Sunday, March 31, 2013


The resurrection of Christ, do you think it really happened? I went to an Easter event today, and I learned some fascinating information. It was what happened to Christ's apostles after the alleged resurrection.

None of the apostles ran and hid. Before the resurrection, they were in hiding. Peter denied even knowing Jesus. But after, he admitted to Jesus being his teacher and was crucified.

The most interesting apostle was Paul. Before the resurrection, he was known as Saul and worked for the authorities persecuting those that followed Jesus. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds. After the resurrection, he became a believer and changed his name from Saul to Paul.

Paul suffered horribly for his beliefs. He was lashed with a whip, beaten with rods, stoned, ship wrecked and finally beheaded. What could have caused him to convert and maintain his faith despite the hardships?

All of the apostles were executed one way or another, except for John. John's fate was exile to an island, where he wrote several chapters of the bible.

What could have inspired such faith among the apostles?

The Secret of Life:

The secret to life, it turns out, isn't knowing about snuff. It's convincing others to validate you. 
-Sam Snodgrass

When people validate you, they buy your stuff, even though usually they can just copy it for free. And if you get a lot of people validating you, you can make some serious money. So evidently, the real secret to life is a lot of money.

Is there a flaw in my logic? People who are born rich still want validation?

Friday, March 29, 2013

What's Your Night Worth Without a Story?

If you’ve got something that needs saying, tonight I’m paying dues
I’ve got a pocket full of blues and two pennies to rub together
Which means I’m wealthy enough that I can finally afford to pay attention
I’m listening 
— Shane Koyczan, Promise

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shane Koyczan Made Me Cry:

How good is Shane Koyczan's poetry? If you're not familiar with Koyczan's work, you're going to want to put some time aside, have some tissues nearby, and be ready for a lot of tears. His poetry dances on the edge between madness and genius. It'll make the sun weep, angels kneel, and gods listen.

To put it in the words of some of my favorite authors, it will break your heart and in the next moment mend what's broken so that you're twice what you were before. It will lift you high and put you down in a better place. It's like the past and the future never existed.

Here's an excerpt from his poem To This Day:
despite a loving husband
she doesn’t think she’s beautiful
because of a birthmark
that takes up a little less than half of her face
kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer
that someone tried to erase
but couldn’t quite get the job done
and they’ll never understand
that she’s raising two kids
whose definition of beauty
begins with the word mom
because they see her heart
before they see her skin
that she’s only ever always been amazing
-Shane Koyczan
I usually prefer to read, but he at his best reciting his work. Watch him at his website here giving a presentation at TED. He starts out with "so many of you." My reaction to the presentation is"so beautiful."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You are not one drop in the entire ocean, but the entire ocean in one drop. -Rumi

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Run for Your Life:

 Running away is a type of escape. Second Life is another type, when running doesn't help.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bitter Fruit:

Dear God, master of the universe, compassionate and merciful: we who are steeped in sin kneel in supplication before your throne and beseech you to recall from this world Saadat Hasan Manto, son of Ghulam Hasan Manto, who was a man of great piety.

Take him away, Lord, for he runs away from fragrance and chases after filth. He hates the bright sun, preferring dark labyrinths. He has nothing but contempt for modesty but is fascinated by the naked and the shameless. He hates sweetness, but will give his life to taste bitter fruit. He will not so much as look at housewives but is in seventh heaven in the company of whores, He will not go near running waters, but loves to wade through dirt. Where others weep, he laughs; and where others laugh, he weeps. Faces blackened by evil, he loves to wash with tender care to make visible their real features.

He never thinks about you but follows Satan everywhere, the same fallen angel who once disobeyed you.
-Manto's Prayer, Sadat Hasan Manto, Bitter Fruit

Sadat Manto is reputed to have been the best writer of stories in Urdu. He wrote in a time and a place when freedom expression was not strongly protected. His writing was dangerous. That's a sign of a true piece of work.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Purpose of Life:

Today I was reading a River Runs Through It, by Norman MacClean. There is a film by the same name based on it. I had read that the book was much better than the film, so I thought I would give the book a read.

Something caught my eye at the beginning of the book. A catechism:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!
That seems to pretty much provide a direct answer to what the purpose of life is for humans. I'm not sure I agree with it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Beauty Defined:

“Did I say that she was beautiful? I was wrong. Beauty is too tame a notion; it evokes only faces in magazines. A lovely eloquence, a calming symmetry; none of that describes this woman’s face. So perhaps I should assume I cannot do it justice with words. Suffice it to say that it would break your heart to see her; and it would mend what was broken in the same moment; and you would be twice what you’d been before.”
― Clive Barker, Galilee

Need More Imagination:

Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.
-Mark Twain
Where can I get more imagination? Reality has been kicking my ass.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Such a Pretty Passage:

This is one of the prettiest passages I've ever read. It's by Bob Dylan from Tangled Up in Blue. He's describing the poems from a book by a thirteenth century poet:
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Describing it as pretty though, doesn't really do it justice. It's more like once you've read it, it'll haunt you forever and break your heart because nothing else will ever compare.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good Enough:

Thunderheart. It is the one amazing piece evidence of her self. Her very own self, sung in the only voice she had, a voice that she somehow decided was good enough.... It is as if she came up from hell to make this one thing, a record, and then she went back.
-Miranda July, I Kiss a Door
It's so great when someone decides that their work is good enough. It's as if they suddenly realized they like it. For the first time, they really see it. They stop asking what someone else thinks, because it doesn't matter. And what brings them to this stunning conclusion?

Desperation.Unending pain. Something like that. She probably did come up from hell to make that one thing.

The Truth:

If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth.
-Saadat Hasan Manto


Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. 
--Philip K. Dick.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Humans Need Lies:

From Hogfather by Terry Pratchett:
"All right," said Susan, "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need fantasies to make life bearable."

Death: No. Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers?"

Death: Yes. As practice. You have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

Death: Yes. Justice. Duty. Mercy. That sort of thing.

"They're not the same at all!"

Death: Really? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet you act, like there was some sort of rightness in the universe by which it may be judged:

"Yes. But people have got to believe that or what's the point?"    
Death: My point exactly.
The cold light from the stars shines on human and insect alike, not caring whether either lives or dies. It's been a long time since I've been this sane.

Did the Fire Purify You or Destroy You?

Many years ago I read a book entitled Grist for the Mill by Ram Dass and Stephen Levine.There is one section I especially remember about being drawn like a moth to flame. For a long awhile we circle the flame, sometimes getting too close and singing our wings. Finally, we can stand it no more and take the fiery plunge. But the flame only burns the things we cling to, and whether the fire purifies you or destroys you depends on who you think are.

Today I read something on Quora that made think of that:
Do you destroy wood, or create fire?
Do you destroy a piece of paper, or create art?
Do you destroy your life with stupid decisions, or create wisdom and opportunity?
    -Shaun Moshasha
What if I haven't destroyed my life? What if I have created an opportunity? There are a few things I can do here that I wasn't able to do in the old country.

Monday, March 18, 2013

There are Clubs You Can't Belong To...

There are clubs you can't belong to, neighborhoods you will never be able to afford, schools that won't accept you, and corporations that won't give your resume a passing glance. Second Life, however, is open to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. See you there.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Starter Friends:

I often lay awake at night and think about all those people on my friends list that never chat with me. Who are all these people? Where did they come from? Why are they here?

What do they think about me? Do they think my name suits me? Do they wonder what my voice sounds like? Are they worried if I'm lonely? When they think about me, I want them to really think about me.

I think most of these friends are left over from a starter friends pack that I got when I first signed up for premium membership. It was discontinued and replaced with a vehicle starter pack.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Are You Angry ?

Are you angry? Punch a pillow. Was it satisfying? Not hardly. These days people are too angry for punching. What you might try is stabbing. Take an old pillow and lay it on the front lawn. Stab it with a big pointy knife. Again and again and again. Stab hard enough for the point of the knife to go into the ground. Stab until the pillow is gone and you are just stabbing the earth again and again, as if you want to kill it for continuing to spin, as if you are getting revenge for having to live on this planet day after day, alone.
-Miranda July, The Shared Patio
The Shared Patio by Miranda July is a hilarious short story. Who is Miranda July? Her name is like someone out of Second Life. I like the name of her anthology: No One Belongs Here More Than You. Of course, that depends on where here is. What if it's a mental institution?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ever Have One of Those Nights?

Ever have one of those nights in SL where everything just seems dead? And the only friends that are online are the ones that you never talk to, who have been on your friends list forever. You go to a sim and there's only a few people, so you teleport to another place that is usually popular and it's dead too. And you just keep doing that for hours. 

All I really want is one good conversation. Just something with some meaningful information exchange. Some people need at least one hug per day, I need at least one good chat.

The Snarling Dog:

Have you ever tried to take a bowl of food away from a hungry dog? It snarls and snaps and snatches the food up in great gulps. That's how I write, like a snarling dog. I don't have a quiet place to write. I have to write in fits and starts. It's hard to remain calm when someone is taking your food away and you're so very hungry.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Tell Someone's Age in SL:

Do you think it is possible to tell someones age in SL by what they say? Someone confided in me that they can't tell if I'm really young or really old. I seem to have a bit sweetness, a bit of naivety, and don't apply much of a filter in expressing my thoughts.

These are evidently characteristics of both the young and the old, but not generally of those in between. They're either too young to know better or too old to care, and those in between aren't saying.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Allegedly Most Interesting Man vs. Me:

Tymmerie Thorne claims to know the most interesting man in SL. Who do you think is more interesting, him or me?  Cast your vote on the side panel. Voting closes March 19, 2013. The allegedly Most Interesting Man ("TAMIM") vs. Randall:

TAMIM: He can terraform... with his mind.
Randall: So weird, he drives crazy people sane.

TAMIM: He has never needed to ask for a teleport.
Randall:  Doesn't teleport, the universe contracts and the sim comes to him.

TAMIM:  Lindens get excited when they see him on the grid. (But, they are usually too shy to ask him for a teddy bear.)
Randall: The Lindens refer to him as a god. 

TAMIM: When he is near, textures rez faster.
Randall: If SL is boring, it's because he isn't online.

TAMIM: He always moves away from the landing point.
Randall: Walks before the world rezzes.

TAMIM: No-fly zones have no power over him.
Randall: He never crashes. The grid falls down around him.

TAMIM: He never experiences lag.
Randall: The Mayans prophesized his rezz date.

TAMIM: When he buys mainland, all of the neighbors pick tasteful decor and coordinate their landscaping with his. 
Randall: The center of the universe is where he's at.


Monday, March 11, 2013

The Angel's Game:

A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.
-Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel's Game
That's a great opening paragraph for a novel. It sucks you right into the mind of an artist. The need to create is about the fear of death. He wants to create something that will live on after his passing from this world. Most people settle for children, but an artist wants something more.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Bukowski Feared To Say

Bukowski was a tough guy, but there was something even he was afraid to say to his wife. He had to write it in a poem entitled Confession to be read after his death:
and the hard
I ever feared to
can now be

I love

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Gods Need You:

If I found a rock, and asked you what it meant, how would you reply? That's it just a rock and it doesn't mean anything? If I accidentally stepped on a beetle and crushed it and wept, would you tell me to dry my tears, it's just a bug and doesn't mean anything?

Isn't the earth just a large rock and people the equivalent of large bugs? Does the light from the stars shine on human and insect alike, not caring whether either lives or dies?

It sounds logical, but it doesn't have the ring of truth. Stop and think for a moment, what would a writer be without readers? What would the Linden gods be without residents? The universe evolved humans so it could perceive and re-imagine itself. It was lonely and bored.

You may not need the gods, but they need you.

Friday, March 8, 2013


You will be fierce. You will fearless. And you will make work you know in your heart is not as good as you want it to be.
― Ira Glass
I'm neither fierce nor fearless and my work is never as good as I would like it to be. Like this post for instance.

Angela's Ashes:

The happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood. People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version: the poverty; the shiftless loquacious father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests, bullying schoolmasters; the English and all the terrible things they did to us for 800 long years.
-Frank McCourt
During his childhood, he dreamed of being a prison inmate in the U.S. for the food and warmth. There were seven children in his family. The three youngest died due to disease and malnutrition. Years later as teacher in New York City, one of his students threw a sandwich at another kid. McCourt picked it up and ate it in front of the class. He knew the value of food.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One True Sentence:

When Hemingway first begin to write in Paris, Sherwood Anderson advised him that all he had to do was write one true sentence. When Hemingway had difficulty with his writing, he would recall that advice. He would write one true sentence, something that he knew was true and proceed from there.

Here's an example of something I know to be true. You will never understand loyalty, until you have let a dog into your life. A dog will make you better than you are by treating you better than you deserve.

An example of a true thing: a small, dark river rock worn perfectly smooth. Over millions of years, small grains of sand have sanded it to perfection. Feel it in your hand It feels right. Like the gods made it just for you.

Where to keep one true thing? Keep it somewhere true: in a small wood box. Not a box made of heavy wood, but of balsam, finely crafted and perfectly smooth, like the rock.

I beg of you, tell me just one true thing.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


It was hope undid them. Hope, and the certainty that Providence had made them suffer enough for their dreams. They'd lost so much already along the trail--children, healers, leaders, all taken--surely, they reasoned, God would preserve them from further loss, and reward their griefs and hardships with deliverance into a place of plenty.
    -Clive Barker, Everville
Hope is dangerous. It'll cause you to take on way more than you can handle. Too much land, too big of a move, too big of a leap, too much of whatever. The only hope is to have no hope.

Evil Prevails:

After long last evil had triumphed. As in the beginning, the earth was again formless and empty with darkness over the surface of the deep.  God was chained and forced to lay prostate before the evil one, who pronounced a sentence of eternal damnation. Before God was banished for the rest of eternity, Satan granted God one last request.

God thought for a minute and then requested permission to dance free of chains. God rose and begin to dance.

And for all of creation looked with amazement upon the immortal being's dancing image and said: "Wow, look at that dude dance.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


The line below was suggested by another SL resident. I liked it so much, I added it to my profile:
Randall Ahren never crashes. The grid falls down around him.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Born Into This

It's Monday and I cannot get past the blues. The gods are really kicking my ass. So I'm not even going to try. I'm going to post something from Bukowski's poem Dinosauria We, brush my teeth and go to bed.
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it's cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it's cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
Born into this
The nightmare can re-commence in the morning. Hope your Monday was better than mine.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What SL is About:

hello? hello?
I just want to chat with someone.
In end, I think that is what it's all about. Either that or the hokey pokey.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Grief in the Animal Kingdom

The following lines I lifted from Amy Hempel's story In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried. You should really read the whole story, I just copied the portions about the chimp:
"Tell me," she says, "about that chimp with the talking hands. What do they do when the thing ends and the chimp says, ‘I don't want to go back to the zoo'?"
"Did you know that when they taught the first chimp to talk, it lied? That when they asked her who did it on the desk, she signed back the name of the janitor. And that when they pressed her, she said she was sorry, that it was really the project director. But she was a mother, so I guess she had her reasons."

"Oh, that's good," she said. "A parable."
"There's more about the chimp," I said. "But it will break your heart."

In the course of the experiment, that chimp had a baby. Imagine how her trainers must have thrilled when the mother, without prompting, began to sign to her newborn.

Baby, drink milk.

Baby, play ball.

And when the baby died, the mother stood over the body, her wrinkled hands moving with animal grace, forming again and again the words: Baby, come hug, Baby, come hug, fluent now in the language of grief.
But the story really isn't just about a chimp. It's about anyone whoever became fluent in the language of grief.

My Two Favorite Short Story Writers:

There are two writers of short stories that I like better than anyone else. While Fante may have been Bukowski's god, Palniuk had a goddess, Amy Hempel. If you haven't yet discovered Amy Hempel, you are in for a real treat. Below is an excerpt from one of her short stories, entitled In a Tub:
My heart — I thought it stopped. So I got in my car and headed for God. I passed two churches with cars parked in front. Then I stopped at the third because no one else had.
     It was early afternoon, the middle of the week. I chose a pew in the center of the rows. Episcopal or Methodist, it didn’t make any difference. It was as quiet as a church.
     I thought about the feeling of the long missed beat, and the tumble of the next ones as they rushed to fill the space. I sat there — in the high brace of quiet and stained glass — and I listened.
The other writer that I really like is Tobias Wolff. His short story entitled Bullet in the Brain is probably the best short story I have ever read. It goes from trivial inconveniences to the meaning of life in about three pages. You can read the entire story online here. Enjoy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Gandhi on Suicide

If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.

Precious Mirror

The post about reflected beauty reminded of something I read long ago in a biography of Gandhi. There was a mirror in Gandhi in which everyone could see the best in their self. When Gandhi was assassinated, they wept because it seemed that the best in their selves died with the Mahatma.