Category Archives: Absurd Universe

Dear Mudge, Monkey Face


Monkey-faced eel – not really an eel, but tasty.

OK, Mudge, you claim ambivalence rather than kindness. But at least you’re a polite ambivalent. (And didn’t you recently claim kindness as a goal? Which you retracted, yes, but I think the label stuck.)

As to making a worthwhile point—on any topic—all opinions matter equally, which is, as we’ve determined, not at all. Yours, piled high and reeking, would at least provide philosophic nutrition to worms, weevils and woodlice.

You posted a set of nice lyrics; hard to imagine they weren’t part of some sonnet or modern Shakespearean knockoff. I would point out that simply by acknowledging your appreciation of such a touching piece, you expose a human side that, although you state such sentiment has bled away, I think not.

Our recent conclusion that intelligence correlates with misery garnered numerous counter arguments. Here’s my rebuttal: Although the tally of those miserable on either side of the IQ curve may be equal, the quality and variation of misery on the high side and, were the weight of grief totaled (intensity + complexity + recurrence), our side would tip the scale. (If that’s not a Pyrrhic victory I don’t know what is.)

On the subject of writing about the philosophy of existence, upon reflection I’d say my personal intent is therapy. Vaporous thought is one thing, but persisting one’s ruminations, for me, allows logic to overlay the mystical. I gain perspective this way. Not to mention that rereading such pontifications, later in life, often provides a chuckle or two.

Writing fiction used to be me dreaming on paper. These days, given my blooming narrative enlightenment, attempting to create something of beauty is now my goal. Although also therapeutic, writing is a challenge and when executed well, proof that my faculties are still somewhat intact. In highlight, there’s nothing like being in the *flow*, the slipstream—time fades away, I exist only in the moment, the story. That feeling comes all to rare, but when it does, it’s euphoric. You should try it sometime (grin).

I’ve convinced my “writing class” that they need to deliver 1000 narrative words by the 4th of February. One has complied and I’ve already waded into that one, red pen slashing.  As I edit, I’m reminded of my own neophyte writing those years ago.

“Boy, you sure are brutal.” My first contributor patted me on the shoulder. “But all your comments are spot on.” I’m surprised at how effortlessly I see what needs to be changed. But this is all ground-level stuff. The elevated techniques, levels two and three and beyond, that I’ve mentioned in the Writer’s Log, are much harder to communicate and learn. These core writer’s skills, when they’re missing, stick out like a blue tie at a Drumpf rally.

Time and practice. Starting out, such advice always appears short-sighted, “well, duh.” Only after actually putting in the long duration effort, and then measuring one’s progress by analyzing beginners, can one acknowledge that dogged regimen is the only way to excel—at anything. I started this writing endeavor at age 55. You, just turning a half-century, I wonder what skills you could amass were you to apply such a theory. (Is Vet-Tech still in your cards?)

Concrete ideas are always so much easier to discuss. Can you build a birdhouse from clear plexiglass? Should Lunists & Martians leverage lava tubes as habitat? Would artificial floating ocean islands, SeaSteading, be productive and useful or a waste of resources? It’s fine once in a while, but getting wrapped up in continuous existential conundrums, oy, let’s go fishing for monkey-faced eel or hunting for peyote or something, anything…


Dear Mole: Losing It


All things considered, it seems quite appropriate that Elvis shook off this mortal coil while his ever-expanding ass was parked upon the commode.

I hope that’s where I meet my end, too.  Such an ignominious farewell is exactly what I deserve after half a century of horrible eating habits.  A few years ago, while I was clawing my way through the vast works of Alan Watts, I came across an essay he had written about proper food preparation and enjoyment.  He treated this subject with just as much reverence and significance as he ever did Zen Buddhism and the erudite skewering of monotheism.  I hate to admit it, but he made a lot of sense.  Food is life and my lazy disinterest in its origins, preparation and appreciation might say something about my relative lack of interest in life itself.  Palettes just don’t come as unrefined as the one I’ve used and abused for almost 50 years.

It may also be related to my lack of a passionate counterpoint to those who take issue with my stated theories.  What you interpret as niceness is much closer to ambivalence.  As I indicated several times on my recent blog of perpetual silliness, perpetual silliness is one of the few things I still value.  I enjoyed putting intellectualism to bed for a while and just letting loose with laughable nonsense far more than I ever enjoyed attempting to influence people’s views along philosophical, spiritual or political lines.  In other words, it was attempting to make a very significant point and that point was that I no longer consider myself to be someone in possession of a worthwhile point.  What’s left after that?  These little bite-sized moments of philosophizing that you’ve afforded me here are more than enough to satisfy what residual curiosity I have left.

Everyone talks shit — all day, every day.  That includes such luminaries as Nietzsche and Einstein and Freud and Gandhi.  They all talked shit — all day, every day.  Those who talk, talk shit.

Thus, a shrug of the shoulders is my new silent mantra.

That’s how I see it.  Others who have known me for a while interpret it quite differently.  They’ve told me so.  I think these deliciously despondent lyrics about lost talent and lost passion from the late, great Neil Peart perfectly illustrate the unnecessarily melodramatic view of what’s happening to Mudge at (almost) 50:

The dancer slows her frantic pace in pain and desperation,
Her aching limbs and downcast face aglow with perspiration.
Stiff as wire, her lungs on fire with just the briefest pause —
The flooding through her memory, the echoes of old applause

She limps across the floor and closes her bedroom door.

The writer stares with glassy eyes, defies the empty page,
His beard is white, his face is lined and streaked with tears of rage.
Thirty years ago, how the words would flow with passion and precision,
But now his mind is dark and dulled by sickness and indecision.

And he stares out the kitchen door where the sun will rise no more.

Some are born to move the world, to live their fantasies,
but most of us just dream about the things we’d like to be
Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it —
For you, the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee.

Heart-wrenching stuff, but I can’t really relate.  In order to fall from grace, one must once have been in a state of grace and I’m not even sure what that would mean.

So here’s my closing query for you: does engaging in philosophy and linguistic erudition still give you a sense of pride or accomplishment?  And if your answer is anything shy of a resounding “yes!”, do you find the composition of fiction to be a way to still scratch an itch, as it were, without getting bogged down in argumentative semantics?

Unwashed & Somewhat Slightly Dazed,


Dear Mudge, Peanut butter

Dear Mudge,

You, sir, are one of the most enigmatic personalities who swims in these semi-anonymous waters. The net is nothing if not strong opinions voiced with impunity, don’t you think?

I hear your appeal to elevate the word “tribe” to mean actual, honest-to-god, tribes of native humans collected together for survival and cohesion. I hereby relinquish my use of the term for specious purposes (and I have used it frequently over the years). However, as you attempt to convince us that your curmudgeonly ways permeate your actual life, I call foul. As evidence I call forth this very repository of hypocrisy and your comments forthwith. Not even Gandhi himself could be more polite and considerate when addressing some of the just-as-strong opinions voiced here against/about our correspondence.

You sir, are a nice guy.

Regarding your supposition that intellect begets misery I would wholeheartedly agree. I’ve mentioned this very concept within these pages. I went searching and found this: and, in fact, if you search for “unhappy” here you’ll find a set of posts that pertain to this discussion. Basically (and I do mean that in its purest form of the word) the smarter you are the greater capacity you have for [words that reflect misery]. And happiness is about as far as you can get from intelligence.

Okay, that’s enough overt hot-linking (TomBeingTom). (Does anybody actually click embedded links? I don’t.)

On to my chosen topic of the moment: Peanut butter.

Seriously. I have this fascination for the origins of food. Where the hell did peanuts first come into culinary usage? (South America/Peru). Sesame seeds? The Fertile Crescent (where they may have been the first oil-pressed crop). Pistachios? (Afghanistan, as are hazelnuts). Turkeys, Tomatoes, Turmeric, Tilapia, Tapioca, Thyme, Turnips…


Hazelnuts / filberts grown in Oregon and Afghanistan

We don’t often consider food provenance but I do. Italians and tomatoes and polenta, Irish and potatoes, Asia and their peppers, all of it barely 500 years old, all of it “stolen” native foods. While humans have obviously been cultivating and consuming these foods for millennia, we rarely consider how recent our spice, nut, fruit and veggie basket has filled out due to globalism. The point I’m slowly getting to here is that, although we love to share food-culture across the planet and, I suspect, eventually, Terran food will be a thing (as opposed to Lunar or Martian food), we refuse to admit our global humanity; the tribe (ahem) of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

Music, dance, art, food — all of these things tend to unite us. Although, like yourself, I don’t really give a shit about humanity as a cosmic entity, I still like to contemplate grand problems and propose grandiose solutions; they’re like puzzles, intricate quandaries that beg for analysis, elucidation and answers.

And so, in our wretched profundity, embittered by our self administered flagellation, were you to envision a day where your contempt for mankind, as compelling as it might be, is tempered by something, some occurrence, some transformation that renders humanity tolerable—what might that event be? Clearly, sagacious beings before us have gazed upon mankind and hoped someday that our species could elevate itself above its petty differences and see the universe as a frontier only we, humanity can hope to explore. Do you see such a possibility, in some future epoch? A globally shared peanut butter sandwich?

Aw, hell. Fuck that. I’m just yanking your chain. I’m trying to see how many 9+ letter words I can get into a post in remembrance of your dead blogging site.

Oh, and ZorkerBorg? Yeah, fuck him. I despise that pissant, the lucky prick that he is.

Happy dead of winter,

[PS: You’ll notice that if you end a post on a Fuck You tone, few people are wont to comment. I did this intentionally as I wanted to see if both yours and mine both elicited the same disgust. It appears to be the case. I wager that if we end our next correspondences with rainbows and ribbons, we’ll get a different response.]

[PPS: For Mr. Van Helsing, “The Peanut Butter and banana sandwich, or peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich, sometimes referred to as an Elvis sandwich or simply the Elvis, consists of toasted bread slices with peanut butter, sliced or mashed banana, and sometimes bacon. Honey is seen in some variations of the sandwich.” Wikipedia]

Dear Mole: Cliques, Clubs, Clumps & Dung Heaps


Blackfoot, Pawnee, Cheyenne, Crow, Apache, Arapahoe…

The reality of tribes is sadly unavoidable in discussing the troublesome “social animal” design (flaw) of our species, but it’s something that makes me feel a little gross whenever I talk about it.

If you interpreted that to mean that I personally find people to be gross, that’s not too far off the mark.

Of course, we all have an ever-shifting assemblage of tribes to fulfill our strange need for a consensus.  As you accurately surmised, my current circle of influence is relatively small, and the most significant constituent of those interlocking associations happens to be a dog.  In high school, I fell in with a singularly bizarre and fiercely independent group of friends who stayed in touch far longer than one might expect post-graduation.  In recent years, it seems we’ve all realized the wisdom in finally cutting that umbilical, but a few remain close friends.  In the late 80s, our common bond was a ludicrous sense of humor and an affinity for partying.  These days, the only sure common bonds that remain are bilateral symmetry and opposable thumbs.  Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.  Regardless, much of their former influence has proven indelible.

I’ve had my drinking tribe that necessarily moved on once I stopped imbibing.  The specifically non-drinking “recovery” tribe with whom I briefly fell in at that point quickly proved far too insipid and childishly religious for my tastes.  I’ve inadvertently found myself in the midst of other appropriate tribes revolving around punk rock, writing, philosophy, Buddhism, shared political views, and terrible Nickelodeon shows.  I am a person and I am not quite a hermit (yet), so all of this is naturally par for the course.

But as you alluded to in the final paragraph of your letter, the word itself with its newly odious sociopolitical implications makes me bristle at its very utterance.  I remember just a few short years ago, I often found it cute when another blogger would refer to their readership as “their tribe”.  It was relatively innocuous and seemed to foster a sense of inclusion and acceptance.  I no longer find it cute.  It’s gross.

I don’t consider co-workers to be a tribe.  Generating income in a soul-crushing job is the new pursuit of former hunter-gatherers, and the randomness of a company’s staff coupled with the involuntary nature of having to work for a living takes the common bond tribal aspect right out of it.  It can be a tribe if you’re lucky enough to enjoy the company of your fellow automatons, but I would guess that this is a comparative rarity.

People will continue to float in and out of my life for as long as I continue inhabiting this planet.  I try not to attach to them.  Emotional independence is literally all I’ve got going for me.

I also have a very short attention span, my recent monomaniacal blog page notwithstanding.  Usually, within a pretty short time frame, I can extract all the inspiration, education and camaraderie that I seek from a person.   After that, I simply remember them fondly as having been among that rarest of tribes: people who don’t make me want to vomit.  Is it any surprise I’ve never had the desire to marry?

I know that some of this might sound pretty cold, but I venture that it’s true of all of us, to varying degrees.  Embracing an ever-shifting cast of characters while former tribe members necessarily fall off is a form of non-attachment and as such, seems to be a somewhat healthy psychological outlook.

Do you, like me, secretly admire the simple and the stupid?  They may need bigger and more clamorous tribes than you and I, but I also surmise that most of them are considerably happier.  Am I just jumping to arrogant conclusions when I assume such things or do you agree that the bigger one’s intellect, the more potential for depression and existential ennui?

Does my aversion to social media have anything to do with my ever-increasing lack of tolerance for my own species?

Forget that last question, I don’t care if it does.

Fuck Zuckerberg,


Dear Mudge, Tribal Context


Dear Mudge,

Didn’t work a day in 2019? What did you call that work-a-day drudgery where you slogged, scene-by-scene, through that teencom “Fifteen” for Notes from the Avalon? If that wasn’t work, I’ve got a slew of yard “scenes” for you that need editing (mowing and pruning)…

I like your choice in calendars. I, for one, don’t use one. What future event do I have to look forward to that deserves a reminder or planning? Now, if I knew the date and time of my death, I’d gladly buy a stack of calendars (or just the one) to eagerly “X” off the days. I recall a time-management guru who once said, subtract your age from 80, multiple that by 52 and go buy that many marbles, placing them in a jar on your shelf. Every Saturday, take one out and throw it away. A sobering reminder of the passage of time.

In this letter I’d like to examine the concept of tribes and the context they provide.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that within this narrow context of our correspondence we’ve developed a tribe of sorts, surely between the two of us, but I’d expand the embrace and say there are numerous others who participate in this philosophical experiment—the examination of life’s puzzles and choices, being the focus. And within that focus, were recommendations voiced: movies, books, cartoons, art, etc. we’d be inclined to trust those recommendations. Trust the Tribe.

Other tribes that we might examine are satellite to this one but still important: one’s family, one’s work place, other’s whom you share thoughts of cuisine, travel, hobbies, and so forth. All tribal circles, if you will, that, within their own context, provide valuable guidance in choosing directions.

TomBeingTom, for instance, has his football/beer tribe, a group he trusts to recommend like-minded pursuits and suggestions: restaurants, team sports, BBQ recipes, cheese-dip… From them, he’s unlikely to accept advice on erudite non-fiction books regarding human evolution. He’s got other tribes for that.

In this way, the cultivation of numerous, individual tribal contexts seems like a crucial aspect to developing a working, enjoyable lifestyle. Different peeps for different needs and situations.

Ultimately, it would be nice to have a single context which provides for all one’s questions and accepts, in turn, one’s recommendations. In actuality, just the opposite seems to be the trend, factions of fractions, all with narrowly defined goals and stipulations.

Your tribe selection appears limited. Mine just as much. This tribe of folks here is a strangely time-dominate context, one my wife grudgingly bequeaths.

What are your thoughts on this concept? Additionally, what are your thoughts on how the media has used it to divide and conquer our sentiments and beliefs, and if you have notable tribes, currently or in the past, what might they be and how do you think they influence (have influenced) your life.

New year like the old year, only greyer and slower.

Your friend,

PS: Thanks to Audrey Driscoll for the prompt for this post: The “Why” of recommendations.


Dear Mole,The Oracle in The Kitchen


Does complacency equate to surrender?

I must admit that your seemingly straightforward query presented quite the stumper for me.  After several unsuccessful attempts at answering your question as posed, I realized that I view this problem in reverse, asking instead, “Does ambition equate to surrender?” since the world at large seems determined to dutifully fulfill their “societal obligations”, probably owing to the fact that a willful lack of ambition is what’s truly anathema in our collective finger-wagging discourse.  Or, if you prefer, the reworked question could be phrased: “Do you have the balls to do nothing?

Apparently, I do, because I managed to avoid working a single day in 2019.

Every year, I buy a new wall calendar to hang in the kitchen.  Last year, appropriately enough, it was this:


This year, I realized that if I’m to suspend disbelief and embrace the humanity in my DNA enough to enjoy the new year in ways that go beyond bong hits and iCarly marathons, a different type of wall calendar message for me to superstitiously consult would be in order.  I settled on Rick & Morty, but as soon as I opened it and hung it on the wall, I saw January’s message of surprising and hopefully prescient profundity:


And that’s really it, isn’t it?  When we know nothing matters, which we of course do, then The Universe is ours.

Can’t wait to see what you choose to do with it, ‘Mole.

In A Single Atom,



Dear Mudge, Complacency

Dear Mudge,

Does complacency equate to surrender?

In acquiescence do we relinquish a piece of ourselves to the other side? Is compromise a sign of weakness, or wisdom?

I hear your 2019 summer campaign to battle your own existential apathy, which you overwhelmingly won in the completion of your self-made challenge to document, as a sirens call to a muse I’ll never understand—the Canadian teen-com “Fifteen”, has afforded you some well earned, if unexpected, adulation from various members of the cast of that ignominious cavalcade of petulant pulchritude. Congratulations.

I mention your Quixotic pursuit as you, in contrast to my opening statement, most certainly did not give up in the throes of self-doubt and a certain bet against you (your $1000 remains a debt you may still collect provided you adhere to aforementioned stipulations).

And as I mention your triumph, I can’t help but consider our recent epistolary exchange and how we both appeared to have come to the conclusion that living at the “N’th” level was untenable. And that at least the N-1 level must be embraced in order to not dwell in a perpetual, self-induced living hell.

If what I’ve read on your NFTA blog is indication, I would applaud your expansion of N-1 and hope to read of your pursuits along that vein.

I did, however, begin this treatise with another point in mind regarding complacency. One I hope that, were you to once again take up the pen, you might apply in Ningun 2.0, which is, specifically, writers can never let their characters enjoy a drop of extended comfort.

Dorothy can never, truly, feel comfortable while she travels the lands of OZ. Luke may never enjoy perpetual peace. Frodo must forever endure an unrestful soul. Alice cannot be allowed to put her feet up and take a weekend off. Harry’s Christmas platitudes are mere lozenges dosed with laudanum designed to lure us into languid, lazy lassitude in preparation for the next heavy Hagrid-boot drop.

Briefly, we can never let our characters rest. Readers must feel compelled to turn the page to learn what calamity awaits our hero. Constant, relentless trepidation must permeate our writing. This technique dominates my thoughts as I continue writing on my next major novel effort.

In contrast, for our actual lives, I wish you nothing but placid, Avon waters serenity, dragonflies and water-skippers, ribbon ripples and pareidolian paradolian clouds drifting through your country-picnic days of 2020.

Best in the coming year,


That’s you and me at N-1