Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The intensity of the street light outside the window gave my room the illusion of monochrome. The harsh brightness cast uneven shadows, jagged and sharp like the dirt and grime which created them. There was no furniture nor were there adornments on the walls. Jack Mecosta sold whatever arrangement I had set up and left nothing, not even a rug to bid farewell on.

I would love to claim I was caught but surprise, but it would be a lie. In total honesty, I was more shocked my presence was tolerated at all, more so for as long as it has been.

I’m an artist, to begin with. And I became an artist because I couldn’t pay my rent anyway; I figured an artist has a slightly better reputation than a vagrant, and like all else I endeavor I was totally incorrect. Contempt and artists go together like mistrust and lawyers. Jack wasn’t bad, though. Acceptance would be too strong a word, and understanding would be wholly inaccurate. I suppose the best summation would be he had a combination of intelligence and nonchalantness that made him amiable enough to tolerate but too distant to really care much for.

I like to paint and I like to take photographs. I know they are not the most rare of interests and I don’t pretend to be more talented than the amateur hobbiest or every modern sculpture I can recall, yet that doesn’t take the joy out of either. My love is not swayed regardless of how many share that love. Those who forsake the majority for its majority’s sake are fools. They are no more intelligent than the wind, carrying itself from high areas of concentration to low.

In the center of what was no longer my room was an upturned paint bucket. The sharp contrast from the street lamp outside made it impossible to judge the paint’s color. For all I know, it could have simply been black. It felt fitting enough.

I should have grabbed what little I had, thrown it over my shoulder and split. Jack left a red duffel bag, not my own but what appeared to be his only parting gift, outside the door. It certainly would have dulled the shock of being evicted, had I not expected it for some time. Like I said, I couldn’t pay the rent anyway. But I didn’t leave, at least not then. The day had been exhausting and my limbs were weak from lack of any supper, or for that matter, lunch. Instead of turning my back on yet another lost home, I shut the door behind me and sat down on the upturned bucket, burying my head in my hands.

The street light outside was blinding but there were no shades to block the brightness. There was nothing besides the dusty window and the empty, upturned paint bucket. And me, of course.

The morning had started as so many before it with the rise of the sun outside and the fading memories of the night’s dreams still swirling about behind my eyes. I yawned not like a waking lion but more as a waking cub, smacking my lips together to get rid of the terrible morning mouth everyone seems to awake with.

There was no shower nor bath in my apartment, so instead I went downstairs, changed into one of my five separate outfits I store in piles beside my mattress (there was no cot or bed, just a single mattress on the floor), washed my face with hand soap and ran water through my shaggy brown hair. I climbed back up the metal, clanging stairs again to my apartment, grabbed several cheap canvases splattered in paints and charcoals and ink, the previous day’s drunken masterpieces, and dragged my tired bones out the door, back down the stairs, and out to the harsh sunlight of outdoor life.

The docks are infested with others like me and unlike me and unlike any others I’ve met before, most of whom are struggling artists or beggars or the occasional street performer. I enjoy admiring some of the other painters and photographers who sell their works around me. All are poor, most are homeless, some are very talented, and all of them sell their art for prices low enough for even me to consider buying a photo or two. Once, a rich, professional painter bought the entire dock for an evening to exhibit his latest collection, where hundreds of people came and dozens paid thousands upon thousands for smudgy oils of nude women dancing with various animals. The visitors all called him a genius and a master and the artist seemed to believe just that. Personally, I think he just sucked at painting and was rich and egotistical enough to get away with it.

Reny is the closest vender to me. He sells black and white photographs of people on the beach, usually with an obvious piece of litter or trash somewhere in the shot. An observer once asked him what statement he was trying to make, and if all his photos were just snapshots of trash and scum. Reny’s response was of course, which is why all his pictures are of tourists. The man didn’t get it and walked away confusedly.

I think Reny might live either on or under the dock. Maybe even somewhere nearby on the beach. His hands were always wrapped in bandages, not thickly layered like a makeshift cast but seemed more like white gloves at first glance, giving his fingers freedom to move. And no matter how early I arrived or how late I stayed, he’d be sitting there, arms folded and hood raised over his dirty face, jeans caked with old mud, his pictures surrounding him like a cursed statuettes guarding an ancient mummy, bandages and all.

I liked Reny. He was funny but didn’t talk too much. I’ll miss him the most, I think, of all I’ve grown to know here in the past several months. The dock was nice, even though there was no covering and the sun would beat us down with its heavy rays, feeling as though it was pinning us to the hard, water-stained wood, and even though the smell of low tide would never leave your nose even after laying down in bed the next day. In fact, the more I think of it, the more I realize that perhaps it was the people that truly made the dock nice. People like Reny, not like those he captured in his camera, which I had never actually seen him with. Sometimes I wondered if he even owned one or if he was so in tune with the world around him he could take his senses and make them tangible and sell them for seventeen dollars apiece to fat tourists and the few locals who regularly visited us dockers.

I suppose I shouldn’t use “us” anymore, since it’s time for me to move on. I can’t, though. I’ve been sitting here, telling myself this is just the same as all the other times I’ve been kicked out, starting with my father kicking me out at the age of eighteen for not graduating college, or the millions of apartments and bars and public parks I’ve been shooed out like a common rodent. But the more I reassure myself it’s all the same, it comes to me harder and harder, like the accusatory flame of the sun above or the harsh reality of the street light beyond my, well, not mine anymore, but the window beside me. The voice is my head is screaming now, telling me it’s not the same. I won’t be able to live anywhere else. I love the dock, Reny, the other riff raff selling their artistic wares, all of it.

So, I haven’t moved yet. I may one day, when the light outside flickers and dies like a burnt out match. But not yet. The flesh around my bones has withered away in what was once my room but still I refuse to move on. These whitened bones still refuse to move and the artist in me refuses to die. I know one day Jack will sell the room to some other poor soul and he, too, will send me on my way. But until then, I doubt if I’ll ever get off of this bucket nor escape from the cruel light outside. I have no money, but that’s alright. I don’t worry about dying, artists like me are used to going without food. And it’s not like I have anywhere else I can go to.
fter all, I became an artist because I couldn’t pay my rent anyway.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Critique #1

“Hey there sailor…” by Jessica Douglas is a painting done in the year 2007. It features a anglerfish-like monster with a nude mermaid as a tail luring a ship of unsuspecting sailors to their fishy doom.

The medium is watercolor on canvas, with the colors looking rather layered for that type of paint. It has a soft, humorous aesthetic, its hues of blue and green making the viewer feel happy and preserves the tone of the piece even though the subject matter involves the death and destruction of an entire ship and its crew. The focus of the piece is the green and scaly creature, a strange mix of an anglerfish and a bullfrog hiding in the bottom left corner.

The piece is not designed to be taken seriously, and was admitted by the artist as merely a humorous dream she had painted onto a canvas. Art does not always have to be profoundly deep to be well made.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Narrative #4

The young gardener felt a cramp build in his raised right arm. His thumb was extended out over the road, pointing off behind him. He had been standing in the same spot for hours and desperately needed a ride home. He would take a ride in the pack of a dirty pickup truck at this point.

His dark hair hung in dirty locks over his grimed face, sweaty after a hard days work. The night sky was thick and starless, the moon hidden behind a saturation of clouds. It even seemed the crickets were noiselessly suffocated in the humid solidity of the evening air.

The gardener leaned his body on his large, industrial chainsaw he used for work. It was half the size of his body, and the gardener was not a small man. It could saw through an oak in under a minute and was one of his most prized workman’s tools. It was a bright yellow and would shine in the light, which was terribly lacking at the moment.

A car, a van from what the gardener could gather, was about to pass. He looked hopefully at the approaching headlights, gesticulating his hitchhiker’s thumb rapidly back and forth, and for a moment the van appeared to slow, break lights lighting for a brief moment. The moment, however, was indeed brief, and the van sped back up and out of sight over a hill behind him. The gardener let out another sigh. Why would no one give him a ride? He thought he looked pretty legit.

A motorcyclist stood not two hundred yards away from the gardener. Actually, it would be a stretch to refer to him as a motorcyclist, for his motorcycle lied in a smoking heap by a tree a dozen or so feet back. His head light was slowly waning, the bulb needing to be replaced and the corner he stood at appeared to come out of nowhere. His face was scraped rather badly because of the bark of the tree but overall he was unhurt. He had a large metal bat he was using as a makeshift crutch while he waited for some help to drive by.

He had been at the local biker’s softball game and for the first time since he had been playing, his team, the Devil’s Rejects, had finally beat out the Road Demons in seven innings. He had even hit the homerun which brought his team victory. The Road Demons even walked over and shook his hands to congratulate him. Such nice people, those Road Demons.

Up the steep hill in front of him, he saw a car, perhaps a truck or van of some sort, climb over the apex of the bump. He smiled a bloody, toothy smile as he swung the bat over his shoulder. For the second time that night, the van began to slow, but only for a moment. It quickly curved down the left hand turn and sped off into the night’s darkness. The biker was crestfallen.

He thought he looked pretty legit.

Leaning on a large metal sign, the man who looked like a business man stood nonchalantly, arms crossed in front of his chest. His tie was slightly uneven but besides that there was not one thing amiss on his body, from his well polished shoes to his perfectly slicked back hair. In his hands was a large black briefcase.

The man who looked like a business man decided that, being such a lovely night, he might as well kill some people before heading off to bed. The sign above him, large and in all capital letters, warned, “PRISON AREA: DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS”. He occasionally straightened out his stolen suit or let out a tired yawn and figured if a car full of dimwits didn’t pull over soon he was going to forget this whole murder business for the day and rent a motel room. He may even be able to kill a prostitute if he spies one on his way home. That was always a treat.

Just as he decided tonight was not the night, headlights emerged around the corner to his left. He smiled, briefly thanked the Gods above, and slowly stuck out his thumb.

The van’s break lights flashed on for a second, then flashed off. However, this time they turned on once more and stayed alit as the van slowly stopped at the side of the road.

The smiling murderer who looked like a business man picked up his suitcase, which contained several sharp instruments that could to really nasty things to nice people, and approached the van, leaving behind his post under the large metal sign. Out of the open window, he heard the sound of a bickering couple.

“You know,” came an annoying female voice, high pitched and rather whiney, “they say it’s not a good idea to pick up hitchhikers. You saw how sketchy those other dudes looked.”

As the man opened the back door of the van, the man responded, “Don’t worry, babe. This guy seems pretty legit.”

Narrative #3

The aged stack of glowing televisions casted a jaundiced glow on the boy’s body leaning against the brick wall of an abandoned electronics store. Worried French fell out of an older gentleman’s mustachiod lips, hair looking messed and untended and completely unsuited for a news anchor on live television, his voice like a cheap radio in a car shaking and stuttering over rocky terrain. But none of this concerned the body of the dead young man; in fact, he did not mind the old man’s repeating commentary at all. Someone at the broadcasting booth managed to set a loop of the same recycled message before the Grippe took his ragged breath and was only playing now for the hundredth or thousandth or millionth time.

The television’s warnings were of a standard, simple affair; do not panic, remain calm, the sky is falling and we need the petty crowd to remain in the streets so they don’t notice the better of society sneaking off underground. Standard disaster business.

The emaciated remains of what was once a boy named Nathan concerned itself as one of the luckier victims of the Grippe. For reasons unknown, his immune system took one look of the invading virus, threw down its arms, and shouted, “Take the bastard if you’d like, we quit!” and the virus immediately obliged by striking him down quickly and comparatively painlessly. Compared to the others, of course, who got the pleasure of drowning in their own mucus if their throat didn’t swell and close on its own, of course. Everything is about comparisons.

Across the empty street in front of Nathan’s propped corpse, another body was sprawled across the concrete. She lied face down, arms and legs awkwardly splayed across the ground as if attempting to hug the entire city. Or strangle it. He figured, based off what was left of her, she must have been beautiful at one point. Of course, death has a way of taking a chisel to what we hold dear and then stomping on it like a mad bull, laughing crazily while He does it.

The sacred remains of Nathan attempted to talk to her, but it proved near impossible. Her face was buried in the hard ground, and all that came out was some muffled reply. No breath left his or her lips, being dead and all, but the dead have a way of talking to one another in ways few understand.

With the suddenness of a bomb detonating, the nervous old man caught in an infinite loop of mass deceit flickered off for a moment to be replaced by harsh static the next. If Nathan could still feel, he was positive it would have quickly given him a migraine. One of the many perks being dead, he imagined.

A fat crow lazily hopped by, its fragile twiggy legs barely supporting its body. The Grippe was of no concern for the local wildlife. The birds and scavengers were becoming obese and lethargic, food now being in great abundance without those pesky people hoarding it all away. Nathan felt no resentment for them, though. Pick up where the losers left off has been the way of the world since the dawn of time, and humans were fools to believe their radios and microwave dinners somehow kept the world on its tilt.

Like a rush of déjà vu, Nathan saw himself as he once way. Blood flowing, heart ticking, motor skills under his almost complete control. There was a faint feeling of remorse but it was mostly pity. It was no different than feeling shame for the beauty of the young woman in front of him melting away in death. There was no point in regretting what was inevitable. He accepted that everyone had to die at some point. The only surprise was that it seemed to come for everyone the same few weeks. One can never predict life any more than they can predict death.

Still, a flash like lightning shot through his still nervous system, and almost clear as the crisp night air, he could picture himself and the little lady across the way. Maybe they had met before, no more than passing one another while rushing to work. Maybe they even spoke once. If they had, he wished he had grabbed her hips and kissed her there, get the chance before the Grippe stole it from them. Of course, in his fantasy, their lips never managed to touch. They always drew closer, yet never touched, like the unending hallway that once haunted his nightmares. If you go half the distance between you and your goal, how many steps would it take to reach it? An infinite, which is a nice way of saying it won’t ever happen, sunshine, pick up the dice and roll again and see if you can get a thirteen.

No, he was not going to reach across the street. Death offered many perks, no more pain, no need for food or drink, no waiting in line for anything, and certainly no nine to five job, if you discount his now permanent guard duty of his empty brick store, window lined with now snowy screens and flickering lights.

A hopeless prayer crossed through his mind and dribbled onto the ground like a fallen dream, a hope that there were people still left alive somewhere, and that they got a chance for one more kiss. A kiss goodbye for mankind, perhaps, or just one more beautiful moment before humanity gets coughed at like a wad of phlegm in the throat of the planet.

And if they did kiss, he hoped they remembered to remove their face masks first. Even the coldness of the Grippe cannot interfere with the love of a simple kiss.

The televisions flickered off.

Narrative #2

The great jester Francois retired with the ingress of nightfall. The air around the great fool appeared to thicken to a viscous fluid, giving his movements grace and keeping his step light. The room was deathly dark, yet the blackest objects were his two eyes, surrounded by a rich mask, blue and gold and heavy on his face.

Francois let out a gentle laugh whilst he danced across his lavish home. Money offered him no concern, evident by the elegance in which his home was decorated and the quality of the fool’s garments he wore, a beautiful mix of red and purple, life and royalty hugging his frame close. The king would want his most favorite fool to live as such, for as the king’s empire continued to grow, so did the fool’s favor in his eyes. The great fool Francois’ mien of mocking majesty entertained the king to hysterics, thus filling Francois pockets to bursting.

“I beg your pardon, friend,” the jester apologized to the darkness of his estate, “the true master fool demanded me to stay late.”

The silence, unsurprisingly, accepted his apology by returning it with still noiselessness.

The bells upon his head jingled in rhythm with the bells on his feet as he skipped towards a single ornate cabinet, a hulking monstrosity of dark wood and elaborate carvings. Its very existence offput even the most gregarious of guests and was avoided out of habit by his many visitors. It was for this exact trait he purchased the terrible thing. There is no secret better kept than one guarded by groundless terror.

“If that man,” he informed the humid darkness, “took the time to look at his own form, he would laugh himself into regicide. I say again, he is the true fool!”
Francois slid open the heavy cabinet, grinning madly.

“Hello, old friend.”

The skull merely returned the jester’s toothy grin, wordless.

He lifted up the boney cranium, holding it in the palm of his hand. Two dark, empty eyes stared back at two equally empty eye sockets.

“That is why I love your company, friend,” he said, “You are a man of few words.”

His laughs carried across the stoic void of Francois’ home, not simply echoing through the open air but instead beating the walls and decorum until they mournfully issuing back the mirror sound of his joy. The great fool twirled about, the ringing bells the only company to his manic laughter, gently placing his long deceased friend upon a red pillow, extravagantly made and totally unused by any living persons, which was placed next to a bottle of wine and two glasses.

Francois lied on his slim belly, his head resting on his hands. With a subtle fluidity he lifted his legs in the air over his back, until they hovered above both his own and the head of his permanent guest.

“Shall you have any wine, this evening, my friend?” Francois asked, grasping the scarlet bottle using only his feet, pouring a glass for both him and his companion. Not a single drop fell onto the tablecloth, though if one did manage escape, staining was not an issue, for the fabric was the same burgundy of the wine.
“Entertaining, no? I believe that fat comedian fermenting in his throne shall be tickled to no end.”

Francois stared into the blankness of the skull’s missing eyes, then said, “You know, it is so difficult to tell when you are amused when you smile so often thusly,” and began to laugh again.

The fool swung his body around, sitting himself up in a more normal manner, grasping the crystal glass. He lifted its rim up to his lips, tipping the contents into his mouth, savoring the taste of the wine as it pleasingly went down his throat, like thin, sweet syrup. Once the glass was again once empty, Francois flung the glass into the air. It spun numerous times, yet without a single glance upwards the jester reached a hand behind his back, catching the glass. He then placed it back on the table besides the dark red bottle.

“What do you think, my comrade?”

The skull rested on the pillow in deathly stillness.

Francois smiled gaily, patting the top of its bone dry head, “It is only because of you I am able to do what normally would terrify me. You bolster me to do what I know should be done.”

A suddenly harsh rain began to pound the world. Far away, Francois heard what could have been the slow rumble of thunder, or perhaps the approach of a billion soldiers in an army’s march.

The fool’s face seemed to drop with the quick departure of his grin, as if the tension of his smile kept his face tied to his skull, and his tone became more solemn.

“Everyday,” he stated, “that tyrannical jelly-man chortles and snorts at silly antics and thinly veiled insults. If I could spit upon him after my routine I would. He deserves no more and much less, my friend.”

Outside, the harsh crack of lightning issued, briefly illuminating his night filled home, yet the bright light offered no reprieve from the stifling uneasiness which was beginning to spread from drapery covered wall to the others.

“For what he did to us. To you. He deserves much, much less.”

Another low rumble rolled across the planet, seeming to shake the very ground.
Francois the great fool leaned over to the skull, placed on its scarlet pedestal of down and fabric, and kissed its crown softly. He leaned over to where its ear once was, and whispered, “Aime, qu'on les loue ou les blame, toujours les grand coeurs aimeront. Joins cette jeunesse de l'âme a la jeunesse de ton front.”

Suddenly, a crash rang out like an accusatory shout. Francois calmly looked towards the large wooden door, where the noise issued.

“Francois the Jester!” came a harshly gruff voice, “Open the door!”

The greatest fool merely reached over and poured himself another glass of wine.
A second crash echoed through his hallowed home as his chamber door crashed to the ground, lying in a heap as if a fallen golemn of wood and metal. Solid soldiers of tinish conformity stood at his stoop. Their armor briefly flashed in the harsh light of a striking bolt from the storm raging.

“Francois the Jester, the king has been slain. There was a bell tied to a lock of his hair. One of your bells, if the hands of the house are correct. Also, on his now still chest laid a crimson rose. Come with us, so we may clear the air of any confusion that you, the great jester, could have any part in this plot.”

Stillness was all that met the Captain’s words, but just as the soldiers began advancing to seize the murderous fool, Francois chimed in, “A rose, you say?”

Humorlessly, the Captain responded, “Yes, upon his chest. Know you anything of this?”

After a final sip of sweet wine, the jester returned, “Yes, and ‘tis a fine parting gift for such a fine actor of majesty.”

“Your jokes have landed you in the noose, fool. We have the king’s murderer, like as not. The people may now rest in peace.”

Laughing as he was led away by the long arm of the deceased monarch, Francois the fallen jester shouted, “It took a fool to save your souls! Dost thou not see the humor in it?” and he continued to laugh until the air was cut out by the firm grasp of the hemp rope which hanged him.

His friend, shrouded in darkness, sat grinning, finding the course of events to be quite entertaining.

To the dead, the world is a funny place.

Narrative #1

When a madman is left to his own vices, he paces like he intends to outrun something terrible. When a man is left alone for too long, he begins to grow mad. Therefore, Jack was a madman, and indeed he was pacing.

He looked towards the solar powered clock at an unhealthy rate. When he descended to the fallout shelter, it was exactly 2:47 p.m. As he looked at its face again, he noted it was now exactly 2:47. As it turns out, solar power, no matter how noble a cause, becomes wholly useless when the sun is cowering behind several inches of industrial grade steel. And, more than likely, several hundred rads of lethal radiation. Still, he felt proud that he had sought after only the most environmentally safe materials and electronics. He was truly concerned what those green house gasses he had heard about on T.V. could do to the earth.

His legs were screaming for a reprieve from the endless pacing. He walked to the far back corner, where an almost complete living room was set up, television and coffee table included, along with the standard grey leather couch and loveseat. He flicked on the television, and was greeted cordially by a blast of static. Antenna must be knocked loose.

He looked at the clock again. It was 2:47.

He ran his hand over his almost nonexistent gray hair, a nervous tick that was more than likely responsible for his baldness. He wished he had remembered a few more hats as he made his mad dash to the shelter. He did not wish any of the survivors to be greeted with a wide grin and a blindingly shiny head. First impressions and all.

With a step as steady as a warplane balanced on a pinhead, he navigated across the fields of tiled linoleum. Jack, not without some struggling, opened the great white refrigerator opposite his living room. He was greeted by a chill of cool air and the unsettling sight of empty shelves. He had intended on storing all of his perishables, had in fact spent most of his money on a generator solely for the cooling monstrosity, but he was so exhausted lugging the television down the stairs, he instead went back inside for a drink. Clearly he had simply forgotten about it.

With a sigh, he let go of the door handle, as the fridge slammed itself shut. He had a habit of leaving the fridge open, so he had the auto-shut feature installed. Not that it would do him much good down now, of course.

He glanced at the clock again. 2:47.

With a step as steady as a fault line, he raced to the kitchen-like set up on the wall adjacent to the television. He supposed it made more sense to place it nearer to the fridge, but he heard from a friend it wasn’t as pleasing to the eye. It wasn’t “fung shwee” or something like that. He wasn’t sure what the word meant, but it was not his job to question, and he did not want to risk looking ignorant. The bald head made him feel silly enough as it was.

The cabinet was lined with Spam. Months and months worth of Spam. He detested Spam, and weighed the pros and cons of starving to death to consuming nothing but Spam for weeks on end. He found the balance tipping slightly in the favor of starving.

The clock still read 2:47.

With a step as steady as nuclear combat, he approached the last of the four white walls, which held for him no solace and a single steel door.

Inside was the bedroom.

Well, in actuality, it was more of just a room, since in order to fall under the definition of a “bedroom”, he assumed it required an actual bed, which was sorely lacking in his. He smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand with enough force to echo throughout his new home. He had asked Jeff Olson, his next door neighbor, to help move the bed from inside to the shelter, but he claimed he was busy and would come next weekend.

He cursed under his breath, then realizing there was no one around to be insulted nor could the echoes penetrate the thick walls, began shouting and stomping his feet. After a dignified session of tantruming, he fell to the floor, pounding his fists as if trying to knock on the roof of hell to inquire about their living arrangements.

With a move as steady as death and taxes, Jack crawled on all fours out the door, like a child playing soldier. He imagined the neighbors, especially that fool, Jeff, seeing him in such a state. They’d probably insult him behind his back, laugh at him, call him a baby. He hoped they laughed until they wet themselves, so he could get the chance to call them a baby. That would show them.

Unfortunately, it was also after that thought he realized he never installed any plumbing. When it came to basic and disgusting bodily functions, he tried not to think about them too much. He filed that thought under the rest of the issues that may come back as troublesome later.

He pulled his skinny body along the clean floor and ascended to the couch, where like the fallen hero he knew deep down he was, he pulled his knees to his chest and put his thumb to his mouth and began to cry.

He blamed Jeff and he blamed the government, ignoring his past friendship and the unimportant fact that he had voted for the elected party for every election he could remember. He blamed the fridge for being empty and he blamed the Spam for tasting so God awful, which was really the only thing that deserved the damning, and he blamed the fallout shelter for being incomplete and the stupid clock for not moving an inch since he had been down there.

He heard on the television not long before the bombs began to drop it took around six weeks for nuclear fallout to clear out of the air.

It was 2:47.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Infinite Jest

"What metro Boston AAs are trite but correct about is that both destiny's kisses and its dope-slaps illustrate an individual person's basic personal powerlessness over the really meaningful events in his life: i.e. almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of Psst that you usually can't even hear because you're in such a rush to or from something important you've tried to engineer." - David Foster Wallace


- by Sam, Photography

The Cola Wars

- Stephan Black, Photography

Grim Humor

Amanda Mae, Photography


- Finbar Skullivan, photography

Face It With Humor

From left to right, "For Beer", "For Wine", "At least we're honest", "For marijuana"

By Edward Brewick, 2009, Photography, Black and White

+Dark Humor

- By Sahraw Sahraw, photography

Free Soup

- Baird Hoffmire, Mixed Media

The Good Soldier Švejk - Jaroslav Hašek

"'And so they've killed our Ferdinand,' said the charwoman to Mr Švejk, who had left military service years before, after having been finally certified by an army medical board as an imbecile, and now lived by selling dogs — ugly, mongrel monstrosities whose pedigrees he forged.

Apart from this occupation he suffered from rheumatism and was at this very moment rubbing his knees with Elliman's embrocation.

'Which Ferdinand, Mrs Müller?' he asked, going on with the massaging. 'I know two Ferdinands. One is a messenger at Průša's, the chemist's, and once by mistake he drank a bottle of hair oil there. And the other is Ferdinand Kokoška who collects dog manure. Neither of them is any loss.'

'Oh no, sir, it's his Imperial highness, the Archduke Ferdinand, from Konopiště, the fat churchy one.'"

Kurt Vonnegut Biography

"Writer, novelist. Born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kurt Vonnegut is considered one of the most influential American novelists of the twentieth century. He blended literature with science fiction and humor, the absurd with pointed social commentary. Vonnegut created his own unique world in each of his novels and filled them with unusual characters, such as the alien race known as the Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).

After studying at Cornell University from 1940 to 1942, Kurt Vonnegut enlisted the U.S. Army. He was sent by the army to what is now Carnegie Mellon University to study engineering in 1943. The next year, he served in Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After this battle, Vonnegut was captured and became a prisoner of war. He was in Dresden, Germany, during the Allied firebombing of the city, and saw the complete devastation caused by it. Vonnegut himself only escaped harm because he, along with other POWs, was working in an underground meat locker making vitamins.

Soon after his return from the war, Kurt Vonnegut married his high school girlfriend, Jane Marie Cox. The couple had three children. He worked several jobs before his writing career took off, including newspaper reporter, teacher, and public relations employee for General Electric. The Vonneguts also adopted his sister's three children after her death in 1958.

Showing his talent for satire, his first novel, Player Piano, took on corporate culture and was published in 1952. More novels followed, including The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), and Cat's Cradle (1963). War remained a recurring element in his work and one of his best-known works, Slaughterhouse-Five, draws some of its dramatic power from his own experiences. The narrator, Billy Pilgrim, is a young soldier who becomes a prisoner of war and works in an underground meat locker, not unlike Vonnegut, but with a notable exception. Pilgrim begins to experience his life out of sequence and revisits different times repeatedly. He also has encounters with the Tralfamadorians. This exploration of the human condition mixed with the fantastical struck a cord with readers, giving Vonnegut his first best-selling novel.

Emerging a new literary voice, Kurt Vonnegut became known for his unusual writing style — long sentences and little punctuation — as well as his humanist point of view. He continued writing short stories and novels, including Breakfast of Champions (1973), Jailbird (1979), and Deadeye Dick (1982). Vonnegut even made himself the subject of Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage (1981).
Despite his success, Kurt Vonnegut wrestled with his own personal demons. Having struggled with depression on and off for years, he attempted to take his own life in 1984. Whatever challenges he faced personally, Vonnegut became a literary icon with a devoted following. He counted writers such as Joseph Heller, another WWII veteran, as his friends.

His last novel was Timequake (1997), which became a best seller despite receiving mixed reviews. Kurt Vonnegut chose to spend his later years working on nonfiction. His last book was A Man Without a Country, a collection of biographical essays. In it, he expressed his views on politics and art as well as shed more light on his own life.

Kurt Vonnegut died on April 12, 2007, at the age of 84 as a result of head injuries sustained in a fall at his home in New York a few weeks earlier. He is survived by his second wife, photographer Jill Krementz, and their adopted daughter Lily as well as his six children from his first marriage.

© 2009 A&E Television Networks. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Famous Last Words

by Cris, Charcoal

Unattended Children...

- By Anna Chaos

Oranges Part III

- By Mike Draven, Photography

"Dude, your fuckin' face fell off!" - Author quote

Criticism #2

"Heathers is a super-smart black comedy about high school politics and teenage suicide that showcases a host of promising young talents.

Daniel Waters' enormously clever screenplay blazes a trail of originality through the dead wood of the teen-comedy genre by focusing on the Heathers, the four prettiest and most popular girls at Westerburg High, [in Ohio,] three of whom are named Heather.

Setting the tone for the group is founder and queen bitch Heather No. 1 (Kim Walker), who has a devastating put-down or comeback for every occasion and could freeze even a heat-seeking missile in its tracks with her icy stare.

Heathers No. 2 and 3 (Lisanne Falk, Shannen Doherty) get off their own zingers once in a while, while the fourth nubile beauty, Veronica (Winona Ryder), goes along for the ride but seems to have a mind of her own. She also has eyes for a rebellious-looking school newcomer named Jason Dean (Christian Slater).

Goaded by the seductive J.D., Veronica half-heartedly goes along with an attempt to murder Heather No. 1, who has become irritating beyond endurance.

Ryder is utterly fetching and winning as an intelligent but seriously divided young lady. Oozing an insinuating sarcasm reminiscent of Jack Nicholson, Slater has what it takes to make J.D. both alluring and dangerous. The three Heathers look like they've spent their lives practicing putdowns."
- Variety Staff

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Pauline Fleming: I think it's a good opportunity to share the... feelings that this suicide has spurred in all of us. Now, who would like to begin?
Female Stoner: I heard it was really gnarly. She sucked down a bowl of multi-purpose deodorizing disinfectant, and then SMASH.
Pauline Fleming: Now Tracey, let's not rehash the coroner's report. Let's talk emotions.

Why? by Max Scratchmann

"Why does it always rain cats and dogs but never toads and frogs?
Why, when an Englishman’s home is his castle, does he paint it pastel?
What are seamarks and why should they care about the shipwrecks of others?
And isn’t it incest if all men are brothers?

If all things are known and there is no desire,
Then why worry about going from the frying pan into the fire?
And if Doctor Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain,
When the sun shines can he not go there again?"

Mr Whippy RIP by Paul Curtis

"An ice cream man has been found dead
Lying on the floor beneath a shelf
Covered with hundreds and thousands
Police say he may have topped himself"

Hell, you're reached Jesus. I can't answer the phone right now, but if the Apocalypse comes... Beep me. by Consequenceofsound

"Jesus sits and plays with his iPod
Creating playlists for lack of something better to do,
Watching as the people around him hurry through their daily ritual.

Jesus sits on suburban sidewalks
as he checks his email for the third time
in ten minutes, looking, but not really seeing.

Jesus sits with his cell phone
Checking the time as the grandfather clock chimes 2:45
unable to decipher the strange X I symbols that circle the antique face.

Jesus sits in front of the television.
The woman out front ignores the man who almost ran her over
She’s too enraptured in the text message she just received.

Jesus sits in front of the television
as a little girl stares confused at the sink.
She waves her hands around under the faucet
and nothing happens.
She leaves without washing her hands.

Jesus sits by Marc in silence
Texting Luc who is across the room.

Jesus sits with wires in his brain
and a Game Boy in his hands
as blank eyes become riveted, unblinking, enraptured
with the screen as it flickers."

Do Virgins Taste Better? by Randy Farren

"A dragon has come to our village today.
We've asked him to leave, but he won't go away.
Now he's talked to our king and they worked out a deal.
No homes will he burn and no crops will he steal.

Now there is but one catch, we dislike it a bunch.
Twice a year he invites him a virgin to lunch.
Well, we've no other choice, so the deal we'll respect.
But we can't help but wonder and pause to reflect.

Do virgins taste better than those who are not?
Are they salty, or sweeter, more juicy or what?
Do you savor them slowly? Gulp them down on the spot?
Do virgins taste better than those who are not?

Now we'd like to be shed you, and many have tried.
But no one can get through your thick scaly hide.
We hope that some day, some brave knight will come by.
'Cause we can't wait around 'til you're too fat to fly.

Now you have such good taste in your women for sure,
They always are pretty, they always are pure.
But your notion of dining, it makes us all flinch,
For your favorite entree is barbecued wench.

Now we've found a solution, it works out so neat,
If you insist on nothing but virgins to eat.
No more will our number ever grow small,
We'll simply make sure there's no virgins at all!"

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

"It is so short and jumbled and jangled, Sam, because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.
And what do the birds say? All there is to say about a massacre, things like "Poo-tee-weet?""

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galexy - Douglas Adams

"There’s no point in acting surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display at your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for 50 of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now. … What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout. Energize the demolition beams."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Adorable parrot

Ryan Hudson, http://www.channelate.com/

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

The Book Of Bunny Suicides

From The Book Of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don't Want To Live Any More, By Andy Riley, UK

Eating Faries

Eating Faries by Ruben Flanagan, Photoshop, USA

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Critique #2

This piece is called Stranded, and it is painted by alias EthicallyChallanged. The medium is acrylic on canvas, and it features a fantastical forest scene, filled with Easterish rabbits and butterflies and bright, pastel colors. Sitting solemnly under a tree is a hideous looking troll, staring glumly forward.

The piece focuses mainly on contrast, both in hue and in subject matter. The background colors are mainly bright and happy, helping make the sludge colored troll stand out even more in his unmatching landscape. The painter balances the piece with the inclusion of flowers in the foreground bushes, balancing out the heavy left side. One flaw is his right leg is substantially larger than his left, and there are several instances of smudged paint.

The work centers around the unhappy Grum. He used to be a well feared troll from his homeland, but after a series of terrible events which separated him from his cave, he wandered around aimlessly until collapsing from exhaustion under a nearby tree. As he awoke, he saw many disgustingly adorable creatures flirting about. In the old days, he would have stormed through, frightening them away as fast as the wind. But he was just too homesick to cause any more mischief that morning. Besides, the bunnies look kinda cute.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Critique #3

The painting is How Do You Like Your Eggs? by alias Banksy, an anonymous British graffitist and now full time artist. If features a woman dressed in full Islamic burka, holding a frying pan with a single egg and a spatula, as well as wearing an apron with the image of a woman in scantily clad lingerie.

The entire aesthetic of the piece is focused on contrast, both visually and allegorically. The dark blues of the burka and headdress is chiaroscuro with the red and bright colors of the apron. The backdrop is a light orange, which helps make the dark blue hue stand out even moreso. The medium is acrylic on canvas with very soft textures.

The painting is a statement on the oppression of women in two separate societies; one which forces woman to cover themselves, and another which forces them to be a sexual object. In both cases, the women are defined into a strict system where they are still the servants of men. It is a criticism of two separate societies and views and uses contrast to enhance said criticism.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


1. Israeli Cartoon Museum
a. The Israeli Cartoon Museum is a currently unopened museum in the Holon province of Israel, featuring mainly political cartoons and illustrations, which often feature biting and humorous comedy commenting on current political debates.
b. http://www.cartoonmuseum.org.il/
2. Andy Warhol Museum – Wild Raspberries Exhibit
a. The Andy Warhol Museum is currently featuring the Wild Raspberries exhibit, which features many humor illustrations with text written by Suzie Frankfurt.
b. http://www.warhol.org/museum_info/pdfs/PR_WildRaspberries.pdf
3. Mark Twain Museum
a. The Mark Twain Museum is dedicated to the works of Mark Twain, famous American humorist and satirist whose works include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as well as many other short stories.
b. http://www.marktwainmuseum.org/
4. Museum of Broadcast Communications – Richard Pryor Exhibit
a. The Museum of Broadcast Communications is currently featuring a Richard Pryor exhibit, honoring the comedian Richard Pryor, who focused on racial humor and criticizing current race relations and society as a whole.
5. Museum of Humor
a. The Museum of Humor, referred to as El Museo de Humor, is located in Spain and focuses on humorous artists and painters.
b. http://vello.vieiros.com/museohumor/museum.html

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eulogy from Graham Chapman's Funeral

"Graham Chapman, co-author of the 'Parrot Sketch,' is no more.

He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he'd achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he'd had enough fun.

Well, I feel that I should say, "Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries. "

And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn't, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this:

"Alright, Cleese, you're very proud of being the first person to ever say 'shit' on television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say 'fuck'!"

You see, the trouble is, I can't. If he were here with me now I would probably have the courage, because he always emboldened me. But the truth is, I lack his balls, his splendid defiance. And so I'll have to content myself instead with saying 'Betty Mardsen...'

But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin. Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham's name. Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronized incest. One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar's cello concerto. And that's in the first half.

Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that's what I'll always remember about him---apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolized all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow.

Some memories. I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, 'All right, we'll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwords, we'll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.' I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he'd recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.

I remember him at BBC parties crawling around on all fours, rubbing himself affectionately against the legs of gray-suited executives, and delicately nibbling the more appetizing female calves. Mrs. Eric Morecambe remembers that too.

I remember his being invited to speak at the Oxford union, and entering the chamber dressed as a carrot---a full length orange tapering costume with a large, bright green sprig as a hat----and then, when his turn came to speak, refusing to do so. He just stood there, literally speechless, for twenty minutes, smiling beatifically. The only time in world history that a totally silent man has succeeded in inciting a riot.

I remember Graham receiving a Sun newspaper TV award from Reggie Maudling. Who else! And taking the trophy falling to the ground and crawling all the way back to his table, screaming loudly, as loudly as he could. And if you remember Gray, that was very loud indeed.

It is magnificent, isn't it? You see, the thing about shock... is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realized in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.

Well, Gray can't do that for us anymore. He's gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade."

- John Cleese, during the funeral of Monty Python star Graham Chapman.

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life...
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...

"And that's another thing they don't like on airlines. Jokes. 'You can't joke about a bomb!' Well, why is it just jokes? What about a riddle? How about a limerick? A bomb anecdote? You know, no punch line, just a really cute story. Or, what if you wanted to remark, not really as a joke, but more as an ironic musing? Are they prepared to make that distinction? Why, I think not! And besides, who's to say what's funny?

Airport security is a stupid idea, it's a waste of money, and it's only there for one reason; to make people feel safe, to give the illusion of safety.

Because they know they can't make airplanes completely safe. Too many people have access. You notice the drug smugglers don't seem to have a lot of trouble getting their little packages on board, do they?

No, and God bless them, too.

Oh, and by the way, an airplane flight shouldn't be completely safe. You need a little danger in your life. Take a fuckin' chance once and a while, will ya? What are you gonna do, play with your prick for another 30 years? What, are you gonna read People magazine and eat at Wendy's until the end of time? Take a fuckin' chance.

And besides, even if we did make airports completely safe, the terrorists would simply find other places that are crowded; porn shops, crack houses, titty bars, and gang bangs. You know, entertainment venues.

The odds of you being killed by a terrorist are practically 0. So, I say relax and enjoy the show." - George Carlin

Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends

Look outside the window, there's a woman being grabbed,
They've dragged her to the bushes and now she's being stabbed,
Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain,
But monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game,
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody,
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Riding down the highway, yes, my back is getting stiff,
Thirteen cars are piled up, they're hanging on a cliff,
Maybe we should pull them back with our towing chain,
But we gotta move and we might get sued and it looks like it's gonna rain,
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody,
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Sweating in the ghetto with the colored and the poor,
The rats have joined the babies who are sleeping on the floor,
Now wouldn't it be a riot if they really blew their tops?
But they got too much already and besides we got the cops,
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody.
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Oh there's a dirty paper using sex to make a sale,
The supreme court was so upset, they sent him off to jail,
Maybe we should help the fiend and take away his fine,
But we're busy reading playboy and the Sunday New York Times,
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody,
Outside of a small circle of friends.

Smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer,
But a friend of ours was captured and they gave him thirty years,
Maybe we should raise our voices, ask somebody why,
But demonstrations are a drag, besides we're much too high,
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody,
Outside of a small circle.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Color Of Magic

"It has been remarked before that those who are sensitive to the radiations in the far octarine - the eighth color, the pigment of the Imagination - can see things that others cannot.

Thus it was that Rincewind, hurrying through the crowded, flare-lit evening bazaars of Morpork with the Luggage trundling behind him, jostled a tall dark figure, turned to deliver a few suitable curses, and beheld Death.

It had to be Death. No one else went around with empty eye sockets and, of course, the scythe over one shoulder was another clue. As Rincewind stared in horror a courting couple, laughing at some private joke, walked straight through the apparition without appearing to notice it.

Death, insofar as it was possible in a face with no movable features, looked surprised.

RINCEWIND? Death said, in tones as deep and heavy as the slamming of leaden doors, far underground.

"Um," said Rincewind, trying to back away from that eyeless stare.

BUT WHY ARE YOU HERE? (Boom, boom went crypt lids, in the worm haunted fastnesses under old mountains . . . )

"Um, why not?" said Rincewind. "Anyway, I'm sure you've got lots to do, so if you'll just-"


"Oh no, not-"


"But that's five hundred miles away!"


Rincewind backed away, hands spread protectively in front of him. The dried fish salesman on a nearby stall watched this madman with interest.

"Not a chance!"




"No!" Rince wind turned and ran. Death watched him go, and shrugged bitterly.

SOD YOU, THEN, Death said. He turned, and noticed the fish salesman. With a snarl Death reached out a bony finger and stopped the man's heart, but he didn't take much pride in it.

The Death remembered what was due to happen later that night. It would not be true to say that Death smiled, because in any case His features were perforce frozen in a calcareous grin. But He hummed a little tun, cheery as a plague pit, and - pausing only to extract the life from a passing mayfly, and one ninth of the lives from a cat cowering under the fish stall (all cats can see into the octarine) - Death turned on His heel and set off towards the Broken Drum."

- Terry Pratchet, The Color Of Magic, 1989.

While Today's Problems . . .

Artist unknown, USA, Ink on Paper














Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dr. Strangelove; or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

"Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff. "


"Through a brilliant use of interlocking characters, themes and phrases, Alexie crafts The Business of Fancydancing's 40 poems and five stories into a seamless, searing tribute to the people of the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene reservations.

Alexie's writing builds upon the naked realism and ironic wonder of Blackfeet/Gros Ventre writer James Welch ...[and] adds a surrealist twist to convey comparable irony in his poem "Evolution" ... By the end of the poem, Buffalo Bill has taken "everything the Indians have to offer" and then changes the shop's sign from pawn dealer to 'THE MUSEUM OF NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURES.'"

- Kadwick, Kent "In a Review of The Business of FancyDancing and Old Shirts & New Skins"

In Bruges

Ken, walking out with a gun to shoot Ray, whose back is turned. Ray then lifts up gun to own head.
Ken: What the fuck are you doing, Ray?
Ray jumps.
Ray: What the fuck are you doing?
Ken sticks pistol behind his back
Ken: Nothing.
Ray: Oh, my God... you were gonna kill me.
Ken: No, I wa - You were gonna kill yourself!
Ray: Well... I'm allowed.
Ken: No, you're not!
Ray: What? I'm not allowed, and you are? How's that fair?


Buffalo Bill opens a pawn shop on the reservation
right across the border from the liquor store
and he stays open 24 hours a day,7 days a week

and the Indians come running in with jewelry
television sets, a VCR, a full-length beaded buckskin outfit
it took Inez Muse 12 years to finish. Buffalo Bill

takes everything the Indians have to offer, keeps it
all cataloged and filed in a storage room. The Indians
pawn their hands, saving the thumbs for last, they pawn

their skeletons, falling endlessly from the skin
and when the last Indian has pawned everything
but his heart, Buffalo Bill takes that for twenty bucks

closes up the pawn shop, paints a new sign over the old
charges the Indians five bucks a head to enter.

- Sherman Alexie

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Essays On Humor in Tragedy


Friday, March 5, 2010

Penises by Randall Munroe, Pen on Paper, United States.

The Queen

The Queen by Mina Lee Sergenian, Mixed Media, United States

Who Killed the Gummy Bear?

Who Killed the Gummy Bear? by Propaganda-Panda, photography, Germany

Art Print 2

Art Print 2 by Banksy, Oil on canvas, Great Britain


Untitled by Banksy, Spray paint on wall, United Kingdom

There It Is

There It Is by Herblock, ink on paper, Washington DC, United States.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


"Skunkpost" by DarkTragedy, oil on canvas, United States

Awkward Encounter

Awkward Encounter by Kathryn Poindexter, acrylic/mesonite, United States

Alas, Poor Yorick

Alas, Poor Yorick by Grace D. Palmer, Watercolor and ink on bristol plate, United States

Friday, February 12, 2010

Declaration Of Concept

Humor takes great and complex concepts, bringing them down to not only a manageable level, but presents sometimes difficult subjects so they not only retain their poignancy and brevity, but also makes it enjoyable as well as memorable. It is designed to make us laugh, but often makes us think, reflect, and sometimes heal us as well. My household is filled with sarcastic poking-fun at even the most somber of topics. Bad news is always presented with a unique dry wit I have come to know and love. My mother recently had to go to the hospital, because her doctor informed her there may be something wrong with the bone in her jaw. The doctor informed her there was a good chance she had Paget's disease. Not the most humorous time for most families, but whenever my mother had to go to the doctors, she would inform people she's going to take her Faggot's test instead of Pagets. My mother doesn't have a prejudice bone in her body, but using humor, no matter how immature or innapropriate, somehow made it easier to deal with, both for her and for everyone else. Thankfully, the tests came back negative, but she still enjoys the look on people's faces when she can tell them she failed her Faggot's test.

There have been numerous studies concerning the use of humor as a healing tool. Laughter has been found to lower blood pressure, increase the immune system, numb pain, and release endorphins in the body. Arnie Cann, at the University of North Carolina, found that laughing in the face of grim circumstances not only offered short term benefits, but lowered long term stress in the individual. Also, it worked as a coping mechanism for those who work in grim environments, such as funeral directors, police officers, and emergency responders.

There have been many satirists, comedians, authors, poets, and musicians who used humor in their work, even when it came across subjects some will claim are unlaughable. Comedians like George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and Louis CK all often talk or talked about incredibly taboo subjects, such as murder, war, death, abortion, rape, evil, and countless others. Yet even as they talked about the most controversial or inappropriate topics, they caused waves or laughed as they shocked and surprised. Humor exists everywhere, and if you seek it out in the most trying times, it can be the only thing that holds you above water.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Humorous Epitaphs

"Reader --if cash thou art in want of any,
Dig four feet deep and find a Penny."
Epitaph of John Penny, Wimborne, England.

"Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake."
Gravestone near Uniontown, Pa.

"Here lies John Yeast,
Pardon me for not rising."
Cemetary in Ruidoso, N.M.

"I Told You I Was Sick"
Cemetary in Key West, Fla.

"Here lies Lester Moore,
Four slugs from a forty-four.
No Les,
No Moore."
Boothill Cemetery, Tombstone Ariz.

Using Humor To Get Through Difficult Times, The Tough Wisecrack

My six-year-old son likes to skip. He skips everywhere. This habit makes him seem relentlessly cheerful, even though the skipping has more to do with the fact that he has Asperger's syndrome than with any genuine bonhomie on his part. I often think that when the 100-foot albino alligators emerge from New York City's sewers, intent on devouring the populace, Gus will be skipping toward them, greeting them with a wave and asking if they prefer to travel by train, bus, or cab. (Urban transport: his current obsession, along with giraffes, the Beatles, and ladies' feet.)

Having a son who is autistic and hyperactive is not, on the face of it, all that funny. Yet every single day, he cracks me up. Occasionally, I get into trouble for a certain lack of solemnity about his differences. For one thing, I don't call them differences; I say he's nuts. This hasn't always endeared me to other moms of kids with special needs. And it's not that I don't understand the heartache and worry of having a child who can't kick a soccer ball or carry on a complex conversation or, for that matter, zip his own pants. I understand. Believe me. But rather than look at, say, Gus's budding foot fetish and run screaming to the psychiatrist, I'd rather think, Hey, at best he'll be a podiatrist, and at worst he'll have plenty of company in the chat rooms.

Every day of my life, I thank God for dark humor. I subscribe wholeheartedly to this idea, first put forth by Woody Allen: "Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering--and it's all over much too soon."

What is it about humans that makes us want to laugh when logically we should cry? Well, for one thing, dark humor is a form of bravery. Katherine Russell Rich is the author of The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer and Back, a laugh-out-loud chronicle of her battle against metastatic breast cancer. She's one of the 8 percent of people still here 20 years after the stage IV diagnosis. I guess laughing didn't hurt. For example, her first reaction to finding a lump in her breast was to stop having sex. WASP that she was, she didn't know how etiquette dictated she should respond if someone felt it. When she got over that fear, she embarked on what she called the Bataan Dating March, finally settling on a relationship with an alcoholic shrink. Why? Because he was usually so drunk that "he wouldn't have noticed if my head had fallen off," she says, let alone notice a lump. As the book progresses, one assumes it would be hard to get big yuks out of puking and bone-marrow transplants. But Rich somehow does.

"The worse things get, the funnier I think they are--that's just how I grew up, how I learned to handle things," she says. "But aside from that, I think you have to be funny so that other people don't freak out. I mean, it's fine to be going 'Oh my God, I have cancer' with your closest friends. But you can't do that with everyone; you can't ask the entire world to buoy you up."

Dark humor is also, for Rich, a thumb in the eye to pain. "With cancer, it's saying 'You can take my body, but you're not taking my mind,'" she says. "There's a form of macho defiance there I really like."

Humor also puts people at ease. Robert Reich is terrific at this. The former Clinton Labor secretary is four feet ten inches tall, born with a congenital disorder that stunted his growth. When he was running for governor of Massachusetts a few years ago, he'd start his speeches with "They told me to be short." Or, standing on a step stool, he'd announce, "I'm the only candidate with a real platform." His audience was comfortable with his height because he was comfortable. It's a sophisticated form of consideration.

A twisted sense of humor, I realized recently, is the common denominator among the most loving, considerate people I know. A few years ago, my friend Spencer's father died; this year, Spencer spent much of his time at the bedside of his mother, who was waging a long battle with heart disease. He loved her deeply, but he's not exactly a sensitive New Age guy. A theater fanatic, he said only this in the e-mail announcement when his mother died: "Well, I can finally join the chorus of Annie."

Arnie Cann is a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who studies the role of humor in stress-specifically, how humor helps us cope. He has demonstrated what we all know instinctively: that being able to laugh after a trauma limits the awful effects of the traumatic event. But the question is, What kind of humor helps? In a study soon to be published in the International Journal of Humor Research, Cann used a psychological measure of humor styles, developed by Canadian researcher Rod Martin, to see how different kinds of funniness helped people deal with stress.

A couple of the humor styles measured, so-called aggressive and affiliative humor, had no effect one way or the other on how people perceived stress. Aggressive humor is exactly what it sounds like: attacking or teasing others for laughs. Think Polish jokes, think Lisa Lampanelli. Affiliative humor is a more general joking-around about neutral subjects: the weather, the latest Top Ten list on Letterman, etc. But two styles-so-called self-enhancing and self-defeating-did matter.

"We asked people to think about stressful experiences in the past month," says Cann. "People high in self-enhancing humor simply don't perceive as much stress in their lives as people with a self-defeating humor style."

Self-defeating humor (think Rodney Dangerfield: "When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot, but I always found them") can help make you more popular. After all, most of us like people who are funny and modest. But, says Cann, self-defeating humor "led to higher levels of stress."

On the other hand, self-enhancing humor, the ability to crack wise and see the humor in a situation when your world is falling apart, protects us from stressful events. Jim McKay, the former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is an example. Suffering through a woeful first season, McKay was asked about the execution of his team. He responded, "I'm in favor of it."

"The subjects who could look at the funny side of something grim really did seem to buffer themselves from anxiety," concludes Cann. Indeed, McKay is now a football icon. I couldn't help thinking about Cann the other day when a married friend came to me and confessed she'd been having an affair. By then, her marriage was in ruins, she felt humiliated, and she had no idea how she'd go on with her life. But I knew she would be okay when, after an hour of sobbing, she said, "Well, I lost the man I love. But on the bright side, I could start a whole new career as a hotel consultant."

Laughing in the face of disaster is a great tonic at the office too. People who work in high-stress fields agree: You gotta laugh, or you can't do the work. Indeed, in their off-hours, I've always found funeral directors to be an unusually jolly lot. "You have to have a sense of humor in this business, just to deal with all the emotion," says James Olson, owner of a funeral home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. "It's often the families who come in and start joking around."

My friend Spencer agrees. The day after his mother's death, he and his brother went to the crematorium to make arrangements. "We were sitting in the funeral director's office, and of course we were all very somber," he says. "That's when I noticed the sign on the wall: 'No Smoking.' Let's say it broke the ice."

Laughter, Olson adds, is often the flip side of crying. "That's why you see so many people at funerals get the giggles."

This brings to mind the famous Mary Tyler Moore Show episode. Mary goes to the funeral for Chuckles the Clown, who'd been dressed in a peanut costume for a parade when he was shelled by a hungry elephant. During the eulogy, Mary suffers from a bout of nervous giggles after Chuckles is remembered by a coworker for his many characters: "Peter Peanut, Mr. Fee Fi Fo, Billy Banana, and my particular favorite, Aunt Yoo Hoo. And what did Chuckles ask in return? Not much. In his own words-'a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.'" That's when Mary completely loses it.

Our need to laugh-or, indeed, howl-in the face of awfulness is exactly what makes us human. Comedian Eddie Brill knows that, which is why his act treads some sensitive territory. At one point in his routine, he talks about how hot it is in Iraq. "It's so hot there," he says, "that the suicide bombers are blowing themselves up just for the breeze." The line is dark, and it gets a laugh every time.

When a moment is freaky or sad or even tragic, laughter restores both normalcy and hope.

Last week, I got our son Gus's report card. Despite reading and doing math ahead of grade level, he essentially can't function in school. He is delayed in every social and behavioral marker. He won't do anything with a group of kids, speaks loudly and inappropriately in class, acts up to get attention, and has such poor motor skills that at six, he can barely write his own name.

My husband, John, and I looked at the card together in grim silence. Then we got to phys ed. The gym teacher reported that Gus was advanced for his age-in skipping. "Look!" said John. "Our son is gifted."

We snickered like idiots for a while. But you know what? Gus is our gift, for so many reasons, not the least of which is: He's just so funny. When we laugh about him, we feel better about the future. It works every time.

Vietnam Song

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Come on Wall Street, don't be slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade,
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Now you can go out and get those reds
'Cause the only good commie is the one that's dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, and don't hesitate
To send your sons off before it's too late.
And you can be the first ones in your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

- Country Joe and The Fish