Quatrain in Vain

I’ve been itching to weigh in on the Nostradamus controversy. OK, there is no controversy to anyone without boundless credulity but that hasn’t always been the issue, at least not with me. Back when I was addled by youth, I wanted to believe that the predictions were more than the opaque ramblings of some crazy old French guy. Scoff if you must, but Nostradamus touched my heart.

Actually, it wasn’t Nostradamus himself who did the touching. His writings, simultaneously overwrought and and vague, are a painful read. But did he predict the future? Well, if you believe a passage like “In the wake of the storm, one shall reign supreme” specifically points to Napoleon, Hitler, or the last guy to win on “American Idol,” the answer is yes.

I would have written off Nostradamus and his paranormal hooey if it weren’t for the fine 1981 film, The Man Who Saw Tomorrow. Not only was this movie on a credibility par with such gems as Chariots of the Gods and The Legend of Boggy Creek, it was hosted by filmdom’s most glorious has-been, Orson Welles.

The first third of the flick, dealing with the life of Nostradamus, is the least watchable. Much if it consists of interminable scenes of Ren Faire background music and some guy wandering around in a rented robe and fake beard. The next part, showing how spot-on his predictions have been, had some nifty archive footage of death and destruction, but where the movie and Orson Welles both shine is the final third. Here the viewer was treated to all kinds of grim predictions for the future.

For a man who looked like he just made four trips to the buffet table and polished off a couple of bottles of Paul Masson, Orson still had plenty of appetite to chew the scenery. Nowhere was that appetite more ravenous as when he warned of the dire shitstorm that awaited us all. His eyes bugged and his jowls quivered as he told us that life was going to start getting real nasty in 1987 and downright apocalyptic by 1991. What lay in store included earthquakes, thermonuclear war, and the resulting wasteland populated by mutant cannibals.

“Sign me up!” was my reaction the first time I saw the flick. I was a piss-poor student at a Z-list university back then and my future prospects were pretty much limited to mediocrity or suicide. Global catastrophe, being a great equalizer, would change all that. The playing field would be level. I wouldn’t have to worry about some Ivy Leaguer giving me attitude, even if circumstance forced me to gnaw human femurs in my irradiated hovel. “Don’t throw stones, Biff. Your last meal came from sucking an infant’s brains out through its fontanel.”

Alas, such events never came to pass. There were to be no mushroom clouds or human entrees, just rent checks due and the inevitable decline that comes from growing old. Nostradamus was relegated to false prophet, a role shared by punk rock, romantic love, and the failed promise of all my hopes and dreams. Thank goodness drugs and alcohol never let me down.

Years went by without even giving Nostradamus a passing thought. Then a few weeks ago, there was new show about him on the History Channel. Maybe the old boy deserved another chance. Besides, I was too hung over to do anything else that afternoon.

I was expecting Armageddon with a 21st-century makeover, but no such luck. A total meltdown of the planet is so Cold War. If civilization is to be brought to its knees these days, it is going to be done piecemeal. Current worse-case scenarios may include a radiological bomb in one city and an anthrax outbreak in another, but there won’t be any ICBMs crisscrossing the globe and reducing it to a cinder. Like it or not, the earth is going to stick around for a while.

So what did the show tell me? Well, I learned more about Nostradamus himself than in the 1981 film, that he was basically a quack who earned his living practicing medicine without finishing school and taking credit for any event that bore any resemblance to one of his murky prophecies. Nice work if you can get it.

He also predicted the JFK assassination, Hitler (this was the History Channel, after all), the obligatory 9/11, and a number of other events most viewers could easily recognize without having to think too hard. No mention was made to Rwanda, Darfur, or Chechnya. It would appear as though Nostradamus and CNN have the same views on what is newsworthy.

Knowing what I do of human history between his day and now, I am of the opinion that Nostradamus’ predictions are hardly worth notice even if he did possess some level of clairvoyance. He was always too fond of bright shiny objects to prophesy anything about developing trends, changing economies, and gradual changes in global power. If it couldn’t fit neatly in a Jerry Bruckheimer film, he didn’t want to know about it.

Sure he could point out that mass destruction is bad, but how about some advice that’s not completely obvious? Should we aggressively pursue renewable energy? Or to compete with our economic rivals in China, should we concentrate instead on renewable organs, dismissing any outcry over prison donors with a conciliatory “Can’t we all just get a lung?”

We’d be no less clueless if he had never existed.

HPL Remembered

It is a topic not openly discussed, even among antiquarians and scholars of forbidden tomes, who admit no direct connexion to the event but only refer to it in hushed tones and coded innuendo. For words cannot describe the unspeakable dread one feels when reflecting upon the passing of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, who succumbed to the vilest of afflictions three score and ten years ago this very day.

Hello Again

After a nasty case bout with the flu, I am on the mend and back on the active-duty roster. The only lingering sympton is a nasty case of laryngitis. That too seems to be abating. My vocal quality has been upgraded from a dying Colonel Kurtz (“The horror, the horror”) to a spry Karl from Sling Blade (“I like them French-fried potaters, mm-hmm”).

Poison Spur is back from the dead as well after a major sever meltdown. My friend Alex, who is kind enough to host this site, explained the situation to me at our local watering hole this past Sunday. I would have listened too if there weren’t a drink in front of me demanding my undivided attention. I’m sure whatever he had to say was riveting.

I suppose I should be ashamed of such selfish behavior toward a friend who is providing such a valuable service for free. My only defense is that Alex has known me too long to get genuinely upset. After two decades, he has learned that I’m capable of far worse.

I’ve been told that there may be a little flakiness in the site between now and Sunday as Alex resolves a few remaining bugs. That is to be expected. With the number of drinks I plan on buying him as a gesture of gratitude, I just hope he doesn’t short out the servers with a geyser of vomit.

So thank you, Alex, for bringing Poison Spur back to me. It is my raison d’etre, which is French for “raisin detour”.

Pox Populi…the Sequel!

I’m finished feeling sorry for myself, at least for the next day or so. What better way to celebrate the event than to than to address one of the topics suggested last week. This one comes from an honest-to-goodness family member, my brother Gordon down in San Luis Obispo.

How’s about a riff or two on the appearance of zombies world-wide today with strange plus-signs on their foreheads. — Bruddah

This comment was posted last Wednesday, on February 21. I have to admit that I had no idea what my brother was referring to. Zombies? Plus signs? Was he talking about an SF street fair for perverts that I somehow had missed?

After work, I called him to find out. His answer was “Pedophile priests marking their prey for easy retrieval. You know, Ash Wednesday.”

Of course, I thought. The smudge on the forehead serves as a gentle reminder as to where to rest the belt buckle. Ah, a little Catholic bashing courtesy of my own flesh and blood. Why not? After all, my brother and I are both lapsed Catholics after a fashion. However, the lapse occurred a couple of generations back. My knowledge of how all this went down is hazy, gleaned from snide comments our father made while we were growing up.

“The Irish traded snakes for Catholicism and they still think they got the better end of the deal,” Dad would say, showing equal love for the Vatican and his own ancestors. This does not mean by any stretch that he was a big fan of the Protestant faith, or any other for that matter. He regretted not urinating in the baptismal pool and would often opine “religion rots the brain,” pausing a moment for the subtle nuance of those words to sink in.

As best I can make out, my paternal grandmother Cornelia Jennings (née Conley) ditched the mother church for one of those low-rent denominations that sprang up in rural America as fast as one could pitch a tent. I don’t know if this particular congregation was of the fun-hating fundamentalist variety or if they partied down in full charismatic splendor, complete with the minister speaking in tongues while faithful young lovelies danced with serpents, ankles up for the glory of God. Dad would have taken a dim view of either type of service but if I were in his shoes, I would have surely preferred the latter.

None of this matters for either my brother or me. We were raised with a cynical variation on secular humanism: no higher power will save you from your own stupidity. The only comfort is that there are bigger idiots than yourself who, if you’re lucky, will foul the sword of fate so you can survive another day.

While this take on life has held up under the scrutiny of my own experiences, it is nonetheless pretty bleak There are times I wish I had a spiritual base where my intrinsic worth would be unmarred by my ne’er-do-well nature. I love music so if I only has the proper hymn, I could break free from this atheistic funk. The problem is that the church songs I know of pitch an impossibly virtuous savior to the most tepid of sinners. If you need some Pollyanna to keep you from sleeping past sunrise or saying “Dang!” around the womenfolk, I suppose that works. As for me, I need a God I can relate to and who is willing not only own up to but embrace the imperfections of His own creations.

I have therefore decided to come up with my own hymn. I have borrowed the melody from a traditional song in the hope that the recognizable tune will help others who have lost their way.

Christ had a huge erection
While hanging on the cross
From Mary Magdalene’s G-string
That fit like dental floss

Oh, Susanna, don’t you cry for me
I’m coming down my pant leg
With your daughter on my knee

Amen. I feel saved already. See y’all in the Kingdom of the Lord.

The ABC’s of “Woe Is Me”

Those of you who have read my stuff in the past who that I am no stranger to feeling sorry for myself. That goes double for people who know me in person. I am often found slouched on a barstool with my hair hanging in my face and death in my eyes, swilling Jameson’s. Often, such as now, I’m scribbling something in my notebook that may or may not get transcribed into a blog entry.

Here I am in my element. Much of my humor comes from self pity, if not self hatred. This is especially true for the more offensive jokes that have have been part of my repertoire among friends for years and have recently begun to surface in Poison Spur. Child rape, for example, is no laughing matter but if you’re the biggest loser swine on the planet, you’re the prime candidate to try to make it so. Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.

So for a change of pace, I decided to post something that lets my neuroses run wild but without any humor to dilute the message. Lucky you.

Yep, Dave has a case of the blues and doesn’t care who knows it. It’s not like this admission is going to cause anyone undue worry. Those close to me have seen enough of my mood swings to treat them with the sigh of resignation they deserve. As for the rest, I sincerely doubt any of them give a shit. However, if there is anyone out there who thinks you’ll be doing a good deed by having me legally committed for my own protection, please don’t. While it’s true I don’t feel like there’s much worth living for, there’s nothing worth dying for either so you’ll look pretty silly trying to 5150 my ass for simply being a party pooper.

OK, I’ve said my piece. Thank you for your patience. My next post will be chock full of dysfunctional jest, scout’s honor. Feel free to write this one off as a tiresome exercise in a jokester’s need to be taken seriously, just like Woody Allen’s Interiors but without the critical accolades.

Pox Populi

Yesterday, I spent my lunch hour trying to post an entry to my blog. It was important to me. My life is a shambles and my boss thinks I’m a mental defective but if I could just come up with something clever to write, I’d feel good about myself for a while.

No such luck. I couldn’t even find a topic to write about, let alone be witty. I did end up posting something but it turned out to be a simple cry for help.

What I did was to promise to write about any subject posted as a comment to that entry. To prime the pump, I also forwarded my plea to a mailing list made up of my alcoholic friends.

Well, the comments weren’t exactly what I had hoped for but at least a few of my drunk buddies bothered to respond. So here I am, morally obligated to write a few words about each of the suggested topics, no matter how asinine. These are my friends, after all. A man without friends is a man who has to buy all his own drinks. Read on:

1. I want a post about my DICK — Silly Goose

I’d like to help you out here, really I would. The fact of the matter is that I know nothing about your schvantz and I think we’d both feel more comfortable if things stayed that way. Besides, there is already a film that addresses the topic with more authority than I ever could: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248845/

2. Dude, could you write a blog about posting comments to other people’s blogs? — Parties Hardly

As far as I can tell, the sole reason to comment on someone else’s blog is to drive traffic back to your own. Of course, you have to feign interest in what they write so you don’t come off as a self-centered attention whore. A suitable comment might be: “So you’re battling cancer? That’s harsh. You should check out http://www.poisonspur.com. It’s somewhat less harsh.”

3. Did your father ever tell you what he was like as an editor? Or can you conjecture about what his managerial and editing style was like? — Betty

I can’t speak to how my father was as an editor. Having known him just as a parent, I can only guess that whatever his writers submitted was never good enough.

4. Post about fucking. For bonus points, make her older than twelve. — Anonymous

Bonus points are good. I shall therefore write a steamy sexual fantasy involving a woman who has reached her 18th birthday:

After clearing customs, I took a taxi from the airport to the Slippet Inn, a renowned hotel in Bangkok’s slut quarter.

I booked my room and started thumbing through the hotel’s whore catalog for a sweet filly into whom I could romantically drain my nuts. One looked especially attractive and even looked like she had most of her teeth.

“Are you sure she’s eighteen?” I asked, massaging the cleavage on her photo with my finger.

“Hai, Boner-San.”

Satisfied with the desk clerk’s answer, I billed the girl to the room, went upstairs, and waited.

Twenty minutes later, there was a knock at the door. When I went to answer it, I saw not a full-grown woman but a prepubescent girl.

“Holy Lolita!” I said. “How old are you anyway?”

“This many,” she said, holding up some of her fingers. I wasn’t sure if she meant to say she was six or five and a half. One of the digits was gone from the second knuckle from what looked like either a dog bite or a sweatshop accident.

“My sister have the yeast so they send me instead. Me love you long time.”

“No, me go to prison long time. I’ve read about entrapment scams like this in Maxim. There is no way I’ll so much as lay a hand on you. You better run along.”

She just stared at me, pretending not to understand, so sterner measures were in order. I blocked one nostril and pelted her face with a load of snot that had built up during my twelve-hour plane flight.

“I said ‘Git!'” and slammed the door.

After an experience like that, the only thing to do is to put it out of one’s mind. I raided the minibar for a bottle of poo-poop, a potent local liqueur distilled from fermented dung beetles. I took a good, long swig of the brown liquid in the hopes it would calm my nerves. Alas, the thin walls of the hotel were about to make a relaxing evening an impossibility.

The sobbing girl trudged down the hallway but only made it as far as the room adjacent to mine. The guest stying there, another American, opened the door and stopped her. Introducing himself as “Uncle Craig,” he asked her what was wrong and when she explained, he got quite angry about how someone could do such a thing to a mere child. For a moment, I thought he was going to kick down my door and do violence upon my person, but he had other plans.

He invited the girl into his room and the noises that followed, though lasting only twelve minutes, were so disturbing I was unable to sleep that night. I don’t know which was harder on the ears, the initial pelvis crack or after he had been at it long enough for the sex to sound like someone chewing a mouthful of Grape Nuts.

The next day, I checked into another hotel and had sex with an eighteen year-old prostitute. It was hot.

Feel free to print out this story and take it into the bathroom with you.

I’m sorry but this is all I have time for today. Stay tuned until I tackle more topics (Excel macros, Betty sex, zombies) that are facing the world we live in.

Now Taking Requests

It’s been about a week since I’ve blogged and thought I’d write something during my lunch hour. Well, the lunch hour passed and my brain came up with a big fat nothin’.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to let one of you come up with a topic. All you have to do is suggest one in a comment to this post and I will write about it. The subject matter can even be disgusting. Given what I know of my readership, I’d be surprised if it weren’t.

Dude the Obscure

* crickets chirp *

Far too often, this is the reaction I get after I tell a joke that I considered to be quite funny. Humor often alludes to some cultural point of reference and if that point isn’t shared by jokester and audience, it flatlines.

What, you don’t remember the episode of “McCloud” where Chief Clifford opined that the titular New Mexico lawman spends his quality time watching “Hee Haw” or that one “Baa Baa Black Sheep” where Peter Frampton co-starred? Well then, I guess you’re just not going to get witticisms that crystallize the essence of 1970s television, and by extension, the human condition.

I’ve seen your blank stare before, Philistine, and it doesn’t bother me much. At least it’s honest, which is more than can be said for those who laugh politely no matter what. I get the feeling these people have no sense of humor but compensate with empty guffaws that originate in the brain stem. Theoretically, they’ll laugh at anything and I take it upon myself to see how far that wisdom will go.

“You’ve seen that ‘McCloud’ episode, right?”

“Yes,” they lie.

“Well, it was pretty idiotic, which makes it perfect to have on in the background while doing the nasty with some Special Olympian I lured into my car with promises of free ice cream.”

“Ha ha.”

“The’re usually much more pliable if I make a game out of it so I tell them ‘Let’s slip in Mr. Queasy and see if he vomits from the stench.'”

“Ha ha.”

“Yeah, and you know what? For a retard, your mom is pretty hot in the sack.”

That usually stops them laughing, especially if the mother in question passed away in the last two weeks.

Rhesus Reveille

My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling poo
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling my poo at you

Oh do you like to fling poo?
Oh yes, I like to fling poo
Where do you like to fling poo?
I fling my poo at you.

My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling poo
My bowels filling up
My bowels filling up
I fling my poo at you…