Monday, February 29, 2016


This morning, around 5:00 and after having been awake for a long time, tossing and sweating up the clean sheets I'd just washed *again* after being sick this weekend, I gave up and got up.

It turns out, when your fever drops and you end up with a temp a couple or three degrees low, the symptoms are pretty much exactly like fever. So I decided I'd best treat myself as if I had one - i.e., am contagious - and got out of bed, packed up Penelope, and took my commute extra early in the a.m.

We picked up my laptop. I ran into that one woman who apparently comes into the office at four a.m. to do who knows how many hours worth of walking, and we gave each other a little scare. Pen and I hit the road for home, and today I have given nobody any bugs.

We've gotten a good bit done. Renting some equipment for an event this week at work, updating my boss's travel calendar, a nice swath of housekeeping. For lunch, I had a nap. Not enough to make up for half a night's sleep, but renewing enough for a while.

My temp's still a degree and a half off, but I cannot take any more being sick; I have to go in. Perhaps a hazmat suit. Certainly fair warning to my colleagues.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Today's edition: All History Blog, all the time! It'll be a bit sketchy this time, as I'm still recovering from the crud, but wanted to share a couple things anyway.

In truly VINTAGE clothing news - the oldest known woven garment, a linen "dress" dating back 5,000 years. For any enthusiastic historical sew-er out there, you will find a link to patterns and instructions to recreate the dress!

The gruesome genesis of a literary classic - the execution of Martha Brown in 1856 Dorchester, and the sixteen-year-old author whose legacy it helped to inspire.

Sometimes, in archaeology, it's the little things that make the most fascinating study. And what is littler than a cockroach's footprint?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Not My Week

Last Sunday, I had my talented and delightful friends Leila Gaskin and Kristi Tuck Austin over for a mini writing retreat. It was wonderfully evocative rainy day, and stories were read, research and writing were done. I felt low grade dizzy all day, and had a headache, but the company and the work were much to be grateful for.

By Tuesday, it was clear to me I had a migraine. The dizziness actually overwhelmed the pain, and I stayed plastered in bed until about one o'clock. Penelope and Gossamer, being the astonishingly forgiving wee and timorous beasties that they are, never even nudged me for breakfast or walkies. They curled up around me, and let me sleep and sleep and sleep.

On Wednesday because The Voice of G-d (or was that "mom"?) Hath Said It Must Not Be that you ever, ever, ever take two days off of work in a row for illness, I went in to work. And realized that this time the pain was overwhelming the dizziness, and I was miserable. My head has a grave disliking of tornado warnings, and we had more pink and red on the weather forecasts than I have ever seen in my life, and I spent years in the Midwest, y'all.

Thursday, and blessedly, I enjoyed The Final Symptom of some migraines - that physical and emotional euphoria that follows the release from bone-crunching pain - and I was very, very happy indeed.

I had planned for a while to take Friday off, do some cleaning and some other things around the house, and then go out for the evening to a Bowie event I thought would be fun.

My mom, forgetting I had taken the day off, called me right around five - and told me that there's been a certain health crisis in our family.

Who needs Bowie, I needed my family, so I hit the Italian place for penne pasta with marinara, a large Greek salad with light feta, and went over to spend the evening with her.

At 3:30 this morning, all I could hope was that the projectile issues sapping my body of all nutritional intake since the Reagan era were "just" food poisoning. Because heaven help my mom and stepfather, if I've got the flu ... and probably brought it over with my wonderful company last night.

Sadly (... um), this morning it transpires that mom had no problems last night, so our supper was not a source of food poisoning.

Also sadly, and yet kinda hilariously too, I am so dehydrated at this point, I went to lick my lips when I came downstairs, and my tongue stuck.


This seems very much not to be my week.

And now to contemplate, do I go to the doc-in-a-box and get a flu test and possibly Tamiflu, or do I hope like Hell this is "only" the 24-hour death, and curl back up with the furbabies and whinge at a friend to drop some ginger ale off on my back stooop?

What would you do? I'm addled and honestly unsure.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sunset and Shadow

Yesterday, I left work at that point in a February afternoon when the sun has just begun to go down, and the horizontal shadow creeping upward toward dusk was still below the tops of the trees. One long, golden line of late light, bright and rich and warm.

My commute takes me eastward, away from the sun itself, but hurtling toward its last light, and takes me across the highest hill in the region. Climbing that ascent, I came into the light still un-shadowed. There is a traffic signal at the top of this hill, and as we sat while it was red, the sun sunk enough that that line of shadow had risen up almost to the top of the trees atop this long, high hill. It grew indistinct and diffuse, ruddy and so soft the shadow of the earth was no longer clear.

And yet, plunging down the hill was not the descent into evening. Not quite yet.

The sky holds on to the sun's light even after its rays are no longer directly available. Humidity, pollution, the magic of physics. The lee of the hill was not the dark side of the day.

But ten minutes later, on the last straight line of asphalt, the final approach to my house, the light had been switched off the Earth, the homes, the trees. Only the lingering glow - and trees now all but emitting darkness, bringing night to a sky still in denial.

The moon appeared as if from nowhere.

Home, and parked, my yard is a place unmolested by the traffic going on behind me.

In the kitchen window, Gossamer peeps out, because he knows when I get home. And, at the back door, he snoots at me from the counter and Penelope greets me as well.

And I am home ...

... and it is dusk.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Big data, Black Twitter, and the linguistics of real speakers, not just academic grammar. A fascinating look at questions of legitimacy, linguistic stigmatization, and the beauty and art of language as it is really used. Once again, I am utterly absorbed at the ingenuity of human thinking, in the way we speak, write, communicate. Super extra bonus content: maps! Wonderful, informative maps!

I make one point about this National Geographic article before putting down the link: Egyptian use of cosmetics predates Ptolemaic GREEK ruler Cleopatra, who lived only a little over two thousand years ago, by millennia. Hanging everything Egyptian on the occupying ruling house of Greeks tires me out. (Good lord, can't we at least invoke the immortal beauty of Nefertiti?) BUT anyway - here we have a look at the antibacterial and immuno-building qualities of  ancient Egyptian eye makeup. Extra bonus feature: one more nail in the coffin of the old "EW LEAD MAKEUP - POISON! - HOW GROSS AND STUPID WERE PEOPLE IN THE PAST!?" trope.

In other fascinating ancient-chemical-knowledge news, The History Blog brings us a look at the possible ancient solution to a very modern problem - can First Nations clay help us to manage antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

This is not "new-news" as it were, but I'm struck by the thought of how often writers use so-called brainwashing, and how wholeheartedly it is accepted ... and yet, like the misconceptions we have about dirty, stupid history and so many other things that limit us both as humans and as authors, it's complete horsefeathers. On "The Brainwashed Defense" - from Patty Hearst to Moussaoui.

And finally, I have to admit an almost comically knee-jerk response to this piece. The House of Lords is moving to replace vellum with archival-quality paper for the recording of Acts of Parliament and other government documentation. Given that all my life I have heard the so-called "Dark Ages" referred to (by Brits as much as anybody else) as a period of time during which literacy was constrained to a few lonely monks scratching on animal skins ... and being a foolish American ... my first response was astonishment they were still USING vellum in the first place. My second reaction was mixed; a preservationist question arises, wondering how long other forms of documentation can be expected to last, and a traditionalist strain can see how this is a cultural loss of a kind. But the practical side of me goes back to the "Really? Still using animal skins?" surprise - and, at the end of the day, mine is not to judge. So I end with no firm opinion about this; there are too many ways right now for me to expend my opinion-forming energies. What do you think?

Finally, an interlude. Join Lilac Shoshani at table seven (and one or two other places) for a worthwhile few minutes. Just don't distract her from her writing, please ....

Friday, February 12, 2016


If you take material and filter it through me like a sieve, it’s gonna vaguely have my shape. I can’t hide that ‘signature’ any more than I can create it. It’s something that occurs. It’s DNA.
--Robert Altman

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Birthday ...

... to Japan, Elizabeth of York, Sidney Sheldon, Eva Gabor, Tina Louise, Jennifer Aniston, and probably some other interesting folks ...

Forgivness is Loss

I'm going to do THAT Star Trek fan thing. I'm going to discuss an immensely serious issue, and couch it in the context of an episode of Deep Space Nine. It still may be worth reading anyway.

Doing this, I do not mean to trivialize human tragedy - and certainly not to praise Trek because/fangirl - but to point to one of the billion ways our culture - even pop culture - faces off with the nastiest elements of human nature ...

... and to recognize that sometimes, what we have to say with entertainment actually has something worthwhile to say about the history of human behavior.

Inevitable Trek Context (caveat/disclaimers for non-Trek-ites)

When DS9 came out, it was not universally adored. For one, it took place on a fixed space station instead of as space *ship*, which could go from place to place to place, and allowed for Alien of the Week eps, and may or may not have allowed character arcs to exist at all. For two, it took a dispiriting view of humanity-by-way-of-humans-and-aliens some found objectionable, in light of Gene Roddenberry's vision of a future mankind divested of money, illness (to a major degree), bigotry, and, frequently, many of its clothes. DS9 flew in the face of the enlightened evolution of TOS and TNG.

But that vision of human development had become at times insufferably smug, and shut down certain ways of telling stories that deal with the fundamental issues at the heart of Trek, and science fiction more generally.

DS9 debuted a story of a world fresh off fifty years' brutal occupation, and developed into the chronicle of a bitter war which actually affected its core ensemble (and many of its more peripheral characters) in genuinely terrible ways. It presented disharmonies - and even shone a light onto prejudices of previous Trek outings, taking on the presentation of the Ferengi, for instance - which had for years been seen as a rightly offensive caricature of anti-semitic stereotypes. DS9 dealt with religion in a way and with a depth and continuity that none of the previous series could, always in motion and never around any one culture long enough to really look at it sincerely.

DS9 was "dark."


It is with no disrespect nor trivialization that I turn to the news which prompted this post: that changes in German law initiated in 2011, after a retired Ohio auto worker was brought to trial for his role as a Nazi guard at the Sobibor concentration camp, have led to the opening of prosecution against other surviving persons who worked in the camps. Reinhold Hanning, at age ninety-four, is about to face trial for his own role as an SS guard at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


How Can This Have Anything to Do With Trek?

The connection is stark and direct, actually.

In "Duet", episode nineteen of season of Deep Space Nine, we are brought face to face with The Butcher of Gallitep, an occupying officer in charge of what essentially was a concentration camp run by occupying Cardassians on Bajor, something of a host planet to the space station, and home planet of core ensemble character, Major Kira, liaison officer to the Federation presence on the station.

An anonymous Cardassian traveler stopping at DS9 is detained almost by happenstance, because he is found to have a rare disease common only to those exposed to conditions at the camp at Gallitep. Clearly not a Bajoran victim of the place, we learn soon enough that this man turns out to have been none other than the Cardassian overseeing officer of the facility, The Butcher of Gallitep himself.

Kira, a resistance fighter who has risen from the ashes of her oppressed planet's release from occupation, is a passionate, partisan survivor. She instantly wants to punish The Butcher, and wins the privilege of taking on the investigation into this man, with an eye toward his prosecution.

It is Kira's own investigation that turns up the tragic, horrific truth: the man in custody is not The Butcher ... but was a file clerk at Gallitep, who has disguised himself as The Butcher. He is tormented with guilt because of the actions of his people, and his own banal, administrative role in the rape of Kira's world, that he has come to the station in order to bring about his own execution ... and perhaps, in the guise of The Butcher, to provide the Bajorans with a marquee defendant ...

The scenes the file clerk plays as The Butcher are genuinely harrowing TV - brutal, unrepentant, self-righteous. The scenes once his true identity are discovered are bruisingly sensitive, fraught, and intelligent. The show and the episode are as static and set-bound as the Trek of popular imagination, but this script is a stunner - made in a time where we had not yet applied cinematic production values, budgets, and expectations to serial science fiction - or any television at all - the show makes the most of its drama without these things.

Philosophically, "Duet" honors the questions it raises not by answering them, but by respecting them as perhaps ultimately unanswerable: no outcome can satisfy all witnesses. And any judicial proceeding is as much about its witnesses as it is about its plaintiffs or defendants, and rulings.

In the end, the episode is about loss - and yet, *what* is lost? For Kira, some prejudices. Some rigidity. And her convictions.

Is there virtue, in paring down a survivor's sustaining beliefs?

Kira has to deal, throughout the whole of this series, with the sickening giddiness that comes not after the world is torn from beneath her feet, but after the person that makes her is constantly and continually deconstructed, through the years following her redemption from Cardiassian overlordship. She has gained a certain freedom, but lost so much of the core of what has sustained her. She is forced, over and over, and no matter how much she grows, to lose still more - in order to grow still more. It is both the most sublime outcome for someone who would never submit to victimhood, and yet a continuing punishment to her, at the ghost hands of Cardassians long gone - and constantly reappearing, to reopen old wounds.

It is against this dynamic the firmness of her faith, of the religion of the Bajoran people (explicitly corrupt, and yet meaningful to its adherents) is represented.


It is beyond me utterly to grapple even with the questions raised in "Duet" - and beyond comprehension for me to contemplate "answers" to the question of what contemporary Nazi prosecutions mean for the world. I believe in consequences for atrocity and injustice. I also question whether humanity is the best provider of those, though the existence of such questioning CANNOT mean that we should throw up our hands and never punish, never seek justice.

One of my oldest friends in the world - so long a friend he is family - is a defense attorney, and a Jew.

He said to me once, "The system is not always good, but it is the best in the world, and I am proud to be part of it." He looked across the room, and said, "When it works, it is gratifying."
He said this while we were breaking bread together at the restaurant of a client he had saved from injustice. I will never forget it.

And now, for Hanning, for the survivors, I can do only this, in the face of Nazi prosecution so many years beyond the regime: pray that he is right - and that it works.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016


A Few Random Thoughts has such great "today in history" moments and birthdays - today, presenting February 7 for the better part of 1000 years! (He did miss one author, Laura Ingalls Wilder was also born on this date.)

The Arrant Pedant has TWO new posts up ... one on the usage of "ic/ical" adjectives (do I actually write historic fiction ... ?) ... and one on a former habit of my own up with which I no longer put, which leads to such tortured phrases as "caller, what is your name and from where are you calling?" and (apparently!) "a love for which is worth killing." Eyagh!

Laura Wilkinson has a guest post at Tom Williams' blog this week, looking at costume and character, and the very great importance of shoes.

"I'm always saying" and other pitfalls in ANY kind of research - as reflected in the study of costume history. A really great post from Lauren at American Duchess, once again including wonderful photos that are also instructive.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dense, or Encompassing?

The work in progress has begun to insist to me that I have to work on a riot in which the citizens of my main setting burn down the synagogues.

Growing up, most of my closest friends were Jewish. My oldest friend, TEO The Elfin One, is not merely Jewish, but a teacher - a rabbi - as is her husband. I have known *about* anti-semitism all my life. But I have never KNOWN it.

To face this aspect of historical fiction, to know it must be a part of my own work, is not exactly difficult for me, but it is of course distasteful.

I've blogged before about how much I dislike writing battle scenes.

But writing what is, essentially, one of the earliest pogroms in what isn't even "Christendom" at this period ...


And it's not merely the content that daunts me, it is the wider prospect of the scene, as a part of its world.

Mr. X and I were emailing yesterday, and he was (as he has always been) one of my favorite readers, all "ooh and ahh" that I wrote the atheism post in like 15 minutes (I had been thinking about it for a day - if not, in some form, for months or years beforehand), and discussing the WIP and generally being that guy and that brain who ruined me for all the other guys' brains, and he said that this scene was going to be dense stuff.

And I thought about that.

And I realized that, if it were dense, it might almost be easier. Something that is dense is, perhaps, also self-contained. It has a shape, and boundaries ...

And this scene is encompassing, instead.

I need to contextualize this scene, this moment, this city of Ravenna in the year 519. It needs to be clear to see, in its place within Theodoric the Great's rule, and alongside Italy itself in this period ... when an old king has taken it on as his kingdom - and has no heir. It needs to have a view to Constantinople, which was becoming the new Rome, and where the Nika Riots would follow soon enough. It needs to find its place and focus in the larger picture of what people will insist upon calling the "Fall" of the Roman empire - and its connection to the imperial structures of Rome and of Constantinople, and also the so-called "Barbarian" cultures flourishing just to the north and west of Ravenna.

I need, too, to see the finer grain - to set this moment in the lives of my characters, and the marshy port city they occupied, to understand the weather and the moment and "why here"/"why now" ... The divisions between the minority Ostrogoths and the diversity of this place - the very scent of the wind, and the heat of the day ...

It's scary stuff. And not least because it is a riot, a racist mob setting fire to houses of worship.

And then comes the question.

How do I set this in the picture of the world I live in, myself?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Not In Front of My Students!"

It would mean a great deal to me if anyone who reads this blog would read this account of a terrifying moment at the Iowa caucuses this week. This piece is not about politics, it's not about the candidates. It is, purely and urgently, about fear. And fear has its place at this blog. And I want people to understand why that is.

Why it must be.

And also to see the other thread ... which is perhaps the most perfect testimony of what it means to be a teacher that I have ever read.

The affirmation. The shining, life-affirming reasons for gratitude.

Necessary Art

It has become necessary for me, sometimes, to go visit Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli's paintings. Sometimes, I just need to sit and regard her light.

And then the day can move along.

Breathe. Smile. Peace.


Flash! AAAAA-aaaaaahhh!

This is not generally a forum for my actual fiction, but today I felt like doing a writing exercise. Assigning to myself 200 words, I took on this challenge:

(I do #16 all the time - Write a story that’s happened to someone else, but write it as if it happened to you - when Mr. X and I write to each other about days we'd like to spend together, we often do it from each other's perspective. It's a GREAT one. ... Come to think of it, really any fiction writer does this all the time. Duh.)

23. Write a story that contains at least three of these elements: body lice, gasoline, a Hostess product, a childhood hero, an outdated slang expression, a song title or your favorite flavor.

Please don't hesitate to use the comments to do your own exercise from the 30 suggested prompts! (Colin ...)

Two dollars at a time.

Buying gas for The Tank two dollars at a time wouldn't get you far, but it'd get you through a day - and borrowing the car from mom and dad was a day-at-a-time proposition.

She stood there, March wind ruffling her hair, sun hiding behind a small but thick cloud here and there, and not knowing where to go. Less than two dollars worth, that's all she knew.

Where would the most cute guys be, within two dollars ... ?

Sub shop. No, not the sub shop. She was tired of that guy, and there was never a new one to scam on. Mall. Hit or miss - there were always her friends, there was always Johnny - but that was good ole boys and hoods, and girls she never had a word to say to. But sometimes.

She peered across the wide valley from the gas station to just past the middle school, and squinted while the wind pushed her hair in her eyes.

There really weren't any options. She pulled into the echoing basement of the parking garage, pulled out the key smack in the middle of Ashes to Ashes, and went in.

Image: Wikipedia
1975 Plymouth Gran Fury Custom Suburban station wagon

If anyone thinks this should be a contest, let me know what might make a good incentive ... winner would be chosen by popular vote ...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


This morning, in a discussion at Janet Reid's blog, Donna Everhart pointed to a post at Rachelle Gardner's blog, which got me poking around there, and I found an exercise I'd love to try with Kristi and Leila in a few weeks. We're planning a writing mini-retreat, a few hours of time just to parallel play, undistracted except for the helpful tips of Gossamer the Editor Cat and Penelope the Publishing Pup and perhaps some tea and coffee, then spending a little time sharing or working out a snag or whatever comes up while we're writing.

Some know, but I have not blogged about it much, that my WIP was actually conceived very early in the writing stages of The Ax and the Vase.

In no way a sequel (and thank Maud, given that Ax has been put on hiatus), the WIP is about a relation of Clovis I. It takes place in a different world, and centers on a wider cast, and a diverse one. But I found the inspiration early in the going with Ax ... and so the WIP has been around for many years.

For a long time, I might pop over from my "real" work to this WIP, an unformed plan/idea resolutely left on a backburner, but I refused all temptation to hop after it and let it become an actual Plot Bunny. I would plug in research that did not fit in with Ax, but not allow myself to *work* on it in earnest.

And then work began in earnest, this past spring.

In short: the WIP has been with me for a long, long time.

And it has never had a title.

It took years for me to realize The Ax and the Vase kind of had to have that title. When it came to me, I felt almost like a moron, because, DUH, that had to be it. I was open to being told it could not survive, but I was also really skeptical anything else would work so well.

I want to have that "duh" moment now, for the WIP.

Poor thing, it deserves a title. It has been my focus now for long enough, calling it "WIP" seems dismissive at this point.

Also, I am excited to get together with Kristi and Leila.

Monday, February 1, 2016


There are times it frustrates me when people say they are atheists because of what people have done in the name of religion. PEOPLE do dunderheaded things in the name of all sorts of things, and though religion does have extreme examples, there are also extreme idiots (Richard Dawkins) screaming passionately about their atheism. He's as dangerous as any other zealot; and that is the issue: zealotry in human hands is the problem. Not G-d.

To withdraw belief in G-d because of human behavior honestly bewilders me.

It's like me and not having kids.

I never had children because I never experienced the bone-deep desire - the *urge* (so named because of its *urgency*)  to have a child.

This seems to me the very best of reasons never to have them. There have been other thoughts on the matter that have been a part of my life, but at bottom it's the simple absence of need to procreate or adopt, to be a parent, that has been ultimately responsible.

So I can see, very easily, the absence of need for G-d ... and for faith.

But many of the atheists I know once HAD faith - and lost it, because of other people. They experienced disillusionment and shame in religion, because of the jerks who espouse it (whether their own or not) and decided against G-d, because of man.

I suppose this is overwhelmingly arrogant: but this bewilders me.

Anything hideous ever done in the name of religion came about by the hands, and the tongues, of human beings.

Religion is a tool. It can be a poor tool, misused, No doubt about it. So can science and history; my blog is filled with examples of the wrongheaded invocation of history, the way we think it's some sort of plotline leading ever-onward to betterment, and how that must mean humanity now is the best humanity history has ever seen, because: history equals evolution.

Which: no.

So I ABSOLUTELY concur, that there are a hell of a lot of people out there blunting their blades, hammering with a tool meant to cut through confusion, or mistaking the philosophy and questioning of faith for final, firm truth.

But the idea that we then throw out all the tools, instead of sharpening or learning how to use them (for those interested in what those tools have wrought, or could) ...

Isn't that the very last word in Luddite behavior? "It's of no use to me and it scares me, so HULK SMASH!" ... ?

Again: yes. The tools of religion have hurt many people. So have the tools that created the thing we call culture, or advancement. Innovation requires tools.

For me, it is an innovation of the highest order to grow spiritually.

I tried to do that without tools, without a congregation, without inspiration. I ended up making up a lot of religious tools for myself. Offerings, prayers, little personal rituals.

And it got me to a point where I felt I wasn't really that good an innovator, and I needed the help of something outside my own wee and paltry brain.

I reached for religion. My church.

There I found the literally-angelic voice that perhaps inspired me most, but I also found Miss B., with whom I sat at yesterday's services. She was the first who ever welcomed me in the congregation, and she is the very, joyous definition of Christian fellowship. Not because we sit around quoting bible verses at one another. But because she saw me alone as a guest, and made me a member, as fully and as lovingly as education and confirmation and that bishop who laid hands on my head.

Religion, for me - as filled with ritual and script as my church is - is far less about dogma, and so much about communion: the communion of souls. Of just nice PEOPLE. Of congregation. Coming together, and sharing the sunshine yesterday. That is a religious act as profound as the eating of an intincted wafer.

I may still not be the craftsman, with my tools, that (oh, say) Jesus, who was a carpenter, was. But I am part of a team now, a crew, a congregation. Of people I honestly do love, though I spend little time with them of late. And appreciate and respect.

I found the phrase, "Okay, we're past the angelic robes and the beard and the penis, and we're onto something BIGGER!" one day over lunch ...

Faith and hope and growing spiritually? Yes, go big.

Why try for faith, without exultation?

What else is faith for but to bring us together as human beings, and what else, at bottom, does ANY religion foster? Even those religions we condemn as perverted - geared toward exclusion as much as inclusion - geared toward WINNING, and punishment of sin - still require one heart and mind to link to another, and another.

We're only human. We don't always do that well. We don't do it well in business or in study, in reaching goals or explaining them. It's not religion's fault.

And human behavior is human behavior - and flawed, as often as it is beautiful - in the pursuit of whatever it is we do to connect ourselves to others.

An ass in a choir robe is just as much of an ass once the robe is doffed and hymns are suddenly to blame for all that is wrong in the world. The robe didn't sin, neither (perhaps) did the hymn. They were there before disillusionment, and they'll be there after.

If I am a poor painter, I don't blame the brush; not even the paint. It lies within me to learn, or not. Perhaps it lies within me to know I'm a better writer than I am an artist.

But it's not the tools' fault, if I don't sell paintings for stunning pricetags.

Dreams're Weird

Does this ever happen to you?

You dream so much, and so oddly - perhaps, or perhaps not waking UP with each fresh Hell as your brain presents them - that it ends up being such a bad night's sleep it feels like you didn't sleep at all?

Image: Wikipedia
By Gut Monk

Stupid brain, going around making up weird stories. Where'd it ever pick up a habit like THAT!?