Can I have a cui bono?

Me: Whenever crazy shit, or stupid shit, or baffling shit, or shit in general, happens, I always ask myself, who is this good for?
Kid: Cui bono.
Kid: Cicero.
Me: I’m not the first one to think of that?
Kid: Uh uh.
Me: But I did think of it.
Kid: You did.
Kid: But.
Me: Why is it, everything that happens benefits either Putin or the Koch Brothers.
Kid: Beware…
Me: Or both.
Kid: Of nutty…
Me: Trump is nothing but a big red herring…
Kid: …conspiracy theories.
Me: …for the klept.
Kid: Quod erat demonstrandum.

Love, a play in one act. One scene, actually

Curtains open to reveal a kitchen.
Man: Dude, are you fucking your lettuce?
Tortoise: What? No.
Man: Cause it looks like it.
Tortoise: Erk, erk, erk.
(Woman enters)
Woman: Good morning.
Man: Good morning. Would you like a cup of coffee?
Woman: Sure.
(Woman sits down at table)
Woman: Is the tortoise stuck on his lettuce?
Man: That’s what I thought at first. Remember when he was little and he tried to walk over a leaf of lettuce and it rolled up into a cigar and he got high-centered on top of it?
Man: Here’s your coffee.
Man: But he doesn’t appear to be stuck this time, strictly speaking.
Man: I mean, I think it’s optional.
Tortoise: Erk, erk, erk.

Snake shirt man

Yesterday I remarked on FB that a co-worker whose monitor stands at an angle such that I cannot see it from where I sit was moving in such a way that I had to assume he was either watching K-Pop or had a snake in his shirt and of course someone (Ms. Jersild) asked ‘Why not both?’

Indeed, why not both?

Why NOT both?

This morning, snake shirt man has an earworm, apparently, because he is singing to himself and hitting the high notes like a castrato stepping over an electric fence.

Now he is eating cake and can’t sing and eat cake.

This morning, sitting on the stairs at home, I put a cat under my shirt, because of all this.

I guess an advantage of a cat is when you have a snake under your shirt you don’t know if it wants out or is just being a snake, but when a cat wants out you know.

Animals I have had under my shirt at one time or another:

  • Duckling
  • Puppy
  • Adult dog
  • Kitten
  • Adult cat
  • Tortoise
  • Spider, but not for long
  • Other crawly things, especially ticks
  • Chickens of various ages
  • Child
  • Adult human
  • But no snakes yet

Songs of Ruination

[man]
Gather round ya bastards
and I’ll teach ya a lesson
for pissing in all the corner
and pissing on my blinds
Yeah right snarf your food up
then it’s back out in the cold
cubic meters of litter
and ya piss on the toaster
too bad it wasn’t plugged in

[woman]
Honey are you singing to the cats?

[man]
Um yeah

[woman]
Why?

[man]
It calms them while they eat.

[man]
who pisses on blinds anyways?
who gets ideas like that?
only a cute little tuxedo cat.
who pees on appliances
on the stove, boiler and microwave?
it’s the fuzzy little grey psycho that’s who…
too bad it’s not snowing
and freezing with ice
i’d lock you out all day
it would make me feel nice…

Oldfish

Oldfish hangs there (hang? is there? When you’re surrounded by water permanently so that you no longer even perceive it, you can’t really say swim, especially when you’re not swimming, but you can’t say ‘float’ either, not if you’re a fish, because floating… floating is the last thing a fish does, if you know what I mean, floating is just another word for turning the belly to the light, for meeting the gulls, for taking the air (except, of course, if your swim bladder goes and you lose bouyancy and sink instead, drift down, your sphere of visibility (I almost wrote sphere of light, which sounds too metaphysical) shrinking to darkness as the sunlight weakens and visibility decreases due to increased density of suspended particles in the surrounding water (which remember you don’t perceive, being ubiquitous) drift down to, finally, the bottom of this bottomless lake and stop and hear nothing but the sounds of life coming from far away until they fade away)… we’ll just say is) Oldfish is there at the center of his sphere of visibility thinking about how language brings him no joy anymore. Language used to be a thrill all the time. Not that language no longer interests him. It remains his primary way of experiencing and manipulating his world. He is hardwired for that. He remarked, he felt unexpected pride and an upswell of love when he remarked a while ago about how a reason he sometimes spoke slowly in conversation or felt it hard to keep up with a group talking fast was because everything he heard was seized upon by his mind and the language analyzed and dismantled to its constituent parts and each of them held up to the light and turned this way and that and the refractions observed and the different potential meanings and intentions regarded and correlated and catalogued, puns in this column, malapropisms here in this pile, etc., possible intended hidden meanings and double entendres and triple entendres… and Youngfish said, Aha that’s where I have it from! (meaning, Oldfish concluded, less a hard and fast belief in genetics than a feeling of (familial and occupational and etc.) relation. It was a loving (love of Oldfish, love of language) thing to say and made Oldfish happy, despite his declining interest in language, because language continued to and would always define him before anything else (surrounded him and permeated him like water, but a water he was conscious of and took great pleasure in swimming in, now maybe less than before, but still) as he continued to be here in his sphere of visibility, the dimensions of which varied according to several variables including depth (distance from source of light – sun or moon), density of matter suspended in the water (affected by depth, activity in the lake – churning by swimmers or boats, for example – season (more leaves and other debris in the fall, as well as lower angle of sunlight) and into which at any moment — this is another fact that defined him, that explained or was used as an excuse for what had a different cause, his anxiety, his hypervigilance — Bigfish could swim, appear suddenly, in which case either It was all over or Evasive action was taken or Bigfish was interested in something else and You lucked out, but You never know, in the end, until it is too late, or not too late. Oldfish hears further than he sees, he swims, his sphere of visibility moves, shrinks in the murk by the shore where teenaged humans swim and kick up mud and splash, grows toward the center of the lake until you get to the shady side then darker again although clearer water. Oldfish sees the furthest near the center of the lake, on the line between sun and shadow and there he remains a while, not basking, maybe resting, maybe eating a Smallfish, or a bug. Maybe thinking. Somewhere is Bigfish, but here is sun, and cool shade.

Where you might have a better than average chance of finding me when I am gone

Stuck in bed for two weeks (dr.’s orders) with bronchitis (bronchitis taking up most of the mattress, stealing the covers) I finally get bored enough to attempt a blog post and find the below already written in my drafts folder.

When I die, I typed with my thumb into whatsapp, spread my ashes in the used camera place on Bennogasse. You might have to make a few trips so the guy doesn’t notice what you’re doing.
Ok, said my kid.
I thought you didn’t want to be cremated, said my wife.
It was more the idea of dying I objected to, I said, than cremation. Also Westbahnstrasse from the vintage camera stores to the apnea diving cafe, and on Kaiserstrasse in front of another camera shop and the photo processing place. Oh, and save some ashes for Powell’s Books in Portland (fiction and poetry section) and the university book store in Seattle (nonfiction).

I was only partly kidding, mainly about being cremated, as my wife figured. But we all have special places we’d like to haunt, or maybe just the ghostly among us.

It occurred to me at lunch that we can also haunt them while still alive, so I took the subway to the 8th district and walked over to the camera shop. The owner is retired and just runs it in his free time because he likes it. He had time for me today and showed me old Leicas THAT WERE POTENTIALLY WITHIN MY BUDGET and a Hasselblad and a Rolleiflex with tilt-shift and a wide-angle lens that focuses as close as you want, I mean, I was focusing it on stuff about a centimeter away before I got tired of that.
The place is in an old shop with old wooden floors and shelf-lined walls covered with the history of photography, all the best stuff locked behind glass.
I’d be happy just standing there, breathing the air, maybe holding out my arms, spinning slowly with my eyes closed but that would look weird and he was there showing me cameras and telling me stuff and even when he wasn’t there, there could totally be a hidden camera somewhere.
Anyway, lovely gear.
Same with Powell’s. You just want to lick the floor. So many books. You want to get locked in at night and sleep in a book fort. And the last time we went to the University book store in Seattle, they had to throw us out. My wife and the kids and I all wandered in different directions and met at the cash register at last call, all with armloads of books, each of us holding a whole different world and wondering how the hell we would get all these books back to Austria.
Other places to haunt: the Virgil chapel in Vienna (at least it was nice before they remodeled it, I haven’t been back since, but I will never forget being all alone there, underground at the Stephansplatz subway station, and the meditative ambient acoustics and dim light). Or wandering the streets of Vienna in miserable winter drizzle.
Or lots of other places, at night, in the early morning, whenever the light’s not too bright.
And in the foggy fields at sunrise. Or right there with you, when you feel alone.
Look for me there.

Tomatoes

Beta: Did Gamma bring you guys any of the dried tomatoes I made?
Dad: Spicy little guys!
Beta: That would be the dried jalapenos.