Lame Apocalypse

This is not the apocalypse I’ve been hoping for.

In fact, this is no apocalypse at all. This is just people freaking out because this is a NEW way to die, one that nobody has previously experienced. There are still dozens of much more probable ways to die, but we don’t care about those, we know all about those.

It’s the devil we don’t know that instills panic.

Will this devil be worse than suicide? Drug overdoses? Septicemia? Influenza? What about diabetes or auto accidents? Where’s our perspective?

Vanished with the specter of this new addition to our panoply of mortality.

How many apocalyptic authors got that run-on-toilet-paper meme right? None that I’ve read. “Betty, that apocalisp thing they keep talkin’ ’bout on the news is gettin’ mean. Best you go down to the Wal-wart and buy as much damn shit-sheets you can get your hands on.” “Yeah, paper towels’ll do in a pinch.”

With work shut down, with schools closed, with all the banal, mindless pastimes cancelled, how many more of the lower 80% of wage-earners are going to stick a barrel in their mouth, or pop a dozen fentanyl? What will be the fallout from all this draconian “individual distancing” (social distancing — that’s a bloody oxymoron)? Twice as many deaths from the cure than from the cold?

This apocalypse sucks, but it’s all we got. So, I’m enjoying the work-from-home policy—passed down from on high, the extra lunch time, the peaceful time on the toilet (with my hoard of TP), and the new 4:00 PM happy-hour (who’s to know?). I’m no fool though, and so I’m boosting my vitamin-D intake, lots of fluids, and praying that someone will whizz by and breathe me a solid dose of coronavirus cuz’, let’s face it, gotta get busy dying fast or get bored dying slow.

Top 15 Major Causes of Death in the U.S. 2017

Rank Cause of death Number of deaths
1 Heart disease   647,457
2 Malignant neoplasms (tumors)   599,108
3 Accidents (unintentional injuries)   169,936
4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases   160,201
5 Cerebrovascular diseases (stroke)   146,383
6 Alzheimer’s disease   121,404
7 Diabetes   83,564
8 Influenza and pneumonia   55,672
9 Kidney disease   50,633
10 Intentional self-harm (suicide)   47,173
11 Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis   41,743
12 Septicemia   40,922
13 Hypertension (2)   35,316
14 Parkinson’s disease   31,963
15 Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids   20,108
All other causes   561,920
All deaths 2,813,503

 

 

Dear Mole: No Expectations

mcguirk

Since you saw fit to draw me back into the loop of pointlessly pointed pontification, I am going to employ a more fitting approach in the composition of my reply.  This new approach involves even less effort than what was required for any of my past correspondence, as I didn’t even write a draft or formulate any ideas for this one, I just accessed your site and started typing.

I wonder what I’ll say?

There was a recent pseudo-scientific article on CNN advising people to accept their mediocrity in order to eliminate the shame and stress of striving for impossible goals.  This, of course, caught my attention right away but unfortunately, the amateur psychologist that authored it lost his nerve right at the end and added the seemingly obligatory disclaimer “…of course, one must strive to be the best they can be” and that’s when I realized that despite the compelling headline, this guy somehow missed his own point.

If it can be said that I have a goal or purpose in life, it is to master effortless mediocrity.  It isn’t a lack of self-confidence that keeps my sights low, but an actual desire to expend as little effort as possible in the maintenance of a nearly responsibility-free lifestyle.  Do you know what happens to great people when they die?  History’s great masters and geniuses?  The brilliant innovators and movers of society and culture?  They become compost, just like us.  That being said, what the hell is the point of all that expenditure of precious energy?

The slow moving creatures of the world are truly the elite on the Tree of Life.  When you remove human arrogance from the equation (which would, of course, result in a mountain of bullshit colossal enough to Fill Houston), the only measure of an organism’s “success” is its adeptness at survival.  This is why the noble sloth has an average lifespan of three decades compared to the exuberant and enthusiastic dog, which has an average lifespan of one decade.  But the mighty tortoise reigns supreme, slogging along at its sub-leisurely pace for over a century.  See a pattern here?

Regardless, humanity at large has been so conditioned in the opposite direction that my championing of the average is usually met by one of two responses: patronizing amusement or straight up anger.  The latter response is the result of someone so indoctrinated by the Cult of Effort that he or she is incapable of relaxing their standards in the naive hope of achieving “greatness”.  Thus oriented, a willful slacker like myself represents to them the most offensive and threatening kind of person alive.

Writing is something I do if/when it’s fun.  I am never going to be famous, renowned or even published and that’s not just okay with me, it’s exactly the way I like it.  I don’t create outlines or multiple drafts or any of that stuff that was invented to take all the fun out of the written word.  The reason I continue to write is no different than the reason I continue to watch three hour blocks of cartoons on Adult Swim every night while taking copious bong hits.  Sometimes it’s fun, often it’s relaxing, but what it never is is important.  As soon as something becomes important, I avoid it like the plague.

I greatly enjoyed your take on our current case of The Plague, incidentally.  Stocks plummeting is a beautiful thing.  I almost want to say that it’s an important thing, but then I’d have to go back and edit some things I already said and frankly, that doesn’t sound like any fucking fun at all.

Plague,

‘Mudge

 

When Shit Happens

How I love it when shit happens.

Despite anyone’s valiant attempts to strive for their personal goals, the world comes along and fucks shit up. Everyone’s shit.

And the realization that nothing you do will amount to anything, or, in Willy Wonka reverse notation, everything you do will amount to nothing, is first and foremost in everyone’s mind as the world comes apart in this /barely/ registered blip of illness called COVID-19.

Holy Hell Folks. 150,000 people die EVERY DAY on this planet. and that 15,000 “extra” dead folks after 2 months of illness is somehow a God-Enacted-Disaster is just so much bunk.

When the stock market tanks I stand up and cheer: screw you, you arrogant Wall Street fucks! (I worked writing trading software for eight years and know how it really works… Traders are assholes and corporations are the scourge of the Earth.)

So, to watch the market plummet TEN PERCENT in one day, Hallelujah, absolution is at hand. Of course, the economy is in good shape: banks, employment, oil prices, interest rates, lack of a war or agricultural calamity — good shape. When this brouhaha bleeds into the history books, the general markets will come screaming back.

But in the interim, gottdamn I love to watch the world squirm, dangling on its own false hooks.

 

Dear Mudge, Low expectations

Dear Mudge,

It seems only yesterday we were dueling on the net, our repartee sizzling the CAT-5, irreverent comments paying no heed to sensitive sensibilities. Alas, a break was called for. Perhaps a slower, indolent pace could be reinstated. We’ll see. I know that you’re feverishly penning your NotesFromTheAvalon screen-narrative “Fifty” for eventual sale to Netflix or HBO so I won’t keep you.

I’ve found a pleasant background noise and visual diversion on, of all places, my TV. Through Xfinity (part of the Comcast monopoly) I can hook into YouTube. There, we have access to an amazing assortment of hours-long video. Below is a photo of one of them, some beach scene from some lonely tropical location. The waves murmur, the water lures your eyes, which blur allowing your mind to drift…

tv-beach-loop-youtube

There are fireplace loops, mountain stream loops, even live feeds, all of them soothing and perfect white noise generators for a living room or bedroom. The “YuleLog” key word will find a bevvy of crackling birchwood videos, perfect for a cold evening. “Deserted beach” will find you a list of exotic locations that will lull you to sleep with their sussurations. Instead of allowing talking-head idiots or stale reruns to dominate one’s TV experience, this option is an excellent stand-in for a peaceful accompaniment to other in-home activities.

I must say, regarding your Fifteen to Fifty posts, you’ve got a knack at creating excellent tension and perfect scene length. Your narrative is, as one would expect coming from you, somewhat cultivated, more so than television patrons are apt to even comprehend. But it fits with your history. We’re going to have to figure out how to broadcast your coverage. Others need to experience this developing mini-series.

I can’t wait to read of Rosie Marie’s baby and how it sucked the souls from that third-grade class, leaving mindless husks where eight year-olds used to dream of Pokemon. That and the body discovered in the 1990’s GeoStorm found beneath the Columbus Street bridge and how it still had that pistol in the victim’s hand. What will Danielson do with all that cocaine found in the backseat? And those vials? What the hell is in those vials?

On pins and syringe needles,
‘Mole

 

Writer’s Log: 2184 Writer’s Workshop 2

Yep, I’m organizing another workshop; getting together a bunch of folks who’ll have me drone on about this or that. I’ve already received numerous, secondary submissions which I’ve edited. Sheesh, to endure this whole thing a second time? Writers!

Albeit, I’ve created another slide deck to dazzle them:
GDocs to the rescue
(Realize, this deck is meant to spur discussion, not complete it. Feel free to share your corrections/comments, this is a community effort after all.)

We will have additional material to pick apart as I include some external content. There’s this guy, a real annoying guy, a writer, who drills me with email promotion nonsense daily. However, he’s got some damn solid things to say. So, I included them as, hell the more fodder you throw at the novice writer the more chance something sticks. Just look at me and the onslaught I endured to get even this far.

I also sprinkled in C.S.Lakin’s twelve pillars. Okay, I admit I’ve got that list plastered as a background on my home PC. Really, really. Concept with a kicker? Fuck me Alex, that is like the circus tent pole holding up the universe; the turtle crawling about the nothingness carrying about the cosmos encrusted on his shell. You think you can just sit and write a story — without grounding it in a solid foundation of myth and mystery? You can’t.

Some good will come of all of this, even if nobody “graduates” from my school for the delusional. What might that good be? I’ve learned a shit-ton just researching and attempting to presume I might have a thing or two to pass on. Teachers must all die wise, don’t you think?

 

Writer’s Log: 2182

I’ve been reading a few writer’s craft books. One recommended by our favorite Writer’s Grinch, The Lie that tells a Truth. The other is the Twelve Key Pillars of Novel Construction (links below).

The first so far, feels like being tormented by my personal writer’s cheerleading demon. “Write this, write that. Come on Duffy, get off your arse and write me a scene about how your characters would react to seeing a fruit-stand purveyor being gang raped by a band of capuchin monkeys.”

The other, the 12 Pillars one, provides a holistic approach, a “You gotta start with a concept with heart, a protagonist with cajones, a theme with a big-hair metal-band rhapsody.”

I’ll get through them and I suspect, learn a bit along the way.

What I’ve noticed, in the interim, is that I’ve tightened my whole mental process of words to paper. I’ve adopted the, readers are smart, just tell them the bare minimum approach. And this works well. My stories speed up. I have to write less to get my ideas across. I get to rip along with plot. In general, and in tribute to our Grinch, less is more.

Nuance rules.

What’s more important to recognize is that this metamorphosis has taken roughly five years to accomplish. Five painful years to learn that the heart of the story must not be obscured with needless decoration. Story essential comes home to roost.

Marjorie sighed.
Clayton touched her arm. “That bad?”
She scratched a fingernail across the worn arm of her chair. “Worse.”
Her husband stood and gazed out the window. “It’s done then?”
“Unless you cut it off completely.” Marjorie pulled a loose thread, let it drift to the floor.
“I can’t,” Clayton said.
”Then, neither will I.”

 

Apocalyptic Scenarios 7-2-4

If you haven’t enjoyed any apocalyptic scenarios lately, here are three you might have missed, one recently released: Sunday 3/1/2020.

This one is about a super volcano that has and will erupt again in the Taupo district in New Zealand. Here.

In this one we have another play on the CME that is coming and will definitely destroy humanity’s electrical capacity. Here.

And our final one is about the eventual collapse of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, including what climate change is doing to all coral island nations in the Pacific. Here.