Book Review #22

Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven

Mark Twain, making fun of Christians’ beliefs about heaven. 

The book: Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven

The author: Mark Twain = Samuel Langhorne Clemens

The review: This is a short story written by Mark Twain, about 1868. It was not published until 1909 – 41 years later – because it was thought to insult all the Good Christians.

The story follows Captain Elias Stormfield on his decades-long cosmic journey to Heaven; his accidental misplacement after racing a comet; his short-lived interest in singing and playing the harp (generated by his preconceptions of heaven); and the general obsession of souls with the celebrities of Heaven such as Adam, Moses, and Elijah, who according to Twain become as distant to most people in Heaven as living celebrities are on Earth (an early parody of celebrity culture). Twain uses this story to show his view that the common conception of Heaven is ludicrous, and points out the incongruities of such beliefs with his characteristic adroit usage of hyperbole.

Much of the story’s description is given by the character Sandy McWilliams, a cranberry farmer who is very experienced in the ways of Heaven. Sandy gives Stormfield, a newcomer, the description in the form of a conversational question-and-answer session. The Heaven described by him is similar to the conventional Christian Heaven, but includes a larger version of all the locations on Earth, as well as of everywhere in the universe (which mention of, albeit as a backdrop, is the last science fiction element).

All sentient life-forms travel to Heaven, often through interplanetary or interstellar space, and land at a particular gate (which are without number), which is reserved for people from that originating planet. Each newcomer must then give his name and planet of origin to a gatekeeper, who sends him in to Heaven.

Once inside, the person spends eternity living as it thinks fit, usually according to its true (sometimes undiscovered) talent. According to one of the characters, a cobbler who “has the soul of a poet in him won’t have to make shoes here,” implying that he would instead turn to poetry and achieve perfection in it.

On special occasions a procession of the greatest people in history is formed; on the occasion of Stormfield’s arrival, this includes Buddha, William Shakespeare, Homer, Mohammed, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah plus several otherwise unknown people whose talents far exceeded those of the world’s pivotal figures, but who were never famous on Earth.

As Stormfield proceeds through Heaven he learns that the conventional image of angels as winged, white-robed figures bearing haloes, harps, and palm leaves is a mere illusion generated for the benefit of humans, who mistake “figurative language” for accurate description (the wings are part of their uniforms, and not functionally wings); that all of Heaven’s denizens choose their ages, thus aligning themselves with the time of life at which they were most content; that anything desired is awarded to its seeker, if it does not violate any prohibition; that the prohibitions themselves are different from those envisioned on Earth; that each of the Earth-like regions of Heaven includes every human being who has ever lived on it; that families are not always together forever, because of decisions made by those who have died first; that white-skinned people are a minority in Heaven; that kings are not kings in Heaven (Charles II is a comedian while Henry VI has a religious book-stand), etc.

Making fun of slavery was one thing, but making fun of people’s cherished Christian beliefs was something else entirely. This book never did well, and even many Twain aficionados are not aware of it.

 

’19 A To Z Challenge – S

AtoZ2019Letter S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The judge asked the accused in a paternity suit, “Have you ever slept with this woman?”
He replied, “Not a wink, Your Honor! Not a wink!”

Bed

Without even thinking about it (and that’s what causes problems) most people expect social conformity.

Despite my liking for archaic language, there are just some 19th century insults that should not be brought back. Have you ever been called a

SLUGABED

a lazy person who stays in bed long after the usual time for arising

Neither have I. Not quite.

Late one Sunday night (by my calculations), about 4:30 AM, I walked down to the end of my driveway to pick up Monday’s newspaper. I arrived at the same time as my neighbor across the street, who was putting out Monday’s garbage.

Full of perk, and perhaps perked coffee, he brightly said, “Oh, I see that you’re up early too. I have to drive to Ottawa today (5/6 hours), so I thought I’d get an early start.”

I told him that I wasn’t getting up. I was about to go to bed at 5:00 AM, and would be back up at 1 PM. “You sleep in till 1 o’clock??! How in Hell do you get anything done?” I had just spent four quiet, productive hours – half a workday – on the computer. It was fine for him to modify and set his sleep hours, getting up at 4 AM, rather than at 7:00, to suit his needs, but he felt that I was wasting time by doing the same thing, to fit my schedule and my usual time.

There was no ASSUME here. The only ass was the one trapped in a car for hours, while I recharged my energy in a nice soft bed. He didn’t make me into one. 😯

Now that I’m awake again, feel free to comment.   😀

High Drama – Low Comedy

Trudeau

Okay! Move along, move along! Nothin’ to see here. Just another Canadian political rant.

I got another Op-Ed letter published. I shouldn’t phrase it like that. I get almost all my submitted letters published. With print newspapers dying, and readers going to social media, the papers are grateful for any Op-Ed letters. It used to be a contest, and the local paper published 4 -6 letters every day. Now, there’s only 2 letters per issue, and often none.

Blackface

Still…. I had this to say about our pretty, young (and pretty young) Prime Minister.

Many people, probably Liberal party supporters, want to excuse Justin Trudeau’s Blackface incident, saying that he did not mean to insult anyone. This is true, because Trudeau is far too narcissistic to care about insulting other races.

If it were an isolated incident, performed by an adolescent, it might be understandable, but it’s only one in a string of bad social choices – a blackface, two brownfaces, and his Mr. Dressup tour of India.

At 29, well beyond adolescence, he attended a black-tie society dinner. 500 guests, 249 men dressed in tuxedos, and Ali Baba Justin showed up – poorly.

We don’t need a drama student, or teacher. We need a mature statesman to lead the country, not an entitled rich kid, leading a high school musical!

India

This is our Prime Minister, Canada. Ain’tcha glad??! This makes Trump look good. Remember this on our upcoming Election Day.

’18 A To Z Challenge – Bipolar Disorder

Pot Smoker

The hippie days of peace, love, beads, and acceptance of other people and their foibles, are long dead. The Age of Information has created more strongly held, and stridently expressed opinions.  I think we can all agree that, despite the push for a more tolerant and more sensitive society, it seems that when given the opportunity to be unkind, people still tend towards putting others down (especially when they have anonymity or the distance that a computer screen provides).

The ‘highway’ is too often clogged with intolerance, now it’s just “My way, or I’ll hate you.” It doesn’t seem to matter what the issue – abortion, religion, politics – often mixed together, there just seems to be no middle ground anymore.  Nobody wants to listen to the other guy.  It’s become two greatly divergent solitudes, neither side ‘winning’, but screaming louder and louder, to appear to.

Red States – Blue States – The United States may soon become the Un-United States. It’s as close to Civil War as it has been for over a century and a half.  Political ‘dialog’ often degenerates to the likes of:

Democrats are treasonous bastards.
Republicans come from lesbian free-thinkers

God's Kingdom and Politics

The Democrats once again want to tear this country apart simply for slavery.  What disgusting selfish, evil scumbags these partisan shitstains show themselves to be. Again, the lying, lack of remorse, pervasive harm and pain, and mocking of well accepted standards and boundaries, this is the basis of evil, folks.

I am saddened by the rift in the United States, because people are less able to discuss the issues and ideas, and much more able to insult the fact that an idea is either left or right. The ridicule and the name calling on political affiliation has turned political dialog into hateful attacks.

Insulting the people who lean one way or the other does not bring our current society forward. We won’t always agree, but we can take a look at what the other side is attempting to achieve.

Come on kids, play nice with each other. As David Bowie asks in his song, Under Pressure, “Why can’t we all just get along, get along, get along??” At least listen to why the other fellow thinks and feels the way he does. Nobody learns anything while he’s doing the talking, and nobody gets his way all the time! 😯

Alright, Let’s See What’s Left

Lefty

Well, this is

AWKWARD

In this episode of, We Hate You Because You’re Different” we look at ‘handedness’.

  1. lacking skill or dexterity.

Synonyms: clumsy, inept; unskillful, unhandy, inexpert.

Antonyms: deft, adroit, skillful, dexterous; handy.

lacking grace or ease in movement: an awkward gesture;

an awkward dancer.

Synonyms: uncoordinated, graceless, ungainly; gawky; maladroit; clumsy.

Antonyms: graceful.

lacking social graces or manners:

a simple, awkward frontiersman.

Synonyms: gauche, unpolished, unrefined; blundering, oafish; ill-mannered, unmannerly, ill-bred.

Antonyms: gracious; polite, well-mannered, well-bred; smooth, polished, refined. 4.

not well planned or designed for easy or effective use: an awkward instrument;

an awkward method.

Synonyms: unwieldy, cumbersome, unmanageable; inconvenient, difficult, troublesome.

requiring caution; somewhat hazardous:

an awkward turn in the road.

Synonyms: dangerous, risky, unsafe, chancy; perilous, precarious, treacherous.

hard to deal with; difficult; requiring skill, tact, or the like: an awkward situation;

an awkward customer.

embarrassing or inconvenient; caused by lack of social grace:

an awkward moment.

Synonyms: unpleasant, trying, difficult; uncomfortable, ticklish, touchy.

It comes from an Old Norse word that means ‘turned the wrong way,’ always with the implication of somehow being in error.

I backed into this word and its myriad definitions, from ‘maladroit,’ above. There is not a synonym above which is not negative, judgemental, and/or insulting.  The word ‘gauche’ in French, means ‘left.’  The only one that seems to be missing is the opposite for dexter/dexterous, which means right.  Its opposite is ‘sinister.’

Southpaws in today’s modern society are three times as likely to have a home or work-related accident. Everything from can-openers to computer mice are designed for use by right-handed people.  Only British lefties, driving floor-shift cars, gain an advantage.

The antipathy toward left-handed people is still surprisingly strong, and has been going on for millennia. (Most of) the Jews have been brought into the 20th Century on this issue.  Being faced with a lefty can get a Muslim’s panties turban in a knot.  If only we could get the Little Sheet-Head Arabs at least into the 9th.

If you sit with a Muslim, and cross your left leg over your right, pointing your left foot toward him, he is insulted. The Koran is strongly specific, even about which hand you can use to wipe your ass.  It also details what 1200-year out-of-date material you must use to wipe it with.  The modern, educated, observant, Muslim businessman’s washroom is liberally supplied with fresh burdock leaves.

The lengths to which some (religious) people will go, to prevent Us from becoming like Them, can be sadly amusing.  During the Middle Ages – also correctly known as the Dark Ages – Christians didn’t bathe….because Jews did.

’17 A To Z Challenge

The Oxford English Dictionary just called up to tell me that I’m a distracted old fool. I managed to publish my Challenge post for the letter R, before the one for Q.  Oh well, back to kindergarten….A, B, C, D  😳

Challenge2017

letter-q

Queer as a Nine-Dollar bill….  The world, or at least The United States, has become more and more polarized.  Once, not long ago, the above phrase would merely have indicated an oddity.  Now, the word ‘queer’ is an epithet, an insult, an attack, an accusation.

It was once said that, “The man who does not trust himself – beats his wife.” Now apparently, the men(?) who don’t trust themselves –beat up on faggots – or guys they think are homos – or who might be homosexual.

More and more, the moral absolutists have highjacked the language for their own narrow-minded purposes. The word gay once meant happy, carefree, merry, pleasurable, brilliant, or brightly-colored.  Now, the first 10 definitions in the dictionary are all about homosexuality.  You have to search way down to the bottom, to remember Happy Days.  The singer Marvin Gay got so much nasty harassment from his high school mates, that he legally changed his name to Marvin Gaye.

A Queen (as opposed to the Queen) used to be just a cross-dresser.  He might, or might not, bat (or catch) for the other team.  Nowadays, even if he’s got an understanding wife, and four kids, it’s assumed, and loudly proclaimed, that he must be gay.

Besides the late Freddy Mercury, I don’t know which of the members of the rock group Queen are homosexual.  I don’t care!  I come for the music, not the moral judgement.  I remember the comic/actor David Spade telling a talk-show host about going to his first Queen concert, and watching the boys doing a lot of bum-bumping on stage.  Even the name, QUEEN, hadn’t tipped him off.

When I was young, the word sissy merely indicated a guy who preferred to stay at home and read, or, Heaven forbid, study.  Now, if you’re not out on the playing field, getting your ass handed to you by the bully-boy jocks, sissy must mean gay.  I chuckle, because more often than is realized, that sensitive, understanding (gay) sissy is screwing the jock’s girlfriend while he tutors her in calculus.

I think I’m quite finished for now, but don’t you quit on me.  I’ll see you here again soon.  😀

WOW #13

Grumpy Old Dude

Okay, I don’t mind when Dictionary.com gives Donald Trump a hard time. He deserves it.  I take strong exception, though, when they start to insult me.  This week, they chose the word:

Cantankerous

Definitions for cantankerous disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish: a cantankerous, argumentative man.

Origin of cantankerous

1765-1775

Cantankerous seems as apt in sound and meaning as honk or boom. One earlier spelling of the word is contankerous, which suggests its development from Middle English contak, conteke “quarrel, disagreement,” from which are formed contecker, contekour “one who causes dissension.” An unattested adjective conteckerous, contakerous could have been formed on the models of traitorous or rancorous or contentious. Cantankerous entered English in the 18th century.

* Standards

I don’t feel that it’s nice for them to describe me as difficult to deal with, or contentious. I am easily pleased. I will happily accept perfection. I also think that it was unnecessary to claim that I am peevish. I may have a few (okay, a bunch of) pet peeves. I have raised them from kittens, until now, they can eat raw meat.

The son works a midnight shift, driving to work late in the evening, and coming home early in the morning, on nearly abandoned streets. When he occasionally has to accompany me somewhere during the day, and watches me pilot through volume of traffic, and the vehicular antics of Kitchener’s ‘So, You Think You Can Drive,’ he has been known to declare, “I hate people!”

I don’t hate everybody. I don’t know everybody. I certainly don’t hate anyone who comes to this site and reads my screeds, so you guys are all safe.

Thor

WOW #9

Donald Trump

A comedian once claimed that Michael Jackson was the punch line to every joke.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“Michael Jackson!”

Mikey is no longer with us, but we do have Donald Trump to replace him. Dictionary.com usually doesn’t give a reason for the inclusion of any particular Word of the Day, often making me wonder about words like, stravage, portmanteau and middlescence.

Recently though, they’ve been blaming it on Trump. They admitted that paralogize was chosen because of his tendency to draw incorrect conclusions from the facts available.  More recently they blamed him and his political team’s ALTERNATIVE FACTS for the resurrection of;

newspeak

Definitions for newspeak (sometimes initial capital letter)
an official or semi-official style of writing or saying one thing in the guise of its opposite, especially in order to serve a political or ideological cause while pretending to be objective, as in referring to “increased taxation” as “revenue enhancement.”

Origin of newspeak

Newspeak was coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, which was published in 1949.

They gave no attribution, but Trump must be on their minds because, with paralogize there were whiffler, bonzer and juggernaut, and between paralogize and newspeak, there have been scapegrace, malfeasance, pedagogy, muckraker and troglodyte.

As Jay Leno said about the re-election of George W. Bush, with Trump at the helm of the Ship of State, we have at least four, and perhaps eight more years, of the jokes (and insults) writing themselves.

😳

 

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Birthday Cake

As threatened promised last week, this is my birthday-blog roast-post. What have you got to say about it?

71 years ago today, I burst upon the scene in a small Ontario town, and I haven’t stopped talking since. Today, I promise to keep it down to just my Elvis impression – Thenk yoo! Thenk yoo vurry much! This is your day to make any and all comments, suggestions, and (humorous) insults.

Do I feel lucky, punk?? Well, do I? Go ahead – make my day!

I hope I enjoy this as much as you.

Lay on MacDuff,
and cursed be he
who first cries,
Enough!

Welcome, and thank you to all my visitors!

 

ARCHON

Upscale Insults

More high-class ways to put down friends, family, and fellow workers, who really need it.  Are there ever too many??

*****

Have you taken your ugly pills this morning?

Someone must have really hit you hard with an ugly stick.

You must have been a beautiful baby – what happened?

Body by Nautilus – Brain by Fisher-Price

I’m sorry I made you cry – but your face is cleaner now.

I’d love to take you home – but I forgot the leash.

You ought to be on the stage.  There’s one leaving in 15 minutes.

I live near the cliff.  Drop over some time.

Stop smiling; don’t you have work to do?

Get lost!  We have no “found” department.

As an outsider, what do you think of the human race?

Why, I don’t think you’re two-faced at all.  If you had two, you wouldn’t always wear the ugly one.

You’re making a fool of yourself, and I’ve never seen finer craftsmanship.

I love your new hairdo.  I never realized steel wool could look so becoming.

Fly away with me….we’ll use your broomstick.

Your heart’s in the right place.  It’s your head that worries me!

Darling, you’re my whole world – fat and round.

Some are born beautiful; some are born smart, I’m sorry you’re a two-time loser.

You have a truly timeless beauty – your face would stop a clock.

You sure are outstanding in your field, and that’s where you should be, out, standing in your field.

Let’s tie the knot – around your neck.

Have you ever considered acting—like a human being?

You’re one in a million – and the other 999,999 are sure happy.

I don’t know what makes you tick.  I think it’s a time-bomb.

Darling, you came to me out of nowhere…Go back!

Is that really your head, or is your neck blowing bubblegum?

I hate human beings.  You, I like.

Aren’t you Tina Turner’s sister, Stomach Turner?

Or perhaps you’re related to Bob Hope, No Hope?

Lorna Doone’s granddaughter – Nothin’ Doone?

What a cute skirt.  What did you make with the rest of the tablecloth?

I love you.  But then, I have horrible taste.

I’d like to take you home to dear old Dad….who hasn’t had a good laugh in years.

Is it true your brother’s an only child?

You’ve got a photographic mind – Too bad it never developed.

Shut your mouth—You’ll lose your candy.

You have that certain nothing.

As long as you have a minute to spare, tell me all you know.

If there’s nothing to be said, I’m sure you’ll say it.

I’d like to help you out.  Which way did you come in?

It’s good to see you’re back, especially after seeing your face.

Go gargle with peanut butter.

When I want your opinion, I’ll rattle your cage.

Gee, you look good….have you been sick?

Why don’t you stop in for dinner sometime, if you don’t mind imposing?

Why don’t you go sit on a tack, and offer lap-dances?

Why don’t you go over to police headquarters and volunteer as a missing person?

*****

And now for something a little more cerebral

THE SEX LIFE OF AN ELECTRON

One night, when his charge was high, Micro Farad decided to try and find a cute little coil to discharge into.  He picked up Milli Amp, and took her for a ride on his megacycle.  They rode across the Wheatstone Bridge, and parked in a magnetic field, near a flowing current.

Micro Farad soon became attracted to Milli Amp’s characteristics curves, and finally had her resistance at a minimum.  With his field fully charged, he laid her on the ground potential, raised her frequency, lowered her capacitance, and pulled out his high-voltage probe.  He inserted it into her socket, connecting them in parallel, and began to short circuit her shunt.

Fully excited, Milli Amp cried, MHO, MHO, give me MHO!  With his tube operating at a maximum peak, and her coil vibrating from the current flows, she quickly reached her maximum.

The excess current flow had got him hot, and Micro Farad was rapidly discharging, and drained of every electron.

They fluxed all night, trying various connections and sockets, until his bar magnet lost all of its field strength.

Afterwards, Milli Amp tried self-induction, and damaged her solenoid.  With his battery fully discharged, Micro Farad was unable to excite his generator, so they ended up by reversing polarities and started to blow each other’s fuses.