The Curious Case of the Bus that disappeared up its own jacksey

Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have information concerning the whereabouts of one 25 bus to come forward immediately. The lost public transport vehicle, which routinely departs its terminus at Lucan Dodsboro in the direction of Merrion Square, and its driver, a Geansaí Fitznun (35) of no fixed abode, have been missing since Thursday afternoon. When the commuter service failed to appear as scheduled at 13:20, the alarm was raised approximately 40 minutes later by a flabbergasted citizen – one Sebastien Claire (39) of Elve Larrakon, Strawberry Beds, Dublin 50.

Mr Claire was subsequently quoted as saying, “I just wanted to drop me docket into the Social Welfare – as ya do, like- and figured it’d take maybe an hour an’ a half, two hours tops. I mean, the office is only in Clondalkin, but to get there I’ve to get one bus into Liffey Valley, walk for about fifteen minutes to another stop, wait for maybe thirty-to-forty more minutes, then get another bus to the Dole Centre.

It’s fucking bullshit, frankly – but at least the cocking bus usually shows up eventually!”

Police say that they have no leads at this early stage, but speculation is rife about the location of the mislaid vehicle with wild conjecture theorising anything from simple larceny on the part of Mr Fitznun to transdimensional rifts consuming whole buses without warning. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the incident may be connected to the Luas which stood paralysed at James’ Hospital for almost 20 minutes on Monday morning, and the Ryanair jet which mysteriously remained on the tarmac for the guts of half an hour some evening last week.
The investigation continues.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…db

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On a lighter note; CARRRRRRRRRRRRRS!

Today, I shall be going through my Top 5 Automobiles in Fiction. Just a bit of fun, no particular order, but jaysus I’d love to give any one of ‘em a spin one day. First up…

Ecto 1

What a beaut. Inspired choice for the Ghostbusters films, with a cool siren and array of flashing lights. How could a lil kid like yours truly have any reaction to this sooped-up custom 1959 Cadillac other than, “COOOOOOOOL”? It was also perfect for the films, in that it was the ambulance/hearse style body which in itself implies all sorts of death and post-death ceremony. Reading too much into it? You bet! It definitely had some sort of paranormal aura though, ‘cos allegedly when it was driven around NYC to promote the first film in 1984, it “caused many accidents because other drivers lost control when they spotted the now-famous car.” It’s just soooo entrancing…

Bluesmobile

Technically the original ‘Bluesmobile’ was an unseen Cadillac that Elwood Blues traded for a microphone prior to the events depicted in the film, but since there’s no other name for this vehicle, everybody just runs with it. The real star of the Blues Brothers, which remains my favourite movie ever. That’s no small praise when you consider how much I feckin’ love my films! This 1974 Dodge Monaco with police package was just badass, outrunning cops, hicks & Nazis an’ doing all sorts of impossible stunts to boot. Put more rollers on – there are no more. Jake & Elwood’s trusty steed took them on their mission from God all the way to their destination, and then [SPOILER ALERT] fell apart completely. People say they teared up at the end of Terminator 2, when Arnie descends into the pit of molten metal, but for me the passing of the Bluesmobile will always be more worth a cry.

Bandit Trans Am

Forgive me, because the film this car stars in is not a patch on the previous two. BUT JUST LOOK AT IT! Ahem. This is a Pontiac Firebird, the speedster driven by Burt Reynolds in Smokey & The Bandit. Trucks, a bassett hound, Norma Rae as a bride fleeing a wedding, cop chases, a cracking theme tune… Loadsa fun. One question though; who the hell is ‘Smokey’?

A Bear’s Natural Habitat

Movin’ right along…in Fozzie’s Studebaker from the Muppet Movie. Not gonna lie, I’m a sucker for post-war era cars – tis one of my favourite things about L.A. Noire, getting to drive some of those gorgeous motors. I even quite like the dusty brown look this 1951 Bullet Nose Commander (what a name, by the way) has before the troupe decide to give it a proper hippie going-over & make it a kaleidoscopic celebration of their journey.

Greased Lightning

Technically, there are TWO cars called Greased Lightning, but one of them is clearly imaginary, so I’m going with the one that actually exists in Grease. Oh, you didn’t know? Yeah, the flashy red one that appears in the dance number and flies away carrying Danny & Sandy at the end of the movie is clearly some sort of ideal, a 1948 Ford Deluxe that the T-Birds cannot possibly hope to recreate with Kenickie’s motor. Confusingly, his is also a 1948 Ford Deluxe, only his is a more standard Convertible model. Anyway, this is more evidence of my love for all automobiles produced between about 1945 and 1980 – everything since then has, effectively, been unremarkable in my eyes.

So that’s yer lot. My favourite car ever is actually a Ford Mustang, but since I haven’t yet seen Bullitt I had to respectfully excise it from this list. Same goes for a lovely one James Dean drives in Rebel Without A Cause. Oh well.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Is this navel worthy of such gazing?

Nervous and twitchy, I chew at my own cheeks. When I am like this, it feels like anyone and everyone in my environment is looking at me. Judging me. Laughing at me. Criticizing me.

I can’t speak for other sufferers of anxiety. I can only write about my own life. Maybe my experience is unique… Maybe it is the exact same as everybody else’s. There is no way for me to know – not precisely, anyone. Others’ words may strike a chord, but we can never convey the feelings, not really. Not entirely.

Dread. That’s the word that always comes closest to summing up the trepidation and anticipation. Gotta go to work? Dread. Gotta go to the shops? Dread. Gotta leave the house for any reason? Dread. It doesn’t have to be an external journey that triggers the anxiety – sometimes it can just be any form of obligated activity: Gotta write an article? Dread. Gotta make a phone call? Dread. Gotta do some cleaning/tidying/gardening? Dread.

It’s just a word, though. The frustration of being unable to articulate your own neuroses follows you all the time. The social unacceptability of your illness, your mental weakness, hangs over you and exacerbates the negative feelings. ‘Self-compassion’ is a word, a technique, that is absolutely vital for such times. It’s normal to hate yourself for struggling to do what others seem – ‘seem’ being the operative word here – to have no problem in accomplishing.

How can I describe these anxieties? There is the cannonball in the gut – a regular experience back when I saw romantic relationships as the be-all and end-all of life and was afraid that my own insecurities would be uncovered at any moment, leading to inevitable doom, dooommmmm, DOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!

Ahem. Sorry about that.

There’s the sickness and loss of appetite. Probably one of the reason’s I’ve remained so damned thin over the years. I have never dieted and rarely exercise, plus I love chocolate, and pizza, and beer, and all sorts of things that should make you gain weight…but I suppose when you’re the variety of anxious that tends to eschew food entirely on a regular basis, there should be no surprise when your body shape stagnates.

Flushing & blushing is pretty common. Doesn’t really bother me as much as it did in my teenage years – maybe it was more apparent then. The sensation of blood rushing to my face is, in any case, less of a concern when I feel like I’m gonna yak all over the place and said yak is mostly gonna be acidic bile ‘cos I haven’t been able to eat since god-knows-when. Lovely image, right?

The twitchiness, and the certainty that you’re doing something wrong – whatever it is – is a near-constant. Should I be crossing my legs in this situation? Is my cough irritating the other passengers? Do I look weird, looking at what I’m looking at? Oh sweet mother of dogshit’s origin, I just made eye contact with another human – do I now look like a sex-pest/dickhead/psycho? You get so tied-up and tight, it makes you just want to crawl into the nearest hole. Just to get away from the exposure.

As well as the inside of my mouth, I tend to chow down on my nails too. Not so much the actual cuticles, more the flesh around them. Mostly either side of the nail, if you know what I mean. Between the chomping of my cheek and the nail-skin, I get paranoid about how it looks to other people whenever I catch myself doing it publicly. ‘Now I know I’m coming across like a total nutcase’, I instantly think to myself.

How can you work – in a job, I mean – when you are under this strain? How can you live your life the way everyone else does, when the sort of actions you would be required to perform day-to-day are so completely unbearable? How can you get to a point where regular employment is not something to be feared, but something to be celebrated for the rewards that it might provide?

If I know anything about myself right now, it is this; I cannot work in a normal job – ‘normal’ here being defined as anything over a couple of hours employment per week – and I cannot envisage that changing in the near future. Therefore, my life is precarious, with very little in the way of safeguards or opportunities for growth – in the sense of saving, anyway.

To some of you, maybe even most of you, I am a bum. Believe me when I say; I wish this were not so.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Get out your tiny violins

It is we who are the damned. We who have to live with the shame. We who must struggle day and night – especially at night – with the memories of how we saw all this coming…and did nothing. We did nothing to stop it.

A billion people on a dollar a day? Nothing. Two billion on less than twenty bucks per day? Nothing. The last drops of oil, the last sheets of ice, the last trees of rainforest? Nothing. We cannot claim ignorance. We knew about everything. We had the information superhighway and citizen journalists. We had satellite phones and 3G connections. We were the most developed, most knowledgeable, most equipped generation the world had ever known. All we had to do, was share.

Eighty-five people with the combined wealth of the poorest three-and-a-half billion. Half of the entire globe’s wealth owned by just one percent of its population. Nine out of every ten people the world over becoming poorer, year on year…while the few at the top get richer and richer and richer. Inequality without end, amen.

Except that it does end. We knew it would. We watched our HD televisions and drove our fancy cars and it’s not like we were stupid, for heaven’s sake; we just didn’t care. ‘People lived on cents-per-day and some even died in order for me to have this iPhone? Pah, fuck ‘em. Sure what else are they gonna do for a living?’ Five million people died in the Congo in a fight over who gets to mine the precious Coltan – a mineral used in ninety-five percent of all electronic devices. Martyrs for a consumerist age.

In the end, with a humorous slant, it is the drying up of our most abundant liquid that does for us. You would think that the Earth being about seventy-one percent water would be enough, right? Wrong. Peak water comes…and goes. None of us pay the slightest bit of notice. Not at first, anyway. Not until our own crops begin to fail at a rate that impacts on our beloved bran cereals, and those among our own privileged class begin to die drinking water sourced from a contaminated aquifer. Not until the water wars in West Africa, India and Peru begin to deprive us of our basic needs i.e. coffee, marijuana, cashew nuts.

We live the same lives that they did, now. Lives of scarcity, precariousness and desperation. The difference is that we are alive, and they are dead. We always survive, you see. We always last the distance. Why?

Because we are parasites.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters… 

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Think it through

“…and that, my brothers, my sisters, my comrades, that is why we must rise up, take the reigns of our destiny, and lead eachother into the bright new future of freedom and independence!”

The assembled jumble of shopkeepers, street-sweepers, binmen and binwomen, sex workers and pole-dancers erupted into a cacophony of cheers. The approving roar took a full minute to die down…but once it had, a clipped voice could be heard.

“Excuse me… Ladies and gentlemen, this is all very…um…inspiring, I’ll grant you. However, we really must consider the grave consequences. I know, I know, all this…em…liberty, and justice, and…well…equality…it all sounds very nice, I don’t doubt. Nobody is quibbling with that.”

The crowd mumbled its assent.

“Nonetheless, we have to ask some hard questions. It would be remiss of us, would it not?”

Almost nobody present knew what ‘remiss’ meant – not that it really mattered, as a fair few could spot ‘counter-revolutionary bullshit’ when they heard it.

“After all…if we depose of these, criminals, as you call them…”

A low growl emanated from the throng.

“…who will pay for everything? This welfare state you all seem to be in favour of – apologies – we are all in favour of… Surely it only stands with the goodwill of the international bankers and economic leaders? It stands to reason, indeed, that once those lenders and creditors see the faces of our nouveau regime they will be most perturbed.”

A few faces of the prospective nouveau regime began to look a little fearful.

“Obviously, I’m not doubting the earnestness and passion of all who believe in a fairer society…but we must keep our feet on the ground. I mean, what about our children? It is our decisions which they will have to live with, for better or…worse.”

As she emphasised the word ‘worse’, the conservative made sure to wave a finger dismissively in the direction of the previous speaker. Many in the horde were wearing anxious looks and pensive expressions now.

“After all, it is not as if we could actually run our own affairs, for heaven’s sake. The very idea! We need these sensible, level-headed figures to show us the way, to run our industries and to defend our borders. What on earth would we do without such men – for they are almost entirely men – and without their expertise? Surely these individuals, whose wealth and influence is an abundant indication of the validity of their wisdom, are the foundation of our state. I tell you, if we run them out of town, and as a result scare off their international equivalents… Well…”

A strangled scream arose from someone. Tears were on the verge of being shed. One man, who mere moments before had been punching the air and bellowing ‘Omnia Communia Sunt’ as loudly as he could, now began to whimper. She’s right, oh dear God, she’s right.

“We all want was is best for everyone, of course we all do…but we have to take the sound, risk-free course of action…”

Sullen heads nodded in acquiescence.

“So let’s have no more talk of revolution and what-have-you. Things might be bad now, but we’re all in this together, let’s stick together, because it’s better together!”

A muted chorus of ‘Yeah alright’, ‘Spose so’, ‘Makes sense’, ‘Fair enough’ and ‘Hey-ho’ greeted this final rhetorical flourish, and the various downtrodden citizens dispersed in a sombre fashion.

The original speaker, aghast but not exactly surprised by this turn of events, shook his head in bewildered wonder; How on earth did anything in the past get changed for the better?

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Nonsense. Just nonsense.

Can’t go through the mail like that – the whole shamong would be torn to shreds. Plants in the post… Well, it was the only way I figured that Kate would get it before I died. These flimsy flowers and the dainty little stalks, along with a bunch of other vegetation, were my way of saying goodbye. Hope she appreciates it… Hope it gets to her in one piece, more to the point.

Maybe I could wrap some string around it first? Sorta bundle it up before shoving it in a parcel and dropping it off? Might as well give it a shot, I’d a shitload of string and no other need for it once I’d shuffled off the mortal coil. Thing is, the bloody mush wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to actually get the job done. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, about an ostensibly inanimate object to boot, but that’s what it seemed like.

The sense of foreboding and dread…I can’t describe it. Along with the anxiety aroused by my inability to properly package my parting gift, these feelings were getting the better of me. It was a good thing I was already suicidal, otherwise this experience would be driving me totally over the edge. Still, could be worse. It coulda been Monday.

Solidarity (and apologies), brothers & sisters…

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On the lookout for an old high

“We got another one.”

Detective Beck sighed. Of course there was another one. There was always another one. This thing was out of control, and all her knucklehead colleagues could think of was the extra overtime.

“On it, Chief.”

Her garrulous commanding officer gave a hearty chuckle and waved a finger in mock chastisement.

“Careful now, Dots! Don’t go in all-guns blazing – remember the last time ya charged in half-cocked; cost the City a friggin’ fortune and almost cost me my ass!”

Dorothy Beck bit her tongue. She remembered that op alright – she’d been the one trying to prevent her trigger-happy responders from shooting the place up. That the attempt was made, albeit in vain, seemed to have been forgotten by all involved. Blame the fuckin’ woman, right boys? She quickly shook the thought out of her head. It wasn’t the first time, and sure as hell wouldn’t be the last, that the dark suspicion arose in her mind; she was the department scapegoat.

“It’s just a Caffeiteria boss. Wired, juiced-up, energetic tweakers so jumpy and paranoid that even a knock on the door could set ‘em off. What could possibly go wrong?”

‘Dots’ braced herself for the inevitable, unoriginal mantra…

“Like I always say; A ‘feind in need is a ‘feind indeed!”

More than a few of the gathering officers groaned at this, to the Chief’s evident chagrin.

“Yeah, yeah… Just get out there and put a stop to all this coffee an’ soda shit – an’ get a fuckin’ sense of humour if there’s time left over, alright? Make the City proud.”

Lock and load. As Beck watched the Divisional rapid response ‘Spearhead’ force pile into their brand new, military-grade APC, she wondered who really benefited from Prohibition: The people, safeguarded from the dangers of Caffeine? The police, with the increase in budget to go after the scourge of speak-easy Caffeiteria? Or the higher-ups, who could compete for popularity based purely on their toughness on the Caff trade?

Sliding into the driver’s seat of her BYD Sun Tzu®, Dorothy sighed. In over a decade since all Caffeine products were banned on the American Continent, what had been achieved? As she pressed the starter button on the dashboard and felt the electric motor whir into life, she couldn’t help wondering…

Maybe people should be allowed to consume whatever they want, even if it means they’re more likely to get Parkinson’s, Type II Diabetes, Hyperglycemia, Ketoneria hepatetic & cardio diseases…? Fuck. Scoffing at her own naivety, Beck decided that she must have been listening to too much of those radical podcasts by that wingnut MC Phil E. Buster. She activated the intercom.

“Let’s get this show on the road, you pricks. Do some good.”

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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