29 December 2010

Budak does it again

What's lyrical, funny, wise, witty, gorgeous, so passionate that it is deadpan, fearlessly punning, poetic even when it's prose (and I mean understandably poetic, not modernly poetic) and still my favourite place on the web? Yet again, it's The annotated budak.

I would love to see the deliciously playful, ever surprising fascinatingly illustrated Annotated Budak as at least one book. If my wish came true, millions of people would curl up with budak.

The topics are wide-ranging, and the words you meet are something else – as you could expect from a person who is often muddy.

Try some grot.

Begin with Feeding Frenzy if you haven't tasted anything there..

Here are some random quotes:

"… he seems to have since imbibed a secret diet of wildlife documentaries …"

"...it would appear the male was seeking to maximise his impact with minimal effort by showing the ardour of only his better side."
- Eve of magnificance

"Not one to decline offers of free food and beverages, my duck thought it a shame to pass up a lunchtime treat of stir-fried mopane worms with snow peas."
It might have been better buttered

"Isn't it time to put to bed the irate vanity that every sperm is sacred and every spill is waste?"
Cut and paste

22 December 2010

The waitress

Rosie loved to work. As soon as she saw anyone pick up a piece of paper or something to scribble with, she'd be right there at knee, ready to pick up and relay a message. No I've-got-better-things-to-do, rolling eyes or tapping foot, though the tail did bang. She'd wait, watching, no matter how long, anticipation being the spice in her life—a spice we, with our crude gulping tastes, not only don't appreciate, but revile–and neatly drop the note in the lap of intended, even if she had to jump up to the lap to deliver. Or if the intended were especially dull and unobservant, shove that note, preceded by a cold wet nose, into a hand.

This is an old pre-menu I've saved. It was made just for extra work, to give her the job of carrying a full menu later. She would have also liked a wine list, at least.

The tip, to her, was the joy of giving.

21 December 2010

If you read anything about how to write

Read Kuzhali Manickavel's LOLOLO from a place that doesn't have a Taco Bell.

I would quote some of it here, except for fact that I want to quote this, and that, and it adds up to all of it.

And now I'll state in public what I said to her in private, and add some more boot.

Why are you reading anything on how to write?

Why are you hanging around with people who have no taste or judgment that is worth a dead donkey, let alone taking to heart what they say about what you have to say?

You have found the Key: that, as you say, dammit, I must quote you: "I think the older and more cynical you get, the more you start to lean towards the LOLOLOLO perspective, especially when rape references are thrown in like chocolate sprinkles."

So use that key. Either ignore the chocolate sprinkle scatterers, or grind them to make your bread. But upon your unique soul! don't pay heed to their advice unless you use it for grist.

You are not a sausage manufactured in Iowa or New York. Hoo bloody ray. When you write, it is not because you "want to be a writer" but because you have something to say. You are not a pose, not posing in a stance of irony to cover your lack of talent/something worth saying. Pretend that you live in a time when all this teaching and advising and workshopping about writing, especially amongst people who haven't lived beyond the nursery of learning and advice, is unbelievable.

You don't need any of it. It has held you back. Get away from it. Wash it from your head.

I have a list I'm making of people who have taken a quarter century to recover from literary higher learning. How many years will it take a brilliant writer like you, to recover from advice?

19 December 2010

Centrepieces, centerpieces, and matchmaking

Discussing the kiwano, the delightfully irreverent Lucy who calls herself a displaced dilettante wrote,
"It said somewhere that it could be used as a centrepiece. The whole idea of centrepieces has always puzzled me; there is never room on our table for all the things we want to eat and drink, and the idea of placing a slightly hostile-looking spiky slug-like thing in the middle of the table to charm one's guests seemed very odd. One chap on a website said he brought one home but his girlfriend didn't want anything to do with it because it reminded her of a caterpillar she was frightened of as a child."
A centrepiece by any spelling
Lucy's opinion of this -piece hit me like a bat to a funny bone, bringing up old guilt that I thought safely buried. Maxine was my head of department, and I was the other person in the department of ordering books. Unfortunately, we were within earshot of the counter, and in a huge, chaotic, mostly-used-books store, people were always asking for a book on . . .

I tried not to, but I couldn't help jumping up and leading them straight to their soulmate, whether it was a tome on raising frogs for profit, or Bulgarian umbrella making, circa 1953. Matchmaking was my passion, and as I was the only one who cared, the owner of the store tolerated my lack of enthusiasm for typing orders, and Maxine—well, she was a good sport. She was quite old (probably 40) and such a nice lady, that one day in the Christmas season, I decided to buy her a present.

Racing around town in my short lunch break (a half hour was the most the owner of the store would tolerate, "for the ladies"), I despaired till, passing the farmer's market on the way back, I saw it, and fell in love at first sight. Maxine had told me of how her extended family was flying in for a feast that she'd already begun preparing, weeks earlier. So when I saw the cauliflower, I knew it was just the thing. The c'piece to beat all -pieces—a talking point for her family that they would never forget. I could hardly carry it. The thing must have had the brainpower of a Cray. It could have held the Pentagon's secrets in one flowerette of its left rigoletto.

As it was heavier than a turkey for 17, I had to stop several times on the way back to the bookstore, just to spell my spine. But when I got back, I presented it to her with all the love I felt for this dear, uncomplaining, motherly superior who had been doing my work for months, while I goofed off and sold book after book to happy seekers of the obscure.

The cauliflower sat on the floor until it was time to go home. No counter was big enough. Maxine's bus stop was a couple of blocks away, and I don't know how far she had to walk when she got off, but when we left the store, her walking one way with it in her arms, and me the other way to my bus, I felt so absolutely wonderful. The joy of giving had mixed with my artistic sense and the vicarious enjoyment of creating a table to remember as well as a feast. I think that Christmas I did what I had at others. Bake a cake and toss it to the pigeons on the roof right next to my apartment window.

Yes, I know I know I should have tossed it to the poor (with a tasteful note—something like Better luck with God loving you next year. Share safely) but I didn't know any the-poor as well as I knew those pigeons.

Sometimes, when I must need a bit of recreational guilt, I'll wake at 3 am, thinking about the cauliflower and Maxine. The only way I get rid of the guilt is to remind myself that, although Maxine was a gracious recipient, she wasn't worth a guilty thought. After all, she and her husband were swingers. Not only that, but she had told me many times, during our eight and a half minutes of afternoon break, of those orgiastic evenings that she and her husband used to spend, square dancing.

Now that I am older and wiser, Lucy's thoughts about the superfluosity of centrepieces spurred me to reprint her words above because they could prevent much suffering. However, there is a place for everything.

When the Centrepiece Does Good

When the food is simply torture
and the people at table equal to the food,
there is always

A cauliflower-free centerpiece
Is that a fountain spraying forth in the middle?

The caption reads:
Table Decorations for State or Formal Occasions.
When dinners are given in honor of a distinguished guest, or by a select society or organization, elaborate decorations for table and room are prepared … From the ceiling hangs the monogram of the guest or the organization giving the dinner.
from The Standard Book of Recipes; and Housewife's Guide—profusely illustrated, by Alice A. Johnson, Mrs. Janet McKenzie Hill, Dr. Henry Hartshorne, and other specialists, W.E. Scull, 1901, USA

As for the chap whose "girlfriend didn't want anything to do with [the kiwano] because it reminded her of a caterpillar she was frightened of as a child"– my advice to chap: Get another girlfriend or next thing you know, she'll scream at the sight of spaghetti. If only I'd had a camera when those dozen carpet snakes mated that morning just outside the bathroom window …

13 December 2010

Wodehouse, snails, and dramatic interest

Probably the greatest misconception about today's access to information is:
All today's easily accessed information from trusted sources will increase accuracy.
The opposite is the case. Especially when the mistake comes from a trusted source, the unintentional myth can grow to Fact so quickly that it is quoted everywhere as the basis for other arguments and other facts, going up the food chain as the food for theses—and unlike other adults—doesn't die, but lives on in a perpetuity paradise (like frogs being pot-ready couch-potatoes) as the basis of countless similes waged by bad writers, sloppy reasoners, and cliché collectors everywhere whenever they need to craft "common sense" copy to sell products, boxed, serviced, or electable.

So my eyes protruded when I saw this baby:
The phlegmatic snail
PG Wodehouse thought that snails were rather dull animals “lacking in sustained dramatic interest”. Others admire them.
— Peter Marren, "The weird world of the bug", BBC Wildlife Magazine, 3 September 2010
Let's drop salt on this misconception, but we don't have time to watch it wither. Onwards! to truth, in the Times of India:
The point about today's British general election is we missed it. It barely figured on India's collective radar. If anything, it was like the cow's waning 'audience-appeal' so entertainingly described by P G Wodehouse in his Blandings series on that fluffy-minded, pig-loving peer, Lord Emsworth. " It was a fine cow, as cows go, but, like so many cows, it lacked sustained dramatic interest." That was Wodehouse's The Custody of the Pumpkin, published 1924.
— Rashmee Roshan Lall, "Fine Cows and Englishmen", 6 May 2010
Indeed, in my own mixed marriage (Wodehousian/Heathen) I have often noted (to an audience deeply unappreciative of the knowledge) that Wodehouse was, perhaps more than any other author, dependent on the snail and that other mollusk, the slug—in character—in key scenes of high tension, drama, and romance.

What type of character varied, but it was never bovine. Not that cattle are dull, but the closest Wodehouse got to using one was the story about the cow creamer, which could never have been watched passing, even if one had wanted to. I could let Wodehouse's reputation stew in misconception in regard to snails, in revenge for him not appreciating the passions of cows any more than he did, the infinitely romantic, lonely and plaintive soprano song of a bull cutting through the still air on a starry evening when a cow is in heat across the creek, something he came closest to, but changed to horror in "Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps".

Snails, on the other hand, are often watched in Wodehouse's world. Snails could have populated his nightmares, his reveries, his pensive and lyrical moments. Although he could be faulted for being callous as to their individuality let alone their primacy as snails, he could never have been accused of being Grass, whose Diary of a Snail isn't about snails at all, but a cheap exploitative trick of cover sensationalism, because Snail sells.

Though no Wodehouse cover lures you with a snail, throughout his stories and novels there are many proofs that snails and slugs ruled high in his estimation as page 1 and penultimate Scene material.

Never phlegmatic
They feature in some of his most quoted lines. Here are just a few, with some technical notes concerning their roles.

para 1, sentence 2, "The Custody of the Pumpkin"
"It [the morning sunshine] fell on the baggy trousers-seat of Angus McAllister, head-gardener to the ninth Earl of Emsworth, as he bent with dour Scottish determination to pluck a slug from its reverie beneath the leaf of a lettuce."

Sustained dramatic interest:
"It was one of those still evenings you get in summer, when you can hear a snail clear its throat a mile away."
— the very first story about Jeeves, "Jeeves Takes Charge"1916 (Carry on, Jeeves, 1925)

"Jerry Fisher's face was a study in violent emotions. His eyes seemed to protrude from their sockets like a snail's. He clutched the tablecloth."
that's the entire paragraph.
— "Keeping It From Harold" (1913)

"Ukridge's eyes met mine in a wild surmise. He seemed to shrink into his mackintosh like a snail surprised while eating lettuce."
— "Ukridge's Dog College" (Strand, UK -1923), "Ukridge's Accident Syndicate" (Cosmopolitan, USA - 1923)

"His head emerged cautiously, like a snail taking a look around after a thunderstorm."
— The Code of the Woosters (1938)

Audience appeal: even slugs have it.

"He expelled a deep breath, and for a space stood staring in silence at a passing slug. [then later in the scene] His brow cleared, his eyes brightened, he lost that fishy look, and he gazed at the slug, which was still on the long, long trail with something approaching bonhomie."
— Right Ho, Jeeves (1922)
"Valerie Twistleton had paused to stare at a passing snail – coldly and forbiddingly"
—Uncle Fred in the Springtime (1939)

"She was gazing at me in a divinely pitying sort of way, much as if I had been a snail she had happened accidentally to bring her short French vamp down on, and I longed to tell her that it was all right,and that Bertram, so far from being the victim of despair, had never felt fizzier in his life."
— Right Ho, Jeeves (1922)

"His soul shrank into itself like a salted snail ..."
— Lord Emsworth and Others, Ch 1, "The Crime Wave at Blandings" (1937)

"I knew that England was littered with the shrivelled remains of curates at whom the lady bishopess had looked through her lorgnette. I had seen them wilt like salted slugs at the Episcopal breakfast table."
— "Mulliner's Buck-U-Uppo" 1926 (Meet Mr Mulliner -1927)

Psychological trauma
"His eyes were by nature a trifle prominent; and to Aline, in the overstrung condition in which her talk with George Emerson had left her, they seemed to bulge at her like a snail's."
— Something New

"George, protruding from the window like a snail, was entertained by the spectacle of the pursuit."
— A Damsel in Distress (1919)

Unhealthy Obsession
Even the people he writes about don't consider snails dull. They think of snails, and exercise themselves upon snails and other invertebrates—often to the point of ...
(Freddie to his uncle, Earl of Emsworth)"I know just how you feel about the country and the jolly old birds and trees and chasing the bally slugs off the young geraniums and all that sort of thing, but somehow it's never quite hit me the same way."
-Something New (1915)
"Both McAllister and I adopted a very strong policy with the slugs and plant lice"
—"Pig-hoo-o-o-o-ey!" 1924 (Blandings Castle and Elsewhere - 1935)

"There were three things in the world that he held in the smallest esteem - slugs, poets and caddies with hiccups."
—"Rodney Falls to Qualify" 1924 (The Heart of a Goof - 1926)
High Drama
Hear [Lord Marshmoreton] as he toils. He has a long garden-implement in his hand, and he is sending up the death-rate in slug circles with a devastating rapidity.
" Ta-ra-ra boom-de-ay
Ta-ra-ra BOOM—"
And the boom is a death-knell. As it rings softly out on the
pleasant spring air, another stout slug has made the Great Change.
— ibid.
Highest Romance, at the Point of Pronouncement:
"Love?" said Charlotte, her heart beginning to flutter.
"Love," said Aubrey. "Tell me, Miss Mulliner, have you ever thought of Love?"
He took her hand. Her head was bent, and with the toe of her dainty shoe she toyed with a passing snail.
— "Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court" (originally collected in Mr. Mulliner Speaking -1925, and subsequently, in A Wodehouse Bestiary-1985)
And that is just a smattering of mollusk moments in the works of Wodehouse. I invite you to supply more. I hope I haven't made mistakes here myself. But if I have, please correct me.

A Conundrum of Worms
A worm gets a bit part as a tragic survivor, but worms are otherwise typecast in parts they don't deserve, especially since snails and slugs and aphids die in Wodehouse gardens, for the sake of pumpkins and flowers>

"Jane Packard turned like a stepped-on worm."
"The Heart of a Goof" (Divots -1926)

"that blighted worm Crispin Blakeney" and "I loathe the worm! I abominate the excrescence!"
"Chester Forgets Himself" (Divots - 1926)


Aunt Agatha's names for Bertie Wooster are "young blot" "an idiot nephew" and "a worm"
Not only that, but she both apportions deviosity to worms and—more shockingly, a lack of political bravery, possibly even an element of Quislingism—to flexible invertebrates, as illustrated by this line in a telegram to Bertie:
"Consider you treacherous worm and contemptible, spineless cowardly custard"
— Right Ho, Jeeves
The lack of respect for invertebrates continues, and it runs in the family.
"[Bertie] spoke with a sort of dull despair, and so manifest was his lack of ginger and the spirit that wins to success that for an instant, I confess, I felt a bit stymied. It seemed hopeless to go on trying to steam up such a human jellyfish."
— ibid.

In this next story, the author insults both worms and lawn-bowling readers who do know not a niblick from a niblet, in "The Awakening of Rollo Podmarsh" when he says:
"These subtitles are wasted on a worm, if you will pardon the expression, like yourself, who, possibly owing to a defective education, is content to spend life's springtime rolling wooden balls across a lawn."
Butterflies, however, are only lightly ticked off.
"Butterflies loafed languidly in the sunshine"
— "Chester Forgets Himself"

But passing back to snails

I challenge Mr. Marren here and now to tell us when and where Mr. Wodehouse said that he thought snails dull. I think that Mr. Marren has confused a cow with a snail, and if so, I would invite him to place himself under the foot of each, have each ramble upon his spine—and report the difference in sensation.

But, since I am not a writer writing in a Trusted Source, I might know even less than I think I know, and thus, be spreading another inaccuracy. If so, and if Wodehouse did say somewhere that snails are dull, lack audience appeal and the rest of that, may I be damned, but not as much as Mr. Wodehouse, who disappoints me so much that I hope he rots in the hell where authors suffer who have disappointed their readership with details of their private thoughts (which should never have been revealed). What an ingrate! If he really said that snails are dull, then he's like those authors who would be nothing without their editors but consider themselves geniuses. For Wodehouse without snails is like Chandler minus dames.

One can only surmise what an author really thinks

(or rather, one used to only be able to surmise. Nowadays authors tell us so much of what they think, that their stories and novels have waning audience appeal, but Wodehouse died before this trend) so I'm guessing here, but willing to bet that Wodehouse was forced to write about worms in a new respectful tone after a nightmare he had in which a worm possesses the cunning of Professor Moriarty. In "High Stakes", golfers are challenged by worm-casts.

a final note: Although I have raised eyebrows over Peter Marren's bit of Wodehouse/Snails "What he thought" celeb snippet, snails, bugs, and other invertebrates would highly approve his article in general. He isn't bored by them, nor does he think we should be. So do read "The weird world of the bug". It's fun. That he mixes up bugs with snails and others is something that they might take up with him privately.

09 December 2010

infinity plus lives again!

The infinity plus ebook imprint has just launched, with six new titles:
  • The Angels of Life and Death by Eric Brown, a new collection of short fiction
  • The collected short fiction of Keith Brooke, in five volumes (Liberty Spin, Embrace, Faking It, Segue and Memesis), with two original stories and specially written afterwords for each story
  • Covers for the first six books - by Dominic Harman and Debbie Nicholson
Each book is available in the Kindle ebook format, priced $3.44 / £2.18
(Kindle ebooks can also be read on PCs, Macs, smart phones and other devices)

Many. Look for more titles, formats, and authors to come . . .

But what is infinity plus ?
  • a science fiction, fantasy and horror showcase that ran from 1997 to 2007 and remains online as an archive
  • The site holds more than 2.1 million words of fiction, 1000 book reviews and 100 interviews.
  • There have been three infinity plus print anthologies.
  • Authors featured on the site include Stephen Baxter, Mary Gentle, Peter F Hamilton, Gwyneth Jones, Vonda N McIntyre, Michael Moorcock, Kim Stanley Robinson, Lucius Shepard, Michael Swanwick, Jack Vance, Connie Willis and Gene Wolfe (me too).

02 December 2010

The icky-icky, squishy-slimey, flying kung-fu circus

At no other circus will the ringleader announce: "A snail would be stiff competition."

Wanderin' Weeta runs a dangerous blog that could be called "Charybdis". See, for instance, Yes, I talk to birds.

So it's only to be expected that, as host this month of my favourite circus, she has collected sundry incredible acts of weirdness, beauty and fun, including a hopping entomologist.

And the supporting acts she's dragged in could bring yet more tears to your eyes.
A poet who misses the finest things in life!
Deprived royalty!
And Art? KO'd by the squishy-slimies.

Go to the Circus! And be, as she says:

Happier than Kings, at the Circus of the Spineless #57

01 December 2010

At the Crane Flies' Thanksgiving Congress

"And now let us give thanks to our Creator,
blessed be Gary Larson's name."

The thinking person's tonic

Private communication is precious, and like books with pages you can smell and leave fingerprints on, not as much appreciated for its worth as it should be. The most important quality of private communication is the light. Honesty between two people lights lives more than any public communication can. Of course, without confidentiality there can be no honesty. In the past year especially, I've been struck by the number of people who have told me privately, how unhappy they are.

One said to me,
"I keep looking at the [X.... X....es] & the [Y.... Y.....s], in their million-dollar homes, & I despair."
Now, that lightened my life. One person less to communicate with. I have no sympathy for this wasted sensibility, not to mention brain cell activity.

But these words below, from someone else entirely, stunned me because they came from someone I'll call ∞, who I admire probably more than anyone else—and who I, in my ignorance and thoughtlessness, never imagined as unhappy. is living proof that wisdom and age have no relationship. reminds me of another brilliant mind and great heart I admire greatly. They live in old ambassador, a real ambassador who I thought for several days when I saw him shuffling down the halls, shoulders bowed, head down, was a janitor with a bad back. That was before he got up and spoke. He could have possibly written the letter from , but he didn't. could be his grandson.

I'm printing part of it here, regarding the confidentiality of as sacred. And I'm printing my reply, revealing more personal stuff than I feel comfortable with—in the hopes that our private communication will help someone else. Not someone who wants to be famous or rich. They're human pollution. No, this is for the someones who are more likely to be envious of someone else's experiences exploring the mind and world, for the someones who try to be able to think more clearly. The someones who are unhappy because their own strivings to learn, to communicate, fall so short of their ideals. The someones who are barraged constantly with the "goal" that we're all supposed to have: Happiness—and thereby, lose confidence because they aren't striving for that at all.
"I feel as though I should explain fully why I've barely picked up a pen until recently. Only since this summer have I become interested in writing again - I spent much of 2008-2009 in a longish period of melancholia and self-doubt during which I lost nearly all interest and confidence in myself as a writer."
Dear ,
I must reply immediately to what you say about melancholia, and your feelings of self-doubt. I wish you'd let me know about this, for I had no idea. Indeed, if I think of a single person who I have found most inspirational, it is you. You're both incredibly thoughtful, intelligent, and talented. And you have continuously surprised me by your lack of egomaniacal and I-want-to-be-famous thoughts, especially when contrasted with your altruism and the extreme talents and capabilities you possess. You struck me from the first time I saw your writing on that bulletin board, as an exceptional human being. Part of the unwanted innards that comes with that exceptionalism is, unfortunately, self-doubt even unto self-hating, melancholy (I'm so glad you didn't call it 'depression', the mislabeling that really means in our business-oriented world: prescribe and medicate). I have been almost wanting to write about this sort of thing in public, but haven't for a number of reasons. But the fact is, there is a huge pressure put upon everyone in 'modern' society, to be 'happy'. Indeed, happiness is touted as the goal of life. Studies show that religious people are happiest. Of course they are! Not questioning anything, swallowing dogma, and being told that you are right and all you have to do is follow, is great for making someone free of doubt, especially if doubt is decreed as bad. This kind of people keep doubt-free by going out and shoving dogma down other people's throats, kind of like the way Ponzi-schemes work, or chain letters. Don't ever stop. Don't ever get out of it, and everything'll be sweet. It's soma under a different name.

But the fact that you picked science--questioning, thinking, not accepting any dogma. The fact that you are deeply interested in the world at large, in all its conflicting reality and confusing manifestations of conundrums. These facts don't add up to you being a happy, dull, boring and useless, or--as many religious people are, downright destructive--person.

You are creative and questioning in your bones. You deeply feel. You have an ability and wish to get in other people's shoes, even when they hurt. You want to contribute something of yourself that is useful, not only to the world theoretically, but to people in real flesh. These abilities and characteristics and ways of life that add up to YOU are not going to give you a happy life, but they could give you a very fulfilling life. You will always, if you stay true to who you are, have times that come upon you that are black as the pit below deepest Pitsville. You won't think that there is any way out, but there is, and you will find yourself out of there again, and somehow invigorated and creative again. Sometimes you need to find that others think of you quite differently than you view yourself. Even when you want to hide away, you are being thought of, though you probably don't know it.

We live in an extremely tough time for a person who really thinks, who isn't just just a reactor. You are way too intelligent and creative and thoughtful to find the public sphere electronically speaking, supportive and helpful to you as a person. You could find that it makes you feel insecure, that it makes you feel like a failure. That you think you are irrelevant. That is because the public sphere of talk is peopled by extroverts who find thoughtfulness a detraction. They couldn't think if they wanted to, most of them. And the ones that do, don't. So if this has anything to do with your feelings, I hope this gives some perspective.

As to [the venue you submitted a manuscript to {well argued, witty, unique, and formatted to perfection of course--I know because I read it]}, after their invitation to you personally to submit, to which they never replied], damn. One of the worst aspects of life today is the casual rudeness. You put a lot of thought and viscera into something, only to be discounted, not even considered. Just not communicated with at all, even after initial enthusiasm. This can lead to severe depression. I say this from a great deal of personal experience, as everything else I've said here is, too. The only thing to do is to chalk it up to people who are less than you, and move on.

I hope I can give you some confidence that you surely deserve. You weren't specific with anything and I'm not asking you to be, as I don't want to pry. But I can tell you that I have suffered from what you are talking about, for longer than you've been alive. I go up and down with it, yet I would rather be this way than be a happy ignorant bible basher or some idiot that believes John Boehner when he says, "America has the best health care in the world". I'd rather have angst. … Remember always that melancholia is a thinking person's tonic. It tastes bad, but it works.