Things do not change; we change.–Thoreau
WHEN THIS WORLD CATCHES FIRE
BOOK THREE: SAVAGE NOXTOWN
CHAPTER TWELVE: PART FIFTY-SIX: THE EASTERN GATE OF PARADISE
“Mawny, Mawny, Mawny, what ARE we going to do with you? I need to tell you,” said Glen Phillips to Billy Batchelder Tallent, “That you may be smart…but not smart enough. No common sense.”
“Huh,” said young Master Tallent. “Common sense is what dumb people use as an excuse to make you feel stupid.”
“Well, it has truly been said that common sense isn’t very common,” said Glen Phillips, in a jovially soothing tone of voice. “Was that Voltaire? Anyway, I’m sure you’re regarded as quite trig in your own home town. Quite the swanky jew. I doubt you miss a trick. I have no doubt that you know how the game is played amongst the backwoodsmen and hill folk. I’ll bet that after a hard day of shootin’ varmints you come home to a modest little supper of eggs, cornbread, jelly, preserves, pork chops, red-eye gravy, potted cheese, and plenty of butter, plus cake and pie for dessert. Well, let me tell you something–a self-respecting city man would never sit down to a banquet like that–unless he was known as a professional glutton. Hereabouts, as the saying goes, we don’t live to eat–we eat to live. That’s one major difference between us and them. We’re not stupid from staring at a mule’s ass from the vantage point of a two-wheeled sulky-plow. If we grow anything at all, we grow flowers–in a window box. But most of us don’t even take that much trouble. Why should we, when you can buy fresh-cut flowers practically anywhere you go? And we don’t slaughter our own hogs, or make our own bread, or harvest our own crops, unless we’re in that line of work. We buy our grub at the butcher’s and the baker’s and the general store. Why should we get our hands dirty? People in these parts don’t die from picking poison mushrooms, and we can buy all kinds of exotic treats that you rebels never even heard of, like bananas and chocolate bars. And we don’t hunt for food–we hunt for sport.
“You see, Mawny, you’re in the north now. The kind of wisdom and know-how you can expect to learn from a farmer or a trapper or an old black mammy isn’t respected as much as where you’re from. Up north, we hire people to do the dirty work. Your version of ‘common sense’ doesn’t make any sense at all north of the Mason-Dixon line. Most city folks don’t give a red-hot damn about horses. We use street-cars to get around. Or we go on foot. If you want to thrive hereabouts, you need to know the ins and outs of how the game is played. Why do you think the schoolmasters here at the Manor are so strict? Do you think they take joy at pushing striplings around? Well, maybe some do. But if so, they are deficient men. No–most of the good teachers push you because they know that someday you’ll be grown, and burdened with a wife and kiddies, and the boss will come around and say he doesn’t like the cut of your jib. What are you going to do when that happens–and you can bet it will. Are you going to fall to pieces? Not if you’re a Stropmuth Manor boy, you won’t. I tell you Mawny, if you can make it through four years of this hell, ain’t nothing going to bother you. But if you’re going to make good, and someday be a head boy, or maybe even the valedictorian, then you have got to learn the way they do things in these parts.
“You remind me of two other boys who passed through here. There was poor, hapless Andy Tump. He was the most timid country younker you ever did see, with a straw mop of blonde hair–you could practically pick the hay seeds out of it! And he was terrified of all the teachers and the monks–particularly Mr. von Linger, the German teacher. Dear God, how he used to make poor Andy jump! Nothing that Tump could do was ever good enough to satisfy von Linger. Why, one time, he asked Andy to say the word “I” in German, and, instead of saying “Ich,” Andy said “Ick.” You should have seen von Linger go off! Like fireworks! “Tump!” he shouted. “You IDIOT!” And he threw a piece of chalk at Andy’s head. Luckily it missed him. Instead, it hit the blackboard and crumbled into a cloud of dust–that’s how hard he threw it at poor Andy’s head. Well, after that particular incident, Tump was a gibbering wreck–and who could blame him? He didn’t come back for the fourth form year. Y’see, his problem was that he had no finesse. He was simply never trained in how to learn the ropes. All he really had to do is repeat after von Linger everything he said. But von Linger frightened him. You don’t get to meet too many Prussian aristocrats in the big stick country. And besides, Tump had another problem. He smelled. He wasn’t any too fond of washing, is what it was. I guess that back in his neck of the woods, a bath was a semiannual occasion. No matter how much we tried, we never could impress on him the simple fact that he had to wash himself every day. He got so ripe that this one time, in the Spring, we picked him up and threw him in the bay, clothes and all.
“I’m sorry now that we were so mean to poor old Tump, but that just goes to show that even the kindest and best-intentioned people will lose patience pretty damn quick with a stubborn coot who simply will not do what he’s told. When you’re a big man, you get to make your own rules, it’s true. But when you’re not, you’ve got to learn to toe the line. You’ve got to learn all the written rules you can safely ignore, and all the unwritten rules you simply can’t ignore. That’s all a part of growing up. Of course, even worse is the fellow who knows all the rules, but is determined to follow his own set of standards and not listen to anybody else.
“Now, having standards is all very well and good, but you have got to be able to fit in. That’s what people who hire you for a job of work are going to want to know. Not, can you do the work so much–they can train you to do that. No, they want to know if you’re going to fit in. Because if you don’t, or you won’t, or you can’t, then they’re going to drop you like a hot potato. We had a fellow here who was kind of like that. His name was Roger Sylvester Yager. He might of had a number after his name, I don’t know. He was an unreconstructed rebel. He’d have you know that he was from one of the first families of Virginia. If so, they never taught him what a whole lot of nines were. Of course, we called him Sylvester, which used to drive him wild. He wanted to go by ‘Reb,’ or some other idiotic handle. Unlike Andy Tump, he was no dummy. But the fact of the matter is, he was just a little too smart for his own good. Thought he could openly flout all the rules. Got into fights for no reason at all. In general, comported himself like a little Lord. Pretty much openly said that he didn’t give a damn about nothing or nobody. Now, that sort of behavior might have passed muster in East Jesus, Virginia, but not hereabouts. The more Yager swanned around like he was something special, the more of a hard time we gave him. He got woken up of a midnight on plenty of occasions. Ice-cold water has a tendency to work wonders in that line. One time we even put a skunk in his room. Well, Sir, that’s what did it. He left for Christmas break on the first train smokin’–and he never did come back.
“Now, Mawny–I’m not saying all of your countrymen are either dunces or hotheads. But around here, why, they’ve cultivated a certain reputation, and, if you;’re going to stay the course, you’d be well-advised to not follow in their footsteps. Use a little of that old…uncommon sense.”
WISH I WAS A SINGLE GIRL AGAIN
BLOOD ON THE SADDLE
Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes:
How to Find a Novel, Short Story, or Poem Without Knowing its Title or Author
AMERICA FUCK YEAH!
5*AVATAR OF THE ZEITGEIST
WOMAN ATTACKED AND KILLED BY OWN PIT BULLS OUTSIDE ANIMAL HOSPITAL
6* DAILY UTILITY
HOW TO COOK BEANS
THE MEANING OF SUPERHERO COMICS
FOOD HISTORY TIMELINE
9* RUMOR PATROL
CONSPIRACY THEORIES CAN’T BE STOPPED
“Summoning — and demonizing — the belief in conspiracies can also have political consequences. “During the Bush Administration, the left was going fucking bonkers … about 9/11 and Halliburton and Cheney and Blackwater and all this stuff,” Uscinski said. “As soon as Obama won they didn’t give a shit about any of that stuff anymore. They did not care. It was politically and socially inert.” In turn, conspiracy theories about Obama flourished on the right. Uscinski said he is frustrated by this tendency for partisans to build up massive conspiracy infrastructures when they are out of power, only to develop a sudden amnesia and deep concern about the conspiracy mongering behavior of the other side once power is restored. It’s a cycle, he said that threatened to make social science a tool of partisan slapfights more than a standard of truth. And in a 2017 paper, he argued that conspiracy beliefs could even be useful parts of the democratic process, calling them “tools for dissent used by the weak to balance against power.”
JOAN CRAWFORD VS. THE CORLEONES
Joan Crawford is hard to beat:
Of course, sometimes she went just a little too far:
Fredo Corleone is pretty weak.
Moe Greene comes on strong. But where is he now?
Speaking of greaseballs:
Nothing quite like wakin’ up with a dead prostitute in your bed!
Well, bonus points go to Joan for sheer effort. But if you favor more subtle effects, I think the Corleones win it.
11*DEVIATIONS FROM THE PREPARED TEXT: A REVIEW OF OTHER MEDIA
Spring is here
Sun is out
Share a Big Mac
With friend or spouse
(Poem written on a McDonald’s bulletin board in downtown Pittsburgh ca. 1974.)
*11A BOOKS READ AND RATED
50 PHILOSOPHY IDEAS YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW. DUPRE. ****1/2
ALT-RIGHT. WENDLING. ****
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. RED GOBLIN. ***1/2
AMERICAN DISCONTENT. CAMPBELL. ****1/2
ANT MAN & THE WASP: LOST AND FOUND. ***1/2
THE ANTIFA COMIC BOOK. HILL. ***1/2
AVENGERS ACADEMY 1. THE COMPLETE COLLECTION. ****
AVENGERS ACADEMY 2. THE COMPLETE COLLECTION. ****
BATGIRL YEAR ONE. ***1/2
BATMAN: THE GOLDEN AGE 4. ***
BATMAN: THE GOLDEN AGE 5. ***
BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT. ****
BATMAN 6. BRIDE OR BURGLAR? KING. ****
BATMAN TMNT ADVENTURES: THE TERROR OF THE KRAANG. **
BERLIN. LUTES. ****1/2
BLACK PANTHER 1. THE INTERGALACTIC EMPIRE PART 1. ***1/2
BLOOM. PANETTA & GAMATHEAU. ***1/2
THE BOOK OF GENERAL IGNORANCE. LLOYD & MITCHINSON. ***1/2
CAPTAIN MARVEL: PRELUDE. ***
CAPTAIN MARVEL 1. HIGHER FURTHER FASTER MORE. ***1/2
CHLORINE GARDENS. ROBERTS. ***
CICADA. TAN. ****
A CLASH OF KINGS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL. MARTIN. ****
COYOTES 1 & 2. ***DINOSAURS: FOSSILS & FEATHERS. REED & FLOOD. ***1/2
FENCE 2. PACAT. ***1/2
FLYING MACHINES: HOW THE WRIGHT BROTHERS SOARED. WILGUS & BROOKS. ****
FORM OF A QUESTION. ROSTAN. ****
FULLY COHERENT PLAN FOR A NEW & BETTER SOCIETY. SHIPLEY. ****1/2
GIRL TOWN. NOWAK. ***
THE GRAPHIC CANON OF CRIME & MYSTERY 1. KICK, ED. ****
HARLEY LOVES JOKER. DINI. ***1/2
HEDY LAMARR: AN INCREDIBLE LIFE. ROY & DORANGE. ****
IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS… LLOYD & MITCHINSON. ****1/2
INFINITY WARS. ***
INJUSTICE 2. VOLUME 2. ****
INSTANT GENIUS: SMART MOUTHS. ****
JUDGE DREDD CLASSICS: THE DARK JUDGES. ***
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK 1: THE LAST AGE OF MAGIC. ***1/2
THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL. ***
MACHETE SQUAD. DULAK. ***1/2
MANDELA & THE GENERAL. CARLIN & MALET. ****1/2
MISTER MIRACLE. KING & GERADS. ****
NIGHTWING 7. THE BLEEDING EDGE. ***1/2
NON-CONFORMITY: WRITING ON WRITING. ALGREN. ****1/2
THE PERINEUM TECHNIQUE. RUPPERT & MULOT. ***1/2
THE RED & THE BLUE. KORNACKI. ****
ROYAL CITY 2. LEMIRE. ****1/2
SAGA 9. STAPLES & VAUGHN. ****
THE SECOND BOOK OF GENERAL IGNORANCE. LLOYD & MITCHINSON. ***1/2
SECRET AGENT DEADPOOL. ***1/2
SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO. FOX & SMITH. ****
SIDE SHOW. BONE. ****
SOLAR SYSTEM: OUR PLACE IN SPACE, MOSCO & CHAD. ***1/2
THE SONS OF EL TOPO. JADOROWSKY & LADRONN. ****1/2
SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL 7. MY TWO DADS. ***
THE SPOOR OF SPOOKS & OTHER NONSENSE. EVANS. ****
A STORY ABOUT CANCER… DESJARDINS & FERRER. ***1/2
THE STRANGE CAREER OF JIM CROW. WOODWARD. ****
SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY. ***1/2
SUPER CHILL. ELLIS. ***1/2
SUPERMAN: THE UNITY SAGA: PHANTOM EARTH. BENDIS. ****
TYLER CROSS. NURY & BRUNO. ****1/2
VON SPATZ. HAIFISCH. ***1/2
WEST COAST AVENGERS 1. BEST COAST. ***1/2
WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? CHANDLER. ***1/2
WONDER WOMAN/CONAN. ***1/2
12* CONTROVERSIES IN POPULAR CULTURETHE WORST PARTY PEOPLEThe asshole who throws a bottle into the middle of a crowd then runs away.
The new breed of scumbag who can’t fight without a weapon.
Dude who comes out of the shitter without washing his hands and sticks his filthy paws in the peanut bowl.
The fellow who puts a live goldfish in the ladies’ toilet and snickers when they all hold their water because nobody wants to flush Goldie down the commode.
The drunk guy who thinks he took a shit in a golden toilet but it actually turned out to be your tuba.