The Cycle (IV): Kintsukuroi

I’m going make this week’s prompt another short story in the same series.  You may find all the previous installments under the title “The Cycle,” with a theme and number, in the Hive Index.   I’ve been lazy about my fiction, and lately a reader has asked me about this story series, so…here goes. 

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The Cycle (IV):  Kintsukuroi

Angela had spent the whole weekend with her husband’s journal.  That journal and not much else.  She took the phone off the hook.  She didn’t eat.  Her path through house consisted of a truncated and zagging path between the armchair by the cold fireplace, the refrigerator where she kept multiple bottles of Evian, and the bathroom on the first floor.  It had been hard enough to sleep in the bed her and her husband had shared, ever since his crimes were laid bare…literally.  After she found the journal and read the first few entries, Angela gave over the idea of sleep completely.  Every time she closed her eyes, a fusillade of gruesome images kept her from achieving anywhere near the peace of mind required to relax into sleep.  Most of the images were montages conjured by her own mind– the few details the detective had shared with her from the crime reports , and the faces of the women as they had been before her husband had “fixed” them.  With these details, and the sickly ambiguous writing in her husband’s journal, prose that were somehow equal parts self-important, saccharin, and terrifying, Angela tortured herself with vivid scenarios of what had happened to each of the women.  In these scenarios, she recognized her husband’s face, his handsome face, but his eyes burned with the light of insanity, practically glowing, like the eyes of a comic book demon.

That he thought of these women, his victims, as finished products– as his art– was sickening.  That he thought he was “fixing” them, making them better somehow, like a craftsman repairing a piece of broken pottery with powdered gold, was untenable.   But his vanity and the truth of his hedonistic pursuits were revealed by the fact that all of the women had similar characteristics.  Petite, pale blonde hair, tiny aristocratic nose…   Fragile looking, yet with an undefinable verve.  Like a flower.

Like her sister.

Jill.  It was impossible to tell if the obsession had started with her, or ended with her.  Were all his victims merely substitutes, or were they practice for his endgame?

Or had Jill’s disappearance merely been a result of her conveniently fitting his ideal victim type?  No.  There she was, fooling herself again.  At the very least, he knew who Jill was when she had taken her.  She figured in to all of this somehow.

All of these horrid images and ideas chased one another through her mind, keeping her restless and nauseous, and wearing at her sanity like an angry dog wearing a groove in the ground at the end of its leash.

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Humpday Food For Thought: Read This Book

I’ve had a couple things rattling around in the ol’ gulliver. One is this book.

Gulliver: a slang term used by the character “Alex” in the book A Clockwork Orange (by Anthony Burgess,) and later a movie by the same title directed by Stanley Kubrick. Russian/Gypsy “NADSAT” teenage vernacular.  (source) 

Yeah, I’m re-reading A Clockwork Orange.  For those of you who never have read Anthony Burgess novel from which Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic film was based, it’s definitely worth the read, if for no other reason than because the end of the movie is not the true end of the story.  The book is written from the point of view of the main character; it wouldn’t be appropriate to necessarily call him a “protagonist” in the traditional sense, because Alex is, at least initially, not a very sympathetic character.  He’s actually a sociopath juvenile delinquent.  Published in 1962, the novel is still surprisingly relevant.  The setting is some future, dingy, dystopic London, where gangs roam the streets with near impunity, especially at night.  Different age groups seem to have different slang, a language all their own almost, and the narrator is no exception.  While the seeming overabundance of essentially made up words is a bit overwhelming at first (there’s actually a glossary of Nadsat language included in the back of my copy of the book,) the reader eventually gets used to seeing certain terms repeated, and the definition of other Nadsat words may be gleaned from the context in which they’re used.  I think the use of this “language” is part of the reason for the book’s timelessness.  The fictional slang often takes the place of words that might otherwise date the material more.

The novel has three main parts, the first of which opens on Alex and his gang’s path of drugging, rape, and violence on a typical (for them) night in the city.  Supposedly inspired by actual events of violence and juvenile delinquency experienced by the author and his family, the novel is a scathing (and still very relevant) political text on the condition of youth violence and the idea of free will, with harrowing consequences.

Anyway…all of this amounts to… it’s a hell of a book and you should read it.

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Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Women (updated)

Pursuant to the massacre at Newtown and President Obama’s subsequent attempt to institute a stricter gun policy, there has been a tight focus on gun rights and an immense push to make our schools safer for our children.  Needless to say, the result is that the divide between gun rights advocates and gun control advocates is widening.

I have always leaned towards agreeing with the right to own a gun and protect oneself and one’s family.  That said, I believe the words gun control have gotten a bad rap.  Somewhere along the way, the idea of moderation, of common sense, got lost to both sides and the words gun control became synonymous with  “complete firearm ban.”

I do believe control is the issue.  I think people who own firearms need to better secure them against theft and illicit use (even by members of their own families.)  I think gun owners should be held to the strictest responsibility for their firearms.  I do not feel there should be a total ban on firearms.

The aim of this article though is to give some food for thought to both sides by introducing a slightly different perspective on the gun rights issue.  This is merely information…information backed by statistics and scientific inquiry.

I doubt there is anything worse than what happened at Sandy Hook in December, but this information shifts the focus of gun victimization.  To women.

Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.(source)

This is women, killed by men who legally own their firearms.  In short, it suggests a link between the availability of household firearms and female victimization rates.  

Of course, the first argument against this concept is that a man who would beat on his wife should not be allowed to own weapons, and there are laws that prohibit the purchase of a firearm by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order.  But that is true only of known abusers.  What about the women who have not reported their abuse?

Approximately 20% of the 1.5 million people who experience intimate partner violence annually obtain civil protection
orders. (source)

As I said before, I’m not really trying to push a partisan view of the gun issue, I’m merely hoping to give both gun control advocates and gun rights advocates more information…

And perhaps help them to see we should all be working together towards a solution to end gun violence, rather than fighting against one another.  Maybe if we try to view the problem collectively- and objectively- we can come up with a solution that protects everyone’s rights and safety.

image: HR Giger

image: HR Giger

After yet another mass shooting, by a homegrown (that’s American) Islamic terrorist,  using mostly “legally” purchased firearms…in a club with armed “good guys” (security guards)…

Analysis by the Violence Policy Center has found that at least 29 mass shootings since 2007 were carried out BY perpetrators with concealed carry permits. That’s more than three times the number of concealed permit holders who prevented mass shootings through their swift action. (source)

I am tired of banging my head against a wall arguing with people who let their emotions mold the “facts” to suit them.  To be very clear, it doesn’t matter how you “feel” about it, or how much you support 2nd Amendment rights; it is a documented fact that increased gun ownership in a developed county leads to increased gun deaths in that country.  Not only is it documented, it is common fucking sense

The number of firearms injuries remains high in the United States, compared with most of the rest of the world. Firearm suicide rates are strongly impacted by the rate of gun ownership. (Kaplan and Geling, 1998) There is a positive correlation between firearm fatality rates and number of guns in developed nations.  (Bangalore and Messerli, 2013) (source)

One thing remains certain, despite laws for or against gun control, a lack of care and concern regarding one’s fellow human beings, whether in war or through domestic violence, will continue to promote firearms injuries. (source)

STFU- Violence and Taking Responsibility

We are living in a world I almost don’t recognize.  Or maybe I just wish I didn’t recognize it.  We live in a world where parents can murder their own children and then lie about it while a whole country looks on.  We live in a world where a man can murder his pregnant wife, and where kids go to school and shoot up the place, with reasonable expectations, or even plans, of dying.  A place where people do drugs they know could lead them to acts of cannibalism and violence and kids feed firecrackers to dogs.

And if everybody whines enough- about their jobs, their parents, society- there’s even a chance of getting away with these horrible crimes.  Or being paid money.

All of us “normal” people are clamoring for an explanation, an end to the violence.  So, after quite a few conversations in this vein, I have decided to blog my ideas on the topic.  Now let me start with a disclaimer:

The following is my opinion and is based on all my education, experience, discussions, and observations.  While I do have a BS in Psychology and Sociology, I am by no means an expert.  Nor is my opinion rooted in theology. I’m not going to tell you everything would be “fixed” if we put God back into the schools.  The problem facing America (and many other industrialized nations) is complex, therefore the answer will also be complex.  For each act of violence there may often be “mitigating” circumstances.  Sociological causes (basically, how society influences the behavior of individuals) and psychological causes have been suggested.

I was abused as a child so I … [blah blah blah]

or It’s because we are so poor that I had to [blah blah blah]

I’m not even going to say these things aren’t sometimes factors.  However, I think there is way more flagrant violence than can be accounted for legitimately with these excuses.

And I can’t tell you how it burns me up, every time some school kid goes on a rampage and then it comes out “he listened to heavy metal,” or “he played violent video games.”

So let me tell you what I think a BIG part of the problem is…

Lack of accountability.   Yup.  That’s it.  Every time a parent sues someone over some little transgression, they are teaching their children that if you don’t get your way, you can basically bully someone into doing what you want.  Really, what are frivolous lawsuits but attempts to legally bully someone?

And any time a kid shoots at someone or kills his parents or a sibling, there’s a whole league of people waiting hand the kid his excuses on a silver platter.  I feel like this kid who took a shotgun to Perry Hall High is a perfect example.  He has seen on television how he can walk into a school and shoot it up, make whatever inane point by doing so, and then escape facing any consequences by killing himself or having the cops kill him.  I’m not saying TV is at fault.  I’m saying he has learned that he can “make a statement” dramatically because others have done it before him and there have been no real consequences.  After all, what consequences can you expect if you’re dead?  But the whole point is that people have been led to believe that they are entitled somehow.  I am all for equality and compassion and tolerance of others, but the country has gone so far down the Politically Correct road, that now everybody feels like they are owed something, and every time someone wins a lawsuit over some dumb shit, it reinforces the idea of non-culpability and entitlement.  

Every time a burglar gets bit by his victim’s dog or cuts himself on his victim’s kitchen knife and then wins a lawsuit about it, our own legal system is enforcing the idea that you can not only escape responsibility for your actions, but actually profit from them.

Casey Anthony is another example (barf.)  This bitch led a whole nation on an emotional hunt for a child she already KNEW was dead.  At this point, let’s even assume she didn’t intentionally kill the baby.  She willfully covered it up and lied repeatedly about it.  And really, she’s basically gotten away with it, with a slap on the wrist, a butt-load of attention (which I’m sure she loved in all her sophomoric twisted-ness), and probably an even bigger butt-load of offers for made-for-tv movies and interviews and whatever.  It’s sick.

How about the newest thing, bath salts?  After several documented cases of cannibal-like behavior resulting from the use of bath salts, this asshole  is deemed “not competent” to stand trial for being found in his bedroom with a dead pygmy goat.  A pygmy goat he stole, allegedly raped, and then butchered.  Well, by all means, let’s cart him off to a mental facility for 6 months, let him out, and then when he does the same thing to a human victim, maybe THEN he’ll be competent to stand trial.

My bad. I thought if you willingly ingested mind-altering substances, you were held responsible for any illegal actions you might commit while on said substances…

So, basically, he was crazy before he ever took the drugs?  Oh, well than that’s different.  Next time, just don’t let him out without his leash and everything will be fine.

And please can we just stop with the over-simplistic and ignorant answers to the problem?  It’s not Marilyn Manson or violent video games and movies.  I am a 31 year old mother and a wife and I have listened to metal, watched horror movies with a passion, and played video games since…forever.  I’d not stomp a spider, let alone kill a person in cold blood.  By the time a child gets to the appropriate age for such games and films, he/she should be old enough to know right from wrong and real from imaginary…and if the kid is still young and still learning these delicate worldly ideas, then maybe the parents should be held responsible for allowing said child access to media that is too mature (violent) for them in the first place.

It’s not lack of God in the schools.  Thanks; I’m not religious, yet my code of ethics and my level of tolerance is undoubtedly stronger than many so-called religious people.  God hates fags?  Really?  Did he tell you that himself?  Didn’t he also say “judge not…”?  Last time I checked, God doesn’t preach hate.  

(And here’s a real mind-fuck… How many church “people” have you heard of who disparage the violence and sexuality in today’s music and TV?  Okay, now, how many church officials have you heard of who have been caught molesting children? My point here is not necessarily to disparage religion, but to point out that there are many good people who are not religious, and many religious people who are not necessarily good.   Also, as indicative of the above passage, a lot of people hide behind religion as a way to justify hate.)

It’s not our DNA or our “killer” instinct…  And even if it was, the whole idea behind being human is that we have higher thought processes, and here’s a novel idea– the ability to exert self-control and make conscious decisions.

I’m not saying my theory holds the key to the ultimate solution.  The things that drive people to violence are varied and often complex.  Violence could never be completely eradicated.  But we can start by adopting a lower tolerance to it.  This starts at home, and it’s up to the legal system to enforce the idea of consequences and accountability out in the “real world.”  Let’s not forget that the rules appear to be different for folks with fame/and or money.  Kids see their pop culture icons getting away with all sorts of crap.   The little girls who used to be in the Mickey Mouse club are crashing into people with their cars while they’re drunk and yet some people are worried about a video games corrupting kids?

Get your head on straight, people.

And this may sound counterproductive in combating violence in society…but have you ever met teen that was so obnoxious you couldn’t help but think maybe their parents should have smacked them around more during their formative years?  I know I have.

For instance, if I ever saw MY kid run into a pregnant lady and then give her lip when she said something about it, I’d cuff ’em right in the ear (this happened to me at the public pool when I was pregnant.)  The other day I saw a lady (and I use the term loosely) allowing her dog to shit in a common public area.  When I asked her if she planned to pick it up (she had no bag or anything with her) she gave me a raft of shit (no pun intended.)  How hard is it to understand that I don’t need my small child trampling through your dog’s mess?  Is it untoward for me to request she pick up after the nasty little beast?  This woman, this huge she-beast who lives with her adult daughter on HUD assistance had the nerve to tell me I needed to get a job!  All because I called her out on something she knew was wrong in the first place.

Apparently, as there are no consequences for being an asshole (you’d get sued for knocking the teeth out of someone being disrespectful to you now,) people feel free to throw courtesy right out the window.

Seriously, ignorance aside (even though it drives me absolutely batshit,) I fear for my child in this world.  It makes me want to move my family to some isolated mountain in Montana or something.

Anyway, sorry if I sound preachy.  This stuff really irks the piss out of me, and I pretty much feel helpless to do anything to change the majority of it.  I can teach my kids solid values and responsibility, but there’s no way for me to force the rest of the world to act like civilized human beings.  I just have to arm my kid with knowledge and then hope for the best.  And that scares the crap out of me.

English: McDonalds' sign in Harlem.

By the way, while we’re talking about “responsibility,” it’s not McDonald’s fault that you’re fat.

Turkish Woman Beheads Rapist…right on

Note to my readers: While I realize this woman’s name and photo are now a matter of public knowledge, out of respect for her and other victims of sexual violence, I have refrained from mentioning her name or posting her picture.  Thank you.

A 26-year-old Turkish woman, who was impregnated by her rapist, reportedly shot and beheaded her alleged attacker to protect her honor. ~ Huffington Post    Continue reading

The Hunger Games: Hungry for More?

*a review of Catching Fire, this article may contain possible spoilers for this novel and the first novel, The Hunger Games

So, pursuant to my last entry, I just finished reading the second installment in the Hunger Games series (okay, I don’t know if that’s what the series is actuallycalled, but by now, everyone who isn’t living under a rock has probably at least seen that name on a book or movie poster somewhere.)

Continue reading