Official

It is now official.

There will be a 6-part interactive short story collection coming to Tapas soon, as a prelude to usher in the second volume of my life. No doubt, they will announce it soon, but I am leaking the information here and now, in an effort to gain more suggestions for subject matter. My life is quite long and boring, please to furnish me with prompts or O shall be as much the wanderer as I have always been.

You may ask me general questions of my thoughts on given topics, ask where I was when certain events happened, ask me what O dos during periods of time, or what experiences I have had surrounding certain foods. You are far more creative than I.

Your help, in the form of direction, is greatly appreciated.

Each short will be a trifle longer than the average chapter, and each will have a recipe.

Apple Care

“Hello, I seem to have dropped my phone in something-”

“Water.”

“No.”

“Oh! Ok! What? Fire? Sand?”

“Um…no.”

“What then? Chemicals are a different type of damage, sir.”

“Blood.”

“…”

“I dropped it in blood.”

“How much blood?”

“…A lot.”

“…”

“Approximately 11 pints…of blood.”

“Ok, I’m going to refer you to our AppleCare website for water damage-”

“Blood is approximately 6 percent greater density than water.”

“Uhh….have you gotten all the…blood off the phone?”

“Yes, with a thorough alcohol swabbing.”

“And you turned it off right away and removed the SIM?”

“Yes. And I swung it around in a sock.”

“Ooooookay.”

“Centrifugal force. To centrifuge the blood out of the device.”

“Uh right, ok, great! Have you seen the information on placing it in rice?”

“The blood?”

“No sir, the phone.”

“Ah, no.”

“Well, it won’t work as well as plain air. Set the phone on top of a fan, or about two feet from a hairdryer. Have you backed up the device recently?”

“Yes.”

“Great! Then you’re okay. You shouldn’t lose any data.”

“There are worse things to lose.”

“Like blood! Haha!”

“Indeed.”

“Do you mind if I ask how you dropped it into blood?”

“Are these calls recorded?”

“Yes.”

“Then yes I do.”

In case you wonder, my phone is fine. It was stuck in “headphone mode”, but the hair drier did the trick. 

A New Project

My publisher has asked me, in between publications of the volumes of my diary, if I would be interested in compiling a series of stories about incidents from my past. It seemed silly to me, as I do not believe such things are relevant to my experiment. When I registered this concern, however, they replied with an interesting concept: they desire that this new project be interactive, that the audience should be allowed to address these events in their comments, and make requests as to what should be discussed in the next installment.
This intrigues me for many reasons, all of them anthropological. May I make an enquiry of you, my gentle readers?
Does this project interest you? If so, what would you most wish to read in the first installment? Please be aware that I can only write what I have experienced, and thusly, if you ask for my “experience of the war” you will find that I did not participate in the war effort, and my experience was mostly via media. You may ask more general questions, or even ask about recipes. It matters not.

The Dark

In the dark, I often sit. I am not Poe; I do not do this to fulfill some ridiculous idiom of moody sullenness. No, the dark is not dark to me. It is alive and glowing. It falls in shades of gray and gloom, but moves and twitches like a butterfly. It dances in the wind, it sings like the sunset. It is every inch as stunning as the day.

But only to me and mine.

Human sight is myopic, and this is no mere metaphor. You see so very little of your world, and to you that must needs be all there is. Rarely do you give a thought that the universe or the immutable changeable infinitudes of time have anything else to offer. It is not known, and therefore it does not exist.

As I stare into the dark, I feel very very old. Ancient. But what am I saying? What does that mean to you?

It is with regret and something akin to sadness that I look upon my most fervent readers and realize how very young they are. Too young. Young enough to not fully grasp the sting of mortality. You know that death is death, but you stare at it from far away, and cannot fully see it, and so, nay…tis not so. It will not happen.

I bear you no ill will. Your time will come, soon enough that I need not hurry it, and when it does, I will still be here. I will be here, staring into the dark, watching the night things come to life, their eyes seeing as mine do, their nights vivid and churning.

I will be here. Again and again. Over and over. Me.

And to what end? What purpose is there in this? I hear the words of my friends in my thoughts — Porter with his “What else will we do?” Rebecca with her “But you can!” and yet, here I am, and when they are silent…

It will echo in my head. It will play in this dark like a phonograph.

In my time, I cannot count how many I have watched come and go, but there they are, and endless chain of them, and not a one remembered. When I stare into the dark and let my thoughts wander, I see them. This moment, a skein of long hair washed in a pond, the soft hum of a song as she dips her ankles in. She does not see me, and I find her captivating. She goes about her task, and I mine, and now she is a rotting corpse, and here am I, still staring into the moonlight. He drags his horse by the halter, hitting it with a switch he’s but just cut from a tree. He snarls at it, as it snorts and struggles with its swayed back. It is not long for this world, and yet, he carries on, unabashed. I grit my teeth as he wanders by, and wonder what hellish family he returns to. It matters not. They are all dead. That child there, she plays with her wooden dove. She wears a bonnet two sizes too large. She curtsies a homespun dress with a bit of fine edging her mother stole from the rubbish. She drinks dirty water from a bucket and dips her face into it. I worry after her skinny arms. It does not matter, for she too is gone. No one ever learned her name. Not even me.

Much has been asked of me. Many have wondered about my extremes. “What is the worst thing you have seen? What is the worst you have done?” You are all so intent to wallow in muck, because you do not know how truly terrible it can be. I will tell you, if you like, but do not think to come to me when it happens, and you realize the full weight of what I have been saying all along.

The worst I have ever seen. The worst I have ever done. That is simple. I have forgotten.

Humans mourn the names they know. They cannot do anything else. If they mourned all that came before, they would waste away in the oppressive misery of it. But here I am, staring into the dark, singing their requiem with no voice, no words. It is a chain of faces without context, without lineage. To you, these people, these unknown multitudes are but the piles of dirt you must clamor over to catch the next Pokemon. To me they are real. To me, they are still alive, and yet, I know they are not.

When food is scarce, time pitches violently, and my footing slips. I stagger in it, and find that I am not always aware of the era. You find it humorous when I talk of shoveling coal into a burner, or nibbing quills, or stamping paving stones. You find it endearing when I talk of the mundanity that has come and gone, but to me those were the routines and habits of an age that is dead but still living in my breast, it is the conditioning of old. When I am hungry, it returns to me, and I awake with a corpse and a set of fully wound pocket watches, a heart in my jaw to the light of dimmed kerosene lamps, a head in a pot beside a fully kneaded loaf of bread I do not remember having lain by.

These are chains. This is purgatory. I am imprisoned in this repetition.

What is it like to be old? It is very like being young, save that one is maliciously afflicted with perspective. Like leprosy, it chips at you, until you can no longer rush into the fray with a grim smile and a cry of “havoc”. Pieces fall away, as you look around in a daze and wonder why everything has changed when you have not.

You are entertained when I grasp at slang, clutch at memes, wonder aloud at the truly strange and disorienting splendor of the ever-changing flood of information that washes over me every single day. You stare at your screen and chuckle that I should be dazzled by you. It fills you with a sense of importance.

And here I sit, staring into the dark, learning your face as I have every other, inscribing your unutterable name on that list that no one shall ever read.

Here I am. And the dark is alive.

Apologies

If you just received approximately 100 emails from me, my most humble apologies. I deeply regretted doing it, but had no other choice. For many days now I have needed to do basic maintenance – for reasons that I cannot really discuss because they annoy the ever-loving…

Excuse me.

Once I undertook the process, I realized that it was entirely impossible to avoid sending each and every followers an alert email with every single fix. This is regrettable, but is not something over which I have control. It would be lovely if it were possible to merely tick a box that says “Do not harass my readers with emails”, but while there are boxes to do with sharing on social media, there are none to do with email, that I know of.

Please do forgive me, and I hope it has not put anyone off the site. Please simply disregard all the other emails, as they contain absolutely no new or important information.

Potato, Leek, and “Ham” Soup

This is a favorite for dark and stormy nights, but I find that it can also be served cold or lukewarm, especially if run through a blender. As is always true of my recipes, the protein must be substituted. I have used thinly sliced muscle deep to the spine that I braised in wine, but I will give instructions for pork. This makes a large pot, so do expect to feed a group.


Tools:

  • Large soup pot
  • Frying pan
  • Good chef’s knife

Ingredients:

  • 3 good sized leeks
  • 4 good sized potatoes, that will fit in an open hand with spread fingers
  • green onions
  • garlic
  • fresh parsley
  • chives
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • butter
  • milk
  • heavy cream
  • white wine (You may drink some as you cook, as you will only need about 2 cups worth)
  • Vegetable stock (You may use a stock concentrate, cubed or jellied, or you may use a liquid stock. The only important thing is to gain about 8 cups of yield, or about 2000 ml)
  • bacon
  • 1 pork loin steak (A pork chop will also do, but trim off all the fat and gristle)
  • green beans and peas (Optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Crème fraîche (or sour cream)

Instructions:

  1. Chop the leeks by simply slicing across them and separating the rings. Chop the yellow and green onion. Mince the garlic.
  2. Cube the potatoes (and prepare your beans and peas) but set them aside
  3. Put a few tablespoons of butter in the bottom of your soup pot. When melted add in the three types of onion and the garlic. Sweat these in the pot for several minutes. You can estimate the doneness by the yellow onion and how translucent it becomes.
  4. Pour in the stock and wine and let come to the boil
  5. Add in the potatoes (beans and peas)
  6. While the soup simmers happily, put a little butter in your pan and fry your bacon, then remove to let cool. Add the pork steak to the pan and cook until medium rare (don’t worry, it will continue to cook in the soup). Set this aside to rest.
  7. While the meat is resting, deglaze the pan with a little bit of wine, working it around the pan to free up all the tasty pork bits. Let it boil off all the alcohol (You can check this by sniffing the fumes). Then pour this into the soup. (This will also aid you in cleaning your pan, and should really be done any time you cook meat. It not only loosens all fat deposits, it also gives you a delicious base for gravy.)
  8. After the pork has rested, slice it thinly and then chop. Chop the bacon too. Add the meat and all its juices to the soup pot.
  9. When the potatoes have finished cooking, add in a couple cups of milk and some cream (To taste). Keep the heat low, or the proteins will muck up and give you a skin on top. A little salt and pepper should do. It should now begin to taste like soup, but do continue to cook for as long as you like, stirring regularly. The longer it cooks, the more it will reduce, and the softer the veggies will get.
  10. While it is cooking, mince up your parsley and chives.

To serve, put in a bowl, spoon in some crème fraîche , and garnish with chives and parsley. (My chives suffered in the sun this year, and I ran out, and so you will see from my photo, that I have instead substituted green onion). Add a freshly baked loaf of bread and a tangy white wine, and you cannot go wrong.

 

Reflections

Here it is, or rather, here I am, in all my “glory”. In the late seventies I took one single polaroid photo, and kept it in my box. To avoid the meta data and photo recognition software (as well as other problems associated with displaying my image on the internet), I sent the photograph to an artist somewhere in Europe. He took some liberties, in an effort to make it more “artistic”, but I think the finished product is rather good. I do worry that it has not captured the eyes quite right, but then again, artists seldom do manage the distant stare of a malign intellect.

And before you scoff at me, I am malignant. If you knew how many times a day I peel the skin off of passers-by with my thoughts, you would never wish to come face-to-face with me, I assure you. Unless, of course, you fancy looking like an anatomical model of yourself.

Simonportrait.jpg

If you find me unsettling…good. It is as it should be. If not…see how easily you are fooled? The image will remain up for some time. I may at some point lock it. If I do, I will put the password somewhere or other, and you may hunt around for it. I apologize, but this may become necessary.