Saturday, April 30, 2005

All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers

I know I've dropped out some. It's evident in most parts of my life, except perhaps this blog. But most parts of my life are not public or even known to an extra person beyond the immediacy of each part of my life. Most people I know don't know the others I know or else are no longer in contact with the others they used to know. My mutual friends have drifted apart. Every relation is an isolated one. I wander lonely as a cowpie, gradually mentioning people less and less to one another, as well as myself less and less to each of them. Email used to be a Godsend for old friends, now it’s something that one does mainly with strangers. Things change so fast.

I would like to say aloud that I'm getting more than a bit suicidal, but so far I've never had the nerve to even formulate a plan. So, how serious is that? And which is more frightening, life or death? I am sick to death, but I am also very sick in life. Stiffness and soreness and poor circulation all over and pains that come and go, but must be serious, for they have a great deal of kick. I could wait and be knocked off by my own bodily decay and enfeeblement, I guess, though the drawback is that I might be struck down where someone could Save me. Then, plop, right back in the cowflop, but with everyone knowing my mind. Too bad I was never a gun nut. I’d already be armed, instead of putting myself to sleep contemplating various implausible schemes.
Title blatantly stolen from Larry McMurtry's novel.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Holding Hands With George

I often like a nasty joke. I’m perfectly willing to make fun of the pervert Michael Jackson because I believe he is a pervert and deserves all the disrespect I can muster. Nonetheless, I’ve been sort of nonplussed at the garbage and the tawdry remarks and snickers that President Bush has drawn about his holding hands in the Arab fashion with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah this past week.

I’m not especially well informed and yet I knew from the moment I saw it what he was up to. Someone on his staff had informed or reminded him that this was a good way to show respect in Saudi culture and the President had decided to go for it. He needed to curry some favor, didn’t he, as badly as every foul-minded disrespectful “my president must be a homo” American yokel who is crying for lower oil prices this year and yet doesn’t want to give up a fucking thing for it? Well, the President gave up something for it, so shut the fuck up, willya?

As much as I despise Bush and have not witnessed him perform very many acts of grace or of respect toward “the other guy’s” culture, I knew from the git-go (as should everyone) that Bush isn’t usually “sensitive” or a man of the world to any degree. So if he was behaving oddly with the handholding, he was clearly up to something, most likely practical or diplomatic. Most likely, kissing up to somebody to get this country some cheaper oil! Diplomats and Presidents are allowed to behave that way in order to get along with the world. I give him credit for it. If we went to war every time Joe Sixpack thought we’d been insulted or rudely cut off in traffic, Bush would be an even more warmongering president than I’ve found him to be, and he’s pretty bad as it is!

Jay Leno and the other comedians, it’s their job to do this kind of sniggering and grinning and trying to make everything into a joke about somebody’s penis, but I don’t understand why these shallow newsreaders on TV found it so amusing. Oh, that's right, it's because they're shallow and not news professionals. I’d like to have seen someone doing their jobs as reporters the first few times the handholding was shown by explaining in an ordinary tone of voice what they’re just now bothering to explain many days later, that it was a cultural thing, perfectly ordinary in the Arab world.

It’s ordinary in other parts of the world, too, though not in Texas. Not everyone on the planet is afraid of showing affection. It’s bad enough that Joe Sixpack in the 21st century is still such an ass-scratching hick, but that these college-educated News Shills do it, too (just Mr. Regular Guy, thet’s me!) makes me feel I’m living in the same kind of backward caveman country we accuse Iraq and other Muslim countries of being. It gives me the shivers that some people in ALL countries are apparently so ignorant and allowed to be so damn proud of it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

You're Sweet

Overheard while he had all his clothes on

"Thanks a lot," Tanner said. "You're sweet, even if you don't mean to be."

"I do too mean to be!" Sallye laughed. "Why wouldn't I?"

"Oh, I know you are," he shrugged. "Sometimes things just sound like they'd be interesting to say or interesting to hear. It's the English major in my soul, not to mention my twisted sense of humor."

"Your sense of humor isn't very twisted, I don't think," she said, shaking her head and smiling. "You're just shy, that's all. You think if you stop talking for too long, someone will catch on to it and throw you out!"

"Out of what?"

"Out of the house. Out of the club. Out of the game."

"Is that it?" he asked, pretending surprise.

"That's it," she grinned. "Now go on, get the hell out of here, I've got work to do."

"Ah ha! Uh, say, may I come back later?"

"Unless someone beats you to it," she grinned.

"Someone always beats me to the nice women," he said.

"Not if the nice woman tells 'em to bug off!" Sallye laughed as she leaned over and kissed his cheek.

Tanner walked away with a look on his smug face like he was about to whistle.

"Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit." — Aristotle

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Judy Garland’s Blues

Why was Judy Garland sad?
Did she have everything—but not love?
What drove Judy Garland mad,
Or do I give her too much credit?

Was she merely unlucky, after all the luck?
Did she think she had two armfuls of nothing,
A mansion of expenses and pills and airs
Amid lost things forever beyond her reach?

Did she have everything—but not love?
Was she too often left behind
Or was she poisoned in the vein
As by too many drinks or a rattlesnake...

Twisted by some familial demon spirit she became
That dizzied spirit, the reel and spin, the living blues,
Forever frightened—no matter her age or image or magic—
Of what had always been and was out of control to the end?

Did she, like you, like me, have everything—
But could not feel the love?


3rd draft: 04/26/05
©2004 Ronald C. Southern

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Overheard from 2 wine drinkers in a movie theater line

The guy named Tanner mentioned a story he was writing in which he suggested a certain dog might have kicked a cat's ass. His friend Phil objected violently, saying cats were tougher than dogs, dangerous as bears, couldn't be beat. Eventually, as he tired of making the argument, he got extreme and seemed to be saying that dogs were By God pussies, Pussies, PUSSIES compared to pussy cats!

"Sure, cats are dangerous," Tanner said, sort of brushing it off. "But I've already described this dog as being a classic brawler, which is a good deal worse than a regular lazy dog. Brawlers aren't compelled by others to win, and don't necessarily stop just because they get hurt. Didn't you ever read that Jack London stuff about stout-hearted dogs, fer chris' sake?"

"I don't think it's so," Phil persisted. "It don't apply."

"Your cats, I suspect, are like fancy boxers," Tanner grinned, wanting to see if he could just wear Phil down. "Put them on the street with a street-hardened tough, a real fighter who doesn't mind taking a licking, and your cat's gonna be like that boxer: either laying on the ground with all his bones busted, wondering what the fuck kind of truck hit him, or else standing over the other guy and wondering why the bloodied bastard just keeps getting up like that."

Phil still didn't agree. "Don't care, don't agree!" he asserted.

It sounded as if no possible twist of reality or fiction in the whole wide world could convince him that this invincibly favorite animal of his could ever be beaten or lessened by a mere dog.

"This is too absurd for further conversation," Phil sighed.

Tanner agreed with that part, looked thoroughly disgusted, and shut up.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Old Couple

It was about 1972, I'm not sure of the date. I was living in a low-ceilinged garage apartment—an apartment that used to be the garage!—with two friends and we were splitting an $80 a month rent. We called it "The Cellar" because it had no windows and was dark except for light bulbs or leaving the door open. There was no screen door to keep the Austin insects out, so we didn't do that much. Two of us were hippies and the third a student hippie. I've mentioned this "cellar" before in a previous post, Moen's Silent Screw.

George, Jim, and I were poor and each had a hard time digging up the $27 each per month. Of course we were spendthrifts, too, so sometimes even when we had the money at one point, at least one of us would have trouble still having it when the rent came due! We had a game of musical chairs going about who would cover for whom each month. Somehow it worked out.

I recall there was a pair of elderly homeowners still hanging on to their old proprietary views in the middle of a bunch of rental properties. Despite their distaste and stubbornness, I guess what used to be a neighborhood was now a strange and foreign place, full of young people, Negroes, Arabs, and Orientals. Everything that was foreign. Dopers and fornicators. Gays and Lesbians were beginning to be heard of.

We hadn't met The Old Couple under ordinary circumstances and so we assumed that we never would; there were lots of neighbors all around that we expected to never meet. But the time finally came when I did meet The Old Couple. I came out of our one-room apartment one afternoon to make a food run and found a neat handwritten message on my windshield telling us that they would appreciate it if we'd stop parking in front of the house in which they'd lived for the past few decades. Before I ran my errand or moved my car, I went over to talk to them.

I'd never even seen them, so naturally I'd never spoken to them before. I was more polite to them than I felt like being, but I stuck to my pose. I had tea or lemonade or something else genteel and old-fashioned that made me feel out of place and out of time. They were a very handsome couple. It seemed odd that I'd notice such a thing in older people back then—if I noticed it, it must have been remarkable! They were very polite, too, and seemed from an older world. It didn't take long to see that The Old Couple felt that they had a definite and complete ownership of the street in front of their house. They always had, they always would. I didn't agree with them, but more than that I wondered how they were going to get the cooperation of all the rest of the renters and riff-raff that now came and went on that street? I wasn't a hardhead about such things—I felt angry to a small degree, but I felt a number of the other strangers they accosted about this were either going to ignore them or tell them off.

I didn't want any trouble or even any aggravation about them owning the curb adjacent to their house. Indeed, I was probably not capable of being adequately impolite to break through the brick wall of their consciousness! So I just back-pedaled out of there as quickly as I could. I moved my car to MY side of the street! Their "rules" were authoritarian and inflexible, but they were so polite! I realized as I was removing my car that it had even been difficult to leave their living room, to get away from their graciousness! Someone else could be the heavy, argue with them, force the old man to call the cops. I don't know if he had any other cards up his sleeves than that, if he had a nephew who was a city attorney or something. If they were still "doing well" in the world, I don't think they'd have still been living on that run-down street in the midst of those student rental properties. I might be wrong; I have since met a variety of people who, regardless of their economic situation, if their home was already paid for, would not consider leaving it.

I used to have a clear remembrance of the old couple and had it for a long time, but when I ran across these notes recently, I realized yet another long time had passed and I'd mostly forgotten them. I remember these small bits of detail, a little of how the old man looked, hardly anything about his wife. They were too civilized to be afraid—that's one thing I remember—of me, of anyone. They wanted it to still be a Decent Neighborhood in the capitalized sense of the word, and I knew it couldn't be, not for much longer. To me the decay of the neighborhood didn't seem so terrible, just progress, but whenever the realization may have hit The Old Couple, I know it must have been horrific.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Jeremiah's Nam-Days Draft

This is a post by Jeremiah who seldom updates his old blog, but I know him and take this occasion of a new post by him about old times to let him fill some space and time that I won't be filling today. Have fun.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Smoke Signals On A Dark Dance Floor

Voodoo Intuitions

True evil always discerns what you care for —
more quickly than love, it knows what you dare for.

True love is impulsive, implosive, impendent;
intuitive and perplexing and repentant —
yet never more knowing or caring
(never more reckless or careless)
than evil's discerning eye.

What judgment can be made?
In what book is the judgment made?
We see the light pass clearly through the glass,
yet still the pages fade.
See how the pages turn?

The words appear and disappear
and reappear in smoke —
but what does the message mean
when the final word's a joke?

True chaos always knows its master;
time is reframed by time
and sex is infested with sex —
now as your heart beats faster,
everything simple grows slowly complex.

Through the long dormant season
everyone's sullen and silent:
the right, and the wrong, and the dead;
men who must only listen
care nothing for what is said.

See what the words have wreaked? Our souls
are not passions to be carelessly piqued,
nor iron in the fire to be easily wrought;
we are intemperate, yes, yet steel,
no matter what pleasures we've sought.

Oh see that girl with the red dress on!
She knows how to shake it, just for me!

Love comes by surprise, by unreason,
by unfeasible touch in a hot, dry season —
so cool, cool to the touch,
the touch of unpressable flesh pressed,
the rise of unraisable hope risen.

True love is impulsive, implosive, impendent;
intuitive and perplexing and repentant —
yet never more knowing or caring
(always more knowing and caring)
than evil's discerning eye.


6th draft: 04/22/05
©1980 Ronald C. Southern

"After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one." Cato the Elder

Friday, April 22, 2005

This Tear Drawn Down

This tear drawn down my cheek
Makes sense to none but me.
How can one who hides his heart,
Who has held still, held still,
And held nothing to be true,
Be moved to anything so real?

Cursed are those that drown themselves,
Drown in the thirst-drenched sea;
Cursed are these that live and rue,
Who drew the sea's disturbance to
Their flesh—thus only are we true.

The tear that draws us down to drown
In syncopated frowns; all expression soon becomes
This one face that in the mirror sees its own disgrace.
We are flesh crying out in the night—
Disembodied, and yet remembering.

Of all that we remember,
this tear will be most true.
Of all that we conceive, and
throw away, and then retrieve,
this tear will prove most true.

Ronald C. Southern
3rd draft: 04/21/05

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Party Party

Sheila’s Party

She felt
As cold and tight
As if a spring of steel
Were wound around her throat
And through her guts

And beads of sweat stood attention,
At random and in rank,
And all her heart was open
To the heartbreak her misinformed love had bred.

She was young and noble and grave,
She was plain and lovely and tried so hard to be loved;
She was all she was till a lover at last
Came in like sun through a haze and in no time
Betrayed her, together with her blonde roommate.

Later she stood dead still at her party,
Storm-still in the eye of the swirl,
Needful once more of her lover,
Yet heedful of the things gone astray.

"Why?" cries her beautiful roommate.
"Why?" cry the revelers all.
"Why is this lady sad now?
For what do her eyes look away?"

She's danced her last dance with her lover,
And he’s resigned and turned away,
Gone out the door with the other,
Leaving Sheila cold and frayed.

The whirl of the party heightens without her
As the phone rings off from the wall,
But it’s busybody Smother Levine
And the rest of Sheila’s party is spent in boredom,
Talking placidly to her mother about nothing.

“Goodnight, Sheila!” someone she barely knew
Yelled from the door. “We’re expected at another party!”
Christ, what can we do who choose friends and lovers
That won't love us at all?

5th draft: 4/20/05
©1980 Ronald C. Southern

The above poem is based on the 1975 movie, "Sheila Levine is Dead And Living In New York City".

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Guy Who Writes For Me

A Short Easy Blog

The guy who writes for me went out of town on vacation, then broke his left leg and a finger on his right hand. I’m trying to get him to buck up and come back to work soon, but he claims he’s too injured. Or some such poppycock.

So there will probably be no blog today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

This Just Started

This just started, following a bad cold that won't quite end, that everything I've eaten this past couple of weeks has tasted either peculiar or tasteless. It's weird.

I remember that more than 10 years ago I had a similar severe cold, during and after which I couldn't taste much of anything except the salt in my food. Nearly all prepared foods were just too salty. My sensitivity to salt grew so great that for many months after the cold was gone, I was still self-consciously unable to stand salt and never added it to any food without first tasting it carefully. It was a couple of years or more before I got a little normal. To be safe, I still taste the food before I salt it, but frequently I do find it needs a little more salt on it now. I guess I'm an average American again. Or was, since I don't know how long this latest perverse episode may last!

I wonder if anyone else out there ever has these experiences or if most people just have an undramatic cold and then don't have it anymore?
"If one sticks too rigidly to one's principles, one would hardly see anybody." Agatha Christie

Monday, April 18, 2005

Tanner Bothers Ramona

Conversation About The Nastiness of The World

"What bothers me," Ramona said, "is that so many men seem to think women are just fuck-holes."

"Like my uncle Remus used to say, 'It's a ho' that always feels good to dip yo' wick in,'" he smirked.

"You say that as if it might be some sort of extraordinary news," she said sarcastically.

"No. No, I suppose it isn't. Still, it's worth thinking about now and again, because it's so important, so—omnipresent, really!"

"And what do you think about it, then, if you must say?" she asked.

Ramona's curiosity about his vulgar notions was sometimes greater than she was willing to admit. Not everyone would talk so freely—well, perhaps not freely, but certainly without any common sense of restraint—about their own ugliness as Tanner would, she'd found. She couldn't help finding it interesting, though sometimes it went too far, of course.

"Ugliness always goes too far," she thought.

"It's all very basic, I think," Tanner told her, then paused.

"Well, explain it to me like I'm stupid, then," she said, irritated with his dawdling manner.

"Ah, well—I mean, just how goddamn good it feels, and always feels! A woman's vagina is the best "satisfaction device" ever devised."

"Yeah, sure," she growled, "and it's 'portable' too, and nearly 'self-servicing! Isn't that nice?"

"Don't distract me while I'm plotting against you, Ramona. It's rude."

"Shit," she said acidly.

"Yeah, right. Anyway, the worst one in the world is a good one—that's the male view.

"A vagina doesn't have to have any particular attributes at all, does it?" she said, her tone clearly acrimonious.

"No, not really. Some men like to pretend that 'tight pussies' are important to them, but I don't remember ever finding one that wasn't soft enough or tight enough or anything else enough, and I can't imagine that anyone else has either! I've never found one that was anything short of just fuckin' wonderful!"

"Christ forever," she said dully.


"What am I supposed to do, thank you on behalf of women everywhere?"

"No, not at all. We thank you, if it comes to that," he told her. "But it's all true, you know, whether it impresses you or not, and whether you like to be reminded about it or not. It's one of the few things in the world that can't be ruined by psychological bullshit. Everyman's dick likes everywoman's pussy because pussies don't need to have any particular attributes! Pussies don't have to be talented, you know! A woman's cunt would be popular even if it wasn't attached to a woman.

"Say hallelujah!" Ramona said angrily. Her face was turning red. "Goddamn it, I guess you think that in some cases it'd be even more popular if it wasn't attached!"

"There's no question about it. Excuse me, but if I'm going to be this vulgar, I might as well speak realistically too. A 'good pussy', after all, only has to be there. A good dick just about has to be erect. It has to do something, you know, it has to work! A flaccid dick may be a friendly little thing, but it's no good to anybody—except to pee with, of course."

"Is all of this leading up to something, or is it just a bunch of obscene observations?"

"Both," he grinned. "It's the obvious, and yet it's subtle too, I feel."

"And what might that be?" she asked.

"That nothing in life's as free of prejudice and particularity as men's attitudes toward women's vaginas."

"You sure can't say the same about their attitude toward women," she said with a disapproving look.

"Yeah. Unfortunately, true. Some men may get carried away and think that women are nothing but cunts, and even call them that when they get angry and want to hurt their feelings or demean them. But that's really a terrible distortion of the English language, a dysfunction of violence in the sexual brain, so to speak."

"Wait a minute. What's that mean, exactly?"

"Well, a man calling a woman a cunt is actually calling her the most wonderful thing he knows about, and yet he means it as an insult."

"They certainly do!" Ramona said firmly. "And probably you do, too!"

"Okay, okay! I know. I figure it this way—what a man really means when he talks like that is "nothing but a cunt" and nobody likes to be considered just a sexual part any more than we'd appreciate being considered just an incorporeal brain or a palpable asshole. These are all just body parts, not an intelligent synthesis or fair evaluation of our true selves or an attractive essence of our souls, which—one thing or the other, I believe—is what we all wish to be. Anyway, how we all wish to be perceived.

"You know that, I know that. Hell, a lot of men and women know it. But it just doesn't have any influence at all over any man's attitude about any woman's vagina! I love it unconditionally, like everyone else. I love it whether it loves me back, I love it whether I get any or not, I love it when it's far away, or on-the-way, or leaving town at 90 miles an hour and flipping me the finger! I love the sound it makes, the smell it makes, and the rumors that spread in every direction concerning it. So, there."

"Oh, what the hell does all that mean, though?" she insisted. "Just that you're a sex-fiend and a sexist like the rest, doesn't it?"

"I guess it does. It means, too, that no matter what man loves you, how much or how well, you'll always be a cunt. It ain't just me, and it ain't just the ones you don't like. It's the nastiness of the world. Our animality cannot be avoided."

"Yes, you sorry bastard, and I have a right to think that's depressing," she said. "I think it's ugly!"

"Yes," he sighed. "I know you do—you're a woman. And like so many women, you think your pussy's ugly and that the men who chase it round and round in circles are even uglier. Psychologically, you may be right, I don't know. I'm not a woman, and your psychology doesn't apply to me."

"Oh, God," she exclaimed, "that's just wonderful! Now we have sexist psychology, too!"

"Why not?" he grinned. "I think men invented psychology and such primarily to explain women's sexuality and lack of sexuality to themselves. Their own sexuality, they always understood. They knew sex was always dirty and that they always wanted some. We'd hump a dog's leg if things got lean enough, and we certainly can't understand why women have to be talked into it."

"You sound like you're arguing both sides of the street now, I guess you realize that," she told him.

"I guess I am," he laughed. He laughed until she stared at him and frowned.

"What are you laughing about, anyway?" she asked.

"Just that I'm always on both sides of an issue, especially one like this. I used to be a woman, you know."


"I used to be a woman, you know," he repeated.

"What the hell does that mean?" she insisted.

"Oh, don't you remember? It's one of the lyrics in an old Neil Young song."

"Ah—well, vaguely. It was kind of a vague song even at the time. It talked about chopping down a tree for 87 years or something like that, didn't it? Anyway, what are you talking about?"

"That I'm sensitive," he replied.

"That's ridiculous!" she laughed. "I've never heard anything funnier!"

"Thanks a lot!" he grinned.

"Oh, you're not particularly sensitive, Tanner, you're just fuckin' touchy!"

"Yeah, but I used to be sensitive—when I was young. I used to get upset when men talked crudely about women. And that ought to count for something, don't you think?"

"Maybe so, but I doubt it does. What the hell are you talking about? Without knowing that, I can't know very well whether you are even sensible, much less sensitive—or not. So shaddup!"

"I'm shuttin' up over here, Boss," he grinned.

Ronald C. Southern
4th draft: 04/14/05

"To Ramona"--full lyrics by Bob Dylan

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The F Word

JUST FRIENDS: bachelor males, take note, this is an international female code for a condition that, once set in motion, is generally set in concrete.

If you want a woman to be romantically interested in you, you'd better gain some intimacy with her quick—at least get her to kiss you. Otherwise you'll look up one day with your big witless puppy-dog eyes and see that something terrible has happened. You'll panic and say something enormously stupid above love, sex, or attraction and she'll look injured and issue this horrible pronouncement:

"Oh, but I thought we were friends!"

Am I completely naïve to say that I've never known a man who said that?

Years ago I saw a very inconsequential movie made for teenage audiences where the girl was telling the boy that she thought of him as a friend.

"Oh, no, not the "F" word!" the boy exclaimed in mock horror.

The rest of the movie was purely prurient and juvenile, but that was a clever bit. An excellent boiling down of a convoluted concept to a very few words in a very bad movie. Every man's heard it at some point, and was lucky if it only made him want to beat his head against a steel door. They might as well say, "Oh, but I thought you were gay or a devotee of Plato or a modern-day stoic or a dashboard plastic saint—I sure didn't know you liked women!"

Friday, April 15, 2005

Men Into Monsters

Can't Argue With That

"You just can't imagine," Sallye told him, "how many men I meet who seem so interesting at first, and then turn into monsters."

"Really?" Tanner said. He wasn't surprised at what she'd said, just pausing in an attempt to consider what effect this revelation might have on his chances with her.

"Some 'turn' on the first date, and that's convenient, of course. It saves me time and a whole lot more! But many don't turn at all until after I've invested a lot of time in them. Maybe on the third or fourth date, or after I've slept with them, or even after I've let them move in with me, the bastards suddenly show themselves. It's very depressing when the men you love turn into monsters."

"It's depressing when women do it, too, you know," he said, raising his eyebrows.

"I suppose so. But you asked me why I'm so prudent, so slow and unwilling to let you get close to me, and that's your answer. If you've heard it before or said it yourself of women, then it ought to simply make that much more sense to you. It ought to make it unarguable."

"You're right to an extent, but let's keep that word 'unarguable' out of it, please. Life's tough enough, thank you, without being unable to talk it over."

"I guess you're right," she smiled.

It was the second large, genuine smile of hers he'd seen, and it helped him remember why he thought she might be worth some trouble to get to know. He hadn't exactly fallen in love with Sallye but he had fallen deeply in lust or in fascination with her. He was interested, even though she might turn out to be a monster. Even though, as he well knew, he might.

He remembered what his friend Phil had said recently about women: "I notice now that we're past 40, all the good ones are unavailable—either already married, or else barely have any interest in sex at all. Some of them have become like vampires—which may only be to say like men—and only make an effort to go out when they're hungry."

Tanner found that he couldn't argue with that.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Dropped Blog Sites

A History of Past Links

Here are some sites to which I no longer link. Nearly all of these were of some to very high quality, and my reasons for dropping them are as quixotic as I am. Some of them I ceased to enjoy or to fully understand. Only one or two just plain pissed me off. At least a couple dumped me (a good lesson for me). One of them dumped their whole blogroll—I never knew why—and I reciprocated with a surgical excision. I've seen other blogs shed their blogrolls and have never yet heard the reasoning behind any of them. They were dodging something, I guess—too much effort to update, maybe.

Other reasons I quit linking to the sites on this list were that some ceased to publish new posts, while others ceased to publish very often. Some blogs were even deleted from Blogger—oh, stab my heart!—by the blog author. I dropped a few blogs because, even after a good amount of time had passed, they never showed any interest in me, my comments in their blog, or in reciprocating my link to them. A few were a little like the "popular kid in school"—everybody wanted to be their new best friend and their schedule was too busy. Fortunately, I never linked to more than 3 or 4 of those popular kids. Anyway, though I admit to being oversensitive, I don't try to get even if I find I've linked to a "superstar blogger" without realizing it, but I do usually have to Get Out! Here, approximately, is my past year's list of disconnected, but certainly not disconsolate, links:

1) being jennifer garrett
2) Birding Babylon
3) Blindfold Blog (deleted)
4) bored housewife
5) grave digger (abandoned)
6) Her Life Goes On (abandoned)
7) Iraq calling
8) Legal Fiction
9) Life as a Carrot
10) Living in Egypt
11) mental refuse (abandoned)
12) my forum to bore the world
13) My Obsession (abandoned)
14) My World is Interesting (abandoned)
15) Real Live Preacher
16) Rumblings
17) Rumblings Under Oscar's Porch
18) Sitting in the Window of My Soul
19) Southern Musings
20) Sugarmama
21) The Harlem Spitoon
22) the wrong side of the bed

If any of these were your favorites, you know what you can do—link to them directly, silly rabbit! Look it up for yourselves, however.

There have been some other blogs that I spent time reading and then dropped. But since I had never linked to them, I've left them out of this list altogether. After all, how many people can I afford to insult all at once? There is such a thing as being run out of town on a rail.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

25-Year-Old Austinites In The Seventies

Tanner Didn't Want To Know

"Get. out. of. town. We. d-don't. like. you. We. d-d-don't. want. queers. here. We. don't. like. you. We're. going. to. k-k-kill. you."

Carlton doesn't normally stutter, Tanner thought. And those words, spoken in a strangled, shaky, and scary voice, as if by some actor determined to sound like a super-villain or demon from a Hollywood movie, served one purpose—it scared the shit out of Tanner.

Tanner was in bed in the dark and his eyes popped open. He could see from the movement of shadows in the living room that his friend Carlton was pacing in circles around the room as he repeated these and other sentences as if his needle were stuck. He was talking to himself like a crazy man. Tanner didn't know if Carlton was in a fugue state or just imagining things or perhaps exercising a savage sense of humor. Carlton had done "crazy things" before, ever since Tanner met him in their first year of college. For instance, he'd boiled and eaten a pot of morning glory seeds in an effort to get high like the magazines said, then he remembered that he had an appointment with his psychiatrist. About half an hour later, Carlton's psychiatrist phoned Tanner and asked if he could come down to his office by taxi and drive Carlton home in Carlton's car. Tanner took Carlton's billfold away from him and paid the taxi driver. All the way home, Carlton had chortled gleefully and kidded around, threatening to open the car door and jump out or to roll down the window and throw the considerable amount of cash in his billfold out. Tanner wouldn't give him the billfold. Carlton's sense of humor was often heavy-handed. Maybe he would jump out of the car!

His talk about queers and killing as he paced the room that night was out of the blue to Tanner. He'd never heard Carlton talk about being homosexual or about hating any. Maybe that's just what he imagined his imagined enemies would call him as an insult. As you will see, Tanner never asked him to explain what he meant later, either. Tanner got up quietly and dressed quickly in the dark, then snuck out the back door so he would not have to deal with Carlton at all. He went to another friend's apartment and slept on his sofa that night.

It was about 1974 when Carlton turned up needing a place to stay. Tanner had offered to share his apartment with him, but only temporarily. Carlton was even paying a portion of the rent and that was nice. He'd been all right for a month or so and Tanner had no idea what had caused the eruption of this peculiar behavior. Tanner didn't want to know. It was about a day and a half before Tanner felt bold enough to go home. Carlton seemed normal enough, but Tanner had already made up his mind. He told Carlton he'd have to find another place to stay, giving him the impression it was because of a new girlfriend, a married woman, and he and she needed to have privacy. For some reason Carlton didn't resist the idea much, though he was far too inquisitive about the woman. He was even easy to convince when Tanner suggested a cheap old student flop house where he himself had lived formerly.

Carlton moved out within 2 or 3 days and Tanner never did have a frank discussion with him of the real issues involved, all the fear and loathing he now experienced at the mere sight or thought of Carlton. It could be they both preferred it that way. They then had nothing to do with one another for about 15 years. About that time, Carlton tried contacting Tanner by letter and audiotape, but Tanner declined to be drawn in. It only took a few paragraphs of the letter and a few seconds of the tape for Tanner to realize that nothing was different. Whatever that Edge was that Carlton skirted or walked on, he was still on it, crossing back and forth, and Tanner still didn't want to know about it. He liked the world to stay right side up.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Single-Minded Sex Circa 1975

Mr. Selfish Gets A Handjob

"Do you mind?" Tanner asked.

"No, I don't mind," she told him.

Sarah was married. Not to him, of course. Now she thought she was pregnant again. She'd see her doctor soon. Her nerves were bad and she didn't want to have sex right now, but she had offered to help him have it.

"Who knows," she'd said at first, "I'm so fertile, just thinking I'm pregnant and having sex—well, that might make me pregnant even if I'm not yet!"

"Stranger things have happened, I suppose," he sighed, not meaning it. "Perhaps..."

He shut up because Sarah began to congenially remove his clothing and it was quite arousing. She kept hers on. She attempted several ways to masturbate him, but nothing much happened. She didn't seem to know what she was doing. She had good imagination, but not much practice. He didn't tell her to stop; either he wasn't able or wasn't willing to just forget about it. Sometimes horny men need the proof that they can ejaculate more than they need to ejaculate.

"Good god," he wondered, "is that what being married early in life means? That you never learn how to jerk anybody off?" It was such a prominent part of his life, even among his girlfriends who also fucked him, that he couldn't imagine such a state of unknowing.

He didn't ask her, though. He'd always been comfortable with her about everything—she was older, she was smart, she knew most things worth knowing—but this began to embarrass him. He looked downcast and begged her to remove her blouse.

"I'll do the dirty deed myself," Tanner said. "And—please—don't watch!"

"The dirty deed! Indeed!" Sarah giggled as she took off her blouse. She held his head against her naked breast, and looked the other way. He felt pretty certain that she wanted to watch, though. She patted the back of his head affectionately as he took her nipple in his mouth. In the end he didn't know if she watched or not because he wasn't really able to watch her. He couldn't believe what a good sport she was; at the same time he felt utterly ignoble, disgraceful, wondering if he shouldn't just forget the whole thing. That's not what he did; instead, he gently sucked while brutally jerking himself off, getting more and more in a hurry to finish. When he'd finished, he was relieved but felt like a fool. He wondered what she thought of him, and was afraid to know the answer. He figured he knew the answer. He pulled the covers over himself and lit a cigarette and tried to talk of other things.

"I feel like a fool," he said a couple of minutes later when he was getting dressed. "A pervert."

"But why?" she asked.

"Oh, you know why," he said, his face turning red. "No matter how liberal we are or how liberal our attitude toward others, a man still think that it's perverted if he himself has to jerk off. And especially this. Jerking off by yourself is because you are by yourself but doing it with someone present—ah! Well, that really does feel perverted, I just found out."

"You're not saying that all I did was help you to feel like a pervert, are you?" she asked.

"No, not really," he laughed nervously. "I'm sorry it sounds like that."

"Yeah, it's okay, I understand," she said with a sigh.

"Mmm," he sighed, still looking chagrinned.

"You know, it's really only perverted if you think it is," she said with a tired smile. "But, really, dear, I didn't mind it, if that's what's bothering you. You're allowed to be human. I sympathize with your sex drive, whether I happen to be feeling the same thing myself or not. I've been driven by Desire a few times myself, you know."

He looked at her silently, feeling as grateful for her words now as for any of her actions earlier.

"Well, all I can think is that you must really love me, to—"

"Oh, of course I love you, dear!" she said, shaking her head at him.

"And, who knows," she added with a bright good-humored smile, nudging him, "maybe some day you'll have to help me masturbate."

He smiled and laughed lightly, nodding his head as if agreeing with her strange suggestion.

"Well, that would be fun! But, Jesus, I can hardly imagine that!" he laughed.

He had to admit, he completely and utterly doubted it! She was far too noble, too practical, too dignified and too private to ever get caught up in any such ridiculous procedure as she'd just gone through for him. And, beyond that, Sarah was a woman, after all; she not only had a husband to bed her, but she could probably always get laid by somebody. By his lights, she was so very attractive that… Well, if women were like men, you could say they had it made, he felt. Of course, women weren't like men… No, of course not.

Making the unlikely presumption that Tanner made, are we to conclude then that she really didn't know how to make love to herself? Or was it just, as is more likely, that Tanner couldn't picture it? You never can tell with an old-fashioned boy having an affair with a liberated older woman for the first time. He was 26 and she was only eight or nine years older, but she did seem of another generation to him. He wanted to believe her about everything; he wanted every intimacy with her, he wanted, not just to know, but to think all her thoughts. But would the affair even last that long, he wondered. He kissed her lips softly, briefly, as they parted at the threshold of his front door and she strode away confidently in the dark toward her car.

"Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest." Alexandre Dumas

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Changing The New Blog's Title Already

I changed the Ratsoid blog to The Ratzoid Squeaks. Just a matter of respelling a mostly nonexistent word, but I think it has more strength this way. Makes it sound like a mechanical rat. A robot roaming the land. I fancy that.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Lay Back

I have a really bad cold and I hate all of your rotten guts! Okay, the second part's not true, but the first part is. In hopes of making no really bad decisions or hateful remarks to anyone, I'm going to lay back a little and hug my damn misery.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Smart Aleck Remarks

I don't say this as a fact, but as a great liklihood, that it doesn't matter to most of you what my life is or what it has been, but only that I somehow make it sound amusing. It doesn't even have to sound interesting, as far as I can tell. I have become infatuated with some of you, too, whose lives sound about as interesting as aspirin. Perhaps some of us will meet in the afterlife and have exquisite or gruesome sex together, depending on the sexes involved.
Stupid Blogger Is Now Saying

Delete your cookies. I did and suddenly I could get on Blogger and into editing again. But deleting cookies, though simple, is troublesome and I hope that fix doesn't have to be repeated again and again!
I have experimentally opened a blog at LiveJournal in order to have some place to bitch while the dog Blogger endlessly licks its own crotch. It's The Ratsoid Squeaks. I wonder if I shoulda spelled ratsoid with a z? Who cares, though? Anyway, don't depend on Ratsoid being a fount of information and style unless Mad Dog Blogger goes down again for long or longer periods of time. If that happens, you'll find me getting my fix on LiveJournal.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Poem About What

She Said

"Your chance of being born again
Is slight at best," she said.
And on that day my heart changed;
It's never been the same.

To cruelty I awoke,
Or so my senses said,
Though how was I to know
Such hunger's never fed?

You can dip back in for love,
You can dip back in for hate,
But you'll never find satisfaction there,
Ever, ever again!

So to the sky I cried,
I cried, aloud,
I cried for peace,
I cried for war on peace...

And though I lived alone
I heard in every crowd
The whispered repetitions
Of what she first had said:

"Success-in-death might please us all
Who could not find it here;
No one's dark imaginings could be worse
Than what we suffer here!"

4th draft: 02/14/03

Nobody loves me but my mother,
and she could be jivin' too. B.B. King

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Don't Lose Your Pants—I Mean, Posts!

Protecting Blogger Posts From Disappearing

Many Bloggers I read lose posts in progress or when they publish them. Most Bloggers know what I know, and so I am at risk of wasting my time to remind them of these things, but I cannot help myself, I'm an interfering kind of guy! Actually, all this advice below is to myself as much as to anyone else. I am my own worst enemy and must beware of my own bad judgment—such as forgetting what I know!

1. I don't compose in the Blogger editing program until the post is as close as possible to being complete. You just don't need to be in Blogger editing mode, I feel, until it's time to check the HTML, to see how the post looks.

2. I use Word or Notepad to write my post, but you could use Wordpad or any other editing program on your computer with which you're comfortable. I don't recommend getting comfortable with the Blogger editor because (according to me) it has a higher rate of instability. I start with Word, so as to utilize spell-check and other conveniences. I save that, then copy it into Notepad. Then I select all and copy that into memory.

3. The Notepad copy of the post is now stripped of any MS Word formatting that can cause extra quirks and misfires in Blogger. It's now just "plain text". Seriously, sometimes things like the Right and Left quotation marks in Word may cause no trouble at all and sometimes it causes Blogger to have no end of troubles. Especially the quotation marks as they appear in the link formula.

4. It's the Notepad version I paste into the Blogger editor when I get there. If I don't stupidly make a hundred additional edits, I won't have to spend much time in the Blogger editor. Just check the HTML and get out—that's what I try to do.

5. If you find that you are dawdling too long in the Blogger editor, make extra saves. At the minimum, copy the post into memory as a form of save. You could consider saving it as a draft to be an extra save, but sometimes that's when I've lost a post, so I place no great confidence in doing that. If you're not hurried, paste what's in memory over one of your previous Word or Notepad files and save it. I always feel fairly comfortable just copying it into memory; though Blogger has let me down and lost posts, whatever is in memory at the time has never disappeared (yet). That could happen, too, but have something saved somewhere, so you'll only lose a couple of sentences or a paragraph when the Blogger Disaster strikes.

6. Do repeated saves as you go along, whatever program you're in; the notion of waiting until you're through and just saving once is based on a technology more reliable than yet exists. Beware of your own bad judgment!

If any of you have lost so few posts that you wonder what the hell I've been talking about above, bless you—you must be the luckiest person in all of Blogdom!

"The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore."

Samuel Butler

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Victor Hugo Quote

"A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor."

Victor Hugo (1802 - 1885)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Wishing Poem

I Had Not Wept In So Long

I keep wishing that someone
Would come and sing to me
Without prevarication or illusion
Or need of convincing,
Without context or subtext
Or any intent except her own.

Come sing for me
With all that’s yours alone
And let me weep without remark
While the back of my throat begins to taste
Like years of concentrated flowers plus bile
Amid a toss of joy and sorrow,

A time like that time so long ago
When I cared for you and even for tomorrow
And tears had a feel like rain might have
Rinsing off old monuments in the sun
And everything held some expectation
Without this horrific weight upon my chest each minute.

©2005 Ronald C. Southern

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Always In Season

I'm tired of seeing all that dark brown background today. So I'm breaking in to mention that I've updated the "Pretty Good Posts" again. I took four old ones off the top and added four less old ones to the bottom of the list. All of them are old; that is, from last year! They won't save the world, they'll just kill a little time for you. It's okay, time is always in season. I also moved that list higher up in the sidebar. Whoopie.

Better Call Jesus

It was a good deal of extra hell to force Blogger to publish yesterday's post. I kept getting this extra stumbling stone that says in big letters There are errors. The results were:

1. Sometimes the post has published,
2. sometimes it has been saved as a draft but has not published,
3. and sometimes it has done none of these things and the post was lost.

There were errors? I acknowledge that Blogger invented the term, but it was way before this week! It's so peculiar to me that I wonder if it's some kind of virus, not just an internal bug in Blogger's bloody nit-witted system. I'm getting mad. I'm going ballistic!

Why do we have a useless new message now, but no new warnings, explanations or solutions? It is NOT helpful! If they're trying something new or making "improvements" as we speak, why don't they say so on the Blogger Status web site? Tell us! Warn us! Why are they so coy?! They were so proud of themselves when they came up with that status site, but so far I've seldom seen a warning on it, only announcements that they've fixed something. What kind of inconsiderate can't-bear-the-criticism geeks are they?

I've tried to see if it's going to continue being difficult and or impossible to publish. Apparently, it is. Are any of the rest of you seeing something like this? Is ANYBODY seeing this but me?!!! Am I getting a highly individuated form of the Fuck You Bug? I am quickly arriving at the breaking point. I'm feeling brain-damaged. I don't have the patience for Blogging like this. It's like fighting a bear just to get a free jellybean. If any of you clever devils among my readers out there has specific knowledge or understanding that I don't have, then tell me, tell me, tell me the answer… As for Blogger executives, I think they're in danger—I think somebody better call Jesus because I'd like to bite their throats out. I want to taste their blood! I want some damn results!

Omigod, here it is, Blogger finally said this at

Blogger Status

Friday, April 01, 2005

Some BlogSpot blogs are currently receiving error messages that say "EOF while reading from control connection" when publishing. This varies according to which of our servers you are on at the time, so if you are having this problem, please try logging out of Blogger and then logging in again to publish, which should put you on a new server automatically. We are currently investigating the source of this problem.

I thought I'd checked it more recently today, but now it says something! It doesn't mean much to me, though. You think that's why they don't like to talk to me? Logging in and out is a lot of trouble, but maybe it'll work.

They say it should now be fixed. But I am all hunched out now and have no further post to make (except this addition). God forbid that this doesn't publish!

Friday, April 01, 2005

All Fact Is Fiction, And Poems More So

Older Women

He saw the older woman once more after that,
Twenty years later. The remnants of her beauty were great…
He saw her daughter, June, too, his formerly intended young lover,
Who had cursed him then for his failures at beauty and performance,
Who now looked like her mother had looked, but darker.

Her appearance now was as beautiful as it was formidable.
June was cruel as ever her mother had been
And just as careless as she herself had ever been.
It was strange how her mother had softened toward him.
He began briefly to feel aroused,

Until he realized it was toward the wrong woman
That he'd turn, no matter which way he turned.
"Grow a brain," he sighed.

2005 Ronald C. Southern


This post wouldn't publish endless times. Blogger had some new-looking and new phrase to tell me there were java errors, which of course means 100% nothing to me! After wrestling with it, I finally remembered one old trick that worked for me in the past: I totally deleted the post and started all over. That worked. Now someone tell me why!