All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 406:Beware of the Vicars of Obfuscation; the Week that Remains and the Eight Articles of Rat Bastard

Beware the Vicars of Obfuscation

I recently saw a documentary in which a scientist discussing the Big Bang said that there is a condition in which something can arise from nothing but went on to say that it is too difficult to explain what that means. Although I am positive that there are lots of equations in the explanation, the scientist was guilty of a form of religious hypocrisy; he behaved as though it were a secret knowledge to be dispensed to the unwashed by the learned on a need to know basis. The way it was with the clergy of the middle ages.

You see, I know what he’d say if I claimed the following: A Donkey named Herbert is God. And on the day Herbert finally waves his tail a giant twelve-headed Newt named Maybelle will descend from the sky and a great era of Peace will begin.

If I told that to the scientist the best I would hear is “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” To which I would retort that claiming something can rise from nothing is an extraordinary claim, too. And yet you offer no evidence other than to infer that people are too stupid to understand what you avoid explaining.

For centuries, holy books were not translated to common tongues even though the Word was for all. The wisdom was dispensed on a need to know basis by clerics. I am not saying that Herbert and the Newt are valid as information gleaned by the Scientific Method, or that science withholds information in an effort to control people, but if you have great knowledge and are unable or unwilling to make it clear to the masses, the fault lies with you, not the peasants. Effective people communicate difficult concepts clearly.

I’ve discovered that this idea applies to writing. I’ve often read pieces in which there is a great war between the writer and an idea that is unwilling to expose itself. It happens to me all the time. When the unwilling idea wins confusion rules, when the writer wins it is usually because s/he has simplified the language. Lengthy sentences are broken into multiple short statements and fancy adjectives and adverbs are trimmed. Moreover, you can tell when a writer is in trouble if s/he has retreated to the defensive posture of the passive voice.

I’m not an expert. I am not educated beyond High School, and there I had got the impression that my diploma wasn’t as much earned as it was awarded to get rid of me. But anyone can write, and, if I may, I highly recommend for persons who write English, that there be a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White handy. I’m looking at my battered old copy at this moment, and I find it valuable to the degree that it never leaves my desk. Currently it resides between a bluetooth speaker and my Catbert pen cup.

The “Little Book” as it has been known for decades excels at aiding writers down the best path when it comes to explaining to the readers just how their something rose from nothing.

The Week That Remains

This week’s assortment of authors either know the Little Book by heart or have the natural ability to know when they are in trouble. We feature one debut performer and some frequent flyers. All told (or “tolled”), the tower bell has issued a combined 154 rings for the following writers and it won’t be still long.

Frederick K. Foote opened the week. He is only the fourth of our several hundred published writers to pass the 80 acceptance mark. Number 79, A Hell of a Story, Part 2 is brilliant to the degree that you do not need to have read Part One to understand and enjoy it (but if you haven’t read the first one, I entreat you to look up last week’s stories and you will be rewarded). Fred has a wonderful sense of timing and a great ear for spoken language that he accurately conveys by an expert hand.

Tuesday brought us number 22 from our friend Harrison Kim. The Music of Lana Jardine is a fine example of Harrison’s way of holding a prism to reality and creating an image that adds depth and extracts colors to and from events and characters.

Whoever said it’s a man’s world was wrong on Wednesday, Our lone debut author, Ann Harper Reed, proved that it is anyone’s world who’s smart and resourceful enough to take it. A Left Handed Woman has a gentle wit to it that is impossible to resist. The half flirty relationship between the MC and the craftsman is quite moving and we hope to see more from Ann soon.

Quickly ascending Peter O’Connor made his third appearance in s short time with A New World on Thursday. This is a brilliant little gotcha that you cannot disclose too much of to readers other than encourage them to read it. Now. So well done. “Is that a dog?” is a brilliant little touch.

Speaking of milestones, the next time Adam Kluger is accepted will mark his 50th, which will make him only the fifth to reach that mark. Adam’s fly on the wall powers are always evident in his works, and this remains the same in number 49, Iced Coffee. Lots of writers attempt this sort of thing, but few can find the correct groove as well as Adam.

There they are. Let’s have a hand for this week’s guest stars before this piece devolves, as it must, to reach the end.

The Eight Articles of Rat Bastard

I recently came across an article written by a Pretentious Hipster Doofus (aka, PHD), who is bent on further complicating the already overblown rules of English Grammar. This person (with the support of fellow persons overeducated to the degree of uselessness) wants to open a ninth part of speech, the determiner. The idea is to label possessive pronouns that behave like adjectives (Yours for instance) as determiners. It makes some sense, but since most people do not know what the eight parts of speech are, it seems superfluous at best and somewhat annoying overall.

I finally memorized the eight parts of speech the following way. This happened in Junior High School in a county that spends more money on jails than education. And here they are:

Noun: Principal Rat Bastard

Pronoun: rat bastard

Interjection: Rat Bastard!

Adjective: A rat bastard Principal.

Adverb: The Principal said, in rat bastardly tone

Verb: The PTA rat-bastarded the Principal a new one

Preposition: Location of the activity and PTA position inferred by the verb form

Conjunction: “Conjunction junction, what’s your Rat Bastard Function?”


18 thoughts on “Week 406:Beware of the Vicars of Obfuscation; the Week that Remains and the Eight Articles of Rat Bastard”

  1. Now that is an excellent segue … from creation of the universe to writing. I googled rat bastard and learned that “The Rat Bastard Protective Association was founded in 1957 by the artist Bruce Conner and the poet Michael McClure.” Who knew? Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you David
      I have long suspected a Rat Bastard organization due to their staggering numbers. I imagine they gather in foreclosed widow’s homes and plot the future of world Rat Bastardry . Thank you as always!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. After an unfortunate enrolling in an online writing course, I’ve decided to go with street cred rather than education when it comes to writing. When a journal says one space after sentences, cut adverbs, or other book learning, I have my reservations. “We follow the Chicago Style” but I don’t live in Chicago.

    Applauding s/he (compared they, ze, beezelbug or the others), but s/he/it is funnier to this immature old guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Doug
      I recall a classmate asking our teacher why it was called “Chicago style.” She did what she always did when she didn’t know the answer to a question: Scowl. Kitsap County, USA isn’t known for great scholarship, but there’s a Crazy Eric hamburger joint that makes up for some of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ve got Burgerville for their most excellent shakes featuring Oregon stuff – filberts, berries in season, but Giant Burger has gone downhill. When we lived in Corte Madera CA a local place had exotic burgers (ostrich, …)

        Former novelist, sister Alex (formerly Sharon Hawley, which is weird because I’m married to [a different] Sharon Hawley) lives in Oak Park adjacent to Chi town, where Chicago manual would make sense.

        A long time friend lived in Bothell (rhymes with brothel), now in Honolulu.

        Ranting, Riting, Rolling & Rocking

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Doug
      My friend who was born and raised in Salem claims that they had the best onion rings in the world at a little cafe near OSU, where she worked for a time. That is a bold claim, even for a Beavers fan. All this talk has me headed out for lunch. Thanks again!


      1. Keep on eating in the free world. Do you ever get to Burgerville (hq Vantucky WA)? Don’t know how far north they go. They have a short Walla Walla (town they liked so much they named it twice) onion ring etc season.

        Is our Nw tete-a-tete weird to the rest of LSdoM?

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Ha! To all:
      Oregon USA is a fine place. Global warming is not so slowly changing it’s climate to that of Qatar. Migrating Birds that used to pass over on their way to California are beginning to roost in Portland, which saves considerable water on the wings.
      Portland also smells even more strongly of weed than my state’s largest city, Seattle, which is saying plenty. The perpetual contact high the Northwest region experiences has led to some of the nation’s best food stands. So come on over and bring your euros and yen! God knows we could use the business.
      A free tourism plug for the Pacific Northwest by Leila Allison!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am wondering why the material world would develop in the way it has without consciousness. Our chance of existing as individuals in the universe is one in four hundred quadrillion. I bring you this koan: “Nothing is greater than God, therefore, God is greater than nothing.” Now I shall eat a bagel with cream cheese. I have been to Portland. Good bookstores, interesting architecture….. but then, that was back in 1995.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have lived in the Portland are twice (but not much within the city) 1943-1965 and 1997 – . First time skid road (not row) was a short portion of West Burnside now much of the town has people living on sidewalks. Traffic is worse, crime is worse. You might say it sucks. I live in a “rich” suburb just south of Portland (Lake Oswego). Despite LO’s reputation, if you don’t live on the lake, it is just as absurdly expensive as the rest of urban Oregon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Leila,
    A very thought provoking post.
    I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the ‘elite’ had kept the bible to themselves.
    Probably nothing good as they would have expected us to follow something that was unfeasible, unknown and without understanding or proof – So no change there then!
    ‘Rat Bastard’ is a fine term as is ‘Rat Motherfucker’. But ‘Rat Motherfucker’ just edges it due to the coolness of Mr Zombie!!! (As per the song – Sick ‘Bubblegum’ – To be honest, that is the wrong lyric, it is ‘Rock Motherfucker’ but since I had miss-heard that for years, I’m going with it!!!)


    1. Thank you Hugh-
      Dragula was just on the unsteady jukebox. Love burning through the Witches and all his little demons and hotrods. Just watched a documentary the other day about the Church selling indulgences like hotdog venders about five hundred years ago. So, that’s where Jim and Tammy Baker and the rest got the idea!


  5. Also, thanks to Diane for having the image on file. Little Jack and Jill still happy until they get to English class and discover that they must now memorize a ninth part of speech. Poor kids.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.