Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true ** probably true

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

super-duper secret saturday bloggers meeting

That's right. It's a super-duper secret that Expat @ Large (see links on right, I'm lazy) and I will be drinking heavily on Saturday night. Well, it's not so much of a secret that we'll be drinking, as where we'll be drinking. So much of a secret, in fact, that I don't even know. And even if I did know, I couldn't tell myself, because then I'd have to kill me.

So stop asking already. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. And then myself. And it would all be your fault.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Confessions of an Ang Mo, part 1: You will never understand my stomach.

A simple breakfast- two roti prata with attendant curry sauce, an iced Milo. I watch the man knead, stretch and oil the dough, endless rounds of endless rounds (the shop is open 24 hours). They make their Milo with milk instead of water, and the difference is telling. There are big framed phrases in Arabic on the walls, beaten out of copper and tin.There are a dozen fried half-chickens stacked like cordwood in the display window. There are bright plastic yellow chairs and bright plastic green tables and dingy yellow walls, and for $2.45 you can have a quick, simple, filling breakfast.

In San Antonio, on the South Side, the tables would be wooden, perhaps with cigarette-holed checkered plastic tablecloths, perhaps scarred and bare. there might be garage-built benches instead of cheap patio chairs. Instead of prata and curry, there would be refried bean and cheese tacos or egg and cheese tacos; the tortillas and the pico de gallo would be fresh, fresh fresh. Instead of iced Milo there might be fresh squeezed Valley-grown orange juice or lime-aid or drip-grind coffee con leche. For the big spender there might be a big plate of huevos rancheros...

Instead of Arabic proverbs, the walls would be adorned with pictures of the Virgin Mary or Jesus of the Sacred Heart (along with dusty serapes, yellowing posters of Corona girls in skimpy conjunto outfits, and bodega-advertising calendars). Instead of fried chicken stacked in the display window, there would be a feeble attempt at decoration--plastic flowers, plastic fruit, plastic vegetables.

But it's all the same, really. Food for the common man and woman. Deceptively simple food, designed to get you through to lunch. Food meant for those who work with their backs, their hands.

I am, I have always been more satisfied with the bean and cheese taco, the plain prata, at 60 or 80 cents apiece, then I have ever been with the $15 hotel buffet breakfast spread that always has everything you want except what you actually want. It drives [redacted] insane. Mostly we compromise on the weekends, the only time we actually have time to eat breakfast together. Mostly we go to (the original) Killiney Kopitiam, where I have french toast with kaya or maybe the chicken curry, and she has her runny egs and mee siam. I'll drink my kopi ping and she'll drink my kopi ping after protesting yet again that she doesn't want anything to drink, no really.

Food, you see, more than language or skin tone or political leanings is what keps me from integrating more fully into Singapore society. Chilli crab? Too messy, too much work for not enough meat. Fish head curry? I wouldn't want anybody to eat my face, and so I show fish the same courtesy. Sushi? the only thing I prefer raw is wrestling, thank-you-very-much.

In fact, seafood in general is is dangerous territory. I grew up hundreds of miles from the coast, The only seafood I knew during those important formative years was breaded and/or pressed into unnatural shapes. Anything else is just too foreign for me to ever be really comfortable with. Someone who grew up on an island will never understand.

#

God, I miss Tex-Mex. It is a culinary tradition much maligned, much misunderstood. It is the American equivalent of Peranikan food, with as rich a history and as varied a spectrum of influences, and yet too often it's treated as a joke.

[Redacted] has taken me to every vaguely Mexican-sounding restaurant in Singapore now. Inevitably everything is covered in sour cream, which is like going to a Chinese restaurant and having everything covered in soy sauce. It's a travesty. It should carry a mandatory death sentence. For my birthday she took me to Margarita's. I ordered the standard by which every Mexican restaurant is judged in Texas, the cheese enchilada plate.

"Does it come with sour cream?" I ask the pre-teen taking my order.

"No."

"Because if it does, I don't want sour cream."

"It doesn't come with sour cream."

"Okay..."

And when it arrives, it has been drenched in sour cream. Never mind the enchilada sauce is nearly non-existent, or that the enchiladas are sitting in a puddle of grease. Small indignities I have learned to accept. I look up at the pre-pubescent waiter and say "That's sour cream."

"Oh. Sorry ah." and he walks off.

I sit there, stunned. I tell myself the fantasy that he's gone to get me a fresh plate. Five minutes later I see him in a corner, skiving with the pre-teen hostess. I wave violently until he can no longer pretend not to see me.

"Please take this back. I specifically asked for no sour cream." He does so with ill grace, then returns less than a minute later. It's obvious he's just scraped the tops of the enchiladas with a butter knife, or possibly his fingers. He's removed most of the sour cream, along with the majority of what little sauce there was to begin with.

At this point the owner (who I had met previously) returns from some errand, sparing the boy two weeks in traction and myself an unknown quantity of jail time.

And [redacted]? The one who swore in front of God, a priest, and dozens of guests to comfort me? She's laughing.

#

And yet, I know she understands my pain and least to some degree. Spending so many summers in Sibu growing up, a frightening, almost unholy light flares in her eyes when she talks about Sarawak noodles. When she talks about them, she speaks with the conviction of a zealot. And when she found out a couple of weeks ago that a Sarawak noodle stall had opened up somewhere in Chinatown, it was like telling a kid Santa was coming. Finally she rounded up L. and K. and me and MachineBoy to make the pilgrimage. L. drove. We were uncertain of the exact address. Then she saw the sign, and began to cry. Tissues were duly passed over to her. She couldn't bear to wait until we'd found a parking spot, so everyone was dropped off while L graciously looked for parking on a Saturday afternon in Chinatown.

The place was packed. Always a good sign. Hope flared high and bright. Noodles were ordered. People waited with varying degrees of anticipation.

And then it arrived.

"What are these pork crumbles doing in here? Why so many green onions? This char siew is not thin enough! Noodles not correct!"

I didn't laugh, not once. I could speculate that I am simply a nicer, kinder person than [redacted]... but really, I think it was just my sense of self-preservation kicking in. [Hindsight - no, I really was/am a nicer, kinder person than my ex]

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nocturne Parentis

So MachineBoy wakes me up at 4 am, by grabbing my nose. (In the dead of night I am the preferred parent, as [redacted] will only wake if he pulls her hair, and he is not likely to get whatever it is he wanted from her by approaching her in that manner. Nor, for that matter, am I.)

I crack one sleep-gummed eye, and there he is, sucking on his nuk (squik-squik-squik), his little chubby face about four inches away from mine. He sees my eye open, and he smiles this big smile around his pacifier.

"Hello, Ryan-Ryan-bo-Byan," I croak. "Why are you awake?"

"Guh-weh," he replies, and pats my cheek.

"Oh," I say. Then he buries his face in my neck and squirms around until his back is against my chest and his head is on my pillow. I put an arm around his little waist and after a few minutes squick-squick-squick becomes squick…squick…silence.

I lay in the semi-dark, listening to the chuffing of the aircon, watching the slow rise and fall of [redacted] and MachineBoy's chests by the curtain-blurred light of the streetlamp. And I think of all the other fathers throughout the unimaginably long span of human history who have done some similar sentry duty. I think of mr brown, doing it for the third time. I think of my own father, and wonder if he ever did it for my sister or brother (he didn't stick around to do it for me), and I try to understand how a father could bear to give up that duty, to leave his loved ones defenseless in the dark, with no one to make sure that chests rise and fall, rise and fall.

And then I finally fall back to sleep, and I dream that it is the future, and MachineBoy has a MachineSister, and in my dream I worry that I will not be able to watch so many rising and falling chests, and I dream that I must go in search of the monster Argus, to hire it to watch over all of us, a thousand eyes open in the dark, because someone must watch… someone … worry …worry …silence.

And it occurs to me now that, maybe, my father also went off in search of Argus. Maybe four rising, falling chests were too many for one man with two eyes to guard properly. Maybe he got lost along the way. Maybe, for the past thirty-four years, he's been trying to make his way back from that distant place where myths and legends are retrenched to.

It's a pleasant fiction.

Die, die die.

To the sick fucker in washington, michigan, who wandered over to this blog by doing a yahoo search for 'boy nude photo':

I hope your testicles rot off, you sick fuck. I hope you end up in prison, where you are anally raped with broomstick handles before breakfast, and some big fucking biker named dutch knocks out all your teeth so you can service him better on those cold lonely nights. and then I hope you die die die.

Sincerely,

MercerMachine

[At Dr. Lowem's intelligent suggestion, here is the ip address that was listed. I dunno if it's complete; I'm not geek enough to know what to do about this. But if anyone who reads this is...
IP Address: 68.62.89.# (Comcast Cable) 68.62.89.83]

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dear Screwy

Dear Screwy,

You ask why I don't write lit other than fantasy. It's a fair question, and I'll answer it as best I can, though you may find the answer unsatisfying. I know I do.

First, let me say that I do write things other than fantasy. I perpetrate the odd poem, but I'm not as good as him, and I never will be. I will always be minor league, and that on my best day. I will never rise above the level of journeyman in that particular trade.

But why not lit? Why not the Great American Novel, or at least the Great Expat Novel? I know I have a certain facility with the English language. I know this because people have paid me to write, and because people have paid to read what I have written, and most importantly, sometimes people whose opinion I respect (such as yourself) tell me they like what I have written. So why don't I apply myself to something more… substantial, shall we say, than genre fiction?

The short answer, my friend, is that I'm a coward.

I would love to leave it at that. Let everybody draw their own (incorrect) conclusions as to what I mean. But while this is an open letter, it is still a letter to you, Screwy, and I'd like for you to know exactly what I mean if I can express it properly—mainly because I see you as a writer that has at least as much and probably far more raw talent than I had at your age, and without a doubt far more drive. You have a life ahead of you (if you want it; if you grasp it in both fists and hang on) that will in all probability be the life of a writer, and for that I both congratulate you and commiserate with you.

So. The long, messy answer.

Do you remember the first time you read critically? I do. My mother had spent $45 she couldn't afford on an incomplete set of used Hardy Boys hardback novels for my brother. He wasn't interested, so they devolved to me. I was six.

I devoured those books, I read and re-read them. They were mine, all twenty-four of them. Being the youngest of three kids in a single parent family, I was rather possessive about my few possessions.

But the thing was, they were terrible books. I still remember, one of the mysteries revolved around a mysterious guy known only by name, or rather nickname: 'Pop'. And so the Hardy boys are running around looking for some old coot, but in fact, 'Pop' earned his moniker because he drank a lot of soda pop. He was hardly older than they were. Even at the age of six, I curled my lip up at that one. (My math skills truly sucked; I could barely add two and two, but at six I was already a literary critic. So you see, Xiaxue shouldn't really expect any quarter from me. I have a looooong history of trashing bad writing.)

The other thing was, the tone changed from book to book. The Boys Hardy spoke one way in one book, and another way in another. Descriptive passages, even sentence structures were written differently; there was no feeling of continuity throughout the series. That more than anything put me off. It wasn't until years later that I found it was because the books were ghostwritten by a dozen different people.

Be patient, I'm getting to the cowardice part.

I learned from an early age how easy it was to write badly, Screwy. And it put me off writing until I was thirteen. Hormones can do crazy things. In my case, they made me fall in puppy love with Shelley Hodges. I wrote all kinds of bad poetry about her, about love, about life in a little orange spiral notebook. And then at the Spring Carnival she made out with John Martinez (known as Jon-Jon), and rumor had it that later that night they actually *did it*. Crushed, I handed her the notebook at school and wandered off, misery clothed in parachute pants and an OP t-shirt. I only remember one poem from what I like to call my Orange Period:

Secret, secret, we've all got a secret,
Dirty little secrets that we keep.
But soon now, soon there'll be no little secrets
When we cross that border into sleep…

So anyway, I don't remember writing much of anything again until I was 17, and the world did not mourn.

And then I met Jessica.

I'll save the story of that love affair for some other time. All that's really relevant now is that she was incredibly beautiful and something got damaged inside her on the way to adulthood, and we wrote each other love letters constantly, stuffing them into each other's lockers. They were pretty racy. And when one of them somehow ended up in the clutches of the entire baseball team, I shrugged. At least all the whispers about me being gay stopped. And when she went off to college while I finished my senior year, the letters didn't stop, but they did darken. I found a place that would sell me and my best friend beer and a job making pizzas; she found crystal meth and heroin and lots of sex that didn't include me.

I'm betting you're starting to see a picture taking shape, no?

Then there was college, and Lori, who I fell in love with and who fell in love with Stephen. And that was a sad, sordid little thing that lasted far longer than it should have, and involved me writing like a madman, believing somehow by sheer force of words properly applied I could shift the entire universe to a place where I could have what I so desperately wanted, which was her. And you know what? It worked. Sort of. Only I had to make a choice: Accept what she was willing to give me (hint: not all of her and not all the time) or accept nothing. I chose nothing.

And then there was the whole thing with X, and so much just gone, up in smoke out of sheer vindictiveness and madness. It was like losing a limb, or having a stroke. It was debilitating. It was crippling.

Fantasy, specifically Sword and Sorcery, is what pulled me out of that abyss. It allowed me to put form to something that was essentially formless. To paint it with a broad brush, in fiction you can make sense of senselessness. Specifically, by using the formula fiction laid down by Howard and Carter and de Camp and Leiber, I found a way to express all the horrible things that can happen to a person, and yet still have it turn out all right in the end. I found (or rather turned to) a literary value system that didn't ignore the fact that the world can be a sick, deadly place; that the odds really are against you—but you can still triumph if you only use your head and your will like a weapon, and hold back absolutely nothing.

I owe a lot to fantasy.

You see, the strictly literary is chaos. It's an old, wicked, wild, dark kind of amoral magic that has no rules, and damn few conventions. You cast a spell with your words, and either nothing happens or anything can happen, and that anything includes some truly painful, truly horrific stuff. I am afraid of what I might conjure up. I am afraid that it might be stronger than I am. I am afraid that it will defeat me.

Formula fiction is contained; you give yourself over to its conventions and within those boundaries, some amazing stuff can happen. You don't have to believe Genesis word for word to see the power and grace of those words. And if it all goes badly, you can shrug it off and say 'it's only a fantasy story. I'll start another tomorrow.'

With literary fiction, it's like being dropped in the middle of the savannah. There are lions, they are real, and they can tear you limb from limb. I wasn't born with this limp. It's not a game for me, writing; it's deadly serious. I could wander out there and never be heard from again.  

So yeah, Screwy, I don't write the literary stuff much because I'm a coward. Or, to be kind to myself, I've already paid a heavy price in my life for writing the real, and the only return I've gotten were the words themselves, and even they weren't permanent. For some, that would be enough. For some, it would be shameful to expect more than that.

I'm older, now. I'm more canny. I want a better deal.

But you, my friend, should not take to heart too much of my experience. That wild, dark magic never shapes itself the same way twice; everyone weaves a unique spell, every time they put pen to paper. You're young, so be reckless. See what you can come up with. When the magic strikes, it might be terrifying, it might be awe inspiring, but there is one thing it never is, and that's boring.

So write like your hair is on fire, Screwy. Maybe you'll shame me into taking another risk. And just between you and me and the three other people who read this blog, I wouldn't regret that a bit.

Your friend,

MM



Sticky issues #13: A Satisfying Conclusion

Yeah I know this is old news, but hey.

Filed Under: NKF TT Durai Peanuts!

(Pic too small? Click on pic, then click on 'all sizes'. That should do the trick.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Imperial Decree #3


Whereas Sam, the world's ugliest dog, has shuffled off his hideous mortal coil at the ripe age of 14;
Whereas Sam had been feted for his ugliness around the globe;
Now we do proclaim today to be a day of mourning, and decree that all flags are to be flown at half-mast, and toasts are to be made in pubs and bars across the globe to Sam, one truly ugly dog who has left this even uglier world, and may God have mercy on his soul and all of ours.





Signed,
MercerMachine I
Emperor of America (in exile)
Protector and Guide of the 50 United States

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Dear Ex

X,

I am sitting at a cafĂ© overlooking the Singapore River, watching bumboats ferry tourists up and down the green-brown waterway, diesel engines throbbing, tacky red lanterns swaying, eyeball-painted prows neatly slicing the sludge. Conversations in half a dozen languages wash over me. I’m waiting for the rain to come, brief and furious, as it usually does this time of day, this time of year.

I’m on the other side of the world from Texas, from Austin, from you and the Drag and 6th Street and decent Tex-Mex and any season other than summer. It is late afternoon here; there, it’s the hour when drunks make their perilous way home from parties and bars and, yes, strip joints. But even on the other side of today’s date, on the other side of the world, and even six years distant, your words have had an effect.

#

Let us be frank about the past, X, because at this late date there is no reason not to be. Because a dialog that begins with avoidance works quite well in fiction, but less well in real life: You lied constantly when we were together. You slept with other men, including my best friend. You tried to get me sent to prison when it was over. You destroyed every scrap of my writing you could get your hands on. You got me arrested. You cost me thousands of dollars that I couldn’t afford. You hounded and harassed me. You caused me massive shame. You were the physical embodiment of the Furies.

You were, quite literally, the worst thing that ever happened to me.

I learned to endure. I learned, because I had no choice. I learned to be a stone, indifferent to the tempest. And then, after the storm finally spent itself, I had to learn how to be flesh and blood again.

And now, after six years, you send me a few emails to say you’re sorry, to tell me you owe me a pack of cigarettes.

#
You say, “I am not going to lie. I have carried you around with me every where.”

I don’t feel anger, or love, or loss. I don’t know exactly what it is I feel, to be honest, and I don’t have any desire to put it under a microscope, to dissect it, to see how it is articulated or if it crawls, walks or flies. It is something tinged with a mild disbelief, a vague regret. Let’s leave it at that.

Here is the truth of the matter, X: Six years ago you closed the door on any possible future that included us together. You closed that door, and then you locked it, and then you boarded it up, and then you doused the whole thing in jet fuel and then you burned it down to the ground. I need for you to understand this, not because I wish you any suffering (I don’t), nor because I hold any grudges (I don’t), but because it is the plain, unadorned, unvarnished truth.

#

Now the light is failing. Now the red swaying lanterns on the low, wide bumboats come on, making some minor huckster transformation from tawdry to quaint. Now the faces of all the tourists taken for a ride are a dozen different tints of crimson blur. Around me, passing by me, I can hear if not understand snatches of conversations in Mandarin, Tamil, Tagalog, Malay, German, French, three flavors of English, and some Slavic tongue that may or may not be Russian. Singapore is one of the world’s smallest countries, and the world’s biggest transit lounge. It suits me. Nothing is really real, but everything is shiny, clean and neat. Cigarette packs carry godawful photos of what your habit is doing to your lungs, your brain, your mouth, your family. And unless you dig and dig and find the few stray souls who haven’t been sanitized for your protection, no one expects you, as an outsider, to have any answers here; no one cares if you do or don’t. No one cares what the questions are. It’s all just about commerce. And in that vacuum, I am free. Free to create and destroy and work like a dog and slack like a moron; I’m free to write or not write, free to think or not think. Nobody cares. Not if you can’t show them the bottom line. And that’s the most refreshing, the most liberating thing about this place. When everyone is just passing through, when everything is temporary, it becomes so very easy after a while to see and understand the nature of permanence. You learn to infer by the absence of things.

#

So you want to be a writer. You’ve had writer’s block for four years. I’ll give you some advice: burn everything you’ve written to date.

I’m not being flippant. I am utterly serious. Trash it. Those words are an anchor weighing you down. They’re the One Ring, shining in the darkness down under the mountain. Your body of work to date is the thing you keep polishing and admiring and fingering like a fetish. It is the thing that is keeping you from writing.

Get rid of it. And then write. Write until you write something that amazes you, something you can hardly believe came out of your brain. And then keep writing.

Write a quarter of a million words. Then you will be in a place where you are prepared to be a writer.

I don’t want your apologies. They’re no good to me now. I’ve moved far beyond the place where they have any meaning. But I do want you to atone for my words that you destroyed. And the only way to do that is to replace them with your own.

Do that, and we can talk. Maybe I’ll tell you about my life, my wife, my son. Do that, and I can think of you not as the woman who tried to destroy me, but as the writer who earned her place at the table.

Let’s just leave it at that for now.

MM

On prostitiution, loneliness, Asian values, the human condition and people watching

So much of my life seems to consist of sitting somewhere, smoking, drinking one overpriced beverage or another, and trying to figure it all out… whatever ‘it’ is. Mostly I watch people. They’re endlessly fascinating, endlessly complex, endlessly un-understandable. I will never figure out why people do 80% of what they do, but the price of a beer or a coffee is like buying a ticket to the greatest show on earth. It’s always the same, which is to say it’s never the same. The only thing that really changes is the seat I’ve rented.

Right now, across the street at Orchard Towers, one of the clubs on the second floor has just switched on its neon. ‘HONKEY TONKIN,’ it reads, ‘SWAMP ROCK’. ‘LIVE ROCK n’ ROLL’, all in red. Alcohol, women of questionable morals, rock n’ roll, men with too much money and not enough action. I know it’s been said before and better, but Singapore is a strange place – in some ways, self-delusional. Prostitution is legal, but ‘Asian values’ are touted regularly. There is a great uproar over casinos, as they may turn some into gambling addicts – as if Toto, 4D, horse racing etc. aren’t gambling and may not have the exact same effect. I think the idea of ‘Asian values’ is a good one, actually; one of the many sad things about globalization is the erosion of vibrant native cultures across the world. But to be honest, I have no idea what ‘Asian values’ are supposed to consist of, beyond the idea of filial piety. But I’ve gone off on a tangent. I was talking about prostitution.

I may not agree with prostitution (yeah baby, make love to my wallet!) but I understand it. And I don’t disagree with it on a moral or ethical level, as long as it’s two consenting adults. No, for me it’s just a matter of being a little too sordid and sad to be worth whatever brief physical release comes with asking a girl at Top Ten, ‘Have you had your dinner?’ For me, (and admittedly this is just for me, I’m not telling anyone else how to think or what to do in regards to prostitution) if I am hard up for sex, I’ve got two hands, a wide choice of lubricants and a stellar imagination. I can have sex with anyone I want. I can have sex with Helen of Troy if I want, and it doesn’t cost me a penny, and there is absolutely zero chance of catching a communicable disease. Or starting a war, for that matter.

But like I said, that’s just me. I understand loneliness, and I understand desire that blurs into need, into craving, almost into compulsion. I’m a smoker, after all. And while I am not the handsomest of men, I have been blessed (and sometimes cursed) with an adequate amount of female companionship throughout my adult life, making ‘professional’ help unnecessary. I prefer love to be real or wholly illusory.

But I’ve strayed far (and wide) from the topic. I don’t understand people. I never will. I understand some of their actions, their drives but in the end we are all prisoners locked in our own skulls, passing notes to the other inmates by the Morse code of language… and doing it badly. Every man, and every woman, is an island. An island that we can never truly visit. We send each other postcards (weather’s fine, wish you were here) but the interior lives of each of us remain forever locked away, songs without music, music without ears to hear.

And so I sit and drink my coffee or my beer, and I look at the faces of those who pass by, and I wonder what’s going on in each of those undiscovered countries: the beautiful woman whose face is set in stone, just at the edge of a scowl; the child in the stroller riding the edge of sleep; the business man with the dreamy look in his eye; the guy in the wheelchair, slack-jawed and darting eyes… And I will never know those lands, the contours, the forces which have shaped them.

But I want to.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The SomethingSticky Evening Post

Taking a look at some of today's news articles with a Sticky spin

Chan Cheng Khoon, 71, Convicted 3rd time for being an Asshat
Already fined for insulting two neighbors last year, the asshat who's been driving down Everitt Road property values for a decade was convicted for a third time yesterday. After flipping off his neighbors yet again, he was back in the courtroom, saying 'there's no such thing as bad press'.
The last time he was in court, Chan was fined $4,000. He told reporters then the fine was "sup sup sui", Cantonese for "no big deal."
"You know how much a half page ad would cost in the Straits Times?" Chan asked. "With a full color picture, we're talking like $15 k. Hell yeah, four grand is sup sup sui."
When asked why he was such an asshat, Mr Chan said "I'm 71 frigging years old. How else am I supposed to amuse myself? Write idiotic letters to the ST Forum? Fuck that noise."
Bush prods China on political freedom; China says 'Shut up, monkey-boy'
US President George W. Bush, who has pledged to make the promotion of freedom and democracy one of the pillars of his second term, along with making shitloads of money for his oil buddies and lying his ass off, yesterday kicked off his tour of Asia by callingon China and other Asian countries to grant more political freedom to their people.
"Why tell your people that they have no choice and get them all upset, when you can lie to them all day long and the majority will believe you?" said Mr Bush in a keynote speech in Kyoto. "I mean, totalitarianism does the trick, don't get me wrong, but there's nothing like having millions of voters actually give you the power to rape the environment and plunder the economy for your own gain. Not to mention the whole war trip. What a rush!"
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, speaking in Busan, South Korea, brushed off his call toBeijing to "embrace" democracy the way Taiwan did. "Totalitarianism is a lot less complicated," he remarked.
And that, dear readers, is all the news that's Sticky enough to print.

Sticky issues #I-lost-count-oredy: Singapore is pro-choice...


Filed under: Singapore capital punishment atrulystickyissue

The Adventures of Ninja Joe (on the bus!)


ninjajoebus
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
pic too small? click on the pic, then click on 'all sizes'. that should do the trick.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

small person humoring big people

yah, it's hallowe'en. hoo-ray. of course you can make me wear pink bunny ears even though i'm a boy. and i loooove the buck-tooth nook you got me. it's great. do i get candy now? no? fookers.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

MachineBoy sleeps


MachineBoy sleeps
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
Nap time. The pacifier went missing on Orchard Road approximately 35 minutes later. If found, uh, nevermind. I don't want it back.

Ninja Joe vs Busker-Man


Ninja Joe vs Busker-Man
Originally uploaded by MercerMachine.
too small? click on the pic, then click on 'all sizes'. that should do the trick.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Quake Didn’t Kill Him-- But Winter Might


The South Asia earthquake that struck on 8 October 2005 may be over, but the suffering –and dying – is far from finished. Though the death toll has already reached 90,000, more people are likely to die from the harsh winter conditions in the region than were killed by the quake itself. More than 3.5 million people are homeless, and many of these survivors are stranded in the remains of remote villages in Pakistan’s mountainous North and Northwestern provinces.

Without even basic shelter such as blankets and winterized tents, the United Nations has said that many more will die from winter conditions than were killed by the earthquake. With only two weeks left before the onset of winter, winterized tents have run out in Pakistan, and international aid is neither sufficient nor speedy enough to prepare those who have been left homeless and vulnerable to the elements. The situation has become desperate.

The Crisis Relief Society (Singapore) has established a base in a Pakistan army camp in Bagh, North Pakistan. With the help of mules and local helpers, CRS is bringing urgently needed relief supplies and medical relief into the remains of mountain villages beyond the base camp. CRS also has a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers treating those injured in the quake. To date, CRS has treated over 1,000 patients. Together with local partners, CRS is committed to bringing and maintaining a steady chain of urgently needed supplies such as blankets and tents into these remote areas.

95% of all donations go directly to the victims of this disaster in the form of supplies, but these relief supplies will have to get to those who need it--before winter sets in! Once winter comes roads will no longer be accessible and weather condition will render flying supplies in too dangerous. You can help--your donation will go towards bringing in winter supplies straight into the disaster zones. One winter worthy tent costs S$300 and one blanket costs S$25 (current price with transportation factored in).

You Can Make A Difference – But You MUST Hurry
IRAS Public Fund Raising Permit 34/2005
Donate to: Crisis Relief Society (Singapore)
Post to: Tanjong Pagar Post OfficePO Box 057, Singapore 910802
State "Pakistan earth quake relief" behind cheque
Do not forget to include your personal particulars so we can acknowledge your kind contribution. Please note that your donation is not tax exempt.

Imperial Decree #2: Boycott O'Reilly Sponsors


WHEREAS, a certain television and radio personality known as Bill O'Reilly has been recorded inviting terrorist organizations to attack the American city of San Francisco;
WHEREAS, the city of San Francisco is not only an American city under the protection of the Emperor of America (in exile), but also the city of the late, lamented Emperor Norton I, and as such a shrine to the Goddess of Reason;
WHEREAS, the will of the People, of whom I am the humble instrument, demands redress for the heinous, cowardly, hate-mongering statement made by said television personality;
NOW, THEREFORE, do we order and direct any and all Americans and Citizens of the World at Large who find the invitation of a media personality to terrorist groups to destroy a city or parts thereof because the citizens of said city did not vote in accordance with said media personality's wishes TO IMMEDIATELY BOYCOTT ANY AND ALL SPONSORS OF THE O'REILLY FACTOR, be they television or radio sponsors, until such time as Bill O'Reilly is no longer employed in the capacity of a television or radio personality.

We are mightily displeased with this man, and ask that all loyal subjects of the Emperor of America (in exile), by Grace of God and the Will of the People Emperor MercerMachine I, do their utmost to make their Emperor's displeasure known with the full force of their shut wallets and pocket books.

Further, we ask that this decree be circulated and posted in all public places, be they material or electronic, that ignorance of the law may be no excuse!

Signed this 13th Day of November, 2005,

MercerMachine I
Emperor of America (in exile)
Protector and Guide of the 50 United States

Sunday, November 13, 2005

PLUG!

Play KoL. Play it now. It's free, dammit.

I Am The Emperor of America (in exile)

"On September 17, 1859, businessman Joshua Norton crowned himself Emperor of the United States. He quicky issued an edict that dissolved the US Congress, citing its fraud and corruption, and later abolished the Republican and Democratic parties. He created his own money to pay his debts, and called for the creation of a League of Nations decades before that institution came into being. When he died after a 21 year reign, 30,000 people attended his funeral. I urge you to take up his mantle, MercerMachine. May he (and I) inspire you to declare yourself protector and guide of a domain that desperately needs more of your leadership. May you rule with a velvet glove, not an iron hand, dispensing witty wisdom as you promote your vison of utopia."

-God, speaking between the lines of the week of Nov. 11 free will astrology column


When God talks, MercerMachine listens. So without further ado:

To the Citizens of the United States of America and the World at Large:

Be it known that, in accordance with Divine Will and the Will of The People, I MercerMachine, formerly of San Antonio, Texas and parts North and East thereof, and now currently residing in the Republic of Singapore, do hereby declare and proclaim myself the Emperor of America (in exile) on this day, November 12, 2005.

The United States of America, having been bereft of true and rightful leadership since the death of Emperor Joshua Norton on January 8, 1880, has since seen a horrid decline in ethics, morality, and common sense. It is not without reservation that I take up the heavy burden ceded by Emperor Norton upon his death, as I know the struggle to bring the United States back from its nadir of idiocy will be a lifelong one; one that will utterly tax my wit, wisdom, and senses of humor and proportion. Nevertheless, the spectres of bungled History and the ghosts of mangled Futures, not to mention God and the People, demand that I assume my rightful position. I bow to Fate.

As my first Imperial Decree, I renew the call made by the late Emperor Norton for Congress to disband; further, I renew the call for the Republican and Democratic parties to disband. Congress, having been gathering in an unlawful manner for no less than 145 years, and the Republican and Democratic parties, having been gathering in an unlawful manner for no less than 136 years, shall immediately cease and desist. Or else.

Further, it is hereby lawfully proclaimed that all members of the (illegal) Republican Party, humorlesly known as the Grand Old Party as well as every (illegal) Democratic member of (illegal) Congress who voted (illegally) to go to war in Iraq, shall be sentenced to six months hard labor for every American death in Iraq (not to run concurently), and further, shall pay restitution of $10,000 for every Iraqi civilian death since the inception of the (illegal) war.

Finally, I, MercerMachine, your lawful Emperor (in exile), call upon every loyal American Citizen to distrubute and make generally known my will, decrees and commands to all those in breach of these and any other decrees that I, your lawful Emperor, may make in future. Let ignorance of the law be no excuse!

Signed with all humility,

MercerMachine I,
Emperor of America (in exile)
Protector and Guide of the 50 United States

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

uncomfortably numb...

it's like, like, whatever stupid crap floats to the top of my head must be used, because there's no time to think. Just write. I've stopped cringeing at the horribleness of it. I'm just numb. This is truly the worst thing I've ever written. I still have no idea what it's about. I find myself creating characters just so I can kill them off. I am seriously disturbed.

NaNoWriMo is evil. It must be stopped.

word count: 7,130
words left: 42,870
time left: 21 days, 13 hours, 41 minutes

Monday, November 07, 2005

I am a seething mass of hate

I hate NaNoWriMo. I hate writing. I hate words. I hate MS Word. I hate the word count function in MS Word. I hate typing. I hate the horrible dreck that I am typing. Someone please kill me.

word count: 4,794
words left: 45,206
time left: 23 days, 51 minutes

Friday, November 04, 2005

The White House: A New Greek Tragedy

...before I step out into the rain to tackle the ascent of Mount NaNoWriMo.

For nearly five years, President Bush had it easy. Anyone who disagreed with him or his policies was shut down, marginalized, accused of being unpatriotic or a kook. The press played along. Hell, most of America played along, because they were angry, because they were scared after 9/11. First Afghanistan, which even I can admit needed a serious enema. But then it was Iraq; and we were lied into war in Iraq. There's no doubt about that anymore, is there?

You see, Bush (and his brain, Karl Rove, and the owner of his paltry little soul, Cheney) knew that America still has deep, psychic scars over Vietnam. And he used that to his advantage.

How? What do you mean, MercerMachine? It's simple, really. You see, Americans remember how war protesters back then spit on and reviled American troops coming home from Vietnam, calling them baby killers etc. These boys, average age 19, drafted into war, forced to serve in hell, then coming home and being treated like pariahs. Bush et al know this (though not one of them has seen actual combat) and they know that most of America feels a deep sense of shame over how we treated our returning soldiers then. They knew that America would hesitate again and yet again before questionig whether the war in Iraq was just, because to question the war is to undermine the soldiers. And in general, Americans would rather gnaw off their own arms than repeat that mistake.

So BushCo had it pretty good for a pretty long time, considering just how wrong they were over the weapons of mass destruction, the direct links to Al Qaida that didn't exist and never had, etcectera ad nauseum.

But like many a greek tragedy, things look fine until everything falls apart pretty much all at once. Hell, there was even the classic deus ex machina of Huricane Katrina that exposed the incompetence of Bush's cronyist tendencies in regards to FEMA director Brown. Too bad a city had to drown before such glaring incompetencies were uncovered, but tragedies aren't fun.

Now city councils are passing resolutions to bring the soldiers home, protests are springing up simultaneously in over sixty cities, Bush's Republican base is fracturing underneath him, a senior White House staffer is under multiple felony indictments and another is still being investigated, the oppostion Democratic party is finally showing some spine and demanding answers, and even the media is finally, finally turning its attention to the glaring faults, inconistencies and outright lies of the administration.

Bush is a pat tragic hero. By hero I mean of course a protagonist in this play; there's nothing heroic about a man who sends others off to die after avoiding combat himself, there's nothing heroic about a man who has not attended a single funeral for any of the soldiers killed in Iraq. No, I mean hero only in a literary sense. And like most tragic heroes, the seeds of Bush's downfall were carried by Bush the entire time. He was a man utterly unfit to lead the country, and so of course the gods with their cruel sense of humor sent him one of the most trying events of America's history: 9/11.

Because he was intellectually and morally incapable of handling such an event, people like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove stepped in to make the decisions. These, it must be said, are not nice folks. Because Bush valued personal loyalty above any other consideration, he's filled his administration with crooks, liars and incompetents, and guess what? They stole, they lied and they failed miserably at ther jobs.

And because Bush has too much hubris to ever admit he was wrong--about anything--this tragedy is not over yet. We're just moving into act 3, where things get really dark as the 'protagonist' squirms and struggles ever more violently to escape his doom.

It's just sad that the gods don't particularly care who gets hurt in the process of punishing the main character's overweening pride.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

shitshitshit (NaNoWriMo) shitshitshit

...What's today? The third? How many words have I written? I'll tell you: none zip zilch zero goose egg nada. Why? I dunno. I stare at the screen and pfft, nothin'. grrrrrr. Tomorrow i am going to sit at coffee bean all damn day long and write, even if it's crapola makes no sense whatsoever is barely English. But tonight, I'm gonna stand under the shower until i'm all pruney or some idea for a plot (that I actually like) finally drips into my head. Or until the hot water runs out.

shitshitshit.

The Adventures of Ninja Joe (at the 7-11)


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Body paint Cheong-sam Spectacular"


okay, this is pretty cool. now i have to get back to writing my NaNoWriMo novel, dammit.