Thursday, December 31, 2015

FULLY CLOTHED WOMEN, A RETROSPECTIVE

We didnt expect to his 100 posts for the year, but it looks like we made it to that pretty easily. A good percentage of the posts were original, and some of them were really pretty good. We werent sure how to close out the year. We noticed we had not done a "Fully Clothed Women" in a long time, and have a lot of material from our FB album of that name. It has been a few years since FB took any of my pics down, so we must be keeping it clean enough for community standards

So here are a few from the last year and a half or so.




Body Language. Lots of Body language.

Just look at all the Body language.





"The color is gone

everything is Autumns end,
washed too many times
And then I see something red
a firebush still in leaf
and it takes me like you take  me:

tightening my heart, 

flooding me with blood… 

as if late Autumn red 

walked naked from her bath, 
came wet to my bed 
and said, “I’ve been a bad girl."



"Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?"
Danielle LaPorte 



"...a girl worth kissing, is not easily kissed..." 




I guess I went on a Raymond Chandler kick. What a wonderfully expressive wrter. I should actually read one of his books this year. Here are two of about eight I did.

“She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air.”
Raymond Chandler


 “There are blonde and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points...
There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very, very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you found about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or Lucrezia’s poison vial. 
There is the soft and willing alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pale and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading the Wasteland or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provencal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindesmith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also.
That makes two of them."
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye



"Its not far down to paradise..."




"Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it - the same night, as a matter of fact."
Holden Caufield from "Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger



.

“In Michaela's favourite restaurant, I lift my glass and cutlery spills onto the expensive tiled floor. The sound crashes high as the skylight. Looking at me, Michaela pushes her own silverware over the edge. I fell in love amid the clattering of spoons....”

~ Anne Michaels, from Fugitive Pieces

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM BULLETHOLES

Oh, OK, one more. We weigh heavily what gets into Fully Clothed Women, and why its gets there.
Sometimes we commemorate a great event, or a birth, or even a death as we did earlier this year with Maureen O'Hara. Something about this image, and the story, just tears me up. Maybe its because we are all so damaged and that sadly, a little bit of Kindness goes a long long ways.
Or maybe its because, happily, a little bit of Kindness goes such a long long ways.


                "SHE GAVE HIM WATER"

Saturday, December 26, 2015

THE ROOTS OF HARMONY

In the NA literature it talks about Self-Centeredness being the root of our disease.
At first I didn't understand what that was about. Over time though, I started to look at it a little differently. I had to ask myself "Ok, so what is the root of my Self-Centeredness?"

Haha! That was easy! The root of my Self-Centeredness is that I like to be right.
I love to be right. I'll do anything to be right. I will (and have) stayed up all night researching something I know nothing about just to make sure I'm right. And the end result? I'm right about a lot of shit. I'm a know it all. I'm an asshole.

Also in the literature is this. That we should focus more on understanding than being understood.
I like that. Maybe that's what keeps me from being a bigger asshole than I already am.
Its interesting to watch the country these days. It seems to me the country is trying to figure this out as well.
How to balance Religious Freedom with individual rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
How to balance Freedom of Speech with whether its OK to sing racist songs on the back of a bus, or in the schoolroom cafeteria.
Whether a Jewish baker is required to bake a cake for Hitlers Birthday, and what the "Right to Refuse Service "is about.

I find all this fascinating. And it seems to me the courts are doing a pretty good job of coming to good understandings of all this.

For me, what the program has taught me, and what I do really well when I practice it, is to say the following four things. They keep me in Harmony with the rest of the world, more or less:

1) "OK." For a guy that will argue with a wall, its really great to start my day off by saying these two words. The world responds to "OK".
"Steve, will you take this ten dollars I am giving you, light it on fire and put the ashes in the trashcan?"
OK Boss"
I dont really need to know why all the time. Just do it. I can find something else to argue about later.

2) "I'm sorry". This is a really good one. Know when to apologize, and apologize with no caveats, no ifs and's or buts. It has a cousin too.
Thank You.
"Thank You" and "I'm Sorry" are good family to be in.

3) "You're right" You know that moment in a conversation when you realize the other person is right, and you wonder what to say? Just say "You know what? You're right! And I'm really sorry for having wasted your time with my foolish arguments." In an odd sort of way, this makes you the winner.
Maybe another way of saying it is that you cannot lead until you learn to follow.
You cannot lead until you learn to follow.

4) "So what?" There is a lot of stuff that just doesn't matter, isnt there? So what? Sometimes this works best when you dont say it out loud. Just say it to yourself. Goes well with "Not My Brocolli .

ITS BEEN A GOOD COUPLE YEARS, DESPITE MY DESIRE TO ALWAYS BE RIGHT.






Thursday, December 24, 2015

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST

A Christmas thought I have from time to time.
It was Christmas of 1995 I think. I had been out Christmas shopping and ran into an old friend. We stood outside of Macy's and talked, and he fired up a joint. I took a couple hits. I really wasn’t into pot, but it was Christmas right?
So I get home and start playing with my daughter. I’m down on the floor on my back, and I’m bench pressing her up and down, and she is laughing like all get out.
She says “Daddy, do you know what I like about you?”
“No, what?”
“You are always so playful!”
And I bench press her, bouncing, up and down some more.
On one of the down strokes, she’s looking in my eyes and she says:
“Daddy, why do you look so sad?”
I wasn’t sad, I was stoned. It made me look sad. But I couldn’t very well tell her that, could I?

And I never smoked pot again.
But do not be mistaken, I am no hero. 
There are much worse things than smoking pot.
I haven't said it here in a  while, but thank God for NA.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NO MORE XMAS WITH THE X



The Ex Mrs Bulletholes called me last month and said:
“Jim bought me a ring”
This will be her third marriage. Her second was to a friend of mine.
I said “That’s SWEET! So you are engaged?”
“Yeah, I guess”
“What do you mean “I Guess?”.  You better make up your mind!”
She laughed and said “Well, it just feels funny saying I’m engaged when I’m 54 years old”
I said “Well, this is #3. You must be the marrying kind.”
She said “I guess I am”

I resisted the urge to say “If I had known you were the marrying kind I never would have married you”.

Close one. That would have hurt her feelings.

Someone asked me what I was doing Christmas this year.
"Oh, I don't know. My ex wife got remarried again, and the kids are all grown with one out of town. My sister died earlier this year, so the X won't feel compelled to include us for my sisters sake. To top it all off,  she says her new husband is a little squirrelly about me, so I probably won’t be doing the usual Xmas with the X."
And that’s OK with me. Every time I meet some girl, eventually the topic of the X will come up, and they start getting all squirrely too.

Maybe after the kids are grown, it’s a good time to start being enemies with the X?

And start being a Crocodile Man!


HE RIDES THE DRIFTS LIKE AN ESCAPED SKI





“What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love,”


– Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers.


Monday, December 21, 2015

THERE ARE PEOPLE



"... who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day of the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire—fill the glass and send round the song—and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it offhand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.”
Charles Dickens

Saturday, December 19, 2015

WE ARE STORIES, STORIES



"If you're reading this, if there's air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. Your story is still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things: Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories are not finished yet. There is still time, for things to heal and change and grow. There is still time to be surprised. We are still going, you and I. We are stories still going."
- Jamie Tworkowski



DARKNESS DARKNESS




Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin

Friday, December 18, 2015

A SHAKESPEARE CHRISTMAS VACATION

I’d like to see it done Shakespearean. Like my favorite scene:




Todd: Hark! Griswold! Where dost thou seek to place a tree so cumbersome?
Griswold: Prostrate thyself, and ye shall see.
Todd: Peace! Ho! Thou hast much effrontery to speak as such to me, Griswold.
Griswold: T’was not for thee, but for thy precious little wife.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I THOUGHT ABOUT CHRISTMAS

The Rip called me last week from Guitar Center.
"Dad, I tried to get credit but they turned me down.”
“Aw, that’s too bad son. What can I do for you?”
Like I didn’t know. I can feel it coming all the way through the 10,000mgz signal.
“Well, um, do you think you can come up and get a credit card, and I'll pay you back?" he says.
Haha! I just knew it.
I said “Let me think about it a minute...no...I dont think so. How much stuff are you wanting?
Like 1000 dollars he says.
One thousand dollars, just like that.
“Oh man, I wish I could dude, but that’s a lot. I'm getting a hearing aid in January on credit, so I'm going to have to say no.
"OK, Pops, that’s cool I understand.”

And I can tell, he does. He doesn’t ever ask for much.
And we hung up. And I sat there a minute. I thought about all the times I let him down (you know I did), those years I was missing, and I thought about recovery, and how far I had come since getting clean. I thought about my Best Buy Card, and my Kohls Card, and my newly acquired Dillard's card, and how they all had a ZERO balances on them because that’s the way I’ve learned to live. 
And I thought about him too, and how far he has come. How far me and him, we both have come.
I thought about George Bailey, Clark Griswold, and The Grinch.
And I thought about Christmas.

So I called him back up. "You still at Guitar Center?" I asked.
"Yeah"
“You wait right there. I'm coming up. Lets buy some fucking gear, what d'ya say?"
And I found out.
You cant really buy that much gear for $1500.



For a little sample of the Rips original music, click here to check out "100 Days".



Pink Floyd can afford a lot of gear.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

HELL DOESNT COME TO THE GUILTY

"But then Hell doesn't come to the guilty . . . It comes to people who haven't done anything wrong. That's the twist about Hell, the one they don't tell you about in religious studies, the fact that, in Hell, it's not the guilty who suffer, it's the innocent. That's what makes it Hell. Some random principle wanders through the world, choosing people for no good reason and plunging them into Hell. Grief for a child. Horrifying sickness. Noises and faces coming from nowhere, punctuated by terrible moments of lucidity, just long enough to take stock of where you are. And you are in Hell."
 - John Burnside

Monday, December 14, 2015

UNENDURABLE HOPE




The all-night convenience store’s empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday’s newspaper —
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It’s unendurable, unendurable.

—Franz Wright, from God’s Silence: Poems, 2009

Image~Eggleston Photography

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce


“In a short time a group of commissioners arrived to begin organization of a new Indian agency in the valley. One of them mentioned the advantages of schools for Joseph’s people. Joseph replied that the Nez Perc├ęs did not want the white man’s schools. “Why do you not want schools?” the commissioner asked. “They will teach us to have churches,” Joseph answered. “Do you not want churches?” “No, we do not want churches.” “Why do you not want churches?” “They will teach us to quarrel about God,” Joseph said. “We do not want to learn that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.” 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

THE ISIS APOCALYPSE








The idea for an Islamic state goes back to 1999. When America went in to Iraq in 2003, it helped lay a path for its realization. When the Shia marginalized the Sunni after the fall of the Hussein regime, recruits were created. They established their state in 2006, and took up residence in the no mans land around the Syrian/Iraqi border, operating within al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We knew them as the “insurgents”, without understanding the ideology they were working under and towards.  In 2011 when the Syrian rebels began to try to oust Assad, and US armed forces left Iraq, it created even more instability in the region, and ISIS grew exponentially. ISIS routed the Iraqi army, and took US weapons as spoils. When we did not arm anti-Assad rebels, many of them defected to ISIS. Some people think that if we had armed them, they would not have defected. But arms have a way of migrating to the wrong people over there, and people you thought were good today end up bad tomorrow.
Its been that way since 1919 when the Brits had t try to figure out what arms to give them to fight the Turks.
What Lawrence of Arabia said back then holds true today:
“Its better that the Arabs do it poorly than we try to do it for them”


I've seen a few interviews with an expert on the subject, Will McCants.
The man gets to the point quickly, and has a book that came out before the Paris bombings. Regarding the many questions about ISIS he says:

Making sense of it all would require a guide proficient in Islamic theology and history, modern jihadism, clandestine bureaucracies, and Arabic. That’s what I am, and I am going to take you on a tour of the Islamic State.

For a good synopsis of the book, click here.

If you don't have time for a book, but have an hour for a Charlie Rose interview, I suggest this, from November 19, 2015. I cant imagine finding three people who seem to know as much about ISIS as these three.

Monday, December 07, 2015

A NEW METH PIPE

A girl I knew told me one time she had bought a new pipe. It had a little red rose painted on it. When she smoked her stuff, she started feeling bad. So she called the Emergency Room.
“ER, can I help you?”
“Yes, I just bought a new meth pipe, and I think its making me sick”
“You’ve been smoking meth?”
“Yes a little. But the pipe has some paint on it, and I think its making me sick”
“How is it making you sick?”
“I’m feeling confused and restless, a little agitated, dizzy, my pulse rate is way up, I’m seeing spots and moon men creeping down the walls, my stomach is cramping and I threw up, I have a headache, I'm sweating like a mutha, and the top of my head feels like it might explode, there's a funny twitch in my left eye that wont stop, and my tongue feels 6 times too large. There are herds of hundreds of tiny jagged little bugs crawling all over me, up, down, up, down around all over me they wont stop wont stop and my throat feels like something is alive and about to hatch right out of my chest like the monster did to Corporal Riley in Alien ”
“Ma’am, those are all symptoms of a meth overdose”
“I don’t think so. I do a lot of meth and this is different. I didnt even do that much”
“Well, what is it you want us to do for you?”
“I want you to get the FDA to make sure they stop selling the pipes with the little red roses on them”

She told me all this with a straight face.

Friday, December 04, 2015

THE ROCK

I had the hots for this girl. She had a husband AND a boyfriend. She never talked about her boyfriend around me, she tried to act like she didn’t have one. But she talked about her husband ALL THE TIME. They were separated you know.
Finally one day I asked her what her husband looked like.
“He looks just like The Rock” she said.
“Oh, my!” I said.
A few weeks later she was showing me pictures in an album.
“Who is that?” I asked.
“Oh that’s my husband”
He did not look anything like The Rock, but I resisted the urge to tell her so.

A few months later her husband would rob a bank. He would go back to their house, followed by an army of cops, and hide in his attic. They fired tear gas in through the windows. I got to go over a few days later and help clean the place up. Broken glass, broken doors, the place in the ceiling where The Rock had fallen through the sheet rock. The leftover tear gas canisters, and the smell. You could only work in there a few minutes at a time.

I think The Rock got 20 years.