Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poor Pertinax

Still reading my Gibbon. Last night I read about Pertinax. Replacing Commodus, who was a real shit, you would think he would've had an easy time of it. Would've too, if not for those bastards, the praetorian guards.

Pertinax was a good person: honorable, honest, just, etc... He takes over, and starts righting all the wrongs: lifting crushing taxes, restoring land illegally taken from people, calling people back from exile, etc... The people are overjoyed. After suffering so long under an evil tyrant, they can't believe their good fortune to have an emperor as good as Pertinax.

But as bad as Commodus was, he knew what side his bread was buttered on, and gave the guards a pretty easy time of it. They were grossly overpaid, and pretty much had free rein to do whatever the hell they wanted. Now Pertinax, he starts to reintroduce some discipline into the ranks of the guards. But they've had it so good for so long, they're having none of it. They march up to the palace, and kill the person they swore to protect; lop his head clean off.

Then, if that's not bad enough, they declare that they will be auctioning off the emperorship to the highest bidder. Some fat, rich senator, Didius Julianus, gets wind of this, and gives the guards just what they want, and they declare him the new emperor.

Gibbon says that on his way to the palace, he comes across the headless corpse of Pertinax, and the meager supper that was laid out for him. He shows indifference to one, and outrage at the other, and orders a lavish banquet to be brought out to him.

But, after having gorged himself, and been entertained with some dancers, he has a sleepless night. Apparently, he starts to wonder if he made a mistake, and how his future will turn out. Pertinax ruled for only 86 days. I wonder how long old Didius will last. I hope he has a nasty, short, brutish time of it. I can't wait to find out.

lone voice in the wilderness

I howl, but does anyone anyone hear me? A ronin wolf in a vast woods, but I'm not seeking a master. I'm seeking to master myself. I like the sound of my voice. Most days. Yet, I'm still trying to find it. Just the right pitch and timbre.

I prowl around, looking for a kindred spirit, but have not yet found one. Stop looking, and be content with myself. Sing for myself. A song of myself, isn't that what Walt said? There are no others like me. Accept, and move on. There are many things to see. But to be content within oneself. That is the secret. My thoughts, emotions, ideas.

Seneca said, "Wherever you go, there you are." Here I am.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Lost satori

I don't remember the year. I had already graduated college, went to grad school, dropped out of that, and went back to college to get a second degree in computer science. I was taking a class during the summer session. It was the first class in computer programming, and was supposed to be one of the hardest classes at school. But I freakin' loved it. I loved writing code. But there were times when I had trouble with an assignment, and this was one of them.

Try as I could, I couldn't get the program to run right. I had given up on it, and went to sleep, even though it was due the next day. But I had a dream that night in which the solution came to me. I awoke with a start, right after the dream, must've been 3 or 4 in the morning. I typed in the code as I dreamed it, and Voila! It worked!

Later that day, after class I was walking back to my car. I can still see myself as I was walking through the parking lot. I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, but all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I experienced a flash of insight. Call it a moment of enlightenment, satori, whatever. But I understood everything. I looked at the people around me, and I sensed the connections between us all, and how we all were one. The illusion of separateness was wiped away, and true reality revealed itself to me. Everything made sense.

It was such a wonderful feeling, I wondered how long it would last. No sooner had I thought that, it slipped away. As if trying to grasp it, own it, made it disappear.

That feeling must've occurred over 20 years ago, and the whole thing lasted no more than 10 seconds. But I have never forgotten it. I may not think about it every day, but nary a week goes by when it doesn't cross my mind at least a couple of times.

I tried desperately to get back to that feeling at first. Meditation, self-hypnosis, etc... But try as I might, I never did, and I gave up long ago trying to replicate it. Probably just as well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All the little fishies

I was listening to Fresh Air the other day, as I am apt to do on my way home from work. She was interviewing some fisheries expert. He had a funny name, can’t remember it right now. But he was talking about how the oceans are being overfished. We’re catching and eating them faster than they can reproduce. He also talked about how they went and changed the names of some fish to make them sound better. Orange Roughy? Used to be called Slime Head. Reminds me of when I was a little kid, and mom wouldn’t let me outta the house without putting on about a pint of Dippity-Do on my hair, to make it lie down. As I recall, it didn’t smell half bad, though.

Anyways, we’re also eating fish that no one used to eat as well. Mentioned monk fish. I think it was monk fish, he said. Said that hardly anyone ever sees it with its head on, cause if you did, you sure as hell wouldn’t eat it.

Now, I’m not a real big fish eater. Oh, I like my sushi enough. But hardly ever get to eat it cause it’s so damn expensive. And the only other fish I really like is trout. But they’re raised in fish farms, or at least I think they are.

So who’s eating up all the damn fish? He talked about the delicate balance in the ocean, how the fish they are catching out normally eat smaller fish. With fewer predators, the smaller fish population is growing like crazy, and eating more plankton, which normally takes care of all the algae. With little or no plankton to eat the algae, it’s starting to take over parts of the ocean. Kinda like when I used to have a swimming pool, and I let the water sit over the winter without treating it. Not a pretty sight.

So what can you do to help? Stop eating fish, for chrissakes! What the hell is wrong with a nice rib-eye? Or better yet, go vegan. I probably could, if I wanted to. But would be kinda hard to pull off in my house, since K doesn’t hardly eat any vegetables, and S? none at all. Unless you count refried beans, which don’t really qualify as vegetables. Not in my book, anyways. They’re legumes, dammit!


The other day I was nuking me up some vittles for lunch. There were already a few people in the break room eating theirs. The TV was on the History channel, and there was a show about the moon. They mentioned that our moon was the biggest in our galaxy, and if not for its size and orbit, earth’s environment would not have been stable enough to support life.

One of my employees, who was in there, and is a christian (hell, what am I saying? They’re all christians!) remarked, “Well, if that is not proof positive that there is a god, I don’t know what is.” I had to hightail it out of there before I said something I would regret. A few minutes later, while I was in my office, I heard the conversation continue along these lines:

A: “How come they just don’t get it? They’re not ignorant, so why can’t they see it?

B: “Well, they just refuse to see the truth.

A: “Yeah, but these are scientists: biologists, physicists. If anyone can appreciate the complexity of life, and how it couldn’t possibly have happened by chance, then they surely should be able to. They would have to admit that such a system has to have been created by god.”

B: “You know, I have just found it is no use arguing with them. You just have to walk away, there is no use talking any sense to them. Their minds are closed. You just have to walk away.”

A: “But how can they not see it?”

I just sat in my office, and shook my head. Close-minded. Close-minded? Really?! Wow.

The Watchmen, Once

Had the day off yesterday. Stayed home and watched a couple of movies: The Watchmen and Once. Yeah, I know a little bit different from each other. About midway through the first one, K walked out, saying she didn’t want to watch anymore. She thought the gore/violence was totally unnecessary, and for me to just watch the rest of it myself. It was alright. Don’t care to see it again. I’m sure there will be a sequel. Won’t watch that either. The only character I liked was Rorschach, and he was killed in this one, so that’s it for me. The other characters were pretty boring. Couldn’t care less whether they lived or died. Never read the graphic novel, maybe it’s better.

Once was pretty damn good. That sumbitch can sing. K wikied him. Hell, I didn’t know he was in The Commitments. I loved that movie. Once wasn’t as good, but I still enjoyed it. I even cried several times during it. Damn, I’m an emotional guy, will just weep like an old woman if the scene or music touches me in any way. I used to never be like that, but maybe losing your folks will do that to you. Not complaining, mind you. It’s kinda nice to be like that. Strong emotions are like a sip of fine whiskey, something to be savored, enjoyed. Although it can be kind of embarrassing.

But, as good as it was, no desire to watch it again. I had already bought the CD that had the music, and that’s all I really need.

K and I even had time to fool around a little bit, something that’s really hard to do these days. Really need to get to the doctor, though, and look into getting myself snipped. Playing Polish roulette otherwise. And especially when you consider the time span between romps; got a lot built up, so it don’t take long to blow my fuse.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another week

The start of another week. At least I get a break midway through. That will be nice. I haven't posted to this blog in a while, been too busy with other stuff, plus slowly posting my sonnets to my other blog.

It's been a little painful going through them. Not so much for the sentimental reasons stated earlier, but just because they aren't as good as I remember them. Of course, these are the very first ones I wrote, so I hadn't gotten into my stride yet. Still, they really are stinkers. I've been tempted to post some comments on some other blogs that feature poetry. The only thing holding me back is not wanting to draw attention to mine. Not yet, anyhow.

But it seems I have picked up a follower. Not sure why she is following the sonnet blog, she never posts any comments. Maybe she just needs a good laugh reading some really bad poetry. And these would definitely fit the bill.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Then and now

I've been going through my old poems, and posting them, one at a time on my other blog, "sonnets." The first 100 are just that: sonnets; after that, a little bit of everything. There's even a sestina in there! Damn, was I fearless, or what? According to my notes, they were written in the early 90's. I was a completely different person back then. Or was I?

At that time, both my mom and dad were still alive. I was a bachelor, living alone in a little one bedroom house. I had an easy job that I didn't take home with me. I drank too much. I wrote poetry everyday. I came and went as I pleased, no cares, no worries. I smoked cigars everyday. I had a small circle of friends with whom I discussed philosophy, poetry, music, etc...

Now, both of my parents are dead. I'm married, and have a little daughter (whom I adore.) We live in a large house. I have a higher paying job, but also more responsibilities (so, my job often follows me home.) I don't think I've been drunk since I've been married. I haven't written a poem since then. I do not come and go as I please. I always worry about my family. My wife does not like for me to smoke (although, she has relented somewhat recently, and said that if I happen to go play a round of golf with her dad, it would be okay to light one up.) My wife is the only friend I have, and she's not interested in talking about philosophy or poetry; and our tastes in music are not what one would call compatible.

But am I really different now? In some ways I feel I am, in others, I don't. I'm still interested in the same things. I still have the same likes and dislikes. But, I have to admit, when your parents die, it changes you.

My dad and I were never really that close. Although, now that he's gone, I feel I understand him better and why he had such a nasty temper; it's a demon I have to struggle with myself. But I had always been close to my mom; especially after dad passed away. I talked with her everyday. She would page me each morning I was at work. When my pager went off, and a series of 1's showed up, I knew she was awake and okay, and I would call her as soon as I could. I talked to her when I got home from work too. I talked to her everyday.

It took a long time before I stopped checking my pager for those 1's. And there were lots of times I would pick up the phone, and start dialing her number to let her know about something that had happened, or maybe I had a question about something, before I realized that no one would be answering it. It's been almost five years since she's been gone (13 for my dad), and not a day goes by that I don't think of them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Birth of Beelzebubba

This blog, in its short existence, has already gone through a multitude of changes in its attempt to come into the world; its birth throes, if you will. I hope that I will not be looking back at them as death throes. But, as Nietzsche said, “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.” So, we shall see.

I’ve toyed with the title to the point where I’m sick of it. The very first one I did was called “Beelzebubba’s Bistro.” I deleted it, and now it’s floating around in limbo, waiting to see if it gets resurrected or not. I’m thinking of bringing it back, and doing something else with it, something I hadn’t thought of before. But back to the title, or more specifically, “Beelzebubba.”

Over a year ago, I had taken on a pseudonym on another website with another derivation with bubba in it. I’m still unsure why I did it, as I had never gone by that nickname before, but no one at this site was using their real name, and brainstorming for a nom de plume for myself, this one came up, and I used it. Now friends I have made on that site call me bubba, or bubs. Never really having had a nickname before, I have to admit, I like it.

So, when I decided to start blogging, I figured I needed another one, and decided I’d use another variation with “bubba” in it. After deciding on Beelzebubba, I shortly thereafter started having regrets. I even started using my real name, and this was the title of this blog for a short time. But then I changed my mind again, reverted to Beelzebubba, and came up with “Beelzebubba’s corner.” I thought about changing it to something else, since I really don’t identify with it, but finally decided to stick with it, if for no other reason that I’m sick and tired of messing with it.

I decided not to use my real name, because I see this blog as a chance to explore aspects of my personality and thought processes that I’m not exactly comfortable with yet. Not that I’m going to blog about anything I would be ashamed of. I just feel I will be more comfortable writing whatever the hell I happen to feel like, and not worry what anyone who knows me, and might happen to stumble upon this, might think of me. Not that anyone is going to read this anyway, but you never know.

As for the other deleted blog, “Beelzebubba’s Bistro,” which is sitting in purgatory, I’m going to bring it back and write about matters gustatory. So expect to see posts about coffee, beer, cigars, bourbon, cuisine, etc… I may even put some reviews of restaurants in there.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dubito, ergo sum

I was raised a Catholic. My parents and I went to mass every Sunday (or Saturday evening – Catholics like a little flexibility, I guess). To say I was a devout Catholic would be a masterpiece of understatement – I seriously considered entering the priesthood. If my parents had not talked me out of it, that is probably what I’d be doing today. “You can’t make any money as a priest,” I remember my mother telling me. Plus, since I was an only child, that would mean no grandchildren. Thank God my parent’s pragmatism outweighed their devoutness.

When I lost my faith, it didn’t happen through a flash of insight; it was more of a gradual awakening. However, I do remember when the seed was planted: I was sitting in a college biology class one day, and the professor started joking about Creationism, wondering how any logical, sensible person could still believe in it. I remember running back to my priest, the next time I was home, desperately seeking counsel on this. I had never heard anyone talk like that before, and it scared the hell out of me. “The devil is just trying to tempt you, my boy,” he reassured me. “Your faith is strong, and will protect you.” Well, it wasn’t, and it didn’t. Because once I started questioning my faith, and examining all the evidence against it, there was no turning back. The veil was lifted, my eyes were opened, and I never would see things the same again.

As for how to classify my non-belief, I’m not quite sure of that. Sometimes I call myself an atheist, sometimes an agnostic. I’d like to think it’s because of my doubting nature, which makes me unsure even of my own understanding of anything. But maybe I’m just trying to cover all my bases, allowing for the possibility of finding myself at the Pearly Gates one day trying to explain myself: “No, it’s not that I didn’t believe in you, I was just unsure for about sixty years. What’s sixty years in the grand scheme of things? C’mon, give me a mulligan!”

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Miles to go

There was a time when I was obsessed with Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue." I still think it's the greatest jazz recording of all time. But back when I was a single guy, living alone, there was a stretch of a couple of months when I couldn't stop listening to it.

I don't recall exactly what started it; but one of the times when I put it in the CD player, I didn't take it out, or turn it off. I just left it on repeat, and let it play over and over and over again. I would leave for work and be listening to the plaintive phrasings of "Flamenco Sketches." I would get off work and "Freddie Freeloader" would welcome me home as I walked through the door.

I especially liked taking baths while it played, since the acoustics were pretty good in that tiny bathroom. I would scat along with it, since I had every note memorized, and my voice would reverberate off the walls. And nothing was better than falling asleep and waking up to it. Sometimes the same song I would remember hearing as I fell asleep would be the same one playing as I woke up.

It's hard to believe that only five songs, totaling only about 45 minutes long, could have such an impact on me. But I remember those two months as if they had only just happened, instead of being almost 20 years ago. It felt as if I were walking on air, as Miles' music moved me along, providing the soundtrack to my life.

"Kind of Blue" just celebrated it's 50th anniversary this year. I'm sure if I live long enough to see it's 100th, it will sound as fresh as it did those 20 years ago, when I couldn't stop listening to it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Decline and Fall

So I recently started re-reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Well, re-reading is not completely accurate. I only got about half-way through the first volume last time. And that was close to 20 years ago. I decided to start from the beginning again, and am determined to get through all three volumes of 2777 pages. It's slow going this time, since I'm making it a point of really taking my time, not moving on until I really understand the point Gibbon is trying to make. And this time I'm reading all the footnotes, which I didn't bother to do last time. And therein lies my beef.

Most people will agree that Gibbon's footnotes contain some of the juiciest morsels, and to read D&F without reading the footnotes is missing out on half the fun. But the edition I am reading contains additional footnotes by the editor, Oliphant Smeaton. And it's driving me absolutely bonkers. Mr. Smeaton finds it necessary to include his own footnotes every other page; sometimes several per page. And most of his footnotes are his pathetic attempts to correct Gibbon.

Here's an example. To quote Gibbon:
The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar, that the hammer of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people.

Mr. Oliphant's footnote to this passage is the following:
[Gibbon's remark here is wholly incorrect. --O.S.]

Wholly incorrect, huh? Really? Yes, we all know of Gibbon's bias towards the church. And that he blames the Christian religion as being one of the determining factors in the fall of Rome. But I also happen to agree with him. So do a lot of people. It is Gibbon's book. He wrote it. You may or may not agree with some of his theories. If you don't, keep it to yourself. You pusillanimous little prick.

As I said before, his additional footnotes are really getting on my nerves. Determined not to miss out on any of Gibbon's own footnotes, I've been making it a point to follow up each one. But when you see the number for a footnote, you don't know whose footnote it is until you look down to find it on the bottom part of the page. Although, Mr. Oliphant was kind enough to delineate his by putting them in brackets, and signing them O.S., by the time I've discovered it is one of his, and that I really don't care to read it, the flow of Gibbon's words (and he was a helluva wordsmith) has already been disrupted. And I find myself wanting to find a gladius, and skewering old O.S.

I see his little additions as nothing more than the attempt of a pathetic little man to claim some fame by riding on the back of a giant. I even have a picture in my head of what Oliphant looks like; probably not accurate, but it's still there. I see a tall, severely thin man, bald, and wearing horn-rimmed glasses. His face, long neck and stooping posture reminds me of a vulture. And I suppose the metaphor is not an inaccurate one. Picking over the meaty carcass of Gibbon, he's found a way to sustain himself, and has managed to attain some level of immortality. Which is more than I will ever be able to attain.

Friday, October 30, 2009

First Post

What do I want to accomplish with this blog? Still not sure. But mainly, I think I just want some kind of platform to organize my thoughts and ideas. I'm still toying with the idea of writing a book, so maybe this will help. Actually, "toying with" is not really accurate. I really want to get something published. The other day, I started working out some characters that I might be able to turn into a novel. Maybe I can use this to further develop them. Also, I have some ideas for a book of essays I'd like to get published. And then, there's all the sonnets and the other poems I wrote years ago. Some of these were actually published. I plan on digging those up, cleaning them off, and sticking them in here too.

This sounds fun. Maybe I can actually keep this going, and end up producing something tangible. Who knows? Yeah, I know. I'm 44 years old, a little late to be starting a writing career. But if I don't try now, it'll definitely never happen. Here's wishing myself luck.