12/30/2006

Randominion

(random words; schizo factor: 9)

Our staff dance and sing - whatever it takes to make you smile. Smiles = our payment, leave the money in your wallet. Great things can be expected from us, so don’t wish us into the fire.


Assemble freak men in the moonlight, give them hats to fill with change. Big half-pitchforks pierce pistolpacking moments in January. Of goulash I've none, of pizza there is quick justice.

Police the leek fellowships, drain unction from cobra hollows. Polaroid swishmakers grumble halfliveredly. King of majesty! We are proud. Pinpoint the poindexters and follow them into a murky mottled metric daze.

Open toed daffodils vex my jelly master. Maseratis of mummification! Oh yellow cob! Corn from high hills of underwater Atlantis.

12/27/2006

Cupcake Man seeks over the top blues band

The deal: I write the lyrics, you and your band sing them.

Start with this lil number which I call 'El Flopso':


The Flopso Blues

Hey big Betty, butts do sag/ Papa's coming home in a body bag

Sweet little chicken, steak fried grits/ Shake a little pepper on ya flopsy tits

Deepfried cabbage, bottle o suds/ mama's wooden leg is stuck in the mud

Chorus* Spiderman chokin/ Bullfrog croakin/ Ain't nobody jokin/ Flopso is down and broken

Bigass carrots, peelin grapes/ pinch my sugar an' shake your bake

Cash in hole, house in hock/ my mud-covered watch is a monkey clock

Three little pigs, big bad fox/ huffin and puffin, spittin pennies in a sock

Chorus* Spiderman chokin/ Bullfrog croakin/ Ain't nobody jokin/ Flopso is down and broken

12/26/2006

Shazbat Shazoom

So...I made somebody's online dictionary. Somehow. Apparently I'm a magician. Fun. Also, I create literature. Intense.

For context, see Wednesdays at the Mod - a ramble about moral decay in Toronto or skanky biotches or possibly me having too much fun at my own expense.

:-)

12/24/2006

Marilyn and John enjoy a massage

...a conversation between two people who won't admit they're
in love.

[? = my handwriting is illegible]

M:
What do you mean?
J: Massages
M: Getting?
J: No, giving.
M: Aren’t you a
J: We don't allow touching here.
M: Huh? You're touching me pretty much everywhere.
J: No. I mean, have you seen people on the subway.
M: Yeah. They’re afraid.
J: Yeah. They have no libido. Calm as …
M: What about massages. You keep groping me.
J: There’s a knot there. And I need feedback. How else can I improve?
M: Yes, that’s good.
J: My hands are falling off.
M: That’s what happens
J: Do masseuses get carpal tunnal?
M: Why're we so afraid?
J: Who us?
M: No, people.
J: We’re two lovers on either side of a firewall.
M: Who - us?
J: No. People. You and I are more prosaic.
M: I don’t envy kids.
J: Huh?
M: There’s no mystery.
J: That’s been said.
M: Everything can be found. Makes you want to to go looking again.
J: When anything's possible, people tend to sleep in.
M: Very good. is that yours?
J: Yes - original.
M: Well done.
J: We need the chasm. The carrot.
M: Huh?
J: Stuff you have to jump after, pray for.
M: Nonlinear things.
J: Yeah. I dunno.
M: I don’t get it.
J: Keep it that way. Neither do I. And you’re so cute when you realize you don’t have a clue.
M: Is that so.
J: Charming you are.
M: What- a compliment?
J: It goes with the massage. I’ve got you here, chilled out, and I'm glad you've stopped biting.
M: Keep rubbing.
J: I want a fajita.
M: If people were listening to us now – what would they think?
J: I dunno.
M: Fajita?
J: they’d probly think we’re idiots. I’m constantly repeating everything you say, but as a question. And yeah I like fajitas.
M: Fill up space. No fajitas here. I can't eat Mexican on a full-body massage.
J: Fill up space?
M: We need filler time. Tempos con quesos. Cheese talk.
J: Bertrand Russell – The Conquest of Happiness
M: Conquest of who?
J: You
M: Shut up
J: Ok – of Happiness.
M: That’s better. How did he do it. Russell. The conquering.
J: Well he goes on about the value of boredom.
M: Boredom. Is my conversation getting too spicy? Mexicala m0uthiness
J: Well, overstimulated people tend not to accomplish very great things.
M: Really
J: Yep.
M: Well keep stimulating my shoulders like that and I won’t get outta bed for a week.
J: Me me me. That’s you.
M: I’m too much of a massage slut? What you gonna do about it.
J: About your slutty ways?
M: Yes.
J: I’ll keep rubbing until you reach liftoff.
M: I wish. But who will massage you when I’ve fallen asleep.
J: Probably nobody.
M: Is that why you give, so you can get?
J: We are what we lack.
M: Gord Downie.
J: I'm impressed.
M: And who am I?
J: Todd's girlfriend
M:
Am I. So I am. A very dismal viewpoint. And what do you lack?
J: Todd's girlfriend.
M: But you aren't me.
J: I'm not so sure sometimes.
M: I lack massage.
J: The whole city does.
M: I’m selfish, I like your massages. I’m not a communist.[?]
J: Neither am I.
M: Then why do you want to massage everyone?
J: I don’t. Nice to ease the joints though.
M: You know what you really are, John?
J: I’m dying, please tell me.
M: You’re a combination of all the books you’ve ever read.
J: Tabula rasa eh. What made me pick up the first one then?
M: I don’t know.
J: And what do I want with you then
M: Well, I’m all the books you haven’t.
J: I reach for what I lack.
M: Yes. And keep reaching. And rubbing.
J: You slut.
M: Heehee
...
J: Something about being different on the internet [?]
M: Did what?
J: Made me feel small.
M: You are Hue of Borg.
J: Hue – who?
M: You don’t watch Star Trek. Never mind.
J: We don’t watch any of the same things any more. Don’t have to. The internet is an intensely personal thing.
M: Culture dies without consensus.
J: Yeah, and Star Wars replaced the Nativity story. I’m not sure what the internet gives us.
M: Lightning speed access to all the wrong answers.
J: Yeah. We can be dead wrong faster than ever before.
M: What would the Oracle of Delphi have thought?
J: I dunno. I’m so lambda?
M: That makes no sense.
J: Touche.
M: Yes, I'm being toushayed.
J: Massage. My hands are good for something.
M: Locked in a room with just me.
J: I was described as good at that.
M: What makes something good.
J: Harmony.
M: Like the Beatles?
J: It’s this tennis-match way we talk. Builds tension
M: Is that all it takes to keep interest?
J: Rhythm
M: What happened to harmony?
J: People should get married based only on longterm conversational potential. Find their life rhythm.
M: Yes
J: But I can play with any band.
M: Accompaniment. Stop showing off and keep massaging.
...
J:
The big people in the world will always outshout the small.
M: Huh
J: It’s a fraud. Democracy. Far cry from Athens.
M: Huh?
J: The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversaton with the average voter.
M: Who said that?
J: I think it was Winston Churchill
M: You need more faith in people, John. They do what is expected of them.
J: The My Fair Lady effect. Julie Andrews. George Bernard Shaw, legend of Pygmalion.
M: Huh. How do I know anything? You read too much.
...
J: Oh I’m thinking of selling my spare iPod.
M: You with an iPod - you're such a sheep.
J: Go to hell

...

J: What if Todd was here, what would he say? How'd he defend his libido.
M: He’d be angry
J: Why're you attracted to him anyway?
M: Tall.
J: Huh?
M: Height. He’s tall.
J: That is so offensive you have no idea
M: Why? What's wrong with liking tall guys.
J: For the same reason me expressing my fondness for big-breasted women is offensive to you.
M: Am I offended by that?
J: At least a woman can get implants if she wants a bigger chest. A man is stuck with his height. There is no justification. It’s a Neanderthal prejudice.
M: Are you being a whiny suck?
J: Yes.
M: For a guy who makes fun of midgets as much as you do, I think you’re being a bit hypocritical with your outrage over my height preferences.
J: Consistency is a tall order.
M: Stop it. What will satisfy you?
J: You don’t want me to tell you.
M: I already know.
J: It’s not you.
M:
J: Other people can’t make me happy.
M: You don’t give other people much credit do you.
J: I don’t know when I lost my faith in people. But no I didn't mean that as a pessimistic thing.
M: You disguise with niceness. But really it’s like all your expectations of people have evaporated.
J: So? My point is only I can make me happy.
M: Soon you will be a hermit.
J: Go to hell. It’s the green light I want.
M: What green light?
J: The green light at the end of the dock.
M: Easy, Gatsby. You read too much.
J: Not true – I’ve never read Shakespeare.
M: So what. Neither did Shakespeare.
J: Did what?
M: Read Shakespeare.
J: No but I’ve read Pope.
M: I don’t believe in the guy.
J: The pope is just a guy. Did you know Alexander Pope was practically a midget? Seriously - like 4'6". I guess you wouldn't have married him.
M: When I get the chance to marry the pope, I'll let you know ok. You’re doing great with the massage by the way.
J: Thanks for the feedback. I like to do a good job.
M: Who will notice if you don't?
J: I will.
M: You’re one of the greats, John.
J: Takes one to know one.
M:
J: There is something about you that is carved in stone.
M: Funny, in the mirror nothing seems familiar.
J: Is this turning into an emo song?
M: No - I don't listen to cool music
J: Perfect foil. You’re the woman a man can…
M: Me? Not one of your downtown narcissists
J: I feel sorry for 'modern women'.
M: Why?
J: If feminism is genetic, then feminists are doomed to extinction.
M: Huh.
J: They aren't exactly out there getting pregnant.
M: Don’t be an idiot. It’s a cultural thing. It’s learned into society, you men are stuck with it, Deal with it.
J: Like a cultural meme.
M: Huh.
J: Exactly.
M: Stop it.
J: What – feminism?
M: No, get up.
J: ...
M: Thanks for the massage.
J: No problem. Where are you going.
M: Take a chair John. Now it’s your turn.
J: Rock on.


MERRY XMAS

12/17/2006

Quantum Fred

(meaninglessness factor: 7)

Ostracized from exile, delivered from the Age, Fred
whispered to his webcam, and trawled the universe for a homepage.

In 1740 he sang baroque, and
later taught the Babe to take a poke
and so fans packed Yankee Stadium.
He was Picasso in 1910 and
Warhol in '67 but
I saw him last week at midnight sweeping
the floors of a 7-11.

Fred comes and goes, Oh
and his bank account will never grow;
'You don't buy railroad tickets no more'
'You shop at the airport duty free store'

He's not upset at
disheveled hair
satisfied with poisoned air
Half and half he takes his coffee
sliced to ribbons by the scanner
a tiger lily lasts November
Roses bloom in Armageddon

Fred only gets 15 minutes
to unwind, to scope his mind for escape
now he's begging for change
at Danforth and Pape and
singing about his favourite grape, and
he just made friends with a puppy.

12/15/2006

10 career choices to consider

1) Hot dog vendor - plenty fresh air and interaction; I'd charge a toonie. But I hear the vending racket is controlled by the mob. No wonder we see no outdoor salad carts.
2) Priest - I'd be gunned down tragically in Central America. Villagers would pray to my ghost for paranormal blessings.
3) Cashier - nothing calms me down like making change. Seriously.
4) Copywriter - hmm. No.
5) MiSC. editor - already had this job, and it was great. What is MiSC.? I'm working on that post. It's tough to explain.
6) Jokewriter - I do this one too.
7) Busboy - I prefer picking up plates to picking up bowls but can't be fussy I guess. I'd be the go-to guy when folks ask 'Can I get another napkin?' My shift would be a well-oiled machine.
8) Tour guide on a double-decker bus - many favourite things combined: fresh air, making stuff up, meet bored tourists (some goodlooking) with too much money. May have to start a touring company. The Toronto neighbourhoods tour. Yeah. Could be on rickshaw too. God that's a brilliant idea.
9) Mixed-tape consultant - just waiting for the technology to make a comeback.
10) World Cup Blogger - nothing says soccer like a blog! Yes.

12/13/2006

Crunktacular

(staring at the lake listening to Baroque masterworks)

Hourglass figures fine and smooth drunk loosening of keyboard inhibitions, you scrivener with cuff sleeves loose, verbose, sit at the rear of a kitchen caboose. Regale with tales of a genial giant, and how postmodernity got screwed up getting Y2K-compliant. “It’s another tech bubble,” just wait and see – “I’m selling my earthly possessions and moving to a fantasy.”

I’m not your shining knight, I’m the king of daze. The man you’re in love with doesn’t exist –his hair is turning grey. Meet so many women, like a revolving door. These weak social links leave me gasping on the floor. Can you breathe through society snorkels? I’m suffocated by our city’s legitimate desperation, just elected president of an insecure nation.

Blame yourself for curiousity, though they dish out death penalties at the first sign of pomposity. What curiousity gave you will kill you too. What you deserved is what you rue. You say you won’t be it but it's what you do. That is hell, the chasm between talk radio and pillowtalk, between red carpets and plank-walks, between “shut up” and lip locks.

He said "Honest men believe others are honest, but a liar doesn’t trust anyone so he makes prisons.” and "the best laws were all invented by liars. Trickledown morality's what feeds the fire.” Inspired by libertarians, or were they false-freedom-barbarians? All in favour of life, death to strife and the safe and responsible use of a carving knife. But this from a boy who never took a wife?

12/12/2006

Insanire Iuvat - 'It's Good to Go Nuts'

Alcoholic Genius
Horace and Wines in the Odes
Pat Tanzola
Latin 311
For prof: Ross S. Kilpatrick
Fall 1999


balnea vina Venus corrumpunt corpora nostra, sed vitam faciunt balnea vina Venus

-Roman poem-fragment found inscribed in stone (Griffin, 89)

potabis: ‘you will drink deeply’
-Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Ode 1.20.3)

Those upper class Romans loved a wild party, and Horace was no exception, so the story goes. Wine, long associated with images of Bacchic revelry--the “eat-drink-and-be-merry” of the Epicurean cliche--indelibly stains the Horatian verse with its ubiquitous alcoholic presence: in Odes III alone, seventeen of the thirty poems (odes 1, 4, 6, 8, 12-19, 21, 23, 25, 28-29) contain references, allusions, and even (in Ode 3.21) prayers to wine and drinking. Indeed, the Horace novice begins to wonder whether the poet was in need of a twelve-step program, for wine is so noticeable a weapon in Horace’s poetic arsenal, used (abused?) in a scope and style unlike any other Roman poet. Upon a more sober examination of the Odes, however, the sensitive reader becomes aware that Horace uses wine for reasons deeper than merely boorish expression of his hedonistic habits (as they are alleged to be). The famous drinking-party or convivium (‘living together’) is not exclusively an end in itself in the Odes; more often drinking serves Horace as a point of departure, from which he may tackle any number of topics—love, friendship, politics, philosophy, morality, and so on. Horace was no chaste monk, but above he all preached the Golden Mean (Harrison, 6) of moderation. He uses wine by way of example, reproaching its over-indulgence as well as praising its pleasures. Wine was also a prominent theme in the work of Greek poets such as Alcaeus. It was the Greek style that Horace reinvented in Latin, and to which he paid homage in his symposiastic (from Greek symposium or ‘drinking together’, equivalent to a Roman convivium) odes; as an attonitus vates (‘inspired bard’) of Bacchus, wine was a key part of his ambitious poetical stylization. Drinking and the appreciation of wine, then, is a poetical framework, an aspect of Roman life whose manifold aspects and subtle nuances—including not only orgiastic fever but also relaxed conversation between friends--Horace explores to the fullest in his role as poet.

The Romans had a bad reputation for indulging in drink and losing control. Expensive wines, perfumes and flowers were “characteristic features of the voluptuary’s convivium”; these parties were synonymous with alcoholic excess (Edwards, 187). Drunken brawling was instilled in the literature: Ovid’s Metamorphoses include scenes of centaurs and lapiths braining each other with massive wine bowls. The Romans were blithely self-aware of their alcohol-soaked excess. Many contemporary writers, such as Seneca, denounced convivia as the settings for prodigal consumption, and wine as the prime instigator (Griffin, 86). In a famously hilarious Phillipic, Cicero tore into Antony’s wine-soaked atrocities:
Let us speak instead of the nastiest kind of vulgarity. You, with that gorge of yours, that stomach, that body as strong as a gladiator’s, had consumed so vast a quantity of wine at the wedding of Hippias that you had to vomit in the sight of the assembled Roman people the following day—a scene disgusting to behold—even to hear about! If this had occurred in the middle of one of your drinking-bouts, even then, who would not consider it shameful? Yet in a gathering of the Roman People, while engaged in public business, the Master of the House—in whom belching would be most indecorous—vomited, spilling fragments of food, stinking of wine, into his own lap and over the whole tribunal.
(Cicero Phil 2.63—from Edwards, 191-192)

Horace himself acknowledges this capacity of wine for incapacitation, noting rixarum metuens…Gratia (3.19.16)—‘the Graces fear brawling’. Wine was the companion of both love (Veneris sodali/ vina craterae –3.18.6-7) and witty conversation, but at the other end of the symposiastic spectrum lurked riotous quarreling and sexual jealousies (rixam et insanos amores –3.21.3), ever-dangerous beneath the surface of any party. Wine and debauchery went hand in hand, and the Romans were not necessarily proud of this fact.

And yet, by Horace’s time, appreciation of wine was something of an art form, which brought an air of distinction to the wine-lover. In the late Republic, the systematic specialization of knowledge spilled over from areas like philosophy and law onto the supper table, resulting in an increased connoisseurship of food and drink (Edwards, 203). In his encyclopediae Pliny the Elder devoted an entire book to wines (Griffin, 65); even the strict Cato was said to be quite knowledgeable on the subject: “narratur et prisci Catonis/ saepe mero caluisse virtus” (3.21.11-12). Wine could be appreciated without the noisy accompaniment of the convivium. Heightened awareness of the differences between vintages helped raise the wine-jar above the level of low debauchery, to the level of haute-couture.

Of Roman poets, it is above all Horace who speaks of wines with a most comfortable sophistication. The elegiac poets, such as Catullus, do not display an expertise in this area; Asclepiades and Meleager never mention wines by name; the epic writer Virgil is just as sparing—“wine snobbery was not appropriate at all levels of poetry”(Griffin, 67). This makes Horace’s knowledge of vintage, demonstrated throughout his body of work, all the more compelling: “he mentions the Falernian fifteen times, seven times the Caecubean, six times the Chian…” (Griffin, 66). Horace is unduly paranoid about wine: he worries that Spartacus has destroyed all the fine bottles from the Marsian War (see 3.14.18-20)—as though Spartacus’ chief concern were drinking. Indeed, no one (and certainly not Spartacus) can match Horace as arbiter bibendi: he knows how to store the wine (amphorae fumum bibere institutae –3.8.11), how to dilute and heat the wine (aquam temperet ignibus –3.19.6) and how to make a toast. In making the toasts, he even makes correct use of the genitive case, with sume…amici/ sospitis (3.8.13) and da lunae…da noctis…da auguris Murenae (3.19.9-11) representing holdovers from corresponding Greek ‘toasting’ expressions (Williams-1969, 72). Horace was a lyric poet; lyric poetry was traditionally supposed to be written to accompany musical performance at parties, where, after all, there would have been drinking (Williams-1969, 8). This alone, however, does not account for Horace’s peculiar fondness for wine.

Enemies of Horace might have said that he was just “a ‘fat little hedonist with a knack for writing verse’” (Harrison, 109). Horace’s refined urbanity, exemplified by his thorough knowledge of the wine-cask, is marred by fits of regression into ‘debauchery’: he is all-to-ready to quaff the contents of said cask! Horace is apparently an anomaly among Roman poets, an alcohol-obsessed over-indulgent lush, who brags about the proper amounts for drinking (Connor, 144). After demanding three times the normal amount of wine (ternos ter cyathos –3.19.15), the poet exclaims in a fit of convivial swashbuckling: “insanire iuvat”—‘it’s good to go nuts’ (Minadeo, 92). Wine brings oblivion. In the pia testa ode, Horace praises, with blasphemous reverence, the ‘powers’ of the holy wine-jar: wine may bring querelas… iocos… rixam…insanos amores…facilem somnun (3.21.2-4). He mentions his notable friend Massala Corvinus, but only with respect to Corvinus’ obedience to the bottle of wine (3.21.9-10), an obedience that Horace shares with relish. His immediate reaction to a piece of good news or the arrival of a friend is to lay out a party with plenty of wine and laughter (Harrison, 109). Ode 2.27 provides a most explicit example:
The throw of the dice will decide who is to see to the wine. I intend to rave like a Bacchante. Now that I’ve got my friend back, I’m all for an orgy.
(2.27.25-28, as quoted by West, 132)
Horace was an extrovert who enjoyed life to the fullest!

It would be a mistake, however, to attempt to understand Horace and his wines solely from this libidinous perspective. There are noticeable cracks in his hedonistic fa├žade. Keep in mind that Horace (who lived 65-8 B.C.), was approaching middle age at the time of the Odes (book III was published in 23 B.C—he would have been forty-two). Though a reveler in his youth, he was mellowing, just like Corvinus’ languidiora vina (3.21.8). While he does order up the usual celebration upon Augustus’ return from Spain, he won’t cause a fuss if his girl Neaerae won’t come; should there be a problem in procuring her, his slave is given instructions to leave (“abito” 3.21.20). After all, sighs Horace, “lenit albescens animos capillus/ litium et rixae cupidos protervae” (3.21.21-26). In ode 8 at the gathering between Horace and Maecenas, there is a similar air of moderation. Though the party will last till dawn, Horace bids “procul omnis esto/ clamor et ira” (3.8.15). Sellar comments that Horace “in his maturer years had no greater enjoyment than that of honest talk and wholesome wine with an old friend” (Sellar, 173). There is no ‘insanity-provoking mechanism’ ascribed to the enjoyment of wine here.

Horace actually deplores undue excess. There is an instinct for moderation about Horace that raises him above the level of the lowly pleasure-seeker (Chapman, 134). Most notable in Odes III is his treatment of that vetula Chloris, whom he admonishes: poti…faece tenus cadi (3.15.16) are not appropriate a woman of her age. Horace paints a “hideous picture” of Chloris, “devoid of any sympathy” (Connor, 187). In the sixth Roman Ode, attacks the adulterous immorality of women at drinking-parties (inter mariti vina--3.6.24) as an emblem of the general breakdown of order. Readers may feel it is hypocritical of Horace, he a bachelor and veteran of many love-affairs (“militavi non sine gloria”—3.26.2), to take such a stance. As Harrison points out, however:

his affairs with [Greek] courtesans…don’t prevent him from honestly
deploring the fact that Roman matrons should imitate such women (Harrison, 13)

Horace was Poet Laureate of Rome. It is hard to imagine Augustus entrusting the role of moral mouthpiece for the reformed Roman State to a mere libertine. Horace said “rectius vives”—‘may you live more correctly’. While he dabbled in Stoicism and especially in Epicureanism—whose highest good is the absence of pain—Horace above all believed in the Golden Mean of Aristotle, that the best path to take in life is the one between two extremes. Excessive recklessness and ostentation are to be avoided. The weak hedonism of the party ethos becomes stronger when emphasis is put on death and the uncertainty of life (Williams-1972, 73), but even precious Falernian wine will not soothe a man who is troubled at heart (3.1.43). So Horace’s most famous phrase, “carpe diem” (1.11) is not an alcohol-soaked carte-blanche.

Having given credit to Horace for his ethical scruples, the reader must abandon the narrowly-conceived formula that, in his poetry, wine equals joyous revelry. The equation has more variables. This results in a very complicated situation for the critic. For surely there are some traces of Horace’s mad playful youth in the Odes—ode 28, a joyous exhortation to symposiastic preparation, seems to affirm this alone. And yet, Sellar claims Horace was “neither an ardent lover nor an intemperate reveller” (Sellar, 168), and that he was the least serious of all the love poets. He certainly does lack the passion of, say, a Catullus, who said to his lover “odi et amo”—‘I love you and I hate you’. As a rule, Horace does not go to extremes. Love, like wine, is to be enjoyed, but not overdone. Horace mentions so many girls—Chloe, Lydia, Lycus, Phyllis, etc.--that “it is doubtful if he was deeply attached to any of his girlfriends” (Harrision, 62). As he is a connoisseur of wine, so is Horace a connoisseur of women.

Horace obviously had other reasons for making so many references to wine, apart from the fact that he was a wine-connoisseur. Sellar explains the ubiquity of wine in the Odes via the influence of the Greek poets: “love and wine were favourite themes of Horace’s prototypes” (Sellor, 168). Fraenkel agrees: songs about “banquets…prayers, and invocations” are Greek in derivation (Fraenkel 168). For example, there is Alcaeus, who was a particularly important model for Horace:
The convivia and the drinking of wine are important for the composition of
[Horace’s] poems. His model in his lyric poetry is Alcaeus, and Alcaeus
sang constantly of wine. (Griffin, 76)
Eleven of the thirty poems in Odes III are in the Alcaic metre. Odes 8, 14, 17, 19, 21, 28, 29 are all symposium poems (Williams-1972, 25), based at least partially on the Greek style.
Horace truly admired the Greeks; he longed to take their poetic conventions and make them his own. The pia testa ode, in all its irreverence, is an imitation of a Pindaric invocation in a form “instantly recognizable” (West, 93) to the Romans and Greeks. Horace brags that he is princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos deduxisse modos, the ‘first to spin Aeolian poetry to Italian rhythms’ (3.30.13-14, as translated by Williams-1972, 150). Drinking was an important factor in Greek poetry; therefore wine takes on a stylistic role in Horace, above and beyond Horace’s own purported hedonism. Wine provides a welcome ‘stage prop’ for Horace to use in giving advice to Maecenas in odes 8 and 29, to discuss political themes in ode 14 (as well as odes 8 and 29), and to talk of love-making in ode 28. Food is noticeably absent from the Odes, though most would agree food is just as necessary to a life of pleasure. Though Horace is known for his love of wine, the fact that drinking (and not eating) is the chosen poetic fashion to broach upon themes such as the shortness of life, love, friendship, and politics is not his invention: “the higher genres, not only lyric but also elegy, were happy to accept mention of drinking, but would not allow discussion of food” (Griffin, 81-82). Wine is an objective poetic entity. Whether the theme is serious or not, everything the poet has to say, both his private and public utterances, can be versified in relation to how they impinge upon the setting of music and drinking (Griffin, 78). Wine is part of the Greek style, and Horace adopts it into his own style.

In accordance with this, Horace deals with the theme of his poetic inspiration in conjunction with wine. If Horace lacked passion (and albescens…capillus certainly supports this view), then what about the Dionysian fervour of ode 25 (Dionysus is the Greek equivalent of Bacchus)? What does it mean when Horace invokes the Wine-God (Lenaee means ‘God of the Winepress’ –3.25.19) for inspirational help? Horace claims that he sees Bacchus; that he is mad with poetic frenzy: “quo me, Bacche, rapis tui/ plenum” (3.25.1-2). Is he being literal? Fraenkel is quite credulous: “I think Horace means what he says. He did see Dionysus” (Fraenkel, 200). This stance, however, does not fit the portrait of Horace in the Odes. The Odes are “the mature and deliberate work of a man whose locks were turning grey” (Chapman, 97). The statement that (in a supposed inspirational frenzy) he had seen the Wine-God must have been the result of a calculated poetical motive. The Dionysian vision is a clear case--unusual for Horace--where the poet and the man, Q. Horatius Flaccus, seem to be starkly separate people. Typically, it would seem Horace’s 'own personality' burns through his verses: Horace is so adept at portraying a believably autobiographical character in his poems, that lazy critics are apt to always interpret his verse in this way. Horace the man was a wine-lover, and he wrote a lot about wine. From one perspective this is unsurprising; from another perspective, this is a happy but completely unnecessary coincidence, and the Odes reaps the benefits of it. Unfortunately, the poet sometimes has to use a little bit of creative exaggeration, to say the least, and this is the case with the Dionysian vision. Was Horace really serious about Bacchus’ ability to inspire him to write great and original poetry (“dicam insigne recens adhuc/ indictum ore alio” –3.25.7-8), all via the wine grape? Probably not. Otherwise there would be a Horace in every dumpster, not begging for change but writing verse instead.

Horace may have been too moderate to take much of life (including Bacchic frenzies) seriously, but he was dead set on one issue: his own poetic greatness. Horace believed, after the fashion of the Epicureans, that the only thing capable of surviving death and possessing immortality is fame (Harrison, 7). In the first line of the last ode of book III he claims with bravado “exegi monumentum aere perennius” (3.30.1)—alas, it’s not bragging if it’s true. Horace gives a nod to the Greeks for their help, but Greek metres carry him only so far; despite their influence, Horace’s poetry will be totally original. Horace is sacerdos musarum (3.1.3), and he claims that he can only fulfill his poetic role with divine inspiration. Bacchus was the god to hear his requests, the god not only of wine, but of poetic fever and originality (Williams-1969, 130), the Muse whose inspiration is like madness. Only in the extraordinary frame of mind that is akin to drunkenness, Horace writes, will he do justice to the grand and perilous theme of Augustan poetry. The image of Bacchus is a figurative link to Horace’s impassioned claim (perhaps his only impassioned claim) of supreme poetic status:
…it is a metaphor, sanctioned by long literary usage, for something which
the poet was anxious to say: that he really was a great lyric poet; an
Alcaeus, a Pindar. (Griffin, 75)
Thus, poetic greatness does indeed go hand in hand with drunkenness.

Horace squeezes a tremendous amount of poetry of out his wine-press, both in quantity and in quality; book III is another classic vintage. If every nuance of drinking and appreciation of wine could flow through a poet’s oeuvre, Horace is the prime example in Roman poetry. Yes, Horace was an extrovert hedonist in his youth and even into his old age. The role that wine plays in his verse is nonetheless subtle, and understated, in spite of its prevalence. In Odes III, Horace, after the manner of the Greek symposium, uses the forum of drinking as a framework for poems of any flavour: “an invitation to a friend can promise a party…rational hospitality can rebuke the vices of age...its reverse brings…the orgy” (Griffin, 77). Whether he uses down-to-earth directness or stylized allusion, the poet meets with and expresses his themes over a cup of wine, poem after poem. Hence it is really no surprise that Horace (in 3.21) sings an entire prayer to a wine-jar as though it were a god: wine has helped Horace become famous, and one should always thank the gods when they are propitious.


Bibliography

Connor, Pater. Horace’s Lyric Poetry: The Force of Humour. Australia: Aureal Publications,
1987.

Chapman, John Bisset. Horace and His Poetry. London: George C. Harrap & Company, 1971.

Edwards, Catherine. The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1993.

Fraenkel, Eduard. Horace. Great Britain: Oxford University Press, 1963.

Gowers, Emily. The Loaded Table. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Griffin, Jasper. Latin Poets and Roman Life. London: Gerard Duckwort & Co., Ltd., 1985.

Harrison, J. A. Horace in His Odes. Bristol: Bristol Classical, Press.

Minadeo, Richard. The Golden Plectrum: Sexual Symbolism in Horace’s Odes. Amsterdam:
Rodopi B.V., 1982.

Noyes, Alfred. Portrait of Horace. London: Sheed and Ward, 1947.

Sellar, Arthur, ed. The Roman Poets of the Augustan Age. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.

Williams, Gordon. The Third Book of Horace’s Odes. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

Williams, Gordon. Horace. Great Britain: Oxford University Press, 1972
.

12/09/2006

"Who do you want to be?" she asked

"The most influential writer ever," he said.

"Really. Rich and famous doesn't sound like you."

"Not at all. There's only one way to accomplish it. Doesn't mean fame."

"How then?"

"Be unknown. But be everywhere. Powerful and anonymous."

"Huh? like who?"

"Think for a minute. Who's the most important writer ever?"

"I don't know."

"Just think about your life. The most influential author. Think about where you live. Who controls almost everything - all the time?"

"I give up. Who?"

"The dude who wrote the stop sign."

"Ah."

"Yep!"

"Please leave now."

"Yep."

"I mean - right now."

"Fine. But it's a masterpiece."


12/04/2006

FIAC team bios - Criminy Fok

About Criminy – FIAC short story author

Criminy straddles the line between the insignificant and the insane. "Vocabulary is like a dromedary," he exclaims. "And I’ve been to Tipperary. I’m oh so scary."

Indeed. Criminy began at FIAC writing about an evil cow that lived in the Cupcake Man's basement:

I was in my basement, playing The Game Of Life, when a fearsome black cow appeared before me, hissing and spitting, her four stomachs churning with bovine malevolence. She was more like a cobra of the barnyard; she was no benign Bessie. Her udder dripped a hot, corrosive muck that reeked of sulphuric acid. It was as though this creature was poisoning its milk on me by way a deadly taunt. No, I would taste naught of the she-bull’s udder: Considering how utterly taken aback I was by the beast’s iron-hoofed ingress, I would do precious well to exit this encounter with my life. I groped for my pitchfork, hoping perhaps to impale the beast, lest she impale me upon her blunted snout. My effort was in vain: the cow, though bovine in stature, was feline in agility. The beast was upon me, gnashing its outward-jutting teeth and mooing like the Dark Shade Calf of Hades herself. Eyes wide with mortal terror, I expected no less than complete bodily evisceration…

Except to write his memoirs, Criminy has never looked back, penning over 50 short stories for FIAC in under three years. His memoir, published in an outhouse in 2005 was an homage to his characters: 1001 Ludicrous Assholes – or Reading This Book is Better than Tuberculosis, and was banned in 113 sanitoriums across North America.

Criminy's technique is unique to FIAC in the blogosphere. Eschewing ‘plot’ and ‘character’ his stories are driven by impossibly original names - like Moses Drecksnider the King of Cutlery and Znoosle the Curmudgeonly Coelecanth -and random phrases such as 'a woman can talk about shoelaces as long as the lace is long'. He says his writing "wriggles upon the disfigured cliche" and "cliffhangers in every sentence." Sure, Criminy. Whatever!

"There are better stories out there," he says, "stuff with an actual plot, or real emotions. There are more poignant insights." But as far as daredevilry goes, Criminy walks the talk like the bees knees. "I mix metaphors like a curious cat on a hot tin roof." Or like an old dog playing pick up sticks. "Suspended disbelief is a game of chicken," he shouts into his webcam. "Take that to the bank and smoke it!"

His stories have been described as "blinding, in the bad way" or "akin to a heavy thud" or "not unlike a voluminous sneeze" or "like being suffocated under a moose."

"My goal?" he says. "To make my readers drunk."

"And one day, they will go blind."

Indeed.

"This is literary moonshine.”

12/03/2006

FIAC team bios - Antoine B-B

About Antoine Blankety-Blank, FIAC IT support

Bob Marley, meet Blackbeard - ie Antoine! Antoine is a master of bandwidth. His prowess with Blogger technology, namely the Postex Positron borders on the ridiculous. After a degree in Viagra Studies from the University of Kablingie Antoine shucked 487 oysters in a row. "There are calcium stones in my gullet the size of turtles." But what size turtle he will not say.

Disdaining violent outbursts, Antoine relies on sweaty handshakes. "A lot can be learned from the komodo dragon," he says about his favourite monitor lizard. He applies their "patient coldblooded outlook" when adjusting FIAC Ethernet signals. But Antoine admits he sometimes deploys the atomic suplex to resolve the stickiest technical glitches.

When channeling a FIAC post Antoine drinks whiskey and says a prayer. Regarding his future with our team, Antoine muses, "Either I keep working for FIAC, or I get shot from a cannon." Not an easy choice.

Antoine is only 19 and yes, ladies, he is single!