But hey, those were all “feel good time” life wasters, weren’t they. Yeah sure. But were they as good as they could have been? (Spongebob + Beer) To be fair you’ve gotta include all the time you spent jogging, preparing, training, shopping, etc. for the marathon as bad feelin’ time. No way were they as fun as Spongebob+Beer time.

beer%20can%20genericI’m pretty sure when you total it all up you would have been better off in the old life extension equation spending your time with me watching Spongebob and drinkin’ beer.

So I don’t run, I don’t go to any gym, I don’t own any exercise equipment (=clothes racks). When I go for a walk it’s to get somewhere, or listen to the tweet tweets (Mother Nature), or an excuse to listen to an audiobook or some loud music my family hates. I don’t wanna live longer if it includes some self flagellation ritual I have to exchange daily for my life to be extended.

Because I figure when I go there are going to be three options: nada, Spongebob+Beer, or a Treadmill machine and I won’t get to pick when the so-called inevitable comes at whatever time of life. I’ll know when I get there if I’ve been good.

Lighten Up

steve-martin_banjoSome people have taken umbrage at my musings about Bluegrass Music. Apparently these folks take life so seriously that they think my opinion 1) matters to anyone, 2) is to be taken as 100% at face value. Now seriously folks, the operative term here should be sarcasm. Bluegrass musicians are some of the most accomplished folk musicians in the world. I can appreciate their talent while at the same time I cannot bear to listen to them. It just isn’t my gig. I hate it. My apparently feeble attempt at humor in the piece was so lame that it was misconstrued as the ravings of a hydrophobic dog on Bluegrass music. Either I didn’t write things very well or you are not the sharpest tool in the shed. I know which one I’m going to bet on.

atmosphere_testing_nuclear_weapons.jpeNow seriously, how can anyone take life so damn, well, seriously? Daily life is usually the most humorous thing imaginable.  I mean unless the current situation in front of you involves death or you losing everything then it’s not fodder for tears. Make a joke. Have a laugh. Lighten up. People are always running up to me saying: “It’s a nightmare.” “We’re doomed.” “We’re porked.” I always ask: did anyone die? Did anyone go out of business. Did the ground just open up and swallow someone?  No.  I say: “Well this is just the first sign that the apocalypse is imminent.” The conference room goes quiet. Everyone in the immediate group is dead serious. About what?  The world’s going to end!  Again, I don’t think so.  Lighten up.

tsunami2There is enough grim news in the real world so your sorry insignificant little problems are a source of laughter for me and they should be for you.  See the humor in the everyday occurrences.  See the humor in your useless job.  See the humor in your whacked out family, see the humor in the fact that you have no idea why you do 95% of the things you do, see the humor in that driver texting and fixing her hair at the same time.  Bill Monroe (rest his soul) will still be there when you get back.  In all seriousness folks, lighten up!

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Older Folks

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One of the things you notice when you do a stint of enforced retirement like I have is that during weekdays, and after rush hour and school starts, the only people driving around are contractors, like plumbers and electricians, and older folks. That’s it. Early Saturday is the same way. The geriatrics like to start early I suppose because they don’t sleep anymore. Even the stay at home moms aren’t out in force yet.

Now when I say older, I mean 70+ and not just because I might be pushing this in a few short years, but because most people seem to have it together physically and mentally until this time. Oh sure we all know octogenarians that are full of vim and vigor and really don’t seem as old as they are. These are usually the ones that looked after their health all along or just had good genes or both. So obviously this is a generalization but one where the exception just confirms the rule.

The highways are relatively empty at this early time of day, after rush hour, except for otr trucks and said contractors, but these older folks are still a real road hazard. They are going 50 in a 70 mph speed zone and in the middle lane. Trucks bear down on them with reckless abandon and pass them like they are standing still in the right-most lane. Usually gramps seems clueless that he was just a breath away from crushed metal jack-knife hell. The other things they are good at is the blinker-less lane change into a faster congested lane, or my favorite: the last second signal-less merge at 45 mph. At no time did you see grandpa check that blind spot from his Crown Vic. They are also good at stopping right at the end of the entrance ramp nearly causing a pile-up and forcing you to eventually perform the Big Daddy Don Garlitz merge. Another fav is slowing down to 30 mph as soon as they see the sign for their exit even if it says 2-1/4 miles to go. No blinker here either.

When you’ve spent the morning toodling around like I have on various errands (or looking for a job), you learn to look out for these drivers. Truck drivers I suppose are used to spotting them.  Most of them like to drive these big roomy tanks that hearken back to the days of cheap gasoline. A pristine one is a sure give away. Buicks, nobody but pawpaw drives a Buick. And anything big with handicapped plates or one of those hang down from the mirror tags should be on your radar. There are exceptions so be vigilant. If that car in front of you seems to be coming up way too quickly, get ready now for the lane maneuver.

We love these older folks, unlike teenagers and drunks, they pull on our heartstrings. Nobody wants to pull road rage on gampa no matter how foolishly he is driving. Using the horn is just going to make a bad situation worse and will have no long term effects on his driving habits; it’s just to make you feel better. Don’t be so selfish.

What are we going to do about this? If a teenager or you or I were driving like this the local sheriff’s blue light would be going on and we’re taking the breath test. (Not me, I’m a tail gating, lane changing maniac but I also have a death grip on the turn signal arm.) After studying this in my usual deep way I have determined that the problem is the automatic renewal of the driver’s license every 5 years; the driver’s test should be made mandatory to renew your license.

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Now you or I are going to have enough trouble passing the driving portion of the test so no way is pappy not going to knock over the parallel parking cones and in addition that turn signal-less driving habit is going to be frowned upon by the tester. Never checking your blind spot, whether it’s forgetfulness or just not being physically capable, is also going to draw some low marks. If she gets on the wrong ramp, forget it. In short, no way is grandma passing this thing even if she can pass that lame eye test (Why only the eye test to renew? At least give the written test again.).

So now to the next conundrum: do we make everyone take the test again or just those seventy and over? People are going to scream “age discrimination” all over the place if we only make the seniors do it, but there are plenty of precedents for age discrimination in our society that seem to go unnoticed. If you are under 18 you can’t be in the park after 10 pm or smoke (right!). You can’t drink until you are 21 even though you can go die in Afghanistan. You can’t draw social security until you’re 65. You can’t draw from your own IRA without a penalty until you are 59-1/2. Your insurance rates are dependent on your age. We age discriminate all the time and nobody seems to notice or care. The “greater good” argument doesn’t hold water either because I can prove this is also for the greater good.

So now you are going to say that grandpa isn’t going to be able to “get around” anymore. Is the lack of a decent public transport system an excuse for putting the public welfare at risk? Drunks and chronically bad drivers lose their license. Why aren’t we worried that lack of a decent bus service means they can’t get to their job anymore? Let’s face it, granny’s motor reflexes and eyesight are still worse than mine after I’ve drilled six tequila shooters on an empty stomach. Should I be allowed to drive then? I don’t think so.

In spite of all this we can take the discrimination issue right out of the picture, just make everyone take the driving test every five years. Heaven knows there are a whole set of non-geriatric drivers that shouldn’t be out there. Make them take the bus for awhile and I bet their road skills get a whole lot better too.

Anyway I’ve gotta go since I’m supposed to take my Mom to the DMV to get her license renewed. I won’t do the right thing and tell her she shouldn’t be driving anymore and we’re not going to let her renew her license much less have the keys. No we’re too nice for that. If anything we’re going to lie and pretend we forgot to take her over to the DMV in time for her renewal and hope she doesn’t have it together enough to figure out that we did it on purpose.

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