Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Five things that mean a lot to me part one

Okay, another day and another series begins. Let me say it one last time, I will complete the series on Emerging Ancient Technologies, honestly. But today, I begin another series, and I'll start with a person who apparently doesn't even exist.

Or does he? I am referring to the conspiracy nut himself, the great Dale Gribble


I don't know whether most people think King of the Hill is juvenile, who knows (personally, I think it's one of the best written shows on TV, along with Spongebob Squarepants - amazing rhythms and vocal performances), but it is easily my favourite thing to watch on tv, and Dale Gribble is definitely my favorite character. With his basic lack of trustworthiness, his willingness to sell out his friends, and his far-fetched conspiracy theories, he's a man after my own heart.

My favorite Dale Gribble show - the episode where Dale is trying to be re-elected as chief of his gun club. Dale lets off a stray round and a huge ape-man muscles in on the election. Hank Hill (under an assumed name) then hires Dale as a soldier of fortune to help rebuild his confidence. The story climaxes with Dale ending the ape-man's siege at the gun club, and his pride and position as chief are duly restored. Pure gold!

*
Besides commenting on this post, people are urged/advised/welcome to drop the names of Something that Means a Lot to Them

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dasani Direct Blow!

I've just been so sad as to look at my blog stats. There was one BIG surprise there. I've rocketed to the top on Google for my Smash and Grab raid on the desperate new Dasani ad, where a bear turns down the chance to drink water from a mountain stream. Why? Because salmon spawn in there. "It's a bit too natural" or similar, grumbles the bear (and since when did you buy products on the basis of what a bear thinks?)

I hope the ad-obsessed, the weirdly curious, and the simply strange, enjoyed where there Google searches led them, here, to the Ungodly Grotto that is - Extreme Unction (cue A-Team music...!)

Dramatic death

I've been kind of stuck with some of the writing I'm working on. I did, however, have a story accepted by this site, DeadMule, that shines a spotlight on Southern Literature.

I've been reading about Restoration Drama and the bloodthirsty nature of the 17th Century audience in a book called Preface to Restoration Drama. Never has such a bald title concealed such a wealth of mirth-making material, it really is hilarious stuff. Here are some notes on dramatic death...

Because the Restoration audience liked to witness mayhem and murder, it is hard to find a tragedy without one or more killings on-stage. All the poets racked their brains for deadly devices more interesting than the commonplace sword and dagger. Pistols and muskets were unreliable engines and rarely used. Poison in a goblet of wine was convenient but conventional: some ingenious writers served their poison in skulls instead of glasses, or provided poisoned swords, daggers, baths, sweetmeats, or even poisoned gloves, one sniff of which was enough to send a victim into convulsions. Garroting with a silken cord was dramatically effective, when it was done in full view of the audience. Beheading, hanging, and impaling were usually done off-stage, with appropriately horrid sound effects: when the scene opened the audience saw ghastly dummies in grotesque postures.

One objection to dramatic death by beheading, strangling, or hanging was that the victim lacked breath for a farewell speech. Stabbed through the lungs, he could die in verse, capping the final rhyme with his last breath. Lovers could take a long farewell; villains had time to confess and repent; and great men could philosophize on fate, change, kings, and desperate men. If necessary, credibility was sacrificed to convention; for example, in Gould's The Rival Sisters (1695), wicked Catalina, struck by lightning, had time to confess her sins before she died. The dying speech beame a screaming rant when the victim was poisoned...

Is it just me, or isn't that great! Now, I wonder if there's anywhere in the U.S. where they stage revivals of Restoration Drama...

Monday, March 28, 2005

When the Sleeper Wakes

I'm moving away from worrying myself into a needless state of High Anxiety over the Schiavo case. But, to ease the transition, I notice that no-one has mentioned the potential that exists here for a real-life rerun of one of H G Wells' science-fiction novels.

The novel in question is titled When the Sleeper Wakes and it's an interesting book. It concerns the case of a young man with a weak chest, who one day is taken ill. This weak-chested individual, who is called Graham (what a crap name for a hero!), then falls into a state similar to Terri Schiavo, only he has a cerebral cortex (although, who knows, if Schiavo lived long enough, some kind of brain transplant may be attempted). Graham sleeps and sleeps, like a fairytale princess, and his pension and bank account accumulate interest. Eventually, Graham's fortune is sufficient to warrant the appointment of a board of trustees, whose shrewd investments of Graham's money help them, over time, to become the dominant economic force in the world.

This goes on for hundreds of years, with decisions being taken by the trustees in Graham's name.

Then, one day, the spectacular happens, the amazing, and Graham wakes up to discover that he is nominally, at least, the Ruler of the World.

The trustees are not happy, and they attempt to placate Graham rather than hand over power. He escapes and there is a momentous power struggle. I won't tell you how it ends...

What is fascinating about the Wells plot is that, perhaps in faithfulness to his time (and the demand to make it a good story), that he can envisage the comatose Graham being left alone, pretty much in peace, for many years, hundreds by the end. Today's version of When the Sleeper Wakes could compress all the dramatic events into just Two Weeks, not a couple of centuries. And the Sleeper wouldn't be required to Wake.

So, another possible reason to respect the wishes of Michael Schiavo and to let Terri die in peace is this - To Stop Her Taking Control of the World.

(As a footnote, one of the innovations in Well's story is the Babble Machine, devices sited throughout public spaces, that broadcast endless tittle-tattle and gossip, nothing of substance... thank goodness nothing like that has come to pass!)

*

For anyone who is interested in Sterne or BS Johnson, there's an excellent PDF transcript of Jonathan Coe's Laurence Sterne Annual Memorial lecture available.

There will also be an upcoming interview (written by one of my friends) with Christine Brooke-Rose, where she throws light on what a humourless git BS Johnson could be.

*

And, no, I haven't forgotten about the Spears!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Stupid people alert part two

Another day, another set of mutants gather to protest about "LIFE" in Florida. This woman was doing all kinds of bizarre stuff on the news, here she is in freeze-frame, helping to uphold the popular perception of non-Americans that this fine country is stuffed to the brim with mad BibleThumpers.



As for the rest of these pictures, I can't be bothered to waste my time documenting their strangeness, just look and see what Religion can do to some folks!










Saturday, March 26, 2005

Name that Fuhrer

I had been swotting up for my latest post on spears, for the series no-one is talking about, Ancient Emerging Technologies part two. But once again, I've been diverted from my purpose by the utter insanity of the Schiavo case, so another note on that follows.

Numerous blogs are repeatedly equating Hitler with Michael Schiavo. Now, to help to draw out the subtle distinction between these two men, I have devised a very brief Quiz

Extreme Unction news quiz

Question: Which short, dark-haired, guy stole power, formulated Nazism, and waged war all over the planet. This man also organised the Holocaust, 6 million plus - Jews, gypsies, political opponents, and the feeble-minded - slain. Any ideas?

Answer: Adolf Hitler

If you answered Michael Schiavo, you are wrong. He lives in Florida at the moment, and his wife, Terri, went into a coma in the mid-1990s.

The Catholic Church must Shut its Collective Piehole re: Schiavo

I don't want to hear the Catholic Church mentioning euthanasia or eugenics or how it holds life sacred. I don't want to hear Catholics moaning about the inhumanity of Terri Schiavo's treatment. This is the same Catholic church that officially apologised for drawing up a seat and spectating at the Holocaust (6 million plus dead), nevermind the various evidence of the Vatican Ratline that smuggled war criminals and loot out of Germany in the aftermath of WWII. The Catholic Church really did not learn a thing from the Crusades or the Inquisition.

Is the same Catholic Church that is against the suffering of Terri Schiavo, the same Catholic Church that would let people suffer from AIDS, rather than promote the use of condoms? (They prefer to pray, rather than dole out some Trojans, so why not simply pray for Schiavo?)

This is the same Catholic Church that seems to be a finishing school for paedophiles.

And all I ask is one thing - Shut Your Piehole! Damn, I'm generous.

*

The Rest of the World, remember it?

While the American mainstream media fixates on someone without a cerebral cortex, whose only contribution to humanity right now is a full bedpan twice a day, why not have a think about some of the other people being starved to death (no, I don't think Terri Schiavo is being starved to death, but I'm running with the insane logic here)

Look at Zimbabwe, where,

"Four million people are starving in Zimbabwe, a quarter of the population, and thousands of Robert Mugabe's political opponents are being turned away empty-handed from emergency food stations, The Independent can reveal." (link)

*

Extreme Unction is now off to the far side of the Galaxy, anyplace I can escape from the simple-minded rubbish that turns this beautiful world into such a miserable place to be.

Friday, March 25, 2005

A link to something short and satisfying...

Short and satisfying? I'm referring to this excellent piece by George Saunders on writing and truth and the role of the sentence. I make it sound more pretentious than it is, please have a look -> http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1440257,00.html

And, if you don't know, who is George Saunders??? Well, he is an American writer, who wrote the very funny collection, Pastoralia. He has something new coming out soon. He's worth checking out, if you are clever and like something that is funny and passionate and willing to go its own sweet way. It's not a sophisticated America of glamorous parties he worries about, but kids on bikes, middle-aged men who never managed to leave their mothers, people attending self-help groups, etc.

On the literary theme, I finished reading Nelson Algren's A walk on the wild side today. This man is one of the greatest writers America has produced, anyone who values literature and has not had the pleasure of reading his work, I strongly recommend you to seek him out.

Peace to you all who read this blog. The Emerging Ancient Technologies part two will follow tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Stupid people alert part one

The Schiavo protests have unearthed some of the most stupid people in the cosmos. Here are just a couple, for your delight.

Exhibit 1

Here's how to engage in debate! Via a megaphone! Listen to me, I'm the fucking loudest! Listen to me as I pass on a message from God, via my megaphone... it's a miracle, my throat was sore yesterday, but it recovered during the night, so now, with God's help, I can bellow crapola at you via my heaven sent megaphone of Clever, Moral, Life-Protecting Epigrams (and if that fails, then I just yell, "Fuck you, fuckers!")

Exhibit 2

I don't even know where to start with this! Erm, so your right to speak has evaporated over the Schiavo case? And you've written LIFE on the tape you've put over your piehole? Erm, well, if you took the tape off, you could start saying things about a case that is really none of your business. But, no, let me guess, your oppressors put the tape there and then wrote Life on it, then ran away to engage in gay sex and drugs (and really, who can blame them?)

(It would actually save everyone a heap of trouble if you put that tape over Terry Schiavo's mouth, so we could all go back to doing the things we were doing before we all became experts on medical treatment and permanent vegetative states.)

Emerging Ancient Technology part one

Enough of the politics, it's time to return to one of my favoured themes, bringing the people of Blogworld up to date with the latest technological developments. Sadly, due to limited funds and the fact I know nothing really about computers, digital cameras, things that you, erm, talk into (I think they're called telephones), I will confine myself to the field of emerging ancient technologies.

Let's kick off with the flint

I'm really excited that the new flints are about to hit the market. I mean, the old flints are so 2003. The new flints will have full XcramenT compatibility, a 60GB edge, and be able to cut through caribou skin in subzero temperatures. As Leon Snigglesnatch, of IMSMSDMAAADDLASLDKKASK Technologies, CA, said at the recent HeadScrew Emerging Neurotrash Expo, this year held in a public toilet in Reno...

"Flints are where it's at now, for market. P-2-P sharpening of flints, videoconferencing via giant plasma screens, large communal cave scenes with naked people leaping over fire, flints downloaded directly to your info-shoe as you stumble through outer space, these are the hot flint apps for 2005..."

So, just how cool are the new flints? Answer - really cool. Subzero.
And what do they do? They let people obsessed with technology bumble on about whatever until infinity. Hooray!

Give me flints or give me death.

Cultural Resonators - great things to say to imaginary friends:

Errol Flint
Flint of the Bumblebee
Full Flintal Lobotomy

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Being Different

There was a shooting at Red Lake High School, Minnesota yesterday, where a teenager who subscribed to parts of Nazi ideology shot dead a number of people. The shootist admired Hitler and identified with notions of ethnic supremacy. He then went and shot a load of people.

The news media went and spoke to one of the parents of the Columbine shootings.

"When I spoke then, I said that security guards and metal detectors were not the solution. [I stated] that this country has turned its back on God, and we have basically taken out all of our spiritual content and our moral content," he says. "We expose kids to violence through the media and then we ask the question, 'Why does this happen?' The answer is right in front of us if we just dare to look at it."

He is right. Enhancing security is not the solution.

He then repeats a simple-minded motif, the problem is the absence of spiritual content and moral content... and this has been brought about by exposing kids to violence through the media.

I prefer to cut into these two events at another level of similarity, the easy access to firearms and the stifling nature of suburban life, of which the school is a potent symbol.

Violence is not just exploding cars and gangstas having shoot-outs. If we are going to talk about violence in the media, then it would be wise to include people who foster division and intolerance, as finally, it is the inability of people to live alongside one another that is the most corrosive effect an idea can have. Violence as entertainment is one thing, violence masquerading as political debate is another.

I repeat this Jerry Falwell quote because it demonstrates my argument so well,

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/14/Falwell.apology/

The Red Lake shootist was motivated by ideas that can be traced back at least as far as Nietzsche's Superman, while the Columbine shooters, with their Trenchcoat Mafia, had arrived at similar conclusions through themes in the work of Marilyn Manson. But these conclusions were only reached because they Meshed with the World they found themselves in.

The source of the problem is not to censor Nietzche or Marilyn Manson.

The solution to the problem is not to Try and Make Everyone Think the Same Things or Share the Same Values.

The solution is not attending Church, as the recent catching of the BTK killer attests to,

“The suspect in the BTK serial killings, Dennis Rader, was fired from his job on Wednesday, but got assurances that he will continue to be a member of the church where he is a leader.”

*

I have sympathy for the ideas of Nietzche. It is transparently obvious, to me at least, that the interesting person, someone who dares to be different, IS most definitely held back by their fellows, particularly in small-town suburbia (let me make it clear, I am not referring to Red Lake as suburbia, it's not), and particularly when growing up. During my formative years, the fact that I was somehow different (and no, I didn't even have to wear eye makeup or have body piercings), turned me into a magnet for the vat-grown knuckleheads who surrounded me, someone to work out Their Own Frustrations with suburban life on. It becomes a War. For Peace to break out, there needs to be two things,

1) More Diversity, Not Less
2) Escape Routes for Interesting People, who are not going to mindlessly conform.

The School is a potent symbol, the place where Success and Failure are decided upon. But how? What does it mean if it is necessary to Conform in order to Succeed? Anyone Different is de facto, a Failure. Is this right? Taking this into account, the school shooting as a way of redressing the Social Order makes a certain kind of sense.

None of what I say Justifies what happens. But anyone interested in recognising Why these events occur must go beyond blaming the media, or declaring people to be insane, and seek to understand the pressures at work in our society.

The Answer is not for everyone to be coerced into the same framework of belief, and equally, people must learn to stop Penalising people who do not share those values, or who arrives at them from a different source.

It would also be great if America put its guns away.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Salmon spawn in mountain streams...

I have seen it all now. In terms of trying to turn people on to your product, the latest commercial for Dasani - the wonderful water made by Coca-Cola - features the amazing strapline - "It's crisp, refreshing, and salmon-free" - The implication being that bottled water that makes a large play of being "pure" and from "mountain streams" are neglecting to tell you that salmon spawn in that very water you drink! They've even got a guy in a bear outfit to drum home the point. Hey! Those wouldn't be the same bears that pee in mountain streams, too! Whoo, time to pour away my Evian... (You can see the ad here http://www.dasani.com/flash.htm )

But wait! On the subject of purity, let's have a closer look at Dasani, the salmon-free wonder-water. Surely it can't be the same Dasani water that in Britain was completely recalled, all 500,000 bottles???



"Coca-Cola's new brand of "pure" bottled water, Dasani, was revealed earlier this month to be tap water taken from the mains. Then it emerged that what the firm described as its "highly sophisticated purification process", based on Nasa spacecraft technology, was in fact reverse osmosis used in many modest domestic water purification units."

And remember, while Dasani is salmon-free, it makes up for that with its abundance of toxins...

"Coca-Cola's Dasani brand of bottled water was found to have illegally high levels of bromate, a cancer-causing chemical, say company executives in the UK. Coca-Cola, which had called their water, "as pure as bottled water gets," immediately recalled 500,000 bottles. It is, of course, a public relations disaster for the company, which has been trying to develop new markets other than soft drinks "

Sunday, March 20, 2005

There are some people out there...

... and they know who they are.

They are Trivia/Goof geeks, and I am going to give them a public talking-to now.

Now, people, I have mentioned it before, but I like to watch CSI. Now, CSI, for those who don't know, is an acronym of Crime Scene Investigation. Basically, some science bods and detectives investigate crimes using all their fancy methods and catch or fail to catch the people responsible. It's a well-written show, with decent performances from the cast. Fine.

Everything's fine.

Now, I went and looked up an episode guide for CSI, as they are showing about 30 shows this week on one of the channels. And there was the geek stuff. I know, I know, it was my own fault for voyaging into fandom, but one "goof" that was constantly pointed out regarding the show really annoyed me.

And it was - People moaning that the actor's playing corpses could be observed "blinking", or "moving very slightly" or "their chest goes up and down, just like they're breathing..."

What are the makers of the show supposed to do to satisfy these "goof spotters"??? It's bad enough, as an actor, being asked to play someone who has been thrown off an office block, or someone who has been stuck in a deep freeze for a month, without the producer's asking if it's okay to "just stop your heart for a few minutes, for the sake of realism".

Or maybe they should just use real dead bodies. People could include it in their wills or suicide notes. "The greater part of my estate shall go to X and Y, but I would really like my body to be used in CSI, in any manner they see fit, depending upon the nature of my death, and not extending to facial disfigurement or the hacking off of limbs..."

Okay, I'm calm again now. I'm relaxed. I'm sure it's going to be a wonderful week.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

In the park...

Firstly, I shed one of my subscribers on bloglines.com, what a shame. I prize every one of my subscribers, and the total had climbed to a dizzy four! Including myself. In the whole cosmos, four subscribers. I would smile as I went to sleep thinking about me and my three subscribers, whose identities I am unaware of, gathering together, and who knows, four, it's a brilliant number, we could do all kinds of things...

play table tennis doubles
play Trivial Pursuit
play Twister
form a Beatles Tribute Band
pretend to be the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse
pretend to be the Fantastic Four

these are just some of the things we could've done.

Now there are only three!

so we could

hmmm, pretend to be the Three Degrees or the Three Wise Men

see, the options are limited.

I wish number four would come back.

A Walk in the Park

After the fuss in Memphis last week, when President Bush came to town (And what fun that was - when someone at the event Bush held to promote his social security plans, in a very level way, asked a critical question, they were escorted from the hall by security. That's the fate of people who dissent in the presence of Fuhrer Bush), there was a rally today to mark 2 years since the Iraq war/invasion/corporate takeover, whatever it is/was began. And it really was good, peace people had gathered in the Veteran's Memorial section of Overton Park (peace banners beside a statue of a soldier, bayonet fixed, frozen in a charge), a bus with Eyewitness to Iraq and Palestine written on it, a Marxist book stall, GM-free, meat-free, food, etc, to listen in sunshine to dissenting voices advocating regime change at home and that people should not give up the fight to bring the war to a close, to not let anyone say that it is a victory for "freedom" or "democracy".

Having your house bulldozed is not freedom or democracy in action.

*

Ooooh, a political blog post. That will probably lose me my other 2 subscribers. No matter, today that is what Extreme Unction was up to.

*

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend, eat some lentils and think of EU, dancing in a tie-dyed shirt - I know you want to!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Oh, I thought of something I miss...

I miss the trips out on to Dartmoor, in the South West of England. The sight of the landscape, on the way out to Hound Tor, it's like visiting another planet. And then to park up and spend time walking the gentle slope to the tor itself, choosing an easy part to scramble up (I'm terrible with heights), and then just sitting there, staring out, in a place without cars zooming around, without signs nor fingerposts, without cash registers, and a with fresh wind reviving me. Yes, I miss that.

Here's a picture of Hound Tor



And this is a fairly dire poem by Samuel Wills, on the subject of Dartmoor. I was seeking out the full text of his Musings in Moorland and Marsh, as it has a very funny poem about a man with a bad liver (as well as one called something like Remarks upon eating a tough steak at the home of Lord X)

Never a lovelier scene my eye has viewed
Than Dartmoor - that romantic solitude:
There mountain torrents rush through rock-strewed glens,
A hundred springs gush up from secret dens;
There, rock-piled slopes with rugged chasms yawn,
As if by thunderbolts asunder sawn;
There busy bees their soothing lullaby
Hum in the spiral foxglove's speckled eye:
The breeze the purple heath-bloom moves in turn,
With nodding cotton rush and waving fern -
Fit place for those who find in botany
Somewhat to change their life's monotony.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

And you wonder why I left England? part two

I can never turn down a chance to knock the Royal Family, and today another wonderful opportunity presents itself with news that The Guardian is holding a competition to find a suitable Photoshopped memorial to the dear departed hag that was the Queen Mother.

Well, here is my first entry... and the Guardian have very sensibly used it. (For anyone not clued in, the Queen Mother was a notorious boozehound)



I'm going to reflect on this a little more. It's July last year that I left England. I was past thirty, I'd lived there all my life, although I had moved around. (Although moving around England is like shuffling seat on the Titanic!) Now, I look back, think hard, and there's nothing that I really miss, besides the National Health Service. The NHS would've been a handy way to lose my tonsils for free, although, who knows, down in the South West I'd most likely get MRSA or the Norwalk virus (constant vomiting and a green face).

I have been following the issues going on in English political life and the news for more than 20 years, and since the David Blunkett affair and the fox hunting debate, I've lost interest completely. This process really started with the start of Gulf War II and Tony Blair's terrible conduct. The final signal is that an election is just around the corner, and usually I'd be getting excited (I know, I know, I need to get out more). But this time around, even with the prospect that Tony Blair may get a bloody nose, I'm not interested. My own analysis is that the best result is a savaging for Tony Blair, but a narrow victory, that then sees power handed over to the less toxic Gordon Brown.

But outside in Memphis, the sun is shining, and I really don't care what happens, short of Tony Blair having something heavy fall on his head.

"There’s room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be" - John Lennon, Working Class Hero

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Perfectly Logical



You Are Incredibly Logical




(You got 100% of the questions right)

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic

You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.

A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

I find the Spock reference depressing, as I never subject myself to the intergalactic misery of Star Trek. I would also bridle at the notion that my logical self had been developed at the expense of the emotional self. Better! Let's say that Extreme Unction knows when to be logical and when to be emotional - truly a Man for the 21st Century...

I am going to see the throat specialist imminently, and this is definitely arousing my emotions. Like many men, I just don't like going to see any healthcare professionals, and I always fear the worst. Part of me is convinced that I will be lying down in an operating theater later this afternoon, having an emergency tracheotomy.

Just like my reaction to the passing with no problems of my INS medical - (you may remember, my urge to shout "I am Normal! I am not dying of AIDS" out of the car window, in celebration, I am sure that if my throat condition is not life-threatening (although at the least I'm going to require a tonsilectomy, I reckon), I will be out there, dancing in the streets, chanting "YES! I will live long enough to pay off my credit card debt and finish my History of Ireland!"

Otherwise, I will be back to write my POST of DOOM later this evening... (if the hospital has internet access)

*** Afternoon, post-throat doc update ***

Good news for me. I am not dying, I have no exotic throat disease that will condemn me to a hospital bed and an early grave. Sadly, the tests showed no evidence that I am immortal either, but I can work on that. I don't have strep??? throat (no idea what strep throat is), but I will need my tonsils removed in the near future.

I celebrated my freedom with the blackened catfish at the Half Shell and an extra side of onion rings. It wasn't quite Nelson Mandela's release from prison, but you have to work with what you're given.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Shadowy Extreme Unction, slightly less so...

Here is a PDF for download of what I've been working on.

Here is the answer to the vague references to Ireland, historical falsification, bones in the foot, fungal spores that accumulate on the walls of boarding rooms, that have appeared in EU over the last month or so.

Some of this document is incomplete, but that shouldn't prevent people finding some enjoyment, and of course, feel free to comment.

Download PDF

Monday, March 14, 2005

Shadowy Extreme Unction

My research trail for Project X (!) has thrown up some weird stuff. Firstly, I wanted to know what the Russian for 'blue lips' was, as I had imagined a group of Russian writers who were so poor and hungry that they resorted to eating their manuscripts, and so acquired ink-stained lips.

This resulted in my being put in contact with a friendly Russian. However, he then came up with the information that my name 'Jason Kennedy' along with that of a friend (still nameless) delivered mysterious results in the imdb.com database. Here is the link to the 2 Jason's, neither of whom is Extreme Unction (or are they?)

IMDB -> Jason K

The final thing I was going to mention was that I fantasised an art exhibition where all the pictures were hung upside down, except for one by Stuart Davis, titled Egg Beater No. 4

Now, I wonder if any EU readers know just what I'm hinting at!

Vague Intimations of Doom

It was a weekend foreshadowed with doom.

Firstly, on Saturday, this terrific noise started up, so we went to investigate. As we came outside the apartment building, purple and green light was reflected in the windows of White Station High School, and I expected to see a horde of black-suited Special Forces engaged in the first firefight of a Global War. In fact, it was only a massive fireworks display going on over Macys.

The second incident was the manhunt for Brian Nichols, who shot and killed a judge and some other people in Atlanta. In this scenario, I worried that he may be winging his way to Memphis, carjacking his way here, to our neighborhood.

Because of this, I wouldn't go to Schnucks on a late night shopping mission.

My waffles had to be eaten without syrup.

*

Brian Nichols has since been captured, and I have now purchased syrup.

Let the celebration waffles be golden brown, drenched in syrup, and tasty as hell!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

And you wonder why I came to America?

I have enjoyed this week. It's been Spring Break from Law School for Hannah, a chance to be together. Below is a little list of the small things that have made life good this week, that have made me glad I came to America:

- catfish and fries at the Half Shell
- the arrival and installation of a Tivo box. this allows you to pause and rewind Live TV, perfect for talking over plot details and clues while watching CSI
- Michael Jackson appearing in court in his pyjamas. i would've enjoyed this spectacle wherever in the universe i was, but watching it live here on Court TV was a joyful thing
- working on my writing. inventing an Ireland that is a mix of memory and fantasy is proving a fun game. it would still be good if Ian D. answered my query on the names of the bones in the human foot, though (come on, Ian!)
- the books that have arrived for me from ebay. this week there has been such good stuff as Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, and Cities of the Red Night. i am still waiting for my used Amazon book on the Japanese practice of chindogu, "tools that exist at the edge of reason"

Here is an example of Chindogu, the backscratcher T-Shirt, with its 'itch-locator grid'. The person scratching can say, "I'm scratching F5 and you can say, 'Hmm, try F7'"


Thursday, March 10, 2005

And you wonder why I left England?

I was super-staggered today, when I discovered that the Royal Mail have issued commemorative stamps of Charles and Camilla, to mark the adultering, future Head of the Anglican Church, and Defender of Faiths, impending union with Camilla Parker-Bowles, who was herself married during their affair (the cuckold held on until 1995).

And here they are, the smiling couple, just before having their feedbags attached for a well-earned supper of oats and sunflower seeds.



There have been some inventive solutions, worthy of pataphysics, to the question of hawking old Charles and Diana merchandise at the present time.

"For those who have failed to clear their crockery cupboards of redundant royal mementos from Prince Charles's first marriage, there are also opportunities to make money. Among them is the website www.throneout.com, offering a "Charles and Diana Mug Conversion" guide, which advises putting a Camilla Parker Bowles sticker over Diana's face."

Anyway, as the Royal Mail hasn't really done the job, Extreme Unction has taken up the challenge and have come up with this beautiful set of 4 stamps that really captures the swirling emotions and events surrounding this prospective union.

For those, needing help:

Pic 1 - Paris Car Crash of Princess Diana
Pic 2- Harry in his Nazi outfit
Pic 3 & 4 - The Happy Horses



(P.S. If anyone wants to send me the Charles and Camilla stamps from England, please email me)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What gender is my brain?



Your Brain is 60.00% Female, 40.00% Male
Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve


I usually steer clear of these quizzes, for the self-important reason that I prefer not to appear on any silly scale of measurement, as I hold on firmly to the belief that I CANNOT be measured, that I am simply not like the poisonous mass of subhumans who surround me on this wretched planet! (I think maybe it's a part of every man's psyche to want to Rule the World)... anyway, this quiz I took, as I suspected the female part of my brain would win, and I wanted to chuckle publicly at the result, rather than have it printed on a T-Shirt and walk around waiting for men to thump me.

The bigger question remains, not what gender is my brain, but What Planet do I come from???

Monday, March 07, 2005

Interview with Extreme Unction #1

Just as blogging means you don't need to wait for approval to be published, why wait for a critical reception to get the interview process started? So today, here is an interview with myself, that features my friend Hari putting the questions.



Q - What are you trying to achieve with your blog?

I hate the word 'blog' and I'll never come round to its charms, if it has any. It reminds me of mud-encrusted New Age travelers, dancing in a field. Anyway, I think there's a difference between why I started writing my blog, and the reason I write in it now.

And that would be, that at the beginning, there was no audience. I had just started a new phase of my life, leaving England for the first time, and I had two aims, to document life in Ireland, of which my search for love was one component, and I started out writing about that, and to establish a consistent tone, basically by doing a lot of writing.

There was fun from the start, but as I received positive feedback, I came round to the idea that there was a tiny audience, and so i became more of a performing monkey. And every now and then, I pause, back up, and get serious for a time. But I always wind up being a performing monkey again. It's something of a tragedy!

Q - You're writing often involves itself with writing. This offers a context within a history of writing. Do you consider yourself a great writer?

I doubt very much that I am a great writer. I am more of a barnacle on the hull of great literature. No-one is going to enter the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame marketing themselves as an Elvis impersonator, and I'm in a similar situation, minus the jumpsuit. Maybe I'll become an instantly recognisable fraud, that wouldn't be so bad.

Q - You often take on people such as your recent Fighting of the Duke of Gloucester in your blog, often taking them down a notch or two. What kind of person would seek to take you down a notch?

Well, firstly, why do I feel a fight is worthwhile. I find authority in all its forms a huge annoyance, basically. I started out as a cynic and as time has worn on, maybe I've mellowed about 000.1%, to where I can accept that people may find themselves in positions of authority, but i still can't imagine myself living a life like that. My recurring nightmares are life in a prison camp or being drafted into the military. Of course, it does flow from this problem with authority that I "fight the power" by making use of the power of writing, so there is a paradox of some sort, but I wouldn't look to bore myself or anyone else with trying to uncover the details. And it's true that i prefer my heroes to have lived in semi-detached houses, or, even better, a terrace (a grim Northern one, not a Georgian affair in Chelsea.)

As regards who would seek to take me down a notch, well, those Irish women were certainly trying their best.

Q - Should everybody be encouraged to write or express themselves creatively?

Personally, I don't believe writers (or anyone else) should have hegemony over who writes and who doesnt. There was a critic (I have checked and cannot find this person's name), who recently called for poetry to be "left to the professionals". I am not inclined to this view, particularly having grown up in Britain, it's easy to see that literary reputation is forged along the lines of existing power. As someone who believes that society is radically self-serving and unjust, that social background consistently overwhelms individual merit, and is drawn to accounts of poverty and struggle, I would have to say that if i was going to encourage any group NOT to write, it would be the Western European middle-classes - as everyone has already heard their trials ad inifinitum. They drown out everyone else. As a start, I'm willing to put up a prize fund of 10 US dollars for the best response to the Question - What is Ian McEwan for? (send Essays to pinhut@gmail.com)


Q - The internet has provided writers like you with a vast audience and perhaps a voice that they previously didn't have. The power shift from publishing houses, agents and editors to the writer themselves is almost complete. Would you agree?

Firstly, there is an enormous difference between a potentially vast audience and the audience a writer has. Maybe only 30 or 40 people read my rubbish. I don't think the internet is making a huge difference, I can't think of anyone who is critically respected or a bestselling author who forged their reputation on the internet.

Also, I think Harry Potter casts his huge demonic shadow over this argument. I see the 20th century as largely everyone reading the same book, the book of existing power relations, yes it had different covers, and was supposedly written by different people, and there were some brief diversions, but by and large everyone in the West was reading the same book. The 21st century will be the Age of Harry Potter, it will devour world literature, and become the only book you can buy, and will be sold with a hundred thousand different covers (they already have child/stupid adult versions) – until it becomes dictionary, encyclopaedia, telephone directory, and bible.

Q - Over the past 2 years you have travelled widely and settled in various locations. Are there places that are easier to write in (whether its rage they inspire or something else) than others?

I am dealing with this day by day. I am drawn very much to writing about Ireland, despite only having spent a brief time there. It was the first place I really felt at home. Before leaving Britain, i'd always had my heart set on some Naked Lunch style demolition of the English class system, you know, the massed ranks of council estate dwellers taking up arms and burning down Buckingham Palace, depositing man traps in the local Habitat, refusing to serve anyone who had heard of Sebastian Faulks or had tasted ciabatta (or worse, made their own), etc.

Having left England behind, i find that I still burn with a sense of injustice, but my lighter side has come through. Now, trying to put together a serious literary project, I find myself deprived of England as an easy target, something i know basically everything about in a sense, and writing about these new places, Dublin and the US - and not wanting to make a great show of my ignorance... my hope is by the time i find an audience for my writing that my knowledge of Ireland and the US will have caught up sufficiently, either by direct experience or through reading/research, but I would never satirise them too heavily, as an outsider, it's just not an easy thing to dip into. I think that's why I've become more concerned about literary matters and drawing on history.

Q - Do you think younger generations should pick up the cultural baton from people such as Hunter S. Thompson and Gang of Four, or should we get to work on an immortality potion/weapon.

What a choice! The thought of an immortality potion getting into the hands of Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, unless it was accompanied by a great urge to indulge in intergalactic space travel, I would be against its development purely on those grounds. Hunter Thompson is an interesting case, he was an uncompromising figure but was also a wish fulfilment for a generation of basically conservative journalists who didn't have to raise hell because Thompson did it for them. I don't know if his kind of energy and outlaw behaviour can exist as close to the mainstream today as back in the 60s and 70s. Would i like to see anyone try? Not really. I appreciate the derangement of the senses, but that is not the Hunter Thompson i connect with, that was basically a device to conceal the deep analysis he worked on his subjects.

I think Hunter Thomspon will have his reward, and become a part of the outlaw myth.We all love a good outlaw, but the outlaw potential of a contemporary writer isn't reduced by the passing of an older one. As for Gang of Four, again, the message is great, but i would have to be listening to something with the same ethos and commitment that did not simply imitate their sound.

Q - What book do you wish you had written yourself?

Probably The Joy of Sex, if only for the thought of all the research. Also, Harry Potter, I would've killed him off at the end of the first sentence, and left the remaining 200 pages blank.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Blogger wants your money part 4

Finally, after being vaccinated (my arm still hurts, but as it hasn't swollen up to six times its size, I figure nothing terrible is happening), and feeling terrible (the migraine! the migraine!), and being so lacking in motivation that I watched the Jerry Springer Show... after all that, it's here, the blogpost no-one's been talking about, the final part of my fictional reminisces about weird modes of transport.

There is a difference here, as I am not about to pretend that I have ever rollerskated. I can't rollerskate, skateboard, snakeboard, or do rollerblading. There is something about myself and wearing wheels on my feet that just doesn't hang together. I also weigh 190 pounds, and that's a lot of body mass to send plummeting to the sidewalk. Oh, and I am 32 now, too, and married. I think, just as my dreams of becoming an international sports star are behind me, that any thoughts of skating, too, have been consigned to history. Even thoughts of pretending I have rollerskated make me feel queasy.

Not that I ever really wanted to rollerskate, despite watching those brilliant roller disco sequences on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.


There he is (never knew he was Irish - This picture will be trotted out again for St Patrick's Day, no doubt).

There is another reason I can never get into rollerskating, and that is because there is just something less than manly about it, in my eyes. Perhaps I've seen too many clips of men with moustaches, wearing tight shorts, rollerskating backwards in Central Park. I don't know where this gay dream of frictionless surfaces may come from (!) but a quick spot of research has unearthed some interesting subcultural stuff - events such as the Slide for Pride games, and super-specific gay performances, such as Greg Wittrock's Whorita, which is described as...

"Cross-dressing show program in the gay drag tradition, utilizing a mask and a wig to Donna Summer's "Love to Love You." Wittrock delighted audiences with this number at the gay-oriented Skates of Pride in Manhattan in 1997, and shocked them at the mainstream American Open in Chicago in 1998."

I also unearthed this brilliant photograph. Now, I am no expert on these matters, so anyone who can explain the cultural references and life choices that lead to a man in drag, on ice skates, holding a little stiff chap above his head, is welcome to get in touch.


With this deeply resonant image, Extreme Unction hereby concludes its series on weird forms of transport.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

You are Invited

I have been asked to contribute a series of articles for "People without Knowledge" and so I have offered my own thoughts on the origin of paper. Here is the first draft.

A Future History of Paper for People Without Knowledge

Most histories of paper begin in the past, while this history of paper begins in the future. For that is where paper comes from. I won’t explain just now in difficult scientific language any exact reasons for this contention. Has knowing difficult scientific language ever been essential to the business of walking around or carrying logs or growing food? Scientific language has never been essential. Look, there is the sun in the sky. Now, should I want to trouble humanity, to travel to the Sun in a metal cylinder, yes, then maybe a few explanations would be a good idea.

One person is sure to ask, “How can we fly like an eagle?”
And another, “How far away is the sun?”
And finally, “Is it okay if Nathan comes, I know he is depressed right now, but he’s really a great guy. I’m sure travelling to the Sun would give the man a boost.”

So science, the great persuader. The confidence man is carrying a test tube and wearing a white coat and reinforced glasses, “in case acid explodes.” Acid would not be exploding in sterile rooms if the confidence man could just hold back and regulate their behaviour. Look around you. How many of your friends have made acid explode? How many great poets have made acid explode? Very few. When did you ever read a tremendous sentence, only to discover that the next sentence was missing, and in its place, just the words, “My genius ends here, I don’t know how to make acid explode.”

A thing to remember

- The imagination requires no explosions

Primo Levi wore a white coat and wrote about the Holocaust. He was also capable of manufacturing his own paper. As such, he constitutes an anomaly, but remember, the essential message he states was “The future prevailed.” This is where the homemade candles and paper came from.

Not everyone was so blessed with being anomalous.

Italo Calvino wrote like someone who stayed late after school, possibly for fear of the walk home. It’s generally accepted that his lungs were not first rate, and that the walk home took him past the house of a couple of big boys, big boys who thought it was the simplest thing in the world to stop Italo and push him around. So he stayed late and made friends with someone who could add up. That’s how these movements begin. Later, there was a meal and the five year old Italo stood on a chair and recited multiplication tables, all the way to 13 x 13 = 169. Such is the nature of precocity. But what do those stories that feature some maths, learned because of fear of big boys, because the one equation he refused to confront was Big Boy x 2 / Italo = Pulped Face and Broken Satchel Strap - what does it help us with?

Finally, Italo Calvino had no idea how to build a sunrocket, and this is what damns him. I doubt he could even create a bucketful of the hydrogen fuel that such a craft would employ. Yet here was a man who would lecture people, quite publicly, such was his vanity. And all because he could sit around and draw a diagram and then write a story. And then point at the diagram and the story and say something that most people struggled to make sense of or even remember. This is why he published so many books, because everyone so quickly forgot what he said. I am not seeking to diminish Italo Calvino, merely to return him to his proper place, he had an ability, worthy no doubt of some admiration, the same way we may admire people who can rollerskate backwards.

Now, leaving aside Italo Calvino, a human footnote, it is incumbent to show just how much paper there is in the world. It should not take more than a few minutes.

A thing to remember

- For those without knowledge, paper is equivalent to energy

Firstly, the amount of paper in the present never changes. Paper is basically the same as everything else, in that whatever one imagines can be rendered in paper. For instance, the paper aeroplane. It is little known that the first commercial aircraft were made completely from paper, the mystery of the paper engine being developed by British scientists during the Great War. Later, it was decided not to mention that aeroplanes were made from paper, as the uninformed passenger may wonder about the effect of rain upon the paper plane. They would not understand that rain and paper are equivalent, that the two effectively cancel one another out on contact (this is why it appears to be dry inside, even in winter).

Anyone who has stood on the Giant’s Causeway will immediately grasp the import of this (provided they were facing East and hadn’t been drinking). That is, at the start of the universe, there was an amount of paper that made up the very fabric of everything.

It was Bobby Darin’s contention that it was only a paper moon. And in 1952, that contention was most likely truth. Whether the trees were made from muslin, I leave that to others to determine. My own educated guess is that the trees were made of wood. Wood is the only thing we can spare in our world to readily resume its path to the past as paper. This is one reason why trees grow so much taller than everything else, particularly in the tropical rainforessts, where no-one can read or write.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

If You Let Me Stay

We finally completed the paperwork for my application to reside in the USA today. We had a celebration at Huey's, toasting with Diet Cokes and burgers the fact that I do not have syphilis, gonorrhea, or HIV/AIDS. My lungs also appear to be normal, but I do have a number of chickenpox scars. Other than that, I should prove a fine catch for the nation. Yes, you guessed it, the results of my INS physical examination came back today.


I had the desperate urge to shout "I am NORMAL! I am HEALTHY! I don't have AIDS!" as we drove through the afternoon traffic.

A happy day.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

We interrupt this discourse on weird transport...

Yes, another interruption. I'm surprised that my adventure on a recumbent bicycle inspired so little comment action, perhaps the world was dazed by its stupidity.

Anyway, today, I mention that there are 3 things by Extreme Unction in Issue #2 of this online literary adventure, www.subter.com - for my rubbish, scroll down to the bottom or click here if you can't contain yourself.

*** Claypot has alerted me to the fact that I have spelled Caribbean wrong AGAIN! So for Carriban, read Caribbean, and Lord, forgive me, but I just cannot remember how to spell the damn word.