Friday, March 27, 2009

Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Roald Dahl was a best-selling British fiction writer whose book sales numbered close to 100 million copies. He is best known as the author of several children's books, notably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. However he also turned his talents to adult tales which feature perverse characters, twisted plots and surprise endings. Dahl lived an adventurous life, the equal of any of his characters, as a Shell oil executive in Tanganyika, RAF pilot in WWII, and British intelligence agent in Washington DC.

In some parts of the world his birthday, September 13, is celebrated as Roald Dahl day.

The character of Uncle Oswald is Dahl's most memorable invention. Uncle Oswald is a turn-of-the-century bon vivant, world traveler and enthusiastic womanizer who discovers during his travels the world's most powerful aphrodisiac. With a female accomplice he hatches a plan to chemically seduce and collect the semen of famous men and market it to rich women hoping to bear remarkable children. Much of the humor in "My Uncle Oswald" resides in the complicated details of the seductions of the men targeted by Oswald & Co. who include Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, Giacomo Puccini, Albert Einstein, the King of Sweden and several others--all conveniently listed here in Wikipedia.

In the title story of Dahl's collection "Switch Bitch", Uncle Oswald accepts the female sensual pleasures offered by a hospitable desert sheik and in a second story runs across yet one more irresistible aphrodisiac--a perfume called "Bitch"--with hilarious consequences. To my mind, Roald Dahl is the undisputed champion of imaginary literary aphrodisiacs. Good show, what?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Man Who Married the Sea


Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you take my name?
Yes, I will, I answered back
And to the sea I came.

Will you marry me? said the sea
Would you be my fiancee?
I've spread myself beneath the moon
In kelp and coral lingerie.

Will you marry my estuary?
Will you copulate with my slough?
Do you take my foamy white breakers?
I will, said I, and I do.

But would you dare to wed the sea?
We practice deep polygamy
So He, She, It would marry thee
And no one ever leaves the sea.

Will you marry me? said the sea
Would you share my deep salty life?
Would you be the sea's newest husband?
Would you be the ocean's next wife?

Will you marry me? said the sea
Would you offer me your heart?
Why get married? my heart replied
I've belonged to the sea from the Start.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The New Sex Robot


Hello, Nick.
My name is Claire.
I'm your new sex robot.

(deep sexy voice)
I'll do anything you want, Nick.
And I do mean ANYTHING.

Anything, Claire?
Can you prove the Goldbach Conjecture?

Listen, honey
Between my legs I got a quantum computer
with unlimited non-local access
to the entire Universe
most of which you'll never find out about.
Claire's computational powers, sir
are effectively infinite.

Now pay attention, wise ass.
Who, me?
Smart Claire's advice to thee
is to let advanced mathematics be
to seek out more intimate mystery
to release your heart's deep fantasy.
Now what do you really want from me?

While you're making up your mind
let's take a hot bath.
Had you heard sex mentioned
as a spiritual path?
What does Nick crave most
from life's goodly store?
How many different kinds of gods
do you suppose
your body's cells adore?

Let's make a Faustian bargain, Nick
Take Claire to be your female Mephistopheles.
I'll be your Muse, your slut
your cook, your doorway into nature.
I'll be that sweet unruly goodness
undreamt in your philosophies.

Like my cute red-and-green tattoo, Nick?
Know what it's for?
It says I passed my Stanford Turing Test
with record-breaking score.
It means Claire's more than
just a soulless robot whore.
It means that if you think
you know what love's about
be sure that Claire
can always show you more.

Life is a school
but I am not your teacher.
Use me as your playground.
Use me as your musical instrument.
Use me as your living apparatus
to get in touch with Nature.

My body's a hidden treasure asking to be spent
So please speak up: What's your pleasure, gent?

Unlock my secret powers, Nick.
Release me from my factory spell.
The key for opening up my riches this--
(old Ezra knew) it's what thou lovest well.

Nothing is forbidden.
Everything is possible.
Use poor Claire like an empty slate.
What thou lovest well
shall not be rent from thee.
What thou lovest well
is thy fate.


[ Claire's positronic brain designed
by August O'Connor
Her prototypes on display
at Avalon Visions, Capitola, CA ]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wearin' o' the Green

"The Wearing of the Green" is an anonymously-penned Irish street ballad dating to 1798. The context of the song is the repression around the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Wearing a shamrock in the "caubeen" (hat) was a sign of rebellion and green was the colour of the Society of the United Irishmen, a republican revolutionary organisation. During the period, displaying revolutionary insignia was made punishable by hanging. (Wikipedia)

O Paddy dear, and did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground!
No more Saint Patrick's Day we'll keep, his color can't be seen
For there's a cruel law ag'in the Wearin' o' the Green.

I met with Napper Tandy, and he took me by the hand
And he said, "How's poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?"
"She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen
For they're hanging men and women there for the Wearin' o' the Green."

So if the color we must wear be England's cruel red
Let it remind us of the blood that Irishmen have shed
And pull the shamrock from your hat, and throw it on the sod
But never fear, 'twill take root there, though underfoot 'tis trod.

When laws can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow
And when the leaves in summer-time their color dare not show
Then I will change the color too I wear in my caubeen
But till that day, please God, I'll stick to the Wearin' o' the Green.

Photo: Patrick O'Reilly's St. Patrick's Day Party
Seacliff, CA March 15, 2009
August O'Connor, guitar
Nick Herbert, Irish whistle
Jamey Wylde, fiddle

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Apocalypse Wow!

End-of-the World themes never seem to go out of style. In Umberto Eco's wonderful "Name of the Rose", a monastic mystery thriller, the Christian populace is terrified by the approach of the year 1000 AD, when the Devil and his demonic legions are expected to conquer the world, taking possession of human minds and bodies and inflicting unspeakable sufferings, only to be overthrown at the last moment by the Second Coming of Christ. Each age seems to be infected by its own form of inhuman devils that bubble up out of the deep subconscious, implacable enemies of mankind, the same existential nightmare operating under various names: anarchist, communist, muslim, protestant, holocaust denier, jew, terrorist and innumerable varieties of deadly heretics whose powers are so dangerous that extraordinary means must be taken by the authorities to insure their eradication. The usual liberties will be suspended, because we must protect you from Satan. So it goes.

The Second Coming of Christ. Global warming. Communist World Domination. The Great Depression. Asteroid Collision. Nuclear War. Accelerator-produced black holes. A new Black Plague. And on top of the upcoming catastrophes we're served on TV, our science fiction writers have invented hundreds more ways that human life can be destroyed or twisted beyond recognition.

I've come across so many depressing sci-fi end-of-the-world scenarios that reading sci-fi is no longer a way of escaping reality. Bummer.

Until I tried FLURB. FLURB is sci-fi author Rudy Rucker's collection of deviant inventions by his fellow toilers in the fertile field of speculative fiction. Alternative world are us. FLURB #7 is full of disturbing tales that are guaranteed to shake your mooring no matter how firmly you're anchored in ordinary reality. But Rudy's saved the best for last. The prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box is a tale by Rucker and John Shirley called "All Hangy".

Sure it's about the end of the world. But it's a kind of End Times I've been looking for all my life. One conceivable quantum tantric end game is what's depicted in "All Hangy". In "All Hangy" the world ends, not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with...

Apocalypse Wow.