An Antisocial Experiment
There are endless social movements dedicated to improving people by requiring them not to be like people. Depending on your point of view this activity lies somewhere between education and brainwashing. I am old fashioned to the degree that I believe a person is influenced by both her upbringing and whatever chemistry is peculiar to her. You do your best to raise a child and if she grows up to be a doctor or a teacher you share in the credit, if she turns out to be a Josephine Mengela or the incarnation of Lizzie Borden, you shoulder some of the blame.
A person can improve. But people, as a whole, seldom do because there are “leaders” who want you to do as they command and will reward “good behavior” with letting you spend your life gazing into your phone and punish “bad thoughts” with unsupported accusations and placing you under the spotlight on the scaffold for a good old fashioned cyberstoning. This has been going on in one form or another since the invention of the third person–the first child who decides that her parents should be severely sanctioned for bringing her into this overlighted, loud and dreary existence, as well as not allowing her to have a phone until she can use one responsibly.
I usually like to confirm my ideas by performing antisocial experiments on unwitting family members. Last week I was at my brother’s house and an episode of The Twilight Zone was on TV. It was the one where a prisoner is sentenced to live alone on a planetoid for some undisclosed offense. Utterly alone in a place that suspiciously resembles the Nevada desert. A sympathetic supply ship Commander leaves the prisoner a “special package.” The crate contains a female robot named “Alicia”–who is in all ways a woman, save for having civil rights.
This inspired me to perform an antisocial experiment on Jack.
“Jack, isn’t it wonderful that the prisoner has a girlfriend?”
He muttered something that sounded a lot like “Jesus, what now?”
“What?” (All snotty-like.)
“How long do you think it was before he did the lady robot?”
Instead of feigning indignation at the coarse nature of my inquiry, Jack thought it over, and said “Twenty minutes, tops.”
My antisocial experiment supported one inescapable fact: All heterosexual men are lying swine. Hell, I doubt that ten minutes passed before the prisoner raped the lady robot named Alicia.
What I’ve shared above pretty much describes social media anthropology. You grab whatever evidence supports your preconceived conclusion and put it “in print’–a status that has held “it must be true” status since the dawn of anti-social awakening.
Still, not everything you read is a bald-faced lie designed to control your behavior. Good fiction has the paradoxical quality of being true even though its parts are all made up. This week five authors appeared on the site, and each one told the truth via fiction.
The Five Magi
I wrote “The Five Magi” prior to checking this week’s “playlist.” I must change that to “Four Magi” and a follower, for a reason that will be soon evident. Two made their site debut, two others appeared a third time and the follower is as inevitable as junk mail in the box.
Monday marked the site debut of Olivia Austin. Seroquel is a tense and harrowing piece of work that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go until the finish. Then the thought of it echoes, as it should. Although it is irrelevant to her work, Ms. Austin is the youngest writer to ever appear on the site. I will not disclose her age anymore than I will my weight; but since I have brain damage older than Olivia, I do believe that she will be shining brightly for decades to come.
On Tuesday my Pie-Eyed Peety and the Prohibitionist: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical wandered onto the site, the way pigeons are known to do. I apologize for any sins that the PDQ Pilsner mascot may have committed.
A sense of class was quickly restored Wednesday when Monika R. Martyn’s lovely Hacienda of Love appeared. It is beautiful and depressing at the same time. Beautiful and depressing items are always true. This is Monika’s third story with us; all are top notch.
A rare fairly complicated suspense piece graced Thursday. So often stories with many moving parts need more than three thousand words to breathe in, yet first time contributor Phil Hurst’s Too Close to Hell is a fine exception. The flow and danger of the piece are easy to get into and the ending is perfect.
Antony Osgood closed the week Friday with a penetrating look at a delusional family dictator ignorant of the quiet rebellion around him in As If He Still Drives a Capri. Antony has a lyrical almost narcotic style that is a balm to the haggard senses.
Technically speaking, this is my first week wrap that doesn’t contain a story by Yash. Oh ho! Not so fast–Mr. Seyedbagheri was the rerun feature last Sunday, so it is apparent that his fine work is ever hard by, which is a fine thing.
How about a hand–better yet a few comments below the stories mentioned above. That, after all, is how we show our appreciation.
A Special Announcement
Next week we celebrate our seventh anniversary. We hope that everyone attends. Feel free to bring the kids, as long as that happens only in a virtual sort of way.
I now leave you with a little song and dance I call
More From Hell’s Jukebox: The Love Songs
(Last slot left open for your own disliked drippy)
- Silly Love Songs–Paul McCartney (I omit “Wings” because Sir Paul is at fault here. I truly despise this song.)
- Three Times a Lady–Lionel Ritchie (I omit “Commodores” for the same reason I excuse Wings.)
- I Will Always Love You–Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton (Equal blame. I swear if I hear it one more time…)
- Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby—David Soul (Once upon a time a hit show got you a record deal. Thank you Napster for crushing that goddamn nonsense.)
- IOU–Jimmy Dean the sausage king. (Technically not a love song, but it involves affection and is well hated by me.)
- Hang on Sloopy-–The McCoys (Gawwwwddd how I cannot stand “I don’t care what your daddy do.”)
- Moody River–Pat Boone (Hell wouldn’t be as toasty without this song.)
- Patches–Dickey Lee (So awful that even Google refuses to admit to this song’s existence until you dig. It tries to give you a country soul song of the same name from 1970.)
- You Light Up My Life–Debby Boone (Proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In this case from seven to nine. When I first heard it I thought it was some kind of joke. It was. On me.)
- Add as many as you wish. Hell is everlasting.
Hello Popped in to have a nose around as a quick breather from the current WIP which is turning out to be hard labour and spotted a list. Oh good I thought a list and then I saw two spaces – only two – jeepers I’m sure Hugh’ll have the ‘Teddy Bear truck driver one so I don’t have to worry about that. Old Yeller is too old for most people to remember so that’s fine. Now my mum’s gone on to the great Karaoke in the sky I don’t need to fear The Little Boy That Santa Clause Forgot. So you know, phew.
So anything by ABBA – used to like em – can’t take em now – they’re like a suger bun with sugar on it and extra sugar to dip it in. So – Two erm – That horrible Isn’t she Lovely – especially that version with the laughing child at the end. Makes my toes curl that does. Number two has to be I Just Called to Say I Love You – honestly with so much good music why – just Why. Sorry – I’ll go now. Chapter 56 is waiting.