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Feeling Eeyore-ish

I was getting a little down in the mouth. Low. Put-upon. Weary. But then the Maslach Burnout Inventory hove into view, and made my day a little brighter. It’s based on information from the World Health Organization, so you just know it’s rock solid stuff. They’re batting something like a thousand lately, if my memory doesn’t fail me. Or if my memory doesn’t fail me. I imagine since they’ve cured all the other diseases, they have time to worry if you have too many Post-it notes spangling the frame on your computer monitor.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The test didn’t improve my life one whit. If you’re younger, you may not know that a whit is 3/117ths of a cubit. Never mind that. If you’re feeling Eeoyore-ish, and work has got you down, you’ve just got to put down your iPhone and pick up your pencil and take the test. I did it online, and I feel ever so much better.

I dutifully started filling out the forms.  It interrupted me halfway through, and informed me that based on my answers so far, I was an angry mob, and each of us should put down the pitchforks and take the test separately. I assured the imaginary docent that it was just me and the cat in the room, and the cat was pretty mellow except at 7:08 every morning when the bowls are still empty.

I toted up my score, and the little “Scoring Results — Interpretation” section at the end cheered me right up. According to the test, I was legally entitled to commit a three-state killing spree to relax and unwind at the end of a long day. I was “past tense,” if you know what I mean. Your mileage may vary. Your job description might be different than mine. You might only be entitled to mutter imprecations under your breath when the HR lady waddles by.

To give you some idea of the questions, here’s the first of three sections:

If you’re having trouble, I’ll coach you through it. See? Many hands make light work. Your day is brightening already. You’re welcome in advance.

  • I feel emotionally drained by my work — This just means the test was written by a woman. Men don’t talk like that. They say things like, “Urge to kill rising” when asked to put a cover sheet on the TPS reports for the third time in three hours.
  • Working with people all day long requires a great deal of effort — You need to put things in perspective, here, to fill in the answer correctly. For instance, if you’re a lion tamer at the circus, you might find dealing with people all day more restful than your leonine charges, especially if you can goad the lions a bit when any sales weasels comes into range.
  • I feel like my work is breaking me down — This is how you know this test is by and for cubicle jockeys. I’ve known many bricklayers, for instance. They don’t look at each other and say, “I feel like my work is breaking me down.” They go home and fall asleep in their dirty clothes in the reclining chair after making oooph and ugghhh noises while sitting down. Their X-rays say that their work is breaking them down. Surveys not necessary.
  • I feel I work too hard at my job — There’s a layup for you. Everyone thinks that. I’m sure even Salma Hayek’s brassiere fitter would say something like that. Then again, he’d be sorta right, but not accurate.
  • It stresses me too much to work in direct contact with people — Well, I have no idea who exactly reads this blog, so you could be a prostitute. Answer the question and leave me out of it.
  • I feel like I’m at the end of my rope — If I’m not dancing at the end of my rope, I’d count myself lucky. You should too.

There’s a couple more sections for you to fill out. I’d help you through them, but working with people all day long requires a great deal of effort. Damn. Anybody got an eraser? I gotta fix the second answer.

Take the whole Maslach Burnout Inventory here.

Heavy Mental

Look, Loki, we’re going to be talking science here. Not “The Science,” like people who are gulled by articles in regular newspapers. I mean honest to goodness science. Hard evidence. Statistics. Here it comes, so to speak: Heavy Metal is for wankers.

Let’s plow right into the data. Wander on over to, and peruse Extreme metal guitar skills linked to intrasexual competition, but not mating success. It’s just a summary of a hardcore paper over at the American Psychological Association, but it’ll save you from having to read one of those pdfs with scatter plots and bar charts and control group flim flam and other assorted massage techniques for statistics. The “Impact Statement” over at the source material is a hoot, though, and drives right to the basket, as it were:

This study explores the idea that heterosexual male metal guitarists are motivated to invest heavily in getting good at guitar to primarily impress other men. The study’s results provide some support for this idea. Additionally, metal guitarists also seem to be somewhat motivated by a desire for casual sex. (link)

Please note that they’re motivated by a desire for casual sex. That doesn’t mean they’re gonna get any. As my friend Shaky Bill might say, it provokes the desire but it takes away the performance, due to a performance that features shredding. Heavy metal guitarists are mostly in store for the most casual kind of sex, the kind with no one else present. It’s science!

This is very old news to anyone who’s actually worked in the regular cover band music business. Once, on a lark, I tried to explain to people why playing guitar hero songs like Sultans of Swing was a bad idea if you wanted a female human still  present when you finished up. I had a hard time making myself understood. That isn’t even in the neighborhood of Heavy Metal, but the phenomenon is exactly the same. I’ve gone over this ground before:

Sultans of Swing is just Freebird for people who’d rather watch My Dinner with Andre instead of NASCAR on TV

“Making myself understood” with people reading on the internet, I mean. We had plenty of luck making ouselves understood back in the day. We played in bands that performed covers of stuff like the following instead of Sultans of Swing. Believe you me, girls understood exactly what we were after:

Now, I’m not claiming you could get Helen Reddy to panty drop just by playing Funky Music. You’d probably have to play Funky Music and get two or three Sloe Gin Fizzes in her, too. But covering a Black Sabbath number is definitely not going to get you home without duct tape, rope, and rohypnol. God, we all knew that back in the day. Did you really think we played disco because we liked it?

There’s no joke so wild that you can make these days that events won’t overtake it. For example, Spinal Tap was a great parody of the genre. Here’s the script:

MARTY: Let’s talk about your music today…uh…one thing that puzzles me …um…is the make up of your audience
seems to be …uh… predominately young boys.
D AVID: Well it’s a sexual thing, really isn’t it? Aside from the identifying the boys do with us there’s also a re-reaction
to the female…..of the female to our music. How did you put it?
NIGEL: Really they’re quite fearful—that’s my theory. They see us on stage with tight trousers. We’ve got, you know,
armadillos in our trousers. I mean it’s really quite frightening…
DAVID: Yeah.
NIGEL: …the size…and and they, they run screaming

And here we are, back to THE SCIENCE:

Although there is evidence that playing music increases male attractiveness, the sexual selection explanation may not be mutually exclusive to all types of music. Extreme metal is a genre that is heavily male-biased, not only among the individuals that play this style of music, but also among the fans of the genre.

Do tell. Of course being scienticians or psychomechanics or whatever the capital letters after their names mean, they get the right data and then bollix up the conclusions:

Therefore, it is unlikely that extreme metal musicians are primarily trying to increase their mating success through their music.

There’s wrong, and then there’s the wrong like that sentence. You need a map to travel far enough out into the wrongness to deal with that begged question. The stats and your humble narrator says playing metal guitar doesn’t help you one whit with the ladies, and may actually hurt your chances. Good so far. But they extrapolate that the men who endlessly practice two finger barre chords with the fuzz box on eleven must be doing it for some other reason than getting chicks, because they can’t get any.  Says who? Assuming that rational people would discover that metal music checks exactly zero female boxes, which would lead to self-awareness and a change to performing Marvin Gaye covers, has nothing to do with metal players. They’re simply failing, over and over, and never figuring out why.

I’ll give you a much more trenchant example of the phenomenon. I double dog dare you to find any metal band, anywhere, at any time, getting over better with a room full of hot babes than this dude:

You just know what that guy is swimming in, and it ain’t due to Blue Oyster Cult covers.

But there’s one more data point I can let you all in on. In a way, it’s borderline anecdotal, but I gotsa lotta anecdotes at my disposal. Here goes: It doesn’t matter what kind of guitar genre you learn. She always goes home with the bass player anyway. Deal wif it.


If It Wisnae Fur Yer Wellies

It’s a shame this fellow doesn’t speak English. A song like this could have been big here in the States.

Some changes would have been in order. It’s harder to work LL Bean gumboots into a lyric, but he could have had a go at it. He’d be hard pressed to find an audience of Presbyterians here in the US to sit still like that, and smile quietly to themselves throughout his performance. And he’d have to kill a Bee Gee to get ahold of that shirt if he forgot to bring one with him. But a fine effort, overall, don’t you think?

Top Ten Adviceses for Aspirating Writerers

Before I begin with the advices, I’m required to pull rank somehow. Lay out my bona fidos. In order to tempt you to take writing advice from me, I have to lure you into thinking that I’ve managed to produce some form of folding money by writing. That’s the Holy Grail, and I have to convince you I’ve had a swig from it before you’ll listen to me. Here goes: I’m such a good writer that I have intermittently been able to cover the monthly fee for keeping a bank account open to accept the money I’ve earned by writing. I know, huh? How awesome is that?

I don’t mean to brag, but I have adjectives I haven’t even used yet. I can swear more convincingly than Edna St. Vincent Millay and write dialog better than any you’ll find in the Encyclopedia Britannica. I can make grown men weep and women violent. I have the touch, and I’m here to give you the benefit of my touching.

I started out fairly wretched, so it was easier for me to become an inkstained wretch than most people. I wrote a book that had pages with printing on both sides and two covers that were too far apart. I sold several copies of that book to drunk persons who found themselves on Amazon at 4 AM (it’s my target demographic). That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have that kind of luck. Those people might have sobered up by now. I advise you to start off slowly and confine yourself to writing for the Internets. But whatever you decide, make sure you confine yourself, or someone else will.

Here’s my Top Ten Adviceses for Aspirating Writerers:

  1. Make sure all the guidance you seek out on any topic is from a deciled list. Never read anything with even a hint of paragraphs about it. Numbered pages are right out. Don’t waste your time with any wild-eyed iconoclasts while you’re poking around the Intertunnel looking for your lists. Remember that nothing important ever consists of nine or eleven items. Ten items is your guarantee of quality.
  2. Use words like “deciled” in your writing. It wasn’t a word until I made it a word in the previous entry on this list. Sprinkle in words like that, and pretty soon your blog or website or honeypot or whatever will be search engine optimized to be Numero Uno, baby, whenever anyone uses Google to look for words that don’t exist. Just watch the money roll in from that.
  3. Only express strong opinions about who shot first or the dress some talentless skank was wearing at the Oscars. All other opinions will be met with an endless cavalcade of death threats on Twitter and bad reviews on Yelp! — whether or not you own a business. Yelpers will found a company under your name, rent a strip mall storefront, and then fill it with employees just so they can give you bad reviews if you express certain opinions that are beyond the pale. Never mention that Windows 10 works just fine, for instance.
  4. Make sure you tell everyone how passionate you are about writing. Let’s say you’re applying for a job offered by a Bangladeshi spammer on People per Hour to fill out an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the comments he’s leaving on abandoned blogs for generic Nair for back hair. It’s really important for you to assure him how passionate you are about that type of work. The job pays almost as well as delivering gluten-free pizza using Uber cab service, so you’re going to have to show some serious passion if you want to beat out Mikayla, Michaela, Makaila, Makhailla, and Premjit for the job.
  5. You need a headshot photo. Make sure it’s taken of you, by you, at arm’s length. Employers have learned to trust only people who appear to be furtively looking up at the surveillance camera in a convenience store while pursing their lips into a kind of smirk. It gives off a vibe that screams: passion.
  6. Sometimes passion alone isn’t enough to get that Kenyan to award you that erotic fiction e-book gig. That’s when you need to haul out the big guns, and assure them that you have a real “flare” for writing to amplify all that passion.
  7. You’re going to have to know all about how sexy a werewolf is. You can’t limit your ability to textually sexify werewolves solely to the terrestrial kind, either. Bone up on sexy interstellar  werewolves along with the domestic breeds. It never hurts to have a minor in Sexy Vampirism to go with your B.A. in Libidinous Lycanthropy.
  8. Don’t make the mistake of offering content that’s too challenging for the average college-educated person to understand. I mean, does that GIF really need to be animated? Can’t it just be a GIF?
  9. Use mnemonic devices to organize your daily efforts. For instance, I keep a little framed sign on my desk that says: K.I.S.S.. It’s an acronym that reminds me that if I don’t write something and sell it soon, I might be Killed Indiscriminately by the ShutzStaffel. I think that’s what it stands for. I got it from the tail end of a deciled list and can only remember the first three items. Number 4 was an animated GIF, and I got confounded.
  10. Under no circumstances get a real job and leave writing to people who are good at it. Get a real job and then use the office computer to write badly and show those starving writers they’re starving for a reason.

Well, there you have it. You’re now ready to enter the lucrative world of Intertunnel writing. If you’re wondering if my advice is any better than the other 40,995,651 websites offering writing advice, I urge you to search on Google for “Top Ten Adviceses for Aspirating Writerers.” I assure you I’ll be the very first entry on the search results. That’s how the quality of everything on the Intertunnel is determined.

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Excuse me, did you say “42”? Because 42 is so last week. I have discovered the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and it’s a lot more useful and comprehensible than 42.

My wife was accosted in the supermarket parking lot by some ill-mannered brigands, otherwise known as female high school students. Don’t get me wrong; people are more mannerly and friendly in Maine than in other places I have known. But there are many interactions between persons that have been bent by circumstance. One thing used to mean one thing, and now means another. The form of the thing remains, but it’s reflected in a dirty funhouse mirror.

That is to say: a dirty mirror in a funhouse, not a mirror in a dirty funhouse. A dirty funhouse sounds like fun to my ear. Upon reflection, I’ve been in a dirty funhouse before. It was fun. Walmart is not fun, but it is dirty. It’s installed dirty, I think. All the surfaces look drear on day one. The sky was lowering and the occasional urban jellyfish was buoyed on the breeze pregnant with rain, and …

Sorry, I turned into David Foster Wallace there for a minute. Anyway, the old trouble and strife needed provisions, and she had to pass the portals of Dante’s Always Low Prices and Common Denominator Warehouse to get them. That was the precise moment that she was waylaid, when she was girding her loins and shrugging from a low-rent blow from an existential god unseen — the exact moment we discovered the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. The students sauntered up to my wife, and importunately asked if she would like to buy a candy bar to send a kid to camp.

My wife is very quiet and reserved. She smiles a lot, but she doesn’t talk very much. I have always depended on her steadiness, because I am mercurial. I wonder if there is anyone in this world who has anything bad to say about her, other than she chooses husbands in lighting not suitable for buying off-brand bales of hay. Anyway, she was caught somewhat unawares, and didn’t have a moment to parse what she said carefully for its effect. She just asked, more or less politely, “Why would I want to do that?”

They backed up like people who had opened a mummy’s tomb and heard Egyptian being spoken. It was as unanswerable as a tax bill.

Don’t you see? Can’t you see it? It’s the answer to everything. It’s the Swiss army knife of life, with the little can-opener dongle on it, except instead of opening cans it opens universes. If everyone would answer 99 percent of the questions put to them every day with, “Why would I want to do that?”, the world would be a better place. Not just for the questioner. All manner of mischief would fold up and die and I wouldn’t get messages from Nigerian princelings anymore because every offer to send a million dollars tax-free would be met with, “Why would I want to do that?”

I recognized it like a lost friend. It’s the phrase I’ve been thinking but not saying, morning, noon and night, for years on end, whenever anyone asks me anything about anything. It is my default position for everything, I’ve just never uttered it.

Why would I want to do that?

Look at it. It’s a daisy. It’s magnificent. No, really try it out. Try it right now. It works on everything.

“For only five dollars more a month, you can add over 250 channels of television programming to your monthly Internet bill.”
“Why would I want to do that?”

“If you act now, you’ll receive a free coupon that will allow you to take the whole family to Disneyland!”
“Why would I want to do that?”

“This new button on YouTube lets you autoplay all the videos in the right-hand column!”
“Why would I want to do that?”

“Sign up for Facebook and find your friends. Create an account to start sharing photos and updates with people you know!”
“Why would I want to do that?”

“You can read the New York Times on your smartphone for free!”
“Why would I want to do that?”

“For only $200, you can have an Amazon Echo device that will let you use voice activation to stream music from a smartphone app wirelessly!”
“Why would I want to do that?”

” You can donate $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund”


It was there that my slogan failed the ultimate test of life, the universe, and everything. Because it had to be modified in this one instance, it was not universal, and with the modification, the phrase reads and sounds less lyrical to the ear:

“Why in the name of Honore de Balzac would I want to do that you buttmunch dillhole *deep breath* me cago en la leche *deep breath* yela’an sabe’a jad lak *deep breath* nide muchin shr ega da wukwei *deep breath* krisnera zhazh tan vred *deep breath*. Now go piss into a transformer.”

It just doesn’t roll off the tongue. Back to the drawing board.

Read The Rumford Meteor Before the Pixels Go Bad

A neighbor of mine named Aubuchon Connery publishes a newspaper all about Maine called The Rumford Meteor. It’s a daisy.

The Rumford Meteor is full of interesting facts. The fact that the facts ain’t factual never puts him off the scent. He seems to get to the facts no matter where you bury them. He’ll dig through a ton of manure to get a turnip, that boy. He’s as honest as the day is long. You can tell from his handshake, which is firm, and smells a bit like turnip, and something else I can’t quite put my finger on. No matter. That boy’s not half bad I tell you what.

When we see Aubuchon commuting home from the Meteor office to his yurt on his recumbent bicycle, we always water the soup and invite him in to join us for dinner. He’s deuced quiet, that boy. Doesn’t like to talk about himself. You could tell he had a sad tale to tell, and one day when the soup ran out, he mentioned how he ended up all alone in this world.

Every year Aubuchon and his wife, Large Marge, would go to the East Lebanon County Agricultural Fair, Tractor Pull, and Fashion Show. He’d look at the tractors and inquire from the owners how much they thought each was worth, and where exactly they kept them at night. I’ve always found Aubuchon to be very solicitous in such matters; it’s a sign of his innate goodness, I think, to worry over other people’s possessions like they were his own.

While he was doing that, Large Marge would go to the fashion show to see what kind of waders were in that year, and to see if her Craftsman lingerie had come in by mail order yet. Then Aubuchon and Marge would get in a terrible row, I tell you what. Every year it was the same thing. There was a man with a cropduster biplane with two seats, and he sold rides for $5, and every year, Aubuchon wanted that ride so bad he would have sold a kidney for it if he had one that worked. Marge said, “NO!,” every year, and for the same reason each time. “Five dollars is five dollars, Aubuchon,” and that was that. It was logic as impenetrable as Doomsday, and there was no hammer lane around it. “Five dollars is five dollars!” can’t be reasoned with, and it can’t be bargained with.

After five or ten years of hearing Aubuchon plead and Marge say, “Five dollars is five dollars,” the pilot of that crop duster felt sad for Aubuchon and saw an opening with Large Marge. That woman had a prodigious piehole, and he knew it. He made them an offer.

“I’ll tell you what. You two take the ride together, and if you can both keep absolutely silent for the whole trip, I’ll give you the ride for free. If either of you say a word, you pay me five dollars.”

Marge jumped at the chance, but Aubuchon looked cagey about the whole deal. Still, it was his only chance, and he took it. That pilot sat up front with the joystick and the dials, and Large Marge and Aubuchon packed themselves in the back seat like peas and carrots I tell you what. That pilot had a black heart and an empty wallet, and he was determined to get that five dollars. He took them up to treetop level, and gave them what for. He did barrel rolls, outside loops, and tickled the tops of the blue spruces with the landing gear. Not a peep. He upped the ante. He choked the engine into a stall, and plummeted toward the earth like a stone until he got nervous, and then pulled out. Not a whimper. He knew he’d been bested.

They landed, and the pilot fiddled with the knobs and whatnot that pilots fiddle with. Aubuchon was standing next to the plane, and tapped him on the elbow.

“Thanks for the ride. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.”
“How did your wife like it?”
“Well, I don’t know. She fell out about a half way through.”
“Mister, like Marge always said, five dollars is five dollars.”

Read the The Rumford Meteor. Do it for Marge

Forget It Sippican. It’s Internettown

Evelyn Mulwray: Tell me, Mr. Sippican: Does this often happen to you?

Sippican: What’s that?

Evelyn Mulwray: Well, I’m judging only on the basis of one afternoon and an evening, but, uh, if this is how you go about your blogging, I’d say you’d be lucky to, uh, get through a whole day.

Sippican: Actually, this hasn’t happened to me for a long time.

Evelyn Mulwray: When was the last time?

Sippican: Why?

Evelyn Mulwray: It’s an innocent question.

Sippican: In Internettown.

Evelyn Mulwray: What were you doing there?

Sippican: Blogging for nothing.

Evelyn Mulwray: Doing what?

Sippican: As little as possible.

Evelyn Mulwray: The Internet gives their men advice like that?

Sippican: They do in Internettown.

Real Men of Genius, Chapter Eleventy-Two: Creatividad con Sencillez

The title means: creativity with simplicity. I’m not sure it qualifies, really. If all you’re trying to do is keep the cows from getting out of the enclosure every time someone drives through, it would be much simpler to kill all the cows right away and then eat them.

I’m here to help. If you have a problem that requires creativity with simplicity, let me know. I’ve often overheard people remarking on how creative and simple I am, so it must be true.

Ode to a Drywalled Hellhole

Ode to a Drywalled Hellhole

by: Wes Montgomery Burns

Though you should build a breakfast bar in divorced men’s homes,
Install a concrete counter made precast,
Stitch estimates together for the sale, with loans
To fill it out, inkstained and aghast;
Although your profit be a bill of sale,
Long overdue, yet still hard with agony,
Your mortgage large uprootings from the skull
Of bald Bernanke; certes she would fail
To find her checkbook, unless she
Dreameth in aisles of DSW in the mall.

Death By Oklahoma

A Christmas Carol, Also Known As: You’re My Delta House Lady

Cocker was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the barman, the A&R weasel, Google analytics, and the chief mourner. Rolling Stone signed it: and Rolling Stone’s name was as good as a contract with Alan B. Klein, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Cocker was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade, and Joe had smoked four packs a day of coffin-nails for decades. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Cocker was as dead as a door-nail.

Rolling Stone Magazine knew he was dead? Of course they did. How could it be otherwise? Rolling Stone and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Rolling Stone was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Rolling Stone was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that they were excellent men of business on the very day of the funeral, and will solemnise it with an undoubted bargain reprint of a Mad Dogs and Englishman review from 1970 that said that “the album lacks stylistic variety.”

The mention of Cocker’s YouTube funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Cocker was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say the Washington Square Arch for instance—literally to astonish his son’s weak mind with his twitching.

Rolling Stone Magazine never painted out Old Cocker’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, no matter how many times Nicki Minaj appeared on the cover, above the warehouse door: Rolling Stone and Cocker. The firm was known as  Rolling Stone and Cocker. Sometimes people new to the business called Rolling Stone Rolling Stone, and sometimes Cocker, but they answered to both names. It was all the same to them.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Rolling Stone! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster, with a bit of tabasco and horseradish and some Grey Goose from the icebox, natch. The cold within the Rolling Stone office froze their old features, nipped their pointed noses, shrivelled their cheeks, stiffened their gait; made their eyes red, their thin blood even bluer; and spoke out shrewdly in their grating text. A frosty rime was on their masthead, and on their website, and their reviews of Maroon 5. They carried their own low temperature always about with them; they drank Starbucks iced coffee in their office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Festivus or Kwanzaa.

External heat and cold had little influence on Rolling Stone Magazine. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill them. No wind that blew was bitterer than Matt Taibbi, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have them. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over them in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Rolling Stone never did.

Nobody ever stopped them in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Rolling Stone, how are you? When will you come to see my indie band?” No beggars implored them to bestow a trifle, no children asked them what the Arctic Monkeys were up to, no man or woman ever once in all their  life inquired of them the way to anywhere outside of Manhattan, of Rolling Stone. Even the blind men’s service dogs appeared to know them; and when they saw them coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and into the lobby of a Chemical Bank; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

But what did Rolling Stone care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, at least kept the phone from ringing and interrupting his brown studies. It was the reason why everyone ended up with forty subscriptions to Vibe.

Once upon a time—of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve—old Rolling Stone sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: global warming cold: and he could hear the people in the court outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to protest something or other. The city clocks had only just gone three, so the sanitation workers were already home in bed, but it was quite dark already—it had not been light all day—and wan CFLs were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring in at every chink and revolving door, and was so dense without, that although the Avenue of the Americas was of the narrowest, the counting houses opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought that New Jersey was hard by, and their tawdry middle-class weather was thinking of moving to a rent-controlled loft their cousin had in the Bronx.

The door of Rolling Stone’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerks, who in dismal little cells beyond, a sort of tank, were inventing rapes. Rolling Stone himself had a very small screen with little information, but the clerks’ screens were so very much smaller that they looked like one pixel. But they couldn’t replenish them, for Rolling Stone kept the fact box in his own room; and so surely if any clerk came in with a thumb drive, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on her Rag & Bone $350 Trucker Shirt, her $495 Cannon Jacket, and her $1,195 Coldweather Parka, and tried to warm herself at the fluorescent light; in which effort, even being a woman of a very, very, very powerful imagination, or none at all, depending on how you look at it, she failed.

“Joe Cocker is dead, Rolling Stone! Gaia save you!” cried a voice that turned every sentence into a question by going up an octave on the last syllable. It was the voice of Rolling Stone’s amanuensis, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of her approach.

“Bah!” said Rolling Stone, “I always liked John Sebastian’s version of Darling Be Home Soon better anyway!” 


Tag: humor

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